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55 reviews in total 
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Fascinating glimpse into Herzog's genius, 10 September 2009

You will enjoy this movie the more you appreciate Werner Herzog. As a lover of Herzog, I thought "Burden of Dreams" was wonderful, but the film's true merits as a documentary are, admitingly, somewhat average. Herzog fans shouldn't miss this movie, though, and about a third of the film is devoted to scenes with him, while he and his team are on location filming "Fitzcarraldo." There are some priceless scenes in this documentary, particularly a few minutes of footage of Herzog and Kinski aboard the steamship during the famous scene when the vessel careens down the treacherous rapids. Herzog and crew had one shot at filming that scene, and watching their reactions while in the course of creating such a masterpiece is terrific. Herzog has some good dialog here, and, as always, his pontifications are intriguing and insightful. Herzog talks about art, the duty of filming his dreams, and the tribulations of such an arduous undertaking as "Fitzcarraldo." You'll learn a lot of cool behind-the-scenes stuff, and the end result should be an even greater appreciation for both Herzog and "Fitzcarraldo." Herzog and crew faced incredible problems: native Indian attacks, political intrigue, cast mutiny, and the dryest rainy season in recorded history. Like so many of Herzog's works, the story behind the film is just as interesting as the film itself, and "Burden of Dreams" takes you up close to this inspiring man during the high water mark of his incredible career. Herzog fans, this is one you SHOULD NOT MISS. ---|--- Reviews by Flak Magnet

1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Uneven, but periodically terrific Ed Wood Schlock, 10 September 2009

This film starts out wonderfully, with a great, hokey premise; silly dialogue, a cute newlywed couple, and a guy in a gorilla suit. In fact, after the first 15-min or so, "Bride and the Beast" began to approach classic, almost essential, 1950's B-film territory. However, the story takes a sudden and unwelcome turn when a seemingly innocuous subplot, which involves 2 Indian tigers escaping from captivity and entering into a killing spree upon several unseen African villages, balloons out-of-control and cannibalizes the main storyline for a full 30-minutes, wherein we are given seemingly endless stock footage of these tigers, both in the wild and on various studio "jungle" sets. (Admitingly, a lot of this stock footage is excellent, but it was way overdone). It isn't until the final 10-minutes that the story returns to the original plot line, which involves the newlywed couple coming-to-grips with the wife's past life a powerful gorilla queen, de facto overlord of the jungle and her subconscious desire to return to the wild, as well as her instinctual attraction to her husband's pet gorilla. The overall story is sort of a childish metaphor about the animalistic nature of man. In the end, we're basically presented with a question: "who is the real beast, man or nature?" Pretty decent stuff, really, considering the pedigree. In fact, this is probably Ed Wood's third best screenplay, IMO, with the top spots reserved for the delicious and untouchable "Orgy of the Dead," and the slightly lesser, but still wholly classic "Bride of the Monster." I like "Bride and the Beast," but its ultimately too average to recommend to anyone but Wood's completists. Man, this could have been a real classic, though. Oh well...moving on. ---|--- Reviews by Flak Magnet

2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Repetition overpowering sincerity, 10 September 2009

This newer Guy Maddin project tries admirably to be progressive and inventive, but ultimately falls into the oldest movie pitfall of all -- that of dullness. Viewers hoping to revisit the brilliance Maddin showed in "The Saddest Music in the World" will probably be disappointed, as the story and characters in "Brand Upon the Brain" are hopelessly lifeless and under-developed. Essentially a very hyperkinetic silent film, "Brand Upon the Brain" tells a semi-autobiographical tale about a younger Guy Maddin, who, after hearing word of his mother's ill health, revisits his families' private Canadian island to paint its special lighthouse, as well as bury the ghosts of childhood lost. This is primarily a story about family, forgiveness, and burying the hatchets of past indiscetions. The story seems to say, basically, that you can't pick your family, and its important to love them despite problems and indifferences. Its a pretty noble and well intentioned film, really, but also a curiously lifeless one. The movie's exaggerated Expressionism and frenetic style quickly become repetitious, and it is difficult to feel attached to any of the characters, as each is on screen for only seconds at a time. The film has its moments, I suppose, but they are drowned out listlessly in the tide of repetition and general tedium. This one was a disappointment. (PS: This film toured major cities as a live performance, with guest narrators and symphony accompanyment. Included on the DVD are about seven of these taped narrations, essentially giving the film eight possible audio tracks). I admire what Maddin was trying to do here, but I can't argue it worked. ---|--- Reviews by Flak Magnet

Dracula (1992)
A deeply flawed, but periodically excellent rendition, 10 September 2009

This film features terrific art direction & costuming, but suffers from uneven acting performances and overzealous use of digital effects. Overall, Coppola's "Dracula" isn't a terrible film, but it isn't a great one, and nearly every scene has some noticeable flaw. Perhaps most importantly, many of the acting performances are simply not convincing. (Read: Keanu Reeves and Wynona Rider). In addition, Coppola seems insistent on oversaturating the viewer with Judo-Christean and sexual symbolism that, all too often, comes across as hamfisted and gratuitous. I think Coppola could have done more with less in this area. On the positive, Gary Oldman provides a fresh and multi-dimensional performance as the Count and Anthony Hopkins makes for probably the best Van Helsing I've seen. Lastly, I thought several of the scenes were very well conceived and totally memorable. The result is a very unbalanced, somewhat messy, but wholly entertaining piece that is, at times, unintentionally funny and, at other times, completely terrific. The script is, I'm told, quite true to Bram Stoker's novel and it should appease those seeking a more faithful adaptation. In total, Coppola's "Dracula" is one of the best recent adaptations of the famous Dracula story. It isn't perfect, by any means, but it definitely isn't garbage. ---|--- Reviews by Flak Magnet

5 out of 7 people found the following review useful:
Certainly well made Renoir film, but ultimately rather dull, 10 September 2009

This is a difficult film to review succinctly. I didn't really enjoy it, but the film is well-made, well acted, and the underlying message is still poignant. At the time, "Boudu Saved from Drowning" was quite controversial, with Michel Simon's portrayal of the antisocial, uncompromised tramp (Boudu) inciting audiences to actual riot. (In fact, the film was apparently pulled from theaters by French police several days into its screening). Essentially, "Boudu Saved from Drowning" is an attack on liberalism, as well as a sort of black satire about societal class differences. Through their interaction with Boudu, a stereotypical Burgeouise family showcase the consequences of liberal idealism, as their efforts to help and reform Boudu all backfire unpredictably. Boudu is an irredeemable, unchangeable, and uncompromised outsider and he is happy as such. In the words of Jean Renoir, "...Micheal Simon was more than a tramp. He was the personification of all tramps." In other words, the lower class. Michel Simon does a great job with the part and the Boudu character is memorable. However, the rest of the characters are unlikeable (e.g. a perverse, overweight philanderer; his unabashed housekeeper mistress, a caustic wife, etc.) and the film's narrative is just, well, stuffy. I'd probably appreciate a film like this much more at 60 than I do at 30. For a film from 1931, "Boudu" does seem pretty fresh and the print looks terrific. Nonetheless, I didn't find "Boudu" very engaging. I can't recommend this one. ---|--- Reviews by Flak Magnet

2 out of 7 people found the following review useful:
Arguably Miike's Worst, 10 September 2009

This obscure, minor, early Miike effort is incredibly lame and laughable. Tom Mes, author of "Agitator -The Cinema of Takashi Miike," (and essentially a died-in-the-wool Miike fanboy), describes this film as "awful" and "terrible" in some of his commentaries, and I have to agree with him heartily. Although I don't think its quite as lame as Miike's "City of Lost Souls," or as aimless and unwatchable as "Dead or Alive: Final," this Kiba sequel is definitely Miike at his sloppiest and most cringe-worthy. Almost everything about this picture is glaringly subpar, and some of the scenes are laugh out loud terrible. Aside from its star and basic story premise, this film bears no resemblance to its predecessor. Whereas the original "Bodyguard Kiba" was a pretty effective and watchable action movie, this one is a disjointed, seemingly "bad on purpose" clunker, and the story moves along incoherently. Miike is notorious for working with different crews for each picture, which lends a lot to his unclassifiability, and Miike is also a filmmaker that sometimes lets his crews have a lot of say, which allows him to make so many films a year. Anyhow, this picture had 3 assistant directors. For a film of this scale, there is no need for that, and the feeling one gets is that Miike had little to do with the actual production. There are some sorta funny parts, and the whole affair is over before it can wear out its welcome, but in the end, its minor and dull beyond belief. Unless you just have to see the worst Miike films, you can skip this one. ---|--- Reviews by Flak Magnet

Body Rock (1984)
3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
A Bad Movie Classic, 10 September 2009

"Body Rock" is GOLD. If you have any appreciation for cheesy 80's movies, break dancing, or the importance of keepin' it real, please don't pass this one up. Watching Lorenzo Lamas sing, crooner style, while sporting face glitter and a leather & chainmail vest is worth the price of admission alone. However, you get so much more with "Body Rock," and the picture is chock full of awesome 80's staples, including about ten music video montages and the obligatory "slow clap" sequence. The story involves Lamas and his crew of breakdancers ("Body Rock") trying to make it big in the entertainment business. A chance meeting with a promoter leads Lamas to stardom, but he's torn between the money and keepin' it real. The whole movie is essentially great and, more importantly, it continues to top itself, seemingly impossibly. I mean, some of the sequences in this one are just unbelievable. Expect completely over-the-top fashions, Brooklyn streetscapes, killer 80's synthesizer music, and LOTS of break dancing. This movie essentially floored us. "Body Rock" is an unintentional comedy masterpiece. A new all time favorite. ---|--- Reviews by Flak Magnet

1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Excruciating, 10 September 2009

This is a consistently boring, gonzo-style, shot-on-videotape slasher movie and it is amateur in every way. That is, until the final 10-min, where it becomes decent. However, by that point, you will have surely abandoned all hope. This movie is TERRIBLE, people, and not worth anyone's time. Although fairly heavy on the T&A (the women are mixed), most of the scenes are unacceptably dull and the male lead is incredibly annoying. (Picture a 115-lb David Lee Roth wannabe, who insists on showing off his embarrassingly tiny arms sleeveless for most of the movie. (That is, when he isn't wearing only bikini briefs). I spent an hour debating how much I'd pay to see him get clotheslined). Anyhow, as a slasher movie, "Boardinghouse" is 90% unconvincing, but also thoroughly unfunny. Expect about seven fairly tame murders (e.g. electrocuted in the bathtub, drowned in the pool, stabbed in the dark, etc.), with the majority of the first 90-min spent on filler dialog sequences between the girls and a range of coked-up wimps. In the accompanying interview featurette, the filmmakers claim that the project was originally made as a horror comedy, but the distributor reedited it into a slasher film. Although I don't buy it, this might explain some of the poopiness, but it doesn't explain most of it. Even for gonzo, this one is difficult, and it rubbed us the wrong way. I think the main deal was seeing the cast having so much fun, while we, the frustrated audience, ground our teeth into powder. In a word: excruciating. O.5 star. ---|--- Reviews by Flak Magnet

Bluebeard (1972)
9 out of 10 people found the following review useful:
A Eurosleaze Classic, 10 September 2009

This movie was basically awesome: consistently statuesque women, exquisite castles, campy acting, ridiculous script, plenty of nudity, six murders, Richard Burton, and a pervasive, Euro-style charm that made even the sleaziest moments really fun and laughable. We ended up getting this as a Sybil Danning/Raquel Welch fan, and were really blown over by the film's consistent campiness and general Eurosleaze greatness. As far as Eurotrash goes, "Bluebeard" is double platinum. This was a really big budget production, and a lot of money went into the art direction. That said, expect great looking costumes and sets, which often rival the women as overall cinematic eye candy. I have to mention the ladies again, because they are stunning. Listen to this cast: Raquel Welch, Sybil Danning, Joey Heatherton, Virna Lisi, Nathalie Delon, Karin Schubert...."Bluebeard" plays out like a virtual "Whos Who" of A-list 1970's bombshells. Anyway, the script is ludicrous and silly, as is Joey Heatherton's performance as the female lead, but Richard Burton does a terrific job holding everything together. Raquel Welch plays one of the murdered wives, (and a nun to boot), and she's in the film for about 10-min. Sybil Danning plays a prostitute, and she has a pretty dank lesbian scene, but her screen time is similarly brief. The film's mystery elements are pretty predictable, but the whole affair is campy and attractive enough for it not to matter much. It is a bit long, and there is a tasteless hunting scene where a range of animals are shot, but I can't discount how fun most of this was. A Eurosleaze classic. ---|--- Reviews by Flak Magnet

Attractive girls carry the weight here, but just barely, 10 September 2009

OK, look, this is a Jess Franco flick, so know - up front - that it is tacky, Eurosleaze garbage. (Even Franco himself calls the film "s%@#" in the DVD's interview feature). Taken within the confines of the genre, however, I suppose "Bloody Moon" delivers an interesting blend, as a gaillo/slasher hybrid, but the film's dreadful B-movie script and zero believability place it somewhere between camp and outright refuse. The picture has the standard Eurotrash cachet (e.g. retro fashions, pencil thin people, synth-pop soundtrack, etc.), but with more attractive women, a surprisingly clean print, and pervasive chauvinistic undertones. The girls are quite hot, really, and genre fans might recognize the lead - Olivia Pascal - from her role in the infamous "Emanuelle" clone: "Vanessa." Expect about five topless scenes, five gory kills, and endless scenes of Olivia gasping in terror, only to find out her fear is unfounded. Typical Franco calling cards abound, including marginal camera-work, wacko scene direction, and general Eurosleaze tastelessness. The dubbing is terrible, which makes much of the already preposterous dialog sometimes quite funny. Here is an exerpt: (Girl): "Angela - this is Antonio - our gardener, tennis ace, and the best piece of property in Los Olvidos. That's not all! As a lover, he's fantastic. Antonio - am I wrong or right?" (Antonio): "If you'd really want to see, try me out one night.....You're not bad at all, why don't we go inside?" Beautiful....Ultimately, though, and despite some very hot girls and funny moments, "Bloody Moon" was pretty darn pointless. It wasn't boring, really, just a little too average for my tastes. ---|--- Reviews by Flak Magnet

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