Oh hey, it's Jaws, but the shark is a swarm of accidentally genetically altered super yellow jackets and the beach festival is a burger cook-off sponsored by a Southern barbecue sauce magnate as played by Tim “Terrific” Thomerson.
No, wait, now I made the film sound rather good, when it is in fact an early example of those SyFy originals that just don't seem to understand which parts of their plots they can treat carelessly, and which they need to treat seriously, leading to a film that is so dumb you might confuse it with a parody of its kind of horror movie, if not for the fact that none of its jokes are funny, and no moment of idiocy paid for with any sort of cleverness.
Swarmed is a film that mostly impresses by how little anyone involved seems to care about their craft, with Miguel Tejada-Flores's script containing not a single thought – either of its own or borrowed from somewhere else -, nor a single fun idea, while slavishly following the usual mechanics of the sub-genre (we can't have anyone watching die of a heart attack when not everything in the movie is completely predictable), while Paul Ziller's - a man who really can do better in the SyFy movie realm - direction never bothers to even try to get a grip on the clichéd, meandering plot. Ziller is certainly not attempting to distract viewers from the idiot plot proceedings by doing anything imaginative or fun, and goes for the sort of competence that is too boring even in the context of lowered expectations I bring to my SyFy movie.Technorati-Markierungen: canadian movies,american tv,in short,syfy vs the mynd,horror,paul ziller,tim thomerson
1914. Suffragette and all-purpose feminist Sonya Winter (Diana Rigg) attempts to break into that vestige of the patriarchy we know as journalism. To reach her goal, she finds out how to contact the elusive international group of assassin’s known as The Assassination Bureau, and proposes to make contact with them and write about it to Lord Bostwick (Telly “Most British Man Alive” Savalas), owner of quite a popular London newspaper. Even a bit to Miss Winter’s surprise, Bostwick agrees.
Soon, Miss Winter finds herself in front of the boss of The Assassination Bureau (Limited), charming crazy man Ivan Dragomiloff (Oliver Reed). Because she’s a public minded person with a sarcastic streak, Miss Winter declares she wishes to hire the Assassination Bureau to kill one Ivan Dragomiloff. Dragomiloff agrees to take on the job, because he thinks his organization has fallen far from its former ideal of just killings for money to just killing for money, and having a kind of mass duel between himself and the regional leaders of the organization – as played by people like Curd Jürgens and Philippe Noiret – would be a good way to clean up their act.
What Miss Winter doesn’t know is that Lord Bostwick is actually the vice chairman of the Bureau and this is his – rather idiotic – plan to get himself on the chairman’s seat. From here on out, it’s all Miss Winter following and romancing Ivan around the world (he’s no fool though, and soon just takes her with him, because she’s Diana Rigg in 1969), Ivan donning ridiculous costumes to kill people in ridiculous ways, and Telly Savalas and Curd Jürgens chewing scenery in the most enthusiastic manner.
The Assassination Bureau isn’t one of director Basil Dearden’s best works, but it is quite an entertaining black comedy that generally is at its best when it lets house favourites Oliver Reed and Diana Rigg – here quite at the heights of their powers - do their respective things while various European character actors around them gloat, die, and explode (not necessarily in this order) in more or less effective ways.
All this takes place in fine, stylized and colourful sets and locations, with Dearden milking everything he gets his camera on for purposefully ridiculous and clichéd local and temporal colour, clearly basing the film’s world not on the actual 1910s but on the pop cultural idea of them, leaving us with a film that contains an awesome (in the old sense of the word) bordello that defies description in – of course – Paris, a pretty gondolier who sings a pre-recorded piece of schmaltz after dropping off the bodies his lover (frequent giallo actress Annabella Incontrera) has poisoned, and a finale that sees a European peace conference threatened by a bomb carrying zeppelin. It’s quite impossible for me to argue with these things, particularly when they are presented with as much ironic delight and verve as Dearden shows here.
In fact, Dearden is so convincing a director I found it easy to ignore two of the film’s three main flaws. Firstly, the fact that the film’s idea of humour can be more broad and slapstick-y than I generally prefer, with rather a lot of these “comical chases” I usually only read about; though most of them end with dead people, so that’s still quite alright.
Secondly, it’s a bit of a shame how little the film really does with its historical background. Even when it (rather tastelessly) integrates the actual starting occasion of World War I in slightly fictionalized form (with added blood sausage), there’s never the impression it actually has something to say about the historical era it is taking place in. Again, it seems to be more interested in the era as pop cultural colour than as anything deeper.
Thirdly, and quite impossible to overlook, is the sad fact that the film gives all the swashbuckling action scenes (and, despite the wrong historical era, this is very much a swashbuckling comedy in its nature) to Reed, with Rigg fortunately not cast as a helpless girlie yet also generally side-lined when it comes to the action. Which is a bit (or a mountain) of a shame, really.
Still, The Assassination Bureau is a highly enjoyable bit of British humour that doesn’t contain one boring second, and that certainly counts for a lot in my book, flaws or no flaws.Technorati-Markierungen: british movies,reviews,comedy,adventure,basil dearden,oliver reed,diana rigg,telly savalas,curd jürgens,philippe noiret,annabella incontrera
Marked Gatiss's semi-episodic TV three-parter of stories in the tradition of the classic supernatural tale is a fine demonstration that even a talented writer with an obvious love, and quite deep knowledge, of the genre he’s working in will not necessarily produce a story in it that's actually all that great.
It's not just that Gatiss's approach here is a bit too conservative for my taste. I have seen, read and heard everything in Crooked House many times before, and enjoyed it, and would probably still have enjoyed it again even if it didn't add anything new at all to the genre. The problem lies with an execution where only the most obvious way to set-up and solve a situation is taken, where the so-called plot twists (an unnecessary thing at the best of times) are made particularly useless through their obviousness and - sorry - lameness. Crooked House's slavish adherence to tradition except for the existence of gay people (but don't you worry, it's not that the series does anything with them) ignores everything that's subversive about the British ghost story and turns it lifeless; if the British supernatural tale were an animal, Crooked House would rather prefer the stuffed and dead version to the living, breathing thing.
Being who I am, I'd still be able to find a lot of enjoyment in this subservient approach to tradition, but the lifelessness of Gatiss's script continues through to direction without any visual imagination, sets that lack any atmosphere, and acting on the theatrical and stiff side, because people in the past clearly talked liked people in the novels of the past. In combination, this number of flaws doesn't add up to something horrible, or unwatchable, but rather to something pointless.Technorati-Markierungen: british tv,horror,in short,mark gatiss,damon thomas
Because he's writing a book about Project MKUltra, writer James Hirsch (Michael McMillian) acquires a sample of one the project's experimental drugs, and decides to test it out on himself. Things go very wrong indeed for James, for the drug doesn't just seem to open the doors of perception. James disappears, leaving behind blood, some video fragments of his unfortunate experiment and a sober control guy who will disappear too, just a few days later.
James's friend, the journalist Anne (Katia Winter) desperately wants to find out what really happened the day it all went wrong and begins to investigate. Her research soon discloses the drug James took might not have been just your run-of-the-mill experimental military mind control drug. Further inquiries bring Anne on the trail of a disquieting numbers station, and finally to the house of 70s counter culture writer and eternally drunk icon Thomas "smells like Hunter S. Thompson" Blackburn (Ted Levine), who sent the drug to James. Things might not turn out too well for Anne, either, or for anyone else involved, for that matter.
Blair Erickson's The Banshee Chapter is quite an impressive little movie, mixing real world atrocity and the point where conspiracy theory, Americana (in a rather blackly humorous way) and Forteana meet, while explicitly taking its central idea from a Lovecraft tale. It's not the most complicated of movies, nor one loaded with subtext, but it tells its story very well indeed.
I'm tempted to call Banshee Chapter a very straightforward film, but then it is also a film that puts its protagonist in a situation where she isn't at all clear if she's suffering from hallucinations caused by an experimental drug, as well as a film whose idea of horror - apart from "medical" experiments on unwitting subjects - is the thing lurking in the corner of your eye and in the deepest shadows attempting to cross over into the more concrete world. It's probably better to say The Banshee Chapter is as straightforwardly told as this kind of tale ever can be.
Erickson uses a visual style close to that of found footage movies, even though only a minor part of what we see actually is supposed to be found footage, in a successful attempt to first build an idea of the real for the audience it can then all that easier show to be breaking down. It's quite an effective attempt too, particularly because Erickson isn't overdoing that stylistic technique until it becomes mere shtick. I found myself also pleasantly surprised - and I know I'm repeatedly harping on this thing in my write-ups of contemporary films but it truly bothers me - by the film's thoughtful use of colour, using the easier digital post production not to turn the whole film yellow or blue or colourless but to actually give different scenes different, appropriate and mood-building colour schemes of their own that still fit into the visual whole of the movie. It's so nice to see a contemporary first time director putting some thought into this sort of thing instead of just giving up and pretending yellow will have to do.
I found The Banshee Chapter's approach to horror quite effective too, with freak-out moments based more on the things the audience imagines than those it actually sees; even if we see something, we seldom get a good look at it, which fits the nature of the film's threat nicely as well. If you're the kind of person as open to this approach as I am, you will probably be creeped out nicely, or - in some moments - perhaps even a bit more than is generally comfortable. This being a horror film, that's of course a good thing.
As good as is the whole of Banshee Chapter, another movie in the increasing number of low budget and/or independent horror movies that successfully aim for the Weird.Technorati-Markierungen: american movies,reviews,horror,blair erickson,katia winter,ted levine,michael mcmillian
A group of friends decides that getting drunk to say goodbye to a friend emigrating to the USA is all well and good, but it would be rather more fun to go visit a supposedly haunted dilapidated hotel where a ghost is supposed to murder anyone entering with great enthusiasm. The friends (using character or actor names seems rather pointless) soon find themselves trapped in said dilapidated hotel and consequently murdered with great enthusiasm.
If you are like me, you might have hoped that the title of Ayush Raina's Horror Story is an ironic one, and instead of something absurdly generic, you'd get something playing cleverly with expectations. Of course, you'd be utterly wrong: there's nothing ironic about the film's title whatsoever. Instead, it's a curious case of honesty, for Horror Story is as lamely generic as its title suggests.
So expect a bunch of cute yet talentless thespians walking, running, and splitting up through the usual dark and empty hallways, screeching, acting like idiots and getting killed off in deservedly ignominious ways by a very shouty ghost who seems to attempt to go through all the clichés you'd expect as well as some of those you'd hoped not to see anytime soon again.
Although Raina is a technically competent director, he isn't able to build up any atmosphere of horror, dread or creepiness at all - it's all shouty running around, all of the time; worse, Raina does seem completely unsure on how to deliver the weirder aspects of his tale, like the ever-changing rooms of the hotel, in any effective way. I don't exactly expect a movie to be House of Leaves in this regard, but I do expect it to present its ideas in a vaguely interesting manner.
Of course, presenting anything in a vaguely interesting manner would rob Horror Story of its claim to fame of being just as generic and boring as its title, so it's probably for the better this way.Technorati-Markierungen: indian movies,in short,horror,ayush raina
A few years ago, a lake belonging to a US small town was overrun by snakeheads, who proceeded to eat the local fauna until they (and whatever was left of the other lake life) were destroyed by a particularly effective poison. Now, snakeheads return to the area, but the new animals are curiously large – it’s as if someone (William B. Davis!?) had put growth hormones into the lake - and have developed an appetite for larger prey like bears, dogs, and humans, which is particularly unpleasant in a fish species that does like its land detours.
The situation spells trouble for the local sheriff, Patrick James (Bruce Boxleitner). Things don’t improve with a mayor doing the traditional Mayor of Amity bit, or when James’s stupid annoying teenage daughter (Chelan Simmons) decides to go on a stupid annoying teenage snakehead vengeance boating trip to avenge one of her stupid annoying teenage friends. Well, at least James has help from fishologist Lori Dale (Carol Alt) who even comes with her own fish killing device. Did I mention James is – of course - widowed and Dale single?
With Snakehead Terror, the usually at least dependable Paul Ziller again manages to make a rather entertaining film out of a definitely stupid idea, at least if you’re willing and able to roll with it. If you do, Ziller thanks you with lots of scenes of slow, loud fish hunting people down on land or sneaking up on them like Solid Snake (Solid Fish Filet?), a snakehead as big as a whale, William B. Davis going “I didn’t mean anyone to get hurt”, and knowledge about the real use and effects of electricity.
It may not be much, but it’s enough for a perfectly fine time. Personally, I was also quite happy to find the snakeheads realized as a mixture of CGI and practical effects, with many a scene of people wrestling with oversized fish puppets. Adding to this particular joy are some fun gore effects (at least if you like nibbled off extremities), all presented with a well-developed sense for escalation that is quite typical of most of Ziller’s films (except the three I don’t like).
I think I need to warn my more sensitive readers about the good sheriff’s stupid annoying teenage daughter and friends, though, for even a person steeled by dozens of stupid annoying teenagers in SyFy/Sci Fi Original movies like me did not expect the stupid teenage apocalypse that are Amber and her friends, creatures so vile I can’t imagine anyone will not root for the killer fish trying to eat them.Technorati-Markierungen: canadian movies,american movies,american tv,in short,syfy vs the mynd,paul ziller,bruce boxleitner,carol alt,william b. davis,horror
Killer Toon (2013): It seems strategically unsound to me to state one's theme - the collision between reality and fantasy with reality losing out quite badly - as outright as Kim Yong-gyoon's South Korean horror film does, when all the film then goes on to deliver is a series of boringly filmed, unimaginative horror set pieces we've seen a thousand times before done better. Delivering the trite is one thing, but delivering the trite after promising at least a bit of intelligence is quite a bit worse. My annoyance with the film did not decrease through its generous appliance of unfunny humour, nor with the time it spent on your usual cliché cops doing the usual cliché cop things without an inkling of verve or spirit (not to speak of things like dramatic tension, or rather their absence).
The Monkey's Paw (2013): Brett Simmons's adaptation of W.W. Jacobs's classic short story puts a bit more effort into changing the story for a full length film than I had expected, keeping the monkey's paw and its law of horrible consequences but going off into different directions, setting it in a Southern working class milieu you don't often get to see in horror movies, and doing some pretty decent character work. On the other hand, the milieu, the paw, and the characters are then used for what amounts to your typical psycho killer thriller with slight supernatural elements, which certainly is something Simmons is competent at directing, but which also isn't all that interesting or exciting, and really doesn't do anything with the philosophical implications of the story.
Don't get me wrong, it's still a more than decent film, I'm just irked when a film seems to consciously avoid everything I'd be excited about it exploring. Make the films I want, damn it!
Embrace of the Vampire (2013): I don't generally get too angry at remakes - at least I'm trying not to - but some of them just puzzle me. Why remake a softcore vampire romp whose only claim to fame are Alyssa Milano's breasts? There can really be only two reasons. The first one would be that director and writers have found something in the original to really latch onto and explore deeper, some theme or plot element that could really resonate in new and interesting ways twenty years later. Of course, once you've seen this particular film's mixture of tits, awkward acting and soap operatics, that explanation goes right out of the window, leaving me with reason number two. Namely, the people involved thought there just aren't enough naked young women in contemporary horror anymore and set out to help change it/milk it for all the money it's worth. In so far as it contains a lot of tits and some softcore sex, Embrace of the Vampire 2013 is a total success. Too bad it’s not the least bit entertaining.Technorati-Markierungen: in short,south korean movies,american movies,canadian movies,kim yong-gyoon,brett simmons,horror
Ever since the death of his wife, former socially minded lawyer and judge Justin Playfair (George C. Scott) has come to think himself to be Sherlock Holmes, ever attempting to catch his elusive Moriarty, which is to say, the thing that causes beloved wives to die in accidents, people to climb towers and begin to shoot, and so on, and so forth.
Unfortunately, Justin’s brother Blevins really needs to get at Justin’s money to pay off some unsavoury types hounding him, so he decides to drag Justin to the mental hospital of the money-grubbing Dr. Strauss (Ron Weyand) to be declared incurable (whatever that might be) and unfit to take care of his financial business, which would leave that business to Blevins. Strauss wants psychiatrist Mildred Watson (Joanne Woodward), possibly nominated for the title of loneliest person in New York for several years in a row, to write Justin off. Watson, though, is a rather more conscientious doctor than her boss, and won’t just sign any old stuff without a thorough examination.
Not surprisingly with this last name, Watson is at first fascinated by Justin, then decides to cure him, and will later even fall in love with him. For the time being, she lets herself being dragged through Justin’s half imaginary adventures that soon see the pair chased by the police, people in white coats, and Blevins’s unsavoury people who have decided that killing Justin and having his brother just inherit the money is an easier way to get it than letting Blevins commit him.
Anthony Harvey’s They Might Be Giants is an often whimsical, generally delightful movie that is quite a bit more complex and layered than it at first seems.
One one level, it is a comedy that is based in sad reality without ever becoming cynical, and somehow even manages not to annoy me despite using the generally annoying romantic trope of the mentally ill being somehow closer to some kind of woozy, tear-jerking reality of things. I suspect the film works for me without causing rolling of eyes and cursing of writers is thanks to the clear acknowledgment it gives of the humanly sad causes of Justin’s identity problem (while also suggesting some humanist nobility to it), the way it doesn’t pretend turning into Sherlock Holmes is just some nice thing Justin does for an mentally more stable audience to gawk at and feel better.
If you’re so inclined, you can of course still find copious amounts wrong with the film’s ideas about mental illness, or about the way a psychiatrist is supposed to act towards her patients (though I’d really rather have Watson who cares a bit too much and can’t separate herself completely from her patients even before she meets her Holmes than the more typical example of the profession who doesn’t give a crap yet still knows everything). I’d argue this just isn’t very relevant to the film at hand, because it does neither want its audience to think they’re better than the people on screen, nor that suffering from a mental illness is a fun adventure.
Rather, a part of the film’s argument is that there’s only a degree of separation between the “loonies” and everyone else, with the former’s reaction perhaps more appropriate to the world we live in, and therefor actually more appropriate to the definition of the word “normal”. Improbably, the way the film sells it, this is an uplifting thing to be told, a bit as if nihilist philosophy had started to negate itself.
The film realizes this argument with a sense of whimsy, a lot of broad human compassion with everyone – even Blevins(!) - except the gangsters who really are more a plot mechanism than characters, and through some truly fantastic performances. George C. Scott is as good and fragile as he ever was, and Joanne Woodward’s Watson projects a generosity of spirit and emotion that has been caged by loneliness but never destroyed it’s impossible not to admire. The character actors playing the strange and curious people these two meet on their adventures are just as wonderful, bringing to life what could be caricatures.
There’s a further level to this rather brilliant film, too, a meditation about the nature of reality and fantasy and the ways they interact, of the construction of tales and of reality as a tale, of the shifting of perspectives and roles (just look at the scene in the telephone information building as a clear example of the last one). As Scott’s character argues in another particularly brilliant moment, it would be insane to assume, like Don Quixote, that every windmill is a giant, but that doesn’t mean some of them might not still be giants. And how would we know if we never looked?Technorati-Markierungen: american movies,reviews,comedy,anthony harvey,george c. scott,joanne woodward
William A. Levey's sort of horror, kind of comedy movie about the repercussions the murder of a woman by a motorcycle gang has thirty years later, about a guy whose face got nibbled on by a possessed turtle shooting lasers out of a crystal, a ghostly hitch hiker, and about ghost love, recommends itself through a lot of things that'll make it practically unwatchable for a lot of people but that are exactly the sort of things bound to endear a movie to people like me and mine.
So there are all manner of charming types of bad acting, going from the zoned-out, inflectionless whispering of our leading ghost lady (Abigail Wolcott), to the more rarefied "I'm just pretending to be a normal guy, you know, even though I am so very very pretty" shtick of Ron Palillo, to whatever it is some of the other actors think they're actually doing.
To make matters worse/even more beautiful, the film's second half consists of our heroes wandering through an amusement park ghost town ghost town and encountering people with really bad ghost make-up dressed up like amusement park ghost town actors. There's a warning against the dire consequences of getting shit-faced and watching dead can can dancers while visiting a ghost town, naked breasts, and many a scene of people telling each other in-jokes nobody else, particularly the audience, will find funny, and which I can only assume are improvised, because nobody could script something this unfunny, right? Right? It's all pretty fantastic in an utterly wrong-headed way, and that's before I mentioned the bad decapitation, aging through bad hair-dye, and the film's frightening attempts at sexy times.
I don't know what director Levey or scriptwriter Michael O'Rourke were thinking with any plot or directorial decision they take in Hellgate (except for the "breasts sell" part, which is pretty self-evident, yet also completely untrue in a case like this where no amount of nudity could distract anyone watching from realizing that this is all they ever dreamed of/just horrible crap). Frankly, I don't want to know, for a film as peculiar (in the same way a parallel dimension full of cannibals is peculiar) as Hellgate is should stay a mystery, or, as the film would phrase it "Get away from my boyfriend, zombie bitch!". There really isn't anything I could add to that.Technorati-Markierungen: american movies,south african movies,in short,horror,wtf,william a. levey,ron palillo
Shortly after intelligence officer Charles Dobbs (James Mason) interviews civil servant Samuel Fennan (Robert Flemyng) because of anonymous letters hinting at least at communist sympathies, Fennan commits suicide, supposedly driven by his talk with Dobbs. The thing is, though, Dobbs was quite convinced Fennan was perfectly innocent on anything beyond having ideals, and told him he was cleared of any suspicion of being a spy.
Dobbs is also less than happy to find his boss, The Adviser (Max Adrian), and the rest of the intelligence community all too willing to write the situation off as a suicide for which he is somewhat responsible. Particularly when Dobbs finds certain things about Fennan’s suicide as well as the behaviour of the man’s wife Elsa (Simone Signoret) do not add up as they should. Dobbs is so angry about the whole situation he even decides to step down from his position completely. At least, until he has investigated the suicide to his own satisfaction. With the help of retired copper Mendek (Harry Andrews) and his now former colleague Billy Appleby (Kenneth Haigh), Dobbs does stumble upon rather interesting facts, even while he’s living through another crisis in the marriage to his wife Ann (Harriet Andersson).
Sidney Lumet’s The Deadly Affair is actually an adaptation of John Le Carré’s first George Smiley novel, Call for the Dead. Lumet couldn’t use the Smiley character name because Le Carré sold it off together with the rights to The Spy Who Came in from the Cold, which only goes to show that copyright can get pretty bizarre. At least we got some fine films out of the situation.
Tonally, the film still is very much a Le Carré adaptation, with all the sadness, the guilt, and betrayal that suggests. Smiley/Dobbs as performed by James Mason is clearly a man who has seen and done too much already to should have any illusions left about life but who is still trying to cling to a concept of human decency, in his business life as well as in a marriage that has become painful both him and Ann for reasons they both don’t really have control over.
In fact, the film is very good at not seeking any guilty party in the rather messed-up marriage but treats Dobbs’s and Ann’s respective helplessness with compassion. As it also does treat most of its other characters, all the betrayals and hurts and crimes notwithstanding. As always in Le Carré’s world, there are possibly moral and emotional grounds worth defending, yet his characters have lost any idea of moral certainty long ago, the best of them – like Dobbs – demonstrating a tired and sad way to go about the things that they think they have to do, even if they aren’t even sure why anymore.
Lumet films this in his concentrated mode (except for one or two lame jokes I could have lived without), keeping the camera and his eye close on the actors, while subtly supporting them without showing off. The cast is rather perfect for this approach too, full as it is of middle-aged and aging men and women who all look as if life had battered them in one way or another. In some cases, this is the consequence of some really fine acting, while in other’s, like Simone Signoret’s, the role and the actor’s actual state of mind seem to be rather close; perhaps even too close for comfort. While some of the actors may be tired, their performance aren’t, though.
What The Deadly Affair isn’t – of course, given the material it is based on, but people sometimes go into films with strange expectations – is much of a spy thriller of the more outwardly exciting kind. While the film’s two action scenes are staged by Lumet with perfect and appropriate ruthlessness, this isn’t a film whose spy story is meant to provide surface thrills as much as it is meant to enable a better look at life and what it does to some people.Technorati-Markierungen: british movies,reviews,spies,sidney lumet,james mason,simone signoret,maximilian schell,harriet andersson,harry andrews
aka The Hammond Mystery
In the English countryside. Oliver Hammond (John Howard), the family's maid, and a spaniel are attacked on a frosty full moon night by what can only have been an animal. The dog is killed, Oliver slightly hurt, and the maid so badly wounded she falls into a coma the family doctor Jeff Colbert (Bramwell Fletcher) does not expect her ever to recover from. Oliver's sister Helga (Heather Angel) is disturbed enough by the attack she's making a trip to London and Scotland Yard for help instead of just calling in the local police. Scientific detective Robert Curtis (James Ellison) and his partner, the rather less scientific Cornelia "Christy" Christopher (Heather Thatcher), clearly two specialists in the rather more curious sorts of crime, get on the case.
Once arrived at the Hammond mansion, it quickly becomes clear to the intrepid investigators that the crime at hand might just have something to do with the family curse which has supposedly caused death and destruction for the Hammond family through the ages. But everyone except Helga seems rather reticent to cooperate with the detectives, as if they'd hide some terrible secret.
I find this adaptation of Jessie Douglas Kerruish's novel rather more interesting than good and effective; in fact, I'm a bit disappointed I didn't actually enjoy watching The Undying Monster more than I actually did, for the film does some things which are rather uncommon and unexpected for its time. There's the clash between John Brahm’s moody gothic expressionist direction and art direction that is clearly brother to the spirit of the Universals, and a pair of detectives with a quite modern and scientific bent (let's look at this werewolf hair under the spectrometer!), the fact that said detectives really feel like an early attempt to take fantastic literature's occult detective - or at least a detective interested in the outré and improbable - into the world of the screen, an effort that would still take a few decades after this to actually lead anywhere. "Not leading anywhere" is the film's main problem I think, with a mystery plot that's so obvious a drunk monkey understands what's going on after the basic situation is set up, the whole science versus the supernatural angle first opened up pleasingly enough but then not really getting explored at all (with added bonus of a "natural explanation" scene that makes little sense after the audience has seen an actual werewolf transformation scene), and actors like John Howard and Heather Angel not being allowed to do much of anything.
Like many minor horror movies of its era, The Undying Monster is just a bit too slight to be really effective on an intellectual level, and seems to lack any courage to follow its own ideas where they lead, resulting in what at times seems more like a series of wasted opportunities than a complete movie.
It’s been a long time since I’ve seen a mainstream thriller this convincingly politically angry as Kim Byeong-woo’s film turned out to be, with the added bonus of The Terror Live also being a very tight, well acted, and exciting film.south korean movies,reviews,thriller,kim byeong-woo,ha jeong-woo,lee kyeong-yeong,other places
Warning: this is not to be confused with various other movies called The Getaway, but believe me, you wouldn't.
Second warning: Getaway might have annoyed me so much I'm going to suggest there would be little difference between director Courtney Solomon's efforts and that of a stuffed monkey.
The wife (Rebecca Budig) of former race car and later escape car driver Brent Magna (Ethan Hawke, who needed the money, one hopes) is kidnapped by an evil nameless mastermind (a role so difficult, the film has to use unpleasant close-ups of Jon Voight's face and the voice of Paul Freeman to embody him, because a single actor could not be clichéd yet boring enough for this particular masterpiece of filmmaking). Mastermind then has Brent race all around Sofia in a stolen car as part of a loud, car-crashing fiendish evil plan. Because our villain is especially cruel, he also has Brent pick up the actual owner of the car, a girl without a name (played by Selena Gomez who probably has youth as her excuse) who just happens to be the most annoying person who ever lived; also, she's of course a car freak and computer wiz and the daughter of the boss of a very large investment bank.
Lots of car crashes ensue; stupidity never stops.
Generally, I'd love to be the one to say that Getaway, despite what everyone else on the Internet says, is actually a misunderstood hidden gem. Unfortunately, I couldn't keep a straight face for a lie this huge for very long.
As you probably understand, Getaway is stupid on a level that makes even the worst of Luc Besson's Europa Corp productions look well thought out and intelligent. The big difference is that Besson's movies generally show some (sometimes even more) imagination sandwiched between the idiocies - though it's often a very stupid kind of imagination - whereas Getaway's imagination stops at "car crash fun, hurr hurr".
Which, you know, still could result in an entertaining movie if the director responsible (and I mean responsible), Courtney Solomon, who just happens to also carry the blame for the first Dungeons & Dragons film, would even demonstrate the faintest idea of how to film car chases in an exciting, possibly even varied manner, seeing that about ninety percent of his movie consist of…wait for it…car chases. Clearly, he doesn't, so we get a lot of fast cuts between unexciting shots, and the sort of action choreography which not just doesn't bother to clearly show what's going on but is so misguided I'm pretty convinced nobody involved in the staging of these scenes knows what's supposed to be going on in them themselves. What's even worse: nothing on screen suggests any ideas about any other aspect of filmmaking either.
I'm not usually somebody to say you could probably have replaced a director with a stuffed monkey, but really, how could the resulting film be worse than what Solomon's Getaway delivers?Technorati-Markierungen: american movies,bulgarian movies,in short,action,crap,courtney solomon,ethan hawke,selena gomez
At some point in time in medieval fantasy France. Notorious thief Gaston Phillippe (Matthew Broderick), generally called “the Mouse”, manages a lucky escape from prison. Marquet (Ken Hutchison), the man whose supposedly inescapable prison Gaston escaped from, and who clearly doesn’t take too well to the stress of pleasing his boss, the evil bishop of evil (John Wood), is so angered he and his man spend quite some time trying to hunt the thief down again.
Gaston is rescued from probable (he is very lucky, after all) doom by the knight Navarre (Rutger Hauer), former captain of the guard Marquet now captains. Navarre has an old grudge against Marquet and the Bishop, and has returned to finally put an end to their shared story. Navarre and his lover Isabeau (Michelle Pfeiffer) have been cursed, you see, and he has to spend his nights in the form of a black wolf, while she turns into a hawk by day, both doomed only ever to catch a short glimpse of each other as humans at dawn and at dusk.
At first involuntarily, but once he learns the whole story and meets Isabeau increasingly voluntarily, Gaston is drawn into the lovers’ story, and his help, and that of a monk (Leo McKern) with his own share of guilt for the curse, just might be what will keep it from turning into a tragedy.
Ladyhawke’s Richard Donner always has been one of these curious directors to me whose films as a whole never seem to cohere into a directorial personality. There does seem no philosophy, nor a shared approach beyond technical slickness visible in his films. That isn’t to say the films of Donner and directors like him can’t be worthwhile, because there is something to say for direction that steps behind the story it is telling, even though it does make it rather difficult to declare someone an auteur. At the very least, these films will be worthwhile when these stories are actually worth telling.
Ladyhawke’s story certainly is that. Actually, I find it difficult to avoid the word “perfect” to describe it, seeing as it seems to never take a wrong step in any direction it takes (let’s just pretend the main theme by Alan Parsons doesn’t exist), effortlessly mixing comedy, fantasy, and romance in just the right way. This is a film told from the perspective of what would usually be a mere comic relief character, after all, who never becomes annoying, and never is just a comic relief character even in the scenes when he’s bumbling. As a matter of fact, there’s a suggestion that things turn out well in the end (oh, come on, that’s not a spoiler) because Gaston’s metier isn’t tragedy, and he can therefore choose the part he wishes to take in a doomed romance and turn it right.
But really, this sort of consideration pales behind the way the film uses a pretty perfect – and pretty – cast, beautiful photography of extremely photogenic Italian locations, and a script that’s tighter than you’d expect to tell a romantic story in both meanings of the word, what could be seen as (and most probably is) the film’s slick sheen of commercialism turning into its own kind of poetry. That is an effect a more discrete director like Donner can probably achieve easier than somebody more pushy, for what’s more distracting from (a) romance than a director shouting “look at me! I’m an artist!” when in fact the audience really should look at the tale itself instead of the teller.
Ladyhawke as a whole projects a certain kind of conviction, as if the film itself would believe in its own story enough to produce a sense of wonder out of thin air (certainly the best place for senses of wonder to come from), taking what could have turned out trite and unpleasantly manipulative (the film is of course still manipulative, as all art is, but in a way I at least didn’t mind being manipulated), romantic.
Of course, one person’s poetry is another person’s insufferable kitsch, and one person’s romance is another person’s voluntary slavery but at least today, and with Ladyhawke, I’m one person, and not the other.Technorati-Markierungen: american movies,reviews,fantasy,romance,richard donner,matthew broderick,rutger hauer,michelle pfeiffer