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Return Of Laceyvision

Three big cinematic releases get caught in the erotic crossfire of my critical horn - 300, TMNT (I still can't get my head round them being "ninja" and not "hero" turtles - doesn't sound right) and Blades Of Glory. Plus a new, small section about things to keep your eyes actually literally physically peeled for over the coming months.


If there was an awards ceremony for excellence in the field of heterosexuality, 300 would bring home a shitload of trophies this year. It's a adaptation of the Frank Miller graphic novel of the same name which tells the embellished but, apparently true-ish story of the 300 Spartan Warriors who held off the invading Persian forces a squillion years ago by essentially being unbelievably hardcore and awesome and manly, and being too hetero to even notice that their skimpy costumes and the loving way they talk to eachother is kind of really gay. While the old sword and sandals epic has become a bit of a stale genre recently (although I really did think Kingdom Of Heaven was much better than anyone would admit) this isn't just any old sword and sandal film - it's a sort of cross between that genre and whatever genre has the most severed heads flying across screen and insane axe-toting giants. Lethal Weapon-style quips are delivered in the kind of vaguely archaic melodramatic language that's more common in films like Gladiator. There are scenes which recall that film, mostly those set back at Sparta, which frankly slow the film right down every time they appear. But 300 has an admirable disregard for historical accuracy that makes it into the most wild, unbridled and exciting period flick for a while.

The main battle scenes are epic to the point of fantasy, with various beasts and weirdoes summoned from all corners of the Persian Empire being spectacularly slaughtered by the unflappable Spartans, who at one point even PUSH A WALL MADE OF DEAD PERSIANS ONTO THE OTHER PERSIANS AND THEN STORM OUT FROM BEHIND IT AND KILL EVERYONE. It's amazing. The talk of magic and monsters and gods and the scale of the spectacle (King Xerxes, who's about nine foot tall, holds an audience with Leonidas from the top of a thirty foot silver staircase with a throne on it being carried by loads of slaves. I so want a throne staircase and slaves) gives events a mythic feel, though the fact that the "magic and monsters" are clearly usually petrol bombs and lepers (albeit ones presented exactly as this story would have them once several generations have embellished the legend with their own exaggerations, like the giant with swords for hands) underlines that this isn't really a fantasy story with the get-out clauses of that genre - in 300, dying is dying is dying, with no reprieve, and the Spartans are all more than aware that they will be fighting to their deaths. Occasionally the onslaught of beast after beast being swiftly despatched by the Spartans while the stupid narrator says something glib and obvious can become a bit wearing, and it has to be said that the film just looks a bit cheap at times, too. I understand that it was made quite cheaply, and considering that, the quality of the visuals is exemplary at points. But much of the detail of the computer generated backgrounds is lost in swirling golden mist that restricts the sense of scale and leaves the whole thing feeling a bit like a cut scene from a computer game.

The leader of the Spartans is King Leonidas, who probably has the biggest penis in the entire world, and is married to the bird out of The Parole Officer. Who gets her tits out in this, too. Hooray, tits! I can't offhand think of any other women who get to speak in the film, but you definitely get to see more tits. Thom Yorke out of Radiohead appears to be one of his Lieutenants, and even gets one of his eyes put out halfway through to emphasise the resemblance. The central theme, basically one of death before surrender, gets a bit wearing what with everyone SHOUTING ABOUT IT all the time, but at times it's rousing in the way that great War films are and you can't really argue with some of the fight sequences, which will make the 14 year old gore-lover in you happier than he's ever been. 3/5.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

The success of comic book adaptations and remakes which treat their subject with the utmost reverence and the fact that most of the decent superheroes have been done already leads us to a situation where a slick, CG version of the Ninja Turtles is gracing the multiplexes. Yeah, it's weird, isn't it? While the whole thing is a lot more grandiose and spectacular and character-driven than that rickety old cartoon (it's sort of like Batman Begins for kids), the film thankfully remembers that being wisecracking dimwits is an important part of the Turtles mandate, so the tone is never too serious. The only voices I recognised were Patrick Stewarts and Sarah Michelle Gellar. Stewart is enjoyably pantomime, and Gellar adequate if forgettable. The Turtles themselves all have thick Noo Yawk accents, which adds to the Ghostbustersy feel. Their characters are all fairly distinct - the blue bandana one is the angsty leader, the red bandana one is a hulked up snarling loose canon, the orange bandana one is most likely stoned, and there's another one who I think is basically just meant to be a bit silly. The plot is fairly stupid and hackneyed, but I suppose it is technically a kids film. It's exciting enough (without being gory or in any way child-unfriendly) for adults aswell, and if you were looking for something to take a young relative to over the holidays that won't leave you shit-brained with boredom, this is a better option than fucking, Happy Feet or The Last Mimzy or something probably. 3/5

Blades Of Glory

Will Ferrell films seem to fall into two camps - the gratifyingly bonkers ones, where his weird, dead eyes imply an unpredictable insanity that extends to the film around him, and the second sort where he's shoehorned into a mainstream family comedy where his clowning around is limited and his weird, dead eyes simply imply a kind of understanding that he's in a really poor film. The good ones are really, really good - Anchorman, Elf, Old School, Zoolander - but lately we've had to contend with more and more films like Kicking & Screaming or Bewitched. In a career trajectory that's starting to resemble Steve Martins, it's a nice surprise that Blades Of Glory kicks the trend by being really, really funny from the very start to the very finish.

The plot sees Ferrells hard-drinking pro-skater face off against Napoleon Dynamites Jon Heder, his closest rival and with his blonde curls and gleaming teeth, his polar opposite. The tense rivalry spills over into a ruckus that has them both banned from skating, and they descend into depression until realising that they could compete again if, and only if, they do so as a pair. From thereonin the plot is typical sports-movie stuff, odds overcome, lessons learned, friendships forged etc. Ferrell's better films always make use of a strong supporting cast to improvise around the script and create a lot of spontaneous humour and the clear rapport between Heder and Ferrell and their inspired one liners keep the flimsy, predictable plot afloat. Will Arnett and his missus are wasted slightly as an underdeveloped baddie duo, but they do get one enormous laugh at the end of the film. Set pieces are ridiculously inspired - particularly Ferrell and Arnetts ice-skate chase and Ferrells drunk, vomiting appearance at a childrens ice-show. It's nice to see Ferrell excited by his co-stars and tearing into the script with abandon again, and it's a real reminder of how funny he can be. It's refreshing too that of all his frat-pack cohorts, only Luke Wilson shows up for a miniscule cameo. Going into any more depth would really spoil the film, which at points goes beyond the approaching-its-sell-by-date cliched sports movie parody thing in search of more ridiculous laughs. So I'll just say 4/5, go and see it, bye!

Coming Soon!

Live Free Or Die Hard

In the trailer for this, John McClane blows up a helicopter, in flight, with a car. I don't care if the rest of it's shit, I want to see that in a cinema. The rest of it probably won't be shit though, because it's a Die Hard sequel with a silly title - stuff will explode, Bruce Willis will say "yippee ki-ay motherfucker" (I think he does that in the trailer too) and we'll all go home happy.

Everything Is Green

The "Gen-X" novelist Douglas Coupland has really come good on the potential displayed in his early novels with recent fare like Hey Nostradamus and Eleanor Rigby being wonderful, rich, bittersweet books. He's written an original film, starring him out of Road Trip and Joey, as a slacker stoner type which is garnering good reviews from it's screenings in America. Should be rather good, I think.

The Darjeeling Limited

While some found The Life Aquatic a little twee or contrived, those people were all stupid bastard idiots - it's tremendous. Each of Wes Andersons films has created a unique, stylised world for it's stories to play out in with intricate production design and canny use of music. With his visual pallette expanding with each successive film and the emotional notes becoming more poignant, there's plenty of reason to be excited for his latest film which re-unites him with actor Jason Schwartzman for the first time since Rushmore. Also starring are Anderson regulars Bill Murray and Owen Wilson who always produce their finest work in his films, and newcomer to the ensemble Adrien Brody rounding out the main cast. I think it's set in India. And has something to do with tea.

About this entry


The thing with the OTT Die Hard stunts is that they needs great lines to back it up. I'm just praying 4.0 has that (it's only titled 'Live Free, Die Hard' in North America).

By performingmonkey
April 10, 2007 @ 11:47 pm

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>While some found The Life Aquatic a little twee or contrived, those people were all stupid bastard idiots

God I love you Michael Lacey. I love you so much.

>his latest film which re-unites him with actor Jason Schwartzman

Wait a minute...I've never even HEARD of this. I thought he was doing The Fantastic Mr. Fox next. Where the hell did this come from? Why did nobody alert me?

By Philip J Reed, VSc
April 11, 2007 @ 1:03 am

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The Life Aquatic was, is and shall ever be incredibly, incredibly excellent.

By Austin Ross
April 11, 2007 @ 5:03 am

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"The thing with the OTT Die Hard stunts is that they needs great lines to back it up"

A CAR flying into a HELICOPTER and they BOTH BLOW UP IN THE SKY. I'm not arsed if the rest of the films in French, to be honest.

As far as I know Phil, Fantastic Mr Fox is still coming but it was taking so long to put the project together that Anderson decided to squeeze in another film. There's a few early reviews on AICN, I only skimread them because it sounded like they were reviewing a pretty rough cut. I think there's a photo released somewhere too, with Schwartzman in the back of an ice cream van with a big fake moustache, or something odd like that.

I can't imagine anyone who isn't completely dead inside not loving The Life Aquatic, really. I want to climb into it and make them my family.

By Anonymous
April 11, 2007 @ 4:17 pm

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That was me, obviously. 8=========D----------...........

By Michael Lacey
April 11, 2007 @ 4:18 pm

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