Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Fool's Views (12/24 - 12/31)

Boom. There it is.

See you in a day or so with the Year End Wrap Up Chicaneries!

As always, feel free to leave your two cents worth – we’ll make sure you get some change back.



Rare Exports (2010) (3rd viewing) d. Helander, Jelmari (Finland)

The femalien and I spent our Christmas Eve watching this awesomely dark fantasy film about the origins and resurrection of that not-so-jolly old Christmas elf from within the bowels of the frozen Finnish tundra, one that belongs on the same cult holiday counterprogramming shelf as Silent Night Deadly Night, Gremlins, and Christmas Evil. A feature-length follow up/prequel to Helander’s festival fave short films (available on YouTube HERE and HERE or as special features on the RE disc) about domesticating wild Santa Clauses, with a great cast and some impressive special effects on a relatively small $4 million budget. Now children can experience the holiday wonder of nightmarish bearded naked old men year after year.

Resident Evil: Afterlife (2010) (1st viewing) d. Anderson, Paul W.S. (USA)

Seriously, is there anything less memorable than a Resident Evil movie? I’ve seen four of the five thus far, but in reflecting upon them, I’m left with maybe one single hazy visual from each – likely a clip that I saw in a trailer. Milla Jovovich is still as comely and badass as ever, but her scratchy tough-girl voice and CGI-accented-wire-fu seems to be running on autopilot these days. Like watching someone play a videogame for 90 minutes: the whizbang might elicit an approving grunt from time to time, but the mental caloric value is a big ol’ goose egg.

Zombies of the Stratosphere (1952) (1st viewing) d. Brannon, Fred C. (USA)

A charmingly far-fetched and full-blooded Republic sci-fi serial based on the premise of those pesky green-skinned Martians plotting to obliterate the Earth and occupy its spot within the sun’s orbit. Talk about rude. Broken into 12 chapters, each concluding with a lively cliffhanger (usually a vehicle of some sort – car, speedboat, iron ore car – exploding or flying over a cliff with our hero presumably trapped inside), although Misery’s Annie Wilkes would have been losing her mind at the cinematic cheats on display. “He didn’t get out of the cockadoodie car!” Rife with stock footage from other serials, particularly the scenes of our Rocketeer-helmeted hero Judd Holdren zipping back and forth across the horizon, but it’s all professionally stitched together and enjoyably so. Come for the early appearance by alien-in-training Leonard Nimoy, stay for the loveably chintzy axe-swinging robot.


Hunger (2008) (1st viewing) d. McQueen, Steven (UK)

Michael Fassbender’s breathtaking physical transformation as IRA hunger-strike prisoner Bobby Sands serves as the memorable closing act, with the 22-minute unbroken dialogue scene between the star and Liam Cunningham (as a well-meaning priest) constituting the meat of the matter. Jarring, disjointed and completely compelling.

I (heart) Huckabees (2004) (1st viewing) d. Russell, David O. (USA)

I can see why this “what’s it all about” comedy wasn’t a huge hit, as it’s a bit too weird and wild and wacky and dark to connect with a mainstream audience…or me, for that matter. I thought it was enjoyable enough, but I won’t be revisiting it anytime soon.

Opening of Misty Beethoven, The (1976) (1st viewing) d. Metzger, Radley (USA)

Touted as the pinnacle of “porno chic,” Metzger’s adult film version of Shaw’s Pygmalion has arrogant swinging author Jamie Gillis attempting to turn low class Parisian hooker Candace Money into the new “Goldenrod Girl” of high society. Never really all that sexy, but extremely well-produced and containing a gaggle of surprisingly INTENTIONALLY funny sequences. Recently released to DVD/BR by Distribpix and well worth checking out.

Star Wars (1977) (10th viewing) d. Lucas, George (USA)

It had been at least a decade (maybe two) since I last sat down with this. It saddens me that Lucas has sullied the legend with his prequels, because this was and remains pure and simple escapist movie magic, the likes have which we may never see again.


Jack Reacher (2012) (1st viewing) d. McQuarrie, Christopher (USA)

Solid Tom Cruise action thriller that earns extra points for its inclusion of Werner Herzog as a singualrly scary mobster. Not a classic by any stretch, but it passed the time.

Les Miserables (2012) (1st viewing) d. Hooper, Tom (UK)

Ergh. Great production values, but woefully undersung. It's like Hooper’s cast of movie stars were afraid of waking the neighbors, so prevalent is the speak-singing here. All the chatter about Anne Hathaway being the runaway Oscar pick puzzles me – in spite of the unbroken take rendition of "I Dreamed a Dream," she's pretty much one color throughout. Hugh Jackman is fine as the noble ex-con Valjean, while Russell Crowe is an exercise in miscasting as Javert as he just ain’t got the pipes. Too many damn close-ups during the big choral numbers, where you can almost predict who will get the next shot based on their billing. Better in the second half, but lot of goodwill lost by then.

Skyfall (2012) (1st viewing) d. Mendes, Sam (UK)

Speaking of Oscar chat, I’d be happy to see Judi Dench get a nod for her final turn (of seven) as taciturn MI6 head, M. She makes it look easy, but there are so many levels going on beneath her carefully composed demeanor, especially once Javier Bardem’s slippery psychopath makes his presence – and his history to Dench – known. Plus, in the pantheon of 007 opening sequences, this has got to be in the Top 3.

Django Unchained (2012) (1st viewing) d. Tarantino, Quentin (USA)

I’m going to keep talking in terms of Oscars (and isn’t it kind of great that Tarantino, with his uniquely populist/throwback sensibilities, commands the respect to be considered for such chat?) in discussing this revisionist Western. Leonardo di Caprio seems to be getting all the buzz, but I fell out of love with him once he left his early 20s behind him. He’s fine here, but it’s Samuel L. Jackson’s slyly sinister manservant who had me hanging on the edge of my seat. Isn’t it time the national treasure that is SLJ got some Academy love? Christoph Waltz is equally compelling, but he straddles the leading/supporting actor line - as a result, he'll be overlooked. Jamie Foxx is terrific in his badass stoic way, but he ain't getting a buddy to match his Ray statuette this time around. As has been QT’s wont for the past few flick, we could stand to lose about 20 minutes, but there’s enough twists, turns, snaps, pops, crackles, and giant exploding blood squibs to keep us occupied.

2012 Totals: 605 films, 520 1st time views, 360 horror, 165 cinema

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