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Archive for March 29th, 2010

Kick-Ass

After working as a producer, most famously on Guy Ritchie movies Matthew Vaughn directed Layer Cake a movie that virtually reinvented the British gangster movie that was at the time suffocating under all the Guy Ritchie-alike crap. Layer Cake gave us a slick, stylish and exciting film that looked more like a Michael Mann than a Guy Ritchie movie. Three years later he made Stardust, a romantic fairytale co-written by Jane Goldman (Jonathan Ross’ wife) featuring Sienna Miller and Robert De Niro in drag. As terrible as the film sounded it was actually brilliant. So that brings us onto Kick-Ass based on the premise of what would happen if an ordinary everyday person decided to become a supper hero. Clearly we have already seen this all before last year in Watchmen, what can another movie offer other than a comedy spoof on the idea. Kick-Ass is so much more than a spoof on super hero movies, and strictly speaking it isn’t a comedy. It is funny, very funny but not exactly a comedy. It is a coming of age drama, a satire on human nature and modern society and a violent bloody action movie.

Dave Lipetsk (Aaron Johnson – John Lennon in last years Nowhere Boy) is a normal geeky high school student who along with his two even more geeky friends reads comic books. One day he wonders out loud why nobody has ever become a superhero. Despite his friends telling him it is dumb idea he (without telling his friends) goes ahead with the plan. After a false start that introduces a useful plot device Dave intervenes in a fight and is filmed by a kid with a mobile thus making his alter ego Kick Ass a youtube Phenomenon. Meanwhile Damon Macready aka Big Daddy (a surprisingly restrained Nicolas Cage) and his eleven year old daughter Mindy Macready aka Hit Girl (Chloe Moretz – Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s sister in 500 Days of Summer) have had the same idea about becoming super heroes and are on a quest for revenge involving local gangster Frank D’Amico (Mark Strong).

The casting is perfect Johnson plays geeky to perfection, Lyndsy Fonseca does well with what little she has to work with as the love interest. Strong is rapidly becoming Hollywood’s go-to guy for villainous roles both straight and comic, he plays them all with relish. Here he is well supported by fellow brits (and graduates of British gangster movies) Jason Flemyng, Dexter Fletcher and Tamer Hassan. But the heart of the movie rests with Hit Girl, if the casting was wrong or the chemistry between Cage and Moretz was off the whole film would have failed. As it is she is the cement that holds the film together, I have heard many people compare her as a cross between The Bride from Kill Bill and Matilda from Leon, I think this is an accurate assessment. The great appeal of the Dave/Kick-Ass character is that (other than the fact he becomes Kick-Ass) he is an ordinary everyday guy with everyday issues. He has no real agenda or motivation, he isn’t looking for revenge or redemption, he is just looking for meaning, direction or in other words something to do. This sense of realism amongst the ridicules is refreshing but not the best thing about the movie, the best thing is its self awareness. Based on a comic book by Mark Millar, the movie knows it’s a comic book movie, this is alluded to in the voiceover that like the film itself references other comic books. Amongst all the fun the film has to offer, and it is tremendous fun there is also a lot of violence and a large body count. The dialogue is edgy, cutting, snappy and brilliant although many viewers will find it hugely offensive, for example Hit Girl uses the words cunt and cock and tells her farther that she is only fucking with him. All these things are done for comic effect as recognised by the BBFC. The shock value really adds to the comedy. Speaking of shock value, there is some really great uses of music, Bad Reputation by Joan Jett is a good fit for the movie, but it’s the songs that don’t fit that have a the most impact for example the Banana Splits theme and Elvis’ version of Battle Hymn of the Republic from An American Trilogy used in violent shootouts provides a memorable juxtaposition. Made for a reported $28 million but looking like it was made for a lot more it really should make money.

As the film goes on it gets darker without loosing its comic edge. It is all held together by the cutting dialogue and the John Woo style action. The movie ends with a Spiderman inspired postscript (with a reference to Batman) and like all great movies it leaves you wanting more hopefully they will have the nerve to leave people wanting and not cash in with a sequel.

Four Stars out of Five

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Hair

I have just seen the Scott Pilgrim vs. the World trailer where Mary Elizabeth Winstead seems to be sporting some unusual hair colours. So I thought I would compile a list of similarly wacky choices. (I know some of them are wigs!)

One of my personal favourites and most iconic looks from recent years: Franka Potente in Run Lola Run

Not to be confused with the more orange Milla Jovovich in The Fifth Element

One of Kate Winslet’s looks form  Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

Pink wigs must have been the thing in the early 00’s, Natalie Portman in Closer

And Scarlett Johansson just a year before in Lost in translation

Angelina Jolie’s locks look conservative next to Ryan Phillippe in Playing by Heart

Will Chloe Moretz ever be able to get beyond playing such an iconic character as Mindy Macready/Hit Girl at such a young age?

Who have I missed out?

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