Thursday, May 28, 2009

The Faculty (1998)

Ahh, the nineties. This here is one of them 'time-and-place' kinda pictures, where every part of it seems like an awkwardly unintentional representation of just a few short years in some specific kinda place. For The Faculty, this time is the second half of the nineties, and the place is Texas, U.S. of A. Like all Robert Rodriguez pics, we get a bunch of cameos by mostly, as of 1998, undiscovered stars like Salma Hayek, Jon Stewart, Robert Patrick, Famke Janssen, Usher, and Elijah Wood. Oh, and Josh Hartnett and Jordana Brewster are in it, but they're not really going anywhere on the fame ladder. I was a little shocked with this piece, much like the first time I watched From Dusk till Dawn. Like in that flick, where I was suddenly and heartily thrust into the world of vampires, The Faculty took me by surprise. This time it's aliens. To be honest, I was totally suspecting on the zombie side of the field, but creepy CGI aliens coming out of pods and drinking water endlessly it is. Actually, the whole thing publicly acknowledges its primary inspiration by, and quasi-plagarism of, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, an important work of cult science-fiction. This time it's the 90's twist. We've got the most quintessentially late nineties high school students (the nerd, the jock, the bitch, the new girl, the intelligent outcast, the quasi-lesbian goth, the one Black kid, etc..) doing quintessential things like selling homemade drugs out of house cleaners and caffeine pills. In fact, the director pulled a product placement exchange with Tommy Hilfiger, completing the stereotype in a dimension that I had barely considered. The school violence is a little uncomfortable but still oddly appropriate. And the football team angle completes every Gen Y's high school experience. Oh high school. Am I the only one who went to a high school where jocks didn't beat the shit out of people? What's up with that? No seriously, it's no wonder Elijah looks like a little girl, because after a few of those flagpost nut-hits, he's not even going to have man parts anymore. Anyway, the movie was a success, making back just under 3x it's original budget of $15 million. The blood and gore seems mostly legit. The stereotypes are spot-on. The twists and turns keep you guessing. And somehow (oh wait, it's the fortune and fame angle), the nerd gets the girl.

Final Judgment: "Finally, a movie that will make you feel a little better about your own HS experience!/CGI aliens really complete the absurdity and cheesiness of this passionate gruyere!/If I was ever going to experiment in creepy sex fetishes, Patrick would definitely be my guy!/Oh the baby-faced boys!

"Now these 6 students won't just question authority: they'll have to destroy it."

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Tapeheads (1988)

Well, this is pretty much one of those movies that reminds me why I do what I do. Yes indeed-y, there's nothing like spending hours sifting through stacks of and stacks of movies, primarily unwanted copies of Austin Powers II, Batman & Robin and Picture Perfect, only to discover a hidden gem, a masterpiece which might not have otherwise wandered across your crooked path. This is one of those movies. Made in 1988 by an unknown, Bill Fishman, who continues on his journey within obscurity, this puppy was produced on just $10k. Now that's a legit low-budget flick. And, it actually made money, can you believe it? Oh, the hope. The original hipster of films, this piece of work combines parody with absurdity, insanity and vulgarity, a prettier mix I've never seen before. And reasoning out why Cusack and Robbins agreed to be in this off-kilter independent piece simultaneously boggles and arouses my mind. I mean, they had both been in some serious stuff, like Top Gun and Sixteen Candles; even Better off Dead! Oh well, whatever their reasons, they have triumphantly climbed aboard the pedestal of movie greatness, at least in my brain. And for some reason, my brain is really where I get all of my best information. Other cameos include Doug E. Fresh, Weird Al Yankovich, Courtney Love, etc. Oh, the '80s. But seriously: claymation chicken, a glittery Swedish band, a tits and ass video, the midriff with sweatpants, the skeeze moustache, an African-American cowboy band, the totally random chick fight with nunchaku and switchblades, an amazing music treble cleft glitter jacket, and a barrel jamaican band with video cop and public sex. And those are just the parts I bothered to write down!

I deem it: A barrel of fun and some outrageous primates (Cusack and Robbins that is)/Everything I could dream of in an 1980's music-scene comedy/Oh the outfits!/Tits and Ass forever!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Crossworlds (1997)

I'm the first to admit, I was late to hop on the Hauer-express, but now, I just can't say no! Although, to be fair, Hauer with a didgeridoo on the cover was only about 2/3 of the reason that I bought this movie. There was also this concept of transdimensional travel and a red planet with a giant sun. Unfortunately, the cover was slightly misleading. First of all, that's a fucking staff, not a didgeridoo. I mean, they had to go and get me so excited about the bizarre possibilities of how that was going to play out and it turned out to be a staff? And then the planet of red, another misleading representation of legitimate sci-fi. No, there was only the same desert as in the other shot, but with a red filter. Just because I didn't direct a couple of girly tv-shows doesn't mean I don't know what a filter looks like! To give the film credit, the last 4 minutes are really all I had wanted the entire movie: a military operation in a dimension on another planet with two suns. Other than that last awesome bit, the other dimensions are clearly just people dressed in period clothing. I mean, come on; what's the chance that you're going to transdimensionalize into an era so close to the one we're currently living in? Out of all the millions and billions of years in the universe....But what dimension is this movie living in? That's a whole nother question. Because the earliest date I'm seeing for this flick is 1996, but I swear to god, these people are all wearing 93/94 clothes, tops. We actually did some research to see what "normal" people looked like in 1994. It was pretty amazing. But seriously, another question: why the hell was Jack Black in this movie? I mean, why did we spend the first ten minutes at some dopey college party with Black hackin' it up and getting wasted? It's slightly beyond me, but just slightly. And the Arabs and the dwarf? Oh well; you can't completely lambaste the crazy sci-fi when you're so lucky as to be blessed with a nugget of rocket-head and low-budget rumpus, brouhaha, donnybrook or hullabaloo. I'm tempted to post this other commentary and let it do all the ironic speaking for me (ironic for you and me, not for them). And temptation has won again.

"Sometimes I wonder what the drive is for making a movie. In my world there is supposed to me some sort of reason for spending millions of dollars on producing a movie. In the case CROSSWORLDS I am lost. I am not able to grasp why on earth this movie is made. It is so bad so bad.

Most of all because the movie does not even *try* to tell us what is all about. I can deal with movies that *tries* to tell us something very unbelievable. I find THE MATRIX a great movie and I can even appreciate STARGATE because both movies *try* to persuade their viewers to go along with a unbelievable story. In the case with CROSSWORLDS they just blabber around with scepters, warlords, keys, gates and trans-dimensional armies. There is absolutely no meaning in all this and they don't even try to make a meaning of it.

If that wasn't enough there is so many horrible scenes and bad acting in this movie that it would feel like a pleasure to sit through even the worst Jean Claude Van Damme movie. How about:

*1* The army of Ferris that is supposed to have conquered an entire dimension - but where is it????? Nowhere. Apparantly it consists of two handfulls of arab warriors. And they can't even beat a fat Rutger Hauer - I have trouble seeing them and their kind conquer an entire dimension unless that dimension was populated with blind dwarfs with no arms. *2* How is Joe able to fight (and win over) these lame arab warriors shortly after he almost fell unconsious to the ground and was sick to his stomach - caused by transdimensional jetlag (no kidding). How about that for a sudden cure! *3* A.T.s little workshop dissappears suddenly and turns into an ordinary motel room. But when Joe comes back the workshop is there again - he has apparantly done something different. But what is it?? The movie don't even try to explain it. Well I guess the workshop is transdimensional too. *4* Why did Ferris save Laura and Joe when they fall to the ground after he has pushed them of the roof. Instead of killing them? The movie offers no explanation. *5* What is it with these ravens that are scattered around in the movie? The producers offer os no explanation.

And I really could go on - the nonsence just continues in this "movie". The last 10 minutes of the movie are almost unbearable. The acting and the writing and the nonsence reached record depth. I almost cried out "WHY WHY WHY". The movie offers no explanation.

Rating: 1 of 10. " - Rimmer-10

Final Judgment: "Transdimensional Warfare + Rutger Hauer = No Explanation Needed!"

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Só Forró (1975)

Well, I could find nothing about this album online, although a few of the artists came up on sites like "musicapopular." I don't really know what that's all about because the album is pretty freaking solid. I mean, as long as you like Brazilians and the accordion, we should be flying high here. The LP in my possession is actually a 1983 re-release of the same album, and like the internet, provides little to no information about itself. I can see that it's a compilation with tracks from dudes named Leonel, Silveira and Adolfo, and I can tell from the complete lack of english and the no-name label that it was actually pressed and released in Brasil, but other than that, we're mostly in the dark. But pray ask yourself?: what more could we really want? If the music alone isn't enough, you better pack your Hohner and go.
Final Judgment: "¡Baile mi esclavo, baile!

Der Grosse Zapfenstreich (1966)

Well, on this sunny day filled with dogs and sushi, I thought I'd throw up a few musical ventures onto this here blog-o-mystery. Where better to start than with the Germany military marches?! Played by the Band of the 11th Panzer-Grenadier Division, this LP was released as part of the Polydor International Music Series, because nothing says the 60's like German drums-a-banging. And the album comes with a nice big warning label: "Authentic recording produced in Hamburg." Well, I guess with all that South Seas shit masquerading as the real article with natives on the cover when it's actually some sort of Broadway assassin, an actuality advertisement ain't all that bad (reminds me of that SARS-free tourist shop I stopped by in St. Petersburg...). Irregardless, there's plenty of banging, lots of cadence, and quite a few tattoos (sounds like my first girlfriend). And there are some pretty random marches like "March of the Finnish cavalry of the 30 years war" and "Ancient tattoo from the 18th century." I even learned that tattoos originated in wine and revelry, as did most good things. So suck it up, enjoy the beat and think authority. As the album itself declares, this music can only provide you with one thing:
Final Judgment: "A glorious sound from ancient time recalls the murmur of eternity"

Recap! Classics Alert!

I've been catching Spencer up with all of the classic movies that he somehow missed as a child. These creatures most definitely made the list. And I quite enjoyed reliving so many moments of joy in the form of delirious action films. Commence!

Superman I (1979) and II (1980) - Man oh man, these are classic. And they were made so long ago! Christopher Reeve was spry and limber, Gene Hackman still had a passion to live, and comic relief was a must have in any box-office action adventure. I was definitely one of those kids asking why people didn't recognize him; he just has different hair and some glasses! His demeanor is pretty good though, so credit there. But seriously, the comedy in this is over the top, off the hook, out of control: pick your moniker. The ape of a sidekick is pretty epically foolish, as is the dumb blonde in a hot-air balloon. And I appreciate how the director (the second one; the one who used the death of the Donner's cinematographer to completely regraft the film into an even more ridiculous bonanza) attempted to use every frickin' film technique known to man or god. Brilliant! Final Judgment: "Of course he's Jewish!"

Con Air (1997) - If I had to pick one movie to represent action before the turn of the millennium, this would be it. Although, since it's part of a Cagey trio (The Rock! Face/Off!), it is interchangeable with either of the other brilliant installments. Seriously, I don't think a movie without Michael Bay attached to it can get any more epic. This was actually the director's first foray into feature length, and I bet that Bay shut him up with a few hits to the knees after this piece; couldn't have any over-drama competition! But really, a long-haired military officer whose hands are deadly weapons thanks to his proud and honorable service and who accidentally kills some guy defending his wife and then somehow gets mixed up with the worst of the worst criminals who, for some reason, they've decided to stick all onto the same plane with advance warning for planning, from whom he then has to protect his diabetic black friend and the pretty lady jail guard. Woo-ee. And that doesn't even emphasize the heroic drama music pulsing throughout the film, John Malkovich, John Cusack, Ving Rhames, Steve Buscemi or Dave Chapelle. I mean, it doesn't get any more American patriotic, masculine, beat the shit out of everything, action genre than this! Final Judgment: "Oh Shit!/How do I live without you?"

Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979): Okay, so I admit, I'd never actually seen this movie before. Yes, I'm a first time Trekker. But you got to start somewhere! I'm not sure how TV-Trekkies felt about this picture, but I thought it was pretty fucking amazing. I mean, it's the Singularity! Yes, that fucking Singularity follows me around wherever I go! If not the traditional definition of man merging with machine to form a new species, you at least have the evolution of artificial intelligence to a sentient being. The villain is the fucking Voyager! That's so amazing! Apparently, tens of thousands of years travelling through outer space can lead to some serious thinking. They even invented special instruments and everything was colorful and insightful and epic. If I had known that this is what I was missing in Star Trek, I would have gotten on this shit a long time ago! Final Judgment: "Oh the Singularity, how you mock my mortal soul!"

Thursday, May 7, 2009

The Secret of NIMH (1982)

Man, there are so many reasons why this film is awesome. It's actually a little crazy how many reasons there are. And the fact that it's animated is just the umbrella under which they fall. First of all, Don Bluth, one of the greatest animator/storytellers of all times, literally defected from Disney to make this film since the big D thought it was "too dark" to be a commercial success. No seriously, the 20+ animators that followed Bluth out of the Disney Dungeon were labeled "The Disney Defectors." Since Disney is basically the Demon behind copyright issues, I think we can all throw out a "super-awesome" for that one. The subject matter is definitely dark, and that's probably why I loved it growing up. I mean, lambasting animal testing and depicting animals that are smarter than humans? That's what I live for (cough cough, Neanderthal species concept)! Those rats are so fucking awesome with their reading and their electricity and their councils and magic powers! Have you ever seen any animated characters more bad-ass than Nicodemus? Or what about the Great Owl? Two bad-asses with glowing eyes in one movie? Totally tubular! In fact, it's a little confusing how the movie pulled a G rating when they were aiming for PG with the death and violence and totally crazy-dark-deep theme. They blamed some of the poor reception on the rating (the system always finds a way to fuck you I guess), and it's really obvious how that's a possibility, especially with the completely out-of-character covers they been putting out lately. They're all shiny and brightly-colored with smiling animals like this is some fucking walk through the woods and not a deeply metaphysical examination of animal consciousness, evolution, and theories of magic and transcendence (okay, so I don't know if it's quite that deep...)! Well, if you actually get past the pathetically childish DVD cover, you will happen upon a film with some seriously invested animation. The imdb trivia page uses phrases like "color Xerography," "backlit art in an anamorphic format," "multiplane camera" and "pseudo-hologram." Yes, pseudo-hologram; does it get any more awesome? (yes, I'm a nerd; was there really any question?). Indeed, the film had 1078 backgrounds and over 600 colors. Okay, now I'm just fact-spouting. But seriously, "the multiplane techniques... adapted for the project include a pseudo-hologram and the use of backlit animation making every dewdrop sparkle or supernatural amulet glow with a brilliance never seen before in animated films since Fantasia (1940)." They make it sound like something so original and awe-inspiring (which it is), but what the fuck had they been doing for the past 40 years? Why is film technology going backwards? It's so confusing! It probably goes hand in hand with our shortened attention spans and the increasing need to consume absolutely everything. The point is, Secret of NIMH is awesome. Awesome, awesome, awesome.

I deem it: "Rambunctiously radical, motivated and moral/Put this on the list with Ferngully for movies that triumphantly turned me into a little hippie/I have to get on building that Bluth shrine in my corner.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Max Payne (2008)

Okay, well before you even ask that oh-so-fated question: no, I've never played the game. And you know what?: Who fucking cares?! If a movie can't stand on its own, than why even bother? This film wasn't even a traditional box office failure since it tripled its budget in returns. But everybody hated it! Like, some serious hating going down. Maybe it's the game-bros-before original-thought-hos thing or something, but people really, really disliked this movie. Personally, I thought it was one of the better action movies to hit screens in the last half-decade or so. First of all, the cinematography is gorgeous. Wide-screen and vivid, high contrast, real sets; the whole rigmarole. In fact, for a $35 million budget, it's pretty impressive. They used high speed photography to create effects, shot at night to hype up the darkness, and used minimal green screen. There are even crazy man-puppet-demons! That's right, give props to Mako, the dude in the make-up and Celtic demon suit. I mean, the movie looked good. And to me, that's worth a million words. For other people, it just doesn't seem to be the case, since most complaints consisted of "boring script" and "not enough action." It's pretty pathetic when visuals can't pull along a film (go get a fucking radio, you idiots) and jerkweeds on imdb suggest that without John Woo's 'American slo-mo,' an action movie just ain't right. And that's why I threw this one up there: total disrespect for the visual! And with hallucinations and all!

Final Judgment: "Dark and delicious!/Aren't crazed hallucinations and death-defying drugs enough anymore?/Craftfully creepy in a comic-con, religious-thriller, action-flick sort of way!/It slides right down!/Pay homage to the screen, not the mindless banter!