Sunday, November 26, 2006

Scary Movie 4

Scary Movie 4
Directed by: David Zucker, USA, 2006

Comedy, 89min
Distributed by: Buena Vista Home Entertainment


Story:
Fourth instalment to the Scary Movie franchise finds poor Cindy Campbell [Anna Farris] and her trusty companion Brenda [Regina Hall] fighting off Japanese child ghosts, an alien invasion end the enigmatic Jigsaw.

Me:
I love these movies; especially if you are a genre fan you can spot and appreciate all the spoofs that they are filling the movies with. The two first movies in the franchise, directed by the Wayans' brothers are great, the third one, also directed by Zucker was a disaster, but here he seems to have found his groove again. The main story is a weird blending of The Grudge, War of the Worlds, and Saw. You know what you are getting when you sit down to a Zucker movie, nothing is sacred and every thing is having the piss taken out of it. Farris is great as usual, and the main movie parodied this time is Takashi Shimizu’s The Grudge and to be honest, after six instalments of Ju-on – The Grudge 2000-2006, these parodies are what make this movie for me. We all know exactly what should happen next and Zucker just gets crazy with it. I honestly laughed aloud several times watching these hilarious Grudge parodies. There’s even one real shock in the movie. I never would have guessed it but it’s in there and it really shocks you hard. Good job. Loaded with movie references out over the main three mentioned above like The Village, Bareback Mountain, and Million Dollar Baby. There’s even a Tom Cruise making an ass of himself on Oprah parody that is brilliant. There is also a cast full of great names like Charlie Sheen, Bill Pullman, Carmen Electra, Chris Elliot (yeah he’s back!), Molly Shannon, Leslie Nielsen, Michael Madsen, Shaquille O’Neal and even Dr. Phil. Regina Hall is also back as the sex crazed Brenda is still hilarious, especially in the Village and Saw sketches where she manages to twist everything to a sexual innuendo. No I have to hand it to Zucker, he’s rescued this series from a certain death after the third part. Good job, and thanks, it was a long time since I laughed so much.


Image:

Anamorphic Widescreen 1.85:1


Audio:

Dolby Digital 5.1, English, German, French or Spanish audio tracks are optional, Subtitles in Swedish, Danish, Norwegian, Finnish, English, German, French, Spanish Islandic and Dutch are also available. And yes, they even subtitle the commentary track.

Extras:
Loads of extras round off this great disc. Commentary track by director Zucker, producer Robert K. Weiss and writer Craig Mazin, a bunch of deleted scenes, bloopers The Man Behind the Laugh focusing on David Zucker, Zany Spoof Humour – Zucker Style about his brand of comedy, The Visual Effects of Scary Movie about the impressive effects, a short featurette on all the rappers and actors who have cameos in the movie, a short bit about Craig Bierko’s Tom Cruise at Oprah skit, and to round it off a conversation with Zucker, Weiss and Mazin

New York Waiting


New York Waiting
Directed by: Joachim Hedén, Sweden, 2006

Romance / Drama, 88min
Distributed by: Pan Vision AB


Story:
Sidney [Chris Stewart] has sent his ex-girlfriend Coreen [Katrina Nelson] an airplane ticket and an invitation to meet him at the top of the Empire state building in three days to see if there is any way they can get back together again after their year apart. As he counts every day, hour, minutes and seconds left until the date deadline, he wonders around New York until Amy [Annie Woods], who has just walked out on her boyfriend, asks if she can sit next to him at a café. They spend the day together soon their first meeting may be the start of a second chance.


Me:
New York Waiting is a rather decent and sweet movie and although I’m not big fan of romantic dramas I quite enjoyed it. The acting is OK, but I found it a bit irritating that the flashback sequences are in black and white. That was somewhat insulting, as we are accustomed to destructed linear story telling since way back; there was no need for to make the past story so obvious. Director Hedén manages to keep three tales going at once her, Sidney’s back story with Coreen, his feelings for the upcoming meeting with her and his growing emotions for Amy, and Amy’s feelings for Sidney. Dialogue is well written but sometimes comes out a bit tame and could have been acted better. But it’s a decent movie which I enjoyed, even though it was a bit slow in some parts.


Image:

Widescreen 1.85:1


Audio:

Strangely only Dolby Digital 2.0. Swedish, Danish, Finnish and Norwegian subtitles are optional


Extras:

A short behind the scenes / making of where the actors and director talk about the movie. Biographies and trailers for other Sonet Film movies.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Dead Meat


Dead Meat
Directed by: Connor McMahon, Ireland, 2004
Horror, 80 min
Distributed by: Scanbox Entertainment Sweden AB

Story:
Helena [Marián Araújo] and her husband find themselves lost on the Irish landscape. After accidentally hitting a guy with their car they put him in the back to take him to a doctor. But before they get very far he bites a big chunk out of Martin’s [David Ryan] neck. This is just the start of Helena’s forty eight hours in hell as she soon learns that zombies have come back to life and are feeding on everyone they can put their hands on.


Me:
Honest to the genre and financed through funding from the Irish state, McMahon’s low budget zombie movie definitely delivers the goods. The opening is classic zombie movie formula. Along the way the Helena character meets new friends and foes who together try to outlive the zombies. The quiet but wise gravedigger Desmond [David Muyllaert] with his trusty shovel, the aggressive and strange Cathal Cheunt [Eoin Whelan] who acts as a composite of all the prejudices about Irishmen, and his wife Francie [Amy Redmond]. Towards the ending of the movie he shifts the focus from the zombies and has mad cows be the attackers, yes this has a humorous effect but the actors just take it for what it is and don’t go overboard with it, and he manages to squeeze in a great Jurassic Park 1993 homage in the scene too. There are several very scary scenes, especially when the four of them are surrounded by zombies in the pitch black as their car has stalled in the mud. Cheap but well made effects keep the gore on the right side for a zombie movie. Very much in the tone of George A Romero’s zombie movies dark, downbeat and not much time wasted on explaining the reason for the zombie invasion McMahon obviously has passion for his film. He uses conventional approaches but surprises by throwing in interesting scenes to his movie. There is one scene where Helena uses her high heel shoes as weapons, and after this is forced to walk around without shoes for a while. It could easily not have become an issue, but I like it because it adds to the character vulnerability that genre movies often seem to forget. There are a lot of references to movies within the genre, mostly the above mentioned George A. Romero’s movies obviously. There's an arm decapitation right out of Day of the Dead 1985, but that’s fine because even though he takes time to homage his hero’s McMahon manages to create a good movie and a respectful entry into a genre where many fail to bring something new to the table. Shot on location in Ireland the surroundings and atmosphere are great and the many abandoned castles make great creepy settings.


Image:

Anamorphic Widescreen 1.85:1

Audio:
For an independent short movie like this the choices of Dolby Digital 5.1 or dts is fantastic. Subtitles in Swedish, Finnish, Danish or Norwegian are optional


Extras:

Here you will find, Mad Cows and Zombies, a twenty minute documentary on the making of the movie and how it came to be. McMahon’s earlier short movie Brain Eater, the original trailer and even there’s even an audio commentary by the director.

My Dear Killer

My Dear Killer
Original Title: Mio caro assassino

Directed by: Tonino Valerii, Italy/Spain, 1971

Giallo / Mystery, 102 min
Distributed by: Shriek Show

Story:
Inspector Luca Peretti [George Hilton] investigates a remarkable decapitation of an insurance officer, and when he finds the prime suspect hanged in an abandoned ware house it looks like the case is closed. But upon closer investigation, it shows that the suspected killer was in fact murdered! When he looks into the case the insurance officer was investigating it leads him into a family hiding a dark secret.

Me:
Yet another respectable title from Shriek Show’s Giallo Collection and it’s a rather decent movie too. This one stays away from the regular stalked female antagonist and focuses instead on Hilton’s rather down to earth detective, investigation the abduction and murder of a young girl and her father. Valerii, best known for directing the classic western My Name is Nobody 1973, manages to keep you guessing who the killer could be all the way trough. Typical to the genre he throws in a few red herrings here and there, some very effective murders and a vibrating score by Ennio Morricone. What I liked about this giallo is the fact that it’s the detective who always leads the killer to his next victim. When he finds a clue and investigates it, the killer is often the next person to be knocking on the door. When he realises that the kidnapped girl has left a revealing clue at the scene of the murder, he makes the mistake of telling the family and close friends about it as they visit the place where the bodies where found, hence giving away the final key to the killers identity Not until later that night does he realise that he’s just tipped off the killer, and the final race against time is on. Hilton is great the killings are quite few, but very effective. That Black and Decker tool murder is a classic. Morricone’s score is as usual haunting and vibrating at times when the hunt is on. Like I said earlier, it’s a rather decent giallo well worth checking out.

Image:
Widescreen 1.85: 1

Audio:
Unfortunately the English dubbed soundtrack is the only option here, presented in Dolby Digital 2.0.

Extras:
Interviews with lead actor George Hilton, and director Tonino Valerii. Four trailers of other titles in Shriek Shows Giallo collection.

Point Blank


Point Blank
Directed by; John Boorman, USA, 1967
Action / Drama / Classic, 92min
Distributed by: Warner Home Video Inc.

Story:
Walker [Lee Marvin], a hit man as hard as a bag of nails helps out his gangster mate Reese [John Vernon] with one last heist. Reese suddenly turns the tables around and swindles Walker. Walker is shot, left for dead and his share of loot from the robbery is stolen from him by Reese, all $93.000 of it. But you can't keep a cool man down. A year or two later, Walker is back on track and decides that he's going to reclaim his money and get some revenge on Reese for screwing him. He soon find's out that his ex-wife Lynne [Sharon Acker] was having an affair with Reese at the time of his shooting. He tracks down his ex-wife's sister who is Reece's girlfriend Chris [Angie Dickinson], and from her he soon learns that the threads he's been following lead to the top of a secret underworld called The Organisation. So it's The Organisation who now owe Walker his $93.000

Me:

This is one of those movies that left a very big impression on me when I first saw it some twenty years ago, and I still frequently think about this movie. If you think that the story sounds familiar, then your'e probably right, it was remade in 1999 as Payback with Mel Gibson in the Walker role. The movie is a visual orgy of style and innovative tricks, which is probably one of the reasons I still keep returning to it. Just in the first few minutes the viewer is bombarded with loads of strange time cuts, flashing forward and backward to bring us up to date with what we need to know about Walkers back story. Lee Marvin is great as the stone-faced Walker, and Vernon is sleazy as the backstabbing Reese. The women of the movie are all cold and distanced. There's a very seventies American paranoia feel to the movie as each step Walker takes brings him further and further into the murky crime world. You never know who the top dog of the organisation is and where the chase will end. A true gem of seventies US cinema, much in the vein of movies like Coppola's The Conversation 1974, Paul Schrader's Hardcore 1979, and Alan Pakula's The Parallax View 1974. If you liked the Mel Gibson version, then you have to see the original. A true classic.

Image: Anamorphic Widescreen 2.35:1. Beautifully remastered and the print looks great.

Audio:
DolbyDigital 1.0 Mono Optional Englesh or Frech dubbed soundtrack, the commentary track is in 2.0

Extras: A commentary track by John Boorman and Steven Soderberg. The original vintage featurettes from the sixties The Rock part 1 & 2, and the theatrical trailer.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Alice och Jag

Alice och Jag
Directed by: Rebecka Rasmusson, Sweden, 2006

Documentary, 74min

Distributed by: Folkets Bio

Story:
Documentary filmmaker Rebecka Rasmusson sets out to portray the enigmatic Swedish queen of the red carpet Alice Timander as she prepares for her ninetieth birthday. Timander who actually is a dentist is one of Sweden’s most know personalities, and even though she’s not know for anything else but just always being at the grand openings bet it film, theatre or like wise, she never misses an photo opportunity. During the making of the documentary, director Rasmusson finds out that she is pregnant and the guy she thought she was going to spend the rest of her life with leaves her for his ex-wife. Rasmusson soon sees the ironic similarities between her life and Timanders as they together take a philosophical look at life, love, parenthood and family values.


Me:
A fascinating tale which shifts focus very subtly and after a while recaptures my interest. The first ten minutes of just being a straight forward documentary on Timander works fine for the curiosa base, but when Rasmusson starts interweaving her own tale it at first feels pretentious, but she manages to pull it off and my interest for the two women’s lives picks back up. There’s a sombre and melancholic tone throughout the movie as Rasmusson has Timander tell her tale of guilt and lost acknowledgement from her children. Timader systematically retells how she was never really accepted no matter what she took upon herself. So she decided that she’d become the centre of attraction in her own way, and she managed. Like I said, she’s always on the red carpet full of spark even at the ripe age of ninety. Timander tells how her first husband left her to pursue an acting career and her dubious feelings for her second and third husbands. How she fells that her children have alienated her for trying to achieve her goals. Two of her children refuse to take part in the documentary, but her oldest, Annika talks emotionally about her mother and their childhood. At the same time Rasmusson shares her own parallel narrative about the child growing within her, and the lover that left her all of a sudden. She asks Timander for advice and takes learning from her tale. Sometimes a bit sad, sometimes happy, but for the most of the time she keeps it in a philosophical and melancholic tone. Rasmusson doesn’t take any definite side, she relates to Timander through her own life as an ambitious woman, and at the same time relates to Timander’s children through her own relationship to her own mother who shares many of Timander's alienating features. It’s a very warm tale even though it has a dark undertone to it, and I found it very fascinating that Rasmusson manages to interweave two strong female personalities into one tale and tells there and well worth checking out.


Image:

Full screen 4:3. Rasmussen uses a wide variety of formats to tell her and Alice’s joint venture Blending super 8, and Dv cam before blowing it all up to a 35mm print.

Audio:
This screener; Stereo 2.0

Extras:
Being a journalistic screener there was no extras on this edition. I can’t see much more than an original trailer and perhaps a few deleted scenes on an eventual official DVD release.

Fat Girl


Fat Girl
Original title: À ma soer

Directed by: Catherine Breillat, France / Italy, 2001

Drama, 86min

Distributed by: Criterion Corporation.



Story: Two teenage sisters, Anaïs [Anaïs Reboux] and Elena Pingot [Roxanne Mesquida] spend their summer vacation in a dull seaside town. The older of the two, Elena, meets the mature Italian student Fernando [Libero de Rienzo] whom she lets into the two girls sleeping room at night to indulge in sticky sexual escapades. Anaïs lies in the bed next to them staring in shock and awe as Elena looses all of her adolescent sexuality.

Me:
I just can’t see the hype with this movie. I know that Breillat is held high by the elitist film critics, but I honestly can’t come to grasps with this fact. Fat Girl could just as easy have been an Italian or Spanish exploitation flick from the seventies or early eighties. The voyeuristic little Anaïs watching her older sister’s sexual experimentation and persuasive contempt to being raped by her older lover, the non understanding parents, the downbeat ending where Anaïs is violently raped after seeing her family murdered. It’s all elements that have been done and done and done so many times before, but the simple fact that Breillat is cheered on as some kind of genius director just gets on my nerves. I can appreciate what she tries to do with Fat Girl, but it didn’t really impress me. Yes. it is a decent movie, it is effective and it is a disturbing movie, Breillat avoids explicit sexual acts in this movie, but the themes and the way she chooses to portray them are still close to the early exploitation movies. Breillat’s major step into celebrity outside of France, where she already was a provocative celebrity, was with her movie Romance X 1999 where she had actress Caroline Ducey being fucked senseless by porn star Rocco Siffredi and claimed that it was a study of Gender roles, and masculinity. But come on, cast Rocco fucking people and show it graphically on screen and its porn. Call it what ever you want, its still porn, and that’s what gets me irritated. None of the finer movie critics who claim that Breillat is a creative genius would give a second thought about the directors who first experimented with these topics, Jesus Franco, Tinto Brass, Joe D’Amato Torgny Wickman, and Russ Meyer to name but a few. Nope those guys’ movies are looked on as foul, degenerate exploitation movies. It’s the same annoying hype that surrounded Trier’s Idioterna 1998, Virginie Despentes’ Baise-Moi 2000 and Gaspar Noé’s Irréversible 2002. Gritty drama with explicit hardcore sex, and hey, let’s call its art and then honour these “genius” directors are as innovators of the celluloid art, pushing the boundaries of what we can show and not, provoking and taking us to new levels... Honestly let’s just cut the crap, its porn. I’m not taking sides, and I can without any problem appreciate what they are doing, but give it a break. Don’t try to put a new label on it. I’d just as easy watch one of the other guys’ un-pretentious gritty, raw, plump exploitative flicks any day.


Image:
1.85:1 aspect ratio,

Audio:
French Dolby Digital 5.1 or dts with optional English subtitles.

Extras:
A five minute Behind the scenes making of Fat Girl featurette, two interviews at ten and fifteen minutes each with director Catherine Breillat. The French and the American trailers. One text essay and an interview with Breillat from French magazine Postif.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Britney Baby, One More Time


Britney Baby, One More Time
Directed by Ludi Boeken, 2002, USA/France/Netherlands

Indie/Comedy, 78 min
Distributed by: Kock Entertainment Distribution

Story:
Dude Schmitz, [Mark Borchardt] independant movie maker need to stash up on money for his next lowbudget movie, so he takes a temporary job as a news reporter for a local network. His shot at the big cash appears as he gets an opportunity to interview Britney Spears before she performs in town. But he trashes this chance by asking her about the infamous implants... Unsympathietic for being thrown out of the interview, he runs into Britney impersonator Robert [Angel Benton], and a cunning plan unfolds taking his mutinous crew and sidekick Mike [Mike Schank] on a remarkable road trip.

Me: I saw this movie during the Stockholm Film Festival a few years ago, and I loved it. So I was happy to enjoy it again on my own tv. It's one of those great low budget indie comedies that you either love or hate. What's so great about this movie is that anyone who's seen Chris Smith's "American Movie", and knows Borchardt & Schank's background will see this as a imaginative sequel to Smith's documentary. The story is outrageous, because it's always on the edge, and especially as it's based on a true story. Just the idea of taking an impersonator and faking your news stories with him is hillarious. This is one of those movies which deserves the happy ending it serves up.

Image:
Widescreen 16:9

Audio:
Dolby Digital 5.1

Extras:
Cast bios, a photogallery, the official trailer and "Angel on" an inteview with Angel Benton who retells the story behind the movie.

My Neighbor Totoro


My Neighbor Totoro
Original Title; Tonari no Totoro

Directed by; Hayao Miyazaki, Japan, 1988

Asian / Anime / Family, 86min

Distributed by: Zoke Movies


Story;

Two young girls, Satsuki and Mei, move with their father to the countryside so they can be closer to their ill mother, who is in hospital. One day Mei stumbles into gentle giant furry creature Totoro deep in the woods.

Me;
Movie magic from Anime master Hayao Miyazaki's studio Ghibli, Kicki's Delivery Service, Spirited Away, Howl's Moving Castle and many more. This has been my son's favourite movie for a few years, well most of his life actually. Since the first time he saw it up till now, he'll still watch Totoro and enjoy it, he even talks along to the Japanese dialogue [Dongiri!]. It's not at all strange that he likes this film; it's amazingly cute and works on so many levels, that even I can endure watching it again and again. Like so many of Miyazaki's movies it's based on Japanese folklore interwoven with European tales and legends. There's nothing in this movie that I fell should be different, it's all just perfect. The mysticism of the Totoro figure, most likely a forest spirit and his small helpers. The girls who first joke about him until Mei finally finds him sleeping inside a secret forest hideaway. The sadness of their mother’s illness and how this affects the two sisters, the amazing and always hilarious cat buss that helps Satsuki search for Mei when she goes missing; it's all part of this brilliant tale which is one of my definitive Ghibli favourites too. This is definitely a movie that you should have and watch over and over again. You'll love it.

Image:
Full frame 4:3 cropped to 16:9, Traditional or simplified Chinese and English subtitles are optional.

Audio:
Unfortunately being an early release of Totoro, this DVD only has Dolby Digital 2.0

Extras:
Not a lot at all. Just a few trailers of other movies from Zoke Movies.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Sympathy for Lady Vengeance

Sympathy for Lady Vengeance
Original title: Chinjeolhan geumjassi
Directed by; Chan-wook Park, South Korea, 2005

Asian / Drama, 112 min

Distributed by: Panorama Distributions


Story: Thirteen years after being sentenced for the abduction and death of a child she didn't kill, Lee Geum-Ja [Yeong-ae Lee] is released from jail. Her mind is set on one thing only... to claim vengeance upon the real culprit, Mr. Baek [Min-sik Choi]. All her friends from jail are called upon as she goes after Mr. Baek to take her revenge.

Me:
Oh boy, does this movie pack a punch. I've had it on the DVD shelf since just after New Year, but I haven't really dared to watch it. Mostly due to the fact that I didn't want to be disappointed, I've read some pretty bad reviews of this movie. It's no surprise to anyone that find Park to be one of the most interesting directors to come out of Asia these last few years. So I was sort of worried as I stared to watch this movie, but my fears where unnecessary. This movie is awesome. It shifts between genres, very smoothly, blending drama with dark comedy. The tale of Gaum-Ja's tale of vengeance is told by an third party voice over, which I'm uncertain whom it belongs to, probably Geum-Ja's daughter. The story is a basic revenge tale, Geum-Ja who helped Mr Beak kidnap a child, had her own daughter kidnapped by him to force her to take the blame for the kidnapped child's death. So it's no wonder she wants revenge. Geum-Ja is brilliantly played by Yeong-ae Lee who also had the lead in Park's J.S.A. She's absolutely beautiful as the tormented Mrs. Vengeance. Park chooses a very intelligent way to tell us about Geum-Ja's time in jail, through flashbacks portraying her closest friends' time as incarcerated women. Geum-Ja is their smiling angel who helps them through the roughest of times, and foes. But now on the outside they all see how she has changed, she's now a woman with a vile plan for revenge. Mr Baek, portrayed by Min-sik Choi from the magnificent Old Boy, is totally different from his rather likeable Old Boy character. He's put on weight, show's no signs of compassion to anyone, be it his girlfriend, or the pre-school children the he teaches at work. And this is where the movie gets very dark. The road up to where Geum-Ja finds Baek, is rather fun and full of humorous twists. She find's her daughter, who has been adopted by an Australian couple, and takes her back to Korea, but not until they have had a booze up together. Secondary characters and Gaeum-Ja's time in prison is all told with a twinkle in the eye, but then she finds Baek. Upon finding him she starts to take her revenge, but when she realises that he's responsible for killing more than the child she was sentenced for her vengeance takes a drastic turn for the worse. Through a fiendish plan to let all the parents of the murdered children do as they please with Baek. To motivate them she shows them the video's Baek shot of their children before he murdered them, and this came as a complete shock. I was not prepared for this and it took me quite a while to get over the grainy, rough footage of the children. There's no onscreen violence, and the children are obviously actors, but it was quite rough to watch. Especially as I have a child of my own not far from the age of the children in the videos. Heavy stuff! So when the parents claim their vengeance it's almost as if I too wanted to take a swing at Baek. But I presume that Park had to make some drastic move to get the viewer past the sympathetic feelings that Min-sik evoked in Old Boy, not that Baek has been portrayed as an especially pleasant chap to start with, but the videos sure take care of any doubts.

I'm glad that I finally dared watch Sympathy for Lady Vengeance, it was worth the wait, it's a very, very good movie, and I'm sure that I will be returning to it soon. OK so it's the last part of the Vengeance trilogy, but to be honest, they don't have much to do with each other so you can actually just watch any part you want. If you still haven't seen a Chan-woon Park I'd advise you to start with Old Boy, and then if you want more check out Sympathy for Lady Vengeance, and Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance, which are both very good movies, but have some very dark moments. Or if you just want a short, check out his segment Cut from Three Extremes. Like I keep saying, Chan-woon Park is a director that's here to impress, and impress he does.

I also have to take this opportunity to complain about the terrible Scandinavian cover art. If there are so many beautiful poster and original art works for this movie why the fuck do you make a cover with Kill Bill references? Pathetic is the only word that spontaneously springs to mind.

Image:
Anamorphic Widescreen. Traditional or Simplified Chinese and English subtitles are optional.

Audio:
Three options are given; Korean soundtrack 2.0 Dolby Digital Stereo, 5.1 Dolby Digital, and dts.

Extras:
This edition being the first version released in Asia is very sparse with features. There is only a ten minute behind the scenes featurette and two trailers for the movie.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

The Cooler


The Cooler
Directed by; Wayne Kramer, USA, 2003
Drama / Thriller / Romance, 101min
Distributed by: Nordisk Film


Story:
Meet Bernie Lootz [William H Macy] the worlds most unlucky man. Hired by Shelly [Alec Baldwin], his old school Las Vegas boss, to jinx lucky gamblers at the Shangri-La casino he's doing quite well for himself, and in seven days time he's packing his bags and leaving Vegas to start a new life. That is until Natalie [Maria Bello] walks into his life and turns his world upside down.

Me:
This is independent cinema at its finest. Damn this was a good movie. William Macy just rules every scene he ever shows his adorable face in. The story is a rather typical "down and out in Vegas" type of tale, where lowlifes and hard guys mix with the few sympathetic characters that the story centres around. In this case Bernie and Natalie. Even though there's a feeling of awaiting doom lurking around each corner the move manages to keep the glimmer of hope through out. Not to give away the last fifteen minutes, but it's one of the first time's in a long while that I've taken on such an emotional rollercoaster. Acting is obviously fantastic in this movie, Baldwin's old school hard guy is magnificent, Macy, like I said just rules, Bello pulls off a decent washed out Vegas dancer routine. Throw in small but impressive bit parts like Paul Sorvino's Lounge room crooner hooked on smack, Ron Livingston's hard working next generation casino owner, a tall and menacing M.C. Gainey as a threatening Highway policeman, and you have a damned fine movie. Definitely worth checking out. I'm sure that I'll be returning to this one, it's all done so simple and easy, but so incredibly effective.

Image:
Anamorphic Widescreen 2.35:1


Audio:

Dolby Digital 5.1 and Dts


Extras:
Three trailers for other titles from Nordisk, and a twenty minute Anatomy of a scene featurette.

The Pyjama Case Girl

The Pyjama Case Girl
Original Title; Ragazza dal pigiama giallo, La
Directed by; Flavio Mogherini, Spain /Italy, 1977
Giallo / Thriller / Mystery, 98min.
Distributed by: Blue Underground

Story:
A murdered body of a young woman is found on a beach in Sydney. But before the police can arrest a killer, they need to find out who the woman with her face is burned off is.

Me:
A Giallo that is based on true events can't be wrong can it? No, it sure can't, although Mogherini adds and subtracts from the real events to get this magical tale of death and betrayal. Two tales are told at the same time in Sydney Australia. One is the tale of retired detective Thompson [Ray Milland] trying to puzzle together the identity and mystery surrounding the dead woman found horribly burned in a car wreck on the beach. The other is the love quadrangle between promiscuous Glenda [Dalia Di Lazzaro] and her three men, Douglas [Mel Ferrer], a wealthy and strict professor factory working Roy [Howard Ross] with his mysteriously sun tanned body, and her official "boyfriend" Antonio [Michele Placido]. Glenda shags her way between the three guys as she tries to make up her mind of what she really wants from life. She finally ends up marrying Antonio, but her promiscuous background seems to be a large problem for him. At the same time detective Thompson is causing a stir within the department as he works against the official police investigation, and follows his own leads as to who the mysterious body can be. The investigation even goes so far as to exhibit the violently disfigured body in a formaldehyde tank so that the public can come see if they recognise it. This is actually like in the real life Pyjama girl case; they actually exhibited a corpse in the search for the identity of the victim. More than two thirds into the movie the Giallo motifs that have been lacking start falling into place, not that the movie hasn't been entertaining so far, on the contrary, but the usual sexy women, jazzy soundtrack (this one by maestro Riz Ortolani) and violent killings have been very few. There are a couple of tracks sung by Amanda Lear on the soundtrack, and they are sung so poorly that they become cool. Anyhow, the movie takes this new curve, and then there's a really neat plot twist at the end that doesn't concern the killer or the story, but how the tale has been told, and this is what gives this Giallo its value. Long before the cut up narrative was a well used trick of the trade, Mogherini uses it here, and to a quite good effect. I definitely got more than I bargained for with this movie and highly recommend it.

Image:
Widescreen 1.85:1 / 16.9.

Sound:
Unfortunately this is one of those Italian movies that Blue Underground didn’t offer alternative soundtracks to. Here we only have the option of the English Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono soundtrack.

Extras:
There isn’t much on the disc that could qualify this disc as a great one extra feature wise. Although even if there’s just two features, one being the theatrical trailer there is a very interesting half hour documentary about the real Pyjama girl mystery that took place in Australia in the early thirties. Also included in the disc is an 8 page reproduction of Eddie Campbell’s graphic novel The Pyjama Girl which you may recall from the brilliant From Hell graphic novel he did with Alan Moore.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Biography: LUCIO FULCI

Born in Rome during the last half of the twenties, Lucio Fulci started working with films just after the Second World War, and spent some fifteen years working with Steno, one of the Italian masters of comedy. His main tasks were writing screenplays and being an assistant director on several of Stenos movies.

His first personal venture into directing came in 1959 with the crime comedy "I Ladri" (a.k.a. The Thieves), which unfortunately didn't do much to impress critics or movie goers, even though top Italian comedian Toto had the lead role. Fulci followed it up with a few more comedies and a spaghetti western between 59-69. Among these one can find the somewhat strange "Urlatori alla sbarra" (a.k.a. Howlers of the Dock) with suave jazz player Chet Baker as one of cast, and "Tempo di massacro" (a.k.a. Massacre Time) with Franco Nero in the lead role.

In 1969 the films "Una sull'altra" (a.k.a. One on Top of the other) and "Beatrice Cenci" (a.k.a. The Conspiracy of Torture) see Fulci starting to leave out comedic elements and move towards more hard crime/thriller/exploitation themes. In 1971 the early sexy Giallo "Una Lucertola con la pelle di donna" (a.k.a. Lizard in a Woman's Skin) saw Fulci finally reaching the form we eventually came to worship. The impressive special effects, here by Carlo Rambaldi, the thematic soundtracks, this time provided by Ennio Morricone, Luigi Kuveiller's cinematography, and finally, but not least, Vincenzo Tomassi's editing. Tomassi stayed on as Fulci's regular editor for the rest of his and Fulci careers.

Fulci soon found himself in trouble with "Lucertola" as a lawsuit was slapped against him for the violent visual effects of slaughtered dogs seen twitching on a table. These were presumed to be real, so Rambaldi and Fulci showed the props and were let off to go about their movie magic, and boy was there more to come....

Between 72 -78 he made a few more crime movies, a few comedies, some adventure movies (the White Fang movies freely based on Jack London's book) and few more spaghetti westerns "Sella d'argento" (a.k.a. Man in the Silver Saddle) and "I Quattro dell'apocalisse" (a.k.a. Four of the Apocalypse). Among the movies made during this period is the 1972 satirical thriller "Non si sevizia un paperino" (a.k.a. Don't Torture a Duckling), which was blacklisted for a few years as an Italian politician thought some of the themes in the film were making fun of him. In "Paperino", Fulci returns to violent murder and even a good old chain flogging are among the few, but shocking effects to be found. Not surprising, as this is the first time Fulci and special effects wizard Gino De Rossi work together. The other title among the 72-78 movies to stand out is the gem from 1977 "7 note in Nero" (a.k.a. "The Psychic"/"Murder to the Tune of 7 Black Notes" is the uncut presentation of this title). The Psychic can best be described as a thriller/horror with Poe influences. Jennifer O'Neil stars as psychic woman who sees violent murders recently committed... or does she? Classic Fulci gore is presented in all its glory. From the opening scene where a woman's face is smashed to pieces against the front of a cliff, the shocks just keep coming. For the second time Fulci collaborated with Fabio Frizzi, who's thematic scores can be heard on the soundtrack, the first time they worked together was on "I Quattro dell'apocalisse"

This brings us up to 1979, where the triumph of smash hit movie "Zombie" (the Italian title of George Romero's "Dawn of the Dead", (Dario Argento supervised the European cut) and the financial success of "7 note in Nero", landed Fulci in a meeting with film producer Fabrizio De Angelis. Running along with the zombie craze of the day Fulci created one of his best loved masterpieces "Gli Ultimi Zombi," (a.k.a. Zombie 2). Nothing was left to chance in this movie. Loads of decomposed zombies, brain shootings, flesh chomping, the infamous splinter in the eye effect and a total overload of Gianetto De Rossi's gory effects. Together with Fabio Frizzi's pulsating melotrone music, Sergio Salvati's magnificent widescreen cinematography, Tomasini's editing, the top-notch actors all blended together for one of cinemas most outrageous gore feasts. During the next three years, 79-82, Fulci made seven more films, and among these are the ones that definitely made him the Godfather of Gore. "Luca il contrabbandiere" (a.k.a. Contraband) and "Paura nella città dei morti viventi" (A.k.a. City of the Living Dead) both made in 1980. In 1981, Fulci gave us "Il Gatto nero" (a.k.a. The Black Cat), and the two masterpieces "E tu vivrai nel terrore - L'aldilà" (a.k.a. The Beyond) and "Quella villa accanto al cimitero" (a.k.a. The House by the Cemetery). Notable for most of these titles was that Fulci had used his solid crew, Salvati, Tomassi, De Rossi and Frizzi, who all helped to make these titles small masterpieces of genre history. 1982 marks the end of the main, Fulci gore classics period with "Lo Squartatore di New York" (a.k.a. New York Ripper) a return to the violent thriller genre and the horror /suspense piece "'L'Occhio Del Male" (a.k.a. Manhattan Baby The Possessed) which sports Hellrasier-ish bookends.

Although 1982 marks an end of the main gore period, don't for a second think that Fulci slowed down, on the contrary, he presented an assortment of various genre flicks, Fantasy/Barbarians with "Conquista, La" (a.k.a. Conquest) in 1893, a rather weird movie with lots of atmosphere. In 1984 he ventured to SCI-Fi/Post Apocalypse with "I Guerrieri dell'anno 2072" (a.k.a. Fighting Centurions), a quick return to Giallo with "Murderrock - uccide a passo di danza" (a.k.a. Murder Rock - Dancing Death) about a maniac stalking and killing the girls at a New York dance school. The erotic S&M thriller "Il Miele del diavolo" (a.k.a. The Devil's Honey) from 1986 sees a young woman, Blanca Marsillach, kidnap and torture the doctor she holds responsible for her boyfriends death. The movie is not at all a gory Fulci movie, but proof that Fulci could move between genres as he pleased.

In 1987 Fulci returned to the horror genre, with "Aenigma". "Zombi3" followed "Aenigma" in 1988, which was to be the first of two unsuccessful comebacks for the maestro. Due to ill health Fulci pulled out of the project and Bruno Mattei took over the production (or was it Claudio Fragasso, only those there will ever know...) Even though it isn't a "real" Fulci movie, it works and has some great zombie moments and other unpleasant gory surprises. Between 1988-1991 Fulci directed some of his weakest work ever, several of the movies were made for Italian TV, they are quite full of some trademark Fulci gore, but story wise they just don't work. The 1990 movie " Un Gatto nel cervello" (a.k.a. A Cat in the Brain) stands out as a sort of oddity where Fulci played himself, a old horror director, haunted by his films. Scenes of Fulci aimlessly wandering around, mixed with the gorier scenes from several of the previously directed TV movies and titles Fulci either supervised or produced make up a gory greatest hits package with out much story line, but it's good for laughs, as the gore just keeps on coming. Fulci's last film to capture the atmosphere and style he once mastered over, "Voci dal profondo" (a.k.a. Voices from Beyond) was made in 1991 and it's sadly the last film the great Godfather of Gore made.

Hold the presses, wake the dead, Fulci is making his comeback! Yes hopes were high in the second half of 1995 as rumours were spreading that Dario Argento had met Fulci at a convention, felt sorry for him and decided to make a film together. They wrote the horror mystery "Maschera di Cera" (a.k.a. Wax Mask) together and Fulci was to direct it under Argento's production. But the gods had other plans for dear old Lucio... Getting ready for his grand return to horror after a five-year departure, Lucio Fulci passed away on the 13th of March 1996. The Godfather of Gore had slaughtered his last victim. I'll never forget that day, because we where just getting ready to finalize the latest Art Video Club newsletter when a fax came trough from Germany where the guys at Hard To Get... (who released Umberto Lenzi's Eaten Alive, Ruggero Deodato's Cannibal Holocaust and Fulci's New York Ripper, remastered on VHS and Lazerdisc) who where in contact Fulci and his people for future releases. We called them back straight away as we took it for a sick joke, but they said it was true. I called up Alan Bryce at UK magazine Darkside as he'd been in contact with Fulci during several of the conventions Fulci had graced witht his presance and Bryce said that he'd just heard the rumours too. About an hour later he called back to confirm. Sad news indeed and a very dark day in horror history.

Epilogue:
"Wax Mask" was directed by Sergio Stivaletti instead, and never left much of an impression. Although Fulci did get sort of a comeback in 1998 as Quentin Tarantino's Rolling Thunder Pictures, made sure that "The Beyond" was theatrically re-released in the states. Now almost ten years after his death, his films of the 79-82 period still stand the test of time and are easily among the most fascinating pieces of Italian Horror Cinema.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Black Orpheus



Black Orpheus
Original Title: Orfeu Negro

Directed by: Marcel Camus, Brazil/France/Italy, 1959
Drama, 100 min.
Distributed by: Criterion Collection



Story:
Classic myth of Orpheus and Eurydice retold during the Carnival in Rio. Eurydice [Marpessa Dawn] comes to Rio to visit her cousin Sarafina [Léa Garica] during the week of the Carnival preparations. Buss conductor Orpheo [Breno Mello] who is engaged Mira [Lourdes de Oliveria] falls head over heels in love with her and will stop at nothing to seduce her. But when a mysterious figure disguised as death who has been stalking and killing women in the capital targets Eurydice the race is on. Will Orpheo manage to rescue Eurydice before it’s too late?

Me: Often quoted as one of the greatest movies ever and I have to agree. It is an amazing piece of cinema. The look of the film is fantastic, and Criterion has really done a great job of restoring this gem. Jean Bourgoin’s cinematography is awesome; he captures all the colours and senses of the carnival, from the opening aerial shot of Rio and the crowded colourful big sets to the tight claustrophobic shots of the empty murky hospital as Orpheo searches for Eurydice. Great stuff. As most great movies have their roots in the oldest stories ever told it’s no wonder that Camus delivers a fantastic movie. Almost everyone knows the tale of Orpheus and Eurydice and their journeys in the underground, the deal with death and the promises not to look back when Eurydice is allowed to go, it brings a natural and deeply rooted suspense to the film. Even though I know the myth and know how it is supposed to end I was really into this movie and it never let’s you down, you keep on rooting for their love even to the last frame. The choice of setting it in the carnival of Rio is a great choice as this allows Camus to use the energetic samba beats, vibrant music and amazing costumes. The actors make a real impression; Mello, Dawn and de Oliveria are attractive people and bring their characters to life in a believable way. The humoristic tone that he interweaves with the younger generation obviously ready to take over and keep the wheels spinning is brilliant. A complete and probably perfect cinematic experience, it comes as no surprise that this movie won the Palme d’Or in Cannes in 1959 and an Academy award for best foreign film in 1960.

Image:

1.33:1 Widescreen, removable English subtitles

Audio:
Even though it is remixed the soundtrack is still Portuguese Dolby Digital Mono

Extras:

Being a Criterion disc I had expected more, but if you take into the calculation that this is a four minute longer uncut restored print, with a re-mastered soundtrack bringing Antonio Carlos Jobim and Luis Bonfá’s energetic bossa nova score to new levels then that might do. There’s also a French trailer for the film.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Wolf Creek


Wolf Creek

Directed by: Greg McLean, Australia, 2005

Horror / Thriller, 99min
Distributed by: Scandbox Entertainment Sweden AB

Story:
Liz [Cassandra Maggrath] and Kristy[Kestie Earl], two English women are on holiday in Australia where they have met up with native lad Ben [Nathan Phillips]. Together the threesome is on the last leg of their vacation exploring the wide outback and legendary views of Australia. After a scary run in with the locals in a small village they find themselves stranded in the middle of the outback when their car fails to start. That’s when the charismatic handyman Mick [Josh Jarratt] arrives to help them out of their troubles… Or does he have other plans for the youths?

Me:
OK, claiming to be the scariest movie in 25 years is a pretty bold statement for a fairly average horror movie. Don’t get me wrong the movie is effective. It’s dark, grim, evil and some what disturbing, but the Quentin Tarantino quote on the cover claiming it to be “one of the scariest movies in 25 years”? Come on, the magic words “last wild party before the journey home” already tells genre fans that the shit is going to hit the fan pretty soon. McLean successfully manages to get me engaged in the lead characters through, especially Liz. The love story tension between Liz and Ben works, and the scene where there tension turns to reality is very well played, and is probably one of the best ever put on screen in this genre. It feels authentic and adds to the development of Liz’s character in a very positive way, her uncertainty and way she timidly approaches Ben feels honest and familiar to most of the audience who have ever been in those early stages of a relationship. Unfortunately I just can’t awake any feelings at all for Nathan Phillips Ben character.
I can’t explain why, I just don’t like him. The same for Kristy, you never really get to know her so I don’t really care when she’s being tormented, but the lead character shift that comes at the later half of the movie almost manages to make up for this. I know that someone will survive we know how to interpret the codes from watching thirty year old movies like Texas Chain Saw Massacre 1974 and The Hills have Eyes 1977 which also state to be based on true events. Wolf Creek is a wonderfully looking move. The style and way it is shot is fine and works great for the movie. It’s a decently acted movie and there are parts of it which are very effective, like the earlier mentioned first kiss scene, the panic that they get into as something approaches them in the dark when their car is stalled, the way Liz is embarrassed by the way Ben and Kristy make fun of Mick after he has rescued them from their malfunctioning car, the realisation of Mick’s magnitude of murders and when Liz watches the camcorder playback and sees Mick in the background, it’s all good stuff.. Script wise there’s not much to complain about, I won’t go into logical stuff, I can buy the fact that Liz dumps her escape car over a cliff to confuse Mick, I can accept that she might have returned to Mick’s hideout steal a second car, but don’t ever put the killer in back seat of the first car she tries out. That’s just insulting to me. There is Crocodile Dundee joke which is hilarious the first time it is creudely played out, and the scene where Mick later repeats it to Liz is brilliant as you definately won’t want to laugh at it this time.

The violence is effective, but this is where my problem with the movie gets started. The attempt to shock us by having the lead character suddenly is the first to die a violent death has been done so many times that it’s just not effective anymore. Just like Eli Roth’s Hostel 2005 the lead character’s shock death is somewhat played down. Two fast edits and the scene is over, almost as if the director wants to let his leads off easily. But come on, when Mick tells Liz that he’s going to make her a “head on a stick” as he severs her spine, I know that her time is up, and it’s not shocking to me or other fans of the genre at all. Ok I do admit to being more engaged in Liz’s fate than the others as her character has the best evolution in the movie from quiet and passive to loud and aggressive, I’m sort of saddened that Liz doesn’t make it out and it is a nasty scene, but I’ve seen this kind of stuff too many times to be affected by it. If Mick had pulled out her spinal cord and beat one of the others to death with her head still attached to her spine, now that would have shocked me. That would have been going too far even I would have reacted to that and then it would have had an impact. Then there’s the quick fix at the end. Ben just gets up and goes… I can’t help but feel that something is missing here; there must have been a better way to end this movie than like this. A few fast scenes and then a text ending letting us know that Ben was the police's prime suspect before cutting to a stupid fade-away of Mick walking into the sunset... cheesy to say the least. Nope, I was hoping for so much more from this movie, and can’t help feeling disappointed after watching it. I can appreciate what McLean has set out to do and with his budget restrictions, tight shooting schedule and all, but please stop insulting us by trying to revitalise the genre with the oldest tricks in the book. If you want to play rough, have the balls to play it rougher than the others.

Image:
1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen. Like I mentioned earlier, the movie looks great. Wonderful colours, great camera work and amazing landscapes. This edition has removable subtitles in Swedish Danish, Norwegian and Finnish.


Audio:

Two soundtrack options are available, dts 5.1 or Dolby Digital 5.1


Extras:

This double disc edition has a lot of extras that are interesting and informative enough to keep me watching them. Disc #1 has a commentary track with director McLean, co-producer Matt Hearn, and lead actresses Cassandra Magrath and Kestie Morassi. A bunch of sneak peek trailers of movies outside the horror genre including a fucking Steven Segal movie, and three completely unrelated and annoying cinema trailers for Bruce Willis actioneer 16Blocks, football comedy She’s the man and Robert Altman’s Prairie Home Companion making me wonder who the hell the target audience for this double disc edition is? Finally there is the original trailer for Wolf Creek. Disc #2 has The Making of Wolf Creek, a fifty minute documentary about the production. Meet Mick Tayler, a twenty-one minute interview with Josh Jarrett about his character and three deleted scenes.

Kärlekens Språk

Kärlekens Språk
Directed by; Torgny Wickman, Sweden, 1969

Documentary / Drama, 98 min

Distributed by: Klubb Super8 Video

Story:
Four scientists, Inge & Sten Hegler, Maj-Britt Bergström-Walan and Sture Cullhed, specialising in sexual studies get together in an apartment to smoke and discuss human sexuality.

Me:
One of the great Swedish classics with out any doubt. Banned in Norway for being too explicit, confiscated by the UScustoms and entangled in a 20 month long court case before it finally was acquitted, forcing Sir Cliff Richard lead a demonstration of 30.000 enraged Englishmen to protest against this piece of filth, you know it has to be something that makes an impression. According to rumour the movie was so strong that it made the head of the Swedish censorship board take three days off from work after seeing it. Ok, so by today’s’ standards it mostly just a laugh and pretty harmless. You’ve seen more explicit stuff on Discovery Channel and you won’t hear or see anything you didn’t already know before watching it. Unless you are a fucking virgin who has been living in a cave for the last thirty years. But thirty-seven years ago it was one of the first movies where visual and graphical acts of sexuality where seen on the big screen, and a seven foot vagina is enough to scare anyone. The set up, the doctors talking and discussing sexual behaviour is safe enough; they talk about sexuality, what it is and how it affects the human body. They illustrate various behaviours with a few tongue in cheek sketches with titles like Communication failures, Male vanity etc. The sketches move from fully clothed to semi nude and some skin is on screen after nine minutes. Then they work their way over to how the human body works, and this is where the fleshy bits get into shot. Both through animated illustrations showing how the body works and graphically detailed close-ups of human genitals. Male and female, no gender discrimination here. Foreplay, intercourse, birth control, they go through everything here in fully illustrated meaty close-ups. But don’t be ashamed my friends, nope, just remind yourself that this is a documentary, there’s nothing to be ashamed of! You have to hand it to Torgny Wickman and producer Inge Ivarson for actually making and getting this weird piece of celluloid on screen at all, even though it claims to be a documentary you can’t escape the fact that it is an exploitation cinema classic. I also have to point out that this movie is supposedly under its US title “Swedish Marriage Manual” the film that DeNiro takes Cybill Shepherd to see in Scorcese’s Taxi Driver 1976 but even though they walk into the cinema under a billboard promoting Swedish Marriage Manual. But that movie is not Kärlekens Språk, even though it makes for a great anecdote.

Image:
Full frame 1:1.37. Digitally remastered from a restored 35mm print the film looks. There are a few scratches and noise here and there, but that just works with the movie. No subtitles.

Audio:
Swedish dialogue with a mono soundtrack, and if you buy this movie you’re not buying it to test your surround system anyhow are you?

Extras:
An eighteen minute retrospective with producer Inge Ivarson and Maj-Britt Bergström-Walan look back on the movie and its impact. A five minute photo gallery with images never seen before, from the shoot and the set. Film facts, biographies for Inge Ivarson, Maj-Britt Bergström-Walan and director Torgny Wickman. Also included are four hot trailers for other Klubb Super8 releases.

You have to applaud the guys at Klubb Super8, who for the past decade have been organising shows, hosting and visiting film festivals, keeping the wild and weird stuff on Swedish cinema screens. Through them I have personally had some of my best cinema experiences. For fucks sake how would I otherwise have ever been able to see Night of the Living Dead, Zombie Flesh Eaters, The Undertaker and his Pals and Evil Dead on the big screen? Actually get to meet Dave Friedman in the flesh or even see Flesh for Frankenstein uncut in 3D in with my wife in a Swedish cinema? No these guys are the real deal, after releasing Swedish rarities on VHS for several years they have taken an ambitious step into the world of DVD adding everything that they can get their hands on and digging out the lost stars behind these gems. Kärlekens Språk is the first of their titles and previewing the future releases to come these guys need all the support we exploitation fans can give them. Get out there and buy there discs right away.

Perfect Catch


Perfect Catch
Original Title: Fever Pitch
Directed by; Peter & Bobby Farrelly, USA, 2005
Rom-Com / Drama, 103 min

Distributed by: Twentieth Century Fox / AB Svensk Film Industri

Story:
Ben [Jimmy Fallon] meets Lindsay [Drew Barrymore], they fall in love. He's a huge sports fan, she's a career woman. She goes along with it to a start but then things turn sour. Step by step he works his way back in until she realises what she's missing out on and surrenders to his love.

Me:
With Barrymore in one of the lead roles, and Fallon in the other, you know that you’re probably going to get a few laughs, a few sweet moments and a nice happy ending. That's just what this movie is. I never really saw the charm of Nick Hornsby's original football story/love conflict, but then again High Fidelity was quite good. The romcom, so often told from a guys side is getting rather dull and lame. Someone needs to reinvent this genre really really soon if I'm ever going to suffer through another romcom. Don't get me wrong there are some good moments in this movie, but it just so fucking formula you know exactly where it's going. Apart from the "cursed" Red Sox in a bizarre twist of fate actually winning the Baseball World Championship, nothing out of the unusual happens.


Image:

Anamorphic Widescreen 2.35:1. Removable subtitles in Swedish. Danish, Norwegian, Finnish and English

Audio:
English Dolby Digital 5.1.

Extras:
Commentary by Bobby & Peter Farrelly, deleted scenes, a gag reel, a few internet featurettes, and the theatrical trailer. Also on the disc is a three minute “Inside Look” at the movie In her shoes.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Vital

Vital
Directed by; Shinya Tsukamoto, Japan, 2004

Asian / Drama, 86min

Distributed by: Happinet Pictures


Story:

After awakening from a coma Hiroshi [Tadanobu Asano] is told that his girlfriend Ryôko [Nami Tsukamoto] died in the accident. Suffering from amnesia he tries to put his life back together and when he decides to return to his medical studies he soon find a way to retrace his feelings and patch parts of his life together again, as the body he is to dissect for his four month anatomy study is Ryôko!

Me:
Dark, weird and rather poetic. Even though the themes in this movie are quite dark and brooding, Tsukamoto never goes too far and actually shoes us excessive gore or exposed corpses. Tadanobu is great as the introverted Hiroshi, and the two female leads Nami Tsukamoto as Ryôko and Ikumi who plays Kiki are great, and really play with their emotions on the outside of their skin, but are at some times terribly thin and look awfully fragile (But I guess that Tsukamoto is a dancer). The cinematography is amazing on this movie and each shot is so superbly composed it's easy to get lost in the imagery. But this should not come as a surprise as Tsukamoto is a notorious perfectionist. I prefer these kinds of well composed and beautiful framed images over his frequent and recent use of tinting the film to emphasise certain moods like in Snake of June for instance. I really like the suggestive subplot that Hiroshi parents have always wanted him to return to his doctor studies, as he left them when he was dating Ryöko and focused on a career as an artist instead, this leading them to having something to do with the fact that he ends up with Ryôko on his slab.

Vital will not be remembered as Tsukamoto's greatest piece of work, but it's rather thoughtful and is probably his most emotional movie so far, steering clear of genre trap falls and formula he manages to tell a rather dark and disturbing tale in a smooth and poetic manner.

Image:
16:9 Widescreen. Japanese and English Subtitles

Audio:

Dolby Digital 5.1, dts 5.1, Dolby Digital 2.1 and an audio commentary track by Tsukamoto, in Japanese which unfortunately are not translated.

Extras:

Teaser Trailer, theatrical trailer and TV Spot. Staff and crew texts