Sunday, July 09, 2006

Evil Aliens

Saturday @ Midnight – Evil Aliens. This is a movie that will make me have second thoughts on my gameplan.
In most cases, if I stay to see the midnight film, then there is a 90% chance I will sleep through the 9 a.m. movie the next day. Typically the 9 a.m. movies are high quality films, but if the midnight film is fun enough, it's worth it. This one wasn't.
A midnight film only. Very low budget, poor acting, throw whatever you can at the wall and see what sticks type of film. A film crew for a "Hard Copy" type TV show heads out to an Irish island to investigate the report of a local that she has been impregnated by aliens. The local has three "Deliverance" type brothers who come in handy once the aliens return in a foul mood. The movie is just an excuse to find creative, and at times funny ways to kill both humans and aliens. The aliens are men with alien helmets on. None of it played seriously. Which is why it could work as a midnight movie with an audience full of college kids. Regular shows, with an attendance of 10, will hear crickets chirping. It has been bought by Lion’s Gate so it may actually end up in theatres at some point. Nowhere near as good as “High Tension”, but would definitely pull in the same crowd, no one. The only advantage this one has is that it is in English. But anyone looking for the humor or originality of “Shaun of the Dead” will be sadly disappointed. The helmers weren’t shooting that high.

Saint Martyrs of the Damned

Saturday @ 9:15 p.m. – Saint Martyrs of the Damned. - Plays out as an intriging X-Files/Twilight Zone episode. . Flavien Juste is an orphan who has grown up into Weekly World News styled tabloid reporter. He is sent to investigate a small town that has an abnormally high number of missing persons, with the supernatural being the expected cause. He is sent his best friend, the publications’ photographer, to bring back a whopper of a story with the goal of restoring some class and funds the ailing publication. It takes less than 1 hour in town before they encounter an abandoned and creepy gas-station, a lodge run by two extremely odd twin sisters (who share the same name), a steakhouse in which the owner serves the customers in lingerie and an effective jump scare or two in the form of a ethereal corpse bride. Oh and the photographer along with the car go missing too. Flavien’s only hope of figuring things out, and not being assaulted or arrested, lie either in a young man with Downs Syndrome or an attractive young woman who appears to be at odds with the rest of the town. Film is very good at laying on the atmosphere and suspense. There are lots of "cat jumps from behind the bed" moments as well. My only question is the ending where a character does something that simply does not make sense to me. It is the first film for Canadian Vincenzo Natali and is certainly more ambitious than anything coming out in Hollywood (Cry Wolf, Venom) or the next film I saw.

World's Fastest Indian

Saturday @ 6:00 p.m. – World’s Fastest Indian. Film was released by Magnolia Pictures (Mark Cuban's company) in the US. Roger Donaldson directs Anthony Hopkins in the true story of Burt Munro, at the age of 62, on his fish-out-of-water tour across the US onto Utah's Bonneville Salt Flats to try and set a land-speed record on his vintage Indian motorcycle. He still holds a world record for speed on a motorcycle. Donaldson knows the subject well as he filmed a documentary on Munro in 1971.The film is pure formula and certainly has plenty of “hokey” moments. Fortunately, the film has Anthony Hopkins at the head, and he wins over the viewer with a disarming performance marked by modesty and the curious little laugh with which he inflects many of his more important lines. His skill makes us see that Burt is so open to life and its possibilities that all manner of people immediately spark to him and help him out. There is nothing in the film that will interest younger viewers, but nothing that parents should disapprove either. It’s simply a tale that older audiences will appreciate more and should leave the theatre inspired. Another film that I think would have played well at Valley View had the marketing gone better.

Linda, Linda, Linda

Saturday @ 3:00 p.m. – Linda, Linda, Linda - Another filler movie. Movie tells of a group of four girls in Hong Kong who are desperately trying to learn a song (the title) before a school talent show. They are a week away and problems keep arising. The lead guitarist breaks her hand then the lead singer walks out. The story at times is slow moving but does a good job of establishing the personalities of each of the girls and the film rallies mightily in the final act, working up genuine suspense as to whether our heroines are even going to make it to their maiden gig, before letting them unleash a climactic barrage of three-chord fury. "Sun" is especially funny as the Korean transfer student who is recruited to be the new lead singer. Even the title song is catchy, at least the chorus is, otherwise the song is hilarious. "Like a rat, we all need love?" Oookay. Can't see this one making it overseas to the arthouse circuit, but was a cute film, nonetheless.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

L' Enfer

Saturday @ 12:15 p.m. – L’Enfer (Hell). Went to see this film for two reasons: a) the director, b) Emmanuelle Beart. I was really hoping she would be there, but alas, no. The director and the other two sister were there. This is the second film for director Danis Tanovic, his first “No Man’s Land” won an Oscar for best foreign language film. Film introduces sisters Sophie, Celine and Anne, who have drifted apart since a traumatic childhood incident that ended with the girls' father committing suicide and their mother rendered mute and consigned to a wheelchair. One is an insomniac, one worries that her husband is cheating on her, and the youngest is having an affair with a married professor. Story builds up suspense by showing us glimpses of the event, but not fully till toward the end. At that point, all the behavior before is more understandable. But before that the director makes the audience work and try to unravel it ourselves. Each of the sisters is damaged in a different way, and whether or not they can rise above it, is very much in doubt. Very well acted, but definitely a somber picture that, like every film I've seen so far, is for discriminating adults. Picture will be marketed on both the director's name and that of one of the sisters, the delictible Emmanuelle Beart, an incredibly popular French actress whom most American's will only know as the love interest of Tom Cruise in the first Mission Impossible. The music also does a great job of setting and keeping the mood. Strictly art house. I'm not sure I remember it coming out in Dallas.
  • Director Danis Tanovic said the film was his homage to Polish filmaker Krzysztof Kieslowski. "Hell" was the second of a planned trilogy, (Heaven, Purgatory) that Kieslowski had planned to make. When he died, other filmakers have stepped in to complete the films. "Heaven" was directed by Tom Tykwer and was in the 2003 TIFF.


Friday @ 9:00 p.m. – Shopgirl. Based on a Steve Martin novella, Claire Danes is Mirabelle, who has arrived in Los Angeles from Vermont hoping to start a new life as an artist, but for the time being she spends her days working in the quiet glove department at Saks Fifth Avenue in Beverly Hills. Potential relief on the lonely hearts front finally arrives in the form of not one but two very different individuals: terminally awkward Jeremy (Jason Schwartzman), a certified loser of an amplifier salesman and budding font artist whose idea of a romantic first date is sitting outside Universal CityWalk and just staring at all the bright signs. Second, Ray Porter (SteveMartin), a wealthy logistician who shows up at Mirabelle's glove counter one day with the intention of wining and dining her in style. Despite Ray's repeated warnings that he's not looking for anything serious, Mirabelle puts considerable stock in their May-December romance even though it's only a matter of time before her heart gets broken.
Any scene with Jason is funny, he basically steals the film, but he is not the focus. Instead it's on the Martin/Danes relationship and how it seems doomed from the beginning but Mirabelle won’t give up. The acting is top notch with Martin playing a character much different than what we are accustomed too. This is another film that is really an adult film. I can't see young adults having the patience to stick through the middle portion of this film in which Danes really shines, but which is really melodramatic. There is also some narration from Martin in three parts of the film which seem unnecessary. Smart audiences don’t need it. BVD obviously had no idea what to do with this film. It got very little push and went to the art houses, despite having marketable actors in the lead roles. This film would have done well at Valley View, but it never had a chance to make it here due to BVD's distribution plan.