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What did you watch this week?
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Danny Baldwin
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PostPosted: 08.04.2004 7:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I felt just the opposite, as if he had maintained the same message as if he would've had he taken the other path, and thrown in pleasant shock value along the way.
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HoRRoRFaN
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PostPosted: 08.04.2004 11:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Just came back from THE VILLAGE, and it's taking me a while to lay out my full thoughts... I can't recall the last time I was so mixed on a movie.
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stefanieduckwitz
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PostPosted: 08.05.2004 1:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sweet quote. Stanley Kubrick = my hero!
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Jordanio
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PostPosted: 08.06.2004 4:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hidalgo (Johnston, 2004)

The Gold Rush (Chaplin, 1925)

The Manchurian Candidate (Demme, 2004)

The Village (Shyamalan, 2004)

It's a great day when you can buy a masterpiece (The Gold Rush) for 3.99 (on DVD) at Walgreens.
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smarty
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PostPosted: 08.06.2004 6:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

A Nightmare on Elm Street (Craven, 1984)

A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy's Revenge (Sholder, 1985)

New Nightmare (Craven, 1994)

Friday the 13th (Cunningham, 1980)

Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives (McLoughlin, 1986)

Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers (Chappelle, 1995)

Eight Days a Week (Davis, 1997)

I kind of went a little horror movie crazy this week.
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matt header
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PostPosted: 08.07.2004 7:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Until the twist ending of The Village I thought it had a distracting lack of verisimilitude; turns out that gripe was irrelevant.

I was surprised at how poor the performances were in The Village. Although guiding his actors is not exactly Shyamalan's strong point, he got great performances from Haley Joel Osment, Toni Collette, Samuel L. Jackson, and Spencer Treat Clarke. With the possible exception of Bryce Dallas Howard in The Village, the performers seemed to lack a lot of conviction.

Great music though.
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beltmann
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PostPosted: 08.09.2004 5:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

8/2 ? 8/8/04

In preferential order:

Darn Good

Coal Miner?s Daughter (Apted, USA 1980)

Blackboard Jungle (Brooks, USA 1955)

Dodsworth (Wyler, USA 1936)

Good

Prick Up Your Ears (Frears, England 1987)

The Desperate Hours (Wyler, USA 1955)

Martha (Fassbinder, Germany 1974)

The Joke (Jires, Czechoslovakia 1969)

The Heart of the World (Maddin, Canada 2000)

Not Bad

The Ladykillers (Mackendrick, England 1955)

The Reckoning (McGuigan, England 2004)

Bad Santa (Zwigoff, USA 2003)

Meh

Peter Pan (Hogan, USA 2003)

Lousy

Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen (Sugarman, USA 2004)

Twilight of the Ice Nymphs (Maddin, Canada 1997)

The Domineering Male (Hines, USA 1940)

The Big Idea (No director credited, USA 1934)

Plane Nuts (Cummings, USA 1933)

So Bad Your Eyes and Ears May Bleed

The Lost Stallions (Summerfield, USA 2003)

Eric
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stefanieduckwitz
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PostPosted: 08.09.2004 7:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen (Sugarman, USA 2004)


I really wanted to see that movie.
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Danny Baldwin
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PostPosted: 08.09.2004 7:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Beltmann speaks the truth. It's dopey, like some kind of Disney Channel special episode or something...
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beltmann
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PostPosted: 08.09.2004 9:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

the night watchman wrote:
You're right, the contrivance is necessary. That's the problem. I was so jarred from the story that, afterward, I was aware of nothing but plot mechanics.


I finally caught up with this one, and mostly agree with Night Watchman's comments. (Danny, I can't agree with your assessment of the tone as masterful; I felt it was too portentous by half. Besides, there seems to be a fundamental flaw in this society's mechanism: How can such a hushed, fearful existence be considered a version of "innocence"?) I should add, though, that I never felt jarred by the twists. Since all of my fleeting speculations within the first 15 minutes turned out to be accurate, I was less frustrated than disappointed. (Typically I enjoy being manipulated and don't attempt to "crack" mysteries; in this case, though, I couldn't help it.)

That said, I think Shyamalan's basic premise and basic narrative structure provide a metaphorical foundation of considerable potential. Night Watchman is correct that the twist renders the entire mythology essentially arbitrary, but I don't view that as a betrayal, perhaps because I was far less interested in the "creature" aspects of the story--quite silly on its own terms, IMO--and much more interested in why this fraudulent mythology had been concocted. In other words, unlike NW, I was not particularly curious to see how the "creature" plot would resolve itself. The movie's gravest flaw is in raising political questions without ever really mining their allegorical or social potential.

To answer NW's question about emulating THIS particular historical era, I'd argue that the neo-Puritan setting signals how many contemporary fears, as well as current isolationist agendas, are founded principally upon old habits of Puritan hysteria. The setting makes metaphorical sense, but it also stands as a practical choice. These people would naturally cling to a faintly familiar American culture, while still selecting an era in which communities were disconnected and easily isolated from outside influences.

And did anyone else notice the thematic similarities to Stephen Vincent Benet's "By the Waters of Babylon"? To Guy Maddin's Careful? Or at least Planet of the Apes?


Eric
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Last edited by beltmann on 08.09.2004 9:25 pm; edited 1 time in total
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HoRRoRFaN
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PostPosted: 08.09.2004 9:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Interesting comments, Eric. I finally gathered my little analysis together, and I didn't want to mention all of the horrible contrivances in the plot that I couldn't help but notice in retrospect. Decided to give it a rating of 40 in the end because I was too mixed on it...

Took me quite a while to sort out my thoughts, and I am still mulling even days after. I probably need to see it again because for now, I am very mixed on it and a few things need to be cleared up for me anyway. The story -- which I will try not to reveal much of -- is set exclusively in the small and isolated village of Covington, a community that simply wants to live in peace, but there are creatures that they call Those We Don't Speak Of who lurk in the woods. Soon, their truce is broken, as the creatures invade the village. We focus on Lucius Hunt (Joaquin Phoenix), he is a brave man that, from the beginning of the movie, believes venturing into the towns would be necessary for medicine. He proposes his plan to go into the woods, then bring back the supplies that they need. This plan is dismissed once he brings it to the elders, who tell him that monsters in the woods would not let him pass. His mother Alice (Sigourney Weaver) is one of the elders, and Edward Walker (William Hurt) seems to be the most distinct voice of the elders. He is the father of the woman that Lucius falls in love with. She is Ivy, a blind but smart woman that also loves Lucius and the two are friends with mentally challenged Noah Percy (Adrian Brody). In the first half of the movie, we understand the fear that the inhabitants are forced to live with, as they expose of anything that is red they happen to discover because red is the color that attracts the creatures. I liked quite a bit about the film, but overall, I was not satisfied with it and pretty disappointed. [Don't read ahead if you have not seen the film yet and don't want anything to be revealed.] What was interesting was Shyamalan's use of religion and observations on society's politics within his story, along with the guilt and the deception at the end. The cinematography is excellent here, in memorable shots such as when Lucius walks up to red berries with the village in the background and when he is professing his love to Ivy admist darkness and fog. I strongly disliked the dialogue while watching, but after thinking about it, the odd dialogue is not ridiculous because this is the way of speech that was adapted. Not a scary movie in the least, but more of a thoughtful and quiet movie that has its ambitions but fails. Because Shyamalan is content with shocking his viewers with the twist, he overlooks themes that beg to be rightfully explored -- the movie is painfully obvious as a result. Had potential to be profound in its message, but the movie is more interesting to think about than to watch. Speaking of the twist, it can be predicted within thirty minutes of the movie, and I won't get into how implausible that the revelations are because there are simply too much to mention. The performances range from weak to good; characters show up in some scenes then they disappear, and there are some that are either one-note or are wasted. The worst characterization was Ivy in the embarassingly clumsy way that her handicap was presented. It has been said before and I will say it again: if you aren't told that she is blind, you would never know. Shyamalan makes some interesting parallels, and while his atmosphere is not scary in the traditional sense, it is immensely creepy -- it is too bad that it is wasted after a few effective moments. I couldn't help but commend Shyamalan for the restraint and silence in the scenes when a character is stabbed. It is strange film for sure, that is heavily flawed, but at least motivates thought afterwards. And for its good qualities, I definitely did not dislike it as much as a lot of people do.
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HoRRoRFaN
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PostPosted: 08.09.2004 9:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Rest of the movies I watched last week:

Abe Lincoln of the Ninth Avenue (William Nigh, 1939) 40

Doesn't ever reach dramatic tension of ANGELS WITH DIRTY FACES, feeling incomplete by the end. The movie tells the story of Jimmy (Jackie Cooper), a young law student who is a firm believer in doing the right thing always, an influence on his peers, trying his best to model his life after Abraham Lincoln's life. He lives in Hell's Kitchen and owns a newstand, where him and his friends work. A neighborhood bully and the rest of his gang want to take over the newstand, and there are only one or two scenes that imply how they terrorize Jimmy. This is the biggest problem I had with the movie: there is no real conflict, and everytime that there's a good chance for it, the route isn't taken for some reason. For instance, Jimmy's brother is this well known gangster that is currently being reported in the same papers that he sells. There is a scene where he goes to visit his brother in his office building, and Jimmy tells him where he's living and his occupation, etc. After this scene, Jimmy's brother decides to accompany him to the cemetary to visit their deceased mother. Soon, Jimmy tells him how he is disgusted in him and that he doesn't want anything to do with him, then why did he go to him in the first place? Doesn't make any sense, nor does the relationship between the two anyways since it never is explained. A judge in the film that befriends Jimmy and admires his intentions comments that his brother was the victim of a harsh circumstance, but we don't understand why because the director fails to paint a bleak, convincing picture of the environment the characters live in. The movie depicts the bully to be nothing more than that, not a heartless and violent thug. There is no threat with the character, and I don't know if there was something wrong with the version I saw, but annoying cuts occur right in the middle of important scenes. The pace quickly flew by and I acually thought that it needed to be longer because the otherwise harmless and enjoyable movie is insignificantly slight.

Home at the End of the World (Michael Mayer, 2004) 43

In Colin Farrell's best performance along with TIGERLAND, he plays Bobby, a nine year old when we are first introduced to him, and we witness him grow more mature into his twenties through tragic times in his life as the film progresses. What makes this performance work so well is how Farrel quietly depicts him, he doesn't overdo the character, or show off. Instead, this innocent character opens gradually to us, which makes the process of understanding him more interesting. Considering the nuances of his performance, he deserves of a better movie, but HOME AT THE END OF THE WORLD is adequete enough to feature a character such as this, I suppose. There is also Jonathon (Dallas Roberts), who has moved to New York City at 24 years old, where he lives with Clare (Robert Wright Penn). Jonathon is Bobby's longtime friend and his parents took Bobby in at a young age, and when he moves out of their house, he shows up at Jonathon's house, then confusions begin. Which revolve around Clare: Jonathon is homosexual but she loves him, and while Jonathon has always loved Bobby, Bobby falls in love with Clare. The screenplay, adapted by Michael Cunningham from his novel, illustrates Bobby as a type of person who is only satisfied when people around him is happy. After an excellent first half, Mayer does not maintain the emotions worked on previously, then characters become too dubious and vague, and the drama in the end is not particularly inspired, either. I am mixed on the film because I did not dislike it, admiring its well meaning intentions and its heart, but the earnesty undermines the drama, and the film wants to be more important than it really is. The book is probably complex, whereas the film adaptation wants to deal with every flaw that these many characters have. Even Sissy Spacek, playing Jonathon's mom, is in the director's agenda to develop, but never fully does. While Spacek is quite good in the role, she didn't need to have so many scenes. At the abrupt end, the film rushed to fulfill every single character arc in an ambitious story that's far too JULES AND JIM-ish and unoriginal.

Maria Full of Grace (Joshua Marston, 2004) 66

An emotionally wrenching and deeply moving effort from Joshua Marston, MARIA FULL OF GRACE is about the line that people have no choice but to cross when desperation plays a part in their everyday lives. This describes Maria Avarez (Catalina Sandino Moreno), a 17 year old who lives a boring and sad life, and when the film opens, we see her working a job that requires her to rip off the sharp thorns on flowers. It doesn't take long for us to understand this person's pain and care about her. She is pregnant and feels that her boyfriend Juan (Wilson Guerrero) is without any prospects, meaning that he would not be able to take care of her or their baby after he proposes marriage to her. We will understand the despair when she is persuaded into a new job, one that involves travelling. She becomes a mule, smuggling drugs into the United States by swallowing plastic capsules that contain cocaine. Marston's screenplay doesn't introduce to us a character that we've seen time and time again in past movies because the people living in the world that he has created feel natural to us, almost as if we eavesdrop on their plights once we meet them. The greatest aspect about Marston's vision is humanity and complexity in the ways that only real people can be, and the very fact that they are deeply flawed, not perfect. Finally, there is a new film that seems to understand grey zones, portraying a real person with real fears and worries that is actually is committing a crime, but because of the great emotional resonance in the story, we accept the reality. No cliches, contrivances, manipulation, or preaching is here, just pure immediacy that Marston's focussed camera conveys with the frantic hand-held work, and what may annoy some people or be come across as rehashed, but it only enhanced the taut clausterphobia for me, etc. I am talking about the sequence where we follow the trio of Maria, Blanca (Yenny Paola Vega), and Lucy (Guilied Lopez) en route to New York with the drugs in their stomaches. With no music on the soundtrack, the scenes accounting their trip is filled with fucking extraordinary intensity that becomes relatively uneasy. With an abundance of emotions to balance, Moreno's revelatory performance is subtle in doing so, lingering in our memory.

Macabre (Lamberto Bava, 1980) 63

As the very first film I've seen from director Mario Bava's son Lamberto, MACABRE was a pleasant surprise, especially since I didn't know much about it when I watched it. Supposedly based on a true story, the film tells the story of Jane Baker (Bernice Stegers), a New Orleans mother and wife who abandons her daughter and son one night to be alone with her lover Fred (Roberto Posse) at a boardinghouse run by a blind man Robert Duval (Stanko Molnar) and his old mother. When Jane arrives at the house, waiting for Fred in their room, her daughter Lucy (Veronica Zinny) tries to contact her by calling. Her mother ignores her even further, and that sets off a horrifying chain of events, starting with the accidental death of her young son. As soon as she hears about what happened, Fred immediately drives her back to her home. In the passenger seat, Jane is in a nervous wreck crying, repeatedly saying that it is her fault because she was not home to watch her kids. Consequently, there is a car accident, decapitating Fred, leaving Jane traumatized. The death of her son and Fred lands her into a mental hospital for a year, and when she is released, she decides to live in the same house that Fred and her shared, with Robert running it now after his mother passed away. From this point on, the movie starts its downward spiral, slow and unassuming until the movie itself completely breaks down, along with Jane. Bava's methodical, muted pace may bore some people -- not much happens on the surface level of the movie -- but that is precisely what makes Bava's creepy atmosphere and bizarre characterization so rewarding. Saying that there is no conflict whatsoever in the movie is kinda like saying there is no conflict Polanski's REPULSION, which isn't true because both works heavily rely on the alienation and insanity closing in on the lead characters, their internal conflict being the focus, which is why the eerie environment the characters occupy represents their fragile, disturbed mindstate. As a result, the tone is masterfully tense, with the themes of sexual deviance and fear in the limelight. Robert, the blind character represents us, the viewer in a way: we are unsure about what direction the film is taking, and while we have a clue about what Jane keeps locked in the freezer, we have to wait until the revelation at the end. The last shot surprised the fuck outta me, as I did not see it coming at all. However, this twist is one of the film's troubles because it seems tacked-on, as if it does not belong because nothing previous can support it. I also didn't like how fast that Jane's infidelity was proven; the film needed more of Jane before her first meeting so we could understand better. I pictured that her life was too boring and mundane, as her husband Leslie is never around but on business all of the time. The dubbing of Veronica Zinny was the worst, but other than that, the dubbing was fine, destracting nothing to the performances. As Jane, Stegers still manages to win our sympathy while scaring us at the same time. Don't expect a giallo in the traditional sense, expect a pyschological horror that values from its alienated milieu.

Blade In The Dark (Lamberto Bava, 1983) 52

Nothing great, but nevertheless decent, BLADE IN THE DARK begins with a creepy opening sequence: two young kids force their friend to bring back a tennis ball after it is thrown down a dark basement. The kid is reluctant to do it of course, but when his friends call him a female if he does not do it, he starts slowly down the staircase. He does not return with the ball, and his friends are confused and scared, even moreso when the ball is thrown back up the stairs with a great force hitting the wall, covered in blood. Soon, this is revealed to be a scene from a movie that Sandra (Anny Papa) is currently working on. Without giving anything crucial away, this is a moment that seems to be a waste, but it is actually important to remember. Sandra hires her musician friend Bruno (Andrea Occhipinti) to score the horror movie. In efforts to work on the score in peace as well as become inspired, he rents a villa from landlord Tony (Michele Soavi) and on his first night, he meets a strange woman Katia (Valeria Cavalli) inside of his house, but before he can understand why she has broken in, she leaves and is then murdered. Bruno now becomes suspicious of her disapperance, gathering as many clues as he can, believing that there is a killer lurking in and around his house. His actions may seem contrived -- even without any bodies, he has a considerable amount of evidence to inform the police about -- but because the performance itself is so convincing, I believed that, in the best giallo fashion, Bruno is fascinated in solving the mystery and at first, he assumes that it is his imagination. The mystery angle is a predictable one, as I was pretty sure of the killer's identity, though the red herrings were smart in their own way. I thought that dialogue and dubbing was awfully poor in certain parts, mainly when our main character cannot tell the difference between a cockroach and a spider. With a fairly standard plot, Bava still manages to entertain as his film -- which was originally intended to be a miniseries -- unfolds with ominous atmosphere and score, also terrifying with its murder sequences, namely the one in the bathroom that is as unflinchingly brutal as its reputation is said to be. Reminded me of TENEBRE and PYSCHO, but does a fine job in being its own film.

Eaten Alive (Tobe Hooper, 1977) 42

Considerably underrated, Tobe Hooper's follow-up to his 1974 filmmaking debut THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE, EATEN ALIVE is regarded to be Hooper's "lost film" about Judd (Neville Brand), a backwoods pyschopath that keeps a pet crocodile while running the Starlight Hotel, which is located on a Florida swamp in the middle of nowhere. The film opens with the young Robert Englund playing Buck, a perverted hillbilly that wants to have anal sex with Clara (Roberta Collins), but she declines and is then fired by her boss. With enough cash for a hotel for the night, she stumbles upon the Starlight, where she is attacked by Judd with a large scyth, then fed to his crocodile. This is basically all that happens in the movie, and there are plenty of people that come in encounter with Judd throughout, including Clara's father and her sister that are searching desperately for her. Soon, a family arrives: Faye (Marilyn Burns), her husband Roy (William Finley), and their daughter. When their dog is eaten by the crocidile, they pay for a room to calm down their traumatized daughter. There is a scene where Finley's character is on the verge of a nervous breakdown talking about how his wife wants to put her cigarette out on his eye, and another scene when he is barking constantly. It's so ridiculously insane, I can't recall the last time I laughed this much during a horror movie. Lots of strange humor is thrown in EATEN ALIVE and every bit of it seemed necessarily fitting to me because of how wacky the characters are. Although I was not bored by the movie, its repetition is obvious, ruining the tension because we know exactly what is going to happen: people arrive at the hotel, then they are fed to the croc. The movie is similar to TCM in obvious ways, such as the plot which was loosley based on a true story, the pyscho as a decorated but disturbed war vet, the presence of Marilyn Burns, and the visual scheme is worth mentioning. This is the most rewarding aspect in the movie, as Robert Caramico's surreal photography is truly original with deep red lighting and overwhelming darkness and fog, giving the movie a macabre, nightmarish quality. Brand's Judd is memorable in his madness, and I think that, even if the details are there (note the scene when Buck and his prostitute lock themselves in the spare room and Judd's quiet reactions; the flag in the background in a scene), Hooper should have spent a bit more time realizing him rather than a filming a pointless, unfunny scene in a bar that only wastes time. I don't understand why the movie is hated as much because there are indeed effective qualities that some people seem to be overlooking, maybe paying too much attention to improbability of the story. Like, how does this town's sheriff and citizens not know what Judd is doing? How do characters conveniently arrive one after the other at Judd's hotel, which seems to be well hidden? Etc.

The Manchurian Candidate (Jonathan Demme, 2004) 53

Shouldn't be compared in any way to John Frankenheimer's superior film starring Frank Sinatra in the lead role because Demme didn't remake it so much that he reimagined the story, and has casted Denzel Washington in the Sinatra role. He plays Major Ben Marco, who fought combat in the Gulf War, and is haunted years later by various nightmares of the ambush on him and his team and the events afterwards that involve brainwashing experiments. One soldier that served under him and was given a Medal of Honor, Raymond Shaw (Liev Schreiber) possibly is going to be vice president come next election, coached closely by his powerful political mother (Meryl Streep). Acting is just excellent all around, especially Schreiber who stood out for me because of how fascinating he plays his character because in certain scenes, he slowly begins to believe Marco. It's a chilling performance, and Streep is just as fun to watch playing his mother, but in a scene where she professes her love for him close to the end, it is too obvious that the scene is unnecessary. I liked how Demme never tells us openly which party is Democrat or Republican because in his vision, it does not matter because it can happen with either side. I also liked how that the theme of treating veterans harshly is handled and that Demme doesn't overdo other of his political themes too much. What I didn't like was that the paranoia aspect was sometimes a bit too inflated after a while, the film felt longish near the end, and the resolution is one that I did not like. Original is definitely more subtle, but Demme's film doesn't fail to entertain.

The Bourne Supremacy (Paul Greengrass, 2004) 51

Dug this movie more than I thought I would; it is much stronger than the original BOURNE movie thanks to the exciting, taut direction from Greengrass. This time around, the screenplay written by Tony Gilroy, adapted from Robert Ludlum novel, offers the fresh, surprisingly smart plot involving Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) starting a new life in India with his girlfriend Marie (Franka Potente), and his part catching up on him. Suffering from headaches and nightmares, he cannot seem to escape his past, and when a determined Russian assassin is sent to kill him, Bourne is forced to find out who was behind this and why he has been framed. A thrilling plot like this includes details that slowly are revealed, not all at once but in these scenes with other characters that is in the middle of all the action, which is why the movie is fresh, despite certain predictable elements. You can say that the action sequences are confusing and that it's hard to see what the fuck is going on exactly, but the handheld camera that Greengrass hones in on the action with is appropriately handled, capturing the anger and the confusion of being in an actual fight, also adding to the paranoia that Bourne feels. Although Damon is always convincing and a fun presence to watch, I had a couple of problems with his character, which is why the movie worked for me purely on an entertainment level. The movie certainly attempts to be character driven, which is what I give it credit for, but I felt as if nothing further happens with Bourne that I did not already know. For instance, he suffers from nightmares -- a plot element that I can do without -- and the movie sets itself up to reveal an important piece of information to Bourne, but it doesn't feel like it figures out much. The most disappointing thing, though, was how the movie runs out of momentum by the end, tacking on a ending that didn't tell us anything that we did not know about him. I was deeply affected by Greengrass' directorial debut BLOODY SUNDAY when I saw it, and judging from the decent work that he did with this movie, I can definitely tell that he knows how to accurately capture emotion admist his action sequences.

Drawing Blood (Sergio Lapel, 2000) 37

Weird fucking movie from Troma that is not horrendous or unwatchable like the majority of their movies are. The movie is about Edmond (Kirk Wilson), an aspiring artist who meets a seductive painter Diana (Dawn Spinella), who happens to be a vampire that falls in love with him, and she wants to turn him into a vampire. He doesn't want to be a vampire, so instead, he becomes her slave, forced to bring women to her apartment where she kills them, drink their blood, then paint portraits with their blood. Edmond breaks down one morning when he looks at all of the missing persons signs posted on a wall, and he realizes that Diana must be stopped once and for all. He tries to find redemption in a young street hooker Dee (Eric Smith), who Diana wants to paint as soon as she sees her. He has a friend named Conner (Leo Otero) who desperately wants to be a vampire. What made the movie fall apart for me was how the characters were poorly drawn and when the tone switches all of a sudden in the second half, it becomes a completely different movie. I hated how the photography was so murky with its bad lighting (though one shot is cool where a door is opened up and nothing but natural light enters the frame) and dialogue was very laughable. Not a bad movie, though...

Nightmare City (Umberto Lenzi, 1980) 27

Remember in DAWN OF THE DEAD when Romero's zombies could barely hold a weapon in their hands? In Lenzi's NIGHTMARE CITY, his zombies are presented uncommonly different than in the majority of post-Romero movies, as zombies are seen as Man's metaphysical equal: they can chase their human prey with guns, knives, etc. This was the simple aspect that I was able to enjoy in its display, but the stupidity here is overly unbearable from this incredibly insipid screenplay that concludes itself with a displeasing chiched ending. I suppose that, in a certain state of mind for viewing, some viewers will surely have a blast. However, Lenzi's pretensions are glaringly obvious and it's ridiculous to actually believe that there is any intelligence behind the film. Don't get me wrong, I was not expecting any intellect, but Lenzi himself intended his film to maintain a message on Man's born detrimental core. In this respect, he fails remarkably and dismissing subtlety, he chooses to preach to us, senselessly beating the idea into our heads that it is society's fault that the zombies invaded, which is absurd. Yes, some sequences entertained me, but I just couldn't get over how cheap and simple-minded the filmmaking was. The set design is so simplistic that there's really nothing to the figuration; worse is the make up work for the zombies looking as if someone on the set simply smeared mud across their faces; I almost laughed as hard observing this as I did with the embarrassingly hilarious dialogue.

Eaten Alive (Umberto Lenzi, 1980) 30

As unintentionally funny as NIGHTMARE CITY, Lenzi's EATEN ALIVE isn't even entirely tolerable enough to sit through. The plot, which consists basically of Lenzi ripping Deodato off, surrounds Sheila Morris (Janet Agren) searching for her missing sister. The movie opens with a cannibal loose in New York City, killing people with a blowgun shooting poison darts. After the cannibal is run over by a truck, the police arrive on the scene only to discover a strip of film that shows a strange tribal ritual of some kind and the police believe that Sheila's sister might be involved with the cult in some way, lead by Jonas (Ivan Rassimov). Along with her guide Mark (Robert Kerman), Sheila ventures to the jungles of New Guinea to find her sister and bring her back. A banal religious cult is the focus rather than any cannibal tribe. Although this angle was at least original for a cannibal-based film, I did not care much since Rassimov's character didn't interest me, and his motivations weren't developed or even touched on at all. Despite whatever uniqueness, we don't even receive much plot anyways -- instead, Lenzi makes a point to us that he has to blatantly rip off as many movies in the genre as possible, stealing footage from various movies, including them in his own movie. The gore is pretty cool -- you get all types of violence here -- and I at least give the movie points because it thankfully does not take its ludicrous self seriously. Nothing excuses how poorly made this is. As much as I respect people's opinions, I would have no choice but to laugh my ass off if anyone honestly believes that this is well made, as Lenzi sometimes has a way of making Ed Wood look like Steven Spielberg. And so far, this movie and NIGHTMARE CITY feature some of the worst and most horrendous dialogue that hammy actors laughably deliver on account of awful dubbing. If the majority of Lenzi's work is gonna be like the two that I've seen already, then his films definitely aren't for me.

Cannibal Ferox (Umberto Lenzi, 1981) 25

Guess I gotta blame myself for watching this; I knew what to expect going in, knowing that it was gonna be nothing more than a CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST rip-off. Let's start with the story that is as dumb as this: an anthropology student Gloria (Lorraine De Salle), her brother Rudy (Danilo Mattei), and her friend Pat (Zora Kerova) search deep in the Amazon jungle to research primitive tribes and find out if cannibalism truly exists or if it is only a myth. When their jeep breaks down, they come across Mike Logan (Giovanni Lombardo Radice), who is looking to score some coccaine and acquire diamonds. When he is unsuccessful, he murders natives in a violent rage, and then they exact revenge. Meanwhile, back in New York where the bunch are from, detectives search for Mike; this is such a meaningless, useless subplot in the movie that it actually reduces any flow and momentum that Lenzi worked up. Amatuerish gore is shown as explicitly as possible, but to be honest, this isn't anything special because we basically have seen all of this before and in other cases, we would have been connected to the violence emotionally when caring for the characters. Because CANNIBAL FEROX is much different than Lenzi's silly efforts (though stupid dialogue is still a factor here) in the way that it is supposed to be pretty serious, I thought that, without sympathetic characters, it was an insult to show us this graphic violence, featuring even more despicable animal killings than Deodato's film did. Radice's over-the-top performance is the best in the film, while the rest of the cast is left with nothing to do but serve as a meal to the cannibals, that's it. Lenzi's absurd message is spoken by one of the characters: these cannibal tribes have resorted to this lifestyle because of racism, some dumb shit like that, etc. Music is annoying and unnecessary, the atmosphere isn't taken advantage of to heighten the tension, and yeah I forgot to mention that it's a boring, boring movie...
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beltmann
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PostPosted: 08.09.2004 9:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

HoRRoRFaN wrote:
The cinematography is excellent here, in memorable shots such as when Lucius walks up to red berries with the village in the background and when he is professing his love to Ivy admist darkness and fog.


That "romantic" scene was one of my favorites, partially because it is well-acted, and partially because it's one of the few scenes where the dialogue doesn't fall flat.

By now, we all know Shyamalan is very crafty with his cinematography and ASL, and while I think The Village is slacker than his other pictures, there are enough elegant visuals to at least recommend a viewing. My favorite? The use of deep-focus when Hurt walks Howard to the shed. We gauge the remaining distance when they stop advancing, but when Hurt continues on, we realize that the shed's door is infinitely larger than we believed. (He's about to become a "smaller" man.) It's almost as if Hurt had just signed away his fortune...

Eric
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HoRRoRFaN
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Joined: 06 Jul 2004
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PostPosted: 08.10.2004 12:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

That's an awesome shot that you mentioned, Eric. However, I thought that this was one of the unnecessary scenes that felt rushed at the end used to reveal the twist, as any suspense is pretty much wasted. I happen to like the scene when a creature is inches away from Ivey, then an annoying slow-mo has to be included. I hated that. Basically, I was disappointed in certain scenes because while I did like them and how well they were set up, they failed in execution. Exceptions were: the quietly tense last scene with Noah and Lucious, and I agree with you that the one romantic scene was one of the best scenes in the film. There is no doubt that Shyamalan can stage scenes wonderfully, but they don't amount to much afterwards, unfortunately.
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beltmann
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PostPosted: 08.10.2004 12:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

HoRRoRFaN wrote:
There is no doubt that Shyamalan can stage scenes wonderfully, but they don't amount to much afterwards, unfortunately.


I think that's true here, and also with Signs and Wide Awake, but I still believe that Sixth Sense and Unbreakable add up to something. What's frustrating is that those two films set the bar high, and it now seems clear that Shyamalan doesn't have the taste, wisdom, and maturity to live up to his own hype. Both Signs and The Village seem contrived by a man detached from everything in life except the movies (and B-movies, at that). The comparisons to Spielberg were obviously premature.

We can only fantasize about a version of The Village directed by Ingmar Bergman...

Eric
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