Author Topic: Random Reviews  (Read 190191 times)

random axe

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Random Reviews
« on: December 30, 2009, 11:44:15 AM »
Kinda felt like I've been unfairly drowning the general film & TV thread with my constant movie reviews, especially since a lot of these may be movies no one else ever sees.


Saw Ils, aka Them, a French horror film from 2006.  The film is apparently loosely based on a true story, which, if you accept it, makes an excuse for the somewhat weak ending.  A young couple (she's French, anyway; he might be Romanian) are living in a huge rented house in Romania.  One night, they're plagued by horrible unknown assailants with unknown motives.  It doesn't work out well.

This concept has been done a zillion times, with the slider moving from Suspense to Action, and this one has a fair bit of both.  The characters don't do the smartest things they could to protect themselves, etc, but they're not complete failures.  Still, I think you'll be mad at them a lot.  The acting is better than average, and, although some of the camera is shaky, it's mostly a good-looking film.  And short (about 75 minutes).

I still found it unsatisfying.  It's the kind of movie where you want to see all the villains get killed nastily, and you're still wanting to hurt people when the movie's over.

random axe

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Re: Random Reviews
« Reply #1 on: December 30, 2009, 11:55:33 AM »
Also saw Korei, aka Seance, a 2000 made-for-TV Japanese horror film by the artful director Kiyoshi Kurosawa and based loosely on the 60s British film Seance on a Wet Afternoon (or at least based on the same novel).

In a nutshell, a Japanese couple who are unhappy in life but don't know how to make things better have a very strange opportunity thrown into their laps.  They make a bad decision, and things go from bad to very very bad.  The film doesn't really emphasize enough, especially at first, why they make this bad decision, or the impulsiveness of it, if you ask me, and how the initial situation develops has a large logic hole or two.

The essential theme seems to be that life tends to be unhappy -- until you make a mistake, and then you're screwed and probably deserve it.  The husband seems to feel that it's better to take the wheel even if it means the fate you choose is pure doom.  I'm not sure the film backs him up on this.  His wife is a psychic who sees ghosts whether she wants to or not, and it's never done her much good.

The cinematography is beautiful, and the scenes with ghosts are often quite effective.  The actors are great, conveying the hollow hopelessness of their lives with hardly a word.  But this story is just never going to be my cup of tea.  To the extent that I agree with the film's theme, it's just depressing, and I don't even usually like comedies where the main characters just get themselves into trouble.

pdrake

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Re: Random Reviews
« Reply #2 on: December 30, 2009, 03:52:16 PM »
i've seen alot of them. i've also seen a few new ones based on your advice.
you'd be surprised how much a nutsack can stretch. you have to stretch it yourself, not a woman. they don't do it quite right.

pdrake

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Re: Random Reviews
« Reply #3 on: December 30, 2009, 04:11:41 PM »
is the strangers a remake of ils?
you'd be surprised how much a nutsack can stretch. you have to stretch it yourself, not a woman. they don't do it quite right.

Encino Man

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Re: Random Reviews
« Reply #4 on: December 30, 2009, 07:05:50 PM »
Saw Sherlock Holmes today in the theatre. It was quite good. The ending was a little macabre if you can recall who Roberto Calvi is/was.

Dr. Leonard HmofCoy

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Re: Random Reviews
« Reply #5 on: December 30, 2009, 07:12:23 PM »
The banker? Vatican, Banco Ambrosiano scandal? Yikes.
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random axe

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Re: Random Reviews
« Reply #6 on: December 30, 2009, 08:41:04 PM »
Quote
is the strangers a remake of ils?

There were a lot of complaints on the internets about who ripped what off and who was better and yar yar yar, but I really don't think so.  In any case, the basic concept goes way way the hell back.  Probably the most prominent was a late 70s / early 80s (I think) European (Swedish?) film I can't remember the name of in which, yeah, some folks at a lakeside vacation house get horribly abused by some creepy young people who seem to just happen by. 

That one was a trendsetter, but even it wasn't the first incarnation of the story.  Heck, even Deliverance is in much the same vein.  There are different flavors, the fear of strangers / foreigners / foreign places, and the fear of the invasion of one's home, and so on, but the basic concept is someone who's out to get you for no apparent reason.  I mean, in The Hills Have Eyes or Texas Chainsaw Massacre, the film goes out of its way to emphasize that the villains are intensely abnormal people.  Not just murderers, but mutant freakjobs.  When you make the villains more normal, you reduce some of the easy shock value but create a different kind of nightmare.

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Re: Random Reviews
« Reply #7 on: December 30, 2009, 09:00:36 PM »
Suggestion:   for your reviews you should give a number of axes pertaining to your rating of the movie.   We had two comedians here who would watch bad movies and review them for a radio morning show.  And they'd rate them with kicks to the nuts, basically saying that they'd rather get x many kicks to the nuts before they'd see that again.
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pdrake

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Re: Random Reviews
« Reply #8 on: December 30, 2009, 09:11:44 PM »
was it last house on the left?
you'd be surprised how much a nutsack can stretch. you have to stretch it yourself, not a woman. they don't do it quite right.

random axe

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Re: Random Reviews
« Reply #9 on: December 30, 2009, 11:16:42 PM »
Even for movies I really hate, I don't think I'd rather get hit with an axe than see that movie again.  I got hit with a hatchet once, and that was pretty bad.  Wait, I also hit myself in the knee with an axe once.  Oh, and in the shin, another time.  Yeah, I'd probably rather watch the movie again . . . .


Last House on the Left wasn't the one I was thinking of, but it was actually based on a Swedish horror / drama film, in fact:  The Virgin Spring, which, in fact (!), was directed by Ingmar Berman and stars Max von Sydow.  Um . . . IMDb says it's from 1960.  The plot is similar:  A couple sends their young teenaged daughter on an errand, and she's brutally raped by a gang of locals.  Later, the locals unwittingly wind up staying at the parents' house, and you can guess how that turns out.

I've actually never seen The Virgin Spring (it's famous among horror film geeks, is the only reason I'm familiar with it), but it's in my Netflix queue.

random axe

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Re: Random Reviews
« Reply #10 on: December 31, 2009, 08:41:52 PM »
Man With The Screaming Brain -- This Bruce Campbell production of a Bruce Campbell picture, starring Bruce Campbell . . . looks like they had fun making it.  It's an attempt to make a very 'B' schlock SF/horror film, mostly a mild one that could easily be cut for a Saturday afternoon on USA.  It doesn't have a lot of suspense in it, though, or a lot of action, or really a lot of humor.  It's not terrible, but it's a long way from great.

Basically, watch this movie to see Bruce.  Ted Raimi mugs up a storm, and Stacy Keach has fun playing a sort of mild-mannered mad scientist.  Also, it takes place in Bulgaria and was filmed on location, although I don't think any of the characters are, in fact, Bulgarian -- there are three Russians, two Americans, and a gypsy among the major players.  There's a recurring minor character named Uri who might be Bulgarian.  He only speaks English, but this isn't a subtitles kinda movie.

I enjoyed about half of it, and I feel glad that I saw it, and the other half was just sort of dull, not unpleasant.  I'd say it definitely wasn't as good as My Name Is Bruce, except that I really hated the fanboy character in that one, so in the end I'm just not sure.  Most serious Bruce fans seem to have liked it a lot more than I did, for what it's worth.  Frankly, I'd watch Bruce in Scooby-Doo 3: What The Hell Are We Thinking?, myself.

Hedaira

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Re: Random Reviews
« Reply #11 on: December 31, 2009, 09:35:46 PM »
Rate them as ___ Boot To The Head
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random axe

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Re: Random Reviews
« Reply #12 on: December 31, 2009, 11:52:14 PM »
OK . . . I just finished watching this movie called The Signal, and I'm glad I finished it before midnight because it was -- seriously -- one of the best movies I saw this past year.  And I saw it on a total whim after just happening across it at Netflix.

The Signal is a horror film that's kind of like what Stephen King's Cell might've been if Steve-o hadn't punted it. 

(I feel for ya, Steve.  Your writing suggests a certain frustration, like you've got a lot of stories you want to write and not enough time, and I feel like a lot of your later novels should've been short stories or novellae, but the editors and agents said, no, make 'em books, and it's so easy for you to spin them out to 200k words even if it means diluting them to the point of homeopathic snake oil.  But, still, much love.)

Basically, a weird signal invades TVs, phones, etc, and makes people, well, crazy.  Not always the exact same kind of crazy, but mostly they wind up thinking it's a good idea to start killing each other, and often their perceptions get a tad confused.

The movie's made by three guys I never heard of, and I when I say "made by", I mean they wrote it, directed it, shot it, and edited it.  And they did an amazing job in each case, which, by my count, is twelve chances to screw up, with zero screw-ups.  The film's divided into three segments, and they each get one; the stories overlap in a way that could have been gimmicky but instead works brilliantly.  The script is consistently pretty damned brilliant, smart and sharp and with great dialogue.  The cast is pretty damned amazing, too, although I never heard of any of them before, either.  I think the second segment was my favorite.  The first is tense, grim, and gruesome, as is the third, while the second is tense, hilarious and gruesome.  I can't remember the last time I laughed so much at things that were so wrong, and keep in mind that, yeah, I spend a lot of time on the internet.

Now, this film is as graphically violent as, say, Saw or Hostel, although not as frequently as Hostel, but although gruesome is its mode, it's not its purpose.  The characters and story are great.  The theme's aren't bad, either, but I'm more in it for the characters and story, which are 28 Days Later good or better.  And I was routinely amazed by how ingeniously and incredibly successfully the film deals with the problems of a tiny budget.

If you don't mind violent horror movies and can deal with a film that sometimes adopts the perspective of people who have lost their perspective (it's sometimes confusing but always resolves itself), then I'd seriously recommend this movie.  And if a studio like Lions Gate, or something, had a chance to distribute this and passed on it, then they deserve to go out of business immediately.

Seriously, I liked this movie.  Oh, it opens with a brief shaky-camera teaser, but be assured that that doesn't last.

Yeah, :thumbsup:.

random axe

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Re: Random Reviews
« Reply #13 on: January 02, 2010, 11:48:55 AM »
Last night I saw Mirage (1965), directed by big-shot director Edward Dmytryk and starring Gregory Peck, Diane :knotty: Baker, Walter Matthau, and George Kennedy.  Overall, I liked it, but it was more interesting than anything else.

The basic plot:  Peck plays a man who has a number of strange experiences and slowly realizes that (A) he's lost about two years from his memory, and (B) he's mixed up in some kind of conspiracy or plot that he (now) knows nothing about.  Matthau plays a private eye that Peck hires, and the rest of the major cast play mysterious people that Peck obviously used to know.

Matthau and Kennedy are really good in this, and it would be weird / interesting to see it back to back with Charade.  I usually think of Kennedy from his later roles (like the police captain in the Naked Gun films), and it's always strange seeing him play a heavy, but he was really good at it.  Peck is curiously wooden in some scenes and yet amazingly emotive in others -- usually he's best in the scenes that seem like they'd be the most difficult, especially some tricky bits at the end.  Baker is good in a role that borders on 'thankless' -- she just doesn't have much to do for most of the film.

The actual secret of the conspiracy is OK and was probably more shocking in 1965.  The secret of Peck's amnesia is one of those things you think is going to be an anticlimax, but actually it works astonishingly well.  The majority of the film is quite well-written, with clever touches (and a good Why Don't They Just climax) and better than average characters.  It was based on a novel by Howard Fast, who also wrote Spartacus.  Fast and Dmytryk were both tripped up by the Red Scare, which is another interesting point for people who follow that sort of thing.

The first third to half of the film has an intriguing X Files quality to it, and it's commendable how Peck's character deals with something that's too bizarre for him to immediately believe, too strange to be easy to approach, and endlessly awkward.  The rest of the film is all suspense and action.  The action scenes are often oddly filmed -- not badly, but unevenly; Dmytryk generally wants to suggest violence rather than show it directly, but he picks his moments.  For instance, there's a scene where Peck loses his temper completely and goes fairly nuts which wouldn't be so striking if the earlier violence hadn't been shaded from the viewer.

Anyway, I liked it, and I think it's unnecessarily obscure.  It was remade just three years later as Jigsaw, with a less stellar cast and added drug references, but I haven't seen that one.  Watching it made me want to see a bunch of other Peck films.  Not to mention Diane Baker.

mo

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Re: Random Reviews
« Reply #14 on: January 02, 2010, 02:18:56 PM »
I think I've seen this one a really long time ago. He's in a skyscraper when the power goes out, and then he goes down the stairwell? There's some kind of flashback thing about a golf course? That's about all I remember about it, other than it being a good movie. I used to think it was Hitchcock.
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