Thursday, 26 April 2012

Lloyd Kaufman speaks On the Count of 3

Troma mogul Lloyd Kaufman took some time out of his schedule and his shoot for On the Count of 3 to help out with fundraising.  To hear from the man himself there's a video below and if you feel moved by his appeal then click [here] to give a little back.

- Lloyd Kaufman interviews -

Wednesday, 25 April 2012


Certificate: 15
Running time: 121 mins
Director: Alex Proyas
Starring: Nicolas Cage, Rose Byrne, Chandler Canterbury, Lara Robinson
Genre: Drama, Mystery
Country: USA

The one man that could have made Titanic an even worse film than it was represents in the first of this sites Salute to Cage.  Straight out of the blocks is Knowing, a sci-fi mystery film that sees Cage’s on screen son Caleb (Canterbury) participate in a time capsule opening at his school.  While each child ends up with an outdated view of the world from fifty years ago Caleb is presented with a sequence of numbers, a sequence that appears to have predicted every natural and man made disaster over the last five decades and if correct is about to herald more including the end of the world.

Scholarly John Koestler (Cage) tasks himself with understanding and, where possible, preventing the forthcoming disasters from taking place and is accompanied along the way by Diana (Rose Byrne; Bridesmaids) and her daughter Abby (Lara Robinson who also plays Lucinda 50 years earlier).  Koestler turns to mathematics to decipher the events and in doing so threatens to offer us something with a little more substance than National Treasures, this threat is short lived and probably best kept for Tim Kring’s Touch which evolves out of the same pond as Knowing and stars Kiefer Sutherland and Danny Glover.  As the events reach the present day the equations give way to explosions and a mixture of breathtaking choreography and breathtakingly awkward CGI.  The train derailment which Koestler arrives at with just enough time to witness has a level of authenticity that leaves you marvelling at how beautifully destructive the whole thing is but true to form this is a Nicolas Cage film so nothing can be left unseen, unsaid or to chance and Knowing tips it’s hand in attempting to make this disaster even more awe inspiring than it already is and in doing so tips it’s hand into the realm of absurdity.  I know, this is a realm that Nicolas Cage is a scholar and his son has inadvertently been handed a map of the future and our subsequent lack there of is absurd but there’s only so much disbelief that can be suspended before the dam bursts and we’re all floating around in ridiculousness.

Cage starts out rather restrained but the real mathematical equation of the film is Cage = Plot silliness + (budget x wtf) and it’s only a matter of time before he slips back into his psychedelic Elvis impression but the true measure of the Cage absurdity spectrum is when he tips out of being Elvis and just stares at things.  Sometimes the Academy should be able to take it back, Cage’s staring and overacting reminds me of Captain Corelli if Captain Corelli was completely off his face on glue and Night Nurse.  There’s something about Cage in this mode, it’s awful but in it’s own precious way it’s highly enjoyable.  Byrne showcases the talent and ability that oozes from her as she’s able to make all of her on screen moments honest and watchable which in this film is nothing short of a miracle.  The rest of the cast are like chicken soup in that you appreciate the unchallenging nature of them but you can’t help but think they’re trying to put a shift in and get out before things really go the shape of the pear.

As the film takes a turn towards the mysterious and other worldly the audience is confronted with their first test and if it’s a test you don’t pass then there’s little point continuing as the film takes a drastic and uncheck pointed left into the land of WTF.  As much as I would love to discuss just how unbelievably idiotic/brilliant the last chapter of the film actually is I can’t bring it upon myself to take that 40 minutes of “but what…how…why…what?” away from people who sit perplexed during the closing credits, for those who have experienced and are now knowing click [here] if you’re uncertain as to what I’m talking about.  It’s beyond ridiculous, it’s Nicolas.

The film has a general feel of a recovering alcohol with the will power of a nine year old.  It sets out with the best intensions, it strives from respectability and intellectual understanding but you know it simply won’t last.  You want the best for it but you know it’s only a matter of time before it’s screaming outside your house that “life’s like custard and if you can’t accept that I’ll sleep in my shoes” why’s meant by that?  Who knows, who cares it’s ridiculous.  One redeeming quality about the film is that it appears to be a thinly veiled attack on a bullshit Hollywood religion starring a man who freely admits to prank calling devout followers in his spare time.  Regardless of how bad the film is, and believe me for all of it’s budget and ability to attract talented individuals it’s completely devoid of an quality it’s almost nice that it’s little more than a multi million dollar dog turd in a flaming bag left on the steps of Hollywood.  Go Cage!

Tuesday, 24 April 2012


Certificate: 15
Running time: 98 mins
Director: George Tillman Jr.
Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Billy Bob Thornton, Carla Gugino
Genre: Action, Vigilante
Country: USA

Having spent more than a chunk of change in prison for a botched bank robbery that saw his gang double crossed and his brother killed the getaway driver (Johnson) sets his sights on bringing about to speedy death of all those involved with only cops (Gugino and Thornton) between him and his special kind of justice.

The vigilante film is a genre that’s particularly close to my cinema-going heart, it allows you to live out the primal instincts without the subsequent consequences as all too often it’s only the consequences that actually stop us from going rogue in whatever particular corner of the world we inhabit…perhaps that’s just me.  What a vigilante film does is highlight the flaws in society and identify where the rules, the rules we made, fall short before pitching it’s tent out right in the middle of legal and often moral no man’s land.  The story therefore is go great reinvention, it’s one man who’s decided that he will hold people accountable after society has failed him and that’s that.  

Narratively there’s little in Faster that doesn’t propel the primary story, for the most part our protagonist isn’t even referred to by name simply introduced to the audience as “Driver” and on a handful of occasions when the film does seem to thread on ground that might be interesting in it’s own right these are abandoned.  For instance when the driver is negotiating with his P.I over the names and particulars of those involved in his brothers death and the price goes up the P.I invites his piece of office muscle to get involved but one look at a tattoo and mentioning that the driver is “a ghost” and that he has “no beef with you” moistens that vigilante gland that resides within us all.  Why doesn’t a 300lb meat head even want to stand toe to toe with this guy?  Why was he effectively left to his own devices in prison?  He must be serious business right?  Perhaps…but that’s none of your or my business and there’ll be no more talk of it so drop it.  Bizarre right?  This happens a few times throughout the film as Tillman Jr. flashes a tempting piece of characterisation only to pull it away.  With the vigilante film you’re meant to feel at peace with the protagonist but all too often this dropping of narrative points moments after mentioning them leaves you frustrated with Faster.  There are some nice points with the story, the use of the found footage to cover a lot of the clunky exposition these films require is a lovely touch and it gives Carla Gugino more to do than she would have had without it and that can only ever be a good thing.  It also feeds us effortlessly in and out of flashbacks which are designed to strengthen our bond with the driver.

Johnson (as the driver) is cast perfectly.  He has genuine acting ability, you see flashes of it in everything he does, even the most action based roles are peppered with moments of strong emotional content that help sell the character.  This is without doubt the darkest role he’s had in his career (if you discount those times when he went heel while in Rock mode) but he doesn’t lose his humanity.  You see what the loss of his brother has done to him, this is highlighted further in the flashback and video footage and the more primal and animalistic he is the more human he seems.  He has apparently been cast to play Charley Pride in Pride’s biopic which will be a fantastic challenge and, perhaps, a new avenue in his film career and should showcase what wrestling fans and action junkies have known for some time now.  Thornton’s performance is straight out of the 'Billy Bob down but not out' catalogue, now that’s not to say he isn’t quality…he is.  The small beats, micro-gestures and moments of tenderness with his on screen son all help to flesh out a rather unchallenging role but you have seen BBT in this mode before.  Seeing him as worn out and struggling to hold it together is somehow comforting, he’s masterful.  Gugino, Xander Berkley and Tom Berenger are all magnetic but horribly under used.  You almost get the sense that this was a 150 minute film that’s been forced under 100 minutes as these performers are deserving or more, nevertheless they’re great to see…even if it must be in small measures.  Matt Gerald is an odd piece of casting, fans of The Shield will be glad to see him gamefully employed again but he’s a tough sell as Johnson’s brother, not because he isn’t Samoan but because he looks less like Johnson than Stone Cold Steven Austin does, this is thankfully eluded to.  Oliver Jackson-Cohen (the Contract Killer) plays the oddest character, I understand why he’s there, I appreciate the suspense his character brings to the narrative I just don’t particularly care or buy it.  The cat and mouse of the vigilante film is between the law and the lawless, it’s a finely balanced karmic see-saw between two characters, to throw in a third character who is lawless but is acting as the pseudo law (as he’s attempting to eliminate the driver) throws off the films centre of gravity.  You add that to the fact that he has several under developed and aborted story archs and you’re left with the only reason he’s on screen is so you can have Maggie Grace in her lingerie and if that’s the case just have five minutes of Maggie Grace in her lingerie the core demographic for the film isn’t going to worry too much about why she’s there.

There are a few other issues with Faster, you never really get the feeling that the driver can be bested.  In Man on Fire for example Creasy is injured seriously enough that the completion of his vigilante mission is in doubt…not really but narratively there’s an outside chance.  That tension is lacking in Faster, the film also plays towards a revelation that’s only a revelation to anyone who’s slept through the first 80 minutes as it’s clearly sign posted from the get go.  It is however highly enjoyable and a lot more fun that the rating system can really allow you to infer.  You will have seen it all before, you will know all the turns in the road that the driver’s muscle car to tearing up towards and you’ll know the final destination before you get there but that doesn’t mean that you can’t sit back and enjoy the ride while it lasts.

Friday, 20 April 2012

The Crippled Masters

Certificate: 18
Running time: 90 mins
Director: Kei Law
Starring: Frankie Shum, Jackie Conn, Mu Chuan Chen
Genre: Action, Martial Arts, Drama, Exploitation
Country: Taiwan

The name and synopsis alone are all too often enough to polarise an audience as The Crippled Masters has been cleverly dubbed Cripsploitation by some fans of Exploitation cinema but putting hyperbole aside long enough to view the film just how outrageous and distasteful can it be?

Lee Ho (Shum) has been cast out by his employer Lin who’s making a move to take over the entire region and turn all rival martial arts schools into casinos.  Having his arms severed by a sword he is beaten and left for dead by Tang (Conn) only for Tang to become the next victim of Lin’s strategy when he has acid poured on his legs and dumped in the neighbouring forest.  Now disabled the two men team up with an old Kung Fu master to take on Lin and discover the secrets of unbeatable Kung Fu.

If The Crippled Masters feels like a film you have seen before it’s probably due to a few reasons.  The first is that narratively it adheres pretty faithfully to a tradition of Martial Arts story telling, Master is corrupt and unworthy – Apprentice trains to combat former Master – the men fight.  Most Kung Fu features, and Westerns for that matter, deal with greed and combat to restore order in much the same way.  The second reason is because it’s 1979 and though not at it’s peak the Martial Arts genre it still has a few years of worth left in it and the cinematic conventions of elaborate sound effects, big gesturality and long stares into close up cameras.  The Crippled Masters did not invent these devices but it is as skilled as any other film that came out of Asia at delivering them.  It’s the aesthetic that Quentin Tarantino mimicked so well in Kill Bill Vol. I (and to a lesser extent Vol. II) to great financial and critical reward.  It’s this familiarity that makes the film even more compelling as an audience member.  Like all genres there are audience expectations of what should be contained within and deviation, though original, all too often jars with the audience.  The Crippled Masters contains such a high level of what’s expected that it’s impossible not to be swept away in the euphoria that comes with a thrill ride you’re somewhat familiar with.  Not even the fact that the soundtrack seemingly has a mind of it’s own, starting and stopping whenever it pleases at whatever volume it desires can detract from the pleasure of the film…I have no idea how it doesn’t detract it just feels right.  I also don't know how there wasn't even a consideration to dealing with why Lee Ho didn't bleed out.  He doesn't even attempt to seek medical treatment, this is the biggest issue with the film if you can believe that.  It's a silly oversight but do we even care?  Kinda.

As performances go the Martial Arts film demands the most physical of performances from those involved.  The fact that Shum and Conn are physically disabled doesn’t lessen the demands of the film but merely highlights just how powerful and hard working both men were throughout their lives, not just when the camera was on them.  Shum’s flexibility and precision with his feet and legs are awe inspiring as he twirls bamboo sticks and throws rocks with his feet, his skill with what little arm he has on his left side is phenomenal and his speed and skill set is remarkable.  His stunt work is also hugely impressive as he is seemingly game for anything including tumbling head first down a flight of stairs.  For an able bodied actor to do that is considerable as it only takes one bad knock to do serious damage but for a man who’s unable to protect his face from the repeatedly oncoming concrete highlights a degree of self assurance or bravery that’s beyond refreshing.  Conn’s performance is less flashy but equally worthy of awe as his upper body strength is sensational.  The way in which he throws himself around, especially in the fight sequences and in particular the fight with Lin, would lead you to believe that he weighs nothing at all.  His muscle definition and strength in his arms are what makes it so easy for him sell the combat scenes so well as even though they are cleverly well choreographed with him in mind his speed and precision allow you to forget this and focus on just how skilled the man is.  You almost feel sorry for Mu Chuan Chen (Lin).  As the films chief baddie it was never going to be his film and in the sequences with fighters like Pao (played brilliantly by Hsiang Mei Lung) you see how knowledgeable and talented he is as a practitioner but all eyes are on Shum and Conn, more so as main stream cinema has lead us to believe that people with physical disabilities are incapable of doing many things, and as such Chen’s screen presence suffers though admittedly his fight with “the Crippled Masters” and Conn in particular is an amazing example of how Martial Arts can be as beautiful and graceful as dance.

Praise needs to be lavished on director Kei Law also.  Taiwan’s disability policy was ahead of it’s time but that doesn’t mean that the director wouldn’t have been either under pressure or tempted to make a ‘freak show’ piece which was heavier on close ups on the actors disabilities than on narrative content or showcasing the Kung Fu abilities.  To Law’s credit he created a film that was beautifully balanced and blind to disability.  The Crippled Masters is perhaps one of the most uplifting pieces of cinema you will see as these two men will put our physical exertions to shame without breaking a sweat and is a hugely rewarding, if narratively conventional, a Kung Fu classic.

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Take A Hike

Certificate: Unrated
Running time: 11 mins
Director: Mark Blitch
Starring: Taylor James Brandt, Todd Terry
Genre: Drama/Short/Comedy
Country: USA

Back in the fledgling month of the year this site reviewed Mark Blitch’s award winning horror comedy The Code starring Taylor James Brandt and Todd Terry.  The pair return for Blitch’s family-to-be comedy drama Take A Hike which features a father and potential son-in-law as they take to bush in order to connect with one another.

The first thing you’ll notice about Take A Hike is how completely unlike The Code it is.  Blitch’s freshman short was flashy and self aware in that comic book/comedy way that was quite apt and fitting for the subject matter.  Take A Hike is a more restraint sophomore offering with only a few moments of visual flash, similarly the script is a lot softer in tone.  The laughs are allowed time to develop and stems from a confidence that been gained with having his previous success.  With a matured script in place, cast ready and a gorgeously rugged location the film is able to trek alongside it’s protagonists.  There’s a richness to the light in Take A Hike that has a warmth that’s tinged with sorrow and it’s thanks to Hannah Blitch who’s work on the film has secured the visual beauty of the film.

Taylor James Brandt, like Blitch, showcases another side of him ability.  As Adam he demonstrates a level of complexity that will make you sit upright and take note.  The childish likability of the character is fussed with a desire take the next step.  There are several moments in the film that will genuinely make you laugh and endears the character to the audience.  His screen presence is exceptionally strong, he has moments that are reminiscent of Zach Braff (in the best possible way).  Terry’s performance (as David) is remarkable, the complications in his relationship with Adam are commonplace but it’s the way in which he plays them that make all the difference.  It’s in the moments between the dialogue that Terry populates with rich emotion and sadness as it becomes more and more obvious that his issue might be more to do with the losing of his little girl rather than any shortcomings that Adam may or may not have.

Blitch’s follow-up is a mature and visually rich tale that we can all relate to, in making Take A Hike he has demonstrated that the talent and ability of all involved in the creation of The Code was not a fluke and has not been wasted.  Having enjoyed his freshman offering, savoured his sophomore we wait in anticipation for his junior contribution and ultimately a wonderful cinematic graduation.

Take A Hike can be viewed by clicking [here]

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Troma Legend Kaufman joins On The Count of 3

Lloyd Kaufman has officially joined the cast of the new over-the-top, violent action film, On the Count of 3 from independent filmmakers Brett O. Walker and Christopher Coffel.

On the Count of 3 is the debut feature from Walker and Coffel. They co-wrote the script together and Walker will be directing. The film is about two rogue detectives, Charles and Richard, that quit the force and join a secret government agency with the purpose of stopping the world’s deadliest criminals. Their first assignment is to track down the brutal bank robber Porter Rigby.

Kaufman, the legendary independent filmmaking icon, head of Troma Entertainment and creator of The Toxic Avenger will be playing a supporting role as Police Chief Williamson.

“We’re incredibly excited to have a film god like Lloyd on board,” says Coffel. “He’ll be a great addition to the cast and I can’t think of anyone better to be Chief Williamson. You can’t beat a police chief in a bowtie.”
On the Count of 3 is currently in the pre-production and fundraising stage. Walker and Coffel have launched an IndieGoGo campaign to raise funds. In exchange for donations, funders will receive a wide variety of great perks based on how much they donate.

The film will begin shooting in July around the Phoenix area. Along with Kaufman, On the Count of 3 stars Alan Johnson and James Palazzolo. 

If rogue cops, covert feds and the father of Toxie tickles your fancy then you can contribute towards On the Count of 3's financing campaign by clicking [here] and follow the progress of the film on Facebook.

Monday, 16 April 2012

Movie Bar presents HEROES!

Movie Bar presents

The Movie Bar's special one off event that celebrates the unsung Superheroes of Exploitation cinema, a movie marathon of capes, villains, masks and pants on the outside of your clothing on Sunday 5th August 2012 in the Studio Theatre from 7:00PM.

3 Supermen Against Godfather
Three masked superheroes in the one ass kickin' movie which sees the world chase after the German inventor of a time machine but who'll get to it first?

The Super Inframan
A demon princess plots to take over the Earth, the only person who can stop her in Super Inframan!!  The first Superhero movie to come out of China and one of the Shaw Brothers classic cinematic offerings.

The Human Tornado
Rudy Ray Moore is back and coming to the rescue of Queen Bee who's nightclub has come under threat from the greatest terror of all...the white man who just so happens to be mob connected.


The Champions of Justice
An army of evil dwarves are on the warpath and the only thing that can stop them is a masked wrestling hero. Blue Demon, Black Shadow and Miss Mexico in an all punching, double suplexing, dropkickin' finale!

Tickets are £10.00 for the night and available to buy online [here].

Friday, 13 April 2012

American Grindhouse

Certificate: 15
Running time: 80 mins
Director: Elijah Drenner
Starring: Robert Forster, Kim Morgan, John Landis, Herschell Gordon Lewis
Genre: Documentary
Country: USA

In theory as double bills go American Grindhouse should sit perfectly with something like Machete Maidens Unleashed or the recently released Corman’s World.  Where Machete Maidens was a reminiscence of a time that was chaotic and hugely entertaining, a stroll through the memories of some of the cornerstones of the Exploitation era American Grindhouse is, in theory, a homage to the venues that kept stars like Marlene Clark, Pam Grier and Judy Brown coming back to our screens time and time again.  American Grindhouse is quick to point out the difference between Exploitation and Grindhouse which is much like having to point out the difference between the abattoir and a McDonald’s restaurant but quickly lapses into a trap that was all too evident from the beginning.

What the name suggests, what the name promises, is a retrospective look at the 24/7 come hell and high water we never shut Grindhouse cinemas, how they went about their business and how they kept the doors open, kept their punters coming and the experience fresh.  Exploitation cinema is a wash with stories from the more gimmicky offerings which saw the audience marry Satan before the film, drink demon blood, undergo hypnosis etc.  These stories belong as much to the venue as they do the films but all this was barely touched upon.  42nd Street is, for all fans of Exploitation cinema, Mecca and sadly one we can never experience as that time has gone and those involved failed to see the importance of preservation.  Rather than explore the characters operating there New York’s beautiful 42nd Street is simply used as a frame of reference, a backdrop in which the origins, history and evolution of Exploitation cinema is mapped out by those involved and film historians.  This in itself is of interest, Kim Morgan’s knowledge alone is something I’d give several digits on my right hand to be able to paw at but unlike Machete Maidens Unleashed the talking heads of American Grindhouse felt as they there were detached from the process, the enthusiasm that Joe Dante seemingly exudes with every recollection is missing and though there are a handful of films you add to your ‘watch list’ (mainly from the pre-code era) there’s little that genuinely enthuses you about a subject matter that is, by definition, nothing but enthusiasm.

The film suffers from a lack of Kim Morgan, Joe Dante, Herschell Gordon Lewis not to mention some of the 42nd Street exhibitors.  All of these individuals not only have great insight but a screen presence that’s contagious, you know they love the subject matter and that sort of emotion could only help in a film that felt very much like a visual history assignment.  Robert Forster (as narrator) does a solid job, his voice is the voice of an omniscient guide and is perfect suited for American Grindhouse, the film footage is well considered and researched and some of it is so rare that you do genuinely feel like you’re being treated to something special but is hampered by it’s presentation and, at least in my mind, a few wrong directions along the way.  Interestingly the film picks up, in tempo, passion and pleasure when they reach the 1960’s and the work of HGL.  He has that ballsy and brass way about him that was reminiscent of Hori Smoku Sailor Jerry and was the shot in the arm that American Grindhouse needed.  Regardless of what you think of Lewis’ work, personally he’s as important to Exploitation as John Ford is the Western, the man can tell a story and does it in such a way that even the most mundane recollection has all the suspense and intrigue of a John Le Carre mystery.

American Grindhouse is a perfect introduction, an Exploitation 101 if you will, for those who have the desire to encounter the genre of cinema but perhaps wish to know more before they make their decision as to where to begin.  For the rest of us it’s an opportunity missed.  There are countless documentaries about Exploitation cinema and more coming, this was a chance to build a cinematic monument to the venues that have long since closed their doors and been swept away in the ever changing landscape of twenty-first century America and I for one would like to one day see that monument.

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Another Marvellous Mess

It should be stated in advance that I really do enjoy the work of Joss Whedon.  Buffy the Vampire Slayer and to a lesser extent Angel portrayed universal issues cleverly wrapped up in a non threatening, non therapeutic package that's as clever as it is enjoyable.  Firefly was misunderstood and ahead of it’s time, Dollhouse wasn’t given the chance it deserved and suffered from the level of expectation from Execs and fans alike as Whedon re-teamed with Dushku.  I want The Avengers to be all it can be but unfortunately I am more than prepared to be under whelmed.

The reason for this buckle in and prepare for the mediocrity crash is because the very ethos of the film is so anti Hollywood, anti American even, that it can only even end in disaster.  How can a film featuring Captain America be anti American?  How can a multi million dollar Blockbuster be anti Hollywood?  So glad you asked.  Since the relocation from the East to the West Coast and setting up shop in California to tell their tales Hollywood has been the pioneer of the individual storyline, it’s deeply rooted in America’s history.  The American Dream, the capitalist ethos of every individual working towards their own ends.  This is why, all too often, Hollywood cinema is accused of being overly simplistic when dealing with large historical tales.  The focus is all wrong.  Rather than dealing with the Socio-Political effects of the American Civil War, the sinking of the Titanic, the attacks on the Twin Towers Hollywood tells the story of how these far reaching events affect the individual.  The story of the many, the story of the group is a typically Socialist form of cinema.  The Battleship Potemkin tells the story of the uprising of an entire crew as one unit, Battleship tells the story of individuals…see where we are going?  For The Avengers to work the narrative needs to be almost Socialist in style and direction but instead it will a tale of individuals and the biggest battle any of these Superheroes will have will be the battle for screen time.

Looking back at Kenneth Branagh’s Thor indicates the problems ahead, narratively the film was barely able to plot a convincing story arch between Thor and pretty Scientist type Jane Foster (played by Natalie Portman).  “I am Thor” “That’s not possible, my scientific mind rejects this statement and concludes there must be something wrong with you” “But look how I can’t interact with this realm!” “That’s me sold you really are Thor” granted the dialogue contained here wasn’t exactly how to rolled out in the film but I find it a lot more honest to the rushed mess they called character development.  Consider this and then remember that this was a film that was trying to tell the story of just one hero…imagine the cinematic carnage we are in story for.

Every battle has winners and losers so it’s probably worthwhile looking at who’s going to be the losers of The Avengers.  First up this will be the first cinematic meeting between Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) and the cash waving fans of celluloid so his character will remain undeveloped and will be little more than a supporting role and ultimately be used as a device for furthering the grand narrative.  Think of Jeremy’s role in Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol and give him less to do.  Similarly Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) is without her own film, it’s either an example of how female heroes simply aren’t believable (a real insult when you consider all the other disbelief you have to suspend to get through a Superhero film but not unlike Hollywood as it has serious trouble writing strong female roles) or there’s not enough to her character to carry an entire film…Elektra anyone?  No real character development for you Black Widow though there will be a basket full of slow motion shots of your booty in your figure hugging Sunday finest…enough to give the weekend Dad a difficult time walking back to the car.  What will, most likely, happen is you’ll be reduced to furthering the narratives of the manly manly men who stand centre stage and if you’re lucky they’ll throw you a love story.  The Hulk is the biggest shock loser of this film, Ruffalo (having stepped into the stretchy pants made vacant by Ed Norton’s ego) comes to The Avengers as a new face in an established and troubled character and while he’s a great actor he hasn’t had the time to showcase his interpretation of Banner and will probably struggle to carve out his own time.  Captain America and Thor come in at second and third place, with the big bad (to quote Whedon) being Thor's kin and prospective kidney donor you’d imagine the story would push Thor to the forefront but the character is painfully uninteresting.  Captain America, outside of the U.S, was never a big seller in the comic stakes and I think out of time, out of context and without Red Skull he’s going to be as awkward as a Joel Schumacher Batman as an example of the ‘Don’t Ask Don’t Tell’ rule.  This leaves the road to the winners podium clearly for the wise cracking, scene stealing smugness that is the sober and thoroughly annoying/boring Downey Jr.  He's become a lot more dull since becoming Hollywood' clean and respectable darling.

Don’t get me wrong, he’s very much suited to the role of Tony Stark but that doesn’t mean that sometimes wishing he would rust isn’t appropriate.  Iron Man is the front runner with two individual movies and a third in the pipe and unlike The Hulk hasn’t had to go through face lift after face lift as they strive to fine the movie that works alongside the actor that brings balance to the big green meanie.

I’ve failed to mention the biggest loser in all of this and that’s, unsurprisingly, the cinema going public.  With the exception of Batman Begins and The Dark Knight Superhero films have been mediocre at best, watch Iron Man and The Incredible Hulk side by side or back to back or whatever other way you want and tell me they are not the exact same film.  Marvel have been selling comic book fans crappy Grand View property for years in an effort to build up to The Avengers film which can never ever live up to even a fifth of the hype but you won’t know that for certain until you’ve paid your money and once you’ve done that and the Box Office figures are in then we’re pretty much guaranteed an invasion of Superhero team movies that will leave you uninspired, unfulfilled and so very very tired.  I hope I’m wrong but The Avengers strikes me as a step beyond breaking point, too many Chiefs…too many Cooks…too many Alter-egos and not enough script.

Wanting a second look at the Marvel Movies that led to The Avengers or interested in the Movie Bar equivalent?  Click [here] to find out more.

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Beware of the Twisted Danger

As a fan of all things Exploitation, interesting, different and down right difficult to find I stumbled upon Twisted Anger with a level of excitement unmatched in adulthood.  After a quick browse of the large and varied catalogue I ordered a copy of the Filipino Batman and Robin DVD for $7.95...that was in February.  Three weeks later and still no caped crusading action from Manila and I contacted the site, two weeks after that a response and then nothing since asking for either a new disc (as I'm assuming mine was lost) or the money refunded.  

You will be tempted as there's a lot of excellent films listed on this site but don't bother, it's a waste of time and energy.  The site states it's run "by a fan for the fans" but if that was true I'd have some Tony Y Reyes antics to enjoy.

Monday, 9 April 2012

Chicago and Texas get Familiar

Earlier in the year I was fortunate enough to review Richard Powell's atmospheric short film Familiar, available [here], now it seems that the word is spreading and respected Horror Film Festivals in Chicago and Texas will play host to Robert Nolan and his inner demons.  If you're unfamiliar with the latest offering from Fatal Pictures the trailer is below.

Familiar plays at the Chicago Fear Fest [April 13th & 14th], the Texas Frightmare Weekend [May 4th-6th] and Dark Bridges Film Festival [May 3rd-6th].  Tickets are available to purchase so if you haven't experienced this great short and are in the area then don't go any longer without seeing one of the most impressive talents in Independent Horror.

Sunday, 1 April 2012

Movie Bar - On Demand

Boldly going places, the Movie Bar On Demand presents a double bill of Exploitation exploration that's satisfy even the most hardened Trekkie.

First up is Irving Pichel's 1950 classic that not only foresaw the modern day Commercial travel but also attempted to portray space travel in a semi realistic way...

Destination Moon

A businessman arranges a trip to the Moon before those darn commies get there first.  Having established a base on man's first step into the Galaxy the astronauts realise they might not be able to make it home.


They Came From Beyond Space

Freddie Francis' adaptation of Joseph Millard's horror in which Astronomers investigate a meteorite shower over England only for them to become possessed by something not of this world.  Starring a young Michael Gough.

Whether you are a Space Cowboy or a Gangster of Love you'll be over the moon for this double bill of zero gravity (see what we did there?!).  To watch both films, completely free with no strings attached simply click [here] and follow the instructions at the bottom of the page for best presentational results.

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