Saturday, December 25, 2010

Mortal Kombat (1995)

Well....I may not have a beard or a potbelly (not yet at least), but I bring unto thee a gift of Christmas! This glorious film takes its place as perhaps the most perfectly managed videogame to movie adaptation. Yes, Super Mario Bros. can cause swooning disorders, and yes, Resident Evil makes me pickle up in the most pleasant of places, but Mortal Kombat takes its place at the pinnacle of film exultations based on its simplicity. Okay, to be fair...simplicity may not be the first word that comes to mind when thinking of this graciously garish mid-nineties concoction that combines that oh-so-wonderful pair of technologies - over-the-top sets and costumes + early CGI backdrops = lending itself quite cozily to the cheesiest of cheese smears that screams late millennium, hardcore escapism and classic battles of good and evil to save the Universe. But just step back and consider: somehow in all that craziness, Anderson managed to make the weirdos of Mortal Kombat make sense, with a plot that calls for exactly what the game offers - straight up tournament style battles between two awkwardly crazy opponents, working up to the immortal Masterminds controlling this eternal warzone. Did I mention that this all takes place with deliciously delightful techno music and hot babes? Ultimately, this movie needs no verbal description. Instead I present this photojournal essay on the Greatness of Mortal Kombat:

Final Judgment: Garishly great in a way that makes me wish that my desire to live in the 90's extended beyond my movie taste! This TKO'ed my senses like a fiery salsa or a searing curry - and I loved it! This is what movies are all about! = Prepare Yourself!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Johnny Mnemonic (1995)

Well, I can't believe I haven't written about this movie before, because it's surely one of my all-time favorites. It all started long, long ago, in a galaxy far, far away, otherwise known as 185 Nassau Hall, Princeton University. It was in that distant place where my rather well-to-do film professor informed the class that Johnny Mnemonic was indeed, the worst Hollywood movie ever made. As he described the futuristic sets, cyberpunk themes, delirious computer graphics, robotic characters (literally) and mix of gratuitous costuming and colored lighting, I knew it was love at first sight. I'm sorry Mr. Sanborn, but this here movie might be one of the most glorious things to ever saunter delicately into my existence. The film is also known as Fugitivo del Futuro, and my imdb friend Miho Ishimine describes the plot quite wonderfully,

"In 2021, the whole world is connected by the gigantic Internet, and almost a half of the population is suffering from the Nerve Attenuation Syndrome (NAS).Johnny with an inplanted memory chip in his brain was ordered to transport the over loaded information from Beijing to Newark. While Pharmakom Industries supported by yakuza tries to capture him to get the informaiton back, the Low-tech group led by J-Bone tries to break the missing code to download the cure of NAS which Johnny carries."
Ah, mi-hijo/mijo Miho, someday the gigantic Internet will eat us all. What my friend didn't mention is that Keanu Reeves, Ice-T and Dolph Lundgren, clearly some of the greatest action actors of the 1990's, all graced this film with their immaculate presences. Keanu plays the wooden cyber-smuggler who just wants "room service," and, "a 10,000 $ a night hooker!" Ice-T is clearly playing J-Bone, a rebel leader with the deadliest of dreadlocks. I can't decide if I hope he named his own character or not....And Dolph, amazingly enough, plays some cyborg, assassin preacher-man with his super awesome crucifix knife that, try as I might, I can't seem to find for purchase on the gigantic Internet. It's okay, time is on my side. Another thing that so preciously needs to be added to any summary of this epic encounter is the fact that the real hero is a flippin' dolphin with a cyber helmet! His sonic laser beams kill bad guys and broadcast truth across the globe simultaneously! And he is probably the ugliest dolphin ever made! We get to enjoy him while gliding through a multi-colored, graphicized version of digital reality that brings back sweet memories of Lawnmower Man while reminding me once again why I love my wacko sci-fi movie collection. Ahhh, VHS. Anywho, this movie will blow your mind.
Final Judgment: "Film professors everywhere beware: El Fugitivo del Futuro is invading mindspace in multiple dimensions and it feels so right!/Robot dolphins with brain powers make everything better!/Clearly Keanu has nothing to be sad about!/Oh, the nineties, won't you come back to me?

Ps. Oh, did I mention that this movie is based on a book by one of my absolute favorite authors, cyberpunk god, William Gibson? He also wrote the very famous and very influential "Neuromancer," as well as a slew of other genius works. Woohoo cyberpunk!

"Listen. You listen to me. You see that city over there? THAT’S where I’m supposed to be. Not down here with the dogs, and the garbage, and the fucking last month’s newspapers blowing *back* and *forth*. I’ve had it with them, I’ve had it with you, I’ve had it with ALL THIS —
I WANT ROOM SERVICE!!! I want the club sandwich, I want the cold Mexican beer,
I want a $10,000-a-night hooker. I want my shirts laundered…like they do…
at the Imperial Hotel…in Tokyo."

Friday, October 29, 2010

The Big Picture (1989)

I pulled this puppy out of a mail-crate full of laserdiscs the other day while looking for something fun to share with a friend. Even though I'd never heard of it, it was both obvious why I'd purchased it and why it was the perfect portion for that evening's entertainment imbibement. First of all, it's a Christopher Guest movie starring Kevin Bacon. If you don't know who Mr. Guest is, you're probably wrong - you just don't know his name. He's the beaut who pumped out some of the most glorious parody films of the last twenty-five years including This is Spinal Tap, A Mighty Wind, Best in Show, yatatatata and most famously (if you ask me), The Princess Bride. If you don't know who Kevin Bacon is then....well, I recommend Wild Things because you get to see his dong in it. Yes full frontal! This passion-play falls right up there with Dr. Guest's other greats. And although it made like zero money at the box office (117k to the 5mill budget = yikes!), it clearly stands to make it's place among cult classics. First of all, the guest stars are off the hook. We're talking Martin Short, Fran Drescher, John Cleese and Richard Belzer, not to mention starring roles played by Jennifer Jason Leigh and Teri Hatcher. And seriously, Teri Hatcher's mane could send the zebras running. She is wild! All the hair in this movie is pretty out of control - not that surprising really. I love matching poof bangs! Also, The Big Picture uses some absolutely sickeningly sweet animation sequences, including historical figure thimble dances, to keep the pace up. The whole thing is speckled with noir scenes and alternate reality segments that really set it apart from other 80's comedies. Ironically enough, according to Siskel and Ebert, that's exactly what makes this movie a two-thumb down catastrophe. No wonder Hollywood is so homogenized! Seriously! Whatever dudes. Go suck on a lemon!

Ps. I totally dug The Invention of Lying and not just because I love Jennifer Garner and movies that are willing to bash the Christians. Oh wait, maybe that's exactly why I liked it...

Friday, July 30, 2010

Los Calchakis - Flautas, Arpa y Guitarras Indigenas

Los Calchakis - Flautas, Arpa y Guitarras Indigenas
Released on Arion. Hecho en Mexico, 1975

Takirari del Regreso
Isla Saca
Vidala Tucumana
La Cumbrena
Pago Largo
Bailecito de Manzanares
El Cari Cari

Side B
Concierto en la Llanura
La Rotunda
A Los Bosques

Mocidade Independente de Padre Miguel

Bateria Nota 10. A Autentica Musica Popular Brasileira, Via Top Tape, Para o Mundo

Side A:
Azar de quem for Surdo
Afina a Cintura

Side B:
Barato Bichol
Pe Rasteiro
Ganhando na Mao Grande

Orchestra Prima Rosa - Fascination

Released on RCA, Japan

Side A
13 Jours en FranceCharmaineA Waltz for CynthiaEdelweiss
The Carousel Waltz
The Last Waltz

Side B:
I Really Don't Want to Know
I Went to Your Wedding
Tennessee Waltz
The Doggie in the Window
Missouri Waltz
Let Me Call You Sweetheart
When I Grow Too Old to Dream

Himnos y Marchas de la Revolucion Cubana

Released by Areito Records. Havana, Cuba

Side A:
Himno Nacional
Desde Yara Hasta La SierraHasta Siempre, Cuba
Marcha de la Revolucion
Cuba Socialista

Side B:
Marcha del 26 de Julio
Muerte al Invasor
Al Pueblo
Patria Liberada
Viva el Socialismo

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Turbulence (1997)

Well, the nineties certainly seemed to be a decade of airplane-crash/hostage movies. This quickly came to a halt after you-know-what happened in 2001. That is...except for couple of creepy lesbian horror movies (ie Flightplan) that made me a little uncomfortable, as many of the recent Jodie Foster movies (cough cough The Brave One) tend to do. This streak will no doubt NOT be remedied by her upcoming appearance in The Beaver with Mel Gibson and a hand puppet. Yikes. Anyway, so there were airplane hostage movies in the nineties. Actually both Air Force One and Con Air came out within a year of this piece of work. And I hate to say it, but I think this movie might actually be the least believable of the three. That's right, there is something less realistic than putting all of the worst criminals alive on a single plane with almost zero protection and then having a stringy haired marine with a criminal record, a heart-of-gold and a terrible accent, plus John Cusack in a suit, single-handedly take down the villains and land the plane in Las Vegas successfully with few casualties despite taking out several buildings. And that thing is Turbulence. I just could not grab control of my suspension of disbelief in this movie for one, almost-unbelievably innocuous detail: why is this a two-level plane flying on Christmas day with fewer than 10 passengers and way too many Christmas decorations? Why? Why? Why? Please, someone, explain it to me. Actually, now that I think about it, I have some other questions too. Why would they ever fly dangerous criminals on a commercial flight and then let them use the bathroom without watching them? Why? Why? Why? I mean, if the whole movie is going to take place on two sets, the airplane and the control room, couldn't they come up with a better explanation for being there? Why does everyone in this movie looks like they teleported out of 1993? Why did this movie cost an absurd $55 million? And why, why, why is this the most useless female character of all time? All she does is whine about men the whole movie. Before she gets on the plane, whine. When she's stewardess-servicing the criminals with all the other female/gay flight attendants, whine. When they're killing people, whine. When the plane is flying upside-down (apparently they can do that), whine. She can't even land the flipping plane! She has to have some British dandy with crossed legs and a spot of tea talk her through it. And by that, I mean he has to talk her through pushing the 'autopilot' button. Whew! Good thing there was such a strong character aboard the plane to push that button! Great use of female action power! And to top it off, I think she goes on a date with that British dude-pilot. Good thing the day wasn't a complete loss for her! She fended off that crazy sex-pot psychopath, the ever-greasy Ray-Liotta, evaded death unlike so many of her best friends and colleagues, and she used her coocha to move up the business ladder. Cha-ching! As one clearly adept reviewer remarked, "This film makes DIE HARD 2 look like a documentary." Well said.

Final Judgment: "Rife with incredulous laughs and scoffs of disbelief, this box-office bomb epitomizes the fantasies and capitalistic mantra of the entertainment industry; in other words = Fist Pump this Party-Poppin' Bitch, Baby!"

Ps. This is the second photo that came up when I googled "Sexy Ray Liotta." Amen.

Monday, May 10, 2010

They Live (1988)

The harbinger of horror, John Carpenter, strikes again. The best part about Carpenter, in my twisted opinion, is his sense of subtlety. 'Whaaaaa?' you may be saying. Yes, there are cheesy lines and 5min20sec fights, and the always popular and practically bad-80's-plaid with bulging muscles and a mullet look. And don't forget the chuckle-inspiring peer-over-the-sunglasses move that defined so many childhoods and terrible pick-up attempts. It's almost like he wrote this movie for the sunglasses! But seriously, it's pretty subtle. There aren't ridiculous lasers flying around or giant bug puppets ripping heads off. And there aren't brains splattering across the screen or space ships hurtling through farmlands and abducting cows. No no, not Carpenter. Here we have the subtlety of political and social commentary with restricted effects and well-choreographed fight scenes. In today's continuous CGI fuck-fest, we often forget the beauty of restraint. Well, here it is my friends. Pulling on Lovecraft's concept of Cosmic Horror, be prepared to submit to the fact that we are just livestock for our alien politicians and advertising is actually extra-terrestrial brain-washing techniques that make us worship money. I mean, let's face it, the metaphor stands. One imdb commentator clearly took the message a little too close to heart. But his comments are pretty amazing:

"This movie is not so much about aliens who are hiding among us, but instead it taps into the deeply submerged suspicion held by most of us that we are being manipulated and taken advantage of by the elite of American society, by our leaders, by the rich, etc. Also, we sometimes feel that we are manipulated and programmed (in a subtle way) to respect hierarchical authority ( e.g., the "OBEY" subliminal command from the movie)...
So, the major theme of the m
ovie is not, as another poster correctly pointed out, about being manipulated to be good little consumers in a crassly commercial world. No, it is far more profound than that. Instead, it is more about how the working class Americans in _They Live_ are being exploited by the elite upper crust, who, in the movie, happen to be aliens, but who, in the real world, are a subsociety that use their collective power to exploit the rest of us. "

Thank you Cryofan for making all sci-fi lovers and potential believers in extra-solar life seem like total wack-jobs building up their underground bunkers for the self-induced apocalyptic stand against the government. We're not....I swear. The comment would almost be acceptable if it didn't us the phrase "deeply submerged suspicion held by most of us." What, is he on some secret team that I don't know about?
Anyway, if all of that wasn't reason enough to already be watching this movie, then Carpenter's glorious use of 80's ratings to throw in some LST (last-second titties) should seal the deal.

I deem it: "An epic work of 80's sci-fi that combines Orwellian concepts of patriarchal government with sweet-ass fights and aliens = Booyah baby!"

Quotes worth keeping:

Nada: Brother, life's a bitch... and she's back in heat.

Nada: I have come here to chew bubblegum and kick ass... and I'm all out of bubblegum.

Also, gotta love these photoshopped Bush aliens that I found on some dude's site. I knew there was something wrong with that bastard!