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A good laugh feels really great...
As a true connoisseur of horror, exploitation, gore and such, I greatly looked forward to seeing "The Great American Snuff Film." I mean the reviews contained phrases like, "Stay away," "This is torture," "This is one brutally hard film," and "Can easily crush the spirits of unprepared viewers." Sounds good to me! So I buy the DVD, pop it in and wait for the delicious disturbing pall to wash over me. Didn't happen. All those people so shocked, disturbed and disgusted by this movie must only watch family films and the freakin' Teletubbies. Maybe, just maybe, if they had actual actors in the roles it could have given me pause but really - and I don't want to sound catty - the kids in the elementary school plays I participated in gave better performances. I even laughed at a few things in this film that were supposed to make me recoil in disgust. Maybe that makes me one sick fella - but I don't think so. I've seen the best and worst of the exploitation and torture genres and this one falls not as the worst but as pretty darn bad, sitting close to the bottom for sure. As a comedy... not too bad at all. I mean when I think of all the people naive enough to believe that this movie contained actual snuff footage, I laugh my ass off.
Friday the 13th (1980)
gives me the warm fuzzies
The one that started them all and taught us all a very important lesson: never ever take a job as a summer camp counselor. But if you are stupid enough to do so, then try to remember the following... don't have sex or you will most definitely be killed... don't go into the woods at night (duh!) or you will most definitely be killed... don't trust any of the locals or you will most definitely be killed. And remember that in a pinch an oar from a boat can be useful for impromptu decapitations. "Friday the 13th" was one of the very first (of millions) horror films I'd ever seen so I have a very sentimental attachment to it... but sentimentality aside, when re-watching again (and again) it still holds up really well as a really well crafted slasher with (for the time) some pretty decent special effects. And why, oh why, did Betsy Palmer not receive an Oscar nomination for her brilliant work? I tell ya... those Oscars - all politics. I'll tell you something else - to this day whenever I see a hockey mask in any context I get a warm, fuzzy feeling inside.
Two Brothers (2001)
forget the blah brothers and watch the others
"Two Brothers" opens with a screen stating: "Over the course of a year, first-time filmmaker Richard Bell created a movie with four actors, one editor, a composer and no crew. His costs were $545.00 Cdn." Well... nothing like patting yourself on the back before the movie even begins. Despite a compelling and very talented cast, I spent most of the movie's 60 minute run time laughing at what wasn't intended to be funny. I felt like I was watching an episode of Degrassi Junior High... like one long episode of Degrassi in black and white about death, love, sex, alcoholism, homosexuality, money, aids, child abuse, spousal abuse and more. When you try to cram all that into 60 minutes you render these topics trite. With dialogue like "Homosexuals are, like, my favorite kind of people," and "For the first time in my life I really have myself," you can't help but laugh. But it isn't all unintended laughs there's also moments of severe irritation - the character of Tobie has an opening monologue so irritating that I wanted to hold an electric sander to her face. Luckily the talented actress who played Tobie had some scenes of some substance before the whole thing was over... and when it was (finally) over they decided to close with a passage from the Bible. Again - unintentional laughs. Maybe that screen at the beginning wasn't bragging.... maybe it was an apology.
Included on the DVD are two short films by writer/director Lawrence Ferber. The first "Cruise Control" runs only 6 minutes but establishes so much about character and the theme... and is pretty funny. The second "Birthday Time," runs 19 minutes and makes the whole DVD worth every penny you pay for it. So in just 25 minutes total (approx.) Lawrence Ferber firmly establishes himself as a a great talent with an insightful, honest voice that makes you want to see more.
The Simpsons Movie (2007)
Nobody needs me to write a review of "The Simpsons Movie." Everything that could be said about this film has been said about a zillion times over. Maybe even a million zillion times over. Every criticism has been made and every accolade lauded upon it. So why am I bothering to write this review... I dunno. If you can't beat 'em, join 'em? Sure, we'll go with that. But even with that said, all I can contribute is that I didn't enjoy it as badly as I wanted to. My primary beef was that it took the Simpsons out of Springfield for too much of the film... and the town of Springfield itself is as important a character as any other in the Simpsons - whether it's the TV show or the movie. But, putting that aside, this film is worth watching just to hear Rod and Todd Flanders say "bountiful penis." What could be funnier than that?
Adam & Steve (2005)
there are no words... well, except these...
This is a pretty funny flick... actually, it's a really funny flick.... actually it's an extremely funny flick that isn't easily forgotten. Comedic gay romance films usually fall flat and run too sentimental to be funny and end up making everyone (gay, straight & misc.) uncomfortable. Well, okay, it makes *me* uncomfortable, but I laughed quite comfortably through out this film... mind you, I was lying in bed while I watched it so that accounts for some of the comfort.... but I digress. Craig Chester (who also wrote and directed) and Malcolm Bets star as Adam & Steve who start the film with the greatest, worst first-date in cinematic history - it has to be seen to be believed. It will make your worst date seem charming and the stuff of bad "date movies." Adam & Steve's first encounter is... well, honestly, I can't even describe it, it's just that bizarre... and just that hilarious. This sets the stage for one heck of a funny movie - and it delivers on the promise. It does veer a bit into the sentimental here and there, but wisely never wanders too far from it's raucous core. Interestingly - though it is SO often the case - it's not the leads in this comedy that deliver all the laughs, it's the supporting cast that make you laugh till you want to barf. In this case, the supporting cast is Parker Posey and Chris Kattan as Adam and Steve's best friends respectively. The romance between Posey and Kattan - a couple of extroverted kooks who manage to be both endearing and uproarious - is often funnier than the primary plot line. So "Adam & Steve" veers into the sentimental sometimes - stop being such a darn cynic and watch the darn movie already. I laughed until it became painful and turned back into pleasure again. What more can I tell you? I laughed harder at this than I did at "The Simpsons Movie" which had just as much gay content as "Adam & Steve" now that I think about it. What are you doing still reading this review?? Run, drive, paddle or whatever and get this DVD - now!!
A Certain Sacrifice (1979)
it ain't THAT bad
Everyone knows the story behind this movie... made long before it's star - the one and only Madonna - was a star and it promptly went nowhere. When Madonna exploded into the world of stardom this movie was dusted off by its maker and released on video - no surprise there. Madonna was none too happy about it - no surprise there either. In a nut-shell, this is a no budget, indie, artsy flick in which Madonna's character is gang-raped and then wreaks a bloody revenge on her attackers. This film is almost always seen as completely atrocious... that Madonna's acting was something beyond terrible... and that the whole thing is just a piece of garbage. But let me tell you - I have seen a zillion independent, no budget, artsy, rape/revenge flicks and "A Certain Sacrifice" isn't much worse than any other. In fact, it might even be better than some I've seen... not much better, mind you, but it can hold it's head high as not the worst of the genre. It's no "I Spit On Your Grave," (which, actually, is probably the best in the rape/revenge genre of horror) but it ain't THAT bad.
Beware: Children at Play (1989)
Horay for birth control!
Are your kids holy terrors? Out of control? Are they about ready to make you tear your hair out and drive you into taking excessive doses of Valium? Pop this DVD in and you will feel so much better about your troubled, terrorizing toddlers.... after all, at least they haven't killed you (yet). Those who are childless but thinking they might like a precious babe or two will renew their birth control pill prescriptions or run and buy the biggest box of rubbers the drug store carries. For everyone else - well, my God... the title of this movie alone makes it worth seeing ten times over. You know how you hear old people say "Kids today..." as they shake their heads with disdain... well if those old-timers got a load of these kids they'd probably keel right over. If you're *still* not convinced... the film's stunning climax is, well... stunning. Trust me, I'm a grown up - it's those gosh darn kids that you need to beware of....
The Mother (2003)
Mommy ain't the dearest - but she sure can....
This is a great movie if you hate people.... I loved it. This well crafted piece succeeds in delivering a fairly original film that is utterly compelling and completely engrossing... and, yet, there isn't a character in this film that is remotely likable. I mean, the family portrayed in this film put the "func" in "dysfunctional." Actually, they put the "dysfunctional" in "dysfunctional." Imagine your recently widowed, senior citizen mother, who you can't stand, coming to stay with you.... and then carries on a very May-December romance with the builder working on your home! Well, not really a romance per se... no more like doing the big-time nasty-nasty whenever the opportunity arises. Oh yeah - and the builder boinking Mom is also boinking her thoroughly unpleasant daughter. Just when you think it couldn't get much more insane, the bitter, sour children find out about Mother's little (ahem!) affair via her sketchbook, which Mommy has been filling in with very crude, very explicit drawings of her builder and herself in various illicit sex acts - including one really crude piece boldly portraying her performing oral sex on the brawny builder. And you thought your mother was bad! Anne Reid, who portrays the mother, deserved some kind of award... when do you see a woman over 50 on screen, naked and engaging in very (I mean VERY) explicit sex scenes. I say good for her. If you went by mainstream media you'd never know that anyone over 50 ever has sex... unless it's in the context of a Viagra ad that reduces older people having sex as something humorous - something to be giggled at. Trust me, when you see Mother and young builder get it on, nobody will giggle.
The Watermelon Woman (1996)
obsession - super sweet!
There are themes and issues in this film that are obvious, but well defined and used - lesbianism, racism, interracial relationships.... and the ups and downs of working in a video rental shop. All that aside, I have to say that, for me "The Watermelon Woman" is all about obsession. Ah - obsession! The obsession in this case is our leading lady's obsession with a marginal black actress in black & white movies of days long gone by, credited in the films on as "The Watermelon Woman." Who was she... what was her real name... why was she someone to obsess upon? Our lovely leading lesbian begins a journey of body and mind to find the truth of the Watermelon Woman and her life. I tell you obsession is a wondrous thing... when you find something (or, if you're me, many things) to obsess on, your life will be filed with the richness of discovery.. and you'll never be a boring party guest. So, have a look at "The Watermelon Woman," who knows you may just find yourself obsessed. Super sweet.