Showing newest 11 of 27 posts from January 2011. Show older posts
Showing newest 11 of 27 posts from January 2011. Show older posts

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Moving Violations (1985)


IMDB Link:
Moving Violations

Directed By:
Neal Isreal


Summing It Up:
A group of social misfits with a history of bad driving and traffic violations find themselves in a court-ordered traffic school. If they don't pass the class,  they will not get their impounded cars back, and that seems to be the likely outcome, given the hard-ass traffic cops who have been assigned as their teachers and the scheming judge who sent them there.


Quick Thoughts: 
I'm going to be honest, Moving Violations is far from being a great film. At its best, it's a shining example of the formulaic excesses of 80s comedy. However, since it is a movie that I watched over and over again while growing up, it has a fond place in my heart.

That being said, I was very happy to find that it was recently added to Netflix Instant. You see, I had been wanting to watch it again for some time now, but given that the VHS copy that I taped off of HBO all those years ago has long since worn out, and Anchor Bay's DVD of the film has been out of print for several years, it hasn't been possible. Luckily, it was as fun as I remembered it.

Another film I grew up with was Police Academy, and it just so happens that Neal Isreal directed that as well. As such, you shouldn't be shocked to find that the similarities between the two films run rampant, with the main exception being that Police Academy was rated R, while Violations is PG-13. So, what's missing from this one? Well, aside from an increased number of F-Bombs and boobs, not very much. You still have the asshole cops with an authority problem, the lovable weirdos under their tutelage, a conspiracy from above to fail the class, goofy romance, and a metric fuck-ton of smart-ass one liners (mostly courtesy of John Murray, brother of Bill Murray) and politically incorrect humor.

Plus, there's a lot of sex jokes in this film. And early turns from Fred Willard, Jennifer Tilly, and James Keach don't hurt. Still, the centerpiece of the whole thing is the over-the-top performance from the aforementioned John Murray, who does his best to ape the cocky sarcasm that his brother turned in one year prior in Ghostbusters. That alone is worth the price of admission.

They just don't make films like this anymore... and is that a bad thing? Well, probably not. But still, that doesn't mean Moving Violations isn't worth your time. Re-watching this film today is like an adult finding an old time capsule that they buried in their backyard. One that's filled with things that they loved as a child. Upon opening it, they not only experience a great deal of nostalgia, but they also find some value that they didn't realize these things had when they were young.

Definitely recommended, and I hope someone reissues this one on DVD and/or Blu-ray soon, as I'd love to re-add it to my collection for good.


Verdict:

3 1/2 out of 5


Saturday, January 29, 2011

Weeds: Season 6 (2010)


IMDB Link:
Weeds

Directed By:
Various


Summing It Up:
The sixth season of Weeds finds the Botwin family on the run from the police and FBI, as well as the Mexican politicians and thugs that they double crossed in their most recent misadventures. Desperate to escape to a "normal" life, they assume fake identities and attempt to leave the country.


Quick Thoughts: 
I didn't start watching Weeds until after Season 6 had begun airing on television. However, I caught up in just a couple of weeks, via Netflix Instant, because the show sucked me in. By the time that I got to the end of Season 5, I was definitely a fan, and I couldn't wait to watch Season 6.

With that said, I dug into Season 6 almost immediately. However, I only made it a few episodes in initially, mostly because I found that the season seemed to be losing steam quickly. After about five episodes, I kind of lost interest, and I moved on to some other things.

Well, I eventually decided that I should give the remainder of the season a shot, and I am honestly glad that I did because things did pick up very quickly once I started watching again. The family's misadventures in drug dealing, murder, and all sorts of other illegal things amused me once again, and the show gained some much needed direction during the last half of the season.

The result of this is that, if you found yourself unimpressed by the beginning of this season and stopped watching, you should dig it back up and give it a shot. I did, and I feel that it was very much worth it. For those who have yet to even check the show out, I think you should definitely do so.


Verdict:

4 out of 5



Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Outcast (2010)


IMDB Link:
Outcast

Directed By:
Colm McCarthy


Summing It Up:
Outcast tells the story of a young girl and a mysterious drifter who fall in love with one another. However, as they become closer, a beast begins killing those around them and a man with magical powers, whose intentions are unknown, begins closing in...


Quick Thoughts: 
If you want my full thoughts on the film and Momentum's Region 2 DVD release, then you should head over to The Blood Sprayer and check out my review (that link will take you directly to it). However, the gist of it is that Outcast features a concept that is very original, but it is flawed because it tries to tackle too much at once and manages to come up a bit short.

I really enjoyed the look and tone of the film, but the Director's attempt to build mystery and suspense overcomplicated the subject matter and, at times, made it hard to follow. Luckily, things pull together more towards the end, but the payoff is a bit too little and it comes too late. Does that kill the film? No, it doesn't, but it certainly keeps it from living up to the promise that it initially has.

Still, I have to give TV-Turned-Film Director Colm McCarthy credit for trying. Though the film is definitely uneven, it manages a lot on it's obviously small budget. Maybe it's just the growing pains that come from shifting to a longer format, or maybe the film was just overambitious... My guess is that Outcast's problems are a result of a little bit of both these things.

Still, regardless of its faults, I enjoyed the movie at least enough to stick with it. It's worth a watch, but in the end, it is far from spectacular.

If you're looking for the DVD, you can pick it up from Amazon UK.


Verdict:

3 out of 5




Sunday, January 23, 2011

Summer School (1987)


IMDB Link:
Summer School

Directed By:
Carl Reiner


Summing It Up:
After the normal summer school teacher wins the lottery and runs off, a care-free gym teacher finds himself stuck teaching Remedial English to a group of social misfits.


Quick Thoughts: 
Summer School has been a favorite of mine since I was a kid, so it's safe to say that I highly enjoyed rewatching it as an adult. Part of it is due to the nostalgia of it, part of it is because I now understand even more of the humor, and part is just because it's plain old fun.

Director Carl Reiner (The Jerk) does an excellent job taking what could have been just another cheesy 80s comedy and turning it into something much more. Sure, it has all of the trappings of the 80s - bad hair, bad fashion,  a sidekick dog, Kirstie Alley - but it also has a well-meaning heart and some damn funny scenes as well. Mark Harmon is very likable as the bumbling teacher, and the cast of students (including a young, and pregnant, Shawnee Smith) are all equally fun to watch. However, it's safe to say that, for me, the characters of Chainsaw and Dave steal the show (the scenes with their pranks are epic).

If you're a lover of 80s comedy, and you haven't seen Summer School, then you should do so immediately. Or, as Chainsaw and Dave would say, "I give this two big thumbs up!"


Verdict:

4 out of 5



Saturday, January 22, 2011

The Wild Life (1984)


IMDB Link:
The Wild Life

Directed By:
Art Linson


Summing It Up:
A group of teenagers learn about love, loss, independence, and sex as the summer comes to a close in this 80s comedy from the people who brought us Fast Times At Ridgemont High.


Quick Thoughts: 
Many people consider The Wild Life to be the "unofficial sequel" to the awesome flick, Fast Times At Ridgemont High. After all, Cameron Crowe wrote the script, Sean Penn's brother, Chris Penn (looking much different than I'm sure any of us remember him), plays a party happy jock, and the film deals with the crazy antics of a group of teenagers on their way out of High School. However, that is pretty much where the similarities end.

That's not to say that Wild Life isn't a fun movie; because it definitely is. It just isn't as fun, or well done, as Fast Times was. But let's be honest, movies like that are a rarity, so we shouldn't be expecting lightning to strike twice. That may also be a part of why Wild Life has managed to slip into relative obscurity over the years.

After all, the film hasn't had an official home video release since the heydays of VHS and Laserdisc (the copy I watched was sourced from the latter). I guess the reason for this has something to do with rights to some of the film's music, which features songs from a bunch of popular 80s bands and an original score by Eddie Van Halen himself. So, like several other films over the years (Angus, anyone?), this movie has languished in distribution limbo, and many have forgotten that it exists.

With that in mind, if you can find a copy, I really recommend giving it a watch. Crowe's script is funny, touching, nostalgic, and filled with all of the angst that we've come to expect from him, and the cast is wonderful. Along with Penn, we also get turns from Lea Thompson, Eric Stoltz, Rick Moranis, and Randy Quaid (who is amazingly un-humorous here, though it is for good reason). Producer/Director Art Linson does a decent enough job here, but it's clear that producing is where he does his best work (he only took the helm to avoid cancellation, after the film's original director dropped out at the last minute).

All in all, you could do a lot worse with your time, so if you haven't seen Wild Life, and this sounds appealing, I think you should try tracking it down. You may even be surprised by it.


Verdict:

3 1/2 out of 5






Bare Behind Bars [aka A Prisão] (1980)


IMDB Link:
A Prisão

Directed By:
Oswaldo de Oliveira


Summing It Up:
Women in a prison continually encounter sexual "abuse" and sadistic treatment at the hands of the warden, "nursing" staff, and the prison guards. Eventually, some escape from the depraved prison, only to be hunted by the Police.


Quick Thoughts: 
Wow. Just fucking wow.

I've seen bits and pieces of random "Women In Prison" films before, but I'd never bothered to sit down and watch a full one until my good friend, Kristy, brought over a DVD Screener for Arrow Video's release of the notorious Bare Behind Bars. Needless to say, this had everything I expected, only there was about 1000 times more of it than I ever thought would be present in a film of this type.

I may write up a full review for the site (if I do, I'll update this post with the link), but the gist of it is that this was one insane fucking movie. The entire thing is basically nothing but an excuse to show lots of naked chicks, lesbian sex, and absurd violence. Though there was a plot of sorts, the entire thing felt scattered and randomly strung together, but I suppose one doesn't watch films like this for the plot, now do they?

Anyway, in the end, Bare Behind Bars is basically a softcore porn; only the script and acting are even more horrid than even the worst of those. Still, the bizarreness of everything that happens in the film somehow makes it watchable, and it's not just because of the sex, as most of the girls are far from what I would consider to be attractive. There's just something about the mix of badly dubbed dialog, insanely illogical situations, and completely non-apologetic exploitation that is on display here that makes it hard to stop watching.

If you're looking for a well-made (or even a good) film, look elsewhere. However, if you want to see a sleazy piece of trash that is guaranteed to make you slap your forehead in awe, then Bare Behind Bars is for you.

Check out the clip below for a taste of what I mean. 


Verdict:


3 out of 5



Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Barry Munday (2010)


IMDB Link:
Barry Munday

Directed By:
Chris D'Arienzo


Summing It Up:
A womanizing slacker gets his life turned upside down when he awakes in the hospital to find that he lost both of his testicles after being assaulted by an angry father in a movie theater. Just when he thinks things can't get any crazier, he also discovers that he may be the father of one of his forgotten conquest's as-of-yet unborn child.


Quick Thoughts: 
I consider myself to have been pretty lucky recently, as all of the films I have watched lately have been very good and exceeded my expectations. Barry Munday continues that trend by being surprisingly funny, yet oddly poignant at the same time.

I really didn't know anything about the film going into it; just that a few friends had recommended it and that it was now on Netflix Instant. I had some time to kill, so I started it up, hoping for a few laughs. What I got was pretty much 90 minutes of continuous laughter and some surprisingly emotional thought buried underneath.

This isn't your typical Romantic Comedy at all. In fact, the characters should all be very unlikeable because they are selfish, socially inept, mean people for the most part. However, deep down, they all have some sort of heart to them, and in the end, you really end up rooting for them; even if it feels weird to do so.

The jokes are juvenile, but somehow, they come off as being more clever than they probably really are, and I think that is a testament to the great cast that is on display here. Patrick Wilson (Hard Candy) and Judy Greer (Arrested Development) do a great job playing the oddest couple that I've seen on screen in a while, and there are some great turns by Malcolm McDowell, Chloë Sevigny, and even Billy Dee Williams(!) as well.

I really can't recommend this one enough; especially since you can watch it immediately on Netflix. To be honest, this is one that I feel should be added to my collection.

Verdict:


4 out of 5

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Moon (2009)


IMDB Link:
Moon

Directed By:
Duncan Jones



Summing It Up:
A lone space worker, nearing the end of his three-year contract harvesting Helium-3 on the Moon, has an accident, and he awakens to find that not only is he not alone now, but things are much different than he thought they were...


Quick Thoughts: 
I've had this one on Blu-ray for a while now, but I just finally got around to watching it. After hearing such great things about it, I was a bit skeptical, but I can now say that this is one of the best Science Fiction films that I've ever seen.

The film wasn't really what I expected going into it, and I have to admit that is probably a good thing. I had this idea in my mind that was going to focus more on the interplanetary living aspect of things, and that it would probably just be straight Sci-Fi. Instead, it actually turned out to be a very original mindbender with a lot of cool concepts behind it.

This is not an effects film by any means, so those looking for lots of space travel and crazy shots won't get what they want. However, Moon is a nicely shot, intelligently scripted film that manages to engage the viewer based on it's main character's development, and some crazy theories. Sam Rockwell is great in this film, and I am now a bit bewildered that he didn't get more attention from the Academy when this came out a couple years ago.

All in all, Moon is a beautiful little piece of quiet madness that just begs for a rewatch. Highly recommended; especially if you like slow-burn films.


Verdict:


4 out of 5

Monday, January 17, 2011

Prince of Darkness (1987)


IMDB Link:
Prince Of Darkness

Directed By:
John Carpenter


Summing It Up:
A group of college students, hired for a research project, join their professor and a priest as they attempt to unlock the mystery of a cylinder that was found in the basement of an old church. Unfortunately for them, it turns out that the substance inside of it may have a sinister connection that could cause the end of the world as they know it.


Quick Thoughts: 
For some reason or another, I found myself with an urge to revisit Carpenter's Prince Of Darkness. Maybe it was just because I hadn't seen the film in many years, or it could be because I had heard its name pop up a few times over the last couple weeks... I'm not really sure. Anyway, I think I liked the film even more this time around, and I am beginning to think that it may be one of the Director's more underrated efforts.

This film came shortly after Big Trouble In Little China - which may possibly be my favorite Carpenter film of all time (yes, I love The Thing as well, but Big Trouble is a one of a kind gem) - and Prince's score sounds very similar to that film's in a lot of regards. As always, there is a lot of synth, some droning guitar work, and an air of something other-worldly. The score is easily one of the best things about the film, next to the crazy storyline and sweet practical effects.

There's just something about the movie that makes it unsettling. Maybe it's the creepy homeless people (one of whom is none other than Alice Cooper), or it could be the amount of insects and worms that are all over  the place... Regardless, the film manages to blend Sci-Fi with Horror in a way that only Carpenter could do; with a logic so odd that I'm still not sure what was going on in some parts.

Speaking of that... If I only like the rest of the film, I love the ending. It's one of Carpenter's more open-ended conclusions, and it's filled with a nihilism that I can't help but love. Say what you will, but the man can do bleak endings better than just about anyone else out there.

I know that some don't feel the same way as I do, but overall, I found Prince Of Darkness to be thought provoking and creepy. Sure, it's not perfect, but few films are; even the great ones.


Verdict:


4 out of 5

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Hot Tub Time Machine (2010)


IMDB Link:
Hot Tub Time Machine

Directed By:
Steve Pink


Summing It Up:
Four friends travel back in time to the 80s via a mishap involving Russian energy drinks and a hot tub. Once there, they must relive the past as their younger selves while trying to figure out how to get back to their future lives.


Quick Thoughts: 
After I realized that Sean Anders, who wrote and directed Sex Drive (see my thoughts HERE), was also a co-writer on Hot Tub Time Machine, I suddenly felt the urge to watch it again. This was my third viewing of the film in the past year, and it was just as good as ever this time around, cementing its place as one of my favorite recent comedies.

Hot Tub works so well because it doesn't take it's subject matter very seriously, yet it also manages to pay homage to just about every sub-genre of 80s comedies without making fun of them. All the staples are here: A Hair Metal-fueled soundtrack, Jheri Curls, Cocaine, Bad Fashion, John Cusack... The result is a movie that is very funny and brings back a lot of nostalgia for those of us who grew up on those types of films.

If you haven't seen Hot Tub yet, I definitely recommend it. I know that I will probably watch it a few more times.


Verdict:


4 out of 5

Sex Drive (2008)


IMDB Link:
Sex Drive

Directed By:
Sean Anders


Summing It Up:
A high school senior heads out on a road trip with his friends to try and lose his virginity with a girl that he met online. Ridiculousness ensues.


Quick Thoughts: 
On this particular night, I was in the mood to watch some comedies, as I needed a good laugh. I've always been a fan of a good sex comedy, and some friends had told me that Sex Drive was worth a watch. I figured that, good or bad, it's on Instant Watch, so I really had nothing to lose. Imagine my surprise when it turned out to be a really good time.

Don't get me wrong, there is nothing groundbreaking in this film at all. However, Director Sean Anders (who also co-wrote Hot Tub Time Machine, another recent comedy that I love) manages to bring us a modern take on the 80s Road Trip/Sex Comedy hybrid. In a way, it's kind of like American Pie crossed with The Sure Thing, and that is far from a bad thing, in my opinion.

There's lots of lowbrow humor, some decent nudity, and the most ridiculous subplot involving Amish people that I've ever witnessed. The cast is also pretty decent, and they manage to make the characters likable (well, the ones that you are supposed to like anyway). In particular, Clark Duke (Kick Ass, Hot Tub Time Machine) does a great job as the obnoxious "player" character. 

All in all, Sex Drive far exceeded my expectations, and I really hope that Anders gets behind the camera again soon. Highly recommended, and very underrated.


Verdict:


4 out of 5