Monday, January 3, 2011

Bonus CineFiles: Oedipal comedy, French frights and Bland...James Bland!

Posted By on Mon, Jan 3, 2011 at 7:50 AM

Most weeks, I review more DVDs than the Indy can fit into print. You can look for extra write-ups here, on the IndyBlog.

CYRUS (R) (Blu-ray)
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

The trailers for Cyrus, starring the low-key comedy dream-team of John C. Reilly and Jonah Hill, made it look like a wacky, Judd Apatow-lite laffer, and, while it definitely is a very funny movie, I wouldn't be surprised if audiences exited in droves perplexed and a little disturbed by what they saw. Hill is the titular Cyrus, a 21-year-old guy with near-Oedipal devotion to his mother (Marisa Tomei), who herself is far too open with and clingy on her son. When sad-sack schlub Reilly falls for her, Cyrus does everything possible to sabotage them, and while it is very funny for a while, it does turns on the audience, painting a sad picture of lonely desperation and emasculating immaturity. This isn't a bad thing, however; the tear-jerking ambiguousness of the ending is extremely fitting and actually very satisfying. Don't go into this expecting a Will Ferrell movie and I think you'll be extremely, and pleasantly, surprised.

Synapse Films

The French film Resonnances is a low-budget kitchen-sink horror-sci-fi movie that sounds better than it really is: A group of friends on the way back from a barbecue pick up an escaped murderer and end up in the middle of the woods, where they're pursued by a creature that burrows under the ground and apparently came from outer space. These are usually the type of movies that I just absolutely love, mixing numerous well-worn but well-proven genre clichés in a new and clever way. Too bad that director Philippe Robert decided to film this DIY effort in the most literally unwatchable way possible: The whole thing is way too darkly lit to enjoy what's going on, and, even worse, is about 30 minutes too long on a short 83-minute running time. I want to see the monster — which, from its silhouettes looks absolutely awesome — but no matter how hard I try to increase the brightness of my TV, it just ain't happening. Resonnances just didn't want to resonate with me, I guess.

KNIGHT AND DAY (PG-13) (Blu-ray)
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

The twisty/turny spy flick Knight and Day could have been a great movie. It had every opportunity to be a funny, likable actioner, which makes its total failure all the more disheartening. Don't blame the very capable director James Mangold — he does the best he can. No, let's lay all the blame on stars Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz. Whenever actors with such forced luminosity grace us with their presence, it no longer becomes a “film,” but an exercise in total egotistical mediocrity. You need players who can handle comedy with action (and vice-versa), and these guys can't cut it. Think of a great Tom Cruise comedy? Even more so, think of a great Diaz action movie? Can't do it. And, when you've got ex-CIA double agent Cruise delivering rapid-fire failed jokes while his befuddled hostage Diaz runs around screaming like a chicken with her head cut off, it's just a total misfire from the beginning frames.

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