28 November 2006


You don't like music as much as the Highland Cinema does. Okay, maybe if your name's Heavy Duty you do, but including that crew is cheating.

We checked this Afro-Punk out the other night after we saw an article about it in Punk Planet and after we added the Bad Brains' ROIR to the library. The fact that this DV-cam doc is pretty decent and will ensure that you'll immediately involve yourself in a never-ending conversation about race and ethnicity in America is noteworthy, but what's really important is that alongside that epic discussion we paced around talkin' 'bout punk rock, metalcore, Necro, Cage, karate kids, Eritrea/Somalia, intensity in ten cities, Rocky George, Rollins' bands, aging, scenes, hip-hop performance, record sales, the music industry, Megadeth posters, rock and the pop narcotic, parenting skills, manTooth broads, Randall modules, fuzz pedals, women's pants, and Joel RL Phelps the Downer Trio until the wee goddamn hours of the morning. Honest.

And you thought we only liked movies.

27 November 2006

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang

Sorry, but I'm tired of this unnecessarily stylized post-Tarantino Get Shorty junk. The story itself is good enough for this Guy Ritchie world, but why drag it down with smarmy obliterate-the-fourth-wall narration and overly chummy back-and-forth rapport? Hipster tricks like the wink-wink Sam Spade noirisms turned this thing into watchable if not memorable Saturday afternoon on Showtime fare when it certainly could have been more.

But we still think Val Kilmer's cool.

26 November 2006

Match Point

You guys remember how Ewen Bremner absolutely killed it in julien donkey-boy? That one scene where he's on the phone with Chloe Sevigny and they pretend he's talking to his deceased mother...wow. Dogme95's finest moment. So many great performances in that film and so full of choice reviewer fodder, but we could never understand why none of those guys ever talked about that scene where Julien dons Nazi garb and talks about Hitler. They went on and on about Korine's exploitation/empowerment of the differently-abled and went overboard trying to form a schizophrenic narrative out of it all, but we can't remember any real mention of that basement scene. Weird.

Oh, Match Point. Yeah. The best SERIOUS one since Interiors. Actually we'll amend that to say, "The best SERIOUS one since ever." And that capitalization ain't no joke. Unlike some other heartbreaking Allen dramas there's no comic relief anywhere. No nebbishes. No Dixieland score. No foibles, no "bends/breaks" supporting characters, and no suede elbow-patched psychoanalytic banter. The Woods turned out quite the well-crafted flick, one that's cold and reserved and yet completely understandable, a feat we found all the more remarkable considering the sheer assholery of the main character. Don't cheat on someone, especially if that someone is your wife who loves you. Even with Scarlett Johansson.

Hey, speaking of assholes, here's another thing we don't understand. How is it possible that we like Harry Block but can't stand Alvy Singer? Everyone says, "I love Annie Hall," but when we gave it a second, third, and even a fourth chance it always failed to charm us. Our rational mind says Singer's only a kinda-jerk and Block's the hostile sonofabitch, but damnit if our irrational mind feels for the latter way more than the former. Strange, huh?

We also can't figure out why we never ever made it to the Cineplex to see Match Point. It played there for, like, six months and we saw Melinda and Melinda opening week!

25 November 2006

Casualties of War

Heavy-handed and obvious. Yeah, yeah, War Is Hell, Viet Nam Ruined Everything. We know. Marginally better than what may be the worst of Ho Chi Minh flicks, but only in terms of real actors, directing, and set design rather than in terms of Highland Cinema talkin' 'n chompin' enjoyment.

For my money I'd rather watch Mikey J chew the dramatic scenery in that two-parter Family Ties where his buddy dies in a wreck (here's a refresher) 'cause we had one heckuva hard time stifling "Doc!" outbursts during this flick. And why did The Pennster insist on B-movie channeling Bobby D anyway? At least we had dark horse supporting players Big John C and Johnny Legs to keep our trivia knowledge in the black.

The Michael J, Turkey Sandos, and Sierra Nevs Film Fest has officially come to a close...although it has been awhile since we've seen The Hard Way.

22 November 2006

Midnight Madness

As soon as we saw that scene where these cats head out to a Pabst brewery we walked right out the door and straight outside and down to the P-Deuce 'cause we didn't have any PBR in the entire house! Man, am I ever embarrassed to tell you guys that. I hope you can forgive us. At least take comfort in knowing we rectified the problem ASAP. It won't happen again.

This Midnight Madness, she is a movie that so predates the Highland Cinema that she ain't even a part of the El Moro Cinema, the Sixth Street Cinema, or the Victorville Cinema. A movie that goes so far back for our second-in-command that it's probably part of the, I dunno, Santa Maria Cinema or something. All I'll say is that I've been hearing about this flick for darn near 15 years and it was about time it got a spin around here. To get the real scoop read the super-sweet comment that will be posted below since nothing I'll say will do this movie justice in the eyes of the Timmons brothers.

For now know that this thing has motherfucking Eddie Deezen! Remember how he was in Punky Brewster? And a million fucking other movies? Everything from your Rhonda Shear-hosted Up All Night Classics to that Sesame Street movie and that cereal commercial. And, shit, the IMDB just told me he was in Laserblast! He plays a guy named Froggy! That's, like, so many Highland Cinema related references that I don't even want to explain them all.

19 November 2006

Class of 1984

Originally part of our proposed "Michael J Fox Meets Turkey Sandwiches and Sierra Nevadas Thanksgiving '06 Film Festival," but since other Thursday activities came our way we had to pop this one in early. And, holy shit, Mark L Lester made this?!?! Yes, that Mark L Lester, the guy who not only lensed Commando and Armed and Dangerous, but who also directed an all-time Highland Cinema classic you know as Showdown in Little Tokyo. Can't believe we missed that piece of info. Showdown is such signature Highlander stuff it's a wonder we haven't run through this guy's oeuvre already.

Class of '84 is standard Blackboard Jungle/Lean on Me fare where I Want to Change the World teacher finds that the World Changes Me (err...Him). The tough guys deal coke in the graffiti-laden bathrooms (OJ tags! No, really!), dress like windblown Suburbia punksters, and go so far as to rape Teach's wife right before the big school band concert. Pretty boring stuff actually, but the 2 AM TBS vibe, the pudgy Mikey J, and gratuitous Roddy McDowell kept us entertained and gave us much to yak about during the runtime. You may be tempted to change the channel at hour one's close, but stick around for the bloody finale where the bearded teach who looks like a character from every '80s late-night tv flick lights a dude on fire and slices up another on a tablesaw. And dig that bloody-face, wish-we-saw-a-protuding-eyeball hanging scene right before the end credits. Too cool!

Can you believe Roger Ebert loves this movie? Get well soon, Big Rog, you just gained some serious Cinema cred.

12 November 2006

The Russian Specialist

Dude, I totally have to buy that Dolph t-shirt.

The Vice Guide to Travel

David Cross is a preachy, smarmy, unfunny douchebag. Fuck him.

Fortunately he's just in that one extra.

The Vice Guide review on aQuarius is better than the actual flick. Read it, use your imagination, and it will save you mucho disappointment! Then enjoy the ViceLand website. If you're me you'll find that it fits your sensibility if not your lifestyle. It's like the Rotten Library became a magazine.

07 November 2006

Little Dieter Needs to Fly

Fuck it, Werner Herzog's good. That scene where Dieter Dengler talks about seeing his friend's head sliced off in the jungle will bring a mortal man to tears. I was asleep at the wheel for a few days and cursed myself for allowing this flick to show up at the doorstep, but my low expectations were erased within the first ten minutes. Dengler got shot down in Laos, escaped from a P.O.W. camp, and revisited the jungle thirty years later to tell you his story. True stuff filtered through a prism so Herzogian that the only thing that could make it moreso would be if Werner himself was onscreen. A great flick and a tale so good they decided to film it again.

06 November 2006

To Live and Die in L.A.

Willem Dafoe and John Turturro in the same scene. Take that, Heat!

Okay, this was another lame screening at the Highland Cinema. In spite of the fact he insisted Wang Chung score this flick, Billy Friedkin is still a favorite of ours. He could do no wrong for a good coupla years, but, man, did he ever lose it. Not as bad as the Copes, but still...

We also gotta give props to Billy L. Petersen. Talk about a shoulda-been go-to guy for them 1980s cop roles. So good in that movie that was later remade into a revisionist Lechter flick, but then...The Contender?!?!? Hmmm...quite the familiar arc. I'm sensing a trend here. Watch out, everyone else from this movie: you will start oh so cool and end oh so lame! At least Steve James left our sad and beautiful world before he turned into a shell of his former self. Rest in peace, my brother.