Archive for » April, 2006 «
This one doesn’t get a review.
Animal House is such a classic, that if you haven’t seen it, you live under a rock, and if you didn’t like it, you’ve got issues.
Just one of those films that if you see it’s on cable, you wind up watching it through to the end, because it’s just that good.
The Hellraiser series gets mixed reviews, depending on who you ask.
Some love the first two movies, consider them horror masterpieces, some never took to them, and found them boring at best. Myself fell into the former category. Definitely a different beast, the first two Hellraiser films concentrated on tension and mystery, to pick up the horror, with the gore and flash held in check until the very end.
Hellraiser III however, threw that concept out the window, and said the hell with it. (Pun intended)
Gone is the creeping tension, the dark mystery, the lonely solitude of the mansion in Hellraiser 1. Now, we have gaudy dance clubs, flashing lights, new monsters, and gore gore gore! The biggest disappointment, is in three, they decided it was time for new Cenobites (the demon guys from hell, natch). Luckily, we still have the staple of Pinhead, the leader of the Cenobites throughout the series. Instead of disturbing visages of the denizens of hell come to rip our flesh from our bones, we are stuck with rejects attempting to make the franchise a bit more hip and cool. We have the camera man turned into a demonic killer with a camera lens jammed into his eye socket, complete with shitty one liners. â€œThatâ€™s a wrap!â€ A DJ festooned with CDâ€™s socketed into his skull, and throwing CD ninja stars for her his murderous whimsy, and thatâ€™s just the first two. The rest are just as bad.
Theyâ€™ve thrown the concept of Cenobites out the window. Denizens of hell, summoned to feast upon pain, to open the puzzle solver to the worlds of pain, to campy asshats hell bent on pissing me off.
Beyond that, the story has veered off as well, and thereâ€™s so much to go into there, I really donâ€™t want to bore you. A Franchise that was once hell bent on greatness, and stumbled out of the gate the third time around, and destined themselves for mediocrity.
Just how dumb does a studio have to be to stop paying Clive Barker? Clive Barker is the king of messed up and twisted, and â€˜random Hollywood hackâ€™ isnâ€™t going to pony up, and thatâ€™s a fact.
2 campy asshats out of 5
Who doesnâ€™t love John Cusack?
Charlie Arglist (Cusack) is a mob lawyer, with an agenda. Tired of being low man on the totem pole, Charlie Teams up with Vic Cavanaugh (Thorton) and decides to take a bit of the bossâ€™s fortune for themselves. Putting their plan into action, they make off with just over two million dollars of their mob bosses funds, and attempt to lay low on Christmas eve, before heading off into the sunset on Christmas day.
Originally, the trailers for the Ice Harvest caught my attention. Looking very much like the dark humor John Cusack has become known for, a la Grosse Point Blank, my excitement built just a bit. Throw in Billy Bob Thorton to go along with the black comedy, how can you go wrong? Lucky for me, my expectations were met, and then some.
Many trailers these days, hell letâ€™s say most, give away the entire movie in that five two minute span of commercial space. Highlight all the funny parts, giving away every twist and turn, and you head into a movie knowing just what to expect. Surprisingly, with the commercials for the Ice Harvest focusing on the black comedy aspect of the film, we were treated to a whole lot more.
What we end up with is a fairly smart crime caper, disguised as a black comedy. We get drama, we get action, we get the twists in turns of whoâ€™s screwing who found in many good mobster movies. But donâ€™t worry, the laughs are still there. Iâ€™d love to delve into the many ins and outs of the film, but that would make me much like the above lamented movie trailers now wouldnâ€™t it.
The acting in the Ice Harvest is spot on. Cusack turns in his typically strong performance, and nails the resigned and fed up attitude of Charlie Arglist. Thorton as well turns in a solid showing, as the brains behind the heist, and a man with a touch of his own agenda. Throw in Randy Quaid as the mob boss, and weâ€™re rounding up nicely. I will say, however, that the highlight of the Ice Harvest was a performance by an actor not even mentioned in any of the trailers that I saw pre release. Oliver Platt. As the drunken, disheveled and tired of life husband of Charlie Arglistâ€™s ex wife, and coincidentally Charlieâ€™s best friend, Oliver Platt is easily the highlight of the film. Throughout the entirety of the film, any scene in which Oliver showed up was met with solid laughs. Pretty much, if he was on screen, you were laughing. Every single time. A trait you donâ€™t see so often in comedyâ€™s now days.
Critically panned, I really donâ€™t care. The Ice Harvest is a fun use of two hours, and should leave any Cusack fan happy and fulfilled by the end.
4 Drunken Plattâ€™s out of 5
A heavily armed attack on the first amendment?
A documentary styled retelling of one of timeâ€™s most crude and vulgar jokes, told over and over by may of todayâ€™s working standup comedians, The Aristocrats comes out guns a blazing while exercising their first amendment rights. An open ended joke that is left completely to the tellerâ€™s imagination, supposedly this joke has been around since the days of vaudeville.
Directed and conceived by Penn Jillette of Penn & Teller fame, we are treated to a bevy of both familiar and unfamiliar stand ups, all telling their tales of the Aristocrats. Some of them relate how they first heard the joke, some relating their own version of the joke, and what it means to them. Sometimes, the joke is pretty damn hilarious, other times it comes out as an eye roller as the teller is just trying to hard.
Coming into this, my hopes were high as the film boasts a rather daunting cast of characters. Always a fan of Penn Jilette, and the subject matter more or less a take at exercising their first amendment rights, I found myself wanting by the end of the film, and really not impressed at all. Rather sloppy in the editing, the film jumps about between comedians, back and forth, and rarely does the dialogue between teller and filmmaker flow smoothly. Thatâ€™s not to say that there werenâ€™t gems contained with in. As I said before, parts were side splitting hilarious, while others left you waiting for the next comedian to show up. Add to that, the film contained a large number of â€˜cleanâ€™ comedians such as Bob Saget of Full House fame, and Paul Reiser. Seeing these family oriented comedians ramble on about fecal matter and incest is both laugh out loud funny, yet uncomfortable at the same time.
All in all, if youâ€™re a stand up fan, itâ€™s worth a once through to pick up on the message that they try to deliver, but really, itâ€™s not worth a buy.
3 fecal minded comedians out of 5
Here’s one out of left field for ya.
On top of being a movie geek and a walking machine, I’m also known to be quite the music snob. With an extensive collection of well over two thousand albums, and a spotty past as a musician and music major, you could easily say I’m a music guy.
With as much music as I listen to, and the aforementioned musical past, I tend to grow a bit picky on what I like and don’t like, thus the snobbyness. So yes, I’m pretty opinionated on music, and I’m full aware that my tastes hover nowhere near most others. I run the whole gambit from rock to classical, and all the places in between.
With Deep Thoughts from the Jukebox, my intention is not to critique, or review. No no, my goal here is just to share random thoughts on music, and what it means to me.
So, we begin.
Music means many things to many people, and no two are ever alike. However, one thing thing that will usually be common between any music afficiandos are songs and memories. Almost have everyone that’s every turned on a radio will have at least one song that evokes a vivid memory, one so strong that you can almost smell the air surrounding that particular event from the past.
Pearl Jam – Ten
An album in many 30-something’s library, Pearl Jam’s Ten was their first album, and broke them into the mainstream in a big way. Way back when in the summer of 94, I was living at back at home between colleges, between majors. Many a summer day was spent with friends, listening to the above mentioned album. Playing hackey sack, standing around on street corners, watching Animaniacs, what have you. But the stand out from that summer, that Pearl Jam’s Ten brings to mind was none of those.
In 1993 my father had passed away, and in his passing, I inhereted his car, a 1992 Beretta GTZ. Later to be recognized as the P.O.S. that is was, in 94, this was the height of my vehicular being. A removable sun roof, stick shift, ground effects and all the comforts, I was riding in style (for a short bit, it really was a P.O.S.)
A good friend of mine, still to this day, was Corey. At one time, Corey and his mother lived way out in the boonies, in and old house in the center of a cornfield. As time passed, they moved on to a different home, and the old house was left empty. One fine sunny day, Corey and I, left with nothing to do, were doing what pre 20 year olds do with time to kill, we were cruising.
With no particular place to be, no goal to reach, we drove on, all the while listening to Pearl Jam’s Ten. Sun roof open, windows down, we crawled the countryside with nothing in mind but singing along with Eddie Veder and his gang of angsty cohorts.
It was eventually decided that we would hit the country side, and drive to that old house in the corn field, to see if it was still standing. As we left the small town of Plymouth, and hit the old country highway heading to Inwood, we both, at the top of our lungs, broke into song along with Eddie and the strains of ‘Evenflow’, one of the mainstays of Ten.
An exciting story, not really. But alas, a story that has stuck with me always. Two good friends with not a care in the world, rocking out out of tune. To this day, when ever Evenflow comes on the radio, I am instantly taken back to that summer day in 94, and the many laughs we had that day.
A Hollywood take of the long running Vampirella Comic Book.
Comic Book movies are popular these days, but there was a time in the late eighties and early nineties, that they werenâ€™t so popular. Mostly due to the lack luster product of some Hollywood hacks take on a comic book staple. Vampirella doesnâ€™t do a whole lot to dissuade this stigma of nineties comic book fare.
Vampirella (Talisa Soto) was the daughter of a king, on an alien planet light years away from earth. One day, Vlad (Roger Daltrey. Yes, that Roger Daltrey) as the cult leader of a rebellious bunch on this planet, did the unthinkable and killed the king. With Vlad fleeing the planet to find new refuge and domain, Vampirella (then know simply as Ella) made it her lifeâ€™s goal to track down the infamous Vlad, and enact her revenge for killing her father. The big twist though, is that the entire race of Draculon, were vampires. Of course they were, theyâ€™re from Draculon! Hiding out in stasis on Mars for thirty centuries, Vampi finally hitches a ride to earth as the first manned mission to Mars discovers her stasis champer, and takes it home for further study.
So. Vampirella. Curvy vampire babe in skimpy leather outfits, kicking ass and taking names. Should be fairly simple shouldnâ€™t it? Unfortunately, Vampirella has more corn that Indiana. Upon her arrival on earth, Vampi (still known as Ella) stalks about her thigh high bitch boots, beating random bad guyâ€™s in her search for Vlad. Stumbling upon a lonely computer geek that helps get her bearings, sheâ€™s then dubbed â€˜Vampirellaâ€™ by said computer geek. (Her nameâ€™s Ella and sheâ€™s a Vampire. Get it?)
From there the snowball grows as we roll down hill much like that Kraft macaroni and cheese commercial with the little noodles sliding down the spoon into the cheese. Horrid action, stilted dialogue that makes William Shatner appear Wagnerian, to even pretty crappy costuming. When â€˜Vladâ€™ comes out in his alter ego â€˜Jamie Bloodâ€™ the heavy metal vampire, I officially lost grip of reality and swam in the depths of hysterics. Lipstick, and apparently a wookie scalp hanging from the side of his head was supposed to make Jamie look like a bad dude.
What could have been at least mildly entertaining wound up be a runny puddle of crap, thatâ€™s only made better with a case of beer. And possibly a sledgehammer. What has always been a far stretched plot in the comics, yet always managed to be entertaining, was stretched even further with piss poor acting on all fronts. Just remember, you folks owe me, I watch this crap so you donâ€™t have to!
1 Roger Daltery Desperately Clinging to Fame out of 5
Kirk Douglas and Farah Fawcett, are a May-December couple (I had to ask the wife just what a May-December couple was) living in the far reaching spaces of Saturnâ€™s asteroid belts, manning a food harvesting space station. Alone except for the two of them, the couple has learned to love their solitude of each otherâ€™s companyâ€™s, and enjoy their simple lives. One day, Harvey Keitel arrives unannounced, as an agent from earth, bringing assistance to the couple, as their harvesting quotas have dropped, and earth is growing hungry. Problem is Harveyâ€™s a bit insane.
Harvey has come to Saturn 3 to deploy a eight foot robot, to assist in the food harvesting. The problem is, the Robot is entirely taught and trained from Harveyâ€™s own brain, taking on all of his teachers traits and ticks. As their stay extends past three or four days, the dark side of Harvey begins to show in the eight foot robot, and mayhem ensues as the robot begins to bring Harveyâ€™s insanity to life.
Boring. Itâ€™s pretty slow for a deep space scifi epic with a eight foot killer robot. Thatâ€™s not to say that the entire movie blows though. There are interesting theoryâ€™s on earthâ€™s future and on the future of society itself. Citizens that have never been to earth, spending their entire lives on space stations around the galaxy, sects and strata of humanity based on their use of technology, beliefs, life practices. Thatâ€™s about all it has to offer though.
Harvey Keitel is a master at dark and menacing, but in Saturn 3, with the plot and script surrounding him, comes across as a bit comical and a bit Gumpish is his dry and straight forward attempt at menace. Kirk Douglas, while always a bit of a badass, comes across as a late in life attempt to prove his bad assitude before succumbing to admitting his old age. And Farah Fawcett? Eye Candy, plain and simple.
While not a classic, and not a blockbuster, Saturn 3 is something Iâ€™m glad I watched, but not one Iâ€™m necessarily going to go out and write about. (oh waitâ€¦) For a rainy Sunday afternoon flipping through the movie channels, yah, itâ€™s worth to sit down and watch if scifiâ€™s your bag. Just make sure you make bring a pillow.
2 Harvey Keitel wannabe Robots out of 5
A timely David Cronenburg tale starring James Woods and Blondie herself, Debbie Harry.
Max Renn runs a low brow public access tv station, channel 83. Known for their airings of all things ‘subterranean’, Channel 83 specializes in violence, boobs, and depravity. Stumbling upon a pirated satellite transmission from Pittsburg, Max find himself enamored with Videodrome, an underground snuff television show. As his viewings increase, he finds himself deeply entwined in the dark underbelly of underground television, along with some rather troubling hallucinations to go along with.
Bizarre and oft times hard to follow, Videodrome is unique to say the least. A pointed observation of the world of television and humanity’s depravity, Cronenburg comes with a definite message, and a definite unique tale to tell. The acting, for what they are trying to portray, is solid from both Woods and Harry. However, the story itself becomes convoluted, and definitely takes one’s whole attention to know just what the hell is going on.
Unfortunately I got sidetracked about 3/4′s of the way through, and though I was distracted for a mere five minutes, I was lost for the rest of the film. Someday I may go back and finish up, but there’s only so much one guy can take of James Woods with a gaping vagina in his stomach. And no, I didn’t make that up.
3 pirate satellites out of 5 *subject to change once I actually finish the movie
A 1951 Sci Fi Classic
Scientists have discovered that two planets from a nearby galaxy have been knocked off course, and are now entering our own solar system. The first planet is on a course to pass close to earth, close enough to create havoc and mayhem to our own fragile eco system. The second planet however, is on a direct collision course with earth! Earth’s only hope, is to build a rocket ship to carry forty survivors to the first planet, to save humanity.
Cheese? Oh ya. Hilarity? Oh ya. But this is a mainstay of classic sci fi, and should be on any fanboy’s list. For a movie made in 1951, the science is not plausible, but who cares. The story itself, the impending doom of planet earth, was definitely heavy for 1951.
All of the staples for an enjoyable romp are here in one tidy package. Annihilation, rocket ships, mountain top labratory’s and an involving tale of the end of the world, and a portion of humanity’s efforts to carry on until the bitter end, and their bitter panic and the final minutes of civilization.
4 Days to Bellus out of 5