Who’s Minding the Store: 30 January, 2007

[29 January 2007]

By Bill Gibron

PopMatters Contributing Editor

If you’re into cinematic cheese, this week brings a heady combination of campy cheddar and goofy Gruyere. Even our SE&L pick is one of the Fall’s least anticipated films (though we here at the blog dug its ADD inspired trailer), while the alternate title is one of horror’s most repugnant offerings. In between, you’ll find failed jingoism, lame lampooning, sobering science fiction, and one of the most misguided action films ever helmed. It’s enough to make you save your disposable income for next week’s stellar line-up. In any case, here are the selections for 30 January:

The Marine

Every once in a while, even the most considered film fan needs a cleansing motion picture purgative. A few weeks back, the Jason Statham epic Crank was the entertainment ipecac du jour. This time around, Vince McMahon and his WWE-based film division give John Sena his own ‘80s throwback action film. Presenting the simplest of stories – a former jarhead must save his wife from wisecracking jewel thieves – and lots of explosions (no, make that LOTS of EXPLOSIONS!!!) first time filmmaker John Bonito shows great adeptness at creating cinematic fireworks. An extended chase scene along a busy highway crackles with kinetic energy, and the many fight scenes rely heavily on Cena’s ‘boytoy as bruiser’ abilities. If you want big, dumb and loud, this is your E-ticket to excess.

Other Titles of Interest

The Arrangement

Based on his own novel, Elia Kazan’s story of second chances is one of the director’s least remembered efforts. Featuring Kirk Douglas, a very young Faye Dunaway and Deborah Kerr, the tale of a rich man looking for happiness after a near death experience is a dense, performance-based piece from a man known for eliciting amazing acting turns. 

Farce of the Penguins

On paper, it should work. Comic Bob Saget sends up March of the Penguins, dragging famous ‘voices’ Samuel L. Jackson, Jason Alexander, Lewis Black, and Gilbert Gottfried in for the South Pole satire. Unfortunately, nature footage supplemented with silly jokes is just not that funny. Some may find the combination clever. Most will prefer the original doc.


Flyboys

Dean Devlin, famous for strident summer blockbusters like Independence Day and Stargate lends his producing cred (and rumor has it, own money) to this superficial story about American flyers who volunteered to help the French before America entered World War I. Nothing more than an old fashioned ‘why we fight’ effort loaded with up to date technology.

Gymkata

After his success in International Gymnastics, it was hoped that Kurt Thomas could translate his athleticism into the action hero genre. The result was this loony movie, a strange story of a small country, it’s militarily strategic land, and a weird competition called The Game. Add in the title talent and you’ve got an amazingly misguided mess.

Looker

Before he was known for his mega-blockbusters like Jurassic Park (and on TV, ER) Michael Crichton tried to make serious sci-fi in the face of the growing Star War-ing of the genre. Ahead of its time, this bit of plastic surgery speculation offers Albert Finney, James Coburn, and a terrifying take on the ‘anything for beauty’ ideal.

And Now for Something Completely Different

Maniac

Boy, did this movie cause a fright film firestorm when it was first released. Featuring a sleazy sexploitation vibe, and autopsy like make-up effects by noted terror technician Tom Savini, this seedy addition to the slasher genre found filmmaker William Lustig delivering a dark and disgusting take on the new slice and dice fad. About as far removed from Halloween and Friday the 13th as you can get, what we have here is a disturbing story of a man (Joe Spinelli) who kills and mutilates women to compensate for the abuse he experienced as a child. Placing their freshly shorn scalps on mannequins, he hopes to quell his pain and anger. Considered horribly misogynistic at the time, the decades have not really lessened its grotesque grindhouse impact.

 

Published at: http://www.popmatters.com/pm/post/whos-minding-the-store-30-january-2007/