Friday, December 31, 2004

Commentary Review - Wimbledon

Richard Loncraine (Director) and Paul Bettany (Peter Colt) do a delightful two-fer. This is a fairly craft focussed commentary detailing acting and camera work. Paul Bettany is far more restrained in this commentary then he was in his pairing with Brian Helgeland on the "A Knight's Tale" commentary. Richard and Paul come of more as a mentor/grasshopper pairing than a true friends pairing, and you won't find any dirt in this discussion whatsoever. This is a by the book, totally PC, we're all one big happy family conversation. I've heard so many commentaries that sound just like this that I think there's a single script they all use entitled "Keeping it Clean and Offending No One" by Ian A. Lawyer.

In any event the camera work, most of it derivative, is excellent so Loncraine's comments are pretty interesting. Although, it's difficult to watch the Matrix timeline technique which once proudly underscored fight scenes and sold fine products used in a, oh god I can barely say it, a romantic comedy.

Thursday, December 30, 2004

Resident Evil: Apocalypse -- Commentary Review

You have your choice of three commentaries on this film. I'm choosing to review the actor's commentary because as far as I'm concerned the directing and writing on this film are a ginormous how-not-to. Of course, since I bought this DVD of my own violition after watching the first one you know my standards are pretty damn low.

The actor's commentary features Milla Jovovich, Sienna Guillory, and Oded Fehr. They banter a bit, and discuss working conditions on the Resident Evil set. Milla Jovovich brings up one interesting bit of trivia: Jared Harris who plays Dr. Ashford in the film also stared with Milla in a little known film called Dummy.

I can't say enough positive things about the film Dummy. I loved the low key character study. The performances were top notch, including Milla's, which was inspired, the writing was excellent, and not even once was I confused about what was going on.

None of which I can say about this film.

Overall, Milla and Oded keep their commentary at the tone warranted by the film, while Sienna seems to be convinced she's actually providing commentary on Schindler's List.

This commentary is a good time. In fact is seems more well thought and executed than the film itself.

Thursday, December 23, 2004

Shaun of the Dead and the Hey Day of Zombie Films

First of all, hands down, no doubt about it, holy crap, yeah baby, Shaun of the Dead is the best Zomedy of all time! A good zomedy must combine the formalized conventions of zombie movies, with the notable homages to zombie films of the past, and it MUST break new ground.

For those of you not familiar with the rules of the zombie world, I humbly suggest this book, The Zombie Survival Guide : Complete Protection from the Living Dead. I have also found the documentary, "When Zombie's Attack," to be an invaluable resource.

It is important to remember that all zombies are not created equally!
1. Voodoo zombies are created by an extract of the puffer fish and some black magic.
2. Space zombies are created from meteor showers or in some cases wicked bad aliens.
3. Science zombies are created by mad scientists typically as really, really bad side effect of that immortality drug they've been working on.
4. Toxic zombies are created by chemicals
5. Plague zombies are created by PETA
6. Space/time continuum zombies are created by their time traveling descendents

The one thing to remember is that zombies all want to eat you. Whether it's you on a platter for dinner (Night of the Living Dead) or you tied to a stretcher for oral sex (Reanimator), the end goal is disgusting.

A lot of films have exploited the zombie, because let's face it the make-up is easy and even Keven Costner can act well enough to pull of a convincing zombie (Open Range). Over the years, filmakers have gone to great lengths to add some spice to the zombie genre. We've had beatnick zombies (The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed-Up Zombies!!?), vampire zombies, also know as bi-zombies (Lifeforce), a ridiculus number of nazi zombies (La Tumba de los muertos vivientes, Zombie Holocaust), zombie pets (Pet Semetary), zombie kids (Pet Semetary, The Child, The Children, and ofcourse, The Children of the Living Dead).

Often the undead are horney as well as hungry; although they are often torn between eating their beloved and, well, eating their beloved. Zombie Honeymoon is the most recent of the entries into this category of film. But before zombie honeymoon you had Night of the Living Dead, part 5; Cemetary Man; and Reanimator, and who could forget the incredibly disgusting Za ginipiggu 6: Peter no akuma no joi-san?

If you love zombie films. I suggest the following:

Angry Beavers, The
Courage the Cowardly Dog
Kolchak: The Night Stalke
28 Days Later...
Adventures of the Flying Cadets
Alien Dead )
Batman, The
Beyond, The
Bijo no harawata
Biker Zombies
Bio Zombie
Boneyard, The
Bowery at Midnight
Braindead (1992)
Buque maldito, El
Cabin, The (1998)
Cast a Deadly Spell
Cheerleader Ninjas
Child, The
Children of the Living Dead
Children, The
Chilling, The
Chopper Chicks in Zombietown
The Collegians Are Go!!
Corpses Are Forever
Curse of Monkey Island, The
Curse of the Screaming Dead, The
Dawn of the Dead
Day of the Dead
Dead and Buried
Dead Creatures
Dead Don't Die, The (1975) (TV)
Dead Flesh
Dead Hate the Living!, The
Dead Heat (1988)
Dead Next Door, The (1988)
Diamond Ninja Force
Disturbing Behavior (1998)
Domination: Evil On Queen Street 2 (2005)
Double Feature (1999)
Dr. Terror's Gallery of Horrors (1966)
Eat the Rich: The Cannibal Murders
lEliminator, The (1996)
Escape from the Dead
Escape from the Dead 2: Still Escaping
Evil Dead II
Evil Dead, The (1981)
Flesh for the Beast
Flesh Freaks
Geung si sin sang
Ghost Breakers, The (1940)
Gorex: The Zombi Horror Picture Show (1997)
Gory Gory Hallelujah
Graveyard Alive
Hallow's End
Harry Knuckles and the Treasure of the Aztec Mummy (1999)
Heavy Metal (1981)
Hell Hunters
Highway to Hell (1992)
Hollywood Mortuary (1998)
House of the Dead
Human Duplicators, The (1965)
I Was a Teenage Zombie
I Was a Zombie for the F.B.I. (1982)
I'll See You in My Dreams
I, Zombie: A Chronicle of Pain (1998)
Ijintachi tono natsu (1988)
Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed-Up Zombies!!?, The (1964)
Incubo sulla città contaminata (1980)
Into the Woods ... (1998)
Invasión de los muertos, La (1973)
Isle of the Snake People (1971)
Jesse James Meets Frankenstein's Daughter (1966)
Josie and the Pussycats
King of the Zombies (1941)
Land of the Dead (2005)
Laughing Dead, The (1989)
Legion of the Night (1995)
Let Me Be Your Band
Linnea Quigley's Horror Workout (1990)
Lock 'n' Load (1990)
Mark of the Astro-Zombies
Martin (1977)
Meat Market
Midnight Skater
My Boyfriend's Back
Más allá del terror (1980)
Natas: The Reflection
Necro Files 2
Ngau wan gong tau (1976)
Night Life (1989/I)
Night Life, The
Night of a Thousand Screams
Night of the Comet
Night of the Creeps
Night of the Dead
Night of the Living
Night of the Living Dead
Night of the Zombies
Night Slaves
4. Noche de los brujos, La (1974)
Notti erotiche dei morti viventi, Le (1980)
Oigyeingwa kongkong gangshi (1989)
Orgía de los muertos, La (1973)
Outer Space Jitters (1957)
Pantera - Vulgar Video
Pet Sematary II (1992)
Plague of the Zombies, The (1966)
Plan 9 from Outer Space (1959)
Planescape: Torment (1999) (VG)
Premutos - Der gefallene Engel (1997)
Prince of Darkness
Punk Rock Holocaust
Raw Force (1982)
Redneck Zombies
Resident Evil
Resurrection Game, The
Return of the Living Dead Part II (1988)
Revenge of the Zombies (1943)
Revolt of the Zombies (1936)
Rotten Shaolin Zombies
Sazan aizu (1991)
Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island (1998)
Serpent and the Rainbow, The (1988)
Shaun of the Dead
Sheng hua te jing zhi sang shi ren wu
Shock Waves (1977)
Sobrenatural (1996)
Spooks Run Wild (1941)
5. Striker Bob (1997)
Stuff, The
Sugar Hill (1974)
Surf II
Tales From the Quadead Zone
Teenage Zombie House Massacre
Teenage Zombies (1959)
Teeth of Doom
Tombs of the Blind Dead
Trancers 6
Ultimo uomo della Terra, L' (1964)
Unearthly, The (1957)
Versus (2000/II)
Video Dead
Virus (1980)
Voodoo Dawn (1990)
When Zombies Attack!!
White Zombie (1932)
Wild Zero
Within the Woods (1978)
Wu long tian shi zhao ji gui (1982)
Za ginipiggu 6: Peter no akuma no joi-san (1990)
Zhong gui
Zombi 2 (1979)
Zombi 3 (1988)
Zombi Holocaust (1980)
Zombie '90: Extreme Pestilence (1991)
Zombie Campout
Zombie Cop (1991)
Zombie Cult Massacre (1998)
Zombie Holocaust (1995)
Zombie Honeymoon
Zombies (1964)
Zombies of Mora Tau (1957)
Zombies of the Stratosphere (1952)
Zombies on Broadway (1945)
Zora la vampira

Virtual X-Mas

So, I'm cheap and I didn't get you all any gifts and shit. But, I still love you and it's the thought that counts, right? So, for the second year, I did some virtual shopping. If I missed you, drop me a line and I'll find something after I get back from Chicago. VIRTUAL GIFTUS RULES!

For Ava


For Jennah


For Jamie


For WC, NC and CX

weex: UNWRAP ME!
CX (so's you don't grow up to be like NC): UNWRAP ME!

For Ozy


For Sean


For kisa


For Tim from Horseshoes and Handgrenades

UNWRAP THIS! (and boy I wish I could afford it for ya) UNWRAP THIS!

For Huneybee


For Stian


For Nord


For emmy


For Chrisloth_Tabor


For my dear, departed friend James...(COME BACK, YOU BUTTHOLE!!!)


Sunday, December 19, 2004

Now here's a little bit of heaven:

There is a new region 2 Conan: The Destroyer DVD available with a commentary by Sarah Douglas!!

Read a review of the commentary HERE!

Click here


Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Commentary Review -- I, Robot

This Alex Proyas (director), Akiva Goldsman (final writer) pairing was thought provoking. They focus quite strongly on the writing of the work with small divertions into other comments on the actors. You want to learn how to write a film, these two guys are brilliant. I would say this commentary is the best "on the writing process" commentary I've ever heard. On other hand if you actually look at the final product and compare it with their commentary you might say these two are so sharp they cut theyselves.

I, Robot itself is a blend of detective drama and action set against a Robot filled future. So Proyas is attempting to blend character work, drama, detective clues, thought provoking future fiction, and a huge honking load of CGI into a cohesive product.

There's a bunch of embedded clues in the scenes which aren't going to help the average viewer a damn because the scenes are flying by at an action pace. Plus, to add to the "detectivy" feel of the film the character reveals are established in a "fractally" equivalent manner to the embedded clues. So now, the viewer has to track character clues and detective clues while the camera work is whizzing by and the CGI is luring your eye away from important information. PLUS, the emotional beats are set in dyads so you have to track those fuckers too. I mean damn, I thought I was watching a film, not engaging in an advanced class of information retention!!! The essential philosophical constructs are also embedded, and never explicitly stated. And you may begin to wonder, with everything being embedded in the film was anything explicit? Sure -- the huge honking assload of CGI.

"Are we making it too complex for a mass audience. Are we making it too rich and detailed?" Alex Proyas asks this question at the end of the film's commentary. Dudes, I felt like I needed cliff notes.

Alex Proyas is kind of known for highly stylized dark films, and I, Robot is a step in a different direction. You can feel his uncertainty in his hyper-control of the stylishness. And with Akiva you can feel him jockying each tick of the scene into place until it feels perfect. Once again you get the feel of people working the parts and not the whole, and as you listen to this commentary you can really sense why that happened.

It's no wonder that many viewers felt this film was a lame, shallow, summer action flick when in fact it was a compelling work of future fiction. Boys, you only got 90 or so minutes, you shouldn't try to make every damn film, you should try to make only one film.

On the other hand, these two guys are a learning experience to listen to. I am simply in awe. These two love science fiction, and boy I thought I was a geekling, but I got NOTHING on these two.

Sunday, December 12, 2004

Stills from the "climax" of The Brown Bunny

I warn you ahead of time, there's nudity involved. But, if you know anything about the end, you know what's going on. No, the money shot is not amongst these framegrabs. The headline was a joke, you nit.
Click here to see Chloe Sevigny make like Linda Lovelace!

Friday, December 10, 2004

Taegukgi Review!

Back in February, I posted a trailer for a Korean movie called Taegukgi.
I've finally seen it.
All I have to say is...
Jin-tae (played by Jang Dong-gun) is a simple man. He shines and repairs shoes and dreams of opening a shop to make shoes. He's engaged and his brother's ready to go to college.
With the outbreak of the Korean War, his brother Jin-seok (Won Bin) is drafted into the army. Jin-tae does what he thinks a good brother should do and volunteers so he can keep his little brother safe.
Once their in, Jin-tae hears that if he wins the Medal of Honor, he can have his brother sent home. So, Jin-tae begins volunteering for missions. Suicide missions. Stupid stuff that could get a man killed.
Thing is. He keeps succeeding. He survives again and again. He becomes more than a good soldier. He becomes, through the horrors of war, a monster. Jin-seok is shocked and appalled by his brother's change.
Taegukgi is perhaps the most horrific combat put to film. Imagine the first 10 minutes of Saving Private Ryan extended to 2 hours out of a 2 1/2 hour movie. Then, add in all the blood and gore of combat, since that was missing from Mr Spielberg's opus.
This isn't a soft sell. There's no melodrama. There's no Tom Hanks. Things don't end all happy. This is...war.
War is ugly. War is terrible. War is something that those that fight it don't wish to inflict on others.
War changes a person. In Jin-tae's case, it tears him to shreds. He loses everything...his brother, his sweetheart, his sanity and eventually his humanity.
For Jin-seok, the horror of war is only eclipsed by the horror of what it can do to a human being. Seeing his brother change into a remorseless killer devastates him. What he doesn't realize is that Jin-tae has kept his eye on the prize the entire time. Jin-tae still wants nothing more than to send his brother safely home. Nothing matters to him but Jin-seok's life.
What happens when you lose everything that you think matters? What happens when everything seems lost? For both of these characters, war is a madness that infects and destroys and annihilates. Glory and fame can be won in war, but at what cost? What can be sacrificed in order to do good -- and if you do sacrifice it, what does that make you? The movie raises many questions and leaves no easy answers.
Taegukgi haunts you with its imagery, its stark cinematography and its tragically beautiful acting. It's honest, bold and horrible to watch. You feel, at the end of it, that you've survived a campaign, that you've trudged through the mud, and that you're as scarred as the limbless veterans in the military hospital.
Amazing movie. Not the favorite thing I've seen this year...but the best.

Taegukgi resources!
Here's the official site (Good luck getting it to open)
Here's the trailer...
Here's a review from a Korean site...
Here's a review from Ain't It Cool News...
Here's a short blurb from the Hollywood Reporter

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Blade 2!

I just saw the new Blade last night, and I know I don't usually comment on actual films, but I got to got to got to say DAMN that film kicked ass.

A lot of critics are nailing this film to the wall for its uneveness, its shoddy editing, Wesley Snipes' crappy acting, and Ryan Reynolds' campy Van Wilder the Vampire Killer act. I DON'T CARE. I loved all of it. I dug the uneveness. I thought Wesley did a fairly good job, and his delivery in at least two points in the film had me howling. Ryan Reynolds can do no wrong, and I wish I had brought a pad to jot down some of those one liners.

My only complaint was with the editing of the fight scenes, and the poor establishing shots at nearly every location.

Apart from that I had a great time, I left the theatre satisfied, and I didn't have that niggling sensation, as I often do at the end of comic based genre films, that something was missing. Seriously, what more can you ask?

Oh yeah, when can we get the DVD?