Rust and Bone dares to ask the question: what is love like after getting your legs eaten off by an orca? Consequently, the answer is a muddled, spastic, violent set of truths that spring forth a series of events each more deliciously sadistic than the last. Moreover, Rust and Bone is relentlessly harsh and unforgiving despite being marketed as a love story. There is love worth pursuing and risks worth taking, but as is evident in the film, love is ultimately just pain. The highs and lows are so jarring, that it’s hard to fathom a positive resolution in sight. Yet, Rust and Bone is well worth the excruciating ride. There is no fairy tale ending to be had here, just pure unadulterated human interaction at it’s most primal. What a treat. (4.5/5)
In 2010 I watched 365 movies. In 2011 I watched 400. Now I just watch movies for fun.
I recently revisited this rarely talked about horror gem drunkenly the other night. I always held it in high regard especially given the fact that it gets lost in the mix when talking about the TCM series. Following the hilariously perfect TCM 2, TCM 3 features a baby face Viggo Moretensen and horror legend Ken Foree. It’s the same formula used in all the TCM movies, but there’s something uniquely quirky about part 3. For one, it was released at a period in time when heavy metal and horror went hand in hand. In fact there’s a classic scene where Foree and Mortensen are battling it out to some pretty heavy riffage brought to us by Wrath. Secondly, Leatherface is not the centerpiece of the movie but merely a supporting character, which I enjoyed. The movie stays true to it’s horror morays with blood packets busting open with every trigger pulling sequence. The family is expanded upon a little bit adding a little girl into the mix, but the real winner here is Mortensen in his role as Tex Sawyer —- quite easily the most handsome of the Sawyer clan in ANY TCM movie. Heavy metal, limb lopping, and chainsaws…what more could you want? (3.5/5)
With such star power names as Crystal, Caan, and Lundgren, “Small Apartments” manages to stay humble despite it’s brimming all-star cast.
The lead character Franklin Franklin, played by British superstar Matt Lucas, is an orphaned recluse with social anxiety and a wicked soda addiction. His jarring physical appearance is due in part to a “bowling-related accident” in which he lost the ability to grow hair anywhere on his body. Choosing to wear little more than a pair of white underwear and a series of wigs, Franklin’s unique sense of style seems to attract trouble his way. After accidentally killing his landlord during a rental dispute, Franklin’s only connection to the real world is through a series of tapes that his mentally unstable brother sends him in the mail equipped with toenail clippings.
Amidst daydreams of Switzerland whilst playing his alphorn (consult a “Ricola” commercial for any further questions), and spying on the girl across the street through a pair of binoculars, Franklin spends a majority of his day locked in his apartment seemingly content with his meager lifestyle. James Caan and Johnny Knoxville play Mr. Allspice and Tommy Balls, Franklin’s neighbors who are fed-up his incessant alphorn playing and overall introverted behavior. Despite being tormented by their oddball neighbor, both characters have their own set of unique debilitating social issues similarly to Franklin. Both are oblivious to the dead landlord in Franklin’s apartment but mainly cause both residents are confined to their own respective worlds.
In enters Billy Crystal who plays the role of Detective Walnut who is assigned to the murder case of Franklin’s landlord. Despite all evidence leaning towards Franklin’s involvement, he is never actually accused of the crime. Crystal’s character along with his small gang of cronies manage to single-handedly stunt the comedic growth of the film. Just when things seem to be coming to a comedic peak, there seems to be a cop-related scene that derails any and all momentum. The only source of laughs came from a merkin gag (consult “Urban Dictionary” for any further questions) which was sadly underutilized. Fortunately, the rest of the movie is quite the treat.
As most black comedies go, there is an aura of death that is revisited multiple times throughout the plot. If you lean towards a more morbid sense of humor, “Small Apartments” is definitely right up your alley. Yet, regardless of the film’s morbid disposition, there exists a sort of underdog story that blossoms into a surprising feel-good story. It’s hard to describe amidst the heavy emphasis on death. Yet, Franklin is the epitome of a born-to-lose type of character, and so it’s fulfilling to see him come out a winner by the end of the movie.
The DVD release is fairly bare bones when it comes to special features. There are two featurettes, both of varying use depending on your choice of lifestyle. The first of which is “How to Build a Gravity Bong” featuring Johnny Knoxville — pretty self explanatory. The second featurette is a short behind-the-scenes look at the movie — nothing really significant to note here. (3.5/5)
Charlie Sheen plays Charles Swan III, a 70’s caricature of himself whose womanizing ways have seemingly derailed any chance at true happiness as he grows older and more jaded. Detailing the inner workings of a graphic designer and self-proclaimed ladies man, A Glimpse Inside the Mind of Charles Swan III is a perpetual daydream as told by a broken-hearted horn dog. The film is highlighted by it’s many surrealistic fantasy montages as Charles Swan laments and recounts his sinful ways. A surprising early standout of 2013, Charles Swan is an undoubtedly wicked treat and current favorite movie of the year for me. Now I have to admit that I gave it a chance merely for the Murray-factor, but the film is as well rounded a comedy as any I’ve seen in a while. Directed by Roman Coppola, the movie as the look and feel of Wes Anderson only, you know…not pretentious and contrived. (4.5/5)
This, the fifth installment in the “Die Hard” franchise, is unfortunately the most uninspired entry to date. Despite all the anticipation for another sequel in the series, “A Good Day to Die Hard” finds Willis merely going through the motions delivering his patented McClane one-liners with an all time low-level of lethargy. Sure, there are a smattering of scenes here and there that really ramp up the action but the final product will leave you desiring more.
Clocking in at a mere 97 minutes, “A Good Day to Die Hard” is notably the shortest running “Die Hard” to date. In most instances this would be a relative non-issue, but the ending in particular felt hurried and the plot could have easily benefited from at least one more explosive showdown. Considering how the “Die Hard” franchise is hinged upon a series of false endings which eventually culminate in a grandiose explosion-riddled finale, it’s a real head-scratcher as to why this fifth installment failed to follow suit.
As was perfectly demonstrated in “Rocky Balboa”, some iconic 80′s heroes are simply never too old to have one last hurrah in them. Willis himself proved the same to be true with “Live Free or Die Hard”, an exceptionally efficient summer thrill-ride that breathed a fresh breath of air back into the series. Perhaps he was pushing his luck with a fifth installment because Willis is seemingly uninspired with his role as John McClane. Luckily, Australian bred actor Jai Courtney contributes an added layer of depth in the role of John’s estranged son Jack, as does Sebastian Koch playing the role of the resident bad guy in the film.
The plot is fairly one-dimensional. When John goes on search for his recluse son, he finds Jack imprisoned in a Moscow prison. Come to find out, Jack is actually a CIA operative hired to protect Yuri Komarov (Koch), a political prisoner who holds the key to a top secret Chernobyl file. Komarov is thus targeted by Chagarin, a high ranking Russian official and former partner who has the most to lose if the contents of the file were to be released. Ultimately, Komarov turns out to be the wolf in sheep’s clothing whose ultimate goal is to sell weapons grade uranium which is stored in an abandoned Chernobyl site. It is now up to the father and son McClane duo to spoil Komarov’s plans.
While I did enjoy the reprisal of the Red Scare threat and the 1980′s vibe that it evoked, the film is ultimately a hollow affair equipped with expensive explosions. Ostensibly, there are three varying parts that make up the movie. The opening and endings sequences are where the ridiculous action sequences transpire. The significantly smaller sliver of time in the middle is spent establishing a superficial relationship between father and estranged son. The running gag is that the McClane’s don’t hug, and this pointed tough guy act is predictably played upon throughout.
The extravagant opening car chase and over-the-top finale, while thrilling, are the only hallmarks of an otherwise lack-luster “Die Hard” entry. The rest of the movie is spent establishing meaningless character relationships and Willis constantly reminding us that he’s “on vacation”. Even his trademark “Yippee Ki-Yay” was delivered with such apathy that I barely noticed it had been uttered until after the fact. The use of special effects and the myriad of stunts are quite impressive to say the least. Yet, there’s hardly any of that classic McCLane charm that has sustained this series up to this point. If you care to see a hollow facade of a “Die Hard” movie than venture forth, but if you’re looking to be thrilled, cross your fingers and hope that the next one returns to true from…barring that “A Good Day to Die Hard” hasn’t effectively ended the series altogether. To go out on such a low-note would be disappointing. (2.5/5)
It’s hard to get through the terribly contrived script and predictability of Mama’s plot and come out satisfied in the end. Despite Guillermo del Toro’s blessing, Mama is just barely good enough to hold your attention and yet still boring enough to be all but forgettable in the long run. Adapting what was once a short film of the same name, Mama is your typical apparition tale ripe with all the same cliches that have plagued the ghost sub-genre for many a decade now. There are a handful of shots that are truly engrossing and even a lot of the effects were well-played (albeit heavy on the CGI). Yet, there’s just not a cohesive enough plot nor are there any characters worth caring about long enough to build up tension. The lead couple in this is just downright terrible. Starring Jamie Lannister from Game of Thrones fame (whaddup) and Jessica Chastain playing the role of his uber punk girlfriend; the duo are a vapid juggernaut the likes of which I won’t soon forget. (2.5/5)
Freeloaders was screened in 2011 at a private party in Hollywood and thusly buried in obscurity for the next two years. Unfortunately, this Broken Lizard effort may be the worst to date. The premise alone is so undeniably bad that it’s hard to even give the movie an honest watch all the way through. When Adam Duritz of SIGH…Counting Crows fame let’s a group of freeloading narcissists crash at his plush pad rent free it is up to him to kick them out when he gets hitched and decides to sell the house. I couldn’t even make that plot up if I tried. It wasn’t all bad I suppose, Dave Foley from Kids in the Hall is in it playing a caricature of himself in hilarious fashion. There’s also a pretty great scene with all the Broken Lizard dudes filming a porno shoot. Yet, there was just too much needless focus on the romantic interest and not enough Foley gags to make up for it. (2.5/5)
An unofficial follow up to Im Sang-soo’s The Housemaid, The Taste of Money is a biting social commentary taking aim at what it means to be rich and powerful in South Korea. The movie is incredibly slow paced and pseudo-cerebral, but ultimately just boring. There’s rich people smacking titties around with stacks of hundreds and pouring champagne like water, but when the movie finally reaches it’s anti-climactic end there’s not a notable character of worth. Despite being a supposed send-up of the Korean elite, The Taste of Money is simply a window into a world that few people are apart of. It’s not a particularly glaring or critical perspective, but rather just a straight-forward look at the hollow lives of a rich family and their seemingly mundane conflicts. I will say, although blandly conceptualized the actual film itself is beautifully and expertly shot. Yet, just when I thought I was starting to enjoy the movie I was brought back down to Earth by a singular character delivering one of the most awful acting performances I’ve ever bare witnessed to. It’s really quite a feet to see someone haphazardly deliver lines in not one but TWO separate languages (both Korean and English), nearly derailing an otherwise okay movie. (2.5/5)
My first (but certainly not last) Asylum based production of the year is the DTV adaptation of Hansel & Gretel. Not to be confused with Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters which is due out later this month, this gloriously shoddy version of the classic Grimm fairytale has everything I’ve come to expect from the fine people over at The Asylum. Starring the incomparable Dee Wallace (better known as the mom from E.T.) in the role of the witch, this modern day interpretation is downright preposterous in all the right ways. Let’s see here, piss-poor acting —- check. Hansel and Gretel cast straight out of a Gap ad —- check. Inbred Texas Chainsaw lookin’ family —- triple check. There’s a cool dream sequence where Hansel cannibalizes himself and pulls out his own intestines and ole’ Dee Wallace gets stabbed in the eye with a mini-crucifix, but there’s not much else exciting to note. Yup, everything seems to be in order here. Another par for the course mockbuster for The Asylum. (2.5/5)
Making waves at a select number of film festivals over the summer, The Baytown Outlaws is finally getting a theatrical US release, albeit a limited one. Due out in theaters on January 11th, this movie stands to be an early 2013 standout. Best described as an action comedy, The Baytown Outlaws follows a renegade group of brothers who enact their own brand of justice upon criminals all across Alabama. Upon being hired to kidnap a young boy from the grips of a drug lord, the brothers find themselves in hot pursuit by a number of gangs each more ridiculous than the last. Amidst a gang of prostitute biker girls, a Mad Max style group of post-apocalyptic road warriors, and an arrow wielding Native American gang there’s plenty of action to be had here. With Billy Bob Thornton and Michael Rapaport making appearances as well, the movie is a well-rounded goofy action romp. For fans of chase films and schlocky action flicks. (3.5/5)