Gamera vs. Jiger (1970)

"As you can see here, there's a flaw built right into the heart of this series..."

“As you can see here, there’s a flaw built right into the heart of this series…”

This, the sixth Gamera film, (released in the U.S. as Gamera vs. Monster X) is really the third part in a Pentalogy that ends the series, all following the same basic outline. A New Monster arises, Gamera loses his first fight, and spends half the movie down for the count as the Military/Scientific/Industrial Complex fails to combat the latest kaiju threat. A pair of Annoying Kids (one Japanese, on Token Anglo), Designated as Our Duel Protagonists, take it upon themselves to deal with a human-sized problem, and their plucky spirits rouse Gamera, Friend to All Children, from his mid-movie stupor. He wins the Climactic Battle as the Kids watch from Minimum Safe Distance, ruining the fun for everyone with their high-pitched color commentary. Cue credits.

With this one, I can’t even escape the opening credits without deducting points for stock-footage. Someone’s mom obviously told them to “put their best foot forward,” but I doubt “reuse fight scenes from the previous five films” is what she really meant. In fairness, the is the last we’ll see of previous battles…though not, as I’ll discuss later, the last time we’ll see stock footage. However, Gamera vs. Jiger can still boast the least amount of stock footage in any Gamera film since Gamera vs. Gaos. Marvel at that for a moment. It’s almost as if Team Gamera enjoyed a budget increase after their success with vs. Viras and vs. Guiron. If so, it only accelerated Daiei Studios collapse into bankruptcy. But we’ve one more film before that happens. Continue reading

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Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl (2003)

You keep using that flag. I don't think it means what you think it means.

You keep using that flag. I don’t think it means what you think it means.

I’ve never been able to take pirates seriously. I blame Peter Pan. Neverland-centric adventures were the only context in which I encountered pirates during my land-locked childhood. Seeing them perpetually made fools of by a pack of flying children (who may or may not have been vampires, led by one of the darkest Dark Princes since Dracula…and his house-fairy) did not endear pirates to me, and tales of so-called “adventure” on the Early Modern Era’s high seas always struck me as horror stories by another name.

If you’ve read them, you know what I’m talking about: there are parts of Moby Dick fit to make even the hardest hardcore Saw fan curl up into a ball of tears and barf (which is why Moby Dick‘s screen adaptions usually omit those parts). Really-real life accounts of long sea voyages during that First Great Age of Colonialism are all about misery, deprivation and discomfort. I swear, before the invention of mass media, people could not shut the fuck up about their toothaches. Or “the scurvy.” And if it wasn’t “the scurvy” it was “the pox.” If it wasn’t “the pox” it was “consumption.” And if it wasn’t “consumption…”

You get the idea. Hopefully, by now, you’ll also have some idea as to why most Pirate Movies are fanciful romps, set in highly-romanticized alternate universes where grown ass men can spend their whole lives at sea but still come ashore with perfect teeth. Men like Douglas Fairbanks, or Erol Flynn. Or Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. Or Burt Lancaster. By the time my mother was in grade school, pirate movies had at least grown the balls to cast unattractive dudes as sea dogs – like Robert Newton. Or Yul Brenner. But that didn’t last. The year I was born was also the year Pirates of Penzance came out, thrilling absolutely no one and proving not a goddamn thing had changed since the Silent Era. Continue reading

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Justice League: War (2014)

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Superman Returns (2006)

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Killer Joe (2011)

All you Western fans will know what this means.

All you Western fans will know what this means.

I’ve shilled for genres big and small, appreciated or not, and Country Noir (as one of its main proponents, Daniel “author of Winter’s Bone” Woodrell labeled it back in 1996) is certainly one of the least-appreciated. Noir never left us, obviously, it just shed it’s outer skin of San Francisco, smokey rooms and Private Dicks with hot secretaries. All the cliches Raymond Chandler’s hardcore fans continue to embrace. Beyond the sheltering walls of cities, with their plumb angles and functional social structures (however corrupt they may or may not be) lies a world of violent crime, inveterate lying, and shameless acts of complete degradation. All in the name of catching what your average supercriminal (whether in Metropolis, Gotham or Wall Street) would consider financial table scraps – barely enough to blow your nose with, let alone improve your life. You think your life sucks because you lacked money…? NO! WRONG ANSWER!

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Sorry. Didn’t mean to yell. But films that genuinely get to me are rare and special treats now, after years of facing down the New Release fire hose every week from late-May until late-December. I missed Killer Joe‘s first run because it didn’t have one, and it didn’t have one because the MPAA slapped it with a NC-17 – the Kiss of Death for any film hoping to screen in a US theaters. Most refuse to run NC-17-rated films flat-out, fearing the wrath of outraged, Puritanical assholes…like the ones who run the MPAA rating’s board. Director William Friedkin refused to cut this down for them, immediately earning my respect. “To get an R rating,” he said to Rope of Silicon,

“I would have had to destroy it in order to save it and I wasn’t interested in doing that…The ratings board says no child under the age of 17 can see an NC-17 picture even accompanied by their parent. So they are telling parents what they can and cannot expose their children to. And who the hell are they?” Continue reading

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Gamera vs. Guiron (1969)

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The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (2013)

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Thor: The Dark World (2013)

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Carrie (2002)

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The Rage: Carrie 2 (1999)

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