Friday, December 31, 2010

Movie Sketch Project #22

Well, it's the last Movie Sketch Project of the year, and I have to say I'm kind of proud I've made it this far. I missed a couple of weeks, and some were half-assed doodles, but for others I made more than one per week so it probably evens out. I really enjoy making these pieces, and find myself walking out of almost every movie with a half-formed inspiration for a new drawing or poster, wishing I had time to try them all. I've been experimenting a bit more and working on my digital skills, which I think have been improving. I've also been endeavoring to avoid over-working my pieces and delving into more minimalistic ideas (both of which are honestly quite difficult for me). Anyway, I hope to continue to be inspired and to create things regularly for all of next year. Thanks, internet, for keeping me motivated. If this is new to you, try taking a look through my previous entries and let me know what you think! And of course, my favorite works are up for sale if you're interested. Carry on to today's double entry!

Anyway, this week I have two pieces for you since last time I was without a scanner and kind of pooped out. The first is a diptych drawing dedicated to that awesome tomboy drummer Watts, as played by Mary Stuart Masterson in Some Kind of Wonderful. I had some fun with the red ink here. Buy the original.

Next up is a digital painting for a movie that I've reviewed for 366 Weird Movies- but it hasn't posted yet: Vampire Girl vs Frankenstein Girl. I actually thought it was just ok, but I dug the idea of a knife-wielding Frankenstein Girl who can unscrew her limbs like Sally in The Nightmare Before Christmas. So here's an image inspired by the character, started off as a pen drawing and evolved in photoshop. I'm still fiddling with it, mainly figuring out what sort of text to do on the left-hand side and touching up some lines. So this is a bit of an in-progress shot.

PS I hope everyone has a fun New Year's Eve!


Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Das Testament des Dr. Mabuse (The Testament of Dr. Mabuse) (1933)

Long train rides are pretty great for catching up on the many films that accumulate on my external harddrive. Exhibit A: Fritz Lang's horror-mystery The Testament of Dr Mabuse. The sloppy, forthright Commissioner Lohmann (Otto Wernicke) finds himself faced with a perplexing jewelry heist, mysterious murder, and fear-induced madness afflicting his former coworker. All of his investigations keep leading back to a mental institution run by Professor Baum (Oscar Beregi, Sr) and a mute criminal mastermind committed there years ago called Dr. Mabuse (Rudolf Klein-Rogge). Would-be lovers Thomas (Gustav Diessl) and Lilli (Wera Liessem) are also involved, sort of.

This is a sequel to Lang's silent Dr. Mabuse the Gambler, with a script loosely based on Norbert Jacques's novel. It is also Lang's second talkie. These factors come into play in the final product, with the doctor's backstory somewhat clumsily thrown in and a few over-the-top performances reminiscent of a silent film. It took me a little bit to become really absorbed, but luckily Lang is so adept at creating a tense atmosphere and compelling narrative structure that I did eventually get hooked. The mystery isn't so much who the secret mastermind is (that's obvious early on), but who will find out first, who will win in the battle of criminal vs police, and of course: who will die. It's a fairly long film, but once the characters and layout are set-up, Lang is able to weave everything together intriguingly enough to justify most of the runtime.

Otto Wernicke is just excellent as Lohmann, encapsulating a character so grungy, dedicated, and blunt that you can't help but love him. He played the same role in M, the only other Lang talkie I've yet seen, and continues to just have fun with it. I am once again awed by Rudolf Klein-Rogge, who manages to utterly captivate here even in his mute, limited appearance as Dr Mabuse. He's one of my favorite parts about Metropolis, and I'm definitely resolving to see more of his movies forthwith. Character-wise I was pretty bored by reticent (and whiny) criminal lackey Thomas and his wide-eyed, empty-headed girlfriend Lilli. Their relationship is irrelevant to the over-arching story and poorly-developed, only serving to take time away from the more interesting scenes with Lohmann, Baum, and the criminal network. Luckily they partially redeemed themselves with a totally awesome scenario in which they make many desperate attempts to break out of a room with a timed bomb.

The Testament of Dr Mabuse is filled with wonderful characters, clever camera work, an interesting story, and a number of tense, explosive moments. It takes a bit too long to set itself up, and the romantic subplot is useless, but otherwise I was wholly engaged in the narrative and visuals- the translucent Mabuse ghost who pops up in a few shots is honestly still creepy to me. If it could be trimmed down by about 20 minutes, I think it would be a truly brilliant film.


Pair This Movie With: I mentioned M earlier, and I think that's a good follow-up. It's got all the tension and intrigue, but minus the lovey-dovey stuff. Plus a young, pudgy Peter Lorre! Aww! Seriously though, it's a jaw-droppingly great movie. One I should re-watch soon.


Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Heart and Souls (1993)

While making a high-concept Charles Grodin-themed christmas card for my favorite guy, I was inspired to watch one of those great oversentimental comedies starring another favorite guy, Robert Downey, Jr: Heart and Souls. When a lascivious busdriver (David Paymer) causes the deaths of four passengers in the 50's, their souls are attached to newborn baby Thomas. They follow him around, caring for him as best friends only he can see, but decide to make themselves invisible to him when the boy's seemingly crazy antics lead to trouble at school and with his parents. He of course grows up (as Robert Downey, Jr) to be a self-serving jerk with commitment issues. The four ghosts learn that they were supposed to use his body to take care of their unfinished business, and suddenly reappear to him and make him help them out, learning lessons about love, loyalty, and sacrifice along the way. Aww.

This movie is all about the adorable characters and superb cast. With Tom Sizemore as a sex-obsessed thief, Charles Grodin as a mild-mannered opera singer with crippling stage fright, Alfre Woodard as a hardworking mother, and Kyra Sedgwick as a sassy waitress, you've got an entertaining collection of ghosts. Robert Downey, Jr's turn as a corporate asshole with a secretly good heart binds them all together for a lovable crew who's just fun to watch. Oh yeah, and Elisabeth Shue shows up too as Thomas's girlfriend. Some people probably like that.

Much of the film is just these guys hanging out, bantering and bickering, engaging in body-control shenanigans, and it's an enjoyable time. The premise is interesting and while the script does lean towards the saccharine and over-sentimentality, it's just so good that it's hard not to give in and get all emotional along with everyone else. It's a sweet, funny, well-acted film with some decent (and slightly goofy) 90's special effects and one of my favorite musical moments. Awesome.


Pair This Movie With: A few months ago I recommended this as a good pairing with Drop Dead Fred, plus Harvey if you want a triple feature. Well that was easy!


Monday, December 27, 2010

Yoo-Hoo, Mrs. Goldberg (2009)

I think I was abroad when Yoo-Hoo, Mrs. Goldberg came out, and it was highly recommended to me by my grandma (whose taste I trust implicitly), but it was catching some clips of the incredible Gertrude Berg on a "History of Comedy in America"-type special that finally had me see it. Gertrude Berg is, of course, a woman who took over radio and television in the 30's, 40's, and 50's- also known as "The Most Famous Woman You've Never Heard Of". The daughter of European Jewish immigrants, wife of a successful engineer, and mother of two became a successful writer and actress as creator and star of "The Goldbergs", a radio program about a Jewish family living in New York City. Its relatable stories and realistic portrayals of Jewish characters made it popular and progressive, but behind the scenes Gertrude had to deal with hurdles of anti-Semitism, sexism, and especially McCarthyism.

I admit, I'd never heard of Gertrude Berg or her show, and I'm still not sure why it's been forgotten today. She was certainly an interesting and determined woman, and it was great to learn about how she accomplished so much at a time when an older Jewish woman wouldn't be expected to have such independent success. Director Aviva Kempner assembles interviews from relatives, former coworkers, and biographers to create a complex sketch of the hardworking writer. The focus is primarily on her work in media and relationship to her popular character Molly Goldberg, featuring a lot of footage from the different incarnations of the show.

I enjoyed the peek behind the scenes of radio and early television programs, but I regretted that there was less insight into Berg's personal life. While it was great to hear anecdotes from her grandchildren, I imagine if those closest to her had still been alive there would be a greater range of interview material. As it stands, Yoo-Hoo, Mrs. Goldberg is a fascinating look at a unique woman and her experiences in media, but I wish it'd been a bit more in-depth.


Pair This Movie With: Hmm. This really doesn't ring any comparisons to other movies I've seen. I Could Never Be Your Woman offers a look at an older lady writing for television in the contemporary world so that might be a good follow-up.


Sunday, December 26, 2010

TRON: Legacy (2010)

Let me just remind everyone that while the first TRON is a lot of fun and has some great visual design, it isn't the best thing ever. So when I found out that a sequel was being made, I thought, "Awesome, hopefully this time the gorgeous visuals will have a well-thought-out story to match." That didn't quite happen with TRON: Legacy.

A few years after taking over technology giant Encom, computer genius Flynn (Jeff Bridges) disappears while working to incorporate what he discovered in "the grid" into our world. His abandoned son Sam (Garrett Hedlund) grows up to be a thrill-seeking brat, uninterested in taking over his father's company despite being the largest shareholder and gifted at computers himself. After a tip from an old friend, he's unwittingly transported into the grid and finds his father trapped there under a perfection-obsessed program called Clu. With the help of Flynn's vivacious prodigy Quorra (Olivia Wilde), father and son work to defeat Clu and bust out of the system into their own world.

The visuals are phenomenal, there's no doubt about that. I saw it in imax 3D, which I'd recommend for anyone who has access to it. The switch from 2D real world to 3D computer world is a clever twist, and I definitely dug the pristine neon glow, geometric shapes, and remarkably tight costumes. The 3D is used fairly well, amping up the lightcycle racing and discus throwing and whatnot, and the world that's been created feels weighty and real. The main effect that didn't work well was the de-aged Jeff Bridges as the Clu program. His face is plasticine and uncanny, feeling more like a video game or Polar Express character. It wouldn't have been so noticeable if he wasn't always interacting with very real people around him, who just serve as a reminder that we aren't quite at the level where we can realistically digitally reconstruct people's faces yet.

What's frustrating about Tron: Legacy is that it does try to give this whole premise more depth, complexity, and emotion, but it doesn't try very hard. The acting is pretty flat except for Bridges, who seems to be having a good time wandering high around a glowing set while young people deal with their hormones. Hedlund is boring as hell, Wilde doesn't get much to do, Michael Sheen is inappropriately over the top as a flamboyant bar owner, Cillian Murphy shows up for five minutes and that's nice. A large-scale moralistic battle with tons of "lives" at stake is established, but it isn't felt, and I wish there'd been more explanation or context for the whole half-human, half-computer people or whatever they were. Or more about Tron the character. Or more... something that didn't involve Sam, I guess, since he was the last thing I cared about. The script tries, but flails, in part due to its over-ambiguity, uninteresting protagonist, and unsatisfying climax. I definitely wouldn't have minded if they just had their story set in this crazy fantasy world with little explanation- that's what the first one did- but don't half-explain something and then forget about it.

Anyway, I've gone on long enough I expect. In many ways, the film is a lot of fun, filled with exciting action scenes, mind-blowing visuals, attractive people, and the ever-adorable Jeff Bridges. I just think it fell short of its potential. At least the first one has all the nostalgia and cuteness of "Aw, look how people in the 80's thought about computers" to keep it interesting.


Pair This Movie With: I do think it's much better to go into Tron: Legacy with a recent viewing of Tron. There are a lot of little throwbacks to the original, and I was glad I'd re-watched it a few days before taking in the sequel.


Friday, December 24, 2010

Movie Sketch Project #21

I did a sketch of Mary Stuart Masterson as the awesome Watts in Some Kind of Wonderful, but then realized that I don't have a scanner or camera because I'm at my parents' house and they're not really too focused on technology. So sorry, I can't upload this week's movie sketch project- maybe when I get home on Monday. For now, though, here's an updated version of last week's True Grit drawing. I turned it into a poster dedicated to Hailee Steinfeld, since she's awesome. It's for sale, too.

As an added bonus, and to prove that I am able to make art that isn't movie-based, here is an overly-flashed photo of a painting I did for my dad's christmas present. He was a bridge painter and he worked on the George Washington Bridge, so here is a painting of the GWB for his office, get it? I hope he likes it.


Thursday, December 23, 2010

Constantine (2005)

Hey-oh, time for my favorite Keanu Reeves not-so-guilty pleasure movie! Drawing from the Hellblazer comic series (starring a character created by Alan "The Grouch" Moore), Constantine follows John Constantine (Keanu Reeves), an asshole private detective with one foot in hell, rapidly worsening lung disease, and a host of half-breed demons to contend with. When a powerful psychic seemingly commits suicide, her cop sister Angela (Rachel Weisz) teams up with John to uncover a new plot against humanity. It seems the devil's son is ready to take over his father's kingdom, threatening to break the delicate balance that's been maintained between heaven and hell for centuries.

I honestly have no idea why people don't like this movie. It's certainly corny and over the top at times, but it is a hell of a lot of fun and really quite visually impressive. I know it isn't exactly a straight adaptation of the comics (though I've only read a couple scattered trades), and that's understandably a frustrating thing for fans, but as a stand-alone film it's damned entertaining. The effects are pretty great and I dig a lot of the monsters as well as the dramatic shooting style. Hell is imagined as a dry, gritty wasteland with dulled sounds and lots of wind. A demon manifests itself from scuttling creatures. The devil is pale white while treading black goo behind his bare feet as he walks. It's just got some interesting ideas.

I love how much of an asshole Keanu gets to be and I love how progressively shitty he looks as he goes about his magical business. I love how over-serious and deep-voiced Rachel Weisz is. I love that Gavin Rossdale is in this movie. I truly adore Tilda Swinton as gender-neutral archangel Gabriel and Peter Stormare as a snarky devil. And Shia LaBeouf is there too. The cast seems to have a lot of fun, aware that the script is somewhat tongue-in-cheek even as it does lean more towards drama (what with all the suicides and apocalypses and whatnot). Constantine is flawed of course, I'm not making any proclamation as to its genuinely badass status, but it's full of imagination and I always have a fun time watching it.


Pair This Movie With: It depends on your mood. I'd say Night Watch for more otherworldly mystery solving and awesome visuals, or Johnny Mnemonic for even cheesier Keanu Reeves science-fiction.


Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Die Hard (1988)

Oh, it must be Christmas. Time to watch Bruce Willis's white tank top get progressively browner over the course of a few hours in Die Hard. Radness. When the powerful Nakatomi Corporation cruelly throws its holiday party on Christmas eve, sarcastic New York cop John McClane (Willis) finds his visit to LA thrown into chaos by a group of German terrorists led by the impeccably-groomed Hans Gruber (Alan Rickman). They hold the entire party hostage- including McClane's wife (Bonnie Bedelia)- but McClane is able to escape their notice and proceeds to clandestinely wreak havoc on their plans to rob the company's heavily-secured safe. The LAPD and the FBI eventually get involved, but only manage to make things worse.

Well, obviously this movie's awesome, as I think most of you would agree. This is what so many action movies aspire to be but few actually rise to its level. It's the perfect combination of memorable, charismatic star, deliciously snide villain, nail-biting tension, and all-out explosive action. It includes the important commentary that everyone sucks except for John McClane- it really sticks it to the LAPD, the FBI, businesspeople, and terrorists. While it certainly is a thrilling action flick with plenty of death-defying high jinks, fist fights, and shootouts, Die Hard is also pretty smart. It weaves in interesting characters and their uncertain interactions to make for some very tense, boggling moments. The story itself isn't incredibly complex or high-minded, but includes enough twists and surprises and peps it all up with great dialogue.

Willis is the perfect unlikely hero- snarky, unsure, and emotionally compromised but at the same time very resourceful and dedicated. I dig Willis in basically anything, but he's probably always going to be at his best as the now-iconic John McClane. Alan Rickman is such a good villain here, funny and clever and ruthless, with an ever-slipping German accent that makes me giggle a bit. I could watch these two spar for countless sequels. My favorite character is obviously Argyle (De'voreaux White), who is hilarious and adorable AND useful as McClane's fun-loving limo driver.

There's not much else I can say that you shouldn't already know. Die Hard rules. The end. Merry Christmas, God Bless Us Every One.


PS Maybe you like the Die Hard christmas card I made?

Pair This Movie With: Well so few movies will stack up to it, I guess it makes sense to just continue on to the sequels. I've never seen the second, but I dig Die Hard With a Vengeance and Live Free or Die Hard.

Further Reading:
Snarky's Machine review


Monday, December 20, 2010

Some Kind of Wonderful (1987)

So in 1986 John Hughes wrote a little movie called Pretty in Pink. It is probably my favorite of his Molly Ringwald trilogy, except for the fact that (spoiler alert) at the end she ends up with the god-awful, bland-as-hell Andrew McCarthy instead of the totally cute and eclectically-dressed Jon Cryer. It's a problem. Hughes thought it was a problem too, so a year later he made Some Kind of Wonderful, a movie with the exact same premise and director, less famous actors, a different song-as-movie-title, an over-intense poster, and the correct ending.

Eric Stoltz plays Keith, a sensitive artist-type and part-time mechanic whose dad is always getting on him about applying to business college even though he'd rather just paint. His best friend Watts (Mary Stuart Masterson) is a drum-playing tomboy who totally wants to date him but hasn't had the courage to act on her feelings. Keith has his eye on Amanda Jones (Lea Thompson), a beautiful and popular student who agrees to go out on a date with him as a refuge from her asshole ex-boyfriend. Various notions about class divisions, self-realization, parental expectations, high school stereotypes, and true love are explored.

Yeah sure, it's basically a ripoff of his own movie, though more dramatic and with less famous actors, but I really appreciate what Hughes did with Some Kind of Wonderful. It's a fairly simple film, but it works due to its well-rounded characters and straightforward story-telling. It doesn't obsess over hipness or style the way Pretty in Pink does, and it isn't quite as caught up in the "Oooooh nooo we're so poor, everything is the worst despite being white, employed, good-looking, healthy, and able to spend money on bars and hair product" rhetoric either. For the most part it really just focuses on character and a rockin' soundtrack, along with some cheesy dialogue and after-school special themes.

Eric Stoltz has this weird hunky/goofy vibe that makes me unsure whether or not I'm attracted to him, but he's ultimately likable even if his character is a clueless jerk half the time. Plus he likes art! Lea Thompson has big hair and an accusative tone working in her favor, though she comes off a bit whiny. I never really start to like her until she confronts Keith about how he's "using" her for her looks and status, just like everybody does. It was nice to see such a self-aware teenage girl. The real star of this movie is of course Mary Stuart Masterson, who is completely awesome as Watts. She's got style, spunk, wit, and a killer drum set, and I kind of cut my hair to resemble hers after watching it the other day. (I am way too influenced by hairstyles in movies.) She's just so cute! She's a great mix of strong, independent loner and love-sick teenager, making for a believable and relatable lady. She makes the movie, no question.

Some Kind of Wonderful: This time John Hughes didn't let test audiences change the ending to his movie. (And thank goodness.)


Pair This Movie With: I guess Pretty in Pink is the most obvious, but it really would work quite well!

My original art for this film is for sale.


Sunday, December 19, 2010

Mystery Team (2009)

While I think Derrick Comedy had some good sketches and I enjoy Donald Glover in Community, I mostly sought out Mystery Team for its intriguing premise. And also because Simon reminded me that I wanted to see it. Three friends known for their Encyclopedia Brown-esque detective work as children strive to keep up the game into their teens. Jason (Donald Glover) is a "master of disguise" and the most adamant. Duncan (DC Pierson) is a "boy genius" after memorizing an outdated book of trivia. Charlie (Dominic Dierkes) is the "strongest boy in the world", can't lift more than a few pounds, and a little slow on the uptake. When a little girl comes to the team to ask them to solve the recent murder of her parents, the gang takes the case to prove how grown-up they are, but soon find themselves in over their heads as their friendship is strained by a real mystery. Meanwhile Jason wants to date their client's sister (Aubrey Plaza).

This is a tell-tale first feature, with come interesting concepts and a dedicated cast, but an ultimately uneven execution. The script is funny, but feels all over the place in its variety of styles, gags, and themes. It has some great moments and really silly ideas, and the central cast is excellent in their decidedly goofy roles, but the mix of "dudes not acting their age" comedy, high school drama, drug deals, real estate intrigue, strip club espionage, and over-intense shootout doesn't transition well. For the most part I really enjoyed Donald Glover's wacky antics, Aubrey Plaza's adorable snide comments, and the various references to kids' mystery books. It's an entertaining movie and I'm glad I finally watched it, but I think these guys still need to work on their long-form comedy.


Pair This Movie With: Ah fuck, I don't know. I have a headache. Pineapple Express?


Friday, December 17, 2010

Movie Sketch Project #20

After watching both True Grits I knew I wanted to do something dedicated to my new favorite character Mattie Ross. I thought it unfortunate that Hailee Steinfeld- who plays Mattie in the new version- doesn't get any credit on the posters because she's not famous or whatever, while Josh Brolin gets equal billing to Bridges and Damon despite the fact that he is in about two scenes. Her name isn't even on the one with her picture. So I'm making up a new poster just for her. I did three versions of this last night and am still not happy with it, so I will be playing around in photoshop to make it better, similar to my Black Swan thing last week. Unfortunately I won't have time to do it until Sunday probably since I have work as well as a painting I have to do for an xmas gift. Sooooo keep an eye out for something better than this, but for now here's a preview. I need to take a better photo for sure. Also this is just a detail shot.

PS Uhhh buy my stuff?


Thursday, December 16, 2010

"I Have a Good Lawyer" Double Feature: True Grit (1969) and True Grit (2010)

So somebody (me) got to see a screening of the Coen brothers' new film True Grit. Despite waiting in the cold for half an hour it was pretty cool. A few days prior I had watched the original True Grit for the first time, and was really impressed by it. I haven't read the source novel, but it must be pretty rad since as I understand it both films are fairly true adaptations. The most important part is they both feature a completely awesome, totally ballsy, determined, and capable young lady. The unfortunate part is they are almost the same movie.

When a drunken employee kills her father, 14-year-old Mattie Ross (Kim Darby) sets out to avenge his death. She hires gruff alcoholic federal marshal Rooster Cogburn (John Wayne) to track down the culprit- who goes by Tom Chaney. Cocky Texas ranger La Boeuf (Glen Campbell), who's been tracking Chaney for another murder, joins up with them and the trio goes after a notorious robber whom he's involved with. Mattie must continually fight to be respected and treated as an equal, eventually proving herself more than useful in the chase.

Yeah, so good for John Wayne, he got his Oscar, and he wears an awesome eyepatch, and he's funny and gruff and gritty all over the place. And, ok, so Glen Campbell got to sing the theme song and wear spurs, and be a middling actor. But really, this movie is so completely all about Kim Fucking Darby as Mattie Fucking Ross, who quickly became one of my new favorite characters ever on film. My adoration began early, spotting Darby's adorable pixie cut and set jaw, and exponentially increased with each new cool thing she did. She's sharp and witty, well-spoken and good with numbers, always speaks her mind, can ride a horse and shoot a gun, and just generally gets shit done. However, she remains a realistic character with frequent reminders of her youth in her stubbornness, fear, and childish interests. She's just great all around, really. It was so unexpected to see a character like that in a John Wayne western in 1969, I admit I had underestimated the filmmakers.

The plot is typical western revenge territory, setting itself apart primarily through memorable and interesting characters and their well-developed relationships, along with some cool twists and gorgeous vistas. The film does fall prey to a few expected "60's western" setbacks in its slow pacing at the beginning and somewhat garish color palette, but overall True Grit is just fantastic. It's even got a young Dennis Hopper for like five minutes! Wowee!


Ok so the plot of the remake is essentially exactly the same, there's even a lot of the same dialogue (I assume they both lifted right out of the book). This time Mattie is played by newcomer Hailee Steinfeld, Rooster is Jeff Bridges with an eyepatch on the other eye, La Boeuf is Matt Damon, and Tom Chaney is a rather skinny Josh Brolin. The main story difference is La Boeuf splits up from the search for a little while, and there are a few kooky characters added in true Coen form, but that's about it. Also there's a much more kick-ass climax, involving a character being shot and then falling off a cliff. Rad.

So I'm sort of torn about this movie. It's really, really good, no doubt about it, with a great cast, tongue-in-cheek dark humor, and gorgeous cinematography with great use of browns and blues. However, overall it's very close to the original film and really doesn't improve upon much. Hailee Steinfeld is great as Mattie, especially considering her age (13) and inexperience. She's a bit more grounded in her performance, but also less lively than Darby. Bridges is great, as is his want, but his over-thick accent made him too comical at times and a little hard to understand. Damon is very good as La Boeuf, but the role is diminished so it doesn't stand out much. I didn't love Brolin as Chaney, finding his speech affectation unsettling and confusing, but I did enjoy the brief appearance from Barry Pepper.

While I dug a few of the changes (mostly that climactic death thing I mentioned), I think a few other things were done better in the original. For example, I didn't feel the relationship between Rooster and Mattie is as well-developed in the new one; I just didn't feel it as much. In the end, it all balances out, and so I really don't think there needs to be two versions of True Grit. I'm glad this new one will introduce more audiences to the story, and I'm so glad a talented new actress like Steinfeld has the opportunity to work with big actors and receive such exposure, but it just feels weird that two of these things exist. The Coens needed to make it more Coensy so it would stand out more, I guess. I know if I hadn't recently seen the first one I wouldn't be so caught up in it, but I can't help looking at it that way.


PS Oh also on the off-hand chance that the couple who sat behind me at the Harvard screening reads this: you people are awful. Especially the guy. Stop talking so much and over-reacting to every single thing and yelling at the screen. You suck. Have you never been to a movie before? Is this new to you? Learn basic etiquette before you leave the house, please.

My original poster design for this film is for sale.


Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Time Bandits (1981)

Oh Terry Gilliam, you delightful rascal. Of course you would make a mostly-family-friendly fantasy adventure starring a motley collection of little people that also criticizes contemporary materialism and Christian doctrine. Of. Course. When a group of the Supreme Being's helpers get a hold of his map detailing open pockets of time ready for traveling through, they quickly decide to use it as a means of getting very rich. They accidentally bring young Kevin (Craig Warnock) along for the ride, and while he enjoys meeting various historical figures, he is disheartened by his companions' underhanded and selfish schemes. Meanwhile, the long-imprisoned Evil Genius (David Warner) sees the map as his ticket out, and seeks to coerce our heroes into handing it over.

I know several people who don't like Time Bandits and others who were terrified by it as children. I understand both of these things, but personally I was pretty ok with it all. It's a fun movie with a dark undertone and a lot of ambitious visual effects, much like Gilliam's later Adventures of Baron Munchausen. His films never lack for imagination, and while it didn't impress me as much as Brazil or Tideland in its scope, I did love a lot of his stylistic flourishes and strange concepts. The giant wearing a ship for a hat, the horse and rider bursting out of a closet, the Minotaur battle, the invisible barrier outside Evil Genius's prison- there's a number of just flat-out awesome images here.

While the kid is pretty annoying, that's basically expected of any young person in any movie (as in real life), so I could forgive it. Especially since the rest of the cast is excellent! I loved David Rappaport as Randall, the clever de facto leader of the bandits, who gives the gang direction as well as reticent heart. Appearances from Ian Holm as a hot-tempered Napoleon Bonaparte, Jim Broadbent as a charismatic game show host, and Michael Palin and Shelley Duvall as an unlucky couple were much appreciated, but I think that Sean Connery as father-figure Agamemnon and John Cleese as a decidedly too jovial Robin Hood are tied for the best.

The jokes range from hokey to satirically clever (I loved the God vs Devil = Antiquatedness vs New Technology angle) and the script is a bit uneven with a strange set of endings. But it's Gilliam, it's beautiful, it's weird, it's funny: I enjoyed it. Now all I have left is Jabberwocky and I'll have seen all of his feature films and most shorts. Rad.


Pair This Movie With: I think the adventurous spirit and goofy humor would go well with The Princess Bride. Though at parts I was also reminded of The Witches, which would work well too.


Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Black Swan at 366 Weird Movies

So, I'm still kind of obsessing over Black Swan. I almost hate to say this because it sounds so hoity-toity, but I think it's an almost perfect film. I can't think of anything I didn't like. I was completely and utterly engrossed for the entire runtime, tensed up like crazy in anticipation of every new scene. It's a visceral horror film and an emotional dramatic thriller packed with gorgeous visuals and intense performances, and it's certainly my favorite Aronofsky film to date.

I wrote an in-depth review of it for 366 Weird Movies and I would love if you gave it a read! I did my best to avoid major plot spoilers.

It was also last week's Movie Sketch Project entry, in case you missed it! I'm pretty proud of the print I made.


Monday, December 13, 2010

Dead Space (1991)

Well, Roger Corman's name is on it and it stars Brian Cranston and the Beastmaster and it looked like a hilarious Alien ripoff soooooo why not? You know? Guess I should learn to not always trust my instincts. Dead Space tells the sordid tale of a bunch of scientists working to cure a deadly virus who inadvertently create a murderous, mutating monster. A dude who was flying around nearby and his robot Tinpan are called in to try and kill it. That's all the plot summary I'm able to muster at the moment.

So I don't have much to say about this movie. The only entertaining thing about it is the goofy 90's hairstyles and goddawful melodramatic acting, but they can't really carry it far. For the most part it's just people running around a ridiculously smoke-machiney complex while a huge animatronic alien thing jerks around at them. And it's basically boring. It's the kind of movie that would be perfect MST3K fodder but is uninteresting on its own. Whatever.


Watch Instead: Oh, Alien, Aliens, Alien Cubed, Alien: Resurrection... take your pick. (Well, maybe not Alien Cubed.)


Sunday, December 12, 2010

Flandersui gae (Barking Dogs Never Bite) (2000)

Boom. I've just crushed Bong Joon-ho's filmography. His first feature Barking Dogs Never Bite was finally released in the US a few months ago, thank goodness. With his clever eye for strange horror/dark comedy blends, Bong tells the story of Yun-ju (Lee Sung-jae), a penniless humanities student hoping to become a professor. He finds out he can bribe the head of the department for the position, but struggles to come up with the money (his pregnant wife/girlfriend has been floating him for a while). His stress is increased by a yappy dog in his apartment complex who won't shut up, and so Yun-ju turns to killing local dogs he thinks are the noisy culprit. Meanwhile, a young woman (Bae Doo-na) who works for his building's administrative office begins looking for the missing pets as tenants give her "Have you seen this dog?" posters to stamp.

Bong works from a fairly sparse script that relies more on individual situations than a comprehensive narrative. The dialogue is often vague or seemingly irrelevant, but the awesome camera tricks and sly humor give it a fascinating edge. I felt the general lack of story, but was also aware of how engaged I was. Bong works in a number of genre implications and mood swings to make a very hard-to-classify film, leaving his audience to sit through a range of funny, scary, sad, and confusing moments until it's not even one hundred percent clear what they just watched. And that's a good thing.

While not as thrilling as Mother, action-packed as The Host, or twisted as Memories of Murder, Barking Dogs Never Bite is just a cool, strange little film. Bae Doo-na and Lee Sung-jae are both excellent as the leads, while the supporting cast gets in some badass moments. And don't worry, the opening titles assured me that no animals were harmed in the making of this film.


Pair This Movie With: In its shifting tone and mix of dark humor and subtle domestic horror I was reminded of Jane Campion's excellent Sweetie, although that might be because I watched it recently.


Saturday, December 11, 2010

Faster (2010)

Sometimes movies look like a lot of fun from the trailer, but turn out to be fairly serious, quasi-moralistic shoot-em-ups. That is what happened to me and Faster. Dwayne Johnson stars as a recently-released bank robber known only as "Driver". Within an hour of leaving prison he sets out on a one-track revenge mission to kill all those involved in his brother's death eight years prior. A druggy cop (Billy Bob Thornton) a week to retirement takes the case with the no-nonsense Detective Cicero (Carla Gugino) as they try to track down the elusive killer and find the connection between his victims. Meanwhile, a bored, wealthy assassin (Oliver Jackson-Cohen) is hired to take Driver out, but finds himself torn between his thrill-seeking job and his new wife Lily (Maggie Grace).

Despite its stupid title, Faster has the makings of a pretty cool, hardboiled action thriller. It helps that Dwayne Johnson is quite likable, playing the role straight and giving Driver a palpable "Don't fuck with me" edge. I'm pretty sure with the right role/franchise he could be a very successful action star, and this movie hints at that. Thornton is good as the loser cop desperate to get back with his ex-wife (Moon Bloodgood) and struggling to balance work and family. His intentions and motivations are often unclear, and his connection to the case itself pulls together well (though it's predictable by the middle of the film). Also he gets to chill with Carla Gugino, who is great despite her constant stream of so-so supporting roles. Poor lady.

While I found the dual stories of Driver and Cop fairly compelling, I really didn't care about the Killer character. He's boring and unlikable, and way too pretty. Unfortunately his tale takes up about a third of the movie, meaning there's a good chunk of him complaining to his therapist, blathering to Maggie Grace, and completely missing Driver at every assassination attempt. Had the film focused primarily on Driver and Cop, I think it would have been more successful overall. As it stands Faster is a decent, fairly entertaining film that gives the action an unexpected dramatic tone.


Watch Instead: A better "person is left for dead but then comes back to track down group of killers" movie, Kill Bill.


Friday, December 10, 2010

Movie Sketch Project #19 (UPDATED)

You guys, Black Swan is truly spectacular. I wrote an exhilarating review of it for 366 Weird Movies. I was completely blown away by it, definitely one of my favorite films of 2010, everyone should see it, etc! So of course this week I knew I wanted to do a movie sketch inspired by the film, and opted for a black and white pen-and-ink drawing that expands upon the theme of the main poster. I loved Natalie Portman's make-up as the black swan character, so I drew from that. I think it came out pretty ok. Let me know what you think!

The original drawing itself is for sale on etsy. Also I've got prints, drawings, cards, and other stuff for sale if you're still looking for wintry seasonal gifts for movie fans!

UPDATE: Ok so I spent all day working on a digital print of this that I am pretty proud of and I think it's better than the drawing and it's available for sale also.


Thursday, December 9, 2010

The Adventures of Stella Star (Starcrash) (1978)

Get it? Stella Star? Like the band! I love finding out about weird cinematic references in band names and lyrics. The poorly-advised Starcrash (as it is known in the US) follows feisty, scantily-clad hyper-galactic smuggler Stella (Caroline Munro) and her superbeing alien-Jedi-guy navigator Akton (Marjoe Gortner) as they search for Simon (David Hasselhoff), the long-lost son of The Emperor (Christopher Plummer). Along the way they befriend a Southern robot, fight off Amazons, fight off cavemen, and do a space battle with the main bad guy trying to take control of... space, I guess.

I'm assuming somebody saw Star Wars, Barbarella, Fantastic Planet, and a scene from The Sound of Music all in one day and thought, "How can I achieve the same effect in a fraction of the time?" Starcrash is certainly referential to the point of all-out plagiarism (light sabers and all), but it's not like they're pretending to be some great, thought-provoking original sci-fi film. This is pure giddy goofiness all around, replete with poorly-scripted dialogue, nonsensical transitions, unexplained plot developments, shoddy special effects, and kung-fu fighting. I have almost no idea what the actual story was, or who any of these characters actually are; like, what the hell was Akton? (Besides incredibly awesome and useful, that is.) I assume most of the money went into the sets, which are actually really impressive and well-designed, and a bit was saved for the badass stop-motion robot minions. Who, for some totally inexplicable reason, carried scimitars.

One thing that did frustrate me is that for a lady who's name is in the movie title and who is having adventures, Stella sure is completely useless in almost every way, and she sure does need saving every five minutes. Oh well. At least she gets to wear a leather bikini for the first half. And she does have nice hair.

Starcrash is a lot of fun, with ridiculous costumes, a stiff Christopher Plummer (what was he DOING in this movie?), and feather-haired David Hasselhoff. It's not quite as over-the-top and ridiculous as it could have been, and it drags at parts, but overall it's just darned entertaining, laughably bad, and adorably earnest.

As a movie: 2/5
As entertainment: 4/5

Pair This Movie With: For even more awesome sexy costume changes and bigger hair, I of course must recommend Barbarella, because that movie is awesome.

Further Reading:
House of Self-Indulgence review
Nuts4r2 review
The Film Connoisseur review


Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Made in Dagenham (2010)

So, you know how that dang old Equal Right Amendment is constantly not being ratified, and women can still be paid less than men for doing the same job? Well that was totally also a problem in the 1960's, in England. The new film Made in Dagenham tracks how the protest of a small group of female factory workers at Ford Britain escalates into a nation-wide strike and forced work stoppage that finally gets the government talking about a gender-equal workers' wages bill. The strike is led by Rita O'Grady (Sally Hawkins), a dedicated wife and mother who to her own surprise finds herself speaking out and successfully rallying for the cause of her fellow female factor workers. She is met with opposition from Ford executives, self-serving union leaders, and factory employees put out of work due to the strike, but pushes on with the help of her stalwart coworkers, supportive husband (Daniel Mays) and supervisor (Bob Hoskins), and the new Secretary of State Barbara Castle (Miranda Richardson).

I was unaware of the actual historical event before this film, so am unsure of how accurate it is, but either way Made in Dagenham is an interesting, well-made, and very well-acted movie. The colorful prints, big hair, and identical neighborhoods effortlessly settled me into 1968 small-town Britain, in a community that makes most of its living off the local Ford factory. Rita is a product of this somewhat narrow-minded, self-sustaining working-class lifestyle, expected to be both a traditional domestic wife and mother as well as a money-earner. Her gradual evolution into a groundbreaking feminist labor rights leader is natural and realistic, with Hawkins giving a fantastically down-to-earth performance. She is fascinating and real, creating a strong, sympathetic, flawed woman who is as believable as she is larger-than-life, working for what to her is the very simple, necessary cause of gender equality.

The supporting cast is excellent as well, with Bob Hoskins completely adorable as the craftily supportive boss and Rupert Graves decidedly American as pragmatic Ford president Peter Hopkins. I loved Rosamund Pike in her too-small role as a passionate historian relegated to being a pretty housewife. Her few scenes are insightful and moving, depicting the struggle many upper-class women went through (and may still experience) as a contrast to Rita's situation. The real supporting standout is Miranda Richardson, who is just fucking badass as First Secretary of State Barbara Castle, a self-styled "fiery redhead" who gets what she wants and won't stand for the incompetence and sexism flooding her office.

Made in Dagenham has a fantastic cast and a good story, but takes a while to really get going script- and pacing-wise. I appreciated the light-hearted atmosphere to break up the serious speech-making moments and provide these women with distinct and relatable personalities, but at other points the dialogue is a little too stagey or bombastic. It's an inspiring and uplifting film- and I won't say I didn't get a little teary at the end- but it knows it is and goes overboard once or twice. Nevertheless, it's a great look at this important moment in history and a superb showcase of Hawkins' considerable talents, and I enjoyed it immensely. It's in limited release now, hopefully more people will take notice!


Pair This Movie With: Maybe it's just the idea of seeing Rosamund Pike in more gorgeous 60s-era outfits, but I think An Education would go well with this.

Further Reading:
Women and Hollywood review


Monday, December 6, 2010

The Wiz (1978)

Well, the frequent references and accolades from Snarky's Machine convinced me to finally get on it and see The Wiz! This adaptation of Charlie Smalls' stage musical known for its all-black cast stars Diana Ross as Dorothy, a softspoken young schoolteacher who feels out of place in her own family and never ventures outside her own comfort zone. When her dog Toto runs into a blizzard, she chases after him and finds herself swept up in a snow tornado and whisked away to an urban Oz. Graffiti-ed Munchkins peel themselves off the walls and offer their gratitude, as she inadvertently killed the evil Witch of the East who'd cursed them.

She is given the witch's silver shoes and sent to find the yellow brick road so she can meet the Wiz, who is her only hope to return home. Along the way she meets a brainless Scarecrow (Michael Jackson), a heartless Tinman (Nipsey Russell), and a cowardly Lion (Ted Ross) who accompany her on the journey to Emerald City. Together they fight off a homicidal subway station, kill the Wicked Witch of the West Evillene (Mabel King), free the enslaved Winkies, expose the Wiz (Richard Pryor) for a fraud, and learn that they had the power to achieve their dreams within them all along.

This movie seems almost universally disliked, and I'm really not sure why. It's long, that is certainly true, and it can get pretty cheesy and over-sentimental at parts, but hey this is a version of The Wizard of Oz, after all. And yes, Diana Ross is definitely ill-fit for the leading role. She's too old, for one, her acting leaves a lot to be desired, and I actually thought her voice was off for a few of the ballads- just too high pitched and airy. Most of her lines are delivered in a trilling, whispery voice that really begins to grate over an almost-2.5 hour span.

So, ok, there are some factors that make The Wiz less than perfect- especially for anyone who doesn't like musicals- but they didn't detract from my general enjoyment of the film. This is a fun, nostalgically familiar story with a great score and some jaw-dropping visuals. Lumet infuses his Oz with an eerie emptiness set against impending sets and lots of glitter, all designed to mimic New York City, while the costume design is whimsical and rich in detail. While I really love live theatre, this film is a good example of the advantages of movie adaptations, utilizing huge set pieces and a large cast of dancers/singers.

I loved the supporting performances from the likes of goddess-like Lena Horne, Richard Pryor, Mabel King, and Thelma Carpenter, while the main cast is excellent (aside from Ross, as mentioned earlier). Surprisingly I dug Michael Jackson as the Scarecrow, though it helps that he's always been my favorite character plus he gets the best solo song. I also found his frequent use of found quotes endearing. Nipsey Russell is adorable and sly as the Tinman, and Ted Ross (who originated the role on Broadway) is cool as the lion, though melodramatic and over-exaggerated at times (which is basically how I feel about the Bert Lahr in the 1939 film, so it's just the character I guess).

Basically The Wiz is a fun spectacle that puts an interesting spin on a story everybody already likes, incorporating references to black culture and contemporary black experience in the 1970s urban setting. It definitely has its flaws, but makes up for them with a palpable enthusiasm. Plus if you don't spend the rest of your night singing "Brand New Day" and "Ease on Down the Road" at the top of your lungs while dancing gleefully in your kitchen... well, then I guess you're not me.


Pair This Movie With: Dang, I'm not sure anyone would want a double feature after such a long movie. Might be better to pop in the musical episode of Daria and call it a night.

Further Reading:
Snarky's Machine review


Sunday, December 5, 2010

Sweetie (1989)

Jane Campion's feature-length debut, Sweetie, is a far cry from her most recent vibrant and slightly indulgent period romance Bright Star, but retains the writer/director's penchant for quiet, subtle stories driven by women. Kay (Karen Colston) is a shy and superstitious young woman who coolly seduces a coworker's fiance (Tom Lycos) after a fortune teller hints that they are meant to be together. A year later they've moved into a house and Kay becomes convinced that the small tree he plants will become a symbol of a failed relationship. She begins sleeping in the guest room and they find they've lost interest in sex, and as they're still sorting out their relationship Kay's self-obsessed, extremely troubled sister "Sweetie" (Geneviève Lemon) forces herself into a visit. Their recently-separated father (Jon Darling) soon follows, quickly unraveling Kay's quiet existence as her family's past reveals itself.

Sweetie begins softly with a voiceover describing Kay's fear of trees- they uproot everything, secretly, as if by magic, and loom over her menacingly. This quietly dark take on such an everyday presence effortlessly sets up the film's subtle and foreboding look at one family. Though focusing primarily on Kay, the title is saved for Sweetie, which is certainly an indicator of her position in this household. She has been raised to become a "star", continually favored and encouraged by her father, only to develop as an adult a compulsive need to be the center of attention, a delusional perspective, and a demeanor like a bratty child. She is prone to temper tantrums and destructive behavior, unleashing a more animal force within her sister and preoccupying her father with guilt. Yet while she is often made to be unlikable and, indeed, unsavable- especially to Kay- there are certain factors about her upbringing that gradually expose the roots of her personality.

Nothing is made explicit with Sweetie. The script is primarily composed of short, banal conversations, with almost all of the emotional and narrative weight floating in an undercurrent of tension and secrecy. Everything seems insignificant, and at the same time the key to it all. Campion paces her tale slowly and deliberately, waiting until at least half an hour in to even introduce the title character. It is certainly not for everyone, and the lack of any big confrontational, expository discussion might feel a little lacking, but the dedicated performances, thoughtful camera direction, and downright chilling ending makes for an effective, uncanny look at a "normal" family gone wrong. A truly impressive debut, to be sure, but I probably never need to see it again.


Pair This Movie With: I sort of forgot to think about this... the first movie that comes to mind is My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done, for an even more ambiguous look at secretly troubled family life.

Further Reading:
Not Just Movies review


Friday, December 3, 2010

Movie Sketch Project #18

Alright so I have like three different pieces I wanted to work on for this week's Movie Sketch Project, but didn't have time! Oh no! Don't worry, I have one for today that I think came out pretty well, and then I've started working on something for The Postman Always Rings Twice that I can finish on Sunday. With any luck I will also be able to make a Troll 2 portrait. Busy, busy!

So today's sketch is inspired by Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1. A thing that happens whenever I watch any Harry Potter movie or read any of the books is I'm reminded that Hermione should be the real hero of these stories, because she's the only competent person in the world and also because she's generally awesome. And isn't a total idiot like Harry and Ron. So I made an alternate book cover that spells out how I feel. Check it out after the jump!

Also I'm going to be plugging this all month, so sorry in advance: A lot of movie sketch project stuff is available on etsy for what I think are very affordable prices, and if you're looking for a gift for a fellow movie fan it might be a good place to start. I take commissions for anything you have in mind, too, so let me know if there's something you'd like!

Ok self-promotional spiel over. Here's Hermione. And she's totally available as a print, too.


Thursday, December 2, 2010

The Postman Always Rings Twice (1946)

I get a little daunted with the large amount of noir that I haven't seen but would like to see, so I'm always pretty slow to actually dive in and watch more. The other day I finally took in The Postman Always Rings Twice, starring Lana Turner as the be-turbaned femme fatale and John Garfield as an affable wanderer. When he accepts a job as general repair man/attendant at a roadside eatery/gas station run by Nick (Cecil Kellaway), Frank quickly falls for the proprietor's wife Cora. He catches on to the uncaring way her husband treats her, and eventually the two are having an affair. They plot to kill off Nick and run the restaurant themselves because Cora has aspirations to "really be somebody", but complications arise and the local cops begin to suspect something is amiss after a series of "accidents".

It seems uncommon now to see this kind of slow-burn thriller with a completely implied sexual undercurrent, as opposed to more explicit takes (which I've heard the remake does). The strong, dare I say smoldering performances from Turner and Garfield give the film a memorable electricity. The story itself is interesting and multi-faceted, but the pacing is off for several plot points. The film starts off very gradual and slow, developing the romance between Cora and Frank (well by "developing" I mean her initial resistance + eventual chaste kissing = Love) and establishing her unhappy relationship with her ignorant husband. The multiple murder plots and possible betrayals followed by unexpected courtroom drama make for a slightly convoluted/over-complicated movie plot. The constant shifts and twists made it engaging, of course, but also difficult to really find my footing.

I have to be sure I mention the charismatic and remarkably entertaining performance from the awesomely-named Hume Cronyn, who plays Cora's lawyer towards the end of the film. Though his role is small, his impact is substantial, and I loved every minute he was onscreen. While the main cast- Turner especially- are strong, Cronyn brings this weird humor and super intensity that's just mesmerizing. He basically rekindled my interest when I felt the story had begun to go in circles.

The Postman Always Rings Twice didn't engage me as much as others of its ilk that I've seen, but its excellent cast and involved script, along with some gorgeous and thoughtful costuming, make for a downright cool film that kept me guessing until the end.


Pair This Movie With: I'm always into putting classic and neo noir together, so I'm suggesting Blood Simple, the Coen brothers' first feature. It similarly mixes adultery and spouse-killing schemes, but to much more violent effect.


Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Jesus Christ Vampire Hunter (2001)

How could I say no to that title? Plus it's on Instant Watch. I had heard Jesus Christ Vampire Hunter didn't really live up to its premise but still made for an enjoyable viewing, and that basically sums up my own feelings about it. Phil Caracas stars as the titular son of god, who's called in by some punk priests to take care of the growing amount of vampires infesting the city. They can withstand sunlight due to a special skin graft procedure using the skin of dead lesbians, thus making them even more formidable. Jesus enlists assassin Mary Magnum and luchador Santos to aid in his fight.

This film is incredibly uneven in both its production and effects- it ranges from all-out ridiculous camp to dull, nonsensical side plots. It's funny and entertaining in many ways, made more likable by the fact that everyone involved clearly knew what kind of movie they were making and just had fun with it. It's a self-aware grindhouse throwback that seems to be making fun of itself as much as it parodies older films. A lot of it doesn't make sense, the script is very haphazard, and the acting is pretty terrible- but everyone knows it and that adds to the goofiness of the whole affair.

There's a musical number, a Matrixy JC-vs-Atheists battle, a gleefully crazy doctor, a fight utilizing human guts as weapons, and lots of butt-grabbing. Some of the scenes drag on way too long or the jokes don't quite work, but generally I found the spontaneous nature of the whole affair pretty enjoyable. The main issue is, I've seen films with similar themes or tone, and they do it better, so for the most part it's not quite worth it. I think my friends got more enjoyment out of it than me, possibly because they have less to compare it to.


Watch Instead: This is cute and all, but I'd rather watch Cannibal! The Musical, one of my favorite low-budget, high-concept genre films.