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Showing posts from 2007

waking into a dream journal 12.30.07

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the graveyard
director: michael feifer // 2006
cinema 4 rating: 3

not that i was really looking forward to watching the ed gein video starring kane hodder, but nothing is better at lessening that apparent lack of optimism even more than having to endure this earlier attempt by that film's director -- since he was the producer on this thing too, perhaps michael feifer spent most of his time rounding up funds to make it, and didn't worry about spending one second on making the damn thing make sense -- the reason he didn't worry was because he had the writer of mansquito scripting it -- whew! what a relief, knowing your project is in the right hands -- there are an infinite amount of ways that a plot could come back around to make some small amount of sense, and this film misses them all -- there has to be some sort of award for that... or a guinness book entry -- despite the obvious deathgrip on the standard cliches of this sort of slasher nonsense, it seems there has been a sm…

waking into a dream journal 12.27.07

Haïti: la fin des chimères?... [Haiti: The Last of the Chimeres]
Director: Charles Najman // French-Haitian, 2004
Cinema 4 Rating: 7

honestly, i hardly ever think about haiti except in terms of zombies... or anytime i run across news items pertaining to its history and tragedy -- then i perk up, almost as if its history were a pocket (you know that second little pocket inside the right-hand pocket of men's pants that i assume is for change, but have never understood why it would be on the right side, since i am a leftie?) hobby of mine, and i listen intently in the manner in which i should have listened in school -- let's not mince words, this film is definitely, despite the occasional "no, no, no, you've got it all wrong" voice from his side of the government, not a pro-aristide piece -- and it shouldn't, given that all who emerge with that sort of power, even a priest... especially a priest... are doomed to do great evil -- "power tends to corrupt; absolu…

Cinema 4 Cel Bloc: Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

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Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
Director: Max Fleischer // Jam Handy Organization, 1948
Cinema 4 Rating: 5

It's not Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer's fault that he isn't Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.

Well, what I mean is it's not this innocent Max Fleischer-directed animated short from 1948's fault that it isn't the stop-motion television special created by Rankin-Bass in 1964. Barring the occasional heckling from someone who is just sooo post-post-post-post-everything they have to take such universally beloved things to the wall, that special is justifiably considered to be a Christmas classic. I include myself amongst that group, and I would be lying if I said that simple and ridiculous special wasn't one of the most formative ingredients in the way that I have approached all art and entertainment since I first laid eyes upon it.

And yet, fun as the stop-motion version is, it's really a dramatic expansion (and often outright reconfiguration) of the origina…

The Shark Film Office: The Adventures of Ford Fairlane (1990)

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The Adventures of Ford Fairlane
Director: Renny Harlin
Cinema 4 Rating: 4
Appearance: Dialogue & cameo (deceased and BBQed)

What smells worse than the scent of overly charred shark meat, roasted to disgusting effect on a spit? Possibly only the script to this flop attempt to launch Andrew Dice Clay as a major motion picture leading man. Truthfully, I kind of like Clay on film, even if I have never been even the slightest fan of his stand-up act. I thought he was the funniest thing in the Lea Thompson-Victoria Jackson misfire Casual Sex?, which isn't the boldest statement given its general shoddiness, but it's the truth. Looking back on the supposed shock of his Saturday Night Live appearance the year this film came out, it's hard to see what all the hubbub was about, Bub.

Given a legitimately R-rated platform to sell his largely misogynistic and sophomoric material, Clay ends up slapping out a truer approximation of his cartoonish, buffoonish character (which, being a guy,…

Psychotronic Ketchup: You've Gotta Start Somewhere

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Five Guns West
Director: Roger Corman // 1955
Cinema 4 Rating: 5

Warning: following the definition, there is nothing remotely "psychotronic" about Five Guns West, in what can be charitably described as a rote Western genre offering from 1955. There aren't any monsters or bikers or vampires or strippers or drug fiends or men in gorilla suits or superspies engaging in martial arts about the sets. The only real genre twist to the film is in having the middle-aged leader of a group of villainous rebel soldiers (John Lund) emerge as the reluctant hero though eager love interest, while the actor who would normally fulfill the hero's role (Mike "Touch" "Mannix" Connors) is a creepy and caddish horndog throughout the film.

But in Psychotronic Guide author Michael Weldon's view, certain actors and directors (Vincent Price, Christopher Lee, Boris Karloff) are considered thoroughly "psychotronic" throughout their resumes. This short list of the all…

waking into a dream journal 12.22.07

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this morning's reason to roundhouse-kick chuck norris in the face
silent rage
director: seriously, do i have to give someone credit? // 1982
cinema 4 rating: 3

the year this came out, i was a full-fledged chuck norris addict -- good guys wear black, the octagon, a force of one and an eye for an eye: watched 'em all over and over in my life's initial bout with video madness -- let's not forget return of the dragon against bruce lee, where i first saw him fight, and the multiple showings of breaker, breaker i willingly chose to endure on cable -- this one, though, was the first chuckie film i saw in a theater -- even in those less critical days, i wanted my money back -- the producers apparently wished to splice together a regular norris flying fists epic with halloween, basically pitting the mustachioed one against a michael myers-type serial killer, then in vogue in movie theaters -- they try to achieve this by having two ambitious cretins at a small-town hospital franke…

waking into a dream journal 12.21.07

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this morning's deborah foreman resurgence?
zombie honeymoon
director: david gebroe // 2004
cinema 4 rating: 6

ach! i've fallen for another man's wife! -- i was dreading watching this romantic horror flick just from its none-too-inventive title alone, but then i saw tracy coogan -- ah! i watched her rush down the church steps to speed off with her newly acquired human baggage, and i knew immediately i would be seeing this one through, no matter the consequences, no matter the quality -- maybe it was the dress, maybe it was the joy and innocence in her face as she bends across the car to mischievously play at fellating her new husband on their way to their honeymoon destination -- whatever it was, there was something in her manner that has been sorely lacking in b-movies since deborah foreman got all adult on us -- so much is made about video vixens and queens of the "b" movies, all over-sized breasts and bottoms and whorish attitude (and i have absolutely no problem w…

waking into a dream journal 12.18.07

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this morning's urge to ask "who the fuck yelled 'encore!'?"
jolson sings again
director: henry levin // 1949
cinema 4 rating: 5

is this an early example of metafilm? -- basically, we see jolson lingering for the first half of this film in almost self-imposed obscurity, to the point where audiences (for the most part) have forgotten him -- he toils through the war performing to young american troops that no longer recognize his name, and he starts a new marriage that seems likely as doomed as the first, thanks to his depressive state -- where is all this heading? well, it's hollywood, and they love a winner -- since this film comes just three years after the jolson story, which was a monstrous hit, and since that film came just after the war, naturally, we are heading to a huge section of the second film about the making of the first film -- larry parks plays both jolson in the present day and himself playing jolson in the film production -- at first, i just figur…

waking into a dream journal 12.15.07

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this morning's reason for noxzema
the jolson story
director: alfred e. green // 1946
cinema 4 rating: 6

sanitized for your approval: another celebrity biography scrubbed and speciously detailed for mass consumption; bland, predictable and yet strangely compelling and immensely watchable -- well, watchable if you can get past the blackface -- all about the music -- song after memorable song; who knew jolson was responsible for putting so many tunes into the hearts of millions of americans? -- larry parks was nominated for an oscar for his portrayal of "the great entertainer"; he didn't sing, though (jolson did and parks lip-synched) -- first karaoke oscar nomination? -- hmmm... makes me wonder how his life story would be filmed nowadays (and i don't mean neil diamond-style) -- could get spike lee to direct -- make it a sequel to bamboozled -- choices, choices... retired life with the gorgeous evelyn keyes as "julie benson (notruby keeler)" vs. singing to a b…

waking into a dream journal 12.13.07

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this morning's not so much a continuation of my nightmares through the week
dexter // episode 2.11 "Left Turn Ahead"
cinema 4 rating: 7

been having a series of nightmares through the week, none of which have anything to do with this show -- one involved a very good friend of mine taking an ax to somebody on a city bus, gore flying all about and covering everybody, while several of my other friends and myself sit around ignoring what is going on -- do i secretly suspect this friend may have killed someone, or is that too direct an interpretation? -- certainly has to be -- it couldn't be otherwise, but where would i get this image into my head? -- as a result, reluctant to watch this penultimate episode of one of my current favorite series -- at least, reluctant to watch it at night for fear of having it influence me too much come bedtime -- figured i should work this out on my own -- been watching dexter on monday mornings before work anyway since i dvr it late sunday ni…

waking into a dream journal 12.12.07

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this morning's call to arms
let's rock again!
director: dick rude // 2004
cinema 4 rating: 7

when did i stop listening to what joe strummer had to say? -- i never did stop listening to him (the clash have been regular visitors to my eardrums since the '70s), but i did stop seeking out new music from him -- not even his latter day albums with the mescaleros, which is the focus of this quick (barely over an hour) and unique concert tour documentary -- hard to believe the director is the repellent and socially tortured punk criminal duke from repo man (and an alex cox regular) -- i know the point of the piece is a posthumous tribute to strummer's later years, but i can't help but feel i wanted to know a little bit more about his newer bandmates than i got from just watching them goof around backstage at gigs -- strummer is amazingly humble throughout, downplaying his influence tremendously, and ripping apart notions of his social and political importance -- we know the tr…

waking into a dream journal 12.09.07

this morning's dose of mild chuckling
the mesmerist
director: // 2001
cinema 4 rating: 5

someday, the world will stop making doogie howser, m.d. jokes, and admit as a group that neil patrick harris is, in the words of another how i met your mother character (though never used to actually describe harris' character) awesome -- awesome in everything except this -- he's still good here, and delivers the farcical material well, but seems strangely miscast -- i've seen some odd poe adaptations, but why someone didn't think of this before is beyond me -- the facts in the case of m. valdemar rewritten (and transfigured slightly) almost as a stage farce -- makes me wonder if this indeed had been produced on the stage originally, though the credits (as near as I can tell) do not betray this -- so, at least jessica capshaw is a better actress than her mother, which isn't saying much, but as daisy she looks the part of a virginal daddy's girl, and she has a good way with …

waking into a dream journal 12.08.07

this morning's reason to hit the snooze alarm:
dead mary
director: robert wilson // 2006
cinema 4 rating (final): 4

perhaps I left off with this film the other morning at exactly the moment when any admiration I may have had for its few good points had reached their apex -- i did think that perhaps some reflection upon what I saw initially might open me up to what the film was offering -- turns out, reflection only reminding that the film had nothing to offer -- i care even less for these people this morning, though i will say that the acting is still pretty far beyond what is normally required in these features -- the bridget fonda-lookalike though, who is actually a paris hilton-act-alike, is not part of that group -- strange how i am watching a film where dominique swain is getting drenched in the rain and i don't give a rat's ass -- how the mighty fine have fallen -- should i give kudos to a film about college reunion kids in a remote cabin for not going the t-and-a route,…

My Lucky 13: The Perils of Pauline (1967)

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Oh, how I have hated Prince Benji since I was roughly the same age as his character in The Perils of Pauline, a patched-together theatrical film released in 1967 from the discarded remains of a failed television pilot. Ostensibly a remake or reworking of the then-thrilling 1914 girl-in-constant-peril silent serial featuring the amazing stuntwork of Pearl White, this version slams together four episodes of the never-aired series, and pairs off a stunning blank-eyed Barbie doll named Pamela Austin with the bland-as-sand theatrical stumblings of Pat Boone as her moonstruck millionaire suitor. If this casting alone makes you long for the use of the guillotine on the necks of asinine Hollywood producers, well, even though I am against capital punishment, I can't say I do not agree with you.

But, here's the skinny: I loved this film as a child, mostly because I had never seen the source material on which it was extremely loosely (and mockingly) patterned, and at that age, anything st…

waking into a dream journal 12.06.07

this morning's chukka...
the smart set
director: jack conway // 1928
cinema 4 rating for 2nd 1/2: 5 // overall: 6

left this film yesterday at the tail end of a riotous, slapstick-laden dinner party; start this morning inside a melodrama -- did someone switch films on me? -- tommy van buren (played by haines) gets what his drunken, conceited brat is due: his father sells his polo ponies after he is kicked off the u.s. national polo team -- the fifteen minutes at the beginning of this half are full of weeping and worrying on the part of several characters, and if you have seen even one other haines silent, you know this sets up his rise back to the top by film's end -- though i like haines, his character is more haves -- really, they could end the film here and i would feel fulfilled by it -- this half really seems like another film -- the pathos cast by the stable boy and haines over the sale of pronto the polo pony is just a little too over the edge for my taste, though i have see…

waking into a dream journal 12.05.07

this morning's breeze...
the smart set
director: jack conway // 1928
cinema 4 rating for 1st 1/2: 6

have told myself over and over again since i moved here to check into seeing a polo match -- must be mickey's polo team (with animated marx bros.!) influencing me the most, though i have seen the game played in numerous films and shows over the years -- just want to see one live on the grass; want to see the speed, want to see the glorious horses up close, want to know how it looks without a tight camera shot influencing my eye -- "you can't part in front of a fire-plug, lady." "i didn't know you were expecting a fire today" -- i know those days were that of the "whoopsie!" jokes about gays, but were audiences of that time that blind to william haines' quite apparent homosexuality? they must have been, since he was highly popular, and i can't imagine that the crowds would be the same (in 1928) were his secret out in the open. and yet, e…

waking into a dream journal 12.04.07

this morning's jolt:
dead mary
director: robert wilson // 2006
cinema 4 rating for 1st hour: 5

isn't there already a movie called candyman? -- never had a game like this when i was a kid -- childhood was already stuffed too full of monsters; no room for a dead witch in a mirror -- and why only 3 times for the name-chanting? this seems like a game made up by the least inventive childwhy not make it 27 times or something more inventive, like, you have to stand on one foot and hop and burn 7 eyelashes in the candle (you are holding a candle apparently) and cross your toes on the hopping foot -- truthfully, there is more of an evil dead feel to this one (living dead action, cabin in the woods, body possession, evil witch) than candyman -- haven't seen one damn bee in this film (and since I got stung in the neck on sunday, this is a good thing -- little fucker...) -- dominique swain? not still getting it done (in tony kornheiser terms); 27 but looking a trashed-out 40 -- starting t…

Spout Mavens Disc #6: The Rocket (2005)

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The Rocket [Maurice Richard]
Director: Charles Binamé // Canadian, 2005
Cinema 4 Rating: 7

Of course we generally go to movies in which we either have an interest in a personality involved in the film, whether it be a star or director or even the author of the source material, or we love a particular genre and wish to see new examples of such, or we have heard or deduced that there is an element within the plot which forms that interest. In most cases, those that love dinosaurs are more apt to see a film if it involves dinosaurs than a film that doesn't, and more so than those that don't appreciate large, lumbering prehistoric beasts.

The wall into which I have slammed my nose time and again through the brief period I have been part of the Spout Mavens group is constructed firmly by layers of DVDs containing films and subjects which I have absolutely zero interest in confronting in real life. And I have mentioned this time and again as well, though I have managed thus far to spew …

My Lucky 13 -- Who Say Who?

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What we were calling Messerschmitts looked nothing like the famous German fighter planes, but we called them by that name all the same. I was engaged in teaching my brother Mark a trio of paper airplane designs I had learned in school earlier in the year, not least of which was a snub-nosed model with wide wings and flaps torn into the back edges. This is the one I called a Messerschmitt, and while I probably knew the names of roughly a dozen other planes at that young age (I had a poster which portrayed planes and jets from around the world), I had actually picked the term up from a World War II-obsessed school buddy. The chief reason we called this particular design a Messerschmitt was the way this model would swoop for a short burst, and then flip over and over and over again until the plane would slam, usually ungracefully, into the ground. This made them perfect as the unfortunate victims of the other paper airplanes, most often long, sleek and pointed in the traditional way that…

Recently Rated Movies #57: To Be Counted As A Marvel, Doesn't Something Need To Be Marvelous?

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Somewhere in my giant pile of lost tapes is the original 1978 made-for-television version of Dr. Strange. I have not watched it in many a moon, but as I am recently reunited with it, I shall take it for another spin here in a matter of weeks (or days, if I locate it any time soon). Also back in my possession are a pile of Dr. Strange comic books, both in his '70s run as a solo book and numerous issues of Strange Tales from the '60s, which I paid about $3 apiece for a flea market in the 1980s. To say that I have always been a great collector of the Sorcerer Supreme would be an overstatement, as I never really found the energy to complete any runs or keep up with later incarnations beyond buying the first issue or so. But I have always admired the character and have spent considerable time pondering the reasons why he wasn't one of the top characters in the Marvel stable, or at least far more popular than he seemed to be.

Or has this changed? As you may be aware, Marvel Studi…

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