Weekly Mini-reviews: G.B.F, Machete Kills, The Monuments Men, The Usual Suspects

June 2- June 8, 2014

GBFweekG.B.F. | Darren Stein | 2013 | ★★★¼

G.B.F. should not be nearly as good as it is. It is a film about Tanner (Michael J. Willett) a closeted gay student in a high school that has never had an openly-gay student. He is outed by the school’s “queen bees” who are desperate to have the latest fashion accessory: the gay best friend. And so we see how his life changes as a result of this. As it’s the case of most movies that fall under the “queer cinema” label, it’s a cheap-looking digital film that desperately needed some color correcting to hide a bit of the cheapness. The writing fails pretty head at times when it tries hardest to be like Mean Girls or Clueless. Even so, it’s got a lot of charm and heart and I couldn’t help but fall for it. Director Darren Stein, who last directed 1999’s Jawbreaker, visually makes the best of his super low budget, filled the film with a nice soundtrack. What he did best was getting this cast that, once again, makes the most of the low budget and somewhat lacking script. Willett is the stand out as he pretty much has to carry the film on his shoulders and is the biggest part of why the film ultimately succeeds. The rest of the performances, from a cast that includes Megan Mullally, Natasha Lyonne, Awkward’s Molly Tarlov, former pop wunderkind JoJo, and Harry Potter’s Evanna Lynch, deliver appropriate performances that further elevate the material. It’s not something that demand to be seen, but if you ever find yourself wanting to watch a trashy version of Whit Skillman’s Damsels in Distress, you could do a lot worse than this.

MacheteWeekMachete Kills | Robert Rodriguez | 2013 | ★★★

Machete Kills is just about what you would expect from sequel to q movie based on a fake trailer. At first it’s boring in how they are trying to set up the story. But then once Damian Bichir’s bi-polar drug lord comes into the picture all hell breaks loose and it gets fun there’s really not much to say about it. I did miss the old grindhouse look mainly because now it just like a lazily made mid-budget film. Also, despite you have Amber Heard, Sofia Vergara, Michelle Rodríguez, and a very-much grown up Alexa Vega playing sexy femme fatales, Robert Rodríguez actually forgot to capture any sex appeal on screen. I guess its biggest accomplishment is that it got me wishing that at some point they will make Machete Kills Again… in Space!

MonumentsWeekThe Monuments Men | George Clooney | 2014 | ★★

A year ago, following his Best Picture win for Argo (hey, remember that?) George Clooney was expected to take it again for The Monuments Men what with it being about America saving the art world from the Nazis. But then it got delayed and it was the best this that could have happened to the film as it’s such a prime example of mediocrity that it would have been slaughtered by critics and would have been even more ignored at the box office. As interesting as the story may be, the fact is that it’s not a very cinematic tale. Clooney tries to make this a light war drama, bit there is no material in there to provide some good dramatic or emotional tension, and the comedy mostly falls flat. The only good moments are the ones where Bill Murray and Bob Balaban are just hanging out, but there are not enough to recommend the movie.

SuspectsWeekThe Usual Suspects | Bryan Singer | 1995 | ★★

According to critical consensus, The Usual Suspects is one of the outright classics of the 90s. I can see why it would get that consideration, what with the way the film is structured, and the editing, and the atmosphere, but it didn’t do anything for me. As fast paced as it is, there’s just no momentum, and things just happen, and I quickly lost interest. I understand that what we are watching is just a witness account of the events that transpired rather than the real thing, but even so there’s no reason why it should be so lifeless and so poorly acted (Kevin Spacey is particularly terrible). Maybe I would have been more invested had I not known the twist. However, if the twist is the thing that makes the film, then it’s not a strong film to begin with.

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