Grande Bouffe, La (1973)
★ / ★★★★
“La Grande Bouffe,” or “The Big Feast,” directed by Marco Ferreri, was such a huge disappointment for me because I’ve heard a lot of good things about it, especially from critics and bloggers that I look up to for recommendations. Since my expectations were a bit hyped up, while actually watching it, it was such a letdown because the characters that came from different backgrounds–a pilot (Marcello Mastroianni), a chef (Ugo Tognazzi), a judge (Philippe Noiret) and a television star (Michel Piccoli)–were so uninteresting for such an interesting premise. The four friends hired prostitutes and had orgies in a massive getaway mansion as they ate more food than they could digest in one sitting. Just when I thought that the story would evolve into something more, I felt like it actually tried to stay in one place and featured more images of sex and gluttony. Admittedly, I’m the kind of person that can endure watching pretty much all kinds of sexual acts but this film made me wince repeatedly. I’m not quite sure if that was the kind of reaction that the director had it mind or if it was supposed to be genuinely sensual or erotic. But since it’s a dark comedy, I’m guessing it’s the former so perhaps, in a way, it succeeded on that level. Morever, for having such a group of supposedly smart gentlemen, they sure acted like adolescent morons for most of the picture. I didn’t see any scenes where any of them offered some sort of insight that made me think of their situation (or any situation for that matter) any differently. I felt like writers just had this one idea of excess but never quite broken from that in order to reach the next level. (And for a picture that ran for more than two hours, there was absolutely no excuse for that.) I also did not appreciate the slapstick that involved scenes with flatulence and excrement. I’m not a big fan of slapstick in the first place because they tend to rub me the wrong way so this film became that much worse in my book. Just when I thought it couldn’t get any worse, the final scenes that revealed the fate of the four main characters felt completely forced and I couldn’t help but roll my eyes. It was a complete waste of my time and I almost wished I never saw it.
Underworld: Rise of the Lycans (2009)
★ / ★★★★
I don’t find any good reason for this film to have been made. From beginning to end, I found the story uninteresting, the characters were one-dimensional, the special and visual effects were nothing extraordinary, and the pacing was very slow to the point of boredom. I don’t know how Bill Nighy and Michael Sheen got mixed up in this terrible mess. This prequel to the first “Underworld” installment was about how the Lycans/werewolves got the upperhand over the aristocratic vampires (led by Nighy). That’s pretty much it, really. For an hour and thirty minutes, they showed the romance between a Lycan (Sheen) and a vampire (Rhona Mitra), while also giving audiences one senseless action scene after another. It got exhausting really quickly and I lost interest twenty minutes into the picture. The only reason why I think this sequel was made was because the first two “Underworld” movies were successful. Having realized that success, the studios wanted more money even though they knew that the script was dead on arrival. One of my biggest problems was Nighy’s “moral dilemma” when he found out that his daughter has been sleeping with a werewolf. The movie tries to show that he cares for his daughter by looking agonized and sad in an empty room after he decides that she should be punished. I couldn’t help but roll my eyes (and laugh–or was it scoff?–a bit inside) because if he really did care for his daughter, since he’s the leader of the vampires and as a father who genuinely loves his daughter, he would do anything in his power to make her happy. Instead, I saw him as this tyrant who loves power more than his daughter; he deserves to fall hard on his face and suffer in every possible way. I felt like the director (Patrick Tatopoulos) and writers (Danny McBride and Dirk Blackman) thought that the audiences are stupid. It’s insulting in the least. Please avoid this mess of a movie at all cost.