Change Your Image
Upload An Image
Crop And Save
A masterful blend of genres
It's no surprise that this has been adapted as both a western and a gangster movie since it blends elements of both genres along with the samurai genre. The setting is typically western with the town consisting of businesses lining a central road and much of the plot follows a western blueprint, leading up to a final showdown in the center of town. It's not just the plot that is transferred over to "A Fistful of Dollars", but much of the look and visual style of the film is also adopted. The characters seem to come from somewhere else though. The film is a loose adaptation of Dashiell Hammett's "Red Harvest", and that novel's gangster characters seem to have been dropped into the western/samurai setting. The cross-genre blending is brilliant, allowing for new heights of cynicism and black comedy in the samurai, and ultimately the western, genre.
Interview with a Hitman (2012)
Interview with a Low Rent Jason Statham
Viktor (Luke Goss) grew up in the slums of Bucharest. His father was an abusive drunk, constantly in debt to the mob. When they finally kill his father, Viktor proves himself to be tough and resourceful enough to join them. He sees this as his opportunity to escape his life of poverty.
Viktor is taken under the wing of Sergei (Danny Midwinter), a low-level boss. Under Sergei's tutelage, Viktor grows up to become a feared enforcer and a successful hit man. His fortunes change when they are assigned to help Franco (Ray Panthaki), the son of Sergei's boss Traffikant (Stephen Marcus), on a drug deal. Franco freaks out and kills the man he was buying from, and Viktor and Sergei are forced to help him cover up.
Unfortunately, the man Franco killed was also the son of a powerful mob boss. Viktor comes home one day and finds Sergei waiting for him. Sergei explains that Traffikant is sure that the murder cannot be concealed forever, so he ordered Sergei to kill Viktor. He doesn't want to, but it's either Viktor or him. Viktor manages to give Sergei the slip, but he knows he can't hide forever. He fakes his own death and flees to England.
Arriving safely in London, he makes contact with a local crime boss hoping to get work with his organization. He gets in their good graces by grabbing an informant from police custody and delivering him to them. He is sent to kill a woman named Bethesda (Caroline Tillette), when he finds her being attacked and beaten by thugs, he rescues her instead. They fall in love and move in together, with Viktor hiding her from the gangsters who wanted her dead.
The film has a wrap-around gimmick borrowed from "Interview with the Vampire". At the beginning of the film, after performing a hit, Viktor sits down with a film director to tell him the film's story. This seems largely like an excuse to use narration to help tell the story, but it turns out to be integral to the plot. As Viktor nears the end of his story, Bethesda arrives and it's revealed why Viktor has been telling his story to this man.
The cover art for this release makes it look like a straight-to-video sequel to Timothy Olyphant's "Hitman" film. It's better than that though. It's largely the next instalment in Luke Goss's plan to become the low-rent Jason Statham. If the phrase "low-rent Jason Statham" sounds pretty cool to you, you'll most likely enjoy this film. It largely covers familiar territory, but it covers it well, and has a few genuine surprises waiting at the end.
From Argento to Fulci in one short homage
Sandra (Francesca Faiella) and Marco (Marco Benevento) are journalists doing a story on drug dealing. When faulty equipment blows their surveillance of a gang of dealers, they are pulled from the story and assigned to cover the production of a pornographic film by a director who's becoming famous for his genre-bending productions that use a combination of amateurs and professional actors. They are by no means excited to cover this story, but they are given little choice.
Sandra has particular reasons not to want to cover this film. When she was a young girl, her twin sister Giulia and herself were attacked by the Surgeon, a psychopath who kidnapped people in order to surgically remove their organs. Sandra escaped when she was injured and Giulia acted as a diversion to allow her escape. Giulia was never seen again. The film is being shot in the same location as this attack.
On their first evening covering the film, Sandra and Marco hear rumours that the Surgeon has been sighted in the area, many years after his supposed death. It's not long before members of the crew start disappearing and the Surgeon seems to be the culprit. Sandra and Marco stumble upon his hideout and the film takes a really odd turn.
"Bloodline" is a modern giallo, and like many modern takes on the genre, it reproduces a lot of the plot elements of the genre without reproducing the style. As such, it's an interesting, but not particularly rewarding film. I was prepared to write it off as a curiosity until a completely unexpected change in genre happened during the last third of the film. Without giving too much away, the last third is an escalating series of bizarre events that takes the film in genuinely unexpected directions. Worth a watch, if only for this last third.
Deadlands 2: Trapped (2008)
Trust me ... you've seen this before
You know the drill. It's a small town somewhere in the U.S. One day, folks start acting crazy. People who look dead perhaps start attacking people. All attempts to fight them off fail. It's almost as if they were zombies or something.
That's right it's another zombie film. All your standard bases are covered here. There's a government agency quarantining the town. They, of course, cannot successfully fight off the zombies, mostly because they keep forgetting to shoot them in the head. We have a group of survivors, some of whom know each other, some who are strangers, who lock themselves in an enclosed space (a movie theatre) to get away from the zombies. One of them has already been bitten by a zombie I wonder what will happen to him? As you've probably surmised, this film is a by-the-numbers zombie flick. It's so by-the-numbers that it hits all the broad plot points without bothering to fill in the details. We see an unspecified government agency performing experiments that cause the zombie outbreak, but we never find out what this experiment is or how it might cause people to become zombies. We get no details about how this outbreak occurs. We see nobody become zombies. We don't know how people become zombies. Zombies just appear out of nowhere as needed in whatever size crowd the movie requires.
Essentially, it's impossible to have much of a stake in what happens in this movie. With the exception of one creative plot twist during a climactic action sequence, you've seen all of this before and you've seen it done much better. At best, it's a mildly inoffensive time waster.
Profundo carmesí (1996)
A unique take on a familiar story
Arturo Ripstein's "Deep Crimson" is based on the same Lonely Heart Killers case that inspired "The Honeymoon Killers". Regina Orozco is riveting as the unattractive and fundamentally unlikeable nurse who abandons her children to take up with Daniel Giménez Cacho's pathetic, balding gigolo. They answer letters from lonely widows with the intention of robbing them, but jealousy and general incompetence lead them into a string of murders. Despite the sordid and depressing subject matter, the film has a distinct satirical edge and is often quite funny. Highly recommended, especially for fans of the earlier film.
Interesting at times, but also disorganized
I love The Minuteman, so it would be very hard for me to dislike this documentary. Still, I thought it had some pretty serious structural problems. The backbone of the film is Mike Watt telling the story of the band in chronological order, using primarily clips from two lengthy interviews. This part of the film tells a compelling story. It is inter cut with performance footage and snippets of interviews with dozens of other major and minor figures in the band's story. This talking head footage has a tendency to undermine the film at time. The director obviously collected so much interview footage that he seems compelled to use it, but what's being said is often repetitive and not pertinent to the point that Watt's story has reached. It gives the film a disorganized, scatter shot feel that really undermines its effectiveness at times.
Game Change (2012)
This one just doesn't feel right
Based on a book about the entire 2008 Presidential election, this movie focuses on a narrow subset of the book, specifically the choice to run Sarah Palin as Vice President and the consequences it had for John McCain's campaign. While I like the first half of this, which shows why McCain felt he had to pick her in order to win and what her strengths and weaknesses as a candidate were, I thought the second half was fairly disgraceful. I would not be surprised to find out that Steven Schmidt was somehow directly involved in the production of this movie, since it portrays himself and McCain as helpless to stop Palin from bringing the campaign into darker territory than they wanted to. Scenes that show McCain looking distressed as crowds call Obama a terrorist while Palin relishes the development strike one as insincere, and really as attempt to whitewash certain individuals. I never thought I could feel sorry for Palin, but this feels like a hatchet job.
Xia nu bao ta jie (1976)
Not THAT "Shaolin Temple"
I was kind of tricked into watching this since I thought I was recording the much better known 1976 film "Shaolin Temple", but this is really the Taiwanese film "Seven Spirit Pagoda" under another title. The Emperor is betrayed and killed, and his general flees with his son the Prince. They are ambushed, the general is killed, and the Prince is poisoned. The general's daughters must protect the Prince from his enemies while getting the antidote from the top floor of a seven story monastery ... each floor guarded by a monk. An enjoyably action-filled film with some interesting gender switches. Unfortunately, the print I recorded from TV is full frame, badly dubbed and edited for time.
A masterpiece from Von Trier
I watched this a second time since Jen hadn't gone to see it with me in theatre. It still stands up as my favourite film of last year. I think too much stock is put in some quarters on a heavily metaphorical reading of the planet, which Von Trier seems to encourage a bit by actually calling it "Melancholia". I don't think too much stock should be placed on this. This film seems to be a rather clear companion piece to "Antichrist". Von Trier seems to believe that people who go through the type of emotional trauma that depression brings emerge with a clearer and more accurate grasp of reality and are better equipped to deal with the world than those with a sunny, rationalist faith in the world and it's apparent order.
Eyes Wide Shut (1999)
Kubrick's slightest film
On repeat viewing, this is my least favourite Kubrick film. I do not think his leads are up to the task. Cruise is simply okay, as he often is, but Kidman is really quite terrible. Kubrick has a tendency to let his characters overact which can work out well (George C. Scott in "Dr. Strangelove") or not so well (Patrick Magee in "A Clockwork Orange). In Kidman's case, it's quite disastrous. 2 1/2 hours is far too long for such a slight story, and it seems to have been stretched out by slowing the dialogue to a deathly pace in most scenes. While the plot largely follows Schnitzler's novel, he has replaced the novel's conclusion with a puzzlingly arbitrary resolution that seems completely detached from the plot that precedes it.