Sunday, June 5, 2011

Brad's Week in Dork! (5/29-6/4)

After the insane pleasures of last week's theater going (Pirates 4, Attack The Block, Hobo With A Shotgun, Kung Fu Panda 2), this week was bound to be a little more low key.  Basically I watched a batch of dvds and blus and did not much else.  Still, there are some good picks down there and I'll get back to my comics and Not Bad For A Human next week.


Five Deadly Venoms:  One of the all time great Kung Fu films, Five Deadly Venoms refers to a clan of deadly warriors trained in the skills of The Centipede, The Snake, The Scorpion, The Lizard, and The Toad. At least three of which have gone rogue and it's up to The Teacher's final student to hunt them down and Kung Fu challenge them. Plenty of great matches, but the climactic, bloody orange-splattered confrontation is definitely worthy of its final fight placement. Loads of fun and the perfect starter for anyone curious about the genre.

Sleeping Beauty:  Although Aurora is definitely not my favorite Disney Princess (how could she be with all those zzzzzzzzzzs), Sleeping Beauty is the film I think of when I think of classic Disney animation. Which is funny considering how late (1959 between The Lady and the Tramp & 101 Dalmations) it came into their golden age. The villainous Maleficent not only has a fantastic moniker, she also has the most brilliantly demented ghoulish minions, a wonderful familiar, and a badass dragon transformation.

Vanishing on 7th Street:  Yeah, it's an overlong episode of The Twilight Zone. And I think that's pretty cool. But Hayden Christensen still can't hold a movie and I found Thandie Newton's struggling, screaming mother to be incredibly annoying. John Leguizamo's projectionist and Jacob Latimore's shotgun kid were definitely the best parts, but at the end of the day I don't think director Brad Anderson had much of a movie here. Shame. His Session 9 is still one of the scariest flicks I've ever seen and I still have a soft spot for The Machinist and his Masters of Horror episode "Sounds Like."

The Taking of Pelham One Two Three:  One of the best non-action action movies to ever come out of the 1970s, the original One Two Three has a stellar oddball cast in Walter Matthau's transit dick, Robert Shaw's cold (and I mean, ice cold) hijacker Mr. Blue (my second favorite Shaw performance after Jaws), Jerry Stiller's biting New Yorker, and Hector Elizondo's psychotic Mr. Gray. But the best bits of the film are the bits that don't go where you expect them to and they deliver a steely climax with a bloody brilliant final shot. Simply, I love this movie.

Drive Angry:  Nicolas Cage rocks one beastly greasy, scraggly blonde 'do as the vengeance seeking fugitive John Milton in this awesome bit of exploitation badassery. Yep, it's difficult not to cheer outright as he blasts and punches to the oppressive electric guitar score--no PG-13 action subtlety here. Blood, bullets, and octane...and more blood and bullets. Rounded out with a mesmerizingly joyful & demonic William Fichtner, a disgustingly villainous Billy Burke (CHARLIE MUSTACHE! from Twilight), and a tough rock 'em sock 'em Amber Heard, Drive Angry is without a doubt the first great entry in the genre cinema of 2011.

Fighting Mad:  Lone Warrior Peter Fonda grabs his bow & arrow and starts fighting mad against evil corporate strip miners who are desperate for his land. But it takes the death of his brother, his pregnant sister-in-law, his father, and the old barn before he finally starts to kick some serious ass. Decent Roger Corman exploitation directed by a green Jonathan Demme.  But it's no Race With The Devil.

Legend (Director's Cut):  Such an awkward movie. As a kid, I remember always wanting to really enjoy Legend for all its goblins and dwarfs and the Tim Curry voiced Lord Of Darkness, but always coming away kinda bored by the bland romance between Mia Sara and Tom Cruise's Forest Jack. And that's still basically how I feel today. I love the Dark and the full-tilt fantasy, but Tom Cruise feels horribly miscast and the glittery good is terribly unpleasant. Also, I hate to say it, but I think I prefer the wacky Tangerine Dream score of the original over Jerry Goldsmith's Director's Cut take.

Moving Violation:  Stephen McHattie is a rightfully pessimistic, drifting Detroit Man who, like John Rambo after him (seriously, First Blood follows this plot nearly beat for beat), is hassled to the point of violence by corrupt local lawmen who car chase and car crash all over creation. Along the way he's "helped" by sweetheart Kay Lenz and do-gooder attorney Eddie Albert. It's a solid Roger Corman venture with the right amounts of violence and nudity, plus a third reel appearance from bad driver Dick Miller.  Fans of this type of tomfoolery can't go wrong.

X-Men First Class:  Walking Tall James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender's Magneto-to-be and Kevin Bacon's James Bond villain-in-full absolutely own the show in this pseudo-prequel to Bryan Singer's X-Men franchise, but I found the forced presence of mutant teens and the clunky narrative pacing to be frustrating. Still, it's the best X-Men film we've had so far and Fassbender really is all kinds of amazing--I could have and would have preferred a film that totally centered on his quest for shades of gray Jewish vengeance. But no, we have to have that kid who can fly with his voice to distract us.

Knight and Day:  Tom Curise, I'm sorry I hated on you during those dark Couch Jumping/Katie Holmes Kidnapping days, because sir, you have returned to glorious super smiley form: "I'm The Guy!" Fun, action packed, and beyond silly, Knight and Day is the movie we've been aching to see you in again. The first half of the flick is just a riot; watching Cameron Diaz mentally melt under the weight of Cruise's insane acts of espionage crazery had me howling. The second half suffers a tad thanks to its by-the-numbers plot and Peter Sarsgaard's rather weak villain outing, but Cruise and Diaz are impossible not to love. High Popcorn Entertainment.

Sherlock Holmes in The Spider Woman:  At just 63 minutes, Sherlock Holmes in The Spider Woman is a blink and you'll miss it entry in the franchise but for it's short run time it still manages to deliver some entertainingly ridiculous bits. The story opens with a series of "Pajama Suicides" erupting from windows all over London and Sherlock Holmes possibly plummeting to his watery grave while fishing in Scotland. Terrible crazy fun. Gale Sondergaard is a passable antagonist as...dun, dun, dunnnn--The Spider Woman.  Although, she probably could have used a few more gargantuan tarantulas at her disposal.


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