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All reviews - DVDs (113)

wash away

Posted : 8 years, 11 months ago on 3 July 2009 05:40 (A review of Tekkon Kinkreet)

tekkonkinkreet (aka black and white) is based on taiyo matsumoto's manga of the same name. and really it is much like watching the manga come to life. they've followed it closely and captured much of the feel of it.

i tend to hate when movies are dubbed since they often butcher the inflections, so i watch them in the original language with subtitles. this can admittedly be difficult with this movie. it moves quickly and is very much about the somewhat random washy underground life. ultimately what feels really confusing at first gives way to a better understanding and is still entirely worth viewing this way. i have yet to watch it dubbed so i couldn't comment on how well that is done or if its better seen that way (in rare instances dubbed turns out to be better).

the story is about two homeless orphans who rule their city by force. they get into scrapes with yakuza and others. a businessman plans to turn their city into an amusement park which they aren't fond of (neither is the main yakuza). a rather evil man is hired to 'clean up' the city to oust the unwanted problems so the project can move forward, which ultimately means killing black and white. his machine like strong men set out to kill them.
its hard to how all this goes down. its not the most on track sort've story. there are a number of intertwined stories and other happenings which make up much of what happens. which could seem confused as far as a script is concerned, but honestly it just feels more like life happening when matsumoto writes it. in the end white and black are seperated and black begins to go insane (or rather he begins to turn evil), how he is saved is linked to his counter part; the innocence of white who is mentally deficient. its a story about two kids against the big bad city. complex, touching, and profound.

this will not likely be a favorite of most people (and like most books turned into movies, the book is better), but there is a lot to love and appreciate from this film. a great story, wild and unusual animation, and fun music (by plaid). theres really nothing else that looks like this. especially unusual is the watercolor like scenes representing white's dreams and at the end are used when black starts to turn bad. those scenes are wildly unusual and distorted. its amazing work.

for me at least this is one of the best animated films i've seen. its a cross between the beauty of a animation like grave of the fireflies, a violent film like kill bill (or something...), moments of trippy psychedelic ecstatic bliss, and a lazy wash like lost in translation. a bit like wong kar wai's chungking express (and fallen angels) as a animated film about two kids.

brilliant, masterful, and a must see.

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Posted : 8 years, 11 months ago on 2 July 2009 07:27 (A review of The Ringer)

a movie about jackass' knoxville fixing the special olympics. its bound to be bad, right? well, its not.

you get the feeling watching this that there was a lot of 'consulting' done with the special olympics foundation and much was done to guide this into a movie that didn't offend anyone. and as it turns out thats a good thing. knoxville in particular comes off looking like a saint (thats a masterpiece of skilled promotion if i've ever seen one). but give all those envolved here credit, they came out of it with a damn fine comedy that doesn't disparage any of the special people. it also gives some of them a moment to shine in a movie and show that they also have acting skills worthy of further adventures. frankly knoxville is the week link in acting in the movie (except perhaps for the overacted uncle).

the plot: knoxville gets promoted but has to fire a janitor whom he puts to work for himself. the janitor, an uninsured illegal immigrant, is injured and now knoxville has to come up with money for his surgury. an uncle who is over his head in debt in gambling cooks up a scheme to have knoxville play 'retarded' and win the special olympics in an upset. along the way theres a love story, but much of the film is about the athletes and knoxville's charactor's growing appreciation of them. you know where its all going from the start, but its worth the trip despite that.

all in all this is a good movie, a good comedy, a nice story, and well worth seeing.

ps. the dvd extras are hit and miss. some of the deleted scenes could've been left in. only a few are truly bad. its good to see more about the special olympics and more of those actors, there could be more to this effect however. the worse of it is the constant patting themselves on the back while name dropping the special olympics involvement. its comes off far more like pandering and self promotion. it was better left without.

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everyone's entitled to one good scare

Posted : 8 years, 11 months ago on 28 June 2009 09:04 (A review of Halloween (Divimax 25th Anniversary Edition) (1978))

1978, over 30 years ago now and this movie still holds up and still one of the best.
this is prerequisite viewing for any aspiring horror director.

in an era where horror films are still trying to up the ante with more and more vile depravity, i had some question about whether this could summon the same fears it did when i was a kid. granted there is no way a movie could scare me as much now as it did when i was...shall we say...more innocent. halloween doesn't rely on shock value though. it is a simple plausible murderer who stalks and kills. nothing more, nothing less. michael myers as the kid gone bad has exactly zero lines in the movie; he never says a word, never lets us know why he does it, nor does anyone else give us some psuedo-psycho babble about why he does it. his doctor simply calls him "blank" "expressionless" and "evil". one thing which i had forgotten is that in the movie the beginning starts before he is put away. it shows the original murder. whats surprising about this is that its no blood bath, cringe worth grueling tour of torture; its one simple stabbing murder of his sister shown from his point of view. the movie uses michael's point of view often and one could analyze this effect on us as viewers but ultimately its a direct filming method sort've thing that is simply used very effectively.
in the end halloween's death count is fairly tame by todays standards; micheal only manages to kill 6 or 7 people and 2 dogs and leaves all the main characters alive. he doesn't linger in killing either, almost all the characters are caught and killed in one quick action. the longest death is a choking death in a car, which is quickened with a knife to the neck. we don't even get to see much of micheal; in the first sequence we see him at the end...a little boy in a clown costume. most of the movie shows him as a walking torso length man or an out of clear view standing creeper, head and persona obscured for all but a very few scenes. the longest of which shows him curiously questioning the look of his just killed victum. here its the suggestion of stalking, the drive to kill, and especially the "unknown" which gets under our skin and creates a fear within us.

there are a few 'old school' horror errors which are bothersome. stupid decisions that characters make that are hardly plausible. improbable situations. people who can't seem to ever find a light in a house, nor figure out how to unlock a door. stabbings in the movie have that weird difficult-to-believe angle. a lot of dark scenes with little details (which frankly i prefer to the 'night filtered, day shot' look). none of which detract from the clarity of the vision and the drama of the horror.

pure classic essential of the sort everyone wishes they could make again.

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facinating bad

Posted : 8 years, 12 months ago on 20 June 2009 08:27 (A review of Starcrash)

this is the kind of movie you watch because its bad....really bad...laughably bad.

its a straight up star wars knock off, cheesy enough to make you wonder when its going to devolve into porn sequences. it doesn't, someone must have thought they were making something fairly serious...but blatantly missed the mark.

the dialog, which i assume is dubbed (its hard to tell actually), is awful. the characters spend much of there time describing action that is happening or will happen.

an emperor under attack by an evil lord in a cape. a bounty huntress in...well...very little and her side kick mysterious blonde afro wearin' navigator team up with a robot (a chauvinistic cowboy talking emotionless robot man with a giant helmet) and others and then others to look for 3 lost scouts (or something) and find the only living crew member in a cave of the planet sized weapon of the evil lord with a giant cape (did i mention his hair cut reminds me of princess leia's and his theatrics are very 50's over the top evil wizzard-ish). the navigator turns up in the cave to fight off the cavemen again with his amazing lightsaber!!! and the only surviving member of the crew...the prince of course! blah blah blah...

fight scenes happen throughout the movie. they are mostly random actions of fighting against random groups of people. most of course are against the evil lord's men, but we also get fights with amazons and their giant amazon woman robot, troglodyte cave people, the evil lord's robots, etc. pointless stuff for action's sake. almost all the fight scenes are so pieced together that there's no linear battle...this person shots that person, someone else shoots someone else, that ship fires at some other ship...who knows who's winning or loosing until its announced at the end.

and then they crash a floating planet into the evil lord's ship and the universe is saved!!!

did i mention the prince is david hasselhoff. oh the dreamy set ups for the eventual love scene are so so so just dreamy. stellastar in her skimpy barely there plastic outfits in forces labor scenes, and swimming through full of starkly stars space with bubble helmets, in giant globular disco chairs with huge smiles, frolicking around disco lit space ships. its super italian disco fluff all the way.

its impossible to take any of this seriously. ultimately not impossible to like it though. its 500% campy. if they meant it to be serious, they were way off. its not humorous though, and nothing suggests it was meant to be mocking or funny. its just so abundantly fluffy that its fun. i laughed out loud a number of times...this is a mystery science theater dream. (did they do this one...they should)

impossible to find on dvd or vhs. and not worth paying any decent sum for. honestly if you find it in a used bin for a handful of $, have a laugh with it. otherwise wait till its re-released and sold at a steep discount or as a mystery science theater episode.

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underground cult for real

Posted : 9 years ago on 14 June 2009 06:56 (A review of C.H.U.D.)

theres a lot of films that claim cult status, this is one that earns it. its a dark, gritty, literally underground, 80's, toxic zombie gem that far too few people have seen. sure its not a shocker (the one really 'shock' scene...a bloody shower scene... is the most oddly out of place of the entire movie), and its on the slow side. but it builds to a sound, gory, creepy, the government sucks sort've story. i loved this movie, albeit i'd hesitate to recommend it to most people (its cult and it'll stay cult!!)

some how it reminded me of 'taxi' the tv show. it has that kind of dirty grittiness to it; albeit dirtier and grittier. also it has that kind of build up of a story that we just don't see anymore. it feels like a 70's movie moreso than an 80's movie. you'll care for these characters; good, bad, or otherwise....they represent something that we can believe however fantastic it may be.

homeless people living underground in NY start disappearing. a soup shelter man, a cop, and a photographer uncover the story of cannibalistic toxic zombies caused by waste left under the city. theres a touch of sci-fi to it but ultimately this is straight up toxic zombie zone....and its beautiful to see. great writing, effective special effects, believable characters, nice if grimy scenery, some real scares, some weird wild moments. everything about this movie works. sure it won't live up to today's standards, but it doesn't disappoint either.

this is the only film the director made. a shame really, its good stuff. it also co-stars the goofy lanky bad guy from the "home alone" series.

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if gwar did a zombie movie

Posted : 9 years ago on 12 June 2009 07:46 (A review of Dead Alive)

to say its difficult to explain this movie is an understatement. somewhere between a comedy and an all out cheese gore fest. almost british like dull wry humor but then over the top blood shed.

its a story of a momma's boy, his wicked mother, and a love interest. well sort've. its more convoluted than that of course. the whole movie starts with a 'rat' monkey being captured and taken from its native land. people die immediately from this event. then, the man on his date takes the girl to the zoo where the monkey is on display. the mother sneaks around to spy on them, but ends up bitten by the monkey (here we finally see it and its a claymation sort've thing). she is infected, eventually dies, and comes back as a zombie. the man then can't get rid of her and she begins to infect others whom he also is attempting to keep under wraps at his home. the girlfriend becomes a lost story for a while but comes back in for the inevitable ending. all i can say about the ending is take all the fake blood scenes from every other movie ever made plus all the fake blood from every concert gwar has ever performed and you'll have about half the blood that is poured out in this movie. this is a definite blood bath, but its all done with the kind've humor you'd expect from gwar. wild puppetry, stop motion, makeup gore effects, etc. its a wild ride, if a bit understated in the end. theres really not all that much that is shocking, neither by surprise nor extreme. theres also not that much that is truly funny, just absurd.

its well worth watching once. some will love it, most will likely find it to be bizarre. all will be entertained. its impossible to call this genius, but you'll be hard pressed to find anything like it elsewhere. for that, and all the parts of it being generally good, it gets my vote as a great movie.

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odd comicbook horror

Posted : 9 years ago on 7 June 2009 06:20 (A review of Evil Dead 2 (Book Of The Dead Limited Edition))

no where near as good as the original, evil dead 2 turns horror into a silly comicbook adventure.

the beginning gives us a condensed, and highly revised, version of the original as the opening scenes. from there it turn into elongated scenes of delirium, dementia, and demonic possession. it takes forever for anything to really happen, theres not much for comedy, and the gore is definitely not serious anymore. theres plenty to see in the film and its worth a sit through, but it more or less fills in the holes between the excellent original and the zany army of darkness. this film lives up to neither and is ultimately pretty flat.

still its far from bad and its entertaining enough on its own. when i originally saw these i saw them all in reverse order. i can barely recall it now but as i do upon seeing army of darkness i was excited to see the rest. then seeing evil dead 2, i thought the first would be even more awful and it was a long time before i tracked down a copy of that and saw it. i was glad then when i did. 2 is the week link as most sequels are.

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fun gore

Posted : 9 years ago on 6 June 2009 06:28 (A review of The Evil Dead (Book Of The Dead Limited Edition))

its been a while since i've seen this series. most of what i remember of them comes from 'army of darkness' so watching this again i had forgotten how much of a straight forward horror film this is. theres much less cheesy goofiness to this then there was in 'army'.
basically, if you don't already know, a group of friends go out to a cabin and discover a flesh bound book with and incantation in it that was left by a researcher. his audio recording of the incantation bring the demons up from hell and they begin to possess members of the group. straight forward set up to a straight forward gore movie. still what can be said for this film that lacks a lot in originality is that it stays fun and shocking and gory all the way through. there are no major mistakes. i also had forgotten how generally decent the acting is here. the filming seems to be trying to make some new (for them) attempts which can be strange but ultimately tie in pretty well. about the only really bad thing is the moon which clearly shows a box around it where it wasn't integrated into the background very well at all.

a hell of a lot of fun, still stands up really well today, and i'm looking forward to watching the second one again and eventually 'army' to top it off.

good stuff.

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what is most disgusting is not what you think

Posted : 9 years ago on 3 June 2009 04:58 (A review of Burial Ground: The Nights of Terror)

a basic 70's horror movie.

a scientist/archaeologist of some sort opens up a grave and suddenly zombies poor out from all over inside the cave. no explaination is ever given for this event. before he meets his untimely death immediately upon opening the tomb, he had called a number of...honestly i'm not sure what they were supposed to be; friends, colleges, who knows...to his home. they come and set about having sex here and there which is interrupted by the zombies. which is actually a good thing because i thought for a moment the film was going to turn into bad 70's porn. instead the rest of the movie is a typical zombie movie where the people are trying to survive an invasion of zombies.

these are not you typical zombies though. yes they are abundantly slow and grunt, old school style. but they retain and use at least some intelligence. they organize, they use weapons, and they plan. thats a bit surprising and quite a nice change. especially after you see the rather crude face and hand masks, you don't expect much from them.

there is unfortunately nothing really shocking, scary, nor exciting about the film. a few good gore scenes, a fairly simple plot, and thats about it. the ending isn't exactly typical but not exactly exciting either.

what almost ruins the entire film...and i'm sure it will ruin it for some...is the man who plays one of the couple's kid. he's small enough, but obviously acting younger than he is. the dubbing (on the dvd i have you only have the choice of dubbed) is probably worse than it was originally but the kid's whiny voice is downright annoying. he whines "mommy" so much you definitely take pleasure when he's eaten by a zombie...until he freakin' comes back again (in a slightly less annoying state as a zombie). still, he's aweful. as if it wasn't annoying enough, they add a really stomach turning incestuous oedipus moment that is just beyond disturbing. his mother rejects him but then worse yet, they bring it back at the end and she embraces him. its good for a grotesque moment but it barely watchable for its context. honestly this is one movie i wouldn't mind if someone went back and spliced out the kid subplot from the movie altogether. it's irrelevant and tasteless. i could do without. i gave this movie a lower rating for this alone. its that horrid.

otherwise the movie is fine, nothing great but a zombie fan will enjoy most of it.

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a different zombie tale of sorts

Posted : 9 years ago on 1 June 2009 06:06 (A review of Boy Eats Girl)

the premise of this movie is slightly different and at least different enough to warrant seeing especially if you are a fan of zombie movies.

a bunch of highschool kids falling in love and bullying each other. love triangles. mistaken moments. typical stuff. then a boy who thinks he is scorned is hanged (sort've hangs himself). his mother who happened upon a secret religious text about reincarnation uses the spell to revive her son. but he is revived as a zombie and zany fun killing ensues zombie style. he bites another guy and he another....zombies zombies everywhere! and they the new quick style zombies with a bit of humor. the uninfected fight back and eventually a love story etc.

there an unfortunately blandness to all of this. the gore, the comedy, the drama, the subplots are all lost in a movie that just drags more than it excites. and its a shame. theres nothing distinctly wrong with the film. the acting is ok, the filming ok, the plot decent, the comedy is a bit flat but not bad (like dead and breakfast). it just takes to long to do anything and what it does do isn't enough to revive it. in the end you're left with a decent movie worth a watch but nothing you'll be excited by, moved by, nor anything you'll come back to watch again.

the worse thing about this movie is that it had so much potential and wasn't able to capitalize on it. oh well. give it a viewing its worth one for something different.

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