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Mondo Sacramento (2012)
Not Exactly a Mondo Film, but a fun B-Movie Romp Nonetheless
On paper Mondo Sacramento fits the bill for a modern "mondo" style shockumentary. Showcasing three "truth is stranger than fiction" type short stories, each segment has its fair share of occult driven lunacy. From batgirls to kinky ice cream parlors, the director's love for Sac-town's darker side is obvious and sincere.
For what it is worth, Mondo Sacramento cannot be accused of aiming too high. In fact, filmmaker Jason Rudy had his sights set directly in the gutter, and with that in mind his film is a success. Every frame is iniquitously filthy, with enough blood, nudity, and diabolism to intrigue even the most perceptive of the simple-minded.
Those looking for a genuine "Mondo" documentary will unfortunately be left wanting. While Mondo Sacramento does attempt to recreate gruesome tales of the macabre, ultimately the final product is too campy to take seriously. The great Mondo films of the past succeeded by convincing the audience that the horrifying acts of tribal savagery (Ultime Grida Dalla Savana), sexual exploitation (Mondo Hollywood), and human brutality (the Faces of Death series) were in fact authentic. Mondo Sacramento more closely resembles a considerably less polished episode of Unsolved Mysteries than let's say Mondo Cane VI.
Ultimately this is a fun, if not inconsequential, B-movie horror romp. In a paint-by-numbers sense, Rudy crafts a safe little genre movie a couple of teenage boys would be more than happy to watch at 1 A.M. on a Saturday after a night of not getting laid. It is obvious Rudy does much with very little, and the movie has an air of camaraderie that you only get with super low budget films. It's probably safe to assume Mondo Sacramento was shot over the course of several weekends. You get the feeling everyone involved had a good time shooting their scenes, and that notion of alacrity does more for this film than the blood and breasts. Even the film's weakest section - a series of talking head interviews with the employees of an ice cream/massage parlor, is nearly made watchable by the sheer enthusiasm of those on screen, and for that Rudy should be very grateful.
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Crazy, Stupid, Love. (2011)
A Disgusting Mockery of Middle Class America
Crazy, Stupid, Love promised kindhearted, if not benign, pokes at the unpredictable misadventures provoked by being in love. Helmed by directors Glenn Ficarra and John Requa, whose previous film I Love You Philip Morris was an effortless blend of cynical sweetness and charm, Crazy, Stupid, Love seemed like an easy homerun when considering the superbly talented cast they had assembled. Sadly, this film only serves to prolong Steve Carell's post-40 Year Old Virgin slump, joining the likes of Dan in Real Life, Evan Almighty, and Date Night in the actor's past mistakes. It is obvious Crazy, Stupid, Love prides itself on its candidness. Characters blurt out whatever is on their minds, and act upon any impulse no matter how foolish. The film begins with Cal and Emily Weaver (Steve Carell and Julianne Moore) out to dinner during one of the most ritualistic of 21st Century suburban events the date night. When Cal unassumingly asks his wife what she wants for dessert, she compulsively exclaims she wants a divorce. It turns out Emily has been unhappy for quite some time, and even confesses to having had an affair with her coworker David Lindhagen (Kevin Bacon). Cal is understandably blindsided by these revelations; he is one of those dopey husbands that assumes everything is fine when no one is complaining. Apparently being a kind, caring husband and father is not enough for the new bourgeois American wife weaned on The Real Housewives and other such filth. This film's portrayal of men and women, husbands and wives, mothers and fathers are, simply put, disgusting. This is a film where boredom is an understandable justification for divorce. Where we are expected to sympathize with a woman that kicks the father of her children out of his home without giving him any chance to mend their issues. Cal, having been cheated on and cast out from his family unit, is the one expected to "change," and to be the one that fights for the marriage. This is a film that glorifies Jacob Palmer (Ryan Gosling), a 20-something club-hopping womanizer who lives off of his dead father's inheritance. With no ambition beyond sleeping with every attractive woman he comes into contact with, Jacob is most likely a degenerate sex-addict, bringing home a new girl every night. For Crazy, Stupid, Love Jacob is a hero. He is the savior to Cal's humdrum suburban persona, and promises to help the hapless ex-husband learn how to meet women. This includes maxing out his credit card on new suits, and memorizing every manipulative line and mannerism to trick, I mean motivate women to sleep with him. This film quickly goes from bad to worse, adding not only a silly B-plot involving Cal and Emily's teenage son and the babysitter, but also a misaligned C-plot involving Jacob and the girl of his dreams (Emma Stone). It is by way of these useless and underdeveloped subplots that Crazy, Stupid, Love sacrifices structure and common sense for shallow twists and nonsensical character development. It tries to sell depravity as charm, and selfishness for self-reliance. It portrays women as shallow and superficial, men as emotionally unconscious boobs, and everyone as oversimplified instinctually confused wrecks completely incapable of empathy or self-restraint. This was the worst movie of 2011. *IF YOU LIKE MY REVIEW PLEASE COME TO MY WEBSITE WWW.CONTROLLERUNPLUGGED.COM FOR MORE*
The Fall (2006)
Instantly one of my all time favorites!
Last year a man known only by the name Tarsem released his visual masterpiece of celluloid known as The Fall. Four years in the making, this imaginative acid trip works as a re- imagining of the Wizard of Oz but plays more like an artist with multiple sets of hands painting on an endless canvas. Claiming to have not used any computer graphics, the images presented in The Fall are so stunning no modern day eyes will believe it. Tarsem was able to produce landscapes and colors that at times appear to be physically impossible to produce on film.
The story of The Fall can appear contrived but ultimately ends with satisfaction. With the main plot line taking place during World War I, the main characters are both patients trapped in their injured bodies and in a small California hospital. The main protagonist is Alexandria, a young immigrant with both a broken arm and a natural precociousness that has not been seen in a child since Shirley Temple. The second lead role is Roy Walker, a stuntman for the Hollywood "flickers" that had been disabled while on the set of his latest film. Becoming suicidal after his girlfriend had left him for the star of the picture, Roy captivates Alexandria's imagination with a tale of five heroic men who seek revenge against the man that did them all wrong. An ex-slave looking for his old master, an Indian searching for the man that kidnapped his wife, a mustachioed Italian bomb expert scouring the world for the man that had him exiled, a fictitious Charles Darwin and his monkey sidekick that dreams of killing the man that sent him a dead exotic butterfly, and finally a dashing masked bandit wanting retribution against the man that killed his brother. Between Roy's enthralling story telling sessions he convinces Alexandria to break into the pharmacy to bring him morphine, which he hopes to use to facilitate his own death.
By following the five fugitives, the viewer is transported on an eye-popping expedition through beautifully exotic locales. In the beginning of their story, the men are trapped on an ocean oasis at least a mile from any shore. In an act off screen, Darwin is able to conjure a large African elephant to aid the masked bandit to land, because he is the only one that cannot swim. By employing underwater, aerial and level shots, Tarsem ably captures a scene of such ocular tranquility it can almost not be considered real, but instead somehow conjured up in the director's mind, mystically projected onto the screen. Generously the movie is filled with these panoramic spectacles. There has never been a film like this, completely dedicating itself to having random outbursts of beauty in every scene, but never so much as to make a disturbance. The critic Roger Ebert said it best in his review: "You might want to see The Fall for no other reason than because it exists. There will never be another like it."
Lady in the Water (2006)
I saw the movie this past weekend, and for the life of me cannot figure out how anyone could not enjoy this movie. What the critics called 'farfetched" and "faniciful" is exactly what made me fall in love with this film. Of course it couldn't happen (not even a little bit)... but that is what a fantasy is supposed to do! M. Night ditched his normal twist ending schtick and dedicated his imagination to straight story telling. Each character lends to the story's dynamic, creating a world of dream like wonder that I could only wish to visit. If M. Night created a fairy tale, than Paul Giammati brilliantly succeeded in turning its pages. Far-fetched?... thankfully. Fanciful?... wonderfully. If you grew up wishing you were one of Peter Pan's lost boys, or imagined yourself following Hansel's trail of crumbs than this film is for you.