Oct 8POSTED BY KATIE - 5:53PM
CELLULOID BLOODBATH, a compilation of horror film trailers, was released today.
Horror is one of the largest, fastest-growing genres in the film industry, both the big budget horror films and the micro budget varieties. Today's release of BEDEVILLED from South Korea also underscores the worldwide growth of films that terrorize -- and it highlights the popularity of horror films from the far reaches of the globe, which are often more gruesome and frightening than American films in this genre.
BEDEVILLED is so violent, degrading, and misogynistic that even die-hard horror critics claim it was almost too much for them. DREAD CENTRAL's reviewer, for instance, warns viewers: "This movie will make you angry. Period. But it also pays off cinematic gold. While I can say I will probably never watch BEDEVILLED again, I can, in all honesty, admit that I was glad to have seen it once and that I will never forget it." Similarly, CULT REVIEWS cautions that "the extended finale features a large number of grim and shocking images." The scary thing is that reviews like these only heat up rentals by thrill-seeking viewers.
If you're curious about what drives people to watch this stuff, S&Man (above) is a documentary that dives right into an investigation of voyeurism and fetish films, which the director links to more mainstream horror films.
Sure, maybe it's sexual pathology that makes people like horror films, but maybe it's also because the genre is so easy to deconstruct, which is why there are so many horror/comedy films like Wes Craven's SCREAM series or the SCARY MOVIE franchise. If you put yourself in that camp, then you will enjoy the vintage, grindhouse kitsch of compiled horror movie trailers, CELLULOID BLOODBATH, out today from Virgil Films, a sequel to their popular MAD RON'S PREVUES FROM HELL, the 1987 "party" compilation.
We need some help with this autopsy! email me and let me know why you like horror films and give me a list of your top three horror films on our site, and you'll be entered in a contest to win a coupon worth five rentals of any films on our site.
Oct 1POSTED BY KATIE - 4:16PM
First of all, no matter what you do, watch this TED talk by David Blaine, "How I held my breath for 17 minutes” -- it introduces you to Blaine's rigorous training for his death-defying feats. Even if you don't like magic tricks, it's a fascinating look at a determined and daring soul. Once you understand the man, you’ll want to root for him.
After you’ve accepted the fact that Blaine is a rational and hard-working person, you're ready to see his performances, which include the magic of standing on a 100 foot pillar for 36 hours without sleep, holding his breath for long periods of time without hypoxic brain damage, and catching a bullet in his mouth. The release of these TV specials for on-demand customers is timed to accompany his newest stunt (which begins on Friday, October 5) of standing on a 20-foot pillar in Hudson River Park while people around the world administer a million volts of electricity to his body. Viewers at special computers can manipulate the specific electromagnetic coils that will jolt Blain over 72 hours, as he stands without sleep or food.
A NEW YORKER article earlier this year included a quote by Blaine that helps explain why he subjects himself to such extreme danger:
My endurance pieces are all about taking away the ego, putting yourself in a position so intense that the ordinary “I” doesn’t exist anymore. You’re surviving the way a baby does -- or it’s like just before an accident, when you see everything, the seats and the road, and the dashboard and your life, in slow motion. That heightened sense of awareness, the blinding flash of being shocked out of your logical mind -- that’s magic for me.
For most of us, just watching Blaine do his tricks is difficult enough. And judging by the number of TV specials and films about daredevils, we rely upon them to show us the miracle of life in the face of adversity.
Films about daredevils, risk takers and world record breakers:
DAVID BLAINE: WHAT IS MAGIC? (2010) Using a small cup in his mouth, David catches a .22 caliber bullet traveling at over 1,000 feet per second; special cameras catch the excitement by running at 10,0000 frames per second.
DAVID BLAINE: DROWNED ALIVE (2006) David submerges himself in water for seven days and seven nights, and then attempts to break the world record for underwater breath-holding.
DAVID BLAINE: VERTIGO (2002) 36 hours atop a 100-foot pole, David lasts without sleep while hallucinations set in.
BREAKING AND ENTERING (2011) A new documentary with a Flixster score of 100% about a joggler, a grape catcher, and a man who cycles nowhere as they attempt to break the world record. Flixster score is 100%!
THE WORLD'S FASTEST INDIAN (2005) Anthony Hopkins stars in this feature film as a speed racer who modified an Indian motorcycle to set the land-speed world record at Utah's Bonneville Salt Flats in 1967.
MAN ON WIRE (2008) This doc is so much more than an in-depth look at French daredevil Philippe Petit as he prepares to toss a high wire 1,350 feet above ground to walk between the two then-unfinished towers of the World Trade Center -- it's a film about dreams, determination, and drive.
Oct 1POSTED BY KATIE - 3:44PM
Brewmaster of 2008 Tonya Cornett, from THE LOVE OF BEER
It’s October, so that means the hills are alive with the sound of beer drinkers at Oktoberfest celebrations all around the world. We caught up with Sean Inman of the blog Beer Search Party in the midst of L.A. Beer Week and asked him about his favorite beer movies. (We asked him this without any alcohol in our bloodstream -- we’re just that obsessed with linking everything to film). He kind of laughed at our selection of beer films, but he’d seen most of them!
Beer documentaries tend to be seen at screenings in breweries -- that’s where Sean saw today’s new release, THE LOVE OF BEER, featuring Tonya Cornett, winner of the Brewmaster Award for Small Breweries at the 2008 World Beer Cup, the first woman to win this. “I saw it in Portland; it’s a pretty interesting film,” Sean told us. “It shows one niche side of the brewing, the female perspective, plus it goes backstage a bit and talks to people and shows brewers in their daily lives.” Our other featured beer doc this week is BEER WARS, which focuses on two entrepreneurs battling corporate beer making in America (Rotten Tomatoes score: 67%).
As a connoisseur of beer films, Sean said he learned the most from PBS’ “Prohibition” series made by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick. “Where we’re at now in craft beer is a consequence of what happened then; it was fascinating to see the seeds of the big brewing conglomerates come from the Prohibition era and the rise of craft brewers in response to that.” He also spoke highly of an out-of-print film called BEER HUNTER, about the legendary beer writer Michael Jackson (not the singer). And he liked the Discovery Channel’s “Brew Masters” show, hosted by Sam Calagione of Dogfish Head Brewery.
So what does Sean think of the other beer films available on Film Fresh? He notes that STRANGE BREW is probably the best known of the beer movies, since it’s been around since 1983. Co-written and co-directed by Rick Moranis and Dave Thomas (of SCTV fame), it stars Max von Sydow. Strange indeed! BEERFEST -- a gross-out comedy from the Broken Lizard comedy team -- is directed by Jay Chandrasekhar (whose new comedy, THE BABYMAKERS, is also available on Film Fresh). AMERICAN BEER is a road story about Canadians driving to California, with stops at various breweries. As for BEER FOR MY HORSES, Sean says this isn’t actually a beer film but a film about country folks with guns.
We identify with anyone crafting a unique, surprising, and delightful experience for a discerning audience, so to all those brewmasters, documentary filmmakers, and beer writers, this blog's for you.
Sep 24POSTED BY KATIE - 6:20PM
Gushing that "true RESIDENT EVIL fans are about to be in heaven" with the newest animated film, RESIDENT EVIL: DAMNATION, Chris Sawin of EXAMINER.COM draws a clear line in the sand for Makoto Kamiya's animated versions of the horror franchise and against the live-action movies. Sawin believes the CGI animated alternatives bring back "the horror and survival which made each and every installment of the video game franchise so terrifying." Sawin is a fan who feels very strongly about these films.
Besides liking the lighting and sophisticated use of slow motion, Sawis geeks out with this praise: "What's great is that DAMNATION throws you into the first person perspective and makes you feel like anything can jump out at Leon and attack him at any moment. The renders as well as the computer animation are crisp and fluid at all times, especially the hosts of the Plaga, the Lickers, and the Tyrants."
As you fans know, the newest film of the live-action franchise, RESIDENT EVIL: RETRIBUTION, is still playing in theaters (we'll eventually have it, too, for home viewing). Director Paul W.S. Anderson (MORTAL KOMBAT) is back at the helm of this new film, and of course Milla Jovovich is back as Alice, fighting the deadly T-virus as usual -- her skin-tight uniform is especially effective in fighting the virus!
The film in theaters isn't getting great reviews, but Chris Sawin has a message for fans: "If you'd lost faith or had been purposely distancing yourself from the atrocity that is the live-action movies (and if that's the case no one could blame you), DAMNATION is the movie for you as is its predecessor DEGENERATION. These CG motion pictures are what everything RESIDENT EVIL fans wished the movies would have been. Smart, bloody, well-written, and incredibly creepy, RESIDENT EVIL: DAMNATION more than lives up to the RESIDENT EVIL name."
We have the entire library -- it's time for you to get evil!
still from RESIDENT EVIL: DEGENERATION (2008)
Sep 24POSTED BY KATIE - 4:28PM
Films using a hidden camera give an emotional jolt in two ways -- first, as proof that someone has been spying on a family or a couple, invading their most private moments as an unseen foe.
Hidden cameras always carry the whiff of sex or pornography, and this can add edge in the hands of a gifted director or turn into pure exploitation in low-budget horror films. An example of the former is Paul Schrader's AUTO FOCUS (2003), whose all-star cast brings to life a true story about TV actor Bob Crane (played by Greg Kinnear & co-starring Willem Dafoe) who videotaped his sexual encounters. At the cult end of the scale, the hidden camera offers a "subjective view" of the action (usually a murder in a horror film), giving the audience a view as if through the murderer's eyes; examples of this include VACANCY (starring Luke Wilson and Kate Beckinsale) or the even lower-budget favorites like 21 EYES and VACANCY 2. New today, 388 ARLETTA AVE plays on the theme of the couple terrorized by a sadistic voyeur (this frightening film comes from the makers of CUBE) -- we'd like to hear what you think this new film adds to this sub-genre of creepiness!
Sep 24POSTED BY KATIE - 3:28PM
Last week, a rumor went out that Morgan Freeman had died -- a hoax that fooled at least a million people into clicking through to a fake memorial page set up on Facebook. Celebrity death hoaxes abound because they are surefire ways to manipulate public sympathies and fuel Internet traffic. Fortunately, Mr. Freeman is alive.
His newest work, THE MAGIC OF BELLE ISLE (directed by Rob Reiner), is a PG film that offers families an uplifting story about a bitter man who gets a better attitude when he befriends a family. From this latest work to his first films (which include an uncredited role in the 1966 film, A MAN CALLED ADAM), Freeman is universally acknowledged as an actor of true talent. Last year, Freeman received AFI's Life Achievement Award. Here's our choice of his most important films.
DRIVING MISS DAISY (1989) As the chauffeur of a spirited and hard-headed Southern woman (Jessica Tandy) during the Jim Crow era, Freeman gives a perfect performance that earned him a nomination for Best Actor. The dignity and love he brings to his character Hoke makes this a powerful Civil Rights film.
UNFORGIVEN (1992) This postmodern Western won four Academy Awards and gave Morgan Freeman well-deserved exposure as Clint Eastwood's sidekick. With a Rotten Tomatoes score of 97% and rated at #4 on AFI's 10 Top Westerns, this film highlights Freeman's gifts as an actor.
THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION (1995) Many people say this is their favorite film starring Freeman, and it uses a suspenseful narrative to raise issues of race and freedom. This popular film is a milestone in Freeman's oeuvre that earned seven Oscar nominations. Rotten Tomatoes score is 90 (and fans liked it even more than critics did, turning in a Flixster score of 98%).
SE7EN (1995) As a veteran homicide detective, Freeman's character is just days from retirement when he's assigned to a case with a rookie (Brad Pitt) investigating a series of repulsive murders reflecting the seven deadly sins. Freeman's considerable gravitas anchors this gruesome crime thriller by David Fincher.
INVICTUS (2009) Freeman plays Nelson Mandela in director Clint Eastwood's drama about how then-President Mandela used the 1995 Rugby World Cup, held in South Africa, to help dismantle apartheid; Matt Damon co-stars as a rugby champion. A rousing film with Freeman at his stately best.
We'll end this by urging people to check out THE BUCKET LIST (2007), a comedy that partners Freeman with Jack Nicholson as two terminally ill men who escape from the hospital in order to fulfill their last wishes. It's not an earth-shaking film, but it is a lot of fun and probably the best recommendation we can offer in closing an article about the false reports that this tremendous actor had kicked the bucket.
Sep 11POSTED BY ALECE - 6:51PM
For the past eleven years, Americans have remembered those lost in the terrorist attacks against our country. From various events and memorials, people choose to reflect on the day in their own unique way. For this year’s 9/11 anniversary, I picked out a few films that pay tribute to the passionate individuals who make up the great city of New York. There are several notable New York films that reflect the spirit of the city and its individuals, such as Woody Allen’s MANHATTAN and Spike Lee’s DO THE RIGHT THING, but I decided to go for a lighter fare.
MAN ON WIRE (2009) -- 27 years before 9/11, one brave Frenchman decided to walk between the Twin Towers... on a wire. The documentary MAN ON WIRE follows Philippe Petit, a man with grandiose dreams and an obsession with the World Trade Center. We are granted a bird’s eye view of the artistic crime of the century with never-seen-before video and images plus elaborate reenactments. The rare footage of the Twin Towers is both dazzling and chilling at the same time. So to the generations who did not get a chance to actually see the Twin Towers, such as myself, MAN ON WIRE provides us with a time where the towers were unassociated with 9/11. It moves like a suspense thriller and keeps you on your toes the entire ride.
BILL CUNNINGHAM NEW YORK (2011) -- Speaking New York institutions, Bill Cunningham, the infamous NEW YORK TIMES fashion photographer, gets his close-up in this charming documentary. Bill is a fixture in the city, maneuvering through several social circles and introducing the fashion world to “street style.” There are so many beautiful people in New York, and Bill tries to capture them all--and he's completely delightful while doing so. Just as private as he is public, Bill has a resilient New Yorker spirit, and the movie is respectful of his privacy and his work. BILL CUNNINGHAM NEW YORK is a fitting tribute to a man who loves New York just as much as fashion.
THE MUPPETS TAKE MANHATTAN (1984) -- What better way to celebrate New York than with the Muppets! Frank Oz and Jim Henson bring the Muppets to the Big Apple. Kermit, Miss Piggy, and crew are together again, this time with dreams of being on Broadway. But they encounter a few bumps along the way, including a bump to Kermit’s head that causes him to lose his memory. Will the gang be able to go on with the show? With beautiful backdrops of the Manhattan skyline and classic New York landmarks, THE MUPPETS TAKE MANHATTAN provides lots of laughs for the whole family.
Originally from Durham, NC, Alece moved to New York City to purse an MA in Film Studies at Columbia University and is currently the Outreach and Development Manager at Rooftop Films. Check out her blog at brooklyncinematic.com
Sep 4POSTED BY KATIE - 2:41PM
(Still from TAXI DRIVER)
Many film auteurs love New York City and work with the city as a central character. Martin Scorsese has devoted much of his filmic vision to Manhattan -- he's portrayed it as a tough space, a place of alienation and also a labyrinth in which love and respect might be won.
MEAN STREETS (1973) -- This is the film that put the director on the map through this gritty portrait of young friends in Little Italy adhering to a tough code of manhood. This drama has been recognized as a national treasure by the Library of Congress and has a Rotten Tomatoes score of 98%
TAXI DRIVER (1976) -- One of the legendary great films of all time, Scorsese's film gets inside the mind of an unstable taxi driver (Robert De Niro) obsessed with a young prostitute (Jodie Foster). Violent, disturbing, and a classic, also scoring 98% at Rotten Tomatoes.
AFTER HOURS (1985) -- A more light-hearted and surreal depiction on Manhattan follows a young man through an endless evening of strange mishaps. A winner at Cannes Film Festival and the Independent Spirit Awards.
AGE OF INNOCENCE (1993) -- Scorsese dips into New York history in his adaptation of a classic novel by Edith Wharton, set in the 1870s among wealthy elites caught in a shocking love triangle. Stars Michelle Pfeiffer, Winona Ryder, and Daniel Day Lewis in a multi-award winning favorite.
GANGS OF NEW YORK (2003) -- An epic film with a tremendous cast looks at Manhattan's origins in the gang wars between the Irish. Winner of 10 Academy Award nominations and 5 Golden Globe nominations starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Daniel Day Lewis and a stellar supporting cast.
Sep 3POSTED BY KATIE - 6:28PM
Looking for something besides the self-congratulatory rhetoric of the conventions? Sure, it's important to be informed before voting, but some of us are skipping the conventions and planning on watching the debates instead.
So we chose some great films as an alternative.
THE CANDIDATE (1972) -- This film is probably even more relevant today than 40 years ago -- the issues are the same as this election: California's 8% unemployment rate, the environment, property taxes, health care. It's uncanny, illuminating, and a bit depressing to confront the persistence of these problems. Robert Redford gives a great performance as a young, upstart lawyer selected by the party machine to topple an incumbent Senator, but the Academy Award for this film went to Jeremy Larner, a speechwriter for the 1968 Presidential candidate, Eugene McCarthy, who injected this Zeitgeist film with biting insights of politics and media. Rotten Tomatoes score is 100%.
THE IDES OF MARCH (2011) -- George Clooney plays the flawed Democratic candidate, but the intriguing parts of the film are the insights into the functioning of political handlers played by Ryan Gosling and Philip Seymour Hoffman. Rotten Tomatoes score is 84%.
CITIZEN KANE (1941) -- Gosh, if you've never seen this film, just rent it and appreciate the innovative cinematography, Orson Welles' intense acting, and the utter pathos of the character's life. And, yes, Kane runs for governor at one point in an otherwise expansive film. Rotten Tomatoes score is 100%
THE LAST HURRAH (1958) -- Spencer Tracy plays an incumbent mayor of a city like Boston who rules by virtue of an Irish-American cronyism in an era when television was changing the political game. A prescient, historically fascinating film by John Ford. Rotten Tomatoes score is 88%.
Maybe you expected us to suggest those classics, but we bet you didn't expect this:
HERCULES IN NEW YORK (1970) -- Former Governor of California Arnold Schwarzenegger's very first acting role was in this low-budget film about Greek gods banished from Mt. Olympus to Manhattan. It's a horrible film, a beloved cult classic, and a perfect antidote to two weeks of Presidential conventions. Rotten Tomatoes score of 20%.
Did you think we were going to recommend a Clint Eastwood film?
We hope these films offer some levity and humanity to our two-week period of Presidential conventions.
Aug 21POSTED BY ALECE - 4:36PM
Spend one of the last weekends of summer with three films released this year -- and my personal favorites of the year -- that offer a unique urban perspective on expectations in life and love: THINK LIKE A MAN reflects on expectations between men and women, GOOD DEEDS on expectations from family, and CHANGING THE GAME on expectations in life.
Based on the best-selling book “Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man” by Steve Harvey, THINK LIKE A MAN offers a democratic approach to the battle-of-the-sexes romantic comedy. The pairings are familiar romantic comedy archetypes: the ring-seeker with the commitment-phobe and the successful woman with the regular Joe, the mama’s boy who pairs with the single mom, and the young woman who can’t quite keep a man with the guy who gets too many women. All learn important lessons about love. But the interesting twist on it all is that this movie offers a look at relationships from both sexes. Overall, the real charm of THINK LIKE A MAN is that despite relying on some cliches, its relatability on the subject of love makes it entertaining and good fun.
CHANGING THE GAME deals more with lessons about life. On the heels of Occupy Wall Street and the characterization of bankers as thugs, CHANGING THE GAME offers a sharp and smart comparison with Wall Street and the street life. From the streets of Philadelphia, Darrell (Sean Riggs, STOMP THE YARD) finds a way out of the hood, only for the hood to follow him in the most unexpected way. Raised by his God-fearing grandmother (Irma P. Hall -- a real treat in the movie), Darrell goes against stereotype and ends up at an Ivy League school and successful on Wall Street, only to realize it’s not that different from the street life he once knew. Using what he has learned on the streets, Darrell must adapt as he struggles to survive while learning crucial life lessons along the way. This second feature from Rel Dowdell (TRAIN RIDE) seems a bit contrived at times, but it ultimately works itself out. Don’t let the less-than-stellar production values deter you, CHANGING THE GAME offers suspense with a surprise twist and will keep you on your toes to the very end.
While you’re at it, check out TYLER PERRY’S GOOD DEEDS. A usually over-the-top Tyler Perry does a good deed and tones it down with this movie that undoubtedly tugs at the heartstrings. When a poor, down-on-her luck single mom encounters a powerful CEO, they both face integral lessons in life: there is kindness in humanity and it is OK to follow your dreams. Thandie Newton plays the down-and-out single mom Lindsay, and Tyler Perry plays the do-gooder rich businessman who has followed a path set for him from birth. Some parts of the movie are predictable, and GOOD DEEDS could have definitely used more laughs. But the film is a break from the over-the-top melodramas that we are accustomed to with Tyler Perry, and it definitely works here.
Originally from Durham, NC, Alece moved to New York City to pursue an MA in Film Studies at Columbia University and is currently the Outreach and Development Manager at Rooftop Films. Check out her blog: brooklyncinematic.com