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Them
Them
DVD ~ Olivia Bonamy
Offered by Phase 3, LLC
Price: $14.33
31 used & new from $4.43

17 of 31 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Hey! Teacher! Leave those Kids alone!, April 21, 2008
This review is from: Them (DVD)
In the "If this Dacha is rockin', don't come a knockin'!" category comes this French horror flick by Xavier Palud & David Moreau (who went on to helm the execrable US remake of the Korean horror flick "The Eye"---which alone should tell you all you need to know about "Ils"), which chronicles a day in the life of perambulating, exceptionally photogenic Frenchies Lucas & Clem and the horrible thing that befalls them when they mistake of answering the doorbell one spooky night in Bucharest.

And no, it's not pizza delivery.

"Ils" wants to be the next hyperkinetic French freakfest, like Alexandre Aja's supremely brutal and belligerently nasty "Haute Tension": in that way, "Ils" is like your little brother. It wants to be cool, hip, happening. Only its your little brother, it just doesn't have the horror Daddy pants to carry it off, and worse still, it's hobbled, freakishly, by an opening Minivan massacre that is carried off with such creepy efficiency that it makes everything that comes afterward taste like cinematic chicken.

SHORT REVIEW: Yeesh. If your idea of a great time is watching a couple of Frenchies run and hide and run some more up and down the same dark corridor, you'll dig this flick! It's just like the French in World War 2! Otherwise avoid with extreme prejudice.

LONG REVIEW: Yeesh. This movie contends that when people shine flashlights through the windows at 3AM, any normal person is going run screaming around the house in mortal terror. I've never heard of Death by Flashlight, though I would be willing to give "Ils" the benefit of the doubt if the movie were actually scary.

The flick is creepy, and well shot, but the central conceit: that the main characters are huge weenies with all the spine of a toadstool---is just one I couldn't clamber aboard. For instance: at one point the hubby is barricaded in the toilet, pretty much in a fetal position and gibbering in fear, while his wife is thrashing around in the attic above the john (I didn't get it either. Romanians). She sees somebody's foot, just a few inches away from her face: ie, one of THEM! In her attic! Wearing a SHOE! Probably holding a FLASHLIGHT!

This is meant to be a high-tension scene, the very height of terror.

This might have sent the Frogs into vapors, but I don't think "Ils" will play well over here. It's just not believable. For one thing, Americans own guns. Lots of guns. There are about three of them for every one of us, which is a pretty civilized ratio, frankly. So the American version of "Them" goes like this:

1) THEM shine their flashlights into JSG's window at 3AM

2) JSG responds in kind with a barrage of 9MM hollow-point ammuntion

3) Flashlight boy, perforated with a ton of new air holes, gets quiet

4) Roll credits

Another problem with "Them" reminds me of Stephen King talking about horror and the unknown in "Danse Macabre": the horror writer or director knows that fear of the unknown---of the possibility of an 80 foot bug behind that door---is far more terrifying than the Bug itself. But at some point, the director *has* to open the door and show the Bug.

And in "Them", it ain't a very big Bug. It's a real downer, actually, a 100 kiloton nuclear downer, that makes Clem and Lucas seem even sillier and (if it's possible) even *more* French.

Another thing: any time you're trying to pull off a stalker/slasher flick, it's critical to have a firm handle of movie topography. On a basic level, think the Friday the 13th series: if you see the Killer with the machete waddle into Bunkhouse #13 and switch off the light, then the Creep Quotient is gonna be *very* high when Amy the pretty Head Camp Counselor sidles over to #13 for a shower.

But Palud and Moreau play fast and loose with movie geography, so it not only becomes impossible to really sympathize with the main characters or feel their terror, but even to figure out if this is the movie you started watching---apparently 3-room bungalows in the Bucharest suburbs come with nuclear missile silos, generator bunkers, and a cave tunnel system included. Who knew?

"Ils" is 90-minutes of standard stuff you've seen done (better) a million times before. The real horror is that truly unsettling European cinema like "Calvaire" and "Seul Contre Tous" languish in obscurity when hackwork like this gets a full court press. Doorbell ditch this one.

JSG
Comment Comments (20) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 21, 2010 9:14 AM PST


No Title Available

15 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gotta keep the Hate Alive! Er, I mean "Hope", April 16, 2008
"Dreams from my Father" is the political memoir of up and coming American statesman, political guru, and all-around wunderkind Barack Obama. Or at least that's the official story.

Really, it's like the very words of God. Or at the very least the New Hip Happening Messiah, the one I can give a 10 to because I can dance to it. Truly, to be at an Obama rally, and touch the hem of His (Obama's) garment:imagine! Bliss.

Today we're not just about the Word made Flesh: we've witnessed the triumph of the Word over flesh. Forget the sixties, feeling good, and doing it: today if it sounds good, vote for it!

"Dreams" tells the gripping account of Obama's runaway Dad Mengibulu, who was trapped in Kenya by vicious Republican (white, duh) slavers and hauled in chains to America, where he was forced to pick cotton on a sprawling Georgia plantation owned by Newt Gingrich.

Spirited away from a vicious lynching at the hands of Ronald Reagan and Charleton Heston, Mengibulu Obama shot his way out of their clutches with Weather Underground leader Bill Ayres, and fled via Harriet Tubman's underground railround to Selma, Alabama, where, minutes too late to foil James Earl Ray's assassination attempt, he cradled Dr. Martin Luther King's body in his hands while simultaneously fathering Barack. He was also a good friend of Booker T. Washington and Frederick Douglass, and helped inspire them in their own efforts to help America, a country then (as it is now) full of broken souls.

Words fail me. Just opening this book is a little like dying (of something wonderful!), seeing visions of puppies and little kitty cats and sweet mountain valleys, and then waking up in a Heaven full of Barack Obamas (which is redundant). Tears of joy are flowing down my cheeks as I type these words.

There's really very little else this (limited, white, bitter, mortal) reviewer can add to the words of such an intellectual and moral giant, other than " Amen", or very possibly "Hallelujah". Or maybe "Allahu Akhbar" might be more appropriate, in this case.

I conclude the review of this great work---easily on par with the Bible or any of dead white Euro male Will Shakespeare (who can compare the bard of Stratford upon Avon with the Bard of Chicago on Lakeshore, baby, huh?)---with this ode to white middle Americans of Flyover America, those Obama (peace be unto him) in San Fran the other day, sung to the tune of Michael Buble's old lounge standard "Try a Little Tenderness":

Whiteys get weary, yeah, they get bitter
wearing the same old dress
But when they're weary, try a little tenderness.
They grab that bible, and that rifle,
clutching it to their chest
But when they're bitter, try a little Tenderness.

JSG
Comment Comments (65) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 12, 2010 6:07 PM PDT


Beowulf (Unrated Director's Cut)
Beowulf (Unrated Director's Cut)
DVD ~ Ray Winstone
Offered by FTW Traders
Price: $6.49
303 used & new from $0.01

11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Back in the Days when "Getting some Tail" wasn't a good thing..., April 4, 2008
Or---"He comes from the Land of the Ice and Snow!"

Look man: You know Times are getting tough when a Monster can't go next door and tell the neighbors to keep a lid on it. I mean, Have some sympathy for the Devil, man: I'm talking about poor, twisted, mewling, scarred, warped, stretched, folded, spindled and mutilated Grendel, the cave-dwelling monster that gets Robert Zemeckis's eye-popping "Beowulf" off to its high-octane start.

It's the end of the age of High Magic and the beginning of the Age of Man: so the skalds in the ale-halls sing---and with the latter comes the fact that it's damned near impossible where a man-eating monster can't get a decent night's sleep.

Jeez. What's a Monster to do when the horn-helmed rowdies three valleys and a mountain range over won't shut up? Yeah, true, you gotta fight for yer right to party, but you also gotta fight for your right to a good night's sleep.

So demonstrating that all Politics is really Local, Grendel (conjured up to whiney, howling, shockingly terrifying surreality by the immortal Crispin Hellion Glover) ambles on in to Ye Olde Meade Hall and shows 'em a face only a Mother could Love. I've had nights back in grad school like that, only I didn't fling people across the dorm. Might have been cathartic.

Whatever it is, it means that a) it soon gets really tough to hire good help at Heorot's Olde Meade Hall; b) business starts jumpin' for the local Undertaker! and c) King Hrothgar (Anthony Hopkins clothed in his CGI birthday suit, baby!), unlike Tina Turner, needs another hero before the Danish party-scene starts lookin' like Beirut.

Happily, a Geat NEEDS TO EAT! Beowulf (voiced by Ray Winstone, who trades his yellow speedo from "Sexy Beast" for a little chainmail and horned helm here) that is, hero of the Geats, and a dude with a great singin' voice! He hoists his vorpal sword in hand and does a little bedding down in Ye Olde Mead Hall, and it's not long before Grendel comes calling for a little late-night Danish Doorbell Ditching and the rest, as they say, is History (which can soon be said for Grendel as well).

But remember what I said about Grendel having a face only a Mother could love? Well, he does. And so this particularly tall Tale gets Taller and sports---well, a Tail.

Now: Bobby Zemeckis sexed up the million-year old Anglo-Saxon borefest (reputedly "Beowulf" may be older than John McCain!) with a little help from comics visionary Neil Gaiman: the storytelling here is really what we needed way back in junior high, when hormones were racing and the turgid tale before us was not. The pace is sheer, supple, and enormously satisfying---very primal.

But you really go check out "Beowulf" for one thing: you're seeing the Future, baby, and it works. I saw "Beowulf" in 3-D on an IMAX screen and the effect---true three-dimensional cinema---made me purr: I now understand George Lucas and James Cameron's fascination with the possibilities of 3-D film.

It's a truly immersive experience, an insurgent rush that airdrops the viewer into the film, a lush, living landscape all the more pregnant with possibility and menace, and the revolutionary possibilities for this new medium became immediately apparent from the brilliant, jaw-dropping tracking shot back and away and over the Danes Mead Hall, up over a wintry and sleeping landscape, to the craggy lair of a drowsing Ogre.

The technology is all the more ingeniously deployed in a film like Beowulf, where you're huddling in the smokey Mead Hall while some huge and furious Thing batters against the doors, or clutched on the back of a rat between a falcon's claws flying high above a winter landscape, or perched oozily behind one of Grendel's scabby, suppurating ears. I found myself reaching out into space like a giddy cat to touch the rusty, finely honed spearpoint of a halberd made real in three dimensions, or to grab at a chestful of baubles and booty tossed my way across a trestle table.

And speaking of a chestful of booty, Angelina Jolie (Grendel's Mama)can slink into my Meade Hall any ol' time; couple that with Zemeckis's rabble-rousing envelope pushing (ripping! shredding!) technology, a lean, mean, & provocative storyline that delves into the murkier territory of the ancient Legend, and Ray Winstone opening up a vorpal can of Anglo-Saxon throwdown (new "Beowulf" tagline: "GEAT IS MURDER!"), and "Beowulf" is a real Dragonslayer that is almost embarrassingly and compulsively watchable.

JSG
Comment Comments (11) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 10, 2010 8:24 PM PST


Right At Your Door
Right At Your Door
DVD ~ Mary McCormack
Offered by HOLLYWOOD DEALS
Price: $7.77
45 used & new from $0.01

10 of 28 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Revenge of the Nerds, April 4, 2008
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Right At Your Door (DVD)
Watch out for the Dirty Bomb!

No, silly, I'm talking about this movie!

Meet crack business warrior Lexi (Mary McCormack bringing home the bacon AND frying it up in a pan AND...uh, FRYING): hard-charging yuppie on a mission. The Early Bird gets the Germ!

Meet schlubby unemployed loser husband Brad (shlubby unemployed loser actor Rory Cochrane): watch as he ponders the breathless pace of his morning---will it be cheese doodles? Dr. Phil? Cheese Doodles *with* Dr. Phil?

WATCH! There really are Two Americas---Lexi in the one that works, Brad in the one that doesn't (but chums off America #1). So tighly-wound yuppie chick on a mission Lexi gets up early and motors it onto the LA freeway, while schlubby husband Brad, unemployed, part of a 'band' (hey, man, he's got guitars to prove it! he's cool! yeah!) schlubbs around the house after trying a little AM whoopee (dead sexy, Brad! hot! rowwwr you Romeo you!) with the wife.

Lexi goes to work. Brad stays home, presumably to chill on the couch, eat cheese doodles, watch Dr. Phil.

GASP! As Terrorists, meanwhile, bored of GTA4 with nothing better to do, do a little urban jihad on old LA with a bunch of combo hit LA with a bunch of combo chemical/biological bombs that turn everyone in hotzone (translation: workers of the world, exfoliate!) into walking geiger counters, Lexi included, and soon LA has more air quality worries than a little smog.

Brad, meanwhile, gets to---uh, stay in the house, eat cheese doodles, and lounge around on the couch. Score one for Brad!

MORAL #1: Being unemployed and lounging around the house watching Dr. Phil and eating cheese doodles is a lot better than sucking down a load of Ebola Zaire-Anthrax-Mustard Gas blister agent! And it's even more useful than stocking up on bottled water and duct tape if you wanna make it through a terrorist dirty bomb attack!

MORAL #2: The Glass Ceiling ain't got a thing on the Anthrax Ceiling!

MORAL #3: Terrorists don't really appreciate the whole "Earth Day" thing.

Director Chris Gorak (formerly artistic director for Fight Club, etc., and that full command of grungy authenticity does come through here) really tries to generate a kind of crescendo of mortal terror with "Right at your Door", and you've got all the nods to the great apocalyptic flicks: soldiers and fuzz in hotsuits and gas masks grunting out muffled orders, the city sinking mortally wounded into terror, and death, and darkness, and some workably impressive backdrops of a doomed and dying Los Angeles cityscape.

It would work nicely if the movie weren't a complete bore.

It could be a stage show, comprised of three characters: Shlubby Brad, Sexy Lexi, and the next door neighbor's Mexican handyman who Brad inexplicably bonds with, proving there are no atheists in foxholes, but there sure are a lot of weirdos.

Given that the handyman gets bored and wanders off midway through the show (I feel your pain, amigo!), that means "Right at your Snore" is an intimate little duel between two characters. That would work if we're talking David Mamet (a la "Glengarry Glen Ross"), but here we're more at the level of Oprah (a la "Women who love Men who love Midgets with Big Butts).

Nothing really happens. The three characters take turns looking 1) nervous 2) constipated 3) nervously constipated 4) dialing around on their cell phones & texting 5) drinking bottled water. That's it. Occasionally The Man comes around (in gas mask! In hazmat suit! with machine gun! rat a tat tat!) looking a little confused and pokes a flashlight at Brad.

Here the tension boils down to this: can Brad get his fat butt off the couch long enough to call 911? Don't believe me? Here's a sampling of film dialogue:

BRAD: Honey, I'm so sorry, I hate that you gotta sit out there on the porch and die. Hey where did you put the cheese doodles?

LEXI: I'm glad you're safe honey! I'm glad you stayed home and watched dr. phil! Does this portable gas mask make my butt look fat?

The biggest problem with "Right" is I didn't believe a minute of it.

Bottom line: take a good hard look at Lexi. Then check out Brad. Go ahead. I'll wait. Back? OK: you and I both know if Brad did what he did to Lexi at about 30 minutes in, it would have taken her about 2 seconds to do a SWAT roll through the kitchen door and sent Brad (courtesy of the Flying Roundhouse Chop) for a little quality time with the formica floor. Terminated! With Extreme Prejudice!

Check out that little crinkly delta of pure red rage wrinkles that crop up around the time she realizes her unemployed loser husband is keeping her out of her own home: yeah, baby, it's CLOBBERIN' TIME! If Lexi had drop-kicked Brad across the dinette set at that moment, this flick would have gotten 5 stars. Mary McCormack actually is a real champ with her preposterous role (in any decent flick she would have been wearing Brad's ears for a war necklace about 5 minutes after his "you keep a knockin but you can't come in" moment.

I mean, jeez: Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus, sure, but when Venus gets a little gas that's grounds for making her park it on the back porch forever?

Truth in advertising: this movie stinks. I guess it really *is* a Dirty Bomb.

JSG
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 9, 2008 1:27 PM PDT


No Title Available

18 of 41 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Dear Diary: this movie blows goats., March 28, 2008
George Romero is a hack.

Or: The Dead Walk. I snore.

"Diary of the Dead" is absolutely about the Dead getting up and walking around: it's true, it's amazing George Romero can even lift a camera, let alone have the audacity to slap something this slipshod, this mediocre, this stupefyingly dull together. Here's a hint George: time to hang up the cam and spend those royalties on a nice tropical timeshare and mebbe a pair of decent glasses. Not those giganto loopy things you've been wearing since "Night". It's affected your vision, in every sense of the word.

If you really wanna see a zombie flick where about 95% of the run-time is spent with obnoxious community college types going on and on (and my God! on and on) about the meaning of blogging---I'm not making this up!---and cinema, and the reality of media, and the reality of reality---this is your flick. If you wanna see an engaging, visceral, shiggola kicking zombie film, stay away.

"Diahrea of the Dead" is Romero doing his zombie thing by way of the "Blair Witch Project": student filmmakers scoring a mummy flick when Earth passes through a meteor shower, or the Arrowhead Project gets all outta whack, or the Illuminati raise Nixon from the dead and he starts really taking a bite outta crime. Whatever.

The premise is that one talky student (the pretentious Joshua Close, who 'plays' Jason, who...forget it, who can't act, even describing this thing is making me groggy) and his crew of derelicts, misfits, social morons, and college student apes, are shooting their crappy little film when the recently dead start hankering for human canapes. Chaos ensues. Or does it?

1)"Diary" cuts its own throat: you can have instant, on the spot realism, or you can have a typical studio film. You can't have it both ways. "Diary" doesn't trust its audience, and why should it? So even though we've got a handicam film, it's got background music. The chick narrator (see below) says she edited that stuff in to 'scare us'. Yeah. We're viewing a flick about the zombie holocaust, and we need bad synethesizer tunes to get creeped out.

2) Irritating Chick Monologue: Jason's squeeze is "Debra", played by Michelle Morgan, who, with her big puppy-dog eyes and nice cheekbones and raven waves of cascading black hair and taut little nubile muscles and toned up thighs and arms and....where was I? Oh yeah, she's easy on the eyes. But I've seen autistics who were better actors. She does voiceovers. Constantly. Voiceovers that make you want to cringe, as in: "we were all in this dark corridor of meaningless violence together, the camera showing us what was real, only because it was a camera, it wasn't real, and so we weren't really real."

Yeah, babe. Make me a pie. And then vamoose: Ridley Scott's "Blade Runner" was a visionary masterwork in spite of Harrison's lame narration. "Diary" sucks, but it sucked worse because you opened your mouth. And not in a useful way, dig?

3)ATTACK OF THE 80 FOOT CAMERAMEN! having a guy hoist a camera and film throughout a zombie apocalypse is hugely silly. Rotting folks are trying to make you their power lunch: you gonna keep filming? The only way to get us to suspend our disbelief is not to dwell on it overmuch---the way "Blairw itch" did it, or the way "Cloverfield" did it. The camera, then, becomes our own eyes, as opposed to an intrusive screen or barrier to the story unfolding before us.

Romero's cam is artless, distracting, and constantly takes me out of what might have been scary or worked. Worse still, when you have a mini zombie rampage in a hospital, and the Zombies are really working it, you know, working it to make chicken McNuggets out of the actors, and you've got about 3 people shooting videotape while everyone else is wigging out----well, it's funny. Funny not ha-ha. Funny Liberace. Dig?

4)Zero Scares. Every time romero starts playing around with an idea that might be cool & nasty (the dead guy in the warehouse hide n seek, or the rampage in the fortified mansion, all covered room to room by this creepy dead-eye surveillance camera) he immediately deep sixes it to return to monologue babe (Morgan). Yeah, she's a hot chick, but she can't act her way out of a paper sack. Every time we get a quease inducing idea (Mummy boy!) we gotta talk about blogging. Or the Internet. Or the Media. Or Global Warming. You're getting sleeeeeeep-ier, or I am.

5) the mummy scene actually worked. Phil Riccio, who played the wicked, doomed socialite Ridley Wilmott, did what he could to make this flatline flick amusing. Thanks Phil!

Oh, and the pool zombies (what we saw of them) were fun. Seriously. Maybe sticking to the mansion the whole film through might have been more fun and given things a nasty "Resident Evil" vibe. Same with the Warehouse thing: you got a buncha brothas together, and they're all hardcore, you know, all Harrisburg PA and all, and they get to do NOTHING. Zero. Bummer.

6) not enough of the talky annoying people die. Big bummer.

7) not enough guts by far.

"Diary of the Dead" is pretty much a diary by way of King Louis XVI, last King of France (who did his own undead shuffle by way of the Guillotine), who wrote in his diary on Bastille Day (when Paris's infamous political prison was obliterated by Jacobins) "Nothing Happened Today".

Serve that up as an epitaph for "Diary" and bury this corpse.

JSG
Comment Comments (48) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 28, 2011 2:52 PM PST


Londonistan
Londonistan
by Melanie Phillips
Edition: Paperback
Price: $13.26
96 used & new from $1.30

17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My Sharona? No way---My Sharia! It's the New British Invasion!, March 21, 2008
This review is from: Londonistan (Paperback)
The British are coming! The British are coming!

Only a little 21st century update in this telex courtesy of One if by Land, Two if by Sea, Three if by 747 jet into the skyscraper near you: they aren't wearing powdered wigs, don't have redcoats, and don't fire muskets.

Nor do these rock and rollers hail from Liverpool, and while they don't want to hold your hand, they may be inclined to cut it off. They do pray five times to Mecca! They do blow jetliners out of the air faster than you can say Jehovah! And don't even get `em started about Teddy Bears named Mohammed.

That's right, in the space of just slightly over 30 years, an armed camp of 1.6 million people inimical to the mores, culture, history, religion, customs, and laws of the United Kingdom have carved out a separate society within the larger British nation, outbreeding the Anglo-Saxon/Norman aborigines and hankering for a little more liebensraum. And they don't seem to care much about fitting in.

Or as the chief skald & songster of an older British invasion might have sung it---Help!

Melanie Phillip's alarming little book "Londonistan" chronicles the New British Invasion, and suggests that if the Price of Freedom is Eternal Vigilance then the Price of Tolerance may be---Zero Tolerance.

Melanie Phillips has carved together a fascinating first-hand account of how societies die: it is alarming, dire, engagingly written and utterly absorbing. While depressing---Britain is too far gone down Dinosaur trail to save, much less mourn---it's at least a real-life laboratory lesson in the consequences of lax assimilation, weak immigration policy, and the weird, evidently intractable death waddle Europe's socialist elite have joined with the dark continent's restive, fecund, and feral Muslim immigrants.

What has a hissing witches brew of PC, multi-culturalism, and unrestricted immigration wrought in Great Britain, you ask? Phillips has answers:

1)There are now 1.6 million Muslims living in the United Kingdom, clustered primarily in largely Muslim neighborhoods in urban areas.

2)While the Caucasian English population is not replacing itself, the Muslim population boasts the highest birth rate in Europe.

3)Thus officially multicultural "Cool Britannia", its elites accustomed not to judge, is being outbred by monocultural Islam (call them "Kill Britannia"), which is all too happy to judge. Combine that intransigent, vocal, and growing Muslim minority of 1.6MM that breeds like rabbits versus the less than rabidly fecund white Brits, and prop it up by the exodus of nearly 200K brits a year, and you've got a recipe for a future Karachi-on-the-Thames where even Osama bin Laden might have a fair shake for a knighthood!

Upside: you can finally get a great curry dish in Sheffield! Awesome!

Downside: Hot babes getting stoned and crushing a [CENSORED!*] out take on a totally new meaning! London bridge really is falling down! Bummer!

But don't worry, it's all about the Religion of Peace, or pieces, or chordite, semtex, AK-47s and box-cutters, or whatever. Who are we to judge? But it's a British invasion, alright! Only instead of mop-tops the new British Invaders offer no-tops! Instead of beetle boots, they offer burkhas! Instead of the the Liverpool rocker club The Cave, they offer---um---real caves! Instead of a nice cut of beef wellington and a pint of stout it's gonna be a nice cut off your head and a pint of blood, you infidel dog! Allahu Akbhar, mate, Cor Blimey!

It's a real recipe for a different kind of British Red, from Cape to Cairo! "Come Together", said the Beatles---and the Muslims have, they have!

The problem is that they're not only going to come together, they're going to stay, they're going to convert. In the end, though, I don't really think the Muslim tide is a bad thing. Tides happen in history; red tides of Death and displacement even more frequently. Cultures die: first of their own internal sickness and degeneracy, then by the coup de grace brought by a foreign invader's sword, scimitar, axe, or muzzle loading rifle.

In this regard, Phillip's account of the decline and fall of the modern British civilization is a little like having Tacitus or Suetonius relating the darkening state of events in the final days of the Roman Empire: it's a brisk, deeply researched, cautionary little fable of liberalism gone mad. And, in the End, it's really a lot like a Beatle's song: Live and Let Die.

JSG
Comment Comments (13) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 30, 2008 5:56 AM PDT


If Democrats Had Any Brains, They'd Be Republicans
If Democrats Had Any Brains, They'd Be Republicans
by Ann Coulter
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $24.95
299 used & new from $0.01

10 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars She wasn't born with enough Middle Fingers, March 20, 2008
JSG WEIGHTED RATING: 5 STARS (gotta have some Balance, people, Balance. 5-stars for agent provocateur value & to offset the 1-star votes of enraged leftist squeaklings. Excellent!)

NORMAL BOOK STANDARDS RATING: 2 STARS (gotta have some Balance, people. Balance. it's a 'greatest hits' book of quotations with big wide margins and lots of white space. Bummer)

Q: What is a Liberal? A: Someone who is driven sick with rage at very notion that someone, somewhere in America might be having an unauthorized good time---and is consequently determined to stop it!

Q: Why are Liberals for Gun Control? A: So their victims can't shoot back!

Pretend for a moment you've come down from Mars and thus you're happily innocent of the increasingly demented political battles fought in the decades-long American "Culture War". What's that, you ask? An epic battle for the commanding heights & best cultural real estate in the country, waged between Right and Left, and conducted through the smoldering battlefields of Cinema, Television, Literature, Academe, the Military, Business, and a bazillion other culverts, high roads, bunkers, castles, and assorted bastions of our erstwhile Popular Culture.

It's a bitter fight, red in tooth and claw, closely resembling either the Thirty Years War (with more laughs!) or WWI Trench Warfare (with less gound grained, & uh, somewhat cleaner)!

Coulter comes into this bloodbath with a gask mask, a bayonet, and a kazoo. Smart as a whip and legally trained, Coulter has become a hot commodity on TV talk shows, a skinny, smart-alecky Valkyrie astride the high winds of the 24/7 News Cycle, gliding over the fields of the ripening political Dead, riding like a circuit preacher from talk show to talk show and jousting with the Black Knights of Liberalism over the tourney of the Day.

She's a hot commodity because she's:

1) whipchord skinny and something of a fox...for a talking head. I mean, jeez, remember the days when Eleanor Clift was about as sexy as the Commentariat got? Exactly.

2) she's caustic. It's fun to watch Coulter open her mouth and breathe battery acid across her shrinking, terrified, morally outraged opponent.

3) she's willing to say outrageous stuff for the sake of provoking offense. Typically the ranks of the Offended (and they, like the Devil, are Legion) are American liberals, deliriously easy to offend. Yeah, YOU---you, frothing at the mouth, raging against the Machine, baby, you with the finger pokety-poking the "not Helpful" button, you know who you are, Old Hoss.

Anyway, the Culture War is bogged down, and American politics is wading through a pretty confused time---a sort of Dantesque Dark Wood. Hell, the whole cultural and politics of the West is in pretty much the same Dark Wood. We're fighting what looks to be a hopeless rearguard action against the rise of militant Islam (who knew suicide bombing could be a growth industry?).

It's not a time for intellectuals---is it any coincidence that Bill Buckley, an intellectual first and a conservative a few stiff brandys thereafter, has shaken off this mortal coil? Or that Noam Chomsky mumbles in his cups and Nat Hentoff writes sleepy op-eds while the sub-literate Michael Moore and the hysterical Al Gore get bankrolled for flicks?

It is a time for cheerleaders. For rabble rousers. For standard bearers.

Things have gotten confused in this brutal urban warfare: the terms are all turned around. Conservatives used to be the statists, the Torys: believers in the efficacy of the State for waving a stick about and getting things done. Liberals---classical Liberals---once believed in the progressive merits of free markets and free discourse.

They've pretty much changed places in the last 50 years, with Conservatives driven to the subculture as Liberals have stormed---and become---the Establishment (Hollywood, Big Media, Big Business, the Bureaucracy, the Universities). It's time to take the Power back!

Ann Coulter yet again mans the ramparts and unmans the opposition with "If Democrats had any brains, they'd be Republicans". The question boils down to this: what's the difference between your typical liberal democrat and a man born with a brain the size of a chickpea? A: the democrat chooses to be a Retard.

Shall we put too fine a point on it? We shall! Democrats have consistently demonstrated an unerring, uncanny, almost pretenernatural ability to be consistently wrong on every major issue of the age. Entirely, constantly, historically wrong! It would be marvellous, a kind of dark gift, if it weren't an evolutionary dead-end*.

They were wrong on the Cold War. They were wrong on McCarthy, the Red menace, the Soviet threat, the Soviet missile gap, and the nature of the threat of global communism as directed by the Soviet Comintern intself.

They were wrong on détente. They were wrong on ABM, and endless treaties, and nuclear non-proliferation. They were wrong on welfare. They are wrong on tax policy, on supposedly `soaking' the wealthy, on economic policy, on fiscal policy, and even on monetary policy. They are certainly wrong on the relative merits of a planned versus a free market economy.

They are wrong on free speech: big boosters as they are of the petty, bucolic tyranny of political correcteness. They are wrong on Cuba. They are wrong on civil rights, having long ago accepted race demagoguery and a nation divided by pelt as a replacement for true human dignity and equality.

Coulter is despised as few other talking heads are. Why? Because she says what you think, she's trenchant, and she's wickedly funny.

Laughter is the bane of tyrannies, and her enemies are of a tyrannical sort: naturally they loathe her. But then, stupid is as stupid does.

A workable field manual for the Culture War, the latest Coulter salvo may indeed prove that Culture War is Hell---but that doesn't mean it isn't entertaining.

JSG
Comment Comments (57) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 14, 2013 12:56 PM PDT


Hannibal Rising (Unrated Widescreen Edition)
Hannibal Rising (Unrated Widescreen Edition)
DVD ~ Gaspard Ulliel
Price: $3.99
121 used & new from $0.01

15 of 26 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Trying the Kids Menu---literally!, March 7, 2008
The killer shrink's namesake Hannibal of Carthage led war elephants over the Alps. I'd rather lead war elephants out of my bazungulus than watch this mouse-salad sandwich of a flick again.

Call it "Young Hannibal", "Hannibal Boring", or---Hey---Hannibal was Cannibal, when Cannibal wasn't cool---whatever you call it, this slow yellow busride on the flesh-chomping Wayback Machine proposes to jump back into the murky Lithuanian past of everyone's famous little killer shrink: Little Hannibal Lecter.

Left alone in the Gothic schoolroom of his parent's ancient, moldering castle in the woods north of Vilnius, Little Hannibal looks at the little food pyramid chart hanging up on the wall.

"YOU ARE WHAT YOU EAT" it says.

Little Hannibal frowns. Later at dinner at the long table in the ancient Dining Hall, Hannibal stares at his plate: some venison with a cranberry glaize. Some boiled, chopped carrots. A slab of whitefish. Peas. Leafy greens. He looks up at Mommy Lecter.

"Mummy, am I a carrot?" he asks. "No darling."

"A pea?" Not at all my sweet.

"A potato?" I think not. "A little deer?" Absolutely not, my darling Hannibal.

"Then what am I, Mummy?" the little boy wails, in a fit of bewilderment.

"Why my sweet, sweet child, you're a little boy. You're a human being, Hannibal."

The rest, as they say, is history, which should also have described this movie's fate in pre-production.

SHORT REVIEW, or, WHADDYU GUYS WANT AS AN APPETIZER?: Avoid. Plays out like Hitler Week on the History channel, only with People-Eating! I mean, honest to God, how do you make a movie about a serial killer cannibal psychiatrist boring? Ask director Peter Webber, he did it.

LONG REVIEW, or, PEOPLE, PEOPLE WHO EAT PEOPLE, ARE THE LUCKIEST PEOPLE IN THE WORLD. The little nihlist spin Jon Demme gave "The Phantom of the Opera" could be summarized in three words: nasty, shocking, evil. When I first saw it, for a few weeks I recommended it be burned. The effect of that chicken-skin netherworld of inky-black grue was like standing in a meat locker and having a spitting black electric eel, its skin still slick with tepid water, dumped down your pants.

"Silence of the Lambs" felt like pure Evil because it was meant to: it was a bleak nightworld highway of Hell with no offramps. The audience was dumped into a world where sanity stood on its head. Hannibal Lecter, society psychiatrist, was the very epitome of that film's brutal wrongness: a finely concocted, meticulously educated, disarmingly sophisticated monster whose refinement only serves as a pressure cooker for the ferocity and savagery lurking just within the urbane exterior.

Take any two minutes of grandmaster Anthony Hopkins's performance: it practically bristles a perfectly modulated, barely contained menace.

That menace---that sense of a hinged trapped set to spring on naught but a muscle tremor---is totally absent in "Hannibal Rising": Young Sherlock Hannibal (French actor Gaspard Ulliel, who probably does a fine job when he's talking Frog) bristles with all the menace of a cow-eyed virgin schoolboy visiting Europe for the first time. The only time Ulliel really rises to the occasion is when he gets all jiggy with a samurai mask and sword. And then, only for a moment.

And it's really not even poor Mr. Ulliel's fault that "Hannibal Boring" struggles to breathe and dies on the slab: more than anything it's the flick's whole schizophrenic struggle to humanize a guy who likes nothing better than a little Homo Sapiens pate with his champagne breakfest. Hey, who are we to judge! The SS ate his sister! Imagine what a little kidney-biting could have done for Schindler's List!

Nor can you blame the screenwriter for the flaccid storyline: lay that at writer Thomas Harris's door, an author who hasn't had magic in his typewriter since, well, ever. Harris's backstory to his foodie supervillain was: Hannibal, budding Lithuanian aristocrat, has to deal with World War 2! Hannibal loses baby sister to some fascists with, uhm, diverse palates! Hannibal makes it through, baby! Hannibal gets even, along with a nice first edition copy of Julia Child's "Joy of Cooking".

At the end of the day, though, "Hannibal Sleeping" fails because it spends all its time answering the most tiresome question of our dull Age: "Why". Asking "Why?" is a nice long drive up Nowhere Lane. Why did the big bad man capture a schoolbus full of little kids, cut them up into a million pieces, and airmail all the parts to Guam?

Why is pointless: why not? (the central question in "Silence of the Lambs") is far more amusing. Why does there need to be a why? Sexuality leads us to the precipice from which we may view the futility of the question, where why is buried beneath thrashy seconds, minutes, hours, days of sweaty insanity and pheremonal depravity.

Why? Because it feels good, Clarisse.

Which can't be said of this flop. "Hannibal Rising" is zero red meat and lots of tofu, sprouts, and sushsi: fifteen minutes later and you'll be hungry again.

JSG
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 28, 2011 9:56 PM PST


Battle Royale 2 Revenge Uncut SE
Battle Royale 2 Revenge Uncut SE
DVD ~ Tatsuya Fujiwara
Offered by Amazing Savings USA
Price: $37.95
5 used & new from $28.28

14 of 22 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Don't trust anybody over 30. Shoot everyone else., March 5, 2008
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
"Battle Royale 2" is exactly what would happen if Michael Moore got all liquored up, had a weekend cheeseburger & rotgut bender in some cheapo New Mexico hotel room, and then remade "Saving Private Ryan" the next morning.

Why not just take all of the first film's fans and shoot them in the face? That would have at least been merciful.

Instead, Kenta Fukasaku, who took the helm of Number 2 when his old man Kinji croaked, rips off everything insane, edgy, dangerous, and gloriously bloodthirsty about the infamous Battle Royale---pretty much "Lord of the Flies" with an NRA membership and exploding necklace IEDs---and turns it into a steaming cauldron of rhinoceros doodle.

Without a doubt the younger Fukasaku was already in an untenable position: #1, he had to finish what his old man had started. And #2, he had to make a sequel to Battle Royale, a wicked, deviant, deeply troubled cult classic, full of sound and fury (oh yes, especially fury) signifying total carnage.

So going in, did I expect Kenta Fukasaku to top his old man? No. But did he have a make this atrocity?

BR2 badly wants to be Battle Royale, like a little changeling dwarf child badly wants to be a real boy. So it has all the ingredients, all the trimmings, all the neato stuff Kenta thought he should include, of the first flick: the graduating class riding together on the bus; the nerve gas interlude; the chaotic broil of soldiers, armor, helicopters, klieg lights, herding Shenizaru Middle School #4 into the Death Room for guns, gear, and a little object lesson in what happens to disobedient children (hint: spare the beeping collar, spoil the child).

This time our class has been drugged and dragooned by their Sensei (Riki Takeuchi, who chomps pills like Rush Limbaugh in a fright wig and later really switches it up for a groovy last-minute mass die-in, donning his rugby gear and death-collar to get into the game, you know, really show you what it means to be the ball, BE THE BALL BABY!)---hauled to a military camp on a desolate beach overlooking, um, Monster Island, and forced to don battle-dress to take out that dastardly bunch of truants, the Terrorists, now doing a little Brand Management(tm) as the Wild Seven. Jeez, and you thought high school Detention was rough.

The rest of the flick goes by the numbers and on the Bounce, as follows:

1) Kids storm the beach! Machine-guns chew up the Kids like they're beef jerky in an all-night truck stop!

2) Gratuitous Syrupy Flashback! OK: the first flick did this too, chiefly as a way to develop character on the fly. But a) you actually cared about the characters in the first BR, and b) the first BR didn't chow down on donkey rungus.

3) Kids/Special Forces/Army/Tac-Nuke Storm the Beach! (see #1, above)

4) Lead Terrorist Guy Emotes! Makes rousing speech!

5) Gratuitous Syrupy Flashback!

6) Kids Storm the Beach!

That's the film, and it goes on for what feels like, uh, eternity. Comparing BR2 to its infamous predecessor is like comparing Bizarro to Superman. The guy's got the color scheme right, you know, same hairdo, red cape, flies around, faster than a speeding bullet and so on, sure, but there's something---wrong. Something off. Like a Hot Fudge Sunday, only with liquid squid sclooge for a topping instead of hot fudge.

It is monstrously terrible. It is ploddingly derivative. It is howlingly incompetent. It can be funny, though---in a "we're laughing at you, not with you" way. Example: the Military kidnapped the kids, bullied and beaten them, shoved guns and billy clubs in their faces, slammed them into the blood-smeared concrete floor, shot one of their number at point-blank range, popped the tops off two others like ripe grapefruit courtesy of their necklace-bombs, and then force-marched the rest out to Monster Island on a suicide mission---and even so, one radio-man slaps his cheeks McCauley Culkin style later in the movie and shouts in shock and surprise "Commander! This is impossible---your class has joined up with the terrorists!" Betrayal! No way!

Credit to Kenta for portraying us (America, baby, yeah!) as the monsters we are. We worked hard for it! That's right: just as a hot crap Sundae would be nothing without a cockroach doodle on top, BR2 manages to underscore and highlight its own inferiority by being pointlessly, gratuitously anti-American. The survivors end up hiding out with the Taliban (and, evidently, a papier-mache tank) in Afghanistan. The chicks are in burkhas. One of the schoolboys is even named "Osamu". GET IT? OSAMU, GET IT?

Taken another way, "BR2" is the ultimate Daddy Movie, a Far Eastern take on the Big O (for Oedipus, not Oprah): a non-stop cage fight with a barrel of Daddy Issues! The Ingenue & Beat Takeshi---Daddy Issues! The Grown-Ups v. the Kids---Daddy Issues! The Cool Emoting Hero with a Revolutionary Father---Daddy Issues! And best of all, the Ultimate Daddy-Kiddy Relationship, Japan v. the USA---Daddy Issues!

Whatever. BR2 is hardly an act of filial piety: if Kenta wanted to strike a blow at Daddy from Hell's Dark Heart, why not just snort the old man's ashes over a cheeseburger, the Keith Richards way? That would have been kinder (& certainly more interesting to watch).

If I've made this swill seem enjoyable, I've failed: this is shoddily done tedium that is a snooze to sit through. Kenta Fukasaku has made a war flick that really is The Bomb---just not the kind he was hoping for.

JSG
Comment Comments (11) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 26, 2009 4:58 PM PST


Hatchet (Unrated Director's Cut)
Hatchet (Unrated Director's Cut)
DVD ~ Joel David Moore
Price: $5.99
89 used & new from $0.99

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A Country Boy 'kin Survive!, February 26, 2008
Hallelujah, it's raining Men!

Oh, and women too. Literally.

Pity poor, monstrous, ruined, bloodthirsty Victor Crowley (the great Kane Hodder, channeling Eric Stoltz from "Mask"): born into this cruel and grasping age looking for all the world like a pig with Down's Syndrome stuck by a mad scientist into a combination blender/teleporter with the little unwanted mutant baby from "Eraserhead".

Born into this! Yes, Born into this!, as Bukowski once said. And then smacked in the face with a hatchet because he had a really bad case of ADHD (they parented differently back then, spare the rod and all).

Supposedly he's dead, but the Cajun fishermen tell tales of hearing him cry out for this father from the ruins of their little abandoned cabin up in the cypress swamps on a moonless night.

"Hatchet" bills itself as "old school American horror", and its eye-catching publicity posters (and DVD art) promised as much: the starkness of the hatchet front and center, its stony, unyielding surface smeared with sticky red blood, a primal sigil of destruction, all sharp, hard, brutal lethality contrasted against a backdrop of inky night.

That might suggest simplicity, starkness, perhaps raw terror, to you. It might suggest raw, primal grue. Perhaps a stripped down screenplay, a kind of rippling, insurgent savagery and, Hell, mebbe even a scare or two. You might be forgiven for thinking this was something new, something revolutionary; I did.

We would be wrong.

"Hatchet" is to Scary what a palace eunuch is to Macho. It is a deeply, deeply stupid movie, that manages to 1) take the relatively simple horror movie chore---deliver the boneheaded cardboard characters to the swampy anvil of death---and transform it into an hour of painfully contrived, brain-blasting tedium; 2) squander the talents of horror vets Robert Englund and Tony Todd in scenes both tedious and cringingly unfunny. The first hour of "Hatchet" is the cinematic equivalent of injecting yourself into "Flowers for Algernon": you can just feel yourself getting stupider.

But once the psycho fodder hits the swampy turf---& the resident Psycho (played to beefy, uh, perfection bybeefy psycho vet Kane Hodder) shows up to, er, bury the Hatchet---things get redder, and goopier, and gorier.

You're missing nothing if you just FF to the goods: the sheer, unapologetic brutality of the flick (chick! hiya! chick, meet drill sander!), and the generous helpings of the goopy red stuff, at which it's pretty much by the numbers & on the bounce: psycho fodder shriekds, runs and hides. Mutant freak finds, slices, and dices. Rinse, repeat.

Bottom line: all the marks I take away for the sheer blain-blasting stupidity of this thing, I must restore for sheer enthusiasm. Sheer, wild-eyed, gore & brain splattered exuberance counts for a lot in jihad, porn, and horror movies, and Adam Green delivers it in spades once his monster shows up with his own rendition of the Big Easy.

If nothing else, it's worth checking out just to see what amounts to a fully ambulatory, totally ripped Elephant Man in overalls come bounding down a bridle path, hatchet in hand rendered teeny by the Beast's gigantism, and give a little Tomahawk Chop right to the ol' shoulder-blade of some shrieking geezer. And what a Chop!

Anyway for all the goop and gore, this film also has a great message. Three of them, in fact:

HATCHET GREAT MORAL #1: if it's raining in New Olreans and all the levee done broke and we got no place to go, brotha, they's worse places to be (like in da Hootchee swamp with a hatchet wielding maniac out).

HATCHET GREAT MORAL #2: There are worse things in Louisiana than Katrina, FEMA, and gators.

HATCHET GREAT MORAL #3: When you were a kid did ya get hit with the Ugly Stick? Get even---get a sharper one and hit back!

JSG
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 27, 2009 3:51 PM PDT


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