June 2005

Apres Vous May Not Be For you

by Marion M. Merritt on June 30, 2005

in Uncategorized

Apres Vous is advertised as a French, romantic comedy, but there are too few laughs and the mechanics of its romantic triangle left me cold.

Apres Vous Rated R for Language

When time stressed head waiter and Robert DeNiro look a like (complete with facial mole), Antoine (Daniel Auteuil, Girl On A Bridge, The Closet) finally pulls himself away from his hectic, packed restaurant he must hurry home to his impatient lover, who is buzzing his cell with demands. In order to make for lost time (are there no cabs in Paris), he cuts across an isolated, dark park where he spots Louis (Jose Garcia) taking a swig of wine, standing on a suitcase, preparing to end it all by hanging himself. The hangdog, exhausted Antoine (he has been running hard through the park), struggles to cut Louis loose, almost becoming a victim in the process.
Thus an almost unbelievable plot begins where Antoine risk losing his girlfriend, Christine (Marilyn Canto), jeopardizing his job and adding more mental and financial stress to his life by making it his mission not only to keep the morose, stranger, Louis alive, but help him get his life back in order.
Most of us would have called the police after saving Louis, letting the professionals help him recover. Antoine insists Louis stay at his apartment, despite the objections of Christine, who is made to look selfish, but is the most realistic character. Antoine also coaches and lies for the wine-challenged Louis, securing him a job as a sommelier at his very busy, high stressed work place (just the atmosphere for a suicidal, fragile person) and sets out to right all wrongs by finding the woman who drove Louis to that park tree.
Not only does Antoine find Louis’s love, Blanche (Sandrine Kiberlain) a pretty, but, ordinary florist, who has a complicated, romantic entanglement of her own that Antoine must set right for his shadow, Louis, but he falls for her too, leading our confused savior to drink and a mountain of guilt.

[click to continue…]


Mystery Movie Contest

by December Lambeth on June 30, 2005

in Contests 

Win uber cool postcards, if you get this question right.

It’s a no brainer. Go to the Mystery Movie Contest and give it a whirl.


Are you annoyed by cinema advertising?

by December Lambeth on June 29, 2005

in Uncategorized

Stop the movie ads!

Those stupid little commercials at the beginning of films or the really bad graphic ads that pop up on the screen while you wait for your movie to start, I hate those things. It’s everywhere we go, billboards, tv, newspapers, sucking up 80% of our magazine flip space, and now all over our movie screens; advertising will it ever stop? I forgot to add, that it is everywhere we look online also, I just don’t agree with paying $10.00 for a film and $10.00 for a popcorn and soda so I can be bored to death and completely put out over poorly laid out advertising.
I understand that advertising is needed as part of our economy and it can’t be avoided, hell, I wouldn’t have a job if it wasn’t for advertising, but I get so tired of looking at bad advertising or plastered advertising. Good advertising is much easier to swallow, if it doesn’t play down to the masses and treats us like we are morons.
IT’S STILL MINISCULE BY THE scale of the most established media, but cinema advertising is gaining traction with major advertisers–and their ad budgets. In fact, U.S. advertisers invested $438 million on cinema ads–TV-like commercials that run on screens in theaters before movies–during 2004, an increase of 23 percent over 2003, according to estimates being released today by the Cinema Advertising Council (CAC)….Coming Attractions: Cinema Advertising Growing Fast, Poised For More


Dead Wreckoning

by Tim Dodd on June 23, 2005

in Uncategorized

ZolarCzakl slaughters Romero!

In the wonderfully twisted world of horror and exploitation flicks exists the lumbering, rotting, twitching beast of apocalyptic doom and gut-wrenching gore known as the zombie film. Most fans of these movies know that George A. Romero was essentially the creator of the modern zombie film; before his groundbreaking low budget feature Night of the Living Dead (1968) zombies were of the robotic voodoo kind, controlled by an evil master to do his will. Night of the Living Dead presented zombies as re-animated dead bodies, mindlessly devouring human flesh in an evil quest to destroy and conquer all life on the planet. Pretty heavy stuff, except that Night and the two sequels that followed are so damned fun to watch and are hallmarks of truly great horror entertainment.
Night had a simple premise: a radiation accident causes the bodies of the recently deceased to rise from their graves and start munching on the living, a small group of which hole up in an abandoned farmhouse and try to fend off the ghouls. Romero followed this eleven years later with the much gorier Dawn of the Dead, which concentrates on a group of survivors fending off the zombies in a shopping mall. The third installment of the series was 1985’s Day of the Dead, where a group of soldiers and a group of scientists wage battles on each other while trying to survive in an underground bunker and fend off the relentless walking dead.
So now twenty years later, George A. Romero has unleashed the fourth installment in his Living Dead series, Land of the Dead. With the recent success of movies such as 28 Days Later, Cabin Fever, the remake of Dawn of the Dead, and splatter-comedy Shaun of the Dead, it would seem that zombies are making a comeback, and who better to show them all how it’s done than Romero himself? Surely with studio backing, a fairly large budget, famous actors such as John Leguizamo and Dennis Hopper, and today’s special effects technology, Romero has finally made his zombie masterpiece, right?
Well, kiddies, I’m sorry to say that it just ain’t so.
But first, the story: it is the present day and many years since the initial zombie attacks. A group of military-like zombie hunters, led by the perfectly-coiffed Riley (Simon Baker) and racial stereotype Cholo (John Leguizamo) protect the inner sanctum of what may be the last city populated by the living. The wealthy live in a mall-like fortress owned by businessman Kaufman (Dennis Hopper), who eventually hires Riley to take care of a little business concerning Cholo and some missing weaponry. Added to this, the throng of living dead are beginning to organize themselves a bit more and soon become a major threat as they start to march upon the walled-in city. Riley and his small group of loyal friends find themselves with a lot of problems to fix and thousands of zombies to decimate in many stomach-churning ways.

Let me get right to it and tell you that this movie left me feeling on the colder side of lukewarm. While all of the Dead films concentrate on the conflicts that occur between the living humans as they struggle against the zombies, Land does this in a far less convincing manner than the other three. The other Dead movies have something that this one lacks: heart. A big part of this comes from the one-dimensional characters that simply don’t allow you to care about whether they live or die. You don’t care about their motivations and you don’t care about their problems, therefore you ultimately don’t care about the movie.
Sure, you might say that these movies are mainly about the zombies and the blood and the intestines being pulled out of people’s body cavities, but if you think that’s what makes the Romero Dead movies great then you’re missing half the picture. You can get gore almost anywhere; check out Cabin Fever and a slew of other half-assed movies for that. What you get with a Romero picture is the action and gore plus little observations on humanity that might just make you think a bit about life. You get both for the price of one, and at eight bucks a movie ticket, you should be getting that with Land of the Dead. Unfortunately, it seems that someone shot this movie in the head on the way from script to screen.
What do we get in Land of the Dead? We get a overly good-looking and thorougly unconvincing “hero” in Riley, who is sensitive and perfect in everything that he does and has about as much depth as a plastic kiddie pool. We get Cholo, who acts like the most cliched “spic” that Hollywood could come up with and has absolutely no redeeming qualities whatsoever. You also get Dennis Hopper, who puts in a decent enough performance but seems like he’s just going through the motions in a lot of it. He has his moments of that patented Hopper craziness and gets in a few good lines here and there, but ultimately seems kind of wasted in this role.
There’s also a love interest of sorts for Riley in the character of Slack (Asia Argento), whom Riley rescues from being eaten by zombies in a kind of gladiator game in the city’s underground (if that sounds really stupid, it’s because it is). She’s a hooker, but given the chance just happens to be incredibly handy with high-tech weaponry and guerilla tactics. In other words, she’s a horribly contrived and completely unbelievable character who only exists to be a sexy counterpart to our bland leading man.
Ok, ok, we get it. The characters suck. But you still haven’t convinced me that this isn’t all about blood and guts. How are the zombies?

Well, there’s a main zombie, a former gas station attendant who kind of leads the ghouls around on their quest to kill and eat. The problems I found with this zombie are that first of all, he looks less like a zombie and more like one of the vampires from From Dusk Til Dawn, and second, there’s no real exploration of why he can suddenly think where all the other zombies before weren’t really able to. This zombie suddenly knows what’s going on and feels compassion for his fallen zombie brethren and finally leads the attack on the city. Ok, how?


Beyond that, all of the other zombies look cool and act like zombies should. The special effects are executed well and there are plenty of gross-out moments to please any fan of gurgling blood and ripped out spines. It’s all fine and good, but honestly I was expecting a little more. Each Dead movie has had a progression in its over-the-top violence and inventive ways of killing creatures off, but this one seems to just recycle things from past movies. There’s nothing really all that memorable in any of the gory scenes, especially if you compare them to the scene at the end of Day of the Dead where the zombies rip screaming Joe Pilato in half and show him his guts. Now that’s great stuff.
I imagine many people will see this film and say that it is a fine addition to the hallowed halls of the zombie film, which it may be. Others may be encouraged to tell me to take the stick out of my ass and just enjoy the goddamn movie. Well, perhaps they have a point. But I feel that there is a lot of room for artistic creativity in the realm of horror and exploitation, even if that art only ends up being visible as a nice attempt. I think that there wasn’t even an attempt made in Land of the Dead and that disappoints me. However, I’ve thought about it and realized that even if this movie had nothing to do with the series and was made by another director, I would still be disappointed. And that’s what ultimately counts in my appraisal of this zombie flick.

[click to continue…]


Home Movies: Season 2

by Aaron on June 15, 2005

in Uncategorized

Quite simply, Home Movies has long been one of my favorite animated series (or even in general), and I’m delighted that these sets might give the show the kind of exposure it truly deserves. It’s smart, touching comedy delivered with brilliant style, so do yourself a favor and give it whirl. Fans will find lots to love on this must-have set, and initiates will discover this is a perfect introduction to a show that’s worthy of your time and money. Go! Go now! Get Home Movies: Season 2. You won’t be disappointed.

Home Movies : Season 2
5 Stars

Home Movies was the kind of show that was just too good to stick around for long. After debuting on UPN and promptly going on hiatus, it jumped over to Cartoon Network as part of the Adult Swim lineup where it lasted another 3 seasons before finally caving in against the hordes of talking food, whacked out scientists, and Mission Hill reruns, but over the course of it’s 4 year run Home Movies became the epitome of a great sitcom. Great characters, perfect dialogue, and hilariously goofy situations all delivered in a style that would be impossible to imitate.

You need this

Shout! Factory has just recently released the Season 2 DVD set, which marked the Cartoon Network debut, along with the abandonment of Squiggle-Vision animation in favor of a more traditional (if still minimalist) style. While a great continuation of the first season, Season 2 found creator Brendon Small and his cast of cohorts still finding their footing in the now expanded world of Small’s eponymous creation, but this time out the jokes are a little tighter, the scenarios more elaborate, and the humor just a tad more biting.

Young filmmaker Brendon and his pals Melissa (Melissa Bardin Gratsky) and Jason (H. Jon Benjamin) may be the center of the mostly improvised show, but the goofily deranged soccer coach John McGuirk (also voiced by Benjamin) may just be one of televisions funniest characters. Fat, lazy, and usually drunk, McGuirk dispenses his barroom wisdom to Brendon with the authority and conviction of a man possessing a complete lack of social grace and awareness. Whether it’s cashing in on his insomnia to get enough research money to buy a DVD player, or his hilariously pathetic attempts to get a date, McGuirk’s man-child antics provide the most solid humor of this show. Not to say that the rest of the cast is lacking; far from it. Small’s world is filled with oddballs and misfits, each with their own bizarre charms and idiosyncrasies that are equally exasperating and uproariously funny.

In this season, the gang films some of their best movies like “Starboy and the Captain of Outerspace” (which also happens to spawn some of my favorite songs of the series), while Brendon experiences the pain of young love when he tries to woo a young ballerina as well as dealing with his dad and his new fiancee.  Paula loses her job teaching adult education classes and embarks on a bizarre trek back into the workforce, while McGuirk is…well, McGuirk.  Which is more than enough, I assure you.  This season has two of my favorite episodes (The Party and The Wedding), both of which showcase nearly every member of Home Movie’s extended cast.  In The Party, Bredon is coerced into making a tribute film for Fenton, a whiney brat whose Robert Altman-esque birthday party enables Jason to endulge in his goofy addiction to candy, while McGuirk crashes the party with two six-packs of beer only to become both the entertainment and the voice of parental reason.  In the season finale The Wedding, Brendon’s poison ivy infection turns him into a hideous monster while Paula tries to cope with her ex-husband re-marrying.  And yet again, McGuirk steals the show when one of Paula’s friends makes some serious advances on the completely cluess soccer coach. 

It’s difficult to convey how brilliant this show is in text, as it’s genius lies in the improvised dialogue between the characters.  They talk over each other, thoughts are paused and dropped, and every conversation feels like you’re listening to real (if incredibly goofy) people talking about their lives.  It’s a show filled to the brim with inter-character chemistry, and you’ll find the subtle jokes endlessly as entertaining as the overt ones.  Say for instance in The Party, when 9 year old Jason is deep in the throes of a candy bender and responds to Melissa’s admonsihment with ‘No one’s looking at me! They’re looking at you and your litle rich bitch dress!’  It’s such a perfect take on grown-up addiction, and coming from a chocolate and gummi bear covered kid, it’s jawdroppingly funny.

Quite simply, Home Movies has long been one of my favorite animated series (or even in general), and I’m delighted that these sets might give the show the kind of exposure it truly deserves. It’s smart, touching comedy delivered with brilliant style, so do yourself a favor and give it whirl. Fans will find lots to love on this must-have set, and initiates will discover this is a perfect introduction to a show that’s worthy of your time and money. Go! Go now! Get Home Movies: Season 2. You won’t be disappointed.