Saturday, May 31, 2008

The Adventures of Pluto Nash (2002 [but made in 2000])

I was inspired to purchase this VHS after seeing it listed as showing in a local "Bad Movie Night" event under the belief that many such judgments can lead to the discovery of fine fantasy features. I wasn't disappointed (mostly). Although listed as one of the largest box office failures of all time ($95 mill loss; shit, that's bad!), it doesn't seem any worse than any other comedic sci-fi movie with a big-shot lead (Eddie Murphy) and a large budget (eg. Galaxy Quest [is that a deterrent?]). We even get some thong action! Mostly it's an action/comedy set on the surface of the moon. My opinion is that audiences can accept some level of fantasy/ irrationality/ futurism/ alternate reality as long as at least some part of the premise seems realistic, applicable and relevant. Unfortunately for them, Eddie Murphy as an ex-smuggler turned jazz club owner while simultaneously playing a gambling, organized crime mogul (he's also loving-up Rosario Dawson) is rarely relevant, let alone realistic. And when you add older model, horn-dog, bald, happy-requisite (and sometimes French Maid) androids into the equation, many people cringe and long for their more reliable, cubicle-filled existence. Well, I personally enjoyed the cosmic landscapes, the cheesy laser guns, the futuristic technology updates, the blatant Mexican stereotypes, and the subtle post-Terra jokes (Sinatra covers are so original!). Is that so wrong?...

I deem it: "As tasty as classic cheese"

Chile: En Las Voces De Los Huasos Quincheros

Released by the Servicio Nacional de Turismo Chile and Lan-Chile (Linea Aerea Internacional Chilena) in 1976, this 12" is an interesting intersection between music, politics and image. All of the tracks are performed by Los Huasos Quincheros, a 4-man Chilean Folklore music group with the accompaniment of their four guitars. Oh, and an orchestra. Apparently they have played in the following countries: Argentina, Peru, Ecuador, Brazil Panama, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Cuba, Uruguay, Venezuela and U.S.A. How informative! They're so worldly! The LP is filled with color photos of scenic Chile and a propaganda segment for the airlines, the English version of which contains typos (That's how you know it's authentic!) (At least they tried for English at all!). All in all, the music is pleasant, if not expected. But having something fulfill expectations shouldn't be taken for granted. Oh, ps., you can buy this album online as long as you're willing to shell out $30+ (shop local independent international clearance section!)

Final Verdict: "Now I want to go to Chile."

Philippine Brass Band

Featuring Pandacan Original Band. Conducted by Major Ambrosio Ordoña. Arranged by Martin C. Mendoza. Produced by William Leary. Released on Wilear's Record (RM. 266 William Li Yao Building; Rizal Avenue, Manila, Philippines; TEL. 3-20-16 LOC. 16). Cover Design: Dads F. Asañon. Studio: C.A.I. Recording Studio. Technician: Ric Santos. Back blurb written by Nene Riego (a Popular Philippine Publicist).

"[O]ur native tunes will come reverberating into our ears...haunting, as though knocking into our hearts to care for them...they, being a part of our souls, our lives, our ALL...
In this album, the 24-piece Philippine Brass Band under the baton of Major Ambrocio Ordoña will bring to us a string of wonderful and undying folk songs from the Visayas, Mindanao and the Luzon provinces - Pampanga, Ilocos and Rizal."

This collection of brass band beats was made by and for the Philippines. Maybe that's why I can't find anything about it online. Regardless, it's a fantastic compilation of marching music and while we often associate such songs with football and high school, these are traditional marches from the islands themselves. Eg.: Philippine Air Medley, Atin Cu Pung Singsing, Dungdungwen Kanto, Kundiman San Roque 1800 and the Philippine National Anthem. Ambrosio's done well, very well.

Final Verdict: "To them, from us....Mabuhay!!!"

Friday, May 30, 2008

Event Horizon (1997)

This fine feature film is brought to us by the director of Mortal Kombat and Resident Evil (which he also wrote), so if those aren't up your alley, you're probably SOL (sorely outta luck; sad or lonely; seriously outta line; etc...). While Event Horizon doesn't have the awesome costumes or ass-kicking stunts of either of those other video-game inspired movies, it does have an impressive amount of blood-work and a surprisingly decent 90's B-list cast (Sam Neill, Laurence Fishburne and Joely Richardson). Event Horizon is basically a horror movie (at least, more horror than sci-fi), but instead of a haunted house on some foggy hill, it's a haunted ship on the foggy side of Neptune. Talk about not being able to call for help (can't even get cell reception!)! So if you like nightmare visions, mutilated corpses, creepy children, long-lost regrets, hell dimensions, gouged out eyes, gushing blood and dripping intestines, then this is pretty much a slam-dunk. I personally prefer my films more family friendly. And with titties. Man, that will be the day.

Final Judgment; "Cosmically Horrorific"

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Bloodrayne (2005)

Man, people hated this film. The negative comments abound. It's mostly related to the fact the video game is apparently awesome (it inspired two movies and a comic series), and the movie is not (it inspired a loss of appetite). Personally, I can't say anything too bad about a movie that contains vampires, full frontal nudity from legitimate Romanian prostitutes (they're cheaper than actresses!), an excess of gore, a strong female protagonist (she's part vampire, part human! she kills vamps! just like Blade! they should date!), terrific weapons, and Meat Loaf. Ben Kingsley, Michael Madsen, Michelle Rodriguez and Kristanna Loken (T3), all of whom also appear in this flop of a vampire movie. Not that it doesn't deserve to be watched. When you do watch it, I recommend the director's cut. You'll see smashed brains and gushing jugulars, intestines and rotting limbs, and of course, perky titties galore. The violence was a bit nauseating, but as long as you're not eating, you should do just fine. The best part about this film is that everybody dies. Whoops, did I spoil it? Everyone except the heroine of course. But the movie begins and ends in blood; hence the title. And yet there's little resolution. I think I prefer the Underworld series as there's less blood but still plenty of action. This is just slice after slice after slice. Ah well, no one said vampires aren't messy.

Final Judgement: "Bloody good"

The Sting of the Black Scorpion (2002)

Man, this shit is 2002? This looks terrible. It's totally bad TV quality. Oh wait, it's not actually a movie. It's just 3 Black Scorpion episodes (a Sci-Fi Channel original [ouch!]) strung together and re-sold! What a surprise! What a gyp! Well, at least I watched this and fulfilled any bizarre super-hero erotic fantasies that I had without having to actually watch any more episodes. What a relief. Yes, it's that bad. Think of Power Rangers quality costumes with tons of cleavage. There's so much stock footage being used that you can amuse yourself by guessing how many different movies are combined into just this one. And occasionally the explosions are so lame, it looks like a South Park episode. Yowzah. Even worse, the promise for brief nudity was seemingly empty. Unless a million kicking-crotch shots count as nudity. What a bummer. There are some lasers and some sweet corvettes. Tons of bimbos. Lots of cleavage (thanks greatly to Michelle Lintel, who, believe it or not, is a martial artist and not a prostitute [that's why her kicks are so high!]). And several desperately pathetic villians. But hey, if you're stoned and looking to kill 84 minutes, this could be for you (there's even a sequel; oh shit! movie marathon!).

Final Verdict: "You've been warned..."

Luis Andrés y su Orquesta: Fiesta en París

This 12" from Sello Vergara Industrias Fonógráficas is apparently LP. 128. That's about all I know about it. It also appears that Luis Andrés has another album out ("Mambologia") and that several comraderic bloggers enjoy it. But that's it as far as info goes. The album itself is quite pleasant. A little cheesy. A little easy listening. Very romantic. Our ears are graced with mambos, boleros, a bolero mambo, calypso, fox trots, slow rock, a java and even a marcha. Why on earth this seemingly French dude is sampling such a variety of musical types is beyond me. But it makes for a cheerful listen.

Final Verdict: "Covered in sap but still tasty."

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Sunshine (2007)

Well, as somewhat of a VHS-biased sci-fi connoisseur, I don't say this lightly, but: finally, a movie worth buying on DVD! This cutting edge sci-fi is just beautiful. The actors are beautiful (Cillian Murphy [Batman Begins] with his gorgeous blue eyes, Cliff Curtis [token ethnic] with his obsession of staring at the sun until his skin peels, Chris Evans [the pretty-boy fancy-pants from Fantastic Four] and Michelle Yeoh [if only there was kung-fu!] as the plant-loving biologist), the sets are beautiful ( lots of long silver lined halls and other space-ship interior requirements) , the shots are beautiful (sparse and well-lit; simple with strong lines and nice contrast; most of all, really crisp with strong colors [gold space suits!]) and the CGI is beautiful (seamless, and Oh the sun shots!). Sunshine is from the writer/director team that did 28 Days Later (Danny Boyle also directed Trainspotting and A Life Less Ordinary); it's easy to see the similarity, and that's a good thing. This film also contains: good amounts of action, a fair share of violence, lots of hallucination and disorientation-based scenes, an interesting degree of probability, a hint of the supernatural and just a pinch of humanity. Thought out and artfully done.

Final Judgment: "Out of this world!"

Monday, May 26, 2008

The Hudsucker Proxy (1994)

Yes, it's written by the Coen Brothers (directed by Joel). Yes it's got Tim Robbins and Paul Newman in it. Yes it's clever, and Yes it's funny. But there's only one real reason that this movie experience is going up on my blog. Bruce Fucking Campbell! Oh Brucey, Brucey; he appears in the most interesting places and makes every movie worth writing about. Let's face it, if it's got Bruce Campbell in it, it must be kitschy and/or action/horror/sci-fi and/or just plain fanfuckingtastic. Campbell's appearance is a guaranteed result of having Sam Raimi as a more secretive co-writer on this golden masterpiece. In fact, almost everything I've seen from Sam Raimi has had Bruce Fucking Campbell or Lucy The Warrior Princess Lawless in it. The man's a genius! Pure genius! Oh shit, and he produced Time Cop. 1994 was a good year. Face it, the man's a living god!

So, see The Hudsucker Proxy. It's not a waste of time. And you'll be adding another Raimi/Campbell masterpiece to your confusing belt of Movie Memories.

Final Verdict: "Anything with Campbell...."

The Running Man (1987)

"Killian, here's your Subzero, now plain zero."

Oh Arnold, how you make so many dreams come true. The Running Man is undeniably one of the greatest futuristic sci-fi action thrillers ever churned out by the media mogul otherwise known as Hollywood. Ah yes, and it's loosely based on a Stephen King story. And Paula Abdul helped choreograph one of the awesome spandex dance numbers. It's almost a requirement to love a movie with this much spandex, not to mention the egregious usage of one and two liners by our favorite Governor. You also have to contemplate the use of lasers, circuit boards, chainsaws, exploding collars, opera music, rebels, little old ladies who love the death, our lives as a game show, general violence, television as a brainwashing mechanism (keeps them off the picket lines!) and the timeless theme of government tyranny. Don't you love how nobody ever believes it until it happens to them? Haven't they seen any sci-fi? It's a classic riff! Oh well. Anyway, I have a very serious fetish for movies that combine big-budget features/actors with 'outlandishly' futuristic ideas. It gives you hope for a blinded world. Especially when those actors include Arnold and other oddly muscular men (eg. Professor Toru Tanaka of Blackrain, Dark Man, 3 Ninjas and Last Action Hero [another Arnold flick!] fame AND Jesse 'The Body' Ventura [ahhh! another governor!!!]). Combine this with genuinely good cinematography, convincing sets and props (I love the futuristic city scenes!), and a plot that can rattle a few (almost) empty skulls, and you've got sci-fi that rivals anything else Arnold has done (move over Terminator!). Plus, foul language!
"I live to see you eat that contract, but I hope you leave enough room for my fist because I'm going to ram it into your stomach and break your god-damn spine!"
"[T]here's nothing funny about a dickless moron with a battery up his ass."
"Uplink underground, uplink underground. If you say that one more time, I'll uplink your ass, and you'll be underground!"

Final Judgment, "Süber-Awesome!"

"The Running Man has been brought to you by: Breakaway Paramilitary Uniforms, Ortopure Procreation Pill, and Cadre Cola; it hits the spot! Promotional considerations paid for by: Kelton Flame Throwers, Wainwright Electrical Launchers, and Hammond & Gage Chainsaws. Damon Killian's wardrobe by Chez Antoinne: 19th-Century craftsmanship for the 21st-Century man. Cadre Trooper and studio-guard side arms provided by Colchester: the pistol of patriots. Remember: Tickets for the ICS studio tour are always available for Class-A citizens in good standing. If you'd like to be a contestant on THE RUNNING MAN, send a self-addressed stamped envelope to: ICS Talent Hunt, care of your local affiliate, and then go out and do something really despicable! I'm Phil Hilton! Good night, and take care!"

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Misa Criolla

"A dynamic spiritual performance of the Catholic Mass based on the rhythms and traditions of Hispanic America sung by Los Fronterizos Chorus and Orchestra - and Navidad Nuestra, a folk drama of the Nativity." Composed in 1964, Misa Criolla is the brain-child of Ariel Ramírez, an Argentinian Artist who drew on his ancestry using language, rhythms, and even overall character (Creole means 'native') to write the mass. In 1965, the Misa Criolla was combined with Navidad Nuestra, a Christmas Cantata composed by Ramírez and Felix Luna, to form a Musical Masterpiece whose recordings sold many copies around the world. This particular version of the two-piece wonder was performed by the original group, Los Fronterizos, and accompanied by the Choir of the Basílica del Socorro under the direction of Ariel himself. Released as part of the "Philips Connoisseur Collection" in 1965, the 12" comes with a variety of text and illustrations and is quite inspired. The music is also pretty fantastic and combines heavy group vocals and solos with a variety of religious themes. Ah, religious themes. They just never seem to get old. Some of the tracks include "Gloria Carnavalito-Yaraví," "Credo Chacarera trunca," Los Reyes Magos Takirari," and "Kyrie."

I deem it: "Better than Christmas!"

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Logan's Run (1976)

Considered by many to be a sci-fi cult classic, this charmer actually came out 1 year before Star Wars. While the special effects and over-all legacy don't rival the trilogy, hey, what really does? Face it, even Star Wars films don't live up to the Star Wars epic, and that's a sad fact.
Logan's Run
is a nicely-paced sci-fi thriller that examines post-ecological-apocalyptic life in a restricted society where everyone faces mandatory death at 30 in order to address overpopulation. Most people are delusional about the situation. Some people disagree or run (they're put down). Some people express non-social behaviors (they're outcast). But must are just jiving. [Reminding us of anything....?] And so we are faced with Logan's run to leave the dome and find a place called sanctuary. In the escape, together with Jessica, the token babe, Logan encounters a deadly plastic surgeon, a robot that freezes people, and worst of all, an epic battle with his best friend. A general onslaught of trials and tribulations, if you will. Luckily, there's plenty of sexuality, a pretty fantastic electronic musical score and a senile old man with lots of cats to keep the mood up. Also US monuments being reclaimed by nature. And lasers. And crystals. And a "Love Lab. " And Farrah Fawcett! Ah, the blonds.

Final Verdict: "So good, you'll read the book."

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Music of Bulgaria

Recorded in Paris in 1955, this album includes the talents of the soloists, chorus and orchestra of the Ensemble of the Bulgarian Republic with Phillipe Koutev as The Conductor. The LP includes such traditional hits as, "Theodora Is Dozing," "Fida Is Sleepy," "Mother Has Decided To Marry Me Off," "Theodora, Have You Had Supper," (apparently Theodora was quite popular) and "Rank Weeds" (my personal fave). The text on the back also adds some character by stressing the rugged nature of the people and their land, stating that, "The recording reflects Bulgaria's essentially rural character, with its crops of cereals and fodder for great herds of livestock, and extensive vineyards; the music reflects, too, the fiercely independent nature of the farmer populace, who struggled for independence from both Turkey and Serbia for hundreds of years [blah blah blah]....stubborn resistance to anything considered foreign [blah blah blah]...the dances in which the body is fully used and are often erotic." Wow, sounds tasty. The great thing about this album is that not only is it available online (a definite result of the fact that it was released on the classy and always diligent Nonesuch Records label), but it has its own Wikipedia page! At the site you can learn that this album, and class of music, actually employs "mathematical theory of sounds" to make "cosmic music." And there you have it...

Final Verdict: "Cosmically Delicious."

Knights (1993)

Ah, another day, another post-apocalyptic Lance Henricksen movie. You wouldn't know it from watching it, but this movie is way way after the Alien pics. Granted, Henricksen had already done his little stint in Super Mario Bros., probably one of the best, and most underrated films out there, so Knights is mostly inevitable. In fact, if you look at his imdb page, it doesn't look like he's ever turned down any part, ever. But that's what ends up making jewels like this one. Also in this film are Kris Kristofferson, who had a whole career before I was even born, but whom you may especially recognize as Whistler in the Blade trilogy, AND Kathy Long, a kick-boxing champion from the 1980's. She's quite the number with her ratty blond she-ra curls and a tight bod (plus the pug nose). Her stunts mostly look half-hearted which leads me to believe that she's not exerting her full power for fear of completely devastating (a popular word in the film) the other stunt actors. Long plays Nea, a human rebel on a post-apocalyptic Earth where blood-sucking cyborgs have control (ruled by Lance) and take the humans for slaves and (of course) food. For some reason, the cyborgs also have a definite saliva/drooling problem. After seeing Kris Kristofferson, a robot built especially for the demolition of the ruling cyborgs, stab other robots in the head and save her life, Nea takes up with him in an effort to learn the ways of destruction. Lots of mechanical arms and dirty people. Also, a long lost brother to be reunited with. At the end of the film, they mention this mystical 'cyborg city,' and completely leaves you with a sequel craze, a hope I continue to hold on to. The best part about this film is not that it's written and directed by the same guy as Nemesis and Nemesis II, but really that it's low-budget. That means they had to film everything on location and realistic-like. Trust, everyone looks like they've been living in that desert, which is actually in the Southwest and quite beautiful. And they filmed with a bunch of colored filters, either that or my VHS copy is just destroyed, but either way it makes everything look a) more psychedelic, b) more alien-like and c) just more awesome in general. Plus, Kathy Long's got a great ass.

Final Judgment: "Devastating (in the good way)."

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Elizabeth Sings

Well, I'm officially moving Elizabeth Jane Gaudino into the digital age. The born-again lady produced this record, Holding My Saviour's Hand, but I can't seem to find anything about its existence. Makes you wonder what else is out there. Anyway, Elizabeth learned harp and voice at Eastman School of Music, married in 1949 and she gave up the biz before she even began, because, "the joy of her walk with Christ from childhood was much too rich an experience to exchange for the glitter and tinsel of show business." The back cover also mentions her mother hallucinating and the fact that nothing but Jesus can satisfy. MMmm Jesus. Well, if you're up for some soprano, piano, organ and drums in the form of fairly standard/traditional Christian hymns, this is a good choice.

Final Judgment: "Elizabeth sings, you listen."

Stefan Hrusca

Apparently this Stefan guy is a pretty big deal in Romania; that's where this record was recorded in 1990. Hrusca's career began in the 80's and continued all the way into the new millennium. This particular album is a collection of "traditional" carols and religious songs of the Maramureş people (where Stefan is from), a region historically known as Transylvania. And that's pretty much exactly what this is: carols and religious songs of Northern Romania, sung by a baritone male lead and with a slightly contemporary feel. Although I always love religious tracks (the culture!), George Stanca (the engineer poet?) thinks slightly more of Hrusca, stating that, "it is clearly seen that the entire colour of his melodies is mystical. In other words Stefan sings heavenly, bringing the divinity nearer to us...With this record Stefan seems to return to the primary wisdom, revealing us a soul of an artist turned monk who, until now, has unwillingly consumed a penance, which did not belong to him. I'm sure that good almighty God will bless this album, which will be listened to, with piety and our old reverence towards carols, in any Romanian home."
Well....I don't know if it will bring salvation but....

I deem it: "Good for the soul."

No Escape (1994)

Wow. What a crowd pleaser. This pretty-much fantastic film combines elements from Waterworld, Mad Max, The Lost World, Lord of the Flies, Fortress and Escape from New York/LA. We're talking 'we're in the future but it feels like Medieval Times,' secretive big business, 'king of the hill,' 'wearing crazy face paint and piercings,' all-man cult lead by "The Father," sort of action. In fact, I don't even remember seeing any women in this film so if you're in it for the titties you better look again. However, if you're actually in it for the awesome names like Ray Liotta, Ernie Hudson (always an indicator of greatness) and Lance Henriksen (of Millennium [tv], a Chris Carter Creation), or the inevitably classic theme of military control, prison escape and the nature of humans under duress, than this an excellent pick.

Final Verdict: "A Must See!"

The Vanishing (1993)

A remake of a Dutch film from 1988 (actually remade by the same director), this mildly tense thriller is worth seeing really for only one reason: it's got Jeff Bridges, Kiefer Sutherland and Sandra Bullock. Man, talk about a pantheon of the 90's gods! Too bad it's so subdued. Jeff Bridges is a complete weirdo with his crazy act and the practicing to be a murderer and that whole 1600's 'I'm a pretty bard' haircut. And Kiefer Sutherland keeps things interesting with a variety of mullets, khaki pants and yellow sweaters. Needless to say, Sandra Bullock is definitely the hottest thing in the movie. Too bad we don't get to see much of her... Overall, it's pretty predictable. Filled with lies. Generally creepy. Oh, and shot up in my neighborhood, so at least it's got a view.

Final Verdict: "Worth watching if you have to please a tamer crowd."

Saturday, May 17, 2008

The Blackwoods: Family Singing Time

The Blackwoods Brothers Quartet started up in 1934 in the midst of the Great Depression. They made it through a couple of wars and some random plane crashes, kept it in the family and got nominated for Grammys, functioning all the way up until 2004. Quite a legacy. And all in the name of Jesus, Sweet Jesus. The best part about this album is that it sounds like there are children singing. Man, people just love the children singing religious songs. I'm especially fond of it when they chant out tracks about evil and hell like, "The Devil's Gonna (Get You)." There's just nothing like having some prepubescent squirts tell you that not only do they have the secret to life, but that if you don't play along you're going to end up burning for all eternity while some jerk looks on and laughs about it. They probably aren't even children. It's probably just those 5 dudes on the front singing like they haven't dropped yet. But hey, who needs to drop when you've got Jesus?

Final Judgement: "Finally, an album worth going to heaven for."

Alistair Anderson: Traditional Tunes

Recorded in 1975 at the Eldron Fennig Folk Museum of American Ephemera, this album is a compilation of traditional tunes on English concertina and the Northumbrian small pipes. Both reed instruments, the resulting tracks are hearty and uplifting instrumentals that bring to mind images of green rolling hills and prolific sheep. Some of the classiest songs include "Four Bare Legs Together" and "The Peacock Followed the Hen." Indeed, the LP states that, "Over the past few years, Alistair Anderson has made the British and American folk world sit up and listen to the dance tunes of Northumberland, Scotland and Ireland. With his English concertina and Northumbrian pipes he interprets the jigs, reels, rants and airs played by the traditional musicians of the British Isles for over 300 years."

In short, you'll be: "Getting 'jiggy' wit it."

Friday, May 16, 2008

Young Guns (1988)

Man, what a killer cast for a suprisingly bland movie. Emilio Estevez, Kiefer Sutherland, Lou Diamond Phillips, Charlie Sheen and Jack Palance all play crucial roles in this 80's western based on the craziness also known as Billy the Kid. Pretty standard "how the West was won" sort of stuff. The film is really only saved by Estevez's mutton chops and the soundtrack, a blend of synthy western riffs and authentic honky tonk/banjo music. Also, Lou Diamond Phillips in scary face paint feeding hicks peyote and the subsequent drug trip was pretty sweet. Got to see some Native Americans (at least I think they were Native Americans...) which is always cool. Lots of horses. Also lots of chew. So....

Final Judgement: "Once is enough."

A Touch of Tyrol

This undated and virtually unavailable LP includes a wide variety of music from the Austrian Alpine range. The recordings are not just choruses and polkas, but the "lusty, leg-slapping dances of local bucks in their lederhosen...pretty girls accompanying local brass bands with their Schnaps for refreshment." And the tracks even claim (through the power of legend-absorbing stylings) to, "tell an old tale such as that of Laurin, King of the Dwarfs, who lived among the rocks of the Rosengarten and enticed the heroes of the Ostrogoths and Lombards to enter his kingdom..." But mostly it's just a heel-kicking good listen. In fact, the only time the pace slows down is for a dazzling display of vocal control in the form of a hearty yodel. You've got to love a good yodel. I mean, they most likely haven't evolved more sophisticated pipes, and yet they're able to do things with their voices that I can barely imagine even after I've heard it. Very impressive. And fashionable. And intriguing. And....sitting on my record player, ready for another spin.

"Old an new, gay and forbidding - the Tyrol runs the gamut. Unified by nature and by tradition, it is unified by music, too - music that is vigorous, warm and joyful, with an underlying strength that stems from a hardy, courageous people."

I deem it: "A veritable dance party!"

Heavy Metal 2000 (2000)

Now this is a film to inspire the ages. Although it differs drastically from the original, Heavy Metal 2000 definitely brings something to the screen. Mostly animated nudity and violence, and a few truly nauseating graphics, but hey, what were you really expecting? The concept, other than to make women with the biggest breasts possible and a hard-rock soundtrack to die for, is basically one of bad vs. evil. It includes the elixir of immortality, which only works as long as you can imbibe it, and some hot aliens that are hot specifically because they have the elixir remnants in their ground water; and then there's some draining and consuming of their precious bodily fluids. Yum. Throw in skimpy outfits, a variety of planets and species, a taste for revenge, mystic aliens, a wise-cracking horndog, a little rock creature, unnecessary sex and violence, and hand animated + 3-D CGI effects and you've got a very enjoyable film. Right?

Final Verdict: "WATCH (but not around children)!"

Steel (1997)

"C.R.E.A.M. - Cash rules everything around me!"

"I boogie around danger like a soul train dancer!"

"I'm about to smoke you like a blunt!"

"Well, I'll be dipped in shit and rolled in breadcrumbs!"

These are just a few of the cash-money moments in Steel, a late 90's flick starring the gigantically awesome Shaquille O'Neal (7'1") as an ex-military weapons designer who comes back to his hood in LA only to find his archfoe (a white dude) using all the local gang-bangers to show off, and subsequently auction off, stolen weapon designs. And these are not just semi-automatics: we're talking sonic explosions and lasers that cut through metal. Thank god for the world, Shaq actually has a paraplegic (later to be X-Files) hottie and an Ole Uncle Joe (Richard Roundtree of Shaft) who can make even more awesome weapons (giant do-all hammer, superhero suit made of steel + additional gadgets) and then kick bad-guy ass. The best part is when the paraplegic honey reveals that her wheelchair is actually filled with lasers and sonic weapons and proceeds to save Shaq and then reveals (even more startling!) that her wheelchair can extend to standing height so that way they can hug each other! Yay for hugging! While we don't get any nudity, there is plenty of Shaq attempting to form words in this version of a poor man's (literally), black version of Batman. And we can all be proud on the inside to see him inspiring so many little black children to stay away from gangs.

Final Verdict: "Totally Awesome."

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

The Order (2003)

Known as Sin Eater in most other places in the world, this dark, semi-apocalyptic religious thriller has found a place on my blog mostly because I have a weakness for religious thrillers. Ah the world of demons and the structure of the religious institution. It's rife with myth and perfect for supernatural themed movies. This pic is definitely on the slow side, but if you're substantially stoned, you should have no problem being riveted, especially once the bizarro blood-and-devil acid collages start up. Minimal CGI, but it's for the best. I also like how the plot structure is basically a big "fuck you" to Hollywood. And the darkness of the movie is definitely emphasized by the uncanny hindsight of Heath Ledger's death. All in all, substantially weird, seriously dark, and a fine evening of demon inspired thrills.

Final Judgment: "Good for a Monday night."

Navy Variety Ensemble

Ah, the Israeli Navy Variety Ensemble. The good news about this Hebrew 60's psych meets show tunes album is that it's available online. If you don't feel like sifting through the international clearance bins at your local music retailer, you can just buy the LP online (for about $35) or even the 2004 released CD ($18). Granted, I got mine at Amoeba for $1, but that's the price you pay for convenience I guess. Produced by Hed-Arzi Ltd., Israel, this LP is just what it says. The variety part is especially evident when you see that the dudes and dudettes on the front cover are wearing top hats and waving around umbrellas. All in all, looks like being in the Navy can be boring at times, and this was their way of getting some release. I'll take what I can get and when I can get it. I especially like the style, since the psych/show tunes aspect drives it a little further from what I've heard out of a lot of Israeli military music. Man, I love the military music.

Final Judgment: "Drunk on a boat and looking for some fun."

Go Ye.. Id..

Oh Eric and Carlos. They left Argentina in March of 1964 to journey to Miami and spread Christian testimony to the peoples. In Argentina, Carlos Ibarbalz studied public accounting and Eric Ericsson was a medical student. "Despues de 2 años de viaje cubriendo la mayoria de los paises del continent americano, y antes de partir hacia el Oriente, desean dejar como recuerdo este disco con himnos y coros de America, en agradecimiento a tantos amigos y hermanos en Cristo que les acompañan en sus oraciones." Says Carlos, "We speak and give our testimony in word and song with Eric playing accordion or piano." The best part about the record is not their pleas to "join in in Spanish!" but the fact that they're just not very good. It gives quite a delightful aspect to this piece of history. And while I don't necessarily agree with the message, I am certainly down with the means.

I deem it: "vaguely inspirational."

Haverford Township Junior High School

Music Night 1969. Doesn't it seem like everything awesome was happening in '69? Well, this is another prime example. Granted, I have a soft spot for music that is not attempting to be commercial, or, at least in this case, is a failed attempt at commercialization. I mean, I don't even know how many of these records are left in the world, let alone floating through retail stores. But the LP, translated from a furnished tape of the Haverford Township (Pennsylvania) Junior High School Band and Orchestra Music Night in 1969, is not only decent music (Bach, VanAuken, Gass, Panerio, etc...) but a piece of cultural history. Just as I enjoy listening to jungle tribes sing while they work, I can appreciate kids forced into music class at age 12 attempting to recreate some of the greatest compositions in history. And thus, I share it with the world.

Final Judgement: "Good with Scrabble."

Solar Crisis (1990)

Apparently Solar Crisis managed to achieve its only acclaim through the fact that it's the biggest budget film to go straight to video. It says "From the visual wizards that brought us Star Wars and 2010," on the cover, but don't let that do more than remind you of the better days. Poor Charlton Heston. Also in this slow but more-or-less interesting apocalypse sci-fi are Jack Palance (of City Slickers fame), Peter Boyle (who made an appearance in Outland), and Michael Berryman, that freaky looking guy who always plays a deformed mutant (no, not Danny Trejo...). It definitely steals from other sci-fi ventures, but at least it chooses well. Mad Max inspired bandits roam the highways and there's a serious Kubrick moment with a colored acid flashback as the biogenetically engineered chick (who showed off some serious tatas in an uncomfortable situation before being mentally hacked for the enemy) flies an anti-matter weapon directly into the Sun. Also, there's the requisite depressed computer A.I.

Final Judgement: "It could have been a lot worse."