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Posts Tagged ‘How I Spent My Summer Vacation’

After three full years of my only ongoing feature, what will be the 36th Movie of the Moth? Here are eleven very different contenders:

Safe: More enjoyable nonsense from Jason Statham. Far from his best movie but it has its moments.

Salmon Fishing in the Yemen: Lightweight but enjoyable romantic comedy. Elevated by a great cast most notably an over the top Kristin Scott Thomas.

Silent House: A remake of a high concept Uruguayan, it makes all the same mistakes as the original most notably a concept and a twist that play against each other.

Café de Flore: A dreamy tale set in two eras and two countries, telling two seemingly unconnected stories. I would have liked to have seen a little less modern day and a little more Vanessa Paradis in the early 70’s.

How I Spent My Summer Vacation: Mel Gibson is back making the kind of movie he used to make. Not a great film but enjoyable non the less, it’s a shame it didn’t make it to American theatres considering some of the crap that does.

All in Good Time: Predictable comedy. It has some funny moments and is well acted but there just isn’t enough going on.

The Raid: After making the documentary Merantau highlighting the Indonesian martial art Silat Harimau, Welsh director Gareth Evans reunites with his star Iko Uwais to make a feature film. It doesn’t reinvent the action movie the way Die Hard did but it certainly reinvigorates it.

2 Days in New York: Sequel to 2 Days in Paris (2007) that succeeds is both funnier and simply better than the original. Julie Delpy is as great as ever but the real revelation is Chris Rock who is both funny and likeable.

Dark Shadows: A flawed and ill judged movie based on a long forgotten TV show that doesn’t know if it is comedy, horror or satire. It does however have the odd moment to remind us of the genius of Tim Burton and Johnny Depp.

Moonrise Kingdom: Wes Anderson has turned his unique quirky bittersweet eye on a coming of age drama. It is as funny as you would expect from Anderson, but it is more engaging and endearing thanks to fantastic performances from both the recognisable established actors and the unknown kids.

Snow White and the Huntsman: There are so many variations on the Snow White story, unfortunately this movie chooses to use them all. To its credit it looks good and all the cast are good. If you are going to see one Snow White movie this year it has to be this one not the Julia Roberts crap.

Movie of the Month is: 

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I miss Mel Gibson, when I say Mel Gibson, what I really mean Max Rockatansky and Martin Riggs. As a fan of his work I have always kind of hoped that his well published indiscretions are a symptom of his equally well published problems and not more deep-seated belief. How I Spent My Summer Vacation is his first movie playing his archetypical character for a long time, possibly since Payback (1999). This truly is a star vehicle, funded by Gibson, who produces and co wrote the movie. He also hand picked the director, Adrian Gruenberg (making his directorial debut) who had previously worked as assistant director on Apocalypto.

An American getaway driver (Mel Gibson) crashes into Mexico (literally) and is promptly arrested. In order to relive him of the proceeds of his crime (around $2million) the Mexican police dump him in an unusual jail. When he befriends a young boy with a unique value he is forced to think of more than just himself and his cash.

There is a scene towards the end of the movie where Gibson impersonates Clint Eastwood but long before that the film starts to resemble A Fistful of Dollars (1964)/Yojimbo (1961), I don’t think we ever learn what Gibson’s characters name is (from here on I will refer to him as Driver as he is credited on IMDB). The prison contains whole families and is run like a small town by a mob boss. There is even a wild west style shootout. Driver quickly learns who is in charge and what he needs to survive, all the time playing the angles to get out and get his money back. Although largely a likeable character Driver is at the end of the day a career criminal. Stealing from drug smuggling gangsters and helping others, he is given all the breaks when it comes to audience sympathy, not surprisingly when you consider Gibson is credited as both a writer and a producer.

Full of both the action and the dry whit you would expect from Martin Riggs, Gene Ryack and Porter, How I Spent My Summer Vacation is the story of man looking out for himself who finds a certain amount of redemption by thinking of others. Gibson’s own redemption can only be found in his personal life but attempting to get his career back on track and not disappearing to reclusive obscurity hints at a possible intention to do this. In the UK we get to see the movie on the big screen but in America it appears to have débuted on Video On Demand (under its original title Get the Gringo). This is a shame, while not a classic, it is good enough to deserve a theatrical release.

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