Thursday, June 30, 2011

Y is for... [part 2]

If you were to argue that Mel Brooks's Young Frankenstein ranks among the top-ten funniest movies of all time, nobody could reasonably dispute the claim. Spoofing classic horror in the way that Brooks's previous film Blazing Saddles sent up classic Westerns, the movie is both a loving tribute and a raucous, irreverent parody of Universal's classic horror films Frankenstein (1931) and Bride of Frankenstein (1935). Filming in glorious black and white, Brooks re-created the Frankenstein laboratory using the same equipment from the original Frankenstein (courtesy of designer Kenneth Strickfaden), and this loving attention to physical and stylistic detail creates a solid foundation for nonstop comedy. The story, of course, involves Frederick Frankenstein (Gene Wilder) and his effort to resume experiments in re-animation pioneered by his late father. (He's got some help, since dad left behind a book titled How I Did It.) Assisting him is the hapless hunchback Igor (Marty Feldman) and the buxom but none-too-bright maiden Inga (Teri Garr), and when Frankenstein succeeds in creating his monster (Peter Boyle), the stage is set for an outrageous revision of the Frankenstein legend. With comedy highlights too numerous to mention, Brooks guides his brilliant cast (also including Cloris Leachman, Madeline Kahn, Kenneth Mars, and Gene Hackman in a classic cameo role) through scene after scene of inspired hilarity. Indeed, Young Frankenstein is a charmed film, nothing less than a comedy classic, representing the finest work from everyone involved. Not one joke has lost its payoff, and none of the countless gags have lost their zany appeal. From a career that includes some of the best comedies ever made, this is the film for which Mel Brooks will be most fondly remembered. Befitting a classic, the Special Edition DVD includes audio commentary by Mel Brooks, a "making of" documentary, interviews with the cast, hilarious bloopers and outtakes, and the original theatrical trailers. No video library should be without a copy of Young Frankenstein. And just remember--that's Fronkensteen. (synopsis provided by

released 1974

directed by Mel Brooks

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Valhalla Rising [2009]

What a fucking spectacular film!

I read the description on the Netflix envelope before I watched it – and thought – sounds like it’ll be average. Then I re-read it after I watched it – and thought that was NOT the movie I just watched – but all is forgiven – because there’s really no good way of describing the film. Not that the film is indescribable – it’s just it’s loose on the narrative story – so a synopsis of the film would essentially be me telling you everything that goes on (as the Netflix envelope does).

You have the Pagans and the Christians – ‘One Eye’ and the kid – the Holy Land and Hell. The Christians are on a quest to convert the Pagans by force. ‘One Eye’ is a brutal caged fighter for the Pagans – who escapes. The Christians take ‘One Eye’ with them to fight in their Holy War. The story is rich with metaphor – but not as much with a traditional narrative where you have the characters describing their emotions and what their reactions are to everything – it’s more intuitive than that.
‘One Eye’ (played by Mads Mikkelsen) was one of the most interesting characters I have seen in what’s basically an ‘action’ film in a long time – the fact that he doesn’t say a word – and you wonder about his motivation the entire film. What drives a character like this? Then as the metaphors unfold – you realize his character as ugly and brutal as he is – could be viewed as something more. He’s so much deeper. Why doesn’t he talk? Why does he allow himself to be dominated by living in a cage? Who is he in relation to the Pagans? Who is he in relation to the Christians?

I really liked the idea that was beginning to unfold that all the speaking adults were prone to paranoia – but it almost seemed that it was because they spoke and didn’t think themselves through which made ‘One Eye’ in comparison kind of a brutal Buddha. He’s savage – but also so peaceful – it’s a wonderful contradiction of a character!
I would describe this as an action film – but that’s more because there is an intensity/tension even when there’s no “action” going on. The violence in this film is hard, brutal and graphic. The pacing is probably not for everyone – it’s more poetic than your typical action film – if you need a fast paced action film this will probably not do. (I'm looking at a couple websites and I notice the critics seem warm to this film - but the public seems sour on it - it does feel like more of a 'critics' film - or a film for people who've seen thousands of movies and appreciate something interesting)

I love me some good cinematography – and this one was so satisfying – it was brilliant! There was one scene where ‘One Eye’ stops to drink from a puddle and rests for just a moment – where I back tracked just so I can enjoy the composition of that shot again.

It reminds me a lot of Werner Herzog’s AGUIRRE, THE WRATH OF GOD on several elements of how the plot unfolds – maybe a bit more blunt – but I found it equally intense and interesting. It was one of those movies that once it was over – I was ready to watch it again right away. After seeing Nicolas Winding Refn's direction of this and BRONSON - I'm really excited to see him direct LOGAN'S RUN and if I can locate it catch DRIVE in the theaters - this guy has some stones.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Y is for...

There are a lot of broad comedies about men refusing to grow up, but few have the sly bite of You, Me and Dupree. Even though Carl (Matt Dillon, Crash, There's Something About Mary) is newly married to Molly (Kate Hudson, Almost Famous, How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days), when his best friend Dupree (Owen Wilson, Wedding Crashers, The Life Aquatic) ends up homeless, Carl invites Dupree into their house--in which Dupree promptly makes himself at home, culminating in setting the place on fire during lurid sex. But though he's trapped between his wife and his best friend, Carl may have bigger problems as his boss--and father-in-law--hates him and is sneakily working against his marriage. You, Me and Dupree seems at first glance to be a frat-boy farce about men being emasculated by their wives, but the well-written script, guided with a sure hand by director team Joe and Anthony Russo (who each directed episodes of the top-notch TV series Arrested Development), successfully walks a treacherous path between multi-layered characters and comic events, and is all the funnier as a result. Michael Douglas (Wonder Boys, Fatal Attraction) turns in a sharp, nasty performance as Molly's overly-possessive father. Also featuring Seth Rogan (The 40 Year Old Virgin). (synopsis provided by

released 2006

directed by Anthony & Joe Russo

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Spoiler Alert: Manos: The Hands of Fate

The Master decides to sacrifice both his first wife and Torgo (his man-goat servant). Michael barricades his wife Margaret and his daughter Debbie in a room – but The Master gets in anyways. Michael shoots several shots point blank into The Master’s face – to no affect – the screen fades to black. We see Margaret and Debbie have become new wives of The Master – and Michael has taken the place of Torgo and greets another unsuspecting couple.

The End?


Saturday, June 25, 2011

Friday, June 24, 2011

Cage Match

Someone came walking by my desk explaining to another coworker that Nicolas Cage’s GHOST RIDER was really good – and that she should watch it. He went on to explain just mere feet from my desk how many great Nicolas Cage films there are - listing them off title after title... I just wondered if someone was putting me on. Seriously? Nick Cage?

CON AIR, THE ROCK and GONE IN 60 SECONDS – were fun action films – but not great films by any stretch – and honestly they would’ve been just as fun with any actor in his role. I foolishly kept giving him the benefit of the doubt – and going – “this will be the film that will fix his reputation” – and I’m always disappointed. I know there are several people who will stand by this guy until the day the last multiplex explodes – but for the life of me – I don’t get it.

That’s fine. That’s good. I’m not looking to make anyone agree with me. Everyone should be free to like what they like movie-wise – and not be judged for it. With that conversation literally walking up to me - it’s just becoming obvious with each passing Nicholas Cage film – I realize how little I like his movies.

So, is anyone excited to see him revise the role of Ghost Rider? (and not see Ed Norton revise his role as the Hulk in another sequel to one of the best comic book movies of the past decade – mostly due to the weight of Norton’s performance and his dedication to helping write the script for a good story regardless of the special effect monsters)

Thursday, June 23, 2011

X is for... [part 2]

X2 does a fine job of picking up where X-Men left off, giving fans more of what they liked the first time around. Under the serious-minded custody of returning director Bryan Singer, the second film of this Marvel comics franchise ups the ante on Professor Xavier (Patrick Stewart) and the superhero mutants from the first film, pitting them against a mutant-hating scientist (Brian Cox) who's determined to wipe out the mutant race by tricking Xavier into abusing his telepathic powers. More a series of spectacles than a truly satisfying thriller, X2 introduces new mutant allies while giving each of the X-Men alumni--notably the temporarily helpful Magneto (Ian McKellen)--their own time in the spotlight. Well aware of the parallels between "mutantism" and virulent intolerance in the real world, Singer lends real gravity to the proceedings, injecting dramatic urgency into a continuing franchise that, in lesser hands, might've grown patently absurd. (synopsis provided by

released 2003

directed by Bryan Singer

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Black Death [2010]

The GAME OF THRONES chatter on the various websites I frequent has made me interested in watching Sean Bean in stuff – unfortunately Sean Bean did not carry me through this film. The film itself felt like it just kind of chugged along not wanting to pick a pace – not bothering to endear itself to any of the characters OR build up the spook talk enough for me to be interested in what was going to happen. I found the monk character to be particularly flat and uninteresting – and the fact that the knights did not explain what they expected of him – made me not care a lick about his subplot. I just felt that there were scenes missing – and what should’ve ended up on the cutting room floor was what was left.

Once they started having dinner at the village – I told myself that I was giving the movie another 15 minutes to capture my interest – then I promptly fell asleep until they were being shouted at in cages – and didn’t want to go back and see what lead them to that point. I realize I was too sleepy to watch it and be fair – but it’s not one that I feel like I need to go back to apologize to.

Is it worth going back?

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

X is for...

The feature film The X-Files: I Want to Believe is a satisfying if unspectacular installment in the X-Files series, taking place an unspecified time after the show's nine-year television run. Former agent Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) is now a doctor, while Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) is being hunted by his former agency and living in seclusion. He and Scully are summoned back by a case involving a missing agent and a former priest (Billy Connolly) who claims to be able to see clues to the agent's whereabouts psychically, though his initial search turns up only a severed limb. Don't expect the usual cast of characters; the FBI has completely turned over (except for the George W. Bush portrait), and the only reason Scully and Mulder are back is because agent Dakota Whitney (Amanda Peet) remembers his success on similar cases involving the unexplainable. Don't expect the same rogues' gallery either; unlike the previous X-Files feature film, which was inextricably linked to the series' convoluted mythology arc (and served as a bridge between the fifth and sixth seasons), I Want to Believe is a stand-alone piece that makes use of the series' roots in horror/sci-fi and moody Vancouver, B.C., locales. Also unlike the previous film, which was almost self-consciously shot for the big screen, this film is on a smaller scale, like a double-length episode of the series. But it's still a good reminder of the creepy vibe that hooked fans for years. And the relationship between Mulder and Scully? It seems to have resumed pretty much where it left off, at least when you take into account the long period of separation. But stick around for the end-credit sequence to take in all the possibilities for the future. (synopsis provided by

released 2008

directed by Chris Carter

Monday, June 20, 2011

Sunday, June 19, 2011

The Muppets [2011]

Unlike yesterday's movie - I'm very excited for this one...

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Green Poop [2011]

Ever since the first trailer I saw for this film - I knew - I had zero interest in seeing it... Now, with this "mind blowing" trailer - and the truck busting springs, green go-kart and green race track... Look at all that CGI!! How horrible!! As well as the traditional "I'm so cool and amazed at myself" 'whoa' - I knew I made the right choice. I hope people who are excited to see it are happy with it - but I'm getting a serious shit vibe...

Friday, June 17, 2011

Bohachi Bushido: Code of the Forgotten Eight [1973]

Despite the fact that notorious assassin Shino rejects the ways of the Bohachi clan – instead of being handed over to the authorities – Shino works as the lead assassin to help the Bohachi clan seize power in the region by eliminating their competition.

I’ve defined pinky violence – as women in the lead aggressor role who assume power over men/authority, which are usually corrupted, by using sex and violence. From the “expert” interview on the DVD – pinky violence is defined as being women’s sexuality enticing men to violence. (The expert was sitting in his basement with fast food wrappers around him – so his credentials have taken a hit by his presentation) So, by either definition this film WAS NOT pinky violence (though it’s marketed as one) – it is a period drama/samurai film – with tons and TONS of nudity.

No complaints about the nudity. None.
I wasn’t enthusiastic about the sets – it looked very studio and fake – but as the film progressed I began to really like how they were being used to add contrast. As the film unfolded – and a psychedelic element was introduced the sets made more sense – and it worked so much better and became something I really liked instead of cringed at. I think the directing was solid – and though the film dragged a bit in parts – the filmmakers knew what they were doing in making a very good film.

I liked Shino – though his character didn’t make as much sense to me. The beginning of the film – he flat out rejected the ways of the Bohachi clan – and I assumed that this is where the main conflict would come from. He would play the clan and the authorities against each other – and it would be Yojimbo / A Fistful of Dollars kind of story. Instead he seemed to go along with the flow of the clan way too much and became less of a strong figure and more of a lapdog. I kept wondering when he’d show his hand – and honestly – I’m not sure if he did.

The main contradiction of Shino – was he tries to kill himself pontificating “If death is hell – how does it compare to the hell that is life?” He is rescued – but is obviously fearless of his own demise. So, why does he care if he’s turned over to the authorities? Isn’t it honorable to die in battle against the many Bohachi or the army of authorities? The film tries to play that he is fearless and that’s what makes him unstoppable – so why bend your morals, Shino? Fucking fight everyone!
The Code of the Forgotten Eight sounds really fucking cool – and you think that Shino will be the last of his clan of eight samurai and he was going to uphold his code all over the Bohachi clan’s asses! You learn pretty early though – that the Bohachi are the ones who have decided to “forget” the eight “virtues” – which essentially boils down that they have allowed themselves to become chauvinist pigs. They freely torture and rape women into submission – and when you think that the women will rise up against them – (especially five women in particular) – they just play submissive to the clan and let them use them to hold power by ruling through their brothels.

Wasn’t that in SCARFACE; once you have the women – then you get the power?

Unfortunately, with Shino becoming the Bohachi’s lapdog – and the mysterious ninja clan not being much of a major factor – and the women happy to be dominated – and a run time of 81 minutes – the film doesn’t hold up to what should’ve been. Meaning – without telling you the ending - there was no real conclusion – there were a few great fight sequences – and a pretty cool “ending” – but there was no sense of justice done or tragically left undone.

I wish this was the first or second film of a series and I can turn to the sequel – and continue the story – as this felt like a solid middle part of a pretty epic story. I recommend this film only hesitantly – for the style, direction, fight sequences and ridiculous amount of nudity – but not for the story.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

W is for... [part 2]

Family loyalty and self-reliance take on whole new meanings in this dark story of one family's desperate struggle to survive in the Ozark woods of southern Missouri. Day-to-day life is tough in the economically depressed, unforgiving harsh rural landscape that's home to the extended Dolly clan, but it's made much tougher thanks to their history of cooking crank and deep involvement in the local drug culture. For Jessup Dolly and the other men of the family, looking out for oneself has become the first priority. Seventeen-year-old Ree (Jennifer Lawrence) has been caring for her mentally ill mother and her two younger siblings while her father runs from the law. Ree has been managing OK, but when the sheriff shows up with news that her father has put the house up as bond collateral and is unlikely to show for his court date, things get desperate. Ree is well aware of the family code of silence, but desperation forces her to confront her relatives in search of her father, regardless of the personal consequences. One by one, Ree's relatives refuse to help, protecting themselves even at the cost of one of their own. This is a dark, often violent film that doesn't shy away from the harsh realities of the manic drug culture permeating some rural areas of the South. It is intense, emotional, and extremely effective: it is at times simultaneously uncomfortable to watch and paradoxically riveting. Jennifer Lawrence, John Hawkes, and Dale Dickey deliver phenomenally powerful performances and are completely believable in their respective roles. While this official selection in the dramatic film competition at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival doesn't align well with many of the details in the Daniel Woodrell novel on which it's based, what is absolutely faithfully rendered is the overwhelming sense of resolute self-reliance, complete desperation, and intense, yet distorted family loyalty. (synopsis provided by

released 2010

directed by Debra Granik

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Like A Hitman, Like A Dancer

I don’t understand why there’s always some “corporate” guy who decides that pissing off or deceiving a trained killer is a good idea – thus creating films of this genre. It’s not like these “corporate” guys haven’t been hiring these trained killers and witnessing their results every single day. They should really know better.

I can understand bad guys accidentally backing into a hit man. I mean you can’t call “time out” and do background checks on everyone in a gun fight or car chase. Bad guys are hereby forgiven for their stupidity in taunting a hit man into coming after them with everything they got – though if it’s a profitable organization – and you catch your mistake early enough and can afford to pay them off or return to them the incidental kidnap victim – it would be advisable.

What chafes my suspension of disbelief are the hit man’s employers. May I ask; what’s wrong with a simple pink slip? It’s not like you haven’t been paying the hit man a stack of cash for every job through the years. I wouldn’t think that the hit man would get all pissed off unless they are broke ass shit – but none of them are – they got to keep up with their lifestyles and remain respectable; no one hires a drunk, homeless hit man (or at least no one who can afford not to).
Show up at his place with a brief case full of cash and a delicious cake – thank them for their services – apologize that they are no longer needed – and walk away. What motive will the hit man have for revenge if you do this? None! But if you send in a group of tough guys to shoot his family/friends/dog/goldfish and piss the hit man off to the point where he’s scaling down a building with a bazooka strapped to his back and a machete between his teeth.

So, you let the hit man down gently – and they go away peacefully – and suddenly they are somehow entangled as an obstacle in another plot you’ve got going on. STOP WHAT YOU’RE DOING AND THINK! This hit man was good back in the day – they should be considered just as good today! You allowed them to have a shit load of time off to do whatever they want – unless they are suddenly pushing 3-spins with pizza grease on their shirt - let’s NOT assume that they decided to let themselves go and they are not a threat. Let’s just assume that with all that time off they dedicated themselves to doing what they know how to do and they spent their time continuing their training without missions interrupting them.

If the situation arises where the hit man is hired by another group to come after you – that’s just business – you can’t do much about that other than defend yourself and possibly have leverage to spare a few of your group because there’s no spite in the hit man’s act of destroying you. Maybe you’ll even luck out and they won’t take the mission because you retired him respectfully.
For God’s sake – if the hit man goes missing for a really long period of time – you manage to locate them – and they are not doing any harm to anybody; Let them be!! If they ripped you off of the cash from the last job – consider it their pension. If your operation was that desperate that it really needs that cash back – then reconsider your priorities – there is a lot more profitable ways to get your cash back than to go after a hit man. If it’s about respect – show the hit man some respect – you can’t expect to earn respect by showing disrespect.

If you really need to set-up someone in your organization – anybody is better than the hit man or the hit man’s handler (his bff). If it has to be the hit man’s handler – make it look like an accident – or natural causes. If it absolutely has to be the hit man you set-up – then maybe you should consider quitting or admitting your mistake – because there’s really no future in that – or for you for that matter.

If none of this makes sense – and you decide to go against my advice – that is your choice. So, since I won't be seeing you again - could I get that $20 bucks you owe me?

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

W is for...

Pixar genius reigns in this funny romantic comedy, which stars a robot who says absolutely nothing for a full 25 minutes yet somehow completely transfixes and endears himself to the audience within the first few minutes of the film. As the last robot left on earth, Wall-E (voiced by Ben Burtt) is one small robot--with a big, big heart--who holds the future of earth and mankind squarely in the palm of his metal hand. He's outlasted all the "Waste Allocation Load Lifter Earth-Class" robots that were assigned some 700 years ago to clean up the environmental mess that man made of earth while man vacationed aboard the luxury spaceship Axiom. Wall-E has dutifully gone about his job compacting trash, the extreme solitude broken only by his pet cockroach, but he's developed some oddly human habits and ideas. When the Axiom sends its regularly scheduled robotic EVE probe (Elissa Knight) to earth, Wall-E is instantly smitten and proceeds to try to impress EVE with his collection of human memorabilia. EVE's directive compels her to bring Wall-E's newly collected plant sprout to the captain of the Axiom and Wall-E follows in hot pursuit. Suddenly, the human world is turned upside down and the Captain (Jeff Garlin) joins forces with Wall-E and a cast of other misfit robots to lead the now lethargic people back home to earth. Wall-E is a great family film with the most impressive aspect being the depth of emotion conveyed by a simple robot--a machine typically considered devoid of emotion, but made so absolutely touching by the magic of Pixar animation. Also well-worth admiring are the sweeping views from space, the creative yet disturbing vision of what strange luxuries a future space vacation might offer, and the innovative use of trash in a future cityscape. Underneath the slapstick comedy and touching love story is a poignant message about the folly of human greed and its potential effects on earth and the entire human race. Wall-E is preceded in theaters by the comical short Presto in which a magician's rabbit, unfed one too many times takes his revenge against the egotistical magician. (synopsis provided by

released 2008

directed by Andrew Stanton

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Spoiler Alert: Tank Girl

After discovering that the W&P killed their beloved creator – the Rippers (half-human half-kangaroo creatures) agree to help Tank Girl and Jet Girl take down the W&P and save Sam. A Ripper dies – Jet Girl takes care of Sgt. Small – Tank Girl discovers Kesslee is now cybernetic – shoots beer at him through her tank and dumps water on him to freeze up his gears – and she finishes him off with some needle.

Now, go clean out the gutters – you don’t need to waste your time.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Jenny Agutter

Yeh, you're right - you're a lovely woman - I shouldn't have tantalized myself with such thoughts...

Friday, June 10, 2011

The Man From Nowhere [2010]

The child of a pawnbroker’s neighbor is kidnapped by the local gangsters – and he’s pulled into a drug drama between the cops and the gangsters. Good thing he’s got the skills to deal with it.

This is a nice little revenge film that’s very reminiscent to Leon: The Professional, Man on Fire and Taken. Unfortunately, for this film – it takes a more subdued approach than those films which are more over-the-top – and though The Man From Nowhere attempts the over-the-top style in parts – it doesn’t quite abuse them to the point that it should.

The characters are cartoonishly outlandish – I think they were my favorite part of the film. The hairstyles and personality traits to all the characters were very bold – and over-the-top – it was great! I felt like with the way they were shot – that I was watching an anime – though (thankfully) it wasn’t shot like an overly-caffeinated headache-inducing anime.

The fact that the characters were so very outlandish – but the action did not follow that nature was what I kind of found disappointing. Some of what could’ve been defining action was off camera – where you saw a window crash – or just saw bodies on the ground – and you were left with the discovery of what happened – made the film feel slow.
There were a couple of great knife sequences – and a knife fight that was quite amazing – but the fact is; they were knives. Knives are hard to follow action-wise when they are as short as they are.

For a hard hitting epic revenge ending – yes – this one deserves to be on that list I made last month. It was improbable as all get out – but that’s what you want! The ending showed what was possible the entire film – but I guess it could be argued the film was building to it – and didn’t want to expend energy in the build-up – but you’ve got to keep us interested as an audience.

The film concentrated too much on the police – who are important characters – but not as important as the Pawnbroker and the Gangsters. I’m not saying they dominated the film – but some of their sequences were unnecessary – 15 minutes could’ve been trimmed of their story and made a tighter film that would’ve felt more action packed.
The cops spent time concocting a plan to discover the true identity of the Pawnbroker – when as an audience – for the past 20 years – we have been trained to know that this Pawnbroker is actually an ex-special-something-guy... It’s wasted time discovering what the Pawnbroker used to be – but discovering the reason why he cares so much – that’s interesting – but it was ultimately answered by the Pawnbroker – so the cops side stories were unnecessary.

I do appreciate that the directing was more subtle – and it portrays more of the sad story of the Pawnbroker – and even though I WANTED it to be over-the-top (and if you make note of my critics they are mostly based on what I WANTED not what the FILM ACTUALLY IS) – I need to get over it and admit – it’s a pretty damn good film – and when I go back and watch it with a different mindset – I will be in a better place to fully appreciate it for what it is.

I recommend it – for what it is – it’s a plot hole riddled, hard hitting, fun revenge film.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

V is for... [part 2]

A deeply moving drama built around longtime character actor Richard Jenkins, The Visitor is a simmering drama about a college professor and recent widower, Walter Vale (Jenkins), who discovers a pair of homeless, illegal aliens living in his New York apartment. After the mix-up is resolved, Vale invites the couple--a young, Syrian musician named Tarek (Haaz Sleiman) and his Senegalese girlfriend (Danai Gurira--to stay with him. An unlikely friendship develops between the retiring, quiet Vale and the vital Tarek, and the former begins to loosen up and respond to Tarek’s drumming lessons as if something in him waiting to be liberated has finally arrived. All goes well until Tarek is hauled in by immigration authorities and threatened with deportation. His mother, Mouna (Hiam Abbass), turns up and stays with Vale, sparking a renewed if subdued interest in courtship. But the wheels of injustice in immigration crush all manner of hopes in post-9/11 America. Vale soon realizes his unexpected capacity for anger over Tarek’s plight, and the positive changes to his personal life that emerged from a deep involvement with his friend and Mouna, might be the only legacy he takes from this experience. Writer-director Thomas McCarthy has created a wonderfully measured story about change and renewal, and put it all on the shoulders of Jenkins, a largely unheralded but masterful performer whose time for renown has surely come. (synopsis provided by

released 2007

directed by Thomas McCarthy

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Anita: Swedish Nymphet [1973]

Every so often I rent something thinking it will be one thing – and it turns out to be something else entirely. I rented Anita because it was a Christina Lindberg film – and I’ve enjoyed her other movies. This one sounded like it was another one of her typical films where there’s little plot and a lot of nudity. Well, nudity this film certainly has a lot of – but when it comes to a plot – wow.

Anita (played by Christina Lindberg) is a 17-year old nymphomaniac in a small town outside of Stockholm. She’s notorious throughout the town – to the point where she’s mocked by her peers, used by the men in town and a disgrace to her parents. She hops a train to Stockholm one day as the police were looking for her and to have a fresh set of new men to go after. This is where she meets Erik (played by Stellan Skaarsgard) who runs into her as he’s chasing after someone – and he takes her in to mend her scrapped up knee. Erik identifies that she has a serious problem – and tries to talk her through her issues. Erik eventually falls in love with her – which causes a problem since Anita is stuck in the power struggle of her illness – and Erik doesn’t want to be a guy she uses once and then discards.

What I loved about this movie was the level of depth it delves into with her illness. They don’t glorify it – they treat it like she’s really sick. The nudity and sex becomes unsexy pretty quickly – and soon you are pleading with Anita to stop herself. They explored Anita’s family life - which was at the cause for her worthless feelings about herself and thus caused her nymphomania – with a series of flashbacks.

As a matter of fact – the story flowed from flashback to present time for more than half the beginning of the film. This really helped balance what she was doing and the possible inner monologue that was happening at the time. No scene went too long or with out a future explanation. The story set-up and execution on that level was mind blowing – it’s the kind of stuff major motion picture companies still can’t get right these days.

Christina Lindberg did an AMAZING job in her performance. She’s always felt like she was disconnected from her characters – but in Anita her hesitation as an actress really helped in her performance. Though I hesitate to say that it was the same type of performance that I’m used to seeing. You really felt - when she was desperately searching for a guy – that addiction. You really felt – when she was lying on the couch crying – that repentance for what she did.

The story between Anita and Erik really played out quite well. Erik you felt was more concerned for Anita’s well being than anyone was in the entire film. He brought her in to his house of music students (it was unclear if he was a psych student or a music instructor) – but he tried to have everyone show understanding for Anita – and figure out how he could best help work her through her issues. He did it in such a way that it kind of worked itself into the story – you didn’t feel like he was sitting on a distant chair taking notes – he was there with her in the trenches of her mind.

Probably the only thing that bothered me about this movie – was once Anita was “cured” – Erik and Anita finally got to be ‘together’ – but Erik moved way too quick to touch her breasts (though I can’t blame him) – but that seemed inappropriate for the mood that was set for that scene. Erik even commented that he wanted to dive in – but felt like he should have all the restraint in the world. I felt that the scene could’ve even just been the two of them lying in bed fully clothed – and it would’ve felt more complete.

The Image DVD release of Anita – is on a flat horrible print. There’s probably nothing they can do about the film stock – they certainly aren’t going to bring it in for a full scrubbing considering it’s a Swedish cult film and they won’t make their money back – but it would’ve been nice.

Ultimately, this is a very well made love story. And even though the cover makes it look like you are about to watch something very dirty – it’s got more heart and depth to it than most films.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

V is for...

Beyond being Jess Franco's masterpiece, Vampyros Lesbos is a highpoint of the lesbian vampire film genre. Like Daughters of Darkness, The Vampire Lovers, and the New Wave vampire film, The Hunger, Vampyros features an extremely hot vampire, Countess Nadina Carody (Soledad Miranda), who dances at strip clubs in her spare time. In a brutally sexy opening scene, Miranda hypnotically seduces audience member Linda Westinghouse (Ewa Strömberg), calling her to her castle in Anatolia, on business from which Westinghouse never returns. Linda's boyfriend, Omar (Andrés Monales), eventually finds Linda institutionalized, cared for by one Dr. Seward. The characters in Vampyros Lesbos are foils for the cast of Bram Stoker's Dracula, in radical opposition to the traditional, clichéd horror film stereotypes. Psychedelic moments, like when Linda is seduced by the Queen of the Night, recall the grainy, erotic scenes of Jean Rollin's Requiem Pour Un Vampire, and Le Frisson Des Vampires. To dwell on the convoluted plot is clearly missing the point. With arguably the best horror movie soundtrack every released, Vampyros Lesbos revels in the sultry aspects of vampirism, resulting in long, romantic sequences of nude women playing in ocean waves, lying on chaise lounges, and making out in bed. Franco's other films, like She Killed in Ecstasy and Venus in Furs, serve as sequels, so see this first. In fact, see this film period. (synopsis provided by

released 1970

directed by Jesus Franco

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Spoiler Alert: 3000 Miles to Graceland

Michael though looking like he wasn’t going to make it – survives the massive gun fights at the end because he’s wearing a bulletproof vest. He runs off with Jesse & Cybil and the money – and they all sail away together on a boat named ‘Graceland’ with the implications he’s one of Elvis’ illegitimate children.

You’re welcome.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Friday, June 3, 2011

Prey [1978]

Strange lights in the sky awaken Jessica from her sleep – she’s scared she runs to Jo – her lover in the next room – who is more than willing to calm her down. Anderson is making out with his girlfriend in the woods when he gets out to take a pee is attacked. The next morning Anderson shows up at Jessica & Jo’s country house looking dazed and acting concussed – they invite him to stay with them. But there’s something wrong with Anderson - he’s possessed by an alien!

This is an acting tour de force! Each character is so extremely messed up that you it brings up the obvious question – “who’s the real monster?”

Jessica is just too naïve to be believed – or are all Canadians like that? (ha ha – sorry guys) She obviously lost her parents in a sudden and traumatic way that allowed Jo to sweep in and “help” her by basically kidnapping her. Yet, she’s overly trusting of this strange man who literally wanders into their house – and she’s immediately drawn to him as a lover. Then again – Jessica is the only one who points out the strangeness of Anderson - how he never eats – or how his name is ANDERS ANDERSON!

Anders Anderson is obviously messed in the head to the point where I wouldn’t feel comfortable around him so why would two women living alone in the country feel comfortable around him beats me. He’s played very low key and withdrawn – yet has an extremely profound moment where the three of them are playing hide & seek and he tells Jessica that she’s a prisoner of Jo’s. I can see the importance of having Anderson deliver that particular line – but it’s so out of character that it’s just not believable.

Jo is comically militant. She belittles Anderson for being a male in so many annoying ways that she should’ve noticed right away that Anderson wasn’t reacting – and instead of Jessica pointing out Anderson’s oddities - it should’ve been Jo. She emasculates Anderson by dressing him up as a woman at a party after he does a very manly thing and saves the women from the fox (who was the patsy for Anderson’s blood lust). Yet, she awkwardly tries to kiss Anderson while they are dancing – which shows some cracks in Jo yet that doesn’t seem to affect her past that particular scene.

The directing of Norman J. Warren is standard in this film. There are only few highlights to his craft – namely the ending chase scene - along with the bizarre “drowning” scene (which is worth watching the film for). One reoccurring part of the film seemed like they kind of threw together some b-roll and a voice overdub to make up for a ‘nada scene’ – which is just poor directing.

The writing as I pointed out above doesn’t really add up. Motives of the characters are uncertain and character depth is never really given to each of them 3 main characters. I should also point out that the story is more of a series of odd events – than a full on plot. I do particularly like how the sex scenes are quite cynical and disturbing – it was a welcomed touch to go along with the extreme characters – so I’ll give kudos to the screenplay for that.

It was a fine movie that drew me in with it’s acting – yet not much further in than that.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

U is for... [part 2]

Luc Besson wrote and directed the stylish thrillers La Femme Nikita and The Professional; though he didn't direct Unleashed, the script has his trademark fusion of outrageous sentimentality and over-the-top violence. Hong Kong action superstar Jet Li (Romeo Must Die, Hero) stars as Danny, a man raised to be a brutal attack dog by a nasty gangster named Bart (Bob Hoskins, Mona Lisa)--when Bart removes Danny's collar, Danny pulverizes everyone in the room. But a chance encounter with a blind piano tuner (Morgan Freeman, Million Dollar Baby) reveals to Danny the possibility of a less brutal life, and when a retaliation attack gives him the chance to escape, he does--but Bart won't let him go that easily. The fighting in Unleashed is effectively jolting; Li and fight choreographer Yuen Wo Ping (The Matrix) have purposefully stripped away the smoothness of most movie combat (especially with a genuine martial artist like Li) with raw, unnerving results, especially when juxtaposed with the sweet and earnest scenes of Li regaining his humanity with Freeman and his step-daughter (Kerry Condon). This freewheeling cocktail of bloody noses and ice-cream cones isn't for everyone, but fans of both Besson and Li will leave satisfied. (synopsis provided by

released 2005

directed by Louis Leterrier

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Storm Watching

Over the holiday weekend we were hit with some massive thunderstorms so I pulled some movies off the shelf and had a movie marathon - none of which do I want to write up in anything huge - so here's the quick 2-sentence hits.

Psycho [1960]
The scariest thing in this movie is the scene of the getting rid of the body - it seemed almost in real time - and that's all it takes to make you never seen again. The end with the condescending psychiatrist's speech explaining and over explaining doesn't hold up well for modern audiences.

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest [1975]
I think this one holds up pretty well all the way around for modern audiences - the whole antiestablishment feelings people seem to always seem to carry with them from generation to generation. After this particular viewing, I was feeling that Mac brings it on himself - so even though I get the message of the overall movie - I wasn't feeling much sympathy for the anti-hero.
Lars and the Real Girl [2007]
This one is starting to pull away from the pack and it might make it into my top 10 movies - every time I watch it - I have the same reaction like I was watching it the first time. I love how the town pulls together for Lars - making Bianca real - bending just enough of their lives to pull Lars back into "reality".
Splice [2010]
It's the same old Frankenstein story but with a modern genetics twist and more sexual tension. Something about this time - made me draw a few parallels to some of Jesus Franco's creature/genetic abomination films - and wonder if he had helped inspire any bit of the story.