yendi: (Tongue Tongue)
[ profile] dtaylor's review of the new ultra-deluxe edition of Showgirls actually has me rethinking the movie.

Like her, I hated it when I first saw it (on rental) back in the mid-90s, and I never got around to watching it again. I can't justify the cost of this set, but I might have to keep an eye out for it the next time it's on HBO.
yendi: (Elayna (pic taken by Karlita)
Today is Elayna's first day of Fifth Grade! Yay! Our little girl keeps growing up!

Today was supposed to be hella busy with course enrollment, as the technical issue we'd been waiting on had supposedly been fixed. It hasn't. So I'm hella busy with other stuff, all of which is important, but none of which is as important as course enrollment. Grr.

One thing I forgot to mention about Sky High is how damned fun the soundtrack is. The soundtrack consists of nothing but '80s covers by contemporary bands, including a nice Bowling for Soup cover of "I Melt With You," a good take on "And She Was" by Keaton Simons, and a truly superb cover of "Save it For Later" by Flashlight Brown. Highly recommended (although, as one reviewer notes, it would have been nice to see Michael Giacchino's score get some recognition).

[ profile] shadesong and I finally saw the US Women's Gymnastics Championships last night, or at least the one hour NBC allowed people to see (tape-delayed in Atlanta, since preseason football bumped it on Saturday). Quite nice. Liukin and Memmel were both phenomenal. But Alicia Sacramone's floor exercise was just a thing of beauty -- she may not have the all-around talents that the others have, but given my bias for the floor exercise anyway, her performance was easily the highlight.

Also caught Family Guy and American Dad on reruns. Anyone know if the intelligence chart from FG (showing creationists below the mentally retarded) is available anywhere as an icon?

Finally, the usual weekly administrivia reminder: I'm barely reading LJ, and with all the work stuff, not likely to be caught up until September. Likewise, I probably won't be adding new folks back until then, when I actually get breathing room to look at journals again.


Jul. 14th, 2005 10:06 am
yendi: (Freak2)
Finally watched Ichi the Killer.

Miike is a sick, sick man.

Remind me to never, ever be a character in one of his movies.
yendi: (Jason)
(Warning: This post contains spoilers for three movies you'll likely never see anyway)

A post by [ profile] robyn_ma reminded me of the amazingly bad (and ideal for MST3K fans) series of sci-fi horror films, XTRO.

As bad as the films are to begin with, they get worse when you lump them together.

Perhaps the oddest thing about the series is that the connection between the three films isn't the theme, the type of monster, or the main characters (all the "normal" things that tie a film series together). Instead, the connection is that all three were written and directed by Harry Bromley Davenport.

For those not familiar with Davenport, he's best known for, well, the Xtro movies. The only other movies he's done that you might have encountered are Mockingbird Don't Sing (a fictionalized account of Genie, the famous feral girl found in the '70s) and The Adventures of Young Brave, considered by many to be the worst children's movie ever.

But Xtro is where this guy really shines. He managed, over the course of thirteen years (the films were released in 1983, 1990, and 1995, respectively), to put together three completely different horror/sci-fi films, each of which manages to suck in completely different ways, and each of which rips of completely different films.

Xtro, the classic original, hit in 1983, on a budget of three Pounds (did I mention that it was produced in the UK?). Fully two-thirds of that budget was spent convincing future Bond girl Maryam d'Abo to do full frontal nudity, a budget decision that was absolutely worthwhile. The remaining budget was spent on f/x. Don't count on much "acting" here.

That said, this is far and away the best film in the "series." The concept? Sam Phillips is abducted by aliens as his son watches. No one believes the kid, and the mother hooks up with a decadent American. Sometime later, an alien beast is dropped off on earth, and after killing a passerby or two, finds a lonely lady, and rapes her, impregnating her with, well, itself.

Right after the woman wakes up and discovers that she's pregnant, the beast bursts out of her stomach, as alien creatures are wont to do. Unlike the cute little Aliens, however, this time the creature emerges as a cute little Sam Phillips, the guy who was kidnapped.

As Dave Barry would say, I am not making this up.

Then, the movie gets weird. "Sam" claims amnesia, although everyone else assumes he was off having a fling (why else would someone vanish for three years?). Sam has weird powers, and he somehow imparts them to his son, Tony Phillips (not the former Oakland Athletic/Detroit Tiger, although that would also have made for an interesting film). I can only assume that he manages this because DNA tinkering works retroactively, and Sam thus mutated when his dad did. That makes more sense than anything else in the movie.

Sam also eats the eggs of Tony's pet snake, because that's what long-lost fathers do when they return home (surely you all remember the snake-egg eating scene in Tommy?) The victims include all the usual suspects, but Maryam doesn't get turned into an alien breeding unit until after her French au pair character and her horny boyfriend do the nasty in one of the more revealing sex scenes in any horror flick. Tony and Sam do things like turn his toys into monsters (one gets stabby, another, a tank, can shoot missiles, etc), raise random black panthers out of nowhere, and all sorts of other fun stuff. By the end, everyone but Tony, Sam, and Mommy are dead, and Sam and Tony head into space while Mommy returns home to find one of at least two different endings that I've seen, both of which are utterly predictable (don't know which will be on the new DVD release).

That first film might have been bad, but at least it tried some interesting stuff (swiping from slasher flicks, alien movies, and other genres).

Xtro II: The Second Encounter, was just The Suck. The plot involves scientists who get lost while traveling to another dimension. Only one is recovered successfully, and she has an alien (who looks nothing like Sam Phillips) pop out of her. Because that's what they do. The alien then kills everyone in the station, but we only get glimpses of the monster, because they had to save on f/x*. Eventually, the monster is shot, dropped down an elevator shaft, and bludgeoned to death with the purloined scripts of Alien and Aliens.

The only things remarkable about this movie are the fact that the character who is ripped off (poorly) from Bill Paxton's Hudson in Aliens is played by future X-Files villain Nicholas Lea, and that the lead is played by Jan Michael Vincent. For those not really that familiar with JMV, his career basically consists of two things: Airwolf, and a big steaming pile of crap**. That said, he took enough drugs during this period that I don't think he remembers doing this movie.

Somehow, there was demand, five years later, for another movie with the same title. So Davenport, being a professional, sucked it in and gave us Xtro 3: Watch the Skies. We've moved away from Alien rip-offs, instead copying being inspired by X-Files and Predator. This time, our big names in the cast are Robert Culp and Andrew Divoff (think of this movie as "Kelly Robinson and the Wishmaster vs The Predator," if you want), although we also get a star turn by none other than Jim "Hey, my brother's won a bunch of Oscars!" Hanks.

In Watch The Skies, a group of soldiers are sent to an island, supposedly to clear it of land-mines from WWII. But they soon discover a government conspiracy (*gasp*), and an alien who has been frozen in concrete, but has now escaped. This alien can turn invisible, just like the Predators, but unlike the Predators, he's 2'3" tall, sort of an extra-dimensional alien Chucky. Without the winning personality. The monster (I never know whether to say "the Xtro," since I still, three films later, have no fucking clue what an "Xtro" is supposed to be) also traps people with a sticky secretion (insert whatever joke you prefer here -- it'll be better than any line in the movie), and dissects folks with his Alien Scalpel of Doom. Oh, the alien's motive? According to a random film reel from the '50s, the Government cut up its mate! Those bastards! After hours of the usual shenanigans, we get the post-conspiracy denouement, in which every cliche is put on full display.

How bad is this last one? Go watch the trailer (yes, it'll work on Macs with Windows Media Player installed, in spite of the warnings). In most movies, if your alien looks that bad, you don't show the fucking thing in the preview!

I can only wait in anticipation for the next Xtro movie. What wonderful concept will Davenport come up with? An unrealistic alien who pops out of a haunted videotape? An unrealistic extra-dimensional being who carries a chainsaw and canibalized teenagers? A horrific monster from beyond who gets trapped on an island and befriends a volleyball? With the mind of Davenport behind it, the possibilities are endless.

*The need to edit around a small f/x budget is the only thing this has in common with Jaws.

**Yes, I know he was in Bufalo '66. But that's only because Vincent Gallo clearly wanted someone more fucked in the head than himself around.
yendi: (Brain)
So, on Friday, we got a package in the mail from the good folks at, from whom I'd won a copy of Shout About Movies Volume 1. We promptly played two of the three games on the DVD, and loved it.

The game engine is actually better than that of Scene It -- the questions are all DVD-based, all of them reward speed, and there are some surprisingly sophisticated questions (including a good ordering of events one and a matching one that has some well-done clues). The movies were mostly mainstream, but ranged within that from horror to comedies to classics, and we had a blast. It's probably better for a large group of partiers, but for any movie buffs, it's fun. We're saving the third game for our trip to Boston. :-)

What's really impressive is that the engine actually keeps score! Considering eight rounds of play, with 1, 2, and 3 point questions, that's hella impressive (and the dialogue changes based on the score).

Oh, and for the BJ90210 fans, Gabrielle Carteris is the female narrator.

The one drawback is that there's only three games. I understand that, given the sophistication of the engine, they can't fit more games on a disc, but at $25 a pop, that's too much. Since the DVD cost itself is the cheapest element, they'd really be doing well to put two or even three discs in a set at that price. Scene It may get old, but it takes more than three games before it becomes completely worthless. Still since we got this for free, I can't really complain about the value. :-) But if you're thinking of spending your own money, look for it used (or see if there's a friend who wants to buy it used from you afterwards).
yendi: (Freak2)
The movie may well blow, but it's inspired some great writing:

[ profile] sweinberg: Buy a box of M&M's on your way into Fantastic Four, and eat one (1) candy every time Ms. Alba offers a new facial expression. You'll be going home with a mega-full box of M&M's, trust me.

Roger Ebert: Alicia tenderly feels [The Thing's] face with her fingers, like blind people often do while falling in love in the movies, and I guess she likes what she feels. Maybe she's extrapolating.

[ profile] nihilistic_kid: Sue Storm isn't just a chikie-poo in the movie, she's a geneticist. She wears make-up like she's a ninth grade whore and never does any science stuff, but really, she's smart.

Walter Chaw: . . . and then we're told that when our lovable quartet's DNA were altered, the DNA of their uniforms was altered, too, meaning that their clothing is able to perform the same feats of derring-do as these superheroes. Not knowing that fabric even had DNA, I was amazed to discover that the stupidest movie of the year actually taught me something. (I hope to one day have the power to clone my battered "Members Only" jacket using this fabulous technology.)

A.O. Scott: But really, Ms. Alba - who has certainly made the most of her own genetic advantages - is no more laughable in such a role than Ioan Gruffudd, who does his best to achieve the emotional depth and physical grace of a plastic action figure. Mr. Gruffudd plays Reed Richards, a genius who has lost the financing for his pet project, which involves both space travel and DNA sequencing.

Really, any movie that inspires this much fine writing is worth the production costs.
yendi: (Jason)
Iron Man


And linked from that page was this one:

Miike and Tsukamoto books. Oh yes, they will be mine.

Layer Cake

Jul. 7th, 2005 10:04 pm
yendi: (Default)
[ profile] shadesong, [ profile] photognome and I just saw Layer Cake, which kicked eight kinds of ass, with some solid plotwork, nifty dialogue, and great acting. And it featured a nearly naked Sienna Miller, always a bonus. Highly recommended for fans of good crime movies.

And those fuckheads at Fox (movie division, as opposed to the usual fuckheads at Fox I talk about, who spend their time messing up the TV schedule) dropped the ball with Vaughn and are now giving us Ratner for X3. Seeing this, the tragedy of that choice just magnifies. It's practically farce now.
yendi: (Darth Tater)
Am I the only one who remembers this little practical joke played by Lucas and friends?

Plot Matters

Like everyone else at the time, I thought the shot at Devlin and Emmerich was well-deserved.

Who knew that a few short months later, I'd have much fonder memories of the Amercan attempt at Godzilla than of Jar-Jar and Friends?
yendi: (Default)
Grr. They're releasing an unrated version of Dodgeball. Nine months after the initial release of the movie. Have I mentioned how much I loathe double dips?

Stayed home yesterday, as I was at the "use it or lose it" level of vacation, and was going to lose those eight hours as of July 1 no matter what. Spent the day cleaning up in the kitchen and bedroom, working on job app stuff, and dozing with a cat on my chest. We also went shopping, discovering that Publix no longer stocks my lovely "Deli-style Rye" flavor of Triscuits. Bastards.

Creepiest thing I noted while reading through the stacks of magazines: Stuff Magazine (shut up! I get it for free!) has a pictorial/interview with Danica McCellar. Like the interviewer, I've got a hard time looking at the pics and not saying, "but it's Winnie Cooper!" Other than watching Static Shock, I don't think I've seen a project of hers in years.

Really sad offshoot of that last point -- checking out the IMDB for other TWY castmembers, it looks like the only thing that Jason Hervey has done in recent memory (other than his stint on JLU as Dove) is exec produce I Want to Be a Hilton. *shudder* I believe that puts him below Todd Bridges on the "former TV child star" Walk of Shame.

Plans for the holiday weekend: Get crap done around the house. Woohoo! Maybe, if I get bored, I'll kill Diablo.
yendi: (Darth Tater)
I finally got my copy of Miike's Dead or Alive last night, which was, as always, an incredibly fucked-up movie.

A really fucked-up movie.

A really, really fucked-up movie. With some of the most truly horrifying stuff I've ever witnessed.

I mean, I watched this and IFC's broadcast of Romero's Dawn of the Dead back-to-back, and DOA was the one that left my brain scarred.

And he somehow directed two sequels. With the same stars. I must see them.
yendi: (Jason)
My brain's basically telling me go get some coffee, or else it'll shut down on me. Stupid brain. Stupid exhaustion.

Speaking of brains, for those who aren't familiar with the series, the Romero zombies aren't really brain eaters. Sure, they'll eat them if they have to, just like I might eat a McDonald's burger if there's no other choice, but these guys are all about the intestines, liver, stomach, and other juicy bits.

The whole zombies/brains thing really got its start in Return of the Living Dead 1 and 2 (#3 was all about Mindy Clarke and her piercing fetish, and was pretty much brain-free). Dan O'Bannon wrote and directed the first one, and it's a blast. The zombies there are actually already as advanced as the zombies we get in the later Romero flicks, but the movie is much more of a comedy.

Actually, I'm not sure the "brains" concept has ever not been played for laughs. Aside from the RotLD movies, you've got the one Tick episode, as well as the zombies in various comic strips (almost always played out with the zombies ignoring Stupid Butt of Jokes because he doesn't have brains), and the unique zombies in Diablo 2.

But the Romero Zombies? Aside from being slow, steady, and strong? Definitely organ meat creatures.
yendi: (Jason)
Just got back from a screening of Land of the Dead.

Damn, that was fun.

Best movie in which a bunch of homicidal creatures led by a screaming guy named Big Daddy attack civilized people ever*.

You know the basic story: Marshall, Will, and Holly, routine expedition, waterfall, dinosaurs, Sleestacks, etc.

Erm. Well, Land of the Dead. Not Lost.

Overall (and keeping this spoiler-free, at least for anything beyond the first five minutes), it was damned good, and damned short. This clocked in at barely over an hour and a half. Compare that to seventeen hours for Day of the Dead, and you'll see that Romero's tightened up his pacing a little bit. Action-packed, but with traditional Romero zombies, who rely on stealth and persistence, not being able to run a 100-meter dash. And, of course, they're starting to get a little smarter, making them all the more scary. Less character development than in the last two, both a good and a bad thing. Part of the point of the world (explicitly addressed by Simon Baker's character) is that your life before the world went to hell doesn't matter anymore. Overall, no real script complaints, and considering how utterly un-fucking-readable Romero's last zombie project (the waste of paper known as Toe Tags), it's nice to see that he still has some interesting ideas.

Other notes:

Romero hasn't dropped the use of zombies as a class metaphor, this time extending the concepts only touched on in Day to their logical extremes. Some good stuff.

The casting hurt the movie a little bit. Not because anyone was bad - Leguizamo and Hopper, in particular, were a blast -- but given a group of people going on an expedition into zombie territory, it's hard to imagine that the top-billed folks are going to bite it first. This is particularly annoying with Asia Argento, who is first introduced in a scene in which she's supposed to be in mortal danger, but will clearly live because she's Asia Argento, the top-billed female. This is the first film in the series to use "name" actors, which is why it was a surprise.

The big revelation in this cast was Robert Joy, whose mentally-addled Charlie gets most of the best lines (the other ones going to Hopper's Kaufman and Pedro Miguel Arce's Pillsbury).

This was as funny as it was horrific. But it was a horror movie first. The comedy was gallows humor at its most extreme.

And yes, even with the R rating, lots of gore. I do, however, fully expect to see an unrated version on DVD with all the extra stuff that had to be cut.

Romero loses points for having a rat scare. That was beneath him.

And yes, Tom Savini's cameo is all but impossible to miss.

Overall, definitely worth seeing. I've got nothing against the hyperfast zombies of recent years, but it's nice to see the evolution of Romero's classic creatures.

*Granted, that's because Ghosts of Mars blew, and the zombie scenes in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof were cut by the studio, but the movie was still good.
yendi: (Jason)
According to the latest issue of GameInformer, John Woo and Midway are producing a game for the X-Box and PS# called Strangehold, which will be a sequel to Hard Boiled.

Quoting the article:

[The Game] even features the voice-acting talent of star Chow Yun Fat as he reprises his role as Inspector Tequila.

Really not sure how I feel about this.

Oh, wait. I am sure. I don't fucking want it or need it.

And no, they don't say if CYF is reprising his role as Tequila in English, or in subbed Chinese.
yendi: (Freak2)
Best Batman movie yet.

Which is, realistically, damning it with faint praise, as the last three* blew. But this one was damned good in its own right.

But this one captured the feel of Batman, getting his motivations right (something Burton missed by a long shot), getting his interactions with the villains down, and throwing in tons of stuff for the comic geeks (some of whom will whine that the villains and supporting characters aren't the same as in the comics, but they miss the point as much as the folks who griped about Spidey's organic webshooters did). Just a solid superhero movie, one that focuses on what makes Bats unique. Katie Holmes does suck some life out of the movie in her early scenes, but even she manages to find her footing by the latter half of the film. And since the rest of the cast includes people like Michael Caine, Gary Oldman, and (of course) Christian Bale, well, we've all seen what Nolan can do with genuinely talented actors. No hamming it up -- not even by Cillian Murphy as Scarecrow -- which is a major plus.

There are a few minor plot complaints (which I'll avoid for spoiler purposes), but nothing that prevented me from having a good time. My only other minor complaint is the implication that Gotham is in the South (mentioned in a one-off comment). It's not. Otherwise, they captured the feel of Gotham nicely, and of Batman near-perfectly.

*Yes, three -- unless your tongue is stuck three inches up Tim Burton's ass, it's hard to ignore the fact that Batman Returns is just a pair of plastic nipples and a good Michelle Pfeiffer performance away from sucking as much as Schumacher's movies.
yendi: (Default)
So, we use our penultimate free rental coupon on Team America: World Police, which was ok, but not much more. The best part, by far, was the songs -- Parker and Stone are at their best there, and some of the songs (like "Montage") will take forever to get out of my head. The novelty of seeing the same old stuff done with marionettes got old quickly, and although the satire was evenhanded and usually on the mark, the movie only had about a half hour's worth of good material in it, and probably would have worked better as a SP episode. And Stone and Parker need to accept the fact that they are sucktastic voice actors. They need to be willing to hire someone else to voice characters, so we don't get caught up thinking, "hey, that guy sounds like Constable Barbrady." Still, great songs.
yendi: (Default)
Howl's Moving Castle was playing at the Tara (and not the Landmark, surprisingly). We caught it on Saturday, and I liked it quite a bit. I suspect I'll like the subbed version even better. Although it's hard to go too wrong with Jean Simmons and Lauren Bacall.

Sunday, we used another freebie coupon to rent the director's cut of Donnie Darko, which, unlike Garden State, did not disappoint. Damned fine (and damned fucked-up) film. That said, looking at the IMDB list of differences between the director's cut and the released cut I can't imagine how anyone who saw the original liked it. The stuff that was cut was, imho, essential to the movie.

We also watched, of course, the latest eps of Teen Titans (fun, but not special, and it breaks into a serious story arc), and JLU (damned fine -- possibly the best animated series on TV at this point).

I also finished Hiding the Elephant: How Magicians Invented the Impossible and Learned to Disappear. by Jim Steinmeyer, a magician and trick designer who's worked with pretty much all the big names in the industry. This book isn't about today's magicians, though, but about the magicians who led the surge in popularity in Britain and America in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. It explains a bunch of tricks and standard props, but it's fascinating for the insight into the minds of these men, with their breakthroughs that overlapped "real" science and the jealousy and competitiveness that drove them all. Houdini, Maskelyne, Selbit, and their brethren come across as human, flaws and all, but are still clearly geniuses. It's just a damned fun read. Anyone who enjoyed The Turk will enjoy this one.

Currently between books, but I'll be reading a novella of [ profile] murnkay's on my busride home tonight.
yendi: (Nodwick)
A co-worker tossed an expiring Blockbuster freebie coupon our way, so we rented Garden State.

Consider me truly underwhelmed.

Part of that, of course, is that this is a tiny movie that was held up as the motherfucking indie holy grail last year, when it really should have just been treated as a small indie romantic comedy. But even then, the first twenty minutes or so are painfully boring, recycling the same awkwardness/disassociativeness that we've seen in hundreds of other movies. It didn't become watchable until Natalie Portman came on screen, partially because her character was a lot more interesting than Braff's (who, wearing the actor/writer/director hats, seemed to do too much to avoid overshadowing the other characters, a critical rookie mistake). Then again, Portman's worth watching in anything*. Likewise, Peter Sarsgaard steals a good chunk of the movie as well. But although there were plenty of good moments, the movie felt disjointed, and not in the way Braff intended (as a metaphor for Andrew's disassociation with society and life in general).

And don't get me started on the worst-trained guide dog in the history of guide dogs. Pointlessly stupid scenes like that throw me completely out of a movie.

*Disclaimer: For these purposes, "anything" does not include any film directed by, written by, or otherwise affected by George Lucas.


yendi: (Default)

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