Sunday, August 30, 2009

Birth

* * *
The premise is a pure fantasy trope, suitable for the next Kate Hudson/Matthew McConaughey flick: Anna (Nicole Kidman), a New York widow for the last decade, has just decided to marry long-time romantic pursuant Joseph (Danny Huston), when a ten-year old boy (Cameron Bright) appears in the middle of a celebratory family dinner to announce that he is Sean, Anna's husband reincarnated, and he wants her to call off the wedding, and to be with him again. At first he's laughed away, but he quickly evidences knowledge and understanding far beyond what should be possible, threatening Joseph and angering and disturbing Anna's family. If you're not watching closely, you might mistake this as one of those mystical "true love never dies" beyond the grave romances, along the lines of Ghost, but the real theme here seems to be "true love is extraordinarily selfish."

If the boy is lying, what's his angle? What does he hope to gain? But worse, if he isn't lying . . . what joy can he hope to bring to his beloved Anna? What hope can he offer her? How could they have a romantic, physical, adult relationship? It's plain to see that he's bringing her nothing but confusion and pain, that his main effect is to deepen old wounds that have never truly closed. But none of that matters to Sean, as he plows ahead with a preternatural calm and self-possession that seems creepy because it's so adult. He just love her, and that's all that matters. What he should be doing for the sake of the object of his affection doesn't seem to occur to him (or at least not at first).

Meanwhile, why is Anna so quick to believe him? There's no suspense over whether or not she will believe -- we see this happen early on, in a wordless and extraordinary two minute shot of Anna's face (Kidman's performance here is one of her best, and reason enough all by itself to see the movie). But why is she in such a hurry to throw aside her fiance to pursue this unbelievable notion, no matter the cost to those she loved, or to herself, her relationship, even (it's suggested) her sanity? She claims, in one of the key thematic moments, that she had no choice, that anybody else would have reacted as she did. This is clearly untrue, but it doesn't matter to Anna. What matters is that she loved her husband, she wants him back, and she'll grasp at any straw to have what she desires. Her frank interest in the boy is just as disturbing as it's meant to be, and director Jonathan Glazer (Sexy Beast) allows his film to be disturbing, without ever granting Anna the absolution for her actions that would careen the telling into lurid exploitation.

Nor does Joseph deserve our sympathy. He's obviously threatened as his fiance seems willing to throw him over for a fifth grader, but he's too quickly threatened, and jumps too readily to violent anger. It's not easy to compete with a prepubescent, but surely there are more appropriate methods of going about it than those Joseph chooses. From his first appearance, when he announces his engagement to Anna in terms of hunter and prey (indeed, in his self-congratulation seems blind to the fact that he comes off as a stalker), to a late scene when he allows Anna to kiss his hand, love for Joseph -- and for all these people -- is all about ownership . . . about possession (incidentally, this makes me wonder if Kidman's hair, which is such a strong call-back to Mia Farrow's iconic bob in the otherwise thematically unrelated demon-possession classic Rosemary's Baby, isn't one of the most subtle puns ever told). In the final shots, Anna has made her choice, or her cage. Perhaps she didn't have a choice. Or maybe Birth suggesting that she could have chosen neither suitor, and no possession at all. The claustrophobic sets, chilly minimalist score, and dark palette all underscore the constrictive themes.

So, is Sean who he says he is? I hope you enjoy your ambiguity cold. If this movie stumbles, it's in a late-act revelation that either muddies the water further toward this point (as well as whether or not Anna's dead husband truly deserves her undying ardor), or else attempts to answer the question definitively in a way that is completely unsatisfactory. If I was more sure that Glazer's intentions lay to the former, I'd be more inclined to grade this movie higher (and I think repeat viewings definitely could improve the score). As it is, it's a hidden gem that just needed a bit more polishing to be a classic.

Humanoids from the Deep (1980)

'Humanoids from the Deep' (1980), title screen*
Don’t be fooled. Humanoids from the Deep (1980) is not, in fact, a comedy. Despite the title. Or the script. Or the acting. Or the slimy, big-brained, crazily-grinning humanoids.

No, this is deeply serious, grim stuff. An apocalyptic parable. A dark satire on societal values. A pointed commentary on the dangers of scientific progress. A film that forces viewers to reflect meaningfully on the significance of their existence. Most specifically, the eighty minutes of that existence taken up by viewing the film. Swallowed up like so much chum.

Those old enough to recall the early days of cable TV and Home Box Office might remember this one, which somehow enjoyed repeated airings on HBO before the channel went 24 hours in late 1981. Those showings are memorialized in Bobbie Ann Mason’s 1985 novel In Country, when the protagonist, the teenaged Samantha Hughes, at one point tells her friend “HBO is pukey tonight -- Humanoids from the Deep.”

Humanoids takes place in northern California (where it was filmed), mostly in the coastal town of Noyo near Fort Bragg (north of S.F.). The town was home to the Pomo tribe of native Americans until settlers took it mid-19th century and it subsequently became the site of one of several north coast fisheries.

The film adopts this historical context for its story, as the exposition reveals an impending legal conflict between the native Americans, represented by Johnny Eagle (Anthony Penya), who will try to reclaim their land from the citizens of Noyo who are now planning to build a cannery. Vic Morrow plays the racist, beer-swillin’ Hank Slattery, who is pro-cannery and anti-Injun. Caught in between that conflict is Jim Hill, played by an agitated Doug McClure. Tension mounts as, in addition to their other worries, all three men are in desperate need of haircuts.

'Humanoids from the Deep' (1980), posterAs if to ensure the audience’s understanding of the film’s non-comedic intentions, early scenes feature the mysterious killings of (1) a young boy and (2) a dog, accentuated by occasional glimpses of webbed hands and ominous footprints.

More canine carnage ensues, followed by a visit to Noyo by a Dr. Susan Drake. She’s blond and sorta pretty (by Noyo standards), but don’t jump to conclusions -- she’s a scientist, dammit! And she’s involved in some-kind-of-really-important-research-something-or-another upstream where they are figuring out how to improve salmon production by making them “grow bigger, faster, and twice as plentiful.”

Ah, humans. So ambitious. Always reaching too far. Perhaps the occasional humanoid attack is needed, just to keep us in line.

Humans start going down, and a clearer picture of the enemy emerges. Think Creature from the Black Lagoon, with extra long, goofy arms and big juicy brains fit over the skulls like oversized bike helmets. In fact, they probably are bike helmets. The creatures randomly slaughter the men, and -- most disturbingly -- appear desirous to “mate” with the women. Though most clumsily, doncha know. Those big brains may signify advanced intelligence, but, really, the humanoids are quite boorish!

One of the creatures is killed and taken to the lab, where Dr. Drake explains -- with the help of an instructional film from your junior high biology class -- how 3,000 salmon treated with “DNA-5” were accidentally released, other sea creatures fed on them, and voila! -- humanoids!

Why do they kill? “To protect their territory and their food sources.” Why do they “mate” with the women? “These creatures are driven to mate with man now, in order to further develop their incredible evolution.” Oka-a-a-y.

Oh, dear. We were so engrossed by the instructional film and lecture, we completely forgot about... the FESTIVAL!

The next fifteen minutes of mayhem -- in which hoards of humanoids indiscriminately wipe out most of the Noyo population while they innocently try to get their festival on -- may well be the entire reason the film was made. Those fifteen minutes certainly took up the majority of its budget. The “pukey” special effects suitably stimulated the kiddies staying up to watch on HBO. The sucker ends most menacingly with the threat of a sequel -- thankfully never acted upon. (However, a remake was apparently carried out in the 1990s.)

Produced by an uncredited Roger Corman and directed by Barbara Peeters (or “Peters”), Humanoids from the Deep obviously transcends all usual rating systems, but we’ll give it one star, anyway, for having somehow evolved to the point of slithering up onto land and simply existing.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

jjok's Collection of Faves

I could go on and on and on about what movies I like. I'm not too hard to please. Have a good story, have some memorable scenes, at least a little bit of humor, and some blood and guts doesn't hurt either.

I caught a flicker tonight that is arguably one of my faves of the faves.

Snatch.


Now being Guy Ritchie's last good flick before it all went to hell for him, I have to say that it can be a love-hate movie for alot. It's a guy movie for sure......but as a dude, you have to enjoy the occasional violent humor and get a kick out of underworlds where things happen that you would never in your dreams think you would ever encounter on your own.


So with that, here's what I learned from it



1. Now I know what coursing is......had no idea.

2. What the hell is periwinkle blue?

3. Brick Top puts Michael Vick to shame....and yes that is exactly what I meant.

4. "Anything to declare?"

"Yeah. Don't go to England."

5. Apparently a 16 pigs can consume a 200 pound body in 8 minutes with each pig going at it 2 pounds a minute......hence the term "greedy as a pig"

6. Vinny Jones is a one schtick "actor" (yes in quotes for the former footballer). But GD does he do it well.

7. Dennis Farina deserved best supporting actor in a guy movie.

8. "In the quiet words of the Virgin Mary... come again? "

9. Proper fucked. Never knew what that meant.

10. Some really fun camera work. Namely the Desert Eagle gun scene in the bar, the Brad Pitt flatbacked in the air after getting punched and his popping back up, and Farina taking the shot on the plane and the following passport stamp.

11. Brad Pitt really made this movie that much better.

12. Jason Statham's best role other than Crank.



In all, again, I say that this is truly a great work. A great comic caper with blood, guts, gambling, degeneracy, dirtyness, and some of the best lines and scenes.

Check it out, if you haven't already.





Till next time, May all your movies have boobs.


jjok signing off

Independent Films vs. Indie Films

The subtle differences are finally explained by the highly imitable Strong Bad.



Oh, and if somehow you haven't yet discovered Strong Bad, then you are squirrel-handed. Go now.

Coraline (2009)

First off, sanks God @astinto is out of the continent. Second, dude! Coraline is totally Burton...er...esque.All of the previews were for Tim Burton movies, too! Not that I won't often get names and stuff wrong, I will (watch out the first time I try to review an Eva Mendes movie, I will call her Rosario Dawson, at least twice.) But the Burton thing, whoa, I didn't even doubt it for a second. I wouldn't blame him if he sues. The gist of my review stands. The movie is scary and it's good.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Cole Porter, American Genius

Kiss Me Kate (1953)

* * * *


This film, quite simply, is a nearly flawless adaptation of a popular Broadway stage show (I saw a stage revival on Broadway back in 2000) during the last hurrah of the big MGM musical era.

The story is constructed using the “play-within-a-play” structure about the backstage antics of the cast and crew putting on a performance of Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew. Oh, and two gangsters intent on collecting a gambling debt.

Howard Keel and Kathryn Grayson play the lead roles of Fred Graham/Petruchio and Lili Vanessi/Katherine, a divorced pair of actors who are bickering during the opening night performance.

It was filmed in 3-D, which is why you’ll see the actors on film occasionally throwing things at the audience: when Ann Miller’s Lois Lane/Bianca dances during her rendition of “Too Darn Hot”, she seemingly throws some of her clothes through the screen, but the film cuts to a seething Lili Vanessi who catches them.

Cole Porter did the music. It’s simply phenomenal, and should make you laugh and cry.

Some of Porter's lyrics from the original play, first produced on Broadway in 1948, were toned down because they were considered too racy for film audiences. Even so, the songs are still great.

A young Bob Fosse is featured in the dance numbers.

Why is this film so enjoyable? It features first-rate musical talent who also had the acting ability to deliver the goods in the dramatic scenes; it borrowed from the Bard; and it is very funny in a variety of ways. Highbrow, lowbrow, situational humour, sophisticated innuendo, sparkling fast-paced dialogue … everything’s here.

On the debit side of the ledger, it’s impossible to ignore the dated staging at times, but it’s only mildly jarring for brief moments in time.

I highly recommend Kiss Me, Kate.

If you’d like to see an excellent modern version which features Cole Porter’s original lyrics, PBS filmed a 2001 London revival which is available for sale on DVD (the 2000 Broadway run deservedly earned several Tony awards). And I can’t help but note that Rachel York is superb in the role of Lili Vanessi and a worthy successor to Kathryn Grayson.

So go brush up your Shakespeare.

Push (2009)

Hey folks. Jordan from HighOnPoker here with my very first post to Film Chaw. I'm currently on vacation in Europe, but told my wife to go piss off while I write a blog post on this fine compendium blog. The things I do for J Goat's audience...

Speaking of, over the course of the trip, I've watched the 2009 science fiction action flick Push, starring Chris Evans (Human Torch from the Fantastic Four movies) and Dakota Fanning (Dakota Fanning from some other movies) and to my surprise, it didn't suck. Let me repeat that for emphasis: it didn't suck. As in did not. I know! I was just as surprised. First, a brief introduction.

Push was a movie that came out and basically fizzled at the box office. In fact, if it weren't for the fact that I was loading up on bootleg movies for my trip, I wouldn't have seen it either. But I knew it was sci-fi and involved telekinesis, so being the comic book geek that I am, I decided to give it a go.

The movie is actually sorta a super hero movie, or more accurately a super power movie, involving people who (hell I don't remember if they were made by the gov't or some sorta mutants...I think the gov't, but it doesn't matter) aw crap...lost my train of thought. Okay. It's about people with super abilities, most of which work with or are hunted by the government. The government has operatives, not unlike something out of Heroes but without huge gaps in believability (even for a sci fi flick). These operatives developed a blah blah blah. Let's be real. The storyline is not so important as the action. Basically, Evans is a second generation telekinetic who gets drafted to help acquire a person (coincidentally his ex) by Dakota Fanning, who can see the future. Neither of them are very good at what they do. There are a slew of other characters, helping our renegade duo, working for the gov't, or working for some Chinese gangsters who are also all suped up.

Overall, though, the movie moves along very well. The characters are believable, the acting is good, the storylines goes all over the place but still makes sense and has a great arch to it. It's a great blend of sci fi concepts, super powers in a real world setting, and action flick, um, action.

The bottom line: If you like super hero or super power movies, you'll enjoy this one. If you like sci fi action flicks, you'll enjoy it. It's one of those surprise movies were you can come in with low expectations and be happily surprised.

I'll leave you with one recommendation: suspend disbelief for a bit. There are a couple of logic holes, like a fight seen in a crowded location where people would obviously have reacted to the super powers (granted its in a place where perhaps that news would not get out, but more likely than not, news of a super power fight would get out to the world). There are also some odd issues with seeing the future, but this IS sci fi, so there are bound to be some holes.

Until next time, make mine Film Chaw!

Something about a girl and a machine.

'Ello to all ya gov'na's out there! Welcome to first of my posts that will, most likely, be mistakenly taken as writing that stands up proudly next to the many great men, woman and a couple really smart dolphins that contribute to this blog. In reality this post had been quarantined to some 286 in the damp basement of the internet (coincidently taking up far to much space on a 5 1/4" disk alongside my other two writing debacles) many years ago, that has somehow bubbled and clawed its way to sit here, on this blog of great movie purveyors. My posts will more or less fall on the recommendation side because well, I am rather terrible at watching movies to review them. I sit down to watch a movie and enjoy every minute of it (probably helps that I have an amazingly high suspension of disbelief). So if that personal intro doesn't make you want to banish me back to whence I came from, then read on for my first suggestion: Machine Girl.

So ya know those jokes that start by taking what looks to be completely unrelated and arbitrary items and then coalesces them into a wonderful punchline that somehow leaves you with milk coming out your nose? Something akin to: What do you get when you mix a bulldog and a shih tzu? Well, hoo boy, do I have one for you!

To give a warning before going much further, this movie is not for the faint of heart or for anyone who should not watch R rated movies. Mind you, neither of those stopped me from watching it, but I did need a hug, my blanky and some soothing jazz afterward.

Let's see if I can even come close to making this intro anywhere near as good or hilarious as the movie is.

What do you get when you mix cute girls, ninjas, digit sushi, tempura, insane parents (actually liberally apply insanity to absolutely everyone in the film), forced amputation, one really big gun and enough blood and gore to make "paint the town red" transform into "painting the town, suburbs, countryside and a couple cows red?"

You would either get a re-dubbed version of my fondest childhood memories from cartoon shows on YouTube or The Machine Girl! We'll go with The Machine Girl and leave Care Bears for another day when I'm so overly bored that it starts making sense to watch random Care bear videos on YouTube.

I could go on forever about my love of this movie (which coincidentally I share the same type of love for Plan 9 from Outer Space) which caused me to laugh, and cry from laughing so hard, but here is the preview so you can get a glimpse of the wonderfulness that is this movie yourself:

Monday, August 24, 2009

Son of Rambow

Now this is a movie about Bromance!
I don't know if anyone has even heard of this little movie. I saw a trailer for it on some equally obscure movie I rented a few months ago and it looked cute, so I picked it up. The kids all have British accents, so this totally satisfies my "foreign film" requirement for the year. The story is about two boys, maybe about 14 or 15 years old, who meet in line for detention after they both play a role in breaking a fishbowl and killing the school goldfish. The shorter boy comes from a very religious family and has never been in trouble before; the taller boy is from a poor family and well, has made getting into trouble an art. Together they are your classic oil and water, yet go together like peanut butter and jelly pairing. The taller boy wants to enter a film contest for young movie makers and the short boy is taken with the Rambo films, so decides he is the Son of Rambow (he had never seen the whole movie, just snippets from the taller boy's bootleg copy, so he guesses at the spelling of Rambo!) and they make a movie about how the Son of Rambow rescues his father from captivity. The supporting cast is also delicious, from the fruity French boy to Chuck Bass from Gossip Girl! The movie is not only a celebration of friendship, but of how movies shape our lives and make life long impressions. It reminded me of the summer after I saw "War Games" with Matthew Broderick. I measured everything in terms of what Defcon Level it was pushing me toward. The weeks after I saw Karate Kid, I spent hours balancing my weight on one foot and kicking at anyone foolish enough to cross my path. Ah, memories.

Primer

* * *

I can't write about this movie without spoilers, because I'm not sure what happened, any more than the characters are.

This is a dark, impenetrable film, in which the impenetrability seems to be the point. A jargon-heavy story about four white collar drones with dreams of garage startup glory, Primer doesn't even attempt to help the viewer into the world of casual technical interplay between these hopeful future titans of industry. In fact, I can't figure out what on earth they are actually trying to invent when two of them (first-time actors David Sullivan and director Shane Caruth are impressive) discover that they've accidentally invented what is, essentially, a time machine. Having made this nifty discovery, they quickly realize that they can start thinking much larger than start-up investment money. And with that, they begin a meticulous plan to ensure their fortunes while taking great pains to see that they don't mess with the historical timeline. As they discover (or at least I think that they do) that they already have messed with the timeline, identity and reality themselves start to bleed into one another, until you're not sure who you are watching, or from when, or to what purpose. The script seems to portend that we are watching a Twilight-Zone type morality play about the horror of men meddling with forces that they shouldn't know, but to me it's real strength is the casual and quotidian way it has of inserting us directly into the unknown itself. What would it feel like to be in the middle of a time paradox, anyway? It couldn't be much more disorienting than Primer's final sequences.

I will put it this way. If you didn't like Season 5 of Lost? Run away.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Declawed

I am a fan of old movies, so much so that I pay for far too many cable channels just so I can have Turner Classic Movies. High on my list of favourites are the comedies of the 30's and 40's, movies like Philadelphia Story, Bringing Up Baby and the Thin Man series.

My all time favourite from that period is The Women, based on Clare Booth Luce's play and directed by George Cukor. I do love this little gem of cattiness. I love how nary a man is pictured, even though it is very much a picture about men. I love how it depicts the underlying tension between all of these different types of women; good, bad, old, and young. And I love the snappy dialogue between the women, carried so well by the likes of Rosalind Russell and Joan Crawford. It's all so genteel, yet unapologetically bitchy.




A pivotal moment in the movie happens when Mary Haines FINALLY decides to grow a backbone and fight. In her words, "I've had two years to grow claws mother. Jungle red!"

And seventy years later, The Women would be declawed.

I was on the fence about seeing the remake of The Women. Hollywood does not have that great a reputation when it comes to remaking a classic. But I looked at the cast, and thought hey, with the likes of Meg Ryan, Annette Bening, Bette Midler and Candice Bergen in it, how bad can it be?

I really need to stop asking myself that question as a part of my decision making process.

While the remake isn't bad, not like Gigli or Ishtar bad, it is certainly disappointing. Gone is the wit and the tension. There are some nods to the original (Meg Ryan's character asks at one point, "What is this, a movie from the thirties?"), but all of the juice has been written out of it. Or directed out of it. Or edited out of it. The good woman is too good. The bad girl isn't bad enough. The back-stabbing friend repents and apologises. And a ditzy baby machine and a black lesbian are tossed in to round out all the stereotypes.

Sad, really, how nice it's become. It's like ordering a Cosmopolitan and the waiter hands you a Shirley Temple. And the new ending is just so nauseating pleasant, I just about threw my remote at the tv.

1939 version: ****
2008 version: *

Friday, August 21, 2009

Found In Duey's Vaults #3 : Batman (1990)

RATING ***

Last article I mentioned that I was going to review a smart horror movie from the 80's. Well.....forget I ever said that. I changed my mind. You will never know what it is. Nyah Nyah.

Instead I am going to review a movie that came on TV the other day and I decided to watch it because I still love this movie to this day. I also whipped out the movie from my vaults. It was one of the few movies that was actually PURCHASED. I think I received it as a Christmas gift in either 1990 or 91. As a 9 year old I requested THIS movie on my Christmas list dammit!

And this is the main reason I love this movie.
Photobucket

There were a couple things right off the bat I wanted to mention while watching this movie.

1. The fact that watching this now makes it feel like I'm watching the old 60's version of Batman. When this movie came out, it was so modern and dark...thanks to Tim Burton. But because of The Dark Knight and Heath Ledger's performance(and about 20 yrs later), this version comes off like the comical 60's version. With that being said, I still love this version and because of Jack Nicholson's acting history I think I would always prefer seeing his view of the Joker.

2. Tim Burton knew how to create a world. I'm already thinking of Beetlejuice as I type this and I might have to review that too....but.....you could just tell by watching a scene if its Tim Burton or not. Look at the artwork on the walls of the following clip. The subtle humor and landscapes are so surreal that it all comes off as just........normal. To me anyway. Every piece of scenery looks homemade.(For example, instead of a getting a gargoyle head statue, they just make their own.) I mean...we are watching a movie about a joker and a bat, and its based off a comic book. So, for Tim Burton to make it feel like that with ease is a job very well done.

3. I love this scene...Jack knew how to just let loose.



4. I was pissed when they replaced Micheal Keaton with Val Kilmer back then. I don't know if that argument is relevant anymore. In hindsight, I still think he was the best Batman...George Clooney was definitely the worst and Val Kilmer I think just had a shitty script. Tim Burton and Micheal Keaton definitely make a good team. Check out Beetlejuice for more proof.

Other reasons to see this movie.

* Kim Basinger in her prime as Vicki Vale.
* Prince dominates the soundtrack.
* The Final Showdown

Inglourious Basterds

It's opening today. But did you know that Quentin Tarantino's movie is a remake? No, I'm not talking about Italian director Enzo Castellari's 1978 movie The Inglorious Bastards.

I am referring to this.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Hello, my name is Mary and I'm a filmaholic

Actually, I used to be a filmaholic but I've been clean for the last three years. I should be watching more movies but life seems to get in the way these days. That and being forced at gunpoint by Dawn Summers to watch the entire Buffy and Angel series. I find it very surprising that I never watched these when they originally aired - they were made specifically for my goth/industrial lifestyle back then. Ah well, I'm getting off topic.

I thought I do a simple introduction, no fanfare. I was going to list some of my favourite directors and why they are on the list but instead, I'll just use some pretty pictures.

My posts here will most likely be sporadic but in September, a friend of mine and Dawn Summers is producing a Comedy Film Festival for the Friars Club so I'm sure to have some reviews from that. I know he's got the latest Coen Brothers film for opening night and as you'll see from the pretty pictures below, I'm a Coen Brothers fan so there will be a review.

Okay, enough rambling.

Some of my fav directors (in alphabetical order):


Tim Burton, Edward Scissorhands


The Coen Brothers, O Brother Where Art Thou?


Terry Gilliam, Brazil


Stanley Kubrick, A Clockwork Orange


David Lynch, Eraserhead

I'm also a big fan of animation. I try to go to all the animation film festivals so hopefully I'll have some reviews for you. Here are some of my fav animation directors/studios:


The Brothers Quay, Street of Crocodiles


Hayao Miyazaki, Studio Ghibli, Spirited Away


Nick Park, Aardman Animations, The Wrong Trousers


Pixar Animation Studios, Toy Story

Tyler Perry is a douchebag

I despise Tyler Perry. My review of his "The Family that Preys," pretty much summarizes why:

Yet one more in the long line of Tyler Perry movies where the smart, ambitious professional black woman is taken down a peg…cause how dare she be all uppity with her school learnin’. If I ever meet that man in real life I am sticking my uppity professional black woman foot up his ass. Okay, this one I did to myself. I mean, if I didn’t learn after “Daddy’s Girls” I will NEVER learn.


In that particular film, brought to you by a man who clearly HATES black women with graduate school degrees, one of the women, a businesswoman of some kind, has saved up her earnings from the last 7 years at her job and plans to leave her husband and make a new life with her lover and her son. The husband finds the bank account with the money, withdraws it all and starts a construction business with it. At the end of the movie, the lover leaves the woman, the husband divorces her and she and her son end up living in a motel. The ex husband comes by to drop off her things and on his way out hands her a couple of hundred dollars "for you and Ben," or whatever the child's name was. We are supposed to believe this is her comeuppance. That's what she gets for cheating! That whore! DUDE.
HER HUSBAND STOLE HER MONEY!
In Daddy's Little Girls? Same thing. The female lawyer is clearly a stuck up BITCH because she doesn't want to settle down with a mechanic, who has served time for rape, and has three children. Who does that whore think she is? I'm not saying there's anything wrong with a lawyer marrying an ex-convict mechanic with three children; lord knows, if Zac Ephron was an ex-con mechanic with three children, I would marry him in a heartbeat. Hell, if Zac Ephron was a serial murder on death row with fourteen children, I would marry him. Not in a heartbeat though, I would have to think about it for a few days, it's probably hard to get to death row from Brooklyn. However, Perry's movies strongly suggest that a single black woman needs to settle down with whatever single black man there is around AND MAKE THAT MAN HAPPY. And then he adds a "you stupid bitch," and slaps her hard on the face for emphasis.
I always try to support black artists in film and television. I will rent their movies and watch shows with black cast members. However, I don't have very many black people in my daily circle, so I never really had a sense of how other black people felt about Tyler Perry. Happily, through twitter, I've been conversing (and eavesdropping) on other black women who feel the way I do.


Each of his films advances nearly the same message to his audience (which is overwhelmingly African-American, female, devoutly Christian and over 30). Be demure. Be strong but not too strong. Too much ambition is a detriment to your ability to find a partner and spiritual health. Female beauty can be dangerous. Let a man be a "man." ... How can black women achieve equity in media ownership, images and leadership if they're always portrayed as stereotypes? Mr. Perry, you owe your audience something better.



That was from a "The Nation" piece linked by Rana.

And that's just one of the voices who didn't use a string of profanity laden insults. You know, like I would. I won't watch Perry's films anymore. I wish high profile black actresses wouldn't star in them anymore. But I also realize there aren't many other vehicles out there for them.

Zac Ephron forever.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The Spaghetti Western

I have a brother 10 years older than me. He was a useless piece of hippie crap in his teens and because of the period he grew up in, he spent a lot of time with drugs. A Disco Hippie we referred to him as. The worst part of his lifestyle was his lack of funds. I would've like to have grown up with a role model for a brother. Instead I grew up with one who wrapped used Christmas presents in tin foil. Probably the same tinfoil that housed his coke before he turned it into wrapping paper.

Nonetheless, he gave me a book for Christmas when I was 8. It certainly was a piece of shit present for an 8 year old kid. I forget the official title of the book but it was about Westerns and how they were produced in Hollywood. I only read it because one day, having been sent to my room after beating the younger brother, it was all I could find to occupy me. That book damn near changed my life.

Before that book, I hardly read at all. After that book, I never stopped. What intrigued me was the inside look it gave to the productions of those movies. The most enlightening little tidbit that I never forgot was about how some of the actors would not act while fighting in the fight scenes. They would go all out beating the shit out of each other. If there was a scene without the star you could be sure that the fight scenes where real. The competition for those roles was so intense that they would literally give the most realistic performance they could to ensure future employment.

I watched those movies a lot. In fact I couldn't get enough of them. The best part about them was the music that was put into the soundtracks. Armando Trovaioli is probably the composer of the most famous soundtracks you hear in those movies, and to this day, his compositions are still used.

One of his most famous,"I Lunghi Giorni Della Vendetta" is my absolute favorite. I used to play this soundtrack before every football game we ever played in High School. The team would walk out of the locker room while it was playing. The title translates to "the long day of vengeance".

Music plays a huge role in movies, and can make or break a scene. Sometimes a movie. Below is a vid of that specific song. Put it in your Ipod and listen to it when some keeps raising your blinds :)



A Sensitive Man

A short post for another short film.

At the Quinte Hotel was a short I saw at the same screening as L'Homme Sans TĂȘte. This one is in English though. It's an animated short based on a great poem by Canadian poet Al Purdy. That's Al reading the poem.

Ever since I first saw it, I've searched for a means of obtaining it. It wasn't for sale, it wasn't online (only a 36 second clip could be found), and any link to it merely mentioned that it once made the rounds of festivals.

But now, it's available at the creator's site, Global Mechanic. This makes me happy. It's also apparently available to buy from the NFB (National Film Board), but their store doesn't exactly work.

For the full story, you might want to check out this recent post about it, but I suggest you just put aside 3 minutes and watch it.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Hustler

* * * * *
It's all in the eyes. One second the kid is a rube, a drunk rube at that, betting three weeks earnings on a pool shot he'll never make. He's all talk, no stick. Then the bet is made, and that nice dumb kid turns into a cobra. There's no missing the shot - the camera doesn't even watch it go in, that's how good he is. And he's barely looking at the shot, he's looking up at the doubters. He want you to know how good he is. He wants you to be ashamed for not appreciating him. All in the eyes.

Paul Newman gives one of the finest leading performances of his career here, but much of the lasting greatness of The Hustler is due to the supporting cast, who are uniformly brilliant. Jackie Gleason, Piper Laurie and George C. Scott all come to play, and they get all the little details just right. I love the way Gleason brings a quiet dignity to his pool-hall kingpin - he taps his pool cue in appreciation of a great shot with the refinement of an opera connoisseur. I love how that stiff neck of Scott's makes him seem not quite human, a Frankenstein's monster who craves money, not affection. I love Piper Laurie, wise and wounded and far too smart for the room.

This is a film about pool only tangentially; director Robert Rossen is more concerned with the hustle than with any specific game. Newman, as pool savant "Fast Eddie" Felson, exudes such easy cool that it takes a while to realize that he is playing a loser, somebody with all the right tools for greatness and a self-destructive streak six lanes wide. (Newman played a similar trick in 1994's Nobody's Fool, but there he was a likeable loser.) Eddie is determined to beat Minnesota Fats (Gleason), who has a national reputation in seedy circles as being the best. This rankles Eddie, who doesn't just think he's the best; he knows he's the best. It isn't enough for him to know it, either. He needs the world to understand.

This leads an epic pool matches between Eddie and Fats that are more about art than anything else (this film recognizes that every pursuit contains the potential for greatness). Eddie and Fats understand the game on levels that others cannot hope to comprehend - the best that onlookers can hope to do is make a buck off the action. Pool manager and all-around shady guy Bert Gordon (Scott) has made more than a buck, he's made enough to run the show. You play by his rules or you don't play. Scott is magnificent as The Hustler's soulless center, the stiff-necked personification of commerce's corrupting influence on art, the ultimate hustle.

But that's all subtext; the film is far more interesting than a mere societal treatise, it is a story about people that are all-too human, whose failings are too great to not prove their undoings. Sarah (Piper Laurie), the hopelessly wounded alcoholic that Eddie takes up with, has the wisdom that her pool-sharp boyfriend lacks, while he has the confidence she needs. Together they nearly make up a whole person.

Sarah sees Gordon for what he is, which is too bad for her, because Gordon's whole show is knowing where the weak spots are and then attacking them ruthlessly, and Sarah's weak spots are massive (Example: For all her tough exterior, in the end she is too trusting. Probably you shouldn't rest your hope on a guy named "Fast" Eddie). The final showdown with Fats is anticlimactic only as straight pool - the real battle is one of character, of honor. Gleason shows us how compromised Fats has become to sit atop his sad little hill, while Eddie uses his stick like a weapon. His showdown is less with Fats now than with the man behind the man, and Newman's final scene with Scott is the stuff film legends are made of.

"You owe me MONEY!!!!"

Found in Duey's Vaults #2: Friday the 13th V: A New Beginning(1984)

RATING : *

Intro

Isn't being a child great? You are already practically in a world of imagination. To be placed in front of a TV amplifies that greatly. A child doesn't ask for much...doesn't need much in those first 10 yrs. There is plenty to dig into before eventually running out of superficial, materialistic, bogus stuff to be interested in. Then your 20's come around...and then you eventually begin to "think".

Real thinking.

Spiritual stuff that once seemed boring to a child now becomes the Garden of Eden. Long books are now read. Substance becomes important. A meaning(preferably deep) is yearned in that 90 min movie.

With that being said, it was painstakingly hard to sit through this 5th installment of the Friday the 13th series that was SO DAMN important to me as a child.

Nevermind the fact that this movie doesn't even have Jason Voorhees in it. He is still dead so to speak and a psycho EMT takes his place wearing the same mask and suit. It's like watching Halloween 3. That movie didn't even have Micheal Myers in it.....not even a clone, yet fans of the Friday the 13th franchise were pissed off that the "true" Jason wasn't doing the killing even though everyone watched it thinking it WAS him........... only to be "dissapointed" at the end. I don't get it.
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Anyway, as a kid I didn't even know who Jason Voorhees was. All I cared about was the mask! The mask was what drew me in in the first place. It was the color of his skin, so to speak. I was a horror racist! If Jason Voorhees WAS in the movie without the mask I WOULD have hated it. So to each his own I guess.
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Finding the tape

Wow, did I have a flashback when i read the label. It was the first movie of 3 which also included Friday the 13th part 7 and A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors. The first 20min of the movie I am now reviewing was not recorded.(My mom must of recorded it....and once again my 8 yr old self didn't care. I filled in the blanks myself.) Thankfully I found a version of the movie to watch for free online.

The Review

Damn, with all fairness though, right after the Paramount logo was displayed, I was sucked back into the Jason universe with a bang. Corey Feldman walking through the woods with that great creepy ambient music with climbing orchestral string melodies. It's also raining very heavily with thunder and lightning to cover up any bad acting that High School Drunk#1 and #2 attempt as they dig up Jason's grave. Corey hides in the woods as he watches.

Flaw #1 : Don't bury Jason with his machete!

2 guys dead.

Flaw #2 : Oh wait it was a dream. Corey wakes up and is now 20 yrs older. Bye Corey!! You were the best actor of this one and now you are gone 5 min into the movie. Shame.

Corey's older self is played by John Sheperd as the character Tommy. Sheperd does an above average performance for this franchise.(Meaning, all he had to do was ignore everyone's questions and not say anything...except for 24 words the whole movie!! It was a good strategy since all the other bad actors wouldn't shut up.) Obviously I don't really care. In fact, I think the childish bad acting helped draw me in as kid. You know.....playing down to my level. They take Tommy to some Mental Health facility camp in the woods where I'm sure all the hijinks will happen.

Tommy's friend at the facility is none other than Walt from Lost. But in this movie he goes by Reggie the Reckless. So this is where he has been ever since Season 2? 3? Hmmmm...I wonder if this movie is considered canon in the Lost mythology. We''ll have to see.

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The first death of the movie is kind of odd. Joey, a character who looks like the love child of James Belushi and Sean Penn's fat brother, pisses off another patient who is....chopping wood with an axe!!

Flaw # 3 If you are going to have a mental facility camp in the middle of the woods, and the way you decide to treat them is let them be and have them try to reintegrate into society on their own terms..........still.....hide the axe. This should of been a clue to viewers that anything goes in this particular installment.

Flaw #4 Every character is so stereotypical in this movie, that I really have nothing to report. This movie gets so obvious that the creativity I had for this blog is running dry fast.

Stats courtesy of rottentomatoes.com
  • Body Count: 21.
  • Survivors: 4.
  • Number of stalled cars: 2
  • Number of words Tommy Jarvis says: 24
  • Number of "Jason"-approved weapons: 7. Road flare, axe, knife, machete, garden shears, leather strap, railroad spike.
Ewww....I'm glad I don't have to watch this movie ever again. Watching this however made me think of a great horror film, that is smart.....and very 80's....and I would still enjoy watching today. I will review that one next time.


Here is a music video montage of the movie I just watched. Much easier to digest.

Found in Duey's Vaults #1: Introduction

Hi everybody, this is my first post for FilmChaw. I will be using this
first post as a way to introduce myself and lay out my specific purpose for this blog.


First of all my name is Duey(my REAL internet nickname!). My real
internet name is Jeff Cancer. My birth name will remain undisclosed for
reasons pertaining to collecting a debt. However, I will give you a bit
of my past.


When I was little, my parents had a VCR and would have a field day
recording movies of their liking on HBO or Cinemax. Hundreds of VHS
tapes with messy writing! Sometimes a movie might start 5 minutes to 30
mins too late. Sometimes the ending might be cutoff due to the tape
running out at the end. Whatever the case was, I loved their
collection. I would see movies over and over again....always wondering what happens at the end, or why his mouth was moving one way when something totally different was coming out of his mouth.(censored versions) I then began to record my own selections...obviously in a
better fashion(I would get the opening credits and cut out any
commercials if I was recording on basic TV) and I was only 8 yrs old.


Now at the age of 28 I have unlimited access to......the Vault!


I will be scanning the tapes looking for movies that affected my life.
I will be going back as far as I can to find the early movies that
moved me(mainly horror, comedy, and action flicks.) I will
painstakingly try to read the labels and find any unlabeled
treasures....and of course all the blank tapes that have no labels at
all!!! Those are the ones with recordings of award ceremonys, live
concerts, and sex scenes!


I will try to provide a fun look at serious movies and the serious flaws of bad ones.


Thanks to Julius_Goat for providing his own blog for great
entertainment which led me to this one and the opportunity to write
here.


And now the Vault opens....

17 Again and again and again

I went into 17 Again, starring Zac Ephron and Dawn Summers from the Buffy the Vampire Slayer show (inspiration for my nom de blog) with zero to negative expectations.
But on yet another dull Friday night in the Summers household, it fit the bill perfectly: in stock and unseen.
The movie damn near immediately won me over with Zac Ephron busting a move to Ton Loc's "Bust a Move!"
That's how songs are supposed to work in movies!! T
he movie was sheer cinematic genius from there. Plot is fairly simple, middle aged man, unhappy in his dead-end job and about to be divorced, longs for his halcyon high school days and Voila!
Presto Chango.
Dawn Summers gets to ogle hottie Zac Ephron instead of groan about Eeyorish Matthew Perry. (He plays Chandler from Friends in EVERYTHING!) The movie is funny and touching, if predictable at times (of course, his daughter has to fall for him.) I did NOT like the relationship between his geeky best friend and the principal, though. And I try not to wonder how his daughter is still in high school after 20 years, if he supposedly had to give up his dreams of going to college because he had her straight out of high school. How many times can you get left back in the age of social promotion?
But in every other respect, 17 Again is fun for the whole family! And may become the first movie I've bought in a long time.

Zac Ephron forever.

The Best Zombie Movie You Never Saw

Pontypool is its name, and if you HAVE seen it (it's apparently been on IFC On Demand in the US for a while, don't know if it still is), then you're awesome. The DVD was released last month. I bought it immediately (which ranks it pretty damned high on my scale). I posted the following on my blog when I first saw it at TIFF last year (with some edits).

----

Bruce McDonald, of Hard Core Logo and The Tracy Fragments fame has another point on his scorecard. Grant Mazzy (Stephen McHattie) is a shock jock who's been fired from his big city radio job and finds himself in the small town of Pontypool, Ontario. One snowy winter morning he heads into work - the local radio station in a church basement, and this is where all the action takes place.

This is essentially a one-set movie that deals with, for lack of a better term, a zombie epidemic, from the viewpoint of a talk radio host.

Strange things are happening, calls are coming in, reports are increasingly odd, and nobody's confirming a thing. In fact, the three people in the studio seem to be the only ones who are providing information. Frantic on-air calls, seemingly unconnected events, and a brief hijacking of their airwaves all come together. The isolated viewpoint of the entire thing really works, and McHattie does a fantastic Imus-like character in the middle of a crisis.

The whole thing seemed very Romero-like, with commentary on media and military. There's even a reference to Norman Mailer. Another shared Romereo-ism is that the word "zombie" is never used.

The reason behind the outbreak is decidedly unique... so much so that my level 2 suspension of disbelief kicked in immediately to accept it, and put it aside to figure out later. I've decided it's brilliant.

There are potentially two more parts to the story to be released, and I can't wait for them. Honestly one of the most unique takes on the genre I've seen, and a fantastic film. It was easily one of my top picks from last year's festival.

Even though they have love in the title...

I hate them.
Ironical, I know. The first two movies I'll review are the ones I saw last week, well, two of them anyway. The two that have the word love in them. See, Two lovers? That's how it works, you give something a name AND THEN YOU LIVE UP TO IT! Stupid, idiotic, Gwenth-Paltrow-was-NOT-Joaquin-Phoenix's-lover-at-all movie. (Ok, she might have been for like a few seconds in one scene, but the camera angle was very weird and it was dark and they were on a roof.)

Two Lovers

As a general matter, I don't choose movies based on the trailer. I see so many, I usually just walk into my Blockbuster, and look for a box containing something I haven't seen before and rent it. Not so with Two Lovers. I actually liked the trailer, with its snowy videography and mysterious music, so much, that I went to the store with the express goal of renting this wretched film. The movie begins all promising like: Joaquin Phoenix throws himself into the freezing waters off Brooklyn's Coney Island! Huzzah! And I was like thank God because I wasn't really up for seeing a movie where Joaquin Phoenix AND Gweneth Paltrow played leading roles. As I began to wonder who the actual male lead would be...wouldn't you know, they rescue him. Everything else is downhill from there. Turns out he is a sad sack who lives with his parents after a failed suicide and a broken engagement. His parents then matchmaker him to another sad sack loser who lives with her parents. There is some underlying "oh if our kids get married, it will save both our family businesses" storyline that isn't fully developed or expressed. Meanwhile, across the alleyway is a beautiful, unattainable blond woman who stares at Joaquin as he lies in his childhood bedroom thinking of ways to end his life. She just wants to be friends. Of course, this means he MUST HAVE her. The story unfolds fairly predictably from there. And it does so in the most excruciatingly boring of ways. The dialogue is horrible, I'm fairly sure Paltrow Auto-tuned her entire performance from a soundstage in London (which explains why that sex scene was so dubious) and I don't even remember what the other lover looks like or what her name was. I guess, in case you still want to see this tripe, I won't "ruin" the ending. But I will say nobody is hacked to pieces with a saw by an angry black woman. So, there's no happy ending.

I Love You, Man

I wanted to like this movie. Heck, I wanted to LOVE this movie. I'm a HUGE Paul Rudd fan, I love How I Met Your Mother, I liked that girl from The Office (hmm...maybe I need a TV blog) and I love comedies. It was a gimmee. And yet. I maybe laughed once. And trust me, I am a very easy person to amuse. Like I'm giggling right now for absolutely no reason. And now I'm fully laughing because I can't believe I just admitted to strangers that I'm giggling at my desk for no reason. Anyway, that is how epic a failure, as a comedy, this movie was. Now, perhaps as a quirky indie movie about a guy who finds himself at the middle of his life with no close same sex friends, the movie is a success. Rudd is plausible as the straightman - though I prefer him as the wisecracking friend; and the guy from how I Met Your Mother is decent as the pot smoking slacker who befriends Rudd. But again, this movie was not funny. And that's what I was expecting. The only exception was SNL's Adam Sandberg. His straight faced flaming gay guy who likes straight guys because "they pose more of a challenge," was hysterical. The one time I remember laughing was during a scene with Sandberg and Rudd with their dad at the dinner table. Gold, Jerry, gold.

You can give both of these movies a miss. Unless you're on a plane and can't sleep, then try Two Lovers, cause it will put you out like a light.

Zac Ephron forever.

Is this thing on? by Dawn Summers

Almost all of my blogs start with some variation of this question.
I don't know why. Frankly, with as many blogs and twitter thingies that I have or have had, you'd think I could just learn to trust, that yes, Virginia, this thing is on. Except my name is not Virginia. It's Dawn.
Okay, it's not really Dawn either, but I'll answer to that.
I like linebreaks.
I do not like complete sentences.
Not that I hate them or anything, but continuing the theme of many of the first posts "I am lazy." Completing sentences is something other people do.
People who are not me.
Waffles loves this.
I'll stop now before Astin/Julius (henceforth known as Astulius) fires me. Oh, that's another thing you should know about me. I'm the black one in this merry band of contributors, so in fine movie tradition, I will likely be the first to die in a horrible, bloody way.
I joined this blog because Astulius was all bragging that by writing here, he could now compete with my blog count. Ha. I showed him.
I wouldn't say I love movies, but I do see a hell of a lot of them. While I was on the DL of life for a year and half, I had a blockbuster membership which allowed me to have three movies delivered to me by mail and also rent three movies from the video store. I went through about 6 movies every four days for 9 months.
I broke them. Now they will only allow me to have three movies either via mail or the store out at anytime. Angered, I took my revenge by going through 3 movies everyday. That made them sorry.
No it didn't.
It made me sorry. There are a lot of really bad movies in the world. Like nasty, nose picking, ear wax eating, filthy, stupid, life force sucking movies. They usually feature Nicholas Cage.
I will try to steer you clear of these movies.
Rule #1 of my movie watching advice. If it features Nicholas Cage on the box and was made after 2000, put it back. Actually, do everyone a favor and put it in the garbage.
You're welcome.
You have already gotten your money's worth out of this blog.
I plan to post just one post more frequently than Astulius. So, two more posts will follow shortly.
I wanted to sign off with a catchy phrase but all I can think of is "until next time, make mine movies," but that High on Poker is a lawyer and he's very very vindictive.
Prick.
Um...so...now it's down to "Live long and prosper" or "Zac Ephron forever."
Oh yeah, I'm also the girl. A girl who loves Zac Ephron.
puhrty

Super! Cali!

I will probably be disowned (I don't care) by Tripjax (iPhone/email blogger) for blogging about movies elsewhere (seriously check it out) but The Goat really asked (not really) nicely and I have so much to say (I got nothing) it can not be contained any longer (yeah, right).

Like jjok (father of 4 girls PAL) I am the father of girls. And KajaWife has not wanted to watch anything but romantic comedies for the past 4 years (oh, the horror) so all you'll get from me are four categories:
1. Kid films 2. Romantic comedies 3. Plane movies 4. Memories...

My oldest daughter, KajaKid, who's 4 and a half, can pretty much recite Mary Poppins front to back and back to front. When I first bought the DVD she refused to watch it but I guess she was too young and it was a bit too scary for her:



But now? If she gets the chance to watch a movie, this will be the one she picks. And why the hell not? It's awesome (and a little scary)!

But seriously folks, if you get a chance take a look at the 2nd DVD in the box, with all the specials (that's why we buy DVDs in the first place, right?). You will learn some amazing facts about the film like the one about it taking almost 20 years to secure the rights to the story from the original author (tight player). The fact that this was Julie Andrews' first film and for which she won a Golden Globe and an Oscar (you go girl). The fact that Julie (we're on a first name basis now) was up for the role of Eliza Doolittle in "My Fair Lady" but lost out to Audrey Hepburn because of lack of experience. The fact that Dick Van Dyke had no idea what accent he was trying to speak in. The fact that Matthew Garber who plays Michael Banks died at the age of 21. And lots more.

So to finish off my first movie recommendish (I will probably be the only one to get this inside joke), here's something Julius posted on one of his other blogs. The one you really should be reading.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Warning! Contains French

One of my favourite festivals in my little town of millions is the Worldwide Short Film Festival. One of the best shorts I've seen there is L'Homme Sans Tete (The Man Without a Head). It's long been available online here, but isn't embeddable. However, that version does have subtitles.

Now, it's at dailymotion too, no subtitles however. Don't worry, they aren't really necessary.

jjok Says Get These If You Have Little Girls.

Hi, I'm jjok.
I was begged and paid to offer movie reviews by Julius Goat. Granted many volunteered, but the goat begged me. He did, honest injun.
I am not getting paid for this review.
Based on the threat that there could be some potentially FRENCH movies reviewed by the Shrike man, I'll do my best to try and restore some hope that this here Filmchaw (always link yourself) keeps some shred of dignity and respect.

Background about me, as a few of you know I have triplet girls who are now 6 and a son who is 2. When the triplets were younger, the wifey and I did sometimes deploy the television babysitter so that we could get some sanity in our lives. A few moments of peace go a long way in recharging to fight the endless amounts of battles that riddle a day with triplets.

Enter BARBIE movies.

This is a movie blog isn't it?

Yes it is, so I will spell out the 2 most popular Barbie flickers in the jjok household.



Yes, that's right.....

Mermadia

and

12 Dancing Princesses


Simple breakdown of the 2 movies

The Good:
Endless amounts of princesses, magic, dancing, music, and lotsa glittery shit. Throw in a kiddy "happy ending" with a prince and possibly a wedding and it's loads of fun for a little girl.

The Bad:
Well, see for yourself.



Don't fucking let your son watch it. Just don't let it happen. It messes them all up. It's like teaching your son to wear a condom when we ALL KNOW that it takes away all the feeling.


Don't feel bad for me though, the kid still digs his "dude" shit since he can dress like that and still play a mean game of trains.


and with that I say.......

May all your movies have boobs.


jjok signing off

Lasers, Eight O'Clock, Day One!

"You never start on one! Whoever ever heard of anybody starting anything on one?!"

So, you're one of three types of people. You either recognize the quotes and the movie, you recognize the quotes but not the movie, or you're just waiting for me to explain myself.

Imagine, if you will, that you are a small British boy, and your parents are obsessed with the latest gadgets. Your dad's digital watch beeps and he sends you to bed. Then a knight on horseback crashes through your closet, leaps over your bed, and destroys your wall, riding off into a field.

So begins Terry Gilliam's (hard "G" folks) Time Bandits.

I picked up around 25 Criterion Collection DVDs this weekend, and Time Bandits was the first to be watched. I'll reveal something here that's true for every one of those DVDs I just bought - I'd never seen this movie before.

Which is good, because my view isn't coloured by nostalgia, or by being told I'm wrong time and again. It's a raw experience.



And you know what? It's amusing, imaginative, and at times, hard to sit through.

Don't get me wrong, Time Bandits is a good movie, but it doesn't sit in the pantheon of classics that people believe. I feel the same about Brazil for that matter (although Brazil had an obvious and dire warning about bureaucracy run wild, and no small 1984 vibe to it that contributes to its popularity). Despite being co-written by Michael Palin (who also shows up a couple times), and an appearance by John Cleese, it ain't Monty Python. But then, it isn't meant to be a full-on comedy.

No, I'd put it on the same shelf as The Dark Crystal, Labyrinth, (both of which I own) and similar fantasy movies of the 80's. It has both whimsy and terror in equal parts that just wouldn't fly with today's family fare. Mix in some dry British wit and I'm glad that Time Bandits exists.

It also maintains my belief in Gilliam. He hasn't had a great run of late. The Brothers Grimm was disowned by him after the studio kept meddling and re-editing. Then came Tideland. A movie I actually didn't mind, but was generally met with a loathing I've seldom seen. But soon to come is The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, which looks, frankly, amazing. For those with only recent Gilliam on the mind, I suggest you take a look back a decade or two to remind yourself what's possible with such a fertile imagination behind the scenes.

Underappreciated Movies : Brian Donors (1992)

Let's get to the movie, I'll take care of the shameless self promoting later.

My favorite movies are the ones that don't get a lot of press. The B-movies, the ones that Mystery Science 3000 would spoof. But some of the movies that I watch are those that may have been passed over by narrow minded members of the Academy.

Especially those that stars people that we believe one day will be given recognition by the Fascist Hatemongers at the Academy of Motion Pictures... never mind.

"Religion is a crutch. Only cripples need crutches."

And this cripple needs to get back onto subject.

Let's talk about a good comedy when you are in a bad mood. You've had that bad day and your wife is on your ass about taking the garbage out. You need something brainless, mindless.

You need a brain transplant. Insert Brain Donors from 1992.

From the Brain Donors open using Claymation to the final scene if you have a funny bone it will be tickled with the comic genius that is John Turturro.

Turturro plays Roland T. Flakfizer, an ambulance chaser that loves money as well as client acquisition and countries with loose extradition treaties.

Let's cut to the chase, it's a total remake of A Night at the Opera (1935).



Now for 1992, David and Jerry Zucker allow the scene to be updated...



The Marx brothers:



And Brain Donors :



Now there is the simple plot of money grubbing snooty men and the young understudy that would never have a shot without Roland and the crew.

I give it a A- for mindless entertainment and *** for content for a total of 84 points in the FilmChaw Unofficial made up point scale which means you should watch it if you are looking for senseless comedy, and are not stuffed up and pompous, you will enjoy Brain Donors.

Turturro shined in Gung Ho and when he NAILED Barton Fink, he was rewarded with Brain Donors to allow his comedic glow to shine before cast as the annoying Herb Stemple in Quiz Show.

If you like Turturro in Brain Donors you will LOVE:

Unstrung Heroes
Lesser Prophets
Rounders (DUH)

Next time, I will tell you about one of my favorite actors and his part of an Academy Award Rarity, Longest period of time between first nomination and eventual win.


Sean D is a radio programmer and movie snob. He also writes about his battle with poker in Instant Tragedy and his personal blog at Instant Sean. He is an Aries and soon to be saddled up with a 2nd wife, which will mean more chick flicks to be seen. Sigh.

I'm BAAaaccck!

Well, That's not all true because I was never here in the first place. Goat and I have spoken on more than numerous occasions about movies. We both have a passion for movies and have discussed on several occasions putting something on the interwebs to offer up opinions or downright dogma about what we feel about any film, or anything to do with the film industry. Of course we are both busy (reads lazy) bees and since this was already up, Voila'!

For those of you who read my other blog, you may have noticed that I have a tendency to title most of my posts with movie quotes. Some obscure, some very main stream. I love movies and the "lines" they produce, sometimes recalling them in a manner like they are a part of my everyday vernacular.

Over the years I have been in many heated discussions with friends, colleagues, and yes, even family about which films best portray the subject matter, which actor has the most talent, or which director did the best job.

Movies can be very personal. Some will identify with a character or plot line in a completely different way than others. Some may find the subject matter grotesque or demeaning based on personal or family histories, while others find them comical or light-hearted. People watch movies for different reasons and thus, enjoy them on completely different levels than others may.

Movies are a product, and for that reason, need to be profitable. That profitablity drives Hollywood to put out movie after movie after movie that works financially. Genre films, period films, biopics, usually come out in multiple films by competing studios at or around the same time.

The remake of 3:10 to Yuman was met with the Assasination of Jesse James. Vice Versa followed after the success of Big trading on the story line. Super Hero films, sports films, and comedies trail one after the other broaching the same, or comparable story lines, even if they transcend different characters, or subjects.

In this blog I will compare films, actors, directors and subject matters as I see it. I hope to enitice dialogou if not debate, and I hope to tempt you to try to see certain films that may have not captured the mainstream, thus was missed by the most casual of movie watchers. For this I will offer a weekly Friday entry of a must see film that I think will be, or should be enjoyed by the masses.

I'm excited to be on board, and I hope to be more than just another writer. I won't be doing much critiquing as I will always try to find the reasons to watch, rather not to watch. As bad as any movie can be, there will alsways be something redeeming in it to effect or benefit someone.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

A certain je ne sais quoi

Julius Goat is one talented writer.

He also comes up with brilliant ideas that spark group participation, like this here blog.

I like films, particularly French films (by virtue of Canada's public school system and progressive, well-educated parents who leapt at Trudeau's bilingualism agenda of the late seventies I am fluent in the language) and I have an unabashed enthusiasm for intelligent SF (sadly, this is a genre in which Hollywood rarely succeeds). So I will be delving into these film genres and exercising my protesting cinema muscles in an attempt to chronicle my thoughts on various films I've watched over the years.

Julius Goat is one talented writer.

I am a foolish person. Now I can't help but have my shortcomings as a writer magnified by direct comparison to his efforts.

Let's All Go To The Lobby


Here we are. The website that literally nobody was clamoring for! I started the FilmChaw in 2003, and I have a fond place in my heart for it as it was my first ever slice of the Internet. I kind of drifted away from it, but brought it back again after The_Goat_Speaks got me in love with blogging. Then I started trying to write my novel again while still posting to TGS. And now I'm doing some co-plotting on a novela about a great Elvis impersonator. Oh, and I want to make more videos.

Clearly this is a fine time to try to get my film blog going again, but that's what my big brain keeps insisting it wants to do, and who am I to argue with my big brain? It got me a Bachelor's in Liberal Arts, after all. Thanks, big brain!

But then it occurred to me that it really doesn't have to be MY film blog. I mean, look: almost everybody watches movies. If there is a communal art form, it's this one. On the other hand, there are such an endless variety of movie appreciation, of perspective on both specific subject materials, as well as of the historical and technical understanding of the medium itself, that it is pretty obviously our most diverse -- and diversely appreciated -- art form.

In other words, there are millions of movie lovers. But there are thousands of different kinds of movie lovers. That was the whole point of the events I used to have called "FilmChaws," now that I think of it. The idea was a "blind" DVD marathon, in which each participant would come with a secret movie. These movies would be drawn at random from the pool and watched with no pre-expectations. There were no limits to what you could bring. 1940s Hungarian art film? Fine. The latest multiplex Will Ferrell vehicle? No problem. Your favorite film ever? Sure. Your least favorite was jake with me, too. Anything. No limitation. The idea, you see, was to expand your perspective. To put yourself at the mercy of the artistic tastes or curiosities of another.

So why not have a blog that does the same? A communal place to write about film, to broaden perspective, to write about whatever the hell you want. Let's make this our place for writing about movies.

Contact me via comment to this post, or by IM, Twitter, or email (not hard to find if you ask enough poker bloggers) if you want to join up. Send me a letter if you have my address. Call my cell if you know the number. If you are psychic, then call me at . . . . [sending sending sending]

Here are the qualifications to contribute to FilmChaw.

You have to like movies in some way, and think that you might someday, maybe, want to write a couple sentences about them. And that's it.

You don't have to write about a specific type of movie. You won't be given an assignment. You don't have to write every week, or every month, or even ever. I mean it. I'll keep you on as a contributor if you haven't once posted in five years (assuming that blogs still exist in 2014 and we aren't just fluttering fleets directly to one another's inner eyelids using our new iHeads from Apple. What? You don't have a Flutter account? What are you doing? You're not still on Twitter), are you!?).

Hmm, what else can I do to un-limit this thing. Oh, here we go. You don't have to write movie reviews. Good, right? You have a scene you want to write about or just show? Do it. You want to write about an actor? You have my blessing, which you don't need. Or just write about a genre, or a director, or . . . I don't care. Television, books, comics, theater. OK, you get the idea.

So far it is me and (soon I think) Riggstad and Astin, as well as my buddy Hambone. This time tomorrow, it can be you!

And to be clear, this is not MY project, it's OUR project. If you post often and regularly, I'll make you co-administrator. Keys to the kingdom, baby. By ourselves any one of us could make a sad and neglected blog that nobody knows about or reads. Together we could make something wonderful and fun. I'll take door number 2.

Oh, and I think I will probably have a couple requests for how you situate your post tags once I figure out how that works, so that the reviews are easily indexed. But even if you don't I won't fuss.

Got it?

Cool. Pass the popcorn.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Hi

I'll try and keep this short. That might be out of character for me.

If you're reading this today, you're probably already fairly familiar with my ramblings from my blog, which has included the occasional bit of movie talk. The esteemed founder of this speck of the Internet, one Julius_Goat, asked me to contribute to this revitalization, and I decided that the commitment level (zero) was right up my alley.

While the first real thing I post here will likely be about some Criterion DVD (debating between The Third Man, Time Bandits, and The Hidden Fortress at the moment), my tastes tend to cover a pretty wide swath.

I love me the blockbusters, Oscar winners, and the like, and will probably cover my fair share of those. But I'm also a festival lover. Toronto's got its fair share of film fests, with the Toronto International Film Festival starting up in a few weeks, and me with my 10 tickets waiting to be given films. My M.O. for TIFF has traditionally been to see the strange Midnight Madness films, and the indies, foreign films, and documentaries that would otherwise be hard to find. Mix that with my absolute love of so-bad-they're-good fromage, and you should get a pretty diverse, and sometimes head-scratching range of movies, scenes, characters, and rants from me.

I hope you enjoy them.

Great Movie Scenes 009: Love and Death

That's right, the Chaw lives again. Now with 100% more fellow Criterion-junkie Astin.

Anyway, here's one of my favorite Woody Allen scenes, in the other movie that Dianne Keaton totally owns.