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Entries in Self/Less (2)

Wednesday
Jul152015

Review: Self/less

Tim here. Over the course of four movies starting with The Cell in 2000, director Tarsem Singh has established a very distinct approach to making movies. This basically consists of applying extraordinary, unreal style to thin, whispy stories, not using style to replace substance, but using the absence of substance as an argument in favor of style as a primary storytelling and character-building technique. This has earned him as many enemies as fans, and I don't know if anybody genuinely liked 2011's Immortals, but he's certainly established himself as one of the most distinctive visionaries working in anything like the mainstream.

And now, we find what he just can't do. Self/less is the director's fifth movie, possibly his worst, and beyond question his most generic. The director's biggest and boldest visual gesture is to use a lot of sideways tracking shots. Is this what the loss of the magnificent graphic artist Eiko Ishioka, who designed the costumes for all of Tarsem's previous movies before her death in 2012, means to his aesthetic? Then there's no reason to ever hope for him again. But there has to be something deeper than that, for Self/less shares production designer Tom Foden from all of the director's work outside of The Fall, and he's pretty thoroughly dropped the ball here. There's only one set in the film that feels even slightly distinctive on any level, a sleek grey ultramodern medical lab, and even that feels like a slightly more austere version of a thing we can see in at least three or four movies every year. [More...]

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Friday
Jul102015

Posterized: Ryan Reynolds

Contrary to what the P&A budget for Minions will have you believe, there are other movies opening this weekend. It's a big weekend in the top markets for LGBT releases. And nationwide a horror movie (The Gallows) and a new sci-fi body swap thriller Self/Less starring Ben Kingsley & Ryan Reynolds are also opening. I read a headline yesterday lamenting

WTF happened to Ryan Reynolds's career?" 

Ryan Reynolds in his first real year of stardom (2002) and now (2015). Images from Buying the Cow and Self/Less

And I thought: Well... nothing. It's always been this way!

He first won semi-stardom in 2002 frequently displaying his then amazing body (it wasn't the norm for male stars to look like cartoon superheroes OUT of costume just 12 years ago) in the popular college comedy Van Wilder and the lesser seen romantic comedy Buying the Cow. Since then it's been a constant annual barrage of mainstream comedies, mainstream action and franchise pics, and mainsteam horror. Some of his movies were barely screened or went straight to DVD but even those were populist ventures. Either Reynolds or his management just haven't had ambitions outside the multiplex. This has only very recently begun to change with experiments like Buried (good) and The Voices (terrible) which fit comfortably into populist genres but still were plainly too weird --even in screenplay stages -- for mass appeal. He's been perpetually "on the verge" but has never achieved anything beyond the B list. Okay, the B+ list.

So how many of his 24 pictures (excluding voice work and cameos) have you seen since his 2002 breakthrough? The posters are after the jump...

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