27 September 2006


They told me this was a "Chekhovian drama," but I didn't see nuclear wessels anywhere.

I did see a lot of Woody Allen mid-80s Interiors tropes and eighty minutes of unrequited, idealized love, longing, and sadness. Essentially a filmic play, September only hit me during its first half and let me down big-time on the back nine. Lots of commendable performances from Sam Waterston, Dianne Weist (not annoying), and Mia Farrow (wow, even she's not annoy...well, no wait, yeah she still is...), but a story that plods along a little too much without really turning into anything.

Still some great camerawork from Allan Konigsberg's main lensman and great performances from an old couple who starred with Norm MacDonald in two different movies! Don't believe me? Look! Now look here!


It's too bad this came out right before the "Behind the Scenes of a Jungle Epic" docs were in vogue 'cause, man, we're certain this would be one helluva making-of. That Billy Friedkin, he is a class-A nutjob, and any time you trek to them lands that time forgot you know there's a catastrophe or two in the works. Sorcerer isn't nearly as bad as its reputation, but it's strictly cable-tv fare. I mean, really, a '70s thriller with Roy Scheider?!?! How come Turner hasn't already shoved this down our throats? This flick should start at five after the hour at least once a week. Probably hasn't since it's the only picture about highly volatile explosives with zero suspense.

26 September 2006

Sympathy for Mr Vengeance

Now this is more like it. Another Korean classic from our favorite Korean director. Sympathy is good ol' violent O. Henry digitally enhanced color fun that goes a little something like:

Deaf-mute tries some back alley surgery to save his sister but when he wakes up naked, bleeding, and without the organ he needs to save her, it's time for Plan B. A tragic black/bleak comedy of errors ensues as he innocently kidnaps a cute little girl, and executive dad tries to find the folks that nabbed his flesh and blood. (Let it be known that while the Highland Cinema hates American children, we think those foreign kids are so darn adorable! And such good actors!) Don't let my witticisms fool you, this ain't one of those haha funny or funny haha pictures, it's chock full o' pathos, platelets, and pain. But that irony is too much to ignore. There's fights, there's tears, there's groans.

And not one but two scenes of a retarded Asian duder throwing rocks in a river.

I'd like to say more, but this guy did it for me. I'll leave you with: Tartan Asia Extreme has been good to us so far, let's hope they keep it that way.

25 September 2006

The Piano Teacher

Let's call this the return of In My Skin. The Piano Teacher started as a tale of sexual repression and ended as a tale of a sado-maso fantasy gone awry. I didn't dig it at all which came as a bit of a surprise since "Cannes accolades" plus "disturbing" equal serious Highland Cinema interest. Still had me a-wincin' during such uncomfortable scenes as the discarded tissue bouquet and the razor blade nick, but the whole thing felt cold, distant, and way too emotionless to be entertaining or engrossing. I think that was the point. The emotionless part, not the boring part. Still didn't do much.

You'll be glad to know that I felt quite the studious one pulling out my long-neglected copy of Bonds of Love once the end credits started rolling. Many Hegelian Freudisms to be found in this flick and many self-inflicted pats on the back for recognizing them!

20 September 2006

The Last Detail

More Jack, more Towne, more...Quaid?!?! Yes, Randy "the Helper's just fine by itself" Quaid was really on fire during the early '70s: Oscar nods and Golden Globe nominations for two completely different flicks! Who knew?

For the first reel or so The Last Detail insisted on playing us this John Philip Souza marchin' band score, and that bleating, blaring drummer boy mess had us thinking a college bowl kickoff was around the corner. It drove us crazy and came real close to ruining the entire tone of this flick, but fortunately we held on 'cause right around the thirty or forty minute mark we got this great extended alcohol sequence, a sequence so great and true to life it renewed our faith in both Hal Ashby and humanity in general. Big Jack, Quaid, and that other guy in their hotel room, knee-deep in Olympias, bobbing and weaving as they tell stories that don't go anywhere and talk shit to one another. It's the kind of thing that really took us back. All the way to last week! Jack's character has to ruin the whole thing right at the end when he gets all mean and tries to fight a bro. That had us relatin' to stuff too, but not a good times kinda way. Oh well.

I'll be frank with ya and tell you guys that I enjoyed this more than Chinatown. A better movie? Of course not, but The Last Detail really came through right at the end when you realize all those scenes about Greyhound washroom brawls, hometown sidetrips, and chanting cults amounted to something greater than themselves. End credits roll and you understood everything you just watched. Good stuff. Not a true classic, but worth a view. Dig it!

18 September 2006


Roman Polanski! Robert Evans! Jack Nicholson! Faye Dunaway!

Whoa, Robert Townsend?!?!

Oh no, wait a minute....Robert Towne. Okay...well....still good!

Too bad they squandered the talents of the uber-cool James Hong. Not even his best movie with "China" in the title.

17 September 2006


Dude, this was fucking dumb. I know you heard me laughing aloud, but still....this was really goddamn stupid.

But have you guys seen Happiness? No? It's an uncomfortable one full of mucho sadness, pain, and, uh, stickiness, but there's this opening five minutes where Jon Lovitz gets dumped just as he's about to give his special lady this engraved silver ashtray thingy and it's just fucking amazing. No joke, that shit is way close to Alec-Baldwin-in-Glengarry-Glen-Ross amazing, and certainly better than Ben-Affleck-playing-Alec-Baldwin-in-Glengarry-Glen-Ross-in-Boiler-Room amazing. You'd never know it, but underneath those sandwich ads and "that's the ticket!" catchphrases the Lovitz is a real deal actor.

In Benchwarmers he drives the Batmobile and has a robot butler.

See, I told you. Fucking dumb.

14 September 2006


We fucking dig David Cronenberg around here. And what's not to like? You can't tell me you're not dying to see Debbie Harry's nipples, James Woods make out with a tv screen, or a ridiculously cool stomach vagina that'll gape for Betamax cartridges and make a guy's hand explode.

We're calling Videodrome Big Dave's signature release 'cause even if it ain't his most effective or his best, it's a perfect meld of his '70s-era horror glop and current-era identity politics: technology/representations of reality dictate YOU and your perception of actual reality.

And then some dude's innards make a gurgling, bubbling, chunky mess on the floor.

Keep in mind the "New Flesh" reiterations and "neural floodgates" dialogue are almost too clumsy to be forgiven and the heavy-handedness of the Cathode Ray Mission is too much like Rocky IV-esque binary moralizing. Fortunately the rest of the thing is a well-realized Our Media, Ourselves treatise that combines all the essential elements of the Cronenberg Secrets of the Ooze trifecta: icy cold machinery, engorged sex organs, and ever-changing existence. The makings of a typically fantastic Crones experience!

We're unconditionally telling you to see this 'cause even though it's a kick-ass picture, it's more importantly a kick-ass example of the Highland Cinema as Joe Bob Briggs, PhD. Just as Night of the Living Dead's graphic zombifications recreated the horror industry, "Videodrome"'s sexual snuff clips recreate Max Renn.

Check out this Commodore 64 trailer which is nothing like the movie.

13 September 2006


It's time for the Highland Cinema to nerd it up a little bit and profess our love for Futurama. Television's shining (half-)hour? You bet. Sixty years of TV and I don't think it's ever gotten better than this. Too bad it's just like Fox to getcha into some show and then change the airtimes all around till you don't know which end is up. Faster than you can say "Herman's Head" your show's gone the way of The Secret Diary of Desmond Pfeiffer and you're stuck watching this.

I guess it's still better than when Fox had us watching this.

So every now and again when Final Jeopardy's over and we're sitting here waiting for the new set of reels to show up at the front door, we fire up the lobby VCR and pop in some Futurama. Maybe we should get a life, but we think these SLP recorded tapes are worth their weight in gold. The Cinema can't be zombies, beat-downs, and forced erudition all the time, but it'll be a cold day in hell before we take five from being all about references. And Futurama? References in spades, my friends, in spades.

Alright, enough of that. Time to get back to business. We allowed ourselves one television post and this is it, so don't get your hopes up for some Parker Lewis musings.

(Damn! That idea's not half bad. Oh well.)

11 September 2006


Irreversible is even more disturbing and depraved than I Stand Alone, and way more fucking genius. This thing is another one to put at the top of your "must NOT see" list thanks to an opening sequence of basement bondage club glimpses, hateful dialogues, and brutal face annihilation at the hands of a fire extinguisher's blunt end. This is some serious shit, shit that gets all the more serious a few sequences later when Gaspar Noe subjects us to ten nearly-impossible-to-endure minutes involving Monica Belluci that make me realize I misplaced my Straw Dogs reference in that last post. If you don't already know, you don't want to.

Irreversible is nothing if not shocking, disorienting, and...necessarily cinematic! I sincerely don't think I'll ever see anything as nauseatingly perfect as this picture's opening thirty minutes -- a thirty minutes filled with barely-contained judgment-lapsed blind rage, barely-lit sexual deviance, horrific violence, and swirling, swooping, upside-down, falling-down drunk camera work. Amazing, moreso considering the eventual development and the plain-stated poignancy of the relationship between characters Alex, Marcus, and also-ran former boyfriend Pierre. You'll ask yourself if you're even watching the same movie. Staggering.

And still not for you.

08 September 2006

I Stand Alone

I've sat here for over a week trying to come up with a decent write-up for this picture; it's proven to be a difficult task the likes of which few have seen. I Stand Alone is rage and hostility, misogyny and racism, narration and Genealogy of Morals. I don't even know what to say about the thing except that it most definitely isn't for you. Alienated like Taxi Driver and graphic like Bad Lieutenant, only more fucking real. This guy isn't a mass murderer just yet, but by the end of this one you know he's only inches away. Filmmaker Gaspar Noe treats us to a bleak and desolate character study and gives us a final fifteen minutes that are initially blunt and violent and then disturbingly insinuating, all the more so considering the "protagonist"'s sense of his own liberation through this impending actualization of his desires. Whoa, and not "whoa" in the Love Object sense. Don't ask.

In spite of it all, I Stand Alone is a real movie. It's steeped in venomous inner monologues and peppered with blunt force trauma, but within it all is a shocking tale of morality, justice, and probably early 1980s Franco-politics. Noe is a force to be reckoned with, a director who'll out-Straw Dogs Abel Ferrara and still have you reaching for your upper-division philosophy notes. He's already thesis-fodder, but once he has a body of work longer than two features and some shorts, he'll really be a iconoclastic grad student magnet.

But it's still not for you.

06 September 2006

Mean Streets

Marty's "for all intents and purposes" debut gets a CRAP. Waffle Factor=3 for acting talents of Harvey Keitel and Bobby DeNiro, who prove to have been swell actors even before they were stars.

Maybe we should've seen Scorsese's other noteworthy sorta debut instead. At least that one had Barbara Hershey.

And Bernie Casey!

Y'know we really should've just watched this. Better guitar solos!

03 September 2006

In My Skin

Youngish corporate woman slices her leg up real bad at a party, doesn't feel a thing, and then feels compelled toward cutting. Whatever. I was mistakenly under the impression that this would be really good and it wasn't even passably good. Plods along like a movie that means something, but never told us why she liked to prick herself with steak knives or made us empathize with her addiction. Esther's inability to feel pain requires her to create a visual and corporeal representation, maybe? Maybe not. Sicinski momentarily compared it to American Psycho in terms of the desensitizing nature of corporate politics. That's intriguing, but when left to the film itself it's not something of which I was entirely convinced.

Oh well. Someday I'll forget all about this one and it won't make a difference whatsoever. During the last ten to fifteen minutes In My Skin was a tad shocking and graphic, but the rest wasn't too bad...although I'll admit we're a rather poor yardstick for that kind of thing.

If we were willing to dish out extra points it'd be for the fact Marina de Van wrote, directed, and starred. That's pretty cool!

02 September 2006

GWAR -- lots o' stuff

Good friend and proud owner of the Nekromantik series Anti-Michael made a guest appearance at the Cinema a few days ago, and you know when something like that happens you'll be ankle-deep in Keystone Light cans and Skulhedface box covers faster than you can say "remember that time...?"

Yes, we do love the Gwar around here, especially this week when these intergalactic space monsters hit us with a brand new record. Over the years the Cinema's library has amassed a collection of Gwar releases the likes of which you will seldom see, a collection of videos that really don't make that much sense even to us and we've seen 'em way too many times. What they do offer is plenty of off-color jokes, foam rubber, power chords, and low-budget Chroma-Key. Gwar takes on their early 90s obscenity lawsuit in Phallus in Wonderland (nominated for a Grammy!) and some tale about selling out and maybe censorship (again) in Skulhedface. For our money, we like the War Party tour flick the best since it works the best as background fodder and was a gift that came directly from the Slave Pit.

We'd love to tell you more, but you know that you'll be a-watchin' at least one of these when you step through our doors. Until then...