Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Stream of Consciousness: John Carpenter

This is just copied over from my blog on Suicide Girls, cause I posted it there first. Also, shits acting weird and I'm too lazy to figure out how to fix it, so just highlight ever the area below to see the text.
New post, still just rambling on about movies.

As a movie fan I'm often asked what's new that I've seen, and honestly, I never know how to answer that question. Well I mean, sure if I happened to just catch a flick in theaters then I'll answer with that, but now that I'm working full time, often with overtime on weekends, it's hard for me to find the time to get out to the cinemas to see something. Besides, as a movie geek I've always been the type who watches films in waves of directors. I'll go through a Hitchcock phase, or David Lynch, or Scorsese, or De Palma or whatever. Right now I'm going through a pretty hard John Carpenter binge.

As of this moment, the Carpenter flicks I've seen are Halloween, Escape from New York, The Thing, Big Trouble in Little China, They Live, Assault on Precinct 13, and Escape from L.A.

If I had to choose a favorite movie, I'd have to go with Big Trouble, it's just... the greatest movie ever made. It certainly helps if I'm in an altered state of mind. After that it's sort of the big jumble of the rest of his stuff. Although I have to ask, am I the only person who likes Escape from L.A.? I mean, sure it's campier and definitely stupider... and more poorly written, but it's just so much fun. And Snake's such a bad ass!

Anywhoo, no point to this blog, just rambling on. If you are reading this though, and you happen to be a fan of Master John Carpenter, then let me know what your favorites are.

Also since I'm still going through De Palma pretty badly, let me know what your favorite of l'incorruptible is.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Brian De Palma, Ranked

Bored, wanted to type something up about flicks but couldn't think of anything, here we are.

I've become even more obsessed with Brian De Palma since my initial post about the man way back when. So I decided to look at all of his films that I own and have seen and am going to list them in order of favorite to least favorite. There are still several of his flicks I haven't seen, mostly cause I don't want to, such as Wise Guys, The Bonfire of the Vanities, and Mission to Mars. There are also a few I really want to see but haven't yet. When I watch them I'll come back and add them to the list. They would be The Fury, Casualties of War, Redacted, and his early comedies with De Niro, Greetings and Hi, Mom!

Note: I've enjoyed all the films listed, just to varying degrees.

15. The Black Dahlia: This one comes in last mostly because it was massively disappointing. There are great things in the flick, but unfortunately it was cut down from De Palma's original director's cut by nearly an hour. Leaving us with a movie with way too many plot threads. Still, there's some great stuff on display here, I just wish I could get that director's cut.

14. Phantom of the Paradise: The Black Dahlia was the only film on this list I had any complaints about. Phantom is a great little rock musical, only this far back cause I like his other flicks more.

13. Snake Eyes: It's kind of weak in some of it's execution, but this flick has some of De Palma's most breathtaking shots and displays of visual excellence. Also, 14 minute tracking shot.

12. Obsession: Closest thing we'll ever get to a new Hitchcock flick.

11. Sisters: Maybe it's the low budget vibe, but this flick is creepy as hell. Also amazing use of split screen.

10. Carlito's Way: A somber, quieter gangster flick. And that end sequence in the train station? Probably one of the greatest things De Palma has ever done.

9. Mission: Impossible: No, I do not know what the story is. Some sort of spy stuff with betrayals and shit, but it is fucking entertaining.

8. The Untouchables: Great upbeat, exciting, popcorn crime flick. Makes you feel good don't it?

7. Raising Cain: The movies pretty much disliked, but I think it's a great little piece of De Palma fun. I guess it's like Diet De Palma, but Lithgow in this is wonderful.

6. Femme Fatale: Won't say anything other than it's definitely worth your time.

5. Body Double: I think this would be De Palma at his visual storytelling best. And shows that just cause you're dealing with trashy material doesn't mean it can't be great. Not everything needs to be Raging Bull

4. Scarface: I stupidly resented the film for a long time because 1) Everyone loved it and 2) It was nothing like either The Godfather or Goodfellas. I was stupid, how dare a film be it's own thing, and loved by many people.

3. Blow Out: Honestly, it may be his best film. It's certainly De Palma and everyone else at the height of their powers. I will saying nothing else so you can discover it for yourself.

2. Dressed to Kill: Soooo close to being my favorite De Palma flick. It actually might be, but at the moment it's number 2. As it stands this is still the only De Palma movie I've gotten to see in theaters, and I gotta tell you, it's just about the best slasher flick I've ever seen.

1. Carrie: Everyone has their own ideas of whats scary. I honestly think it's fucking stupid to be truly afraid of monsters and vampires. You show me a creepy as fuck mother with hair and a face like a porcelain doll walking towards you with a knife as her head bobs around like it's about to fall off? Add to that the fact that she's an insane religious person whose own fear of sexuality has led to the complete torment and destruction of her own child? Yeah, I find that fucking scary. And the flicks pretty damn great too.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

But the Man on the Television Said it Sucks!

Since I had last weekend off, I had planned to catch up on my summer movies. Instead I just dicked around the internet and went to a family gathering. I did make it out to see at least one flick though, unfortunately I already wrote about Super 8, can't do that again. I did still want to get something else up this week, keep the habit going and what not, so this is the result. Sure it's been said so many times that if it were food it would actually make the big lump at work full, but I'm saying it anyway.

So I'm looking at the reviews for Green Lantern, and yeah, it's looking pretty shit. I wouldn't say I was eagerly awaiting the flick (I think the only movies I'm eagerly awaiting this year are Scorsese's Hugo Cabret, Spielberg's Tintin and Fincher's Girl With the Dragon Tattoo), but it was something I was looking forward to. As I've said many times in the past, I'm a very director oriented movie buff, and GL is directed by Martin Campbell. I know Campbell is far from a great director. He's definitely made several piles of turd, among them The Legend of Zorro (Disappointing seeing as Mask was great) and Edge of Darkness (So we get him walking in heaven but no scene of Mel Gibson licking his daughter's vibrator? WTF?), but he also made some flicks I really dig, most notably Casino Royale, which to me, is the epitome of the modern American action flick. For this reason alone, I will always keep him in the list of director's films I'll watch, pretty much no matter what.

So yeah, Green Lantern is getting some rancid reviews, but I'm still gonna watch it. And that's the attitude I'll take with any film I want to see. I honestly could not care less if a film I'm looking forward to gets ecstatic reviews, or just pure hatred. Yeah, it's nice if a film I dig is loved by many other people, but at the end of the day, it's my opinion. I can't speak for anyone else, I don't know how anyone else thinks, or how they would act, or how they feel about a movie. All I know with absolute certainty is what I think. I know that The King's Speech got good reviews, but I don't like it. I also know that Flash Gordon is generally disliked, but that I dig it.

Maybe I will hate GL, just as I've hated many movies I've seen in theaters. But after all the effort we put into getting excited for a movie, even if that's just saying, "I wanna see that flick," after watching a trailer or reading a synopsis, isn't it kind of a damn shame to not create your own opinion?

Monday, June 13, 2011

Super 8

Something that has always bothered me about when people write about a product or whatever is all the good things will be pointed out first, but then the final paragraphs of the review will be spent talking about all the things they didn't like. They even end their final sentence with something along the lines of, "Blahblah is a great product, however it does have several noticeable problems, if you can look past them then you should consider purchasing one." You know what impression this leaves me with?

This Product Sucks Monkey Balls.

And then of course you look at the score, at it's something like, 8.5 out of 10 or some other totally decent rating. It doesn't matter though, cause now all you really remember is that the reviewer had problems with it. So in an attempt to break that feeling, here's what I disliked about J.J. Abrams' Super 8 up front:

Just a bit too much time spent going to the military when what we want is to see the evolution of the children. That's who we care about.

Things got a bit too silly with the various shots of tanks rolling over and crazy action that seemed to be there for the sake of having something blow up.

The relationship of the main character and his father seemed to wrap up really quickly and in a manner that really didn't involve growth from either people.

Okay, that's out of the way, now on to the rest.

J.J. Abrams' had always made it clear that he wanted to make his sort of tribute film to 80's Spielberg. Interestingly, it's the second one that came out this year, the other one being Greg Mottola's Paul. Of course Paul was a wild comedy that paid homage in various ways to Spielberg and Science Fiction films, like Shaun was to zombies and Hot Fuzz to buddy cop pics. What Super 8 went for was to create an authentic Spielberg movie, think Planet Terror versus Death Proof.

In my opinion, he succeeded. He brought us back into the small town, the creative and interesting children, the heartache that lies in the characters, basically a beautiful portrait of small town Americana that can easily be it's own film, and then adds the supernatural element.

I have to say, I loved every second the young actors were on screen, it must be difficult to find, for lack of a better word, good young actors, Abram's has found at least six. In particular, I have to give credit to Joel Courtney and Elle Fanning who, in their performances gave us something to care about. It created a central focal point for the drama and story to unfold, just as Spielberg's best movies did.

The flick of course, also brought with it, a big budget and special effects not possible when Spielberg made movies like E.T. and Close Encounters. Abrams stages the action well and holds back on the shaky cam stuff he did in Star Trek. The monster is appropriately creepy, threatening, and kinda lovable. And the film has a few truly great jump scare moments.

This is not my favorite movie of the Summer(well, because the Summer isn't over yet so how would I know?) But if I had a kid and could only take him/her to one movie this summer, it would be Super 8... and it's great for everyone else too.


Thursday, June 9, 2011

What Makes One an Intense Mother F**king Film Geek?

This is, first of all, not really an answer to the above question. Really, it was just one of the many ridiculous thoughts that stampede through my head every day. Secondly, this bit was really just done for fun, there's no insight or anything contained below. I just wanted to post something today to get back into the habit.

The idea of those "Would you rather..." or other wacky hyphothetical questions is in many ways, pretty fucking stupid. At it's best it's filler talk for people who have nothing left to say as they wait in line to get the guy who sculpted Batman's nipple's autograph. And yet, you have to admit that under the right circumstances it can be entertaining as hell, okay so alcohol is usually involved, as well as situations that get more homoerotic by the second despite the fact that both guys would rather have their testicles pulled off than see a gay couple walking down the street. Fine.

Where was I going with this? Right, so anyway this morning, as I was getting ready for work, hopelessly dreaming about a world without warehouses and early hours, I had one of those hypothetical questions pop into my head.

If you had the opportunity to fuck any girl on the planet three times, at the cost of never being able to watch another film by [insert favorite director, genre, franchise, whatever], would you do it?

Now I'm a very director based movie geek. I'm very loyal to directors I dig, perhaps stupidly so, so I would take it in that direction. So to be fair, I'll choose a director I love who still has a lot of, ahem, life in him. So no De Palma, Scorsese, whatever. Why? Well it's not very fair if you choose a director that's already had a long illustrious career and whose best years are probably behind him. So for me, I'd choose someone like, P.T. Anderson, David Fincher, Wong Kar-Wai, Edgar Wright or something.

So would I do it? Well, ridiculous as it may seem to regular people, no. In fact, HELL NO! The cost of never being able to see Fincher's Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, or the final film in the Blood and Ice Cream trilogy, or anything by P.T. Anderson ever is simply wayyyyyyy too much of a price. I don't care who or what you throw in front of me, movies shall always be my mistress.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Not in any way a big post, but damn I have to say I am excited as hell for David Fincher's Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. The man really is one of the greatest talents to have come out of the 90's and can direct the hell out of a "Mean Film," and it's been a long time since he's made a "Mean in your Mother Fucking Face Film."

Love the hell out of that poster, as well as the trailer. I prefer the Red Band International one as opposed to the one here in the States but both offer the same vibe.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Late thoughts on Thor

I'll admit I'm a bit behind when it comes to the summer flicks, but seeing as shit's starting to really ramp up right now I figured I'd spend some time going over the flicks as I see them. Now when I say I'm behind, I really do mean it, I mean, so far I've only seen Thor, not that I really intend to watch every big flick of the summer, but there are several that I want to see, that I simply haven't yet. But no worries, I've got this weekend off from work and I plan to do some major catching up.

That doesn't matter right now though cause right now it's time to talk about Thor. I'll admit, for someone who talks endlessly about being in the right mood to watch a film, I sure as hell walked into Thor in the wrong fucking mood. It wasn't that I didn't want to see it that night, I did, but it happened after a 9 and a half hour work day with the knowledge that I had to wake up at 6:30 the next morning to take tests for 5 hours. Regardless, I walked out relatively happy if not a bit underwhelmed. Even then though, I knew I would watch the flick at least once more.

So I saw it again, this time after a well rested day with a few friends, and did find that my enjoyment of the flick was greater, although the little problems I had initially were still there.
I don't wanna spend a bunch of time reviewing the movie or anything so I'll keep this with a simple group of things I liked and things I didn't.

Stuff I liked:
The actors were all pretty spot on, with Chris Hemsworth having that sort of great charisma that made him a believable douche you love as well as a great true hero at the end. Tom Hiddleston probably could have easily given an almost clown-like performance, but instead gives a calmer, and in many ways much more evil performance. One imagines that if someone were really a great trickster, they wouldn't be running around giggling like Mark Hamill as The Trickster from that Flash tv series. Granted there are a few moments where he lets out that sort of sinister smile that makes you feel like you really are staring at one dementedly brilliant mother fucker. Anthony Hopkins brought a lot of gravitas, Natalie Portman was good enough, Kat Dennings was funny, Stellan Skarsgard was a great grounded human character, Idris Elba was HOLY FUCK awesome and so on and so forth, next point.

Marvel seems to have their formula down to a science at this point as all of the films released through the Marvel Studios banner seem to have a very similar feel to them, and that's a good thing. If we're supposed to believe that they inhabit the same universe it'd be strange if all the films felt completely different.

Branagh brought a great sense of epicness and scope to the flick when we were in Asgard, which is really pretty amazing when you consider that you really only see like 3 actual places in Asgard, there's that initial throne room, the bridge, and random castle dungeons and such.

Final thing I dug, I mean, it was just a solid summer flick that didn't submit to endless scenes of action and explosions and actually provided us with some solid characters and story. Aside from the performances there was no single thing that really stood out as fantastic, it was a lot of little things, done right, that created a greater whole.

Things I didn't care for:

While the special effects for Asgard were appropriately beautiful, the rest of it was a mixed bag ranging from pretty decent, to well, pretty bad, particularly the ice effects, which were at some points laughably bad. The Destroyer looked pretty cool though.

Plain and simple, I did not like the action staging. There was never a moment where I was even remotely impressed, and more than once I was completely confused at what what happening on screen, but that's more a fault with me than anything else. Branagh is obviously a drama driven director and it's there that he excels.

For me, when we entered the second act and Thor first showed up on earth, we cut back to Asgard a few too many times, and in my opinion, it completely killed the momentum. Obviously when we head back for the big drama stuff like Loki finding a little something out about himself it's great. But did we really need ten minutes of Lady Sif and the Warriors Three sitting around basically saying that the situation sucked? I mean, we can see that it sucks, but now we wanna see what's gonna happen to Thor on Earth, not see you guys sit around bitching, again though that may just be me.

In closing, it's really pretty simple, Thor is solid summer entertainment.

Friday, April 15, 2011

It's the Grand Return!

[Sensitive readers may wish to avoid this piece]

Apologies to the three or so readers that I have for my long silence, but try as I might, I couldn't muster up the strength in my fingers to type out a new piece for this blog with work constantly hammering down. But today, something magnificent happened, I got Saturday off which means I will have two consecutive days off. I'm very excited. So as a means of celebrating in a very geeky manner, I decided to finally post something new.

Now I've been looking through my film collection for a while now, and browsing the internet for a flick that would be worthy of my first new post in very nearly a month, and I couldn't decide on anything. Then I realized something, I have done nothing but kiss director's asses since I started this, so tonight, I am going to chokeslam a film straight to hell.

Like just about anybody who watches movies, there are many flicks I dislike, and even downright hate. Some, maybe unfairly. For example, "Click," that movie with Adam Sandler about the remote control thing. There's probably nothing really wrong with it, but it's the first flick I saw that made me realize how bland most movies are, so I've got a special type of hatred
in my heart for that. But that's not what I'm gonna talk about, what I'm gonna talk about is something that is completely and utterly deserving of every ounce of hatred thrown it's way. This film has an amazing first rate cast, including Malcom McDowell, Helen Mirren, and Peter O'Toole, oh and it's also sold in porn stores. You may know that there can only exist one film like this, and that is the Bob Guccione(Look him up) produced, "Caligula."

This is a film, that is unofficially billed as the most expensive porn ever made. The film where the director actually disowned it. The film, where it's lead actor, Malcom McDowell, said after watching it, "Now I know what a woman feels like when she's been raped." The film, that Roger Ebert actually gave zero stars. THE FILM WHERE YOU GET TO SEE TWO WOMEN RUB BLOOD ON THEIR PRIVATE PARTS AND PISS ON A DEAD GUY AND NO THAT IS NOT STAGE PISS, THEY ARE IN FACT PEEING ON THAT ACTOR. This is also the film I paid thirty dollars to own on blu ray, only to immediately sell back, and I'm not kidding here, for ONE DOLLAR, and I was glad to get it.

But come on, I had to see it. How could you not want to see something that is so absolutely hated, and yet stars an amazing award winning cast? It was interesting, as I watched it, I didn't really react, or say anything, or even move, I just sat there and let it wash over me. Then, about an hour or so into it, my sister comes into my room to tell me something so I pause it, only then did my mind go, "What in the blue hell am I watching?!?" It actually took me about half an hour to hit play and keep keep going.

Now don't get me wrong, it's not like you can't find flicks with more horrendous shit happening in them, that's easy. What makes this film such a fucking travesty, is that it was supposed to be a major attempt to legitimize pornography in film, and instead takes the good name of movies, cinema, film, whatever and RAPES IT ON IT'S WEDDING NIGHT IN FRONT OF IT'S HUSBAND AND PISSES ON IT'S FACE. It is an absolute slight against anything that is good and holy about movies. It is very clearly nothing more than a heaping pile of steaming monkey shit.

Interestingly enough, I actually made it through almost the entire film before I finally hit that last straw moment and saw absolutely no redemption for the flick. Call me shallow, but when I see a two year old girl get her head caved in by three guys as blood starts spewing everywhere, I find it hard to defend anything about the flick. Let me say that again, I was, up until the very end, able to defend a flick that has plot keywords in imdb that include: Orgy, Horse, Decay, Bestiality, Banned film, Sadism, Sperm, Human animal relationship, Rough sex, Rape victim, Corpse, She-male, Cousin cousin relationship, Peep Hole, Cum in mouth, Actual animal killed, Virgin blood, Urination, Anal Fisting, Forced prostitution, Golden shower, Grandfather grandson relationship, and oh my god there is so much more. But it was like, that was just one too much. There is now absolutely nothing I can defend about this movie, as I said, it deserves every single ounce of hatred and ill will it gets. It is absolute trash, and you should totally make every effort to see it. Come on, you have nothing better to do.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Quick Thoughts on Sucker Punch

It's been taking longer than I thought it would to really get used to my new schedule with work and everything, so there have been fewer posts here than usual. But I did just see Zack Snyder's Sucker Punch this evening and wanted to post a few quick thoughts on the flick.

The thing that strikes me most is that this is a movie for those who love action scenes, not necessarily those who love action movies. You see there is a big fucking difference between the two, I mean, consider that Dirty Harry and Die Hard are considered classics of the action genre, and yet they both have very few actual sequences of action, instead they had an action oriented story, with terrorists or serial killers or whatever. Well Sucker Punch is the opposite end of that spectrum. This is still an action movie, but people who love action movies may not necessarily dig it, or at the very least those who dig American action flicks.

The movie is filled with large scale action sequences. I mean, after the first act and they find out what they need to collect, it basically becomes a string of battles, fights, and whatnot. I am a lover of Hong Kong action and martial arts movies, where the focus really is about the set pieces and fighting, and I have to admit, even I was a bit exhausted by the third or forth large action set piece in a row. What do I mean by in a row? Well, the flick has one huge sequence, then pretty much immediately afterwards, has another one. It's all coming at you at a rapid fire pace and pretty much doesn't slow down ever. So yeah, I get why a large group of people would dislike the movie, but personally, I savor the amount of work that goes into making a scene like these work, so I still dug the flick quite a bit. Others who want a story, well, you're not gonna get much.

Aside from the action pieces though, I have to admit I really liked the opening five or ten minutes, however long Sweet Dreams is playing on the screen. I found that it was just as great as Zack Snyder's openings to both Dawn of the Dead and Watchmen.

The film goes really dark in the final act, I mean, if I personally had any real complaint against the flick(cause I don't find the action to be a problem) it's that by ending it the way it did, it kind of saps all the energy the first two acts of the flick gave you and has you leaving in a sort of somber place. It wasn't anything too bad though, and is definitely not enough to really sway your opinion of the flick one way or the other, cause let's face it, you've made up your mind about the flick long before the final act.

All right, that's what I've got for now, as I sit with the flick I may come up with some more stuff, but all in all, I personally dug it, although I guess that I'm pretty heavily in the minority here.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

My Blueberry Nights

I know I said I wouldn't do any more WKW, but I'm not quite ready to move on yet, and I just watched this flick today, so I decided to post my thoughts. After this though, no more WKW, and I think I'm finally gonna talk about some flicks I don't love so that you're not just reading me gushing like a little girl over every movie. For now though, courage.

When I started my director study of Wong Kar-Wai there was always one film I had kind of avoided. I mean, it wasn’t like I was actively against watching the flick, I just felt it more important to see his other work first. That film was his first American feature, “My Blueberry Nights.” There were several reasons for this, first of all, there was the simple fact that WKW is a Hong Kong director, so to me it only made sense that I watch the films that made him famous first. Then there was the fact that “My Blueberry Nights” was his only film to not be critically adored. Of course this is no final basis to go on, I mean I love lots of films critics don’t. But you know, it has to be said that seeing the lower ratings certainly affects my choice of films. As I started watching his movies, I then didn’t quite want to see the flick because I wouldn’t see any of his stable of actors which I had come to expect from his movies, particularly Tony Leung, who has been in all but one of WKW’s movies, and is, in my opinion one of the finest actors working today, anywhere.
Of course eventually I finished his Hong Kong movies, and still craving more WKW while I await his newest feature, “The Grandmasters,” I decided to finally check Blueberry Nights out.

To be honest, I’m once again annoyed at myself for not having seen the film sooner(This is something that happens to me quite a bit). I mean, it’s very much in the vein of his other films which I adore. It’s still got his usual themes of lost loves and fleeting time. It has that signature WKW directorial touch, basically it’s still his movie. Sure I miss the presence brought forth by one of his usual actors, but in making this film, he introduced me to new actors(well, sort of) as well as new music.

I don’t think it’s possible to watch a WKW flick for the first time and not find some songs you want to add to your play list. I know I’ve already beaten this point to death, but his use of music for his films among the best. I would easily rank him up there with Scorsese, Tarantino, and to a lesser degree, Wes Anderson. “My Blueberry Nights” features a pretty heavy jazz score, not surprising seeing as the film stars Norah Jones.

Speaking of which, this is Norah Jones’ first acting role. She never auditioned for the role, it was simply offered to her by WKW, a daring move but one that I think paid off. She’s good in the role, I mean, she’s not some amazing revelation or anything, but I think she does bring her own certain charm to the role. And by casting someone who we’re not used to seeing in a movie, it makes it easier to identify with the character.

The movie is often criticized for having too little story, and I know that with this paragraph I can’t possibly be helping my argument that I do think story is the most important element of a narrative movie, but a grand story was unnecessary for this movie. I guess it could be said that WKW is the enemy of people who want a great story as he focuses far more on character, mood and atmosphere. Like I’ve said, his movies are about the individual moments contained, like a CD. I find that the story in this movie, or I guess the framework of the plot, is there really just to introduce us to different characters, and to allow us a peek inside the lives of others.

“My Blueberry Nights” is an almost dreamlike movie, which asks us to simply sit back and allow the movie to wash over us. I dug it a lot.

Monday, March 14, 2011

More Netflix Instant Recommendations

It’s been a long day for me, so until I get acclimated to my new schedule during the day I’m gonna do some simpler posts here(really, I will have adjusted by Wednesday at the latest). So tonight I decided to do another Netflix Instant recommendations piece. Remember if you see anything there that you wanna recommend then please do so. I thoroughly enjoy the stuff people recommend me.

1. Fallen Angels: Because last week was WKW week here, I decided to start off with another one of his flicks. This one I just watched recently, and I really dug it, big surprise right? Well anyway, it’s a companion piece to Chungking Express in that it’s the same world they’re living in, but about the people who exist in the really late hours, basically, people who you wanna see but don’t really wanna know in real life. The title is amazingly fitting for the flick, and the ending is something that is just pure beauty, and continues WKW’s themes of fleeting moments.

2. Batman: The Movie: Yes, the Adam West one, words cannot describe how wonderful the flick is. Here’s a quick test to see if you will dig the absurd humor of the movie, solve this riddle: What has yellow skin and writes? Answer on bottom of post.

3. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo: See the original before Fincher’s remake(which I’m sure will be fucking amazing), if only to see Noomi Rapace’s amazing portrayal of Lisbeth Salander. On top of this though, you get a great crime thriller, and a fucking excellent scene of revenge. Here’s a tip: Don’t rape ANYONE.

4. Steamboat Bill, Jr.: For those who love physical comedy, particularly those who love the amazing split second timing of Buster Keaton. If you’ve not seen anything by him before then you’re missing out, although The General is a better film to jump into.

That’s it this time, check back tomorrow for hopefully something more.

Friday, March 11, 2011

It's My Favorite Movie of All Time, Is There Anything Else I Need to Say?

This will probably be the last update of the week, and hopefully the last WKW post for a little while.

I decided that it was only right that since I was talking about WKW I would talk about Chungking Express, if for no other reason than the fact that it’s my absolute favorite movie. That said, you should know right up front that everything I’m gonna say here should probably be taken with a grain of salt. Not because I’m lying, but because I love the film so much that my vision is clouded, and things I really love probably aren’t gonna have as much impact for you as they did for me. Well who knows, maybe it will be the same for you. That’s the whole point of this blog for now anyway, to talk about flicks that I really like, and hopefully give you guys some suggestions or some interesting thoughts.

Fun fact: This film was made in two months. That’s from the writing phase through completion of post production. It was shot guerilla style on the streets of Hong Kong and made as something to clear WKW’s mind while he was editing another film of his, Ashes of Time.

I think there’s something to be said about working extremely quickly on a project like this. When you’re just going like this, you get a product that feels much more raw and real as opposed to cleaned up and perfect as most of his other films are. There’s a grittiness and energy that’s supplied. In fact that’s kind of the prime difference between HK and American cinema. Because we have such long labored processes, with every action having to be okayed by 15 other people, we get something that feels very polished, which is a good thing. But sometimes, that energy that’s provided from say the HK way of working gives off a feeling that cannot quite be explained, but it’s a rush. I guess that’s one of the first pure joys I get from watching this movie.

Now this movie is sometimes cited as having a weak story, being a film made for lovers of film as opposed to general people. I disagree. Again, back to my basic message of the week, we need to allow ourselves to truly experience films. To see it as something pure, and not bring with us all that baggage that weighs us down. The story of Chungking Express can be seen as way too quirky and ham strung(particularly the second story), but I don’t see it like that. I find it a very pure expression of love, well the second story anyway. Full disclosure, I like the second half of the movie a lot more than the first, although I dig the first a lot as well.

Did I not mention that? Yeah the movie is two stories. Both share similar themes and both involve policemen, but aside from a bit in the middle where the characters cross paths, they’re unrelated. What I love though is that you don’t feel short changed on either story. There’s never a point when you wish something had been fleshed out more, much like the stories in Pulp Fiction.

Side Note: I’ve noticed a trend in my pieces every night where I spend a lot of detail talking about everything except the film. And I guess that’s not particularly fair, but this blog is my thoughts on films, and really the sort of back stories and different tangents that I go off on are things that come up because they’re thoughts that the certain film I’m “discussing” bring up. So I guess that’s my half assed explanation for not spending more time talking about the actual movie, but I did say from the beginning that I wasn’t doing reviews.

Side Note for the Side Note: I'm aware I defined what my blog was twice with this post.

And we’re back in

When I was watching some of this flick with my parents, who pretty much exclusively watch HK flicks but do not get WKW at all, I noticed something. They would point out every time he did something kind of different with a camera, and I’m using kind of in the absolute lightest sense. I remember a point where the character is talking about canned food, and the camera cuts to various close ups of the cans, and my mom pointed that out as weird and only something WKW would do. Now to me, what was done there was just common fucking sense, but it did point out to me just how flat and boring movies and editing can be. And it’s from that technical and visual perspective that results in many critics calling it a movie for movie lovers only. There are some moments in this film that show such immense beauty in the moving image that it’s mind boggling to think the film was made in two months. Particularly since WKW is now taking FUCKING YEARS to get The Grandmasters out there. Sorry.

It’s interesting to me that the first two directors I chose to talk about with this blog ended up being known as some of the most visually talented and beautiful directors working today. I guess that’s kind of where my mindset is right now. Anyway, I don’t really know how to close out tonight’s bit on Chungking Express simply because I really could never stop talking about it, if you’ve made it this far and want some sort of message or something to focus on from this post, make it this, I love this movie. It is my favorite movie of all time, and while that may not mean much to you, I would hope it means at least enough for you to check it out. If you do, tell me what you thought, I’m genuinely interested. Doesn’t matter if your opinions towards the film are positive or negative.

I may update this post in the next few days with some more precise thoughts on the flick

Next time we’ll probably start on another director, and based on the intense decline in readers this week, I’ll try to make it an American. =D

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Facebook Carryovers: Ten Favorite Trailers

I'm none too sure why, but I'm tired as hell today, as a result I don't see myself doing a full piece today. Besides, it would have just been yet another bit on WKW, who I'm sure you're all already sick of. So as a result I decided to do port over another note I made on facebook. This was the last one I made before I started this blog. In fact it was a comment on this one left by a friend that influenced me to come back to the world of blogging.

Anyway, I had always really dug movie trailers. Something about being able to cut a great trailer has always impressed me. Then of course there were the great old school trailers that were so full of camp and cheese they just made me smile. My love of them was then increased ten fold when I attended the New Beverly Edgar Wright screenings. It was there that I saw some true gems of marketing, and in fact one of those has made it onto this list. Seriously, if you watch just one trailer from here, I strongly suggest you make it the trailer for "Candy."

Note: There's no order to the list, they were put up as I thought of them.



This trailer pretty much sets the tone for what I usually like in a trailer, which is having sound and music driving the visual images on screen. As for this one in particular, I love how you get the continuing theme of running through the twisted hallways with flashing images, slowly building tension up until the big blast of everything in the end, much like the pacing of the actual movie. And of course there's the sudden silence and that excellent tag line.

Eyes Wide Shut


As WKW says, usually, during a movie, the image takes center stage, while music serves in the background, but sometimes it's nice to switch it up and have the music up front and have the images accompany the music. This is another one that's driven by music. The images that flash before the screen add credence to constantly hearing, "They did a bad bad thing," with quick flashes of things like the dead body, the deterioriating marriage, and many flashes of the couple with people who are very much not their spouse.

The Social Network


One of the most brilliant teasers in the past ten years doesn't have a single frame of footage from the movie, which is probably more of a complement to Aaron Sorkin's dialogue than anything else, but still, when this hit, everybody who had no fucking interest in seeing a facebook movie suddenly paid attention. I think it's a brilliant piece of marketing.

Happy Together


If I had to choose one trailer as my absolute favorite, this would be it. Once again, it's just a perfect combination of image and music working together. I had no interest in watching the flick, then I saw the trailer. Watched the movie immediately afterwards. Once again, I love the contrast of whats said in the song to what's portrayed on screen. You feel the physical threat and tension between the two, and yet see some moment of true tenderness. Favorite moment is the absolutely haunting image of Leslie Chung covered in blood and shaking in pain. The remix of the song brings the whole thing home for me.



It's Alfred Hitchcock being charming as all hell, and you know what, through him simply talking to you, you suddenly find yourself wanting to see the movie very badly.

Femme Fatale


This is actually the French trailer for the De Palma flick. I think the idea of showing you the entire movie from beginning to end at super speed is a brilliant idea, especially for a thriller which depends so much on you not knowing what's going to happen next.

Dr. Strangelove


I don't know about you, but I don't think it's possible to watch the trailer without wanting to see the movie afterwards. I mean, who doesn't want to know why the fate of the world rests on a coca cola machine? What a brilliant way to tease the audience about the absurdity of the movie.



Why do I love this trailer? Marlon Brando, James Coburn, and fucking Ringo Starr screaming, "Viva Zapata!" Is Candy Faithful? Only to the book.

Hard Boiled


The original Hong Kong trailer. Why? cause it doesn't tell you jack shit about anything. It's over three minutes long and it's just people getting shot in amazing ways. It's absolutely ridiculous and that's why I love it.



I think this was a first time I saw a trailer and really fell in love with it. It was just, through the images flashing and the narrator you could feel yourself entering into a grand epic world. You weren't too sure what direction the movie was going to go as well. It could just as easily be a love story or a tense thriller with action bits. Interestingly, it actually is both.

Scattered Thoughts on WKW's In the Mood for Love

As opposed to showing a classic trailer for the movie, I decided to show this one scene, which was luckily on youtube. I think it says all any trailer needs to say about it's movie.

I wasn’t sure how I was gonna go about the posts this week, whether I was gonna spend the entire week focusing on WKW or if like last week, do a bit on the director here and there but fill it out with other things as well. I’m still not too sure, so I had to decide what film I would talk about. When you look at his body of work, certainly there are many similarities in themes and even style, but each film seems to carry it’s own voice. The obvious choice would be for me to state my thoughts on “Chungking Express,” which is my favorite movie of all time. Another flick we could look into would be “Happy Together,” a film filled with raw impact, and frustrated and angered me in the best ways possible… think Martin Scorsese’s “After Hours,” this also has the benefit of being on Netflix Instant so those of you interested can see it pretty much instantly. But the film that I seem to keep coming back to over and over again is “In the Mood for Love.”

Why is this? I really don’t know. I wrote that top essay about 5 hours ago, and have spent all my time so far trying to gather my thoughts on the film, but can’t seem to do so with much success. It’s a similar reaction to the first time I watched “Pulp Fiction” or “Mulholland Drive.” I was effected on a very basic level that was extremely difficult for me to explain, at least initially. Of course now, I recognize that I was drawn to the effortless and natural manner in which characters spoke to one another and fresh storytelling methods in “Pulp Fiction.” Even if I was too young to actively notice this. With that film I felt something so fantastical, and yet, real. With “Mulholland Drive,” it was having my mind truly stimulated for the first time. This is a different experience than say having a film with a big twist at the end, or something which had an interesting premise, like say “The Matrix.” This was allowing the director to truly take over and even if I didn’t know what was happening, I was experiencing something. We’ll spend more time on those films as well as their respective directors, at a later date.

With “In the Mood for Love,” once again I was struck on a very primal level. As far as I can figure it, it’s the emotional honesty and power of the situation presented. The film deals with the spouses of two people who are cheating on them with the other, and the spouses relationship that forms because of this. The film is not exploitive about this, it doesn’t illustrate what is a terrible situation as nothing more than a jumping off point to start another love story(unlike 99% of our modern day romantic comedies). Instead, we know and see only what they see. We’re figuring out their spouses are cheating on them as they do, and we see how this impacts them. In a vague sense, it’s almost like Tarantino’s “Reservoir Dogs.” In that film, we never see the diamond heist, but we sure as hell see the effect it had on the characters. That’s what we have here.

I think another aspect which really impacts me, is the fact that this is a story of unrequited love. Sure, it’s not the freshest story type out there, but the way it’s presented, I don’t know, I haven’t quite pegged the film down yet, but it’s handled in a way that allows you to truly invest yourself into the characters and their lives, just as you’re invested in seeing your friends do well.

I guess what I’m really getting at with this film, as well as with the other two that I listed, is that we have to allow ourselves to experience movies. Pretentious and douchey as that sounds. We need to approach these films without all the baggage that being a film fan brings with it. Unfortunately, a lot of what’s released does not offer us that opportunity, instead they slap tired formulas and clichés in our faces. I guess that’s what makes this film special to me. It allowed me to experience the film, no, it gave me the privilege to do so.

I’m sure as the film continues to stick with me, I’ll be able to better articulate my thoughts about it, so count on a return to the film in the near future

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Do Not Disgrace Me: Kung Fu Cinema

I'm a big fan of Kung fu cinema, so this will serve as a big list of the films that have influenced me personally. We will return to these films in more detail one day, as well as my complete thoughts on the martial arts picture in general.

Pre Bruce Lee: The One-Armed Swordsman and Return of the One-Armed Swordsman

Bruce Lee takes over: The Big Boss, Fist of Fury, Way of the Dragon, Enter the Dragon

Shaw Brothers post Bruce Lee:
The Work of Chang Cheh and the Venom Mob: 5 Deadly Venoms Kid With the Golden Arm, 2 Champions of Shaolin, 10 Tigers of Kwangtung, Crippled Avengers

Gordon Liu: The 36th Chamber of Shaolin, Return to 36th Chamber, 8 Diagram Pole Fighter, Shaolin Mantis, Shaolin and Wu Tang

Other Shaw Brothers Productions: 5 Element Ninjas, The Avenging Eagle, Dual of the Iron Fist

Master Yuen Woo-Ping: Drunken Master, Iron Monkey, Snake in Eagle's Shadow, Tai Chi Master.

Jackie Chan, Sammo Hung, and Jet Li: Police Story Trilogy, The Magnificent Butcher, Once Upon a Time in China series, Legend of the Drunken Master, Hero, Fist of Legend and oh so much more.

Modern Day:
Most notably the work of Donnie Yen: S.P.L. Flashpoint, Ip Man, Ip Man 2, Legend of the Fist
Others outside of Hong Kong: Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, Ong Bak, The Protector, Chocolate.

There's a lot more, the biggest thing happening right now is that Wong Kar-Wai is working on his own version of the story of Ip Man called The Grandmasters with action choreography by Yuen Woo-Ping.

Everything listed here is readily available in dvd shops. The list is in NO way a complete rundown of the complete history of kung fu cinema, simply the stuff that I really dig. And yes, I would say all of it is required viewing.

Hero Worship: Wong Kar-Wai

So the weekend is over, and with it I decided to leave the world of Brian de Palma for a while. Let’s face it, so far this blog has done little more than kiss his ass and recommend movies. But it’s a new week, and there are other asses to kiss. So tonight I decided to do a bit about another director I discovered pretty recently, but dig in the strongest way.

Wong Kar-Wai is sort of known as the antithesis of what the Hong Kong Film industry is known for. It’s almost become a cliché that every film that comes out of Hong Kong, particularly the ones that make it across the way over to the States fall into two categories, Martial Arts/Wuxia epics, or gritty crime dramas. I mean, consider the HK filmmakers and actors that have crossed over to the states successfully(Well, to varying degrees). John Woo, Sammo Hung, Yuen Woo-Ping(anytime his name is used in the states it says, “From the action choreographer of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and The Matrix, think back, I‘m sure you‘ve seen this somewhere), Jet Li, Jackie Chan, and even Ang Lee, who is a Taiwanese director made it into the states with Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Stephen Chow who had been working in comedies in Hong Kong for years didn’t break out in the states in a big way until he made a comedy that involved kung fu(Yes, I am talking about Kung Fu Hustle).

Now don’t get me wrong, I love all these directors and their films, in fact it was because of my love of the genre that drew me to the HK film industry in the first place. That introduced me to a new world of directors and actors I had never seen before, but promptly fell in love with. People like Ringo Lam, Johnny To, Andrew Lau, and Donnie Yen to name a few. But it’s difficult to argue, that these two genres, the crime and martial arts films(sometimes combined) dominated the output over there. It was with this mindset that I discovered Wong Kar-Wai and his emotional art house fare.

To see a Wong Kar-Wai film for the first time is at the same time a breath of fresh air, and a breathtaking experience, don’t ask me how that works. That’s regardless of whether or not your mind has a stigma against HK films like I did. Why? I believe it’s because he makes films that those of us here in the states don’t see anymore. It could certainly be argued that our output has never been anything like his films.

WKW is a romantic filmmaker, although my our standards here in the states he may seem like the most glass half empty bastard ever. His aspirations reach higher than that of the (very American) happy ending with the lovers walking into the sunset together(or was that Indy and his father?) His films generally fall into a category of unrequited love, abusive, or sometimes even mutually abusive relationships. It was through his films like Days of Being Wild, In the Mood for Love, and Happy Together that I saw the emotional power that cinema can bring to a simple relationship between two people. That’s why I was so surprised then, to realize he shoots movies without a completed script. In fact his actors often don’t know what they’re going to do until the night before or morning of.

WKW is known to leave lots of footage on the cutting room floor. He says that he has no finalized script because while he has a basic idea for the story before starting, the story evolves as they go on. So basically, a WKW story is one that is created in editing. To watch the deleted footage from one of his movies is kind of like watching scenes from a different movie altogether. Generally speaking, when you hear that a movie is going into production without a final screenplay, it means trouble, it’s because of this that I find WKW’s work so damn interesting.

WKW is also one of the big directors who influenced me personally in my views on film, particularly my view on the lowered importance of a story to the flick. His films are described like a really great album. Sure, as a whole it works well, all the pieces fit together. But within that, there are smaller moments that work by themselves, like the individual songs of the album. I find this to be a very exciting and different approach to viewing movies. Too often we base our own opinions about something based solely on one small instance(Yes, even the ending is a small instance) We get mad or, and because we’re geeks “disown” something because we dislike bits sometimes as small as a single scene. Are we really so pathetic as human beings as to have our entire opinion of a film swayed by something so small? Of course it’s all relative once again, but I do find that too often, we end up hating an entire product based on a single element. It’s like, say you love breakfast, but hate sausage. You get a big breakfast platter, three eggs, bacon, hash browns, pancakes… and sausage. Are you gonna not eat the entire meal now because it came with sausage? No, just ignore the fucking sausage and eat the rest… that meal sounds quite tasty right now actually.

Perhaps WKW’s biggest strength as a director is his ability to fuse music with the moving image. Even the most avid WKW hater has to admit his use of music is second to none. He has a theory that generally speaking, a movie has the image as a foreground piece, with music accompanying it, but sometimes, it’s nice to switch it up, and have the music front and center. When he does this, I find it creates a hypnotic effect on us as viewers that allows us to back away from the importance of the overall story for a second and enjoy the moment. The rest will happen eventually, but for now, just let what is happening on screen wash over you, you’ll have a better experience because of it.

[I wonder how many people are going to completely disregard this post because it's about a director who isn't American]

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

The Quick and the Dead: The Dvd Shop

I'm a big movie collector. I shudder to think about the sheer amount of money I've spent on my dvds and blu rays(rough estimate: Thousands). But here's the really sad fucking thing, the market is going away. Big stores are shrinking down their dvd sections to obscurity, and specialized places have been vanishing for years. I mean, when was the last time you saw a Sam Goody, or SunCoast Video? They're vanishing people.

Certainly, I mean, when shit goes bad people gotta cut out unnecessary things like dvds or music, and let's face it, with torrenting as powerful as it is, most people can get any movie they want in a matter of minutes. That's not what I'm here to talk about though, people who would consistently torrent movies were never gonna be the saving grace of home video anyway. What fucking drives me insane are the people who still spend money on dvds, but decide to do so on Amazon.

Full disclosure right now, I fucking amazon. It is the end of society as far as I'm concerned.

You see, I understand that people wanna save money nowadays. But some of this is just ridiculous. People would rather save sometimes as little as 3 dollars on a movie from amazon then go out and support specialty stores. Then they'll complain when a place like Sam Goody or Second Spin goes out of business. How in the hell did you expect it to succeed if you never supported the fucking business? It's like a guy who has never had any inclination to go to a sporting event in his life getting mad that a stadium is closing.

It's bullshit, if you're so big on saving money, then how about cutting back on the fucking dvds and spending your money elsewhere? If you still really want them, then buy fewer things at a DAMN SHOP! Instead we get people bitching about these stores vanishing while continuing to go to Amazon as the be all end all of stores.

Oh but now the store is closing so we're gonna pick over the remains like a bunch of fucking vultures, "But I'm supporting them now." Yeah, now when you can hoard over sales and the store is already completely fucked and not coming back.
A place like Amoeba in Hollywood survives because it's the only one left, and those of us who buy from stores will make the trip out there.

Who am I ranting at in this bit? It's really pretty specific, those of you who complain that stores for "us" are vanishing, while you've never really supported them in the first place. Go ahead and say I'm overreacting, cause let's face it, I am, but you guys are fucking hypocrites who can go die.

[I should state now that this should be read with a grain of salt, it's really just a little thing that annoys me and I decided to do a big ridiculous rant about it.]

Instant Queue Recommendations

Since I'm gonna do this all the way, I figure I'll do other things with this as well. This will be a quick thing where I'll recommend movies that are available on Netflix Instant Stream. Most people I know have the service, and if you don't you should really get on it. The sheer amount offered for the price is pretty staggering.

Anyway, I'll do one of these every once in a while when I find things that perhaps you may not have seen.

1. Hoop Dreams: I'm not particularly fond of basketball, but this documentary, which follows two boys from their freshman year of high school all the way through their first year of college is amazing. The filmmakers spent 5 years with these families, and the result is absolutely amazing.

2. Sisters: The film briefly mentioned earlier today. If you're feeling in the mood for a thriller with some pitch black comedy then check this out. I actually had to turn the lights back on for this flick... also, you see Lois Lane's boobies.

3. Yojimbo: Come on, this is just one you need to see. The samurai flick that influenced A Fistful of Dollars.

4. Happy Together: This Hong Kong flick is still one of the best depictions of a mutually abusive relationship I've ever seen. Won Wong Kar-Wai the best director award at the Cannes Film Festival.

5. Mean Streets: Scorsese's first big flick, and the film that defined how people saw him as a director. It's amazing how many people use the term Mean Streets to describe his crime flicks without ever having actually seen it.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Dressed to Kill & a Whole Lot You Didn't Ask For

So after my lengthy ass kissing of Mr. De Palma last night, I figured it was only right that we actually focus in on one of his films. Initially I was going to talk about the last film I saw, which would be Sisters. But I decided instead to talk about Dressed to Kill, which is, to date, his only film I’ve seen in a cinema. I feel that, particularly with a visual director like De Palma, seeing it in a cinema helps add so much to the experience. It also helps if it’s part of a double bill with Hitchcock’s Frenzy. God that was a great night, thanks again to Mr. Edgar Wright for hosting his season at the New Beverly Cinema. Anywhoo, I’ve wasted enough of your time with the intro, so let’s dive into it.

If I were in some ridiculous situation where I had a person who could only watch one De Palma film for the rest of his life, and I had to choose it, certainly, there’s be a lot to consider. Obviously, one of them would have to be Carrie, another would have to be Blowout. I mean, those are just great, great films. But I think in the end, it would have to be Dressed to Kill.


Well I mean, I don’t think there is a better example of all the De Palma storytelling techniques and visual flair than there is here. With this, we have the beautiful, long uninterrupted takes. We have the great scenes of tension which have absolutely no dialogue. We have Pino Donaggio’s hypnotic score. We have De Palma working in his element of the Thriller/Horror/Nearly trashy flick, and we have some of the most amazing split screen work ever. I mean that, this isn’t some fan boy exaggeration, Dressed To Kill has some of the best split screen work in the history of cinema.

De Palma is often accused of putting story second to the technique, and while sometimes this may be true, that would not be the case here. What we get is this sort of Psycho/Vertigo fusion, but to simply call it that would be a disservice. The flick is it’s own thing entirely.

One thing you will notice in these little things I write is that I will usually spend very little to no time at all talking about the actual plot of the movie. I mean, you can get that anywhere, and I don’t want to accidentally spoil anything for you. The purpose of these bits is not so much to review the film, but to discuss them in a general manner. So you can read these and take them as a recommendation, or watch them and come back and maybe notice something new. Also, see how I totally stopped talking about the movie to do this blurb? Don’t expect much structure here either.

Anyway, aside from my obvious love of the technique of the story, why else is this the ultimate De Palma flick in my opinion? Well, one thing I’ve started paying more and more attention to in certain movies, is the hypnotic approach director’s take to present the material. Certainly we still see it today from filmmakers like Darren Aaronofsky, but it has to be said that the visual nature of cinema has taken a back seat to story. Now don’t take this the wrong way, I’m not saying story is bad or anything, but I mean, is it too much to ask that we get filmmakers who know what the fuck they’re doing behind the camera? It’s like Ridley Scott says, “…for God’s sake, I’m not producing a Radio 4 Play… I’m making a movie that people are going to look at.” I’m starting to realize why Independent Cinema can’t win Best Picture, cause, and I’m speaking on a very big generalization here, but while they excel at story and character, technique and visuals seem to completely disappear. Instead we get the same damn over the shoulder shot, again and again.

Sorry, I’ve completely swayed from the point once again. What I’m saying is, this film, Dressed To Kill, has the great story and characters, and infuses it with absolutely beautiful, hypnotic sequences. Not to mention some of the greatest moments of intensity I’ve seen in a while. Without spoiling anything for you, I will say, that a shot with nothing but empty shoes has never been so damn scary.

So there we have some quick thoughts on Dressed to Kill, as the site stays around longer there will be fewer distracting asides, and perhaps more focus on the actual topics. For now though, consider all the extra stuff special features. If anybody has any thoughts please post in the comments and we can further discuss the flick.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Hero Worship: Brian De Palma

This originally started as a discussion about Brian De Palma's Sisters, with a brief bit about the director himself in the beginning, but then I started talking about him and basically didn't stop. So what we have here instead is a ridiculously long piece of me kissing Brian De Palma's ass. I had considered editing this thing down and adding my bit about Sisters, but then that would go against the whole reason I started this blog, which was for me to have an outlet to discuss films in a completely free manner. Since I am talking to no one in particular(most likely no one at all), I can speak very freely about my true opinions towards movies and movie makers, without having to pretend I like/dislike a certain film/director for the sake of not getting into a pointless argument.
So here we go:

I have a confession. When I first started watching films by Brian De Palma, I didn’t really care for them, which led to not caring too much for the man himself. This was a few years ago. Flash forward to today and not only do I absolutely love him, I find him to be one of the most unique and talented directors, pretty much ever. What happened?

Well I put the blame on two different factors. First was the buildup and anticipation for his films which put me at a point where I had to be disappointed. For a fan of the crime and gangster genre, you would not believe the amount of times I’m asked if I’ve seen Scarface. (Answer: About 6) And the same can be said for The Untouchables as well. So when I finally saw them I found that neither particularly wowed me. I mean, you ask random people on the street what the great crime films are, and those two titles will come up about as often The Godfather and Goodfellas. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I dug the films at the time, but found something lacking. More on that later.

The other issue which led to my distaste for De Palma early on was the simple fact that I WAS NOT WATCHING DE PALMA MOVIES! I mean, sure, Scarface and The Untouchables are De Palma movies, but not, you know, truly. De Palma is a man known for working in a pulp thriller/horror genre, and here I was watching crime epics. I’ve been told that his films fit into two basic categories, his Horror/Thrillers, often inspired by The Master of Suspense himself. Or his studio hired output. While nowadays I don’t see any dip in quality between the films, one has to admit it just seems like De Palma is more at home when working in his genre of choice. Although of course he gives nothing less than a hundred percent for any film he works on. You can practically feel the intense care put into every scene of his movies.

So anyway, at some point I rewound on De Palma and started again. This was sparked by a screening of Carrie, which is nowadays one of my favorite movies, and something I find truly scary. That was when I started on my (sort of) research of him and found out about his films and style. His love for Hitchcock and visual storytelling, and discovered that I had become enamored with his work. Long hypnotic tracking shots and masterful use of split screen were among the things that drew me to him like a bulimic person to a toilet.

It is my belief that in every single De Palma film, there is something beautiful and amazing, which makes the flick worth your time, even if the story itself isn’t particularly stellar. Take for example the opening to Snake Eyes. People may dislike the story being told, and as a result the movie itself, but damn if that opening isn’t impressive as hell. Even masterful tracking shots like the restaurant entrance from Goodfellas has to bow down to the beauty presented on screen here. The same can be said about The Bonfire of the Vanities, Mission: Impossible, and even Mission to Mars. And you know what? The heist sequence in Soderbergh’s Ocean’s Eleven was great, the one in De Palma’s Femme Fatale is better. And these are just his films that aren’t universally hailed as absolutely mind bendingly amazing.

As much as critics like to hold on to this thought that De Palma splits critics down the middle, you have to admit that when he’s on, he’s more unstoppable than that train in Unstoppable. Carrie, Sisters, Dressed to Kill, Carlito’s Way, Body Double, Scarface, The Untouchables, The Fury, Obsession… these are movies that any director would kill for. And then consider the magnificence on display in these movies, the “figure 8” shot in Carrie, the final sequence in Dressed to Kill and Carlito’s Way, the entirety of Body Double. Let’s see, how should I put this? This… this is the good shit.

De Palma has often been accused of being little more than a Hitchcock clone, but when I look at his films, I see the pure amount of joy that a movie can bring. I see a director who cares about the visual aspect of the film as much as the commercial or storytelling aspects. And you know what, as De Palma himself has said, Hitchcock is the best there is in the Thriller genre, if you want to be successful, then you’re gonna borrow from the master, and that’s exactly what he does. His friends, Spielberg, Scorsese, Lucas and Coppola consider him the master, and simply put, Brian De Palma is the balls.

[I realized reading this again that while I said "more on that later" several paragraphs up, I did not in fact go back to it. Maybe next time]

Facebook Carryovers: Ten Favorite Westerns

So I'm cheating a bit with my first post being something carried over from my notes on facebook, but being that this blog is just an extension of what I was already doing there, I figured it made sense to put some of that stuff here as well.

You see I watch things in waves. What I mean by this is that I'll get really into a director, or genre, and for a while that's all I'll watch. Currently I'm really digging Brian De Palma, so when I put up a first post proper, expect it to probably be something by him. But anyway, this list was made when I was really deep into the Western Genre, which was actually sparked by playing Red Dead Redemption... Go figure. Anyway, here's the original note, with one notable change. I took out The Outlaw Josey Wales for Sam Raimi's The Quick and the Dead.

Check it out:

With my current obsession in Western flicks, I decided to make a quick top ten list of my favorites. Let's first get the obvious out of the way, The Searchers is not on this list, neither is Tombstone, although it's certainly ridiculous to even utter those two flicks as being anywhere near the same league. Once again this list will not be in numerical order, I'm just gonna list them alphabetically.

For a Few Dollars More: I don't think the middle chapter gets as much recognition as it deserves. This flick actually has my favorite standoff of all time.

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly: If I had to choose one movie here as my favorite, it would be this one. I mean, it was the flick that made me finally fall in love with Westerns.

High Noon: Watched it for the third time today, and it still continues to amaze me how different this film was. I love that we have an actual human character, as opposed to the glorified heroes that we see in Eastwood and John Wayne.

The Magnificent Seven: It took me forever to even getting around to watching this because I knew I would have an unfair bias towards this because of Seven Samurai, but when I finally did a few months ago, I was surprised and just how much fun I had with this flick. Plus, I mean, everyone was losing their minds when they heard that The Expendables was going to star a bunch of manly men, well this flick did it first. I mean, Steve Mcqueen, Charles Bronson, James Coburn, Eli Wallach, and a bad ass turn by Yul Brynner... this, is the good shit.

Once Upon a Time in the West: If we stripped everything down, and didn't waste time breaking things into categories like Classical Westerns, Spaghetti Westerns, Contemporary Westerns and all the rest, this one probably stands up above the rest as the absolute best the complete genre could offer, and it's a film I can watch over and over again.

The Quick and the Dead: This may be an odd choice but I really dig the film. The Western, as defined by John Ford or Sergio Leone is a thing of beauty, often with long held shots of breathtaking scenery. This film however, switches that up for the pure energy of Sam Raimi, one of the most distinctly visual directors of our time. Also, if your favorite part of the Western is the final stand off, then this one flick is your wet dream.

The Proposition: The Australian flick by John Hillcoat is certainly one of the most intense films in the genre. Also, what an interesting dilemma, he has to kill his older brother, in order to save his younger one. Man, being the middle child must really suck.

Rio Bravo: Confession time, yes this is the only film on my list starring The Duke, but damn, I love this film so much I don't feel all too guilty about it. Here he stands as the ultimate Western hero, and the complete opposite of Gary Cooper's character in High Noon, and it's awesome. Also, that scene when Dean Martin and Ricky Nelson sing together, I actually start to tear up a little, every time.

Unforgiven: Is any Western list complete without Unforgiven? It's the film Gran Torino wants to be, and the perfect final chapter to the Western in general.

The Wild Bunch: Now I have to admit, for most of the film, I do find it pretty dull. I found it really difficult to care about the characters in any capacity, with the exception of Ernest Borgnine. BUT, this film is beautifully crafted and extremely gritty, with some of the best shootouts ever.