Sunday, July 31, 2005

The Fly II (1989)

They're talking about the eighties there...

Genre: Sci-Fi Horror (USA, Canada, UK)

Starring: Eric Stoltz (The Prophecy; Killing Zoe), Daphne Zuniga ("Melrose Place"; Spaceballs)

Directed By: Chris Walas

Overview: This sequel follows the son of the original 'Fly', Seth Brundle, as he lives and grows in a research laboratory, the ultimate question being: Is he fated for a Metamorphosis as well? (Uh that picture? That's some OTHER dude, really.)

Acting: The acting is better than in the original, granted, but how does it hold up on it's own? Again a touch of the 80s, and the bearded editor / journalist drunk guy, still as melodramatic as ever. Is it any wonder we don't see him in movies anymore? Eric Stoltz is still around and he does well, Daphne, however, is about as popular as Molly Ringwald in my books...
Rating: 7

Cinematography: The gore is frikken phenomenal. The gore effects are some of the most memorable that I've seen. There's this one scene that has me asking, "How did they DO that?", but I won't ruin it for you. Let me just say that this is better than the original again. There's no interpretive high art or lame dark or bland sets. It's good stuff.
Rating: 8

Script: The writing, however, decent as it may be is pretty standard stuff. The secondary and tertiary characters have the most predictable and overly archetypical dialogue. Unfortunately in the first 10 minutes, you know half of the people who die, by their detestableness in dialogue. I guess it's less than good.
Rating: 6

Plot: The unfolding of this is pretty predictable too. Boy is born, boy has the world's most unique accelerated growth syndrome in the world, and lives in a research facility, boy meets girl, boy kisses girl, boy mutates into a giant acid-spitting bug. But after all the cool effects there's an underlying social commentary, and one of the best endings in 80s sci-fi history, I think.
Rating: 8

Mood: The mood isn't as haunting and frightening as it could have been, but that one line: 'What a beautiful light', as Brundle stares into the blue bug light? Definitely not all bad. There is this atrocious scene though where the couple dances to really shitty country music... It really seems to come out of nowhere and has nothing to do with the setting or theme. It bothered me.
Rating: 6

Oh... oh hoho, my God as if I even have to add to this genius of cheese...

Overall Rating: 70% (Doesn't Get Under Your Skin Like It Should, But Good)

Aftertaste: This is a damn good movie. And it's a sequel. And it's better than the original, which isn't saying that much but I really like these films, a lot. To find them in a single version where both of them are on the same DVD? I like this new trend in compression technology. I was talking about the future of DVDs with a buddy, and we've come to the conclusion that more and more films will fit on a single DVD, and that's a good thing.

Murderball (2005)

"Everybody glint your wheels and blind them all!"

Genre: Sport Documentary

Starring: Mark Zupan, Joe Soares

Directed By: Henry Alex Ruben, Dana Adam Shapiro

Overview: This is the documentary of the rivalry between the Canadian and American quadriplegic Wheelchair Rugby teams who eventually compete for Gold in the 2004 Paralmpics in Athens.

Acting: The unscripted and natural portrayal by these people is astounding. It's like they have no idea there's a camera in front of them. The only person who seems to make any play for the camera is the Canadian Coach's son, and he can walk. The characters here are given just enough focus. It's like the director knew that the Canadian coach and the American Zupan, and of course that 4 month new quad are really the only ones we care to study at length.
Rating: 8

Cinematography: The images were fine and all, I mean that intro is great, the little graphics and all, but I really would have liked to have seen more of the actual GAME being played. From what we saw, there were no exciting moments captured. It was 'guy with ball gets to end zone' then cut to 'other guy with ball gets to end zone'. Well what about those plays where they stop the guy with the ball? And I don't mean just the ones where guys get chucked outta their chair. Good otherwise.
Rating: 7

Script: The words are unabated. Zupan is unforgiving, the recently injured quad is touching, and the coach is relentless, holy jumpin'. He'd rather have a heart attack than stop screaming. When you watch this, the characters tell you little secrets of the life and I'm talking real secrets here. It's fun to learn, let me tell you.
Rating: 7

Plot: The way this unfolds is great. The Canadian Coach twist is a very dramatic tale which adds good rivalry. The Canadian element and the rooting for the home team is offset by our love for Zupan, and in the end no matter who wins and who loses we really feel for the teams. That ending scene after the game is over is tear-jerking. It's a movie more about the condition, it's a doc that's more about the game. It's human and it's dramatic and it was a real fun trip.
Rating: 8

Mood: The mood is unrelenting determination at this sport, versus the new guy having to get used to life this way. From denial to acceptance is a really long way, and we get that. Once these people become players however, boy do they ever give up on giving up. And hey, can't go wrong with songs by Ministry.
Rating: 8

What the...! WTF! He's not allowed walking! NO WALKING!"

Overall Rating: 76% (Killer!)

Aftertaste: I got what I expected and a little more. At this stage in life I can pretty much guess how it's going to be just reading a little bit about it. I have faith in the filmmaker and in the documentarist to make what I expect and want to see. This went a little further and told me things I didn't know, and aside from watching a rivalry come to a head, I learned a lot along the way.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

The Fly (1986)

That's actually the original quote from the original film.

Genre: Drama Horror Sci-Fi Thriller (USA, Canada, UK)

Starring: Jeff Goldblum (Jurrasic Park; Deep Cover), Gena Davis (Thelma And Louise; A League Of Their Own)

Directed By: David Cronenberg (Dead Ringers; Naked Lunch)

Overview: A man builds a teleporter, and like all fanatical scientists, falls prey to his own experiments.

Acting: The curse of the 80s... Melodrama. Yes it's good, but in that big hair, too much big everything else kind of way. Yes, big is the way of the 80s and it's prevalent here, but I think it was a sign of the times. Hell, who knows, maybe in the 80s we were less jaded and it's us looking back at a time that no longer exists, but did then? What a messed up spatial conundrum huh? Well, you know what? It's not really, if you compare to "A-Team" and "MacGuyver"... then you see that argument as lame as the acting was. Sorry Brundle, you're over the top.
Rating: 6

Cinematography: The images were pretty standard, but the gore effects were pretty fancy-pantsy, I must say. And they weren't stingy on it either. Nothing high-art here, but it's fine.
Rating: 7

Script: The script seemed to waiver between really believable, and far too explanatory for this to be an audienceless, realistic dialogue between people. Sure she's a journalist trying to learn, but if I was a scientist still waiting on a patent, I'd shut my frikken yap.
Rating: 7

Plot: The story on the other hand is a nice flow for a metamorphosis plot. Kafka's got nothing on this guy. The fanaticism grows, the madness and the mutations, the inner struggle, awesome stuff, climactic ending!
Rating: 8

Mood: When I noticed that Davis Cronenberg directed this, having made other such films as eXistenZ, Naked Lunch, and Dead Ringers, it became obvious that his hand was in this. He really seems to enjoy warped and twisted freak fusions of alien things. I was quite pleased with the mood of this film, though I wished that there was more twisted and less logic in the transformation.
Rating: 7

"What? What? Do I have something on my face?"

Overall Rating: 70% (Not the Biggest Buzz, But Still Fun)

Aftertaste: Definitely better than the original, this one sadly does not have the famous 1958 quote, "Be afraid... Be very afraid" Wow. I liked it. It's a little more melodramatic than what I remembered but the progression from man to fly-thing is believable and the motivations of the "Brundlefly" are trés realistic. Good stuff. I, myself, liked it tons more than the rating I gave it.

The Sopranos Season 5 (2004)

Name that sweet necro ass!

Genre: Gangster Crime Drama

Starring: James Gandolfini (True Romance; 8MM), Lorraine Bracco (The Basketball Diaries; Even Cowgirls Get The Blues), so many others...

Directed By: Timothy Van Patten ("The Wire"; "Sex And The City"), Allan Coulter ("Sex And The City"; "Millenium"), so many others...

Overview: This HBO hit series tells the tale of a New Jersey Mob Boss in his work, his life and his underworld doings. 5 years going, and still going strong.

Acting: The acting in this is more than exquisite. Gandolfini is one of our favorite characters. As a boss he's terrific. As a father and husband, he's believable. As a man torn up in therapy, he's human. The characters, from Christopher and all that crew to the sensuous Doctor, from the Gardener to the restaurant owner, even to his wife who only has two-lines, everyone plays such a part as to be memorable. If you haven't watched this, I'm surprised. Honestly, what are you waiting for? I know it's a commitment, but it's a worthy one.
Rating: 9

Cinematography: The images too are simple yet bleak. That overwhelming undeveloped bland look of a turnpike and a reservoir with some nice houses strewn about. Tony and his criminal counterparts drive around in Maseratis, Hum Vees and Escalades, while around them the world they sow and reap remains dark and molested. The look of this show is impressive. The ultra-common seems to make it less about the mood and more about the reality that all this could be taking place. And man, what a house.
Rating: 8

Script: The dialogue is consistently funny, poignant, important and ridiculous while always telling and serious. HBO has always had amazing writers, and they don't stop here.
Rating: 8

Plot: The fifth season, and it's still good? It's better than good. I actually prefer it to the last one. They're doing such an amazing job. HBO also seems to know when to stop a good thing. They never seek to jump the shark... Except for Adabissi in Oz. Why?! why?! But enough of "Oz", we're talking about Sopranos. Great beginning, great middle, terrific last 3 episodes, OH MY GOD SO GOOD! The Meadow plot though, einh, they seemed to have left her out of this one. She'll be back with a vengeance though, I can feel it.
Rating: 8

Mood: Crime pays, or does it? Always the conflict between the two. Life in organized crime is dangerous and exciting. It's like nothing else in the world, it's dramatic and exacerbating. Mood goes a long way in my books, and this is rife with high quality soundtracks et al. Can't go wrong here.
Rating: 8

"You wanna run him over again!?" "...kinda..." "Yeah me too..."

Overall Rating: 82% (Marone, That's Effin' Good!)

Aftertaste: I am so impressed with this show in general. Season one was quaint and almost a comedy. Season two and three seemed to follow a tale of character creation and mood building. Four even more of the same with more heavy drama. You'd almost think that they were out of ideas with season five. Well Hell, let me tell you that this is full of surprises and high-art. This show makes me realize what television is all about, and thank God for the DVD Season explosion. I can watch all this stuff as my leisure, commercial free. What I liked best about this is that every episode is it's own and you're not waiting for what happens in the end like you may be with other HBO presentations like "Oz" or especially "Carnivale". Amazing stuff, really immersive. Seriously.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Pulp Fiction (1994) * TOP 5 *

See cause it's like some old pulp magazine, get it?

Genre: Gangster Crime Drama

Starring: John Travolta (Face/Off; Michael), Samuel L. Jackson (Snakes On A Plane; Shaft)

Directed By: Quentin Tarantino (Grindhouse; Jackie Brown)

Overview: This is the story of a crazy couple of days in the lives of Gangsterdom. Breakfast, Brains, Boxing and Bondage in perfect unison.

Acting: The all star cast is a definite plus. I remember when I first saw this in theaters, saying to myself, "John Travolta is back and in a big way. He is what's IN, and will be for a good long time." Now he's buying 11 million dollar blimps. Uma is Killing Bill, Jackson is a Jedi and Willis is Harrigan in the Sinnest of Cities. Everyone in this is successful. Quentin knows how to pick em, and they know how to act.
Rating: 9

Cinematography: From the cheesiest moments where Uma says, "Don't be a..." And the dotted line square appears, to the hippest Batman twisting Travolta. From the action packed adrenaline shot to the back of Marcellus Wallace's head, it's art. Not the highest of art, but the most artistic of the mundane, a perfect blend of common denominator and twist of innovative.
Rating: 8

Script: My favorite: "This doesn't look anything like the car that came in, that's amazing!" "Let's not start sucking each others dicks just yet, boys."
This is superb. You find yourself repeating line after line of brilliant dialogue, and laughing or 'Ooo'ing at the insinuations (I'm gonna get medieval on his ass). With a hundred lines to walk away with, the highest rating is given because of their staying value. All terrific. Not poetry, but honest wit.

Rating: 10

Plot: Tarantino has a thing about twisting the plot into three or four distinct little chunks. Nowhere near erratic as 21 Grams, Tarantino plays his cards when appropriate, splitting up the story in such a way that makes you go, "Uh what happened here?" On top of everything else you're going through, it's a nice touch. Kill Bill, Reservoir Dogs and this? Don't mess with perfection. As for the actual tale? As if! Three distinct stories, all terribly entertaining and lesson filled. What are you waiting for?
Rating: 9

Mood: Ok fine, you all can guess that I love Quentin Tarantino's 'Written and Directed by' films. Well do you know why I love his stuff? He's original, he's innovative and people come out of the movie, TALKING about the movie. Even if they hate it they talk about it, and you see that smile eventually in that "oh it's not all that bad after all" kind of way. Mood is what makes film, I've always said. It's about the look and the feel and how entrenched into the director's universe you get. If you can place yourself there and enjoy the ride, then the director has won. Period. Quentin's Pulp Fiction has one of the best moods in any film, Ever.
Rating: 10

I hear Travolta's next movie's going to be called Observe Who Is In Improbable Discourse As Well.

Overall Rating: 92% (A Must See Repertoire Film, Worthy of Hours of Discussion)

Aftertaste: Do you remember when this came out? How big the hype was, how long the thing was in theaters for? Wow, I do, and was I ever setting myself up for the biggest fall ever, pumping it up so much in my mind. Well it happens sometimes that you have tremendous expectations and you're in love with what you get. I saw this in theaters more than once, and as soon as it came out on Pay-Per-View, I ordered it with a bunch of friends over. Good memories is all I have when I think about this movie, and I still love it more and more every time. I mean it's Pulp Fiction. Do I even have to tell you how good it is? Don't just see it, own it. It's as repertoire as you're going to get. Can you believe I had that same poster as up top on my wall for years? Awesome. Tarantino's best so far.

Suspect Zero (2004)

"Sooo.. case closed then right?"

Genre: Crime Thriller Horror Drama Sci-Fi

Starring: Ben Kingsley (Ghandi; Sexy Beast), Aaron Eckhart (Thank You For Smoking; Conversations With Other Women)

Directed By: E. Elias Merhige (Shadow Of The Vampire)

Overview: An FBI agent is on the trail of a serial killer who can use clairvoyance to find his victims. What is serial about him? He only kills other serial killers. Vigilante, or poetic justice?

Acting: Ben Kingsley? Sexy Beast? Come on. House of Sand and Fog? Pff. GHANDI? As if! Anyone who plays a part aside him is cramping his style. Sadly, the other actors don't hold a candle to him as they did in the other aforementioned films (which are all recommended). They play passable roles, but Kingsley? Oh my God.
Rating: 8

Cinematography: The images and the visions are pretty cool in that dark way, and the delivery is very well maintained throughout. It's not so much frightening as it is great suspense. Not so many 'jumping out of the corners' scenes. The psychic freaking out on the page with a charcoal pencil? The near-crane cams? Very worthy, very dark. Good stuff.
Rating: 7

Script: The writing is pretty cheesy at times, admittedly, but it's still good and bleak and dark and apropos. Yes, the characters who crown Kingsley seem to be written in a much poorer fashion, but the dialogue is solid, if not a little too leading by the nose. You know the whole common denominator thing, made so that stupid Americans get it. Well I'm a smart Canadian, and I get it fine. Stop cramming it down my throat.
Rating: 7

Plot: The story's a good one for a crime drama. Granted it's rote and there's the whole, 'will the future happen like the visions say' and that sort of thing, but there's never any great suspension of disbelief, everything flows well. Decent. A couple nice twists and turns along the way.
Rating: 7

Mood: The illustrations honestly make half the movie. As I was telling a friend of mine, if I were an artist, this is the sort of artist that I would be, this is my style. The art sets the mood of the film rather well, as does Kingsley's character. Dark and brooding with a slightly hurried rush and a certain element of fear.
Rating: 8

"Weird, it smells like the bodies of 20 serial killers out here, WHEW!"

Overall Rating: 74% (Zero Doubt That This Is Good)

Aftertaste: I was expecting basically a big turd that Kingsley made a mistake in working on. They I realized half way through, he's a smart guy, he doesn't pick bad movies, what was I thinking? Why do I listen to those people who say it's not that good? In all honestly I have learned recently that film lovers live in different degrees, Hobbyists, Hardcores and Fanatics. Fanatics spend their life doing film, Hardcores learn about film and see lots of movies. I can put myself in the one-third towards Fanatical hardcore Hardcore film aficionado. I know that you may not like this, but add dark to Kingsley to cool illustration to murder? Come on, you know me well enough to know I'd like this, regardless of what people say, regardless of the fact that I like most of what I watch. I actually liked this better than the rating I gave it, just so you know.

Friday, July 15, 2005

Run Lola Run (1998)

How many women of the cloth does it take to change lightbulb? NUN!

Genre: Action Crime Drama Romance Thriller (Germany)

Starring: Franka Potente (The Bourne Identity; Blow), Moritz Bleibtreu (The Experiment; The Keeper: The Legend of Omar Khayyam)

Directed By: Tom Tykwer (Paris, Je T'aime; Perfume: The Story Of A Murderer)

Overview: Lola has 20 minutes to find and bring 100,000 Marks to her boyfriend, Manni. Run Lola...

Acting: Both these actors have gone on to make other films that I've seen, The Experiment (Moritz), and Anatomy (Franka). Point being that these guys did such a good job that they secured themselves a lifetime of roles, if they stay on the right track. Good stuff, really great portrayals. Papa's character, the guy on the bike, the banker, the guard, the bum... All really well done. Great direction.
Rating: 8

Cinematography: The images are all cool and hip, with dramatic zooms, and even the occasional welcome cliché (like that ambulance). The character credits are spectacular, real original stuff, and the photo cutscenes of the futures of the people that Lola passes by is really original. When I first saw this in theaters, I knew that film after this would definitely has some Lola influence. Definitely Innovative.
Rating: 9

Script: The writing overall is pretty awesome. Some well written and unexpected twists in Papa's office add the element of "yeah there's other crises going on in the world". As for the introduction, the grand explanation of what the whole premise of the film is going to be about? Nice set up. They deliver everything you need in record time, and jump straight into the action, at which point the dialogue is rather appropriately slender. Terrific.
Rating: 8

Plot: Without ruining the surprise, let me just say that the entire premise of this is damned original and super-cool, and that's just the twists I'm talking about. The plot itself, the rushed, quick-thinking, edge of your seat race against the clock and the seemingly insurmountable quest of getting so much money in such little time...Seriously lots of fun.
Rating: 9

Mood: There are few movies that are about the sountrack as much as the story. I went and bought the soundtrack it was so good. Today, I can tell you that those techno tracks are a little dated, yes, but they still hold their own and they set the pace of the film perfectly. And as for the hint of danger loving, crime cusping couple, that too adds to the whole feel, and did I mention those credits?!
Rating: 8

Franka could not wash her hair for 7 weeks during the shoot as the red would have washed out and faded.

Overall Rating: 84% (Run Out and See This!)

Aftertaste: This, I've seen about 6 times now, always presenting it to my guest as a must-see repertoire of Modern Foreign Action. They've never been disappointed, and I've never heard anyone say that it was no good. Definitely memorable.
Don't worry, you'll like it.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Jack The Ripper (1976) * WORST EVER * * FAVORITE REVIEW *

"Please kill me. Spare me the taint of being a part of this production!"

Genre: Drama Crime, Passably Horror (Switzerland, West Germany)

Starring: Klaus Kinski (Fitzcarraldo; Nosferatu the Vampyre), Josephine Chaplain

Directed By: Jesus Franco (Bloodsucking Nazi Zombies; The Erotic Adventures of Frankenstein)

Overview: This is a bullshit recreation and utterly false retelling of the Jack the Ripper story. The only similarity that this holds to the actual tale is the fact that there was a killer in Victorian England.

Acting: The acting was not aided by the overdubbing. There was quite obviously so little celluloid that they had to trust that the actors movements would be good enough for print, and in the meantime, translate with the worst voice actors you could EVER imagine! I didn't think that the quality of the voice acting could be so terrible. These people doing the voiceovers must have had one take, and then returned to the porn moans and groans that they were paid to do as the brunt of their workday. TERRIBLE!!! The only thing that saves it is the homo queen who acted as the constable's voice. Certainly his tragically flaming voiceover was INTENDED to be comic? Honestly I thought that this was a joke for the longest time, then I was insulted on behalf of every gay person I know when I found out it wasn't.
Rating: 2

Cinematography: The special effects gore was so bad as to have been better left to the imagination. I don't know what the producer was thinking, giving a rubber hand to the crew as a prop. Worse yet, they zoomed in on it several times and the characters played with it during that horrible scene. Remember when you went to 'Bill's Joke Shop' and found a plastic rubber hands in shrink wrap hanging off a hook on one of those spinning racks? Remember how those cost a dollar? I'm not shitting you. It's that bad. They did the same with a pair of breasts and added the worst blood effects ever. How hard is it to go to a butcher and get a pint of cow's blood? At least it would gross the actors out properly, instead of their terrible non-method stoic display. Mental note: never focus on terrible props. On top of it ALL, the night scenes were too dark, so add the amateurish camera work too. GOD THIS WAS TERRIBLE!
Rating: 1

Script: This was written and directed by Jesus. You'd think he'd provide less suffering and more salvation. There's nothing 'Messiah' about this. I looked him up. He makes shitty Spanish horror and vampire films, and what's worse, terrible sequels to popular films that I've never even heard about, like Revenge in the House of Usher. That means really, really bad. Moreso, it makes him a poseur. This guy sucks, and worse, he's still directing / producing / writing. You offend me sir.
Rating: 1

Plot: The story is nothing like the original murders of several prostitutes of 1888 Whitechapel London, nowhere NEAR to the facts. Why name it Jack the Ripper? Because chumps like me will go out of their way to see it, thinking it's another perspective of the Hughes brothers From Hell. Well it's not. The plot is terribly weak, revolving around a man who is a doctor and kills whores, and seems to like to revel in the low-budget blood effects. As for the protagonist's investigation into the crime itself, Jesus help me it's a waste of time and celluloid. That this piece of garbage ever survived for 30 years makes it eligible for sainthood.
Rating: 1

Mood: The mood? Are you kidding me?
"Set a film in Victorian England."
"Ok what else, Boss?"
"Hmm.. I hadn't thought that far. Maybe throw in some death and overdubbed hookers?"
"Ok. Deal. Anything else?"
"Pff. What are you? A perfectionist? Ok fine. Make it too dark, too unrealistic and too stupid for words."
"Uh, ok but.."
"You heard me!"

This gets a point for having oversized dresses, corsets, puritans and fog.
Rating: 2

Dude, you need a mirror when you're shaving! Look at you now!

Overall Rating: 14% (Complete Shit - On the Bell Curve of Film, There Technically Should Only Be One Movie That Can Possibly Reach 10%. This Is Far Too Close. Worst Movie Ever, Not In A Good Way. Burn This, Please Lord God)

Aftertaste: You will never have heard of this movie. You will never see this movie on any television channel, nor will you see this available for rent anywhere. The DVD for this movie will never exist. This movie can only be found in a portal to the past, in a place to where Elvira, Mistress of the Dark exists to torment our little minds and show us what fromage horror cinema is really about. I rented this from an obscure independent, as research, on Jack the Ripper. Guess what? Instead of finding what I was looking for, I found what can safely be, for decades of my existence, the worst movie EVER. A plainly, boringly, idiotic production that makes me want to hurt this producer.

I think this is the worst movie I have ever seen.

I am honestly not kidding. I'm seriously thinking of writing this guy hate mail.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Cemetery Man (1994)

Poor guy. First he buries em, then he shoots em in the head...

Genre: Fantasy Zombie Horror Comedy Romance (Italy, France, Germany)

Starring: Rupert Everett (Shrek 2; The Madness Of King George), François Hadji-Lazaro

Directed By: Michele Soavi (Stage Fright; Demons 3)
Overview: We follow the lonely life of a cemetary groundskeeper as he kills the zombies that re-awaken after being interred.

Acting: The acting is oddly varied. This is the kind of movie where you wonder if this was done on purpose (which I think it was) and comes just shy of pulling off brilliance, or one of those films with terrible actors being guided by a directionless director. It's not quite six of one / half a dozen of the other, but I'll just say that this movie's acting is hammy yet good and oddly enthralling, in that "What the Hell is going on?" kind of way.
Rating: 7

Cinematography: This is amazing! A low budget film with real effort put into the look, the scenes, and especially the angles and the art. There's a definite touch of Old European High Art in this low butdge zombie flick, and I was pleasantly surprised. I thought low-budget film classics like El Mariachi had to be appreciated for their story and script. After seeing this, no way... Get a guy who knows how to use a camera.
Rating: 8

Script: The script... Is it bad or is it unpolished genius? I can't decide. The writing is as strange as everything else in this movie, and it's funny too, in that aformentioned "What the Hell is going on?" way. On occasion though, it's so confusing as to be laughable... and that makes it funny. See the problem here? Just submit...
Rating: 6

Plot: The plot is very, very, very, very strange. Not because there's a woman obsessed with death who keeps recurring in different personas. Not because our hero's little assistant is akin to an Igor gimp with half a brain... but because when you THINK the plot is going one way, it takes you another, and when a series of events should conclude rather logically, the story goes intentionally on the wierdest path you could imagine. So much so that often you might find yourself lost. You have to submit to the folly that is the path of this plot, but after all was said and done it makes very little sense, especially the ending. For lack of direction is gets lower marks, but for being outrageously wacky it regains.
Rating: 6

Mood: WEEEIIIRD! You think you're going one way, then it runs off into the wilderness. The zombie mood is consistent throughout, yes, but how disjointed is this? You'll be more confused, yet amused. It's a messed up sort of dark quirky comedy, or it's a hammy, occasionally laughable zombie film with some interesting characters. You decide. Either way, it's prevasive.
Rating: 8

I'll give em this much, this chick is super awesome

Overall Rating: 70% (Dig It)

Aftertaste: The scene where the girl meets the Igor looking sidekick (seen above) is quite odd. She smiles at him. He barfs on her because he's so nervous. She falls down and laughs then right away gets up and jumps on her buddy's motorbike and they drive off, all in 20 seconds. This strangeness happens throughout the film, and ultimately it will always be remembered. But is it good? Let's just say it's confusing.

Batman Begins (2005)

He's not ACTUALLY a bat, he just uses them cause they're spooky, hope I didn't ruin anything for ya...

Genre: Action Adventure Crime Fantasy Drama

Starring: Christian Bale (American Psycho; The Secret Agent), Michael Caine (Sleuth; Around The Bend)

Directed By: Christopher Nolan (Memento; The Prestige)

Overview: Gotham City is rotting. The metropolis needs a saviour. The Dark Knight is born.

Acting: The acting! I mean look at that lineup! I would have liked to have seen a bit of a darker Oldman, we know he's so good at it, but honestly this movie's portrayals are amazing. You will not be disappointed in the least.
Rating: 8

Cinematography: The only thing you will regret are those nightmarish scenes, for they are far too short. "The horror is most effective in short bursts" I suppose they'll say, in that incredibly effective style used in The Ring. I guess I wanted more of an eyeful in that one too. This is one of the most gorgeous movies you will see this year, no doubt. Gotham is bleak, and it's damn pretty to watch.
Rating: 9

Script: The writing had one or two groaners that seemed out of place for this brilliant production, some comic one-liners, some cheesy romantic moments with Katie Holmes, but I was stunningly surprised at the fact that the motives and characterizations were elaborate, and assumed that the audience was intelligent, instead of that tragic T3: Rise of the Machines blow stuff up mindlessness. I just wished the horror of the Scarecrow had been more. I wish he'd had more lines, lots more scary, freakish lines.
Rating: 8

Plot: The story is amazing! The end is amazing, the middle is amazing, the beginning with the training, that didn't need to go on so much, quite obviously this was there to appease the marketing guys with all the overzealous explosions and close calls, but once we get back to Gotham and the transformation begins, a fire wouldn't have dragged me out of that theater.
Rating: 9

Mood: The I started seeing what they did with the fear, and with the theme of fear, and the expectation immediately jumped to the top. I wished for more darkness, and I hoped for more cackling madness. It WAS there, and the film had so much perfect focus too, but half way through I knew it wouldn't be all about the mood that I truly wanted. Wow though, this is still great.
Rating: 9

And the long-awaited for romantic kiss...

Overall Rating: 86% (Terrifyingly, Heroically Great)

Aftertaste: In a way I was disappointed that it only was this good. People raved and ranted about how great a movie this is. Damn right it's great. Run out and see this in theaters right away, honestly, the DVD will NOT do it justice. I loved this movie and you will too, but I was hoping for a little more. The could have cut down on the training a little, drawn out the end a touch more and upped the creepy dialogue, a madness inducing Arkham Asylum scene. I drempt of perfection and I didn't quite get it, but Christian is getting to be my new favorite actor. Ever seen The Machinist? Good stuff!

Friday, July 08, 2005

Star Wars III: Revenge of the Sith (2005)

Tribute poster or cheese loaf?

Genre: Sci-Fi Fantasy Action Adventure

Starring: Ewan McGregor (Big Fish; The Pillow Book), Natalie Portman (V For Vendetta; Garden State),

Directed By: George Lucas (THX 1138; American Grafitti)

Overview: Episode Three, the prequel to Star Wars, where Anakin Skywalker succumbs (looks towards?) to the dark side of the Force to achieve his goals.

Acting: The acting is decent. Nothing grandiose to be expected here, no Oscar winning moments, but the dark side? Really damn dark, sir, yes indeed. I was actually quite impressed with General Grievous's voice acting, he was quite the decent character. Samuel though, I really didn't see any inner peace exuding from the old Jules Winnfield...
Rating: 7

Cinematography: Did you expect anything less that "Holy cool?" Me neither. With such high expectations, one often finds themselves disappointed. You won't here though, the fights and the scenes are all grand displays of awesome CGI.
Rating: 9

Script: The evil that is Anakin in the end with the fighting and the disillusionment was a bit of a let down, but Lucas was never good at scripts now was he? This is fine, but it really could have pulled more heart strings. High expectations, yes, and still nothing as memorable as the Star Wars' "Wonky Chewbaka" line (Brave Chewbacca in Hutt), or any of the wiseass comments of Han Solo to Leah.
Rating: 7

Plot: The thing about the plot is the memorabilia, the R2-D2, the Emperor, the good times had by all and the lead up to the end. They draw it out boy, I can tell you. I really think another writer could have done better in writing a shift to the dark side without making it seem so... forced and presumed that it would happen. Those moments where the torment should be crushing to Anakin, not really that effective. That ending though, wow! That major subplot is real smart too.
Rating: 7

Mood: The score at the end, that BOM-BOM-BOM that everyone knows represents Darth Vader and The Empire of the Sith. It's hard not to have that weigh heavily on the overall score here. The ending... It's one of the best tie-ins to any sequel even made (though Batman did a great job too). As for the whole universe created by Lucas, following the Jedis, the darkness overwhelming a man driven, my God! It's this good. What a world, what a place, what an adventure!
Rating: 9

"What eyes? These eyes? Oh THESE old things, no no it's uh... a .. genetic condition, ya ya, no I get that all the time."

Overall Rating: 78% (A Treasure for Fans, a Good Stand Alone Film for the Rest)

Aftertaste: Funny that Hayden was reported as not being interested in acting anymore. I mean he played Darth Vader for God's Sake. At the same time though, where do you go from there? Hamlet? Moses? I walked into this thinking the same as I did with Lord of the Rings, with The Matrix, "I have to watch the end of it." Well if you've seen Star Wars, then see this. You don't need to see those other two crappy productions. The fights, the story, the bridging of the tale. It's awesome, it's inspiring, and having watched it just before bed I can tell you it took a long time to fall asleep, the sounds of the new Empire's soundtrack bombarding my brain...

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Leaving Las Vegas (1995)

...yes as in permanently...

Genre: Drama Romance (USA, France, UK)

Starring: Nicholas Cage (Wild At Heart; Lord Of War), Elizabeth Shue (The Saint; Cocktail)

Directed By: Mike Figgis (Cold Creek Manor; Timecode)

Overview: A raging alcoholic gets fired and decides that he is going to drink himself to death, in Las Vegas, where he meets a prostitute. Their romance is anything but normal.

Acting: The people who tell me that Nicholas Cage is a bad actor haven't seen this. Most likely they've seen such great hits as Vampire's Kiss, (which HAS it's merit!). When I first saw this I thought Shue was one of the sexiest women in Hollywood, and I can tell you her portrayal is grand. The direction and the chemistry is awesome.
Rating: 9

Cinematography: The images are nothing spectacular, though as expected we get those pans across the skyscape and over the vast city, we see the casino dice and the wayward gamblers, crappy hotel rooms. Unfortunately it's more like that was thrown in because it was expected, needed. Yes, the mood is properly set by these professional scenes, but the settings and the look aren't really what you're coming for.
Rating: 7

Script: The writing had to be good to convey the sheer despair that these people are experiencing. At the same time they have to show the happy veneer of a mask that they're both putting forth, while letting each other know that this is more truth than both of them can handle. Brilliantly written, this script however does show signs of a dated past. In that way that Do The Right Thing may have been terrific and poignant, a few scenes have since production almost become rote, and though tragic, are predictable, like the aforementioned Do the Right Thing. Tragic can't get through to the audience without a good script. This does it.
Rating: 8

Plot: The story is one of my favorites:Tragedy. Good movies don't necessarily all end in death though, there's still surprises. Know going in that this is bleak, but understand the purpose behind it, explore the fact that these two people met each other too late, though never would have run into each other save in a place where despair was the order of the day, and bask in the tale that unfolds. Great to the end, and that scene where they go on the weekend retreat...Amazing.
Rating: 9

Mood: The mood is a little dated. Sting's jazz crooning is the entire soundtrack and by that I don't even mean an album's worth, I'm talking a few select songs. It may have been on purpose, to show a solid continuity, but no. This use of score ain't Requiem for a Dream, and certainly no Eyes Wide Shut. Drunk, whore, gambler, lush, pimp and victim, despair and dark fate however, are well maintained throughout.
Rating: 7

Something worth having is something worth paying for...

Overall Rating: 80% (A Tragic Hit...)

Aftertaste: Sure in hindsight, this may be a little dated, a little predictable, but it's still Top 5 tragic films in my books. I'm glad I own it, and though I won't watch it endlessly, it will be something deep to show someone from time to time. One of those films that helps put things into perspective when your car gets broken into or you lose your cellphone or your wallet. It's one of those tragedies that opens your eyes to suffering on a realistic, human scale, without all the high art and big budget. Like The Celebration, they try and keep it simple, common... And it works.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

The Jacket (2005)

I was 18 when I rose from the dead, poseur!

Genre: Fantasy Sci-Fi Horror Thriller Drama (USA, Germany)

Starring: Adrien Brody (King Kong; The Village), Keira Knightley (Domino; Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl)

Directed By: John Maybury

Overview: A man is sentenced to a mental hospital for the murder of a police officer, suffering from amnesia. There he is put in a straight jacket, injected with dangerous drugs and put in a morgue locker. Vengeance or therapy?

Acting: This is topnotch. Yes, even Kris Kristopherson. Brody plays it subtle while still being disturbingly disturbed. Remember this guy won the Oscar for The Pianist. Though I found that movie overrated and slightly rehashed, his acting was incredible in that too.
Rating: 8

Cinematography: This impressed me to no end. The flashbacks, flashforwards, the lens effects and special effects, all really well done. The occasional dark settings and that piss-stained jacket all help the gritty look of this hyper-professional production.
Rating: 8

Script: This is not so obscure to be misunderstood, and not so obvious as to be leading you through the nose in some predictable fashion. The writing is great, without a doubt.
Rating: 8

Plot: More than anything else, the plot is the thing. What a terrific story! A man races against time to try and solve a mystery burning in his mind, deep in his fractured brain. Battles with his sanity, his doctors and his future all collide in a terrific investigation, culminating in a great ending that will make you glad to have seen this film.
Rating: 9

Mood: The mood is well set. In all honesty this would make you think Horror but it's much more thriller. The theme is not one of fear, it's one of confusion and the weight of time on this person's shattered mind. You won't be disappointed.
Rating: 8

Hmm, I think he needs a couple more minutes in the microwave.. but only on defrost...

Overall Rating: 82% (Mind-Shattering)

Aftertaste: This is going to be one of those Sleeper hits that make you glad you're a movie aficionado. One of those people who sift through crap to find this. Yes, it was up there and fairly mainstream, but only for a little while. This is like an Ace you can pull out of your sleeve and people will tip a nod in praise to your taste.