Thursday, September 30, 2010

Movies everyone but me have seen: The Burbs

I *finally* saw The Burbs for the very first time a couple days ago. I came home from the last day at the Arizona Film Festival to discover my girlfriend was about to watch it and wanted me to as well. At first mention of the idea I sorta got bitchy with her; "Holy shit! I have just sat through 6 hours or so of movies!" is what I felt like saying, but, I just sorta mumbled "sure" and sat on the couch. Now, in the past I would deliberately not see movies that everyone else felt like I needed to because they thought it was "amazing" or "the best movie ever" (Rocky Horror being the main one, still have not seen it). The main reason for this being most people I talked to have utterly piss poor taste in film but it could also have to do with the fact that I am sort of a prick.

Anyways, The Burbs is one of those movies that I never saw growing up and decided to give it a whirl for two reasons: (1) when one has watched three movies in an older movie theater seat the fourth one is more inviting at home on a nice couch and (2) in the most private sector of my mind, I consider Tom Hanks a great actor. After an onslaught of underground movies over the previous three days the Burbs ended up being a really good "comedown" movie. I laughed quite a bit, nearly all the roles were perfectly played in this film and I really wanted to hang out in the neighborhood they all live in. It does not even have to try to be that good and it just ends up being good.

I fell asleep about an hour into this but watched it again the next day and loved it. I got all nostalgic and felt like going on an 80's-early 90's comedy binge but decided against it, I have better things to do, like watch other movies, though I am pretty sure that most of those cheesey comedies from the Pryor-Martin-Murphy-Murray-Chase-Candy etc.. era are still funnier then most modern ones. The more modern emo-comedy genre has some good ones but that did not really exist back then. The brotherly love of three neighbors coming together to protect the neighborhood while maybe learning some life lessons along the way is emotional as it gets in the comedies of the late 80's and that's fine with me, keep all the heavier emotional bullshit out of this, lets just laugh and keep it simple.

The only real bad part about this movie is Corey Feldman.... I think that last part is self explanatory.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Movies to Revisit: The Bad News Bears

The Bad News Bears


















The Bad News Bears is possibly the greatest baseball, or even sports, movie ever made.  If you disagree, we could talk about it but you'd probably be wrong because you'd probably say three words in conjunction that I never want to hear again for the rest of my life, Field of Dreams.  Field of Dreams is dog shit.  If it's your favorite movie you don't know anything about baseball, or life.  Anyway, if you haven't seen The Bad News Bears in awhile I highly urge you to check it out again.  It has so many things going for it.  Just watch the trailer.  Note that in 1976 a trailer deemed appropriate for all audiences contained both the word "nigger" as well as "spic."  And look at the way Walter Matthau (for years I thought of him as Buttermaker in his other movie roles as if in his previous life he had been an actor not a minor league baseball player who struck out Ted Williams) chews the fuck out of the scenery.  I can't recommend this movie highly enough, if just for seventies kitsch.  It has a classic seventies actor, Matthau and a classic 70's director in Michael Ritchie.  Plus Kelly Leak defines middle school bad ass in this movie.
I wasn't even going to address the remake but feel like I have to say something:  It sucks.

Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole (Imax 3D)

Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole














I saw it, can we just leave it at that?

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Arizona Underground Film Festival Part 1

Over the last two days I have probably watched enough "underground" films that it would be deemed dangerous by the British film commission. I sat through 2.5 films on Thursday night (Earthling, Ticked Off Trannies with Knives and Nude Study) and then did 3 in a row last night (The Last Lovecraft: Relic of Cthulhu, Robo Geisha and Nude Nuns with Big Guns) and plan to do three again tonight. So far (when I can see through all the random crazy scenes that are looping through my head) I give the film festival two very enthusiastic thumbs up (four of the six so far are good to great movies). Never being to a film festival before I did not really know what to expect but its pretty awesome; so far out of the movies I have seen the directors showed up for two of them for a little q and a which is a nice treat; its really cool to hear filmmakers talk about their film before and after viewing it. There are really only two downsides to this whole ordeal, the turnout being one and how bad my ass hurts from sitting in the screening room for hours being the other... I think the most people I saw in the theater at one time was about 20-25 and as low as 2 or 3 for the 11pm showings the last two nights (Granted, I have only been to one theater for only two nights) . Hopefully enough money is made over the entire week to support this again next year because its fucking fan-tastic (did I mention drinks/snacks are only 1 buck each??). Ok, on to the movies, which I am going to list in the order that I enjoyed them ...

Earthling - This was the movie I was looking forward to the most based on the descriptions in the Film Fest program guide, hailed as "one of the best Sci-Fi films to come out this year" all I could think of was how awesome "Moon" was last year. The trailer for this film is good as well, music that lures one in and ideas that seem interesting but it all ends there. If this *does* end up being the best of the year then count me out for anything else that follows. This movie was a piece of shit, while the plot could have been pretty cool it was nearly impossible to follow due to horrible storytelling and nearly as bad acting. This was the first movie I saw at the fest and while I somewhat enjoyed watching it by the end I was left with a few questions (the major one being why even put this out in the current form), like, why is the supporting actress referring to the lead as "mother" and as her "wife" being that the lead was this girls teacher in high school and she is underage. This does not seem to phase the teacher as a lesbian scene endures and all is explained because they are all "aliens" blah blah blah blah blah, roll credits. Did I mention there is an 8-10 year old pregnant girl as one of the main characters as well?? Horrible presentation, decent story on paper. I told a few of my friends to come out to this movie and while they all suck because no one showed up (which shows I in fact have no real friends) but its also great because they would have thought I was a fucking moron.. Maybe I am just not smart enough for this film, but I doubt it because I am hailed as a fucking genius around my piers and have awesome taste in film..and on that note, next movie.



Nude Study - So far this is the most "experimental" film I have seen at the fest. I am not even entirely sure what it was about but it also had a fair amount of lesbian motifs as well. It seemed like a decent enough movie, about a girl that is commissioned to go Alaska in the dead of winter to work on short art films but I was so tired trying to watch this at 11pm that I could not stay awake and checked out around midnight. It did have some really nice shots of the Alaskan countryside in the dead of winter. I did not see any of the scenes that include eating fried chicken while pouring milk all over oneself in the nude but these scenes are depicted in the trailer below so I know they do in fact take place at some point in the film. This opened with a short titled "An Affair With Dolls" which was a decent 11 min. horror narrative which had a creative way of telling a dark and disturbing tale which had a nice twist on the ending with a good score.





What is this, a short before the movie? Yeah, I forgot to mention that before *every* movie a short is being played as well, which is another plus in my book; this format works out great and I wish all movies would learn from this. A good short will not waste your time and you really don't need to give up much either for it.. its a win/win.

Ticked Off Trannies With Knives - Wow, what a title ehh? All I knew about this one before going into it was that John Waters loved it and GLAAD (Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) wanted it banned so it was already gold in my book. TOTWK is a throwback to the exploitation films of the 70's and more specifically almost an homage to the golden years of John Waters.

The movie is really sleazy in a wonderful way , basically about a guy (who apparently got most of his acting tips from Bill Moseley in texas chainsaw massacre 2 and more recently Devil's Rejects, looks and acts, which is not really a bad thing) who goes home with a women and then finds out she is really a dude. He gets angry, takes some pretty brutal revenge on a group of Transexual guys and in return some of these "ladies" take even more brutal revenge on a group of Transexual haters including the Bill Mosley wana-be (he is the lead and all). I not sure why GLAAD wants to ban this movie, I mean these "gals" get some *serious* revenge on the villains which makes the viewer feal pretty good; these be some nasty villains. If this film was not somewhat a comedy It would be hard to watch , it is brutal to the max but like a John Waters flick its lots of fun and does not take itself to seriously, I mean just look at the damn title. One would think GLAAD would love this film, I am sure that this type of hate filled violence does happen in real life but how often do the victims really get revenge?? Overall I really dug this movie, funny, shocking and very entertaining..



The short before TOTWK was Demiurge Emesis which was a really short little creative blurb about the life of artists shown through animation of a mummified cat and the skeletons of its past meals. It was narrated by Danny Elfman and was a visual treat at 3 minutes long.

DemiUrge Emesis from Aurelio Voltaire on Vimeo.



Thats it for today! My first day at the film fest summed up above, more to come soon. Oh, also, Nude Nuns with Big Guns (World premiere was last night) is some of the most bad-ass cinema I have ever seen on the big screen, more on that later.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Town

The Town















The Town was really frustrating.  As much as I like a good heist flick, this just wasn't it.  I didn't really want to see it that bad but it has Chris Cooper in it and I have a rule where I see every movie with Chris Cooper in it. Turns out he only has a bit part and it was pretty stupid but the rule remains.  Anyway, Ben Affleck should've stayed behind the camera in this one, he just doesn't have the acting chops to pull off the sociopath with the heart of gold, which I will admit is hard to do since that person doesn't exist in real life.  He gets roundly out acted by Jeremy Renner who should find better stuff to be in besides this messy film.  It's Affleck's second directorial project and the second one he has set in Boston.  The first was much better, Gone, Baby, Gone, but this did have a few charms.  I really like Rebecca Hall although it was hard to buy her in this roll as a really oblivious woman who somehow managed to be made the manager of a bank. I think Affleck could make a really good movie but we'll see if he does.  I have my doubts.

The American

The American


















I liked The American.  I lot of people will criticize it for being to slow and lacking in action but I just didn't think it was that kind o movie.  I think it's misleading in representing itself as some kind of thriller.  It was kind of just an erotic travelogue wherein the main character found time to procure a weird rifle and then build a silencer for it all the while making it with a beautiful Italian prostitute.  I'm no expert or anything but I have to imagine the smaller the Italian village, the more homely the whores but maybe I've got it backwards.  Also, does anyone in American movies wear more expensive sunglasses than George Clooney?  He breaks out at least three pairs of sunglasses that cost more than a semester at Pima.  I guess he packed them in his hit man bag.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Movies, That If You Haven't, You Need to See

The River's Edge

Movies, That If You Haven't, You Need to See

La Haine











Trailers for Movies that Look Good

Down Terrace














Windfall











Inspector Bellamy

Dog Pound

Dog Pound














Dog Pound was a decent indie movie about three young criminals incarcerated in a juvenile correctional facility.  It reminded me a lot of some of the Alan Clarke movies like Scum and Made in Britain.  It was pretty visceral and may have overplayed the violence a little but I thought most of the performances were really exceptional.  This was a particularly bleak movie.  It didn't offer even a glimmer of hope for any of the protagonists and ended on a really dark note.  The thing that made Dog Pound work for me was it's lack of commentary on its subject matter.  It would have been real easy for the director, Kim Chapiron to add some preachy parts about the evils and ills of America's prison system but he withheld. He's a very young French director, with one other movie under his belt, Sheitan, and I think he has some real potential.
Fans of Degrassi:  The Next Generation (Guilty!) will recognize Shane Kippel (Spinner) in the role of Davis, a small time drug dealer.  And if you're seriously a fan of this guy, get on youtube and watch the dozens of weird montages set to shitty Canadian rock music about is character from the show.

Resident Evil: Afterlife 3D

Resident Evil Afterlife 3D













I drove up to Foothills to see this on the 3D IMAX screen pretty much just to check out the theater.  It was nice.  The sound was pretty amazing.  Probably the best sound in any theater in town and the screen was pretty nice too.  I still think the huge downstairs screen at the Loft is better but it can't match the sound.  This was also the first of the new 3D movies that I've seen.  It didn't really do anything for me. Some of the 3D effects were kind of cool, I guess.  I mean, it was a Resident Evil movie so I don't know what I was expecting.  Oh, wait, yes I do, nothing.  What did look pretty good was Tron Legacy in 3D.
The movie picked up pretty much where the last one left off and quickly proved that it didn't matter.  It was evident from the beginning that I was just going to be waiting for fucked up zombies to die in outlandish ways and maybe for some shit to blow up.  I didn't have to wait long to be underwhelmed by either.
One thing I noticed about these movies, I've seen them all and think for the most part they're a little underrated for what they are, is that the more lines Milla Jovovich has, the more inane and ridiculous the movie becomes.  In this movie she has a lot of lines.
Another thing I found out about the Foothills theater is that all movies during the week are five bucks.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Dogtooth

Dogtooth













Initially, I thought Dogtooth was going to be some sort of shocking, excruciating exercise.  The real shocker of the movie, however, was how funny I thought it was.  I laughed more during Dogtooth than I have for any so called comedy during the last couple of years.  Going in I was expecting something Lars Von Trier-y or Michael Haneke-ish but what I got was a comedy sort of akin to oddball seventies stuff like Eating Raoul or Little Murders.  It was such a pleasant surprise.  Don't get me wrong, it was weird and probably off putting to most viewers but I was really into it.  The performances of the kids in the movie, especially the older daughter were phenomenal.  This dance scene cracked me up to no end.
It also made me realize that I don't think I have ever seen a Greek movie before.  I've seen a lot of the Costa-Gravas stuff but I'm pretty sure most people consider those French.  The language hit my ear a little wobbly but it sounded pretty great with most of the deadpan delivery in this movie.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Machete

Machete
















Machete, Machete, Machete.  I knew what I was getting into with this one.  I put myself in the frame of mind to enjoy the gore, the violence, the hot ladies, all of it.  I was ready.  Then I saw it.  I was underwhelmed.  The camp was there, but so was the border commentary.  Though I support amnesty for all illegals and think most of our legislation on the subject is blatantly racist, I didn't need it delivered to me in this fashion.  I would have enjoyed a little more subtlety.  Of course, why would I expect subtlety from Robert Rodriguez?  Overkill is his specialty.  So I won't dock him points for that.  Plus, there were parts of the movie that I really enjoyed.  The performances were almost universally bad and the story was hackneyed and predictable but there was a spirit to the movie that I enjoyed which is where the real success of the movie lies.  It's hard to see thinly veiled big screen versions of John McCain (Robert De Niro) and Joe Arpaio (Don Johnson) get their just desserts, Mexican blood bath style and not feel at least a little giddy on the inside.
After a series of silly and dull performances I'm starting to wonder if we've seen the last of Robert De Niro in relevant roles.  He hasn't been worth watching since Jackie Brown, or I'll give you Ronin which had a sweet car chase, and that was ten years and 22 movies ago.  He isn't alone though, Al Pacino and Jack Nicholson have been drowning in poor performance and worse movies for the same duration (Nicholson has fared a little better at least, since he was in the Departed but he was also in Anger Management).  It was weird to see him get out acted by Jeff Fahey in this one. And while I love Danny Trejo as a character actor, I actually think he could handle weightier work, he wasn't able to carry the film.  So while I liked certain aspects of the movie, in the end I feel like a joke movie trailer should probably just stay a joke movie trailer.

Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World

Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World













I really just did not like this movie.  It wasn't just Michael Cera either who I just can't seem to buy in any romantic lead.  While he has grown on the rest of the movie going populace like a mold (albeit a rather harmless one) I just can't seem to enjoy his work.  What's his appeal?  His ineptness?  His avian quality?  I do think he would be great for a remake of Harold and Maude.  Except instead of Harold, he would play Maude.  Seriously, for most of any movie he's in I half expect him to pull out a shawl and put it on.  He looks like he can constantly feel a draft.
My real issue with the movie was its self awareness.  I don't want movies to know they are movies.  In comedies, I don't want the characters in on the joke.  With the endless comic and video game references, Scott Pilgrim really narrowed its target audience.  I suppose I just fall outside of that target.  For instance, some might delight over a climax in which bony bird boy Michael Cera uses fake karate moves to fight the short swarthy charm of Jason Schwartzman (whom I actually do like, just not here) but to me it just seems ridiculous and unwatchable.  Probably because I get the feeling that in reality I could fight both of them at the same time and come out the victor.  Everyone else that I saw it with, really enjoyed it.  I, however, laughed exactly once.  I'm sure it will be a movie that people watch for a long time to pine for the times we're currently in but I couldn't find anything to enjoy at all.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Black Death

I watched this last night, pretty good flick, great costumes and scenery (Germany I think?? Great forests and ruins).. For being a movie about the black plague it was really not that gruesome and quite entertaining, great characters ... but poor Sean Bean, guy just cant get a break in any movie nor does the future look to bright - from this role to Ned Stark on HBO's Game of Thrones (Oh man, I can't wait!), poor guy, but even so Ulric (Sean Bean's character) is pretty bad ass in his devotion to 1300's era Christianity (aka blind faith) to the very... err (spoiler!) end... Could Borimer handle this daunting position that was cast over him in this film? Not even! If that crappy ring was a package deal that included being drawn and quartered would its brainwashing zeal actually work? The band of questing outcasts in this film are pretty bitchin as well, see for yourself :



That guy way to the left, "Mold", is seriously bad-ass, right up to the very (shit.. spoiler) end.. The dude 2nd to the right, "Ivo" is also a tough bastard (right to the very..!.. err , nevermind), I duno who would win a kill off with Mold, but Ivo would definitely be close ... that dude to the far right would not even be close and is hands down the puss of the bunch, cant you tell?

There are a couple movies that seem sort of in the same vein as this that I want to see : Valhalla Rising and centurion and another I saw called Sauna that was good ... All seem like darker mid-budget "period" films and so far two out of four are worthy of praise, 'tis nice to see some variety out there.

Serbian Film (Srpski film)

If you peruse in the realm of underground film and video nasties you may have already caught wind of Serbian Film. Catch phrases such as "THE most sicking movie EVER made" have been associated to it and just recently at SXSW (first screening in the USA as I understand) word of mouth says one moviegoer passed out and broke their nose trying to escape the horror being presented to them onscreen. This would all seem trivial to me given that extreme cinema seems to be at its peak; I feel like I read about the next big gross out movie every other week.

A little background first... I grew up on horror movies and seeked out many of the extreme horror movies of the world passionately for years. I gave up this search a few years back (there is only so much one can watch) but decided to give Serbian film a whirl after reading a few reactions it was receiving.

Why is any of this important??
Because I feel I have plenty of backing to proclaim that Serbian film IS one of the most (if not THE most) vile and disturbing films ever made.

Serbians film premise can be seen in the preview (first being the censored cut, second being the original Red Line trailer, warning, its graphic):


A Serbian Film - Trailer
Uploaded by Strange-Movies. - Full seasons and entire episodes online.



It would be worthless to go into any details on why Serbian film is so sick and twisted that it puts others in the same genre to shame (it would not be fit in this context, has to be seen in the original form) but it is worthwhile to note that seldom has there been (if ever) a movie in the "shock N Gore" genre that is so polished; great camerawork, surprisingly good acting, above average FX and a score of various electronica tracks by a single composer that is very fitting and true to the grittiness of the film. Whew! That being out of the way (its somewhat difficult to give praise to Serbian film) I would have a hard time recommending this movie to anyone. As lame as it feals to say Serbian film is the creame of the crop for "torture porn" movies , well, it really is.

It personally satisfies me to see a film come along out side of movies that made the "torture porn" genre mainstream (Saw, Hostel and plenty of other American "horror" garbage) and proceed to piss all over them WHILE putting the nail in the coffin for any others who might think they are the next big shock. Not only did Serbian film make all before it seem as childsplay it really leaves no room for anything to come after, end of story. While many proclaim to be shocking and unbearable they prematurely fail at this due to favoring a certain type of audience while keeping a safe "R" rating. Serbian film on the other hand does not give a flying fuck about ratings and satisfying any audience which is somewhat respectable. If this genre of film is noteworthy at all them Serbian film is the most worthwhile and easily number one.

Well folks, if it was not clear before, here it is : You want the most fucked up , shocking, in-your-face and no holding back anything for the imagination movie ever made??? Serbian film it is. If your in Tucson and would want to glory of seeing this on the big screen (you sick person you) it will be playing at the Underground Arizona Film fest later this month. Way to go Tucson! A graphic of Serbian Film on the awesome "keep Tucson shitty" t-shirt with the screening date (2nd time in America) would be a good idea.. Hell, this movie just got pulled from one of the most premiere fantasy and horror film festivals (Frightfest UK) due to content; the UK Board of Film Classification wanted to apply 49 individual cuts to the film – around four minutes worth of material....

You have been warned, these images will linger in the sub concise for a while, not easily shaken and if I was in the gun to head scenario forced to make a decision on Serbian film I would give it a hesitantly positive mark.