Monday, December 29th, 2008
Review of JCVD
Rotten TomatoesI’ve spent a goodly amount of time this holiday break watching movies, and expect to continue to do so before heading back to work (shudder) next week. Most have been from a backlog of DVDs and DIVXs but it was off to the theatre last night for JCVD, which I’ve been anxious to see since its debut at TIFF in September.
Not that I’m especially a Jean-Claude fan, though I’ve always thought that he was better than the material he was given, but the pitch – Van Damme plays himself as a washed up actor who gets caught in a hostage situation – was too enticing to miss. But as promising as that premise was, it’d also have been very easy for it to fall victim to a lot of nudge-nudge, wink-wink, ultra-meta self-aware “aren’t we clever”-ness. Thankfully, it does not. It actually plays things very straight, and Van Damme is excellent – no qualifiers.
He is worn and haggard and genuinely believable as, well, himself. The weight of the past decade – drug addiction, failed marriages, child custody battles, the fact that he hasn’t made anything resembling a major film in over a decade (Double Team with Dennis Rodman (!) was the last one in his filmography that I recognized) – are all etched into his face and used as fuel for the performance, and it’s riveting. It’s hard to imagine that JCVD will revitalize his career in any major way – he admits he’s getting too old to continue making action hero flicks and it’s unlikely this will offer a new career path in serious drama – but it should grant him something he’s never been given before, and that’s respect.
Though will it be enough to wipe away the memory of his career to that point? Probably not. Unreality has assembled a half-dozen classic moments in Jean-Claude, and that Kick Boxer scene will be burned into my brain for eternity.
Also recently watched: Son Of Rambow, which was really much sweeter and enjoyable than I’d expected, Ghost Town, which was also much better than its rather cliched premise about a man who discovers he can talk to ghosts, and Hamlet 2, which was one of the absolute worst pieces of dreck I’ve ever had the misfortune of sitting through. Steve Coogan and Catherine Keener should be ashamed of themselves. In fact, the entire cast listing should read “Alan Smithee” top to bottom.
Back with music stuffs tomorrow.