Heroes of the East

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    Brian T

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    Re: Now watching...

    Post  Brian T on Tue Jul 10, 2012 12:45 pm

    A few new views. Been bogged down the last few days with a couple of freelance projects, but squeezing in movies whenever possible to get both the library list and my own stacks whittled down:

    EL NORTE (1983) 8/10
    UGETSU (1953) 9/10
    MEAN STREETS (1973) 9/10

    LAND OF THE MINOTAUR (1976) 3/10
    THE CRATER LAKE MONSTER (1977) 4/10
    These two are from one of Mill Creek's cheapo multi-packs of old Crown International pictures, which I can never seem to resist buying no matter how many duplicate movies they contain. Of the 12 in the set, these are two of only three I haven't seen previously.

    Finishing tonight: SENSO

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    Masterofoneinchpunch

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    Re: Now watching...

    Post  Masterofoneinchpunch on Tue Jul 10, 2012 12:47 pm

    Brian T wrote:A few new views. Been bogged down the last few days with a couple of freelance projects, but squeezing in movies whenever possible to get both the library list and my own stacks whittled down:

    EL NORTE (1983) 8/10
    UGETSU (1953) 9/10
    MEAN STREETS (1973) 9/10
    ...Finishing tonight: SENSO


    I Ugetsu or Mean Streets a first time watch? I love both films (I like Senso as well).

    Don't forget about my overly long Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter review Very Happy
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    Brian T

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    Re: Now watching...

    Post  Brian T on Tue Jul 10, 2012 12:59 pm

    Masterofoneinchpunch wrote:Is Ugetsu or Mean Streets a first time watch? I love both films (I like Senso as well).

    Don't forget about my overly long Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter review Very Happy


    All first timers. In fact, every film I list in this thread is either a first time view (probably 98% of them) or a revisitation of a movie I saw only partially on TV many years ago, or when I was too young to appreciate it, or both.

    Already read the ABE LINCOLN review. Considering the film's poor turn at the boxoffice, your opening vision of midnight madness-style screenings might have legs some day. I fear you may need therapy to help you cope with those Fandango commercials, though. Wink


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    Brian T

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    Re: Now watching...

    Post  Brian T on Mon Jul 16, 2012 2:53 pm

    More watches:

    SENSO (1954) 8/10
    Not something I'd revisit, but a strong film nonetheless, although without Criterion's informative supplements I might have ranked it lower.
    A KING IN NEW YORK (1957) 6/10
    In his first film post-exile, Chaplin gets on his soapbox, but has his ideology—a sensible response to the HUAC activities of the era, mind you—issue forth in heavy doses from the mouth of his real-life son, a transparent and ham-fisted way of getting his message across.
    FIRES ON THE PLAIN (1959) 9/10
    An interesting contrast to Ichikawa's THE BURMESE HARP, which presented a troublingly sanitized view of Japanese war-time life in occupied countries. FIRES doesn't necessarily raise any issues that it needs to whitewash, but what it does portray is harrowing and bleak and therefore far more effective than the earlier picture as an anti-war treatise.
    SAXONDALE: THE COMPLETE SERIES 8/10

    Forbidden Hollywood Vol. 1
    BABY FACE (1933) 7/10
    RED HEADED WOMAN (1932) 5/10
    WATERLOO BRIDGE (1931) 8/10
    Hadn't consiously seen many "taboo" pre-code Hollywood studio movies before getting this set from the library, at least not anything really stood out. I'd seen (and now own) plenty of poverty row exploitation fare from the era, but the makers of those were never bound by any moral edicts either before OR after the creation of the Hayes office, so seeing these three pictures was quite an eye-opener, and they could only make me wonder what mainstream movies might have been like had the moral watchdogs and religious zealots just minded their own business. WATERLOO BRIDGE, about a doomed WWI-era romance between showgirl-turned-prostitute Mae Clarke and callow soldier Douglass Montgomery is probably the best quality movie in the set, and leading man Montgomery's naturalistic acting style feels at least a couple of decades ahead of the era, to a degree that you wonder how he might have fared had he come on the scene in the late 40's or 50's, but it's BABY FACE that really pulls no punches, especially in the fantastically-preserved pre-release cut included in the set (the release version is there as well, with jarring cuts and ridiculous alterations self-imposed by Warner before the censors even saw the film). Barbara Stanwyck's rise up the corporate ladder by way of her, uhh, natural charms is in the early running embellished by a camera-move up the side of her office building, pausing at each labelled window (Accounting Department, etc) wherein she's seducing the next short-sighted sucker who'll facilitate her quest for luxe life. RED-HEADED WOMAN is further proof — as if any were needed — that Jean Harlow was a below-average actress. She plays a conniving tramp who slinks her way into the high society of married executive Chester Morris, swiftly driving out his loyal wife then seducing an elder associate of Morris' to further her agenda. Where BABY FACE wisely provided Stanwyck with a revolving door of willing, equally manipulative men to frame her behaviour as merely survival of the fittest, the makers of RED-HEADED WOMAN make present upperclass society as reasonably desirable and respectable, which makes Harlow's childish schemer deserving of a fate far worse that the one she ultimately gets.

    Finishing tonight: THE SORROW AND THE PITY


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    Masterofoneinchpunch

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    Re: Now watching...

    Post  Masterofoneinchpunch on Tue Jul 17, 2012 10:36 am

    Brian T wrote:...Hadn't consiously seen many "taboo" pre-code Hollywood studio movies before getting this set from the library, at least not anything really stood out. I'd seen (and now own) plenty of poverty row exploitation fare from the era, but the makers of those were never bound by any moral edicts either before OR after the creation of the Hayes office, so seeing these three pictures was quite an eye-opener, and they could only make me wonder what mainstream movies might have been like had the moral watchdogs and religious zealots just minded their own business. ...

    To get an idea on how mainstream would have went check out the pre-code films in the The Cecil B. DeMille Collection (Cleopatra/ The Crusades/ Four Frightened People/ Sign of the Cross/ Union Pacific). We would have seen much more Claudette Colbert nudity. But not just that DeMille could also be quite violent. It's funny how he is thought of as a Christian director, but he would use everything as his disposal to tell a story. He had not qualms with nudity or hacking off limbs.

    The Scarlet Empress is probably the most racy of the code pictures. How it passed is anyone's guess since it has nudity and various attitudes that would not have passed a few months later.

    Also check out the silent Ben-Hur and it's use of nudity and violence.

    Pictures from before 1934 pushed boundaries that would not be seen again until (discussing Hollywood here) the mid 1960s.
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    Brian T

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    Re: Now watching...

    Post  Brian T on Tue Jul 17, 2012 1:42 pm

    Seeing your response reminds me that maybe I've seen more pre-code naughtiness than at first I'd remembered. Smile I watched SCARLETT EMPRESS a few months back and ranked it rather highly. Never thought of the original BEN NUR until you mentioned it. Owned that years ago on the MGM videocassette, and I believe it's included in the 3-disc Blu-ray edition of the '59 version I got from the U.K. I recall reading that the DeMille collection turned up at Big Lots a few years back at a real bargain price, but never managed to snag one. It's been in my Amazon "save for later" cart ever since, just in case. Smile

    What I like about the Forbidden Hollywood Collection—at least the first set; the other two are in my library queue—is the contemporary nature of stories. No historical epics here, just standard-issue potboilers set in the world the audience knew. As I mentioned, one of them—RED-HEADED WOMAN—isn't even that good, yet it reflects what I suspect were common dialogues of the day, especially in light of the divide that exploded between the haves and the have-nots during the period. (not that things are much different these days)

    Masterofoneinchpunch wrote:Pictures from before 1934 pushed boundaries that would not be seen again until (discussing Hollywood here) the mid 1960s.
    And that, of course, is where the exploiteers flourished, creating a collective body of (increasingly sleazy) work that is utterly fascinating to this day. Or, as my bank account usually prefers to call it, a sinkhole. Wink

    SORROW AND THE PITY (1969) 8/10
    DON'T BE AFRAID OF THE DARK (2010) 5/10
    This is a remake of a highly-regarded—particularly amongst those who were all of eight years old when they first saw it—1973 TV movie that I was familiar with but had never seen, but which I'm certain can't possibly contain the glaring plotholes of its descendant. The remake's a good looking film, and the gothic-y subject matter—young girl (instead of Kim Darby's petrified housewife in the original) terrorized by malevolent fairy/gnome/rodent thingies—is certainly up writer-producer Guillermo Del Toro's alley, but its torpedoed by waaaaay too many plotholes, largely in the form of moments where you ask things like "but why didn't the brutal attack on the groundskeeper result in a thorough investigation of the property and all those living on it" or "how does NO ONE notice a little severed demon arm on the floor?" after the film's big setpiece? The concept is sound, the execution assumes we're too dumb to ask questions. Sad


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    Masterofoneinchpunch

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    Re: Now watching...

    Post  Masterofoneinchpunch on Tue Jul 17, 2012 2:13 pm

    By remembering some of the past watchings you had done, I know you had watched more pre-code then you had thought Smile. Though technically The Scarlett Empress is a code film Smile. Also, if you haven't already, check out the pre-code films of the same director as that film Josef Von Sternberg (buy the Marlene Dietrich: The Glamour Collection (Morocco/ Blonde Venus/ The Devil Is a Woman/ Flame of New Orleans/ Golden Earrings) set which contains several of his films as well as the Criterion set of him with three of his silent films).

    Yes the Ben Hur silent film is on the multi-disc set. It is easily worth watching and is one of the better silent action films. The two big scenes in the ship attack scene and the chariot race were done well and of course redone in the remake.

    Brian T wrote: ... I fear you may need therapy to help you cope with those Fandango commercials, though. Wink

    I hope you saw I continued this tradition with my The Amazing Spider-man review. Are you going to see this in the theater? Are you joining my hatred of Fandango?
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    Brian T

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    Re: Now watching...

    Post  Brian T on Tue Jul 17, 2012 3:46 pm

    The library here has the Criterion von Sternberg set. I believe it's in my queue, but has a long waiting list attached to it. That Dietrich set is another one I saw super-cheap somewhere and failed to pick up. I'll keep an eye out for it. The silent BEN HUR definitely holds its own against its later incarnation.

    Masterofoneinchpunch wrote:I hope you saw I continued this tradition with my The Amazing Spider-man review. Are you going to see this in the theater? Are you joining my hatred of Fandango?
    I did notice this in the SPIDER-MAN review. You may need to skip pre-movie stuff altogether when you go to the show, because it sounds like those commercials aren't going anywhere just yet, and that includes Canada, where I've yet to see them on a theatre screen. So I'm afraid I can't share your hatred . . . Smile

    I do plan to see SPIDER-MAN 3 in a theatre, but only once it's nearly played-out, so I can avoid the crowds and snag my preferred spot in the back row high above the rabble. Laughing As good as it sounds, I'm still frustrated that they relaunched it so soon after the original trilogy. Technology hasn't advanced that much in six years. The project has that whiff of "let's keep this out of Disney's hands" that's now swirling around Fox's reported reboot of the Fantastic Four franchise. Imagine how much cooler it would be if the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe were under one roof!

    EDIT: I'm in luck! I just checked and the library has the Dietrich Glamour collection as well. The place never ceases to amaze me. The only thing better would be if I could own their entire collection myself. Laughing
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    Brian T

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    Re: Now watching...

    Post  Brian T on Tue Aug 07, 2012 1:33 pm

    More recent views, a mix of my own purchases and stuff from the library:

    BANGKOK DANGEROUS (Thailand; 1999)
    Actually saw the remake, which was awful, before the original, which is only marginally better. Adolescent (almost non-existent) screenwriting with a Wong Kar-wai visual glaze and nods to John Woo, which even in 1999 were starting to become cliche.

    WHATEVER HAPPENED TO BABY JANE (1962) 9/10
    HUSH, HUSH, SWEET CHARLOTTE (1964) 8/10
    Apparently a lot of this was shot with Joan Crawford opposite her BABY JANE co-hag Bette Davis two years earlier. She can still be seen fleetingly in one shot. Olivia DeHavilland eventually replaced her and did alright by the role, but its easy to imagine this even stronger if Crawford had've stayed in place.

    PIRANHA, PIRANHA (1972)
    Got this in a oddball public domain mainstay in a bundle of DVDs in trade for an ancient DVD player I unloaded on Kijiji. It's fairly well known that this turkey has no actual piranhas in it. There IS a scene where one character is apparently devoured by them, but we never actually see them, or even the results of their attack. The rest is a dull slog through the jungle with only William's Smith's patented simmering insanity to keep things interesting.

    LOVE STRIKES! (Japan; 2011)
    Uncommonly strong romantic comedy-drama with a psychologically, even atypically realistic male lead and a story that will resonate with male viewers as strongly as female, a rare thing in rom coms. The Japanese title, MOTEKI, is slang for a period in a man's life — typically in his late 20's or early to mid 30's — when he becomes popular with the opposite sex, sometimes unaccountably so, and the movie, like the TV show and manga it's sprung from, explores the awkward ups and downs of this as hapless web writer Mirai Moriyama, a self-loathing shlub with unhealthy but not-uncommon preconceived notions of the opposite sex gleaned largely from manga and the lyrics of pop idol lyrics, hopelessly fixates on a quirky, open-minded colleague (Masami Nagasawa, who rightfully won a top award for her work here) who's shacked up with a married man, while missing and/or deliberately ignoring signals from her lovelorn best friend (Kumiko Aso), who's a better match in many ways but whom he finds "heavy". Sounds like a typical rom com triangle, but the filmmakers score major points for looking at the less pleasant aspects of all of these characters, and romance in general — without leaving the viewer feeling downbeat.

    PAUL (2011) 8/10

    HANNA (2011) 7/10
    Way too many affectations in this action thriller from a director seemingly trying to prove he's not constrained by the artsy British costume pictures with which he's largely associated.

    MONSTERS (2010) 7/10
    Smart, naturalistic, humanistic (maybe even "alienistic"?) sci-fi debut feature from Gareth Edwards, who landed the new GODZILLA reboot for his efforts. It gets way too talky in spots, but that's generally forgivable considering Edwards' miniscule budget and catch-as-catch-can production methods, all of which amount to a very realistic portrayal of a man and a woman thrown together by circumstance on a journey from Mexico to the U.S. directly through a walled-off 'forbidden zone' populated by giant alien beings who aren't everything the government has led people to believe they are.

    ROMANCE (2004) 4/10
    Another Catherine Breillat navel-gazer. Or perhaps "crotch gazer" is more appropriate as there's a fair amount of them on display throughout, including some sorta-hardcore interludes. She explores interesting psychological nooks and crannies in her films, but the results — based on the three I've seen so far — are generally crippled under the weight of her unrealistic dialogue.

    MEAN GIRLS (2004) 8/10
    I've heard this film referenced enough times over the past decade to suspect that it's become some sort of cultural touchstone. On it's release, I considered it just another disposable teen girl rom-com (among many) and as with most such shows, I ignored it, but it turns out it was the exception to the rule about such movies being toothless and interchangeable. There's a lot to take away from this picture between the smarter-than-usual funny business. This is undoubtedly due to screenwriter and supporting actress Tina Fey, then still a regular on Saturday Night Live (many key roles are filled by her SNL castmates), as well as Rosalind Wiseman's best-selling non-fiction book 'Queen Bees and Wannabes' on which she based the screenplay. The book explored, explained and offered methods to deal with often noxious forms of aggression amongst teenaged girls, and the film is likewise unafraid to deal with them head-on, teasing out humour whenever possible, but wisely avoiding chalking everything up to "phases", the all too common (and useless) platitude employed by parents and educators. It may indeed be a phase, but in the heat of the moment for any teenager, it's world-shaking stuff, and the film acknowledges that.

    WOMEN IN LOVE (1969) 8/10

    NEVER LET ME GO (2010) 8/10

    KURONEKO (1968) 8/10

    YELLOW SUBMARINE (1968) 9/10

    OLYMPIA PART 1: FESTIVAL OF THE NATIONS (1938) 8/10
    OLYMPIA PART 2: FESTIVAL OF BEAUTY (1938) 9/10
    YOUTH OF THE WORLD (1936) 5/10

    SEEKING JUSTICE (2011) 7/10
    This was an OK little thriller, made all the better because Nicolas Cage acted in "normal" mode. Such a rare sight . . .

    SNATCH. (1998) 8/10

    HORROR HIGH (1974) 5/10
    SNOWBEAST (1977) 4/10
    KONG ISLAND (1968) 2/10
    All of these were part of a Mill Creek B-movie multipack I needed to finish. Hardly worth the effort, but still . . .

    SURF'S UP (2007) 7/10
    PLANET 51 (2009) 7/10
    OPEN SEASON (2006) 7/10
    As good as these are, when you watch too many of them in a row like this, you REALLY start to wish American animation would just grow the hell up! Or at least move away from talking animals for a few years. When you think what they've been doing in Japan for decades . . .

    INCENDIES (Canada; 2010) 9/10

    RUBBER (2010) 7/10

    MARTHA MARCY MAY MARLENE (2011) 8/10

    ALIEN VS. NINJA (2010) 5/10

    IN TIME (2011) 7/10
    Definitely of a kind with Andrew Niccol's other sci-fi pictures. Maybe one of these days his formula will produce a hit, but not sure how many tries that might take . . .

    U-TURN (1997) 7/10

    LANDMARKS OF EARLY FILM VOL. 2: THE MAGIC OF MELIES
    The library only has this volume. Fascinating stuff. Also includes a short documentary called GEORGES MELIES: CINEMA MAGICIAN from 1978 that barely scratches the surface of the man's life.

    CHINA RISES (2006) 9/10
    Four-part TV documentary series looking at different, predictably troubling aspects China's meteoric "opening up" and the effects it has had on the country's people and its resources. Not surprisingly, little has actually changed since this was made.
    THE GREAT WALL OF CHINA (2007) 7/10
    Rote documentary with dramatic storytelling devices — acted in English — about the construction of the Great Wall of China, a bonus feature on the CHINA RISES set. Notable mainly for the casting of Hong Kong funnyman Richard Ng as the emperor. He really should've pursued a sideline in English productions during his Hong Kong heydey considering his English in no way hobbles his performance the way it sometimes does for mother Hong Kong performers.



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    Masterofoneinchpunch

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    Re: Now watching...

    Post  Masterofoneinchpunch on Tue Sep 11, 2012 9:43 am

    some comments on:

    Brave (2012: Mark Andrews, Brenda Chapman) ***/****

    First the first time ever I got the theater to myself. With school back in session, it is quite noticeable that the crowds are thinning and a "kids film" that has already been in the theater for a few months was bound to be empty. What a weird, but pleasant, feeling it is. It is like having your own private screening where you can sit anywhere, move around and flatulate with impunity.

    Starting off the film was a short named La Luna which was pleasant enough. Inventive like most of Pixar's shorts, though a bit slight because of the quick running time.

    The trailer makes Brave feel like a different film then it is. The scenes shown deal with the first part of the film but make no mention of the main arc of the plot which transforms the film into more standard Disney fare. Much has been made that this is the first feminine lead in a Pixar film and Kelly MacDonald does well as Merida. Mother and daughter relationships are also a new and welcome territory but they could have done better than the Shaggy Dog inspired plot. Though I am glad they did not do a Freaky Friday switch.

    I liked the film though. The animation of the Scottish countryside is breathtakingly beautiful. Not that it is unexpected with Pixar whose CGI visuals are normally the most impressive of the American animated films. Billy Connoly's voice (who was born in Scotland) is always a joy to hear (he is the best thing about Open Season 2) and his performance as Fergus is a highlight. I also liked a lot of the secondary characters from the three devil-children to the three sons vying for her hand in marriage (characters though not fully formed functioning humans) to their three dads.

    But this is at the lower end of Pixar releases with Cars being my least favorite (I liked Cars 2 better than the first). It just was not innovative or in depth in plot nor in characters. Imagine the amount of Scottish folklore and legend that could have been used besides just the will-o’-the-wisp.

    Brave reminds me too much of the overly used computer acronym WYSIWYG. But what you see is pretty good even if it does not overly inspire me to write about it. Pixar even has fantastic looking end credits. Yes, there is an extra after the end credits.
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    Masterofoneinchpunch

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    Re: Now watching...

    Post  Masterofoneinchpunch on Thu Oct 04, 2012 11:43 am

    It is that time of the year again to concentrate on horror, suspense, exploitation, lawyer and other movies that deal with the darker side of life.

    Lon Chaney Jr.: The Son of a Thousand Faces (1995: Kevin Burns)

    This 45-minute documentary is from Arts and Entertainment's (A&E) long running serious Biography. While it is impossible to not mention Creighton (aka Lon Jr.) Chaney's dad in any proper biography, there is too much just on his dad. While the estimated ten minutes dedicated to the dad would have been appropriate for a 90 minute film, it is too much here. Lon Jr. cannot even overcome the shadows of his own dad in a documentary about him.

    His life began when he was born prematurely and not breathing. It is said that his dad took him from the water, took him to a frozen lack, broke through and dunked him in to revive him. I personally am a little wary of this story, but I have not found any accounts that go against this. It is well known that his dad wanted him to be anything but an actor and that his acting career really started after his dad's death. He first achieved some fame with his performance as Lennie Small in Of Mice and Men after several years of struggling. The Wolf Man is talked about being his big (typecasting) break, and much of the Universal horror he had worked on is mentioned but a decent amount of his supporting features are shown like High Noon.

    I do wonder what led him to his alcoholism as the documentary treads this until later in the documentary such as when he appeared drunk in the live television version of Frankenstein for Tales of Tomorrow where snippets of this are shown of him mock-destroying furniture when he was supposed to actually destroy them. He had though it still was a dress rehearsal. There is a surprising amount of footage on The Alligator People (which I had not seen until a few days ago), but this is probably because they got a very nice interview from Beverly Garland who discussed working with him on that film.

    If you are fans of Universal Hollywood horror and/or Lon Chaney, then I recommend it. There is not too much new material, much controversy surrounding Chaney is left out such as his run-ins with actors and one annoying issue because of the documentaries age is that the scenes of the films shown are from mediocre copies (possibly public domain for the older movies). A documentary that would have been filmed in a few years later would have access to restored films and would look a lot more polished that what is shown here.

    It is a little hard to find on IMDB as the search query "Son of a Thousand Faces" does not list the film. Here is the link. I am the tenth voter so it does not appear to have been seen that much. The information on the film there is also severely lacking in detail such as missing who is in the documentary.

    You can find this biography on the OOP Heroes of Horror R1 Image release. If you can find this, pick it up. It is a great biography set. The used price on Amazon is affordable, but the new price at 44 dollars is too high. Last year I had watched Boris Karloff: The Gentle Monster from the same Heroes of Horror set. A whole year has passed by -- damn.


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    Masterofoneinchpunch

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    Re: Now watching...

    Post  Masterofoneinchpunch on Fri Oct 05, 2012 11:24 am

    "I'll kill you Alligator Man! Just like I'd kill any four-legged gator! " -- Manon*

    The Alligator People (1959: Roy Del Ruth) **/****

    Seeing this mentioned in the documentary Lon Chaney Jr.: The Son of a Thousand Faces with Chaney in a supporting role and the fact that I already owned it I thought it would segue nice into my second horror themed watch for the month. What better way to start then with the humans turned into creatures theme?

    I have seen so many good films from Roy Del Ruth in so many different genres from Lady Killer, On The Avenue to It Happened on Fifth Avenue. I would consider him and many of his directed films to be underrated. If you read IMDB's mini-biography you will get a different picture though. It almost reads as a hit piece. This low budget film is at the tail-end of his career though and is the worst film I have seen directed by Ruth.

    Joyce Webster (Beverly Garland) is the wife of a successful man Paul Webster (Richard Crane) who just happens to leave her soon after they get married when he receives a mysterious message. She dedicates her life to finding him and happens upon an address in the Bayou of Louisiana which might possibly be the residence of his mother. The elderly woman denies any connection, but Joyce has to spend the night since it is getting late. But it appears that the woman is hiding something. What could the woman be hiding? Yes we know what she is hiding.

    It is a passable sci-fi and horror mix and it does well in not making monsters of the humans who often have compassionate motives. But it is rather bland in pacing and acting with the exception of Lon Chaney who does well with his ability to be menacing. The sets and make-up are decidedly low-budget. Is that Gorn I see?

    You might recognize some of the plot elements in the recent The Amazing Spider-man with the idea of alligator/lizard DNA used to help victims recover but with unfortunately bad results. The film does make you want to listen to Jerry Reed's Amos Moses or Primus's version though.

    I have this in the Classic Quad Set 16 which also has The Cabinet of Caligari (remake), The Fly, and House of the Damned. I love these 20th Century Fox sets as they are the same DVDs that were released in single editions. For R1 releases The Alligator People was also released as a single and as part of a three-set with Lake Placid and Swamp Thing.

    * You might wonder why the Webster's have kept him on around the property with his obvious gator hate when there are two legend monsters roaming around including the son. They do mention this in the film, but it still seems pretty silly since he is seen early firing a pistol at gators blithering drunk.
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    Masterofoneinchpunch

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    Re: Now watching...

    Post  Masterofoneinchpunch on Tue Oct 09, 2012 9:06 am

    Brian, I can't remember if you saw this one or not:

    Koma (2004: Law Chi-leung: Hong Kong )

    For my third pick of the month I thought I would choose a psychological suspense-thriller film from Hong Kong that has horror elements in it. It takes an urban legend of kidney thieves and black market organs (that theme seems to me prevalent in South Korean movies though this is the only Hong Kong film that I can think of that I have seen with this subject matter), and mixes in a truly bizarre love triangle.

    There is a rash of kidney thievery in Hong Kong that has the populace on edge. Fung Chi-ching (Angelica Lee: The Eye) just happens upon one during a wedding reception. A possible suspect Suen Ling (Karena Lam who was nominated for a HK Film Award for this role) had an affair with her boyfriend Dr. Raymond Tsui Wai (Andy Hui) and because of jealousy is threatening her to take her kidney. Is she really the behind the crimes or is she just mentally unbalanced because of taking care of her sick mother and in love with a doctor that does not love her back? But what is Fung hiding? Honestly there are several plot points that could be considered spoilers which is why I am sparse on the detail.

    I hate it when you are enthralled with a film and its unpredictability only to be let down by too many illogical choices and an inane ending. About half way through you are thinking this could be an unjustly unmentioned and underrated movie. It teases you with possibilities and then suffocates itself with the path it takes. This film has a “twist” finale but it had me groaning more than marveling much like my feelings of the ending of Looper. It leads you to know part of the answer of the ending, but the way it was accomplished was nonsensical. There are also a couple of scenes that are perfectly fine by themselves, but hurt the cohesion of the movie. The two lead actresses are quite good in their performances with nuance and an ever changing relationship throughout. But they deserved a better script.

    I had seen Law's previous two films: Double Tap and Inner Senses which both starred the late Leslie Cheung. If you had seen either you get a feeling of his direction and you do wonder how much Alfred Hitchcock has influenced him. He sometimes uses overly obvious sounds as the musical clues undermine the suspense or put an overemphatic clash when something less intense could have been used. With these three films you see a theme of psychological breakdowns for the protagonists, but I would suggest watching the other two over this movie.

    If you are interested, the R1/NTSC Tartan Asian Extreme release is still easily available. It comes with the director's commentary and a making-of. I have not had the time to peruse either though.
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    Masterofoneinchpunch

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    Re: Now watching...

    Post  Masterofoneinchpunch on Tue Oct 09, 2012 9:06 am

    “You've got the Shinning.”

    I Bury the Living (1958: Albert Band) ***/****

    I could easily spend the rest of the month just working on Midnite Movie releases from MGM that I have not seen. There sure are a lot them. They are a mixed bag of quality, but there is some great horror (and sci-fi and others) among them. I would put this in the upper middle of the ones I have seen. Not as good as the classic Roger Corman Poe series, but better than the later 1970s Vincent Price films.

    For the forth Halloween pick of the month I randomly picked this because it looked interesting and since I knew nothing about the movie going into it. The covers I have seen have it appear to be some monster film or some orchestrated madman (the kind you would expect Vincent Price to play) who has live people buried. Albert Band’s second directed film is an effective psychological horror movie, but the title is a little misleading and the DVD covers are deceptive.

    Robert Kraft (Richard Boone: Hombre which I heartily recommend as well) gets elected, against his will, as the director of the local cemetery. The Scottish custodian (a precursor to Groundskeeper Willie; its funny that in one episode of The Simpsons Willie has the following quote: “I'm too superstitious to take the one at the cemetery.”) has an intricate detail of the whole cemetery detailing each plot and who owns it (shown by a white pin) and who is deceased (shown by a black pin). Kraft accidentally puts in two black pins for a couple who recently bought two plots and both end up dead quicker than a greased Scotsman. Kraft is told and he thinks it himself that it is a horrible coincidence. He tries it again with the same results. What is causing these deaths or is it his special mental power? Could the board be cursed or are the pins forged from Lucifer himself?

    Boone’s performance is quite good in an introspective and calmly (especially early on) delivered manner. To see him unravel slowly as his grip with reality is loosened keeps the suspense tight until the final twist. The budget is constrained but with the exception of the Scotsman's beard it does not affect the film. A fun film as long as you are not expecting zombies or blouse wearing poodle walkers.

    I have read some complaints on the ending, but I had a good idea what was behind it all from the beginning of the film. There is a big clue early on, though the script (through happenstance and character reactions) does its best to lead you away from that.
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    Masterofoneinchpunch

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    Re: Now watching...

    Post  Masterofoneinchpunch on Tue Oct 23, 2012 11:13 am

    Searching for Sugar Man (2012: Milik Bendjelloul) ***½/****

    You ever end up watching a film by happenstance? I had two movies I wanted to watch around the same time this and Hotel Transylvania. I was going to let the cost determine which one I went to. What I mean by this is that I go during matinee during the week and most films cost 5 dollars. However, some by Sony do not. I noticed this was 7.50 and I was in a so-so mood so I though I will go watch Hotel Transylvania instead. Of course it also ended up being 7.50 as its name was on the exception list but was not easily readable. So I go to the theater slightly perturbed. I enter and after taking the serpentine labyrinth to get to the seats I notice that the place is packed. Isn't this a school day? So as I look around for a decent seat, literally none are to be found. Forget this; I am going to the documentary. It was a wise decision. Not only did I see an enthralling documentary, I got the whole theater to myself. I love that feeling.

    Next time I think I will watch Hotel Transylvania but pay for Searching for Sugar Man.

    At first I felt a bit of trepidation by my choice. I have seen enough bad documentaries before, but it is rare for this theater to get one and I had never seen a documentary in the cinema. I knew Ebert had given it a perfect score, and I knew a vague outline of the story but I was surprised how soon I was drawn into the story.

    The story of a singer who does not who disappears from the scene after a failed record or two is not a new one. But add in a story about one whose records are sold in the hundreds of thousands in South Africa whom the populace thinks has killed himself. His songs become identified with the anti-apartheid movement and generations of South Africans identify with his music. Sixto Rodriquez is as big as Elvis there and is constantly compared to Bob Dylan (this happens too much, his singing reminds me more of Donovan). But is he even alive and if so what has happened to him? What is revealed is surprising, sometimes a bit hard to believe, but it always had me interested in what was going to happen next.

    I do hope I have talked some of you into watching this film. I found this a fascinating film and along with Jiro Dreams of Sushi (another film I hope you get to see) one of the top documentaries I have seen this year.

    (NOTE, some spoilers below)

    One fact that some felt disingenuous was that Rodriquez was not completely unknown to the world from the early 1970s until his rediscovery and tour of South Africa in the late 1990s. He did tour Australia in 1979 and 1981 and releases a region-specific like album there. Since South Africa was a hermetic environment they would not have known that, at least not until the World Wide Web age. While that fact does make the story less fantastic, its addition would not have helped the movie since the viewpoint is a South African one.

    But one question remains is: what happened to the South African royalties? Sixto did not get them. The interview with Clarence Avant sure makes it sound like he had something to do with it. Apparently he still owns the rights to the South African sales.

    NYTimes: A Real-Life Fairy Tale, Long in the Making and Set to Old Tunes
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    Masterofoneinchpunch

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    Re: Now watching...

    Post  Masterofoneinchpunch on Tue Oct 23, 2012 11:22 am

    “There are three rules that I live by: never get less than twelve hours sleep; never play cards with a guy who has the same first name as a city; and never get involved with a woman with a tattoo of a dagger on her body. Now you stick to that, and everything else is cream cheese.” -- Coach Finstock

    Teen Wolf (1985: Rod Daniel) **/****

    For the fifth Halloween pick of this I picked another man into monster flick, but this time with “comedy.” I had wanted to watch this when it came out, but never got around to it. I should be careful wanting to see movies that I had not seen when I was younger. I am sure Gymkata is good.

    There really is not any resemblance of a good film here. At a certain point I stopped nitpicking the movie like “why are the most mean and flagrant fouls during the basketball game never result in a technical”, “that’s the fattest basketball player I have seen since Mel Turpin” (as I Google fat basketball players I get an image from this film) and then looked for something good like “you know that basketball scenes are not the worst I have seen.” Then I started looking for any quotable lines and pretty much all the best ones come from Coach Finstock (Jay Tarses) whose “does not care” attitude is the funniest thing about the film.

    Michael J. Fox looks like an older teenager; though he was 23-24 when the film was being made. I wonder how much and how long they spent on his makeup -- Lon Chaney Jr. looks so much better in The Wolf Man. His character follows the very familiar arc of a loser who finds popularity, already has a girl who likes him but he likes a more popular girl (as usual the nerdy girl is better looking than the popular one), only to find him become an arrogant hairy bastard and well you know the ending.

    It is rather harmless, except for those who have tried to imitate the van surfing scenes. Those have to be the most understanding townsfolk ever. You think his dad would have worried about pitchforks and angry neighbors or at least the government taking his kid and trying to create super wolf-man soldiers, but nothing like that is ever brought up. This is the Ozzie and Harriet of wolf-man films with the exceptions of the drugs, alcohol and wolf-man sex.

    I find it hard to believe they made a sequel of this. I have not seen it yet, I know it tanked at the box office and the reviews are pretty horrific, but I do own it so I might get to it this month. I have seen the duo release of this and the sequel on DVD at many places for five dollars. For you Michael J. Fox fans like myself this is a must buy.

    some barmy comments on …

    Cry of the Banshee (1970: Gordon Hessler) **/****

    For the sixth Halloween pick of the month I decided to go for a Vincent Price film I had not seen before. Nothing says October quite like Vincent Price or a horror film with an Edgar Allen Poe title that has nothing to do with the short story.

    Unfortunately this month I have been watching a lot of films I do not ever want to see again. This is rarely the case when Vincent Price is in the movie. However, this is an exception. Vincent is good, rarely is he not as his professionalism reminds me of Henry Rollins in that no matter how small the job he performs to his best. But you compare this to the Poe cycle with Roger Corman and it makes you appreciate Corman much more. Hessler at this point in his career is still new to directing and it shows in almost every facet of the production.

    Almost every female character with a speaking role is guaranteed to have her shirt torn off. Apparently that happened a lot in the olden days, especially in England.

    The rural settings are nice. The budget was quite low, too low for sets, but the English countryside and manors look appropriate. Too bad they did not put a little extra time into the “wolf” makeup. Hessler tries to cover it up by specially planted shadows and never having the camera too long on the “wolf.” The extras remind me of college students from an acting class. I am not looking forward to his other directed movies, heck I do not even want to spend too much time writing about this movie.

    The beginning title sequence is done by Criterion alumni and Monty Python member Terry Gilliam and is probably (besides Vincent Price) the best part of the film.

    Now if you get the dual DVD Midnite Movies release it comes with an extra interview with the director (worth watching if you see the film) and another film from him named Murders of the Rue Morgue. This DVD is OOP with new copies starting over 40 dollars on Amazon.

    The Two Faces of Dr. Jekyll (1960: Terence Fisher)

    For the seventh personal Halloween pick of the month I decided on a Hammer horror film. What is October without at least one Hammer horror film watched? This is often considered a middling Hammer film, but when compared to the previous horror film I saw in Cry of the Banshee this is a major improvement in almost all areas. I love the Bernard Robinson’s set design and Jack Asher’s cinematography.

    Paul Massie’s Dr. Jekyll voice in its use reminds me of Christian Bale’s Batman voice in that sometimes it is irritating. The rest of his performance is good though even if Jekyll’s facial hair is not. I like the fact that his Mr. Hyde is a younger and better looking version of himself. Hyde is the superlative “higher man” (or is he the Id without the Superego?) to Jekyll’s chronic introvert. He is the person Jekyll thinks he wants to be. But change comes with a price.

    The general arc of the story will be familiar to all who have seen or read this story. I was not as thrilled with his wife Kitty whose plot intersections did not interest me as much as his interactions with Paul Allen (Christopher Lee). Lee is absolutely delightful with the panache and pathetic nature of the character as a mentor to the rising reprobate who will soon outdo his teacher. IMDB states that this is one of Lee’s favorite roles, but I currently cannot find the source for that. The scenes with Lee and Massie are outstanding.

    Look quickly for Oliver Reed.

    You can find this in a nice R1 four-movie set called Icons of Horror Collection: Hammer Films with The Curse of the Mummy's Tomb, Scream of Fear and The Gorgon.
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    Brian T

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    Re: Now watching...

    Post  Brian T on Wed Oct 24, 2012 4:04 pm

    Regarding CRY OF THE BANSHEE, you mention the interviews on the Midnight Movies double feature, but the way its worded makes me think you watched a different release that might not have any extras on it? I have the double feature, but was curious if the film had been reissued. Not that I'd buy it again, since as you say, it was fairly average (as were a lot of the Hessler films I've seen. You can get two more of his — The Oblong Box and Scream and Scream Again — in another Midnight Movies double feature, actually, and thankfully the prices for new copies on Amazon are much more reasonable.

    Noticed your note to me in the KOMA review a while back, actually, but haven't made time to properly post here until now. I do have it, but like so many other HK movies, it's on the backburner until I'm closer to being finished with the Toronto Library edumacation. Gettin' closer, though . . .

    In fact, I put together another 'recently-viewed' list a few days ago. Just adding some thoughts to it as my heavy work schedules permits . . .

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    Masterofoneinchpunch

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    Re: Now watching...

    Post  Masterofoneinchpunch on Thu Oct 25, 2012 10:36 am

    Brian T wrote:Regarding CRY OF THE BANSHEE, you mention the interviews on the Midnight Movies double feature, but the way its worded makes me think you watched a different release that might not have any extras on it? I have the double feature, but was curious if the film had been reissued. Not that I'd buy it again, since as you say, it was fairly average (as were a lot of the Hessler films I've seen. You can get two more of his — The Oblong Box and Scream and Scream Again — in another Midnight Movies double feature, actually, and thankfully the prices for new copies on Amazon are much more reasonable.
    ...

    For R1 there has only been one release of Cry of the Banshee and that is with the double feature. I have those two (Oblong Box and Scream and Scream Again, but I have yet to watch them. I'm so-so on the Hessler films so I will take a while to finish what I own. I had more fun with the extra of Cry of the Banshee then the actual film.

    I got behind on writing about my Halloween watches this year, but I've posted what I have done so far. Searching for Sugar Man was a recent watch (last Thursday).

    Looking forward to your next installment of recently watched.

    While I have been doing good on horror this month (not good horror unfortunately), I've only watched a few Asian films:

    Koma (2004: Law Chi-leung) Hong Kong As I wrote above.
    Flying Swords at Dragon Gate (2011: Tsui Hark) China ***/****
    Ju-rei: The Uncanny (2004: Koji Shiraishi) Japan (wait this is horror Very Happy)

    I'll fit in another Asian horror film before the month is out though. This has been the weakest month for Asian films for myself this year.

    Here's my October watch list so-far:

    October 2012
    In The Navy (1941: Arthur Lubin)
    The Alligator People (1959: Roy Del Ruth)
    Koma (2004: Law Chi-leung) Hong Kong
    I Bury the Living (1958: Albert Band)
    Looper (2012: Rian Johnson) ***/****
    Music and Lyrics (2007: Marc Lawrence)
    Saps at Sea (1940: Gordon Douglas)
    Flying Swords at Dragon Gate (2011: Tsui Hark) China ***/**** 2012 US Release
    Teen Wolf (1985: Rod Daniel)
    The Manxman (1929: Alfred Hitchcock) Silent
    Lethal Weapon 2 (1989: Richard Donner)
    Cry of the Banshee (1970: Gordon Hessler)
    The Lorax (2012: Chris Renaud, Kyle Balda) ***/****
    The Two Faces of Dr. Jekyll (1960: Terence Fisher)
    The Return of Dracula (1958: Paul Landres)
    Taken 2 (2012: Oliver Megaton) ***/****
    Teen Wolf 2 (1987: Christopher Leitch)
    Sabrina (1995: Sydney Pollack)
    The Butterfly Effect (2004: Eric Bress, J. Mackye Gruber)
    Gulliver’s Travels (2010: Rob Letterman) **½/****
    The Avengers (2012: Joss Whedon) ***½/****
    Stone Cold (2005: Robert Harmon) TV
    The Frighteners (1996: Peter Jackson)
    Ju-rei: The Uncanny (2004: Koji Shiraishi) Japan
    Searching for Sugar Man (2012: Milik Bendjelloul) ***½/****
    Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted (2012: Eric Darnell, Tom McGrath, Conrad Vernon) **½/****
    The Bride Wore Black (1968: Francois Truffaut) France
    Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit (1993: Bill Duke)
    Scanners (1981: David Cronenberg)
    Hold That Ghost (1941: Arthur Lubin)
    2016: Obama’s America (2012: Dinesh D’Souza, John Sullivan) ***/****
    The Mummy (1932: Karl Freund)
    Mad Love (1935: Karl Freund)
    Never Been Kissed (1999: Raja Gosnell)
    The Hands of Orlac (1924: Robert Wiene) Silent Germany
    The Fog (1980: John Carpenter)
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    Brian T

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    Re: Now watching...

    Post  Brian T on Mon Nov 12, 2012 2:25 pm

    Been a while, but here's the trouble I've been up to, for those still reading along at home Laughing Crossed a lot of long-simmering horror movies off my list in October (mostly thanks to super-cheap DVDs in the U.S.) plus the usual mountains of stuff from the library here. Comments are patchy as always, as these aren't really the movies I want to review anyways. Gotta save that for the Hong Kong stuff that I'm still loading up on. Smile

    THE ASCENT (1977) 10/10
    WINGS (1966) 9/10
    Two uncommonly powerful pictures from Russia's Larisa Shepitko, courtesy of Criterion's Eclipse collection. Both have me reassessing what little I know about Russian cinema during that era (too much of it informed by the more fiery propaganda pictures that have found their way to the west, and which only serve to reinforce stereotypes about how much they hated us -- or were taught to hate us -- during the cold war. THE ASCENT was her final film (she died while prepping her followup, which was ultimately completed by her filmmaker husband), and it probably deserved to be given a more in-depth treatment via the main Criterion line, but whatever. I suppose it's obscurity in both Russia and the West for so many years means there isn't very much ancillary material lying in wait out there.

    AU HASARD BALTHAZAR (1966) 8/10
    PICKPOCKET (1959) 8/10
    My first two Robert Bresson films. Now I get the Ozu connection Donald Richie has often made, though I still prefer Ozu. While I understand Bresson's penchant for stopping all pretense and theatricality from his performers, it grows wearisome after a while (though I still rate them fairly highly). Both of these would be near-perfect films, to these eyes, if he'd allowed his actors to at least bring a LITTLE something to the audience, instead of the other way around, but I suppose that's his claim to fame. Not sure I'll rush to see his other pictures (the library here has a few of them), but apparently a couple of others are worth seeing.

    CAPRICIOUS SUMMER (1968) 7/10
    CLOSELY WATCHED TRAINS (1966) 8/10

    THE FURIES (1950) 9/10
    Psychologically powerful western that presaged a new movement in the genre that caught wind right through the next decade. The allusions to incest and the scissors scene must have been real eye openers to audiences of the day. They still raise eyebrows even today.

    SECRET ORIGIN: THE STORY OF DC COMICS (2010) 8/10

    THE ROLLING STONES ROCK AND ROLL CIRCUS (1968/1996) 8/10

    ORGASM INC. (2009) 8/10
    Surprisingly scathing documentary focused squarely (and humorously) on women's sexual "dysfunction" (or FSD, as it's commonly labeled), which proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that the whole concept — and undoubtely other anxiety "disorders" assigned to otherwise normal women in recent years — was a wholesale creation of Big Pharma® companies lent further credence in the media by their high-profile, highly-remunerated mouthpieces (like Dr. Laura Berman). Director Elizabeth Canner makes it blazingly clear that the pharmaceutical companies rake in billions creating miracle treatments for "diseases" that don't really exist, in women who are completely normal. After watching the doc, particularly the moments where Canning uses simple graphics to weigh the abundant (and sometimes lethal) side effects of various treatments against the benefits (which are virtually always proven to be none), it actually crossed my mind that there's a kernel of a good suspense thriller or horror movie in this. Then I saw the trailer for Steven Soderbergh's upcoming thriller SIDE EFFECTS, which deals with mental illness presumably exacerbated (and not alleviated) by a controversial medication, and had to wonder if this doc might've crossed his desk at some point. It definitely won't turn you entirely against pharmaceutical manufacturers -- after all, there is plenty of good in what they peddle, and plenty of legitimate demand -- but it does expose a more problematic side of the business.

    TEEN A GO GO: A LITTLE FILM ABOUT ROCK AND ROLL HISTORY (2012) 8/10
    Low-budget documentary about the increasingly legendary Fort Worth, Texas "garage band" music scene that exploded in the 1960's in the wake of the Beatles' first appearance on the Ed Sullivan show. While a lot of these young bands were little more than clones right down to the bowl haircuts, others came close to breaching the big leagues with hooky original tunes, and nearly all of them had devoted followings. Though virtually none forged lasting careers, their sound traveled on for decades, both with artists who were able to escape Fort Worth for the coasts and with outsiders who absorbed its influence (including the Japan's 5, 6, 7, 8's), even as many of its creators quickly settled into obscurity, got day jobs, and played small, mostly local venues purely for the love of what might have been. Not a particularly well-made show -- according to an accompanying interview on the DVD, it was constructed over the course of about six years -- but an important document of a crucial rock and roll movement.

    SLAUGHTER HIGH (1986) 5/10
    Formula nerd-gets-revenge slasher movie with impressive gore effects (including some brief stop-motion). I was only familiar with this film by name, but within seconds of the first couple of actors opening their mouths, it was obvious this was a British production masquerading as a American one. Everyone tries way too hard to affect "Amurhican" accents.

    CHOPPING MALL (1986) 7/10
    A real gem from the Corman factory, and as cleverly tongue-in-cheek as only Jim Wynorski could deliver it. The standard cross-section of too-old "teenagers" spends the night in a shopping mall patrolled by new security robots zapped into "kill" mode by a lightning strike. The film's most famous kill — an very under-dressed bimbo convincingly having her head blown up -- occurs early on, setting in motion a cat-and-mouse game that sees the not-quite-resourceful-enough teens picked off one by one until only our virginal (what else!) hero and heroine remain.

    THE UNHOLY (1987) 4/10
    Dismal possession horror with boobies -- from a Philip Yordan (!) script written around the time of THE EXORCIST and its various progeny but presumably stored in a desk drawer where it probably should've remained -- wastes an above average cast, but was apparently Vestron's second highest-grossing production of their entire existence after DIRTY DANCING. Mind you, the gap separating these two was about $57 million, so that's not really saying much.

    30 DAYS OF NIGHT (2010) 7/10

    I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE (2010) 6/10

    TEETH (2007) 7/10

    LES COUSINS (1959) 8/10
    LE BEAU SERGE (1958) 7/10

    THE SWEET HEREAFTER (1997) 8/10
    This is pretty much the only Atom Egoyan movie I actually liked with very few reservations, and at the time of its release probably his most accessible, mainstream film. So at least now I know he's capable of such a thing . . . Smile One thing that kept bugging me: is that Bruce Greenwood seated behind Ian Holm's seatmate on the airplane. They seem to obscure his face just enough that you're not certain, but constantly looking back there actually detracts from the Holm's scenes on the plane.

    AMELIA (2009) 7/10

    BULLET BALLET (1998; Japan) 8/10

    THE SHOCK LABYRINTH (2009; Japan) 4/10

    THE TREE OF LIFE (2011) 7/10

    RUSHMORE (1998) 8/10
    ELECTION (1999) 9/10
    Interesting that these came up in my library queue at the same time. They're not dissimilar in certain ways.

    DRUMLINE (2002) 7/10

    Something Weird Teen Turmoil Triple Feature:
    GIRL IN TROUBLE (1963) 5/10
    A GOOD TIME WITH A BAD GIRL (1967) 3/10
    BAD GIRLS DO CRY (1965) 2/10
    Typical SW three-fer: one halfways decent movie paired with two fairly bad ones and the usual plethora of extras. These are essentially softcore erotic dramas. Typical of juvenile delinquent "scare" pictures of the era—only with more nudity—GIRL IN TROUBLE chronicles the degradation and shame that awaits a vanilla young girl (played by one "Tammy Clarke") who flees her restrictive existence—and her devoted fiancee—in Springfield (where else?) for the bright lights and somewhat taller buildings of New Orleans, where unemployment forces her to take a gig modeling unmentionables to creepy men in private sessions, which inevitably leads her to the smoky stage of a burlesque house before attempting to take her own life. GOOD TIME WITH A BAD GIRL, on the other hand, posits that essentially the same type of girl—a runaway-gone-bad (Susan Evans), only this one not rescued from debauchery by the time the credits roll—is pretty poison for the older, married business tycoon who hooks up with her during a (cough) layover in Las Vegas. Interesting to see a very young, uncredited John Beck as a swinging' cowboy who cock-blocks the square daddy-o in this one. The worst of the three is the barely-directed BAD GIRLS DO CRY, though it's a curio because its director, character actor Sid Melton, was a extremely popular television mainstay for decades, appearing on countless sitcoms, dramas and variety shows. Though bearing a 1965 copyright, it was clearly shot in the 1950's, and features va-va-voom-ish marquee stripper Misty Ayres arriving in the "big city", getting undressed in her hotel room—in a couple of undies-only segments that could easily have been excised for use in stag loops—and finding a waitressing job before getting involved with a "modeling agency" fronting a prostitution ring. The film was shot silent, with the words dubbed in (and seemingly written!) later on; shots of actors in dialogue scenes are almost always on the ones who AREN'T talking, and vice versa. Melton's involvement is probably a story unto itself, though one we'll never learn as he died in 2011, leaving this as his only released directorial effort. His only other one, apparently, was a comedy that appears to have gone unfinished in 1999.

    Something Weird Triple Feature
    THE ATOMIC BRAIN[/b] (aka MONSTROSITY; 1963) 3/10
    LOVE AFTER DEATH (aka UNNATURAL LOVE; 1968) 3/10
    THE INCREDIBLE PETRIFIED WORLD (1957) 3/10
    Not much to see here, overall, but the Argentinian LOVE AFTER DEATH is probably the most interesting item due to its plentiful, explicit-for-the-era softcore sex scenes, which are strung together by a flimsy plot strand about a guy who literally rises from the grave (where he was buried during a cataleptic fit by his doctor and his adulterous wife) to go on a sex spree that results in one failure to launch after another due to his impotence (or in one case, because he couldn't spot a drag queen!). Nice twist at the end. THE ATOMIC BRAIN, a public domain DVD staple for years, is presented by Something Weird in a markedly superior print titled MONSTROSITY. It's standard brain-transplant stuff with a little bit of almost-nudity and some reasonably well-crafted gore, as mad scientist Frank Gerstle tests animal brains in the bodies of abducted females (turning one of them into a hissing cat-woman) in the hopes of finding a process that will allow wealthy benefactor Marjorie Eaton to eventually have her geriatric brain transplanted into a much more curvaceous young body. Director Joe Mascelli—reportedly fired by producer Jack Pollexfen, who finished the picture himself—also served as cinematographer on a few other drive-in gems during this period (most notably Ray Dennis Steckler's eye-popping THE INCREDIBLY STRANGE CREATURES WHO STOPPED LIVING AND BECAME MIXED-UP ZOMBIES!!?) but claimed lasting fame with the 1968 book "The 5 C's of Cinematography", which to this day is one of the most highly-regarded texts on the subject. Finally, THE INCREDIBLE PETRIFIED WORLD, a standard-issue snoozer from the prolific Jerry Warren, sends four explorers—two he-men and a pair of catty gals—into some ancient caves deep beneath the ocean floor (but really in the Colossal Caves in Arizona) when the cable supporting their revolutionary deep sea diving bell (which is bigger on the inside than it is on the outside, where it looks like a big balloon). They soon discover they're not alone. Topside, mission financier and diving bell inventor John Carradine frets until he discovers someone ELSE has built a submersible just like his! Jerry Warren himself can be seen sitting behind Carradine on the airplane.


    LEFT BEHIND (2001) 3/10
    LEFT BEHIND II: TRIBULATION FORCE (2002) 3/10
    LEFT BEHIND: WORLD AT WAR (2005) 4/10
    Yes, I actually watched these. As the owner of several DVDs and VCDs of films from Hong Kong's The Media Evangelism organization (say what you will, but they ARE Hong Kong movies!), I figured I should at least view what passes for "Christian CInema" on my own continent should a comparison be needed when I review the Hong Kong variety. Having seen only one of the TME shows so far (2009's TEAM OF MIRACLE), and having skimmed through a few others when I first bought the discs, I got the impression that they were presented as straightforward dramas subtly imparting Christian values that could just as easily be interpreted as humanistic ones were they presented in a mainstream film. In other words, no special effects, no magically improbable "miracles" (though I may stand corrected on this one day). The LEFT BEHIND movies, on the other hand—and presumably the many other Cloud Ten Productions previewed on the tapes—want you to believe that God can make you literally invisible to gun-wielding soldiers of the Antichrist or walk away unscathed after plunging from a skyscraper onto a parked car, as long as you believe in him real hard. These films tell the choir exactly what it wants to hear, which makes their existence seem rather pointless. The third film benefits somewhat from the presence of former stunt-coordinator-turned-director Craig R. Baxley behind the camera. Baxley helmed three of my favorite guilty pleasure action movies of the late 80's and early 90's—ACTION JACKSON, I COME IN PEACE and STONE COLD—so his LEFT BEHIND entry has more explosions an car crashes than any previous entry. Which counts for something.

    HALLOWEEN: THE CURSE OF MICHAEL MYERS (1995) 4/10
    HALLOWEEN: H20 (1998) 4/10
    Found these as a double feature Blu-ray for $5.00. I'd seen H20 theatrically, and my low opinion of it didn't change (my opinions of films never do, frankly). CURSE was the only pre-Rob Zombie HALLOWEEN picture I'd never seen before, but beyond an interesting early lead performance by Paul Rudd, it's pretty ridiculous, and loaded with far too many improbable situations (in order to get victims prepped for slicing) and "surprises that make sounds" (as Roger Ebert once called them) to be remotely tense or suspenseful.

    MOTHER OF TEARS (2007) 4/10
    Missed this at TIFF Midnight Madness the year it played, and no longer regret it.

    SESSION 9 (2001) 7/10

    MONKEY SHINES (1988) 6/10

    DARKNESS (2002) 4/10
    This is part of an Echo Bridge double feature with David Twohy's far superior (if flawed) submarine thriller BELOW, which I found in the U.S. Walmart $5.00 bin. Sadly, DARKNESS, with its seeming record number of music stings and shrieky noises substituting for actual scariness, gets the 5.1 channel surround mix, while BELOW is saddled with basic 2-channel stereo. Sad

    FRONTIER[S] (2007) 6/10
    . . . or TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE en Française! Not sure if the debt is a publicly-acknowledged one, but it should be. I recalled little about this when I picked it up—in a local grocery store of all places!—other than being tempted to see it at TIFF a few years back. I actually grew tired of it during the first half because it's so obvious that the film's supposed political context -- the one thing that might have elevated it -- is purely cosmetic, but the revelation that the leader of the creepy clan was a Nazi coupled with the gooey shenanigans that follow it certainly kept me intrigued to the end.

    LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT (2009) 7/10

    LEATHERFACE: TEXAS CHAINSAW III (1990) 5/10
    The only 'SAW I hadn't yet seen, so finding it for $4.00 at a U.S. Wal-Mart prior to Halloween was good timing. Shame about the film, though. There are two versions on the disc, theatrical and unrated, but neither would earn a hard-R today. Seems like the film was "executived" to death throughout its production, then test-screened to death after that. The premise is alright, but it becomes apparent pretty quick that there will be a 'final girl' in this, mainly because there's only one possible heroine to begin with, and her methods of outwitting and outrunning "the family" are generally so effective that you wonder how they weren't outsmarted by other victims long before her arrival.

    A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET (2010) 4/10
    Apparently the most successful of Michael Bay's desecrations of classic horror films of the 70's and 80's, but that only attests to the fact that if you do something enough times, a large enough number of people might eventually attend, even if the product is virtually indistinguishable from virtually every product that preceded it. I certainly can't see how working on Bay's remakes could possibly further a director's career. No matter what skill sets they bring to the table, based on the finished products in the Platinum Dunes catalogue, they might as well all be the same guy.

    THE FIREMAN'S BALL (1967) 9/10

    GERMANY YEAR ZERO (1948) 9/10

    PAISAN (1946) 8/10

    ROME, OPEN CITY (1945) 9/10

    PROJECT NIM (2011) 8/10

    THE OTHER GUYS (2010) 6/10

    SERENITY (2005) 7/10
    It's pretty apparent that this is a faithful spinoff from a TV show that retains a million little quirks that fans probably appreciated. I never cottoned to FIREFLY, especially the dialogue, so my rating's a bit generous here because the film clearly lives up to the expectations of a die hard fanbase, and that counts for something.

    A MATTER OF LIFE AND DEATH (1946) 9/10

    AGE OF CONSENT (1969) 7/10

    THE COTTON CLUB (1984) 7/10

    THE GOOD EARTH (1937) 8/10

    HOLLYWOOD PARTY (short; 1937) 5/10
    Stunning to look at in early three-strip Technicolor, and loaded with "exorcized" Asian stereotypes very much the norm at the time. As Warner always sez theses days, "They were wrong then, etc. etc." only here they don't bother with that disclaimer before the show, possibly because the stereotypes on display weren't quite as offensive as those that disparaged blacks during the same period. Warner made a million like this: some themed (and staged) "event" at which the Who's Who of Hollywood attends, but any serious "Whos" are introduced in cutaways films walking through a portable doorway "into" the party. Then we're treated to various Asian-themed vaudeville and musical acts, plus some of the most scantily-clad dancers of the entire period. Anna May Wong shows up to model some gowns she purchased on a recent trip to China, but of course no mention is made of events that were actually occurring in China at the time, because that might make Charley Chase's Fu Manchu mustache fall off.

    THE TROLL HUNTER (Norway; 2010) 8/10

    LEON MORIN, PRIEST (1961) 8/10

    LA HAINE (1995) 8/10

    STILL WALKING (2008) 9/10 (10?)

    RED STATE (2011) 8/10
    One of Kevin Smith's best films. Plot's a bit thin, but the dialogue (especially the stuff written for Michael Parks' charismatic Christian clan leader) is fantastic, and there's a confidence and energy to Smith's closely-framed action sequences (mostly gunfights here) that I didn't think he was capable of, especially based on evidence presented in COP OUT. After this, it's almost a shame to think he's leaving filmmaking behind after his next picture.

    DRAGONBALL EVOLUTION (2009) 5/10
    Watched this flashy dreck In case I ever get to see the Taiwanese DRAGONBALL movie in full. I'll be able to compare.

    POTICHE (2010) 8/10

    THE IPCRESS FILE (1965) 9/10

    CHARIOTS OF FIRE (1981) 8/10

    PAPILLON (1973) 7/10
    If you ever wanted to see one of the lurid he-man action tales featured in 1950's pulp magazines like True Adventure and Man's World brought to life, then this is it. It's "true story" origins are highly suspect, and island prisoner Steve McQueen's mid-film dalliance with an all-too-willing polynesian cutie during one of his multiple escapes is the stuff of pure fantasy (albeit one repeatedly put forth in the aforementioned magazines). Musky and overheated as only Franklin J. Schaffner could've envisioned it.

    BILLY LIAR (1963) 9/10

    TABLOID (2010) 9/10
    Errol Morris knocks another one out of the park with one of his strangest and possibly most delusional interviewee yet, former beauty queen Joyce McKinney, who, in the 1970's, flew to England to rescue her then-boyfriend from the evil clutches of the Mormon church and, having done so, subjected him to a several days of seduction and sin while he was allegedly chained to a bed in a countryside cottage (to help free him from religious tyranny, you see). Well, he told a different tale after escaping, and thus the world was treated to preposterous but fascinating media circus in which McKinney's decidedly risque past crawled out of the grave. Wanted desperately to see this at TIFF in 2010 — with McKinney in attendance — but tickets sold out fast.

    LES ENFANTS DU PARADIS (1945) 10/10

    BALLS OF FURY (2007) 6/10

    FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS (2004) 7/10

    DRIVE-IN (1976) 6/10

    SEX DRIVE (2008) 6/10

    A RAISIN IN THE SUN (1961) 8/10

    LE DOULOS (1962) 9/10

    MY FAIR LADY (1964) 8/10

    DAVID LEAN DIRECTS NOEL COWARD:
    THIS HAPPY BREED (1944) 9/10
    BLITHE SPIRIT (1945) 8/10
    IN WHICH WE SERVE (1942) 8/10

    A LONELY PLACE TO DIE (2011) 7/10

    RED TAILS (2012) 5/10

    EASY A (2010) 7/10

    PUMPKINHEAD (1988) 7/10

    INSERTS (1975) 6/10

    STAR TREK NEMESIS (2002) 6/10

    THE NUTTY PROFESSOR (1963) 8/10

    BANANAS (1971) 8/10
    To date the oldest Woody Allen film I've seen, and the one that instantly solidified a link between his film early pictures (I've also seen SLEEPER and have TAKE THE MONEY AND RUN in my library queue) and the later comedies by the Zucker-Abrahams team (such as AIRPLANE). Definitely required viewing for anyone keen on following the evolution of this unique style of comedy, at least until the genre was raped and beaten to death by the likes of Friedberg and Seltzer over the last decade.

    OUTSOURCED (2006) 7/10

    88 MINUTES (2007) 4/10

    FABULOUS JOURNEY TO THE CENTER OF THE EARTH (1977) 5/10
    ENCOUNTER WITH THE UNKNOWN (1973) 3/10

    A FACE IN THE CROWD (1957) 9/10

    ZAAT (1971) 4/10

    BEAT (Korea; 1997) 7/10

    THE LAST COMMAND (1928) 10/10
    THE DOCKS OF NEW YORK (1928) 9/10
    UNDERWORLD (1927) 9/10

    THE BEALES OF GREY GARDENS (2006) 6/10

    A PLACE IN THE SUN (1951) 9/10

    DRIVE (2011) 9/10

    BREAKER! BREAKER! (1977) 3/10

    WINTER'S BONE (2010) 9/10

    NOT OF THIS EARTH (1957) 7/10
    ATTACK OF THE CRAB MONSTERS (1957) 5/10
    WAR OF THE SATELLITES (1958) 5/10

    SETUP (2011) 3/10
    Seen one 50 Cent movie, seen 'em all.

    CINEMA VERITÉ (2011) 8/10

    SPEEDO (2003) 8/10

    LE SAMOURAI (1967) 9/10

    CRAZED FRUIT (1956) 8/10

    OSS 117: LOST IN RIO (2009) 8/10

    FREAKS (1932) 8/10

    PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 3 (2011) 7/10

    SCREAM 4 (2011) 7/10

    JERRY MAGUIRE (1996) 7/10

    THE EMPEROR'S NEW GROOVE (2000) 7/10

    SHREK FOREVER AFTER (2010) 7/10
    SHREK THE THIRD (2007) 7/10
    SHREK 2 (2004) 6/10

    THE HAUNTING IN CONNECTICUT (2009) 5/10

    HOOSIERS (1986) 8/10

    SLEEPER (1973) 7/10

    RED RIDING HOOD (2011) 5/10

    FUNNY GAMES (USA; 2007) 6/10

    ATTACK THE BLOCK (UK; 2011) 8/10

    JERSEY SHORE SHARK ATTACK (2012) 3/10
    Hey, it was on TV at 3 am during a visit at my parents.

    ASSASSINATION (1987) 4/10

    THE MECHANIC (1972) 8/10

    FORBIDDEN HOLLYWOOD VOL. 3:
    FRISCO JENNY (1933) 8/10
    WILD BOYS OF THE ROAD (1933) 8/10
    HEROES FOR SALE (1933) 8/10
    MIDNIGHT MARY (1933) 7/10
    THE PURCHASE PRICE (1932) 6/10
    OTHER MEN'S WOMEN (1931) 7/10
    THE MEN WHO MADE THE MOVIES: WILLIAM WELLMAN (1973) 8/10
    WILD BILL: HOLLYWOOD MAVERICK (1995) 9/10

    CHINA IN REVOLUTION: 1911-1949 (1989) 9/10
    CHINA: THE MAO YEARS: 1949-1976 (1994) 10/10
    CHINA: BORN UNDER THE RED FLAG (1997) 10/10

    SLEEPAWAY CAMP (1983) 6/10

    EUROPE IN THE RAW (1963) 4/10
    This was added to the reissue of the Russ Meyer Collection U.K. DVD set. Thankfully, I was able to unload my previous set for more than the purchase price (to a 20-something girl no less!) in order to offset purchasing the newer set (which also includes an excellent booklet).

    IN THE NAME OF THE KING: A DUNGEON SIEGE TALE (2007) 4/10

    HIGH TEEN BOOGIE (Japan; 1982) 7/10

    ON THE TOWN (1949) 8/10

    FORBIDDEN HOLLYWOOD VOL. 2:
    FEMALE (1933) 7/10
    THREE ON A MATCH (1932) 7/10
    A FREE SOUL (1931) 7/10
    NIGHT NURSE (1931) 7/10
    THE DIVORCEE (1930) 8/10



    TIFF Movies:
    DREDD 3D (South Africa; 2012) 8/10
    NO ONE LIVES (USA; 2012) 7/10
    THE SUICIDE SHOP (France; 2012) 8/10
    THE LORDS OF SALEM (USA; 2012) 6/10 (5?)
    TAI CHI ZERO (Hong Kong-China; 2012) 7/10
    JOHN DIES AT THE END (USA; 2012) 7/10
    COMRADE KIM GOES FLYING (North Korea; 2012) 7/10 (6?)
    BERBERIAN SOUND STUDIO (UK; 2012) 7/10
    THE THIEVES (South Korea; 2012) 8/10
    HELLBENDERS (USA; 2012) 6/10
    7 BOXES (Paraguay; 2012) 9/10
    HERE COMES THE DEVIL (Mexico; 2012) 6/10
    COME OUT AND PLAY (Mexico; 2012) 6/10
    SIGHTSEERS (UK; 2012) 9/10



    avatar
    Masterofoneinchpunch

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    Re: Now watching...

    Post  Masterofoneinchpunch on Mon Nov 12, 2012 5:18 pm

    I'm always reading hee hee...

    Universal Horror (1998: Kevin Brownlow)

    You can find this full-length documentary on Universal Legacy Series of the separate releases for the two-disc releases of The Mummy, Dracula, Frankenstein and The Wolf Man. I am not sure why they put the same documentary on all of these separate releases which seems to make them a bit less desirable especially if you already have The Legacy Collections of these releases which lack some of the extras but have the sequels.

    This is narrated by Kenneth Branagh, whose voice is well suited for the narration. I wonder if he was picked because he had directed Frankenstein four year earlier. This was originally aired on TCM (Turner Classic Movies) in 1998. It covers the early horror period of filmmaking with an emphasis on Universal and up until Bud Abbott Lou Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948).

    People who are new to early Universal horror will certainly get more out of it then those like me who are already big fans of these films. I do think some viewers will wonder why more of the Universal horror films were not mentioned like the vast amount of sequels to the main monster films and why instead (while being very good films) other studios big films like RKO’s King Kong, Paramount’s Dr Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and Island of Lost Souls, Warner’s Mystery of the Wax Museum and the French film J’accuse! were given ample coverage in the documentary. Also it felt the cohesiveness of the documentary was derailed when it tried it establish a connection between WWI disables veterans as well as later comparing the “mad scientist” archetype with Hitler.

    Here are the movies referenced in the documentary. I have seen most but I was not familiar with The Last Warning (1929) directed by Paul Leni. A person interviewed stated that it was lost, but that is not true, though there are no official DVD releases of it that I can find. You can find it on YouTube here. Another short which I had heard of mentioned for the first time The Red Spectre (1907) can be seen here and can be found on the R1 release Wild and Weird: The Alloy Orchestra Plays 14 Fascinating and Innovative Films with New Music.

    Overall it was a fun and informative film on early horror films in general. It did not always stick well to its title, but there are enough new interviews with Ray Bradbury, Turhan Bey, Fay Wray, Sara Karloff and others to make this a worthwhile watch.

    AND A MOVIE I KNOW BRIAN WANTS TO SEE ...

    Legendary Amazons (2011: Frankie Chan: China) **/***

    Frankie Chan the very prolific Hong Kong film composer and bad guy in The Prodigal Son had not directed a movie since 2002 so I wondering how effective he was going to be in this retelling of the Shaw Brothers film The 14 Amazons (1972). At first you get the feeling of a Shaw Brothers film when each main character gets a title with their weapon of choice. One of the issues of Shaw Brothers epic films like The Water Margin is the over-introduction of characters and fragmentation of storyline because of the vast amount of protagonists (and sometimes antagonists) and that problem is certainly here are well. Often this leads to an overdramatic scene where someone is killed in battle and you are wondering who exactly they are.

    The overwhelming majority coming out of China and being released here on DVD are historical dramas often with a wuxia influence, often quite nationalistic and often featuring many big budget battle scenes. This falls under that category except the battle scenes are lower budget. Late in the film there are some battle scenes where fighting is going on in the background that has been digitally put in (green-screen I believe). It looks like rear-projection and it reminds me of the backgrounds in some of the earlier Mortal Kombat games. I am not sure why those scenes were kept in because they could have easily been excised without losing much of the plot. Also the wire-work fight choreography is not the most aesthetically pleasing and when the majority of the film is battle scenes they really needed to be much better to stand out among much better films like Red Cliff.

    Jackie Chan coproduced this. I have not used him as a barometer of goodness in a long time and I absolutely did not like his last film 1911. I am considering this movie a 2012 release because no (non-pirated) DVD release was out in 2011. Either way it is toward the bottom of the 2012 releases I have seen so far (you have company Casa de mi Padre). Ultimately the film is harmless, but the competence is not there. The cast is not to blame as Richie Ren, Cheng Pei-pei and even Cecilia Cheung have given good past performances.

    Watch Red Cliff, Bodyguards and Assassins, The Warlords, or Detective Dee instead.
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    Brian T

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    Re: Now watching...

    Post  Brian T on Mon Nov 12, 2012 7:34 pm

    Masterofoneinchpunch wrote:You can find this full-length documentary on Universal Legacy Series of the separate releases for the two-disc releases of The Mummy, Dracula, Frankenstein and The Wolf Man. I am not sure why they put the same documentary on all of these separate releases which seems to make them a bit less desirable especially if you already have The Legacy Collections of these releases which lack some of the extras but have the sequels.
    Kinda reminds me of what Universal did with their 100th Anniversary DVDs and Blu-rays this year. When they weren't outright repackagings of ages-old discs -- such as the Universal Monster four-film collections, interestingly enough -- the only new "special features" added to a great many of them were short featurettes about Carl Laemmle the studio's history, but rarely related to the film you actually paid for. I think there were only about three or four of these produced, but they turn up on just about everything. Neutral

    Masterofoneinchpunch wrote:Also it felt the cohesiveness of the documentary was derailed when it tried it establish a connection between WWI disables veterans as well as later comparing the “mad scientist” archetype with Hitler.
    I've seen this documentary and thought those were logical connections, at least in part, not unlike how movies in what came to be known as the film noir genre could trace some of their success to reflecting a general anxiety and distrust of women felt by returning G.I.'s - thus the proliferation of femmes fatales feeding directly off of those emasculating fears.

    Masterofoneinchpunch wrote:AND A MOVIE I KNOW BRIAN WANTS TO SEE ...
    Legendary Amazons (2011: Frankie Chan: China) **/***
    Oh, I've got it already. One of these days . . . Smile

    Masterofoneinchpunch wrote:Frankie Chan the very prolific Hong Kong film composer and bad guy in The Prodigal Son had not directed a movie since 2002 so I wondering how effective he was going to be in this retelling of the Shaw Brothers film The 14 Amazons (1972).
    I'm always intrigued when filmmakers drop off the grid and suddenly make out-of-the-blue comebacks on such high-profile productions. I mean, what in I.Q. DUDETTES (a not-bad little picture, by the way) would prompt someone to say "let's dig this guy up for a war epic!". You have to wonder if Jackie Chan returned a favour with this one, and then you have to wonder if Frankie Chan encountered personal or financial circumstances that necessitated a return to the fold. Or perhaps he just disappeared for a decade to raise kids or something. I also recently saw Frankie Chan's name connected to Wong Kar-wai's upcoming GRANDMASTERS movie as a composer, which likewise seems to represent his first musical work since 2002.

    The overwhelming majority coming out of China and being released here on DVD are historical dramas often with a wuxia influence, often quite nationalistic and often featuring many big budget battle scenes. This falls under that category except the battle scenes are lower budget.

    Films like this (at least based on your review) are why I don't fear China ever truly giving Hollywood a run for its money, and all the Hong Kong filmmakers who've more or less turned their backs on the city that gave them their careers in order to court the coveted Chinese audience are not helping the situation by lazily cranking out one watered-down "epic" historical adaptation after another. But then again, aside from superficial metropolitan romantic comedies and/or dramas, and maybe the occasional would-be "thriller" like CAUGHT IN THE WEB (what year is this again? 1997?), what else will the government allow them to make? Granted, international home video sales are practically guaranteed for any Chinese picture with swords, horses and/or kung-fu, and they probably do move enough units to turn a small profit. Eventually, though, the novelty's gotta wear off, as might the novelty of Hollywood movies shooting in Mainland China. Then it's off to the next big thing for a while. That's what Hollywood does. "Oooh, look, James Bond's in Shanghai, the city du jourThe locals will love it, because their own filmmakers aren't allowed to make anything like it!". Incidentally, I hope a lot of those ex-pat gwailos riding the Mainland entertainment gravy train these days have back up plans when the bloom falls off the rose. Otherwise, how long before we start seeing more toothless, look-what-we-can-do drudgery like this as representative of China thinking outside the box:



    Judging from the actual Hong Kong movies I've been buying lately -- which is, of course, all of them! Very Happy -- that's STILL where the most interesting Chinese cinema is happening. Yeah, I know, it ain't what it used to be, and maybe they're not as wild or outspoken now that Britain's been out of the picture for so long, but I still get a slight tingle, almost weekly sometimes, when I pick up stuff like DIVA, VULGARIA, LAN KWAI FONG 2, THE CASES, PORK OF MUSIC, NIGHTFALL, MOTORWAY, TURNING POINT 2 or A SIMPLE LIFE, to name just a few recent releases. Even if they all end up sucking balls, I'm confident that there isn't one of them that could've been produced on the Mainland (even though I'm sure there's Mainland money behind some of them). The only downside for me is that I have to buy these mainland productions anyways, just for the additional context.

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    Masterofoneinchpunch

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    Re: Now watching...

    Post  Masterofoneinchpunch on Tue Nov 13, 2012 10:53 am

    Brian T wrote: ...
    Masterofoneinchpunch wrote:Also it felt the cohesiveness of the documentary was derailed when it tried it establish a connection between WWI disabled veterans as well as later comparing the “mad scientist” archetype with Hitler.
    I've seen this documentary and thought those were logical connections, at least in part, not unlike how movies in what came to be known as the film noir genre could trace some of their success to reflecting a general anxiety and distrust of women felt by returning G.I.'s - thus the proliferation of femmes fatales feeding directly off of those emasculating fears. ...

    Oh there is definitely some truth to the WWI disabled veterans and its effect on horror cinema, its just that this documentary does not do it justice. It uses the non-Universal film J’accuse! (the later version not the 1919 version) to make it's point and remember that came out in 1938 (and was also a anti-war film that some of the points were made moot by Hitler's march across Europe) which was after most of the films mentioned in the documentary.

    That is also the problem with the Hitler reference. The mad doctor type had already been around for quite a long time, especially in Universal films, that the connection of the fear of Hitler seems applied after the fact (especially for the mad doctor Frankenstein whose roots are rooted in literature and was even seen in Germany pre-Hitler). Hitler certainly influenced the rise of the "one-world dictator" character most famously in Chaplin's The Great Dictator and is still seen today (Nazis make easy disposable bad-guys and they usually have their leader).

    My fault for not explaining better in my original writing, but I did just do it quickly Smile. I also hate seeing grammatical errors as well Very Happy.
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    Brian T

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    Re: Now watching...

    Post  Brian T on Tue Nov 27, 2012 12:11 pm

    Another round of recent views from the library system here, which continues to impress with every new search. This post won't be as long as my last eye-glazer since the gap between them is much shorter this time around. Laughing

    IN BRUGES (2009) 9/10
    I wonder if tourism in Bruges has spiked in recent years due to this film. It's a gorgeous-looking destination. Smile

    3:10 TO YUMA (2007)
    One of the rare remakes of an old-Hollywood gem that actually compares favorably to its inspiration. I'd be tolerant of a lot more remakes if they were as thoughtfully done as this one.

    Rebel Samurai: Sixties Swordplay Classics (Criterion)
    KILL! (Japan; 1968) 8/10
    SAMURAI REBELLION (Japan; 1967) 10/10
    SWORD OF THE BEAST (1965) 9/10
    SAMURAI SPY (1965) 7/10
    An excellent set of "anti-Samurai" movies — especially REBELLION — but I have to wonder if they would've been better suited to the Eclipse series, had it been available at the time. Perhaps it was a set like this that prompted discussion about the creation of Eclipse line in the first place?

    ALI: FEAR EATS THE SOUL (1974) 8/10
    I think this is my first Fassbinder film. I wasn't fond of his style here at first, and was leaning toward giving it a 7, but upped the score a bit upon exploring Criterion's excellent supplements.

    BODY HEAT (1981) 8/10
    Never felt particularly compelled to see this over the years as I'm not a huge fan of the collected works of either its director (SILVERADO excepted) of its stars, although in their favour they were fairly new on the scene when they made it, and give excellent performances. Guess I avoided it for nothing, as it's one of the better neo-noirs out there. Nice John Barry score, too.

    CHLOE (2009) 6/10
    More Atom Egoyan sex therapy. If it didn't have marquee names like Liam Neeson, Julianna Moore and Amanda Seyfried onboard, and if it was made about 20 years ago, it would have starred Shannon Tweed. The film does earn bonus points for casting Toronto AS Toronto for a change. Smile

    WHEN A WOMAN ASCENDS THE STAIRS (1960) 9/10

    The Actuality Dramas of Allan King (Criterion)
    MEMORY FOR MAX, CLAIRE, IDA AND COMPANY (2005) 8/10
    DYING AT GRACE (2003) 10/10
    COME ON CHILDREN (1973) 5/10
    A MARRIED COUPLE (1969) 7/10
    WARRENDALE (1967) 8/10
    Wow! Who knew a Canadian was such an integral part of the evolution of "reality" entertainment? Kudos to Criterion for singling out these five fascinating films from among King's otherwise pedestrian filmography (which consists mostly of unmemorable TV movies and episodes). He doesn't always hit home runs — COME ON CHILDREN is frustratingly aimless, ultimately pointless and stuffed with irritating teenagers who, like the subjects of WARRENDALE and A MARRIED COUPLE before them, are all too aware that they're on camera and modulate accordingly — but the later two documentaries, both shot on video, are among the best ever made on their respective subjects: aging and dementia in MEMORY FOR MAX, ETC. and death itself (among cancer patients in a Toronto hospital) in DYING AT GRACE. Both of these should be required viewing for anyone, anywhere, over the age of 20; we all have to face similar hurdles eventually, first with loved ones, and then on our own, and these two films do more to humanize the experience than a million loaded TV news exposés or even second-hand stories from people you know. King's brilliance, I think, stems from his lack of both sensationalism and politicization. None of these films carry narration or on-camera interviews or social agendas. While the subjects, especially in the first three, are a bit too aware of the documentarians in their midst, in the latter pictures, the subjects are simply too old, wise, frightened and ultimately ill to affect any kind of "performances" for King's cameras.

    L'ENFANCE NUE (1968) 9/10

    YOUTH OF THE BEAST (1963) 8/10
    Colorful, zippy precursor to Seijun Suzuki's legendary pop-art programmers like TOKYO DRIFTER and BRANDED TO KILL, the two made most famous in the west thanks to Criterion.

    CONTAGION (2011) 8/10

    REPULSION (1965) 9/10

    SEXY BEAST (2000) 8/10

    GRIFFITH MASTERWORKS - BIOGRAPH SHORTS 1908-1913
    I'm sure Shawn already has this one! Twenty-three films representing only a small fraction of Griffith's prodigious and influential output during this surprisingly short period. Not every one's a total winner, but even the lesser films in this set show Griffith implementing — even inventing — elements of cinematic language still in use today.

    THE RULES OF THE GAME (1939) 9/10

    ... and from an Echo Bridge 8-film horror set I picked up in the states a few weeks back (other title from which are in my previous post):

    C.H.U.D. II - BUD THE CHUD (1989) 5/5
    Agreeably silly horror comedy - virtually unrelated to the original C.H.U.D. - buoyed by a strong performance by colossally underrated character actor Gerritt Graham.

    976-EVIL II (1989) 5/5
    Another cheap 'n speedy horror opus with comic touches, this opens in typically Jim Wynorski-an fashion, with a showering 20-something co-ed enjoying a lengthy shower before being pursued half-dressed through the halls of a vacant high school by a maniac who kills via spirit projection or some such. After that, the hero from the first film rides into town to stop the spree. The nudity stops, but Wynorski employs workable special effects and above-average vehicular stunts to compensate.

    Finishing tonight:
    REAL STEEL






    avatar
    Masterofoneinchpunch

    Posts : 392
    Join date : 2011-02-16
    Location : Modesto, CA

    Re: Now watching...

    Post  Masterofoneinchpunch on Tue Nov 27, 2012 2:55 pm

    Random comments:

    I loved IN BRUGES, it has also been a fan favorite among the people I have lent it to. Some still mention it years later. The directors latest film SEVEN PSYCHOPATHS was fun, though more violent and more misanthropic than IN BRUGES (plus there was no rascist dwarf, always a dissapointment).

    3:10 TO YUMA: I like both the original and remake. One of the few remakes where I like as much as the original.

    SAMURAI REBELLION is a classic. I hold KILL! (Kiru!) in slightly higher regards than SWORD OF THE BEAST. SAMURAI SPY is by far my least favorite out of that set. The plot is just all-over-the-place.

    ALI: FEAR EATS THE SOUL: of course a remake of a Douglas Sirk film. I think this was my fourth Fassbinder. I like the director, just not as much as Roger Ebert does.

    YOUTH OF THE BEAST: My favorite Suzuki film. It is just a fun film to me.

    THE RULES OF THE GAME: I would probably give this a ten (along with PICKPOCKET). This is often considered one of the best films of all-time. I'll have to think what my favorite Renoir film is. Probably THE GRAND ILLUSION.

    GRIFFITH MASTERWORKS - BIOGRAPH SHORTS 1908-1913: yes I own this, part of the first Kino set for Griffith. I have seen everything in that set. I've seen several other shorts of his online.

    I've already seen REAL STEEL.
    avatar
    Brian T

    Posts : 319
    Join date : 2011-02-16

    Re: Now watching...

    Post  Brian T on Tue Nov 27, 2012 3:26 pm

    Masterofoneinchpunch wrote:I loved IN BRUGES, it has also been a fan favorite among the people I have lent it to. Some still mention it years later. The directors latest film SEVEN PSYCHOPATHS was fun, though more violent and more misanthropic than IN BRUGES (plus there was no rascist dwarf, always a dissapointment).
    Had I seen IN BRUGES prior to this year's TIFF, I would've gotten tickets to the SEVEN PSYCHOPATHS premiere in a heartbeat. Because of that, I think I pre-judged SEVEN PSYCHOPATHS — based largely on its trailer — as a potentially smarmy, violent hipster comedy-thriller of which there've been far too many over the years. My loss, apparently. IN BRUGES is one of those movies that flitted close to my radar many times over the years but I was just never particularly compelled to seek it out or even read more of the positive buzz about it. I think part of that might stem from the ugly DVD/Blu-ray sleeves (hey, I'm a designer, what can I say! Smile ), which made it seem like another generic hitman movie only with better actors (the key one of which, Brendan Gleeson, doesn't even rate a photo on the front!). Having seen it, however, I'd have no problem spreading the love once I actually own a copy.

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