Monday Movie: The Little Shop of Horrors, by David Bax

27 Jun

little-shop-robber

Roger Corman’s The Little Shop of Horrors is, in retrospect, kind of an important film in my personal development as a cinephile. As a young boy, I was more than a little taken with Frank Oz’s uneven but definitely watchable film adaptation of the musical version. This is why one day, my father brought home for me a bargain bin VHS copy of the 1960 original, which I had no idea even existed. The box exuberantly touted the appearance of a young Jack Nicholson. It was to be the first Roger Corman film that I would ever see, an important enough milestone on its own. Yet it was also a first in other, more abstract ways. It was in black and white but it wasn’t like the stately, old-seeming black and white movies I would have seen up to that point. It was loose, irreverent and fun, assembled in a charmingly slapdash but nonetheless competent manner. I realize now that it was my first exposure to the independent spirit and it has remained with me, in ways both conscious and subconscious, ever since.

(more…)

Free State of Jones: White Knight, by Tyler Smith

24 Jun

Matthew McConaughey and Bill Tangradi star in FREE STATE OF JONES

Gary Ross’ Free State of Jones is powerful. A Civil War movie in the vein of Edward Zwick’s Glory, the film tells the true story of a rogue farmer rebelling against the Confederacy. This man recruits fellow army deserters and runaway slaves in his fight against military confiscation of land and supplies. Along the way, he breaks down barriers between soldier and civilian, white and black, free and enslaved. Yes, it is indeed a very powerful story. That Ross chooses to tell it is a testament to his ability to recognize compelling drama when he sees it. But unfortunately whatever power his film has is due to the story he is telling, not in the way he tells it. The film he ultimately makes is one whose emotional weight feels counterfeit and unearned, ultimately falling prey to staggering tone-deafness and self-satisfaction.

(more…)

BP Movie Journal 6/23/16

24 Jun

free-state-of-Jones-tulsa

Tyler and David discuss the movies and TV shows they’ve been watching, including:

Movies
A POEM IS A NAKED PERSON
THE RESURRECTION OF JAKE THE SNAKE
MURDERS IN THE RUE MORGUE
MAD MAX: FURY ROAD
THE DUNWICH HORROR
KEANU
LES COWBOYS
THE LODGER
EAT THAT QUESTION
FREE STATE OF JONES

TV
INSIDE AMY SCHUMER
LIE TO ME
UNREAL
SILICON VALLEY

Three: Watch Your Back, by Scott Nye

23 Jun

three

Stripped down to its bare ass, Johnnie To’s Three has no fat, no frills, and no fucks to give. Entirely set in a hospital, we’re barely introduced to the overworked, underperforming Dr. Tong (Vicki Zhao) when in wheels Shun (Wallace Chung), head of a gang of robbers, recently on the receiving end of a discharged police pistol. But he’s refusing treatment, conforted in the certainty his underlings will be along to free him before the bullet does him in. Since he can’t be stitched up, head cop Ken (Louis Koo) has no choice but to wait it all out, hoping the occasional question he can sneak past the medical staff will reveal the criminals’ whereabouts. When he finds out they’re coming right to him, he plots a scheme to take care of everything once and for all. But this being a Johnnie To crime film, nobody’s truly clean.

(more…)

Eat That Question: Frank Zappa in His Own Words: The Central Scrutinizer, by David Bax

23 Jun

zappa

In the interest of full disclosure, let me start by saying that I am not a Frank Zappa fan. I don’t just mean that I’m indifferent; I have actively disliked his music and persona ever since I became aware enough of him to have an opinion (in tenth grade or so). I hate the way his deliberately unpleasant songs seem to be daring you to try to enjoy them and I hate the way, in interviews, he would always hold a self-satisfied stare for a few beats after saying something he thought was incisive. But, as Roger Ebert told us, movies are machines that generate empathy. With this in mind, I embarked on Thorsten Schütte’s Eat That Question: Frank Zappa in His Own Words hoping to leave with, if not an appreciation of the man’s work, at least a better understanding of it. And in many ways (but not all), that’s exactly what happened.

(more…)

Hunt for the Wilderpeople: What We Do in the Bush, by David Bax

23 Jun

HFTWP Ricky (Julian Dennison) and Hec (Sam Neill) go head to head in the wild NZ bush (Credit Kane Skenner) (2)

Taika Waititi’s Hunt for the Wilderpeople is, in many ways, an old-fashioned big screen entertainment but with a modern day sense of humor. It has all the thrills and laughs you could hope to get in return for the cost of a movie ticket. But it also has the final ingredient that elevates a movie beyond mere entertainment. It has heart. Oh, and an adorable pit bull named Tupac.

(more…)

The Neon Demon: They’re Coming to Get You, by Scott Nye

23 Jun

neondemon

The latest film from a trash filmmaker with the sensibilities and tasteful restraint of an antisocial 17-year-old who left home a bit too young, The Neon Demon is indefensible and guileless. Its thesis is simple, bordering on simplistic, but its method of getting there is, if not inspired, then certainly unexpected. Nicolas Winding Refn, awestruck as ever with the cast he assembled, finally found one worth indulging. His overlong, somewhat inelegant set-ups were no friend to Ryan Gosling’s occasionally-robotic stillness. Elle Fanning, Jena Malone, and others have more nuances to play and more resources to play them with. This is not the film of a mature adult, but it is unrepentant and hypnotic and flat-out gross, and it’s hard to resist a film so excited about its own existence.

(more…)

Les Cowboys: Now I Know Just How Much I Have Lost, by David Bax

22 Jun

J26 cow-boys

Between Thomas Bidegain’s directorial debut, Les Cowboys, and Felix van Groeningen’s 2012 The Broken Circle Breakdown (not to mention French metal band Phazm and their album, Antebellum Death ‘n Roll), I’m becoming increasingly fascinated by the subculture of French-speaking Europeans glorifying the music and fashion of the American South. As impressive a film as Broken Circle Breakdown is, though, Les Cowboys manages to improve on it, utilizing the tropes and iconography of cowboy culture to build a new and vital discussion of the way the West (of which multiple definitions apply) has experienced Islamic terrorism in the 21st century.

(more…)

I Do Movies Badly: Them

22 Jun

wallpaper-03-1024

In this episode, Jim discusses David Moreau and Xavier Palud’s Them. 

Criterion Prediction #41: Black Girl, by Alexander Miller

22 Jun

blackgirl

Title: Black Girl

Year: 1966

Director: Ousmene Sembène

Cast: Mbissine Thérèse Diop, Toto Bissainthe, Anne-Marie Jelinek, Robert Fontaine, Momar na Sene, Bernard Delbard

(more…)