Monday, October 13, 2008

meat feast.

The Midnight Meat Train (2008).
Dir: Ryuhei Kitamura.
Star: Bradley Cooper, Leslie Bibb, Brooke Shields, Nora, Roger Bart, Barbara Eve Harris, Peter Jacobson and Ted Raimi.

Horse faced New York-based photographer, Leon Kaufman (Cooper), who wants more from his career than chasing ambulances a shooting shoppers falling thru' shop windows in a kinda You've Been Framed manner. This wouldn't be so bad if he actually did anything about it apart from whine continuously at his waitress girlfriend Maya (the frighteningly banana chinned Bibb). Obviously sick to the back teeth of his moaning face she takes matters into her own hands and gets their arty pal Jurgis (Bart, not Simpson) to arrange a meeting with the pole-arsed art gallery owner, Susan (wasn't she in the Bangles?) Hoff (long necked star of loads of things and distant relative of my wife's boss, Shields).

"I'm sorry I can't return any of your drawings".

After viewing his portfolio of drunk jakeys and stressed commuters she announces that his stuff is shite and that he needs to find his own 'voice' (which is strange cos he doesn't sound dubbed).

Hoff reckons that Leon needs to capture the 'right moment' if he is to truly document the heart of the city and the only way he can do this is to wander around in the dead of night hoping to get shots of tramps pissing in alleys etc.

Don't you just love modern art?

"Shoots you sir!"

Still whiny but somewhat inspired (you can tell because he raises both eyebrows like a tiny mouse getting orally pleasured by Stevie Nicks), Leon grabs his duffel coat and bobble hat before heading off into the night and within a few minutes is following a trio of bad boys as they head down into the subway.

Catching up with the gang just as they're starting to hassle a sexy lady on the stairs (the exotically named Nora) for a wee bit of knife point lovin' Leon silently snaps away as tho' detached from the horror unfolding in front of him.

He snaps back to reality when the gang leader approaches him menacingly (I say menacingly but he's only about five foot two) muttering "Wassup mutha fuckah?" under his breath. Leon keeps shooting before pointing out that the nasty lad is standing directly in the line of the stations CCTV camera so, should he try any badness it'll be capture on film.

Tutting loudly the gang walk away leaving Leon to get a big snog off Nora before she races to her train.

Vinnie parting your mum's beef curtains.

Feeling kinda wired, as John Barrowman would put it, Leon returns home and develops his pics, which garner what looks like an oh so slightly troubled frown from his girlfriend (tho' it may be something else, I was too busy looking at her big, curved face).

Hoff agrees (about the pics, not Maya's face) and tells him that if he can get just two more photo's of the same quality she'll include his work in an upcoming exhibition (of what? women almost getting raped on the subway?).

This bit of good luck is somewhat spoiled by the fact that the woman he rescued has now gone missing.

"Come lick my art-hole".

Leon becomes (very quickly it seems) obsessed with solving the mystery. Could it have been the bad boys circling round and extracting revenge Or could the smartly dressed ex-Chelsea footie hard man now working as a butcher who spends his evenings riding the night trains be to blame?

Well seeing as we saw him off a guy in the pre-credits sequence it does seem the most likely.

Will Leon solve the mystery of the disappearances?

Will Vinnie speak?

Will a bunch of erect nippled demons turn up at the end for no reason other than Clive Barker likes that kinda shit?

Kitamura points out the guy who sold Clive those trousers.

Midnight Meat Train, the American debut from the maverick genius behind Versus, Azumi and the bloody fantastic Godzilla: Final War, the happily hair helmeted Ryuhei Kitamura has been lying gathering dust on the shelves of Lion's Gate for nearly a year now before being unceremoniously dumped into a few really tiny cinema's in the States and, quite frankly it's hard to see why.

It's true that after an incredibly dark first half the movie does become derailed around the 'Leon goes nuts' part as we're then asked to sympathize with the more and more annoying Bibb and one dimensional best buddy Bart that culminates in a ludicrous “Let’s go break into the Killer’s Apartment!" scene that only exists to set in motion the films climax but you can forgive (well almost) this because of Kitamura's frankly stunning direction (aided and abetted by his cinematographer Johannes Kobilke) and starkly brutal murder set pieces.

Like a 21st century redux of the themes and images of the classic Death Line, Kitamura's juxtapositioning of the meat we eat and the meat we are first repulses then numbs the senses to the slaughter we are experiencing on screen. We see the murders as Leon does choosing to observe rather than interviene.

To Mahogany (Jones) the slaughtering of humans is a job.

To us it's entertainment, making us question who the real monster actually is (well obviously it's those pesky demons that appear at the movies end but you know what I mean).

Vinnie farted...and it's an eggy one.

On a performance front, the cast do not too badly with the small collection of cliched roles on offer. Teevee star Cooper is OK as (if a little mouse like) as the lead, all sweat and furrowed brow whilst Sir Vinnie of Jones gets to stand around and look hard (no change there) whilst bashing folk on the head with a hammer, which is nice.

Leslie Bibb, on the other hand keeps your eyes fixed on the screen for totally the wrong reasons, with her bright yellow hair and skin coupled with her creepily curved face I half imagined a large angry monkey to appear halfway thru' and try to peel her.

Supporting role wise, Brooke Shields is angular of features and bitchy of tongue (works for me) and Roger Bart kept reminding me of a camper, bewigged Nathan Lane (again, a good thing).

There are a few other folk but frankly they're only in it to make up the numbers.

Chinny chin chin.

The scariest thing tho' is why Lion's Gate decided to treat the film like they did. I mean Clive Barker must still have a few fans who'd buy tickets and Ryuhei Kitamura is well known enough around horror circles to guarentee a couple of bums on seats.

Whatever they did to piss off the head honcho's it musta been bad, remember these are the folk that bankroll the bloody absymal Saw movies.

Did Clive force the studio heads to wear his trousers?

Stop! Hammer time!

The saddest thing is that after this experience there's no doubt that Kitamura will be on the first plane back home, leaving Hollywood free to tear thru' another top directors back catalogue and remake his greatest hits without interference.


Clive on the other hand will probably console himself by having a big bald black guy bite his nipples.

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