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Friday, 30 November 2012

The Thin White Dude's Reviews - Project X

Directed by: Nima Nourizadeh

Produced by: Todd Phillips

Screenplay by: Matt Drake
Michael Bacall

Story by: Michael Bacall

Starring: Thomas Mann
Oliver Cooper
Jonathan Daniel Brown
Kirby Bliss Blanton
Alexis Knapp

Cinematography by: Ken Seng

Editing by: Jeff Groth

Studio(s): Silver Pictures
Green Hat Films

Distributed by: Warner Bros. Pictures

Release date: March 2, 2012

Running time: 84 minutes

Country: United States

Language: English

Production budget: $12 million

Box office revenue: $100, 931, 865

Aloha, me back to business as usual, doing my thang (not a G-thang, unfortunately, but a thang nevertheless), reviewing movies and being a nerd in general. On that note, I saw in Queens today a fascinating low-budget Senegalese picture from 1973 called Touki Bouki, directed by Djibril Diop Mambety. It was like an East African El Topo by way of Bunuel, say if you like the sound of that potpourri, check it out. Also, on the topic of literature, I'm finding Clive Barker's Books Of Blood a welcome distraction during my study breaks (along with everything else that keeps me from any form of academic work), so for more info on irrelevant and banal topics, with interspersed snippets of film reviews, keep your eyes posted.

Rightio, so today's film for review is Project X. Now, I know the film came out at the beginning of 2012, but it still counts for eligibility to review, so I'm throwing this one in there. Me and this movie have a bit of an interesting history already. I make no bones to anyone who cares to listen (and those who don't) that I think the lad culture is a syphilitic bacterium that if personified I would hope perishes violently by way of the judas cradle. So, although I (attempt to) maintain a perspective of objectivity, it had that against, and I couldn't be bothered paying to see it any form, so I tried streaming it for free. However, it stopped about half-an-hour in, and so I tried and I tried, and I decided "right, a real critic has to wade through the cesspool, not try to jump over it," so, with great trepidation (believe me, I genuinely horrible for doing so), I paid £5 for it in my local Tesco. Yes, I actually bought and own a physical copy of Project X! I know some of you out there will have been happy to pay for this movie, but I'd lying if I said that going into it I had any semblance of a good feeling about it. I just want to get that out of the way so that if anyone wants to say I was biased beforehand, I can say you're right, and save us both some time. Anywho, short synopsis, Project X follows Thomas (Thomas Mann), Costa (Oliver Cooper) and J.B. (Jonathan Daniel Brown), who after Thomas' parents give him the responsibility of taking care of the house, decide to earn popularity by throwing a massive and wild party at the house. That's all you need to know, comprende? Good, now sit back and enjoy the ride!

Now, I may as well forfeit any pretence of objectivity, because I'm not being objective whatsoever, okay! That said, there were certain things that I did like about Project X. Certain individual gags in the film work, such as the most intimidating midget perhaps in movie history. Bad things happen, but I can tell you if I wouldn't be messing with that guy, and his reactions to all this stuff is pretty amusing. Also, the climax of the party itself descends into utter anarchy on a level akin The Crazies and any number of post-apocalyptic nightmares. In these scenes, I sat up and paid attention, and it made me think "why couldn't the rest of the movie have been like this?" The accompaniment of Metallica's Battery, Master Of Puppets being one of my all-time favourite records, is also a welcome deviation from the (mostly) banal house/dubstep music that pulsates throughout the film, more of which later. So, there's about fifteen solid minutes in it's favour. Also, I'd be denying if I didn't think at times it was a technically sharp film, and I think the idea of giving out iPhones and various recording devices to extras is an inspired move, and gives the film little details that are fascinating for all their lack of screen time. Finally, I must complement the performance of Jonathan Daniel Brown. In a movie that is so bereft of legitimate character development, both from a writing and acting standpoint, Daniel Brown manages to make J.B. a sweet, endearing and most importantly, three-dimensional character.

Those were the things I liked. Don't think that the amount of space devoted there means that I particularly liked the movie as a whole, because I most certainly did not: here comes the proverbial boom! Many things have been said in the press about the film's misogynistic look at the female form and the celebration of excessive drug abuse, but I think to get angry at the film in this way is giving the film too much credit. I don't think highly of these aspects of the film, but the argument has been played to death, and I want to make it perfectly clear that this is not a film of disreputable influence because of the 'Project X' parties that have arrived in the wake of it's release. The berks involved already had these 'personality' traits in them, and a movie did not make them do it! Right, sociological diatribe done, lets discuss what's wrong with the film. Aside from the odd gag and the climax of the party, it's a mostly unfunny movie. The first act takes what feels like an aeon to start, and a large portion of the party itself lags behind. I mean, if I was drinking while watching this, I'd be saying "Hurry the hell up, why are you still sober?" Also, the screenplay, aside from J.B. (which I think is more down to the actor) fails to have any character you really sympathise with. Thomas Cub is a two-dimensional protagonist, while Costa is just an outright asshole, and I think in this regard, a few words must be said on the actors who play them. Thomas Mann fails in drawing the audience into his dilemma. He's meant to have us empathise with the fact that he wants a reputation and is suffering from angst and what have you, but he comes across as somewhere between an inanimate by way of whingebag. Now, the might Oliver Cooper manages to play the most annoying character of the year. My good friend at Danland Movies complimented his comic timing, and I agree, his timing is right, but his delivery is all-off. Armed with a squeaky voice and obviously channeling small-man syndrome, Cooper is never funny once, and I spent have half the time wanting to punch this guy. It's scary because I know some people will think Costa is one of the coolest mothercanucker's to grace the screen, but he lacks any redeeming quality where his acting is regarded. Appropriate comparisons have been drawn to Superbad, in that there you have a similar format, but you have three actors, all of whom are great, and a note-perfect script, which makes them three-dimensional. This is just snore-inducing. A final note on the script, it revels in the indulgences of the lad culture, which I make no bones about how much I hate, but if it was consistent I'd accept it for all its bawdiness more freely. Unfortunately, it tries to do an about-face and say "There's more to life than this" and I'm just like "No! You cannot stick your hand of both of the cookie jars!" I'd rather it just stayed it's crass self than trying to tack on this whole nonsensical attempt to say "It's not just about naked bitches, hedonism and drug abuse," especially when they go back on themselves within minutes of doing it. Another thing I want to talk about is the music. Now, I always lay into music in film, but this time I want to make a point. We have occasional interludes into stuff by Nas, D12, Dr. Dre ft. Snoop Dogg, but most of it is banal mainstream R&B hip-hop which has been the victim of a shitty remix by DJ 'Ahem!'Head. This is kind of thing that drives a paranoid, high-strung punk like myself into palpitations. I take allergic reactions to this type of music every time I walk into a nightclub, but I want to make it clear that there are only really two genres of music: good and bad. While I'm primarily into my punk/post-punk music, I am a big fan of hip hop, which I think has a lot of the raw qualities that punk does, but most of this stuff is that crap rap with an R&B side, which is the musical equivalent of applying sandpaper to an otherwise edgy product. Put them into a three-way dance with the club remix effect, many of which have had the dubstep treatment, dubstep being the current fad in dance music, and so what you get is a lot of that wah-wahhing and chaotic arhythmic bass-thumping on top off all those elements. It's a sound to behold, but a thoroughly unpleasant one. I realise I've went off on one with this movie, but there's a lot to be said, but on a concluding note about the negatives, I think Nima Nourizadeh just threw all these things together, because it does seem that there is a real lack of care about making a good film, because at it's heart seems to be a big ringing cash-till that says "Insert money here." There was no artistic control over this picture whatsoever, and ends up being not only an incredibly painful and nauseating assault, but also a superfluous picture. In the end, I'd just recommend going out to a nightclub, because you see enough of this kind of dickhead behaviour on a Saturday night (it's times like these I love working weekends!).

Before I'm accused of using this as a scapegoat, I want to say that Project X does have some good things about it. The gags with the midget are good, and the climax of the party is genuinely insane and creative in terms of it's stylistic execution. In that regard, along with some little gems in the party, there's about fifteen minutes of solid material. Also, Jonathan Daniel Brown is good, and I'd be lying if I said that the inclusion of Metallica's Battery wasn't welcome. However, these qualities do not redeem a bad movie. I'm not going to get my knickers in a twist over the argument as to whether or not it's misogynistic (it is!), because I think to get offended by this movies content is too much to its credit. Sergei Eisenstein's The Battleship Potemkin is Communo-propagandistic balderdash, but it's still one of the greatest films ever made. This certainly isn't. It's shoddily scripted, with terrible structure, badly written character with no redeeming qualities (Travis Bickle's more likeable than Costa!), who are mostly acted poorly by the way, and then it has the gall, the absolute nerve to try and say "There's more to life than this." I understand they're trying to bring in teenage angst and what have you, this is a guy who 'used' to skulk around the city centre in a Kurt Cobain top and listen to The Cure and Joy Division, but I'd rather that it didn't try to deny how crass it really is. Aurally it's a nearly complete wreck, with the worst combination of rap/hip-hop, R&B and club remixes by way of dubstep, which may as well be white noise considered the mess it makes of your ears and its banal sound. Finally director Nima Nourizadeh just threw all these things together, full of fads and trends (hasn't the 'found-footage' deal been done to death?) with a big ringing cash till at the centre of all this. No control, absolutely nauseating, redundant and superfluous. Just head out to any nightclub and you'll see this kind of behaviour without the circumstantial necessity of having to watch Project X.

The Thin White Dude's Prognosis - 2.6/10

The Thin White Dude's Self-Diagnosis - Migrainous (reviewing this movie makes me want work the heavy bag I get that frustrated thinking about it! I just want to be done with it forever!)

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