I need to clean my head of movies! I keep watching them and then before I can write about them another jumps in my head. I can hardly make way for the new guy when the last one is still hanging around. The inside of my noggin is starting to look like a hoarder house. It’s time to purge. My apologies to these fine movies that deserve more than mini-reviews but I must lighten my brain baggage…
STAKE LAND (2010)
This did not look like my type of movie but then it so very much was. Luckily I listened to a friend who told me not to be dumb and watch it. I thought it was going to be a dude movie where everybody is cool and does impossible acrobatics while shooting things but it wasn’t. It didn’t hurt that both KELLY McGILLIS (THE INKEEPERS) and DANIELLE HARRIS (HALLOWEEN(s)) showed up to stomp on my heart like they thought it was made of grapes and they were winos going through detox. STAKE LAND surprised me with its emotional depth and no matter where our vampire hunters traveled in this post-apocalyptic road movie, it always looked and felt like home to me. Finishing this one felt like finishing a good book.
ATTACK THE BLOCK (2011)
Aunt John and I had just finished watching the television series SPACED on Netflix Streaming (I had no idea it did not actually take place in outer space) and it left us craving any and everything that anyone involved in that show ever did. Otherwise I may have missed ATTACK THE BLOCK even though it has rightfully ended up on many a best of the year list. This is a wonderfully humorous and entertaining action flick with some really cool and inventive special effects. I love monsters but I especially love furry monsters. This is one of those movies that sets up characters one way and then forces you to see them from another perspective and I always commend that. Everyone should own a copy of this and keep it on hand for whenever they don’t want to feel like crud. It’s like a shot of concentrated un-cruddyness.
Be careful, this is a quiet séance of a movie that could conjure up a Lovecraftian doorway into your living room wall and then yank you through it. ABSENTIA is so smart and sneaky that I really didn’t have a clue what it was doing to me until it was too late. Somehow it had me so under its spell that it was able to simply show me total darkness at one point and that was chilling enough. This movie is less show than tell but what it tells crawls under your skin. Have you ever stayed up late sharing uncanny tales with friends only to find that suddenly there is a weird vibe in the room? That vibe is in this movie. I also want to publicly apologize for making fun of people who are afraid of spiders. I feel the same way about oversized centipedes. Check out the OFFICIAL SITE.
THE WOMAN (2011)
This movie pissed me off. I wanted to duct tape it to a football and kick it down the street. I thought I was going to get the happy “hooray for revenge” feeling from it but no, I was too busy mourning the fate of one of the characters. I should probably try to react to movies intellectually rather than emotionally but really, where’s the fun in that? I’ve calmed down now. I’ve thrown the hateful diatribe I wrote in the trash. This is a horror movie and it in no way promised to make me feel good. Strangely it wasn’t even the torture and rape that got to me (I was braced for that); it was mostly just one death that unraveled the whole sweater.
Although I’m half inclined to demand a rewrite I must give this one props for both getting my dander up and for showcasing three outstanding (and one really stinky) performances. It’s no surprise that ANGELA BETTIS is mesmeric but SEAN BRIDGERS really hits the psycho nail on the head, and POLLYANNA McINTOSH mostly owned a role that could have easily nosedived. I admit I’m a hard sell when it comes to movies about feral wild women. Their outfits always look one dinosaur bone short of a sexy cave girl Halloween costume to me. It’s my problem I know. I’m not the right audience. In the end, this is a gadfly movie that is meant to rile so I guess it was a success in that department. I admire director LUCKY McGEE’s aberrant view of the world and co-writer JACK KETCHUM’s fearlessness when observing the bowels of scumbaggery but still, I think I needed the pendulum to swing a little more toward the less infuriating side of the fence. I can’t play the trailer because it will upset me but here is HELLEN REDDY on THE MIDNIGHT SPECIAL…
WAKE WOOD/ THE CALLER (2011/2011)
I liked big chunks of both of these flicks but they each fell through my fingers at some point. WAKE WOOD has great atmosphere and a wonderful setting and actors, it just seemed to mimic too many other films rather than throw any of its own curves. THE CALLER has some of the creepiest phone calls I’ve ever heard (voiced by LORNA RAVER, Mrs. Ganush of DRAG ME TO HELL) but for every “oh shit” moment there seemed to be an additional plot hole I couldn’t leap over. I dug the mood of both of these but they’re the type of movies that rely on specific rules to function and I wasn’t convinced either played fair on their own game board. In the end I was reasonably entertained by both but not fully satisfied by either.
This is not a terribly violent movie but in moments it’s almost painful to behold. At some points I felt like I was taking on the physical damage myself. I guess it felt like that because for most of the film’s runtime, I was lulled into an ambrosia-flooded dream state where everything in the world looked beautiful and it was always 1982. Why do people have to be so stabby and break me out of my trance? I don’t really care about DRIVE’s plot because it involves money and cars and “Give me back my stuff!” drama but what a lovely movie that I never wanted to ever end. It’s like another dimension and what an excellent earworm soundtrack. DRIVE is sort of like how I fantasized adult life would be like as a kid, wrongfully imagining that someday I’d be miraculously cool. I’ve heard DRIVE described as an homage to MICHAEL MANN, but for me it felt like an homage to every late night I spent trying to get a glimpse of the mad bad dangerous world waiting outside through cable. It’s like an incredible remake of the terrible remake of BREATHLESS but PAUL SCHRADER and GIORGIO MORODER are shoved in the blender too and folks get their asses handed to them like in VICE SQUAD. I have a feeling that a zillion bubbles of substance are going to rise to the surface as I return to this one over the years, but for now, the style it’s oozing is more than enough for me. All I know is that there was a moment during the movie when I actually wished I knew how to drive. That’s saying something!