Thursday, April 24, 2008

Movies I'm watching in April 2008

Monday April 06, 2008
Delinquent School Girls (1974) *1/2 - REALLY trashy low down exploitation number is so sleazy that you will be amazed at what you are watching at times. Unfortunately it is also so stupid and unremittingly misogynistic that its hard to have a good time with too. Three convicts escape from the local asylum and end up heading towards the local school for troubled girls where by chance all of them have double D breasts (okay I liked that part). The criminals are the mastermind who also does impersonations(!) the black thug (who constantly has his shirt off to show off his physique) who only wants to get laid to an alarming degree, and a screaming homosexual played by the gay guy from the AIRPLANE movies. For the first 45 minutes the movie is just one scene after another of the girls exercising without their bras (their idea of showing women's lib. Seriously!) or lounging in their underwear or in a very creepy scene being dosed a roofie by a old coot (one girl says "my god he's really old, he must be at least fifty!") and then groped. Any reason to get their hooters on display. Then at the midpoint there is an home invasion scene where the Black thug rapes Buck Flower's sexually frustrated (big breasted) wife that goes on forever and the tone of the movie changes from leering to kinda ugly. Its bad enough that it has that horrid 70's rape theme where the women get raped and then end up loving it going on (literally here, in one scene two girls are getting raped by the trio, the camera cuts away, then comes back and they are having a party with wine and food and laughing!) but the music during the rapes is comedy music! The actresses are acting like its serious, fighting and crying and playing like its atrocious while this calliope funhouse music is playing! yeuch! Later the Roofie teacher has the same girl hypnotized and tries to shove a gardener snake up the girls snatch... There is some so bad its good moments too like when the black guy is getting beat up by one of the students when they find him raiding the kitchen and he is still eating his sandwhich on the ground. Or the worlds lamest karate instructor who knows absolutely NO karate at all and can't even subdue the fumbling gay guy. But overall this one leaves kind feeling sleazy and not in too good a way. Seen part of this before but not the whole thing.

Tuesday April 07. 2008
Man In White aka The Unforgiven Man With The Soul Of A Tiger (2003) *** - Somehow this Takashi Miike gangster movie missed the reference books and isn't mentioned in the biography AGITATOR by Tom Mes which makes me think it is later than 2003. Anyway it is a very straight forward movie, especially for Miike. When a Yakuza godfather is killed in an elevator on his way to a wedding his bodyguard survives and goes on the warpath to find who did it. this young man was taken in by the godfather off of the streets when he was a child because his psychotic brother had killed his real Father and his mother had hung herself. so he starts killing his way through the ranks of the Tokyo gangster scene until he gets the information he needs which leads to a full on yakuza war brewing. The first thing you notice is that this is shot digitally and hand held which can be distracting until you get used to it and in some of the night shots it is hard to tell what is going on at times. But it does lend an immediacy to the proceedings too. But at the end of the day this is just a solid yakuza picture, with good action, some blood and a lot of posturing. there really is very little in the movie that would tip you off that this is a Miike movie. There is only one strange little scene and the abrupt (and unsatisfying) ending that smell of his directorial style. Otherwise this is solid but not spectacular stuff. First time seeing this.

Wednesday April 09, 2008
Human Beasts (1980)** - One of Paul Naschy's directorial efforts is also one of his weaker entries. This film also finds Naschy in a rather pessimistic mood as no one in the film (except one character) is worth redeeming. Naschy plays a thief and criminal who betrays his partner and woman who loves him on a diamond heist. The Japanese syndicate her and her brother work for hunt him down but Nachy kills all of them except her in the process. But he ends up left for dead in the mountains and is found by a kindly old doctor and his two beautiful daughters who have a pig farm. they nurse him back to health while his old flame is still hunting for him, now wanting revenge for the murder of her brother. The the movie suddenly shifts to a weird giallo with people being bumped off at the villa and one guy in a very vicious scene being fed to the pigs. The climax is not a huge surprise. the biggest problem with this movie is that once it gets to the cottage the movie slows down to a snails pace and just drags along trying to be a Gothic horror/giallo with a sexy side. But it is just so slow that you find yourself drifting away from it. Naschy's character spends like a half hour or more of the film in a bed nearly unconscious which doesn't help matters much. there's some good shocks along the way, it starts off good and ends with a bang but that mid section is a real problem. But the cynicism of the movie is appealing. First time seeing this.

Saturday, April 12, 2008
Frontier(s) (2007) *** - Ultra-violent, mean spirited and ugly as hell are only a few ways to describe Xavier Gen's survival horror film that is getting some buzz in the horror community because it was booted out of last years 8 Films To Die For After Dark Horror Fest when it got the NC-17 rating. For once maybe that rating was the correct one as this isn't some goofy shit like Hostel, of twisty/turny splatter fantasy like Saw. This is some depraved hardcore shit. The way I like it! We meet a small group of twenty-something's in France have used the cover of a political revolution and rioting to commit a robbery (that we never actually see) with the lead girl being pregnant and her brother dead from a gunshot wound. They remaining four flee into the country side to a small set of hotels that happens to be run by a inbred, cannibalistic family of Neo Nazi's descendant from the Third Reich. Their plan is to eat these kids and us the female as a fresh blood breeder since their own bloodline has become so polluted from the inbreeding. When they find out she is already pregnant they are delighted because the can have their first healthy child in the family in many generations. From here on out it is just balls to the wall brutality and splatter dolled out with a viciousness that seems to only come from France these days. the films of Alexandre Aja have a similar feel for violence as this one did, but thankfully this doesn't have the twist to fuck it all up like HIGH TENSION did. It is not perfect. There is a whole side plot about the cast off children of the family that is not fully developed or done much with and a couple of the main characters are rather annoying. But these are small complaints in a bigger picture which is that this is one of the best most serious horror films in years. Too bad its rating, which it deserves due to its rough content, kept it out of theaters. First time seeing this.

Sunday April 13, 2008
I Don't Know Jack (2002) *** - Very warm yet sad documentary about the life of Jack Nance most remembered as the tall haired frekazoid lead in David Lynch's Eraserhead. This movie covers basically from his early years as a stage actor and struggling actor in Hollywood (He came down to the other choice for both In Cold Blood and The Graduate both movies that would have redefined his career). We cover his time doing Eraserhead and the other Lynch films. But mostly we cover his life as a raging alcoholic and how it crumbled the relationships around him. We also cover how of all people Dennis Hopper helped him get sober. then there is the sad business of his second wife's suicide and his tragic and probably avoidable own death from a beating outside a donut shop. this is a very simple documentary that just lets people tell their stories about jack and it is all the better for it. First time seeing this.

Fear And Loathing In Gonzvision (1978) **1/2 - British Television portrait of Hunter S Thompson and his Artist friend as the traverse the distance between his home and Las Vegas and then to Las Angeles to discuss a film that ultimately never got made. throughout Hunter complains that people only want to see his fictional alter ego Raoul Duke the drugged up, out of control monstrosity that causes so many problems. Yet he tends to become that character whether he likes it or not. Stoned all the time, having to smoke a joint to come down enough to do an interview, snorting coke enough to come back up. Shooting guns all the time, out running cops on the highway and being found in his hotel room paranoid beyond belief with his face painted white babbling ont he phone to the producers of the very show he is in. The show finally ends with him designing a giant two thumbed metal fist that will shoot his ashes into the sky after he dies and then be a several story monument to his life. I have no idea if they built that when he died but in this show he claimed it would be in his will. First time seeing this.

Thursday April 17th, 2008
Loose Change The Final cut (2007) ***1/2 - This extended recut of the searing and controversial documentary about the government involvement in the 9/11 atrocities is a much more evenhanded document than the previous editions. gone now is the accusatory tone, replaced with much more on camera testimony from eye witnesses, mostly culled from news reports. Things are much more convincing when he have bloody survivors that have just been dragged out of Building 7 saying they just experienced an explosion in the lobby. The same with the twin towers. It is interesting were as in the second edition much was laid out as fact, such as a plane couldn't have hit the pentagon due to factors X,Y & Z, where as now, the film is careful to state its claims differently, laying out its evidence then simply asking you the viewer to make your own conclusion, but stressing that you should ask more questions. It seems that a LOT has been learned from the guerrilla style of filmmaking of the earlier cuts to the much more polished and professional style here. It works well and I think this may sway more people. But then again there are those who simply refuse to even take this idea into consideration because they see it as conspiracy theory idiocy and no amount of research, fact checking, or questions will change their mind. I'd rather hear out the ideas and look into it myself and see what validity is there. And there are a lot of questions on this issue. Questions I was asking well before encountering Loose Change. First time seeing this cut.

Friday April 18, 2008
88 Minutes (2008) *1/2 - VERY standard thriller where Al Pacino plays a college proffesor (who gets all the young chicks) who also helps put away serial killers. Seems his big high profile case is up for parole and there is a copycat killer causing people to believe he may be totally innocent. Then our hero starts getting calls telling him he has 88 Minutes to live, which it just so happens is the exact same among of time it took another killer to dismember Pacino's baby sister. This is all standard stuff, re hearings abound, a car bomb explodes, his buddy the cop (played by the always welcome William Forsyth) almost doesn't believe him and tries to take him in, hell there is even a very mild lesbian scene and some hip hop music. Debora Kara Unger is TOTALLY wasted in her role as the college dean, and Lelee Sobieski ends up having the worst time with her ultimately silly role. She's horribly miscast and doesn't show her cleavage which is her beast reasons for being hired. Alicia Whitt is on bored as the February December love interest and she is cute as ever but not given much to do either. But I'm always glad to see her anyway. this movie is rated R for reasons that are very unclear, as it could play on broadcast TV without cuts and probably will someday soon. First time seeing this.

Saturday April 19th 2008
Gang Wars (1976) * - Okay I have a great love for shit movies. anyone who reads these blogs (you masochists you!) know that I can find a saving grace in just about any piece-o-shit (and can find a political slant where there is none too!). But this motherfucker tested even my well worn cinematic meddle. This is one of those movies that you just can't help but wonder what anyone was thinking. the plot, and surprisingly there is one, is about two martial artists, one big afroed black dude played by the hilariously monikered War Hawk Tanzania, and his bug eyed, coke-fiend Latino buddy go to Hong Kong for some training. While there the Latino dude finds an amulet left thousands of years ago by some monks (yes this is starting to sound a little like that Brady Bunch episode with Vincent Price!). Taking the amulet lets loose an evil spirit that possesses people turning them into the most hilarious zombies in movie history. they literally paint white eyes on the actors EYELIDS and have them wander around with their eyes closed! Then its back to New York where the Latino dude is burned in a coke deal by a Chinese gang and the gang war of the title is kicked off. there are several martial arts fights that make the ones in Rudy Ray Moore movies look like Bruce Lee and the zombie attacks all take place in the subway tunnells under New York. Without Lights. At all. In complete darkness. As in you can't see shit. Interesting enough one of the guys attacked by the zombies is I Drink Your Blood director David Durston and Brother Theodor shows up as a street preacher. I think I've done a disservice in describing this movie because I've not made it sound as thuddingly dull as it is. This is sloooooowwww moving with grade school acting and nothing much else to recommend it. this isn't even so bad its good except for the one goofy looking zombie. it would be a challenge for MST3K to take this one on. First time seeing this.

Sunday April 20, 2008
Street Kings (2008) **1/2 - This is basically an episode of the Shield with Keanu Reeves in the lead role. Reeves plays a hard bitten, alcoholic cop who has a penchant for killing his suspects. His old partner is apparently talking to the FBI about his behavior. One day when Reeves has followed his old partner to beat the shit out of him for ratting on him two thugs corner them in a store and execute the partner gangland style leaving Reeves holding the bag and so begins the investigation into why it happened, who was dirty etc. Forrest Whittiker is the superior officer and friend. This scores points for being a brutal and uncompromising street level crime movie (the opening shoot out is a stunner) but it looses a lot of ground for what turns into a very obvious storyline that has been done a dozen times before. this ends up going exactly where you think it is going and becomes way too predictable for its own good. too bad because the first half is really good. The second half is entertaining, but unfortunately you've seen it before. First time seeing this.

Monday April 21st, 2008
The Lost (2005) ** - Adaptation of Jack Ketchum's book (which I have not read) has a few good things going for it but ultimately hangstrings itself with too self aware direction and cinematography that is consistently distracting (at least to me). Ray Pye is a sociopath loosely based on Charles Starkweather, who in the first scene of the movie kills two girls camping (played by genre favorites Erin Brown, who has yet another full frontal nude scene, and Ruby LaRocca) just for kicks. The scene is brutal and uncomprimising and sets a galvonizing tone for the rest of the picture to live up to. At times it does, when the movie is at its quietest allowing the actors to explore the characters it works. But too often the movie falls into cinematic conventions of changing filmstocks, bizarro editing and ironic music choices to get across the action which actually successfully derails a lot of what was working fine without it. the actors are all committed enough that the movie didn't need the theatrics to pull it along. The climax is suitably brutal and ugly but unfortunately our lead psycho goes too far over the top flailing his arms around and squawking quips to make damn sure you know he is a psychopath. Once again the less is more approach the acting had been taking earlier worked better. So all in all it is a missed opportunity with some good stuff in it but a lot that hampers it along the way. First time seeing this.

Tuesday April 22, 2008
Fall From Grace (2008) *** - Solid and frightening documentary about everyone's favorite hellfire and brimstone hate spewing preacher, Reverend Fred Phelps, the bigoted fucktard who has been in the news lately because he has taken to picketing the funerals of dead soldiers returning from Iraq. But as this fascinating document shows this dirtball and his psychotic inbred brood have been pushing their hate speech on the people of Topeka Kansas for the last decade and a half or more. This documentary has unlimited access to Fred Phelps the man and his huge family all of whom gladly open up to the cameras spewing how much they as well as GOD hate "fags", how AIDS is a gift from the lord to cleanse the word of "fags" and degenerates etc. The most disturbing footage comes from impromptu interviews with the children of Phelps family, scatly four years old and screaming about how horrible "fags" are and how God should kill them. Thankfully the director gets the other side of the debate too, most interestingly a biblical scholar who delves into the controversial Leviticus passage that most homophobic Christians (including Phelps and his brood) latch onto and how it relates to the times it was written. He addresses how that verse is preached heavily be some churches while most of the other Leviticus verses are simply ignored because they would make life inconvenient for modern people. He also explains that the homosexuality in biblical times was actually talking about pederasty and not the committed gender relationships of current times. Its a lot of mental meat to chew on. There are also other lawyers, politicians, and preachers all of whom disagree with Phelps that speak their minds. Most enlightening is two of Phelps children that got away from the flock that explain, by phone, how he was an abusive Father with rage problems who used God as a way to torment, terrify and subjugate his family and followers. Then there is the whole issue of the picketing the Funerals of the soldiers which is so convoluted, twisted and makes so little sense except in the twisted, deranged mind s of the Phelps that it is astonishing. In the words of his own son who got away "Fred Phelps is running a cult. And all it would take is for him to say that God wants for them to kill someone and it will happen." This is true terror folks. First time seeing this.

Rush To War (2007) *** - Engrossing, intricate documentary that traces how America's own decisions regarding foreign policy, have made us the Bad guys of the world, thus setting the stage for 9/11. And how that led the way to open the flood gates for the current administration to put the current war machine into motion. Much of the information here is available in other more non-partisan documentaries. BUt what makes this one good is that it is less partisan (though it still paints the current administration in a bad light, but it is probably impossible to tell the truth and paint them any other way). Most damning is the 1997 GOP vision statement that outlines how to get America to become the dominant world power, that states boldly that the plan is wholly unethical and un-American and thus would require a catastrophe along the lines of another Pear Harbor styled incident. The documentary stops short of saying the US caused 9/11 but the do say they exploited it for all it was worth in the following 18 months to get into Iraq and start dominating that country and its oil supply. The film also covers America's authorized use of torture and the outing of an FBI informant by Scooter Libby because her husband pointed out a bold face lie about the WMD speech our President made to get us into Iraq. This documentary was made before Scooter Libby was pardoned by the President himself for the blatant criminal offense. This documentary basically spreads out the war crimes against the Geneva Convention, the UN and the world that our current Administration is guilty of and lets you the viewer decide what to make of them. Its is truly heartbreaking that America has done nothing. First time seeing this.

Wed April 23, 2008
The Exorcism of Emily Rose (2004) *** - Very solid drama/horror film loosely based on a true story of a priest on trial for criminal negligence because the young woman he was caring for, and providing an exorcism for, died under his watch. The film is primarily a courtroom drama, which pissed off a lot of viewers when this hit theaters because it was sold as a straight horror film upon release. when two thirds of the movie take place in a courtroom or jail cell that almost can be considered false advertising! But the other third is flashbacks to the actual possession and those scenes are winners. Jennifer Carpenter who can now be seen on the Showtime original series Dexter as the lead character's spunky cop sister, plays the title roll of Emily Rose and does a tremendous job. She is not only a charmer, but she turns in one of the most physically demanding performances in recent memory selling the possession almost entirely through her own body language and physicality. She's truly amazing in this. The cinematography and effects work in the flashback scenes are also top notch strongly evoking Dario Argento back when he was at his peak. The scene when she runs screaming from her college classroom into the rain is so evocative of Suspiria that it HAS to be a conscious homage. But unlike other films, the scene is NOT a rip off, it just evokes the same nightmare quality that the Argento film did. That is high praise indeed. The movie falters in the wrap up as everything wraps up a little too tidily for comfort, especially considering the fate of our main character the Lawyer played by Laura Linney. Her law firms reaction is simply not believable at all. But it is this final act that keeps the movie from reaching greatness, otherwise this is a fine film, well worth visiting. First time seeing this.

Thursday April 24, 2008
American Drug War, The Great White Hope (2006?) ***1/2 - Excellent documentary exploring how America's war on drugs is a complete sham designed to perpetuate a cycle that keeps the poor people down, locked up and doing drugs, while the government is able to allocate billions of dollars to fight this so called war and fill their pockets with tons of money. The film covers in detail how crack was developed, put onto the streets, how the cocaine that it was made from came directly from US government so the could fund the Iran/Contra conflict. It covers how prisons have become privatized and big business so if more people are imprisoned the make more money and that funnels back to the business and the government. It covers how pot is considered a class one drug on par with heroin, cocaine and crystal meth and how people are locked up with nearly life long sentences for simple pot possession, It explores the issue of Medical Marijuana and how the government continues to prosecute sick people as criminals for possession because they are simply just another body in a money making system. they go to Amsterdam to see how their forward thinking drug laws have affected their culture and see that they have LESS drug abuse and addiction than the United States. This is an eye opening and stunning documentary that goes from the streets talking to the gangs who sell the dope all the way to the current administrations Drug Czar who is hopelessly clueless about how real people interact with drugs on a daily basis. This even covers prescription drug addiction. I have no idea if this movie is available legit. I got it through "other" means... so find it by any way you can. It is a necessary document for our times. first time seeing it

Friday April 25th 2008
Dark Chamber (2007) **1/2 - Pretty well made and very well meaning low budget suspense/ horror flick takes the high road by having no gore or nudity or any other exploitable elements (which makes you wonder why Pop Cinema released it at all?), and largely succeeds. it does this through an interesting story and earnest characterizations and a very wise decision to play the entire thing straight faced. The story is about a college aged dude who moves back to a small down to life with his police detective father against the wishes of his seemingly crazy mom. The town he moves to has a group of Satanists called The Black Circle running around killing people and his Father is working the case. Our hero briefly befriends a creepy red haired chick who hangs around with one of the tenants his Father leases the other apartments of their house too. But soon she shows up dead on their lawn and our hero is attacked by members of the cult. He is not killed though and comes to believe that someone that lives in the sublet apartments is the killer so he and his college buds wire the apartments with mini spy cameras and start recording their every move trying to suss out who might be guilty. The movie then takes a sharp turn into a voyeuristic landscape as we watch the lives of these various people including Felissa Rose from Sleepaway Camp as a "massage therapist" (read prostitute in this film's world) and her mentally handicapped firebug sister, a man with cancer and a taste for whores, and a young married couple with abuse problems. Naturally all of them are involved in some way, but not the obvious. The movie is surprisingly well mounted for a shot on video production with excellent editing and shooting, and the script is literate and well done for the most part. But in the final third it starts to fall apart as a major character literally leaves a place during a fade out and is replaced with a different character in the same location just so he can be killed. Then the final twist is pretty obvious and protracted, taking away from the rest of the film. And truthfully the movie could have used a little more "bite" to it as the pay off, is a little weak at the end. But for the most part it is still a well done and worth recommending flick. First time seeing this.

Wicked Little Things (2006) **1/2 - Good but not great little zombie yarn has a nice concept at the center. A group of children that were labor for the coal mines in the early 20th century are killed when the mine is blasted. Cue the current day when a single mom and her two daughters are moving into the broken down old house they have inherited on the property that is now haunted by the zombies/ghosts of those same kids who are hunting down the bloodlines of the families that killed them in the first place. There is some great atmosphere in the movie with wonderful sweeping shots of fog enshrouded woods with gangs of the zombie kids wandering about. There is also a couple of really sweet gore scenes that deliver the goods too. But the movies just drags in spots and the teenage daughter is such an annoying little bitch for most of the movie that you want to slap the snot out of her nose. Plus the woman they cast as the Mom only looks to be about eight years older than the teen daughter! some of it hits upon old cliche's too with the crazy old man who knows what is going on and the greedy landowner who gets his comeuppance (though i always enjoy that cliche'!) but over all the good outweighs the bad and the zombie kids are creepy enough. First time seeing this.

Saturday April 26 2008
Cloverfield (2008) *1/2 - Impressive effects and some beautiful images of destruction can't save the fact that this is some of the biggest crap in a while. the first twenty minutes of this movie are seriously painful to watch. As you spend "quality time" with the main characters of the film, all upwardly mobile apparently well off Manhattanites, having a going away party for their friend, you quickly begin to root for the as yet to be seen monster to come and fucking eat all of them. Especially the annoying knob running the camera for this "found" footage epic. A bigger whiny asshole I cannot recall in a movie except for maybe one of Kevin Smith's flicks (which I hate for this very reason). All the main characters are either just flat and uninteresting, idiots or just assholes. So when the monster finally attacks its like finally getting to be excused from a long plane ride with people you don't want to be with. The movie picks up from there with some impressive action scenes, that are more impressive considering our post 9/11 attitudes. Images of New York being torn apart with buildings collapsed and clouds of dust filling the streets are terrifying because they are still fresh in the psyche of America and this movie taps that brilliantly. too bad you can't care about the characters caught in the madness. Plus the whole conceit of the movie being captured on camera by one of the characters starts somewhat believable but after a certain point credibility gets tossed out the window as any normal human being would not still be shooting. Not to mention things like batteries running low or running out of tapes. then there is the scene of the monster eating a major character near the end but leaving the others that lapses past logic too. I will give it credit for the downbeat (for anyone who actually liked the characters anyway) ending. It says something about todays climate to end a movie that way. there's rumors of a sequel dealing with the situation from the Military fighting the monster's point of view. I think that would be a more interesting movie. First time seeing this.

Diary Of The Dead (2008) *** - First off let me say FUCK THE WEINSTEINS for making me have to see this on a tv screen instead of in the theaters where I took a day off of work to see it originally. I understand they were gunshy after the tanking of Grindhouse, but this was guaranteed at least a little bit of money if properly released. But to do a limited release and try and do a half-assed regional platform release in this day and age is preposterous. So this never played Ohio at all I don't think. At least nowhere near me. I would have gladly gave it my money. Unlike Cloverfield that I watched earlier today, this movie, also a "found footage" epic supposedly shot by characters within the film, succeeds with its premise. Diary of the Dead does two things right that Cloverfield gets deadly wrong. Diary has a group of main characters that aren't screaming asswipes, and two, it goes out of its way to keep the running camera aspect realistic and explained throughout the movie. Things like editing, music, running low on batteries, are all addressed and dealt with. So little nagging questions are snagged and released before they derail the movie. The movie takes the living dead premise back to square one as the dead are just now coming back to life. What we are watching is a documentary shot by a group of film students who banded together and went on the run trying to get home from school when the crisis hit. Along the way they have been shooting everything on camera and editing it quick and uploading it to the internet as well as downloading the occasional footage from elsewhere in the world to add into the project. the film says up front that what we are seeing is the finished piece with some music added for effect and edited. So that takes care of those problems right there. Director George Romero this time tackles the issues of media saturation and manipulation as his message. it gets heavy handed at times with characters often just outright voicing the messages instead of letting us glean them for ourselves, but at least the themes are there. this movie seems to have Romero fans split down the middle, people seem to either love it or hate it calling it it a piece of shit or a return to form. I think it is neither, but a solid zombie film that looks at it from a different perspective. It is never really as scary as it should be and has a few instances of REALLY out of place humor, especially considering how serious it is for the most part. And the ending is someplace Romero has already been with the Remake of Night Of The Living Dead 1990. But even with all that aside, its is a rock solid movie. Not as good as the other Dead films. But still good all the same. I just wish I could have seen it in a theater like I was supposed to have. First time seeing this.

Sunday April 27, 2008
Vantage Point (2008) ***- Really nice throwback to the political thrillers of the late seventies with a modern twist in that it takes a look at the action from the point of view of at least a half dozen or more various characters. Literally rewinding to show how each of them experienced the main incident. this allows us to get more information from each person's viewpoint until the final reel when it all comes together as a whole. The plot details the president of the United States visiting a peace conference in Spain as he goes to speak at a huge public forum he is shot by a sniper. As his aids and the secret service scatter to find the shooter several bombs go off in the square killing dozens of people. The film shows you how this went down from the news crews perspective, the main Presidential guard (Dennis Quaid), A bystander in the crowd with a video camera (Forest Whitaker), The President Himself (William Hurt) and finally the terrorists themselves. The plot is deceptively simple but has many interesting twists and turns but the constantly turning viewpoints keep you interested as it unfolds like a jigsaw puzzle. what marks this as a successful thriller though is that if you pulled the movie apart and re-edited it as a linear experience would it hold up a s good thriller? I think there is enough going on that it would. the only flaw is a clich├ęd and overly sentimental climax that stretches believability past the breaking point. Otherwise this is a fine thriller for grown ups. First time seeing this.

The proposition (2005) *** - Writer Nick Cave and Australian director John Hillcoat team up once again after their searing, violent and excellent prison drama Ghosts of the Civil Dead for this equally searing western. At times, violent, yet at other times poetic and beautiful this takes both these men's unique outlook into a well worn genre and makes it seem fresh. the film stars Guy Pearce as Charley Burns an outlaw in a family of outlaws. the local sheriff (Ray Winstone) has caught him and his younger brother Mikey and cuts a deal. he is going to hang Mikey on Christmas day unless Charley goes and finds their oldest brother Sean and kills him. then they will both be set free. Seems that Sean raped and killed a pregnant woman that was friends with the sheriff's wife (Emily Watson) (and maybe all three of the brother's were involved). And so the stage is set for brotherly betrayal amongst killers and outlaws in the Australian outback. Fantastic performances ground a very good script with incredible cinematography and lashings or brutal violence, with a very bizarre score by Nick Cave himself. this is not quite like any other western you can name. The movie is a bit slow in spots and Pearce's character survives a bit of violence that is a bit unrealistic to live through at one point, but overall this is a tremendous piece of work. First time seeing this.

More to come...