badger: (badgerman)
Saw The Hateful Eight today in 70mm Panavision Ultra at AMC Southpoint Cinema, Durham. I don't go to that theater much: the last time I was there was for Richard Linklater's movie Boyhood.

The film had problems about fifteen minutes or so before the end (a minute or two into "The Final Chapter") where I could still see a faint ghost of the image on screen, almost black on black, before the lights came up for a very short time. The movie restarted having switched to digital: starting up a few seconds before "The Final Chapter" text card and replayed a minute or so before catching up to where the film had problems.

I am not upset at this malfunction because it gave me an "apples to apples" comparison: I saw over a minute of the same scene in 70mm Panavision film, then in what I can only assume is theatrical-quality digital. In comparison, the digital was paler with less saturation and slightly fuzzy.

Best job title in the credits: Checkpoint Charlie. No, I don't know why either.

possibly spoilery about the movie )
badger: (badgerman)
Big goofy space opera fun.
The Wachowskis tell you in the first ten minutes that this is a Cinderella story so you’re watching a fairy tale with different trappings. If you're looking for hard SF go back to complaining about Gravity and Interstellar because you're in the wrong room.

some spoilers in this post )
badger: (badgerman)
Tonight's movie: The Texas Chain Saw Massacre - the original, which I believe I've never seen before. Yes, honestly. Only seems familiar because of the amount of clips and reuse and homage and allusions and outright knockoffs I've seen over the years. Really liked the soundtrack: very grinding and atonal and industrial in many spots. Should listen to the music again.

Note for future: movie is set August 18, 1973.
badger: (badgerman)
I read the entire November Man espionage novel sequence while they were coming out and was pleased to see a film adaptation of There Are No Spies, the seventh, was happening. I am less pleased at the resulting film.

It's both mediocre and almost unrecognizable as the characters from the novels. For example, I don't remember Hanley as being a tough military type who served with Devereaux in some unspecified combat. I remember the character as being a quintessential government bureaucrat. Perhaps my memory is wrong. Bill Smitrovich plays Hanley the way Ernest Borgnine would have if Borgnine had been handed this script in the 1980s.

I simply do not buy the big reveal plot twist of the movie as being in character, even remotely, for the characters from the novels.

No mention of R Section (in the novels, the characters work for a "who will watch the watchers?"-motivated spy agency intended to monitor and factcheck CIA and the rest of the US intelligence community, much tension from inter-service rivalry), in the movie everyone is simply CIA.

Tradecraft as regards suspension of disbelief is terrible for me - the HELL is the CIA going to get away with flying drones in modern Moscow tracking a car to a meet. By drone I mean large Parrot AR drone 4' feet across flying through downtown Moscow tailing cars at only a few stories height.

Also, the backstory for the November Man name has no resemblance to the reason from the books - in the movie Hanley tells Devereaux "you know what we called you in the office? The November Man, because after you passed through, nothing lived. "

With the update to modern day (not in and of itself a problem), the unrecognizable characters, the missing significant characters, and so on, they might as well have made the identical mediocre movie without connecting it to the novel. It's not recognizable to me as being related.
badger: (badgerman)
Much fun. Silly, but a serious grimdark tone would have been a bad idea. We saw it Thursday night at Mission Valley then Friday elsewhere with friends, we both enjoyed it both times. Definitely recommended.

Note: Stay post-closing credits.

some spoilers )
badger: (badgerman)
Saw the first screening of Stomping Ground. Filmed locally in 2012, first screening was last night.
Chicago guy and his girlfriend visit her family in rural North Carolina. They go camping / Bigfoot hunting with high school friends of hers. Things go awry.

For an indie micro-budget movie this was significantly better than I expected. Acting, directing, pacing were all good. Recommended if it ever gets distribution.

trailer )
badger: (badgerman)
We saw Snowpiercer Friday night at the Rialto - medieval great chain of being laid out on a train holding all of humanity left after a global warming cure goes disastrously wrong. An unrecognizable Chris Evans with John Hurt leads a peoples' revolt against Tilda Swinton and Ed Harris. French graphic novel adapted by the director of The Host (one of the best Godzilla-esque movies of recent years) and the unsettlingly disturbing Mother. Some great performances, several very cool fight scenes, lots of class inequality and dystopia reminiscent of The Hunger Games and Bioshock Infinite but more much reminiscent of Rollerball in pacing, sequencing, and tone. Recommended.

Come to think of it, I haven't seen Rollerball in years, and I just got the recent and fantastic Blu-Ray transfer recently. Should watch it.
badger: (badgerman)
I have never seen Vanishing Point before yesterday. I have seen many car chase movies: Gone in 60 Seconds, Death Race 2000 and the remake and its sequels, The Cannonball Run, Convoy, Smokey and the Bandit and the sequels, Bullitt, The Blues Brothers, Mad Max, Race With the Devil, Drive Angry, Ronin, and that glorious 90 seconds of screentime that feels like ten minutes of speeding the wrong way on the freeway in To Live and Die in LA - my personal favorite car chase scene of all time. Many others.

Vanishing Point is the Platonic ideal of car chase movies.

I should play Driver: San Francisco again - one of the thirteen movie-inspired challenges is from Vanishing Point.

Yes, with a white 1970 Challenger.

video )
badger: (badgerman)
Saw Only Lovers Left Alive Sunday with M. Definitely want to see it again. (Opened Friday at the Colony Raleigh, Carolina Durham). A languid discussion of what makes life worth living by vampires in a current-ish Detroit and Tangiers, Only Lovers Left Alive is a Toreador Clan Vampire LARP played by Tilda Swinton and Tom Hiddleston gamemastered by Jim Jarmusch while he carries a camera.

Great supporting performances by John Hurt (do I have your attention now?), Mia Wasikowska, and Anton Yelchin. Nice small performance by Jeffrey Wright, who I know mostly from his work as Dr. Narcisse in HBO’s Boardwalk Jungle. Also, Tom Hiddleston with Robert Smith grade giant hair and all in rocker black is the best Neil Gaiman’s Sandman I have ever, ever seen.

Recommended if you like
innovative vampire movies
Tilda Swinton
Tom Hiddleston
Tom Hiddleston shirtless
Jim Jarmusch
John Hurt
doom metal
Arabian lounge music
lovely romantic established relationships

Not recommended if you like
fast pacing

Seriously, if you know Jarmusch’s work (Ghost Dog, Dead Man, The Limits of Control), you’re in the wrong room for action. Five people were in the theatre yesterday afternoon and two of them walked out around the 75-minute mark.

Palo Alto
Stage Fright - Friday the 13th meets the Phantom of the Opera - a summer camp stages a production of The Phantom of the Opera where the mother of a current campgoer was murdered years ago.
badger: (badgerman)
Tonight's film: Keoma (1976), starring Franco Nero. Made after the heyday of the Italian spaghetti western and filmed outside of Rome in this volcanic rocky post-apocalyptic terrain, the movie comes with its own self-packaged nostalgia like a British architectural folly and feels like M. John Harrison's Viriconium stories. Very cool. Thanks to CINEMA OVERDRIVE and Rialto Colony for running this on the big screen.

badger: (badgerman)
A remake of District B-13 moved from near-future Paris to near-future Detroit, keeping the basic plot of corrupt politicians plan urban renewal by way of neutron bomb, crimelord in blighted area decides to play, parkour-proficient local and good cop have to do something.

Lots of parkour. RZA as the crimelord is more sympathetic than I remember the original being. Fun. Thin, but plot isn't why one goes to this kind of movie.
badger: (badgerman)
Saw The Raid 2 (aka The Raid: Berandal.) The first is one of my favorite martial arts films of all time. The sequel has some brilliant fights, but is forty minutes longer and is more of a John Woo gangster film than a stripped-down fight film. There's no lack of fighting in The Raid 2, but there's more of everything else too. M likes the first one better for the less complicated and clearer story as much as for all the fighting all the time.

Read more... )
badger: (badgerman)
The Blu-Ray was the cost of the rental stream from Amazon so physical media won. I watched it as part of a two-day Argento triple feature sandwiched between his The Phantom of the Opera (with Julian Sands, not to be confused with the 1987 Fraticelli and Argento giallo Opera) and a local arthouse screening tonight of Four Flies on Grey Velvet. I hadn't seen any of these and decided that I might as well make a feast of it.

So, Dario Argento's Dracula.

The gratuitous female nudity is indeed early, and gratuitous, and repeated occasionally but not constantly. Nudity aside, it's less misogynistic than I have found several of Argento's films to be.

Didn't watch it in 3D so I can't remark as to the "things flying at the screen" portion of the review.

Harker comes to work for the Count as a librarian, which I believe means someone involved with the script read Kostova's The Historian.

Giovanni Franzoni as Renfield reminds me of Beef in Phantom of the Paradise.

Thomas Kretschmann, interestingly, plays Dracula here, but plays Van Helsing in the current television series Dracula starring Jonathan Rhys Myers.

Dracula sees and hears through, or is, rats, flies, big beetles. He also takes the form of a wolf, an owl, a swirling cloud of black dust, and a giant mantis 8-10' long, perhaps only a bit smaller than the giant ants in THEM!

2014-04-09 17.54.00 copy

I don't remember a bat, but there's a lot going on here.

Rutger Hauer as Van Helsing is a bit quieter in the role than I might have thought. He does not appear until late, but then has a great deal of screen time.

Lots of theremin in the score, as gratuitous as the nudity.

To sum up, camp.
badger: (badgerman)

Saw John Frankenheimer's SECONDS (1966) last night at the Colony as part of the Cinema Overdrive series (next month is Dario Argento's Four Flies on Grey Velvet). A middle-aged man signs over much of his savings to a mysterious corporation that fakes his death, gives him plastic surgery and months of physical training and orientation (provided by a guidance counselor played by the brainwashing specialist from Frankenheimer's earlier film The Manchurian Candidate) and now the dead middle-aged married man with college kids is a single Rock Hudson painting in Malibu.

Will Geer as the old man and head of the organization providing Witness Relocation Program For Midlife Crisis Sufferers is positively mephistophelean in his gentle convincing of the main character to sign up for the program. Dionysian bacchanal in the middle probably felt different to a pre-Wicker Man audience. Great unnerving soundtrack, amazing cinematography. Recommended.
badger: (badgerman)
Watched Ben Wheatley's A Field in England last night. Black and white, slow-paced, a lot of full-face establishing shots, also used by Aronofsky to striking effect in The Fountain. Four men during a English Civil War battle wander into a field. They run into a fifth. They hunt for treasure by scrying and divination interspersed with mushrooms. Very trippy in a late 60s experimental film way. Feels a bit like early Peter Greenaway crossed with Kenneth Anger and Derek Jarman. I liked it, but it's sparse and slow-paced enough I can see people reacting to it with "pointless", "dull", "empty" - but then I liked Lynch's Inland Empire which can have much the same critiques directed at it.

Kudos to the score: as one review I noticed remarked, the voices are as detached from geography/direction/location as the rest of the sound effects and instrumental music, all the audio just wafts about like the fog of war and psychedelia.

Male genitalia visible in a couple of scenes, non-sexualized context. Much less on-screen violence and gore compared to Wheatley's previous films. Not recommended for young teens and some adults, more for the slow pace and robust attention span required than because of the nudity.

Not my favorite Wheatley but definitely worth my time. I'm looking forward to what he does with JG Ballard's High-Rise starring Tom Hiddleston.
badger: (badgerman)
* The Returned: Zombieism as a metaphor for AIDS: not curable but controllable with medication, which is running short. Nicely done, solidly written and paced.

* Big Bad Wolves: A horror movie in the way Reservoir Dogs is a horror movie. I liked it, M didn't very much.

* Grand Piano: Elijah Wood as a piano virtuoso who's been in retirement for five years with crippling stage fright whose return to the stage is met with a note in the score that if he plays one wrong note he dies. Like Big Bad Wolves, not a bit of supernatural. Grand Piano is essentially a very good early Brian De Palma thriller. Strongly recommended.

* They're Coming to Get You, Barbra! - US comedic short films.
Killer Kart - "I look at him and I see a lot of years - not all of them good." I think of it as Avram Davidson's "Or All The Seas With Oysters" done as a horror film.
The Root of the Problem - Dentist.
Songs in the Key of Death - Zombies have perfect pitch, so a piano tuner uses them in a morning tv show local business feature.
Call Me Crazy - Pretty good.
Rope-A Dope - Wordless Groundhog Day bit filmed by stunt men. Really nicely done.
Out of One’s Misery - Filmed in West Jefferson NC.
Christmas Carvings - Filmed locally at the Myers House in Hillsborough.
M is for Mime - Almost as short as the next and last. Very well done.
Welcome to Dignity Pastures - Very short, one-liner of a flash film. Funny because it doesn't drag itself out.
badger: (badgerman)
Saw Big Bad Wolves at Nevermore Film Festival and Retrofantasma Film Series tonight. A horror film in much the same sense that Reservoir Dogs is a horror film: no supernatural elements, just bad people and possibly good people doing very bad things under terrible stress. Film score is strongly reminiscent of The Way of the Gun. A little too much implemented interrogation, but otherwise recommended. Subtitled in English.
badger: (badgerman)
Tonight's film at Retrofantasma: The Phantom of the Paradise, a 1974 rock opera adaptation of Faust starring Paul Williams as a Mephistophelean hobbit music producer, and Jessica Harper. Second time I've seen it on the big screen: the first was in mid-2011 at Cinema Overdrive. Much fun. Now to continue the current novel, Clive Barker's The Damnation Game. Last week was Orpheus, this week it's Faust. It's a theme.

[film] Her

Jan. 20th, 2014 08:56 pm
badger: (badgerman)
We saw Her on Saturday night at Mission Valley - still one of my favorite movie theatres in the Triangle area. (Colony/Raleigh, Rialto/Raleigh, Carolina/Durham, Grande/Raleigh, Varsity/Chapel Hill are the others.) It's a very good movie. It's about alienation, and a romance, and the Singularity. Great performances, an intelligent script that doesn't hand a lot of neatly-packaged answers, and a lovely film score. I look forward to whatever replaces this as my favorite movie of 2014 because it's going to have to be really impressive.

Edge of Tomorrow - Tom Cruise, SF, June 6
Heaven Is For Real - Small child has near-death experience, becomes spiritualist.
That Awkward Moment - HBO's Guys.
Winter's Tale - Feb 14
badger: (badgerman)
(as written yesterday) Just saw Les Miserables. Too many ninjas, and Hugh Jackman didn’t sing at all. Very confusing.

Saw The Wolverine Friday night. Obvious even with holes plot. Generally fun.

comments, spoilers )

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