Indie Director

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Oh if only one could review films on the basis of what the director INTENDED rather than what they delivered. It would make reviewing a lot easier and there would be more happy directors out there. Case in point is Indie Director, a film from the prolific Bill Zebub, creator of many shorts and videos including the luridly titled Antfarm Dickhole, Forgive me for Raping You, Zombiechrist, Frankenstein the Rapist and more. With that pedigree and his no-doubt great enthusiasm and tireless efforts I had high-hopes for this film. Continue reading

The Hostess Also Likes to Blow the Horn

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Do you remember the scene in the remake of Friday the 13th when Jason kills the girl by slamming a machete through her head from on top of the pier? Or what about the scene in Drag Me to Hell where the little boy is dragged through the floor down to the bowels of hell? You may be asking yourself “what do those scenes have to do with The Hostess Also Likes To Blow The Horn? Well, NOTHING really. It’s just my way of delaying the inevitable and having to THINK about this film again.

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The Coca Cola Kid

Coca_Cola_Kid_ReviewThe Coca-Cola Kid starts with a disclaimer that the film doesn’t represent nor has any affiliation with the REAL Coca-Cola Company. After sitting through it, I wonder if the actors say the same thing on their resumes?

Eric Roberts, who is part of the more-talented-but-less-famous-than-my-sibling crowd (see also Clint/Ron Howard and any Baldwin brother/Alec Baldwin) has certainly had a rollercoaster career. The 1980s proved a real highlight with Star 80, Pope of Greenwich Village and Runaway Train coming in fast succession, with Coca-Cola Kid sandwiched awkwardly between the latter two. It’s interesting to note that Roberts was in a serious car accident in the early ‘80s and remained comatose for several days. It’s not hard to imagine him signing the contract for this film around that time; blunt-force head trauma will do that (“I heard the words “coke” and “Australia”…I thought they were talking about a HOLIDAY when I signed!”).

Roberts plays Becker, a yankie marketing wiz and spin-doctor, flown out from the US to teach us backwater Aussie hicks about maximising the potential of Coca Cola and increasing sales. During an analysis of sales across Australia he discovers a virtual sales black-hole in the form of Anderson Valley, this part of the country has zero sales. Before you can unscrew a bottle of Pepsi, Becker and his secretary Terri (Greta “Nudity is in my contract” Scacci) are off to investigate. In a weird twist of fate Terri has links to Anderson Valley, the depth of which is revealed later in the film. Upon arriving in Anderson Valley they encounter T. George McDowall (Bill “Have beard will travel”) Kerr, the owner of the township and self-made fizzy-drink king.

That’s the basic storyline. It’s fundamentally your basic “fish out of water” tale with a corporate twist. Imagine Wake in Fright minus the suspense and you’d be on the right track.

Highlights of the film include Dean Semler’s typically lush cinematography and, no matter how clunky the vehicle may be, it’s always interesting to watch Roberts out-act everyone else on the screen. Disappointing elements include the anticipated tension between Becker and McDowall which doesn’t lead to much. Kiwi viewers will be surprised to see Tim Finn in a small role, proving that as an actor he’s a great musician.

Watching this film is like opening a bottle of coke on a hot, hot day and finding it’s flat. Pass the Pepsi.

Available on R0 DVD from Umbrella Entertainment.

Heckler

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Reviewing films, as much fun as it can be, is a duel-edged sword. On the one hand I can sit down and watch a film that people have worked months, if not YEARS on, and dismiss it with a single paragraph. One side of me feels genuinely guilty about this..the other side thinks “fuck you..that’s an hour and a half of my life I’m NEVER getting back..and YOU are responsible!!!”.

These thoughts came to me as I viewed Jamie Kennedy’s Heckler, a great documentary that examines the phenomenon of unwanted audience participation, the very personal attacks of reviewers, and how the internet has given voice to bloggers who would otherwise be sitting at home with their cats and wanking over the latest issue of Empire magazine.

Using extensive archival footage of actual heckling this compelling piece of work raises many a valid and interesting point, usually from the point of view of those on the receiving end, but in a nice twist Kennedy also confronts his harshest critics and asks them why they need to be so vitriolic and personal in their attacks. This part of the film is a revelation and you can’t help but feel slightly uncomfortable and embarrassed by the unreserved hostility and arrogance of the reviewers. Continue reading

Dead Sushi

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Keiko (Rina Takeda) is the daughter of a legendary sushi chef, but his disdain for women and her general ineptitude mean she cannot live up to his standards. Sick of his vicious and gruelling karate-style sushi training, she runs away and finds a job at a rural hot springs hotel renowned throughout Japan for its sushi. Unfortunately, she is an even worse maid than she was a sushi maker, and is relentlessly tormented by the other staff and the corporate employees who stay there for their company retreat. However, everything is turned upside down when a disgruntled former researcher for the company turns up with a serum he’s developed that resurrects dead flesh (in this case the sushi) as ravening monstrosities.

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Love Exposure

Love-Exposure

Wow. Some films try to cover a fair bit of ground. Love Exposure is more like some vast, country-spanning blanket. A four-hour movie both epic and perversely intimate, it takes on religion, sexual awakening, abuse, family, relationships…oh, and the art of kung fu upskirt photography.

The story follows Tokyo teenager Yu Honda (Takahiro Nishijima) through a period of self-discovery in his life. His mother dies, and his Catholic priest father falls for a morally-dubious woman. Left feeling abandoned, Yu decides to sin just to have an excuse to see his father in the confessional.

The sinning quickly escalates as Yu shows a remarkable aptitude for the art of taking clandestine photographs up the skirts of young women in public places – with the aid of cameras on elastic bands, cameras on remote control cars and acrobatics. This proves too much for his father, who casts him out just as Yu has a passing encounter with the girl of his dreams, abuse-survivor Yoko (Hikari Mitsushima). The problem? Yu met her while dressed in drag and now is forced to pretend to be a woman in order to be close to her.

Amazingly, that synopsis is only the tip of the iceberg. But rather than become a mess, this instead is a delirious ride that manages to blend introspection with giddy entertainment.

Director Sono Shion is best known for Suicide Club (2001), a satiric swipe at youth culture in Japan. With Love Exposure he takes on a larger palette of more universal themes. Yu is lost without his parents and seeks somewhere – anywhere – to belong. Yet all he really wants is the reunification of family. His father is torn between the lure of sex and the tenets of his religious devotion. Yoko is driven by hatred, yet desperate for love. Above them all is the temptation of a religious cult, of a place where they can give up responsibility or choice…but is it true happiness or just delusion?

There are a lot of elements to juggle in the 237 minutes of running time and for the most part, Sono Shion does a remarkable job by keeping the focus tight and following Yu through an often bizarre series of events. Perhaps things become a bit muddy in the final act and some of the thematic issues raised to not get wrapped up perfectly, but that is only a minor quibble against such an enjoyable film.

A rare beast that manages to be layered and thought-provoking, more than anything Love Exposure is just a damn lot of fun.

Available on R4 DVD from Madman.

 

Howard the Duck

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Steve Gerber was a comic genius – Man Thing was my favourite comic ever pretty much hands down yessiree no competition the bomb and all that jive. His other fuck up Howard The Duck– while not in the same league for me was up there too, hell I live by Howard’s call sign – “Trapped In A World He Never Made” – that there was my life as a teenager, it still is. But the movie of old Howy well that’s a completely different ball game. Sure its got Howard and even Beverly but they aint the same at all. Hell, Beverly was much hotter in the comic than Lea (Caroline In The City) Thompson could ever hope to be. Although Lea does scrub up all right in her scanties it must be said. Enough to give any Duck a woody. The big problem is Howard though – I just kept thinking of Hornswoggle in the WWE! This poor fucker is trapped in a ducksuit he never made… and they needed 8 ducks according to the credits to do it! What? couldn’t find one kid dumb enough to do the whole flick? I’m no fan of CGI technology but in this case I wish they had invented it sooner. Howard needed something to make his case more believable. But just to contradict myself, there’s a great old fashioned harryhausen stop motion monster at the end that had me cheering, so what the hell do I know anyway? I hate the kid in a duck suit but love the stop motion harryhausen… but its that kinda movie you know? Confusing, strange, full of holes, dumber than a reality show contestant but for some reason still fun. Continue reading

Portlandia [Season Three]

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Created by and starring Fred Armisen (of Saturday Night Live fame) and Carrie Brownstein (the guitarist for alt-rock band Sleater-Kinney), the third season  of Portlandia continues to take us on a satirical trip through Portland, Oregon and the alternative subcultures which it is home to. With 10 episodes (plus the winter special) spread over two discs, Brownstein and Armisen use the sketch comedy narrative format to simultaneously poke fun at and homage the left-of-field characters which can be found in their hometown, in turn offering sharp-witted satire on the politics and trends which are so much a part of these cultures. This is all filtered through a whimsical off-beat, oddball humour which hones in on everything from vegan restaurants (fart patio included) to feminist bookshops.

Season 3 features such storylines as a vegetarian couple who have to swear off pasta creating carb withdrawls, the Feminist Bookstore holding a comedy night, the Gutterpunks finding a missing cat and the the entire city of Portland having his its power cut, among other things. The episodes also feature a bunch cameos with everyone from Kurt Loder to Jack White, the former of which is involved in a notable storyline where he and a few other characters storm the MTV headquarters in order to take MTV back to what it was in the ’90s, which is sure to pull a few laughs and create some nostalgia for the grown-up Generation X-ers who the show is no doubt aimed at.

All this continual poking-fun-at the absurdities and peculiarities of hipster/liberal culture means the humour can be somewhat limited in its scope, especially for viewers who are not aware of or involved in the cultural scenes which the show draws upon for so much of its humour. Some of these in-jokes may be lost upon a few viewers then, however I suspect the creators never really intended to have a mass-appeal with the show and if anything it’s quite refreshing to see a comedy which narrows down it’s focus to a particular type of society rather than a lot of pandering to the lowest common denominator which too much mainstream humour goes for these days.

This DVD package also comes with bonus features such as deleted scenes and a tour of Portland with Kumail Nanijani which may appeal to the more fervent fans of Portlandia. Now expecting its run for a fifth season, Portlandia: Season Three is a must for anyone who considers themselves a fan of the show but also works for those who aren’t familiar with it, checking it out for the first time.

Portlandia [Season Three] is available on R1 DVD and Blu-Ray from VSC / MVD Visual.

Comedy Central Roast of Charlie Sheen

Charlie-Sheen”You can’t hurt me. Hell, even I can’t hurt me.” – Charlie Sheen.

Perhaps the biggest flaw of this Comedy Central Roast is that Charlie Sheen doesn’t react to any of the abuse hurled at him. He takes every insult with a big grin and there’s some pretty touchy subjects. A few of my favorite taunts were concerning his children: ”If you’re winning, this must not be a child custody hearing. The only time your kids get to see you is in reruns — don’t you want to live to see their first 12 steps?” – Jeffery Ross and ”It’s amazing — after abusing your lungs, liver and kidneys, the only thing you’ve had removed is your kids.” – Kate Walsh.

Seth MacFarlane, Jon Lovitz, Jeffrey Ross, Steve-O, Kate Walsh, Amy Schumer and Mike Tyson are some of the Roasters and Slash provides some riffs as Charlie makes his way to the stage. I think Mike Tyson was a stand out Roaster as well as Patrice Neal. Steve-O wasn’t all that funny and ends up resorting to Jackass antics by running face first into Tyson’s fist.

I can honestly say a joke has never offended me and I don’t think this joke went too far, I think it was just very mean spirited. Amy Schumer made a joke about Steve-O’s deceased friend Ryan Dunn and poor Steve-O looks incredibly sad. It just wasn’t done well enough to be funny. You would expect a joke like that and fair game, Roasts are no-holds barred events, she could have made it work a bit better. Patrice Neal also gets worked up over some jokes targeted at him that he deems racist, but… yes “but” they were pretty funny and so over-the-top I have no idea how he could take them so seriously.

My favourite insult had to be from Amy Schumer: “You’re just like Bruce Willis — you were big in the 80s and now your old slot is being filled by Ashton Kutcher.”

It’s not the best roast I’ve seen, I think that honor goes to William Shatner and Flavor Flav but its still worth checking out if you are a fan of Sheen and/or Comedy Central Roasts.

Available on R4 DVD.

 

Comedy Central Roasts Collection

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Comedy Central Roasts is a triple DVD pack featuring the Roasts of William Shatner, Denis Leary and Flavor Flav. I’ll put it bluntly – Roasts are not for those who find racial, homosexual and gender stereotypes and insults unfunny. The content contained on these three discs is offensive and at times absolutely disgusting but is never mean spirited. If you love taboo humour or are a fan of any of the three men featured in the set then read on.

ROAST OF WILLIAM SHATNER (80 mins)

I’ve never seen Star Trek and don’t really know much about the man, but when it comes to Roasts not knowing much about the person doesn’t really matter. Sure you don’t get the odd joke but people tend to rip on appearance and scandals. Everything from Shatner’s bad career choices, hair and weight were targets. Jeffery Ross and Betty White were on fire throwing some really great insults, not only at Shatner but at the other folk on the dais. An extremely wicked and thoroughly enjoyable Roast. Extras: Red Carpet Interviews (8 mins), Behind the Scenes(4 mins), Making of the Roast (2mins)

ROAST OF FLAVOR FLAV (73 mins) Continue reading