31 March 2008

OLR: Blade (1998)

Ten years later, the flaws in plotting, choreography and SFX stand out more, but Snipes still kicks some ass. (7/10)

d. Stephen Norrington

30 March 2008

OLR: Die Hard 2 (1990)

Somehow -- maybe because of the villains, maybe because of the director's sensibility -- more mean-spirited than its predecessor. (7/10).

d. Renny Harlin

OLR: Die Hard (1988)

Greatest American action movie ever made? (9/10)

d. John McTiernan

28 March 2008

OLR: My Bloody Valentine (1981)

Given the censored kills and complete lack of nakedness, I suppose the only reason I like this '80s slasher so much is the setting and characters (Hollis, why did you have to die, man?). (7/10)

d. George Mihalka

OLR: The Little Shop of Horrors (1960)

Maybe not trying to be serious is the key to Corman actually making a good movie? (8/10)

d. Roger Corman

Guest OLR: Southland Tales (2006)

Mulholland Dr.'s main competition for title of Ultimate Stream of Consciousness Film That Really, Really Should Have Been a Television Show. (6/10)

d. Richard Kelly

27 March 2008

OLR: Sleepaway Camp III: Teenage Wasteland (1989)

Killing off the lecherous Michael J. Pollard so early in the movie was a huge mistake. (5/10)

d. Michael A. Simpson

OLR: Sleepaway Camp II: Unhappy Campers (1988)

It starting to get a bit boring once all of the girls who refused to wear shirts were killed off. (6/10)

d. Michael A. Simpson

26 March 2008

OLR: Sleepaway Camp (1983)

Gotta be the best freeze-frame ending ever. (7/10)

d. Robert Hiltzik

25 March 2008

OLR: Salò o le 120 giornate di Sodoma (1975)

I'm already aware that fascism is evil, so I didn't really need the 112 minutes of shit-eating as a lesson on that subject. (4/10)

d. Pier Paolo Pasolini

24 March 2008

OLR: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003)

Disrespectful of the brilliant original, completely lacking any style of its own, responsible for jump-starting both the horror remake and torture porn cycle were currently mired in: all sins I cannot forgive. (3/10)

d. Marcus Nispel

[grist for Google: creatively bankrupt]

OLR: Thriller: A Cruel Picture (1974)

Though the super-slo-mo shots of bad guys getting sprayed with pink water / shotgun blasts were beautiful in their own way, they were not the hardcore revenge I was hoping the climax of the film would serve. (6/10)

d. Bo Arne Vibenius

OLR: Graveyard Shift (1990)

I dig the blue collar characters, the filthy setting, the subbasements under subbasements and, naturally, Brad Dourif as the exterminator. (7/10)

d. Ralph S. Singleton

23 March 2008

OLR: Velocity (1960/1999)

I'm kind of used to watching these "'60s teens gone wild" movies with wise-cracking robots at the bottom of the screen; the modern day wraparound scenes with impossibly untalented and unlikable actors were a poor substitute. (4/10)

d. Harvey Berman & David Wolfe

22 March 2008

OLR: Dementia 13 (1963)

Coppola masters the art of the boom shadow in this average AIP/Corman thriller. (5/10)

d. Francis Ford Coppola

OLR: Club Dread (2004)

While it's interesting to see a horror-comedy that isn't Scream-eque or Scary Movie-ish -- and Bill Paxton rules -- it's just not as fun of a film as you'd hope. (6/10)

d. Jay Chandrasekhar

21 March 2008

OLR: Puddle Cruiser (1996)

Nostalgia for college days was enough to sustain me through the frequent not-funny bits. (6/10)

d. Jay Chandrasekhar

18 March 2008

OLR: Cinematic Titanic: "The Oozing Skull" (2007)

Easily as funny as a strong MST3K episode; I'm greatly looking forward to more of these. (8/10)

d. Al Adamson & Sharp-Ford

[Joel: good to have you back, buddy!]

16 March 2008

OLR: Edmond (2005)

Falling Down meets American Beauty, but with 100% more David Mamet yapping. (6/10)

d. Stuart Gordon

OLR: This is the Zodiac Speaking. (2007)

A thorough, no-nonsense, interview-based documentary covering all four of the murders (Attn Prior: please pillarbox 4:3 material in your future documentaries. Warping a 4:3 picture to fit a 16:9 frame is annoying). (7/10)

d. David Prior

OLR: Zodiac (2007)

I'm not a fan of "based on a true story" docu-dramas (I'd prefer a documentary to a fake version of what might've happened), though I'll say I was engaged with the film during the entire 162 minute director's cut and I always dig scenes set in '70s newsrooms. (8/10)

d. David Fincher

14 March 2008

OLR: Eastern Promises (2007)

Though I enjoyed the performances and the cronenbergian character moments, there wasn't nearly as much depth in this film in comparison to recent Cronenberg efforts. (8/10)

d. David Cronenberg

12 March 2008

OLR: No Country for Old Men (2007)

Brilliantly realized characters interacting with each other, sometimes without ever meeting, in a genre-bending, psychologically true-to-life examination of violence, changing times and obsessions. (9/10)

d. Joel Coen & Ethan Coen

09 March 2008

OLR: Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End (2007)

Too much story to tie up made large parts pretty dull, but a sea battle while circling a maelstrom almost makes up for that. (7/10)

d. Gore Verbinski

OLR: Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest (2006)

Packed to the gills with action, overflowing with lovecraftian horrors rendered in beautiful detail, and filled with all the classic sea story gags (a knife-slowed decent down a sail, a woman disguised as a boy to stowaway, a tentacled sea monster eating ships). (8/10)

d. Gore Verbinski

OLR: Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003)

Ghost pirates and Johnny Depp hamming it up are all good fun, though the movie never gets up to full tilt for me. (7/10)

d. Gore Verbinski

[the first Blu-ray I've watched. woo, farewell to compression artifacts.]

06 March 2008

Guest OLR: Little Children (2006)

It was like being slowly murdered. (9/10)

d. Todd Field

03 March 2008

OLR: Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film for Theaters (2007)

I don't know if I'm getting old, or I just can't get into the proper frame of mind lately, or if Dave & Matt are getting lazy, but I can't even muster a weak chuckle at most of the recent ATHF output (though "Hand Banana" always cracks me up). (6/10)

d. Matt Maiellaro & Dave Willis

Guest: Bond, James Bond (closing thoughts)

So. I’ve decided that I like owning all of the Bond films. I get bragging rights, the information contained within feels like Miniature Film School, and even though I purchased the four volumes just after this neat-looking thing came out, I really like having them on my shelf, sandwiching the two Evil Dead Necronomicons with the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

I’m going through all of my reviews right now, in order to keep the byline consistent, and besides a bunch of typos, I’m noticing that this marathon turned me into a dick. I’m so angry. And it’s true, I give films a lot less leeway now. There’s shit I can no longer abide. For instance, I watched Garage Days recently and that film used to make me laugh a whole lot more. Now it seems… kinda lame. It’s saddening.

But back to Bond.

What I learned: formulating opinions is hard! I don’t know how critics do it. Sitting through film after film is one thing, but writing a clear article expressing an open-ended opinion is something quite different, and I for one am not clever enough to think of title-puns (ex. “Matchstick Men Flickers Faintly but Fails to Ignite,” or “Michael Clayton Should Be Disbarred for the Third Act”). Srsly.

I actually finished a long time ago. The lag came from ‘Oh Jesus I have to write something about it. Octopussy, hmmmm, it was so bland that I forget how I felt about it, what the hell?’

It got pretty grueling somewhere in the middle, not so much the movies but the special features. I had to watch Die Another Day a total of four times in a row, the fourth because I wasn’t aware of the trivia track option until I already watched the film with the commentary tracks; torture (blah blah edge of madness) for any 00 agent. And then I had to decipher my stupid notes and write down my stupid thoughts. I have a greater respect for the profession, and of course for ‘rex who also expressed this feeling during that whole MST3K thingy.

There is a fine line between criticism and bitching, and I still haven’t learned where it is drawn.

DVD Special Features:

After putting a disc in and watching the well-done trailer for the Bond Collectors Set, you’ll notice the cool menu designs. Well, design, they remain the same on each disc (except for Casino Royale). Every feature is nicely organized into different submenus that get their own blip of music from each specific film.

This bit of care actually got me a little excited after finishing the films and the commentary tracks, even though I was getting into what was basically information I could read on the IMDB trivia pages. There are some bits of gold in there, like this one thing in Live and Let Die's second disc showing Roger Moore playing Bond in a short SNL style skit, back when Connery had the official role. It’s hysterical.

Included on all second discs are “cliff notes” for Bond films, in the Mission Control submenu, illustrating best-of clips from each of the films. I hate Mission Control. Maybe if they had collected clips from all of the Bond films as a sort of illustrative montage, but no, “Here are scenes from the film you just watched three times.” Way to pad the DVD, fuckles.

Not that it matters, but You Only Live Twice’s photo gallery presentation is awful, matching the quality of the film, shrinking the images onto a badly designed sci-fi frame. YAY?

Where it starts to get a little weird is towards the end, at Die Another Day. The design remains consistent, but submenus are missing, which leads me to believe that none have been specially made for this set, but taken from the initial 2-Disc DVD release. That’s okay, I don’t need to hear the filmmakers endlessly convincing themselves and everyone around them that the hang-gliding sequence looks realistic. Because it doesn’t.

I’m disappointed that Casino Royale has no commentary track. I really wanted to hear what Martin Campbell had to say about this one. Though he remains largely quiet during GoldenEye’s track; his personality reminds me of David Fincher -- someone who doesn’t really like talking about why he does what he does, so unless somebody else is in the room with him and drawing him out of his shell, you ain’t gonna hear much outside of “I like how this part came out.”

Scene-It: James Bond 007 Edition: Mini-Mission

More like Extremely Mini-Mission. There are twenty sample questions from the full game, not enough to validate all of this time and effort, if I had needed it. I did get three wrong, however. The difficulty ranges from ‘that’s so easy’ to ‘how the fuck do they expect me to remember that bitch’s name?’ Yes, I know they’re all puns. And I hate them.

Cold Movie Stats:

Bond skis: 5 times (6 if you count the cello)
Bond shot out of a torpedo bay: 2 times
Bond invents snowboarding: 1 time
Endings over water: 10
Deadly fish usage: 7

The Next Film: Quantum (?) of Solace (??):

I like Marc Forster. His style seems to fit well with whatever film he does. The action genre is new for him, so this will be interesting to see. My biggest worry comes from Daniel Craig stating in an early interview that the film would be returning to the ‘tongue-and-cheek’ style of the Roger Moore era stuff. God. GOD. Why do they do this? Why do they refuse to keep with the serious style? That phrase now strikes fear in my heart. I want my genitals to be tied into bows and pulverized with a knotted rope, not lightly smacked with a carpet beater while being asked if it’s being done too hard. Man. Man.

Going with the pattern, the film will:
1) Not be as good as the previous entry
2) Possess the distinct possibility of being awkwardly shot and clashing with the Bond style set by the previous entry

If Craig sticks around for a third or more:
3) The third entry will be an improvement over the second, either a vast one or a miniscule one
4) tricks and rehashes will be pulled and used to nobody’s chagrin
5) diamond smuggling will be introduced OR Bond will go to Asia, thus ruining the spread
6) Craig will stick around one too many and live to regret it.

After that, the franchise will be reinvented once more for the new generation. By that time, they had better hope that Martin Campbell hasn’t been tossed into a smoke stack from a helicopter.

While plenty of people do it better, the Bond Series is a good franchise for its rare moments of brilliance. I guess.

Now when is Felix Leiter going to get his own?