It can sometimes be fun to check out a film that you know to be obscure. When Super Hero Party Clown showed up on Hulu’s new films page several months back, I added it to my queue noting that it sounded reasonably interesting. I also noted that it was virtually unwatched on IMDb (as of this writing it has a whopping 20 votes on it, counting my own), and was not yet on Letterboxd at all. Produced in the late 2000s, it made a few appearances at film festivals and was eventually released direct to video in 2012, when it apparently flew under virtually everybody’s radar.
Being a freshman effort for writer-director Jeremy M. Inman and an independent film to boot, it’s perhaps unsurprising that more people haven’t heard of it. And it’s not a film that is going to appeal to everybody. But it has a certain charm to it that warrants some attention from at least a certain segment of the population, specifically comic book fans who have the ability to poke some fun at themselves. Continue reading →
Renaissance is one of those films that seems to have flown under most peoples’ radar; it only flew onto mine through being one of those films that gets released on a cheap bundle disc with another film I was interested in seeing (Equilibrium, reviewed here). But once I was aware of it, I felt it was a film that I needed to check out, and not just because it was now in my DVD collection. The film is an animated movie directed by Christian Volckman, produced in France and released in 2006. It’s an animated film, with a noir-ish plot description, set a half century into the future, and it’s one of an increasing number of animated films that aren’t aimed at children. Additionally, Daniel Craig, one of today’s undisputed action stars, provides the voice for the lead character in the English dub.
But what drew it to me the most is that it has a very distinct visual style. Continue reading →
The Star Trek movies that I’ve seen have mostly been like the Star Trek episodes in one key respect: they each tell a complete story, in and of themselves. While there is a sense of ongoing continuity between them, they stand on their own without relying on previous installments. Indeed, I watched Star Trek IV long before seeing any of the others, and enjoyed and understood it without difficulty (though I plan on revisiting it to see it in its “proper place”).
Star Trek III: The Search For Spock, however, is a bit of an exception, in that it’s a direct follow-up to the previous film, The Wrath of Khan. It starts where that film leaves off, and while I’ll refrain from saying too much on that front for anybody who has managed to avoid both that film and spoilers thereof, the nature of the plot is obvious from the title. Spock has been lost, separated from the rest of the crew of the Enterprise, and they must embark on a quest to find him. Continue reading →
For today, I have another slew of short films to review. This time I’m tackling five of them at once, largely because a few of them are particularly short — though no less notable for that. There are two live-action comedies, two animated comedies, and one animated abstract piece. All but one are in black and white, and only one could truly be said to be a “talkie” — though one does have sound effects. Most are from the 1920s, but there’s one from 1913 and one from 1944.
Fatty Joins the Force
The Case of the Screaming Bishop
Reviews shall be in chronological order. Read through, there’s apt to be something that’ll catch your interest. Continue reading →
As a movie reviewer, there are few things more galling than to have to admit that, having watched a film, you didn’t entirely get it. That you could see something of merit there, but that it didn’t speak to you — and that at least part of the reason has to do with you as much as the film itself. This is particularly galling when it’s a film that has received some significant critical acclaim. In the case of the 1969 French-language film Z, that acclaim came in the form of a Best Foreign Language Film win and a Best Picture nomination at the Oscars.
The film was directed by Greek-born director Costa-Gravas, and is a thinly-veiled satirical attack on the military dictatorship of his native Greece and how they handled — and orchestrated — the assassination of a left-wing political figure in 1963. Costa-Gravas makes no bones about the point he’s making in the film. Continue reading →
There are certain times when you watch a film and aren’t quite sure what you’re watching, or what you watched when you’re through with it. Watching Stingray Sam provides one such experience. Its IMDb page genre listing describes it as a comedy musical sci-fi western, and this is as good a description as any, yet manages to fall short of illuminating the full oddness of this little picture. An independent film released in 2009 “on screens of all sizes” — the internet equivalent of direct-to-video, one supposes — Stingray Sam was written and directed by Cory McAbee, who also stars in the title role.
The film is at once a product of the modern era and an homage to the early days of film. It’s filled with post-modern humor, some of which works and some of which doesn’t (though a 50/50 ratio would be well above par for that type of humor). But it is presented as if it were a movie serial, similar to the old Flash Gordon stories; appropriately, its main character is a cowboy-like protagonist adventuring in the distant future. Continue reading →
Let it be known: I am something of a metalhead. And not just any old sort of metalhead, but a long-haired metalhead. I grew up in the 80s, and while my musical tastes absolutely include a lot of classic rock — as the term was defined then — there’s a big chunk of metal in my CD collection. Most of it’s a particular kind of metal. 80s metal. Hair metal. You tell me a film includes songs by Poison, Def Leppard, Twisted Sister and Scorpions, and at the very least, I’m ready to listen to the soundtrack.
Rock of Ages, released in 2012, is a film adaptation of a Broadway musical set to the hair metal, arena rock, and glam rock of the 1980s. It’s also set in 1987, and is about the hard rock scene. So I was predisposed to like it. But I have to say the film is more White Lion than Whitesnake. Continue reading →
When creating a new film based off a familiar folk tale, it’s important to put one’s own stamp on it. This is particularly true if there’s already a supremely famous film based on the tale, as with “Snow White”. And it’s even more true if Hollywood’s habit of dueling movies leads to there being more than one movie on the same story being released within months of each other. This was the situation in 2012, with Mirror, Mirror dueling it out with Snow White and the Huntsman. While the former was overtly a comedic take on the story, Snow White and the Huntsman took a darker and ostensibly more serious tone.
Starring Kristen Stewart and Chris Hemsworth in the title roles, Snow White and the Huntsman is a modern fantasy-adventure movie. It’s a valid way to approach the source material, and a method that could easily produce a great film. Unfortunately, this is merely a mediocre one. Continue reading →
Maybe I’ve seen too many of Charlie Chaplin’s short films already, or maybe just too many of them in the relatively brief span of time I’ve been writing on this blog. On a technical level, they are all very well done. But from a story standpoint, there’s a certain “sameness” to all of them. Granted, it’s difficult to fit a complex narrative structure and deep characterization into twenty minutes. But it seems we can always count on Charlie playing a cheerful bumbler (sometimes explicitly as the Little Tramp, and sometimes just as a similar character), dealing with a few loutish oafs, and charming a winsome girl played by Edna Purviance.
The Rink, a Mutual Films short made in 1916, is no exception. But it’s still worth a look due to showing off Chaplin’s roller-skating ability. Continue reading →
A short while back, I confessed that I could only recall ever having watched one documentary feature, The Decline of Western Civilization Part II: The Metal Years. My fellow movie bloggers duly chastised me and suggested I remedy the situation. Being a relative novice to the genre of documentaries, and still mostly looking to be entertained rather than merely informed, I naturally gravitated to a documentary with a similar subject, Wolfgang Büld’s Women in Rock. Of course, as it falls short of feature length, I suppose I still have only seen one documentary feature, but I hope I still get credit for trying.
Women in Rock was produced in 1980, and is a companion piece to a pair of documentaries that Büld produced regarding the punk scene in England. This film, however, is set in Büld’s native West Germany, though most of the performers are British. The film opens and finishes with performances by German Nina Hagen, and features performances and brief interviews with Siouxsie and the Banshees, Girlschool, Mania D., and the Slits. Continue reading →