Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Beware the Red Door

Insidious (2011)
Dir - James Wan

This is what I'm talking about! There are a few problems I have with the film, and it does do quite a weird shift in story at one point, but it has a lot right. Manages to be equally entertaining and creepy and sure to give some nightmares. This film also proves you don't need a lot of gore or an R rating to scare the hell out of people!

The Collectors

Herb & Dorothy (2008)
Dir - Megumi Sasaki

Had this in my Netflix Instant queue for quite some time and finally watched it because streaming ends this weekend. Great look at an elderly couple in New York who have spent their lives collecting art for the love of art on their meager salaries as a postal worker and librarian (both now retired). A few minimalist/conceptual artists are interviewed and many great pieces are shown. I don't personally like every bit of minimalist/conceptual art I see but I like Herb & Dorothy and what they do.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Bugs and a Chimp

Phenomena (1985)
Dir - Dario Argento

An Argento film I had never seen before, and what a way to see it! Arrow's Blu is gorgeous and it made me so damn happy. So much to love with this films - Goblin, Connelly, Chimp, Donald Pleasance, Motorhead, gore...

Look for my full review soon on Gordon and the Whale!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Don't You (Forget About Me)

Easy A (2010)
Dir - Will Gluck

Finally a modern day teen/high school comedy that lives up to the bar set by John Hughes. Sure, a lot of it is because of homage to Hughes but it wins on every level. Full of humor and heart. I can't say enough good things about this.

Now I Really Want a Carrot

Shoot 'Em Up (2007)
Dir - Michael Davis

Wow, is this insane action fun or what?! Love that this is basically an super violent take on Bugs Bunny and Elmer Fudd. Love the "cutting" of the umbilical cord, and the cartoonish booby trapped gun warehouse. Lots of fun and I look forward to watching it again sometime.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Have You Tried Hare Krishna?

The Muppet Movie (1979)
Dir - James Frawley
Midnight Madness

It had been far too long since I last saw this film, and it's criminal that I don't own the DVD. Fun to see it in 35mm, probably my first time, and luckily the sometimes chatty Inwood crowd was quiet for this one. Well, aside from a handful quietly singing along with the tunes. That I'm alright with. I forgot how funny this movie is and at every turn it just floods my brain with nostalgia and the good times I had watching this throughout my whole life.

Vroom, Vroom

Fast & Furious (2009)
Dir - Justin Lin

Had to watch this before Fast Five comes out next week. I do enjoy these movies, though I don't think they're very good. The car chase/race scenes are always freaking awesome but that pesky plot happens and kind of bores me. I could really care less about most of what the actual film is about, and find myself snickering at the dialog. But then some awesome driving happens and you completely forgive everything else.

Can't wait to see the new one, in a theater with a huge screen and very loud sound system.

Dino Island

The Land that Time Forgot (1975)
Dir - Kevin Connor

Had this on the DVR and I have a big blindspot for a this kind of thing. I didn't really watch Land of the Lost and never saw, or remember much, from any other humans mixing with prehistoric creatures movies. This will change. Really enjoyed this remote island where there are dinosaurs and cavemen and a huge surplus of oil. Yes, the dinos are very fake looking but they're also damn cute. I now want one.

Trying to decide if I should watch the remake from 2009 with C. Thomas Howell...

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Bad, Bad Bigfoot

Night of the Demon (1980)
Dir - James C. Wasson
Horror Movie Night

Holy crap! I love this movie! It's full of bad acting, great gore, tons of flashbacks and very interesting death scenes - especially to be committed by a Sasquatch.

Look for my full thoughts next Wednesday on Gordon and the Whale!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Ghostface is Back for More

Scream 4 (2011)
Dir - Wes Craven

I heard bad things from most people who saw this and wasn't shocked. A few years ago I really started to shove my expectations of franchise films, especially when a large gap is between installments. This happened about the time Land of the Dead came out. I waited for so many years to see another Romero movie that even if it was awesome, which it wasn't, it could in no way live up to the hype I created in my head. I have never been a big fan of the Scream films. I did really like the first one and thought it had some clever stuff but before watching it again last week I had not seen it in many years. As for parts 2 and 3 I think I only saw them once or twice. With either of the sequels I could take and leave parts of them and nothing really special was there, not to mention the decrease in the bloody bits. Now after seeing part 4 I can say it was pretty much what figured. Some good moments, some bad. I just ask all of the other people who saw this and were so disappointed what were they expecting? How often is a fourth installment that good?

The scares are pretty much the same with the others, which I never really found all that scary, but maybe with a few more cheap jump scares. There was some great gore scenes, probably some of my favorite of the series. Glad to see Arquette, Cox and Campbell returning, but Courtney Cox could do pretty much anything and I'd be happy to see that. I'm hopeless that way. Another lovely lady cast was the almost unbearably adorable Alison Brie. I can't get enough of that girl! Rory Culkin is great, but I do love the whole Culkin family.

I do have some problems with it, of course. Had a motive and killer picked out quite early. Really wish that a fun killer idea I had during the movie would have happened but that will have to wait for another time. Ask me about it if you really want to know. I also have some logistical and teenage hierarchal problems with the Cinema Club but I guess you could say that's nitpicking.

There is more that I would like to talk about but don't want to tread into spoiler category. I would say it's definitely better than Craven's last, My Soul to Take, which was very flat but I could be saying that because I am so much more invested into the world of the Woodsboro Murders. See it for yourself, just don't expect it to blow your mind.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Ghostface Goes Hollywood

Scream 3 (2000)
Dir - Wes Craven

I am shocked at how little I remembered about this film. It's not as bad as I remembered but still not all that great. Everything is just so dragged out and it feels like it takes forever for anything to happen. There's one shot in the mansion where I thought it looked like a similar shot from Halloween: H20 and according to the trivia section on IMDb the same house was used in this film and the school in H20. Ha! I must be a dork to notice something like that, especially on a film I haven't seen in years.

The Scream franchise must be one of the few in the horror genre that gets less bloody in each sequel. At this rate Scream 4 is going to be able to be aired on network prime time (save for the language, of course). Guess I'll find out in the next couple of days.


I also wonder about the timeline. The first two films were made in 1996 and 1997 but, if I remember correctly, someone at Windsor College refers to the events of the first film as being a couple years ago. Then in this third installment, made in 2000, the killer talks about seeing his and Sid's mom four years ago. This would mean only a year has elapsed since part 2 since Maureen had already been dead for a year in part one. Seems crazy to me. A lot of things must have happened over the course of that year. Heh.

This Wheel Keeps A Turnin'

Rubber (2010)
Dir - Quentin Dupieux

How can you not want to see a movie about a killer tire? This film is super meta and celebrates the moments in film, and life, of things that happen for "no reason." This little nihilistic tire is hysterical. He blows up people's heads, rabbits, birds and loves to watch TV. I want an action figure! A great film that I highly recommend.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

See, Books Can Ruin Your Life

Peep World (2010)
Dir - Barry W. Blaustein

Had to see this because Sarah Silverman is quite wonderful and enjoyed what I saw. Not a comedy that will have you roaring with laughter but still quite funny and dark. Great cast and premise and never gets dull - but how can it with a runtime of 79 minutes?

That's One Way to Cut the Freshman 15

Scream 2 (1997)
Dir - Wes Craven

This has some pretty cheesy moments. Jerry O'Connell serenading Neve Campbell in the cafeteria? Jeez. I was embarrassed for both of them. This film isn't all bad, it has moments of good but it gets kind of boring. Love Laurie Metcalf and the theatre scene with the Danny Elfman music. I also think the sequel debate in film class is weird. Probably only because it reminds me and my friends and how dorky we are about movies.

Friday, April 15, 2011

What's Your Favorite Scary Movie?

Scream (1996)
Dir - Wes Craven

Had not watched this in quite some time, probably close to 10 years. The same with the two sequels but felt like watching them all before going to see part 4 soon.

This is a pretty good movie with some decent kills and scares. Don't absolutely love it, but really dig what it's doing. The turning of horror conventions is interesting and there are some some great characters. I love Courtney Cox with a passion and David Arquette is always a win for me. I even think Matthew Lillard's over-the-top performance is something of worth. He does deliver the two best lines in the whole movie - "I'll be right back," and "my mom and dad are going to be so made at me."

I can't give this film too much credit because it is, in part, responsible for a dark mark on the genre for the next few years. Because of the success of Scream so many other really bad teen slasher hit theaters and rental store shelves. Some were decent (I do kinda dig I Know What You Did Last Summer from what I remember) but most were complete shit. And that horrible, unimaginative box art! Argh! It haunts my dreams.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

A Tale for the Road

Road to Salina (1970)
Dir - Georges Lautner
Weird Wednesday

Times like these is when Weird Wednesday does its job. I probably never would have seen this movie but I'm glad I did. Great performances, a wonderful score and a lovely leading lady. Definitely will be watching this again in the future.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Beware the Sewers

Scared to Death (1981)
Dir - William Malone
Horror Movie Night

This film is kind of fun at times, but pretty slow. Cool looking creature but a weird ending.

Full thoughts will be on Gordon and the Whale next week!

I Wouldn't Try to Kiss Her

Hanna (2011)
Dir - Joe Wright

Really dug this. Young Saoirse Ronan is cute and deadly, and I wouldn't dare cross her. I know she's acting but I'm convinced she could still kick my ass quite severely. Not sure why so many electronic outfits are getting film scoring gigs these days (Reznor, Daft Punk) but The Chemical Brothers music is freaking crazy! I will be listening to this score many times in the future.

Now I kind of want to watch The Professional but, alas, I don't have it. :(

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


Baraka (1992)
Dir - Ron Fricke

Holy high resolution Batman! I heard good things about this doc and they were all true. An hour-and-a-half with no dialog but shots from all over the world in a style similar to the recently popular Planet Earth series and the like. The locations and people are fascinating but what is more impressive is the look. It will leave you breathless for sure! It was shot around 20 years ago on 65mm (projected on 70mm) and looked beautiful then but when they set out for the Blu-Ray transfer they did something very special. Each frame from the original 65mm negative was scanned at 8K (the highest possible resolution) which took about three weeks and 30 terabytes of storage - and that was before the HD conversion! This is the demo disc for your HD set-up and after renting I must now buy it so I can have this gorgeous film in my collection.


It's A Whole Different Beast

Let America Laugh (2003)
Dir - David Cross & Lance Bangs

This is not a stand-up DVD, though there is stand-up within. Mostly this is an hour an a half of what happens behind-the-scenes on one of David Cross' tours. Very funny at times and others so cringeworthy embarrassing that it's hard to watch. I play in a very small, local band and have to deal with odd, drunk people quite a bit but I can't imagine it on the scale he has to tolerate. There is a scripted wraparound story that is kind of hit or miss, but still worth your 90 minutes.

80s Vampire Sex Comedy

Vamp (1986)
Dir - Richard Wenk

Second time to see this, and second this year. This viewing is because I got the new Arrow Video Blu-Ray from the UK and had to give it a spin for a review. Great transfer!

Look for my review in a few days on Gordon and the Whale!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Funny Stuff, Innit?

Behind the Britcoms: From Script to Screen (2010)
Dir - Bill Young

This is something I had on the DVR from a few weeks ago when it debuted on PBS. It seems that the Dallas affiliate, KERA, took the reins to make this look at some of the classic British sitcoms, many of which I used to watch every Sunday night on channel 13. There are some interesting bits of info here and great clips from shows like Are You Being Served?, Vicar of Dibley, Keeping Up Appearances, Fawlty Towers and more. I would love to see a second installment where they cover more of the modern UK shows that have become such worldwide hits and see how the process has changed over the years and the effect of America's remake hungry practices.

Sunday, April 10, 2011


Inside Job (2010)
Dir - Charles Ferguson

Was interested to see this after it won Best Doc at the Oscars and it played out a lot like I figured. I learned a bit but kept finding myself getting distracted while watching. Mainly because bile was rising in my throat at the amount of money these crooks have and how nothing is being done. Sigh. Really enjoyed his interview segments but felt the very end wrap-up was a tad cheesy.

Boob Pie

Bloodthirsty Butchers (1970)
Dir - Andy Milligan
Weird Wednesday

This is my second Milligan film, both thanks to Lars and Weird Wednesday. I don't think this is my favorite of the two but he certainly has a style that I enjoy. For this low budget telling of Sweeny Todd he manages to get some pretty good actors and costuming. I've never seen any other telling of this story, nope not even Tim Burton's, so I don't really have anything for comparison.

Sadly, I realized that the DVD I was watching this on, released by Video Kart, is not uncut. Evidently it's missing all of the good gore and nudity. Sadness. Still it's an interesting film, I just hope to see the full version someday.

Oh, and check out the awesome and inexplicable Spanish poster for the film.

Show Me Your O-Face

Sex Sells: The Making of "Touche" (2005)
Dir - Jonathan Liebert

Found this on Netflix Instant and thought I'd give it a go. It's a mockumentary about making a porno with the largest orgy. My main interest came from having Priscilla Barnes (Three's Company) and Adrian Zmed (TJ Hooker, though I know him mostly from the wonderful Grease 2) in the cast. Zmed's character is Lance Long, a man with a 42-inch schlong. Now you know what we're dealing with. There are a couple of giggle worthy moments but it's mostly pretty lame. Not recommended.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Jamie Lee Down Under

Road Games (1981)
Dir - Richard Franklin

Wow, this movie is much different that what you would expect based on the above poster. Instead of being a super high action slasher it's more of a slow burn thriller with little onscreen violence. I can see the comparisons and influence of Hitchcock for sure and Stacy Keach does a wonderful job. I love all of Quid talking to himself/Boswell the dingo and how he runs into the same characters on the road throughout the film.

Stop the Violence

The Interrupters (2011)
Dir - Steve James

My last film of DIFF 2011. I'd be sadder but I'm so elated that I don't have to see the damn pre-show reel again that it's almost unbearable.

This is my first Steve James film. No, I've never seen Hoop Dreams. I don't care for sports so watching a documentary all about basketball never really sounded appealing. However, I will definitely be checking out more of his work after seeing this wonderful documentary. It runs around two-and-a-half hours but never gets boring. Very serious and heartbreaking, though there are a few moments of laughter which is good when you are surrounded by such sadness. These people in the Ceasefire program are doing a good thing and really putting their necks on the line to try and stop the violence in Chicago. A great tale that I hope millions get to see.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Crazy Irish Cowboy

The Legend of Hell's Gate: An American Conspiracy (2011)
Dir - Tanner Beard

Decided to check this out with Micah even though the screening was scheduled for 10p and I had to be up at 5a. Because of this, and an already present lack of sleep, I found it hard to focus on parts of this movie. Mostly due to the many story lines and not being sure what to follow more. In the end everything comes together and tells a pretty interesting story about a slaughter of some white man thieves by an indian tribe after they gave them "firewater" and got them trashed. This story is a bit small to encompass a full feature which is probably why they have so many other stories going at the same time. I was happy to see mention of the other legend that John Wilkes Booth fled to Grandbury, TX and lived there under an false identity. This is something I've heard about before but never seen it in a film.

An interesting film that fans of Texas history and/or westerns will surely enjoy.


Wuss (2011)
Dir - Clay Liford

I was a bit apprehensive about this after seeing Liford's last feature, Earthling, last year at DIFF. I didn't like it and was worried this would be another that would fall flat for me. Luckily it is not bad at all, but I didn't love it. Overall I feel pretty indifferent towards this. There are some very funny moments and a couple of really good performances but there are quite a few scenes that go on a bit too long and go nowhere. Most anytime the main character, Mitch, is with his friends or dealing with his physically/mentally abusive older sister. This probably won't get a wide release but if it ever comes to DVD it's worth a rent.

Mausoleum Madness

One Dark Night (1983)
Dir - Tom McLoughlin
Horror Movie Night

Another 80s "classic" that I had not seen. Overall it has a very disjointed and fairly slow first hour and ten minutes, but the last 20 kick all sorts of ass! Probably re-watch at some point. Love those floating corpses.

Look for a full review on Gordon and the Whale next Wednesday!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

German TV Be Crazy!

She Deserved It, aka Sie hat es verdient (2010)
Dir - Thomas Stiller

If Lifetime Movies in the US were more like this they would probably have a lot more viewers. This film dealing with bullying and inspired by some real life events. It never really pulls any punches and goes to dark, depressing places. Unfortunately it does share some of the problems with Lifetime Movies. I really wish more of the story would have been explored than they did. This film also jumps around out-of-order, but unlike in the previous film I watched, it's not really necessary here.

Even though there is a lot wrong with this I still really found it to be good. I'm not sure if I know how to explain why I liked it even with all of its flaws, but I did. Maybe you'll get a chance to see it someday.

I just know between this and Miike's Visitor Q the rest of the world has much better TV.

Psychos in Love

Apart (2011)
Dir - Aaron Rottinghaus

The joy of film festivals is going into something blind and being pleasantly surprised. This is an independent film from a first time feature director that was shot primarily in a smaller town outside of Houston. You couldn't really tell that the budget was limited because everything about this was so well made. Shot beautifully, wonderfully acted and a tight script. It's told in a disjointed, non-linear fashion (think Memento) that doesn't get confusing but adds a lot to the film's mystery. Hope this gets a wider release because I think a lot of people will really like what they see.

Oh, and gotta love that Joey Lauren Adams gets big billing when she's only in the film for about 5 minutes.

Not Your Typical Sci-Fi

By Day and By Night, aka De Dia y De Noche (2010)
Dir - Alejandro Molina

Saw this in the program and thought that I'd like to give a Mexican sci-fi film a shot. As it turns out, this is more of a drama set on the sci-fi backdrop of a future society. This film is very slow and quite boring at times but the ideas behind the film - all the way up to the ending - are quite good. I wish I liked this more. Maybe if it were a short it wouldn't be such a struggle.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

In the Nuthouse

The Ward (2010)
Dir - John Carpenter

I heard bad things about this from many people after seeing it at other festivals so I went in with low expectations. While I left not disliking the film I didn't really find anything remarkable about it either. The film is just kind of... there. A lot of slow bits and nothing really engaged me.


The Oregonian (2011)
Dir - Calvin Lee Reeder

This was the one midnight film, out of only three, that I knew nothing about. Turns out it's an experimental surreal flick about a woman lost in the woods. It's a little unsettling at times, due to the shaky camerawork and grating sounds, and even funny others. This is not the best surreal feature I've seen but it definitely has some good things to offer the viewer. Would probably have made a very interesting short.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Send in the Clowns

The Last Circus, aka Balada triste de trompeta (2010)
Dir - Álex de la Iglesia

Saw this at Fantastic Fest and it was one of my top five of the festival. I loved it even more after this viewing. Beautifully shot and it's a wonderfully crazy tale that I hope more people get to see very soon.

A full review will be up on Gordon and the Whale soon. 

Très Bien!

Potiche, aka Trophy Wife (2010)
Dir - François Ozon

I haven't seen all of Ozon's films but everything I have watched, I've liked. This is no exception. A very funny tale, adapted from a play, with strong performances all around. Music plays a rather large role with a couple of "musical numbers" and the score has an awesome sound to it as well. Very 70s.

Education is Key

Zero Percent (2010)
Dir - Tim Skousen

This doc follows a few of the inmates in Sing Sing maximum security prison as they try to earn a college degree. State funding has been stripped away from higher education to those incarcerated so a group, Hudson Link, works with Mercy College and private donations to help those behind bars better themselves so they are ready to become a more productive member of society upon release. Most long term prisoners will soon return to the big house within a couple years of parole but that has not been the case with the over 200 who have graduated from this program. Helping to broaden their minds is not a hopeless cause like some would believe but have given these men hope and a real shot at a second chance.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Elmo Loves You

Being Elmo: A Puppeteer's Journey (2011)
Dir - Constance Marks

LOVED this! I was never a huge Elmo fan, he a was a little after my Sesame Street time and I'm a diehard Grover fanatic, but this sheds a light on the man behind the muppet and Elmo's deserved role in the hearts of children the world over. Inspiring, touching, funny and heartwarming.

Is Print Media Dead?

Page One: A Year Inside The New York Times (2011)
Dir - Andrew Rossi

I'm not a newspaper subscriber, nor have I ever been, but I have read many a black and white over the years. Most of the time I read my news online but the fact that all of these print media outlets are going under is really sad. I do love tangible things - books, magazines, DVDs/Blus - so another experience going away reminds me how close we are to most all physical media disappearing. This film takes you into the newsroom and you see what The New York Times is doing right in this world of new media in order to stay relevant. There are sad times, good times and many laugh out loud moments. Times reporter David Carr is hysterical and I want more of him!

For Love or Money

Lucky (2010)
Dir - Gil Cates, Jr.

My first film of the Dallas International Film Festival (DIFF) 2011 and it was a good pick. This is darkly comic and supplies plenty of laughs. Great surprise to see Jeffery Tambor and I knew the lead girl, Ari Gaynor, looked familiar but I couldn't place it until after the film. She plays Olivia's (Anna Torv's) sister on the super awesome show Fringe! Had I realized this when I was standing next to her in the press room earlier I would have definitely said something and probably acted like a fool. Guess it's better I didn't know.

Friday, April 1, 2011

First Quarter Results

So the first quarter of 2011 is over and I thought I'd do a post about my watching habits for the year thus far. I feel my numbers are quite low, 26 films less than this time last year, but hopefully I'll make up for it soon. After all the Dallas International Film Festival starts today so I'll be seeing quite a few over the next week.

Here's the breakdown:

Total Films in 2011 So Far: 111
New/New-to-Me Films: 95
Re-Watches: 16

Most Watched Decade: 1980s with 39 Films
Most Watched Genre: Horror with 33 Films(no shock there)
Most Watched Format/Locaton: DVD with 30 Films
Number of Films in a Theater: 8 Films - This is pitiful! I need to get to movie theaters more.

Tengo Hambre

We Are What We Are, aka Somos lo que hay (2010)
Dir - Jorge Michel Grau

Missed this one at Fantastic Fest and luckily the Texas Theatre was showing it this week. Some of what I read about this film compared it Let the Right One In, saying that this does for cannibals what that did for vampires. I can see where they are going but it's not nearly as good as it's bloodsucker Swedish comrade. This Mexican film deals with what goes on in a poor family after the death of the father. Who should take over, the eldest boy or the mother? There is a power struggle and grief set against the backdrop that they are all cannibals. Where this falls short is because of some confusing struggles between the son and mother that existed long before his father's death, none of which is explored too deeply or explained. I'm all for leaving ambiguity, like with the whole human eating ritual thing, but it seemed too much was left unexplored.

I did love certain aspects of this film. Grau did a lot with his obviously tight budget and there is some great camerawork in certain scenes that brought a smile to my face. What really stands out is sound, in all forms. The sound design is fantastic in their project home that is filled with Doc Brown levels of clocks and the constant cacophony of ticking is mesmerizing. But special attention must be given to Enrico Chapela's lovely string heavy score. Even if I would normally leave a film before the end credits are complete, which I don't, I would have been unable to leave because the music was so damn good. To my dismay there is no soundtrack currently in release, as far as I can find, but I hope someday they release one because they will get my money for sure!