Sep 1, 2014

The Month in Movies: August 2014

Eight Diagram Pole Fighter
A great work of art?  Perhaps not, but my standard is more geared towards how well a film fulfills its own aims and delivers what I'm looking for from it.  On those terms, Eight Diagram Pole Fighter is as near flawless as makes no difference.  Director Lau Kar-leung and star Gordon Liu both execute the simple story of the last surviving brother from a powerful family first retreating and then seeking vengeance in straightforward but well told fashion, letting the action drive the film.  The action sequences are stunning and unfold with barely a breather between them.  After seeing the opening brawl, which lasts a good ten minutes, it's tough to see how Lau and Liu will top it, but they do, over and over.  An exhilarating action film that is essential viewing for any genre fan and may convert those who aren't.

Sin City 2: A Dame To Kill For
The original Sin City was at least somewhat novel, but since then nine years have passed, and that's no longer true.  That said, I don't think that's the whole story of why this sequel is so repellently bad, I think the key problem is Frank Miller.  Miller's gaze was always that of a 15 year old boy with a less than evolved attitude towards women and an overly macho self-image, but here that tendency goes beyond parody.  It may be that Eva Green's role, as ostensibly the 'strongest' woman in the film is the most offensive, because that 'strength' is expressed entirely through her sexuality and (frequent) nudity.  Green works hard here, and her astounding level of charisma makes her the best thing in the film, but it's beneath her.

Outside of these issues the film is simply bad; an empty series of crusty noir clichés, expressed in terms so overly hard boiled that they are funny more often than they are 'cool' or 'tough'.  Much of the acting is also dreadful, with a sleepy Bruce Willis and wooden Jessica Alba sharing the wooden spoon.

I nicked these categories from my friend AJ, who has been asking people to fill them out each month for many years at the message boards.  Only first viewings are eligible.  If there is a tie films are listed in the order in which I saw them.

Best Actor: Guy Pearce and Robert Pattinson: The Rover
Best Actress: Mary Elizabeth Winstead: Faults / Alexandra Dahlström: Fröken Sverige
Best DirectorLau Kar-leung: Eight Diagram Pole Fighter / David Michôd: The Rover 
Best Screenplay: Riley Stearns: Faults
Best Visuals: The Forgotten
Biggest Surprise: The Rover
Biggest Disappointment: Chinese Zodiac
Most Fucked-Up Movie: Return of the Living Dead 3
“I’m Pretty Damn Sure No One Else Has Seen This” (and they should)Fröken Sverige
“Why Is He/She Still in Movies?”: Frank Miller [Co-Writer/Co-Director] Sin City 2: A Dame To Kill For
One To WatchAlexandra Dahlström
Best Thing In A Bad Movie: Eva Green: Sin City 2: A Dame To Kill For
Movie I Finally Got to Friggin’ See: 8 Diagram Pole Fighter
Hottest LadyAlexandra DahlströmFröken Sverige 

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