February 25th, 2013 — Documentary
The full title is sometimes referred to as BBC History of WWII: Hiroshima.
Basic Plot: Made-for-BBC documentary about World War II and the dropping of the bomb on the title city. Contains a blend of archival footage, interviews, and dramatic reenactments.
Outburst: Voiceovers always sound better with a British accent, but the low-budget reenactments were hit or miss. It’s obvious they couldn’t obtain enough quality actors, and some of the best dramatic add-in scenes had no talking roles and minimal performance requirements. I’m also not confident as to the accuracy of some of these scenes; a few looked embellished, especially those depicting the Japanese side.
— Very interesting and detailed viewpoint of the nuclear aspect of World War II. The first-hand accounts are powerful.
Wikipedia Entry: Atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki
Watch It Now FOR FREE! BBC’s Hiroshima
February 21st, 2013 — Drama, Foreign with Subtitles, X / Adult Themes
Basic Plot: Greek drama about a family with three teens whose overprotective parents isolate them from the outside world. Things change when the father brings in an outside female to satisfy his son’s libido.
Outburst: The sterility of this movie doesn’t evoke horror (or hilarity, as a sad attempt to re-market the movie would have you believe), only a terrible sense of realism. The real horror is I know of families very similar to this one, who live in isolation and a fear bordering on madness. Like many foreign dramas, there is full frontal nudity (both male and female) and stark depictions of sexual acts not suitable for children. Call this a high-flown allegory demonstrating the perils of overprotecting your children if you want, I know soft-core Greek pornography when I see it.
— Get out your perv hats! A thin veneer of art glosses over this incestuous Greek drama.
Wikipedia Entry: Dogtooth
WATCH IT NOW! Dogtooth
November 22nd, 2012 — Biography or Based on Truth, Drama, Stage Adaptation, X / Adult Themes
Basic Plot: Locked in an insane asylum, the Marquis de Sade fights a battle of wills against a tyrannically prudish doctor. Adapted from a play by Doug Wright.
Outburst: Critics degraded this movie as far from a true biography, but the producers said it was never meant to be factual. Rather, they wanted to explore themes of sex, pornography, art, and censorship. A swimmingly good job until the trite ending. They took the height of perversion and sanitized it down to mainstream.
— Not for historians. Most perverts will be bored, while ‘vanilla-types’ will be scandalized. If you like to be titillated by just a snatch of deviance, this is the movie to watch in secret.
Official Site: Quills
Wikipedia Entry: Quills
WATCH IT NOW: Quills
Buy the Play: Quills by Doug Wright
November 16th, 2012 — Documentary
This movie carries the subtitle of “No Drinking, No Drugs, No Lesbians”.
IMDB: Training Rules
Basic Plot: A documentary exploring homophobia in collegiate women’s sports.
Outburst: Once upon a time, I was somewhat of a Penn State fan, mostly due to someone I was dating. This was before the sexual abuse scandal. This documentary highlights yet another scandal, one which I seemed to have missed in its entirety. This made me very, very angry. It also opened my eyes to the entire power structure of college and professional sports, and how easily such a system can become tainted.
— Tolerance activists and Penn State fans should watch this documentary.
Official Site: Training Rules
Wikipedia Entry: Training Rules
WATCH IT NOW FOR FREE! (on Hulu)
November 11th, 2012 — Action, Drama, Martial Arts, Western
IMDB: The Warrior’s Way
Basic Plot: A samurai killer in the midst of a clan feud hides out in an American Badlands town. Shot in desaturated, Sin-City style.
Outburst: Some of the most visually stunning cinematography and peerless directing is shackled by tedious dialogue and a romantic entanglement with as much chemistry as a frat-boy in a bear-bar. It pains me to see so much talent, both from the director and from the actors, simply wasted through improper casting and a bad script.
— This would be a great movie to watch in a bar if you could turn the sound off and just watch the gorgeous fight scenes on a big, glossy screen.
Wikipedia Entry: The Warrior’s Way
October 30th, 2012 — Action, Crime Drama, Drama, Martial Arts
Basic Plot: Drawing heavily on samurai and western films, this is a post-apocalyptic tale of a young revenge-seeker and a mysterious drifter out to combat a crime boss.
Outburst: True to the title (it’s a type of Japanese puppet-theater), the actors venture through scenery akin to stage backdrops. Soundtrack is excellent and the cast talented, so why didn’t they rely more on these assets? Instead the entire story is told through voiceover, mediocre in both prose and reading.
— You’ll have to love stylized graphic-novel movies and not mind that an omniscient third-person is telling the tale. Even so, it’s more of an entertaining time-waster than a riveting time-stealer. If you did enjoy this movie, you’ll like The Warrior’s Way even more.
Wikipedia Entry: Bunraku
September 26th, 2012 — Horror
IMDB: The Crazies
Basic Plot: A small town is plagued by insanity from a mysterious toxin in their water supply.
Outburst: This movie is a frighteningly realistic take on the traditional ‘zombie’ film, stripped down to only what is plausible. While the characters performed numerous stupid actions, such as persistently separating the party in a hostile environment, overall the quality of the filming was A-plus. Obviously the budget didn’t allow for a team of fact-checkers to peruse. As the ‘crazies’ devolve into violence, it was interesting to explore the myriad vocations and pastimes via homicidal lunatic; I will certainly never look at a carwash the same way again.
— This movie is either a top-notch B-horror film or a mediocre mainstream. I like to to think of it as a B+ rather than an A-minus. Despite the fact that there aren’t any undead in this film, it can loosely be categorized in the zombie genre.
BUY IT NOW! The Crazies [Blu-ray]
August 18th, 2012 — Biography or Based on Truth, Drama, Romantic
Basic Plot: The tale of Australian pianist David Helfgott, who returns to music years after a mental breakdown in his youth.
Outburst: This movie has all the markings of one adapted from a stage production, possibly the missing Tennessee Williams script. Thankfully, this character-dependent plot is fueled by acting ability of such talent it won an Oscar.
— Classical music lovers will be entertained. Those into student-mentor movies will be enthralled by this dark twist on the genre.
Wikipedia Entry: Shine
BUY IT NOW: Shine
August 7th, 2012 — Drama, Foreign with Subtitles, Horror, Mystery
The 2009 American version is titled The Uninvited.
IMDB: A Tale of Two Sisters
Basic Plot: Inspired by the Korean folktale Janghwa Hongryeon jeon, strange things begin to happen when two sisters return home from the mental hospital.
Outburst: If you know anything about Korean horror films, you know somewhere there is an angry female spirit. The bonus in this movie is not the usual creepy Korean phantasm, but an incredible portrayal of family relationships gone very wrong. Not to mention, we are actually shown what this ghost is angry about, which isn’t always the case in these films.
— This is one of the best K-Horror films I’ve seen, but it does have a lot of high-pitched girls screaming. If you can’t handle that, invest in serious earplugs.
Wikipedia Entry: A Tale of Two Sisters
BUY IT NOW! A Tale of Two Sisters (DVD)
August 2nd, 2012 — Action, Crime Drama, Martial Arts
This entry is incomplete as Kill Bill: Volume 3 was announced 4th of July 2011; the release date is set to 2014. It will eventually cover all three volumes.
IMDB – Kill Bill: Vol. 1
IMDB – Kill Bill: Vol. 2
Basic Plot: After waking up from a long coma, minus her baby, The Bride enacts her revenge against the assassination team that betrayed her. Largely inspired by Lady Snowblood and various exploitation films.
Outburst: As far as grindhouse films go, this is one of the top in its genre. Volume 1 is a serious of campy, unrealistic murder vignettes that pay homage to various sub-styles such as spaghetti western, rape revenge, vigilante, slasher/splatter, chambara, and of course the traditional martial arts, samurai, and Japanese yakuza movies. In keeping with this genre, the dialogue is stilted, the blood is bright and copious, and all non-violent sections of the script are filled with inaccuracies thrown in purely for cinematic effect, e.g., you can carry a katana on a plane if it looks good onscreen. Volume 2 provides a deeper backstory, while still maintaining a hefty dose of violence. Great soundtrack.
/CULT — Great for those days when you feel powerless and unable to swat the flies that bother you (like your boss). If you are a stickler for realism, stay far away.
Wikipedia Entry: Kill Bill
Kill Bill in 30 seconds with bunnies.
BUY IT NOW: Kill Bill: 1 & 2 Double Feature (DVD)
Get Soundtrack: Kill Bill: Volume 1
Get Soundtrack: Kill Bill: Volume 2