Sunday, February 28, 2010


On this last day of February I was able to squeeze in two films on the big screen. The first being Kevin Smith's latest studio effort, Cop Out (2010) a.k.a A Couple of Dicks. Despite all the negative criticism, mostly from film critics, I totally dug this flick! There were moments when I seriously laughed out loud. My audience also laughed along. Not sure how it will hold up on a second viewing but I'm there.

Once that was done, I rushed back to Palo Alto to catch the late viewing of Akira Kurosawa's excellent Scandal (1950), featuring the handsome Toshiro Mifune and gorgeous Shirley Yamaguchi. However, the story is less about their "scandal" and more about the downtrodden attorney Hiruta, played with conviction by Kurosawa stalwart Takashi Shimura. Damn fine film and so glad to have seen this as part of the Kurosawa Festival at The Stanford Theatre.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Rape and Murder in the 12th Century

Thanks to Rupert's (@bobfreelander) tweet about the restored Rashomon print getting featured at the Kurosawa Festival at Stanford Theatre, I was able to finally see this amazing film on the big screen. So great to see. Really envious of the Stanford students in attendance seeing Rashomon (1951) for the first time in that environment. Wish I was gonna be around to see all the Kurosawa films like this.

Was pretty tired after getting back to my hotel after the evening spent in Palo Alto, so instead of going out to a late viewing I stayed in and eventually queued up The Headless Ghost (1959). Don't think it's as bad as that IMDB rating would lead you to believe but it's nothing terrific either. But I enjoy even the worst of old black & white film so it was fine. A really cool & scary remake could be done from the basic premise of this flick (i.e. kids visit castle and secretly hide to stay overnight).

Friday, February 26, 2010

Deep In Tokyo

Arrived in San Jose around noon, picked up my first ticket to Cinequest Film Festival by 1pm, was in my seat at Camera 12 for the 9:15 US premiere of Deep in the Valley (2009), written & directed by Atsushi Funahashi. Kind of a docu-drama in telling the story about the 5-story pagoda in Kanaka that burned down and the quest to recover old 8mm film of the tragic event... plays out very slowly and deliberately. Could tell that most of the crowd wasn't very fond of this film but I like it for being very Japanese.

On my flight to Houston via Continental, I was fortunate to have the in-seat entertainment system to keep me entertained. For a mere $6.99 I was able to select from a wide variety of programming and movie channels. But what did I do? I chose my old standby TCM to view Mrs. Miniver (1942). And I'm so glad to have watched this wartime drama and Academy Award winner (seven Oscars!). Definitely worth seeking out.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Klaatu Barada Nikto!

In a mad scramble to pack before leaving at 4:15AM to catch my flight to San Jose, I've decided to watch the original The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951), which I've not seen since I was a child. Long overdue, yes, I know. Full reveal: when I was a child I thought this was an extended Twilight Zone episode. For many years I always referred to this film as one of the best episodes of The Twilight Zone until someone said, "uh, are you referring to The Day the Earth Stood Still?" Yeah, I suppose I was. After this viewing I would consider this possibly one of my top 100 favorite films.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Cross The Border

Wasn't really in the mood to watch Borderland (2007), one of the After Dark Horrorfest films of that year, but since I had to get it back to the library before my trip I bucked up. Fairly competent torture porn flick in the same mold as a Hostel or Turistas set in Mexico with drug dealers and gangs.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Blue Cats on Biggest Screen

Because I just had to...
...I went to see Avatar in IMAX 3D while it was still in IMAX (before Alice in Wonderland knocks it out). Gotta say I wasn't all that impressed compared to the regular 3D presentation. Might be the flimsy glasses but just didn't like it very much. Could've been my proximity to the screen (all images not directly in my line of sight were blurry). I'm one that's actually looking forward to viewing this regular 2D. All that said, I still teared up, cheesiness and all.

Monday, February 22, 2010

K9 Cops Out

Being that Katherine Bigelow is getting a lot of attention for The Hurt Locker, I thought it might be good to catch up on films by her that have alluded me. K-19: The Widowmaker (2002) is one of those. And it's not bad but it's also not all that special either. Both Ford and Neeson put in solid performances but some of the drama and suspense felt a bit wrangled. Based on a true story it comes and goes losing much of the impact of a submarine in peril.

Revisited Code of Silence (1985) after suggested it to another Tallyteer and I could barely remember most of it save for a few memorable scenes (ex. the chase on top of the moving L train - Brown line?). Always love seeing the Chuck and Chicago but needed more Henry Silva.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Spies Like Us

Richard Burton in Spy Who Came in from the Cold (1965) is so damn good. Claire Bloom is also great. Wasn't so much into the intrigue aspect but really enjoyed the characters interacting. And the tone in b&w creates the mood.

Martin Scorsese's Shutter Island (2010) hit all the right notes for me. Helped that I wasn't expecting much going in even tho the storyline is far too predictable. But despite that I was along for the ride and ate it up. Would consider this one of Scorsese's better films in recent years and easily one of the best DiCaprio performances. I was so sleepy during the first hour but totally woke up in the second hour. Really enjoyable.

Man, I completely had the wrong idea about Big Night (1996) going into it. Thought it was going to be something entirely different and unfortunately wanted it to be something different. As it was, Tucci & Scott make a capable film about the struggle of small Italian restaurant and the relationship of the two brothers but I really wanted more focus on the food. Yes, there is the celebration of well-prepared dishes but not enough.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Lo and Behold and Forget

Hollywood Rocks! (2008) isn't a bad take on the '80s Sunset scene but it could've been so much better. And it's nowhere close to Decline of the Western Civilization 2: The Metal Years. But for those like me (fascinated with that time in rock history) it still makes for a interesting watch even if it's a little too much GNR.

Junji Sakamoto's Face (2000) is unquestionably compelling but also challenging as you watch this homely Japanese woman make her way through Japan after committing a terrible crime. Along the way she slowly breaks from her shell but must stay on the run.

Being that the 1975 version of The Land That Time Forgot (2009) is one of my favorite films, it's no surprise that I also enjoyed this modern version despite its many problems. C. Thomas Howell not being one of them (tho he did direct, which is astonishing considering this is yet another Asylum flick). The CG dinosaurs are rendered horribly (really, this many years after Jurassic Park?) and the solution to escape the island is just silly. But I can watch flicks like these all day.

Lo (2009) is the little black comedy horror film that tried. I admire what they did here but went in & out of being interested to just being bored. It's on NWI and worth a look but don't expect much. The practical costume effects & make-up are done well for a lo-budget indie flick (see what I did there?).

Friday, February 19, 2010

War of the Monsters

Beer Wars (2009) made me more depressed than anticipated. Was misty eyed a couple of times. Definite must-see for anyone who appreciates craft beer and struggle of the little guy against the corporate giants. Thank you, Netflix, for making this available via Watch Instantly.

Also thanks to NWI, I stayed up to watch Ed Wood's Bride of the Monster (1955), one of the films featured in the marvelous Ed Wood. Lugosi appears nearly anemic. Still a compelling watch if you know the history behind its making.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

I'd Rather Be With An Animal

Another quick pick from the library, Role Models (2008), turned out to be a pleasant surprise. Shouldn't have been since I like both Paul Rudd & Seann William Scott quite a bit. Better than average comedy and re-watch worthy.

Recent talk of Frankenheimer led me to a complete watch of The Island of Dr. Moreau (1996). Such terrifying film that I never had the stomach to see the whole thing (yes, it's that terrifyingly awful plus I have a special fondness for the '77 version). Well, at least the make-up is good.

Last of the evening was an After Dark Horrorfest flick, Unearthed (2007). Not bad but a little tiresome of ALIEN motif. Very middling at best.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

What Deathly Dreams May Come

The classic Dead of Night (1945), an anthology of short horror stories, is so good it's a mystery as to why this film is still unavailable on DVD. Seriously. Twas the reason I picked it up from TCM.

The ventriloquist segment is naturally the most frightening... as those dummies will scare the shit out of anyone. And, obtw, I finished LOST Season 5! huzzah!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Hell is for Heroes

Another rec (this time from the great guys on Gentlemen's Guide To Midnight Cinema & their podcast discussion) was John Boorman's excellent Hell in the Pacific (1968) ONLY featuring two cinema heavyweights: Toshiro Mifune & Lee Marvin. That there is enough for anyone. And really all that needs to be said. See this film. Period.

(Already I want to see it again)

Monday, February 15, 2010

There Can Be Only One RR

Sydney Pollack's Jeremiah Johnson (1972) makes me long for the days were a common occurrence out of Hollywood. Love the loneliness and brutality of life in wild. Some heartbreaking moments and stoic Robert Redford. Awesome film.

And in other news, another remake of Zatoichi but with a girl filling the famous tabi shoes in Fumihiko Sori's Ichi (2008). Wasn't overly in-like with this but found it watchable. In truth, it's less about the girl and more about a confused Ronin who finds his way. Worth a look.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

The Greater State of Being

Finally watched the film version of Star Wars: The Clone Wars (2008) and expected to dislike it; quite the opposite happened. Damn the critics, I thoroughly enjoyed this different story of the Clone Wars. Cute would be the best way to sum it up.

Ventured out to view The Wolfman (2010) and I didn't hate it either! Shocker! Most critics seem to rail on this remake of the classic. I thought it was stupid, campy fun.

Now onto a Tallyteer rec (from @BTSJunkie) the film by Jackie Kong only known as The Being (1983). Wow. So impossibly bad it's that good. Love when Martin Landau shows up in shitty horror films. Goes w/o saying this one is ideal movie night fodder. And goddamn, look at that poster!

Ran Fastest Gun Alive (1956) off the DVR (thx to TCM). Features Glenn Ford as yet another cowboy badass. Broderick Crawford is also damn good. Much worthiness here.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Can You Read ハサミ男?

Enjoyed the slow burn psycho-thriller of Toshiharu Ikeda's The Man Behind the Scissors (2005). The twists and turns are interesting enough but nailing the real bad guy shouldn't be too difficult. Always love seeing Hiroshi Abe. And somehow Ikeda is able to make Kimiko Aso positively unattractive.

Grabbed The Reader (2008) from the quick picks at the library to finally see what the hub-bub was about... and sure, Winslet deserved the Oscar but the film is rather a snore. Expected a little more punch than lulls.

Friday, February 12, 2010

The Hausu That Rocks The Cradle

Had an impromptu movie night @Ron's home since pAT was in town (he's moving back to Chicago!) so after several rounds of Rock Band, Chinese take-out & movie trailers we fired up some films. First up was one I've been longing to watch as a movie night feature. Orphan (2009) I originally saw late last year right before taking off for a trip to L.A. Loved it so much I knew I had to see again. Ron & pAT hadn't seen it previously so it was a perfect watch (yeah, they dug it too). Still an honorable mention for my best of 2009.

Next was Nobuhiko Obayashi's Hausu (1977), which I've heard so much about and thought it might not live up to the hype. Fortunately it delivered in every area. Look forward to the official release of this film... so damn crazy. Horror, comedy, drama, batshit insanity. If I wasn't leaving for another trip out west I'd be in line for Chicago screening at Siskel Film Center. It's that damn good.

Split movie night sometime after 1AM (~hour drive home). Still a little wound-up I finished Justice League: The New Frontier (2008) on NWI. Gotta say I dig the violence of these DC animated films! This one is solid 'cept for Jeremy Sisto's Batman voiceover.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Cat Snatch

Philip Kaufman's Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978) I haven't seen since probably around the time it was released (likely on HBO a year or so later). Only the most horrific of images stayed with me so it was time to revisit Sutherland, Goldblum & Nimoy. Still excellent as ever. And recognized Robert Duvall as the priest on the swing. Love seeing another 70s film set in San Francisco. Definitely worth your time.

Thanks to another one of @cahcat's recent visits to New Beverly, I picked up Cat Ballou (1965) from the library. Pretty fun western with Jane Fonda in the lead w/Lee Marvin in dual roles as both villian and mostly drunk hero. Also listened to most of the commentary track by Michael Callan & Dwayne Hickman, which was also amusing.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Bite The Hand That Paints

A documentary I've been wanting to see for a while is Amir Bar-Lev's My Kid Could Paint That (2007) and it lives up to what I expected; it presents both sides yet leans a little more on the skepticism of this apparent prodigy child. Ever since I saw the controversy unfold on 60 Minutes, I've wanted to know more about the story. This doc gives it all and the bonus post-film featurette gives even more. Totally worth checking out.

Another little Amicus flick And Now the Screaming Starts! (1973) is okay but doesn't nearly live up to the terrific trailer. Magee & Cushing join the cast of Amicus regulars. Probably a better group-watch.

Oh, have I mentioned that I'm attempting to watch all the Journey to the Center of the Earth films? Tonight I dove into Asylum's 2008 take on this Jules Verne classic Journey to the Center of the Earth. Released to compete w/New Line's Brendan Fraser vehicle of the same year, I almost want to say this one's the worst of the lot. It should be if not for that 1989 aberration. Not worth viewing unless you're a Greg Evigan fan or (gasp!) an Asylum fanboy. At least it does feature hottie Caroline Attwood.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

The Journey Continues

In my quest to view all versions of Jules Verne's classic tale Journey to the Center of the Earth, I was fortunate to discover the Spanish Fabulous Journey to the Center of the Earth A.K.A. Where Time Began (1978) on Netflix Watch Instantly. And I gotta say that compared to some of the more recent iterations of this story I've seen lately, this one ain't all that bad. Plus it has bitchin' cover art. Despite being dubbed (originally in Spanish) it's totally watchable with a bizarre sci-fi interlude that is never really explained. Also Ivonne Sentis is cute as a button (could be Audrey Hepburn's cousin).

Monday, February 08, 2010

The Ball is Back!

Truth is Don Coscarelli's follow-up Phantasm II (1988) didn't need all the flashback sequences taken from the first film. It easily stands on its own as a worthy sequel. The make or break moment is when the 3 balls make their appearance.

From the library, I ventured into maybe one the best Batman animated features Batman - Mystery of the Batwoman (2003). Main storyline was a bit weak but the red herring Batwoman kept this flick going as I continued to guess who this mystery lady might be. Loaded with gorgeous femme fatales, this has the action and sexy back.