Shoot 'em Up
Why review it? Title says it all.
Apart from the failed Harley Davidson and the Marlboro Man, Shoot 'em Up may be
the first movie which is truly post-post modernist. I suppose Pulp Fiction is a
post-modernist film if for no other reason than it derives nothing from life
first-hand. It is not a gangster movie about gangsters, ala Casino, but rather a
gangster movie about fictional gangsters and other gangster movies. Sin City is
similarly post-modernist in that it brings animation to a comic book which is
not about real people in the real world, but essentially about comic book characters
in their own plane of existence. Shoot em' Up removes the action one
level further from reality. While Pulp Fiction, Sin City, Besson's films,
Richie's films, and
their many imitators function simultaneously as homages to and satires of pulp
gangster stories, Shoot 'em Up functions as an homage to and satire of those
very films! Its characters are so broad and its action so outrageous that Vince
McMahon and Frank Miller would be envious. It's so surreal and over-the-top that
it seems to be a screen incarnation of Jim Steranko's wildest fantasies about
"Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D." The star, Clive Owen, even
resembles Steranko's Fury, right down to the permanent stubble, lacking only the
signature eyepatch to make the impersonation perfect. (The actual Fury character was played
by David Hasselhoff in the lame official adaptation. It might have been a decent
movie with Owen in the lead.)
Does it all work?
If you watch any individual scene in the film, you might find it wildly
entertaining. Here are three examples:
Clive Owen has a shoot 'em up with some baddies while he midwifes a baby,
cutting the umbilical cord with a well-placed bullet.
Clive Owen has a shoot 'em up with more baddies while he's having sex with
Monica Bellucci, never withdrawing from her and bringing her to a climax as he
blasts away. After capping the thugs, he also caps the action with a quip, James
Bond style: "Talk about shooting your load."
Clive Owen has a shoot 'em Up with some baddies in mid air, after they all jump
from a plane. After he reaches the ground safely, Clive walks through a field
strewn with the bodies of his enemies, all fallen from the heavens, all dead
before they hit the ground.
I could go on, but the rest of the list would consist of items similar to those
above: outrageous, tongue-in cheek action battles with fewer nuances than a WWE rivalry,
with comic book anti-heroes and villains.
The plot, such as it is, involves a corrupt Senator who needs a bone marrow
transplant. Lacking the donors, he plans to impregnate gazillions of woman and harvest the
compatible bone marrow from his own offspring. He doesn't even plan to get the
women pregnant the fun way, as Bill Clinton might do in the same situation. They
are artificially inseminated.
Clive Owen, doing his usual neo-Bogart reluctant hero schtick, gets caught in between the
Senator's minions and a woman about to give birth to one of the babies. The
unshaven, angry Owen somehow ends up caring for the baby, enlisting the aid of a
lactating hooker named DQ. (She's the baby's "Dairy Queen," get it?) An infinite
supply of baddies comes after Clive, led by an evil genius named Mr. Hertz (Paul Giamatti), whose only vulnerability is that he's a henpecked husband whose wife
objects when he comes home later than planned from a night of brutal slaughter
and torture. Despite his brilliance, his ruthlessness, and his army of thugs,
Mr. Hertz is unable to reign in our hero for more than a few moments. By
the end of the film Clive builds up a body count that must rival Stalin's.
I'm confident that if you watch any one scene from the film, you will get the
urge to see the entire production, as I did. And yet when all of those scenes
are strung together, the film tends to wear out its welcome, even at an
economical running time.
It's no simple task to write a review of such a film. Shoot 'em Up is the
cinematic equivalent of eating an entire box of rich chocolates in one sitting -
every bit of it is delicious, but the cumulative effect is a sense of being
over-sated. It's witty and crazy and fun ... but it may be too much of a good
thing, or maybe the same good thing too many times. How do you sum it all up
when you love every scene in the film and find it all to be touched by mad
genius, but just got tired of it after a while?
I guess I just did.
Critics leaned toward the positive (64% at RT), but were sharply divided, as you
might expect in reaction to an over-the-top black comedy. Roger Ebert admired
the film's audacity (three and a half stars), while James Berardinelli started
out enthralled by it, then found that it got old after about the first third of
the film (two and a half stars).
Since the film was lensed in Toronto, it seems appropriate that
from the Toronto Star (two stars) summarized the film best:
"If John Woo had directed a Bugs Bunny cartoon written by the creators of South
Park, the result might be something like Shoot `Em Up, but with a crucial
difference: Bugs Bunny cartoons were always less than 10 minutes long."
C+ on our scale. If the description appeals to you, it is a film worth seeing because it is
bold and funny.
It would appeal especially to those who liked Sin City.
The film clips and captures are of poor quality, since they are taken from one
of those hand-cam bootlegs (I gather). Yesterday's film clip of Bellucci,
although tiny, was superior, and is the source of the collages.
* Yellow asterisk: funny (maybe).
* White asterisk:
Blue asterisk: not mine.
No asterisk: it probably
Catch the deluxe
version of Other Crap in real time, with all the bells and whistles,
Sex Files: Virtual Sex (1998) is a compilation of recycled
scenes, out-takes and "coverage camera" footage from other Sex Files
films. The premise centers on the theft of a virtual reality
machine, including disks of the most puzzling Sex Files cases. Two
crooks are in a bidding war for the machine, and naturally everyone
must try it, hence all the recycled scenes.
A nudity summary will encapsulate the rest of the film's appeal:
- Lauren Hays does full frontal and rear in two scenes as the
thief. These are two of the three original scenes in this film.
- Blake Pickett shows full frontal and rear nudity in one scene from
Mr. X, and the other original scene shot for this film.
- Ahmo Hight shows breasts in a scene from Restless Souls
- Jamaica Charley shows breasts and buns in a scene from Mr. X, and
another scene I didn't recognize.
- Lauren Miller shows breasts in a scene from Mr. X.
- Jacquelin Lovell shows full frontal in a train car sex scene I
- Delphine Pacific shows full frontal and rear in a scene I didn't
Some of the footage from other film projects did not actually
appear in the films it was shot for.
Hays has screen presence, the plot is not engaging and the action
entirely of tepid sex scenes. The reason to watch the film is the
copious exposed flesh, which barely
lifts the film up to minimal genre standards, assuming one watches
nudie films for the nudity.
Class of 1984
The Time Machine goes back to 1982 for a very violent film.
The only significant nudity comes from Helena Quinton in her only credited screen appearance.
She does go full frontal plus some pretty ugly makeup.
Also an unknown shows breasts.
Notes and collages
Leonidas (Gerard Butler) is King of Sparta, that ancient race of warriors who believed in tempering the body and spirit through various
unpleasant trials including abandoning weak babies at birth.
Sparta, and all of Greece, is under threat from the army of Xerxes (Rodrigo Santoro), King of Persia, who has been cheerfully conquering Asia Minor and now has his sights set on Europe. Ambassadors come to broker a settlement, encouraged by
Sparta's wily and unscrupulous politician, Theron. Leonidas, however, has no intention of bowing before Xerxes and, egged on by his unfortunately named Queen Gorgo (Lena Headey), decides
to take the fight to the Persians.
Leading a handpicked crew of 300 of his finest men, he sets out to face the invading horde
of zillions of men and beasts.
The Comedy Wire
Comments in yellow...
Friday, a new Osama bin Laden tape was released, and it was a bit bizarre.
Of course, he denounced President Bush and the war, and urged Americans to
embrace Islam or die, but then he went rambling. He slammed the Democrats for
not ending the war faster, and lectured against capitalism, global warming, and
for some reason, the subprime mortgage crisis. Also, his scraggly, gray beard
was suddenly dark and thick, leading some analysts to wonder if he'd shaved to
disguise himself and put on a fake beard. Or, since the picture froze after 96
seconds and all the recent references were voiceover only, it could be a tape
filmed years ago with someone else's voice dubbed in.
* Maybe he simply dyed his beard dark with "Just For
Over the weekend, Oprah Winfrey hosted a star-studded fundraiser for Barack
Obama at her palatial California estate, where the rich and famous forked over
about $3 million. It's rumored that Oprah wants to become more involved in
campaigning for Obama to win the primary, even though records show she hasn't
voted in a primary herself since 1988.
* If Obama wins the primary, everyone who voted for him
gets A NEW CAR!!!
An unnamed woman in Florence, Oregon, was charged with arson and burglary after
she allegedly set fire to a neighbor's home because she thought the woman stole
her keys. Police say she broke into the neighbor's trailer, trashed it, used a
stuffed toy and lighter fluid to set it on fire, then dialed 911 and hid in the
bushes. Her boyfriend got a call at work and rushed home to find her barefoot
and incoherent. She finally got out that the neighbor had stolen her keys. He
asked if she meant those keys, and pointed to the keys hanging out of her pants
pocket. She began to cry.
* The good news: when she gets out of jail, she has a job
offer as a writer for "My Name Is Earl."