Here is the trailer!
Just saw Life.
F**k me it was great. Highly doubt it will become a cult classic as its nothing ground breaking for the genre but that ending was fantastic. Thoroughly enjoyed myself throughout
I saw The ABCs of Death 2, and it was much more better than the first !
The Woman Avenger (1980)
I’ve been looking for an oldschool kung fu movie with a female protagonist for a while, and I finally found this mound of junk! It’s actually surprising that this film came out in 1980 - it looks like something that was made in the late 60s with the grainy 16mm film, the choppy action sequences, and the highly improvised look. If it weren’t starring a woman, I doubt there would be anything remarkable here…it’s pretty much your boiler-plate revenge story interwoven with Buddhist morality stories and little tableaus where the Sifu abuses the student, but I have a soft spot in my heart for all the orphaned trash movies of the earth, so I’m happy to adopt this lovely lady.
Also: Who wore it better?
Painted Faces (1988)
Sammo Hung is one of those extremely prolific creators whose work you’ve likely seen but whose name you probably don’t know. He was raised in a theatre troupe with (not yet) superstar Jackie Chan, and the two of them made several movies together in the 1980s…but this is NOT one of them. Painted Faces is a memoir of Sammo’s childhood in the Peking Opera school, and it does an incredible job of showing off a moment in Chinese history and culture through the eyes of a traditional acrobatic troupe. This is a quiet little indie movie with a lot of heart, and - unlike my usual faire - it’s genuinely good. If you can find this one, watch it with your mom - there’s a strong likelihood you’ll both cry.
In terms of movies I hadn’t seen before, the two most recent ones for me were Babette’s Feast and 8 1/2.
I loved the first, but it took awhile to grasp the second. By the end I could appreciate it, but I don’t know that I would rank it as high as most people seem to.
Honestly, I never got the big deal with 8 1/2…a lot of the really famous art movies from the mid 20th century are a little too realistic in the sense that they succeed in capturing everyday life but fail in presenting us with anything beyond the mundane. I’ve tried to watch that particular Felini classic 3 different times, and I STILL can’t tell you a single thing that happens in that movie, and I’ve decided to stop calling it a ‘me’ problem and start putting the blame on the filmmakers. One word review of Eight-and-a-Half: BORING.
Hope that made you feel better
Thanks. That does help. I have wondered if part of the issue is my inexperience with the details of filmmaking … if it is those familiar with those details that better understand something like 8 1/2. It wasn’t the mundane aspect that turned me off, but the style. I find many art films pretentious and think the technique gets in the way of the story. So, in viewing 8 1/2, once I got into a mode where I could look past the style and see the story, it got better for me.
But, in the end, I’m with you. I wouldn’t rate it high.
@ Resha Style over substance is definitely something that bothers me. Tim Burton comes to mind (good art design is not a replacement for a script, Tim!) along with a number of avant garde movies that are too clever for their own good. There’s nothing horribly wrong with slow moving films or movies that are hyper naturalistic; Gummo was both, but it was also exceedingly memorable (and pretty disturbing). For pure technique, sloggy arthouse classics aren’t necessarily the best teachers; I’d definitely point toward Kubrick and Hitchcock if you’d like to learn more about the anatomy of cinema.
My Young Auntie (1981)
Are we sensing a theme? Yep - I’m gulping down the archives of pre 1990s Kung Fu movies as quickly as I can with an emphasis on female performers, so I’ve got another Hong Kong classic for you: Directed by Chia Liang-Liu (who was working in Kung Fu movies from the 1950s until 2003!!), My Young Auntie is one part goofy comedy, one part cultural discussion, one part Kung Fu, and all charming. It’s a little ridiculous, some of the jokes don’t translate, some just don’t land, but that charm is so irresistible that you’ll have fun watching this movie even if you get to the end and think “that was kind of stupid.” It’s like Mel Brooks had a head-on collision with The Woman Avenger and this is the aftermath. If you ever wanted to watch a woman prat fall in high heels while kung fu fighting, this is the one for you!
Interesting. I’m not a fan of Tim Burton either, and I’ve often wondered if he ruined one of my favorite actresses. I liked Helena Bonham Carter when she was young, but then she married Burton and ever since she has been … very strange.
I also love Hitchcock, but I’ve never watched his films to observe the craft - just for entertainment. I’ll have to go back and look again. As far as Kubrick goes, I liked The Killing, but that’s about it … though I’ve not watched a lot of his work.
Martial Arts films aren’t my thing. My son likes them, but so far the only intersection we’ve agreed on is Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon … and, I suppose, The Karate Kid if that counts. But since you recommend My Young Auntie, maybe I’ll take a look.
@resha it’s hard to know whether to recommend films to people since - especially with martial arts movies - they’re going to be hit and miss depending on which elements you’re interested in. My Young Auntie is a ton of fun, but you definitely have to be prepared for something microbudget and very odd.
For pure punching, kicking excellence, Thailand is my favorite country, and Chocolate is my go-to recommendation. The plot is nonsense - don’t worry about it…just watch Jeeja Yanin. Every movement is poetry
Well, that comment just made it all worthwhile. It seemed obvious once you said it, but I’ve never really considered looking at a film genre specifically for it strengths and putting the rest aside. So, it makes perfect sense that if one wants to learn about choreographing a good fight scene, martial arts films would be the place to look.
The Lost Boys (1987)
Note Bill S Esquire on the far right
An 80s classic that emphatically does NOT deserve its place in the pantheon as far as I’m concerned. It’s basically a wholesome after-school special unceremoniously welded to a vampire movie, and the combination is…jarring. A struggling single mother with two sons moves to a new town, and the boys have trouble adjusting. Michael - the older brother - decides he wants to try his hand at YOUTH CULTURE which causes him to drive fast, develop some serious 'tude, and fall in love with (apparently) the only girl in town. Little does Mikey know that - by refusing to be wholesome - he’s actually transforming himself into a VAMPIRE. They even have this ridiculous “just say no” sequence where the cool guys peer pressure Mike into eating bugs and drinking a mysterious liquid. …and when he transforms into a vampire, he ACTUALLY dreams they’re talking him into jumping off a bridge. This thing has all the subtlety of being smacked with a shovel, and I’ll have a spade-shaped imprint on my face for the next month!
There are some rad vampire fights later on in the movie, and the special effects are pretty neat (as you know - I LOVE 80s horror!), but these moments are definitely not worth wading through the Saved by the Bell levels of writing in the rest of the movie. Watch the South Park parody - it’s the same story done 4x shorter and 100x better.
Since the last movie I watched was a bit of a downer, please accept this video of first lady of Chinese martial arts Angela Mao Ying handing out a ration of facial kicks to some evil Japanese invaders!
Watched the new Beauty and the Beast. And it was beautiful. I would totally recommend it if you haven’t seen it.
Hansel and Gretel Get Baked (2013)
What a ridiculous little slice of B movie heaven! It’s the good old fashioned child abuse story we all know and love mixed with some seriously sinister horror and some seriously stupid stoner comedy. A teenage girl named Gretel and her burnout boyfriend run out of weed one sunny afternoon and send Boy-toy to an old woman’s house to get more. The old lady - of course - is a cannibalistic witch with an enchanted forest of marijuana plants and a murderous desire to suck the precious youth out of her victims. There are definitely a couple of eye-rollingly stupid moments in this movie, but the jokes are funny, the horror is on point, and - except for a couple of lousy CG shots at the end - the effects are awesome. This is exactly the kind of movie that works for a party, so rent it with a couple of friends and your favorite libation, and you’ll have a great time.
I saw The Promise yesterday. Not a great film, and that’s too bad as it’s one of the few about the Armenian genocide and I like Oscar Isaac … especially in his role as Joseph for The Nativity Story.
Just watched Paprika. That was a mind-bending experience…
TCM is showing creature features lately, so I managed to catch two classics:
KIng Kong (1933)
It’s hard to talk about something this integral to film history…there’s no way to know what I’d think about King Kong if I found it in the wild with no preconceived notions, but let’s give it a go: The effects are astonishingly good, but I absolutely HATE the story. It opens with a fake proverb, “And lo! The Beast looked upon the face of Beauty, and it stayed its hand from killing. And from that day, it was as one dead.” This is the main theme of King Kong - the beating heart of its plot: Male excellence is fragile in the presence of sexy ladies. The writers obviously thought they were on to something since they repeat it so much, but it’s the sort of “men are from mars” contrivance that would be barely acceptable in a 5 minute standup routine, let alone the basis for an entire screenplay. I try to keep these short, so I’l leave it there, but - suffice to say - I did NOT enjoy this indispensable classic…and that’s a shame. I really wanted to love the original monster film.
Masura, on the other hand, was fantastic! While studying a nuclear test site, a group of government scientists bump into a pair of tiny, magical women who they kidnap and force to perform in public for profit (ala King King). But they are not alone; the twins sing a sacred song that hatches the egg of Queen Mothra, and the monster comes to rescue them. Aided by a rag tag team of journalists, the twins escape and attempt to unite with Mothra and return home. Japanese monster movies from this period have a really particular style…the cheesy miniatures can be a little laughable at times. But if you just relax and let the story carry this movie, there’s a lot of great stuff here. I highly recommend this one any time you’re looking to pop in a creature feature.
Also, Mothra has a theme song…does King Kong have a theme song? Check - mate.
Any movie that can drag me in enough to make me cry is a good one in my book.
So too the guardians of the galaxy volume 2.
Colourful, charismatic and fun.
5 after credit clips seems a bit outrageous but they’re good credits so keep your ass in your seat