Film Briefs: “2 Guns”, “The Act of Killing” and “Prince Avalanche”

Emile-Hirsch-Exclusive-InterviewFilm Briefs is our way of giving our opinion on films we might not necessarily have the time to review in full.  This is a column where we sum up our feelings about movies currently playing in theatres and throw ‘em up just to give you an idea of what’s out there.

Follow the jump to see briefs for 2 Guns, The Act of Killing and Prince Avalanche

2 Guns

2-Guns-movie-screenshot_img32two-stars12Slow motion explosion scene – check.

Shrugging off gun shot wounds and beatings to the chest with a baseball bat like one would a punch to the forearm – check.

Rooting for the underdog whose up against both his Government and the drug cartel – check.

Cheesy one-liners – check.

Yet another negative betrayal of Mexicans aimed at a mass audience – check.

Dumb summer mindless entertainment reenforcing everything I’ve come to love about violence in cinema as if it were the 1980s all over again – check.

Now for the two biggest downsides to the film 1: Sadly, Denzel had more screen time than the more interesting character played by Wahlberg and 2: The action sequences and set pieces were uninspired to the point of being just downright bland.

The Act of Killing

Act_of_killing_03five-starsRarely is cruelty – true cruelty – examined in such a fantastical, absurd, scary, disturbing, funny and real way. Come to think of it, not since Barbet Schroeder‘s timeless 1974 documentary, General Idi Amin Dada have I felt so haunted and engrossed in watching a sociopath.

This documentary follows a few (well, mainly two) former ruthless death squad leaders in Indonesia who have killed hundreds without flinching and have not only never been punished for their crimes, but are praised for them. When asked to act out their crimes, they dress up in either gangster attire from films they’ve seen, or, in one case, women’s clothes. These re-enactments range from absurd to hauntingly authentic. Because these bullies/sociopaths have zero fear of ever being persecuted for their killing sprees they are willing to tell all, and it doesn’t appear as if they are holding anything back.

Prince Avalanche

Prince_Avalanche_01four-stars4It’s as if Director David Gordon Green‘s last three films, Pineapple Express (2008)Your Highness (2011) and The Sitter (2011) never happened and he’s picked up right where he left off after making George Washington (2000)All the Real Girls (2003)Snow Angels (2007), and the anomaly of his catalogue that is Undertow (2004). What those latter bulk of films have that his bigger budget predecessors do not is any focus whatsoever on making the characters or their world feel real in any way. Simply put, they had no heart. Sure, they may be fun to spend a couple of hours with and even elicit a chuckle or two, but at the end of the movie all that you’re left with are some hollow laughs and a hungry need for something a little more cinematically substantial. That’s not the case with Gordon Green’s earlier films and is clearly not the case with his newest offering either. Indeed, DGG is back to his old ways, only this time out he’s a lot funnier.

Now, as for the plot it’s basically just two dudes (Emile Hirsch and Paul Rudd) shooting the shit while painting lines and inserting sign posts along a new road through a burnt out forest. Simple plotting allows the comedy to breathe, and there is a lot of comedy to take in here.

Both actors of course turn in good performances and do great jobs at disappearing into their roles and having me forget who they are.  In fact, Emile, who may have gained weight on purpose or not for this role, did such a good job that he was unrecognizable as himself, instead passing for more of a younger Jack Black. For the record, I’m not a big fan of Jack Black, yet even while spotting the similarities of these actors – in looks alone – I was still thoroughly enjoying the film.

Oh yeah, this is also an adaptation/remake of  Hafsteinn Gunnar Sigurðsson‘s Icelandic film, Either Way. Just thought you should know.

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