Saturday, December 31, 2011

Capsule Review: Of Gods and Men (2010)

Near the end of Xavier Beauvois' OF GODS AND MEN we witness the nine Monks who we've spent the entirety of the film with breaking from their usual routine of chanting, studying or working to sit together and drink wine while listening to a section from Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake. It's a beautiful, sad moment as emotion fills their faces, the realization that their fate may already have been sealed combining with their intense resilience. The monks have lived in peace within a remote section of Algeria for many years, existing peacefully along the nearby Muslim community, but the rise of terrorist extremists has put them at extreme risk. The film covers their decision to stay despite almost certain death, and the quiet dignity that each man maintains as their faith is tested. Whether they make the right decision isn't made totally clear, but it's filmed in such a calm, dignified way that it's hard not to admire the dedication and devotion of these men, even if misguided. Winner of the Grand Prix at Cannes, it's a deliberately pace and perfectly acted film, and one relaying an unfortunate piece of recent history.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Capsule Review: In the Loop (2009)

Armando Iannucci has been creating hilarious, innovative comedy for decades now in television series' like THE DAY TODAY and I'M ALAN PARTRIDGE, but his most impressive accomplishment has been his uproarious satirical series THE THICK OF IT. The choice to make a feature film adaptation/continuation of the series could have been disastrous, but despite adding a few American names and expanding the scope to cover global tensions (as opposed to the UK-centric focus of the show) the core brilliance - exemplified by Peter Capaldi's hilariously foul-mouthed "enforcer" Malcolm Tucker - is fully intact. In fact, the increased resources make for some of the darkest political comedy this side of DR. STRANGELOVE. The screenplay was rightfully Oscar nominated, but the performers deserve plenty of credit for being able to spit out the wonderful dialogue so convincingly. Hilariously brilliant.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Capsule Review: The Social Network (2010)

The rise (and rise) of a social network impresario could have made for dry and flavorless viewing, but the combination of David Fincher's flashy visuals and Aaron Sorkin's verbal pyrotechnics makes for a consistently engrossing experience. Jesse Eisenberg's portrayal of Facebook creator Mark Zuckerberg is purposely difficult to digest, playing the real-life billionaire as a near autistic obsessive, pushing away even his closest confidants. The rest of the young ensemble is equally impressive, and Fincher uses special FX work (such as in the face swapping of the The Winklevoss twins) to miraculous effect - though sometimes goes a little overboard during the winter scenes. While sometimes tenuously linked to the real life events that inspired it, it plays as the sort of modern morality tale that is almost frighteningly of the moment. Ably assisted by a terrific (and Oscar winning) score by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Reviews/Articles at Daily Grindhouse

Just a brief summary of some of my most recent writing over at Daily Grindhouse.

No-Budget Nightmares - A weekly feature containing both a look at a low-budget feature, as well as interviews with those involved in their creation.

No-Budget Nightmares: The Summer of the Massacre (2006) - Oct 31, 2011

Podcast: Daily Grindhouse Presents – No-Budget Nightmares: The Summer Of The Massacre – Nov 2, 2011

No-Budget Nightmares: Crowbar: The Killings of Wendell Graves (2010) – Nov 7, 2011

No-Budget Nightmares: Interview with Crowbar – The Killings of Wendell Graves director Scott Phillips – Nov 9, 2011

No-Budget Nightmares: Las Vegas Bloodbath (1989) - Nov 14, 2011

Podcast: Daily Grindhouse Presents – No-Budget Nightmares: Las Vegas Bloodbath – Nov 18, 2011

No-Budget Nightmares: Panic Button (2011) – Nov 21, 2011

No-Budget Nightmares – Interview with PANIC BUTTON director Chris Crow – Nov 24, 2011

No-Budget Nightmares: Nightmare Asylum (1992) – Nov 29, 2011

Podcast: Daily Grindhouse Presents – No-Budget Nightmares: Nightmare Asylum – Nov 30, 2011

No-Budget Nightmares – 7 Nights of Darkness (2011) – Dec 5, 2011

No-Budget Nightmares – Interview with 7 Nights Of Darkness director Allen Kellogg – Dec 7, 2011

No-Budget Nightmares – Barely Legal Lesbian Vampires: The Curse of Ed Wood! (1999) – Dec 15, 2011

Podcast: Daily Grindhouse Presents – No-Budget Nightmares: Barely Legal Lesbian Vampire (1999) – Dec 15, 2011

No-Budget Nightmares – A Fistful of Nightmares (Year in Review) - Dec 21, 2011

Enter The Fist - A weekly feature showcasing some historically important Kung-Fu films

Enter The Fist - Five Fingers of Death (aka King Boxer) (1972)

Enter The Fist - Police Story (1985)

Enter The Fist – The Shaolin Temple (1982)

Enter The Fist – The Kid with the Golden Arm (1979)

Enter The Fist – The Dragon Lives Again (1977)

Enter The Fist – Legendary Weapons of China (1982)