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LostHighway101

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22 reviews in total 
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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Sublimely Magical, 10 April 2011
9/10

"The Fantastic Adventures of Cloudman" seamlessly blends different styles of animation, hazy 8mm live action footage, and 8-bit video game tones to create an engrossing and one-of-a-kind trip. We start out in an animated world where a fighter pilot is about to meet his doom. An enemy blows up his aircraft and its remains are engulfed by an unsuspecting cloud. Our hero emerges from the cloud, reborn with a block-headed body and red longjohns, into a colorful world ruled by yellow-headed henchmen whose heads explode in firecracker bursts upon defeat.

Besides creating a genuinely interesting trip into childhood giddiness, director Phoebe Parsons has also achieved a perfectly dreamy tone. The innocence of her various animations provide a moody backdrop to what is essentially a cartoon kung fu story.

"Cloudman" is a sublimely magical and visually rich treat.

Dollman (1991) (V)
3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
A Fun-Sized Futuristic Dirty Harry-Meets Suburban Commando-Meets Honey I Shrunk the Kids Anyone?, 11 September 2010
8/10

Only a director like Albert Pyun could handle material like this. The director of many B sci-fi/martial Arts projects (the "Nemesis" series, "Cyborg"), a teen video game adventure, and a post-apocalyptic musical, Mr. Pyun loves to combine genre tropes into stimulating, unique experiences. Pyun asked what many B-filmmakers did in the Tarrantino administration: why bother with new material when it has all been done so well before?

The 90s direct-to-video market thrived simultaneously with this era of genre hybrids; those movies that recycled old genre tropes, archetypes, and approaches into new material. In "Dollman" Pyun makes a tasty salad out of various conventions from "Dirty Harry", "Honey I shrunk the Kids", "Suburban Commando", "Time Cop", various gang films, and the action and sci-fi conventionality of its era.

Tim Thomerson plays recurring Pyun character Brick Bardo who, in this incarnation, is a futuristic bad-cop who is inter-dimensionally displaced via space ship into the Bronx with his his WMD-packing floating head nemesis Armbruiser. During their trip, the two are shrunken into action figure proportions. After Bardo's spaceship is abducted by a young boy, he must struggle against various domestic terrors (the family dog, a cockroach) while Armbruiser shops his WMD to a dangerous local gang headed by the dangerous Braxton Red (Jackie Earle Hayley in a hammy, vicious performance).

Fortunately "Dollman" delivers in every way you want it to. The shrunken person tropes are satisfying and realized; the action scenes are intense; and its science fiction backbone is always present. Pyun juggles these elements well and has fun with the formulas at play.

Although it suffers from Pyun's tendency toward awkward pacing, "Dollman" is one of his strongest and most controlled films.

Hallam Foe (2007)
Mackenzie Knows Better, 6 May 2009
4/10

David Mackenzie's follow-up to the brilliant Young Adam wants to be a feel-good underdog story of a lonely voyeur who is trying to confront some psycho-sexual issues with his dead mother. It wants to be gritty, realistic, and mysterious. At the same time, it wants to be funny and nonjudgmental of its disturbed lead as he establishes himself as an adult.

To meet this end, the film tries hard to be youthful. Its poster has hand-drawn letters looking like that of Juno. Its original soundtrack is comprised of fast-paced indie rock which tries to convince the audience that Hallam is OK; just a little misguided. But strangely the film is anything but youthful.

Like Young Adam this film's central mystery concerns a drowned woman- in this case Hallam's mother. Young Adam keeps its mystery quiet, contemplative, and paced well enough to hit you with the truths as they come. Hallam Foe does the opposite. It foregrounds its character's psychosis so clearly and so early that he never really does anything outside his expected parameters. The opening scene is Hallam in his treehouse watching his sister fooling around with her boyfriend. Hallam swiftly interrupts, asserting his presence in the household. Here we see everything that Hallam will do for the rest of the movie.

The mystery surrounding his mother's drowning is whether it was suicide or murder by his father's girlfriend. The audience can never really trust Hallam because, besides being creepy, we think his obsession has led him close to insanity. This hindered the mystery element for me because Hallam is too sporadic to be relatable. Right when he's found some clues that would support his claim he runs away from home, at first it appearing to be looking for the police. Then he gets extremely sidetracked by a girl who resembles his mother, which frustratingly leads the story away from the mystery element.

While Jamie Bell does bring out some very endearing traits in his lost character, he was limited by the obviousness of his psychological needs. This movie is in no way mysterious, yet it is not blunt either. It tries to be realistic in dealing with such issues, but it adds a very self-conscious spunk which registers itself as quite the opposite. It goes for a soundtrack-heavy, Trainspotting attitude to help the audience root for a protagonist who scales buildings, picks locks, and camps out for the sake of voyeurism. These urban peeping tom adventures Hallam engages in are way too difficult for an inward-drawn country boy to engage in and they are not sexy, giddy, or pleasant. They are more neutral than anything; not propelling the character or story. Mackenzie makes you understand Hallam, yet he fails to build common ground.

He expects you to enjoy Hallam's trials and tribulations without much ideological justification. The film hinges on its audience's perspective on voyeurism/the kind of person who engages in it. Obviously, most people would be disgusted by it. And Hallam Foe realizes that, but it does not let us see Hallam weigh the morality of his decisions. He goes from person to person, trying to fill his deep void. There is a particularly disturbing line from Hallam's love interest Kate where she drunkenly says "I love creepy boys," perhaps asking the audience to do the same. The line tries to foreshadow her understanding of him (her motivation remains vague throughout) and tries to further us from judging him. It's not hard to like Hallam, but it is very hard to participate in his adventure- if it is even an adventure at all. All the while, the film tries to use its flamboyant soundtrack to mask its indecisive mood.

Great performances are weighed down by a film with a weak third act, muddy development, and needlessly ambiguous direction from Mackenzie. Recently this film was re-named for a US release, and for what reason? Not only is it more unappealing, but the hard truth is that the Hallam character never earns the title 'mister.'

Bizarre (1970)
2 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
Genius Psychedelia, 13 March 2009
9/10

A challenging collage of psychedelic scenarios which push the viewer closer and closer (even though it most often feels further and further) from its ultimate revelation of the secret of sex.

Highly thematic, "Bizarre" transcends its exploitation by fusing ideas of life, death, and afterlife with a pulpy and extremely weird stories and scenarios. As far as 70s Britsploitation goes, you can't get a more distinct trip than this (obviously it has to be viewed with an appreciation for the genre).

It is also a likely inspiration for "Tales From the Crypt" as its narrator (Valentine Dyall) is a talking British mummy; a hilariously-campy but extremely well-executed idea.

5 out of 8 people found the following review useful:
Weird, Lacking / Weirdly Lacking, 22 August 2008
5/10

Pyun's ambitious effort is well-made but extremely lacking in plot and character development. Essentially, it is a half-baked post-apocalyptic comedy about two Hardy Boys-esquire young guys (John Stockwell and Michael Dudikoff) who see the world for the first time. They run into various zombies, 80s bondage/biker chicks, a genuinely creepy butcher, and several other zany and morally ambiguous characters as they search for their father.

Like a lot of Pyun's films, it doesn't take any effort to level the ground for the audience. It has flashy ideas and camera maneuvers and some decent action, but it was hard to understand what was going on. Or maybe it was hard to understand that the movie WAS going on without any real plot lying underneath its surface. By the end I was giving up on it because there was no interesting conclusions or character accomplishments. If it were trippier and filled with more complex weirdness it could have been more watchable, but it still needed better characters and more fun.

There is a dance number at the end that is pretty amazing though . . .

1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
So-So Sequel, 10 May 2008
7/10

I'm lenient on horror sequels, and when you compare "Hellbound" to every other "Hellraiser" film, it's moderately enjoyable.

The production design is good (the labyrinth looks great!) the creature and gore fx are top-notch, and the story tries its best to keep fresh (As much as I enjoyed the insight into Pinhead's past, I just wish it could have been elaborated on a little further.) The acting is bad, though, and the story isn't as tight a narrative as the first one. It also gets a little redundant considering the first film (the idea of Clare Higgins having to rejuvenate off of human bodies is oh-so-predictable).

Overall though, it's a pretty gritty descent into hell. It may not invoke Dante, but it's still a chilling sequel. My favorite scene is Kirsty's reunion with Uncle Frank -- I wish the whole movie had that kind of Dante-esquire feeling of Hell's bizarre tortures. Unfortunately, the series was all downhill from here.

Weekend War (1988) (TV)
0 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Standard Procedure, 17 February 2008
6/10

I enjoy watching this movie for only two reasons: because of its unabashed 80s giddiness and Daniel Stern, who is really the anchor of this film about army reservists deployed to Honduras to protect the construction of a bridge.

Although its subject is very unique, the film never does anything unexpected. It's all fairly typical military yarn, but does have great performances and an intense conclusion. Unfortunately, it does little to develop the characters or hold any sense of gravity.

Filmmaking-wise it has a boyscout's by-the-books competency, but it does not transcend its TV movie expectations.

12 out of 16 people found the following review useful:
Underrated, 29 August 2007
8/10

"This ain't no funeral parlor. This ain't the terrordome. Welcome to HELL mothaf*#%@!" In not too many words I want to express my respect for one of the most underrated horror movies of the 90s. Like The Twilight Zone it is a segmented film (although all directed by Rusty Cundieff) that spans across a good variety of horror genres. The real horrorshow here, though, is the domestic/racial issues against the black community. Cleverly (and without being preachy or offensive to white people), Cundieff disguised his agenda with rich characters and a bone chilling conclusion.

The HIGHPOINT of this movie for me is the film's proverbial ringleader- a funeral parlor director. The man, brilliantly and hilariously underplayed by a bug-eyed Clarence Williams III, finds a stack of drugs he wants to sell to three young hoods. As you watch you begin to wonder what eerie agenda he really has in store. These scenes tie all the vignettes together.

Also, the final segment is a very profound statement on gang violence (although beware, this is the preachiest segment). I like to call it A Clockwork Black because it applies Anthony Burgress's idea of reversing violence onto the offender onto a gang leader called Krazy K. Those K's in his name aren't a mistake either! Cundieff underlines a necessary argument about between black-on-black violence by comparing K to a neo nazi.

Like any memorable work of horror, Tales remembers to keep its monsters metaphorical. Police brutality, domestic violence, racial profiling, and gang violence are the most hideous creatures found here. I complement Rusty Cundieff on a job well done there. Excessive campiness and at-times generic camera work keep this from being great, but nothing stops its relevance in the genre.

STAR RATING: *** out of 4.

7 out of 15 people found the following review useful:
well-crafted but cripplingly indecisive., 6 April 2007
1/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I saw this screened at the Dallas AFI International Film Fest. It was one of the big buzz movies at the fest and it was disappointing -- despite Christopher Plummber's awesome performance

This film suffers from an inappropriate dichotomy: a good-natured family feel married to an F-bomb familiar script. This makes the film come across as indecisive and, as it will probably prove later, unmarketable. Michael Schroeder, who is not necessarily a bad director, crafts a tale of young Cameron Kincade's aspiration to win a student film competition. Also established from the beginning is this crusty old character Flash (played brilliantly by Christopher Plummber) moseying his way through life, taunting old-time actors during classic film screenings. We later find out that Flash is upset because he has been left behind twofold: by Hollywood (he was a former gaffer) and by his family. Kincaid works out an agreement that if Flash helps him win the competition, he will buy him booze and cigars (tough supplies for a 17 year old to buy -- but I won't nitpick).

The shots are beautiful and the performances are tender, but the problem lies within the film's "man in the chair". Michael Schroeder can't decide what he wants to do with this film. The film's indecisiveness comes across in an obvious way: is it a family film? It seems that way because the protagonist is "mischievious"/morally ambiguous (like a mild John Connor) but his crimes are not taken seriously. He is never punished nor has to appear in court (?!). Likewise, a very warm-hearted series of relationships bud between Kincaid and his elderly friends (showing that this kid is goodhearted -- even though he's a bada**). So now you see how it delves into family genre.

Foul language throws a monkey wrench into this because now the script tries to be realistic and 'non-fluffy'. Big mistake: if your film is fluffy, IT'S FLUFFY-- you can't disguise it. If Schroeder thinks a non-Hollywood ending (which is actually becoming Hollywood if you think about it --think the end of "Little Miss Sunshine" if you've seen it) can save this movie from fluff, he's way off. An example of teen issues being dealt with realistically can be found in "L.I.E." or any Larry Clark film. The kids are mischievous and there are CONSEQUENCES from that. Those films aren't fluffy, they are authentic observations of life. "Man in the Chair" is not authentic -- it's Cinema Paradiso light. It treats BIG ISSUES like grand theft auto as petty mischief which is simply NOT realistic. It's more like a character you'd see in a movie like "Jack Frost" -- the Michael Keaton one.

Is it social commentary on nursing home abuse? No. More of a public service announcement. Because it deals with elderly neglect, this film takes on a (1990s-ish) sense of importance. But this is negated because the issue isn't graphically explored within the context of the story or its characters (with the exception of one elderly character's apartment being infested). In fact, the issue is insulted by having characters literally list statistics off Google. High school English essays and PSAs do that, not R-rated films. It's not about nursing home abuse SO DON'T ADD IT INTO THE SCRIPT AND CALL IT SOCIAL CRITICISM. That is called taking the easy way out.

is it an R-rated comedy for adults? No. It's a feel-good film that does not have a realistic tone, realistic situations, or realistic characters. That makes them too two dimensional for an adult movie. Let's face it, these characters belong in "Blank Check"!

There's too many elements being tampered with! What does this film want to be, You pick! The director didn't!

Also, an unfaithful cameo by "Orson Welles" (played by Jodi Ashworth who does a more faithful job sounding like Ben Stiller in "Dodgeball" than he does Welles) and an overall moral ambiguity weigh down this film's potential.

I'd give it a 3 out of ten for technical reasons and effort.

5 out of 8 people found the following review useful:
Awesome directorial style, little thrills., 8 February 2007
7/10

I just watched "The Last Wave" in my school's fine arts library. It's intriguing, like all Peter Weir's stuff, but it's not always as attention-holding as I would have liked. I found myself fascinated by the ideas being thrown at me (because they are very well handled by the film's director Weir)but at the same time I was not stimulated enough by them. AKA I got a little bored in spots.

The plot surrounds an Aussie lawyer who becomes obsessed with certain dreams he has which link him to an Aborigone group he is defending.

It starts out with an intense weather sequence and has some very awesome mood effects throughout (most notably the bizarre, "belching" sound design)and strong direction; but it just didn't entertain me like Weir's later films do. I might just need to watch it again though.

Good film about obsession and mystery. Because, in the end, the mystery that exists between the whites and the Aboriginies offers some very severe consequences.

God bless Peter Weir, though. For him alone this film is worth watching ... very organic director. Like an Aussie response Malick! I'd give it a 7 because it's got enough great ideas to overcome its boring moments.


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