Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Fool's Views (4/21 – 5/4)

Howdy folks,

This period represents the relative calm before the storm that was the Chicago Critics Film Festival and the avalanche of DVD/BR screeners that came my way in early May. A mixed bag with some amazing highs and lows, blockbuster to microbudget, from art-house to multiplex to ancient VHS to YouTube. Life is good.

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



Chrysalis (2014) d. Klein, John (USA) (1st viewing)


Cloverfield (2008) d. Reeves, Matt (USA) (3rd viewing)


Mr. Jones (2013) d. Mueller, Karl (USA) (1st viewing)


Scanners (1981) d. Cronenberg, David (Canada) (5th viewing)



Abducted II: The Reunion (1995) d. Collins, Boon (Canada) (1st viewing)

Three college gal pals (Raquel Bianca, Debbie Rochon, Donna Jason) head off into the woods for a little R&R, but run into crazy crazyman Vern (Lawrence King) who has somehow been revived from his demise in 1986’s Abducted in order to wreak more hillbilly havoc. Dan Haggerty also returns as Vern’s master tracker pop, guiding Great White Capitalist Hunter Jan-Michael Vincent to bag big game and staying out of the main plotline to keep costs down. Goofy, jiggly exploitation entertainment.

Blue Ruin (2013) d. Saulnier, Jeremy (USA) (1st viewing)

A young homeless man’s (Macon Blair) life is given sinister purpose following a convict’s (Brent Werzner) early release from prison. If you have it in your power to see writer/director Saulnier’s (Murder Party) award-winning festival smash, do so. (It’s currently available on most VOD platforms, as well as certain cinemas.) It’s frankly the smartest and most suspenseful film I've seen in recent years; one never knows where it’s going, yet it maintains viewer interest from start to finish. My top pick for 2014 so far.

Gravity (2013) d. Cuaron, Alfonso (USA) (2nd viewing)

Enjoyed the same rollercoaster ride as in the multiplex, but watching the behind-the-scenes BR featurettes cultivates an unwavering respect for the craftsmen making this particular piece of movie magic so seamless. Sandra Bullock, whose Oscar nod genuinely surprised me at the time, was admittedly given one of the more challenging acting tasks – basically acting in a vacuum with all sorts of gadgetry attached to create the effects of weightlessness. I still think that making it her character's first spacewalk was gilding the lily, still not a fan of Steven Price’s ham-fisted score, and still find some of the metaphorical imagery a bit heavy-handed, but overall it's a thrilling technical achievement and a worthy bit of popcorn entertainment.

Hapkido (1972) d. Huang, Feng (Hong Kong) (1st viewing)


Honor and Glory (1993) d. Ho, Godfrey (Hong Kong/USA) (1st viewing)

Inspired by seeing Donna Jason in Abducted II, and having enjoyed her in the wackadoo martial arts fest Undefeatable! and seeing that she only has three screen credits to her name, I decided to complete her entire filmography as well as add another Godfrey Ho/Cynthia Rothrock title to my viewing legacy. But while Rothrock might be top billed, it’s John Miller's (another Undefeatable! alum) over-the-top turn as nefarious baddie Jason Slade that runs away with the film. William S. Wilson of Video Junkie gives it the royal treatment HERE.

Z.P.G.: Zero Population Growth (1971) d. Campus, Michael (UK) (1st viewing)

Downer dystopian future shocker about a world in which childbirth is banned due to overpopulation, but darned if Geraldine Chaplin doesn’t decide to place her emotional needs above the well-being of the planet. (I know I’m supposed to be rooting for her and fellow criminal Oliver Reed, celebrating their God-given right to breed, but seriously, eff that. Call in the Baby Squad and haul these rule-breakers off to the clink. BABY!!! BABY!!!) Personal philosophies aside, it’s a not-bad feature with intriguing ideas that never feel quite fleshed out.

2014 Totals to date: 108 films, 61 1st time views, 54 horror, 9 cinema

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