Heroes of the East

Film discussion and banter

    Now watching...


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    Re: Now watching...

    Post  Masterofoneinchpunch on Tue Nov 27, 2012 3:36 pm

    Brian T wrote: ... 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.

    Christopher Walker is awesome in it. So far one of my top choices for supporting actor of the year. Now the film is more veered in that direction you speak of and feels a bit more Tarantinoish than his first. But I'm glad he got it out there and avoided an overly sophomoric slump. Though, I hope he goes a more subtle route for his third film.

    I try not to pay too much attention to covers or trailers (until I actually watch the film). Then I look for in trailers to see what deleted footage is there and then I look at the cover more closely. Sometimes the back description can steer you in the wrong direction. Of course you being familiar with HK (Mei Ah especially) they can put spoilers in there, they can have completely wrong information or just describe one small part of the film. Even Criterion can make mistakes here for example its back description of The Shop of Main Street (1965: Jan Kadar, Elmar Klos) was misleading in my opinion.

    Have you seen OUTLAW BROTHERS? I've been doing some research on that (might do a full length review, I have half of the review written out). One of two Dragon Dynasty releases this year.
    Brian T

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    Re: Now watching...

    Post  Brian T on Wed Nov 28, 2012 7:14 pm

    Masterofoneinchpunch wrote:I try not to pay too much attention to covers or trailers (until I actually watch the film). Then I look for in trailers to see what deleted footage is there and then I look at the cover more closely. Sometimes the back description can steer you in the wrong direction. Of course you being familiar with HK (Mei Ah especially) they can put spoilers in there, they can have completely wrong information or just describe one small part of the film. Even Criterion can make mistakes here for example its back description of The Shop of Main Street (1965: Jan Kadar, Elmar Klos) was misleading in my opinion.
    Oh, I'm usually the same way. It's just that when it comes to paying nearly $20 a ticket for TIFF screenings, I tend to go in two directions, either a) throwing caution to the wind, purposely plonking my coin down on movies and filmmakers I know absolutely nothing about (not even from DVD sleeves of previous films) or b) films from filmmakers who have some level of comfort-food recognition to me, regardless of what ends up on screen. SEVEN PSYCHOPATHS, at the time, fell into the nether-region between those two poles: the mention of IN BRUGES in the TIFF catalogue only reminded me of that weak DVD cover (I know, pretty shallow), and because I admittedly hadn't done (and didn't do) enough research by at least reading reviews of the earlier film, the only drawing card became the cast (which was extremely intriguing -- well, except Harrelson, who seems to exclusively act in stuff like this) and the trailer, which was very appealing but had me fearing another Tarantino-esque hipster pastiche. Still not sure that kind of perception didn't play a factor in the film's barely-break-even box office performance - people have a nose for that stuff, even if they're proven wrong in the long run, and there's a lot of violent dark-comedy ensembles floating around over the past 20 years. No matter, of course, as I'm certain to check out the DVD now that I've seen IN BRUGES and know the skinny on McDonagh. Smile

    Masterofoneinchpunch wrote:Have you seen OUTLAW BROTHERS? I've been doing some research on that (might do a full length review, I have half of the review written out). One of two Dragon Dynasty releases this year.
    Haven't seen this, but I did pick it up a couple of weeks ago in a U.S. Walmart for less than $10. Cool I'm a big fan of a lot of Frankie Chan's films, and I don't feel they get enough recognition in the west outside of the clique-ish fan circles and even then, because his shows are often romantic comedy/action pictures, they fly under many a fanboy's radar, and certainly Dragon Dynasty never bothered, except until now as a way to breathe one last wheeze into what can now safely be called a dead brand, I suspect. Just another symptom of that close-mindedness toward Hong Kong cinema I often bitch about, I suppose. It was released on DVD in the U.K about seven years ago. Someone at the old forum brought it to our attention there, and I had it in my cart forever, but never ended up buying it. Good to have it in R1 at last. If you really want to see a kick-ass Frankie Chan film, though, track down BURNING AMBITION. It's one of my all-time favourite Hong Kong pictures (no so much because I think it's one of the best Hong Kong movies of all time — I don't, and it isn't — but moreso because I think it's a quintessential representative of the Hong Kong filmmaking style. Unfortunately, I don't think it's ever been released on DVD or Blu-ray anywhere, only VCD (further bolstering my theory that to be a true Hong Kong film nut, you have to turn to that format quite often, especially now and into the future) and possibly on laserdisc back in the day.

    And, to finish up last night's viewings:

    REAL STEEL (2011) 8/10
    In my book, this is how you traffic in cliches if you have to do it. Let's face it, there's only so many ways you can tell a boxing tale, especially one geared toward families, and I think they largely made the right choices here. One pleasant surprise was a number of villains weren't really that villainous, yet still provided plentiful drama and suspense without resorting to additionally cliched plot lines involving sabotage or hostage-taking or some such silliness. At worst, the characters played by Kevin Durand (a fellow Canadian, and also in the previously discussed here 3:10 TO YUMA), Karl Yune and Olga Fonda were certainly arrogant and perhaps a bit unscrupulous, but thankfully they weren't evil murderous criminal types, which could've been so tempting to a lazy screenwriter on a show like this. The climactic fight sequence was a genuine roof-raiser.

    GAMER (2008) 4/10
    And then there's this. I think my 4 is generous, and it may drop one digit the longer I think about it. All these Neveldine/Taylor movies have their moments, and even some thought-provoking ideas, but the execution is just so goddamned numbing . . . The DVD does have an interesting (for the time) featurette on the deployment of the RED digital camera on the production, so there's that.

    On tap tonight: MELANCHOLIA or CONAN (the new one). Decisions, decisions . . . Laughing


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    Re: Now watching...

    Post  Masterofoneinchpunch on Thu Nov 29, 2012 9:56 am

    Brian T wrote: ...Haven't seen this, but I did pick it up a couple of weeks ago in a U.S. Walmart for less than $10. Cool I'm a big fan of a lot of Frankie Chan's films, and I don't feel they get enough recognition in the west outside of the clique-ish fan circles and even then, because his shows are often romantic comedy/action pictures, they fly under many a fanboy's radar, and certainly Dragon Dynasty never bothered, except until now as a way to breathe one last wheeze into what can now safely be called a dead brand, I suspect. Just another symptom of that close-mindedness toward Hong Kong cinema I often bitch about, I suppose. It was released on DVD in the U.K about seven years ago. Someone at the old forum brought it to our attention there, and I had it in my cart forever, but never ended up buying it. Good to have it in R1 at last. If you really want to see a kick-ass Frankie Chan film, though, track down BURNING AMBITION. ...

    I'll put that on my large list of things to look for.

    I'm not sure Legendary Amazons was the greatest start for me with Frankie Chan. Outlaw Brothers is certainly a better film (not great overall though the action is quite good in both stunts and fighting). I actually have a couple of his romantic comedy films so I'll have to check them out.

    Here is what I have so far on The Outlaw Brothers. I was happy tracking down some of this information below especially with Jackie Chan's involvement which is mentioned wrong in many different reviews. I just need to add more info on the plot and some discussion of the stunts involved. I actually found one of the stunts being done is in the long line of Keystone stunts. Another example of Hong Kong's influence from silent movies.

    The Outlaw Brothers (1990: Frankie Chan: Hong Kong)

    While this does not quite hit the realm of tarantula slaughter in Kingdom of Spiders, the foul mass carnage of fowl is disturbing. I do wonder why Frankie though this would make the warehouse scene more interesting (he also wanted to use more chickens than were shown in the movie). Who in their right mind would think it was cool to drop live poultry from up high, do close ups of their pain and still proceed to do fight scenes around them, eventually explode a few and run over some others for good measure. Unless you have hatred toward chickens like Harry Angel or Sam Peckinpah then this scene tends to evaporate some of the goodness that is overall a well executed finale. Heck, this even makes you forget about the AIDS joke earlier.

    I think this is a must for action fans. If you are less inclined toward sagacious kinetics and are more into plot, character and cohesion of the two then you can and will probably avoid this. If you like chickens I would avoid this as well.

    It is interesting to note that Jackie Chan is one of the stunt coordinators on this film. It gets a brief mention in his autobiography I Am Jackie Chan: My Life in Action (1998 with Jeff Yang). In an interview Yukari Oshima says that Frankie called Jackie in to help with one shot in the final fight scene between her and Jeff Falcon. He did leave one of his assistants behind to help finish though.

    The DVD from Dragon Dynasty is decent, but unfortunately no extras. Not even a trailer for the film. There are a few start-up trailers though for Fist of Legend and The Killer. There are two audio tracks: Cantonese Mono and English Mono. There are three subtitle tracks which unfortunately are dubtitles: English, English for the Hearing Impaired and Spanish. From what I read, HKL (R2/PAL) had released a slightly cut (for chicken cruelty) DVD in 2005 with a commentary by Bey Logan, interviews with Yukari Oshima and Vincent Lyn, a promo, original trailer and HKL trailer of the film. I really wish the DD release had some extras.

    Book: I Am Jackie Chan: My Life in Action (1998)
    http://www.fareastfi...others-1391.htm (On HKL version)

    Notes (Interview with Yukari Oshima):
    YO: Young Master was big influence, so was Yuen Biao.
    YO: Frankie Chan saw her in Shanghai Express.
    YO: She did not speak Cantonese at that point, spoke Cantonese on film unless difficult then she spoke Japanese.
    YO: pool scene took one day. Got hurt with black eye. [sounds like FC was in charge of this fight scene] Left side was swollen so did much shooting afterwards with right profile.
    YO: warehouse fight scene took about 10 days.
    YO: chickens were Frankie’s idea. He wanted even more dropped around 1000.
    YO: JC came during the closing of the fight scene. JC was filming nearby. He helped on one scene with her and Jeff Falcon. Left assistant behind to finish.
    YO: Belt Nunchaku
    YO: respect for foreigners (Mark and Jeff); Mark had short reach. Had worked before with Mark [Final Run (1989)].
    YO: Jeff was so fast that had to ask him to slow down.
    YO: acting was her least favorite thing.
    Brian T

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    Re: Now watching...

    Post  Brian T on Wed Jan 02, 2013 12:40 pm

    Masterofoneinchpunch wrote:Here is what I have so far on The Outlaw Brothers.  I was happy tracking down some of this information below especially with Jackie Chan's involvement which is mentioned wrong in many different reviews.  I just need to add more info on the plot and some discussion of the stunts involved.  I actually found one of the stunts being done is in the long line of Keystone stunts. Another example of Hong Kong's influence from silent movies.
    I'd heard about Jackie Chan's involvement with this over the years, but always wondered just how heavily he was involved. Sounds like barely. But it says a lot about two decades of amateur web reviews that so many of them still speak of Chan's contributions as though they were major, or at least mention him in such a way that it's impossible to tell. For once I'll give kudos to the Dragon Dynasty supplement producers (or whichever contractor they used) for at least asking Oshima for more details. 

    Looking forward to finally watching this some day.

    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

    Anyway, more recent viewing below. Started this post ages ago in an effort to stop being so tardy around here, but no luck (not that it really matters), so here's another big round-up:

    Viewed Theatrically:

    LES MISERABLES (2012) 8/10
    One of the few "mega-musicals" I never saw on stage back in the day. I'm not the biggest fan of "sung-through" musicals like this and MISS SAIGON, as they result in a lot of expository dialogue being tethered to unmemorable melodies — and that happens here, too — but there are four or five truly memorable numbers in this one to balance the flotsam. One letdown: seeing one of my personal favorites, "Master of the House", made considerably less bawdy by the casting of Sasha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter. The latter, in particular, REALLY needs to lay off the Burton-esque hag roles for a while. It's like she's capable of nothing else.

    SKYFALL (2012) 9/10
    One of the best Bond movies ever. I really liked how they essentially wrapped up the first 50 years with this one and set a clean stage for something new.

    Viewed on DVD, mostly from the library, as usual:

    MR. SKEFFINGTON (1944) 7/10

    RANDOM HARVEST (1942) 10/10
    One of the all time great romances, with an amnesia hook that succeeds in ways so many subsequent pictures have failed.

    THE FOUNTAINHEAD (1949) 7/10
    High marks for production design, low marks for characters which as created by author Ayn Rand adapting her own book aren't so much characters as literal embodiments of various aspects of her contentious objectivist philosophy (or walking representations of her perception of the ideologies of those who would oppose it).

    More promotion than insight in this light fare from Morgan Spurlock, but that's not necessarily a bad thing considering how easy it can be to ridicule the (growing numbers of) people who attend comic/sci-fi/fantasy conventions, particularly dressed as favourite characters. The only real suspense is generated by one attendees attempts to separate from his clingy-but-lovable girlfriend long enough to score the rings with which he plans to propose to her at a Kevin Smith forum, but there's still plenty of colorful characters — and really an entire cottage marketing industry — dissected to please just about anyone who's spent any time at a convention, in a comic shop, watching superhero movies, building model kits, and so on.

    21 JUMP STREET (2012) 7/10
    Much better than I'd anticipated, and judging by the reviews I read subsequently, much better than MANY professional critics were expecting too. Nice to see a reboot of an old TV show that, for once, wasn't some cherished cultural touchstone (despite launching Johnny Depp's career). That choice gave the filmmakers a lot more leeway to go off in new directions while by necessity pointing up the absurdity of both the show's concept and action movies in general (love the almost-exploding vehicles routine during the car chase). I was never as confounded by the success of Channing Tatum as some of his more vocal critics, so the fact that he more or less proved his range with this picture wasn't too big a surprise.

    I FIDANZATI (1963) 8/10
    IL POSTO (1961) 8/10
    These two early pictures by Ermanno Olmi are both quite good, even if the social statements he makes in them weren't particularly groundbreaking in Italian cinema — or Italian culture — at the time. I prefer IL POSTO, generally, as I FINDANZATI becomes needlessly arty in the back half.

    LUST FOR LIFE (1956) 8/10

    About as good as the Swedish version, while incorporating and/or foregrounding a few slightly different aspects of the book to keep things fresh.

    IVANHOE (1952) 7/10

    SAFE HOUSE (2012) 6/10
    So here's this movie in a nutshell:
    Plays havoc on a sound system. Only really interesting aspect was the Cape Town setting, a place rarely seen in Hollywood product.

    GREENFINGERS (2000) 7/10
    Prison inmates are aspire to become master gardeners. Utterly predictable, and too-predictably "charming" British feature in Full Monty/Commitments/The Van mode, albeit probably a bit late in the cycle to leave much of an impression at the time.

    WINDTALKERS (2002) 5/10
    By the time John Woo directed this -- and pretty much killed his overseas career in the process -- I'd pretty much soured on his tendency to pillage his own visual vocabulary over and over again in his American pictures, especially in light of the fact that so many other directors had been ripping it off for nearly a decade by the time this dud hit theaters. In the hands of a more appropriate director -- possibly even one born and raised in North America, regardless of ethnicity -- this tale of the Navajo code-talkers during WWII could've been a compelling, dramatic tribute to its subjects, perhaps even serious award bait. Instead, it's two-plus hours of cliché noble white soldier Nicolas Cage being Nicolas Cage from one supersized action setpiece to the next, with only the faintest of nods to issues faced by the real-life Native American soldiers. This was a story that really needed to be told, but not like this.

    THIS FILM IS NOT YET RATED (2006) 8/10

    I recall Shawn's likewise positive review of this a few pages back. Wink

    CONVICTION (2010) 8/10

    QUICK (South Korea; 2011) 5/10
    Spazzy Korean action-comedy with typically high levels of hyperbolic "comedy" and reckless disregard for the consequences of its characters' actions, right PAST the point where the "villain" makes a didn't-see-THAT-one-coming revelation to the "hero" that should, by rights, cause any rational viewer's allegiances to the two characters to switch places, but which the filmmakers blow off in order to get back to the regularly scheduled mugging, crying and overacting. I'll give the film credit for taking the BLENDING of practical and computer effects in Korean action cinema to new levels of verisimilitude (still not in Hollywood's ballpark, but considering the comparative resources, pretty damned close!), but I'm still baffled by their continued inability (or unwillingness) to actually sell the concept of velocity during any of the resulting sequences. It's plain as day that the vehicles in every single action scene -- nearly all of which reference similar Hollywood sequences, including key numbers from DIE HARD 3' LETHAL WEAPON 3 and THE ISLAND -- are being operated at or below posted Korean speed limits. Zooming lenses, undercranking, fast cutting and explosions only go so far to disguise this. Then again, considering the substantial number of web reviews for this Blu-ray that seem like they were written by 10-year-old boys too willing to overlook ingrained story problems of so many Korean movies like this one, perhaps all the obfuscation really does work after all.

    THE NEXT THREE DAYS (2010) 8/10

    $9.99 (Australia; 2008) 5/10
    Philosophical stop-motion production hobbled by a lack of focus and grotesque puppet designs.

    HANG 'EM HIGH (1968) 8/10

    YOUNG ADULT (2011) 8/10

    BAD TEACHER (2011) 5/10
    Seems they thought they could pull off a BAD SANTA with a chick, but they stumble right at the starting line with a character who, as written and performed, would've been fired during her first week on the job, forget surviving to the end of a school year, which is where this movie actually begins.

    THE NAKED KISS (1964) 8/10

    WHERE THE TRUTH LIES (2005) 7/10
    Yet more Atom Egoyan sex therapy, only with a larger budget, glossy Hollywood period setting and bigger stars than he's accustomed to at the time.

    ORPHEUS (1950) 8/10

    THE BIG BAD SWIM (2006) 8/10
    Sweet indie comedy-drama about adults and their neuroses enrolling in a swim class led by a recently-dumped, depressed instructor at their local community centre. This reminded me, albeit in small ways, of the Hong Kong picture UNITED WE STAND … AND SWIM. Saw this trailered on another disc I signed out, but the actual DVD sleeve for it — with a faceless bikini-clad model bent over boobs-a-hangin' — makes it look like a sleazy sex farce, which it's definitely not (despite modest amounts of nudity).


    Compelling doc about political activist and folk singer Phil Ochs, who seemingly always lamented his lack of mainstream success yet also refused to (or was creatively unable to) stop beating dead ideological horses or vary his music and personal stylings except when it provided an opportunity to make yet another statement about something — ill-timed, in the case of his infamous gold lamé Elvis suit.

    SECRET WINDOW (2004) 7/10

    ANTONIO GAUDI (1985) 9/10

    CARLOS (2010) 8/10

    COLD SOULS (2009) 7/10

    HOT TUB TIME MACHINE (2010) 6/10
    Amiable enough lowbrow antics you'd expect from a film with this title, with three middle-aged losers and a nephew of one of them traveling back to the Hollywood-movie version of 1986. Got it for $1.96 in Amazon's Black Friday sale, so at least I'll make a bit of money selling it off. Smile

    PROJECT X (2012) 5/10
    Probably the ultimate — and most realistic, to a point — teen party movie of all time, but that's not necessarily a good thing, as the filmmakers transparently court controversy by glorifying irresponsibility. Thankfully it only inspired a couple of real-life copycat situations (including one not far from Toronto), but I'm sure anyone over 30 who sees it will forever think twice about how much freedom they give their teenagers. 

    SAFE (2012) 8/10
    Ex-cop rendered borderline hobo Jason Statham shepherds tweenaged Chinese numbers prodigy Catherine Chan through a New York City crawling with corruption. Probably the best Cannon Pictures movie that Cannon never made and by association the best Charles Bronson movie that Charles Bronson never made, only with more of the obligatory martial arts beatdowns expected by Statham's international fanbase. So nice to see New York depicted as a place where corruption is still entrenched, is probably a lot closer to the truth than most movies set there would want us to believe.

    KILLER ELITE (2012) 8/10
    Another solid Jason Statham production, this one more politicized than his usual offerings, and with bigger names than usual sharing the marquee. It died quickly in theatres — perhaps its overly simplistic trailer set to the arena rock fist-pumper "Rock Me Like A Hurricane" didn't help — but seems to be garnering belated respect in ancillary.  Like SAFE, it reminds me of the kind of movie Charles Bronson might have made, only this one back in the mid- to late-70's, which is telling when you consider it's set in 1980. 

    CABIN IN THE WOODS (2012) 9/10
    What a breath of fresh air this is! Easily the most original take on "cinematic" horror in ages. Its defenders decry the studio's decision to delay its release but frankly, it's not an easy sell. Giving away too little in the trailers probably made it seem like a typical slasher movie (with teasing snippets of sci-fi). Giving away too much in the trailers could've spoiled it, even though the film starts showing us its central conceit right from the opening scene (you gotta give props to Drew Goddard and Joss Whedon for not withholding their "ace" until midway through the movie, as so many filmmakers would've done). 

    THE HINDENBURG (1975) 5/10
    Lesser disaster movie from a period when every disaster known to man was being given the big screen treatment. The problems with undertaking a film like this were twofold: first, the ending is a foregone conclusion, and second, the exact cause of the Hindenburg crash can never be known, so the filmmakers chose the theory best suited to a cinematic retelling — sabotage! — and filled the passenger roster with the types of second-stringers and TV vets inevitably found in most disaster movies that would follow this one. The result, barring some excellent optical effects, generates little tension.

    HEAVY METAL 2000 (1999) 6/10
    The original HEAVY METAL was far from perfect, but it better captured the spirit of the magazine that spawned it than this sequel, in which Ninja Turtles co-creator Kevin Eastman adapts his own graphic novel (with Simon Bisley) "The Melting Pot" into a one-story showcase for the limited acting abilities of his admittedly stunning-in-real-life wife Julie Strain. Animation and backgrounds are on par with some of the better TV animation being done at the time, but can't match the artistry (or variety) on display in the original. 

    BMX BANDITS (1983) 6/10
    Seemingly for years in the 1980's, this Aussie kiddie flick haunted virtually every VHS rental store I knew back in the day, but as I wasn't a BMX nut my curiosity about it was modest at best (and lead actress Nicole Kidman was no one to speak of at the time). Finding Severin's DVD recently for $2.99 on the clearance shelf of our last major music retailer here brought some bargain-priced closure. Turns out it ain't half bad for a utterly formulaic "fad" movie, and because it knowingly places its fad front and centre for the duration, I found it less egregious than films of the era that would hastily toss in a scene or two of kids riding BMX bikes just to make sure they touched that base. Director Brian Trenchard-Smith and writers Patrick Edgeworth and Russell Hagg have no pretensions to anything but family-friendly entertainment designed to market the bikes and their matching bubblegum-coloured riding outfits, and from the sounds of things in their interviews in the accompanying documentary, it paid off handsomely in Australia and throughout Europe, though less so in America (perhaps the fad was already a mainstay there by 1983?)

    Something Weird David F. Friedman Triple Feature:
    THE BRICK DOLLHOUSE (1967) 4/10
    A SWEET SICKNESS (1968) 3/10
    Three sleazy dramas from legendary drive-in/grindhouse producer David Friedman, though only the first bears his personal imprint; the other two were pickups he distributed. SMELL OF HONEY is the best of the three, and a genuine grindhouse classic. Stacey Walker plays an unstable vixen who crassly seduces every man she can, then cries "rape!" when they go too far, getting her kicks watching them suffer the consequences. There's a surprising psychological depth here not common in similar films of the era.


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    Re: Now watching...

    Post  Masterofoneinchpunch on Fri Jan 04, 2013 4:20 pm

    some random thoughts:

    Silver Linings Playbook (2012: David O. Russell) ***½/****

    Yesterday I had the choice to watch, given the timeframe I had, of either this or Django Unchained. I thought this might not last as long in the theater as Django Unchained plus I was more in the mood for this, especially from the word of mouth from a few people I knew and one barista who told me he identified with the lead character and I probably would too. Like last week when I saw Life of Pi the theater was quite full when I got there. The audience was older so that was good, but scouting out a seat is always a bit annoying when you stand their strategically trying to pick the best spot using the combination of factors such as avoiding the following: somebody behind you, any potentially flatulent large person with several tubs of popcorn, smelly people, kids, cell phone users and very tall people in front of you. Add in factoring an easier bathroom path access and you are trying to compute quite a bit in a short amount of time – at least quick enough where you do not want to appear as if you are in a catatonic state.

    This is most likely going to be in my top 10 films of the year. I identified with so many of the characters and situations here. Who would not snap with what Pat (Bradley Cooper – if you have not seen Limitless I do recommend that) saw and led him to a mental institution?

    It has an ending that is so predictable but I would have been angry if it went any other way (I know I have seen a movie with a similar ending but I cannot quite remember it right now) like if After Hours went with its original ending.

    I am sure the case will get some Academy Award nominations. Most, if not all, of the actors were quite good from Christ Tucker to Jackie Weaver. It is good to see Robert DeNiro with a well thought out role again. While I did like his performance early last year with Red Lights it is no where near as nuanced as what he did here. His performance is outstanding as the OCD Dad with some anger issues but a caring side to his even more troubled son and even more so to the Philadelphia Eagles (compare this parent to Jan Brown of Buffalo '66).

    Spoilers below:

    One of my favorite scenes is with Jennifer Lawrence (I thought she was younger than 22) and DeNiro where she slowly changes his thinking about her being bad luck. The audience was at its most vocal during this scene. I loved it when Pat tossed the Hemingway book out the window. I know people like that who cannot take an unhappy ending, especially with a book. I not even sure on the amount of windows I have personally destroyed.

    With the dance contest I was hoping they would get at least .1 over the 5.0. Just a preference kind of like beating out a ticking time bomb with at least 10 seconds instead of just one second left. I was wondering if they were going to go with a The Cincinnati Kid type of ending with them losing the contest but having the relationship work. I heard a lot of compliments on the film from the audience when the film was over.


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    Re: Now watching...

    Post  Masterofoneinchpunch on Fri Jan 04, 2013 4:23 pm

    If I expand this I will put it in the HK area:

    Wu Dang (2012: Patrick Leung) HK/China ** (maybe **½)/****

    I am concentrating on more 2012 releases this month (and of course the next couple of months as the DVD releases trickle end for the movies I miss in the theater this month) and this pushes me to watch movies I might not give a chance for a long time otherwise. I tend to avoid reviews of films I have not seen, but I generally get a feeling of critical reception and popularity from a variety of online sources. I knew of one review from cityonfire (that I just read today), but not much else.

    Tang Yunlong (Vincent Zhao) is an intellectual treasure hunter with a plucky daughter Ning (Xu Jiao). He happened upon a treasure map, while thwarting a conman that leads to seven treasures that could make him a lot of money. His daughter has been entered into a contest at the Wu Dang Mountain where Taoist monks train (the Wu Tang Clan got there name from characters there) and hold a contest every 500 years (this seems a little extreme; makes the World Cup gap seem quite tame). Meanwhile his daughter falls for a monk (Fan Siu-wong: Story of Ricky) who is taking care of his invalid mother. The age difference (she was 14 when it was filmed) between the two is quite large making their scenes seem a bit awkward especially when marriage is talked about. At the same time another contestant Tian Xin (Yang Mi: Painted Skin: The Resurrection), who obtained her invitation through force, is after a sword that belongs to her family. Of course she is going to end up with Yunlong.

    Mainland’s censorship (even if it is a Hong Kong film) makes it impossible to have bad or even ambiguous characters so when someone is doing something like stealing treasures there had to be a “good-guy” reason for it. If you take this as a kid’s film it comes out better. Especially since the ending is very … sappy.

    No real surprises for this one as the term middling seems to fit it appropriately. The fight choreography by Corey Yuen Kwai (All For the Winner) was decent if you are into wire-work (I thought one scene with Zhao and Yang was quite good, it is partially shown in the trailer), especially when it involved Vincent Zhao who I really liked in True Legend, but then it had too much focus on the two female leads Yang Mi and Xu Jiao (she played the boy in CJ7). I noticed a lot of doubling for Xu Jiao. But when you compare this to his choreography in Above the Law (1986) and My Father is a Hero (1995) you might wonder what happened to him -- unless you have recently seen Blade of Kings.

    I really would not recommend this to anyone here, especially if you dislike wire-work fight choreography. There are enough plot holes (the whole stealing treasures under the Taoists), the tournament comes off shoddy and rushed and the relationships are boilerplate. But I do recommend this over Legendary Amazons.

    City on Fire Review Love HK Film Review
    Wu Dang Chinese Box Office Performance
    Box Office Mojo



    An overly nice review.

    Project X (2012: Nima Nourizadeh) ***/****

    It’s not a party until the midget drives the Benz into the pool. This is the ultimate teenage party fantasy movie mixed in with the “found footage” subgenre. A good lesson for this is always have the party at somebody else’s house, something I luckily learned years ago. It saves on cleaning, stress, paper work and asking questions like “how do you get blood stains out of the carpet?”

    Three kids, plus cameraman Dax who does not drink and mysteriously lives alone, put together a party led by overly obnoxious Costa (Oliver Cooper) to celebrate Thomas’s (Thomas Mann) birthday. At first they hope to have a successful party to improve their social standing at school. They give out invitations to people that do not even know who they are.

    I love the moment when everything is perfect. The party is successful. Then everything starts to go higgledy-piggledy. That’s when the real fun begins -- for the viewer. The arch of the plot is pretty much known from the beginning. The surprises are in what happens.

    I found this quite funny in its anarchist mayhem. The dwarf in the oven, the overanxious security, the older party-goer (that reminded me of Lawrence), and the ultimate destruction of the party were inspired. I am a little weary of its overuse of casual teenage drug use. I do not buy the argument of realism since so much of this film is fantasy, but the “party film” homages are incomplete without them. Teenagers are annoying as well, so it is easy to handle them on film.


    One of the biggest non-reality events is when the cops do not shot the flame-throwing addict trying to get his gnome back. I was a little suspect on the quick forgiveness of Thomas by his friend and future girlfriend Kirby. Makes nice for the movie, but he screwed up big time.

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    Re: Now watching...

    Post  Masterofoneinchpunch on Fri Jan 04, 2013 4:27 pm

    That’s My Boy (2012: Sean Anders) **/****

    This is definitely toward the bottom of the 2012 films so far. This movie deserves more vitriol than Jack and Jill.

    Why the rating is not lower is because of some hilarious gags in the later half of the film. When the film is more chaotic or bizarre in its gags it is funny (compare the not-so-funny bachelor party at the strip club to what happens afterwards). When Sander’s continues the trend of hilarious cameo appearances it is great. Vanilla Ice was weirdly a highpoint for the film. His byplay with Todd Bridges had me laughing as well as his explanation on what happens every time Ice Ice Baby plays. Though when Adam tries to mix his formulaic loser character with an obnoxious voice into a heavily influenced Todd Phillips meets the Farrelly Brothers style of raunchy comedy it fails badly. It fails because either Sean Anders and/or Adam Sandler confuse grossness with hilarity. I was cringing more often than laughing. Also sometimes it feels Sandler is spewing profanity just its own sake. He does not do it with rhyme or reason so it comes off as excess and makes his loser character even less appealing.

    Sandler’s character in some ways reminds me of Ted in Ted. Both were popular once and both fell hard after their one characteristic failed to serve them. Both are drug addled adult-aged adolescents who are womanizing, rude, and annoying with bad voices. Ted was funnier though and, initially hard to believe, more sympathetic. Heck his previous character Jill was more sympathetic.

    What was up with Nick Swardson’s character? He was unfunny throughout. This made me miss the usual Steve Buscemi cameo.

    Hotel Transylvania is the best movie for Sandler this year.


    Moonrise Kingdom (2012: Wes Anderson) ***½/****

    This is toward the top of the 2012 films so far (good chance of staying in top 10) and I am caught up with all of Anderson’s full length films. I doubt it will top The Royal Tenenbaums as my favorite Wes Anderson film but it might come close after a future rewatch.

    When watching each of his films you can always see an auteuristic approach from familiar crane shots on The Ladies Man/Tout va bien style architectural sets, to choice of actors, quirky characters and choice of material. But for me it is always the characters that you tend to remember most. Bill Murray has been seen in most of Anderson’s films, but I went with some trepidation to Wes newcomers like Edward Norton (who did fine). I did not worry as much about Bruce Willis because he has done well with a variety of directors and has done understated (Unbreakable) effectively. He also does it here as well. There is milquetoast dolefulness with his character that does not just flirt with depression but lives with it in his mobile abode. It certainly is in contrast to the more “successful” Walt Bishop who uses deadpan humorous statements and killing trees to unsuccessfully mask his melancholy. Personally I should not be around sharp things when I am upset.

    Top 10 Wes Anderson Influences

    Brian T

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    Re: Now watching...

    Post  Brian T on Wed Jan 09, 2013 4:46 pm

    Masterofoneinchpunch wrote:Project X (2012: Nima Nourizadeh) ***/****
    I found this quite funny in its anarchist mayhem. The dwarf in the oven, the overanxious security, the older party-goer (that reminded me of Lawrence), and the ultimate destruction of the party were inspired. I am a little weary of its overuse of casual teenage drug use. I do not buy the argument of realism since so much of this film is fantasy, but the “party film” homages are incomplete without them. Teenagers are annoying as well, so it is easy to handle them on film.

    I suspect an age gap might account for our slightly different take on this one. Wink I agree with your thoughts on the character mentioned in your spoiler: it just doesn't make sense. In fact, the film lost my trust nearly from the get go when it asked me to believe that only one neighbor would seem to have any concern about the impending party, and that he seemed to be just about the only person home on the entire street when things started to get out of hand. In ANY neighborhood as upscale as that one, a conspicuous party would've barely gotten off the ground. Multiple neighbors would've been on the phone to the police to shut it down LONG before anyone had barely gotten tipsy. And any cops arriving on an early disturbance call would not have been as dismissive and easily cowed as the two in this film were. It's not easy to write contingencies for situations like this in any film, let alone a comedy, but the writers of PROJECT X seemed to take the path of least (intelligent) resistance: i.e. "the kids won't even notice." Smile

    Masterofoneinchpunch wrote:That’s My Boy (2012: Sean Anders) **/****
    I gotta hand it to ya. You've got more stamina than I do to keep sitting through these Adam Sandler movies. Laughing

    More recent viewings:

    A SUMMER PLACE (1959) 7/10
    Not a great movie, but a GREAT experience. It's a glossy, widescreen, technicolor upgrade covering largely the same territory (Forbidden Love!) as many low-budget drive-in juvenile delinquent movies of the same period, only prettier, and with a soundtrack theme that has lasted through the ages. Richard Egan's "So now you hate the Swedes" rant at the intolerance of uptight, controlling harpy wife Constance Ford is truly one of the great Hollywood monologues, if not necessarily for all the right reasons:

    DARK SHADOWS (2012) 7/10
    Not sure this was a particularly necessary film beyond the attempts of Tim Burton and Johnny Depp to launch potential franchise of some sort (so much for that idea). At least they picked source material (not dissimilar to the recent 21 JUMP STREET) that, rabid fanbase notwithstanding, is hardly like some sacred text of television history. Loved the opening, the production design, the photography and the fish-out-of-water gags (for a while, at least), but the whole thing doesn't seem to go anywhere for long-ish stretches, and that last-minute twist with Chloe Moretz's character was just plain misguided, almost as if to advertise that the production had run out of fresh things to do with this chestnut.

    THE WOMAN IN BLACK (2012) 7/10
    Not a bad sophomore effort from the relaunched Hammer brand, but there's an awful lot of repetition in it, what with Daniel Radcliffe creeping repeatedly down the same hallways and up the same staircase and out into the same foggy moors. Perhaps they kept it simple to draw more Potter fans to their idol's new grown-up endeavors?

    Watched this as a pretext to eventually watching everything in the Val Lewton boxed set I picked up centuries ago. Soon, hopefully . . .

    Exploitation Double Feature:
    SUPERVAN (1977) 4/10

    Bob Hope Double Feature:
    THE BIG BROADCAST OF 1938 (1938) 7/10
    COLLEGE SWING (1938) 6/7

    DUNE (1984) 3/10
    I've seen parts of this monstrosity a few times over the years, usually on TV, but I could never get through it without dozing off. Even this time, it was difficult, but I made it, so i can finally rate the damned thing at IMDB. But what a mess. Had to do a few rewinds to confirm that yes, it generally does make sense, but talk about opaque! The film has its supporters, but they seem few, and surely diehard fans of the book must have to work overtime to convince themselves that this actually succeeds in any way?

    THE LAST STARFIGHTER (1984) 6/10
    Spielberg Lite, or maybe Joe Dante Lite, particularly in the scenes at the trailer park. Certainly a game-changer in terms of special effects, and taken entirely in context (how else?) they're pretty good.

    WARGAMES (1983) 8/10
    Missed opportunities to see this when it was new -- though I was only mildly curious -- and it pretty much fell off my radar in the decades since. Much more intelligent film than I think I was expecting.

    WHO'S THE KNOCKING AT MY DOOR? (1967) 6/10

    BUSTER (1988) 7/10 (possibly a 6)

    THREE OUTLAW SAMURAI (1964) 8/10
    Good stuff, but Criterion's fairly barebones release makes me think this might've been better suited to it's Samurai Rebellion boxed set. Or was that the original intent?

    PASSENGERS (2008) 5/10
    Suspected the twist in this a million miles away. ;-)

    MY LIFE AS A DOG (1985) 8/10


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    Re: Now watching...

    Post  Masterofoneinchpunch on Wed Jan 09, 2013 5:04 pm

    Brian T wrote:...THREE OUTLAW SAMURAI (1964) 8/10
    Good stuff, but Criterion's fairly barebones release makes me think this might've been better suited to it's Samurai Rebellion boxed set. Or was that the original intent?

    I don't think it was. I enjoyed it to. I'm suspecting you know it was remade as The Magnificent Trio by Chang Cheh. I rewatched the remake a few days after Three Outlaw Samurai (both last month) and unfortunatly it was marred a bit by how good looking Three Outlaw Samurai is, the better acting (though to be fair both Lo Lieh and Jimmy Wang Yu were quite new) and most everything else.

    Quick notes: I'm been waffling between **½ and *** (out of four) for Project X and ultimately settled on **½ (6/10).

    Always enjoy War Games. I've seen it many times.

    Val Lewton: some of the best psychological horror films of the 1940s. The Body Snatcher is one of my favorites, though many will say Cat People Very Happy. But a great, great set.

    Here is where I'll be really annoying: watch the second disc of ANTONIO GAUDI. It is one of the best second discs out of Criterion. I actually watched that last month as well. A few day after I watched some of the commentary for How the Grinch Stole Christmas and ol Ron Howard stated Gaudi's influence on Dr. Suess as well as his movie itself.

    I enjoyed both Dark Shadows (in the theater) and The Woman in Black (both ***/****). Both could have been better, but glad I watched them. I liked Depps performance quite a bit, I just wish the plot/writing/other characters would have been thought out more.

    I'll post more here later Very Happy.
    Brian T

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    Re: Now watching...

    Post  Brian T on Mon Jan 14, 2013 11:02 am

    Masterofoneinchpunch wrote:Always enjoy War Games. I've seen it many times.
    It was far removed from what I expected, which was a technologically suspect, dumbed-down, kiddie "adventure movie" not unlike other such films of the era (like GOONIES WITH COMPUTERS or something requiring the heroes to scoot around on BMX bikes and foil villains from central casting). I'm sure true computer whiz's might argue it plausibility, but I found the "tech" to be highly convincing for the period, although had I seen it in 1983, I'm sure I would've been skeptical because of my ignorance of such things. Hindsight helped, but in no way affected my view of this. I think even the tweenaged me of the period would've rated this quite highly. Smile

    Masterofoneinchpunch wrote:Here is where I'll be really annoying: watch the second disc of ANTONIO GAUDI. It is one of the best second discs out of Criterion. I actually watched that last month as well. A few day after I watched some of the commentary for How the Grinch Stole Christmas and ol Ron Howard stated Gaudi's influence on Dr. Suess as well as his movie itself.
    Not annoying at all. I felt exactly the same way about that second disc. As a modest art junkie, I like it when Criterion sources documentaries like the ones about Gaudi -- as opposed to just material about Teshigahara. Since I only buy Criterions on Blu-ray now, I'm really hoping this one gets the treatment.

    A few more recent views:

    TEOREMA (1968) 5/10

    THE INTERRUPTERS (2011) 8/10

    FAST COMPANY (1979)
    The earliest "odd-movie-out" on David Cronenberg's filmography, but also one of the best "car exploitation" pictures of the era, ideally cast, and proof that he can succeed at "mainstream" fare as effortlessly as he often does with his darker explorations of body horrors. Almost wish he'd done more films like this in between his more outré fare over the years, it's that good. And he's clearly a fan of the subject matter. The two-disc set also includes two of his earliest films, STEREO (1969) and CRIMES OF THE FUTURE (1970) which are probably two of the most clear-minded "declarations of career intent" I've ever seen from a then-tyro filmmaker. Slow, for sure, and largely silent except for clinical narration. I even recognized some of his locations from the University of Toronto (he also shot at other institutes of higher larnin' in the region); the brutalist architecture hasn't changed in 40+ years!

    KING SOLOMON'S MINES (1950) 8/10

    THE DREAMERS (2003) 7/10
    Expectedly well-made film with nicely-observed characters, even if I generally hated their pretentiousness from the get-go. But Eva Green -- Hello! Smile

    ALTITUDE (2010) 7/10
    Yes, I'm giving a DTV horror movie directed by a comic book artist the same ranking as I did a film by Bertolucci, but that's just how I roll: each film on it's own terms, yet part of the larger context of the thousands I've now seen. And this ain't bad! Oh, you can punch holes in it like crazy, but for a reported $3.6 million dollars, there's a lot of quality visuals on screen. Director Kaare Andrews will probably have to toil on a couple more of these in the short term to prove he can work with grown-ups instead of hot young thangs from TV, but if he plays his cards right, a studio genre assignment some day wouldn't surprise me. The FX work here is remarkably good for the buget, even as the fact that it was outsourced to China to keep that budget low is somewhat troubling. Guess that's the way things are headed . . .

    FROZEN (2010) 7/10
    Like ALTITUDE, this is more pretty, annoying "teens" played by 20-something actors subjected to a harrowing experience. Also like ALTITUDE, it's not bad of its kind.

    BILLIE (1965) 5/10
    Bargain bin pickup from Big Lots, and sold fairly soon after watching. Utterly bland Patti Duke musical-comedy shot between seasons of her TV show that plays like a 90+ minute pilot for another one, this time with tomboy Patti joining her high school boys' track team, forcing politician dad Jim Backus to soften his "inequality for women" platform. A few unmemorable songs -- this was an independent production, so I'm guessing top-shelf songwriters were not in the budget -- are paired with some slightly-more-memorable dance numbers, although the one in the locker room's a bit more swishy-Broadway than one might typically expect to break out in such a supposedly manly location. Laughing


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    Re: Now watching...

    Post  Masterofoneinchpunch on Mon Jan 21, 2013 2:58 pm

    The Last Stand (2013: Kim Jee-woon) ***/****

    I have not seen a film on opening day since Drive. I tend to avoid the Friday crowds (and extra fees where I go), but crowds have been busy throughout the week and I had to see something. I did not have the time to go to any coffee shop so I was more coherent than usual. I made it in time for the first trailer for the latest Die Hard and later for more Bruce Willis enjoyment and to my surprise there was one for Red 2. I wonder if I should see Red 1. This was shown in the second largest theater and the crowd was somewhat noisy, but luckily about half full so I got a good seat toward the back with no one behind me. Unfortunately, there was nothing unusual about the boilerplate crowd except for the vast amount of Arnold accent imitations that permeated the theater.

    This is the first 2013 film I have seen. I was not expecting much since this is a come back film for Arnold, except that I noticed it was directed by Kim Jee-woon who had directed a horror film A Tale of Two Sisters which I had thought quite highly off and an action film The Good, The Bad, The Weird which I had liked and felt it was influenced by Hollywood action films regardless of the Spaghetti Western name. I thought he might be a good fit. Many an action aficionado will state the corruptive effect for Asian action auteurs in Hollywood such as John Woo (though some of his Hollywood output like Face Off I really like) and Ringo Lam. But with a relatively smaller budget at 30 million there might not be as much pressure from the producers, though it may have trouble making that money back with a weak opening weekend.

    Arnold is Ray Owens a local sheriff who was a successful cop in LA but wanted to work at a slower pace (in some ways this character reminds me of the Tom Selleck Stone Cold character). He has a rag tag assortment of inexperienced deputies including Luis Guzman and eventually Johnny Knoxville. Meanwhile a drug kingpin Gabriel Cortez (Eduardo Noriega: The Devil’s Backbone) is being shipped under Agent John Bannister (Forest Whitaker: Ghost Dog), but is unfortunately freed with the help of a large magnetic device and lots of hired mercenaries. He is then heading toward the border to escape through a town already partially taken over by his gang led by Burrell (Peter Stormare: Get the Gringo).

    The cinematography from Kim Ji-yong was impressive. It is not overtly shaky like much of the Michael Bay and Bourne films that has dominated and influenced the action landscape -- detrimentally in my opinion. But it is not static either. It should not be with the amount of car chases, gun fights and general mayhem.

    It is interesting how MMA style has been influencing action fight scenes over the past few years. There is a nice one here involving Arnold and Eduardo Noriega that is appropriately intelligent enough between a smaller faster man and a stronger older one.* I watched Commando the following night and I can easily say that fight finale with Vernon Wells is much worse, though The Last Stand has nowhere near the amount of one-liners. Arnold’s delivery of dialogue is a bit rusty here, but his presence is still formidable. I am curious on how The Tomb is going to turn out. I hope it is as good as this film.

    This was a good start to the 2013 season. While the plot was nothing extraordinary and the federal and local police were pretty inept in dealing with these hired mercenaries, this is a fun and fast bloody popcorn film with plenty of humor and exploding bodies

    There are no additional scenes after the credits.

    * Spoilers below: though sometimes I do wonder when someone is stunned why you do not continue the assault instead of letting them get back to their senses. This seems an extremely dangerous approach with criminal psychopaths. Of course then the fight scene would be over sooner. I thought the power slam after the arm-bar/scissor choke was quite appropriate. It is similar in that aspect to the triangle choke/power slam combination in one of my favorite fights of all-time with Donnie Yen and Collin Chou in Flash Point.

    Peter Stormare does not seem to live much in films does he?
    Brian T

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    Re: Now watching...

    Post  Brian T on Tue Feb 05, 2013 11:45 am

    The library continues to give up its riches (and its not-so-riches):

    NAKED LUNCH (1991) 8/10

    HAMLET 2 (2008) 8/10

    LOCKOUT (2012) 6/10
    Masterofoneinchpunch wrote:Peter Stormare does not seem to live much in films does he?
    I was pretty much expecting this of his role in LOCKOUT, but came away pleasantly surprised. His "A-MUR-ican" accent on the other hand . . . Smile

    AFTER.LIFE (2009) 6/10

    CRASH (1996) 7/10

    TAMPOPO (Japan, 1985) 8/10

    CROSS OF IRON (1977) 6/10

    ST. ELMO'S FIRE (1985) 4/10
    Think this was the last of the "brat pack" movies I needed to see. Had I seen this in 1985 while still in my teen years, it might have put me off getting a post-secondary education out of a naive fear that all college and university graduates become shallow, obnoxious, self-involved a**holes like every single character in this film.

    THE SPY NEXT DOOR (2010) 3/10
    Not sure what the general consensus is, but I'm thinking this has to be close to the worst film Jackie Chan made up to its release, and evidence that the man will take any project -- no matter how ill-suited to his image -- to keep his "brand" in play. The production design in this eye-rollingly formulaic film (utilizing a concept previously tackled, likewise unsuccessfully, by Vin Diesel and Hulk Hogan, among others) is so nondescript and disconnected from reality it feels like a made-for-TV pilot for some dire Disney Channel "sitcom". According to IMDB the budget was $28 million, but the money sure isn't up on the screen. Most scenes look like they were lit with a single light source. The cookie-cutter suburban houses look like they were decorated by realtors showing them to prospective clients rather than set designers who know what "lived in" looks like (Chan's house bears no trace whatsoever that its inhabited by a Chinese person). The romantic relationship between then 56-year-old Chan and 36-year-old Amber Valletta, the single mom next door, while not outside the realm of possibility, plays like it's ENTIRELY outside the realm of possibility because the writers go out of their way not to address it (or more likely wrote their script with a caucasian actor in mind) when doing so would've given the film And trick-or-treating in broad daylight? Come ON . . .

    CHRONICLE (2012) 7/10

    KILL LIST (U.K. 2011)
    Missed this one when it played TIFF, but saw Ben Wheatley's SIGHTSEERS at last year's festival. Definitely keen to see what he does next. I love his contrasting of the suburban banality of seemingly mundane people with the rather sick business they get up to on the side. KILL LIST owes a wee debt to THE WICKER MAN, but the path Wheatley takes to pay it off is wholly unique.

    THE IRON HORSE (1924) 7/10
    Colourful western epic about the birth of the transcontinental American railroad -- and apparently director John Ford's first smash hit -- comes in two versions in Fox's DVD set, domestic and international. Not sure why historian Richard Birchard's commentary (in addition to the other supplements) is on the international version, which he demonstrates is almost entirely composed of alternate takes, but it's an excellent track that justifies watching both versions.

    From the Buster Keaton At MGM set from the Warner Archive (great to discover the library stocks Archive titles!)
    SPEAK EASILY (1932) 7/10
    PARLOR, BEDROOM and BATH (1931) 6/10
    While not Keaton's best work, there's still much to savor in these comedies, particularly the broadway show finale of SPEAK EASILY.

    CINEMA PARADISO (1988) 6/10
    Overrated paean to moviegoing in a shamelessly idealized Sicilian village of the 1930's. I realize the logic in that premise, told as it is through the childhood memories of the lead character, but a little goes a long way. While such heavy-handed charm alone was apparently enough to take home the Best Foreign Film Oscar, I just felt pounded by the relentless treacle and forced "magic". It's said that Ennio Morricone's score is one of his best, but frankly it seemed more like one single theme repeated ad nauseam throughout the film every time a "moment" needed to be underlined. Hardly a flop to these eyes, but not something I particularly cherished the way the director clearly intended.

    THE THREE STOOGES (2012) 6/10

    JIRO DREAMS OF SUSHI (2011) 8/10

    THE WILD GEESE (1978) 7/10

    SEE NO EVIL (U.K., 1971) 7/10


    THE WOODS (2006) 7/10

    Proof that ANY piece of poorly-written and directed garbage can get a North American DVD release as long as it meets one lowly criteria: gore. Forget writing dialogue that people would actually say in real life, or relationships that likewise bear resemblance to those we might know from reality, or putting your "victims" in a situation where defeating and escaping from a standard issue "family of psychos" is so bloody easy you'll wonder how such nutjobs could have ever racked up a body count before the latest group of sightseers boards their vessel. Just awful. But hey, those gore effects aren't too bad. Sigh.

    BREEDERS (1986) 3/10

    SHOCK TREATMENT (1981) 6/10
    A couple of OK songs -- including the title track -- and an interesting premise in this campy followup to ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW, though the satire would've been more biting (and effective) had it been made by Americans rather than the British.

    DOGTOOTH (2009) 8/10

    From the Marlene Dietrich Glamour Collection:
    GOLDEN EARRINGS (1947) 7/10
    THE FLAME OF NEW ORLEANS (1941) 7/10
    THE DEVIL IS A WOMAN (1935) 7/10
    BLONDE VENUS (1932) 6/10
    MOROCCO (1930) 7/10


    SUPER (2010) 6/10

    From Warner's Twisted Terror boxed set, picked up cheap:
    EYES OF A STRANGER (1981) 7/10
    DEADLY FRIEND (1986) 6/10
    FROM BEYOND THE GRAVE (1974) (7/10)
    DR. GIGGLES (1992) 6/10
    Saw that last one in '92, but had very little recollection. Opinion's pretty much the same (as always)

    Brian T

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    Re: Now watching...

    Post  Brian T on Tue Feb 26, 2013 9:06 am

    Still laying the foundations here. More library finds below, with a couple of my own purchases mixed in. I'm refraining from droning on with comments since the forum's pretty much dead these days, and I can channel the time into watching more movies! Laughing

    A SERIOUS MAN (2009) 7/10

    BYE BYE BIRDIE (1963) 8/10

    DEVIL (2010) 6/10

    THIS IS CINERAMA (1952) 8/10

    Steven Seagal Double Feature Blu-ray, a $5.00 Walmart bargain that wasn't even worth that much . . .
    INTO THE SUN (2005) 3/10
    ATTACK FORCE (2006) 3/10

    THE TALL MAN (2012) 7/10

    EASTERN PROMISES (2007) 9/10

    THE GREY (2011) 7/10

    HOUSE OF 1000 CORPSES (2003) 6/10

    Something Weird triple feature:
    LUSTING HOURS (1967) 3/10
    IN HOT BLOOD (1968) 2/10


    FINDING NEVERLAND (2004) 7/10


    KONTROLL (2003; Hungary) 7/10

    J. EDGAR (2011) 7/10

    Bit surprised the library actually had this, as it's an MGM MOD title, but I've since learned they've got many more in stock, in addition to various Warner Archive titles I've spotted recent months. Smile


    GENERAL IDI AMIN DADA (1974) 8/10

    THE KARATE KID (2010) 7/10



    THE ORDER (2003) 5/10

    WHEN HARRY MET SALLY… (1989) 8/10

    FREQUENCY (2000) 8/10

    THE LAKE HOUSE (2006) 7/10


    VIVRE SA VIE (1962) 6/10

    LONELY HEARTS (2006) 7/10


    WOODSTOCK (1970; Documentary) 7/10

    THE LAST EXORCISM (2010) 8/10

    OUTRAGE (2009; Documentary) 8/10

    LAKEVIEW TERRACE (2000) 7/10

    X-MEN (2011; Anime Series) 7/10
    Phenomenally designed show, but like so many anime, it gets too damned talky for its own good.

    36 movies and one cartoon series in 21 days since my last post. Not too shabby. Winter helps . . . Smile

    IMDB ratings count: 4898
    (NOT including the vast majority of Asian films I've seen, though I'm starting to add more of those, too, when I stumble across other user lists at the site).


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    Re: Now watching...

    Post  Masterofoneinchpunch on Mon Mar 04, 2013 5:02 pm

    The Monster (1925: Roland West):

    While Lon Chaney is top-billed this is nowhere near a Lon Chaney film. It takes about a half an hour before he shows and he is specifically a supporting character. This is a comedy horror in the Old Dark House and Mad Doctor sub-genres where characters are forced to stay in a spooky sanitarium for the night against there will led by Dr. Ziska (Chaney). The lead is a nervous and frail looking Johnny Arthur a mail-order detective (and store clerk) who is caught up in the disappearance of a local person. The lead professional detective assigned to the case ignores him as well as his boss Hal (Hallam Cooley) at the store. Both him and Hal pine for the same girl Betty (Gertrude Olmstead), though Hal has an edge because of money and self-worth.

    This is an OK film. It has some laughs and some interesting odd-ball characters. It is statically directed by Roland West (Alibi) with very little to no camera movement and very little attention to composition. But one of the benefits of these MOD releases is that we get these films to watch which help in our understanding of many areas of early film and see actors we would not have otherwise (it reminds me of when the Shaw Brothers were eventually released by Celestial decades later). Here we have a film that predates The Cat and the Canary (1927) on many horror tropes from mad doctor, lunatics (Daffy Dan has an interesting habit), arms coming from hidden areas etc…While it is not as well made as the Paul Leni (both films were based on stage plays), it is always fun to see Lon Chaney.

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    Re: Now watching...

    Post  Masterofoneinchpunch on Fri Apr 05, 2013 4:17 pm

    random blathering on:

    Mama (2013: Andres Muschietti) **½/****

    Anybody see this? Anybody see this and think some of the plot reminiscent of The Woman in Black? I had not seen a horror film or ghost film in the theater in ages and I do not watch those films as much on DVD/BD as well as I once did. Also PG-13 ghost films can perturb me more than R ones that just focus on gore. This had been a top of the box office and so far is the biggest hit of the 2013 year (this won't last past February) and has had the strongest opening weekend as well.

    When you have a specter or monster film it can easily be overdone by overshowing it. Here we have a CGI phantom that is generally creepy in the first half and later gets too much screen time. At first I thought maybe this film will creep me out later (I liked some of the set-up; the scene where they found the girls was done well), but as the film progressed I started thinking CGI and what improvements could have been made to the creature. No nightmares that night.

    Other annoying aspects: The music cues were overdone here as well as a loud clash (very common in horror) would punctuate any "frightening" scene. When the scene was expected, you knew an annoying noise was coming. Something about the hipster couple annoyed me as well. While the definition of "hipster" is relative, I do think they fit the description. You get the obligatory "not quite done with the ending" ending. When will people learn not to go off into the woods by themselves when a murderous apparition is around. Wouldn't you take someone with you or at least ask? I wonder if holy water would work?

    The film was OK though. I tend to like gothic atmosphere more with ghosts so I responded to The Woman in Black more. The film just became less interesting as the mysteries were solved and it relied on special effects and noise to scare you.

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    Re: Now watching...

    Post  Masterofoneinchpunch on Fri Apr 05, 2013 4:18 pm

    Jack the Giant Slayer (2013: Bryan Singer) ***/****

    I hate having a cold. Yes it is not the flu, but then I would not be going to the theater and instead suffering in front of the television with hot tea under my nose. But with a cold you feel miserable but you still go to work (your work may not be top quality but you still go.) However, the cold does not affect a theater experience for myself as long as the theater is not overly hot or cold. In fact it helps because in the dark you concentrate on the screen. One hopes for a good film, but one will be satisfied with a decent film.

    I was on time for the movie, but I did not need to hurry because we all know there are about 10-15 minutes of trailers. It was a rather empty theater with only two other people besides me. They took my favorite seats so I sat down a couple of rows in the middle muttering obscenities about my stuffed sinuses. I was looking forward to this film since I saw Richard Roeper give it an enthusiastic review and several friends had already seen this and liked it. Plus I tend to like special effect oriented films in the theater. I first had to endure the horror of a One Direction documentary trailer about this boy band who are apparently famous and in love with themselves and each other.

    After seeing Warm Bodies a little while ago it is weird seeing Nicholas Hoult (Jack) so soon. Is he on to bigger stardom? Apparently his accent here is real since he is from England. Jack is a peasant young adult who has lost both mother and father and lives with his uncle. Times are tough and he is forced to sell a cart and a horse. The cart gets stolen while he protects the honor of a woman who turns out to be a princess (Eleanor Tomlinson). Then his horse gets traded without his consent for a bag of magic beans somewhat like the story. Jack is not having much luck with life but soon as well all know it is about to change dramatically, especially after he accidently gets one of the beans wet and it takes his house with a runaway princess up to the land of the giants.

    The arc of the story is quite predictable with the bad human Roderick played manically by Stanley Tucci (in a Mark Strong role or is Mark Strong normally in a Stanley Tucci role) who wants to rule the world with the help of beans and a magically forged crown which . He is also set to marry the princess much to the chagrin of Jack.

    I had fun with the movie. The giants are one-dimensional with no apparent female giants and I am not sure how their world actually works, but they sure are filthy. We are reminded of this when a chef is set to prepare a few humans for food as he picks his nose and eats the booger as well. Apparently there are no intellectually curious giants, but we can’t always ask for that with our adversaries. The CGI is done well and I was impressed by the pacing and effects of the later battle scenes. This is a popcorn film or at least a rainy day film or I am sick and I do not want to be reminded of my cold film.

    Some notes: This is way too scary for young kids. There is no special ending after the credits or anything interesting about the credits themselves. I like how when movies do a story within a story they use a less impressive animation technique to show that world like Hellboy II.

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    Re: Now watching...

    Post  Masterofoneinchpunch on Fri Apr 05, 2013 4:19 pm

    “Good, Bad, I’m the Oz.”

    Oz the Great and Powerful (2013: Sam Raimi) ***/****

    If you are late for a movie, the trailers do usually give you a nice 10 minute or more buffer. However, if you arrive slightly past the stated time and the line is long combined with the dreaded person who cannot make up their mind you are in for a hair-pulling and anxious wait. It reminds me of when you are driving to get somewhere and you probably would have been on time except that someone decides that a yellow light means to stop the car. It’s that kind of feeling when you watch a person at the ticket line furrow their brow, ask a whole bunch of questions which prevent the line from moving. It also does not help if you are slightly caffeinated where the world appears to be going in slow motion and you also need to use the restroom.

    I arrived at the theater just as the credits were beginning to roll, so I did not miss too much. I had to gather my senses, get my night eyes and then try to find the appropriate seat in quite a packed audience. Why did they put this in the smaller theater? A week ago I saw The Incredible Burt Wonderstone in the largest theater with only one person. That was cool. I pick an aisle seat where there was no one behind me and no one directly to the side of me. As always, someone would sit behind me a few minutes later. It was rather warm and the air smelled of popcorn, corn chips, body odor and some indiscernible cologne of the person two seats from me that reminded me of a cross between a hobo and brown sugar. It was time to focus on the film, now only if the kids would shut up. That, of course, would not happen as many with attention deficient disorders would play down the aisle, spout out impenetrable remarks and well act like children who have consumed lots of soda and candy.

    I was told to think of Army of Darkness when watching this film. It was quite an apt description because aspects of that film could be seen throughout from the way the witches moved, to the plot archetype, to Bruce Campbell. This is, of course, a prequel to The Wizard of Oz (1939) and has many nods to that film, and sets up some aspects that would happen in the earlier film, except that it eschews the singing except in one “this is not a musical” scene. But I came out of the theater thinking more of the third film in the Evil Dead trilogy than anything else.

    As one would expect it started in black in white. It also started in the 1.37 ratio as well. James Franco is Oz a con-man magician who is a womanizer and a marginal con-man. As one would expect you see several of the characters in the black and white section later in Oz. A great tornado whisked Oz away and well we all know where he was going. In Oz, he meets the cute witch Theodora (Mila Kunis) and she falls for him. We know his romantic intentions are not pure by the grimacing of his face when she mentions about long term commitments. He also finds a flying monkey companion Finley (Zach Braff) whom he saved and has sworn to forever help Oz even though he finds out quickly he is a fake. Theodora takes Oz to her sister Evanora (Rachel Weisz) who is charge of Emerald City, until the prophecy of coming wizard named Oz who has to defeat the bad witch whom Evanora states is Glinda (Michelle Williams) who apparently killed her own father. When he starts his quest to find Glinda, he also picks up a living china doll (Joey King) whose fragile family has been destroyed. The plot from here on out is quite standard once we find out who Glinda really is.

    Overall I liked this film. The actors were so-so, something felt missing in James Franco’s performance (yes I would have rather had Bruce Campbell in the lead). Also the way his character treated Theodora was quite bad. I could have imagined him saying one of the quotes from Army of Darkness: “Oh that's just what we call pillow talk, baby, that's all.” I know Captain Kirk would have hit on her in that green face and body makeup. The visual splendor of the cinematography kept me interested throughout. Since it was made for 3-D there was a bit too much of “point things toward the camera”, but still the universe was nice to look at in 2-D. It would have helped if more attention was paid to the humanistic (or porcelain, flying monkey etc…) characters. I liked the Danny Elfman score on first listen as well, but then I generally like his output. But overall the film pales in comparison to the Army of Darkness. But is does have a much better finale than the other Disney retread Alice in Wonderland (2010).
    Brian T

    Posts : 319
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    Re: Now watching...

    Post  Brian T on Sat Apr 06, 2013 5:42 pm

    Good to know somebody still check in here once in a while! Smile

    Man, I envy all your theater-going. I've really dropped the ball on that these past few months. Thankfully, some of the movies I wanted to see are still playing here and there, and my work schedule recently switched from five days to four (same number of hours, though), so I'm thinking my newly freed-up Mondays might be ideal days to disappear into some theatres and get caught up! None of this is to say I've been film-free, of course; since my last post here, I've probably scratched another huge batch of titles off my to-see list courtesy of the local library system, which continues to astound in its breadth:

    BUS 174 (2002; Brazil; Documentary) 8/10

    THE DAY OF THE JACKAL (1973) 10/10

    THE FALL (2006) 8/10
    Not a big fan of "Tarsem's" movies with their gratuitous ornamentation, but here they suited the tale quite nicely.

    HURRY SUNDOWN (1967) 6/10
    Overbaked southern race drama from Otto Preminger. At least now I know after all these years, why Leonard Maltin gave special mention to Jane Fonda's "sax solo" in this film. That Otto, always pushing buttons, but this one was probably a little TOO on the nose. Laughing

    HARLAN COUNTY U.S.A. (1976; Documentary) 10/10


    FLIGHT (2012) 9/10

    SHUTTER (2008) 5/10

    CERTIFIED COPY (2010) 8/10
    Interesting film has me keen to see other works by the director, although I'm not sure what warranted this film a spot in the Criterion Collection outside of the fact that it was one of his works.

    THE WHITE RIBBON (2009) 9/10

    NIGHT TRAIN TO MUNICH (1940) 8/10

    HIGH PLAINS DRIFTER (1973) 8/10
    One of many Eastwood westerns I still haven't seen. Time to get crackin' . . . Smile

    An unintentional double-bill due to library queue timing, but a logical one.

    PREMIUM RUSH (2012) 6/10
    Expected better from this one, frankly. Not sure what killed it at the box-office, as the elements that killed it for me weren't really touched upon in the trailer, namely the film's tacit oondoning of illegal immigration from China simply because the child in need happens to be separate from his mom (Jamie Chung), who's in the country on a student Visa. Leaves a bad taste behind in spite of some inventive cycling sequences and a colourful "dirty cop" performance from Michael Shannon.

    THE LONG RIDERS (1980) 7/10

    SOMETHING WILD (1986) 7/10
    Another one I'm not sure warrants inclusion in the Criterion Collection. It's fun and all, but the supplements seem to suggest it's mostly important for two reasons: representing Jonathan Demme's getting of his groove back after the debacle on SWING SHIFT, and introducing Ray Liotta to the world. Personally, among the various movies from this period about everyday Joes led down the rabbit hold by "wild" women, I generally prefer John Landis' INTO THE NIGHT from the year before.

    HOUSE OF SAND AND FOG (2003) 9/10

    IMMORTALS (2011) 6/10
    My second "Tarsem" movie in about as many weeks, and another one that, like his debut film THE CELL left me rather cold with all of its CGI distraction. I don't care to see his latest, MIRROR, MIRROR, but of his three prior pictures, only THE FALL seemed like an appropriate outlet for his garish style.

    PINK RIBBONS INC. (2011) 8/10

    PEOPLE ON SUNDAY (1930) 8/10

    THE GREAT GATSBY (1974) 6/10

    SILENT RUNNING (1972) 7/10

    DODGEBALL (2004) 6/10

    THE IMPOSTER (2012; Documentary) 9/10

    ELITE SQUAD (2007; Brazil) 7/10

    DARK CITY (1950) 7/10

    COMPLIANCE (2012) 8/10

    THIS IS LAW (2001; Korea) 5/10

    FIRST POSITION (2011; Documentary) 9/10

    THE WRAITH (1986) 7/10

    MAC AND ME (1988) 4/10
    My interest in "bad movies" has kept these two on my pop culture radar for the last 25 years, but I could never bring myself to rent or buy them. To get them off the list, I finally caved and bought them on Amazon for a little over a dollar apiece. Despite its legendarily gratuitous product placement, MAC AND ME at least has the benefit of being competently made -- albeit from an awful script -- while GARBAGE PAIL is one of those things so lacking in wit, convincing special effects or general talent that you have to wonder why it wasn't shut down after the first couple of days' worth of dailies came back to the honchos. Such is the power of short-lived pop-culture cash-ins, I guess . . .

    NIGHT OF THE DEMONS (2009) 5/10


    TOKYO SONATA (2007) 8/10

    IVAN'S CHILDHOOD (1962) 9/10

    TRAITOR (2008) 8/10

    SAY ANYTHING... (1989) 8/10

    AI WEIWEI: NEVER SORRY (2012; Documentary) 9/10

    THE IRON LADY (2011) 6/10

    DOMINO (2005) 3/10
    God what a steaming pile of B.S.

    HAROLD AND MAUDE (1971) 7/10


    HELLDRIVER (2010; Japan)

    DOGTOWN AND Z-BOYS (2001; Documentary) 9/10

    THE ARISTOCRATS (2005; Documentary)

    (2012; Documentary) 8/10

    INSIDE LARA ROXX (2011; Documentary) 6/10

    CLEANFLIX (2009; Documentary) 7/10

    DARK HORSE (2011) 6/10

    ODILON REDON (1995) 8/10
    CAREFUL (1992) 7/10
    ARCHANGEL (1991) 7/10
    THE HEART OF THE WORLD (2000; short) 8/10

    MADAGASCAR 3 (2012) 7/10

    MARS NEEDS MOMS (2011) 6/10

    FORCE OF EVIL (1948) 9/10
    One of the all-time best noirs.

    UNLEASHED (2005) 7/10

    SHAKE, RATTLE and ROCK! (1994; TV movie) 4/10
    Part of a series that remade old Sam Arkoff teen movies from the 1950's, and not very good. The 8-movie set I got contains another five or six from this series, so here's hoping at least some of 'em are better than this one.

    PIRATE RADIO (2009) 8/10

    IMDB ratings count: 4,985
    (not including HK movies and tons of other Asian stuff).

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    Re: Now watching...

    Post  Cash on Sun May 19, 2013 10:26 am

    Demons (1985) B

    A fun-sized "Dawn of the Dead" (1978) from Lamberto Bava who began his career in the 2nd Unit of "Kill Baby, Kill" (1966), "Twitch of the Death Nerve" (1971, aka "A Bay of Blood"), [supposedly] "Cannibal Holocaust" (1980), "Inferno" (1980), and "Tenenbre" (1980).

    Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday (1993) F

    The least talked about installment in the bemusedly shaggy dog franchise and with good reason: the eponymous Jason isn't really in the film, per se, and as an added misnomer -- neither is hell! Nor was this the final "Friday"!

    The Ghost Breakers (1940) B+

    The Master (2012) B

    If not terribly eventful a nearly peerless showcase of amazing talents in the year 2012. One may benefit from spending some time becoming acquainted with non-partisan sources on L. Ron Hubbard prior to viewing the film. I wonder if not like a handful of other Anderson films "The Master" won't hit me harder upon a repeat viewing years down the road.

    Bud Abbot Lou Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948) C+

    It works as a Universal monster movie, Boris Karloff's absence notwithstanding, but is woefully inconsistent as a comedy. Supposedly Abbot & Costello both hated the script, refusing to sign on, but were lured back to the table by promises of more money and creative control. The second and last time Bela Lugosi would be credited as Dracula. Karloff was actually a huge fan of the comedians but refused to take part in the film feeling overt comedy would taint Frankenstein's legacy -- going so far as to initially refusing to see the film as well -- but ironically agreed to take part in the film's marketing campaign.

    The Brood (1979) B

    Black Sunday (1960) B

    I would love to know where I can find an original cut of this film in Italian with English subtitles. Still, not even English dubbing can blunt the impact of the opening sequence.

    The Possession (2012) C+

    The first half is an amiable "Exorcist" rip-off; the second half stoops to stunts pulled in "Exorcist: The Beginning" (2004).

    The Abominable Dr. Phibes (1971) C+

    21 Jump Street (2012) B

    A surprisingly entertaining mockery of the popular '80s television show.

    A Face in the Crowd (1957) A

    Piranha 3DD (2012) F

    Its predecessor was gratuitous but if nothing else at least its proclivities were rarely insipid. This barely 75 minute sequel (83 with outtake reel and additional credits) feels like a handful of scenes and subplots understandably dropped from the first film. Sadly, the sequel's juvenile title is the most entertaining component of this horrible movie.

    The Last Airbender (2010) F
    The Twilight Saga: New Moon (2009) F

    Curiosity killed this cat (twice)...

    The Human Centipede II (Full Sequence) (2011) F

    Director Tom Six seemingly is rewarding masochistic fans of the predecessor and punishing his critics simultaneously by saying "you haven't seen anything yet..."

    Over the Top (1987) F

    "Rocky V" (1990) prototype; Stallone discussing a ritual he performs in the [arm wrestling] ring before taking on an opponent has got to be in some kind of bonehead dialogue pantheon somewhere.

    The Long Good Friday (1980) A-

    A thoughtful gangster film. Looks like, rather, sounds like John Woo bit part of Bob Hoskins's theme for his "A Better Tomorrow" soundtrack.

    American: The Bill Hicks Story (2009) B

    Ted (2012) B-

    Seth McFarland is a world class hack but I have to admit after being coaxed into the theater by friends I laughed more times than I didn't which is more than I can say for any given episode of "The Family Guy."

    The Dark Knight Rises (2012) B+

    Easily my favorite of Nolan's Batman trilogy and along with the perceeding year's "X-Men: First Class" are two of the only superhero comic book adaptations to really do it for me (I prefer dramatic graphic novel adaptations a la "American Splendor" (2003), "Ghost World" (2001), "A History of Violence" (2005), "Road to Perdition" (2002) etc.).

    Bully (2011) B+

    I left wondering if the filmmakers had taken a page from the Michael Moore playbook when editing the sequences with school officials (who come off with an incompetence so uncanny it caused a number of audible outbursts from the very conservative audience I saw the film with at a local revival theater). If not, both the principal and especially the assistant principal deserve to be thrown down a flight of stairs.

    Cocktail (1988) D

    We Need to Talk About Kevin (2011) A-

    Invincible (2006) C-

    Disgustingly Disney.

    Anatomy of a Murder (1959) A

    The note left by Ben Gazzara read aloud by Jimmy Stewart during the film's epilogue delivers the kind of knockout we just don't see much of anymore.

    Paranormal Activity 3 (2011) C+

    A large improvement over its predecessor which was little more than a retread of the first blockbuster but then it has to go and foul everything up in the last reel. Still, the camera mounted to the oscillating fan was one of the series' better moments.

    The Amazing Spider-Man (2012) C+

    Too soon and made only in the name of commerce but even if it hadn't been this would've still made for a fairly underwhelming first installment in the Spider-Man franchise.

    Moonrise Kingdom (2012) C+

    Easily last year's most overrated film. Wes Anderson, once again, is more concerned with mice-en-scene than he is telling a story which is too bad because 10-15 years ago he was capable of doing both ("Rushmore," "The Royal Tenenbaums").

    Argo (2012) B

    I saw this one before the awards machine kicked into overdrive which has only caused more befuddlement on my part as time goes on as to why so much fawning over what is basically a good political thriller with a sense of humor?

    Looper (2012) A-

    I left the theater eating crow; one of last year's better films, though I'm not sure it reached the level of beauty for me as it has for others but this is great sci-fi storytelling (flawed logic and all). I might have enjoyed the film even more had the filmmakers not made the very poor decision to alter Joseph Gordon-Levitt's appearance through make-up and prosthetics to align his aesthetic with co-star Bruce Willis. It never works and is always distracting.

    Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory (2011) A-

    I didn't think a documentary comprised of two parts archival footage from a case I know forward and backwards would be very entertaining but I was wrong. Likely, I will be fascinated by the West Memphis 3 for as long as I'm around.

    The Thing (2011) B-

    I never thought "The Thing from Another World" (1951) or John Carpenter's 1982 remake were all that great to begin with which is probably why I didn't hate this much-maligned remake parading as a prequel to the popular cult film.

    Armadillo (2010) A-

    Hot Rod (2007) C-

    I found myself as a fan of The Lonely Island as well as this film's inclusion in the AV Club's [now sadly defunct] New Cult Cannon section reluctantly picking this up from the library. It wasn't half bad. Unfortunately, the other half was.

    The Hunger Games (2012) B

    Surprisingly involving and often intense commentary on reality TV by way of "Battle Royal" (2000).

    One Nite in Mongkok (2004) B

    Ride with the Devil (Director's Cut) (1999) C+

    The least seen least talked about Ang Lee film and that is hardly a crime: "Ride with the Devil" is gorgeous to look at and features a number of fine performances by supporting players Jim Caviezel, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Simon Baker, Jeffrey Wright, et al but at a certain point it just runs out of steam and morphs into a lame duck romance.

    Eating Raoul (1982) B-

    The Hurricane (1999) C+

    Only in Hollywood...Denzel Washington, as usual, is great though.

    The Amityville Horror (2005) D+

    Just as ridiculous as the 1979 original (maybe more so considering just how miscast it is) and Phillip Baker Hall looks just as humiliated as Rod Steiger did 26 years ago.

    Margaret (2011) A-

    God bless the folks who saved this film from an uncertain fate of possibly never being finished or finding distribution. Supposedly, the 186 min extended cut is even more rewarding.

    The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (2007) B

    Works the best when it's not trying to ape Malick (which is does intermittently).

    Watchmen (2009) C+

    I've yet to read the source material which may indicate to some why my reaction is so generous but the first half of this film is just perfect and then it's all downhill from there...

    Django Unchained (2012) C+

    Quentin Tarantino seemingly had a lot of ideas for his Old South spaghetti western and unfortunately he used them all.

    Santa's Slay (2005) F

    Safety Not Guaranteed (2012) C+

    The always adorably incredulous Aubrey Plaza and the increasingly accessible Mark Duplass are spot-on as are their on-screen peers but I'm exhausted by this kind of low budget off-kilter comedy that has become as redundant as the film's twist ending.

    The Show Must Go On (2007) B+

    Thriller: A Cruel Picture (1973) C+

    I would have enjoyed this popular grindhouse flick more had the rape scenes not been treated like pornography.

    Ebola Syndrome (1996) B-

    Osombie (2012) D

    King of Comedy (1999) C+

    Southern Comfort (1981) A-

    Walter Hill liberally borrows from his own "Warriors" formula and relocates from the concrete jungles of New York City to the infinitely monochromatic swamps of Louisiana. The Warriors become a squad of "weekend warriors" who are running a drill deep in Cajun country with little live ammo and through some boorish behavior offend a group of locals and are subsequently hunted day and night. Surprisingly effective for what is really just a retread of ground already covered.

    Made in Hong Kong (1997) B

    Beasts of the Southern Wild (2012) B+

    Zero Dark Thirty (2012) A-

    A lot of audience reaction as well as my own felt as if something was missing but what is here is pretty solid.

    The Bamboo House of Dolls (1973) C-

    It's not immediately apparent why this WIP film is still remembered 40 years after its release.

    Auschwitz: The Nazis and "The Final Solution" (2005) A-

    Half a Loaf of Kung Fu (1980) C+

    Jackie was right -- this movie ain't half bad!

    The Impostor (2012) B+

    Occasionally succumbs to over-stylization but there's a fascinating tale underneath some of the unnecessary technique.

    End of Watch (2012) B

    Dredd (2012) C

    A complete and utter lack of exposition and little to no substance turn this sharp looking 3D adaption of the popular British comic strip into a big budget video game without joysticks. Lena Headey co-stars as a futuristic Pablo Escobar and is the film's real standout.

    The Invisible War (2012) B+

    Gun Crazy (1950) B

    Rio Bravo (1959) B+

    A really good western but perhaps I was expecting a little more considering just how influential its been to a number of filmmakers.

    Knife in the Water (1959) A-

    Badlands (1973) C+

    Gorgeous but dull though Martin Sheen, Sissy Spacek, and Warren Oates are all great.

    Sinister (2012) B

    A good horror movie -- kind of hard to come by these days -- with some incredibly unnerving super 8 footage.

    Germany Year Zero (1948) A-

    Beauty and the Beast (1946) A

    Elite Squad (2007) B-

    Embarrassingly I found entertainment in this very controversial Brazilian SWAT thriller with a Machiavellian heart.

    Swamp Thing (1982) C+

    Another so-so Wes Craven film. Supposedly Craven took on the task as a way of proving he could handle a studio film. I'll give it this: he gives "Swamp Thing" a genuinely sinister edge.

    Ashes of Time Redux (2008) A-

    Either Wong Kar-wai's redux fixes all the problems I had with his polarizing 1994 wuxia (that I haven't bothered with for years) or after all this time I have finally connected with "Ashes of Time."

    Le Cercle Rouge (1970) A-

    Spring Breakers (2012) C

    Co-star James Franco is out-of-this-world as the small-time rapper/drug dealer Alien but that's about it. In fact, some of this picture is just downright deplorable at times.

    Insomnia (2002) C+

    A gentler remake of the far superior Norwegian thriller. I don't want to say Robin Williams was miscast because he's capable of the role but he fails to bring to it the necessary subtleties.

    The Lady Vanishes (1938) A

    Lolita (1962) A-

    When this film is good -- it's really good but it does sort of begin to run out of gas at different times.

    The Four Feathers (1939) A-

    The Jackie Robinson Story (1950) C+

    Campy, but I somehow doubt "42" (2013) will prove the superior telling of Robinson's story.

    Evil Dead (2013) B-

    The original "Evil Dead" trilogy never worked for me like they did for so many: I watched them, enjoyed them, noted the inspiration, and moved on which might explain why I wasn't too offended by this above average new millennium remake.

    The River (1951) A

    "I Know Where I'm Going!" (1945) A

    Another charming Powell & Pressburger masterpiece.

    Room 237 (2012) B

    Impressionistic documentary about what [possibly] lies beneath the surface of Stanley Kubrick's "The Shining" (1980). Supposedly, someone who worked on the film remarked that 80% of the theories in this amusingly assembled documentary are pure bunk. I left reminded of how films should be seen: in the theater as no television set no matter how large can do the scope of the Overlook Hotel justice.

    The Place Beyond the Pines (2012) B

    Split into three acts: the first is excellent, the second is great, but the third is heavy-handed, hackneyed, and overly ambitious though never boring.

    Sansho the Bailiff (1954) A

    Film critic Robin Wood remarked in an interview with Criterion that the film is in strong contention for the greatest movie ever made. I don't know about that but this is a wonderful film about kindness and cruelty.
    Brian T

    Posts : 319
    Join date : 2011-02-16

    Re: Now watching...

    Post  Brian T on Wed May 29, 2013 4:39 pm

    Hey Cash, good to see you're still kicking around. I see a fair bit of overlap in our viewing habits.

    Apologies for the lack of updates. Well, to both of you good souls who still bother to post here, at least! Smile Family issues have been eating up a lot of time during the past five or six weeks. I find movies are a good balm in times like these, so I've tried to keep working through my stacks as time permits (which isn't nearly often enough), supplemented with a few odds 'n ends from the library as usual. So here's the latest:

    WINGS (1927) 9/10
    Owned this years ago -- on Betamax, of all formats! -- but never felt like I'd TRULY seen it until I watched the Blu-ray. Smile

    CYCLONE (1987) 5/10
    ALIENATOR (1990) 3/10
    EYE OF THE TIGER (1986) 6/10
    EXTERMINATOR 2 (1984) 4/10
    A quartet of movies I've wanted to see since the days of VHS rentals but never got around to until Shout! Factory's recently-released 4 movie collection. CYCLONE proved fairly conclusively that Heather Thomas claim to fame would always be her appearance in the opening credits of TV's FALL GUY. Alienator was lame and the alleged cult item EXTERMINATOR 2 wasn't much better (and was plainly the recipient of prodigious retooling in post). Only EYE OF THE TIGER has enough of a production pedigree (and budget) to make it one of the better DTV revenge exploitation shows of its era.

    THE HOUSE OF THE DEVIL (2009) 7/10

    DEAD SNOW (2009) 6/10

    Another MGM 3-pack of movies that evaded me on VHS in days of yore:
    AMERICAN NINJA (1985) 6/10
    RAGE OF HONOR (1987) 6/10
    REVENGE OF THE NINJA (1985) 6/10

    And another blast-from-the-past curiosity often seen on, but never rented from, various mom 'n pop shops decades past:
    GYMKATA (1985) 3/10

    GOIN' DOWN THE ROAD (1970) 9/10

    MONSIEUR LAZHAR (2011) 9/10

    COOL AND THE CRAZY (1994) 5/10
    ROADRACERS (1994) 6/10
    GIRLS IN PRISON (1994) 3/10
    RUNAWAY DAUGHTERS (1994) 6/10
    Four TV movies from Showtime's REBEL HIGHWAY series that re-imagined AIP drive-in gems from the 1950's. These four plus one other, SHAKE, RATTLE & ROCK are five of the eight shows included in an Echo Bridge "Movies for the Man Cave" bargain bin collection, which offers an expedient way to scratch a bunch of them off your list in short order. Of the bunch, only Robert Rodriguez' ROADRACERS and Joe Dante's RUNAWAY DAUGHTERS show any indication that their makers had tongues firmly planted in cheeks, but the deliberately ultra low budgets make all of these look a bit TOO much like vanilla TV movies, especially in the colour denied most of the AIP films they tip their hats to. Only Ralph Bakshi, in COOL/CRAZY, manages to imbue his episode with a vibrant palette that attests to his years in animation. Oddly enough, not long after watching these, I read that AIP founder Sam Arkoff's son is planning to once again make over several titles in his dad's library, again with "name" directors and casts, and somewhat more money than was thrown at the REBEL HIGHWAY series.

    TOOMORROW (1970) 6/10
    Interesting production history behind this sincere but slightly misguided "youth" picture (or at least "youth" as envisioned by older folks behind the camera wanting very much to seem "with it" and "now") which cast young musicians -- including relative newcomer Olivia Newton John -- in a "far-out" liberal arts sci-fi musical its producers hoped would launch a multi-media phenomenon along the lines of The Monkees (their producer served the same capacity here). The fairly large budget is on the screen -- particularly evident in some dynamic spaceship interiors by effects ace John Stearns -- and the " rebellious" music's actually pretty good of its kind (as is Hugo Montenegro's score), but for various reasons (which are worth Googling) it barely saw the light of day after a strictly limited engagement in one London cinema over 40 years ago. Definitely deserves a better DVD release, though. Pickwick's UK edition was sourced from a smeary, extra-generational VHS dub.

    THE BLACK HOUSE (Japan; 1999) 6/10

    DISCO GODFATHER (1979) 4/10
    This was actually a revisit. Saw this probably 20 years ago on VHS with a pal, but couldn't remember it well enough to rate it at IMDB. Few of star Rudy Ray Moore's regional exploitation pictures from this era rank very highly, but their fascinating to watch, and this one's particularly fun.

    ANONYMOUS (2011) 6/10

    SLEEPING BEAUTY (2011) 5/10

    The Lionel Rogosin collection:
    ON THE BOWERY (Docudrama; 1956) 8/10
    GOOD TIMES, WONDERFUL TIMES (Documentary; 1966) 7/10
    OUT (Documentary; 1957) 7/10

    TAKING LIVES (2004) 5/10

    PARADISE LOST 3: PURGATORY (Documentary; 2011) 9/10
    Fantastic conclusion to the series.

    SOMETHING'S GONNA LIVE (Documentary; 2010) 8/10
    THE MAN ON LINCOLN'S NOSE (Documentary; 2000) 8/10

    THE BLOT (1921) 8/10

    THE FACULTY (1998) 7/10

    LOOKER (1981) 7/10

    HATFIELDS & McCOYS (Miniseries; 2012) 8/10

    RED DAWN (2012) 5/10
    Even if they HADN'T switched the invaders from Chinese to North Korean in this, it still would've broken the boundaries of credibility just as badly as its predecessor.

    WOMEN IN THE NIGHT (1948) 4/10

    And finally a few theatrical screenings taken in before the family issues took over:

    IRON MAN 3 (2013) 9/10

    G.I. JOE: RETALIATION (2013) 7/10

    A GOOD DAY TO DIE HARD (2013) 6/10
    This didn't really seem like a DIE HARD movie to me as much as a relentless onslaught of ridiculously oversized and tiresome action sequences with nothing to make us fear for the safety of either the heroes or the general public, both of which are cornerstones of all the previous DIE HARD movies.

    IMDB ratings count: 5,053
    (not including HK movies and tons of other Asian stuff).
    Brian T

    Posts : 319
    Join date : 2011-02-16

    Re: Now watching...

    Post  Brian T on Tue Jul 02, 2013 12:52 pm

    Since things are pretty quiet here, I won't waste time discussing these. Just another list for posterity  Smile :


    Fast & Furious 6 (2013) 8/10
    Star Trek Into Darkness (2013) 9/10
    Man of Steel (2013) 7/10
    Oblivion (2013) 8/10


    Le Fils (2002) 9/10

    L'Enfant (2005) 9/10

    Tiny Furniture (2010) 7/10

    Creative Nonfiction (2009) 6/10

    The Romantic Englishwoman (1975) 7/10

    Family Guy: Blue Harvest (2007) 5/10

    The Tailor of Panama (2001) 8/10

    Enter the Void (2009) 5/10

    Confidential File: Horror Comic Books (1955) 7/10

    L'âge d'or (1930) 8/10

    The Invisible War (2012; Documentary) 9/10

    Big Boys Gone Bananas!* (2011; Documentary) 7/10

    Bully (2011; Documentary) 8/10

    Gray Matter (2004; Documentary) 7/10

    Executive Suite (1954) 8/10

    War (2007) 6/10

    The Ice Storm (1997) 8/10

    Quadrophenia (1979) 8/10

    Everything's Gone Green (2006) 8/10

    A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas (2011) 6/10

    Puss in Boots (2011; Animated) 6/10

    Snitch (2013) 7/10

    Le Corbeau: The Raven (1943) 9/10

    Tales of the Night (2011; Animated) 7/10

    Princesse Tam-Tam (1935) 6/10

    Behind the Burly Q (2010; Documentary) 6/10

    Paranormal Activity 4 (2012) 5/10

    Rough Crossings (2007; Docudrama) 7/10

    The Kid with a Bike (2011) 9/10

    W.R. - Misterije organizma (Mysteries of the Organism) (1971; Documentary) 7/10

    In Cold Blood (1967) 9/10

    Resident Evil: Retribution (2012) 6/10

    School of Rock (2003) 8/10

    Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron (2002; Animated) 6/10

    Help! (1965) 8/10

    Rock 'n' Roll High School (1979) 7/10

    The Muppets (2011) 8/10

    7 Plus Seven (1970; Documentary) 9/10

    Seven Up! (1964; Documentary) 8/10

    Footloose (2011) 6/10

    Eragon (2006) 5/10

    Jack Ketchum's The Girl Next Door (2007) 5/10

    The Hunter (2011) 7/10

    The Bourne Legacy (2012) 7/10

    Halloween II (2009) 4/10

    The Last Stand (2013) 7/10

    The Darkest Hour (2011) 6/10

    Badlands (1973) 8/10

    Eureka Seven: The Movie - Good Night, Sleep Tight, Young Lovers (2009) 6/10

    Haywire (2011) 7/10

    IMDB count: 5125
    (includes movies watched in the past but only rated recently)[/b][/b][/b][/b]

    Posts : 63
    Join date : 2011-02-16
    Location : Central Illinois

    Re: Now watching...

    Post  Cash on Mon Jul 15, 2013 9:50 pm

    Let's keep it going...

    Doctor Zhivago (1965) B+

    If only I could rate this film on aesthetic pleasures alone...

    Mud (2012) A-

    Thus far the summer's best film eschews the plotting of the very films slotted for the season.

    Key Largo (1948) B+

    Streetwise (1984) A-

    This is the End (2013) B-

    Takes an internet short and stretches it as far as it could possibly go without snapping.

    Smokey and the Bandit (1977) B-

    All things considered a fairly painless...even enjoyable white trash classic that up until recently was still on the 250 largest grossing films (adjusted for inflation) in domestic box office history.

    Man of Steel (2013) C+

    We've finally progressed to a point to where technology can effectively ape what is on the page (oh, if only we had these special effects 13 years ago) so what a shame it is that everything else feels so...confused. Zack Snider cranks out yet another triumph of visuals and tragedy of script writing.

    'Gator Bait (1974) B

    Spellbound (1945) B-

    Hitchcock and Dali...could have...should have...come up with something better than this.

    Silver Linings Playbook (2012) B+

    World War Z (2013) B-

    Good enough. I've never read the source material. In fact, I only saw it because I had guests staying with me over the holiday weekend and after dinner we needed something big on the big screen. I'll give it this: following a year of whispers forecasting box office doom it has prevailed and found an audience.

    Iron Man 3 (2013) C+

    At least Robert Downey, Jr. never misses a beat. I'm still torn over The Mandarin twist -- meaning I could go either way; love or hate.

    The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934) A-

    Frances Ha (2012) B+

    Clearly inspired by Lena Dunham's impressionable debut feature "Tiny Furniture" (2010) and her deservedly hailed HBO series "Girls" but sturdy enough to stand on its own two feet.

    Posts : 63
    Join date : 2011-02-16
    Location : Central Illinois

    Re: Now watching...

    Post  Cash on Sun Aug 18, 2013 2:11 pm

    Still going...

    The Conjuring (2013) C+

    Inspired by actual events...and "The Birds," "The Haunting," "The Evil Dead," "Poltergeist," "The Amittyville Horror," "The Sixth Sense," and probably another half-dozen I've forgotten.

    Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God (2012) A-

    A la mode de Amy Berg's "Deliver Us from Evil" (and just as nauseating). Coincidentally, I turned on the TV afterwards in time to see a mob of subordinate Brazilian Catholics chasing the Pope's motorcade down the street and felt the bile creeping up the back of my throat (again).

    Fruitvale Station (2013) A

    Unfortunately, a timely film arriving on the heels of the baffling verdict in the Trayvon Martin case. While the filmmakers are hardly beyond employing an artistic license here for the sake of narrative flow unlike "A Beautiful Mind," "Blow," "The Hurricane," "JFK," "Monster," "Murder in the First," etc. they don't scrub the protagonist's jacket in an attempt to make Oscar Grant (a restrained and unarmed subway passenger who was shot and killed by BART authorities on New Years Day 2009) appear saintly.

    Ugetsu (1953) A-

    A Woman Under the Influence (1974) C+

    Schmaltz has never been this exhausting or rather if it has been it's never been this widely acclaimed.

    Kairo (2001, aka "Pulse") C+

    I likely wouldn't have bothered but the film's modest cult following among horror buffs over here finally made me cave. It has the look, the message, but not the feel. Apparently the 2006 remake (penned by Wes Craven) is universally despised for behaving like an American remake of a popular Japanese horror film. I'll never know.

    West of Memphis (2012) B

    Speaking of Amy Berg she gives a good 147 min summary of an 18 year long nightmare that began with the disappearance of three Arkansas 8-year-old boys and concluded with a bizarre legal maneuver that was probably more relieving for those directly involved than it was satisfying. Notable at least for featuring a handful of interviews with people connected to the original trials who were so angered by the outcome of "Paradise Lost: The ChildMurders at Robin Hood Hills" (1996) they refused to take part in any of the sequels. Unfortunately, due to time constraints many of the controversial case's nuances aren't present or if they are they're understandably marginalized in attempt to keep things moving in a forward progression if not to make way for some disturbing possibilities.

    The Central Park Five (2012) A-

    Celebrated documentary filmmaker Ken Burns teams with his daughter Sarah for this all-too-familiar case of five teenage friends who were one-by-one coerced into confessing to a brutal near-fatal rape in Central Park circa 1989, and the State who even after the discovery that the DNA didn't match any of the five defendants proceeded and successfully prosecuted all five teens anyways.
    Brian T

    Posts : 319
    Join date : 2011-02-16

    Re: Now watching...

    Post  Brian T on Thu Oct 10, 2013 7:28 pm

    . . . and going!  Smile 

    With apologies for my absence. It's been a heckuva spring/summer, but fall has been relatively sedate. Nonetheless, I pressed on through it all thanks to the Toronto Public Library (almost everything below is from them, with a few sprinklings of my bargain bin finds). Not gonna comment much since so few actually read this, but if any of you folks are still out there, I'm still keen on seeing more viewing lists. Wink

    Hopefully I can be a visit more regularly moving forward, whether I'm talking to myself or not!

    And eventually, I'll be back to Hong Kong cinema once this larnin' curve's mostly over and done with . . .

    Peeper 1976 5/10
    Twist Around the Clock 1961 5/10
    Don't Knock the Twist 1962 5/10
    Transmorphers: Fall of Man 2009 4/10
    Elephant White 2011 5/10

    The Time Travelers 1964 7/10
    Beyond the Time Barrier 1960 6/10
    The Amazing Transparent Man 1960 5/10
    The Neanderthal Man 1953 5/10

    Death Collector 1988 4/10
    Posed for Murder 1989 4/10
    The Disturbance 1990 6/10

    THREE WICKED MELODRAMAS (Gainsborough/Eclipse)
    Madonna of the Seven Moons 1945 7/10
    The Man in Grey 1943 8/10
    The Wicked Lady 1945 8/10

    Gravity 2013 9/10
    Lincoln 2012 9/10
    The Sapphires 2012 7/10
    Blindsight 2006 (Documentary) 8/10
    The Last Exorcism Part II 2013 4/10
    The Last Mogul 2005 (Documentary) 8/10
    Tokyo! 2008 8/10
    Parker 2013 7/10
    Layer Cake 2004 8/10
    Murder on the Orient Express 1974 8/10
    Men in Black 3 2012 7/10
    The Dictator 2012 6/10

    NORMAN MAILER (Eclipse)
    Beyond the Law 1968 3/10
    Wild 90 1968 3/10
    Maidstone 1970 5/10
    Man, these were torture, but I got through 'em. Had to be done.

    Chronicle of a Summer 1961 (Documentary) 8/10
    Un été +50 2011 (Documentary) 7/10
    Clash 2009 (Vietnam) 6/10
    The Brotherhood of Satan 1971 6/10
    Gangster Squad 2013 6/10
    The Revenge of Frankenstein 1958 7/10
    The Return of the Vampire 1944 6/10

    Molly and the Ghost 1991 3/10
    Run Like Hell 1995 3/10
    The Killer Likes Candy 1968 6/10

    The Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard 2009 4/10
    I Am Number Four 2011 5/10
    Hotel Transylvania 2012 7/10
    Brute Force 1947 8/10
    Shame 2011 8/10
    Bronson 2008 7/10
    The Queen 2006 8/10
    Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired 2008 (Documentary) 9/10
    Killing Season 2013 7/10
    Mr. Majestyk 1974 8/10
    Pickup on South Street 1953 9/10
    Now You See Me 2013 8/10
    B. Monkey 1998 6/10
    Malevolent 2002 5/10
    Venom 2005 4/10
    eXistenZ 1999 7/10
    The Hole 2001 5/10
    The Tower 2012 (South Korea) 7/10
    Hunger 2008 8/10
    Water Lilies 2007 8/10
    Timerider: The Adventure of Lyle Swann 1982 7/10

    Linda and Abilene 1969 4/10
    The Ecstasies of Women 1969 3/10
    Black Love 1971 3/10

    Atlas Shrugged II: The Strike 2012 5/10
    Atlas Shrugged: Part I 2011 5/10
    The Expendables 2 2012 7/10
    War Horse 2011 9/10
    The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl 2005 4/10
    Hysteria 2011 7/10
    Uncertainty 2009 6/10
    The Talented Mr. Ripley 1999 8/10
    Ministry of Fear 1944 7/10

    Sunshine on Leith 2013 (Scotland) 8/10
    Cold Eyes 2013 (South Korea) 7/10
    Moebius 2013 (South Korea) 7/10
    Rigor Mortis 2013 (Hong Kong) 7/10
    Blind Detective 2013 (Hong Kong) 6/10
    Bends 2013 (Hong Kong) 7/10
    The Strange Colour of Your Body's Tears 2013 (Belgium/France) 6/10
    Soul 2013 (Taiwan) 6/10
    A Touch of Sin 2013 (China) 7/10
    Man of Tai Chi 2013 (China/USA) 6/10
    Filthy Gorgeous: The Bob Guccione Story 2013 (Documentary) 9/10
    The Green Inferno 2013 (USA) 7/10
    Like Father, Like Son 2013 (Japan) 9/10
    Fake (Saibi) 2013 (South Korea) 8/10
    Tim's Vermeer 2013 (USA; Documentary) 9/10 (Expect Oscar buzz for this one!)
    Real 2013 (Japan) 6/10
    Visitors 2013 (South Korea) 7/10
    All Cheerleaders Die 2013 (USA) 6/10
    Unbeatable 2013 (Hong Kong) 8/10

    Rolling Thunder 1977 8/10
    The Cocoanuts 1929 6/10
    Monkey Business 1931 8/10
    Fame 1980 6/10
    Mama 2013 8/10
    Cedar Rapids 2011 8/10
    Norma Rae 1979 8/10
    Hipsters 2008 7/10
    American Masters: Johnny Carson: King of Late Night 2012 9/10
    Olympus Has Fallen 2013 7/10

    The Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975 2011 (Documentary) 7/10
    The Murder of Fred Hampton 1971 (Documentary) 7/10

    The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser 1974 8/10
    Northfork 2003 6/10
    Pandora and the Flying Dutchman 1951 7/10
    Student Bodies 1981 5/10
    The Boys from Brazil 1978 7/10
    Bananas!* 2009 (Documentary) 7/10

    Caesar and Cleopatra 1945 7/10
    Androcles and the Lion 1952 7/10
    Major Barbara 1941 9/10

    Dream House 2011 5/10
    The Man with the Iron Fists 2012 5/10
    Valhalla Rising 2009 7/10
    Sinister 2012 7/10
    Rock of Ages 2012 7/10
    Dark Skies 2013 6/10
    The Celebration 1998 9/10
    The Autobiography of Nicolae Ceausescu 2010 (Documentary) 9/10
    The Birdcage 1996 7/10
    Ballad of Narayama 1958 8/10
    Detropia 2012 (Documentary) 6/10
    One for the Money 2012 5/10

    Time Without Pity 1957 7/10
    Pete-Roleum and His Cousins 1939 (Short Film) 6/10

    Why Be Good? Sexuality & Censorship in Early Cinema 2007 (Documentary) 7/10

    Poto and Cabengo 1980 (Documentary) 7/10
    My Crasy Life 1992 (Documentary) 7/10
    Routine Pleasures 1986 (Documentary) 7/10

    The Mill and the Cross 2011 9/10
    Purple Noon 1960 9/10
    The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey 2012 8/10
    Tatsumi 2011 8/10
    Side Effects 2013 8/10
    We Need to Talk About Kevin 2011 8/10
    Phantom 2013 7/10
    The Pajama Game 1957 8/10
    ParaNorman 2012 8/10
    Abduction 2011 5/10
    Garden of Words 2013 8/10
    Nanook of the North 1922 (Documentary) 9/10
    Point Blank 1967 9/10
    Good Neighbours 2010 5/10
    Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters 2013 6/10
    Straw Dogs 1971 8/10
    The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert 1994 8/10
    A Necessary Death 2008 6/10
    Gregory Crewdson: Brief Encounters 2012 8/10
    Silent Hill: Revelation 3D 2012 5/10
    Gone 2012 4/10
    Mr. Bean's Holiday 2007 7/10
    Picture Bride 1994 9/10
    Caprice 1967 6/10
    Caché 2005 10/10
    Brake 2012 7/10

    EARLY KUROSAWA (Eclipse)
    Sanshiro Sugata 1943 8/10
    The Most Beautiful 1944 7/10
    Sanshiro Sugata II 1945 8/10
    The Men Who Tread on the Tiger's Tail 1945 8/10

    December 1991 7/10
    The Resident 2011 6/10
    Girl Model 2011 (Documentary) 7/10
    A Cat in Paris 2010 8/10
    The Russians Are Coming! The Russians Are Coming! 1966 7/10

    SABU! (Eclipse)
    Elephant Boy 1937 7/10
    The Drum 1938 7/10
    Jungle Book 1942 8/10

    Killer of Sheep 1979 8/10
    My Brother's Wedding 1983 7/10
    Several Friends 1969 (short) 7/10
    The Horse 1973 (short 7/10

    Pee-wee's Big Adventure 1985 7/10
    Wicked Lake 2008 3/10
    Pacific Rim 2013 9/10

    The Battle of Chile: The Insurrection of the Bourgeoisie 1975 9/10
    The Battle of Chile: The Coup d'Etat 1976 9/10
    The Battle of Chile: The Power of the People 1979 8/10
    Chile, Obstinate Memory 1997 (Documentary) 8/10

    Code Unknown 2000 8/10
    Come and See 1985 (Russia) 9/10

    A Short Film About Killing 1988 8/10
    From a Night Porter's Point of View 1979 (Documentary) 8/10

    The Headless Woman 2008 7/10
    Walkabout 1971 9/10
    The Endless Summer 1966 8/10
    Catch-22 1970 7/10
    Moulin Rouge! 2001 7/10
    Zombie Nightmare 1987 2/10
    Omen III: The Final Conflict 1981 6/10
    Cats Don't Dance 1997 7/10
    Side by Side 2012 (Documentary) 9/10
    Planet of Snail 2011 (Documentary; South Korea) 8/10
    The Wizard of Gore 2007 6/10
    Elephant 2003 8/10
    The Omen 2006 6/10

    The Street (NFB Short Film) 1976 8/10
    Every Child (NFB Short Film) 1979 8/10
    The Sand Castle (NFB Short Film) 1977 8/10
    Walking (NFB Short Film) 1969 8/10
    Special Delivery (NFB Short Film) 1978 8/10
    La maison de Jean-Jacques (NFB Short Film) 1968 7/10
    Neighbours (NFB Short Film) 1952 8/10

    Performance 1970 6/10
    Send Me No Flowers 1964 7/10
    Student Services 2010 7/10
    La Promesse 1996 9/10
    Seven Psychopaths 2012 7/10
    Django Unchained 2012 8/10
    Rosetta 1999 9/10
    Searching for Sugar Man 2012 10/10
    The Story of Film: An Odyssey 2011 (TV Series) 8/10
    Damien: Omen II 1978 6/10
    My Dinner with Andre 1981 7/10
    The Seafarers 1953 (Documentary) 6/10
    Killer Tongue 1996 5/10
    Fear and Desire 1953 6/10
    Intruders 2011 7/10
    Ice Cream Man 1995 3/10
    Only Angels Have Wings 1939 9/10v
    The Green Berets 1968 5/10
    Family Guy Presents: It's a Trap 2010 5/10
    Family Guy Something, Something, Something, Dark Side 2009 (TV) 6/10
    Naked Fear 2007 7/10
    Bachelor Party 1984 5/10

    IMDB ratings count: 5381
    (as usual, not including a lot of Asian stuff -- though I really should start ranking them there, too, just for my own sense of completion)

    Posts : 63
    Join date : 2011-02-16
    Location : Central Illinois

    Re: Now watching...

    Post  Cash on Thu Oct 10, 2013 11:05 pm

    Good to see you're still with us Brian as I feared even you had finally jumped ship. Anyways...steady as she goes.

    The Tenant (1976) C+

    The first half is a fabulous slow burn; the second slams on the accelerator as the finish line nears. I don't think Roman Polanski's Apartment Trilogy was my cup of tea, per se, though I'm clearly in a minority.

    A Bay of Blood (1971, AKA "The Antecedent," "The Last House on the Left Part II," "Twitch of the Death Nerve," "Ecology of a Crime," "I was a Teenage Mario Bava Fan" Razz) C+

    Kino Lorber stepped up and gave this popular giallo of the most alternate titles in the history of the medium the official Blu-ray treatment in addition to making it available in its original Italian language soundtrack with English subtitles for the first time stateside (ever?). Coincidentally, I read Crystal Lake Memories last winter (the entire winter in fact!) and Sean S. Cunningham and Co. claimed to have never seen "A Bay of Blood" as they all had zero interest in horror films when making "Friday the 13th" (1980), which is clearly indebted to this film as well as a notorious scene in Part II (1981). Cunningham surmised one of the film's producers "out east," who punched-up the original's script (sequence with motorcycle cop for instance), probably saw "A Bay of Blood" and lifted a handful of sequences from it for the first two "Friday the 13th" films. As for the film itself: I enjoyed the ambiance more than the movie but am glad fans have finally received the home video version they deserved.

    Snowtown (2007, AKA "The Snowtown Murders") B

    The film takes for granted that its audience is exclusively Australian and thus already familiar with the details of the Snowtown murders perpetrated by John Bunting (Australia's most prolific serial killer) but what is apparent is chillingly effective.

    The Grandmaster (2013) C+

    Wong Kar-wai was perhaps the first to throw his hat into the ring on Ip Man biopics (though it was another decade before this film debuted) but he just can't resist being Wong Kar-wai and thus is all wrong for "The Grandmaster."

    You're Next (2011) B

    What "Scream" should have been like...

    Pain & Gain (2013) C

    The difference between the Coen Bros. and Michael Bay is the difference between "Fargo" (1996) and "Pain & Gain" (2013). What a shame. There's a story worth telling here...but not like this.

    Cronos (1993) B

    A la George A. Romero's "Martin" (1977) I admired how Guillermo del Toro took the vampire mythos in a different direction than the norm for his feature length debut.

    G.I. Joe Retaliation (2013) C-

    Twice as good as the first installment...but that's not saying much.

    The Beyond (1981) B

    A good mix of haunted house, living dead, and Italy's eye for articulate gore.

    Ip Man 2 (2010, AKA "Ip Man 2: Legend of the Grandmaster") C+

    In many ways is just as good as its predecessor while being nothing more than a retread of it.

    Executioners (1993, AKA "Heroic Trio 2") C-

    I've respected while not necessarily been a fan of the slightly overrated "The Heroic Trio" (1993) but what's with the sudden downturn in outlook for the sequel?

    Exorcist III (1990) B

    Underrated, heck probably the second best offering -- and the only other worthy installment -- in a franchise that produced quite possibly the greatest horror film of all-time...and the worst sequel of all-time, the most notorious fiasco regarding a prequel of all-time, and so on...Too bad the studio insisted on the franchise title instead of the name of author-director William Peter Blatty's book (Legion) it was adapted from as the late great George C. Scott is a perfect fit in the J. Lee Cobb role from the original and the film really holds its own with very little mention of the events of the first film.

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      Current date/time is Sat Jan 19, 2019 3:42 pm