Thursday, September 28, 2006

30 Days

30 Days - Harper Hill is the star of this 1997 movie that is coming on out DVD next Tuesday- it feels like an after-school special- with it's moralizing about race relations and schmatlzy ending- except for the teen sex stuff and a few curse words chucked in.Basically 2 teenages(one white/one black) get into a bench-clearing brawl during a hoops game and they get sentenced to live in each other's neighborhoods as punishment.The movie also has Surreal Lifester Da' Brat,Tyrese and Ellen Burstyn with a cameo by Reverend Run.Engaging enough that I watched thru the montages and the cliches and the melodrama- but not worth seeking out unless you just want some unintentional comedy. D+

btw this DVD has nada to with Morgan Spurlock or even Johnnycakes

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Thank you for Edmond

Thank You For Smoking -a satrical send-up of big tobacco and the lobbyist who can spin any situation to his liking.Aaron Eckhardt takes the bull by the horns as Nick Naylor the smooth-talking nicotine propagandist.His charisma and the strength of his arguments help him craft another interesting bastard(check out his breakout film In The Company of Men). This movie features good supporting performances by the always funny J.K. Simmons and Sam Elliot as the original Marlboro Man.A mixture of chuckles and belly-laughs - but in the end I was underwhelmed by this flick- part of the problem- the concept was a funny notion- but I have been aware of the premise for months- so now when finally watching the DVD I felt bogged down by the added in father/son dynamic(although that did also lead to the hilarious take my dad to work scene).The DVD has 2 commentary tracks ,several deleted scenes and a good 18 minute segment on the Charlie Rose show.If you are looking for a comedy that does not rely on pratfalls and fart jokes than you should enjoy this flick. B-

Edmond -a modern noir flick starring William H. Macy as a suit and tie guy who one day has a Falling Down type meltdown mid-life crisis.Edmond suddenly wants to reset his life - leaving his wife and going on a quest for some strange.It is established that he is willing to pay for sex- but he seems to never get the right price til he finds someone(Julia Styles) who mistakes his madness for genius.A mixture of awkward comedy and bad decisions. Based on a David Mamet play and directed by Stuart Gordon it is fun watching Macy's everyman negotiate his way thru a seedy NYC that does not seem to exist anymore.The DVD has 2 commentary tracks and a 10 minute behind the scenes featurette.Better than the average low budget DVD I have seen recently- but in some ways this a car-wreck- you know from the first scene that Edmond is mad as heck and he will not be taking it anymore- sometimes that journey is engaging . C+

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

feed

Feed -a post Se7en type thriller slimmed down to one deadly sin - gluttony.We follow an overzealous Aussie cop who finds online sickos and then tracks them down.He has stumbled onto a feeder site- where a feeder feeds his gainer til they can not move- think Haystacks Calhoun plus.This movie mixes MTV cuts,aggro tunes and cheery 60's pop tunes to make a disgusting concoction of angst and sadism.If you are looking for a can you top this gag-reflex testing horror thriller than you should enjoy this- but if you have a weak stomach or abhor plotholes and jumpy editing than avoid this one. B-

Sunday, September 24, 2006

House of Lake

House of Strangers - an excellent family melodrama about an Italian banking family The Monettis starring Edward G Robinson as the tyrannical patriarch and Richard Conte as the smartest son who has been away in jail for 7 years. Most of the story is told in flashback as we follow Conte's affair with Susan Heyward and the eventual fall of the family bank. Not your usual cops and gangsters noir flick but a well told story with some good camerawork and some decent twists. B+
Lake House - a formula romance flick with pretty songs and pretty scenery that demands that you suspend disbelief in the premise so you can get the butterflies when or if the 2 actors on the case finally smooch.I admit I have had a crush on Sandra Bullock since Speed - and have suffered such concoctions as Hope Floats and While You Where Sleeping because of it. Luckily I have seen a few decent flicks like The Net. In this flick Bullock is playing to her base for this reunion with co-Speedster Keanu Reeves.The gimmick of this hankie flick is revealed in the trailer- the 2 protaginists are living 2 years apart- so knowing that it is all too easy to figure out the fulcrum for the relationship.If you need a predicatable romance movie and are able to suspend disbelief you may enjoy this time waster. C-

Saturday, September 23, 2006

That's some fineass cheesecake

The Notorious Bettie Page -a not so standard biopic about the 50s pinup queen Bettie Page.Bettie is played perfectly by Gretchen Moll who manages to capture the innocent sexuality of Page's famous pictures.Using a mixture of black and white and color we see snapshots of Bettie's life that lead her to NYC in the early 50s and to her career in front of cameras.She is a charming southern girl who is deeply religious yet not ashamed of her body.She is flattered by the attention she recieves at first- but after awhile the infamy and the contradictions and the political climate cause her a lot of discomfort.The DVD has a BTS featurette and a vintage Bettie striptease.A well done look at the model and also the repressive moral climate of the times.Great cinematography and a stellar cast lead to well spent 90 minutes- with plenty of cheesecake. B+

Thursday, September 21, 2006

good batch

The Street With No Name -an excellent film noir from Fox- featuring a charismatic Richard Widmark as the leader of the Stiles gang.I saw most of the elements of this movie earlier this month when I saw House of Bamboo which lifted several parts of this plot and transported them to post WWII Japan.This movie despenses with the trite romance that threatened to throw it's remake off the rails and is a straight FBI v the bad guys movie- mixing tons of location shooting with stock footage(like another Fox film House on 92nd Street that also featured Lloyd Nolan as agent Briggs) this movie manages to capture a vivid and raw underworld that draws the viewer in. The chase scenes in this movie are well done and the use of minimalistic sound and shadows combine to make a memorable movie. The DVD has commentary by film historians and is worth renting and worth owning if you like Film Noir flicks . A+
Black Christmas -1974 horror/thriller movie about a sorority house that gets obscene phone calls while they have their last Holiday party.Nice mix of suspense with some good performances from the cast(Margot Kidder,Olivia Hussey,John Saxon and Andrea Martin). Great mix of atmosphere and suspense - I think the modern thriller fan would enjoy this( and I guess that is why their is a remake hitting theaters this Xmas)- but I hope folks rent out this neat original.The best extra on here is the original trailer which sounds like it is narrated by James Mason. B+
Cat's Meow - In the wake of the current Hollywood Babylon(Black Dahlia/Hollywoodland) type flicks in theaters I thought I would check out the movie about the infamous William Randolph Hearst yacht murder(still unsolved).This Peter Bogdonavich flick has a good cast including Eddie Izzard as Charlie Chaplin,Carey Elwes as Tom Ince and Kristin Dunst.A well constructed look at the early stages of Hollywood royalty and scandal.The DVD is very thorough with a behind the scenes featurette,commentary and 2 vintage short subjects (including a 20 minute Chaplin short).Nothing I would own- but if you like movies about old Hollywood this worth renting. B

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

WeedGeek

Film Geek - a pleasant surprise- a funny indie about a video store clerk obsessed with movies.Sadly his social skills and over-eagerness make him a pain to work with - so he gets fired from the one job he seems to be cut out for.Lots of funny stuff in this one- as we watch his doomed courtship with the cute artist who likes Cronenberg and electronica.His attempts to catch up to her hipness are also funny. I work at a video store so I get an awful lot of the inside jokes in this one- but there are enough funny moments that are universal that folks that enjoy smaller films should enjoy this one also.The DVD also has a humorous short film The Autuer which is basically a porn director shooting commentary for his recent epic. B+

Weeds Season 1- suburban widower and MILF Mary Louise Parker is a pot dealer . This show feels like Desperate Housewives with curse words and played for even more laughs.Each half hour is mostly jokes about 2 dysfunctional families in Agresta,CA.Featuring cast members from SNL,Mr Show and 40 Year Old Virgin this show keeps the punchlines coming. Elizabeth Perkins shines as the bitter head of the PTA dealing with a promiscious daughter,a cheating hubby and a younger daughter who enjoys eating. To quote my partner something I would watch for free but nothing I would seek out or get Showtime for. Well made suburban angst humor. B

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Devil & Daniel Johnston

The Devil and Daniel Johnston -ok I have seen this movie before(Jandek/Wesley Willis promo reel/Rodney on the Roq)- but this movie about the creative outsider artist Daniel Johnston was well done and kept my interest the whole time.Mixing his drawings,home movies and cassette recordings with recollections by his friends and family.A lifelong Beatles fan -he started by writing songs and playing them on his piano- then he moved to Austin and switched to guitar- his approach to music is very stripped down- and not an easy listen at first- but when he is in the zone- there is a simple beauty to his pain-his voice while not conventially pretty or always pitch-perfect is so honest and bracing that it reeled me right in.The movie captured his brief glimpses into fame( hijacking a MTV BBQ and getting his name out) to his struggles with his manic depression - including a harrowing plane ride with his father.The DVD has some great extras also- including 3 of Daniel's early short films,his first meeting with his college muse in a decade and an broadcast on WFMU.A good documentary with tons of extras. B+

Saturday, September 16, 2006

First Deadly Sin

First Deadly Sin -1980 murder mystery flick featuring the last performance of Frank Sinatra and a bed-ridden Faye Dunaway.Sinatra's character is a close to retirement homicide detective in NYC- when he notices similarities with his case and that of a recent case.Sinatra recruits Brenda Vaccarro and a museum curator to help him track down the killer.This felt like a made for TV movie and was pretty bland with a thrown in romance-although the romance sparked one of the more heated moments of the movie when a frustrated Sinatra confronts his wife's doctor about her condition. In the opening credits they mentioned a person who had made Miss Dunaway's costumes- which is kind of funny considering she is bed-ridden the whole time.If you are a big fan of ole' blue eyes and you can score this cheap(rental/2 dollars) then you might enjoy this dated thriller. C-

Hard Candy - spawned from an idea culled from the news about Japanese nymphs that lure business men into traps for money using the internet- this movie is well done- but feels like it wants to pull strings the entire time.The special features are basically the cast and producers congradulating themselves on making the movie. The movie which feels like a stage-play is mostly a 2 person exercise where a teen girl seduces a pediophile photographer and then proceeds to cut a him a new one. The acting in this flick is well-done and same for the direction.
This movie just feels like it wants to be so controversial that in some ways it lessens it's impact.
Even knowing the basic premise I was lured in enough that I wanted to see how things ended.There are plenty of squeamish scenes in this flick and I would not recommend this flick to everyone. C

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Bad City

Bad City A/K/A Dirty Work -This feels like a STD(straight to DVD release) - a small film about a corrupt cop(Lance Reddick(The Wire), a Polish immigrant and a crusading D.A.While this movie has some decent scenes and soundwork- it feels like a collage of cliche's.None of the characters are all that likeable- well except Austin Pendleton as the town bad guy- who has a unique villianish charm to him.Nothing to seek out or even rent - unless you are just craving a noir-ish DVD to watch next weekend(in that case I would pounce on the re-release of Double Indemnity). D+