Thursday, September 30, 2010

Fantastic Fest Day Eight (Last Day!)

Last day of the festival and obviously bittersweet. It seems like a dream with all the days blurring together. Can't believe I've been in Austin for a week and seen probably all of 1% of it. As much as I'm sad to see the festival come to an end I am looking forward to getting back to normal life again. But I know I'll miss these days and moments.

Didn't get enough sleep but a little more than usual. Headed up to S.Lamar a little late but easily got boarding passes for the films & event I wanted (fortunately). First film for the day was another Donnie Yen vehicle and another good film to ease into the day, Daniel Lee's 14 Blades (2010). Really dug this flick and was thrilled to see Vicki Zhao again (have crushed on her since Shaolin Soccer and even more in So Close). This is a well crafted period piece with some excellent stunts and sequences. One to watch again on Blu-ray. 7.75/10

Next was a film I would've seen the first day had I arrived sooner, Jeon Woochi : The Taoist Wizard (2009), a S.Korean fantasy film both set in the past and present. Several familiar faces here but overall it was tiresome to me. Didn't help that my lack of sleep was catching up in a big way. Found myself wanting to doze off numerous times. Still don't think the movie is all that great as it's more silly and never really offers a true sense of urgency for the payoff. Watchable and my last film of Fantastic Fest. 6/10

Now it was time for a trip to the Frozen Banana Stand! Thanks to Josh (@VHSintheTruth) for tossing that idea out there. A bunch of us took the short stroll down to the stand and thanks to someone who came along, we had coupons! It cost like a buck for an awesome frozen banana!

Based on the tremendous buzz from yesterday's first showing for Nevermore... An Evening with Edgar Allan Poe, this turned into a must-see event. Soooooooo glad I was able to get into this. Written by Stuart Gordon, this is a live performance with Jeffrey Combs in the role of Edgar Allan Poe sharing some of his writing including a reading of The Raven. This might possibly be the greatest single thing I've experienced in the way of films & events at Fantastic Fest. Words really can't describe how magical it was to watch Combs embody and become Poe. Funny and tragic and extremely entertaining. I hope they can stage this show in more cities so people can experience this. I skipped Miike's 13 Assassins for this and have no regrets!

The Closing Night Party finished the night (for some). It was held at a ghost town outside of Austin and they bused us over. Free tequila and beer and food (an entire cow over fire). Drank more than I should have but everyone was feeling good and having a great time just winding down. Finally was able to meet a few more people and just relax and hang out. They had a live performance of Arc Attack with giant Tesla coils, which was nuts. 100 Best Kills on repeat on a big screen. Elijah Wood engaged in a roman candle war with Nacho Vigalondo. Did I mention the free booze?

Damon (@zombiefreak) gave me a ride back to the hotel around 2am. I packed everything up not looking forward to the early rise to catch my flight back to Chicago. 32 Films watched, 1 TV series, 1 shorts program, 4 events. Done!

Previous: Fantastic Fest Day Seven

For a current list of availability for all films shown at Fantastic Fest, please check out @DeadbeatAtDawn's Fantastic Fest List!
  • September New: 77
  • September Re-watch: 0
  • September Total: 77
  • 2010 TOTAL: 584
(Amazing that I did not re-watch a single film in September! That's a first.)

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Fantastic Fest Day Seven

Turns out today was another day circled on my calendar (translation: another day I'd have to be up early and in line for boarding passes). Fortunately the weather this week has taken a sweet turn for the better with much cooler temps making the 30 minute walk uphill to S.Lamar more pleasant than usual. The early arrival was worth it as I got all the films I wanted!

First screening today was Andrew Lau's Legend of the Fist: The Return of Chen Zhen (2010) featuring Donnie Yen. I'm fairly certain that Donnie Yen is featured in more movies at this year's Fantastic Fest more than any other actor. Anthony Wong and Shu Qi play major roles and both are pretty good altho I didn't buy Qi's character arc. This is another solid period piece that's heavier on the drama than action but a nice film to ease into the day. 6.8/10

Next up was the Serbian film Mladen Djordjevic's The Life and Death of a Porno Gang (2009). Having not seen A Serbian Film yet I wasn't sure what to expect with this one. It's actually a pretty good flick about a travelling sex cabaret that ultimately gets caught up in making snuff films on the side to earn money. Really wasn't sure where this movie would go so it made for a compelling watch. 6.6/10

Interesting that for both of those first two screenings I sat next Omar Orn Hauksson, one of the writers for Unholy Night, a Finnish Christmas horror short (it screened just before Rare Exports yesterday). Decent little film but definitely needs a full feature treatment.

For my 6pm slot I watched the much raved about Carancho (2010). This Argentine film directed by Pablo Trapero turned out to be my biggest disappointment of the day. I'm sure it was my expectations of thinking it would be something else along with the hype (the moderator even said it was his favorite of the festival). It's a competent film but I found it generally boring and uninspired. In summary, it's about fake insurance claims to get easy cash that spins into a thriller as the main protagonist (played by the very capable Ricardo Darín) goes against those running the racket. Martina Gusman is quite attractive to watch onscreen but otherwise this didn't work for me. 5.8/10

Now it was time for the film that I've been anticipating the more than possibly any other film at this festival: The Last Circus (2010) a.k.a. The Sad Trumpet Ballad. Directed by Álex de la Iglesia this film had a lot of buzz from those that saw it at the press screening (Jacob Hall was raving about it) and it surpassed my expectations. In a nutshell it's a Spanish film that takes begins in 1937 Spain during the Spanish Civil War then kicks up to the 1960s as it centers around a circus and its performers. The main focus is a love triangle between two clowns and a beautiful rope performer. It's not a movie that's easy to describe as there are many layers including the symbolism from the Franco dictatorship as well as throwbacks to classic Universal Monster movies. All I can say is that it should be watched. It's an extraordinary film. Both Iglesia and the stunning Carolina Bang were there for the intro and Q&A afterwards (I thanked Iglesia for making such an incredible film). The cinematography is simply gorgeous that I can't want to have a blu-ray and watch again. 8.5/10

Routinely exhausted by the last slot I was glad that it was Takeshi Koike's big screen color explosion Redline (2010). This is an anime feature about futuristic racers as they compete in the biggest race for all the glory. Heard a lot of great things about this going in but I gotta say that it wasn't that impressive to me. Maybe because I've seen a lot of anime I didn't think this was anything new or revolutionary. Plus I was tired as all hell. Maybe I'll watch it again under better conditions. 6.4/10

That concludes my 2nd to last day... I walked back to the hotel tonight. 31 Films watched, 1 shorts program, 2 events. Only 1 day left!

Next: Fantastic Fest Day Eight - Last Day!
Previous: Fantastic Fest Day Six
  • September New: 75
  • September Re-watch: 0
  • September Total: 75
  • 2010 TOTAL: 582

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Fantastic Fest Day Six

Tuesday was one of those days of the fest that was circled before the fest even started. This was primarily due to one of the films featured today and today only during the festival. Knowing this I headed over to S.Lamar very early in hopes of getting boarding passes for the films I wanted. As it turned out I scored them all!

First up was the Finnish "holiday" film Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale (2010). This had a lot of buzz after its first screening and was already on my calendar for this slot so I was worried I may not get into it but I did and it was so worth it! Based on some short films it's essential a dark comedy / horror film about the not-so-sweet legend of Santa Claus and his "discovery" in Finland. I don't want to give away too much because it's a film I want everyone to see. It is my #5 overall film from FF. 8/10

Second film of the day was the collaboration effort Mutant Girls Squad (2010). This was directed by Noboru Iguchi (The Machine Girl), Yoshihiro Nishimura (Tokyo Gore Police) and Tak Sakaguchi (Samurai Zombie). Not sure why it took all three J-splatter horror directors to make this because it's relatively simple and exactly what you'd expect from any of them on their own. And if you're familiar with any of those titles then you already have an idea of what kind of movie this is. And for that I enjoyed it and its levity. 6.5/10

Next up was the film featured only today and the one I thought I wouldn't get a boarding pass for... I was wrong! I was lucky to score one of few remaining passes that morning for Sion Sono's Cold Fish (2010). Having still not seen his Love Exposure, which I understand to be brilliant, I would probably place Cold Fish at the top of those I have seen. It carries many similar themes from his other work centered around a dysfunctional family unit. It's best to go into this one blind and let it engulf you. It's insanely good and my #6 overall film of the fest. 8/10

My fourth film today was actually meant to be Ip Man 2 but since Micah was heading home, he was kind enough to transfer his Secret Screening #3 boarding pass to me! Super swell of him. Unfortunately the screening didn't turn out as I would have liked. When we entered the theater Real3D glasses were waiting for us. Since Steve-O was seen roaming the Highball my thought was that we were getting Jackass 3D (opening in a couple of weeks). Since I'm not a big fan of Jackass was deflated at this realization. Steve-O did come in and provided a introduction to a clip of the film that included lighting his head on fire. After the clip he did a little Q&A that was actually pretty damn funny. And that was it! No film! I thought the joke was going to be that we were going to get the complete film but no! Instead, Tim League introduced actual Secret Screening film as Yoshihiro Nishimura's just completed, world premiere of Hell Driver (2010)!!

Admittedly I was amped when I heard this because the clips I had seen looked great (in only the way Nishimura's flicks can look great - check out that cool poster art). Unfortunately after 30 minutes into the flick my excitement had devolved to disappointment. This was not going to be a good film. Yet it continued. And continued. And became a real matter of attrition. Who would stick it out to the eventual end? Capone from AICN was sitting next me and kept waiting for him to leave but he hung in there. I kept thinking how much better Ip Man 2 would have been. By the end after a 2 hour runtime I turned out to see that most of the audience had cleared out. Not a good experience and I had a headache from sitting so close to the screen w/a bad viewing angle. Being exhausted didn't help. I think there is a better film in there if 30 minutes are trimmed but at 2 hours, no, I cannot recommend nor want to see again. boo! 4.5/10

I didn't select a film for my final slot. I elected to attend the 100 Best Kills Party because it sounded fun based on previous years. It was hosted by Zach & Lars and it was a riot. Just what I needed to finish my night. Also great to enjoy it with Damon (@zombiefreak) my new BFFF. Props to Micah for his Gayracula clip! Damon gave me a ride back to the hotel where I quickly succumbed to slumber.

26 Films watched, 1 shorts program, 2 events. 2 days left!

Next: Fantastic Fest Day Seven
View my Fantastic Fest Day Five coverage.
  • September New: 70
  • September Re-watch: 0
  • September Total: 70
  • 2010 TOTAL: 577

Monday, September 27, 2010

Fantastic Fest Day Five

My hotel mates are flying out today but Adam was kind enough to give me a ride over to S.Lamar around 9am. Not super early but don't have a big day planned. After getting my tickets I walked back to the hotel to chill for a bit. Was pretty cool getting a ride back from Zombie Girl, director of Pathogen, Emily Hagins' mom! Decided to go with the Drawn and Quartered: Animated Shorts in my first slot rather than a film due to it's 1:05 start time. Enjoyed the selection of shorts but it was Don Hertzfeldt's Wisdom Teeth that clearly stood out.

Quickly left the shorts screening to jump into the massive stand-by line for Yoshihiro Nakamura's Golden Slumber. The buzz from its first screening had everyone wanting to get into its second screening. When it came time to let in stand-by they said "only 3" would be allowed! The long line dispersed rather dejected but then another attendant came out and said she'd take 4 more if they were willing sit in folding chairs in the back of the theater. Hell yes! I was the 4th & last person admitted and it was so damn worth it. Truly wonderful film in so many ways. Hopefully someday I'll be able to view this with my girlfriend.

Next on my schedule was Jiri Barta's In the Attic: Who Has a Birthday Today?, a Czech Republic stopmo film featuring characters created from found objects. This is a very good little family adventure film with so much inventiveness. Unfortunately it was so soothing that it was hard to stay awake. Need to watch this one again. The Q&A with Barta moderated by Karrie League was also quite nice as we got to see one of the characters in person.

For the 9PM slot, Brian Kelley (@BTSJunkie) displayed his awesomeness once again and gave up his ticket for Bunraku so I could make this screening (since Rubber was sold out and my ticket was for the Awards Ceremony, which I didn't want to attend). Was thrilled to get this screening having heard mixed reactions from the previous night. Hard to describe Guy Moshe's genre-blend of futuristic, stylistic east meets west action piece but I know I enjoyed it. Interesting to see Gackt in a feature film. Definitely one I will revisit.

Finally capped the evening with the can't-miss event of the Fantastic Feud sponsored by Fearnet and hosted by Scott Weinberg. Man, if Weinberg was ever in his element it's at the Feud. The Feud is essentially a "Family Feud" style competition pitting America against the World (team of six on each side) answering mostly horror trivia questions, many of which are quite challenging! I won't go into all the antics here but suffice it to say that you need to be at the Feud to experience the Feud. Kudos to the team who made it happen. Such a entertaining event! Time for bed.

22 Films watched, 1 shorts program, 1 event. 3 days left!

Next: Fantastic Fest Day Six
Previous: Fantastic Fest Day Four
  • September New: 66
  • September Re-watch: 0
  • September Total: 66
  • 2010 TOTAL: 573

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Fantastic Fest Day Four

Today was an early rise day thanks to my hotel mates heading over at 8am to get in line for boarding passes. Glad to have met Adam, Brad & Brian and it's a shame they leave Austin tomorrow. Not a bad day for getting the screenings I wanted. Started my day with Beat Takeshi's Outrage (2010), which is a return to form for him based on his recent output. It's a rather simple yakuza double-cross that escalates. Serious yet very much a black comedy w/plenty of great kills. High on my list of FF films.

My next slot I wanted the retro screening of Kim Ki-young's The Housemaid (1960) a.k.a. Hanyo. This restored print was quite awesome and truly showcases that great South Korean cinema isn't a current phenomenon. It's a simple tale of how one woman entering the lives of a family can cause so much pain and grief. The print isn't perfect which is unfortunate but hopefully it finds a good distributor. Definitely belongs to a Criterion or Kino Lorber home. Hoping I can catch the remake but unlikely according to my schedule.

Wasn't planning on going to Adam Green's Hatchet 2 (2010) premiere but with all the buzz swarming the festival (including an extra screen added) I jumped for it. Plus I figure it'll be easier to just watch this unrated film here then attempt to catch it at 1 of the only 2 theaters in Chicago screening it next weekend. Overall the film is as expected and I think I may like it better than the first Hatchet. Altho that could've been the atmosphere (both Danielle Harris & Kane Hodder were sitting in my screening). Fun kills and in-jokes. Great Q&A afterwards w/Green & the cast moderated by Scott Weinberg. Met Mr. Hodder. Win.

Originally had considered skipping my next slot to go out to dinner with my hotel mates but they decided to stick around. So I went to my scheduled screening of the S.Korean Bedevilled (2010) and I'm soooooooo glad I did. This Fantastic Fest discovery is my favorite film of the fest! First time director Jang Cheol-Su was on hand to introduce the film then provide a heartfelt Q&A afterwards. He was surprised that the audience cheered and laughed during the film, which he took to mean they didn't like it. Quite the contrary, as it was explained to him! The audience LOVED the film. The first two thirds of the film are slow but the final third act is amazing and cathartic. Another film I look forward seeing again. Actress Seo Yeong-Hie is brilliant in this. One of my favorite singular moments of the festival came after this screening when I was able to discuss the film at length with Harry Knowles who shared many of the same feelings.

In my final midnight movie slot I caught up with Gallants (2010), which received good buzz from its first screening at FF. This Hong Kong action comedy is a whimsical throwback film that reminds me of Stephen Chow's work. Very enjoyable flick that managed to entertain and keep me awake! That's really all I could ask for after this long, great day. Festival 50% completed. 19 films seen (counting that TV series as a film).

Next: Fantastic Fest Day Five

Previous: Fantastic Fest Day Three
  • September New: 63
  • September Re-watch: 0
  • September Total: 63
  • 2010 TOTAL: 570

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Fantastic Fest Day Three

Because of the weekend & Saturday, had to get up early and over to S. Lamar to get in line if there was any chance of getting some top selections. Only managed to get a couple but my alternates were pretty good... mostly. Wanted Naan Kadavul as my first choice but sold out. This however resulted in getting the par excellence Sound of Noise (2010) including the short film that inspired it. It flattens a bit towards the end but overall fucking brilliant. I hope all my film friends see this Swedish film by Ola Simonsson & Johannes Stjärne Nilsson.

For my second slot on Saturday I went with Szabolcs Hajdu's film Bibliothèque Pascal (2010), which reads like a Fantastic Fest flick but would play better to the arthouse crowd. Challenging watch about a Romanian mother retelling her story of how she ended up at a child welfare office to regain her daughter who dreams visually. Also includes the final sequence where the mother is a literature sex slave in London. Weird, right? Not a terrible film by any stretch but didn't get a Fantastic Fest vibe from it (a few people walked out).

After a few positive comments recommending Simon Rumley's Austin-based thriller Red, White & Blue (2010) that became by 3rd slot selection. Overall I dug this flick and the brooding intensity. Didn't care for any of the characters or motivations but it is compelling. I would also recommend but some of the Austin landmark placements get a little out of hand.

My 9PM slot I wanted Marvin Kren's German zombie romp Rammbock (2010) but probably should've chosen Kidnapped instead. Not that Rammbock is bad because it isn't, esp. for a zombie siege flick but I prefer a little more zombies in my zombie films. It has a short runtime and any longer it would be tedious.

My midnight feature was an audible standby wait for Jim Mickle's latest Stake Land (2010). This was clearly the better choice and is a quite solid road film with vampires and other antagonists. It features the capable Nick Damici, who also wrote the screenplay, and Danielle Harris. Both along with Mickle did the Q&A afterwards hosted by the biggest lunkhead at the festival. Definitely enjoyed this film even tho it feels more like a really good TV pilot for what could be a great series on AMC a la The Walking Dead. This screening also featured the worst moderater of FF. Besides admitting he "didn't do my homework" during the Q&A, he asked Danielle if she's done any horror films before this. Think about that for a moment.

Was so tired after that I can't recall how I got back to the hotel.
14 films seen!

Next: Fantastic Fest Day Four

Previous: Fantastic Fest Day Two
  • September New: 58
  • September Re-watch: 0
  • September Total: 58
  • 2010 TOTAL: 565

Friday, September 24, 2010

Fantastic Fest Day Two

Running on only an hour of sleep (no lie) from the previous 2 days I decided to actually catch up on sleep and walked over to S. Lamar late in the morning. Friday wasn't going to be a big day of super-desirable screenings so I was confident I'd get some decent choices. Turns out I made the right decision as I got nearly everything I wanted.

Started the day with a backup selection of Mamoru Hosoda's anime feature Summer Wars (2009). Wasn't expecting much but what a wonderful, heartwarming animation. Basically War Games for the internet/social networking age woven around a delightful Japanese family drama. Love this flick!

Dante Lam's Fire of Conscience (2010) was my primary choice for the next slot and it was open. Sadly I was disappointed with this Hong Kong crime film. Has some decent set pieces including an finale that has to be seen to be believed but underwhelming plot.

Couldn't pick up any of the films in my 3rd slot so I accepted the premiere of the web series Zombie Roadkill (2010) showcasing all 6 episodes... for a grand total of 30 minutes. Upside is that it's darn funny and put together quite well by director David Green & his team. We were also treated to a Q&A with Green, writer Henry Gayden, and Thomas Haden Church conducted by Spyder from Fearnet. Church's dry wit made it worthwhile.

Afterwards I picked up ride from new friend Gilbert down to the Paramount Theater for the Corman double feature & award presentation. I met & shook hands with ROGER CORMAN! Possibly the greatest singular moment of my Fantastic Fest experience. The first feature was Mark Hartley's Machete Maidens Unleashed! (2010) documentary on Filipino exploitation films. Really enjoyed this and now I want to see all the flicks featured in this doc.

Following that was the Q&A with Roger & Julie Corman by Tim League. Then Elvis Mitchell came onstage to present Corman with the SyFy lifetime achievement sword. Really nice moment. Then came the big screen debut of Sharktopus (2010). Unfortunately this was a letdown and nowhere near as fun as prior monster shark flicks. Tough to endure but at least it had a few funny sequences and dialogue. Micah provided the needed lift back the hotel thankfully. 9 films seen so far!

Next: Fantastic Fest Day Three

Previous: Fantastic Fest Day One
  • September New: 53
  • September Re-watch: 0
  • September Total: 53
  • 2010 TOTAL: 560

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Fantastic Fest Day One

Fantastic Fest started today and altho I didn't get all the films I wanted, I still managed to see some decent flicks. First film of my Fantastic Fest was Lee Jung-beom's The Man From Nowhere a.k.a. This Man (2010). Bourne meets Taken in S. Korea. Pretty good but overly long and pulls a punch in the end. Very watchable. Great kid actor!

2nd film of my first day was sadly Ong Bak 3 (2010)... not because I wanted to see this but because there wasn't a better alternate choice outside of Let Me In at the Paramount, which I wasn't interested in seeing. I sat in amazement wondering how we got to this from the brilliant Ong Bak. If Tony Jaa un-retires hopefully he will never attempt to direct again.

3rd film of my first day was High Lane a.k.a. Vertige (2009), a French thriller directed by Abel Ferry and takes place in the Croatian mountains. This was recommended by Peter S. Hall and I'm glad I choose it over Redline. Doesn't bring anything new to the table but it's riveting beginning to end.

Final film of the day was Shinya Tsukamoto's 3rd Tetsuo installment Tetsuo: The Bullet Man (2009). If you've seen either of previous two Tetsuo films then you already have an idea of what to expect here. A lot more of the same craziness. Have a problem with the stilted English dialog but intriguing watch. Afterwards got a ride back to the hotel from Josh (@VHSistheTruth). Crashing hard.

Next: Fantastic Fest Day Two
  • September New: 48
  • September Re-watch: 0
  • September Total: 48
  • 2010 TOTAL: 555

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Candy Hunger

Wanting a little more Candy and lighthearted fare, I went with Armed and Dangerous (1986) on NWI. I have seen a lot of this flick, which also features Eugene Levy, Robert Loggia, Meg Ryan, Brion James, and Don Stroud among many others. However, I really didn't remember most of it as it's not the most memorable of comedies but still enjoyable. 6/10

Catching up with more Romero, Hungry Wives (1972) a.k.a. Season of the Witch was next on my Netflix list. Love the look and tone of the film but generally didn't really get into it as I would have liked. Probably cuz I gotta get up damn early to catch a flight to Austin tomorrow in the AM and that's on my mind. Sigh. Not a bad film though. 6/10
  • September New: 44
  • September Re-watch: 0
  • September Total: 44
  • 2010 TOTAL: 551
(factoid: I watched 44 films TOTAL in January 2009)

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Cookie Crumbs

Lacking comedy in my movie tallying I decided to queue up Who's Harry Crumb? (1989) featuring the terrific John Candy via NWI. Pretty fun watch having never really watched all of it before now. Like Annie Potts & her see-thru négligée! Jeffrey Jones and Tim Thomerson are great. 6.25/10

Another horror flick that I've always been meaning to watch: Lady in White (1988) directed by Frank LaLoggia. Pretty cool Halloween flick if a little strange in parts. Hard to get a feel for this as it seems light at times but then deadly serious with a surprising turn. 6.5/10
  • September New: 42
  • September Re-watch: 0
  • September Total: 42
  • 2010 TOTAL: 549

Monday, September 20, 2010

Subjectively Not Good

Picked up The Objective (2008) from my library quick picks shelf because it read like an interesting ghost/monster movie set in Afghanistan during the recent occupation. It's mostly a convoluted Bermuda Triangle story with really no payoff. Not terrible but hardly worth the watch. 5.75/10

On NWI I finished Tarzan and the Green Goddess (1938) and even with the grain intact I was hoping for an overall better film. Definitely not one of the better Tarzan flicks. 5/10

And lastly from NWI I sat through Charles Kaufman's Mother's Day (1980) since I anticipate seeing the remake at Fantastic Fest in 3 days. Kinda silly and occasionally gruesome but overall not the best of sleaze horror films. 6/10
  • September New: 40
  • September Re-watch: 0
  • September Total: 40
  • 2010 TOTAL: 547
(20 days in and still haven't re-watched any films!)

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Dysfunctional Dead

Definitely the boon in new NWI has been great... just wish I had more time to view all the treasures that can be found via streaming. Case in point, Sugar Hill (1974), a blaxploitation zombie flick! So much excellence to enjoy with this one and wonderfully fun zombie effects. The bugged out eyes are so good! Would make for a fun movie night watch with the guys. 7.1/10

Big thanks to Edmund Yeo (@greatswifty) for allowing me to preview his amazing short film Kingyo (2009) on Vimeo. Normally I wouldn't tally a short film but at 25 minutes and utterly brilliant and poignant, it deserves to be tallied. Love it so much I watched it twice and queued it back a few times to get the Lost in Translation silent spoken moment ("好きだよ"). Really wish this short was screened in the United States. I think people will love it as much as me. Also Luchino Fujisaki is perfect (and also was featured in a film called Hellevator! See yesterday's post). Can't say enough how much this moved me. Thanks again, GreatSwifty! 8.8/10

From the library I picked up Cemetery Junction (2010), written & directed by Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant. Gotta say I wasn't all that into this family drama and it wasn't all what I expected. Maybe that was my problem with it. I may have missed the nuances and will have to revisit someday. 6.8/10
  • September New: 37
  • September Re-watch: 0
  • September Total: 37
  • 2010 TOTAL: 544

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Devil Rides a Gun

Wasn't sure whether or not I'd trek out to catch M. Night Shyamalan's.. er, John Erick Dowdle's Devil (2010) in the theater but the early buzz was decent enough. And yep, it's a good film. Shyamalan is credited w/writing it and it's out of his new production house but fortunately the Dowdle handled the directing duties. It's a tight Twilight Zone-esque little feature that works just as it should. Wish it had been called Devilator (it takes place entirely within the confines of a elevator) but hey that's why I'm not in the biz. 7/10

A cool flick I caught on TCM was Gun Crazy a.k.a. Deadly Is the Female (1950). This is Bonnie & Clyde before Bonnie & Clyde. Interesting how this film is partly anti-gun propaganda and yet full on crime spree. Really solid & compelling & frightening. 7.5/10

Then from NWI I spun Timerider: The Adventure of Lyle Swann (1982) featuring Fred Ward as a motocross dude that gets warped 100 years into the past. Always cool to see Ed Lauter but overall not a great flick. Has its charms but not much. 6.4/10
  • September New: 34
  • September Re-watch: 0
  • September Total: 34
  • 2010 TOTAL: 541

Friday, September 17, 2010

Eating Popcorn is a Euphemism

Thanks to NWI I was able to see a film I've wanted to watch for a long time: Popcorn (1991)! Firstly, I love films that are set in movie theaters so that's a win (and here it's a revival theater so even better). That this is a horror movie with a good killer is only a bonus. Always enjoy seeing Ray Walston. 6.75/10

And speaking of cannibal films (see yesterday's post), I decided to check out Joe D'Amato's Emanuelle and the Last Cannibals (1977) featuring the sexy Laura Gemser as Emanuelle, a role she did often. Gotta say this flick is hella more provocative and titillating mostly due to the females cast and more sexual portrayal of the cannibals. Lot better than Devil Hunter, which isn't saying much but that's something. 5.8/10
  • September New: 31
  • September Re-watch: 0
  • September Total: 31
  • 2010 TOTAL: 538

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Mandingo Machete Ninja

Tonight I reached for another title from my SJC VHS Haul with Nine Deaths of the Ninja (1985) featuring Sho Kosugi! This one I vaguely remember from back in the day when me & my friend Keith would rent ninja movies. So cheesy and yet so much fun. Filmed in the Philippines (no surprise there) I almost feel this had some influence on Ong-Bak the way the villains are portrayed. This film exemplifies the type of bad I enjoy in my bad films. 6.9/10

When out for a late night screening at Showplace 14 of Machete (2010) since it might not get extended into the weekend. For a modern take on grindhouse exploitation flicks, it ain't all that bad albeit too long. Definitely needs 15 minutes or so cut. Love seeing all actors who signed up including Steven Seagal as a villain (first time, I believe). Trejo is fun. 7/10

My twilight viewing turned out to be Jess Franco's Mandingo Manhunter a.k.a. Devil Hunter (1980). Not a very good cannibal flick that teeters between disgusting and boring. Never been a fan of cannibal flicks from this time period so several of them I haven't seen. This is another example as to why I'm not a fan. 4.5/10
  • September New: 29
  • September Re-watch: 0
  • September Total: 29
  • 2010 TOTAL: 536

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Cool Hand of Hell

Wednesday again and another Horror Movie Night! BK's pick for this evening was Ate de Jong's Highway to Hell (1991)! If you're not familiar with this little early 90s gem, you don't know what you're missing! Man, what a fun ride, pun intended. Not only does this star Chad Lowe and Kristy Swanson, Ben & Jerry Stiller along with Lita Ford in supporting roles! To top that off it also has the most awesome VW Beetle chase ever committed to celluloid. Fun! 6.8/10

Closed my night with blindspot / list of shame film in Cool Hand Luke (1967). Another film I've only seen in bits & pieces but never in its entirety. Holy damn this is a fantastic movie. I hate myself for not watching this sooner. And here it's not just Newman that's great but the entire cast. Too many excellent character actors to count. Some uncredited like Joe Don Baker! Can see owning the Blu-ray someday. Lots to revisit. 8.5/10
  • September New: 26
  • September Re-watch: 0
  • September Total: 26
  • 2010 TOTAL: 533
ZOMG! Only 7 days until Fantastic Fest!!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Die for the Indians

Long on my list of shame, Michael Mann's The Last of the Mohicans (1992) was due for a viewing. Would love to see the Blu-ray treatment of this film. 7/10

Off the NWI, I endured Robert Scott's The Video Dead (1987), still not available on DVD (one of the reasons I wanted to watch). Not a good film but some very good practical effects. I enjoyed the terrible acting and overall cheesiness. 6.5/10
  • September New: 24
  • September Re-watch: 0
  • September Total: 24
  • 2010 TOTAL: 531

Monday, September 13, 2010

Land of Killers

Dived into my recent VHS haul to watch Land of Doom (1986) directed by Peter Maris. I actually shocked that I didn't see this one back in the 80s because its post-apocalyptic storyline a la Road Warrior is right up my alley, esp. back then. Not a great film but still a fun watch. 6/10

From NWI, been meaning to watch Man Bites Dog (1992) for quite some time. This wasn't at all the film I expected it to be. Not sure what I expected but this mockumentary about a serial killer in France is a very good, black comedy. 7.8/10
  • September New: 22
  • September Re-watch: 0
  • September Total: 22
  • 2010 TOTAL: 529

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Death, Lies & Deadbodies

Always thought I had seen Steven Soderbergh's Sex, Lies, and Videotape (1989) but apparently I have not. Got it from my library to correct this. Unfortunately I don't think this film carries that same weight it did over 20 years ago when it was declared the impetus for the independent film movement. Still a good film but hardly great. 6.5/10

Was thrilled that TCM aired William Castle's ultra-creepy Shanks (1974). Kinda like a auto accident you can't help but keep looking. Marcel Marceau is brilliant. Dolls & mannequins already freak me out; this film takes it to the next level. 7.25/10
  • September New: 20
  • September Re-watch: 0
  • September Total: 20
  • 2010 TOTAL: 527

Saturday, September 11, 2010

The Quiet Assassin

From Netflix received Allen Baron's Blast of Silence (1961). This is a great crime thriller with excellent b&w contrasts that somehow enhance the violence. The city scenes are sublime. Really terrific Criterion that I hope to revisit again. 7.7/10

Went out to catch George Clooney in The American (2010). Such a wonderful film. Really dig this flick and its quiet approach to the solitary nature of being an assassin. Love Clooney in this and that he's surrounded by beautiful women. Violante Placido is stunning. 7.5/10

Continuing my run of great films today I capped the day with Donnie Yen in Ip Man (2008), a film I've been wanting to see for a long time. Definitely lives up to the hype albeit taking a few liberties with the origin story. Really incredible fight choreography by Sammo Hung. Beautifully shot. Possible movie night candidate. 8/10
  • September New: 18
  • September Re-watch: 0
  • September Total: 18
  • 2010 TOTAL: 525

Friday, September 10, 2010

Resident Evil: Gone Baby

After a long day at the office I stopped by Showplace 14 on the home to catch Paul W.S. Anderson's latest in the RE franchise, Resident Evil: Afterlife (2010). Sadly this doesn't live up to the fun in the previous 3 films. I think PWSA needs to turn the reigns over to some new blood. Didn't bother with the 3-D version, natch, but Milla Jovovich didn't look all that great as she usually does. This flick only had me wanting to re-watch the other installments. Boo! 5.75/10

Anticipating Ben Affleck's upcoming The Town I wanted to check his Gone Baby Gone (2007). Damn fine film! Sadly the DVD I got from my library was scratched to all hell so I couldn't watch the end. Hafta get it from Netflix. Boo x2! 8/10

Also from my library I picked up Black Angel (1946), a good film noir about a wife trying save her husband in wrongfully accused of murder with the help of the victim's ex-husband. I actually watched this twice but only tallying once, natch. 7/10
  • September New: 15
  • September Re-watch: 0
  • September Total: 15
  • 2010 TOTAL: 522

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Mystery of the Moss

Was fortunate to catch a recent S.Korean film playing over at Showplace 12, Kang Woo-Suk's Moss (2010) a.k.a. Iggi. This is probably the best mystery thriller about real estate extortion that I've seen! Obviously I'm being facetious. This is a really good film with some amazing performances that starts in the early 70s then jumps forward to present time as the mystery develops after the death of a compound leader results in his son becoming suspicious of the remaining inhabitants. Not the easiest film to explain since it does involve events that occurred in the past but definitely worth checking out. I was very impressed. Here's the short synopsis from

"The story of the few people who live in a village, and a man who comes to the village for his father's funeral. He tries to figure out the mystery of his father's death, but the villagers watch his every move."

My only problem is the casting of the gorgeous Yoo Seon, who is way too young for the role she's playing. Otherwise, this is a very good film. But hella long as to be expected from S.Korean cinema.
  • September New: 12
  • September Re-watch: 0
  • September Total: 12
  • 2010 TOTAL: 519

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Not So Super Horror

Another Wednesday means another Horror Movie Night. Tonight's selection is the Fred Olen Ray directed Scalps (1983). If you know me you know that I typically enjoy the trash cinema produced by FOR and his ilk but this film really isn't all that good. It has a story with potential but kinda just plods along until the final payoff. Expected more. 4.5/10

Followed that with a much better film via NWI in Gary Sherman's Raw Meat (1972) featuring the venerable Donald Pleasence investigating a series of abductions in a sewer. Some really nice horrific moments. 7/10

Finally closed the evening with the awful Superbeast (1972) via NWI. Despite being quite terrible (story involves a mad scientist experimenting in the jungle and half-man/half-beast on the loose a la Dr. Moreau) I was intrigued by its awfulness. 4.5/10
  • September New: 11
  • September Re-watch: 0
  • September Total: 11
  • 2010 TOTAL: 518

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Space Shark Rally

During my flight back to Chicago I watched a couple of films I readied for my macbook. The first flick was Bruno Mattei's spectacularly awful Cruel Jaws (1995). But this is one where bad is mostly good. The acting, the dialogue, the shot framing, all of it is just laughably horrendous. Sadly it really peters out in the third act otherwise this would be another classic.

The second film was Robert Dyke's Moontrap (1989) featuring Bruce Campbell and Walter Koenig (Chekov!) fighting some alien robots. Not a good film but damn fun film. My favorite line by The Chin, "We don't take no shit from a machine!" If nothing else, both of these made my long flight home much more endurable.

After arriving home I decided to unwind with Charles Bail's The Gumball Rally (1976). I sorta like these road trip rally flicks and got a bonus with Gary Busey in this one. Not great but damn watchable.
  • September New: 8
  • September Re-watch: 0
  • September Total: 8
  • 2010 TOTAL: 515*
* just noticed that my total number is off 4 films compared to my tally. Now current.