Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Resuming

You may have noticed a bit of a break in posts here. Some of you might already know, but sadly my dad passed away 2 weeks ago today, and I haven't been biting at the bit to do all too much. He was a great man, and it was a shock, but as the month ends, and a new one begins, I am going to endeavor to get back on track.


Hang in there.

Sunday, 12 February 2012

ANOTHER Ringu sequel. This time, in 3D!



The Ringu franchise (or The Ring, if you're familiar with the American remakes) returns with another sequel, this time in 3D.





Sorry for the crazy sizing, but you get the idea. 


Called Sadako 3D, it is penned by the original Ringu author and is the fifth sequel in the series (as well as other adaptations and TV series). My thoughts on the trailer? The effects look pretty cheap and it looks like it's a digital film, lacking that lovely clinical film look of the other films, but that's just my first impression. It should be interesting to see Samara coming out of the TV in different dimensions (and it looks like we'll see it plenty of times!). The question is, can the curse be spread online or by DVD? Well, I believe the film is going with a different approach to cursed film, but we'll see.


Something has to be said for a film that uses a '404 Page Not Found' error as a horror beat in its trailer. I'm not sure if it counts as the right kind of horror!

Too Late: Two fantastic minutes

Here's a fantastic little short that for some reason, I was set against not enjoying when I started it, but just couldn't help being won over by its charm. Enjoy 'Too Late'!


Thursday, 9 February 2012

Did Michael Moore make one of the most terrifying films of our generation?



I know he is prone to gross exaggeration, and a lot of the time his facts are questionable, but the general consensus on filmmaker Michael Moore's 2009 film Capitalism: A Love Story seems to be that it is his most coherent film yet and can be viewed as more a thesis than a documentary. Below is the film in full.



tvxs.gr | Καπιταλισμός: μια ιστορία αγάπης by tvxorissinora



I do well not to get bogged down in politics or pretty much anything socially related here on the blog, but watching this film, I found myself more shocked, scared and moved than any horror film has caused me in a long time. The obvious answer for this is because this is not the boogeyman in the closet, this is real life.  


Though the film centres around America, it is the undoubtable story of most countries across the first world for the last few years. Moore analyses the growth of capitalism in America and, even at the behest of president Jimmy Carter, the population allowed the government to continue the consumer culture where people are more than 100% in debt, where family houses are repossessed, and where major corporations gain substantial pay outs from the deaths of employees, without sharing any of the money with the families.


This is a horror film in the truest sense in that every single person should be able to watch this and see their place in it. I understand there is a side to the argument that Moore avoids, but his displays are very persuasive, which should have you a gasp, wondering how you and your family have allowed this monetary nightmare to continue. 


If you ever wondered why people were occupying Wall Street, or why riots were breaking out all over London, then look no further. This film (and I will call it a film, not a documentary) is a harsh look at the grim reality, forcing us to wake up from the dream we spent so long comfortably laying in. I say this as someone who can completely understand the benefits that capitalism offers in theory, and the reality that has reared its head thanks to unsavory individuals. The pang of fear I feel when this film seems to bear more than just shades of George Orwell's 1984 is enough to validate it, in my opinion. Again, I am sure it is a heavy handed argument as opposed to an unbiased look into the world of capitalism, but it is still the best film by Michael Moore, a man who knows what it is we truly fear.


This is a horror film. And we are the victims.

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

The Amazing Spider-Man: Not just a big video game

Good morning all. Here is the latest trailer for the Amazing Spider-Man:





Of course I'm still hesitant because I am a big fan of Sam Raimi's series of the web slinger, but I have to admit, this trailer shows a lot of potential. Whereas the first trailer looked like an extended video game promo, this one has wit, plot and the Lizard, so that's something. Also, got to love Emma Thompson. Still not totally convinced (gritty doesn't seem applicable, and there's some plot contrivance with Peter Parker's papa), but this is at least a step in the right direction.


What do you think? Will you be getting on the red and blue spandex for Spider-Man's reappearance?

Burnt Offering: The legacy of The Wicker Man given justice



One of the greatest British horror films of all time, widely considered a cult classic, and boasting the unusual mixture of horror and musical along with the finest performance of Christopher Lee, The Wicker Man is a beast of many faces, and one that horror fans should revel in.


In light of the fast approaching sequel, and my current obsession with Mark Kermode, I have dug up (and embedded below) a fantastic documentary on the troubled making of this cult classic, entitled Burnt Offering: The Cult of The Wicker Man (originally aired in 2001)


Available on the current special edition DVD (though absent from my copy from the initial DVD release, sigh), Kermode is a well informed presenter eliciting very candid interviews and getting to the heart of the piece, with the problems between the crew (including the director and cinematographers struggle for power), the outrage of the actors (for unauthorised naked body doubles), and the sorted history of the films initial distribution, where almost 20 minutes were removed, and subsequently lost (if it wasn't for the blessing that is Roger Corman). And this is just the tip of the iceberg.


My favourite documentaries are ones that avoid any fluff and praise, and instead go straight for the jugular, with people vying to get their side of a story told, and to this end, Burnt Offering: The Cult of The Wicker Man is a resounding success. For cult film fans, or those who like some real life drama of the behind the camera variety, or as a lesson to pretty much any wannabe filmmaker, this is the documentary. Damn fine. 


Fingers crossed more of its ilk will be produced!











Monday, 6 February 2012

19 years on, is it time to reassess Jennifer Lynch's Boxing Helena?


Boxing Helena… No… No… No…

If there was ever an example of nepotism in the cinema world, this is it. David Lynch’s daughter Jennifer made this turd back in the early 90s, without a doubt only getting the chance because of daddy’s clout. I have heard good reports from her later work, but Jennifer, about 23 at the time if I’m not mistaken, was given the reigns of what turned out to be one of the most truly awful films I have ever watched.

The story centres around the hammy Julian Sands playing a surgeon obsessed with his ex, Sherilyn Fenn, of Twin Peaks fame. While picking up a bag from his mansion, she ends up getting hit by a car. Instead of bringing her to the hospital, Sands amputates her legs and keeps her in his house, under the guise of looking after her, but really just finding a way to keep her. Trying to hide her from the outside world, including a doctor who turns the other cheek so he can take Sands’ job, Fenn gets more and more agitated with Sands as her dominance over him, even in her legless state, becomes more and more apparent. Eventually, he decides to amputate her arms, in the vein of the Venus statue, leaving her to totally rely on him for survival.

Oh no... Foreshadowing...

There is a bit of a back and forth power play where Sands potentially gains the confidence he needed to overcome her, and there is a bit of possible Stockholm syndrome going on too, but I’ll be honest, the 138 words I have given to the plot are more than enough. The basics: Man obsessed with woman. Man cuts off woman’s arms and legs. Woman still doesn’t care for man.

The film this picture makes you imagine is infinitely
better than the reality.

It’s a simple but intriguing plot, not unlike exploitation like The Brain That Wouldn’t Die, except it is really, really poorly done (even by grindhouse standards). There are some great actors peppered throughout the film, but every single one phones it in with the god-awful dialogue forced into their mouths. Nothing feels naturalistic or unforced, and not in that good way that Papa Lynch is known for. It’s the perfect example of how not to deliver exposition or emotion in a script.

I hate Fenn’s character every moment she is on screen, and frankly, she deserves what she got because she decided it would be easier to demand her stalker to bring her bag to the airport, instead of popping by his place herself. And guess what? He doesn’t even bring it to the airport, so they go to his anyway. The film is full of extraneous scenes that seem to only be there to make up the running time. Several times do we watch people make phone calls we don’t need to see, or walk somewhere we don’t need to know about. Motivations are off, realism is redundant, everyone is a pain in the ass. And worst of all, every single goddamn moment is BORING. Really fucking boring.

Oh no... 'Tension'...

The script reads like a student’s first writing exercise, the way it looks is barely made-for-TV, even though it had plenty of money behind it, every cast member gets every line wrong (even Bill Paxton. How can Hudson be so rubbish?), and the film can’t decide who you should actually be routing for. Frankly, you should be routing for your DVD player to break down so you don’t have to watch more of this tripe.

Madonna was attached to the film at one point, as was Kim Basinger. Both had the sense to pull out. Honestly, how do you get a film about an obsessive ex-boyfriend amputating a beautiful woman wrong? The film tries to be art house, and fails. It tries to be dramatic, and fails. It tries to be shocking, and fails. People labelled it misogynistic, and I’d be tempted to agree, except that really, the men get just as short an end of the stick as the women, with how stupid and one dimensional they MUST be.

Ugh… I hated this film.


A final sidenote: while researching this piece, I noticed there were no critical reviews on the poster, but a logline of 'the most talked about film of the year'. Well, it was talked about because it drove Kim Basinger to bankruptcy, and there are no reviews because it's an awful film. Got to give it to them though, they were clever with how they said 'Everyone knows how bad this is'.

Saturday, 4 February 2012

Hell on Earth: Ken Russell's The Devils is up for re-evaluation



Thanks to Living Dead Girl, I am horribly obsessed with watching any material by Mark Kermode right now, mainly due to just how much our tastes intersect. I'll spare you the diatribe (for now), and just get on with saying that Kermode has provided me with ample supplements to the late great Ken Russell's The Devils.




I first saw this notorious religious/political satire just months before Russell passed away and, after finding the opening act somewhat difficult, the plot took its footing and reeled me in for what I can only describe as a one of a kind film. Centring around Oliver Reed as a Roman-Catholic priest who, ahem, gets around with the pretty ladies in his village. He finds himself challenging the Protestant majority who seek to destroy the village, but is caught up in a sexually frustrated nun claiming to be possessed thanks to the good priest, which the Protestant authorities milk and use as reason to shame Reed's character to their own ends.


Groovy...


Not for everyone, the film is fraught with explicit nudity done only as a film from the seventies could, and achieved notoriety upon release for several particularly graphic scenes, the foremost being the 'Rape of Christ sequence', where a sexually manic group (gaggle?) of nuns run around naked, tear down a giant statue of Christ on the cross and sexually molest it, under the gaze of enthralled onlookers. Needless to say, this scene, among others, caused outrage and was stricken from the prints and thought to be lost for 30 years, until Mark Kermode led a campaign that unearthed the removed pieces.


I was lucky enough to see the film with all its pieces intact, and found it to be a hilarious and thought provoking satire, finding it unlikely that the same impact could be made with scenes, such as the orgy, missing, but the film has endured for years under the specter of these missing pieces, and it is the long-suffering fans who gain from their return.


Not as weird as it seems, I swear.


The film actually moved me as much as it disgusted me, initially spitting vitriol for Oliver Reed's character, but eventually seeing the flip side of the coin where the punishment does not fit the (nonexistent) crime, seeing the spiteful hunchback nun (gloriously played by Vanessa Redgrave) stir controversy to the Protestant authorities whims, even though they know outright it is all nonsense. The film is a biting look at the unjust mixture of religion and government, the underhandedness that favours the one instead of the many, and demands the viewer to bare witness to the atrocity right in front of their face. 




I was on the edge of my seat during the trial scene (I'm trying not give much away, though you can predict the outcome once it has been set up), knowing exactly where this was all going to lead to, but all the while hoping against hope that right would prevail over wrong. This, along with an added kick in the teeth a few minutes later, is an abuse on the senses, driving home a harsh point that cannot be misunderstood. Oliver Reed's character is admirable in his resolve to look after his village, even as they turn against him, making it all the more bitter as we watch his humiliation and torture. Director Ken Russell stated this was his only political film, and by God, he got his message across.


Subtly, of course.


I could write a thesis on this film, finding it difficult to contain myself to the few words I am entering here. I am overlooking the incredible set design, the mesmerising score, and all the enigmatic performances that really have made The Devils an important film. Yes, it was bashed upon release, but most films that stir controversy are. The Devils is being re-evaluated, and it is clear that its message has not withered over time.




Now, why will it be difficult for you to see this film? Well, the uncut version of the film was absent for 30 years until it's relatively recent discovery. Though all the leg work has now been done, Warner Brothers have yet to release the definitive version of the film, shockingly. As you can hear below, it was fully expected that it would finally be out there for everyone to watch, exactly as it was always intended, and there was even an audio commentary recorded in anticipation of the release that was not to happen.





I am unsure just how good a quality the version of the film I saw was, though I do know it to be uncut. It astounds me that the release has almost made itself. The uncut and definitive print has been made, Kermode mentions an audio commentary, and he also made a brilliant hour long documentary on the film a few years ago, which you can find below. Add in a trailer, and you have a very respectable special edition. The general consensus is that the studio are worried of the controversy it may restore, but in this day and age, I doubt it would be more frowned upon than Kevin Smith's Red State. 


But decide for yourself. If you can see the film uncut in its entirety, you could do a lot worse. It will almost definitely make you consider the social implications. Below is the Hell on Earth: The Desecration and Resurrection of Ken Russell's The Devils, a fantastic and thorough retrospective on the film. I fully encourage watching the entire piece, with my favourite section being Ken Russell and some of the original cast seeing the 'Rape of Christ' scene for the first time in 30 years. It is remarkable that they have no shame or reservations about the sequence or the film itself, obviously understanding its intentions and knowing the importance that has surrounded it for all these years.


Enjoy!

















Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Mark Kermode on The Devil's Rejects

I'm a big fan of this film, and quite a Rob Zombie fan, but hilarious critic Mark Kermode brings up a very valid point that I never even considered before:





I agree totally with him, though I still enjoy the film (never even thinking of the Manson sympathising before. I suddenly feel very ignorant).