Friday, August 31, 2012
Thursday, August 30, 2012
You’ve seen them scream, you’ve seen them nude and you’ve seen them die in some truly horrible ways. You may not know them by name, but chances are if you watched a horror movie made during the 1980s you are familiar with the work of Linnea Quigley, Brinke Stevens and Michelle Bauer, the original Scream Queens of the B-movies. Now, thanks to this fascinating film from writer/director Jason Paul Collum you get a chance to hear them talk – and not just scream -- about their careers. The documentary has plenty of clips from their films that will either be a walk down memory lane for fans or a good place to start for newcomers, and there are interviews with the men who write and directed the films to give it all some sort of historical context. It’s the three very distinct – and very personal -- insights into the world of low budget horror movies that the ladies provide which gives the movie a lasting resonance.
Posted by John Black, Movie Critic at 3:11 PM
Wednesday, August 29, 2012
Posted by John Black, Movie Critic at 11:03 AM
Tuesday, August 28, 2012
Posted by John Black, Movie Critic at 1:18 PM
Monday, August 27, 2012
Posted by John Black, Movie Critic at 10:03 PM
Sunday, August 26, 2012
Posted by John Black, Movie Critic at 10:42 PM
Saturday, August 25, 2012
While visiting her grandmother’s house, Haruka meets a strange fox-like creature who leads her on a journey to another world whose inhabitants make a living by collecting the things that the humans from Haruka’s world neglect or forget. It isn’t long before she is confronted by the things she stopped caring for, like a childhood doll or a special hand mirror that her mother gave her right before she died. Discovering your past and taking responsibility for it are two different things, however, and Haruka must battle to prove she’s worth getting a second chance. It’s a message that may sound a bit heavy when you read it on paper, but director Shinsuke Sato delivers it in such a magical way you never feel lectured to. The computer–generated animation used to create the world Haruka goes though is thrilling to see, but the art never overpowers the acting or the characters. It’s a perfect fable for audiences of any age.
Posted by John Black, Movie Critic at 6:15 PM
Friday, August 24, 2012
Posted by John Black, Movie Critic at 12:30 AM
Thursday, August 23, 2012
Posted by John Black, Movie Critic at 6:21 AM
Wednesday, August 22, 2012
Posted by John Black, Movie Critic at 9:21 AM
Tuesday, August 21, 2012
Posted by John Black, Movie Critic at 9:52 PM
Monday, August 20, 2012
Posted by John Black, Movie Critic at 9:47 AM
Sunday, August 19, 2012
If you think this is a remake of the New Wave French Cinema classic directed by Jean-Luc Goddard, then you are in for a rude awakening. Directed by Jesse Baget (Cellmates), this is the story of a Texas trailer park wife named Lorna (Gina Gershon) who finds out that her no good husband (a hilarious Val Kilmer) has just robbed a bank. She’s not upset that he broke the law, but she’s pissed off that he isn’t sharing the money. While interrogating her husband to find where he hid the loot, Lorna accidentally kills him setting off a serious of increasingly absurd, hilarious and gory events. Gershon gives terrific performance as Lorna, delivering chills and chuckles by the truckload because she plays the character so straight and believable in some truly outrageous circumstances. Kelly Giddish is perfect as Tiny, Lorna’s best friend and accomplice. Those who like their comedy dark will love what these ladies do.
Posted by John Black, Movie Critic at 1:17 PM
Saturday, August 18, 2012
Finally, Tara Reid and Cloris Leachman are together in a movie. Well…not really. Although they share the top billing in this creepy horror movie from director Harrison Smith, the pair doesn’t really share much time together on the screen. In fact, Reid is hardly in the movie at all, even though she is the mother of the scary kid (Joshua Ormond) who sees and hears things in the corn field next to his grandparents’ house. And that’s fine, because when she is on screen she sucks the energy out of the film. Leachman, on the other hand, is electrifying as the grandmother of the twisted clan. The story doesn’t always make sense, and if you try too hard to figure it out your brain may explode.
Posted by John Black, Movie Critic at 6:01 PM
Friday, August 17, 2012
Written and directed by Alejandro Brugués, this horror comedy is not only one of the better zombie movies in recent memory, but has the added value of being a sharp political commentary about life in Cuba, a country that few Americans know anything about. The film stars Alexis Díaz de Villegas as Juan, a man who tries very hard to do as little as possible to survive day-to-day. While out fishing with his equally lazy friend Lazaro (Jorge Milina), Juan lands what turns out to be the rotting corpse of a zombie. Rather than panic, or see it as a warning of things to come, the pair kills the undead thing and sinks him back into the ocean, vowing to never tell anybody what they saw. It isn’t long before their silence is senseless because Havana is soon overrun with zombies, all of whom seem determined to eat Juan and his friends. The film is fierce and funny, usually in the same scene, and the actors do a great job of selling the scares. It is the running commentary of the film about Cuba and its people, however, that gives Juan of the Dead its true power.
Posted by John Black, Movie Critic at 1:40 PM
Thursday, August 16, 2012
Chow Yun Fat stars as the man we all know today primarily for the sayings and wisdom passed down through the ages, but there is much more to the life of the man as this intriguing drama proves. Watching the philosopher’s early years, spent more on the battlefield than in a meditation room, are fascinating, albeit a bit slow-paced. Confucius’ transformation from a man of action to a man of thinking is a bit confusing, or at least not as dramatically played out as you want it to be. The cast is huge, and it’s a bit difficult to keep track of who’s who even with the subtitles that are thrown up on the screen like so many ancient name tags. Still, Chow brings stateliness to the scenes that make it worth the occasionally frustrating feeling that you’ve lost the story.
Posted by John Black, Movie Critic at 6:34 PM
Wednesday, August 15, 2012
Posted by John Black, Movie Critic at 6:12 PM
Tuesday, August 14, 2012
Posted by John Black, Movie Critic at 6:23 AM
Monday, August 13, 2012
Posted by John Black, Movie Critic at 4:44 PM
Posted by John Black, Movie Critic at 5:55 AM
Sunday, August 12, 2012
Posted by John Black, Movie Critic at 9:02 AM
Friday, August 10, 2012
Filmmakers have been trying to reinvent the vampire movie ever since Bela Lugosi first put on a cape back in 1931. They made him disco chic (Frank Langella in Dracula), art house cool (Gary Oldman in Dracula), funny (Leslie Nielsen in Dracula, Dead and Loving It) and unintentionally funny (Robert Pattinson in the Twilight movies). Writer/director Scott Leberecht comes up with something almost completely different in this stylish and creepy film. Zak Kilberg stars as Jacob, a night watchman with a hunger that no amount of food can satisfy. When he licks the blood from the package that held the steak he just ate, Jacob finally feels satiated. Jacob’s growing curiosity and dread to find out what is going on with his appetites is fascinating to watch, but if you are looking for answers, look someplace else. The key to Midnight Son is never knowing what the truth is, and being too enthralled to care.
Posted by John Black, Movie Critic at 1:47 PM
Thursday, August 9, 2012
With only three feature films on his resume — The Station Agent, The Visitor and now Win Win — director Thomas McCarthy is proving to be one of the most interesting and original artist to step behind the camera in years. His secret is simple: he uses great actors to tell great stories. His latest movie is the story of a suburban lawyer named Mike Flaherty (Paul Giamatti) who comes up with a way to keep his practice alive and give his family some much-needed financial breathing room. He has an elderly client (Burt Young) who wants to spend his remaining years living in his home and not in some nursing facility. Flaherty tells him he will present his case to the court, but instead pulls a bit of a switch by making himself the legal guardian of his client so he can start collecting the money the state gives him for home-care assistance. Then Flaherty puts him in a nursing home anyway, telling his client it’s what the court ordered. Most directors would take an idea like that and turn it into either a lurid thriller or a silly comedy. For McCarthy, the story is just a framework for him to explore the lives of the people involved to see what makes them make the decisions that got them in so much trouble to begin with. He ups the ante by introducing the old man’s grandson Kyle (newcomer Alex Shaffer) into the mix. On the run from a family he can’t stand, Kyle seeks shelter with the Flaherty family, which leads to yet another level of complication in the story as the troubled young man and the crooked attorney bond over, of all things, high school wrestling.
Posted by John Black, Movie Critic at 4:42 AM
Wednesday, August 8, 2012
Posted by John Black, Movie Critic at 4:24 PM
Watching this documentary from directors Don Argott and Demian Fenton is an odd experience, primarily because within the first few minutes you will be absolutely convinced that the subject of the film, Bobby Liebling, lead singer of seminal hard rock/heavy metal band Pentagram, won’t be alive by the time the opening credits are over. A crack addict who lives in his parent’s basement, Liebling seems to agree with that assessment, too, and isn’t shy about staring directly in the camera and tell you he wants to die. It’s bone-chilling to see. Then along comes Sean Pelletier, a metal head/record collector who is determined to help Liebling make one final great record before he surrenders completely. The end result is one of the strangest, most life affirming stories ever captured on film.
Posted by John Black, Movie Critic at 4:22 PM
Monday, August 6, 2012
Posted by John Black, Movie Critic at 8:23 AM
Sunday, August 5, 2012
Posted by John Black, Movie Critic at 8:43 AM
Saturday, August 4, 2012
Posted by John Black, Movie Critic at 10:51 AM
Friday, August 3, 2012
David Gelb weaves the story of the man’s life into the story of his food. Gelb also does a marvelous job of capturing the final product of all this dedication, work and devotion – Jiro’s sushi – on film. He doesn’t use a lot of tricks; like the master he is documenting, Gelb shoots the sushi in a pure and natural way and food has never looked so absolutely beautiful.
Posted by John Black, Movie Critic at 10:55 AM
Thursday, August 2, 2012
If you are fan, you already know what to expect once Slipknot hits the stage, and this well-shot concert film is filled with great footage of the madness and mayhem that the band creates in its live show. The uninitiated, however, may be lost. The songs will sound the same, the lyrics will be unintelligible and the twisted masks worn by the musicians will be downright disturbing. For them, it may be a good idea to start with the extras first. Watch a couple of the music videos and learn how diverse and lyrical the band can be when the amps aren’t cranked up to 11. Watch the making of film from director Shawn Crahan. The go back to the main menu and watch the show. Watch it all the way through without skipping songs. In the end, slipknot still may not be the band for you, but you will never forget watching them.
Posted by John Black, Movie Critic at 12:55 PM
Posted by John Black, Movie Critic at 6:43 AM