Wednesday, November 16, 2011

365 Movies Day #198 "A Perfect World"

I'm a Kevin Costner fan, so I'm going to do a quick 3 part Costner flick marathon starting with one of my favorites. IN "A Perfect World", Costner plays an escaped convict who kidnaps a little boy to aid in his running from the law. What follows is a surprisingly touching, though disturbing at times, flick that is one of Costner's best performances of all time.

Costner is assisted in this piece of cinematic genius by Clint Eastwood, who plays the law man tracking Costner (Butch) down. Not only does Eastwood star, but also directs and he has proven himself a directorial genius over the years. This film is no exception. The film also features Laura Dern ("Jurassic Park"), Bradley Whitford ("The Good Guys" and "West Wing") and Ray McKinnon ("The Blind Side", "O Brother Where Art Thou", "Sons of Anarchy" and the new "Footloose").

Costner is really good at playing a troubled anti-hero. As good as he is playing a character with childlike innocence in films like "Silverado" and "The Postman". He really nails it here.


365 Movies Day #197 "Millennium"

I remember seeing this film YEARS ago and being enthralled with it. Over time, I had forgotten nearly everything about it, except that it was good. Luckily, while browsing through netflix instant the other day, I happened to stumble upon it. Upon re-watching it, it's actually even better than I remember.

Kris Kristofferson stars as an airline crash investigator who stumbles into some weird happenings during the course of his job. It seems people from a near apocalyptic future have been coming back in time to steal doomed passengers from crashing planes in order to repopulate their world. Cheryl Ladd is one hot future commando.

What ensues through the film, is not an action-packed romp, but a rather heady look at the paradoxes involved in time travel. Director Michael Anderson, better known for "Logan's Run", really knocks it out of the park with this one. The future he creates is just creepy at some points and even looks like something Clive Barker would have concocted.

Some other talent featured in the film include folks like Robert Joy, who plays a wise-ass version of C-3PO in the form of Sherman. Joy plays Dr. Sid Hammerback on "CSI:NY", Col Stevens in "AvP: Requiem" and one of the mutants in the "Hills Have Eyes" remake. Legendary character actor Maury Chaykin makes an appearance as well. He is known for his work on films like "Dances with Wolves", "BLINDNESS", "WarGames" and a host of television appearances. Chaykin passed away last year.


Sunday, November 6, 2011

365 Movies Day #196 "Session 9"

One of the fun things about this blog is how it leads me to new films when I journey back through a favorite director's career. Brad Anderson deeply impressed me with "THE MACHINIST" and I have heard so much about "Transsiberian" that I was compelled to watch one of his earliest flicks in the form of "Session 9". Once again, I am glad I made the journey.

"Session 9" is a mind-bending tale (much like "The Machinist") about an independent HAZMAT team and their mission to clean up an old mental institution. Of course, things go horribly wrong as secrets are uncovered, tensions run high, and madness spreads. An especially wonderful performance by Peter Mullan ("Trainspotting"). Also an early spotting for Brendan Sexton III ("The Killing" and another "Black Hawk Down" veteran). Taking a minute to talk about Mullan's partner David Caruso and his film career. Many people recognize him from "NYPD Blue" or his return to TV in his long stint on "CSI: Miami", but did you realize he served about equal time on its 80's predecessor "Hill Street Blues" or did you recognize him from the first Rambo flick? What about from Bruce Willis' notoriously crappy "Hudson Hawk"? Talk about some crazy career points! Also, this is a relatively early film for Josh Lucas ("The Lincoln Lawyer", "A Beautiful Mind", "Glory Road").

One of the great things about Anderson's film is the gradual way he eases you into madness like you were edging into a cold swimming pool. He masterfully controls and creates suspense and tension and uses some interesting choices in shooting and characterization that assist in heightening the creep factor. Definitely a must see!


365 Movies Day #195 "Rubber"

Why is this film on the list? No reason. But seriously, Scott Meeker suggested this to me and I was SO not disappointed watching it. It starts out completely slapping your brain around in what can only be described as a David Lynch comedy. This film is madness and surrealism defined to a point where you expect to hear someone announce "Oh, fishy, fishy, fishy, fish".

The film is about a mass-murdering tire who kills his victims by exploding them with his mind, his quest for love, and the other players attempts to destroy the audience to avoid an endless loop of insanity. Yep, it's an intellectual kick in the ass. The film features the talents of Wings Hauser (father of Cole Hauser from "THE HIT LIST", "Tears of the Sun" and "Pitch Black"), Ethan Cohn ("Gilmore Girls"), a top-notch hilarious performance from Stephen Spinella ("RAVENOUS"), Jack Plotnick ("Reno 911", "Drawn Together") and Roxane Mesquida of "Gossip Girl"...oh, and a brandless tire.

Director/writer Quentin Dupieux has established himself as the master of absurd. Don't try to make sense of it, just sit back and be amazed!!!


Saturday, November 5, 2011

365 Movies Day #194 "The Big Bang"

This one kind of sneaked out of nowhere and clubbed me over the back of the head. The box art looked promising, but being that it was an Antonio Banderas film I had heard almost NOTHING about, I was skeptical. What I got was a film that combined some of the best elements of several genres and films that I love into a whacky ride that is filled with a cool way.

Antonio Banderas plays a film noir detective, with a gift for witticism and barbed comments only outmatched by his knowledge of the obscure. The film is a cast of crazy characters played by some of my favorite actors in the industry that continue to compound the insanity. The film is wrapped up nicely despite all the chaos and left me hoping for more.

So what other films/sources does this remind me of. Well, it's everything I hoped "Give Em Hell Malone" might deliver, but didn't. In fact, I could have easily seen Thomas Jane in the Banderas role in this. It's also very reminiscent of Warren Ellis' insanely crude, psychotic and enjoyable noir detective novel about a PI who is a magnet for all things demented. While his book, "Crooked Little Vein" is a whole lot more disturbing, "The Big Bang" definitely captures some of it's feel. Ellis is more well known for his work on adult oriented comics like "Transmetropolitan" and "Hellblazer". Finally, the film ties in elements from another Thomas Jane flick and one we've talked about before in the form of "DARK COUNTRY". The visual effects and cinematography are incredibly similar and it definitely has that "Twilight Zone" feel to it, though "Dark Country" is definitely more on the serious/surreal side of the house.

As far as cast, Sam Elliot gives one of his most original performances as, basically a mad scientist hippie. Sienna Guillory plays the incredibly alluring portion of Banderas' quest for answers. She was last mentioned on here for her role as the female lead in "KISS, KISS, BANG, BANG". Autumn Reeser is hotter than a firecracker in this one with an incredibly steamy and intellectual love seen with Banderas. You may remember her as Lizzy Grant from "Entourage", Taylor Townsend from "The O.C." or Kaitlyn Tremor from "Smoking Aces 2".

The film opens with Banderas at the mercy of three rather formidable cops. All of which you should recognize. William Fitchner has been on the blog before with "FIRST SNOW", and "EQUILIBRIUM". He also deserves a mention for stuff like "Drive Angry" where he was the one redeeming part of the film, his roles on "Entourage" and "Prison Break" and "Invasion". This won't be the last time you hear about Fitchner. The ringleader of Fitchner's group is played by Thomas Kretschmann (Cross from action epic "Wanted" and also known for "Blade II", "Transsiberian" and "Valkyrie") while Delroy Lindo ("Domino", "Ransom", Ciderhouese Rules") rounds out the team. As for Banderas's "complications", he meets some crazy characters along the way. "Dawson's Creek"'s James Van Der Beek has a VERY memorable cameo. Veritable giant Robert Maillet ("Sherlock Holmes", "300", WWE's Kurrgan) acts as the catalyst for the whole story. Snoop Dogg is a porn director. Bill Duke ("Predator", "Battlestar Galactica", "Payback") provides some leads in typical badass Bill Duke fashion. Finally, Jimmi Simpson gives a brief but fantastic performance as Sam Elliot's brilliant, yet troubled assistant.

While director Tony Krantz is better known for his work as producer, of his 3 directorial efforts, this is his SECOND to appear on the blog. We first talked about Mr. Krantz for his film "SUBLIME" back on day 32.


365 Movies Day #193 "Lo"

Care to check out a charming, heart-warming tale of love...and DEMONS?! Also want to see a fine example of stretching your film-making dollar, by telling a fun compelling story that has the feel of a stage-play while still making sense and captivating your viewers? You DEFINITELY need to check out "Lo". Director Travis Betx proves himself as a visionary indy filmmaker by thinking totally outside the box to create this flick. A very small cast, driven primarily by three actors, very little in the way of sets and some cool make-up effects and it delivers!

The cast is pretty solid, made up of Ward Roberts, who plays a man so in love that he is willing to tangle with the forces of darkness to rescue the object of his affection. His Juliet is played by Sarah Lassez (who also teamed up with Betz on their recent endeavor "The Dead Inside" and the demon that holds her captive is played by Jeremiah Birkett.

Again, the story is great with some interesting twists and turns. It's a very personal movie and surprising funny and totally wonderful. Thanks to writer pal Sean Poindexter for pointing this one out to me!


365 Movies Day #192 "Soul Assassin"

Trailer provided by Video Detective

This one definitely falls into the category of "WHY THE HELL WASN'T THIS FILM MORE TALKED ABOUT?". It's every bit as cool as films like "Equilibrium" and definitely deserves the attention. It's a sci-fi film 'cyber-punkish' jaunt all about the potential evil of corporate greed (99% anyone?). Anyone who ever played the roleplaying game SHADOWRUN should love this flick.

Skeet Ulrich, who got his start in flicks like "The Craft" and "Scream", headlines as our show's hero. He's an up-and-coming exec type working in corporate security, but when he gets his break, he finds himself in WAY over his head in a conspiracy that will shake him and the entire globe to their very core. You may also remember Ulrich from his small, but memorable role in "As Good as it Gets" and his starring roles in two short-lived, but supercool series "Jericho" and "Miracles". Recently, he's been a lead on one of the new "Law and Order" shows.

The rest of the cast is made up of some familiar and talented faces like Kristy Swanson (the ORIGINAL "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" ), the amazing Rena Owen ("ONCE WERE WARRIORS" and Dutch actor Antonie Kamerling who had a small role in recently featured "MINDHUNTERS" and committed suicide in 2006.

0 It's just come to my attention that I haven't seen all of director Laurence Malkin's work, which as director only consists of two films. I will have to correct that post haste. If you dig sci-fi cyberpunk like "Blade Runner" and "The Matrix", DEFINITELY check this film out.


Friday, November 4, 2011

365 Movies Day #191 "13 Seconds"

For my low, LOW budget horror fans out there, this one is definitely for you! By the way, I'm playing catch up on the blog. By my count, with all the chaos in my life, I believe I have fallen behind by 24 films!!! I deeply apologize to those actually paying attention. This will be rectified shortly. That said, expect multiple posts per day for a bit. Anyway, back to "13 Seconds". It doesn't really star anyone who's done much of anything else and the director hasn't gone on to do anything really. Truthfully, it's not surprising. The acting and production value are bearable at best. Where the film comes in as a recommended view is in it's surprise story angle.

Normally with low budget horror of this caliber, it's just a chance to make fun of horrid effects and subpar filmmaking, BUT with this film, the story is surprisingly well developed. I suppose the lack of other positive qualities makes the twists that much better. You expect a let down and get a kick in the gut instead. Hats off to these guys for making a film with no money and no real production quality that still got my attention that I remember it 9 years later! Huge budget Hollywood flicks don't always stick with me like that.