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Showing posts from August, 2007

Spout Mavens Disc #4: 13 Tzameti (2005)

About two days after I was halfway through my third, frustrating viewing of 13 Tzameti, I started having nightmares. Not the type of nightmares that leave you waking up -- cold sweat -- shaking -- whizzin' the bed, but the type where you wake up going, "What the fuck was that?" And the dreams had nothing to do with the ratcheted up gun violence in the center section of the film, where a high stakes daisy chain of pistol-packing morons blasting holes in each other's heads makes Hollywood positively cream over the thought of reaping even bigger profits than the illegal cash the winners in the film land by remaking 13 Tzameti in a country where professional football players can earn a little extra bling green via underground dogfighting, even if they occasionally have to kill an unlucky puppy by smashing its body into a wall. The dream actually involved a couple of incidental characters in the film: 1) a gangster named Jean-François Godon who overdoses early in the film…

Recently Rated Movies #55: Definitely in the Eye of the Beholder...

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Eye of the Beholder
Director: Stephan Elliott // 1999 [DVD]
Cinema 4 Rating: 6

This movie, most likely? Merely another example of the now-standard studio reflex to rewrite and/or remake everything (both, in this case), whether it is needed or not, and muck it up to an insane level in the process. Ewan McGregor's secret agent (code-named Eye, which helps towards explaining the title, which is more than most movies do; you don't see Alex Trebek making a cameo in Double Jeopardy) spies on a femme fatale/serial killer played in a variety of wigs by a most bewitching Ashley Judd, for once doing the slicing instead of the co-investigating (even if the cover looks like another one of her James Peterson-style cookie cutter flicks). McGregor, who premiered as Obi-Wan Kenobi this same year, has lost his wife and daughter in a divorce, becomes entranced by Judd to the point where he begins to protect her as he follows her devilish exploits through a variety of cities, collecting souvenir sn…

Spout Mavens Disc #3: Clean (2004)

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Clean
Director: Olivier Assayas // 2004 [Palm Pictures Promo Screener DVD]
Cinema 4 Rating: 7

At a certain point in Olivier Assayas' addiction meditation Clean, we are asked to accept the fact that not only would Maggie Cheung's breathy meander of a voice warrant the attention of a record producer, but that someone would ask her to fly all the way from Paris to San Francisco to record it. It's not that there isn't a sort of intriguing dreariness to the music on her demo tape; it's just hard to imagine the commercial possibilities for it. One reason it could hold such possibilities is that her character, Emily Wang, is a minor celebrity (video jockeys are all minor celebrities, no matter how famous they actually got) whose life partner just ended up on the fatal side of a heroin overdose. So, certainly there is commercial potential in that not necessarily blessed combination. Hearing her music in a movie tangentially about rock music but lacking any real fire musically…

The Curse of Comedy Masters of Yesteryear, Vol. 7

It seems that there was no corner I could turn within Spout that I wasn't reminded of one very important fact: despite the massive amounts of films and videos I have seen in my lifetime, none of it meant anything unless I took in a viewing of Comedy Masters of Yesteryear, Vol. 7. A collection of three silent era short film masterpieces (they are coming from "comedy masters," after all) starring the likes of the great Harry Langdon (of Tramp, Tramp, Tramp fame), Comedy Masters of Yesteryear, Vol. 7 exists only on VHS and is long out of print, and yet, this seemingly innocuous tape seems to be the cornerstone upon which all of film history is set. At least, according to Spout. Until very recently, nothing could be looked up on Spout without Comedy Masters of Yesteryear, Vol. 7 boxing me about the ears and telling me how woefully uneducated I was as regards this subject. Or any subject, really...

The chief problem, though, was finding a copy of Comedy Masters of Yesteryear, …

I Guess Mozart Just Isn't All That Interesting...

John Nesbitt's Passing Parade: The Fabulous Fraud
Director: Edward L. Cahn // 1948 [TCM]
Cinema 4 Rating: 4

I will grant you this: I do not know much more about Franz Anton Mesmer, the Austrian doctor who pretty much put the claim to the term "animal magnetism" in the late 18th century, than I have read on the Internet. I certainly, like many people might, recognize the surname, as his methods helped provide or influence the basis upon which hypnotism was laid, and which also has become known in some circles as "mesmerism." His experiments certainly came to the attention of Poe, who elaborated upon such matters by name in his classic The Facts of M. Valdemar's Case, and thus, this is where I first learned the term as a child, though it is likely I know the name from an altogether far removed source: that of the "true" creator of the famous cartoon figure Felix the Cat, Otto Messmer. The spelling is slightly different, and I am not aware of any geneti…

Psychotronic Ketchup: The Fearmakers (1958)

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The Fearmakers
Director: Jacques Tourneur // 1958 [TCM]
Cinema 4 Rating: 5

"There are millions of people being lied to, taken for suckers! You know, it's a funny thing... they have pure food and drug laws to keep people from buying poison to put in their stomachs. And you're peddling poison to put in their minds!" - Alan Eaton (Dana Andrews)

Oh, how I wanted to make this one of my entries for my Slipped Discs column! I have always just missed watching The Fearmakers through the years, Knowing it was made not long after one of my favorite horror movies, Curse [Night] of the Demon, by that movie's same combination of director and star nonetheless, I was hoping that when I dove into it over the weekend (I recorded it off TCM on a day devoted to Dana Andrews), I would be looking at a lost classic. I would, at least, get a look at a Tourneur film I had not seen, and my hopes were, as usual after years of personal neglect, high for it. And for a stunning first few minutes,…

Spout Mavens Disc #2: You're Gonna Miss Me (2005)

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You're Gonna Miss Me
Director: Keven McAlester // 2005 [Palm Pictures DVD Screener]
Cinema 4 Rating: 6

Why is it the traits that we would find repulsive in an everyday, common person if we passed them by or ran them over in the street -- lack of hygiene, shabby clothes, drug addiction, alcoholism, mad ravings, abusive language, foul temperament, outright insanity -- are perfectly fine if they are contained -- in any combination of column A or B -- in the body of a rock star? Behavior that most would find deplorable or from which most would at least attempt to shield the eyes of their children in public has now turned into a cottage industry on film and television, propping up any number -- hell, half the lineup -- on many stations like MTV, VH1 or their short attention-spanned and money-grubbing ilk. Sure, it makes a nice human interest story if Johnny Bollocks cleans up his act and goes back on the road for the first time in twenty years with the Sex Pickles, but it would be even mo…

Shakin' All Over...

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Hairspray
Director: Adam Shankman // 2007 [Century Promenade 25, Anaheim]
Cinema 4 Rating: 8

I will not lie, and say outright that I was wholly unprepared for how much I shook while watching Hairspray the other night. I don't mean with fear or anger, but from outright dancing in my seat. I don't friggin' dance... and I spent nearly two full hours wiggling in my seat... in a movie theatre... with Jen next to me, who was enjoying the film equally as much as I was, but whose cool resolve hardly allowed her to move while she did so. Going home, with snippets of numerous songs bouncing about the interior of my skull, I continued to tap my feet and fingers. Falling asleep, I was still shaking from the music, rocking myself into slumber. And then, waking up at 3 a.m. to cease the aching of a full bladder, my stumble-bum journey to our room of rest found the blessed wail of Elijah Kelly continuing to resound in my ears.

This does not happen often, even with films that I enjoy greatly,…

Recently Rated Movies #54: A Truly Mind-Boggling Capacity for Dreck...

Is that what I have, O' Friend of Mine, who accuses me of such? A capacity for dreck that is truly mind-boggling? By what standard are we gauging the level of artfulness here? Is it by a merely standard James Garner comedy from the '60s or do you have a secret stash of Truffaut, Godard and Melville hidden somewhere, and thus, all other movies are instantly cursed to become suffused and laid low by the unearthly glow emanating from this golden treasure of cinematic holiness?

I ask because you have looked over my posts from the past year and somehow determined that I am trapped within a hell of my own making, watching an endless array of terrible films, and having no way out of the situation. You have said you wish to come here and "slap some class back into" me, but who is making the determination of class? And if there is a word that truly offends me in the English language, and a word and variety of definitions that I find to be the source of much of mankind's wo…

Recently Rated Movies #53: A Brief Pause to Refresh...

Please, longtime readers of this site, bear with me for this post. It's mainly going to be a list, and it's going to be long. Efforts to write about every movie that I see, inside a time construct roughly approximating the order in which I saw those films, have proven fruitless as of late. I see far too many movies, and have far too little personal writing time, given the evil brain-draining demands of my day job and the fact that I wish to have a continuance of my relationship with my significant other (in addition to actuallywatchingthese films), and thus, with this post, I am going to play a little catch up.

Significant changes have occurred in my life to get me to this point, not the least of which is a renewed interest in my personal health. I have put on over twenty pounds since I moved to Anaheim almost 2-1/2 years ago, and a heightened cholesterol level, breathing problems at night, and a general sense of ickiness left me flustered and sick with myself. Then, the Orange…

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