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The New Toy (1977)
Incredibly dull and pointless movie about a botched kidnapping
21 December 2018
Basic plot: The woman Ulla (Ann-Mari Max Hansen) plays the lead in this film, and she is stuck in a bad relationship with her dominating husband Claus (Henning Jensen), who has an obvious affair with Laila (Helle Merete Sørensen), a woman from work, and he doesn't hide the fact. Ulla, on the other hand, has an affair on her own, with the rebellious mechanic, Allan (Jørn Faurschou), who is living with his frivolous girlfriend Anette (Ulla Koppel). Together, the trio hooks up with one of Allan's friends, John (Jens Okking), and they seek to get revenge over Claus and his pal, Direktør Ebbesen (Holger Juul Hansen), by kidnapping him and seeking ransom (or something) later. On the poster Allan and Ulla aims a gun at something, while looking quite scared, which indicates some sort of intense gun-battle, but in the movie, it turns out, they're just shooting at empty bottles for practice! Then they both suddenly decide to take off their underpants and make spontaneous love in the field - and just throw the gun away! Oh, the 70s!

Summary: I tried really hard to follow the plot of this film, but it was soooo slow-moving, and all the characters incredibly uninteresting and boring, so just about the only thing that could keep me slightly interested was to see how Denmark looked in the old days (there's a brief scene where Allan gets chased around town, and ends up underground at Nørreport Station, which has now completely transformed in present-day Copenhagen). It was also slightly interesting to see some of these actors at this time of their careers, like the ones beforementioned, and Anne Marie Helger (small bit part as a singer), Erno Müller (Ib the garage owner), Birgitte Federspiel (Anna), Henry Jessen (Pistol-Leo), and many others.

But the story was generally really hard to follow, and seemed extremely illogical, right up to the point of the very abrupt (and laughably pretentious) ending, which made me laugh out loud, because it was so silly - I wonder what reactions the audience had in the theatres at the time, I'm sure it wasn't very positive!

Final rating: 2/10 or 1½/6.
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Killers (1997)
This movie almost killed my joy of watching movies...
25 October 2016
A friend of mine gave this piece of shet, which he got for free at the recycle center, and after reading the description of the cover "In the tradition of Reservoir Dogs" (whatever the hell that was supposed to mean) we decided to watch it... man, was that a big mistake!

The plot is basically as follow: Some long-haired biker-types and their bimbo girlfriends go to an abandoned warehouse to meet with their pal, fittingly called "Speed" (which also seems like his drug of choice), and they split some drugs and money there - they're all criminals, no doubt. But suddenly a bunch of suit-clad gangsters appear, also wanting the drugs and the money, so the gang decides to flee... or rather, they stay in the building and hide, until the gangsters are closing in on them...and THEN (try to) flee! And they also decide to split up a couple of times (which makes it easier for the bad guys to catch/kill them one at the time). Aaand... that's basically the plot right there.

I've seen some pretty damn worthless movies, but most of them have either been free online stuff and/or amateur school-productions. But this movie is truly scraping the bottom of the barrel. Stupid plot, terrible acting, horrible lighting (if any at all), inept direction and super-dull filming. Throw some shet-poor editing and generic background muzak on top of that, and you've got this film.

It reminded me of other terrible films, like Albert Pyun's "Urban Menace" or Karim Hussain's "Ascension", but it's actually much, much worse, because those movies had some redeeming features, like unintentional comedy (the former) or artistic vision (the latter). This movie has NO REDEEMING FEATURES WHATSOEVER. Unless you like watching a bunch of scruffy-looking dudes running around filthy buildings for 90 minutes, of course.

The one thing that puzzles me the most about this movie, is that they actually went and made a SEQUEL to it! WTF, that's gotta be the least called-for sequel of all-time! It's going straight back to the recycle center, I can tell you that much... or maybe even the city dump would be a better ending for it, as I don't want to put anyone else through the torture of sitting through this truly passion-less turkey.

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Cute and violent vigilante movie!
3 October 2016
As I stumbled upon this movie as an in-flight flick going from Japan to Denmark, "Hero Mania: Life" (translated badly as "Maniac Hero") was a nice little surprise for me, as I'd never heard anything about it beforehand.

It's about a young man, Nakatsu (Masahiro Higashide), who is having a pre-midlife crisis ("I'm over 30 already!"), as he feels his life is going nowhere, and his job as a conveniance store-clerk is very unsatisfying. But suddenly one day he meets Toshida (Masataka Kubota), a red cap-wearing, slightly autistic kid, who happens to be a master of martial arts and constructing clever gadgets, which he uses to fight random bad guys on the street. After their first meeting, Nakatsu decides that his new life goal must be crime-fighting, as the local police-force aren't doing enough to prevent local gang-related muggings in their neighborhood, and he persuades Toshida to join him, even though none of them have any real law-enforcement experience.

Of course they have no clue on how to clean the streets, but they are soon joined by a couple of fellow vigilantes, like the cute Kaori (Nana Komatsu), and the cool Kusaki (Tsurutaro Kataoka), and after a while things escalate quite a bit... how and why, I will not elaborate on, but it's unexpected and action-packed though! The main bad guys are somewhat reminiscent of those from the Arnold Schwarzenegger-movie "Last Action Hero", with an evil and sophisticated mastermind controlling a psycho killer in a yellow rain-coat, that our "Kick-Ass" young vigilantes have to take out, to make the streets safe again.

The movie is a clever take on the vigilante-genre, and has a lot of silly comedy, as well as some more scary moments, so it's not really suitable for young kids, but teenagers (and older) would probably be delighted over the many zany stunts and crazy characters introduced by this film. I know I was! 8/10
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Montana (2014)
There's no Hannah in this Montana!
8 December 2014
Directed by the relatively unknown Mo Ali, here comes a violent, but earnest story, about a former ex-Yugoslavian soldier, Dimitrije (played brilliantly by the Danish actor Lars Mikkelsen in a rare starring-role), who has been hunting down the notorious gangster Lazarus (Darrell D'Silva), who committed heinous war-crimes against Dimitrije and his family back in 1995. The chase has led them to present-day London, where hoodlums and gangsters rummage through the streets, looking for victims. The police force is naturally full of dirty cops who spoil countless investigations, which leaves the fuzz pretty much useless, and the citizens of London helpless.

Dimitrije therefore takes it upon himself to clean up the city, and secretly lurks on the roof-tops with his sniper-rifle, taking out scumbags every once in a while, much to the dismay of Lazarus and his cronies. One of Lazarus' henchmen is the young Montana (McKell David), who falls out of grace, and is soon picked up by Dimitrije, who in turn trains him to be a lethal assassin, to help him get to Lazarus.

What at first glance seems like a routine revenge-story, quickly turns out to be more of a father-and-son tale, when Dimitrije and Montana gets a much closer relationship, as they're both seeking a surrogate family, as they're otherwise all alone in the world.

For fans of Nicolas Winding-Refn (and particularly his "Pusher"-trilogy), this will be a very pleasing experience, as it not only stars Mads Mikkelsen's brother, but also has an extended cameo for Zlatko Buric, who plays his usual shady gangster-type character. And it's violent of course.

Overall, it's a pretty cool master/apprentice revenge story, with lots of people getting shot or brutally beaten (sometimes to death) throughout the film, so it's definitely not for squeamish children or those faint of heart. But if you love a good actioner with likable leads and wicked baddies, then this is the film for you!
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A female vigilante goes after religious kooks
20 April 2014
This movie is basically a Belgian version of the "Death Wish"-films, where good old Charlie Bronson went up against a bunch of various hoodlums and punks, but this time with a twist: The main protagonist is the radio-host Elisabeth (played wonderfully by Astrid Whettnall), a loving mother, who has recently had to go through a lot of anguish and suffering, as a direct consequence of something relating to priests (without going into further details, as not to spoil anything).

After a somewhat slow first part of the film, things quickly start picking up the pace, and she goes on a murderous rampage, violently hunting down people she thinks are not worthy on living on this earth anymore - mostly priests and other clergymen she suspects being pedophiles.

I had a hard time figuring out, if this movie was a comedy, a social satire of sorts, or a gripping drama, as it had all elements thrown in the mix, which was quite annoying. I really wanted to laugh at times, but then the tone got so grim and serious, it became very depressing to watch it. Overall an interesting revenge-movie, which (despite a few laugh-out-loud moments) is very dark and serious in its tone - and of course, very critical of the church covering for child-molesters.
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Interesting, albeit somewhat amateurish look at family-life..
11 April 2014
So, this movie is about a home-movie project from director/actor Zachary Oberzan, where he and his brother (and sister) decided to remake Jean-Claude Van Damme's epic martial arts movie, "Kickboxer". The special thing about this remake however, is that they first made the film back in 1989, when they were teenagers, and then re-remade it again in 2009, when they were adults, and had 20 years of wear and tear on themselves. Zach's brother had apparently gone through a lot of drug-abuse, which was also chronicled a bit in the film.

The problem is mostly, that you don't really get a look at what went on between the two remakes, apart from a few small snippets here and there, which leaves you wanting more, when the film is done. Hopefully the Oberzans will make another chapter in the story in 2029, when another 20 years have passed.

Also, there were a few bits of re-enacting "Faces of Death" and "JCVD", so it's not all about "Kickboxer" - in fact, there's probably only a handful of scenes there were re-created, so it's not really that complete a remake at all. It's mostly just the story about the three kids, who have grown up to be troubled adults after 20 years. A decent semi-documentary, but still a bit too amateurish to be really entertaining for "outsiders".
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A bizarre French fetish-orgy goes awry...
11 April 2014
This surreal love-party begins with a series of mysterious events, where the three main characters experience some misfortune. It's the young couple, Ali (Kate Moran) and Matthias (Niels Schneider), and their transvestite maid, Udo (Nicolas Maury), who are getting ready for a highly anticipated midnight orgy in their house, where their horny guests arrive one by one during the night.

Their guests are a colorful variety of people, including "The Slut" (Julie Brémond), "The Star" (Fabienne Babe), "The Stud" (Eric Cantona) and "The Teen" (Alain-Fabien Delon), all with their own sexual perversions. Especially Eric Cantona is amusing, as a "Dirk Diggler" kind of character, who is miserable even though he is VERY well-endowed.

During this night of lust, a bunch of weird things happen, which I will no go into further detail here (as to not give away too many things about the film), but suffice to say, that there are a LOT of monologues about sex, life and death, and the film feels VERY "French" (and not necessarily in a good way, mind you).

It reminded me of a mixture between Fassbender's "Querelle" (with the sexual themes and colorful studio-backgrounds), and some old avant-garde art-porn from the 1980s. I'm not really into this kind of thing, so that's why I didn't rate it very highly. It's mostly just loooong speeches about everything and nothing, set to a backdrop of great music by the band M83, and after a while it gets quite tedious and dull. But hey, if you're into this sort of thing, you'll probably love it to death!
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Intruders (2013)
Dark and funny snowy outback-thriller with tons of twists!
4 April 2014
A relatively shy and reclusive writer decides to travel to a very desolate part of South Korea, in hopes of finishing a screenplay he's been working on for quite some time, and he therefore borrows his boss' parents' Bed and Breakfast, while they're away for a few months during the harsh winter-time. But while there, he constantly gets interrupted in his work, either by dimwitted locals, drunk and rude youngsters, and of course, something much, much worse...

The director, Young-Seok Noh, who also made the nice little (sort of) coming-of-age comedy "Daytime Drinking" (I was fortunate enough to have seen both films, during two different years at Copenhagen PIX festival), is clearly a director to watch in the near future. He truly masters the art of capturing the loneliness of being out in the wilderness without any friends (or urban civilization) nearby. With this film he also shows a knack for the thriller, as well as the comedy-genre, and makes the story completely unpredictable, much to the viewers' delight.

So if you liked his first movie, unpredictable thrillers, or just rural winter-films in general, then this is definitely something for you! And you just gotta love those lazy small-town cops..
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The Referee (2013)
Just give the ball to Matzutzi!
18 March 2014
This movie tells the story about a small Italian village-community, where the people only care about three things: football, football, and more football (and don't call it soccer)! We follow two teams in the story, the good team (which is bad), and the bad team (which is good). Parallel to the story about the two teams fighting each other, we also follow an ambitious referee, Arbitro Cruciani (Stefano Accorsi), who wants to be the head ref in the championship league finals. But it is not such an easy path to success, so he has to make some tough choices during the way, some which may or may not lead him to the final glory.

The story itself is a very dark comedy, full of various references, from football-culture itself, to a re-telling of some biblical stories, with the local star footballer Matzutzi (Jacopo Cullin) being some sort of "prodigal son", returning to save the day. There is also a scene of his team have a "final supper" before the final game, and various other references throughout, which I will not spoil here.

Now, the movie is extremely beautifully shot, with many scenes reminding of us the master, Sergio Leone, showing huge panoramic views of the wonderful scenery of Italy (or more specifically, Sardinia). The director, Paolo Zucca, is clearly a guy to watch in the future, as he has a firm grasp of the fundamentals of great movie-making.

Overall, a very enjoyable black comedy, with lots of laugh-out-loud moments, and great acting-performances, coupled with excellent cinematography. Highly recommended for lovers of Italian cinema, and, of course, football! GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOAL!
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Gold (I) (2013)
Greedy German Gold-diggers Get Grief-stricken
20 September 2013
This movie (which I saw during the 2013 film-festival in Copenhagen), is a very atypical western, not only because of the (mostly) German-speaking cast, but also because of it's dark moods, and almost complete lack of conventional "western"-themes, which makes it more appealing to people that are normally not too keen on westerns, but still has enough western-elements in it to not disappoint genre-fans either.

The beautiful Nina Hoss - known for her portrayal of "Barbara" (in the 2012 movie of the same name), as well as the vampire-movie "We Are the Night" - here plays Emily Meyer, a single woman who is determined to travel alone to Klondyke in the late 1890s, along with a motley crew of settlers and gold-diggers, who all have their own reasons for making the long and dangerous journey.

However, they do not know what will await them during the trip, as both the harsh nature of the land comes as a surprise to them, as well as a couple of ruthless killers are on their trail, which takes its toll on the travelers.

It is a slow-moving, but very gripping and dark tale about (among other things) trying to conquer both new territory, but also about finding yourself (and others), when placed in a bad situation. It also has quite a lot of stunning cinematography, which really captures the landscapes beautifully, and places the audience in the right mood.

The director, Thomas Arslan, is still relatively unknown, although I have seen two of his films now (this one and "Dealer", which was also quite good), and he should definitely be a name to look for in the near future.

"Gold" does have a lot of similarities to Kelly Reichardt's western-drama, "Meek's Cutoff", but with somewhat more action and excitement, all things considered. So even though both films are very similar, I have a huge preference to this movie, as the characters are also much more likable and well-developed.

So go see this film, if you want a realistic story about people trying to make their way through rough territory, both physically and mentally. See it if you love westerns, and/or if you just like good movies, that might leave a lasting impact on you forever.
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Zaytoun (2012)
Common goals can make even worst enemies best friends
4 May 2013
This story takes place in 1982, and is about the young boy, Fahed (Abdallah El Akal), whose family has suffered a lot because of the war in Beirut. One day, an Israeli fighter pilot, Yoni (Stephen Dorff), is captured by the local forces, and Fahed sees and opportunity to free the pilot, so he can take him back to his former home, where his father wanted to plant the family's olive-tree, but never had the chance to do so, because of the war.

At first, the two are mortal enemies, only working together because they need each other to reach their individual goals: Fahed wants to return back to his old family home, and Yoni wants to escape from prison, where he is bound to be tortured and interrogated, before he is used politically to exchange prisoners from the Israelis.

But along the way, the two form a tight friendship, where they both save each others lives on numerous occasions, until they (hopefully) reach their goals. It just goes to show, that even during the worst situations, friendships can arise when you are able to look past ones differences, and instead focus on common interests and dreams.

This is the newest movie from director Eran Riklis (Etz Limon, The Syrian Bride), and he still manages to make very interesting movies on highly debated subjects about the situation in Israel and the middle east in general. The acting from the leading actors is very impressive as well, especially from the young El Akal, who should have a long career ahead of him. It is also a quite interesting turn from the otherwise rather mainstream actor, Stephen Dorff, who most people probably know best from action-films like "Blade", "Public Enemies" and "Felon".

A highly recommended film, which also can be used for educational purposes. 8/10.
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Cute and funny social-realism with a twist
4 May 2013
This story is about a narrow-minded, loud-mouthed and stubborn Italian man, Sergio, who works as a tourist-attraction at the Colusseum, where he dresses up as a gladiator, and lets people take their photo with him. He used to be a relatively successful stuntman, and allegedly had a small part in the Hollywood classic, Ben-Hur. But as he grew older, there were no more stunt-jobs for him, so he has to make a living doing a job he doesn't like.

He lives with his sister, Maria, who has a job as a phone-sex operator, and frequently has dirty conversations with strange men on the phone, which really annoys Sergio, as he can't get any sleep with her constant moaning and groaning during the night.

But one day both their lives are completely changed, when they agree to host the Belorussian immigrant, Milan, who is a very talented worker, and he agrees to take on all sorts of odd-jobs to get by, including dressing up as a gladiator and standing in front of the Colusseum, so Sergio can take some time off, and do things he likes doing instead.

Along the way, there are a lot of funny and touching moments, and you either laugh or cry all the way throughout, right up until the anti-climatic ending, which looks very out of context with the rest of the film - studio tampering perhaps? Overall, a very nice movie with a lot of good moments - if there ever would be a Hollywood remake, I'm thinking James Caan as Sergio and Richard Jenkins as Milan would be great!
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Basically just "Idaho" with more River, and less Keanu...
26 April 2013
So, the idea for this film allegedly came, when James Franco hung out with his good friend Gus Van Sant, and they decided to view all the old film-reels from "My Own Private Idaho", and Franco thought it'd be a good idea to re-cut the movie, extending as many scenes as possible with the late River Phoenix, and instead leaving out almost the entire Keanu Reeves-storyline, along with a few other scenes as well.

While it doesn't feel badly cut or chopped up, it still feels kinda weird watching it, knowing that it wasn't this way the movie was meant to be seen. But even so, it is still a very interesting film, and would be greatly appreciated by fans of either River Phoenix, James Franco, and/or Gus Van Sant... fans of Keanu Reeves might not be so pleased, though.
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The Interval (2012)
Is it a waste of time to watch two teenagers waste their time?
25 April 2013
In an Italian urban area, the two teenagers, Mimmo (Salvatore Ruocco) and Veronica (Francesca Riso), are forced to spend time together at an abandoned building, because Veronica has gotten into trouble, and Mimmo owes somebody a favor, and therefore has to babysit her, until her mafioso "guardian" can talk to her.

But during their time in the condemned building, their initial animosity becomes a friendship, as they roam the area together, and share thoughts and anecdotes. Veronica doesn't want to have anything to do with the mobsters that kidnapped her, so she frequently tries to escape, but when she becomes aware that Mimmo will be hurt if she flees, her view on things change a bit.. but will it be enough to keep her from running away? The two leading actors are very likable, and there's a good tension throughout the movie, as you never really know what will happen when the gangsters return, and their growing relationship along with the fear of the unknown will keep you watching to the end.

However, when looking back upon the movie, it is very forgettable, as nothing really exciting happens during the story.. it is a very enjoyable film though, so it is definitely recommended for people who loves movies with small casts, and adventurous settings in urban areas during the summer.
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Ape (2012)
Decent no-budget flick, but not really worth your time..
25 April 2013
I saw this film at the Copenhagen Film Festival (CPH PIX), where the director, Joel Potrykus was also present, and he shared a handful of interesting facts about the film afterwards, among them being that the budget for the film was only around 2000 bucks, mostly going to catering the crew and transportation, so with that in mind, the end-result is actually quite impressing.

But, despite of this, the film has to be reviewed as a "real" feature-film, and not just some friends making a school-project, and in that regard, it falls completely flat in almost every way. The leading actor, Joshua Burge, playing the unfunny stand-up comedian Trevor Newandyke, is sympathetic enough, but generally just comes through as a lazy slacker bum, who doesn't want a real job, and would rather just hustle his way through life.. or "wing it", rather. All the other characters in the film are either just random bystanders, or similar goal-less slacker-types, like his colleague Dennis Spicer (Gary Bosek), who also deliver quite a few unfunny jokes throughout the movie.

For some reason, the director chose to throw in a few random scenes with a guy in a monkey-suit harassing Trevor, and a guy in a devil-suit doing the same, and quite a few scenes with Trevor using a spray-can as a flamethrower or throwing a poorman's Molotov-cocktail on the ground... again, for no reason whatsoever.

If you have absolutely nothing better to do with your time, and you love watching amateurish, "unfunny" unfunny movies with no real plot or character-development at all, this movie is perfect for you. For everybody else, it's not.

P.S: The director also mentioned, that all the jokes Trevor tells in the film, are actually his own bad jokes, from when he himself was a stand-up comedian, so you can't even tell him to "stick to his day-job" either, as the jokes really stunk.... hard.
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Utz (1992)
Pretty good story about the value of life vs. objects
25 April 2013
Meet Baron Kaspar Joachim von Utz (Armin Mueller-Stahl), a wealthy, eccentric old man, who has spent his whole life collecting the finest, rarest, beautiful porcelain figurines. He has put them on display in a large room in his apartment, while he had made his life-long partner, Marta (Brenda Fricker), his house-maid instead of marrying her.

One day, Baron von Utz meets the American art-dealer Marius Fisher (Peter Riegert), and they immediately become friends, because of their common shared interest in rare pieces of collectibles. But Utz refuses to sell any part of his collection, as he is very fond of each and every piece. But one day, Utz becomes mortally ill, and hordes of ex-lovers tries to get a piece of his wealth, along with a few art-collectors and even the national museum of Prague wants his rare porcelain-pieces...but they are nowhere to be found.

Now the mystery is, what exactly has happened to all the figurines... did he give them all to Marta, his best friend Doctor Vaclav Orlik (Paul Scofield), maybe one of his former lovers, or did something completely different happen? The morale of the story is probably, that you should treasure the gift of life, instead of wasting your time (and money) on useless collections, that you can't take with you when you die anyway. Spend life doing things that make you happy, and make other people happy, and don't treasure material objects more than love and life itself. Or something like that.

It is made by George Sluizer, the same director who also made "Spoorlos" and its remake "The Vanishing", as well as River Phoenix' last movie, "Dark Blood", so you can tell he knows a thing or two about telling a good story. Furthermore, this movie is allegedly one of his own personal favorites, as he brought it with him, to the Copenhagen Film Festival, where he proudly presented it (along with the two aforementioned movies).

Overall, a very good film, recommended especially for people with huge collections of stuff, around their mid-life crisis, looking for some inspiration for the rest of their lives, and some advice on what to do with their collections, when they've grown too big for their own good.
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Great premise and cast, but it all fizzles out in the end...
20 April 2013
Before I begin my review, I should probably start by saying that I'm actually quite a big fan of Rob Zombie the musician (including White Zombie), and I also liked his first two movies (House of 1000 Corpses and The Devil's Rejects) very much - and I hated the first Halloween-remake so much, that I didn't even want to see the second one he directed, which allegedly should be even worse.

So, with that in mind, here's my review: The film is about a young, trendy rock-radio DJ, Heidi (Sheri Moon Zombie), who suddenly finds herself in the middle of an occult Satan-worshiping witchcraft scheme, because her ancestors did something bad 400 years ago or something.. She's sent an old, crusty LP, which she (of course) plays on the radio, even though it's just a bunch of creepy, monotonous notes, played over and over again, giving all the local women in the town zombie-like headaches.

Now, this isn't just all there is to the story, but it just as well might have been, as the plot doesn't really seem to develop much from that point on. The movie is all about setting a mood, showing creepy images, and basically just making the viewers generally uncomfortable - which it actually succeeds doing. I felt bad watching this, but strangely attracted to it at the same time.

The cast is pretty good actually, with Jeff Daniel Phillips and Ken Foree as the other two radio-hosts, and Bruce Davison as the historian who tries to get to the bottom of this whole witch-thing going on. The problem is just, that the movie doesn't really go anywhere with it's plot, and it's not really a slasher-movie or exorcism-movie, which you could expect. It's purely about making you feel miserable, and that's not (always) a good thing.

Oh, by the way... if you're expecting to see a lot of Sid Haig and Michael Berryman, think again, as they've only got small non-talking, not-interesting cameos. Meg Foster is pretty good as the witch-"queen", though.
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Youth (I) (2013)
A guide on how NOT to kidnap somebody...
20 April 2013
This story is about two brothers, Shaul and Yaki (played by the real-life brothers Eitan and David Cunio), who are in need of some extra cash to help their father Moti (Moshe Ivgy), and therefore decide to kidnap a local girl, whose parents allegedly should be rich enough to pay them a handsome ransom.

One of the brothers has recently joined the Israeli army, so they have to commence this entire kidnapping-ordeal before he's permanently enlisted, and can't help anymore. They won't waste any more time, so they hurry up and abduct their pretty acquaintance Dafna (Gita Amely), and throw her down their cellar. After that, they try to contact her parents, but everything just goes wrong, and it quickly becomes clear that the two boys have no clue about what they're doing.

It is definitely a good guide for would-be kidnappers, so they know exactly what NOT to do. Even so, the two boys are a couple of charming fellows, despite of their somewhat odd appearances and brute behaviour.

I saw this film at the Copenhagen Filmfestival (CPH PIX), and I didn't have any expectations going in, so I was pleasantly surprised to find an amusing, but quite serious and uncomfortable story, which entertained the whole way throughout.
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The Landlords (2012)
Interesting Deliverance-type movie
19 April 2013
This story is about two construction-workers, the brothers Cosimo (Valerio Mastandrea) and Elia (Elio Germano), who are hired by the famous singer, Fausto Mieli (Gianni Morandi), to do some work on his rural mansion, before he's due to make his big career comeback-concert in his home city.

It all seems like an easy enough job, but when the brothers get there, they become the talk of the town, because they are foreign out-of-towners, and the small community doesn't like strangers. Things get even worse, when Elia notices a dead wolf in the back of a van belonging to a gang of local poachers, and tells Fausto about it.

It turns out, Fausto is the forest protector, and can't stand poachers, so he takes it up with the local mayor, much to the annoyance of the gang. Matters gets even worse, when Elia begins flirting with the local young beauty Adriana (Francesca Rabbi), which her wanna-be boyfriend, the poacher Davide (Lorenzo Rivola) certainly doesn't like.

Meanwhile, Cosimo has a couple of unfortunate encounters with Fausto's wife, Moira (Valeria Bruni Tedeschi), who is disabled, and sits in a wheelchair. All these small events leads up to a tragic climax, in the middle of Fausto's comeback-show.

The movie was pretty good, interesting characters and beautiful locations. However, the plot was somewhat predictable, and a lot of the things that happened, could've easily been avoided, if the main characters just used a bit of common sense, which annoyed me as a viewer. But overall, a good movie, albeit far from perfect.
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Greatest Hits (2012)
Greatest Hits? I don't think so...
19 April 2013
I saw this movie at Copenhagen Film-festival (CPH PIX), and even though I had no expectations going in, I was really bored throughout.

The story is about a poor family, where the son tries to make money by selling burned copies of a "Greatest Hits"-album with love songs. But for some reason, he memorizes all the songs (and their order), so he can recite them to potential customers. But we never actually see him trying to sell an album, only countless scenes of him sitting and reciting the song-titles. This happens so many times, that you're fed up by the end.

At one point, an old man appears in their apartment, being the long-lost deadbeat-dad, returned after 15 years absence or so. They sit around doing nothing, argue a bit, and then they go on a short trip to a nice place in the country. But when they're finally there, the dad insists on them leaving after 5 minutes, because one of his friends needs something from him. The entire 5 minutes are spent with him sitting in his car, staring out of the window... and we just sit there as well.

Midway through the movie, the director suddenly starts talking to the main characters for some reason, and it looks like a documentary. But it doesn't happen again, so the continuity is totally off, which seems very weird.

Sometimes the plot was kind of hard to follow as well, as they jump back and forth in locations, without any coherence. I liked the characters, even if they were playing themselves (?) - but overall, the movie was really boring and went nowhere.

So, Greatest Hits - I don't think so..
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The school of hard Kazakhstanian knocks
18 April 2013
This movie is about the young boy, Aslan (Timur Aidarbekov), who lives in a small rural town in Kazakhstan, being raised by his grandmother, with no siblings or parents around. When Aslan goes to school, he is constantly bullied by the school's worst thug, Bolat (Aslan Anarbayev), who also racketeers money and valuable items to gangsters on the school property.

Bolat has a grudge against Aslan for some reason, and tricks him into drinking a glass of penis-dipped water, which makes Aslan the laughing-stock of all the other kids in the school. Bolat even threatens the other kids with severe beatings, so they won't befriend or even talk to Aslan, as Bolat just hates him so much.

But one day, a new boy arrives in class, Mirsain (Mukhtar Andassov), who comes from the big city. He quickly befriends Aslan, and won't stand for Bolat's threats, even though he regularly beats both of them up, with the help of his loyal goons. Now, I won't spoil what happens next, but it's suffice to say, that none of the three boys' lives will ever be the same again, when Bolat is suddenly alone, and confronted after school.

The movie also shows how cynical and incompetent the police-force are, after handling the case with the three boys. Hopefully this is not the case in real life as well, but I'm afraid that many countries still accept confessions made under torture, and this movie shows one of the reasons why that is unacceptable.

The director, Emir Baigazin, apparently makes his debut with this film, which just makes it even more impressive. The acting from the kids is pretty good, and many of the images are visually striking throughout the film. Hopefully this will be the beginning of a long career for all of those involved.

This movie is also very good for educational purposes, to show the ill effects of crime and bullying in school, as well as generally portraying life in rural areas of Kazakhstan.
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Pretentious Garbage Disguised as "Art"
18 April 2013
Now, before you rate my negative review negatively, please notice that when I saw this film (at Copenhagen PIX Film Festival), it had been advertised as being "James Franco re-enacts some of his career's greatest moments, in a funny round of movie-karaoke by the American artist Carter" - It didn't sound bad, actually quite interesting, so I had high hopes going in... I already knew it could be somewhat "artistic", and not a *real* movie as such, but in no way had I imagined it being SO bad...

The entire film, from start to finish, is just James Franco, (very) poorly re-enacting random scenes from a handful of movies, very few people has seen - and if they've actually seen the original scenes, they probably couldn't recognize them, as the re-enactments are done so poorly! Several scenes consist of him either: walking back and forth (sometimes backwards), answering the phone, mumbling incoherently to himself, fiddling with his chair for several minutes, staring into the camera, painting a (really) bad self-portrait, or just sitting and writing doodles for no apparent reason..

There's nothing that links the scenes together, and there's no real point to this "movie", other than showing James Franco (at about 50% of his acting-capacity for some reason), rehearsing scenes from some of his previous movies, along with some scenes from Julianne Moore and Rock Hudson's old parts as well. The director, Carter, was also present at the screening, and tried to defend the film, to little avail. You can't really turn crap into gold, just by talking about how "special" and "artistic" it is.

If I hadn't sat in the middle of a row, in a packed theatre (where about 85% of the audience were young "Francofilian" women), I would've walked out. This was 63 minutes of my life that will never come back.
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Days of Grace (2011)
One cop, One kidnapping, Three World Cups.
21 February 2013
This is a story about a young policeman, Lupe (Tenoch Huerta), who tries to fight crime and corruption in his hometown Mexico City, where drug-cartels and criminal gangs have taken over completely.

All of Lupe's partners are apparently either rotten cops or simply cowards, who are afraid of sticking up to the gangsters that run the city, so he pretty much has to fight all the bad guys himself.

All this happens during the football world cup from 2004-2008. During the 2012 world cup, we follow a dramatic kidnapping, where an unfortunate businessman (Carlos Bardem - brother of Javier) is taken for ransom by a gang of ruthless thugs.

One of the thugs is a young man/boy Doroteo (Kristyan Ferrer), who is standing on the edge of becoming a hardened criminal, but after a previous run-in with the law (in the shape of Lupe), he is still unsure about his place in life. The kidnapped man and Doroteo form a secret alliance, and their relationship evolves greatly during the world cup, of which they both are fans and followers of.

The story is told with a lot of cross-cutting between the three world cups, and it can be a little hard to follow at times, but if you pay attention, it shouldn't be too difficult.

It's a very violent and brutal story, but it is filmed beautifully, with lots of creative camera-angles, so there's always something to find an interest in on-screen. It's a highly entertaining, but also very sad story.

Recommended for those who enjoyed City of God and/or Tropa de Elite, and similar movies about gangs in South and Middle-America.
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Open Fire (1989)
Explosions and guns galore, and tons of army trucks on fire! Sweet!
13 September 2012
Now, if you can get a hold of this film, you better make sure you buy it as soon as you can! I found mine - a cheap Danish VHS, with the awesome sub-title "A Kickboxer Avenges" ("En Kickboxer Hævner") years ago, and I even met David Carradine at a convention in Sweden (2006-ish), and asked him about this film, when I went to get his autograph on the cover. When he saw the cover, he replied something like: "I've never seen a copy of this before! The producer was a real jerk, he never paid any of us our money! I almost thought the movie had never been released" - and all things considered, it really didn't get much of a release by the looks of it. And knowing that good ol' Dave didn't get a single penny for making it, makes it extra special!

The plot is as follows: David Carradine plays Senator Joe Rourke, who has traveled to some remote South American village to see a martial arts-performance by a "local" group of bimbos, and also promote good relations with America and the country in question (not quite sure which one actually, I doubt it's mentioned at all, but probably Colombia or something like that, as there's lots of soldiers everywhere).

Along with Rourke, there's also a bus full of children, called something like "The United Nations Children for Peace Choir", where his daughter Gina (played by Carradine's real-life daughter, Kansas Carradine) are among the singers - although I can't recall hearing them sing at all during the film. The other kids are a random bunch, representing most types of kids from America.. among them a blonde boy with a bowl cut, a black kid resembling Webster, and their guide/guardian, Joe's wife Gabby Rourke (Michelle Pfeiffer look-a-like Ashley F. Brooks).

Of course the kids get kidnapped, and Joe Rourke has to save them all! But for some reason (maybe because of a gunshot wound, perhaps just diarrhea), he gets a bad fever, and has to lie in bed for half the film! Now it's up to the before-mentioned bimbos and their leader, honorable mute (and apparently also dumb) Master Bruce Ly to save they day! Now, I'm not quite sure this "Bruce Ly"-character is actually played by Yung Henry Yu, as the IMDb wants you to believe.. I rather think that two actors chose the same "fake Bruce Lee"-moniker, and they've since become mixed up, as Open Fire's Bruce Ly is a rather robust and chubby looking fellow, and Yu is a lot skinnier and slender looking.. but I dunno, maybe he just had a bad hair-day or something. One of the bimbos is played by Wanda Acuna by the way, whom you may or may not remember as Maria from "No Retreat No Surrender 3: Blood Brothers"!

Anyways, this film mostly consists of hot bimbo girls running around in a jungle of sorts, shooting at random soldiers popping out from nowhere at varying intervals, until David Carradine gets back on his feet. If you thought there were a lot of explosions and gunfights BEFORE he returned to the screen, guess again! When he parades onto the screen again, it's pure mayhem all the rest of the way! Cars explode for no reason (over and over again), soldiers fall down from trees, into rivers (again and again), and an entire forest is burned to a crisp, INCLUDING the lake in the middle of it! He's also quite fond of ducking behind the same palm-tree over and over again, with hilarious results!

For some reason - some say magic or just plain mad skills, I say "p-word"-poor editing - everybody seems to be able to move from different locations at lightning-quick speed, like the bad guy standing on the ground one moment, then suddenly screaming "OPEN FIRE!" at the top of a bell-tower, and then back on the ground again the moment after!

To top it all off, the villain is some guy called "Pecos", played by a sinister-looking no-name actor with a scruffy ponytail, who runs around with a HUGE screaming bird (falcon/eagle/woodpecker/who knows... I'm no botanist!) on his shoulder throughout, and mostly just utters lines like, "THEY CANNOT ESCAPE", "GET THEM!", and such.. his right-hand man, played by semi-famous Mexican actor Jorge Reynoso actually does a lot better job of getting into the action, getting kicked in the face at least a dozen times by David Carradine!

And oh yeah, I almost forgot.. a totally forgettable cameo by Quentin Tarantino's favorite, Hugo Stiglitz (Nightmare City), who basically just stands around, looking for his paycheck (which allegedly never arrived) in a couple of scenes back at the village. His facial expression is totally passionless - he always looks like this of course, but this time it's actually almost painful to watch!

So to sum it all up, this movie is priceless! Literally.
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Once Fallen (2010)
Great opportunity - just missed
17 November 2011
This film is about a young man, Chance (Brian Presley - Borderland), who has a lot of problems with his life, that he must overcome.

His father Liam, (Ed Harris) is currently in prison for beating a man to death, and has been elected head of the Aryan Nation, which gives him certain privileges, but also some obligations that he must fulfill.

Chance's best friend Beat (Chad Lindberg - The Fast and the Furious) has a lot of psychological problems, and is currently involved with a notorious drug-dealer, Rath (Ash Adams - Lionheart), who also happens to be a crooked cop, and doesn't take no for an answer.

Apart from these problems, Chance has just found out that his ex-girlfriend Kat, (Alison Eastwood - Tightrope) has been raising his child while he was in jail, but now decides to split and leave the kid with him, all the while Rath is hassling him, Beat, and Liam.

Chance gets some help from his old pal, bar-owner Eddie (Peter Weller - RoboCop), who in return expects Chance to do some street-fighting for him. Random fights is the only job Chance can get, apart from dealing drugs, but as he now has a young son to raise, and recently finds new love in Pearl (Taraji P. Henson - Hustle & Flow), who just happens to be black - something Liam's fellow Aryan brothers certainly doesn't approve of, and they send their number two, Sonny (Peter Greene - Pulp Fiction) to tell him about it in person.

The thing about this film that makes it fall beneath the cracks of goodness, is the sheer lack of common sense. For starters, it doesn't make any sense, that: 1) Liam became the head of the Aryan nation, but doesn't seem very well-liked by ANY of the other Aryans. 2) Chance's girlfriend just leaving her son with him - an almost complete stranger - after raising the kid for 5 years! 3) The part about Rath ending the way it did - made NO sense whatsoever.

In the end, it all just feels like the story could've gone in SO many other directions, which would've been better. And the producers had an all-star stellar cast of character-actors, which they didn't use for anything at all!

I mean, the movie has Richard Tyson (Kindergarten Cop), Antonio Vargas (Starsky & Hutch), Jesse D. Goins (RoboCop), Sticky Fingaz (Onyx), Rance Howard (Ed Wood), and Steve friggin' Railsback (Lifeforce), and a LOT of other great character-actors, but they're all just completely WASTED in this production, only half of them getting any lines, and the rest just appearing in a few minutes with hardly any screen-time at all... it makes no sense, not to use any of them for anything.. why not just cast some random unknowns instead?

I felt like a good opportunity was missed here. Some of the points came across well, but mostly it was just wasted.
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