Sunday, October 31, 2010

Episode 56 - It’s Another B Grade Halloween

Well, for the 2nd year in a row our little B Grade show has fallen on the night of all hallows eve! This year we decided to dedicate the show to movies featuring Halloween as a theme. I must say though, I am a bit disappointed that Night of the Demons (The 1988 version, not the godawful remake) didn't get a mention for its wonderful portrayal of everyone's worst fear, razorblades in the candy apples!!

Anyhow, sit back and enjoy the latest episode of How B Grade Movies Saved or Ruined My Life!

As always you can find the show on Facebook, listen to us live at Edge Radio on Sundays at 6pm (AEST) or listen to all past episodes at B Grade Online.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Ghibli Art Books - Howl's Moving Castle

My Studio Ghibli Art Books collection is growing, Howl's Moving Castle makes the fourth addition to the collection!. The books are translated into English and feature many concept sketches and images, as well as character artwork, artist comments, interviews and technical details.

The books are being released by Anime & Manga distributor Madman here in Australia and so far they have released Ponyo, Howl's Moving Castle, Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind, Spirited Away, Porco Rosso, Kiki's Delivery Service and of course My Neighbor Totoro. The books are retailing for around $53.95 each and with the exception of Ponyo are all hard cover.

These books are an essential buy for fans of Studio Ghibli films. They offer a rare opportunity to learn more about the people and the creative process behind some of the most influential and fascinating animated films of the last decade! I will be adding a page for each book as I get them!

You can find details on my other 3 books here: Spirited Away, Porco Rosso & My Neighbor Totoro

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Episode 55 - 3D: It’s Coming Right At You!

As an addition to my previous blog rant on 3D, I managed to take over the airwaves to voice my love hate relationship with 3D to a wider audience. Of course the usual challenges were up, Jaws 3D for Matt, Night of the Living Dead 3D for me, and we discuss this "revival" of an ages old technology and its attempt to draw people back to cinemas! Enjoy

You can find the show on Facebook, listen to us live at Edge Radio on Sundays at 6pm (AEST) or listen to all past episodes at B Grade Online.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Trailer Alert - Scream 4 (2011)

As I have revisited the Scream trilogy in my last post, I felt it only right to post the new official teaser for the 4th film in the series.... enjoy:

Under-rated Trilogies - Scream

Wes Craven has been a master of horror for some time. He is responsible for many a sleepless night with thanks to Freddy Krueger, he has had his films remade numerous times by the money hungry studios and with the first Scream film, he single-handedly redefined the teen slasher and horror genre. One of the things I like most about Wes, is his ability to put a fresh perspective on an already overdone theme. Just look at his reclaiming of the Nightmare series with possibly the best sequel to the whole franchise. He has dabbled in werewolves, vampires, zombies, rednecks and violin teachers (no joke). Whilst the Scream series has countless die-hard fans, I feel that it is still under-rated by the general populace. Its recent arrival on Blu-ray in Germany has afforded me the opportunity to revisit the series, and I must say the films hold up remarkably well.

Scream (1996)
From its memorable opening to the final showdown the one thing you can say about Scream is that it was unlike anything seen before it. Whilst there are many slasher films around, so few challenged its audience with an intelligent script (c/o Andrew Williamson) superb casting and enough tension that even a knife won't cut through it. Whilst the story is hardly anything new to the slasher genre, serial killer stalks young nubile victims, its application and self referencing was refreshing and unexpected. There are a few scenes that date the film a little; "What are you doing with a cellular telephone, son?", but otherwise the film stands on its own even by today's standard.

Scream 2 (1997)
Kicking off with another great prologue Scream 2 enters the franchise with an interesting subplot about life imitating art. The casting is great with a number of (then) rising TV stars amongst them, the returning cast are good too and certainly build up on their existing characters. The self referential jokes are also still in full swing, but the film is bogged down with typically annoying cliche, even if it is on purpose. But, I guess If the killer spent more time killing than explaining their motives the film would have been about 1/2 an hour shorter (which might have tightened it up, given its 2 hour running time). With that said, the sequel lives up to the original in its inventiveness, something for which the whole series can be proud.

Scream 3 (2000)
Possibly the weakest link (as third films so often are), Scream 3 lets us know early on that all bets are off! Somehow the killer has now found indestructibility, and whilst we know this is still a reference to the countless horror films before it (as the exposition details), it is just a shame that the movie has far too many impossible disappearing/re-appearing killer tricks for its own good! The story is also a little convoluted with a number of dead ends (no pun intended). Basically the film feels like it is trying a little too hard to live up to its predecessors and whilst it is certainly not the worst 3rd film ever made in a trilogy, it is not the best either.

The Future of the Series....
Well, after a 10 year break it would seem Wes Craven is returning to Woodsboro to bring the Scream Trilogy into an Anthology. This has quite a big cast including the main survivors from the last three films, of course this aims to do for the genre what the original did way back in 96, if it succeeds no doubt a whole new era of slasher films will ensue.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Recent Viewings....

Salt (2010)
Directed By Phillip Noyce

In a return to his Patriot Games days, Philip Noyce presents a rollercoaster ride of a film (more for its ups and downs than its thrills) involving Russian Cold War conspiracies, CIA Spies and a plan to destroy the world using the U.S's nuclear arsenal. Angelina Jolie steps up to the gate and sets out running, of course she is no stranger to the action movie and fits this type of character well. The film suffers from a contrived plot, over-the-top action and some downright stupid moments (all possibly intentional), but it was certainly better than I was anticipating and as an enjoyable 90 minutes wasted.

Diary of a Wimpy Kid (2010)
Directed By Thor Freudenthal

Featuring what is possibly the worst character to appear on film this year, Diary of a Wimpy Kid is quite the mish mash. Sometimes funny, sometimes cringe worthy, the film is obviously trying to convey a message of self worth and respect to a middle school audience, but I dare say this is a little hard to do when your main character is a self-absorbed ego maniac who you literally want to take to task for the fact. Whilst that may be the point, you spend most of the film waiting for the moment when said character gets their reality check and redeems themselves, and whilst a scene does fit that description, it certainly isn't the revelation you have been hoping for. This should have been the Easy A equivalent for its generation, the potential was there, just not realized.

Buried (2010)
Directed By Rodrigo Cort├ęs

I can't even begin to imagine what going through an experience like being buried alive might be like, but I'll bet Ryan Reynolds can! He plays Paul Conroy, a truck driver for an American company currently deployed in Iraq. His convoy is attacked and he blacks out. When he awakes, Paul finds himself in quite a number of peoples worst nightmares. He has been buried alive. Present in his coffin are a lighter, mobile phone, glow sticks and a knife. His kidnappers use the phone in order to make their ransom demands and Paul uses the phone to call whoever he can.
This film is tense, and that doesn't even do it justice. Shot entirely in the coffin confines using only whatever lighting was available (lighter, glowstick etc), this is possibly the closest you could come to the experience of being buried alive without actually having it happen. Reynolds holds his own and puts in one of the best performances of his career. Some of the faceless voices do a less favorable job of acting the part, but the film doesn't really waiver in its 90 minute running time and you will soon forget the nitpicking. This is definitely one to see at the movies, the audio design is superb and whilst the screen stays black for almost a quarter of the film, the darkened room only adds to the intensity. If you suffer from claustrophobia though, it might be a good idea to wait and watch this one at home!

The Invisible (2007)
Directed By David S. Goyer

This remake of the 2002 Swedish film of the same name is not as bad as I was expecting. In some ways it is very similar to the recently released Let Me In, in that it changes just enough of the story to stand on its own. There are some fairly solid performances here from nearly all of the cast and the film looks fairly impressive on the recently released Blu-ray. Whilst I would always suggest checking out the original film first (in this instance, a bit hard given the lack of an English friendly DVD), this film at least captures the essence of its predecessor without too much Hollywoodization.

Knight & Day (2010)
Directed By James Mangold

What can I say, I do enjoy a good popcorn movie every now and then, and that is exactly what this film is! Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz make an interesting couple, the story is actually quite engaging and the action, well... it does require a little suspension of disbelief, but hey, if you are in the market for a fun action flick and there is not much else around, check it out!

Currently viewing on the Goggle Box:

Not much has changed here.... Chuck still remains a show I watch exclusively because it is on in the same room as me. Similar to the path Eureka seems to take (don't fix it if it ain't broke) it constantly amazes me how they can continue to rehash the same premise over and over....

Slowly slipping back into its normal formula after a few episode with Red John based stories, I still quite enjoy this puff piece. Some of the themes it has explored recently are a little darker than usual and I think that is a good direction for the show to take.

It seems Dexter has been on auto-pilot the last few episodes, but with the introduction of Julia Stiles to the cast to put a twist on things I am now looking forward to the rest of the season. If nothing else, I am glad that the series is anything but predictable.

A few good episodes under its belt, light entertainment at its best (as light as murder can be) Loved the Back to the Future references in the last episode!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Trailer Alert - The Tourist (2010)

A rather interesting choice for a remake, The Tourist is an American take on the 2005 French thriller Anthony Zimmer. I wouldn't have pegged the French film as remake material, this trailer certainly doesn't help to change my mind.

We have Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie taking on the roles played by Yvan Attol and Sophie Marceau, I think I have filled my quota of remake whinging this month so I shall just present the trailer for you, but the DVD of the original is out here in Australia through Universal Pictures, so do yourself a favour and check that out before going to see this:

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Episode 54 - Year One In Review

Hard to believe that a year ago today we started a little radio show about movies that we like...and what a year it has been too. Many horrible films have been watched, a few gems uncovered and some wonderful arguments had.

So here for your listening pleasure (or pain) is a review of the whole year of our movie loving show... enjoy.

You can find the show on Facebook, listen to us live at Edge Radio on Sundays at 6pm (AEST) or listen to all past episodes at B Grade Online.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Let Me In (2010)

Where to begin?

Let Me In has given me a rare case of the "I don't knows".

Let us pretend for a minute that it is not a remake. The film is very well crafted, it looks magnificent with great use of colour, tone and light. The casting is spot on with great performances by the two young leads. The story is competent with only a few minor issues and unresolved or unexplained instances. The plotting and melodic nature of the film is refreshing for Hollywood. The use of CG is a little lame, but the effect it creates is all the better for it and it is not an over use. So for the most part all positive things.....


it is a remake, and I feel that it is a needless one at that (although what remake isn't?). Sure things have been changed, some possibly for the better, but the film doesn't present many things that weren't already perfect in the original. This unfortunately adds a superfluous feel to the film. If the original is so good, why remake it?

I have been outspoken about remakes for as long as I can recall, I love Asian horror films and it always pains me to see them dulled or watered down by Hollywood in an attempt to cash in on the popularity of such horror simply for a market who can't be bothered to read subtitles. Having said that I have enjoyed a number of remakes as well, The American remake of The Ring would be one of the few films that I think in some ways surpasses the original film on which it is based (Ringu), but it can do that because the original, despite being an awesome film, is not technically perfect. For me, Let the Right One In was perfect. Which leaves me with the predicament I am in now.

Owen (A perfectly cast Kodi Smit-McPhee) is a young boy living in a cold and cruel world. He is consistently bullied at school, has no friends to speak of and his parents are in the process of getting a divorce. He lives with his mother on a bleak estate in New Mexico a place where no-one would move to on purpose. So it is of some interest to him when a young girl and her father have moved in next door.

Of course Abbey (Chloe Moretz) and her "Father" (Richard Jenkins) are not what they seem to be. Soon after their arrival the quiet little town is rocked by a number murders, seemingly related to satanic rituals and the local police detective (Elias Koteas) has his work cut out for him.

Owen meets his strange new neighbor one night on the jungle gym in the middle of the building complex. Whilst he senses that something is not quite right (for a start it is snowing and she isn't wearing any shoes and shows no sign of being cold), he still feels a strange attraction to her. Of course it doesn't take long before things start to take a turn for Owen and he realizes that what might be living next door is not at all a little girl.

It is clear that Matt Reeves holds the original film in high regard, the film clearly shows respect and understanding of its source. I have posted an interview with Matt previously here, which somewhat explains his motive for making the film. There are a few sequences that are almost identical to both films, but there are just as many that are new. I do believe this is one of the best remakes to come out of Hollywood in years, but I could never recommend it over the original.

New Blu's

A couple of new discs added to the collection:

I have not watched The Descent Part 2 yet, but the Cube and Cypher disc is pretty damn good. I have the original DVD of Cube, which featured an atrocious non anamorphic video presentation, but the video on this disc is very impressive! Cypher is a 1080i transfer, but still cleans up well and is a worthy addition to the pack! Both films feature DTS HD Master Audio 5.1 tracks and they too are a doosy with some great ambient and surround use! Having been to see Buried earlier this week, I found it funny that I have chosen 2 of the most claustrophobic titles to add to the collection, as if being buried alive wasn't bad enough! Sadly there are no extras on either of the discs.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Remembering Things Past - Laserdisc

I frequent a number of forums online, but most recently I have become a contributor to the forums, a great place for info and news pertaining to Blu-ray and home theatres all over the world! Recently I stumbled upon its official laserdisc thread and a whole slew of memories returned to me. Below is a repost of my submission to said page:

My brief rendezvous with Laserdiscs....

Laserdiscs never really took off in my neck of the woods, I had seen a few of them around and a couple of specialist hifi stores sold players (a few even rented discs!), I took a trip to London and they were everywhere, but I was talking to a few people in one of the stores and one gent had just returned from the U.S where he had been sent to check out this new fangled format called DVD.

Sensing a major change was afoot in the market, I stayed my purchase of a Laserdisc player. Then DVD hit, of course I wasn't going to invest lots of money in a format that was going to be replaced, but I was also aware that it would take many years before DVD could even dream of reaching the number of titles on LD. So, I bought a Pioneer DVL909 that I imported to Australia to take advantage of the now getting much cheaper LD's and the new fangled DVD format in one unit.

I purchased a few Laserdiscs, but eventually ended up just supporting DVD.

I will however share my last remaining LD and what was the pearl of my collection:

of course then the DVD version came along, and then the Anniversary Edition, so now my collection looks more like this:

No doubt we shall see a Blu-ray release in the not so distant future, but I still cherish my laserdisc release!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Eat My Shorts: Keep Right (2004)

Keep Right (2004)
Directed by Tim Godsall
Starring: Ewen Bremner & Lance Henriksen
Running Time: 4 Minutes
Country: USA

Did you ever play cops and robbers when you were young? I know my brother and I used to play it. There was always this moment when playing it, that you decide to rebel.

My brother: "You're dead!, I shot you"
Me: "No you didn't, I'm wearing a bullet proof vest"

This short film from Tim Godsall basically takes this to the next level. Lance Henriksen is always a favourite of mine and he is great in this! As is Ewan Bremner whom I haven't seen in anything recently?

Anyway, you can enjoy the full short below:

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Viewing Round Up (3D Edition)

Personally I am not a big fan of 3D, I don't think it brings anything new to the party. If anything it takes away! The colours are wrong, the sharpness is wrong and half of the cinemas don't have a clue what they are doing with it. Imax have basically sold out to mainstream and studios continue to pump out films that are technically only semi 3D (or conversions of 2D). Warner this week announced that due to technical limitations and time restraints the first installment of the final Harry Potter film will not be presented in 3D. This is after already sending out nearly every poster advertising "Complete the journey in 3-D".

This will be a massive loss for Warner, but one that I am sure is of benefit to the consumer. (At least those who don't have to get refunds for their pre-purchased 3D tickets). I have seen a number of films in various 3D forms (Imax, RealD etc) and the only one that "worked" for me was Toy Story 3. Even Avatar looked better in 2D and I saw the 3D version of that in Imax!

Anyhow, after the abismal 3D release of Clash of the Titans it is good to see a major studio come to their senses. I have no issue with films that are 3D from the outset, but this conversion process for money grubbing has just got to stop..... would seem it is only going to get worse with both Star Wars and Titanic being prepped for 3D in 2012 (At a cost of $10 Million for Titanic!!!!)

So in keeping with the 3D theme... this week was my "Lets watch lots of 3D movies in 2D week!" and I started with......

Piranha 3D (2010)
Directed By Alexandre Aja

I have mixed feelings about Aja's previous works (I hated Mirrors, but loved High Tension and have the Blu-ray on the way!), but this film was great fun to watch! A hark back to the day when B movies were at their prime! We have a great cast, some awesome cameos, a relatively believable plot and some relatively unbelievable, but awesome nonetheless special effects. Not to be confused with gore effects of which this film lives up to the highest standard! As for the whole 3D thing... well watching the film in 2D, there are very clearly scenes that are supposed to "jump" out at you (and one scene in particular that would haunt your dreams for years if you are male). All in all this was a great laugh and jump inducing ride of a movie!

Resident Evil: Afterlife (2010)
Directed By Paul W.S. Anderson

Paul Anderson returns to the Resident Evil director's chair along with most of the surviving cast from the previous films. Shot in the "latest 3D technology as used by Avatar" the film has only a few minor uses of the 3D gimmick. Again, watching in 2D only helps to make these shots more obvious! As for the film itself, well, it is a bit of a mish mash unfortunately. I am not really sure where the series is heading (to be honest I am amazed it has made it this far), but there is too much going on here with very little explanation. The whole film is kind of like a music video, with an almost never-ending score by Tomandandy and a plethora of loud noise, gun fire and explosions. In order of preference, this would be my third favourite of the series after the First and Third films, with the second film coming in last.

The Hole 3D (2009)
Directed By Joe Dante

Having not really directed any major films since Looney Tunes, Joe Dante returns to the genre I think he is best suited to with The Hole. Two brothers find a locked trapped door in the cellar of their new house, and, as you do, open it to see what is inside. Of course they get more than they bargained for as all of their worst fears come to life. The film is a bit of a mixed bag really and I am not sure what demographic it is aimed at, the acting and main characters seem oriented toward tweens, but there are some genuinely tense moments that I feel may be too much for this younger viewing audience. The film borders on horror, but never really delivers. On the whole though, the premise is certainly interesting, it is more the application that is the problem. It is still definitely worth a watch though!

How to Train Your Dragon (2010)
Directed By Dean DeBlois & Chris Sanders

I really enjoyed How to Train Your Dragon, more than I was expecting in fact. The story was great, the voice cast was perfect and the animation was superb. Really I am not sure what more I can say!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Episode 53 - Director Special: Jim Wynorski

And another episode of How B Grade Movies Saved or Ruined My Life is in the bag.... this week we discuss B movie favourite Jim Wynorski, the man who makes Russ Meyer's breast obsession look perfectly normal!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

Having seen, but not purchased this set back in July during my trip to Sydney, I had been regretting it ever since. Thankfully, I was able to locate a copy this week!

Haven't watched it yet, but I am more than happy with the presentation of the set.

Featuring 2 Blu-ray's, a soundtrack sampler CD, 4 reproduction booklets, a set of photo cards, a brand new anniversary book and custom packaging.

The set was a mere $AU56....and once I can pull myself away from Red Dead Redemption and watch it, I shall post further comments here ;)

Episode 52 - Blaxploitation: The Day Funk & Soul Entered Film

This week saw the show cover one of Hollywood's coolest era's.... one that brought us Shaft, Coffey and Blacula to name but a few... so sit back and enjoy our How B Grade Movies Saved Or Ruined My Life episode on Blaxploitation!