Saturday, May 12, 2012

137) Sleepless Night (2011)

137) Sleepless Night (2011) Dir: Frederic Jardin Date Released: May 11, 2012 Date Seen: May 9, 2012 Rating: 2/5

Didn't do much for me, alas. See my review for Capital New York (check back here later today, it'll be up by then, I promise).

136) Buffalo '66 (1998)

136) Buffalo '66 (1998) Dir: Vincent Gallo Date Released: June 26, 1998 Date Seen: May 6, 2012 Rating: 4.25/5

Way better than I had hoped (and I liked The Brown Bunny, too!). Check out my forthcoming appreciation of the film's dysfunctional, quasi-Jungian sense of humor...

Editor's Note: Here it is, up at the L Magazine.

135) Cabin in the Woods (2012)

135) Cabin in the Woods (2012) Dir: Drew Goddard Date Released: April 13, 2012 Date Seen: May 1, 2012 Rating: 3.25/5

I maintain that this slight but fun movie is not a serious critique of the horror genre and should not be treated as such. As I've argued arduously with a number of friends, the film soft-shoes its commentary on the generic tropes we've come to associate with horror movies. The Great White Board that everyone and their mother's seen by now mashes up all sorts of monsters for the sake of conflating a number of subtlely different subgenres into one great big formula-based narrative. Once the story goes off the rails and the characters start to buck against what we know is an unnatural form of meta-Body Snatching (ie: characters go against their character as we understand it for the sake of becoming more like token, stock types), the film really reveals its real raison d'etre: GIANT MONSTER MASH, RRR. We can blamelessly cheer on the death of all these monsters and the faceless soldiers that try to restore order at the end of Cabin in the Woods. It's only the protagonists' deaths that matter. Riiiiight.

Cabin in the Woods' blackly comic ending says a lot about how serious Drew Goddard and Joss Whedon are about implicating their film's viewers (I strongly disagree with the interpretation that the Gods are the viewers' surrogates; sorry, kids, but that's just a Lovecraft homage, nothing Haneke-y about it). A giant Monty Python-style demon hand squashes the world as we know it and all because a couple of survivors (Final People?). And it's a big relief when it finally happens. It's not a tragic ending, it's a bleakly funny one, as is evinced by how goofy-looking the hand that stomps the world out of existence looks. Don't cry for these cyphers, they were never that important anyway...

134) The Avengers (2012)

134) The Avengers (2012) Dir: Joss Whedon Date Released: May 4, 2012 Date Seen: April 30, 2012 Rating: 3/5

Wrote some about this'n, once about the martyrdom of Joss Whedon (for Press Play) and once about the movie in a more direct-like fashion (for Capital New York). Enjoy-eeeee.

Bad Idea Podcast #13: Live from Exhumed Fest 2012

130) The No Mercy Man (1973) Dir: Daniel Vance Date Released: January XX, 1973 Date Seen: April 29, 2012 Rating: 3/5

131) Fear is the Key (1973) Dir: Michael Tuchner Date Released: March 14, 1973 Date Seen: April 29, 2012 Rating: 3.75/5

RV!: The Man from Hong Kong (1975) Dir: Brian Trenchard-Smith Date Released: August XX, 1975 Date Seen: April 29, 2012 Rating: 2/5

132) Death Weekend (1976) Dir: William Fruet Date Released: March 4, 1977 Date Seen: April 29, 2012 Rating: 3/5

RV!: The Boss (1973) Dir: Fernando Di Leo Date Released: ??? Date Seen: April 29, 2012 Rating: 3.25/5

133) Vice Squad (1982) Dir: Gary Sherman Date Released: January 22, 1982 Date Seen: April 29, 2012 Rating: 4.25/5

RV!: Ilsa: She-Wolf of the SS (1975) Dir: Don Edmonds Date Released: October XX 1975 Date Seen: April 29, 2012 Rating: 2/5

Apparently, last month's Bad Idea Podcast has been delayed due to technical difficulties. But never fear, here's a taste of what Steve and I and our special guest Matt Prigge talked about. Watch this space for more info as it becomes available.

Friday, May 11, 2012

129) Dark Shadows (2012)

129) Dark Shadows (2012) Dir: Tim Burton Date Released: May 11, 2012 Date Seen: April 26, 2012 Rating: 3/5 

Now that the embargo has been lifted, I can link to mah stuffs: two interviews for Vulture, one with Jonny Lee Miller and one with Jackie Earle Haley, and one review for the Nashville Scene.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

128) The Pirates! Band of Misfits (2012)

128) The Pirates! Band of Misfits (2012) Dir: Peter Lord and Jeff Newitt Date Released: April 27, 2012 Date Seen: April 25, 2012 Rating: 3.75/5

Fun! And smart! And not showy at all! I like! See my review for Capital New York.

127) Ninja Assassin (2009)

127) Ninja Assassin (2009) Dir: James McTeigue Date Released: November 25, 2009 Date Seen: April 24, 2012 Rating: 1.75/5

Ridiculous. Of course I wrote about it for Press Play. Because, well, why not?

128) Strange Fruit: The Beatles' Apple Records (2012)

128) Strange Fruit: The Beatles' Apple Records (2012) Dir: Chrome Dreams (?!?!) Date Released (DTV):  April 24, 2012 Date Seen: April 23, 2012 Rating: 3.75/5

Exhaustive, informative and generally pretty interesting portrait of Apple Records, the Beatles' failed Utopian record and film distribution label. See my Movieline piece on this surprisingly strong doc. 

127) Sound of My Voice (2011)

127) Sound of My Voice (2011) Dir: Zal Batmanglij Date Released: April 27, 2012 Date Seen: April 22, 2012 Rating: 2.5/5

Pretty underwhelming dramatic thriller that is often bogged down by narrative contrivance to ever really take me anywhere new or earn any of its speculative heft. Generally speaking, this was just too slight and vague to ever take off. I didn't engage with the characters and their world beyond a point and that's mainly because of the film's skimpy script. Atmospheric at times, certainly. But so what?

126) Detention (2011)

126) Detention (2011) Dir: Joseph Kahn Date Released: April 13, 2012 Date Seen: April 22, 2012 Rating: 4.25/5

I fucking adored this film. Its brazen post-post-modern attitude is equal parts Gregg Araki and Richard Kelly and its sense of humor is just too irresistibly punky and nerdy for me not to love it. I also can intensely relate to the film's basic concern, namely the notion that our collective sense of misappropriated nostalgia has gotten so out of control that we now conflate signifiers from the '80s with the '90s with the '00s to the point where everything's insanely fucked. You make a movie that embraces that chaos and has fun with the idea that our pop culture present is a weird hybrid period of blank pastiche, and you do it with as much style and humor as Joseph Kahn did? Yeah, you're pretty much guaranteed a spot on my top 10 films of the year list. 


RV!: Mission to Mars (2000)

RV!: Mission to Mars (2000) Dir: Brian De Palma Date Released: March 10, 2000 Date Seen: April 21, 2012 Rating: 3.5/5

I'm surprised that much of this film's hard science fiction narrative falls as flat as it does. De Palma just doesn't really find a toehold into this film's narrative until the weird search-for-god-on-Mars plot kicks in. Mission to Mars strikes me as a weirdly literal adaptation of an Arthur C. Clarke story: very hard sf spine with a healthy amount of mysticism and theological speculation thrown in too. It doesn't totally work as it was adapted here. But I still dig it. Probably not as much as I did when I was rewatching it. But still, ooh, pretty.

125) Simon: King of the Witches (1971)

125) Simon: King of the Witches (1971) Dir: Bruce Kessler Date Released: April XX 1971 Date Seen: April 19, 2012 Rating: 3.25/5

This gritty little whatsit is actually more interestingly peculiar than it is, y'know, cohesive or flat-out good. But I kinda like that this is basically a feature-length "What If" comic book story as written by a guy that clearly doesn't know what a comic book is. The narrative goes something like this: What if Dr. Strange was a homeless guy and nobody believed he had magic powers, not even him (sometimes)? It's a really bizarre fantasy film, one whose tone is mostly just confounding. But the dialogue is often pretty snappy and the characters are never uninteresting. Glad that my buddy Steve Carlson hipped me to this one. I don't really know what to do with it but that's ok.