The Angriest Man in Brooklyn

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Henry Altmann (Robin Williams) is a middle-aged lawyer, utterly consumed by bitterness and rage. When he goes for a scheduled health checkup, he is enraged to discover that his usual doctor is on leave and he has to deal with a replacement. The replacement doctor, Dr Gill (Mila Kunis) has her own problems – her dog just died, she’s disillusioned with her job, she’s addicted to painkillers, and she’s only working the extra shift because she’s having an affair with Altmann’s doctor (an uncredited cameo by Louis CK) and he used that to pressure her into covering for him. On looking at Altmann’s brain scans she discovers a dangerous aneurysm, and when he becomes angry with her she panics and tells him that he has 90 minutes to live.

Altmann flees the hospital, frantic to correct everything that’s gone wrong with his life in the little time he has left. Meanwhile, Dr Gill realises the magnitude of what she’s done – she sent a critically ill patient out into the world, furiously angry, with a condition that could kill him if his blood pressure rises any higher. If Altmann dies, she’ll be investigated and her addiction and her affair will both come to light – she’ll be ruined and totally unemployable. Terrified, Dr. Gill sets off into New York in the hopes of saving both Henry Altmann, and herself.

It’s difficult to separate the central conceit of The Angriest Man In Brooklyn from its circumstances. The film was among the last projects that Robin Williams completed before his death, and was rushed into distribution shortly after he died. This lends an odd tone of foreshadowing to the spectacle of watching Williams’ character spend 90 minutes coming to terms with mortality.

Unfortunately, that’s all undercut by the scripting. Altmann’s rages are characterised by a weird, clunky, speechifying style (a criminal waste of an improviser as good as Robin Williams) and there’s an unnecessary third-person narrator who constantly detracts from the action by holding forth at length on characters’ inner thoughts. Williams is surrounded by an excellent supporting cast (including Peter Dinklage, Mellisa Leo, James Earl Jones, Richard Kind and Jerry Adler as well as those already mentioned) and everyone does good work. When the movie gives the characters space to breathe and talk naturally with each other, everything feels like it’s finally going to come together – but then the bizarre stilted speeches or the narration starts up again and it all goes out the window.

All in all, The Angriest Man In Brooklyn is not a bad movie. If the timing had been different, it would be considered a minor, but mostly inoffensive, piece of the wider Robin Williams canon. As it is, the extra attention brought on it by his death and its prophetic-seeming subject matter is more scrutiny than it can stand up to. Robin Williams completists will want to see this, and it’s certainly not the worst possible movie, but people wanting a definitive late-period Robin Williams performance would be better off watching World’s Greatest Dad or maybe The Butler.

Sort of maybe recommended?

The Angriest Man in Brooklyn in available on DVD and Blu-Ray from Anchor Bay Entertainment.

Hentai Kamen

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High school student Kyosuke Shikijo (Ryohei Suzuki) wants to be a hero like his late father – a legendary cop. However, he’s academically undistinguished, and (though he participates in his school’s martial arts club) any time he tries to help anyone he just ends up getting a beating. As if that wasn’t bad enough, his mother is a notorious dominatrix (she met Kyosuke’s father when he tried to arrest her) and mocks him cruelly for his lack of romantic success.

So far, so much of a standard setup for a particular class of manga.

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Screwballs

ScrewballsThe 80s sex comedy was the saving grace for those on the quest to check out some titties and bush who were too young to rent proper pornos. Porky’s inspired its fair share of clones and the genre was immensely successful as a whole due to these teenage boys hunt for anything jam packed with nudity and depravity. This phenomenon was later experienced with films like Basic Instinct and Body Of Evidence kicking off a boom for erotic thriller flicks. Now of course with the internet pornography is a mouse click away for horny teens and underage perverts rather than waiting for the new raunchy comedy to hit the shelves. One of the pluses of living in the modern age! Kids have it easy these days I tell ya (god that makes me sound old).

Screwballs was a Corman funded production rushed out hot on the heels of Porky’s to cash in on its success (which still stands as one of the highest grossing Canadian flicks ever).

The film concerns itself with a band of offbeat misfit students from Taft & Adams High and their schemes to get laid and catch a glimpse of campus virgin and tease Purity Bush (Linda Speciale) in all her naked glory. Plenty of classic scenes especially the guys cracking boners in the library and the game of strip bowling where a bowling ball gets lodged somewhere particularly unpleasant make Screwballs one of the more solid entries into the Canuxsploitation cannon. A show stopping striptease from Raven De La Croix and the over the top finale are the icing on the cake. Melvin Jerkovski (Jason Warren) an overweight chronic masturbator was my favourite character of the film. Melvin’s just a walking gross out from start to finish played with glee by Warren. I guess you’ve picked up on the pattern of the characters names being double entendres and there’s plenty of them going on in the background of shots too. Rafal Zielinki’s camera work is exceptional and the new transfer really does his intricately staged shots justice. Masterfully directed for such a low brow film Zielinki’s cinematography really takes the humour of the film to a whole new level.

I get a real kick out of these 80s comedy vehicles because they’re dumb as hell good fun and don’t fall into the repetitive territory of their modern counterparts such as American Pie and Road Trip. Seann William Scott has played the same character in countless films of this genre, the dude deserves a prize for being Mr Typecast. A lot of these modern outings end up turning into a romantic comedy. This was one of the complaints I had with Zack & Miri Make A Porno. If I wanted to watch a romantic comedy I’d pull one of the shelf, its almost like they’re trying to legitimize a standard tittie flick by sugar-coating it and making it into something its not. Just gimme my filth straight up without the side of “rom-com” thanks. Screwballs doesn’t hide what it is and it is all the better for it. The studios should raid the vaults and spend the money reissuing gems like this because the modern shit just doesn’t cut it for me.

Severin’s edition of Screwballs is top notch and boasts a great transfer especially compared to the previous R4 budget release that looked like it had been taken straight off a beat up tape. The washed out clips used during the interviews show how much work was put into restoring the print to its pristine vibrant glory contained on the disc. There wasn’t a hell of a lot to work with but the Severin people have come up trumps and put out the most definitive edition of this overlooked Canuxsploitation classic you’re likely to see. I’m hoping more of these films (Recruits in particular) will be resurrected from obscurity and given the same treatment. Switch off your brain for 79 minutes and kick back and laugh your ass off at the raunchy hijinks of the pupils of T&A high you’ll have a blast.

Extras:

  • Audio Commentary with director Rafal Zielinski
  • Cast and Crew Interviews
  • Mr Skin talks sex comedies of the 80s
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Theatrical Trailer

Available on DVD from Severin.

Cheap Thrills

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What would you do for money? How low would you go, if the price was right? That is the core premise of the deft indie flick Cheap Thrills, where the events all but beg the audience to consider what they would do in the same situation.

Craig (Pat Healy) is a loving husband and new Dad in financial strife. Battling with news that his young family will be evicted if he cannot find $4500 in back rent, he also gets sacked from his job. Seeking solace in a local bar, he first runs into Vince (Ethan Embry), an old friend from school. Then the pair meet an odd wealthy couple (David Koechner and Healy’s co-star from Innkeepers, Sara Paxton) who are throwing cash around like water.

For entertainment, the couple begin betting on everything and anything. These quickly escalate to dares and the cash-desperate Craig and Vince are more than happy to ride the gravy train. But as the rewards for the dares go up, so do the risks…

Cheap Thrills plays this simple structure superbly. The mystery of the next challenge – not to mention exactly what is going on – keeping ratcheting the tension up. Along the way, the relationship between Craig and Vince shifts around between friends to allies to competitors. While it may seem clear where the movie is heading, there are plenty of curve balls along the way.

Director E.L. Katz gets great performances out of all four of his leads. Koechner plays the obnoxious braggart part with ease as he has in the past in flicks like Thank You For Smoking and Paul, but also manages to inject an edge of danger and unpredictability. Every time he laughs to try and put everyone at ease, the insincerity is palpably malevolent.

Paxton plays her part aloof, bored, but with an enigmatic air. Is all of this being done for her benefit? She gives the sense of a deep current of darkness without having to overtly get all femme fatale on it.

But the heart of the movie is in Healy and Embry. Healy is fantastic as the everyman wildly out of his depth, torn, fractured and prone to lashing out. Embry manages to inject pathos into what could have been the comic relief loser character in lesser hands. It is their shifting relationship that is the backbone of the drama and is what elevates the story beyond its high-concept set-up.

There is a wide vein of black comedy through the film that also serves to keep it from getting too grim – although it certainly does get grim – as the challenges before the duo slide ever more into depravity. While this faintly cartoonish tone avoids the movie becoming too nihilistic, it is also somewhat distancing, keeping proceedings from being truly emotionally affecting.

A lean, wicked little thriller, Cheap Thrills is the kind of vicious outsider that independent cinema can produce and deserves to be championed. A black-hearted gem of a film.

Unfortunately, despite the fact the film has a rumoured budget of a mere $100,000, there is no ‘making of’ or ‘behind the scenes’ or even interviews or commentaries to talk about how the dollars were stretched so well. Just a bunch of trailers. Oh, well.

Director: E.L. Katz | Country: USA | Year: 2013 | Distributor: Madman| Running Time: 84 Minutes | Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 | Region: 4/PAL | Discs: 1

Deep Contact

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Set in the “futuristic” year of 1999, Deep Contact concerns the imminent destruction of earth and a group of sexual scientists’ attempts to save mankind from total annihilation.

Waturu is a nihilistic loner who, upon hearing of humankinds coming extinction, recklessly decides to ignore his huge debt owed to the Yakuza. While on the run from his suited loan sharks he is snatched off the street and taken to a bizarre hospital where all sorts of sexperiments are being performed. He soon learns he has what is known as Sexual Psychokinesis and his services are needed to help save the planet from an earthbound comet.

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Bordello of Blood

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Most fans of late 80s horror are familiar with the HBO anthology series Tales From the Crypt and its host the Cryptkeeper. The show was arguably one of the best of its kind and it enjoyed a successful run unlike its attempts to crossover to the big screen with Demon Knight and Bordello Of Blood.

I never really got why Demon Knight got so ragged on by critics, I thought it was a blast and one of the best horror films of the 90s. Totally killer soundtrack too that really made things blow up for the band Filter with the prominent use of their tune “Hey Man Nice Shot”. Demon Knight had a poor run at the box office and as I mentioned was totally savaged by the majority of critics so it’s kinda surprising Bordello Of Blood got the green light. I guess Scream made horror flicks a more viable commodity so Universal decided to take the plunge hoping it would pay off (it didn’t). Although Bordello Of Blood isn’t nearly as good as Demon Knight it’s still a great example of a flick not taking itself to seriously and being a totally entertaining piece of junk food for the brain.

Former Baywatch star Erika Eleniak is on the hunt for her missing rebellious brother Corey Feldman who has fell into the clutches of some bloodsuckers using a whorehouse as a lure for potential prey. Feldman really injects some laughs into the flick and plays the over the top part with glee. Dude’s no Edgar Frog in this one but it’s easily one of his better roles since his 80s heyday.

Those viewers expecting Eleniak to bare some flesh like in her role in Under Siege will be disappointed as she plays the role of a squeaky clean prudish Christian. Perhaps this was her downfall as I don’t remember her being in anything big budget after this outing. Eleniak’s character Katherine enlists in the help of a private eye Rafe Guttman (comedian Dennis Miller) to help her find her wayward brother. If you’re a fan of Denis Miller’s stand-up comedy this film is well worth your time as it’s filled with his trademark style of humour.

Bordello Of Blood sets its target on religion and is at the butt of most of it’ humour. Fright Night’s Chris Sarandon tears it up as a totally overblown psycho evangelist Rev Jimmy Current who has awoken the vampire queen Lilith (Angie Everhart) to rid the world of the sinners and lowlifes who frequent the brothel. Current is able to control Lilith because he is in possession of the vial of blood from Demon Knight but of course the good Reverend is tricked out of the vial and all hell breaks loose. It’s up to the trio to put an end to Lilith and the vampires and set things right.

Plenty of gore and tongue in cheek humour make this a great watch and essential viewing for those with a taste for the cheesier side of cinema.

The only extra is the theatrical trailer which most people will more than likely miss because they will switch off before the credits finish rolling. There’s no mention of it on the cover and once again this is another Umbrella release with no menu. These guys should seriously sort it out because the quality of their releases is slipping with the recent half assed repackages.

I have no idea why the iconic Tales from the Crypt logo has been replace with some shitty free Halloween fonts on the cover but it looks awful and tacky. Beyond Entertainment has definitely stolen Umbrella’s crown when it comes to local releases of cult flicks with their all round tidier releases with a cheap price tag (and wow they even treat you to a menu!). Your money will be better spent tracking down a copy of the R1 Tales from the Crypt double feature disc which has a better edition of the film plus its predecessor Demon Knight.

A fun film anyway that is perhaps more worthy of a rental than a purchase due to it being a disappointing shoddy release. Another disc from Umbrella that I’d advise holding off buying to it hits the clearance bin.

Available on R4 DVD from Umbrella Entertainment.

Evil Bong

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If you’re anything like me the sight of a chainsaw wielding Tommy Chong on the cover of a DVD about a killer bong just screams out WATCH ME! Shit sounds great right?

Evil Bong is Full Moon delving into the stoner/college kid comedy. It’s a film that doesn’t take itself too seriously just like the viewer shouldn’t.

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Isle of the Damned

IsleDamnedI’ve found the Horror/Comedy subgenre quite lacking over the past few years as most of the output has been cookie cutter Army of Darkness and Shaun of the Dead clones. In all honesty I wasn’t expecting much from Isle of the Damned, but another tired retread in the similar vein thankfully that wasn’t the case.

Isle of the Damned is a breath of fresh air to the subgenre and easily the best film of its type since Bad Taste and Body Melt. Mark Leake’s script is a well-crafted homage to the notorious Italian cannibal flicks of the early ‘80s that is a hilarious ride filled with twisted humour, splatter and un-PC imagery.

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An American Hippie in Israel [Blu-ray]

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Prior to this disc release, I had never heard of An American Hippie in Israel, but being something of a fan of counterculture cinema, I was curious to see what it was about this film that prompted Grindhouse Releasing to give it the deluxe treatment.

Written and directed by Amos Sefer (who doesn’t seem to have made another feature other than this), An American Hippie in Israel stars Asher Tzarfati as Mike, the titular hippie of the title, a Vietnam vet who lands at Tel Aviv airport (in bare feet and complete with requisite beard and furry vest) with no real plans other than to live “an absolute free life in an absolutely isolated place, away from this civilization and culture of violence- without clothes, without government and without orders.” Fortunately for him, he is picked-up hitchhiking by young theatrical actress Elizabeth (Lily Avidan), who becomes instantly infatuated with Mike and his hippie lifestyle, joining him in his quest for peace and freedom. After hooking up with another local hippie couple (played by Shmuel Wolf and Tzila Karney), they head for a small uninhabited island just off the coast, only to find that the nice ideals of the counterculture lifestyle do not necessarily hold-up to the harsh realities of life and the basic instinct to survive. Continue reading