Quick Review : A Night to Remember (1958)

Directed By – Roy Ward Baker
Starring – Kenneth More, Ronald Allen, Robert Ayres, Honor Blackman, Anthony Bushell, and Michael Goodliffe

Ahhh, a film about the Titanic. I remember reading about it in elementary school and then waiting a whole year to see the James Cameron version on VHS. Remember when it used to take a whole year for a film to be released on home video? It’s like two months now. Crazy. I wasn’t allowed to see it in theaters because my mother heard there was boob in it. I remember being shocked when a few classmates were able to go see it with their families. “DID YOU SEE ANY BOOB?” I would ask. They saw boob. They also saw a ship of 2300 people go down and over a thousand people die, but hey, Kate Winslet got nakey. I think it actually took me three or four viewings before I even got to see her naked. My parents would watch the film before hand, figure out precisely the moment before she got naked, pause the movie, and tell me it’s time for bedtime. I saw through their shit. I stuck out of bed one night and watched that whole damn movie at three in the morning. You know what’s funny? I didn’t give a shit about Kate Winslet naked. I gave about as much of a shit as I do now, which is not much. I was more interested in rewinding the part where the guys legs hit the propeller blade and he does like 12 flips before he hits the water. Wasn’t childhood fun?

Anyway, that film sucks for the most part. In watching the “original” version from Criterion I learned a few things. James Cameron takes other filmmakers ideas and recreates them using his fancy technology. I’d honestly rather watch a Michael Bay film instead of a James Cameron film not named T2 because I think that guy sucks that much. I admitted to taking a lot of ideas, characters, and even full lines from the original film, so I can’t say that he stole from this film, but my god is he an unoriginal bastard. You remember that scene where the band plays as the ship is sinking? Re-done. Mr. Andrews going down with his creation? Re-done. Fuck, even the gypsie dance, the iceberg hockey, and the fact that they cast Kathy Bates to mimic everything Tucker McGuire did as “Molly Brown”. All re-done. There was so much more heart and soul in this film that “Titanic” couldn’t even touch with a ten foot pole. The look of terror on the kids faces. The snobby way the 1st class passengers treated the steerage passengers. It was just better. Hell, I even got a little teary eyed during the end. Titanic never had that effect on me. Not for a second.

“A Night to Remember” is a great telling of what happened on that ship. They used actual survivor stories to recreate that night and it shows. The terror that those people must have lived through was accurately portrayed by a crew in a studio. The film is a fantastic document of that night. The last 30 minutes in particular being pretty damn fantastic. I recommend seeing this film if you liked the James Cameron version even a little. It’s a vastly superior film.

4/5



Biscuits & Trail Mix

Sorry for the wait. It’s been a while since my last post. I’ve been pretty busy lately with work, friends, family and things like finally picking up a book and and football starting (NINERS! YEAH!). Here’s some biscuits…

- I have seen a few movies recently that I chose not to write about due to lack of either interest or procrastination. These films include Freaks, The Arbor, and Blow Up. I just didn’t find a lot to write about with these ones even though I really did enjoy Freaks. The Arbor and Blow-Up were a bit disappointing.
– Has anybody been to the fucking movie theater recently? Ugggghhhh I hate September. Thankfully there are some great films coming out soon including The Drop, The Skeleton Twins, The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby, and Tusk. Some of those trailers and more will be below.
– Did I mention football? I may be more 49er fan than movie nerd. It’s been a passion of mine for about fifteen years now. They kicked the shit out of Tony Romo yesterday so I’m pretty happy.
– Please check out my 2014 Films page and see if you missed any great films from the beginning of the year. They may be out on home video now. I know that Only Lovers Left Alive and Enemy are. That is reason enough.

Here are some trailers until I get some time to watch my next film. I should be watching “Korengal” tomorrow night. The first are all coming out in the next three weeks.

September 12th

Yeah, I literally can’t wait for this. I love Tom Hardy. I love James Gandolfini. I love Noomi Rapace. I love and own “Bullhead”. I love Dennis Lehan adaptions. You know, this is probably going to suck and ruin all this hype I built up for myself but I’ve read that there were standing ovations at TIFF (Toronto International Film Festival” so I’m expecting brilliance. Plus, that puppy is adorable.

September 12th

I laughed…A LOT…during this preview. Two of my favorite funny people being funny. Sign me up.

September 12th

There’s something about this one that intrigues me. Maybe it’s the acting or maybe because…

The project has one of the most unique structures in cinema. It was shot as a two-part movie, which follows the story of the couple played by James McAvoy and Jessica Chastain from both of their point of view. The two films premiered in 2013 at the Toronto Film Festival. After the premiere, although it received rave reviews, Ned Benson started cutting the movie again, as a one feature, which premiered at the Cannes Film Festival. All three movies received a theatrical release.

I have no idea how I’m going to see this but I’m going too.

September 19th

Justin Long acting like a jackass? Haley Joel Osment as a fat radio DJ? Walrus experiment? Michael Fucking Parks? Sign me up.

September 19th

Looks weird as shit. I love Gilliam. I’ll be seeing this. From the trailer, it looks like Christoph Waltz was made for this role. Also, did I see Tilda Swinton with another mouth piece and weird accent? Every movie should be doing this now. Every one.

October 10th

Looks like a crazy psychotic ride on the JK Simmons train. Miles Teller is turning into a great actor and this should be his best role yet. It won the grand jury prize at Sundance by the way.

October 17th

This is my movie. If this isn’t my favorite movie of the year I’m going to be very disappointed. The return of Michael Keaton to actual prominence. It is apparently edited to look like a single take, like, the entire fucking film. I’m going to nerd out ALL over this.

October 31st

I think this film is going to disturb and entertain me while also driving in the fact that Jake Gyllenhaal is only beginning to become one of the best actors of our time. He looks bonkers in this film and I love that.

Quick Hits : Cheap Thrills (2014) & The Illusionist (2010)

Directed By – E.L. Katz
Starring – Pat Healy, Ethan Embry, David Koechner, and Sara Paxton

Everybody has those conversations with their buddies over a couple beers. “What would you do for X amount of money?” I’m sure that 99% of the things that get brought up would never actually get done. I’m 100% sure that some of the things that happen in this film would never be done, unless your buddies are a bunch of desperate people willing to degrade themselves for a little cash. My moral standards are pretty strong but knowing what it’s like not to have money makes me wonder…what would I do for $25,000? The film centers around Craig and Vince. Craig is an unemployed father and husband who needs almost five grand in a week or else he loses his apartment. Vince is an old friend who basically only exists as an asshole who hasn’t made anything of his life. They run into each other at a bar and end up making friends with a couple who can’t seem to stop spending money. The party heads back to the couples house where unveil their plan to challenge Vince and Craig to dares or tasks in exchange for money. It snowballs from there.

The film boasts a great cast with Pat Healy and David Koechner stealing the show. Ethan Embry, who reminded me he’s still a person, does a serviceable job and Sara Paxton kind of just breezes through this one but her character wasn’t really called upon to do much. The film gets a little gross, a little bloody, and features a pretty nice ending. It’s not something that will knock your socks off. Being the first feature of the director there are pacing issues. The lead up to the “game” takes way too long unfold and there were some character arcs that didn’t seem to go anywhere. It was however a pretty decent way to make your first feature film. I’d recommend it for horror fans.

3/5

Directed By – Sylvain Chomet
Starring – Jean-Claude Donda and Eilidh Rankin

No, this is not the one with Edward Norton. This is the film that was nominated by the Academy for Best Foreign Language Film in 2010. The director happened to make one of my favorite animated films ever “The Triplets of Bellville”. The story follows a magician trying to make money hits the road to Scotland where he meets a young woman who follows him on his journey. I honestly didn’t get sucked into the story on this one. The animation and beautiful score are what made the film enjoyable to me. The various illusions and magic tricks that the magician does were pretty mesmerizing. The night scenes in streetlight backed streets of Scotland were gorgeously done. The score was engaging and just fit the scenery so well. Chomet and his animation team really know how to use colors and music together to create an immerse film. Like “Bellville”, the film doesn’t have much dialogue so the animation has to pick up the slack. It does. It certainly does.

The story just didn’t do it for me. The magical settings painted in the beginning of the film just sort of floated away by the films end. It got really sad and depressing. I understood the theme of the film but that kind of mood switch threw me for a bit of a loop. I wanted to stay in the happy place. Besides that it’s an excellent animated film and proof that Sylvain Chomet and his team are one of the top animation teams in the business. It isn’t just Pixar.

3.5/5

I had a bad day today.

Well, this happened today…

I inspect houses for a living. Some of these houses are vacant properties. I have never really had any trouble besides nosey neighbors. I’ve had the cops called on me once but that worked itself out really quickly. I still have a guard up when I go into houses but I know the signs that somebody has been there after doing this for two years. Today was different.

I had a house today in Union City that I’ve been doing for the last six months. I’ve never been inside. One reason is because it’s in a run down area of the city, not dangerous per say, but just crummy. The other reason is because there is just nowhere to park on this street. I usually end up parking on the sidewalk for a few minutes. I just say that the door is open even though it never is, and I take a few exterior photos and move on. I got the job today and when I showed up there was a notice on the door. I get out, o over to the door, and read that there is a new securing company that is maintaining the property. They boarded the open windows on the top floor. They changed the deadbolt and lockbox. Since I had actually gotten a parking spot this time, I decided to give it a go and do the interior inspection.

I opened the door and immediately was met with a horrible odor. It’s common. The best way to describe it is as a mixture of mold, garbage, and decaying wood and plaster. There was a lot of debris on the floor and when I tried going into the room next to me the door was black by all the ceiling tiles that had fallen off. I decided to report the bottom of the house as unpassable. The house, being a duplex, had stairs right next to the front door leading to the top unit. I walked upstairs and as I crested the last stair noticed two bedrooms and a bathroom behind me and the kitchen in front of me. There was also a lot of debris in the kitchen. I stepped on a fluorescent light .bulb and decided I couldn’t go any further. I decided that I should just photo the two bedrooms and bathroom and be on my way.

I turned the corner to the first bedroom. There, on the floor, was a mattress. The mattress had two people on it. My eyes went from the woman’s feet to her head at the exact moment her head popped off her sweatshirt pillow. I yelled. She yelled. We both scared the absolute shit out of each other. She didn’t hear me come through the door due to either being very asleep or probably because she was on drugs. My guard was down the whole time throughout the inspection due to the smell and the overall condition of the house. I just didn’t feel like somebody could possible be in there. There was though. A couple (I presume) had somehow gotten into the house and were using it as a crash pad for whatever they were doing. The woman was around 35 and was some sort of Spanish. The guy was black.

With a loss of breath I told them that this was a vacant house. The woman was immediately apologetic. I was trying to catch my breath as she kept telling me that she was sorry and to please not call the cops. The guy she was with was awake but didn’t seem like he gave a shit as to what was going on. I think they were doing heroin. His face reminded me of my brothers. I told her that I wasn’t police and that I wasn’t going to call them. I told her that I was inspecting the house for the mortgage company. I asked her how she got in. She told me the front door was open. I told her it was locked when I got here and she said they locked it behind them. She begged me not to call anybody. I said I wouldn’t. I looked around and she caught me looking and told me that she isn’t doing so well right now. It was after that sentence that she began to cry. Her face started to break and she began to sob. I told her it was okay, for her not to be worried and that I wasn’t going to report it. I told her to find another place because this house is being maintained and looked after but that they had time to find one. I said sorry one more time and then I left. The last thing I saw was her face as I turned around. She was utterly defeated and alone. I was almost running to the car before I realized what I walked into.

Until then, the life that she had somehow found herself in was only seen by her and the people she chose to let in. The people her saw her like that were in the same boat. They were homeless, broke, and most likely addicted to drugs. She didn’t want to be in that house. She didn’t want anybody who had their shit together to see her at a moment long past losing her shit. I walked right into the lowest point in her life. She was embarrassed. She was sad. She was alone.

I don’t mean to ruin any good mood that any of you are having. It was a really heavy and visceral experience for me, one that I don’t want to have happen again. It made me think of my brother. It made me think that him being in jail the last couple months may have prevented him being in the same spot as that woman. I’ll never forget her face. Not for a long, long time.

Film Review : Surf Nazis Must Die (1987)

IMDB Score – 3.3
Netflix Watch Instant

Directed By – Peter George
Starring – Gail Neely, Robert Harden, Barry Brenner, Dawn Wildsmith, Michael Sonye, Joel Hile, Gene Mitchell, Tom Shell, and Bobbie Bresee

When the grandson of a gun wielding woman is murdered by neo-nazi surf punks in the post-apocalyptic future, this grandma hunts them down for some bloodthirsty revenge.

So Vern over at Video Vortex asked me to watch and review a film produced by the wonderfully disgusting and critically lauded Troma, which has been made infamous by it’s Toxic Avenger series and various other cult flicks. He suggested “Surf Nazis Must Die” which is streaming on Netflix and I accepted the challenge.

You can visit Vern’s musings on Troma HERE

Guys, I’m going to spoil the shit out of this so this is your warning.

Having only seen the first Toxic Avenger film(one of my first reviews), I could only imagine what kind of filth I was in store for. It turned out that while the film was equally as appalling in terms of story, acting, camera work, production value, moral compass, knowledge of history, and rampant sexism/racism…it wasn’t nearly as good as Toxie. The first Toxic Avenger film had a sort of ambition that, even though the film is a garbage pit, I can’t remember seeing a film that was so funny and random. I’ll take a bad 80’s film over a modern comedy any day. Perhaps this is just because I have a strange sense of humor, but I find the attempt to make interesting cinema and coming out with horrendous slop hysterical. While the premise behind Surf Nazis is certainly insane, the villains just didn’t do enough heinous acts as I would have expected from Neo-Nazis. I wasn’t kidding when I said there was no knowledge of any historical logic. There is no explanation or even a hint of why they are Nazis. They don’t practice the Nazi philosophy or engage in any acts against people they find inferior. They are simply a bunch of hooligans who occasionally surf and cause damage and physical harm…who just so happen to have swastikas plastered all over their clothes. The leader of the group is named Adolf and while he spouts the occasional German word and Nazi high sign from time to time, there really isn’t any other tie in with Nazis. It’s like they picked something evil to act like and then forgot how to act like them. The gang it turns out is just a bunch of goons.

The setting of the film is “sometime in the near future” which says a lot considering that can be pretty much anytime from now and the year 3057. There was apparently an earthquake in California which displaced everybody along the coast and killed 80,000 people. You would think that the scenery would be a little bit more destroyed but there isn’t really anything resembling a chaotic wasteland besides the fact that there is not a single police officer in sight. Apparently they all just decided to move their squads to Ohio. That however does not deter little old ladies from going to the beach, where these gangs hang out, and getting mugged by these Nazis. The whole earthquake back story doesn’t make a dicks worth of sense but that isn’t why I’m watching this film. I’m watching it because these Nazis fucking SURF.

They literally surf all day. The film is filled with about six different surfing montages that last a couple minutes and are set to 8 bit 80s music. It was like Blue Crush if Kate Bosworth was a Nazi. Then, somebody burned their surfboards and these nice and charming Nazis decided to become actual murders and end up murdering this elderly black ladies son. Black lady then decides to get revenge and fucks up the Nazis little uprising. Does that sound rushed? Well, it was rushed for me as I looked down for one second and all of a sudden there is an older black lady killing a bunch of Nazis. The story isn’t important anyway. These films are enjoyed because of the little bits of humor stuffed into the actors performances and the complete what the fuck moments in the script. For instance…

- Adolf, the leader of the Nazis, was TOTALLY the inspiration for the voice of Daniel Plainview from “There Will Be Blood”. Daniel Day Lewis owes that Oscar to Adolf.
– There is a Nazi with a hook for a hand. His name is Hook
– At one point, a rival gang member utters the brilliant line, “What’s this all about Kraut?”
– Speaking of rival gangs, they’re the highlight of the film. They include bikers, fashion surfers, sewer pipe dwellers, samurai surfers, and skateboarding kids. The meeting that they had was amazing.
– “What? Nobody wants to slamdance?”
– The black lady is shown her sons corpse for identification and during the viewing the coroner asks her is he could get her anything. YEAH! CAN I GET A ICE COLD PEPSI WHILE I LOOK AT MY DEAD SON?
– One of the younger Nazis has a mom who is fully aware of her sons activities yet treats it like he’s been caught smoking cigarettes. ARE YOU GOING TO HANG OUT WITH THAT NO GOOD ADOLF NAZI GANG LEADER AGAIN?

There were some pretty great humorous scenes but I honestly wanted a bit more gore. This is what Troma is famous for along with the cheesy dialogue and bad acting and I feel like I only got two thirds of that wonderful mixture. Would I recommend seeing this film? Yes. I would. Why? Well, because it’s batshit insane and you need to balance your movie viewings so that you don’t raise your expectations to a level that can’t be matched. If you watch a couple of shitty 80s movies, the next Michael Bay film might look a little better in your eyes. Actually, no. I take that back. Troma is WAY better than Michael Bay.

Bad Movie Rating – 3/5