Sunday, May 29, 2016

Lady Vengeance (i.e. Sympathy For Lady Vengeance)

Lady Vengeance (Chinjeol Geumjassi) (2005)

Runtime: 115 minutes

Directed by: Chan-Wook Park

Starring: Yeong-Ae Lee, Min-Sik Choi, Shi-Hoon Kim, Yea-Young Kwon, Tony Barry

From: Several South Korean companies

I thought that this would be a busy weekend full of movie-watching. Well... there's an issue with my air conditioning so that's why I am not focused on films. Still, I'll try to see some today and tomorrow, and those reviews will be popping up who knows when. As for this movie, it's 0-2 when it comes to Park's films, as I disliked this as much as I did Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance. I explain why in my short Letterboxd review below:

You know, I have to make a controversial statement here. I typically enjoy watching South Korean movies, which is something I should do more often. However, I have discovered that the films of Chan-Wook Park just are not for me. Sympathy for Lady Vengeance was relentlessly ugly and brutal, not pleasing at all for me. This movie, it will be gone from Netflix Instant at the end of this month so I figured I should give it a shot.

After all, the general story sounded interesting: “a unjustly convicted young lady is freed from prison and is looking for revenge against those who created the plot to put her in prison”. It sounds like something I'd dig. However, the story... not only did I also find it incredibly unpleasant but it was just preposterous and nonsensical. The movie has its moments (this does not include all that cake/Tofu stuff; is this a cultural thing I have no knowledge of or was this just a failed attempt at being “amusing” by being “wacky”?) but they were few and far between for me. Instead, I was just turned off by much of what I was seeing, and boy does it get worse as it progresses.

I think I am done with Chan-Wook Park's movies for good. Yes, that means never seeing the much-beloved Oldboy. If I have major tonal issues/think what he does is too off-putting with what I've seen so far, with what I know about Oldboy I am pretty sure that is something else I won't like at all. Sorry, everyone.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Savage Beach

Savage Beach (1989)

Runtime: 92 minutes

Directed by: Andy Sidaris

Starring: Dona Spier, Hope Marie Carlton, John Aprea, Bruce Penhall, Al Leong

From: Malibu Bay Films

The past few days I have rewatched the Andy Sidaris movies Malibu Express, Hard Ticket to Hawaii and Picasso Trigger; all of them are goofy yet endearing due to the type of films they are and them targeting a certain demographic. I did that so I could give them better reviews on Letterboxd. Well, this isn't as good as those; this one actually tries to be serious! I explain all that below:

Here is my last Andy Sidaris movie for at least a few weeks, as seeing too many of these in too short a time could be harmful to my brain. Plus, this just wasn't up to snuff compared to the director's previous three movies. Andy Sidaris actually tried to be serious here, and talk about not playing to your strengths. Sure, there's still some bare breasts, but it's certainly not as wacky or goofy as the previous three he did.

Instead, it's all about the two lead ladies trying to fly medicine to a far-away island or else some sick children there will die (that plot point was pretty much forgotten about, BTW) but they crash on a different island, one where “buried treasure” from the Japanese in World War II is said to be located, and several different people are looking for it.

Yeah, it's not that exciting, aside from such hilarity as a Japanese actor obviously in his 20's having on bad old age makeup to look like someone who has lived on that island since World War II. Plus, I've seen plenty of movies with B movie legend Al Leong (he's also a stuntman) in them. Most of those roles were like the one in Die Hard, where the part is small and he doesn't speak; at least in that film you can remember that he's the one who grabbed the candy bar to eat. Well, here he has a larger part, and he actually has dialogue to say.

Even with that, most people would probably be fine with skipping this, as there are other Sidaris pictures to see if you want to check out the sort of entertainment he's best known for. I understand that after this Mr. Sidaris returned to what he is best at, and I'll discover that on a later date. At least now I can focus on “actual” movies, or at least ones that are more intellectually stimulating than the last few I have seen.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

I Talk The Unrated Producer's Cut

As I promised in the last review I posted here, here are my thoughts of the alternate version of Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers. My thoughts are below. Note that I'll be back on Friday as I'll be rewatching some old things for Letterboxd:

Two days ago, I reviewed the theatrical version of this movie for Letterboxd, and noted how it was awful and thus it deserved the one star it got. I had never seen this version before, which was a popular bootleg for years as it was the workprint version of this film. Finally, it was put out on disc for people to see. To be perfectly honest, this is certainly better than the Theatrical Cut, but in no way would I call this “good”... unless you're comparing only the movies in the franchise to each other.

I was surprised to see it wasn't as different as I was led to believe. Basically, it was edited better and material was added in or sometime excised and that made it not so incoherent to watch, that is for sure. There is more footage of both Jamie Lloyd and Dr. Loomis, and to mention what I thought were two big keys, Alan Howarth's score was restored and the ending wasn't the disaster we saw in the theatrical cut; sure it's goofy but it's better.

However, what's the old adage about making chicken salad out of chicken shi... well, you know? As I said in the other review all the problems during production ruined whatever story screenwriter Daniel Farrands came up with and while the changes here usually were for the better (but not always; a thing or two they made more explicit than I thought they should have) the story still has its issues and the performances weren't always up to snuff. It makes the theatrical version something that you can skip past by watching this instead, but it's still not a good horror picture.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Snake Eater...

is still a bad yet hilarious movie; I confirmed this by watching it last night on the El Rey Network. I reviewed it back in 2011 here.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Halloween: The Curse Of Michael Myers

Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers (1995)

Runtime: 88 minutes

Directed by: Joe Chappelle

Starring: Donald Pleasence, “Paul Stephen Rudd”, Marianne Hagan, Mitchell Ryan, Bradford English

From: Dimension

Yes, I finally got back to watching Halloween movies, and as I had remembered long ago, this is pretty awful. In a few days I'll see the “Unrated Producer's Cut” of this for the first time and I understand it's not as bad. What they put out theatrically... it's pretty appalling. I explain it all in my Letterboxd review copied and pasted below:

NOTE: This is the theatrical cut I am reviewing; in a few days I will watch and review the Unrated Producer's Cut that I haven't seen before but has to be better than this, or at least not as rancid.

Last fall I rewatched the first five Halloween movies; talk about a mixed bag. As I had seen this bad movie once before (and believe it or not this is the newest Halloween film I have seen. The rest of the sequels I actually haven't watched yet, which I understand is probably a good thing if I wish to avoid seeing bad motion pictures) I knew that a second viewing probably wouldn't change my opinion, and I was right. This is pretty awful.

The general story seemed OK in theory. The screenwriter of the fifth film randomly included that man in black who busted him out of jail and never explained it so the filmmakers here decided to tie it in by going with the Celtic and Druid angle, which was at least mentioned before in the franchise. However, due to reasons not entirely known by me, there were many production issues during filming and there were plenty of reshoots and what ended up in the theatrical cut is an incoherent almost incomprehensible mess. A bunch of random things happen haphazardly that you couldn't possibly care about and rather than end, the movie pretty much stops and doesn't resolve much of anything. What a limp and flaccid finale it was, and even more of a mess than the rest of the film.

As for the performances, meh. Even Donald Pleasence did not deliver a great performance; then again he was hardly in this version of the film anyhow. What an insulting end to that character, by the way. “Paul Steven Rudd” makes him movie debut here and the lasting memory of his performance is that while his character appeared earlier in the series, it did not mean much anyway and he was a creepy voyeur who somehow became one of the heroes. They did not bring back Danielle Harris to reprise her role of Jamie Lloyd and the studio first acted like they did not want anything to do with her then gave her an insultingly low amount of money to do the role. The actress they cast instead was OK but the fans naturally were not happy with that.

To mention an aside, a few years ago I listened to a now defunct podcast where screenwriter Daniel Farrands (yes, the guy who later produced the Nightmare on Elm Street documentary Never Sleep Again and wrote Crystal Lake Memories) talked about the badness of this and the two tidbits I remember was that the role of the “shock jock” (which ended up being a pointless diversion) was going to be played by HOWARD STERN but he wisely turned it down and Farrands wished that Mike Myers would have appeared in the movie-for obvious reasons-even if it was just a cameo and yet the in-joke never happened.


Anyway, due to the troubled production I understand that most of the people involved have disowned this, and unless you want to see every movie in this franchise I suggest that you do the same and not bother wasting 1 ½ hours on this claptrap.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Pitfall

Pitfall (1948)

Runtime: 86 minutes

Directed by: Andre De Toth

Starring: Dick Powell, Lizabeth Scott, Jane Wyatt, Raymond Burr, John Litel

From: Regal Films

This is the second noir I watched last night, and it turned out to be pretty good, not to mention having some similar themes to the film I reviewed a few hours ago. Read all about it below via my Letterboxd review:

Last night on TCM they had a theme where they showed several movies related to insurance investigators. It turns out that Double Indemnity wasn't the only noir dealing with that topic. This is definitely not related to the old Atari 2600 game, which I did play when I was really young; considering that there are plans for a trilogy of “dark thrillers” based on TETRIS, I feel like I should clarify such things and also mention that I am pretty certain there have been Hollywood types who have thought about a movie based on Pitfall!

As for this movie, Dick Powell is the insurance investigator and he gets involved in an embezzlement case and the gal of the embezzler is the sultry voiced Lizabeth Scott (as Mona Stevens) and as he leads what he feels is a boring middle class suburban life (despite having a wife and young kid) he ends up at first being happy with the excitement of “hanging out” with Mona... before things turn sour. Raymond Burr is an imposing private detective who has a thing for Mona too, and as he's the “stalker” type, it means that she has issues with several different men, and it's a thorny situation which of course turns out pretty badly.

The movie starts off and we see Powell living what looks to be an idyllic life in the suburbs, nice home and nice family. Things are bright and sunny, literally and figuratively. But what turned out to be a dream life for him ended up a nightmare as he got mixed up in that mess and the movie does show the dangers of suburban life, in that it can be really boring so people could be led astray. The thing is, Mona isn't really a femme fatale; rather, it's the men who can't keep it in their pants and are turned on by her good looks and husky voice. As things get darker, it's also a literal change and you get to see the typical noir cinematography as those dark themes are explored, and even Powell's kid having nightmares can be seen as a sign of trouble, even if it was “those darn comic books” that were a big root of it.

The film has an interesting story and it's nicely directed by De Toth; as the cast does a nice job overall, it all adds up to a pretty good noir.

Double Indemnity

Double Indemnity (1944)

Runtime: 107 minutes

Directed by: Billy Wilder

Starring: Fred MacMurray, Barbara Stanwyck, Edward G. Robinson, Porter Hall, Jean Heather

From: Paramount

This is the first of the two film noir movies I watched last night via Turner Classic Movies. This is indeed a classic film, and not just a classic noir. I say a few words about it below via Letterboxd:

Last night TCM showed this movie so I figured it was about time to see not only a classic film noir, but a classic in general. It's definitely a noir, between the way it's shot/lit, great use of light/shadows, most of the story taking place via flashbacks, a deadly dame, hardboiled narration, and all the rest; it ticks many different boxes as it tells its tale of a man who sells insurance being seduced by an alluring wife and they conspire to kill her husband and make it look like an accident-and one not so common-so that she would get double the amount of money on his policy.

The movie indeed is pretty great. It's always compelling as you see poor sap Walter Neff get manipulated by Phyllis Dietrichson and both Fred MacMurray and Barbara Stanwyck are great in their roles. Neff seems like a nice-enough dude, even if he does some rotten things for Ms. Phyllis, a classic femme fatale. So is Edward G. Robinson as Barton Keyes, a claims adjuster who is quite wise and can easily spot scams. That is a problem for Walter and Phyllis and can they pull off the scam? Like I said it's always compelling-with various surprising twists and turns along the way-and is well-directed by a great director in Billy Wilder; the background is always well-done but understated. The setting is Los Angeles and they picked appropriate locations to film at.

Come to think of it I think it's Robinson who delivers the best performance; others have noted it but his soliloquy about methods of suicide and why he has his doubts about the death of Mr. Dietrichson, it was awesome. Then again there's acres of quality dialogue throughout. And yes I did laugh at the president of that insurance company being named Edward Norton. Anyway, I say that if someone doesn't know what a film noir was and you wanted to show them one that would explain what the genre was all about and how great it would be, I say it would be a great choice to pick this film.