1- What Does Horror Mean To You? at Brutal As Hell (2011.09.09)
I am starting to write this article right after I just finished watching Dario Argento’s Stendhal Syndrome for the third time in about two years. I am fascinated by it because it is likely Argento’s last good/great film (Dracula 3D doesn’t look very promising so far), and because surprisingly, what disturbs me the most is the brutality of the film and that Dario put his own daughter Asia at the center of it. Talk about a Freudian setup. Additionally, the movie is gorgeous. Yes, its use of digital effects is very crude, even for the time, but the film is otherwise very polished in the greatest Argento tradition. I appreciate that. I also appreciate Asia greatly....
2- Not Quite Hollywood review at Brutal As Hell (2011.08.25)
Documentaries about films are a tricky affair. Either they have to be about an incredible film, or the documentary itself has to be cool and uncover little known nuggets about a cult classic, or they have to paint an epic movement and give you tons of information, references, and cool interviews. Not Quite Hollywood is of the latter kind, but unlike the recent American Grindhouse, it manages to pile on so much energy, laughs, outrageous interviews and cool film bits...
5- 30 Fulci Blvd., A Lucio Fulci Primer (2011.03.06)
Something cool is happening in the UK. Arrow Video is preparing to release Lucio Fulci’s The Beyond this month on blu-ray. Being a Fulci fan, I am kicking, screaming and swearing about when we’ll see that in the US. Last year saw The New York Ripper and City Of The Living Dead released on the format, which was not too shabby. But I, for one, just want more, and it doesn’t matter that I have many of his films on DVD already...
Here is the absolute best of the 835 films i watched in 2010. I broke them in four sections because i consider for this list any film i have seen for the first time this year, which of course includes 2010 films, 2009 films i didn't get to catch before, and even older films i never got to see before. For the complete list sorted by rating, see here.
Inception (2010), one of the mega-blockbusters of the year, showing that on rare occasions, Hollywood can produce a film that is as much a summer Action flick as it is brainy and challenging. Director Christopher Nolan seems to be at the top of the food chain in recent years.
Toy Story 3 (2010), showing that Pixar is still the king of animation, the film is a worthy third installment in this iconic series.
Fire Of Conscience (2010), an edgy Hong-Kong cops and gangsters fare that although treads on familiar territory nevertheless manages to pull a strong emotional punch with great characters and great visuals.
Book Of Eli, The (2010), an apocalyptic action film that delivers great visuals, good performances, and good overall entertainment.
Japanese Wife, The (2010), telling the story of an Indian man, and a Japanese woman who get married without ever meeting, and keeping their relationship going with love letters.
Kick-Ass (2010), similar to Scott Pilgrim is that it reached pure Comic Book heaven, the film is however very different, serving irreverent humour, really strong language throughout, and lots of bloody violence (i sound like the MPAA).
Winter'S Bone (2010), taking place in modern times, this is a film that possesses a timeless Western quality, featuring a young woman looking for her deadbeat father before the house where she lives gets repossessed.
I Am Love (2009) is simply one of the best films i have seen in ages. Sporting incredible visuals, a deep story line filled with memorable characters, and a magical score. This is an A+.
Don'T Look Back (2009), showing us a women at the edge of a psychotic schizophrenic episode, this is a film that is as soft as it is disturbing
Prophet, A (2009), a classic organized-crime film that feels epic in hits characters and the episodes it covers, showing that France can still produce gritty thrillers.
White Ribbon, The (2009), a film that looks gorgeous and simple on the surface, but which overflows with disturbing philosophical undertones that will make you think, and think, and think...
Dexter, Season 4 (2009), the greatest season so far of one of the greatest shows on TV these days, providing more scares and nail-biting tension per minute than anything else you have ever seen, capped by Oscar-worthy performances.
Agora (2009), a gorgeous historical epic describing in gritty political details one episode in the seemingly eternal war between Science and Religion, the ascent of Christianity in the late 4th century Alexandria.
Prince Of Tears (2009), a film recounting the White Terror years in 50's Taiwan that is as gorgeous and romantic as it is terrifying and politically motivated.
Cairo Time (2009), against the gorgeous background of a bursting Cairo, a sweet romance develops between two people who feel a very strong connection but are unable to take it all the way for a variety of reason. It's a bittersweet love story.
Triangle (2009), a mind bending time travel thriller that will keep you guessing while providing innovative plots and visuals.
Antichrist (2009), one of the top horror films of the year, this film will turn off most of its viewers. But if you can make it till the end, this film portrays a couple in the ultimate destructive and collapsing relationship in the history of film.
Serious Man, A (2009), deep in Jewish mysticism and abstract thought, this film is a brain tickler for all who can follow its intricate plot and characters.
Harry Brown (2009), an old pensioner takes matters in his own hands against a ruthless youth gang. It's violent, visceral, and Michael Cain is just perfect.
Education, An (2009), a young ingenue gets an education about the darker side of life and human relationships in this romantic drama.
How Are You Dad? (2009), a wonderful Taiwanese movie comprised of 10 short stories all featuring a father. This would be a perfect present for Father's day. At the same time insightful, moving and surprising, this little gem is a must see.
Mother (2009), who knew that an old decrepit woman would be the center of one of the best thrillers in the past few years? This film follows a mother who will stop at nothing to prove her son didn't commit the murder he's accused of.
Vengeance (2009), filled with all the visuals, characters and honor bound plot twists that has made Honk Kong gangster thrillers such a captivating genre.
Bodyguards And Assassins (2009), with an ensemble cast made out of gold, top non-stop action, and a truly character-driven plot, makes this a great actioner.
City Of Life And Death (2009), often likened to a Chinese Schindler's List, this film recounts the Japanese invasion of Nanking in 1937 and the massacre and horrors that followed. The film is as beautifully shot as it is visceral in its depiction of an organized massacre at the hands of ravenous Japanese.
Yatterman (2009), a film that is as visually arresting and funny as it is absolutely demented, it is based on a 1970's Japanese animated series that defied logic and common sense at every turn possible. Think of it as pulling in the absurdity of Kafka and the Monty Pythons elevated by Japanese extremes and potty humour aplenty in a PG/PG-13 package, all in the ends of Takashi Miike.
Good Hair (2009), one of the best documentary in the past couple of years, exploring the obsession with Hair in the African-American community in the US, all told by a hilarious Chris Rock.
Five Minutes Of Heaven (2009), a much softer view on revenge than Seven Days, this film is nonetheless powerful, supported by great performances.
OSS 117 2: Lost In Rio (2009), a French comedy that makes the art of satire and political incorrectness to new levels. If you don't speak French though, you'll miss most of the jokes, which are terribly subtitled.
Girl 1: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The (2009), the first in a phenomenal literary trilogy that has taken book readers by storm around the world, this film is gripping, gritty, superbly filmed and perfectly acted. The second film is not nearly as good, and my hopes are high for the third chapter.
Glee, Season 1 (2009), simple, light and very well executed, a breath of fresh air on primetime TV this past year. Great writing, perfect cast, and great musical numbers by the boatload.
Astro Boy (2009), the original is a classic, and in here, no new grounds are broken, but the mythos of the character is well managed to make this fun for the whole family.
Fourth Kind, The (2009), surprisingly powerful and effective faux documentary that had me do a Google search to confirm whether it was real or fake. Some of the best sound design i have heard in a while.
Cashback (2006), so quirky, so funny and heart warming, and with a healthy dose of great nudity throughout... What more can you ask from a British romantic comedy filled with well exposed characters.
Long Way Round (2004), a great adventure show following Ewan McGregor and a friend on two motorcycle, circling the globe. Must see, with its companion Long Way Down, for the whole family.
Love, Pain And Vice Versa (2008), a surprising Mexican thriller that starts like an odd romance and ends in obsession and bloodshed. A compelling script and great performances will take you right at the edge of your seat.
Strange Circus (2005), visually stunning Japanese horror film that would be at home in the nightmarish Lynchian universe.
Waltz With Bashir (2008), an animated film with arresting graphics, recounting the massacre at the Sabra and Shatila palestinian camp in Lebannon in 1982 at the hands of Lebanese christian militias while the Israeli army stood by on the sideways. This film raised a lot of political tensions in its portrayal of an Israeli soldier and his friends during that time.
Paris (2008), a slice of life in Paris, filled with great characters, top performances, and a great script.
Alpha Dog (2006), gritty portrayal of a bunch of teenagers and young adults mixed up with drugs and murder, supported by a great ensemble cast.
Diary Of A Nymphomaniac (2008), sexy Spanish fare about a woman who loves sex and looks for something a bit deeper, it's shocking, scandalous, and surprisingly human and understandable.
Journey From The Fall (2006), a film about a family in the decade that followed the official end of the Vietnam war, and all the true horrors that occurred then.
Dasepo Naughty Girls (2006), a crazy Korean film adapted straight out of a Japanese comic book featuring a cyclop teenager and his hermaphrodite sister in an insane asylum that passes for a high school! Colorful, inventive, and demented.
Memories Of Tomorrow (2006), a thoughtful look at a successful advertisement exec who is slowly slipping into Alzheimer at a relatively young age while his wife and friends try their best to support him. This is a Japanese drama that is character-driven and well written.
Notebook, The (2004), a surprisingly endearing romantic film with a great cast, and great stories that support a relationship that viewers can believe in. It's a chick-flick, but a damn good one.
Charlie Bartlett (2007), a smart kid who can get away with almost anything becomes the underground king of a private school, defying authorities. Think of Ferris Bueller or Van Wilder, but much more subversive.
Lost In Beijing (2007), a ground breaking mainland Chinese film breaking many taboos that would have sent the sensors into a fury just a few years ago. That it features Bingbing Fan in all her gorgeous glory only adds to a very realistic slice of life in modern Beijing.
Rojo Sangre (2004), a great Spanish horror film that returns us to the classics, with great art direction and cinematography.
Turn Left At The End Of The World (2004), a coming of age story for a young woman who emigrated to Israel with her family and settling in a small community in the middle of the desert, composed of North African and Indian Jews. Cultural clashes and realizations about the greater aspects of life make for a great drama and very tender moments.
Wizard Of Oz, The (1939), yep, i never saw this film from beginning to end before. I can't say i loved it, but i can certainly recognize how groundbreaking it was, and how strong it has remained through all these years. The newly released Blu-Ray edition is fantastic.
Metropolis (1926), i have seen this film many times before, but this is finally the complete version of the film that hadn't been available before, and duly remastered for a fantastic Blu-Ray release. It's a classic. It's a masterpiece.
Red Violin, The (1998) is an epic and profoundly simple story of a violin, changing hands through time, landing in a final auction with international intrigue pulling the strings.
Cemetery Man (1994) is considered a cult horror film by many, and i understand why. Innovative visuals and effects, and Ruppert Everett in role that is the opposite of what the man usually does, all conspire to create an intriguing and quirky horror tale.
8- The Wacky French: The Extreme Wave (2010.08.27)
America has been French kissed this past weekend with a high spectacle of 3D horror served up by French director Alexandre Aja. But when you look a little bit closer, the movie is actually surprising. Aja created High Tension, one of the more influential horror films of the last decade, a brutal and brooding gore fest. For him to break new ground in horror seven years ago with a low-budget gruesome cult horror film, and then find himself today with a new film, in 3D, in theaters across the US... Talk about The American Dream! He got it. Although his latest baby has Hollywood written all over it (it's a high budget grand spectacle), you cannot forget where it all came from, and for that, i propose to take you on a walk through what is known as the Extreme Wave, and perhaps, make you buy or rent a few movies you may have never heard of...
The rest of this new in-depth article on French Horror Cinema is posted on Brutal As Hell. Read on...