This Week In Cinema: January 13-19, 2013

flammen & citronen

If I were a war time assassin I would definitely suggest a better nickname that Citronen, I mean, c’mon!

Another week with a decent number of films,

Sharktopus (2010, Declan O’Brien, United States Of America) *

It didn’t surprise me that Roger Corman was attached to Sharktopus in some capacity. Sharktopus is a film that had the hallmarks of some of Mr. Corman’s worst, and by worst I actually mean finest, work. It’s terrible in all the right places and more than content with being an atrocious film. It didn’t quite reach the transcendent level of a terrible film that is so terrible it becomes great. But, Sharktopus was so terrible that it was a lot of fun to watch. Stupid people doing stupid things, bad acting, wonderfully cheesy line readings, and some of the worst CG I’ve ever seen. Yep, Sharktopus was terrible in spades, but that’s what make it so much fun.

In The Loop (2009, Armando Iannucci, United Kingdom) ***

Mean is sometimes just mean, no matter how much truth may be behind the meanness. That was my experience with In The Loop, and often funny film that was in the end too mean for its own good. Not to mention too loud at times, even if that did lead to some of the funnier jokes. I can forgive the loudness and I can even understand the reasons the film has for being mean. But, when the film had finished I realized that all the truths of the film had been revealed in the first twenty or so minutes and the remainder of the film was spent making mean jokes. Now, some of those were funny, but more of them were mean spirited and not that funny.

Flammen & Citronen (Flame And Citron, 2008, Ole Christian Madsen, Czech Republic/Denmark/Finland/France/Germany/Norway/Sweden) ***

There’s substance to Flammen & Citronen, but there’s also an excess of plot. The setting is great, the noir trappings that the film covers itself in work wonderfully, and the two leads are both compelling. Hero worship, or more pointedly what makes someone a hero and does it really matter if you’re a hero when it costs you your morals is examined in a thoroughly fascinating manner. But, somewhere within the two hour and fifteen minute run time the film loses track of what it’s really about and devolves into a standard shoot em up. At that point Flammen & Citronen becomes nothing more than a typical Hollywood production where the focus is on the bullets flying and the twists being thrown at the viewer. But, before that Flammen & Citronen was an interesting viewing experience, it’s too bad it couldn’t sustain itself.

X-Men: First Class (2011, Matthew Vaughn, United States Of America) ***

I dig me some X-Men, and I dig me some James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, and Jennifer Lawrence apparently. I wasn’t quite happy with the way that the film handled one of those characters in the end, in fact I’d say the decision that is made by this character does not jive with the character as presented in the rest of the movie at all (at least not when it came to making the decision that character did at a point in time in the film when things were happening that should have stopped said decision). The story was way too cluttered and all over the place, but I still had a good time. I know that is a criticism that people don’t like, but it fits here. I had fun watching Kevin Bacon villain it up, and I really liked watching Magneto and Professor X grow. I hope that as the prequels continue they can work on the pacing and the breadth of the story, but I’m confident in the future of the X-Men franchise again, and after X:Men: The Last Stand that’s saying something (I still have yet to bring myself to see X-Men Origins: Wolverine).

Father And Daughter (2001, Michael Dudok de Wit, Belgium/Netherlands/United Kingdom) ***

The animation is simple and yet at the same time it is lovely to look at. Lovely is, however, the main issue I had with Father And Daughter. It’s a well made short with handsome animation, but it didn’t grab me the way I had hoped. The emotional resonance I was expecting never came, and that made the emotional moments lesser for me. Father And Daughter is a pleasant short, and I really did dig the animation, but it never grabbed me and that’s why it’s merely a pleasant film and not a great one.

The Lorax (2012, Kyle Balda & Chris Renaud, United States Of America) **

The Lorax certainly looks good, animation wise that is, and it has a message I can get behind. That being said, this is an incredibly dumb movie, and very, very boring. There’s very colorful animation popping on the screen and the story is as dull as dishwater. Also, for as much as I agree with the message it’s presented in such a heavy handed fashion that it gets real old real quick. Then there is the lack of intelligence shown by the screenplay and the dialogue. The book by Dr. Seuss is simple and very smart, but in its search to appeal to some unknown audience the film loses all of the nuance and straightforward smarts of Dr. Seuss’ great work. In a year of terrific animation, The Lorax simply isn’t up to snuff.

Wrap-Up:

Not a great week for movies, but I did get to watch a few worthwhile movies. Of the bunched up grouping that were good enough to be movie of the week I knew immediately that I had to go with the one that did not have the blandest of the bland in January Jones, and that eliminated X-Men: First Class. Of the remaining films it was easy enough to pick Flammen & Citronen as the best of the bunch. For its handsome production values and its cast Flammen & Citronen takes home movie of the week honors. Until next week, watch more movies!

Cheers,
Bill

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