the thing
director: john carpenter
One of the scariest, creepiest, most disgusting, paranoia-inducing movies ever made - and there ain't a chick in the whole picture. The transfer looks beautiful (check out the colors bouncing offa them flares!), Morricone's synth-minimalism still holds up, Wilford Brimley is insane, and the 'making of' just goes to show that talent to terrify on the screen may have stayed in the 80s, but whatever - a classic for your library.
reviewed by: alec |  July 2005 [link] |  recommend

i'll sleep when i'm dead
director: mike hodges
Clive Owen, Malcolm Mcdowell, Charlotte Rampling and a London Murder Mystery and you have never heard of it because it is most pointless, trite, and boring piece of crap spawned from an adolescent mind I have ever wasted 2 hours on that was not community theatre.

Do not see this unless you hate actors and you enjoy watching them suffer in excrutiating discomfort while trying to dignify a script that is wantonly aimless.
reviewed by: adina |  May 2005 [link] |  recommend

around the world in 80 days!
director: frank coraci
Every time Jackie Chan says the name of the lead character Phineas Fogg, it sounds like another four-letter word that starts with F, if you follow my drift. The movie is shot in wacky-bombastic CGI-vision, filled with bad acting and incredibly odd celebrity cameos--I suggest watching it if you want to feel like you're high, but you're not, because the movie is so surreal.
reviewed by: victoria |  February 2005 [link] |  recommend

director: david cronenberg
Debbie Harry, James Woods, and Canada's most notorious filmmaker collaborate on this 1980 cult classic about the head of a tv station who finds the pirate signal to a porn channel involving torture and ultimately mind control. Maybe it was groundbreaking at the time, but its commentary about medium, message, desensitization and consumption seems dated if quaint.
reviewed by: adina |  November 2004 [link] |  recommend

bad santa
director: terry zwigoff
Ignore morality tale for funniest low-brow comedy in years. Plus Lauren Graham from Gilmore Girls saying 'fuck me Santa" repeatedly while said deed is occuring in a beat-up car.
reviewed by: blaine |  July 2004 [link] |  recommend 2 thumbs up

devil's playground
director: lucy walker
this is an incredible documentary exploring the amish tradition called "rumspringa" where 16 year old amish kids are allowed to go out into the world and decide whether or not they want to get baptized and join the church. basically, it's up to two years of spring break for these kids. drinking, smoking, sex and drugs is pretty much the name of the game. they get jobs, get cars, get non-amish boyfriends/girlfriends and they're off! the filmmakers follow several teens as one gets into serious drugs (dealing and using), one completely leaves the church and is shunned by her family and friends and one that ends up joining the church. unbelievably, a factoid at the end says that nearly 90% do decide to stay amish.

watching it sparked a lot of discussion on "english" society and amish culture and at 77 minutes you can afford to watch it.

(obviously, i forgot this was only supposed to be a two sentence review. well, i'm not going to delete it now. you'll just have to read two sentences at a time and keep coming back till yer finished)

reviewed by: lisa may |  April 2004 [link] |  recommend 1 thumbs up

pieces of april
director: peter hedges
Actually seen on VHS, due to my burgeoning provinciality, this movie combines two great loves of mine -- Katie Holmes and Stephin Merritt. Aside from my taste, this is genuinely funny and moving little independent that is sad without being dark and laughs at people without making fun of them.
reviewed by: blaine |  March 2004 [link] |  recommend 4 thumbs up

in the company of strangers
director: cynthia scott
Movies about old people make me cry.
I saw an incredible film this weekend on video called In the Company of Strangers, or Strangers in Good Company, as IMDB calls it. It is a gorgeous, deceptively simple Canadian film, where "A busload of women become stranded in an isolated part of the Canadian countryside. As they await rescue, they reflect on their lives through a mostly ad-libbed script." The old women are simply incredible to to watch with their idiosynchratic, authentic gestures and vanities.
reviewed by: adina |  January 2004 [link] |  recommend 2 thumbs up

gods & generals
director: ron maxwell
My avant-garde version of this Ted Turner financed film would be a giant of a Moses-like (what?) Stonewall Jackson standing in a field and talking to heaven for three hours--in this version it's only about 45 minutes--the rest is battles, which are detailed, and well-orchestrated, as are the DVD extras which one must watch to lessen the weirdness of the film's historical slant. It's only audience may be the tens of thousands of Civil War reenactors who star in it, which is a shame--so watch it late at night with your mouth open and your favorite pipe handy and a time portal back to the 1939 when films like this got made, and thank heaven that 'The Patriot' people didn't get hold of this script or Stonewall Jackson's character would have been renamed Stanly Johnson.
reviewed by: john ball |  August 2003 [link] |  recommend

25th hour
director: spike lee
My favorite genre of movie is the one where you know someone's destiny and they do too but they can't change shit so you just watch it play out. If you like that genre of movie you will like this movie, unless perhaps you are a right-wing typer, in which case you probably wouldn't spend the 3 bucks to rent a Spike Lee Joint anyhow.
reviewed by: klutch.xls |  June 2003 [link] |  recommend 1 thumbs up

this is spinal tap
director: rob reiner
I love the movie, and the DVD version has tons of features like the hilarious film trailers and an introduction by Marty DiBergi. But, what makes this a standout is the commentary track with the band that is almost as funny as the movie itself – definitely check out that feature.
reviewed by: rich |  May 2003 [link] |  recommend

superman-the movie
director: richard donner
Let me just start by saying this is a great movie. I hadn't watched this in it's entirety in over 15 years and I have to say that I like it more now than I did when I first saw it a the tender age of ten. The main difference between this movie and the Batman series and the dreck that inspired is this movie is a class act. I have often said that the seventies is my favorite film era, I mean even their blockbusters were intelligent (look at Jaws and CE3K). One of the reasons I think this movie works is because even though throughout the thing they are making references to the city of Metropolis it is apparent that this is happening in New York City. It's happening in a place we recognize and that is a part of reality. In the Batman movies you are constantly aware that everything is a set, there is nothing organic about it. Superman is big; it's an epic of old school proportions. Just the fact that you don't even see Superman until you're over an hour into the film is a testament to its ability to tell a story that you care about.
Let's look at what went into this.
First of all there's a script that passed through the hands of Mario Puzo and Robert (Chinatown) Benton. There's the talent on the screen, Gene Hackman is a terrific villain and watching it this time I realized how great Christopher Reeve is in this: he is really playing two very different characters. You had old school titans like Glenn Ford as Pa Kent and child star Jackie Cooper as Perry White, this thing is chock full of gems. The film has a timeless look about it; you are aware that it's set in the seventies but at the same time the style of dress and the snappy dialogue is evocative of a screwball comedy.As for the DVD release of this film, in short it is the bomb. If you can get past the god-awful packaging (rainbow streaming through a silver S…..c’mon) and really pull this apart, this is chock full of gems. There are three different documentaries about the making of the first two films that are really compelling (I didn’t know that they shot I and II at the same time).
There are a few deleted scenes and it’s a lot of fun to see Christopher Reeve’s screen tests. In one of the commentaries someone says that the film would not have worked with an established actor, I strongly agree with this. There’s been a lot of talk over the past couple of years about making another Superman film or re-starting the “franchise” as it were. I think that would be a big mistake, as my buddy Tony said, “Do we really want to see Superman in black leather listening to techno.” I remember when they were going to make a new film a few years back and they had cast Nicholas Cage as the man of steel. There was this whole dilemma about first they didn’t want to use the cape, and then they didn’t want to use the red underwear.Christopher Reeve is so natural and the film is so damn good it never crosses your mind how ridiculous this should look. Do we really need to see a Superman in a rubber body suit with fake muscles? My vote is no.Just a little anecdote, when I was through watching this DVD and I had been thinking a lot of things I wrote here; I turned of my player and what was on TV but Batman and Robin (you know, the one with Clooney). I chuckled to myself as I thought I had just watched the one that got it right and now I was watching the one that got it so wrong.
reviewed by: JohnLawton |  May 2001 [link] |  recommend

director: stephen spielberg
What can you say about this film that hasn't been said, it is just amazing and it loses nothing even when you're old enough to realize that the shark looks like crap. There is so much in this film to be blown away by, it is a masterpiece of suspense: even though you know Richard Dreyfuss is going to get out of the shark cage alive it still scares the hell out of you. This is the type of summer blockbuster that the studios should start making again, I mean the first hour of the movie is all character you don't get the "action" until the last half hour. The performances are top notch, Roy Scheider hasn't done a better film since (and no, Blue Thunder doesn't count). This film is also a bit of nostalgia for Uncle Johnny since he grew up in a beach community as well. I saw this at the drive-in with "White Line Fever" (a trucker movie with Jan-Michael Vincent) and it scared the short pants off of me and made me hit the bottle and stay out of the water. The extra stuff on the DVD is nothing all that exciting, the deleted scenes were best left deleted, except for a very funny yet extraneous bit with Robert Shaw going to buy piano wire.

The "making of" stuff is pretty good, there's a cheesy trivia game which you have to play just to see Roy Scheider blow up the shark. It's just nice to have a pristine copy of one of my generations classics. Also, I just realized watching this that the scene in "Chasing Amy" where the characters compare cunnilingus wounds is an homage to the scene where Dreyfuss and Shaw are comparing scars... who knew. I love this goddamned movie.
reviewed by: JohnLawton |  October 2000 [link] |  recommend

fight club
director: david fincher
This DVD is the reason my player "fell" off the truck in the first place. This 2 disk set is one of the best DVD's I've seen so far (second to the Rushmore:Criterion Edition disk). First of all disk 2 is all extra stuff on the making of the film, fake catalogues, production art, and a couple of brilliant PSA's by the film's leads Ed Norton and Brad Pitt. The film itself looks incredible and the sound is amazing (it made me wish Papa Lucas would get of his ass and install some THX action down here in the bunker), I felt like I was getting my ass kicked (well, not really but it was a pretty exciting experience nonetheless). There are four different sets of running commentaries discussing all the various aspects of bringing this film to the screen. Even the packaging is great, the cover is done up to look like a brown paper bag. The booklet that comes with it has various blurbs from reviews of the film, the positive alongside the negative ones. Whoever threw this one together really knew what they were doing. Next time you stop by the bunker we'll throw this fucker on and then maybe we can slap each other around afterwards….and remember "no one has the right to touch you in your bathing suit area
reviewed by: JohnLawton |  September 2000 [link] |  recommend

aliens: 20th anniversary edition
director: ridley scott
Down here at the bunker we love scary movies, in fact this joint is lousy with stuff going bump in the night. Aliens is a classic, the type of film that knows what you don't see is a hell of a lot scarier than what you do see. So I fixed myself a Scotch Grande and hunkered down in front of the tube and sooner than you can shout "Goddamit, don't go back for the f-----g cat, what the f----s wrong with you" I was hooked all over again.

This letterboxed DVD looks amazing and sounds fantastic, Ridley Scott was definitely onto something back in the day, between this film and Blade Runner he created a distinct look for the future which has been copied numerous times since.

Build-up is everything in this film, it takes it's time telling the story and when the alien is introduced you know trouble is on it's way, but you're on pins and needles waiting for it to happen. The scene where the alien busts out of John Hurt's chest still rocks too.

As for extra stuff, there are a ton of deleted scenes which don't add much to the film except for this one amazing scene where Ripley finds Dallas still alive in an alien cocoon… cool. There's also storyboards and a gallery of marketing art (posters, novelizations, lobby cards, that sorta stuff). You can also peruse the production art from the likes of HR Giger if you really wanna be up all night.

Scary stuff.
reviewed by: JohnLawton |  August 2000 [link] |  recommend

half japanese -the band that would be king
director: jeff feuerzeig
Highly entertaining documentary about the one of the most unique bands of all time. The focus of the film are short interviews with the band members themselves and gushing commentary by their legion of fans, it might not be objective but it is inspiring. One of the main things I brought away from this film was a better understanding of what Half Japanese is all about as a band: sometimes the songs may be goofy but they take it all very seriously and that comes across throughout the film. The scenes with the hipper-than-thou fellow from Forced Exposure are hilarious and remind me of that music snob we all knew in college (or who we were in college) that never really grew out of it. There is an incredible scene where Penn Jillette tells an insane story about how he saved the masters for the "Charmed Life" album. Top notch stuff.

The DVD extras are pretty great as well: first off there's the blue screen opus "Half Japanese: Live From Hell", a great performance video featuring a crayon decorated hell, skeleton dancing girls, and an aluminum foil Godzilla. Then there's a performance on a public access program from 1985 called "The Scott & Gary Show"…..hours of fun for all.
reviewed by: JohnLawton |  August 2000 [link] |  recommend 2 thumbs up

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