Showing posts from March, 2011

Turtles Are Surprisingly Fast Swimmers

Title: Turtles Are Surprisingly Fast Swimmers
Rating: 3.5/5
Genre: Comedy, Drama
Starring: Juri Ueno, Yu Aoi
Director: Satoshi Miki
Language: Japanese

It may have been a while since I last dived into this directors work, having previously been enchanted by his gentle brand of comedy in “Adrift in Tokyo” and “Instant Swamp,” and this trademark style is once again at play here. Following the story of Suzume (literally translated as 'Sparrow') and her mundane life as a housewife, she feels her life descending into monotony; conversations with her husband degraded to nothing more than “have you fed the turtle,” her childhood friend often too busy to visit and no other events to break up her to day to day life. Stumbling upon a wanted poster for spies, she decides to call and apply for the position hoping for a little bit more excitement, and what follows turns her life around in an entirely unassuming way.

The comedy isn't as obvious as many others, even compared to his own wor…


Title: Moon
Rating: 4.5/5
Genre: Sci-Fi, Drama, Mystery
Starring: Sam Rockwell, Kevin Spacey
Director: Duncan Jones

Some know me as something of a sci-fi fan but I seem to belong that dying breed of those who enjoy intelligent sci-fi, which always struck me as a little puzzling given the wealth of possibilities open for exploration and yet rarely utilised. Increasingly I find my interest is more readily captivated by novels and films gone by than the increasingly prevalent tendency to rely upon action and special effects to make themselves known, which is all precisely what made this sound so intriguing. Following the tale of Sam Bell (Rockwell), an astronaut left in isolation aboard a lunar base in charge of maintaining the operation of He3 harvesters used to supply the Earth with its growing demand for energy, he soon falls prey to a crash which leaves him incapacitated aboard his rover; his form of transport across the moons desolate surface. Awakening back aboard the base without …

Slasher Hunter

Title: Slasher Hunter (2011)
Rating: 3/5
Genre: Horror, Comedy
Starring: Chad Phillips, Derek Rothermund, Ryan Sullivan
Director: Steve Rudzinski
Duration: 35 mins

Four pals are planning to have a great weekend of sex and brews in an old cabin in the woods. Now, I know what you’re thinking: “this is the exact set up to every slasher movie from ‘79 to ‘99; this can’t end well.” Well our group of campers have thought of that, that’s why they brought sci-fi nerd Lee along for the ride who carries within him the so-called “survivor gene.” This special gene helps prevent him from being the unfortunate victim of any slasher maniacs that may be lurking about. Unfortunately this gene is also highly coveted by a group of the most dastardly slashers around: Frank, Larry, Jay, Charles, Pleatherface, and Puzzle (I didn’t say their names were very dastardly, did I?). It’s up to a renegade, federally-employed Slasher Hunter to thwart the slashers’ plan and save Lee and his friends before it’s too la…

Naked Massacre

Title: Naked Massacre (aka Born for Hell) (1976)
Rating: 3/5
Genre: Exploitation, Drama
Starring: Mathieu Carriere
Director: Denis Héroux
Duration: 92 mins

A man returning home from fighting in Vietnam is forced to make a stop in Belfast (apparently Belfast is in between Vietnam and the US). Not being able to secure a transport to the States, he bides his time by playing pinball in pubs, making friends with a Vietnamese man, and ordering one beast of a hooker, all while the religious conflict between the Catholics and the Protestants wages in the streets. Having so much free time on his hands, he recognizes more and more the deep hatred he has for women. Not being able to maintain his pleasantness any longer, he decides to make an unannounced appearance at a boarding house full of young nurses he passes by on his trips to the pub. Initially planning on robbing the nurses to afford a ship home, he takes the night to rape, humiliate, and murder the eight women that reside there.

No doubt…

Pink Flamingos

Title: Pink Flamingos
Rating: 4/5
Genre: Comedy, Exploitation
Starring: Divine, Danny Mills, David Lochary
Director: John Waters

“Kill everyone now! Condone first degree murder! Advocate cannibalism! Eat shit! Filth is my politics! Filth is my life!”

John Waters is a man that before I had seen this, I already knew enough about to earn my respect. One of the kings of 'midnight movies' in the states, this film had been banned by almost every self-respecting film censor board (naturally Japan let it pass, except reputedly using a red dot to censor all the nudity) and whilst initially only shown to limited audiences, it nonetheless went on to achieve cult fame. And it's not exactly difficult to see why; a man brought up on films devoted to breaking down boundaries, exploring the taboo and wishing to only further push the limits of bad taste, and now this film is seen as a pivotal film in doing just that. Designed from the outset to outright offend in every way, the context of t…

Battle: LA

Title: Battle: LA
Rating: 1.5/5
Genre: Action, Sci-Fi
Starring: Aaron Eckhart, Michelle Rodriguez
Director: Jonathan Liebesman

I've always maintained that if you toss enough money at a project, it's hard to get a film on either end of the spectrum. You won't have the creative control to make a true gem, but a couple of decent actors and plenty of well designed effects can prevent even the biggest disaster from being as bad as it could have been. Battle: LA is a perfect example to prove my point. The flick starts with fifteen minutes of getting around as many of the characters as possible so that you can learn their faces so that when one dies you remember who he was and why you should care. Doesn't matter really, you probably wont. Soon they go off to fight the aliens that look like a mechanized bastard child of ET and an overgrown stick insect with the job of rescuing some civilians too stupid to run when they were told to. They find them after shooting in the vague d…

Black Swan

Title: Black Swan
Rating: 3.5/5
Genre: Pyschological Drama
Starring: Natalie Portman, Mila Kunis, Vincent Cassell
Director: Darren Aronofsky

I often enter a film with certain expectations of what it should deliver, but its here that I find myself somewhat in the dark. My hopes for a return to form for a director that has disappointed on too many occasions is certainly present, but a film about ballet? Is this to be a re-imagining of “The Wrestler?” A film with heart but with too little originality to the script to be anything more than a mild success? With the popularity of ballet in decline, the director, Thomas LeRoy (Cassell), decides on a re-imagining of the done-to-death “Swan Lake,” but take a bold new interpretation of the classic tale; the woman imprisoned in a beautiful white swan and requiring true love to be set free, but her prince is seduced by her evil twin, the black swan, and when she learns of her fate kills herself. It is Nina Sayers (Portman) who is picked for the ro…

American Movie

Title: American Movie
Rating: 4/5
Genre: Documentary
Starring: Mark Borchardt
Director: Chris Smith

This is a film about the American Dream. Well, not the American Dream but the new, updated, modern equivalent: the dream of being a great film director and creating the next “Night of the Living Dead.” And you don't need to be an American to know about their amateur film culture, where anyone with a camera and an idea can take a shot at it (and usually toss in some tits and a deranged killer and call it a cult slasher classic) and it's one of those things that I love about this modern age: that anyone with the drive and determination can take a chance at filming their dream. (Unless you're Charles E. Cullen of “Killer Klowns from Kansas on Krack” fame. If you happen to be reading this, dude, please stop. You've tried so many times and failed so horribly Uwe Boll is envious). This is the tale of such a man; he's certainly broke and far from the smartest man around, rop…

Prisoner 701: Sasori

Title: Prisoner 701: Sasori
Rating: 3.5/5
Genre: Action
Starring: Miki Mizuno, Dylan Kuo, Emme Wong, Nana Natsume
Director: Joe Ma
Language: Japanese

It's hard to mention the genres of Women-in-Prison or Pinky Violence without at some point coming across a reference to the 'Female Prisoner 701' trilogy, and indeed they served as a welcome introduction to the classic 70s Japanese exploitation cinema that I've since explored more thoroughly, and so when news of a reboot of the well known franchise emerged, I knew it was only a matter of time until it fell into my hands. Intriguingly constructed as a collaboration between both Japanese and Chinese production companies, this was to be no small budget affair, and with talent from both countries converging it certainly filled me with promise, but this is ultimately a very different film. The original was dark and gritty, filled with sadism and gratuitous nudity and delivered by Meiko Kaji, an actress for whom this film would…


Title: Machete
Rating: 3.5/5
Genre: Action, Thriller
Starring: Danny Trejo, Michelle Rodriguez, Jessica Alba, Steven Seagal, Robert de Niro, Lindsay Lohan
Director: Robert Rodriguez

When Tarantino and Rodriguez came out with grindhouse, the overwhelming response for his short mock trailer to be turned into a feature length film in its own right was such that when finally questioned upon it directly during a public appearance, he resolved to grant the wish of the fans. Reputedly having written it shortly after “Desperado” way back in '95, it would seem that it wasn't only the fans that were interested in seeing it brought to life; roping in the likes of De Niro, Alba, Lohan, Michelle Rodriguez (no relation), and Seagal, as well as of course Danny Trejo, reprising his role as the now infamous Machete (a role he first played in “Spy Kids.” No, seriously) to form a rather impressive cast list. And whilst the director has made his missteps in the past, with “Planet Terror” in his re…