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Posts Tagged ‘Zoe Bell’

Malignant

Wednesday, September 15th, 2021

A cool thing about MALIGNANT is that the trailers made it look like the new movie from James Wan, the director of INSIDIOUS and THE CONJURING, when it’s actually the new movie from James Wan, the director of INSIDIOUS, THE CONJURING and AQUAMAN. After you direct Dolph Lundgren on a seahorse you’re not content to just do a fuckin demon possession or haunted house for your next horror movie. You gotta go further.

I feel a little out of step for not loving all of Wan’s movies. In my CONJURING 2 review I wrote, “Like all of Wan’s ghost movies, I started out thinking ‘This is one of the most effective ghost movies I’ve seen!’ and ended thinking ‘I guess I just don’t really like ghost movies that much.’” They’re extremely well directed and I have a bunch of nice things to say about them, but I guess that genre just doesn’t do it for me. (And I’m still uncomfortable that the great CONJURING protagonists are based on real life charlatans who never face accountability for their lifetime of exploitation.)

So I’ve always been in the weird position of being more into Modern Master of Horror James Wan’s occasional non-horror movies. FURIOUS SEVEN, of course, and I love AQUAMAN, and it was DEATH SENTENCE that really turned me into a fan. I still think that’s a brilliant and under-recognized version of the “vigilante revenge is not as great as it sounds” story, with some really original and well-executed action sequences, and Kevin Bacon giving a full-hearted dramatic performance unhindered by the pulpiness around him.

In Wan’s first film since AQUAMAN (2018) and first horror film since THE CONJURING 2 (2016) he combines those well-honed horror chops with what he learned from making a movie with an octopus in warpaint playing FURY ROAD drums, and I’m so happy to finally be fully on board a James Wan horror joint. MALIGNANT is a keeper. (read the rest of this shit…)

Camino

Monday, March 15th, 2021

CAMINO is a 2015 actiony thriller starring Zoë Bell. I’ve wanted to see it for years, but there was a whole rigamarole with streaming exclusivity and then not being available at all but eventually it came out on disc (which is how I saw it) and I think you can also watch it on Prime and there’s a special edition blu-ray coming out in June. So here we are.

Bell stars as Avery Taggert, an award winning war photographer. When it opens she’s receiving one such award. She seems ambivalent about her career and life as she gets drunk at the hotel bar with her manager/friend (Kevin Pollak, END OF DAYS), but he convinces her to, rather than go home and rest like a normal human, fly to Colombia the next morning to embed with a group of missionaries through the jungle. (read the rest of this shit…)

Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood

Wednesday, July 31st, 2019

THIS IS A FREE RANGE SPOILER REVIEW. THE SPOILERS ARE NOT KEPT IN CAGES. THEY JUST RUN ALL OVER THE PLACE, INCLUDING THE FIRST COUPLE SENTENCES. SEE THE MOVIE FIRST.

ONCE UPON A TIME… IN HOLLYWOOD is an odd and beautiful movie from… Quentin Tarantino. It’s undeniably one that only he could or would make – it’s even in his now-trademark ‘wish-fulfilling rewrite of a historical atrocity’ mode – but it’s different. It’s not as mean and angry as the last three, or as carefully plotted as any of them. It’s sort of a hang out movie, a day-in-the-life of two friends, and a gentle tale of surviving a mid-life crisis, wrapped in a love letter to Los Angeles of the late ’60s, and to the then-fading leading men of the ’50s, with a chaser of gruesome violence. The fun kind, though. The cathartic kind.

Throughout his career, Tarantino has shown his affinity for cool shit like spaghetti westerns, blaxploitation movies, kung fu and crime novels. Here’s where he says “Fuck it, I also like old cowboy shows and procedurals and stuff.” When the guy who makes film exhibition and criticism a major element of his WWII epic does one that’s actually about the Hollywood film industry, obviously he’s gonna go buck wild. The amount of detail he puts into the fictional career of TV star Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio, two episodes of The New Lassie) – to the point of needing a narrator to talk us through each entry from his Rome period – reaches the level of sci-fi world building. And of course Tarantino, being Tarantino, gives us a soundtrack that drips the sixties without one whiff of Creedence, Dylan, the Doors or Hendrix. Admittedly “Mrs. Robinson” is in there somewhere, but he leans more Deep Purple, Vanilla Fudge and Paul Revere & the Raiders. One of the few I knew was the Neil Diamond song. (read the rest of this shit…)

Thor: Ragnarok

Thursday, November 9th, 2017

Recently some friends and I were choosing favorites between Marvel’s three Chrises. It’s a tough call because Evans (the Captain America one) has the best Marvel series in my opinion, plus he seems like a cool guy in real life and starred in SNOWPIERCER. But Pratt (the Star Lord one) is the funniest and most down-to-earth Chris, and he has the more irreverent Marvel series. I even like his hypermasculine hold-on-I-need-to-roll-up-my-sleeves-so-you-can-see-my-forearms turn in JURASSIC WORLD.

Still, I chose Hemsworth (the Thor one) as my favorite Chris, because here is the most potentially embarrassing of the major Marvel characters, and frankly their least memorable series, but they got this Australian guy I never heard of who looks like He-Man and still was able to fuel the entire first movie on the power of his charisma. I really realized I was a fan when he did Michael Mann’s BLACKHAT. Not only is it a movie I really liked, but it was the first time in a while that one of these new guys displayed the type of manly magnetism that inspired me in the action movies of the ’80s and ’90s. I’m older than him but he made me want to grow up to slick my hair back and do hand stand pushups and read about philosophers.

So thank God his signature character Thor finally gets a movie worthy of his charms. Taika Waititi, the New Zealand writer-director best known for WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS and the great HUNT FOR THE WILDERPEOPLE, completely reinvents the series as a colorful comedy much more in the vein (and sci-fi landcape) of GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY than of the previous THORs. He quickly makes him funny, destroys his hammer, puts him on another planet and has cyborg Stan Lee cut his hair short. So it’s different. (read the rest of this shit…)

The Hateful Eight

Wednesday, December 30th, 2015

tn_hatefuleight(SPOILERS. This is a don’t-read-before-seeing-the-movie review.)

Quentin Tarantino tries out a couple new tricks in his new one, THE HATEFUL EIGHT: he shot in extra-wide 65mm Cinemascope, and helped hook up a bunch of theaters with 70mm projectors (and projectionists, I assume) to show an early, longer version of the movie complete with an overture, intermission and program. He got Ennio Morricone to compose and orchestrate some new music for it (Tarantino’s only previous original scoring was some bits by RZA and Robert Rodriguez for the KILL BILLs). But it also feels pretty familiar: his second extreme-racism western in a row, with chapter titles like KILL BILL, full of conversation suspense scenes like INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS, mostly one location like RESERVOIR DOGS, some non-linear jumps like most of his movies, and a cast with plenty of his regulars (Samuel L. Jackson, Kurt Russell, Tim Roth, Michael Madsen, James Parks, Zoe Bell, Waltong Goggins [I almost forgot he was in DJANGO UNCHAINED). Just as INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS got away with some out-of-the-blue, seemingly incongruous narration by Jackson, HATEFUL EIGHT follows up its intermission with some omniscient narration that you suddenly realize is Tarantino himself. I can see why some people would hate that, but I loved it. I mean, who are we fooling, we all know it’s this guy talking to us through this movie anyway. And it helps kick off the second half with an energy the first was lacking.

Here’s something brand new for a Tarantino movie: I didn’t immediately love it. I’m honestly still trying to figure out how I feel about it. I’m not sure I get it. I remember that with both INGLOURIOUS and DJANGO I had misgivings on the first viewings that later seemed completely irrelevant. With the former it was thinking that Brad Pitt seemed like Brad Pitt playing a funny character, he didn’t inhabit the character the way previous Tarantino leads had. With the latter it was that Tarantino had never done a movie that followed one character chronologically, and it seemed kinda too simple for him. Both of those seem like dumb complaints to me now, and I loved both movies without reservations on subsequent viewings. Even so, their first times I liked better than this first time. (read the rest of this shit…)

Mercenaries

Wednesday, March 18th, 2015

tn_mercenariesThere are innumerable dreams to which humanity aspires: feeding the hungry, building racial harmony, inventing comfortable shoes that also look cool, ending war, etc. Of these goals, the one we’ve come closest to achieving is “a female EXPENDABLES.” But it takes small steps to make big ones.

This was a concept that guys like us were already discussing and backseat casting before the movie news told us it was really in the works. In fact there are two such movies still in development. There’s the one from the producers of the male EXPENDABLES. It was announced before Rowdy Ronda Rousey was in part 3, so I don’t know if they plan to spin off from her character or not. From the sound of it it might not be worthy of a woman that tough. They’re calling it “EXPENDABELLES” and it’s from the director and the writers of LEGALLY BLOND. It was reported that they were trying to get Naomi Watts, Kate Beckinsale, Marcia Gay Harden, Li Bingbing and Mila Kunis. Sigourney Weaver turned it down. I’m gonna go ahead and write this one off.

The other one is from Adi Shankar, the face-paint wearing producer of DREDD and those “bootleg universe” shorts like Joseph Kahn’s POWER/RANGERS. This one reportedly stars Gina Carano (HAYWIRE, FURIOUS 6), Katee Sackhoff (RIDDICK) and maybe Sharni Vinson (YOU’RE NEXT, STEP UP 3), which is a promising start.

But leave it to Asylum, the studio that brought us SHARKNADO and I AM OMEGA, to have theirs already done and released before the other two even settle their casting. Admittedly this DTV female mercenary squad is light on marquee names, but it’s a good team. They have Zoë Bell (DEATH PROOF, THE BAYTOWN OUTLAWS, GAME OF DEATH), Kristanna Loken (TERMINATOR 3, S.W.A.T.: FIREFIGHT), Vivica A. Fox (KILL BILL, THE HARD CORPS, BLAST, SET IT OFF), and, uh, Nicole Bilderback (CLUELESS, BRING IT ON). (read the rest of this shit…)

trailer: MERCENARIES

Tuesday, July 29th, 2014

Well, looks like on August 8th (on VOD and in theaters most likely not near you) we will get the first of the long-promised “female Expendables” movies.

The good news: Zoe Bell, Cynthia Rothrock, Vivica A. Fox, Kristanna Loken, and Brigitte Nielsen as the villain (which I’ve been saying they should do for a while, though I guess I hadn’t thought of it when we first discussed this). The bad news: produced by The Asylum. Also, director Christopher Ray (MEGA SHARK VS. CROCOSAURUS, 2-HEADED SHARK ATTACK, ASTEROID VS. EARTH) also has one coming out called PRISON RAID with pretty much the exact same cast, so who knows how much thought and care they might’ve put into either one of them. Or one of them might be all outtakes.

I’ll give it a shot, though. It’s also worth noting that Asylum is about to work with a world class director known for transcending the limitations of his chosen formats. Z Nation is the name of their upcoming 13-episode zombie tv show for SyFy. Sounds like Asylum Walking Dead, which sounds like the worst thing ever, but the pilot is directed by John Hyams. I read somewhere that he was also the show-runner, but the SyFy websight lists some other guy, so maybe not. Anyway, I’m keeping my fingers crossed, which makes it hard to type but I’m doing it.

Raze

Tuesday, May 20th, 2014

tn_razeOne thing that would really help with the class tensions in the world would be if the rich people would stop betting on so many fucking death matches. I don’t even care if the combatants entered the competition by choice (like in BEST OF THE BEST 2) or if they were kidnapped (like in this). Whatever the context, fancy dressed motherfuckers lustily cheering for bloody death in the ring, cage or arena sends the wrong message about the value of the working man’s life. These fighters, there’s usually one or two greedy ones, one or two assholes, but for the most part they’re just human beings in a bad spot. They gotta feed their family or pay back some money so they don’t lose the dojo or the mob doesn’t kill them or whatever. Or in this one they’ve all been abducted along with their kids and moms and stuff who the bosses are threatening to kill if these ladies fail to fight to the death. You gotta have some respect for their situation and cool down with all the gleeful cheering and high-fiving, you know?

RAZE seems influenced by HOSTEL – victims locked in a dingy, windowless sanctum for the entertainment of rich sickos. Instead of being there to be tortured it’s the ol’ “they’re watching the live feed” as the fighters, all women, are forced to beat each other to death. The killing with bare hands is not 100% believable, especially from the girls who’ve never fought before. But it’s not pretty. It’s repeated head-bashings, strangulation, neck snaps, thumbs in eye sockets. Pretty brutal. The actors and stunt women acquit themselves well, but it’s rare that a shot shows more than one hit without cutting, and that’s a problem. (read the rest of this shit…)

Oblivion

Thursday, April 25th, 2013

tn_oblivionJack Harper (Tom Cruise) is just a working man, you know. After the war with the Scavengers (in which the moon was blown up and shit was fucked up) everybody left Earth for Titan – not the publisher of many fine books but the moon of Saturn that is named after the publisher, from what I understand. Now, I don’t want to stereotype, but alot of humans tend to like Titan for its dense atmosphere and stable bodies of surface liquid. One of the top moons for human life.

Down here we still got drone robots that fly around the wreckage trying to kill off the surviving space-insurgents, and Jack is one of the drone repairmen. By night he stays in a nice little house up on a platform, by day he flies around in his dragonfly shaped bubbleship tracking the drones and fixing them. He seems to like the alone time, but it’s not an I AM LEGEND situation, he does enjoy the company of his partner (wife?) Victoria (Andrea Riseborough) back at home and his boss Sally (Melissa Leo) via satellite from the space station they’ll be going to in a couple weeks before they finally get to go live on Titan with the cool kids.
(read the rest of this shit…)

Baytown Outlaws

Monday, April 8th, 2013

tn_baytownoutlawsI only gave this a chance because I knew Zoe Bell was in it somewhere and I thought it starred Billy Bob Thornton. Turns out both are pretty small parts. And the opening has alot of signs that this is one of these post-GRINDHOUSE prefab exploitation movies that I can’t stand. It uses that old stylistic device that has pretty much never been used in a cool way, the freeze-frame-turns-into-shitty-Photoshop-tracing-that’s-supposed-to-look-like-a-comic-book-panel. The titlated outlaws are three crazy gunhappy berserker redneck brothers, the unshaven type with greasy hair and fetishistically dirty tank tops, ugly tattoos, biker jewelry, of course a rebel flag on one of them. #1, I don’t understand why these type of characters are so appealing to people who make movies like this, and #2 are we at a point where SMOKIN’ ACES is actually an influential film? Holy shit. I thought I was the only one who liked some parts of that.

But you know what? This BAYTOWN OUTLAWS isn’t bad. It won me over. (read the rest of this shit…)