Flying is bad enough without the venomous instincts of reptiles aboard the flight. Considering how literal the title of this David R. Ellis feature is, it would be remiss of audience members to believe for a moment that Snakes on a Plane would spend most of its time, well, on a plane. Bloody and gore-infused in its opening moments where motorbikes ride through dirty streets, caricature-like business villains beat on nobodies and establishing shots build up nothing but Red Bull advertisements, this Samuel L. Jackson-led feature has little connectivity for any of its storyline elements. Keep it that way. It is probably for the best that none of this makes sense.
Dedication to an entity or person in the public sphere is frighteningly developed throughout The Incredibles. Buddy (Jason Lee) is a freak of nature that so many in the pop culture remit will have to deal with. Patrick Stewart must be tired of all those Star Trek fans, while others that have featured in Star Wars and Harry Potter have open contempt for the mega fans and freaks that follow it. That is what the eponymous character of The Incredibles hopes to show to those that follow him around, and it soon bites back. A feature from Pixar’s golden age shows not just their adeptness for featuring strong, culturally relevant tones, but also engaging with an exciting new wave for animation.
The drumbeat replicates the heart. As the record scratch bursts through, the pairing of Elmore Leonard’s eponymous character and the bondsman looking out for her is captured with excitement and keenness from the pulpy, blaxploitation style Quentin Tarantino wishes to replicate here. Jackie Brown (or Rum Punch to give it its real title) was never a text that exuded the notes and key roles of the blaxploitation feature, but Tarantino adapts it as such by twisting the arm of these characters and deploying a fine ensemble to take on the challenge. His critique of the typical machoism of the genre is on point, and surprisingly so. It is something not even Leonard could capture in his text.
As that layer of funk begins to flicker and the bullets begin to fly, Afro Samurai sets itself up as a flourishing, six-episode anime that brings the apocalypse to feudal Japan. Fuminori Kizaki’s piece of work offers clear and simple intentions for all characters involved. He does this so he can focus more of his time and efforts on the design of his heroes and villains, and the foregrounds they occupy. In those opening moments, both a villain and a reason for our hero to push forth are presented. That is all we as an audience will need. But how far can one character carry us through a world presented as dusty and grey not because it looks nice, but because it makes the blood look vibrant?
Where Encino Man looked to adopt a caveman to the modern world, did they believe they would have any impact on the formation of Captain America: The Winter Soldier? In its brief opening, Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) produces a list of culture he should experience now that he finds himself awakening in the flourishing modern metropolis of 2014. An exciting time to be alive, or so I’m told, Captain America: The Winter Soldier wishes to cement itself as a strong, independent bit of the Marvel Cinematic Universe puzzle and that it does, with fumbling style and ineffective grace, but a wholesome core and good competent fun making up for it.
Where do the losers and lost souls convene? Bars, apparently. They do so in Barfly, and Trees Lounge too. The likely story for these losers is that they are unhappy. Even films that do not centre themselves on sipping life away one swig at a time are finding themselves coupled with the dispassionate meaningless so many people cling to. Shaun of the Dead envisioned this well, with the slacker lifestyle crushing any hope of escapism or dream of life beyond the pint. Trees Lounge does this too. It shows pubs not as places of joy or place of social watering hole, but of a void that swallows up the down-on-their-luck and the misfits.
It is not often we receive an adaptation worthy of our time. We have not received one for the King of the Jungle in close to ninety years. Kong: Skull Island, initially impressed me. Popcorn entertainment applied thickly and with real grace to the big screen. How fast our memories fade. But what was it about this piece from Jordan Vogt-Roberts that I had initially liked? Simply put, the Vietnam historian within me was compelled by the setting and build-up, and I was spurred on by a love for the strong actors found in this ensemble. It is not often you get to see John Goodman and Samuel L. Jackson together, and I was not going to let a pesky Monsterverse shtick stand in my way of seeing strong supporting performances.
Throughout the 1990s, there was such a strange influx in gangster, crime and casino-oriented films. I blame Martin Scorsese for this decade long trend. He piloted this odd niche, crafting Goodfellas and Casino within five years of each other. Other directors attempted to latch onto this success, and newcomer Paul Thomas Anderson was one of them. In his directorial debut, Hard Eight, we’re thrown into a tepid relationship between a down on his luck casino player and one stranger who looks to pull him out of the dark and build him as his protégé. It’s an interesting premise that never quite takes flight.