Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Fool's Views (2/1 – 2/14)

I got your Blue Valentine RIGHT HERE....

Howdy, troops!

Well, it may be the shortest month of the year, but it’s been a fruitful time for the flickers. For the first half of February, with the Oscar hopefuls in the rearview, I was able to focus my attentions on the myriad of new blu-ray releases hitting the virtual shelves, as well as catching up with a number of random civilian flicks that had escaped my attention. (And, as you’ll see, sometimes those that had escaped others’ attentions.)

Additionally, I ventured up to Oshkosh, WI, to engage in a little Share the Scare (or Franchise Freak-out, as it turned out) with my sanguinary siblings John, Coye, Egan, and Ashley. The last time I’d indulged in this particular brand of madness was three years back when we did the entire Hellraiser series (which numbered 9 at the time); this time was a much easier ride since we were only tackling the quartet of Species features. Gotta say, there are few things more enjoyable in the world than feasting on delectable foodstuffs with good friends while the fright flicks unspool before our wondering peepers.

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



All the Colors of Giallo (2018) d. Caddeo, Federico (USA) (1st viewing)


Audition (1999) d. Miike, Takashi (Japan) (3rd viewing)


Screamers (1995) d. Duguay, Christian (Canada) (2nd viewing)


Valentine (2001) d. Blanks, Jamie (USA) (2nd viewing)


What Keeps You Alive (2018) d. Minihan, Colin (Canada) (1st viewing)

Jackie (Hannah Emily Anderson) and Jules (Brittany Allen) are a couple celebrating their one-year anniversary at a secluded cabin in the woods belonging to Jackie's family. But shortly after their arrival, Jackie begins to reveal a previously unseen dark side, one later confirmed by her childhood companion Sarah (Martha MacIsaac) who still lives nearby. Instead of the planned weekend of bliss, a shocking revelation pits Jules against the woman she loves in a terrifying contest for survival. Writer/director/editor Minihan makes the most of his budgetary constraints, pushing his tight-knit ensemble through an impressive array of emotions, all gorgeously lensed by David Schurrman, serving up a worthy cat-and-mouse thriller laden with betrayal and secrets.

Zombie (1979) d. Fulci, Lucio (Italy) (3rd viewing)



Last December, as we were discussing the year’s output, I was dismayed to discover that faithful viewing companion Ian Simmons of Kicking the Seat had not seen yet Jeremy Saulnier’s Hold the Dark… nor any of the acclaimed writer/director’s output. (He was at least aware of Blue Ruin and Green Room, “Just haven’t gotten around to them yet.”) Being that Saulnier presently has only four films on his C.V., I figured we could make short work of it and so in we dove.

Here’s the link to the podcast if you’d like to hear us natter on: KICKING THE SEAT #381
(With the exception of Blue Ruin, all are currently available on Netflix, so feel free to join in the fun!)

Murder Party (2007) d. Saulnier, Jeremy (USA) (2nd viewing)

Chris (Chris Sharp) doesn’t have much going for him in terms of a social life; his Halloween plans consist of a war of wills with his chair-dominating feline and watching a few scary movies rented from the local video store. When a seemingly random “Murder Party” invitation floats his way down the sidewalk, he seizes the opportunity to create a impressively off-the-cuff cardboard knight costume and heads out for the night (pumpkin loaf in hand). He finds himself among an eclectic group of artists who have assembled in a secluded warehouse, only to discover that he is to be the object of the described festivity.

Things start off as a black comedy with the self-absorbed creatives bickering among themselves, one that quickly turns blood red as the evening progresses; the messier things get, the funnier they become, with gag reflexes trading time with belly laughs. The fantastic cast (Macon Blair, Stacy Rock, Skei Saulnier, Paul Goldblatt, William Lacey, and Sandy Barnett) exchange barbs and shards while Saulnier’s camera floats and dances in time. A spectacular debut that remained (shockingly) the director’s only credit for six long years until....

Blue Ruin (2013) d. Saulnier, Jeremy (USA) (3rd viewing)

A young homeless man’s (Macon Blair) life is given sinister purpose following a convict’s (Brent Werzner) early release from prison. The less you know going in the better, but if you have it in your power to see writer/director Saulnier’s award-winning Cannes Film Festival smash, do so. It’s far and away the smartest and most suspenseful film I’ve seen in recent years; you never know where it’s going, yet it consistently maintains viewer interest from start to finish.

Another example of spectacular ensemble performances across the board, with special notice to Amy Hargreaves (Offspring) as Dwight’s estranged sister and Devin Ratray (“Buzz” from Home Alone all grown up) as one of his former schoolmates who possesses a very particular set of skills. My favorite flick from 2014, which holds up nicely on repeat viewings, I’m happy to report.


Species (1995) d. Donaldson, Roger (USA) (3rd viewing)

Species II (1998) d. Medak, Peter (USA) (1st viewing)

Species III (2004) d. Turner, Brad (USA) (1st viewing)

Species: The Awakening (2007) d. Lyon, Nick (USA) (1st viewing)



Blade Runner 2049 (2017) d. Villeneuve, Denis (USA) (1st viewing)

I had been prepped that this belated sequel to the 1982 sci-fi classic was slow, gorgeous to look at, wholly unnecessary, and enjoyable enough on its own terms. I settled in, pulled the easy chair as close to the trusty flatscreen as possible, turned off the phone, gave it my fullest attention, and it was… fine. I don’t know that I understand all the ballyhoo about veteran Roger Deakins’ Oscar-winning cinematography, especially since so much of it appeared to be computer-generated backdrops and it didn’t seem that much more extraordinary that many other modern sci-fi epics but whatever – he was due.

The Fabulous World of Jules Verne (1958) d. Zeman, Karel (Czechoslovakia) (2nd viewing)

Having gone ga-ga over Zeman’s groundbreaking feature last month, I was eager to revisit and share in the company of other film friends who were equally dazzled. I want to check out more of the “Czech Melies,” to be sure.

Obsession (1976) d. De Palma, Brian (USA) (2nd viewing)


Obvious Child (2014) d. Robespierre, Gillian (USA) (1st viewing)

I have no idea how much autobiographical material has been recycled for our viewing entertainment in this bawdy, body-humor-based exploration of a comedian’s (Jenny Slate, dorky but adorable) accidental pregnancy following a one-night stand with a genuinely nice guy (Jake Lacey) and all the emotional insanity that ensues. Be warned: there is much, much talk of pooping and farting and the like, so if that’s not your bag, maybe skip this one, but definitely keep an eye on Robespierre and Slate.

Ray (2004) d. Hackford, Taylor (USA) (1st viewing)

Jamie Foxx won the Oscar for his turn as Ray Charles, but what’s interesting is – once again – how much slack a talented individual was granted by those around him (and society in general) simply because he was talented. Sure, he’s a drug addict and a womanizer and turns his back on his friends when he becomes famous, but he sure plays a mean piano so we’ll let it slide. That is literally the story as told onscreen and we’re still expected to love the guy because, hey, it’s Ray and he’s one-of-a-kind! Sigh. The movie itself is yet another competent biopic, nothing more, with Foxx earning extra honors for tickling his own ivories (while lip-synching to Charles’ vocals).

The Square (2017) d. Ostland, Ruben (Sweden) (1st viewing)

This winner of the Palm d’Or (from the writer/director of Force Majeure) is a button-pushing exploration of sex, power, wealth, and art and what we are willing to endure in the pursuit of all of the above. While decidedly a comedy, it also dips into dark emotional territory when a prestigious Stockholm museum’s chief curator (Claes Bang) loses his wallet the same week that he’s unveiling the daring campaign for a daring new exhibit. Elizabeth Moss is deliciously sexy/scary as a reporter covering the event who hopes to get as close as possible to her subject, while Dominic West somehow appears above the line for what amounts to a cameo appearance as an arrogant artist. The “monkey man” scene is terrifying, thrilling, thought-provoking, and brilliantly assayed by Terry Notary (Kong in Kong: Skull Island and movement choreographer for Matt Reeves’ Planet of the Apes trilogy, among many others).

Zorro the Gay Blade (1981) d. Medak, Peter (USA) (2nd viewing)

Inspired by seeing Medak’s name on Species II, I sought out this 1980s comedy (which he directed immediately after The Changeling – how’s that for a change of pace?), remembering it to be quite funny when I first saw it thirty years ago. I guessed it was likely going to be un-PC for a modern audience, and I was not wrong; the portrayals of homosexual characters are that of the clichéd effeminate “sissy boys” and while such characters did and do exist in our world, it’s still an unfortunate and potentially insulting trope that doesn’t need to be perpetuated. All that said, I wish there was a way to recut or reshoot around those episodes because, doggone it, George Hamilton, Ron Liebman, and Brenda Vaccarro are friggin’ hilarious in this twisted re-telling of the Zorro myth, filled with broad jokes, broader accents, and a truckload of expert comic timing and energy. So, while I can’t recommend it in good faith, I am remembering it fondly for its inoffensive parts, which make up 85% of the movie.

2019 Totals to Date: 51 films, 36 1st time views, 20 horror, 1 cinema



  1. Yeahhh....I hated, HATED The Obvious Child, partly because it's a message movie ("You wanna send a message? Use Western Union" to quote Samuel Goldwyn), but mostly because I didn't believe ANY of those characters was real, which meant that the message was all there was. Ugh.

  2. I can't say that the characters are necessarily deep or well-drawn, but I enjoyed the performances and had a good time. And since the message was "abortions are normal and should be normalized," I was more than okay with it.