So once again we have survived.

Public Enemies

tn_publicenemiesJohnny Depp as John Dillinger is not a bad idea. He’s a charismatic guy, he projects intelligence and mischief. You believe he could pull off those robberies, charm the press and have the cops pulling out their hair. And Christian Bale makes sense as Purvis, the guy tough enough to take him out but who will spend most of the movie failing and fuming.

Michael Mann delivers a more mainstream, less brooding and macho movie than usual, so most people will like it better than MIAMI VICE (but not me). He still uses that style he’s been fond of lately, lots of handheld shots, all shot digitally, kind of a strange choice for a period piece like this, but not too distracting (or revolutionary, either).

It has some real good gunfights. Not the choreographed sort of way that I usually like but more like MIAMI VICE, chaotic in-the-thick-of it kind of scenes, like you’re an embedded reporter, hearing different gun sounds in all directions. Sometimes one whisks past you or hits a wall near you but luckily you survive. It has some tense scenes, a couple chuckles, the actors are all pretty good. There are lots of little surprise appearances to keep you on your toes (Lili Taylor, Stephen Dorff, Giovanni Ribisi, random Leelee Sobieski cameo). I didn’t even realize that was Bill Crudup playing J. Edgar Hoover. Good job Billy. The movie is fine. (read the rest of this shit…)

Knowing

tn_knowingI’m not sure I can say KNOWING is that good of a movie, but I do think it’s kind of crazy and subversive for a PG-13 high concept Nic Cage Hollywood sci-fi thriller. So the more I think about it the more I kind of like it.

Nic Cage plays so-and-so, college professor, scientist, single dad, widower. His son (not one of the better child actors, poor kid) is attending his school’s 50th anniversary celebration when they dig up a time capsule. They pass out the 50 year old childen’s drawings predicting the future and this kid only gets a creepy paper covered in numbers. That night Nic happens to look at it and notices some of the numbers are 9-11-01. He Googles 9-11-01 (I guess he doesn’t know you’re supposed to “never forget”) and finds out the death toll, which is also right there on the paper. Then, in a montage of drunken code-breaking, he stays up all night doing web research and figures out that the entire paper exactly predicts the dates all the biggest disasters of the past 50 years in order and how many people died in each. And there are more numbers that haven’t happened yet. And one’s coming up in a couple days. Oh shit. (read the rest of this shit…)

Not Quite Hollywood + Hurricane Smith

tn_notquitehollywoodNOT QUITE HOLLYWOOD is a pretty good documentary with a really good subject: the history of exploitation movies in Australia. Of course, this is a talking heads and film clips movie, that’s about the only way they could do it. And it tries to cover a broad range of movies over many years, so it doesn’t get real deep into anything. It’s more like a real good TV special than a great movie. It’s a primer, an overview, a sampler to get you started. It gives you a taste of a whole bunch of strange movies you might not have heard of before, points you in some interesting directions, tells you a few good stories. And for that sort of thing it’s very good. (read the rest of this shit…)

Reader plug: Murder Loves Killers Too

tn_mlktThis is not an official review, but I wanted to give some attention to a low budget independent slasher movie called MURDER LOVES KILLERS TOO which just hit DVD and was written and directed by one of my readers, Drew Barnhardt.

Every once in a while somebody sends me their no-budget movie and I’m afraid to watch it because I know they put their blood sweat and tears into it and I don’t want to have to tell them “yeah, sure, I watched it… yeah, good effort, I liked the, uh, some of the lighting was very professional” or whatever. So I had this thing sitting around for months and forgot about it and then for some reason I decided to put it in.

To my surprise MURDER LOVES KILLERS TOO is a very solid (if somewhat home made) slasher movie that’s just to my taste because it follows traditional slasher formulas and gets the mechanics right (tense chases and cat and mouse moments) but has a very weird and darkly humorous but not postmodern twist. There’s some funny shit, some cool DePalmian camerawork and I am told this is the first ever slasher movie with a reference to BARRY LYNDON. There’s not a huge amount of gore and it’s obviously the work of people with no money, but I had a fun time and hope I get to see Drew make a movie with a bit of a budget, because he seems to have the right idea. He told me he had that idea many people have after watching crappy DTV horror movies that he could do something better, but unlike most of us he then went out and did it.

My apologies to other readers whose works I meant to plug and didn’t, but I really want this one to succeed because he told me the idea he has for his next movie and it’s right exactly down the center of my alley.

Transformers Revenge of the Fallen

tn_transformers2Okay, first off, this is not a fair review. I didn’t go into this thing in good faith. I never thought there was a possibility I would genuinely like this movie. So don’t think I’m trying to be objective here. But I’ve been getting emails and comments for months asking me to review this sequel to a movie I hated, and there’s a hell of a conversation going on in the comments for my review of the first one. And to be honest I was strangely excited to see it. It just sounded so insane, and as a fan and scholar of the summer blockbuster movie maybe it was important that I see it, just like I saw MY GIANT for the sake of Seagalogy. Whatever my excuse is, the same guy who got me into the first one for free hooked me up for this one too. So your wish is my command. (read the rest of this shit…)

Michael Jackson

tn_mjIt’s not like there’s anything new that needs to be pointed out about Michael Jackson, but I can’t think about anything else. Over the years I’ve spun off on many tangents about his talent, his fascinating persona and the tragic circumstances of his life, so it’s nothing really new except for the unhappy ending, the lid put on my dreams of what could happen next. But maybe putting it into words again will help me accept that this has really happened. (read the rest of this shit…)

Rest in peace Michael

mjIf you didn’t hear yet, they are reporting that Michael Jackson died. Michael was a true genius and you guys know how much I always dreamed and speculated about the great things he could still do. Well it looks like I’ll miss out on that. I’m devastated about this news so forgive me if I don’t get those reviews I promised up for a bit, I can’t really think about that shit right now.

thanks everybody

Derby

tn_derbyI meant to put this review up months ago when DERBY was new on DVD, but I lost it or something. I bet you didn’t know it came out or that it existed anyway so let’s pretend it’s real timely.

DERBY is a 1971 documentary that you think is gonna be about roller derby. In the locker room team captain Charlie O’Connell talks to a young guy who wants to join the derby and keeps bragging that he can do a handspring on skates. The young guy is Mike Snell, 23 year-old of Dayton, Ohio, father of one, wearer of sunglasses, seems to think he’s James Dean. The cameras follow Mike to his wife, who is very supportive of his plan to quit his job at the tire factory and head to San Francisco for 6 weeks of training that he has to take before he can even try out. Obviously this is gonna be like THE PURSUIT OF HAPPYNESS, he’s gonna pull himself up by the rollerskate straps or whatever. Or at least it’ll follow him as he learns the ropes and at the end he’ll try out and we’ll see if he achieves his dream or not. (read the rest of this shit…)

Mirrors

tn_mirrorsSo we got this French director Alexandre Aja who I think of as one of the good ones, but to tell you the truth he’s more potential than actual achievement at this point. When I read that he wanted to do WOLVERINE, or when I thought about they could’ve hired him for CONAN or FRIDAY THE 13TH instead of Marcus Nispel, I imagine these great movies I think he could’ve made. But this is just based on the chops he showed in HIGH TENSION before the stupid twist derailed the whole thing, and on how much I like his HILLS HAVE EYES remake. But even that has that scene where the “Big Brain” character makes a big speech explaining everything, which makes me cringe every time I think about it.

So I figured if I was gonna be talking this guy up I should see his other two movies and find out if he’s the real deal. His first one is a low budget French sci-fi type deal called FURIA. But here is his latest, MIRRORS, starring Kiefer Sutherland. (read the rest of this shit…)

Tango & Cash

tn_tangoandcashI don’t know if you can sense it in the air or anything. It doesn’t really come until the end of the year, but this is the 20th anniversary of TANGO & CASH. To be honest I don’t think I ever saw this one before, but I wanted to see it and review it a little ahead of all the hoopla. As much as people like you and I are will to talk about TANGO & CASH all the time I’m sure eventually we’re gonna get a little worn out by all the retrospectives and parades and everything that I’m sure they’ve been planning.

So now I’ve seen it and I know TANGO & CASH is a fun but not all that great 1989 action movie that personifies (moviefies?) the excess of the ’80s, and not just because it has a monster truck in it. (read the rest of this shit…)