Monday, 30 May 2011

Movie Barred

I had hoped to have been able to announce the third season of the Movie Bar today, as work has been under way and on going for quite some time now to bring together the best that the cinematic worlds of the Independent, Ignored, Forgotten and Subterranean had the offer. Unfortunately things are taking considerably longer and the programming has been not without it's set backs. 

After the success of the Mega Movie Bar as part of the Belfast Film Festival we had hoped to present a special MMB on the one year anniversary of the opening of the Movie Bar with a double bill that would take us back to our beginnings and allow us to celebrate a title long associated with us and usher in the Northern Irish premiere of its Full Sequenced sequel however this is unfortunately off the cards.  It has been announced that the decisions and discussions on the UK distribution are to be put on hold until there's been a decision on whether the film is to have a US release in advance of the rest of the cinematic audiences.  To that end the anniversary double bill of Centipede action has, regrettably been cancelled.

Returning to the drawing board now, hopefully when the next Movie Bar announcement is to be made it will come with a full listing of all the wonderful cinematic offerings that are in store for Season 3.

Thursday, 26 May 2011

5x5 Grindhouse Style

Robbie Lee

If you're old enough and experienced enough you might know Robbie's parents, actors Georgia and Ralph but few people unfortunately remember the relaxed punk style of acting that Robbie brought to the screens, big and small.  Here's five 5 star performances from the Queen of teeth grinding.

1. The Switchblade Sisters
The leader of the Dagger Debs until new girl Maggie rolls into town and upsets the apple cart.  The film's presence in the 100 Other Films to Watch Before You Die and screening during Season 1 of the Movie Bar is testament to how awesome this and Robbie is.

2. Big Bad Mama
Mother and daughter armed robbery combos, Robbie co-stars alongside Angie Dickinson and William Shatner in Steve Carver's excitement heist com.

3. Hot Neon
Lining up in another supporting role alongside recent star of stars Linda Lovelace in this camp comedy.  Also called Linda Lovelace for President...whatta title huh?

4. My Therapist
A sex therapist who just happens to be a hottie helps her clients live up to their *ahem* potential.  Co-starring alongside Marilyn Chambers.

5. Rainbow Brite and the Star Stealer
I know, this is a kids cartoon but most 1980's kids cartoons are better quality and more reliable than LSD trips.  Robbie plays no less than 6 different characters.

If you've ever see a film in which one five minute performance has stole the entire show for you then you know the star quality that lives in these individuals.  Robbie Lee has that quality in abundance.  Enjoy.

Next up...

< Umberto Lenzi >

Monday, 23 May 2011

Inside / A L'interieur

UK DVD release date: 15th April 2008
Certificate: 18
Running time: 83 mins
Director: Alexandre Bustillo, Julian Maury
Starring: Beatrice Dalle, Alysson Paradis, Nathalie Roussel
Genre: Horror
UK distributor:  Momentum
Format: DVD
Country: France

In recent years French cinema has lacked a certain edge, that the greats like Goddard and Truffaut had in abundance, and has been suffering under the emergence of Dany Boon and the likes as the new stars of the French screens.  In 2008 Bustillo and Maury ripped through on to the scene with their directorial co-debut Inside, a film that will likely split the audience census and guaranteed to make the ladies in the audience reconsider caring the gift of life.

Having lost her husband in a car crash some four months earlier Sarah (Paradis) is settling in for her first Christmas alone and preparing to enter the greatest challenge life can bestow, becoming a mother.  Inexplicably she is under siege by a menacing woman who seems hell bent on taking her baby by force.

The first thing you will notice about Inside is that the pacing of the film belongs to the classic presentation of horror cinema.  Like Halloween, for example, the premise is a rather simple one and perhaps even one that might cause the audience some logical issues but unlike Halloween, Friday the 13th and the other “people under siege” sort of horror titles the narrative is very well thought out and constructed like a mystery, though one you don’t really have to play along with.  The atmosphere is set beautifully through the slow methodical pace of the film as the cinematography and lighting all help create the genuine feeling of isolation that Sarah must be feeling during the biggest ‘family holiday’ in the year and in a house that is far too big from her alone.  Several key scenes in the build up to La Femme’s assault (played by Beatrice Dalle) are wonderfully shot, either from behind elements of the mise-en-scene or shrouded in rich layers of shadow and light adding a natural menace that the audience can relate to and anthropologically is engrained in the viewer.  This, coupled with a stripped down soundtrack leaves the house empty, rattling and menacing to the occupant.

Bustillo and Maury work wonderfully together as directors, their understanding of the mechanics of fear and how they translate to the visual are second to none.  At times elements of horror gets lost in translation in foreign cinema.  Many Japanese, Korean and Spanish horror films lose cultural threats in their translation to the English language audience but what Bustillo and Maury have tapped into is a universal fear and one that works regardless of language or background.  Like Steven Moffat (Doctor Who) natural, instinctive and childhood fears are universal, endlessly scary and provide the best frights in a world of endless rehashing of slasher teen genre popcorn vehicles.

Alysson Paradis (as Sarah) is exceptionally good as the heavily pregnant protagonist.  To be able to play a role that is helpless, fearful and vulnerable but at the same time has the hard edged animalistic instincts of a soon to be mother and all the protective rage that comes with it.  Her ability to carry the audience alongside with her and portray all elements of the narrative through gesturality and tone is a genuine skill and of a caliber too rarely seen in the horror genre.  Beatrice Dalle (Betty Blue) deserves all the credit that you could possibly muster.  Dalle is visually striking at the best of times but in Inside is greater and more menacing that any horror villain offered up in recent cinematic history.  Cloaked in black with a calm white hot rage Le Femme stalks her prey both around the parameter and the corridors of the house with simple looks that speak more to her state of mind than any exposition or grand gesturality could.  Her stature and presence so powerful that she fills the screen with suspense and fear in every possible moment.

The scene in which Le Femme mounts a sleeping Sarah in her bedroom with the intention of cutting the child from her stomach is so painfully tense that breathing becomes more than an autonomic response.  The struggle between the two women is almost epic with the tall, thin, darkly clad Le Femme pushing and pushing down on the white dressed Sarah in a beautifully framed and choreographed.  Likewise the bathroom assault has echoes of The Shining but takes the suspense, fear and horror to a level that audiences would not have expected and will have issue with late at night for many months to come.

There are some minor issues with Inside.  The supporting characters are extremely under developed and seem to be there as little more than an ensemble of parts for Le Femme to hack her way through, but it’s fitting and appropriate.  This is not a story about families or groups of people.  This is a two woman show, a one versus one and all the other players a little more than fodder.  They are casualties of the battle between two sides and fodder is what all good horror films require to pay off the audiences expectations.  Likewise, narratively, the police are two steps behind the pace with little chance of catching up and bumbling along in the idiotic way you’d expect in a horror film.  This too is not really an issue, it’s a cinematic tradition of the genre.  As an audience you expect there to be a resolution to the events taking place between the protagonist and the antagonist and it’s a cinematic demand that the conflict is resolved by either of these parties, for the police to step in, break it and arrest Le Femme would be a thorough disappointment.  Thankfully this is not the case and Le Femme’s rage is visited upon everyone and everything that comes between her and Sarah’s baby.  Other minor problems include the CGI of the baby (in the womb) as it reacts to the ongoing stresses it’s mother is enduring and a horror friendly ending that seems to sit uncomfortably with the events leading up to it, as Inside worked well as both horror and thriller until this point but ultimately coming down on the side of horror with a sequence that feels just a little out of place, stuck on and there to please a certain horror demographic.

There have been very few films that have managed to get under the amount of layers of skin that Inside managed.  Your expectations prepare you for one film but what Bustillo and Maury deliver is your expectations in a steroid and paranoia induced rage that begins slow and steady before building to a heart stopping fast and fierce assault on your senses and sensibilities.  Inside is a well written, directed, shot and acted horror that’s more intelligent than the standard and it’s appreciation is long passed it’s due date.

Thursday, 19 May 2011

5x5 Grindhouse Style

D'Urville Martin

Dying at the age of 45 caused by his work hard play hard lifestyle D'Urville's fans are familiar with the spirit of the man that shines through in his films but for those who are unfamiliar with the fun loving actor turned director here's five 5 star films to true yourself.

1. Death Journey (Actor)
In the supporting role of Detective Don, Death Journey sees the transportation of a key witness from Los Angeles to New York and all the shit that can hit the fan when travelling 3000 miles.

2. Disco 9000 (Director)
Also popping up as a stuntman on the film it's got all the spirit, feel and soul of the greatest time in music and remember "When he's in the groove the mob better move!"

3. Combat Cops (Actor)
Two hard working cops tracking down the fierce Zebra Killer, it sees D'Urville as 'The Pimp' in a supporting role.

4. The Black Bounty Killer (Actor)
Co-starring this time as two bounty hunters come into a small Sheriffless town in a classic western story.

5. Dolemite (Actor/Director)
It's an obivous choice but it would be criminal to overlook this film.  Starring Rudy Ray Moore with D'Urville as his nemesis Willy Greene it's in the 100 other films to watch before you die and has sculpted a generation of black cinema.

It's sad that such a talent like D'Urville Martin passed when he had such a promising career ahead of him but he has left behind a small legacy of great work and has helped in guiding those who follow in the ways of blaxploitation.  If you didn't know the man then perhaps you'll never forget him now.

Next up...

< Robbie Lee >

Sunday, 15 May 2011

3D or not 3D

It was billed as the greatest technological advancement to cinema since sound (completely overlooking the colour revolution) and is the way that all films will be presented in future.  Glossing over the fact that the 3D revolution has had a couple of aborted coups in the 70's and 80's there's room to actually look at the 3D revolution and ponder exactly what's it all about and whether it's anything more than a gimmick.

James Cameron's Avatar was the front runner of this new wave, a 3D experience that would completely change how you watched film.  How you felt about 3D and would probably make the real world one thousand times more mundane after viewing.  I haven't always been a fan of Cameron's work, I find his work one tone and overly simplistic (Aliens) at best and at worst just appalling (Titanic) so it was with much debate that I put my money where my mouth typically resided and paid to see Avatar in 3D.  Not only was I absolutely blown away by how completely underwhelmed I was by the Eco-Smurfs meet The Matrix but this new way of viewing films left me genuinely confused.  Was it just me?  Everyone's raving about 3D, it's the best thing since Sunday trading if most people were to be believed so why was I so completely and uttered allergic to it?

My issue with 3D, and it's one that you might think is nonsense but it's mine, is that were all the directors, actors, producers etc are blabbering on about how it'll place you in the thick of the action I find that it does the opposite to me.  Masters of film making like Alfred Hitchcock and Steven Spielberg know how to stitch an audience into a film.  It's a long standing and well practised device in the editing process.  If you look at the shower scene in Psycho or the first dinosaur assault in Jurassic Park you will notice that both films have something distinctly in can't help but be sucked into them.  The reason for which is the editing, the number of individual shots that are quickly pieced together and in doing so places the audience inside the film.  Alternatively the long shot, like that of Orson Welles in Citizen Kane or The Magnificent Ambersons does the opposite.  Turning the attention now to a 3D film like Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland and the editing process is sedated.  Rather than having the events stitch you into the film the inclusion of 3D makes you constantly aware that you are watching a film as objects and individuals "appear to come straight at you" (they don't really but that's apparently how the perfect 3D should work) and in doing so only draw your attention away from the narrative and the delicate process of stitching the audience into the film and replacing that relationship between audience and the film with a "oooh look at all the things coming towards your face" "you could almost look behind Alice".  I'm assuming most people live in the real world so why does 3D on screen carry such appeal?  Are they lacking in depth of field at home?

So why are so many films being made in 3D?  The answer is simple to be honest.  When it comes to Hollywood it's always been a case of keeping up with the Joneses.  One Studio can't appear to be behind another, even if the technological advancement is to the detriment of the art form.  Cameron makes the "movie he was born to make" with Avatar in 3D so other studios jump on board the bandwagon.  Next step the cinema's technological upgrades need to occur in order to screen in 3D and (like the Studios)  no cinema wants to be left behind so they all kit out their projection booths with 3D projectors and the need is created.  I've spot to the technicians who travel from multiplex to multiplex installing the equipment and they'll be the first to acknowledge how absurd the whole thing is.  We all know it's a load of bollocks but everyone's getting paid for it.

It appears now that the 3D revolution has spread outside the shores of the United States as Korean monster mash Sector 7 due for release in a matter of months will hit our cinema screens in...3D.  Likewise local film maker George Clarke has been tinkering with past production The Knackery to present an unnecessary 3D version of the film and of course George [Never Miss a Chance to Flog a Dead Horse] Lucas is busy 3D-ing all six Star Wars films in preparation for the grand rerererelease that will net him another $1 Billion and leave cinema goers wondering how they ended up in their local cinema having paid over the odds to see a film they hated in 2D some ten years if some tinted glasses could make Jar Jar Binks better. 

There is some hope out there that the whole world hasn't gone 3-fuckin-D crazy.  The final installment of the Harry Potter franchise has snubbed the notion of 3D in favour for the much more palatable IMAX, likewise destroyer of IMAX cameras Christopher Nolan won't be offering up any Bat Signals in 3D as The Dark Knight Rises will not be available for audiences in stupid glasses.  

3D is not the revolution that the industry would like you to believe.  Would Citizen Kane be a better film if the snow globe broke and spilled out into the audience?  No, it wouldn't.  A great film is a great film regardless of the number of dimensions but a bad film needs as many gimmicks as possible to sell it, think Drive Angry 3D and you will see what I mean.  I'm sure a lot of people enjoy 3D and that's great for them, well done, but 3D is not the way forward for an art form too often hampered by people simply wanting to make a quick buck from it.  It's no more a revolution that the idea of smellavision ala Polyester.  

Friday, 13 May 2011

5x5 Grindhouse Style

Franco Nero

The kids today will probably recognise Nero from Die Hard 2 but the truth is he was positively wasted in the Bruce Willis sky hostages flick.  Not many actors can boast that they were discovered by legendary director John Huston but that's exactly what 69 year old Franco can claim.  Here's his five 5 star films so you can discover him too.

1. The Mercenary
Selling death to the highest bidder Nero is the mercenary in question in Sergio Corbucci's brilliant western.

2. The Virgin and the Gypsy
It's D.H. Lawrence, you almost don't have to say anything else.  Nero is excellent (as always) as the sexually charged Gypsy. Co-stars Honor Blackman.

3. How to Kill a Judge
Giacomo Solaris (Nero) makes a movie about a Judge getting killed by the mob.  The courts seize the film before a Judge ends up death leaving Solaris to untangle the web of mystery.

4. Drop-out
It's Nero, Vanessa Redgrave and Tinto Brass behind the camera in this gorgeous romantic comedy with more of an edge than anything you'd see from the Meg Ryan catalogue.

5. La Polizia incrimina la legge assolve
Enzo Casteralli's crime drama and Nero goes up against a massive crime syndicate.  He's supported by the truly amazing and much missed James Whitmore.

You'll probably find yourself captivated by the screen presence that is Franco.  Some quick research will showcase some more obvious titles than can also be exploded.

Next up...

< D'Urville Martin >

Sunday, 8 May 2011

5x5 Grindhouse Style

Fred Williamson

Another blaxploitation star, another former American football star.  Film fans these days will remember him for films like Starsky and Hutch and From Dusk Til Dawn but before he was drinking whisky with Sex Machine in the Titty Twister he was the embodiment of masculinity in one of the most exciting and enjoyable cinematic movements.  Here's Fred's five 5 star films.

1. Black Caesar
Rising from the mean streets of Harlem to the Don of the Black Mafia, it co-stars Gloria Hendry and Art Lund.

2. Hell Up in Harlem
The excellent excellent sequel to Black Caesar sees Williamson as Gibbs taking on the streets to get his wife back.

3. That Man Bolt
When you've got a package you need transported from Hong Kong to Mexico City and the entire world's most dangerous people want call Lincoln Bolt!  Excellent.

4. The Big Score
Williamson as a tough cop who'll stop at nothing to get his man.  Co-starring a 5x5 regular John Saxon.

5. The Black Cobra
He's a cop that works alone protecting an innocent lady against a gang of merciless bikers.  Also has a couple of hugely entertaining sequels.

It's tought to narrow down Williamson's work down to five films so if these take your fancy there's 43 years worth out there to dip into.

Next up...

< Franco Nero >

Saturday, 7 May 2011

What’s really scary about The Human Centipede – Full Sequence

I made no secret or excuses for my love of The Human Centipede – First Sequence, it was a wonderfully constructed echo of an era of horror that has been long since forgotten by film makers who rely more on the swinging pendulum of silence followed by deafening sound to get a cheap scare.  Everything about it felt like a very traditional horror yet it was taking audiences down an avenue that no film maker had even considered until Tom Six elected for the surgical option.  Dieter Laser was exceptionally brilliant and was surely how Lurch (The Addams Family) would have ended up if he was sexually abused as a child before sent to Johns Hopkins to get his MD.

Spoiler Alert!

That’s the problem though.  Dieter Laser was so magnificent that the hole he has left, having been shot between the eyes by one of the bumbling detectives, is the biggest narrative problem that Six will need to fill.  In the quasi supernatural horror realm of A Nightmare on Elm Street, Hell Raiser and Friday the 13th the villain of the piece can die at the end of every film yet return to reap an all new nightmare on more unsuspecting victims and it’s either dealt with as “ooooh spooky mystic stuff” or not dealt with at all.  For all the suspensions of disbelief you will require for The Human Centipede – Full Sequence [trailer here] it’s a step too far to think that Laser has re-animated or has an equally as evil twin brother out there who likes mischief and ass to mouth action.

Excitement and anxiety are mixed in awaiting the release of the second film as the biggest thing that’s scaring me at the moment is the thought that it might be absolute guff.  Tom Six has finished post production on the film, which is due for cinematic release some time in August and is already talking Part 3.  He has remained, no pun intended, extremely tight lipped on the how’s, why’s and some of the where’s.  In my 2010 interview with Six he was happy to mention that the second installment would take place in London and would comprise of a twelve person centipede.  Who’s at the head, middle or back end is anyone’s guess but what most fans of the first film want to know is who’s waving the scalpel.

To the best of our knowledge Ashley C. Williams is still alive, we last saw her screaming in the abandoned crime scene of the rural home (owned by Dr. Heiter) as both the head and tail of the centipede had died.  It could be the case that her living to tell the story results in a devoted fan deciding to take Heiter’s work to the logical next stage and perfecting his procedure, perhaps even incorporating the poor Ashley into the new centipede.  Some rumours have even had her psychological damage from the incident being the catalyst for her involvement in the creation of the new centipede however that’s more likely than not little more than fan fiction as it’s almost unimaginable that she would be able to recruit someone with the necessary skill set to put off the operation let alone a giant leap to change her character.

However they resolve this issue will decide whether the second Centipede film manages to live up to the critical and audience reaction that First Sequence enjoyed and will most likely have an affect on whether a third installment gets off the ground.  There is one horror tradition that Six will be looking to avoid though.  He’s already used the age old tale of unsuspecting victims broken down on a deserted road and unwittingly walking into their own nightmare but what he’ll hopefully be able to side step is the long standing tradition of horror sequels being absolutely terrible.  Having spoken to the man himself prior to the Season 1 Movie Bar screening of The Human Centipede – First Sequence I was overwhelmed by just how funny he is and how his love of film and fearless disregard for conservative backlash and I hope that The Human Centipede – Full Sequence delivers everything he has promised and leaves a scar on London that makes Jack The Ripper look a childrens entertainer.

Here's a list of 10 of the worst horror sequels we've been subjected to.
1. Jaws - The Revenge
2. The Blair Witch 2 - Book of Shadows
3. A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 3
4. The Birds 2 - Land's End
5. Halloween 2
6. Friday the 13th 5
7. American Psycho 2
8. Psycho 2
9. Leprechaun 2
10. The Lost Boys 2

Since publishing this blog The Human Centipede 2 [Full Sequence] has been released, click [here] for the review.

Friday, 6 May 2011


Certificate: 12A
Running time: 114 mins
Director: Kenneth Branagh
Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Anthony Hopkins
Genre: Action/Fantasy
Country: USA

There’s seemingly little that can stop the Stan Lee Marvel machine at the moment as it moves towards cinematic world domination.  The God of Thunder is the latest comic book hero to get the big screen treatment as we get ever closer to Joss Whedon’s Avengers film.  So far we have had two Iron Man films and if you discount Ang Lee’s outing (which most people do) one Incredible Hulk adaptation that have put the first stitches into the Avengers quilt and with Captain America still to come there’s even more set up for arguably what’s due to be the biggest comic book adaptation of all time.

When Asgard is infiltrated by the frost giants on the day on Thor’s (Chris Hemsworth) inauguration as king the initial reaction is to take the fight to them in order to prevent any future breach of security.  Odin (Anthony Hopkins) having seen and been exhausted by war against the frost giants is more reluctant to turn the realms into a battlefield and orders no such action.  Ignoring his father and taking the fight to King Laufey (Colm Feore) and his men Thor is stripped of his powers and banished to Earth as a mortal with his hammer charmed to answer to “one worthy enough to wield it”.  Down and out in New Mexico our hero comes across a group of scientists lead by Portman (as Jane Foster) and so begins the journey to redemption and ultimately stop a coup in Asgard.

Many fans of the comic book would have wore the same puzzled expression when learning that their favourite superhero was going to get the big screen treatment thanks to thespian Kenneth Branagh as he’s not the first director you would even consider for such a film.  However it seems like a perfect, if not slightly odd, marriage.  Thor has at it’s heart of the narrative very Shakespearian narrative devices at work and at points is not too far away from being a once removed adaptation of Coriolanus with ideas of loyality, power and betrayal all key elements of the story.  As director, you can’t fault Branagh’s vision behind the camera.  With the Marvel studio plus CGI labs behind him, has been able to bring to life not just Stan Lee’s interpretation of Thor but also the stories he would have been told as a child and pays tribute to the mythology with the casting of the always excellent Stellan Skarsgard (as Erik Selvig) is able to ground the legend of Thor in a context that is accessible by all.

The overall aesthetic of the film is extremely strong, the exuberant Asgard with it’s palace and bio-frost is glorious and a wonderful contrast to the muted desert tones of New Mexico and it’s low rise properties.  The battle between the frost giants and Asgardians (which led to Thor’s exile) is wonderfully shot, with strong CGI and is very well choreographed and assembled.  It can sometimes be tricky for a director not well versed in action to piece together a chaotic fight sequence that allows the audience to see enough to follow; many audiences had issue with Nolan’s fight sequences in Batman Begins for just this reason.  The score to the film was competant enough, like the cinematography it was conservative and sat comfortably within the confines of the genre though at time was a little too similar in tone and pacing to that of the signature score from Batman Begins and The Dark Knight and because of this was a little distracting in parts.

Chris Hemsworth (as Thor) does a solid enough job, he was neither great nor terrible.  At points he flirted with becoming a little too comic book but his speech and gesturality all screamed of what we imagine the God of Thunder would be if we ever encountered him.  Portman, having just won an Oscar, was something of a disappoint though that could be largely due to the script as there was little in the role for her that was anything other than exposition or playing to Thor’s narrative.  Same to be said, unfortunately, for Stellan Skarsgard and Kat Dennings who’s comedy timing and screen presence was the only thing that prevented her appearance in the film from being completely forgotten.  Anthony Hopkins (as Odin) like Hemsworth gives a solid performance and played the role in a very Shakespearian way which was great to see but unfortunately the content wasn’t there to back up such a heavy weight actor.  He did, however, have more to do than Rene Russo (the Queen) who was under utilised and if you consider the fact that they had such a rich narrative with such Shakespearian elements laced throughout is a real missed opportunity.  Hiddleston (as Loki) is good value throughout and matches his brothers brawn with a guile and intelligence that is needed in the role unfortunately the script lets down Loki’s intelligence as the character arcs and plot twists are all extremely run of the mill and are telegraphable a good mile away before occurring.

Without doubt the two most enjoyable performances are that of Colm Feore (as the frost giant king Laufey) and Idris Elba (Heimdall – the Gatekeeper).  Both actors have enjoyed successful careers until now without reaching the heights of Hopkins and Russo and do so much more with the little they are given.  It would be criminal not to mention Agent Coulson (Clark Gregg) who faithfully pops up again but the more you see of him the more you realise that he’s little more than a linch pin that holds the worlds of Tony Stark, Bruce Banner and Thor together so that the inevitable Avengers film doesn’t seem to be too much of a stretch.

For all their output Marvel are yet to produce a Superhero film that’s anything other than cheap.  Narratively there is little difference between Iron Man (1 and 2), The Incredible Hulk and Thor they all contain the same issues, same plot twists and same problems.  As a film, especially a comic book film, there’s a degree of suspension of disbelief that must be accepted in order to buy into the story but that can only stretch so far.  There’s no issue with mythological gods, giant fire breathing robots or other realms but there is an issue with weak story telling and the one unbelievable narrative stretch in Thor is the love story.  The relationship between Thor and Jane is so under developed and ‘stuck on’ that Thor’s revelation of character is completely laughable and clearly fault of the writing.

Joss Whedon will clearly be able to resolve these issues as his television writing on Buffy, Angel, Firefly and (the shamefully cancelled too early) Dollhouse proves.  However he will be faced with an even greater problem.  If there are issues with the balance of the narrative in a Superhero film featuring one Superhero then how is he going to be able to balance a narrative against a series of action packed set pieces with at least four different heroes all requiring their own screen time, character development, conflict and most likely love interests?

Before the screening of Thor the only comic book films that have been worthwhile watching in recent years have been Christopher Nolan’s brilliant Batman installments…nothing happened during those 114 minutes to change that.

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

5x5 Grindhouse Style

Christina Lindberg

It's probably not surprising if you don't know anything about Christina and even if you do you might just pretend you don't but this Swedish star help model a genre and even more impressive a generation of young lads who loved her.  Here are five 5 star flicks that should take you back to a time of cinematic experimentation and exploitation.

1. Thriller - A Cruel Picture / They Called Her One Eye
Christina as "One Eye" the mute survivor of sexual abuse who is a killer, a trained killer and out for revenge.  This will was listed on the 100 Other Films to Watch before you Die and is well well worth the watch.

2. Every Afternoon
Also known as Swedish Hellcats and is the Diana Dors vehicle about sadism and sex and all the things that go bump in a brothel.

3. Around the World with Fanny Hill
An early supporting role alongside Shirley Corrigan as Fanny Hill who takes herself off around the world seducing actors to make a name for herself hotly pursued by her hubby.

4. What are you Doing After the Orgy?
Struggling barber and returning with set up a "private" enterprise in their house with daughter Anna Bella (Christina) as the main draw.

5. Maid in Sweden
Small town girl rushes off to the big city and goes about a voyage of self discovery.

Like the stars of Russ Meyers or Tinto Brass films Christina has, largely, a specific audience base.  Unlike those however she's under appreciated, especially in Thriller.  Enjoy and remember they're only movies, don't enjoy too can go blind.

Next up...

< Fred Williamson >

Monday, 2 May 2011

May 2nd 1999

On this date Robert Oliver Reed died while shooting the Ridley Scott film Gladiator.  Today I'll be watching Women in Love and Castaway and thinking of you Ollie.  The world of cinema has been a boring ass place since you left us behind.

Love you dad!  We'll never forget what's'name!

Sunday, 1 May 2011

5x5 Grindhouse Style

Roosevelt "Rosey" Grier

American Sports fans will know Roosevelt or Rosey Grier as an American football player, what they might not know is he was also a singer, actor in the Blaxploitation movement and a Christian minister.  What's even more impressive than all of this is the fact that Rosey disarmed Robert Kennedy's assassin seconds after he fired the shots in the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles.  Here is Rosey's five 5 star films worth watching.

1. The Thing with Two Heads
Already listed in the 100 other films to watch before you die this is The Defiant Ones meets The Human Centipede as the head of a dying white supremist is grafted to Rosey's black inmate body and the two are forced to work together as they break out of prison.

2. Skyjacked
From the David Harper novel, a Vietnam vet hijacks a 707 and demands to be taken to Russia.  Rosey in a supporting role alongside James Brolin and Charlton Heston.

3. Black Brigade
Hillbilly Captain Carter is given a special mission to take an important bridge during World War 2 and is given an all black squadron to do so.  Richard Prior and Moses Gunn co-star.

4. Timber Tramps
It's lumberjacks, hatchets and lots of drinking and fist fights.  Is there anything else you could ask for?

5. The Glove
It's got a bounty hunter tracking down an armoured man to get the glove he dispenses his punishment with and co-stars everyone's favourite dad John Saxon.

Hopefully this has wet the appetite for some of you to jump into the work of the smooth giant from Georgia.  The man is an absolute legend and should appear more often in people's DVD collections.

Next up...

< Christina Lindberg >

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