Friday, August 13, 2010

Film Geek's Most Wanted List

I'm putting the call out there. I'm curious to see what people (including film geeks themselves)
thinks are the must-see films for self-proclaimed celluloid nerd.




Obvious choices

What do you, loyal readers, think that a film enthusiast must see to represent the title properly?

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Things That Give Film Geeks Wet Panties I

Just picked up this sweet looking little book here for mere POCKET CHANGE on

Kubrick, New and Expanded Edition: Inside a Film Artist's Maze

A comprehensive study of the films of Stanley Kubrick.
Stanley Kubrick ranks among the most important American film makers of his generation, but his work is often misunderstood because it is widely diverse in subject matter and seems to lack thematic and tonal consistency. Thomas Nelson's perceptive and comprehensive study of Kubrick rescues him from the hostility of auteurist critics and discovers the roots of a Kubrickian aesthetic, which Nelson defines as the "aesthetics of contingency."

After analyzing how this aesthetic develops and manifests itself in the early works, Nelson devotes individual chapters to Lolita, Dr. Stangelove, 2001: A Space Odyssey, A Clockwork Orange, Barry Lyndon, and The Shining.

For this expanded edition, Nelson has added chapters on Full Metal Jacket and Eyes Wide Shut, and, in the wake of the director's death, reconsidered his body of work as a whole. By placing Kubrick in a historical and theoretical context, this study is a reliable guide into—and out of—Stanley Kubrick's cinematic maze.

I hardly fucking read anymore, but recently was going through a bit of Kubrick reeducation of sorts. I came across this while looking up stuff, and thought it looked very interesting. For three bucks, how could I go wrong?

Wednesday, August 11, 2010


Original Title: Three the Hard Way
Year: 1974
Director: Gordon Parks Jr.
Writer: Eric Bercovici, Jerrold L. Ludwig
Genre: Blaxploitation, Crime, Action

The story involves a white supremist plot to taint the United States water supply with a toxin that is harmless to whites but lethal to blacks. The only obstacles that stand in the way of this dastardly plan are Jim Brown, Fred Williamson and Jim Kelly, who shoot, kick and karate chop their way to final victory.

Whoa... is this the first blaxploitation film I've reviewed here? Odd

Countdownsploitation continues for better or worse. We're takin it all the way to ONE, baby!

Not only am I reviewing my first blaxploitation, we're also taking quite a sharp turn from my little theme here. My original choice for the "two title" was going to be a bloody/horror type film as well, so having 3 heavies with machine guns in a ridiculous action film is a welcome change. I've since changed up my two to keep things mixed a bit. And confession time again, this is another one I watched a month ago, and I have seen 80 (holy fuck) films since then.

Jesus I need a life.

So pardon a very abbreviated review here to just get the ball rolling. This is professionalism, ladies and gentlemen.

Three The Hard Way stars three huge names in the genre. Jim Brown as record producer Jimmy Lait, Fred Williamson as explosive badass Jagger Daniels, and Jim Kelly as martial arts expert Mister Keyes all team up to thwart a neo-nazi plan to poison black people through the public water system.

Yeah, it's that kind of movie.

The story is pretty absurd obviously. It's not the best written, and honestly the pacing and editing of the story is not that great either. I guess technically speaking Three the Hard Way is kind of a mess. But trust me when I say that there is enough sweet shit going on here to keep even moderate fans of the genre entertained. Jimmy Lait's wife is kidnapped after Jimmy stumbles into the supremacist group's plan, and he realizes he needs help from his two old buddies Jagger and Mister to help get her back. Oh, and stop the plan too or something.

 His name is Mister because his mama wanted people to show him respect. Yes.

The first 30 minutes of the film crawls just a touch as everything is being set up, with some gunplay and carsplosions thrown in there, but once the three guys are together it's pretty much nonstop for the last hour.

There is a very bizarre interrogation scene that must have inspired Quentin Tarantino as much as anything else he ever saw, that I would be remiss in leaving out of this discussion. Jimmy, Mister, and Jagger want information from a prisoner, and the best way Jagger knows how is through the help of some business acquaintainces of his who specialize in information extraction.

And they ride Kawasaki bikes in a nice colorful formation.

And they are three sweaty, hot, topless chicks.


Seeing this for the first time, I thought the crew coming in was some white-power special task force with the red/white/blue color scheme and the KKK spelled across the front of the three bikes. Bill from Outside The Cinema has since informed me that they are just Kawasaki bikes, and the K is just the logo. Heh...

The visual of the three of them standing all frustrated and out of breath, an Asian, white, and black together, along with the fact that they are chicks kicking this dude's ass and the mystery behind it all is really a great moment in the film, and probably the highlight for me. One can certainly see this type of playfulness and the over-the-top tough chick theme in Tarantino's work.

You get pretty standard performances from the three leads. None of them are award-winning actors as we all know, but fit very well into the genre. Williamson is probably my favorite with his ever-present cigar and natural charisma. Jim Brown is a good serious-minded type character. I think he may have done some of his own stunts, or at the very least the doubles were very well edited. And Jim Kelly... well... he has a six pack and kicks the shit out of people!

Three the Hard way is a whole stinkin messload of fun. It's a silly film but certainly a crowd pleaser. The soundtrack by The Impressions is solid (if not spectacular for the genre), there's plenty of shotgun/machinegun/grenade/carchase/carsplosion action, and Jim Kelly's grunts as he whips ass are pretty hilarious. That dude must have hated wearing a shirt.

Definitely recommended.

Score: 8 / 10

Tuesday, August 10, 2010


Original Title: 4 mosche di velluto grigio
Year: 1971
Director: Dario Argento
Writer: Dario Argento, Luigi Cozzi (story), Mario Foglietti (story)
Genre: Giallo

A musician is stalked by an unknown killer who's blackmailing him for an accidential killing of another stalker. But is everything what it appears to be?

A bit of a hiatus there from my number themed flicks. Would you expect any less (more) from me?

Four Flies comes from a Dario Argento that hadn't yet reached his prime. (And if you are still counting today, he is well past it.) It is part of an unofficial "Animals Trilogy," consisting of three completely unrelated films that all have an animal in the title. The Bird With The Crystal Plumage, Cat O' Nine Tails, and this film. These were his first three directed films, although he had been a screenwriter for awhile before this. Most likely because it was still early on in his direction career, we don't have the stylish shots that Argento would grow into, but that isn't to say that the film isn't stylish. Also, possibly because it was still early and less focus was being made on his technical craft, the story itself is still strong as well. Later into his career, it seems that his work's focus shifted more to the directional style over the plotlines.

Four Flies follows a somewhat standard giallo structure, with a central character witnessing or experiencing something that finds him either obsessed or helplessly tied up in a dangerous plot. Roberto, played by Michael Brandon, is pretty solid in the role if not remarkable. There's not much in the way of standout acting I found, but there are certainly memorable characters. To me it seems important to have the central "obsessed" character in a giallo be someone who is not way far out there, as the outrageous things need to happen to them for the best effect. Bud Spencer on the other hand plays the bizarre character God (short for Godfrey), a large and larger than life hermit type that lives in a shack beside a river who Roberto visits for advice. In a way this God character reminds me of a similar strange hermit visited by the main character of The Bird With The Crystal Plumage as well. Guess Dario liked the idea and stuck with it.

The main female lead, Mimsy Farmer as Roberto's wife Nina, is OK in bursts but not ultimately compelling as she overacts a bit. Granted, she is dealing with some pretty frightening things, but i'm a bastard, what can I say?

I really like Argento's early work, as I've said, because I feel like it is a good balance between the style and the substance. Four Flies isn't the greatest story ever told, but it's solid enough and has some interesting twists. The ultimate resolution of the film had be guessing until the end and left me satisfied.

The Euro-flavor of much of the shots and structure were strong as well. Nice moody lighting, some great point of view deaths, attacks, etc., interesting camera angles... all kept things feeling fresh even at times when the story threatened to slow down just a bit. There is a neat recurring dream sequence that Roberto experiences showing a criminal being beheaded in a square in the middle east. It is stark and washed out (possibly due partly to the age of the film), but regardless is a stark contrast to the cooler, darker, wetter tones of the rest of the film.

I could go on, but 1- this is a film better seen than described, and 2- I haven't seen this for a month, and my lazy ass is just finishing the review now. Sorry if the review is shitty. I just need to move on already!

Suffice it to say a fan of gialli or Argento or both will have a good time with Four Flies on Grey Velvet. It doesn't reinvent the wheel, but makes the wheel nice and shiny and fun to roll around on.

Score: 7.5 / 10