Saturday, October 30, 2010

Louis CK: Hilarious

Hilarious could almost be looked at as a 'Bill Cosby Himself' for a newer generation (in fact Louis Ck sited this is one of his main influences). If you enjoy the stand-up/one man show style of Bill Cosby along with introspective and self depreciating humor you'll love this. What i love about each Louis CK stand-up special is that each one is kinda connected to the next. Each stand-up feels like a sequel, unlike other comedians who try to explore totally new material with each big stand up. In 'Hilarious' Louis CK give us all new material and stories about a lot of the same people as his previous stand-up specials. His children (a common subject in his stand-up) have grown since 'Shameless' and 'Chewed Up', bringing on new all material about them (like his oldest daughter being bitten by a pony and his youngest daughter taking a shit on the floor). He's still complaining about his weight and the stupid people he comes in contact with on a daily basis, but because CK is such a talented comedian and has such great delivery, i never get tired of hearing him talk shit about every day people.
Whats new is that now he's divorced, which brings on all new stories dealing with the 40-something year old CK trying to date again after being married for almost 10 years (this, along with some of the material in 'Hilarious' is a precursor to a lot of the material in his tv show on FX). Ever since 'Pootie Tang', Louis CK always seems to question weather or not he's a 'real director', but I think this movie is a prime example of his film making ability. If you follow any of his interviews or radio appreances (especially on Opie and Anthony), youd know that CK's knowledge of film is far more superior to the average stand-up comedian. In fact he sights Henri Clouzot's 'Diabolique' and Stanley Kubrick's 'Barry Lyndon' as his two of his all time favorite films. With 'Hilarious' he did what others like Jonathan Demme (Stop Making Sense) and Robert Townsend (Eddie Murphy's Raw) did, which was take a simple show/concert/stand-up and turn it in to an enjoyable film. Its also nice to see a good stand-up movie play in the theater. Martin Lawrence's last comedy special is the last one i remember playing in the theater, and i wasn't to crazy about that one. Even though Pootie Tang has gone on to gain a small cult following, it would be nice to see Louis CK take another stab at directing a film (maybe even something outside of comedy). I haven't been a fan of his screenplays ('why did I get married' and 'the invention of lying'), but his new TV on FX and 'Hilarious' clearly show the he knows his way around a movie camera, and can do more than just tell jokes. Id love to see his style of directing shown on his tv show transfer to film.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Inspector Bellamy

May Claude Charbol rest in peace, but i wasn't a fan of his final film (which oddly enough was his first ever Collaboration with iconic french actor Gerard Depardieu). This could be due to the fact that I'm not the 'afficionado' of Charbol's work like i am with other directors that i follow. It almost seems like in order to enjoy 'Inspector Bellamy' you have to really understand Charbol's style. I mean, i wouldn't throw someone in headfirst into the world of David Lynch by showing them 'Inland Empire' or recommend 'Eyes Wide Shut' to someone as their first Kubrick film. To be honest, of his large body of work, the only films of his that's Ive seen are; The Bridesmaid (which i thought was great), A Comedy of power (which i wasn't crazy about) and La Ceramonie (which i enjoyed as well). Maybe after i see more of his stuff, i might revisit 'Inspector Bellamy' and my opinion on it may change. But as of now, I'm not that impressed.
While on vacation, infamous police detective and author; Paul Bellamy (played by Gerard Depardieu) is pulled in to a mysterious case of a man; Noel Gentil, who faked his own death in order to collect insurance money so that he could run off with his mistress. Intrigued by Gentil and his story, Bellamy takes on the case and forms somewhat of a bond with him. This part of the movie i didn't quite buy. I didn't understand why Bellamy would just randomly take such a liking to Gentil. In fact, the only explanation that Bellamy gives is; "he intrigues me". Granted the case is made up of murder, mistaken identity, femme fetales, infidelity and other elements that would peak anyone's interest, but i needed a little more than just; "he intrigues me" as Bellamy's reasoning as to why he becomes so attached to the case. I didn't see much a connection there.
Also, in the midst of working on this new case (while he should be on vacation) Bellamy and his wife are visited by his unstable, alcoholic half brother; Jacques. His arrival makes the Bellamy household very tense because its clear that not only do the two brothers have some serious past family issues that are still unresolved, but its also clear that Bellamy's wife is cheating with his brother. And much like the relationship between Bellamy and Gentil, i didn't understand how a world class police inspector (who's job revolves around searching for clues), couldn't figure out that his wife and brother are cheating with other right under his nose. I mean, early in the movie its clear that Bellamy kinda suspects something between the two. In fact, there's one scene in the movie where Bellamy does confront his wife, but she casually dismisses it and Bellamy then drops it. Either he knows his wife is being unfaithful and he's just repressing it or he really has no clue. Either way, i thought that part of the story was weak.
'Inspector Bellamy' is a chilled out, laid back mystery for intellectuals with shades of Hitchcock. I imagine fans of Agatha Christie would take a liking to this. I may have many criticisms of the film, but it still had a few good points. Depardieu's acting, along with the rest of the cast, was excellent and the film was shot well (in fact there are a few standout shots of great cinematography). And for a police mystery with virtually no action whatsoever, i never found myself getting bored or nodding off (although i imagine many people with a short attention span would).

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Kanye West's 'Runaway'

Pretentious
Attempting to impress by affecting greater importance, talent, culture, etc., than is actually possessed.

Cliché
a saying, expression, idea, or element of an artistic work which has been overused to the point of losing its original meaning or effect, rendering it a stereotype, especially when at some earlier time it was considered meaningful or novel.

If people are gonna treat this like an actual movie, so will I (and I'm gonna criticize it accordingly just like I would any other movie or short film I don't like). Please keep in mind that I'm not commenting about the actual music in the video. I don't care enough about it to get in to it. There's a lot worse out there to criticize than Kanye West's music. Also, please be aware that I'm not nitpicking at this video just because it has Kanye West's name attached to it. I know that a lot of people out there love to hate Kanye West just for the sake of it. I'm not playing in to that, so please save the "hater" label which I'm sure some of you are gonna try to throw at me after reading this. Anyway...I planned to pay his short film/music video; 'Runaway' no attention, but when a movie by Kanye West draws comparison to Stanley Kubrick and Federico Fellini, I'm sorry but curiosity is gonna get the best of me. And look, I understand wanting to make an epic video in the style of Michael Jackson (in fact Kanye pays homage to Michael Jackson or his; 'nigga' as he likes to call the king of pop). But this was just too much.
Basically, this short film/music video is about West rescuing an 'Angel' (a half woman/half phoenix), and taking care of her on earth. Throughout the course of the film we follow the Angel as Kanye takes her under his wing as she becomes accustom to life on earth (similar to Milla Jovavich's character in 'The Fifth Element'). And I'm well aware that 'The Fifth Element' isn't the first to do what it did either. I'm just trying to reference something that everyone's seen. Anway, before the 5 minute mark, we already have the main character; running away from something through the woods in what's supposed to be a dream sequence that represents Kanye running from his fears or a mysterious, unknown element of danger (see the definition of Pretentious), carrying a woman in his arms while he walks away from an exploding car in the distance (see the definition of Cliché ), and nikki minaj's forced English accent voice-over narration (as if speaking in a British accents suddenly makes things more 'sophisticated'). Remember, that's just the first five minutes. Throughout the entire video, he have ballerina's, interpretive dance and other various art film clichés I could barely stomach
It's as if Kanye thinks by randomly throwing in; foreign languages/accents, ballerina's, loud pretty colors and people dressed in all white that he's making an 'art film'. And what's sad is that the average kanye fan (or average person in general for that matter) doesn't know about film like I do (don't get mad. its true), so they have nothing to reference. All they see are pretty images in slow-mo, with artsy shit thrown in here & there and because they have nothing compare it to, they think the its most amazing or unique thing they've ever seen. I'm almost certain the people who labeled 'Runway' an 'art film' don't know anything about that genre past the basic stuff you're supposed to know like; Bergman's 'The 7th Seal' or the work of Stanley Kubrick (which doesn't always deserve the 'Arthouse' label that it gets sometimes). It's funny, you ever notice how whenever a film is SLIGHTLY different from the norm, people compare it Stanley Kubrick, David Lynch or Fellini? I've seen enough work by those directors to know that there's not much of a (WORTHY) comparison outside of the loud, bright colors (which could be compared to some of Kubrick's work if you didn't wanna put much thought in to it), and the dinner party scene as well the scene were the angel is roaming through Kanye's garden (I guess that could be compared to not only Fellini's '8 1/2' but Alain Resnais' 'Last Year at Marienbad' as well).
What I'm really surprised about is how no one has called out West for totally ripping off the visual style of Mathew Barney. And I use the term; "ripping off" because I've heard so many people call 'Runaway' "original", that I'm pretty much forced to use a term that's the complete opposite. For anyone who's seen both; the work of Barney and West's latest video, anyone notice the "similarities" in the visual style? Not too original, huh? And there's nothing wrong with borrowing or paying homage to another film or filmmaker (some of my favorite directors do the same), but dont label what they do as "original" when its clearly not.


But like I said earlier, the average kanye west fan or even hip-hop fan (as sad as it may be) doesn't know who Matthew Barney or Alain Resnais are. They don't know what 'The Cremaster Cycle' is, so they label it 'original'. What's even more insulting is that I'm almost certain that the reason 'Runway' is getting so much praise is because this video came from a black hip-hop artist, and the average person doesn't relate 'black' or 'hip-hop' to 'art' that often. I mean the standards for black film are obviously low. Look at how much praise stuff like; 'Hustle & Flow', 'Precious' or the movies of Tyler Perry get. Seriously, let's be honest here. If Kanye West hired Martin Scorsese or even Spike Jonze to direct this video, and the final product was the same exact video we have right now, EVERYONE would call it pretentious or awful. But because the majority has such low expectations for not only hip-hop music, but black people in general, they give it praise simply because its outside of the "champagne and bitches in bikinis" or Hype Williams world of music videos that people are use to.
So yeah, in case you dont get it by now, I'm not a fan of the video, lol.

Monday, October 18, 2010

MOVIES FOR HALLOWEEN: PART 3

SOCIETY
This movie should be required viewing for ALL on Halloween, especially with a group of friends or at a Halloween party/get-together. If you took elements of Cronenberg, mixed it with the psychological thrillers of Roman Polanski (especially 'The Tenant' and 'Rosemary's Baby'), threw in a touch of Beverly Hills 90210 and bad acting...chances are you'd have this movie. 'Society' never stood much of chance upon its release due to the fact that it was shelved after its completion in 1989. When it was finally released almost 3 years later, the movie had a 'dated' feel to it, especially when compared to the other horror movies and the advancements in special effects in the early 90's. In this cheesy 'body horror'/gore-fest, Billy Warlock (the guy from Baywatch) stars as a confused, paranoid teen that's slowly discovering that his family as well as all of his rich elitist friends are not what they appear to be. All his life, he's been a bit suspicious about the people he's grown up around. He looks nothing like the rest of his family, he's not materialistic like his rich friends and although he's very popular in high school, he still feels like an outsider. After his best friend is mysteriously murdered for uncovering a disturbing secret about their rich society, he starts to do his own investigating and discovers that almost everyone around him is actually a body transforming monster part of an incestuous cult. The special effects in this movie, which are highlighted in the last 30 minutes of the movie, are bound to gross you out and make you laugh at the same time. Anyone in to movies like; 'videodrome', 'troll 2' or the re-animator series (in fact the director of 'Society'; brian yuzna, co-wrote & produced those movies) will love 'Society'. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if Tommy Wiseau got some inspiration for his cult classic; 'The Room' from this movie. Fyi, this movie has been uploaded on youtube in 9 parts.



BUG
After years of awful movies, William Freidken finally returned to his true form with 'Bug' (although it's still not as good as the exorcist or french connection). Friedken was one of those directors from the 'new hollywood' era, along with guys like; James Toback and Peter Bogdonovich, who didn't transfer well in to the 90's with the rest of his peers like; Scorsese and Coppolla. Aside from 'Blue Chips', Friedken fell of hard. It's almost painful to sit through a horror movie like 'The Guardian' knowing it comes from the man responsible for 'The Exorcist'. Like many others, 'Bug' was a late discovery for me. In fact, I think 'Bug' is one of the most underrated movies of the last decade. This psychological thriller/drama about the chance relationship between a disturbed drifter that thinks the government is out to kill him (Michael Shannon) and a lonely women that lost her son years ago, but still thinks he's alive (Ashley Judd) falls in the same category of movies like; 'Clean Shaven' and 'Keane' (both directed by Lodge Kerrigan), which are both great movies that you should you should check out if you haven't. Michael Shannon continues to grow on me as actor. 'Bug' was the first movie that made me take note of his talent. He even makes bad movies like; 'My Son, My Son...' (herzog) or 'Revolutionary Road' watchable just for his performance.



ALIEN 3
This one isn't a classic like the first two, but it's still a really solid movie and very underrated (I don't care what you guys think). Following up after a classic like 'Aliens' is pretty difficult. But when you compare Aliens 3 to every Aliens-related movie to come out since, it's not so bad is it? (although Alien 4 isn't THAT bad either. at least I don't think it is)? For a franchise that had a different director for each movie, id say every one managed to keep the spirit of Aliens while adding their own unique 'look' to each movie. In the third (and what should've been the final) Alien film, Ripley crash lands on a colony/prison full of nothing but men who happen to be religious nuts (who also haven't seen a woman in years, which makes things very tense and awkward for her and some of the prisoners). A facehugger managed to make it on to the ship that Ripley used to escape in the previous film, eventually turning in to an Alien and killing off everyone in the prison/colony. Like I said before, this should've been the final movie in the series. Everything got sewn up as far as I'm concerned. We learn the governments true intentions for the Aliens (to be used as weapons). We learn the story behind the android; 'Bishop'. And most importantly; Ripley, realizing she was impregnated with a queen alien, kills herself. All of the first three Alien films are some of the best examples of science fiction perfectly mixed with horror.


THE KEEP
Along with the Halloween-themed movies I've been watching these days, I've also been revisiting all of Michael Mann's films (miami vice, public enemies, thief, the insider, etc). And as it just so happens, his 2nd feature; 'The Keep' (something I hadn't seen before until a few nights ago) happens to fit in with the Halloween-themed movies as well. In the film a group of Nazi soldiers set up camp at an old castle in Romania. As it turns out, this castle is 'haunted'. Its controlled by a spirit that gets its power from the souls of the people that it kills, and doesn't take kindly to Nazi's. Eventually, all the soldiers die leaving the head Nazi officer (played by Jorgen Purchnow of course) and a jewish doctor (Ian Mcklelen) to try and figure out what's causing these deaths. Even though this movie bombed when it came out, to this day it still has the notoriety of being Michael Mann's most "different" or "oddball film out of all of his work. Nazis being killed off in a haunted castle is quite different from his usual subjects of; criminals, police shootouts and biographies (john dillinger and Ali). The soundtrack, composed by Tangerine Dream (who did the soundtrack to Mann's previous film; Thief), is awesome in some parts, and totally out of place in others.



IMPRINT
This was the infamous episode of 'Masters of Horror' that was apparently so graphic and disturbing that it was cut from the show. I personally don't think it was THAT disturbing overall, but there are a few scenes that are very twisted and hard to stomach. I mean, what else would you except from Takashi Miike. The director responsible for stuff like; 'Audition' and 'Ichi the Killer'. If you aren't familiar with Miike or his films, try to imagine a movie directed by a talented yet sadistic 11 year old who's therapy or outlet is making fucked up movies. I'm not a big fan of his (with the exception of 'Audition'), but I did find 'Imprint' to be the most interesting and non-traditional of all the movies in the 'Masters Of Horror' Series. In 'Imprint', an American Tourist travels back to Japan to find a prostitute that he fell in love with years ago. In order to find her, the american enlists the help of a disfigured prostitute who claims to have a connection with dead souls. We later discover that this disfigured prostitute (and by 'disfigured' I mean she has a parasitic twin in the form of a third hand growing out of the side of her head, due to inbreeding) not only knew the woman that the american tourist is looking for, but also had something to do with her death



WHITE DOG
This movie may not be scary to all of you, but if you're black and happen to love dogs, this may fuck with your head a bit. Sam Fuller's notorious 'White Dog' is about a racist, orphaned dog, and the black animal trainer, played by Paul Winfield, who tries to break the dog's racist teachings. I know this is gonna sound bad, but depending on what mood imp in, this movie can be either very funny or very good. I'm sorry, but that the way I feel. I dunno, but seeing animals jump out nowhere, and attack people is funny to me sometimes. Trust me, I realize this movie is supposed to be taken seriously as a symbol for racism in society. Although Sam Fuller is one of the greatest directors ever, I DO have one serious issue with this movie (and no it's not the plot, and it has nothing to do with race). To those people who have seen this movie; am I the only person to question why this dog was allowed to live without being put down? Let's be honest...during the course of the movie, the dog (BRUTALLY) attacked four people, KILLED one guy, and was still allowed to live. Really? It took that long for people to realize this damn dog needed to die? And more importantly, what kind of people don't press charges on a dog that attacks the shit out them? But, with all that being said, this is still required viewing.



TWILIGHT ZONE: THE MOVIE
In the twilight zone movie, 4 different directors (john landis, spielberg and two other directors) remake 4 different stories, which I believe are based on classic twilight zone episodes from the original tv show (I'm not a twilight zone guy, so I'm not sure). The first story is about an angry/racist white guy who is transported in to different time periods, each time as a different race (a jewish person during WW2, a black person in the 1950's south, and a vietnamese civilian caught by the US military during the vietnam war. The second story is about an old, mysterious, magical negro (played by scatman crothers) with the power to turn old people back in children. The third and fourth stories are the funniest, and what had me laughing. The third story is about a little boy (anthony) who can do whatever he wants whenever he wishes something. He uses his powers to kidnap random people, in order to make them his pretend family. The fourth story is about a paranoid man on a plane who sees a gremlin/monster on the wing of the plane, yet no one else can see it, so everyone thinks he's crazy. It would be nice to see another twilight zone movie like this made today. The opening scene in this movie one of the best openings ever.

Friday, October 15, 2010

MOVIES FOR HALLOWEEN: PART 2

HALLOWEENIE (Pete & Pete)
Ever since season two came out, i always make it a point to watch this episode (which is one of my all time top 5 Pete & Pete episodes ever) during the Halloween season. It brings back so many memories. Aside from the tv show being a major part of my childhood, this specific episode brings back Halloween memories of all the stupid shit me and friends use to do during Halloween once we got to old to dress up and knock on doors for candy, which is basically what this episode is about. In 'Halloweenie', big Pete realizes he's getting too old for Halloween which causes a problem for little Pete. Little Pete wants to break the record for getting the most candy, but he cant do it alone and needs his older brothers help. At the same time, a gang of highschoolers called; The Pumpkin Eaters (led by recurring character; Endless Mike), plan to not only destroy Halloween for all the little kids in town, but hey also try to recruit big Pete in to their gang. Now big Pete is torn between weather or not he should help his little brother on Halloween or grow up and say goodbye to trick or treating. Any Pete & Pete episode with Endless Mike is gold. He's one of the shows best characters (even more than Artie as far as I'm concerned). If you ever wanted to turn anyone on to 'Pete & Pete', THIS would be the episode for sure. This one really highlights the shows unique sense of humor, which i like to call 'G-rated dark humor'.



PARENTS
This is one of my all time favorite movies, and one of my greatest late night cable tv discoveries as a little kid. In 'Parents' (directed by Bob Balaban), a little boy suspects that his parents are serial killing cannibals. His suspicions arise due to his parent's love of eating only meat and the horrific nightmares/visions hes has that show his parents in a disturbing light. This is one of the most original (and underrated) movies of the 80's. 'Parents' has the spirit of; 'Pete & Pete', 'blue velvet', 'heathers' and 'are you afraid of the dark' all rolled up in to one movie. The acting in the movie is really great. In fact, Randy Quaid was nominated for an independent spirit award for his performance in this. The lead kid in this movie never went on to act in anything else, which is a shame because he did a really good job. Also, Bob Balaban has never directed or written anything quite like this ever since. In fact, this seems more like a David Lynch movie. As underrated and forgotten about as this movie may be, it has a small cult audience, and is slowly getting rediscovered thanks to the hulu and the youtube movie channel. Also, even though you cant see any traces of 'Parents' in any of his work, this is one of Darren Aronofsky's favorite movies.



THE REFLECTING SKIN
This movie would make an amazing double feature with 'Parents'. 'The Reflecting Skin' shares the same basic plot as 'Parents'; the disturbing imagination of a child who suspects the adults around him are evil. This movie, like 'Parents' is also VERY underrated. 'The Reflecting Skin' tells the story of 'Seth' and the creepy Midwestern town he lives in. He comes from a dysfunctional home (his father is not only a drunk but has been labeled the town pedophile due to a misunderstanding that took place many years ago and his mother is overly religious and physically abusive). His brother (Played by Viggo Mortensen in one of his earliest roles), has come back from WW2 with a disease that's making him weaker and weaker. He's absolutely convinced that the British woman who lives next door to him is a vampire (she eventually becomes his older brothers girlfriend). And all of his friends are being killed off by a group a serial killers that pray on the young boys in the neighborhood (this aspect of the movie is actually very open to interpretation in that the serial killers might be a split personality of 'Seth' himself, who in reality may be the one killing his friends). This movie has its share of funny scenes, but at the end of the day its a serious film. Like some of the other movies on my Halloween movie lists, this isn't so much a horror movie as it is a psychological thriller/drama. The soundtrack to this movie is great, btw.



HOUSE
This cult Japanese film from the late 70's has regained a new cult following due its recent midnight screenings at IFC and its addition to the criterion collection. If it weren't for criterion/janus films, most people (myself included) wouldn't be exposed to a lot the great Japanese films outside of Kurosawa and Ozu. Even though 'House' is more of a satirical and somewhat cheesy movie, it still falls in to the same category of films like; kwadain or jigoku (which have also been released by criterion), just a lot less serious. This surreal horror/comedy/musical will probably leave you laughing more than frightened, but it still possesses the spirit of Halloween. In 'House', main character; 'Gorgeous' takes her six friends (each with an equally peculiar nickname; 'kung-fu', 'fantasy', 'mac', 'melody', 'sweet' and 'prof') to her aunts house (whom she hasn't seen for years) for the summer, to get away from her father and new stepmother. What they don't know is that not only is Gorgeous's aunt a ghost, but the house they're staying in is haunted. In fact, the actual house itself starts to take on a life of its own and one by one, each of the girls is killed during their stay at the haunted house, each in a different hilarious way (one is killed by a piano that comes to life, one is beheaded, etc etc). The 'House' criterion dvd comes out at the perfect time for the Halloween season (October 26th). This is a great movie to watch with a group of friends.



COMMUNION
'Fire in the sky' might have one of the best alien abduction scenes ever, but the entire movie overall is pretty average. Communion on the other hand is a great movie all around (weather the events are true or not), that kinda got forgotten about over time. The movie, based on the true story of an alien abduction just like 'Fire in the Sky', stars Christopher Walken in the lead role as a man recovering from an alien abduction and the toll it takes on him and his family. This is probably one of Christopher Walken's last performances where actually ACTS instead of playing a character of himself which is pretty much what he's been for the last 15 years or so. In fact, Walken's performance is just as creepy as the aliens in the movie (christopher walken actually kinda looks like an alien to be honest). Speaking of the aliens in the film, that might be the one aspect of the movie that falls short (which is probably due to the budget, judging by how cheap the aliens look). In 'Communion' Walken is visited by two different kinds of Alien race. The first kind are reminiscent of the aliens at the end of close encounters (skinny bodies, big heads and big eyes). While the second group of aliens Walken comes in contact with are little black troll-like aliens. Some people may be turned off by the cheapness of the alien suits and special effects, while some might not mind. If can put that aspect of the movie aside, you'll be able to enjoy 'Communion' for the 1/2 science fiction, 1/2 psychological drama that it is.



ANGST
Any movie that Gaspar Noe counts as one of inspirations is going to intrigue me. Thanks to a multi-region dvd, I was finally able to see this after years and years of only youtube clips. When you finally see 'Angst', and then think back on Noe's work, it'll all make sense as to why this is one of the favorite movies of the guy responsible for 'Irreversible'. In 'Angst', we follow a psychopath who's just been released from prison and the difficult time he has adjusting to life on the outside. It's clear that he should've never been released, and he turns to killing again. A lot of people will look at 'Angst' as nothing more than a slasher film that's just violent for the sake of being violent. But what sets 'Angst' apart from typical slasher movies is its cinematography, which makes me even more sense that it would be one of Gaspar Noe's favorite movies (the cinematography in 'Enter The Void' is especially reminiscent of 'Angst'). In fact I wouldn't be surprised if the cinematography in 'La Haine' was partially inspired by 'Angst'. Similar to how movies like; Bladerunner & Element of Crime, Vertigo & Lost Highway, Parent & The Reflecting Skin and Barton Fink & Eraserhead go together, 'Angst' has a similar relationship with 'Henry: Portrait of Serial Killer'. This movie isn't for everyone.



LET THE RIGHT ONE IN
Vampires seem to be 'in' these days, so I thought id mention at least one of the few good vampire movies out there (i still have yet to see 'Thirst'). Seeing the remake to this movie last night, made me go back and watch the original when I got home. Even though I found the remake surprisingly good (which takes a lot for me to say, because I went in to the remake wanting it to be bad), it made me appreciate the original much more. The remake still retains the spirit of the original version. The story of a lonely boy that becomes friends with a child vampire and the "complicated" relationship between the vampire girl and her 'father'. But the remake is more of a horror movie, whereas the original Swedish version is pretty much an art house drama with a few isolated scenes of gore & violence here & there. The American remake has more of a traditional horror movie soundtrack (tense, dramatic strings that build up to an obvious vampire attack), way more blood, and (like most remakes) there are some parts of the original that were left out in the remake. The biggest contrast between the original and the remake is how its shot. Specifically the lighting of each film. Because the remake is made to be more of a traditional horror movie, the look of the movie is very "dark". It seemed like most of the scenes took place at night. This is a HUGE contrast to the original which is very bright and makes great use of the snowy landscape. The bright white look of the original accentuates the violent and bloody scenes. 'Let The Right One In' is easily one of the best vampire movies to come out in years.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

MOVIES FOR HALLOWEEN: PART 1

THE DESCENT
I had the pleasure of seeing this for the first time at IFC a few months ago. Like many movies, especially movies that involve attractive women stuck in a cave being chased by mutant creatures (which is the story of the descent), I judged this movie without giving it a chance. I gotta learn to stop doing that. Over the last few years, quite a few movies that I've pre-judged have made me put my foot in my mouth. These include; gone baby gone, the assination of jesse james, hot tub time machine (fuck you, it was funny) and me and orson welles. Anyway back to the Descent...In the film, 6 women go exploring in a cave, but one of the girls leads them to where they aren't supposed to go, and they end up getting stuck. What's worse is that they are way out of the boundaries of the campground, so no one will be able to find them. What's EVEN worse is that these 6 women aren't alone. As it turns out, there's a gang of vampire/nosferatu/bat looking people that inhabit the cave they're in and don't take kindly to humans. The 6 women soon discover bones, artifacts and other clues that lead them to believe that not only have these mutant creatures been down in these caves for a very long time, but no human has ever made it out. I'd be lying to you if I said a few horror movies clichés didn't take place, but even the classic horror films have plenty of clichés, so I'm not to hung up on that. This isn't a movie to really nitpick at. There's plenty of startles and scenes that'll make you jump. I have yet to see the sequel to the Descent, but from what I hear it's not that great.


CIGARETTE BURNS
To make up for still not writing about John Carpenter as promised, I figured I'd put one of his films on the list. I mean, John Carpenter and Halloween pretty much go hand-in-hand. His recent short feature, Cigarette Burns, is another late discovery of mine (along with the entire Masters of Horror series that the film belongs to). So far, I've seen most of the episodes in the cancelled Showtime series. The episodes in the two season range from awful (we all scream for ice cream and homecoming) to great (the fair haired child and the damned thing). Cigarette Burns happens to be one of my favorite episodes. Ironically, John Carpenter directed another episode in the series (Pro Life) which was really bad. It stars Ron Perlman as a gun-toting Evangelist who storms in to an abortion clinic to stop his teen daughter from terminating what eventually turns out to be a demon baby. Its heavy handed symbolism mixed with a bad rehashing of Rosemary's Baby. Anyway, in Cigarette Burns, Norman Reedus (one half of the Boondock Saints) plays a man who makes a living collecting and selling rare films. His latest conquest is a movie (La Fin Absolue du Monde), that's so disturbing, that it turns people who come near it either; suicidal or psychotic (or both). The closer Reedus's character gets to finding the film, the more dangerous things become. I look at these masters of horror films as r-rated episodes of nickelodeon's Are You Afraid of The Dark. The acting is over the top at times (sometimes it's bad), the quality of some (mainly the special effects) leave a lot to be desired. What's great about Cigarette Burns is that you don't have to love the horror genre to enjoy the movie. The angle about tracking down rare films should attract any cinephile. Another great thing about this episode is that not only is the dvd sold separately from the entire series, but you can watch it right here...


RUBBER JOHNNY
I thought I'd throw in a short film to change things up a bit. Chris Cunningham is known for his music videos (specifically his work for Bjork and Aphex Twin). In fact, his video for Aphex Twin's Come To Daddy is considered one of the best music videos ever made. Cunningham is one of the few popular MTV music video directors that hasn't graduated to feature length films like his peers; Michel Gondry, Spike Jonze, Mark Romanek and Anton Corbjin. He briefly worked in film years ago. When Stanley Kubrick was in the early development stages of A.I., he had Cunningham develop models for the robots in the film. Things slowly fizzled out, and Kubrick obviously never completed his version of A.I. and went on to make Eyes Wide Shut. Cunningham worked on Alien 3 (directed by another former music video director; David Fincher) as well as Judge Dread. Given the few films he's worked on combined with the imagery from his music videos, i think he'd make a great sci-fi or horror director (god nows we need some original thinkers in the realm of horror these days). For some time now, Cunningham has stuck strictly to music videos (with a few commercials here and there). If you've read the review for Cigarette Burns (above), you'd see that I mentioned one of the features from the masters of horror series; The Fair Haired Child. Rubber Johnny and Fair Haired Child pretty much share the basic plot. A freakish, big-headed, alien-looking child is kept locked away in a room by his parents. Cunningham's Rubber Johnny came out before Fair Haired child, so I can't help but think one influenced the other. Cunningham's short is set to music (Aphex Twin's Afx237 V7) and is shot from the perspective of a video camera in the dark. It definitely has that documentary/blair witch feel (although much more disturbing), mixed the eraserhead baby. In fact I imagine this is what the eraserhead baby would look like if it had arms and legs.



INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS
This is one of the best remakes EVER (in my opinion). This is also a nice a little artifact in that its one of the few memorable movies that star Leonard Nimoy outside of the star trek series (at least from the movies I can recall). With a few exceptions, like the location and the obvious advancements in special effects since the 1950's version, the remake of Invasion of the Body Snatchers remains true to the first one (there's even a cameo from Kevin McCarthy, who starred in the original). After an Alien race crash lands on planet earth (san francisco to be exact), they leave behind a lethal poison that's spreads in to the flowers and plants. Anyone who comes in contact with these plants has their body taken over by an alien (or 'replica'). These replicas look exactly like the humans they've replaced, with the exception that they're emotionless. Slowly, these replicas take over in an effort to eliminate humans, and create a new society free of war, crime, hatred and all the evil things these aliens believe are brought on by human emotion. A group of scientists (Donald Sutherland, Jeff Goldblum, Veronica Cartwright and Brooke Adams), uncover what's going on and try to stop it, but their efforts becomes more and more difficult due to the fact that everyone around them (including the police) have been turned in to aliens (lead by Leonard Nimoy) and are trying to stop them. The standout performance in Invasion of the Body Snatcher is Veronica Cartwright who plays damn near the same exact role that she played in Alien. Most people who've seen this would agree that the best part of the movie is the ending. For those of you interested, this movie is available on youtube (broken up in 11 parts).



LITTLE OTIK
After a couple discover that they can't have children, they go in to a deep depression. In an effort to take their minds off of the bad news, they go on a vacation to their cabin in the woods. While they're out in the woods, the husband see's that nothing is working and his wife is still depressed so he tries to cheer her up by carving a tree stump in to the shape of a baby as a joke. The problem is, the wife is so delusional, she sees the tree stump as an actual baby (whenever the movies shows the mothers perspective we see the tree stump as an actual baby). The husband goes along with it, and they treat this treat stump like an actual living baby. They feed it, put diapers on it, even push it around in a carriage (although when out in public they keep it wrapped up in blankets so no one can see). Things go wrong when the tree stump/baby comes to life and starts to murder some of the local residents. The movie leaves this aspect of the film up to interpretation (as far as I'm concerned). Did the tree actually come to life and kill people, or has the couple gone crazy due to the fact that they can't have children and turned in to serial killers. Half of the movie is told from the perspective of the little girl who lives next door to the couple, who suspects that something's going on (but due to the fact that she's a child, no one listens to her). Even though this little girl is essentially the "hero" of the film, even she has a dark side, and at one point in the film uses the tree monster to kill an old pervert that lives in her apartment building. This is a unique movie, that's very underrated, and has yet to be discovered by many Americans, I imagine almost anyone can enjoy this.


TWIN PEAKS: FIRE WALK WITH ME
David Lynch's prequel to the popular TV show, might not be a horror film in the traditional sense, but there's plenty of scary scenes that'll freak you out. David Lynch has never directed a straight up horror film, but he's no stranger to directing scenes that creep someone out. Eraserhead (which is commonly categorized as a horror film although I disagree), lost highway (robert blakes character), mulholland drive (the man behind the dumpster) and Inland Empire are all full of scenes and characters that tread close to horror. I didn't like Fire Walk With Me at first. I never thought it connected with the show like it should have. The TV show was more quirky and humours (even though it did have its share of serious and dark scenes). The movie (fire walk with me) is MUCH more serious and more dark. This movie tells the story of Laura Palmer and all of the events that lead up to the television show. We learn that not only did Laura Palmer has have a dark side, but the entire town of Twin Peaks isn't the perfect town that it pretends to be (although if you're familiar with the show, this shouldn't be new to you). This is actually another in flaw in the film in that a lot of the discoveries in Fire Walk With Me are nothing new. Even with its flaws, Fire Walk With Me introduces us to new characters (just as quirky and funny as the characters in the TV show). And no matter how much darker the movie is from the TV show, at its core it still maintains the same spirit as the TV show. Most importantly, Sheryl Lee gives one of the best (and underrated) performance of the 90's (in my opinion). In fact, you can kinda see bits and pieces of performances come through in Naomi Watt's performance in Mulholland Drive. I'm surprised Sheryl Lee never became a bigger actress. At the end of the day, this is a nice change of pace for people looking for something other than the typical horror movies we're often drawn to during this time of the year.


Monday, October 11, 2010

BLACK VENUS

As flawed as Black Venus may have been (it's pretty long & grueling), it's still a step forward for Black film/Black stories. And flawed isn't always a bad thing. Sometimes flawed = challenging and that's definitely the case here. It's not your typical movie. For once I didn't have to sit through a movie about the first black athlete to slam dunk a basketball at an ivy league school (we certainly have enough of those to last a lifetime), or a struggling single teen mother (yes I'm taking a shot at Precious), or an aspiring rapping pimp (Hustle n' Flow), or a black sidekick character with an unreasonable loyalty to the white main character (a prototype kept alive by Morgan Freeman & Whoopi Goldberg) or a biopic about a predictable civil rights leader. Black Venus tells the story of Saartjie Baartman (aka "Hottentot Venus") - a South African woman who was shown as a sideshow attraction in a traveling carnival in Europe during the 1800's because of her curvy physique (something Europeans hadn't really seen yet). In her short life not only was she exhibited in what was a essentially a "freak show", but she was used as entertainment for private sex parties, studied by scientists, and even had to work as prostitute in order to make money towards the end of her life.

for those that don't know - the Hottentot Venus has been referenced in pop culture over the years in a pretty distasteful manner...

Even though this was star Yamiha Torres's first time acting, she gave a performance reminiscent of Charlotte Gainsbourg in Antichrist or Isabella Rossellini in Blue Velvet. I make those comparisons because every one of those actresses had to let their guard down and allow themselves to be put through the ringer almost to the point where you kind of feel embarrassed for them at certain points in their respective movies. Naturally Black Venus will draw comparisons to movies like The Elephant Man or even Todd Browning's Freaks the subject matter (not to say that either Saartjie Baartman or John Merrick were freaks, but they were unfortunately treated as such).
Black Venus has the same natural feel as Abdellatif Kechiche's other movies like; Secret of The Grain & Blue Is The Warmest Color (another film, like Black Venus, that pushes boundaries in terms of sex, sexuality and possible exploitation of the female body). My only issue with this movie is that it went on too long (Black Venus clocks in at over three hours). I thought there were WAY too many scenes that focused on her being shown as a freak and hardly none that focused on her back story (outside of a few references here & there). All the scenes where she was paraded around like a sideshow went on for way too long to the point where you want to scream; "ALRIGHT, ENOUGH! WE GET IT!" The last half of the movie in particular has its share of scenes that are very difficult to watch as well.

But Black Venus is also a history lesson (and an important history lesson at that). This is a side of African history/culture that's either brushed aside or ignored. Saartjie Baartman'S story is just as important as Solomon Northrup or the Amistad Slave revolt. In fact - Black Venus is one of the earliest and most prominent films to truly explore the first generation of post-slavery/Black people born in to freedom before 12 Years A Slave. So again - no matter how difficult or flawed this movie may be - it's an important part of history that's never been explored on the big screen which makes it a success in my book.

This is a lot to take in. But perhaps that's the point. The story of the Hotentot Venus can't be fit in to a nice neat 100 minute (most biopic can't). If you follow the career of John Cassavetes you hear lots of stories of people walking out of his movies in the middle due to frustration & fatigue, but they eventually made their way back in to the screening. Black Venus has the same vibe. Sure, the length of the movie is grueling but what other way could Kechiche get his point across without making a grueling film? Her story was hard and he probably wanted the audience to experience a fraction of that.
The ending sequence in Black Venus was very similar to David Lynch film; Inland Empire. Both Black Venus & Inland Empire are very intense and take a lot out of you, but the also feature ending sequences that act as a sigh of relief  (Black Venus ends with actual footage of Saartjie Baartman's remains being shipped back to South Africa after years of being exhibited in a french museum).
Black Venus was a bit of downer. Had I known this would've been such an intense experience, I would have seen one more (lighter) movie to end the festival on. Still - 2010's NY film fest was much better than last year. Even though last year brought us The White Ribbon, (one of the best films of the last decade), it still brought the disappointing Life During Wartime from Todd Solondz and the strange Trash Humpers (another frustrating movie that left a lasting impression on me).

Mawrencol: Best Documentary of the year

Just a few months ago, Exit Through The Gift shop was the "be all, end all" of documentary films in 2010. In a short period of time, films like Best Worst Movie, Winnebago Man and most recently; Mawrencol have all bumped it down to the point where i barely remember it (although i remember it enough to criticize it). Although Exit Through The Gift Shop is entertaining, its nothing new. Even more, there isn't really ANYONE in Exit... that you care about. Banksy, the subject of Exit Through The Gift Shop, is a kind of a prick and totally full of himself when in fact he's just a prankster mislabeled as graffiti artist. Shepard Fairy is pretty much a walking contradiction. His famous "OBEY" tag went from being a comment on consumerism to becoming a hip clothing label, which pretty much goes against everything Fairy was against in the first place. And Thierry Green, aka "Mr Brainwash" is a clueless idiot who not only believes in his own hype but actually thinks hes a real artist. Don't get me wrong, there's no rule that says documentaries have to focus on subject you should care about, but Exit Through The Gift Shop, although entertaining and a good film, is full of nothing but self centered people you don't wanna know in real life. Marwencol is the opposite of that.
Mawrencol is the story of Mark Hogancamp. A man who lost his memory after being brutally attacked outside of a bar 9 years ago. The beating was so bad that not only did he lose his memory, but he lost his the ability to write, walk and a lot of the other basic fucntions we take for granted every day. Over time he re-learns all the basic human functions i mentioned earlier, but still lacked the psychological help needed (he couldn't afford the therapy). To cope with the psychological trauma that still haunts him from the beating, he created his own kind of unique therapy. He built a fictitious 1/6 scale model town called; Mawrencol, complete with bars, stores, a strip club, church and dolls that represent people in his real life (Hogancamp himself, his mother, friends, co-workers, made up people and even the men who attacked him years ago). The major difference between the fake town of Marwencol and Hogancamp's real life, is that Marwencol is set just after world war 2 (late 1940's). All of the men in the town are soldiers in the military (US, British and German), dressed in detailed military uniforms. The US soldier figurines represent the good guys, and the Nazi Officers represent the bad people in the town. As the documentary goes on, we clearly see that the Nazi figures specifically represent the men who attacked him.
Although the documentary is under 90 minutes, you still feel like you've watched two movies. And i mean that in a good way. On one level, you have a documentary about a man working out his demons. On another level, we have the town of Marwencol and all the adventures that Hogancamp acts out (similar to a child playing with action figures, altho in Hogancamp's case its obviously a lot more serious). Some the adventures that Hogancamp re-enacts with the figures of Marwencol include; battles with the Nazi figures, cat fights between the women (barbie dolls) of Marwencol and one adventure in particular that clearly represent his attack in real life.The dolls in the film all have a personality of their own, and they almost come to life in the pictures that Hogancamp takes of them. Hogancamp's fake town is actually more than just a way to work through his demons. It also teaches him patience. Each Doll has its own unique look, outfit and hair, all crafted, sewn and painted by Hogancamp himself with an amazing level of detail. Later on in the documentary, the photographs that Hogancamp takes of his model town, which almost look like real people, are discovered by a local art magazine, and they become the subject of an art show in New York City. This causes a bit of conflict in that Hogancamp's therapy has now become art for the whole world to see.
This definitely the best documentary I've seen so far this year. Mark Hogancamp is quite the character himself, reminiscent of a subject that Errol Morris might document in one of his films. The documentary itself; a man dealing the psychological trauma of memory loss after a brutal attack reminded me of some of Herzog's documentaries, specifically; Little Dieter Needs to Fly and Wings of Hope. This should not be missed.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Another Year

This is the third movie I've seen at this years NY film fest, and so far its been 3 for 3. Instead of writing about Mike Leigh's latest; Another Year right away, i needed a couple of days to let it sink in. At first, i thought the movie was just "good". I had nothing bad to say about it, but i didn't think it was on the level of Leigh's other movies like Naked or Vera Drake. Now that the movie has finally sunk in a bit, and I've had a few days to think about it, i finally see this movies greatness. Great acting (which is ALWAYS the case in any of Mike Leigh's movies), a subtle yet powerful ending about loneliness and a complex mix of both comedy and drama. Another Year falls more in to the high hopes/life is sweet/all or nothing category and less in the naked/secret & Lies/vera drake category of Mike Leigh films. He continues to stick to his regular theme of focusing on "regular", everyday (english) people, and the ups & downs that we can all relate too (although Leigh does tend to focus a little more on the "down" from time to time).
Another Year centers around happily married couple; Tom (husband) and Gerri (wife), played by Mike Leigh regulars; Jim Broadbent & Ruth Sheen, and the people that pass through their lives. They may have problems like any other married couple in their 60's, but at the end of they day, life is great for them. However, it seems that everyone around them has problems. During the coarse of the film (which spans a year), family and friends visit, and at some point or another wind up unloading their problems on the couple. These characters include; Mary (Played by Lesley Manvile) - a depressed, lonely, (and sometimes) annoying co-worker of Gerri's, who also happens to have a crush on Tom & Gerri's son. Ken - Tom's younger brother, who's smoking, drinking and eating himself in to an early grave. And Tom's older brother who's having a tough time copping with the recent death of his wife (not mention he and son haven't been on speaking terms in years). Like i said before, Tom & Gerri may have flaws like anyone, but the film doesn't focus on their problems. Leigh sculpts the 2 main characters out to be very paternal and warm, making it a natural thing to confide in them.
The two actors who stood out the most were; Lesley Manville and Imelda Staunton (who's most famous role was in Mike Leigh's Vera Drake, which i consider one of best movies of the last decade). Even though Staunton was only in 2 scenes, she managed be the 2nd most memorable character in the film, playing a depressed housewife who when ask to think of the last time she was happy cant recall anything. Its kind of amazing how an actor can play a completely depressed person, nothing comical in the performance at all, yet we're still meant to laugh at that person. This is another example of Leigh's complex mixture of comedy and drama. Lesley Manville probably gave the performance of her career as far as I'm concerned. Although at the same time, one of my main concerns about the film has to do with that character. It seems like she's the only character in the film that remains the same from beginning to end. Everyone grows except her. In addition to those standout actors, the rest of the cast is great as well.
If you aren't familiar with Leigh's work, i would actually recommend this as an introduction to his films (although i would recommend Life is Sweet or Naked. Its not as intense as Naked (although Another Year does have its serious moments) although not as light-hearted as Happy Go Lucky. It has a lot of his regular actors, and a lot of his common themes found in all his other movies. Another year is almost like a throwback to his early bbc tv plays (for those of you familiar with them), that's slightly more polished, but with authentic realism and rawness.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Running Scared: Guilty Pleasure

Lemme start of by saying that this movie was obviously made by people on cocaine. From the director, the writer, the cinematographer and ESPECIALLY the editor. But at the same time, i honestly enjoyed this. Never looked at my watch once, didn't even surf the net while the movie was playing. Normally i cant stand the style of film making that Running Scared falls under. You know that; coke induced/crazy editing/natural born killers-era oliver stone/fight club/awful rob zombie shit that people in their late teens/early 20's seem to love so much. People even go so far as to group classic films like Clockwork Orange in with that kinda garbage (which is why ive stopped telling people that Clockwork is one of my favorite movies). And as much as i love Dareen Aronofsky (and CANT WAIT for black swan), even Requiem for a Dream gets lost in that kinda shit from time to time. I'm not trying to sound like a prick or anything, but i think that kind of film making is cheap. It often leaves you going; "what is going on??" Whats even worse, is that it leaves stupid people thinking that these kind of movies are "cutting edge" or something new. No. They're not. Just because a movie is super violent movie, shot with a nice camera and every other word in the script is "cock-sucker", doesn't make it great.
Now, cutting edge and new are two things that Running Scared are NOT, but its very fun too watch. Totally unbelievable, but it didnt even bother me that much. I mean, in the 18 hour period that the movie takes place in (that's right, not even 24 hours), our characters cross paths with the Russian mob, crooked cops, evil pimps, serial killing pedophiles and theres quite a few shootouts. Whats even more unbelievable is that half of those encounters aren't even related to one another. Random shit just happens all through out the movie.The fact that i like this movie may have some people that know me pretty well scratching their head. But I'm sorry, i enjoyed it (in a guilty pleasure kinda way). I wont be watching it again any time soon, but it was cool for what it was. In Running Scared Paul Walkers plays Joey; A low-level criminal trying to work his way up through the ranks of the mafia. After a drug deal involving the mob that Joey works for goes bad, and crooked cop is killed in the process, Joey is given the gun that killed the crooked cop and told to make it disappear.
So, like a dumb ass, instead of throwing it in the river or something, he takes it home and hides it. The problem is, Oleg, a friend of Joey's son (played by Cameron Bright, the creepy kid from Birth and X-men 3) happens to find the gun and he takes it home and uses it on his abusive father (which now makes the gun evidence in yet another crime). After shooting his shooting his father, he runs away, and then through different encounters the gun gets passed on from one person to the next (similar to the plot in Robert Bresson's L'argent, where we see a fake bill pass from one person to the next, and watch the problems that arise with each person that comes in contact with it). Now the police (both crooked & straight), the mob, and Joey are all trying to find the gun. I know the movies sounds like some knock-off Tarantino/Smokin Aces/Guy Ritchie shit, but trust me, this movie is so ridiculous, its fun.
Oleg, the little kid on the run, probably has the most interesting story in the whole movie. He gets in to more shit than any other character. After he shoots his father and runs away, he gets caught up in way too much shit for anyone (kid or not) too handle. First he saves a prostitute from her pimp. Then he gets kidnapped by a serial killing pedophile couple disguised as a wholesome christian husband & wife. Don't worry, nothing happens to him. He's saved in the nick of time by Joey's wife (played be Vera Farminga). Vera Farmiga is probably the best thing about the movie. Besides the fact that shes beautiful, she (along with Chaz Palmentari) are probably the only 2 cast members that bring legitimate acting to the movie. Paul Walker does that same Keanu Reeves/Point Break acting that he does in every other movie he's in (using an accent that i still figure out. One minute hes from boston, the next minute hes from 1950's booklyn). And all of the other characters are just over-top stereotypical russian mobsters and italian mafia thugs.
The climax of the movie is also great (once again, in a guilty pleasure kinda way), where the mob tortures Joey by having hockey players shoot pucks at his face.
In strange way, this movie kinda reminded me of a dumb-downed version of Romeo is Bleeding. Calm Down. We all know Romeo is a far superior film. Paul Walker's performance in Running Scared (or any movie for that matter) doesnt come close to Gary Oldman in Romeo Is Bleeding. But the mix of violence, randomness, mobsters, impefect protagonists in Running Scared reminds me of Romeo is Bleeding.
We all need a stupid movie every once in a while to balance all the serious shit we watch. I myself ususally turn to movies like Pootie Tang or Grandmas Boy.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Ok, so im watching Aliens, and i have a little problem with something...

Alright, real quick...I'm watching Aliens, and something hit me. Anyone who knows me well, knows that's theres things in certain movies that really irritate me. The Baseball Furies from The Warriors are a perfect example. I never understood why these guys where always the poster children for that movie. THEY SUCKED. Think about it, they had The Warriors outnumber in an almost 3:1 ratio (WITH BASEBALL BATS), and still managed to get there asses kicked (by one guy too in all actuality). No one ever seems to notice that. And EVERY Halloween, time after time, we see the same shitty baseball furry outfits. I don't get it. They're dressed up as pussies.
Anyway, back to Aliens. My issue with a certain aspect in this movie is similar to my little issue with The Warriors. I dunno, but i coulda sworn that the group of soldiers Ripley was traveling with were supposed to be the baddest group of mercenaries around. Maybe its just me, but it seemed like at the first sign of danger, Bill Paxton's characters turned in to a bitch. Like, RIGHT away. I mean, did he even actually see an alien before he turned in to a little girl? I don't think anyone's every brought that point up. Sure, everyone who's seen Aliens knows that Bill Paxton's character was a cry-baby. It seems like theres one in every movie. Just look at the first one. It seemed like all Veronica Cartwright did was scream and cry from beginning to end (a role she pretty much reprised in the invasion of the body snatchers remake). But i don't think people realized HOW QUICKLY Paxton turned in to a scared little girl. This may seem silly or even petty to some of you, but its hilarious to me. Remember in beginning when Bill Paxton was acting all cocky, arrogant and tough (like the rest of his fellow soldiers)? Like nothing could phase him. I mean i imagine special space mercenaries, like we're lead to believe they were, had to have seen some pretty heavy shit (especially with those kinda weapons they had). Space Pirates with laser guns. Crazy mutant space animals. They mustve battled other soldiers with crazy tanks and all sorts of new-age guns we don't even know about. In aliens, it was like the first sign of danger, and all of a sudden; "well that's great...that's just fuckin great, man. now what the fuck are we supposed to do?!?!"

CERTIFIED COPY (*UPDATED FOR 2012*)

So its movie #2 of this year's 2010 New York Film Festival. Certified Copy has been in the works for over 2 years and it finally made its way to America. Fresh off of seeing The Social Network less than 12 hours ago, this was a nice change of pace (although this doesn't mean i didn't enjoy social network, because i did). For the simple fact that this movie is clearly aimed at intellectuals and romantics, two things I'm not, I'm surprised that i liked this movie as much as i did. Certified Copy had a lot of great qualities. The movie was a throwback to the classic romantic films like; L'eclisse and Last Tango in Paris, while processing the playfulness found in Godard's A Woman is a Woman but more mature than Godard and less explicit as Tango In Paris. Juliette Binoche, who's never looked more beautiful, gave a great performance (reminiscent of actresses like; Monica Vitti and Anna Karina) and not only was this director; Abbas Kiarostami's first film set outside of Iran, it was his first film outside of his comfort zone in all together. Usually, Kiaorstami envokes the spirit of Bergman more than any other director. I mean, his most famous film; Taste Of Cherry, could easily be compared to Bergman's Wild Strawberries. His other films typically deal with Islam, spirituality, or center around children. Certified Copy is a tad bit surreal, multi-lingual (English, french and Italian...three languages Kiarostami has never worked in) and there's no sign of religious spiritualism. To my knowledge this is all new territory for him.
In Certified Copy Juliette Binoche plays an art gallery owner in Italy who spends the day with an Author (played by William Shimell) who's in town on a book tour. When they're mistaken for husband and wife by an old lady they decide to go with it for the rest of the day, and pretend they've been married for 15 years. And although they're playing a game with one another, they REALLY act like a married couple and never break character. They get in to intense arguments about petty stuff that never happened in their made up past, reminisce about the fake anniversary they never really spent together, and discuss their made up son they have (although Binoche's character does have a son in the film). At certain points in the movie as they aimlessly wander around the Italian countryside they come across 3 (actual) couples at completely different stages in their relationships (a newlywed couple, a middle-age couple and an old couple). Kind of obvious symbolism but i still like the way it was pulled off. Eventually the game turns in to reality and the two really fall in love with each other.
For people who aren't in to romance films set in a 24 hour period like; Before Sunset or Before Sunrise (which I'm not), this may be the answer for you. The dialogue/script is very intelligent (the subplot of the film deals with the study of authentic art vs. fake art) and the romance isn't sappy. In fact at no point in the movie do the lead actors kiss (yet the film can still be categorized as a love story).
I'm more than impressed with the job Abbas Kiarostami did. Usually when a director steps outside of his or her comfort zone for the first time, you can still see shades of their other work. Take The Social Network (mentioned earlier) for example. Everyone knows David Fincher has range. I mean, Se7en, Alien 3, Fight Club and The Social Network really have nothing to do with each other, but you can tell they all come from the same guy. Same thing with a guy like Soderbergh. The Informant, Oceans's 11, Sex Lies & Videotape and The Limey are all totally different from one another (plot-wise), but you can still see Soderbergh's style in all of those movies. Certified Copy almost feels like it was directed by someone other than Kiarostami.
According to the opening credits it looks like IFC films will be putting this movie out, so i wouldn't be surprised if this got released before the year is over.

*With this set to be released on criterion in a few months I figured I'd go back and give it a revision/revisit.* 

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