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Shut Up and Kiss Me (2010)
I liked it
I love that the notion of a non-monogamist man and a fully monogamist man decide to make it work. They do love each other and, I trust, they continue to set boundaries and grow from this. There are very complicated and "gray" feelings that can come up between people. Often, I have seen first-hand such a couple go through life completely fooling themselves. In this film, the writer bravely shows us a couple who recognize infidelity and decide to trudge ahead. That is very honest. I've seen reviews here where some feel our main character is copping-out in some way. I think he's really willing to accept his man without any false hopes that he'll change in the future. One can go through life waiting for Mr. Right who can do No Wrong. One can wait an eternity and never meet anyone in that process. Life is short, love who you love and accept who they are. Our main character should be confident enough to realize that, although his partner may have quick sex with someone else at any point, it's ultimately meaningless. He may also change since this could be his first truly meaningful love. Most people get really selfish in relationships and refuse to share...but it often happens without them knowing it. It happens to many people gay and straight. This couple is fully up front with that from the start and I find that very brave. It may not be one persons idea of a true, loving relationship but it will be for someone else. A couple ultimately decides what is allowed in their relationship and there is no set template in society that should decide that for them. What is considered wrong for some people and what is considered right is really nobody else's business but the two men involved in this relationship. I found the acting by the two lead men very credible. Ronnie Kerr has long been a favorite of mine and Scott Gabelein (resembling a young Dennis Quaid) is very good as well. I was quite surprised at the main character took the route he did, but I don't blame him one bit. I'm glad he chose to experience this situation at least once. It may work or it may not - but at least they both are trying.
Warlock Moon (1973)
I love this movie!!!!!
I think it was 1982 when I saw this on late night TV, Channel 2 KTVU from San Francisco Bay Area. I was living in Nevada at the time but thanks to (then) cable TV I was able to enjoy all the gems/classic horror movies that were featured on late night TV from the Bay Area. When one is up at midnight watching TV alone in the dark you tend to remember moments that shock the hell out of you and make you want to dive under your blanket and clutch your pillow for comfort...such as the very opening sequence of this film. The best that can be said about the Shriek Show DVD is that it retains the '70's luster, look and feel that I remember. The print used has not been offered in a flawless transfer and that's fine by me. I love seeing these films as if they were playing on the drive-in screen complete with lines, speckles and reel change 'jumps'. I'm not thrilled, however, upon finding out the Shriek Show DVD has some sort of "bug" where approx. 11 minutes of footage are skipped over and completely missing. I think you can somehow see the footage but you have to scan to it first and then let it play out. Very, very odd and the issue was never resolved with that company as far as I know. I'm sure they're still selling the flawed DVD right now without corrections for the fans of this film. Anyway - a shout out to the filmmakers of this film who posted here: whatever bad experiences you had making this film it was NOT all-for-not! You have some fans who really appreciate the effort and find this film almost essential '70's film viewing. The two lead actors are great, the opening is scary, the middle is intriguing and the ending is a downbeat humdinger. THANK YOU! - A fan forever
Soda Pop (2001)
You are...what you drink...
When I flashback to my "formative" years, one of the most prominent memories of my childhood were the long trips to 7-11 under the hot, sweltering summers in Reno, Nevada. We'd often take breaks in a nearby park to drink Big Gulps and pass away the lazy afternoons doing absolutely nothing before we went back home. Other feelings dominate my memories: the unspoken understandings of friendships, the solace of friendship against the hostile environment we grew up in...we escaped to escape. Even if it was for a few short hours, we learned more about ourselves than anybody cared to in our own homes. We knew when to joke and when to stop before it became a fight, we knew how to laugh even though we were reprimanded for doing so among our own families. We also asked questions - those we couldn't bring ourselves to ask our own parents. We also confessed school crushes...of which some surprising names were brought up... Similar feelings are evoked when one watches Patric McGuinn's excellent short feature "Sodapop". Set around the same exact time as my growing up years, "Sodapop" tells us of the rural, coming of age story of a young man immediately smitten with a new exchange student. There are some serious sensibilities at work in this film. All are brought to life by a narrator who sounds startlingly like the voice in my head...if one were to vocalize a narration of my own memories, I'm certain they would sound exactly like the narrator in this film. All at once eschewing obvious schmaltz but evoking a rather universal feeling of wanting to be wanted, the films dives right in to a year that is most special to our main character...and most difficult at the same time. Our main character is not above tolerating his worst enemy, the local homophobic bully, in order to befriend the exotic exchange student who has come to town. Much to his disdain, the new Spanish student is staying with the family of the local bully who seems to zero in on our main character whenever Roberto is around in order to openly ridicule him. As soon as he sees Roberto for the first time at a nearby gas station, he is confident enough to want to induce a friendship but he is unsure if Roberto can reciprocate. Inexpereince and adolescence-be-damned, he is about to find out as much as he can. By the film's end, one never knows if he was successful in getting the object of his affections, but it doesn't really matter. Many of us have been there. We have been clumsy in our attempts to seek out, befriend, charm or flat-out seduce the one we have feelings for. Successful or not, we can, at the very least, look back on those (sometimes) humiliating memories with a certain fondness and innocence. Our main character seems to have an uncanny ability to wear his humiliations as a badge of honor - at once proud he could actually take the abuse of his enemy yet out-breakdance him in front of Roberto. When life gives you lemons... Just like the memories this film evokes, "Sodapop" is cold and it burns a little when it goes down...but the after-taste is oh-so-sweet.
SPF 2000 (1998)
Unique and ahead of its time
Long before the advent of remastered DVDs which were able to bring the kitschy European sex romps from the 1960's and early 1970's to the home theaters of today's cult film fanatics, was the era of late-night cable TV in the early 1980's. It was an era of sleep-deprived nights for me - all of 10 years old and fighting sleep in order to catch the R-rated adventures of continent-hopping EMMANUELLE, the carnal appeal of THE SENSUOUS NURSE and the desires of MS. DON JUAN. This is not to say I had sought these films out just to see how far the R-rating was going to be pushed - far from it, actually. My chosen genre was the (then) buzzing horror genre with its wild, violent special effects and cookie cutter teens-in-peril plots. In between viewings of such films, cable offered the next best thing to the forbidden lure of R-rated films: the untapped appeal of the European sex film. Looking back, those films are actually quite tasteful compared to the lengths current hardcore sex films and, surprisingly, popular cinema has gone to excite audiences. I was curious to see just who this Sylvia Kristal person was; just how far Ursula Andress would take things more than Bo Derek. This is not to say such films persuaded my sexuality. Far from it. Such films remain a staple of my youth...a much beloved staple to be exact. Imagine my surprise in 2001 (the week of 9/11) I chose to play my VHS of BOYS IN LOVE 2, a compilation of gay-themed films, for the very first time. Yes, chosen just to get my mind off the(then) horrible headlines that 9/11 brought forth to the world. Imagine my pleasure at being taken back to a time when life was generally innocent and daring at the same time. Patrick McGuinn's short film SPF 2000 played itself out on my TV at 2:45 a.m. with welcome abandon. Suddenly, it was 1980 for me all over again: the worn filmstock, the tinny-sounding dubbed soundtrack, the grooooooooovie music, the absurd situations...only this time instead of a stunningly beautiful nurse, we get two randy young men pining over a young guy who happens to be having a picnic with his mother... No, you haven't smoked too much 420 and you won't need to. Just watch the events in this (criminally) short film unfold. Nothing makes sense and it doesn't have to. Director Patrick McGuinn knows what made those crazy, original films work and he applies their appeal liberally here. It's almost jaw-dropping how close this film comes to actually resembling a product of the era its homaging. Were it not for the "surprise" ending (which, to be honest, is more at home in the home movies of some Roswell fanatic) you are there, in 1980, watching Showtime on a Saturday night at 2:45 a.m. (long after the parents are asleep) - hoping to see something forbidden, but witnessing something surprisingly unjaded, innocent and, yes: kitschy.
Encounter with the Unknown (1973)
FINALLY! The film that has eluded a repeat viewing after all these years!
I first saw this film on TV in 1978. I only watched the middle story, however before we switched channels to watch "And Now the Screaming Starts" instead. I was only 7 years old, but the story and images stuck with me all these years. I caught a glimpse of the second story again (the hole in the earth tale) in 1980 in L.A.'s Greyhound Bus Terminal on a pay-per-view TV in the waiting areas. Ever since 1997 nobody on the many horror movie Internet forums could identify this film for me! Finally in 2004 I went to the microfilms at the local library to look up that date in 1980 in the TV listings and that is where the title Encounter With the Unknown came be...well, known (or re-known to me). Not soon after, I won the one-sheet poster on Ebay. On March 30th, 2007, I finally scored A DVD R of this (in great condition) from Retroflicks.com. The film - in all its grainy filmstock, unprofessional acting, Afterschool Special soundtrack music glory...all make for ONE CREEPY VIEWING!!!! Films that are too slick (the ones made today) lack the punch these older films have. In fact, during the first tale, I was afraid to watch this film alone in my apartment. So I watched TVland reruns until I had to wait until my roommate came home before I resumed. As a veteran of watching a darn-near lifetime of horror movies, that's saying a lot! What can be considered production "short-comings" to mainstream movie viewers actually WORKS in this films favor! I bought the whole experience and I, indeed, refuse to watch this one alone. The documentary feel is a hoot to watch. In fact, if this film was digitally cleaned and remastered it might lose some of its effect. Still, I'm glad I'm reunited with an old favorite that has lost none of its appeal all these years. It's exactly as I remembered it.
The Hearse (1980)
the Hearse - a classy ride
the Hearse came out in the middle of 1980 at a time when R-rated horror features were pulling in most of the box office money. the Hearse is rated PG and was one of the few films I was able to see without adult supervision. Looking through old newspaper ads from 1980, I noticed this film was often paired up on a double bill with DON'T ANSWER THE PHONE throughout 1980 and again in 1981 at a local second-run cinema! Talk about mis-matched couples! I first actually saw the film when it premiered on Showtime in 1982...and I watched every broadcast after that. The new DVD is quite a surprise as it's widescreen and it's enhanced for widescreen TVs! I tend to watch the beginning of the film often because there is a shot of a famous row of houses I live across the park from (one of those homes was used as Brooke Adams' home in 1978's Invasion of the Bodysnatchers and countless other films and TV shows). Also, I walk by the house where Trish Van Devere is carrying her luggage down the steps to her car just about everyday. The rest of the film is a rather classy ghost story which is intriguing and non-exploitive. There's no gruesome violence that, say, DON'T ANSWER THE PHONE had and it's refreshing. I think anyone over the age of 10 can appreciate this film and it's somewhat suitable for the whole family. Trish Van Devere is a strong lead and very appealing in her role. She carries the movie just fine and in a distinguished female lead. Joseph Cotton plays an obnoxious nemesis and pretty much sets the stage as to how the rest of the small town reacts to her being there. They are far less than hospitable and it's not until further on in the film she finds out why. It's at this time a mysterious, menacing hearse appears to be showing up at her country retreat on a nightly basis or following her on one of her quiet drives. Recovering from a previous breakdown (after a messy divorce), and soon feeling as though she may have a relapse when the nightly hauntings start to wear down her nerves, she finally gets a little braver and starts investigating the ghostly goings on. In the meantime, she finds herself attracted to a mysterious young man who seems to know a lot more about the history of the town and her house than the townsfolk are willing to share. There's more, but I'll stop there - view the film (at least RENT IT!) and see for yourself. It's a decent film and may be just the ticket if the usual horror trends in violence or overdone special effects have worn your nerves down. Even in 1980, a good ghost story was hard to find - by that, the Hearse is still a refreshing feature.
Solid. Unexpected, effective film.
Exorcist: The Beginning was an ineffective film that contains everything I hate about current genre films: impatient editing and storytelling, lines of dialogue that stop just when some characters are about to actually say something, bombardment of CGI visuals and some seriously unnecessary gore effects that are akin to the movie-makers hitting the audience over the head with a Warner Brothers iron anvil normally reserved for their cartoon characters. What a nice surprise it was to finally see DOMINION on it's (unfortunate) limited run. Here is a movie that doesn't assume the audience is too stupid to actually sit down and take a story in without excessive music video stimuli. Here is a movie who's build-up is effective and will have many working hard to shake the uneasy feeling that, indeed, evil IS everywhere. There were some story elements from "The Beginning" that made no sense whatsoever. In this film - all is presented clearly, thoughtfully and much more unsettling (but it really hits you when the film comes to its climax). There is a scene in "The Beginning" where some crazed hyenas savage a character to shreds. Their appearance was curious and not presented as necessarily crucial to the film other than for one scene. In this film, just one look from them and you know right away they add to the whole atmosphere of the film. They are an ever present danger not only to the surrounding location but the always present evil watching humanity just out of sight and ready to attack when one is most vulnerable and alone. Another sequence featuring Father Merrin and Nazi soldiers is given a very clever, diabolic twist and adds MUCH to the notion of how the Devil deceives and tricks. In the other film, it's a scene where you know only that "this is what torments Father Merrin" - and that's it. Which is how this movie plays against Renny Harlin's "The Beginning" - an easy sell to the masses (it STILL didn't work). "Dominion" is a crafted piece where one single shot holds more story information than a 30 second sequence rife with vulgar, over-the-top digital effects. See this version - especially if believe that The Exocist story is actually more effective today than it EVER was.
Folle d'elle (1998)
Familiar premise, fresh execution due to game actors.
Jean-Marc Barr is able to flex his comic chops and he is more than up to task. However, the surrounding film could have been so much...more. The story is hardly original: a man, pretending to be gay tries to cozy up the object of his affections (the stunningly photogenic Winter) by playing at being an innocent confidant. He falls hard for her and she for he, however, if he reveals his true orientation (and intentions) that could really complicate matters. That's pretty much all there is, but the film is pretty charming and Barr (a reliable and highly, highly under-rated actor) doesn't bring any offensive nuances at playing gay - he was actually quite funny (perhaps a little over-the-top in some sequences). Movie Icon Raquel Welch shows up (dubbed in French and looking as flawless as ever) as a friend to Winters' character - her comic timing is on and it would have been nice to have seen her role expanded. What's most interesting: although filmed in French, the film was shot in Malibu, California (one would have expected the Riviera or Languedoc-Roussillon region as both are equally appropriate settings as well). It's shot nicely, too - the cinematography is almost as stunning as Ms. Winters' smile with its sunny orange glows hitting the actors' faces and bright, nicely rendered colors of the sets. Not the most original production and some of the looping is off - there are a few moments in the film where the actors voices don't match up with lip movements (although in the original French language).
The DVD has some tech problems in the form of intense line-shimmering. The 2.35:1 widescreen enhanced for anamorphic TVs DVD comes with subtitles, the original trailer and three music videos by singer/actress Ophelie Winter.
WOW - is all I have to say about this entry.
I've followed the Godzilla series faithfully ever since seeing Godzilla vs The Thing on late-night TV back in the '70's. I was six years old, alone with the flickering TV casting strange shadows on the walls of my family's living room. I was enthralled in the movie and, from then on, would read the TV guide every week to see what other Godzilla films would be on. Call me a long-time fan and imagine my delight at being able to watch the films in all their widescreen glory courtesy of a region-free DVD player in their original language. GMK comes courtesy of a nifty-looking DVD from China which comes in widescreen, a room-rumbling soundtrack and English subtitles. After hearing so much positive buzz about this film, I couldn't wait to see it. It's terrific. A film that actually has more wonder, thrills, edge-of-your-seat action and solid acting than (too) many films spewing forth from Hollywood today. There are some great shots in this film that are simply jaw-droppingly impressive: Godzilla's arrival at a Japanese harbor, King Ghidrah taking flight over the city, a nuclear explosion seen from a classroom of children...there are many more great moments in this terrific film.
The soundtrack caught me off guard - impressive and bombastic, it had a very "John Carpenter" feel and made the film feel "immediate" and serious. Nice touch. This is a also a film which needs to be seen by those misguided defenders of the American Godzilla (in name only) film from '98. Comments on that film always say something along the lines of, "...what do you expect from a giant lizard film?" Uh, how about some real thrills and some monsters that aren't so camera-shy as in that '98 flick. I'm not sure it's fair to compare the Japanese films to each other. Each film has its strengths (and weaknesses as filmmaking is never perfect). However, these films have so much more imagination, color, charm and entertainment than many Hollywood films (which, typically, are COPYING TO DEATH many elements of Asian action films). All in all, I can recommend this film not only as fine entertainment, but as an experience in a project where its creators know how to capture that certain something that engages viewers' imaginations and actually makes us fearful of their titular creatures. Oh yeah, add an intriguing story, good characters and some astounding giant monster action to go into the mix and you have one of the GREATEST monster films that Hollywood never made. Now THIS is a film WORTH seeing...and defending for that matter.
Major potential ignored by makers in favor of "typical" American event flick.
I, to this day, want to like and enjoy this film. Alas, appreciation will never come since the film seems to have been made specifically NOT to homage the original films from Japan. Instead, it seems created to...hell, I don't know. It certainly didn't thrill. There is not an ounce of wit, charm nor are there any thrills to be had other than a car chase (where have you seen those before?) and a people chase (Raptor-like monsters that are fast, but not fast enough to catch slow-running actors! Spielberg's dinos AND approach have yet to be matched). This a damn shame considering this film cost enough to feed a small country or help re-build Iraq. We American's waited for this???? I think the film suffers from a bit of presumption on behalf of the Hollywood duo who made this. They seem to want to avoid anything that made the Japanese films charming. In this flick, there are no colorful sets, no complex plots mixing the monster action with the human action, no rival monsters...and that's just to name a few. This film offers a few explosions (Hollywood films live and die by their explosions - original, eh?), a car chase and some military fire (okay - I liked those). As for Emmerich/Roland's take on the lead character...boy this is one camera shy monster! This giant lizard (yeah that's all. Just an overgrown lizard with zero personality. It is so undefined and kept hidden most of time that he hardly seems a threatening presence! It doesn't cause too much damage, either - not in these faux politically correct times. NYC is "evacuated" in a matter of hours. Now that is the one truly funny moment in the movie. Overall, the film just has too many pretensions to be a really engaging thriller. Why bother if (as a filmmaker) you're not gonna thrill us besides showing us bits and pieces that we've already seen in better films? This "Godzilla" is supposedly as tall as a skyscraper but you'd never know it since this one changes size in every other shot and has an annoying habit of crouching really, really low to fit into the film frame...*sigh* so much potential flushed down the toilet for us fans of giant monster pictures-especially one as expensive as this one. Roger Corman made bad films (fun, charming and memorable ones at that!) for pocket change compared to the 100 million plus $$$ here. The Emmerich team STILL came up short ("Size matters" indeed). This film made money since the curious (including myself) bought into it...with regret. The film took a nosedive in popularity (and $$$) as time went on and lacked the legs to become a true blockbuster. Moviegoers wisened up with time. Glad to know I'm not the only one out there...