Tuesday, November 10, 2009

A Brief Sabbatical (Thanks to James Woods)

Okay, so I was all ready to talk about how I love the MGM HD channel because it allows me to revisit movies I haven't seen in years. Films like: Southern Comfort, Coffy, The Burning, and Interiors. And I was all ready to write about how the other night they showed this film called Cop, starring James Woods in one of his best performances, directed by James B. Harris who used to work on Kubrick's films from the 50's and 60's (most notably writing the screenplay and producing Paths of Glory), and how the film was standard serial killer vs. cop fare except for the fact that the film had this alluring, sleazy, Dirty Harry-esque exploitation aesthetic that made it impossible to turn away from (not to mention Woods' amazing performance). I was all ready to talk about a film called Cop, a film from the 80's that seems so insignificant in 2009 (I mean why talk about it?), a film that I'm sure not a lot of people have even seen, or if they have, barely remember; however, as I started writing some notes down I realized...I just don't have the time for this. Follow my jumbled thoughts after the jump...

Monday, November 9, 2009

DVD Review: Away We Go

Sam Mendes’ Away We Go feels like Jarmusch-lite…and I mean that as a compliment. The filmmakers invoke all the usual indie tropes (I have to admit when I popped the DVD in I was already groaning at the way the menu looked): folk musical score, chapters accompanied by title cards, John Krasiniski with a beard; however, beneath its seemingly rather annoying indie exterior lurks a whole other film filled with interesting meditations on parenting, being in love while having kids, and raising children altogether. This isn’t a film that condescends, as some critics have suggested, this is a film – that despite one grossly horrendous detour – evokes the whimsy of a Jarmusch film; particularly Stranger Than Paradise, another film about thirtysomethings who are geographically unattached looking for meaning in life…looking for home. I was all ready to hate on this movie, but it won me over, and it really is a smile-inducing, intelligent film.

Friday, November 6, 2009

An Interview with Jeffrey Goodman, director of The Last Lullaby

Yesterday I reviewed a film that I think is one of the best surprises of 2009, The Last Lullaby. The director Jeffrey Goodman has been nice enough to answer some questions about the process of making an independent film, some of the influences on his career, what it was like working with Tom Sizemore, and just the overall experience of making a different kind of thriller. My thanks to Jeffrey for taking the time to answer these random, off-the-top-of-my-head questions. Please check out my review for the film, and take a look at Jeffrey's blog that contains info on the film and its DVD release. As most of you know, it's so very important to support independent film. Interview comes after the jump...

Thursday, November 5, 2009

DVD Review: The Last Lullaby

Jeffrey Goodman’s The Last Lullaby is one of those rare debut films that is so assured in its style that it becomes clearer and clearer as we watch the film unfold that we’re dealing with a major up and coming talent. So rare is it these days to find a thriller that is willing to slow things down – to exist in silence and push aside all the needless noise that clutters modern thrillers. Here is a film that understands the essentials of filmmaking, and why we go to see movies like this. The Last Lullaby is a classic noir existing in a 21st century film – it may not be the most original story (but what noir claims to be wholly original?), but it’s a breath of fresh air; it reminded me of Paul Thomas Anderson’s first film Hard Eight…not in plot, but in how good of a debut film The Last Lullaby is.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

"No country, this, for old men." Thoughts on Disgrace

“…A mad old man who sits among the dogs and sings to himself!”

That mad old man is David Lurie (John Malkovich) a professor of the Romantics in Cape Town, South Africa. He’s at the center of Steve Jacobs’ film Disgrace, based on the best selling and award winning (and one of my five favorite books) J.M. Coetzee novel. How he becomes mad is only the surface of this story – this isn’t a film about good deeds or bad deeds, or about redemption and rebirth; no, this is a film that asks hard questions that don’t have answers, a film that observes with the objectivity and coldness of fact. It’s also one of the best films of the year, and is filled with deep moments of power, poignancy, and truth; it will leave anyone who watches it in a state of heated conversation about the morally ambiguous dilemmas that plague the film’s characters.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Antichrist: Dragging me to Hell

I don’t get Lars von Trier…let’s just get that fact out of the way from the onset. I’ve never liked his amateur style and musings on big ideas. His Dogma rules of filmmaking are a joke, a list of restrictions that act as a cop-out for his stale style. However, I must admit that von Trier’s newest film looks great, something that I never thought I would find myself saying. Another bit of good news: von Trier, it seems, has learned how to make a movie less than two hours. The bad news: it doesn’t make Antichrist any less excruciating, maddening, inane, and downright silly than his 150+ minute shit sandwiches like Dancer in the Dark or Dogville. This is one of the silliest movies of the year.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Italian Horror Blog-a-thon: Post Script

Well that was fun, wasn't it? I never in my wildest dreams imagined that so many of you would be interested in discussing this kooky little subgenre I love so much. Some of my blogging heroes joined in the discussion (Thanks, Dennis and Tim!), and I got to meet a lot of new bloggers who love Italian horror as much as I do. This was a lot fun, everyone...and I have all of you to thank because of it. So...thanks! Fulci was the most popular subject for the blog-a-thon...which kind of shocked me; Argento didn't get much coverage which shocks me even more; and I was surprised that not a lot of people covered Bava or other 60's/70's gialli. I was also a little surprised that zombies weren't more popular. Sure, Zombi 2 and City of the Living Dead got the obvious coverage, but I have to say that I was surprised that no one covered the campier zombie flicks like Burial Ground, Nightmare City, or Virus. Maybe next year, right?

Of course I am beyond elated at the amount of entries I received and the quality of those entriues. I think we'll be doing this again next year, maybe with a little more specificity like giallo films from 60's or the Italian exploitation film of the 70's, or the zombie craze of the 80's. I'll tinker...I mean I have a whole year to think about this, hehe.

I hope to see a lot of you continue to frequent this blog. The next month might be a little light on the blogging as my Graduate schooling gets a tad more intense, but I will be posting some quickie reviews on here and a special post that I'm pretty excited about. There's also the matter of new film reviews...just look for those in December or January when I'm out of school (and on Winter break at work) and have time to catch up with all of the 2009 releases. I'm sure there will be the obligatory top ten list for the year, and the decade, too! Woo hoo! Everyone loves lists! Okay, that's enough exclamation points for now. Be on the lookout for some new material this week and sporadically throughout the month (I think the new Descent film opens soon, doesn't it?) and then I'll be back to full speed by December. Again, thanks everyone for making this so much fun to do. There were many Italian horror films I watched for the blog-a-thon that I never got a chance to write about, so you can count on those being posted at some point...or we'll just do this thing again next year.

Extra points for anyone who can figure out what movie that still is from.