Sunday, February 26, 2017

10 Best Picture Nominee *Substitute* Films

Are you too cool or too busy to watch the Best Picture Nominees this year?  If so, I can suggest some alternative programming that will totally give you the same experience.

Sure, they also happen to be Films featured on the Site too, but that's just a bonus for me...I mean, you.  Feel free to use that Search Bar on the page though.

10. Good-Bye, Uncle Tom (for The Birth of a Nation): So there's only 9 of these things and I want a Top 10.  Plus, why not take more time to talk about the most misguided Film in History?

The basic brief: the men who created Mondo were accused of both faking their Footage and of being Racist.  To counter that, they made an intentionally-fake 'Documentary' about Slavery in the South.  No, really.

9. Horrors of War (for Hacksaw Ridge): Sure, that Film is about a Pacifist in War.  However, it also features tons of Gore- something you expect with Gibson at the helm.  Well, this one has that too, plus Super-Soldiers that turn into Zombies and Werewolves.  Wouldn't you rather watch this?

8. The Ninth Configuration (for Fences): This is a Master Class in Acting.  The only downside: it is obviously shot exactly like the Play that inspired it.  Along those lines, see the less-regarded and only other Film by the late William Peter Blatty.  It is Directed like a Play too (no doubt to make it easier for the 1st time Director) and features plenty of Acting.  That's mostly the same.

7. Generation Um.. (for Manchester by the Sea): Do you love Acting?  Do you love sadness?  If so, I've got...a different Film for you.  As a bonus, it is boring as hell, so you can watch only 20 minutes and take a nap.  Sorry, Casey.

6. Poker Run (for Hell or High Water): This is about 2 guys doing bad things for a good reason in the American Southwest.  Wouldn't you know it, I have another one of those.  In this Film, two wannabe Bikers must do bad things in order to save their ladies.  Sure, High Water has Jeff Bridges, but this one has 'Dario Cueto' in it.

5. Communion (for Arrival): In one great Film, mysterious Aliens show up to share a secret, powerful language.  In, mysterious Aliens show up to probe an Author (played by Christopher Walken).  Tomato, tomato.

4. Black Cobra (2012) (for Moonlight): One is a touching tale of a Child who goes through hardship and tries to grow up to be a good person.  The other is a tale of a Man who goes to America to trade Diamonds to get his Dad out of jail.  Sure, one is critically-acclaimed, but it has far less kicking than this one.

3. Return of the Vampire (for Hidden Figures): This Film tells the tale of Black Female Scientists who helped the Space Program work.  This other Film tells the tale of a Female Biologist who kills 'Dracula' and a Wolfman.  Which is really more impressive?

2. Dhoom/Dhoom 2 (for Lion): A story about a young Indian boy who grows up away from his home and returns as an Adult to learn his true identity- good.  Now what if the Adult turned into a kick-ass Cop who can take down Crime Bosses and a Super-Thief?  That's better, right?

1. Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (for La La Land): You either love or hate this 'love letter to classic Movie Musicals.'  You definitely have a much clearer opinion on this 'classic Movie Musical.'  It features The Beatles....' music and The Bee-Gees.  Is Ryan Gosling really better than Robin Gibb?

Enjoy these alternative picks as you wonder who will win and just who will have the best 'burn' on Donald Trump.  Fun times.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Quick Reviews: The Birth of a Nation

Due to its Director's past, this tale about our past was snubbed by the Oscars.  Will it settle for having me Review it?
This lovely tale is opened with 2 Quotes, the latter of which is from Thomas Jefferson.

I assume it is supposed to be ironic that the Quote is from a guy that owned Slaves.  Right?
This is the Story of Nat Turner, a child born into Slavery in the 19th Century.  Laughs ahoy.
As an Adult, his Education in the Scripture has made him useful for his Master.  He is sent around to tell other Slaves about the Bible and how it supports Slavery.
On top of that, he finds love with a fellow Slave, gets married and has a Daughter.
Unfortunately, he continues to see the atrocities committed upon his people.  Can he keep this up?
When his Wife is attacked by some bad guys- including Rorschach-, this pushes him even further.

Will he lead a Revolt?  Will it end well?  Don't read a History Book and just watch this to find out.  The End.
Good, but rough stuff.  A Film about Slavery in the South is rough- shocking!  That's about the only joke I can make about this one, given that all of this really happened.  People died, so not exactly funny.  The Film generally works quite well.  You feel for Nate throughout, as his turn isn't instantaneous.  It builds and builds nicely throughout the Film.  I'd also note that the Film is just under 2 Hours, so it doesn't wear out its welcome.  All in all, The Birth of a Nation is a good Film that deserves some merit.  It is just a bit of a shame that its Creators did something pretty sleazy that left their Film for dead...
If you can get past the stuff in Nate Parker's past, the Film is good.  Obviously, this is a rough subject, so bear that in mind.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Mondo Weirdo: Born of Fire (1983)

I've missed you, Mondo Macabro.  Early in the life of this Site, I watched ALOT of Mondo Macabro Releases.  From Films about naughty girls to Turkish weirdness to Satanic Couples, I got plenty of mileage out of their stuff.  As time went on, they released a bunch of Nikkatsu stuff and...I was less interested.  On top of that, I found so much more craziness and I mostly forgot about them.  After months in my Queue, I finally watched today's Film- 1983's Born of Fire.  If you don't know, Mondo Macabro has a great Trailer Reel with every Disc, teasing you with Films to watch.  If you're me, you have probably seen most of them too.  In any event, all I knew about this one was random shots and a guy breathing fire.  The Plot: a Flutist goes to Turkey to save the World.  Yeah, there's more, but...that's enough for now.  To see how weird this Film you probably never heard of is, read on...
In a mix of shots, we see a woman and some weird guy looking at the Lunar Eclipse.  It is a bit more...skull-like than usual.
A Flutist is playing a Concert, thrilling many.

That is, of course, the least normal thing in the whole Film.  Woodwinds zing!
The Astronomer from earlier is drawn to the Concert right as he has visions and leaves.
For some reason, she's allowed back in his Dressing Room and they then find out that his Mother is dying.  As luck/fate would have it, she bonds with Mom before she dies.
After they both see some freaky stuff, they go to Turkey, which is where his Dad died.  They go there and are met by this mysterious fella.
He helps our Hero have a vision via Flute playing of his Father trying to stop a Ritual by the Master Musician (the freaky dude from earlier), only to be killed by fire.
Alongside a malformed mute, they do a ritual that...accidentally turns the lady evil.

This Film is mostly random Music and shots of Nature, but kudos for this one.
She dies after the Musician makes a creature be born from a husk somewhere else- why not?!?

To put a stop to him, we get...a Flute Battle.
He wins the battle and follows the drape that the woman was wearing when he put her in a puddle and it...makes a creature pull him into the water.  After random shots of Dervishes, the Film ends so...yea?
Weird.  This must be the only Film where a Flute factors into the Plot so much.  Flute Music powers magical ceremonies.  Flute Magic can lead to the destruction of the World.  Flute Battles decide the fate of the World!  To be fair, you need Flute Magic and the rare Skull Moon.  Who hasn't been to a Skull Moon Party though?  Neil DeGrasse Tyson goes wild at those!  Kidding aside, this is a nice-looking Film.  The problem is that the Plot is very much second to the visuals.  On top of that, the nearly non-stop Flute Music is a bit repetitive and droning at times.  Born of Fire looks neat, sometimes sounds neat...but doesn't make a whole lot of sense.  It is a pretty bit of what-the-hell for all you fans of that.  It wasn't for me, but I can at least appreciate the look of things.  Speaking of which, what the hell is this thing exactly?
Next up, another terrible Vampire Film that came with The Vulture's Eye.  Naturally, it involves... Spring Break?  Stay tuned...

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Quick Reviews: Toni Erdmann (2016)

Will this win Best Foreign Film?  To find out if it should, read on...
Our Hero is an old guy who loves to play dress up, make weird jokes and just generally make people feel awkward.
His Daughter is an overworked Businesswoman who can't quite connect with him.
When his Dog dies, he goes to visit her in Romania.  She doesn't exactly roll out the Red Carpet...
After they have a bit of a blow up, he appears to leave...only to return as Toni Erdmann, a Businessman who can spend time with her.
Can she get, her Dad out of her life?  Should she want that?
I could give you more of a Teaser for the Film, but...well, this will do.  See the Film.
Das ist good?  Toni Erdmann is kind of an odd Film.  The whole thing is a mix of serious, random, awkward humor and schmaltz.  The thing fluctuates from being awkward to sincere to sad to randomly-funny.  Like the British Empire at one point, it was all over the map.  Dated Historical zing!  Speaking of Europe, this one comes to us from the German-speaking chaps in, well, Germany (and if they have time, Austria).  That said, about 1/3 of the Dialogue is in English...with German Romania.  Weird, right?  All of the Acting is quite good, keeping pace with the odd nature of the Story.  While it is a bit long and some bits drag out, I'm not going to be the one person not to sing its praises...
A fairly-subtle Film that randomly gets super-weird.  It will certainly not work for everyone, but it sure is interesting.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Poor Bastards of Cinema: Justice League Dark (Part 2)

It is one thing to be killed, but another thing to be killed by feces!

In Justice League Dark, an information gathering attempt in a Hospital is interrupted by a new monster- a stinky one.
Yes, a bunch of living shit is summoned and starts to attack the Staff.
To make things worse, it is apparently super-heated.  Don't believe me?

See that guy above- he's a skeleton now!
To be fair to our heroes, Deadman does try to save people.

However, he's inhabiting this guy when he finds a door locked (for some reason).
As the guy starts to presumably-melt, Deadman...ditches him.

Have fun being melted in shit, Random Guard #2.
While Deadman did try to help, he still bailed on these random guys when the going gets tough.

The lesson: don't expect a Ghost to help you when shit is going down (or flying at you).

Monday, February 20, 2017

Holiday Flix: Wild in the Streets

A tale as old as time- Celebrity becomes President.  Oh how rich our Fiction is!  Today's Film is Wild in the Streets, a 1968 Parable that completes complete Moral.  Oops.  This one tells the tale of a Pop Singer who becomes so famous that they are able to influence Politics.  What insanity!  This one goes farther than you might expect as the Singer gains more and more power throughout the Film.  If you don't know the Film, you will probably not see his end game coming!  It was Directed by Barry Shear, a name you'd recognize if you kept coming in and out of a Coma while MeTV was on.  Basically, he did a ton of TV Shows and TV Movies.  Back in the '50s and '60s, if you were famous and had a Show- be you Eddie Fischer, Dina Shore or Donna Reed- he probably Directed an Episode of it for you.  The Cast is chock full of random names and Character Actors that I'll try to cover throughout.  For instance, Richard Pryor is in this.  Since you're probably too busy parting to read much today, let's just dive right in...
After a Montage of Parents being bad, our Hero turns 18 and goes off on his own.
When he turns out to be a big Pop Singer under a new name, his Mom- Shelley Winter- is happy.
The Singer is approached by a Congressman- Hal Holbrook!- to support him, which he does.  However, he goes farther than the Congressman even wanted!
He pushes for the idea that the Voting Age should be 14.  No, really.

Incidentally, this was 3 Years before Nixon lowered the Voting Age to 18.  Close.
You know that our Singer is popular.  How?  Well, he can make footage from Monterey Pop appear!
He gets his Girlfriend in the Senate and she immediately pushes for the Age lowering.  Do they know that it would actually take a Constitutional Amendment (like it did 3 years later)?
To aid their cause, they put LSD in the water of their fellow Senators.  Our Heroes.

Allegedly, the Mayor of Chicago guarded against this for the DNC that Year.  Wild.
With the change somehow in place (despite the real change to 18 taking 3 years to be ratified), the Singer becomes President!

He proceeds to do fun stuff like opt out of our Treaties, stop dealing with anything outside of the U.S. and...
...forcibly-drugging anyone over 30 with LSD to 'make them more chill.'  No, really.

After more of that, the Film ends with the tease of 10 years planning to rise up.  Thus began The Purge, I guess.  The End.
It starts out innocent enough, but sure gets dark by the end!  Wild seems to have a certain heart to it and the hilariously-dated nature of it is pretty charming at first.  With random narration right out of Rocky & Bullwinkle, it has whimsy.  As the Film progresses, however, we see that our Lead is a bit of a crazy person.  He surrounds himself with sycophants and just does whatever he wants whenever he wants to.  Get invited to support a Candidate- upend him and make it all about YOUR message instead.  That's clearly why he PAID you to be there.  The whole thing feels like it is supposed to be ironic or judgemental, but never quite commits.  It is only in the last 10 minutes that the logic of his idea is put into question when a young kid calls him 'old' for being 24.  That is some comeuppance, I guess, but he's still THE PRESIDENT.  I kept waiting for a turn as it got worse and worse, but it never came.  This was apparently NOT meant as an attack on Hippies or their Culture.  This is just something that accidentally did the opposite of what its Message was.  Speaking of opposites, try to forget the Film's random diversion involving the Singer hitting a kid with his Car (which has no follow through at all)....
Considering that this was last released alongside Gas-s-s-s, you know what to expect.  Even so, this gets weirdly-dark and critical of...its own side.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Quick Reviews: Underworld- Blood Wars

It was either this or do that Resident Evil Film.  Can you blame me?
Since we are no 5 Films into this Franchise, they indulge in some Explain Everything Montage fun.

On the plus side, I get to see this again.
In the wake of Humans hunting the Monsters last Film, Selena is still sans Michael (since Scott Speedman is too busy) and now her new Daughter.

Naturally, the whole Plot revolves everyone wanting said Daughter.
A new Female Character is all about scheming for power.  On the plus side, this Villain is at least empowered.
The Villain is a Werewolf with a secret.

This may only be me, but they kept showing his facial scar.  Combined with the fact that he looks like Kraven (who had his head cut in part in the same place as the scar), I was a bit confused.
Can Selene stop this new threat and save her people?

Incidentally, are the Humans no longer a threat?  I'm still wondering.
Will her victory come at too great a cost?

To find out, watch the film.
Some good, but mostly forgettable.  Underworld: Blood Wars is a pretty forgettable Film.  Case in point: I only watched it 2 days ago and I've forgotten most of the Characters' Names!  It could be that I need to start tattooing information on my skin too, but we'll cross that bridge when we get there.  The Story is pretty good, but makes some pretty big jumps.  Like Resident Evil, they took a nice, long break before coming back, which means alot of repetition.  If you know the Films, you just kind of roll your eyes as they explain everything all over again.  If you don't know the Films, you have alot of catching up to do!  The Series continues to bury itself in all sorts of Lore, now dropping more Characters and Settings on us that are supposed to just come organically.  Without SPOILERS, I can say that the Film has one trick: betrayal.  It comes so often and so suddenly that I half-expected Selene to betray someone near the end.  Credit where credit is due- Beckinsale and company commit here.  They don't commit to making Selene look as pale as they used to (on account of the no blood thing), but oh well!  The Film as a whole is alright, but does nothing new or all that interesting.  Even so, it does have a backbone.
Some good moments in it, but the Style over Substance continues here.  Abandoned Plots and Blue Tints all around!