Friday, October 31, 2008
And the Six Weeks of Halloween horror movie marathon (See Week 1 | Week 2 | Week 3 | Week 4 | Week 5 | Week 6 | Week 6.5) concludes with the best Halloween movie of all time:
Posted by Mark on October 31, 2008 at 12:38 AM .: link :.
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
6WH: Week 6.5: Speed Round!
Just a few days away from Halloween and I figured I'd do a bunch of short reviews for movies that I've seen recently, but that haven't been covered in the Six Weeks of Halloween marathon so far (See Week 1 | Week 2 | Week 3 | Week 4 | Week 5 | Week 6). Some of them just didn't fit with a given week's theme and some were just awful and I didn't want to spend too much time on them. So here goes:
Posted by Mark on October 29, 2008 at 08:07 PM .: link :.
Sunday, October 26, 2008
6WH: Week 6: Japanese Horror
The final week of the Six Weeks of Halloween horror movie marathon (See Week 1 | Week 2 | Week 3 | Week 4 | Week 5) kicks off with a two Japanese horror films, one disc of an Anime series, and the usual smattering of shorts and trailers.
Posted by Mark on October 26, 2008 at 09:32 PM .: link :.
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
Gabriel Over The White House
The latest episode of the FilmCouch podcast features an in-depth look at an astounding movie called Gabriel Over the White House. The film was made in 1933 (in the heart of the Great Depression) and it tells the story of a newly elected President of the US, Judson Hammond. He's not exactly a great leader. It's implied that he's somewhat corrupt, and he doesn't seem to assert himself at all, instead just acting as a figurehead for the party (for example, he signs everything that comes across his desk without question). He seems to spend most of his time messing around with his secretary and giving nicknames to his subordinates. But then he has a sorta religious experience and becomes inspired to institute real change... and this is where things get really nutty.
I don't really want to get into too much detail, but the movie is completely and totally absurd from this point on... and it's stunning to watch. President Hammond essentially fires his entire cabinet because they disagree with his decisions, then institutes martial law, effectively making himself a dictator (how he manages this, I don't know, but who the hell cares in a movie like this). He does all this so that he can implement a series of reforms that are eerily prophetic. He talks about stuff like repealing prohibition and nationalizing the business, forcing the nation's unemployed back to work, and subsidizing farmers -- all things that would happen in the following decades if not sooner (much of what he talks about prefigures the New Deal). Indeed, the film is surprisingly relevant even today, as he suggests things like putting a freeze on home foreclosures and injecting money into banks. Because this is a movie, we get some wonderful conflicts with a fictional gangster who, unhappy with the lift of prohibition, orders a drive-by shooting of the white house! The President's response to the attack is equally crazy. And there's lots of even nuttier stuff in the movie that I'm barely touching on...
For a film released in 1933, it's surprisingly well made. The acting is great, particularly Walter Huston's turn as the President. The movie rests on his shoulders as he spends most of the movie essentially speechifying and engaging in "straight talk." There are a few unexpected visual effects that were actually convincing (something of a rarity for that era) as well.
I'm honestly kinda flabbergasted by this movie. It's this unbelievable liberal authoritarian fantasy, apparently the brainchild of newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst who basically took the opportunity to go off on an insane political rant against political corruption and red tape. And as near as I can tell, the film is not a satire... it seems to actually take itself seriously. It's tacky, arrogant, obnoxious and utterly riveting. I suppose I could have spent some time deconstructing the film, but I'm so dumbfounded by it that I don't really know where to start. It clearly resonates with current events, but it just doesn't compute. Really, it has to be seen to be believed. Despite its notoriety, it wasn't very popular at the time of it's release, and it hasn't played much on TV since then. It experienced a brief resurgence on video, but quickly went out of print and isn't even available on DVD. However, some enterprising film nerd has placed the entire film on YouTube, in a series of 9 parts (strangely, it's subtitled in Spanish). If you don't feel like sitting through the whole film, it's definitely worth listening to the FilmCouch episode, as the guys spend a good amount of time humorously discussing the film and how it relates to history and current events (they also talk about W. and in a completely unrelated topic, there's some discussion of the Watchmen movie too).
Posted by Mark on October 22, 2008 at 12:53 AM .: link :.
Sunday, October 19, 2008
6WH: Week 5: The Quasi-French Connection
Coming down the homestretch of the Six Weeks of Halloween horror movie marathon (See Week 1 | Week 2 | Week 3 | Week 4), we've got yet another trio of films with the usual comedic shorts and spooky trailers. I haven't had much in the way of foreign horror films in the marathon so far, and to be honest, there's only 1 (French) horror film in this entry... but one of the films is directed by a Frenchman and the other is connected to that film. We shall start with the the latter...
Posted by Mark on October 19, 2008 at 06:40 PM .: link :.
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
Season 7 of Firefly
One of the greatest SF television series of recent years was Firefly. Of course, it never made it past 14 episodes (actually, only 11 were aired). This is what makes this mock-review of the first episode of Season 7 of Firefly hilarious.
The end is nigh. The last season of Firefly started last night and if the season premiere is any indication, it comes a season too late. ...There's lot's more, but I can't help but think how uninspired the show sounds in its 7th season. The 14 episodes of the show that were produced were great, and so it's natural to lament that we'll never get closure to a lot of the plot threads... but at this point, I'm almost glad it didn't go much beyond those 14 episodes. I enjoyed Serenity a lot, but there was something off about it. It was too rushed, too compressed. Whedon is on record as saying that the events of the movie correspond roughly to his plan for the entire second season. When I saw Serenity, I found some pieces of it lacking... the government conspiracy that drives the plot is cliched, some of the characters don't get much to do, and other characters are given the prize of an arbitrary and unceremonious death. As an movie that is independent of the series, it's great, and it's one I rewatch relatively often. Would it have worked if the story had been spread out across a season? That is the assumption most seem to make, but honestly, I don't know. What I do know is that I don't have to worry about it anymore, and that might actually be a good thing. It's a tragedy that the series was torpedoed by Fox, who did a lot to sabotage the series, but at the same time, I'm a little relieved that it didn't live long enough for Whedon to torpedo it himself.
Thanks to Jonathan Last for the link, and he correctly notes that the comments, where people take the gag and run with it, are hilarious as well. For instance, this one:
The third season kicked a@@! (They won three Emmys, for frak's sake! And I STILL say Joss was screwed over - Abrams is good, but "Lost" was [and STILL IS] just a 'gimmick' show!) But I thought Mal being on the other size of the law let them explore some "gray zones" of morality - the REAL cause of Bowden's Malady (with the great Gregg Henry reprising his role as Sheriff Bourne) - And Badger revealed as a paid snitch for Blue Sun - Or what about the two-parter where the crew finally gets their (legal!) revenge on Niska? And who didn't shed a tear over Zoe's pregnancy? Okay, Wash going undercover with the carnival was just a rip-off of "The Trouble With Tribbles" -except with baby geese - but it WAS funny! And speaking of funny, what about the episode with Jayne's mother and four sisters get quarantined aboard Serenity for a month? I usually don't care for Melanie Griffith, but I thought she was perfectly cast here...I could go on, but I urge everybody to go back and take another look at Season #3!!Heh.
Posted by Mark on October 15, 2008 at 08:35 PM .: link :.
Sunday, October 12, 2008
6WH: Week 4 - 80s Slasher Week
The Six Weeks of Horror continues (See Week 1 | Week 2 | Week 3) with some 80s slasher fun (sort of an extension of week 1's Friday the 13th marathon).
Posted by Mark on October 12, 2008 at 02:58 PM .: link :.
Wednesday, October 08, 2008
Dr. Smith's Lost in the Space at the End of Summer Movie Quiz
Well, I'm over a month late to the party here, but here are my answers to Dennis Cozzalio's movie quiz:
1) Your favorite musical moment in a movie
So it doesn't take long for me to find a question where I can't pick an answer because there are too many great ones to choose from. So here's a few: The Ride Of The Valkyries in Apocalypse Now, Also sprach Zarathustra in 2001: A Space Odyssey, and on a lighter note Total eclipse of the heart from Old School, the Raw-Hide scene in The Blues Brothers (actually, all the musical sequences in that movie are pretty good), and just about every song from the South Park movie. In more recent movies, the Falling Slowly scene in Once is pretty amazing and I liked the Jackson Five dance sequence in Clerks II too...
2) Ray Milland or Dana Andrews
And it also doesn't take long for me to prove just how little I know about older movies. Alas, this will be a recurring theme throughout this quiz. I barely know who these guys are...
3) Favorite Sidney Lumet movie
12 Angry Men. There are a few other notable choices, but I do love this movie.
4) Biggest surprise of the just-past summer movie season
Typically this sort of thing is supposed to be movies that you didn't expect to be good that actually were... but I don't watch many movies I think are going to be bad. However, I didn't think The Dark Knight would be as good as it was, and I didn't think The X Files: I Want to Believe would be as bad as it was. Neither was all that surprising, but it was a pretty vanilla summer.
5) Gene Tierney or Rita Hayworth
Rita Hayworth, though again, I don't know that era of film as well as I should...
6) What’s the last movie you saw on DVD? In theaters?
Last movie on DVD was Sleepaway Camp (part of my ongoing 6 Weeks of Halloween horror movie marathon), which I actually enjoyed a lot more than I expected. Plus, that ending. Amazing. Last movie in the theater was Appaloosa, which was a pretty standard modern western film. But there's something to be said for well executed Genre pieces, and I'm a fan. I enjoyed it quite a bit.
7) Irwin Allen’s finest hour?
The Swarm! Maybe it's just because I'm watching a lot of horror movies, but movies like this are fun.
8) What were the films where you would rather see the movie promised by the poster than the one that was actually made?
This sounds like a great question, but I'm totally drawing a blank. To be honest, it's not often that a poster really sways me one way or the other. The only thing I could think of was the poster for Star Wars: Episode I, featuring Jake Lloyd throwing the shadow of Darth Vader on the wall behind him. I don't hate the prequels, but at the time, that poster promised a lot more than we ended up getting...
9) Chow Yun-Fat or Tony Leung
Leung is probably the better dramatic actor, but I really have to go with Chow Yun-Fat. Back in college a friend of mine and I would head into the city and cruise around Chinatown looking for imported HK action movies (which were not readily available in mainstream stores like they are today), mostly featuring Chow Yun-Fat. All we needed to see was his name, and we bought it. Of course, directors like John Woo and Ringo Lam were probably more responsible for the overall experience, but Chow Yun-Fat was a huge part of the fun, so I have to pick him for this question...
10) Most pretentious movie ever
This is a rough one, because I typically try to avoid these types of movies. The first one that came to mind was Richard Linklater's Waking Life, which is comprised soley of incredibly pretentious dialogue that really goes nowhere. Great animation technique and all, but the movie just squanders it on faux-philosophic banter. Another movie I thought of for this was The Holy Mountain. However, all of Alejandro Jodorowsky's movies are pretentious, and they're also incredibly freaky and weird. In general, you know what you're going to get with a Jodorowsky movie - a lot of pretentious babble mixed with freaky/disgusting visuals. But with Linklater, I was expecting something more, which is why I'd say Waking Life is more pretentious.
11) Favorite Russ Meyer movie
I have embarrassingly not seen a Russ Meyer movie. This is a total mystery when you consider that he's got a lot of boobs in his movies and, uh, I like boobs. Seems like a natural fit. Not sure what happened there. I'll have to remedy this at some point in the future.
12) Name the movie that you feel best reflects yourself, a movie you would recommend to an acquaintance that most accurately says, “This is me.”
This one is impossible. Perhaps someday I'll put together my top 100 films of all time, at which point you'll probably be able to get a good picture of who I am, but even then, I'm not sure. Plus, I have to actually compile that list, which I haven't done yet.
13) Marlene Dietrich or Greta Garbo
I plead the Fifth.
14) Best movie snack? Most vile movie snack?
I could be totally wrong about this, but movie popcorn when I was a kid was spectacular. If I remember correctly, sometime in the 1990s, someone noticed that a small bag of popcorn with butter was the caloric equivalent of like 3 Big Macs or something insane like that. So movie theaters stumbled all over themselves to make their popcorn healthier. It's still good today, but not as good as I remember it. Of course, I'm going completely from memory here, so I could be making this all up. In terms of vile snacks... I can't really think of one, though I suppose I'd be pretty scared of a movie theater hot dog. Sno Caps are pretty disappointing if you like real non-parels, but I wouldn't call them vile.
15) Current movie star who would be most comfortable in the classic Hollywood studio system
I really don't know what kind of person would fit, but my intuition says George Clooney, so there. Maybe Tom Hanks. Interestingly, I don't know that current movie stars are really stars in the way the old Hollywood stars were. Do we have movie stars anymore?James Berardinelli recently wrote about this... but I'm not really sure either way.
16) Fitzcarraldo—yes or no?
Yes, I would like to watch that movie someday. No, it doesn't seem like it would be a movie I'd really connect with, which is why I haven't seen it yet. But I have seen some other Herzog, and I might be wrong, so I want to watch it.
17) Your assignment is to book the ultimate triple bill to inaugurate your own revival theater. What three movies will we see on opening night?
The Godfather (the newly restored print, which is apparently "sensational"), The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, and 2001: A Space Odyssey. These are three of my favorite movies of all time, they are movies that would do well on the big screen and I've never seen them on the big screen. Also, since I am a business owner, these are three very popular movies as well, and sure to draw in big crowds (the only one that might not work in that respect would be 2001, but I think it'd draw enough people in).
18) What’s the name of your theater? (The all-time greatest answer to this question was once provided by Larry Aydlette, whose repertory cinema, the Demarest, is, I hope, still packing them in...)
I have no idea. Probably something uninspired like The Movie House. If I were really opening my own theater, I think I'd really just need to get a lot of suggestions from people before naming it.
19) Favorite Leo McCarey movie
I have not seen any of his movies, but I do have Duck Soup in my Netflix queue. Of course, it's in position 92 and hasn't really movied up much in the past year that's been in there... but it is there!
20) Most impressive debut performance by an actor/actress.
My First thought was Orson Welles in Citizen Kane, but that's also something of an obvious choice. Unfortunately, I can't seem to think of any others.
21) Biggest disappointment of the just-past summer movie season
The aforementioned The X Files: I Want to Believe, was pretty disappointing. The Happening was a trainwreck... but I genuinely liked Shyamalan's last two movies which were also universally panned by critics, so I was actually a little surprised by just how bad this movie was... Pineapple Express was also disappointing.
22) Michelle Yeoh or Maggie Cheung
Michelle Yeoh, though I'm not an expert on either of these...
23) 2008 inductee into the Academy of the Overrated
Without a doubt, this goes to Iron Man. It's not that it's a bad movie... it's just that some people talk about it like it's one of the best Superhero movies ever, and it's really not even close.
24) 2008 inductee into the Academy of the Underrated
To be honest, I'm having trouble with this one. For me, this has been a bit of a lackluster year. It's October and I only really have 2 solid candidates for my annual top 10. One of those is The Dark Knight, which is emphatically not underrated. The other is Timecrimes, a quirky, Spanish time-travel thriller (and my favorite from the 2008 PFF). I don't know that I would call it "underrated" but considering that it's a foreign film that hasn't really had a theatrical release in the US, I'd say this could qualify. Unfortunately, I'm not sure how available this movie will be because Hollywood is apparently going to remake it, and with that comes the asanine practice of suppressing the original film until after the remake comes out.
The mysterious bandaged man from Timecrimes
25) Fritz the Cat—yes or no?
I have not seen it, but it sounds like a Yes to me.
26) Trevor Howard or Richard Todd
27) Antonioni once said, “I began taking liberties a long time ago; now it is standard practice for most directors to ignore the rules.” What filmmaker working today most fruitfully ignores the rules? What does ignoring the rules of cinema mean in 2008?
This question implies that there are actually rules of cinema these days. For the sake of argument, I suppose the obvious answer would be David Lynch, but I don't generally like the results he produces (and thus that's not a "fruitful" ignorance of rules for me). Perhaps the Coen brothers? They consistently seem to defy expectations and almost never take the easy, mainstream path to moviemaking. Even their Oscar winning No Country for Old Men is pretty hostile towards traditional storytelling. And they always seem to follow up their most popular and successful movies with a confounding movie, like The Big Lebowski or even Burn After Reading.
28) Favorite William Castle movie
I haven't seen enough to really say, but I did enjoy House on Haunted Hill. If Rosemary's Baby counts, there's that too.
29) Favorite ethnographically oriented movie
I'm going to cheat on this one because what immediately comes to mind is The Wire. So it's not technically a movie, but really, watching a season of the wire is like watching a 13 hour movie. Actually, the whole series is like a brilliant 60 hour movie. And while I'm no expert on inner city Baltimore, I don't think I've ever seen a movie portray the ethnographic background of the drug trade the way The Wire has...
Update: I thought of two good, non-cheating ethnographically oriented movies: The look at Rio de Janeiro in City of God is compelling and Zhang Yimou's brilliant portrait of the upheavals in China, To Live.
30) What’s the movie coming up in 2008 you’re most looking forward to? Why?
The obvious answer is Quantum of Solace, but I'm also a bit wary of that one. A more unconventional pick would be Let the Right One In, a Swedish movie about a 12 year old boy and his Vampire neighbor. I'm mostly going on the mad ravings of Devin from CHUD on this one, but the movie is coming out in limited release near me on November 14, so why not check it out?
31) What deceased director would you want to resurrect in order that she/he might make one more film?
Stanley Kubrick (duh). (Update: Spencer notes in the comments another "Duh" selection: Alfred Hitchcock)
32) What director would you like to see, if not literally entombed, then at least go silent creatively?
This is a tough one because I don't generally wish ill will upon people who make art I don't like. I seem to have the ability to easily ignore them, so they don't bother me much. Sure, I guess I got a little miffed when Brett Ratner came on for X3, but that's not entirely his fault either. So I don't know. Maybe Uwe Boll?
33) Your first movie star crush
This is a very tough one. I can't seem to remember really crushing on any of the big names from when I was younger and it feels dumb to say someone I'm crushing on now:p
And so there you have it. That was really, really long, but I had fun.
Posted by Mark on October 08, 2008 at 08:33 PM .: link :.
Sunday, October 05, 2008
6WH: Week 3 - No Discernable Theme Week
As we reach the halfway point of the Six Weeks of Halloween horror movie marathon (See Week 1 | Week 2), it seems I've run out of thematically similar movies and have moved into more of a hodgepodge. But nevertheless, this week's lineup is pretty darn good. I seem to have gotten a bit ahead of schedule here, so a couple of these were actually watched a couple weeks ago:
In other news, Kernunrex continues his 6WH, which includes several mentions of Kaedrin favorite Phantasm (including a comic book I've never heard of but now want to read and the DVD commentary track). Kaedrin compatriot Roy posted his tentative schedule as well. NeedCoffee has started their 32 days of Halloween (it's kicked off by none other than Bugs Bunny!). Quint over at AiCN has been doing a movie a day, and for the month of October, he's doing a horror movie a day, starting with The Dunwich Horror (I didn't even know they made a movie out of that excellent H.P. Lovecraft story). Some other folks doing the marathon thing: The Metal Misfit, Random Acts of Geekery, Cal's Media of the Month and I'm sure lots of others. And of course, there's also Horror Movie a Day, who eschews the whole Halloween thing and just does horror all year round. Is anyone else doing a horror marathon?
Posted by Mark on October 05, 2008 at 07:56 PM .: link :.
Wednesday, October 01, 2008
John Dies at the End: The Movie
Not sure how I missed this, but the movie rights for David Wong's horror comedy novel John Dies at the End have been purchased by Kaedrin favorite Don Coscarelli (of Phantasm and Bubba Ho-tep fame). Wong used to write at a website called Pointless Waste of Time, but he has since been hired to edit Cracked.com, and all his articles are there now (including the particularly brilliant Ultimate War Simulation Game article). He originally published John Dies at the End online (unfortunately no longer available), but it got picked up by an indie horror publisher (unfortunately, that edition is now sold out) and is now set to be re-released sometime in 2009.
IMDB doesn't have it listed yet, but Coscarelli seems excited:
The story follows two goofballs who get caught up in a freaky fight against (deep breath...) mutated victims of a strange drug that allows them to drift across time and dimensions and the horrific invasion that may be taking place on Earth because of them. Coscarelli compares JOHN DIES to his previous popular adaptation: “My feelings for JOHN are similar to how they were for Joe R. Lansdale's BUBBA HO-TEP,” he says. “Prior to filming that movie, I’d reread the Lansdale novella and absolutely knew it would make a terrific movie. I feel the same way about JOHN. David Wong is a terrific new talent. He effortlessly blends genres and creates genuine dread. I’m thrilled to be working on a project that’s firmly planted in the genre, yet different and highly original.”AICN has some more info:
"I was greatly impressed by David Wong's crazed originality and impressive imagination," revealed Coscarelli. "He's like a mash-up of Douglass Adams and Stephen King, both smart and goofy, scary and funny -- it really spoke to me. JDatE is as addictive as the 'Soy Sauce' street drug that kicks the plot into gear."I have no idea how long this will take to make it to the screen, but I imagine it would be a while (this is what sucks about keeping track of movies in production - you always find out about the movies years before they're made). In any case, I'm really looking forward to this. Coscarelli is a great director and would be a good match for Wong's style. After all, this is the director who made a movie about an aging Elvis (with a black JFK sidekick) battling a mummy in a Texas old folks home. It's a perfect match.
Posted by Mark on October 01, 2008 at 09:26 PM .: link :.
Where am I?
This page contains entries posted to the Kaedrin Weblog in October 2008.
Kaedrin Beer Blog
12 Days of Christmas
2006 Movie Awards
2007 Movie Awards
2008 Movie Awards
2009 Movie Awards
2010 Movie Awards
2011 Fantastic Fest
2011 Movie Awards
6 Weeks of Halloween
Arts & Letters
Computers & Internet
Disgruntled, Freakish Reflections
Philadelphia Film Festival 2006
Philadelphia Film Festival 2008
Philadelphia Film Festival 2009
Philadelphia Film Festival 2010
Science & Technology
Security & Intelligence
The Dark Tower
Weird Movie of the Week
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