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Unsettling amateur work
Grainy 8mm black & white short film, without any dialog. (An ambient-type soundtrack has been dubbed in.) Basically a filming of sections of Oscar Wilde's "Salome" but without audible dialog it's a little tough to follow. The cast are quite young and the main actress appears in contemporary garb. Although the film is made quite cheaply, the elements of macabre eroticism that would figure in Clive Barker's later work are evident. Recommend for fans of Clive Barker, this is not a feature-quality production but has it's moments while it lasts.
As a note, the DVD version of this film also contains another weird Barker short ("The Forbidden") with graphic and bizarre content that seems like an early rough draft for "Hellraiser". There is also an extensive Barker interview, as well as a ridiculous promotional into with an Elvira-type topless vampire hostess drooling blood all over other unclad ladies.
For value to Barker fans and the fact that it sticks in one's head, 6/10 Non-Barker fans would likely find it a 3/10
Not so good...
Normally I don't like to bash indie cinema (It's more fun to trash movies that are poorly crafted but cost $$$ to make) but I have to make an exception. I was fooled by the high IMDb rating and reviews on this turkey, which must have
been posted by friends of the creator. Let me say upfront that I'm far from
religious, and appreciate good satire in the vein of Election. This was too dumb to be called satire.
A Jesus with a whiny Brookyln accent shows up nude in NYC (a'la "The Terminator") and crafts a spandex powder blue "superhero costume" to relate to today's youth. Lots of scatology and sex jokes as Jesus turns the
commandments to pro casual sex to win converts. The video and especially
audio are sub-porno quality. "Jesus" fights Richard Nixon (guy in rubber Nixon mask) Jim Morrison and Dracula. An interesting concept badly executed. Look
elsewhere for religious humor not so puerile, I suggest "The Life of Brian".
The Ring (2002)
Stop that, that's silly!!
(Very mild spoilers)
Remember that classic Monty Python skit about the old women stealing babies? Mid-way through, a man in a British army officer uniform breaks in and stops the skit, Complaining that "this was a perfectly good skit about stealing babies and then it got SILLY so next time hat happens I'm going to stop it.
Something like that needed to happen in the last 20 minutes on The Ring. What started out as a perfectly good B horror movie got ridiculous. Not the "it's coming out of the TV" part (I apologize to those who genuinely were scared as horror is a very personal thing) or cheesy "sucked dry" corpse, but the sad "answer" at the end that points out about 40 plot holes big enough to dive a
MAC truck through (already listed by many others) What could have been an
unsettling vague ending with a memorably creepy Surrealist B&W video
(reminiscent of NIN "Closer video) to haunt your dreams is spoiled by the
The film is undeniably well crafted and the acting is above "B" quality, but many "B" films have been more unsettling simply by witholding the answers and letting the visuals or atmosphere linger without Zombie Stalker horror or
ridiculous coicidences and plot devices. Reference the original "Phantasm",
"Blair Witch Project", "Picnic at Hanging Rock" or "Dead Ringers" for films with similarly implausible subject matter that are extremely effective by what they DON'T include. As stated above, horror is a personal experience and what
scares some may make other (me) laugh in the theatre despite my best efforts. A little subtlety at the denoument could have made this an eerily effective thriller instead of something that falls apart at the end.
Le pacte des loups (2001)
Never a dull moment.
Sometimes this movie provoked awe at it's visual landscapes and other times it caused unintentional laughter at it's kung fu action. But all in all I have to say I was never bored by it and would watch it again. The plot is pure hokum (for those interested the real story of the beast is very fascinating and can be found in many online rescources) as Hawkeye and Tonto use kung fu to start the
enlightenment and free France from evil. There is some stuff about overcoming ignorance and superstition but a giant prehistoric animal is tracked with peyote, so...
BUT, you can made the ridiculous believable when the cast plays along this effectively, and the costumes are as good as I have seen anywhere. Sets like the ruined Templar cathedral, and the palace at Versailles are beautiful and detailed. It's COOL, guys, cool like James Dean if not Miles Davis and
sometimes cool doesn't have to explain itself, you just know it when you see it. 8/10
Brain Dead on Arrival
A fan of the first film and the novel that preceded this, I did not expect much from this film as neither the author of the book or director of the film was on board for this "sequel", let alone cast. On a lark, I taped it off HBO so it did not cost any $$ and tried to be understanding and treat it as a "B" movie, hoping for laughs. No such luck. The film is a poorly written attempt at black comedy, like someone wanted ot combine "Election" with "American Psycho" but came up
with what would be an insult to the "Devil in the Flesh" movies it more closely resembles. I apologize for being mean, but it's a bad idea to have a voice-over narrative when your actress has a terrible lisp. (and can't act). Anyone who was involved in this film should take year off to carefully evaluate what they are doing with their careers and why they wanted to be in the entertainment
Long hu feng (1976)
A young man who is a social misfit joins a kung-fu academy but still unable to fit in, turns to a life of crime. A former friend who tried to help him must track him down. Unique for it's "nail-throwing" combat scenes. Spot the modern home furnishings and farm machines in this picture shot in medieval China. For the genre it is an entertaining film, with constant kung-fu action the last 40 minutes. Sold as a double feature on DVD with "Mantis vs Falcon Claws" in the Brooklyn Zu series from noble house.
The Rules of Attraction (2002)
If you liked this...
then hopefully you will grow out of it.
It looks like Beavis and his buddy went to film school, found out that the rights to one of the books by "that one dude who wrote that movie where that
chick got cut in half by a chainsaw" (Ps that film realized it was a SATIRE) wasn't purchased yet, read half of it, filmed "the cool parts" and shipped it out in a few weeks. Filming in reverse doesn't make you a genius, kids. Go join Butt-head on the set of "Kill Bill" and disappear forever. Please.
One thing alone makes this almost work, and that's the performance of Rachel Blanchard. With minimal lines or character development, she does an
amazing job of making her character almost three dimensional. Without her
ability, this film could have across as a character assassination of "loose"
women and new age dingbats. As it is, this is not a terrible film but it needed more work in my opinion. The back of the disc says Renfo is "stalked" by a
"psychotic" young woman so Keitel (like in his "cleaner" roles in "Pulp Fiction" or that Bridget Fonda thing?) has to intervene to save his son. Apparently the
publicist or media people either never watched it or had no idea how to market it! The box makes it seem like "Swimfan" or something! Instead it's Lifetime V for men too close to their dads, but Blanchard, who should get better work, holds this together enough to make it watchable. 6/10
The Slaughter Rule (2002)
This is not a movie that will make one feel warm inside or good about humanity. The motives of the characters, and their actions, are often disturbing. But I found a great deal to appreciate in the effort that the writer and the actors brought to this. Along the lines of "Chuck and Buck" or the "Good Girl" in it's power to stay with you and make you think about people and things you might
not want to! I saw a film today called "Igby Goes Down" with A list stars and a relatively high budget that was extremely pompous and made no effort to
communicate. This small film easily outshines it on every level. I grew up in rural South Dakota and Minnesota and football is that serious a business there, and there are as many disturbing elements and people around this "heartland" as
anywhere else. Extra thanks to Ryan Gosling (who has been good in everything
so far) David Morse and Clea DuVall for their great efforts here.
Vanilla Sky (2001)
If you saw the original...
...than this has to be a disappointment. I wish I could see it "for the first time" again because Abre los Ojos was a masterpiece to me. Maybe I was SO deathly bored because I already knew what was going to happen? Also, please Mr Crowe, we know you love rock music but it's not a SUBSTITUTE for emotion. Please turn it dow, the old Monkees and Beach Boys makes this seem like a weak acid flick like Jack Nicholson's "Psyche Out".
Penelope Cruz seemed like a much better actress with subtitles, the reading is so monotone. The Cameron Diaz character was better in the first film because there was less of a "relationship" between her and David and she was less attractive. This makes her more dangerous, the more casual realtionship makes David more of a heel. Crowe, of course, would hesitate to make any main character less than likable, especially Tom Cruise, a fine actor who is miscast as he brings too much audience presupposition to this. The dialoge is TOO MUCH, as Crowe seems to want to add more meaning, more statements to a fine film that simply weigh it down. Unlike most foreign films, you cannot find Abre los Ojos boring or pretentious even if you hated it. Sadly, we can't say that this time around.
** 1/2 as my expectations may be too high compared to the first film, but the soundtrack and banter are too much.