Tuesday, June 30, 2009

June 2009 - Month Of Movies

A list of all the movies we watched.
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Sunday, May 31, 2009

May 2009 - Month Of Movies

A list of all the movies we watched.
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Thursday, April 30, 2009

April 2009 - Month Of Movies

A list of all the movies we watched.
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Tuesday, March 31, 2009

March 2009 - Month Of Movies

A list of all the movies we watched.
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Saturday, February 28, 2009

February 2009 - Month Of Movies

A list of all the movies we watched.
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Saturday, January 31, 2009

January 2009 - Month Of Movies

A list of all the movies we watched.
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Wednesday, December 31, 2008

December 2008 - Month Of Movies

A list of all the movies we watched.
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Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Film Noir is recommended

This movie is teetering on the edge of "not recommended," but there were just enough interesting things that kept Film Noir on the "recommended" side of the fence.
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Sunday, April 13, 2008

Black House is recommended

Let's start with the fact that the house isn't black ... and that the title is more of a red herring than anything else.  That's the first in a series of annoying bits that keep Black House from being a great horror movie.
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Saturday, April 12, 2008

Epitaph is recommended

Epitaph is wonderful.  South Korean film making has been *amazing* the last couple of years.  You can definitely see the influence of Kubrick in the slow pull-outs and floating camera work.
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Friday, April 11, 2008

Help Me Eros is recommended

Help Me Eros is wonderfully filmed ... just beautiful.  Some review said it was a drug-fueled sex movie, but they were totally missing the point -- plus, there wasn't that much sex, really.
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Saturday, October 06, 2007

The Good Shepherd is recommended

Matt Damon was incredible in The Good Shepherd.  He's actually acting, and it's amazing (not that he doesn't usually act, but, he's just not acting like he does a lot of the time).

Angelina Jolie, on the other hand, looks like a brittle 80-year-old woman the whole movie.  She really can't pull off 18, or 'interesting.'

Anyway, the movie is awesome.  The man on which the movie was based was actually 100% weirder than Matt Damon's character.  It was cool to kinda see the genesis of the CIA.
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Friday, October 05, 2007

The Abandoned is recommended

The Abandoned is a great horror movie.  I just asked Andrew what he thought (without him knowing I'm typing it up):
Actually scary.  Well acted.  There weren't too many ghosts.
I agree.
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Thursday, October 04, 2007

The Good German is recommended

I hear that The Good German got really bad reviews.  I'm not sure why.  I loved this movie.  I usually like Steven Soderbergh's movies (the director).  And I can't get enough George Clooney and/or Kate Blanchett.

I feel like I should say something about World War II or war or something, but I'm too tired.  Not tired-tired, but tired of war, tired of being mad, tired of caring.  America isn't the only country (I mistyped company ... which isn't far from the truth) full of people who have no qualms about killing other people.  It happens all over the world, and it's happened throughout time.

Anyway, the movie gives you lots of things to think about with no real answers nor clear-cut value judgments.
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Wednesday, October 03, 2007

The Fountain is recommended

The Fountain was incredible.  Although it's strange around the edges ... the subject matter addresses the heart of the human condition: someday each of us will have to deal with death, if not that of one we love, then our own.  This movie offers no answers, but it does lead you through an emotional landscape that spans time and space.
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Tuesday, September 25, 2007

The Last Winter is recommended

On Saturday we drove up to New York to see The Last Winter at the IFC Theater.  It was the only sucky, rainy day in weeks.  We drove up in the driving rain thinking the whole time that we should have turned back.  But we didn't.  Eventually, it stopped raining, but the sun never did come out.

Larry Fessenden, the director, was there to introduce the movie at it's New York Premiere ... but he (mysteriously) wasn't able to stay for the Q&A afterwards.  We were pretty disappointed, especially since we spent the first half of the day wet from the knees down and the second half of the day carrying around wet umbrellas just because we came up to see his movie ... but we aren't going to hold it against him.

The Last Winter is a great horror movie.  It's heavy on the character development, lets the horrors creep into the movie, and ties everything together with a socially conscious theme.  It was beautifully shot, which is saying a lot when most of your "set" is snow for as far as the eye can see.

[photo taken 9/22/2007 in New York with Andrew's cell phone]
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Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Ocean's Thirteen is recommended

Ocean's Thirteen is a movie about the joy of doing something well.  Not only is that the theme of the movie, but the movie itself is the product of a job well done.  It's fun, it's well-crafted, and it's recommended. :)
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Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Pulse is recommended

We saw Pulse in June ... so my memory is a little hazy on this one.  It's a Japanese horror film.  I remember a lot of bits and pieces, which is more than I can say for most other movies, so at least it stuck with me.

OK, I just read some of the reviews on IMDB and I'm remembering more.  It's a very creepy, scary, weird, and beautiful movie.  I loved it. :)
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Monday, September 17, 2007

Wait Until Dark is recommended

Wait Until Dark is a 1967 thriller starring Audrey Hepburn as a blind woman and Alan Arkin as a cold-blooded killer.  It was a lot more violent and dark than I expected.  Both Audrey and Alan are amazing.  I've been in love with Alan since Little Miss Sunshine.

Strange that Andrew picked this movie with the Casino Royale film from the video store, because the director also directed Dr. No and two other Bond films.

Also, I had no idea that Audrey Hepburn wasn't American.  She was actually a witness to Nazi atrocities in Holland as a young girl (10-15).  You really should read about it.
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Sunday, September 16, 2007

Casino Royale is recommended

Casino Royale is a unique and amazing James Bond movie.  I've already mentioned my love of the books.  Did I ever tell you my parent's first date was to see Dr. No?  Well, it was.  Anyway, me and James ... we go way back.

Daniel Craig made an amazing Bond.  AMAZING!  And, Eva Green, who we loved in French movie The Dreamers, was incredible as well.  Not your typical gadget and slick get-away Bond movie.
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Thursday, September 06, 2007

Wreckmeister Harmonies is recommended

Wreckmeister Harmonies is teetering on the edge of "too effing arty."  However, I'll go ahead and recommend it, because it really had me thinking and feeling.  I was totally engaged (when I wasn't asking Andrew why the hell the close-up take of the two dudes walking needed to last 5 effing minutes.).

I'm still not sure how I feel about "effing" as opposed to "fucking."  Just today I saw f'n, which might be closer to what I mean.  If I was talking to you, I'd use the whole word ... but in writing, it can sometimes look way more coarse than I mean it.  It's hard to ignore when you write it, but when your talking, an fuck here and there will sometimes go unnoticed.  Anyway, I reserve the right to mix it up f-wise around here from time to time.
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Saturday, September 01, 2007

Suspira is recommended

Suspiria is a weird movie from 1977 by Dario Argento.  He was going for a cinematic version of a nightmare, so plot, naturalism, and sense is almost nonexistent.  There are some creepy, strange moments.  I'd never thought about what it would be like to jump into a room full of rolls of barbed wire ...

The best part is the art direction.  I want the set designer to do the interior of our apartment!  You could describe it as vampire art-deco.   So awesome.  In fact, some of the insane wall paper looks like current Alexander Henry Fabric prints, especially  this one.
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Monday, August 20, 2007

The Lookout is recommended

The Lookout is a great movie.  I love Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who was also the main guy from Brick (a movie I also loved) and the kid from the TV show Third Rock From The Sun.  It's a heist movie, but you wouldn't really notice it because the director/writer keeps you so interested in the characters.  Tons of great actors are in the movie: Jeff Daniels, Matthew Goode (Match Point) , and Isla Fisher (Borat's girlfriend, really, she's great!).

[photo taken Philadelphia in 7/14/2007]
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Sunday, August 19, 2007

The Straight Story is recommended

The night after we watched this movie, I said to Andrew, "The Straight Story was strangely heartwarming."  He said he should get a tape recorder because he'd probably never hear me say that again.

And, it *was* strangely heartwarming.  David Lynch made a heartwarming movie.  Why?  Because his long-time girlfriend wrote it.  That is the only explanation.  But he does the movie justice, in spite of it's warm-fuzzy heart.  Sometimes I feel like David Lynch could look into my heart and explain me better than I could.

David Lynch's movies are amazing.  I also recommend his book Catching The Big Fish about meditation.  Andrew bought it for me.  I don't, however, recommend his brand of meditation, which requires a layout of several thousand dollars.  Meditation is free for all, and all you need to know is right here on Dr. Herbert Benson's site (not that I'm endorsing him, but his research and steps seem pretty straight forward - and I always tend toward a secular solution).

I'd thought that it was a documentary ... but it's merely based on fact.  I was happy to see Harry Dean Stanton.  He rocks.

[photo taken in 2004 in Montreal]
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Thursday, August 09, 2007

Bourne Ultimatum is recommended

I loved The Bourne Ultimatum.  The direction was phenomenal.  I was a big sucker for the James Bond books in my early twenties, and Bourne is like a kick-ass updating with better car chases.  Plus Matt Damon is cute.

We actually saw it last weekend.  I was worried about opening weekend crowds, but the theater was less than half full ... thank goodness.  I think it was the first film in YEARS where I didn't hear the people around me talking.  The movie is pretty loud, so maybe that helped.  The guy next to me did have some obnoxious cologne on, though.
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Friday, July 27, 2007

Zodiac is recommended

I really liked Zodiac.  Jake Gyllenhaal is great.  Robert Downey Jr. is also wonderful, and he steals every scene he's in:
Robert: Jesus Herald Christ on rubber crutches! You're doing that thing again. That thing I hate... starts with an L...

Jake: Looming?
I can't hold the slick production and star-studded cast against the movie (which I normally would), because the script and the acting is amazing.  David Fincher (director of Se7en,  Fight Club, Panic Room ...) was the perfect director for this story.  His use of lighting, color, and camera angle (and everything else) perfectly conveys each scenes' particular vibe.  Even day's later, the story is still resonating with me.

Plus, I'm totally fascinated by serial killers.  It probably has a lot to do with being a 16-year-old when Ted Bundy was caught.  I was working at B. Dalton.  I sat at the cash register reading all the True Crime books about him.  When they finally fried him when I was around 23, I slept just a little better.

Actually, I'm fascinated by anyone who does heinous stuff.  I don't think people like that are crazy.  It's dismissive and dangerous to deny that darkness/evil/bad stuff is a natural and normal part of humanity. Some people just do bad things ... just like some people do good things.  It's all normal - or - nothing is normal - same thing.  People like to deny that dark part of humanity ("no one could do something like that ..."), but I think that we'd be much safer if we'd acknowledge it, because then maybe we'll be prepared if we ever have to face it personally.

Knock wood that I don't.

[photo taken 7/25/2007 in Philadelphia]
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Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Shaun of the Dead is recommended

Shaun of the Dead is by the guys who did Hot Fuzz.  Someone recommended Shaun of the Dead to me a while ago, but it sounded stupid.  After seeing Hot Fuzz, I reconsidered.

Shaun is super funny and it made it even funnier to watch the writers' commentary (which are the director and one of the main actors).  I wish we'd watched the actor commentary ... because I'm sure that was funny, too ... but we were a little Shaun-of-the-deaded out.

Basically, it's a zombie movie with almost no screaming, almost no blood (of course there are exceptions), and tons of jokes.  The main characters don't even really want to believe there even *are* zombies.  It's very funny.

p.s. There *is* a naked zombie in the movie, but you don't get to see his luggage like in the graffiti above.

[photo taken 4/23/2007 in Philadelphia]
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Saturday, July 07, 2007

Yo-Yo Girl Cop is recommended

Yo-Yo Girl Cop is actually named Sukeban Deka: Kôdo nêmu = Asamiya Saki which, literally translated, means Juvenile Delinquent Girl Detective: Code Name = Asamiya Saki.  Sukeban Deka started as a Manga (Japanese comics), was turned into a TV show, and, finally, this movie.  This is the first film we saw at the New York Asian Film Festival.

Asamiya Saki's weapon of choice is a razor-sharp yo-yo, with which she sometimes bonks herself in the head.  She keeps her yo-yo in a thigh holster hidden under her little school girl uniform skirt.

There is a lot of martial arts yo-yo action, and nods to James Bond, Silence of the Lambs, and any other undercover cop movie.  It was a lot of fun.

I tried to find a picture of Asamiya and her arch nemesis in their normal clothes, but all I could find is them in their 'big fight a the end of the movie' clothes.  Notice that she still has her school girl uniform neck scarf on, even in a full-body vinyl fight suit. Kick ass.
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Saturday, July 07, 2007

Zebraman is recommended

Zebraman, from one of my favorite directors, Takashi Miike, is so incredibly wonderful.  This is the second film we saw this at the New York Asian Film Festival.  Basically, there is an elementary school teacher who escapes his everyday life by pretending to be a super hero from a failed 70's TV show, Zebraman.  He has even sewed himself and outfit and fashioned a helmet out of Styrofoam.  Somehow, he ends up actually having to save the world.

Takashi usually makes weirdo films, and this is no exception, except in this case, as one review pointed out, it is neither vulgar nor exploitive on any level.  It's a classy film the entire family can enjoy.  It's a ton of kooky fun.

Great reviews and film grabs here and here.
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Saturday, July 07, 2007

Big Bang Love is recommended

The last film we saw at the New York Asian Film Festival was Big Bang Love: Juvenile A.  Also a movie by Takashi Miike, although completely different fromZebraman or any of his other movies, really.  It's a surreal mixture of many elements and styles.  I detected hints of Lars von Trier's Dogville and Manderlay in the sparse set design.  The sound design had the feeling of David Lynch.  The question and answer sections were pure Goddard.  But in Miike's hands, even these familiar (to me) elements became other.  Strange and entrancing.

Here is a snippet of the film festival's description of the movie:

What the - ? Just when you thought you had Takashi Miike all figured out he runs you over with a movie like this. Based on a gay manga, Elegy for Boy, this flick kicks off with an aggressively experimental Q&A session between an old man and a kid, explodes into life with an experimental dance performance, and then settles down to tell the story of two men who meet in prison, fall in love and then murder one another. There’s also a rocket ship and a Mayan pyramid.


A provocation, a poem, an elegy for lost boys, a ritual for passing into manhood, a Lars von Trier experiment in style – BIG BANG LOVE, JUVENILE A is all those things and more. By the time you reach the ending you’ll understand everything...even the rocket ship. But maybe not so much the pyramid.

I just noticed the description mentions von Trier.  See, I wasn't making it up. :)  The last sentence totally cracks me up.  But, if you understand the rocket ship, you'll understand the pyramid, too.

[photo taken 11/26/2006 in Philadelphia]
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Thursday, May 31, 2007

Hot Fuzz is recommended

If you like Office Space and Harold and Kumar, like I do, then Hot Fuzz will crack you up.  I loved it!  So funny.  We're still cracking jokes from the movie a week later ... Yarp!
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Thursday, May 31, 2007

Idiocracy is recommended

Idiocracy is very funny, yet still a brutal commentary on the state of things.  It's set far in the future, but it really doesn't seem much different than today when you stop and think about it.  Much in the same way that 1984 seems far-fetched and over-the-top, until you look closely at the world in which we live.  What's funny, is now that I think about the two ... I think the Idiocracy version of the future is much more likely.  Orwell gave us a little too much credit.

Idiocracy is just as funny as Office Space, which Mike Judge also wrote.  It's so weird that it was released in the same bungled way that Office Space was released, especially in light of the fact that Office Space became a "stealth blockbuster."  Either they are trying to do that again, or they are just dummies.  You can probably guess what I think. ;)
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Wednesday, May 09, 2007

A Dirty Carnival is recommended

South Korea rocks the house once again with A Dirty Carnival.  This is a great gangster movie.  I particularly liked the fight sequences.  These particular gangs fight with knives and just maim each other.  It's considered bad form to actually kill a rival gangster.  There are lots of torturous hamstringing* and stuff.

The movie was a lot of fun, there was a movie within the movie and a good kid/bad kid from the neighborhood relationship.  Pretty typical stuff, but done very well.

* From dictionary.com, "to disable by cutting the hamstring or hamstrings; cripple."
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Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Night Of The Sunflowers is recommended

Night Of The Sunflowers is a wonderful Spanish movie.  Part crime drama, part mystery, part character study.  I just read that this is the director's first movie.  I'm shocked!  This was a great movie - dense, rich, textured.

[photo taken 10/13/2006 in Philadelphia]
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Tuesday, May 08, 2007

The Living And The Dead is recommended

Here are a couple words about The Living And The Dead:  Amazing. Creepy. Uncomfortable. Weird. Wonderful.

The Director and DP did a Q&A after the movie.  We learned that the estate where they filmed was mostly unaltered from it's current state for the movie.  Everything about the movie was well done.
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Friday, April 27, 2007

Cruel Winter Blues is recommended

Cruel Winter Blues is an awesome movie.  It incorporates all the gangster-y goodness of an Asian ganster film with a warm and touching story.  Well ... warm and touching in the context of gangsters.

A ton of wonderful films have come from South Korea over the last several years.  I can't think of a South Korean film that we've seen that has been anything but spectacular.
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Thursday, April 26, 2007

Severance is recommended

I've seen ads for Severance, so it looks like it's going to get a wide release.  It totally should because it's a great horror/comedy.  Scary and funny.  Perfect.  It was a huge crowd pleaser at the Film Festival.

Here's about all you need to know: "A team-building weekend in the mountains of Eastern Europe goes horribly wrong ..." and "Rated R for strong bloody violence, language, drug content and some sexuality/nudity"
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Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Red Road is recommended

I really liked Red Road.  I think it obliquely addressed issues of privacy (or lack thereof) while still presenting an engaging story.  I was a little disappointed with the ending.  I don't want to give away too much, but I appreciate a dark movie that follows through to the bitter end and doesn't have everything come up sunshine and roses.

It's the same kind of wuss-out ending that The Woodsman had. Come on!  There are bad people in the world - they don't all end up being redeemed in the end.  Both of these movies explored deep dark places of the human psyche and then tacked on a Disney ending.  Argh!

I still recommend it, though.  But just by a hair.  I like to imagine the movie ended differently. :)
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Monday, April 23, 2007

End Of The Line is recommended

In End Of The Line Fundamentalist Christians get a message on their pagers to let them know the end is nigh.  So, of course, they need to "save" the earth by killing everyone (if you are left alive after the battle [is the movie referring to Rapture or Armageddon?] then you go to hell, so if they kill you, you're saved).

The bulk of the movie takes place on the subway and in subway tunnels.  The movie is low budget and campy, but there are some genuine scares and interesting characters.  It's as much fun as you might imagine (if you imagine movies involving murderous, culty Christians would be fun).  The whole theater was whooping it up.

[photo taken around 2001 of Church Street Station, San Francisco]
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Saturday, April 21, 2007

Uro is recommended

Uro is an awesome Norwegian film.  Uro is the name of Norway's elite drug enforcement patrol.  The movie focuses on one officer, HP, who makes the absolute worst decision at every turn.  Every time he'd make a choice, I was thinking, "What? Oh, please turn back now.  Please!"  The movie is exciting, interesting, and well filmed.  I loved it.

[photo taken 1/7/2007 in Philadelphia]
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Friday, April 20, 2007

Invisible Waves is recommended

I was so engrossed in the visual beauty of Invisible Waves* that I only noticed the gaping plot holes after it was over. I'm still recommending it, despite the crap plot, because it was so so beautifully shot.  But, ugh, I'm in no hurry to visit Phuket or Hong Kong.

* The IMDb plot summary states, "After inadvertently killing his girlfriend ..." I'm not sure what movie they were watching, because the killing is anything but inadvertent.

[photo taken 2/11/2007 in Atlantic City, NJ]
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Thursday, April 19, 2007

The Ten is recommended

We decided to go to the opening night movie of Philadelphia Film Festival since it was "free" with our passes.  The Ten is what you'd get if you took Mel Brooks, Woody Allen, and The State* and mixed them up in a blender.  This kind of comedy probably isn't going to play well in middle America ... I'll admit that I'm not always a big fan of Brooks and Allen, either.

The movie is composed of ten parts (skits?) with each cooresponding to one of the Commandments.  With a mini drama playing out in between them.

The all-star cast was awesome:  Liev Schreiber (with a real, bushy mustache), Famke Janssen (I want her hair!), and Rob Corddry (from The Daily Show).  Justin Theroux was completely unrecognizable as Jesus (yes, that Jesus).  Justin was in David Lynch's Mullholland Drive, where he played a movie director.

After the movie there was Q&A with David Wain, Paul Rudd, Michael Ziegfeld, and Zach Page.  It was pretty funny since David Wain and Paul Rudd were cracking jokes the whole time.

* The State was a sketch comedy show on MTV in the 90's (that I never watched).  A lot of them are now in Reno 911 on Comedy Central (which I've seen several times and love).
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Friday, March 23, 2007

Boondock Saints is recommended

I mentioned that I liked Willem Dafoe to a co-worker and she asked if I'd ever seen Boondock Saints.  I hadn't even heard of it.  Then she said there was a really great actor in the movie ... we looked it up on imdb and she was talking about Norman Reedus.  It was totally weird that she brought him up since we'd just seen Cigarette Burns.

Boondock Saints is a fun movie.  It's a little over the top sometimes and the ending seems a little rushed, but I enjoyed it.
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Thursday, March 22, 2007

Cigarette Burns is recommended

Cigarette Burns is one of the episodes of Masters of Horror series on Showtime.  We rented it on DVD.  This one is directed by John Carpenter.

We watched all the extras and the commentary by John Carpenter.  They were great.  John is totally no-bullshit.  He's hilarious, warm, and honest.

Udo Kier is freaky and amazing in this movie.  When you watch the extras, you see how absolutely nutball crazy he is and how that translates into his wonderfully "over the top but it still works" acting. I also loved Norman Reedus.  His acting is very natural and immediate.

This episode is great on so many levels.  I watched the scene of Udo showing the "creature" to Norman at least 6 times ... Udo is such a crack up!
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Wednesday, February 21, 2007

11:14 is recommened

11:14 is super-fun.  It was fast paced, full of clues, and utterly ridiculous.  I really don't know how this one got passed me.  I never heard a thing about it.  I mentioned it at work, and someone had just rented it on a whim and she loved it, too.  Patrick Swayze is a hilarious dad.

[photo taken 2004 in Philadelphia]
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Tuesday, February 20, 2007

The Illusionist is recommended

The Illusionist is very well done - beautifully shot and well acted.  It doesn't hurt that I have a soft spot for Edward Norton.  My favorite corridor in the movie is the antler and animal stuffed hallway of the Prince's castle.  Watching the commentary, we learned that nothing (nothing!) was added to the corridor.  It was the hunting lodge of Franz Ferdinand (yes, that one - not the band) and those are all animals he killed.  After his death, they hung his death mask, that of his wife, and the bullets that killed them on the wall.  How macabre and totally awesome.
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Monday, February 19, 2007

The Exorcist is recommeded

We watched The Exorcist on AMC DVD_TV where they pop up stuff at the bottom of the screen while you watch, like trivia and information.  It made watching it again a lot of fun.  It's like commentary track where you can still hear the movie.  Plus, I always like seeing Max von Sydow.
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Saturday, February 17, 2007

Hamlet is recommended

Michael Almereyda's Hamlet (2000) is wonderful.  Julia Stiles and Liev Schreiber play a brother and sister, which is funny since they were married in Omen 2006.  Bill Murray doing Shakespeare is as hilarious as you'd imagine.  He is perfect.  Coop (Kyle MacLachlan) is in this one, too.  As is Sam Shepard, playwright extrodinaire.  I almost peed myself when we spotted Larry Fessenden in the crowd shot in a scene at a dance club.  I am super impressed with this adaptation of the play.  I really enjoyed it.
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Friday, February 16, 2007

Fist Full of Dollars is recommended

I love movies with Clint Eastwood, and Fist Full of Dollars is no exception.  This is one of Sergio Leone's awesome westerns that has a bizarre and wonderful score by Ennio Morricone.  The story is based on Akira Kurosawa's Yojimbo.  Last Man Standing (1996), with Bruce Willis, is based on the same story and is recommended.

My favorite moment was when one of the character's laughed and something inside my brain snapped.  What!?  It was the laugh that starts the Ministry song "You Know What You Are."  I always love it when I accidentally encounter a Ministry sample.
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Thursday, February 15, 2007

Toolbox Murders is recommended

Toolbox Murders (2004) is an awesome horror movie.  Super scary and gory.  From the director of Poltergiest and Texas Chainsaw Massacre.
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Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Coogan's Bluff is recommended

Clint Eastwood is awesome in Coogan's Bluff.  This 1968 movie has Clint playing an Arizona cop, who is sent to New York to collect a prisoner.  It's a lot of fun. Seymour Cassel, an awesome actor who was delightful in The Life Aquatic, has a small part as a young hood.
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Monday, February 05, 2007

Requiem is recommended

Requiem (2006, Germany) is an excellent exorcism movie.  It's more intellectual than horror.  I like that it side-steps the whole issue of whether or not the possession is real by just not showing you what she sees.  Because the movie wasn't full of cheesy demons, the focus is on the characters, which is always more interesting than bad computer graphics.
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Thursday, February 01, 2007

The Devil In Daniel Johnston is recommended

The Devil in Daniel Johnston is a well done and interesting documentary.  But, the movie put a burr behind my eye, as my Grandmother used to say. Actually two burrs.


Daniel Johnston is a highly disturbed individual that is used by people to his detriment for their financial enrichment.

They don't disclose Daniel's diagnosis in the movie, but I don't think it's necessary to know exactly what is wrong with him for the purposes of this post. What is clear, is that the guy can't function day-to-day without supervision.  He's damaged on a deep, fundamental level.

Sure, he's raw.  Sure, he's got ambition.  Sure, he's prolific and driven, and his lyrics sometimes have a sweet simplicity that is difficult to achieve. But, at what point does your parading around of this guy (I'm looking at you, music industry and fine art dealers) go from celebrating him to exhibiting him like some lucrative sideshow freak?

Shame on you.  I think you've done more harm to him than his flaws, whatever they may be.


I don't think Daniel Johnston has a sliver of talent (well, maybe just a sliver) and that makes his exploitation all the more painful to me.  Just because you walk around saying you're a chicken, doesn't make you a chicken -- even if other people say you are a chicken, too.  I feel like I'm on crazy pills.  The guy's music isn't great.  The guy's art isn't great.  Am I alone here?
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Tuesday, January 30, 2007

The Fifth Element is recommended

I love The Fifth Element.  It's a fun sci-fi movie with costumes by Jean-Paul Gaultier. Gary Oldman plays an evil Texas businessman. He is one of my all-time favorite actors and even if he's in a crappy movie (i.e. Lost in Space, Air Force One) I will pay hard-earned money to see it (or at least watch it on cable).  Luckily, this isn't a crappy movie.

We saw half of Blade Runner the day after this, and I loved seeing all the things that The Fifth Element borrowed from it.  That would be an homage, right? ... not plagiarism.
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Monday, January 29, 2007

The Exorcist III is recommeded

The Exorcist III is recommended.  I was totally surprised that this movie was so good, because I heard that The Exorcist II was crappy.  I'd watch it again just for the creepy hospital scissors. Schnip!!! Those things give shivers just thinking about them ... like fingernails on the chalkboard.  Super creepy and very scary.

[photo taken 11/26/2006 in Philadelphia]
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Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Edmond is recommended

Edmond is not for the easily offended or the faint-of-heart. On Amazon, there are two kinds of reviews: (1) this is worse than crap, and (2) this is the most sublime cinema.  It's a polarizing kind of movie.  Somewhere I read that it's "controversial and provocative."  I agree and can appreciate those qualities.

It's written by David Mamet, an American playwright and screen writer responsible for movies such as Glengarry Glen Ross.  That was my first exposure to Mamet.  I was smitten.  I particularly like the words he chooses ... what has become known as Mametspeak.  Mamet's dialogue sparkles like a diamond that is just about to cut you.  Sparkly and dangerous.

Other Mamet movies that I love are Spartan, Heist, State and Main, Wag the Dog, American Buffalo, and House of Games.

Edmond isn't always pleasant to watch, because it's not supposed to be.  It's difficult to empathize with the characters, because they are unlikable.  At times, the movie made me very uncomfortable, which I suspect was on purpose.  These things don't make a movie bad.

[photo taken 1-10-2007 in Philadelphia]
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Saturday, January 20, 2007

The Woods is recommended

The Woods features young girls going to a private school in the spooky woods.  More often than not, a movie with this description would be made for teenagers and be sorta dumb, but The Woods was great.  We took a chance on it because the director, Lucky McKee, also made May, an excellent horror movie that I recommend.  The acting in the movie is good - I especially like the headmistress of the school, Patricia Clarkson and the main girl actor, Agnes Bruckner.

[photo taken 1-7-2007 in Philadelphia]
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Sunday, January 14, 2007

Chilidren of Men is recommended

I like to go to movies knowing nothing about them.  Maybe just their name.  That is one of my favorite things to do.  Luckily, Andrew is the movie picker, so I usually don't know anything about the movie.

So, yesterday I only knew that the movie was named Children of Men, and I vaguely remembered seeing the poster for it with dirty children sitting against the wall.  When we got there, the poster is actually of Clive Owen (awesome!). I also found out it was a sci-fi movie (what?).  I have no idea which movie has the dirty children poster.  Maybe we'll see that one next.

Anyway, Children of Men was directed by Alfonso Cuarón, who also directed Y tu mamá también (And your mother too), which we loved.  Clive Owen, Julianne Moore, and Michael Caine, some of my favorite actors, are in the movie, and they are all great.  Especially Julianne.  She is usually cast as a fragile whack-job, but not this time, and she really pulled it off.

I don't really know what to say about it.  There is something unspeakably touching about the movie (but not in a heartwarming, fluffy kitten kind of way).

[photo taken 6-11-2006 in New York]
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Monday, January 08, 2007

The Eternal is recommended

The Eternal (1999), known as Trace outside of the USA, looked like it was going to be OK, so we took a chance on it.  But, when the opening credits started rolling with Cat Power playing, I became more optimistic.

Christopher Walken is great in this movie.  He's one of my favorite actors.  Someone in the movie does a hilarious impression of him.  There is also a strange young girl in the movie named Alice.  I always like characters named Alice. The movie was directed by Michael Almereyda, who is a great director.

I liked the story.  It's well acted and visually stunning.  It's set in Ireland, and the footage of the countryside is amazing.

[photo taken 3-29-06 in Philadelphia]
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Monday, December 25, 2006

One Missed Call 2 is recommended

I can't decide if I recommend One Missed Call 2 or not.  I liked One Missed Call, but it had one major thing going for it that the sequel doesn't: director Takashi Miike.

We watched the whole thing, which means it didn't totally suck.  There were a lot of genuinely creepy moments and the story kept you in suspense, but they took too long playing catch-up with the first movie, and the end made no damn sense.  In this movie's defense, Miike's ending of the first movie was kinda open to interpretation ... but this movie's ending has stumped me.  And I'm not saying that they don't spell things out for you, because I don't want that. I'm saying that it looks like they picked up clipped frames from the floor of the editing room and taped them together.

Anyway, it was a free On Demand cable movie ... so, if you can see it for free or it's worth some cash to be scared for about an hour, I recommend it.  

[photo taken 8-14-2002 in New York City]
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Sunday, December 24, 2006

The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou is recommended

I love The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou so much (like I love all Wes Anderson movies).  It's one of the free On Demand movies on cable, and I'll probably watch it every chance I get.  Here are just some of the reasons this movie is so awesome: Bill Murray as washed up Cousteau-wannabe, Anjelica Huston as smarty pants modern woman, Cate Blanchet as preggers journalist, Willam Defoe as a hardass German sailor, Jeff Goldblum as nemesis, Owen Wilson as Air Kentucky pilot, David Bowie songs in English and Portuguese, revenge plots involving dynamite, soundtrack by Mark Mothersbaugh (formerly of Devo, OMG, I just learned on IMDB that Mark also composed the Peewee's Playhouse theme!).

My absolute favorite scene is when Bill Murray, in a metallic blue wet suit, puts on his helmet and says, "Supposedly Cousteau and his cronies invented the idea of putting walkie-talkies into the helmet. But we made ours with a special rabbit ear on the top so we could pipe in some music."  As he pulls out the antenna "Ping Island/Lightning Strike Rescue Op", an song by Mark Mothersbaugh for the movie, starts playing and Bill Murray starts dancing, just a little, in the most hilarious way.  Listen to a clip of "Ping Island", track number 16.

We bought the MP3 of "Ping Island/Lightning Strike Rescue Op" and every once in a while, we'll stick it in a playlist when were hanging out in the office.  It's a great song.  I love computer beeples.

[photo taken 9-9-2005 in Atlantic City]
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Saturday, December 23, 2006

Deer Hunter is recommended

Deer Hunter is a three hour movie that examines how the Vietnam war affects the people in a small Pennsylvanian town.

Robert Deniro is amazing.  Christopher Walken is amazing.  The story is amazing.  I didn't feel manipulated by the movie, and everything seemed realistic.

[photo taken 4-15-2006 in Philadelphia]
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Saturday, December 16, 2006

Bergman's Island is recommended

Today we took an impromptu drive up to New York to see a Bergman's Island at the Film Forum.  This documentary on Ingmar Bergman was excellent.  The movie is mostly Bergman speaking about himself and his movies.  I love learning about people, and I feel like I learned a lot about Bergman as a person in this movie.

Before Bergman's Island, they showed My Dad is 100 Years Old, a short fiilm, about Roberto Rosselini, written by and staring his daughter Isabella Rosselini.  The movie was made by Guy Maddin, who also directed The Saddest Music in the World (which is recommended), which stared Isabella as well.  Guy Maddin makes an alltogether original kind of film with his use of lo-fi effects and tender camera work.  It was an interesting choice to pair this short with the Bergman movie, because as much as Rosselini is portrayed as a warm, passionate man, Bergman is seen as a detatched, self-interested man.

We walked from Film Forum to The Tree, which is about 60 blocks.  Our all-day total of blocks-walked is probably close to 90.  We love walking.  It was a perfectly beautiful day and I'm glad we got to spend most of it outside.  The tree at Rockefeller Center was gorgeous, as always.  Since the weather was so nice, the place was packed ... and I mean PACKED.  I almost turned back when got a block away because the press of bodies was so great, but the lure of shiny lights and the Japanese bookstore won out.

We also tried to go see 11 Spring Street.  AmberCake just happened to email the night before mentioning it.  The Film Forum isn't too far away, so we walked over.  There was a line wrapped around the block!  Andrew and I don't wait in lines usually.  Personally, I don't like feeling like a sheep.  Anyway, it looked kinda cool from the outside.  I can't help but suspect that the whole thing is a marketing ploy designed to get press for their condos so they can charge more ... "Yes, it's a 14 million dollar one bedroom.  Don't you know there's 'Street Art' behind your walls?"

[photos taken 12-16-2005 in New York City]
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Friday, December 15, 2006

Nightmare is recommend

Three can keep a secret if two are dead and gone. [From the lyrics of The Conversation by Twilight Singers on the album Powder Burns]

Well, in Nightmare, there are seven people trying to keep a secret.  Nightmare is full of creepy twists and frightening scares.  It's an awesome South Korean horror film.

[photo taken 6-11-2005 in New York City]
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Thursday, December 14, 2006

Gimme Shelter is recommended

Gimme Shelter is a documentary about the Rolling Stones' 1969 Altamont Free Concert in California (near San Francisco).

The number of people there is staggering.  I can't even imagine the logistics of it all.  There weren't enough porta-potties.  There weren't snack and bottled water vendors.  There weren't, apparently, even enough clothes to go around.

The movie is well filmed.  There were a bazillion camera men (including George Lucas).  The editing of the movie is incredible.  I didn't realize the Stones could be thoughtful, sober dudes.  They seemed really professional.

I'm not sure who's bright idea it was to have the Hell's Angels do the security for in exchange for beer at an all-day concert ... um, it ends as well as you would imagine it would.

SPOILER ALERT - stop reading if you don't know about the tragedy.

I don't think I've seen very many people killed on film.  It's chilling.  The first time you see it, it's fast and you see the glint of a blade in the Hells Angel's hand and you see a guy get stabbed twice before they scuffle out of frame.  I felt sick.  The Hell's Angels killed a guy.  My heart sank.

Then you see Mick Jagger watching the film of it later and they freeze frame on the Hell's Angel with the knife, and I felt even sicker.  It looks like a pretty big knife.  Then they rewind a little bit, and I could see the gun in the other guy's hand and suddenly felt completely different.  That Hell's Angel risked his life to save Mick Jagger.  The other guy had a gun and was pointing it at the stage and, before he could take a shot, the Hell's Angel took him down.

What a fucked up situation.  I don't like anything about it.  It's amazing, with everything that was going on, that they got it on film.  Who would believe that the guy the Hell's Angels stabbed (and then kicked to death) really had a gun if they didn't see it on the film?  Not me.

[first photo taken 10-8-2006 in Philadelphia]
[second photo taken 10-4-2006 in Philadelphia]

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Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Le Charme Discret de la Bourgeoisie is recommended

I loved The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie.  Luis Buñuel made a movie that is one part surreal, one part dreams, and one part interrupted dinner parties.  Buñuel was Spanish, but made this movie in French in France.  It's a bizarre and fun romp.  The 70's outfits alone made the movie worth watching.

It's been a couple days since we watched it, and many of the images have stuck in my head.  On the surface, it's a goofy little movie, but there is a lot more going on under the surface.

[photo taken 6-13-2006 in Philadelphia]
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Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Dark Water (Japanese version) is recommended

The original, Japanese Dark Water is amazing.  It's written by the same author that wrote The Ring (Ringu).  We saw the American version of this movie earlier this year and LOVED it (Pete Postlethwaite plays the weirdest building super.  He gave me shivers!).

We weren't sure what to expect from the movie.  Andrew bought the short story that the movie is based on.  It's only 15 pages long, and it's not very fleshed-out. The movie was amazing.  In fact, it's almost shot-for-shot with the American movie (of course the Japanese movie was first ... so the American movie was benefiting from the amazing Japanese version).

As with many Asian horror films, the story is awesome - emotional, supernatural, heartbreaking.  The acting in this movie was very natural and warm, sometimes Japanese movie characters can seem very stylized and stereotypical.

We just happened to catch this on TV.  I'm so blown away that subtitled movies are being shown on TV now, like it's nothing.  Even one of the video stores we go to puts the Foreign new releases in with everything else.  Gotta love progress!

[photo taken 9-10-2006 in Chadd's Ford, PA]
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Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Phone is recommended

We caught the Korean movie Phone on Sundance Sunday night.  Thank you, Sundance, for showing movies subtitled, not dubbed.

Very scary, great mystery, creepy children, and lots of frightening hair.  Definitely worth staying up way-too-late to watch.

FYI, Korea is producing great movies, especially great horror movies.  Watch 'em if you got 'em.

[photo taken 12-23-2003 of Alice]
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Tuesday, November 28, 2006

The Asphalt Jungle is recommended

We got a huge haul of DVDs from our local going-out-of-business Tower Records.  They were 30% off, even the Criterion Collection!  That's better than Amazon.  We bought 5 boxed sets of DVDs, and some even came with books.

The Asphalt Jungle (1950) is in a boxed set of five Film Noir movies.  It is such an awesome movie. Each character is unique and interesting. The story is good and has twists and turns.  It was one of the first caper movies shown from the point-of-view of the burglars. You can tell that the censors were sensitive about showing criminals as sympathetic (and cops as crooked) because there is a big speech at the end about how there are all these great cops out there keeping the riff raff at bay.

Marilyn Monroe is in the movie for about a total of 5 minutes.  It was one of her first movies and she was given a fairly small part.   I think the other characters talk about her more than you see her.  It's the first movie in which I've seen her act.  She did a pretty good job of playing a self-absorbed sex kitten.  Surprise!

[photo taken 11-11-2005 in New York City]
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Sunday, November 12, 2006

Babel is recommended

We went to see Babel last night.  It's the latest movie from the team of director Alejandro González Iñárritu and writer, Guillermo Arriaga.  Their first movie together, Amores Perros is utterly amazing, and also includes the great actor Gael Garcí­a Bernal.

For a Hollywood movie, I'm impressed.  Compared to their other movies, it's not their best.  The camera work is amazing.  There is a lot of time in the film where people aren't talking, which I always appreciate.  The characters seemed more like caricatures than people, but I liked that everyone looked like a real person (except Cate Blanchet - I think she's a great actress, but she is gorgeous and flawless even when bleeding on the dirt floor of a Moroccan hut).

Some scenes aren't entirely believable, but when I walked out of the theater, I was loving the movie.  It's also a good movie for people who like to cry.

[photo taken 3-30-2002 in Utah]
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Saturday, November 11, 2006

Hail Mary is recommended

Hail Mary is a movie from 1985 by Jean-Luc Godard, one of the French New Wave directors.  The quote on the front of the DVD case is from the Pope, "Hail Mary deeply wounds the religious sentiments of believers."

The movie tells three concurrent stories.  The main one is of Mary and her virgin birth.  Godard puts Mary in contemporary society while staying faithful to the Biblical story.  Throughout the film, sound and images are used to create an environment where Godard conveys to us the struggle between body and soul and the path to accepting life's changes.

Godard often seems like a mad scientist who uses images and sounds, instead of beakers of different colored bubbling liquids, to formulate his fantastic creations.  What I love about Godard, is that his movies engage me.  They make me pay attention. They make me think. They touch me in a way that is beyond sound or images, even though those are the only tools he has to create a film.

There ia a making-of featurette on the DVD that shows Godard filming scenes that didn't get put in the movie ... it's as if he trimmed away everything he felt that was unnecessary and left us with the essence of the story.  In the featurette, which he directed, he says (this isn't verbatim), "People say that I am a film maker because the end product is a film.  But being a film maker is more than just making a film."  In Godard's case, I agree.

The DVD also includes a great short film, The Book of Mary, by Godard's collaborator, Anne-Marie Miéville.  In this film,  you follow the story of a girl whose parents are breaking up.

[photo taken 9-3-2005 in Philadelphia]
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Thursday, November 09, 2006

Calvaire is recommended

We rented Calvaire on DVD.  The title of this French horror movie translates to "the ordeal."  The name is apt.  Other words that describe this film: expressionistic, disturbing, brutal.

It's not a typical horror movie.  If you like David Lynch you'll love this movie.

[photo taken 6-11-2005 in California]
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Monday, November 06, 2006

One Missed Call is recommended

Last night we sat down to watch "One Missed Call" by Japanese director Takashi Miike, one of my favorite directors.  I was excited because it was a free On Demand movie through our digital cable.  What I didn't know was that it was dubbed, and not in English either.  After watching the first 10 seconds of the movie, I determined it was dubbed in Valley Girl.

A quick call to our local video store confirmed that they had a subtitled version in stock.  Whew. One of the best parts of watching a creepy Japanese horror film is listening to it in Japanese (moshi moshi - hi!).

Anyway, our late night run to the video store was worth it.  "One Missed Call" is scary, creepy, and has awesome effects.  By awesome effects, I don't mean lots of overt CG, I mean tastefully used, appropriate effects that don't interfere with the story or characters.

This movie has one of the best, grossest corpses in it.  As the corpse is walking around and attacking people, pieces of skin kinda slide off.  It seemed realistic and totally gross.  I loved it.

The story is good, too.  Right away we found holes in the premise, but they were immediately addressed in the movie.  There is nothing you can do if you get THE CALL.

And, as always, Takashi Miike delivered beautiful and stunning movie.  Every shot is carefully composed and the set design is amazing.  I just love the energy in his films.

[photo taken 8-14-2002 in New York City]
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Saturday, November 04, 2006

Lemming is recommended

We rented Lemming on DVD.  I really wanted to like this French movie more, because it's directed by Dominik Moll, the director of With a Friend like Harry ..., and because Charlotte Rampling is one of my favorite actors and she plays a character named Alice.

Charlotte plays a great crazy wife and is the highlight of this movie.  Andrew and I thought the "web cam volante," which means flying web cam, was hilarious.  It was funny to hear the actors keep saying, "french french french french web cam volante," especially since "With a Friend Like Harry ..." has a book named "Le Singe Volante" in it (The Flying Monkey).

The movie starts off strong, but loses ground later on.  Visually and technically, it's stunning.  The weakness seems to be the script.  It's not a bad movie, but it's not as good as I expected, considering everyone involved.

One review I saw said, "If you are a David Lynch buff, this one has your name on it and for the others: caution!"  I love David Lynch, so maybe that's why I feel like I can recommend this movie to other people.  I can appreciate it's weirdness in spite of it's weaknesses.

[photo taken 6-11-2005 in Philadelphia]
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Sunday, October 29, 2006

The Booth is recommended

The Booth is a Japanese movie that we rented last night.  The premise of a haunted radio studio is interesting and the movie took place mostly in that small cramped studio, which was ambitious.  I felt like the pacing was a little off and the end floundered a because of it, but the acting, the set, the and the premise more than make up for it.

[photo taken 6-16-2005 in Philadelphia]
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Monday, October 23, 2006

The Prestige is recommended

The Prestige is a great movie. Bowie is the best Tesla ever.

[photo taken 6-14-2005 in Philadelphia from our apartment window]
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Sunday, October 22, 2006

I just don't need none of that Mad Max bullshit

Yesterday we saw a movie that had a character who lived on a piece of desert and grew her own food (Solitude, I recommend it).  Tonight we were talking about how everything in the world is becoming digital and dependent on electricity, which leaves us with one point of failure for everything.  I mentioned that, although I despise hippies, I see the value in living in a place with solar panels, a water supply, and where you can grow your own food.  Andrew said, "Then you're just a target for the leather clad bikers."  Well then, I guess we'll need some guns, too.

[photo taken 6-11-2005 in New York City]

[title from the lyrics of "Bury me with it" by Modest Mouse from the album "Good News For People Who Love Bad News"]

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