‘Machete’ lacks energy of great exploitation cinema
Danny Trejo stars in “Machete.”
** 1/2 (out of four)
2010, Robert Rodriguez, U.S., R
- New Films
The following movie starts Wednesday, Sept. 15:
“Never Let Me Go”
Director: Mark Romanek.
Stars: Keira Knightly, Carey Mulligan.
The Plot: Set in a dystopian Britain, boarding school friends
Ruth , Kathy and Tommy face the sobering reality that awaits them
all as they mature into adults.
Genre: Drama, thriller.
The following movies start Friday, Sept. 17:
Director: Will Gluck.
Stars: Emma Stonem Amanda Bynes.
The Plot: As she studies The Scarlet Letter, high schooler Olive
Penderghast notices her parallels to the novel and begins to work
the school’s rumor mill to advance her social and financial
Genre: Comedy, romance.
Director: Ben Affleck.
Stars: Ben Affleck, Rebecca Hall.
The Plot: Career thief Doug MacRay considers deepening his
relationship with Claire, a bank teller who was traumatized by a
recent heist — and who has no idea that Doug was behind the crime.
Meanwhile, an investigator, who is close to unmasking Doug’s secret
life, wrestles with his feelings for Claire.
Genre: Crime, drama.
- Film Roundup
“Centurion” opens in 117 A.D. in the midst of a long and bloody
war between Rome and the Picts, an infinitely resourceful alliance
of Celtic tribes who are using guerrilla tactics to successfully
fight off the invading Roman army. During one of their attacks on a
Roman outpost, the Picts capture a particularly spirited fighter
named Quintus Dias (Michael Fassbender, best known from “Hunger”
and “Inglourious Basterds”), who is tortured but soon escapes his
captors to rejoin the ranks. These centurions are headed by General
Titus Virilus, a ferocious fighter and commander who is ordered to
lead his men into one final, decisive battle against the Picts.
I’ve always subscribed to Roger Ebert’s philosophy that it isn’t
what a film is about that’s important, but how it is about it. To
demonstrate: “Piranha 3D” could easily have been a complete failure
— indistinguishable from the string of lifeless, torturously
boring, bargain-basement, direct-to-DVD titles that line the walls
at Blockbuster. Yet by embracing its genre history, by totally
abandoning any pretense of seriousness, and by delivering exactly
what viewers expect (and in great quantities), the film rises above
its station as a cheap exploitation picture. Instead of coming
across as sloppy or derivative, it instead functions wonderfully as
both a straight-up genre piece and a clever, self-aware satire of
the same genre constructs in which it indulges. This is pretty
heady stuff for a movie about a swarm of man-eating fish.
This is what I’m talking about when I say that modern action
movies should offer more creativity and flair — nobody expects
great dialogue or fantastic acting in a “braindead action movie,”
but for God’s sake, don’t you want engaging set-pieces and likable
characters and awesome kills and coherent action sequences and
everything else that makes an action movie enjoyable? As an
old-school throwback to ’80s action sensibilities, “The
Expendables” delivers all this in spades, and in the process
underlines everything that is wrong with Hollywood’s traditional
approach to the genre.
Posted: Saturday, September 11, 2010 12:00 am
We’re back with a look at Robert Rodriguez’s hotly anticipated
exploitation tribute “Machete.“ Next week, we will (schedule
permitting) take a break from the reviews with a more thorough
preview of what you can expect from Battle Royale, the
News-Sentinel’s new movie blog that will expand the scope of our
film discussions with some fresh perspectives from new writers and,
hopefully, more reader interaction.
After that we’re back in the fray with a review of Ben Affleck’s
sophomore directorial effort “The Town” — my most anticipated movie
of the whole year, and a fitting kickoff to the Oscar-bait-heavy
fall movie season.
Saturday, September 11, 2010 12:00 am.