The Film Fatale

Scroll to Info & Navigation

KICK-ASS 2 (2013)
If you like needless violence masquerading as “fun”, then Kick-Ass 2 is the movie for you. The sequel to the Mark Millar-John Romita Jr. comic book movie follows Kick-Ass (Aaron Johnson) and Hit Girl (Chloë Grace Moretz) as they try to be regular high school kids in a world that has become more welcoming to both superheroes and supervillains. The first film was interesting because of the absurdity of its premise. What if regular folk donned costumes and fought crime without all the bells and whistles that super powers afforded? That was intriguing at least, and the 2010 flick was worth checking out if only for the way it parodied comic book culture. The sequel finds itself in the uncomfortable position of finding meaning after all the interesting commentary has been said and done, and unfortunately the result is a vapid, unnecessary project filled with eyeroll-worthy subplots and a theme of glorified violence that didn’t sit well with this moviegoer. 
It’s understandable why Jim Carrey, who plays Kick-Ass 2's Colonel Stars and Stripes, refused to do publicity for the film; it quite shamelessly celebrates violence with a revelry that was unpleasant to watch. What's worse, the film's only remotely interesting statement - that the world needs more real life superheroes who aren't afraid to stand up for good sans costume - came too little and too late. I had also read something that infuriated me even more about the film. Apparently Moretz's Hit Girl had to be rewritten because they deemed she was “too masculine”. Writer/director Jeff Wadlow's solution was to saddle Hit Girl with a dumb subplot involving Mean Girls-esque makeovers and catty (and ridiculously crude) high school shenanigans. Making a character more feminine apparently means throwing in crises involving fashion, first kisses and frivolous popularity contests. It was insulting to watch.
Yes, Kick-Ass is supposed to be absurd, deliberately over the top and distasteful. But the difference is that the first film was at least tolerable because of its satirical portrayal of superheroes and their often ridiculous influence on our pop culture-obsessed society. The sequel, on the other hand, just seemed like an excuse to use gross punchlines. While there was some merit in the film’s message that trying to be some kind of hotshot vigilante can get you or your loved ones killed, I’m afraid that this was completely overpowered by the movie’s glorification of mindless violence. It may have been trying to preach peace, but I think it inadvertently made the case for more violence and gore instead.  
"Justice Forever" may be the superhero motto in Kick-Ass 2, but there’s nothing just about the fact that this movie exists.

KICK-ASS 2 (2013)

If you like needless violence masquerading as “fun”, then Kick-Ass 2 is the movie for you. The sequel to the Mark Millar-John Romita Jr. comic book movie follows Kick-Ass (Aaron Johnson) and Hit Girl (Chloë Grace Moretz) as they try to be regular high school kids in a world that has become more welcoming to both superheroes and supervillains. The first film was interesting because of the absurdity of its premise. What if regular folk donned costumes and fought crime without all the bells and whistles that super powers afforded? That was intriguing at least, and the 2010 flick was worth checking out if only for the way it parodied comic book culture. The sequel finds itself in the uncomfortable position of finding meaning after all the interesting commentary has been said and done, and unfortunately the result is a vapid, unnecessary project filled with eyeroll-worthy subplots and a theme of glorified violence that didn’t sit well with this moviegoer. 

It’s understandable why Jim Carrey, who plays Kick-Ass 2's Colonel Stars and Stripes, refused to do publicity for the film; it quite shamelessly celebrates violence with a revelry that was unpleasant to watch. What's worse, the film's only remotely interesting statement - that the world needs more real life superheroes who aren't afraid to stand up for good sans costume - came too little and too late. I had also read something that infuriated me even more about the film. Apparently Moretz's Hit Girl had to be rewritten because they deemed she was “too masculine”. Writer/director Jeff Wadlow's solution was to saddle Hit Girl with a dumb subplot involving Mean Girls-esque makeovers and catty (and ridiculously crude) high school shenanigans. Making a character more feminine apparently means throwing in crises involving fashion, first kisses and frivolous popularity contests. It was insulting to watch.

Yes, Kick-Ass is supposed to be absurd, deliberately over the top and distasteful. But the difference is that the first film was at least tolerable because of its satirical portrayal of superheroes and their often ridiculous influence on our pop culture-obsessed society. The sequel, on the other hand, just seemed like an excuse to use gross punchlines. While there was some merit in the film’s message that trying to be some kind of hotshot vigilante can get you or your loved ones killed, I’m afraid that this was completely overpowered by the movie’s glorification of mindless violence. It may have been trying to preach peace, but I think it inadvertently made the case for more violence and gore instead.  

"Justice Forever" may be the superhero motto in Kick-Ass 2, but there’s nothing just about the fact that this movie exists.

This breathtaking dance sequence from Anna Karenina undoubtedly entailed a tedious amount of blocking from director Joe Wright and crew. Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, the film’s choreographer, describes the process of designing the elaborate, gorgeous dance as follows:

Cherkaoui set himself the task of inventing a variation on the waltz that would re-awaken it in all its allure. When he went “back into the books,” he says, “I read a lot about how the waltz was considered indecent. Not proper. It came from Poland” — a colonial outback by Russian lights — “but it seeped into the aristocracy, and people would do it because they couldn’t help themselves.
Waltzes can be like a cosmos,” he continues, “all these couples twirling around each other but also around the other couples. You would lean in to the arm of your partner in such a way that both partners have the feeling they have no weight.” They could spin all the way to the moon. They could fly too close to the sun. That thrill and danger resounds in the waltzes of Brahms, Tchaikovsky, Mahler, Ravel — and Marianelli, whose waltz for Anna and Vronsky grows progressively discordant the faster it turns.
“Anna and Vronsky’s passion is at the heart of the waltz,” Cherkaoui notes. The other couples freeze until the duo — “generating an energy like some kind of organic clockwork” — sweeps them along in its wake.  The choreographer did not meddle with the patterns of the feet — they lend the waltz its necessary force — but he embellished the arms and upper body to bring out the waltz’s strict comportment as well as its erotic appeal and to adapt it for the camera, which generally favors faces — “how people look at each other” — over feet.
As for the waltz’s legendary raciness, Cherkaoui began by thinking about the prescribed limits to touch at the 19th century ball: “You would hold the hand without the palms touching.” Only fingers were clasped. “Touching the inside of the hand was considered very intimate, very sensual.” In his version, only the lower arm’s pale undersides graze. The hands are free to undulate and unfurl like time-lapse vines winding up trellises and flowering. “The looseness of the wrist only suggests touch. The hands flow through one another like weaving. I wanted the waltz to be magical, and you know how when you cast a spell it is with the weaving of hands?” (x)

SAVAGES (2012)

Oliver Stone is one of those hit-or-miss directors. Wall Street and Natural Born Killers were solid flicks made mostly palatable by the magnetic performances of their leading men (Michael Douglas and Woody Harrelson respectively). And then there were the dark days of Oliver Stone, which include the hot mess that was Alexander (a movie that to this day I am still trying to forget) and the cringe-worthy World Trade Center. After seeing clips of his latest offering, Savages, I had high hopes that Stone would churn out a film on par with Natural Born Killers and we would see a return to form for the unpredictable director.

Based on the book by Don Winslow, Savages revolves around threesome O (Blake Lively), Ben (Aaron Johnson) and Chon (Taylor Kitsch), California wild children who just want to live free and preferably not die hard, with the help of some pot, of course. Ben and Chon make a pretty good living out of the pot growing business, until their success catches the attention of one of the Mexican drug cartels headed by the imposing Elena (Salma Hayek). After politely refusing Elena’s offer to join forces, things turn vicious for Ben and Chon when O is abducted. Yes, it’s a classic tale of a damsel in distress, except in this case, think of the Prince Charmings (yes, there are two - our Princess is a free love sorta gal) as guys who would go to whatever extremes to get their O back, including burning someone alive.

Read more