A little gremlins action

•April 29, 2009 • 3 Comments

gremlins

Who doesn’t love a little Gremlins? I know I do, which is why I was psyched when I found this fan-made video on youtube recently. It’s an homage to the scene in Gremlins 2 when the little guys invade a John Wayne movie. Joe Dante, director of the first two, recently said that he won’t be back for a third flick if it ever happens, but that he is working on the blu-ray transfers for the first two, and was hoping to include the following as a special feature.

Gotta love a gremlin as the “Beast from 20,000 fathoms!”

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Disneynature

•April 27, 2009 • 2 Comments

disney-earth

I won’t lie, I’m a sucker for pretty things in high definition. It’s why I bought the BBC documentary series Planet Earth on blu-ray a while back. Sometimes I love to just put it on, sit back, and look at it.

There is however, one thing better than pretty images in high-def, and that’s pretty images in high-def on a big screen. That’s why I ventured down to the theater on Sunday to see Disney’s Earth, even though I’d already seen most of it as part of the aforementioned miniseries.

The film is the first in a series of nature documentaries that Disney plans to release on Earth Day every year.

Walt Disney, in his classic True Life Adventure films, knew that the drama and beauty of the natural world was more fascinating than any story man could concoct, and this new feature is no different. Now, with amazing upgrades in film technology, everyone can soar above a river in the rainforest, fly over a cliff with it, and then turn around and witness the water falling hundreds, if not thousands of feet to the ground below, becoming little more than a cloud of mist by the time it hits the ground. Everyone can fly above a flock of millions of migrating birds, their wings pulsing to an unknown rhythm. Everyone can stare in wonder at the dumbfounding beauty of the aurora australis (southern polar lights) as it darts across the inky black sky. Everyone can watch as a humongous great white shark leaps 15 feet out of the water in super slow motion, devouring a seal in in midair with one clench of its jaws. Everyone can gaze upon these extraordinary natural sights on a screen the size of a house. I did, and I encourage everyone else to do so too.

Next year we get Oceans, which looks just as impressive, if not more so since it’s all original footage, and not repurposed material from another project.

disney-earth-oceans

Click image for trailer

And now for something a little different

•April 27, 2009 • 1 Comment

yodok-storiesEvery now and then I witness something that really gets to me, be it a, book, movie, tv show, news story, whatever… This time it was a film review. The film in question is Yodok Stories, and in all fairness, doesn’t really matter to this post.

What matters is what the film’s about. In the 80’s, filmmaker Andrezej Fidyk traveled to North Korea to make a documentary about the massive parades and demonstrations celebrating Communist rule, and had been wanting to make another film ever since, which he’s finally done. While there, he heard stories about Nazi and Soviet inspired concentration camps that hold political prisoners, the great majority of whom never make it out alive.

Of course, he couldn’t “prove” that such places exist, as North Korea isn’t exactly the most welcoming country on earth, but the stories he heard broke his heart and inspired him to try anyways.

Through interviews with the few who have made it out alive, the film paints a grim picture for life in the camps.

It’s estimated that at least 200,000 people are held in these camps currently, and for every one person sentanced to life in them, at least three or four people are imprisoned. This is because North Korea has what’s called a “three generations” policy, where if one person in sentanced, their parents, spouses, and children are imprisoned with them. Inside the camps, torture, starvation, rape, forced abortions, inhuman experimentation, and executions are common. Prisoners are kept in small groups in scattered villages inside the camps walls to eliminate the threat of mass revolt.

The most surprising thing about these concentration camps, is that almost no one knows about them. Very little has been reported in the media, and not a lot is online. A Google search for north korea concentration camps only yields about 164,000 results. Comparatively, a search for britney spears yields over 88 million results.

concentration-camps

britney-spearsThe sad truth…

For more information, visit the blog One Free Korea, which has some amazing Google Earth photographs of the areas where suspected camps are located.

Freddy Got Fingered: Great movie or greatest movie?

•April 15, 2009 • 2 Comments

freddy-got-fingered1

“Daddy would you like some sausage? Daddy would you like some sausages?”

Yes, that’s Tom Green playing a piano with sausages tied to strings attached to his fingers. No, it doesn’t make much sense even in the context of the movie. Yes, there is some semblance of a plot in the story of 28-year-old Gordie trying to become an animator like Charles Schultz. No, it doesn’t get much (any) deeper than that. Yes, I unabashedly love Freddy Got Fingered and watch it at least once a year. No, I don’t look down on myself because of this, even though I probably should.

This is one of those truly guilty pleasure movies. I’m fully aware that it’s a huge steaming pile of crap that shouldn’t be funny in any way shape or form. As the great Roger Ebert said in his review of the film way back in 2001…

This movie doesn’t scrape the bottom of the barrel. This movie isn’t the bottom of the barrel. This movie isn’t below the bottom of the barrel. This movie doesn’t deserve to be mentioned in the same sentence with barrels.

It doesn’t matter though. Every time I watch it (a few hours ago most recently) I laugh throughout the whole thing. It’s so ridiculously absurd, so gleefully over the top, so amazingly defiant to normal cinematic conventions, that I can’t help but love it.

“I know a banana who applied for a job as a telephone repairman. Guy came and said, ‘You want job here?’ He said, ‘Yeah, I wanna get a job as a telephone repairman.’ He said, ‘YOU GOT THE JOB! YOU GOT THE JOB, BUDDY!’ Then the beavers came…”

That’s just a taste of the wonders hidden within this masterpice of neo-surrealism. If Luis Buñuel and Salvador Dalí were still alive and making movies, and they decided to make a gross-out comedy, this is what they’d come out with. There’s a baby being swung by his umbilical cord, a little boy who gets hit in the face everytime he comes onscreen, a paraplegic, nymphomaniac, amateur rocket scientist who loves flipping creamer cups, a deer used as a suit, scuba diving in the shower, a suit worn backwords just for the hell of it, a cheese sandwich assembly line… The list goes on and on, and none of it makes a damn bit of sense. And I’m thankful for each and every moment of it.

“We’re gonna live like KINGS!!!” (some strong language)

The return of intelligent sci-fi

•April 13, 2009 • 1 Comment

moonOther than Danny Boyle’s Sunshine, I can’t think of another recent sci-fi movie that’s had the emphasis on the sci and not on the fi (and even that one got pretty ridiculous in the last 20 minutes or so). Most are dumbed down space operas trying to be Star Wars, and failing horribly.

Moon however, looks to be a return to the days of 2001 and Solaris, with it’s mind-bending plot and dreamy visuals. And all festival reviews point to this being a new classic.

In it, Sam Rockwell plays an astronaut who volunteers to man a station on the moon for three years. The loneliness gets to him however, and with just two weeks left, things start to get weird. Kevin Spacey voices the stations computer system that’s eerily reminiscent of a modern HAL.

Anyways, have a look at the trailer over at IGN to see for yourself.

moon-trailerClick on the pic for trailer

Why Jody Hill is the real deal, a review of him and his new movie

•April 12, 2009 • 2 Comments

observe_and_report_ver2First came The Foot Fist Way, a hilarious and low-key comedy about a Tae Kwon Do instructor who thinks he’s the man, when in reality he’s just an overweight redneck who happens to be able to throw a punch or two.

Then there was Eastbound and Down, an HBO sitcom (previously written about here) about a former MLB pitcher who thinks he’s the man, but in reality is just an overweight redneck with no moral compass whatsoever, who happens to be able to throw a baseball.

Now there’s Observe and Report, a ridiculously dark comedy about a mall cop who thinks he’s the man, but in reality is just an overweight, bi-polar nutjob who takes his job way too seriously (but is in fact fairly good at it when he’s on his meds).

These synopses may make it seem like Jody Hill, the director and co-creator of all three projects, is a one trick pony, but he’s not. All of his characters are losers, but they’re ones who the viewer actually cares about, no matter how stupid they are, or how offensive they get. In Observe for example, Ronnie Barnhardt, the mall cop, is a deeply disturbed individual, prone to violence. But you can’t help but root for him, even when he’s beating the crap out of a bunch of teenage skateboarders with their own skateboards, breaking a drug dealers arm almost clean off, or smashing a heavy flashlight into the heads of a line of charging cops Oldboy style. He’s just so likable, despite these flaws.

If the above descriptions didn’t give it away, this is a dark comedy. Really dark. Pitch black. The best description I’ve heard was from a reader review on AICN. The reviewer, going by the handle Kid Idioteque, said, “To say it has a black heart is to miss the point entirely. It has no heart. Nothing is off limits…” The films 50% positive rating on Rotten Tomatoes and 54 on Metacritic really say it all. This is either a love it or hate it affair. And as I’ve insinuated, I loved every cringe-inducing second of it, and look forward to Jody Hill’s next “loser” (as he calls his characters) on film. Also, hooray for the Eastbound season two greenlight!

Spike Jonze’s Everyone Poops…

•April 7, 2009 • 1 Comment

wtf2This definitely falls under the WTF? category. I recently posted the amazing trailer for Where the Wild Things Are, and explained why it’s the movie I’m looking forward to the most. Now, courtesy of youtube, there’s this: Spike Jonze’s next movie, also based on a classic children’s book…