Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Quick Reviews: Tale of Tales (2015)

After getting a glimpse of this one awhile back, I had to come back for the rest.  Let's see what is up with this French/Italian/U.S. Production...
The Film is made up of 3 mostly-separate Tales that exist in the same world.  Let's break it down (without SPOILERS)...

In Story 1, a desperate King and Queen (John C. Reilly and Salma Hayek!) take the advice of a Mystic and seek the heart of a Sea Monster in order to induce pregnancy.
After they get it (with some cost), Hayek does the only natural thing to get knocked up...

She and the Maid who cooked it both get pregnant, leading to an issue with the two kids.

In Story 2, a horny King (Vincent Cassel) falls in love with a woman he only hears the voice of.
Unfortunately, the woman turns out to be one of these old Seamstresses.  Desperate to get him, the pair go through some strange tricks.  Will they succeed?
In Story 3, a King is distracted from the performance of his daughter by...a flea?
He takes it as a pet, but that is only the beginning of the Story.  By the end, it involves a Marriage Ritual, a monster and some Circus Folk.

I won't SPOIL any more of this though.  The End.
Weird, dark stuff.  The Film is put together in an interesting way.  You don't get Story 1 start to finish and then Story 2.  Instead, the Stories flow in unison.  You'll see a chunk of Story 1, some of Story 3, a little Story and so on.  The Stories are not all that connected though.  I can only imagine it had to do with Scheduling and Budgetary issues.  It would have been neat to see them more directly sync up- like having Hayek meet with Cassel, for example- but maybe we'll get that in Tale of Tales 2.  I'd call it Another Tale of Tales- feel free to use that one.  As far as this one goes, let's break them down.  Story 1 (with Hayek) is nice and dark.  The pay-off is not quite what you'd expect, which is nice.  Story 2 is strange and quirky, but takes a dark turn near the end.  Story 3 is a weird journey from strange to very, very dark.  If I had to pick one, I probably liked the overall Arc of Story 3 the best.  I do like the overall Effects best in Story 1.  Story 2 mostly serves a fun, quirky break between the other Stories, so there really isn't a 'weak link' here.  The Film is all over-the-place tone and story-wise, but it worked for me.  Now- who's hungry?
Damn weird and interesting stuff.  If you like dark Fairy Tales, this is a must-see.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Quick Reviews: When Animals Dream (2014)

When one person tells you that you'll like the Film, while another tells you that you won't, you kind of have to see it, right?
In a small Town in Denmark, this young woman is being tested by a Doctor for genetic issues that her mother has.
To help pay for her bills, she gets a job working with Herring.  To say that the atmosphere is not generally-friendly would be an understatement.
She does find one guy who's nice to her and makes her happy.  Can it last?
As things in her life change, so does her condition.  What exactly is happening to her?
Will her Father's concern be enough to help keep her (and everyone else safe)?
Or will the young lady's malady prove to be too dangerous for anyone to control?  To find out, watch the Film.  The End.
Dark, but good stuff.  The biggest thing the Film has going for it is its slow, building dread.  It really does make you feel like something bad is coming.  It truly is a slow burn.  That is the problem: it is a really slow burn.  I stuck with it (obviously), but I can see how some people may not.  The Tone is also quite bleak, which will hurt the Audience a bit too.  It is all done well though, so I'm good with it.  If you can stick with it, you get some good make-up work, some good Character Development and it all pays off pretty well.  They do leave some things a bit open, but I don't know if that is more about them wanting to make a Sequel or just being artistically-vague.  I recommend the Film if you like the more arty-kind of Horror.  Just remember that there are side effects besides just being a bit moody...
Nice, moody stuff.  It is a bit slow at times, but it is worth it all in the end.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Twin Piqued: Beyond Life and Death

As the Sun rises, we share one final day in the freaky Town of...
The Finale!  Shit!  Oh well, let us get to the crazy and see how things wrap up...
Important Stuff
- Cooper and company plan their next move, while Andy and Lucy finally hook up for real now.  Finally!

- Windom Earle takes Annie to Ghostwood and she enters The Black Lodge with him!  Freaky effect.
- After some head trauma, Nadine suddenly regains her memories of her old life...right as Big Ed and Norma are now going to hook up.  Should I feel bad or good for Mike Nelson?

- Ben Horne makes all sorts of drama at the Doctor's House and gets struck against the wall in response.  Mega-Acting galore here.

- In a strange joke, we see that Leo is still being tortured.  Ha, I guess.

- Cooper deciphers the Map and heads to the same location.  While Truman stays behind (at Cooper's behest), he enters the area in a similar manner.  He finds the Red Room, the Giant and the Backwards-Talking Man...among other ghosts of the past.
- In the real World, Windom Earle speaks through Mrs. Palmer at the Diner, while Shelly and Bobby talk of marriage.  Who's the random German Girl though?

- Elsewhere, Donna locks herself to the Vault Door to protest the Ghostwood deal.  Kudos to Lynch for the long, long take here.

- At the same Bank, Pete and Andrew Martell use the mysterious key to open a Safety Deposit Box...which contains a bomb.  We see glasses fly away, but no clear evidence of their (and Donna's) fate.  Of course, the 2 Actors are sadly no longer with we'll see how they handle this.

- Now the really crazy part(s).  Killer BOB shows up, Laura screams (see far below), Windom Earle shows up (see far below again), we get a look at Ray Wise (now with black hair again) and, finally, Cooper is pursued by his evil double.

The latter catches up to the former and seems to have taken over, leading to this iconic moment...
Sorry 1991 Audience- you're still waiting for closure!  I (sort of) feel your pain.
With so much insanity (it is a Lynch Episode, after all), there is still a Theme.  It is Transformation/Change...

- Bobby seems like he wants to really settle down.
- Andy and Lucy seem to have turned into a normal couple.
- After getting hit in the head, Nadine is back to her Season 1 self.
- In The Black Lodge, we see people transformed for better or for worse.  Ray Wise is back to normal(ish), while Laura is this freaky creature.  Cue GIF...
- The big one, obviously, is Cooper being transformed into a freaky, crazy version of himself controlled by his evil half.  Cue GIF (and lightning)...
Damn- I'd be pissed if I was left hanging this long.
Weird Moment(s)
With all the Black Lodge stuff, it is hard to pick one moment.  Is it all the backwards-talking?  The freaky expressions?

Hell, how about this random Jazz Singer guy who shows up, sings and vanishes?
In addition, Andy has some weird, deadpan schtick with Truman...but nothing will top this.

Crazy-ass shit!  How else do you describe it?  Cooper and Earle enter through a magic drape, meet some freaky people and one of them comes out evil.  It is just plain crazy.  Even if you don't count this, you get the mega-acting in the bit with Dr. Hayward, the stuff with Nadine and the sudden cliffhanger with the Martell Brothers.  This Episode certainly left alot of stuff open too, for better or for worse.  It is a shame that this one didn't get a proper Ending...assuming that Lynch wanted one.  Let's be honest: he might have been happier this way.  After all, he took his chance to follow up the Story and made a Prequel Film instead.  I'll touch more on that one after I see it.  Sorry, Mr. Lynch, but I'm watching the Story in MY order, not your's.  In any case, the Episode gives you plenty to think about, ponder and just generally be confused by.  This is Twin Peaks, so what else is new?  The Show was always best when balancing the absurd, the freaky and the funny.  While there's not *much* of the latter here (the long take aside), the Episode still delivers quite well.  I get why people were upset and wanted more...but I still liked this one all the same.  While I'm sad to be done with the Show, I can at least use this Picture that I've been holding onto for like 3 months now.  Enjoy...
With all of the current Episodes covered, it is time to recap.  Stay with me while I overly-analyze, won't you?  See you then...

Friday, September 25, 2015

Rare Streaming Flix: Cannibal Holocaust 2- The Catherine Miles Story

Since I don't speak Russian, I had to go with Plan B.  As it turned out, it was...not so great, but better than it sounded (but just barely).  Today's Film is Cannibal Holocaust 2: The Catherine Miles Story, a 1985 Film known by many different names.  It took more work to come up with all of the alternate Titles than to write the Script.  Also known as Amazonia, it tells the fictitious Story of Catherine Miles- duh.  Who is she?  Well, nobody.  In context of the Story, however, she was captured by Cannibals, lived for a year and then did something bad.  Is this at all like Ruggero Deodato's Classic?  It sure does use their music, if that helps.  To find out more, read on...
B\A lovely, rich family goes out boating.  It's not a 3-Hour Tour is it?
Instead, the Parents are both killed via dart guns, while Catherine is poisoned.

A Villager shows up and takes Catherine to his Tribe...but only after decapitating the pair.
Life in the Tribe is rough, but thankfully-sparse on ritualistic animal slaughter.

We still get the 'Amazonians paint their faces white' trope though.
I have to discuss how convoluted this Narrative is, by the way.  We see Catherine interviewed by a Reporter, who proceeds to ask about the Trial.  The Film then cuts to the which she re-tells the Story of her year in captivity.

So did she tell him this whole thing too or...I don't know anymore.  Moving on...
Animal Stock Footage- check.
As the Film progresses, Catherine sees some White Hunters and talks about how evil they are.  She is saying this to the Villager who bought her as a Slave.  The same Village which 'took her cherry' without her consent.

You know what perspective is, Catherine?
Things take a turn when the Villager- who has learned English- tells her that the Villagers didn't kill her Parents- her evil Relatives did.

Maybe they did, but why does she automatically-believe him with no evidence?  You not bright, girl!
She kills the pair in their bed and decides to leave the Village afterwards.  This leads back to the Trial- finally!
In the aftermath, they do their best to make this fake tale seem real with staged Police Footage (above) and the 'Hey, Don't Shoot Here' Trope supposedly showing the real Catherine.

Oh, so it is your fault that we got The Fourth Kind.  The End.
Eh, not bad.  The Film is pretty 'by the numbers' and really not that engaging.  Part of the problem is the convoluted Narrative.  Why can't you tell this Story in order?  If you want it to seem real, don't show me obviously-fake footage showing what supposedly-happened to Catherine.  If you want it to be more engaging, don't complicated matters!  It wants to have its cake and eat it too, as the cliche goes.  It doesn't really succeed at seeming real, so it is alot of effort gone to waste.  Oh well.  All I can figure is that this was done to compensate for the lack of big, bold moments that you really expect in these.  There's not much gore here and there's really not any sensuality on-screen.  There is plenty of Nudity, but it is nothing special.  No Ursula Andress, no sale.  Is this a Cannibal Holocaust Sequel?  With the 3rd Act Plot Twist, it at least takes on the slightly-META tone of that Film.  It lacks the punch and sharpness of said Film, so I'm going with 'no.'  I hope that the other 'Sequel' does a better job.  You know what is ironic though?  The Film literally did cast a Savage- Deborah Savage!
Next up, I tackle an old movie with a far-out premise.  Hey- you got your Military in my Werewolf movie!  Stay tuned...

Lost in Translation: The Green Inferno

With all of the hype (good and bad) about Eli Roth's new Film, let's see how it was marketed elsewhere...
This looks nothing like the Film!

Who are these people in the Raft?  Where are the Girls?  Who's that Native?  What is the backwards-running Waterfall from Anaconda doing here?

Where is the obvious Jingoism?!?

For shame, Poster.

(p.s. This is actually for the 1988 Film sometimes called The Green Inferno.  Ain't I a stinker?)

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

WTF Again Japan?!?: Death Note- The last Name

At long last, the conclusion.  Well, unless you count that weird, spin-off Film.  Today's Film is Death Note II: The Last Name (sometimes without the number), which concludes the overall Story of L vs. Kira.  To recap, Light has a magic book which lets him kill people, but L is trying to catch him.  He has managed to fool everyone for the time being.  In Japan, the Films were released in May and November of 2006, respectively.  Here- you don't have to wait nearly that long!  Well, except for the nearly 10 years for me to actually post them.  In this Film, the Plot thickens, but thankfully in a not-too-convoluted manner.  I've spoken before about how the last section of the Anime got WAYYYYY too complicated and confusing to really follow.  Does the Film provide the proper Climax that this Story deserves?  To find out (sort of), read on...
In the wake of his girlfriend's death and his seeming-exoneration, Light is working to catch Kira...which he is.  Life is funny sometimes, huh?
While L still distrusts him- rightly, but with no reason at this point- a new series of killings starts to happen.  It isn't Light, so who is it?
It is Misa (not blond here), who was saved by a Shinigami and has fallen in love with Light.  She will help him kill L!
When things start to turn against him, Light makes a confusing gambit with the two Shinigami and a third party.

On the plus side, there's no Near, Mello or confusing Plots with the Mafia.  Yea!
As L gets closer to the truth, will it spell his end or lead him to victory?  Yes.
Will Light get his wish or will all of his pretty-evil dreams be dashed?  To find out, watch the Film.  The End.
A solid, if familiar conclusion.  Is it wrong to point out that this one doesn't change things up too much?  I mean, I know that it is just another adaptation of the Story.  I'd probably get super-pissy if they changed too much, wouldn't I?  I'd be like those guys online who hate this Film since the Inspector doesn't have a Mustache and Misa is not blond.  One problem is that seeing Plot Points that seemed silly one time for a second time only accentuates things.  What are the odds that L would go after Misa right after she sees him (which he didn't plan for)?  Why does he not ever trust Light when he has no reason to think that he's guilty?  Why does he think that fake things that he can't possibly know are fake are, well, fake?  L is mostly-handled well, but there are times when he is a bit like the Bat-God Trope that has plagued Comics for the last few Decades.  He continues to do and think things in spite of the Plot, which is kind of a cheat.  Regardless, the overall Film is still quite good and does the Story justice.  It is nice to see the stuff that I thought was excessive from the Anime excised from the run-time.  With a new Show, they are probably back, right?  I'll let Bob deal with that one...
Next up, I finally get around to dealing with my rapidly-shrinking YouTube Film 'Queue.'  When in doubt, go with a Remake that nobody remembers.  Stay tuned...

Monday, September 21, 2015

New Flix: Annabelle (2014)

Are you happy yet, Maynard?  Today's Film is Annabelle, the corporate-mandated Prequel to The Conjuring.  Why does it exist?  To make money.  Am I jaded?  Maybe.  Is James Wan Directing this one?  No.  In his place, the Director of Mortal Kombat: Annihilation and The Butterfly Effect 2.  It clearly isn't a good idea to give him Sequels!  Are Prequels alright though?  Does it help if they are only tangentially-connected?  The Film tells the tale of how a Doll became a Doll inexplicably-channeling a Demon.  I hope you like some generic James Wan-style (that's a thing now, right?) Horror.  To find out if this Film is anything more than a cash grab, read on...
Let's rehash the Intro of The Conjuring to remind you of The Conjuring!  You liked that, right?

Well, here's something unrelated that nobody really requested instead!
This loving Couple is nothing like those folks from Insidious.  After all, they only have one kid (on the way).

Of course, the Husband does work all day, the Wife wanders and Ghosts seem drawn to her (and her alone), but...different enough, I guess.
Foreshadowing the rise of 60's-set Crime Fiction (thanks, NBC!), 2 crazy not-Manson Family Members show up at their home.  The lady- Annabelle- apparently runs into a room, sets up a spirit-channeling mark, cuts her wrists and lays against the wall while holding the doll...

...all within about 45 seconds.  That's some kind of Satanic Record, right?
After the evil spirit starts a popcorn fire that leads to our Heroine giving birth, it then waits 6 months, lets them move, lets them toss out the Doll and then somehow puts it back in their Moving Box.

This Spirit is both precise and very patient (especially considering its end-game!).
Annabelle manages to merge the Ultimately-Useless Spiritualist Character with the Magical Black Person Character in this not-Viola Davis Character.
Holy Insidious, Batman!
Will this super-convenient Book provide the answers necessary to save the day?

Or will evil win this time?
...of course, we know that Annabelle ends up with some Nurses and then locked up in a basement of some Ghost Hunters, so...not so much suspense.  The End.
Dolly not-so-dearest.  This one is kind of like a James Wan, but with even less effort.  Hell, the stuff that Insidious did to be 'different' is just repeated here.  The people leaving the House, but that not getting rid of the Spirit- here.  The Husband believing the Wife- yep.  So what's unique here?  Pretty much nothing.  I thought they would keep the wife pregnant throughout the Film, but then they just skip ahead 6 months from the birth.  What was the point?  Well, besides ripping off that one Scene from Ghostbusters 2, I mean.  This is pretty much just Paint By Numbers Horror here- nothing more, nothing less.  The Special Effects are fine, even if the jump scares are right out of Insidious.  You couldn't at least give me the pimp-slapping lady Ghost from Insidious: Chapter 2?!?  Without SPOILing too much, I will say that I really question the logistics of the big Scene with the Priest.  How does a Spirit of evil hide there again?!?  On top of that, who or what is the 'person' going around and picking up the Doll?  Why does the creature need to possess someone if it can do so much without a body?  It is like Green Lantern needing to become Hal Jordan in order to be more powerful.  Aside from all that, this one is decent...but still pretty pointless.  Is The Conjuring better now that I've watched a different Film that set up nothing?  No.  Speaking of silly things, how can blood spray as dramatically as it does here without these people have explosive blood pressure?
Next up, I cover the 2nd half of the Death Note Story (in Live Action).  Will the Anime prove to be superior or inferior?  Stay tuned...