Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Gore, Guns and Guitars

Adam Mason's The Devil's Chair is far from perfect as a bloody and brutal hardcore horror flick but its got some style. Maybe too much style in some places. I got the impression Andrew Howard was attempting his best Jason Statham impression (parts of the film was shot in the same manner like you might find in Crank or Snatch, to name a couple). There's a lag in the 2nd arc but the 3rd arc is when it gets crazy and that I liked a lot.

Meatball Machine is Japanese ultra-gore, sci-fi that borrows from Organ and lends to Tokyo Gore Police. Not bad not terrific totally watchable and yet completely silly. I only wished they used more realistic blood in these films.

Johnny Guitar was a Filmspotting recommendation and also only seen on the TCM channel (no DVD release). So I recorded thanks to the tweet reminders and watched when my work day finished. Damn, Joan Crawford plays a real mean bitch. Surprised? I began to wonder if that scowl was permanently affixed to her face. Real entertaining watch and gun play. Always like a man that wield guns and guitars with equal mastery.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Silent Fatality

Mortal Kombat: Annihilation is so ridiculously bad I completely repressed nearly every thought of this poor excuse for a movie. A recent tweet linking to a mashup video on YouTube is what brought me back to this one, sad to say. When I watched the mashup I could recall none of the scenes (or most of the characters)! This despite having seen it in the theater upon release back in '97. So I suffered thru another viewing experience and realized why my mind hid this celluloid dung heap from my memory.

Since I have the wonderful The Harold Lloyd Comedy Collection Vol. 1 in my possession courtesy of the third best library in the state of Illinois, I wanted to give Harold another go. Tonight I chose Girl Shy (1924) which I found to be more impressive than Safety Last! The introvert finally meets the right girl then spends the final arc preventing her from marrying the wrong man. It's in that final arc that all the best stunts take place. One thing to note about silent films: you really have to watch the movie to follow along. Unique for me since I'm always apt to reach for my iPhone or write these blog entries while something is playing. Not always but sometimes.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

They Call Me Bruce?

My Name Is Bruce wasn't nearly as good as I wanted it to be. Campbell as "himself" was fun but that's really the 1-note of the entire film and grows tiresome as the film continues to ride out that note over and over. Not a terrible watch but not usual fun from a standard Campbell flick. Still love The Chin.

Død snø a.k.a. Dead Snow goes down as one of my favorite flicks of 2009. Finally a movie that does Nazi Zombies right. While not perfect it's damn close. There's one scene that made me angry (completely unnecessary kill) but otherwise I loved this movie. Looking forward to owning this someday and including for future movie night glory.

The Taste of Tea will not appeal to everyone's tastes (get it? LOLz) even those who generally appreciate Japanese film. And it's not the easiest film to describe (like trying to describe Survive Style 5+) but I liked the atypical structure and surreal aspects as well as Tadanobu Asano's supporting role, natch. Tatsuya Gashuin again steals every scene he's in with one comedic moment after another. Definitely weird definitely unique. Wish Anna Tsuchiya was given more to do here.

Mutant Chronicles is the kind of B-movie I gravitate towards; decent FX, big characters, big story and completely silly. Hilarious that 700 years into the future looks more like the 20th Century and Middle Ages combined (swords and guns). Give this one a win for putting both Thomas Jane and Sean Pertwee together. Adding Ron Perlman and Malkovich to the mix only solidifies its B-status. Recommended only for those that can appreciate the silliness that comes with these kinds of flicks along with all the overacting.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Doubtless Humor in Silence

Meryl Streep is excellent in Doubt and her alone makes this a very good watch. Helps that Philip Seymour Hoffman and the entire supporting cast also excel. I love when actors are so good you forget who they are (as movie stars) and completely believe the story and characters as they unfold on screen.

When I watch early films like Safety Last! (from the The Harold Lloyd Comedy Collection Vol. 1) I always try to imagine how the audience reacted upon seeing this when it was originally shown. According to the commentary the viewers were quite engaged and laughed at all the slapstick gags. Of course, it's a different perspective now viewing 86 years later. Not surprisingly still an entertaining watch and, most of all, the iconic clock scene at the end.

I wasn't expecting much from I Love You, Man yet I enjoyed this flick immensely and LOL several times. Rudd and Segel were both on their game. I've heard a few reviews that made the film sound satisfactory at best but it's so much better than that. The funniest moments are the most subtle and less intentional. Seeing the flick with in a packed theater also enhanced the humor. On par with Forgetting Sarah Marshall. Probably one to own someday.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Stylishly Sickening Sauna Ciga-Tea

While not perfect Sauna is a sublime viewing experience with an atmosphere that enables the suspense and heightens the horror appeal. The acting and photography are superb even tho the plot sways and resolution comes crashes all too soon. Definitely an intriguing watch.

Rampo jigoku is high on style and medium on substance. Based on 4 short stories by Rampo Edogawa, the 2:15 runtime is lavishly loaded with unforgettable imagery, blood, and deviant behavior mostly commanded by my fave man-crush Tadanobu Asano, who is lots terrific here. All that said the stories a tad disjointed and flat at times. But a solid watch if you're looking for something different with your disgusting.

I consider Weirdsville one of those flicks that sounded good on paper and someone thought it'd make a wacky lo-budget fun little film. I can think of few that fit that bill however this is not one of them. Not that it's bad but it just isn't all that interesting by the time the end comes. A whole lotta meh. Wish Taryn Manning had more to do here than lay in bed most of the film. Jordan Prentice is great here.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Sandmanz: Lemme Caution You

Bloody Beach is a fairly decent K-Horror mystery flick and another variation on 10 Little Indians, i.e. the killer is among us. In this it's a group of Internet friends away on a beach vacation when the killing begins. Not bad but nothing to write home about.

Glad to have finally seen the much heralded animated feature Kung Fu Panda, a film worthy of its accolades. Besides the supreme animation the voice overs were quite good. Despite knowing the "voices" I wasn't taken out of the movie by recognizing the actors. Story was also good fun. Definitely one to own.

Alphaville is an experience not easy to describe. Lemmy Caution is the secret agent out to prevent Alpha 60 from taking over the world in an alternate reality set in the same time period of the 1960s. I suppose that's the easiest way to summarize in one sentence however it's so much more than that. The B&W presentation lends a noir quality in addition to the sleuthing by the protagonist. It's one that probably requires more than one viewing to fully absorb everything. It's also apparent how many sci-fi films have borrowed from this one. Anna Karina as Natacha is just dreamy.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Yahoo Serious

It isn't that Bangkok Dangerous (2008) is a bad film (it is) but that it's just so damn boring that makes it abysmal to watch. Or probably the combination of the two. It's hard to tell anymore whether Nic Cage is sleepwalking thru his roles or just become a bad actor. Here it plays it seriously but it's so hard to take him seriously. I'm disappointed in the Pang Brothers for taking the cash on this lousy remake of a truly awesome film. Now I want to re-watch the original to get the taste out of my mouth.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

"This book is like Empire Strikes Back, in reverse."

I think The Jane Austen Book Club would be a better viewing experience if you're familiar with all of Austen's books. Each book is touched on during the course of this, dare I say, "chick flick", and relate to personal stories of each of the characters. Of course I'm not familiar with all the books and only vaguely familiar with some of the titles yet this was a okay watch despite really not being my thing. The Star Wars analogy was mildly funny. Mostly recommended for Austen fans.

Monday, March 23, 2009

No Movie For You!

Sorry, no movies watched or even hinted at today. Returned from a stay-over in Lake Geneva and spent the day shoe shopping not for me. Late dinner at Sushi Kushi Toyo and quick check on work email. I'm over and out.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Dracula, Werewolf and Mummy, Oh My!

When I originally saw The Monster Squad in the theater back in '87, I'm sure I thought it was a pretty cool flick (even my girlfriend went; it was the only thing playing in the little Illinois town where we were staying en route to Carbondale). Dracula summoning all the classic Universal Monsters in an attempt to takeover the world? Sign me up! However, upon this viewing this cult classic plays more camp than cool. It's a lot like The Goonies but with monsters. Might be ripe for remake but I think that's already on the map.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Tramping in Atlantis

When Sean Penn's Into the Wild was released in 2007, nothing about it gave the desire to see it (despite all the critic fanfare). But having not seen it I grabbed it from the Quick Picks shelf knowing it was something I'd probably have to watch someday. Today was the today and I was deeply moved by the journey of Alexander Supertramp as he crisscrosses North America and encounters a variety of characters along the way (terrific supporting cast of actors). Made me wish I had done the same thing at his age. Shot beautifully it's definitely one worth seeing.

In my efforts to see all the Reg Park Hercules flicks from the 60s, I conquered Hercules and the Captive Women, which easily has the best production values I've seen of all the Herc flicks (3 so far) as Hercules is up against the Queen of Atlantis and her sinister plot to rule the world. This installment, released in 1961 and directed by Vittorio Cottafavi, isn't any better than the others yet the quality transfer and decent FX make it passable. Altho it does play like something you might've watched in your Greek Mythology class.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Watcher in the Forest

The Watcher in the Woods is another Disney "family" flick that couldn't be farther from it. Bette Davis is just creepy and, along with the entire flick, is destined to give kids nightmares. This is one that could use a modern makeover and could be a true haunt-fest.

I won't bother explaining why I sat thru another viewing of Tada, kimi wo aishiteru (Heavenly Forest), sans the subtitles, so soon after seeing it but you may be able to figure it. The film is still an endearing flick and loses nothing from the original watch despite knowing how it will unfold. Still requires a tissue or two.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Pushing Up Danes

Pusher is the first film in Nicolas Winding Refn's Pusher Trilogy. I was recently turned on to this by David Chen of the slashfimcast who has been recently blabbering on and on about this Danish trilogy insisting that all listeners check it out. OK, Dave, you win. Pusher was pretty damn good and it's a conflicting watch since you're sympathizing with a drug dealer, Frank (well played by Kim Bodnia), as he falls in and out and back in trouble throughout. I look forward to the next in the series and whatever bloody resolution awaits Frank.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Hercules Has Seen Better Days

Hercules, Prisoner of Evil (1964), featuring Reg Park again as Herc, makes the previous Hercules in the Haunted World (1961) look like a Academy Award nominee. I blame the difference on the directors, Antonio Margheriti vs. Mario Bava. At least Bava can make most things interesting and even his take isn't all that great but very watchable and somewhat entertaining albeit cheesy. Margheriti's take lacks all that despite what might have a been a capable plot in someone else's hands. Too bad.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Cry Me A River

I wanna say that Uwe Boll's Far Cry (2008) is par for the course in his path of video game adaptation destruction but really this movie is just uninteresting and rather boring. That fact that he's more than content to follow a screenplay that has nothing to do with the game is surely his MO as is the inclusion of pathetic humorous elements in a very intentionally non-humorous storyline is also the hand of Uwe. But nothing here makes this even remotely worth watching. I was so bored half-way thru I started reading a book. The final act is action packed but still left me unmoved and counting the seconds for the credits to roll.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Look Out or Leave It, Capone

I wanted to see The Lookout after hearing that Matthew Goode was excellent in it. And he is. Didn't realize this was a Joseph Gordon-Levitt vehicle but he seems to play the same kind of character in all his roles. Also surprised at some of the other supporting actors (Isla Fisher, Jeff Daniels, et al) but a decent all-around flick.

I forgot how over the top The Untouchables is at certain moments. It has an 80s styling all over it. DeNiro now reminds me of Devito's Penguin in Batman Returns. Billy Drago's fall is quite comical tho. Still a solid film. The recent Public Enemies trailer had me in the mood to revisit this one.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Vampire Assassins Burrowing in Manhattan

30 Days of Night was actually not a bad flick. I held off watching this because of all the reviews panning it but it's not as bad as the reviews would lead you to believe. I need to go back and re-read some of those to see why. It kinda fell off at the end but it's shot rather well and looks good. Makes me want to read the graphic novel. Ultra-violent and gory.

Watched Blood Red Earth via OnDemand. It's the short prequel to the upcoming Burrowers. There isn't much to speak of here but if you plan to see The Burrowers then it doesn't hurt to watch this short. But it's nothing special.

In Bruges is as great as everyone has said it is. Been wanting to watch for a long time and finally got the DVD from the library. This is really the ideal character for Colin Farrell. And I love Brendan Gleeson in every role he takes on. He's pitch perfect here.

Took in Watchmen again, as promised, at the all-digital MUVICO theater in Rosemont. Forgot how cool that place is for watching films. 9 bucks for popcorn and a water is a joke considering the ticket was $7.50 (matinee). Movie was as good as the first time around and my original thoughts weren't changed from all the reviews I've read in-between viewings. It just sparkles in digital.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

All Spartans Go To Heaven

Heavenly Forest is another Japanese young romance flick that is sweet as it is sad. I started watching this on my last trip to Japan expecting to finish it on the return flight but it wasn't available! Finally I was able to see the entire film and it's really wonderful. Aoi Miyazaki plays the geeky, weird girl perfectly (complete departure from her role as the other Nana in Nana). Recommended if you love J-Drama.

Wanted to revisit Zack Snyder's 300 before taking in Watchmen again. Still a fun OTT watch and all those hilarious one-liners made me LOL lots (which I didn't do when I originally saw in theater). "Give them nothing! But take from them everything!" Love it.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Gay Commitment to the Chosen One

Was in no rush to see Babylon A.D. but it was sitting on the quick picks shelf at the library so I grabbed it to cross it off the list. It's amazing how Vin Diesel can play the same character in most of his movies. This wasn't as terrible as I expected (and my expectations were severely low) but surely nothing great or all that interesting here. The end set up a sequel that will never happen. It reminded me JVCD's Cyborg (but that flick was better).

The Israeli film Japan Japan plays out more like an experimental film. I could without the hardcore homoerotica but I suppose it was necessary. Also the crazy edits were somewhat frustrating but I think there's a good story to be told in there but just not in the format it was presented.

Thanks to SpoutBlog for tipping me to Glen Hansard's role in The Commitments. I was unaware so it made for a more than pleasant re-watch of a film I hardly remember from my college days. My g/f at the time would play the OST like all the time that I came to resent the thought of this film and naturally repressed it. Glad to see it now; it's terrific.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Bowling for Vermin

Gutterballs is a recent production made to look like a an old-school slasher. And for the most part it succeeds; all the early 80s touches are nearly spot on. The exceptions would be when the movie goes too far and OTT. Some of the violence is particularly brutal (disturbing group rape scene) and the characters are mostly too stereotypical and overdone. I had problems with those aspects which lessened my enjoyment of what could have been quite fun.

Once I heard Splinter was nominated for a Saturn Award my interest increased. It was worth tracking down a promo screener but I really look forward to the DVD drop next month and possible movie night entry. Great modern horror thriller.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Stop Motion Gay Zombies

If you enjoy stopmo than you must see Harvie Krumpet and be sure to watch all the extra short films. Dark yet sincere and terribly entertaining. Most would enjoy this and the commentary is also good. I hope Adam Elliot continues to make stopmo films.

One spin on the zombie genre I hadn't considered was a homosexual spin but now we have it with Otto; Or, Up With Dead People, a mostly tongue in cheek gay zombie adventure that possesses some cuteness if you don't mind the gratuitous gay romps throughout. Definitely not for everyone or even zombie enthusiasts. The story itself I didn't think was all that and even if roles were reversed (lesbian zombie) it still would not make this better (maybe better to watch, har!).

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Where's Fluffy & Frankenstein? NYC of course.

Silent Film Prometheus Triumphant: A Fugue in the Key of Flesh is replete in the style of Nosferatu set in a similar time period. It's another spin on the Frankenstein origin (or in this case, the Bride) and shot extremely well in B&W and sepia tones. Story isn't original and it was hard to get past the iconic Buckethead mask but overall very watchable. The Q&A on the DVD is also good (I always like to hear how these little independents get made).

Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist is a cute, one night in the city teen romance flick. Wasn't particularly crazy about this one but enjoyed all the supporting characters. Michael Cera is still one note but it's a good note.

Ralph Bakshi's animated Heavy Traffic is misogynistic, racist, sexist, profane... you get the idea. It's another Bakshi drug-induced cartoon layered over live scenes of New York City from the early 70s (and earlier). Although not without flaws, it's effective as Bakshi's imaginary journey growing up in the Big City. Sometimes fun and most of the time just weird.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Death by Skateboard

Gus Van Sant's Paranoid Park is visually and tonally arresting. I was immersed into this world of characters generations younger than I. It felt as though it could've been set during my generation at the same age (80s) or the 90s. With no computers seen and nary a mobile phone, all the focus was the on story and these new faces. Real good watch.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Fuzzy Flying Winnebago

Edgar Wright's Hot Fuzz is so not what I expected going in; correction, half of it was until it barrel rolls into the reveal and becomes an all-out bloody action feast. I hope Wright and Pegg continue to collaborate for many years to come.

Finally got to my rewatch of Escape to Witch Mountain (thanks to Dave3 from Geeks of Doom prompting; he was watching the flick the same afternoon). Barely remembering anything other than the flying Winnebago and my childhood crush on Kim Richards, the flick is cute and silly. Can understand the desire for the forthcoming remake.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Only John Wayne FTW

Nana 2 is such a letdown coming off the awesome Nana both starring Mika Nakashima, who again rocks it here. Unfortunately the casting change of 3 primary characters including the other "Nana" really hurt this misguided sequel, esp. since most of this film deals with that other "Nana". This shojo adaptation could've been so much better. Too bad.

War Wolves is a flick made for TV (Sci-Fi Channel?) that has a clever title and decent premise (Iraq war vets get inflicted w/the werewolf curse and return to America). But sadly those are the only two things good about it. The execution is laughable and overall it's a awful film. Not the good kind of awful. Avoid.

I watched John Ford's The Searchers per Filmspotting's Top 5 abduction film recommendations. Considered one of the top films of all time there's no question as to why; all the performances are great and John Wayne is so much fun to watch in every scene. "You speak good American... for a Comanche."

Hulk Vs. Wolverine is the second animated film in the recent Hulk Vs. animated release. I think it's worse than the Vs. Thor film. With each of these Marvel animated direct-to-DVD releases, I grow more weary of the revisionism of the fine history they established before I stopped reading Marvel Comics. Hulk Vs. is a sad reminder why I stopped reading Marvel.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Who Watches the Gargantuas

Needing something a little less cerebral I opted for War of the Gargantuas so I could return it back to Netflix by Monday. Not the best Kaiju flick by any stretch yet amusing if you enjoy giant, hairy Frankensteins fighting and eating people.

Watchmen on IMAX was amazing altho not necessary (the IMAX part). I'm not of mind to expound on my thoughts about this flick so maybe I'll hit this later. I plan to take it in at Muvico with a digital projector, which should be incredible.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Hades or Bust

Mario Bava's Hercules in the Haunted World was a good choice to cap the night (and my return trip from D.C.); it was rather silly yet fun to watch in my worn condition. Now I wanna see the other Bava Hercules flicks! And Christopher Lee, as the evil king, is always a treat.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Asano the Surgeon

Shinya Tsukamoto's Vital is stirring drama piece borderline on horror but not really horrific as it is disturbing. Not the most compelling viewing but interesting nonetheless if you enjoy the slow pacing as I do. I can watch Tadanobu Asano in anything he does. He probably has only a page of dialog during course of the entire film but his performance is moving.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Documentary on Steroids

Bigger, Stronger, Faster* was compelling and fascinating in every way. All the pro wrestling footage was fun as all hell and the argument pro-steroids in sports was convincing. Don't let the subject matter scare you away; it's entertaining and constructed well (despite a little overly melodramatic during the final arc). Definitely a recommended watch (esp. for phixed).

Monday, March 02, 2009

Good, Bad & Huh?

The Good, the Bad, the Weird is everything the film festival hype of last year as led you to believe. As the title indicates, it's an obvious take on the Leone Dollars trilogy classic but produced in Korea. It's not perfect but such a wonderful ride it's hard not to love this flick. Destined for a future movie night.

Hulk Vs. Thor is one of two new animated Hulk films and it's only saving grace is that Thor is actually as envisioned in the comics and not the stupid, drunk Thor from the Ultimate Avengers animated videos. I was surprised how violent this was and unnecessary the violence was to convey the story.

Guy Ritchie's RocknRolla is a major "huh?" Couldn't really follow exactly what was going down and decided half-way thru I'd be re-watching this someday. Total mixed bag yet interesting characters. Hopefully I'll get it next time.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

The Wolf, Chicken and Goldfish

Peter and the Wolf is a super entertaining animation short that won the oscar in 2007. It's a great little flick with terrific stopmo.

Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead is a Troma cheese-fest I'll never watch again. A clear case of Lloyd Kaufman trying too hard doing too much in one flick. None of the charm from the better Troma flicks is found here. Good to throw on if you're doing something else like paying bills.

Gake no ue no Ponyo is the latest in the Hayao Miyazaki canon. I really enjoyed this anime movie altho I don't think it compares to his previous work. And I didn't quite understand exactly what it was about. Hopefully it'll get a domestic release someday and I can check it out again.