Thursday, January 28, 2010

A Few Laughs, A Few Deaths

Homebodies - 1974 - Dir: Larry Yust
Location: The Comfort of My House

What a better film to follow up my viewing of the great senior citizen centric documentary Young @ Heart then this flick concerning the elderly. A week before Christmas I was working on a shoot at an old folks home and tweeted about how depressing they are. I agree with my mom when she says she'd rather die then be put in one of those. Micah told me that I should watch this film because it might interest me and my thoughts on the home.

An area with tenement buildings full of old people has been sold and set for gentrification. Most of the buildings have been cleared but they are having a tough time with the last of old folks. They don't want to leave their home and will do anything to stay there. By anything I of course mean killing. No one would suspect these sweet, but strange, elderly people of such horrible things but they are serious about their independence.

While the film may be a horror-like tale, it really has an overall tone of dark comedy. The lengths to which these people go to keep their homes are a bit too far, but it shows their persistence to not be cast aside because of their age. The performances are rather good, especially in the case of a couple of the women. One of them sits and watches the construction crew as they work on one of the new skyscrapers, and another lady still talks to her husband at the dinner table though he is not there.

I was not too sure what to expect with this film but really enjoyed the ride. I hope I never get to the point where I have to kill to stay out of a convalescence home, but I really don't want to go.

Good luck finding this one, there is no DVD release as of yet.

Extract - 2009 - Dir: Mike Judge
Location: The Comfort of My House

Here's one of many movies I will say that I missed in theaters. Some films don't stay in theaters long enough to get to, and other times it's a money thing. Either way that's the glory of DVD. I have loved Mike Judge for quite some time now. We didn't have cable when I was younger but I still watched Beavis and Butt-Head at friends' houses and even had them tape it for me. Of course, King of the Hill was always great and then came Office Space. What a wonderful, hilarious film that I should not have to tell you about. In fact, if you haven't seen the antics of Milton then you're fired. Judge went on to make Idiocracy in 2006, and while I did enjoy it I wasn't completely sold. Now there is Extract and I place it somewhere between his other two live-action films.

The story concerns a guy, Joel (Jason Bateman) who owns a company that makes extract (duh) and his unhappy, sexless marriage. The temp service sends over a new hot girl named Cindy (Mila Kunis) to work the factory line and she definitely turns a few heads. Looking for a way to justify having an affair with this girl Joel and his buddy (Ben Affleck) come up with the plan to send a gigolo over to his wife, Suzie (Kirsten Wiig), to see if she takes the bait. If she does, he does. Problems arise when Cindy turns out not to be the girl he thought she was and the man-whore he sent to his wife under the guise of a pool boy isn't going exactly as planned.

While this isn't quite to the level of the greatness that is Office Space it's still pretty damn funny. I especially loved David Koechner's part as the very annoying neighbor who can't take a hint. Don't be scared off by Affleck's role. He's not in the film too much and he is great in the role of the bartender friend full of bad ideas. Judge still proves to showcase his life in Texas by naming the ambulance chasing, TV commercial attorney, Joe Adler (played by KISS bassist Gene Simmons), after the North Texas equivalent Jim Adler. It's definitely worth seeing and will probably find its fan base now that it's on DVD, just like this other films.

Grab the Blu-Ray here, or standard def here.

It's Alive - 2008 - Dir: Josef Rusnak
Location: The Comfort of My House

Over 35 years ago a movie was made by this very same title. Yes this is a remake, but one with the blessing of the original writer/director Larry Cohen. In fact he co-wrote the new screenplay. Cohen has had a roller coaster career filled with some gems like Maniac Cop (1988) and The Stuff from 1985. But he's had plenty of down points like 1997's Uncle Sam (which I really should re-watch since I didn't realize William Lustig was the director). This remake is definitely in the latter category.

This story about a woman who gives birth but the baby is anything but normal. The bloodthirsty little tyke goes on a killing spree and craves blood. I haven't watched the original film in quite some time, but I remember it being more about people knowing about the killer baby and they try to capture and/or kill it, but here no one knows. There really are no big scares here and some of the FX and death scenes are downright comical. Like seeing a little baby's arm punching through the back of someone's head.

Maybe I'm just a little ruined because of Paul Solet's debut feature Grace (2009), where a mother has to protect her blood drinking baby. His film really manages to do this horror sub-genre of killer babies justice in every way possible. Watch it instead.

The Invention of Lying - 2009 - Dir: Ricky Gervais & Matthew Robinson
Location: The Comfort of My House

I do love me some Ricky Gervais. The original UK version of The Office is such a wonderful blend of squirming discomfort and headache inducing bouts of laughter. His recent stand-up special for HBO, Ricky Gervais - Out of England, had tears streaming down my face. When I saw he was going to be writing and directing a feature film I was beyond excited. Then I began to hear bad things. The premise sounds so promising. In a world where no one can lie Mark Bellison (Gervais) becomes the first to fib. The comedy practically writes itself, but the reviews were pretty bad. Because of this I stayed away from the theater and waited until it hit DVD.

The film is funny, especially in certain spots, but it's pretty average over all. Since people cannot lie this means they cannot tell white lies, sugar coat things or engage in flattery, which makes for some great moments. Who wouldn't love to arrive early to a date and have the woman profess her anger because you have interrupted her masturbating? Gervais has some great awkward moments where he seems to be in his comfort zone and those scenes really work. The bad thing is if we just watched those it would not really be feature length. I do really love that Mark is a screenwriter for Lecture Films, a company that rights out history and have readers sitting in a chair telling the tale. Fiction is a form of lying so there is none.

Gervais is a pretty open atheist and a large part of the movie has to do with him telling people about the "man in the sky." I really couldn't believe a major studio like Warner Bros. wanted to get behind a PG-13 comedy that tells middle America no one believes in God because he was made up in a book. I wonder if this hurt ticket sales or if they had any fights over the final cut. Of course, I am not bothered by this at all but I'm sure some people were a little peeved. Kind of makes me laugh at the thought of people walking out on a comedy for that reason.

Snag the Blu-Ray here, or standard DVD here and see for yourself.


Stefan said...

To say I hated The Invention of Lying is an understatement. For all the talent involved, it was so unfunny. I also hate the conceit in these films, also seen in Liar, Liar, there is a difference between telling the truth and saying every stupid thought in your head the moment you have them. The world Gervais created has people that can't but can manipulate people, how is that possible?

It's Alive and Grace are pretty much the same movie and I could pass on both. Didn't really enjoy either.

Extract is easily the worst of Mike Judge's films. Total pass.

Hombodies looks interesting. I'll have to track a copy down.

Damon said...

Wow! You really do hate everything. ;)

I thought Extract was better than Idiocracy overall. Nowhere near as great as Office Space though.

Grace was greatness, you're crazy.

Invention of Lying had A LOT of plot holes and I too didn't understand why people have to blurt out everything, why they don't just shut their mouth. It did have some funny moments. I enjoyed the whole Pizza Hut tablet scene and the cameo by Christopher Guest.

btsjunkie said...

I think I'm the only one in the world that does not like OFFICE SPACE. Granted I have only seen it once, but the constant references to it have done nothing to make me like it better since.

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