(US/France/Japan/Germany - 2013)
SPRING BREAKERS, and despite some stinging observations of its protagonists' coddled lifestyles, it doesn't really have much to say. It starts out fine, as troubled rich kid Marc (Israel Broussard) arrives at a new school and immediately befriends Rebecca (Katie Chang). Historically a misfit, Marc is welcomed into Rebecca's clique--also consisting of sisters Nicki (Emma Watson) and Sam (Taissa Farmiga), and their friend Chloe (Claire Julien)--and petty crimes committed out of boredom soon lead to burglarizing celebrity mansions after they read that Paris Hilton will be out of town. They go to Hilton's home and find the keys under the mat. Hilton is out of town so much that they go back several times, and also hit the homes of Lindsay Lohan, THE HILLS star Audrina Patridge, and Orlando Bloom, and bring along Nicki and Sam's younger sister Emily (Georgia Rock) to Megan Fox's house because she's small enough to fit through a doggy door and let everyone else in. Like any group of young and inexperienced criminals, they get too cocky and stupid for their own good, not just in their repeat visits to Hilton's house, but posting pics of themselves with the stolen merchandise on their Facebook pages. And of course, Rebecca, the de facto ringleader, tries to throw everyone under the bus when the shit hits the fan.
The story behind THE BLING RING is a interesting one, so it's hard to tell why the film ends up such an inert trifle, especially in the capable hands of Coppola (THE VIRGIN SUICIDES, LOST IN TRANSLATION). Maybe it's that in her attempts to convey the shallow and vacuous lives of the "Bling Ring," Coppola inadvertently creates a shallow and vacuous film. Once the premise and the players are established, the film becomes one montage after another of the titular group hanging out, doing drugs, clubbing, and taking selfies. There are some high points: Watson is very good and Leslie Mann gets some laughs as Nicki's, Sam's, and Emily's new agey, home-schooling mother whose educational curriculum is based on Rhonda Byrne's bestselling book The Secret. There's probably a solid crime film to be made of this story, but it just plays like a less horrific, rich-kid, L.A. ennui version of Larry Clark's BULLY. (R, 90 mins)
(US - 2013)
It's obvious that the younger Allyn is a disciple of big-budget '80s and early '90s actioners and he does an admirable job of emulating the look of those films, even in the unique (to American audiences, at least) setting. But other than some nice, real explosions and a few decent action sequences, JAVA HEAT is pretty boring. Some of that falls on Lutz, who's just not an interesting actor, but the story is pretty hollow and formulaic to the point of catatonia. It's overlong and badly-paced, and doesn't make good use of cosmetic-surgery-gone-horribly-awry cautionary tale Rourke, who lumbers around like the Frankenstein monster, utilizing a horrid French accent that's so thick and garbled that he's often subtitled even when speaking English. It might've worked if he'd cut loose and played it crazy, but since Rourke is obviously bored, he creates a boring character (though there is one cool shot of him walking away from an explosion in slo-mo). Wasn't THE WRESTLER supposed to rescue him from this kind of junk? Or has he finally burned every remaining bridge in his quest to squander all of the goodwill that brilliant performance earned? If you want to see Rourke play the bad guy in dumb action movie, just watch DOUBLE TEAM again. Allyn shows bits of style here and there, and with a script from someone other than him and/or his dad, he might have a future as a reliable, go-to DTV action director of the Isaac Florentine variety. But for now, JAVA HEAT doesn't really get the job done. (R, 104 mins)
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(US - 2013)