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Screening Log 2006 - What did you watch this week?
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Jim Harper
Director


Joined: 29 Feb 2004
Posts: 226
Location: Totnes, Devon, UK

PostPosted: 07.28.2006 3:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

12/07/06 - 28/07/06

Booth (dir. Yoshihiro Nakamura, 2005)*

Bubba Ho-Tep (dir. Don Coscarelli, 2002)

A Nightmare on Elm Street (dir. Wes Craven, 1984)

Phantoms (dir. Joe Chappelle, 1998)

Dominion: Prequel to the Exorcist (dir. Paul Shrader, 2005)

The Exorcism of Emily Rose (dir. Scott Derrickson, 2005)

Cry_Wolf (dir. Jeff Wadlow, 2005)*

Batman Begins (dir. Chris Nolan, 2006)*

Scream (dir. Wes Craven, 1996)

Empire of the Wolves (dir. Chris Nahon, 2005)*

Utopia (dir. Maria Ripoll, 2003)*

Freddy vs. Jason (dir. Ronny Yu, 2003)

Land of the Dead (dir. George Romero, 2005)

Kiss of the Dragon (dir. Chris Nahon, 2001)*

Crimson Rivers II: Angels of the Apocalypse (dir. Olivier Dahan, 2004)

Day of the Triffids (dir. Steve Sekely, 1963)

The Revenge of Frankenstein (dir. Terence Fisher, 1958)

Time After Time (dir. Nicholas Meyer, 1979)

Legend of Hell House (dir. John Hough, 1973)

The Curse of the Werewolf (dir. Terence Fisher, 1961)*

The Nun (dir. Luis de la Madrid, 2005)*

Nine Queens (dir. Fabian Bielinsky, 2000)

Deathwatch (dir. Michael J Bassett, 2001)

The Seven Samurai (dir. Akira Kurosawa, 1954)*

Swamp Thing (dir. Wes Craven, 1982)

S?ance on a Wet Afternoon (dir. Bryan Forbes, 1964)*

Terminator 2: Judgement Day (dir. James Cameron, 1992)

Kazuo Umezu Horror Theater: The Wish (dir. Atsushi Shimizu, 2005)*

Kazuo Umezu Horror Theater: Snake Girl (dir. Noboru Iguchi, 2005)*

The Puppet Masters (dir. Stuart Orme, 1994)*

Hipnos (dir. David Carreras, 2003)*

Night of the Creeps (dir. Fred Dekker, 1986)

Night of the Demons 2 (dir. Brian Trenchard-Smith, 1994)

The Transporter 2 (dir. Louis Leterrier, 2005)*

April Fool?s Day (dir. Fred Walton, 1986)

Kazuo Umezu Horror Theater: House of Bugs (dir. Kiyoshi Kurosawa, 2005)*

Kazuo Umezu Horror Theater: Diet (dir. Tadafumi Ito, 2005)*

Subway (dir. Luc Besson, 1985)



Seem to have got through a lot of films recently...



Booth is an entertaining little film, very much like an episode of The Twilight Zone. Not staggeringly original, but pleasant enough.



Kiyoshi Kurosawa's House of Bugs isn't likely to drive anyone into a frenzy, thanks to a poor ending and a general lack of scares. Diet is better, although the Media Blasters disc gives away the main twist on the cover, so it's not likely to surprise anyone. I enjoyed The Wish even though it's not hard to predict. The Snake Girl is boring and saddled with poor special effects. I'm not especially enthused about the last two instalments in the series.



Lots of French action/thrillers recently. The best is probably Kiss of the Dragon, thanks to a nicely over-the-top performance from Tcheky Karyo and some of Jet Li's finest martial arts scenes. Chris Nahon doesn't fare quite so well with Empire of the Wolves, which looks stunning and boasts a great cast, including Jean Reno and Laura Morante (The Dancer Upstairs). Despite being based on a Jean-Christophe Grange novel it's a muddled mess that lurches from one scene to the next with little finesse or flow. The Transporter 2 was a little more reliant upon CGI than I would have liked, but it was still highly entertaining.



A fair amount of Spanish films too. The Nun is directed by Jaume Balaguero's regular editor Luis de la Madrid and based on a Balaguero story, but it's a turgid supernatural slasher movie that's equal parts A Nightmare on Elm Street and I Know What You Did Last Summer. Looks great but it's frankly boring. Utopia is an interesting psychic-themed thriller with a fantastic cast: Fele Martinez (Open Your Eyes, Thesis), Najwa Nimri (Open Your Eyes, Tcheky Karyo, Emma Vilarasau (The Nameless) and Leonard Sbaraglia (Intacto). Doesn't break new ground by it's interesting and well-performed. Hipnos could be described as a decent version of Gothika, with a young female doctor coming to work at a mental institution with a higher-than-usual suicide rate. Intelligent and great-looking, well worth a viewing if you can find it.



Cry_Wolf was fun if not exactly original.



Batman Begins is the best superhero movie made in recent years, and likely to stay that way.



Why didn't Hammer make any more werewolf movies? Curse is great. It would have been great to see some of the big names in there, but you can't go wrong with Michael Ripper, Warren Mitchell (The Crawling Eye) and Jack Warner from The Quatermass Xperiment.



I like Seance on a Wet Afternoon is probably better than Kurosawa's version, to be honest. Excellent performance from Richard Attenborough.



I don't know why The Puppet Masters gets such a bad rap. The special effects are excellent and it's certainly better than Ferrara's Body Snatchers (which I rather like, actually).



In my experience, few films that are considered to be among the best ever amde are actually worthy of that status, but The Seven Samurai definitely is. It's simply excellent.



Anyone who doesn't enjoy Night of the Creeps should just end it all now. "The good news is your dates are here..."



It's been years since I watched Night of the Demons 2, so I didn't realize Christine Taylor from Dodgeball appeared in it.
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beltmann
Studio Exec


Joined: 26 Jun 2003
Posts: 2341
Location: West Bend, WI

PostPosted: 07.29.2006 9:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

juhsstin wrote:
meh, they're the ones who are missing out... or missing IN as it were... Confused


I know what you mean. It shouldn't matter which genre--or what budget or what country--a movie belongs to. I'm searching for movies that matter to me, and I don't care whether they come from Hollywood or Pakistan.



It works both ways, of course. The so-called "masses" may cheat themselves of rich filmgoing experiences, but film snobs sometimes seem more interested in being associated with the baggage attached to certain movies rather than the works themselves. A true student of film ought to be egalitarian in their tastes, willing to dive into so-called "elitist" art, but equally willing to consider the pleasures of so-called "lesser" forms and genres. Biases just get in the way of the fun, at least in my experience.
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beltmann
Studio Exec


Joined: 26 Jun 2003
Posts: 2341
Location: West Bend, WI

PostPosted: 08.01.2006 2:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

7/23 ? 7/30/06



In preferential order:



The Best of Youth / Giordana / Italy / 2003

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang / Black / USA / 2005

Nathalie? / Fontaine / France / 2003



The Best of Youth is really long. Really long. But I agree with how Ebert defended its intimidating running length: ?When you hear that it is six hours long, reflect that it is therefore also six hours deep.?
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Michael Scrutchin
Studio President


Joined: 26 Jun 2003
Posts: 832
Location: Pearland, TX

PostPosted: 08.01.2006 3:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

beltmann wrote:
The Best of Youth is really long. Really long. But I agree with how Ebert defended its intimidating running length: ?When you hear that it is six hours long, reflect that it is therefore also six hours deep.?




I didn't care much for the first two hours of The Best of Youth, but I'm glad I stuck it out -- by hour three, I was hooked. I wish I could say it stayed with me longer than it did, but it's still a rich and engrossing experience.



Did you like Kiss Kiss Bang Bang? I had a blast with that one, even if they didn't know how to end the damn thing.
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beltmann
Studio Exec


Joined: 26 Jun 2003
Posts: 2341
Location: West Bend, WI

PostPosted: 08.01.2006 4:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The emotional ebb-and-flow of Best of Youth had me hooked almost immediately--even though the story appears to take its time, the smart, concise dialogue and economical editing keeps everything moving forward at a brisk pace. Circumstances forced me to split the viewing into five or six sessions, but it was never a chore; in fact, I couldn't wait to return.



Kiss Kiss Bang Bang is a very good time despite being utterly disposable. Nothing really matters during the film beyond the present moment, but Robert Downey, Jr. gives one of his most likable, amusing performances, the lightning dialogue is to be cherished, and Black conceived some very funny situations--the best scenes are those that tweak the conventions of film noir, and I'm dying to work "Why in pluperfect hell did you pee on the corpse?" into my casual conversation.
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Danny Baldwin
Studio Exec


Joined: 26 Jun 2003
Posts: 1354
Location: San Diego, CA

PostPosted: 08.01.2006 5:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

7/25-7/31



In preferential order:



Clerks II (Smith, 2006)

Cache (Haneke, 2006)

Find Me Guilty (Lumet, 2006)

Monster House (Keenan, 2006)

Lady in the Water (Shyamalan, 2006)

My Super Ex-Girlfriend (Reitman, 2006)

She's the Man (Fickman, 2006)



Was able to catch up with quite a few current releases this week. Clerks II is funny stuff from Kevin Smith; like Beltmann, I'm not so sure how people seem so revolted by it.



Cache is frustrating--typical of Haneke--but it's pretty rewarding, too.



Had Shyamalan been less overtly "okay, here's this, accept it, now!" with Lady in the Water, it could've been a masterpiece. Its atmosphere and Giamatti's performance are perfect. But it's just silly. I admire the guy's imagination, but my God.
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beltmann
Studio Exec


Joined: 26 Jun 2003
Posts: 2341
Location: West Bend, WI

PostPosted: 08.07.2006 4:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

7/31 ? 8/6/06



In preferential order:



Zorba the Greek / Cacoyannis / USA / 1964

The Ice Harvest / Ramis / USA / 2005

The Ecology of Love (short) / Hill / USA / 2004



There's something to be said for the velvety, sardonic rhythm of The Ice Harvest but it suffers when compared to the somewhat similar Kiss Kiss Bang Bang: The dialogue is far less witty and more lumbering; the actors only hint at characters without ever becoming them; the plot lacks tension, feels recycled, and never sparks as a thriller nor as a black comedy.
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Monkeypox
Cinematographer


Joined: 17 Jul 2003
Posts: 156
Location: TX

PostPosted: 08.07.2006 7:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Clerks II - I've never been a huge Kevin Smith fan. I've enjoyed his movies, but never felt he had done anything particularly inspired or inspiring. I always viewed Dogma as his best work, and it still suffered from its own lightness and a number of flat jokes and characters. So I would say I went in to Clerks II with fairly low expectations. I liked the original, both for its lewdness and characterizations, but it was a technically poor film and, IMO, vastly overrated.



To its credit, however, it introduced us to genuinely charming characters, and it did have a spark to it. But most importantly, without it we would never have been treated to what I hold as Smith's absolute best film. The original Clerks wielded a double-edged sword in its subject matter - people in their early-to-mid-20s not knowing what to do with their lives. We've all been there (or will be), and that was both the value and the problem with it. It's perfectly normal. As I rapidly approach my 30s, I have come to recognize that these issues gain a significant amount of WEIGHT with those added years, particularly as a person working in an artistic profession. We all do the timelines. And when you're young, you always feel that room for adjustment. Managing the expectations (both your own and others) of your life as you grow older becomes an increasingly perilous and futile task, especially as you watch a number of those around you arrange their lives in what you've long been trained to see as the correct manner.



So this is where we've found our characters, Dante and Randal in particular. And, unlike in the first installment, you get a real feeling that Clerks II and these characters have something to say. Yes, there are flaws. Some of the jokes feel a bit forced, there are a few contrivances that seemed they needed more work. However, all in all, I thought this was brilliant, which isn't something I often say.



Oh, and if you'd have told me 12 years ago that Jeff Anderson (Randal) would ever be able to carry a truly powerful scene, much less lend credible depth to a character in a film, I'd have thought you were nuts. Affleck the Elder's been in like 6000 movies since then, and hasn't even hinted at the developmental potential that Anderson displays here.



Now, I recognize that perhaps my views of this film are colored by personal perspective given my own age and recent decisions, but I think that's sort of the point.
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beltmann
Studio Exec


Joined: 26 Jun 2003
Posts: 2341
Location: West Bend, WI

PostPosted: 08.07.2006 6:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Monkeypox wrote:
Now, I recognize that perhaps my views of this film are colored by personal perspective given my own age and recent decisions, but I think that's sort of the point.


I too think that's the point, and I largely felt the same way (and even more so at films like The Secret Lives of Dentists and Before Sunset, two movies that generously unlock for viewers of a certain age and/or experience). Several weeks after seeing it, I think I might agree that Clerks II is Smith's best work to date... although I'm still waiting for a truly great film from him.
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beltmann
Studio Exec


Joined: 26 Jun 2003
Posts: 2341
Location: West Bend, WI

PostPosted: 08.20.2006 10:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

8/7 ? 8/20/06



The last two weeks, in preferential order:



The Matador / Shepard / USA / 2005

The Eye 2 / Pang brothers / Hong Kong / 2004

Lianna / Sayles / USA / 1983

Oliver Twist / Polanski / UK / 2005

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man?s Chest / Verbinski / USA / 2006

World Trade Center / Stone / USA / 2006

Chicken Little / Dindal / USA / 2005

New Police Story / Chan / Hong Kong / 2004

Three? Extremes / Chan, Park, Takashi / Hong Kong, South Korea, Japan / 2004

Yesterday / Roodt / South Africa / 2004

Thumbsucker / Mills / USA / 2005

The Edukators / Weingartner / Germany / 2004

Shopgirl / Tucker / USA / 2005

Cold Creek Manor / Figgis / USA / 2003

Snakes on a Plane / Ellis / USA / 2006

The Skeleton Key / Softley / USA / 2005

Dumplings / Fruit / Hong Kong / 2004

Armitage III: Poly-Matrix / Hiroyuki / Japan / 1994



The Matador has a mildly clever script, helped tremendously by two very funny performances.



The Eye 2 is much better than the original. The story concerns a lonely pregnant woman who sees dead people, and I liked the way the movie exists entirely from her point-of-view?since we?re trapped inside the hermetic, perhaps warped world of her psychology, we?re never sure whether her visions are really happening or merely by-products of pre-partum depression. By locating supernatural horror in the link between female vulnerabilities?rape, abandonment, pregnancy anxieties?and the concept of reincarnation, it?s like a Buddhist Rosemary?s Baby.



New Police Story doesn't have anything to do with Jackie Chan?s previous Police Story cycle (Supercop, First Strike, etc.), but it's definitely in the same vein. And while no one's ever accused Jackie Chan of being a great actor, here you can see him really trying, and it's not bad at all.



Three... Extremes is an omnibus film of three intense short films by three of Asia's best-known filmmakers. Surprisingly, Takashi Miike?s contribution is the most restrained, most psychological of the set. My favorite, though, was probably Park Chan-Wook's Cut, which had the guts to be funny as well as seriously twisted. (Dumplings, a bonus feature on the DVD, is an unnecessary feature-length extension of ?Dumplings,? Fruit Chan?s contribution to this collection.)



The Oscar-nominated South African drama Yesterday concerns a rural mother named Yesterday. While her husband is away working the mines of Johannesburg, she is diagnosed with AIDS. The movie is the story of the trials she faces--particularly village prejudice--in her attempt to live long enough to see her young daughter attend her first day of school. I wouldn't call it great cinema, but it does deal with an issue central to modern Africa in a very straight-forward, very compassionate way, and it also evocatively depicts the landscape and rural rhythms of Africa.



Snakes on a Plane isn?t good enough to be memorable B-movie genre stuff, nor bad enough to be enjoyed as a so-bad-it's-good ironic pleasure (a prospect that, for me at least, has limited appeal in the first place). I?m far more intrigued by how, for many filmgoers, the hype has become, for apparently arbitrary reasons, inextricable from the actual experience of seeing the movie. I think Owen Gleiberman hit the nail on the head: ?More potent than anything in Snakes on a Plane is the fantasy offscreen: that if enough people talk up their desire to see this film and, at the same time, take an overt delight in what an unabashed piece of junk it is, they will fuse with the hype, with the movie's mystique.?



Finally, I?m giving World Trade Center a thread of its own.
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Michael Scrutchin
Studio President


Joined: 26 Jun 2003
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PostPosted: 08.20.2006 11:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

beltmann wrote:
The Eye 2 is much better than the original. The story concerns a lonely pregnant woman who sees dead people, and I liked the way the movie exists entirely from her point-of-view?since we?re trapped inside the hermetic, perhaps warped world of her psychology, we?re never sure whether her visions are really happening or merely by-products of pre-partum depression. By locating supernatural horror in the link between female vulnerabilities?rape, abandonment, pregnancy anxieties?and the concept of reincarnation, it?s like a Buddhist Rosemary?s Baby.




You just sold me on The Eye 2, big time. To the top of my queue it goes.
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beltmann
Studio Exec


Joined: 26 Jun 2003
Posts: 2341
Location: West Bend, WI

PostPosted: 08.21.2006 12:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Michael Scrutchin wrote:
You just sold me on The Eye 2, big time. To the top of my queue it goes.


Hope I didn't oversell it--it's still closer to traditional J-horror than Polanski--but I really did very much enjoy it. I found the original The Eye kinda blah, but this one had me in its psychological grip the whole way.
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Jim Harper
Director


Joined: 29 Feb 2004
Posts: 226
Location: Totnes, Devon, UK

PostPosted: 08.21.2006 10:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Just to provide a counterbalance, I thought The Eye 2 was pretty poor. Derivative material (including cribs from The Tenant) and a hysterical lead performance make it difficult to enjoy.
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beltmann
Studio Exec


Joined: 26 Jun 2003
Posts: 2341
Location: West Bend, WI

PostPosted: 08.21.2006 3:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Jim Harper wrote:
Just to provide a counterbalance, I thought The Eye 2 was pretty poor. Derivative material (including cribs from The Tenant) and a hysterical lead performance make it difficult to enjoy.


No quibbles about some of the derivation--although I felt the brothers handled the cribs effectively--but I liked the lead performance a lot; the so-called "hysteria" only helps define the fact that we're inside a specific POV, that of a woman terrified by her vulnerabilities. It may not be credible as reality, but it is very credible as a depiction of the psychology of hysteria. That said, I don't think acting has ever been a main appeal or drawback of any of the films I've seen in the J-horror vein; that conventional criticism seems besides the point, at least for me.



I also wanted to acknowledge that I admired the film's willingness to end on an unexpectedly sincere and romantic note.
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Jim Harper
Director


Joined: 29 Feb 2004
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Location: Totnes, Devon, UK

PostPosted: 08.21.2006 3:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The acting is certainly better than the average Hong Kong horror film; if you're not familiar with the 40,000 homegrown horror films released in that tiny island every month it can be quite alarming just how badly-acted most of them are. Being fair, it's perhaps got something to do with my generally disdain for hysterical women preventing me from forming an emotional connection with the character. Nonetheless, The Eye 2 simply didn't scare me as much as the first film.



I understand it's better than The Eye 10, however.
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