Thursday, June 3, 2010

Triple L

Nothing - 2003 - Dir. Vincenzo Natali
Location: My Couch

And thus begins my mini Vincenzo Natali marathon. I call it mini because out of his four features I watched three of them. He still has one other movie I have yet to see, but I'll get around to it soon. This film in particular I've had in my possession for probably about four years now. Yes, my friend Stefan lent this to me and since then he has moved to Sweden and it has just collected dust on my shelf. When I knew I was going to be seeing his new film (next post) and interviewing him I really wanted to go ahead and watch it. The story concerns two best friends who care not for the world outside their home. Both are in a very bad place and they wish hard for everything to disappear. That's when they realize they have the power to make the world go away and now it's just the two of them in their house surrounded by nothing. A bright white nothing. Most of the film is just these two guys, Andrew Miller and Natali staple David Hewlitt, talking and exploring their odd lives. The concept is very interesting but it does feel a little slow in parts making me think it might work better as a short. Still you have to commend Natali for making such a character driven piece with such a small cast.

I also recognize that had I not watched Sam Rockwell's amazing performance in Moon the night before I might have enjoyed this more. Both of the films have similarities with a couple of characters mostly talking for an hour and a half, so it's hard not to compare them. Still worth a watch.

Splice - 2010 - Dir. Vincenzo Natali
Location: Theater - Studio Movie Grill - Dallas
Early Screening

While not a perfect film I really did enjoy this. Even more because of how realistic the science is behind it all. You can read my review HERE at Pop Syndicate.

You can also find my interview with director Vincenzo Natali HERE.

Cube - 1997 - Dir. Vincenzo Natali
Location: My House

After I got home from Splice I just had to revisit his breakout hit. It had been many, many years since I had seen this but this low budget sci-fi flick was every bit as great as I remember. The story sounds a bit Sawish but this was made quite a few years before James Wan made the now yearly torture flick. A group of strangers wake up in an empty cube room with ornate designs and doors on each of the six walls. They can go through them but some of the rooms are booby trapped with different devices which leave the inhabitants dead. Now they travel through the structure from room to room trying to find a way out and recognize the pattern within it.

Such a simple location, with one room constructed, only the lighting colors change. There is nothing really flashy about the film but for a sci-fi/horror picture it has what many don't have - engrossing characters. The whole story is about these people making their journey and you really care about every decision made. I was shocked that even though I knew the outcome I was still so invested in the film. It affected me as much as it did when I was blown away in the shitty apartment I lived in when I rented it as a first run VHS in the late 90s. I told this to Natali after our interview and he seemed genuinely touched that I like his film so much. He's a great guy and a talented director.

If you have not see Cube you are doing yourself a giant disservice.

#216 & 217
Snake Eater - 1989 - Dir. George Erschbamer
Snake Eater III: His Law - 1992 - Dir. George Erschbamer
Location: Micah's House
Lorenzo Lamas

Out of Micah's great VHS haul this year he had a curious tape of Snake Eater II. This was his introduction to Mr. Lorenzo Lamas. I had a father who loved Lamas, especially his TV show Renegade, so I was exposed to the man from early on. Glad to hear that he was now hooked on LL and was thirsty for more.

Thus was born the Lorenzo Lamas Legion!
(cue trumpet fanfare)

During a bye week for Horror Movie Night we decided to make it a Lamas double feature, and after the success there are many more to come. I've actually already been toying with the pairings in the man's filmography. I can't wait for the shark double feature. Anyway, we decided to start with the first in this awesome action packed trilogy. Lamas plays Soldier, aka Jack Kelly, who is a rather unorthodox cop with a penchant for booby traps. After his suspension from the force for taking things too far he finds out his parents were killed and his sister is missing. Off he goes on his motorcycle to find the bastards behind it which turn out to be crazy rednecks. Along the way he meets his love interest The Kid and King, who dismantles Jack's bike and makes a chopper/boat hybrid. What a thing to wake up to. After a brief fit over it he soon thanks him for everything. I guess ruining his mode of transportation is no biggie.

The second film we watched was the last installment. Even though only Micah had seen the middle flick he says we didn't miss anything as far as a connecting storyline. In fact all three seem to be completely different tonally. Part 3 had more to do with bikers who kidnapped, drugged and raped a woman that Soldier/Jack is hired to find after his, surprise, suspension from the force. This time he teams up with a guy named Cowboy and the explosions and awesome flow as freely as his arms move in his sleeveless wardrobe. Highlight of the film was the very prim and proper mother of the victim who says, "raging case of gonorrhea."

I really dug the hell out of both films and can't wait to watch the second film to complete the collection. Be prepared for more Lorenzo Lamas Legion action in the weeks to come.

Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves - 1991 - Dir. Kevin Reynolds
Location: Theater - Alamo Drafthouse Ritz
Master Pancake Theater

Since Jenny and I were already going to be in Austin we decided to check this show out where they do live riffing, much like Mystery Science Theater 3000, on different films. It was also nice to have Mary Jo Pehl from MST3K as a special guest joining in on the fun. This was so much freaking fun and my head and face hurt from laughing so much. These dudes know what they're doing and I can't wait to go down for another show in the future. I hear the holiday show is something spectacular.

UHF - 1989 - Dir. Jay Levey
Location: Theater - Paramount (Austin)

Jenny and I celebrated our three year anniversary back at the end of March but after hearing Weird Al Yankovic was coming to Austin for a special screening of his film and would be doing a Q&A we knew this would be a fun thing to do for the celebration. Even though the seats aren't too comfortable at the Paramount and our seats weren't too great (though they were better than I feared) we had a blast! I remember in the video store where I used to work, and long before I worked there, the catalog rentals were $1.99 (I think for five days) but there were certain films that I guess the owner didn't feel people would pay full price for. These damned titles only cost a mere $0.49 for the same amount of time. I remember a few different flicks but the one I rented the most was UHF. It was great to see this on the big screen with a fun audience, have a Weird Al sing-a-long and hang out with some friends (like BTSjunkie and lola0813). After we partied at The Highball where I we met up with more friends, Brian and Rachel Roberts, and I ate a delicious Twinkie Wiener Sandwich. Aside from a pretty lame Q&A with some VERY embarrassing questions, it was a wonderful experience.

Bukowski: Born Into This - 2003 - Dir. John Dullaghan
Location: My House

This is a documentary about the great poet and author Charles Bukowski. If you haven't read much by the man this is a great introduction to work, but even the most verbose fan will enjoy seeing footage of the late great. Highly recommended.

Necronomicon - 1993 - Dir. Brian Yuzna, Christophe Gans & Shusuke Kaneko
Location: Micah's House
Horror Movie Night

I'm a huge fan of H.P. Lovecraft's writings, but for some reason never say this anthology film based on his work. The three stories told are versions of the short stories "The Rats in the Walls," "Cool Air" and "The Whisperer in the Darkness." Now it's been a while since I've read those particular pieces but I can say with some authority that the filmmakers took quite some liberty with their versions. As with all anthology horror flicks there is a wraparound story and here it involves actor Jeffrey Combs playing Howard Phillips Lovecraft as he sneaks into a secret area of the library to read from the Necronomicon for inspiration and reference. This is a fun film with some pretty gnarly FX work. My one gripe is that I think they could've found someone who looks a little more like Lovecraft for the role. Combs is a great actor, and he looks scarily like Edgar Allan Poe now that he has played him on stage and screen, but with the prosthetics he looks more like Bruce Campbell. I think they should have gotten Paul Benedict, from The Jeffersons among many other things, because he naturally looks more like the author. What do you think?

(L to R: Combs, HP Lovecraft, Benedict)

Sweet Sugar - 1972 - Dir. Michel Levesque
Location: Micah's House
Weird Wednesday

Ah women in prison films, how I love thee. This particular film didn't have any girls in it that I really knew but the gorgeous Phyllis Davis won me over right away. A bunch of women are taken to a work camp where they server their sentence by chopping sugar cane. The real problem comes when the sinister Dr. John starts performing cruel and torturing experiments on the prisoners.

This film is sexy, funny, crazy and sexy. Of all the great moments I must leave you with this one involving cats. I'm sure you'll want to watch the film after seeing this, and I don't blame you.