"KEEP BUSTIN'."

Archive for the ‘Comedy/Laffs’ Category

Blood Paradise

Thursday, December 5th, 2019

BLOOD PARADISE is a 2018 independent horror film that was released in July by Artsploitation on disc and digital – they must’ve sent it to me because I was on their list from reviewing RONDO. Like that one it’s a low budget movie from some hard working unknowns, but it gets huge mileage out of a great cast, some good cinematography and nice scenery. It’s simple, but it’s slick and has a distinct oddness and humor, and it’s over in 84 minutes without feeling rushed. Not bad.

Robin Richards (Andréa Winter) is a rich and world famous author of what I gather to be the type of novels that sell alot of hard cover copies at airports. But the latest in her once popular Blood Paradise series is a flop, so her agent convinces her to go on a retreat. Why not stop all this laying around in the sun at her picturesque Italian villa when she could rent a small cottage on a farm in Sweden and get started on the next book?

The accommodations turn out to be less than luxurious, and she’s not the kind of person who enjoys seeing farm animals slaughtered outside her window. As if that’s not bad enough, it quickly becomes clear that she’s surrounded by potential creepos. Whether they are just weird or worthy of fearing remains to be seen. (read the rest of this shit…)

Parasite

Wednesday, December 4th, 2019

This is a rare one for me: I saw PARASITE having no clue what it was about at all. Completely fresh. I saw the trailer 1 (one) time and didn’t understand what was going on. But I liked the three movies I’ve seen by director Bong Joon-ho (SNOWPIERCER) enough to just take the hype at its word and go see it. And since two of those movies (THE HOST and OKJA) are strange creature movies I honestly didn’t even know if the title was a metaphor or if there was also going to be an actual parasitic monster at some point.

Anyway it’s not a huge surprise twist movie or anything, but I enjoyed the lack of expectations. So I guess only read this if you’ve seen it or don’t care about that. (contains spoilers, mostly vague.)

It’s the story of the Kim family – father Ki-taek (Song Kang-ho, THE GOOD, THE BAD, THE WEIRD), mother Chung-sook (Jang Hye-jin), son Ki-woo (Choi Woo-shik, TRAIN TO BUSAN) and daughter Ki-jeong (Park So-dam, THE SILENCED) – who seem to take economic struggle in stride. They live together in a cluttered basement infested by stink bugs, with a window facing an alley where they often see a drunk guy peeing. In the opening scene they discover that their neighbor added a password to her wi-fi, but they can connect to a nearby cafe if they crawl into the top corner of the apartment on the raised platform with the toilet. Which is important because they need WhatsApp to communicate with the young manager of Pizza Generation (Jung Yi-seo) who pays them to fold boxes. (read the rest of this shit…)

Knives Out

Monday, December 2nd, 2019

I was a Rian Johnson skeptic for years. I can’t deny it. I recognized BRICK as original and well directed, but couldn’t swallow its stylized world of teen noir (“in my day a dude walking around with a duck cane was in for a serious ass beating, he would not be running a drug empire,” I wrote), skipped the second one because I thought it was gonna be bootleg Wes Anderson, liked LOOPER but recoiled at people talking like it was the Second Coming (“I feel a little out of step here. I mean I like it, but I don’t want to fuck it”), and this may be out of line but I have always thought his credits should read “Written and directed by Rian [sic] Johnson.”

Then STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI came along – a movie I didn’t think he was qualified to direct, but it turned out to be so much better than I expected, and so reinvigorating to a trilogy I thought was going in an emptier, more obvious direction. All the sudden I wanted to hear everything the guy had to say, listened to interviews, started spelling “Ryan Coogler” as “Rian Coogler,” and even considered maybe seeing THE BROTHERS BLOOM some day.

So I was much more open-minded for his new laughdunit mysteryblast KNIVES OUT, which sure enough is a fun time for all without anything that felt too corny, forced or self conscious for me. Only in the last shot did I think “oh, this is kind of Wes Andersony.” And by then it wasn’t gonna bother me much. (read the rest of this shit…)

Satanic Panic

Friday, October 25th, 2019

In SATANIC PANIC – a new Fangoria Films release that came out on disc this week after film festival and VOD runs – Sam (Hayley Griffith) is working her first shift delivering pizzas. She’s completely broke and low on gas, and her skeevy co-workers stick her with deliveries to a notoriously stingy neighborhood. This would be shitty, but not disastrous, if only she didn’t get desperate and storm into a mansion to demand a tip… during a satanic sacrifice ritual to raise the demon Baphomet. See, it’s a time sensitive full moon thing, they’re short one virgin, and through contrived but humorous dialogue they figure out that Sam fits the bill. So she’s gonna have bigger problems than lack of gas money.

You know I’m a sucker for these class tension stories. Sam works for $2.30 an hour plus tips and these upper class assholes refuse to chip in – just as Lucifer would want it. Danica Ross (Rebecca Romijn, FEMME FATALE) leads the coven, a villainous type of role I’ve never seen her in, and she clearly has a fun time. Even better is her squeaky-voiced hippie-turbaned rival Gypsy Neumieir (Arden Myrin, Mad TV), whose disagreements with Danica’s blood sacrifice plans play like some drama at the planning committee for a pancake social. (read the rest of this shit…)

Dolemite Is My Name

Wednesday, October 23rd, 2019

DOLEMITE IS MY NAME is a dream come true – topnotch director, writers and cast making a beautiful, warm, well produced triumph-of-the-underdog epic about Rudy Ray Moore, the small time club singer who reinvented himself by selling dirty comedy records out of the trunk of his car and then strutting his way into independent filmmaking. The script is by kings of the oddball biopic Scott Alexander & Larry Karaszewski (THE PEOPLE VS. LARRY FLYNT, MAN ON THE MOON, The People vs. O.J. Simpson) and it’s got a whole lot in common with their best film, ED WOOD. It’s another story about an L.A. misfit perceived as a failure who, through tenacity and lack of self consciousness, puts together a family of people to will their silly, awesome dreams into reality.

ED WOOD glorifies people whose work was and continues to be made fun of, arguing that the passion and personality behind these works imbues them with an artistic purity and value that they hadn’t previously been given credit for. Moore and friends work with a similar scrappily amateurish zeal, but they in fact made a hit movie that, at least in some parts, was intended to be laughed at. So the happy ending in this one is real! (read the rest of this shit…)

Ready or Not

Monday, September 9th, 2019

READY OR NOT is a funny horror movie about one of the less romantic wedding nights. Grace (Samara Weaving, Ash vs. Evil Dead, MONSTER TRUCKS, THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING MISSOURI) is nervous about marrying into the Le Domas family, who are super rich from their great grandfather or whoever’s board game company. So when the groom, Alex (Mark O’Brien, ARRIVAL), explains the family tradition that at midnight they have to go downstairs and play a game with the family, she doesn’t complain. She’ll do any silly thing to win them over.

They challenge her to a game of hide and seek. If she can stay away from them until dawn, she wins. She laughs and doesn’t take it seriously until she realizes they’re taking it very seriously. Like, trying to kill her seriously. (read the rest of this shit…)

Cobra Kai (Season 1)

Thursday, September 5th, 2019

I don’t have the attachment many people I know have to the KARATE KID movies. But I’m kinda into their mythology, especially after my recent dip into the more over-the-top b-movie villainy of part III. So I excitedly took advantage of a free window (until September 11th) to watch the ten half-hour-ish episodes in the first season of the premium Youtube series Cobra Kai.

Even in today’s gold rush for nostalgic i.p. this seems like a too-good-to-be-true sequel scenario, especially for my interests. Ralph Macchio – now actually older than Pat Morita was in the first movie! – returns as Daniel LaRusso, but so does William Zabka as part 1 nemesis Johnny Lawrence, and even though Macchio gets top billing, Zabka is treated as the underdog hero, like Iceman Chambers in UNDISPUTED II, or like I wanted them to do with Martin Kove’s villainous sensei John Kreese after seeing him down and out in the opening scenes of KARATE KID III. Broke, washed up, divorced, drinking Coors all day, still listening to Ratt and wearing Van Halen t-shirts, Johnny attempts to re-open the Cobra Kai dojo in a strip mall next to a vape store. But he’s so bad at salesmanship he ends up having only one student, a nice kid named Miguel (Xolo Mariduena, Parenthood) who tempers some of his worst tendencies while being empowered by his macho tough love and “strike first, strike hard, no mercy” philosophy. (read the rest of this shit…)

Never On Tuesday

Wednesday, August 21st, 2019

Recently I saw multiple articles about a scene from an obscure movie that someone had appreciatively posted on Twitter – “that insane Nicolas Cage viral clip,” as Entertainment Weekly put it. Can you believe that Youtube clip he did? The inside story of that Youtube clip he did. What a nut! What a meme! What a Nicolas Cage!

The clip was a very brief and strange uncredited cameo Cage did in the 1989 straight to video sex comedy NEVER ON TUESDAY. It had never made it to DVD because the company that had planned to went out of business first. I’d never seen it even though it’s the first movie from a director I like, Adam Rifkin (PSYCHO COP 2, THE LAST MOVIE STAR).

It’s great that we have the technology to easily share shit like this, but I’m old school so I waited to watch the whole thing. When I checked Amazon it was listed as “currently unavailable” on both VHS and Prime streaming (which I don’t get anyway), but luckily we’re still holding on to Scarecrow Video here in Seattle, so I rented the tape. I’m glad I did!

(read the rest of this shit…)

Fast & Furious Presents Hobbs & Shaw

Monday, August 5th, 2019

I’ve been enjoying all of the THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS movies since the early 2000s, so even though part four, FAST & FURIOUS, does not rank high in the series for me, when it decides to present a separate movie about characters introduced in parts 5 and 6, respectively, it gets my attention. And also I like ampersands. For these reasons, FAST & FURIOUS PRESENTS HOBBS & SHAW was one of my most anticipated movies of the summer.

Of course, you gotta have realistic expectations when it comes to presentations. There’s a pretty big difference between, say, DJANGO UNCHAINED, A FILM BY QUENTIN TARANTINO and QUENTIN TARANTINO PRESENTS MY NAME IS MODESTY. I definitely don’t think this spinoff is as good as the FAST series proper, but there’s a part where a helicopter is hooked onto a truck that’s chained to a line of several hot rods and they’re all raised off the ground driving on two wheels along a cliff. So I enjoyed it. (read the rest of this shit…)

The Dead Don’t Die

Wednesday, July 3rd, 2019

Jim Jarmusch’s zombie comedy THE DEAD DON’T DIE is… I mean, it’s a zombie comedy by Jim Jarmusch. Which is unexpected. When the trailer came out I couldn’t tell if they were trying to mislead us or if Jarmusch had made something totally different from his other movies. The answer is in the middle, leaning toward the first one. It feels closer to normal Jarmusch than to, like, SHAUN OF THE DEAD. It’s high on oddness and quirk, low on concept, plot structure or traditional resolution. Compared to ZOMBIELAND or TUCKER AND DALE or something the humor is bone dry and the pace is molasses slow.

But by LIMITS OF CONTROL standards it’s an action packed thrill-o-rama. It has a whole bunch of zombies digging out of graves like Thriller or RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD, pulling out people’s intestines for a snack, and getting their heads chopped or blown off. They’re respectable zombies, too – o.g. slow shambling style, some personality to them, one played by Iggy Pop (DEAD MAN, THE CROW: CITY OF ANGELS). There’s one pretty distinctive touch in that they emit puffs of dust from their wounds. I imagine Jarmusch worked with more FX people on this than on all his other movies combined. (read the rest of this shit…)