VENUS IN FUR – ***

It's a nice poster. Probably the best thing about the film.

It’s a nice poster. Probably the best thing about the film. (Source)

Venus in Fur is, to put it plainly, a trifle. A trifle is hardly the worst thing a film could be, but for a critically-acclaimed outing from an Oscar-winning director, I expected a little more. But let’s break down the Rotten Tomatoes consensus on the film. “Provocative, funny, and brilliantly acted, Venus in Fur finds Roman Polanski in top late-period form.” Well, it’s a little provocative, I guess. There are a few chuckles to be had. The acting is good (“brilliant” is going a little far, though). “Top late-period form”? I mean, it’s about as good as The Ghost Writer (I’m sorry, that final twist was dumb), but it’s not even remotely as good as The Pianist.

It has its moments, but the ending ultimately reveals its lack of substance.

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THE PURGE: ANARCHY Review – **½

I know you want to be subversive, but it's going to take a better script than that. ()

I know you want to be subversive, but it’s going to take a better script than that. (Source)

Some films just don’t occasion much comment. The Purge: Anarchy is such a film. It’s not exactly bad, but it’s not especially good. It does at least try (vaguely) to be something more than a standard horror-thriller, and it does make more use of its premise than its predecessor, but it’s stuck with stock characters and mostly predictable scenarios. James DeMonaco does a decent-enough job of direction, but his script is pretty underwhelming.

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Taking a break

I’m starting to feel a bit of burn-out. Not that my love for movies has abated–not in the slightest. But I’ve been writing a lengthy (1,500 words or more; Snowpiercer was almost 4,000) review for every new movie I see, and a few older ones. And while it’s refreshing to be able to express my complete thoughts–for a long time I was just writing 500-character capsule reviews over at Criticker–after a while fatigue does begin to set in, and a feeling of repeating oneself becomes very hard to shake. 

On top of this, I’m on the verge of moving, and this summer (in film, at least) is kind of running out of steam. This coming weekend has Hercules and Lucy, both of which I’d like to see–but at the same time, the thought of writing lengthy reviews does not inspire me. I’m right now working through my reviews of The Purge: Anarchy and Venus in Fur (spoiler alert: neither are particularly great) and putting together a list of my most wanted films, and I’m finding my stores of inspiration running rather low.

So here’s the deal. Within the next 2-3 days, I plan to have the two reviews up. Then, I’m going to step away for a few days, perhaps up to a week, until I’m settled into my new place–and have seen Guardians of the Galaxy and Boyhood, two of my most anticipated films of the year. I’ll also weigh in on Hercules and Lucy at some point–maybe even do an article comparing them; that actually sounds like an idea–but there’ll be a period of relative inactivity on here, and it’s not out of indifference. It’s out of a desire to maintain a high standard.

If the biscuits are no good, what use is the gravy?

DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES Review – ***½

The horses had to make do with

The horses had to make do with Gulliver’s Travels. (Source)

The Planet of the Apes series has to be one of the bleakest franchises out there–of the eight films in the series to date, none has what could be considered a happy ending (the closest we get is the studio-imposed ending to Conquest of the Planet of the Apes; the Blu-Ray restores the original, very, very dark ending), and the ending to the 1968 original is one of the most famous downers in all of cinema. Thankfully, Dawn does not let the series down; without spoiling anything, the denouement is anything but rosy.

But it’s not a long, bleak trudge to that point. Dawn is a compelling thriller and a thrilling action film, a triumph of special effects that may well be the best entry in the series to date.¹

Now get out there and do it.

Now get out there and do it.

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TRANSFORMERS: AGE OF EXTINCTION Review – *½

The extinction of what, though? Entertainment? ()

The extinction of what, though? Entertainment? (Source)

For some cinephiles, Michael Bay is their bête noire, the embodiment of all that is wrong with movies today and a consistent source of over-edited, lowest-common-denominator garbage. I’m not quite one of them. Yes, Bay has made some awful films, but don’t forget that two of his films are in the Criterion Collection–The Rock and Armageddon. And the first Transformers movie was, all things considered, a pretty fun film. The second was much shakier (the story was messy, the humor was stupid when not offensive); I never bothered with the third, although it was less critically shredded than the second or fourth films. But, admittedly looking for a likely bad film to round out what has been a mostly good year, I took advantage of a discounted ticket and soldiered forth (ha ha); 165 minutes later, I emerged, sadder and wiser. Though not the worst film I’ve seen this year (Winter’s Tale is a bigger trainwreck), it comes close, an ugly, often boring film with ugly, off-putting characters.

It moves me to ask: how much robot fighting do you really want? Isn’t this just a little tedious by now? But first, let’s review the movie.

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Malta India Review

Despite the name, Malta India¹ hails from Puerto Rico. I’ve never heard of it, and honestly it stood out to me mostly because of the adorably diminutive bottle. But looking at the label–it’s a non-alcoholic malt beverage. So…I’m not totally sure what’s in store here.

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