Deadpool, "the merc with a mouth", is an unconventional comic book character from Marvel who featured in X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Ryan Reynolds has played a number of superhero characters, but seemed like the only choice for the immoral, over-the-top and juvenile, Deadpool. This is his origins film, an action adventure comedy and sci-fi thriller that could be described as a pool of Kick-Ass, Spider-Man, Watchmen and Darkman.
Wade Wilson, a former special operative turned mercenary, becomes the guy who deals with bad guys. After undergoing a highly experimental medical procedure, his body mutates... giving him special regenerative healing powers and painting a target on the back of the doctor who made him immortal. Oh, and he connects with a girl, a blind lady and a bartender.
It's an irreverent superhero and feature film debut for director Tim Miller, throwing a brash, unpredictable and funny albeit potty-mouthed antihero into the limelight. Deadpool loves breaking the fourth wall in his comic books, so there's plenty of self-aware comments and moments where he turns to address the audience. The profanity is frequent, the action is ultra-violent and Deadpool's juvenile no-holds-barred comedy dominates in this tongue-in-butt-cheek superhero flick.
The jokes are thick and fast and the character operates without boundaries, sifting from the present future back in time to give us a before and after contrast. He's living in a fairly hedonistic head space since his special healing powers mean he's virtually unstoppable, allowing him to exist in a consequence-free dimension. The experiment-gone-wrong has gifted him with mutant superpowers, but seems to have multiplied his already alternate attitude.
The antihero film is reminiscent of Kick-Ass in the way Deadpool takes his own brand of vigilantism to the streets with very little remorse and a penchant for Mortal Kombat style ultra-violence. His self-made spandex, mutant superpower and transition from normal guy to superhero mimic Spider-Man with a similar romantic distraction and disdain for the man who created him. The revenge story is soaked in Sam Raimi's Darkman with our antihero prowling around and possessing a similar affliction, while the gritty, irreverent and diabolical tone has an affinity with Watchmen.
"Seriously... a Russian Ninja? I'm Deadpool, damnit."
Ryan Reynolds does a superb job of holding all of the pieces of the film together. His charming alter-ego helps sell his dark side antics, making him a complex social agitator, trained killer and sexual oddity. He's supported by Ed Skrein as "the British villain", Ajax, a CGI X-Men character named Colossus voiced by Stefan Kapicic and T.J. Miller as his inside man, Weasel. The film could've done with a more intimidating villain, but it's quick-paced enough to keep you off-balance and distracted.
The origins story has been done to the point of pig vomit, but by doing and saying what many superheroes wish they could do and say, the writers manage to keep it filthy but fresh. The interlaced superhero references will have many fanboys laughing their heads off until blood starts spewing out of their necks... did I mention it's gory?
I just found that while Deadpool was clever in breaking the fourth wall and dishing up a double serving of juvenile humour with no regard for human life, it was wicked like Kingsman: The Secret Service. The constant onslaught of off-colour comedy takes the edge off, but it's the sort of Natural Born Killers crazy movie you could imagine mass murderers referring to as an influence in a homicide case.
The twisted nature of our immoral antihero, his proclivity towards killing people as a form of amusement, his Joker temperament and his tendency towards getting others to solve their problems by killing... well, let's just say you wouldn't ask him to babysit your kids. It's worrying that this passes as entertainment and perhaps it's just a raw conglomerate and representation of how depraved media has become these days.
Deadpool isn't for everyone. In fact, it's the opposite of family-friendly... churning up depravity, profanity and violence under the mask of entertainment. Hopefully it exorcises the demons rather than encouraging them to fester in the curtained parts of the mind. If you managed the mania of Kick-Ass and can stomach a strong dose of Hell... you'll come out of Deadpool alive, but maybe there's enough Hell in your life already to excuse yourself from seeing this one.
Spling reviews Spotlight, The Choice and Kidnapping Freddy Heineken as broadcast on Talking Movies, Fine Music Radio. Catch Talking Movies on Fridays at 8:20am and Saturdays at 8:15am every week on Fine Music Radio.
(* “You never know what is enough unless you know what is more than enough.” – William Blake. But please note that hedonism, like Satantango and Long Beach Craft Beer is for adults only.)
Let’s pick up from where we left off in T.C.O.B.#7… Satantango is the story of a swindle. Eight people decide to abandon their decaying community, taking everything of value with them. At first they attempt to cheat one another out of their shares. Then, having discovered one another’s scheming, they agree to collaborate, only to be collectively swindled by an enigmatic outsider called Irimias.
Director Bela Tarr strove for visual eloquence in every shot. So, even though the film’s original language is Hungarian, it is possible for non-speakers (i.e. just about anyone) to follow the story just by observing the pictures while keeping the synopsis I gave above in mind. Of course, you could get hold of a subtitled version to ensure you don’t lose the plot or in case you wish to explore one or more of Satantango’s beguiling side-roads.
To observe the pictures makes sense when you watch any film. In the case of Satantango, that is something that is also very easy to do. I said that the director sought visual eloquence. What he achieved is… I won’t call it beautiful because beauty is far too difficult to define… but it is simple and clear. Not a single shot is cluttered. Not a single shot is superfluous.
Furthermore, you are given ample time to observe. Nearly all the shots last a minute or more – some for more than three minutes. This particular idiosyncrasy of Bela Tarr’s visual language is responsible for Satantango’s 7-hour running time. But no one says you have to watch it all at once. The film consists of three parts, each of roughly feature film length. You could watch it over three nights. Or, as the parts are themselves divided into episodes, twelve in total, each between 30 and 40 minutes, you could watch it like a daily soap-opera.
Whatever method of observation you choose, you will be surprised at how easily you are drawn out of your corporeal reality and into that of the Satantango. For me it’s an intoxicating experience that I’ve repeated several times. And unlike the one that results from going to a film like Mad Max 3 (see T.C.O.B.#1 ), where your senses are blitzed by sound, colour and motion, you leave your body but remain lucid.
So, the decay mentioned as a sociological concept in the synopsis turns into the unravelling and rain-sodden clothes of the Satantango’s protagonists, the muddy street of their village, the crumbling masonry of their homes. The alcohol, on which T.C.O.B.#6 and T.C.O.B.#7 waxed lyrical, transubstantiates from spirit to flesh disposed for good as for evil or merely for stultification…
It would be pointless to name the actors here. They are remarkable talents but mostly unknown outside of the Hungarian public – and not exactly celebrities within that public. Nonetheless, whoever observes the Satantango will quickly become as familiar with them, their expressions, movements and drinking habits, as the masses are familiar with the stars of soap-operas. I’m not suggesting that the proximity is always pleasant. But, after seven hours, you get something which soap opera followers are cheated out of forever: a satisfying conclusion.
The conclusion to Satantango is death. It may sound dismal, even to the indomitable, Long-Beach-craft-beer-drinking Capetowner. But, in the context of the out-of-body experience alluded to above, it is quite literally invigorating. Arguably, it is the most rewarding moment in the film. For then it becomes clear that everything that has gone before – the swindle, the drunkenness, the decay… all the seven-hour Satantango(or your observation thereof) – was an overcoming of the despair caused by the certainty of death. It’s a moment filled with light, just after the screen turns black.
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Spotlight is a biographical and historical drama turned thriller about the Boston Globe's "Spotlight", a team of investigative reporters who tackled alleged child abuse in the Catholic Church in Boston, exposing a religious, legal and governmental scandal that send shock waves across the world in early 2002. The Pulitzer Prize-winning coverage opened the issue of sexual abuse within the Church, drawing attention from the Church hierarchy, law enforcement, government and media agencies.
Spotlight follows almost ten years after acclaimed documentary, Deliver Us from Evil, from film-maker Amy Berg, who examined the case of convicted pedophile, Oliver O'Grady. While set in Boston and dramatised much like newspaper conspiracy All the President's Men, both films address the same issue. Deliver Us from Evil has a special focus on one man's sexual crimes, while Spotlight takes a broader citywide perspective.
The Spotlight team consists of: Mark Ruffalo as Mike Rezendes, Michael Keaton as Walter 'Robby' Robinson, Rachel McAdams as Scaha Pfeiffer and Brian d'Arcy James as Matt Carroll. Ruffalo played a similar role in The Normal Heart, throwing himself into yet another passionate causes performance that sees him embrace every aspect of his character. Keaton is the boss, conveying quiet authority in the wake of Birdman, while McAdams and d'Arcy round off a solid team. The ensemble is bolstered further by the presence of an understated Liev Schreiber, no-nonsense John Slattery and dedicated Stanley Tucci.
"Did I mention we're on speakerphone?"
The performances ground Spotlight and do justice to a well-balanced script, which let's the true story speak for itself. We encounter real people with heart-breaking stories that reveal a slice of the tragedy at play, while for the most part, the priests are kept at a distance, reduced to names and dates. It's the establishments that are targeted in Spotlight, and those that would wish to cover-up the scandal in order to profit or cast a blind eye.
While the outcome is public knowledge, the underlying tension of the search-and-discovery is leveraged to great effect, drawing us into the depths of the story. In our fast-paced, media-soaked world, the newspaper's sense of integrity becomes such an inspiration as the investigative journalists pursue the truth with such voracity. Spotlight exposes the darkness without being consumed by the despair, simultaneously restoring hope in humanity by showing the commitment, patience and virtues of a news team with a difference.
Writer-director Tom McCarthy, best known for The Visitor and Win Win, gives us a deft, human and harrowing look into this time. The subject matter is monumental, recalling the newsroom tone and gravity of All the President's Men. McCarthy's crafted Spotlight in such an honest and matter-of-fact way without caving into cliches of the news agency detective genre.
It's a heartbreaking and eye-opening journey that treats its audience and subjects with great respect, making the integrity of its story an unflinching priority. The subtle film-making keeps it immediate, within touching distance, and the range of honest performances lock us into a troubled Boston in some of the most devastating months in U.S. history.