Wednesday, February 29, 2012

THE LAWLESS BREED (1953)

John Wesley Hardin (Hudson) is released from prison and on his way out of town he drops off his handwritten autobiography at the local newspaper office. Flashback time.

Hardin was raised by a Jesus lover who was a big believer in Proverbs 13:24 (a Bible verse that encourages parents to beat the shit out of their children...for their own good of course). The ass whoopins didn't help much because when John is still a teenager he has some trouble during a card game and kills a man. The pigs aren't going to believe it's self-defense and besides the man has three ill-tempered brothers, so Hardin goes on the lam. But it seems trouble has a way of always finding Hardin and Hardin does his part to always keep the gravedigger in business. After a few years of this Hardin finally settles down with his main squeeze and they start a farm. Things are going good and she even has a little baby on the way...but the past isn't done with Hardin just yet.

For an older western THE LAWLESS BREED is entertaining enough. A pre-fame Hudson definitely has a commanding screen presence and the pace is quick. But then after seeing the movie I did a little reading about the real John Wesley Hardin and holy horse pussy that guy (at least according to his Wikipedia page) was a fucking maniac! It's like everywhere he went he killed somebody. He even shot some guy through the wall of a hotel room because he was snoring too loud!!! LOL. Attention Hollywood: instead of making movies about talking Chihuahuas or a weredolphin winning a breakdancing contest to help cure childhood terminal butt cancer or whatever it is you make movies about how about a hard NC-17 movie about the legend of John Wesley Hardin? This dude was something else. On top of killing nearly everybody on the planet, he studied law in prison then when he got out passed the Bar Exam, married a 15 year-old girl and then "accidentally" killed a guy during a bet before finally being gunned down while playing dice in a saloon.

Back to THE LAWLESS BREED. Good film, but nothing life changing. The pre-CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON Julie Adams was nice to look at though.

THE INCITE MILL (2010)

Ten strangers agree to stay in a remote underground complex for 7 days in exchange for a big payday. Naturally it doesn't take a genius to realize this sounds too good to be true. The participants are quickly manipulated into not trusting each other and then in their private rooms each is given a secret weapon. Secret alliances form and soon the blood begins to spill...unfortunately for the viewer the blood I speak of could barely fill coffee cup. I'm assuming that THE INCITE MILL is just another version of Agatha Christie's mystery novel "And Then There Were None" and as mysteries go TIM fails yet again. There's pretty much zero doubt as to the winner would be.

Overall, I enjoyed watching Tatsuya Fujiwara since it brought back memories of DEATH NOTE and Haruka Ayase brought back memories of CYBORG GIRL, but other than that I was pretty disappointed by the entire movie. It felt kinda cheap, the violence is on level with a network television crime drama, zero nudity, the tension was nonexistent and the story was promising (although the reason they all got together was just lazy and silly), but ultimately unsatisfying. Not a terrible film, but not worth watching either.
About as bloody as it gets.


Friday, February 24, 2012

THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO (2009)

Compared to the novel, the film is a huge disappointment. A few weeks ago I devoured these books one after another and when I finished the third book I just sat there motionless for a long time daydreaming, in my sadness, about all the different ways the story could have continued. I'm sure my dreams pale in comparison to the story that Steig Larsson had planned, but since he died before book 4 was completed, my daydreams are all I'll ever have.

My next fix of the Lisbeth Salander/Mikael Blomkvist world was this Swedish movie adaptation. I was really excited about watching it, in anticipation of it being awesome and me buying the Blu-Rays and reliving the story over and over and over...well, that's never going to happen because after trudging through this lifeless clunker I never want to see it again.

If you've never read the novel that might sound brutal, since this film might actually be satisfying to the easily amused, but to me, as a fan of the book, there was a lot wrong with this film. For the sake of not sitting here writing a long ass review I'll just mention a few points that bothered me:

1) the complete removal of the relationship between Erika Berger and Mikael. This is just insane because their relationship is one of the key points of the entire series! And the reason for the cliffhanger ending of the book which...

2) wasn't even included in the movie!!! Not that it matters much because...

3) the immensely complex relationship between Lisbeth and Mikael has been weakened and watered down so much that it doesn't seem much more that just a sexual fling.

4) the massive trimming down of the"Millennium" storyline, including the relationship with the Vanger family.

5) Henrik Vanger's luring Mikael with information about Hans-Erik Wennerström.

6) less characters in the Harriet Vanger mystery.

7) how Martin's car trip ends, not to mention the line Lisbeth gave Martin when she entered his basement.

8) Lisbeth didn't try and hide her computer secret. Also her introduction to the Harriet investigation was silly in this version and goes totally against her book character.

9) the almost complete removal of Dragan Armansky.

10) the entire Lisbeth character. I don't even want to get into it.

Bottom line: if I had seen the movie version first I would've never read the novel. Even at 152 minutes, it's too streamlined and the entire feel is just wrong. I didn't like it and I wish I had never seen it since it tarnishes the vision/feelings that I created in my head while reading the book. My advise? Buy the book and forget this movie even exists...I'm damn sure going to.
This part of the story takes place in December 2002, but yet the postmark says December 2007.


Monday, February 20, 2012

THAT EVENING SUN (2009)

Legendary actor Hal Holbrook plays Abner Meecham, an old man who after a fall was placed in an old folks home by his son. Abner doesn't like it there, so one day he just simply walks out. He catches a ride back to his farm only to find that his son has rented his homestead out to a white trash family headed up by Lonzo Choat. Unwilling to give up the home he's worked his entire life for, he moves into a small shack off to the side of the big house and refuses to leave. What follows next is an increasingly volatile standoff between Meecham and Choat.

So close to being awesome. The first two acts of the story were really good. Excellent character development, lots of tension building, but then it seems the writer wrote himself into a corner because the ending, at least to me, was a major letdown. I was hoping for something explosive and memorable. Instead THAT EVENING SUN drops with a thud.

Worth a watch for sure, if only for Hal Holbrook's performance. I'm kinda surprised that he didn't receive an Oscar nomination for his performance, but then again the Academy has never been known for making smart decisions. The entire supporting cast is also very good (I was very pleased to see Mia Wasikowska from JANE EYRE). Too bad they didn't have just a little more to work with.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

DRIVE (2011)

Apparently this movie was too cool for me. As I always try to do, I went into the film knowing as little as possible about the story. In this case I did really well, I only knew: the title, the DVD cover and that there was a million copies on the shelf at the video store which lead me to believe it was a pretty popular film. I didn't even read the description on the back of the DVD case. So based on the cover and the title I figured the film was about a guy who drove a car and since he was holding a bloody hammer I figured either somebody really pissed him off or maybe he was dressed up as the dude from OLDBOY for Halloween.

The movie starts out okay enough with a rather subdued car chase scene and I use the term "car chase" very loosely because it would barely even rate a 1-star rating on GTA. After that we're more formally introduced to the character of Driver and there's not a lot going on there. In the daytime he's a part-time mechanic/stunt car driver and at night he's a getaway driver for the highest bidder. Sounds exciting, but it's not because throughout all of this Driver just calmly chews on a toothpick (COBRA-style) and stares into space like he might not be getting enough oxygen to his brain (Terri Schiavo-style). Driver comes across kinda like a heavily medicated Forrest Gump. He has the personality of an ice cube and I guess that might be the point: maybe his robotic performance is some kind of complex social commentary by the filmmakers about desensitized, emotionally unavailable males in contemporary society or something like that. I don't know and I don't give a fuck. I'm a simple-minded man and in my movies called DRIVE about getaway drivers holding bloody hammers I want to see cars wrecking! A lot.

Anyway, as Fate would have it (and Fate is really stretching it here) Driver's neighbor just happens to be in debt deeply to the same mafia gangster guy that Driver's business partner is in cahoots with. Small world huh? Anyway, Driver doesn't know this when he agrees to help his neighbor rob a pawn shop. Almost instantly the deal goes to Hell and Driver ends up in a very bad situation.

The story is older than dirt, but oh well, it's nothing that a lot of character development, violence and jaw-droppingly awesome car chases can't fix. Too bad then there's a total of 7 minutes of car chases in this entire movie...and that's including the opening scene! The other 93 minutes are spent slowly telling a story that a better filmmaker could have told in 40 minutes and then beefed up with jaw-droppingly awesome car chases.

Bottom line: DRIVE is too in-your-face stylized for me, there's too many song moments that come off like music videos, numerous plot holes, the action (what little there is) is underwhelming, the story is ancient and filled with unsympathetic characters, the pace is torture and worst of all the Driver character is a bore. Not a bad movie, just one that I don't get. But don't take my word for it, check it out for yourself. As for me I'll be in my room watching THE ROAD WARRIOR.
That front end held up pretty well for just T-boning the shit out of another car.

Wow. Computer generated blood. Awesome.