Posts Tagged ‘DVD Collection’

Girls-Against-Boys-2012-Movie-PosterPerhaps it’s tempting to lean on exploitative visuals to tell certain stories or explore particular ideas. For instance, I Spit On Your Grave is now a three film “franchise”, featuring the Meir Zarchi original (1978) and two modern retellings / reimaginings. These films are known for pushing the boundaries of cinematic acceptability over the edge into blatant exploitation. The film-makers justify the exploitative imagery by pointing to the themes of the films: how else could / should the story of a woman’s violation and need for vengeance be told except explicitly? And shouldn’t the cinematic portrayal of the woman’s violation be just as explicit and vile as her cinematic acts of vengeance? Isn’t cathartic cinema valuable? And how dare the audience shy away from merely seeing such a violation when so many women actually experience similar atrocities?

Yeah, I don’t know about all that. All I know is that I’ve seen all three I Spit On Your Grave films, and I walked away from each one feeling that justice and awareness and communication weighed far less than amplified shock value in the filmmaker’s process. I could be wrong, but these films felt more pornographic – in their treatment of both violation and vengeance – than honestly cathartic.

Girls Against Boys, despite its dramatic title and provocative poster, does not rely on exploitation to explore similar issues of violation and vengeance. It’s more akin to films like Teeth and American Mary, working more in visual subtlety, relying more on the strength of the narrative and the precision of good performances, which is a far-cry from simply being “tasteful” in dealing with a delicate situation.

Girls Against Boys tells the story of Shae (Danielle Panabaker) who befriends Lu (Nicole LaLiberte) shortly after a nasty break-up and immediately before falling victim to a new possible love interest. Shae reaches out to family and friends for support, but no one proves available except Lu. And if hell truly hath no fury like a woman scorned, Lu gladly saddles up alongside Shae as fury personified. The girls quickly become a Thelma and Louise pair hell-bent on vengeance, but inevitably the vengeance reaches farther than anticipated.

On the surface (and by mere appearance), Girls Against Boys looks like a simple bad-girl-with-a-gun B-grade sleeper, but there’s some real heart to the telling of Shae’s story. Kudos to writer / director Austin Chick for rising above the possible trenches of genre trappings and avoiding simple exploitation maneuvers. He’s created, instead, a unique character study of a young woman caught a painfully dichotomous mindset. Not to mention, I never imagined the nonchalant enjoyment of Captain Crunch could be so creepy. Girls Against Boys gets a solid 3.5 geisha blades out of 5. Here’s proof again that the viewer’s imagination and sympathies are far more vicious than any camera’s eye.

Boys_love_laneJohn,

I’m addressing this to you because I cannot fathom for a moment that Grave or Dr. Wertnz would be much interested in an indie-flick (by Jonathan Levine, director of 50/50 and Warm Bodies) that collides a John Hughes highschool drama and an early 80s slasher-whodunnit so masterfully that I cheered at the end, spilling a sleeping pug from my lap onto the floor. Oh, and Amber Heard, before she was a lesbian or dating Johnny Depp, leads as Mandy Lane – the Amanda Jones of scream queens if Some Kind of Wonderful had been a slasher. Reasons to watch All The Boys Loved Mandy Lane keep stacking like bodies on a weekend woodland getaway!

There’s some indie-film lore surrounding this film about it making the tiny theater circuit back in 2006, then somehow landing on underground video (online or VHS, I’m not sure), and the rights were greatly debated for a spell until the director Johnathan Levine finally made name enough for himself with Warm Bodies to interest a distributor in releasing this thing to your local RedBox and BestBuy. I probably got all that wrong, having read about it in an Entertainment Weekly during a morning constitutional, the details are fuzzy at this point. What I do know is that the release of this sucker is considered a high-fiveable victory for indie-film, and film-buffs in the know were stoked. I tend to trust film-buffs in the know more than critics, and this time it worked in my favor.

This film looks and feels amazing. The music is creepy perfect, swimming all the way in-between Robert Earl Keen (who makes a cameo at a gas station) Texas country to the Go-Gos to Beethoven and back to something you’ve never heard but that fits the visual tone like a Nintendo PowerGlove that actually works. Levine choreographs a few montage scenes that lift the film above its horror genre trappings, tricking the viewer into believing this is all a sweet, Sundance coming-of-age drama rather than the kind of film where girls are slaughtered by shotguns literally shoved down their throats. The gore is good. The kill scenes are fun. And the acting is above expected par. Amber Heard is always great, even when the film sucks lobotomized brain balls (ie. John Carpenter’s The Ward).

But what makes this movie is Levine’s direction and Jacob Forman’s script. Again, Levine pitches this thing perfectly, allowing tensions to build while flinging red herrings like a Seattle fish market pro. My only complaint with the direction was Levine’s necessity to fill 90 minutes. Time swam around a few supporting characters’ existential crises, which felt laborious. Fortunately, this made the audience cheer for certain deaths all the more, so perhaps it worked afterall. Forman’s script is interesting because his characters are paper thin. However, combining the script and the direction – which shows us the majority of the story from Mandy Lane’s perspective – the viewer begins to wonder if they’re seeing the actual character or Mandy Lane’s impressions of each person. It gets a bit meta (as the kids are want to say these days), unless I’m just reading too much into it. The latter is usually the case when it comes to films like this.

Overall, I gave All The Boys Loved Mandy Lane 4 roof high swimming pool dives out of 5. This film was a pleasant surprise, convincing me all the more that the nerds know more than the critics. And since we’re nerds, that puts us on the winning side.

I heart you, John Barber, more than Keith hearts Watts, but not in a I’m-giving-you-my-future-in-the-form-of-earrings kinda way,

– kiki

Hands,

I just texted Myles a wonderful quip that you may now used in your daily conversations and attribute to me. The text read (and I may be paraphrasing or revising here):

You know it’s a good economy when you can sell shit to one place so you can buy crap somewhere else.

Use that nugget, Hands. It’s yours.

Today I cleaned out my school office. Loaded up a bag of old grad school text books and paperback novels some English teacher keeps laying out on the “Free Stuff” table in the Humanities Department hallway. Took it all down to Half Price Books and grabbed $15 smackers for it. Spent that $15 immediately on three Clearance Rack DVDs:

  • TERMINATOR 3 : RISE OF THE MACHINE (Just trying to round out the trilogy.)
  • THE TALENTED MR. RIPLEY (Because my wife loves it and John just pimped the book from his vacation palace. Would like to give both – book and film – a little spin before end of summer.)
  • HOSTEL : 2-DISC DIRECTOR’S CUT (I might be the only person on earth who finds this film charming. It’s cute to see Roth at such an early, excitable stage in his directing. And I find it interesting, after creating the superior HOSTEL sequel, that he’s kinda disappeared as a director. Ironically, to assure ticket sells for HOSTEL, Lionsgate splashed Quentin Tarantino’s name across the poster – Quentin Tarantino Presents – and now Eli Roth’s name can also be seen on certain movie posters (THE LAST EXORCISM was the first film I noticed) offering the same boost for sells. The difference is that Taratino has continued to make films while Roth seems to have found his sweet spot in producing and making cameo appearances in the film’s he produces.)

With the Clearance shite out of the way, I picked up the actual prize I intended for my office spoils: Target’s blue graphic tee sporting the logo for Bluth Frozen Bananas, just like Myles purchased over the weekend on his visit. We’re Twinkers, if only in divided by county lines.

I like this economy. I like this notion of selling and trading the crap you’ve accumulated over time for more accumulated crap. One day I’ll get around to reading Thoreau again or Wendell Berry for the first time, and I might rest myself at simply getting rid of the crap. But I’m not there yet. I like libraries. And I like them in my home. Slimming them down to a more purposeful display of titles is half the fun of collection.

That is all,

– The Bull-fought Mr. Kiki

Gratuitous Collection Update : Vol. 2

Posted: July 8, 2013 by Kiki Malone in Film Reviews, Kiki Malone
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Hands,

We visited the Half-Price Bookstore in Round Rock, Texas today because they had a big sale and you can take your dog inside. The Clearance Rack served me well. Also, I had a 50% coupon that scored me a pretty pretty major find. Here’s today’s load, all for less than $20:

  • AUSTIN POWERS (Now I’ve got the full trilogy, so I can finally partake in the legend I’ve missed out for so long),
  • BEWITCHED (Yes, this is one with Will Ferrell, which I’ve never seen and I hear is horrible. But I don’t care. Nora Ephron wrote and directed this, and you know I love the Nora Ephron. Plus, it was less than a dollar.)
  • A CHRISTMAS STORY (Myles and I recently discussed and agreed: July is the best time of year to stock-up on Christmas music. Kelly Clarkson, I’m sure, is recording a few Christmas numbers as I type this, and all the video stores have the great perennial classics marked down. Glad to finally have this one, especially since I don’t have cable.)
  • THE COLOR PURPLE (Picked this one up just for posterity sake.)
  • DENNIS THE MENACE (Yes, this is the one with Malter Mathau as Mr. Wilson. Written by John Hughes. I love very few people in film more than John Hughes. Maybe Amy Adams. Or Jessica Chastain. Or Chris Hemsworth, even with his shirt on. But there’s not many I like more than John Hughes.)
  • FOOTLOOSE (My wife loves this one. She also claims it’s a “travesty” that I have never seen it. Perhaps my remedy shall finally befall.)
  • MISS CONGENIALITY (We saw THE HEAT twice this weekend. Once with the Werntz family and then again with my dad for his b-day. THE HEAT is killer. Laugh out-loud and gut-busting and definitely some pee. And it made my wife nostalgic for funny Sandra Bullock. They didn’t have THE PROPOSAL on the Clearance Rack, but they had this one.)
  • MY BLOODY VALENTINE 3-D (Been waiting a long time for this one to hit one dollar. Passed it up dozens of times for two or three bucks. Patience is my virtue.)
  • PLANES, TRAINS AND AUTOMOBILES ( Written AND directed by John Hughes. Enough said.)
  • TWILIGHT : NEW MOON (We saw all these damn flicks in the theater. And my wife actually said that if I could find them all on Clearance, she’d like to have the collection and one day host a film fest. We’re two-of-five into making that dream come true.)

And, with my 50% coupon, I picked up the following:

  • UNDECLARED : THE COMPLETE SERIES (Judd Apatow’s post-FREAKS AND GEEKS project, starring Seth Rogen and Martin Starr and Jason Segal and Sam Levine and Fred Willard and Busy Phillips! My can attest to the fact that we have a FREAKS AND GEEKS Soundtrack framed in our living room. UNDECLARED just shot to the top of my must-see list.)

That is all. Geek on,

– kiki malone / gator / bullfighter / posthumously unhamsterian

Hands,

My favorite local used video store had a sale today. And I had a stack of “never-gonna-watch” discs to trade. I came out with a nice set. Here’s the new additions:

  • ALIENS – (I’ve got the first and now the sequel. Done. That’s all the ALIEN anyone really needs.)
  • AUSTIN POWERS : GOLDMEMBER (Only need the first to complete the trilogy – and I haven’t seen any of these yet)
  • BLAZING SADDLES : 30TH ANNIVERSARY SPECIAL EDITION (Saw parts of this when I was a young, humorless lad. Didn’t get the satire. Looking forward to giving it another shot.)
  • RUSHMORE (Hope to eventually score this on Criterion. In the meantime, I’m very happy about this. Searched longer than I care to admit for a cheap copy.)
  • SLEEPLESS IN SEATTLE (There’s a Nora Ephron commentary track on this that I’m chomping at the bits to experience. She’s up there with John Hughes sometimes for me.)
  • WEIRD SCIENCE : FLASHBACK EDITION (Speaking of John Hughes . . . )
  • XXX (For the wife. She loves Vin Diesel. And she loves bang-bang-shoot-me-ups. And, I can’t lie, these flicks are crazy fun sometimes.)

I also expanded my VHS library this morning at Half-Price Books by three titles:

  • ANNIE HALL
  • CITIZEN KANE
  • CARROTBLANCA (The Looney Tunes parody of CASABLANCA, which is a timely addition to the collection after yesterday’s viewing of the Bogart-Bergman original. Blew my mind, man.)

The library grows!

– kiki