REVIEW: The Dark Knight Rises (2012)

Nolan's back to finish off his Bat trilogy, but does the threequel live up to its predecessors?

REVIEW: The Amazing Spider-Man (2012)

Spidey's back, with Marc Webb's controversial reboot finally swinging into cinemas. Can he justify it?

REVIEW: Rock of Ages (2012)

So, as it turns out, yes, Tom Cruise *can* sing. What more do you want?

REVIEW: Prometheus (2012)

Ridley Scott marks his return to sci-fi with this sort-of-an-Alien-prequel. But does it live up to the hype?

REVIEW: Casa de mi Padre (2012)

Yep. It's all in Spanish. And it's all batshit crazy.

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Hobo With A Shotgun [Review]

Timeliness is out of the window tonight, ladies and gentleman: with a film now over a year old up for scrutinisation. But when that film is rollicking grindhouse brawl Hobo With A Shotgun, I expect timeliness is the last thing on people’s minds.

Rutger Hauer is the man behind the beard. You might remember him from such films as Blade Runner, Sin City and, um, Goal II: Living the Dream. Anyway, he’s acted in approximately 138 films (according to IMDB), so chances are you may have seen him in something. Suffice to say, he’s  a bloody good actor. And he doesn’t let up in Hobo With A Shotgun; a film which, you may have realised by now, does exactly as it says on the tin.

Hauer, the unnamed titular hobo hero, rolls into ‘Scum’ Town on a train and is soon bestowed with a show, courtesy of local crime kingpin Drake and his villainous sons. Within minutes both Hauer and the audience (both on and offscreen) have played witness to a decapitation. We soon move onto broken arms, shattered feet, hellish funfairs and torched buses. The violence doesn’t let up: and when our friendly neighbourhood hobo finds himself in the middle of a pawn shop robbery, he decides to take action into his own hands. His bare, merciless, shotgun-wielding hands.

Of course, there’s a bit more motivation to clean the streets than that everyone in Scum Town is a colossal fuckface. Hauer befriends a local lady of the night, Abby, in scenes reminiscent of Scorsese’s great Taxi Driver. In fact, just imagine Hauer as Travis Bickle turned up to eleven: if De Niro’s unhinged driver had indeed laid down his wrath upon more than just a few pimps in a whorehouse. Hobo With A Shotgun has a subtext, if you care to read that far into it, much in the same vein as Taxi Driver. But where the latter was a masterpiece of subtlety and character, Hobo With A Shotgun is... well, a hobo with a shotgun. Need I say more?

Indeed, the definition of grindhouse, this violent brawl through a suburban hellhole is bloody, grotesque and yet sickeningly moreish. Partly due to the cinematography – rather than a dull, murky world for Mr. Hobo to shoot the living crap out of, every colour pops with as much vividity as, well, the head of one poor victim who finds himself between two oncoming bumper cars at the funfair (I warned you it was hellish). Because yes, the villains in this really are villains (“when life gives you razor blades, make a baseball bat. And stick razor blades in it”). And don’t expect a hero to come jumping in at the last minute every time...

Brazen, ghastly and downright hilarious (one newspaper headline reads “HOBO GIVES UP BEGGING, DEMANDS CHANGE”), Hobo With A Shotgun was my introduction to the world of grindhouse. And I think I shall need none further. Take it with a pinch of salt, as it does itself, and you will be entertained. That’s a Cryteria guarantee.


Dir: Jason Eisener
Cast: Rutger Hauer, Gregory Smith, Molly Dunsworth
Whizbang Films, 86 mins, 15/07/11

Synopsis: A hobo rolls into town and decides to clean up the place. With none other than our good old friend, Mr. Shotgun...

Friday, 25 May 2012

Casa de mi Padre [Review]

Casa de mi Padre is pretty much one of the strangest films you will ever see. The plot is weird, the characters are weird, the sex scene is balls-to-the-wall (though thankfully not balls-to-the-camera) batshit weird. Oh, and lest I forget, there’s that one scene where a coyote, a lion and two Bengal tigers fight it out. Yep. That happens. Probably.

Matt Piedmont’s first cinematic release (following a handful of TV efforts), which is entirely in Spanish and therefore subtitled, by the way, depicts a pair of Mexican ranch-dwelling brothers, one half of whom has become embroiled in the world of drug-trafficking. The other half is Will Ferrell, looking completely out of place but sounding completely in place, and generally being himself. But Spanish.

Raul Álvarez (Diego Luna) is the drug-embroiled one, and he’s brought home apparently the only woman in Mexico, Sonia Lopez (Genesis Rodriguez). Which explains why everyone else seems to want her. Either way, she’s trouble for Raul, she’s trouble for Armando (Ferrell), and trouble for pretty much their entire way of life. So, this is a film about trouble in Mexico. There’s guns, there’s horses, there’s a ranch, and there’s corrupt American cops. The whole shebang.

Sadly, it never quite gels together. It’s labelled as a comedy – the tagline being ‘the funniest film you’ll ever read’ – but you wouldn’t know it otherwise. There’s the odd few laughs here and there, but only mingled among talking wildcats, seriously WTF? dream sequences (though further reading indicates these are apparently replete with Will Ferrell’s films, unbeknownst to me) and a very loose plot.

Indeed, the main problem with Casa de mi Padre is its complete lack of direction. It just about hangs together for its 84 minute runtime (though even that ends up feeling bloated), but ultimately lacks focus, and we’re left wondering: who the hell is this film for? Is it an unfunny comedy? Is it a terrible spoof on Mexican-based westerns? Is it simply the result of Piedmont and Ferrell getting high one afternoon and writing something resembling a script?

Although if it was the latter, it would probably have had more laughs than this. Worth a watch, perhaps, but one that might have been better condensed into a short or skit.


Dir: Matt Piedmont
Cast: Will Ferrell, Diego Luna, Genesis Rodriguez, Gael García Bernal
NALA Films, 84 mins, 08/06/12

Synopsis: Two brothers find themselves in an all-out war with one of Mexico's most fearsome drug lords in an attempt to save their father's ranch. And the heart of the damsel in distress, of course...