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Push It To The Floor Till The Engine Screams
Amazing, stylistic, supremely gory, animalistic, blood soaked, violent, with a killer look, score and soundtrack reminiscent of Michael Mann's Thief, only better.
Gosling's brooding loner Driver has nearly no dialogue, a quality I dig in a character, and yet says everything with just his face, his violence and his stone cold cool scorpion jacket, as he gets himself in high stakes trouble with organized crime in neon lit Los Angeles.
A kickass script, master direction by Nicolas Winding Refn, and a fantastic supporting cast with the mega buxom and super sexy Christina Hendricks, Ron Perlman, Bryan Cranston, Carey Mulligan and comedian Albert Brooks cast against type as a bloodthirsty gangster.
One of the best thrillers of the new millennium bar nada.
Furious Seven (2015)
Fast Furious 7
Sometimes I feel compelled to follow the crowd and see the films everyone else is going to see. Which is how I ended up at a matinée of Furious 7.
Pretty much what I expected, slick, loud and proud filmmaking with by the numbers storytelling, save for a few scenes, my fave being Dwayne Johnson's Luke Hoss' character's insane in the membrane scenes with a minigun trying to takedown a helicopter that's the second coming of Blue Thunder.
The paint-by-numbers plot concerns badass Jason Statham as Deckard Shaw, seeking revenge against badass Vin Diesel as Dominic Toretto, for the near death of his brother.
Mostly it was an exercise in how the filmmakers used semi-believable CGI to have the late Paul Walker as Brian O'Conner seem like he was a lead character in the film, with a rather touching tribute to him in the finale.
One change at the end that might have worked better, rather than an on screen "For Paul" title, show a closeup of Brian's or Dominic's cars with a vanity license plate with seven letters that says, FORPAUL, and then have the car(s) cruise off into the sunset, fast and furious.
Thriller - en grym film (1973)
Thriller Or: Revenge Of The Ginger Cyclops!
The 1973 violent Swedish revenge film Thriller: A Cruel Picture, also known as They Call Her One Eye, greatly influenced Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill and you can see why even with only one eye.
The film has rather racy full-on penetration sex scenes, which were apparently popular at the time, done by body doubles, they actually work and match well intercut with the real actors performing simulated sex in something other than the usual dull missionary position movie sex scenes.
It's a quiet film with little or no score, set in a Swedish small town with perhaps the world's most ineffective police force and most unobservant neighbors ever, pay no attention to that shotgun killing across the road.
Gaps in logic galore in the story of an innocent young ginger girl left mute by a childhood rape who becomes addicted to heroin by a vicious pimp and enslaved into prostitution before honing her skills in hand-to-hand combat, guns and stunt driving before at long last taking her bloody revenge.
Ridiculous yet one of the better cult films I've seen.
Fifty Shades of Grey (2015)
O' Fifty Shades!
In the spirit of Saint Valentine's Day, I bought into the hype and went to see the film Fifty Shades of Grey.
As someone once wrote, the ending was less a grand finale than a grand finally. Wooden acting, no full frontal nudity, sex scenes cut short. I can't remember the last time a major studio erotic film was released, and this doesn't bode well for a revival of the genre.
Some scenes worked, including some bondage scenes, yet you never feel fully engaged with the innocent female lead Anastasia or the mysterious young billionaire and S&M enthusiast Christian Grey.
My guess is the book was wall to wall sex, which is what made it readable despite the schlock value and the book's humble origins as Twilight fan fiction, the movie needed more of that, or a better screenplay and director.
The Traveling Executioner (1970)
Fields of Ambrosia
One of the great forgotten cinematic gems of yesteryear! From 1970, a young, whipcord fit, badass Stacy Keach stars as Jonas Candide, a traveling executioner who cruises the American South with his beloved portable electric chair, pulling the switch on murderers and thieves in 1918. Keach is shockingly good as he gets caught up in a scheme to save the life of a beautiful German woman slated for execution.
Keach's trademark facial scar is on full display here, not obscured by a mustache as it would be almost forevermore in later films. It adds something to the role, like a tiny crack in an otherwise perfect human statue. The film also features character actor Bud Cort in an early role.
The opening and finale scenes where Keach delivers Jonas' Fields of Ambrosia monologues are some of the best in 1970s cinema, and Jonas Candide is one of the great characters of Seventies film, he's a drunkard, a womanizer, a liar, a glutton, (the massive meal Candide sits down to eat after an execution has to be seen to be believed, massive plates of biscuits, Canadian bacon and Darwin knows what else) yet beneath it all he has a heart, Jonas, like the film, is darkly funny and darkly lovable.
Fantastically directed by Jack Smight, with a fine score by Jerry Goldsmith, and the seemingly only feature film screenplay credit by forgotten rebel screenwriter Garrie Bateson.
If there ever was a Traveling Time Traveler, a jump back into the wayback machine could correct the travesty of not nominating this film for Oscars for Best Actor, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay and Best Picture in 1970!
V/H/S: Viral (2014)
Why Hate On This Film? Bring On Part 4!
Why are people hating on this movie? They're getting basically what they got in the first film! A series of incoherent found footage films strung together with a premise slimmer than an anorexic's g-string!
It really isn't any better or any worse than the other films in the series. It may be the weakest yet it still has something to offer. You've got one great film, Parallel Monsters, very spooky, very trippy. One pretty good film that slowly grows on you, Bonestorm, which is saying something, since I really hate skateboarders. One highly mediocre film, Dante the Great, that's like something out of a lame SyFy Channel movie yet still watchable, and the wrap around film to tie it altogether, (the not so) Vicious Circles, the weakest of the bunch.
Plus there's a short and incoherent section of what looks like a bunch of Latino gangbangers having a party and one vato flips out and slaughters them all for no apparent reason. Weird. Loco.
And there's a gratuitous helping of cringe inducing gore, i.e. a man being dragged to pieces from a moving truck.
You're never getting a masterpiece of horror from the V/H/S movies, you're getting what's expected. One annoyance is the opening segment uses far too much feedback noise, a little of that goes a long way.
Free your mind and watch it for what it is, something to see and enjoy once and forget it! There's no classics to be found here! Adios, pendejos!
The Interview (2014)
Amusing Yet Ultimately Forgettable Or: Haters Are Just Peanut Butter And Jealous!
Rather lazy Christmas this year. Had plenty of drinks on hand so venturing out wasn't a necessity. Ordered in some takeout and watched the über hyped film The Interview on demand. It's pretty much slick, glossy, instantaneously disposable entertainment. Amusing, at times gorily violent, yet ultimately forgettable other than its dangerous premise of Seth Rogen and James Franco's TV talk show characters assassinating North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un. The best on screen chemistry is the bromance that develops in an extended sequence between James Franco's naive Dave Skylark talk show host character and Randall Park as Kim Jong-un himself. Seth Rogen, again, simply plays Seth Rogen and gets some laughs doing it save for a painfully unfunny and trite anal sex joke sequence. These guys can do better than this, or can they? Still, worth seeing if you're a fan of Franco and Rogen. Time for another drink. Happy holidaze.
The Last of Us (2013)
One Of The Greatest Games Of All Time (So Far)
The overall zombie/post-apocalyptic/infected/dystopian story may be somewhat trite, yet that doesn't halt The Last of Us from being one of the best and most cinematic video game experiences ever.
You can see multiple filmic influences throughout the game, 28 Days Later, The Road, Dawn of the Dead, Pontypool, Rec, The Road Warrior.
You play the game as two (soul) survivors, a hard boiled man who's lost everything and a cocky young girl who just may have the solution to save the world.
It's very much like interacting in a live action film rather than just playing a game. These feel like real people and not just game characters.
Looking forward to the inevitable sequel(s).
Portrait Of An Old Man As The Human Torch
Came across this documentary some years ago on the Sundance Channel about an eccentric man almost a century old, American expatriate George Whitman, running an avant-garde bookstore in Paris and it took me by surprise. Whitman lives at his bookstore 24-7, aspiring writers and college students, total strangers, come to stay for free, with none of the modern day paranoia type background checks, and in exchange for room and board perform odd jobs round the bookstore.
The meal preparation scenes are arresting, don't know how many health code violations they had or how many roaches and cleaning products they they mixed into the meals. Nothing quite like pancakes and cleaning products. We also get interviews with Whitman himself and his gorgeous daughter Sylvia Beach Whitman as well as various other French, British and American commentators on their musings about the legendary and eclectic bookstore and all the great literary figures who's visited there, among them William S. Burroughs, Langston Hughes, Henry Miller, Jack Kerouac. It seems like a place that's falling down and in disrepair but somehow survived in an era of mass gentrification.
The highlight of the film is the climax when we see Whitman do his version of The Human Torch, I leave it at that and say it is something that has to be seen to be believed.
The film also features the gorgeous redheaded student George Davey in her first and possibly only film appearance. She has a memorable scene where she mixes up a pancake batter like glue to fix a loose section of the bookstore's carpet. There is a shot of Davey's bouncing breasts as she stamps down the loose carpet that is one of the sexiest shots in documentary cinema.
The only negatives may be is that the film isn't long enough and might have seen a wide release if it was at least twenty minutes longer. Shakespeare & Company is a place many'd be willing to learn about a lot longer than the current humble and under an hour running time.
Simple and haunting classic theme music is used to great effect throughout the film. It was shot a few years before the advent of high definition video cameras but the image quality is still good.
Portrait of a Bookstore as an Old Man recalls of a simpler and romanticized time when it seemed one could go to Paris, live cheap, have intellectual conversations, and be a writer. In this day and age of cultural downfall it's good to see a part of the past that's actually worth preserving still survives.
Everything Must Go (2010)
It's An Art Movie! Huck The Faters!
Everything Must Go is an art movie. Maybe that wasn't the director's intention but that's how I'll classify it.
I give it 3 stars out of 4.
Just a very simple, and ultimately touching, story about a man who's life is falling apart and it is purely his own fault.
It is nice to see Will Ferrell ACT and not play his normal over the top persona in comedies.
This is a QUIET movie. Just a mellow ride with some humor, some drama, a pleasant setting, good cinematography and production values and interesting characters. One of the better films I've seen this year! I might even be tempted to give it 3 and 1/2 stars! It is like hanging out in a museum for the day or a quiet afternoon enjoying a good bottle of wine. Not something you'd want to do everyday but for an afternoon it is a nice diversion from the mad, mad, crazy world we live in.
And no, it is NOT a guilty pleasure. It is a good film but not for everyone. Somehow I think this might have worked better as a UK or French film.
I love a slam bang movie like Kick-Ass or Inglourious Basterds or Oldboy as much as the next cat. But this isn't that movie.
Like I said, it is a quiet art movie. Like The Music of Chance starring James Spader from back in the 90s.
Writer-director Dan Rush did a very good job. Especially since this is his FIRST film and first Internet Movie Database credit! It is almost like something Hal Hartley might have done but less quirky.