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 The World of Film in Australia - on the Internet Updated Monday June 15, 2020 

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AACID TUNG (Urban Cinefile’s world weary, sarcastic and cynical sourpuss goes to the movies in the forlorn hope that something will appeal. It rarely does.)

Mel Gibson, in the role that Harrison Ford should have had, makes a poor attempt at playing a mixture of likeable buffoon, dangerous taxi driver, mediocre misfit and genuine nice guy. How could you get it so wrong, Mel? This movie, I mean. It’s not up to your usual standard. Somebody’s got to the script after you read it, maybe? Glad to hear you’re back with Danny on LW . . . 5 isn’t it.

No wonder Columbia kept this hidden from the critics (in Sydney at least, where the most acidic critics live). For the first half an hour we watch Clint watching Gene whacking Melora. We see him sitting behind the two way mirror, but we never see his eyes! They’re in shadow. How subtle. From the invisible we move to the incredible, as Judy Davis storms in to cover up the undies and the undercover operation. The Government spooks are always the same eerily heartless and stupid robots, and the predictability of the script defies even Eastwood’s cool hand, it’s a featherweight story that should have stayed in the first draft.

Unlike Face/Off, Brassed Off does not have choreographed gun battles. Instead, it has choreographed brass bands playing tunes that you would never listen to on the radio. Nor does it have people losing their faces in immaculate surgery: instead, it has people losing their jobs in dirty coal mining v dirty politics. The problem is that the film is all too ideologically righteous and is busy beating Margaret Thatcher over the political head. Guys! Thatcher’s been gone for years! Then there is the sentimentality of these tough coal miners, serenading their dying leader in hospital - who then recovers enough to conduct their championship performance at the Albert Hall! Oh, puhlease. I thought only the Hollywood studios invented that sort of mush.

Imagine a film made in 30 years time that relied almost entirely on the amusing properties of the word ‘cool’ as used in the 90s.So we have a movie relying on the humour of the 60s catchcry, 'groovy'. The only other element designed to make us laugh in this vacuous disaster is a bucktoothed idiot with tufts of false chest hair and a penchant for toilet humour. The attempt at jokey spoofery at the expense of the 60s backfires on the whole team, from star/writer/producer Myers to bimbo/bimbo Liz Hurley. But they do have one talent: getting investors to stump up for this load of rubbish.

This pathetic attempt to elevate the action genre into something with MEANING is hoist on its own petard: credibility. On the one hand, Woo works his Chinese butt/off moulding the characters to be three dimensional, on the other he takes away by making everything else quite unbelievable. Face surgery that sucks your face off? But leaves no scar? That fools your wife? That can be reversed? The suspense of whether the good guy gets the bad guy is left in the gutter as the suspension of belief hovers near zero. Do Travolta and Cage NEED work this bad?

Not only is the FBI stupid, which is perhaps the only half-credible aspect of this film’s premise, but so are the police and so are all the crims. The only smart cookies are the half dozen riff raff hanging onto the edge of a basement bar in the wee hours of the morning. Really? Faye Dunaway tries every old trick in the book to get her act (acting) together, but in the hands of an inexperienced director like Spacey, she comes out all pretending. Matt Dillon plays such a dumb crim we can’t believe he even found the door handle to open his front door to go to work each day. Then to add insult to injury, the bar’s tv set is used as a device to move the action along with information; but it’s so clumsy even Matt Dillon would have refused to believe it. Back to the acting, methinks, Kevin.

Tommy, Tommy, what are you doing? Are you the same star who made Blue Skies? Even The Fugitive? Here is a cartoon asking you to act like a cartoon character, and you do: you believed the director (Barry Sonnenfeld) that playing deadpan would look cool. It just looks deadpan, Tommy. You even let them make you go back to your abandoned woman standing in a photo by some drab garden furniture, in what is a piece of sentimental nonsense that has ‘Hollywood suit device’ all over it. But relax, you were the best part: Men in Black suffers from smartarse disease: who let the baddie become the bad? Here is Vincent D’Onofrio as an alien who is distinguished by being not only inept and ridiculous, but hugely porky (ham acting, guys). Since we can’t belive either Tommy or Vinnie, what have got? Men in Drab.

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A meteorite with mysterious properties? In a supposedly adult 90s thriller? This was the stuff of Saturday afternoon matinees in the 50s. (I hear.) Trotting out the beautiful Julia Ormond simply makes the filmmakers look desperate in their efforts to appease their audience. As for Bille August, that artistic director who takes no Hollywood shit, here he is using an Inuit boy, high on the Cute Meter, which may well turn this unknown kid into another miserable Macauley Culkin. As for the character of Smilla herself, she’s so frigid it should have been called Smilla’s Feeling LIKE Snow! Take a hot toddy (or teddy, as you wish) and hope your snorts of disbelief don’t freeze.



The predictably nasty, insensitive and destructive forces that work for the US Government in various undercover agencies, always led by James Woods - are again trotted out in a simpleton’s template of audience manipulation. They are baddies, without a single decent redeeming feature. Jodie, of course, has the right stuff. We’re taken for a ride here, but not one that soars with the intergallactic intelligence of the late and great Carl Sagan, but the rigid rites of a Hollywood machine unable to escape its own gravity of predictability. Even when making a film about enlightened thought, the filmmakers manage to turn brilliant into banal. What determination!



Fanatics and sport-obsessed people are always boring, so why would anyone spend millions to bore millions? There is so much talent here, yet so little fun. Sport - soccer, in particular - is the excuse for Paul’s shortcomings in the personality and relationships department. Fact is, he’s a footy-fart who knows very little about self help courses. No goals scored here.


The same old dun, dull Lundun . . .the same old grey and horrid life…. the same old ridiculously self pitying characters in search of a life: doesn’t Mike Leigh ever get over it? In Career Girls, we are supposed to be entertained by two boring tarts meeting up after six years, having been impossibly boring and twitchy un-friends at college. They spend a weekend together out of the blue. Why? They ‘accidentally’ meet up with others from that era. Why? They talk endlessly but say nothing. Why? Why is it called Career Girls? Their careers are dull and have no place in the story. And how dare Mike Leigh make a boring film?



What a meaningless title, Substance of Fire. Is the reference to the mean-spirited Geldhart, who recognises his own shitty-ness all too late? Where is the fire in shitty-ness? OK, I do see about the substance… But how can we feel anything for this old flint-fart when he’s abused his family and got obsessed with a book about the Holocaust which is being prepared by the un-dead, a Zombi-like wrinkly in his office with a filthy mouth? And who cares about his dreary grown up kids who aren’t sure whether they want his business or his love? Plus, they are either gay and dull or just dull. Unforgivable. Burn it.

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