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Monday, June 29, 2009

The Girlfriend Experience (2009) Drama

The Girlfriend Experience (2009) - Sasha Grey plays Chelsea, a high end call girl who tries to balance a relationship with Chris (Chris Santos) and look after her business. Written by David Levien and Brian Koppelman and directed by Steven Soderbergh it is a movie about intimacy and pretend intimacy and whether we can tell the difference. Do we need there to be a difference or is the act of seeming intimate equivalent to actual closeness? Chelsea played with very little affect is struggling with this question and I think Soderbergh sort of leaves it for the audience to decide at the end. There are a mix of relationships to look at here, a trainer to his clients, a call girl to her clients, the call girl to her boyfriend and the call girl to a client she hopes will be more. Shot in beautiful digital the movies is edited uniquely and I am not sure the best order. My personal reaction to the movie was that I didn't really care about the characters. I recognized the questions being posed but really don't connect to the world created to explore them. So I was left a bit flat, interested in the subject but not the story.
Rating (6.0)

Coffy (1973) Drama

Coffy (1973) - This is a "blaxploitation" vengeance film starring Pam Grier as a nurse, Coffy who pays back the Mother F$%^ers who hurt her little sister by selling her drugs. Coffy tries to balance her life as a nurse with her night time activities posing as a prostitute in order to get close enough to the drug traffickers to kill them. The story is pretty straight forward and Coffy has little trouble infiltrating the crime organization. Being an exploitation movie the script written by director Jack Hill does not try very hard to have more than one level. There are some common blaxpoitation lines about how society won't defend minorities so they have to do it themselves. It has the standard black man drug lord, King George (Robert DoQui) but naturally the guy really in charge is white. This is common for this brand of movie. The higher up is a mobster named Arturo Vitroni played by Allen Arbus, a great character actor who was in some of my favorite M.A.S.H. episodes as Major Sidney Freedman, an army psychiatrist. Also playing a thug is legendary horror actor Sid Haig. The film is straightforward and there is enough street justice to make it enjoyable, but as a film it leaves a lot to be desired.
Rating (5.4)

Monday, June 22, 2009

Dead Snow (2009) Horror

Død snø (Dead Snow)(2009) - The opening shots of a girl, Sara (Ane Dahl Torp) running through the snow, with dark human shapes coming, and eventually capture her, for lunch. She owns the cabin that she is going to meet her friends at for a snowy spring break. She doesn't make it but her friends do, poor souls. Dead snow is about this group arriving and partying as they wait for their recently eaten hostess. While they are enjoying themselves a strange guy, The Wanderer(Bjorn Sunquist), comes by the cabin and gives us a premise for what will happen the rest of the movie. He tells the kids of the Nazi occupation during WWII. The soldiers were cruel and greedy. They stole the gold of the villagers and treated them poorly. When the war turned the village rose up and killed many of the soldiers. The Colonel escaped with their gold and some of his soldiers into the mountains and are rumored to still be there. Then the wanderer is off to find his own fate at the hands of the zombies. Why is it people always ask if there "Is somebody there?" when they are alone and hear a noise? In the cabin The Group finds the German gold in the floor and now we all know what is going to happen.
The next day Sara's boyfriend decides to head out on the snow mobile to look for her. He comes across the tent of the wanderer and realizes bad things are about. He continues looking for Sara instead of heading back to warn his friend, but does not get too far before falling through the snow into a snow cave.
From here on the movie gets better and better with the Zombies coming after the kids. The tension and action take step after step up, through the third act all the way until the final survivor realizes the way to obvious conclusion. Included is the death of some characters, splitting up when they shouldn't, fighting back and a snowmobile with mounted machine gun.
Now I really liked this movie but of course there are those hanging questions left that take off some points.
1. If the German Gold draws the Germans how did it get under the cabin and why wasn't Sara's family slaughtered by them years before?
2. Why was Sara killed? Did she prior to the start of the movie find the gold? If so why hike across the mountain to the cabin, she must have known the story of the Nazis?
3. Why did Sara boyfriend keep looking for her instead of getting back to warn friends and get help? The Wanderer was obviously murdered and help was needed instead of looking for a needle in a haystack.
Rating (7.7)

Monday, June 8, 2009

Run fatboy Run (2007) Drama / Comedy

Run Fatboy Run (2007) - How do you prove to the women you left at the alter that you have changed and should get a second chance? Train and run a marathon in three weeks. This is the basic premise as Dennis (Simon Pegg) tries to win back the heart of Libby (Thandie Newton) after leaving her pregnant on the alter seven years earlier. She has met a new guy Whit (Frank Azaria) who runs and through a bunch of comic scenes Dennis promises not only to run the marathon but to finish. First there is that whole smoking, drinking and not being in shape at all thing to deal with. Dennis's best friend Gordan (Dylan Moran) and neighbor Mr Goshdashtidar (Harish Patel) help him train and his landlady ups the stake by saying he can stay at his place even though he is behind on the rent if he does it. This movie is about upping the ante and Gordon does his part by making a bet on Dennis with his bookies for 5000 pounds at good odds. So the pressure is on for Dennis, save his place to live, save his friend from his bookies, and get the girl, but when whit becomes engaged to Libby he is going to give it up. Only the arrogance of Whit brings him back to the race. In the race Whit trips Dennis as the too struggle to beat each other in the first mile. they both go down. Whit is carted off to the hospital but Dennis gets up and continues the race on a badly sprained ankle. You can probably guess the rest as the local TV stations pick of the story of the lone injured runner trying to finish the race.
There was very little surprising about this movie and I have to say I was a bit bored by it at times. Dramedy is a tough sell and when it is this formula it is doubly tough.
Rating (6.0)

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Space Jam (1996) Comedy

Space Jam (1996) - Michael Jordan stars as himself, playing alongside of a host of Looney Tunes characters from Warner Brothers trying to defeat the Monstars in a game of basketball. If the Tunes lose they become slaves on an off world amusement park. If they win the basketball talent stolen from NBA players Shawn Bradley, Mugsy Bogues, Larry Johnson, Patrick Ewing, and Charles Barkley get returned and the aliens go home. This was one of joy's favorite movies as a kid and inspired her to be both Patrick Ewing and Mugsy Bogues one Halloween. Naturally I was the bottom half of Ewing. The movie is cute and fun although the acting by the athletes, including Larry Bird were so rigid. Still the movie is enjoyable.
Rating (7.2)

Monday, June 1, 2009

Tenebre (1982) Horror

Tenebre (1982) - Dario Argento wrote a great murder mystery in 1982 and it is worth the time to watch and enjoy. In this wonderful movie we have author Peter Neal (Anthony Franciosa) going to Rome to promote his latest book Tenebre. Quickly he is questioned by the police because a murder has taken place following the description of one in his book. We are left to puzzle at who the murderer is and I have to say through the movie I had several suspects. This movie is more complicated than average and my guesses were wrong. The camera angles are really well done and the killing scenes tense and brutal. There was this one strange sequence where we get an external view of a cubist house the second murders will take place in but we spend way too much time covering the outside of the house. weird? When the murderer is revealed more twists ensue. In the end I was just delighted that I could be so wrong and that the plot was so well put together. It is rare to have such a well filmed and plotted movie from this era. I purposely did not give anything away because anyone who reads this blog should go out and get this movie.
Rating (8.8)

Dead & Rotting (2002) Horror

Dead & Rotting (2002) - When three men accidentally cause the death of the son, pet of a local witch, she seeks vengeance. They hire a couple stoners to scare the old lady but the druggies instead boil the old women's cat, who transforms into her son at times. So she transforms from an old hag to a very hot Debbie Rochon, fucks their brains out of the 3 guys who hired the stoners, to acquire some vaginal gue to raise rotted corpse henchmen. Then captures each of the men and turns them into living but rotting captives in her house. One of the stoners and the last of the three men get some mojo to use against her from another local witch, a former stripper named Rose (Tammi Sutton). They do away with the witch and live... well not happily but they survive.
There is not a lot here and the filming is less than Hollywood standards. Lots of Blue light for night and candle light for interiors. The acting is not great but everyone is trying and the story is standard fair. No nudity unless you count the one flash of Debbie's breast in the beginning, and that is countered by seeing the hags breasts so that it is a wash.

Rating (3.3)

Fido (2006) - Horror/Comedy

Fido (2006) - This lighthearted take on life after the zombie wars is a real pleasure. Set in a idealized 1950's after a war not with the Germans but with the undead is a pleasure to watch. Space dust brings the dead back to life and society is now living in fenced in Ossie and Harriet communities where everyone pretends everything is fine. They also prepare their children at an early age to be ready in case a grandparent dies and needs to have their zombie brains blown out. Zombies have been domesticated with special collars the blocks the need to devour human flesh. This makes the zombies a servant ready to order.
K'Sun Ray is Timmy Robinson a boy who befriends his domestic zombie Fido (Billy Connolly). Introduced into the family by Helen, Timmy's Mother (Carrie-Anne Moss) Fido is a great playmate for the picked on little boy. When things in the community go horribly wrong Fido helps protect the family. This was a very funny and enjoyable movie with just the right tone to play off the 50's. Wonderfully directed by Andrew Currie.

Rating (7.9)

Halloween (2007) Horror

Halloween (2007) - This 2007 Rob Zombie remake of the original 1978 John Carpenter classic explores the childhood or Michael Myers, how he got to be the unstoppable killer he became. Incredibly brutal in the violence Zombie is unflinching in showing a killer without conscience. What we do not get is really how young Michael got to be the heartless character he is portrayed as. Other than a neglectful mother but one that does care there is not real abuse, or violence so why does he turn out so evil? It would have been better if the impacts of early childhood trauma, showed a causation to the murderer in adulthood. It is also impossible that the escaped Michael would have such an easy time tracking down hius now adopted sister, Laurie Strode (Scott Taylor-Compton) while she is baby sitting. Also wasn't she the one person he didn't want to harm as a child killer? There is more nudity in this one than the one I remember and the basic message the movie portrays is... "If you are a teenager and having sex, a bit maniac will come and butcher you." Still the movie does carry some punch for what it is, a slasher movie.
Rating (6.1)