Thursday, March 27, 2008

Movie Review - Grindhouse

Okay, Grindhouse is the most outrageous, most totally awesome movie ever made. The awesome per minute ratio is 200%. The only way it could be cooler is if Rose McGowan actually gave you a lap dance while you watched the movie. Needless to say, it's sickly brilliant and twistedly clever.

Movie Review: Grindhouse

What makes this double feature so genius is that it is gratuitous for the sake of topping itself, but it's all done with a knowing manipulation of the cinematic medium. These guys deliver massive entertainment with an artful approach.

Right away, Rodriguez borders on blasphemy by having a priest join Danny Trejo in an ass kicking trailer. He even lights their faces with crosses. As soon as Planet Terror starts, it relishes in gore so gross it's funny like Evil Dead 2.

Since it was previewed so early, I was wondering how anything else in the film could top the gun leg. By the time the film actually gets to that, you've already seen so much more crazy stuff. They still use the gun for a big payoff, but I was more in awe of Marley Shelton's hands.

There is enough crazy, gory action to fill several films, but Rodriguez packs his with even more depth. Tangential characters become scene stealing plot points, backstories are elaborately soap operatic and the inter-relationships between the characters pay off.

The cast acts different levels of ham. There's wide-eyed Marley Shelton, badass Freddy Rodriguez, ignorantly authoritative Michael Beihn, tragically sexy Rose McGowan and pure A-hole Josh Brolin. Each style serves its purpose in this retro reference perfectly.

After Planet Terror when the intermission card comes on, please, don't be an idiot and get up to leave. No modern movie really has an intermission. Come on, people. I missed half of a fake trailer because some guy couldn't decide whether to walk out or sit back down.

Death Proof slows things way down from the barrage of Planet Terror. It's all Quentin Tarantino dialogue. It may be slow, but it's all mood. It gets going good with one of the screen's most interesting stalkers and most visceral mass murder.

It's Tarantino's idea of girl talk, vulgar sex stories and such, but I wouldn't presume that women don't talk that way. Of course everyone speaks more extremely in Tarantino's world. There's some pop culture reference too, and a well thought out self defense talk. It may seem like old hat, but it turns out he's just making you think it's the same old thing. Really, he's got a big payoff in store, way bigger than the stupid exploding palm on Bill.

Death Proof may only have one extended action scene (after the first kill shot), but it is so outrageous it may even erase the memories of Planet Terror. Every time you think you know where it's going, where one of those other movies would go, it keeps pushing. There are points where you may say they could just stop the car, but don't even worry about that. It's not going to end how you think.

The fake film scratches work for artistic effect. They minimize in parts of the film so you're not looking at warped footage constantly. Then they get more and more F'ed up in key places, with intentionally odd cuts. You just know they're going to pull a film rip at some point, but Rodriguez actually works it into the story. You can feel him giggling and pulling the ultimate prank on his audience, one that we'll love him even more for. Interestingly though, Tarantino's portion is far less grunged up. Hmmm.

This is easily Robert Rodriguez's masterwork. All of his creativity has culminated to epic proportions. Tarantino has never looked this joyfully over the top. F*** it, this is the best movie ever made. I may regret saying that next time I watch Toy Story 2, but actually, since it's two movies, even if each one is only four out of five stars, that still adds up to eight which is more than any single movie can have!

Friday, March 21, 2008

28 weeks later review

Danny Boyle's surprise 2003 hit, 28 DAYS LATER, gets the sequel treatment here. Few elements from the first film remain--actor Cilian Murphy doesn't return, and Boyle and screenwriter/novelist Alex Garland take producer credits this time out. In their places step director/co-writer Juan Carlos Fresnadillo (INTACTO) and actor Robert Carlyle (TRAINSPOTTING), who bring the original story to its next logical step. The zombies (again referred to as "the infected") from the first film have died out and England is ready for repopulation. The American military are slowly bringing British citizens back to London, where a heavily guarded community is picking up the pieces and trying to return to normal life. Carlyle plays Don, a man who has lost his wife but is reunited with his children, Andy (Mackintosh Muggleton) and Tammy (Imogen Poots), near the start of Fresnadillo's film. The two kids soon escape from the heavily guarded community, go off searching for their childhood home, and discover that mom might not be quite as dead as they originally thought. Chaos follows, with the sadistic military and the forlorn survivors battling both each other and "the infected." Fresnadillo apes much of Boyle's style from the original film, shooting in rapidly edited sequences that cause plenty of blink-and-you'll-miss-it moments. A pounding soundtrack helps enliven the scenes with "the infected," and an abundance of swooping aerial shots highlight the desolate London landscape. A few minor sub-plots emerge, Fresnadillo offers sly commentary on the military's trigger-happy tendencies, and the film ends up somewhere in between zombie fare such as George A. Romero's LAND OF THE DEAD and dystopian visions of the future such as Alfonso Cuaron's CHILDREN OF MEN.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Death proof review

Tarantino's film is an eloquent lament for a sleazy age when drive-in movies were the norm and flea pits were tacky and smoky.

I can’t tell you how joyous it is to see such shameless trash in competition for the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival. Critics here are infinitely more familiar with a wrist-slittingly sincere masterpiece from Uzbekistan, so Quentin Tarantino’s black B-movie farce arrives like a breath of fresh air.

Kurt Russell plays a scar-faced psycho (styled on Burt Reynolds) called Stunt Man Mike. He stalks impossibly beautiful chicks with little brains and less morals. Then he frightens the life out of them by chasing them up and down empty highways in a souped-up monster car with a death’s head painted on the bonnet.

Tarantino's film is an eloquent lament for a sleazy age when drive-in movies were the norm and flea pits were tacky and smoky. Death Proof – so-called because Mike’s car seat is a reinforced cage – is painstakingly riddled with scratches, smudges, sudden jumps and vertical yellow lines. The sound quality – with the fabulous exception of the period juke box hits -- is terrible, and the continuity hysterical. The utter shoddiness of the film makes you exquisitely aware of how carefully it is assembled. But if you can't stomach the jokes, or reference the references, the film might leave you utterly cold.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Nancy drew review

Legendary teenage sleuth Nancy Drew enters the 21st century in this feature film from director Andrew Fleming (NIXON, THE CRAFT). In Nancy's (Emma Roberts) latest mystery, she and her father (Tate Donovan) make a temporary move from rural River Heights to Los Angeles. Determined to make the most of her stay, Nancy has chosen them a rental home with a notorious past: the mysterious death of its owner, starlet Dehlia Draycott, in the early 1980s. The closer Nancy edges towards the truth, the more trouble she encounters from someone who clearly doesn't want the mystery solved. To make matters worse, old-fashioned Nancy doesn't quite fit in with the cool kids--or anyone else--at Hollywood High, except for younger would-be Romeo Corky (Josh Flitter). Screenwriters Fleming and Tiffany Paulsen do not try to make over this beloved character into a modern teen. Instead, they make earnest Nancy simply a girl who likes old-fashioned things: outfits that include penny loafers and coordinated knee socks, headbands, and homemade knee-length dresses; her classic roadster convertible; impeccable manners; and, her housekeeper's homemade baked goods. Roberts--the daughter of Eric Roberts and niece of Julia Roberts--is affable as Nancy. Even Bruce Willis (playing himself in a cameo) can't resist her charms. Rachel Leigh Cook, Barry Bostwick, and Marshall Bell also star as characters whose lives will change significantly if Nancy can solve the mystery, and Max Thieriot plays her smitten hometown boyfriend, Ned Nickerson. This is a fun blast from the past for women who grew up reading Carolyn Keene's classic novels, as well as for young girls who are enjoying THE SECRET OF THE OLD CLOCK or THE HIDDEN STAIRCASE for the first time.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Free nancy drew, death proof, 28 weeks later, grindhouse Screensavers

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