Lowbrow / highbrow

Jan 31, 2007 at 12:00 am

The Marine
20th Century Fox

Whatever happened to the American action flick? You know — big beefy dudes with little peckers fighting outrageous villains in an orgy of violence that could fill even the nearest teste with jizz? Thankfully, the WWE have spurt forth a wallop of an actioner with The Marine, starring one of their pea-headed prime-time wrestlers, John Cena. The good news is that patriotism hardly figures into the plot — of which there's none. All you should know is that a gaggle of diamond thieves kidnap an ex-Marine's wife while on the run and it's up to the former ass-kicker for the state to fuck 'em up. What follows is a flame-filled ballet of bullets, brawn and brainless frolic. For a fun drinking game, slam one down every time the Marine jumps from an explosion — and just maybe you'll feel like you've been hammered by Cena himself. —Jeremy Wheeler

Jesus Camp
Magnolia Pictures

Directors Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady (The Boys of Baraka) take on this film's hot-button subject matter with as much objectivity as possible. Still, Jesus Camp, like David Kuo's book Tempting Faith, seems intended for an audience of progressive analyzers of the country's cultural and theological divisions since the rise of the Bush administration and its outspoken religious-right pandering. Liberals will be outraged by the eye-opening revelations the film presents about the indoctrination of children into evangelical soldiers of Christ. Parents send their kids to a cult-like Bible camp in North Dakota, where they practice televangelist techniques, speak in tongues and pray for righteous Supreme Court justices. They home-school them so the impressionable minds won't be infested with left-wing propaganda, such as evolution and global warming. Then they pack them off to super-churches in Colorado for more brainwashing. The pastor of the super-church documented in the film happens to be none other than Ted "Gay-Hookers-'n'-Methamphetamine" Haggard, a feather in the cap for any liberal viewer ready to shout, "Hypocrisy!" It should be noted that most of the young adults in the film seem like wonderful people with brilliant minds and bright futures — shame on the parents who aren't allowing them to think for themselves and receive proper education. —John Thomason

The Weinstein Company Home Entertainment

If Prey were a National Geographic Special this is what you'd learn:

1) Smelling lion poop may help determine whether your family has been eaten while on safari.

2) A family vacation to Africa is not a good place to test family dynamics — particularly if your kids despise your new young honey.

3) Drought makes lions hungry — don't sightsee in a vehicle painted like a zebra.

4) If your daughter is a vegetarian, don't offer her warthog that's been roasted over an open pit.

These are but a few of the asinine things one can glean from Prey, which doesn't even attempt any level of plausibility even though it's "inspired by true events." The filmmakers responsible for this lazy piece of celluloid shit forgot the whole man vs. nature struggle and opted instead to just rip off Cujo and Savage Harvest. You know a movie's gone wrong when you start hoping the bitchy daughter will stray just far enough from the vehicle to become Serengeti-style Tender Vittles. Prey confirms one thing: Morons deserve to languish at the bottom of the food chain along with their films. —Paul Knoll

La Moustache
Koch Lorber Films

So this guy shaves his mustache, kicking off a slowly unfolding chain of misremembrance, identity crisis and an all-around losing of his mind. Of course it's a French film. The mustache belongs to midlife malaise victim Marc Thiriez (Vincent Lindon), and the fact nobody seems to remember him ever having one in the past 15 years is a device meant to represent larger themes. Unfortunately, director Emmanuel Carrère (who also wrote the 1987 novel upon which the film is based) doesn't clarify those themes. Much of Carrère's literary work has dealt with the various functions of self-identification, and that's clearly something at play in La Moustache, as the viewer is never entirely sure at which stage of reality we're currently seeing Marc. When his baffled freak-outs culminate in a bizarre panic trip to Hong Kong in the third act, the movie goes from curious and puzzling to bat-shit weird. An agonizingly prolonged scene on the Hong Kong ferry — back and forth and back and forth — surely represents an existential dilemma, but it winds up feeling more like a French take on Groundhog Day. When Marc comes out of the other end of the rabbit hole by the film's end, the disparate pieces come together in a way that's neither completely satisfying nor blithely patronizing. —Jason Ferguson

Tartan Video

Sometimes there's nothing better than a good mind-fuck of a foreign horror flick to kick off a brand-new year. Thankfully, one slam bang of a "what the shit?" flick just landed on DVD shelves. Here's the gig: a group of raver dipshits are seduced to a stately house in the middle of nowhere to party down with a comely chick (the raven-headed Roxane Mesquida) they'd just met, only to realize that the craziest night of their lives lies ahead. Enter a creepy caretaker (the hillbilly-ready Vincent Cassel) whose toothy grin and perverse tactics are Grade-A freak-out and starts the film on a disturbing spiral of sex, incest, murder, naked retards and good old satanism. And — it's fookin' hilarious too. Confused? Of course. Not for the squeamish. —Jeremy Wheeler

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