Friday, June 29, 2007

Theremin: An Electronic Odyssey (1994, Steven M. Martin)

"A documentary about the inventor of the first electronic synthesiser instrument and his subsequent life after he was abducted by the KGB as well as a history of his instrument"

I never would have guessed that the scientist who created the theremin was a little bit out of his mind. I also never would have guessed he lived such a crazy life.

Leon Theremin is the subject for this documentary and he really does make for an interesting subject. He became famous for his electronic instrument, the theremin of course, but he also had all these odd ideas. Things such as an instrument that would revive the dead, or invisible electronic bridges that would transport cars. Very interesting stuff for sure.

Whats even more interesting is the life he lived around these crazy ideas, such as being abducted by secret agents and then being forced to work for the KGB. Very interesting stuff here as well.

You know whats not interesting though? The documentary itself. The documentary gives us hints at this wild man but thats all we get, hints. We get more shots of people playing the theremin or scenes from movies where the instrument is used than actual depth to the man who created the instrument and his life.

I was pretty disappointed by it all. Based on the descriptions of the mans life I expected something else. I don't know what, but I defiantly wasn't expecting Brian Wilson rambling on about nonsense and then playing the theremin.

- **

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Thunderbolt and Lightfoot (1974. Michael Cimino)

"With the help of an irreverent young sidekick, a bank robber gets his old gang back together to organize a daring new heist."

I have long been wanting to check this film out. It peaked my interest when I read about in Easy Riders and Raging Bulls and only interested me more when I read that the film was considered too odd for its time. An odd caper film with Clint Eastwood and Jeff Bridges? I'm there. Well, it took me awhile to finally get around to watching it and I was surprised at what I saw. It literally is an odd caper film with Clint Eastwood and Jeff Bridges!

While reading on some topics in the IMDB board I read a comment that said that this film seems to be a precursor to the type of films the Coen Brothers would make later on. This comment fits this film pretty well. The film is odd, a little bit surreal, and seems to have scenes that you would read in a book instead of seeing in a film. The whole film just has this odd slightly altered universe to it but just like in any Coen Brothers film, it all makes sense and fits the characters perfectly. Plus in the end of this film, as in the end of most Coen Brothers movies, we sorta miss the odd world we lived in for two hours.

Fully realized characters, car chases, eccentric comedy, a robbery, and Clint Eastwood. This is truly an incredible and underseen film.

- ****

Windy City Heat (2003, Bobcat Goldthwait)

"A man caught up in the glamor of being a Hollywood celebrity has no idea that the production he's in is a fake."

On the paper slip that this dvd came in the description started off with "This made-for-cable movie may well stand the test of time as one of the most elaborate practical jokes ever televised -- or, at the very least, one of the cruelest." After viewing the film it really deserves to go down as the most elaborate and cruel prank for sure.

The "film" deals with a delusional arrogant comedian/actor/band producer named Perry. He thinks hes a genius and is without a doubt one of the best actors ever. For the past 10 years his "manager" and "best friend" (both just comedians in character) have been messing with him and creating a fake world around him. A fake world where even a Russian Pimp from time to time terrorizes Perry. This whole fake world reaches its peek when they decide to create a huge prank around him and film as it as a movie for Comedy Central. Keep in mind that this is all 100 percent true.

The main prank of the film deals with Perry finally being hired to star in his own cop film where he will play a "Sports P.I." named Stone Fury. They make Perry believe that he beat out every other actor for this role and that it will make him a star. They also tell him that Susan B Anthony, Hiroshima Nagasaki, and Roman Polanski are investors in the film. Perry, who is in his own odd world, fails to catch any of this at all.

From the point where Perry gets the role to the credit sequence, it is non stop comedy gold. Every gag works perfectly and every interview that Perry gives to the camera is also rich with hilarious lines. The film is just hilarious and really deserves more of an audience. One of the funniest things I have seen in a long time.

- ***1/2

Overnight (2003, Tony Montana & Mark Brian Smith)

"A documentary on the rise and stumble of Troy Duffy, the bartender-cum-filmmaker who was swept up by Miramax's Harvey Weinstein to turn his script for The Boondock Saints into a feature film. "

The plot summary up above this sentence sums up the film perfectly. We get a behind the scenes story of one of the greatest falls from stardom that is painful to watch but doesnt make you feel bad at all for the "victim" since he deserved everything that happened to him.

Troy Duffy is a dick and we find out how much of a dick he can actually be in an hour and 20 minutes. It's good to at least watch it once in order to find out that a person so dillusional can actually exist, but thats about it. Nothing too special but nothing bad at all.

This is basically it. Yup, this is my full write up.

- **1/2

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

What was up with 80's ???

First the Freddy Krugar music video with the Fat Boys and now this ?

I like the sequels but this is just wrong and mostly odd.

Psycho III (1986, Anthony Perkins)

"Norman is still running the Bates Motel. Things are going fine until Norman falls in love with a fallen nun, takes in a greedy drifter, and a nosy reporter sticks her nose where it doesn't belong. Soon after a series of murders begins once again. "

Psycho II is in my opinion one of the best sequels ever. It was respectful to the source material and understood how to control the audiences expectations and keep them on the edge of their seats. It was a perfect mix of popcorn entertainment while being somewhat artistic and not lowering the bar to just shocks and scares. It was just great in every way to me. However, Psycho III is nothing like its previous sequel.

The film picks up one month after the events of the second film and we are once again reintroduced to the tormented world of Norman Bates. Anthony Perkins is also once again able to play the character straight and not make it a self parody. It seems that by now Perkins understands the character in every single way and because of this he is a lot of fun to watch in every situation in the film. Jeff Fahey who plays one of the "villains" to the film is also great fun and is nice to see him interact with Bates as he is hired to take care of the Bates Motel.

Everything is going fine for Bates until an ex nun stays in the Motel for a night. She happens to look exactly like Marion Crane, you know the woman in the shower from the first film, and this sets off Norman Bates off once again. There is also a nosey reporter that is brought into the mix along with a weekend party that a local college is throwing at the Motel where of course dead bodies start to appear.

Psycho III sounds like a great idea on paper and it actually is, it's the execution of it all that is weak. Maybe it's because Perkins himself directed the film or maybe its because the studio wanted a different kind of film but in the end the film feels slightly off. There are odd scenes of black humour during death scenes and this time out the killer is treated more like a type of "slasher" killer. Plus when the film starts out with a nun trying to commit suicide but instead kills another nun by accident you know you are not watching a movie like the first two films.

The way the story is handled is fun though. We get to see Norman Bates go out on dates and fall in love, and if you are a fan of the first you cant help but smile in these scenes. The scenes dealing with Norman are still top notch and the climax of the movie is still pretty fun although its not as shocking as the previous two films.

Psycho III is far from the bad film most film buffs think it is. It just isn't as great as the previous two installments and you cant help but feel disappointed because of it. I still wish people would give these sequels a chance though, you will be surprised by them guaranteed.

- ***

Friday, June 22, 2007

Breach (2007, Billy Ray)

"Based on the true story, FBI upstart Eric O'Neill enters into a power game with his boss, Robert Hanssen, an agent who was ultimately convicted of selling secrets to the Soviet Union."

I honestly believe that you can never go wrong with a "cat and mouse" type of thriller when its done just right. Breach is a perfect example of this.

The plot is a little bit hard to explain without ruining some minor surprises in the film. It's basically about the young agent trying to outsmart the expert agent while trying to discover if he's guilty of selling secrets to the Russians or not. You then have a strong performance by Ryan Phillipe and an even stronger performance by Chris Cooper to support this "based on a true story" film. It also doesn't hurt that the direction is subtle but also solid as well as everything else in the film. It's really just an all around solid and heavily entertaining film.

The only bad thing I can say about the whole film is a very cliched subplot that is used. The subplot I am talking about is the "young agents wife thinks her husband has changed too much because of his job" one. You know, the one we have seen over and over again. Now, I wouldn't really mind this that much but given that this has "based on a true story" written all over it this cliched subplot just makes everything feel phony when it comes to the scenes dealing with it.

Still though that's only a minor complaint and although it hurts the film a little bit it doesn't hurt it all too much. You still have a very solid piece of "mainstream cinema" to fall back on that never stops being interesting or entertaining. Plus, like I already said, you have Chris Cooper being excellent in every single minute hes on screen.

I didn't expect too much from Breach but I was nicely surprised. This is definitely one of the better films from the year so far and it's worth a watch for sure. I just hope people don't forget about it too soon.

- ***1/2

Switchblade Sisters (1975, Jack Hill)

" The "Dagger Debs" are a gang of snarling girls, and Maggie is their newest member."

One look at this poster and you know the film better deliver and in this case it does and does it way better than I was expecting it to. This movie is going to be a tough one to make people believe its great and given my extremely high rating it will make it even harder. But trust me if you were to see this movie and you are open minded to films like this one you will love it just as much as I did.

Switchblade Sisters comes from Jack Hill who is slowly starting to turn into one of my favorite directors. The thing that makes me love the guys direction and also the few films I have seen by him is one main thing...these movies should be bad but they are not at all! He handles everything perfectly in that he doesn't try to make it amazing but also doesn't make it bad. Its a well balanced mix between "camp" and "artistic" filmmaking that ultimately creates little odd works of cinema at its most funnest. Jack Hill knew how to work within a genre and make it all work and this is a prime example of that. For example Hill points out that Coffy is his take on Richard III and Switchblade Sisters is his take on Othello. It doesn't get much better than that!

You have rival gangs, cat fights, underage women in prison, lesbian prison guards, plot twists, and a roller rink showdown! This film has it all and I once again have to stress this point: the film is actually excellent! It sounds like it might be trashy and it might be "cheesy" (a word I am starting to hate) or pure camp but it really all does add up to one of the funnest and most enjoyable films I have ever seen.

It's a wild ride for 90 minutes that feels like it only lasted 15 minutes and I mean this in a good way. If your a fan of the genre go watch it and then belong to the group of people who love and adore this film. It deserves all the love it gets and then some.

- ****

Murphy's Law (1986, J. Lee Thompson)

"Jack Murphy is a cop who is running to stay alive long enough to even the score with his wife's killer"

Charles Bronson plays a no nonsense cop in this cliched 80's action fest. He throws groceries at cars, he doesn't play by the rules, he drinks too much, he swears too much, he spouts off one liners as much as he can, and he even makes girls who are 20 years younger than him somehow fall in love with him. Yup, typical 80s film right here.

I don't even know what to write about this film. It has every cliche in the book meanwhile telling one of the most cliched stories ever. Bronson is what saves the movie and is as always interesting to watch as he runs around and shoots people at close range. This is the only thing the film has going for it but it's still not enough to make the fun that much fun.

What else? Nothing much really, it was just a fun little way to kill off an hour and a half. I will watch anything with Charles Bronson in it, as will most film fans I think , and at least I can check this off of my long list of Bronson movies to watch.

- *

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Lord of the Rings is the 50th greatest american film of all time?! You gotta be shitting me.

I would be more pissed at that decision but I'm not at all. My favorite film of all time, City Lights, shot up to 11th place and I couldnt be happier. Nice job on that one AFI

La Haine (1995, Mathieu Kassovitz)

"Three friends who live in the french riot filled ghetto spend a day killing time and thinking of things to do after finding a gun that was lost by a policeman the night before in a riot."

I really love Criterion for releasing this hidden gem because if it wasn't for them I don't think I would have ever heard of this film.

The film has already been called the french answer to Do The Right Thing and that's an easy way to put the film and it saves a lot of time explaining its greatness. I believe La Haine always gets the comparison to Do The Right Thing because both films are striking political commentary films while not really addressing anything specific at all. Just general themes such as racism, culture mash ups, and hate. Even the title of the film translates to "Hate" but just as in Do The Right Thing the film decides to hold back punches and focus more on natural characters before assaulting you in the final minutes. I think this is the sole purpose why the comparisons come so often between the films. However there is much more to La Haine than just a well executed "political film"

One of the many reasons why the film stands apart and is just amazing to watch is its gorgeous black and white photography. Not only does the film have that beautiful Raging Bull black and white to it but the direction is jaw dropping amazing as well. The film contains a confident style behind every image that never seems flashy and never seems like the director just trying to wow you with his camera movements and placements. It just all feels natural and you never really notice the style of everything you are watching until the scene in half way in. If you are the type of film buff that loves long tracking shots, amazing camera movements, or just beautiful framing then this film will have you smiling through out the whole time.

Once again La Haine is also much more than a subtle political film with gorgeous cinematography. It's also just a damn good well acted character study. The three lead actors give genuine natural performances that makes the whole film seem improvised which in turn makes the film all seem natural. When you add this natural sense of acting to the cinematic photography it makes the cinematography seem normal and distracts from its flashiness. This might sound like a bad idea but it works for the film and only helps to improve the direction of the film. I guess you can say that it makes the style of it all seem believable in the world and makes it easier to any viewer to just lose themselves in the film.

After watching the film I was quick to check up on other films the director has done since and I was shocked at what I found. The amazing director behind this film went on to do Gothika ?!?!?! Seriously, what??? After seeing this film you wont believe that these two films share the director. I think this is just another proof of how Hollywood can destroy a great director.

Anyways, La Haine is a truly great film. It's nothing short of amazing to watch and it should be mandatory viewing for any casual film buff. It really is much more than just the french answer to Do The Right Thing.

- ****

Infra-Man aka The Super Inframan (1975, Shan Hua)

"Princess Dragon Mom and her mutant army have arisen, and only Inframan can stop them!"

I don't even know what to make of this film. Its absurd, over the top, ridiculous, and tons of fun. I can honestly say I loved every single minute of this camp classic that so desperately needs a strong cult following.

The plot deals with Princess Dragon Mom coming out of the underworld after being there since before the Ice Age. She arrives out of a volcano and is quick to start her plan of world domination by spawning a lot of crazy looking monsters and some computers to put the plan into motion. No one can defeat her and her monsters until a top scientist decides to make an ordinary man into the all powerful Infra-Man (!!) . Infra-Man has powers no normal humans have such as rocket boots, thunderball fists (!!!), laser beam eyes, and the power to become a huge being. With these powers he sets out to defeat all the monsters, destroy Princess Dragon Mom, and save the world! Yeah, this movie is too awesome.

Infra-Man is a copy of Japan's Ultraman but done in the Shaw Brothers type of style. By this I mean that Infra-Man knows a lot of kung fu and fights every monster, who also knows kung fu, in forests and crazy looking sets. This all adds to a great delirious effect of colors, sounds, and sights.

The whole movie plays out like a Power Rangers episode on acid. It really is an odd movie that you have to see to believe. A lot of people will hate the crap out of it but if you are able to lose yourself in the camp and not take everything too seriously you should have a great time. I know I did.

- Ridiculously Awesome

The Mighty Peking Man aka Goliathon (1977, Meng Hua Ho)

"A couple of hunters decide to try and capture a legendary giant ape and bring him to Hong Kong."

I saw this movie about 5 years ago when I decided to rent it just because it was released by Rolling Thunder Pictures and it had a really cool cover. I watched it and hated it. Well, I didn't really hate it but I just didn't find anything worth liking in the movie and even though it was a giant monster movie I thought it was boring.

Now that some years have passed and I have watched more movies I was anticipating seeing this on the big screen and seeing if my feelings towards the movie would change. They did but not by much. I still don't like it all too much and I still fail to belong to the small cult that love it. I did however find it more enjoyable now but still cant applaud it.

Why I still don't like it is because this is a King Kong rip off. This is why I just don't like it. It's literally like a warped scene by scene copy of King Kong. The only difference being that instead of stop motion animation or animatronics we get a man in a suit. We also get a jungle woman who loves the giant ape and spends the whole film half naked. It's not as cool as it sounds.

There is not much more to say. Its fun at times and the final showdown between the ape and Hong Kong is pretty tame compared to other kaiju films. The film does however have a sense of coolness to it all and is fun to watch at least once but I still cant find myself to love it or even like it too much.

- **1/2

We Are Unkinged Kings in this Kingdom!

The past two days have been a blast. I had the luck to have gone to the New Beverly Cinema twice and both days have been great fun.

The first day was a tribute to John Flynn and the double feature featured Defiance and Out for Justice. Both films were a lot of fun and I'm not gonna write anything about them cause my friend over at Sex Drugs and Cinema (under links) stole the words right out of mouth. When they did the introduction for the films they mentioned that both films had that "old school 80s direction" and that comment sums up both films, even though Out for Justice is from the early 90's. It also wasn't until Defiance ended that I really understood the comment about the old school 80's direction. Sure both films are dated and over the top but because of this same reason both films have already transformed into little odd time capsules of their time. People are quick to laugh at them call them cheesy but I once again do not support this comment because it seems that people confuse the words "cheesy" and "outdated" a lot. Anyways...both were a lot of fun.

The second night was a double feature of Kaiju/Men in Rubber Suit movies from the Shaw Brothers in Hong Kong. The double feature contained Mighty Peking Man aka Goliathon/Inframan aka The Super Infrman. This double feature was a blast and I have long been wanting to watch some kaiju on the big screen. Although I would have liked to have seen better examples of the genre both films were a lot of fun with the audience at the New Beverly. The new trailer reel they showed was also fantastic and was edited andmade by the editor of the Spider Man films who happens to be a big fan of the theater. The trailer reel was just great and packed with trailers for other Kaiju films.

The other bad thing I could say is that I had the misfortune of sitting next to the most annoying person I have ever met. A complete spaz who talked to himself and would randomly say phrases to me, including the title of this post.

That is all.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Sad News

South Korea is going to make The Host 2 set for a release in 2009. This time Joon-ho Bong will not be returning.

I think anyone who saw The Host will be pretty bummed out to hear this. I really dont want South Korea to go in the way of Hollywood but this seems to be pointing to that direction.

I don't even know what to make of it all.

Here is the link to the article.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Psycho II (1983, Richard Franklin)

"After twenty-two years of psychiatric care, Norman Bates attempts to return to a life of solitude... but the specters of his crimes -- and his mother -- continue to haunt him."

A lot of film buffs will never even bother with this one. It's a sequel to an already great film and all film buffs are quick to hate it just based on that principle. I know because I have always been like that towards the Psycho sequels. I regret this so much and even hate myself for doing this because this film is a lot better than anyone who hasn't seen it thinks it will be. I'm still in awe of it really.

I rented the film out of pure curiosity to just see what they could possibly do with the character of Norman Bates in a sequel. What they do with the character is surprisingly excellent and makes the whole film work perfectly. The plot deals with Norman Bates returning back to his home after 22 years in the insane asylum and finally being declared sane. Everything is normal until notes from his mother start popping up and so do dead bodies. This is some fun stuff here.

However the film doesn't just go for cheap thrills and sudden shocks. The film instead is told through Norman Bates and his inner struggle of staying sane. Through out the whole movie you are basically asking yourself if Norman Bates is back to his old ways or if there is someone else out there tormenting him. The thing is that Bates is also asking himself this through out the movie. This is also some fun stuff here.

All you gotta do now is add a lot of twits and turns to keep the audience at the edge of their seats and some surprisingly great direction and you got yourself an extremely fun film. This is exactly why I loved Psycho II. It's an extremely entertaining film that decides to play it smart and respect the source material while having fun with the character of Bates as well as the plot. I also applaud the film for being brave and taking on such a project that I'm pretty sure a lot of people didn't want back then and continue to ignore today and then deciding to surprise everyone by making something worthy of peoples time .

As much as I love the first film it might seem as a sacrilegious statement to call this film great but it really is. I wish more film buffs and film lovers would take the risk of checking this one out. Although its no where near close to the original it's still a great sequel to a great film. It's also one of the most underrated films I have ever stumbled on.

Who would've known that Psycho II was this great? I never would have.

- ****

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Hostel Part II (2007, Eli Roth)

"Three American college students studying abroad are lured to a Slovakian hostel, and discover the grim reality behind it."

I liked Cabin Fever a lot and I thought Hostel was a lot of fun. Now Eli Roth tries to take himself seriously and a create a film that will stand the test of time and leave everyone in awe. How do I know this? Eli Roth hasn't shut up about this one being amazing and how it would shock everyone and how the ending would be one of the greatest horror scenes of all time. He isn't right about any of those statements at all.

Hostel 2 is about three girls who once again happen to check into the wrong hostel at the wrong time and etc... This is basically the same as the first film. The movie is also about two businessmen getting into the club and experiencing their first kill, who happen to be two of the three girls. This sounds like a great premise and a real good point for Eli Roth to truly prove himself.

He doesn't and what we get is a bad attempt at trying to achieve depth. All the characters are cliched characters that we have seen over and over again. We get the smart girl, the nerdy timid girl, and the party girl. As for the two businessmen we get an asshole type of guy and a nice guy who, you guessed it, isn't sure if he can go through with it all. Even though these characters are all cliched they are a good starting point for making something at least interesting with them. Roth doesn't at all with the 3 girls and at the end of the movie they are still cliched characters.

As for the two businessmen Roth fails badly at creating something original and great with them. The whole aspect of telling the story through their eyes sound like it would be great but it isn't. When the characters reach their emotional climax it feels odd and out of place instead of shocking and interesting.

As for the end, the gore, and what also fails to deliver. I'm not a gorehound but I know that some people are and after reading Eli Roth's comments about the violence in his film being great I was curious to see what he would do. He doesn't even deliver the gore which was really shocking to me. There are few "gore scenes" and none of them deliver as great as Roth makes them out to be.

Now as for the ending, it doesn't deliver at all. Roth decides to build up characters instead of going for gore scenes every couple of minutes, like in Hostel. The thing is that since he fails at that we are actually looking forward for the climax that Eli Roth builds up through out the whole film. At least the climax should be great, right? There is no way that Roth can mess this up, right? Well he sadly does. When certain twists happen they are not shocking since they could be seen coming for a long time. When certain characters take a sudden turn its more laughable than intense or scary and when the final gore scene comes that Eli Roth has been talking about so much finally plays out it is rather lame and a cheap gag that Roth feels would have left a lot of people squirming and going "owwwwwwww" It instead left me going "that's it?" as did the movie as a whole.

Hostel Part II is a failed attempt of creating something greater than it thinks it is. I'm amazed at the delusional mindset that Roth is in towards this movie. It's nowhere near a great film and it's nowhere near of making any cut of great horror movies, both past and modern ones. Although I had problems with this film I am still curious to see what Roth will do next. I am going to give him the benefit of the doubt and see what he will do with adapting Cell.

As for now Roth fell on his face with this one. At least to me he did but I'm sure there are enough people who will eat this up and name it great and will still continue to praise Eli Roth as the modern king of horror which should be great for him and only help feed his cockiness some more.

- *1/2

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Sicko (2007, Michael Moore)

"A comedy about 45 million people with no health care in the richest country on earth."

As soon I heard that the newest Michael Moore documentary was about the health care system in America I knew that I would be biased towards it. I don't want to sound like I am complaining, or sounding emo, or sounding self important but I am a big victim of this shit system. I wont go into detail because this is not a diary entry or even a livejournal. I will just say that I have experienced this horrible system first hand. When I heard that this would be the topic of this documentary I couldn't wait to see Moore expose the awful truth about it.

Maybe its because so much has been exposed about Moore or maybe its just because his bag of tricks has been uncovered so much since his early days of Roger and Me, but during the length of Sicko you tend to be very skeptical of what you are watching on the screen.

Moore once again knows what buttons to press and begins Sicko by about 45 minutes of horror tales from the medical health care in America. We see and get to know all these Americans who have suffered thanks to the medical system. All these small segments are great but after 20 minutes of the same thing over and over again you kind of get the point that Moore is touching on. America's health care system sucks. We all know that. Moore in an interview said that he didn't want to offend anyones intelligence by going into the documentary explaining the health care system. He however does offend the intelligence of the audience by telling all these stories over and over again and continuing to preach a message that we all already know.

I once again don't have that much a problem with all these segments though. They are at least interesting and will just leave you shaking your head at how incredibly bad our system is. We know our health care how do we make it better Michael Moore? Well, by showing other countries health care systems for an hour and then ending the film of course.

Sure the later hour of the film is interesting and entertaining but it all really doesn't serve a purpose other than to just once again point out how much our system sucks. Maybe its because I have experienced the health care first hand, and continue to, but I was just frustrated with the presentation that Moore gives us. Its not a bad presentation, its just not an important one. Through out the second half of the film I was just begging Moore to show what we as Americans can do to be better but he never does. He doesn't even purpose that many questions. Just the simple "if we are so rich then why cant we treat out own citizens as well as ____" Great question, but that's it? Your not even going to even try to get one person to answer that? Not even try to get someone who actually likes our system and will debate it to no end? Nothing at all?

France has amazing health care! UK has amazing health care! Even Cuba does! America doesnt! This is basically it for the whole film. I hate,hate,hate,hate saying that this documentary is very one sided, but it is. I hate saying this because I love the side where the documentary stands. I support this side and I want this side to win. However we cant win by just complaining and comparing ourselves to other people for 2 hours and expect the other "evil side" to magically change.

Moore gives us a documentary that presents all the facts he wants to show but doesn't give any opposing thoughts on his facts. When the film finishes you feel that you have watched something great but when you really think of what you watched for the last 2 hours you start thinking that you haven't watched anything new or something that you didn't already know.

I wanted Moore to probe for answers. I wanted confrontations. I wanted to see Moore trying to make a change personally. Part of me sort of feels offended that he has done this in all of his previous documentaries and even in his tv show. He even did this for the tv episode that inspired him to make this documentary. Yet he doesn't do it for this. I want answers, not more questions.

Maybe the purpose of the documentary is to allow us to watch the film, become informed, and then ask the tough questions ourselves. The thing is that Moore should know that this has long been happening already every year. He even touches it upon his film that even Hilary Clinton couldn't change things. How will this film change things? It wont, sadly. I would have loved to have seen this film begin to change things but I hardly doubt it will make any changes at all.

Sicko is not a bad film at all. It is highly entertaining and does help to inform. It just a weak execution in my eyes. I just wanted something more challenging than what is ultimatly there. It just all feels tame. When a films final sequences are Michael Moore almost crying because Cuba is so nice, you cant help but feel that you saw something really tame, lame, and weak.

- ***

Deliver Us from Evil (2006, Amy Berg)

Just looking at this poster gives me the chills now. I'm not gonna write too much about this one. Every now and then there is a film that just shakes you to your core and this is one of those films. This is a truly heartbreaking, disturbing, and deeply emotional documentary. It really is one of the best accomplishments in filmmaking of the past year and one of the best films I have seen so far this decade. This documentary is considered to be the 3rd best reviewed film of all time in Rotten Tomato history and there is reason why it has that title.

A lot of people might be turned off by the subject matter at hand but even though this one is a very tough watch it is a mandatory watch for anyone who cares about the power that film can have.

Truly an incredible film that was robbed of an Oscar last year.

- ****

Colour Me Kubrick (2005, Brian W. Cook)

"The true story of a man who posed as director Stanley Kubrick during the production of Kubrick's last film, Eyes Wide Shut, despite knowing very little about his work and looking nothing like him."

I remember when the teaser trailer popped out for this film a long time ago and it was making it's rounds among film geeks with the title of "hey, have you heard of this movie?!" to go along with it Why it had this title to go with it was because a film about a guy posing as Kubrick, as well as the simple but effective teaser, made the film to be out like it would be a great film.

Sadly though the movie never came out. It left it's previous title it once had among film geeks and instead adopted the title of "whatever happened to that movie?" It just never came out and film geeks around the Internet just forgot about it until out of nowhere the movie came out in theaters,DVD, and cable a couple of weeks ago.

I should have never given this the benefit of the doubt. I should have just said to myself that there must have been a reason that the film took so long to come out. Instead I saw it hoping that it would deliver a great story for all film buffs to love due to it's subject matter. instead the film is an insult to all film buffs, at least in my opinion.

Sure the film has a lot of in jokes but it's this same factor which already had me cringing within the first 5 minutes. The film starts out with 2 guys walking the streets of Englad meanwhile the Clockwork Orange music kicks in. "ok, that's fine" I said but it never stops. Every 10 minutes we get another "wink wink" from the director by using different music from different Kubrick films. The only thing is that all these "wink winks" are right in your face and just scream of "hey!! You get it?!?! I'm using Kubrick references!" Not only this but we also get some other film buff in jokes every couple of minutes. This would be fine but since the film barely lasts over 80 minutes all these "homages" only serve to distract than anything else.

Maybe I am being too harsh on it because I found all these references annoying, ok. Now lets talk about the actual film. It's sloppy and it's horrible. Random useless scenes come and go as well as random useless little story points that only serve to tell us "this guy is whacky!" Of course we already know that from the first couple of minutes, having him run around in little subplots doesn't make this character have any more depth or have anything else in the movie have much of a purpose.

When the film finally decides to stick to one storyline, its not a great one. It once again feels rushed and pointless as well. It once again only shows us how whacky this guy is. Ok, maybe I am taking this film too seriously and it's meant to be taken as a comedy, or even a dark comedy. Ok, lets talk about the "comedy" in the film.

When a gay character in the film tells a journalist "Hi, I'm Butch" and the journalist responds with "of course you are" We are supposed to laugh but instead we once again cringe. Every attempt of comedy falls flat on its face. When we meet another gay character as he lip syncs Lionel Richies "Hello" we are supposed to either be laughing hard or being blown away by the wittiness. I really have no clue but lets say if just this one sequence was the only thing bad about an already great would damage the film a lot. Luckily though the movie is already bad enough and this odd sequence doesn't really matter much anymore by the time it begins.

One other annoying thing about the film which I am started to notice is a gimmick that can never be pulled off is a self reference within the film. For example in this one "Kubrick" (John Malkovich) is talking about who he is trying to cast in his next movie. He starts to name names and within all these names he says.....wait for it.... John Malkovich! He then adds on a little bit more about how studios don't think he can carry a movie by himself etc... We should be going "wow that was really smart! haha!" but once again the gag falls flat on it's face along with everything else in the movie.

The only good thing I can say about the movie is that Malkovich is great in it. He is the only thing that saves the film from being a total waste of time. He is over the top and having the time of his life in this one and it is nice to see him having to so much fun. However, we are not. His performance deserved a better film but this is sadly all we get.

The film that should have been a great watch for any film buff ends up being one of the most painful watches. This could have been so much greater and I hate it that this is what we all ended up getting. This had so much potential that was just wasted that it's just incredible.

- *

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Manos: The Hands of Fate (1966, Harold P. Warren)


I have to start out by saying I saw the infamous MST3K version of this movie. I cant say that I am a huge fan of the series but I can say that I am a very big fan. When I first discovered the vhs tapes of the show at my library I was quick to go through all of them really quick. This also sadly meant that I was just left with nothing more to watch of the show. I had no dsl to download the episodes and I had no money to buy the expensive box sets. So I just basically decided to just sit it out and hope I would get dsl one day and be able to download some episodes.

Luckily though I was very happy to discover that almost every episode is up on youtube or google video. Since then I have had the "treat" of watching such things as Pumaman (PUMERMAN!) Space Mutiny, and Santa Clause.

Since I was heavily bored a couple of nights ago I decided to finally watch what a lot of fans consider to be MST3K at its greatest. Others even say that it is hands down the greatest MST3k episode by far. The infamous Manos: The Hands of the Fate episode. The episode that became a running gag on the shows history, along with one of my favorites Mitchell.

So, very simple terms this movie is so beyond horrible that it is one of the funniest movies ever made. It really is drop dead hilarious. Its been awhile since a movie has made me laugh this hard. I decided to write more about MST3K more than the actual movie because there is not much to say about the movie. It's a movie that you have to see to believe and once you do you will understand why it is so infamous among cinephiles.

I also think that you have to watch the MST3K version of it because the actual movie by itself would just be too bad. Also, I don't think the hype surrounding the episode is correct. It's among one of the best episodes but it doesn't take the crown from Pumaman or Merlins Shop of Mystical Wonders as being the best, at least to me.

Movie Grade: ZERO STARS

Camp/So Bad It's Good/MST3K Upgrade: ****

Devil Dog: The Hound of Hell (1978, Curtis Harrington)

"A dog that is a minion of Satan terrorizes a suburban family."

Within the first 10 minutes of this film we are seeing a group of satanists doing something evil with a dog. I have no idea what they actually do or why but it seems that they put a very evil force into the dog. The dog then has 10 puppies and one of those puppies just happens to fall into the hands of a perfect suburban family. You can imagine what happens from here on.

Devil Dog seems to have been a TV movie that aired on Halloween night in 1978. I imagine that in it's time it was responsible for a lot of nightmares and to this day holds a lot of painful memories for a lot of kids. However as of now the movie is just ridiculous. This dog isn't just the evil killing dog, as in Cujo, no. This dog has mind control powers! He controls people to kill themselves, paint pictures of a devil in blood, worship the devil, become sneaky, and win the school election by framing the lead candidate! So basically this dog is a dick. No one notices it except for the dad of the family and he decides that he must stop it through um.....drawing something on his hand in Ecuador.

Yup, this movie is awesome. I hate when people call a lot of these movies horrible or cheesy and mention laughing at them in a MST3K type of way. I really don't think that even a film like Devil Dog deserves this treatment. It's not that bad, its just ridiculous. In my book, bad and ridiculous mean two very different things but it seems it means the same thing to a lot of people. The reason I liked this movie was because it was so ridiculous in fact. The ridiculousness runs so high through out the movie and this just makes the film a lot of fun, at least to me.

Give me a scene where a dog controlls someones mind to put their hand in a lawnmower and I am there enjoying the hell out of myself. Devil Dog is filled with these scenes and it's just a lot of fun. However after saying this, I don't think that Devil Dog is that great. It's a "b movie" but its not a great one or even a good one. The plot goes everywhere and the whole time you are just scratching your head at how inconsistent the film is. It basically just doesn't even make sense really when you even think about it a little bit.

In simple words Devil Dog is a pretty bad horror movie, but it is a fun one.

- **

Monday, June 11, 2007

Lock and Loaded

My latest review has been published on Bazuca Magazine's site which is now under links.

So be sure to check that out.

That is all.

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Wild Guitar (1962, Ray Dennis Steckler)

"Boy comes to California to become a rock star. Boy becomes an overnight success. Boy meets the troubles that come with fame"

This is the joy of just having a lot of time and being extremely bored. I went downstairs to watch some TV because there was nothing to do and the first thing I did was check TCM to see what they were showing, the first thing I do always of course, and there was just a film named "Wild Guitar" that was about to start in a couple of minutes. I didn't know any of the actors or had never heard of the film but decided to at least check out the first couple of minutes just because the title of the film sounded cool and the year it was made in guaranteed the movie to be something interesting at least,

As soon as the movie began in black and white with some funky looking greaser guy riding along on his motorcycle meanwhile his guitar is strapped on the back on the bike and the titles appear over him I knew I was hooked and would watch it to the end.

Wild Guitar is a "B movie" that I am pretty sure played in a lot of Drive-Ins in its day and was made for the sole purpose to entertain teens. I would group it in with films like Beach Party and what not. The films where a bunch of teens just run around, party, and fall in love The only difference with this film is that we get more of a story to go along with the general story of two young folks falling in love. it also doesn't hurt that the film is pretty rock and roll and has a little bit of style to go along with it

The real surprise to me though was when during the middle of the movie I saw the TCM logo appear in the lower corner of the frame but it was instead the TCM Underground logo which immediately made me think "wait....what?" since this is TCM's cult movie block. It turns out that the lead actor in the movie has a strong cult following and having only seen this movie and Eegah, which is one of the worst films I have ever seen, I am now curious to see the rest of his 4 movies.

Wild Guitar is a fun little "B movie" that is very innocent and naive. It's a fun time capsule of the early 60s and you just cant help but smile though it. Plus....its just rock and roll. Just look at these pictures!

- **1/2
This is from Eegah but just look at this guy.

Friday, June 8, 2007

Great News for all Film Buffs!

I was reading a little article in this weeks Entertainment Weekly about the ongoing failure of the reality show On the Lot. The article mentions how the ratings are horrible and even Fox has cut down the number of episodes and are basically just trying to get to the end of the show as soon as possible.

This makes me really happy because I have always had a problem with the idea of the show. I hate every aspect of it and I feel that it destroys cinema more than it helps it. I mean when you have Michael Bay and Brett Ratner as judges what can you expect? Plus just watching 10 minutes of the show is sure to insult any film buffs brain.

Oh well, it doesn't matter now and it seems that On The Lot was a complete and total failure.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Grizzly (1976, William Girdler)

"A fifteen foot tall grizzly bear terrorizes a state park. Christopher George leaps into the carnage to stop it."

This is like the most badass movie ever made. It's all about a killer bear and the rebel park ranger who is out to stop it with the help of the kooky animal expert. It's just excellent.

Some people name it a cheesefest and laugh at it for being "so bad" but this one doesn't deserve that treatment at all in my opinion. Sure, some things are outdated and the ending is gloriously over the top but that really doesn't justify people to laugh at it and ridicule it. I honestly do believe that this film is a great horror film and that it's intense atmosphere still holds up. It's a wild and crazy film and every single second of it is pure entertainment.

I find it so funny that so many people are quick to laugh at this film because its about a killer bear and yet are quick to put Jaws in the top ten list of the greatest films ever made. People tend to forget that Jaws is just a killer shark film. It's well made and well acted but at the end of day its just a killer animal movie. It's just as ridiculous as the rest of them, the only difference is that it's just better made than the rest of them. However, does a well made film automatically make it a better film than an above average made film? In my opinion no. In my opinion it all comes down to how the story is told. Wither it be with a lot of great camera movements or with no camera movements, it's all about telling an interesting and above all an entertaining story. So this is why I honestly really do believe that Grizzly is just as entertaining as Jaws. It might seem cheap at times but the entertainment factor is always set at the highest level and when it comes to a killer animal movie I want to be as entertained as much as possible. It also doesn't hurt that the film isn't badly directed or badly acted at all.

Grizzly is pure fun. It knows that its a "B movie" and it has as much fun as possible and that's why i loved it so much. I will now consider this the "B version of Jaws" and I mean that with a lot of love.

- Ridiculously Awesome

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Ocean's Twelve (2004, Steven Soderbergh)

"Daniel Ocean recruits one more team member so he can pull off three major European heists in this sequel to Ocean's 11"

The plotline right on top of this sentence is pure bullshit. I wish I could write "Danny Ocean decides to pull off another heist" I wish it was that simple but it isn't at all. I cant even put into words what the exact plot of Ocean's 12 actually is. I just know that is has the general outline of "Ocean pulls a heist" but it somehow gets extremely complicated and leaves you scratching your head. It also isn't as bad as people say, it is far worse. This is the definition of a horrible movie.

Sure there are worse movies but given the stars, director, and potential it had to be something simple and fails to an incredible level. How bad is this film? Well, there is a scene where the worlds greatest thief breakdances for 5 minutes while he avoids security lasers in a museum. That's right, 5 minutes of a cat burglar breakdancing through lasers. It really is that bad.

I do admit though that I was at first saying "this is way better than everyone said" I even remember thinking "this is better than the first one by far" but somewhere around the 40 minute mark the whole film starts going downhill and it just keeps going further down and the whole time you are just hoping that it will somehow all work out but it just gets worse with every minute. With about 20 minutes left to the film, when the big heist goes down, I literally didn't care at all about anything that was happening to the film. I actually felt my brain just give up somewhere during the second hour.

What makes it so bad? Everything. Well, the actors are having fun at least. That's about it. In the little thing I wrote about Ocean's 11 I mention that it is a good example of what happens when a talented and sometimes artistic director does a studio film with a big cast. This is the perfect example when that whole situation goes wrong and the director maybe has too much freedom over his studio film. Soderbergh in this film decides to leave all the vibrant colors and editing tricks behind but decides to keep the witty storytelling techniques intact. The thing is that it goes to the extreme level with this. Soderberghs direction is so wild in this film that it really is amazing.

I could go on but fuck it. I don't want to waste more time on it. I will just say that this movie has to have one of the most annoying sequences of all time: When pulling off the heist they run into some trouble and need some help robbing a museum. So, they decide to get Julia Roberts character to dress up and act like....wait for it....Julia Roberts! Julia Roberts character then helps rob this museum because since her character looks so much like Julia Roberts she is easily able to go into anywhere because everyone thinks shes Julia Roberts. This is easily the most retarded piece of shit I have ever seen and you can clearly tell everyone thought this was the most wittiest thing ever written and filmed.

This film is just horrible. I could go on about the worthless and utterly stupid Catherine Zeta Jones subplot but just thinking back on it annoys me or I could go on about the tons of plotholes, but no. This one is just too horrible. It's a pain to sit through and pain to actually think back on.

- *

Ocean's Eleven (2001, Steven Soderbergh)

"Danny Ocean and his ten accomplices plan to rob three Las Vegas casinos simultaneously"

Once again the plot is Danny Ocean wants some revenge from the guy who is dating his ex wife, so he decides to recruit his team of thieves and rob him. The plot line is the only thing that is similar to the original film along with the name of "Danny Ocean" Even with that, the plot isn't really executed the same at all. Hell, the only real similarity is just the name of the lead character.

This all brings the question of "why remake a movie and then not even remake the movie at all?" I seriously have no idea and even Steven Soderbergh states that he wanted to distance himself from the original. Well, he did a good job at doing that. I think the real reason why Soderbergh decided to "remake" the film is not because he wanted to bring the story to a new audience but instead wanted to try to recapture the slick coolness that is clearly visible in the original film. Here comes the rant....

Soderbergh gives us a film that is a bunch of A-List actors playing their own charming selves while executing a simple and entertaining plot. This same formula is what made the original film so cool, seeing all these actors and musicians just playing themselves and interacting with eachother. Soderbergh nails it right here. The dialogue between the actors seems natural and the actors always seem confident and at ease during the whole film thus making the film entertaining for the audience. If only the "hey lets be cool" factor could end right here. Soderbergh however decides that his direction should be super cool, as should everything else, and this is where I have always had a problem with the film. Soderberghs constant use of using tons of editing tricks, vibrant color tints, non stop jazzy score, and witty storytelling techniques is just too much. it all screams of "THIS IS SO COOL AND SLICK!!" and it never really reaches the level of wittiness or coolness that the film is trying so hard to portray. Sure, the finished product is slick and cool but it would be a lot more cooler and slick if the director wasn't shoving his bag of tricks down your throat every single second.

Now this doesnt mean that I hate the film or even dislike the film. I enjoy the film a lot and think its a great studio film and a very entertaining ride. I just think that it's not the excellent and witty film that it so desperately wants to be.

Soderbergh even with all his hits and misses has always been a very interesting director to me and this is a good proof of what happens when you give a talented and sometimes artistic director the freedom to make a studio film with a big cast. He could have made a straight forward caper film but his constant editing tricks and what nots are always interesting even if they don't work all the time. I applaud him for doing this film and now after seeing the other two installments I really do appreciate what he did with this film. I really do appreciate that he was able to execute this film while never letting things get sloppy and never minimizing any actors screentime or presence. It seems that this is close to impossible to pull off especially after seeing the disaster of Ocean's 12.

- ***

Monday, June 4, 2007

Ocean's 11 (1960, Lewis Milestone)

So, I decided to watch the orginal film, rewatch the remake, and watch Ocean's 12 in preparation for "research" and also so that I would know what was going on in Ocean's 13.

"Eleven friends who know each other from World War II service plan to rob five of the biggest casinos in Las Vegas in one night"

First of all notice the poster right above. This is taken right out of a scene in the film. It kind of looks familiar, doesn't? It kind of looks like a scene in Reservoir Dogs, doesn't? Well, this is one of the bad sides of watching more and more movies, you start seeing more and more movies that Tarantino has ripped off. This is one of the many of films that Tarantino has "homaged" I just found this interesting.

Ocean's 11 is a heist film blah blah blah. I think we all know what the original film is about, as well as the remake is about. Danny Ocean (Sinatra) wants some money and him and his friends (the rest of the rat pack) are going to help him get it. This is the simple plot and it works perfectly. I would start to compare this film to the remake right now but I will wait to do that when I write stuff for the remake. I will just say that the film is endlessly cool, always fast and fun, and just It is amazing that the charm of Sinatra and the rest of the Rat Pack has not lost any impact at all and anyone who likes "old movies" will have a fun time with this one.

Not much more to say except that it contains one of the most annoying, but also catchy, title songs of all time. The film is nothing outstanding or amazing but it's a great way to kill 2 hours and have a fun time.

- ***1/2