Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Stripped To Kill

Stripped to Kill (1987)

Runtime: 88 minutes

Directed by: Katt Shea

Starring: Kay Lenz, Greg Evigan, Norman Fell, Pia Kamakahi

From: Concorde-New Horizons

This was not what I was planning on watching last night but someone I know on Facebook (I know him via a movie messageboard) brought up this film I hadn't heard of before, one that would be disappearing off of Instant soon so I figured I should watch it, especially after his hilarious description of that piece of cheese. The IMDb plot description, then the Letterboxd review, then me saying that I'll be back tomorrow... wait, I might as well say that now, I'll be back tomorrow night.

“When Detective Cody Sheehan discovers the body of a stripper from the Rock Bottom dance club, she wants the case. Her partner, Detective Heineman, is equally anxious to make the jump to the prestigious homicide division, but the only way Cody can get the assignment is to go undercover - uncovered - at the club.”

Here's a movie I found out about last night from someone I know online who isn't on (Letterboxd) but is a huge film buff and sometimes watches the most interesting low-budget cheese, and his strong praise for this made me want to see it on Instant before it goes away late Thursday night, although I am sure it's not hard to find online and I did hear it's coming out soon on Blu via Scorpion Releasing.

This is a “sexy thriller” from Roger Corman about a killer who goes after and starts killing the strippers at a low-rent place known as Rock Bottom (appropriate name) so Kay Lenz-a police officer-goes undercover. Yes you do see Kay nude. Her partner is Greg Evigan, who I heard described as a mix between Dolph's version of The Punisher and George Michael circa Faith, and it's an apt comparison. A lot of time is spent with the “entertainers” talking about how crappy their job is and the hard-knock lives they lead. The strip club is owned by a familiar face, that being Norman Fell. If you don't recognize the name... he was Mr. Roper on Three's Company!

The rating is mainly due to entertainment value rather than film quality. Not a lot of time is spent with the main plot and instead you get plenty of stripping and dancing. Many of the routines are more elaborate and outlandish than you'd expect. A regular at the club is known as MR. POCKET, due to a vulgar reason. Evigan's character acts like an A-hole most of the time. Mr. Roper says some things you never thought you'd hear him say.

Yet, I was amused by this goofy thing, which seems best for those out there like Mr. Pocket. I laughed at the horrendous 80's music and hair, that's for sure. Also, what a gleefully preposterous climax it has. I can only imagine how many obscure titles such as this there are on Instant, unknown to even most film fans.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Actually...

I decided to relax last night/today so no movie reviews tonight. But, I will return tomorrow night, promise. Sure, I could BS now about such things as Ryan Reynolds trying to be Deadpool or Tarantino thinking of doing sci-fi; I'll spare you all that.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Big Bad Wolves/Myn Bala: Warriors Of The Steppe

Here's something different for tonight: me reviewing two different films that I've watched as of late, both foreign and both on Instant. After some words and the plot description, the rest is from Letterboxd.

Big Bad Wolves (2013)

Runtime: 110 minutes

Directed by: Aharon Keshales, Navot Papushado

Starring: Tzahi Grad, Lior Ashkenzai, Rotem Keinan, Doval'e Glickman

From: United Channel Movies

Here's a foreign film that has gotten a lot of buzz over the past year or so; none other than Tarantino said that it was his favorite movie of 2013. There is a certain element or two that made it clear to me QT would love this. And, this happens to be a film from Israel, a recent hotbed of activity in terms of world news but that's the last time I will talk about that controversial topic. The directors had previously done a film called Rabies and that also got some hype but not like this.

The plot from the IMDb: “A series of brutal murders puts the lives of three men on a collision course: The father of the latest victim now out for revenge, a vigilante police detective operating outside the boundaries of law, and the main suspect in the killings - a religious studies teacher arrested and released due to a police blunder.” To clarify, the crimes being committed were the murder of little girls and it's gruesome stuff.

Well, I know this isn't the most popular opinion but the movie turned me off. It's about how three people come together after a young girl is violated and killed in a rather gross way and it's the latest in a series of similar crimes. The latest girl's father, a loose cannon cop who sort of looks like Frank Stallone (the fact that he wears blue jeans and a black leather jacket helps me with thinking he's Frank Stallone) and the meek guy accused of the horrific crimes all come together.

Really, this is just a dour unpleasant joyless movie. There are attempts at jet-black humor and I have no issue with dark comedy as a general principle but in a story like this? I thought it ended up being kind of gross, you know.

While there were memorable moments and a few times I was amused, I thought it got pretty ridiculous and with the ending they went with... it was less than satisfying and made me wonder why I put myself through what I thought was basically a torture porn movie (I know some hate that term but it's the easiest one to use here), just done prettier and fancier than most, and you don't even really know the characters all that well by the end either.

If you happen to love this movie that is OK, but to me watching it ended up not being that fun or enjoyable of an experience.

Myn Bala: Warriors of the Steppe (Zhauzhurek Myng Bala) (2012)

Runtime: 110 minutes

Directed by: Akan Satayev

Starring: Asylkhan Tolypov, Tlektes Meiramov, Toleubek Aralbai, Eduard Ondar

From: Kazakhfilm Studios

Here's a movie that I have had in my Instant queue for awhile. I stumbled upon it and I was interested because it was from the country of Kazakhstan and it's a historical tale about events in the country's past; let's be honest here, when most people think of the country they think of Borat, which to me is unfortunate as it's an atrocious character...

The plot description from the IMDb: "A universal story about the freedom of the human spirit and the struggle against slavery and despotism, about love, loss and betrayal. It is seen through the eyes of simple Kazakh kids and teenagers." I know, it's generic but let me explain.

Anyhow, this is a tale set in the 18th century where the native Kazakh people were invaded by the Dzungarian people and how the Kazakh people tried to fight back to get back their homeland and the focus is on several teenagers. Really, it's standard all around.

It's not a film I hated by any means. The costumes were cool, the sets were nice to look at and so was the natural scenery of the country. It's just that like I said, it's a standard tale and yes, it's filled with cliches and it's the cliches you won't be surprised at in the least bit. There are battles, in-fighting, drama, and all the rest. I am sure that for the people of the country it's all inspiring and moving; for me, it's average overall and a 2 ½ star rating is perfect for it.

At least I gave it a chance; from looking at this site and IMDb, not too many people who frequent those sites have checked it out despite it being on Instant for awhile.

I'll return tomorrow night.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Almost Human

Almost Human (2013)

Runtime: 79 minutes

Directed by: Joe Begos

Starring: Graham Skipper, Josh Ethier, Vanessa Leigh, Susan T. Travers

From: Channel 83

Here's a movie I watched on Netflix Instant, which I recently signed up for again for at least the next month. I heard a lot about this movie in the past year or so; a lot of it was the bad kind of publicity, in that the movie sucked, but some do think of it highly so I was interested in checking it out. Yeah, people did compare it to the show of the same title that was on Fox last season before it got canceled and likely helped the publicity of this film.

The plot description from the IMDb: “Mark Fisher disappeared from his home in a brilliant flash of blue light almost two years ago. His friend Seth Hampton was the last to see him alive. Now a string of grisly, violent murders leads Seth to believe that Mark is back, and something evil is inside of him.”

The rest of my review is from what I said about it on Letterboxd.

I've heard about this movie for months and since I recently signed up for Netflix Instant again, I figured it was time to check it out. I imagine many have heard its plot, so I'll just briefly explain that it's about a bearded dude (who happens to look like Joss Whedon) who gets abducted by aliens and returns 2 years later but well... think of what the title of the movie is, and it's that. It's set in the late 80's, although a few times you spot something modern and it did ruin the illusion.

I heard some real mixed reviews about the movie. I know some who really hated it. To me, it's a real 2 star movie. I understand it was a real low-budget affair but there were definitely things that hampered the film. The general idea of the plot was pretty creepy and there were several gory moments. They tried REALLY hard to ape the style of Carpenter, from the opening credits font to the music, the way it was shot to several style elements that were present. It was slavishly done, almost to a fault.

Unfortunately, the story and the characters... that's where it's let down. The idea is cool, but the story and characters, not so much. The acting isn't always so good either. The film is only 70 minutes long before some of the slowest moving end credits you'll ever see, literally done to make it long enough for film festivals. I wish they would have made the movie longer in a more traditional way, in order to add more to the plot and most importantly, provided details that made you care about the characters, as I didn't really care for the characters aside from Seth, who was the lead... and a real annoying A-hole. That was a big problem, as you were supposed to like the dude.

I just didn't care most of the time while watching the movie and that was an issue. Even when things got cool in the last 10 to 15 minutes, overall I can't rate it higher than 2 stars.

I'll return tomorrow night, likely with more than one review.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Can Dialetics Break Bricks?

Can Dialetics Break Bricks? (La Dialectique Peut-Elle Casser Des Briques?) (1973)

Runtime: 83 minutes

Directed by: Kuang-Chi Tu, Rene Vienet

Starring: Chan Hung Liu, Ingrid Wu, Jason Pai Piao, Li Chai Chung

From: Telemondial

I'll explain later how I came across this real bizarre film, but basically it was due to me looking at random websites and ending up on a list on Letterboxd list and noticing a particular posted so I clicked on it and I was both shocked and amazed by the plot description, so I looked to see if it was online and it was. I'll explain the plot in the Letterboxd portion of the review, which is the rest of this review, as a matter of fact.

I can thank looking at random websites and coming to a list on Letterboxd for discovering this quite strange film. I found the list “Obscure” by a person calling themselves Sally Jane Black. They've managed to see all sorts of weird stuff even I hadn't heard of before, including this film. I looked at the plot description and saw it was available for viewing online so I checked it out and what an odd idea this was.

I am sure everyone knows of the 60's Woody Allen film What's Up, Tiger Lily?, where he took a random Japanese film and dubbed it so it turned into something comedic. That method of modifying someone else's work has been called detournement. This is a similar idea, except that a group that existed in France at the time known as Situationists (basically, anti-authority Marxists inspired by such things as surrealism and Dadaism) brought their ideas using the classical method of dialetic arguing and dubbed a random Hong Kong martial arts movie called Crush and now the heroes are the proletariats and the enemies are bureaucrats and such topics as anarchism, Maoism and the French riots of 1968 are discussed. I swear this is all true.

The thing is, as the original film was set in Korea and was about the Japanese occupying the country in the early 20th century, that's how they were able to fit such a wacky idea over a random Hong Kong martial arts movie most likely no one remembers today, and somehow make it work with them preaching their ideals while throwing in fourth wall breaking, vulgarity and jokes along the way. You only really need to know some basics of capitalism, anarchism, and Marxism to follow what's going on; while some of it did fly over my head, I got the basic idea and that was the important thing.

I am not saying I support the ideas presented in this film; after all it's pretty radical and says such things as “kill all priests”, I don't agree with. I am just saying this was so oddly entertaining and subversive and I am happy this real obscure film is actually pretty easy to find online to watch.

I'll return tomorrow night.

Friday, July 25, 2014

A Reason To Live, A Reason To Die

A Reason to Live, a Reason to Die (Una Ragione Per Vivere E Una Per Morire) (1972)

Runtime: 113 minutes

Directed by: Tonino Valerii

Starring: James Coburn, Bud Spencer, Telly Savalas, Georges Geret

From: Several companies, including Atlantida Films

Here is a random film I discovered on a site I just stumbled upon last week which is tremendous for seeing all sorts of real obscure things. Of course I won't mention what it is as the more that know about it, the more it's likely that it'll get shut down by The Man. I picked that out by the title being cool then I noticed who was in the cast and saw the plot, and it sounded like something I should check out. It's from Spain/Italy/France/West Germany, but it's mainly Italian and it was filmed in Spain, like so many Spaghetti Westerns were. After the plot description, what I wrote about it on Letterboxd:

The aforementioned plot, from the IMDb: “Branded a coward for surrendering his New Mexico fort to the Confederates without firing a shot, a Union colonel attempts to redeem himself by leading a band of condemned prisoners on a suicide mission to recapture it.” Yeah, there is a reason why the Colonel (Coburn) did such a thing and yes, it does sound similar to The Dirty Dozen.

I won't go into the details on how I discovered the film (before finding it I hadn't heard of the movie before) but as it fits into the theme of me watching foreign films for the month-sadly real life has gotten in the way of seeing more to put on the list, but the last few days of the month I'll see a few appropriate movies to make the list look better.

I checked it out as I enjoyed its English title, the main three people being James Coburn, Telly Savalas and Bud Spencer, and the plot being clearly inspired by The Dirty Dozen (one leader rounds up criminals to do an almost impossible task; here, Colonel Coburn gets some crooks together to do a raid on a fort that he used to be the head of before he lost it in what was seen a cowardly surrendering fashion, but of course there's a reason behind it). It sounded pretty promising.

While I am disappointed it wasn't awesome as I had hoped-until the action-packed cool finale-which at least did deliver-it at least wasn't bad. It's just that it was in a low gear much of the time and the raid does help elevate it to a 3 star rating. A lot of it is what you'd expect (the crooks not getting along with Coburn, and that sort of thing).

Really, there isn't too much else to say about it besides that it was filmed in Spain by (mainly the) Italians so you'll likely recognize some of the locations if you're familiar with that particular genre. Oh, and if you ever wanted to see Bud Spencer give someone the raspberries and later threaten to moon someone... actually, considering his film career that may have happened more than once, but it does happen here too.

I'll return tomorrow night.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

I Discuss The Expendables 3

I know, not a movie review but there is a reason why I am talking about this film tonight; I'll get to that in a bit.

While not even all action fans agree on it, I think the first two Expendables films are great. All the complaints I've heard about 2... I disagree with most of them and I think it's unfortunate those people had the wrong expectation for the film. Now, you'd think that I'd be looking forward to 3 then. Well...

I started to get reservations about it earlier in the year. The cast looked too huge and there seemed to be way too many famous “good guys” compared to “bad guys”. I thought that was dopey. Then the rating hit; there's been rumors of how some people wanted the first two to be PG-13 but it ended up going R. Well, now it's PG-13 and that's really stupid, as what teenager under 17 would really care about this movie and its stars, even if it has the presence of such people as Ronda Rousey and Victor Ortiz? Just stupid all around, then there's the font for the advertising of the film looking almost exactly like The Fast & The Furious font, and that is why I have pretty low expectations for this, which is quite unfortunate.

Via a messageboard post I read a few hours ago, earlier today someone leaked a full copy of this movie onto all the torrent sites. Really. Why does that happen to Lionsgate more than other companies... hmmm. Anyhow, I looked at The Pirate Bay (yes, they're still around) and there are indeed several copies of the movie up there. Now, of course I didn't download any of them but I did see that the copies floating about... those that listed the length said it's 126 minutes and change; another source of contention is how long the film would be. I've seen several different runtimes and everyone agrees with such a large cast, a movie only like 100 minutes long would be unfortunate as talk about shortchanging everyone. I do feel better knowing it's 126 minutes. I could have done without seeing a comment in one of the torrents that-if true-is a spoiler and something I wish wouldn't have been spoiled. We'll have to wait a few weeks to see if that statement (which of course I won't spoil here) is factual or poppycock.

I'll return tomorrow night.