Friday, June 28, 2013

The Current Cinema 21

The Bling Ring

Sofia Coppola’s “The Bling Ring” is a study in vapidity, executed with such style and cinematic prowess that one almost forgets its really just an updated version of Bret Easton Ellis and his young, chain smoking, status-obsessed L.A. denizens. Taking its story from the headlines of the late aughts when a group of young people begin to rob the empty homes of Paris Hilton, Orlando Bloom and Rachel Bilson, “The Bling Ring” makes few apologies for its careless, star infatuated group. The film’s young stars, especially Emma Watson and Katie Chang, anchor the film with head-spinning simple reductions of “you’re stressing me out” and “what did Lindsey say?” when their unrealistic exploits of robbing the rich and famous begins to come crashing down on them. It all makes for a shattering condemnation…. And are the kids alright? Like her previous films, Coppola mines the young, disaffected halls of youth with blurring audacity and with “The Bling Ring”, she may have crafted her most empty exploration yet… which doesn’t sound like a compliment but it is. Dedicated to Harris Savides, the film looks incredible as well, none more so stunning than the long, slow zoom into a house on top of the Hollywood hills as a pair of thieves run rampant through the glass hallways and rooms. Moments like these, as well the various long takes that drift in and around the players as they dart and ramble around the various stacked closets and rooms, imbue the film with an artful, ethereal grace. A very underrated work that's getting little attention.

Man Of Steel

Zach Snyder’s (remake? Reboot?) of the “Superman” franchise is a thing of two halves. The first part, attempting to solidify the Superman mythos through the morally conflicted Clark Kent (Henry Cavill) and his awkwardly conforming years, is the best. Not only does this portion effectively build sympathy and affection for the young Superman, but it features a terrifically nuanced performance by Kevin Costner as Superman’s Kansas father. The second half, when the real shit hits the fan per say and General Zod (Michael Shannon) arrives on Earth to do battle with Superman, is less interesting just when it should be soaring. I suppose that’s where I currently am with the CGI blockbuster. Just when things get explosive and eye-popping over the more subtle touches regarding human involvement, I check out. Needless to say, I checked out big time with “Man of Steel” after the first hour. Also, while Snyder and producer Christopher Nolan attempt to deaden the otherwise all-American tableaux of the original Superman character by giving him moral confusion and even the chance to kill someone, actor Cavill feels wrong in carrying the weight, a fact that severely hurt the previous Superman reboot “Superman Returns” with Brandon Routh. I suppose we all really underestimated the abilities of Christopher Reeve.

World War Z

I will admit that Marc Forster’s “World War Z” is far from the bombastic failure that was being reported months ago as re-shoots and escalating budgets forced along the rumor mill, but its also very….ordinary and unmoving. While Brad Pitt does lend star power to an otherwise unknown international cast, he’s also the least interesting character in the film….an emotionless cipher who travels around the globe trying to pinpoint where the virus originated. Still more distracting is the frenzied, illogically constructed chase and fight scenes in the first half of the film. When compared with the more methodical and carefully constructed scenes later in the film, one does begin to wonder whether Forster’s cinematic vision really was tampered with that much in the end.

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