Monday, October 27, 2008

So...I am up to date...finally


Hopefully I will now only update with a new post when I see something new or do something new.

We will see how it works out.

Religulous (2008, Larry Charles)

I'm not going to go too much into this one. I belong to the choir that Bill Maher is preaching to and as part of this choir I found almost every single minute of this documentary to be hilarious and amusing.

A friend of mine when talking about Bill Maher said "He's kind of a smug asshole but the fucker always has me on his side" I think that is pretty much my opinion about the guy as well and that is basically my only "complaint" about the film. 

Still, though, hilarious stuff. 

- A-

Diabolique (1955, Henri-Georges Clouzot)

I absolutely love Wages of Fear. Really. It's a film that I have seen 4 or 5 times by now and every single time it just blows me away. I rank it in my personal top 10 favorites as well as in what I believe to be the 10 best films that I have seen so far in my movie watching years. 

The reason I mention this is because Clouzot directed both Wages of Fear and Diabolique and even though I am a huge fan of Wages of Fear, I have just never gotten around to seeing Diabolique even though it is considered to be his big claim to fame and his most famous work. Seeing that Halloween was coming around the corner I finally decided to bump the criterion dvd at the top of my queue and finally sit down and watch it. I was expecting an excellent film due to all the praise that I have seen the film get over the years and I got just that.

The wife and mistress of a cruel school headmaster decide to one night kill him. Everything goes smoothly at first until his body disappears followed by strange occurences that begin to happen around the school. 

Diabolique is a classy horror film that is directed with such a great sense of pace and timing that you are pulled into it slowly but before you know it you are absorbed by it all. There are no real scare scenes and the horror that the film provokes is due to it's great sense of suspense, paranoia, and despair that the film slowly builds on until the final chilling couple of minutes. 

Speaking about the final couple of minutes; it is amazing stuff that still holds up perfectly, much like the rest of the film.

- A

Friday, October 24, 2008

We're Going to Eat You (1980, Tsui Hark)

Tsui Hark is considered to be one of the greatest directors that China has had in the past 30 or so years. I've heard the word overrated thrown around tons of times when I have seen stuff written about the man but I have never really seen any of his movies except for maybe Knock Off or Double Team when I was a kid and I doubt that those actually count.

So, when I heard about this film and saw a clip of it, I was sold and even became more interested in seeking it out when I found out that Tsui Hark directed it and is his 2nd film. 

The film is also known by another title, Kung Fu Cannibals, and that is really all you need to know to figure out what the plot and story of this film is. A special agent who knows martial arts travels to an island to capture a thief to only find out that the island is made up of cannibals who kill and then eat whoever happens to arrive there. Since he is stuck there (it is an island....) he must defend himself before being eaten. Oh, yeah, and the cannibals all know kung fu and carry around giant machetes with them too.

Yeah, this movie is gold.

The film carries a tounge in cheek "we know this is silly..." attitude which is fun and never takes itself too seriously. The fight choreography is also surprisngly pretty fun and even complicated at times and since there is a fight scene ever couple of minutes this all matters in how fun it can be.

Now having said that...the film is bit too much. There is a bit too much fighting to the point where it kind of seems repetitive and its sillyness is just way too much. I've come to accept and hate these silly moments in these early HK action films by watching early Jackie Chan films and everytime these silly moments come I just cringe. We're Going to Eat You takes its sillyness and slapstick comedy to the breaking point many times over and it just becomes way too annoying.

Anyways, it's a fun film and has a couple of pretty great scenes. Just check out this scene below. 

- B

From Beyond (1986, Stuart Gordon)

I am a gigantic fan of Re-Animator and I have known and been wanting to watch this movie since I was a little kid and saw the above poster on a vhs cover. Why it took me so many years to finally get around to it...I have no idea. 

So, the almost exact same team that brought us Re-Animator team up again and tackle another H.P. Lovecraft film with ocne again plenty amounts of dark comedy,over the top gore, another "big" performance from Jeffrey Combs, and enough effects to keep everyone happy. The result isnt nearly as fun as Re-Animator but it is still a very,very,very fun film.

This time around Jeffrey Combs doesnt play the mad scientist but instead the assistant to the mad scientist who goes mad one night while testing out a machine that opens up holes to another dimension where monsters,creatures, and other weird shit fly out of and make us go mad or die. During that one night the experiment goes wrong and Combs sees his professor become a monster and then disappear. Since no one beleives him he is locked away in a mental asylum until a visiting professor (Barbara Crampton) decides that the only way to really prove if he is crazy or not is to force him to try the experiment again. So, they go off to the house once again and try it out and as you can imagine all hell breaks lose and shit gets crazy. 

The film lasts about 80 minutes and it is all basically right to the point and doesnt waste any time before everything goes crazy. In my opinion this is both a good thing and a bad thing. It makes the film very fun but I also kind of wish that more time would be spent building up its characters before the 40 or so minutes of them running around and fighting weird monsters from another dimension. I know it sounds silly to ask for such a thing from an 80s B horor film but, hey, it worked out Re-Animator and I can only wish the same kind of treatment from the same team.

Still, though, that is really my one and only complaint. Everything in this film is just way too much fun for you to even get mad at it in any way. It's a crazy film, it knows that it's crazy, and it has fun with it all.

Just like any movie starring the man in a big role it's a must watch just to see how awesome/amazing Jeffrey Combs can be. 



The Midnight Meat Train (2008, Ryuhei Kitamura)

First of all, I had no idea that Ryuhei Kitmura (Versus, Azumi, Godzilla: Final Wars) was the director behind this film until I checked on the imdb page after watching it. IT blew my mind when I found out. Really. 

Despite its hokey title The Midnight Meat Train is a pretty damn good horror/thriller which I can see gaining a tiny but strong cult following over the years despite having an excellent build up and a very disappointing and just plain odd final couple of minutes. 

The film goes into the subcatagory of "films that are like Blow Up or Rear Window" since this one deals with a photographer who after taking pictures of a girl getting into a train is shocked to find out about her death in the paper the next day. Convinced that his photographs might hold some clues to her disappearance he begins to look into them to only find out that his pictures do indeed hold some clues. Since no one else believes him he sets out to try and solve the mystery and through this he stumbles into a horrible secret that happens every night during the midnight train....dun...dun...dun.

Given the plot and premise, The Midnight Meat Train is a fun ride (get it?) while it lasts and you are trying to figure out the mystery along with the lead character. You are always left guessing and wondering and you even accept some plot twists to get to there but once that mystery is solved the film just leaves you scratching your head. I'm not saying that its a stupid conclusion or anything along those lines. It's an odd one that is presented so fast and so "...and that's what happens.." that it confuses you and makes you just say "hmmm..really?" and before you can even think about it too much the credits are already rolling. However, as I already wrote before, the build up to the final 15 or so minutes is great and boasts a number of scenes that are really top notch. 

Since Kitamura is behind the camera The Midnight Meat Train is worth checking out just for his kinetic style and interesting camera movements alone. He makes what could have been a pretty good horror film into an interesting one just because of his style alone. 

It could have been really great but it just ended up being pretty damn good. That's pretty much it with this film. It's worth a watch for sure and I am surprised that it did not make it to more theaters since it's way better than most horror films that come out every year despite its flaws.


Times of Harvey Milk (1984, Rob Epstein)

This documentary which chronicles the life and death of Harvey Milk won the Oscar in 1984 and it is easy to see why. Unlike most documentaries which try to portray a persons life, The Times of Harvey Milk comes off as something truly special and even epic instead of just seeming like a run of the mill biography.

The reason the documentary comes off as something epic is really just because Harvey Milk's life was an epic and tragic one and so just by presenting his life story in a well made documentary you get to learn and in be in awe of his life. 

There really isn't much else to say. If Gus Van Sant is somehow able to not fuck this up then he has the potential to make something special with Milk.