Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Broken Embraces [2009]

A director falls in love with the star of his film – but she’s also the lover of the producer.

I really wanted to like this film – but it’s a story we’ve all heard before and Pedro Almodovar doesn’t do anything to “own” the story anymore than any other director who makes this exact film. Then again – I’m sure there’s a Pedro following that would be glad to correct me on how this is such a great example of a Pedro film (and at times I felt like I was missing out on an inside joke). Penelope Cruz is great in the role – but she works so well with Pedro that you expect that. I’m stretching out and giving it a 3 out of 5.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Moon [2009]

Sam is finishing up a 3-year tour on the darkside of the moon as a collector of clean efficient renewable energy – when he has an accident. He wakes up to discover that he’s not as alone as he thought – there’s another Sam!! Is he cracking up? Or is there something the company isn’t sharing about his mission?

It’s an interesting and intelligent bit of science fiction – dealing with isolation and humanity. There’s a few interesting twists in the tale – and all of which don’t try to be the sum of the film – just part of an investigation Sam has to go through. It was interesting seeing – or more accurately hearing – Kevin Spacey in something of some merit again – as he voiced Sam’s only companion the robot GERTY. Ultimately though, I found the story or the ending a bit lacking – I’m not sure which – so I’ll give it a solid 4 out of 5 and call it a day.

[directed by Duncan Jones]

Monday, March 29, 2010

Jennifer's Body [2009]

Jennifer is really hot. Jennifer has big tits. Jennifer will seduce you. Jennifer will eat you. Jennifer is probably not a human.

I’m sorry but there’s really not much to like about this film. I’m typing this “review” with 40 minutes left in the film – and I’ve already decided that there’s not much that will make it better enough to give it more than a 2 out of 5. The Diablo Cody school of unbelievable dialogue simply starts and stops at Juno’s front door – and should not continue past. Lookie there – Megan Fox and Amanda Seyfried are kissing – see I knew it’d earn it’s 2 out of 5 - one more point than the director's previous film Aeon Flux (that should say enough).

[directed by Karyn Kusama]

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Popeye [1980]

For some weird reason - Robert Altman's Popeye movie from 1980 has been on my mind lately. It's such a bizarre film - a one of the all time historic critical and commercial bombs - which I still and beyond most reason - enjoy.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Centurion [2010]

Well, he hasn't yet steered me wrong - and though the trailer doesn't really do that much for me at the moment - Neil Marshall's Centurion will probably be a hell of a lot of fun.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Doomsday [2008]

To cap off my week of actual solid reviews – and not mini-reviews and bluster – I present to you a marquee review for a film that at certain points I couldn’t shut up about.

A plague has taken over Scotland – and the British decide to just build a high security fence and forget about the diseased people. Twenty-something years later – the plague is reemerging in London – in hopes of finding a cure – they send a super agent Sinclair and a squad of grunts into Scotland hoping that they somehow solved the problem – or left clues as to a cure - after the fence was sealed off. She’s given 48 hours to find a cure – or die with everyone else in the plague.

Let’s get the bad out of the way. There’s a transport tank-thingy and it’s supposedly got some really thick bulletproof glass – and one of the punk rocker survivors breaks it with a bottle. That’s it. The rest is made of pure awesome.

The director Neil Marshall knows what it takes to make a good horror film – as he’s proven it with Dog Soldiers and The Descent – and with Doomsday he proves he knows what it takes to make a great action film. He’s got a criminally overlooked talent for composing shots to give you something interesting to see with every frame. He gives you the best angle – not the stylishly hip cool ‘look at me’ angle – he gives you the best angle to see what’s happening. With CGI – this skill is probably not one people look for in a director – as you can always “fix” shots after the fact – but Marshall has done a pretty good job making films using old school techniques – and not relying on CGI.

As far as plot – it’s a standard action set-up. Here’s a timeframe that something must be done and here’s the reason why it needs to be done with such urgency – it’s short simple and easy to understand. The film doesn’t try to be complex or vague or have a ton of intrigue – it’s not one of those kind of films – it’s boldly called DOOMSDAY because it’s meant to be blatant, loud and in your face.

The acting is fantastic throughout the entire cast. Rhona Mitra is equally sexy, tough and believable as a super agent Sinclair - she’s got a boiling intensity to her that works really well. Bob Hoskins as her handler – is perfect in a surly growling performance that reminds you of The Long Good Friday. Malcolm McDowell is as scene chewing as ever as the “king” of one of the two surviving groups in Scotland. David O’Hara as the tall dark and evil government man is pitch perfect the way you want your uptight bureaucratic arseholes in these sort of films.

Then the biggest acting nod goes to Craig Conway as Sol. This would be a career making performance for some – he steals almost every scene. His shtick as leader of the punk-rock cannibals is to be loud, crass and strangely charismatic. He shouts, dances and punches his way into my heart – and is the cherry on top of this film. The film would only be very good in my mind if not for Conway’s performance and intensity.

It’s hard to describe how well done the action in this film. It’s chalk full of chases, fights and all the essential elements that a growing boy needs. It’s has what I like to call ‘ultra-violence’ – where it’s not necessarily blood and guts all over – but just hard over the top unflinching action.

I can’t ever see it being proclaimed an original film – so everybody can drop those preconceptions that films have to be original to be good. I look at this film as a tribute to the post-apocalyptic action films of the 80’s – namely John Carpenter’s Escape series & the Mad Max films. It pays tribute by NOT goofing on them or by giving a winking and a nod – it accomplishes its tribute by just delivering. It’s a simple concept that’s done far less in Hollywood than it should be – and that’s yet another reason why this film rules them all. It’s not a Hollywood film – it was partially funded by the Scottish film board – and shot far away from Hollywood in England, Scotland and South Africa.

As the writer, editor and director of the film - Neil Marshall - said in an interview about Doomsday “it’s so outrageous you’ve got to laugh” – and I agree completely – as it’s that outrageousness that makes me love it – and over look certain flaws and plot holes - and give it a perfect 5 out of 5.

Strangely enough, this is one of those films I do not recommend to people – as it’s obvious to them that they would enjoy it or not enjoy it – so I don’t push. Take a look at any of the screenshots – and think to yourself if you can deal with a film that’s as blatant as that – and you’ll know if you will like it or dislike it. It’s that simple.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Foxy Brown [1974]

Despite my trailer post over the weekend – I have yet to see Foxy Brown until now. That post was probably more of a motivator for myself – than just pointing out how cool the film is. There’s a certain anticipation factor when you go into watching what is generally considered one of the greatest films in any particular genre. I know when I think of blaxploitation – I think; Shaft, Super Fly, Richard Roundtree, Pamm Grier and Foxy Brown (and not in that order).

Foxy Brown is one bad mama – she don’t take shit from anybody. When Foxy’s boyfriend is killed – Foxy goes on the attack – and weaves through a drug and prostitution ring to get her revenge.

I’m surprisingly left a little mystified by this film – especially considering this was originally sketched as the sequel to the amazing Coffy [1973]. Foxy Brown is a bit more convoluted and dull when compared to Coffy – but it’s Foxy Brown that gets more attention (and I think it’s because of the name). In Foxy Brown – I wanted more, more, MORE than what we got in Coffy – and considering it’s still Jack Hill’s writing and directing – I figured it wouldn’t be tough for him to take it and kick it up a notch.

Unfortunately, I found the film a little too bogged down in it trying to be something that it’s not. Foxy goes undercover in a drug/prostitution ring – when I’m not sure how that made much sense. I was uncertain what she hoped to uncover – as she seemed to be getting all the information she would need outside the organization. The only thing that she accomplished by going undercover was putting herself in bad situation after bad situation. This was basically the entire plot – and I felt like it was filler – when we knew what Foxy was wanting and going to do anyway. She should’ve gotten in – taken out the bad guys and went on the run or made some sort of stand – or played with them by taking out the organization from the bottom up in a massive escalation.

I loved the opening scene where Foxy’s brother, the cops and the bad guys were all at the late night taco bar all eating tacos and drinking coffee. (What kind of strange combination is that?) Suddenly, Foxy’s brother afraid the cops would leave and the bad guys would get him - started making a ton of proclamations about how “great” the coffee is repeatedly saying “coffee” over and over – an obvious reference to Coffy. For me though - it backfired reminding me of the better film – but provided me with several laughs. I would watch the movie all over again – just for that scene – that is one of the best scenes in my exploitation film watching experience.

I’m a big fan of Pam Grier – she’s one hell of an acting talent and one hell of a beauty – so obviously the movie gets a plus from her presence. The main two villians were actually pretty creepy – especially Kathryn Loder was entertaining in her whispery delivery of every line. The direction was nothing special – but worked well in the time period and for the genre. The action was well done – and the soundtrack was kickass.

I will fully admit – I was especially tired – and this may have affected my view of any movie I watched – but until further review – I’ve got to give Foxy Brown a 3 out of 5.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Under the Great Northern Light [2010]

One could take this as a concert video – or as a documentary – I guess it kind of depends on how you want to look at it. It’s not really doing a ton of documenting behind the scenes of The White Stripes – more like documenting a unique tour.

Instead of your usual tour of major cities only - The White Stripes set out on a tour of Canada (a country they admit to just having tacked on to most tours) in order to hit every territory and province – with many spontaneous local spots in between.

If you like The White Stripes music – or are a beginner to them and are interested in finding out more – you will probably enjoy the film. There’s no major revelations here – no new understanding to them as a band – they kind of help perpetuate their own myths (they are siblings and not a former couple) about themselves and help answer a few questions you might have.

Jack hogs most of the interviews because Meg is quiet and doesn’t have much to say. I liked how Meg needed subtitles because she was so quiet – except for when she sung ‘In the Cold Cold Night’. They claim each set is spontaneous – and done on the cusp without a set-list. They talk inspiration – work ethic – and about challenging themselves constantly to keep things fresh.

Jack hates the fact that people believe that they are the most carefully planned out band – that everything is all premeditated – even though he freely admits certain aspects about them are very premeditated. He claims it’s the music that’s not planned and just flows through them – like any good rock god would claim. He says his favorite quote about them is something about how they are “simultaneously the most fake band in the world and the most real”.

Along the tour – they hit several small – smaller and smallest venues that a big band like the Stripes wouldn’t probably ever hit. We’re talking a pool hall – a rec center – a bowling alley – a fishing boat – a flour mill – a bus – a town square – and even a stop at an Indian Cultural Center. It’s interesting and entertaining that they’d plan doing something like that on the cuff – make a rumor on the net – and people show up in droves with just minutes head notice.

Most of the film is them playing music – so obviously, if you can’t stand their music – this isn’t a film for you. At the time 2007’s Icky Thump was their latest release – but it does not feel like a promotional video for that album – which is nice.

The entire film shifts between black and white and color. There’s no real climax – unless you want to count the 10-year anniversary concert – which feels like more of the same – so if it was meant to feel like a conclusion of the story – they should’ve held back on some of the concert footage in the beginning and middle.

It took me a while to warm up to their music – but I find their entire tone, influences and ability to create characters in their music appealing – and much more interesting than most things out there. Since this film is more of a concert film – and I like their music – I’m not really going to give it a rating – because there was nothing I really didn’t like.

[directed by Emmett Malloy]

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The Mod Squad [1999]

I’ll start off by saying – I have a real soft spot in my heart for this movie. I’m not sure why – it’s flawed – barely makes sense in parts – and at times it’s just downright stupid – but I love it so much. It’s my movie equivalent of comfort food – of that hug that you get when your world is being put right.

Three young people busted for doing various crimes are given a second chance to be cops – but when their supervisor (the only one who believes in them) is killed they have to weed out the conspiracy to find out what happened and bring justice to all.

So, let me admit – that it doesn’t make much sense that even though the bad guys leave such large footprints in their wake – and though internal affairs has been looking into it – it’s the kids who solve the crime. I’ll also admit that the fact that the bad guys are so concerned that these kids will actually solve the crime – after they’ve spent most of the movie mocking the kids for being kids doesn’t make much sense either.

This should be enough – and probably are part of the root reasoning why not many people take this film too seriously – and though I don’t take it seriously – I still give it high marks. Here’s why...

Claire Danes is at her cutest in this film – and she spends enough time in her underwear and in tight fitting clothing – and it pleases me. She’s still looking for a suitable follow-up role to this film where she can dress in stylish clothing and chase people around.

Kill me if you want to – but I find Giovanni Ribisi both funny and talented – and he’s at this most Ribisi-ist in this film! He coined the classic “Yeah, Bob!” catch phrase that everyone has been saying ever since the movie came out. Ask yourself – when was the last week you can remember that you didn’t say “Yeah, Bob!” – it was probably the week before this movie came out! He also did some car dancing – and plenty of goofing off – that makes his performance one for the ages. Plus, he's in Avatar - and he's the reason why Avatar is considered one of the greatest films - and why everyone paid so much and made it the top grossing film ever!

Omar Epps is also an actor who for some reason – I just enjoy seeing in things and the fact that he’s in House MD almost every week – pleases me. Seriously, I think he’s a pretty good actor – he’s got the whole internal conflict thing down pat – if he could just get some roles to show it. In The Mod Squad he’s not very charismatic – but he’s good for the part.

Richard Jenkins is in this – and I didn’t realize how much I also enjoy seeing him in things since I watched him act his bit part actor ass off in the lead role in fantastic film - The Visitor.

It’s fun – light – has some fun action scenes that don’t go on forever become redundant and boring – including probably two of the shortest car chases you’ll ever see. It’s a film you can pop in and watch and not worry if you are paying full attention – it’s an all purpose boredom killer. Though it’s got plot holes and things that would normally bother me – it’s a perfect storm of sorts in my mind of bad mixed with good.

I give it full marks – 5 out of 5 – and I realize I may be the only one ever to give it that.

[directed by Scott Silver]

Monday, March 22, 2010

Possession [2008]

One day I walk up to you and say “Hi, I’m your Dad.” And then go on to tell you a few things only you and your Dad know – hang around you for a while doing things that your Dad does – and eventually you come to believe me that I’m your Dad. That’s the situation Jess finds herself in – in the movie Possession – when her evil brother in-law gets into a car accident with her perfect husband – and her evil brother in-law comes out of the coma first.

You eventually start to realize how stupid it is to believe that I’m your father – until you Google ‘possession’ – and find something saying that it’s completely possible. Then you wake up one day and your buried treasure is missing – and you come to find out that me - "your Dad" stole it – and left you with nothing. You file a police report claiming that you believed that some stranger was your father – and the police tell you how stupid you are and you get what you deserve.

Now, identity theft is a very real thing in this modern world of ours and it’s mostly electronic identity theft of accounts and credit cards. Only the most clever of con men would attempt the con that I put on you – and of course it only works because of how stupid you are.

I seriously could not stop telling Jess how stupid she was over and over and over while watching this movie. How truly stupid do you have to be? Jess asks her friend/coworker – and even they don’t straight up tell her how stupid she is – she’s probably sick of hearing about how she thinks that they switched bodies – and tell her to believe her heart and not her brain.

Sarah Michelle Gellar still can’t act – Lee Pace (Ned the pie man from one of the greatest never-given-a-chance TV shows Pushing Daisies) is hard to believe as the asshole brother – because he’s still got the kind pie man’s face – and the rest of the cast put in yawn-tastic performances. The direction, plot and dialogue was just plain stupid and boring.

By the time it was finished – I felt dumber for the experience – and I wished I didn’t waste my time – 1 out of 5.

[directed by Simon Sandquist & Joel Bergvall]

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Claire Danes

Hey, Claire Danes - it's been a while. How have you been? I've always expected to hear way more about you and all the interesting roles you're taking and because you've got a natural beauty and plenty of acting talent. Why is it you're star doesn't seem as high as it should be? Do you not want to be huge and followed everywhere by photographers and gossipers (which I can't blame you for that) - but you still took a chance on T3 and Stardust - which if they were huge... I don't know - I'm just asking because well... Aw, schucks - I've always thought you were pretty.

I hope's all's well with you! Take care!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Criminal Woman: Killing Melody [1973]

I know I'm cheating a bit with another trailer - but I can't resist Miki & Reiko.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Foxy Brown [1974]

Take it to 'em, Foxy!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Malabimba, the Malicious Whore [1979]

Young innocent Bimba is possessed by an evil spirit that makes her quite horny.

I liked this film quite a bit – it was a raunchy good time. I felt the pacing was done quite well – and I didn’t start checking the time – or get impatient with the film – though I would say 2/3 of the film was a sexual encounter of some sort. There’s not much to speak of when it comes to plot – as it just ended up being an escalation of Bimba’s odd sexual behavior – from voyeurism – to “playing” with her stuffed animals – to coming on to her father – and so on – until the climax (pun half intended) of the film.

There was an interesting theme of the taboo of female sexuality – where it would seem that it’s typical the male that who’s the true pervert and pursuing the female – in this film with both Bimba and Nais it’s the other way around. The males in the film are flawed – and fearful of their sexuality – Bimba’s father Andrea was damaged by his wife’s death and resistant and almost disgusted by Nais come-ons – the lawyer was sent into a violent rage when confronted with Nais sexual mocking – and the uncle Adolfo was in some kind of catatonic state. It may be exploitive of female nudity – but it’s the females in this film who have the power by being able to be expressive with their sexuality - even if it’s some demon in Bimba who allows her – it’s a hypothesized that it’s a FEMALE demon.

My only real knock on the film was that there was a séance to begin the film – but it wasn’t ever referenced – or blamed for Bimba’s odd behavior. Plus, they all seemed to be a fairly religious bunch – though quite hypocritical – and a séance just seemed out of place. Maybe it’s just a fun taboo that they decided to play with one night when Bimba’s nun/teacher/nurse was accidently locked in her room. The séance was unnecessary and seemed tacked on – they could’ve just left it kind of open and uncertain what the issue is with Bimba is. Maybe she’s just going through an extreme sexual awakening that is magnified by her restrictive upbringing – all brought on by puberty? Then they discover it’s a demon!

My other concern was – how can their family have lived in that castle for 15 generations – and are still paying it off? Can you get a mortgage on a castle? I’m sure you could – but why if 15 generations of your family still couldn’t have paid it off – making your income enough to live your extravagant lifestyle – but if you can’t do that - maybe they should move to the suburbs. It really has no bearing on the plot – and it was forgotten almost after it was said – but it was curious.

I’m glad that I watched the unrated version – as there’s a XXX version with hardcore inserts – but this version was explicit enough. I’m giving this an enthusiastic 4 out of 5 – if you are a fan of these kind of films – it’s a must see. For more on this film I recommend THIS REVIEW which brought it to my attention and made it a must see.

[directed by Andrea Bianchi]

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

CQ [2002]

Paul is an American film editor working on a Franco-Italian sci-fi coproduction ‘Codename: Dragonfly’ in 1969 – as well as a cinema verite film in which he wants to document the ‘truth’ of his life. The sci-fi film has no ending – and because of which as no director (anymore) – and his own film is suffering as he can’t see the ‘truth’ beyond his own perception.

There’s a lot to like a bout this film – and at the top of my list is Angela Lindvall as Dragonfly/Valentine – she is both alluring as both the sci-fi Barbarella-like vixen and as the young actress who portrays her. I quite like Jeremy Davies he’s kind of low-key and subtle as usual – and works well in the role. Giancarlo Giannini is excellent as Enzo – who’s supposed to be somewhat a parody of Dino De Laurentiis. And of course a cameo from Diabolik himself John Phillip Law is icing!

The soundtrack provided by the band Mellow is out-of-sight. The art direction of the film is just so well done - they supposedly used vintage equipment to get some of the actual feel. It's a film-lovers kind of film as there's several references to influential figures and films of the era - enough to where I wouldn't begin to start listing - not that one would need a guidebook - it's just I'll admit I'm not as smart about film as I sometimes pretend.

The DVD is really nice as it features 2 different versions of Codename: Dragonfly in the special features - where all the scenes you see over the course of the film CQ are put together to be viewed as an completed film. One version is Paul's completed version (which runs about 15 minutes) the other is the Andrezej version that Paul took over - which of course was incomplete so there's a few 'scene missing' frames. I'm giving the film a solid 4 out of 5.

[directed by Roman Coppola]

Enjoy the trailer for - Codename: Dragonfly

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Matador [1986]

A matador in training takes the blame for a series of kills – though it would seem improbable.

Trying to sum up this film is tough because I’m not really sure how much Pedro expects the audience to pick-up on in the beginning – simply because how the film unfolds. It unfolds rather slowly – and rather cumbersomely with no narrative really followed or blended carefully in with the others. You begin to wonder if a character’s story is completed as you don’t see them for a while – and another set of characters dominate – then they turn up again. I liked it but there was some obvious flaws in the storytelling – and a few holes in the story – I’ll venture out and give it a 4 out of 5.

[directed by Pedro Almodovar]

Monday, March 15, 2010

Sunshine Cleaning [2008]

Rose can’t seem to get her life in order. She’s in a relationship with a married man, her father is always gambling on get rich quick schemes, her sister can’t hold a job, her son is always getting in trouble in school. Tired of cleaning up other people’s messes – out of desperation she starts a crime scene biohazard removal company.

This is the second time I’ve seen Sunshine Cleaning – and though I still like it – it begins to feel a bit off. It might be that even though we see Rose pulling herself together – we don’t really see the rest of the family doing the same – which I think kind of leaves the film unbalanced. It’s still quirky, fun and uplifting – but not as much as it probably should be. It’s still holding steady at 4 out of 5.

[directed by Christine Jeffs]

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Peter Graves (1926-2010)

When I think of Peter Graves - I think of Airplane! [1980], the television series Mission: Impossible - and monster movies from the 1950's.

He learned almost too late that man is a feeling creature... and because of it, the greatest in the universe. He learned too late for himself that men have to find their own way, to make their own mistakes. There can't be any gift of perfection from outside ourselves. And when men seek such perfection... they find only death... fire... loss... disillusionment... the end of everything that's gone forward. Men have always sought an end to the toil and misery, but it can't be given, it has to be achieved. There is hope, but it has to come from inside, from Man himself.
- (Dr. Paul Nelson - played by Peter Graves in 'It Conquered the World' 1956 directed by Roger Corman)

Street Law [1974]

Franco Nero = Bad Ass

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Something 4 the Weekend

Well, I've got my weekend plans all in order. I'm going to spend today rolling around in bed covered in money... and Eva.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Perfect Blue [1997]

Mima is a pop idol who wants to shift gears on her career and become an actress – but one extremely dedicated fan has a major issue with that.

I’ve been very picky with my anime consumption – and Perfect Blue is most certainly an interesting film that keeps you on your toes. It works well as a film about a pop idol struggling for credibility – as well as a surreal thriller. I liked how that even though the internet is quite new when the film was made – but it plays a crucial element in the film. I also liked Mima’s eagerness to change her image compromises her morals – as well as eggs on her regret to stay a meaningless pop idol. It features some pretty racy scenes of nudity and even a rape scene – and it’s also violent as people in Mima’s life begin to be knocked off. It’s trippy and interesting – and I’ll give it a 4 out of 5.

[directed by Satoshi Kon]

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Pedro Almodovar?

All right my fellow readers - I watched All About My Mother on your recommendations this past weekend - and really liked it. So, that adds to my Pedro Almodovar experience - which also includes Talk to Her and Volver - and thus far it's been quite pleasant. You've given me a couple other films to check out which sound interesting - Tie Me Up, Tie Me Down and Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown - but they are unavailable on Netflix.

Do you have any other Almodovar films that you'd recommend? Any that I should stay away from?

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Dead Snow [2009]

A group of friends go to a mountain cabin in Germany for Easter vacation – not if zombie Nazi’s have anything to say about it.

This movie seems like a good idea – you take any concept these days throw some zombies into it – and most studios will make it – but if you have Nazi zombies? Well, that’s bound to be a classic, right?


If you aren’t even going to bother with writing a script that has any intelligence to it – why bother? Make a 10 minute YouTube video – and stretch your 2 minute plot out there.

It didn’t take long for this movie to beg me to hate it. Why? Movie guy! Why do horror films feel the need to actually have that movie nerd who wants to talk about horror films in the horror movie? So, are zombies real or fictional in this world that this movie is taking place? You’re watching the same films I am apparently – so you’re killing my suspension of disbelief with every “cute” reference by movie guy.

Make your own movie that the movie incompetent can reference later in their dumbass movie – don’t give yourself props by talking about the difference between the first two Evil Dead’s.

Then – you want to do the clichéd spooky old man who comes by and warns the kids? Fine. Can you please explain to me why he walked THAT long of a distance to spook the kids – and then why he DIDN’T TAKE HIS OWN FUCKING ADVICE?

You want to make a film in the snow? Cool – I like that idea. Here’s the problem – if you are going to have someone abducted – then everyone run out and go “hey where’d they go” – you don’t have to be an expert tracker to know that “they went that-a-way”! It’s called tracks in the snow – look it up.

This movie fails as a comedy – as a horror film – and as anything other than just a fun concept that was pathetically executed. When you find yourself rooting for zombies – or Nazi’s – or zombie Nazi’s - over the main characters you know you are doing something wrong. From a director (Tommy Wirkola) who’s only other credit is a German spoof film – I should’ve known better – Dead Snow doesn’t deserve the 1 out of 5 that it’s getting. This film makes Jesus Franco's Oasis of the Zombies [1983] still the king of zombie Nazi's - though it was one of Franco's lesser works.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Weekend Viewing - Mar 5-7

Oldboy [2003, Chan-wook Park]

Oh Dae-su is abducted and locked in a room for 15 years. He has no idea who’s locked him in the room – and once he’s released he starts is plan for vengeance with a young sushi chef named Mi-do at his side. But once it becomes clear that quick blood-thirsty vengeance is not enough to atone for the 15 years he’s lost – he demands answers – but which is worse the curiosity or the knowing?

Even though I’ve seen Oldboy several times – it remains powerful – disturbing and interesting. The direction – performances – and storyline remain fresh and amazing in their execution. At times I debate if Lady Vengeance is a superior film – the entire Park “vengeance trilogy” are something to behold. They recall enough of the Japanese pinku genre – as well as the 70’s revenge film genre – that pleases my soul. 5 out of 5.

The House of the Devil [2009, directed by Ti West]

A young girl hard up for some money to move out – takes a babysitting job – FROM HELL!

It claims that it was made in a 1980’s style – which to me can mean any number of things. I was on the edge of my seat the entire film waiting for leggings and references to pop culture and someone to turn to someone and say “Hey, it’s the 80’s did you do a lot of coke and vote for Ronald Reagan today?” – but none of that bullshit flew. It reminded me of an actual film that could’ve been made in the 80’s – one that I would actually watch! Jocelin Donahue was so cute and likable in the lead role and that’s important as it’s almost a one person show – as the film builds up tension with somewhat moderate success. I’m giving it a 4 out of 5.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Oscar Party

Well, I hate to be a grouch - but I've been so disenchanted with the Hollywood Awards ever since I realized how meaningless they all are to my movie watching. With all the hoopla about who's going to win - it seems that everyone's picking the same movies year after year. I would like to see more creativity rewarded and less "we owe this guy for his body of work" - more foreign films get serious considerations - and less Hollywooded up films made to win awards.

Mostly I want people to realize that no matter who wins - it shouldn't affect what you find entertaining in your movie watching experience. If Avatar wins - there's no quantifiable data that can point to and say it's factually a better film than An Education, The Hurt Locker, Up in the Air, Precious, Up, A Serious Man, Inglorious Basterds, The Blind Side or District 9. If you find that you didn't care for any of the films that won anything - and you preferred Transformers 2 - great - film is a subjective medium.

And if the film you love and rooting for loses - it doesn't mean you have to hate the winner. This world isn't as black and white as some people want you to believe - you should enjoy being yourself and thinking for yourself. You can truly like both Avatar and The Hurt Locker - though a trend on message boards and public review forums is to pick a camp and never budge.

Anyway, I'll probably not watch the awards - but I think The Hurt Locker will probably take home the bacon for picture and directing. It's a solid film - not as broad and mass appealing as Avatar or even my favorite of the year (for the record it was Up In The Air) - but a real interesting character study.


Saturday, March 6, 2010

Hair Like Monkey Teeth Like Dog

To steal a Saturday post idea from my old chum, The Mad Hatter over at The Dark of the Matinee (who I believe said he stole it from another blogger) - who's been in my thoughts this week due to his recent loss. I send my deepest sympathies.

So, after a rough week - this is how I feel today...

Friday, March 5, 2010

The Deathless Devil [1973]

Dr. Satan wants the Professor’s remote control device in order to send out an army of robots to take over the world – but not if the superhero Copperhead has any say in it.

The direction was bad – the editing was bad – the effects were bad - but it’s an amazingly fun film! The entire film was like shotgunning a pot of coffee – it was so energetic and action packed – it barely left me time to write notes about what was happening before I saw something else I wanted to jot down.

Highlights include:

- Dr. Satan’s lumpy face and killer mustache.

- Tekin is told he’s adopted – his father was the original Copperhead – takes the mask and accepts that he’s the new Copperhead without a thought of consideration.

- Bitik is the comic relief – who’s annoying as all get out – but the pacing of the film leaves little time to linger on his Jar Jar like antics.

- Tekin punches a bad guy through a wall and onto the roof of a building – bad editing – but it was outstanding fun.

- It felt like it should be a kids film – but there’s a bit of nudity – interesting.

- Why did the one Professor decide to take a trip if he didn’t know the purpose of the trip?

- The Robot is a step up from Santa Claus Conquers the Martians – but a step down from C3PO

- I liked how Copperhead just leapt on each bad guy as his beginning move in a fight.

Anyway – it’s a hell of a lot of fun – and for the entertainment factor I’m giving it an exciting action packed 4 out of 5.

I'd like to note that this film is from Turkey - and according to the notes they had a booming film industry in the 70's - yet most of their films were lost - so this release looked dubbed from a VHS - but it's sad that it seems we lost a whole country's film industry. Now, this double feature DVD is going out of print? Sad loss for us all.

[directed by Yilmaz Atadeniz]

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Shiri [1999]

The North Koreans have trained a super assassin – who has caused heartache for the South Koreans. It has been 2-years since her last hit – and once talks of reconciliation of the two countries begin – she’s suddenly back to killing. There’s also a big evil plot unfolding from a rogue North Korean General who appears to be constantly one step ahead of them – are the two things related? – it’s up to a couple of field agents to find out.

This is your standard big budget style Hollywood action film – yet made in South Korea – which is kind of impressive – but given the thriving film industry of South Korea – it’s not thoroughly surprising. Considering I felt it was a pretty standard action film – there’s the typical stuff to enjoy – like action and esplody things. It being a standard action film – there were things that I just didn’t care for – such as convoluted plot twists and jumpy camera movements and the dreaded comic relief character (who wasn’t as pronounced and annoying – but still – blech).

I thought Min-sik Choi as the main villain was excellent (American audiences will know him from ‘cult’ film Oldboy) – I would like to see him get more notoriety here in the US as he’s hell of an interesting actor – he can really carry a film.

Overall – 4 out of 5 – typical action film goodness.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The Lookout [2007]

Richard Roeper on the DVD cover art proclaims The Lookout is “A Masterpiece!” – which is interesting all in itself – but does it hold up to such lofty proclamations?

Chris Pratt was a young man who had his whole life laid out in front of him – until a tragic accident left him mentally incapable of succeeding in even the most basic of everyday tasks. He now works as a night janitor at a small farm town bank – and though he aspires to have a normal life his limitations prevent him from doing the things he wants to do. One day he’s approached by a man who has a plan to rob his bank – and uses Chris’s own aspirations and insecurities to gain his help in doing so.

The film is very very good – maybe not worthy of “masterpiece” talk – certainly a well told story with adept direction and talented actors. It’s one of those films that could easily be told while being hit over the head with a clown hammer. This film could easily be done while screaming at the viewer; “The boy is handicapped!! The boy is handicapped!! The boy is handicapped!!” – and the fact that they didn’t use the clown hammer is what makes the film very very good. These points are exactly subtle though – but they are handled with a mature hand.

Chris comes from an over-privileged family – and after the accident they ostracized him. This plot point is pointed out over dinner – and a conversation – and then manipulated by the antagonist - but it’s not brought up constantly to help justify Chris’s actions. There are other points along these lines – brought up by the filmmakers – that are brought to light – and then allowed to fall back down into the minutia of the story. These plot points – as they are heavy in nature – could be done with such little tact – that when handled correctly – with as many as there are in this particular film – it shows an “masterful” use of the filmmaking process.

I also thought the acting was great by all the cast members. Joseph Gordon-Levitt is growing into a fine actor that will have a long career of praise (as long as he can avoid doing any more GI Joe films). Jeff Daniels is very interesting and often amusing at Chris’s blind roommate. Matthew Goode was a smooth antagonist – who didn’t come on overly forceful – but had enough slime to him to make you suspicious of everything he’s up to. The adorable Isla Fisher was equally interesting as Luvlee Lemons – the former stripper turned government aide – she was equally sympathetic and upsetting as Chris’s love interest.

My only problem with this film – is that it’s done too well – it doesn’t take any real risks. I guess if that’s your only real complaint about a film – it can’t be all that bad – and it’s quite good. It’s equally broad enough that it won’t frustrate your casual movie-goer – but equally deep enough to satisfy your film nut who may just want to watch a heist film that doesn’t leave them feeling a bit dumber for it.

I’m not going to call it a masterpiece – but I will give it very high marks a high 4 which as you know I round up so – 5 out of 5 – as I described above there’s not much to dislike about the film – but possibly nothing for you to “love” about the film – yet it works so well as a whole – that it deserves a nod.

[directed by Scott Frank]

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Weekend Viewing - Feb 26-28 (part 2)

He Got Game [1998, directed by Spike Lee]

A convict (Denzel Washington) is given a week out of prison to convince his son (Ray Allen), the #1 high school prospect in the country, to play for the Governor’s alma mater.

What really works for this film is Spike’s love for the game of basketball – and his desire with his films to put a mirror up to African-American society. The pressure for the son to sign from all fronts – the over-importance of athletics in our society – all may be dealt out a bit heavy handed – but take a back seat to the father son relationship that’s the main focus of the story. I quite liked how the friction of the relationship built up – and was relieved in a basketball game – and it boiled down to basketball was only the key to pull Jesus (the biblical pronunciation) out of the slum. I’m giving this one full marks – 5 out of 5.

Brick [2005, directed by Rian Johnson]

A high school student, Brendan Fry, investigates the murder of his ex-girlfriend through a web of intrigue.

This film’s description really doesn’t do it justice – as I’ve been aware of its critical acclaim – but avoided it - as it sounded rather dull. What it should be described as is – a lost treatment for a classic film noir crime drama is adapted to the modern day – with high school students as it’s focus. It’s spot on brilliant in its adaptation – as I was expecting some modern twist that would ruin the film – but it’s all too perfectly executed. The detective, the femme fatale, the crime boss, the thug, the small time street crook, the detective’s near invisible partner – all were executed so well – that you didn’t really care that they were all young people in the roles because the script, dialogue and overall film experience was very well done. Perfect marks for this one as well – 5 out of 5.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Weekend Viewing - Feb 26-28 (part 1)

The Stewardesses [1969, directed by Al Silliman Jr.]

We follow a bunch of sex craved stewardesses as they have sex - in this 3D cult classic.

I typically don’t go for dated sex comedies – but this one had a bit of charm to it and I found it somewhat amusing. There was the LSD trip that made one stewardess want to have sex with a lamp - which I found both bizarre and funny. The whole movie climaxed in a strange murder suicide that made very little sense – but I guess there had to be some kind of climax. I’m giving it a 3 out of 5 for the laughs.

Surrogates [2009, directed by Jonathan Mostow]

Everyone has chosen to experience the world through their robot selves – making the world a safer and sexier place – that is until someone figured out how to kill the operators of the robots.

This film made very little sense when it all boils down to the ending. It obviously tried to make a statement about how people live their lives on the internet more than in person – which I appreciated – but that was about it. At the end I kept shouting at my TV saying “how does this make any sense?” because the plot hinges on one particular thing – and it turns out that this ‘one particular thing’ is being enacted by someone and it just doesn’t add up. I’m giving it a generous 2 out of 5 because of the message and a couple of good action sequences – but the rest sucked.