Mini-Reviews: Sound of Noise, Queen of Versailles, Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning

Sound of Noise:

Currently streaming on Netflix is the Swedish-French comedy Sound of Noise, one of the most energetic and unique films to hit theaters in 2012. It follows a policeman (Bengt Nilsson) tracking down criminals, in typical fashion. The only difference is these criminals aren’t burglars or murderers… they’re musicians. They break into buildings– banks, hospitals, power plants– and perform percussive symphonies using anything they can find. When their first act involves using a man prepped for surgery as an instrument, our hero is on their trail. The diegetic original score is exciting and clever in its execution: it’s the stage show Stomp performed by rebellious outlaws. The film delves into absurdist territory from moment one and never looks back, so those who don’t find this style to their taste will grow weary of these antics quickly. Luckily, this is perfectly to my taste. It wears thin by the end, but perhaps this is primarily due to the first forty-five minutes being so strong that it was impossible to top. If the idea of musicians breaking into a bank and yelling “Everyone! This is a gig! Listen and no one gets hurt!” puts a smile on your face, seek this out immediately.

The Queen of Versailles:

Call this “Lifestyles of the Obscenely Rich and Famous.” This documentary starts by revealing the construction on the largest house in America. David Siegel is a wildly successful real estate mogul (he’s called The Timeshare King) and his wife Jacqueline is the flesh-and-blood equivalent of a Barbie doll. They talk flippantly about millions of dollars… when David is asked why he’s building the biggest house in America, he frankly replies, “Because I can.” However, when the real estate market crashes and Siegel loses much of his billions, we watch their struggles to cope with living merely as millionaires. While there is inherent comedy within this predicament (Jacqueline inquires at the rent-a-car facility what her driver’s name is), it’s primarily a portrait of the greed and delusion within Americans. We are all absolutely like the Siegels, just on relative scales. David at one point states bluntly: “You either are rich, or you want to feel rich, or you’re dead.” We all borrow from the bank what we don’t have, we all try vainly to maintain our status quo that we can’t afford, and we all want to feel like we can revel in the finer things in life when most of us can’t. Others may find joy at the Siegels’ misfortune; I found a long cold look in the mirror. Regardless, The Queen of Versailles provides a character study and an American allegory that is utterly compelling, deeply telling, and absolutely worth a watch by all.

Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning:

Behold, the best Universal Soldier to date! That’s a bizarre thing to say twenty years after the original, but the newest entry into the franchise gives an Apocalypse Now twist to the mythology, making it headier than its predecessors while not sacrificing the bone-crunching action. We begin with John (Scott Adkins) witnessing the murder of his wife and child at the hands of Luc Deveraux (Jean Claude Van Damme). He vows revenge against this man whom he has never met. Meanwhile, the government sends a new universal soldier after the existing soldiers, but he’s defeated by Andrew Scott (Dolph Lundgren). Scott shows us a world in which the universal soldiers have rebelled against their creators, forming an insurgent army against the government, with Deveraux as its Colonel Kurtz-esque leader. The first forty-five minutes or so are admittedly a bit of a chore to get through– there’s far more build than the film truly needs, but I admired its ambition to root its inevitable violence in, y’know… ideas. Once John realizes he can fight with the best of them, we get some enjoyable fight sequences. In particular, a brawl in a sporting goods store made such good use of nearby props that I wondered why there weren’t more cinematic brawls in sporting goods stores. There’s a definitive market for these types of films: you’re either intrigued or you aren’t. If you’re someone who has already watched more than one Universal Soldier film and you’re interested in continuing, you’re in for a treat. It’s my favorite of the franchise, bar none.

~ by russellhainline on December 25, 2012.

2 Responses to “Mini-Reviews: Sound of Noise, Queen of Versailles, Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning”

  1. […] it Ralph 5. Warren Ellis and Nick Cave, Lawless 4. Fred Avril, Magnus Borjeson, and Six Drummers, Sound of Noise 3. Alan Silvestri, The Avengers 2. Jon Brion, ParaNorman 1. Benh Zeitlin and Dan Romer, Beasts of […]

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