28 June 2009

Movies - Last Seen

Lesbian Vampire Killers, UK (2009)

Maybe I am too old for that kind of humor, or maybe it's a cultural thing, but this movie is just not funny.
Mathew Horne and James Corden can run a hip comedy show on TV, with obvious appeal to young people, but when it comes to making a movie - they both suck. One is too boring the other is too annoying.
The movie is only pleasant to watch due to impressive female cast, and by impressive I mean their cup sizes, but as a solid film experience it is not moving beyond vulgar sex joke. Sexy lesbian vampires is the only gimmick, out of many others, that actually works all the way, nothing else. Not complete waste of time, but more suitable for college dorm entertainment.


Sheitan, France (2006)

Starts so familiar - a group of young people arrive to isolated place with bunch of freaks living there, and they are slowly understanding that something wrong with that place. But when they do, it's already too late.
Instead of typical slasher with minimal build up of the characters and then straight to the gore, this film takes its time with the introduction and plot development. And it's very well made. The characters seem real, the situation is disturbing and interesting, the acting is very good.
Sheitan is filled with symbolism and hints, the story and the setup is the main thing here, not the violence and blood. The film is not for people who want to see chainsaws cutting legs, axes splitting heads and knifes cutting flesh. It is smart, disturbing and sensational with number of great scenes and one unrecognizable Vincent Cassel. Must be watched at least twice to fully appreciate it.


Russia 88, Russia (2009) [Official website]

This movie already made a small history by getting banned in Russia. Of course the meaning of "banned" is not the same as it was before, there is no prosecution of the filmmakers nor burning the negatives. It's just not allowed to get screenings in theaters and will not be screened on TV as well, but people will be able to buy it in video stores. I heard it is already a hit among fake DVD sellers.
The film is a mockumentary about Nazi underground movement in Russia, the skinheads. You know, fascist swastika, quotes from Mein Kampf, Nazi salutes, hunting and beating "others" on the streets, training camps in the forest, lots of cursing, the usual.
The story is told through the video camera, filming "real" people and events, and following group of young working class punks in Moscow in their racist and violent life. Of course all of it was staged, but the documentary quality of the film successfully creates unpleasant sensation and involves the viewer in the watching experience. And it is very disturbing, some scenes are truly stunning in their rough and gritty feeling. Of course, you can't hold feature film without some kind of a plot, without protagonist and some kitchen sink drama. So it is there as well, but dramatic subplot is really the weakest part of the film, resulting in ridiculous and over dramatic ending, spoiling the overall impression. I guess lack of experience of the director is to blame in that case
I won't be surprised if some film critic will write a big academic article or a book, analyzing the political, cultural and cinematic sides of Russia 88. It is possible to write many pages, reviewing this film from all angles, and there are many things to discuss about this film. Recommended, but don't expect too much.

You can find and download this film with English subtitles through various file sharing networks, I don't think international DVD will be available anytime soon.


The International, USA/Germany/UK (2009)

Very suspenseful and interesting to watch, but absolutely pointless and completely forgettable. The movie runs for almost two hours, but it seems twice shorter. You start watching it, and just like that it's over. One hour later and you completely forget what was that all about, one day later and you don't remember you ever saw it.
The worst thing about The International, is that it has no beginning and no ending, just the middle. I felt like I saw a small part of the story, same as if you open the book in the center and read one chapter out of it. I understand why it was made this way, but it just doesn't work.
What a shame, what a waste.


Gran Torino, USA (2008)

You can take the Cowboy out of the Wild West, but you can’t take the Wild West out of the Cowboy.
Using the similar patterns of classic Western, old cowboy Clint Eastwood is trying to tell a story of a suburban reality, where different mixture of ethnic groups creates tension and complex relationships. The good guys are being harassed by the bad guys, and the lonely gunman, suddenly arriving on his horse from the horizon, seems to have the solution, and such solution can be only violence.
But as in case with Unforgiven, Eastwood is testing the limits and rules of the genre here as well, reversing some and breaking other. The lonely gunman is the one who was living in the town all along, and it is the others who arrive from far away, bringing their customs and problems to him. It’s the cars instead of the horses, it’s the suburban environment instead of the dusty desert town, it’s even imaginary gun instead of a real one. There are no quick draws and face to face duels, no brothels, no drunken fights and no cabaret dancers. Instead there is an old man that finds complete strangers to be closer to him than his real family, and when they are threatened by the bad guys he finds the solution, which can be only violence.
The movie is an old man’s look at the young generation and it feels exactly like that. And while the plot is simple and predictable and the characters are stereotypical, the film is really pleasant to watch just because the Western basics in it are so deep and so familiar.
Gran Torino is generally overrated and too simple as a film, but it is very polished and well directed, it is great watching experience, probably because of its simplicity.


Yes Man, USA (2008)

Somebody needs to tell Jim Carrey that slapstick comedy and facial grimaces are so 90's.
In the age of Apatow style comedy, when the use of language, and not the body, is the main emphasis, when the comedies are much more sophisticated and the stories deal with serious issues, Jim Carrey is still making faces, twisting his body and never goes above the level of a fart joke.
An attempt to give the characters some sort of a depth fails miserably, they are bunch of walking cliches. And somebody please explain to me why Zooey Deschanel still getting roles. The girl simply can't act, and by the way, she can't sing too, all she has is big eyeballs on silly face covered by stupid haircut. I guess she is a proof that people can achieve a lot just because they have pretty eyes.
Anyway, this awful romantic comedy is an insult to intelligence and to common sense, although rarely there is some nice humor and Mr Carrey has his moments after all. Terence Stamp in a small role steals the show and generally very helpful.


12 Rounds, USA (2009)

This is not a movie, it is a giant plot hole capable of being center of a huge galaxy. There is no point of asking why, what or how, this abomination doesn't make any sense, at least not according to my logic.
Except of kidnapped wife element, this is direct rip off of Die Hard 3. And I mean exact copy of it, only without Bruce Willis and without a single drop of intelligence. And so it won't be too obvious, they ripped off some other movies as well.
The result is very tiresome and exhausting, too much pyrotechnics and no brains, exactly like Cena's previous movie The Marine.
People that think wrestling is for real might really like it.


K-20: Legend of the Mask, Japan (2008)

Big mess with good intentions. A bit of steampunk, some social commentary and some anime influences making this movie bearable to watch, but silly and childish story is not a way to make it right.
Too much talking and too much drama involving annoying and shallow characters. Not enough action and not enough entertainment, although some moments are very well made. Kids are the target audience of this fairytale, it will be hard for adults to find anything worthy in it.

6/10, for the effort.

Push, USA (2009)

Really good idea with lots of potential, but the execution is not that great. It feels like a pilot for TV series, with the aesthetics of a sci-fi TV show.
Overall nicely done, but not without flaws and the story is mostly confusing, so it's better not to think about it. Mindless and mildly entertaining.


Kwaidan, Japan (1964)

Visually amazing collection of folklore ghost stories and example of classic Japanese cinema.
It is indeed an art film on highest level, with very impressive filming techniques and psychedelic set designs. The movie is three hours long, mostly slow paced, but the watching experience is very hypnotic and completely satisfying.
Definitely not for people with short attention span that cannot focus for more than three minutes.



  1. Russia 88 looks interesting...will try to check it out.

    12 Rounds got 5.3 with over 3000 votes on imdb...i guess there are a lot of pro wrestling fans there lol

    Been wanting to get the Criterion dvd of Kwaidan, heard a lot of good things about it.

  2. Russia 88 has quality, the problem is that the content is very controversial and viewers will not be able to actually like it because the characters are not likable. But as social commentary, as social document it's really well made. I think I can compare it to Hate (La Haine) in a way.

    Kwaidan is great, freakin' slow but in mesmerizing way, and it's Japanese. I really liked the stories, very simple but so creepy.