August 2005

The Corpse Bride New Site

by December Lambeth on August 26, 2005

in Film News & Trailers

Tim Burton’s new adventure, The Corpse Bride , with Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter releases this September 23rd, but for those of you who are anxious to see an early preview then check out the new flash site. 

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A Valiant Effort at Mediocrity

by Alan Rapp on August 19, 2005

in Movie Reviews 

Do you have an obsession with how pigeons were used during World War II?  Yeah, me neither.  Valiant is a fine little film for senior citizens who like animated features with talking birds; unless that’s you you’d probably do better with a Disney straight to video release.

Valiant
2 Stars

As the credits rolled I wondered, not for the first time, who exactly this film was made for.  It seems odd to think that Disney designed an animated feature specifically with senior citizens in mind, seeing how catering to such a small niche market doesn’t exactly mesh with the conglomerate that bought ABC and opened Euro-Disney.  This would be a good film for grandparents who lived during WWII to take their grandchildren to and talk about afterwards; sadly the rest of us will end up feeling more than a little bored.

A War Movie For Kids?  Disney Style???

The year is 1944 and pigeons are being used to relay vital messages from the Allied Command to the forces deployed in the field.  The Axis Powers have deployed hawks to capture the pigeons led by Von Talon (Tim Curry).  Valiant (Ewan McGregor) is a young undersized pigeon who feels the need to serve his country and enlists.  His platoon contains the “John Canyesque” Bugsy (Rick Gervais), the nerdy Lofty (Pip Torrens), and the musclebrain twins Tailfeather (Dan Roberts) and Toughwood (Brian Lonsdale).  Our heroes are trained and sent of with the heroic Gutsy (Hugh Laurie) on their first mission to deliver messages vital to the war effort.

The scenes of the training are much what you’d expect from a Disney version of movies like Stripes.  Not much new or of any interest; pigeon and hawk alike are stockpile characters stolen from other flicks.  The hawks themselves are fine, but they aren’t given the menace of previous Disney villains.  Instead they are used more for comic relief, especially Talon’s two helpers (Michael Schlingmann and Rik Mayall), which makes taking them seriously as a threat is almost impossible.  Even when Valiant and his comrades are put into what should be dangerous situations we never really feel they are in any serious danger.  It’s bad when you end up rooting for the Nazis, but we simply don’t care whether these characters live or die and I will admit after an hour of this tedious story I was gleefully hoping for a hawk to make himself a pigeon sandwich.

The movie starts out promising with a British pigeon black and white propaganda film and the capture of Mercury (John Cleese).  Cleese has some of the films best lines as a P.O.W. captured and interrogated by the hawks.  Too bad his part is so small; his wit could have been used in other scenes.  The story keeps you vaguely interested as it seems to promise better things to come.  We are shown several moments where we expect the film to takeoff and fly, but this bird never really gets off the ground.

 

It seems odd that this was released in theaters; it has the feel of recent Disney straight to video releases.  The movie just never reaches the level you would expect from a Disney film.  While I applaud the studio for making a different type of animated feature, the result is less than what one would have hoped for.  Most younger children aren’t going to get the gist of the film without detailed explanation, adolescents will avoid it like the plague, and most adults under sixty will be bored out of their minds.  Sadly, it was made about four decades too late to have any cultural interest other than in Britain, where I expect it will find some modest success.  Although not terrible, I can’t think such a mediocre movie was what such a great cast was assembled to produce.  Too bad a group of actors like this was wasted on this turkey.

Frank Miller’s Sin City

by Alan Rapp on August 19, 2005

in DVD Reviews 

  • Title: Sin City
  • IMDB: link

Walk down the right back alley in Sin City, and you can find anything…

It might seem strange to call a movie as violent and bloody as Sin City beautiful but no other word quite fits.  After all the movie vividly contains decapitation, canibalism, castration, severed limbs, truckloads of guns and explosions, and blood in all different shades and colors.  It’s a film noir overflowing with deceit, treachery, torture, murder and death.  Yet somehow this is all captured as originally drawn by Frank Miller and transferred so lovingly onto screen that one can not help but sit back with wonder and appreciation.  Beautiful?  ‘Bet your ass!

The plot of the film blends three main stories, with one or two small ones,  compiled from Frank Miller’s successful Sin City graphic novels.  We get three hardboiled protagonists in the sinful setting of Basin City. 

Hardigan (Bruce Willis) is one honest cop in a city owned by the crooks.  On his last day on the job he saves 11 year old skinny little Nancy Callahan (played as an adult by Jessica Alba) from a senator’s demented son (Nick Stahl) only to be shot by his partner and put in prison for Junior’s crimes. 

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The grand daddy of all wise guy films.
Stick and move, Bobby, stick and move.

Robert DeNiro bobs, weaves, curses, spits and earns a Best Actor Oscar in Martin Scorsese’s “Raging Bull”, playing prizefighter Jake La Motta.
Released in 1980, it’s a brutal and beautiful film that probably wouldn’t get past the pitch stage today let alone be filmed. I can just see Scorsese at the lunch meeting, on the edge of his chair and spilling salad all over the table: “This guy was middleweight champ in ’49. Sure, no one outside The Bronx has heard of him, but he knocked Sugar Ray Robinson on his ass! We’ll shoot it in black and white. Every other word will be diry, and Joe Pesci…Who’s Joe Pesci?! So, he’s an unknown NOW, but you just wait…He’ll say, ‘Yo’ mutha sucks fuckin’ BIG fuckin’ ELEPHANT DICKS!'”
Yet it was made. And even more unbelievably it was nominated for Best Picture. But that isn’t saying much considering the Academy gave the award to “Ordinary People”.
The 2 disc collector’s edition is essential for anyone who loves “GoodFellas” and “The Sopranos” because this is the granddaddy of all modern day wiseguy films and your girlfriend will fall asleep halfway through it. In addition to mini-documentaries on the making of the film, the special features include the theatrical trailer, which, at the time, was like no other trailer I’d ever seen. In fact, I went to see the film when it was released on the strength of the trailer. There was no cheesy narration, just a few scenes with dialogue followed by images of the film set to the opening Intermezzo. I forgot what movie my girlfriend and I went to see when I first saw the trailer (I think it was ‘Ordinary People’), but after it was over, there were none of the usual murmurs from the crowd, just silence. A few people looked at each other, as if saying, “What the hell was THAT!?!?!”
I saw the film at least twenty times after it was released. It was a mesmerizing roller-coaster ride, rising with the ferocious fight scenes, both in the ring at at home, levelling out with Michael Chapman’s beautifully shot slow motion images, and sinking to the gritty and just downright depressing end of La Motta’s fight career, where it blurs to his stint as a nightclub owner and entertainer and his second term in prison. Sure, the film was famous for De Niro’s gaining fifty pounds to play La Motta in retirement, but it’s the sinewy, hunched over, stick and move, stick and move De Niro that stands out after all these years. (Here’s what I think is a sad comment on De Niro’s career: I was at Blockbuster recently and two college women were browsing through Drama and one of them commented: “I just can’t see Robert De Niro as a bad guy.”)
So buy, rent or steal this collector’s edition and watch Joe Pesci become a star, watch De Niro play tony Soprano years before that character was even a gleam in David Chase’s eye, and try to figure out where you’ve seen that guy who plays Mob Boss Tommy Como…
It’s ‘Coach’ in the TV Sitcom “Cheers”.

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Primo Disgustingo

by Tim Dodd on August 18, 2005

in Uncategorized

Hit your man over the head and EAT A HAMBURGER!!!

Vittorio bathes his reptilian spawn

What a sick movie.
That’s pretty much all I could think of while watching Strand Releasing’s newest piece of European DVD trash that provides its viewers with many of those primal exploitation elements we all know and love but offers them in a way that is, to quote one of my favorite Stooges songs, NO FUN.
This latest bit of cinematic excrement is Matteo Garrone’s Primo Amore, a film that somehow tries to romanticize extreme control, sick psychological problems, dangerous eating disorders, and emotional violence. Sure, the film’s press release claims that it is “a cautionary tale,” but after watching it I’m pretty convinced that this movie exists just to titillate some sick suckers out there who love to see nude ladies romping around with their ribs poking out from under their pasty white emaciated skin.
The plot of this wacky film is the kind that makes me want to seal all the windows, turn on the gas, and watch The Cosby Show until my eyes grow heavy with peaceful, eternal sleep. It goes a little somethin’ like this: Vittorio (Vitaliano Trevisan) is a bald, older guy who meets young, pretty Sonia (Michela Cescon) through a personal ad and immediately tells her that she’s fat. Desperate for love and companionship, Sonia begins a relationship with Vittorio, who immediately starts controlling her by making her go on a diet.
Sonia isn’t fat in the least, but Vittorio has some screws loose in his big melon head and he apparently wants her to be like all of the pasty white toothpick women who entertain us in many excellent movies and television shows. Sonia gets sucked into the whole deal, happily restricting her intake of food and charting her progress/decline on a chart. Well, a few pounds isn’t enough for Vittorio, and as he makes her lose more and more weight, both go totally insane and their already unhealthy relationship becomes positively diabolical.
I’m at times a “glass half full” kinda guy, so I’ll give you a few positives on this dungheap. The acting is good, the dialogue is competently written, and there are some striking images found throughout the film. Sonia’s transformation from normal to ultra-thin is convincingly executed and I give mad props to Michela Cescon for going on whatever extreme diet she had to go on in order to make this change. But honey, was it all really worth it?
My main problem with this movie is that it’s just not very believable that the young, attractive Sonia would go through all of this for Vittorio, who’s dull, lacks charisma, and is actually a dick. I know that many women get themselves into abusive relationships that they can’t pull themselves out of, so perhaps my view is naive. Still, it just doesn’t make a lot of sense. The press release states that it is based on a true story, so I guess that the truth really is stranger than fiction… and it’s also proof that the truth doesn’t necessarily make for a good movie.
So you wanna make a movie about obsessive love that serves as a cautionary tale? Make a self-help video, not a feature film that passes itself as entertainment. However, if you’re the kind of person that sees the words “Obsessive Love, Sexual Fixation, Dieting to the Extreme!” and goes “Wow! That’s exactly what I need!”, then by all means, go rent Primo Amore. Just keep your sick-shit-lovin’ ass the hell away from me.
Please.

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