Thursday, March 19, 2015

Three Films Make A Post: His acting will kill you.

Taken 3 (2014): You gotta hand it to Luc Besson and director Olivier Megaton, they really went out of their way to make Liam Neeson’s third adventure as uninvolving as possible, with a plot as predictable as the sunrise, but much less interesting. On the positive side, this time around, Liam’s female movie relatives aren’t kidnapped. Too bad the film’s alternative is to kill off Famke Janssen and have someone attempt to frame Neeson for it. The expected series of mild action scenes, a bit of waterboarding, and random melodrama ensues with little that’s thrilling or interesting to watch. The formula has grown stale, and neither Besson nor Megaton seem to have any interest in finding something interesting to replace it with.

But hey, at least the words “IT ENDS HERE” are on the film’s poster.

Chastity Bites (2013): John V. Knowles’s “Liz Bathory visits an American small town campus while working in the pre-marital virginity business” horror comedy, might not have Liam Neeson, or all that much of a budget, but it’s lively and the fun and funny moments highly outnumber its annoying ones. Plus, while it’s not completely original, it’s a film clearly trying to look at the classic elements it uses from its own place in time and space, subverting what seems fitting while keeping others in place. Plus, leads Allison Scagliotti, Francia Raisa and Louise Griffiths are, quite unlike Neeson, clearly putting energy and enthusiasm into their performances. I’m not too fond of the film’s more satirical parts because they tend to be built on the thing I like least in comedy – turning the kinds and classes of people the comedy writer doesn’t like into stereotypes so as to have an easier time making fun of them without hitting that pesky empathy in an audience – but for more than its running time than not, this is a fine little horror comedy.

Some Dollars for Django aka Drango: A Bullet for You (1966): I would not have pegged Paul Naschy’s frequent partner León Klimovsky as a very good Paella Western director, but the film at hand, while certainly not in the top of the Euro Western genre class, is a perfectly entertaining little thing, well-paced and energetic - which might be explained by Enzo Castellari supposedly having had a hand in the direction, but I tend to be very careful when it comes to this sort of thing. The film belongs to that part of the European Westerns that skews more to the classic US model of how such a film has to play out – just with added dubious dubbing, a bit more violence and torture and a much better musical score, of course – and even concerns itself with two very clear redemption arcs for its main characters. Not surprisingly, it doesn’t reach the heights of the best US Westerns there but it’s still pretty entertaining as well as showing Anthony Steffen and Frank Wolff in a particularly good week, the former expressing more emotion than usual, the latter making the most of the opportunity to for once be a bit more of good guy.

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