Sunday, April 26, 2009

Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! (1965)

I wasn't really sure what to expect from this movie. I knew it was probably going to be a bad "B" movie, but who can resist bodacious babes and vroomy sports cars out on the desert. Little did I realize what a treat Faster, Pussycat! Die! Die! was going to be. It's not for folks who are squeamish about seeing sadistic, conniving females or dirty old cripples who like tasty young females. The violence and lechery borders on shocking for a black & white movie from the 60's. Perhaps the most shocking scene in the film is alluded to in the movie poster included with this post -- where the lead evil wench kills a man with her bare hands. I alternated between the urge to laugh and gasp throughout the film. The audience in the alternative movie house chose laughter for the most part. I have a feeling that this movie very well could have been part of the inspiration for Quentin Tarantino's most recent, "Death Proof." If you like this sort of movie, I urge you to see it.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Zombie Strippers (2008)

This movie brought back memories of From Dusk Til Dawn with zombies instead of vampires. It is as good, if not better! The plot is well-developed as far as zombie flicks go. For those who like creativity when it comes to gore, zombie strippers is right up there with the best. These special effects are on a smaller scale than "from dusk til..." but what they are is of a superior quality. Not a lot of the CGI BS either! The women are smokin hot and the men, aside from the talking cast, are meatheads, with their brains between their legs.

I must also say that there is a wicked humor throughout that tickles me. Don't expect PC'ism in this film, mostly revolving around gender, but there are a few other jabs thrown in as well. The men exploit the women and the women exploit the men, each in their own way. If you are hypersensitive, or even simply sensitive to such things, either close your eyes and ears, pass this movie by, or try to appreciate the film for what it is -- dark comedy.

Robert Englund, who is probably most famous as "the guy who plays Freddie Kruger", is PERFECT for the role as the strip club owner.

Please check this movie out if you like WELL-DONE zombie movies. I predict the director will go on to more good stuff, just as Robert Rodriguez has done.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Two Lovers (2008)

Firstly, I'm not Jewish. However, not being Jewish and not knowing many Jewish people (I live in a small town. I get my knowledge of Jewish
folks from movies!), I think this movie is a template for what might happen with many Jewish families. Without saying any more about the plot, I would like to say a few words about the characters and the character development and perhaps a few other things.

Joaquin Phoenix has screen presence and star power and even has acting ability, but I think he was wrong for this role. Not wrong exactly but I'm sure another actor could have done it better. My main issue was wonder- ing if the character was or was not supposed to be a nut case. If the character was supposed to be a little off kilter, then he pulled off the role perfectly. There were a few times when he would suddenly crack a joke but the joke was not funny but more surreal. I liked Joaquin in the very beginning but as the film traveled on the resonance with him was lost.

Gwyneth Paltrow manifests her character with the same finesse she was seen manifesting in The Royal Tenenbaums. Wan. Fragile. There is not the same sense of fixedness here; more a pretty fall leaf that blows into your yard on a cold gray afternoon.

Vinessa Shaw, the "other" female lover Joaquin is torn between, is the demure, trusting, nurturing young woman who knows who she wants and will not be denied says her daddy. Her skin is translucent, the smile that plays around her lips entrances, and her artful use of eyes and head movements is joyful to behold. I would like to see her in more movies!

I about fell over seeing Isabella Rosselini in this movie as
Joaquin's mother. She is a damned fine actress and I daresay can master any role that is placed before her. I would love to see Quentin Tarantino do another Jackie Brown-like film and have Isabella in it.

Elias Koteas is another great surprise for this film. Believe it or not, the first film I saw him in was Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles in 1990. Since then I've seen him in Look Who's Talking, and a lesser-known film with the name Crash, directed by David Cronenberg, which has a way-different plot than the popular Hollywood piece o'crap! Elias glows in his role here.

This film is a fine piece of work on several levels other than that impressive ensemble who brings it to life. It's a sleeper, where you keep discovering new layers every time you think about it. The relationships between the characters are the stars of the show. Joaquin's relationship with his parents is painfully exquisite.

I like the location of the filming -- where else would it be?! -- and the intimacy of the sets. I'm remembering a soundtrack with at least some classical music but I may be remembering wrong. It must have been seamless. Oh yes there was at least some opera music in it. (Moonstruck flashback alert!)

Whether you are Jewish, not Jewish but can appreciate films about Jewish people, want to learn a little about New York Jewish folks, or who have ever been in love, lost love, then found it again, with a twist, you will be entertained. Thank you to the director, the actors, the screenwriter, the producer, and everyone else in any way responsible for the creation of this work. Thanks also goes to our local independent movie house for bringing another fine piece of cinema to our berg.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

YouTube - Let's Go To Prison TV Spot #1

Let's Go to Prison (2006)

I saw this movie awhile back and had forgotten about it until recently, when I saw Dax Shepard in another film. I found this movie to be fucking hilarious! If you like gallows humor that is slice-and-dice funny, no pun intended, then you need to take a look at "Let's Go to Prison". Do not expect a formulaic film; you never know what's going to happen next. The cast is top notch all the way. Words escape me in doing a description justice, again no pun intended, so I found a review that does a good job of it. It follows:

The Prison Movie with a Shank, Not an Axe

By NEIL GENZLINGER of The New York Times
Published: November 18, 2006

The movie’s called “Let’s Go to Prison,” and its poster consists of a close-up of a bar of soap in a shower, so of course you’re expecting a crass, brainless film, a frat house behind bars. It takes a while to realize that this is actually a sly, very funny comedy, one that stays admirably deadpan every time you think it’s about to veer into gross-out territory.

Not that it forgoes a shower scene; there are several. But the director, Bob Odenkirk, and the writers — Ben Garant, Thomas Lennon and Michael Patrick Jann — all have plenty of comedy on their résumés, and they seem to have learned that restraint is funnier than excess. The camera operators too: there is much showering but little forbidden flesh.

Dax Shepard, in both his acting and his voice-over, is wonderfully droll as John, a petty criminal who is peeved at the judge who kept putting him away. By way of retaliation, he helps nudge the judge’s son, the tightly wound Nelson Biederman IV (Will Arnett), into prison, then purposely has himself arrested so he can join him there. His plan is to make Nelson’s life miserable, and for a while he does, but of course things ultimately take an unexpected turn. More important, Mr. Shepard and Mr. Arnett, though playing polar opposites and mortal enemies, make a dandy comic duo.

The prize, however, goes to Chi McBride as a large fellow who leads the prison’s black gang and has a taste for Chuck Mangione‘s music and prison-style lovin’. His character’s name is Barry, and if that suggests a certain dim-the-lights soul singer, it’s no accident; this is a jailhouse thug of a decidedly different sort.

In fact, the whole movie is that way: it serves up the characters and situations you’d expect from a prison comedy but then plays them with wry understatement. All such comedies, for instance, must have dining hall humor, usually ending in a food fight, but this one delivers its version in a tidy five words. When Nelson asks an orderly what it is that he’s dishing up, the man says simply: “That’s meat; that ain’t meat.”

“Let’s Go to Prison,” which draws on the book “You Are Going to Prison” by Jim Hogshire, ultimately has to resort to an old and unconvincing gimmick to resolve its story. For most of the way, though, it adheres to the description that the prison warden (Dylan Baker, very amusing in a small role) gives of himself after delivering a scatology-inflected welcoming address to arriving inmates. “I have,” he says, “a notoriously dry sense of humor.”

“Let’s Go to Prison” is rated R (Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian), mostly for language.

Directed by Bob Odenkirk; written by Robert Ben Garant, Thomas Lennon and Michael Patrick Jann, based on the book “You Are Going to Prison” by Jim Hogshire; director of photography, Ramsey Nickell; produced by Marc Abraham, Matt Berenson and Paul Young; released by Universal Pictures. Running time: 84 minutes.

WITH: Dax Shepard (John Lyshitski), Will Arnett (Nelson Biederman IV), Dylan Baker (Warden) and Chi McBride (Barry).

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Saturday, February 14, 2009

The Frighteners (1996)

Came across this movie while channel surfing awhile back and was frankly surprised I'd never heard of nor seen it before. Where have they been hiding it??? It has Michael J. Fox in it and is directed by Peter Jackson, so it should have show up SOMEWHERE on the radar before this.

The only thing I don't like about this movie is the title! Whomever came up with it needs to be shot. It sounds like a kids afternoon special! If it would have been given a proper title in the beginning I can say almost with certainty it would have been a hit. I would love to see it re-released with a new, appropriate title.

On now to the film itself. I've included a plot synopsis and one review below that covers quite a bit. Things that most impress me with The Frighteners:

1) Michael J. Fox. TOP-NOTCH PERFORMANCE. You will never see Michael better than him in this movie. He covers all of the bases of emotions and does so with ease.

2) Portrayal of the female characters. They step way outside of the old stereotypical roles of weak window dressing that waits for and on man.

3) The plot rocks.

4) The location rocks.

5) The special effects are friggin outstanding. I think one of the below blurbs talks about "working fx" and I agree. The special effects are spectacular and not there just to be there. They are integrated into the plot and create excitement, horror, and realism. What is tricky with them is how horror and comedy have been mixed. Without the relief of comedy, the special effects might give you nightmares; with the comedy you're able to watch them without being traumatized. To be able to pull this off takes skill.

Thanks go out to the individuals involved in the making of The Frighteners for making a top-notch work that entertains from beginning to end and one that can be watched again and again with delight.

review from nbc website:
In the sleepy little town of Fairwater, a monstrous evil has evil so powerful, its reach extends beyond the grave. Director Peter Jackson and Executive Producer Robert Zemeckis unleash a riveting thriller with the most spectacular special effects this side of the hereafter.

For Frank Bannister (Michael J. Fox), death is a great way to make a living: ridding haunted houses of their 'unwelcome' guests'. But he's in cahoots with the very ghosts he promises to evict! It's the perfect scam...until Frank finds himself at the center of a dark mystery. A diabolical spirit is on a murderous rampage, and the whole town believes Frank is behind it.

Boasting music by Danny Elfman and co-starring Trini Alvarado, Jeffrey Combs and John Astin, this supernatural chiller is so fiendishly entertaining, it's scary!

Starring: Michael J. Fox, Trini Alvarado, John Astin, Jeffrey Combs, Peter Dobson, Dee Wallace Stone, Jake Busey, Chi McBride, Jim Fyfe
Directed by: Peter Jackson

--Blurb taken from the nbc website store, at:


Review from imdb:

I don't know what it is with horror movies, and horror/comedies in particular. Either they are huge, blockbuster hits (GHOSTBUSTERS, SCREAM) or they are virtually ignored by theatergoers and critics (everything except for GHOSTBUSTERS and SCREAM). Unfortunately THE FRIGHTENERS falls into the last category, which is a shame because it's a great, original film.

Others like M.A. Rogers have described the plot in detail here, so I won't go into it. Suffice it to say that Michael J. Fox gives a terrific, believable performance here as the ghostbusting conman who gets more than he bargained for. The supporting cast is a hoot (especially the insane FBI agent). Peter Jackson, a man who has proven he can even make a good movie on a camcorder, was given a decent budget here and it really shows. The special effects are noteworthy and are actually put to good use rather than being eye candy. While the violence/gore factor in THE FRIGHTENERS is toned down in comparison to Jackson's earlier films, the comedy is still spot-on. Jackson can do no wrong it seems.

Even if you're not a total horror fan, there should still be something here for you to latch on to and enjoy. Heck, there's almost nothing missing from this movie--romance, comedy, scares, action... it's all there. What's not to like? But don't take my word for it, go rent it and see for yourself.

-- Author: obiwan-27 ( from New England

Saturday, January 24, 2009

The Wrestler

Saw it today. This is more than acting, folks. This is a story of Mickey Rourke in Hollywood formatting.

I can't imagine ANYONE else playing the role of The Wrestler.

Marisa Tomei is sizzling hot as a stripper and is a damned fine actress too.

The film is an excellent parallell study on Rourke and Tomei's characters. I liked the concise and cohesive nature of the plot. I'd like to see the director taking a non-linear approach in future endeavors.

I love this movie. Hoping to see more Mickey Rourke in films. Directors and Producers, open your eyes people! He has more talent in his scars than most folks have in an entire acting career.

The photographer of the second photo needs to be kissed.

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Sunday, January 18, 2009

"Let the Right One In" (2008)

Click on the title to take you to a very well done commentary by a New York Times writer. It sets the tone for what is what I consider one of the best vampire movies ever made. It is also an exceptionally well-made piece of moviemaking. The meticulous attention to detail strikes me. The matter-of-fact way the horrors are carried out is characterized as humorous by the Times writer, but to me the ordinariness of the horrific acts chill me beyond that characteristic, and into a more ethereal realm. Is it the fear that such things do indeed go bump in the night and are not just studied whimsy from fertile imaginations?

The picture included here appears almost too colorful for the starkness of the winter environment in Sweden, where the film is made. The color of filth and blood seem almost welcome.

It's too bad that the adult subject matter make it very improbable that too many children of the age bracket of the children in the film will see how well bullying is portrayed. Just the portrayal and having others witness what bullied children are subjected to could help them.

There are so many layers to this movie that it would take a long long time to explore them all. It would be fun, educational?, and spiritually satisfying to try. The author of the book has me intrigued about how much better the book might be. I can't imagine how it could be better.

If you have enough fortitude to watch some spectacularly graphic scenes of horror, you must see this film. Thanks go to our local alternative movie house, The Harbor Theater, for bringing it to a local big screen.

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