Killing them softly is another mis-advertised film staring Brad Pitt. Quite famously Fight Club (1999) one of the greatest films ever made suffered at the hands of Fox’s marketing dept when they decided to promote it based solely on it’s name; and it came across as being in the same vein as Kick Boxer (1989)or Bloodsport (1988). So I avoided for years what would become one of my all time favourite movies; and the foundation for my entire political and ideological stance. When I finally saw it boy was I pissed.
However killing them softly’s mis-advertisement will operate in the opposite direction. The trailers seem to tout it as being some great gangster film and having all the trappings that come with it. This is sure to get bums on seats but as the showing I went to last night proved this is going to piss a lot of people off. Several patrons walked out before the end, including one who decided to stop just by the exit and share with the rest of us at the top of his voice that; this is a ‘fucking shit film’. But if I’m honest I don’t expect the general movie going public to respect a movie like this, after all they have spent years having their brain cells slowly whittled away by Bruckheimer movies and re-runs of Two and a Half men.
A little prudent research told me straight away that what I was going to see wasn’t what they where selling this as, so I tell you now Andrew Dominik directed this. He also directed The assassination of Jesse James by the coward Robert Ford (2007). One of the slowest movies I have ever seen, but also one of the best character pieces I’ve had the pleasure to watch in a long time. And that’s what we have here a character piece about the seedier side of life. There’s no glamour to this film it’s just dirty. It takes place in amidst the remains of once affluent American manufacturing towns. The landscape is dotted with dilapidated houses and empty lots; the streets are littered with garbage and abandoned furniture. Even the local crime boss lives on a trailer park. But the degradation isn’t just in the landscape everyone looks bad in this film, there’s no veneer of Hollywood. Brad Pitt looks old and tired, james Gandolfini is huge, and Russell played by Ben Mendleson looked so dirty I actually wanted to have a shower at the end of the movie. This aesthetic approach stretches even to the credits, Killing them softly’s title sequence and end credits look like they belong on a cheap Grindhouse movie, if you’ve ever done any movie slumming you’ll know what I mean. They reminded me of some of the old Golan-Globus stuff.
The film takes place during the 2008 American election and more importantly during the economic crisis we all found ourselves in. All through the film there are TV’s and radios dotted around and the subject of the broadcasts are always money and the economy, and that’s what this film is about money, and the death of the American dream. There’s always been a running theme through gangster films that America is the land of opportunity especially if you are willing to break the law Scarface (1932, 1983), Once upon a time in America (1984) and even more recent films like Lawless (2012) show this. But Killing me softly just comes out and says, crime is low down and dirty, it takes place in grubby seedy places and there’s nothing nice or glamorous about it America is dying even the criminal good life is no more than a myth.
Analysis aside will you like this film? Well you may find it hard going even I did, it plays a lot like a Coen Bros film. To me it felt like a cross between No country for old men (2007) and Fargo (1996) so gritty and brutal, but with the odd smattering of dark humour. And that the best way I can think to describe it. Personally I love the Coen’s work but I hate No country for old men, so what I’m trying to say is, I like this film but it took some hard work for me to enjoy it But I think you should give it a go it may prove to be rewarding.
If you’re not up for this then any of the films I’ve mentioned in here will be well worth a watch, however for sheer enjoyment just watch Fargo.
Yesterday I was supposed to be attending a preview of Looper, which I was looking forward to as I’m a huge fan of Rian Johnsons first film Brick (2005). But thanks to some fucktard interfering with my shit last night and costing me two days worth of meals I spent the evening in such a red haze that I totally forgot I had a ticket to the showing. So that’s two things I’m holding this dickleberry responsible for. Now I’m going to have to slope off to the cinema on my lonesome this weekend like the true geek that I am. So instead of writing about Looper as I had planned; I bring you Gyo Tokyo Fish Attack (2012).
I found this by accident last weekend, while I was walking through the supermarket buying the food that was destined to be ruined, initially the gaudy cover caught my eye and despite myself I had to have a look. At first I thought it was one of those Sharktopus vs something or another films, but after a closer look the cogs slowly started to turn; and I realised what I had was to awesome to comprehend. This is an anime of Gyo one of my favourite horror comics, by one of my favourite artists/authors; Junji Ito. I love it when they make films out of other stuff, Games, Comics, etc.
Junji Ito’s true masterpiece in my mind is Uzumaki; a series about a strange town in Japan where spirals take over, not a spiral monster, spirals the shape! So straight off get ready to expect the unusual from Gyo.
Gyo is about an army of dead fish with strange metal legs grafted on to them that suddenly start to invade Japan. These range from tiddlers to sharks and even a blue whale! Btw we later learn these fish are animated by the death stench, a sentient odour emanating from their rotting corpses. So yeah messed up.
The film kicks off with three friends holidaying in Okinawa when the spindle legged fish start to invade the land. Realising that the fish are heading to Tokyo Kaori and a reporter she meets head off to Tokyo to find her fiancé, who just so happens to have a famous scientist uncle that would be useful for the reporter to meet. What follows is best described as a post apocalyptic disaster movie, seen through the eyes of these five characters, as slowly one by one they fall victim to the fish, becoming infected with the same disease that afflicts the fish, and themselves ending up riding around on the walking leg devices.
In Japan a comic is given a limited number of pages in a larger monthly or weekly magazine, meaning that they are published in chapters. In order to keep the audiences attention these chapters need to be almost contained stories in themselves. And this shows in Gyo the film feels like a collection of vignettes, particularly the downright bizarre sequence featuring a circus tent in the middle of Tokyo. Having said that there is a definite larger story that does move forward around these smaller events, because after all that’s the way that the source material was organised.
The episodic nature of Gyo’s structure doesn’t damage the film because Gyo is about spectacle; you journey from one what-the-fuck moment to another, never really getting attached to any of the films characters. In fact I would say overall there are only really two of the five protagonists that you ever really get to care for. The characters are there because ultimately; this messed up shit has to happen to somebody! Personally I loved this film and not just because I’m a fan of Ito, if anything that would make me judge this more harshly. So I say sit down and get ready because shits going to get weird.
If your not in the mood for Junji Ito’s distinct brand of madness then I’m sorry to hear that; because he’s such a unique voice that the only other film I could suggest you watch in this films place is Uzumaki (2000) the live action adaptation of Ito’s masterpiece. Which is as previously mentioned also batshit crazy.
Holy Shit what the fucking hell is this turgid pile of crap, can Hollywood not make a good horror film anymore? When I first heard the name House at the end of the street I thought this was a remake of some long lost classic that had somehow escaped my attention. After all we had Last house on the left (1972), House by the Cemetery (1981), House on the edge of the park (1980), and various others, all of them on the UK’s video nasties list. But no, all my research turned up was the fact that this film was rated a PG-13 in America …..Fuck!!! that means it’s a 12a even though for some unexplained reason it managed to earn a 15 certificate in the UK, but I told myself that it would be ok; after all Woman in Black (2012) was a 12a and that nearly made me mess myself. Sadly all my fears were confirmed when I sat down to watch this abomination, this film sucks. The best I can do to describe The house at the end of the street is to liken it to an aborted foetus; spawned from a coupling between Dawson’s creek and a shitty horror film. I‘m wondering if this films writing process consisted of anything more than a couple of guys sitting down with their big book of Clichés jumping between the chapters marked teen drama and horror.
I mean this film has it all, a strained mother daughter relationship with no father on the scene. The young girl with the deep artistic soul, we know this because she plays acoustic guitar and sings the sort of soulless dross that passes for being deep and meaningful if you’re a douchebag. kinda like Joss stone only worse. Then we have the young damaged outcast living in the house his parents were murdered in. He writes don’t you know but only at dawn; because of some bullshit about that’s when he feels like he can get all the new ideas that will be born that day before anyone else…FUCK! is this fucking Dawsons creek. Oh yeah sorry you also have the popular Jock/fuck knuckle character the guy that makes the sensitive guys life hell, and tries to force himself on our heroine. The worst thing about this is the bastard doesn’t even die, normally this sort of cock is prime psycho fodder but no he gets off lightly with a permanent limp.
This film doesn’t even know what type of horror film it wants to be. It uses supernatural horror tropes only to switch to a psycho locked in the basement storyline, and then it ends up becoming a cross between Silence of the Lambs and Psycho, only shit. But that doesn’t matter because by the time we got to the last twist me and my friends had been asking each other how much longer until this ends for about 40 minuets, we basically couldn’t give a damn about what was happening we’d had enough; watching this shit was proving to be some sort of endurance sport. The only enjoyable thing about this film was that we all sat in the cinema and ripped on it, only it sort of deflates your insults when ten minuets later your shitty comment is proved to be accurate. That’s how cliché ridden this film is. As for it being classed a horror film, it’s the worst laziest form of horror film, where all the scares come from sudden jump moments and loud noises on the soundtrack, horror films need to be creepy, House at the end of the street is just tiresome and boring.
Seriously Fuck this film you want to watch a good modern horror with a low age rating then watch the excellent Woman in black, even Harry Potter couldn’t ruin it. If You want to watch a film with an address in the name then watch Lucio Fulci’s House by the Cemetery, a lot of the others on the video nasty list are a bit rapey so this ones the safe bet, although it does have some of the worst dubbing in the history of cinema, in the form of the young child Bob, but I think that’s part of its charm.
It’s been three years since Public Enemies (2009) and Johnny Depps excellent turn as legendary criminal John Dillinger, but at last it seems that the period crime film is making a return. First with Lawless and then eventually with Gangster squad which is currently being held in limbo thanks to the nutcase who shot up the Dark Knight Rises premier earlier this year. (Gangster Squad you see features a shoot out in a cinema as its climax, just another reason to hate that douche)
Lawless is the tale of the Bondurants, three bootlegging brothers who operated out of Franklin County Virginia during prohibition, their budding romances well at least for two of the brothers, And their run-ins with the law. Or more accurately with a corrupt special deputy who tries to get them to pay most of their earnings over to him. After having enjoyed years of being able to operate unmolested they take exception to this and to the men from the city turning up to oppress their entrepreneurial enterprise. And its this central theme that makes me like Lawless so much. I hate authority, and I hate it when authority tries to tell me what to do. Lawless is about the small fish standing up and fighting back against authority, no matter what happens to the Bondurants they pick themselves up and keep on going, and eventually win out over the men from the city. Nothing makes me happier.
About the only downside to lawless is the fact that Shia leBouf features quite prominently, but he’s playing a young cocksure kid who keeps causing trouble for his brothers, which is pretty much the role he always plays in one form or another. And as he’s had a lot of practise he pulls it off with aplomb.
Lebouf aside the rest of the cast put in some magnificent performances; especially Guy Peirce who gives us a master class in villainy, as the dandified Charles Rakes, an amoral tittering monster, and someone you will have no difficulty hating. Also of note is Tom Hardy as the guttural Forrest Bondurant who manages to convey entire conversations in short grunts, which for me was an inspired piece of characterisation. He plays the role like a large slumbering beast. He only speaks when needed and only acts; usually in great flurries of violence, when it’s absolutely necessary. And this film is violent, not action film violent but realistically violent. There are moments while beatings are being dealt that I flinched. These men operated in a dangerous industry and the brutality of their world is clearly displayed here, its part of who they are and an important part of understanding who the characters are, but more importantly I feel as though it’s never glorified violence.
Overall Lawless isn’t perfect. It features it’s fair share of clichés, and little niggling elements that some may not like, an obviously sacrificial character, hooker with a heart etc. But I personally can’t fault it. It’s been a while since I’ve really enjoyed a good crime film, and Lawless has filled a gap for me that I didn’t realise was there until something this good turned up.
If you’re not interested in watching the antics of a couple of moonshining good oldboys, but still want some period crime, then give The Untouchables (1987) a go instead. See what was going on in the cities while the Bondurants and their ilk were keeping America wet.
Stomm it’s Judge Drokking Dredd he doesn’t have a Cod piece and he keeps his Helmet on!!! I’ve been waiting for this ever since that Stallone travesty was forced on us in 1995, Rob Fucking Schneider seriously. But hey-ho lets forget that shit.
Dredd opens with a magnificent travelling shot that takes us through the cursed earth; the radioactive wasteland that covers most of the earth and into Mega City One, home to eight hundred Million people, one of the last bastions of mankind, and notorious shit hole. Mega City One as it’s presented in this film is interestingly low tech, it’s quite a departure from the city we find in the Stallone movie and comics. In Dredd Mega City One is an odd mix of shanty towns, slums, and the eponymous Mega Blocks, huge buildings that act as small cities in themselves.
Rather than describing it as a science fiction dystopia I‘m more inclined to attribute it to being an alternative view of the present; only a present in which the cold war resulted in Nuclear war. The most advanced piece of tech that we see in the whole film is the Judges Lawgiver gun and a character with bionic eye implants. Other than that there are no flying cars, lasers or robots, and it works, because the whole thing with this movie is that it’s been stripped down to its bare bones. It’s not epic, it’s not grandiose, its two judges fighting to survive against the odds. It’s an action film pure and simple.
Judge Dredd and Judge Anderson find themselves trapped in the Peach Tree’s Mega Block where most of the inhabitants are criminals out for their blood, while they in turn hunt down Ma-ma the ex hooker, gang leader, and drugs Kingpin that lives on the top floor. Yeah it’s just like The Raid (2011) only it’s not enough like The Raid! Don’t get me wrong I liked Dredd but when it finished I couldn’t help but feel like it lacked something, and having since watched other action films I’ve realised that it lacks punch, yeah it’s gory, explody, and shooty but none of it seems immediate it’s all a bit passive; like we are watching the action from a distance. A good action film puts you in the centre of a scrap. This just doesn’t have that emotional high that comes with a good action film. I’m a little disappointed but there is talk of this becoming a trilogy so here’s looking forward to the next two. It’s good and definitely worth a watch but it could have been better, if you want to watch something a bit more emotionally intensive then I suggest you sit down and enjoy The Raid.
Time for a classic movie as I haven’t really seen anything new this week. Although I’m hoping to remedy that with Dredd which I have to admit I’m slightly wetting myself to see. But that’s for another day.
So I finally sat through the whole of Scanners (1981); I usually don’t make it past the famous exploding head scene. This is not because the film didn’t capture my imagination. Ever since I saw Akira (1988) back in 1995 I’ve loved the idea of killer Psychics, it’s just that I’ve only ever seen this on TV, and it tends to get shown at stupid o clock. I’m getting old so my vitality starts to waiver after about fifteen minuets leaving me to wake up just as the credits start rolling. So I got myself a DVD copy instead.
Scanners is from those halcyon days when Cronenberg was at the height of his powers, when he was obsessed with disease, deformity, mans relation to machinery and the power of the mind. To distil it’s story to it’s most basic form Scanners is just a thriller. It’s about a secret underground terrorist group of psychics led by a man called Darryl Revok and a man called Cameron Vale who is sent to hunt them down, at the behest of a large American multi-national.
But it’s the content that makes this a classic Cronenberg film. All the classic Cronenbergisms are there; medical experiments, mixing the mind with machinery, the evolution of the human race through technology be it for good or bad, and extreme bodily destruction. Forget the exploding head wait until you see the final confrontation between Vale and Revok.
Talking of Revok, I loved the fact that we get to see a Younger Revok dealing with his powers by drilling a hole in his forehead; to unleash his third eye, it’s a nice touch of body modification. A simpler version of James Woods gun hand or chest Vagina in Videodrome (1983). And watching Scanners I feel like I can see Cronenbergs ideas growing, especially in regards to the relation of man and machine, in this film we see Vale speak to a computer with his mind, Videodrome was about our relation and interaction with TV and then later we had EXistenZ (1999) which was a similar tale but based around video games.
I concentrate on these elements because I do feel that we don’t really get to know the characters overly well, this film feels like the introduction to something. The start of a larger Franchise (I know there are sequels but Cronenberg didn’t have any input so I’ll ignore them) but that’s ok because too much exposition would have ruined the fast pace of the film. It really does move along quite nicely and never lags. We go from one spectacle to another, probably making this one of Cronenbergs most mainstream films, especially as he has left off the sex and analogies of sexually transmitted diseases in this film.
If you want to watch Cronenberg at his more risqué then give Videodrome or my personal favourite of his Shivers a go. But in all honesty if you’re looking for a good fantasy thriller, you can’t go wrong with Scanners. Also it’s a must for gorehounds and further proof that you can’t beat physical effects.