No One Lives

tn_noonelivesWWEstudiosI’m not gonna try to convince you that NO ONE LIVES is a new horror classic or anything, but I enjoyed it. It’s from the prestigious WWE Studios and it has a level of absurdity and audacity that makes it a worthy successor to their first horror production, SEE NO EVIL. The British advertising even uses an Empire quote calling it a “guilty pleasure.” They’re not trying to fool anybody.

This one has an obvious SAW influence, but it’s not a so-called torture porno. It’s kind of a horror-formula moosh-up, combining the super-genius-psycho-with-ridiculous-death-contraptions with more of a traditional slasher movie formula (people in cabin being picked off one-by-one) as well as a little LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT (class tensions and abduction courtesy of a family/gang of greaser reprobates).

It’s got one of these prologues that begins mid-terror, a screaming blond named Emma (Adelaide Clemens) chased through some woods, captured by booby traps. Turns out later she’s from a rich family, but judging by these traps the kidnapper is not in it for the money. He just likes hanging girls upside down and stuff. (read the rest of this shit…)

The Grandmaster

tn_grandmasterNOTE: A couple weeks ago I watched Wong Kar Wai’s long-awaited Ip Man movie THE GRANDMASTER on an import DVD. I loved it so much I decided not to post a review until the U.S. theatrical release so more people would be able to see it and discuss it.

Then I saw an ad on TV calling the movie “Martin Scorsese presents THE GRANDMASTER,” talking about “THE MAN WHO TAUGHT BRUCE LEE,” and showing a bunch of fight scenes with an aggressive hip hop soundtrack. There’s an even more extreme one online now that uses the theme from THE MAN WITH THE IRON FISTS.

These ads gave me a laugh, because as great as the fights are in the movie the emphasis is on characters and metaphors and beautiful imagery, and it’s as much about Zhang Ziyi’s Gong Er (a fictional character, I believe) as a biography of Ip Man. I was excitbtisled to see it on the big screen, but dreading the possibility of an audience angry at the long breaks between punching.

What didn’t occur to me is that maybe the breaks aren’t that long anymore. It turns out the U.S. theatrical cut is a Weinsteinized version that’s 22 minutes shorter. David Ehrlich of film.com explains that the new cut was done with the participation of Wong, and details all the things he noticed that were cut out. I won’t spoil whether or not he likes the new version, you’ll just have to read his article Kung Foolish: How The American Cut of ‘The Grandmaster’ Ruins a Masterpiece to find out for yourself.

I still plan to see it, but based on Ehrlich’s list it sounds like half of the themes and scenes I talk about in this review aren’t even in the movie anymore. So fuck it, here is my review of the 130-minutes-including-credits Suitable-For-The-Entire-World-Except-For-America-Because-How-Could-They-Ever-Understand-It Cut. (read the rest of this shit…)

R.I.P. Elmore Leonard

elmoreleonard
UPDATED

Well, Elmore Leonard passed away yesterday. Not too far from 90 and he was still writing books. Not bad. Others have paid tribute to his unique talents, and around here if I tried to do that I think it would be preaching to the converted. Or preaching to the preachers. But I want to say a few words about a couple aspects of his work that mean the most to me personally.
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Summer Movie Flashback: I, Robot

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2004

2004

I, ROBOT is a movie that I had low expectations for when I saw it that summer, and it exceeded them, so it seemed pretty good. Re-watching it now it’s still pretty good but maybe a little less pretty good now that I expected it to be pretty good.

If you haven’t seen it, it’s a mystery story in a sci-fi world of 2035 where helpful robots are a common household appliance. Will Smith plays Detective Del Spooner (Spanish for “Detective of the Spooner”), an arrogant, trenchcoat-wearing Chicago cop who is horribly racist against robots and always trying to accuse them of crimes, even though they’re programmed to always protect humans and have never in history committed a crime. His boss (Chi McBride) is constantly embarrassed by this fucking idiot working for him but must have an old friendship with him and feels sorry for him enough not to fire his ass like would probly happen to anybody else fucking up as bad and often as this fuckin guy does and always acting like a total crazy person in front of numerous witnesses both at work and in public. (read the rest of this shit…)

Time for Expendables 3 news, I guess

tn_danbradleyI feel like I should post about upcoming EXPENDABLESes, since we’re all fans of several people in the cast, and since we all want to love these movies, though many of us don’t. And though the two so far haven’t in my opinion come anywhere near living up to their potential I have gotten some joy out of them. So I always want them to get it right on the next one. And this has plenty of elements that sound promising.

spoiler: this post is gonna start out optimistic and then end on a bummer

 

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Summer Movie Flashback: Van Helsing

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2004

2004

VAN HELSING is a pretty cool idea for a horror-adventure type movie. The slayer of Dracula continues his saga, a supernatural expert who goes on to encounter other classic monsters like Mr. Hyde, the Wolf Man (or some werewolves, anyway), Frankenstein’s monster, and probly Blacula if they had made a part two. To make it extra fun he’s not just a doctor like in the book, now he’s a badass in a Solomon Kane hat, with an eccentric friar as his Q/Lucius Fox, building him preposterous weapons that fire stakes like bullets or have spinning saw blades or whatever. And this Van Helsing likes to swing around on ropes. And he gets bit by a werewolf so before he turns he has super hopping powers, like all wolves do. Wolves are known for their hopping.

Okay, admittedly some parts of the idea are not that cool. Also it turns out his name is Gabriel Van Helsing, not Abraham Van Helsing, and he actually has nothing to do with the character from the book. He did however apparently kill Dracula, but that was before Dracula was a vampire (I think), and Van Helsing (no relation) doesn’t remember it. Also he might be the angel Gabriel.

WRITER/DIRECTOR STEPHEN SOMMERS: Hey guys, I’ve had alot of fun doing these AMAZING The Mummy movies, but you know what I’ve always dreamed of is to make a movie about the character Van Helsing from Dracula, only the thing is it’s not about that character at all though, it’s about a different guy than that! Wouldn’t that be AWESOME?

UNIVERSAL PICTURES: My friend, you have yourself a god damn GREEN LIGHT!

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interview

tn_vernI got interviewed on a websight called The Vulgar Cinema, if anybody’s into that sort of thing. I talk about movies and what not.

2004 Summer Flashback pieces and other reviews are in the works. Have a good weekend everybody.

Summer Movie Flashback: Hulk

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2003

2003

I always loved Ang Lee’s HULK. It was a blockbuster nobody else would’ve made, the Hulk movie that takes time for the Hulk to sit in the desert staring at the moss on the rocks. The weird one. The one that’s split between crazy action and subdued character drama. The one with Nick Nolte in mugshot mode as the villain, commanding a pack of mutant dogs, later turning into an electrical storm.

Well, I still love all that, but I’m disappointed to find that I don’t enjoy the movie quite as much 10 years later. At least not the pre-Hulk chunk of the thing. And I think it comes down to the very idea of it.

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Summer Movie Flashback: Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life

tn_cradleoflifesmf2003As you know I am a scholar of the Big Summer Popcorn Movie, or whatever you want to call it. And I not only like to review the new ones but I like to look back at the old ones and figure out what’s what. We’re getting to the end of the summer movie season (which I consider to be May through August) but now that I’ve finished The Super-Kumite I think it’s time to start a new summer movie project. Fuck you, September. You don’t scare me.

This is what I’m gonna do. For each summer from 2003 until last year I’m gonna pick two movies to review: one that I never saw before, one that I’m revisiting. And as you can see I’m starting with THE CRADLE OF LIFE as the one I never saw before.

release date: July 25, 2003

It turns out I dig these LARA CROFT TOMB RAIDER movies. Maybe if I’d seen them at the time, on the big screen, as if they were gonna compete with the A-list summer blockbuster type movies, I would’ve been more critical of them. But ignoring them for ten years and then deciding to watch them out of curiosity really pays off I think. Sometimes you gotta let these things age in the cellar for a while. (read the rest of this shit…)

The Place Beyond the Pines

tn_placebeyondFrom the trailers, THE PLACE BEYOND THE PINES, from director Derek Cianfrance (BLUE VALENTINE), seemed weirdly similar to DRIVE.  Instead of a movie stunt driver who’s also a getaway driver, Ryan Gosling plays a carnival motorcycle stunt driver who becomes a bank robber. Instead of having a weird relationship with a married woman and her son he has a weird relationship with an ex-fling (Eva Mendes) who he’s just found out has his son (but lives with a boyfriend who doesn’t want him coming around). I’d heard that it wasn’t really what it looks like, that it “turns into something different,” that it’s “epic.” All these things are true, and I’m glad I didn’t know the specifics of it. But I gotta talk about those specifics if I’m gonna review it, so be warned. (read the rest of this shit…)