Saturday, November 3, 2012

365 Movies Day #225 "You Kill Me"

I love hit man movies. There is something about someone who makes a living killing people for a living that is so taboo yet so romanticized as to be fascinating. One of my favorite films of all time which I will probably mention in the blog at a later date is "Grosse Pointe Blank". It's a near flawless execution of a sweet 80s love story combined with an action packed mob thriller with interesting dialog, interesting casting choices and a great story. "You Kill Me" comes damn close to being as good as "Grosse Pointe Blank" in my opinion. The only point where it falls behind is action (and an amazing soundtrack), but it more than makes up for that with story.

Ben Kingsley ("Sexy Beast", "Schindler's List", "Iron Man 3") plays Frank Falenczyk, a hired gun for the Polish mob in New York. When his drinking problem gets in the way of his assassination of an Irish boss played by Dennis Farina ("Snatch", "Out of Sight", "Saving Private Ryan"), his mob family stages an intervention, sending him to San Francisco to recover with the help of AA. Veteran character actor Philip Baker Hall ("Bruce Almighty", "The Insider") plays Kingsley's boss and uncle. The hitman's cousin and best friend is adeptly played by Marcus Thomas who reminds me somewhat of Mads Mikkelsen. He was also in "KILL THE IRISHMAN"

Once in San Francisco, not excited about his forced recovery, Frank runs into his handler/babysitter, featuring a very quirky performance by Bill Pullman. While best known for roles in "ID4" and "Lost Highway", Bill is no stranger to the blog with "ZERO EFFECT" and who can forget him from "Spaceballs" or "Serpent in the Rainbow". This is a different role for him and one I really dug him in.

As he works to clean up his act, Frank runs into an advertising agent who doesn't take no for an answer in the form of Tea Leoni. I have always found Mrs. Duchovney striking and this role is no exception. Breaking a lot of conventions of Hollywood storytelling, Leoni seems so desperate for an honest man and so lost in her own alienation that Frank's dark profession barely phases her. My favorite Leoni films are "Deep Impact" and "The Family Man". In addition, Luke Wilson plays a typical Luke Wilson character in the form of highly effective AA sponsor, Tom. Luke has been on the blog before with "SOUL SURVIVORS" and "IDIOCRACY". The film basically follows these quirky characters with their exceptionally funny dialog through Frank's treatment and ultimate return to doing what he loves best, killing with precision. It's a great film and a wonderful story from director John Dahl ("Californication", "Dexter", "Rounders").


Friday, November 2, 2012

365 Movies Day #224 "Pontypool"

While we are on the subect of zombie films, this is a shining example of how to do indy horror right! Take a very small, but highly talented cast, put them in one location and then let them sell the horror. You barely even see the "zombies" in this film and it delivers on so many levels that modern gore infested zombie flicks can't touch.

Set in the small Ontario town of Lake Pontypool in the dead of winter, new local talk radio sensation Grant Mazzy is headed into work like any other day. Grant is played by uber-talented Stephen McHattie who should be a household name and could definitely play a brother to both Lance Henriksen and Robert Patrick. Horror fans will recognize him from recent release, "The Tall Man", but he's had smaller roles in "Immortals", "300", "2012", and "The Watchmen" (Hollis Mason) as well as guest star roles on popular series like "Fringe". His producer is played by Lisa Houle, who tries to rein Mazzy in to appeal to a smaller listening audience. Georgina Reilly plays their tech who is a military veteran as well.

What starts out as another slow day in a slow town at their radio studio in the basement of an old church turns deadly when one of their roving reporters tells them that people are storming a local doctor's office and eating people...tearing them apart. What follows is, for the most part, the reaction of those trapped inside the station to what is going on around them. The explanation for the outbreak is highly original and creative...not to mention scary as it leaves you wondering if it could actually happen.

I highly suggest this film to any fans of horror and suspense. It's not very gory at all and plays more on the intellectual side of horror. Also cool for zombie fans who want to see a different take on the genre. Hats off to director Bruce McDonald for this one!


365 Movies Day #223 "Deadheads"

This is a zombie comedy worthy of "Shaun of the Dead", "FIDO" and "Zombieland". It's also a creative take on the zombie genre as the heroes of the story are actually zombies! The premise is that a government program has been implemented to create zombies as bio-weapons. Most of the zombies released in a test on a small town in America are the typical shambling undead of Romero lore. However, an odd strain of the zombie formula has left some of the zombies with full intelligence and memories of their former lives as well as motor skills. However, they are still rotting walking corpses with a taste for human flesh.

Michael McKiddy, who is a dead ringer for "Firefly's" Alan Tudyk, plays Mike. Upon waking up as a zombie all he can think of is getting back to the love of his life, played by the lovely and talented Natalie Victoria (always nice to see an actress in an indy horror film who can ACT!). Mike's partner in crime and fellow zombie is the free and ever-joking Brent played by Ross Kidder. Together with their pet zombie Cheese (Markus Taylor) the three set out to get Mike's girl back!

However, they must survive extermination from the government in the form of the program's director played by veteran TV actor Leonard Kelly-Young, escaped inmate turned government merc Thomas Jeremiah played by Thomas Galasso and two bumbling government employees played by Greg Dow and Benjamin Webster.

There are a lot of bad zombie movies out there, but "Deadheads" is refreshingly good. If you are a fan of the genre, definitely check it out! Directors (and brothers) Brett and Drew Pierce nail it with this flick. Makes me want to check out Brett's previous zombie/vampire film "Dead/Undead" on netflix ASAP!


365 Movies Day #222 "I Melt With You"

I promised more Thomas Jane and it took a bit, but here he is. This film is a rather compelling dramatic piece about a group of old college buddies who get together every year to relive their youth. However, on this occasion, they may be forced to make good on a deadly pact made between each other years ago. The film stars Thomas Jane, of course who has been featured in so many films on this blog like "THURSDAY", "STANDER", "DARK COUNTRY", "KILLSHOT" and most recently mentioned "PUNISHER: DIRTY LAUNDRY". His college pals are played by some uber talented folks. Jeremy Piven of "Entourage" makes his debut to the blog with this film. This is also Rob Lowe's first time on the blog as well as Christian McKay.

This is an incredibly disturbing and moving piece. These four guys have lives that are falling apart. They haven't achieved anywhere near what they had hoped and dreamed. In fact, they are riddled with dark secrets, dangerous addictions and failed relationships. You feel for them and to some degree or another, you identify with them, which makes the conclusion of the film that much more gut-wrenchingly powerful.

Director Mark Pellington ("Arlington Road", "Mothman Prophecies") really delivers on this film!