Monday, June 30, 2008

I Know Who Killed Me

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Watching The Lost the other week got me to thinking about I Know Who Killed Me and how even though it was kinda terrible, I also kinda really liked it a lot. So Shenan ended up picking us up a copy, and I figure it will get repeat viewings in the future.

I mean, I understand logically that this is a poorly written movie with a ludicrous story, filled with bad acting and an overbearing visual style. But the combination of these elements creates some weird, fascinating new beast. It's like if Brian DePalma tried to make an episode of Unsolved Mysteries crossed with a slasher movie, while on shrooms. It's a failure at being a serious movie, it's a fiasco, but it's not exactly a camp classic either, it's something new. All the things that don't work about it help create this weirdass, anti-logical fever dream. it's just so peculiar at times, but not in some surreal David Lynch way, more like it doesn't realize just how bizarre it is.

I think I said this before, but count me in if this Chris Sivertson fellow ever makes another movie. I'm not sure what it is, but he's got something. You have to have real talent and vision to make a movie like The Lost, which is a well made and ambitious horror movie/character study that suffers from being a little overstuffed with characters and style, and real talent and vision to make a movie like I Know Who Killed Me, which is a unique, incredibly watchable half-disaster. One day he'll hopefully make a movie that I will enjoy with no reservations, but if not I'm pretty confident that he'll continue to make movies that are worth seeing.

Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Once I found out that Robert Mitchum starred in a John Huston movie, I couldn't resist and immediately put it on my queue. But I had been watching an unbalanced number of Huston movies at that time, and didn't feel that was in the spirit of my K2K, so I held off.

It's similar in its broad outlines to Huston's The African Queen (religious woman and uncivilized man go on WW2 adventure together), so to a certain degree it was probably trying to cash in on the success of that film. Still, Huston changes up things enough so that it doesn't feel like a rehash, and explores some very different themes. This is less of a comedy and more of a drama, and this time around the woman is a nun, making the burgeoning attraction between the man and the woman a lot more awkward. And that leads to a touch not often seen in these kinds of movies, but one that I always appreciate, where the two characters decide not to shack up. It's refreshing to see a movie where they don't contrive to kept the boy and the girl together in the end.


Saturday, June 28, 2008

I didn't expect this to be such a scathing criticism of American culture and politics. I mean that as a compliment. It's kind of ballsy for a kids' movie. America is satirized as basically becoming one giant Wal-Mart, and Fred Willard shows up as, essentially, a Bush surrogate. They even have him say "stay the course."

Of course, kids won't get any of this, I'm sure it's more aimed at the parents. But damn. Good job.

Shallow Grave

Friday, June 27, 2008

Between 28 Days Later, Millions, Trainspotting and Sunshine, I've become a fan of Danny Boyle. This is his first film, which I've been meaning to see for a long time. It's a decent dark comedy thriller, kinda forgettable, but with some good scenes. Boyle likes to blend genres, but it doesn't really work here, and I think it creates an inconsistency of tone and some structural issues.

Thursday, June 26, 2008


Wednesday, June 25, 2008

I had been excited for this for a long time. It had been on my Netflix queue since it came out, and I was waiting for it to stop being a "long wait." All the reviews I had read were positive, some even gushing. Netflix gave it a very high recommendation. It's French, and those guys have been doing good stuff with the genre recently. Home invasion themed horror movies seem to be having a renaissance lately, with The Strangers and Them, and I am all for the return of that particular sub-genre. Inside even has a great, original hook: the victim is pregnant, and the intruder is a crazy lady who wants to steal her baby. That's some fucked up shit. I was primed.

This is very likely going to be my biggest disappointment of '08, at least in terms of horror movies. This sucked. Hard. I could leave it at that, but since I care about the genre so much, I'll try to dissect things a little more.

There were probably 3 ways this movie could have gone. It could have been a slower, moodier, "something in the dark is trying to get me" film. It could have gone for a gut-punch disturbing vibe. Or it could have been a crazy, no-holds barred, over-the-top gorefest. My guess is that they were going for the first 2, and ended up with some failed combination of all three.

It starts off slower, trying to build tension, but for me it just didn't work. This is difficult to criticize, because you can't always put your finger on it, but it wasn't working. Sometimes, you see a movie where a person walks around an empty house while something lurks in the shadows and eerie mood music plays, and it's suspenseful. Here, it was not. They try all the tricks.... long shots, people hiding in shadows, ambient noise. Just last month, The Strangers used these same ideas to good effect. This time, something about it doesn't work. They don't hit the right tone, or find the right look. I suspect it might have been shot on digital, because something seemed off. They tried to make it dark and moody, but instead it looked kinda flat and fuzzy.

This is the most violent horror movie I've seen in a long time. A lot of shit goes down here, and it's pretty over-the-top. Problem is, I think the filmmakers are aiming for disturbing violence, and instead it all comes off as ridiculous. I mean, you just can't take all these arterial sprays and exploding heads and vicious stabbings seriously, they are simply too flamboyant to believe. So then, hey, I love gore, maybe it could be some fun excess, except that the tone of the movie is too serious. So it's not disturbing and it's not absurdly fun... what is it? Maybe just gorenography? I tend to defend violent horror movies against charges of being torture porn, but since the violence here is not scary, disturbing or funny, I can only see it appealing to the kind of people who get off on violence.

I was expecting more of a one-on-one scenario, with a battle of wits between the two women, but the movie kinda becomes more of a slasher film. And this is where the movie starts becoming (unintentionally, I suspect) ridiculous. The body count is way higher than I would have imagined. A whole host of people start wandering into the house for one reason or another, and the killer wipes them out in various gruesome fashions. The victims include three cops, and in a film that strains all plausibility, I found it especially hard to take that some middle aged woman with a pair of scissors could pull this off. (I shouldn't go too far down this path, though. There's so many plot holes and implausibilities in Inside that I could give them their own post). The bodies stack up so high, and the story becomes so ludicrous, that any sense of realism is gone. Especially the part where the killer shoots one of the cops in the head with a stun gun (or something?) and then he wakes up later and goes batshit crazy and attacks the pregnant lady with his baton, like he somehow turned into one of George Romero's Crazies or a 28 Days Later or a The Signal or something.

I will say this: it gets so ridiculous by the end that I did kind of enjoy the last 10 minutes or so, at least as camp. And the final image, while not really earned in the dramatic/emotional sense, is cool. It's a woman with a burned off face, sitting in a rocking chair in darkened room, cradling a baby. That's some nightmarish shit.

But this ain't a positive assessment, so I ain't ending things on a positive note. Perhaps my biggest complaint with Inside is the blandness of the killer. And that's just nuts, because this should be a great character. There's so much potential to create a memorable villain, a woman intent on cutting out another woman's baby and stealing it, and really go to some dark psychological places. Have some intense back and forth with the victim. But instead the killer is blah, and spends most of the time grunting or yelling in anger, and not showing much personality. And she doesn't look creepy, just ugly. She's not scary so much as she is kind of annoying.

So, there it is. This had potential to be one of the best, most disturbing horror movies in a long time, and instead it's probably the worst I've seen this year. What a fuckin' shame.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Lone Wolf and Cub: Baby Cart at the River Styx

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

And I thought the first one was pretty cool. Holy fuck. This is a two-fisted, super sized serving of awesomeness slammed into your face at high speeds. This one ups the ante in every way possible: it's faster paced, more stylish and, somehow, it's way more violent. There's a part where Lone Wolf (or whatever his name is, who cares) slashes a guy in the face and his whole head opens up like a clam or something. Holy fucking shit! And earlier some people are attacking LW&C, and the little baby hits a switch on his baby cart and a blade shoots out and kills one of them. Later, LW pushes the cart forward at some ninjas, and blades stick out of the wheels and cut their feet off. So even the baby is killing people this time!

Okay, I feel a little guilty raving about this ridiculous samurai movie just one day after expressing some disappointment with Samurai Rebellion, a far more complex, artistic and sophisticated film, which contained much better acting and deeper themes and, you know, visuals delicately crafted to tell a more subtle, emotional story. It's weird to call this one a great movie and Rebellion just a good one, when Lone Wolf and Cub is nothing more than a hollow exercise in style.

But, what style! Hot, sticky, unrelentingly badass style! As much as Samurai Rebellion is clearly higher art, you can't compare movies that way. It's relative to what the individual movie is aiming for. As a serious drama, Rebellion was handsomely mounted but not quite emotionally involving for me, with an ending that was supposed to be powerful and tragic, but instead felt protracted and dramatically inert. The drama in Lone Wolf and Cub 2 is worse (character development is practically nonexistent) however, it's a sterling example of a flamboyant, crazy-violent samurai action picture... probably about as good as it could possibly be.

One complaint? The lead character. He's got a great gimmick carting the baby around, but not much of a personality. Obviously he kills the shit out of a lot of people, so he's badass, but only by default. There's nothing about his non-murder behavior that makes him particularly cool. He doesn't show much emotion, but he doesn't seem stoic, just bored. He doesn't really say anything cool, except when he claims to have dedicated his life to evil, but then he goes and does something good and you know he's just lying to scare his enemies. Maybe he's kind of an asshole, but that doesn't count. Also, he seems too fat to be such a good fighter.

The character could use a little work, is all I'm saying. Maybe they'll develop him more over the course of the series.

The Enforcer

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Yeah, it seems to me that the Dirty Harry movies are a lot better when they are trying to be fun, rather than trying to be serious. This one is the most overtly comic so far, and it's actually a little weird to see how far it's spun off from the original movie. This time Harry gets saddled with a feisty female partner, and of course they butt heads because Harry doesn't think a woman can do the job, but they end up forming a respect for each other, etc etc. It's a little corny, but still mostly amusing.

It's funny, I can't think of too many series where the first movie is my least favorite. I don't mean sequels that are better than the original, as that actually happens more often than people admit, but rather longer running series where the initial entry is the weakest. I felt that way about the Bourne series, but what else besides that? Dr. No isn't the best Bond movie, but it's not the worst either.

We still have Sudden Impact and The Dead Pool left to watch, so we'll see how it all tallies up.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Samurai Rebellion

Monday, June 23, 2008

I can imagine a dude checking this movie out because of its title, expecting a badass action movie, but finding out that it's really a slow paced drama with a little action at the end. The original title of this one was Rebellion, but I believe distributors changed the title to make it sound more like an action/adventure picture. Which is a shame.

I knew what to expect. I Netflixed this one because I heard it was great, and because I'm loving Toshiro Mifune and wanted to see him in something that wasn't directed by Kurosawa. And also I'm starting to dig samurai films, and I've been watching a lot of Japanese films in general lately.

Strangely enough, I liked the slow buildup a lot more than I liked the more fast paced, action-y final 20 or 30 minutes. I sorta expected the opposite. I thought it had a fairly interesting story (sort of about the politics or governance of Japan in the Edo Period, and how certain events come in the conflict with the values of one family), some pretty b&w photography, a nice visual style (I'm a sucker for those slow zooms or pans towards a character's face as they start to boil under the surface) and good performances. But it fell apart for me when everything comes to a head at the end, especially the final scene, which dragged and didn't have much emotional impact for me.
There are some ideas I like, especially the final duel between two guys who don't particularly want to kill each other, but it all felt flat to me. The emotions don't come across... I guess I was more interested in seeing how this power structure worked than I was in the characters.

So I can give it a thumbs up overall, but I was disappointed and didn't love it like I thought I might.

Seperate thought: I'm trying to figure out what this newfound appeal of samurai movies is to me. I dig action/adventure movies, that's a given, so maybe it's just a desire to branch out in a new direction in that genre? That's probably part of it, but I think I also respect this idea of heroes with a strong moral code, following a belief system. And then, it pretty much always turns out that the system/society is fucked up, and the hero samurai has to rebel or make a stand in order to do the right thing. Or even in something like Seven Samurai, the samurai don't rebel, but the movie is ultimately a criticism of the society they live in. So there's a moral code, but also a strong message of individualism in these movies. Perhaps these messages resonate with me?

Monday, June 23, 2008

Kelly's Heroes

Sunday, June 22, 2008

I picked this up in a really cheap two-pack with The Dirty Dozen. Kinda hard to resist.

Actually, I hadn't seen this since I was a little kid, and I remembered it as being funnier. It's a big, fun, well-staged war adventure with a great cast, but as a comedy it's only intermittenly funny. That's kind of a shame, because there's a lot to like here. Instead of a comedy, it kind of comes off as a really odd, quirky war movie. I think a shift towards the serious would have helped a bit. As it stands, this is an entertaining movie that seems like it could have been a much better one.

I have no idea what the movie cost, but it looks fairly big budget. And I think it just goes to show that money doesn't help comedy. A bigger budget can help make a lot of movies better in a lot of ways, but it doesn't make a movie any funnier. This is full of tanks and shootouts and explosions and action and all sorts of big WW2 stuff, but that doesn't give any of the punchlines more zing.

So if you watch Kelly's Heroes some time soon, think of it less as a comedy and more as an adventure, and that should help. I know I won't make that mistake again.

Planet Terror

Saturday, June 21, 2008

This is like, what? The 3rd or 4th time this has made it on the blog since I started it 7 months ago? Yeesh. I am out of comments to make about it, except that it's a little weird that I actually paid attention to when we watched this one drunk, but not Assault On Precinct 13 which I hadn't seen in a few years, and not Purple Rain even though I had never seen it.


Saturday, June 21, 2008

After Roller Boogie the night before, it was hard to resist. I just queued Showdown in Little Tokyo the other day because it's by the same director and seems to be along similar lines.

Hey, Commando. Remember when I told you I'd watch you last? I lied.

Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle

Saturday, June 21, 2008

This was the first time I'd seen this all the way through since it was in theaters, and the first time I've seen any of it since the sequel came out. This still holds up as a really funny movie, more consistantly funny than the sequel, although way less topical and subversive. It's lacking the sequel's point of view, and is instead really just a fun time at the movies. I'm definitely on board if they ever make a Harold and Kumar Escape From Earth or Freddy vs. Jason vs. Harold vs. Kumar or whatever.

Roller Boogie

Friday, June 20, 2008

This came on TCM Undetground at like 3 or 4 in the morning, and Patrick and I couldn't stop watching. I feel like we must have watched something else on Friday, but nothing is coming to mind.

This is a good bad movie that may secretly be kinda actually good. I mean, it's terrible, but so profoundly silly and sometimes very entertaining, that you figure the fun might not be an accident. In fact, I'm pretty sure this is the case, since it was directed by the fellow who made Class of 1984 and Commando. Both those movies seems like below average B-movies on the surface, only upon closer inspection are a lot more fun and funny than you'd expect. Class of 1984 is probably his best overall, but Commando is such a strange and silly action picture that it will always hold a special place in my heart.

Roller Boogie has a lot of that silliness. It's a generic teen movie in most respects, except it takes place in a world where pretty much everybody roller skates all the time, and roller discos are the most popular thing ever. Linda Blair is the main character, and she's a musical genius destined for greatness, except FUCK THAT, she just wants to roller boogie. And she falls in love with a roller boogier from the wrong side of the tracks, and her parents disapprove, and then the owner of the local roller disco has to close the place down, so all the kids need to figure out how to save his business... etc.

A lot of the skating scenes are infectiously goofy fun, with all the cheesy music and disco lights and shit, and all sorts of silly shots of people doing crazy skating tricks and jumping over the camera and whatnot. A lot of the laughs come from the corny acting and writing and music and roller-boogie-ing, although they throw in some unexpected satire here and there that's kinda funny. Yeah, I kinda enjoyed this movie. It's a good bad movie that's maybe not as bad as it seems.

Teen Wolf

Friday, June 20, 2008

When I was a little kid, I used to rent Teen Wolf a lot. On a boring Saturday, I would watch it, rewind it, watch it again, and so on, until the day was over. I don't know why I loved the movie so damn much, but I did. I pretty much thought it was the best movie ever. It didn't take me too long to realize that the best movie ever was that other Michael J. Fox movie that came out in 1985. I guess I was close, though. Maybe I could sense that I had found the right actor and year for my favorite movie ever, but but found the wrong title. 2 out of 3 ain't bad.

Trivia that only I would notice: Jerry Levine plays "Stiles" in Teen Wolf. In one scene, his character wears a shirt that says "What Are You Looking At Dicknose?" Levine later when on to direct TV shows, including some episodes of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia. In one episode of said show, directed by Levine, the character Mac is wearing a shirt with the same slogan on it. WAY TO GO DAN FOR BEING THE ONLY PERSON TO CARE.

Once Upon a Time in Mexico

Friday, June 20, 2008

The best of the Mariachi movies, and also perhaps contains my favorite Johnny Depp performance? Antonio Banderas is ostensibly the lead, but he shares screen time with so many other characters that it doesn't feel that way. And then Depp comes along and walks away with the whole movie. I'm on board if they do a fourth one.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

High Plains Drifter

Friday, June 20, 2008

I'm pretty sure we had on Knocked Up and the original Assault on Precinct 13 on Thursday night, but I didn't pay much attention to either, so they don't count. I watched this one Friday afternoon, in between helping move stuff out to Shenan's car. It's a Clint western, with a spooky/supernatural/avenging angel kind of vibe similar to Pale Rider. This one's more fun (although I like Pale Rider more) and has a bit of an over the top, Leone-ish vibe to it. This is worth seeing... it's not a great Western, but memorably weird.

The Lost

Thursday, June 19, 2008

We spent the last part of my vacation in Harrisonburg packing up Shenan's old apartment, and visiting with Patrick and Chris. And if you thought my other vacation posts were bad, it's gonna get really rough here, since I'm having trouble remembering what we watched. Alcohol consumption was liberal, and now the sequence of events is a little hazy for me.

This was the other movie in the Jack Ketchum set, and I was extra excited because it was directed by the fellow who did I Know Who Killed Me. If you haven't seen that one, it's a movie where Lindsey Lohan becomes a double amputee and has her first sex scene, and it's one of the most fascinatingly bad/good horror movies in recent years.

This is legitimately a better movie than that, and in fact it's got a much nicer visual polish than The Girl Next Door did. I liked it. The director is definitely a showoff, that was clear in IKWKM, and he could tone it down, but at least he knows how to point a camera in a dynamic way. That counts for something. Although, he does way overuse pop/rock/metal music blasting on the soundtrack to underscore nearly every scene. Knock it off dude, leave that shit to Scorsese.

I felt like there was potential for a better movie. It starts off with a bang, then slows down and becomes one of those movies where you know the main character is a nut and it's just a matter of time before he cracks, so there's a lot of suspense building under the surface. The buildup, sadly, takes way too long and the movie loses the tension as a result. Then, when he finally snaps, it doesn't have the same impact. We've been expecting it too long.

I think enough of it works, and I really liked the lead performance. The guy kind of looks like a better looking version of a young Crispin Glover, and is almost as good at going over the top. But mostly he's great at just creating this bizarre character and letting him simmer... it's a very peculiar and original kind of nutcase, and the movie is equal parts horror and character study, which I dug. I think the final result may be a failure, but it's an interesting failure that I mostly enjoyed. Count me in if this guy makes another horror movie... I'd like to see him try for a genuinely good one, but another crazyass I Know Who Killed Me would be good, too.

The Leopard Man

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

I've been slowly seeing all the movies in that set they put out of old Val Lewton-produced black and white horror movies, and I've been pleasantly surprised with how much I've liked all of them so far. I saw the Leopard Man/Ghost Ship DVD for really cheap and couldn't resist. This one is another directed by Jacques Tourneur, and it's another solid old horror movie. Pretty entertaining, and very well shot.


Wednesday, June 18, 2008

I suppose it's not a shock to find out that the remake is not a good as the original, but I guess I kinda thought this was the right combination of director and material. If anyone could make a great movie out the premise of trucks full of nitroglycerin riding through bumpy jungle terrain, William Friedkin seemed like the guy.

The problem is that he takes too long getting to the premise. The first half of the movie involes a lot of complicated backstories that don't much effect the plot, and actually don't seem to develop the characters much. In fact, the opening half hour seems to be made up of little action set pieces with little to no context to make you care about what's happening. I suspect maybe it was an attempt to add more action into the early scenes, but it drags. They should have gotten to the trucking sooner.

Once the real story kicks in, the movie kicks off, and the 2nd half is pretty fantastic. In fact, there's an extended sequence on a rickety bridge that's better than anything in Wages of Fear. I have to say, it's been a few days since I watched this, and the second half of the movie really sticks with you. So this is definitely a worthwhile one.

I have to give Friedkin credit for keeping the nihilism of the original. It doesn't have the part where two guys die and you never find out how (well, they still die, but you do see how it happens), but it keeps a lot of the same road to nowhere feel, and has an ending just as dark. I didn't like the ending at first, I thought it felt like they threw in a poorly set-up twist for no reason, but the more I think about it, the more it fits this movie's sense of doom. In fact, although I still think the first half of the movie is a bore, it does make the movie seem even more nihilistic, since a lot of characters die before their backstories or subplots ever pay off.

That's Friedkin's style, though. A lot of his movies have a sense of weirdness and ambiguity, and even though he's made a few big hits, they never quite feel mainstream. There's the ending of The French Connection that leaves you hanging. The opening of The Exorcist that is strange but never quite seems to fit in. There's Cruising, a slasher/thriller that feels like it's missing a plot and any sense of resolution. And here we have an action thriller without any chance of a happy ending.

Wages of Fear

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

I love double features. There's something about pairing movies together by some common theme that always gets me excited. I''m thinking of maybe trying to institute a "Double Feature Monday" or something like that in the near future.

On Wednesday, I did the klassik Wages of Fear in a double feature with the William Friedkin remake Sorcerer. Wages was directed by the fellow that did Diabolique (which, come to think of it, I watched a few years ago in a double feature with the terrible 90's remake), but this one is a lot better. This is a great suspense film about a bunch of guys who have to drive through dangerous terrain in trucks filled with nitroglycerin. One false move, and boom.

I think the movie is intended to have a political message, but what really comes across is a surprising amount of nihilism. You don't see that in movies much (at least, not as much as I'd like). It's all suspense and buildup, with a kind of road to nowhere ending. I think my favorite touch is when two major characters die offscreen. You get the gist how they died, but never exactly how it happened. The surviving characters just end up brushing it off and moving on.

One flaw? I like the guy who plays the main character in this, but Frenchmen do not make convincing tough guys. He even has a neckerchief he wears the whole time. Yeesh.

The Manchurian Candidate

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Well, no shock here, but this was a lot better than the shitty remake they made a few years ago. I didn't exactly find the original to be a great movie, but it was pretty entertainingly oddball for an older thriller. This may be the first Frank Sinatra movie I've ever seen, I guess I've always been reluctant because I'm not a fan of his music, but he was pretty good here. So who knows, maybe he'll end up on my queue some day in the future.

Spiderman 3

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

I'm in the camp that thinks this one got a lot of unfair shit heaped on it when it came out. It's definitely my least favorite of the trilogy, but I think it's still a top-notch superhero movie, and it's way fucking better than Iron Man, the runaway critical and commercial success of which still confounds me. I don't get it, man. I guess I'm just out of touch. We're living in strange times.


Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Hadn't seen Freeway in years... what happened to the Reese Witherspoon who used to make movies like this and Election? This is way better that one of her generic romantic comedies, or his hysterics in Rendition.

This is another movie I was surprised to see that Andy owned.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The Girl Next Door

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

This is not that crappy Risky Business knockoff. This is a creepy, disturbing, low budget horror movie I bought on a whim in a two-pack of movies based on Jack Ketchum books. I have never read one of his books, so I'm not exaggerating when I say it was a whim.

Anyways, I thought the movie looked a little flat visually but overall was pretty effective. It's got a lot of disturbing stuff, most of it involving young kids, so I think a lot of people would probably hate it. But I can respect a movie that does this kind of thing well.

The Signal

Monday, June 16, 2008

This is some fine low-budget horror film making here. We have a sorta The Crazies or Grapes of Death situation going on, where a broadcast signal turns people into murderous lunatics, and a bunch of survivors are trying to figure out how the hell not to get killed. The real fun here is how the movie plays the paranoia angle... who's crazy? Who's sane? Are some of them vacillating back and forth? We even switch to the crazies' perspectives a few times, find out what's going on in their heads.

Good shit, I'm gonna have to see this one again.

Across 110th Street

Monday, June 16, 2008

Well, surprise surprise, Across 110th Street turned out to be my favorite movie from the Blaxploitation Triple Feature. It was the most entertaining, had the best acting, and was visually the coolest. And again, good music.

Although once we got about halfway in, I wondered if it was technically a blaxploitation movie. Yeah, it's an early 70's crime movie with a predominantly black cast, but it looks like it had a way bigger budget than Shaft and Super Fly, and a white dude plays the lead. Maybe this was more of a studio crime picture? Maybe I fucked up. Oh well, I still dug the movie.

Super Fly

Monday, June 16, 2008

This was directed by the son of the guy who directed Shaft, but I guess the student has surpassed the master, or whatever, because Super Fly was a lot better. It's still not a great movie, but it's a solid crime flick of somewhat complex morality, slickly shot and with good performances. Also, really good music, I'm noticing that's a trend with these movies.


Monday, June 16, 2008

Sorry for how brief these posts all are, but I'm on vacation, I'm lazy and I'm watching a lot of movies, so I'm not trying very hard when I write these.

I thought it was about high time I did a triple feature of klassik blaxploitation films. I like crime movies and shit like that, so this is a pretty major chunk missing from my catalog. I picked three klassiks from the genre that I thought were must-sees: Shaft, Super Fly and finally Across 110th Street, which okay fine isn't really that famous, but I thought it looked good and it has a bitching theme song.

And you know what? I wasn't that crazy about Shaft. I can see why it's an iconic movie, what with that awesome theme song and strong, black hero, but it's a pretty mediocre detective story, and not well written. And I wasn't too impressed with the character of Shaft. I like my detectives to be flawed, complicated people. Shaft is kind of shallow and one-note, he's just a "cool" superman type, more of a Mike Hammer than a Phillip Marlowe. But he's not even really that cool. I mean, Richard Roundtree, the actor who plays Shaft, seems cool. But Shaft the character doesn't seem to do much cool stuff. The movie keeps telling you he's cool, you know, they write that check up but they never cash it. Shaft doesn't really have any memorable dialogue, and his action scenes are few and far between. Maybe he gets cooler in the sequels, I dunno, but I suspect maybe people just fell for the awesome theme music and didn't play close attention to the movie itself.

Anyway, Blaxploitation Triple Feature is off to a bad start.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

The Best Years of Our Lives

Monday, June 16, 2008

You thought those coming home scenes in Born On the Fourth of July were sad? Tom Cruise was only pretending to be in a wheelchair. The guy who plays Homer in this movie actually lost his hands in WW2 and had hooks in their place. Talk about uncomfortable.

In all honesty, I tend to find older dramas to not be very effective. I think maybe it's the mannered style of acting from back then. But this movie is a really good one, and genuinely moving at times.

Live Flesh

Sunday, June 15, 2008

This may be the last entry in Shenan's and my Spanish-Language-a-thon, since I think we're out of suggestions at this point. This is another in our backwards journey through the films of Pedro Almodovar... I thought we'd stop after All About My Mother, but I'm glad we didn't since this one was pretty good. I don't know if we'll go any further, though, as I feel like the other's aren't supposed to be as good. I dunno, we'll see.

The Incredible Hulk

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Well, I was already perfectly content with Ang Lee's Hulk myself, but apparently the rest of the world begs to differ. They're all like, "how dare anybody try to make a slow and thoughtful comic book movie. We wanna see shit get smashed!" So here it is, the shit-gets-smashed version of Hulk.

It's not bad, I liked it. Hell, I'll be the only person ever to say this, but I liked it a little more than Iron Man. I gotta give it up to the filmmakers here for finally not doing an origin story... I am so fucking sick of origin stories.

You know what the biggest problem with this movie is? I think it might have been a problem with the original, too. As cool as some of the action is, you're completely disconnected from it, because you don't associate the Hulk with Bruce Banner. I mean, logically I understand they are the same person, but since the Hulk looks and acts completely different, and is obviously a special effect, you don't get the sense that it's Bruce inside. He's just this big CG thing, not a character. For me, the movie's best action scene was the first one, where an un-Hulked Banner is getting chased by the military. Since we kinda care about Banner, it's more exciting. Then he turns into the Hulk, and it becomes an empty (if somewhat entertaining) technical exercise is special effects.


Saturday, June 14, 2008

No, I did not count an episode of the hit TV series House, M.D. as a movie. This is a horror film from the 80's about a Vietnam vet who is either going crazy or being haunted by ghosts.

What's interesting here is that the story suggests it could be a serious horror film. Had it been made in the 70's it would have been directed by someone like Wes Craven or Bob Clark, and it would have made a statement about the Vietnam war. But instead, it's the 80's so it's more like a special effects driven horror/comedy. And actually it's a half-decent one, not a klassik but it is fun.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Stray Dog

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Well, I'm still dragging my feet on seeing Kurosawa's Ikiru, so here's another more genre-y movie. Not one of Kurosawa's greats, but I still thought really good. It's what I like: a well done crime movie with some classic set pieces, and with a lot more heart/humanity than you'd expect in a movie of it's kind.

Shock Corridor

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Slipped in a Sam Fuller movie on Saturday. This is not one of his best, but it is the most peculiar one of his I've seen. It takes place in a mental institution, and my favorite part is there's a black guy who believes he's a white supremacist, and he puts on a clan hood and goes on a long rant, liberally using the "n" word. Crazy shit!

The Long Good Friday

Saturday, June 14, 2008

I'm not doing anything for my vacation, so that means I hope to watch a bunch of movies and work a little on my K2K. This is a late 70's, British gangster flick that I've always heard was good. And it was top-notch, with a great performance by Bob Hoskins.

The music here is interesting, it's sort of this electronic thing that's very much of the time period. Sometimes it sounds like it could be the score from an Italian horror movie, which is awesome. Sometimes it sounds like it could be the background from MacGuyver or something, which is not so hot.

The Phantom of Liberty

Friday, June 13, 2008

Can I count movies I've already seen for my K2K? Why not! This is a great one, possibly my favorite Bunuel film. It's a straight up absurdest comedy, lacking any real plot. Just a bunch of sketches connected together, like a Monty Python movie or something.

Friday, June 13, 2008

George Washington

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Alright, now I am beginning to understand all this affection for David Gordon Green. This is a great movie.

A few years back I saw Green's Undertow, and was underwhelmed. It started off good, but somewhere in the middle it began meandering, and then slowly worked its way to a stunningly ineffectual and cliched ending. Since then, I've become more familiar with Terrence Mallick, and I think I read somewhere that he was a big influence on Undertow, so maybe if I see it again I'll have a newfound appreciation. But I disliked it enough that I steered clear of Green for the past few years.

Until I found out he was directing Pineapple Express, which is possibly my #1 most eagerly anticipated film of the year. So I figured it was high time (pun retroactively intended) to give the dude another shot, and I'm glad I did.

It's kinda like that movie Mean Creek (starring Josh Peck, who I am convinced should be the next big thing) that came out a few years back, only way better. I remember thinking that Mean Creek was a pretty honest movie about being a teenager that totally spins off the rails in the last act after a major twist in the plot, after which it stops feeling realistic and instead feels contrived and melodramatic. George Washington is an even more honest movie about being a teenager that has, more or less, the same "twist" but handles it so much better. Even though the behavior of the characters in GW is more extreme, and perhaps less "realistic," it's told with much more emotional honesty. Also, it came first so now I'm left wondering if Mean Creek is kind of a ripoff.

This is a sad story, but told with a lot of humor and humanity and insight, so it never really drags you down. This could have been a depressing slog through dark material (and don't get me wrong, that's not necesarily a bad thing), but instead it really gives you a charge. And I got to give it credit for one other thing: superficially, it almost seems like it could be another insufferable indie quirkfest, but it's not. It's its own thing, a funny, poetic meditation on youth, and the fragile nature of life. Love it.

Gates of Heaven

Thursday, June 12, 2008

It's about time I got to watching a documentary for my K2K. Documentaries are cool and all, but I never find myself in the mood to watch them. With so much great fiction out there to see, it's hard to pull myself away. I'm the same way with books.

Errol Morris is considered pretty much the god of documentary filmmaking. I had only seen one of his movies before. The Fog of War. I think I was in high school at the time. And I'll be honest, that movie was too smart for me. I can't even remember what it was about. Something about a guy named McNamara and stuff about Vietnam? I think? I don't know, I'm not bright enough for that kind of shit. It's why I'll likely stay away from Standard Operating Procedure.

(I just looked up my rating on Netflix, and apparently I gave Fog of War 3 stars. I probably just did that to feel smart. It would be more accurate if I left it unrated.)

Morris' Gates of Heaven is much more my speed. Ostensibly, it's about people who work at pet cemeteries, but Morris tends to just let them ramble on about themselves, their lives, their philosophies. It's a real charmer.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Play Time

Monday, June 9, 2008

It had been 5 days since I had watched a klassik, I'll admit it. That was a lack of kommitment on my part, and I apologize. Next week, I'm on vacation, and I plan making up for lost time. And I think I deserve some credit (kredit?) for Play Time.

This is the kind of movie I admired a lot more than I enjoyed. I have never seen another movie like it in my life. It is entirely its own beast, and you always have to respect that. This is clearly the work of a very talented filmmaker. It's hard to describe, but everything is filmed in wide or medium shots, in some strange parody of an urban environment, with all sorts of intricately staged action going on. There is not really a main character, or character development, or any dialogue of substance. Lots happens, but there is no clear plot. The "cast" is massive, but almost everyone seems like an extra. Significant action is just as likely to take place in the background as it is in the foreground, and there's so much going on that it's not always clear where you should be looking. It's almost like its Where's Waldo: The Movie or something; you have to study every shot closely to see everything going on. My words aren't doing it justice.

I think it's a comedy. Maybe. Certainly much of it is very clever, and some parts are funny. More often, though, you just marvel at its uniqueness, its strangeness, its vision. Not a lot of laughing. It's brilliant, I think, but not always exactly entertaining. I can't put my finger on it. It's like an aburdist, slapstick silent comedy where instead of Buster Keaton or Charlie Chaplin, an entire city is the main character. Not just the inhabitants, but the physical structures themselves. Like it's from God's eye view or something.

Well, I'm glad I saw it, and it's worth seeing again some day, but it's hard to say how much I liked it. Some of it is very funny. Some of it felt tedious and started to drag. Pretty much all of it is exceedingly clever, maybe brilliant, but my appreciation of it was more intellectual than emotional. It's like the dialogue in a Shakespeare comedy, it's well constructed and very clever, but doesn't actually make me laugh.

Puddle Cruiser

Sunday, June 8, 2008

As far as low budget comedies by first time filmmakers goes, this isn't Clerks, but it's still funny. I like Broken Lizard, although Beerfest wasn't as good as their other stuff. Puddle Cruiser is a little sloppy, and there are too many subplots and side characters that don't go anywhere, but overall it's a funny movie.

The Broken Lizard guys all look too old to be college students, though.

Monday, June 9, 2008


Sunday, June 8, 2008

So Argento is a fellow who, by most accounts, probably peaked earlier on in his career, back in the 70's, and it's been a downhill slide since then. I'd argue that he still makes some good ones, even if they aren't as good as they use to be, but it seems clear his best work is behind him.

Stuart Gordon is another matter. He started out with probably his best movie, the fucking classic Re-Animator, in the mid 80's, and had a pretty good period there with From Beyond and Dolls. Then he really seemed to flounder during the 90's. He tried new things, but they mostly suck/are supposed to suck, and he did some bad sci-fi like Robot Jox. Even something like Castle Freak, which is deliberatly reminiscent of his 80's work (right down to the fact that it's a Lovecraft adaptation), is pretty shitty. Actually, it was at that point that his producer, Brian Yuzna, starting directing reasonably entertaining movies that shamelessly ripped-off Gordon's style. Kind of like when Ozma was releasing all that good, Weezer-esque music during Weezer's sucky period.

But now in the 00's he's been making something of a comeback. Dagon was a half-decent throwback to his 80's stuff (and another Lovecraft adaptation), and then he did King of the Ants, which is an awesome, offbeat sorta noir-ish movie that rivals Re-Animator for his best work. He did two of the best episodes of Masters of Horror and a pretty good David Mamet adaptation. Unlike the 90's, he's been able to try new things with success. So whereas Argento's new flick sorta comes with lowered expectations, Gordon is on something of a roll.

Well, although Argento will always be my favorite, and Gordon will probably never make something as great as Deep Red, I have to say that his new movie is much better than Dario's, and it continues to prove that even 25 years later, he's one of the best directors working in the genre. Stuck is probably not quite as good as Re-Animator or King of the Ants, but it's a solid horror/thriller that generates a respectable amount of tension and excitment as it rolls along. It also features some strong acting... Stephen Rea is always good in everything, but I was surprised/impressed with Mena Suvari's performance. She kinda flirted only briefly with fame, and you might think she'd be bitter working on smaller genre movies now, but she really seems to give it her all. She had a producing credit, and even does a nude scene, so I'm thinking she was into making this one.

Like most of Gordon's recent stuff, it's different than his older movies but still recognizably his work. We have the graphic violence, gross-out moments, dark and flippant humor, and a scene of hot female nudity that suddenly turns disturbing. All the stuff he's good at, but infused with this new depth his recent films have had; better character development, social criticism, etc.

Any way, you can count my ticket as already sold if Gordon ever gets House of Re-Animator starring William H. Macy off the ground.

Mother of Tears

Sunday, June 8, 2008

It's a great time to be alive. This weekend saw the release of not one, but two highly anticipated horror movies from two of the greats of the genre, Dario Argento and Stuart Gordon. I have the coolest girlfriend in the world, who was not only willing, but actually enthusiastic about doing a double feature. Life is sweet.

First up is Dario Argento's Mother of Tears, the completion of a loose trilogy of films about evil witches, following Suspiria and Inferno. And the main thrill here is... well, Argento is an all-time favorite of mine, and for the first time in my life I saw one of his films in the theater. That's a real joy right there, and I'm glad I finally had the opportunity. One day I hope to catch a revival of one of his klassiks, but if that never happens then at least I'll have been to one. It's a milestone.

As for the film itself... I'm gonna have to go ahead and label it "For Argento Fans Only." It's got serious problems. You have to take it for granted that 9 times out of 10, in an Argento picture, the acting won't be too hot (and often poorly dubbed), and the story won't always be entirely coherent. Sometimes this actually works in the movie's favor. I mean, it's all the strange acting and weird, counterintuitive plot developments that give Opera a real unique feeling. And Inferno probably wouldn't be any good at all, if it weren't for it's dreamlike, illogical story. But the problem here is that there is SO MUCH acting and plot, and none of it is good, and it dominates much of the movie.

There's this part in Suspiria that I absolutely hate, where this one guy, in a rather long winded fashion, explains the backstory to the heroine, which essentially boils down to "witches exist." But then he tells the heroine that he knows someone else who is more of an expert, so this other guy comes out and even more longwindedly explains that, um, there are witches. And the thing about Mother of Tears is, it's probably made up 30% of scenes like that. Maybe more. People rambling on and on and a plot that isn't particularly hard to grasp, and not very interesting. All performed by characters who seem over-developed, yet completely without personality.

As far as the triolgy goes, this isn't as beautifully shot and stylish as Suspiria (in fact, I'm super dissappointed that Argento dropped the over-saturated color look of the first two films), and it's not as nightmarish and structurally fucking crazy as Inferno. It's easily the worst of the three.

Yet, I still liked it. It's true that I'm more forgiving of some of his recent work than most others (I'm actually quite fond of The Card Player) but it's clear that Argento isn't what he used to be, and will probably never reach the heights of greatness/style/lunacy that he did in the 70's and 80's. So once you accept that his klassiks are behind him, you can watch the movie for what it is, and enjoy what he does well.

And what he does well here is extended sequences of batshit crazy violence and debauchery. This is probably his most violent film, and at times really wallows in some gross-out moments. In places it's almost like a slicker, more skillful version of a Lucio Fulci movie. There's disembowling, flaying, baby murder, cannibalism, hacked-off limbs, slit throats, a spear up the vagina, not to mention scads of copious sex and nudity, including lesbianism and some extreme sadomasochism. This is an obvious comment I'm going to make, but the best parts of the movie are when Argento plays to his strengths, i.e. contrasting his classy (though baroque) visual style with his impulses towards lunacy and sleaze. There's an electricity to all the scenes of lurid sex and violence here unqiue to Argento; nobody does debauchery quite like him.

He's not the stylist he used to be, but he's still got some of the old magic, and he'll never stop being a fucking nutcase. I mean, even his shitty movies are more interesting than 90% of other horror movies. No one else has ever quite captured his brand of weirdness, so it's comforting that Argento is still churning them out.


Saturday, June 7, 2008

Andy's away on a trip to Connecticut, and I went through his movies Saturday and it kinda blew my mind that he had this one.

Heathers gets a lot more credit from me for its balls than for final product. Ostensibly it's a dark comedy, and there are a couple of big laughs, but I think mostly you appreciate it more conceptually than anything else. And I don't mean that as a negative, exactly. The movie is so peculiar and unqiue, a dark, cynical teen comedy with a weird, dreamlike feel to it, that you got to give it up for Heathers. It's not a great movie, but it proudly does its own thing, and does it in an entertaining manner.

Kung Fu Panda

Friday, June 6, 2008

More support for my theory that animation is a great medium for action. It really lends itself to unbridled visual imagination, and Kung Fu Panda has a lot of sights I never expected to see in a martial arts movie... especially an elaborate "fight" over a dumpling, with a lot of creative uses of chopsticks.

For the record, I loved Kung Fu Panda. It's fun, funny, visually beautiful, has great action scenes, and a few moments of real magic. If I make a Top 10 list for this year (and I probably won't) this would have a good shot of making it on there.

Friday, June 6, 2008


Thursday, June 5, 2008

Man, I guess Shenan and I got too caught up in Homicide and Weeds and all that, and we totally forgot that it had been our "thing" to watch some Spanish- language movies. I think it had happened by accident, when I started watching Pedro Almodovar movies and we both started getting into Gael Garcia Bernal, and we realized we had been watching a lot of Spanish language movies and we should just go with it.

We're trying to pick it back up again, although with new seasons of Weeds and Rescue Me out now on DVD, and like 4 seasons of Homicide left, and our newfound love of Six Feet Under, who knows if we'll remember to keep it going.

This was Shenan's pick, but I was rather curious to see it once I did a little research. Why? It was directed by Juan Carlos Fresnadillo, who did 28 Weeks Later, one of the best horror films of the last several years, and a rare sequel to a great horror movie that does the original justice. After watching Intacto, (which is not a horror movie) I think this guy's got the goods. It's one of the more captivatingly oddball movies I've seen in a while, which manages to create a dark and fascinating tone out of a ludicrous premise.

And guess who's in the movie? Max Von Sydow. And what a career this guy has had. He's been acting for, what, a billion years now? He started off working with Ingmar Bergman, has been steadily working since the 50's, still lands roles in major films by people like Spielberg and Scorsese, but has also found time in recent years to show up in smaller, artier fare (Snow Falling on Cedars), weird-ass Spanish language movies (this one), and he even managed to squeeze in an Argento movie (Sleepless). I love this guy!

Thursday, June 5, 2008


Wednesday, June 4, 2008

At last, I think we have a more legitimate claim to counting towards my K2K, what with the Oscar wins and noms, and the 4-star Roger Ebert review. And if I recall from reading that Syd Field book on screenplays many years back, he really lauded Witness for having a perfectly constructed screenplay.

Which is funny to me, because although I thought this was a good one, my main complaints are with the screenplay. Besides some possible plot holes/implausibilities (I'm actually pretty forgiving of this sort of stuff, unless its glaring) the big problem is that they set up this little Amish boy as a major character, then pretty much forget about him during the second half of the film. They try to establish some sort of surrogate father dynamic with him and Harrison Ford, but then it really drifts in to the background as Ford starts becoming, um, surrogate husband to the kid's mom. So when the kid and Ford have a little moment at the end, I think the emotion is lost.

I'll be honest, I know romances play much bigger at the movies, but I would have been way more interested to see the movie focus on Ford and the kid, as the kid grows more attached to him. I mean, I guess we wouldn't have seen Kelly McGillis's tits that way, but still.

Speaking of Harrison Ford, I love the guy, but I still have no idea if he's a good actor. To clarify: he's a great actor in the sense that he's a great movie star, you just love watching him. He's got "it," whatever "it" is, and that's a big deal. But I'm not sure if he's a good actor in the, you know, creating original, nuanced characters and really exploring their depth sort of way. He tends to play variations on the same character (not a bad thing, I mean isn't that what we love about Humphrey Bogart, or Cary Grant, or Bruce Willis, or Seth Rogan, etc etc and so on?). Even in a totally non-genre movie like Working Girl, he plays that same kind of gruff but lovable and ultimately good person that he is in Star Wars or Indiana Jones. I should go back and try to watch some of his earlier pictures, back before he was a movie star, and see what kind of work he did before he established the Harrison Ford persona.

One of the reasons I picked Witness for my K2K was director Peter Weir. He did some excellent movies like The Truman Show and Master and Commander, and also the excruciatingly awful yet somehow beloved Dead Poets Society. (Witness falls somewhere in between, at "okay.") What interests me is that he has that sorta Curtis Hanson thing goin on, where his movies don't seem to have much in common except for the fact that they are often good. It kind of flies in the face of the auteur theory, which says that a director has a unique style and vision and repeating ideas and motifs that he brings to every movie, making it recognizably his. So you know next time you watch a Kurosawa movie, there will probably be something about society doing harm to the individual, and also there might be samurai. Or when you watch an Argento movie, you know someone in a tranchcoat and black gloves will murder a bunch of italian girls, and then some dude will see a clue in the beginning that he obsesses over and doesn't figure out until the end, and it'll basically be a slasher version of Blowup. Or when you watch a Paul Thomas Anderson movie, expect it to be long and have a lot of daddy issues. Or when you see something by that other Paul Anderson, Mr. Paul W.S. Anderson, you can expect a ragtag group of stereotypes to fight monsters while a clock ticks down and they have to get out of there before a bomb goes off or they are locked in a laboratory or hidden temple forever. Also, you can fully expect it to suck.

Anyway, I think my point was that I might watch another Peter Weir movie in the future.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008


Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Again, you can dispute this one's Klassik status. Still, part of the point of my K2K is to broaden my horizons, and I am woefully ignorant of blaxploitation films. I have some leave coming up and will be taking a week off work this month, and I figure I'll be doing a few marathon movie sessions. And I am strongly considering doing a blaxpolitation mini-marathon, just to knock off some of the more famous examples. I am eyeing Shaft, Super Fly and Across 110th Street.

I saw Foxy Brown a few years back and liked it, and here's another one with the same writer/director and same star. Overall, it may actually be more entertaining than Foxy Brown, although it doesn't have a payoff as good as the severed dick in a jar. One guy does get shot in the dick, that was alright.

Update 6/5/08:

A surprising number of my posts have been half-assed lately. Not intentionally, but for example yesterday when I was writing up Coffy I was feeling kinda sick and not much in the mood to write, and I completely forgot to make the one point I actually wanted to make. This happens sometimes. The worst is when I'm lazy and I just do some brief description of the movie and flatly state whether or not I liked it. That's exactly the opposite of what I set out to do with this blog. I don't want to review movies or just say if I liked them. I'm not doing plain value judgments here. I want to discuss some aspect, or background information, or even just some tangent that I find interesting. I like when I describe what lead me watch a movie, or how a movie fits into a genre or director's body of work. I like when I compare and contrasts movies. I like when I just talk about some other topic the movie made me think of. That's what I'm here for.

What I wanted to mention about Coffy was some thoughts I had about the feminist politics of it. Because on the one hand, we got this ass kicking, totally awesome heroine played by the great Pam Grier headlining an action/crime movie, which is way cool and progressive. But then on the other hand, the movie keeps subjecting her to possibly denigrating acts. I mean, for a large chunk of the movie she goes undercover as a prostitute, and actually sleeps with the horrible, manipulative pimp! Yeah, she fucks him over later, but only after she sacrifices her dignity to him. I wouldn't expect such a badass to lower herself like that. And she's constantly seducing the bad guys and kind of putting herself out there as a sex object. The movie, I think, wants to have a pro-female empowerment message, because she uses all this to get this best of the evil men and prove her womanhood (hence the penis shooting), but it still seems like she has to tarnish herself first.

But then I thought, hell, James Bond fucked a billion evil women just to manipulate the bad guys, and I never think of him as degrading himself. Maybe I'm just buying into some sexist, caveman notion that by fucking around, Coffy's somehow lowering herself.

I'm still conflicted. In Foxy Brown, Grier's character actually gets raped and then kills the guys who does it, and I remember thinking... why go that far? I mean, she's a strong female lead, how about having her kill the dudes before they rape her. In Coffy, there's a part where she seduces this weirdo misogynist guy who likes the beat up and humiliate women, because she's planning on killing him. She actually lets him push her around a little bit before pulling her gun out. Why did she wait that long? I'll give the filmmakers the benefit of the doubt and suggest that they aren't reveling in this for entertainment's sake (well, I mean, I'm sure they are to a certain degree, this is after all an exploitation movie, but I'll give them the benefit of the doubt that they aren't misogynists), and that they just really want us to hate these assholes before Coffy kills them. And I guess that's fair. But I think if Coffy narrowly avoided these attacks instead, the movie would feel more legitmately pro-asskicking-women.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Magnum Force

Monday, June 2, 2008

I don't know, I guess this one's K2K status is debatable, but I liked it enough that I'm marking it. It's a somewhat older film from a popular series that I hadn't seen... that kinda counts, right?

Shenan and I, just as a thing to do together, like to watch different series. Usually we try to get into a TV show together, and then work our way through the DVDs. But sometimes we'll try a movie series, too. Way back some time last year, we decided we'd give the Dirty Harry series a try. And weirdly enough, it was Shenan's suggestion, I think because Netflix recommended it, even though I can never get her to watch an action movie under any other circumstances. She even seemed kind of excited, even though she had repeatedly refused to watch Clint Eastwood movies with me in the past. I think it's because Dirty Harry isn't a western. Basically she won't watch any movie where Clint Eastwood wears a cowboy hat, no matter how good you insist it is.

Dirty Harry was an okay movie, but I'm a little befuddled as to it's fame and, yes, klassik status. Obviously Clint is good, and there are definitely some memorable scenes. Still, a lot of it is mediocre and pretty cliche/standard cop movie stuff, and its more outlandish details mesh horribly with its serious, straightfaced tone.

Shenan and I were still on board to check out the sequels, but for whatever reason that never happened. There was some lack of enthusiasm for the first one, so I guess that probably slowed us down, and eventually we forgot about it.

Well, I finally remembered and figured it was high time we continued on. And as it turns out, Magnum Force is way better than Dirty Harry. It's got a better story, better action, is more stylish and overall just more overtly a 70's cop movie, complete with a jazzy score and show off-y camera work. I like Don Siegal a lot, and clearly in the long run he had a better career, but I think Ted Post, the fellow who did this one, did a better job. Magnum Force is, first and foremost, a lot more fun than Dirty Harry was. I think it has fewer pretentions of being a cop drama, and realizes that it's more of an exciting, crowd-pleasing action picture. So we get more action, a little more humor, more sex, less moralizing. Enough so that I think I will bestow it with the respectable title of "Minor Classic."

My favorite thing here is that it sort of turns the themes of Dirty Harry on its ear. Of course, the original is seen by many as an argument for right-wing, fascist-style police tactics. I.E. Harry should pretty much be able to stomp all over everyone's rights and freedoms, just so long as it gets the job done. Magnum Force takes it to the next step, where there is a group of renegade cops who are going around assassinating those they deem deserving of death. Harry discovers them, and they assume that he'd be on board for this sort of thing, but no. Harry draws a line in the sand, and says that while our current system is fucked up, it's way better than the cops appointing themselves judge, jury and executioner. It gives us a better idea of where Harry falls on the politcal spectrum.

Well, I have no idea if the others are going to be this good, but definitely count me as looking forward to The Enforcer.

Monday, June 2, 2008

The Strangers

Saturday, May 31, 2008

It's a nice feeling when a much anticipated horror movie lives up to my expectations. The Strangers looked to be a mature, serious and genuinely scary horror flick. Horror movies mean a lot to me, so I take this shit pretty seriously. I was worried at first that it was going to be a let down, because it opens with a bunch of unnecessary text, made worse by the fact that a narrator also reads the text outloud. It doesn't provide any useful information, and they read it to you like you're a fucking baby. I mean, seriously, what the fuck?

But then what followed was a well-made, well-written, well-acted, tense, creepy horror film, another bright spot in what I think has been a good era for the genre. I see it's getting a lot of comparison to Them, because they are both home invasion themed, but the treatment is really a lot different.

It did remind me why I hate going to see horror movies in the theater sometimes... people in the audience who won't shut the fuck up. I don't get it, man. Movies like this rely on passages of silence to build tension, but there's always a few assholes in the theater who can't sit still if it gets quiet for more than a few seconds, and they have to start talking and chime in on their thoughts like anyone gives a shit. Just watch the fucking movie.

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Because we're all a bunch of thoughtless assholes in my family, we all went and saw the new Indiana Jones without my dad, despite his repeatedly expressed interest in seeing it. So Andy and I thought it would be nice if we went and saw it with him, since we kind of screwed him over before. Anyway, it's still a great movie.

Lone Wolf and Cub: Sword of Vengeance

Friday, May 30, 2008

I'm starting to get into samurai movies. This one is a lot of good, violent fun, the first in a series, and I will have to check out more.

I remember when I was a kid, there was a shitty comic called Nomad, where some superhero guy went around with a little baby in tow, and now I realize it was totally a rip off of this. Great legacy.

Actually, you can tell that this film/series was a big influence on Kill Bill, particularly the House of Blue Leaves Sequence. There are a lot of sword fights chock full of arterial spray and severed limbs, so over the top that you can hardly believe what you're seeing some times. Nice.