Archive for the ‘Film review’ Category

Me and My Rhythm Box

August 6, 2010

From the 1982 cult-classic Liquid Sky which seriously needs DVD distribution.

Stephen King called it.

May 7, 2010

Except the real one is a million times larger. From Creepshow 2:

New Crystal Castles!! Empathy

May 2, 2010

The album is about to drop, or in other words: it has been leaked all over the net like a certain oil spill. I’m getting freaky to this number as we speak…

Wouldn’t it be nice…

January 21, 2010

if candidates and senators couldn’t reveal in any capacity whether they were Republican or Democrat so that the public had to vote based on ideas and character; and senators had to vote on bills based on ideas and content and not on party lines, where the ultimate sell-out is intentionally disrupting the functionality of government in a game to win more seats than the other side. Is DC becoming a graveyard for politician’s souls?

Best Movies of 2009

January 4, 2010

(With some updates when I catch a few I missed.) The best horror movies follow in the post below.

Documentaries

TysonFood, Inc.Anvil: The Story of AnvilThe Cove

5. Big River Man

4. Tyson

3. Food, Inc.

2. Anvil: The Story of Anvil

1. The Cove

Ponyo

13. tie Ponyo / Mary & Max – In a year with great animation these were my favorite.

District 9Star Trek

12. District 9 – Utterly original sci-fi movie that ultimately boils down to an action fantasy.

11. Star Trek – The message in this is actually more profound than the previous film: Hard work and the pursuit of excellence will save the world.

Dean Spanley

10. Dean Spanley – Lord Dunsany makes his cinematic debut, and Peter O Toole exits the stage with effulgence. I couldn’t be more charmed.

HungerThe EscapistBronson

9. British Prison Films (tie)Hunger / The Escapist / BronsonHunger is the intense and minimalist one. The Escapist is the best prison escape movie in a decade. Bronson is the Kubrick-esque, riveting character study.

Moon

8. Moon – Almost perfect sci-fi with tour-de-force performances [sic] by Sam Rockwell. And Kevin Spacey makes  a great robot.

The Road

7. The Road – A faithful recreation of Cormac McCarthy’s novel. Viggo is lights-out in this role,  and the director John Hillcoat mostly nails it.

Everlasting Moments

6. Everlasting Moments – A powerful Swedish film of liberating oneself through technology.

The Damned United

5. The Damned United – The best sports movie since Hoop Dreams. And I don’t really care for sports movies.

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4. Private Eye – This turn-of-the-century detective story puts Sherlock Holmes to shame.

Departures3.5 Departures – I thought this was an absorbing look into Japanese culture and then it sideswipes you with an emotional suplex.

Gomorrah

3. Gomorrah – A re-invention of the gangster film that will give youngsters second thoughts about becoming Tony Montana.

Avatar

2. Avatar – James Cameron’s films have nearly all held up for repeated viewings after years have passed, and this will be no different. Its message to the upcoming generation will be measurable.

Inglourious Basterds

1. Inglourious Basterds – An epic revenge-fantasy that fulfilled Tarantino’s lofty ambitions. He knows how to get great performances from actors while creating a manual on how to generate cinematic tension.

Best Horror Movies of 2009

January 3, 2010

I must include the 2010 releases since I saw them this year, but consider them recommended.

The ChildrenDrag Me to HellPontypoolBad BiologyThirst

10. The Children

9. Drag Me To Hell

8. Pontypool

7. Bad Biology

6. 4Bia (Phobia) – Sorry Trick r’ Treat, but this anthology has more original and unique stories.

5. Thirst – Move over New Moon. Wook-Park is your master.

Doghouse

4. The Revenant – This film seems to be still without distribution and could make beaucoup box-office $$ if marketed right.

3. Doghouse – Studios missed out again on this British zombie-comedy that almost eclipses Shaun of the Dead.

2. Rec 2 – My analogy is that this is what Aliens was to Alien. Now you’ve been improperly hyped.

Zombieland

1. Zombieland – If a character doesn’t “double-tap” in future horror movies, they will now be flawed. This won’t keep you awake at night, but it is a very re-watchable comic thrill ride with Harrelson in Natural Born Killers mode.

Best Horror Movies of the Decade

January 2, 2010

I’ve given more weight to films that truly frightened me and those that made me consider other dimensions to the beyond….

10. Martyrs

9. The Uninvited Guest

8. The Host

7. The Orphanage

6. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (remake)

5. The Hills Have Eyes (remake)

4. Tale of Two Sisters

3. Ju-on (the original Japanese version—not the American one with Sarah Michelle Gellar)

2. Audition

1. Kairo (Pulse)

Best Movies of the Decade

December 8, 2009

This doesn’t include horror and ’09 films which will be listed later. I’m abstaining from any long-winded rationale. Opinions?

10. Volver

9. Battle Royale

8. Azumi

7. The Hours

6. Napoleon Dynamite

5. Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter, And…Spring

4.The Best of Youth (La Meglio Gioventu)

3. Spirited Away

2. In America

1. Mulholland Drive

Oh yeah, and some docs:

5. King of Kong   4. Sicko   3. Rape of Europa   2. The Bridge    1. Capturing the Friedmans  

Jack-Chop

October 19, 2009

dir. by Adam Green. Happy carvings, kyid!

Ponyo vs. Antichrist

September 8, 2009

ponyoantichrist-poster

Will love or hate, good or evil come out the winner? Is it wrong to compare these films? They make the most diametrically opposite movies ever pitted against each other. Ponyo fans: for the love of humanity, don’t watch Antichrist!! Antichrist viewers: Take two tablets of Ponyo to relieve and uplift your troubled mind. Enjoy the bite-size reviews!

Ponyo

I saw this in a theater with many young children who were worked up to such a fever pitch at one point in the movie that one girl erupted, “Wow. That is really cool!!” I laughed, but agreed with her 100%. As young as some of these kids were, they were still smart enough to know they weren’t being conned; this movie was different. Miyazaki’s latest, though imperfect, filled me with such love (and magic!) that I stopped being a critic and floated on benevolence. If you’re having a bad day, this could work wonders for you too(!). (9/10)

Antichrist

Graphically shocking beyond all belief? Check. Deranged and disturbing? Check. Future cult film? Check. Misogynistic? Perhaps. This is a mirror Eden created by Satan, thus the woman is inherently evil. Nature and human nature are included in that paradigm. The film seems to reference and/or trump scenes from films In the Realm of the Senses and Bergman’s Cries and Whispers. The cinematography is stunning and music grandiose. I seem to be swayed by the symbolism and very realistic XXX material and, believe me, that in itself is very disturbing.  (6.66/10) — jk: 8/10

And the winner is: Ponyo !!

Best DVDs of the Month

August 28, 2009

EVERLASTING_MECH1.inddgomorrah_movie_posterposter_londontobrightononesht

1. Gomorrah – The gangsta movie will never be the same after this. I think the writer is still under police protection. Rating: 9/10

2. Everlasting Moments – This might be Swedish director Jan Troell’s finest moment. It is a period piece of a woman who finds herself through technology. Rating: 9/10

3. London to Brighton – Bone-cracking debut by filmmaker Paul Andrew Williams. It blends the verite realism of those French films that seem to always win Cannes, but adds some brace-for-survival intensity that keeps it moving swiftly. The newfound actors are quite good, especially Georgia Groome who plays a 12 year-old in the throes of utter depravity. Take heed; some of these scenes will be too intense and shocking for everyone. Rating: 8/10

4. Katyn – The Polish Holocaust by the hands of Russia during WWII has never had such a harrowing depiction. Renowned composer Krysztof Penderecki delivers an incredible and haunting score. Rating: 8/10

5. The Class – Who knew a Paris classroom would be so like Austin, TX? Universal issues abound in this Cannes Grand Prix winner. Rating: 8/10

6. Big Man Japan – The ending of this goofy fantasy, superhero movie with great CGI is outrageous. Has to be seen to be believed. Rating: 7.5/10

7. Goodbye Solo – My favorite movie yet by American director Ramin Bahrani. His slice-of-life stories of the urban NE are too real for comfort. Rating: 7.5/10

8. Wolfhound – You take your epic sword-fantasy formula, add some Russian uniqueness provided you turn on the Russian language, and you get a movie striving for that LOTR fanbase with a tenth of the budget. The quality of the very important special effects/CGI is better than a cable movie, but not up to par to LOTR. The rest is just fine. Rating: 7/10

Bite-Size Horror Reviews: The Objective, The Messengers 2, Haunting in Connecticut, The Unborn

July 28, 2009

The ObjectiveThe Haunting in ConnecticutThe Messengers 2: The ScarecrowThe Unborn

 

Interesting  —  The Objective 

A low budget can’t keep this military-meets-phenomena film from consistently being fascinating. The dialogue and acting is surprisingly well done and it has garnered three cinematography awards. The ending will certainly frustrate some and that’s all I can say without spoiling things. Who can explain the inexplicable?  Rating: 7/10

Eh  —      The Haunting in Connecticut 

The documentary on Discovery channel was very spooky and ‘factual’, but its many dramatizations left much to be desired. Enter this movie version to fulfill that, and it goes seriously overboard. Frenetic editing, ultrastylized shots, and some exaggerated movie magic swamp the realism and creepiness. That being said, there is a rollercoaster ride of fun jump scares and good camerawork to make this enjoyable for most. Kyle Gallner is very good as a young man with cancer, and Elias Koteas as the reverend is always a fascinating watch. I would probably recommend the documentary first. Despite its made-for-tv shortcomings, it has enough testimonials to make your arm hairs stand straight up.    Rating: 5/10

Mediocre —   Messengers 2: The Scarecrow 

The best horror scarecrow film is still Dark Night of the Scarecrow, a 1981 made-for-TV movie that is genuinely scary and hard to find. This is an entirely forgettable, predictable, and derivative effort with not much gore. How many times do we have to see a protagonist fight his sanity that he is or isn’t the antagonist? At least The Messengers was somewhat unpredictable, visually unique, and had Kristen Stewart. With some pretty good acting by Norman Reedus and Claire Holt, this wasn’t bad enough to be a B-movie.     Rating: 4/10

Awful —    The Unborn 

Gary Oldman–we deny you are in this movie. It isn’t really happening. Noooooo.   Rating: 3/10

Che and Dog Eat Dog (Bite-size Reviews)

June 15, 2009

Che-movie-poster-IFC-Films-banner35m1b87

Che (Part 1 and 2) –

Both parts of this total to nearly five hours of educational entertainment. The juxtaposition of the two films is interesting. The revolution works like a dream in the beautiful climes of Cuba, and likewise, part one is a dream of movie. What works in Cuba is a nightmare in the harsh landscape of Bolivia. Part two often feels unnecessarily slow, documentary-like, and plodding, but maybe that’s the point. Anyway, Benecio del Toro is great and delivers his best performance yet. I would say skip part two, but then your ideas of revolution would be skewed. And have fun spotting the Matt Damon cameo. Rating: Part 1 – 9/10;   Part 2 – 6.5/10

Dog Eat Dog (Perro Come Perro) –

I’m tempted to call this the Mexican ‘Reservoir Dogs’ even though it is its own animal. It favors gritty realism over Tarantino’s cheeky flair and sense of humor. The new faces all handle their roles perfectly. This is a pressure-cooker that has absolutely no mercy.   Rating: 8/10

Damien Walters Takes Flight

June 7, 2009

The Effects of Red Bull, or Pfft, I Can Do That. . .

Best to Worst DVDs of the Month

May 30, 2009

Dante 01Wendy and LucyOutlanderWhat Doesn't Kill YouJust Another Love StoryDetective Story

 

1. Dante 01 – See review below. Rating: 8.5/10

2. Wendy and Lucy – A human drama that tells a focused story with heart and realism. Michele Williams is great. Rating: 8/10

3. Outlander – One helluva entertaining sci-fi/dragon/Viking pic that makes you wonder how the Weinsteins dropped the ball on making $$ on it in the theaters. Even Ron Perlman has a sick role. Rating: 8/10

4. What Doesn’t Kill You – Wonderful Boston crime drama with great performances by Mark Ruffalo and Ethan Hawke. Based on a true story. Rating: 7.5

5. Just Another Love Story – Superb Danish psychological thriller with unpredictable twists and style to burn. Rating: 7.5

6. Detective Story – A solid Takashi Miike detective horror comedy that just misses being essential. There’s some laugh-out loud moments (happy showers!), sadistic killings, and wonderfully expressive and goofy actors. Miike mostly plays it straight, and the shock factor is nowhere near Ichi, Gozu, or Visitor Q. The movie fizzles out at the end, perhaps due to Miike’s prolific schedule. My advice for him: less movies, more quality! Rating: 7/10

My Bloody ValentineEden Log  —— OK

7. My Bloody Valentine – The only reason to watch this is for the 3-D effects (and some other eye-candy). So you’ll need to go find some glasses at a rental store. It’s a mediocre film otherwise. Make sure you watch it at night on a somewhat big screen to maximize the 3-D experience. It’s the same old 3-D, but it makes for an original and fun evening until your migraine sets in. Rating: 6.5

8. Eden Log – A frustratingly enigmatic industrial sci-fi film with a low budget, minimal dialogue, and not much light. It basically has a similar message as Dante 01 but with an environmental twist. Martyrs composers Seppuku Paradigm return to give this movie an eerie vibe. You’ll be confused until the final ten minutes and most will probably still be confused by the time the credits roll.     Rating: 6/10

Powder BlueS. Darko: A Donnie Darko Tale    ———WORST

9. Powder Blue – Noteworthy for Jessica Biel and her bare-it-all performance (hot wax has never looked so appealing). But really, when you have a recent Best Actor winner alongside a noteworthy cast, and it goes straight to DVD; that’s a bad sign. Every character in this movie is either: a.) dying b.) wanting to die c.) already dead or d.) a mortician. So it’s basically the feel-bad movie of the year. And Patrick Swayze and Lisa Kudrow seal the insta-depression deal. Rating:  Ooohh, Blah

10. S. Darko – This sequel to Donnie Darko looks and sounds great, but is as hollow and insignificant as a fortune cookie. It goes back in time to go forward to go nowhere. I think S stands for sorry. Rating: Blecch

Terminator Salvation Review

May 21, 2009

Terminator_Salvation

 

Entertaining action film with wicked, state-of-the-art CGI and cinematography (yes–thank the Director of Photography who was the victim of Bale’s method acting.) And yes, it’s flawed if you really want to overanalyze it. The trailers essentially gave away the structure of the plot. There’s shoddy moments in the acting and script, including some ill-placed references to famous lines of the other films. Bale plays his grumpiest role yet (maybe the thought of another grueling action series wasn’t savory), but his performance is different enough from his Batman role to warrant my admiration. Critics have complained that the movie is too serious and not fun, but what do you expect in an apocalypse with people being hunted by horrific machines? Witty gabs by Scotty have no place here. Alas, the future we got a glimpse of 20+ years ago is here, so strap the seatbelt on and expect some skull crushing.

 Rating: 8/10

MASHUP ALERT!! Ozzy vs. Pink vs. Clarkson vs. Daft Punk

May 21, 2009

And here’s the track for download: HERE.  (Thanks Mashuptown)

Computer crash

May 12, 2009

crash

Not that kind of crash… I must have really pissed the computer gods off, because not only did my brand new, just-expired-warranty desktop bite it, but my laptop is officially kaput.  So I broke into a neighbor’s house to use their computer. Posts should resume soon, but wait, I think I heard a garage opening–.

Dante 01 Review

April 23, 2009

dante_011

 

 

 

I’m a sucker for symbolism and/or allegory, especially in the science fiction and horror genres.  I honestly haven’t been this floored by a film since Martyrs (the French strike again!!). This is theosophical science-fiction that William Burroughs might have enjoyed. There’s heavy allusions to Dante’s Inferno, but I think the important allegory here is the myth of St. Georges and the Dragon. DON’T wiki that just yet. Absorb the movie and then start piecing together the pieces. Then let’s talk about that final shot…

 

Rating: 8.5/10

 

Forget it, don’t watch the trailer. Go in knowing zilch.

House Review

April 20, 2009

house-poster_ff88cbe83854bc2a127a2a6385bb7027

Christian horror? Is it possible?

The end of this movie does have a Christian message if you follow the symbolism/allusions to Christ and Satan, and the battleground that is The House, which is exactly as stated: a place for weary souls. The film starts very strong and gets major brownie points for inducing the southern gothic. The actors are great, and you gotta love Michael Madsen and Bill Moseley in their small roles. Eventually developments in The House start to become too slap-dash and repetitive. And the main climax is an overdose of fairy-dust. Yet the final resolution becomes emotional given all the symbolism going on.

 Rating: 7/10

Catch the trailer.

Best DVDs of the month

April 14, 2009

Synecdoche, New YorkTokyo ZombieChangelingElegyBrigham CityVinyan

My top picks. What did I miss?

1. Synecdoche, New York –  This movie is either the most pretentious or most brilliant thing I’ve seen in a long time. So either way it gets the top spot for starting that conversation.  Rating: 8/10

2. Tokyo Zombie – Ridiculously goofy Japanese zombie movie about some guys who put their jinjitsu moves on some zombies. I might have chortled, whatever that means. Rating: 8/10

3. The Changeling – Clint Eastwood just doesn’t make bad movies. Rating: 8/10

4. Elegy – Sir Ben Kingsley and Penelope Cruz put on acting fireworks in this. Makes me wonder if Academy voters saw this before voting for HER HOTNESS. However, if you read or are planning to read Philip Roth’s novel (The Dying Animal), then I hear this pales in comparison. Rating: 7.5/10

5. Brigham City – A low-budget Mormon murder-mystery that really captures the small-town dynamic, and can certainly compete with the big boys.  Rating: 7/10

6. Cthulthu – See below. Rating: 7/10

7. Vinyan – A couple lose their son in the Tsunami, and they continue to become more lost as they search the third-world heart of darkness. The last shot is outrageously beguiling. Rating: 7/10

8. Happy-Go-Lucky – I’m not crazy about the whole movie, but the scenes with Sally Hawkins and her driving instructor, Eddie Marsan, are some of the funniest and most heartbreaking of the year. I really want to watch just those scenes again. Watch out for Eddie Marsan. He’ll be in Sherlock Holmes, and is on the rise.   Rating: 7/10

Cthulhu Review

April 5, 2009

cthulhu

The best Lovecraftian (more inspired by, then an adaptation of) movie yet; albeit a creepy, well-shot, but artsy, and low-budget, so no-monsters film. I really wanted to like this movie more and the set-up is fantastic, but there is really no pay-off, except for some stylistic and frenetic scene jumps and ‘discoveries’. Tori Spelling has a small role and is quite good playing the sultry, evil vixen. Then there are these incredible, mind-blowing shots, one with a swimming polar bear, and the other with some sort of dimension portal (I think). Overall, I found the material to be a worthy diversion, but it helps if you are familiar with HP Lovecraft and the Cthulhu story-line. 

Rating: 7/10


Seven Pounds, Ironweed, and The Midnight Meat Train Reviewed

March 10, 2009

 

seven_poundsironweedmidnight-meat-postsm_1

Seven Pounds – Despite being pretentious, cheesy, very slow (I read three chapters during parts), and having a predictable, coming-from-a-mile-away “surprise!” ending; the execution of the final exquisite 30 minutes is lights-out and heartwrenching. Will Smith is great as usual, and Rosario Dawson shows what she’s made of towards the end of the film. I went from hating this struggling film to somehow getting knocked out in the final round. This is certainly a movie that will generate a wide spectrum of opinion, praise, and criticism.  Rating: 6/10

Ironweed (released Feb. 24 on DVD) – Jack Nicholson in his prime as a drunk bum talking to dead people ala The Shining? Meryl Streep in a tour-de-force supporting role? Does it matter this film drones, mumbles, and stumbles along in places? Unfeasibly, this release comes only in full-screen, but it still looks very good considering. Nicholson’s performance seems heavily inspired by German actor Gunter Lamprecht’s turn as Franz Biberkopf in Fassbinder’s Berlin Alexanderplatz. The director Hector Babenco (Kiss of the Spider Woman) was a strange choice for this project, but Nicholson and Streep are the must-see show here.  Rating: 8/10

The Midnight Meat Train – This is a frustrating example where you have a great story by Clive Barker and you have a screenwriter/studio who have completely missed the point by straying from the story. Why add an hour of fluff and diminish certain elements that made Barker’s story work? This studio needs to watch [REC] and realize a shorter movie without a formulaic Hollywood script can work. HP Lovecraft fans hoping to see ‘a glimpse’ will be sorely disappointed by the ending. That being said, director Kitamura does add some nice visual flourishes, and the hammer is a very effective addition. The slo-mo ‘eyes-popping’ scene (Warning: unrated and disturbing) is already classic. But all the missed opportunities I wonder at. Clive Barker talked about a trilogy for this, and maybe it will eventually get there.  Rating: 5/10

100 Feet review

March 5, 2009

100feetbig1

This is one ghost film you don’t want to miss, and I’ll be very surprised if it isn’t the best of its kind (including the much advertised A Haunting in Conneticut) to be released this year. After floating around in limbo 🙂 for some time it will have a Sci-Fi channel premiere on April 26th, but wait for the DVD to see the too scary for TV scenes. And make no mistake, you need to see this movie uncut, because it is unrelenting.

Famke Janssen stars and has been making nice career moves lately (Taken, The Wackness), and it’s not just her looks; this babe has some acting chops.  The fact this movie all takes place in essentially one location gives even further credit to director Eric Red. In what seems like a tired genre lately, he turns into a how-to manual.  This shouldn’t be a surprise really when you consider he wrote Near Dark and directed a pretty good werewolf movie in Bad Moon. If the movie resembles anything it is The Entity, and that is a compliment. And watch this movie at night; the tension really simmers and builds into a genuine explosive pay-off.  Critics have honed in on the last five minutes, but that is really being picky if you ask me.  Rating: 8.5/10

Oscar Best Picture Bite-Size Reviews

February 23, 2009

80th Annual Academy Awards Anniversary 2008

The Super Bowl for celluloid magic, art, and fashion has arrived. I’ve finally caught all the Best Picture nominees and here are my thoughts and rankings:

1st place: Milk 

This probably would have been my Best Picture of 2008, despite the fact I don’t personally enjoy watching men getting all smoochy on one another. Sean Penn is electrifying here and I’m really happy that the Oscars got it right.  James Franco, Emile Hirsch, and Josh Brolin are also great in support. Danny Elfman’s score is superb, and Gus Van Sant has given us what is perhaps his best work. Rating: 9+/10

2nd Place: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

I don’t get the negative backlash this film is getting about the ‘depth’ of the movie; that beyond the pretty technical achievements there isn’t much there. Well, I looked deeply into this movie past its beautiful production values and camerawork and found much to love. Yes, the film is lyrical and universal (the opposite of a verite approach like The Wrestler or those that usually win at Cannes). Yes, it is nearly three hours long, but there isn’t a second wasted.  Rating: 9/10

3rd Place: The Wrestler

I know this wasn’t nominated for Best Picture, but it should have been. Mickey Rourke is a maelstrom of flesh and steroids and deserved all the acting awards prior to the Oscars. Rating: 8.5/10

4th Place: Slumdog Millionaire

I love the first hour of this movie, but don’t understand the hype and awards that are being heaped on it. It is very original and the music is fantastic, but I think it’s coasting on its popularity of being a foreign and cultural rags-to-riches story; one that uses Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? as a plot device nevertheless. And what does it say that there are no acting awards coming from this movie?  Anyone else out there agree? (Echoing. The wind sweeps through the plains.)         Rating: 7/10

5th Place – Frost/Nixon

While this material feels like it has been covered before, the interview as a chess/boxing match is somewhat unique. Perhaps I’m too young to truly connect to this event, and I enjoyed Oliver Stone’s W. more. Frank Langella as Nixon is reason enough to recommend this. Rating: 7/10

 6th Place: The Reader

Another film that feels like we’ve ‘been-there-done-that’ and is remarkably slow and long getting there. Kate Winslet truly bares all in this movie, and you wonder if her performance in Revloutionary Road separated her from the rest of the nominees. This was a technical/acting achievement that otherwise really did nothing else for me.   Rating: 6.5/10

Boombox

February 20, 2009

100 days, 100 dances, 100 great songs: Ely Kim, you’ve got some moves and your 10 minutes of fame. (The tracklist will be in the comments.)

Jason Comes to Texas!! (Friday the 13th reviewed)

February 13, 2009

fridaythe13th_2009_12

This is literal as:

a.) Jason actor Derek Mears was in Austin along with producers Brad Fuller and Andrew Form to give us an advance screening of Friday the 13th.

b.) They shot this movie in locales around central Texas.

c.) This movie is going to make bucketloads of cash this weekend and will be officially announcing a sequel in the next week that will also probably be shot in Texas.

Before my review here is some other tidbits of info: Their were 3 Q +A’s, one in the middle of the movie due to a projector ‘melt-down’. This enabled Derek Mears to physically reenact a kill scene for us that we sorta missed out on. Brad Fuller and Andrew Form discussed their remake of Nightmare on Elm Street with director Samuel Bayer and hinted at having some very mainstream actors wanting to take a crack at Freddy. As long as this movie does well this weekend, the sequel (the 13th in the series) could possibly be back in 3-D, which allowed an audience member to suggest “Friday the 3-D teenth”.

Now to attempt an unbiased review:

If you’ve seen Marcus Nispel’s remake of Texas Chainsaw Massacre, then you know he has an eye for superb camerawork and a supporting team with very high production values, which all bleeds into this effort. Producer Michael Bay will allow nothing less than 2009 fireworks set firmly into the new generation’s horror expectations. And for the most part this film delivers as a nu-slasher.

The movie tries to straddle the line between dumb-downed fun and ultra-realism, but dumb-downed fun ultimately triumphs. The kills are innovative yet harken back to some earlier kills in the series. The Texas locales add a lovely new ambience for the proceedings. The cast, with its fair share of seeming underwear models that show enough acting range, was chosen with great care. Derek Mears’s experience in working with Greek masks apparently pays off, and his eyes do some scary work. The script is wise to regenerate themes from the underrated Friday the 13th 2, and it deftly avoids trying to reinvent the wheel (Jason Goes to Hell anyone?). So if you want to see a 3-D sequel with a great production team, go have a blast this weekend supporting this-.  Just don’t expect high-art, OK?

Rating: 7.5/10

dscn48001

Chocolate Review

February 11, 2009

chocolate

 

 

 

 

Thai Grrl-power!! Really it will be a cliche before long that this movie will be called the ‘female Ong-Bak’. The twenty minute fight sequence at the end is just ridiculous and essential. The movie does take some time getting there because of the non-fight scenes and the bad actors in them. And I still had to suspend some disbelief that this wiry teen-age girl could whoop up on dozens of fighters. But she sells it, and the choreography is no-wires-lights-out. And any movie that deals with a creative way of helping kids with special needs I’m all for!  

 

Check out the preview here.

 

Rating: 7/10

Taken review

February 5, 2009

takenquad-r

This action thriller just took advantage of a non-blockbuster, box-office weekend in America to grab $24 million dollars to add to its already impressive European numbers. And it certainly deserves the limelight. Director Pierre
Morel is no stranger to action flicks. His first outing was the fantastic martial arts exercise B13. This time he has chosen a simple and universal story of a father out to rescue his girl, and damned be those who stand in his way. Liam Neeson does his best European- John Wayne impression, and he’s so natural for this you wonder why he hasn’t done more action movies. Now, the exposition of the movie is edited lightning quick, and the acting comes across very hammy and over-the-top. You get the feeling Morel or the studio decided to get to the action as QUICK as possible. But this really doesn’t get too much in the way, because you quickly become emotionally invested in the situation, while rooting for a real ‘good guy’ to exacts his wrath on some real ‘bad guys’.  Scoop the preview here. Rating: 8/10

Christian Bale F-Bomb Remix!

February 4, 2009

OK, so you know right now this Rated R for explicit language, but otherwise imagine how Anger Management 2: Batman vs Joker (starring Bale and Nicholson of course) would play out.

Best (and Worst) Horror DVD Releases of January

January 28, 2009

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It seems there’s been a surge of respectable horror movies released this month, so I’ve decided to rank and talk about them, hoping anyone that likes a good fright (or laugh, in the case of Tokyo Gore Police) will find this interesting. Chime in if I got it all wrong or missed something. And I’ll be a little late catching The Poughkeepsie Tapes.

Room of Death (La Chambre des Morts) –  There’s a point in the film where someone pulls out a copy of The Silence of the Lambs and you realize the French have been inspired. Like that movie, this is a superb serial killer/crime thriller that could easily be put into the Horror section. It has a unique ‘villain’ and enough twists and turns to keep things interesting and different from Silence and other similar films in the genre. At times the movie feels like it is getting more convoluted and going nowhere in all of its subtitled Francais glory, but stick with it as the ending ties everything together beautifully. Rating: 8/10

Eden Lake – This is a brutal and realistic look at what happens when middle school kids have nothing to do and have fallen spell under a Hitler-esque leader. The acting is spot-on, and it’s about as compelling as the real thing.  Rating: 7/10 

Vacancy 2: The First Cut – I expected more of the same with this sequel and was shocked how effective and unpredictable this was. First off, the score is awesome, and is really unsettling. Second, the story does everything it can to keep things unpredictable, realistic, and unlike part one. Third, Scott G. Anderson is one scary dude. Fourth, the acting and production values are great. But maybe I won’t watch this again-. Rating: 7/10

Mirrors – This isn’t as good as Alexandre Aja’s other horror films, but I thoroughly enjoyed the ride it takes. It’s nice to see a horror film use a big-budget effectively. And while the story seems like a hodge-podge of various horror movies, the ideas still come across as fresh, clever, and chilling. Rating: 6/10

Tokyo Gore Police – If you’ve seen The Machine Girl, this Japanese movie raises the ante with its own outrageous circus of latex and gore. The monstrosities in this are so absurd that it’s hard not to see this as a comedy of horrors. Rating: 6/10

Gutterballs – I totally can’t recommend this 80’s like slasher as it is way too inappropriate and wrong. I swear the filmmakers watched Irreversible and decided they wanted more. Does that help you?

Repo! The Genetic Opera – I hated this gothic-industrial musical set in the future, not because of the story (which was actually pretty creative), but for the music. It was like two hours of nails on a chalkboard. Paris Hilton was actually very disturbing in this one, and not because of her singing. Let’s just say she saved face… Rating: 2/10

Gigglesnort Hotel

January 15, 2009

I’m not crazy!!! I’ve asked and told dozens of people about this creepy kid’s puppet show centered around a hotel that moved, and had episodes of ‘alien encounters’. There’s this malformed figure of clay(see Basketcase, anyone?) that has this evil, grunt laugh (video below), and other house of horrors stuff. I must have had nightmares for years about this damn freaky show. Apparently I wasn’t alone either. A guy here calls it satanic and Gigglesnort Hell. Two videos are below to see if you too have been mind-smudged by this show. I’ve solved one of my perplexing mysteries, whew….

No, It’s Not Really Happening…

January 8, 2009

The Best Films of 2008

December 31, 2008

To qualify these have to be released theatrically this year or on DVD for smaller market films. It’s not right to put up a film like Waltz for Bashir when hardly anyone had a chance to see it. I’ll list Martyrs and Ex-Drummer when their time comes and people have had a chance  to see them.  (And yes, the first half of Wall-e was my favorite animated film of the year.)

The Rape of EuropaThe Power of SongMy WinnipegHeavy Metal in BaghdadBigger, Stronger, Faster

Documentaries

1. The Rape of Europa

The relationship of art and war just about blew me away. The ultimate battle.

2. Pete Seeger – The Power of Song

Yeah, this sounded as boring to me as it does to you. Turns out Seeger’s life is a phenomenal American story.

3. My Winnipeg

This is a documentary! Dramatized in Guy Maddin’s surreal style, but it’s still a doc. And bloody brilliant at that.

4. Heavy Metal in Baghdad

Playing Metallica in the pit of hell in the face of certain death. That’s raw.

5. Bigger, Stronger, Faster

Steroids are safer than cigarettes?

[Honorable mentions: Man on Wire, Gonzo: The Life and Times of Hunter S. Thompson, and Young @ Heart]

The Baby's Room / To LetNightmare DetectiveThe Last WinterRogueFrontiers

Horror

1. A Xmas Tale / The Baby’s Room

From the 6 Films to Keep You Awake series, these were also the most surprising. Keep an eye out for Spain! 

2. Nightmare Detective

J-horror gets a breath of fresh air.

3. The Last Winter

An ode to The Shining that accomplishes what The Happening set out to do.

4. Rogue

Tasty human.

5. Frontier(s)

Tasty human.

And now…

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1. The Lost

The one Jack Ketchum movie you don’t want to miss. Well, unless you have a weak stomach.

2. Funny Games

Yeah, you can hate me now. And no, it’s not because Naomi Watts is in her knickers most of the movie. Masterful.

3. Let the Right One In

Go ahead. Sink your fangs deep into my arteries. I succumb.

4. Pineapple Express

Perhaps the only film here I teared up at.

5. The Fall

Wait, I think one tear dropped at the end of this. In slow motion. A carnival of red-faced clowns gasp…

6. Timecrimes

Time-travel hasn’t been this fun since Michael J. Fox.

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7. Reprise

Norway! You’re on the film map! I look forward to more.

8. In Bruges

Great acting, script, and… city. More pulp!

9. The Band’s Visit

Sweet and romantic in the middle of nowhere.

10. Shotgun Stories

White on white crime in the middle of nowhere.

Best Fan Video of 2008: Wiley – Wearing my Rolex

December 16, 2008

And one of the cheekiest. Brilliant. Best albums of 2008 are next.

Best Comedies of 2008

December 4, 2008

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It was a great year for big studio comedies and I’m sure there are some others I missed like Bill Maher’s Religulous and Hamlet 2. Man I want to see all of these again except for the ONE that shall go unnamed. So what ch’all think? Am I right?

1. Pineapple Express – James Franco saves his career with his unlikely hilarious performance. But he can’t top Danny McBride’s ‘thug-life’ show-stopper that is the best supporting funnyman of the year. Action. Gore. Is there anything else other than Tom Cruise they could have added to this movie?

2. Role Models – It’s still going strong at theaters due to word-of-mouth. Paul Rudd gets his big role. And Jane Lynch gives the funniest performance by a woman of the year.

3. Forgetting Sarah Marshall – Russell Brand and Bill Hader steal the show here. Oh, and Dracula and the puppet opera.

4. Step Brothers – What’s more brilliant than the idea of this movie and then casting it with Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly? Most of this works like magic.

5. Tropic Thunder – Jack Black steals the show and is worth watching for his performance alone. Anybody else think Cruise was kinda scary?

6. The Happening – LOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLLLLLLLLLLLL

Back from Mexico; Recombinants Forthwith

November 26, 2008

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Just got back from Mexico dazed and gorged with sun, and happened to catch this band in their David Lynch-moment.  Finally caught up on some reading and came across a passage in William Gibson’s Pattern Recognition about remixing and how ten versions can be wrong, but the eleventh one right. I can’t find it now, but instead have a cool essay/editorial Gibson wrote for Wired about the remix culture. So here are (to use Gibson’s words) two recombinants. Let’s see if you can match the track with the description:

a.) industrial strength, rip-your-face-off electro with rock vocals

b.) fidget, ghetto, squelch-bass on Monster energy drinks

Tracks:

Poxymusic – War Paint (Speaker Junk remix)

Seppuku Paradigm – Sure Thing (Polymorphic Remix)

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Quantum of Solace, Appaloosa, Role Models

November 18, 2008

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Non-stop action, laughs, and machismo. Explosions of fire, f-bombs, and gunpowder. All worth full-price and six thumbs up.

Rating (for all): 8.5/10

Love and Honor Review

November 13, 2008

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This finale in a samurai trilogy that started with The Twilight Samurai and The Hidden Blade cements director Yoji Yamada along with the greats in the history of the genre. His approach lies in the details, and acting doesn’t get much better than in his samurai movies. The almost simple story-line with a emotionally invested and climactic duel works like magic in all three movies. No, this isn’t Kill Bill, but if you want to root for real samurai in realistic situations then catch these movies. Love and honor. Do it.

Rating (for all): 8.5

Saul Williams:’The Threshold of New Times’

November 4, 2008

Saul Williams wrote a powerful passage just for this day. Check the video link here if you want to listen along. (Did I mention how truly glowing Saul Williams is?):

 

Dear History,
For too long have I pondered your meaning, memorized dates of battles, years of servitude, decades of injustice, named eras after movements, mourned the extinction of species, cursed founding fathers, worn vintage suits and cloaked myself with references of your hold on me.

I have walked through museums wondering how it is that greatness had lived and died all before my time. Parts of me feared becoming great because it seemed to include a price of death and a postmortem glory that my memory could never resurrect. I’ve stared at paintings dying to catch glimpses of the painter, closed my eyes to listen to songs that drunken ghosts dance to, and all the while I’ve fought to FREE the present to BECOME.

In 1995, I stood with poets in the middle of the Brooklyn Bridge, barking metaphors at the new moon of the summer solstice wedging words into it’s craters, sewing seeds through nightly wind.

In 1996, I forced the ocean back with words, fathered planets, climbed pyramids, and began to decipher the sirens song to conjure the dream-filled Children of the Night.

In 1997, I stood with prisoners in our nations capitol bending bars with the power of thought as wordsmiths served sentences and Hip Hop diddy-dandified itself: stealing golden calves from the Old Testament to smuggle into the lavish crib of Pontius Pilate for it’s birthday party

In 1998, I swallowed fear and sun-danced on film reels, projecting a me that had not been into a me that ever shall be.

And HERE I stand, ten years the difference and witness to changing hands.

Dear History,
I beat you. I stand a generator of generations bearing witness to a world that we are holding accountable for past actions. Me and my friends, we’re changing our diets, re-inventing marriage, check-mating capitalism, re-defining ethics, replacing cruelty with compassion, and have sworn not to re-elect the sins of the father.

We are casting our votes for so much more than a lesser of evils, but for change, and greater insight, for wisdom out of the mouths of babes, for races that bleed into ONE.

Dear History,
You are behind us and we are no longer looking back. We are standing on the threshold of new times, new days, new worlds, and charging forward without battle cry or trumpet, while cynicism, apathy, and cowardice take their place beside you, behind us.

Dear History,
We no longer believe in you. We have invested our our thoughts and dreams into the present moment and opportunity to shift our reality into one that does not resemble your dog-eared books.

We stand on the shoulders of those who have dared to dream and on the necks of those who have wasted their time and ours proclaiming a past past its prime.

Dear History,
Blitz! It’s my turn now. You can have your mounds of flesh, leather boots, cannons and sabers, nooses and guillotines, warships and fighter planes, trails of tears and blood, genocides, dungeons and dragons, ghost stories and fairy tales……….

Saul Williams