Tuesday, December 27, 2005


I got a mixed bag this year.

From my older brother, who has been strapped for cash this year, I got one of those public domain collections of Hitchcock movies. This one is from Brentwood Video, an outfit known to transfer their DVDs from videotape sources. My brother had apparently forgotten that he gave me a similar (and better) Hitchcock set three years ago. I didn't have the heart to tell him this, because he's trying his best, after all, and it's difficult to buy these sorts of things for me. Plus, this particular set has Blackmail and The Ring, neither of which are on the other set from three years ago.

From friends: Banlieue 13, an action film produced (but not directed) by Luc Besson. I know nothing whatsoever about this movie.

From my significant other: The Looney Tunes Golden Collection Volume 3. This one is paydirt. She also got me the King Kong production diary package a couple of weeks ago for my birthday; it's a strange creature, this package: it's the DVD extras without the feature.

For my part, I got her the first season of Gilmore Girls, which was very well received, and added House of Flying Daggers, The Aviator, Dracula: Pages from a Virgin's Diary, Infernal Affairs, The Triplets of Belleville, Minority Report, and Bad Santa to the communal movie shelf (all purchased on the cheap, used, from my local mom and pop video store).

I'm generally relieved to be out from under the holiday now. I can actually think of buying things without stepping on anyone's toes. Most importantly, I can put in that order for the new Disney Treasures tins without worrying about whether or not someone has bought it for me for Christmas. Yay!

Monday, December 12, 2005

Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance and others...

A busy month on my website. I've posted reviews of Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance, Dragonslayer, Female Convict Scorpion: Jailhouse 41, The Killer Must Kill Again, and Sorum since my last post. That's a lot of activity for me. Here's a page with the links.

My ISP is giving me fits. Unless I tell the server exactly what it wants to hear, it thinks I'm out of space. I'm nowhere near my allotment, so it's a matter of jumping through the hoops. What a pain.

We had a movie night on Saturday. The movie I chose to show was Intimate Confessions of a Chinese Courtesan. I need to sit down and write about it, because it's as strange a movie as they come. It's weird and beautiful and violent, and not at all what you might expect from the soft-core porno title it bears. It's a hand-grenade thrown into the history of the Shaw Brothers Studios in Hong Kong, and makes me eager to jump into some of the other Shaw Brothers films I haven't seen.

One of these days, I'll go back to watching American movies. Maybe.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Spider Forest and other odds and ends.

Well, I finally got around to posting my review of Spider Forest. I probably spent too much verbage on the manifesto at the front, but I can go back and edit the thing later, I guess. Interesting movie, though not entirely successful. If Korea can find screenwriters the equal of their filmmakers, they'll kick the crap out of every other national cinema in the world. Mark my words.

Started Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance last night before football. I'll finish it tonight. The most striking thing about it isn't the violence (so far), but the way Chan Wook Park composes the film frame. I haven't counted them yet, but the number of shots where the screen is bi-sected by a vertical barrier is surprisingly high. This makes me wonder if this isn't another veiled allegory to the politics of the Korean penninsula--a thematic hold-over from Joint Security Area, if you will. I didn't get that from Old Boy, but I sure as hell get it from this.

I may have to put Mr. Vengeance on hold for a bit, though. Warner's new version of King Kong came out today. It's hard to resist the eighth wonder of the world...

Saturday, November 12, 2005

First Post

So...have you ever wondered what the "Nightmare of Ecstasy" sequence from Glen or Glenda would have looked like if it had been directed by Orson Welles? Perhaps you've thought Touch of Evil might have worked out fine if Ed Wood had made it.

Yeah. Me neither. And yet this hypothetical is suggested by Tim Burton's fantasy meeting between Wood and Welles at the end of his biopic of Wood. I wonder if Burton ever saw Dementia or its butchered version, Daughter of Horror, which plays like what I described in the last paragraph. It's Welles's Glen of Glenda or Wood's Touch of Evil. Take your pick. The evidence: it was photographed by Wood's longtime cinematographer, William C. Thompson (who shows that it wasn't HIS fault that Wood's movies looked like crap). The film was shot on the same locations in Venice Beach where Welles shot Touch of Evil. Further, director John Parker never met a dutch tilt he didn't like and the skewed perspectives and deep-focus shots that make up the entire film are straight out of Welles. But the plot is pure Wood. A young woman ("The Gamine" in the credits) wakes from a nightmare, grabs a switchblade, and heads out into the city at night. She falls in with bad company. A pimp sets her up with a fat rich man (who bears a startling resemblance to Welles), and her encounter with him sends her into a spiral of madness that ends with a confrontation in a jazz club. Then she wakes up again. Go figure.

Fortunately for the film there's no dialogue, unless you happened to be watching the "Daughter of Horror" version, in which there is a hysterical voice-over that out Criswells any of Criswell's pronouncements in any of Wood's films. Even in the original version, the viewer is treated to a deranged George Antheil score in which Marni Nixon (later the singing voice of Deborah Kerr and Audrey Hepburn) shreiks like a human theramin. This score seems to have been re-used by a ton of grade z movies, but it was new here, so I'll forgive the familiarity.

If a film that seems like the mutant love-child of Maya Deren and Albert Zugsmith sounds like your cup of tea, then by all means, check this out. It's a one of a kind weirdie. Plus, it's short, so if Marni Nixon's voice begins to send you scrambling up the wall, you won't have to endure it for long...

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

For further research.

More content to come. I'll delete this when there's real content.