The Criterions, Collected (But Not As You’d Think)

radio days

I was walking down the street one day…

So, this happened a few months ago, but I took my time in writing it because well, among other things, I didn’t have any photos for the article and I want to NOT reveal the location of where the shop noted is because they do have some nice pre-owned movies from time to time. Just not these movies as you’ll soon see. ‘Other things’ would be needing to look up photos on the Criterion site and fitting in references and links, something I didn’t want to do initially because I do need to get some of these films and that reminder pokes at my poor wallet each time I look at the site.

Note: I initially chopped down the story significantly because it’s the holidays and you really don’t need to read a lot here because you’ll be putting a bike together, or setting a digital clock on something, and you won’t have time to do more than throw your hands up and throw a badly written instruction manual in the trash, only to retrieve it when you realize the layout was backwards or a page was printed out of order and upside down. I restored the text because when I thought about it, you may as well have a hearty laugh today at my expense because someone will likely roll over your foot with that new bike or attempt to shoot your eye out like Moe Green in The Godfather (or was it in A Christmas Tale?*) if you got them that BB gun they wanted so badly.

Anyway, take a leap below the jump, and prepare for a fall in which we stick the landing, just not the landing we expected.

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Review: Independence Day: Resurgence

independence_day_resurgence_xlgWe really didn’t need a sequel to Roland Emmerich’s Independence Day, but one got made anyway. The first film was a big, loud and (at the time) expensive chunk of mindless summer fun that grossed over $800 million at the box office and paved the way for even more mindless blockbusters that featured cardboard characters, paper-thin plots, and more (and questionably “better”) computer generated effects. I liked it enough to see it four times (hey, those visual effects were pretty stunning back then) and later bought it on VHS, lenticular insert card and all.

The 20 years too late sequel, Independence Day: Resurgence ups the ante considerably by making everything bigger, dumber, faster and louder to the point that it’s a mind-numbing, confusing mess from start to finish. Hey, if you like your popcorn movies quite popcorn-y and don’t mind two solid hours of a simplistic yet convoluted plot, by the numbers acting and countless millions (or billions, it’s hard to tell) killed before the end credits, I’m not here to poop on your parade at all.

On the other hand, I want some actual science back in my science fiction. And physics. And something resembling a comprehensible plot that doesn’t insult what little intelligence I have left. None of those are here and the film’s way too cheery ending promising an even bigger and more bombastic third entry ends up dooming this “franchise” to maybe network TV movie or limited series status at best (that is, if someone at Fox has the brains to even think of going that safer route).

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Film Review: Donald Cried


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

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.


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


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


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).


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.


“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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