Monday, December 21, 2009

Guest Post - Christmas Terror

This list supplied by Molly Hodgdon (aka Undead Molly)

By this time of the month you might be ready for some non-traditional Christmas movie fare. I love yuletide, but I will admit to feeling like all I want for Christmas is a sniper rifle and a clock tower sometimes. The music... the crazy-eyed shopping hoards... constant SPEND SPEND SPEND propaganda assaulting my senses.

Here are some of my picks (all available at Waterfront Video, of course) for a delightfully twisted holiday season.

Gremlins: Most people remember the creatures and The Rules (no food after midnight, don't get them wet, don't let light hit them), but I'm surprised how many people forget that Gremlins is also a Christmas movie! If you haven't seen Joe Dante's fun, funny, scary classic in awhile you should definitely check it out and make it part of your Christmas tradition.

Tales from the Crypt: Season 1, Episode 2: Robert Zemeckis directed this short but sweet santa slasher vignette. It's worth watching just for the Crypt Keeper's awesomely horrible puns.

Jack Frost: There are two movies titled "Jack Frost" about snowmen who are mystically infused with human spirit and brought to life. If you want to see one of the most ridiculous, infamous, and unique shower murder scenes in horror movie history, make sure you're renting the 1996 version written and directed by Michael Cooney, not the 1998 Michael Keaton family feel-good rubbish. You can also rent the sequel for a killer snowman marathon if you think you can handle it.

Christmas Nightmare:
A young couple is in danger when the spirit of a long ago murderer possesses the FBI agent who is supposed to be protecting them.

Black Christmas: (1974) It's not just one of my favorite Christmas horror movies, it's one of my favorite slasher films in general. It is considered by many (including me) to be important to the evolution of the slasher genre and I frankly don't think Halloween would ever have been made if John Carpenter hadn't been inspired by it. If you only check out one film on this list, let it be this one!

Black Christmas: (2006) It's a remake of the 1974 original. It's, um... a remake.

Two Front Teeth: This is a totally fun no-budget wackadoo horror flick! What they lacked in funds they sure did make for in enthusiasm. You will not find a more elaborately weird plot or more Christmas-themed sexual double entendres anywhere.

Silent Night, Deadly Night: The name kind of says it all, doesn't it? The story of Billy, the lonely orphan who grows up to be a very merry spree killer. Very controversial when it was released in 1984 because it was the first mainstream film to portray someone costumed as St. Nick stabbing folks. It was condemned by national child advocacy groups and every major critic including Leonard Maltin who said, "What's next, the Easter Bunny as a child molester?". Rent this nasty Christmas classic and have an eggnog toast to the progress of cinematic degeneracy.

Merry Christmas everybody!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Coming Distractions December 22nd, 2009

District 9
(500) Days of Summer
It Might Get Loud
Beyond a Reasonable Doubt
Staten Island
All About Steve
Family Guy: Something, Something, Something, Darkside

It is the time for year-end best of lists, since we always love to jump the gun on these things. We can't let time get the best of us! Take cars, for instance. A 2010 vehicle becomes available in 2009. Does this make us a year ahead or a year behind? Either way, you probably shouldn't buy a new car. Not a sound investment with the astonishing value percentage it loses as soon as you drive it off the lot.

Best Movies of the Year by John Waters in ArtForum. A teaser: he loves Depression Porn (a new genre) and AntiChrist (coming to the Roxy January 22nd!). Also, In the Loop, which I have to disagree with because although the gum bleeding scene was very funny, my ears were also bleeding by the end from the incessant shouting. Psst: it's not funnier just because you said it louder. I love this list though, because from the few scant comments I can really see why Waters got off on these movies.

I hear tell that Lars von Trier and David Lynch have their own best of '09 lists out, but I can't seem to find them anywhere on this interweb.

So, now that I feel I have given you a sufficient opportunity to read other people's lists, I will provide you with a few of my favorites. I don't like to be too exact about these things, so here are some of the titles, in no particular order, that I enjoyed the most in the last year.
My Winnipeg: I really loved the fantastical twists and turns this movie takes. Guy Maddin is an expert on producing a dreamlike movie full of non sequitur logic where the viewer doesn't feel left behind, stranded on the rocky shores of reality. I have it on good authority from a friend who grew up in Winnipeg that nothing in this movie is factually true, except for the stuff that is.

District 9: And hey! Look at that, it's coming out on Tuesday. (purely coincidence. seriously). I thought it was really masterful how District 9 sets up the convention of the documentary/news reel in the beginning and then drops it pretty quickly, which allows you to fully get into the story without the handheld camera nausea that is so common in film-viewing today. Very edge of your seat exciting, and the genocidal metaphors are not too heavy handed.

Limits of Control: I would never go out of my way to recommend Jim Jarmusch's new film to anyone who wasn't already interested, but it was exactly what I wanted when I wanted it. Which was, I have to say, calming. I know that's not what a person is generally looking for when they hit up the video rental store. I also can agree with the criticism that Jarmusch shouldn't have bothered hinting at some kind of under plot if he is never really gonna let us in on it. I've also read reviews that inferred the movie was a bigger metaphor about the imagination and blah blah. This is a travel movie. And that's what I loved about it. It made me feel like I went somewhere. It made me feel like I was on a great road trip, where nothing really happened but it felt significant all the same.

The Changeling: I was very delighted to stumble upon this classic ghost story. Why don't we make movies like this any more?

Wire in the Blood: This show is British mystery at its best. It has those outrageous twists we all long for. I love Robson Green as the disorganized psychologist with uncanny insight into the criminal mind. To tell you the truth, I still feel a little bereft when I realize I don't have any more episodes to watch...

Away We Go: I thought this movie was pretty under-rated. It seem to get a very lackluster "yeah, good, kinda..." response. I thought it as a great mix of funny and serious (see also Funny People, which I enjoyed the whole way through. Maybe I didn't have the issues other people did because I watched the extended version and not the theatrical although there's only about a 6 min difference? Or else everyone is just wrong, which, as you know, is always a possibility), and I just found it plain old touching, in the best kind of way. I do believe, however, that movies need to get off the Juno cover band wagon and leave behind the sketchy cartoon drawing and predominant use of orange. Can't judge a movie by its indie-tastic cover.

The Young Poisoner's Handbook: An inspiration true story. Has a similar off-kilter feel to Parents.
Pretty Poison: I'm kind of kidding. This movie definitely isn't great, or even that good, but it has got some truly hilarious lines of dialogue. For example:

Dennis Pitt: Boy. What a week. I met you on Monday, fell in love with you on Tuesday, Wednesday I was unfaithful, Thursday we killed a guy together. How about that for a crazy week, Sue Ann?
Sue Ann Stepanek: "Unfaithful Wednesday?"
Dennis Pitt: I was just joking, Sue Anne. That was in another country. Forget it. I do, no kidding, love you. I love you.

Maybe you need to see it in its entirety.

Alright, that's enough for today. So, how are you feeling about movies this past year?

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Coming Distractions December 15th, 2009

The Hangover
Inglourious Basterds
Taking Woodstock
The Other Man
The Headless Woman
The Tudors - 3rd Season

Please head to the post below for the first in our series of guest posts (our holiday gift to you! Yay all around!). If you would like to submit your own post (for example, some kind of favorites list) feel free to contact us and we can work out the details.

Also, if you are sick of all those classic old Christmas songs you've heard a million times before, but feel you need some festive music for your holiday shindig check out the Pure Pop Blog where I will soon have a guest post up about some original numbers that I think you might love.

Guest Post - Tanner McCuin - Best of the Aughts

Tanner McCuin is a freelance web designer & record store jerk. Occasionally he listens to some music and watches a movie. Someday he hopes to grow a proper beard.

My top 10 most Riveting Films of the 2000's.

This is a tough list to compile - I won't even dare say it's comprehensive, but i think in some respects, a list right off the top of the head is more revealing and honest, than one well researched and documented. Yeah, sure - that sounds good.

I have a lot of criteria for what constitutes a riveting film, while the end result is always the same, quickened pulse, wide staring eyes, lost time, sudden embarrassing emotional outburst in crowded theaters - the criteria itself varies - i like to think of myself a cinematic relativist - i try not to pander to a film, but i do try and understand it by it's own language, within it's genre, and by the scope and breadth of it's intent, (or at least, what i perceive of it's intent) and ability to achieve that intent. A fairly long explanation for what essential constitutes "My personal taste, so go **** yourself" but i digress. The list.

The Descent (2005) - This film gave me a panic attack - a couple of times. I still love to watch it when i get the chance to break it out on someone who's never seen it before. I was a fan of the director's first effort, Dog Soldiers, a somewhat goofy but fun and skillfully put together werewolf meets predator romp, but the Descent is by far the better film. Before the creatures even show up (and they show up earlier than you might have originally noticed) you're already white knuckling it from the claustrophobic tunnel action. Combine the two elements, add a non cliche, all girl cast, and an (original version) ending that doesn't pull punches, and you've got a classic horror / thriller.

The Fountai
n (2006) - Speaking of lofty themes and Archetypes... The Fountain pretty much takes the cake in that department. If i remember correctly i had tears in my eyes when i walked out of the theater and a deep feeling that i had just watched a remarkably personal, yet universal film - The fear of death, necrophobia, is a distinctly human fear, and in our uncertain and potentially meaningless post-modern times, is extremely resonant - that Aronofsky wrote this one in the wake of losing a parent makes sense - there's a fervor and a disregard present throughout this movie, like a whirling dervish of emotion and catharsis and while many critics complained of a train wreck, it felt more like a rocket to the sun, or the movie's protagonist, hurtling himself towards an uncertain blissful oblivion.

Children Of Men (2006) - If this list were numbered, this would probably be #1 - I think i cried after this one. I think i remember driving home and just not saying anything at all. Just thinking about this one. I think for the first time in distopian Sci-fi film history, for me anyway, a film really kicked me in the nuts. Not in that sort of esoteric, rhetorical, snide way that is great too, the way the other great distopians do, like Brazil, The Delicatessen, or Terminator 2. But just a real emotional visceral, nut kick. The story was taut and the hand held documentary style camera work was incredibly unique, the acting (aside from Maude Lebowski, but we won't go there.) was superb, and the actual future world itself, is easily the best imaged in the 00's and an easy contender for the 5 of all time.

Oldboy / Vengeance Trilogy
(2002, 2003, 2005)- What incredibly stylish and involving films - an absolute perfect storm of style and substance - a bit more style than substance, but when a series of films comes off so well, with such wonderfully unique characters and plot devices, who cares about things like plausibility? I don't. That dude just took out like 40 guys with a hammer... put it on the list!

Gosford Park (2001) - This film is simply pure understated cinematic perfection - it's Altman flexing his incredible film-making muscle with little to no intention other than to pay tribute to and at the same time beat at it's own game, a handful of Hollywood's beloved genres - period piece, murder mystery, and his very own trademark style of overlapping dialog and character arcs. All with a slight self aware wink and nod that never over asserts itself - This film can be enjoyed (and indeed, for me has been) on so many levels, snippets of dialogue, slight glances and knowing aversions of eye, all reveal themselves slowly over time and by it's 20th viewing you realize how incredibly rich and demure a film (and homage to film) Altman crafted with Gosford Park.

A History Of Violence
(2005)- This one's weird. This one's Cronenberg. So yeah, duh. I still to this day can't really explain why i love this movie so much - I've defended it from day one from alot of people who thought it was garbage, or even worse just another action movie. (Those people are morons.) I think one part of it is how insidiously Cronenberg's villains are introduced into, and juxtaposed against that classic American small town. There are many lofty themes and archetypes working in this one, under the guise of just a standard Hollywood Guy kills a bunch of other guys film and every time i watch it I'm glued to my seat and I'm left thinking about the significance of what i just watched.

Pan's Labyrinth (2006) - About the point where the cruel Captain graphically and mercilessly bashes in the nose of the Spaniard with the butt of a bottle is when i realized i wasn't watching a normal director's "dark and stylish take on the fairytale". Guillermo Del Toro is the only director working now (that's right Tim Burton, you haven't made a film of this caliber since Edward Scissorhands) who has captured the true magic and horror of childhood - who can balance soft, resonant fleeting innocence, with the cruel, bright light of dawning realization that life isn't what we want it to be. In fact, it's often what we wish most it was not.

The Proposition (2005)- Watching the proposition is like watching someone slowly hang to death while tripping on mushrooms. I imagine anyway. It's also like if you could watch a bunch of Nick Cave songs, while tripping on mushrooms. But that's fairly reductive isn't it? It's hard to say what makes this film so riveting - the acting, is all as good as it gets, Ray Winstone is one of my favorite actors, his beleaguered law-man and husband is so pitiful and real - "Real" that's the word, this story, while strikingly, phantasmagorically lyrical is also one of the most flat out "real" films I've seen this decade. You can practically smell the flies sticking all over the faces of the corpses, man. i mean, wow man, tripping balls.

No Country For Old Men (2007)
- The question posed, like a bird of prey over our heads through out No Country is one regarding the origin, the nature of, the causation, or lack there of, of evil. How do these things come about, how do we bring them on ourselves, and once we've brought them out of the box, are we powerless to put them back in? Where do we go from here, where do we find our strength? To quote one of my favorite authors WG Sebald: "The history of every individual of every social order, indeed of the whole world, does not describe an ever-widening, more and more wonderful arc, but rather follows a course which, once the meridian is reached, leads without fail down into the dark." Like the quote, No Country left me in a dark rumination that i didn't recover from until the 3rd time i watched it, and realized how brutally hilarious it was.

Wall-E (2008) - The first 30 minutes of Wall-E are pure cinematic bliss. The film as a whole, is one of the greatest animated features ever produced. Wall-E's power to convey a universal message of love & hope is simple, honest, fun and breath-taking to watch.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Coming Distractions December 8th, 2009

Julie & Julia
Harry Potter: The Half-Blood Prince
The Cove
Public Enemies
The World's Greatest Dad
Humble Pie
Lost - 5th Season
Rescue Me - 5.2

I recently came across this hypnotic and somewhat painful song that remixes a scene from Six Feet Under. You can watch "Narm" here.

Everyone is aware that Twilight is not a feminist tome. However, I found this article about one possible feminist view of the media response to Twilight fans an interesting read.

It's been far too long (I say!) since I posted a cute animal video. It's not quite as cute as the slow loris (against which I must now measure all youtube animal cuteness), but it's pretty darned cute.