Wednesday, July 25, 2012

My 100 Favorite Films of All Time

I am tackling a project on here that I've been thinking about for some time. My 100 favorite films. Not the 100 best films. My favorite films ... a list that is constantly evolving. It wasn't easy to come up with them, and I'm sure the list is going to cause some people to wonder not only about my mental state but also how the hell I ever got to get paid for film reviews. The films that will be on this list are ones I love for many different reasons. There are quite a few I had on it originally that I took off once I thought of a film I liked more. If you ask me in a year or so if this list holds up, I would say it does, but there would be more to be added. The list won't be in any particular order. The number one film won't be my absolute favorite (or maybe it will be). I find that film really changes by genre. It will, however, represent a fairly accurate picture of the kinds of films I like and what makes me appreciate a movie. And it will start with the next post ...

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Torturing a Teenage Girl (Or How I Spent My Summer Vacation)

How do you sit and watch a film like The Girl Next Door?  You most likely know what it is about going into it (a young girl is held captive by her aunt and cousins and then tortured and sexually assaulted, often while her younger sister is forced to watch – based on a true story, by the way).  If you read the book, you have an even better idea of what you are in for before the first frame of film hits your eyes.  Are you expecting to enjoy it?  Are you expecting to be repulsed?  Are you expecting to be turned on?

This is a rough film.  Any film where a teenage girl gets her clitoris burned off with a blow torch is going to be unpleasant to watch.  If you aren’t some deviant, you feel for the girl.  You feel for the boy who is trying to do the right thing.  You don’t wish for bad to happen, but you don’t turn away, either.  This was done deliberately in the book.  Author Jack Ketchum wanted the readers to be implicated in the crimes, too, and it worked.  You kept turning pages, though you didn’t want to.  You kept reading, and with this film you keep watching.

To call the film “good” or “bad” misses the point.  It really can’t be judged in such a way.  It is a competent film that does its job.  Is it worth watching?  Of course.  It won’t make you feel good, though.  You won’t turn it off with a spring in your step.  In fact, you may sit numb for a while, mentally digesting that which should not be digested. 

I could go on about moral problems and how to deal with them.  How do you do the right thing when everyone around you is doing wrong?  That’s what this film asks.  That’s too easy, though.  I’d rather ask: How can you sit and watch this?  What is going through your head when you are watching a young girl stripped naked?  What do you think when you see her parched lips?  Would you take a turn with her, swimming in your brother’s sloppy seconds?  Maybe not, but you are watching.  You can’t take your eyes off the screen.  You can’t look away.  What are you thinking?  That’s what I want to know.  Me?  What was I thinking?  Nothing out of the ordinary, really.  My faith in humanity is pretty low.  This movie only reinforced those thoughts.  People, when given the chance, will revert to animals.  They will string you up and have their way with you.  There’s no honor in it.  There’s not even shame.  They are beneath such things.  They don’t know they exist.  The groupthink is too strong.  The will to hurt and punish unhindered clouds all vision.  It takes a special type of movie to convey that in a meaningful way, and this one does it.  I’d advise you to stay away, but by now you’ve already made your choice.  What, however, did you choose?

Mandatory FTC Disclaimer: I did not receive this film to review.  Clicking on a link earns me some cash and may make you a deviant.


Wednesday, July 4, 2012

A Real Penis-Chomping Good Time

Jenifer is something of an acquired taste.  It is part of the Masters of Horror series, and it is directed by the always wonderful Dario Argento, but it is not a typical Argento film.  Some may say that is a good thing.  Regardless of one’s feelings about one of the undisputed masters of horror, the film deserves some respect. 

The story is fairly simple and straightforward.  It’s all about a cop (Steven Weber) who takes in a woman with an “incredible” body and a hideously deformed face.  She’s a purely sexual being, and she likes to screw and eat cats and children.  Somehow men become obsessed with her, and then the horror begins.  Obviously, it’s not Opera, but it is worth watching.

Admittedly, Argento was what attracted me to this film.  I find the Masters of Horror stuff to be kind of hit-or-miss, but even bad Argento is so much better than a lot of stuff out there, so it was really a win-win for me.  Granted, this felt like his most American film, but as it began I started to find myself forgetting Argento was involved in it and instead became fascinated with Weber.

Weber is perhaps best known for his Brian Hackett character on Wings.  While he was fine on that show, it was the mini-series The Shining that got me to take notice of him.  Going into this film, I really did not know what to expect of him, though, but when I realized that he not only starred in it, but also wrote it (adapting it from a Bruce Jones/Bernie Wrightson story in Creepy), well, I took notice.  From there I listened to him on the DVD and realized:  He’s one of us.  “Us” being the horror film/comic book/Argento-fascinated fandom out there.  He gets it.  He understands it.  He makes the role, and he wrote a pretty good screenplay to be directed by a film legend.  Really, how cool is that?  Very. How daunting is it?  I imagine very, as well.

There are always limits to what you can do in a film and even more so for something that will originally air on television.  Considering the confines of the medium, Argento and Weber did a competent job of making something that enthralls and sickens.  Weber was better on The Shining, and Argento has done far better, but this film has a lot of heart of in it, and one can tell that everyone was fairly excited to be working with the Italian master.  To have Weber outshine Argento is something I wouldn’t have predicted, but his grasp of the material was personal and completely understood.  Witness Weber’s character transformation throughout the film to know what I mean.  Argento may have directed this, but it was Weber’s film.

Jenifer won’t keep you awake at night, and it won’t make you an Argento fan if you aren’t already there, but it will make you take notice of Weber.  Oh, and Carrie Anne Fleming as Jenifer?  Not bad … if you can forget the face … and those teeth that can (and do) easily tear a penis to shreds.   

Mandatory FTC Disclaimer:  I did not receive this film to review.  If, however, you click on a link you may earn me some cash.  Danke.