Monday, July 30, 2007

The Sinful Dwarf (1973, Vidal Raski)

"Olaf and his mother run a boarding house and a white slavery ring. They also smuggle heroin to keep the addict girls happy so they do not try and escape. A young couple move into the house and the evil landlords take a liking to the female."

Best. Plot. Ever.

The Sinful Dwarf is one of the strangest films I have ever seen. As strange as it is, it is also one of the funnest films I have ever had the pleasure of watching. This film is just such so odd and just so demented that you cant help but have fun with it.

So, you have an evil dwarf that abducts girls by leering them in with toys, then beats them up with his cane, then locks them in his attic, then gets them addicted to heroin, then uses them as prostitutes. Amazing. That is all I can say.

This whole film delivers the goods. It has a lot of the evil dwarf action that we want. It has the huge payoff that we want and even has some more evil dwarf action! When you watch this film you will see that the evil dwarf action is the best thing ever because the actor goes over the top with the role and is a huge blast to seeing him every single second he is on screen and once again, he is on screen every other minute. This is such a treat to watch because of this.

I really, really, really hope this makes it to DVD one day. Its just such a weird and demented movie really that gives you such a dirty and sleazy feeling. You just gotta love it.

- A

Frankensteins Castle of Freaks (1974, Robert Oliver)

"The same old Frankenstein story only with a dwarf, a caveman, and some nudity and sex....yeah..."

This is easily one of the worst movies I have yet to see. There such things as "so bad its good" but this one is "so bad its just bad" It feels as if there is a missing MST3K track to it and even if there was one I think Mike and the bots would have a hard time riffing on this one. Sure there are some great funny scenes, all of which feature a pervert dwarf, but these scenes sadly don't come that often.

This is strictly the kind of film you have to see with a group of people that way the time goes by quicker and even with that it will be an endurance test most of the time. I was lucky enough to see it at the grindhouse fest at The New Beverly Cinema and even with the theaters awesome audience the film still felt like it was 3 hours long, which is a big accomplishment since the film is only about 89 minutes long .

Horrible stuff. There is no excuse, this is just crap.

- D- (the pervert dwarf was pretty cool)

Commando (1985, Mark L. Lester)

"A retired elite commando has only a few hours to find and rescue his daughter from an exiled dictator."

Ok..this is hands down the greatest film ever made. Period. I am dead serious, it does not get any better than Commando at all. This film is better than any film ever made. It is a masterpiece of epic porpotions. It is simply the best. This is my whole review.

Now for a bunch of scenes from the film that way you can go out and watch this brilliant,amazing, jaw dropping awesome film.

And if you think I am spoiling anything, I am not at all. This is only a very small portion of the greatness that is Commando. I can not wait for the directors cut dvd thats coming out in a couple of weeks. It will be the best dvd ever.

- A++++++++++

Werkmeister Harmonies (2000, Bela Tarr)

"A small isolated village where people spend their time drinking and walking in the cold becomes hostile when a circus comes to town that contains a giant whale"

Hands down one of the most unique films I have ever seen. Other than having that great outline the film is shot in grimy black and white and almost each scene is one shot. The shots also last for more than 10 minutes. So, if you are really into cinematography then this film is a must for it does contain some of the most stunning uses of it.

However is a film supposed to be great if it all looks great? I don't think so. I think there should always be something interesting to back up interesting photography. People always give this film an A+ and only tend to focus on the visual aspects of it and I don't believe that this is the right way to look at the film. Sure, the cinematography is outstanding but we should also pay attention to the actions it is showing or how it is used to convey feelings to the images we see.

While reading up on Bela Tarr I read that he doesn't believe in using symbolism. He believes that what he photographs is what is being presented. Plain and simple. For this reason alone I feel like watching all his films since it is refreshing to see such an artistic director not cheat his way through with symbolic images that are supposed to leave a profound thought but instead just leaves you going "oh I get it the _____ is supposed to stand for ______!" Instead when a giant whale is revealed in Werkmeister Harmonies it really just stands for a giant whale just being revealed. I love that.

Given that he doesn't use symbolism but does really profound work he is able to convey some beautiful emotions. I would post a youtube link right now that contains my favorite scene in the film but when it is taken out of context it really does not have the same emotional strength at all.

In the one long take scene the circus truck has just arrived and Janos, who is the local townsmen who dreams of stars and other wonders, goes to the place where the truck is starting to unpack. He walks through the mobs of people who just stand there not saying a word. After walking around them and noticing them, he walks up to the truck and waits there patiently as they unfold the backdoor and set up a table. As soon as the man who is opening the truck sits down Janos walks up to him. His footsteps on the gravel is the only thing we hear as everyone continues to just stand there around the truck He walks up and buys a ticket to see the giant whale and begins to slowly walk inside of the truck. As he steps in a piano melody begins. He walks around the giant whale in awe of it while slowly examining everything of the whale. He slowly steps out of the truck and looks back as he walks away. A man walks up to him and asks him what is in there. He responds that that a giant whale has arrived and it has to be seen. He then adds on "see what a gigantic animal the lord can create"


I cite this scene because I think this is the key moment of the film where you really get a sense of what Bela Tarr is trying to do. He uses the long tracking shot to show a feeling of loneliness and blandness. As we see Janos walk into the truck and see the whale we get a sense of wonder just as the one Janos is feeling. We know that as soon as Janos walks out of the truck he will never be the same and will be thinking of the giant whale for the rest of the film. This is filmmaking at its best.

There are another couple of scenes that are just fantastic as well but there are also some scenes which just don't connect as well as others. For example we get scenes of people walking for 10 minutes or little kids playing for 10 minutes. These scenes, although they add more to the sense of loneliness in the film, also make the film feel well...slow. It is this aspect of the film that will make a lot of people either love the film or hate the film. Its just all a matter of personal taste and a question of how you feel during the film. Some will fall under its slow but beautiful charm meanwhile others will say its boring. For me it was a little bit of both but some scenes just left me floored.

Werkmeister Harmonies, love it or hate it, is a beautiful piece of filmmaking that is sure to stir up a number of emotions from its viewers. It is a powerful example of a director taking his craft as art and not as pure entertainment and for this reason alone it is a pleasure to watch.

- A-

Over the Top (1987, Menahem Golan)

"Lincoln Hawk is a struggling trucker who's trying to rebuild his life. After the death of his ex-wife, he tries to make amends with his son who he left behind years earlier. Upon their first meeting, his son doesn't think too highly of him until he enters the nation-wide arm wrestling competition in Las Vegas."

Stallone once again delivers the good over the top 80s fun. Just look at the poster! You know this film can not be anything but gold, and it is.

I dont even know what to write about this film. Its the kind of film you want to see with friends or at least the film you want to talk about with a person that has seen it. There is just too many great scenes that just have to be seen to be believed. Writing it all down doesn't do it justice. I don't even think that a review does this film justice. Its just too much for words.

Its a story about man love and the things you can overcome through arm wrestling. It will teach you special arm wrestling moves and it will have you at the edge of your seat when the final showdown happens at the las vegas arm wrestling championship.

This is a true gem of 80s filmmaking at its best (or worst?)

- A (It's just too much fun)

C.R.A.Z.Y. (2005, Jean-Marc Vallee)

"The story of a guy growing up meanwhile dealing with himself and his family members from the time that he is born until he is an adult."

I had never even heard of this film. I also had no idea what it was about either. I just saw it named in a list of the best films from this decade so far and I decided to check it out under IMDB. While scrolling down the page I just saw that the page said "Awards: 33 wins & 4 nominations" and I rented it out of the blue. It came in the mail and it sat there for awhile until I decided to just watch the film. Even then I still had no idea what to expect and what it was even about.

Even after watching the film it is still really hard to explain. I will just say that it really is a perfect film. The film is mainly about just a guy growing up in the 70s and 80s. We see him as he gets into David Bowie music, starts smoking weed, falls in love, gets into new wave music. The plot is really that simple, just a man growing up. Its the all around writing and direction makes everything flawless. Each character in the film has enough depth and is written so perfectly that when the 2 hours are done you really do feel as if you know each character perfectly. The perfect use of voice over narration is also used perfectly in the film which I really applaud just because it seems like such a tough thing to pull off.

The style of the film is something else that is done perfectly well. The color schemes and overall tone switches as we get to different years. Its very subtle but it adds to the feeling of seeing time pass by. True, this is nothing new but given how great the writing is this only adds on to the films greatness. This isn't the only style the film has either, at times the film just bursts with style in a specific scene that just floors you and leaves the scene burned in your memory. Its really some great stuff.

C.R.A.Z.Y. - go watch it or buy it. You will not be disappointed but be careful for this film not only has a poster that looks an advertisement for That 70s Show, it also has one of the worst dvd covers of all time. Neither the poster or the dvd cover even capture what this film is really about. I hate when this happens.

- A+

A Very Sad Loss for Cinema.

Its 2 09 am over here and the news just broke that Ingmar Bergman has passed away. I know that I am not one to write an obituary or a tribute of sorts but part me just wanted to write down at least something in honor of him.

See, it's because Bergman does hold a place in my heart.

One of my all time favorite directors and the first director who I fully began to study and watch is Woody Allen. Through Woody Allen I found a lot of directors who's work I also began to love. I found people like Fellini, The Marx Brothers, and De Sica. In this group of directors that I found through Allen was Bergman. Although his work was hard to come by back then I was lucky enough to find old beaten up vhs copies of Through a Glass Darkly, The Virgin Spring, and Wild Strawberries at my library. I watched all three and I loved all three.

He was one of the first directors who really opened up my eyes and my mind to foreign film. His films showed me that there was this whole other world outside of the U.S. that had as much talent as we have had. Every film buff and film geek can tell you what was the first film that made them get into foreign film. For me it was Wild Strawberries and I love the film so much for that reason alone.

I find it so odd that the director who made the most films dealing with the mystery of death is now dead. Although he has proven himself to be a mixed bag for me, he has always had a special place in my film buff heart.

It is always sad to see one of the greats go and Bergman was one of the best and one of the most important names in film history.


Thursday, July 26, 2007

Damn its too hot!!!

I have like 6 more write ups to post here but its boiling in my room and is killing the mood.

This sucks.

Shooter (2007, Antoine Faqua)

"A marksman living in exile is coaxed back into action after learning of a plot to kill the president. Ultimately double-crossed and framed for the attempt, he goes on the run to track the real killer and find out who exactly set him up, and why"

Mark Walhberg as a sniper trying to find out who framed him for a murder by sniping people and getting all the facts straight. This is exactly what I was expecting from this film and I was fine with this but when the laughable trailers starting popping up it just looked like another run of the mill stupid action film. Not the mindless fun that it seemed to be about at first. The film never really interested me and I never thought about renting it. However, when my dad rented it I decided to watch it since I had nothing to lose.

Shooter is the kind of the film that people will say "Its a popcorn film! Have fun with it and don't think about it too much" I am all for these kinds of films but I really do believe that they hardly come out anymore. Every one of these "popcorn/turn your mind off films" seems to be trying to cram down its ADD style down your throat meanwhile trying too hard to deliver an amazing action film that just comes out lame and forgettable.

The first hour of Shooter is not like this though. It has a well balanced direction and style that is matched by fun performances. The first hour deals with the whole "sniper gets framed and is on the run from everyone" plot and its a lot of fun to watch. But when the film goes into its second hour and begins to explore the "why was he framed and who did it?" plot the film begins to slip away from itself. The film which at first starts out as a fun popcorn film turns into an espionage type of film that actually tries to have a deep and profound political statement. Just for this the film is no longer "fun" for me.Plus, you get ridiculous characters like the crazy woodsmen that knows everything about the government and can help out the sniper find some answers. If a film is called Shooter and has a sniper sniping people all the time and yet tries to have a meaningful political insight then this is no longer fun to watch and turns to the ridiculous side for the most part

Shooter is not a bad film at all. It just feels a little bit odd to watch it and see how it turns into something else all of a sudden meanwhile you are left wishing it would turn back to what it was before.

- B-

Wednesday, July 25, 2007


Demolition Man (1993, Marco Brambilla)

"A cop is brought out of suspended animation in prison to pursue an old ultra-violent enemy who is loose in a nonviolent future society."

Ok..first the plot of this movie...

Stallone plays a no rules ruthless cop in the 90's who seems to have an ongoing rivalry with a crazy killer played by Snipes. After their latest standoff ends with a factory blowing up and a lot of dead bodies both of them are kept in a cryo prison. Now cut to the future where everyone is peaceful. Snipes breaks out of prison and since everyone seems to be a pussy he is able to easily stir up some rampage. Now because of everyone being a pussy they need some help in killing the man and so they unfreeze the most badass man they have....Stallone.

Yeah, this has to be one of the best plots ever.

This movie should live up to this plot outline. It should just be really kick ass and have a lot of cool scenes and just be a lot of fun. It is is at times but the sad part is that it isn't a lot of time. Instead of getting the Snipes/Stallone action that is promised we get ridiculous secondary characters that just make the film intolerable at times. We get about 3 characters who's only job is to be comedic relief when Stallone finds some parts of the future hard to get used to. So, when Stallone is shocked to not find toilet paper in the bathrooms in the future all these characters just look at him and say stuff like "toilet paper....hahahahaha!!" and Stallone just does a "huh?!" type of face at them. These kind of scenes happen about every 5 minutes. Its not as cool or as funny as it sounds, sadly.

Among these characters we get Sandra Bullocks character who is just annoying. She plays a future cop who is a big fan of the 90s and quickly becomes Stallone's sidekick. Now because of this we have comedy moments where Bullock tries to be cool with Stallone and says a lot of cool 90s catch phrases, but since its been so long she says them all wrong. So after Stallone has just kicked some ass she will look at him and say "Wow! You really licked their ass!" and Stallone once again goes "huh?! That's kicked their ass! Kicked!!" This is once again not as funny or cool as it might sound, sadly.

If all of this wasn't enough we also get Dennis Leary playing a underground revolutionist who is well..Dennis Leary. By this I mean that Leary is literally playing Leary in the film and it seems that it is exactly what the producers wanted since he was in his comedic prime at the moment. Hes supposed to be a hero but all he does is go on comedic rants and talks really Leary. I don't know what exactly is the purpose here of this character doing this. I think its supposed to be funny or something.

So if all this wasn't enough already we also get ridiculous little scenes that don't make much sense. I know its supposed to be an action film and all and we are not meant to think about it all too much but somethings are just inexcusable. When Snipes needs a lot of weapons and cant find any because in the future everyone is peaceful he decides to go to the museum and guess what? There are all kinds of guns,grenades,plasma guns with live ammo there! Enough to occupy him and the rest of the bad guys for the rest of the film. This is just too much for me.

However with all this mess Demolition Man does have its moments of fun. Whenever the film forgets about its sill secondary character or the silly comedy and just sticks to the action between Stallone and Snipes it delivers some good over the top fun action. It just sadly doesn't come as often as it should.

I don't know what exactly I was expecting from a film named "Demolition Man" but it wasn't this silly movie for sure.

- C

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Here you go Greg, here you go......the legend is true.

" In 1994, Knowles fell while pushing a cart down a ramp at a convention, and was subsequently run over by the cart with its 1200 pound load of memorabilia. The accident injured his back and left him virtually bedridden."

He even got injured in the most fanboy way possible!


He gets SSI because of it in addition to whatever he makes from the website.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Fact. Harry Knowles is sitting on a chair in this picture instead of the bleachers because if he were to he would break the bleacher.

Harry Knowles everybody......Harry Knowles....

If.... (1968, Lindsay Anderson)

"A revolution lead by pupil Mick Travis takes place at an old established private school in England"

I have been wanting to see this film for about 8 years now. The lack of an easy to find vhs and no dvd made this a difficult find but finally thanks to Criterion I was able to see it after the long wait and it was worth it. I think that if I would have seen this film 8 years ago i would have not have appreciated it as much as I would have now.

I always thought that If.... was a film about a student rebelling and shooting up his school. I first heard about it when a couple of news reports mentioned it after the Columbine school massacre and since then I have been curious to see it. I don't know what those news reporters were talking about because this film is not about a guy shooting up his school. Sure, there is a scene like that but it is much more complicated and doesn't warrant a simple description of "this guy shoots up his school" Why I say this is because the film is heavily surreal and heavily layered. This is a point that I had never ever heard or read about.

I believe that surrealism is a very tough thing to pull off. Sometimes it works and it pulls you into the film and sometimes it just pulls you straight out of the film and looks...well...stupid. However, If.... falls perfectly into the first category. You are given enough information to be able to understand when the film is being surrealistic and when it is not. It is also refreshing to see that the surreal parts don't rely on heavy symbolism to portray some kind of theme or message. Instead in If.... we just get the basic jist as to why it is being surrealistic and we just have fun with the odd images that are being presented.

The film is not entirely all surrealism though. This only plays a small but significant part in the overall story. When the film is grounded in reality we also get one of the most rebellious films ever made. A kind of film that really does make you cheer when it reaches its infamous conclusion. Lindsay Anderson does a great job at creating this very hostile and intense atmosphere though out the film that when 2 students are able to "break out" for a couple of minutes you really get a true sense of freedom that is unlike any other feeling that I have ever experienced before while seeing a film. This is some very brilliant stuff.

So if you add all this plus some very interesting gay subtext to the film, dark comedy, and support it all with an amazing lead performance by Malcom McDowell you get one of the most interesting and rebellious films ever made. Amazing stuff for sure.

- A

Barcelona (1994, Whit Stillman)

"An American man who works in sales in Barcelona gets a surprise visit from his cousin who is on leave from the navy. Together they go around Barcelona talking about life,politics, and women."

I had always heard a good amount of hype surrounding Whit Stillman. Anyone who has seen his "trilogy" holds it in high regard and anyone who has been exposed to him seem to be anticipating his new film badly. Although I have only seen 2/3 of the trilogy I can now see and understand the love towards the mans films. A friend of mine described him as the "Terence Malick of comedy" and that description fits well.

Barcelona uses almost the same formula as Metropolitan did. Which is that we basically see a handful of character talk about a handful of subjects for the whole running time. It really isn't as boring or as annoying as it sounds and it is often hilarious but once again the comedy is very subtle and often dark. The thing though that separates this film from Metropolitan, at least to me, is that it is clearly evident that Stillman had more of a budget on this film and because of this was able to gain more confidence in his visuals and storytelling. It's a cliched term but I do like this film better because it is more mature than Metropolitan.

The other reason I loved Barcelona was also because of the heavy focus on just two characters. The relationship between the cousins is a fun and interesting one to watch as their friendship begins to develop after many years of hatred between them. The conversation exchanges between them are once again some top notch writing that is always witty but never pretentious.

The only thing else that I can say about the film is how great Chris Eigeman is in it. This guy should have been a bigger star than he is now. The man is a scene stealer and seems to be Whit Stillman's perfect match for an actor. He seems to have been born to deliver Stillmans style of dialogue and every time he opens his mouth in both films pure comedy gold comes out.

Barcelona is just a solid witty film all around that manages to have some memorable characters and brilliant writing to go along with it, which is all I could ask for in a comedy film.

- A-

Conversations with Other Women (2005, Hans Canosa)

"A man and a woman meet at a wedding and spend a night together."

This film just blew me away. It never really interested me and I had only heard the title of it before but based on a friends recommendation I decided to check it out.

In the world of film geeks and buffs online the word "overrated" and "underrated" seem to get thrown around a lot to the point where when one of the two words is used there is not much of an impact. The two words just seem like a throwaway term that people use to show their "film cred" and to show how cool their opinion is where they can hate something thats popular or love something that not that many people do. As people keep using these terms for the same movies over and over again they have missed the point of actually supporting true "underrated" films that NO ONE has heard about, or at least very few people have. Conversations With Other Women is that film that is waiting to be discovered. It is that film that really deserves the title of being "underrated" It really is that good.

Conversations With Other Women really does live up to its plotline. It really is about a man and a woman meeting at a wedding and spending the night together. However as the film progresses we begin to get layers of depth to not only the characters but the plot itself. Everything is not what it seems and as you begin to figure things out little by little you become more invested in the storyline and characters to the point where when the 87 minutes are up you have felt a personal bond with the characters and story. Oh but there is also a gigantic catch to the whole film...

The whole film is in split screen and it is glorious.

The only previous film that I have seen before hand that tried to take on such a task was Timecode which was told in 4 screens at the same, and all of them being one long take from start to finish. Sadly though, that film did not deliver based on its premise and gimmick. In the end the film was just a gigantic gimmick that told a mediocre story and didnt take full use of the possibilites of have 4 frames going on at the same time.

However, this film delivers based on the gimmick. The director doesnt use split screen just to be different and get attention. Instead he manages to actually add layers of depth into the film based on this gimmick and turns it into anything but a gimmick. For example as one character is recalling a memory we see the memory play out on the other half of the screen or when one character is faking their emotion towards the other person we see their true feeling being played out on the other screen. The director knows the possibilities he could have had with doing the entire film in split screen and he takes full advantage of it. The split screen also serves a deeper purpose to the general themes of the film that is also handled just perfectly. It really is some great stuff to watch and admire.

The film is just solid all the way around. It is inevitable to compare it to Before Sunset/Sunrise but I wont go into that. I think the comparison is a compliment to the strength to the film and I have no problem watching another character driven film in that style. It has strong performances, a very strong script, and some incredible direction. It really deserves the title of being a criminally underrated and underseen film.

- A

Thursday, July 12, 2007

A Woman is a Woman (1961, Jean Luc Godard)

"Angela,a striptease artist, wants to have a baby and tries to persuade her boyfriend Emile to go along with the idea"

On the Blockbuster Online sleeve this DVD came in the sleeve said "This being a Godard film, the straightforward story serves as a framework for improvisation and stylistic experimentation, allowing for odd interludes and unexpected images." I thought to myself when I read this "well of course but it will still be great" I was very,very,very wrong.

A Woman is a Woman is just that, an experiment in style and with the limits of Cinema itself. Of course with the films I have seen so far this style is no surprise to me. I was expecting this and this is the reason why I expected to like it to some degree. In the films that I have seen from Godard I love the way he is playful with the images he presents. I love that he is telling you a straight story and out of nowhere comes a surprise that creates a great moment in the film and in your mind.

Everyone always cites the cafe dance scene in Band of Outsiders as a prime example of this. I would agree and I do think it deserves the high regard it gets among film buffs. Now let me explain why, the dance in Band of Outsiders is so great because although it is playful and it comes out of nowhere it really does add a lot to the story. As the two men and the lady are dancing we hear the music cut off and a narrator come over. He describes what each character is truly feeling as they look like they are having fun and dancing in a cafe. This small element makes you think from then on what the character are really thinking as they walk along and talk to eachother for the rest of the film. It's that simple, add a lot of depth you don't see and then take it away, the viewer will then add in the depth himself. This is some great stuff and is one of the many reasons why I love Band of Outsiders.

I use this example that way I have basis for why I didn't like A Woman is a Woman. Godard in this film misses the ball badly. He creates a series of playful scenes that test the boundaries of cinema meanwhile linking them all up to a very shallow storyline that is involved with shallow characters. The reason I believe the story and the characters turn out shallow is because of all these playful scenes because this is all we get every 2 minutes, playful scenes. They lack depth, they lack a reason to happen, and they even lack playfulness. They become annoying very fast,

When a character is walking down a street and the musical score and sound mix keeps on cutting off every couple of seconds you really gotta ask yourself "what am I watching?" Is this supposed to serve a purpose? Not really. Is this supposed to leave me going "wow! This is brilliant!" I guess so but it really doesn't. Or when there is a montage of chracters doing silly poses am I supposed to go "awww this is silly!" or "aww this is cute!" I really dont know. I was too busy cringing.

There is not much more to say about A Woman is a Woman. It's not much of a film as it is just a series of scenes that are trying to be cute and memorable every couple of seconds. Some people find the film to be just that meanwhile others don't. I now belong to the later group.

- C-

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Cobra (1986, George P. Cosmatos)

" City cop is on the trail of a serial killer. Loaded with action and violence. Stallone fans will love..."

I'm not even going to write anything about this film. It's ridiculously bad ass and tons of fun. That's it.

Watch it only if you are one of the film viewers who are able to get into a movie and don't watch while laughing at it because its "cheesy". Laugh because you are being entertained by the film and are having fun, don't laugh because you are better than it.

- Ridiculously Awesome

Pretty Poison (1968, Noel Black)

" When a mentally disturbed young man tells a pretty girl that he's a secret agent, she believes him, and murder and mayhem ensue"

This is in my opinion one of the best plot summaries ever. As soon as I read it I was quick to rent the film and it did not disappoint at all. This is one quirky as hell and dark film. I loved almost every single minute.

Anthony Perkins plays young arsonist who is recently released from a mental asylum. He goes back to a normal life and working at a factory. One day during a break he notices a cute 17 year old cheerleader and decides to make her fall in love with him by pretending his a secret agent. I just felt like repeating this "secret agent" plot point because its that brilliant in my opinion. This film is mostly an hour of Anthony Perkins with a spy camera, running around, and talking in long detail about his life as a secret agent. It is truly a hysterical performance along with some hysterical dialogue. If you like some quirky Wes Anderson kind of dry humour, then you will love this part of the film.

However the later half quickly turns pitch dark as dead bodies begin to appear. This sudden wake up call to Perkins odd fantasies mixed in with how he reacts to the wake up call is also some pretty great stuff. His mental breakdown and nervous performance for the last half of the film is some very entertaining acting. All these aspects to the film also make up for some really tense scenes.

Once's all just some great stuff.

However, the film has one pretty damn great ending. It just sadly has a couple more. The film feels like the credits are about to roll but keeps on going. This shouldn't be a bad thing but the thing is every one of these "ending scenes" just keeps getting worse and worse and campier and campier. in the end you sorta wish the film could have just ended 10 minutes earlier while it was still ahead of it's game.

Other than the weak and campy ending the rest of the film is some oddball and quirky stuff. I love almost every single minute of it and Anthony Perkins once again delivers a solid performance that is worth checking out for sure.

- ***1/2

Metropolitan (1990, Whit Stillman)

"A smart middle class man accidentally becomes accepted into a group of upper class friends who meet every night to talk about society,politics, and play bridge"

This is a film that some people will stare at for an hour and half and then declare it boring. Meanwhile, other people will be laughing every couple of minutes and enjoy the film. The comedy is dark and extremely subtle, along with everything else. I am happy to belong to the later group.

The only film that I can compare Metropolitan to is American Psycho. I guess the comparison is inevitable because both films deal with yuppies and the yuppie culture, but I don't think the comparison is that simple. Both films find comedy in subjects and people that we shouldn't be laughing at. They are not really saying anything funny or doing funny things. Instead we find comedy in the stupidity of the dialogue and the stupidity of the characters themselves. Maybe its because we are only voyeurs in their world but everything the characters say and do comes out hilarious and mostly preposterous. I love this type of dark and somewhat cynical comedy.

Metropolitan also deserves to get a mention for actually being made in the era when the yuppie culture was dying. One of the scenes in the film where two of the characters meet up with an older yuppie in a bar seems to perfectly sum up the film and the culture itself. It's a great scene and a great touch to the overall theme of the film. It's definatly the key scene to the movie for me.

Metropolitan isn't also just a dark comedy, it's also a love story. We also not only get to see the awkwardness of the middle class guy interacting in this upper class world, we also get one of the upper class girls falling in love with him. A lot of the scenes with these two characters talking is also some top notch comedy writing. The academy really hit a home run with nominating the screenplay for this one.

The only thing I didn't like about Metropolitan was the low budget. That's right, the low budget. I am picking this over the acting, which is really the main problem I had with the film. I think that maybe because of the low budget it was a lot harder finding some great talent and it shows. A lot of the time I felt that the actors were just reading off a script and just came off as wooden. Of course one could argue that it all just fits in with the film but I don't believe this is the case here. I really just think its some wooden acting. That simple.

Metropolitan is a great film to those who are able to "see" the great film. To others it will just be a bunch of nonsense and boring dialogue. Watch it if your in the mood for a different kind of comedy film and you will not be disappointed.

- ***1/2

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Black Snake Moan (2007, Craig Brewer)

"A God-fearing bluesman takes to a wild young woman who, as a victim of childhood sexual abuse, looks everywhere for love, never quite finding it."

Yeah, this film is about a guy who chains up a girl to his radiator and aims to cure her of her sexual wickedness. I remember when I first read that plot outline for the film I was both curious about it but also laughed a little bit at how stupid the idea of it sounded. Luckily, Brewer delivers a solid execution for an idea that could have easily been laughed at.

Brewer not only does that but also manges to execute a personal and heartfelt portrait of people finding redemption and hope in their lives. This factor is what made me like this film a lot and love Hustle and Flow a lot. Both films share this factor and both films also share some of the most original stories put on film in the past year or two. Who would have known that a film about a pimp wanting to be a rapper and a bluesman chaining up a woman would be so original and great?

Although I did like Black Snake Moan a lot, I didn't love it. I felt that in the end of the film some of the character didn't quite fit right. I felt that the character development was somehow rushed in the final 20 minutes or so. It's not that big of deal but in a film that deals with loss and depression so much I would imagine that the ending would feel more organic and more developed. Instead, it just comes in a hurry. But even with that, it does not take too much out of the film.

Craig Brewer has also become one of the most interesting filmmakers out there. in my opinion . and I am interested in seeing what kind of films he does next.

- ***

Ratatouille (2007, Brad Bird)

"A young rat living within the walls of a famous Paris bistro wishes to become a chef"

This is the meaning of perfection. Seriously. This film is just perfect in every way and I loved every single second of every single minute. No matter how much I write about it, it will still not do justice to the film.

Ratatouille is by far one of the greatest accomplishments I have ever seen on film. Everything from the writing, the characters, the story, the gags, and even the action scenes are just top notch. Everything in this film should be used as an example in film schools for generations to come. Why do I believe all of this? The film is rated G and its a kid's movie! That simple.

I don't know what else to write. The film is just one of the most original films I have ever seen and I haven't had this much fun while watching a movie in a long time. It reminded me of why I love watching movies and it reminded me of being a kid and just being in awe of the theater screen.

Although it's hard to say which Pixar film has been the best, this one comes close to taking that title. Please, just go and watch the film if you haven't already. It is without a doubt the best film I have seen so far this year.

- ****