If anyone can find a way to craft a spectacular vampire story at a time when the very idea of another could turn the stomach of almost any movie goer, it’s certainly Park Chan-wook. He manages to give us not only a fresh take on the still over saturated genre, but arguably the best to date. Thirst is an absolute masterpiece, and for many outspoken fans it is Parks best film to date (though I have to disagree and give that title to his earlier Mr Vengeance).
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When the credits began to role after Accident concluded I will admit I didn’t know how to feel. I was pretty sure I had just watched a pretty great Hong Kong thriller, but wasn’t sure how much I actually liked it. After taking some time to absorb what I had watched I realized that I did in fact like it quite a bit, my initial reaction was caused by the film itself, which had just managed to take me on a mental journey that I wasn’t expecting. And it did so by taking me on this journey through a very specific perspective of the events that occurred. Accident is not a very long film, in clocks in just under 90 minutes, but what it manages to do in that short amount of time is much more then may two hour of more thrillers ever did.
When Band of Brothers was released on HBO over a decade ago, it taught a very important lesson about what makes a war story, a truly memorable one to tell. It’s not the large scale bombings, epic battle scenes or the excessive gore. No, what really makes for a lasting story about the horrors of war is showing us the human side. Telling stories about comradery, brotherhood, and the horrors of war through the eyes of average people whose position any one of us could have found ourselves in if we were born in a different generation. The Front Line does just this; it doesn’t tell a story about the Korean War itself, it tells a story about a group of men stuck within it.
“Piss On The White Man.” – Nervous Elk
The Villain (Hal Needham, 1979) was Kirk Douglas’ last theatrical Western, Arnold Schwarzenegger’s only Western, and the final performance of Paul Lynde. So obviously, the production of this cinematic travesty had a tremendous impact on the psyches of all those involved, not mentioning all those that bore witness to its live action Looney Tunes insanity. Filled with copious amounts of old man humor (be careful of Arnie’s “seven shot six shooter” and the endless number of banana peel pratfalls) and handled with the nudge-nudge-wink-wink subtlety you would expect from the man that directed the Smokey and the Bandit series as well as both Cannonball Run films. The Villain is a curiosity worth at least one viewing. Its only fans rank in Schwarzenegger completests and admirers of Ann-Margaret’s ever-present cleavage. And, of course, there are plenty of those.
Our good friend Marie Lascu went to see The Boxer’s Omen for us and she wrote down a few thoughts about the film and the experience seeing it on 35mm
There are midnight movies, and there are midnight movies. For those who’ve long grown tired of the same five films or so being constantly paraded as midnight fare (The Big Lebowski, Goonies, Fight Club, crap that won Oscars, etc.) NYAFF ’12 is gifting the public with some late night flicks that satisfy the wild, unknown, and WTF palette of midnight movie yore.
Going into Yun Jong-bin’s Nameless Gangster, I did not know what to expect. All I knew was it starred the amazing actor Choi Min-sik and that it probably had something to do with gangsters. But sometimes titles to films can be misleading, so I went in not aware of the special film that was presented before me. Being a big crime/gangster film fan from all around the world, I’ve seen good examples and bad examples. This one easily enters the good camp of gangster films primarily based on the Choi Min-sik performance of Choi Ik-hyun, a character you’re never sure if he’s absolutely brilliant or one of the biggest dumbasses around. And this makes for an interesting journey.
Imagine that during World War II, Japan had allied with the US, and the bombs were not dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, but on Berlin. In Si-myung Lee’s 2009 Lost Memories, that is the reality.
As far as forgotten Westerns are concerned, There Was A Crooked Man (Joseph L Mankiewicz, 1970) is one of my favorites. Upon its initial release critics plastered the film as “cynical” and it quickly sank during the Christmas box office season. The film practically vanished from the public consciousness and only saw the light of day during those wasteland hours on late night/early morning cable television. Warner Brothers finally put the DVD out in 2006 to little or no fan response. My job here is to get all you cineAWESEOME! fanatics to fire up your Netflix queues and pop this gem straight to the top.
According to the trivia tab on IMDB, when asked about Navajo Joe (Sergio Corbucci, 1966) Burt Reynold’s often jokes that the film was directed by “the wrong Sergio” and when he learned that it was Corbucci behind the camera and not Leone he attempted to flee the production. However, a blood oath studio contract trapped him in Spain and even though it might have been a miserable undertaking for the budding icon of Smokey Bandit cool, Navajo Joe remains a highlight in a career of mostly milk toast performances. And me, being the prideful film geek contrarian that I am, would shout back at Mr. Reynolds that he was most certainly in the hands of the “right” Sergio, and that the Corbucci spaghetti westerns are a weirdo collection of mean-spirited brutality not matched in entertainment value by those grand epics of Leone. Blasphemy? I cannot possibly hate on the Dollars Trilogy or the masterpiece that is Once Upon A Time In The West (1968), but if I’m looking for a thrilling evening of Western revenge over a somber parade of oppressive hate than I’m popping in Navajo Joe along with the popcorn.
“Don’t Let Him Eat Your Heart.” – The Widow Emilie Grant
Now here’s a film you don’t here a lot about these days. Alien Thunder (Claude Fournier, 1974) aka Dan Candy’s Law, is a politically charged Canadian produced Western that attacks the treatment of the Cree Nation by those dastardly government officials, so dang determined to herd the pesky native people into their own, secure parcel of land. Yes, yes, yes. It’s all very Dances With Wolves (Kevin Costner, 1990) and there is no denying the horrors and atrocities committed in the name of manifest destiny. White Guilt firmly established.