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Julia's Eyes

Spanish thriller about a woman who believes she's being stalked by the same thing that killed her sister (and made it look like a suicide.) Oh, yeah, and her eyesight is deteriorating (as was her sister's.) This is genuinely creepy even while dependent on hokey and annoying behaviour to carry the plot forward. But then, it is a Spanish thriller. Produced by Del Toro even though the only monsters in it are human (whoops, spoiler!.)

Don't watch this if even the idea of eye injury freaks you out.

Like most of the Spanish horror/thrillers I've watched, it's not brilliant but it is better than most of the recent English made thrillers.

This is Jinsy

One episode of this aggressively weird comedy series set on the mythical island of Jinsy. Similar to League of Gentlemen and Psychoville but even more removed from the real world. The actual world-building is good (weird customs and slightly different technology) but the funniest thing in the episode was David Tennant's performance as a Lionel Blair style MC. After Broadchurch it's easy to forget what a great comic performer he is.

Requiem From the Darkness

Anime series about an author in historical Japan investigating traditional Yokai hauntings for his book and coming across a trio of perhaps supernatural vigilantes who exact justice for the crime underlying each haunting.

I've only watched three episodes and they adhere to the same formula, though an overall arc is appearing (the vigilantes are working for someone or something that wants them to kill off the author - they are not sold on the prospect.)

Has an expressionistic fluid style of animation that gives it a dream-like appearance though it is ultimately a supernatural tinged version of Criminal Minds (at the heart of each story is a psychopath who's psychology is analogous to the Yokai/Spirit that the author is investigating.)

Monster House

Dan Harmon cowrote this CGI Spielbergiana. A trio of suburban kids find they have to take down an assertively haunted house before Halloween gives it an unlimited food source (of trick or treaters.) There's a bit of an edge, especially around the relationships at the heart of the film, that show touches of what Harmon brought to Community. Produced by Robert Zemeckis though the Spielberg protege it reminded me of was Joe Dante.
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Get this out on DVD so you can just watch Helen Mirren as Prospera, Chris Cooper as Antonio. David Strathairn as Alonso, Alan Cumming as Sebastian and Tom Conti as Gonzalo. Whilst Alfred Molina gives a great performance as Stephano, he does it in the company of Russell Brand's Trinculo.

Reeve Carney as Ferdinand is completely out of his depth - it's like he won some kind of competition in drama school.

The CGI (mainly Ben Wishaw's Ariel - which has reasonable performance under the pixels) is sometimes good, sometimes risible and Taymor cannot prevent herself from shouting her themes from the rooftops BECAUSE THAT'S WHAT YOU DO WITH ART AIMED AT AMERICAN AUDIENCES!

If Mirren's performance wasn't so good, I'd say it's not worth seeing (unless you're curious, of course.) But Mirren is excellent, her Prospera survives being drowned out by Taymor's directorial sound and fury, so this adaptation is not entirely missable.

But it wasn't as good as the first Tempest I'd seen with a female Prospero.
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Russia returns "lost" silent movies to the US.

Note that they did a much better job of preserving them than the US did. Sometime the best thing you can do for your cultural artefacts is export them.
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Nov. 11th, 2010 08:27 am

The Town

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The Town is the latest film directed by Ben Affleck (after Gone, Baby, Gone which I still haven't seen.) Affleck plays a bank robber who checks up on a potential witness (a woman they took as a hostage - Rebecca Hall) and finds himself falling in love with her.

It has some wonderful performances - even Affleck himself isn't too bad (I think he may be a better writer/director than actor), great location work (you do get a sense of the city of Boston and what makes it different from other US cities) and an engaging plot. It just wasn't anything especially outstanding.

The one issue I had with the experience was nothing to do with the film but everything to do with the cinema. I don't think I've seen a film at the "Event" Cinemas in George Street that hasn't been off-frame or out of focus or otherwise sloppily projected. I put up with a sliver of the top part of the frame appearing at the bottom, because it can take ages to find someone who can actually get into the projection booth to fix the problem. I put up with it, because there was always the possibility of making it worse.

I'm sick of huge cinema chains that are happy to take our money but don't feel they are in anyway required to supply a commensurate amount of service. I guess I'll just have to stick to the smaller cinemas from now on, and catch up with what I'm interested in the larger cinemas on DVD. It's just not worth going to Event Cinemas any more.
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(basically a reposted comment from [livejournal.com profile] dfordoom 's request for recommendations )

(Fantasy)

Zu: Warriors of the Magic Mountain - the original with Sammo Hung and Yuen Biao - the remake, albeit still directed by Tsui Hark, has been criticised for overuse of CGI. I haven't seen it.

Mr Vampire - funny, classic take on the Chinese Hopping Vampires. Avoid the sequels.

A Chinese Ghost Story - Parts 1 and 2 are pretty essential, 3 is not so good.

(Jackie Chan)

Project A - Chan's best film, also starring Sammo and Yuen Biao (aka the Three Dragons). Fun romp with the Dragons taking on an evil pirate gang with an amazing Buster Keaton inspired scene in the climax.

Drunken Master and Drunken Master 2 - DM is classic early Chan, DM2, made 16 years later but set a day later, is pretty good later Chan

Police Story 1 and 3 - PS was one of Chan's biggest hits and has a great fight in a shopping mall at the end. I'm not a big fan of PS 3 but Michelle Yeoh is in it, and that makes up for a lot.

(Period)

Burning Paradise - A fairly brutal action/adventure film based on one small part of a popular novel series. Almost a kung fu version of a prison film (though set in the Chinese equivalent of the middle ages.)

Once Upon A Time in China Parts 1 and 2 - Jet Li before he went to America. Wong Fei Hung was a real martial artist and popular fok hero (and the character Jackie Chan plays in the Drunken Master films). Great period films (set around the turn of the 20th century) but avoid 3 onwards.

The Barefoot Kid - Very good throwback to Shaw Brothers style kung fu films. One of Johnny To's first films (now a major HK director.)

(Modern Day)

Royal Warriors/In The Line of Duty - This was my first introduction to Michelle Yeoh (from Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon) and I still think it contains some of the most amazing fight scenes committed to celluloid. My friends and I watched this over and over again.

Eastern Condors - Not exactly contemporary (it's set in Vietnam) but a stunning kung fu version of the Dirty Dozen starring the major stars of HK cinema at the time (with the notable absence of Jackie Chan.)

(Stephen Chow)

One of my favourite current film makers so he deserves a section to himself. Only a couple of his films really relate to HK Martial Arts films though (he's much more of a comedian then a martial artist):

Shaolin Soccer - Not my favourite film of his (that would have to be his hilarious Bond parody From Beijing With Love) but my favourite sports film and probably his most consistently entertaining film. I could watch it over and over again.

Kung Fu Hustle - a hommage to Bruce Lee and the Wuxia films of his childhood and an affectionate pisstake on Shaw Brothers films. More overtly cartoonish then even Shaolin Soccer but a lot of fun.
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Eli Roth programs a 24 hour horror film festival

(and I'm impressed by some of his choices but, as you can imagine, it's a little too gore heavy for my tastes.)

In fact - let's make this a challenge - Post your ultimate 24 horror film festival running from 12pm to 12am.

I'll work on mine over the weekend (when I have some real time available.)

The 24 Hour Horror People Challenge

Your task is to program a 24 hour festival of horror films, tv episodes etc that will run from 12pm to 12pm the following day. Justify your choices for each particular slot. Use Eli Roth's list ( http://www.avclub.com/content/feature/24_hours_of_horror_with_eli/1 )  as a guide to format.

Some ground rules

- it runs strictly from 12pm to 12pm (no going over because you want to fit in that season of Buffy)
- everything you choose has to be freely available on DVD or as a digital download (and watchable through a television set - so no Flash animation please)
- you can include short films, tv shows, even documentaries
- an English language option (either dubbed or subbed) has to be available.

Post this on your own blog to get others interested (use the 24hourhorrorpeople tag so I can locate the entries) and I'll post links to all the entries on Halloween (Australian time)

So get cracking!

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