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Death Proof (2007)
I am a huge fan of 70s exploitation/grindhouse films from the U.S, Japan and Europe, including slasher, WIP, gang, biker, sleaze, etc. However, I have to state that Deathproof is absolutely wretched. The lazy script doesn't give you any reason to sympathize with any character and chews your ears off with boring, pointless dialog. The long scene with the girls talking endlessly (you know which one I'm talking about) was possibly the worst use of film EVER. I'd rather watch Barbra Striesand in "A Star is Born" again that sit through that single Deathproof scene again. If Quentin Tarantino ever had any talent, it is not evident in this film at all. Avoid at all cost, or stare into the face of boredom.
Joshuu sasori: Kemono-beya (1973)
Unfortunately, the third film in the Sasori series isn't of the same quality as the first two films. The script is vastly inferior to the first two, and in particular, the second film. The pace through the majority of the film is glacial at best, with the first twenty to thirty minutes being almost painfully slow. This is in stark contrast to the energy of the second film, Female Convict Scorpion: Jailhouse 41. Kaji Meiko is stellar as usual, but just doesn't have much to work with. Director Ito Shunya utilizes some of the signature visual flare that he demonstrated in the first two films, but not frequently or creatively enough in this effort. On a scale of 1 to 10, this film rates about a 6, with Kaji Meiko earning almost all of that score, while the first film is about an 8 and the second a 10.
El buque maldito (1974)
This is an interesting film, because it's both putrid and quite good at the same time. The cast, acting, and dialogue are simply horrendous. It might be one of the worst casts ever, playing characters that are completely unsympathetic, with some of the worst dialogue ever written. The character decision making and motivations are so phony and wooden, that it makes the first half of the movie almost impossible to sit through.
This film has some redeeming value. The ghost galleon set is simply amazing... a terrific, atmospheric location for this film. I'm curious about whether this set was built specifically for the film, because it's quite convincing. The Blind Dead are some of the best skeleton/zombie-type characters and effects I've ever seen on film. I also love the music and chanting that accompanies the Blind Dead.
If the film had a little more violence by the Blind Dead, some gratuitous nudity, cleaned up sfx of the boat when shot from a distance (a larger model shot in slo-mo would suffice), a complete overhaul of the dialogue, and a better cast, this film would have been a classic. The premise is that good. It's easy to see that almost no additional money could have made this film a great one. This split decision garners a 5/10.
This has to be one of the most underrated horror films ever made. The main reason that this film is maligned is because it doesn't feature Mike Myers. The story is a nice change of pace from the endless slasher flicks of the time period, and the ending is quite a surprise. Forget about Mike Myers and try this one out. It's a shame that Carpenter/Hill didn't continue the Halloween-themed series that they initially planned to do. I would have enjoyed creative films like this one.
Again, if you think this film is sub-par, go back and watch the late-70s and early-80s slasher crap that we were bombarded with. I'll take this film over that junk any day...
"There's no more time. Please stop it. Stop it now. Turn it off! Stop it! Stop it! Stop it! Stop it! STOP IT!"
Chow lok yuen (2003)
What a waste of time and money. I recently saw this film at the Philadelphia Film Festival and reduced my expectations so that I was only going to enjoy the 3-D effects. Not only was the film a complete mess of bad acting with a terrible screenplay, the 3-D effects were only used for about ten percent of the film, and the effects were barely noticeable, using old red/blue (anaglyph) 3-D technology. It seemed like the film wasn't even filmed to take advantage of the use of 3-D. This replaces Jaws 3-D and Amityville 3-D as the worst 3-D film I've ever seen. Next year at the festival, I'll have to avoid these gimmicky, low-end horror/action films. This film isn't even worth it for the curiosity factor. Stay away.
Sans soleil (1983)
This is not a documentary
To call this film a documentary is to cheapen it. It's life on screen, not a mere document. It's poetry... and I'm not sure that word is adequate. How about your view of how you live and the world around you? Have you ever seen a film that gave you the questions to ask yourself? This film is startling... I can't praise it enough. My mind was exhausted by considering the layered imagery, both audio and visual, and the contextual shifts between them. How does anyone pick up a camera after seeing this? You might as well toss it in the trash because Marker has made Earth's last film.
It's a crime that this film is not available on VHS or DVD in the U.S. Fans of this film should also seek out "The Koumiko Mystery", another transcendant film by Chris Marker.
Le mystère Koumiko (1967)
Not as well known as "La Jetee" and "Sans Soleil", this is another great film by Chris Marker. The subject of the film, a young Japanese woman during the time of the Tokyo Olympiad (1962) is fascinating. Don't call it a documentary... it's a look inside this young woman's world. A brilliant film that I look forward to seeing again. This is going to be hard to locate, but I highly recommend you do so, particularly if you enjoyed "Sans Soleil" like I did.
Joshû 701-gô: Sasori (1972)
Great Japanese exploitation story featuring the incomparable Kaji Meiko ("Lady Snowblood"). Excellent cinematography and use of set pieces as well as exaggerated angles and lighting. As enjoyable as this film is, it's not the best in the series... the second chapter, also directed by Ito Shunya and starring Kaji Meiko ("Joshuu sasori: Dai-41 zakkyo-bô", aka "Female Convict Scorpion: Jailhouse 41") is a transcendent piece of filmmaking and eclipses the first film in every regard: cinematography, locations, acting, script, and music.
A Star Is Born (1976)
This is a horrid disaster of a film. From beginning to end, it's filled with bad acting and even worse direction and editing. The only redeeming parts of the film are a few numbers by Streisand, because the Kristofferson parts are impossible to watch or listen to. The main problem of this film is that we never see Kristofferson's character at his peak or Streisand's character struggling. The first should be seen in decline and the second rising. The final Streisand number _could have been_ one of the greatest finales in film, if it was directed and edited properly. The single framed shot of her face for the duration of the song was a terrible mistake. Had the band, audience and wide shots of the stage been shown, this number could have been dynamic and interesting. This film must have been directed and edited by an NYU film school dropout. The only thing worse may be the wretched screenplay. The final musical number is the only redeeming part of this film, and even that is botched completely by misguided technical decisions.
While U.S. directors were creating staid and dull dramas and comedies in the early sixties, Shindo created a film that was far beyond what the U.S. audiences could have bared. Hollywood? Shindo could have burned Hollywood down to the ground with this film. No standard Hollywood camerawork here.... in Onibaba, the camera is a weapon, the tension is physical... We are presented with three characters: a mother-in-law, a daughter-in-law, and a soldier who has returned from war who live like peasants and struggle to survive on a desolate plain on the outskirts of a war near Kyoto, Japan. The permutations of possible relationships and situations between these three are endless.... but only one can occur and we wait breathlessly for the result.