Tuesday, June 28, 2011

DVD Review: 'Bloody Birthday', 'Nightmares', and 'The Baby'

Severin Films kicks this summer season off right, releasing a trio of obscure, little-seen horror films from the 1970s and early 80s, or as I like to call them, three more reasons not to go out in the sun. We get two entries into the slasher movie sweepstakes, “Bloody Birthday” and “Nightmares”, and one, what-the-hell-is-wrong-with-people flick, “The Baby”.

Friday, June 24, 2011

'Bad Teacher' Movie Review

“Bad Teacher” is mediocre. I could stop there, and that sentence alone would more than likely be enough. But I’m not going to stop there, because that’s just the kind of dude I am. However, if you want to stop reading there, I doubt I’m going to say anything more insightful than “Bad Teacher” is mediocre, because that’s about all it is, a middle of the road comedy. There are highs, and there are lows, but for the most part, the movie hovers between these two extremes, not particularly great, but not particularly awful. To paraphrase Lisa Simpson, “Bad Teacher” is meh, M-E-H, meh.

Friday, June 17, 2011

'The Tree of Life' Movie Review

When you consider the career of a filmmaker like Terrence Malick you have to mention the fact that in his career, now spanning more than forty years, the guy has only directed five films. Sure he’s written a bunch of others, and produced a few more, so it’s not like he’s resting on his laurels, but no matter how you look at it, the man takes his time. So it’s understandable that each of his movies is a bit of an event, and his latest, “The Tree of Life”, is no exception. The whole thing has been shrouded in mystery from the get go. We knew Brad Pitt and Sean Penn were in the movie, but additional details have been sparse at best.

'Green Lantern' Movie Review

So far this summer movie season has been a pretty good time for comic book adaptations. “Thor” was far better than I expected, and, though I haven’t managed to drag my sorry ass to the theater yet, “X-Men: First Class” is getting thumbs-up reviews from all over the place. With “Captain America” still to come, it seemed that the summer was destined to be dominated by Marvel, but not entirely. DC gets into the act this weekend with their big-budget big-screen version of “Green Lantern”. With it, we have another worthy, entertaining superhero flick with which to while away our precious summer hours. Just a heads up, I’m not particularly familiar with the source material, so I can’t comment on how closely the story sticks to comics, or how many little in jokes there are, but even from my removed perspective it is a damn blast.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

DVD/Blu-ray Review: 'Kill the Irishman'

The Movie:

“Kill the Irishman” tells the true-life story of Danny Greene (Ray Stevenson), a legendary Cleveland gangster and folk hero. In the 1970s Greene and a rag tag group of modern day Celtic warriors waged war against the Italian mob in Northern Ohio. The most obvious comparison for “Irishman” is “Goodfellas”, another film that traces the rise of a figure in organized crime from childhood, through the early stages of his criminal career, into the glory days, and his ultimate downfall. Green was most notable for being the man the mob couldn’t kill. Seriously, the guy was like a freaking cat he had so many lives. At one point a house falls on him and he walks away unscathed. He survives bullets, stabbings, and car bombs. Bombs are the apparent weapon of choice in this particular region, and in one summer, no less than 36 go off. There is a pretty amazing montage of exploding automobiles.

'The Catechism Cataclysm' Movie Review

When a movie starts with flames and blackmetal, you know you’re onto something. That’s exactly how “The Catechism Cataclysm”, the latest, crazy-ass indie comedy from director Todd Rohal, starts out, and it only builds from there. The film is kind of a road trip, kind of a voyage of self-discovery, and kind of an “Apocalypse Now” style journey into a chaotic, surreal hell. It is a tribute to Rohal, who also wrote the script, that despite being absurd, irrational, and at first glance, unsound, that “Catechism” is ultimately an entertaining, surprisingly watchable movie.

DVD/Blu-ray Review: '36th Precinct'

Originally released in 2004, French cop drama “36th Precinct” is hitting region 1 DVD and Blu-ray courtesy of Palisades Tartan. The film starts strong out of the gate, and the first half favorably compares to crime films like “Heat”. There is action, drama, flawed characters, cops who play by their own rules as they dispense their own brand of justice, and a general level of badassness. It is tense, packed with violence, and kicks some serious ass. That is until it falls completely apart halfway through.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

'The Yellow Sea' Movie Review

After his debut film, 2008’s “The Chaser”, Korean director Na Hong-jin was definitely on a lot of people’s radars, mine included, and many of us have eagerly been waiting for his newest crime thriller, “The Yellow Sea”. Fresh from Cannes, “The Yellow Sea” just made its North American premiere at the Seattle International Film Festival. Be warned, there is an absurd amount of hatchet fighting and stabbing, not to mention people getting beaten to death with a large bone. If that sounds like a good time to you, it certainly does to me, then this movie is right up your alley.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

'Burke and Hare' Movie Review

What’s not to like about a black comedy about grave robbers starring Simon Pegg and directed by John Landis? Nothing, that’s what. Throw in Jessica Hynes and you’ve got a miniature “Spaced” reunion. And what the hell, why not add Gollum himself, Andy Serkis, into the mix just to up the creepy factor? You get all of this and more from the new film “Burke and Hare”. While not earth shattering, this is Landis’ best feature film since “Beverly Hills Cop III”—though he did helm a couple of episodes of “Psych”, which I have to give him credit for.

Monday, June 6, 2011

'Detention' Movie Review

Is it time to start wistfully longing for the 1990s already? Since “Take Me Home Tonight”—which oddly enough I did enjoy—was pretty much the last nail in the 80s nostalgia coffin, it makes sense that things would start moving in that direction. That’s the definite impression that you get from “Detention”, Joseph Kahn’s first feature film since 2004’s “Torque”, though he’s stayed busy working music videos for high profile pop artists. The movie is a mash up of horror, time travel, and teenybopper comedy, and doesn’t so much have plot as a lot of excuses to reference earlier days of music, fashion, and popular culture. You’ve never seen so many nods to the Backstreet Boys.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

'Black Bread' Movie Review

“Black Bread” starts of with a scene of such stunning violence—without giving too much away, it involves a sledgehammer and a horse, among a slew of other very nasty things—that it casts a shadow over the rest of the movie. Set in post-Spanish Civil War Catalonia, the film creates an atmosphere where the potential for death and hostility to erupt exists around every corner, in every situation. From the outset you learn that no place is safe; not the family hearth, government offices, and certainly not the multitude of caves, woods, and fields where the 11-year-old Andreu (Francesc Colomer) grows up.