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10 years in the band Uncle Wiggly
Worked at Amoeba Music in San Francisco
loves Horror HongKongFilms LarryCohen CoffinJoe Gore WernerHerzog Tarkovsky QuickChange TheLimey GodzillaVs.TheSmogMonster BobClark TheKingdom Kwaidan EvilDeadEvilDeadIIandEvilDeadTrap!
Shi gan (2006)
If I can spare at least one fan of Kim Ki-duk's other films from wasting their time on this sub-par offering, then my work here is done. Time is perhaps the director's most straightforward film, which isn't necessarily a bad thing, but in this case the lack of complexity and hyperrealism found in some of his better films makes this one a failure by comparison. Time makes some fairly obvious statements about identity, jealousy and attachment (as opposed to real, true love.) No doubt some viewers (especially those unfamiliar with the director's other work) will find these statements deep and moving (and the fairly pat and predictable narrative easy to follow.) The director is nonetheless an artful cinematographer and this film is not without its charming scenes and symbolic and visual merit. However, compared to the complex, cerebral and occasionally magical dramatic presentation of films like The Isle and 3-Iron, this offering from Kim falls miserably short.
Sud pralad (2004)
I Need to Write This in Order to Move On...
I actually feel bad that I did not connect with this film. For all its perceived depth noted in other comments here (and in the pages of Film Comment magazine), this experimental Thai film left me unmoved and even a bit irritated. Perhaps I was not "viewing with my heart," as another commenter suggested was necessary.
The one redeeming factor for me was the opportunity for a realistic glimpse of rural Thailand, and some scenes were indeed beautifully photographed.
I am no stranger to experimental and non-narrative structures in film, but found myself fast-forwarding through much of this piece, especially the latter "folkloric" half.
Inscrutable and languidly paced do not always equal a soulful, moving film experience, and I can't help but wonder if some of the praise for this one comes from those willing to be blown away by anything impenetrably arty.
There really is not a lot to this film, not much happens per se, and it is left to the viewer to project one's own sensory or emotional illuminations onto the structure, what little there is. I was unable to make this leap, cold-hearted bastard that I am.
Cathartic viewing; and no damn spoilers herein!
It kills me the way the user comments on the IMDb are so often flooded with basic storyline information and/or outright spoilers. (i.e., "Warren Oates plays Benny, a drunken blah blah blah.") Everybody wants to be the next Roger Ebert (though God knows why.) "Bring Me The Head of Alfredo Garcia" is a title custom-designed to SAY ALL THAT NEEDS TO BE SAID. Tell me THAT title, tell me Warren Oates is in it, and I'm there. Granted, it's been a good 30 years, so some of the particulars of the story have leaked out. But read any other comments here, and you risk knowing more than you should the first time out with this one.
This movie flattened me. Desperation and flies, lots of flies. Yes, Peckinpah's films are violent. When I was a little kid in the early 70s, way before I was allowed to see movies like this, I knew of Peckinpah's reputation. Now I see that the violence herein is a total smokescreen, a sign of the times, a way to sell movie tickets. Human emotion is where these films are really at.
Peckinpah was Jim Thompson with a camera, and he told some great stories in a maverick style. Today's pre-fab, "hip" postmodern filmmakers are not worthy of a brutal, bizarre tale such as this. Sure, Kill Bill was a lot of fun - but the viewer hovers safely on the perimeter, like one flipping noncommittally (if enthusiastically) through the pages of a comic book. You will not be able to view Bring Me The Head of Alfredo Garcia with such entertainment-value indifference. You'll be up all night typing (like me), or drinking, or doing whatever it is you do when your head is reeling from a true cathartic viewing experience.
The Wire (2002)
Like a great novel
Season 3 of The Wire ended like a great novel, in a series of great novels, about crime, politics, "po-lice" and personalities in the City of Baltimore. The Wire truly has no equivalent on American TV, more akin to something like the British miniseries Traffik, or Robert Altman's Short Cuts, but really in a class by itself. The show also doesn't fetch the ratings of HBO's other blockbuster series, like The Sopranos or Deadwood, but so far the network has stood behind what is indisputably a creative / artistic success. Viewers accustomed to having a Tony Soprano or an Al Swearingen to latch onto may be daunted by The Wire's 2-dozen or so "main" characters, all given equal importance within multiple story lines. The concurrent tales all buoy one another, and as the season draws to a close, they begin to merge and compliment each other in unexpected ways. No detail is too small to not be done with great care, and no significant threads are left to hang, which also speaks to the brilliance of the writers.
The Wire is no less than a dramatic triumph, and I can't wait for a new season.
Lobes of Fun
This is the finest bizarro Euro-exploitation piece that I have seen in a long time.
Certainly, Quentin Tarantino is a fan of this wild 1973 Franco-Spanish co-production starring horror legend Paul Naschy. Few films can successfully combine a botched jewel heist, a brain transplant and a mysterious character known only as "The Sadist." Naschy's role, though pivotal, is actually minimal, with few lines and only a few key scenes. The real story is played out by a gang of motley character types, of which the females are especially malicious and memorable.
Crimson has the right combination of impossibly contrived storyline and dazzling color visuals that one looks for in this kind of movie.
The Image Entertainment DVD (for sale on Amazon, though not linked to this page) is a sharp widescreen print, with a few nifty extras, including the alternate "erotic scenes" (not featuring Naschy, but the switch over to the bad body double is hilarious!).
Mou gaan dou (2002)
I enjoy HK films for being HK films I didn't need a Hong Kong director to go and make a Michael Mann film, which is what this is. It's so well liked by so many, that I couldn't resist sharing my very different perceptions.
The male leads (Tony Leung, in most cases, is an exceptionally realistic and emotive actor) are only defined by the activities they're engaged in to drive the plot. The female characters are at best peripheral, at worst idiotic.
"A brilliant cat and mouse tale" "Psycholiogical thriller" Yeah, whatever. The whole thing's pretty wooden if you ask me. Beast Cops is a film that suggested a new direction for HK cop/robber films. I'd like to see more like that. Infernal Affairs is over-polished, shallow, pandering-to-Hollywood rubbish.
Haute tension (2003)
Well-made French thriller with loads of splatter
A brutally single-minded serial killer and rapist is stalking the French countryside-or is he? Haute Tension is a tight, grisly thriller that wastes little time getting right down to business, i.e., there's a bare minimum of tedious setup before the 'fun' begins. Some of the kill scenes are so intense that even a seasoned horror fan such as myself squirmed a bit in my seat; I even let out an involuntary "whoa" more than once. Make what you will of the story's 'twist' in the latter half-hour. Though I saw it coming, that didn't hamper my enjoyment in the slightest of the film overall. Not a great film, or a deeply cathartic experience, the very-appropriately-titled Haute Tension (High Tension) nonetheless delivers the goods for genre fans and will likely thrill a lot of regular moviegoers as well.
Just Before Dawn (1981)
Classy Low-Budget Thriller
Looking past its obvious trappings as a camper/slasher flick, Just Before Dawn actually fares better as a film than its more successful contemporary, Friday The 13th, as it's much more than just a number of kill scenes loosely strung together. Just Before Dawn also very much satisfied my need to see films that I missed during my 'coming of age' period, basically 1966-1983. The so-called 'neo-realism' and subtlety of that period of American (and to some extent, European) film making still captures a form of expression which I hold dear.
There are a few too many false scares (as is a given with the genre), but also a wealth of great scenes and creepy ideas, the likes of which have not been employed before or since. The constant, unsympathetic beauty of nature is as much a character in the story as any other, and the outdoor photography is worthy of Herzog. Where some of the acting is sub-par, George Kennedy turns in a wonderfully understated performance as the park ranger, and the two principal campers show a lot more depth than the typical victim-waiting-to-be-impaled-on-a-machete. The ending is equal parts predictable, brutal and ultimately surprising, leaving the viewer a bit stunned as the credits roll plainly over a dull sunrise. Just Before Dawn should be a welcome addition to any collection of American cinematic horror.
Too Bad It's Gone...
I've just watched the 'series finale' of Angel, and I want to express just how sorry I am to see it go. I feel like Jack Nicholson in As Good As It Gets when he has to give the dog back to Greg Kinnear - "Over a dog..." I realize Angel was in its way a really silly show, but it seems to have come into its own in this, the fifth and final season. Ideas grew all over the place, ideas that still had a lot of room to develop. The show maintained a fertile, creative freshness throughout, and I was genuinely surprised when I heard that the WB was canceling the show. Has not the Joss Wheedon franchise a tremendous international fan base?
When this season comes out on DVD, it will be the one to have, trust me. I'll especially miss James Marsters as Spike (a classic antihero, like Vegeta in DragonBall Z) and Amy Acker as Illyria, the ancient demonic entity embodied in the former Winifred Burkle. They were even delving into some Cassavettes-esque conversational drama this season, particularly between the old warring sidekicks, Angel and Spike. The whole "fighting the good fight against evil" aspect of the show was also oddly inspiring to an old cynic Satanist Existentialist such as myself. They usually escaped corniness by keeping the goodwill dangerous, and the good guys flawed and fallible. The jokey episodes were inventive and engaging enough that I never rolled my eyes once, even during the "Puppet Episode." Well it's water under the bridge, but I sure wish that with all the crap on American TV, Angel could have stuck around a bit longer.
Beautiful People in a Floaty Dance of Nothing
I must slam this film if only to reclaim the 90 minutes or so that I cannot ever regain (I ffwd through the last half hour.) The Mrs. and I loved Irma Vep and were intrigued enough by the premise and cast of Demonlover to have a look. This film has an excellent look and feel, so you're taken in at first, until you realize there's no real reason for any of the action and you dislike all the characters, and that's just dislike, because you're not really involved enough to actually HATE them. The music selection is cool, the film even opens with a song by the legendarily obscure German band NEU! The clothes are fab, the whole thing is lit in a cool blue half the time, but the story is a wispy corporate spy drama, with its meat drawn straight from the screenplay of Videodrome. At first we thought we were enjoying ourselves, but ultimately Demonlover is a tired lay.