Monday, August 29, 2005

The Exorcism of Emily Rose (2005)

Based on the true story of the time a writer wrote this story.

Genre: Drama Horror Mystery Thriller

Starring: Jennifer Carpenter, Laura Linney (The Squid And The Whale; Kinsey)

Directed By: Scott Derrickson (Hellraiser: Inferno)

Overview: This is the courtroom drama of a man accused of negligence. A lawyer defends the priest who tried to exorcise a demon from Emily Rose and failed. Is he guilty of her death?

Acting: This, and I'm sure I'll say it frequently, is a mix of good and bad. Let's begin by saying that the paranoia, the fear, the hopelessness of the portrayals were really good, top notch, yet they are offset by such poor courtroom scenes as would bring it down like a $5 bill waving in front of a Gladstone Street whore. That Judge needed to be recast flat out, she was atrocious. This is not a strong woman and she cannot grasp the strength needed to play a judge, there I said it. Even the experienced actor who played the D.A. It seemed like there were two directors to two different movies. The events of the actual case were awesome, the retelling in the courtroom however, piss poor.
Rating: 6

Cinematography: The courtroom: bland, static pieces of standard fare at such mundane levels as would bore you to death. The images of demons, darkness and fear were so creepy that I actually shifted uncomfortably in my seat, terrifying stuff, really. The exorcism and those moments are terrific. The courtroom, boring enough to consider watching mold grow instead.
Rating: 7

Script: The writer should have watched more "Law and Order". I can safely say, after having seen 6 or more seasons of the show religiously, there were issues that seemed more about melodrama than research. It's not hard to look at the actual transcripts and make them more dramatic, is it? It's not hard to run your script by a couple lawyer friends with an honest opinion, and I'm surprised that the producers, directors and everyone else in the line between writing and production let this go thought to final print as is. Piss. But the exorcism was great. The fear was written really well, though it could not elevate the predominant scenes of courtroom blandness. Should have stuck to his element.
Rating: 6

Plot: The story was so good that they had to go an ruin it with a courtroom. It's unfortunate that The Exorcist was so specific as to corner a market so well that no one would be able to reproduce anything like it without being considered a rip off. In all fairness this is pretty much a true story, and it's also about an exorcism, and this will interest a lot of people, so there's points inherent, but they dwelled too much on the secular and not enough on the supernatural.
Rating: 7

Mood: The movie did indeed creep me out, and for that I'll give it good props, but the believability factor of the drama in the day to day deliberation kicked it right in the nuts. Why did they have to dwell so much on the poor dialogue? It's the Jar Jar Binks of Fantasy and Drama. You actually almost dread when they go back to the courtroom.
Rating: 7

And Zerabubu wins the Belching Contest! We'll be right back once the staff have put out the fires...

Overall Rating: 68% (Much Lower Than I had Expected, Before AND After)

Aftertaste: This is one of those strange movies that has so many good elements intermingled with so many bad ones. Sadly this will not stand the test of time for more than a year, and you can mark my words: no mention of this with cross the lips of anyone in the Oscars, though I can't think of any horror that came close to actually ever winning one... Regardless, this is a bad courtroom drama and a really great Horror Thriller all wrapped into one. Like Full Metal Jacket, this can be considered one of the best-worst movies of the year, though with less staying-power than the worst of the Kubrick films. A touch disappointing.

Threads (1984)

Honey let's go see The Phantom of the Mass Grave and Bandages Opera!

Genre: Apocalyptic Sci-Fi War Drama (USA, Australia, UK)

Starring: Karen Meagher, Reece Dinsdale

Directed By: Mick Jackson (The Bodyguard; L.A. Story)

Overview: One of the most realistic tellings of a Nuclear Apocalypse, we see what could have happened should Russia and The United States actually had come to a full confrontation during the Cold War in the mid-eighties, and the aftermath of such a military action.

Acting: The acting in this film is the kind where we see real people acting real. It has that documentary feel about it that makes you realize these people aren't doing this for the sake of Oscars or for dramatic moments in their roles. It's just plain and regular. They suffer, and those that survive suffer worse. I won't go on to say that the portrayals were perfect or spectacular, because there was a hammy moment or two here and there, but it's definitely top-notch.
Rating: 8

Cinematography: The images. How can I talk about this without shuddering at the sights and sounds? With such moments etched in my mind as cataract laden eyes, burn victims, scores of bleak black and white still images, and most notably: glass milk bottles melting in the blast, the corpses of animals burning, humans living in their own filth... It's not the way they shoot the film, it's what they show and what they choose to zoom in on, be it death or medieval justice. Really dramatic, powerful stuff. Minimalism works.
Rating: 8

Script: The writing is not good. By that I mean it's not poetry, it's not grand dramatic ideas being slowly drawn out... It's regular people realizing that they are in such an atrocious predicament as can make one collapse into madness, and sometimes it is madness. The script is real as can be, yet we are given an appropriate hint of the bigger picture (of England at least). Superb.
Rating: 8

Plot: The story, granted, is one of my favorites: a bleak definition of the inherent stupidity and madness of power that is Humanity. I'm a dark guy. You know this. What really is amazing about this plot is not the whole "this is what's going on, this is the end, this is the surviving bunch". It goes deeper and further and seeks a more scientific approach in its explanation. This is so intelligent as to make you really, really stop and think. I will recommend this to anyone who does not have a weak stomach, because the lesson here is more important than most stories ever written. This is the story of the future of war. This is the story of the Apocalypse, that thing that will set us back 200 to 500 years in time, in progress, in infamy.
Rating: 9

Mood: Terrifying. I've hear of people fleeing this film, no bullshit. It's not pleasant, but it's important and eye-opening. I found the results of what happens to the societal infrastructure entirely believable. And it is believability that mood is all about right? It's ability to put you there? I was there. I was all too close. Didn't have to be wild and sci-fi for me to be completely immersed...
Rating: 9

Yep, not a whole lotta things worse than that contingency...

Overall Rating: 84% (Mind-Blowingly Impressive)

Aftertaste: This is not for everyone. If fear, death and bleak futures aren't your bag, you might just want to skip this altogether. If you've seen The Day After, it shows an America that suffers yet endures a nuclear attack. This seems more realistic. Oh, the world survives, but rather this film screams Jesus Christ Almighty in heaven, don't do this, for the love of humanity, disarm! If you see this, you will be made stronger, perhaps even more resolute. This'll probably be on the next 'Hidden Gem' list, if not the next 'Top 5'.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

The Brothers Grimm (2005)

Little Red Riding WOO HOO!

Genre: Action Adventure Comedy Period Fantasy Horror Thriller (USA, UK, Czech Republic)

Starring: Matt Damon (Syriana; The Bourne Supremacy), Heath Ledger (The Order; Brokeback Mountain)

Directed By: Terry Gilliam (Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas; Brazil)

Overview: A couple of famous mythbusters and monsterkillers are forced to fighting the stuff of darkest horrors in the Black Forest of 1789 French-occupied Germany.

Acting: It's quite obvious that the casting director had a nice little budget, and the actors all do a great job, from the children to the middlemen, to the leading men and ladies. Top quality acting, though I wonder if the direction was a little weak, regarding the delivery of certain lines, especially those of the French commandant following them. I found his accent often unintelligible.
Rating: 8

Cinematography: The pretty pictures! The look and the angles! I wondered how they got those panning shots from the ground to up top and then across the ground. Technically some difficult scenes that you wouldn't normally notice (unless you had a website devoted to reviews with a slight focus on cinematography). The one thing that I found distracting however was the occasional moments of realization that the special effects were obvious. It's like Industrial Light and Magic gave this project to the interns ot something. Hell, we all have to learn, but still, have someone supervise the scarf scene, come on. Don't get me wrong, the look and effects were pretty damn cool. I just mean it's no 10.
Rating: 8

"You've killed all my friends." "I wish you had more." This was well written. Constantly thrust into revised moments of all sorts of tales, be they Hansel and Gretel or Sleeping Beauty. The dialogue was clear and often funny, yet the French guy who followed them was often speaking unintelligible words (and they weren't French, I'm French). It would have been nice to hear more of it. Is that script or direction? Either way, I really liked this, but it weren't poetry.
Rating: 7

Plot: The historical reference is something to look into, but you know what? I'm sure they paid some guy with a PHD in Napoleonic Germanic occupational history about a hundred grand to have the story look right. Either way, the historical context behind this is a real nice touch. The story itself may not be for everyone. It is a tribute to or a theft of a half dozen or more folkloric tales? I myself liked it, but in all fairness, it's pretty specific, and even formulaic, but the trip is certainly unique and exciting, regardless.
Rating: 7

Mood: The look of this is amazing. The only reason it doesn't get full points is the special effects weren't seamless, and here and there I wondered where the movie was going, instead of enjoying the ride. The look of this is completely immersive, like Brotherhood of the Wolf, but without the stupid plot and acting. If you like the gothic / medieval / Napoleonic look, this is 100% visually spectacular.
Rating: 9

"Help! Her head's going to turn into a pumpkin at midnight!!!"

Overall Rating: 78% (Grim, But in a Great Way)

Aftertaste: It's nice isn't it? Knowing so little about a movie that you have no preconceived notion about it? Wow. Takes me back to the Stand By Me days, when my dad took me to the first movie i knew nothing about and i hated it, till I saw it. It was good. And so was this. I bet this will not be heard from too much, but then again, I stopped watching television. Maybe I'm full of it, forcing my paradigm on the world...
Either way, if you liked this you will LOVE Snow White: A Tale Of Terror.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Hair (1979)

...Everywhere, Daddy Daddy...

Genre: Musical Comedy Drama (USA, West Germany)

Starring: John Savage (Midnight Cowboy; The Thin Red Line), Treat Williams (The Devil's Own; Once Upon A Time In America)

Directed By: Milos Forman (Amadeus; One Flew Over the Cukoo's Nest)

Overview: A young man from Oklahoma spends a few days with some New York Hippies before joining the army.

Acting: Actors. The thing about them is that some are good and some are bad. Well the top three roles in this one are well portrayed, but every other player is just too over the top for my liking. Maybe it's all the singing and dancing, who knows. Whatever, too hammy.
Rating: 5

Cinematography: The images are good especially in the end, but nothing ingenious. Some fancy dream sequences, some interesting choreography, but after all is said and done, TOO MUCH SINGING AND DANCING. I know it's a musical, but I just can't get over it.
Rating: 6

Script: The thing about movies like this is that they can be set in stone as far as dating is concerned. This is very dated. And I'm not only talking the hippy / Nam thing, I mean there's 2 songs about being black and liking Chocolate black boys and all that sort of thing. Yes I get it, but in this day and age, it's just a touch racist, regardless of the context. The songs too were very mediocre. Only the last song was worth keeping in my head. Very disappointing. It got to the point where I was dreading the next 5 minutes when music started. Ugh.
Rating: 4

Plot: The story is a good one, at least the ending is totally awesome. The whole pregnancy thing and the middle seemed really more like filler than anything though. Because so much music was involved, I'll include the progression of songs in the plot. I can tell you that it was way out there contextually. Only about half the songs made sense in the place they were put. It's almost like someone wrote a bunch of songs and tried to make a story out of it. No sir, didn't like it.
Rating: 5

Mood: This is a true musical. Fine. It's not fair for me to say that there were too many songs in this. But on the other hand also, Dancer in the Dark was a musical, and I loved that because it wasn't too many songs. Also The Wall was an entire album of music with NO dialogue, if I recall. So that can't be my beef cause I loved The Wall. Uh, fine. I'll just say it. Too much. Also this is way dated, but I said that already. If you like a musical style... Then give it an extra point. But even the choreography in the songs suffered from time to time, too much Broadway influence, not enough film style.
Rating: 6

That's a bunch of high-ass Hippies. I'm guessing Speed and shoe polish cocktails.

Overall Rating: 52% (You'd Better Love Musicals)

Aftertaste: Yeah, yeah. If I hate musicals why did I watch this? Well turns out I remember seeing this as a child as well as hearing the soundtrack. Turns out it carried more memorabilia than it ever should have. God, we just suck things up when we're kids eh? Too dated for it to stand the test of time, unfortunately. They should have toned it down a bit. Dirty Hippies.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

The Dead Hate The Living! (2000)

For as much as this was a B-Grade turd, the costumes were pretty decent.

Genre: Zombie Horror Comedy

Starring: Eric Clawson, Jamie Donahue

Directed By: Dave Parker

Overview: A group of Indie-Horror movie makers are shooting in an abandoned medical facility. Things go awry when they discover that one of their props is actually a portal to another land of undead monstrosities.

Acting: The acting was adequate and they didn't take themselves too seriously. It seems that the lookers got more breaks from the director, because their acting was not as good (or perhaps it was SO good that it was intentionally done that way). Either way, when it mattered, when the scene needed it, they acted really well. Good stuff. I expected much less.
Rating: 7

Cinematography: The gore and the latex was great. This was a nice surprise. There's a lot of blood and though the coloured lighting gels were a little obvious, it was nice to see the slow mo effects and the attempt at making a good film on a low budget. This is obviously where they spent their money. Good!
Rating: 7

Script: The writing, yes suffers as all low-budge horror does, but it's better good than bad. A few funny moments and some serious scenes too. All around good stuff.
Rating: 6

Plot: Thin? Not really. The dudes shoot a horror movie and they become part of a real situation paralleling their film, but in a funny way. I was surprised by the ending. It was a little abrupt, but decent. The flow and the believability of the characters is pretty good. You know not like some little pissant who goes out of his way to get himself killed!
Rating: 6

Mood: The overall look, feel, themes and mood of this was a little below great, but it's high for it's special effects. That huge noseless dead guy? AMAZING! Don't expect caviar in this production, but if you like a good low-budge horror, this is a keeper, for those few fans out there.
Rating: 6

Lady should be glad she's not getting the Re-Animator treatment... which as you all know is severed 'head'.

Overall Rating: 64% (Not For Everyone)

Aftertaste: A friend of mine asked, "What I don't get about this review site is that you watch all these terrible horror movies and you wonder why they're bad." Well I'm not LOOKING for bad movies, I'm hoping that people recommend GOOD stuff to me. Who knew that no one had as good a taste in ANYTHING as ME. Well this is one of those movies I ever heard about, no one told me about and based solely on the fact that I was at a garage sale and it was selling for 4 bucks, I went out and got it. And it was good. I enjoyed my time with it, and horror fans will enjoy all the latex and makeup with a hint of cheese, but not too much! There. It was GOOD. Eat it.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Spooks & Creeps (2004)

Titling tips 1: If it's not racist on purpose, don't put racial slurs in the title.

Genre: Horror Thriller Shorts

Starring: Ewan MacGregor (Moulin Rouge!; The Pillow Book), Rebecca Gayheart (Shadow Hours; Urban Legend)

Directed By: Sam Bozzo, Jeff Stark and more

Overview: A series of six spooky little stories to make you shiver.

Acting: The big name in this is Ewan, who has no speaking part, and the short itself is less than five minutes, though it's a good one. Still for them to say Alice Cooper is in this is a stretch. He narrates a one line intro for the first short, then when it ends, he tells you to shut up and leave. The acting and direction showed signs of the low budget, but it was fine.
Rating: 6

Cinematography: The quality suffers from time to time, but each short has it's own particular style and some pretty interesting effects, camera wise. This isn't a big gore movie, more thrills and suspense than anything else, but the look was well thought out and a lot of effort went into it.
Rating: 7

Script: The writing excels in Holiday on The Moon, but the rest were simply passable shorts. Again, nothing bad but nothing worth mentioning. It's typical low budge experienced directors and writers. They may be going places, but this is a stepping stone.
Rating: 6

Plot: The stories were fine but really only half of them I really liked a lot, and they were the short ones. Every story has it's element of predictability, but a couple have a neat twist, and the short but sweet Desserts (pardon the pun) will give you a grin. Fine but nothing special.
Rating: 6

Mood: The moods tried to be very rich, in each short. It was quite obvious a lot of effort went into them. But the amateurish flaw of trying too hard and adding too much is very much there in too many of the pieces. Overall I wasn't as captivated as I would have liked and I found myself getting up a lot, doing this and that. This was fine, but not great.
Rating: 6

Oh you're a pumpkin! How precious! It's just too bad I only have candies left for butternut squashes, sorry!

Overall Rating: 62% (Bland, and Neither Spooky or Creepy)

Aftertaste: When rating films like this one, I feel sometimes that I'm jilting you, my audience, since I have really not much to say about it other than 'passable' and 'fine'. I guess that's what this little 'Aftertaste' section is all about, making up for it and telling you that if your friend lends it to you and you need to kill 20 minutes here and there, go ahead take a gander, but given that this isn't even listed on IMDB, good luck finding it. If you don't find it, don't worry, there's better wastes of time that are more convenient than this.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Phantasm (1979) * WORST 5 * * Favorite Review *

Stupid eye-ball!

Genre: Sci-Fi Horror Fantasy

Starring: A. Michael Baldwin (Phantasm II & III), Bill Thornbury (Phantasm III & IV)

Directed By: Don Coscarelli (Bubba Ho-Tep; The Beastmaster)

Overview: A curious boy uncovers an insidious alien plot at the Morningside (get it? Mourning, yeah) Funeral Home.

Acting: Terrible! That little ****sucker and his stupid melodrama. What the hell?! His voice acting, his body acting, everything about him screams "CASTING!? HELLO?!" I was swearing at him for half the movie. And his brother, and the tall man and everything. Wait no. No. There's NO WAY I'm letting the direction off that easy. For stupid directing this goes down even more.
Rating: 3

Cinematography: Terrible! Let's ignore the fact that the night scenes are so dark that we sometimes wonder what the kid is holding in his hand. Let's COMPLETELY forget the obvious wire in that garbage disposal fly scene. As for the cheap jump out at you scares, they are obviously about to happen. The settings, in all honesty, weren't badly chosen, but all the gore and and monsters? Buuuuuull-shit!
Rating: 4

Script: Terrible! Where do I start? Aside from the atypical garbage leaps of logic to explain everything away (re: they're short because of the gravity and the heat and that's a portal to their planet - GOD!) is the moment that gets three full points taken away from a terrible script to begin with: Outright Plagiarism. I guess they had no idea Dune would ever get so popular. The scene where that little pissant goes to the psychic? She takes his hand and sticks it in a box. He screams that it hurts and begs and screams then he takes it out and it's fine. The psychic says, "Don't fear. Fear is the killer."
For you people out there who don't know the blatant theft of reference, that's how Muadib proves himself; by sticking his hand in a box that hurts more than anything, not pulling it out, repeating to himself, "Fear is the Mindkiller."
I call bullshit on this big time. Dune was written in '65 and a new edition printed in '77. Guess where the inspiration came from? I think it's obvious. The writers of this script should be fined.

Rating: 2

Plot: TERRIBLE! Suspension of disbelief CITY. The kid is too curious for his own good. The scene where he blows his door off with a shotgun shell and a hammer, instead of giving the half broken door (clearly no budget) another good kick, this dickweed is likely to make stupid little kids try it and subsequently lose some fingers. Good job guys. Not only do you make a terrible movie but you lower some poor dolt's quality of life for not knowing any better. And the scene where that kid miraculously shows up right on time driving the car, after his brother told him to stay home? Don't effin' writers know that we LISTEN to movies as well as watch them?! As IF, just stop punching holes in your own script! And the convenient ending where the boulders go in the mine shaft at just the right place. Then after all is said and done, the kid gets it ANYWAYS?! What retarded bullshit. PEOPLE DON'T ACT THIS WAY. Call the cops with your friggen evidence, GODDAMN IT!
Rating: 1

Mood: Terrible! Fine, I understand that I may not be the best source to judge this, given I was YELLING over the crappy soundtrack and half the dialogue, but the mood is supposed to draw you in. I've said it a hundred times. It's the theme, you know? Well this is directionless, and WTF is up with that ball anyways, seriously? The fact that this constantly looked like poor acting reminded me how stupid this was, and instead of basking in the mood of cheese (a la Killer Klowns) I found myself wondering how best to crap on this movie for all of you. DON'T SEE THIS CRAAAAP!
Rating: 3

"My career... is undeaaaad... Moooaaaaa"

Overall Rating: 26% (Utterly Phantasmically Objectionable)

Aftertaste: Where the hell did this come from? Why it didn't die, I don't know. Why there's THREE SEQUELS?! JESUS. Why my friend owns it is a mystery to me. Why he lent it to me is obviously for reasons of torture, to get back at ages old unforgiven acts. I know it would have been better if I'd have seen it and laughed along with someone, but still, I literally said "Terrible!" alone, out loud, at this movie... must have been 46 times. I'm not exaggerating. From the cheap scares to the huge holes in the plot, to the fact that the beginning is boring, the middle is erratic and unpolished to the end WHICH TURNS OUT TO ALL BE A DREAM. The only ending worse than the bad guy's house / city / castle / whatever exploding when the bad guy gets it and everything is fine right away... IS THE DREAM ENDING. I call Bullshit on this whole movie! TERRIBLE!

Friday, August 19, 2005

Logan's Run (1976)

The future is awesome because there's no such thing as bras

Genre: Drama Fantasy Sci-Fi Adventure

Starring: Michael York (The Island Of Dr. Moreau), Jenny Agutter (The Eagle Has Landed; An American Werewolf In London)

Directed By: Michael Anderson (Orca; The Dam Busters)

Overview: In a utopian future of decadence, the only condition is that you die at 30, unless reborn by the ritual of carousel. One sandman is sent to seek the dissenters, those who flee the city as they approach end day.

Acting: The acting suffers from time to time. Torn between the director and the players I have decided to berate them both. And the fight choreography? PLEASE. It's like someone liked this book and said, "Well it doesn't matter HOW we do it as long as the cool PLOTLINE is maintained." WRONG!
Rating: 5

Cinematography: The images border on the cheesy but giving this the benefit of the doubt for the era, I still give points for the cool city miniatures, the girls walking around with no bras, the carousel and the other settings. It's obvious that the look was very important to the end product... And great guns!
Rating: 8

Script: The dialogue goes on a little, saying things unnecessary and adding length to the film. The interactions between out hero couple seemed very good and the actor's chemistry helped this a lot, but that old man went on and on and on. Shut up already! I don't care that you're Peter Ustinov.
Rating: 5

Plot: Terrible bullshit explosion ending! It's the worst ending ever! When people end the reign of an evil entity, why does their castle fall apart around them? They pulled it off well enough in Lord of The Rings, but you know what? I still hated that ending. I take points for that, and I take points for the fact that there were adventure fillers thrown in that didn't have to be there. Just because it's in the book doesn't mean you have to drag it out to a full 2 hours, not to mention that the people act like pre-destined morons throughout. UGH! Lucky for you it's sci-fi, or it would be even lower.
Rating: 4

Mood: The mood suffered from the lack of believability, but regained some hope due to the settings and the futuristic look and the nudity (which is carrying me pretty far these days, you know?) A touch of cheese in the old school effects department, but overall better good than bad. Of course, I wanted much more, but that orgy drug sex room was pretty neat, I must say.
Rating: 6

Cool guns, dumb Ustinovs

Overall Rating: 56% (Don't Run To See This)

Aftertaste: The gall of some people, telling me this is a Classic. I even heard some character on television say it was one of his Top 5 favorites. Come on, it's way too cheesy to be taken seriously. It has a certain appeal, but the logic of human nature and the way everything conveniently falls into place? That robot, WTF was that? And that ending? Yes, amidst disaster and crushed bodies I tend to be one of the hundreds who slowly crowd around the old new guy. As if. What a hunk of bunk. It's too long, too unrealistic and too stupid to be considered a classic. Don't listen to them.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

An Interjected Hidden Gem Alert (August 2005)

Someone at work let me know that they had surfed through this website and though they had never heard of a particular thing I had reviewed, they were still interested in seeing it, based on the merit of said glowing review.

I couldn't put my mind around it. What was this thing, this movie about an epic battle between good and evil? All of a sudden I realized how good Broken Saints was. It also made me realize that perhaps instead of letting you know what movies are fantastic and grandiose, maybe I should tout the little Hidden Gems that have sat out there in the last several month of my viewing and reviewing extravaganza.

These may not be the best of the bunch, but if you haven't heard of them, you really should check them out. These are spectacular and should not be missed, and though advertising hasn't been big budget, the appeal of these films is sky high in my books.

As I did with the top five best and worst recap, I'll do the same with some of my favorite Hidden Gems, and feel free to peruse the rest of the site for the actual review of these movies.

Here's a list of my top five little known films / series that should not be missed be any fan in chronological order:

The Assassination of Richard Nixon (2004) - 86% (Brilliant)
Originally Reviewed February 20, 2005

I mean what happened with this one? Did it not play in theatres? Did you hear a single thing about this? I'm a huge movie freak and when I saw this playing at my little local independent Bytowne Theater I knew right away that I had to see it. I was shocked and amazed at how good this was. Two Words: Sean Penn (though avoid The Interpreter). It had a definite Taxi Driver air to it, but less artsy and more real. I recommend this to anyone who likes human drama stories or tragic film. Everything about it is deep and meaningful. You will have grown a little after seeing this. This film is a sure-fire teacher of valuable lessons. This historical backstory is something to remember.

Broken Saints (2001) - 86% (Absolutely Terrific)
Originally Reviewed February 27, 2005

This is as obscure as you will ever find on this list. It never showed in theaters, never aired on TV (save for a 5 minute teaser on CBC's short film show Zed TV), yet over a million people have seen this. It's a 12 hour flash-animated mini-series about four people, all from different points on earth, who seemed touched (or cursed) by a higher power. They follow their instincts to the steps of a Multinational corporate tower. Absolutely mind-blowing. Read my original review, I rave about it. But how do you get your hands on this? Don't fret, you can watch it free online, just do a search. Consequently, if you have Rogers on Demand, just go to the CBC Free Zone and surf around, it's there. If you really trust me, you can also just outright buy the whole series too, on their official website. You won't regret this meditative and poetic epic, this truly human tale, not to mention that it's also an amazing social commentary and on the forefront of artistic technological advancement.

The Merchant of Venice (2004) - 82% (Great Work)
Originally Reviewed March 5, 2005

Not that I saw the modern day corporate version of Hamlet, but I hated it. The whole idea made me shrink away from retellings of Shakespeare. Then I see this advertised at my local independent Bytowne theater. Yes, it's not all that obscure but Shakespeare doesn't tend to stay in theaters too long, just enough for the smart guys to spend their money and be replaced with some Hillary Duff bullshit. All this to say, I'm betting you didn't hear of this, and if you did, I'm sure you didn't see it. So let me tell you that this big-budget retelling in the original era with these big name actors is an instant classic. If you like Shakespeare at all, this is awesome. Remember Romeo and Juliet? Titus? Right! They're good, you know it, but there's something to be said about telling the story the way it was told in the era it was actually happening in at the time. I was glad when I found out it wasn't an updated piece, like Richard III, which I really didn't like. A great time.

Man On Fire (2004) - 86% (Terrifically Amazing, Searing Hot!)
Originally Reviewed May 5, 2005

It's movies like these that I have this website for. There's people out there who like movies a lot, who like not-so-mainstream, intelligent yet entertaining film, but they really don't have the desire or the time to sift through the hours necessary to find the dusty brilliant magic among the well deserved back of the shelf garbage. Well let me impart my modicum of wisdom and let me say that though you probably heard of this you didn't really think much of it. Perhaps you haven't even heard much about it. Maybe you don't know anyone who's seen it, or much less owns it.
It's a twist and turn of a ride and when you've figured it out and expect it to be predictable and go one way, it transforms itself into another sort of adventure. Lord, does it ever not pull any punches. It's a touch of darkness, a touch of salvation and I was surprised to find moments of High Art comparable to The Pillow Book.

Kung Fu Hustle (2004) - 86% (Kicks Your Ass from Downtown to The Slums!)
Originally Reviewed June 25, 2005

Absolutely surprising. Makes me want to see the other movie directed by this guy, Shaolin Soccer, though that's for children. This one? Definitely not for kids. It's violent and frankly I think the great wondrous display that is this film would be lost on the little minds of our youth. This movie is so original and innovative and full of human twists and turns. I like that there's a few heart-felt losses throughout the movie, instead of all piled up at the end. The special effects push the limits of art and if you like the visual spectacle (and who doesn't?) you'll like this almost as much as Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, though the premise is a lot more comic in this, but in a really great way.

Now I mean it. I wouldn't have spent all this time on this just to show you pictures! Go see one of these, preferably all!

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Saturn 3 (1980)


Genre: Adventure Sci-Fi Thriller (UK)

Starring: Kirk Douglas (Gunfight At The O.K. Corral; Paths of Glory), Farrah Fawcett (Dr T and the Women; The Cannonball Run)

Directed By: Stanley Donen (The Grass Is Greener; Seven Brides for Seven Brothers)

Overview: When a psychotic captain goes to the tiny outpost of Saturn 3 and uses his own mind to program a research robot, things go a little awry.

Acting: The actors are big names, but I don't know, it seems that Keitel's voice was weird, that Kirk was a little too hammy, and Fawcett played the perfect scared little do-nothing dependent innocent woman. A sign of the times perhaps but the direction was weak. These people know how to act... Must be the director's fault. Bad Donen!
Rating: 5

Cinematography: The images are very cool from time to time, but it would have been nice seeing more outdoor stuff, more space scenes. The special effects and the gore were interesting though weak. The hallway scenes were cool and there were some shots a la 2001, though now that I mention it, I wonder if it was more rip off than tribute.
Rating: 6

Script: The writing was fair, yes, but the premises and the universe that unfolded in the dialogue was again a little too out there for my human nature to embrace. It seems everything about this movie is mediocre. I wish I could say that it was better, but it's not. The best lines definitely belong to the captain, and to the robot Hector.
Rating: 6

Plot: Do not think that even as late as the 80s, they would so something as blatantly convenient as having the means of escape blown up remotely. Look when there's aliens and war I can see a ship having a self-destruct button. But in this universe, what the hell was that?! Stupid. Otherwise the suspense was pretty decent, though there were a few twists that were too convenient. Eihn, weak, and what an abrupt ending!
Rating: 5

Mood: The robot really needed a head. I don't see how this heavily armored and intelligent thing would have no metal covering it's sight input, a very important and now made vulnerable commodity. The person who lent this to me said, "one of the classic Sci-Fi horror robots, come on." Pff as if. The robot and the believability of the universe and having only 2 people living on a base that supplies the earth with hydroponic food research? You'd think there'd be a facility with more than 2 people and 3 simple chintzy robots. I didn't really believe it, and hence the mood was not captivating.
Rating: 4


Overall Rating: 52% (Rings around BORED)

Aftertaste: Ever head of this? Me neither. "What the hell..." I thought. This is what this movie hobby is all about: new discoveries. Well I guess I can say I discovered something that was lost to the ages. Why on earth would this be lost to the ether? Cause it's really not all that good. There's better Sci-Fi Horror out there, and Sigourney Weaver and H.R. Geiger really raised the bar. Another for the "seen it" pile.

Tron (1982)

More fantastical than anything so many people my ave have never even HEARD of this.

Genre: Action Adventure Sci-Fi Thriller (USA, Taiwan)

Starring: Jeff Bridges (Arlington Road; The Big Lebowski), Bruce Boxleitner (The Babe; Kuffs)

Directed By: Steven Lisberger

Overview: In search for proof that the mighty corporation has stolen his game ideas, our hero hacks into the CPU. Said CPU hacks back, digitizing him and sending him to it's vast computer universe.

Acting: Fine, fine. Even I'll admit it, it's better than bad but it's not great, alright? But at the same time that User scream of "Noooo!!!" in that first game was still a very amusing moment. Admittedly there is a touch of melodramatic 80s to it, and even in context it's not fantastic, but really, get over it and enjoy the rest of the overall brilliance of this terrific show of innovation.
Rating: 6

Cinematography: Scenes shot covered in reflective tape, hours upon hours of individually hand-painted film cells and computer images of the like never imagined in the 80s, this is one hell of a movie, given the era. You know what? To hell with that, regardless of the era this is great visuals. It's not ridiculously obvious blue backgrounds. It's awesome. Genius aside, this gets full marks.
Rating: 10

Script: The dialogue is 80s sure, fine, but the writing is good and definitely not distracting. The CPU's malignant aggression and the other characters were well defined, and I really have no complaints about it.
Rating: 7

Plot: The story is pretty basic, but the adventure goes across the time and space of the multiverse that is the grand computer world. It goes from neat premise to a fight for survival with interesting and entertaining progression. Those games are pretty original, and light cycle? Holy GOD does that have staying power. To hell with Dig Dug and Burger Time, Tron's the wave of the future. Besides I don't see Dig Dug 2.0 out there for Playstation, do you?
Rating: 8

Mood: The universe is vast, the style is everpresent in the costumes and special effects. Yes, the cinematography carries this movie almost all the way, but the look is all mood and the theme is evil technological slavery. I think it deserves our highest rating.
Rating: 10

Individually painted cells and not one guy drew a dinky on anyone!

Overall Rating: 82% (Classic Nostalgic)

Aftertaste: The nostalgia for me what overwhelming. Sadly the one I had homed would appreciate this as much as I commented on the lack of scenery. This made me realize it just wasn't her type of movie, sadly. I on the other hand realized how great revisiting beloved films is. We should do it more often, really. If you remember liking this as much as I did, then by all means go out and see it again.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Meet The Feebles (1989) * Weird And Wacky *

Mildly amusing image for the sake that she looks like Barney, which is laughable, or Smoochy, which is an actually funny film.

Genre: Comedy Musical (New Zealand)

Starring: Donna Akersten, Stuart Devenie

Directed By: Peter Jackson (Dead Alive; Bad Taste)

Overview: The Feebles, a variety entertainment troupe, is getting ready for the big event. Amidst drug deals, porn shoots, burdgeoning romance and jealous rage, can they get the show ready on time? Definitely rated R.

Acting: The displays and portrayals seemed fine The voice acting maintained the characters. That rat was my favorite little guy, the lasciviousness and the lechery about him was really well portrayed. The dirty journalist fly was great too, but I felt something lacking overall. I feel the direction was weak, but Jackson's never been big on making sure his actors excel.
Rating: 6

Cinematography: The images were passable, the Muppets were kind of cool but I got over that pretty quick. The final shootout, the toilet-turd eating fly and the gross bits I found rather surprising, though mildly entertaining. Overall, I found the images lacking in quality, (probably due to the laptop I was watching it on) but I still didn't find it to be an exciting experience; sets weren't dynamic or interesting. Seems that they relied too much on the fact that the puppets would carry itself in this category.
Rating: 6

Script: This opens up with a song about 'The Feebles', in that Muppet show kind of introduction. Well they show it twice more ,and it wasn't that good the first time. There's two other songs, one about a three legged dog who wonders how does he get around, and some fruity romance-style solo that I found very bland, as though it were filler. The songs were bad, boring and a waste of time. I was rather disappointed. The rest, yeah, not High Art.
Rating: 4

Plot: The story itself didn't appeal to me all that much either. I often found myself bored, looking at how much longer was left, contemplating terminating the film for desire at better, greener pastures of activities. I would hear, "Oh check out this part", and though good, I only remember being told 3 or 4 times. The rest of the time, I found myself not really caring if the drug deal went through or if the show went on, or how it ended. I found this story rather boring altogether.
Rating: 4

Mood: The puppetry and the entire depth of it seemed rather prevalent, and I'll give it it's due for that, but did it capture me in it's mood? No. The sets were unimaginative, the musical segments weren't good and the feel of the whole thing felt way over the top and too gross for me. I know, Squish grossed out by something? It's context. These are Muppets! There aren't supposed to be aardvarks drooling ejaculate from their noses and using them to fornicate with sex slaves. Search me, but I didn't think it appropriate.
Rating: 5

Muppets eating turdlets, yeah that's entertainment, sell me some more.

Overall Rating: 46% (Feeble Indeed)

Aftertaste: You know, I expected a bit more. In the end it was a good times with some friends, but what the hell?! Too crass, too gross and too non-sequitorial to be validated by my appreciation for what it was worth. I don't think this is anywhere as good as anyone I know made it out to be, and I would never recommend this to anyone. I even debated reviewing it as a film, thinking that it had no movie qualities to it... Then I remembered it was feature length. So here we are... Might as well tell you all how I didn't like it. Those that presented it to me loved it and I gather it's one of those nichey Cult films that you either love or hate. Is comparing it to Liquid Sky in that respect a little too much? Probably...

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Altered States (1980)

Ooo, Altered... upside-down... wooo!!

Genre: Drama Horror Sci-Fi Fantasy

Starring: William Hurt (Lost In Space; Kiss Of The Spider Woman), Blair Brown (Dogville; The Astronaut's Wife)

Directed By: Ken Russell (The Lair Of The White Worm; Gothic)

Overview: A driven scientist seeks to find his meaning of life, his place in the universe, his soul in the vastness of reality. A drug he finds leads him to unimagined explorations into the self, but at what cost?

Acting: The roles portrayals are very human. From time to time there's some directorial flaws, but the human nature is maintained. A man driven seeks to find and his obsession becomes both a curse and a boon. William does a great job, though the direction of the other players could have been a little more forceful.
Rating: 7

Cinematography: The images were pretty regular fare, but those scenes at the end, ever reminiscent to 2001, yet understood, add such depth to this piece that it makes up for the standard scenes presented to us. The whole thing was pretty entertaining to watch, especially that Neanderthal bit.
Rating: 7

Script: The writing is ultra-intelligent. It's almost like someone made a cyberpunk sci-fi thriller movie with research! Honestly, watching this, I was going along enjoying the personal banter and watching the story unfold, then all of a sudden, some theory or motivation behind the experiments and the characters would come through so clearly and intelligently that I wondered why this movie was considered as 'fine' or 'not so good'. I was blown away by the depth of the intellect and science in this. I never wondered why, it was clear as day to me.
Rating: 9

Plot: The only reason I selected this as being Romance Sci-Fi is because the element of love is ever-prevalent. doesn't even classify it as romance, which I found somewhat as a shock, since the plot stems from the lack of and leads to the realization of, love and its eternal state. The development of this story is unique and interesting, and there are little cheese moments here and there, but ultimately, it's good stuff.
Rating: 7

Mood: The overall mood of this is fine, not all that immersive, but that zoo scene and the moments with the visions really make up for a lot. Love is a constant theme, and well maintained.
Rating: 7

"Well I figured they'd catch up to me eventually, lookin' like this..."

Overall Rating: 74% (Smart and Entertaining)

Aftertaste: The mixed reviews I had about this made me almost regret buying it at that garage sale. I'm glad I spent the 4 bucks after all and you know as nigh-horror goes, I thought it very entertaining. Not completely indelible, but a good time well spent building that ginormous repertoire.