What to watch

By bogotapost October 10, 2014
Screen Shot 2014-10-10 at 00.43.22

The premiere for Mistaken For Strangers. Photo: Erwin Verbruggen

22 Jump Street   3 stars

A: C’mon fatty, jump over the car.
B: I can’t, I’m not ripped like you!
A:  I love you dude.
B: I love you too man.
REPEAT for 120mins

Yes, the undercover cops-in-school bromance returns.  It’s more of the same with Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill buddying up to bust another college drug ring.  There is nothing new here, but the jokes are pretty good and everybody seems to be having a good time. The story is interchangeable with the first one and the ‘clever’ knowing references to this fact get boring.

The chemistry between the two is ramped up to the point where you are almost wishing they would just kiss and come out already.  Ice Cube does his angry black man routine, and the clichés regarding jocks, nerds and babes continue unabated. It’s all done in the name of good fun but lacks originality and drags in the final stages.

One aspect of a lot of these overtly macho comedies that is a little unpleasant is the underlying homophobia and misogyny.  The only scene where a gay ‘relationship’ is touched upon is a scene in which the two baddies from the first film are now in a forced bitch/butch prison scenario.  Queue cringes and uncomfortable looks. Not funny.

Similar to other recent Judd Apatow/Jonah Hill/Seth Rogen comedies like Bad Neighbour, there seems to be a reveling in the ‘bros before hos’ attitude.   Tellingly, strong female characters are largely absent or they are treated with mild disdain.  It’s about time these teen comedy kings grew up.



Lucy   2 stars

Luc Besson is a film director who has been in thrall to the Hollywood action film throughout his career, with an intimate understanding of how to put the standard action film tropes at the service of his own European vision of the genre. While this has yielded highly memorable cinematic experiences in film classics such as Leon and Nikita, increasingly, it seems to result in critically maligned movies such as last year’s Colombiana.

In Besson’s latest film, Scarlett Johansson plays the eponymous Lucy, an American expat living in Taiwan who is duped by her boyfriend into delivering a new synthetic drug, CPH4, to a Korean mafia boss. Things take a turn for the worse when a large quantity of the drug leaks into her system, bestowing on her a range of physical and mental powers. Lucy soon turns into a cold-blooded killer intent on exacting her revenge.

Lucy’s transformation into a humourless, all-powerful being capable of bending time and matter to her will left me rather indifferent to the plight of a heroine devoid of any personality or emotion. The film’s wildly unbalanced narrative fails to successfully combine scientific ideas and explanation with slick action and, as Professor Norman, Morgan Freeman is cast for the umpteenth time in the role of ‘wise old man’.

Besson’s knack for willfully imitating the Hollywood genre film can be seen in the expertly staged action set-pieces involving the obligatory slow-motion action sequences played out to an operatic score. Although these are the movie’s undoubted strong points, I couldn’t help feeling that I’d seen it all before.

Ultimately, this ridiculous mess of a film leaves you wondering whether Besson will ever re-discover his directing mojo or if he is simply content to churn out commercially lucrative yet trashy Hollywood-inspired film products for the rest of his career.



Mistaken for Strangers    4 stars

It helps watching documentaries about bands if you like the band.  This is no exception. The National are a pretty famous brooding indie band who released a seminal album, Boxer, a decade ago. I was excited to see what they were like as people.

This is no straightforward love-in for the fans though.  The film is made by the lead singer’s layabout brother who is the real star here. Tom Berninger lives in his parents’ garage, gets drunk and loves metal. He has zero talent and lives in the shadow of famous brother Matt.  One day Matt invites Tom to tour with the band. Hilarity ensues.

The tour manager tries to make Tom complete even the simplest of tasks, and he fails outright at every given opportunity.  On top of this his film making skills are terrible and his lines of questioning are unintentionally some of the funniest I’ve ever seen.  He constantly complains that the band members are boring and don’t want to get pissed.  Ironically he turns what could have been a rockumentary about a rather boring sober band into a funny investigation of sibling rivalry and the burdens of success and failure.

Showing at Cine Tonala

By Duncan Hall & Robin Davies