16 April 2010

Playing Squash

Over a year ago I saw the trailer for a film called Mancora, and it immediately appealed to my most intellectual film-watching tendencies (in a lot of the same ways Y Tu Mama Tambien did).

Somehow, this terribly written, acted and directed film did not reach theaters in my town. However, God gave us Netflix queues for a reason.

Despite its myriad faults, Mancora has the mile-wide cheekbones of Elsa Pataky, who I wouldn't say is bad looking in a white tank top:

It also has Phellipe Haagensen, whose name is incredibly hard to spell, playing the sort of mystical stoner he perfected in City of God.

And I kept watching our protagonist, Santiago (Jason Day), wondering where I'd seen him. Every time he rubbed a palm over his shaved head I had a pang of memory. It finally hit me. He's a dead ringer for Talan from MTV's Laguna Beach!

Unfortunately for Mr. Day, Talan is the better actor--but after figuring out their resemblance I was finally able to focus on each wave of banality as it crashed in.

Director Ricardo de Montreiul makes absolutely nothing happen for the 40 or so minutes it takes the characters to leave Lima and reach the titular beach town (he also has a fascinating inability to maintain continuity between day, evening and night shots--it takes somewhere between two and eight days to reach the coast). The film should really be reimagined as a feature-length advertisement for the real Mancora, Peru. Apparently, the populace is composed entirely of men who give you drugs and alcohol for free and incredibly tan young women who are dead-set on engaging you in threesomes. I, for one, found these plot elements completely plausible and in no way did scenes like the glass-polishing seen below exemplify the chauvinism of the director.

Poor Santiago is forced away from his true love by two locals who woo him into their bedroom with the only funny line in the film: "We're playing squash, wanna join us?" Yes. It turned out Santiago had a deep, untapped passion for the sport (though, confusingly, there were no visible racquets in the room).

See how pensive Santiago was before he learned how to play squash? Here's hoping this self-described "spiritual journey into paradise lost" takes up its rightful place as a late night fixture on Cinemax.

12 April 2010

Herzog Hits and Misses

This week on the CAB I take on the title and many other things in Werner Herzog's polarizing new film My Son, My Son What Have Ye Done.

While not even Verne Troyer can save that one, it wasn't so long ago that I saw Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans and thoroughly enjoyed myself. Maybe it was the fact that Herzog (despite good opportunities) didn't use any bird's eye view cameras in his latest film, whereas Bad Lieutenant featured iguana AND alligator cams.

It also has Nic Cage and his bad back oscillating between the influence of Harvey Keitel and Jimmy Stewart as he shells out lines like, "You don't have a lucky crack pipe?" I defy you to name a better B movie ensemble cast than Val Kilmer, Eva Mendes, Xzibit, Fairuza Balk, Jennifer Coolidge and Shawn Hatosy. Not to mention My Son, My Son players Brad Dourif and Michael Shannon, who have much less screen time but much more to do in Bad Lieutenant. Arrange the queue accordingly.