Tuesday, June 14, 2011
Fool's Views (5/30 – 6/12)
Looks like we leaned a little heavier in the civilian quarter this time around, primarily because I had loaded up my Netflix queue with all the flicks I had missed from the past couple years, and then the themes kept coming…and you know how the Foolish Doc loves his themes.
Not to worry, there’s more frightful fare to come as the summer kicks into full swing. In the meantime, grab a lemonade and a dog, kick back and view the Views.
As always, feel free to toss in your two cents worth – we’ll make sure you get some change back.
SEEING DOUBLE #8: FOOL ME ONCE, FOOL ME TWICE:
April Fool's Day (1986) (2nd viewing) d. Walton, Fred
Once upon a time, the original AFD was one of my most hated horror flicks I’d ever seen. I found it perfectly appalling that fright fans had to endure the predictably goofy hijinks of a group of co-eds off on a secluded island as they were picked off one by one…only to discover in the end that no one, but NO ONE actually got killed. Which means that the crappy makeup effects that we were seeing were also being seen (and bought) by the onscreen characters. However, a lot of blood has gone under the bridge since then, my tolerance level has gone way up, with the upshot being that it’s no longer quite as offensive. In fact, it’s now almost charming. Still not really a good movie, however, even for a slasher. With Deborah Foreman, Amy Steel and Thomas F. Wilson (Biff from Back to the Future!)
April Fool's Day (2008) (1st viewing) d. Butcher Brothers, The
I’ll ease up on the spoilers for the so-so remake, but suffice to say, the effects are better, even though the “mystery elements” as to which victims are actually dead or not are fairly transparent. What’s interesting is how the Brothers (Mitchell Altieri, Phil Flores) have made every single character so completely unsympathetic that it’s impossible to invest in anyone’s eventual fate, in particular lead rich bitch Taylor Cole. Despite the fact that the script is attributed to Mikey Wigart “based on the original screenplay by Danilo Bach and the original screenplay by The Butcher Brothers,” which certainly smacks of studio interference, the character interpretations lie firmly at the feet of the directors, and these are what rubbed me wrong.
SLICING SIBLINGS DOUBLE FEATURE:
Hamiltons, The (2006) (1st viewing) d. Butcher Brothers, The
A fitfully paced but relatively engaging story about a family of well-adjusted sociopaths who move into the neighborhood, then proceed to abduct and murder a bevy of locals. Problems arise when youngest family member Cory Knauf starts to wonder about the appropriateness of his blood’s bloodletting activities, especially when he starts to fall for one of the recent captives. Flawed but not without its rewards.
Violent Kind, The (2010) (1st viewing) d. Butcher Brothers, The
Biker toughs Cory Knauf and Bret Roberts head out to a secluded cabin for birthday celebrations and a little R&R, only to have Tiffany Shepis go full-blown demonic possession on them. This in itself would be plenty for any self-respecting gorefest, but the Brothers aren’t satisfied with a straightforward narrative, and this proves to be the film’s stumbling point. Around the halfway mark, an entirely different set of antagonists with vague intentions is introduced, with the whole thing muddling along like a poor man’s David Lynch pic until its nihilistically inconclusive conclusion. That said, there’s a lot of good going on here, and while I’m not entirely convinced the boys have a strong clear vision behind the wackadoo, I’m willing to see what else they’ve got in store for audiences and their ever-growing ensemble of regular players (in addition to Knauf, Taylor Cole, Joseph McKelheer, Samuel Child, and Mackenzie Firgens have all appeared in two or more of their last three features).
Hamlet 2 (2008) (1st viewing) d. Fleming, Andrew
Holy schneike, with 750 theatre-type Facebook friends and countless other film fanatics within reach, why did no one tell me about this movie? Steve Coogan is hilarious as a failed actor-turned-high school teacher whose theatre program is on the chopping block, prompting the last ditch (musical!) staging of the titular sequel to Shakespeare’s classic. Great ensemble work from David Arquette, Catherine Keener, Marshall Bell, Amy Poehler and a crew of fresh young faces. Bawdy, Bardy goodness.
Dukes of Hazzard, The (2005) (1st viewing) d. Chandrasekhar, Jay
Yes, I watched the TV show on occasion, I like Johnny Knoxville, it had Burt Reynolds in it… And yet, this was so very, very, very, very unfunny. Not entertaining in the least. The best thing about the entire rental experience was the slightly prurient pleasure of seeing Jessica Simpson’s “These Boots Are Made for Walking” video as a special feature, also available on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DPtfsk4ETjM
I’LL TAKE THE ONE ON THE LEFT:
Lions for Lambs (2007) (1st viewing) d. Redford, Robert
Painfully earnest yet ultimately flaccid three-horned diatribe against the U.S.’s military involvement in Afghanistan, with Meryl Streep’s liberal reporter tangling with Tom Cruise’s smooth Republican senator while Redford’s college professor goads student Andrew Garfield (and the audience) to emotionally invest in the country’s future. All the while, downed special ops Michael Pena and Derek Luke attempt to hold out against enemy troops after their mission goes awry. Preachy instead of prickly, inspiring more debate over the movie’s flaws than the political situations presented.
W. (2008) (1st viewing) d. Stone, Oliver
Stone’s treatment of George W. Bush as a good ol’ boy partyhound eternally lookin’ to please Papa seems dangerously reductive, and his all-star cast of Bush cabinet lookalikes (sometimes not so much) are ill served by spectacularly unrealistic dialogue. However, Josh Brolin’s uncanny channeling of the 43rd President from his rowdy college cheerleader days through his brow-furrowed second term is the real reason to watch – it’s too bad he didn’t have a better movie to play in. Making Bush, Jr. alternately a victim or a buffoon seems to undercut any message Stone is attempting to present.
EASTWOOD IN THE DIRECTOR’S CHAIR:
Play Misty for Me (1971) (2nd viewing) d. Eastwood, Clint
Squint’s directing debut, and a rock solid thriller it is. Jessica Walter, known to modern audiences as boozy matriarch Lucille Bluth from TV’s Arrested Development, burns up the celluloid as the kooky krazy fatal attraction to Eastwood’s easycoming, easygoing jazz disc jockey. Donna Mills is the “other woman” who draws Walters’ jealous ire, and frequent Clint collaborator Don Siegel turns up as the friendly bartender Murphy.
Letters from Iwo Jima (2006) (1st viewing) d. Eastwood, Clint
Gorgeously photographed and well performed telling of the fateful WWII battle from the Japanese side, although it feels more like co-producer Steven Spielberg’s hands and eyes than anyone else’s.
Gran Torino (2008) (1st viewing) d. Eastwood, Clint
Simplistic urban fantasy has Eastwood’s racist Korean war veteran embrace his (naturally) Korean neighbors courtesy of an only-in-the-movies turn of events. Not nearly as clever or well executed in exploiting Clint’s onscreen fading tough guy persona as, say, Unforgiven or In the Line of Fire. Not to mention that while he’s quite good when drawing from the Hollywood well, the two-time Oscar winner is less successful in casting unknowns – substandard performances across the board.
KINGSLEY FOR A DAY:
Elegy (2008) (1st viewing) d. Coixet, Isabel
Wackness, The (2008) (1st viewing) d. Levine, Jonathan
Quite the year 2008 was for the Oscar-winning-turned-Hollywood-check-cashing Brit, with a pair of wildly different yet equally fascinating portrayals of men in their declining years. Elegy presents Sir Ben as an acid-tongued seducer of young female students, the latest of which being Penelope Cruz, whose frank sensuality and inherent goodness upends his controlled existence. Meanwhile, Wackness (from All the Boys Love Mandy Lane director Levine) allows the Shakespearan veteran the opportunity to let his freak flag fly as a pot-smoking therapist who strikes up a kinship with teenage dealer Josh Peck…until he learns that Peck has romantic designs upon his stepdaughter Olivia Thirlby. Of the two, the latter is more entertaining and vibrant, though there are some exquisitely nuanced scenes (not to mention gorgeous Cruz flesh) on display in Coixet’s well-crafted drama.
2011 totals to date: 238 films, 143 1st time views, 113 horror, 14 cinema