Ep. 106: The Man in the High Castle & Excision

In this one I review multi-award nominated “The Man in the High Castle” and the disgustingly cool horror film “Excision.”

I also make the announcement about how I am about to start having guests on the show talking films and TV with me. After over 100 episodes done by myself, I’m really excited about this!

This first tv show is quite good. It was written by Phillip K. Dick, author of the novel that spurned “Blade Runner.” He is as renowned as Ray Bradbury in science fiction circles. It’s a story of an alternate ending to WWII, imagining the Nazis and Japan won. How would the world be different. What results is a land of rebels, spying and sneaking in the Third Reich seeking a mysterious “Man in the High Castle.” The rebels are assigned to bringing him films that appear to be propaganda showing America and her allies winning the war. There’s a beautiful and talented leading actor Alexa Davalos. She is the prime rebel with two other actors holding supporting roles. It’s a science fiction show, remember that. It looks historical and period but it’s definitely science fiction. I am currently in S2 and I hope  it stays as engaging as it has been thus far. Some of the sci fi stuff is starting to reveal itself. So far I give it an 8/10.

“Excision” is a horror movie that premiered on “Shudder.” In the spirit of “Ginger Snaps” it’s a coming of age high school movie centering on an actor who has a sick and demented mind. One quirky thing about it is that Traci Lords plays the conservative mother. The movie has tons of blood and flesh. It contains, as I say in the podcast, one of the most disgusting scenes I’ve ever seen in horror. Even though it has a comedic element, this is creepy horror make no mistake. There is also a secondary element in this girl’s mind of sex. Put them all together, along with her desire to be a surgeon, and you have “Excision,” a darned messed up film and I loved it. I give it a 9/10.

Ep. 105: Birdman & Melancholia

I look at two films that are open to interpretation.

Birdman: I recommend you see this movie with no presuppositions. Even the few small things I mention here should be seen as simply one critic’s opinion. I wrote this review the week of its premiere in 2014. This is a uniquely remarkable film. I highly recommend it.

Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) (2014)
R | 1h 59min | Comedy, Drama | 14 November 2014 (USA)

A washed-up actor, who once played a famous superhero, attempts to revive his career by writing and starring in a Broadway play.
Director: Alejandro González Iñárritu (as Alejandro G. Iñárritu)
Writers: Alejandro González Iñárritu (as Alejandro G. Iñárritu), Nicolás Giacobone

See it with an open mind. To begin: this is not a superhero movie. I purposely did not use a mock Birdman as an image for my post. Instead I used Michael Keaton in his underwear because metaphorically, this is what you get. I feel bad for the kids that may pay to go see this expecting a gritty sort of superhero that mimics the likes of Batman. This is not a lower Batman, this is a lower person and the anatomy of his breakdown. It just so happens that in this man’s life, he played a “Birdman” in a set of sequels. It doesn’t matter to the point. Birdman is a firing of brain cells in the mind of an actor who has wasted his life living for appearances and not for reality. In his words, he “has not been present” for his life. We can all get some good lessons from this movie. It portrays men as egotistical and highly capable of getting what they want at any cost. It portrays women as victims who men fail to support time and time again. The male brain is sinister at times and women find this sad. In fact, the audience is meant to find it sad. At the bottom right of Riggan’s (character played by Michael Keaton) mirror he has a quote taped on that reads: “The thing is the thing, not what is said about the thing.” Could there be an application to social media? To “getting off the grid?” Maybe. You as a viewer decide to what degree.

There is also a dream element that has already been touched on all over the internet so I won’t get too into it. There is a lot about the brain but not in the way you might think. Some see the film as a death bed reflection, others see it as part dream and part brain firing. I do not feel that this movie was meant to be understood. It was meant to be enjoyed and talked about but never fully understood. One thing I noticed that didn’t seem real was when Riggan pulled a cocktail napkin out of his wallet, showing his daughter Sam (Emma Stome) it’s significance to the play. Raymond Carver had signed it for his while he was in a bar with his dad. I din’t know about you, but receipts in my wallet start to disintegrate after a few months. I thought it was bad writing at the time but now I see it could be part of a dream or trick of the brain at time of death. Perhaps the whole movie is that.

You keep waiting throughout the film for it to make sense but it really isn’t until you’ve seen the entirety of it that you can start to form opinions on what just happened. Hallucinations permeate the film so it’s hard to see what’s really going on. I think in the end, the psychiatrists will have the best read of this film. Go see Birdman if you want to see a creative and beautifully filmed movie. It might also appeal to you that Michael Keaton, Zach Galafinakis, Edward Norton, Naomi Watts, and Emma Stone are in it. The acting drew me in like a moth to a light. It was a highly enjoyable movie experience but you have to be willing to fill in the mortar between the bricks. Once again, don’t assume it’s about a superhero. The title is extremely misleading. There is a man in a suit but he is the voice in Keaton’s head that tells him things. He isn’t real. He is, in fact, in the movie only about 10 minutes total. Ok, I’ve said enough about that. This is not a superhero film. I feel it leaves too much up to the imagination. It reminded me of the acclaimed Enemy movie that way. Perhaps the director got too close to the material and forgot the audience couldn’t get the ending. It needed to be explained more. For that reason I think a lot of people will be frustrated with this movie. I know I was. It could have said so much more about “being present” in ones life and social media and art and theater. Instead, it tries too hard to be spooky and vague and achieves it, which is also fun when you’re out at the movies. This is at the cost of a star. I give it 8/10.

Melancholia: I must admit I went through the looking glass Lars von Trier films recently in anticipation of “The House The Jack Built,” a serial killer themed film. It should be coming out in 2018 and I am somewhat on the edge of my seat. I think Matt Dillon is a great choice for a killer. “Melancholia” came up in a search and I was eager to watch it a second time. It had been several years since I watched it, around 2012 or so. It is one of those odd, open to interpretation films like “Birdman” that I love so much.

Lars von Trier is a compelling director. He has the amazing sounding serial killer film coming out but he’s already made a name for himself with so many excellent, albeit misunderstood by the masses, films. I like him because he is against the grain in filmmaking. He gets an idea based on his urge to convey it not his desire to make money. Ironically, his films do make money. This is one he may have a message intended for but I must admit, I didn’t try to exactly define it. Instead, I did what I always do with films like this: I let myself come up with what it means TO ME. Thank you Lars von Trier for creating a movie I can enjoy and interpret the way I want to.

There is such a cast of famous and talented actors, for brevity’s sake I hesitate to mention each one. The main three are Kirsten Dunst, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Kiefer Sutherland. Sutherland stands out in his performance as a controlling coward of a man who is not at ease with himself or other people. I find it odd how a man can pay for his sister-in-law’s wedding and when it doesn’t go right, just keep reminding her of the amount he spent.

The sister of the protagonist is Claire. She is the one who takes on all the anxiety of the family, It could be argued she is the strongest “sane” person in the bunch. And then there is Kirsten Dunst’s character. She appears to be mentally ill with depression (Melancholia). At the same time, she has a closeness with this planet that is supposed to spell everyone’s impending doom.

This is the sort of film you really need patience with. A bottle of wine, a special coffee concoction (my choice) and any creature comforts you can summon are in order. I feel she is one with the depression planet and as it is crashing in, she is calm since she is crashing on everyone else already. There is also the message of how life is short and can end abruptly. Therefore, marry only who you truly love and do that which you find utterly satisfying in your time on Earth. I recommend this film if you can handle all that. I give it a 9/10.

Ep. 104: The Tree of Life

We have the technology to see the outer reaches of the universe, and others! The Hubble telescope showed humankind we have so much more to explore. At the same time, we can look at the most minute worlds going on under our feet. This film takes us all those places and then some and poses the question: does any of it make us more content with our existence? And, where do we as humans fit into all this?

The Tree of Life (2011)
PG-13 | 2h 19min | Drama, Fantasy | 17 May 2011 (France)

The story of a family in Waco, Texas in 1956. The eldest son witnesses the loss of innocence and struggles with his parents’ conflicting teachings.
Director: Terrence Malick
Writer: Terrence Malick
Stars: Brad Pitt, Sean Penn, Jessica Chastain

Terrence Malick directed “Days of Heaven” and “Badlands” and many more pictures that I thoroughly enjoyed. He certainly has a gift as a storyteller. This film is a little different, it has a lot of out space and nature scenes. There are even a few dinosaurs and pop up, seemingly in the spirit of “2001 a Space Odyssey.”

Jessica Chastain really plays the mother role well here. Brad Pitt plays the conflicted father who seems discontent with where he has ended up in life. He even tells that to his sons which I found reprehensible. Overall though, we have a sensible healthy family here in this story just trying to make it somewhere between their “nature” and “grace.” This film took some patience and I have to admit I watched it twice before it really appealed to me. In the end, I truly loved it. I give this piece of beauty a 10/10.

Ep. 103: Action Point

This is Knoxville doing his stunt work all the way to the bank. Between he and Chris Pontius, my sides hurt from laughing. Check out my audio as usual and video review I tried my hand at this time. Tell me what you think. Would you like to see more video experiments from me?

Action Point (2018)
R | 1h 25min | Comedy | 1 June 2018 (USA)

A daredevil designs and operates his own theme park with his friends.
Director: Tim Kirkby
Writers: John Altschuler (screenplay by), Dave Krinsky (screenplay by) | 5 more credits »
Stars: Johnny Knoxville, Brigette Lundy-Paine, Susan Yeagley

Ep. 102: Almost Famous

This is a rock film I never get tired of rewatching. If you haven’t yet, you need to see this. There’s a scene at the beginning of this film where the macro lens fixes on a turntable as the needle lowers on the Who’s “Tommy.” It’s so f***ing cool I want to eat pralines and cream ice cream every time I watch it. That just happens to be my favorite flavor, please imagine yours and you’ll probably get what I mean. This film is a breed apart. I can’t criticize much about it. It’s one of the great ones in my collection, what else can I say?

Director Cameron Crowe was born in 1957 and went to school in San Diego, California, USA. In the opening sequence you see the young writer William Miller (Patrick Fugit) with his mother (Frances McDormand) in 1969 walking down the streets of San Diego. That little writer is Crowe! At least, that’s what I suspect. Crowe has done so many amazing films, I’ll always see another pinnacle as the indubitable Jerry Macguire. Almost Famous is my favorite work of his to date.

Actor Patrick Fugit does a phenomenal job as an underage kid and writing prodigy basically sneaking on tour in the 70’s with a rock band, Stillwater. It’s a coming of age story about rock and roll and love on tour with a band. How f***ing cool is that? It makes me wonder what it would have been like to go on tour with REM in the 80’s. I’m 12 years younger than Crowe so my musical influences are from a bit later. That reminds me, the late Philip Seymour Hoffman plays a thirty something music critic and his lines are the stuff of pure genius. He contends rock is dead.

The story continues to introduce Kate Hudson as a 16 year old roadie who William takes up with and falls in love. He learns so much about rock and love from her. She is one of the best actors in the film. There is an older brother type rock hero role played by Billy Crudup. Mostly we find out the decadent stupidity of fame from what he does and says but it’s well played of course. In the end lessons are learned, hearts are broken, stomachs are pumped, and rock marches on.

My favorite scene is when the band and their entourage almost crash in their plane and the things they say thinking they are about to die are side-splitting as well as revealing.

FINAL THOUGHTS
I can’t think of a film like this because it is so thick with music and amazing actors. You really do go on tour with Stillwater. You experience it all. It’s like Pink Floyd’s the wall but with a professional dramatic screenplay of which you can discern the dialogue. I will always worship this film because it’s what I stand for: rock and roll and writing. Oh, one issue I have: too many Elton John songs: they don’t fit. One would be ok but not 4.

10/10

Ep. 101: Mad Max: Fury Road

I really enjoyed recording some thoughts and impressions about this movie. This film is an extension of the Mad Max movies but one that extends far out into an eccentric rock and roll style and demands the attention of its viewers.

Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)
R | 2h | Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi | 15 May 2015 (USA)

A woman rebels against a tyrannical ruler in postapocalyptic Australia in search for her home-land with the help of a group of female prisoners, a psychotic worshipper, and a drifter named Max.
Director: George Miller
Writers: George Miller, Brendan McCarthy | 1 more credit »
Stars: Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron, Nicholas Hoult

On the director front: George Miller is one amazing dude. His first big movie was Mad Max in 1979. That movie really kicks ass even to this day. It’s an apocalyptic vision that would soon become developed further and more wonderfully that audiences would have ever imagined. Let me just pause for a moment and list the many films he has directed up to now:

2015 Mad Max: Fury Road
2011 Happy Feet Two
2006 Happy Feet
1998 Babe: Pig in the City
1997 40,000 Years of Dreaming (TV Movie documentary)
1992 Lorenzo’s Oil
1987 The Witches of Eastwick
1985 Tina Turner: We Don’t Need Another Hero (Video short)
1985 Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome
1983 Twilight Zone: The Movie (segment “Nightmare at 20, 000 Feet”)
1983 The Dismissal (TV Mini-Series) (1 episode)
– Episode #1.1 (1983) … (part one)
1981 The Road Warrior
1979 Mad Max

What range! “Babe: Pig in the City” to Mad Max: Fury Road. How are they related? Talk amongst yourselves.

So, now back to Mad Max: Fury Road. A tyrant has risen. He is the evil one in this film, denying the people water they need to to survive. As usual, Max our hero sets out to first escape and second destroy this evil ruler. What follows are my notes taken while watching it today. I hope they amuse.

Mad Max: Fury Road

George Miller film

Mad Max Tom Hardy

Obstacle course/Physical role

Evil leader, controls the water supply

It’s a long way from Starbucks

Wide open spanse of desert

Their rich delicacy is breast milk

They took his blood for water?

The electric guitar jamming fire

For being bled these guys are all in damn good shape

CGI combined with real stunts makes for an amazing show

Its him and the girls now. The misfits. They need each other.

“I live I die I live again.”

Drums are powerful.

Like a rock concert

You might call these tactics, assertive warfare

Jumping onto cars

Before they are martyrs, they dpray paint in their mouth

Here comes religion again

Ep. 100: The Martian

Films made from novels are usually great in my opinion. I think screenwriting a story without a famous novel behind it may be fading by convention. “The Martian” is one of those hip cool novel-to-movie examples.

I read the first few chapters before seeing the movie. The understated humor and NASA space themes drew me in right away. That and the universal praise of the critics put seeing this one at a high priority. “Star Wars” proved a global love for space movies. “Castaway” did the same for survival films. It’s likely “The Martian” draws from both audiences along with readers of the novel. It’s already being given “Blockbuster” status in the press. In the story, a manned mission to Mars goes wrong and an astronaut, thought to be dead, is left behind. He uses his ingenuity and tenacity to survive. The movie is well over 2 hours and I wasn’t bored once. I give this one a perfect 10/10.

Ep. 99: Pulp Fiction

I talk through a plot summary and review of Pulp Fiction.

Pulp Fiction (1994)
R | 2h 34min | Crime, Drama | 14 October 1994 (USA)

The lives of two mob hitmen, a boxer, a gangster’s wife, and a pair of diner bandits intertwine in four tales of violence and redemption.Director: Quentin Tarantino
Writers: Quentin Tarantino (stories), Roger Avary (stories) | 1 more credit »
Stars: John Travolta, Uma Thurman, Samuel L. Jackson

As usual I’m posting my rough rewatch notes below:

Tim Roth, Amanda Plummer in restaurant.

Casual talk to throw you off.

Taran is really big on the right music

Next scene Travolta (Vincent) and Sam Jackson are arguing logic of whats more serious, cunnilingus or a foot massage. This mindless, unrelated dialog is meant to throw the viewer off

Jacksons character recites a Bible passage about wrath before he executes people

23 mins into it you have a 3rd scenario. Bruce Willisvand Ving Raimes. Accepting a payoff to throw his fight.

Rosanna Arquette and Eric Stoltz, the heroine dealers

Marcellas wife Mia) Uma Thurman needs a chaperone to take her out. Vincent is chosen for the job.

Their famous dance

Mis finds heroin and snorts it, over doses. Vincent takes her to Stolz and Arquette and they inject adrenaline into her heart.

Willis kills the other boxer in the ring. Bets on homself and leaves town.

Marcella finds Willis character in a pawn shop.

They fall into a dark spiral of gimp hell

Driving around Vincent shoots Marvin in the face

Harvey Keitel is the fixer

Story comes full circle when Vincent and Jules are in the diner as the holdup resumes

Ep. 98: In Darkness

A cool new suspense film! (These are just my unedited notes) In Darkness – Notes A blind musician hears a murder committed in the apartment upstairs from hers that sends her down a dark path into London’s gritty criminal underworld.

In Darkness (2018)
1h 50min | Thriller | 25 May 2018 (USA)

A blind musician hears a murder committed in the apartment upstairs from hers that sends her down a dark path into London’s gritty criminal underworld.
Director: Anthony Byrne
Writers: Anthony Byrne, Natalie Dormer
Stars: Natalie Dormer, Emily Ratajkowski, Ed Skrein

Director: Anthony Byrne (Ripper Street, Peaky Blinders, The Last Kingdom) Wow!
His partner is Natalie Dormer, sophia in the film.

Orchestra playing to a movie being made very cool

Sophia is a concert pianist.
Natalie Dormer born 11 February 1982 is an English actress. She is best known for her roles as Anne Boleyn on the Showtime series The Tudors (2007-10), as Margaery Tyrell on the HBO series Game of Thrones (2012-14), Irene Adler on the CBS series Elementary (2013-15), and as Cressida in the science-fiction adventure films The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 (2014) and Part 2 (2015). She has been nominated for Best Performance at the Gemini Awards for her work in The Tudors. She has also been nominated for a Screen Actor’s Guild Award for her performance in Game of Thrones.

her other senses like hearing and feeling touch take over and are in Hanst to compensate for her lack of sight

she talks to a girl in the lobby Veronique who apparently is being abused by her spouse as she’s practicing her piano she begins to hear them fighting

she falls if you fell or if you fall do you lick your blood or do I put on your clothes I think I would wipe it on my clothes

The abused woman Veronique jumps out her window. murder?

Inspector is Mills (Neil Maskell of Kill List and High Rise)

The co conspirators:

Joely Richardson
For Joely, the theatre must be in her genes. Born in Marylebone, London, England, she is the daughter of director Tony Richardson and Vanessa Redgrave, granddaughter of Sir Michael Redgrave, niece of Lynn SRedgrave, and sister of Natasha Richardson. Former husband Tim Bevan is a producer. However the genes were slow – as a child she saw her older sister Natasha interested in acting but she was imagining a career in tennis. Her father put his foot down, and tennis was out. British by birth, she considers herself a sort of honorary Yank, having attended boarding school at Thacher in Ojai, California. Beginning in the ’80s film became her life, from small parts in Wetherby (1985) to BBC dramas such as Lady Chatterley (1993) to today’s Disney studio going to the dogs in 101 Dalmatians (1996).

Ed Krein (Pushed his sister to her death- Father ordered it
Ed Skrein grew up in North London, graduated with a degree in Fine Arts from Central Saint Martins, and is one of the most highly versatile artists of his generation. He was selected by Screen International as one of their “Stars of Tomorrow” in 2013, which showcases the next generation of talent from the UK.

Most recently, Skrein starred as the villain Ajax in Marvel’s and Twentieth Century Fox’s box office hit, Deadpool (2016), directed by Tim Miller and alongside Ryan Reynolds. The film shattered box office records, nearing $500 million worldwide. Deadpool (2016) chronicles the story of Marvel comic book character Deadpool (Reynolds), a former Special Forces operative turned mercenary who adopts an alter ego after being subjected to a rogue experiment that leaves him with accelerated healing powers.

Skrein also recently starred in the Danish drama, The Model (2016), directed by Mads Matthiesen, who won the “World Cinema – Dramatic” award for his film, Teddy Bear at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival. The Model (2016) follows an emerging fashion model attempting to enter the Parisian fashion scene who develops a deadly obsession for top fashion photographer Shane White (Skrein). Nordisk Film Distribution released the film in Denmark on February 11th.

This year, Skrein will appear in the comedy crime film, Kill Your Friends (2015), directed by Owen Harris (Black Mirror) and alongside Nicholas Hoult and James Corden. Based on John Niven’s 2008 novel, the film accounts the story of a 27-year-old A&R man working at the height of the Britpop music craze and going to extremes in order to find his next hit. Kill Your Friends (2015) screened at Cannes and was purchased by Well Go USA Entertainment, which will release the film on April 1st.

Last year, Skrein starred in the action crime thriller reboot, The Transporter Refueled (2015), directed by Camille Delamarre and produced by Luc Besson and Mark Gao (Lucy, Taken Trilogy). Skrein portrayed the lead role of Frank Martin, a former special-ops mercenary who now spends his life as a transporter of classified packages for questionable people on the other side of the law.

In 2013, Skrein appeared in the critically-acclaimed and BAFTA and Critics Choice Television Award winning HBO series, Game of Thrones. Skrein portrayed the character Daario Naharis, originally a lieutenant in the “Second Sons,” who takes over the company after killing his superiors and aligns with Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke).

In 2012, Skrein starred in Revolver Entertainment’s critically-acclaimed drama Ill Manors, written and directed by Ben Drew. The film revolves around the lives of eight characters as they struggle to survive on the streets. It takes place over the course of seven days, each story blending into the others, painting a gritty picture of a world on the brink of destruction.

Other film credits include The Sweeney, Tiger House, Piggy, Northmen: A Viking Saga, Sword of Vengeance and Goldfish. Other television credits include The Tunnel.

Ed Skrein currently resides in London.

At the funeral, Upon being taken back to the victim’s father’s apt, Sofia steps on something encased in glass.

After visiting with the brother, Sofia realizes she has the usb. The dead woman put it in her jacket pocket.

Ep. 97: The Dark

Welsh legends and ghost sightings permeate this film. Is the daughter really dead? That is the question. Sean Bean’s character as her father seems to be the stoic sensible one while her mother Maria Bello’s is more desperate to believe anything. Was anyone duped? That’s what we waited to see through the running time of this film.

The Dark (2005)
R | 1h 33min | Horror, Mystery, Thriller | 26 January 2006 (Germany)

In mourning over the tragic drowning of their daughter Sarah, James and Adèle are visited by Ebrill, a young girl who claims she died 60 years ago – and bears a startling resemblance to Sarah.
Director: John Fawcett
Writers: Simon Maginn (novel), Stephen Massicotte (screenplay)
Stars: Sean Bean, Maria Bello, Sophie Stuckey

The director John Fawcett is also a producer, known for Ginger Snaps (2000), and Orphan Black (2013). Ginger Snaps has achieved cult status and is always a hoot to watch for it’s horror and teen ridiculous nature. Orphan Black is a tv show I really enjoyed, mostly due to the lead actress. Both of these works took enormous chances in doing something different. That’s probably why both were so successful.

Sean Bean and Maria Bello do a good job but since Sean Bean is so eponymous with The Lord Of The Rings, I couldn’t help but expect him to pick up a sword or slay and Orc. He wants his ex to accept their daughter is dead because he is rational, not unfeeling. Bello will not accept this and that’s what takes us into the supernatural portion of this film.

I’d have to say this one is a lot more predictable than Fawcett’s other two works I have mentioned. For that reason, I would recommend it as a light mystery/horror but not one you would clear your schedule to see. It does drag on a bit and doesn’t keep you guessing much with it’s simple story line. Add it to your Amazon Prime “worth watching” list, but maybe not your “must see” one.

6/10