Friday, August 17, 2012

Ed Wood (1994)

Directed By: Tim Burton

Starring: Johnny Depp, Martin Landau, Sarah Jessica Parker

The Main Review: Ed Wood is a 1994 film that chronicles the life of the noble, optimistic Edward D. Wood Jr. The film shows the creation of three of his most well known films, Glen or Glenda, Bride of the Monster, and the infamous Plan 9 From Outer Space. Scenes from each film are recreated wonderfully and the actors involved to a phenomenal job portraying their characters. Johnny Depp plays Ed Wood and Martin Landau gives a unforgettable performance as Bela Lugosi.
And, let me say, Ed Wood and Bela: Definitely a better love story than Twilight.

Ed Wood is a cheery transvestite who idolizes Orson Welles and wants to be a great writer/director/producer. He gets a break when he's hired to create a sex change picture - on the basis that he's the most qualified for the job due to his love of wearing women's clothing and he can get his newly-made friend, Bela Lugosi, to star in it. The flick becomes more of an autobiographical story of Ed Wood's own transvestism, which embarrasses his girlfriend, Dolores (Sarah Jessica Parker) to no end.

After that film - Glen or Glenda - doesn't do as well as he promised, he tries to make his next movies, Bride of the Atom and Grave Robbers from Outer Space - both films having to go through a name change change before being released. He continually has trouble with finances. And, throughout all of this, he looses his (terrible) girlfriend but finds a much cooler one, Kathy. He deals with Bela's drug addiction and death. And he gets all of his friends to become Baptists.
Here's Where It Gets Spoilerific: Um, well... I mean, if you know anything about Ed Wood, you know that he was never really famous or appreciated when he was alive. He descended into alcoholism and monster porn, dying in his fifties. Two years later, he was declared the worst director ever, which has boosted his popularity.

Scenes To Watch Out For: Whenever anyone mentions Boris Karloff to Bela Lugosi. And, later, when Bunny asks their Lugosi-Look-Alike to call Karloff a cocksucker.

Ed Wood's dance in drag.
Really, any of the scenes with Martin Landau are amazing. He portrays Lugosi fantastically.

Anything Else: This film is even better to watch if you're familiar with the films shown in it. The care and detail in their recreation is really quite amazing.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Zack and Miri Make a Porno (2008)

Directed By: Kevin Smith

Starring: Seth Rogan, Elizabeth Banks, Craig Robinson

The Main Review: Zack And Miri Make a Porno is a 2008 film that is basically as straightforward as it's title. Two roommates, Zack and Miri, who've known each other since elementary school, are faced with financial problems and the probability of getting evicted. They decide to make a porno to bring in some cash and become involved with some colorful characters, like Bubbles (played by the magnificent Traci Lords) and Lester the Molester Cockenschtuff (his porn name is Pete Jones). Doesn't that sound quirky and fun? I mean, how can you mess up a film about making porn? 
Maybe by sneakily making it a rom-com.

Zack and Miri are both in their late twenties and struggling to pay their bills. Zack works at a coffee shop while Miri works at a department store. On the night before their ten-year high school reunion, Miri is trying on clothes at the coffee shop. Two teenagers film her changing in her gigantic, granny panties and post it on the Internet. She becomes an instant hit  known as "Granny Panties."

Later, at the reunion, Miri is flirting shamelessly with Bobby Long, an old crush, while Zack gets acquainted with Bobby's boyfriend, Brandon. It turns out that Brandon is a gay porn star and, when he is introduced to Miri, he tells her about her current success as Granny Panties, which she had no idea about.

In the next few days, Zack and Miri's power, water, and heat are all shut off. While in a bar, trying to figure out what to do next, Zack thinks back to Brandon and suggests that they make a porn and sell it to people they went to high school with. Miri reluctantly accepts.
After much discussion, and getting Zack's coworker, Delaney, to produce the movie, they decide to created a porn parody called "Star Whores." They hire Bubbles, Lester, Stacey, Barry and a cameraman, Deacon, and get down to making their porno. However, the day they're about to start filming, the garage they were keeping all of their supplies in gets demolished. They have to start over from scratch and Zack, having a stroke of brilliance, decides that they'll film their porno at the coffee shop he works at and call it "Swallow My Cockuccino."

The filming goes well. However, when Zack and Miri are going to film their sex scene, they both seem a little apprehensive. They promise each other that it's just sex and their feelings towards each other won't change afterwords. 
Here's Where It Gets Spoilerific: Zack and Miri have very romantic and intimate sex. They both seem to develop a deep, sudden love for each other. 

Zack and Miri's porno friends pay the bills for that month in an effort to thank them for casting them in their porn. They throw a pre-wrap party. Stacey asks Miri if it's okay that she has sex with Zack. Miri, who seems totally not okay with it, tells her to talk to Zack. Zack seems to accept Stacey and they go off together. 

The next night, Miri is supposed to film her scene with Lester, but Zack gives that scene away to Stacey. Zack tries to talk to Miri about their recent love-making. He tells her he loves her but she's just pissed that he slept with Stacey. He tells her that he didn't actually sleep with Stacey and Miri becomes remorseful and seems interested in being with Zack. However, he leaves before she can say anything.

Three months later, Zack is working at a carnival. Delaney finds him and shows him what they have of the porn. He shows him the scene between Miri and Zack - which would truly be a boring porno scene if it were ever released. He tells Zack that 'the movie still needs an ending.' Zack goes to Miri and professes his love to her. She reciprocates his feelings and everyone is happy. The end.

Scenes To Watch Out For: When Stacey is doing anal with Lester. Just, uh... Close your eyes when Zack comes into the shot.

"Zack and Miri Make YOUR Porno" epilogue.

Anything Else: Um, yeah... Was it just me or did the whole romantic thing between Miri and Zack just come outta nowhere? I just figured they were buds. But, oh, I forgot. Heterosexual men and women can't be  just buds, can they?

I'm not being totally fair. This movie was fun, for the most part, and funny. The acting and writing were both good. I just wasn't prepared for the romance. So, I bet if you know about that going in, you can prepare yourself for it and enjoy the movie quite thoroughly. I mean, I'd hope so.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Brave (2012)

Directed by: Mark Andrews, Brenda Chapman, Steve Purcell

Starring: Kelly Macdonald, Billy Connolly, Emma Thompson

The Main Review: Brave is a 2012 animated film set in the 10th century Scottish highlands. It follows the Princess Merida, a skilled archer, as she is forced to chose a boy from another clan to marry. Her mother, Elinor, has been preparing her for years for this, but Merida is having none of it. She rides off after a fight with her mother and meets a witch who gives her a spell to change her mother. Merida uses this spell but her mother changes in a way she never expected. Now she only has two days to put things right.
Ah, beautiful Scotland... You know, they filmed this all on location...

Scenes To Watch Out For: When King Fergus helps Elinor practice talking to her daughter by pretending to be Merida.

Anything Else: This movie was not what I expected. I was expecting a Scottish princess who, I dunno, goes off to war and kills dragons or something. What I got was certainly different, which doesn't necessarily mean it was bad. The movie, at it's core, is your basic kid's film family needs versus personal needs. So, while I didn't expect this, I did like it. It was enjoyable and sweet.

The animation in this is gorgeous. Whenever Merida was on screen I had a hard time looking at anything but her hair. I mean, check this shit out -
Yeah. So, visually, this film is stunning. And that, combined with an interesting story and characters, makes for one enjoyable flick.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Beasts of the Southern Wild (2012)

Directed by: Behn Zeitlin

Starring: Quvenzhané Wallis, Dwight Henry, Gina Montana

The Main Review: Beasts of the Southern Wild is 2012 motion picture about a very wise, little girl named Hushpuppy who lives with her daddy in The Bathtub. Her father, Wink, tries to teach and prepare her for a hard life with some very stern, tough love. All the while, she has to deal with Wink being terribly ill and a storm that floods her home, causing the remainging inhabitants of Bathtub to come up with a plan to save their town when all the animals start dying. 
Also, there are giant pig-beasts.

Hushpuppy's mother swam away from Bathtub - a small isle south of the levee - when Hushpuppy was very young. So, she lives with her father. At times, he doesn't seem to know just how to raise a young girl, but he does try. However, he goes missing for a few days, leaving Hushpuppy all by herself, and, when he comes back, he's wearing a hospital bracelet and gown.

Of course, just after that happens, a big storm comes. Most people get out of The Bathtub as soon as they can, but Wink and Hushpuppy stay with a handful of other people. The Bathtub floods, but the remaining people manage by staying in elevated houses and traveling in boats (or car-boats).
However, after a few weeks, all the animals begin to die and Wink and the other Bathtub men take it into their own hands to make sure the water goes down.

Scenes To Watch Out For: Hushpuppy and Wink drinking together. (Not that I condone giving six-year-olds alcohol or anything. Don't do that. It's bad. Yadda yadda.)

All of the scenes with Hushpuppy's momma. It might just be the southern gal in me, but, when she was frying up that gator tail, I damn near drooled on myself.

The ending. Goodness gracious, did I cry. That little girl sure has some wisdom in her.

Anything Else: This film is beautiful. The acting is solid and the writing is amazing. And, while the aurochs (the big pig-beasts mentioned earlier) are clearly black pigs with horns stuck on them, they look pretty cool, if I do say so myself. So, this movie is really great. The story is breathtaking and moving. Hushpuppy's adorable. And, who doesn't love a good movie with an adorable little girl in it? Plus, y'all get to see the love and goodness that is sharing a meal of gator tail and, considering where I'm living in Utah, that's pretty amazing too. I highly recommend this amazing piece of work.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Not of This Earth (1988)

Directed by: Jim Wynorsky

Starring: Traci Lords, Arthur Roberts, Lenny Juliano

The Main Review: Not of This Earth is a 1988 remake of a 1957 film. This one has Traci Lords in it - so you know it has to be good. The basic idea is that, from a distant, war-ridden planet, a race of vampiric aliens send a suited, shade-wearing man-alien. This alien, Mr. Johnson, asks Nadine Story (Traci Lords) to be his personal nurse and help him with blood transfusions. We learn that his mission is to sample and collect human blood (from busty, half-naked blondes). And believe me - there are quite a lot of busty, half-naked blondes in this movie.
And some of the most obnoxious hookers in film history.

The movie starts with your typical guy-and-girl-getting-it-on-in-a-car situation that was, of course, interrupted by Mr. Johnson landing on earth and then killing the two of them with his evil, glow-y eyes that seem to suck out life-force or something. We then get one of the best opening credit sequences I've seen in a long time.

Mr. Johnson, after about a month on Earth, goes into a clinic for a transfusion. Nadine is the on-duty nurse when he comes in. He and she argue about blood samples. He explains that he will not submit to a blood test and just wants a transfusion while she explains that that is impossible. Doctor Rochelle speaks with Mr. Johnson, who shows him that he has very little blood in his veins and then uses his mind control to make sure Rochelle will tell no one. Nadine is appointed as Johnson's personal nurse; her job being to help him with a blood transfusion twice a day.

Dr. Rochelle talks to Mr. Johnson and it's explained that Johnson has a problem with his blood. All of it "evaporates" out of his body and if he doesn't continue the transfusions, it'll all turn to dust and he'll die.
Mr. Johnson is in contact with an alien who looks like he should be at a ZZ Top concert. Apparently, Mr. Johnson needs to send a human over to Divana, the planet he's from, all while continuing the blood transfusions (to make sure the blood doesn't kill him). 

Mr. Johnson kills a whole bunch of women and drains their blood. He sends this blood back to Divana. When a Birthday Girl Stripper shows up at his house, he mind controls her and sends her to Divana as well. And, all throughout this, Nadine is engaging in witty banter with Jeremy and going on dates with her cop boyfriend and wearing revealing clothing.

Here's Where It Gets Spoilerific: Another vampire-alien comes over from Divana (this time the alien's a busty, half-naked blonde, would you believe it?) and tells Mr. Johnson that the human he sent to Divana was killed when she arrived. Mr. Johnson sneaks the alien woman into Dr. Rochelle's office and gives her a blood transfusion. However, the blood he uses is from someone who was bitten by a rabid dog. This blood drives her crazy and kills her. Dr. Rochelle finds her (she dies in his office) and realizes that her blood was all evaporated.

At the same time, Nadine and Jeremy discover that Mr. Johnson is an evil alien. They confront him. Johnson kills Jeremy and Nadine runs off into the woods. All the while, her cop boyfriend and Rochelle are inspecting the dead alien and trying to figure out what's going on. Nadine makes it to a pay phone and calls her boyfriend, telling him to come get her. Mr. Johnson keeps trying to use his mind control on her. When he finally succeeds, he tells her to go back to his house and get into the transporter so she can be shipped to Divana. 

Nadine's boyfriend follows Mr. Johnson around by motorcycle and, finally, puts on his sirens. The high-pitched sounds cause Mr. Johnson to freak out and he drives his car off a bridge and dies. Nadine and Dr. Rochelle are released from Mr. Johnson's mind control.

Later, Nadine and her boyfriend are at Mr. Johnson's grave discussing if he was a good man or not. As they leave, another suited, shade-wearing man-alien shows up and the movie ends. The End...?

Scenes To Watch Out For: Those opening credits are hilarious. They have absolutely nothing to do with the rest of the film. It's brilliant. 

Anything Else: I think it's hilarious that the subtitle for this film is "Traci Lords is... Not of This Earth" when she's actually the main human character in this film. 

Friday, July 20, 2012

Jenifer (2005)

Directed by: Dario Argento

Starring: Steven Weber, Carrie Fleming, Brenda James

The Main Review: Jennifer is a 2005 motion picture that was another one of the short films within the Masters of Horror anthology. It's based on a ten-page comic by Bruce Jones and Berni Wrightson. The film follows Detective Frank Spivey after he saves the disfigured Jenifer from almost being decapitated by an ex-lawyer. Despite her unappealing face, he finds himself undeniably attracted to her. He soon learns, though, that she has a strong desire to eat flesh - which doesn't keep him from getting busy with her. And the movie turns into a one big hump-and-eat-people thang.
Oh, yeah. So hot.

So, Frank and his partner, Spacey, are eating Chinese food in a car when Frank notices a woman being dragged along the road by a crazed looking man. Being a noble detective, he follows them and, when the man makes a move to kill the woman, Frank shoots him. He gathers the distressed woman in his arms to see that her face is completely disfigured.

After this whole ordeal, Frank can't seem to get the woman, who he learns is named Jenifer, out of his head. He goes to the mental hospital she's being held at and takes her home with him. His wife is less than pleased and he promises to try and find her another place to stay as soon as possible. Of course, while their out searching for somewhere Jenifer can live, the two of them have car sex.
That night, Jenifer eats their cat. Frank's wife and son have enough sense to leave as soon as possible. Jenifer goes on to eat Frank's next-door-neighbor's daughter, which leads Frank to try and give Jenifer to the circus. A man comes to collect her when Frank's out and, when he comes home, he finds that man, dead, in his refrigerator. Frank takes Jenifer out into the deserted woods to start a new life.

Here's Where It Gets Spoilerific: So, Frank and Jenifer continue to have sex this entire time. Frank gets a job in a grocery store. Jenifer eats Frank's boss's son which makes Frank finally decide that enough is enough.
Frank drags Jenifer through the woods with an ax, intending to kill her. He's spotted by a hunter, who shoots him. Before he dies, Frank whispers "Jenifer..." The hunter gathers her in his arms and, after being startled by her deformed face, she simply strokes his hand in thanks. And, you can watch the movie again to see where that goes.

Scenes To Watch Out For: When Frank has sex with Jenifer, she makes these really demonic, animalistic noises. Wouldn't that tip you off to the fact that you were having sex with, I dunno, some kind of evil monster?

Frank's son sees Jenifer and his initial response (after being horrified by her face) is too leer at her and say "Nice rack." Good job, teenage male. You keep on seeing what's truly important - boobs.

Anything Else: So, what did we learn? Um... How about, when someone eats your cat - no matter how banging hot they are - maybe you should call the cops. Because, it's just gonna escalate from there.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

In The Family (2011)

Directed by: Patrick Wang

Starring: Sebastian Banes, Patrick Wang, Trevor St. John

The Main Review: In the Family is a 2011 film that highlights the struggles homosexual couples can go through due to the prohibition of gay marriage. When Joey's partner, Cody, dies, Cody's sister takes over as legal guardian of Chip, Joey and Cody's son. Chip is taken away from his father and Joey is slowly cut off from the family he gained through Cody. So, with the help of his friends, Joey sets out to find a solution.
You can smell that deep, touching movie smell from a mile away.

The movie starts with a normal day in Cody, Joey, and Chip's lives. Joey is a contractor, Cody is a math teacher and Chip, their six year old, is adorably precocious. However, all of that is taken away quite suddenly when Cody gets into a car accident. After not even being allowed to visit him in the hospital, Joey is informed that Cody has died.

Joey and Chip are both grieved, but they struggle and manage. However, Joey is informed by Cody's sister, Eileen, that she was named the sole heir to Cody's inheritance in his will (which hadn't been updated since Cody was born). This placed her as Chip's legal guardian. She thanks Joey for being a good parent for all of those years and assures him that Chip will be well taken care of. Joey is outraged and refuses to give up his son. However, that Thanksgiving, when Chip goes to visit his grandmother, he's nowhere to be found when Joey comes to pick him up. A few days later, Joey is given a restraining order.

Joey talks to many lawyers who all tell him he has no case. However, Paul, a retired lawyer whose house Joey is contracting for, offers to help him. Joey says he wants a deposition and he meets up with Eileen, her husband, and their lawyer.

Here's Where It Gets Spoilerific: So, throughout all of this, there are some flashbacks. We learn that Cody was married to Rebecca when Joey became the contractor on their house. Rebecca was pregnant with Chip and she died shortly after he was born. Joey was a constant help to Cody and, about seven months later when the house is finished, Cody makes a move on Joey. And then six years later, here we are.
At the deposition, Joey is question by some jerk lawyer (who asks inappropriate things like, "How did you seduce Cody?" and "Are you a pedophile?"). He then gets to explain his side of everything in such a beautiful way. He says he'll give up the house and any bank accounts he shared with Cody just for an opportunity to get his son back. Eileen and her husband are obviously shaken by what Joey says and walk out of the deposition.

A while later, Eileen's husband shows up on Joey's doorstep as he's packing. He explains how sorry he is for the whole situation. He tells Joey he can stay in the house and that Eileen is just having a hard time figuring out what's best to do. He gets Joey to come outside and yells out to Eileen (whose in the car) to come out and speak to Joey herself. Just as she does, Chip jumps out of the car with her and rushes over to hug his dad. 

Scenes To Watch Out For: When Cody kisses Joey for the first time. That whole scene is brilliant.

The deposition. All of it was very well done.

Despite it's abruptness, when Chip suddenly jumps out of the car and into his daddy's arms - it's the sweetest ending I can think of for this film.

Anything Else: In The Family does not rush itself. Because of this, it's just a bit short of about three hours long. So, I think, before this film can be picked up, it might need to be edited a smidgen. However, the story really was lovely and intriguing. I hope I see it again someday.