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August 25, 2005

The Americanization of Emily (1964)

IMDB: The Americanization of Emily (1964)

This Arthur Hiller anti-war film has lost none of it's power in the 40 years since it's initial release. I believe I first saw it in the 70's while in college and after seeing 'The Great Escape' became forever a fan of James Garner. His character was actually quite similar in both films, but two more different pictures you'd be hard pressed to find.

The Paddy Chayefsky treatment of the William Bradford Huie novel is quite exceptional. For a black comedy, the dialogue retains a sublime nature, memorable, while entertaining.

I still, to this day, can't see why Julie Andrews was cast as the love interest in the film, but she does a decent bit of work and seeing her popularity level during that timeline, I guess the studios thought her to be a good pick.

Rating: 7

Posted by mark at 07:50 PM | Comments (0)

The Devil's Backbone (2001)

IMDB: The Devil's Backbone(2001), El Espinazo del Diablo

Produced by Pedro & Agustin Almodovar, and directed by Guillermo del Toro, The Devil's Backbone is an exquisitely crafted and quite beautiful ghost story.

Set in 1939, near the end of the Spanish Civil War, orphaned boys are brought to Santa Lucia School to protect them from the violence, but the school is already taxed to the limit trying to provide for the boys.

The school, run by a strong woman and her husband, a doctor, also provides shelter to a dark secret and supernatural happenings.

Carlos (Fernando Tielve), the twelve year old boy, is the latest addition to the school, and on top of trying to fit in with the school's group of boys, dominated by a bully, has to determine what, or who, is making those gasping sounds at night.

Rating: 7

Posted by mark at 07:25 PM | Comments (0)

August 13, 2005

From Dusk Till Dawn (1996)

IMDB: From Dusk Till Dawn (1996)

This Quentin Tarantino screenplay, directed by Robert Rodriguez and starring Tarantino, Harvey Keitel, George Clooney, and Juliette Lewis is one slam bang vampire killing joyride.

Two low-class criminals kidnap a preacher and his two step children for the use of their RV to reach the promised payoff location. Only problem is that the meeting place - a Mexican bar and strip club -- happens to be the favorite hidey hole of more vampires than you can shake a stick at (no pun intended).

Such challenges create interesting alliances, and much violence.

Rating: 7

Posted by mark at 03:43 PM | Comments (0)

Ripper: Letter from Hell (2001)

IMDB: Ripper: Letter from Hell (2001)

This pitiful representation of Teen scary horror has no scares, and no horror. Someone on the Net had said it had a great twist at the end. Well, it was one of those twists that most of us guess 15 minutes into the film.

Rating: 4

Posted by mark at 03:37 PM | Comments (0)

Lai wong a.k.a. Riki-Oh: The Story of Ricky (1991)

IMDB: Lai wong a.k.a. Riki-Oh: The Story of Ricky (1991)

Cheesy, gore-enriched, martial arts fun factory. Watching one of Riki's opponent's perform Hara Kiri and then using his own intestines, try to strangle Riki has got to be one of the funniest things I've seen since Peter Jackson's Braindead

Rating: 6

Posted by mark at 03:18 PM | Comments (0)

Blade Runner 10th Anniversary Edition (1982)

IMDB: Blade Runner 10th Anniversary Edition (1982)

I had to buy the VHS version of this on Ebay since there is no available DVD of the original Decker narrated version that I happen to really like.

While neither Ridley Scott nor many other fans of the film liked the studio insisted upon narration, I think the Film Noir essence it lends to the movie actually adds rather than taking away from the film.

Rating: 8

Here's something I posted Fri, 24 Jun 2005 to the Home Theater list on the proposed future DVD set:

Well, it turns out that as far back as August, 2002 Ridley Scott planned to create a Special Edition DVD set, with better sound cuts, and possibly the inclusion of the version with the narration (even though he
hated the narration -- it was put in at the insistence of the then-producers of Blade Runner) but that there was no confirmation of that.

Then, I stumbled on this interesting take from a NY Times story from one of the DVD forums. It would appear that Mr. Scott doesn't even own the complete rights to the picture, at least as far as production and
distribution are concerned:

The NY Times (13 DEC 2003) has named names on why the Blade Runner Special Edition 3-DVD set is on hold. It is their report, not mine.

They say, "The avidly awaited, definitive version of Ridley Scott's science-fiction classic, Blade Runner, won't be out on DVD anytime
soon for stranger reasons.

When Blade Runner was being shot in the early 1980's, Bud Yorkin, a veteran television comedy producer, and Jerry Perenchio, now the C.E.O. of Univision, were the film's bond-completion guarantors. When the film went over budget, by contract they assumed ownership of the film. Paul Sammon wrote in his book Future Noir: The Making of Blade Runner that they hated the film, had bitter disputes with Mr. Scott and tried to take it away from him altogether.

The studio release, in 1982, contained superfluous narration and a tacked-on rosy ending. Mr. Scott removed both when he was allowed to make a "director's cut" in 1992, but it was, by his own account, a
rush job.

Three years ago, Mr. Scott announced that he was working on a three-disc box set, which would offer all the versions of the film, including a new and polished director's cut with previously unseen footage and scads of bonus features. Then, at the end of 2001, Warner
Brothers, which was planning to distribute the discs, pulled the plug.

It did so, according to a producer who worked on the project, because Mr. Perenchio gave no sign that he would let them be released. Mr. Perenchio, speaking through an assistant, had no comment on the
situation. (Warner Brothers still sells the 1992 "director's cut," though the picture quality is mediocre.)"

Posted by mark at 02:59 PM | Comments (0)

Narrow Margin (1990)

IMDB: Narrow Margin (1990)

This remake of the 1952 William Friedkin Film Noir gem is a lesser version of the original, but still holds a sweet spot in my viewing library.

Rating: 6

Posted by mark at 02:49 PM | Comments (0)

The Narrow Margin (1952)

IMDB: The Narrow Margin (1952)

Excellent Film Noir effectively performed. Directed by William Friedkin, (The Excorcist, To Live and Die in L.A.), and starring Charles McGraw, Marie Windsor, and Jacqueline White, this original offers much more meat to sink your teeth into than the 1990 remake with Gene Hackman and Anne Archer

Rating: 7

Posted by mark at 02:39 PM | Comments (0)

Bad Taste (1987)

IMDB: Bad Taste (1987)

This is a shoestring budget comedy gore-fest co-written, produced, and directed by Peter Jackson.

If you like to laugh at exploding sheep and eating brains out of the skull bowl with a spoon, then you'll truly enjoy Bad Taste


Rating: 6

Posted by mark at 02:19 PM | Comments (0)

Braindead (1992)

IMDB: Braindead (1992)

Peter Jackson's Braindead a.k.a. Dead-Alive is the funniest, most over-the-top comedy horror show I've ever seen!

I thought Jackson's Bad Taste (1987) was pretty funny for an early work of campy gore, but Braindead is hysterical.

It is noted on IMDB as the goriest, bloodiest work to date, as in more fake blood was used than in any film before it.

Albeit, this fare is not for everyone, but if you're a fan of the Evil Dead series, you should treat yourself to Braindead

Rating: 7

Posted by mark at 02:04 PM | Comments (0)

August 05, 2005

Baise-moi (2000)

Baise-moi (2000)

This was one of those high profile independent films being called "Thelma & Louise on Steroids" and publicized for its graphic sex and lauded for the fact that it was banned in Australia.

Well, that said, this is most definitely no Irréversible (2002) even though it does share the themes of vengence, rape, and graphic sexual violence.

I found the picture boring, the characters totally non-sympathetic, and the entire storyline laughable.

There were a couple fair ultra-violent scenes, one in which the protaganists kill everyone in a sex club, but unfortunately, that's not enough flair to make up for the rest of an otherwise non-descript piece of work.

Rating: 5

Posted by mark at 09:22 PM | Comments (0)

The Beast of War (1988) aka The Beast

The Beast of War (1988) aka The Beast

Damn, this was one good war picture. I started out thinking this is a direct to video average film with a SAG scale rate cast, but after 45 minutes I really began to be enthralled by this tale of a fragmented Russian tank crew's experiences during the Afghanistan conflict.

This is much more a character study of the crew dynamics than just another action-in-the-desert storyline.

And hey, it's about a Tank, one of the coolest, the Soviet T-62 (although more than likely T-72s were used in Afghanistan)

Don't get me wrong, this is not an earth shattering dramatic piece, but the whole is much more than the sum of the parts.

Rating: 6

Posted by mark at 09:05 PM | Comments (0)

Me, Myself & Irene (2000)

IMDB :Me, Myself & Irene (2000)

This Farrelly brothers production was not critically well received when it came out, but IMHO, this is some of Jim Carey's best work, and the whole story continues to put a smile on my face.

Sure, it has dark pieces, and is most definitely *not* politically correct, but I guess that's why I really like it!

Rating: 6

Posted by mark at 08:59 PM | Comments (0)

Liar Liar (1997)

IMDB :Liar Liar (1997)

One more of Jim Carey's best examples of what makes Jim Carey so good -- the faces, the noises, the voices, the face full of teeth smile.

Rating: 6

Posted by mark at 08:55 PM | Comments (0)