6/11/19 Tuesday

About Schmidt

      "About Schmidt is about perfect."

      -Leah Rozen, PEOPLE

      A long time ago, before I left for Alaska, I saw this late night movie.  I saw, among other things, a (censored) version of an actress. . . .

      I was intrigued (and no—not just becasue of that :) ;) )—and endeavored to hunt the film down, in the future.  How time flies—I believe it took me, over a DECADE.  Worth the wait, worth the trek.  This is a wonderful film; it asks questions, about what really matters, what one's duty and aims are in all of this—and represents one of the most memorable performances by Jack Nicholson (and not for lack of competition).

      See this film.

The Ballerina

      The movie is credited as the first full-length feature film to be worked on by the film department of Old Dominion University.  That being the case, I look forward to many, many more.  (!) This film is fantastic.  Obviously low-budget (I suspected some scenes were guerilla filmed.), the quality is great.  And the movie is truly scary—and it achieves this, not just in and through the story.  The film portrays–exquisitely–the true horror, of homelessness in America—and draws us, irresistibly, through the main protagonist's inner torment. . . .

      Top marks.


      Sydney Film Festival director Paul Byrnes describes it as:

      "... a key film in the story of Australian movies. It represents a kind of liberation point – a leap away from naturalism and the historical realism of the 'new wave' of the 1970s, towards the modernism of the 1990s. To say it was ahead of its time is an understatement – the boldness of its metaphors and the sharpness of its satire were too much for many people in 1985."

      Um . . . wow. Uh, Bliss is one of those films . . . it's hard to even tell, what it is about—it is hard to even tell, just what the film is even trying to say. . . .

      That said, the film is intriguing, beautiful, terrible, beyond disturbing, borderline transgressive. . . .

      But the ending, is . . . perfect.   :) :) :) :) Make sure you see the entire, uncensored version.  One has to work a little, to find it—but only a little.

       :) :)

Burning Kiss

      A . . . clumsy, I would say, "nod" to Lynch.  A man, shot between the eyes, bent down and tied his shoes." (This seems to be to be an obvious "nod" to "Blue Velvet.")  (Of note, I don't understand—that scene, in Blue Velvet.  If you do, you understand more about the universe, than I do.   :) ;) )

      by gardiner-66990 – See all my reviews

      This is a noir style film about a former detective who searches his dreams for clues to unravelling the mystery of his wife's murder. The movie is filtered through an inferno of hallucinogenic vignettes and set against a distinctively West Aussie backdrop - babes, bitumen, great whites, backyard pools and long hot nights. I loved the way flames and scorching heat are used throughout the film - they're the detective's over-heated insomniac visions, but they're also the lust that brings Max (main suspect for the murder) and Charlotte (detective's daughter) together. But flames and smoke are also used to suggest destruction - of love, memory, lucidity and closure.

      This film is a step away from the ordinary.  While not perhaps "high octane" in quality, [it is] definitely worth seeing.

Deliver Us from Evil

      Scratching, scratching, scratching atmospheric action. . . . This film is a bit "by the numbers," but definitely worth seeing.  Turn the lights down low, and sit with one's back to the wall. . . .

The Devil's Backbone

      One word: Atmosphere.

El Topo

      Um. . . .

Europa Report

      My (younger) brother really didn't like this one (and recently–as of 7/8/2020 Wed-nes-day :) :) –another sci-fi buff, didn't think much of it either)—I, however, thought it was fantastic.  I thought it one of the more realistic depictions of spaceflight, in cinema—and the idea of traveling to Europa, and drilling into her oceans. . . .


      Wow. This movie, and I, have quite a "history."  What the heck—I'm going to share it.  For a very long time, I was pretty . . . fixated, with a certain piece of music.  I remember, as an undergrad, working this dreadful, half frozen job, on a loading dock.  This song came on.  I stood there, and positively revelled in it—but I didn't know what it was called.  Well, the song shows up–and prominently–in this movie.  Suddenly, I realized what I had.  I checked the credits—and then just went "down the hill," to Fred Meyers West (in Fairbanks (!)), and bought a copy.


      The song, of course, is "Where the Streets Have No Name."

      My fixation with the song, has never diminished.

     Panned by critics, and all but ignored by fans. . . . (Of note, the former is not really true anymore.  Funny, how many times, that has happened: Mike has seen a film, gone gaga over it, and then–a decade or two later–mainstream critics, finally come on board. . . .)

       :p ;)

      I absolutely ADORE this film.

Fermat's Room

      Yes—this is a geek's movie . . . but Oh what a geek movie.  (!!)


      The first bits of this, are one of the creepiest ghost stories, you will ever see.  And the ending–if I interpret things correctly–gets into some . . . very shady territory. . . .

      (!! (!!))


      Prior to finding this interesting little gem, I had never even heard of Diane Arbus.  Extraordinary. Thought-provoking. And the scene, of the "freaks," coming down from the ceiling. . . .

      I don't even know how they filmed that—WHERE does on find a "set" like that, or HOW does one build it?  And who thought that up.  (?)

      Something to never forget.  (. . .)


      This back-water one, is quite the gem.  If one is fixated with secret doors (I am), then this might well be the film for you.  And the film is totally new—a totally new take, on the haunted house/ghost story.

The Haunting

      Wow. Wow. Wow. Horror films, tend to be done to death (no pun intended).   :p ;) But this one is something . . . this one, is TOTALLY new—a totally new take, on a haunted house/horror movie.

      (Didn't you just say that, Mike?   :) ;) )


      There is a certain "tone," to Halloween.  I felt it very much as a kid—long before I ever became obsessed with movies.  Although reproduced best, in the opening of "Halloween 4," this movie, does a good job—and all the way through.

      It's also a really good story.  (I saw the pretty much identical plot, in a Japanese movie—can't remember the title of that one, now.  (. . .))

      I think they REALLY overdid it, though—with the recycling the footage, of the exploding pumpkins, though. . . .

The House of Sand

      I really liked this one—and not just because of "some graphic sexuality."

      This is a great story—I have no idea, how realistic, or "historic" [it is], though.  Wonderfully crafted, exquisitely portraying—the passage of time, human mortality, and one hot to trot chick.

      And inside of all that, they "bury" an amazing bit of science.  I was stunned.

The Houses October Built

      I totally despise, "found footage flicks"—and for good reason.  Now every half-butted director, who can't afford a "steady-cam," can pretend he's making high art.

      But I really liked this one.  Remiscent of that film with Loretta Swit—"Race with the Devil," this film achieved something rarely seen, outside of a 60's horror film.

It was genuinely scary.

      American directors, seem to have (completely) forgotten how to do that.  Strange, no?

King of Hearts

      "Le Roi de cœur (The King of Hearts)."

      A totally ludicrous, frighteningly realistic, absolute JOY of a movie.

      Don't miss this one.

       :) :) :) :)

The Last Will and Testament of Rosalind Leigh

      Okay. This one . . . wow. Watching the first third or so, of this one—I encountered one of the creepiest of haunted house sagas.  (Wow—that is a palidrome.   :) ;) I just realized that—and so is "wow."   :) :) ;) ;) ) And now here, is where we get to the surprising part.

      I don't usually watch the extras (I like to enjoy "the illusion.")—however, for some reason, I watched these, and all the way through.  The way this thing was filmed–in particular, locating the house–was an amazing story in itself.  And here's the real kicker:

I didn't "get" the movie.

      I saw how things didn't quite "add up"—but didn't follow through on the why.  I had to have the director spoon-feed me, just what was going on.  And when he did.  (! (!))

      This film is a totally unique take, on the haunted house genre.

Lost River. . . .

      I have an interesting story, of how I bought my copy, right off the cart—what the heck, I'm going to share it with you.   :)

      I have an interesting story, about how I got my copy, of this one.  I saw in in the store (I have only seen this in Target(s)—I don't know, if it was only released (sold) there.)  I thought, "That looking interesting (!)—I'll think about it."  Then, later, I was at another Target—but couldn't find it.  Someone working there, noticed my disappointment, and asked if they could help.  (I was surprised at this–both because of the (surprising) level of customer service–and because he stopped talking to a co-worker, in order to speak to me.  When I told him what I was looking for, he searched his cart, and handed it to me.

      So, my version, was "hot off the cart."

       ( :) :) )

      You know—you're not going to believe this, but I didn't realize, until just now (11:46 PM 6/17/2020)—that the director, is the same Dude, that played "K," in "Blade Runner 2049."


      The critics absolutely panned the film. . . .

      Lost River received mixed reviews at the time of its release. On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has a rating of 31%, based on 72 reviews, with an average rating of 4.56/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "Lost River suggests that debuting writer-director Ryan Gosling may have a bright future as a filmmaker, but it doesn't hold together well enough to recommend on its own merit." On Metacritic, the film has a score of 42 out of 100, based on 21 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".

      Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian stated that the film is "colossally indulgent, shapeless, often fantastically and unthinkingly offensive and at all times insufferably conceited". Kate Muir of The Sunday Times indicated that "Ryan Gosling's Lost River is a lurid mash up of Lynch, Refn and Edward Hopper. In a bad way." Robbie Collin of The Telegraph called the film "dumbfoundingly poor" and stated that Gosling "confuses 'making film' with 'assembling Tumblr of David Lynch & Mario Bava gifs'".


       . . . And while I don't really disagree, with anything the critics are saying . . . I still loved and treasured this movie.

      And as I "mature" as a director (Yes—so fixated with films am I, that I've started MAKING them.), I begin to see into the creative process, of how peeps come up with the ideas for their films. And I can see this one—as clearly as if I had written it. . . .

      Oh. And a "side point," here—I'm so face blind, I didn't even recognize "Doctor Who" (Matt Smith). Oh. And when he asks, if she's ever let anyone touch her rat, just look away.

      Just LOOK AWAY.

Trust me.

Lovely Molly

      This film is truly horrifying.

      Rather than counting on excesses, of traditional tropes, this film achieves true horror—from some of the most grisly, disturbing images and ideas, I've ever seen in cinema.

      NOT to be watched lightly—but of true reward for the "polished afficianado" of the grotesque. . . .

Motivational Growth

      Dudes (and Dudettes :) :) ), you have GOT to see Motivational Growth.  My copy was given to me–seriously–by the guy that runs B is for Best.   :) :) (Poor guy—he told me that the very first movie he watched, on VHS, was a copy of Cannibal Holocaust that he had fished out of the trash.  (!!!!) I mean, can you even imagine. . . .  (!!))

      Basically, a depressed 30-something, starts taking life coach advice, from a (somewhat) anthropomorphic fungus in his bathroom, after a failed suicide attempt.  Yeah. And then the film, get weird.

       :) :) ;) ;)

      *Mike chuckling*.

Open Grave

      I loved this film—gritty, grimy, with positively grisly sounds–that seem almost a "character" in and of the themselves–and with a surprisingly intellectual (if not perfectly executed) plot. . . .

      Yeah. This one is a real winner.  Highly recommend.


      Okay. This movie was, really, very silly—but everyboday was trying SO HARD.  (!) Zombies, meet samurai, meet every single "Asian cliché" imaginable.  And there are probably a whole bunch of cultural references—that I'm missing.

      But–as I said–everybody was working so hard, in this movie.  And the technical details of the film, was so well done.

      Entertaining—that's the word I'm searching for.

      (. . .)

Red Lights

      I have a bit of a confession to make—I watch pretty much every film with Sigourney Weaver.  I keep hoping, that she'll get naked; she never does, though.  I remember watching, an actually pretty dreadful movie, "Jarhead"—because it touted "extreme sexual content."  I watched that piece of crap—just because I thought (hoped, at least) it might be her. . . .

      Both critics and viewers disliked this movie.  I loved it.  De Niro was great (when is he never (?))—and the story . . . it draws one around, and then closes everything up, in (to me, at least) an incredibly satisfying way.  I can't say more, without a spoiler—and I'm not going to do that.

      No one else seems to—but I recommend this film.

      Yeah. And the Dude was a physicist, too.  (I'm like, a physicist, 'n stuff.)

       :) ;)

Rigor Mortis

      Rigor Mortis is a "heavy nod" to "Jiangshi fiction"—that is, a film genre, built around the "hopping vampire, or hopping zombie".  Notable examples are Mr. Vampire, and Encounters of the Spooky Kind.

      More on the "hopping vampire, or hopping zombie," here.

      And yes, I realize how . . . silly, "hopping vampire," sounds, to the Western ear. . . .

      Jiangshi fiction or goeng-si fiction in Cantonese, is a literary and cinematic genre of horror based on the jiangshi of Chinese folklore, a reanimated corpse controlled by Taoist priests that resembles the zombies and vampires of Western fiction. The genre first appeared in the literature of the Qing Dynasty and the jiangshi film . . . is a staple of the modern Hong Kong film industry. Hong Kong jiangshi films like Mr. Vampire Encounters of the Spooky Kind follow a formula of mixing horror with comedy and kung fu.


      Now all that, is very interesting–and the film is, very atmospheric–but the "real sell," of this, as a must not be missed, amazing movie, cannot be explained, without. . . .

      MASSIVE Spoilers. . . .

      Sorry—'t'was no other way. . . .

Shin Godzilla

      A god incarnate.

      A city doomed.

      This is a very mature movie. . . .

      I plan on doing a full review of this film, later.  I (seriously) considered it—for my Top 10 List.

      I cannot recommend this movie, highly enough.

Silent House

      The "main draw," for this one—is that the entire movie, appears to have been filmed . . . in ONE TAKE.  (!!) Althogh, this has turned out, to be untrue. . . .

      "Although the promotional material for the film suggests that it was filmed in real time in a single long take, Elizabeth Olsen revealed that the movie was actually filmed in 12-minute takes and edited so as to appear as one, which was later confirmed by Kentis and Lau."


       . . . It's still a good film, in its own right.  Recommend.


      I have a movie confession to make—if I see Anthony Hopkins in the list of actors, I buy the film.  (And I am never disappointed.)  And although we only get him–mostly–to stare off into space in this one (or is that the one—where he's a vengeful logger? (?)), he's still Anthony Frickin' Hopkins.

      I found the ideas (and plot) intruiging—if implausible, and really liked . . . "the resolution."  Another movie, about a troubled man, trying to cope, with a (supernatural) talent, he never asked for. . . .

Spreading Ground

      This movie is virtually impossible to find. . . .

      While not technically perfect—the shooting scene, with the organized crime members, I mean, you do realize, that you can shoot a retake??  (!!) But, it portrays the horror, of the criminal underworld—also, how all those groups, would gang together, to find someone, who preys on children. . . .

      I'm kinda' like, from Alaska, 'n stuff.  And in Alaska, if a kid was in trouble, people would come out of the bushes–sometimes literally–to help that child (It didn't matter—if they'd maintained a blood alcohol level, since Nixon.).  And that was what this movie was like/all about: Disparate (even at odds) groups, uniting, to stop a predator of children.  Add a smattering of Dennis Hopper, more than credibly, playing a policeman, burning up his life (and family relation(ship)s), in Stray Dog fashion—and some absolutely fascinating cinematography towards the very end, and you see why I so very much like this movie.


      Okay. I gotta' (heavily) qualify, this one.  Some movies, you just gotta' be in the "right frame of mind" to watch.  (Eraserhead probably crowns, that list.  And I remember a critic saying something like, "And Lord help you, if you ever find yourself in the frame of mind, to appreciate Eraserhead.  (!)") But if one is in that mindset, this film is . . . extraordinary.  (Oh. And even if you're not—the initial third [of the film], or so, is "deliciously creepy.")

       :) ;)

      Wolf—if you ever read this, this movie was MADE for the likes of you and me. . . .

       :) :) :) :)

11/16/19 Saturday The World's Fastest Indian

      I have a confession to make: If I see either "Anthony Hopkins," or "Lance Henriksen" in the list of actors, I buy the film.  :) :) People who make films, seem to have caught on to this—as I have lately seen no small number, of low-budget, pulp moneymakers, with them in them.

      I haven't regretted a one.   :) :)

      (Of note, however, I was put on the path to watching this one—because I was told, I reminded someone, of the main protagonist.)

       :) :) ;) ;)

      An absolute gem of a movie, I can't recommend it highly enough.

And of course. . . .

Mr. Holland's Opus

      (Whoever you are, whatever your situation—you have GOT to see "Mr. Holland's Opus," before you die.  It is one of the most beautiful and inspiring of films.)