Friday, 30 September 2016

Zoolander, Love and Friendship and The Darkness

Zoolander is a cult hit and has many fans despite it’s somewhat offbeat humour. Personally, I never really cared for it and I care for Zoolander 2 even less. Both Derek (Ben Stiller) and Hansel (Owen Wilson) have been out in the wilderness for years (both literally and figuratively) as a result of the collapse of the Derek Zoolander Center For Kids Who Can't Read Good but are brought out of retirement by Interpol agent Valentina Valencia (Penelope Cruz) when numerous celebs are murdered.

Personally, I feel that having loads of celebrity cameos is a cheap tactic to cover up for a lack of imagination. The first cameo is by Justin Bieber who gets shot multiple times in a fashion similar to the TV show CSI (Where he was also shot). Jokes about wanting to kill Justin Bieber are old as the hills and have probably already run their course, correct me if I’m wrong here but for me Bieber is well past the annoying stage. There are other cameos, such as the guy who talks about space and stuff, a former X-Factor contestant and a woman who wants to be dirty by being chilled, thrilled and fulfilled.

Ben Stiller, who is normally a competent director, drops the ball here as he fails to deliver any laughs in his performance as the dim-witted Derek Zoolander and in his laugh free script (which he co-wrote with four other writers). Lacking in imagination, full of boring celeb cameos (though no different to the first film to be fair) and completely laugh free, Zoolander 2 is not a biting satire on the fashion industry.


Adapted from the novel Lady Susan by Jane Austin, Love and Friendship stars Kate Beckinsale as Lady Susan, an attractive widow who attempts to find a husband for both her daughter (Morfydd Clark) and herself, but only after the colourful rumours about her flirtations die down.

Whit Stillman’s beautiful looking film certainly has an air of Barry Lyndon about it (one of Stillman’s favourite films) with it’s terrific cinematography, sumptuous set design and wonderful soundtrack of mainly classical music composed by Mark Suozzo (and performed by the Irish Film orchestra) but it really struggles to be dramatically interesting despite the many positives about the film.

Kate Beckinsale (who probably has the best lines from Whit Stillman’s screenplay) is impressive in the lead role, and she is well supported by a talented cast, particularly by Tom Bennett as the grinning, awkward buffoon, Sir James Martin. However, despite the gorgeous cinematography and great soundtrack, I found myself apathetic to the frivolous banalities of the extravagantly dressed and hideously wealthy.


The Darkness is directed by Greg McLean, the very same Greg McLean who directed the Australian shocker Wolf Creek over a decade ago. Whether the sheer genericness (pretty sure I just made this word up) of Hollywood horror has infected Greg McLean, but the two films look as though they were directed by different guys.

The Darkness is about a family of four who are terrorised by some ancient spirits when their autistic son, Michael (David Mazouz), brings back some rocks that are connected to some ancient spiritual ritual of a society that used to live in the Grand Canyon. It’s quite easy to plot a course for the movie’s storyline from the point where Michael finds the rocks, the mother searches supernatural stuff on the internet (failing to convince the disbelieving father) and the film’s inevitable conclusion where the family confront the demons haunting their home with help from some mystical foreigner.

I said it before and I’d say it again, even the most forgettable horror films aren’t normally badly made, and even if The Darkness tows the generic line faithfully it’s not a dreadfully made film. That said, however, the film’s subplots are appalling, the teenager daughter’s bulimia issues are raised once and completely forgotten about, such is the low time frame they dedicated to the subplot, they needn’t have bothered.



  1. These all sound awful. I liked Zoolander, but just seeing Kristen Wiig in the trailer made me want to skip the sequel. I'm petty.

    1. TO be honest Love and Friendship isn't awful, it got loads of positive reviews, I just didn't like it.