Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Sirenia: My Mind's Eye

Music Video Code by Metal Video

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The Libertine

The Libertine stars Johnny Depp as 17th poet, playwright and all-round reprobate John Wilmot, better known as the Earl of Rochester. Played with a wonderful combination of exuberance and despair by Johnny Depp, Wilmot opens the film with a prologue during which he declares "You will not like me". And he's right.

John Wilmot is portrayed as the 17th Century version of a self-absorbed rock star. Self-indulgent, self-absorbed, self-loathing, with emphasis on the "self". Talented but lazy, intelligent but crude, lionized yet isolated, Depp portrays the dissipated Wilmot like a spoiled rock star in the mold of Axl Rose or Nikki Sixx--an out of control Bad Boy whom no one has told to grow up. As Wilmot's looks and health succumb to the ravages of syphilis, he increasingly resembles Freddy Mercury in his final days.

The movie is not perfect, by any means. It suffers from a certain air of "staginess" and the script occasionally loses focus, resulting in periods that are bordering on tedious. Less emphasis on Wilmot's relationship with actress Elizabeth Barrie and more on that with King Charles II (wonderfully played by John Malkovich) would have improve the plot considerably. Many of the supporting characters are flat and lifeless, and there is no real antagonist to the story.

Reactions to the movie show that there is no middle ground. You will love it, or you will loathe it. Of the negative reviews I've read on Amazon, about 70% seem to be from women who picked up the movie solely because Johnny Depp was in it, and were disappointed to find such a dark and depressing story. Another 20% were from people who objected to the vulgarity of the movie (making me wonder what the hell they were expecting of a movie called "The Libertine"), with the remaining 10% of viewers who knew what they were getting into, and sincerely gave the movie a chance.

Perhaps it's best to think of The Libertine as a very, very dark counterpoint to Shakespeare in Love, a movie that it very much resembles in many ways. Don't let that mislead you into thinking that this is a feel-good movie, however, because that is one thing that it most definitely is not.

The Weekend.

It was a busy weekend, but pleasantly so.

Sunday was my wife's birthday, so we skipped out of town on Saturday afternoon for a family getogether with cake and ice cream. Then it was back to town in time for the show. As part of her present, my wife programmed the entire show, and she did a fantastic job! Saturday we watched "Yankee Doodle Dandy" together (a gift from my parents) before going out to dinner with friends. For anyone who hasn't seen it, I heartily recommend it. One of Cagney's finest moments (and I've been a fan of Cagney's gangster movies since I was young lad). All in all it was a great weekend, marred only when my wife had a nasty fall on some ice in our parking lot.

On a slightly sadder note, I found out this weekend that Bill Landis, co-editor of Sleazoid Express magazine, died not too long ago. Although I've never read the magazine, I have a copy of his excellent book of the same name that gives a history of grindhouse films and the theatres that played them. A vital resource for anyone interesting in exploitation, cult and bizarre movies from the 60's, 70's and 80's. Ironically just a couple of days before reading the news my friend Eddie and I were talking about the infamous "Ilsa" movies and he was asking me about tracking some similar fare, and I immediately recommended he read Sleazoid Express (the book) for suggestions. It's a small world indeed. Bill Landis, R.I.P.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Chanbara Beauty: The Movie

Before I start, I should mention that I’ve never even heard of, let alone played, the videogame that this movie is based on. On the whole, I doubt it makes much difference, but I’m willing to concede that some of the niggling little complaints I may have about Chanbara Beauty might stem from the original source material. Caveat delivered. On with the show…

What can you say about a movie that is stuffed to the seams with zombies; a bikini-clad assassin with a sword; a leather clad biker babe with a gun; zombies; an evil, sword-wielding hench-girl in school uniform; buckets of blood and gore, zombies; a sadistic mad scientist bent on world domination; and zombies?

Did I mention zombies? And we aren't talking about yer flaccid, shuffling western zombies either. These bastards can move...

It’s the near future, and science has created a process by which the dead return to life as flesh eating zombies (why this is desirable process is never explained, natch). Aya (a young assassin who for some reason has adopted the costume of a red bikini complimented by a white feather boa and cowboy hat) is searching for her younger sister, who has thrown in with the evil scientist. She and her sidekick team up with Reiko, the aforementioned biker-babe who is seeking revenge on the scientist. The fat, jovial sidekick is also seeking his younger sister, kidnapped by the same evil scientist. The plot is pretty much by the numbers—get to the scientist’s hideout, slaughter their way through the zombies, and kill the madman, followed by the final confrontation between the sisters.

Perhaps not surprisingly, the movie works best when it’s in non-stop action mode. On the rare occasions when it pauses for exposition or “character development”, the movie seems very forced and awkward, but once the zombies appear and the severed limbs start flying, hold on to your popcorn! The back story of the Aya and her sister is told adequately through flashbacks, but doesn’t really add anything to the story except provide an excuse for their final showdown.

The showdown takes up the final 15 minutes, and while it starts out fine, it quickly lapses into the two girls grimacing at each other and screaming “Aaaaiieeeee!” while colourful special effects swirl around them. I’m sure this is where the movie is most influenced by it’s original source, and certainly the special effects are pretty to look at, but 15 minutes of it is frankly too long.

That being said, Chanbara Beauty provides enough thrills and eye-candy to pass a pleasantly mindless hour and a half or so.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Chanbara Beauty Trailer

I saw this movie a couple of days ago and I'm working on a review. Until then, here's the trailer to whet your appetite...

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

A few changes....

As you've no doubt noticed, there's been a dearth of updates so far this year.

Part of that's been real-life issues. A rotten, miserable flu, and a busy time at work. In the cyber-realm, my original affiliate has closed down, leaving me with no alliliate, and no conent.

Enter the good folks at HKFlix--an excellent site that offers a variety of movies, with emphasis on Asian movies.

Now if there's one thing I love as much as metal, it's movies, and HKFlix has the Asian horror, fantasy and martial arts movies that I crave--movies that are seldom available on Amazon, and almost never available locally.

For non-Asian genre movies that HKFlix may not carry, I'm still looking for a secondary affliate, but thankfully I will have links and graphics that will keep the blog looking fresh. Also, HKFlix has a deal where my reviews of movies that they carry may end up on their website, which in turn will link back to my blog, giving me a little exposure.

On a sadder note, it appears that the metal video's that I was posting up have been removed by the host. Hopefully these are isolated removals, but just in case I'm also looking around for another source of metal videos.

So now you're up to date, keep watching this space. I'm working on a couple of movie reviews, including one for Hysteria: The Def Leppard Story, which I caught on TV last weekend.