Sunday, November 30, 2008

Four Christmases

Four Christmases (PG-13)

Dir: Seth Gordon

Starring: Vince Vaughn, Reese Witherspoon

Runtime: 1 hr 22 mins

I had no idea what to expect when I went to see Four Chistmases. I had never heard of it before the day I saw it. To be honest, I actually thought I was going to see Transporter 3. That's what I (thought I) bought tickets for.

Why did I stay and watch a movie other than the one I was intending on seeing? Well, for the first forty minutes or so, I thought I was watching Transporter. Then I thought to myself, this setup is going on way too long. Why was Jason Statham buying a Christmas tree? Then I realized, it wasn't Jason Statham at all. Who were these strange people on the screen? And... what were they saying? Their language sounded like English to me, but for some reason I couldn't make sense of the words.

A feeling of overwhelming panic and dread began to rise, like a loaf of bread, in the pit of my stomach. I looked around, to see if other members of the audience were having a similar incomprehensible, disorienting experience. If they were, they gave no outward signs of it. They all stared, transfixed, at the screen. Looks ranging between mild amusement and mild boredom across their ugly, complacent faces.

I tapped the person next to me, and asked if he knew what was happening. He turned and responded in that same, distinctly familiar nonsense-language they were using in the movie. My neighbors' face was contorted, as if trying to communicate some non-verbal message to me, as the normal avenues of communication had failed. Others were looking too, I realized. The feeling of dread, temporarily forgotten, now returned tenfold.

I had to get out of there. Now.

But how?

I'll do it the normal way. I'll just get up from my chair, and run to the exit. However, my legs gave out beneath me, like two useless loaves of bread. I collapsed. There was talking, either from the movie or from the audience, I could no longer distinguish the difference. And of course I didn't know what they were saying, but I knew it was about me. On the filthy floor of the theatre, I pulled and slithered my way to the exit.

4 out of 5 stars.

Quantum of Solace

Quantum of Solace, (PG-13)

Dir: Marc Forster

Starring: Daniel Craig, Judi Dench, Norm Macdonald

Runtime: 1 hr 46 mins

After Casino Royale, I expected a lot from QoS. It delivered. While the days of Sean Connery and Norm Macdonald are behind us, Daniel Craig can still deliver the single line quips we Bond lovers have come to love and expect.

I'd like to indulge you in some of my favorite one-liners from QoS, which I'm sure will be quoted for years to come.

I'm getting too old for this shit,” admits Craig upon hearing that the world is in danger of getting blown up once again, and he has to save everyone's ass one more time before he can finally take his MI6 pension, move to a quiet English suburb and retire.

How does this shit taste?” quips Craig, whilst defecating in the open mouth of a Russian spy.

How does my pee-pee taste?” says Craig minutes later while urinating into the open mouth of the same Russian spy.

I used to be on Saturday Night Live,” remarks Macdonald, momentarily breaking out of his character (James' father) to address the audience, simultaneously delighting most and confusing all.

Prepare to meet your maker,” Craig advises a rag-tag army of animatronic dinosaurs that have recently turned sentient, as he leads them to the manufacturing plant where they were created.

Craig has the quiet subtlety and charm of Connery, and the raw sexual appeal of a young Macdonald.

4 out of 5 stars.


Twilight, (PG-13)

Dir: Catherine Hardwick

Starring: Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson

Runtime: 2 hrs 2 mins

The first scene of Twilight is as disturbing as it is touching. A boy teenage vampire and a girl teenage vampire meet each other in a graveyard. The boy teenage vampire gives the girl teenage vampire a knowing smirk. The kind of smirk that makes the audience wonder: Are these teenage vampire lovers, perhaps? The sexual tension in the theatre at this moment was palpable.

The hunt begins! The two turn into bats; the girl becomes a pink bat (practical, yes. Realistic, also yes, but perhaps a little too gender normative for my taste). They fly high above the city, performing majestic and graceful swoops while the opening credits roll.

A middle-aged business man is going home after a long day at the office, no doubt. He's talking on his cell-phone, presumably to his wife. Little does he know that he will never see her again.

The teenage vampire bats land on the businessman's shoulders, one on each, and begin shrieking their horrifying bat-shrieks.

“Transform!” the bats shout in unison, allowing them to revert back into their human shape. Then they leap on the man, and devour him with their sharp vampire fangs. The camera is mercifully directed at the ground for this shot, so all we see are shadows and blood splattering.

Although the rest of the film is a somewhat predictable teenage vampire love romp, Director Catherine Hardwick has perfected the tried and true teenage vampire love romp formula.

4½ out of 5 stars.


Some of my colleagues claim that a mere Wesley Snipes cameo would have been sufficient, and that it didn't make a lot of sense to have him kill off the entire cast in the third act. But to me it makes perfect sense. They are vampires, and so Wesley Snipes needs to kill them. I pose a rhetorical question: How else could it have possibly ended?