Thursday, April 29, 2010

Halloween

The Takeaway: You wanna scare the hell out of people? Pretend William Shatner is a mechanic and then dress up like that. It helps if you breathe like Darth Vader.

Format: DVD

The blueprint for how to make a truly intense, actually scary horror film that drips with tension and atmosphere in EVERY scene was created in 1978 with the release of the brilliant Halloween. It's a simple, elegant story - Killer stalks people, slaying them whenever the mood strikes him. How does this film work so exceedingly well where nearly every slasher film to follow does not? The answer lies in how expertly crafted the film is in both direction and cinematography.

John Carpenter is responsible for some of the greatest exploitation films of the late 70's - mid 80's - Assault on Precinct 13, The Fog, Escape From New York, The Thing, Big Trouble in Little China. The list goes on. But nothing compares to what he accomplished with Halloween. The full extent of his skill on display. His patience is staggering. Why was this film so scary? Because he draws everything out until the last possible moment and then just when the killer is going to strike - he pulls the rug out and has Myers attack from the opposite direction. Every time we think we know what's going to happen, Carpenter makes sure to surprise with a bold and riveting choice.

The mood is set with his excellent score right from the title sequence with the creepy and painfully slow push in on the jack-o-lantern, which echoes the slow, methodical stalking Michael Myers exhibits upon his victims. The characters are well defined - these are people both likable and believable - people you go to school with, children you babysit - this is a world that exists right outside your door - and death is now at YOUR doorstep. Because John Carpenter understands what is truly terrifying is not buckets of blood. It's a killer who will strike without reason, without hesitation, without fear of being caught, completely at random, and when and where you least expect it. Terror is something that can happen to you. Terror is something that you connect with on a very personal level.

The shot selection adds so much to the tension here. Wide shots with a small dot in the background - the man in the mask - the man standing there, examining you from afar. Medium shots with the Myers shoulder in the foreground. Everywhere the characters go - Myers is there - omnipresent - ready to strike - maybe? Maybe he just wants to observe until whatever evil runs through him overflows.

Halloween is what true horror is all about. Enjoy, kiddies! It's Paris - Paris in Fall!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The Monster Squad

The Takeaway: Kick him in the nards, even if you don't think he has nards. Cause you know what? He very likely does.

Format: Bluray

Nostalgia + being an 80's child = Nintendo, Rubix Cubes, There still being mystery left in the world and a reason to dream because there is no such thing as the freakin' internet yet, Michael Jackson's Thriller *Album* (yes those big discs that spun around in circles), The slow steady transition to tapes, the slow steady transition to CDs, Home Video, Transformers cartoons, and tons of movies - including The Monster Squad.

Some of those movies live quite well in the nostalgic mind, but once they hit your Bluray player, you wish you'd kept the memory just that - an unspoiled memory. I'm looking at you, The Last Starfighter! Others are still like, totally tubular, dood. The Monster Squad is of the latter cocktail.

While I always preferred The Goonies, The Monster Squad was a tremendous effort in bringing the thrills and chills of old skool monsters to the teen/tween audience. It has great characters, lots of humor, and some totally badass action. Absolutely a must-see. And it's never looked better on home video than the new Bluray release from Lionsgate. Enjoy, kiddies! It's a Twilight Zone Marathon!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

American Psycho

The Takeaway: I totally agree. Oh wait. This is a public forum? This film disgusts me!

Format: DVD

Dripping with dark humor, this is simply the most fun you're ever gonna have in a sorta slasher flick. I say "sorta" cause this is way more than your run of the mill slasher. This is biting social commentary of an indulgent, over-the-top period in our history, and also a tremendous character study, brilliantly written by Guinevere Turner, brilliantly portrayed by Christian Bale. I've seen this film countless times over the years and cannot get enough. The film spirals along its path with breakneck speed - it's as lean as its lead character. The film itself could do 1000 situps. Quotables are fired off in nearly every scene. In fact, if you are following my @flick_quotes site on Twitter, yesterday had near nonstop entries, as I tried to include every quote I could think of from the film. Sorry to those I overloaded! End of story - you just have to go out and see this film if you haven't. And if you have - you already know - so why aren't you watching it RIGHT NOW???? Enjoy, kiddies! Twilight Zone Marathon.

Monday, April 26, 2010

It's Alive (1974)

The Takeaway: It takes an awful lot of cops to take down a baby.

Format: Netflix Instant Streaming

First Time Screening. Holy 70s Batman! Er - well, I guess that's the 60s - but you get the idea. Man oh man - watching this film was like stepping through a portal back to my mom's apartment growing up. I'll save you the suspense - I was talking about the interior decorating of their house. I never, as far as I remember anyway, killed anyone as a baby. I waited until after college for my spree. Laugh, funnyman. But you're next. And I watch a lot of horror flicks. So this aint gonna end well for ya. Whoa - where'd that come from?

Anyway - great googaly moogaly that newborn can launch a bloodbath! Just think - all that milk wasted. What would you do with a milk truck filled with spilled milk mixed with the splattered blood of a newly dead milkman?

I never got totally into this film. I'm sure there are a number of reasons. Maybe it was the incredibly awful baby monster puppet. Maybe the fact that very little happened in the film. Maybe I thought I was watching straight horror and got cheesy fun (mindset wasn't there). Who knows? It was just sorta there for me - background noise. Not terribly scary, though quite gory. I guess for gorehounds - it'll satisfy. And also - even though the terrible baby monster puppet really was completely unconvincing - it did have a certain charm to it. Look - if you have the choice between watching this and being forced into a Dora the Explorer marathon by your toddler - I'd go with this. It's not the greatest recommendation in the world, I know, but it's all the excitement I can muster. Enjoy, kiddies. It's a Wednesday.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

The Fly (1958)

The Takeaway: If you're in a movie and Vincent Price happens to walk onscreen with you, chances are you're gonna have a really bad day.

Format: Netflix Instant Streaming

First Time Screening. Vincent Price. Have any other 2 words in cinema language ever been more perfect? Well I guess - FADE OUT on a Michael Bay movie, but why be negative, right? Vincent Price is one of my all time favorite actors. The man can simply do no wrong. That voice, oh, that voice: chilling, lyrical, exciting. I wish Vincent Price were in every movie ever made. Even a bit part - it could be like a Where's Waldo - "Didya spot Price in that one?"

Here, sadly, he's underused - but at least he fills up lots of the first act.

I've only ever seen Cronenberg's remake of The Fly, which as it turns out, happens to be a radical departure from the source material. What struck me most about the original is its non-linear structure. A very bold and exciting choice for its time, really. Having the after effects of the disaster/experiment play in the opening act adds so much mystery to what is actually going on, and to be honest - is better structurally than Cronenberg's film. However, Cronenberg's remake does have the whole visceral, organic body mutilation thing going on. Cronenberg treats the effects of the experiment as a disease really with Goldblum's scientist, Seth Brundle, literally falling apart as his body handles (rather poorly, I might add) the assimilation of the fly's DNA.

You can't compare two films made nearly 30 years apart. Everything from the state of motion picture production to societal parameters have changed so radically in that duration of time, it would be foolhardy. So - here we go:

Original: Totally badass "human head on fly" getting nearly eaten by a spider before getting whacked by a police doctor (whatever the hell that is - it's his character name though).

Remake: Brundle's fingernails plucked out - by him.

Original: Vincent Price.

Remake: David Cronenberg playing a gynecologist - which is creepier than any special effect he put in his film.

Original: Labcoat sportin' scientist whose head is now a FLY's head! ARRGGGHHHHHHHH!

Remake: Nasty ole' hairs on Goldblum's back. His ex-wife/co-star Geena Davis complained about the same thing for years - my guess is it led to the divorce. Apparently he didn't need to sit in the makeup chair for that application. Yes, I'm kidding. It probably wasn't the only reason they got a divorce.

Original: Patricia Owens. In bed. A lot.

Remake: Geena Davis Side Boob.

Winner? It's a draw for me. I love the fast paced, gooey onscreen nastiness that Cronenberg drenches me with. But the original has Vincent Price, A human man with a fly head walking around, inventive structure, it's in B+W!, and the cheesy, but still freakin' sweet fly with human head superimposed on crying, "HELPPPPPP MEEEE.... PLEEEEASE HELLPPPP MEEEE!" in a wee little voice.

Enjoy, Kiddies. Twilight Zone Marathon.

Friday, April 23, 2010

9

The Takeaway: Those little rag dolls are totally frickin' badass! Oh - and Elijah Wood was clearly hired for his ability to sound anguished. Every time I closed my eyes, I thought Gandalf might stroll by.

Format: Bluray

Holy moly them there were some stunning images! The detail was astonishing. The detail in the visuals, of course, as there is little to no detail in the story. Very simple story - too simple and not terribly engaging if you ask me. However you are SO drawn in by the mindbogglingly gorgeous imagery to really care. Honesty - I'd rather have my cake and eat it too, but when the cake is so beautifully rendered, sometimes it's better to just sit back and stare, while snacking on stale popcorn instead. If you use that comparison, you're watching 9, but thinking about a story your kid told you that maybe he overheard in the bathroom at school or something... Well, you get the idea - don't worry about the story, just gaze unblinking at the screen. It's a briskly paced flick nonetheless with action throughout its brief 79 minute runtime. When you compare it to something like Nightmare Before Christmas (one of the greatest animated flicks ever made) and ya know Tim Burton can produce better, maybe ya feel a little short changed. Nightmare also has outstanding visuals - playful, dynamic, unique - but it also has incredible, delightful characters, a terrific original story and just amazing singable music. Dammit! I think I'm talking myself out of liking 9! No, no, no! I still say you have to give this a screening for the visuals. I promise you will not be disappointed. Enjoy, kiddies! Soft Serve Ice Cream @ 66th and B'Way.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Body Heat

The Takeaway: If William Hurt takes his clothes off one more time, I swear to god... I'll turn gay.

Format: Netflix Instant Streaming

First Time Screening. Lawrence Kasdan. The man is pure genius. He's the last of the great screenwriters, embodying the classic style of cinema gold - crackling dialogue that stews with subtext. They don't make 'em like they used to - unless Kasdan is at the typewriter. He's responsible for The Empire Strikes Back (still the greatest Star Wars flick!) , Return of the Jedi (not nearly as bad as everyone says), Raiders of the Lost Ark, The Big Chill, Silverado, The Accidental Tourist, The Bodyguard, and a hidden gem - Mumford. He also wrote the absolutely sensational dialogue (and the rest of the script) for Body Heat. From the first scene I could tell this was Kasdan in rare form. He nails the film noir tropes with sumptuous imagery. Even William Hurt's ass sizzles here. Only the more recent L.A. Confidential rivals Body Heat for the last of the great noir classics - but it falls short. Body Heat is tops, a tremendous film, and MUST be seen.

Oh - and William Hurt loves to be naked. Enjoy, kiddies! Twilight Zone Marathon.

Body Double

The Takeaway: I never thought a vampire could fondle a a girl's breasts in a shower like that. I really don't know why I didn't think that before. Even worse, I can't say for sure why I'd even have put in the time to think about such a thing in the first place.

Format: Netflix Instant Streaming

First Time Screening. Hmm - I liked this film WAY better the first time Brian DePalma made it and it was called Blow Out. Now that was an excellent film. DePalma tries to rehash the same material here and it simply doesn't work. Yeah - I get it - he likes to reference Hitchcock, move the camera all fluid and stuff, take a swing at Hollywood, and sure likes low budget sleaze pictures and boobies. But here he doesn't have anywhere near the talent level of the earlier and far superior picture. Seriously - Blow Out has Travolta in his prime, Nancy Allen, John Lithgow, and Dennis Franz. Sure, Franz shows up for work here, but there isn't much else going on in the acting department. It felt very sloppy all around. Where was the incredible creativity like on display in Blow Out? Blow Out starts with a brilliant opening scene and leads into some very inspiring visuals, top notch acting (I'll argue one of Travolta's best roles), non-stop tension, and a superb script. Here - nada! No tension at all, and this is a thriller! Ah, maybe I'm being hard because I know that DePalma can deliver - Carrie, The Fury, Blow Out, Scarface, The Untouchables, Mission Impossible. And then you have the drunken, pedophile uncle in the family no one likes to talk about: Body Double. Try and enjoy, kiddies. Welcome to my first Reality TV.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Dracula A.D. 1972

The Takeaway: Hippies pretty much fuck up everything, don't they?

Format: Netflix Instant Streaming

First Time Screening. I did some research on this and it seems that horror fans are very disappointed with this film. Hammer Film Productions was of course known throughout the world as the leading producer of low budget and usually high quality horror flicks taking over where Universal left off. The films had swag, plain and simple. The production company often hired Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing in titular roles to add some much needed acting beef to their films. So when Dracula A.D. 1972 came around and didn't do much in the way of scaring people - they got pissed. This is only my assumption of course; you can read other reviews and decide for yourself. What I think happened was the other reviewers forgot the title of the film. It's called Dracula A.D. 1972 - and that SCREAMS to me - this is gonna be fun! Not necessarily scary. And that's what we have here. The films is about a group of hippies who raise Drac from the dead. How can you take that seriously? It was meant to have laughs.

So - let's go through the good stuff, shall we? All right - here we go: A groovy hand-holding devil circle complete with bongo music raises Drac from the dead. The hippies sway back and forth and some plant fine kisses on their ladies. And then another dude slits his wrist and blood pours over a half-neked chick and Drac starts writhing around under the ground outside the "bloody" church they happen to be conducting this badass ritual in.

A lot more happens. And eventually the movie ends. But in the middle - we get: Christopher Lee as Dracula! Peter Cushing as not only one, but two Van Helsings! A lot of funky, near porn-quality music! Some hot girls! Swanky british dialogue! Blood! More blood! More hot chicks! Even more funky, near-porn-quality music! Honestly - what more could you want? Enjoy, kiddies! Soft Serve Ice Cream @ 66th and B'Way.

The Terminator

The Takeaway: No matter how many times you get lit on fire or blown in half, you just gotta keep reaching for your goals. Also - it doesn't matter if you send your father back in time, he can still father you in the past. Wait - what?

Format: DVD

Titanic. Avatar. Aliens. "I smoke all these fools," says both Cuba Gooding Jr. and The Terminator. Without a doubt this is James Cameron's masterpiece, gripping from the opening frame and not letting go till the credits roll. In between titles and credits we get a brilliantly realized time travel/chase picture with well-defined characters (thus the elusive 'heartbeat' in most action flicks) incredible set pieces, amazing special effects (for the time), and Linda Hamilton's sex face (an astounding special effect in and of itself). This is the film that sky rocketed Arnold Schwarzeneggar and his penis to superstardom. Yes - the shot of him walking with his schnitzel swinging makes me laugh every time. It's like another weapon. I kept waiting for him to use it as a lasso or something during one of the action sequences - maybe leap out of a building and toss it back and hook it on something like Bruce Willis with the fire hose in Die Hard. Honestly - Arnie's robo-penis being used as a bungie cord really is the only way I can think to improve the film. This is the greatest scifi/action film ever produced. If by some miracle you haven't yet seen this - it is imperative you go to the hospital, find a brain surgeon, have him examine your head, make sure you don't have damage. While you wait (and you know it's gonna be a freakin' long wait with doctors these days), watch the damn movie on any device you have. Enjoy, kiddies. It's a Paris!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Delicatessen

The Takeaway: French people have insane, psychotic dreams. All right; I'm willing to admit maybe it's just the character in this film and not the entire French population. My wife says I exaggerate. I say I "invent."

Format: Netflix Instant Streaming

First Time Screening. WOW. There was a grossly disproportionate ratio of humans to frogs living in that one room. Oh - and son, that butcher has some issues. Clever, clever, clever little French flick with a non-stop bombardment of such incredible visuals filled with whimsy, love, horror - it was all there - most of the time in the same damn frame! Hell there was a woman trying to kill herself throughout the entire film with rigs that could have come out of The Goonies. Hysterical! "The Australian is nothing without it's master." Watch the damn flick - you'll know why that last line is so frickin' funny. One of my greatest discoveries of the last few weeks. Will certainly be watching this again. Enjoy, kiddies! It's a Twilight Zone Marathon!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Commando

The Takeaway: Whatever you do - don't take out the garbage. Also - who needs gas when you can just as easily push your truck down a hill? And while we're on the subject, apparently even if the electrics are torn out of the truck, and clearly the truck isn't turned on, the break lights will still work just fine.

Format: Bluray

Things I Learned From Commando:

- You probably wouldn't guess this, but bathrooms on airplanes are also handy elevators that go down to the cargo area, where in only a minute's time you can find your way out to the landing gear - as it's coming up - and fall 40+ feet into a swamp (which happens to be conveniently located just steps away from the runway) with little to no trouble at all. It seems you probably won't even get your hair wet.

- James Horner is never without his indian whistle instrument thingy.

- It's not as difficult as you'd think to locate an actor who's short enough to have sung, "we represent the lollipop guild"... even if he's in an airport with thousands of people.

- With the smallest amount of effort you can tear a phone booth out of the ground and hurl it - with a dude inside - then get tackled by seven mall cops, which you swat away like gnats, without breaking a sweat. After that brutality, you can still get in touch with your feminine side enough to flit down a weird balloon apparatus with the grace of Balanchine dancer. Keep in mind that between swatting the cops and flitting, you'll probably have to beat the piss out of those cops when they get up from said initial swatting.

- Interior decorating in a car includes, but is not limited to, tearing out the driver's side seat.

- When you tell someone that you're gonna kill them last, it always comes as a surprise when you kill them first.

- More of a question really, but what the hell was the naked couple doing in the hotel room when Arnie hurls the black dude through the door? Door busts open and out of fright, the couple pops up. But it started with the naked guy sorta in child's pose from Yoga and the naked girl appears to be on top of him with her face buried in the middle of his back. Now I didn't see her wearing a strap-on or anything, which would at least explain the position. I suppose her hands could have done the dirty work, but let's face it, that's just speculation. I guess it's just one of the many existential questions this flick raises but doesn't answer satisfyingly.

- "This must be his car," says Arnie. Clearly because in Arnie's world all black guys drive teal convertibles?

- When someone says, "wait for my signal," in an 80's action movie, everyone should read it as something that's gonna be really loud, explosive, and virtually impossible for someone to actually pull off.

- Robbing a store gets you put in jail?

- They have stores where you can buy (or steal) rocket launchers?

- Rocket launchers are WAY easier to work than you probably thought. Apparently all you need to do is read the instructions. Huh. I'd have thought training would be involved somewhere.

- Bad guys tend to have at least one set of windows in their mansions boarded up. You know, just in case they kidnap a little girl and don't want her to escape through a window.

- So let me get this straight - if you shoot enough bullets at a car, chances are it'll turn over on it's side and eventually fall off a pier into the water?

- Bill Paxton likes to play bit parts in Arnie movies.

- 11 hours is not an unreasonable amount of time to expect a dead man's hat to stay covered over his face without falling off.

- I will never look as good in a speedo as Arnold did in 1985. A speedo will never look good on anyone - even Arnold in 1985.

- Evil henchmen really have the worst aim. How they ever got the job in the first place is totally beyond me. And all they do is complain about the terrible hours and lack of pay raise. Well - here's a thought, evil henchman, why don't you do your one and only job - you know - kill the ONE dude attacking the god damned fortress - especially when you not only have a good shot at him, but he hasn't even seen you yet! Just don't miss, ya freakin' douche nozzle!

- Arnold is exceptional at leaping from insane heights and landing on both feet with no problem.

- Bennett looks more like an out-of-shape science teacher than someone who could possibly beat down Arnold. Or maybe he looks like the guy sitting next to you at a skin flick in a movie theater in the 1970s. Yes - I find those two character types indistinguishable. Laugh if you must, but you haven't seen my old science teachers. Oh - and I think I liked Bennett better when he was still out of shape, but running around screaming and grunting at Mel Gibson.

- Whenever you're desperately in need of a weapon - just look for whatever metal pipe happens to be attached to the wall next to you and tear it off with your bare hands and presto-magic-return-of-the-Jedi: you have yourself an honest to goodness weapon. Now make sure you hurl it at top speed toward your enemy, watch him die a totally unconvincing death, and rattle off the cheesiest one-liner in the entire flick.

This is absolutely the greatest cheesy 1980's action flick ever produced! ENJOY KIDDIES! It's a PARIS!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Gozu

The Takeaway: When your brother shows up turned into a hot chick, and he hasn't had a sex change operation, nor has he been abducted by a gang of trannies and had bad stuff done to him - well, ya just know it's gonna be an odd day.

Format: DVD/Netflix Instant Streaming. More on why later.

One part Tarantino, Two parts David Lynch, One enormous helping of Cronenberg, sprinkle in some Japanese spices - and you have a tasty cocktail of the bizarre that'll give you a sunglasses-wearing hangover that rivals the day after you decided to get married. All right, maybe that last part was only me. And I meant the day after my wedding night. Got me a freaky one kids! Me = Lucky. :)

Back to the film. Holy dear lord this film is freakin' out of its mind! After 2 screenings I can't say I have any clue what this film is about - but who the hell cares? Seriously - it's just so badass and mesmerizing - ya gotta see it. All right, maybe you can piece together something of a story - but it honestly doesn't seem to be the point. Director Takashi Miike is an absolute master visionary - a prolific auteur (he's been known to direct up to 7 films in the same year!). The man stuns us with his startling visual vocabulary and blindsiding nightmare dreamscapes. Check out Audition and Ichi the Killer as followup Miike flicks after digesting Gozu.

As to why I had to switch formats midstream - the damn DVD has a scratch on it. Grrrrrr. On the positive side - I can tell you the transfer on Netflix Instant Streaming isn't so bad. While not in HD, there's still enough detail to get the point across and to be honest, the transfer on the DVD is kinda poor anyway. Enjoy, kiddies! It's a Twilight Zone Marathon!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Tropic Thunder

The Takeaway: After 27 years of mediocrity, Tom Cruise has found his calling. And a white american playing a white australian playing a black american... I have nowhere to go with that sentence. You should be laughing halfway through it anyway.

Format: Bluray

First Time Screening. I am not a fan of Tom Cruise. He does one thing fairly all right in my opinion, that's smile, as you may remember from my The Firm review. Until now. His portrayal of fictional studio executive Less Grossman results in one of the funniest characters I have ever seen. In a movie that stars Robert Downey Jr., Ben Stiller, and Jack Black, who would think that Tom Cruise would steal the show - with comedy? Look - this isn't to say Downey wasn't freakin' perfect. He was. And honestly - even if you don't agree with me about Cruise here, you gotta see the film for Downey's performance alone. But Downey is ALWAYS perfect. He's one of the best actors we have. Cruise is not. Like his little American Idol singer clone, Tim Urban, this kid Cruise has got my attention now.

The film starts out hysterical, gets bit long in the middle, but ends strong. This had to be the most expensive in-joke flick of all time. I remember hearing the budget ballooned up to $100 million (kinda pricey for a comedy). But anyone even remotely in the know about the filmmaking process will laugh their asses off. And honestly - every cent is onscreen. Really, really enjoyable film; try not to blow your hands off. Enjoy, kiddies! Soft Serve Ice Cream @ 66th and B'Way!


Friday, April 16, 2010

The Fly

The Takeaway: There comes a time in every young woman's life when she dreams of larvae bursting out of her vagina like a wiggling, elongated football into the doctor's hands. Oh - and it's very hard to eat yogurt while watching Cronenberg's The Fly.

Format: Netflix Instant Streaming

Ah - what gooey sticky fun this was. Cronenberg is now an oscar darling, well respected filmmaker after such incredible films like History of Violence and Eastern Promises. But in the old days he let the awful yuckiness flow in his flicks and god bless him for it. Not to say I don't love History and Eastern (in fact they are two of my favorite films of the last few years), but I do miss his insane longing for the great gross out: Naked Lunch, Video Drome, Scanners, and The Fly (arguably the most commercial of his early films while still being the most over-the-top gross). He's a master storyteller and even in what could have been a straight forward, by-the-books scifi/horror flick, he gives a tremendous amount of weight to Goldblum and Davis's relationship, and certainly to Goldblum's character arc, perhaps more so than any other horror film of that age. This is excellent storytelling that is simply put -> required viewing for any horror fan.

There have been rumors lately that Cronenberg himself will helm a remake, where I can only assume Viggo's penis will take the place of the puppet in the vagina-busting larvae scene. I'll leave you with that. Enjoy, kiddies! It's a Twilight Zone Marathon!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

The Firm

The Takeaway: Apparently you can get away with cheating on your wife just as long as she's told that it was a setup. Will someone PLEASE set me up? Sorry, sweetie - me writing that? I was setup. Yeah.

Format: Netflix Instant Streaming

First Time Screening. Cruise, Hackman, Holbrook, Harris, Brimley, Tripplehorn, Strathairn, Busey, Sorvino, Bell, Pollack = Major Talent. However, it doesn't necessarily = a great movie, as was proven with The Firm, a slightly boring, non-tension filled -> thriller, I guess they're calling it? Tom Cruise is, well, Tom Cruise. I find it hard to believe him as anything other than someone who smiles a whole heck of a lot. Certainly not as a Harvard educated lawyer. He's sorta like Tim Urban on this season of American Idol. Sure the kid can hold a tune, but what he really excels at is Gleaming White Teeth. Though I have to say, I've been really proud of him these last few weeks. Can't say the same for Tom Tom's performance here, which at times was as boring as the film he was in. Coincidence? You decide.

Hackman and Harris are top notch as always. Brimley made me smile just by being there. Holbrook was underused. Strathairn has so much going on in his eyes. Great actor. And the rest - well, ya know, competent performances. But a thriller is supposed to be dripping with tension and as I mentioned, there was little on display here. Sydney Pollack - the same guy who directed the masterful 3 Days of the Condor - must have been sleepwalking throughout production or something - this was a paint-by-numbers studio picture. Try and enjoy, kiddies. Wednesday. Definitely a Wednesday.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

I Sell The Dead

The Takeaway: Ya know it's really bad when a Zombie gets scared. And apparently ya don't need your head attached to be a good shot with a stick.

Format: Bluray

First Time Screening. Dominic Monaghan has swag, brothers. He just does. The cat is so natural, it's always a pleasure to watch him. Except this time. Well, not him exactly, cause as usual - he nails it. But here's a flick where the ideas are WAY better than the execution. And there were lots of executions, so it really should have been a slicker flicker. But this is SO damn frustrating for me, cause I am DYING for this genre cocktail of comedy/horror to take off already. There is simply nothing more thrilling, entertaining, or crowd pleasing than a comedic bloodbath! End of story; fade out. But here I found myself disinterested, and worse - distracted, as the film sorta plodded along. I perked up like a cool wind blasted my nipples every time Dom came onscreen (slight man-crush), and when some zombies did a bit of their nasty business with the good folks - but I wanted to love the film. And I think maybe that's the problem.

So - sounds like a bad review, right? It's not. I will still give this unusual flick an "enjoy, kiddies" at the end. Probably with a period, as this doesn't warrant a full on exclamation point. And as I'm sure you are all aware, Steve Martin has already warned us of the looming exclamation point shortage and I don't want to use up my allotment. But for homework - I want you all to give this a rent, come back here, and together we're gonna sort this out. What went wrong with this picture? You decide. Oh - and -> Enjoy, kiddies. See? Still - it's a Wednesday - for now.

Cobra

The Takeaway: Apparently the best way for Stallone to get through an action flick is to hire incredibly incompetent evil henchman to shoot at him at close range and repeatedly miss. And it doesn't hurt to throw in like 5-10 cheesy 80's songs, making it look like VH1 Classics instead of a motion picture, ya know, just for a morale booster.

Format: Netflix Instant Streaming

First Time Screening. I can't help but want to yell, COBRA! with a slithering snake voice, only to hear YO JOE! screamed back at me. But that's a different movie. This movie has everything you could possibly want in an action flick, most importantly: A hero that doesn't do anything bad to his body, yet munches on a match. He doesn't eat pizza, but cuts it with a scissor for some reason. He spits out one-liners like a cowboy in a saloon, beats the hell out of people, wises off to his superiors (I'm particularly fond of this one!), fires incredible amounts of gun power, tosses knives like a ninja, and can't - I repeat, can't - no matter how many men attack him at the same time, he cannot get shot. That's a hero I want. Thanks, Stallone! (I have a goofy grin and I'm flashing the thumbs up) And while this will never beat down the all-time 80's cheesy action flick classic, Commando, ya just can't go wrong with a flick where Stallone wears a pair of sunglasses bigger than his head. Enjoy, kiddies. Soft Serve Ice Cream @ 66th and B'Way.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Plan 9 From Outer Space

The Takeaway: When super duper technologically advanced aliens visit the planet earth in the 1950's, they come to us in UFOs with the stability of a weeble-wobble. And when your "almost" star dies before your shoot is finished, all you have to do is hire another actor who looks nothing like him in appearance, height, or build, and have the guy pull a cape above his face in every scene. And then not care.

Format: Netflix Instant Streaming

First Time Screening. Yes - this was my first time watching Plan 9 From Outer Space. I'll save you the suspense. It won't be the last. Far from it. This might become a weekly ritual. Aliens, graveyards, weird vampire-zombies, maybe there was a midget?, the worst narrator since cavemen grunted stories to each other, hokey mad scientist labs apparently built for a middle school musical version of Young Frankenstein, spacesuits that look like kindergarten-age halloween costumes, sincere acting through horrendously conceived dialogue, thread thin plot (if you can even really find one!) - yeah - I'm SO in! I was so inspired after watching Plan 9, that I wanted to make a movie right then and there with whatever was lying around, which kinda seems exactly how Ed Wood created his masterpiece in the first place.

That being said - I am hard at work creating the unofficial sequel - Plan 10 from Innerspace. I'm just trying to figure out how to get Dennis Quaid involved.

I order you to watch Plan 9 From Outer Space tonight. You might not get another chance - after all I hear that someone in the midwest is on the brink of creating solarmanite and it will cause a chain reaction that will forever destroy Fast Food Chains, The Internet, Annoying Girl/Boyfriends, Traffic, Cab Drivers in NYC, The Crazy Old Man Downstairs with the creepy barking dog who looks like it's as old as Yoda and scares the freaking hell out of me every time I pass by, my evil fourth grade teacher, and basically the entire universe. Wait - that might not be so bad.

Enjoy, kiddies! Not only Paris - but Paris in Fall! My highest rating!

Monday, April 12, 2010

The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms

The Takeaway: You don't have to run too fast when clay monsters come after you; chances are they were shot one frame at a time. And everybody thinks you're crazy when you say you've seen a monster, yet every time I look in the mirror...

Format: Netflix Instant Streaming

First Time Screening. I was in the mood for some super cheesy scifi fun and I got the Wisconsin of scifi double features last night! First up was Beast. Wow - Harryhausen slays it again with his special effects wizardry. He and OBrian ARE the kings. Forget this CGI crap, man. I want a new stop motion animation revolution! Anyway - the story is the story - beast attacks, we take it down. But just so much fun to watch. I love these giant monster movies, my favorite is still Them!, but I dug what I was watching here. Anyone looking for a gas - this is your film. So is the next one. I'll post a review of: Plan 9 From Outerspace tonight... Enjoy, kiddies!

The Third Man

The Takeaway: It's a real big pain in the ass tracking down how your friend died, but apparently it helps if you're a mystery writer. And Orson Welles could turn me gay with that mischievous smile.

Format: Netflix Instant Streaming

First Time Screening. The Third Man is known as the greatest film noir ever produced. I'll go one further - it's the greatest film noir I've ever watched. One follows the next of course, but that's just semantics - and I'm always up to some antics. Welles and Cotton are at the top of their game here and they just keep you glued to whatever gleaming flat screen television you happen to be watching on. Or god-willing, if you're really lucky, the sticky melted candy/spilled soda combo of a movie theater floor has glued you down already. Sure, you'll need to clean your shoes, but you get to watch The Third Man on the big screen, which I'm sure is quite a treat with its gorgeous black and white cinematography. This is a thrilling film owing quite a bit to Hitchcock and certainly can't be missed by fans of noir or mystery flicks. Enjoy, kiddies!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

The Quick and the Dead

The Takeaway: Always keep a pair of pliers with you cause ya never know when you'll need to yank out someone's gold tooth. Don't question me; that's what I got from this film! Oh, and Sharon Stone looks like Leo DiCaprio in a creepy kinda way.

Format: Netflix Instant Streaming, HD

First Time Screening. "Directed by Sam Raimi" usually brings with it a host of regulars - Bruce, Ted, goofy fun humor, extreme close ups on odd angles, and some good old fashioned thrills or chills. So my guess is The Quick and the Dead was directed partially by Sam Raimi AND partially by a studio not exactly willing to let him pull the trigger on traditional Raimi oddball insanity, cause there were only a handful of Raimi moments peppered in. It's always great to see Gene Hackman, and he plays his baddie character to perfection as always. Leo looks like he just graduated from Growing Pains here and didn't do much for me. I didn't get into Leo until The Aviator, Blood Diamond, and The Departed, you know, when he started using the big boy voice. But overall, this is still a fun little western flick. I just wish Raimi unleashed and came out with both his silly guns blazing. Enjoy, kiddies.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

The Girlfriend Experience

The Takeaway: Apparently even in the middle of these apocalyptic economic times, there's always oodles of hooker money lying around. Oh - and having a call girl for a girlfriend is the best way to get professional sex at bargain basement prices.

Format: Netflix Instant Streaming, HD

First Time Screening. Um, yeah. I love Steven Soderbergh. He rocked us all with Sex, Lies, and Videotape. He makes gigundo Hollywood blockbusters with gleaming-toothed, perfecto-quaffed box office titans - but he never fails to return to his indie roots. Very, very badass. That being said - and I love that he did some fun editing, non-linear storytelling here - but non-linear doesn't mean you neglect character development and story structure. It took a while to get going, though I dug the vibe, but the story didn't seem to go anywhere, was repetitive, had little arc for the main character - and yet it still felt like it ended abruptly. This isn't to say you should ignore the film. But it won't appeal to the masses. And it wasn't supposed to. I'd recommend it for all lovers of indie cinema and anyone looking to see something a little different. Enjoy, kiddies.

Twilight

The Takeaway: It sucks. To be all like teen angsty and stuff. Don't play baseball with vampires. And you know what? I'll never get used to the "word", "chillax." Lastly - I now know where that damn "sparkle" craze comes from and I hate it even more.

Format: DVD

First Time Screening. So it wasn't an absolute train wreck as I'd had it in my head this might be. Not necessarily great praise I know, but considering what I was expecting, well, you get the idea. Acting? We don't need any when we have cute little things running around pouting. Kristen wasn't terrible, though she was just so wonderful in Adventureland, I kept hoping she'd rise above her material here. It's a tragic love story - yeah, I get it. I'm actually a big gooey romantic myself, but this just falls flat here, lying limp onscreen like a shower scene with Kevin Bacon. Here's the thing - it was just so s...l....o......w moving. Deliberate pace is one thing, but that wasn't the CHOICE here. They just couldn't keep this thing chugging along. It had the pulse of a vampire. Try and Enjoy, kiddies.

Friday, April 9, 2010

The Invention of Lying

The Takeaway: Lying is an absolutely fantastic way of getting the girl. But we already knew that one, didn't we? Also, it's probably best to watch out for the man in the sky. Oh yeah - and snub noses are pretty badass.

Format: Bluray

First Time Screening. Ricky Gervais = Genius. Laughed throughout the entire runtime except in the handful of moments when I got choked up. This is easily one of the funniest movies of the past few years. First came Shaun of the Dead, then Hot Fuzz, now The Invention of Lying proves these limey bastards have wrestled comedy out of the hands of us Jews for good, and they're delivering the funny faster than the one-liners of Henny Youngman. Besides the non-stop hysterical laughing disturbing my neighbors, as I said before, I got choked up a few times - there was SO much heart in this film. A brilliant, witty, charming affair. I cannot recommend this film any higher. Enjoy, kiddies!

Altered States

The Takeaway: It is imperative that each and every one of us begin taking drugs immediately. And find a sensory deprivation tank to lounge in. And William Hurt loves to be naked.

Format: Netflix Instant Streaming

First Time Screening. Wow. Cool flick to start out this blog with. Some amazing creativity on display here. The visuals are stunning with images that are going to stick with me for a long, long time. This is why we make films - we take beautiful moving pictures and put them together to tell a story. I don't even think you need the volume on to enjoy the hell out of this one. Enjoy, kiddies!