I didn't really do much this week other than watch movies, movies, movies. I skimmed a little bit through Boris Karloff: More Than A Monster and I picked up Jack Ketchum & Lucky McKee's The Woman, but no serious books or even comics were read this week. Sad.
MOVIES OF THE WEEK!
Sherlock Holmes and The Voice of Terror: "England is at stake...Yes Kitty, The Nazis Killed Him! The Cut-Throats of the World Threaten Us All!" The first of the Rathbone/Bruce Sherlock flicks distributed by Universal is also the first film to be transported into the blitz threatened modern world. And after that time travel shock and rolling my eyes at Watson tsking Holmes for wanting his detective cap over the fedora-of-the-day, I eventually, thoroughly, enjoyed this reboot. There is some great monologuing going on here, not just by Holmes but also by the dastardly, climactic Nazis. And what a fantastic, brutal ending. It's funny, but people made such a tizzy over the Guy Ritchie Holmes, but if Voice of Terror was released today they would absolutely loose their shit.
The Traveler: Lately, despite a few minor appearances on the big screen (MacGruber, The Bad Lieutenant, Kill the Irishman), Val Kilmer has made a home in the netherrealm of Direct-to-DVD and I love him for it. Flicks like The Steam Experiment, The Thaw, and Streets of Blood might not have the talent or the budget but like my favorite Roger Corman flicks of yore they have the will! And the same can be said about The Traveler. Kilmer walks into a police station and over the course of the night as he confesses to six murders the police officers guarding him start to die grisly deaths. Five minutes in and you get the gist if not the entire plot, but there are worst Direct-To-DVDers to waste your time on. Not a ringing endorsement, but I like The Working Kilmer. And his longhair.
Dead Man Walking: After a rousing game of Chainsaw Russian Roulette, cult icons Wings Hauser and Jeffery Combs team-up to track down mutant psycho Brion James in a future wasteland monitored by an OCP-like government. That trilogy of genre greats gets you through the slow patches and the wacky Robocop News Anchors will have you squealing "I'd Buy That For A Dollar!" Not great 80s exploitation, but it will please fans.
Dementia 13: "Row Faster...If I Die There's Nothing In It For You..." After her husband crokes in a rowboat, Eithne Dunne travels to her in-laws Irish castle to stake her claim in the fortune. Unfortunately, there are a couple of crazy brothers, one crazy mother, and a roving axe murderer on the premises. Dementia 13 is all over the place, but there are a couple moments peppered throughout that make for an enjoyable viewing experience.
Sherlock Holmes and the Secret Weapon: Sherlock Holmes is still stuck in WWII fighting Nazis...well, he's fighting Moriarty here who is working for the Nazis. Lionel Atwill, who was so bloody fantastic as the good doctor Mortimer in The Hound of the Baskervilles, is Moriarty this time out and, surprisingly, he's not as good as The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes' Moriarty, George Zucco. Atwill is just a tad obvious here. And the plot to rescue a Swiss inventor is just not as engaging as the previous Rathbone outings. Decent, but after this one, I'd like to see Holmes get outta WWII quick.
Reservoir Dogs: "All right Ramblers, let's get Rambling." When I was 13 years old I had never seen a movie quite like Reservoir Dogs. The jokey, self-referential back-and-forth on display impresses me less these days. Instead, the crackerjack performances from Keitel, Roth, Buscemi, Tierney, and even Kirk Baltz are what still stun me to this day. Sure, Dogs is the ultimate in homage/theft but those performances cannot be beat.
The Fast and The Furious: The first entry in The Fast and The Furious franchise takes itself way too seriously and I find the uber-tense bravado between Paul Walker and Vin Diesel to be seriously tedious. Also, for a film supposedly about the badassery of street racing and its culture, the CGI "enhanced" car races & wrecks are simplistically limp and the neon night life is all cheese. It's far too hard to find the ridiculous fun that this saga would eventually unleash.
2 Fast 2 Furious: Vin Diesel is not missed and director John Singleton manages to deliver a few car chases more satisfying than those awkward CGers from Rob Cohen's original. Tyrese and Eva Mendes are welcome additions to the cast as the demolition derby boyhood friend and undercover hottie, but it's the inclusion of Cole Hauser's crime lord that centers the narrative and gives blondie Paul Walker a proper antagonist. It's still no Fast Five though.
Black Death: Crusader Sean Bean recruits lustful monk Eddie Redmayne to escort his Knight Death Squad to a small English village supposedly untouched by plague. What they find their tests the faith as well as their might. Sean Bean and Redmayne are excellent, but the blokes that really steal the show are minions John Lynch and Andy Nyman who expertly suffer through villainous righteousness. Also, really appreciate the dark age epilogue.
The Fast and The Furious Tokyo Drift: Ten minutes into the movie and already you have a car chase that is ten times as exciting as anything seen in the previous two Fast and The Furious films. Director Justin Lin relies less of CG stuntwork and more on good 'ol fashion demolition derby battles. Plus, I think I'll take Lucas Black, Sung Kang, or Bow Wow any day over the mushy smile machismo smile of Vin Diesel. And Sonny Chiba as a respectable yakuza overlord? Yes, please.
I Saw The Devil: "Don't be so weak. This is just the beginning." A revenge film in the way only the Koreans can produce; no punches pulled with shocking, painful bursts of violence and a long, brutal narrative that traps the audience in its vengeance quest. Ji-woon Kim doesn't quite match the brilliance of his previous The Good The Bad The Weird, but if I had seen this ten years ago (before witnessing the ultimate revenge film, Oldboy) I Saw The Devil would have completely knocked me on my ass. Min-sik Choi is absolutely fantastic as the Serial Killer in Mid-Life Slasher Crisis and Byung-hun Lee is just as strong as his hunter. If you can handle the blood-bath, you will definitely be rewarded by the film's mad progression.
Pulp Fiction: QT succeeds in crafting his own criminal universe a la Elmore Leonard with this watershed indie's anthology that reinvigorated John Travolta's career (is that a good thing?) and proved once and for all that Samuel L. Jackson is a supreme badass (that is definitely a good thing). But, the short story that shines above the rest is definitely Bruce Willis' Gold Watch segment. From its epic Walken opening to its climactic "Bring Out The Gimp" assault, The Gold Watch is the ultimate pulp homage.
Fast & Furious: Well, not much has changed in the last eight years...this storyline is still kinda lame. But not cool lame like the super fantastic Point Break this movie wants to be, but a neutered sad kinda lame in which Vin Disel, Jordana Brewster, and Paul Walker can't seem to find anything better to do. Fast and Furious is not complete garbage. Justin Lin still manages to crank out some decent car wrecks (even if the featured CGI Cave Chase faulters) and John Ortiz is a solid baddie. Still, this paved the way for the Ridonculous action of Fast Five.
Jackie Brown: My favorite Quentin Tarantino movie. Sam Jackson is scary, funny, and pathetic all at once. Robert De Niro gives one of the best understated performances of his career. Bridgette Fonda is wonderful as the bitchy beach bunny. But the film is all about Pam Grier and Robert Forster. They are magic. And I am so sorry they were not able to take this movie and finally own mainstream cinema.
Kill Bill Volume 1: "Revenge is a dish best served cold" - Old Klingon Proverb. And with that winking reference to The Wrath of Khan, Q & U's whambamthankyouma'am revenge filmgeek extravaganza launches into full gear brutality and it's...hilarious. Badass, but hilarious. Earl McGraw & Son. The Man From Okinawa. The blood drenched floors of The House of Blue Leaves. Amazing entertainment. Volume 2 is where Kill Bill finds its heart, but Volume 1 is all about the thrill of the quest.
Gamera Guardian of the Universe: Rubber suits, gotta love 'em. Seriously, every second Gamera is on screen smashing miniature sets, or propelling through the air, or swimming in the ocean, or rocketing into Space! this 30th Anniversay Reboot is totally enjoyable. But when the rubber is nowhere to be found than this film desperately cries out for some proper MST3K ribbing cuz it's painfully dull. However, those suits make it all worth it. VF.