Friday, December 23, 2011

'Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy' Movie Review

Based on John le Carre’s 1974 spy novel of the same name, “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy” has a lot going for it. Chief on this list is the cast, led by Gary Oldman, who gives an intense but understated performance as George Smiley, a Cold War era British intelligence operative. As opposite as he can be from that other famous Brit spy, Smiley is tasked with exposing a high-ranking mole in the organization. With a supporting cast that includes Colin Firth, Toby Jones, Ciaran Hinds, and Benedict Cumberbatch—which may be the best name in cinema—Smiley cautiously roots out the informant using crafty tricks he’s acquired through a lifetime of playing the spy game.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

'The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo' Movie Review

I’m not a fan of Steig Larsen’s ludicrously popular (I say that selling more than 27 million copies counts as ludicrous) “Millennium” trilogy—which kicks off with “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”. In fact, I dislike them immensely. I find the books tedious, poorly written, in desperate need of an editor’s sword, and, perhaps worst of all, boring as all hell. I have similar feelings about the Swedish film adaptations of these same novels. As a result, I’ve been rather indifferent to the build up for the American remake of “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”, the self-proclaimed “feel bad movie of Christmas”. Still, I feel like somewhere, buried deep down inside, there is the potential for a decent movie based on these books. The set up, story, and characters are all interesting, and if anyone can salvage the remains and fashion them into an entertaining film, it may very well be David Fincher, a director with a knack for infusing left-of-center projects with a pop sensibility.

Monday, December 12, 2011

'Tyrannosaur' Movie Review

Paddy Considine is known primarily as a character actor, with some small parts in some big movies, like “The Bourne Ultimatum” and “Cinderella Man”, some bigger parts in smaller films. He also has a few writing credits to his name, most notably 2004’s “Dead Man’s Shoes”, which he also starred in. This year he added to his resume, making his feature film directorial debut with the bleak, violent drama, “Tyrannosaur”.

Friday, December 9, 2011

'Shame' Movie Review

Sitting in the theater watching Steve McQueen’s (“Hunger”) new film, the sexually charged “Shame”, I enjoyed it quite a bit.  Outside after the screening, another reviewer asked what I thought.  Seems like a straightforward enough question, but in trying to quantify my experience I froze, mouth open like a slack-jawed idiot.  He took my hesitation to mean that I didn’t like “Shame”.  He said he liked it a great deal, and we wandered down the escalator and out into the harsh light of day. 

'The Weird World of Blowfly' Movie Review

Do you want to watch a 66 year old man dressed like a superhero lay down some of the filthiest rhymes you’ve heard this side of a 2 Live Crew record? If you answered yes to this question, then you’ll probably want to check out Jonathan Furmanski’s new documentary, “The Weird World of Blowfly”. The film follows Clarence Reid, AKA Blowfly, a purple-sequin-suit-wearing MC with a dirty, dirty mouth, and an even dirtier mind. This is an artist with songs titles like “Big Fat Ho” and “Rap Dirty”, albums called “Porno Freak”, and who does a rendition of “Do the Twist” entitled “Suck MY Dick”. Dropping albums since 1971, some people consider Blowfly one of the first rappers ever. That is the point that “Weird World” tries to drive home, with mixed results, and notable personalities like Chuck D, Ice T, and Jello Biafra of the Dead Kennedys, will try to convince you. Given the timelines, they very well may be right.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Blu-ray/DVD Review: 'Horror Express'

Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee, and Telly Savalas in a Spanish horror film from the writers of “Psychomania”? Thank you, Severin Films, you always know just what I want. This time I’m talking about the new Blu-ray release of Eugenio Martin’s 1972 genre jaunt, “Horror Express”. There’s a droning, discordant score; major, highly questionable plot points that are simply glossed over and pushed aside with a wave of the hand; and, most importantly, a brain-sucking monster loose on a trans-Siberian train. What’s not to like about that? “Horror Express” is classic, grainy, low-budget horror. It is weird and gory, the plot goes in unexpected directions and there are eyeballs and blood and brains and scalpels, and is just as much fun as all of that sounds.