Formerly "A Movie A Day" :/

Monday, November 30, 2009

Maniac Cop - 1988 - Dir. Lustig

Directed by William Lustig of (Just plain) Maniac fame, Maniac Cop brings together some of my favorite elements of cheesy horror movies: Larry Cohen and Bruce Campbell. Unfortunately, Cohen is only the writer of this trash and Campbell's role is reduced to being a patsy most of the time and then being a doof the rest. None of the classy Campbell acting I've come to know and love. Although, I didn't expect much being that having been interested in campy horror for a chunk of my life, no one ever really suggested I spend my time with this film. After all, Campbell's a working man and couldn't always afford to be picky with roles. Cohen's contribution is what won me over in the end. The movie feels a lot like a Cohen picture. But it most certainly is not. It's much more straight-forward and with only minor moments of humor. It has a satisfying enough climax where we get a random impalement and are revealed Maniac Cop's ridiculously scarred face (see below). Poor Robert Z'Dar has to sneer the silliest sneer I ever did see. Even for a campy horror movie, the reasoning is a little weak. Or I suppose lack of reasoning. I would have bought Ghost Cop long before Cop who should be dead but seems to survive no matter what. I mean... Really?
Yup, it's the Maniac Cop...

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Nixon - 1995 - Dir. Stone

MAN! I completely forgot Oliver Stone directed Natural Born Killers. Nixon reminded me. The style is similar, with a great deal of montages and crazy jump cuts. In a sense, livening up the nature of the film, which like Anthony Hopkins' Nixon is slow and lurching. First of all, in no way does Hopkins' resemble Nixon. It's kind of more like if Nixon's ghost possessed Hopkins. I thought it was a great performance. Very in tune with the dramatic, almost Shakespearean nature of the film. I mean, the first shot of the White House, shrouded in darkness, cut up by the shadow of the fence, a slow push in. I kind of scoffed, surprised by the... well, just surprised at the direction, I suppose. I was expecting something a little more slow and cerebral. But we have booming music, ultra dramatic lightning, and Hopkins' doing his best hopelessly tortured soul. The movie has plenty of strange insinuations, Bob Hopkins as a bat-shit insane J. Edgar Hoover, he's not just gay, he's just a weird fuck. There's also a bit of Sam Waterston as Richard Helms who at one point has jet black eyes, looking at the camera, as Hopkins says "EVIL." The film is basically epic in most senses. Most of all because it's three and a half hours long. It doesn't drag as much as you might expect from something the length of two movies but it sure ain't a walk in the park either.
Watch out Nixon! David Hyde Pierce is sneaking up on you!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

The Libertine - 1969 - Dir. Campanile

The Libertine was one of the few sexploitation films I could get on Play It Now on Netflix so I made sure to watch it. It had an interesting enough premise, following a recently widowed young woman who finds her husbands hidden apartment filled with tapes of him having kinky sex with women. This sets off a sexual awakening for our protagonist who runs off having tons of sex. The film is pretty tame for the most part. Catherine Spaak is cute enough. She's not terribly likable, sort of blase in a pretty stereotypical Italian way. Her throughline (and I realize I'm being picky) is a little tough to read. There's kind of a good chunk of confusing and vague scenes in the middle which slows it down a bit. The third act has a lot of her trying to ride men like horses which is fun enough. The ending is especially wacky. The film's soundtrack is AWEEEESSSOME! I got a real kick out of it and it created a fine tone for the movie. All of the separate scenes are entertaining, it's just that they don't really connect in a fulfilling way. Ultimately, the film doesn't really live up to its premise and like all sexploitations, you can only look at sexy ladies for so long before it gets a little dull. The movie does do its best to liven things up. Especially with a series of jarring jumpcuts. I especially liked one with a nerdy dude jumping up and down and firing a gun. OH MAN! And there's a whole thing where a girl has a live beetle for a necklace! I dug that like nobodies business! :)

Friday, November 27, 2009

Evil Dead II - 1987 - Dir. Raimi

I seem to be spending a lot of time reminiscing with movies that impacted back in the day. Evil Dead II was definitely one of those movies. Completely bonkers, often nonsensical, violent, and hilarious. Never terrifying exactly. It works viscerally, with spinning cameras ALWAYS. Raimi loves moving cameras around. I love watching him move them around. I think I definitely noticed how friggin insane he was the way made 'em move. How unusual that way. I mean, it's still pretty iconic to this day. Campbell is still tons of fun to watch even as the man has become solidified as a cult icon. I'm not sure I really noticed anything I might've missed beforehand, but I still enjoyed watching the film after all these years. I barely remembered anything when I started but things slowly seeped back.
Ain't nothing wrong with that!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

A Tale of Sorrow and Sadness - 1977 - Dir. Suzuki

OH MAN! MAN OH MAN! This movie reminded me why I'm such a friggin' diehard fan of Seijun Suzuki. It's been a while since I've seen a new movie of his and I think this was a really good re-introduction. At first, I had no fucking clue as to what was going on. The movie has a really strange way of telling an even more strange premise, which only becomes more bizarre as the movie goes on. It's about a model who is offered 3 million to become a professional golfer in the process of which she gets her own TV show and a crazy stalker. It's basically about this woman who is being molded by almost everyone. If I've gotten anything across to you, it should be that this movie is strange and confusing. In fact, it's nearly nonsensical. NEARLY, being the key word. I feel like Suzuki never gets too abstract. He seems to just want to tell a normal story in a weird way. The movie gets stranger and stranger and visually, Suzuki is just a master. I dunno, I'm gushing. I know. I guess, when a movie takes the kind of twists and turns that this one does and ends in such an explosive climax but still manages to grip tightly on a spirit of playfulness, it's an achievement. Nothing looks like a Suzuki movie when he's on his game. And more importantly, nothing feels like a Suzuki movie.
Enjoy Golf!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

sex, lies, and videotape - 1989 - Dir. Soderbergh

Independent cinema fella Soderbergh started his slow growth upon Hollywood with Sex, Lies, and Videotape, a giant super indie celebration. An all right film, I think surprisingly muted and restrained considering the subject matter but maybe I just have a tendency to think a little more... extravagantly. Certainly not my favorite of Soderbergh's but a interesting enough entry and it's easy to see how it could have made such an impression almost twenty years ago. Even back when he loved having dialogue run over other scenes and it still brings a sly smile to my face. The Man can edit. Everyone is dandy in the movie. Giacomo sometimes lays the bitterness on a little thick but apart from that I would say it was all dandy. I was especially surprised considering I'm really not much of an Andie McDowell fan. I might say I felt Spader's character felt a little more vague than I was happy with... or maybe just underdeveloped and I can't get behind the peachy-keen-ness of the ending. Things basically work out for everyone but Peter Gallagher. As well they shouldn't! Shame on you, Peter Gallagher. Shame on you.
Yeeeaaahhh! ... YEAAAAAHHHHHH!!!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Clear and Present Danger - 1994 - Dir. Noyce

Eh, I guess Clear and Present Danger was okay. It's a fine example of mid-90's political thriller. In fact, it's bafflingly all right. I suppose it might've set some kind of standard for the sub-par political thrillers churned out these days. I mean, It's perfectly Clancy-esqe. I haven't seen Patriot Games but I probably will. Let me point out, I love watching Henry Czerny. He is so good at being the type of characters he is almost consistantly cast as. I know that's kind of funny to say... being that I barely knew who the man was. But MAN! He's so good at being the type of guy who you can't wait to get his comeuppance. I think maybe the terrible appropriateness of ALL the cast is what makes the movie a little better than mediocre... or maybe the lack of glaring flaws. It's enjoyable enough movie and you know exactly where it's going to go and mostly how it's going to go down. Ford is a curmudgeon-y Boy Scout CIA Fella Jack Ryan. I'm curious to see a movie where Ford isn't at least a little curmudgeon-y. But hey, I'm not sure this a movie to nitpick. It gets what it wants done. With research battles, computer battles, people attempting to outwit each other, and no lack of explosions. The ambush scene was dandy.
Ahhh... A nice mild glass of Harrison Ford.

Monday, November 23, 2009

The Taking of Pelham 123 - 2009 - Dir. Scott

I suppose I expected Pelham to be more enjoyable. Which is why I'm so fucking mad at it, because DAMN, this movie was bland as hell. I should have expected this from Tony Scott. The man can find a way of disappointing even when the bar is set ridiculously low. Denzel and Travolta are no fun to watch at all which is unfortunate because the movie is Denzel Vs. Travolta. It's not a hostage movie. It's not a multi-charactered thriller. It's two guys talking. And the movie is pretty shameless about keeping it that way. The movie is so straight-forward, I was almost shocked. I mean, I kept expected the movie to be ACTING banal in an attempt to pull the wool over her eyes for some kind of a twist, but no, there was just that little going on in the whole fucking movie. I read in one of the reviews that Travolta as a villain is unable to get past schoolyard bully meanness... which is fairly appropriate. I don't mean to blame Travolta though, even if he's not as villainous as we might like, he can still give us a watchable performance... if some sort of decent material is there. But there is not. The movie makes a pathetic attempt to step into the lives of the hostages. Basically, there is no one in this movie other than Denzel and Travolta. There's a side of unsatisfying Gandolfini and an aftertaste of Luis Guzman, but all are swallowed but the insipid and forced conflict between Denzel and Travolta. BOOOOORRRRRIIIINNNNGGGGGG!
This is how John Travolta will dress when he stars in the remake of Grease.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Brazil - 1985 - Dir. Gilliam

Freshman year of college, I wrote a sixteen page paper on Brazil. It was easily one of my favorite assignments of all year and was rewarding on a bunch of levels. Having had to watch the film time and time again as research, I took quite a break and this would be the first time watching it since, roughly six years later. Clearly, I'm a fan of the film, having thrown out a chunk of money on the three disc Criterion. So how do I feel about the movie now that I've been through college? Well, I still love the sonuvabitch! It's hard for me to not get behind Gilliam, even at his most... uhhh... Brother's Grimm-ish. I think watching the movie around this time, I might have been a little tougher, pondering if certain cuts wouldn't have made the movie a bit better. And I'm still was mad at Kim Greist for being in the picture at all. But in the end, this movie is a classic in my mind and is so ripe with symbolism and sneaky little jokes that even having watched the movie countless times, I still find new things with every viewing. It's just THE BEST!
Jim Broadbent is up to his usual monkey business again!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Barton Fink - 1991 - Dir. Coen

Another movie I've seen before. But it's been a while. Even so, Barton Fink has always held a place in my heart and mind. Often time, since I started watching movies I viewed from back in the day. I'm starting to see little trends and how these films fed over into my writing, which I think is terribly interesting. Barton Fink, I think, must have been SUPER inspirational. I dunno, the way they handle story-telling and atmosphere. SIGH. They're just pretty damn neat is all. Even though I remembered chunks of the movie, like the Fiery ending. I forgot the little touches. Like Chet! And his crazy entrance. The movie isn't terribly interested in answering many questions and the Coen's have come out and said that there isn't exactly an over-reaching message, at least, one they planned out. But everything feels connected in a sense, the movie flows naturally. And also much faster than I remember. I had distinct memories of it dragging but as I'm a bit older and perhaps more comfortable to slowly paced films, it felt pretty light. Although, I'm not sure light is really a word you should use to describe Barton Fink. Although, at the same time, the movie is terrifically entertaining. :D
Man, John Goodman is just the coolest.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Casino - 1995 - Dir. Scorsese

I didn't like Casino. Let me make that clear. First of all, I'm not sure I saw why that movie had to be three hours long. I suppose... he's concerned with telling a very whole and complete story. But I don't know... that story is pretty repetitive and boring. Everyone behaves exactly the way you would expect them to behave and they just do so for three hours. There's some neat parts. Some interesting parts. BUT MAN, I was waiting for the movie to end pretty early on. And when you get to the ending? I felt like my last reaction was a "Huh." No one is really ever likable. Not even charming really. Or even sympathetic. I could give a rats ass what happens to these people. It's not that they're immoral or violent. It's just that they act pretty stupidly for most of the movie. I don't understand how three people exploding in Vegas could be so dull. Sigh... I seem to be ragging on the movie. I mean, it's still Scorsese... so it's not all bad. On a standalone basis, there's some neat montages and bits. Some fine music as always. And there's a lot of it. The movie sometimes seems like it wants to get through the story as fast as possible. There's more voice over than I really cared for. Joe Pesci definitely held my attention, but with a character like that, it's to be expected. So yeah, CASINO.

Forget Sharon Stone! Who the FUCK is that guy and how does he look so good?

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Persepolis - 2007 - Dir. Satrapi/Parronnaud

Persepolis looked neat. But we all knew that already. In fact, I think it might be one of the most honest trailers I've come across. I feel like everything the trailer offers you, you get. That isn't to say it's a bad thing. In fact, I rather enjoyed Persepolis. I can't admit to being emotionally stirred by it. I have a very medium feeling towards the film in general. Perhaps, I'm just too uninformed of Iran's modern history to grasp the more subtle aspects of the film. I thought I knew a decent chunk. *SHRUGS!* It's very good about letting the audience know what's going on. There's a terribly amusing bit with Iran's History with Great Britain. There's nothing terrible about the movie. It moves along as it should. It doesn't pull too many tricks. I cared, through and through, although I dunno how much I connected. Satrapi as a little girl is the CUTEST fucking thing though. I mean, it's a really great story. Clearly, the film is fine. DANDY, even. I suppose I can't really get over my mediumness feeling. It does awesome work with silhouette and shades of gray. It's a perfectly acceptable thing to watch if you're in the mood to watch a long version of the trailer.
This girl is just the cutest.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Miller's Crossing - 1990 - Dir. Coen

I was too young to really enjoy Miller's Crossing. I know that. Sure, I appreciated some elements of the film but I don't think I really got it as a whole as much. Although, I'm not sure it's really moved up too much in ranking with the others. A lot of the film feels like Coen's testing the waters. They have such a good grip on mythic story-telling though. Something I was getting a little too much of with O! Brother, but Miller's is just the perfect amount, especially in the crime genre. But I suppose, I'm always supporting 'em if there's some fine gangsters around. The film just has some completely mind-blowing moments which really stick with you. Albert Finney is just awesome, and I would have liked a bit more of Steve Buscemi. Maybe just one more scene, just to actually watch him deliver lines that fast. Although, Jon Turturro has got to be the most memorable if only for the scene where he begs for his life. Watching it through this time, though, he's just friggin' awesome in every scene. I wanna just give him the biggest high-five. I always have fun watching the Coen's in this period. They have these awesome tendencies towards excess and cartoonishness, something illustrated by their close affiliation with Raimi, who you can also see being a doof in the sweet Erin's pub shoot out.
MAN! Rolling up your sleeves all old school and whatnot! Who do you think you are, Albert Finney!?

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Caché - 2005 - Dir. Haneke

I don't know why, but all of a sudden, I'm all interested in Michael Haneke. The only movie I saw of his was Funny Games back in high school, which I loved but I think I was hesitant to watch another of his films, even the shot-for-shot US remake. My brother was watching the US version and I suddenly delved into the man. I have the remake and the original lined up to watch, but I decided to kick it with something altogether new: Caché. Haneke definitely has a bit of a auteur thing going. And the man can make a smart thriller. I do fall on the side of being an awesome film. Sure, they aren't always the most satisfying thing to watch, he's a big fan of leaving the view to speculate. But by now you should know that I have a boner for that. I like that he can be a little mean in his story telling. I like his long, wide shots. I liked 'em eight years ago in Funny Games, and I liked 'em this afternoon. Caché did nothing but confirm this: I must like Haneke. I have to say after you catch on with what the movie is doing, it's a little less interesting. So I guess there's a bit of a slump along the way, but there's still plenty of questions that need answering, and whether or not Haneke answers these questions, he handles the rest of the film deftly. Also, I was a big fan of Auteuil in the film. I've never seen anything he was in before, but he pulled off the character to a T.
Michael Haneke is about sneeze!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Old Joy - 2006 - Dir. Reichardt

I had never heard of Old Joy, which is reasonable. It's a slowly paced indie flick about two guys hanging out in the woods. I could take or leave a film with that information. I, luckily, took this movie. First of all, because it showcases the lovely area of and around Portland, OR, a place I happily spent a few months and would gladly spend some more. On pure nostalgia value alone, this movie had me going. And the movie really lets us soak in the scenery of both the woods and scenery. The two pals we're hanging out with are interesting company. Mostly because they barely speak. Well, one of 'em at least. The film doesn't hurl at us metaphor after metaphor and throw a huge tie-up monologue. In fact, this is the nice kind of movie that forces you to do some looking for the through-line. Granted, it's not terribly difficult to find, and I feel hokey saying this but a conversation after a movie like this can be pretty enlightening to see what was taken from the film. Like my favorite dramas, this doesn't behave like a drama. It's quieter. The glares we see when a character's back is turned isn't always the honest truth. In fact, the movie doesn't bother with truth. Not that it doesn't care. It just knows that it isn't that simple.
Oh man, Will Oldham. You look like you woke up under a couch.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

The Men Who Stare At Goats - 2009 - Dir. Heslov

I enjoyed The Men Who Stare At Goats as I watched it. Part of me feels though, at the end of the day, that this movie frustrated me... possibly, it even disappointed me. Certainly, I laughed a lot at the movie. And if the movie was just joking around with us, I could have been happy. But the movie had something to say. Just what? I'm not exactly sure. It's a bit funny, the movie spends a good chunk of time poking fun at the characters in the film and their beliefs, but by the end, just seems to expect us to side with them. I feel like we're sent mixed messages throughout the film. It's opinionated enough to really prevent us from exploring the concepts on our own and doesn't follow through with really anything apart from cheap jokes at the expense of New Age/Hippie ideas and bad-mouthing straights. The film also can't seem to decide whether these techniques are actually effective, consistantly making fools of Bridges and Clooney's characters while also admitting that "Maybe they have super powers." Ewan McGreggor's own little "leap" of faith feels especially tagged on. Additionally, I couldn't really buy Ewan. I'm generally a bit of a fan, but his character was just completely unbelievable, probably just because he was a thin line to tie the past to the present. Even his motivation to go to Iraq is left as: He wanted to impress his wife? The films subject matter lends it to chuckles though. And some terribly fantastic actors are telling us the story. I especially liked Stephen Lang, who was intensely underused but I was fixated on the man whenever he was on screen. It was also amusing to see Nick Offerman without a moustache.
Whose that handsome devil staring at goats?

Saturday, November 14, 2009

The Carabineers - 1963 - Dir. Godard

I can get behind a nice, smooth, and easy Jean-Luc Godard film. Like a warm beverage. You know, nothing is more soothing than a Godard film. All right, I stop being sarcastic now. I like Godard though. I'm not crazy about him. Sometimes I wanna punch him in his stinkin' face, but most of the time, I will sit and watch and enjoy a Godard film. I had been watching a lot of his Color films recently, which I honestly enjoy a lot more. La Chionese still sticks it too me. And it SOCKS it to me as well. So, The Carabineers is a black and white, which generally means its a little less visually striking to me. Tonally, it's pretty gentle for a Godard film. He pulls his usually bag a tricks what with people going on and on about this and that but it feels like its presented in a much more upfront manner than Godard is wont to. There's a direct narrative that we're following. There's also a lot of people listing things WHICH IS AWESOME! As well as extended shots of people enjoying and identifying objects in photographs. Perhaps my personal favorite was the four characters yelling french names with random zooms in and out. You know, this film is really fun. But for 75 minutes, it runs long. It also doesn't really surprise you where it ends up going. But it's fun taking the trip.

Sigh... I can't think of anything funny and its the only pic I could find.

Friday, November 13, 2009

The Warriors - 1979 - Dir. Hill

What finally got me watching The Warriors was it's description as being a movie made up of introductions. Which, having now seen the film, felt pretty apt. There is something kind of thrilling of just seeing shot after shot of RIDICULOUSLY dressed gang members (see below). And with the pumping, synthy 80ish soundtrack, there's definitely something really classy going on in the film. That's right. CLASSY. Oh, and we can a young James Remar, who was a blast to see being all youthful. Since he's generally cast of a straight-type these days, it neat to see him being a hot-head gang member. I did feel kind of funny about the way the movie treated character deaths. I don't know why, but for some reason, I kept expecting the characters to show up again, never really expecting them to stay gone. I don't know why exactly. I dunno, it kept throwing me off. The film is campy enough, and moves somewhat swiftly. Enjoyable. It's easy to see why the film has stuck in so many heads. It's incredibly stylish, it's a shame a great deal of the acting is a little dull though. Especially the lead who is just a terrible bore. The villain is a silly ass and I think I could have used a bit more of that. CAN YOU DIG IT!? Also, I fucking hated that Cyrus guy, he says as he quotes the m-f-er.

Sigh... The Baseball Furies. That's what I'VE got a bad case of.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Battlestar Galactica: The Plan - 2009 - Dir. Olmos

I was a big BSG fan back in the day, and by back in the day, I meant when the re-imagining came out. I'm not sure the series really fared terribly well in the long run. I don't think my memories of the series are BLOWN AWAY POSITIVE. Mostly this is due to the increasingly muddled later seasons. I do forget, however, that it started COMPLETELY AWESOMELY. And after watching The Plan, I wanted to get right back into the mini-series. I'm not sure if I thought The Plan was terrific or anything. In fact, it's mostly pretty one-note and paced a little slowly. It does add a neat bit of depth and is honestly weaved in impressively well with the beginning of the series from the opposite point of view. It was engaging for a BSG fan who forgot why the show was so mesmerizing to begin with. I think most of the one-notedness was the prevalence of Dean Stockwell, who I do love with all of my heart. His consistent unwavering cynicism gets to be a bit much, but its fun to watch everyone around him crumble under the weight of their task. Well, not fun, but it's certainly engaging.

Jeez, Sharon! You're ALL WET! AAAAHAHAHAAHA!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Three Days of the Condor - 1975 - Dir. Pollack

I rented this movie because the plot is based around paranoia, and maybe a little bit to do with Redford and his acting that he does. It does what these kinds of movies do so well, have you watch a handsome, overly capable guy figure out how to get out of the situation he's fallen into and then DO THE RIGHT THING. All of those things happen in this movie. Sometimes, I must admit, that Redford was a little TOO capable. Especially for someone who just "read books" for a living. I must say that I got a real kick out of Max Von Sydow in this as the noble freelance assassin. And perhaps some of the most interesting scenes are those between Redford and He. The film holds back revealing anything much about the conspiracy for quite a while and then lets loose almost all at once. Naturally, there's tons of loose ends and some pretty big leaps of reason that we must make but I suppose these films aren't exactly attempting to be realistic, rather exaggerate. Although, what with the government and all, perhaps it isn't an intense exaggeration but that's neither here nor there. The film ends in a somewhat unsatisfying manner but I think it does wrap up nicely enough. I feel like Redford was likable enough so I wanted as many details about his life after the film as possible and in that sense, we're left with a cliff-hanger. An expertly done thriller. Some exciting fights. Secret meetings. Everything that should be here is, and it's done well.

I don't see what Redford is getting all excited about. He could just escape into his collar.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Mean Streets - 1973 - Dir. Scorsese

I saw Mean Streets back in high school feeling it necessary to watch all IMPORTANT films. I think that resulted in me SEEING a lot of films but not creating too many actual memories of them. I only remembered a young De Niro and a lot of red lights and a car crash. As the film began, I got totally psyched for what I was watching. I think in retrospect, Mean Streets feels like a huge step for the modern style of film making we see a lot of gangster and action movies we see today. And it's especially interesting to watch Scorsese beginning to do things that he would master in later years (like the walking through the club shot, although its at its most charming here) which would go on to influence others.. I think perhaps being how rough a lot of aspects of the film are and how damned youthful these guys are, there's a lot of energy in the picture. It feels rowdy. Even in comparison to Scorsese's later pictures, this one feels incredibly free. These aren't the moody Travis Bickles. They aren't as classy as the Goodfella characters. The plot moves about as wildly as the characters, with a specific direction but it's apt to take twists and turns. I also must get excited about David Carridine's silly ass/bad ass cameo. Perhaps what has been sticking in my head the most after seeing the picture is DeNiro's long pointless story to Keitel, trying to get out of trouble, at one point they both grow confused as to the details of the story and they both let loose a weird cheerful Mobbed up- "Hey!" It can be weird, confusing, and cheap, but damn is it charming.

OH NO! Keitel is turning into some kind of weasel!

Monday, November 9, 2009

National Treasure II: Book of Secrets - 2007 - Dir. Turteltaub

I wasn't blown away by National Treasure, The Original. I can't really say this fared much better... although, I think this WAS the better movie. I think, in general, the first movie was surprisingly dull. This one had a lot more action and adventure in it. Really, the closer they get in spirit to Indiana Jones, the happier I get. If the third one that eventually gets made is just Nicholas Cage just watching Raiders, that would be fucking AWESOME. So, I dunno. You know, it's basically the same movie, switch out Sean Bean for Ed Harris, throw in the ever awesome Helen Mirren and that's it. You got it. They manage to find outrageous things for Nicholas Cage to do. SNEAK INTO BUCKINGHAM PALACE!? BREAK INTO THE OVAL OFFICE!? KIDNAP THE PRESIDENT!??! OMG! Naturally, Cage does all these things with the simplicity of a protagonist in a kid's adventure flick. You can't stop the sonuvabitch. Although, let me just say, I didn't give a fuck about the plot or the conspiracy. I mean... it was silly to begin with. I had no idea who Ed Harris really was. Just some kind of a jerk. A black market dealer according to wikipedia. All right, sure. That's a thing he could be. Go Ed Harris!

Uuuuhhhh... I'm solving mysteries.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

It's Alive III: Island of the Alive - 1987 - Dir. Cohen

Well, I've finished the It's Alive trilogy. Perhaps the most famous trilogy of killer mutant babies every made. And you know, yesterday, I was wrong. There aren't just MORE babies in this one. There's BIGGER babies too. And perhaps the biggest baby of all is Michael Moriarty. He does kind of give me a Giant Baby vibe in this movie. He's great fun in this movie, though. Kind of cracking jokes for a healthy portion. I feel like Larry Cohen really had hit his stride in the 80's. Being that Island of the Alive was almost ten years after It Lives Again, Cohen definitely got a lot better at making silly horror movies. Island of the Alive definitely was the most entertaining of the series, although, I must say, it did drag a bit more than the second one. Especially towards the end. Although, I can't hate- There was a ridiculous series of shots of cops. MANY cops, falling off a roof. It gave me quite a chuckle. I always enjoy when Cohen takes the time to let the movie's message speak out. He always does it in a nudge-nudge fashion. Never banging you over the head, never getting pretentious. Just showing you a connection and usually making a crack about it. Like the sudden bit about the Commies. Oh man, and any movie that has a scene end with two men, new friends, parting ways say to the other "I hope you don't have to shoot your son" both with big smiles on their faces can't be bad. IT CAN'T! MAN! I dig Larry Cohen. He's just great.

OH NO! It's killer mutant MAN BABIES!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

It Lives Again - 1978 - Dir. Cohen

You know you're in for a treat when a movie's sequels are released onto the same DVD. You also know you're in for a treat when the sequels are simply pile on the mutant killer babies. I'm actually not the biggest fan of It's Alive, as far as Cohen movies go, its probably lower on my list. Apart from the novelty of the premise, I couldn't find a ton to enjoy in the movie, especially since it was lit with a pen light for a good chunk. There's been a decent gap so I couldn't say if I liked It Lives Again more... It felt like more of the same, literally, there's just MORE babies. I might say it poses the argument a little more interestingly than the first one. In the original, it's kind of just John P. Ryan deciding whether or not he might kill his mutant baby. It's Frederick Forrest this time around but there's a bit more on the side of Don't Kill Your Baby. And they even think they can teach them to not be blood-thirsty killers. So it felt like a bit harder of a decision. Forrest is also a more interesting actor to watch. The movie is surprisingly devoid of gore or violence really, a slight disappointment considering the nature of the film. Also! The film stars John Marley from Faces. I was trying to place both him and Forrest throughout the whole damn movie. So, I guess, I would have to say, I did enjoy this movie. It held my attention but in the end, a bit of a forgettable B-movie and entry into the Cohen filmography.

Hello? This is the only screenshot of the movie that could be found? Okay.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Julien Donkey-Boy - 1999 - Dir. Korine

As I watched Julien Donkey-Boy, I enjoyed myself. Rambling characters, rambling scenes, rambling everything. No problems so far. Nothing really seemed to be coming together exactly, but I got the impression the movie was ending soon. I had been watching it for a while, after all. I paused the movie and saw I was a third through. Hrm... maybe this would be trickier than I thought. So yeah, the movie felt a little slow. Maybe not as slow after the first "act." But I remember feeling like Gummo breezed by. I think it was a little more engaging in general. However, Julien Donkey-Boy did get me raise quickly raise my hands to my head in horror/anxiety. Then I wanted to stop watching it. A movie rarely does that to me. But you know, Werner Herzog, Ewan Bremner, and Chloe Sevifsihggrey are all fantastically intense in this. I like to think that Herzog just came on the set with a gas mask and just improvised all his scenes. And there's definitely some sequences that are just incredible. The movie even features some Oval, whose chopped up glitch goes well with the glitchy editing of the film. I especially liked a scene where Julien feeds his brother Chris like a dog but we only speed through it getting seconds of it. So, the film can be pretty slow at times, and not as generally interesting as Gummo but the film certainly has its moments.

Julien, on the set of his rap video with his posse.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Love Songs - 2007 - Honoré

I don't really watch a lot musicals. I have a tendency to get a little bored during the actual singing part either because the songs are little unrelated to the plot or because I just have trouble following the plot through the song. I'm just not a terrific musical viewer. So I sort of knew that I was going to have a tough time with Love Songs. To be completely honest, I'm not entirely sure how much I connected with the characters, or really understood their arcs. In some sense, it made the film a little more engaging just because I was trying to crack these people open. Like, I wasn't ever bored while watching the movie, consistently trying to figure out where theses characters were emotionally, because we are definitely given a real distance from them, which I like. Nothing felt spelled out for us. Maybe it could also be the culture gap, I'm not sure. I did ENJOY watching Love Songs. It has an engaging enough story and the songs were nice to listen to. I'm not going to act like I know much about music but some songs had a really sweet poetic quality to them that I could get behind even if I couldn't follow the metaphors as well as I would have liked perhaps just because reading subtitles leaves me at a handicap. The film's editing definitely had some really strong points where I was just YEEAAAHHH! And the ending had a nice feel to it, if not a little sudden.

They've almost got this threesome idea figured out!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Simon of the Desert - 1959 - Dir. Buñuel

Man! I love Luis Buñuel. He's just the best. Did you guys know he's the best? So, yeah, I was a little disappointed with Exterminating Angel, I'll admit it. It was still a great movie and all, and I look back upon it fondly. But Simon of the Desert totally came out of nowhere for me. I didn't really know anything about it apart from it being about a guy living on a pillar. But it's easily one of my more favorite Buñuel movies now, and clocking in at a sveldt 45 minutes (short film!) only makes me happier. It's like having a really satisfying snack. I was enjoying the movie through and through, what with the strangely cynical depiction of religion. Simon performs a miracle of restoring a man his hands and everyone loses interest very quickly, the Man's first act with his hands is to give his kid a healthy whack. The film is filled with quirky asides where Simon consistently mutters unrelated thoughts. What really hit it home for me was the end. I LOVE WEIRD ENDINGS! The film seems to project a real enjoyment for everyone involved. Pinal said it was were favorite film to work with Buñuel on and it shows. Although, I immediately feel like anyone playing Satan in a movie like this must just have a ball. It's like having permission to run around and act like an asshole channeling modern day Al Pacino of Nicholas Cage (yes, they now always play their roles as if they will suddenly be revealed to be Satan). The film is just incredibly satisfying and functions as a really good mark between later Buñuel and his earlier work as well. It's like a 45 minute synthesis.

Simon of the Desert? More liek Simon of GETTING IT ON! YEEEEAAAAAHHHH!!!!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? - 1962 - Dir. Aldrich

I was initially learned of the film after I read a review of a script detailing the feud between Bette Davis and Joan Crawford, two actresses who were famously... well... they were Divas. Baby Jane was the only movie they worked together on, during their autumn years, in an attempt to create press and attract attention while their careers floundered. I was already a fan of Aldrich, coupled that with the premise of two aging sisters who were once actresses living together in a house, one of which is mentally disturbed ex-child star, the other whose promising career as a legitimate actress was cut short by an accident leaving her stuck in a wheel chair. The two actresses situations and the premise of the film makes it all ironic enough that the film is given another level. Bette Davis is the villain of sorts. The movie has enough respect for its characters to pigeon hole either of them, but is is clear that Bette Davis is a dangerous psychopath, but I feel like she gets kicked a lot more respect towards her than you might expect. The film is touted as a horror and there's certain some horrific elements to it. Crawford is served dead animals and locked in her room and all that good stuff. I'm not sure what it is about Aldrich's directing though, he immediately makes things a bit more interesting and up in the air. Not an incredible film, but an interesting one that held my attention to the last shot.

It's the Old Little Girl from Akira and Joan Crawford!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Falling Down - 1993 - Dir. Schumacher

A movie I had been meaning to see for years now. I think my interest in the movie depending on whether or not I could remember that Schumacher had directed it. Although, I must say, Schumacher was a better director when he couldn't get rubber nipples and afford to get his shots by basically HURLING THE CAMERA at the action and then editing the hurls together with music. I mean, I'm not saying Schumacher had a delicate touch with this film, but its certainly restrained in context. The movie follows Michael Douglas who is already basically having a mental breakdown when the film begins and his little stroll through LA which consists of him having different kinds of freakouts with different kinds of weapons. I think Ebert points out that Douglas never really has a release in the film, despite his acts of destruction. He's just a big sad sack. I did like Douglas's collection of weapons as he moves through the city. I thought that was a fun little touch. Duvall was great in this. I dunno what it is, but since Network, I've been ALL ABOUT Duvall. He throws such neat little touches into his character in the film and I was more interested in what he was doing than Douglas a lot of time. The movie is basically what you would expect from a "Guy goes nuts and starts shooting" movie. Off-hand, I don't know if I felt like I got too many different layers out of the film. There's certainly interesting contrasts between Duvall and Douglas in the film, but by the end, I'm left wondering what exactly I was supposed to draw from the movie. Maybe I'm selling Schumacher short by assuming he didn't want to let us come to our own conclusions. Although, he did direct Batman & Robin and I will never, never forget that.

Well, now he can buy a real FLY pair of specs, right? M I RITE?!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Krull - 1983 - Dir. Yates

Now, I'm not going to say Krull is the most important movie in cinematic history. Because that's just not true. I am hard pressed to say Krull is a good movie. I dunno. But they sure don't make movies like this anymore. Well, maybe they do. But I sure don't watch movies like this anymore. And I think that's just terrible! Or not. There's a real guilty pleasure in a movie like this. I watched it so I could see crappy special effects, which is what I got. But I like the imagination that goes into movies like these, the kind of balls to the wall, attitude that makes them try to film a sequence where Horses run so fast they the landscape is set aflame. And it does not look good. But that's not important. I feel like with a movie like this, it's that they DARED to do something that was so incredibly out of their reach. Sometimes, the movie pulls things off though. Like the sets in the Black Fortress. Look sweet. I won't act like they didn't. Sure, the whole sequence in the Fortress sort of falls flat on its face. But that didn't really come as a surprise. There was no way in hell the movie was going to live up to the premise. I mean, it's basically Dungeons & Dragons. Run around, form a party, get some items, get to a giant dungeon, kill the dude, save the princess. The movie does all that. With the shameless 80's cheesiness that can be seen in its ilk. I suppose if this is something that you wouldn't mind spending two hours watching, then by all means. I encourage you to. After all, you also get a CRAZY James Horner score out of the deal too.

OH FUCKING SHIT! IT'S A GLASS SPIDER! Those things are the worst, ya know?

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