Hey folks, Harry here... Only thing that looked appealing about INTO THE BLUE was some of those bikini shots and the pretty water. Shockingly, I ignored this film in lieu of watching DVDs from next month. Sigh, tough life I have. Anyway - Massawyrm went to it and the fantastic GREEN STREET HOOLIGANS (used to be HOOLIGANS) and here he goes with his write ups... Please excuse Massawyrm's worship of Paul Walker, he's just trying to get into his droopy drawers!
Hola all. Massawyrm here with an interesting pair of color-coded movies for you.
Into The Blue
For those who just couldn’t get enough of Paul “Man of a thousand roles and only one expression for each of them” Walker fondling other men in 2 Fast 2 Furious, I present to you this years Bi-Curious thriller Into The Blue. From the writer of the critically acclaimed Torque and the director of Blue Crush and Crazy/Beautiful comes a film that one must summon up a tremendous force of will to even be able to describe. No, Into the Blue is not a good movie; it’s not even a defensibly decent movie. But it is a movie a select few of us are going to get a kick out of, so I just can’t tear it apart wholesale. There are things going on here that go beyond the scope of which this type of movie usually delivers, and for that, I have to give it its props.
But first, I’ve got to spank it just a bit. You see, for the first 90% of it, Into the Blue is your standard, paint-by-numbers Paul Walker action thriller. Now I found an interesting Paul Walker factoid in his IMDB biography. It reads simply “He doesn't like to watch himself on screen and will only watch his own movies once.” Wow. Paul, you’re not alone. I think I can safely say that most people feel the exact same way about his acting and films as he has the distinction of replacing Freddie Prinze Jr. as most wooden, bitched about actor still getting work today. But the only thing stiffer in a Paul Walker movie than Walker himself is the story. It’s almost always the same. Paul Walker is always the edgy, good-looking boy scout of a good guy who must negotiate slick cinematography, clichÃ©d plot twists and stereotypical villains before he comes out on top without changing his expression once. He’s like a botox superhero. And Into the Blue is no exception.
This movie plays out like your typical, run of the mill “modern day” thriller, insomuch that five to ten years from now it’s going to be incredibly dated. The look, the feel, the overall vibe of the film gives it this it-just-happened-yesterday energy you just know will not stand the test of time. It’s disposable. It’s meant to be. It is very much “The Deep” of its day. But the cinematography sure is pretty, in fact, it has to be, as a full half of the film involves watching people swimming up and down in the same 200 yard stretch of water over and over again. To director John Stockwell’s and underwater cinematographer Peter Zuccarini’s credit however, these underwater sequences are something of a pleasure to look at. It’s a masterful attempt at delivering both the beauty and the dread of diving into the ocean and succeeded at making me tighten up during moments I realized I really shouldn’t be. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that many of those underwater shots include Jessica Alba cameltoe upskirt angles.
Now my inner critic kept sighing, rolling its eyes and saying “Alright, enough already. We get it. She’s hot and you want this to be alluring.” But my inner teenager kept replying “Dude, shut the fuck up. It’s Jessica Alba. She is hot and this is alluring. Pay attention to the pacing and story bullshit and I’m gonna sit here hoping for a nipple slip.” And the teenager in me was happy – there is in fact a brief Jessica Alba nipple slip. God bless you John Stockwell. Yes, yes, this film does go a little far in that department, but for those who will argue “Fuck what you think dude, there are two reasons I’m going to see this movie” you’ll be happy. There’s plenty of Alba sexiness to go around.
Of course, all the fancy cinematography in the world doesn’t help the fact that the plot is pretty much par for the course. Putting only a vaguely different twist upon the plot of “The Deep”, our heroes discover what could be the treasure find of the century right next to a plane with 800 kilos of pure, waterproof cocaine. Do our heroes sell the cocaine to finance the excavation of the pirate ship? Well, with resident Boy Scout Paul Walker aboard, you can guess that pretty much outright. But wouldn’t you know it, other members of his crew have different ideas and the group must come up against both rival treasure hunters and drug dealers – interspersed between scenes of Paul Walker and Jessica Alba making out and partying.
But it wouldn’t be an honest to god Paul Walker movie unless Paul Walker was rolling around on the ground in a slap and tickle fight with some other dude. Enter Scott Caan. You know, if they’d only done it once in the film, you could chalk it up to frat boy playfulness. But they don’t. These two roll around, wrapping their legs around one another so often you begin to think that Jessica Alba is just a confused beard. But I understand why they do it – it’s an attempt to show us just how close these two guys are because about halfway through the film you want Walker to kill Caan outright, and Walker simply can’t. You see, one of this movies better points is that despite the fact that Scott Caan is playing the same smart ass, smarmy character he always plays, this time he’s such an unrepentant asshole that it works. I mean, he is absolutely unapologetic about being a scumbag of the Nth degree. There’s one scene in this film in which he is so soulless, so jaw-droppingly insensitive that you almost want to applaud him. He becomes the one truly genuine character in the film.
But even that character angle doesn’t stop this film from being laugh out loud ridiculous at times. While there are a few genuinely thrilling moments, the bulk of it is a comically bad thriller that lovers of bad movies are going to truly enjoy. Although it never quite attains the writer’s previous attempt at absolute absurdity that he managed with Torque, it has its moments.
The first 100 minutes alone would have made this a bad movie. Had this film ended as I expected it to, this review would have a more decidedly acerbic spin to it. But it doesn’t – because somewhere along the line, the writer said “Aw fuck it, let’s just go nuts.” And Into the Blue does. It goes so bugfuck crazy, so decidedly, deliberately insane that you begin to realize that the first 100 minutes weren’t what the film was about at all. The writer didn’t sit down to rewrite “The Deep”. He sat down to write this climax and then tried to come up with a story that could logically get him there.
I swear to God, twenty years from now, Quentin Tarantino is going to show this film at QT 12 opening it up with an intro much like what I’ve talked about. He’s going to mention how beautiful Jessica Alba was at this time in her career. He’s going to mention how unrepentant Scott Caan is in this. And he’s going to mention that the first 100 minutes of this film is worth it for the last 10. You see, when AICN editor Quint goes to sleep at night, this is the movie sequence he dreams about.
Despite being PG-13 (and truly feeling it for the first 100 minutes of the movie) this movie shifts gears into an R-rated blur of insanity that just boggles the mind as to how it escaped the MPAA with the rating it got. All of a sudden, reason, logic and continuity go right out the fucking window. Who cares if Paul Walker jumped into the ocean with his hands handcuffed behind his back – handcuffs that seem to be water-soluble, as you inexplicably never see them again? This movie turns into a frenzy of violence that will delight true film lovers with its sheer, unadulterated mindlessness. Without warning, Jessica Alba is running around a boat hacking at people with a rusty holy-fuck-that’s-big machete. Paul Walker is wrestling around with Josh Brolin underwater. And people are firing explosive tipped spear guns at one another. All at the same time. What? That’s not crazy enough for you? Well then, that’s when someone gets hit with a spear and begins to bleed into the water. Yes, and that’s when the sharks show up. And all hell breaks loose.
And the movie actually gets gory - and fun as all hell. Guys are getting tossed around like rag dolls by sharks, shotgun shell tipped spears are hitting guys in the facemask, and flesh is being torn right off the bone before your eyes in an underwater explosion. One can only imagine that the MPAA just stopped watching the film at some point, realizing they’d had enough – because there’s no explanation for how else this could get by them without an R. It’s simply a beautifully realized ending to what could have been a truly terrible movie.
Sure the acting’s stiff and unimaginative. Sure the story is very been-there-done-that. But that climax proves to be both laugh out loud funny and edge of your seat exciting at the same time. The ending hurts in the best way possible and will make you thrash about in your seat at how some of these characters meet their end. For the select few of you willing to sit through a mediocre or bad movie to see a single sequence worth your time, I can recommend this to you as a deliciously perfect ending beset by a lame run-up. For the rest of you unwilling to forgive or laugh at 100 uninspired minutes for 10 good ones, stay as far away from this as possible. You’re gonna fucking hate it.
Green Street Hooligans
Now there’s something to be said about a film that can turn your whole day around, a film so good that even the shittiest of days becomes forgotten as it plays out in front of you. Such was the day I had before seeing Green Street Hooligans. Sparing you the details, I’ll just say that I was having a day so bad I didn’t even want to suffer through the drive to the theatre to see it. But man, am I glad I did.
Green Street Hooligans is a testosterone laden, ass kicking, brutal examination of England’s football (soccer) hooligan subculture as seen through the eyes of an ivy league American journalist. Never holding back nor glorifying the hooligans themselves, it is an unflinching assault on both the mindless brutality of the gang mentality as well as machismo itself. There are times in this film where, as a man, you just want to see some ass kicking followed immediately by times where you regret having ever done so. Dealing with the same thesis as Fight Club – man’s seemingly primal need to beat the fuck out of something - GSH attacks the problem through the very real culture of hard headed, drunken, football (soccer) firms.
Let me say this - Elijah Wood is a smart guy. Knowing full well that he will forever be known to several generations of people as Frodo Baggins, he’s set out in the last year and a half to personally deconstruct that image piece by fucking piece. Starting with his role as the meek, pot smoking nerd in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless mind, he followed it up with his turn as Kevin, the bloodthirsty, animalistic serial killer in Sin City. Now he completes his transformation by playing a wrongfully expelled Harvard journalism major who falls in with the wrong crowd and goes from meek geek to smug thug right before your eyes.
Directed by German ex-kicking boxing champion Lexi Alexander, GSH doesn’t hold back for one second on the violence. People get seriously fucked up in this movie through a series of hardcore brawls. With noses broken, bones fractured and flesh beaten to a bruised, bloody pulp, we’re treated to a smorgasbord of ass beatings that range from mere fist fights to full on rumbles complete with chains, boards and broken bottles. But through the violence the film openly explores the two widely held notions of what it is to be a man: from having the balls to stand your ground and take a beating just to earn respect to fighting the urge to do so for the sake of your wife and family.
And ultimately what at first appears to be a raw, uncensored, glorification of violence, becomes a very real exposure of its futility. And like many films of its ilk - films like Fight Club, Trainspotting and A Clockwork Orange – watching the characters hit rock bottom leaves you energized, empowered and ready to face the bullshit of your own day-to-day experience with a renewed vigor and outlook on life.
Elijah Wood is simply great in this film. The transformation of his character comes across as very real illustrating the natural progression of a man incapable of earning respect to someone who simply demands it through sheer aggression. Marc Warren and Charlie Hunnam star opposite him and do an excellent job playing a pair of brothers – one of whom has walked away from the life of the firm and the other trying to live up to potential of what his brother could have been had he not walked away.
I absolutely love this film and recommend it whole-heartedly. It’s a great changeup from a year full of softball, slow moving indies. One of those rare XY anthem films, Green Street Hooligans proves to be an intelligently conceived and executed indie that’s going to catch a lot of people off guard and find its way into many a DVD collection to be watched on those days you just need a pick me up. Check this one out at your earliest convenience.
Well, until next time friends, some ‘em if ya got ‘em. I know I will.
Paul Walker, write me. Please!