Showing posts from June, 2018

Jim Thompson "The Golden Gizmo" (1954) ***1/2

Jim Thompson's The Golden Gizmo (1954) is full of the unsavory guys characters and goings-on you'd expect from his brand of grim pulpy novels.

Sicario: Day Of The Soldado (2018) ***1/2

Sicario: Day Of The Soldado (2018) is a solid and worthy follow-up to its predecessor, also written by Taylor Sheridan. This time around Stefano Sollima (son of Sergio, who directed a few very solid films in the 60s and 70s) is in the director's chair, largely keeping the look and feel of Denis Villeneuve's excellent 2015 film intact. An action drama that doesn't shy from the brutality of humankind and the futility of never-ending war, Soldado doesn't quite have the same depth as the first film, but it's a sequel with its own merit that could even turn into a great trilogy with another worthwhile director at the helm.

The Baby (1973) ***1/2

The Baby(1973) is a bizarro flick directed by Ted Post, a competent work-for-hire who directed a lot of TV and a number of films—most notably Hang 'Em High (1968) (the first (of many more) western(s) that Clint Eastwoodstarred in after completing the "Dollars" Trilogy with Sergio Leone), Beneath The Planet Of The Apes (1970) (the second entry in the original series), and Magnum Force(1973) (the second entry in the Dirty Harry series). The Baby stars a bunch of actors I'd never seen in anything else (that I can recall anyway), with Ruth Roman being a standout, doing her best 60s era Joan Crawford. The film is an odd one, starting out as what appears to be a somewhat genuinely concerned social drama and gets zanier and campier throughout, until it steers directly into horror territory by the end. If you like crazy hairstyles, intense stares, human cattle prodding, and uncomfortable breastfeeding, then this is your movie.

Do You Want To Be My Mom Friend? (Frozen Parody)

I shot and edited this fun little video, a parody of the popular song from Frozen(2013), that my friend Victoria Paradis and her friend Stacie Rae Nichols conceived. It was a blast to make. Please enjoy and share! And follow the Princess Moms channel on YouTube and on Facebook!

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (2018) ***1/2

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom(2018) is thus far the second best film in the Jurassic Park series. Hiring J.A. Bayona was an inspired choice, for while Fallen Kingdom looks the most like the original film with those trademark Spielberg/Cundeyshots (including some nice parallel callbacks to the 1993 film) and feels very much like an Indiana Jonesfilm, it also has a gothic flavor reminiscent of Bayona's 2007 film The Orphanage (particularly in the finale), where the horror ramps up. While it's a bit overlong, it's still a more than solid summer thrill ride with some tense action scenes, enough originality to stand on its own, and is a slight step up from the previous film (which I also greatly enjoyed).

Parquet Courts "Wide Awake!" (2018) ****

I'm new to the Parquet Courts court, having been introduced to them via their collaborative album with Daniele Luppi, last year's excellentMilano. Wide Awake! (2018), their sixth LP, was produced by pop workhorse Danger Mouse (who back in 2011, when Courts were releasing their first LP, himself collaborated with Luppi on the album Rome). Wide Awake! is equal parts dancefest and political rant, calling to mind The Clash, Wire and The Stranglers in varying degrees. Standout tracks are the raw and sadly truthful "Violence," the catchy AF sing-a-long title song and jaunty closer "Tenderness."

Beach House "7" (2018) ****

On 7 (2018), Beach Housemay have just perfected their sound. While not my favorite album by the duo (that would be 2012's Bloom), they've managed to take their dream pop to the next level. They've made an incredibly slick and accessible LP, full of tunes to fill your head or any room you're in with waves of sonic beauty (and at times dissonance). The mood throughout feels familiar yet fresh and it's the kind of album you can put on when your own mood varies — from somber to optimistic.

A Perfect Circle "Eat The Elephant" (2018) ***1/2

When I first heard a couple of the singles from A Perfect Circle's new LP, Eat The Elephant(2018), ahead of its release, I really wasn't too into them. The first time I listened to the album all the way through I wasn't really sure how I felt either. But like the most interesting albums by bands that respect, the challenge paid off. With each listen through, my appreciation for their departure in sound grew. Granted, there are songs that sound like the band and would sit right at home on some previous LPs, but for the most part, ETE is largely piano (instead of guitar) driven, the songs are "mellower" as a whole, and the lyrics are overall "hopeful." Initially, this approach came off as a bit saccharine to me and while I still can't claim to love every choice on Elephant, I can say that it's a grower if you give it a chance. I still think the cover art is silly though.

Dead Snow (2009) **1/2

Dead Snow (2009) is a pretty fun little horror film with some solid kills and callbacks to a few 80s horror films, but the Nazi premise never really goes anywhere and the ending rings hollow.

Poster Children "Grand Bargain!" (2018) ***1/2

Grand Bargain! (2018), self-described "post wavers" Poster Children's tenth LP (and first in 14 years!) is their most political and their tightest (a brisk 34 mins). Only one song clocks in over 4 mins (the poignant "Devil And The Gun," a comment on mass shootings) and some are barely over 2 mins. "Final Offense," with its mathy white funk is a standout track. The DIYrs have made another very good album, engineered by legendary workhorse Steve Albini (who they worked with back in the early 90s), at times hearkening back to their sound from that decade.

Chromeo "Head Over Heels" (2018) ****

With Head Over Heels(2018), the Funk Lordz deliver yet another catchy, poppy, concise album. Chromeo's fifth LP is a pleaser, full of tight singles and summer jams.

Artificial Pleasure "The Bitter End" (2018) ****1/2

If you're a fan of Berlin Trilogy era/early 80s Bowie, Brian Eno, Bryan Ferry, Talking Heads, and/or The Faint, prepare for Artificial Pleasure's The Bitter End(2018) to be your new favorite album.

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) *****

There really is no other film like 2001: A Space Odyssey(1968). No other film before and no other film since. And there really was no other filmmaker like Stanley Kubrick. Before or since. It's a film of impeccable style, grace, and patience, filled with gorgeous visuals, sumptuous and occasionally terrifying sounds, and ponderous and unnerving moments. It's the existential sci-fi film to end all existential sci-fi films, and one to spark endless theories.

This was my first time seeing 2001 on the big screen and it was something else—a stunning 70 mm print struck from the original negative. Some people in the audience had never seen the film and some saw it when it was originally released. I can only imagine what the latter must have been like, given that it still wows me, after having seen it numerous times on home video.

You can find my Stanley Kubrick Feature Films Ranked list here.

The Great Silence (1968) ****

The best and one of multiple westerns that Sergio Corbuccidirected, The Great Silence (1968) is one of the bleakest and best Italian WesternsJean-Louis Trintignant delivers a strong, completely mute performance and Klaus Kinski gives us one of his best—intense and nihilistic. Given that women's' roles in Italian westerns tend to be pretty thankless, Vonetta McGee is given one of the better ones, where she emotes heavily with her striking eyes and takes a stand against tyranny. Though less iconic than his work with that other more famous Sergio (Leone), Ennio Morriconestill composed a memorable and rousing score. And that ending is chill inducing, no matter how many times you see the film.

Ninja III: The Domination (1984) ***1/2

Ninja III: The Domination (1984) is the kind of cult film that is a ****1/2 on an enjoyment level and about a *** on a film level so you kind of have to meet near the middle. I love it but it's ludicrous. I love it because it's ludicrous. It has ninjas, a floating sword, a love scene involving V-8, aerobics, a demonic possession scene featuring James Hong, an arcade game that shoots rainbow lights and a fantastic soundtrack/synthesized score. Extremely rewatchable.

For fans of Miami Connection(1987), Enter The Ninja (1981) and Big Trouble In Little China (1986).

Satan's Cheerleaders (1977) **1/2

Satan's Cheerleaders (1977) is recommended if you're in the mood for a live-action Scooby-Dooepisode with some nudity, loads of double entendres and atrocious line readings. It also helps if you don't mind not knowing what's going on half the time.

Fun fact: this was one of legendary cinematographer Dean Cundey's earlier efforts, made the year before Halloween(1978) (look him up—he shot some of the most classic 80s and early 90s movies).

Crimes Of Passion (1984) ***1/2

Crimes Of Passion (1984) is a bizarro esoteric drama with darkly humorist undertones that only Ken Russell could make. Featuring an intriguing and risky performance by Kathleen Turner and a creepy and cathartic performance by Anthony Perkins, COP is equal parts porno satire, surrealistic erotic fantasy, and commentary on fidelity, marital bliss, sex and religion.
For fans of Eyes Wide Shut (1999), Hardcore (1979) and Body Double (1984).

Hereditary (2018) ***1/2

Hereditary (2018) is a strong debut by Ari Asterwith a riveting performance by Toni Collette. It's a mostly glacially paced family drama with the majority of the scares falling in the last third of the film. Milly Shapirodeserves praise for her peculiar performance as a weirdo tween as well, but I couldn't help feeling underwhelmed by Gabriel Byrne (who mostly looks bored the whole time) and Alex Wolff(who is either hysterical or non-reactive, depending on the scene).

It's a really well-made, very tense film that I'm interested in seeing again, to help sort out some questions I have and to determine if it will hold its star rating.

It very much feels like an A24 distributed film, but I still prefer The Witch(2015) and It Comes At Night(2017), as far as horror films released by that company go.

For fans of Rosemary's Baby (1968), The Exorcist(1973) and other such slowburn horror.

Jim Thompson "Heed The Thunder" (1946) ***1/2

In Jim Thompson's Heed The Thunder (aka Sins Of The Father) (1946), his second novel, he still hadn't settled into his well-known pulpy style. Instead this book focuses on the deeds and misdeeds of a prairie family in the early 20th century. A breezy read, much like a lot of his work, but with nicely developed characters and the occasional pondering, poetic touch.