Tuesday, November 23, 2010


Let's start with my failure to complete my October challenge.

Road Games - Jamie Lee Curtis and Stacy Keach star in this Aussie made tribute to Hitchcock, channeling Rear Window through the eyes of a ex-pat trucker in the outback, on the trail of a man in a green van that may or may not be killing female hitchhikers. This film was quite spectacular. Its smart, clever, and very well done. The cinematography was quite inventive at times, and Stacy Keach, well, he's charismatic and a marvel to watch. Which is great, because a lot of the film is him in the cab of a truck talking to his dingo (or himself).

The Horde - I was excited about watching this. It wasn't as great as I'd hoped it would be, it did lag at times, but it does feature some great combat sequences. This film will from now on be credited with adding a splash of hand to hand combat to zombie films. Yes, that's right, people throwing down with zombies. Its pretty awesome.

So, that's only 16 films out of 31. Failure! I may have actually watched more, but that was last month and my memory isn't that good. Which is a really good reason to write it more frequently.

And whilst I did fail at that, I have succeeded on one front. That of training. My schedule does not seem to mesh with that of Golden Harmony anymore , which is a shame, because honestly that is one of my favourite martial arts schools of all time, so while I bide my time until our schedules align, I have instead started to take some good, old fashioned Muay Thai kick boxing at TKMT. Its conveniently located a 15 minute walk south of me. My ultimate goal, to learn Muay Boran. Muay Thai on its own doesn't hold that much interest to me. The classes will, and are, getting me into fantastic shape, and it is sharpening my punching skills, but I have always found older forms more fascinating. You're physically learning a piece of history, channeling the old ways through physicality. I find that far more satisfying than just repeating the same cycle of punches and kicks. But so far, Muay Thai is kicking my ass. Granted, I am not in prime physical shape, but I don't think I've thrown that many punches in my life. The kicking I can handle, Tae Kwon Do trained me well, I can throw kicks till the cows come home, but hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of punches, well, that is pain. A pain I love and need.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Udlug Spleenripper

I post this again, as I did on Facebook earlier, because this short documentary his been on my mind all day. I came home, described it to Rebecca, knowing full well that she would never be able to watch it without crumpling into a ball of tears, and I found myself crying in the process. That's the power of cinema ladies and gentleman.

Last Minutes with ODEN from phos pictures on Vimeo.

Trick 'r Treat - For what ever reason, I completely missed watching this when it made that rounds, but thanks to Trevor I finally watched it, and was quite pleased. This Michael Dougherty fella knows how to make an entertaining horror film.

I'm really slacking on this watching a horror film a night thing. I'm trying my best, honestly. On the plus slide, I'm working more on Bluebird again as things are moving along again, I'm getting into some good shape, and I saw Reign of Assassins.

Reign of Assassins - Damn, I need to see this in theatres. It was pretty spectacular. Definitely one of the best martial arts films of 2010, along with Ip Man 2 and the Ip Man prequel. Its really well done, and some of the action is spectacular. A good old fashioned wuxia without any political flag waving.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Shaman of Aaaaarrrrrggggghhhhh!

I had every intention of going to see A Serbian Film at the Bloor tonite, but I am zonked. My body, aching from my recent re-start of the physically fit Matt program, and tired from lack of sleep and recovery, is telling me stay home, rest, and watch Reign of Assassins. So that's what I did. Here's what I was missing.

My body will thank me for it. And Reign of Assassins was amazing enough to warrant the change.

Pin - A grand fine piece of Canadiana with a very young David Hewlett, about a family and their relationship with Pin, a life sized, anatomically correct dummy the father keeps as a prop at his family practice. The father, a doctor and also a ventriloquist, uses Pin as a means of education and entertainment for the youngsters, using his ventriloquism skills to have an engaging conversation with the dummy. Of course the doctors children, particularly his son, develop a strange relationship with Pin. A strange relationship indeed. Also a strange but engaging film that I liked a lot.

Voodoo Island - A silly b-horror film from the 50's featuring the acting stylings of Boris Karloff, it features some really bad excuses for killer plants and a rather abrupt and anti-climatic end. But it on the plus side, it features some great dialogue and Boris Karloff!

The Four Skulls of Jonathan Drake - Another 50's horror film, incidentally released by MGM as a double feature along with Voodoo Island, this film is the much better of the two. The story is far more interesting, the special effects are far better, and it has this guy with these weird catfish mouth barbs dangling over his lips and he walks around in silence, poisoning people with a long dart.

The Manson Family - This film took 10 years to make! And its great. Disturbing, and crazily psychedelic, this film is probably takes you as close as you can get to visualizing the state of mind the family must have been in during their time of love and then death. Its frickin' trippy, but oh so good.

Karla - This was interesting. It had the appearance and feel of a made for TV movie, and whilst the approach to the narrative was interesting, presenting Karla's view of events and then letting you know at the end she was probably lying the entire time, it doesn't really use that route to its advantage. Its a bland film. Not in the least bit offensive, but not really engaging either. It just sort of exists.

The Collector - From Marcus Dunstan and Patrick Melton, the writers of Saw 4, 5, 6 and the upcoming 3-D incarnation, comes a film that's basically Saw but in a house with a man dressed as gimp instead of jigsaw. At heart the film has some interesting ideas, a decent story, and some solid cinematic execution, however the insistence on using gratuitous violence and even more gratuitous means of death in this film is taken to levels that are borderline loony tunes. There is physically no way in hell this guy was able to rig that house the way he did without Arkin ever realizing. I laughed. Which is sad, because it did excite me for the first 1/2 hour to 45 minutes, until it descended into mindless, pointless and ultimately meaningless and ineffective gore. Plus, Arkin's decisions get more ridiculous as the film progresses. If your suspension of disbelief level is so high that you think you can fly in real life, then you will probably enjoy this film. Otherwise, you'll get frustrated.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010


Thanksgiving has come and gone, and I continued my quest of 31 horror films over the month of October. Not as easy as you think. I am 2 days behind

Ju-on (V-cinema) - Takashi Shimizu's original v-cinema sensation, this sort of breaks my rules as I had seen this, just not with subtitles. You can read a review I wrote for it here. I have a theory that some films are scarier when you are absorbed by the visuals and not so much the narrative. This happened with this film, which I found haunting the first time I watched it sans subtitles, although not so much this time. The same thing happened the second time I saw Ringu. The first time was in the middle of the, and the film had subtitles, and while it was still frickin' amazing and oozed dread, it was far more a frightening experience the second time I watched it, late one night on TV in Korea, with no subtitles to save me. Maybe its the fact that glancing down to subtitles breaks the ever building sense of despair these films exude. I don't know. All I know is, it was scarier when I wasn't wrapped up in the narrative.

Ju-on: Shiroi Roujo - This year marked the 10th anniversary of the release of the original v-cinema Ju-on (see above) and so Takashi Shimizu 'oversaw' the production of two sequels, Ju-on: Shiroi Roujo aka Ju-on: White Ghost and Kuroi Shoujo aka Black Ghost. White Ghost definitely had its moments. I won't go into too much detail as I will be reviewing it shortly at the J-Film Pow-Wow, but needless to say, what it lacked in SFX and scary ghosts, it made up for with tension and a few creepy moments.

A Nightmare on Elm Street - This is another terrible remake by Platinum Dunes, and by the most pretentious music video director on earth, Samuel Bayer. I have issues with this man and his anal retentive Kodak film ads. Moving on, the film lacked any kind of tension, or character development. Its just a series of quick scares that have no build at all, and that are always combined with a loud boom of bass and loud noise, to let you know what just happened was suppose to be frightening. This is a piece of shit, the Paul Haggis version of a horror film.

30 Days of Night: Dark Days - I loved 30 Days of Night, and I love Ben Templesmith's art. This film obviously lacks the budget the first one has, and because of that it suffers. Its not a bad film, its actually fairly well executed. The problem is that the vampires, who are suppose to be feral and animalistic, don't look nearly as good as they should, like in the original. It also comes off sort of daft, because there are only a handful of vampires in the film. They send 30 or so to butcher Barrow in the first film, but here the queen Lilith only has 6 of them on her giant freighter? A bit silly.

Frozen - Adam Green is really becoming a force to be reckoned with. I loved this film. Very tense, and it had moments that made me cringe. Its also refreshing to see a film like this, that is simple in concept, and based around some great performances by the actors. And some of the camera work is pretty amazing. Adam Green's got some balls to make a film like this.

Monday, October 04, 2010


Some wonderful things happened. First, it was Nuit Blanche. Yes, it felt more like a street party for University kids towards the end of the night, but I experienced a few wonderful things:

1) Grindbox: Colin Geddes picked a wonderful bunch of trailers and other junk. Some I had seen and some I had never heard of. But one touched my heart. Orca!

I have fond memories of watching this film on TV as a wee lad in England whilst slumbering at my cousin Andrews.

2) Alice Guy-Blache - The first female director in the motion picture industry, and one of the first narrative fiction film directors ever, the short films playing in cinema 3 circa 1906-1907. Tableau in style, they proved one thing: dogs and sausages are still funny 100 years later. Wow, its crazy to think those films were 104 years old. They have a documentary about her at the NFB Mediatheque.

3) Polly - Voyeuristic, somewhat uncomfortable, beautiful and upsetting, I Cried For You, a video installation utilizing performance art in the form of crying, Polly was the only person I saw that actually cried. Sure most after there allotted 10 minutes shed a tear, but after 5 minutes, she was sobbing. It was a wonderfully strange experience for me as a viewer, and I'm sure for her as the performer. It moved many people watching, some who found it incredibly sad and disturbing. Which is strange, that despite the 'desensitization' of a culture, something as simple as a person crying, someone we don't know and have no connection too, can still evoke such a reaction. On the bad side, the cast of Jersey Shore seemed to be in the area, and during every performance, some drunk person stopped to perform performance art of their own on the massive TV screen, usually in the form of picking a gigantic nose.

4) Drum Party - There was a drum party at the AGO. The atmosphere was terrific. Moments like that make events like Nuit Blanche worthwhile. Yes, there were drunks later on in the evening, but having a communal environment like that with such a hive-mind kind of attitude is something all communities need.

I'm also trying to succeed in watching 31 horror movies over the course of October, one per day. I have a few rules. The first, which is making this difficult, is watching a film I haven't seen or don't remember seeing. The second, is that I can watch more than one in a day, so long as my count is 31 at the end of the month. So far, so good.

Rob Zombies Halloween 2 - This film reminded me a lot of House of 1000 Corpses, where its really just a mishmash of ideas with no real coherent narrative. Sure Zombie has some good ideas, and on occasion he achieves some semblance of cinematic marvel, but mostly its just a mess. Its trying to hard to be edgy and extreme, and instead, its pretty bad. Two rules he should learn. One is to stop casting his wife because she is an awful actor. The second he should stop with the cheeseball musical montages.

Don't Kill a Duckling - One of Fulci's first horror films from 1972, this is by far one of my favourites, with Zombie, City of the Living Dead and New York Ripper. Less atmospheric than The Beyond but far more coherent, its slightly disturbing because of the content, not just the bloody mayhem, which is restrained here compared to his later films.

Big Bad Wolf - Trevor bought me this in retaliation for getting him Happy Birthday to Me for his birthday. It was a bad film yes, but still surprisingly entertaining, mostly because it had a trashtalking werewolf and a good level of gore. Oh, and Clint Howard and David Naughton have cameos.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Game Over

Alpenbitter. The official drink of Game Over: Pat Orams official 2010 Bachelor Party Extravaganza.

Made in beautiful Grimbsy, Ontario, this flavourful 'digestive', or 'digestif' as I'm told by Nick, is an ancient blend of 11 alpine botanicals and herbs, made from an ancient Celtic Druid recipe. Which means it tastes like Jagermeister mixed with mouthwash.

Several hours of Talisman followed.

TIFF 2010

I attended some films at TIFF.

Legend of the Fist: The Return of Chen Zhen - Not a very good film. I have since watched The Legend Begins: Ip Man, and that film is 100 times better than Donnie Yen and Andrew Lau's cheap Bruce Lee/Jet Li imitation.

13 Assassins - Read my review of it here. I thought it was absolutely spectacular.

Red Nights - This was sort of like an old HK Cat III films made as a Giallo. The two french guys who made it also wrote Running Out of Time, so they have obvious Johnnie To cinematic tendancies. Regardless of the fact that Seppuku Paradigm did the soundtrack and Sebastien Prangere edited the film, it still looks and feels like a Milkyway Production. Regardless, very atmospheric and entertaining.

I Saw the Devil - Wow. I love Choi Min Sik and Lee Byung Hyun more as time goes by. This film doesn't have the emotional depth of my favourite Kim Jee Woon film, A Bittersweet Life, but its pretty visceral and intense, and between the two leads and some outstanding cinematography, you don't need another reason to watch this film. Unless you want to see the best achilles tendon mutilation since Pet Cemetery.

Detective Dee and the Phantom Flame - Tsui Hark seems to have forgotten how to make entertaining and coherent films with emotion and depth. The last film he made that really struck me was Time and Tide. That was 10 years ago! Andy Lau cannot save this film from its trite shortcomings. It feels one of those wuxia TV productions that are edited down from 25 hours to a 2 hour film for a DVD release here. I know Tsui Hark is embracing the digital era and using high definition cameras and CGI, but some of this film looked like shit. I want to be excited about his remake of Dragon Gate Inn, but this film doesn't generate any kind of confidence.

The Butcher, The Chef and The Swordman - This film was a good followup to Detective Dee because it was a Chinese period film made like Ashes of Time or The Blade, so it was sort of refreshing. Some of it was very funny and original, some of it not so much. And it really wasted the talents of Xiong Xin Xin, who was the films fight choreographer, although you'd hardly know anyone choreographed anything.

Bunraku - This film had a lot of imagination and a visual style that at times makes your jaw drop. Unfortunately, its marred by some of the worst voice over since 300. I give props to Josh Hartnett for his mad boxing skills, and the Oldboy inspired tracking shot of Hartnett going floor to floor knocking out bad guys was pretty cool. One question: why was Demi Moore in this film?

Cold Fish - Visceral doesn't even being to describe Sion Sono's follow up to Love Exposure, and the first film from Sushi Typhoon which is actually outstanding in all respects. This is more Sono ala Strange Circus, with a Edogawa Rampo inspired fusion of sex and violence that is rarely seen this side of the seventies. I had no idea that was Asuka Kurosawa until the credits rolled.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Legend of my Fist

Two months since I last posted. A new record. In this span of time:

Confessions of a Dog - A shot and edited an interview with director Gen Takahashi, as well as the Q and A after the film and a panel discussion, all led by the wonderful Chris Magee, and all of which will appear on the British DVD release of the film by Third Window films. And its also an amazing film.

Bluebird - Shooting, shooting, shooting. Its only been 16 months since we started shooting, so thats not too bad. Ha ha ha. Its morphed into something that is so incredibly different from what I originally envisioned, but at the same time, its still the same fame. Wierd. Cliche to say this, but its become its own organic, living creature. I am helping to guide its evolution, shaping it, morphing it, but its growing in ways I couldn't have possible imagined. And at the sametime, things I thought would have developed naturally have died horribly or have never even seen the light of day.

TIFF - Yes, the worlds greatest film festival starts this week. Which means work gets stupid busy as everyone wants to shoot Brad Pitt wiping his ass, but also, it means lots of wonderful movies. So what am I excited for? More than anything, Legend of the Fist: The Return of Chen Zhen, followed closely by I Saw the Devil and 13 Assassins.

I'm sure more things have happened this summer, but, I can't remember. Oh, my lungs hurt. Oh, and I have a handle bar moustache. But mostly, right now, my lungs hurt. Which isn't really possible, as they have no nerves, but I can still feel it. My workout routine is thrown off. Just when I'd gotten into running through Sherwood Park and visiting Tony Orton on a regular basis, as well as doing my own martial arts thing. I need to start going back to kung fu class.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Three dinner birthday

July 9th marked my day of birth. I took several days off of work to collect my thoughts, assess my life, spend many days deep in meditation, focusing, refocusing, and focusing some more.
I did manage to accomplish several things over the last few days.

3 Birthday Dinners

Friday, on my actual birthday, myself and some friends went to Chimichanga's for mojitos and burritos, and it was delicious. I ate until I could eat no more, and then I ate a little more. Plus, mojitos are delicious. The perfect follow-up to that meal was Predators, which was one fantastic film. It didn't have the same level of hormone bursting masculinity the original did, but Adrian Brody did a pretty good job. Sunday my parents came for what would have been lunch, but since we were out the night before drinking and taking 1am walks through various forests, it was breakfast. Birthday breakfast was an Indian buffet at Chef of India. Spectacular times in my tummy, and again I ate until I burst. Plus, my parents stayed to watch the world cup and my mom brought this:

Yes, that's a cake. Crazy isn't it. That's me! So I ate that all afternoon, and the next day. Tuesday my sister came for dinner. We went to Finn Izakaya, because I needed to gorge myself on Japanese food. So I got the special Finn three story Bento Box. I don't know what some of the food I had was, but it all tasted delicious. Then we went to Demetries for dessert. I had some brownie cheesecake with crazy triple chocolate ice cream. Again, I ate more than I should, and it felt soooooooo good.

But, on a more constructive note, I've organized my life a little. Started my super duper work work out routine to keep me busy until I can afford the time and money to train again. Until then, P90X and my own personal kung fu training will do.

We also got air conditioning, which is awesome.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Happy G20!

A lots been said about our wonderful G20 weekend. I spent Saturday and Sunday downtown, shooting B-roll for Bluebird. It was a great opportunity for me to capture images of a city under siege, which is sad, but at the sametime, strangely karmic. The film was blessed by a tibetan woman after all. True story. But I digress. I saw some crazy stuff. My thoughts. Everyone failed. Well, not everyone. There were actually peaceful protestors who just wanted to be heard. However, they had trouble makers in their midst that caused some shit and provoked the police. Then the police went crazy. Good times. Either way, the blame falls on the people who decided to throw this shit storm together.

Also, Saturday night, history was made when Fedor lost for this first time. Ever. It was bound to happen. And granted he's really fought no one of real talent for years, he's probably gotten soft. He hasn't been challenged for a long time. And then bam, he falls into a triangle/arm bar twist combo move.

The weekend before I got really sick. I puked my guts out. Literally. For 7 hours. I hadn't been sick like that since we were in China and I got sick after eating sewage. I vomited until there was nothing but bile coming up. And then I puked some more. It felt like my body was trying to expel some demon from my stomach. It went on for hours. I couldn't hold down water for a good deal of the day. But eventually it ended. Obviously, getting sick like that from I have no idea what set off some warning lights. I needed to purge. And purge I have. I haven't had any caffeine since that vomitous day. I've been eating some what better, cleansing my inner workings. Its been tough. I've been going to bed a lot earlier, but feel generally better and seem to have more clarity. Today I worked out, and I felt like I had more energy than I had in a long time. Strange. And not so strange. Perhaps Operation Ivy was right. Healthy body, safe mind.

The Horseman - This Australian flick kicks some ass. From it's description, I was really expecting just another bloody revenge tale, but this film rises above that leaps and bounds. Peter Marshall is astounding as Christian, and his performance is mesmerizing. It also really humanizes him with the introduction of Alice, the young girl who follows him on his bloody rampage, although unbeknowest to her. It reminded me alot of Izo. Christian by the end of the film loses all of his humanity and turns into a rage filled devil, who no amount of punishment can stop. The stunts are spectacular. I loved this film.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The Iceman Cometh (and goeth)

UFC 115 has come and gone in Vancouver. My thoughts:

1) Chuck Liddell looked great. He didn't have a beer gut for the first time in recent memory. And he was fairing very well. Until he got hit. Once. And dropped. He's head can't take a good punch to the noggin anymore. Which is too bad. Not that I'm a huge Liddell fan, because I ain't, but I like Rich Franklin even less, so I was really hoping he would loose. Oh well.

2) Cro Cop won! Yeah! To a Sanshou fighter with no ground skills! To a guy who knocked him on his ass not once, but twice, and just stood there and let him get up. I do like Cro Cop, I love a good head kick, but if Pat Barry actually knew MMA and not just Sanshou, he would have plowed right through Cro Cop in the first round. It was a feeder fight, and fed Cro Cop Dana White did.

3) It was obvious during the pre-lim fights they show live on Spike for free, that they are cutting the fights to show as little contact and violence as they can. I know its a business, and Dana White is trying to make it more legitamized, but there were times when the camera had a perfect view of the action, and then it would cut to angle that made it more difficult to discern what was going on. I didn't dig it.

Blood and Bone - Black Dynamite converted me into a Michael Jai White fan. Sure I'd seen him in a Universal Soldier: The Return, The Dark Knight, Spawn, and the deleted scene from Kill Bill 2, but I was never fully convinced of his martial arts skills nor his on screen prescence and charisma. Until Black Dynamite. Now I can't get enough. Blood and Bone is a low budget film, but the guy who wrote the Big Hit (which I LOVE) and Love and a Bullet, which he directed, starring Treach (BAD!!!), and without MJW, it would probably have been a terrible film. Sure its got Kimbo Slice, Gina Carrano and Bob Sapp, but MJW kicks some serious ass in this film. They change camera formats throughout (you can see this pretty clearly in the making of), and it shows. Some of it looks like shit. Sometimes, when there's lots of horizontal movement in the frame, the image strobes. Some of the acting is awful. But fuck, Michael Jai White is incredible. I will buy this film solely for the guys martial arts mayhem. The end fight is pretty amazing.

Monday, May 24, 2010

The 13th Floor

If a building has more than 13 floors, but skips 13 when assigning floor levels, you're still living on the 13th floor of the building. You're fooling yourself if you think you're going to live.

I spent yesterday evening shooting time-lapse off the roof of a parking garage downtown. A mighty fun time. I spent many an evening in my younger years atop parking garages in downtown Toronto, so it was very nostalgic.

I got a Drobo. Now Bluebird will be safe forever. And ever. And ever. Thanks Craig.

Robin Hood - I expected something on par with Costner's Prince of Thieves, and that's what I got. I also got the feeling that much like Kingdom of Heaven there will be a directors cut with an hour of restored footage. I am left with the burning question: how did Marion manage to take control of the unruly feral forest children and lead them into battle. Ahead of everyone else I might add!

Thursday, April 29, 2010


I can feel my sinew grow strong. Strands of metal coat the very fiber that is my musculature. I can punch through walls.

I haven't gotten lazy. My regime has not been broken. I can feel the energy surging through my veins. Its pretty amazing how a little (or maybe not so little) exercise can change how your body feels in such a short period of time. It remembers. Its slowly remembering. I can feel the muscles and ligaments stretching, slowing sliding back into a place they once resided in so many years ago.

The light is also at the end of the tunnel. It grows every brighter with each passing day. Once I emerge into the light, I'll find myself in an even bigger tunnel that won't be nearly as long, but will take just as much energy and perseverance as the last. Focus. Focus. Breath. And focus.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Words of Advice

Turn verbal diarrhea into alphabetized diarrhea. Everyday. Easier said than done. Which is why I'm doing it. To prove a point. Mostly to myself. And who better to make a point too. As long as things keep moving forward each and everyday, no matter how small and minuscule, as long as the movement is always in that forwardly direction and not in reverse, then that's all you can really do. And that's all I'm doing. Forward motion. In written verse. And cinematic image. Fused into one montage induced seizure. Maybe seizure's the wrong word. Maybe the right word is brain fuck. But maybe curse words are too strong. Let's try montage induced delirium. That's probably what I'm going for.

Tomorrow commences my return to The Drifting Classroom, Kazuo Umezu's mammoth masterpiece, so that I may partake of Nobuhiko Obayashi's cinematic incarnation, in hopes that its not as bad as I've been told. Perhaps with Umezu's words and images still fresh in my mind, it will all make sense. Although Orochi really didn't cut the mustard. I probably would have enjoyed the film more had I not read Umezu's manga.

I've also coined some phrases as of late. The latest is What Would Riki Takeuchi Do, or WWRTD. Remember you read it here first.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Chair

I have kept up with the training routine. Right now just three times a week, but I can already feel the kung fu power flowing through my veins. At least a little bit. Tonight my legs are sore. P90X plyometrics. It puts the 'X' in P90X.

I, along with Bob and Marc from the Toronto J Film Pow-Wow has some reviews published in the Directory of World Cinema: Japan. One lifetime goal completed. I have a little black book that houses my personal goals. Some annual. Some lifetime. They range from the obvious, having a review published in a book, to watching all the films in the Zatoichi series. Also on that list, making a feature film. That will be completed this year also. Next will possibly be the creation of a small child.

A Single Man - Not that I'm the biggest Oscar fan in the world, but man, this film should have been nominated for way more stuff. Granted its now 2010, but this has jumped on my favourite films from 2009 list. Everything about it was mesmerizing. I want to see it again. Soon. It reminded me a lot of Wong Kar-wai during the Christopher Doyle years. On a side note, we had some really good Gelato from some Gelato place down the street from the Mt. Pleasant theatre. I should go for strolls down yonder more often.

Bad Blood - This film, I liked. Yes, the plot is inane. Dennis Law seems to be getting lazier with his martial arts gangster films. It seemed he took story elements of Fatal Contact, which I really really enjoyed, and fused them with the gangster genre from Fatal Move, and then combined them into one film. Luckily, some of the fights are pretty spectacular, Jiang Liu-Xia blew my frickin' mind, and any can't get enough of watching Xiong Xin-Xin in action. That guys moves in such insane hypnotic circular movements its hard to imagine sometimes that he's human. But yes, Jiang Liu-Xia. I have yet to see Coweb, but I'm sold on her. That makes the film sound even more amazing. Xiong Xin-Xin, Jiang Liu-Xia AND Kane Kosugi. I must see more of her. And that film.

Monday, March 01, 2010


Saturday morning. Rebecca warned me I was running late, that I wouldn't make it to the van in time to move it before the ticket police arrived. You can only park for 2 hours at a time after 8am. It was 10:30am. As I stepped out the apartment door, seeing the ticket car several hundred meters up the street, I realized she was right. But there was hope! The ticket man was still a good 50 meters or so away from the van. If I ran, I could probably make it!

So I ran, full tilt. Now, it probably wasn't more than 500 meters, which isn't a lot, even if you are running as fast as you frickin' can. But as I closed in on the van, my legs started to slow down and my breathing became more laboured. Soon my chest was burning and I could feel my air passage swelling as my asthma was kicking in. But I pressed on. And not with a moment to spare.

I charged charged the car door and climbed in, just as the cop passed by. I made it. No ticket. However, I almost collapsed in the drivers seat, and spent the next 10 minutes trying to catch my breathe. My body was sapped of all energy. I ran for maybe a minute and I was spent. I realized then, I was terribly and awfully out of shape.

So today, I started to get back into shape. Although honestly, I always keep on starting, and then have trouble keeping it up. I really stink at motivating myself. When I'm in practice I'm fine. I need someone beside me, yelling at me to push harder, and I will. But on my own, I have trouble starting the engine. Hopefully this time things will change. Hope hope.


I watched Soi Cheang's latest and was blown away. I really liked Dog Bite Dog, but did find it a tad melodramatic. Shamo I wasn't a big fan of. But Accident hit all the right notes. He did't use an aggressive camera style to engage you, instead he used stasis to let Louis Koo give any amazing and subtle performance in a very 60's style film. It was pretty breathtaking. Reminded me a lot of The Conversation.

Bodyguards and Assassins

This film really didn't impress and I really wanted it too. Yes, the production design was breathtaking, and cinematically some of it was amazing, but damn, it's classic HK melodrama at its best and worst. Basketball giant Mengke Bateer is completely miscast as an outcast monk, who uses his basketball skills to render assailants useless with his throwing of vegetables. The Donnie Yen vs Cung Le battle started out great with a stunning foot chase, but the fight falls short. I was expecting a lot more. Now yes, I understand it was made during the 50th anniversary of the Peoples Republic of China, and it really plays on that aspect far too much, making much of the melodrama almost cringe worthy.

Saturday, February 06, 2010

One month in

It's one month in to this joyous new decade, and this is only the second time I've graced my blog with words. Meaningless words. I'm becoming more and more fascinated by the fusion of sound and image, and less fascinated by classical Hollywood narrative. I need to become independently wealthy.

The Ascent

Borrowed this from Marc, and it blew me away. Incredibly bleak, not only in its narrative, but also the cinematography and the sound-scape. My god, I thought Come and See was the be all and end all of WW2 films but I was wrong. Larisa Shepitko, who made The Ascent, was married to Elem Klimov, who made Come and See, and there are definitely parallels between the two films, but whereas Come and See relies more on affecting the viewer by depicting atrocities and using disturbing imagery to ensure you're horrified by what you came to see, The Ascent relies purely on its cinematic audacity, the bleakness of the landscape and the protrayals by the actors to drive its message home. Blew me away.

Saturday, January 02, 2010

And so it ends....and begins again

The year and the decade have ended. And now like a seemingly endless cycle of days come and gone, we start again. I finished off the decade with a lot of films. Here are the rest of my thoughts.

Taking of Pelham 123 - Not as bad as I'd anticipated. John Travolta is no Robert Shaw, nor does he try to be. He was tolerable, but unfortunately Tony Scott's direction is not. He has no idea how to use the camera other than to 'make it go fast now'. Ridley does a far better job of restraining himself so as to convey an idea or story.

Punisher: Warzone - Well, it wasn't as bad as the the previous film, also with John Travolta. However Thomas Jane played a far better Punisher. The action is over the top here, and the lighting colour palette does lend itself to a comic book feel, but the film is filled with so much hammy acting, bad dialogue and outrageously awful set pieces that it just doesn't cut it. No matter how much blood the Punisher spills. It did have Wayne Knight in it though, and he's always fun. On the plus side, it is a so bad its funny kind of film, so I did enjoy the time I spent watching it, although probably not the way I was intended too.

Franklyn - Good idea, terrible execution. Incredibly contrived. Four seemingly separate stories collide at the end in such a trite way, it really wasn't worth the time spent getting there. Eva Green is in it though, and is hot. And Sam Riley is good. But everything else is bleh. Surprised that this played at After Dark. Are they really that desperate for films, or do they just not watch them?

Rocknrolla - After the abysmal Revolver, Guy Richie goes back home and makes a restrained (read that Tony Scott, restraint, you should learn this) gangster film that is quite excellent. He tried to reinvent himself with Swept Away and Revolver and failed. Here he succeeds in spades. Sure on the surface it looks like a typical Guy Richie gangster film, but the visual orgasms that usually explode across the screen aren't nearly as explosive. Instead, he takes the time to develop character and story and all the other good stuff that's associated with cinema. And Tom Wilkinson steals the show. Very fun and very funny.

The Hang Over - This film was crazy hyped up before I watched it, but it did manage to live up to most of the hype. It made me laugh, which is what it was meant to do. Not the funniest film I've ever seen, but definitely the funniest I've seen in a while.

Angels and Demons - All I'll say is, it's better than The Da Vinci Code. They filled it with a lot of bang and zip, in hopes of covering up some of the films silliness, and for the most part they succeed. But some of it I couldn't get past. One man managed to drive around in a truck full of restrained men, and set up elaborate death rituals in a matter of minutes, all in the hopes that someone would follow the trail? What if they never got the 'Symbologist'? Then no one would have been able to follow the clues, and everything would have been for naught. It was far to complex for its own good. Doesn't make much sense. But, it did have some good deaths and Ewen MacGregor and mullet Hanks.

Avatar - On a visually creative scale, its the most amazing thing you'll see. The world they created is incredible. He beat George Lucas at his own game. However, it seemed like 99% of his creative energy went into creating the world and the technology, and only 1% went into writing the script. There were a lot of 'wow' moments, followed by a lot of 'really, that's all you can come up with for $300 million' moments. If he'd spent more time developing the script, and the characters, having them less cookie cutter one dimensional archetypes that he's used in every film he's made, and creating believeable, realistic and less cliche dialogue, this could have been one of the best films ever. However, it was not. But still damn good. However, if the film wasn't in 3-D, it probably wouldn't have been very good.

Speedracer - I quite enjoyed the film a lot. Maybe its the anime fanboy in me, but nothing has captured the look and film of anime quite like this. Everything I've ever said bad about the Wachowski's I take back. They have imagination to burn. I think they just needed someone to reign them in and tell them that dance sequences narrated by Laurence Fishbourne aren't cool. But race cars and films with Hiroyuki Sanada are!

Star Trek 2: The Wrath of Khan - I've been trying to watch all the original Star Treks, and this is one of the best, like everyone usually says. It captured everything about the original show that was great, plus it actually tied it into the show, giving it big bonus points. And its probably the darkest in tone. Its the Empire Strikes Back for the Star Trek world. And that is Ricardo Montalban's chest!

Star Trek 3: The Search for Spock - I'll give it to Harve Bennet and Leonard Nimoy. They took a simple idea and turned it into a great film. Christopher Lloyd wrote the book on Klingons. I didn't really remember much about this film, but what I really liked about it is how all the films seem to tie together.

Star Trek 4: The Voyage Home - When I was in grade 5 I saw this film in theatres, and it killed Star Trek for me. I'd never really seen any of the films in their entirety, but seeing this, when I was expecting space battles and alien intruders and all I got were whales, really turned me off of Kirk and Spock. Watching it again, its pretty damn good. It doesn't compare with 2 and 3, but it does manage to be funny, touching and poignant. And sadly, still relevant. Plus, the fact that there is no antagonist or villain in the film and no real on screen violence makes it a marvelous feat for a science fiction film. But one question still lingers: Where there whales piloting that large cylindrical ship, and if so, did they come from a planet of whales?