Sunday, March 24, 2013

Nightcap 3/24/13 Odds & ends and clearing the board

This will probably be one of the last Nightcaps for a while. The madness of Tribeca is about to start (They show so many movies that press screenings run for three weeks before) plus I have to hunker down and do my taxes, plus there are other festivals, plus plus... I have things programed into July  so things will just waltz on here as before. :

First order of business is to speak about some film I've seen over the last few months that I've been considering doing something with.

TEXAS CHAINSAW 3D- Easily one of the worst films of the year. I dumbing down of the original film that's full of WTF moments. I was going to include it in the Thanksgiving Turkey series but I can't say much beyond it sucks.

Not quite as bad was A HAUNTED HOUSE a Wayans Brothers send up of the Paranormal Activity films. Its a 15 minute idea stretched past the breaking point and pitched into the sewer.

PARENTAL GUIDENCE has Billy Crystal and Bette Midler as grandparents who are watching their grand kids for a week or so... been there and done that sit-com.

LONELIEST PLANET played the NYFF in 2011 and split critics. some found the story of a couple on a pack packing trip a brilliant revelation about relationships. Others called it incredibly dull. I call it one of the dullest films ever made. Nothing much happens and when it does it's less than earth shattering (hell I was way ahead of everyone in it)

HELLGATE is weak horror film with Carey Elwes about a man who's family is killed in a car wreck and who ends up crossing over the line between worlds. Despite some good ideas and some great imagery the film never comes together.

INESCAPABLE has been described as Taken lite. It is like Taken without the action but much less compelling.

The next three were going to be the focus of a piece pondering if  okay bland films are actually worse than bad movies.

GANGSTER SQUAD- Great action is the only reason to see a flat footed film about trying to take down Mickey Cohen. The non-action scenes are just dress up sequences with the actors posing. This isn't a film, it's a tableau of sorts.

PARKER- is an okay film but is so badly paced by Taylor Hackford (who should have done better) it drains all of the excitement out. Parker is ultimately the original version of Jason Statham's Transporter character, but here it just falls flat. I don't hate the film, it just should have been better.

BROKEN CITY- Good but strangely dull film has Mayor Russel Crowe hiring PI Mark Wahlberg (whom Crowe screwed over 7 years earlier) to get the goods on his wife. The trouble is nothing is what it seems, but we know that and the film which goes through the paces of this sort of movie expertly never makes us care. The high point is Jeffrey Wright as the Police Commissioner who proves handily that he's one of the most under appreciated actors ever anywhere.

Surprising I liked PLAYING FOR KEEPS with Gerard Butler as a soccer player dad who hopes to bond with his son and there by win back the boys mother. Sure it goes in some expected directions, but at the same time it does take some different roads and turned out to be damn enjoyable.

While sick with a stomach virus I finally watched the Steve Reeves Sandokan films that Sinister Cinema released a while back. I had them in the pile for ages and figured I needed something "light" to get through a tough time. The films were based on a series of novels written in the later 19th and early 20th century by Emilio Salgari about a pirate turned folk hero.

SANDOKAN THE TIGER OF MOMPRECEM (aka SANDOKAN THE GREAT) (1963) has Sandokan the son of a deposed ruler fighting the evil British who killed his family and took control of the country. Along the way he ends up falling for the niece of the commander of the British outpost. A weird mix of of genres, jungle, colonial,romance and a few others the film is a tad slow, but ends with one hell of a shoot out in the British out post. As silly as it it rousing (just watch how easily people die), it's an amusing film.

SANDOKAN PIRATE OF MALAYSIA (aka PIRATES OF MALAYSIA) (1964) Sandokan finds a man floating in a life boat. He tells the story of the over throw of Raj by the British.  This sets Sandokan off to restore the Raj  to the throne. More action packed film is a tad less silly than the first film,but is best viewed as one where your mind is left at the door.

SANDOKAN STRIKES BACK (1964) Ray Danton takes over for Reeves in an action packed film that has Sandokan finding out he is the rightful ruler of Malaysia and taking steps to get his kingdom back. Danton is an impressive man of action, but he plays things way too seriously. Another turn your brain off film that in the right frame of mind is pretty good.

And now two links via Randi---

Today would have been Ub Iwerks 112th Birthday. Ub was the hand behind the mouse, being a co-creator of some guy named Mickey. He was also the man who figured out how to make Disney's magic real. Someone has posted the truly great documentary, The Man Behind the Mouse on line- and if you click the title you'll be able to see it.
Negative notes to Ridley Scott about Bladerunner. (But didn't exec's want the voice over?)

The random titles continue this week and perhaps a surpsise or two is I can pull them together

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