Sunday, June 12, 2005

High Tension

Review By Michael Jaffe

This film was so fucking awesome and French and a rip off of 70s horror films, that it almost didn’t work. The plot is basic: a woman, Marie, and her friend go off into the French country side and in the middle of the night are attacked by a nameless guy in a truck who carries a shaving blade and is real creative in how he kills the family who lives in the house. Marie hides for a while and then when her friend is kidnapped by the psycho guy and then chases after them. The plot, as you can tell is thin, and the film isn’t very long, but the violence is a plenty as is the gore. The french version originally landed an NC-17 rating here in the states, and the version in theatres now has been cut down to an R rating, although it was still pretty gory. The acting is fine and the direction is cool. Alexandra Aja is obviously a big fan of 1970s american horror films, but he is still french and the french are known for art films and losing wars, and this flick is no war. The film is not so subtle, like an art film should be, but it also is gritty and violent. I cant really think of a negative of this film, but as far as being another ‘Texas Chainsaw Massacre’, the original, it just lacks that ‘Pizzaz’ that scares the bejesus out of you. This film made you hold your breath once and a while and even had a plot twist, but just cant go balls out, and that might be the american censorship, but I give this film a 7/10 as it is one of the best films of its genre in the last half decade, but cant compete with the classics.

Mr. and Mrs. Smith

This film before its release received loads of attention because of Brad Pitt’s affair and what not with Angelina Jolie. But to look past all the celebrity hubbub, the film had two talented stars, a very good director in Doug Liman and Vince Vaughn. The people who were involved all knew what they were doing. Now, moving to the present tense, the film is about two married people who turn out to be assassins working for competing agencies. The agencies that they work for are not talked about and remain a vague reference throughout the film. The plot is ridiculous and a miserable adaptation of “Prizzi’s Honor,” a great film with Jack Nicholson and directed by John Huston. The first half of the actual film is good, quick on its feet and fairly funny as Mr. and Mrs. Smith live their mundane lives. The dialogue is funny and Pitt and Jolie excel at the word play and dialogue. Then, as they find out each other’s identities it becomes an action comedy, which also is pretty good with Pitt and Jolie fighting and making fun of each other with a lot of explosions. Then the third act comes and the flick goes down an incomprehensible tunnel of sex and more explosions. The film starts going downhill directly after a very well shot car chase where Mr. and Mrs. trade insults while revealing their past lies that they kept for the ‘five or six’ years of their marriage. When they band together to fight their agencies, the plot becomes garbage and worthless. If the third part of the film was to receive a grade on its own, I would give it a 4/10. as far as the films acting goes Pitt and Jolie show their charm and their screen presences are large, but neither of them is special. Pitt is his witty self, the same guy he was in ‘Ocean’s 11’ and Jolie is just having fun, not quite in ‘Tomb Raider’ mode, but much more lighthearted. The best actor in the film is Vince Vaughn who is his usual self, and his usual self is funny, offbeat and pretty ridiculous. Director Doug Liman shows a balance of his ‘Go’ comedy and his ‘Bourne Identity’ gritty action, but rather that take the best of each, he merely goes for the middle-best of each film, which is still pretty good as far as many directors go. The film was very good for the first two thirds, and miserable for the last third, so overall this film gets a 6.5/10.

The Reviews