Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Couple movie reviews

Nightmare on Elm Street (2010)
There's movies where they're so bad, they're good, and there's movies where they're just plain bad. Most of the Nightmare on Elm Street sequels fall under the heading of just plain bad. Freddy is too busy quipping and mugging for the camera than he is being scary. The only exception is Craven's New Nightmare - a movie that hasn't aged well, it's still worlds better than the previous entries in the series.
Now we come to Platinum Dunes' remake of the original. I'm not opposed to remakes of classics. Certainly the Friday the 13th remake is enjoyable and the Texas Chainsaw Massacre is one of the best looking movies I've ever seen (gorgeous cinematography). With this new remake, Freddy is recast, played by Jackie Earle Haley, one of my favourite "new" actors. He was the highlight of Watchmen and now he's the highlight of this movie.
That's about the nicest thing I can say about this movie. It's got this weird screenplay structure that puts Freddy right at the beginning, and slowly reveals why he's so front and centre. That's not a terrible choice, but this screenplay shift the focus on different protagonists as Freddy kills them off one by one. Very bizarre.
Once we come to the end, the final showdown has such a poor one-liner that I guffawed at the screen. I won't spoil it, but it's truly execrable.
The director does have a sense of flair for the visuals. There are some really neat sequences that show off this talent. It's a shame nobody thought to have a re-write on the dialogue.
Overall, it was just plain bad. Bad screenplay, horrible acting, the kills weren't ingenious, but Haley was great, and the visuals weren't too shabby.

Public Enemies
I'm a big Michael Mann fan. Huge. Heat and Collateral both make my Top 25 films of all time. I just recently re-watched Miami Vice and fell in love with it all over again. I finally got the chance to see Public Enemies, and again, I'm dumbfounded at Mann's amazing visual style. The digital camera work is toned down slightly, removing some grain, but increasing detail, which is nice. The handheld shots are surprisingly well composed, considering their implied improvisation.
Johnny Depp is whatever. I've always found him to be slightly overrated. When he's really good, he's stunning, like in Ed Wood or in the Pirates movies. But when he's average, he's just every other actor. With the exception of always being cool.
I'm tempted to compare this with L'ennemi public n°1, just because they came out around the same time and both deal with bank robberies. Public Enemies works a little bit better if only because of a tighter narrative structure, but the Mesrine movies have just so much more cool, which can't be helped as they're French. (Hell, even Depp realizes France is more cool - he lives there!).
The supporting cast is stellar, as usual with Mann movies, including Stephen Lang, better known for his role as the villain in Avatar. In that movie, and this, he's the stealer of scenes. His badass swagger, Eastwood-style squint, and his machismo always makes me think of Cormac McCarthy. Why doesn't this guy have more roles?
Public Enemies was good, but not great. It's a little cold, and at no point did I ever feel for Depp's character, a complaint I often level at Mann's films. Visually stunning, emotionally distant. Like a more edgy Kubrick.

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