Category Archives: Cinematographicalicious

Film &c.

Dummy Is Polished Wood

I’ve been watching a lot of films with Adrien Brody of late (since a certain princess I know really likes him). I was surfing a film site and noticed that he stared in a film along side Milla Jovavich. I had never heard of the film, called Dummy, but I figured with those two in the lead roles I could do worse.

Dummy
Dummy

Very pleasantly I would have a hard time having done better. It’s a great and heart-felt movie worth every penny I doled out for the used DVD. Terrifically personal and passionate, it will make a fine edition to my permanent collection.

It’s one of those little gems we all love to discover: obscure, independent, and magnificent. Get thee to the video store!

Move your ass!

JamesIsIn

Rocket Me Bottle!

I’m a big Wes Anderson fan and have been since I took a chance and bought Rushmore on DVD.  He’s really quite good at making movies.

A friend insists that Bottle Rocket is his best film.  I finally bought a copy on Blu-ray and have now watched that great film.

Bottle Rocket
Bottle Rocket

I think what makes this a great film is that you get to see Wes Anderson and the Wilson brothers at the very beginning.  There are flaws in the film which they correct in later films, but this film really shows the talents that were waiting down in Texas aching to explode on the big screen.

If you also enjoy Wes Anderson films, you will likely also enjoy Bottle Rocket.  I can’t say it’s for everyone though.  If you were going to pick only one Wes Anderson film to watch I would probably still recommend Rushmore.

Now this Criterion Collection Blu-ray has some excellent extras thrown in for fun.  It does have the original Bottle Rocket short film which Wes and Co sent to Sundance.  Also there are a host of cut scenes from the film which are interesting to watch (if you are into film making as a craft).

The best gem of the lot though is a documentary film called Murita Cycles by Barry Braverman.  (I understand this is also included on the 2 DVD Criterion Collection set as well.)

There you have it. Not my most exciting review, but you know what you need to know. Get busy.

Thanks for reading.

JamesIsIn

Everyone Should Have a Big Night

My brother gave me a couple of DVD’s a while back and I’m just now getting to watching this last of them. A film with Ian Holm, Stanley Tucci, Minnie Driver, and Isabella Rossellini (a woman so beautiful she could do me), it is called Big Night.

Big Night
Big Night

It’s basically the story of two Italian brothers who come to the States seeking to make their fortunes as restaurateurs. Things are not going well and they begin to reach out for other ways to succeed, each brother in his own manner. The brothers represent a variety of polar opposites and the interplay between them and between all the characters is well done.

Essentially it is a story about food and should be placed on a shelf along with Babette’s Feast, Tampopo (Dandelion), and Chocolat (with Juliette Binoche, meow).

The story itself is caught somewhere between Tampopo and Waiting for Godot. It is a rich philosophical film filled with brain candy. And the food will make you hungry. I especially liked the timpani. (You can find an example of this dish here and here, the second probably being more closely authentic.)

Get to it, kiddies. The couch is waiting.

JamesIsIn

Let’s Talk Zombies or Get Thee to a Video Store

For whatever reason I have watched a host of zombie and other horror films, some good and some bad, and I feel compelled to talk about several of them.  You may have already seen my review of Fido.  Maybe you have even picked up your own copy.  Good for you.  I hope you enjoy these other recommendations (and avoid these stinkers) too.

Last night I watched a great Swedish Norwegian (oops, thanks Martin) contribution to zombie horror called Dead Snow (Død snø).  You think “oh, zombies; that’s bad” and then you think “oh, Nazis; that’s bad” and then you think “Nazi zombies? We are so fucked”.  So much evil; so little time.  This film pays homage to several films in zombie history.  You could make a drinking game of it.  (Even a bit of a nod to Pirates of the Caribbean and Pulp Fiction.)  Definitely watch this film.  Hot Swedish Norwegian girls in the snow.

Buy Dead Snow.

There is a New Zealand contribution to zombie horror our there called Black Sheep.  This one skirts that taboo known as genetic engineering.  I realize you may not think highly of the idea of zombie sheep, but this film works to please on several levels.  And you get to see a vegan-animal-advocate-hippie turned raw meat carnivore.  Rent or buy this one as soon as possible.  You won’t think of wool the same way again.

Buy Black Sheep.

Remember not to get on any plane carrying a coffin and a fugitive pursued by the CIA.  This is the setup for the film Flight of the Living Dead: Outbreak on a Plane and it is just like it sounds: a marvelous blending of Snakes on a Plane and Night of the Living Dead.  You may or may not enjoy this one.  Decent budget.  Easy sets (they are on a fucking plane).  Well acted throughout.  If you enjoyed its two name-sakes, you’ll likely get a great kick out of this one.  Watch it if you can.

Flight of the Living Dead
Flight of the Living Dead

Buy Flight of the Living Dead or rent it.

I watch the bad films so that you don’t have to.  Unless you are into that sort of thing.

Not a zombie flick but rather an alleged vampire film, Fist of the Vampire (which gave me high hopes with the title) just didn’t live up to, well, anything.  Poor acting, meager fight choreography, odd video editing, and bizarre special effects choices inconsistently spread through the film.  You could tell when the actors had their teeth in because they developed lisps.  This is a film to laugh at—not with.  On the plus side there is a lot of gratuitous boob action and some unnecessary lesbian fantasies.  Don’t spend your money here.  And if you do watch it, remember I tried to warn you.

Just because you have a small budget doesn’t mean you can’t kick some zombie ass.  The creators of Special Dead must have been giddy to see the final cut roll.  It was a romp so wrong it must be right.  A zombie outbreak at a special persons camp.  Surprisingly well acted.  I guess they took the advice of Kirk Lazarus seriously and didn’t go “full retard”.  There is so much to love in this low-budget instant classic I’m at a loss where to begin.  The electric chainsaw extension cord problem?  The campfire song?  You have to see it to believe it.  You have to see it.  Don’t come crying to me if you tear out your stitches watching this one.  But watch it.  Give them some money.  They deserve it.

Buy Special Dead or rent it.

(You may have trouble finding a copy of Special Dead to buy as it looks to be out of print.)

Megan Fox is hot.  There is no other reason to watch Jennifer’s Body.  Seriously.  I guess it’s some sort of werewolf film sans fur.  Terrible.  Except she’s so hot.  No nudity but plenty of hot body action.  And some unnecessary lesbian fantasies.

I heard a reading from Dracula’s Guest on Selected Shorts (NPR) and noticed that same title on a torrent site.  I gave it a chance.  Don’t bother.  The film is not worth your time.  I want my 82 minutes back.

More psychological thriller, The Collector was ok.  If you are into boo style horror, you might like this.  I found it had too many silly plot points to make it any good.  You know, something happens and you ask yourself “why the fuck would anyone ever do that?”.  And the psycho character would never have been able to arrange these Home Alone traps in the time allotted (or maybe ever).  I can’t say terrible, but I can’t say good either.  You’re on your own on this one.

In the tradition of undead horrors, we come to The Haunting of Winchester House.  I’m not clear if the authors ever visited the Winchester mansion or if they actually knew anything about the history that you wouldn’t read on the back of a post card, but they did an acceptable job of creating a film.  I love watching films like this because it encourages me to think I too could make a film and get it distributed.  The ghosts are suspiciously zombie-like.  Tons of plot holes.  Much silliness within their attempts at seriousness.  Not that interesting to me, but again if you like boo style horror you might be entertained.  The ending would make M. Night Shyamalan proud.

What’s better than vampires?  Lesbian vampires, of course.  The film Lesbian Vampire Killers follows two friends (think Shaun of the Dead) who decide to vacation in the English countryside for a bit of relaxation and beer.  The only problem is that they vacate to a village cursed by a medieval vampire queen where all the girls are transformed into lesbian vampires when they turn 18.  Add four hot foreigners who have traveled to this village Mystery Machine style specifically to investigate the legends.  How can you possibly go wrong?  Buy this film.  You will not regret it. Packed from end to end with unnecessary lesbian fantasies.

Lesbian Vampire Killers
Lesbian Vampire Killers

Buy Vampire Killers.

(The American release is titled simply Vampire Killers.  Apparently it was more important to remove that horrible word from the title than to preserve any plot connection.  Fucking puritans.)

And finally Zombieland.  Big budget horror often leaves me cold, but this could be the finest hour for both Bill Murray and Woody Harrelson.  Definitely worth the price of admission.

Hope that helps you along your horror path.  Remember: keep your machete sharp and your chainsaw fueled.

JamesIsIn

Addicted to Spastic Plastic?

A while back I did a post concerning the fascinating plastic island out in the pacific (that’s a bad thing, by the way).  More recently I watched a documentary on plastics that I want to promote.

The film is called Addicted to Plastic.  There is no normal US distribution for this film and so you’d have to drop about $300 to get your copy on DVD.

You might try your local rental outlet to see if they have it available.  However, not everyone has access to a Scarecrow Video (who has everything).  I was able to find a copy through bittorrent.

It’s a must watch for anyone involved or interested in the debates over the environment, petroleum, or health.

Check it out and let me know what you think.

JamesIsIn

Long Live the Death of Pan and Scan

What year is this?  Oh, yeah.  Two thousand ten.  That’s way past Space: 1999.  And yet you can still make the mistake of buying or torrenting a so called Full Frame or Full Screen version of a film that was originally shot in a wider aspect ratio.

You can’t even buy a new 4×3 television to watch it on.

Let’s talk about that name for a moment.  Full Frame or Full Screen.  Like you’re getting all of something: FULL.  It ought to be called Cropped Screen or Cropped Frame.  You’re losing sometimes nearly half your screen real-estate through Pan and Scan.  So if we think of a motion picture as being half video and half audio, the distributor is cheating you out of a quarter of the film you just bought.

If you downloaded it via torrent you might think that you only wasted your time (or more accurately that someone else wasted your time), but damn it: time is money.   Either way you’re wasting little bits of your life, and you’re not giving the film makers their due.

To be fair there are plenty of films and shows that were originally shot such that they can legitimately claim the title Full Frame.

Any film shot prior to the invention and wide-spread use of anamorphic lenses and other wide screen techniques for instance—let’s say the early 1950’s—will not be a wide screen aspect ratio.  Any television show shot before the general acceptance of the inevitability of wide screen television—slowly over the last several years—will not be in a wide screen aspect ratio (Mork and Mindy, The Avengers).  These shows and films were shot in and should be presented in a Full Frame or 4×3 (or thereabouts) aspect ratio(s).

For anything shot in a wide screen aspect ratio, it’s time to bury (though not mourn) Pan and Scan.

(Pan and Scan being the technique whereby wide screen films are butchered converted into Cropped Frame versions.)

There are some great examples of how badly Pan and Scan can mangle a film.  One of my favorites turns the Fab Four into the Fab Three and cuts Old Fred in half:

Yellow Submarine
Yellow Submarine

Good-bye Pan and Scan; you will not be missed.

It’s the lash for any of ye caught with Full Frame booty.

(A quick search would suggest that one cannot buy Blu Ray Full Frame movies.  C’est vrai?  Enfin!)

How Blindness Lets You See

If you have not yet experienced Blindness, either the film or the novel, I encourage you to pick up your preferred version and get to experiencing.

I love and hate recommending this kind of movie.  I love it because it will have such a dramatic impact on your lives.  I hate it because I can’t really tell you anything about it beforehand.

All I can really say is that it is a film about people who suddenly go blind and about the world which this particular and peculiar change creates.  Rest assured it will, like any well crafted piece of art, allow you insights heretofore unobtainable.

Don’t hesitate.  I know a good tale when I see one.

Digital Copy Coasters Cost More

You may have noticed that a lot of movies are offering a second or third disc in their multi-disc offerings which include what they are calling Digital Copy. But, really, what the fuck is Digital Copy?

I mean, for starters, the DVD or Blu-ray is already a digital copy of the film.  What’s so special about the capital letter version?  I read a good article that goes into a modest level of detail for being about a page long, and I encourage the curious to follow that link.

In a nut shell, you are paying around $10 for an extra disc which contains a version of the film you are purchasing which you can then play on your computer or portable device.

“But, Jimbo, I can already play DVD’s (or Blu-rays) on my computer.”

Mostly everyone can play DVD’s on their computers, and certainly anyone can rip a DVD into a format that can be transfered to a portable device (avi, mkv, mpg, &c).  So now you can ask yourself what you or anyone else might need with Digital Copy.  I mean beyond the obvious “I’m lazy and someone already did it for me” route.

But suppose you really are lazy and would like to simplify this shrinking and portability problem.  Then you should certainly steer clear of Digital Copy.

They are using a scheme of digital rights management that will restrict you to use your purchased movie on one device (iTunes or Windows Media Player or your portable device—not all three).  Further, if you have a problem (like a hard drive failure) you are likely to lose your precious Digital Copy and have no reasonable recourse to reclaim it.

(The article I linked to above has some great personal stories of lost Digital Copy in the comments.)

What I find rather irksome is that with many of the new Blu-ray discs coming out, your only choice is a version which includes Digital Copy.  You cannot opt out of that Digital Copy tax in your purchase negotiations.

It’s these damned marketers at it again.  They tout Digital Copy like it’s the greatest thing since chapter selection, but then they hand you a spoonful of honey to which all the flies have already adhered.

Yum.

Oh, and if you’ve already purchased some Digital Copy, you can use them as a nice set of movie themed coasters at your New Year’s party.  I am.

JamesIsIn

What Does a Heart Weigh?

A lot less than seven pounds. A good hunk of meat, that. You could get seven pounds of beef for maybe twenty bucks.  A human heart comes in at perhaps 10 ounces.

But if your heart is broken, how can you go about getting a new one?

Congenital heart disease is no fun, to be sure.  I have just watched a film that works a cure on many levels.  This is a film not to be missed.  I really can’t tell you much about it as it would only detract from the seeing of it.

So, let me just say go buy or rent your copy of Seven Pounds.  Go.

No regrets.

Set The Spanish Prinsoner Free

I have just finished watching a film from 1997 called The Spanish Prisoner.  Special thanks goes to my brother for not merely recommending this film but for gifting me a copy so that I was nearly forced to sit down and watch the thing.

It is an excellent mix of temptation, corporate espionage, intrigue, and Kafka-esque hidden alleys.  As with so many of the finest who-done-its, the film allows the viewer a certain amount of leeway so that we are able chin-scratch along side those in the film who are chin-scratching, and working out who is scratching chin and who is duping whom is an important part of that process.

Would I call it film noir?  Maybe so.

The dialog seems like it comes from a play.  I don’t know what that means to anyone else but it means something to me.  Like the dialog is richer and yet more carefully planned.  At first I thought the acting was a bit stilted but as the film progressed I realized the actors were playing parts of people who were themselves pretending.  In short, don’t be put off by the first ten minutes of the film.  You’ll fail to get at what needs to be gotten at.

So, go watch it.  Or bring me a pizza and we can watch it here.  I’m flexible.