Friday, October 27, 2006

Slither

Slither -A fun horror flick- written and directed by James Gunn - this rated-R flick is played straight by the cast (on purpose)- and that makes for more laughs as the critters worm their way thru a small town.Starring Nathan Fillion as the sheriff,Michael Rooker as Grant Grant & Michelle Banks as the wife of Grant squared and the apple of the sheriff's eye.If you are expecting a straight-up horror or gorefest you will be disappointed- if you are looking for a good-time drive-in B flick then you should have a good time.The Movie has cameos by Jenna Fischer(from the Office and wife of the writer/director) and Lloyd Kaufman .The DVD has tons of meaty extras including a full length commentary by the star and the writer/director,deleted scenes and a gag reel.Actually I really enjoyed all of the deleted scenes-check them out- they probably needed to cut from the movie- but they are all funny.I will probably end up owning this one. B

The Razor's Edge - 1946 Daryl F. Zanuck production of the famed W.Somerset Maugham.Starring Tyrone Power as Larry Darrell - a dull young chap that wants to find meaning in life after suffering thru trench warfare in WWI.The story is told thru the eyes of Herbert Marshall playing the author Somerset Maugham.This movie takes a long time to build each character - from the snobbish uncle played by Clifton Webb to the relationship between Anne Baxter and Gene Tierney.And the relationship between Baxter and Tierney is the fulcrum for the movie-or rather the most interesting and explosive and dramatic- The movie has some very clumsy shots and use of matte paintings- specially the stuff set in India.A big production for it's time- with tons of extras and sets- but all of it done on the lot.The best parts of the movie are later in the film when Anne Baxter tears up the scenery and Gene Tierney throws verbal darts her way.A very dated flick - the DVD has a commentary by Anthony Slide and Robert Bichard- it seems like they don't even like the movie that much.Anne Baxter won an Oscar for best supporting actress.If you like melodrama and black and white flicks this one is worth renting. B-


Fatal Contact:BIRD FLU in America: Ripped from last year's headlines- worst case scenario- Pandemic - run,hoard,give speeches,cry,bond.This made for TV movie is the combination of the worst of all dramatic cliches- the Va governor that turns his mansion into a fort than becomes a man of the people,the overly concerned doctor(Joely Richardson),the workaday Latina nurse and her national guard hubby in NYC,the fake news reports about the worsening conditions and the death count clicker.I have no idea why I watched the whole thing.The DVD has no extras. F

M:I:III -Tom Cruise is Ethan Hunt in this third Mission Impossible film.Philip Seymour Hoffman is his nemisis,Ving Rhames is back as part of his posse and Billy Crudup & Larry Fishburne are his bosses.The movie was helmed by J.J. Abrams.I know I saw the first installment in the theater(I was still in awe of stuff blowing up real good on the big screen)- I did not see the second one and I would not have missed much if I would have skipped this flick either.The usual spy game stuff of double crosses and explosions.And they up the ante with crazy break-ins that seem implausible(including a kidnapping @ the Vatican).If you need mindless entertainment or want to see Cruise's last flick before his firing by Sumner Redstone- than this will work- looking for good dialogue and such.... The DVD has deleted scenes ,a commentary by Abrams & Cruise and a tribute to Cruise - a montage from his past films. C-


Criss Cross -1948 noir flick starring Burt Lancaster,Dan Duryea & Yvonne DeCarlo.Lancaster is the main character- coming back to town and still in love with his ex-wife(the stunning Yvonne DeCarlo)- but everybody thinks she is trouble for him.She is more concerned with money than love and eventually drops Lancaster for the town wiseguy.But the couple has a chance enounter and they rekindle their passions- this leads to a clumsy scheme to explain away their rendezvous to the mobster.Directed by Robert Sidomak The plot is almost given away by the title- the DVD's only extra is the trailer - which also gives away tons of plot points. Some great shots in this flick - using mirrors and light and smoke. A

Map of The Human Heart - I can't candy-coat it - I love this movie- I own the soundtrack and once paid much moolah to get it on VHS- yet somehow I missed the DVD release of this Vincent Ward movie.The DVD has some deleted scenes - but no behind the scenes or even a trailer.This epic follows a young eskimo boy (Avik played very well by Robert Joamie as a wide-eyed youth and Jason Scott Lee when he is older) who is rescued by a British mapmaker when it is discovered he has T.B. and taken to hospital.While there he encounters the cute charming and tomboyish halfbreed Albertine- they have instant chemistry as they fight,play,steal and hang out whenever possible.Since the hospital is run by nuns they seperate the two.There are jumps in the story and we end up 10 years later.An older Avik helps Walter on another mapmaking journey and hears about WWII- he wants to help.Soon Avik is a bomber for the R.A.F. and he reconnects with Albertine who is working for bomber command-yep that is a major coincidence.Soon we encounter some amazing shots of nighttime bombing over Germany and some major melodrama.The movie is a tragic romance about 2 soulmates that seem like they should be married from the first second that they meet- but life keeps getting in the way.Beautiful movie with great cinematography. A

Dark Corner - noir flick directed by Henry Hathaway starring Clifton Webb,Lucille Ball and William Bendix.A film centered around a P.I. who is getting harassed from angles from the first scene.This movie felt like a collection of noir cliches- and I found myself disinterested in the main romance angle between the P.I. and his red-headed secretary.Lacking the nuance of other flicks or the sense of dread from Hathaway's Call Northside 777 - this movie just never jelled for me. C+

Jackass 2 - fun was had by all during my matinee screening of the popular sequel- as all 4 folks in the multiplex mini theater were laughing or oohing and awing the entire flick.Like the first flick - this is extreme goofiness without a net- my girlfriend summed it up best- it reminded her of her youth - trying crazy stuff with bikes and skateboards and double-dawg daring people to do stuff.That is the fun- it is the youthful need to try and try again to find crazy stuff to do.There are some very gross moments- including one moment- the first moment in my life where I averted my eyes to keep from vomiting- but most of the movie is goofiness.Noone is safe from a quick kick to the nuts or humilation or whatever else the crew has in mind.I am glad they have a camera to document such stuff and I can enjoy it from a safe distance. B+

Nacho Libre - I enjoyed Jack Black as the obnoxious clerk in High Fidelity and the obsessed neo-con in Bob Roberts - I even own and have laughed @ the first Tenacious D album.I am burnt out on his schtick- School of Rock was like having my teeth pulled and his talk show appearances are the same note.Even so I am a life-long fan of the pro wrestling and love the luchadores.This broken Spanglish offering is about a loser priest that decides to take up wrestling in this offering from Nappy Dynamite director Jared Hess.I don't get it- it just doesn't work and it borders on belittling to the colorful history of Mexican wrestling.First off like the WCW sanctioned crapfest Ready to Rumble (which actually led to David Arquette holding the WCW strap for almost a month)- this movie treats wrestling as athletic competition and not staged entertainment.And once again wrestling fans are presented as either cross-eyed or not all that bright.This movie will appeal to pre-teen boys with it's mix of fart jokes and cartoon violence- the rest of the family can roll thier eyes as little Billy guffaws with joy when Jack Black flexes his butt-cheeks for the comely nun.If you want to check out some good lucha action - netflix the Rey Misterio WWE DVD which features his great 1997 with the late Eddie Guerrero.The DVD has commentary by the star and the director- delted scenes and several featuretttes. C-

The Road To Guantanamo - just in time for the Halloween horror/suspense season - a well told story about 3 British Muslims that go to War torn Afghanistan and get captured as Taliban.They get treated as subhuman turds by their captors.This is more horrifying than any Saw or Freddy movie.Human rights and the Geneva Conventions are thrown out as the solidiers spit on,humilate and near starve the Muslim prisoners- truly barbaric and sickening.Directed by Micheal Winterbottom & Matt Whitecross the DVD has no extras on it.The scariest movie I have seen since Fog of War. A


Donnie Brasco -felt the urge to revisit this DVD- one of my favorite performances by Al Pacino as an aging mafia hitman who vouches for the undercover FBI agent Donnie Brasco portrayed by Johnny Depp.The DVD has commentary and 2 featurettes including appearances by Joe Pistone the federali that went undercover as "Donald Brasco". Look for camoes by Paul Giamatti and Tim Blake Nelson as G-Men and the late Bruno Kirby and Micheal Madsen as part of Brasco's crew.The movie is about the relationship between the connected Lefty(Pacino) and the undercover fed Brasco(Depp).It is nice to see Pacino dial it down and play a role with nuance. A

Whirlpool -Otto Preminger directs this murder mystery starring Gene Tierney as doctor's wife that is a kleptomanic who is "helped" by a hypnotist played wonderfully by Jose Ferrer who is superb as the conieving villian and con-man.This movie is imperfect - Richard Conte seems out of place as a successful phsyco-analyst and there are huge chunks of the story that the audience has to guess at.The movie is held together by Preminger's direction and the splendid heel work by Ferrer.The DVD has a commentary track by Richard Shickel. B-


Hard Luck - mix elements of Carlito's Way with the star and director of New Jack City and then have Cybill Shepherd as part a serial murder couple .The latest Wesley Snipes STD(straight to DVD) flick is slightly better than his recent slate of action flicks - but that is damning with faint praise at best.This mess follows Lucky(Snipes) from his release from prison to his being flooded out of the straight life by Katrina to falling back into crime.Director Pebbles is quite happy to say this movie has the WTF elements on purpose- but it really creates some leaps of logic and for a muddled mess in the end. C-


City of Industry - a hiest flick with Timothy Hutton,Famke Jansen,Elliot Gould,Lucy Lui,Stephen Dorff and starring Harvey Keitel.Stand order robbery and double-cross flick- lots of violence and cursing and whatnot.
C-



the break-up - A pleasant surprise -not as over the top as the Wedding Crashers - this movie is a comedy with more substance to it - sure it is still a mainstream movie that doesn't get as nasty as arguments between lovers can get- but it has real bite- with discussions I have been a part of myself- Vince Vaughan is not my favorite guy- he has moments - but on the whole he usually bores me with his schtick - but this role is perfect for him and for her(Jennifer Aniston).He is a schlub and a slob and a wiseass- she is a little more refined and and lot more frustrated with his taking her for granted and not chipping in with household chores and social responsibilites.Not as epic as War of Roses or as funny- this flick is about a disolving civil union and the flack that results.People expecting broad comedy like Wedding Crashers or Old School will be disapointed- but I enjoyed the flick - the highlight for me was the singing group that featured John Michael Higgins performing "Boogie Nights" and the dinner scene with another song.This is not a deep movie that will shed new light on the modern relationship - but it was a fun flick - the DVD has tons of extras ,deleted scences,Outtakes,and a commentary from Vaughaniston. B-

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Fallen Angel

Fallen Angel - 1945 noir by Otto Preminger-starring Dana Andrews as a smooth-talking drifter who is deposited in a small town with only a dollar in his pocket.When he goes to the local diner he falls for the sultry waitress Stella played by Linda Darnell- he soon falls in with a traveling seance scam and he goes to the local civic leaders(The Mills sisters) to get them to give creedance to the traveling charlatan(played wonderfully by John Carradine).The protaganist(Dana Andews)concocts a plan to win the pragmatic Stella by seducing the town hieress June Mills(Alice Faye).Of course things never go to plan in a noir and we find ourselves in the middle of a murder mystery.Tons of beautiful shots and great camera work-plus great performances by Linda Darnell as the waitress who wants more out of life and Dana Andrews who scheming his way to satisfy her needs.Excellent work from the creative team behind Laura. A

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

DVDs

I tried to watch Click this weekend also- not a smart idea to base a crappy movie on a remote control- cuz I just kept feeling the urge to use my - first chapter skip then eject- blah
and I could not finish Waist Deep -
I did not finish Prairie Home Companion - but that had more to do with time constraints than quality of the movie- I liked the music in it- but was not overwhelmed by what I had seen

the break-up - A pleasant surprise -not as over the top as the Wedding Crashers - this movie is a comedy with more substance to it - sure it is still a mainstream movie that doesn't get as nasty as arguments between lovers can get- but it has real bite- with discussions I have been a part of myself- Vince Vaughan is not my favorite guy- he has moments - but on the whole he usually bores me with his schtick - but this role is perfect for him and for her(Jennifer Aniston).He is a schlub and a slob and a wiseass- she is a little more refined and and lot more frustrated with his taking her for granted and not chipping in with household chores and social responsibilites.Not as epic as War of Roses or as funny- this flick is about a disolving civil union and the flack that results.People expecting broad comedy like Wedding Crashers or Old School will be disapointed- but I enjoyed the flick - the highlight for me was the singing group that featured John Michael Higgins performing "Boogie Nights" and the dinner scene with another song.This is not a deep movie that will shed new light on the modern relationship - but it was a fun flick - the DVD has tons of extras ,deleted scences,Outtakes,and a commentary from Vaughaniston. B-

Femme Fatale -flawed modern noir-ish flick from Brian DePalma.Starring Rebecca Rojimn Stamos as the title vixen.This flick is about style over substance and has some neat scenes and sound design- but also has plotholes all over the place.I spent too much time trying to put logic to the plotshifts and not enough time just going with the story.The movie also has Antonia Banderas as a paparazi stalking Stamos.A mixture of evil woman cliches,double-crosses and sexual tension this flick is not for everyone and not perfect- but as a good distraction from the 9 to 5. C+

Kiss of Death -1947 noir about a gangster(Victor Mature) that turns states evidence to garner an early parole.This movie has it's flaws - mostly the sappy father cliche played to the hilt by Mature- but it also has an excellent performance by Richard Widmark as the homicidal Tommy Udo- he was nominated for an Oscar for his debut film role.And it is Widmark that leaves with the film in hand - his character is like a psychotic Bugs Bunny on Crack- someone you don't wanna mess with -cuz he is the crazy guy kind of strong.Of course the Mature character with his bad guy trying to go good for his family is the perfect foil for the Udo character.While the plot is typical and has some very familiar twists- it is well worth the time for the Widmark character alone. B+

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Welcome To Collinwood

Welcome To Collinwood - a 2002 comedy about a bunch of buffoons who are trying to pull off the perfect heist.Starring Sam Rockwell as a punch-drunk con man who scams a big job away from the Luis Guzman.Rockwell puts together a crew including William H. Macy to help him execute the gig.They get coaching from a wheelchair-bound safe-cracking expert George Clooney.Since this is a comedy we know that nothing will be easy for this dimwitted crew of hooligans- the pratfalls are many.I got some chuckles from this thing- but it felt like a sham- I am sure the cast and crew had a good time making Collinwood(at least it appears fun on the BTS featurette)- but movie lacked credibility in so many ways that every character felt like a walking punchline- not human enough to take seriously- so by the end of the thing I was not rooting for anyone- I was just wanting to see resolution . C-

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Pillman

She's The Man -A charming high school comedy - nothing new- and it mostly gets by cuz of the goofy lines by supporting actors David Cross,Vinnie Jones and Julie Haggerty.Now my problem with most modern comedies- I have to wait for laughs- in between wincing at the stereotypical punchlines and pratfalls.Although this movie's main gimmick is the gender switiching by the main character- this movie exists in the sexless limbo that parents want to think their teens inhabit- sure the characters want to date and kiss- but there is no mention of any other sexual curiosity or practices-.Basically Amanda Bynes wants to play soccer - but her school has cut the funding for the girl's squad- meanwhile her twin brother is going to the UK with his band and needs her to cover for his absence from school( that happens to be the school her current school is playing in soccer).The first 10 minutes of this movie were hard to digest - but once I got into the spirit of the proceedings (suspension of disbelief needed) I enjoyed my self with a few chuckles and enough entertainment to carry me through the proceedings. C+
Brian Pillman:Loose Cannon - The most recent WWE career retrospective DVD on yet another grappler that died young- so of course the end of the main package is very maudlin.The meat of this 2 DVD set is the extras- matches from Pillman's career from his early days in Stampede Wrestling to WCW and WWF.Excellent stuff from his 5 star match with Jushin "Thunder" Liger to War Games matches to the superb Canadian Stampede 10 man tag.The DVD also has the infamous Gun Incident,his ECW shoot appearances and Hollywood Blonde segments.This is a great collection for any fan of wrestling fans who were watching during the Monday Night Wars. The main hour and a half is ok - but most fans will enjoy the 16 extra matches and segments like Flare For The Old. A+
Wake Up Screaming -a 1941 flim noir flick starring Victor Mature,Carol Landis and Betty Grable is a murder-mystery.Mature plays promoter Frankie Christopher who decides to turn a hashslinging watiress to the next It girl in NYC- his plan works too well when she decides she is big enough to go to tinseltown- soon after her announcement she is found.....dead.The real star of the movie is the creepy homicide detective Laird Cregar who is certain that Christopher is the murderer.The DVD also has a deleted scene - Betty Grable at work - who all the sudden breaks into song singing "Daddy"- while the scene works on it's own - it would have totally gone against the character Grable was playing in the movie.The DVD also a good commentary track by film historian Eddie Muller- lots of information and he seems to really love this flick. A+

Sunday, October 01, 2006

X3

X Men III : The Last Stand - the thrid installment of the highly successful Marvel franchise is coming out on DVD Tuesday.As most folks know by now - with a new director.This movie throws information at the viewer as fast as it can.There is very little time spent on seemingly major events- why because the next scene will be even more SPECTACULAR or dramatic- no the movie is not all high spots- but it is close to that- the flick spends no time at all on what would to seem to be a major devolpment( I try to avoid spoilers when pounding these things out)- but instead rushes to the next high spot.The concept is interesting - the humans have created a cure for the mutant gene - of course Magneto and his crew are not down with that notion at all.From the trailers and all we know this flick will be the ultimate showdown between professor X' s team and the Magneto posse.Unlike the previous 2 movies very little time is spent introducing the new mutants(Juggernaut,The Beast,etc.) .This movie feels like they needed to cram all the information in and whatnot.Don't get me wrong - the special effects look fine- Hugh Jackman is engaging as Wolverine and of Sir Ian is great as always as Magneto- but you can tell the difference between this and the first two X movies.Also MIA is my favorite character from X-Men 2 Nightcrawler.I would put this on par with say Once Upon a Time in Mexico - it is the third flick in a series I have enjoyed and I liked it - but it was the low point of the three- slightly better than um Godfather 3- but not up there with Return of the Jedi... or something. B-
Brick -Simply excellent and maybe tailor-made for me and my obsession with noir flicks lately- Brick takes the conventions of noir and mixes them into a modern high school.Sure you have to suspend your disbelief when it comes to the modern teenagers all speaking like 40s detectives,tramps and coppers.The movie worked for me because of the surreal atmosphere,the absurd dialogue and the plot.This low budget flick was writer-director Rian Johnson's first movie and was concieved as a tribute to Dashiel Hammett.Starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Frye an outsider trying to save his girlfriend(Emilie De Raven(Lost)) from falling in with the wrong crowd.Soon he finds himself in the middle of a drug war between Tug and the Pin.For a low budget flick they managed to wrangle some beautiful shots out of the suburban settings. This may not work for everyone - but it blew me away from the first scene til the end.One of my favorite indies that I have seen this year (the other being the funny Film Geek).Sure this is low budget and unrealistic - but it is also fun,engrossing and has etched itself into my cranium. A
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