Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Hot Issues and Stuff

Old Dogs - 2009 - Dir. Walt Becker
Location: The Comfort of My House

Here's another one of those films I watched because it had to be reviewed. This is one I could have let slide by, but I did have a slight morbid curiosity about the film. Practically every critic in the world had bad things to say and I just wanted to see them for myself. The premise of a man getting his, or any, kids and not knowing what to do is pretty standard. Of course he will be horrible and they won't get along, but soon enough he will grow and learn from the children. Not only was the plot a bit hackneyed, but the way they told it was just not interesting or really that funny. Travolta plays a slick womanizer type, that I just don't buy. He's so freaking silly that I can't imagine women finding it cute for a man in his 40s, although he does have money. Robin Williams is the father of the twins and is in his typical family comedy mode. I know a lot of people don't like Williams, but he's made me laugh in the past - it's just not usually because of his ultra-ADD bits. He has also shown himself to be a great actor in dramatic roles, just watch One Hour Photo.

Full Disclosure: Even though the jokes are lame fart jokes mixed with slapstick I did laugh on two occasions. There is only so much slapstick I can endure without chuckling a little. None of this has anything to do with how unfunny and lame the flick is so don't think I like the movie. The only real good thing I can say is that the 88 minutes go by really fast. That's hardly a ringing endorsement.

Cabin Fever 2: Spring Fever - 2009 - Dir. Ti West (Sorta)
Location: My Couch

This film was pretty much doomed from the get go. It was in the works, in some form or fashion, since the original film's release in 2002. Every time it would get close to shooting something would happen and back on the shelf it would go. Eventually Ti West (The House of the Devil) took the reins and actually managed to shoot the film but it was put back on the shelf for about two years before seeing the light of day. After all of that time the producers and other executives grabbed their knives and cut the hell out of West's work so he tried to get his name taken off to no avail. In multiple interviews he has said this is no longer his film so if you hate it don't blame him and if you love it he had no hand in that. What did I think? Pretty fun flick.

Instead of taking place out in the middle of the woods like the first film this is mostly in a high school that is soon plagued with the same flesh eating virus spread through water. This begs the question, why the hell does it have Cabin in the title? Other than it's an extension of what happened in the original, and a couple characters, there is nothing to do with the cabin at all. In fact, you don't even see it. What you do see are some VERY kickass practical gore/gross-out FX that had me cheering from my couch. Everyone loves practical FX in horror, CG blood is retarded. And the gore isn't the only draw, there's also a bathroom stall blow job by a girl with a sore on her lip! That's the gift that keeps on giving.

What I really didn't care for was the end. All of a sudden things are just kind of over and one secondary plot line is just left hanging involving Winston (Giuseppe Andrews), the partying cop from the first movie. Then we fade to black and go to another secondary plot line/character that makes some sense but just feels way out of place. Still, there is plenty of fun to be had with this flick so I suggest it for the horror fans out there.

Children of Men - 2006 - Dir. Alfonso CuarĂ³n
Location: My Couch

I'm very late to the party. Not sure why it took me so long to see this, when I was looking forward to it in the theater, but it did. Finally I have remedied the situation and I can say that this would definitely make its way to my top films of 2006. In the year 2027 women are infertile and the last baby born was over eighteen years ago. Society has crumbled and London is home to one of the few remaining civilized places on the planet. Theo (Clive Owen) has been tapped by a rouge freedom group to help smuggle a young refuge girl out of the city. This girl is pregnant.

Besides the exciting, interesting and depressing future London there is a great script to go along with it and some exhilarating camera work. The intensity of scenes are enhanced by long takes and inventive camera technology to reach areas not done before. One scene is shot from within a car by a remote camera attached to mechanisms allowing it to spin 360-degrees and move throughout the vehicle. The shot lasts the length of the scene, around four minutes, but that's not even the longest or most effective. Everything about this new world is captivating and the film is truly crafted by a master. If you have not seen it yet then you must rent it or buy it now!

For those of you who have seen Children of Men: You may not know that this is an Italian film from 1983 by director Sergio Martino with a very similar plot called 2019 - After the Fall of New York. In this film society is divided after a nuclear blast and women are left infertile. A man is sent in by the rebellion to rescue the last remaining fertile woman on Earth from her captors. Not only is this very similar, it's also very 80s. Double win!

The Gravedancers - 2006 - Dir. Mike Mendez
Location: The Comfort of My House

I saw this originally as part of the After Dark Horror Fest and it was one of, I think, two of the films that year I really enjoyed. A group of friends gather together for a funeral of another and while drinking in the cemetery late that night come across a paper with a rhyme written on it. They read it aloud, dance around and, of course, unleash evil spirits that will haunt and try to kill them. For a low budget film this brought the big money scares and a great supernatural tale. There are some cool make-up FX used in the film but unfortunately near the end there are some CG FX up to the caliber of a SyFy Channel original movie. At least it's not enough to ruin the film.

Lake of Fire - 2006 - Dir. Tony Kaye
Location: My House

Abortion is a very controversial issue and those people who want to argue their side do so in a very loud and extreme manner. In this doc people on either side of the Pro-Life/Pro-Choice stance are interviewed and have a chance to make their case. People might say the filmmakers pick a side here but I think they are as unbiased as possible. A good chunk of the running time is spent on the nutso religious zealots who take their stance for life to a dark and twisted place. People attack those who work in abortion clinics going so far as to shoot or bomb them, resulting in quite a few deaths. It's hard to show that much about these people and how they think they are just in killing those who perform the procedure, or even work in the office, because that's what "God wants." So the filmmakers do show a bias against the fanatics but can you blame them? Any rational person, regardless of your view on the issue, can see there is something wrong with the group of radicals.

Not all of the Pro-Lifers are insane and some very intelligent members of their stance are interviewed and give a great argument. I wouldn't say they really change my mind on the subject but I can see things from their side a lot easier when they are spoken rationally and not shouted by the same people who hold up "God Hates Fags" signs and cheer for the death of abortion doctors. The filmmakers do not shy away from anything in this documentary which could make it pretty hard to watch for some but is something I appreciate as a viewer. Nothing really hits home your point like actually seeing it for yourself. When they talk about later abortions and how they have to piece the fetal fragments back together post-op to make sure everything is out they show the process. You even sit through the entire process with a woman from walking in the building, to meeting with the doctor, pre-op, the actual procedure and post-op. This is a powerful segment, one that most people will never see and even less of the men out there will know about.

I fully support a woman's right to chose and whether you agree with me or not I feel this documentary is something important for anyone with questions on the subject. There are some disturbing moments but I feel that is nothing compared to the wealth of information you will get.


btsjunkie said...

I'm glad I'm not the only one that thinks CABIN FEVER 2 isn't THAT bad. I was expecting to be in physical pain by the way people described it. Yes, it's bad, but there are some fun elements. Isn't that why we love most 80s horror movies?! (Note: I am NOT comparing CF2 to 80s horror movies... I'm just saying.)

Also, love THE GRAVEDANCERS. Saw it at After Dark Horrorfest and I guess it was poorly soft matted as there was a SUPER obvious boom mike in the entire scene where they are talking in front of fireplace at the funeral. Was glad to see that gone when it hit DVD. Yeah, wonky CGI especially in the climax but an effective little chiller. Have you seen Mendez's THE CONVENT. Love that movie. Wish he would make more.

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