Thursday, December 23, 2010

Glib Reviews of Random Movies #7

Ink
... very odd indie kinda sci-fi/fantasy something or other. highly stylized, possibly edited on a laptop, but if you can get past the awkward WTF first 15 minutes or so it starts getting coherent and the various stories become obviously linked. One of those movies that were I in a different mood I may have turned off, but am glad I didn't.  Basically there's a dreamlands story running parallel to an increasingly tragic real life story about a high powered executive who ignores his family and has to learn a lesson the hard alt.timeline way. The villains are uber creepy, the heroes... a bit too second matrix rave people looking,and the rock video editing is somewhat overdone,  but all in all an ok ride.

Night Of The Comet ...

very fun slightly post apocalyptic movie, with far less zombie action than you'd think based on the cover of the box. But even so, an interesting tale of 80's psychology, and mall grown teens. Has Chakotay in an early role.

Forbidden Planet

 Holds up very well. I think I'm developing an interest in Walter Pidgeon films. Great Star Trek-y template of a "villain". This movie is the basic plot of 1/2 the episodes of TOS ST. Gorgeously shot. Ann Francis and Leslie Nielsen (who I now realize was likely a "Young Vincent Price" to many in that era... as he reminds me of Price in the 40's noirs he did) have a real decent chemistry. Very deep story, great futuristic civilization. I may have to buy my own copy.

The Great Happiness Space.

Inside look at a "Host Club" in Osaka, Japan. The Hosts and their clients (mostly hookers interestingly enough) are extremely forthcoming and honest about who they are and what they do. Most truly have no idea that they are horrible shallow people, who basically live to party and spend great gobs of cash. very very interesting look at what goes on if a girl decides to actually follow one of those "Nampa" guys we used to see at the train stations. Many of my customers at the video store have told me they thought the hosts were gay. But they just look gay. young trendy J-guys throw off your gaydar.

BBC version of Dracula, from the 70's: cleverly titled "Count Dracula". workmanlike re-telling of the classic tale. Jourdan is Wooden acting-tastic.  Bland forgettable addition to the Dracula mythos... adds almost nothing without being offensive or annoying. Easy film to have on as background while multi-tasking. The only real awesome part of this is Frank Finlay's oddly charming take on Van Helsing.
Follow the link and the guy writing there loved this stale version of an old story. meh.

Gran Torino

Simply put:  the "Unforgiven" of Grumpy Old Men movies.

The International

Directed by Tom Twyker of Run Lola Run fame. It had a really good gun battle  at the Guggenheim in NYC. Nice Int'l city locations, and  a lot of great modern architecture. Naomi Watts is unusually stiff. Trying to hard for a Nicole Kidman vibe it seemed to me. I especially noticed how Clive Owen does rumpled, unshaven and sleepless really really well. He could be the new Columbo. The movie as a whole is weak, especially upon reflection. The more you think about this one, the more you realize it's missing.

Underworld: Rise Of The Lycans

Not nearly as horrible as I thought it would be. (kinda like the first two) Not that it was any kind of "Cinema" mind you. But some harmless Vampire/Werewolf Soap Operaness. The CG wasn't as awesome as it might have been. But it was decent. Kept striking me as odd that The Werewolf leader was the dude who played David Frost recently. hmmmm. The Head Vampy - Victor was uber campy in his delivery, making for some unintentional giggles at his goofy expressions, that were supposed to be scary, I think. How come there are no girl Lycans in the past? how did they reproduce? Bad movie, that's fun to mock!

In The Electric Mist,

starring Tommy Lee Jones as the identical cousin (slightly less world weary, but only slightly) of his character in No Country... an old racist murder and some modern ones tie together nicely for James Lee Burke's favourite Cajun cop in this well crafted (Bert Tavernier directed) if a bit laggardly paced Cop drama. some decent cameos from Ned Beatty, Mary Steenburgen... John Goodman isn't trying very hard, but is still funny. He may have lost weight... hard to say.

Scarecrow

with Hackman & Pacino both at the peak of their powers. Bang. One of the best Buddy filns of all time, from the guy who made the also awesome "Panic In Needle Park" - Jerry Schatzberg. Scarecrow has all the great elements of the Buddy Picture (Which has de-evolved in modern times into these so called  "Bromance comedies".) Hackman & Pacino have great chemistry and all the homo-eroticism is nicely veiled in subtext and clever hotdog jokes. Also motherfucking stunning cinematography (from Vilmos Zsigmond who was also in an early 70's groove having previously lenses The Long Goodbye, McCabe & Mrs. Miller to name a few.) in this flick. Early 70's American Road movies is how I imagine America when I feel like imagining America..

Saturday, December 11, 2010

2010 top ten movies on dvd

My Annual Top Ten movies list of movies most people missed on DVD in 2010

(I noticed on IMDB that most of these flicks are not as highly rated as they should be on IMDB... feh my taste is never in dispute in my mind which really is all that matters :p )

(oh and yes I've reviewed, linked most of these before, but not in a top ten


As always my top ten includes a few movies that maybe were in theatres last year, but on DVD this year. I work in a video store so that’s how I catalogue things, by the dvd release.

The Headless Woman Directed by Lucretia Martel whose previous two films “Holy Girl” & “La Cienaga” (aka The Swamp) are also genius. She has the most unflinching camera in use today, in many ways. She captures that decadent banality of the class system better than anyone since Bunuel, in my opinion. Headless Woman continues along similar themes, but is less concerned with narrative than the earlier two. She’s stretching with this one, and I’m salivating to see what she does next.

The Maid is one of those pictures that actually pilled the wool over my seasoned viewer eyes, I thought it was treading nicely down the path of one kind of “Maid movie” ( if indeed there is such a genre, and I can’t see why there wouldn’t be)  but in the end it became a wholly different kind of story. Genius performance from the lead actress.  Great flick.

Tony Manero is another great Chilean movie. Tony Manero of course refers to the John Travolta Iconic white suited Saturday Night Fever character. Which by the way is a kick ass film remembered for all the wrong things. Disco is just the setting. But I digress. The main character in this film is also kind of obsessed with SNF, he wants to make it on to a local dancing TV game show where they are looking to crown Chile’s “Tony Manero”. The tension comes from the fact that the guy is despite being well liked by some, a complete sociopath. It must be seen to be believed, the casualness of his brutality. Yet somehow we’re pulling for this psycho? Yes, yes we are.

Fishtank is a great little indy drama from sophomore director Andrea Arnold, whose first film “Red Road” I had no choice but to re-watch directly after watching Fishtank, so much did I still want to be part of Arnold’s universe. The main character is a young high school girl who just wants to dance and get out of her party time very young herself still mom’s house and the life there… Mom starts dating a nice guy for a change, and things seem to take a familiar turn, or do they? Very grown up look at that stuff we don’t talk about.

The Eclipse has absolutely nothing to do with Twilight or stupid angsty teen vampires. It has to do with big time real Irish actors doing their thing in an old fashioned ghost story/romance triangle. It’s a fracture surreal triangle at best, which is what gives this film it’s edge, that, and the good old fashioned eeek it’s a ghost kind of scares it contains once in a while. Cieran Hinds is genius in this, Aidan Quinn is himself, and then some.  Nice little movie with no pretensions to be more or less than it is.

The Cry Of The Owl is not for everyone with it’s murky cinematography and old fashioned melodrama acting, but for those who enjoy that kind of thing, like me, this is a joy, this film. Like a Val Lewton Produced Douglas Sirk movie maybe? The darkness I guess comes from the fact it’s a Patricia Highsmith story. She was a master of mood, and spare about it at the same time… much like this movie. Julia Stiles deserves some kind of award for her creepy girl turn here. Owls crying, indeed.

Mother The latest from Joon Ho Bong the Korean director behind Memories of Murder, as well as The Host. This film covers much of the same territory of memories of murder, and even has some actors recurring roles (or at least very similar types, it wasn’t addressed at all.) as it’s set in a small town with small town cops covering everyone’s dirty secrets. The Mother in question is the mother of the most recent patsy to be arrested for killing a young girl. Rivetting performance, and despite it’s familiar setting is really nothing like Memories Of Murder, and maybe even as good, I need to see both films again before making that judgement.

The Killer Inside Me is again not for everyone. It only has a small number of violent scenes, but those are graphic in a nigh harrowing fashion. I know many who couldn’t watch those scenes at all, hiding their eyes, or just fast forwarding ahead. So be warned. That said It’s yet another masterpiece from Michael Winterbottom. Bravura film making, coaxes a nomination worthy performance out of Casey Affleck. Very decent adaptation of the classic Jim Thompson novella.

Sleep Dealer is a classy little bit of Sci-Fi which is hard to come by these days. Set in the pretty near future, water is scarce, and people often work using virtual reality to control robots doing jobs often in other parts of the world. All the military is by proxy as well of course, and all private. The army works for whoever hires them. A young Mexican hacker ends up in Tijuana learning about this much more realistic Matrix than The Matrix ever was, setup, while sending money home to his folks. There are acts of rebellion, the world changes ever so slightly. I felt like all the future tech they used could easily come to pass in 10-20 years.

Valhalla Rising is a film that many loathe, and misunderstand. It’s bound to be compared to Cobra Verde, or other Herzogian visions. but that’s not a bad thing to my mind.. Mads Mikkelsen excels as the one eyed enslaved ruthless killer who lives to entertain others with bloodsport. Eventually he follows some crusaders towards the Holy Land for a crusade, but they take a wrong turn at Vinland….I found this little slice of mood and mise en scene to be hypnotic and it stayed in my dreams & thoughts for days afterwards.

This Is England 86’ (special mention:  on TV in Merry Olde during 2010, hopefully on DVD here soon as fricking possible!)  Is the even better than sequel to The Great Shane Meadows’ “This Is England” from a few years back. All the same actors return a few years older, and well, not really that much wiser, and of course a great many bad things happen. There is especially one scene that would be hard to take for many, but otherwise there is lots of humour and dignity in this 80’s saga. I’d love to see more actually.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Glib Reviews of Random Movies #6

A Colt is My Passport

Familiar point of view for a Japanese noir, the hitman as protagonist. This one is good but not great. It's all a bit too low key as it tries hard to straddle that edge between comedy and noir. A truly funny noir is hard to find. This one makes a fair effort, but the actors limit themselves to deadpan. You need Japanese women to be crying more, or it doesn't seem realistic imho. :p) and it falls a bit short of being as cool as it's title. Somehow the story moves quickly, but the actors don't.

Special

Michael Rapaport, everyone's favourite red headed stepchild, plays a schlub traffic enforcement officer who hangs out at a local comic book store. He signs up for a clinical trial of some prozac-y (it's vague what they are testing) pill, but it has the unexpected side effect of making him think he's gained superpowers. he hasn't. Things get funny before they get sad, so it's all good. Great low low budget fare, well scripted, performed in a very self aware goofy way.


Whatever Works

By Woody. Stars Larry David playing an even more unlikable (but somehow likable) asshole than he does on TV who lucks into a relationship with a young naive blonde. Very Olde School Woody without feeling Dated. It's not as good as Vicky Christina Barcelona (which is in the pantheon of great Woodys) but it's a very passable film. I also love that Woody has no need to make 2.5 hour long comedies. Patricia Clarkson is a hoot as the Mom of the gal Larry falls for.

Victoria Day

a nice little Canuck Indie film about a HS hockey player(in 1988 suburban Hogtown) and his odd week he has leading up to Victoria Day. Nice film, well acted by young no name actors, and a clever unsentimental script that makes great use of moody teenage silence in the face of adversity.

Audience of One

is about this small time Pentecost preacher from SF who thinks he's been making a 200 million dollar movie for several years. Funny and sad, but not always in a good way.  Well made doc. But got me thinking that eventually everyone in America will have had a documentary made about them. So start dressing nicer, a film crew may be watching you right now.

Thirst

by Park Chan Wook of "Oldboy" fame. good offbeat (to put it mildly) vampire tale. A priest gets a blood transfusion after volunteering for medical experiments. the transfusion turns him slowly into a vampire. he slowly comes out of his shell meets some old friends, including a girl who gets his loins hot. Korea is a strange place.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Glib Reviews of Random Movies #5

Some more old reviews from my forum. again My opinons may have changed slightly since watching these movies, and maybe they haven't.

Walk On The Wild Side

by Ed Dmytryk. based on the Algren book of the same name. starring the ever noirtastic Laurence Harvey, Babs Stanwyck, and a young (and most amazingly assed) Jane Fonda as Kitty Twist. Fun, fast paced tale of doomed love. Just like in real life nobody gets any. though they have lots of drama queen fun trying. titles have kitties, and great "hep" music. well crafted fun.

Wolverine.

Didn't suck nearly as bad as I thought it would. the ending was an anti ending(and one of the most ludicrous set pieces in cinema history), but prequels often can't figure out how to end properly, so I wasn't expecting much. I'm glad there was less Gambit in it than the ads led me to believe. Most contrived annoying X-man ever imho. The Blob was cool. Deadpool will be back obviously. Hopefully in a comedy. A good example of a really terrible movie that can be enjoyed if you let your inner nerd run free.

The Exorcist by Friedkin,

Great Halloween viewing! I hadn't seen it in 10 or more years and did not watch the “new improved” spider girl version. I hate those updates in general. I bought the edition where Friedkin (sweater vest wearing Friedkin at that) intros the film. I love the odd pace and gorgeous eerie imagery. I forgot all about the crucifucking scene. sheesh. Ya don't see that everyday. Keenan Wynne is great as the film buff Police Captain.

The Day Of The Locust, by John Schlesinger.

Wow. How had I not seen this?  THE Most unsentimental, (yet full of joyous nostalgia and the headiness of the age.) cynical Hollywood on Hollywood movie ever made. A molasses avalanche of spectacle ( a few makings of Epics glimpsed here and there) and the inherent seediness of the nobodies, and somebodies trying to make it in Hollywood at the tail end of the Depression. Based on the Nathaniel West novel of the same name, the movie shares it's literariness, unblinkingly... You want the great American Mise en Scene? It's all here, drama, melodrama, comedy, and loads of tragedy, and it ends in Horror. The monster is Hollywood. Great turns from Billy Barty, Burgess Meredith, and Karen Black is a Total Diva in this. Everyone is cast bang on, like a Coen Brothers movie.


Take Aim At The Police Van

(Seijun Sukuki) Hard boiled noir from the master of 60's Japa-Noir Suzuki... early fairly straight forward film from the guy who fucked up your brain with "Branded To Kill". Some flashes of future Suzuki weirdness. Great dogged lead character, a Prison guard who's on duty when some gangsters escape with a well executed break out from a po-po van. He gets suspended with pay, and investigates on his own, occasionally getting lightly slapped on the wrist by the cops, he kinda sorta falls for a Madam/mafia daughter... you know how that turns out.