Film Review: Donald Cried

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Some things will never change. Some things will always be the same. Lean down your ear upon the earth and listen. ― Thomas Wolfe, You Can’t Go Home Again

Well, sometimes reverent listening isn’t all it’s cracked up to be when you go home and find things not only unchanged, but unhinged. Kris Avedisian’s excellent Donald Cried is a great, gloriously uncomfortable can’t-miss classic, a bleak comedy (it’s not for the kids!) with a sentimental side that will get under your skin if you identify with any of the characters portrayed here. Even if you don’t, you’ll be laughing one moment and reflecting the next. A sort of love child of Chuck and Buck, The Odd Couple and Curb Your Enthusiasm, the film serves up a perfect trip to hell for its poor protagonist, Peter Latang (Jesse Wakeman) after he heads up to Rhode Island to take care of his late grandmother’s affairs. Continue reading

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Bill Paxton: It’s Hard To Forget The Guy You Saw In Everything


 

So, we’ve lost Bill Paxton too. Foo. Rather than run clips or comments of and about the well-known sci-fi/fantasy flicks he was a part of, I’ll just leave two viewing suggestions you may not have seen or maybe have seen but not in a while. Up top is One False Move, director Carl Franklin’s great, kind of 90’s noir about a trio of criminals who commit a series of murders in Los Angeles and escape to the tiny town of Star City, Arkansas. Paxton played the bored and too eager for action sheriff Dale “Hurricane” Dixon who gets more than he bargains for after LAPD detectives roll into town. The film also features Billy Bob Thornton (who co-wrote the story with Tom Epperson) in a key role as one of the killers. I won’t spoil more other than to say it’s a brilliant thriller with a few curve balls up its sleeve.


 

The second film is in my opinion, Sam Raimi’s most perfect movie, 1998’s A Simple Plan. Author Scott Smith adapted his great 1993 novel into the screenplay and we get Paxton and Thornton working together again as Hank and Jacob Mitchell, two brothers who along with a friend of Jacob’s (Brent Briscoe), discover a crashed plane with a dead pilot and over 4 million dollars in cash inside. Yes, the take the money. Hank being the smartest of the bunch keeps it safe, but things go deep south as greed, anger and a bit of murder follow the man and their ill-gotten sack of loot. Both films would make a nice double feature, but feel free to add the excellent, disturbing Paxton-directed thriller Frailty to that short stack (or tall stack if it’s a marathon):


 

Yeah, I said two films, I know. But I think Bill would have probably appreciated the gesture, this going off script stuff. So long, pal – you made the movies you were in a lot better for a good while and will continue to do so each time fans go back and discover or rediscover everything you were part of.

-GW

The Sword & Sandal Blogathon Kicks Sand in My Mojo-Stopper’s Face

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Stuff is still slightly bumpy here on a few key levels (I’m having the worst luck with tech in this crazy year of stuff breaking or vanishing), but from the heavens comes some inspiration. THANKS, Debs!. I’ll be doing covering Hundra, Matt Cimber’s underrated 1983 fantasy flick that features an exuberant performance from Laurene Landon in the title role. Keep an eye peeled… or I’ll do it for you, grrr!.

Back in a bit.

READS: Cult Cinema: An Arrow Video Companion

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Yeah, you know you want it NOW. But you’ll need to wait until February 24 to get your sweaty little palms on it. Cult Cinema: An Arrow Video Companion (MSRP $69.99) is a gorgeous limited edition hardcover tome that’s 246 pages thick and chock full of big and little words about cult film, its history, stars, and why the sub-genre is so beloved and necessary. You could probably beat someone who disagrees with your entertainment choices quite senseless with this book (which measures about 8.5 x 11 inches). But that’s really not a good idea as you probably also can’t take it to jail with you to catch up on your required reading. That and if you watch enough cult films you KNOW the warden’s going to be a real jerk and a half (plus tax).

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Featuring the writing of: Robin Bougie, Michael Brooke, Paul Corupe, David Del Valle, David Flint, Cullen Gallagher, Kevin Gilvear, Joel Harley, David Hayles, Pasquale Iannone, Alan Jones, Tim Lucas, Michael Mackenzie, Maitland McDonagh, Tom Mes, John Kenneth Muir, Kim Newman, James Oliver, Vic Pratt, Jasper Sharp, Kenneth J. Souza, Mike Sutton, Stephen Thrower, Caelum Vatnsdal, and Doug Weir, there’s enough here to start (or close) several cinematic conversations. I’m still poring through a PDF review copy, but so far I’m significantly entertained enough to say it’s a must-buy, especially if you’ve been building up your collection of Arrow Video Blu-Ray/DVD sets since the North American kickoff through MVD Entertainment Group.

READS: Anyone Want A Big Deal, Big-Ass Movie Criticism Book from 1971?

NYTDOTF (1) Merry Christmas and all that stuff like that there! Okay,unlike the previous giveaway post this isn’t quite a freebie, but more of a trade of sorts. I’m clearing out a closet full of assorted things here and figure someone who loves movies might want this rather thick and heavy old tome. As you can see, it’s the 1971 volume of The New York Times Directory of The Film, which is 1243 pages thick and packed with reviews of the papers top ten films from the years 1924 to 1969 (but I think a few 1970 films get mentioned). Read on for more info!…

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Nymph()maniac Update: Lots of Little Deaths & Big Shocks Abound. NSFW? Yup.

NMP17Oh, the di-lemma, boys and girls. I’ve been holding off posting more stuff about Lars Von Trier’s upcoming two-part epic just because I was holding out to see what sorts of trailers would get run and perhaps maybe hear some impressions from people online who may have seen some of the final version of the film. Well, in the former case, the super NSFW Red Band trailer (SERIOUSLY, don’t click that link if you’re a prude, please) kicks off with a not so subliminal insert shot for the ages before it goes into gasp-worthy territory and in the latter case, I may as well wait for the overseas premiere on Christmas Day (yup, that’s riiiiight) and see what’s said about part one. I have the feeling that it’s going to not be a happy flick about pleasure along the lines of Shortbus at all. But when you sit down for a Lars Von Trier film, you kind of know you’re not getting something with a (wait for it…) happy ending… Continue reading

Lars Von Trier’s NYMPH()MANIAC: Five Hour Erections Guaranteed, No Pills Required.

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“Side effects may include…”

NymphomaniacSoooo, Lars Von Treir’s new film is called Nymph()maniac (or, Nymphomaniac for those of you who don’t get the spelling or the obvious imagery from that simple teaser poster to the left. Two films. Five hours. Lots of sex. Not for kids (unless you want those freshly traumatized kids who want to strangle you in your sleep for taking them to a Lars Von Trier film). Coming in explicit and non-explicit versions. Probably won’t make its cost back in theaters, but on home video where folks can see it in private. Guaranteed to be controversial on certain “news” channels. And so forth and so on. I was going to run some of the many posters of the cast in solo poses, but they’re probably a bit too NSFW for some tastes. That said, you can check them out (and yes, download them if you like. You KNOW you want to) on the official movie site (they’re HUGE) and go mark your calendar or whatever it is you do when a Von Trier film comes out. Let’s see now… I wonder how many discs these two flick will get when it does get released on Blu-Ray? And if it’ll come in a plain brown wrapper (ha, ha).

Expect half-full theaters on uncomfortable people giggling nervously and looking at the walls or ceiling in spots and the usual fearless hipsters bringing their dates when this one reaches theaters. Well, it hits Europe on Christmas Day 2013 (which is pretty amazing if you think about it), but there’s no North American release date just yet. Hmmmm… I wonder what the US ads and TV commercials will look like once the Puritans get to them?

Random Film(s) Of The Week: Psychological Edition (Part 1)

OK, I went over my usual one title by a few as you’ll soon read, but I actually started this as a very different article revolving around Konami’s Silent Hill HD Collection (before it slipped into delay mode). Still, what with Valentine’s Day coming up along with my usual visceral reaction to the holiday (Yuck!), I may as well be nice for a change and share some really strange candy with you.

Don’t say you weren’t warned, though…

Konami’s hugely popular horror game franchise, Silent Hill, has been a personal favorite of mine ever since I got a demo from their PR department not too long after E3 1998. At that time, I was working in an independent game shop that also was expanding into publishing reviews, articles and features on the site (and later in a magazine published by the store). When the game was finally released in January 1999, I had to review it overnight for the web site. After about 11 or so hours of playing and taking copious notes on everything from the major differences from the demo to pointing out the assorted cinematic and literary influences I saw, I wrote an exceedingly lengthy (and a wee bit too cerebral) review.  All of that hard word ended up being brutally chopped down to a mere three or four paragraphs, but a few years later after leaving the shop (and in between jobs), I reworked my original draft and posted it on GameFaqs.

While horror-themed games have been around for a while, pure psychological horror as a thematic element was somewhat new to console games at that time while movies have been using it for decades prior. As I’ve gone back to the Silent Hill series numerous times, I’ve seen a number of parallels between imagery in the series and the films on this list. Below the jump, I’m going to introduce (or reintroduce) you to some of these unsettling films with the hope that you seek them out and experience a bit of sheer fright for yourselves before or after you play (or replay) any of the games in the series…

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Sorry, Chuck Norris – Liam Neeson’s Face Can Kick Your Ass Any Day…

Now, I haven’t even seen The Grey yet, but it’s getting decent reviews and this is Neeson’s what, third or fourth action movie role where he’s basically not taking any crap from anything on two (and now four) legs. Meanwhile, Old Fart, Texas Walker hasn’t made a decent film in ages, is shilling a janky exercise machine on late-nite infomercials, stumping for desperate political candidates who need an old-ass “star” power endorsement and oh yeah, he might be playing World of Warcraft. *snore…*

Yeah, yeah… so what if he’s a BIG internet meme with a huge following from back when he was younger, stronger and starring in some bad-ass action flicks where he always came out ahead. Whatever. I always see him as the hairy guy who got a beat-down he didn’t get up from in Way of the Dragon, so perhaps I’m a little biased. Anyway, I’m sure Chuck-O can lay out Liam in an actual fistfight (at some point), but I’d bet he’d break a hip throwing that knockout punch. And hell, you’re not taking down any Irishman without a good fight, last time I heard…

Random Film Of The Week: A Matter Of Life and Death (Stairway to Heaven)

(thanks, littleiceage!)

A Matter of Life and Death_MPI’d heard about this classic 1946 British film from a few people over the years (it was released in the US as “Stairway to Heaven”, a title disliked by the directors), but thanks to TCM, last night I finally got the chance to see this Michael Powell/Emeric Pressburger gem and it’s about as perfect a movie as I can recommend to anyone. This isn’t a review at all, but more of a quick recommendation.

Check out the great sequence above and track down a copy somewhere, add it to your Netflix or other (LEGAL) film download queues and give it a look as soon as possible, I say. As with Powell and Pressburger’s other films for The Archers, the visual style, use of color (the amazing Technicolor work and scene transitions from color to black & white are flawless) and of course, the story and acting are all on point. Additionally, the stunning cinematography by Jack Cardiff makes for some memorable artistic moments where it counts.

(BTW, Powell’s The Red Shoes also comes highly recommended if you’ve never seen it and makes a stellar companion piece to Darren Aronofsky’s Black Swan, as both contain similar thematic elements)