New Additions: “Cirque du Freak: The Vampire’s Assistant,” “Dirty Harry,” “Fame”
“Cirque du Freak: The Vampire’s Assistant” (Paul Weitz) – 2009
Yet another pre-teen book series destined to pan out on the big screen. Well, not quite. This quite underwhelming little farce about vampires, freaks and everything else under the moon just does not have the chops to make it in cinema, and its incredibly poor box office definitely put a stone cold halt to its chances of continuation. The film does have scattered moments of nearly intelligent humor, mostly from the mouth of John C. Reilly, who’s always enjoyable and actually gets to relish in playing just a straight-up cool character. Some of the visual effects are also very well made. However, none of this can save it from being flat and, as Roger Ebert puts it, bloodless. It is that in both the lack of conciseness in its narrative and drive, as well as the quality of bloody-good fun. I mean really, folks. This is a vampire movie that has virtually no blood in it. Where’s the fun in that?
GRADES: C * * 1/2 / * * * * * 4.8 / 10.0
“Dirty Harry” (Don Siegel) – 1971
What a shame that a film like this one has risen to the rank of “classic” in the long-standing genre of cops and robbers. Don Siegel’s ultra-conservative response to “Bonnie and Clyde” is as shallow, absurd and disgusting as its politics are. The protagonist, “Dirty” Harry Callahan is one of the most repulsive and cartoonish heroes ever to spring from the mind of white America. The thing that makes him this is the fact that he is not an anti-hero. He is not a character that the audience roots for or enjoys but knows that they’re not supposed to. There’s nothing about the film that examines the fact Callahan is a horrible person. No, for the audience, he is a red-blooded hero that we can all admire. Aside from this, the story and its direction are pretty bad. Too many laughable moments to count. Good things about the film? Well, it’s got an admirable sound mix.
GRADES: C- * * / * * * * * 4.0 / 10.0
“Fame” (Kevin Tancharoen) – 2009
A letdown film that actually had me kind of stoked after an above average trailer. A remake of a film that I haven’t seen, I cannot imagine “Fame” has much to offer that the original did not. Much like films of its kind such as “Drumline” or “Step Up,” the film is a wet dream for dancers or musicians who live the life of these (s0-called) characters. Yet, for everyone else who understands movies, this is an absolute mess. Yes, a few of the musical numbers are pretty fun, but they’re far from show-stopping. The characterizations are a joke. Out of the wealth of characters, not a single one is fleshed out properly. Coming in and out of the story so randomly that you really can’t keep track of what they’re up to, nor should you really care. The movie also contains some rotten performances, including that of Kherington Payne, big shot from the game show “So You Think You Can Dance.” Well, maybe she can do that, but hopefully this is a lesson for her to remain on the dance floor where she belongs and off of the silver screen.
GRADES: C- * * / * * * * * 3.6 / 10.0