Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Urbania (2000)

If you have been reading my reviews and venturing through other reviews and write up on films, then you probably already know recognize that I am a huge fan of the art of storytelling.  Urbania centers its focus on our protagonist who is seeing the world around unfold as urban legends. If everything he sees turns into an urban legend come to life, then his life too must therefore be an urban legend.  Many returns come back to explaining how we communicate stories and nobody knows where they have originated or how they spread. We are reminded that people start tales with, "A friend told me this… and it is true."  If we believe that an old wives tale can come from real life events, then it is no stretch to think that our real life events will turn into stories.  And so we have a motivation of our hero, who may or may not be the leading himself into becoming just a dark tall tale.
                Urbania may start off slow but because of the confident direction and foreshadowing its pace becomes very acceptable. It is dark, depressing, and has a wallop of an ending that will be emotionally rewarding as well as profoundly deep for those that make it to the ending.
                When this first came out I had pushed it onto many of my friends who in return would not finish it because they thought it had too much homosexual content within it. Even my gay friends had some difficulty sitting through this one because of the emotional powerful ending that is being prepped up for its viewers. The fact that this film would scare people into not wanting to finish or get to its conclusion fascinated me. What I realized what it was not just the content or atmosphere that  disturbed people but  the acting is so tight and believable.  If the acting was not as good as it is by the lead Dan Futterman,  people would have no problem getting through this one and would probably not think twice about it once it had finished.  Those that did finish the movie have also rewatched it to get a better grasp of the storyline. This film is not for everyone because some people do not have the patience to have to think or feel something they are not use to think or feel about.  

See it

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Two Deaths (1996)

During a civil war raid on a town, a doctor invites two of his friends over for a supper. They question a portrait of a beautiful woman he has on hanging about his fireplace and he answers, explains that it is his maid. When they question why he would have a picture of a servant up like a family member, he explains that it is because he has ruined her life. What follows is a set of flashbacks that will tell a sad, cruel, and emotionally shattering tale of passion gone wrong.
                The connection of the war surrounding the house is not clearly connected to the primary story as well as I am sure it was intended to be. However, it does fit as reasonable breaks for the audience to take a breather from the main story of domination and triumph of the will over some of the most despicable selfishness and unrelenting and uncontrolled desires.  
                Michael Gambon is excellent as the lead, recounting the tale of vindictiveness and abuse of power. It is based on the novel " "The Two Deaths of Senora Puccini", and although there are more than just two deaths in the film, once the two deaths in which the title represents are announced to the audience, the whole story will hit you with an impact of emotional discomfort. Beautiful as it is darkly compelling.  
                This may be a difficult one to get a hold of being that I cannot find a proper dvd or bluray copy available. This is the one of 3 VCR tapes I have not abandoned yet because I am still holding out from a more updated copy.  Keep an eye on Bravo, IFC, and Showcase for they have been said to have played it once or twice. It is worth the hunt.

See it.

"Fight Night" (2008) AKA "Rigged"

Being low budget certainly is no excuse for poor writing. Usually it's the excuse for the writing being above par. However in Fight Night, the writing is its biggest weakness. 
                The movie was first titled "Rigged" as in rigged fights. However this film is not really about rigging fights but the opposite, so this title change is actually a good chose.  Story is about a failed, and continuingly failing con artist who meets  a thin and attractive female fighter who's capable of knocking large men in seconds. He then joins forces with her and pulls what he calls a "reverse rigged" fights that appear to be rigged but are not. This was my first problem with the story line. If he is known for rigging fights, why are people still taking bets from him. Especially those that he's lost to because of fighters admitting to rigging fights. How is making an authentic fight appear rigged but actually now be any benefit to getting deals? That doesn’t make sense to me.
                The two then begin a road trip from fight to fight, allowing the downtimes to develop the characters. Another point that doesn't make sense to me, is that our con artist is quoted by some to be, "The best fight promoter in the industry". If this is true, then why do we see him do nothing but fail, owe money to others, and have death threats and people trying to kill him? Doesn't seem to be the best in the industry to me.
                We never really get to know the fighter too well, besides a small little tale about how when she let her parents know about a lesbian experience being thrown out of the house and her wanting to come back with a bag filled of money. Her story didn't really make any sense to me. And the script teeters back and forth to whether she is gay or not. In the end what it amounts to is a writer who is not thinking about what would be realistic as much as what he believes a boxing/fighting story needs to have according to every other Rocky wannabe. Ashame really, being that this has potential to be a great low budget sleeper.

Avoid It.

Saturday, 27 August 2011

New Town Killers

This is just another telling of "The Most Dangerous Game". However in this version, two bankers who are looking for something a little more interesting in life, hire homeless or less fortunate people and give them 12 hours to play a game of hide and go seek. The person selected is given 12 thousand pounds and if they can remain hidden by the morning will be able to keep the money.  Our hero, although he suspects something is foul with the deal, agrees needing money for his sister who is in serious debt.
                What bugs me the most of this film is how good the villain is. Dougray Scott, as the sadistic Alistair Raskolnikov, commands the stage with a demented diabolical villain. He's so good at being bad that whenever the hero gets an upper hand it feels forced and unnatural. And because this is just another version of "The Most Dangerous Game" it is way too predictable.  Too bad, there is so much potential here that is gone to waste.

Avoid It.

Thursday, 25 August 2011

La lengua de las mariposas (1999, Spain), A.K.A. "Butterfly"

Why are there so many movies starring child actors? If there is one big turn off in movies for me, it would be children actors. If anyone disagrees with me, may I remind you of the award winning performances in "Phantom Menace", the painfully hard on the eyes forced cuteness in "Jersey Girl" or anybody in the Disney Channel line up. Yep, kid actors really wreck movies. However, if a child can act, this rarity will win me over, ten folds. In "Butterfly", the acting reaches one of rare heights that should be seen by all those that love great cinema.
          During the Spanish Civil War, a young, shy and timid boy finds strength and in his kind hearted teacher. The teacher, charmingly played by the late Fernando Fernán Gómez  (The Spirit of the Beehive), is a republican who's politics may collide with battle of Fascist rebels. Politics and coming of age tales don't come together this smoothly in a morality lesson that is unforgettable.
          Be sure to listen to the lessons being taught in this film, because the finale will test the viewers along with the characters. Top notch story telling that shouldn't be missed.

See it.

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Colin (2008 UK)

Have we had enough low budget Zombie movies yet? Have we not seen enough bad make up moaning slow walkers, terrible acting, insulting linear bad-ass heroes who use to be losers before the outbreak turned them into over-the-top take-no-prisoners renegade warriors? Have we not seen enough degutting scenes copying the infamous "Dawn of the Dead" scene (enough with that scene people!!!)? And have we not seen enough people bitten or infected but hiding their contagion from the rest of the group, knowing perfectly well that they are going to turn into full fledge zombies at any vulnerable moment? Lord knows I am.
                That's why "Colin" was a unique delight to watch. Sure it is ultra low budget, and yes a lot of the makeup effects are no better than your friendly-neighbourhood Zombie walk groups, and yes there are scenes that are poorly lit and hard to see what is suppose to be transpiring. However what this film does is make the viewer feel remorse and  emotional connection to one zombie "Colin".  This is a great low budget flick because it accomplishes what so many big budget films cannot, tell a compelling story with heart and characterization and it focuses on one Zombie.
                The film centers its focus on one infected victim, Colin, who we see transform and then proceed to survive as a brainless zombie. But although there is a disconnection from proper thought, there is also an element of his former human life that is struggling to get back to a particular moment of his human self, leading us into the films heartbreaking ending.  We see him dealing with angry mob/vigilantes, we see him being shockingly dealt with by his loving yet conflicted family, and we see him trying to grasp images and signals that may have a deeper meaning. This is just good story telling.
                "Colin" is so ambitious, competent, and original that you will find yourself not being affected by some poor lighting effects, slow pace, sometimes terrible sometimes good acting, and poor make up effects.  The atmosphere is bleak and yet as we slowly walk around with this newly transformed zombie, there is an element of hope and surprisingly we will be rooting for this flesh eater to triumph. This gives me hope in the zombie genre films.

See it.

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Vindicator (1986)

The movie starts with a monkey in a cage, who's been hooked up to some sort of robotic transmitter that people can command the monkey to perform certain acts. Then one of the scientists says, "Now take a look at what happens when we touch him with a robot." To which a small remote controlled robot enters the cage and touches the monkey, followed by inappropriate reaction from the monkey. Whenever a film starts with testing a monkey and we hear, "Ok Now take a look at what happens with when touch the monkey with a robot." I'm going to be in for the long run.
                Vindicator might not feel like an original story, crossing Robocop with the Hulk (film even makes a small joke to show that they know the comparison), with a scientist who's been rebuilt into a powerful robot after a freak accident, which was purposely cause by his coworkers to push forward an experiment.
                Yes, this is low budget, and yes this is silly, and yes, this is very eighties, however the film runs smoothly, never feeling dull. It's villains are despicable and you'll root for the hero to give them their dues.
                This is a true 80's low budget gem. Worth the hunt.

See it.

Falling Up (2010)

If a cast cannot pull off any jokes, maybe the comedy should be removed from the whole script. This is a story of a boy who's quit going to nursing school to take a doorman's job at a ritzy apartment to provide for his mother, after his father's death.  At one point, a young boy hires hookers while he's parents are away and this scene should have a few laughs. Not here. Perhaps flamboyant gay stereo types having a couples spat will deliver some laughs... no, not since the 80s, has that been considered funny.
                This script is so bad, I spent most of the film wondering why decent actors like Mimi Rogers, Joe Pantoliano and even Snoop Dog would agree to filming this.
                And what kind of audience was this written for? It strives to be so innocent and charming, but has no problem slipping in a cocaine scene, an f-bomb, and even a porn shop surprise. There is an important message in this film about not defining yourself by what you do or with simple labels, yet the film makes terrible jokes with flamboyant gays, prostitutes, and a bitter East Indian cab driver.
                One thing that this movie did teach me, is that working in a porn shop is fine, but being a hooker is the bottom. Got it.
Avoid it

Monday, 22 August 2011

An American Crime

The acting is exceptional, the casting great, and the atmosphere is haunting. This has all the elements you would look for in a crime thriller. However, my problem with the film is not the film technical and artistic merits, but the morality issue of the directors choice to victimize the character of the mother.            
                The film is based on an actual crime of the 50s that is too horrific to even believe is real. Silvia, a  teenage girl is kept in a basement, tortured, burnt, beaten and malnourished  at the hands of the other children in the neighbourhood guided by the mother of the house.  The movie shows the mother struggling with the male dominated world around her, being that she can barely make ends meet to feed her children, getting abused by the men in her life and is almost paralyzed with depression. In one incident, when something doesn't work to her favour, she heads to the basement and starts to burn scars reading "I'm a whore" on the belly of Silvia the teenage victim, begins to cry and then commands the children around watching to finish the job. I don't care how horrible the mother thought she had it, many women throughout history have had it worse and the accounts of mothers keeping a teenage girl in the basement to be tortured by the fellow kids happens… well never. It never happens. This is the one time. This is a sick, disgusting individual and to have her shown with remorse, pity and humanity is… completely wrong.  Do they actually expect the audience to forgive her or feel some remorse for her? "Sure you kept a child tied up in your basement and taught other children how to exploit her helplessness, but you had a lousy date with a jerk, so therefore you didn't really mean to abuse and teach abuse to children because you had a lousy date."
                This is exploitation but not in a fun entertaining fashion. There is no real reason for a re-enactment besides the production company taking another stab at exploiting Silvia's torturing to not only making money off her horrible death but to show some remorse for the sadistic mother who initiated all and then through her other kids under the bus in order to save herself.     
                This is the exact same story as "The Girl Next Door" which is an unrelenting horror film, that offers no  safety net for the people watching it. Although "An American Crime" feels more competent of a film, "The Girl Next Door" is a far superior flick. The writer of "Girl next Door" at least had the decency to change the names of the characters, not trying to use the reality of the situation as a gimmick to  sell more tickets. However, I wouldn't recommend either. This is a story that needs to be documented in criminal records, but does not need to be retold on screen for our viewing.  Disgusting.

Avoid It.

Iron Doors (2010)

The concept of having a 3d movie is usually to expand the image, giving depth and  distance to an environment. "Iron Doors" in 3d must be a joke on the audiences. They might have well made "Buried" in 3d. I chose to watch this one in a 2d format.
                Yet another survival movie with one actor (for the most part) stuck in a secluded environment for a long duration, causing starvation and desperate survival tactics. Unlike others of its kind, ("127 Hours", "Buried", and even "Cast Away") Iron Doors does not have the charismatic actor that is worth watching for over an hour and a half. And on top of that, the acting, although not bad, can be faulted by the strange and unnatural dialogue. Most of the film, I felt like yelling at the screen, "Shut up. Shut up. For the love of God just shut up!".
                I actually debated recommending this one for two reasons. The first is because the film is never boring and you'll think that the hour and a half spent watching is only about 45 minutes. I literally had to check the time clock once the credits came up, because I thought I may have just watched a short film instead of a feature. The second reason is it's absolutely WTF ending. Watching this with people is entertaining because most people, I included, will feel ripped off and utterly confused. But for that very reason, the movie feels like nothing is truly original, just a mash up of confusion and laziness.  It would frighten me to think that someone read this script and thought, "This is worth making".

Avoid it.

Alexandra's Project (2003 Australia)

On his birthday, Father/husband (Gary Sweet) comes home after work to discover an empty house with a video tape titled "Play Me". What the video tape contains will shock and disturb a lot of viewers.
                Much like other Australia thrillers (for instance "The Square") "Alexandra's Project" deliberately takes its time to tell a story, adding to a bleak and suspenseful atmosphere. This gives time to develop a character before watching them go through the emotional tests that will inevitably be occurring. Helen Buday  is magnificent as Alexandra, the docile mother/wife who has set up the whole surprise. She's solid from start to finish and tackles one exceptionally tuff and brave role. Gary Sweet is equally as good, as the tormented husband who is not sure how to adjust to what the video contains.
                This becomes a very uncomfortable watch, not just because adult content of the video but because both actors are top notch and make the substance of the video and reality of the situation believable.
                Be warned this one will get harder and more uncomfortable to watch as the tape progresses but it is worth the watch.

See it. (With warnings)

Sunday, 21 August 2011

Waiting for Forever (2010)

When Johnny Depp played Sam in "Benny and June" it was charming and sweet. But when Tom Sturridge plays Will Donner in "Waiting for Forever" it is creepy, depressing, and hard to get behind.
                When it comes to romantic movies, I can usually forgive some of the inconsistent 2 dimensional characters, the predictable plot points, and the over exaggerated  corny dialogue. But in "Waiting For Forever" I could not see past the fact that the main character is just borderline retarded. If he was suppose to be retarded, then this might be cute, in an innocent creepy relationship way.  And if he is not mentally challenged, then he's exceptionally inconsiderate and self absorbed that it a huge stress on his other family members.
                Rachel Bilson is a delight to watch and would be a great character if we had been explained why she's tormented in becoming an adult. Is it because she is ashamed of her dating life of cheating on her partner, is it because she's trying to not grow into her parents lifestyle of emotional abuse (in one of the worse, I-am-abusing-you-before-I-die-because-that's-the-way-I-make-you-come-to-terms-with-my-future-death kind of relationships shown in film), or is it because she's longing for her past with Will, her first childhood sweetheart, who she seems to have gotten over, until she sees him.  All we are suppose to know is that she's not happy and probably needs a mentally unstable adult who has never grown up to show her happiness.
                This movie is a mess and scenes that should be romantic and sweet come off awkward and forgettable. You will be reminded of better films and wonder why you are not watching them instead.

Avoid it.

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Bread and Circus (2003 Norway)

(Spoiler Alerts)
What's wrong with me, that I watch movies like "Bread and Circus" and enjoyed it. The movie literally starts with mother's earth vagina (a giant vagina that's on the ground) giving birth to a fully grown man. Those born imperfect are disposed of and returned to the "Black hole" on the other side of the world. This movie, through some nasty gore and one incredibly gross poop joke becomes a splatter fest of violence and comedy that will (or should) turn off the average viewer. I you can stand something that is surreal to the max, laced with Monty Python style humour, this movie is for you.
                I had read several reviews where people stated that this film had a real "strong message" about the world. Really? Could it just be someone trying to justify watching disgusting filth, nasty bloody effects, and childish adult humour, so they can still keep their heads up high. I don't know, maybe the alien ship shaped as a circumcised penis, entering mother earth's vagina, in and out, in and out, really made people think about the state the world is in. Or perhaps, when one character happens to get a coke bottle cramped up his anus and proceeded to drink from it after retrieving it really captured the metaphor for people consuming the shit that the media defecates on us on a regular bases? Whatever you need to rationalize why you enjoyed it is your own business, but please, let's not make this out to be something it is not... profound.
                "Bread and Circus" is crass, sick, shocking, juvenile, vulgar, and yet exceptionally ambitious and  uncompromisingly original. Beware though, once you see it you cannot un-see it.   

See it (with warnings)

Sunday, 14 August 2011

7th Hunt

I don't think that I was suppose to laugh out loud at the ridiculous dialogue. In one of the violent scenes, when tormenting a victim who's hands are tied above her head, the torturer says, "By the time I'm finished with you, even hell won't have you." But she's the victim. Why would hell want to have the innocent victim?  Is there something about his lady that I don't know? Have I been rooting for the wrong person? What is he going to do with her that would make "Hell" the eternal damnation of brimstone and fire, dismiss her? Oh he just stabs her. Is hell really that picky that they would deny someone because of how uneventful their death is? I think he may have over selling his actions here.
                I shouldn't really be concerned with the dialogue being that the film doesn't really have a story but tries to find reasons to show people being tortured by psychotic killers. The inconsistencies here are all over the place, for instance a victim has a cigarette burn mark in their armpit before the cigarette is use to burn the arm pit.  A deaf girl actually turns her head to see who's calling from another room. And a surprise reveal at the end that has no reason for the viewer to think  otherwise.
                Basically, this is torture porn, done poorly. Bad makeup effects, terrible characters, goofy dialogue, and it's not even fun to watch while getting drunk with friends. Instead it was confusing and left us feeling gross… more than usual.
Avoid it

Friday, 12 August 2011

Maskerade (A.K.A. Mask Maker 2010)

As horror movies go, this film starts off with the usual evil person doing something evil in the past that is going to affect people in the future. Once the scene ends, cut to mediocre rock band tune as we are introduced to our protagonists who are good looking young adults hanging out on a (surprise, surprise) college campus.
                This follows the formulaic script for all lousy horror films. One scene that didn't fit however happens about twenty minutes in. Upon renovating an old house, the campus couple come across a severed pigs head left in the old fridge. Not at all phased by the fact that there is a severed pigs head, the two kid each other about it and are concerned that it has flies on it. Few minutes later the couple is shopping for paint at a nearby shop and over hear some of the local crazies mention that nobody has lived in that house for over 50 years.  The severed pig head didn't look 50 years old. And it is never mentioned again as if finding a severed pigs head in a fridge, in an abandon house, is normal.
                The acting is not terrible but it soon starts to feel like there is too much acting. Most of the first half of the film is our young protagonists joking and chatting about nothing as they renovate the old house. Not to mention too much cliché horror movie dialogue. "I mean, just look at this place. All the land, all the wine… I mean, how could anything go wrong?" Followed by the protagonist reading an old diary by herself out loud.  "What is this? Why is the rest of this written in French? Is this voodoo?" (that comment sounded a little racist for my liking but whatever). Who talks or reads like that, besides horror movie characters?
                After a long 50 minutes, the killing of these 2 dimensional character begins. Only to stop for another ten minutes for more chatting, giggling and some investigation about the house that the characters who are asking questions don't really have any motivation yet to be investigating (they didn't see the killings or the results). The old man who talks about the house's past, actually tells the main character about how he killed the past residents of the house because they were witches. She gets nervous about the man getting louder as he talks and grips tightly a knife as his voice raises. She leaves saying that the people in the town are assholes. I suppose if she's ok with a severed pigs head in her fridge, she's not going to be all that affected by  a murder who's just admitted he's murdered her houses last residents. If you have murdered someone because they might be a witch, then you are not a murderer but just an asshole. Good to know.
                Did I forget to mention that the villain is deformed and cuts off (more like slips off) people's faces and wears them as masks? Yeah, well that's happening here too.

Avoid it.

Second Coming (2009)

So if I understand the message of this film, Tinnitus is caused by the guilt of murdering a waitress and covering it up, and can be triggered and hard to control when you see the waitress's identical sister walking around in public. Good to know.
                "Second Coming" is one of these terrible films that doesn't know what it wants to be. It is not a horror, because there is nothing to be scare of, sure there is a ghostly image of a dead sister popping up but this is a victim and we already know why she's popping up. This isn’t a mystery because everything is shown and we are forced through many flashbacks to revisit the events that surround our main characters. This isn't a revenge flick because for most of the movie our main character doesn't know why she's seeing the things she's seeing, until about the last 15 minutes when she decides to seek revenge on her sister's murderer. This also isn't a drama or character study because these people do not act or react to anything like real humans do. For example a wife gets jealous and upset because someone leaves a Polaroid of hand holding an earplug. Yep, earplugs… the ultimate sign of infidelity.
                The main reason I detested this film so much, is because of the presence of a ghost.  If the dead twin sister is only trying to get a message out to her alive sister, "Find Me." then why does she come to her in a nightmarish zombie form, or hide behind shower curtains in abandon houses. This does not seem to be the most effective way of getting someone to help you out. If you already look like a zombie, maybe hiding in showers or just appearing in the passenger's car on a dark night, might not be the best forms of communication.  I've tried that tactic of message delivering with my old roommates. Whenever I had to deliver a message to him, I would dress up like a zombie/dead person, hide in their closet and wait for them to open the door. Once the door opens, I reach out like I'm going to kill him and say in the nasty, raspy, deathlike voice, "Your Mother Called!"
                The term "Second Coming" would primarily be associated with the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. After watching this I understand that this term cannot be used as a metaphor for this film because after finishing it I thought, "There is no God."
Avoid it

Thursday, 11 August 2011

Freight (2010, UK)

"Here's how I negotiate. I will burn every toilet you have then I will burn you." end quote.  This film is hilarious for the wrong reasons. It's so disjointed and off the wall, I spent the whole time wondering if I was missing some bigger joke.
                Freight begins with one original opening. A man marrying into a family of boxers who own a rental toilet industry, get into one of the toilets as it is being stolen from an event. The toilet gets driven to a warehouse with a truck full of Romanian slaves traders, in the worst slave trafficking attempts ever seen in film.  The owners of the toilets come to the place and beat up all the Romanian slave traders to retrieve their toilet back along with their new family member. And so starts a gang/mob war between the Slave Traders and the Boxers. And after a kidnapping of the toilet boss's daughter, one of the boxer coincidentally gets killed in an underground fighting competition ran by the same Romanian Slave traders.
                This show is insane. The acting is so brilliantly bad and over the top that I found myself enjoying the audacity of it all. There were a couple of moments where the film even tries to be sentimental which caused me to laugh out loud. This film is jam packed with prostitutions, gun shootings, and physical abuse, that it should be considered a grind house flick.
                Plenty of dialogue in this film is so awkward to listen to that I started wondering if they were even using a script. One moment in particular that I liked, was between the toilet dad and his son after another chain of violent events. When asking his son where he got a gun, and finding out it was from a kid in a park, the dad says, "The government of this country has completely lost it?"
"You don't know the half of it dad." says his son.
"Neither do they."
Neither do I.  I don't know the half of it. There is no sense of reality anywhere in this film. People are being shot dead all over the place and there doesn't seem to be any clean up or ramification. There is no police, one warped concept of morality, and no concept of how a strip club would work.  
This is just plain wrong on all levels.
Avoid it.

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

"Aaah! Zombies!" AKA Wasting Away

Avoid it.
There is an interesting gimmick here, a zombie flick where the zombies do not see that they are zombies but think the rest of the world is infected. There are a few intentional laughs as well, but barely enough laughs for me to consider this a comedy. Once you've gotten bored with the concept gag, there is not much story or interesting characters here to compel you to care. 
                Maybe my script will do better. It's about mentally challenged people who don't know they're mentally challenged yet think that everyone else in the world is mentally challenged. I call it "Aaah! Retards!".

Deus Irae (2010 Argentina)

See it
With so many terrible Exorcist wannabes coming out left right and center, nowadays, it is nice to see someone get it right. Deus Irae, only runs for 13 minutes yet hits the mark more times in its short run than all the exorcists movies put together.
                For starters, we do not have to endure the boring contradicting cliché with of a priest who, despite his continually exorcizing demons from people's bodies, still has doubts about his job and beliefs. They do not waste time trying to show "real documents" of exorcists from the past, in a desperate attempt to make the film seem real. And finally, they do not start a film by saying, "Based on True Events". Instead what this short flick does do is provide a quick and graphic battle with demonic beings through the channel of a young lady. This is gory and atmospheric  along with cool and violent action and plenty of shock surprises.
                13 minutes goes a long way. I just wish there was and will be more.

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Pauline & Paulette (2001 Belguim)

See it.
What a charmer. Pauline and Paulette may only run 78 minutes but it develops a thorough and deep character study of both title characters.
          Dora van de Groen plays Pauline, a mentally retarded 65 year old with an unconditional hero-worshipping love for her sister Paulette. She obsessed with flowers, copying her sister and wanting to be a part of a decoration shop owned by Paulette. When their sister, Pauline's caretaker, passes on, it is up to Paulette to take her into her home. Paulette, played marvellously by the late Ann Petersen, is a solid performance of the sister who cannot seem to fit looking after her sister into her high class life. 
          This is one of the most sincere portrayals of someone who is mentally challenged, I have ever seen in film. There are no Hollywood clichés, for instance slow motion hugging scene exaggerated for emotional effects. There are no cheap jokes, yet through it's honesty has some good laughs. This film stays as simple as it can be, but it is within that simplicity scenes, the finer touches are have great impact.
          There was one thing that I found a little off putting, the musical score choices. In certain scenes when we get a glimpse of how Pauline's thought processing works, a suspenseful piano piece gets played in the background. It is so awwkwardly misused, that I was starting to think that Pauline was going to hatch some diabolical scheme. "Ah Oh, That mentally challenged one is up to no good." Yet, this is so innocently told that the thought only occurred for a couple of seconds.     
           Other than that this is a great charmer this is just plain nice film to watch. Which is such a rare compliment to give a film nowadays.

Monday, 8 August 2011

In Her Skin (AKA "I Am You") 2009

It's a bold statement to say "This is a true story" when a film is so creatively told. If I were to tell you a true story about myself, and added a moment of spiritual disconnection from my body, for instance leaving my body and turning off a television set plus the lights in a room, then you might think I'm a lunatic or you might be very gullible. However, ignoring that first statement, "In her Skin" is a well told tale of sadness and explicit violence. This is based on a murder of 15 year old ballerina by a family friend, and it told through the eyes of the fear stricken parents, the deranged and troubled murdered, and plus an omniscient narrative. The acting is top notch, with difficult and demanding roles. The musical score and song choices stand out and really set the mood.
            In no way during the film did I feel like the story was exploiting a horrific crime, like other disgusting films of the past that chose to focus primarily on the most horrific moments of the characters life instead of developing characters we can care for and understand what how the horrors can affect people (ie, Boys Don't Cry and An American Crime). This is a sad story, no ways around that, but it is done with respect for the characters and audience. This one is an extremely delicate subject matter and it is handled respectively.
            Be warned: the murder scene is graphic and disturbing.       
            See it.

Sunday, 7 August 2011

Little Deaths

I'm a huge fan of Horror Anthologies. Well, I suppose that is not really true, being that there are not many good Horror Anthologies out there, but I find myself always turning back to watching them.
The latest one I found myself anticipating something good and then being somewhat disappointed with was "Little Deaths".
This trilogy of tales mixes sex with horror (what a stretch of genre mashing). The first one is nasty and creepy beyond what I was expecting, but not in an entertaining way. The second is dull and exceptionally predictable. And the last one is also gross and disturbing, however this one at least surprised me enough that I didn't hate it.
If you like gross, then you might want to see this. Otherwise don't bother.