Well, I finally got around to watching Red State and while I give credit to Kevin Smith for reaching and trying for something a little ambitious and drastically different than his career so far has delivered, I cannot help but respond with a resounding: “meh.” I know, that doesn't sound all that good, but the movie is not great either. It is certainly a step up from Cop Out, but it feels lacking in many areas. It is kind of like taking a couple of different films and smashing them together in an effort to shuffle them (similar to Green Lantern). The end result is a movie that has no consistent tone or interesting character. It is certainly watchable, but for how long?
In the 1980's ninja flicks were big business. It did not matter if you were a legit martial artist or not, if you looked like someone who could do it, someone would put you in a movie. The Cannon Group took advantage of this fact and churned out a series of ninja movies throughout the 80's. After making a pair of Sho Kosugi classics (Enter the Ninja and Revenge of the Ninja), they shifted gears and turned State-side for their lead. This resulted in the original “classic” in American Ninja starring Michael Dudikoff. A movie with a star featuring little actual martial arts experience, but able to fake it well enough for a mainstream film. Dudikoff has since trained in a number of martial arts.
The Drop is an interesting movie. It is not a great one, nor is it one that is likely to be remembered by hordes of cinema fans in years to come, but it is also not one that is likely to ever fade away. It will be first notable in a way similar to The Imaginarium of Dr. Panassus as the final film from a good actor who passed before his time. Heath Ledger for Parnassus and James Gandolfini for The Drop. Fortunately, both films are good and benefit from their respective late actors presence. Now, while I did enjoy the movie, it still feels like a movie with the masquerade of depth rather than actual depth.
The world of cult, exploitation, and horror cinema holds a wealth of treasures. These movies have no limits, know no bounds, well, except for budgetary ones, but so what? It is fascinating to watch what a writer and director do to try and make interesting, involving, and boundary pushing films. Now, I am not sure that this particular film exactly qualifies as boundary pushing, but it is one that reminded me that you never know where you are going to uncover a gem. It is a movie that peels the rug back on ugliness, it shows its grimy underbelly to the world, and it could care less if you approve.
It seems that there are new conventions popping up all the time. In my area it is getting a little hard to keep up with them, picking and choosing where to spend my hard earned dollars. I admit that I love going to these, I love collecting autographs, I love getting a moment or two to spend chatting with the guests, I love the friends who go with me, or whom I have made going to these shows, and I love the atmosphere. I also know that there has been a lot of talk about the changing culture, escalating costs, and the like. I see where you are coming from, and I wish I was going to shows in the glory days. Still, I love conventions.
So, the other night I was in the mood to watch a movie. Not just any movie, mind you. I was looking for something a little bit older, something I hadn't seen before, and something with the potential to be a little weird. My search stumbled across a little movie from 1986 that I had never heard of that might fit the bill. The movie is called Anguish, seems like a winner based on the name alone, right? It is a thriller/horror oddity that features Zelda Rubenstein (Poltergeist) and was written and directed by Spanish director Bigas Luna. It is one of those movies that probably would not get a theatrical release today, and one that makes me wish I saw more like this theatrically.
I admit that the current trend of YA novel adaptations has done little to capture my imagination. I think the Hunger Games has done a fine job at adapting the ideas and stories into the visual medium of the movies. This is not something that translates across the board. Frankly, many of the movies all look like the same thing to me. Anyway, I did go out and see The Giver, against my better judgment, and I was surprised to discover a movie with some interesting ideas. However, I was not surprised to find a boring and bland film. It is not something I can easily explain, but I will give it a little bit of a shot.
I find it funny, the first time I heard of this movie was a couple of months back from my mother. It is rare that she hears about a film before me, but she did. It was being reviewed on the news and she told me it was very well reviewed. Now some time has passed and the small, traveling release has made its way to my neck of the woods and I decided to give it a go. Pretty much all I knew going in was that it was well reviewed, it featured a strong performance from Brendan Gleeson, and was about a priest. I am rather glad I only knew that, the movie reveals itself to be rather engrossing, and not more than a little depressing.
I remember first seeing the trailer for As Above, So Below and thinking it actually looked pretty good. The catacombs under Paris seem like a great location to set a horror film. Just thinking about it conjures up all manner of crazy ideas and imagery. Just think about being underneath an old city like Paris and being surrounded by the skeletons of millions of people, add in the patterns made with the bones and just the creepy idea of bone lined tunnels and you cannot help but get a little shiver. So, the fact that we got a movie set there is interesting in and of itself. Now, while I do not completely hate the movie, I so wish that it were better.
Everybody loves lists, right? People make lists for everything. Best of something, worst of something, forgotten somethings, and overlooked somethings. Why should I be any different? I already do best and worst movies, so why not do some other types of lists? This list based column will see me pick a letter and then list ten movies I like that begin with said letter. They may not be my favorite, they may not be the best, but they will always be movies I like starting with that letter. Use it as a jumping off point and add other movies you like with that letter. Keep it positive, this is not a time to judge, just share the love.
I have to wonder if anyone else thinks it is weird that I was really looking forward to Let's Be Cops? I suspect if any of you know me, you do not find this weird (perhaps odd or questionable), whereas if you do not know me, you likely find this to be very weird. I will admit to finding the trailer humorous and the leads a couple of likable fellows. Combine that with the lack of good comedies this year (Neighbors? Please. A Million Ways to Die in the West? No. Sex Tape? Try again.) and you just don't have much to go on and a desire to laugh at the movies. Don't ask me why I thought this would succeed, but I am glad it does.
Nine years ago writer/director Robert Rodriguez teamed up with writer/artist Frank Miller to adapt Miller's Sin City tales to the big screen. The hihly stylized film went on to become my favorite film of 2005. It also resulted in Rodriguez quitting the DGA, as they would not allow him to share directorial credit with Miller. So, rather than leave Miller out, he left the guild and kept Miller at his side. It was a standup choice that paid off with a great film. Since then fans have been clamoring for a followup. Unfortunately, it took nine years to get it made. Frankly, I am unsure why it took so long, but I am glad it finally arrived, even if many seem lukewarm to its arrival. My recommendation is get out there and show it some love.
Twice a year there is an event held in Cherry Hill, NJ, that has become something like a second home to me. The Monster Mania Convention is a gathering of horror and pop culture celebrities, vendors, and fans that becomes a family over the course of three days. This latest edition of the convention was no different. I was there for all three days and met old friends, made new friends, hung out with folks, got some cool merchandise, got a bunch of autographs and generally speaking had an absolute blast What you will see below are a whole mess of pictures from the event.
Critical Outcast isn't my first attempt at a website, I had a few stutter steps in the late 1990's and early 2000's. These attempts generated a whole bunch of poorly written, often very short and spoilerific reviews. I recently stumbled upon them in my archives and thought you may be interested in seeing some of these early attempts at writing. They are as they were then, I make no apologies for how bad or how short they are. Feel free to have at them with reckless abandon! I present to you: Reviews in Retrograde.