Tuesday, October 27, 2009

MIDNIGHT MEAT TRAIN (2008)

Directed By: Ryuhei Kitamura
Written By: Jeff Buhler
Based On A Short Story By: Clive Barker
Cinematography By: Jonathan Sela
Editor: Toby Yates

CAST: Bradley Cooper, Leslie Bibb, Vinnie Jones, Roger Bart, Peter Jacobsen, Tony Curran, Brooke Shields, Ted Raimi, Quenton “Rampage” Jackson


I can see why the studio held this film up. By doing so they made this into a unofficial cult film the truly sad part was I bought into it. But the end product is not worth it. I don’t believe it was I had my hopes up to high even if I wasn’t expecting much this film is pretty much a disappointment on many levels

The film is too stylized for it’s own good. There is nothing wrong with having style especially if it’s a good style but here it goes overboard it’s clear the director is talented but he seems more fit for action adventure type films not for horror first off the gore and violence while overabundant and messy is just too fake looking to much digital effects automatically take you out of the scene. For the type of film this wants to be or at least a decent entry into the films based on Clive Barker stories this film needed more suspense and shocks. Clive Barker films usual feel supernatural and messed up this seemed a little too clean cut and easy. It’s not really too disturbing in fact after awhile it seems to get repetitive

It also doesn’t help that most of the cast is damn near model good looking I know they all revolve around the art world but let’s get serious it is almost like a adult website in a horror movie that sent me back to memories to the 90’s teen horror boom albeit this one is more violent but still it is sub-par.

The characters don’t make you feel anything in the form of sympathy for them as they seem to be passé about violence happening to other people in fact brooke shields character finds beauty in these violent scenes the drama and intensity in the eyes of the people the photographer takes pictures of are what is true art.

This film is about a photographer who is trying to get work or at least a show for his work but the problem is his photos seem to lack the drama and intensity of the city so one day he saves a girl form being mugged she ends up missing but he remembers he saw a man get on the train with her and he begins to follow the man to find out about him and investigate him and the deeper he gets into finding out the more obsessed he gets and the more trouble he causes for himself and everyone around him. He soon starts to change himself not physically but emotionally and mentally.

The only scenes I found somewhat close to what the intention of this story might have been or at least close to the disturbing images that are supposed to be common in a story like this is the scenes of the massacre on the train that the photographer actually witnesses. Also the final battle scene between the butcher and the photographer with the 360 degree camera angles and where the gore finally seems organic and real

I would say check this out when it is on cable the only reason I don’t say to wait for television is that It makes no sense to televise this movie as for the most part you need the violence to understand the film and to really get into it but it is a disappointing endeavor just the wrong director with the wrong project Mr. Kitamura has directed some great visually accomplished violent films Like VERSUS but if John Carpenter, Stuart Gordon, or Tobe Hooper got there hands on this. This film could have been something amazing a lot more hard-edged not as glossy


GRADE: D

I LOVE YOU BETH COOPER (2009)

Directed By: Chris Columbus
Written By: Larry Doyle (Based On His Book)
Cinematography By: Phil Abraham
Editor: Peter Honess

CAST: Paul Rust, Hayden Panettiere, Jack T. Carpenter, Lauren London, Lauren Storm, Shawn Roberts, Samm Levine, Andrea Savage, Alan Ruck, Cynthia Stevenson, Patt Finn


This is a disappointment considering I loved the book so much. Soon as I heard that Hayden Panettiere Was staring as Beth Cooper I knew it was doomed. I thought in the hands of Chris Columbus this could be decent but this is studio chis Columbus not early screenwriting whiz Chris Columbus the man behind YOUNG SHERLOCK HOLMES.

Basically that is what is wrong with the film the cast is just strange. But I can’t blame Mr. Columbus Totally since the screenplay is written by the author of the book. Who initially had the idea to write this as a screenplay but when there was no interest decided to write is as a book to garner more interest and low and behold they decided to make it into a film. But the funny thing is that it was better as a book!!! With a better ending that felt full while being ambiguous while this one just feels dead.

The film feels like it was sanitized from the book so it could play to younger teens but keeping some Raunch so that it doesn’t seem too tame. It’s a film that talks down to its audience by just lumping in one slapstick violent scene to the next. Instead of sticking to a novel that managed to be funny, Naughty but also reminded you of what it was like to be young and have that passion for a girl of your dreams. With your future ahead of you. This film just feels gimmicky. It has no soul.

The film is a perfect timewaster but you won’t laugh much or remember too much afterwards, it makes a threesome not sexy at all nor funny. This film will be perfect to put on television as you don’t really have to cut anything. Plus the characters don’t remind me of any real teenagers at all.

This film came and went to theaters with hardly a blip on the screen. Which is not all that surprising since as soon as I saw the trailer I knew it was doomed. It wasn’t funny and felt like it was trying way too hard. It was a struggle and after i saw the trailer my heart broke.

When it comes to the cast. Paul Rust is a good actor with a strange look but he still looks to old to be in this film. I thought it was impossible but the film finds a way to make Lauren London not attractive plus it doesn’t give her much to do. Hayden penirette is attractive but she doesn’t have the look or character to play this dream girl that many men obsess over she looks just regular to me. Plus her character half the time seems a little off or crazy and her later reasoning make no sense in the film. Plus with the age difference of her and the male lead it makes him more look like a molester then a paramour. The only actor who comes off good is Jack T. Carpenter, Who plays his sexually confused best friend while he is funny I only wish it was in a better film.

This film is not horrible but it’s not good or decent either. Maybe a good pick for older highly clean cut kids but all others will be bored except for maybe senior citizens.

Wait for TV. Which I’m sure it will be on in no time.

GRADE: D

ORPHAN (2009)

Directed By: Jamie Collet-Serra
Written By: David Johnson
Story By: Alex Mace
Cinematography By: Jeff Cutter
Editor: Tim Alverson

CAST: Vera Farminga, Peter Sarsgaard, CCH Pounder, Isabelle Fuhrman, Karel Roden, Margo Martindale, Jimmy Bennett


The film succeeds in a lot of ways until you get to the third act which I know disappointed a lot of people with it’s ridiculousness. I think it is because the film so far plays but logical realistic rules so far and then you have this twist that belongs in a crazier movie. Especially since all the advertisements say “you’ll never figure out the ending” they are right you won’t no one could have. It’s like those mysteries where they give you all this evidence and clues to suspect one of the characters you know about up to this point is the murderer then they bring out a character out of the blue making all that came before it null and void fully knowing you were never really meant to figure it out.

For the most part the film is entertaining it starts off with a gory scene but hardly rises to that level of violence again. The rest of the film is more diabolical. It set’s a dark tone as all of the scenes and surroundings seem drained of color. So there is a lack of vitality yet a polished look that is supposed to be laid back but really tries to cover the trouble that is down deep.

The film is about a couple that has two children who lost a child at childbirth that the mother has never fully gotten over so they decide to adopt after she has gone to therapy for a few years. They decide to adopt a seemingly perfect intelligent little girl. Soon after is when all of the trouble starts soon there are many violent accidents. Which the mother soon suspects is committed by the girl we know only because we are witnesses to it. Which could have made this film a totally different type of thriller if we don’t know if she is actually commiting these acts or is it really just the other going crazy. But then the film would have been more of a slow moving psychological thriller insead of a more traditional thriller with more action.

I have to give the director credit it shows more skill and is better then his previous Film HOUSE OF WAX. The film intrigued me from the beginning and I was never bored.

It’s interesting that Vera farminga stars in this film which is a bit similar to a thriller she made last year named JOSHUA. Only in that film it was her son who was evil and driving her crazy but his real challenge was his father. Here it is her really versus the little girl.

This Film goes best with a Demented kids Film Festival with THE BAD SEED, WHO CAN KILL A CHILD, THE GOOD SON, JOSHUA, and this film. This is a good rental. It has the requisite thrill factor and the shocking I can’t believe they just did what they did. Especially since children are imperil more then the adults in this film.

SPOILER. The alternate ending where she survives could have been done many different ways she walks downstairs the cops don’t believe she is dangerous and she kills them all. Or they don’t believe she is the killer so they let her slip through there fingers only to show up later at another orphanage. Or leave it open ended where she just escapes leading to more sequels.

GRADE: C+

GOOD HAIR (2009)

Directed By: Jeff Stilson
Written By: Lance Crouther, Chris Rock, Jeff Stilson, Chuck Sklar
Cinematography By: Cliff Charles & Mark Henderson
Editor: Paul Marchand & Greg Nash

Featuring: Raven Symone, Eve, Salt N’ Pepa, Lauren London, Maya Angelou, Andre Harrell, Sarah Jones, Nia long, Tracie Thoms, Vanessa Bell Calloway, Megan Goode, Melyssa Ford, Al Sharpton, Ice-T, Paul Mooney, KRS-ONE,


This is a must see. It’s not the greatest documentary of all time but it is like a Michael Moore documentary in other words it’s a documentary for people who don’t usually like or go to documentry’s it’s funny while being informative and bringing up emotions of course the film has the celebrity interviews to bring more people in to see them give there personal account of the subject but that is not the whole film it’slike a little boost now and then

Good hair is about the business and culture of black women and there hair the processes they go through to be what is taught to them to be beautiful by straightening and having long hair. It not only follows the culture by talking to hairdressers and the women who are paying big bucks for this but it also talks to business owners and the place where most of this hair is coming from India. While exploring this it is also follows the Bronner Brothers hair show and the competition for hairstylist of the year. The subjects are almost as entertaining as the film and some easily walk away with the film.

Though the film is hosted by chris rock he is not the director he is the producer and host because this subject is something he wanted to explore but he is the one asking all the questions and helping to explain everything. While showing sad and hostile scenes and making them a little more bearable and calm through comedy. But you can’t help but think a lot of times he gets answers and access a little more easier because of his celebrity status. Without that it might have been a little harder to gain access to certain places.

The film is much like the skit when Chris Rock hosted the scars, and he went to a black movie theater and asked them about the Oscar nominated films. Through his comedy he is exploring and shining a light on a broader serious subject.

The shameful facts of the film are aplenty like the fact that African Americans are 12% of the population but 90% of the fake hair business a billion dollar business that only 5 % of African Americans own any of the businesses. Most of the companies are owned or run by Koreans. The Fact that as a African American it seems so hard to keep our own money in our community and we willingly gie it away to others who make money off of our community but don’t respect us is a on-going problem and another reason why it seems hard for us to come together and have any power as a community. The film is certainly an eye opener. Plus as African American cinema it is a film that needs to be supported so that more black cinema can be made and cultivated since there is so little of it out there.

As usual I was enjoying the film so much I only wished it had been longer.

GRADE: B+

Sunday, October 18, 2009

SPUN (2002)

Cast: Jason Schwartzmen, Mickey Rourke, Brittany Murphy, John Leguizamo, Mena Suvari, Josh Peck, Patrick Fugit, Debbie Harry, China Chow, Charlotte Ayana, Julia Mendoza, Eric Roberts, Nicholas Gonzalez, Larry Drake, Rob Halford, Tony Kaye, Ron Jeremy, Billy Corgan

Directed & Edited By: Jonas Akerlund
Written By: Will De La Santos & Creighton Vero
Cinematography By: Eric Broms


This film is just a dirty as the characters it portrays it seems to be trying to send the message of drawing you in with the visuals and showing you the life of a tweaker so you can see how pathetic and disgusting the life is but at times it seems to also make some characters mythically cool like the character of the cook played by Mickey Rourke.. Worse all the bad things seem to be played more for comedy then anything else like telling a story. I wanted to like the film but only found a few things noteworthy or fascinating

Like most movies that involve drugs as central to the plot and addicts as most of the main characters there is a lot of misadventures that you think are going to add up to something like a plot but it ends up the movie doesn’t really have anything to say. Sure visually it is great and the cast is likeable but they need better material they inhabit the characters but if the characters are just there with nothing to do then it’s just like the life of tweakers a waste

The movie is directed by Jonas Akerlund who has directed videos for Madonna, He certainly has a eye for visuals but he needs to find material that match his eye here he doesn’t find it. There seems to be a epidemic with foreign directors when they make American movies they seem to like to direct stories that focus on the underground and the downtrodden there little joy’s and mostly bleak existences which is there right to do but at least make it dramatic or interesting that would be nice instead of making it seem like a photo shoot with a theme no substance and all deteriorating gloss.

There are some really gross scenes like Mena Suvari having a bowel movement or John Leguizamo’s constant masturbating or the castration of Patrick fugit I can understand the need to be shocking with your dark comedy to be noticed and make a statement but it’s just a wasted endeavor here in fact the most interesting character is in the movie but really doesn’t do too much and that is Mickey Rourke the movie isn’t all bad it ‘s worth a watch but it’s not as good or revolutionary as it thinks it is.

You get to see The strippers, The dealers, Porn shops and all the usual taboo material.
But for some reason it seems rather tame and not cutting edge.

The film was originally intended to be a documentary on Meth Cooks. Instead they just took the story of a meth addict (Co-Writer Will De La Santos) and his experiences chauffering a meth cook round town in Eugene, Oregan for three days. They just embellished the stories to be more cinematic.

GRADE: C-

HOSTEL: Part 2 (2007)

Cast: Lauren German, Bijou Phillips, Heather Matarazzo, Roger Bart, Jay Hernandez, Jordan Ladd, Richard Burgi, Vera Jordanova

Written & Directed By Eli Roth
Cinematography By: Milan Chadima
Editor: Gorge Folsey Jr.


This was one of those movies that had a chance to really be something different something special make this franchise count go past all the accusations that had been thrown not only at the film but the filmmaker but as they say in easy rider Not we but “he blew it”

This film takes place on the same train after the last one ended but after tieing up loose ends fro the first film we are thrust into the company’s next sale of three girls visiting Prague who are American and there to study art who have almost no personalities just character types the shy one the good girl the party girl as they are seduced into being captured how they are sold to the highest bidder and the death set-up it also focuses on two friends one alpha male who gets his buddy involved the alpha-male feels this is the ultimate hunting trip and will give him the killer edge in business he feels it will toughen his friend up and let him get out the aggression he can’t at home with his wife and kids. We see what they have to go through to get certified and prepared

This is almost the same story as the first movie except he has replaced the males with girls who don’t have as much fun or hook-up instead before they are kidnapped they just have fun and think of all the art they will get to see and experience. Kind of a stereotypical way to make these characters. But also if the whole big idea here is to make the women get tortured then this is just another typical horror film where women are mutilated and tortured in states of undress almost like a punishment for being femanine that was what made the first film so different was it was the males who were hunted and mutilated

There are only a few things in general which make this film interesting finding out how the business works was interesting but could have been explored more like it would have been a departure from what was expected if the while story was told from the business part of view with having to deal with the escape of the girls from the planning of the abduction or in something totally different remake the first film totally seeing how the business deals with the set-up the sale and trying to find Paxton when he escapes and dealing with the deaths of there workers and clients. The other interesting thing is the next to final scene where there are double crosses and revelations galore before the ridiculous revenge filled final scene. The reason this movie will probably be remembered is the castration of a character in full close-up which he deserved for his all of a sudden change in demeanor that makes no sense and also as punishment for making the audience sit through this whole movie and this is the only really edgy scene in the whole film

Despite his intention to shock Mr. Roth also tries to beautify certain scenes of the carnage with what he deems as artistic flourishes that he has seen in European films this movie strives to be like and seems to be at least a little modeled on but it comes off more as pretentious and unnecessary and with little sense like the killing of one character by a woman who seems to be a countess she hands the girl upside down naked and slashes her with a blade that makes blood drop onto her while she seems to get turned on by bathing in the blood the way I described it is more exciting then the finished product of the scene

There are some scenes where he tries some dreamlike surreal imagery but it’s out of place in a film like this so it just makes you wonder what is going on it isn’t subtly put in there it’s more just comes out of nowhere and is too abrupt. He seems to be trying to make a art film where as this is and was like it’s predecessor a popcorn horror movie with extreme violence almost a exploitation movie or a grindhouse film with gloss

The first movie had a cameo by filmmaker Takashi Miike and just like his body of work the first film was over the top lunacy at certain points but entertaining this film with a cameo by filmmaker Ruggero Deodato is like his body of work lots of beautiful camera work but really all that does is decorate the gore his films are more exploitationish in a sick depraved way where as mike’s films are sick but fun.

I guess this film was Eli Roth’s fate he already had made 2 pretty good films Cabin Fever and the original hostel maybe he had too much confidence being the wunderkind of horror and this hopefully brought him back down to focus on good work instead of anything I do will fly.


GRADE: F

DANCE FLICK (2009)

Directed By: Damien Dante Wayans
Written By: Damien Dante Wayans, Craig Wayans, Kennan Ivory Wayans, Marlon Wayans, Shawn Wayans
Cinematography By: Mark Irwin
Editor: Scott Hill

Cast: Damon Wayans Jr. Shoshana Bush, Amy Sedaris, Lochlyn Munro, Essence Atkins, Marlon Wayans, Shawn Wayans, Chris Elliott, Keenan Ivory Wayans, David Alan Grier, Kim Wayans, Tichina Arnold, George Gore II, Craig Wayans


While rarely funny at sending up it’s targets the film is not witty the jokes are lazy and not very well thought out with its low budget the film just looks cheap

Even though it’s not directed by Keenan Ivory Wayans. It is written and directed by the next generation of the Wayans family and while the previous generation had at least some success with a few good and hilarious films. The next generation is not starting off well.

Half of the jokes are stand alone nd seem to be more about spoofing pop culture then staying on course and spoofing all of these teenage dance movies like, SAVE THE LAST DANCE which it seems to be mostly inspired by. And films like STOMP THE YARD, STEP UP, HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL and HAIRSPRAY. The film really never stays on the theme which makes the movie seem like a wide collection of skits rather then having a natural plot. This seems to be a common problem in a lot of the modern day spoof films which seem to only be made to be year end revues of all things pop culture instead of the subject or film(s) they are supposed to be spoofing. Which I guess is because these films strive not to be one joke films so they need to pad the films with unnecessary jokes that have nothing to do with anything else in the film.

I realize these films are not made to be cinematic classics but at the least it should me memorable for being entertaining and good. The film just feels lazy.

The main story is the two leads falling in love and him not only teaching her how to dance but find her passion for it again and gain her self confidence. One of the problems is that the leads look too old to play believable teenagers. Yet none of the performers seem engaging enough to really pay attention to nor do they create characters who are the least bit interesting nor do they have any charisma or personality to engage you to watch them.

Since its not rated R The material feels watered down ad keeps the jokes from going profane and over the top. Which is where the Wayans usually excel but here trying to market to a teen audience. So it leaves them kind of shackled.

The film involves separate characters who have nothing to do with each other until near the end when they come together to be a dance crew though they don’t actually do any dancing, but they are just there no scenes of them bonding to come together as a team, it just happens. In fact one character is introduced and is never used later so there is no reason for the film to spend any real time developing the character who is not even used in running gags he is only around for two scenes. He is not needed at all.

Skip It

GRADE: F

WHIP IT! (2009)

Directed By: Drew Barrymore
Written By: Shauna Cross
Based On The Book By: Shauna Cross
Cinematography By: Robert D. Yeoman
Editor: Dylan Tichenor

CAST: Ellen Page, Marcia Gay Harden, Daniel Stern, Drew Barrymore, Kristen Wiig, Landon Pigg , Jimmy Fallon, Zoe Bell, Eve, Andrew Wilson, Ari Gaynor, Juliette Lewis, Alia Shawkat, Har Mar Superstar


Drew Barrymore’s directorial debut is much like her personality. It’s cute, fun, funny and surprising. With a career in front of the camera for almost all of her life and working with so many talented directors and running her own production company. It really goes to show that while she was working, she was taking notes and paying attention because she definitely picked the right story to direct and is more successful then I believe most people would have thought.

The film based on the young adult novel by the same name it’s the story of a teenage girl whose mother always enters her in beauty pageants and doesn’t really fit in too much in her town then she discovers a all female roller derby league and enters into it and finally blooms and bonds with people.

This is the type of film you usually discover you see the advertisements and think it’s going to be one way but then when you actually sees it. It is totally different and it has an energy and mood that is infectious that you can’t help but find yourself smiling throughout.

It has a bunch of cliché filled scenes but the difference is they end in a totally different way. I’m not going to lie this film is a chick flick but not the typical one where the guys will be eyeing the exit and checking there watches. It has a girl power theme but can be entertaining to both sexes

The performances are all good but special Mention goes to Andrew Wilson as the girls coach. Juliette Lewis who whenever she is on screen in most movies puts a smile on my face and usually makes me laugh as bliss’s rival on another team and Kristen Wiig as bliss’s surrogate mother on the team. Drew Barrymore has a supporting role that is more comedic then anything and she really throws herself into as the member of the team who is always getting injured. Ellen page has seemed to corner the market on this type of role not exactly JUNO here not as wisecracking and more shy. But I can see why she choose this over the film DRAG ME TO HELL which she dropped out of to be in this film. This seems to speak more to her sensibilities and resume.

At heart the film is a coming of age film told from a female’s perspective. The film doesn’t clearly define exactly if the film takes place in the 90’s or the 2000’s. It also has her mother have the least likely job for a woman who is so obsessed with Pageant’s and being a lady.

It also has a very good soundtrack. This is a must see.

GRADE: B