Coffee with Orestes: Frankenweenie, Argo, The Master, Skyfall, Looper, Madagascar 3D.

We gave our jack of all trades, Orestes Xistos, a couple of tenners and a list of films to review. This piece of shit is what we got. A free CD and a pint if you can point out all the references to other films.

Frankenweenie

Tim Burton offers a second outing of The Weird, as he does in every single film. The cynical fans will say that he’s gone to the well too many times. I pity those insular idiots. Burton is in a point in his career when he finally is receiving the financial acceptance he deserved earlier in his career, while still balancing the utter commercial outings with the ones that show his passion. Dark Shadows was miles better than the shit sandwich of a trailer that it got. Frankenweenie is the better film, though. With a wonderful stop motion animation technique, Frankenweenie goes for the full enfrijolada, tackling both horror films and monster films (there’s a Godzilla reference for you Toho freaks). If you’ve ever lost a pet, this film will have a couple of moments where you’ll shed a tear (unless you are one of the aforementioned bitter ex-fans, in that case, go back to your corner). The story is simple: awkward boy that loves films loses a pet, goes for science (SCIENCE!) to help him bring the pet back to life. Sordid humour and a couple of genuinely scary bits follow, culminating in a final fight in a windmill (hey, like in Sleepy Hollow !) Love it.

Incidentally, for the people saying this film is not good because it’s a remake of one of Burton’s own films, may I remind you that Heat was Michael Mann‘s remake of his own film, L.A. Takedown? But, hey, if you hate Burton, my tiny opinion won’t matter in your ocean of hate. Selah.

Argo

Ben Affleck is da bomb, yo! As a director, this is his third film in a row where he knocks it out of the ballpark, and you know what? For every bad role he’s done, he’s made up with another good role, so ease on the guy. Argo tells the story of the Iran Hostage crisis and how the CIA pulled out a rescue mission where no shots were fired (hey, this is like that G.I. Joe – Special missions issue where they talk about perfect missions!). There are a couple of historical liberties taken and a dramatic chase scene that didn’t happen at all but was put there for shits and giggles. The cast is superb (Clea DuVall, call me!) and although it’s a long film, the pace is quite brisk, so no time to check the watch or start texting.

The Master

Excellent acting by everyone involved (particularly Amy Adams – hubba hubba!) but I suspect this is one of those films where acting is the juice and everything else takes a supporting role. Cinematography is gorgeous (love the shot of Joaquin Phoenix running for his life in some empty fields), music is spot on (thank you, Mr. Radiohead dude) but the plot is absent. It went out for a walk and got kidnapped by Gene Shalit. This is a film about nothing. Sure, there’s the not so veiled stab at Scientology (courtesy of an always excellent Phillip Seymour Hoffman) and the path followed by Joaquin Phoenix‘s character is gruelling. And that’s that. No plot at all, just a snap of these two characters, how they sometimes are best friends and how sometimes they are archenemies. In a way, just like in There Will Be Blood, there is no one to root for; all characters are reprobates with absolutely no redeeming qualities, the lowest of the low. It’s a grim and gritty look at humanity without having to resort to bloodbaths or overtly disturbing scenes. Hey, I think I liked the film then. Serious and subtle, but your patience will be tested.

Skyfall

Nice spy thriller. It ain’t no fucking James Bond film at all, but nice spy thriller. Gorgeous shots (everything in Scotland looks like Magick o’ Scots) but the pace plods a bit, a nice looking lady is horribly killed in a disturbing scene and it shoehorns a few revelations to try to put Skyfall in the mythos of Bond, which feels as forced as that “goodbye Chewbacca, miss you I will” moment from Revenge of the Sith. No, Sam Mendes and three writers (THREE!), this is not cool. You’re insisting upon yourselves and it hurts the film. Another big problem with the film is that although Javier Bardem is a good actor, a couple of his “big moments” end up causing a lot of  unintentional laughs.  Suffice to say: if you are gurning through your death scene like some Panto villain, you’re not in a “realistic James Bond film”, you are in 1980s Doctor Who territory, and that, my friends, is made of The Suck.

Still, nice spy thriller.

Looper

Looper is two films. There’s one that goes quite well until a confrontation in a café shifts it into a completely different film and logic gets taken out to the backshed and put out of its misery, like some rabid dog (that just saved your life). What follows? Shit. What’s the verdict, then? Well, let’s do an exercise. Take 5 gallons of vanilla ice cream and 5 gallon of manure. Mix them together. You have 10 gallons of manure. Capisce?

Madagascar 3D

Ignore whatever the trailers seemed to imply, this film does entertain thoroughly, sporting what to be  one of the best action sequences in an animated film in the past 5 years. Like Looper, this is two films in one. Unlike Looper, both Madagascar 3D films are good and consistent, so although you end up with a vanilla milkshake, it’s a very fulfilling one. Mind you, there’s a maraschino cherry that might be tainted with the horrid music of Katy Perry (don’t call me, babe), so chuck that away and you have a good one, easily the best one out of all the previous outings (and you’ve got enough penguin action for your money). One character in this film did manage to squeeze a few tears outta my cold, cold heart. Martin Short, you are great indeed.

And that’s that. Yes, I’ve just said that Madagascar 3D is better than Looper. If you insult me, you’re committing a hate crime and PETA will be after you. And you don’t want them vicious animal lovers after you, knamsayin’?

Words: Orestes “Maddafacow” Xistos.

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