Friday, April 09, 2010

Slap


After seeing Bitch Slap and Hell Ride, which I previously said was what it would look like "if Beavis grew up and made a movie", the genius of Pervert! only becomes more apparent.

I can't say I have a lot to say about it. There are a lot of "turn off your brain" and "if you like chicks and guns, you'll love this!" reviews out there.

Suffice it to say, I did not rent this or turn it on expecting Dostoevsky and anyone who has read this blog should know I love chicks and guns. So those reviews are just flat-out wrong.

I wish they weren't. I saw the trailer months back and thought "Cool!" I think I even posted about it.

If I had to point to what turned me off, though, it'd come down to two things.

First, the movie makes no attempt to draw us in or involve us with it's characters before going off into some faux-Tarantino complex timeline, bogged down with characters crap. I just complained about this in regard to Shoot First and Pray You Live! Dammit! These people need to study their Tarantino more carefully, I swear!

For whatever various of my readers may think of Tarantino, he always sets the scene, his main character and their world before twisting everything around. Frankly, making things that I think are as good as Tarantino may be hard, but setting up the reasons I'm at least supposed to care before introducing multiple timelines and boatloads of character is super-fuckin'-easy, so I have no patience to ignore that for movies that don't even try!

The second is the acting.

I know what you're thinking, "Neil, did you seriously hope for decent acting in something like this?"

Well, kinda. Maybe I'm missing something, but I took it as a kind of post-Tarantino trashy movie tribute rather than any old simple direct-to-DVD actioner. And frankly, the movie itself bears out that intention, even if it fails miserably.

But the acting in this is not mere "bad acting". This is bad actors trying to act like bad actors.

Look, I'm a fan of stylized acting. I think it's a skill that's been unfairly neglected and harshly criticized in recent years. I've seen plenty of younger critics complain about older movies and their "fake" acting. Honestly, it's a pile of crap. Doing a good job at stylized acting is, I think, harder than doing a good job at "realistic" acting. And that's one of the dangers of trying it with a low-budget movie like this.

Mind you, it can still be done. I thought Sin City showed that well. The actors are all working within the tonal quality of a film noir, but if one pays attention, it's easy to see that they're also conveying, embodying even, the emotions of their character in that moment. On the other level is something like Airplane!, whose intention is largely to have some fun at the expense at that acting style, but in that case they hired masters of that style and let the fact of what they're saying be the joke.

In Bitch Slap there is none of that. There is no truth or attempt at realizing a character, it's all a flat imitation of a bad performance. Which is honestly, substantially worse, and more annoying, than a real bad performance, because a real bad actor is trying to convey something real, and in that, there's some potential for bits of truth to leak out.

Tarantino movies and Pervert!, both already noted, have the advantage of not being intended as "ironic tributes", but full-on unabashed tributes, and frankly, they're all the better for it.

For those searching for simple trash, I should note that this movie is also essentially free of nudity. Perhaps, in this case, a small blessing, as I remain a bit traumatized from the last time I saw America Olivo's boobs.

I'll still hold out hope for this kind of ass-kickin'-chicks tribute to movies of old style. I like it too much in principle not to. And as long as Pistoleras - by Elisabeth Fies, who directed the very interesting The Commune - is potentially on the horizon, there's at least one worth giving a chance to.


UPDATE: I am adding a link to Movies: Bitching and moaning. This is frankly a perfect review of the movie. It also says so much of what I'd recently been thinking since the passing of Malcolm McLaren. Not to mention speaking eloquently about how people view movies generally lately... although that could be my inference more than anything.

Since you've apparently already read through my review, do yourself a favor and read a truly great one.


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