Why Does It Exist?

Archive for the ‘Reviews’ Category

Cloud 9 (2006)

In Reviews on February 16, 2012 at 12:14 am

Little known fact, Burt Reynolds has a sailor costume written into each and every contract.

One of the major talking points of the buzz surrounding Boogie Nights upon release was that Paul Thomas Anderson had pulled Burt Reynolds from his career doldrums and shown the world that, yes, Burt was still alive. When you actually look at the arc of Burt’s career, though, it looks a little more like Anderson fucked it forever. Sure, Reynolds was no longer the A-list star he had once been, but few 60-year-olds are. He’d been racking up credits in critically-acclaimed indies (Citizen Ruth), television shows that have yet to enter the pop-cultural subconscious (Evening Shade) and critically-panned, though mainstream Hollywood films (Striptease, Bean). Compare this stagnating-though-decent output with everything that came after it: when the highest profile roles you can get are a supporting role in a remake of your own movie and playing Boss Hogg in a highly-inessential Dukes of Hazzard movie, it looks more like life-support than a resurrection.

It’s in this period that one predictably finds the most inexplicable work of Burt’s career. From last week’s incomprehensible Not Another Not Another Movie to the Uwe Boll juggernaut In the Name of the King, Burt’s post-1997 career offers some real gems but a curious absence of real Burt movies, ones where he plays swaggering macho men who are equal parts Casanova and rapscallion. As its Wikipedia entry helpfully points out, however, Cloud 9 happens to be ‘the last comedy in which Reynolds reprised and updated his role as the charming rascal made legendary in films like The Longest Yard and Smokey and the Bandit.’ Those who thought that Burt has been reduced to the wheezing, sputtering King of In the Name of the King can finally rejoice! Also important to mention that, for all intents and purposes, Cloud 9 is a movie about strippers playing beach volleyball. With Burt Reynolds in it. Read the rest of this entry »

Advertisements

No Code of Conduct (1998)

In Reviews on October 27, 2011 at 9:51 am

I feel like any references to tiger blood, winning or warlocks would be cheap and inappropriate.

Klaus Kinski and Werner Herzog. Akira Kurosawa and Toshiro Mifune. Robert DeNiro and Martin Scorsese. Harvey Keitel and Scorsese. Leonard DiCaprio and Scorsese. The history of cinema is filled with electric partnerships between actors and directors, beautiful examples of artistic synergy that have created timeless works of art. Of all of these legendary collaborations, there was possibly none more promising than the creation of Sheen/Michaels Entertainment, a production company that united the larger-than-life talents of human trainwreck Charlie Sheen and cock-rock superstar Bret Michaels.

Or maybe not. Read the rest of this entry »

Live Freaky, Die Freaky! (2006)

In Reviews on October 13, 2011 at 9:39 am

Perhaps Live Freaky, Die Freaky!'s ultimate contribution to cinema was how it went on to inform Nicolas Cage's hairstyle choices for years to come.

The last time punk rock threatened to change the world was about 2002. Like all subcultures, the popularity and identity of punk ebbed and flowed and became totally irrelevant to the previous generation over the years. In 2002, I was still in high school and, for a brief period of time, the music that I listened to was on television. I can’t say I’m particularly proud of it, but I saw bands like Good Charlotte go from indifference to TRL right before my eyes. This was important to me, somehow, because I was still a dumb teenager. Cries of ‘Sellout!’ abounded (this was a time when making tons of money from music was not only possible, but highly frowned upon). Bands may have been signing to major labels left and right and producing what is now considered mostly embarrassing crap, but I knew that soon bands like Goldfinger and… whatever the fuck else I listened to would rule the airwaves.

(Please note that I am not here to argue about what is punk and what isn’t but rather what my teenaged mind considered punk. That is one of the more boring and endless debates of the entire Internet, which is no mean feat in itself.) Read the rest of this entry »

Cross (2011)

In Reviews on September 29, 2011 at 11:13 am

Pepcid AC works fast, bringing you the relief you so sorely need.

Although the idea of the mockbuster has recently taken on heretofore unseen proportions with indie studio The Asylum releasing shit like Snakes on a Train to capitalize on significantly higher-budgeted flicks, it’s an idea that’s practically as old as Hollywood itself. Take any genre or setting that was popular and you’ll find it has lots of scuzzier, cheaper imitators lying in its wake. Bonnie and Clyde spawned an enormous amount of period gangster pieces; Clerks made it possible for semi-talented schlubs around the world to make 90-minute dick joke compilations. This whole thing ended up hitting kind of a snag when superhero movies became popular. First off, they’re based on existing properties that could easily put you in murky legal waters if you ripped ‘em off. Secondly, they’re pretty much all amongst the most expensive movies ever made. Even a team as ambitious in its pursuits as the Asylum crew would be hard-pressed to fake their way around the expansive world-building of Spider-Man, for example. Yet this didn’t stop prolific DTV producer Patrick Durham from making his directorial debut on a dubiously Green Latern-like flick made for approximately 1% of the blockbuster’s (admittedly out-of-control) budget and substituting 2011’s hottest property (Ryan Reynolds) with 1995’s hottest property (Brian Austin Green).

How do you think it worked out? Read the rest of this entry »

The Ape (2005)

In Reviews on September 5, 2011 at 11:14 pm

This was originally pitched by Franco as the ending for Rise of the Planet of the Apes. It was not used.

When James Franco announced a few months back that he was tackling adaptations of both Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying and Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian as writer and director, the general consensus was a surprising “why not?”. Despite the overwhelming odds that faced Franco (both are considered impossible-to-adapt works and both have been tackled unsuccessfully several times in the past), no one seemed to think that Franco wasn’t up to the task. And why wouldn’t he be? Over the last couple of years, Franco has managed to get several degrees, publish a book of short stories, teach a class at NYU, have at least one art show of his work, host the Academy Awards, direct a documentary about Saturday Night Live and make recurring appearances on General Hospital while also starring in movies that run the gamut from the very serious (127 Hours) to the very dumb (Your Highness).

But apart from his supernatural proficiency at juggling what amounts to basically five lives, there wasn’t much in Franco’s oeuvre that suggested he could actually write and direct a narrative feature film. His extensive portfolio features documentaries and prominent experimental shorts (like the ones he made to coincide with R.E.M.’s last album) but nothing nearly as ambitious as Blood Meridian. What few know is that Franco already has four features under his belt; the only one that has seen any kind of home-video release thus far, however, is his second effort: 2005’s The Ape, a straight-to-DVD release that features Franco rolling his eyes at a gorilla wearing a Hawaiian shirt on the cover. Read the rest of this entry »

Gunslinger’s Revenge (1998)

In Reviews on August 25, 2011 at 12:37 pm

Why yes, that is a cross drawn on the Thin White Duke's forehead, why do you ask?

I think a good part of my inexplicable fascination with rock stars in film roles is the fact that, more often than not, rock stars are incapable of shedding their persona for the purposes of the film. Someone like Mick Jagger has spent close to fifty years (Christ almighty) acting like some sort of walking embodiment of sex, Satanism and letting the good times roll (and in later years, of overstated mincing and mullet-like haircuts), so why should he suddenly drop the act that has essentially taken over his entire state of being? That’s why almost all of the good rock star performances are basically just a version of themselves (as in Jagger’s Performance). David Bowie is one of the only musician-turned-actors who has actually managed to shed the constraints of his stage persona on the silver screen, owing most probably to the fact that there has never been a ‘true’ Bowie persona for more than a few years at a time.

It’s true that his performance in The Man Who Fell to Earth isn’t far removed from his Ziggy Stardust stuff and his turn as Nikolai Tesla in The Prestige takes full advantage of his gnomish, kd lang-esque current incarnation but Bowie has nonetheless succeeded in delivering performances in films wherein he does more than simple affectless posturing. On the other hand, like 99% of musicians who turn to acting, his choice of roles has landed him in truly inexplicable places like a low-budget Canadian children’s film or going to Italy to make a western with Harvey Keitel. Read the rest of this entry »

Loose Women (1997)

In Reviews on August 7, 2011 at 5:26 pm

This week, on Goosebumps...

It’s certainly not unheard of for an actor who hits the big time to find one of their early projects re-released (or finding release for the first time) to capitalize on their new-found fame. It happened to Bradley Cooper this year with a ten-year-old rom-com named Breaking All the Rules; it happened to Amy Adams with a similarly terrible-looking flick called Moonlight Serenade. While it’s certainly a pretty cheap move by whoever holds the rights to the movie, it’s pretty excusable by the fact that there now exists an audience where there was once mass apathy.  Compare that to the flaming trainwreck covered in exploding babies that is Charlie Sheen’s life. Read the rest of this entry »

Bait Shop (2008)

In Reviews on July 26, 2011 at 12:23 am

The country world's answer to 50 Cent? Read on.

I was originally going to study the vast majority of 50 Cent’s acting portfolio on Why Does It Exist? until it occurred to me that it may be perceived that I have a bone to pick against rappers in general and Fiddy in particular. That couldn’t be further from the truth. What it boils down to is a simple question of mass: there are simply way more rappers willing to take six hours out of their day to make an embarrassing appearance in an embarrassing flick than in any other musical genre.

Of course, there’s only one other musical genre that manages to rake in millions and millions of dollars a year while remaining relatively separate from the mainstream and that’s country music. Glorious, shit-kickin’, proud-to-be-‘Merican country music with its gloriously autotuned warbling and comically-oversized Stetsons. The mainstream country industry (by which I mean shit like Keith Urban, Tim McGraw, Toby Keith, Alan Jackson and the like – not Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson or Merle Haggard) is a train that keeps chugging whether we blue-staters (or, in my case, godless pinko Canadians) notice or not. That having been said, its cinematic output is considerably smaller than one would expect and a lot of it is of the cancerous-little-girl-bonds-with-pony variety. When its stars are not stretching their tear ducts on the Hallmark Channel, they tend to appear in considerably larger projects like Country Strong. I truly thought that country music and the entire Southern half of the United States had managed to get away from me until I came across a miracle man by the name of Billy Ray Cyrus. Read the rest of this entry »

Band of the Hand (1986)

In Reviews on July 9, 2011 at 12:11 pm

RUFIO! RUFIO! RUFIO!

When did irony become so all-encompassing as to all but eliminate honest from cultural products? Somewhere in the early 90’s, apathy and self-awareness became a de facto part of creating pop culture. Rock stars were no longer carnal demi-gods completely lost in their own awesomeness; they were replaced by bored-looking dudes from the suburbs in ill-fitting clothes making one hell of a racket. Action movies replaced their own superhuman jingoism with a cynical, snarky self-awareness that turned the movies into big jokes. While films like Commando certainly had a sense of humour about them, they certainly didn’t poke fun at themselves and the genre. They were designed to be awesome to eight-year-olds and crusty academics alike. Twenty years later, we live in a world where blockbuster action films like Machete rewrite the history of low-budget action filmmaking and the only irony-less rockstars are preening chodes like Bono. It has become resolutely uncool to be cool on purpose and resolutely cool to be uncool on purpose.  Obviously I’m not against the idea of irony or else I wouldn’t have a website where I wilfully subject myself to cultural detritus, but sometimes I weep for the death of really honest, really dumb ideas. While I certainly could’ve done without pretty much everything Pink Floyd ever did, completely unhinged bonkers shit like The Who’s Tommy would never have existed in a post-ironic world. Read the rest of this entry »

Homo Erectus (2007)

In Reviews on June 28, 2011 at 11:04 pm

Holy shit.

Is there any comedy subgenre that has produced as much failure and embarrassment as the caveman comedy? From Ringo Starr in the dopey Caveman, the lame live action Flintstones movie, e to the opening scenes of the generally-overrated Mel Brooks film History of the World – Part I, this admittedly very narrow subgenre hasn’t yielded much in the way of classic comedy. Even the genre’s highest profile example, Year One, was a surprisingly unfunny flick that nonetheless managed to snag some top-shelf talent. Of course, the reasons for the genre’s popularity are obvious: we don’t know much about the time period but the relatively rudimentary way of life of the period obviously involved lots of butt-fucking and shitting in the woods (in fact the best-known serious caveman movie, Quest for Fire, contains more butt-fucking and woods-shitting than all of the aforementioned combined), both of which are objectively hilarious. Read the rest of this entry »