Sunday, September 2, 2012

Sam Raimi marathon: The Evil Dead

The Evil Dead (1982)

The story of how director Sam Raimi got his start in the filmmaking business is, understandably, well known amongst his own fan base, and is common knowledge even with the more casual fans. With less 400,000 dollars, himself, some friends and close colleagues, one of which was Bruce Campbell, who has been a consistent collaborator ever since even with regards to the Raimi films in which he has not starred, the upstart director headed down from Detroit to Tennessee to create what became known as The Evil Dead. Mixing classic horror tropes with some unexpected ingenuity, the film impressed many. Raimi's journey as a filmmaker experienced a tremendous upswing from that point onwards and things have never been the same.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Sam Raimi marathon: Darkman

 Darkman (1990, Sam Raimi)

American director Sam Raimi, having made a solid name for himself for the better part of 30 years, is really something of an entrepreneur, a go-getter who makes his films happen despite either scepticism or lack of genuine funds. Despite his numerous successes, it seems as though his name shall never resonate among the wider movie going public or cinefile circles as strongly as, say, Steven Soderberg or Steven Spielberg. No, it unfortunately safe to assume that apart from his fanbase and well versed film buffs, his name is not one that shall be remembered vividly in cinema history. Yet considering his exploits as a filmmaker, it is mighty tempting to believe it should be otherwise. One need only look to his 1990 action movie Darkman, an endeavour resulting from his failed attempt at bringing a recognizable comic book property to the big screen (a feat he would accomplish some 12 years later). What would a creative mind opt for in the aftermath after such a bump in the road? Why, create his own super hero of course.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Definitive Alien marathon: 'Prometheus' , an appreciation

With the general review for the film currently under the microscope having the received sufficient praise for the efforts of the production designers and visual artists, it seems fitting that this supplemental article should concentrate more closely on the plot as well as the general ideas, thematic and character driven, which drive the film's core.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Definitive Alien marathon: 'Prometheus', general review

Prometheus (2012, Ridley Scott)

Significant stretches of absence between instalments in a franchise can be a curse or a blessing. It may provide writers, directors, studios executives and all others involved in the creative process to sit back and digest what they have accomplished as well as what they still set out to do. Sometimes the decisions, despite plenty of time for a meditative process, dot not evolve into what audiences were hoping for. Ask the many embittered movies goers who waited anxiously for Kingdom of the Crystal Skull and Live Free or Die Hard. Science-fiction is a little bit different given that its very nature allows for some slightly loopier logic than in most other genres, therefore allowing the creators a wider canvas to take a series in different directions. The Alien franchise, as of the mid 00s, had devolved into a stale, pitiless shell of its former self. The AVP spinoffs virtually spelled doom and gloom for the once revered series which gave both sci-fi and horror a serious boost. Along came Ridley Scott and screenwriters Damon Lindelof and Jon Spaihts in an attempt to revitalize it in ways fans were least expecting.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Definitive Alien marathon: 'Alien Resurrection' , further reflection

It was written in the general review for the film how disappointing it was for the character of Ripley to return not as her true self, but as some of sort clone variation. It always seemed to me that 20th Century Fox, in wanting desperately to make another Alien film, were caught between a rock and a hard place.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Definitive Alien marathon: 'Alien Resurrection' , general review

Alien Resurrection (1997, Jean-Pierre Jeunet)

There is a threshold for everything, even plausibility. When discussing science-fiction and horror, it goes without saying that those two genres are far more permissive of out of the ordinary happenings. The sense of disbelief amongst the audience will sway towards acceptability and embrace the typically implausible, even logically impossible events that unfold. Even in those realms, some things are difficult to digest, especially when their purpose reeks of nefarious studio interference. The practice of implausibly making things happen for the sake of script and possible increase in profit at the box office can and is felt most particularly in franchises. The main thrust of a story, the smoking gun for the overall plot, can easily lose credibility in the eyes of many it it poorly masks a studio's attempt to cash in on a widely recognized property. While unique French director Jean-Pierre Jeunet brings some unexpected flavours to the fold in the fourth instalment of the series currently under review, Alien Resurrection, there are some egregious missteps.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Definitive Alien marathon: 'Alien 3', an appreciation

In the documentary about the making of Alien 3 in the blu-ray set (also available on the second disc of the Alien 3 special edition DVD for those interested), many cast and crew members who, while they cannot speak entirely for David Fincher, expressed the feeling that the up and coming director did his best to provide the picture with his own unique stamp, his own signature, much like his two predecessors had done with their respective efforts. This is, in all likelihood and with the benefit of hindsight provided by the man’s career since then, probably true. Fincher is not one to make movies quite like anybody else operating within the traditional Hollywood system. His films do not necessarily make bags upon bags money, even though most turn in modest profits, but the studios, big studios at that, continuously provide him the funds necessary to make the best movie he can. The man is a filmmaker in the artistic sense of the term, not merely in the commercial sense. For that reason, some of the decisions made with regards to the Alien 3 script may be better understood. That being said, it should also be noted that the script, or what can be described as a script, lived in a constant state of flux before and even during the film’s production. 

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Definitive Alien marathon: 'Alien 3', general review

Alien 3 (1992, David Fincher)

Excellence can continue for only so long. A new government is elected into office having made lofty promises during a brilliant campaign, only to lose the very next election. A sports team wins a few consecutive championships before finally meeting its match. A business will show profit during multiple quarters before forces either from within or without and beyond its control negatively affect output and revenue. A movie franchise can certainly deliver a few good entries but at some point, the law of diminishing returns will establish itself. All good things have an expiration date. Having not been a serious movie fan 20 years ago in 1992, it is difficult to fully comprehend how meaningfully that notion resonated in May of that year when Alien 3 (or Alien 'cubed' as some call it) was released to fans incredulous disappointment. Suffice to say, the reception was a cold one. Much time has elapsed since then, and while Fincher's effort has not become a favourite, many take a kinder look to it now then upon its initial theatrical release.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Definitive Alien marathon: 'Aliens' general review

Aliens (1986, James Cameron)

Arguably one of the most notable, quotable lines lines from James Cameron's high-octance sequel to Ridley Scott's quiet, brooding and claustrophobic horror film is not even a line spoken by a character in the film itself. Rather, it is Aliens' tag line which has since been remembered fondly by fans of the film and the franchise. 'This time it's war.' Not one phrase could possibly describe the nature of this incredibly popular sequel more accurately nor more succinctly. Whereas Cameron's predecessor preferred to construct and augment tension slowly and carefully, rarely, if ever, resorting to flamboyant outbursts, the Canadian-born director opted for something a little different. Who are we kidding, he blew the roof off of the Nostromo and the Sulaco is what he did.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Definitive Alien marathon: 'Alien', an appreciation

This is but a supplement to the Alien review posted earlier this week. Whereas the previous article offered an overview of the film and highlighted its strengths and weaknesses, today's article will dig into the finite details of Ridley Scott's horror masterpiece. We hope you enjoy reading and find the same giddy pleasure in the film's details as we did.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Definitive Alien marathon: 'Alien' general review

Alien (1979, Ridley Scott)

Ridley Scott's career as a filmmaker has been filled with incredible successes. Despite what proud accomplishments he can call his own, there have been some bruises along the way. It seems that for every Ridley Scott fan there is a Ridley Scott detractor, and for every film used as an argument in support of the Englishmen, somebody can present a solid case against him. One says Gladiator, another says Robin Hood. One says Thelma and Louise, another says G.I. Jane. People say American Gangster and both the supporters and the detractors claim that as a case supporting their respective opinions. Alien, the 1979 film, originally from the mind of UCLA science-fiction fanatic Dan O'Bannon, is not one such film to stir controversy. Granted, it may have its handful of naysayers and those people may very well have their reasons, yet for the most part the picture is considered a classic and a milestone in science-fiction horror, principally because that meshing of the two genres had never been done as effectively as when Alien spooked the living daylights out of people back in the summer of '79.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Fast Men, Faster Cars: Senna

Senna (2010, Asif Kapadia)

Anyone familiar with the Formula 1 racing championship and its history is aware of the name Ayrton Senna. Ayrton is today considered a legend, fondly remembered by fans of sport and former drivers alike. During his all too briefly illustrious career, Senna was quite the controversial figure, with his detractors equally vocal as his supporters, especially his closest rivals during the races themselves. Documentary filmmaker Asif Kapadia offers a relatively insightful glimpse into this unique figure, delivering a film constructed exclusively out of archival footage and family home videos, with the occasional voice over courtesy of past interviews.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Fast Men, Faster Cars: Grand Prix

Grand Prix (1966, John Frankenheimer)

Director John Frankenheimer is one of those people working within Hollywood one could always trust in producing solid, well made, engaging pieces of entertainment. This talented director was very much along the lines of Robert Wise or today's Steven Soderbegh, in that he could tackle a great many genres and one could practically guarantee the results were to be positive. Earlier in the marathon was published a review for the Steve McQueen picture Le Mans, which impressed for its technical skills, all of which brought the thrill of the race to life for audiences. The downside was everything else (story, characters and all), which fell terribly flat. Frankenheimer's Grand Prix is, interestingly enough, a film McQueen could have starred in, were it not for creative differences.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

review: The Avengers

The Avengers (2012, Joss Whedon)

And so it has come to this, the epic result of 3 summers worth of films for individual Avengers characters, each a perfectly singular adventure, but also building the links towards what is the first summer blockbuster of 2012. (the first weekend of May seems a little early to call it 'summer', but Hollywood claims it is now summer, so we'll go with that). Writer-director Joss Whedon is a demi-god in the eyes of many a television and film fan, having been the principle creative force behind a list of phenomenally successful series, the most popular being Buffy the Vampire Slayer, which is basically the only reason people know who Sarah Michelle Gellar is. The comic book fan and Whedon fan communities erupted in unified jubilation when, a couple of years ago, it was announced that he would helm this massive undertaking. Now it has opened in theatres pretty much everywhere on the planet. Is it any good?

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Fast Men, Faster Cars: The Fast and the Furious

The Fast and the Furious (2001, Rob Cohen)

Director Rob Cohen and actors Vin Diesel and Paul Walker. How many people get excited upon hearing those three names, or at the very least one of them? The question is unfair given that most people who come visit blogs such as this, people who, by the way, would for the most part emphatically answer 'Not me, so sir!' to the question posed above, have particular tastes and ways of appreciating the art of film. They are in the minority, however badly they may wish it were the other way around. The honest answer is 'An entire legion of movie goers', the same legion that made 2001's The Fast and the Furious a rousing box office success despite the film receiving, at best, a lukewarm critical reception. The same people, in fact, who made the second, third, fourth, and yes, last spring's fifth instalment equally if not even more successful, commercially speaking.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Fast Men, Faster Cars: Le Mans

Le Mans (1971, Lee H. Katzin)

Steve McQueen, one of the true great Hollywood screen legends, was known to be an avid driver. Small wonder that in one of his most popular films, Bullitt, the greatest action scene, perhaps the only genuine action scene, is a phenomenal car chase through the streets of San Francisco. A racing film per say would, therefore, feel like the most perfect fit of all. The famous actor had in fact attempted to create what he wanted to be viewed as the ultimate racing film, but the rights to the material that had caught is eye went to someone else, who then had John Frankenheimer direct said movie, titled Grand Prix (another entry in this very marathon in fact). It was therefore towards the legendary Le Mans 24 hour race that McQueen turned his attention to.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Blog update: Milestone (!) and other trivialities

Hello readers,

How is it going? Well, I presume, I think, I hope.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Fast Men, Faster Cars: Drive

Drive (2011, Nicolas Winding Refn)

'Real human being and a real hero.'

Truer words were never spoken. Well, to be more accurate, they are not exactly spoken in Nicolas Winding Refn's most popular film, Drive, but rather sung. Much has already been written about the film under review today, with a host of immensely articulate critics and reviewers espousing very intelligent remarks, many of which far surpass what will be analyzed at this blog. Everyone's tastes are subjective of course, and so is how people read ideas into movies. The notion which has been brought up time and time again in regards to Refn's picture is the power and confidence in its style. Style is, in many ways, a tremendously important part of film, depending on what sort of story one desires to share. What of Drive's style? What does it mean, how does it make its presence known, and in what ways does it impact the story's emotional core?

Monday, April 16, 2012

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Comica Obscura: Lady Snowblood rebuttal

To fully comprehend why an ass whooping is about to occur, please go and read Bill's review of Lady Snowblood at his Movie Emporium.

Look, Bill, I like you and all, I don't think that comes as a surprise or anything, but I was...befuddled by the review you wrote for Lady Snowblood last Sunday.

I found it curious that, following a few paragraphs during which you valiantly attempted to argue for the film's strong feminist approach (and don't worry, I'll get to that in a moment. I like starting small and building up arguments before going in for the 'coup de grâce') you write 'With my pretentious ramblings and all the feminist claptrap out of the way,...'. I sat there thinking for a brief moment: 'Has Bill just admitted that he was writing nonsense since the start of the review?' It did not seem possible, for many times in the past you have fought tooth an nail to support your opinions, both at your Movie Emporium and on the movie message board we used to frequent. I immediately squashed that possibility out of my mind, although your use of both 'pretentious', but more interestingly 'claptrap' hit me hard. I had a strong indication of what claptrap meant, but I'm a nit picky type of person when it comes to the written word, and so visited the Merriam-Webster anyways.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Capsule reviews: Wrath of Titans, Hunger Games

Happy Easter Monday. If you're like us, you're benefiting nicely from a well deserved day off. If not...well, sorry about that. Didn't mean to make you feel bad or anything. Oh, I have an idea that might cheer you up. Here are a couple of capsule reviews!
Wrath of the Titans (2012, Jonathan Liebesman)

BBS Productions Presents: The King of Marvin Gardens.

The King of Marvin Gardens (1972, Rob Rafelson)

The dysfunctional nature of human beings has been one of the core themes to describe many of the BBS filmmography. From Head, Five Easy Pieces to A Safe Place, a lot of the people who inhabit these worlds have not been the most stable individuals, sometimes incapable of keeping their own two feat on the ground, other times experiencing significant turbulence when getting along with others. Their quirks and personalities simply keep on digging wedges between themselves and others. The concluding film in our outlook on late 60s and early 70s American independent cinema, The King of Marvin Gardens, is driven by much of the same ideas and, fittingly enough, is directed by the same fellow who brought audiences the first BBS film, Rob Rafelson.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Comica Obscura: Lady Snowblood

Lady Snowblood (1973, Toshiya Fujita)

Revenge tales in cinema are, for the most part, strikingly similar when compared. Someone of note is wronged and, convinced that the perpetrators must suffer punishment at all costs, dedicates themselves to tracking down their prey with vicious cunning and deadly seriousness, often circumventing law, which in their eyes is an insufficient tool in ensuring the villains pay their dues. Change any of those ingredients too much, and one is left with something other than a revenge story. Conversely, being too rigid within the parameters of the genre and the result is a movie which brings nothing new to the table, not to mention that the genre itself is not the most fertile ground for remarkably dynamic storytelling. As the old saying goes: 'You've seen 1, you've seen them all.' Director Toshiya Fujita and screenwriters Kazuo Kamimura and Kazuo Koike give it their best to shake things up a bit in the adaptation of Lady Snowblood, one of Japan's most celebrated manga books.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Friday, March 30, 2012

Update: 2 marathons: Alien and a bunch of cars!

Hello readers,

Well, March will soon turn into April and, as promised, the activity at Between the Seats should be a little more regular than it has been during this month. Like the blossoming flora of early springtime, Between the Seats will also be strutting its stuff proudly for your reading pleasure. With the conclusions of both the BBS Productions Presents and Comica Obscura marathons upon us (only 1 film in each left!), it was time to devise some new themes for the weeks and months to come.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Comica Obscura: Road to Perdition

Road to Perdition (2002, Sam Mendes)

The title of this marathon, Comica Obscura, is apt in more ways than one. The most obvious reference it makes is to the relative obscurity of the source material which inspired each film under evaluation. Another is that the movies themselves are not known for being adaptations of comic books. This second notion is perhaps more pertinent if only because most of the films reviewed thus far have felt as though they could have been regular entries into their respective genres. When learning that they are, in fact, the cinematic translations of certain comics, one begins to wonder if the comic creators themselves were not inspired by films. There is perhaps a no more fitting example than Road to Perdition, the comic which was written by Max Allan Collins and Richard Piers Rayner, unquestionably inspired by the famous gangster pictures of yesteryear. Director Sam Mendes and screenwriter David Self came along in 2002 and adapted the book for the screen, but one could just as easily assume it to be another classic entry in the gangster genre.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

review: A Separation

A Separation (2011, Asghar Farhadi)

Without engaging in any sort of geopolitical diatribe, it feels safe to say that working in Iran's film industry is not the simplest of endeavours. The political and cultural climate of the country has created a strange hybrid of permissiveness and clampdowns on those artists who fancy themselves filmmakers. The image the rest of the world is left with is that the domestic success of one's picture depends on how culturally safe and in accordance with law the story and ideas are. The controversial story surrounding Jafar Panahi is one clear example in which the artist was stifled in the most extreme degree, while another, more nuanced situation is that of Asghar Farhadi's latest project, the Oscar winning A Separation, which has been both praised and loathed on home soil.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

review: Zombie

*the reader should be forewarned that the following article had originated as only one chapter in a capsule reviews article, only to develop into a monstrosity of a review for a single film, hence the atypical, first person writing style which characterizes the first few lines, something usually reserved for said capsule reviews. Because we were lazy, no alterations were made. Thank you

Zombie aka Zombie 2 (1979, Lucio Fulci)

Reviews for really 'out there' horror movies is, as many of you know, not exactly a Between the Seats staple, but as was when last time around in a capsule reviews article, I have been receiving a steady line of 70s and 80s gory horror flicks from a colleague at work. Consider it an education in a genre I have overlooked for far too long. Some cursory research indicates that the reason Fulci' 1979 film is recognized as Zombie 2 is because upon its release, the studio's mouth watered over the opportunity to cash in on the fact that in Italy, George Romero's Dawn of the Dead was titled Zombie. In truth, other than featuring legions of walking dead, Fulci's film bears no connection to Romero's.

review: Beauty Day

Beauty Day (2011, Jay Cheel)

Before there was Jackass...Before there was YouTube... There was Ralph Zavadil’

So goes the tag line for a recently produced documentary, the subject of which, Ralph Zavadil, was as much controversial in the eyes of some as he was amazing in the eyes of others. Made for a very modest budget, Between the Seats’s interest in the film rested in the fact that its director, Jay Cheel, is not only an up and coming Canadian filmmaker (already hard at work on his second feature, no less), but happens to be one of the many fantastic co-hosts of one of the oldest, most well established film discussion podcasts on the internet, Film Junk. Familiarity with a director but not with the subject matter can be a tricky proposition, for what if the subject is less than thrilling? Thankfully, in the case of Beauty Day, the director could have chosen are more curious figure in Canadian television history, admired by some, while completely misunderstood by others.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Comica Obscura Marathon: Battle of Warriors rebuttal

To make sure one fully appreciates the subtleties of the article below, please visit Bill's Movie Emporium and read his review of Jacob Cheung's Battle of the Warriors.
At this stage, it is safe to say that the Comica Obscura marathon has been our most divisive yet. With the one exception of the Star Wars: A New Hope review from a couple of years ago, none of our marathons have provided for as many diverging opinions on such a consistent basis. I believe this to be a good thing, first and foremost because it produces a level of excitement when the time comes to formulate rebuttal posts (something which, I think you would agree, lacked in our previous marathons for the most part) and secondly, because now the reality is that I really do not know what your views on the next films will be, whereas before one could almost predict that if I enjoyed or not, you would echo those sentiments.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Comica Obscura: Battle of the Warriors

Battle of the Warriors (2006, Jacob Cheung) also known as A Battle of Wits

It is remarkable how many movies have merged out of Hong Kong and mainland Chinese studios which found inspiration in the most tumultuous periods of the country's own history. The 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s and the 00s have all featured their fair share of sweeping epics (named 'wu xia' films) which attempted to convey China's at times stunningly violent past. The trend in cinema is as follows: the more modern of the films, the more emphasis is put on the action. There are some exceptions of films which, even though they recognize that China's Warring States Period was, for many reasons, an awful era for its senseless violence, they try to espouse something a little bit different. Writer-director Jacob Cheung's Battle of the Warriors, based on a Japanese manga created by Hideki Mori, is in that sense unique.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Blog update: The Ides of March

Hello readers,

Some of you may be wondering why no new material has been published since Sunday 4 days ago. True enough, reviews typically appear with greater frequency here at Between the Seats then they have in the past couple of weeks. We shall not lie, time has been of the essence on a nearly daily basis over the course of the past 14 days or so. Work has heated up, certain obligations for Sound on Sight have required a bit more time than anticipated and what little free time remained has been spent on, well, non-movie related activities (Yes, we do those too).

Sunday, March 4, 2012

BBS Productions Presents: The Last Picture Show

The Last Picture Show (1971, Peter Bogdanovich)

Saying that film itself is an important part of people's culture seems rather obvious. After all, this is a movie blog, with most of the readers who pass by being movie bloggers themselves. Singing the high praises of cinema is simple enough and also quite fun to do in the case of such a community. In the wider landscape of general society, movies as art is a notion which can go unnoticed, or under-noticed. Theatre, ballet, music, paintings and to a lesser degree architecture all can claim their rightful place among the building block of culture for almost any society with greater ease. Film, however, is frequently relegated, many times rightfully, to the realm of commercialism. If one ponders the issue for a few minutes only, one can understand that even commercial movie endeavours speak to the culture of a society, despite what some cinephiles might prefer to believe. One type of film will sell better than another because of what a given society as a whole enjoys. The day the movies go away, even the crassly commercial ones, is the day society loses a bit of itself.

Comica Obscura: Fritz the Cat rebuttal

For a better appreciation of the article that follows, please read Bill's review of Fritz the Cat from last week. 
After two weeks in which our respective reviews and rebuttals made no qualms about where we each stood with regards to The Rocketeer and Sword of Vengeance, two examples for which our opinions diverged on some important issues, it seems safe to say that with the third film we arrived at very similar conclusions.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Comica Obscura: Fritz the Cat

Fritz The Cat (1972, Ralph Bakshi)

The following statement is based solely on an educated guess, but it seems as though it is in the domain of animated feature films that the divide between the mainstream and the independent is most pronounced. Newspaper reviews from the Arts section and even the Oscars can help increase the life span of an independent live-action film in some instances, even though that too is never a guarantee. Yet when it comes to animation, those movies which stand proudly outside of the mainstream do seem relegated to perpetual obscurity, that is until one either stumbles on the film by happenstance or it is mentioned by somebody already familiar with the title. Heavy Metal is one example. Fritz the Cat, based on a very counter-cultural comic strip born out of the curious mind of Robert Crumb, is another. It comes as no surprise that its director, Ralph Bakshi, also made a name for himself by directing several non-mainstream, independent animated films.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Far East Specials: Ong Bak 2: The Beginning, Ong Bak 3

A two for one Far East Special today for the readers (a 'capsule reviews' version of Far East Specials in a sense). Curiously enough, Between the Seats has never seen the original Ong Bak film, although cursory research revealed that the second and third films in the trilogy have next to nothing to do with the original. In fact, they consist of a two-part prequel which occurs about 600 years before Ong Bak, the story of which was set in present day.

Ong Bak 2: The Beginning (Tony Jaa, Panna Rittikrai)

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

BBS Productions Presents: A Safe Place

A Safe Place (1971, Henry Jaglom)

If the BBS line of films, which went from the late 60s into the early 70s, consisted of artistic works exploring the oft overlooked aspects of American society and culture, then they would have been remiss not to have at least one movie offer a female perspective. Sure enough, several of the previous films in the marathon, which is operating in chronological order of their theatrical releases, have offered some significant female characters, but never at the very core of a story. Sometimes close, but never quite there. Along came Henry Jaglom in 1971, a man whose career concentrated predominantly on theatre, who was (and still is) keenly interested on the woman's perspective of life in general and what the woman's version of humanity's endless struggle to find its own place in the world is like. On case some perceive it as presumptuous for a man to have made such an attempt, it should be noted that on the Criterion Blu-ray supplements, the director reveals that several film and genre study professors have shown A Safe Place to classes of women, without telling them who had made the picture. They usually love it and are shocked to learn afterwards of the director's gender.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Comica Obscura: Sword of Vengeance rebuttal

A full appreciation of the article that follows rests on one's familiarity with Bill's review of Sword of Vengeance.

The rebuttals from my end have, at this stage of the Comica Obscura marathon, felt inspired by the pictures upon which the discussions have been based. For The Rocketeer, who was a character that took his battles to the sky, the response article was characterized by some high and mighty pseudo intellectualism related to nationality and how one's attachment to country their of origin results in particular viewpoints on a film, an attempt to 'elevate' the discussion to another level just as the protagonist 'rose' to the occasion in his adventure. For Kenji Misumi's Sword of Vengeance, or, as you obsess in writing it, Kozure Ôkami: Ko Wo Kashi Ude Kashi Tsukamatsuru, the battle falls back to earth. In truth, I have re-read your review a couple of times and on each occasion its briskness has posed some problems for a rebuttal, which forces me to get into the nitty gritty of your analysis. Like the samurai, I shall approach your points delicately, with precision, and strike with a fury when the opportunity arises.

Friday, February 17, 2012

review: Rampart

Rampart (2011, Oren Moverman)

Crooked cop dramas always have a place in the movie landscape, and it has been the case for decades already. The police are, after all, the recipients of both public outrage and praise. They live to serve and protect, yet occasionally exhibit behaviour so far below the standards which must be adhered to that it becomes small wonder many frown upon them. There is a fascination in seeing this duality develop on screen. Whether said interest rests in the satisfaction derived by some in seeing the reasons for their hatred of cops explored on film or merely out of some perverse pleasure in seeing good people become bad (or bad people pretending to be good under the guise of a badge and a gun). After working together on 2009's The Messenger, actor Woody Harrelson and director Oren Moverman join forces yet again for Rampart, which premiered at last year's Toronto International Film Festival and has been rolling out since across the North American market.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Capsule reviews: Cat Nine Tails, Maniac, Last House on Left

Happy Valentine's Day! In an attempt to totally forgo whatever warm and fuzzy emotions February 14th typically inspires, here are three reviews for films a colleague at work was kind enough to lend me on DVD, all three of which feature murder, mutilation, rape and torture. Enjoy!

The Cat O' Nine Tails/Il Gatto a Nove Code (1971, Dario Argento)

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Comica Obscura: Lone Wolf and Cub: Sword of Vengeance

Lone Wolf and Cub: Sword of Vengeance (1972, Kenji Misumi)

Just as comics and cowboys have been staples of Western entertainment for decades, samurai and manga have earned a rightful spot in Japanese culture. In fact, the sheer number of stories created for the aforementioned black and white Japanese graphic novels is staggering. Many have earned themselves significant reputations beyond the borders of their native country, as have films depicting the exploits of the samurai, be they of the legionary variety or master-less. It comes as no surprise that the two have merged into one for numerous books series. Among those that have reached degrees of popularity in the West is Kazuo Koike's Lone Wolf and Cub, which shared the tale of a former government employee who, after a shocking betrayal leaves him without honour or a wife, traverses Japan on a quest to right the wrongs done to him and his infant son, whom he brings along in a baby carriage. In 1972, only two years after the story's initial publication, the series was brought to the silver screen by director Kenji Misumi, the first film titled Lone Wolf and Cub: Sword of Vengeance.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Films du Fleur de lys: Bestiaire

Bestiare (2012, Denis Côté)

It barely over a year ago that Québec filmmaker Denis Côté charmed and mystified audiences with Curling, a lyrical, quiet and subtle story about the relationship between a socially inept single father and his daughter, whom he preserves from ills of the world in hermit-like manner. Showcasing an enviable ability to surf from one genre to another, director Côté returns with a documentary about the animals which parade in and around Parc Safari (located just outside the city of Montreal), both during the summertime when they come out to strut their stuff and during the bitter winter period when kept under close scrutiny by the caretakers in confined spaces.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

BBS Productions Presents: Drive, He Said

Drive, He Said (1970, Jack Nicholson)

The further the BBS Productions Presents marathon explores the company's filmmography, the more it becomes apparent that eventual mega star Jack Nicholson was one of the driving forces behind its creativity. It began with a film stealing supporting role in Dennis Hopper's Easy Rider, followed by a starring role as well as a writing credit for Rob Rafelson's Five Easy Pieces. Then, in 1970, the time came to make the biggest leap of all: the director's chair. He would not return to said chair very often in subsequent years and decades of his career, yet that should not be a sign that his work as a debutant was unimpressive. Just as he took many by surprise with his early acting work in the previous BBS films, Drive, He Said demonstrated that Nicholson possessed a tremendous amount of honesty and maturity as a storyteller from behind the camera.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Comica Obscura: Rocketeer rebuttal

This article will contain some mild spoilers.
In order to better understand what this article is discussing, please go read Bill's review of The Rocketeer, published last Sunday.

It is with a decidedly peculiar twist that our Comica Obscura marathon began with last Sunday. What was obvious to anyone who paid a visit to your Movie Emporium and Between the Seats is that we each published our respective The Rocketeer reviews, in which we espoused the merits of Joe Johnston’s lively comic book adventure film heavily influenced by the adventures of a period long past our 21st century hipster era. Indeed, those who read articles came away with the idea that both us enjoyed the film. True enough.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Opinion piece: Watch and learn on DVD and Blu-ray

A few days ago a fellow blogger you most surely know well, Bill from Bill's Movie Emporium, published an interesting article about his opinion on DVD and Blu-ray supplements, or 'bonus features' as they are typically referred to on the back of packaging. It was a good read, as is often the case whenever I happen to pay his site a visit, although it was mostly the case just because it allowed me to know about more about the side of things from someone who does not, in fact, care much for the added content on home video formats.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

review: Kshay/Corrode

Kshay/Corrode (2011, Karan Gour)

A common fault among human beings is they all too frequently obsess over what they do not own. A particular object catches their eye, for a variety of reasons which may be well founded or not, and a subsequent desire to possess overtakes them. In some cases the desire may be quenched rather simply, while in other instances the lack of ownership leaves a considerable void in their lives, be it true or a fabrication of the mind. This human weakness can serve as inspiration for filmmakers to study how people behave under the stress of created by continuously seeking what is just out of reach. Indie (and Indian) writer-director Karan Gour uses this notion as the driving force for his psychological thriller Kshay, which had limited release last year, playing at a variety of North American film festivals.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Comica Obscura Marathon: The Rocketeer

The Rocketeer (1991, Joe Johnston)

Paying close attention to the comic book movie landscape, the films that feature rather ordinary people taking on the role of great heroes are far and few between. The protagonists are either blessed with intellectual and physical skills which far surpass what regular humans can accomplish or, even when the hero in question is a mere mortal, they do benefit from some obvious advantages, like how Bruce Wayne relies on his endless amounts of monetary funds to render his night excursions as Batman as easy as possible. It would be refreshing to see a truly simple individual benefit from circumstance and perseverance to overcome the most dangerous foes. Someone answered that call. From the mind of Dave Stevens came, in the early 1980s, a comic book which was a throwback to the pulpy Saturday matinee heroes of yore: The Rocketeer.

Friday, January 27, 2012

BBS Productions Presents: Five Easy Pieces

Five Easy Pieces (1970, Rob Rafelson)

Jack Nicholson, so far as the most recent decade of his work is concerned, has earned a dubious reputation to say the least. The sarcasm, the bullish wisecracks, that widest of wide grins, all are hallmarks of the Jack Nicholson of the late 1990s and first decade of the new millennium, so much so that he is mostly recognized for playing himself as opposed to actual three-dimensional characters, joining the same undesirable club as the once great Al Pacino. As was discovered last week in a review for Easy Rider, Nicholson's film career began many, many years ago in the late 1960s. One of his first starring roles and, arguably, one of his more complex roles, was in the film under review today, Five Easy Pieces, directed by BBS co-founder Rob Rafelson, who also made Head two years prior.