Tuesday, June 30, 2009

DVD Picks of the Week: June 30th, 2009

The last day of June is here and with it comes a fresh slate of new DVDs and Blu-rays. It seems as though the summer months dwindle by I write less and less and blog less and less. There's something about the hot weather and sticky humidity that drives passion from me. Oh yeah, and that whole tornado rips through your small town in Connecticut thing.

Eastbound & Down: The Complete First Season [DVD]

One of the funniest shows to date is this fictional chronicle of former baseball star Kenny Powers (Danny McBride, an actor who has previously held mostly bit comedic roles). Powers, who started strong with the catch phrase "You're fucking out!" but fizzled quick, resorts to heading back to his old stomping grounds and the people he knows to help him get his big league feet back on the ground. The humor in this show probably isn't for everyone. It's vulgar, rude, crass and just plain odd For example, one of my favorite lines from the show: "Gold will get you Jonas Brothers tickets, Platinum will get you all three of them backstage sucking your dick". See what I mean? Jody Hill, one of the shows main creators, has stepped foot into the comedic realm before with much success. Hill's first film was The Foot Fist Way, in which McBride plays a martial arts instructor similar to Kenny Powers. Hill also wrote and directed the recent Seth Rogen led film Observe and Report, which received mixed results from critics but is still a personal favorite of mine in 2009. Eastbound & Down was an instant hit in my mind and has been picked up for a second season. The first season was only six episodes long, but watching them sequentially almost makes it seem like a long film or a miniseries. I can only hope the next installment of Kenny Powers and his antics live up to the debut season.

Trailer Park Boys: The Complete Series [DVD]

Continuing the trend of funny as fuck television shows, a new complete collection of the series is available on Amazon. I haven't been able to find much information on this set, so I can only assume it is simply a repackaging of all seven seasons of the show (and possibly also the film). Trailer Park Boys focuses on three friends, Ricky, Julian and Bubbles, and their time together in the Sunnyvale Trailer Park. The series, which is out of Canada, has flown under the mainstream radar but has found a strong cult following. It's a brilliant show from season to season and features some of the most wonderful character to character contact. Most of the series is entirely memorable, with raging feuds and ridiculous scenarios and outcomes being a mainstay of the show. The acting won't win any awards, but it somehow manages to feel all too authentic as the show is shot in a mockumentary style, much like The Office. It would be in your best interest to get into this show, as it's one of the bright spots in recent television history.

Do The Right Thing: 20th Anniversary [DVD][Blu-ray]

Rarely do you ever see another studio company outdo the Criterion Collection in terms of a DVD release. Is Do The Right Thing one of those times? Well, I don't know. DVDTalk's review of the DVD brings up an interesting discussion in the color timing. Read the review here. You'll get more detail than I'll ever want to give you. It seems like the new release expands on the special features. The rest might be a matter of opinion.

Tokyo! [DVD][Blu-ray]

I haven't seen Tokyo! yet, but what a troupe of directors assembled here. Michael Gondry (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, La science des rêves), Joon-ho Bong (Gwoemul) and Leos Carax (Les amants du Pont-Neuf) each direct a 30 minute segment set in Tokyo. Each appears to be visionary directing at the top of its game. An appealing film, I just need to find time to watch it.

Barfly [DVD]

Said to be one of Mickey Rourke's most passionate and gritty performance, Barfly is described as "a dark tale of drunkenness, violence and self loathing" that fit Rourke's persona. I've got to say this film looks really good, and I can't say much more than that on the situation.

What else comes out this week:
British Cinema: Renown Pictures Crime & Noir Blackout, Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li [Blu-ray]/[DVD], Ted Nugent: Motor City Mayhem [Blu-ray]/[DVD], Two Lovers [Blu-ray]/[DVD], Lookin' to Get Out (Extended Version), Serious Charge: Renown Picture Classics, Women In Prison Triple Feature, The Education of Charlie Banks, Violence and Flesh, Entourage: The Complete Fifth Season, Stargate Atlantis: The Complete Fifth Season, Eureka: Season 3.0.

What to stay away from:
In a week where a few crappy films and a Jonas Brothers are up for competition, it was a tough choice. But when in doubt, give it to the film starring John Cena. 12 Rounds, you lose.

And holy shit that was a lot of lightning and loud thunder. See ya next week, unless another twister rips us apart.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

DVD Picks of the Week: June 23rd, 2009

I'm pretty excited tonight. Tomorrow I begin my summer job. The same summer job I've had the last four summers. Now, I'll actually have some money pouring in to my bank account that I can spend on DVDs. Let's take a look at what today has to offer.

Waltz With Bashir [DVD][Blu-ray]

Waltz With Bashir is by far the best release on my personal list this week. It was undeniably one of the most fascinating and ambitious films of 2008, a sheer mind-blower full of style and meaning. It is many things construed in to one. Documentary, fiction, history and most importantly, animation. Waltz With Bashir is carried by a strong story from a strong storyteller and an even stronger art style. The choice to animate the film lets filmmaker Ari Folman look back on his time spent in the Israeli army during the year 1982 in a no holds barred, nonrestrictive fashion. Haunting imagery is surrounded by a stunning score as Folman brings the horror of war right to your eyes by way of his unique directorial choices. This is a must see film for fans of documentary, animation and history alike. I've already got my copy enroute from Columbia House.

Last Year at Marienbad [Criterion DVD][Criterion Blu-ray]

When I took history of film at CCSU a few semester ago, most of the films shown to my class were films I were either already familiar with, or had some notion as to what they were. One film that was strange and unknown to me was Alain Resnais' Last Year at Marienbad. The film is considered to be one of the more important of its kind in the film. My knowledge of Resnais and this film isn't too deep, so forgive me. What I saw in class was a stunningly strange film, exactly like a surreal dream. It sure did get my tongue wet for more. Luckily, Criterion has finally brought this film to us in America in great form. On both standard and Blu-ray formats, Last Year at Marienbad is now here for everyone to experience. From all I've read and all I've seen this is one essential title to view and own.

Hobgoblins [DVD]

I'm going to be straightforward here. This is a pretty terrible film. When you're movie is best known for being featured on one of the greatest episodes of Mystery Science Theater 3000, you know you've done wrong (or maybe right, in some sick twisted way). I mean who could forget the garden tool fight scene!? Hobgoblins was a terrible film directed by a horrible man named Rick Sloane (he went on to make six (!!!) films in the Vice Academy series), but the guys at MST3K were able to make the best out of it (the entire episode is watchable here). I can't get over the fact that a special edition of this film has been released. And why now? It's not like they could be marketing a 2009 sequel to this piece of shit, right? Oh...wait...

Hobgoblins 2 [DVD]

That's right folks, it's true, there is indeed a 2009 sequel! What in their right mind would make them think there's a market for this? I guess the original film has fallen into a sort of deep cult status thanks to the riffing it received. Even so, the original film is painful to watch on its own, and I'm only guessing the sequel is similar. Whatever, we'll see. Maybe the guys at Rifftrax will pick up doing a Hobgoblins 2 riff just for old times sake. One can only hope so. If you don't feel like watching the entire MST3K episode of the original Hobgoblins, check out this video below that features some of the episodes best moments.

My Dinner with Andre [Criterion DVD]

I kind of had to look hard through the piles of crap coming out this week to find something strong enough to get all of our minds off the two Hobgoblins films, and I think I might have done it. Of course, it is a Criterion release, no real surprise there. The other film they're releasing this week is Louis Malle's My Dinner with Andre. Like Resnais, I am sort of embarrassed to say that Malle is another director I really haven't gotten the chance to explore thoroughly. I've got Elevator to the Gallows on the absolute top of my Netflix queue, so that is most certainly a start. I don't know much about this film, but it sounds fascinating. After reading Criterion's description of the film (Actor and playwright Wallace Shawn sits down with friend and theater director André Gregory at an Upper West Side restaurant, and the two proceed into an alternately whimsical and despairing confessional on love, death, money, and all the superstition in between) I can safely say this seems like a hell of a stimulator.

In what was a really weak day for releases, let's just get to the rest of the stuff.

What else comes out this week:
Confessions of a Shopaholic/[Blu-ray], Reba: Season 6, Inkheart/[Blu-ray], Pink Panther 2/[Blu-ray], The Girls Next Door: Season 5, The Code/[Blu-ray], Tom and Jerry: The Chuck Jones Collection, Catlow, Dragon Hunters/[Blu-ray], The Pianist [Blu-ray].

What to stay away from: Most likely Pink Panther 2. Heard it was terrible. Unnecessary sequel to an unnecessary remake.

Short but sweet week, really. There were some great titles to hit shelves today. And then Hobgoblins.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Two Kinds of Monsters Hide in this Closet

Monsters have always belonged in two places in children folklore. Under the bed or in the closet. To try and count the number of films or television shows that have used this myth as a sort of plot device or simple reference would have you trying to find extra hands to count on.

This is why I thought Monster in the Closet would be a perfect, tongue-in-cheek B-movie. Seriously? A near indestructible, closet-living monster that attack its victim inside said closet? What could be better? Try what could possibly be the deepest film of its kind, ever.

What I'm about to discuss contains a good amount of spoilers for the film. In addition, nothing of what I say is fact or a claim of writer/director Bob Dahlin's intent or personal beliefs, but only my sneaky suspicions of what could possibly be the strangest underlying theme I've ever come across in a B-movie.

While watching Monster in the Closet it becomes evident that the film is a huge spoof of many different genres. It takes aim at journalism-based films, war films, science fiction films and most obviously the horror/monster film. The film does so by utilizing the genres most archetype characters. Included here are the smug journalist, the scientist that is a bit off his rocker, the demanding and frustrated army general and the all-knowing preacher, among others.

The film's main character is Richard Clark, a journalist at The Daily Globe in San Francisco who can't get the right gig. In a plea to his editor-in-chief, he ends up with what he thinks to be a hot story, thanks to the fake graciousness of hotshot journalist Scoop. Clark is sent to a small town to cover weeks old murders that left the victims with small puncture holes.

While investigating the cases, Clark runs into a cast of characters. These include Professor Diane Bennett, her son 'Professor' Bennett, Sheriff Sam Ketchem, Father Finnegan and Dr. Pennyworth (a man who looks suspiciously similar to Einstein). Along with the help of each of these individuals, Clark uncovers the actual existence of the monster committing the terrible string of murders.

Now I know I've been withholding to you so far, leaving my incredibly spectacular theory out of the equation, but be patient, it's coming. Periodically throughout the film, Clark takes his glasses off and Diane Bennett, an equally attractive face hidden under a pair of large glasses, stops whatever she is doing and falls into a deep trance. This happens so often in the film that I started to think that it was more than just Dahlin's way of showing growing and playful lust between the two characters. I immediately shouted to my friend that Clark's looks was going to be what stopped the monster. Amid all the gunfire, grenades and tanks provided by the army, could the removal of Clark's glasses really be the key?

At first I didn't think anything of it. I just thought that it could be a possible and certainly silly ending to a silly film. And then it happened. After all attempts to slow the monster fail, Clark's glasses fall off his face and the monster, much like Diane, stops and stares. It proceeds to pick Clark up, carry him all the way back to San Francisco in search of a closet not yet destroyed by the citizens of all nearby towns and cities. The monster inevitably dies due to some sort of exhaustion, possibly weak because it can't find a closet to regain its energy in.

Now here's the kicker. I started to put two and two together. Remember the title of this film for one second. Monster in the Closet. Other than monsters, what are some other things that live in closets in America? Oh right, homosexuals that are too afraid to admit their lifestyle among the lifeless and idiotic bigots of the world. What are these homosexuals considered to be by some far too intense members of the Catholic churches? Monsters.

This isn't even where it stops. The film takes place in San Francisco (and nearby locations) of all places. What can even further reaffirm my thoughts are some of the lines of dialogue spoken by Father Finnegan and Dr. Pennyworth. Father Finnegan constantly talks about these monsters as being strange creatures from strange worlds, a certainly suitable way for a bible preacher to think about a homosexual in a satirical film. Dr. Pennyworth constantly reaches out to the monster, wanting to help him, much like a man of science might.

Now, the deal breaker for me would be if the monster turned out to be a female. They never specify gender of the monster in the film, but all preconceived notions lead to you thinking that the monster is male. Nothing sexist here ladies, it's just how films have always worked. Plus, the actor that played the monster was male, and that's good enough information for me to make a judgment.

This destroy everything monster that has been living in a closet ever since its arrival on the planet showed no weakness or signs of slowing down until it met face to face with a handsome and stud of a man, sans dorky glasses. From there it turns loving and sensitive, attempting to bring Clark back to a closet.

Now I'm not saying I'm right and I'm not saying this is some sort of deep message that I found because I'm a clever or smart person. I'm just having a bit of fun here from my first received instinct from the results of the film. I'm also not saying Dahlin hates gay people or their whole entire culture. I might be looking a little too deep into the whole thing. For me, everything adds up too nicely for it to be a complete coincidence. If Dahlin wanted to send a subtle and satirical message about the rejection of homosexuality in America he succeeded with at least one person.

If you've read this entire post, I applaud you. If you still want to see the film, I implore that you do. It's a fun film with bit roles from actors such as John Carradine (father to the late David Carradine). Fast and the Furious fans can also get a glimpse of a very young Paul Walker in one of his initial roles as 'Professor' Bennett, Diane's son. Hell, even Fergie has a small part. In fact, I would love for you to all watch this film and let me know what you think of my theory. Bogus? True? Coincidence? Whatever it is, let me know.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Do I owe Roland Emmerich an apology?

To be frank, I got tired of the disaster genre and directors like Roland Emmerich who seem to get their kicks by destroying shit for the sake of destroying it (erm, oh right, I mean to show how civilization deals with disasters. That's right) along time ago.

When the first teaser trailer for Emmerich's (the man behind Independence Day and The Day After Tomorrow) latest end of the world film 2012 debuted I couldn't help but put my face into my palms and start sighing. One reason was because it was a film about the too much talked about end of the world in 2012. The second was because of how tiring, lame and quite frankly stupid the whole concept seemed.

Well now, the first full length trailer (to my knowledge) has debuted and I've gotta say things look mighty interesting. The effects look spectacular and at times the photography is frightening. I'm sure this film will end up being stupid, hokey and have a good amount of cheesy dialogue, but I'd be surprised if it isn't one of the more fun films of this winter.

2012 hits theaters November 13th and stars John Cusack, Thandie Newton, Woody Harrelson, Amanda Peet and Danny Glover. View the trailer below or click this link to be taken to Yahoo's page to download the HD version.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

DVD Picks of the Week: June 16th, 2009

If you've never seen The Seventh Seal before, today might be the perfect day to get your first glimpse at the masterpiece. The Seventh Seal is my favorite film of all time. I've given 15 minute presentations on it and written 10 page final papers on it for good reason. Today is the day that the film's DVD reissue hits shelves and it's given its first region one Blu-ray treatment, all courtesy of the Criterion Collection. But don't worry, that isn't all that's getting released today, June 16th.

The Seventh Seal [Criterion DVD][Criterion Blu-ray]

It was obvious that I was going to start my entry this week with The Seventh Seal. This is the Ingmar Bergman film that built up all the passion I have for Bergman and all cinema like it. The beautiful yet tragic and haunting film from the Swedish director is his breakthrough masterpiece. The film tells the journey home of knight Antonius Block (Max von Sydow in one of his greatest performances), as he treks through a medieval land ravaged by plague. Block plays a game of chess with Death, a symbol of the way man faces death. All the while Block roams the lands, searching for answers to existential questions, such as if God really exists. The mostly bleak and sometimes comedic film is soaked with meaning in every line of dialogue, every character and every shot of the camera. With so much to take in, the film is worthy of multiple viewings, a typical quality of a masterpiece. For those that already own the film on DVD, an upgrade to the reissued version or the brand spanking new Blu-ray is most definitely worth it. The 2-disc collections contain a good amount of extras, highlighted by Bergman Island, an 83-minute documentary on Bergman by Marie Nyreröd, featuring in-depth and revealing interviews with the director. This alone gets my mouth wet. I've decided that I will wait to buy this film again when I get a PS3 and HDTV, so I can take advantage of the gorgeous looking new transfer. Those of you that have never seen this film, you are lucky to have such a pristine and high quality release available to introduce you to the mind of Ingmar Bergman.

Ghostbusters [Blu-ray]

To coincide with the release of the new Ghostbusters videogame, Sony has released the original film on Blu-ray. This turned out to be one of the most successful films of its kind after it was released in 1984 and its release on the Blu-ray format seems long overdue. I myself am not exactly itching to get at this great film, but I know others that are, so I take that into high account. Perfect timing for Sony.

Friday the 13th [Extended DVD][Extended Blu-ray]

Another notable film released today is the reimagining of the first few films of the Friday the 13th series. This was a title I didn't really care too much about after initially seeing it. I don't know how much the "extended" cut can improve on things, but I'm doubtful. This wasn't a bad film, just nothing that stands out in my mind. I'm not going to sit here and say it was stupid or dumb, it is a slasher film after all. The problem I have with it now is the same as what I touched on in my review I wrote of the film back in February. This film offers nothing new, nothing special, nothing memorable. I didn't even have a bad time watching it. From a standpoint of looking at Hollywood and the horror genre, this film is just another example of the problems we're experiencing. Remakes, reboots, ripoffs. It's the name of the game. If only more films like Sam Raimi's Drag Me to Hell could come about. I guess that's unlikely. Still, most people should get a kick out of this film. It's a solid way to spend an hour and a half if slasher flicks are your thing.

Friday the 13th
[Part 2 Blu-ray][Part 3 Blu-ray 3D]
[Final Chapter DVD][Part V DVD][Part VI DVD]

On the same day as the 2009 version of Friday the 13th is released, so are five of the historic series titles. Part two and three (with 3D) get the Blu-ray treatment the original classic got awhile back, and Part five, six and the final chapter (aka part four; not actually the final chapter) get deluxe edition DVD reissues like parts one, two and three got awhile back. I only own the first release of the first film, but would love to own them all some day. I just hope that if and when they release deluxe editions of the rest of the titles, they put them into a new and somewhat affordable box set for us collectors to buy. Until then, all this new Jason Voorhees content should keep all slasher fans busy.

Dr. Strangelove or: How I learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb [Blu-ray]

One of the funniest films ever made is also one of Stanley Kubrick's greatest films. Films such as A Clockwork Orange, 2001: A Space Odyssey and The Shining are the first few films always mentioned when Kubrick's name arises. I'm of the belief, like a lot of other people, that this film should join it. I was sort of young when I first saw this film, somewhere around 17. Okay, that was four years ago, deal with it. I've done a lot of growing up since then. I loved the film, laughed a lot, but didn't understand some of the more political/war satire. Now when I watch the film over and over again, I do. Amazing what a little bit of knowledge will do. Peter Sellers gives one of his greatest performances and with other actors like George C. Scott and film noir favorite Sterling Hayden, you can't go wrong.

The Strange One [DVD]

Now it's time for my at least once a week DVD pick of a film I have yet to see, but have had my eyes opened to thanks to the glorious function of the DVD. This week is The Strange One, a film directed by Jack Garfein and starring Ben Gazzara. The release of this film caught my attention after reading Jamie S. Rich's fabulous review of the DVD on DVDTalk.com. The film seems compelling, as it tells about a sadomasochistic bully (Gazzara) in a Southern military academy who manipulates those around him. The film also features a cast drawn from The Actor's Studio in New York, which is a neat note itself. I immediately bumped this into my Netflix queue, and I think you should do the same.

[Shorts 1][Shorts 2][Plan 9 From Outer Space]
[Night of the Living Dead][Swing Parade]
[House on Haunted Hill][Missile to the Moon][Reefer Madness]
[Little Shop of Horrors][Carnival of Souls]

That's a lot of Rifftrax. The guys who made making fun of terrible films popular with Mystery Science Theater 3000 has reformed in many different ways over the years. Film Crew was a more short lived one of those formations, where the guys strayed from commentary on just terrible horror/sci-fi/fantasy films to terrible dramas, such as Hollywood After Dark. Rifftrax is Mike Nelson, Kevin Murphy and Bill Corbett. It began as an online only, pay for a download file sold sepperately from the films themselves adventure, and has apparently morphed into actual DVD releases of a few of the public domain titles they've riffed on. The team has done everything from the new Transformers film to classics like Casablanca, a definite change of pace for fans of the classics. I haven't seen any of these newly released to DVD titles so I can't tell you if they are funny or not. What I can tell you is Night of the Living Dead and Carnival of Souls are two of the greatest horror films ever made, so I wouldn't view them for the first time with the riffing turned on. But seriously, who hasn't seen the original Night of the Living Dead? Of note, Deepdiscount.com offers all 10 titles for $47.

What else comes out this week: Burn Notice: Season Two/[Blu-ray], Family Guy, Vol. 7, The Three Stooges Collection, Vol. 6, Everwood: Second Season, Transformers: First Season (25th Aniv.), John Adams [Blu-ray], Spaceballs [Blu-ray], Generation Kill [Blu-ray], Rolling Stones: The Biggest Bang [Blu-ray], Kickboxer [Blu-ray], Miracle [Blu-ray], The Greatest Game Ever Played [Blu-ray], The Diary of Anne Frank [Blu-ray], Fracture [Blu-ray].

What to stay away from: This week's loser is Tyler Perry's Madea Goes to Jail. Just stop Tyler, please.

I'm going to leave you with one afterthought today. Just looking at today's list makes me realize that Blu-ray is really catching on. With HDTV's becoming more and more affordable, PS3's being an ultimate option as a Blu-ray player and the prices of the actual discs coming down ever so slowly thanks to sales that occur often, it seems like this format might stick around for awhile. Solid but not exactly smash hit films such as Fracture are seeing their way to the format. I don't think DVD will die anytime soon, though, so don't be afraid to keep purchasing them. They still look great upscaled. Anyways, see ya.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Wise Blood: The Strange Odyssey of An Unknown Religion

Wise Blood (1979)
Directed by John Huston.
With Brad Dourif, John Huston,
Harry Dean Stanton, Amy Wright,
Ned Beatty, Dan Shor.

Now I've never read Flannery O'Connor's novel that this John Huston directed film is based on, but I'm not sure if her vision matched the rather unique one of Huston's.

Wise Blood
is a film is about Hazel Motes (Dourif), an ambitious, young and uneducated southerner who has just returned from the war. Motivated to make a change and become something important, Motes leaves his farmland for the closest city. Motes, who despises preachers although gets compared to one often due to his blue suit and black hat, decides to become one himself as he creates the "Church Without Christ".

The journey of Motes is a very strange one. At times an almost surreal feeling is evoked as Motes wanders throughout this unrecognizable and mysterious city of Taulkinham. The city itself works as a representation of a place devoid of faith and culture. The city children worship a large man in a gorilla costume more than it does any religious figure. To some anti-religion people, you know, the ones who believe it to be a sham all throughout, the audacity of worshiping either of those might be on the same level, but the point is painted clear as day to me. Perhaps similarities can be made to our own modern world, where celebrities, rock stars and athletes are the most celebrated people on the planet.

What draws me to Wise Blood is not only the odd presentation of social commentary and religious satire in the form of a strange black comedy, but the actors that give each character a face and personality to a name. A young-faced Brad Dourif is the biggest thing going with a nearly unsettling performance of the lost and misguided Motes. Harry Dean Stanton plays Asa Hawks, a blind preacher who takes Motes under his wing at the request of his supposedly pure daughter Sabbath Lily (Amy Wright). Neither are as they appear to be, as Hawks ability to see is bright as day and Lily's sex drive kicks in full force the moment she sees Motes.

These two characters, joined by Motes and the maniacal Enoch Emory (Dan Shor) are all so very representative of ideals and concepts and is a true credit to the writing of O'Connor. Hawks and Lily are the superficial facade of religion, Motes is the wandering, belligerent youth fighting back at Jesus Christ like so many youths do. Emory, the 18-year-old boy Motes meets in his first week in the city, isn't exactly 100% right in his head, and immature for his age. He comes off as very easy to mold and influence, a naive and more innocent version of Motes in a way.

Wise Blood is such a strong film for all this and more. The slightly deep characterization is the hooking point in partnership with the simply strange events of the film, such as every single scene involving the shrunken mummy stolen from the museum that Emory, who thinks he has the wisest blood out of everyone, proclaims to be the new Jesus, to the scenes between an overweight prostitute and Motes, to the rather shocking and disturbing and once again strange ending sequences.

There's a feeling hard to shake from Wise Blood, but it's a good one. A good one that you probably don't want to live through yourself for how strange, odd and lost it all is. This is a thoughtful film, very rich and unique in all aspects, and a true unheralded John Huston cult classic, and a film with absolutely no counterparts to my general knowledge.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Phish: The First Week...And Then Some

I haven't been a Phish fan for very long. In fact, the first time I gave them a listen it didn't stick with me at all. Then came their three night reunion back in March of 2009 at Hampton. The excitement of the band returning coupled with their amazing live renditions of classic Phish tunes was enough to get me hooked.

And now, about three months later, the jam band is at it again, absolutely possessing my musical soul since the group opened its first leg of the hugely anticipated summer tour at Fenway Park in Boston, MA on May 31. After tonight's scorching set in Asheville, NC, the band has played seven shows of new and old material for its dedicated fans, not including the three original shows back in March.

Fans who might be among the most devout in the business today. They love the music, they love the experience, they love the band and I can see why. Phish caters to its fans. One particular way is changing the landscape of show trading Phish fans have become known for. See, back in the days before internet, Phish fans would send tapes of shows to one another in exchange for a show they did not have yet. Obviously, the internet has changed everything, and for Phish it's no exception.

Live Phish, the official MP3/FLAC downloaded site of Phish, provides the shows for $9.99 each for MP3 and $12.95 each for the higher quality (to some ears) FLAC files. Of course, it's no secret that these become available for free around the net shortly after they are officially uploaded by the tech guys.

What's mindblowing is just how quickly the shows hit the internet. In the increasingly impatient country we live in, it should be no surprise to find out that the Phish shows from this current tour typically hit the internet later that night -- usually just a few hours later. Impressive if you ask me, and a motion that shows dedication to the band's fans. The quality of the audio files are crisp and clear, real choice stuff.

As far as the first run of shows goes, I've been impressed. Now, I say this from the perspective of a brand new fan who personally is hooked on every single live track I can get my internet hands on. On the popular Phish message board site, Phantasy Tour, I've read posts by some fans claiming "worst setlist ever!" and other such malarkey. Whether this is a cranky veteran or a two-bit troll, I'll never know.

But for all the negative vibes there have been more positive ones. I don't know about you, but if the band I loved for years returned to the live and studio scene, I'd be grateful for whatever show I could get. Not that a half-assed attempt would cut it, but that certainly isn't something Phish is guilty of thus far.

The band hits Connecticut in August, making a stop at the Meadows -- erm, the "Comcast Theater" I think it is now. Or did it change sponsors again? Regardless, Phish will be there, and I hopefully will be taking in my first show as a Phish fan. All those interested in expanding their musical ventures are welcome to join me.

Below you can check out one of the brand new songs Phish has been playing, "Stealing Time From the Faulty Plan":

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

DVD Picks of the Week: June 9th, 2009

I'm going to try real hard to not look past this week to next week, where Criterion will finally release The Seventh Seal, my favorite film of all time, on to the Blu-ray format. Accompanying it will be a brand new and remastered standard definition release.

With that said, this week contains a few hits among some misses, which is typical of most weeks. Before I start to think too much about the wonderful thought of seeing Max von Sydow trotting along the Swedish country amid a plague, let's get to this week.

Gran Torino [DVD][Blu-ray]

One of the more enjoyable films of 2008 was what is supposedly Clint Eastwood's last performance as an actor. Gran Torino is the culmination of a career best recognized and remembered for the undeniably badass, headstrong and witty characters Eastwood portrayed such as Dirty Harry and Blondie in Serigo Leone's spaghetti westerns. This film is essentially Detective Harry Callahan even more grown up and retired, sitting on his porch with that intimidating scowl. Gran Torino isn't the perfect or masterpiece film some might take it to be, but it is certainly a great send off for the legendary artist who will continue to inspire from behind the lens. Oh, and to anyone who didn't like Clint's singing at the end of the film, lighten up just a bit.

Woodstock: 3 Days of Peace & Music

With the 40th anniversary of the original Woodstock on hand, a plethora of material is being released to capitalize on the legendary event. Last week I made note of a release very similar in style and taste, the Last Days of the Fillmore DVD. Much like that release, this exhaustive and large collection contains the four hour director's cut of the original documentary film about Woodstock, among with great extras like expanded concert footage from the likes of Santana, The Who, The Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane and more. For collectors and big spenders, the ultimate collector's edition contains a whole bunch of retro goodies including a 60+ page Life magazine reprint, a Woodstock patch, a lucite lenticular display featuring 3 vintage festival photos and more. This seems like the ultimate collection for all fans, young and old, of this era that is sadly long gone.

The International [DVD][Blu-ray]

The International reminds me so much of last week's release of Defiance. Just like Defiance, The International is a film I saw trailers for almost every time I went to see a new film in the theater. By the time the film actually came out, I was terribly sick of it! Also like Defiance, this Clive Owen led film seems to be a decent watch, but nothing out of the ordinary. It appears to be a rather out of the mold action thriller combination at first glance. Of course, the film does have good bloodlines. Tom Tykwer, the film's director, was the man behind the exploratory and experimental film Run Lola Run. I think I'll watch this one sooner than later.

The Jack Lemmon Film Collection [DVD Box Set]

Jack Lemmon is one of the most terrific comedic actors in American history. I became a fan of his with what is perhaps his most popular film, the Billy Wilder classic Some Like it Hot (and then later with Glengarry Glen Ross, whose cast serves up one of the best ensemble performances of that decade). Some Like it Hot is one of the funniest films of all time, with a sense of humor somehow lost upon Americans. Not that I have anything against dirty, violent or toilet humor, but there truly is an art to the eloquent and witty comedic performances of actors like Lemmon. This set contains five films I myself haven't seen, but it seems to be a good entry set to expanding one's knowledge of Lemmon. Those looking to be introduced to Lemmon for the first time might want to start the way I did, because it sure made me recognize the talent bestowed upon Mr. Lemmon.

Predator 2 [Blu-ray]

It's Predator 2. On Blu-ray. What more should I say?

Z Rock - Season 1 [DVD]

Z Rock is a show that found its home on the Independent Film Network (IFC). I've only actually seen one episode of this show, and it was absolutely hilarious. I'd always been meaning to watch the rest of the show, but never got around to it. Perhaps I finally will. It sure seems to be worth watching. One of the hidden gems in an overcrowded generation of television.

What else comes out this week: The Shield: Season Seven, Iron Maiden: Flight 666, Crossing Over, Fired Up (Unrated)/[Blu-ray], Survivorman: Season Three, The Cleaner: First Season, Fatal Attraction [Blu-ray], Nobel Son, Zane Grey Theatre Complete Season One, The Siege [Blu-ray], Time Warp: Season One [Blu-ray]/[DVD], Indecent Proposal [Blu-ray].

What to stay away from: With so much absolute SHIT to stay away from, I don't know how I could only pick just one. Actual, when I saw this listing, I didn't have much trouble choosing. I'm sure you'll understand yourselves. Steer clear of the Judge Judy - 2 Pack. My eyes opened into a gaze when I saw that this was an actual product and not some sick joke made by Amazon. Courtroom television dramas are the absolute bottom of the barrel of television programming. The genre is certainly a pioneer of the reality television genre, and that along is a large enough strike against the whole thing. But secondly, it seems to just be a platform to expose and exploit people who are in situations less greater than our own. If the validity of the "trials" is as true as they want us to believe they are, the whole thing is more than sad. I do hope that if this is indeed a guilty pleasure of any of yours, you ask yourself why exactly you enjoy watching an overbearing "judge" shout over less fortunate people.

Ah well, that puts to end today's significant releases. Not that much to choose from, so maybe you should just save your precious money for The Seventh Seal's reissue and Blu-ray debut next week. Tune back in next Tuesday where you'll be treated to a post too long enough even for my own good to celebrate the release of one of the greatest films ever made!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Drag Me to Horror Heaven

There is no time to be fancy with this one. Sam Raimi has made his return to the horror genre in the grandest way. Drag Me to Hell is the type of film that allows this master of horror to keep the title he earned so long ago.

Raimi made a name for himself with his Evil Dead trilogy, the same trilogy that pushed Bruce Campbell to the forefront of the cult film circuit. Raimi wrote the script for Drag Me to Hell with his brother Ivan shortly after finishing the third film the acclaimed trilogy, Army of Darkness. The script sat in a sedentary state while Raimi pursued other genres with films such as Darkman and the Spider-Man trilogy.

This latest offering from Raimi is a return to form for the director that proves to be a bright spot for a genre struggling so hard in this country to get its footings back. The horror market as of late has been plagued by cheap remakes and quick corporate created films intended to bring in the bucks. Hardly anything released to the mainstream public has been made with such heart and such spirit as Drag Me to Hell was.

Raimi centered his film about bank employee Christine Brown (Alison Lohman), who after denying an old woman (Lorna Raver) an extension on her loan becomes tortured by a curse, on a strong use of sound effects and visual imagery, never relying on sheer unsuspecting jump scenes alone to create its thrills. Fans of Raimi’s early horror films will feel the classic devices used so well in the Evil Dead films. Objects in the room begin to act on their own, pots and pans smash from gusts of winds, shapeshifting shadows creep along the wall and demons float in the air screaming high pitched frequencies at the top of their lungs.

Drag Me to Hell is an invigorating experience. I was on the edge of my seat and had chills being sent down my spine, but not because I was scared, but because it all felt so right and perfect. Perhaps the reason as to why the modern horror film suffers is that there aren’t enough true artists handling the projects that understand what it takes to create something truly worthy of an experience like Raimi can. Not to be overly praising of him, but he certainly gets what makes a good horror film.

Horror films have always been more entertaining than scary for me, but this is only my own personal agenda. Drag Me to Hell has enough terror to scare the pants off the average moviegoer, but that’s not all Raimi is packing. It wouldn’t be an exceptional experience without all the ridiculous and absurdly campy moments and humor Raimi seemingly channels from his early B-movie days. I found myself grinning from ear to ear with a slight chuckle far more often than being aghast or frightened.

This creates what I found to be a perfect and sublime mixture of what makes a horror film enjoyable. See, Drag Me to Hell is more about Christine Brown being tortured, frightened and freaked out than the audience being scared to death. I can’t speak for Raimi, but I’m sure he certainly wanted his audience to enjoy the films the same way they enjoyed his horror comedy mashups of the Evil Dead series. And if this was his mission, he succeeded a thousand times over.

Raimi’s story is both tight and simple, providing the audience with clear descriptions of the Lamia curse the film uses as an excellent backdrop for the real meat of the film, the auditory and visual frighteners. Lohman’s performance picks up steam as the film carries on, resulting in what I found to be one of the best female lead performances in a horror film in quite some time. She’s so very convincing of her character’s mental state that it was nearly frightening in of itself.

The real star of the film is off screen, the man behind the camera. Raimi’s energy, vision and spirit is something few directors in the genre share. I think everyone can agree with me when I say that I’d love to see him stop with the Spider-Man films and focus on horror full time, for the ability he has is enough to help regenerate the entire genre.

Raimi has transcended the stigma of the PG-13 rating by creating a truly disturbing, frenetic and crowd-pleasing horror film that will go down as one of the greatest horror films of the last few decades. The most wonderful thing about it all is that Raimi didn’t have to exploit an overuse of blood and guts to do so. He made his film and the MPAA rated it.

Torture gore porn this is not. Supernatural based, psychological freak out horror film intended to assault your visceral senses it is.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

DVD Picks of the Week: June 2nd, 2009

Welcome to June everybody! I'd like to open this entry by commenting on one film I posted in last week's submission. That would be the David Cronenberg film M. Butterfly. I received my copy of the film yesterday and subsequently watched it. Suffice to say, I was amazed. It's a truly spellbounding film. It's right up Cronenberg's alley thematically, with its questions of identity and metamorphosis, but was a much different of a monster and project for him at the time. Anyway, enough about last week, let's get on to the present day.

Revolutionary Road [DVD][Blu-ray]

You know what, I'm extremely sick of people shouting "Oscar bait!" at the sight of an emotionally teasing provocative drama come winter season. People that spew this usually unreasonable claim tend to so with one eye closed to the film and situation. What you have with Revolutionary Road is a film based off a classic novel by Richard Yates that stars two of the mainstream world's better actors (Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet). This is all directed by one of the underrated greats, Sam Mendes, who put forth pieces such as American Beauty and Road to Perdition. Oscar bait? Try sincerely good and passionate film. The film is driven by the acting of DiCaprio and Winslet, whose performances put them into an upper echelon of serious acting. I've heard that the adaptation of the novel isn't the greatest, but for someone who hasn't actually read the book, this was no hindrance for me. This tremendous effort from Mendes makes life in Connecticut look like hell. As a resident of the state, I can say that it is not, although I do sometimes wish I was on other places half the time. Revolutionary Road wasn't the greatest film of 2008, but it certainly has enough willpower to grip its viewers while never letting go.

Last Days of the Fillmore [DVD]

I only know the Fillmore by name. It's a famous venue in San Francisco that closed in 1971. This documentary gives light on the final days of the great concert venue with behind-the-scenes look of the venue and some of the shows that took place during the final days. Included here are performances by Santana, Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane and more than enough other bands to make you feel the magic of the era that is long gone. This seems like a most interesting vision for fans and newcomers alike, something that will make you fall deeper in love with the music or begin your own personal relationship with great bands like the Grateful Dead.

Here is some awesome Grateful Dead to get you in the mood:

Defiance [DVD][Blu-ray]

Back in the fall when I was seeing a new film in theaters almost every week, one that I'd end up reviewing for The Recorder, I saw the trailer for this film time and time over. It looked okay, nothing much to get excited over, but something that would probably be worth watching sooner or later. To this day I still haven't watched the film, but I'm still interested. The story is pretty intriguing, even if films that detail the era this one does are getting a bit old about now. I think this even being on the part that I write about shows how weak this first week in June is.

The Sweet Pussycats

I am willing to bet that this is some lame sex comedy that sucks the hard one. That said, Edwige Fenech is in it, and as soon as I saw that name I flashbacked to one film of hers in particular. It was this great little Italian giallo cleverly titled Your Vice Is a Locked Room and Only I Have the Key. And I tell you what, she was smoking hot in that film. Granted that film was actually good. It's one of the more suspenseful, psychologically appetizing and demonic giallos ever to be made. It's a title I wish I had bought on DVD before it went out of print. I guess you can tell that The Sweet Pussycats is probably pretty insignificant and most likely awful judging from how this post is about how hot Fenech is and how good that one giallo was.

The Legend of Blood Castle [DVD]

I've never seen this film, but I can guess a lot about it. Let's see, it's an obscure Spanish entry to the horror genre from the 1970s, so that means it hopefully has a good amounts of funny looking gore, along with a plot that moves far from the speed of light. This is typically how these things go, and I love it. Director Jorge Grau went on to make what I consider to be one of the greatest and most underrated zombie films ever, Let Sleeping Corpses Lie (also known as The Living Dead at Manchester Morgue). Based on that alone I have become even more interested in the prospects of this film. God, I love the invention of DVD. It brings titles such as this to our homes in a way they've never been seen before. It's truly brilliant.

What else comes out this week: Weeds - Season 4, Prison Break: Season 4, He's Just Not That Into You, Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children Complete [Blu-ray], The Graduate [Blu-ray], Glory [Blu-ray], Air Force One [Blu-ray], Inside Man [Blu-ray], Road House [Blu-ray], The Hunger: The Complete First Season, Out of Time [Blu-ray], Fletch [Blu-ray], Thrilla in Manila, Anaconda [Blu-ray] and a bunch of other shit.

What to stay away from: Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children Complete [Blu-ray]. That is, unless you want to stroke your neckbeard while you comb your weeaboo hair as you watch men that look like women and women that look like 12 year old girls fight each other with swords bigger than their bodies. I'm just hatin', FF freaks, chill out.

Terribly lame weak. But what are you going to do. Just go watch Drag Me To Hell a few times. Speaking of which, expect a review a little later on tonight.

The Mighty Return of the Mighty Conando

I know I don't blog much about television, but I do watch it from time to time. I get more enjoyment out of films but I do have a few loves that currently reside on the tube. One of those is Conan O'Brien.

No late night talk show host has tickled my funny bone the way the red haired giant has. His humor is not that of any of the other hosts, past or present, and channels today's younger generation a way predecessor Jay Leno and time slot rival David Letterman just can't.

Tonight marked the return of Conan O'Brien to the late night lineup as the host of The Tonight Show, his first show since Late Night with Conan O'Brien became Late Night with Awkward Dolt (Jimmy Fallon). I for one am absolutely pleased to welcome O'Brien back to late night television as I've been waiting for this premiere for quite some time now.

The debut show was a hit. Fears that O'Brien might change his regular shtick to suit the older audience that typically tuned in to Leno were surpassed right from the get go as the intro to the brand new show featured O'Brien running cross country from New York to Los Angeles. O'Brien entered the new studio to a familiar tune, and it seemed like everyone was at home.

The jokes were the same, and Andy Richter proved to be a worthy companion as the new announcer and sometimes laugh track. The only thing missing from show's setup was the usual awkward and hilarious banter with Max Weinberg. Perhaps this will be discussed at upcoming production meetings.O'Brien 's going to have to share his free banter time!

O'Brien kept alive the magic that are his pre-filmed videos. O'Brien became known for classic reels such as his old time baseball production. Tonight he added two more to the mantle with a piece about how his Ford Taurus is still cool in L.A. (he impregnates a woman by the rev of the engine and makes Fabio with brown hair jealous!). They also gave us a look at O'Brien leading a tour through Universal Studios which ended with a ride through the streets and a shopping spree at the 99 cent store.

O'Brien's only guest of the night, aside from the musical performance we'll get to later, was Will Ferrell. Ferrell's is doing the final march of promoting his new film Land of the Lost so the timing is logical and right for him to appear as the first guest. And even though I'm not the biggest Ferrell fan, his time on the show was funny, and was probably a very safe choice for the crew to make in terms of a guy who would be at least somewhat funny everytime out there.

Pearl Jam performed a lackluster song called "The Fixer" off their upcoming album Backspacer. I'm not a huge Pearl Jam fan, but I do consider Ten to be a masterpiece. This song just made them feel like another one of the generic American heavy rock bands we hear much too often. I understand the choice to have Pearl Jam on, apparently they performed on either his first show or one of his earliest shows, but they could have sounded better (or played a better song). There seemed to be a technical glitch that didn't help things for the band.

The last thing I'd like to mention is the fact that Jay Leno is moving up to the 10 pm slot in the near future. I understand the decision by NBC to keep Leno aboard and keeping him from competitors, and I understand O'Brien's graciousness and withstanding honor of being lead in by Leno once again, but I think this just hinders O'Brien's development as the rock of late night television. In addition, NBC is going to have four late night talk shows with Fallon and Carson Daly following O'Brien, both are shows that don't need to exist. This seems like too much talk and forced comedy for any sane person to sit through. We'll see where NBC goes with all this.

One show in the bank and he's already funnier than Leno was throughout all his years. Despite an already long and successful career, O'Brien has an even brighter future ahead of him. The old folks that might not be familiar with his style of humor will have a choice to make. Stay and get used to it, or make the switch to Letterman. Tonight's show is history in the making, and we got to be part of it. O'Brien's move to the 11:35 slot is just another landmark in the long and fabled history of late night television.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Wrap Up of Films Watched in May of 2009

June has it, and it's dawning on me that the year is almost halfway over. Amazing. Time flies when you're watching a lot of films. As of June 1st, I've now watched a total of 134 films. The number includes some of the same films as they were repeated viewings.

I've decided to take this time to actually reflect on the rather large amount of films I've watched. Some might wonder, is this taking away from any part of your life? My answer would be an emphatic no. Because of my love for films, it's easy to sit down and watch a film instead of surfing the web or watching television. Most of my viewings also come during the late hours of the night when I'd be up anyways.

That said, May had me watching 33 total films, including a double dose of the new Star Trek film. The selections once again encompass my vast taste and love in film. Below you will find the lists for May. As always, the links will bring you to a film's IMDB page if you wish to find out more about the film. An * means it was a first time viewing for me. Along with the films are my typically generous ratings. You'll find the monthly awards below the listing.

102. 5/1 – The Terminator – 9.25/10
103. 5/1 – Spoorloos* - 9.5/10
104. 5/1 – Collateral* - 9/10
105. 5/2 – A History of Violence – 9.25
106. 5/2 – Sexy Beast – 9/10
107. 5/3 – The Great Buck Howard* - 8/10
108. 5/3 – The Petrified Forest* - 9.5/10
109. 5/4 – 2001: A Space Odyssey* - 10/10
110. 5/7 – Détective* - 8/10
111. 5/8 – Crank – 9/10
112. 5/9 – Star Trek* – 9.25/10
113. 5/10 – Solaris (2002)* - 9/10
114. 5/11 – The Underneath* - 8.75/10
115. 5/13 – The Long Goodbye* - 9.25/10
116. 5/14 – Star Trek – 9.25/10
117. 5/15 – The Girlfriend Experience* - 8.5/10
118. 5/16 – Terminator 2: Judgment Day – 9.5/10
119. 5/16 – Schizopolis* - 9/10
120. 5/16 – Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines* - 6/10
121. 5/17 – Kafka* - 9/10
122. 5/20 – Terminator: Salvation* - 8.5/10
123. 5/24 – Funny Games (1997)* - 9.5/10
124. 5/24 – Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas – 9.5/10
125. 5/25 – Wall Street* - 9/10
126. 5/26 – Breaking the Waves* - 9.5/10
127. 5/27 – Gonzo: Life and Work of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson* - 9/10
128. 5/27 – Gray’s Anatomy* - 7.5/10
129. 5/27 – Talk Radio* - 9/10
130. 5/29 – Forgetting Sarah Marshall* - 8/10
131. 5/30 – Play It Again, Sam* - 8.5/10
132. 5/30 – The Hit* - 9.25/10
133. 5/30 – They Live by Night* - 9/10
134. 5/31 – Solaris (1972)* - 10/10

Wow, what a month. I saw a great amount of inspiring films from major artists of cinema including Andrei Tarkovsky, Steven Soderbergh, Stanley Kubrick and Lars von Trier. I was hard at work trying to see as many Soderbergh films as I could as he is one of the directors I've recently fallen under trance of. Below are my quickly picked awards.

Best Film (New Viewing): Solaris (1972)
The month of May included me watching two of the greatest science fiction films of all time for the first time. The first being 2001: A Space Odyssey, a dazzling and trance-inducing film from one of the all time greatest artists, Stanley Kubrick. The other was the film I picked as the best film I watched all month. And I just got it in last night. Andrei Tarkovsky's Solaris is more scientific, philosophical and exploring of the human condition than Steven Soderbergh's thriller-orientated, but still very good, remake. Solaris is very long and very Russian, requiring a quite patience to fully comprehend and appreciate the artistic vision Tarkovsky presents. I fell in love with him as an artist with Stalker, and Solaris only furthered my appreciative view of him as one of the greatest filmmakers of all time.
Runners-up: 2001: A Space Odyssey, Breaking the Waves, The Petrified Forest, Spoorloos, Star Trek.

Best Film (Repeated Viewing): Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
It strains me to not pick Terminator 2 for this one, but Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas always leaves me with an incredibly strong and appealing aftertaste. Both Johnny Depp and Benicio Del Toro have strong performances in this film. Terry Gilliam's direction is unbeatable, transforming Hunter S. Thompson's work to something we can watch in motion.
Runners-up: Terminator 2, A History of Violence.

Worst Film (Any Viewing): Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines
Too easy of a choice, really. T3 isn't AWFUL, but it is something I'd rather not set eyes on again. How anyone could like this more than the gritty fourth film in the series is beyond me. A few good action scenes with not much else to boot.
Runners-up: None (Sorry, I love too much!).

Most Surprising Film: Talk Radio
I don't consider myself a huge fan of Oliver Stone. Never was. Even though I might own a collection of his films, I haven't seen them all, and I plan on going through them very slowly. I did absolutely love Salvador and I found The Doors to be a rather entertaining (but who knows how accurate) portrayal of a band I love. After a friend and I watched Wall Street, I moved on to watching Talk Radio. After being blown away by the film's heavy hitting introduction, I was dragged further and further in to Eric Bogosian's performance as the shock jock. The film uses limited locations. It is, after all, a reproduction of Bogosian's play. Regardless, the film is ultimately entertaining thanks to smart and fast flowing dialogue.
Runners-up: Schizopolis, Kafka, They Live by Night.

Most Disappointing Film: Detective
I love me some Jean-Luc Godard almost any day of the week. Trouble his, some of his films are tough to swallow. Detective is the example of one of these. Initially, the plot sounded like it'd be right up my alley. Which it was. It was just the way Godard went about showing it to us. I've always like Godard's early work more (this film came out in 1985). Detective is a very radical piece of work from Godard, a largely experimental take on multiple plots. It's a good film, don't get me wrong, I just wanted to love it like I loved Alphaville, Breathless and Band of Outsiders.
Runners-up: Gray's Anatomy.

Most Underrated Film: The Underneath
I saw a lot of films this month that I felt don't get the credit they deserve. A lot of those came from the mind of Steven Soderbergh. The one I chose to write about here is his mid-'90s crime/thriller The Underneath. As always, Soderbergh played around with the unique ways of telling a story. At heart the film is a film noir, and the characters represent as such. I simply think that this is a film worthy of more acclaim as a great thriller rather than just a good thriller. It entices all the way through and is thoughtfully presented to the audience.
Runners-up: They Live by Night, Schizopolis, Kafka, The Long Goodbye, Funny Games, The Hit.

And there you have it. Another month gone, another 33 viewings added to the list. One can only wonder what the month of June will bring. I guess you'll have to check back in a month to find out.