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Jing wu men (1972)
Bruce Lee's Fist of Fury cements his status as one of the cinemas most legendary action star
Fist of Fury (1972) was Bruce Lee's second action/Kung-Fu flick and it launched his career into the stratosphere. The surprising success of The Big Boss gave the fledgling studio Golden Harvest instant cred within the Asian film industry along with making Lee a star. Lo Wei directed and wrote the screenplay but Lee was allowed to direct his own fight scenes, giving them a more fluid and stylized feel to them. This would also be the last film he would make with Lo Wei whom the two would often be at loggerheads with one another.
Bruce Lee stars as Chen Zhen, a brilliant Kung Fu student who returns to Shanghai to visit his former teacher who mysteriously passes away before his arrival. This along with a rival Japanese karate school led by Hiroshi Suzuki want to get rid of the bothersome Ching Woo School. But the unhinged Chen Zhen will stop at nothing to find out who murdered/killed his beloved teacher, even if he has to unleash his deadly fist of fury. Be it alive or dead, when it comes to vengeance there will be a price to pay.
An awesome movie that is a must see for action film fans. Bruce Lee oozes a physical charisma that has rarely been captured on celluloid. Bruce Lee wanted to make films that appealed to everyone and wanted to break into the Japanese market but this movie wasn't going to allow that due to the subject matter provided by Lo Wei. His next film would be (to date) his biggest success money wise, Way of the Dragon.
Tang shan da xiong (1971)
Bruce Lee's first action film in Hong Kong sets him on the path to greatness
The Big Boss (1971) was Bruce Lee's big return to Hong Kong after starting out his career as a child actor, acting in twenty films before studying aboard overseas in the United States. Wanting to become a big star,Lee honed his skills as an actor by appearing in bit roles in Hollywood but being of Asian descent was a handicap due to the industry's glass ceiling. Already a celebrity due to his appearance on the television series Batman and his legendary fighting prowess, Bruce Lee was on the cusp of being a megastar. All he needed was one film to launch him into the stratosphere.
Bruce Lee stars as country boy Cheng Chao-an who is sent to Thailand to live with his cousins due to some trouble in Hong Kong. During his stay, his relatives help him find work at a local ice factory. Unfortunately, the place is just a front for drugs and those who don't join in the festivities become permanent residents in the ice house. When his cousins start to disappear one by one, Chao-an decides to investigate and realizes there's more to it than meets the eye.
What could have and should of been a regular action film has become one of the most innovating Kung-Fu flicks of the early seventies. Bruce Lee's physical acting and charisma are on full display here. But he's slightly handicapped by director's Lo Wei's hamfisted/cartoonish direction and action choreographer's Han Ying-Cheh's stiff style. Despite this, Lee's performance shines very brightly setting himself up for a fast track career to immortality.
The Baby (1973)
A bizarre film that could only be made in the seventies
The Baby (1973) is a psychological horror/thriller directed by the late Ted "Magnum Force" Post and it stars Ruth Roman, Michael Pataki, Anjanette Comer and David Mooney as Baby. Ann Gentry is a social worker who is given a strange case dealing with a grown man named Baby whose overbearing mother Mrs. Wadsworth and two sister Germaine and Alba keep him in diapers and a giant crib. Getting a babysitter for Baby and trying to keep him happy can be a real trial for Mom and his hot-to-trot siblings. Will Miss Gentry be able to rescue the him from the wrath of his family or will she end up like the previous social worker?
A weird movie that was the inspiration for MadTv's character Stuart and it's just as twisted and bizarre. The movie has many underlying themes that would give a film lover a field day in trying to resolve. Ted Post's direction was often overlooked because of the films he's worked on but know's how to keep his audience in checked. The Baby's ending not only comes out of left field but it's a bitter sweet finale.
Fans of B-movies and psychological horror flicks will enjoy this one.
Finally, a decent theatrical version of the classic Stephen King novel
Carrie (2013) is the third version of Stephen King's first published novel (under his real name) and is by far the best. Carrie White (Chloë Grace Moretz) is a teenage girl who along with her mother Margaret (Julianne Moore) have been mocked, ridiculed and shunned by the townsfolk. All this has been building up inside Carrie whose telekinetic powers have began to peak. It's only a matter of time before everything reaches a boiling point and explodes with a vengeful fury that will bring the high school and town to its knees.
The movie follows the book fairly closely with Chloë Grace Moretz doing an excellent job of capturing the character of Carrie. I also enjoyed Julianne Moore's interpretation of Carrie's mother Margaret White and her religious fanaticism whilst giving her an insight into why she is like that. I had no problems with the changes and updates to the storyline because not only I felt it was necessary, but it improved the overall source material. The most important change to this version of the book is that the actors were all played by people in their teens or close to it instead of their mid to late twenties.
I hope that the original cut of the film is release someday because I read that they removed over a half hour of footage due to a confused preview screening audience.
Endless Love (1981)
A sappy yet interesting look at love and true romance
Endless Love (1981) is a romantic drama directed by Franco "Romeo and Juliet" Zeffirelli, starring Brooke Shields and Martin Hewitt as the two young lovers Jade & David who go through thick and thin just to be with each other. The problem is that Jade's free love parents Ann and Hugh allow the young lovers to spend too much time together initially and when they try to act like disciplinarian parents, the cow has left the barn and there's no way it's going back in. Now forbidden to see each other, their love now knows no bounds as it reaches to a point where only something drastic and dramatic lies awaiting.
Based upon the novel "Endless Love" which was written by Scott Spencer and it's a much darker tale loosely based upon the writer's life. I found the movie to be a sweet and over-the-top melodramatic flick that's highly entertaining for all the wrong reasons. Brooke Shields demonstrates her acting abilities that were never quite truly harnessed to their fullest potential whilst director Franco Zeffirelli tries to recreate "Romeo and Juliet" all over again. Martin Hewitt is basically a cipher who goes through the motions, not horrible just there.
A Million to Juan (1994)
Paul Rodriguez's "Jurassic Park"
A Million to Juan (1994) has been labeled by Paul Rodriguez himself his "Jurassic Park" due to the fact that he grossed over a million dollars in rentals from the movie's one hundred thousand dollar budget. The movie is a modern update of the Mark Twain story "The Million Pound Bank Note." Paul Rodriguez stars as Juan, a poor hardworking immigrant who lives in a rundown apartment complex with his son and cousins Jorge (Tony Plana) and Alvaro (Bert Rosario). He also has a mad crush on his social worker Olivia (Polly Draper) who's helping him with his case, one day he a stranger hands him a million dollar check that'll change his life forever.
I found the direction by first time director Paul Rodriguez to be adequate but the screenplay by Robert Grasmere and Francisca Matos to be too melodramatic and stereotypical. But the acting and charisma of Paul Rodriguez and his supporting cast manage to rise above the mediocre script. I enjoyed the movie and fans of Rodriguez's stand up comedy will enjoy the humor.
Walk Proud (1979)
Pay no attention to Robby Benson playing a Chicano because it's a good movie
Walk Proud (1979) is about the life of teenage Emilio Mendez who is of mixed heritage (ethnic Mexican and Caucasian) and struggles with his loyalty to his gang when the lovely Sarah Lassiter (Sarah Holcomb) enters his life. With no future in being a street gang member, learning the truth about his heritage and the love of Sarah brings Emilio to a crossroads to where his life is going. Being harassed by the police, rival gangs and his cohort Cesar (Pepe Serna) questioning his loyalty will lead Emilio to a fateful decision that he must make walking proud.
I was impressed by the movie because it's been knocked for have Robby Benson playing a Chicano. Once you learn about his true background, the story makes sense and is realistic because I have meet people like his character Emilio. Co- stars Trinidad Silva, Ji-Tu Cumbaka, Gary Cervantes and Panchito Gomez help Benson carry the movie and the underrated acting they provide make this movie a winner. Watch for character actor Brad Sullivan who has a small part as Jerry Kelsey, Emilio's estranged father.
Hostel: Part III (2011)
The uncut version is the best way to watch it
Hostel: Part III (2011) is the third (and final?) chapter in the Hostel series. This time instead of taking place in a hostel, it's about a group of friends who are looking for a wild night in Las Vegas for there friends bachelor party. But everything turns egg shape when they run afoul of those lovely folks from the Elite Hunting Club decide to do a little business with their wealthy clients in Sin City. Can the party boys elude those bored rich customers of Elite or will they end up on somebody's wall?
The third chapter in the Hostel series is directed b Sami Raimi protégé Scott Spiegel and written by DTV scribe Michael Weiss. I thought the movie was a fun time waster that was entertaining but do not watch the R-Rated version because you'll miss out on makes the Hostel trilogy a cut above the rest.
Back to the Future Part III (1990)
The third and final chapter of the Back to the Future trilogy
Back to the Future Part III (1990) is the final chapter of the Back to the Future trilogy which began in 1985. Due to the same freak lighting storm that sent Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) from 1955 back to 1985, Doc Brown (Christopher Lloyd) was zapped by the same bolt sending him to 1885. With the fate of the space/time continuum and the lives of Marty and Doc weigh in the balance of the events that will transpire in the wild west version of the city of Hill Valley and their ancestors. Can Marty McFly and Doc Brown put everything back in balance or will the universe collapse from within itself?
The final chapter of the Back to the Future trilogy is a fun watch but a big drop off from part II. They were both shot back-to-back utilizing most of the cast from the previous films. The writing and direction of Robert Zemeckis along with the acting of Michael J. Fox hold this film together. Christopher Lloyd held his own as the eccentric Doc Brown along with the lovable and talented Mary Steenburgen as the new schoolmarm Clara Clayton.
Fans of the series will appreciate the ending of the film and storyline.
Survival of the Dead (2009)
I really enjoyed this movie.
Survival of the Dead impressed me. I have been reading a lot of negative reviews about this movie. I ordered the movie from Amazon's video-on-demand and plunk down some money to check it out (since no theater within a hundred miles was showing it). After spending about 90 minutes watching the movie I thought the money was well spent. Too bad this movie didn't get a wider release because I felt that it deserved one. I was put off originally by the film's trailer because the action seemed very amateurish and the sound effects were sub-par. All that was corrected in the movie.
Sarge, the US National Guardsmen from "Diary of the Dead" (featured briefly in the beginning of the film) laments about having to become a highway robber and a brief internet superstar. After a violent encounter with some demented local yahoos, Sarge and his squad head off to find a place of safe refuge. A beacon of sorts has been sent out on the web by Patrick O'Flynn, an islander who is in a bloody feud with another family (the Muldoons headed by Seamus Muldoon) over what to do with the living dead),
O'Flynn AKA Captain Courageous (along with his fellow outcasts) have became pirates and have been robbing those unlucky or foolish enough to head out to the dock. But Sarge and company foil O'Flynn's scheme and sail off on an abandoned ferry boat. O'Flynn manages to jump on the boat (after a brief and violent clash dispatches his "crew"). Without a destination, Sarge turns to O'Flynn who suggests that they head back to his home island and reclaim it for the O'Flynns. Out of options, will Sarge team up with O'Flynn and get involved in a clan war or will he and his squad continue to look elsewhere?
The social commentary is not as heavy handed as it was in Diary of the Dead but the themes of religion, Catholicism and fundamentalism are present along with the clash of old and new ideals. Another concurrent theme that appears in the Dead Series is the lack of cooperation and communication. Many people have complained about the lack of danger from the living dead. As the movies in the series continues it seems that they have become more of a nuisance instead of a threat whilst the real danger comes from amongst ourselves.
Poh wai ji wong (1994)
Love on Delivery
Love on Delivery stars Stephen Chow as Ho, a wimpy delivery boy who falls in love with Lily (Christy Chung) a kung-fu student. But her instructor Black Bear (Joe Cheng) has been trying to court her and butts heads with Ho. Black Bear challenges Ho to a fight, but the cowardly Ho ducks when Black Bear tried to punch him, hitting Lily instead. Humiliated by such a display of cowardice, Ho turns to a broken down kung-fu master Tat (Ng Man Tat) to teach him the art of fighting, But Tat's unconventional methods of training may not be as effective as they seem.
A funny and violent film starring Stephen Chow (who also wrote the screenplay). The beautiful Christy Chung co-stars (who speaks her dialog phonetically). The always interesting Ben Lam co-stars as Tuen, an invincible Karate master who believes karate is better than kung-fu and will do whatever he has to do to prove it. Jacky Cheung, Philip Chan and Billy Chow make cameo appearances as well. The wild fight scenes were directed by Ching Siu-tung (who also co-directed the film).
The film parodies Rocky, Rocky III, The Terminator, Garfield (aka Ga Fei Miao) and the Karate Kid series. Tat wears a wife-beater just like Miyagi, Chow tries to master the "crane kick" as well. A funny and more realistic version of the film as well. A couple of music videos are worked into the film as well (which are pretty funny). Remember, being a good fighter is not all about how strong you are but how to out wit your opponent.
The Outsiders (1983)
Stay gold Ponyboy. The Outsiders (The complete novel) review.
Francis Ford Coppola's The Outsiders is a melodramatic film based upon the novel written by S. E. Hinton (who also as a small role as a nurse). Like many middle school students I was forced to read the novel (which I thought was sappy and cheesy). Coppola's version is pretty much the same as the novel and he did a very good job of capturing the spirit of the film (perhaps too much). Filmed on location in Oklahoma. The actors in this film were a cast of unknowns. But afterwords many of them would go on to become stars (Tom Cruise, Matt Dillon) others would find success in the later years (Diane Lane, Rob Lowe) and some would score some big roles early int their careers and fade away to straight-to-video obscurity (C. Thomas Howell, Ralph Macchio, Emilio Estevez and Patrick Swayze).
Ponyboy Curtis is a "Greaser" a kid from across the tracks. He's always has his head in the clouds and unlike the other "Greasers", he seems to have a bright future if he would stick in head in books instead of hanging out with his buddies Johnny (Ralph Macchio), Two-Bit (Emilio Estevez) and Dallas (Matt Dillon). Pony's brothers Sodapop dropped out of school to work at a local DX with fellow "Greaser" Steve (Tom Cruise) whilst older brother Darrel (Patrick Swayze) has to take care of the family since the tragic deaths of their parents. Darrel is under a lot of stress of having to take care of Darrel and Ponyboy that he takes it out on Pony by riding him like a donkey and always jumping on his case. One night after staying out late, Pony and Darrel get into a scuffle causing Pony to runaway from home with Johnny.
The "greasers" are always in a constant state of war with the rich kids called "The Socs". Two members of the group Bob (Leif Garrett) and Randy (Darren Dalton) nearly come to blows with Ponyboy, Two-Bit and Johnny earlier at the drive-in but their girlfriends Cherry (Diane Lane) and Marcia manage to calm down the situation. Hours have passed since the confrontation but their still angry about their tiff with "The Greasers" and drive around drinking all night looking for trouble. They spot the two runaways and decide to continue the spat with some additional extracurricular activities. Will Johnny and Ponyboy be able to get out of this pickle? Why do the "Socs and "Greasers" hate each other? Is their any way to end this dispute before things get really out of hand?
An entertaining film from Coppola. His daughter has a small part (credited as Domino) and his nephew Nicolas (Coppola) Cage has a role as an extra (his Uncle turned him down for the role of Dallas). If you enjoyed the book then you'll want to get a copy of the Complete Novel version. This cut has additional scenes, new music (Most of the sappy and over dramatic music composed by Carmine Coppola has been replaced with 50's and 60's pop music) and an ending that's more faithful to the novel. Is it melodramatic? Yes, Is it sappy? Yes, even though it's laid on real heavy at times but it's still a good movie that will entertain you.
A ghoul baby, soured relationships and the horror of single motherhood.
Grace is about a thirty something Madeline who's married to some schlub named Michael, They have been trying to have a baby for sometime. Mike's mother Vivian wants to make sure Madeline has the kid in a hospital but she wants to have a midwife named Patricia (her old lover) deliver it. But before any of their plans transpire, a freak car accident leaves Mike dead and Maddy her unborn child in some serious trouble. A few days later her water (er red Flavor Aid) breaks and she's rushed to the midwife's place to have the baby. Expecting a still birth but a miracle happens and Maddy gives birth to a child that she names Grace. But that is when things get wonky. Throw in some strained in-law relationship, a jealous young lesbian, a ghoul baby and a single mother going batty and you have Grace.
A ho-hum film that pays homage to superior films such as the It's Alive trilogy, Repulsion and Rosemary's Baby. I didn't care for the characters because they all seem annoying. The mother-in-law is the chief antagonist who schemes to snatch the baby. The ex- lover/midwife Patricia is creepy as she keeps tabs on her old lover and only cares about moving in on the now dead Mike's turf. In one scene she tries to rekindle the old flame a few days after the physically and emotionally exhaustive birth but gets cut off at the overpass and her young squeeze is VERY jealous of the attention that she gives to Madeline. The men in this film are nothing more than ciphers who are manipulated by the females in the film (i.e. Vivian and her hen pecked hubby and Mike who's nothing more than a warm body and bread winner).
I really didn't care for this movie. It looked promising but it felt rushed (only 78 minutes pre-credits) and it didn't care for the pay off. Recommended for a slow movie night or if it comes on TV.
A teen comedy disguised as a "zombie" movie that has more bore and snore than gore.
Zombieland is a mediocre movie filled with flat humor and dialog that sounds as if it was written by an 8th grader. The only thing that saves this movie from being a straight out stinker is Woody Harrelson but other than that it's just a dud. I didn't care for the protagonist, the so called "zombies", the silly "rules" or the two female characters. They're so annoying that I was wishing that the infected would kill them. The filmmakers tried too hard to be funny and when that happens it always end up pear shaped. I was expecting something entertaining, maybe in the vein of Brain-Dead or Shaun of the Dead. Perhaps I was asking too much. I have seen DTV movies that work a lot better than this. I just wasn't buying into anything the director was selling. The movie didn't work as either a horror film or a comedy.
The dialog was bad. I mean an adolescent must have wrote it. I didn't care for the pop culture references and the "hipness" of it. The overuse of movie titles, rehashing dumb clichés and the forcefulness of the situations was too clunky for me. The movie was obviously aimed for the late teen crowd because they're the only ones who will buy into this mediocre film and will think it's "cool". Real fans of zombie movies will not be amused by it. What I really can't stand are the "zombies". These are not the classic kind but the ones from Demons or 28 Days Later. They can run (I guess being infected gives you superhuman endurance and speed) and leap obstacles in a single bound.
The direction was flat. I didn't like the way the scenes flowed or the way the action moved along. One minutes it's like a music video and the next it plods around slooowly.... The big action set pieces seem like a pastiche of action movies. I know logic has no place in a horror movie but Wichita gets off like two dozen rounds out of her shotgun but doesn't reload once and when she's in a real pinch, she's OUT of shells. Another scene that sticks out is when Tallahassee is shooting through the grate that surrounds that carny stand. There is no way he can shoot out through it without killing or severely maiming himself.
Last but not least is the big "cameo". It's no surprise if you have seen the credit list. Bill Murray playing himself hiding out in his "mansion" out in Beverly Hills. Bill hasn't had a hit in years and I doubt he's still living the life (maybe the "high" life) like the way he did during his heyday in the 80's. He appears "wearing" zombie makeup and blending in with the rest of the dead. But truth be told if you read the celebrity blogs, he looks like that after hanging out at one frat party too many (that's another story). He really does play himself, hung over and shuffling around in a daze.
Overall, I wouldn't pay to watch this movie. Maybe when it hits CineMax in a few months or when you can rent it for a dollar at RedBox. If you love Shaun of the Dead (Yes I am comparing it to this movie because that's how the studio is marketing it) then you will not care for this one. But if you love the teen comedy crap that Hollywood seems to be churning out then you'll definitely want to see it. Light on gore but heavy on bore and snore.
Life Is Hot in Cracktown (2009)
A realistic look at life in the inner city.
Life is Hot in Cracktown (2009) is a movie based upon a collection of short stories written by the director Buddy Giovinazzo. The film follows four story lines: a man who works two jobs trying to support his family and move out of the inner city, a brother and sister who try to survive in a roach infested hotel, a pre-op transsexual who works the streets to make ends meet and a young hoodlum who lives an empty life with no future to look forward to. They are just some of the faceless people who try to make a life inside a poverty stricken ghetto. even though they have a bleak present, something inside of these people drives them to try and look for a way out of there lives and look for a brighter future.
I really enjoyed this movie. Most of the films I see about the inner city are full of cartoonish and stereotypical characters that you don;t care about. The people in this film are real as the person next door. I found a lot of the dialog and situations these people are faced with to be real and very authentic. Buddy Giovinazzo has come a long way since his first film (Combat ShocK) but he still retains the gritty realism and spirit of that film in his latest project. He seems to have a genuine feel for his characters and none of that pseudo-liberal guilt complex that similar films that come out of Hollywood have. No phony baloney middle class guilt trip here and I really appreciate that in a film like this one.
Halloween II (2009)
Rob Zombie's H2 out does the first film on all levels.
H2 (2009) is the second film of Rob Zombie's reboot of the Halloween franchise. He gives the film a much needed edge that was found in his previous films like The Devil's Rejects and House of a 1,000 Corpses. Zombie's surrealistic dreamscapes and brutal gory set pieces are on display. Instead of doing a straight forward redux of the sequel he brings forth his own nightmarish vision. The sequel picks up right where the first film left off. Laurie is having a very hard time dealing with the Halloween attack by Michael Myers that left her friends and family dead. Almost a year later she lives with her best friend and fellow survivor Annie. Her view on life is much different and her attitude towards it has changed as well. A therapist counsels her on trying to move forward with her life. But the calendar shows that Halloween is only a few days away...
I saw this at a midnight screening and the crowd was really into the film. Rob Zombie doesn't play around and try to stay somewhat to the original film. This is old school hardcore horror. I don;t know how it managed to get an R-rating but it did. I haven't seen a horror film this violent, brutal and squeamish in a long time. No sanitized violence in this one like a lot of the bland horror films that have been coming out of Hollywood recently. No kiddy stuff here, just a straight forward horror film that will entertain those who just love to get scared. Most of the cast returns in this film. Michael Myers has a new look to fit in with his character (but don't fret because he still has his mask). If you enjoyed the first Zombie Halloween then you'll want to watch it. But if didn't like the first one watch it any way because it's a lot better on all levels because I expected to see a hardcore horror film and I saw one.
Inglourious Basterds (2009)
A mediocre effort from Tarantino. Nothing but a pastiche of films and silly sitcom dialog
I saw Inglourious Basterds at a midnight screening and I was unimpressed with the movie. Seems like Tarantino has run out of ideas and sharp dialog. He promised a war movie in the style of an Italian western. All I saw was a pastiche of Italian westerns, bad humor and long drawn out dialog that lacked any of his previous films unique wit. Being a fan of pop culture Tarantino peppers the script with a lot of it from the 30's and 40's (yes it seems really forced). If you have seen a lot of Italian westerns, then you'll know what you're in for. Long panning camera shots, close ups of eyes and even longer wide shots. The actions scenes are few and scattered throughout the film. What I really didn't like about the film itself was that it's too helter skelter. One minute it's serious and the second it's silly with a lot of inane dialog and boring chatter that took over ten years to write (according to QT)..
The characters were not that interesting. Shoshana (played by Melanie Laurent) is the main character and the film centers around her involvement in the underground. She come off cold and not all that interesting. Colonel Landa (Christoph Waltz) is the "Jew Hunter" but he comes off like a Teutonic Columbo (I kid you not) and really mugs and overacts for the camera. The Basterds (led by Brad Pitt as Aldo Raine) are marketed as being the central characters of the film. But their appearances are too few and far between. Pitt's character's accent and personality comes off cartoonish and it really doesn't work. Eli Roth is not a very good actor and his character "The Bear Jew"is very wooden. He's a good filmmaker who should stay behind the camera. Mike Myers guest role as a British officer is pretty bad and the audience was laughing along every time he spoke.
I wish the movie was made as a farce but I don't think that was Tarantino's intentions. He tried to make a "spaghetti western war movie". But it comes off like a real pedestrian effort that's caters to an audience that's not his. This film felt like his first ever mainstream movie. I was really stunned by how bad this movie is. The lighting is real annoying. I know Robert Richardson loves the whole "halo light" thing but it can be very distracting. The QT fan boys will fall all over themselves for this one because when he says jump they always say "how high?" I don't know how well this movie will do at he box office but what I do know is that he needs a hit big time to re coop the money lost for Grindhouse (which I really enjoyed). Tarantino used to fire on all cylinders, even in his so-so movies (Kill Bill Vol.2) but this one has my scratching my head going "what the hell did I just watch?"
Several of Tarantino's trademarks appear in this film such as "The Mexican Stand-Off", pop culture references (albeit 30's and 40's), a bare foot scene (QT has a well known foot fetish) and the n-bomb is dropped a few times in the film (don't ask how they managed to work that into the movie).
The Gold Rush (1925)
The Cinema of Charles Chaplin: The Gold Rush
The Gold Rush (1925) was a big undertaking for Charles Chaplin. A lot of his time and effort went into the production of this film. During pre-production, he tried to shoot in the Yukon but that proved to be not a sound idea. So he shot the opening scenes in Truckee, California using some local vagabonds as extras. Charlie Chaplin stars as a prospector who tries his luck looking for gold in the Great North. What he discovers is a lot of other things and a little something about the human condition.
A few memorable scenes stick out, one Chaplin starving up to a point where he has to eat his boot (made out of licorice), Chaplin and his companion hallucinating when they run out of things to eat, the iconic opening sequence and the ever famous dancing rolls. I have seen both versions of the film. One thing I didn't like that Chaplin did was that he tinkered with his films in the later years. He re-edited the film and added a narration and cut out several scenes. Despite the alterations, it's an awesome film.
Highest recommendation possible
The Cure (1917)
Charlie's Trip to a health spa!
The Cure (1917) was another one of Charlie Chaplin's shorts that featured a few members of his troupe. Charlie stars as a drunk who goes to a health spa. His day their is filled with all kind of crazy situations. The funniest one involves a burly masseuse who manhandles his clients. After witnessing the masseuse's style of massage, Charlie is a little more than reluctant to participate and the burly dude chases him all over the room very eager to give our hero a "treatment". Edna Purviance co-stars as well.
An interesting look at Chaplin as he assumes more control over his films. A few more of these shorts would lead him to direct, produce, write and star in his first feature length film.
Kid Auto Races at Venice (1914)
The debut of Charlie Chaplin's tramp
Kid Auto Races at Venice (1914) marks the film debut of "The Tramp". A goofy and slightly odd fellow who ruins a filmmaker's filming at a race track. That silly tramp time after time keeps on mugging for the camera getting in front of the action out on the race track. Not even the threat of physical violence deters The Tramp from sticking his face in front of the camera. A very strange first appearance of one of the most iconic characters in film history.
It would be a few more films until Chaplin worked out the Tramp. But his first role is quite interesting and if you love Charlie Chaplin's work then you have to see this short.
Up the Down Staircase (1967)
Good book to film adaptations: Up the Down Staircase
Up the Down Staircase (1967) was a film based up an interesting novel that came out during the mid-sixties. The novel was somewhat scatter shot but the film was more linear in structure. Even though the film doesn't follow it directly, it still manages to keep it's quirky and helter skelter tone and atmosphere. Sandy Dennis stars as a young teacher who's hired to teach in an inner city school. Not all that prepared for life in that environment, she manages to keep her head up and wear that ever so cute smile upon her face. Will this young and idealistic teacher keep to her dedicated style of children first? How does she deal with the culture shock? What does the title mean? Watch this flick and find out!
Recommended for fans of high school movies
Nicky's Film (1971)
The Cinema of Abel Ferrara: Nicky's Film
Nicky's Film (1971) was the debut film from filmmaker Abel Ferrara. Written by a long time collaborator Nicholas St. John, Nicky's Film is about a paranoid man (Nicholas St. John) who's up into his eyeballs in some shady stuff, or is he? All day long, he watches from his window a mysterious man (Abel Ferrara) and the strange sleeping woman. What can Nicky do or why is he in this predicament? A strange debut for Abel Ferrara.
I saw this film on the two disc special edition of Driller Killer. The short movie was transfered onto video tape from Abel Ferrara's own collection. I guess the original is lost. Not a great piece of work, but a strange and weird paranoid film from a young filmmaker who has years of brilliant work in the future.
9 Lives of a Wet Pussy (1976)
The Cinema of Abel Ferrara: 9 Lives of a Wet Pussy (trailer)
9 Lives of a Wet Pussy (1976) was the feature length film debut of filmmaker Abel Ferrara, along with his long time collaborator, Nicholas St. John, the duo worked together on this hardcore adult film. I have only seen about half of this film and I have watched the trailer for it on the two disc special edition of Driller Killer. From what I saw, it's a very weird film (even for a seventy's adult film). All of the bases are covered in this one, the skeletal story involves a woman who's looking for some erotic pleasure be it male or female.
The trailer features a cat that's not in the movie (a very nice touch and showcases some of Ferrara's weird humor). A lot of young directors made adult films in the seventies and they used aliases (Lloyd Kaufman and Willaim Lustig are two I can name off hand). A very rare film that's extremely hard to find.
Bun siu hai (1999)
A dramatic turn for director Jing Wong
Crying Heart (1999) is a rare drama picture from director Jing Wong. The movie follows the life of a mother Mrs. Fat(Deannie Yip) and her mentally handicapped son Bee (Patrick Tam). Bee has very few friends and Mrs. Fat does everything she can so Bee wont be placed in a special home. She tries to prepare Bee for life in case something should happen to her. A neighbor May (Suki Kwan) likes to tease Bee but she feels guilty about it because he's so slow. One day, all three of their lives are changed forever.
I didn't know Jing Wong could make such heart heavy dramas. I love in slapstick comedies and parodies. But this film is very melodramatic and heartfelt. Be sure to have the tissue box nearby.
Hostel: Part II (2007)
The sick and twisted mayhem continues in this sequel
Hostel: Part two (2007) picks up where the first film left off. A trio of female students on the advice of an hot art model decide to head off to Slovekia for a little fun. Along the way they run into some bad vibes about the trip but brush them off because it's time to party. What kind of "fun" awaits the ladies?
Eli Roth did not want to make a sequel but since the first film was such a smash the producers were eager for a second one. But not as many people ran out to see it. The film was released in the spring of 2007, a very bad time for horror pictures. I enjoyed part two as much as the first film. If you like "torture" horror then you'll want to watch Hostel: Part II!