Survive Style Sonata + Bright Futures: Cine Wave Baraba w/ subtítulos en ingles

REVIEW: Piranha (2010)
September 2, 2010, 1:24 am
Filed under: Reviews

Released: 2010, USA

Director: Alexandre Aja

Steven R. McQueen
Elisabeth Shue
Jessica Szohr
Jerry O’Connell
Adam Scott
Kelly Brook
Christopher Llyod
Richard Dreyfuss

Cinematography: John R. Leonetti

Running Time: 88min

The original Piranha was a parody riding on the wake of the success of Jaws. While this remake/sequel/reboot does not have an attack on the beach film to riff on it still is entertaining, cringe inducing, and at times suspenseful.

The two things this film has going for it are the cameos and the kills.  Apart from the three or more porn stars the film has Richard Dreyfuss reprising his role from Jaws and a Christopher LLyod playing a Doc-esque character if Doc was an expert on all things marine. Jerry O’Connell is a highlight in many of his scenes as a sleazy “Wild Wild Girls” spring break director. And Eli Roth is hilarious as a wet T-shirt contest host which made me like him more as an actor than a director. while some of the very graphic deaths are clearly going for humor there are quite a few that made me feel a tad uneasy. Aja does the best he can mixing up the piranha deaths and how to film them as they really are just a cluster of CGI fish swarming a body and creating a swarm of crimson.

As for the plot of the film; it’s spring break, piranha appear, obituary sections get filled up.

Since he showed promise with High Tension in 2003 Aja has only gone on to direct remakes. While this may disappoint Variety, who named him one of ten directors to watch for, Piranha is evidence that Aja has grown as a filmmaker of the grotesque and has moved on from the insultingly cliche conclusion to High Tension. Here’s to hoping with this small success (Piranha got enough ticket sales to warrant a sequel) Aja can helm an original script if he can find one in Hollywood’s horror department.


REVIEW: My Name is Bruce
September 1, 2010, 6:56 am
Filed under: Reviews

Released: 2007, USA

Director: Bruce Campbell

Bruce Campbell
Grace Thorsen
Taylor Sharpe
Ted Raimi

Cinematography: Kurt Rauf

Running Time: 86min

To sum up this review if you are not a fan of Bruce Campbell then do not bother with this movie. If you have never heard of Bruce Campbell this is not the one to introduce yourself to him with. So go and watch the Evil Dead trilogy, Bubba Ho-tep, The Man with the Screaming Brain, Maniac Cop, Burn Notice, and if you want then spot him in all the recent Spider-Man films. After your love for Bruce has been created (just look at that chin) then will you get the most enjoyment out of his second outing as a director, and a very self deprecating outing this is.

Made with the assistance of Burn Notice pay checks and Evil Dead royalty checks the man with a chin that kills gets behind and in front of the camera for a second time.

In the film a couple of teenagers, two boys and matching girls, visit a graveyard to vandalize and score but instead end up awakening Chinese warrior Guan-Di’s spirit. Enter Bruce Campbell, an alcoholic B-actor who chooses cowardice over the heroic. He pours his pet dog some liquor then later drinks from the doggy bowl. He even gets tricked into drinking urine and ends up enjoying the “lemon water”. This is Bruce (hopefully) poking fun at his “King of the B-movie” status while at the same time a thank you to his fans.

The surviving teenager has an extra quality about him. Being an serious Bruce fan he gets the town to kidnap Bruce in order to utilize his demon vanquishing skills from the Evil Dead series. Innocent lives are ended by the fact that Bruce doesn’t know a thing about wielding the iconic chainsaw that his character Ash is so bad ass because of.

The story does fall into similar cliches as some of his other genre efforts but in this case it is supposed to be parody. The final minutes throw a welcomed curve ball to the plot. I was laughing out loud at quite a few parts while smiling throughout. This is definitely better than The Man with the Screaming Brain, which might not necessarily be saying much but for the fan this is a very fun and competently made movie. Even though we won’t see Elvis fight vampires we will be seeing Bruce face Frankenstein as the sequel is set to shoot soon. Hopefully more civilians are killed by Bruce’s lack of weapon knowledge.

Behind the scenes photo of Mr. Campbell.

Chinatown DVD Haul
September 1, 2010, 6:11 am
Filed under: DVD

So I was in New York for two days to see the William Castle retrospective (writing up a review on that) and to enjoy some improvised avant garde music from Ikue Mori and guests. The main reason of the trip though was to visit Chinatown and a Japanese DVD rental/store called Midnight Sun.
This is the stuff I wasted money on:

At Midnight Sun they had a section in the corner dedicated to films directed by Kitano Takeshi. I picked up Achilles and the Tortoise; his last film in his self-deprecation trilogy.

I also found Matsumoto Hitoshi’s Symbol which did not have English subtitles. I had already seen it twice without so it was fine.

At two different stores I found some Studio Ghibli movies. Only Yesterday and Whisper of the Heart the former of the two Disney owns the US distribution rights to but refuses to release it.

Caught up on my Hong Kong movies with two Category III films and a more “serious film”.
Erotic Ghost Story, Peking Opera Blues, and Robotrix.

One of these films is not like the others.

Two films from Kore-eda Hirokazu. Still looking for a copy of After Life that’s under fifty bucks.

Distance and Still Walking

And finally the DVD that gave me the biggest look from the cashier; even more so than buying a movie called Erotic Ghost Story.
Girls’ Generation!

The mousepad I had bought earlier online.

Jean-Luc Godard, Master of Film and Escape
August 28, 2010, 12:26 am
Filed under: News

It seems as though the Academy is going to give an honorary Oscar to director Jean-Luc Godard, now if only they could get his phone number. After filling up Godard’s answering machine and even resorting to snail mail the Academy still wont give up.

Source: Guardian

This is very exciting stuff for fans of the French New Wave but maybe the Academy has forgotten something:

“Up to now–since shortly after the Bolshevik Revolution–most movie makers have been assuming that they know how to make movies. Just like a bad writer doesn’t ask himself if he’s really capable of writing a novel–he thinks he knows. If movie makers were building airplanes, there would be an accident every time one took off. But in the movies, these accidents are called Oscars.”
-Jean-Luc Godard

On a side note it was very tempting to title this “Got Godard?”

REVIEW: Antichrist
August 27, 2010, 10:13 am
Filed under: Reviews

Released: 2009, Denmark

Director: Lars von Trier

Willem Dafoe
Charlotte Gainsbourg

Running Time: 109min

Antichrist opens with a sequence beautiful yet haunting. In very slow motion black and white with an operatic musical piece swelling over the imagery Willem Dafoe and Charlotte Gainsbourg, credited as He and She, make love while neglecting their infant boy who crawls out the window to fall to his death as his parents climax. This sequence sets up the rest of the film, told in chapters like another of the director’s: Dogville, in that it seems anything goes and will eventually go.

After their son’s death He quickly recovers from the grief while She is having a very difficult time. Being a therapist He takes her to a family cabin in the woods for her to overcome her fears and quicken or at least tone down her stages of grief. On the surface you can say what follows is a case of cabin fever gone a little too far (the log, the grind-stone, and the scissors) but maybe there is something more going on or trying to be said. Or at least you would hope so with the great bursts of cinematography.

As far as the accusations that the film is deeply misogynistic go I never once felt the film took sides with He over She. To me Trier treats the two as equals who both are capable of acting out on nature and as the film implies nature is Satan.

Thinking more about the accusations led me to memories of the only other two Trier films I have seen the excruciatingly dark Dogville and the realist musical Dancer in the Dark. I have not read much about Trier the person so I have no reference if he has been accused of misogyny before but in Dogville especially the focus were the morals and not necessarily [SPOILER AHEAD:] seeing how many times Nicole Kidman’s Grace can be raped. Although in the end she does get her vengeance while trying to come to terms about her beliefs and style of empathy [END SPOILERS]. From these two films I can’t see a history of women hating but rather female lead characters put into devastating situations and prevailing in different ways.

Without spoiling too much the character of He may be more damaged than Gainsbourg’s She. Also given the fact that Antichrist was made when Trier was just starting to come out of a depression he would most likely understand She more than He as She is descending into a depression in the film.

Trying to figure out what the film is saying about human nature is tough due to the amount of symbolism or even if it is trying to say anything about human nature. The inclusion of gynocide references add to the mystery of the true intent of the film. It may be self indulgent. It might be a huge tribute to Andrei Tarkovsky, who gets a dedication after the film’s last frame, but Antichrist is worth seeing for the shock, the beauty of the images (even the grotesque bursts of violence are worth seeing in an opposite of beauty way), and the mystery of what exactly it was getting at. It is hard to make sense of it all but that is fitting to the film whose motto is “Chaos reigns.”

PS: You’ll cringe every time you need to use scissors even to cut off the tops of Otter Pops.

SIDE NOTE: Regarding the Tarkovsky stuff. Even if you’ve only seen Solaris (like me) you can tell in some shots the influence is there. It makes me want to watch that film again. Even the version with George Clooney!

Also Criterion is releasing this on DVD/Blu in November. Wonder what the booklet will focus on.

And hopefully it will include this wonderful article dealing with certain aspects to the film.

That’s a lot of addendums.

For after seeing the film:

So by letting She commit all those acts on her son and her husband, to me, that shows an equal treatment towards women in how they can be capable of human nature as well as men. Plus He can be seen as flawed from the start specifically his thoughts towards his wife’s doctor. Yet at the same time his concern could have been true love for her but it did come off as though he thought he knew better and he was excited not to help his wife but to analyze her. He is accused of being distant too.
This film might require a second viewing.

Master Filmmaker Kon Satoshi 1963 – 2010
August 25, 2010, 6:00 pm
Filed under: News, Tribute

It has been reported that anime filmmaker Kon Satoshi has passed away due to cancer at the age of 47. I won’t start retyping what can already be found about his history on other sites but instead write about memories I have of his films.

I saw Paprika when it first came out at a small two theater art house called The Mayan. I was just getting started to really get into foreign film and I took my then best friend Dan with me. Even though it was opening week for Paprika the theater it was placed in was the smaller of the two with cramped seating. This was the first anime film I had seen in a theater. Near the end when a shadow figure and a naked little girl, both the size of Godzilla, fight I looked over at my friend Dan and heard him muttering over and over, “What the fuck?”. He was having a small freakout to the oddities on screen but I fell in love with the animation and later on subsequent viewings the sentimental but honest look at trying to make your own independent film.

After that over the course of four years I was able to see his other three films; Perfect Blue, Millennium Actress, and Tokyo Godfathers.

Each of these were the types of movies that once their credits started rolling I felt I had to start loaning them out to anyone willing. All his works have the recurring element of dreams, in some cases the aspiration variety rather than the surreal.

While Perfect Blue touches upon darker elements of humans, Millennium Actress (which is unfortunately out of print) was the tear inducing in one man’s dedication to his favorite actress. I watched this in the start of a marathon to go through some animation DVDs I had yet to see. I decided to bring it over to my grandparents since we all had just finished Miyazaki’s Howl’s Moving Castle recently. Although Millennium Actress is rooted in reality more so than Howl’s the presentation with the mixing of the fact and fiction with past and present made it more fantastic than the Ghibli film; as well as more affecting in a dirt-in-the-eyes way. Animation was the only option to successfully mix the different ages of the titular actress without having to try their best to cast a series of actresses who looked similar. The effect in the film was that we are watching her grow up. Unfortunately there is a parallel in that the actress’ work was stopped abruptly for the documentary filmmaker/fan character just as for Kon’s and his fans.

Kon’s best testament to human worth was Tokyo Godfathers about an abandoned baby found by three homeless: a drunk, a transvestite, and a teenage runaway. The three then decide, some reluctantly, to find the baby’s parents to find out why they left the kid there. What follows is an adventure and a domino effect of chance where each characters’ pasts are brilliantly revealed. Most likely his most feel good film and possibly the best from his oeuvre.

The medium of animation was a perfect fit at creating a the surreal visual style needed to throw the viewer off. A great example is the opening credits to Paprika which I watched recently with another friend. I had always remembered this sequence as being awe inducing and after another viewing it was not just me making it better in my memory of the scene.

Although his follow up to Paprika, The Dream Machine, was scheduled to come out next year I do hope that they release what they have. This will be the final push to find the three volumes of his mini-series Paranoia Agent that I am missing which, along with Millennium Actress, is out of print.  It was exciting to go backwards into his library of creations which may be small but had heart and the imagination that some bodies of work will never have with twice the amount of time Kon was given.

Beautiful DVD: Air Doll (Japanese Limited Edition)
August 24, 2010, 8:04 am
Filed under: DVD

The set with a nice wrap around the bottom.

This disc case, photo book and liner notes out of the set.

The cute but a little plastic looking Bae Du-na.

Illustrations from the liner notes.

An alternate take on one of the best shots from the film and above you can kind of see the heart photo.

The two discs (with english subtitiles on the film at least).

City map from the liner notes.

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