Monday, January 30, 2012
CHILLERAMA – It's closing night at the last drive-in theater in America and the owner has planned the ultimate marathon of lost film prints to unleash on his faithful cinephile patrons. Four films so rare that they have never been viewed publicly on American soil until this very night! What could possibly go wrong? That's what the back of the blu-ray read. Sounds awesome doesn't it! Well despite having some really great moments CHILLERAMA sucked!
Within the annals of exploitation and b-movie history is Troma Entertainment the leader of tasteless cinema. To my misfortune CHILLERAMA pays tribute to the kings of trash. Most exploitation films are trashy but Troma always sunk to a level of debauchery either fit for a junior high schooler or that would test your moral fiber. It all boils down to taste and I am not a fan.
Much like CREEPSHOW, CHILLERAMA is a horror anthology film. So like I said earlier it's the drive-in theaters last night and it'll be a night to remember, or In my case a night I'd like to forget.
WADZILLA – Remember me mentioning Junior High humor? Well here it is in all it's glory. A throwback spoof of 60's drive-in horror films like THE BLOB, WADZILLA is about a giant sperm that eats people and terrorizes the city. Bravo lame-o's! Moving on.
I WAS A TEENAGE WERE-BEAR – A mash-up of 50's and 60's b-movie horror meets beach party movie musical. Ugh, musical really! This was my least favorite segment of CHILLERAMA; but, I did like the over saturated look it had. Great job on looking like a exploitation film from it's time but the story was just silly and tasteless.
THE DIARY OF ANNE FRANKENSTEIN – My favorite among the movies within the movie. Imagine if the Frank family were descendent's of the mad doctor Frankenstein and Anne's famous diary was his journal for creating life from death. This is the sort of tastelessness I can enjoy! Hitler finds the diary and creates a Frankenstein's monster for himself. This truly is the best installment with keen direction from Adam Green. I recommend trying to hunt this down on YouTube or something to see for yourself the brilliance of this spoof.
ZOM B MOVIE – The final movie within the movie climaxes by becoming the final act of CHILLERAMA. Between the segments in CHILLERAMA a sub-plot was formulating with the popcorn becoming contaminated and everybody turning into zombies. It's up to a couple of movie buff love birds to make it out alive. This would have been my favorite segment but that tasteless Junior High humor takes center stage yet again by making the zombies horny and the only way to kill them is to shoot em in the “head”. Just awful I tell you, so dumb and uncreative. I did like how ZOM B MOVIE felt like an homage to one of my favorite Italian horror films from the 80's called DEMONS. It was about a horror movie turning everybody watching it in the theater into a demon like zombie.
I cannot recommend CHILLERAMA it's just too silly and tasteless for me and I'd feel like a jerk if I did.
Kevin Smith is a filmmaker that's his vocation, but first and foremost he is a passionate movie goer. That is well established in his very first film CLERKS where you have it's two main characters talk about movies and make Star Wars references all day at work.
Comedies have been Kevin's bread and butter for 17 years and now he has something very different to say and share. After hearing about the infamous Westboro cult leader Fred Phelps during a conversation with a friend, Kevin thought to himself that this wacko would make an excellent horror movie villain. RED STATE was born from this idea.
RED STATE takes place somewhere in middle America and centers on a group of high school friends who are wanting to get laid. They respond to a “personal connection” on Craigslist but this invitation of sex has far more sinister plans when the boys are kidnapped by some “fundamentalist” cult followers. This is when the films true star emerges with an eerie but amazing performance by actor Micheal Parks playing Abin Cooper the leader of the Five Points Church. Abin and his followers are a little too Old Testament and down right crazy. Cooper and his followers believe that they are doing God's will (they most definitely are not) by killing off any and all immoral old testament law breaking individuals.
This is really the only true horror element in RED STATE while the rest of the film seems more like a genre mash-up. You've got a little horror, action/thriller, and some satire mixed together. A lot of viewers have mistaken this as Smith unable to find a tone for his film and therefore making it a complete mess. I disagree with this because in my opinion he pulls it off decently. While the shift from horror to a hostage/siege film is sudden and a bit jarring it fits with what is going on with the characters and does not seem one bit strange or distracting. In fact when the film all of a sudden becomes a siege film this transition is some of the best if not the best directing Kevin Smith has ever done.
I'd like to talk about Micheal Parks for a moment who most of you only know (including myself) as the very memorable Sheriff Earl McGraw from KILL BILL, FROM DUSK TIL DAWN, and GRINDHOUSE. He is one of Quentin Tarantino's favorite actors and I find it awesome that Kevin Smith had him in mind while writing the character of Abin Cooper. I am not familiar with Mr. Park's work outside of Sheriff Earl McGraw and Abin Cooper but it does have my interest. Alas another actor that I'm sure Hollywood considers a dinosaur, what a shame.
Giving one of the best performances of 2011 Micheal Parks gives a performance of a lifetime and completely immerses himself in the role of Abin Cooper who gives the devil himself a run for his money. Forget what is nominated or has already won this award season and just watch RED STATE for this reason alone! It is because of this reason that RED STATE was and still is one of my favorites of 2011!
Sunday, January 22, 2012
HAYWIRE the latest film from Steven Soderbergh is one of his artsy experimental films that essentially is a martial arts exploitation film. Like his other film THE LIMEY Soderbergh gives HAYWIRE the non linear style of storytelling with a flair of late 60's and early 70's style and music.
Steven Soderbergh has said that HAYWIRE is like an exploitation film staring Pam Grier directed by Alfred Hitchcock. Sure I guess? I'll agree with the Pam Grier comment because the star of HAYWIRE Gina Carano retired MMA fighter is indeed bad ass! She's the only redeeming quality of the film and I hope to see her in more action exploitation fare like say THE EXPENDABLES 3, UNDISPUTIED 4, or going toe to toe with say Beatrix Kiddo in KILL BILL 3! I can only wish!
The plot of HAYWIRE is not it's strong suit and that's fine because the film is really Gina Carano's show. HAYWIRE is about Mallory Kane (Carano) a private contractor hired by the government to do a job only to be double crossed so some loose ends can get tied up. So as you can imagine that Mallory is the last person you would want to double cross. What happens next is some of the best fight scenes in American movies in a long time. Soderbergh really knows where to put the camera and just let Gina Carano do her thing. No BORNE SUPREMACY shaky cam action here thank goodness. Soderbergh really understands what it takes for a fight scene to have impact and be memorable. My favorite scene has to be the fight between Mallory and a British agent (Fassbender) in a hotel room. They demolish the room and themselves!
It's interesting that Soderbergh can bring a cast together that consists of Micheal Douglas, Antonio Banderas, Michael Fassbender, and Bill Paxton only so that all of them end up playing second fiddle to Gina Carano. It's almost like a trick or experiment on the audience or something? I found it kinda cool actually and just went with it because I knew early on that it's not about them but her.
I really enjoyed HAYWIRE and glad Steven Soderbergh has brought Gina Carano to Hollywood's attention. Now that she has been established maybe we can see her in the next Issac Florentine picture?
Maybe NINJA 2 with her and Scott Adkins, that'd be cool!
Last year I had no intention to see MIDNIGHT IN PARIS but I kept hearing such good things about it. A friend of mine who's opinion I take very seriously sent me a text one night saying MIDNIGHT IN PARIS was one of the best films he has seen in a long time, not just of 2011 but just in a long time period. Needless to say after my friends raving recommendation I had to check it out but not right away because films like HOBO WITH A SHOTGUN, ATTACK THE BLOCK, and RED STATE had top priority.
So the time finally came for me to watch MIDNIGHT IN PARIS and my friend was right it was indeed one of the best films of 2011. I really like this film! I thought to myself “okay it's my favorite romantic comedy of the year” but the week I saw the movie I couldn't stop talking about it so evidently it's a lot more than just my favorite romantic comedy of the year. I'm not going to pick a “best of” for 2011 but I do have a lot of favorite's and I'll just leave it at that.
What really draws me to MIDNIGHT IN PARIS is how much of a delightful fantasy it becomes. The location of Pairs is just so beautiful during the day, the night, and even in the rain. Next is how great all the characters are, you love the one's you're meant to love and hate the one's you're supposed to hate. Woody Allen loves and cares for his characters because they are so well written. I really connect with Gil (Owen Wilson) and his sincerity, enthusiasm, and hero worship of nostalgia. His girlfriend Inez (played wonderfully by Rachel McAdams) made me think to myself that for a long time now I've been chasing after the wrong kind of girls because the character of Inez reminded me of a few I know. Scary. Thank you Woody, thank you very much!
MIDNIGHT IN PARIS opens with a couple in love on vacation in Paris. Gil who is a successful screenwriter is tired of writing uninspired Hollywood droll and wants to write his great American novel in Paris. Inez wants the rich upper-class American suburb style of life because that seems all she knows. One night Gil goes walking the evening streets of Pairs to get inspired, being a little drunk and lost he takes a breather on some church steps only to find himself being picked up by some happy strangers and brought to a party you have to see to believe. From this point a element of fantasy is introduced that is down right brilliant. Telling you more would just ruin the experience for you and I hate doing that.
So this MIDNIGHT IN PARIS review officially kicks of my return to reviewing movies. If you're a returning reader welcome back! If you're now just reading me for the first time thanks for taking the time to read, I'm a little rusty and hope to change that. I've got a lot I want to write so please stay tuned and thanks again!