Sunday, September 28, 2014

Midnite Ride #30: The Guest

Welcome to another Midnite Ride!!!

This week Large William is joined by an all-star stable of Gents for a chat about Adam Wingard's The Guest (2014).

Direct download: TheGuestMR.mp3 
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Midnite Ride #29: The Keeping Room and Pasolini

Welcome to the Modnite Ride at TIFF!!!

Large William discusses The Keeping Room (2014) directed by Daniel Barber and Pasolini (2014) directed by Abel Ferrara!!!

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Episode #305: Top Hat of Diablo

Welcome back to the GGtMC!!!

This week Sammy is joined by longtime friend of the show Rupert for coverage of Top Hat (1935) with Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers and Ride Clear of Diablo (1954) starring Audie Murphy.

Direct download: ggtmc_305.mp3

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Wednesday, September 24, 2014

The Nest (1988)

Cuckoos are arguably the most interesting of birds one can imagine (feel free to debate this amongst your friends).  They are not especially attractive, to be sure, and they are most popularly known as the signal for the start of a new hour on some old-fashioned clocks (you know, those things that used to tell time for us and that made the Swiss so very famous according to Harry Lime [okay, among other things]).  Even more striking though, is the connotation attached to these avians as symbols of insanity (and this is even sometimes tied in with their role as alarms; just look at any one of dozens of cartoons for further proof).  What a lot of folks don’t think of, or maybe just don’t know, is for some cuckoos’ propensity for brood parasitism.  For you non-ornithologists/zoologists/what-have-yous, this refers to their practice of laying their eggs in the nests of other bird types and allowing those suckers to raise their young so the cuckoos can go along their merry way, whooping and partying it up.  Naturally, these parasites are something of a danger to their hosts, and if the animal kingdom (and yes, even the humans in it) has taught us anything, it is that nature can be both beautiful and brutal, and often both at the same time.

Cockroaches (maybe not so much like the ones in Terence WinklessThe Nest) don’t (to my knowledge) engage in brood parasitism, but they do have a much more aggressively invasive policy, and due to their dietary/hygienic habits, they are typically seen as vermin and worthy of extinction.  I know I see them that way (especially after the time one scuttled across my face while I was  sleeping [many moons ago when I was living in a basement apartment; never do that if you can help it] and then survived my smacking it with the flat of my palm).  I’m sure there are those who would frown upon violence to these exoskeleton-having Larry Dallases.  I’m not one of them.  

In the small Massachusetts (?) town of North Port, hunky sheriff Richard Tarbell (Franc Luz) maintains homespun order over a plucky cast of characters (read: future victims).  When ex-squeeze Beth (Lisa Langlois) arrives back on the island after four years gone, Richard has to figure out just what he wants (and seeing as how he’s dating the island restaurateur Lillian [Nancy Morgan], he would do well to get his shit sorted out).  It doesn’t help any that Beth’s dad Elias (Robert Lansing) hates Richard with a fiery passion or that there are flesh-eating cockroaches plaguing the community.  Did I bury the lead on that last one?

Being an amalgam of so many films (The most prominent of which being [again] JAWS, with everything from the everyman cop character to the score, to the tourist concern of money over safety, to the coastal town setting, to the spirited secretary doling out the lowdown on various town denizens [and whom we never know as anything other than a voice]), The Nest’s charm lies in its tone as a “summer read”/”beach read” film (not surprising, since it’s based on a novel by Eli Cantor, and no, I have not read it).  These are the kinds of stories that don’t require much in the way of heavy lifting (not to say that they’re empty).  They are loaded with melodramatic elements, a little (sometimes a lot) of sex, and a little (sometimes a lot) of graphic violence.  But more than that, they are largely about stringing together sweet spots into a (usually) coherent whole that passes the time nicely.  

Going a large way in accomplishing this is the colorful cast, all of whom are archetypes bordering on stereotypes, and all of whom are individuated by their exaggerated appearances and their firm roles as likable monster chow (again, mostly; there are, after all, exceptions to every rule).  So we get folks like Church (Jeff Winkless, who I’m thinking is related to the director somehow), the short order cook who wears a dopey hat and hovers over his grill with a stogie perennially stuffed in his pie hole.  We get folks like Jenny (Heidi Helmer), the dimwitted teenager, who flits around on roller-skates, radio headphones plastered to her head (the better to ignore looming danger).  And lest we forget, the town lush/cuckoo Jake (Jack Collins), who spends his time cackling, stealing crap, and shooting rats in his junkyard home.  Nevertheless, while they’re all cartoons to some degree or another, they are never offensively so.  Consequently, they make for memorable victims.  We’re not overly saddened to see them go, but we do think back to their time onscreen, and it doesn’t feel entirely wasted.  Of course, it helps a lot that the how of their deaths and the aftermaths of them are nigh-equally notable.  I don’t know a great many people who can name the old man who first comes into contact with 1958’s The Blob (it’s Olin Howland, for your information), but I do know a great many who can recognize him on sight and could describe in detail everything that happens to him once that meteor splits open.  These characters could be anyone, being little more than plot engines, but they are just distinct enough that we remember them to some extent (maybe not forever and ever, but still…).

There is also a nice little psychosexual element, and it’s embodied primarily by the antagonists.  The relationship between Elias and Beth is, to put it mildly, icy and awkward.  We are given a rather dark explanation for this, but I am convinced there is something else under the surface of it; something more incestuous.  This is only augmented by Lansing’s presence in the film (and the man looks as if he would like to be just about anywhere else), his oddly guilty, hangdog performance, and a payoff that makes the threat physical (and just a bit creepier).  More overt is the character of Dr. Morgan Hubbard (Terri Treas), the scientist in charge of the roaches.  She delights in thumbing her nose at Richard and Elias, claiming a masculine side to rival theirs (and unlike the other two women in the film, she has no stated interest in any male in the cast).  Most intriguing, however, is her interaction with the insects.  As they bite into her hand, her expression takes on a gleam of sexual stimulation.  Observing the roaches further mutations, she reacts as if she’s taking in a particularly tasty piece of eye candy.  This could explain her rather erratic behavior in the film, but between cuckoos and cockroaches, I suppose personal preferences are bound to vary.

MVT:  I absolutely adore the physical effects in this movie.  They’re gruesome, and imaginative, and just delightful whenever they appear.  But I love physical effects, so I’m biased.  

Make Or Break:  The first kill in the film is the Make for me.  Between the solid editing, the bug’s eye POV, and the grisly results, it satisfies like a Snickers.  It doesn’t hurt that I found the victim more sympathetic than most.  You’ll see what I mean when you watch the film.  

Score:  6.75/10      

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Ganheddo a.k.a. Gunhed (1989)

Directed by: Mastro Harada (the American version is an Allen Smithee production)
Runtime: 100 minutes

Toho Studios (home of Godzilla) and Bandai (home of Gundam) got together to make a movie. A movie full of explosions, giant robots, giant robots fighting other giant robots, McGuffins, a mustache twirling A.I. with a easily defeated plan for world domination, more explosions, weird looking junk robots, weird and annoying kids, and a plot. Sadly if this movie had not been dubbed by a bunch of muppets it would be a greater film than what it is.

The movie opens with two exposition dumps. The first one is a text only explanation about the McGuffin Texmexium. A element that makes super computers even more super and gives all your food that south of the border. There is also an explanation that computer chips and plastics are now more valuable than gold. The other exposition dump explains island 8JO. A island owned Kyron corporation and is home to their manufacturing facility. Overseen by Kyron 5 (the company AI) and a hand full of human caretakers take care of the day to day operations. Years later Kyron 5 starts behaving like a moody teenager and goes to war with the world because no one understands it. We then get to see the last battle between the Gunhed battalion and Kyron 5's defenses.

Years later the movie catches up with a mercenary group heading to island 8JO to steal computer chips from the Kyron 5. I would write more about the mercenary group but all but two of then will be dead before the thirty minute mark. The survivor Brooklyn is a mechanic and is afraid to sit in any cockpit. Babe is a near survivor and has a really cool cybernetic eye patch.

So the mercenaries land on top or the Kyron factory and notice a burning Texas Air Ranger's transport on another part of the island. But the mercenaries don't why their transport is burning or feel like telling the audience who the Texas Air Rangers or why they should care. Instead the mercenaries head into the factory so they can get killed off until Brooklyn and Babe are left alive.

Brooklyn and Babe avoid getting killed as they head the Kyron's and meet with Sgt. Nim. The only survivor of the Texas Air Ranger's transport and in pursuit of a bioroid that stole some Texmexium. So the three of them head to the central processor room where the Texmexium could be located. The trio arrives and finds that there is nothing there but the bioroid shows up and puts the Texmexium in to the processor stand. Having completed it's task, it dives into the Mountain Dew that cools the processor and waits to menace the survivors later.

Being that no one has died in the last five minutes, Babe falls into the Mountain Dew cooling system and dies for no reason. With nothing better to do, the two of them get out of the processor room and run into the end boss robot and are forced to fall into the second act and the rest of the cast are introduced. Brooklyn wakes up to meet Seven and Eleven. Two kids that have been living on their own in the lower levels. Eleven is an older girl who does not speak and Seven is a younger boy who does not shut up. It also does not help that whoever dubbed the voice of Seven is downright annoying.

With help from Seven, Brooklyn find a damaged gunhed and the two of them get it repaired and working. Nim and Eleven take the Texmexium and go climbing to the top of the factory. While Brooklyn and Seven have a repair montage as they fix the gunhed. Elsewhere in the Kyron factory a terminal menacingly counts down. It would be more suspenseful if we knew why it is counting down.

Remember the bioroid? It is still in the movie and stalking Nim and Eleven. The bioroid also possessed by Babe because dying in computer cooling Mountain Dew does that to people. So the bioroid has a hard time killing people but no problem stealing the Texmexium from Nim with a laser thing. At the bottom of the factory, the gunhed is fix, armed, and ready to fight again. This leads to the last act of this movie which is mostly the gunhed and Brooklyn bonding while trying to get to the lever where the central processor is located.

When gunhed and Brooklyn reach the central processor level they are confronted by the end boss robot. With quick thinking, effective use of fire power, and the power of bromance the two of them defeat the boss robot. Brooklyn and Seven meet up with Nim and Eleven who have made it back to the central processor room.
Eleven knows a word that can improve the Kyron AI, so her mouth starts glowing. With the destruction of the boss robot this stops the glowing and she can talk again. The Kyron AI seeing that is beat does the smartest thing a antiongist can do. It sets it's reactor to self destruct in fifteen seconds and it will take our heroes ten mintutes to get to the mercenary transport and escape. However gunhed saves our heroes by stalling the reactor. So our heroes fly away from the nuclear mushroom cloud. The end.

This is a flawed movie with insane dubbing but it is a fun movie. I suggest watching this but try to find the Japanese version.

MVT: The gunhed itself. It is a talking tank that can transform to a robot.

Make or Break: The crap dubbing is the major break for me with this movie.

Score: 6.25 out of 10

Episode #304: Point Blank Motel

Welcome to the GGtMC!!!

This week Sammy and Will return to bring you our episode sponsored by the fine folks over at, please head over and order some flicks and tell them the GGtMC sent you over!!!

It was Sammy's turn to program and he chose Point Blank (1967) directed by John Boorman and starring Lee Marvin and Motel Hell (1980) directed by Kevin Connor.

Direct download: ggtmc_304.mp3

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GGtMC at TIFF: '71

The GGtMC brings you a review of '71 (2014) directed by Yann Demange.

Direct download: tiff71.mp3 
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GGtMC at TIFF: Black Souls

The GGtMc talks about Black Souls (2014) directed by Francesco Munzi.

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GGtMC At TIFF 2014: The World of Kanako

Welcome to film coverage of the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival with the GGtMC!!!

Large William and Scott from Married with Clickers bring you coverage of The World of Kanako (2014) directed by Tetsuya Nakashima.

Direct download: GGtMCattiff2014-Kanako.mp3

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Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Split Second (1992)


I have held my fair share of jobs over the years, but to the best of my recollection, there was only one boss I ever had that I just didn’t get along with.  Maybe that’s a bit of an overstatement, but even when I was toiling away in the grill area of a local McDonald’s (a job from which I was expunged for reasons I won’t get into today, but no, it has nothing to do with contaminating food or equipment with my body parts or bodily fluids, so relax), I got along fairly well with my superiors.  Anyway, the guy I didn’t get along with was a manager at a supermarket where I worked as a bagger during high school and part of college.  I couldn’t stand being a bagger (and if you ever were one, I think you understand where I’m coming from), and I wanted to be a stocker.  Man, those guys sure had the life (from my perspective then).  So, every time that I asked this guy if I could get to be in said lofty department, I was told in no uncertain terms that I didn’t have “the eye of the tiger.”  Let’s never mind that it was a job stocking fucking supermarket shelves, not competing in a decathlon.  This is like being picked last for dodgeball (a game I was actually pretty good at) or football (a game I was abysmal at), and it consistently elicits a response from me of, “are you fucking kidding?”  If memory serves, I may have even said that when told about my substandard stock boy potential (most likely minus the expletive).  Consequently, I never jibed with this Type A jerkoff of a supervisor (am I being unfair?  You bet).  It doesn’t bother me so much today, but it is something that stuck with me.  Whether that’s because of his conflation of stock boy status with being chosen for NASA’s space program or my bewilderment at his asinine statement, I couldn’t say (and if I’m being totally honest with myself, I think he actually denied me due to my part time status at the store).  But whenever I think of the cliché police captain chewing the ass out of his subordinates in films, like Alun Armstrong’s Thrasher does to Rutger Hauer’s Stone in Tony Maylam’s Split Second, I think of this relationship most adversarial, and one young man’s crushed ambitions to arrange cans of cut green beans on a grocery store’s shelves.  I could’ve been a contender.

Torrential rains have all but submerged the futuristic London of…2008.  Maverick copper Harley Stone (who loves his first name so much he has scads of Harley Davidson logos and even a motorcycle in his apartment) is possessed by the ghost of a past failure and the unseen killer who orchestrated it.  Out of the blue, the murderer, who rips his victims’ hearts out and eats them, reappears, and Stone knows that his nightmare won’t end until this madman (or mad thing) is brought down.

One of the strongest elements of this film is the concept that Stone and the monster share a psychic connection.  Stone can feel when the creature is around, and he can even tell if someone else has seen it (a child, a dog, et cetera).  Nevertheless, it brings him no closer to capturing it.  All it does is places him in proximity to where the thing is.  If there is more to their symbiosis, we are never made privy to this information visually, which is disappointing since Stone tells his partner Dick (Alastair Duncan) that he “sees things” (and this is, after all, a visual medium).  It’s a great set-up, but I don’t feel that it was utilized quite as well as it could have been.  I also liked that said link was forged through traumatic contact.  Not only is Stone scarred mentally by his past with the killer, he is also scarred physically.  This relationship is represented by an almost constant heartbeat on the soundtrack, speeding up and slowing down, and anyone injured by the beast can hear it (though this is only addressed in an offhand comment).  In some way, this also gives the viewer some motivation for Stone’s obsession with coffee and sugar.  His vehicle is littered with cardboard coffee cups and empty candy wrappers.  Nonetheless, we are never told this is because he feels the need to be alert every moment of the day now, or if it’s simply some form of addiction he fell into after the tragic events that befell him, or if it’s a replacement for the alcoholism he fell into after his partner’s demise.  At several points, we are shown the toll these dietary habits have taken on Stone’s body, and we are lead to expect this will be paid off by the end.  It isn’t.  Sorry.

Hence, this was the big bone I had to pick with the film.  It has some very strong concepts going on.  It has a great, biblical/religious angle.  It has a cop who is unhinged and truly eccentric.  It has a compelling game of cat and mouse between the hero and the villain.  It has the idea of the bonding of villain and victim/hero.  It has a love interest (and Kim Cattrall no less, who at least does the audience the courtesy of getting naked a few times) where sparks should absolutely be flying, considering their history.  It has great production design and a lot of production value onscreen.  But it’s all treated insouciantly.  It’s all pissed away almost as soon as it’s introduced.  Further, the film’s climax simply falls apart, with characters suddenly behaving like completely different characters, rules being made up and discarded within seconds (the inspiration for the film’s title, perhaps?), and a showdown resolved with a facility that threatens to make utterly inconsequential the time spent with the rest of the story.  Worse, the finale of the film, which should tie everything up and pay off on all this (including finally giving us a decent glimpse of the killer; a design which is pretty solid, considering the production stills I’ve seen), doesn’t.  Almost everything in the film remains unexplained (I’m still unsure if this is a positive or a negative for me), though several intriguing theories are floated here and there like smoke rings.  Most perplexing of all is that the antagonist we are left to deal with at the finish simply doesn’t match the antagonist that has been teased and built up for over an hour.  One is an intelligent, devious, cruel psychopath.  The other is (again, from what we’re shown) nothing more than a blunt instrument (with really sharp claws).  So, yes, Split Second is most definitely a mess of a film.  However, I have to say that I did like it, and I would even recommend it despite my grievances with it.  True, it never fully surmounts the humongous problems that it has.  But it has an off-kilter charm that I couldn’t resist, so even if I was ultimately letdown, I really enjoyed the ride, so it all panned out.  After all, it’s not the fall the kills you.  It’s the sudden stop at the end.

MVT:  Hauer does his damnedest playing (by turns) crazed, haunted, and hardassed.  And he mostly pulls it off.  If nothing else, I was always interested to see what he would do next.

Make or Break:  The scene with the first kill Makes the film.  It’s graphic enough for gorehounds and intriguing enough to compel any audience through the rest of the runtime.  Plus, Rutger Hauer questioning a Rottweiler is priceless.

Score:  6.75/10