SLASH, Jason Mraz, Richard E. Grant and Terry Gilliam have added music and memories to Johnny Depp's new movie about artist Ralph Steadman. Depp signed on to narrate documentary For No Good Reason about the life and work of the British cartoonist last year (13), and the finished film also features many other famous friends.
Created over 15 years by filmmaker Charlie Paul, For No Good Reason includes footage of Steadman at work and anecdotes from late writer Hunter S. Thompson, who formed a bond with the Brit in the 1970s and used his illustrations in books like Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas, which was adapted for the big screen and starred Depp.
Gilliam, who directed the 1998 film, and Grant offer tributes, while Steadman fans Slash, All American Rejects, Mraz, James Blake, Ed Harcourt and Crystal Castles created music for the film's soundtrack.
For No Good Reason opens in limited release in America later this month (Mar14).
Columbia Pictures via Everett Collection
Treading water at the very surface of RoboCop, there is an idea. A dense concept, ready and willing to provide no dearth of dissection for any eager student of philosophy, psychology, political science, physics — hell, any of the Ps. To simplify the idea on hand: What separates man from machine? It's a question that is not just teased by the basic premise of José Padilha's remake of the 1987 sci-fi staple, but asked outright by many of its main characters. And then never really worried about again.
We have principal parties on both sides of the ethical quandary that would place the security of our crime-ridden cities in the hands of automatons. Samuel L. Jackson plays a spitfire Bill O'Reilly who wonders why America hasn't lined its streets with high-efficiency officer droids. Zach Grenier, as a moralistic senator, gobbles his way through an opposition to the Pro-boCop movement. We hear lecture after lecture from pundits, politicians, business moguls (a money-hungry Michael Keaton heads the nefarious OmniCorp...) and scientists (...while his top doc Gary Oldman questions the nature of his assignments while poking at patients' brains and spouting diatribes about "free will"), all working their hardest to lay thematic groundwork. Each character insists that we're watching a movie about the distinction between human and artificial intelligence. That even with an active brain, no robot can understand what it means to have a heart. But when Prof. Oldman tempers his hysterical squawking and Samuel L. Hannity rolls his closing credits, we don't see these ideas taking life.
In earnest, the struggle of rehabilitated police officer Alex Murphy (Joel Kinnaman) — nearly killed in the line of duty and turned thereafter into OmniCorp's prototype RoboCop — doesn't seem to enlist any of the questions that his aggravated peers have been asking. Murphy is transformed not just physically, but mentally — robbed of his decision-making ability and depleted of emotional brain chemicals — effectively losing himself in the process. But the journey we see take hold of Murphy is not one to reclaim his soul, although the movie touts it as such. It's really just one to become a better robot.
Columbia Pictures via Everett Collection
Meanwhile, RoboCop lays down its motives, and hard: Murphy's wife and son (Abbie Cornish and a puckish young John Paul Ruttan) lament the loss of Alex, condemning his dehumanization at the hands of Raymond Sellars' (Keaton) capitalistic experiments, and sobbing out some torrential pathos so you know just how deep this company is digging. Weaselly stooges (Jay Baruchel, Jennifer Ehle, and Jackie Earl Haley) line the OmniCorp roster with comical wickedness. Overseas, killer combat bots take down peaceful villages, unable to work empathetic judgment into their decision to destroy all deemed as "threats." And at the top, figures of power and money like Sellars and Pat Novak (Jackson) speak the loudest and harshest, literally justifying their agenda with a call for all naysayers to "stop whining." Clearly, RoboCop has something to say.
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And when it's devoted to its outrage, RoboCop is terrifically charming. The buzzing political world is just a tiny step closer to ridiculous than our own; the pitch meetings at OmniCorp are fun enough to provoke a ditching of all the material outside of the company walls. And one particular reference to The Wizard of Oz shows that the movie isn't above having fun with its admittedly silly premise. But it loses its magic when it steps away from goofy gimmicks and satirical monologues and heads back into the story. We don't see enough of Murphy grappling with the complicated balance between his conflicting organic and synthetic selves. In fact, we don't see enough "story" in Murphy at all. First, he's a dad and a cop. Then, he's a RoboCop. But can he also be a RoboDad? With all of its ranting and raving about the question, the film doesn't seem to concerned with actually figuring out the answer.
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Dimitri Hakke/GettyWhile January's release schedule this year remains as quiet as ever, there are still at least a handful of new albums which have the potential to banish those post-Christmas blues. Here's a look at five of the most exciting.Bruce Springsteen – High Hopes (Jan. 13)The first big album of 2014, High Hopes is an intriguing collection of outtakes, cover versions and reinterpretations which sees The Boss tackle everything from protopunk duo Suicide's "Dream Baby Dream" to his very own "The Ghost Of Tom Joad" with a little help from The E Street Band and Rage Against The Machine's Tom Morello.Mogwai – Rave Tapes (Jan. 20)Fresh from creating the soundtrack to critically-acclaimed French zombie drama The Returned, Scottish quintet Mogwai return to the day job with an intriguing eighth studio effort which, as its name suggests, throws some electronics into their typically atmospheric post-rock mix.Sophie Ellis-Bextor – Wanderlust (Jan. 20)Hoping to capitalise on her surprisingly successful run on Strictly Come Dancing, Victoria Beckham's one-time arch nemesis ditches the glittery electro-pop of her previous four albums and instead opts for an elegant chamber-pop sound on a cleverly-timed reinvention overseen by under-rated singer-songwriter Ed Harcourt.Warpaint – Warpaint (Jan. 20)The Los Angeles quartet have certainly taken their time since releasing their stunning debut, The Fool, back in 2010. But the presence of producer Flood and visionary music video director Chris Cunningham and a typically slow-burning but ultimately hypnotic lead single, "Love Is To Die," suggests that the wait will be worth it.You Me At Six – Cavalier Youth (Jan. 27)Following their first ever headline US tour and a support slot on Paramore's Australian tour, the UK's premier emo-rockers will be hoping to build on their international profile with a fourth record produced by Neal Avron (Fall Out Boy, Kings Of Leon).