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Orgy of the Damned (2010)
Extremely well crafted, original Vampire's story
"Orgy of the Damned" is a refined and successful attempt recreating with sumptuous, Gothic style that retro (1960s/1970s/1980) European cult leading "genre" movies, with sometime rather inventive style and story telling. Here, there are terrific visual elements from gifted Italian cinematographer Mirco Sgarzi, and, the story by D. Arcangeli and Creep Creepersin is linear, but never trite, stylized and moving fast. We found suggestive the use of elements recalling some books of transgressing writer Brett Easton Ellis depicting with an hallucinated realism a doomed Hollywood weekend of a couple, who after clubbing in flashy S/M venues, ends up accepting (while also attempting to rekindle their seemingly tedious relationship) an invitation from 'Dimitri'(Chandler Maness) who seems well known to many. After a drink, or two, and what seems to be an allusive yet jaded conversation, the young couple is given the password to what is expected to be an exclusive hot after party on the dramatic Hollywood Hills, where only the most gorgeous, young, uninhibited crowd is invited to attend. After more drinking, and, having lost sight of the busy hunk Dimitri, the young elegant couple finally decide to break the ice, and to attend the adventurous proposal. By following the directions, and, with a secret code as a password to the unknown, they are taken to one of those Old Hollywood Goth mansions that looks almost intimidating in its magnitude, but that appears immediately to be a wild place where no barrels are hold, by the busy landscaping loaded with undressed extras waiting to enter by the main gate over the park, in order to be included in one Hell of an adventure to savor one more Hollywood's experience to remember. Once inside, the couple is quickly introduced by Dimitri, who immediately recognizes them, to the 2 proprietors of the Château, the languid, but, dark and tormented, brooding Fosco, and the savvier, more aggressive, out going Sabina: now, something "mysterious" and seemingly almost coming from the darkness of the beyond, immediately clicks among the 4, who are pleasantly surprised, but, also apparently immediately unsettled by it. Among a wilder and wilder shifting crowd composed by hot, gorgeous bodies, often in the nude, or often even having sex with or without the use of hard core "recreational drugs", Micah and his lovely young mate Fauna, become more and more loose and available to accept the edgy limits given to them by this world where apparently every moral has stopped, and conventions have been broken Centuries ago, by the 2 mysterious leads, the incredibly introspective and sensitive Fosco, and the more deceiving, drug user Sabina who seems often volatile, and definitely hiding constantly something more and more harrowing. I won't be giving away anything else of the thrilling, and, quickly unfolding plot that's following the fatal destinies of our protagonists, but i would like to point out how beautifully and luxurious both Art Direction, and high fashion's costume design were also photographed in very rich and saturated colors with an expertise that was also reminiscent of some of the most dense and outrageous atmospheres of an Anne Rice's vampires novel. While the scenario at times becomes even too gory, and disturbingly sexual for the prude or the faint of heart, we enjoyed instead this movie throughout , because it simply works mainly on 2 levels: you get the horrifying, Gothic, and highly suspenseful erotic situations promised by the marketing of the film, but you'd also be surprised by the incredible, almost touching depth of the character's development, that more often shines as a tale inspired by a modernized version of the 1782 Choderlos DE Laclos's novel "Dangerous Liaisons' as it starts its premise with a fascinating complex romance, and improves as it progresses, thus starts this tale of deceit and corruption through seduction, with the summons from the perverted Sabina to her confidante and former lover and son, Dimitri. The complex moral ambiguities of seduction and revenge make "Orgy of the Damned"probably one of the most scandalous and controversial movies ever made about vampires.. The subject of the major film, the script's prime movers, the dark and melancholic Fosco, and his clan, form an unholy alliance and turn seduction at first into a game - a game which they must win, just to defeat boredom. While this new tone gives the classic vampire's story a modern twist bringing to the plate many subtle argumentation, the viewers would be able to judge whether this movie is as "diabolical" and "infamous" as its critics might claim, or whether it has much to tell us about the kind of world we ourselves live in. I personally found a rich and increasingly surprising texture for a low budget genre movie, whose visuals often reminded me of the work of such European cult directors, such as, Mario Bava, Jean Rollin, Franco, and, Lucio Fulci: but its script is touching and ambiguous, like one of the most cruel of Ellis's prime novels (think "Less Than Zero" or "The Rules of the Attraction") where a bunch of desperate, drug taking, sexually 'uncertain' youth keep on pushing the envelope, manipulated by a society, that it is as dark and actually darker than some of their most shocking decisions. And, if at the end, there's a supernatural event changing, or perhaps, recreating the old Vampire's clan's rules, the situation from the very core of its tale, and the atmosphere comes across as completely re modernized and lethally dangerous as the type of literature the script obviously makes strong references to. And, this is also possible thanks to a very crisp, clear presentation of a story that is more classic than you'd think, and that also comes powerfully through with some excellent acting, especially from Domiziano Arcangeli, as the lead Fosco.
The Brides of Sodom (2013)
Beautiful vampires in Gothic tale
Extremely well crafted lower budget movie about all the beautiful people, sorry I should say all the gorgeous vampires, fighting humans and, then for love or luxury even themselves to the most dramatic and horrific consequences, in this retro style European Horror Exploitation film presented with just the right amount of everything, and, pretty unique today with its wild tones, and saturated colors framing few, but appealing sets with an eye backward towards certain Italian or French ( Margheriti, Franco, Bava, and Rollin come to mind ) directors who were prolific icons of the 1970s and 1980s. The story is deeply convoluted, but the dialogues are somewhat unusual and new, and well compliment the atmosphere, while all the steamy sex and gore galore are never deliberately vulgar, but tastefully shot, creating an ensemble that vaguely could at its best, remind of a modernized John Ford's tragedy. The cast is extremely appealing with a mix of great looking soft core stars, and quirky or just plain handsome cult actors and starlets you have for sure already seen in other horror or cult movies. The chemistry is great especially among the 2 leads torn by a burning and impossible love that hides secrets coming from the beyond! All the numerous others are all properly mysterious and rabid like in a real Gothic novel with a biting grip. While "Orgy of the Damned" could have been a little less erotic and more preoccupied to wrap up with character's development of its many subplots and secondary antagonists, one cannot deny that over all it ends up to make for a pleasant surprise especially considering the quite anonymous Horror scene we have to put up with today, and certainly won't disappoint those looking for a sexy film made with class and truly gorgeous actors all more or less well cast offering not only skin, but also fine, tongue 'n cheek performances. Enjoyable.
La notte brava (1959)
Excellent movie about ruthless youth
"La Notte Brava" (aka: The Big Night, although it means more something like actually 'The Brave' or 'The Wild Night') is an excellent film, that may be not very well known out of Europe, but it's still considered one of great director Mauro Bolognini's greatest efforts, and a film that generally stands successfully the test of time: Its script is exceptionally cohesive, sad and melancholic, daring and extremely sexually charged, and it comes from a short novel by unforgettable poet, writer and director Pier Paolo Pasolini who wrote the powerful screenplay with irony and passion, along with the French,and,at that time (1959) more experienced, Brost. It's almost impossible to believe this was produced and presented in 1959! It is so wildly modern, and the biting dialog, alienated, yet always seducing and ultimately even romantic atmosphere and situations (happening just during one Roman night facing the economic boom) are always brilliantly intriguing and breathlessly following up one another with great momentum. This is an astonishing ensemble piece, with refined cinematography by Armando Nannuzzi, exquisite costumes and looks by Marcel Escoffier who keeps away from fashion and stays on the character's development following the director's strict structure, sets by Carlo Egidi, and jazzy score by the awesome Piero Piccioni. The cast is so powerful, they all shine, even Mylene Demongeot in a 5 minutes segment manages to remind of Marilyn Monroe who could have also made that character as brilliantly sexy and mysteriously unnerving. The best and most attractive is Laurent Terzieff, Elsa Martinelli and Antonella Lualdi are so modern and gorgeous, while, if Brialy is at times a bit mannered, all others give unforgettable performances. Watch for a young and handsome Tomas Milian as the wealthy rebel without a cause hosting a "Dolce Vita" alike party over this wild night of brave and sad learnings. Great movie.
La madrastra (1974)
Kitsch despite John Moulder-Brown
It was an interesting experience to watch this movie "La Madrastra" aka: Amor Perverso (probably a more appropriate title). I also find interesting that the only other reviewer didn't seem to recognize John Moulder Brown, he's not only the lead as Daniel, but also he seems to bring (very) old fashioned director Roberto Gaveldon constantly "distracted' by the step mother, and, increasingly uniquely interested in Moulder-Brown's handsome features and top model alike body, and presence. Certainly, John Moulder Brown is an actor i have liked always very much: a cult presence in a way, with an off beat career that started when he was a delightful British classic looking child, and, became famous a decade later, when he moved on to teen ager or young leading roles, making some very fine movies such as the classic "Deep End" and Schell's version of Turgenev's "First Love" opposite Dominique Sanda, and the chemistry between the two was somewhat memorable. Now, after such international cult films, Moulder Brown's career perhaps was badly managed, or not so fortunate, because he did get to work again with his "Deep End" director, Jerzy Skolimowski, in the International comedy "King, Queen and Knave" and was sublime in a few supporting roles with directors like Luchino Visconti, Ward Baker, etc. But, by the mid 1970s, aside from some great TV work, his film's roles became sparse, and often ending in embarrassing productions like this grotesque soap opera, about an old wealthy man with fake teeth, who marries a well aged, unattractive prostitute, takes her home, and makes her his new wife, while his son Daniel seems to fall for her from the get go. The older man dies after making love, the widow now does not seem so in love with Moulder Brown, who actually comes back home after a trip to find his stepmother madly in love with another handsome man, an executive who's helping the family business, but, that seems just a boy toy for the older lady. However, the man who's also a painter, will eventually develop a morbid passion for Daniel, constantly portraying him in a myriad of paintings and assaulting him at every time, now madly in love, while Daniel seems indifferent as he lets the man go mad over him and doesn't dislike to be touched or kissed either! When the stepmother finds out, after a scene that could have been better done in "The Bold and the Beautiful" puts the 'morbid relationship' (or it was considered just a friendship? Hard to believe) between the 2 men to an end, while a little later the handsome exec kills himself drowning ironically submerged by paintings of Moulder Brown. Who knows, after all, he (Daniel) was right to make his step mother mad of jealousy, since now the old woman grotesquely is ready to make love with him. Fin. What to say? A curious film, a Mexican and Spanish co-production not horribly shot, well lit and professional, but, truly just grotesque, plagued by a trite and laughable script, and by a phenomenal miscasting. Moulder Brown who does not seem to care a bit about the whole affair, poses constantly, photographed very well in the semi nude, and, making look the step mother even older and out of place than she was for the part. The dialogs are unbelievably funny, the staging, as i said, reminded at its best the one of a pitiful soap, just shot with more of a budget, and some decent exterior work. A regrettable, bad movie, ironically sad in each one of its attempts. But, why an actor like Moulder Brown stars? (The main titles miss all the main cast, that's why the other reviewer didn't probably see Brown's name listed which is instead top billed on the DVD cover) I would have liked to see this remarkable young actor in movies like "The Go-Between" opposite Julie Christie, or with Glenda Jackson, and with other Hollywood stars, or at least in great European movies such those he was making at the beginning of the decade! I have heard those above were all positions he had apparently been planned or considered for, but lost them for different reasons. So, while doing some great stage work, and good TV movies, or mini series, his work on films became limited to such lousy products, only capable to damage the name of the even most gifted young, leading man! Too sad, and too bad for this "Stepmother" vehicle, which, to be quite fair, it should have been called "The step son" since Moulder-Brown not only is the true lead, but also is almost obsessively photographed in the semi nude, basically from beginning to end. And thank God, the movie was rather short! I would give a 3 stars, but i do give a 5 just to the respect i have for this still stunningly great British actor, whose career, again, has been so interesting, but, could have been outstanding with a little more luck, and much better management.
Extremely refined above average TV mini series
This is an outstanding production obviously made with a larger budget than usual, with a fantastic, realistic yet deeply moving script, fascinating period re- construction with top notch technical contributions, and, most of all a director who forgets he's actually working for TV, but imposes his skilled cinematic language with a tone and style that make even more poignant this TV series, truly shot like for a wide screen audience more than for the annoying small screen's cheap restrictions, both formally and visually, making great use of its own excellent dialog, and accurate script supervision that accomplish to deliver a perfect biopic that feels always very involving, as it is timely. Perfectly cast, with many well known faces, perhaps not too many stars, but, indeed an outstanding group of actors who have both 'faces' and acting style to match, and, are all so unarguably capable to give life to this emotionally complex story, all main cast accomplish to be extremely solid throughout, always watchable, believable, and quite unusually unforgettable for the standards of even a larger scale European TV product made with the intents above mentioned. I won't spoil now the human struggle, and timely story of a doctor, at the turn of the 20th Century, always fighting, and searching for the truth, dedicated completely to his incredibly endearing philanthropic endeavors, since in "San Giuseppe: Doctor to the Poor",
instead than telling obviously expected pitiful generic material, an excellent script and direction manage to end up always on a robust ground of unusual, civil, emotional, political, and other mainly unexplored themes, with a clever story telling utilizing at its best a great, but never excessive number of people, faces, lands, sets, subplots, but that most of all, always stays so greatly connected with its own impeccable, universal depiction of more dramatic, and controversial, key social commentary. One could only hope TV movies would all manage to be this profound, this stylish, and good, completely shot with a theatrical, and visible, effortless dedication to the quality of the story, the acting, the narration, while never compromising with false atmospheres, but always sounding and looking great, produced throughout as a wide, International co- production of such higher scale should always be. "Giuseppe Moscati" has never failed for a moment to entertain my family, while to interest me deeply, and then deeper, about a story that I don't believe had been ever told before, or was never told so engrossingly well so skillfully never less than compelling, to say the least!
La donna della domenica (2011)
Obsolete TV version of the great 1970s Classic Giallo
This is truly a disappointing experience : I had often to fast forward since I am a great fan of the Fruttero & Lucentini's novel and of the movie made lavishly in 1970s Turin by an excellent Comencini starring unforgettably classy Marcello Mastroianni, Jean Louis Trintignant, Jacqueline Bisset (at her prime) and delightful Aldo Reggiani as Lello Riviera. Here everything feels all muddled up into something that rarely is watchable, certainly does not have class, nor a strong grip at direction, but exceptionally just manages to land terribly flat on a small screen (small budget feeling) production that is as full of boredom and plot holes as it is full of trite situations, poor character's development. And, excuse me, aside Roberto Zibetti who I must say did well in the Trintignant's role, the cast seems to awfully struggle to give truth and realism to an upper class period context that should have been impeccably told and reconstructed but that lacks style from virtually any angle. I tried to forget- from time to time- the excellent novel and old movie, but in vane! The 1975 perfectly witty, cruel, ironic, and ambiguous movie still feels brand new when you are watching this poorly adapted, loosely written, badly acted, and presented version I highly not recommend seeing to anyone: it is just something you do not wanna be investing any of your time with, something that spoils rather cheaply what was a perfect gem of the Giallo's genre especially so celebrated by its fans who here in the U.S. would be truly 'screaming for murder', but not in the good old way.. If you know what I mean!
Glittering Paprika gets fantastic Blu Ray restoration 25 years later!
Here's a splendid restoration work from the original film's vaults, colorful, lavish, and always sexy, erotic, as only Brass could make movies, a bit art house, extremely stylized, over all infused of that slight sensational sophisticated comedies' feel in perfect 1930s style, yet with wildly turns into graphic and/or erotic story telling that's always (almost) been handled with the talent only Tinto Brass is capable of, and believe it or not, with again, a certain sophisticated eye capable always to 'see' beyond the nudity, and, discovering the souls of his principle cast with some outstanding expressionistic visual style of sort that has been truly Brass' trademark since the beginning of his admirable career: he can manage to make you believe the most uncomfortable circumstances photographed beautifully but also extremely realistically with vivid glares and rapid ironic smiles of provocation, and, staying yet completely free of any judgment, but again, so realistic in the representation of their own depiction, composing at the end quite the piece! Here, thanks to a simple, but clear, and, clever narrative, we have John Cleland's heroine 'Fanny Hill' who becomes a young 'Mimma' (gorgeous to look at Deborah Caprioglio) from Trieste, east of Venice, Italy, an almost under age beautiful Bambie not educated, she is initially naive, badly betrayed by an abusive boyfriend, and, she ends up having no other choice than becoming a prostitute. The film does follow her throughout her own journey and her version of the story that is taking place in prude and puritan 1950s Italy, and, in what seems to be a carefree, endless riot of an existence that does never embitter the now re-named (after a series of fun and powerful make overs) "Paprika", but, actually, she at the contrary seems to make always the best for herself, becoming quite a very sweet, but smart and very sexually skilled young lady, capable also to gain her own respect, and at the right moment also to change her faith for the best, becoming as in a fairy tale, a Countess, with yachts and marvelous huge Villa on Lake Como, while, at the same time, keeping herself intact with her good heart, as she is still managing to gain social influence, power, money (the original 18 years old heir is put back to his place right away), but also helping some ex colleagues and their lives, now harshly facing the streets, and its dangers, after the laws prohibiting brothels in Italy since after 1958, leaving all the workers to despair and apparently without a roof in the merge of worse pimps abusing them! What could have become either the same old, trite tale of the poor demoniac young prostitute, or just a trip into the mere and most exploitative depiction of all sex and morbid curiosity over the vulgar aspects of such hard life now changes drastically direction and flavor with Brass in top form taking the helm with class, also with the help of always exceptional (often Federico Fellini's co-writer, too) screen writer Bernardino Zapponi, who opts to tell the story instead like a wild comedy with great dialogs that truly feels like one of those movies released before the Hollywood code of censorship, by doing so, Brass and Zapponi leave the narration as linear as possible pushing instead the envelope over all the eccentric, and, the truly lavish visuals designed with phenomenal gusto and greatness by Academy award winners art director Bruno Cesari, and production designer Paolo Biagetti, with the help of the almost surrealistic gowns, wonderfully tailored by fantastic costume designer Jost Jakob, and, with an over all general key visual extravaganza highly accomplished with the help of a big budgeted International co-production, but, also by the exquisite use of the colorful palette offered by the sizzling cinematography put together by masters Silvano Ippoliti, and Massimo Di Venanzo. A movie i highly enjoyed watching again, and that i have appreciated being so well re-presented and restored. The supporting cast is here also another treat to look for, composed as it is, by some of the most well known cult Euro actors of the time, all wonderfully placed, composing a myriad of faces, cameos, and little yet very poignant roles, such as John Steiner, Petra Sharback, Nina Soldano, Luca Lionello, Riccardo Garrone, Valentine Demy, Andrea Aureli, Luigi Laezza, Stephane Bonnet, Stephane Ferrara, Elizabeth Kaza, Deborah Cali, Paul Muller, Martine Brochard, Luciana Cirenei, and, last but not least, Domiziano Arcangeli as 18years old Gualtiero who's brought to celebrate his birthday, in the fabulous looking brothel "Gli Specchi" in Milan, by his father, wealthy, eccentric, and wild Count Bastiano Rosasco (burly Renzo Rinaldi, an actor very dear to the late Brass) who later ends up inviting Paprika in high society, and he finally introduces her to his own family disrupted in disbelief when he decides to announce he's to marry her, apparently keeping extremely blasé about the whole social scandal. But, this will end up being at once the originally unique happy ending of a good, gorgeous, young girl who has always been thankful for what life had presented to her no matter what, smiling always like an eternal sunshine, and leaving tears and melodrama out of her (wild) path, mainly never embittered by the circumstances, as she is now rewarded by a twist of fate, when she would end up crossing the line, and by famous young prostitute of elegant brothels, we get to see her toward the end of the picture, transforming yet again and becoming a famed and respected young blue blood Italian countess. A true smash at the time of its release, very successful indeed at the International box offices of that time, this movie holds its own still very well, with its genius and crazy director, fun and light script, lavish sets, and elegant exterior work, its great technical contributions, "Paprika"certainly manages to successfully and glittering appearing almost as a brand new show, just 25 years past its original release!
House of Flesh Mannequins (2009)
Visually hypnotic tale suspended greatly between extreme Horror and Art House
"House of Flesh Mannequins" is a nostalgic homage – and sure amused – that winks at the classic films from the 70's. A movie set that look like a stage (and the film itself is divided in 3 Acts), searched costumes and hairdos, cinematography of Mirco Sgarzi that recalls with personality the atmospheres of the best Fulci and Argento's movie. This is cinema made from who loves the cinema, a movie rich of winks and citations that the most expert (but not only them) will be amused to pick: from Lynch to the surrealism of the 30's, passing trough Fulci and Cronenberg. International porn stars and regular actors working together for the first time with extreme body art performers used in the torture scenes. Everything is real, but at the same time, everything is done for the purpose of creating a movie, which is anything but real. The movie presents a compelling case against the use of gratuitous violence on TV as well as the self-righteous, sanctimonious ways that society chooses to confront children's issues.
I just watched this movie, and, was touched , frankly almost stunned, by Domiziano ARCANGELI's performance : was simply the nature of the character who so compulsive, damaged, broken up, and teared apart by an abusive past he can never leave behind, as if he was almost incapable to shake it off: it is ultimately that morbid perversion that makes eventually the movie itself become such an over all powerful depiction of the pity ( and of its truly provocative means) since it appears to be pretty impossible today for many to detach from that dangerous hidden indulgence we all- in different ways- spend by consuming either P*rn, or violent, forbidden material, or mere mainstream voyeurism, such as Reality TV, a phenomenon, the movie targets very cleverly : if all of a sudden, someone becomes famous and wealthy, maybe, even by just exploiting themselves, and/or their lives, then in that case, some may even be able to get away with murder, while, instead, the really frail, abused ones, not so accepted by most, like Sebastian ( which Domiziano Arcangeli brings here to life, with an almost disturbing realism, power, thanks also to his unusual traits, and deep, mysterious eyes), generally end up paying the bill for most, here meaning in particular, a corrupted, disjointed, and, ultimately so unfair society, that has become increasingly insensitive, and dangerously closed, almost as a perpetual enemy to any form of more personal, genuinely honest consideration over real existential torments, but also, so inconsiderate toward all people who allow themselves to be vulnerable, and, so even simply more human, to the point of poignantly creating such profound, insightful questions over the whole plot of this movie, which ultimately I have found so beautifully poetic, and extremely well made: a real punch in the stomach for most, that doesn't for once feel simply as your typical attempt at scaring audiences with scenes, but, that may be certainly, and by far, some of the most realistically raw, brutal, and shocking piece I have ever even seen before, always keeping a lyrical tone that's sublimate by a great, ground breaking direction from dark Domiziano Cristopharo here delivering controversial or graphic material as in form of a poem, a bit like in Pasolini's "Salo". Irena A. Hoffman is a powerhouse: her performance is just fantastic and her looks are honestly so gorgeous that can melt your heart, while breaking your dreams of being a man. She succeeds to bring to life a new type of 'femme fatales', and, she's gritty and unapologetic. All the rest of the cast is a mix bag of interesting faces from the underground, from pornographic movies, and so called "modified performers" who for real cut themselves in real time and it's raw, visible, absurd, and at the same time, somewhat genius: they all deeply touch the subconscious of those still interested in truly understanding what's between good and evil, and, to those who'd still like to connect with this movie, while, leaving home any sort of moralistic Puritanism, trying instead to embrace its deep story, with empathy, and, human consideration for all of those who suffer while surviving lives way darken than even the above, and, way passed and beyond the edge of those we may be simply more familiar with, and, always asking ourselves not to immediately label them, as simply bad, or atrocious, or just way too far from us, but, again to tune in into a movie that is simply asking us to listen to all: i believe you'd be surprised what a moral lesson "House of Flesh Mannequins" is capable to deliver within its darkest lights and trembling, shaking grip to reach out to our feelings.
Virus X (2010)
It's an impeccable B movie effort : pleasant surprise from Lions Gate
I did thoroughly enjoyed this modest scripted, but well shot, and presented sci-fi thriller : it was fun to watch without too many false pretenses. I read some of those earlier reviews on here: some should be reported . It's (especially in a couple of those above) so obvious that they haven't even given to this well produced effort a chance, but just watched it with judgmental disdain, and a personal hate so obvious that truly gets offensive . Those are what I call trolls, since if you (even would take the time) to just check them out they have a profile that's only reviewed this film, and, in ways that are unbearably silly, and should not be permitted by such a serious site like IMDb. That being said, it is not Academy Award's material, but, I believe someone with a little brain, and class would have figured it out at the premise. It's an average campy, suggestive, and standard sci-fi movie that is as derivative as thousand of others films that have been already made many times before but without deserving such offensive, ludicrous tones: guess one can only pity folks killing themselves with their own self admitted, widely demonstrative ignorance. I can only tell you that I was certainly not expecting much at all, and, that actually a friend almost had to force me to watch this. But, then, I was quickly pleasantly surprised and hooked into it by the slick cinematography, the special effects, the incredible music score composed by Shawn Klement, the good special effects, and over all accurate make up supervision. Sound design was also first class, and, if the script was trite, the direction was very promising, extremely professional, and, obviously savvy focused onto fighting sets that were "arranged" to cover up for some warehouse, or cheap sound stage's labyrinthine claustrophobic sensation and lack of better props. But, thankfully, the obvious was avoided thanks also to the use of extremely poignant angles, and, of some solid filmmaking's style that ends up making a good use resulting for the most part always highly effective, and never depressing, but, as chilling as it is frantically, increasingly harrowing. The climax was good, and there was even an attempt at some character's development: something you can hardly find in much more over hyped productions made with costs that "Virus X" did not have even in the sum of their catering services. However, it's just a shame Lions Gate hasn't put a tiny bit of effort to market this little cult movie with some respect, in order to keep away trolls with serious personal issues, from being almost the only ones to review and trash cowardly some good, decent work, I was at the very end almost shocked to find so professional, and over all, very entertaining. The cast was a mix of fresh faces, all interesting types, not only watchable, but actually for the most part all believing in what they were saying. Sybil Danning was a hoot as the billionaire villain, still looking great, and changing outstanding prime wardrobe in virtually every sequence she appears. Joe Zaso was believable as a shady professor, and, Domiziano Arcangeli's performance was strong, and unique in its own, despite what some may think of an arbitrary choice of look, and appearance: however, again here we are not meant to take things so seriously since he's just playing a robot becoming progressively envious of human feelings! That per se is one thing that could make many laugh just at the idea, but how do we actually know it could be impossible, since "the creature" is a manipulation of a genre's flawed script? He looks great, and makes the most of it, often stealing the show. Again, I might have given a little less positive review if I had been made believe to be watching a major motion picture, made with million of dollars, or an art house cult. But, we know that Grindstone releases normally what is primarily bad filmmaking, picked and offered often without much of an artistic criteria. Nonetheless, they are still way above some SyFy original presentations, and, not even to be compared to those really dreadful products, made by minor studios like the Asylum. And, "Virus X" against all odds, was a true confirmation of their much better intents. Watch for yourself and you won't be disappointed !
Un beau dimanche (2013)
Graceful, accomplished dark romantic psychological drama
It's not mesmerizing at first, but it's certainly one of those formidable and accomplished movies that keep on growing with you. I was slightly upset with a couple of reviews from other readers: obviously anyone is entitled to their opinions but truly how could you say that the two leads are not great? I found both Louise Bourguin and the truly handsome and elegant, classy Pierre Rochefort to be highly commanding of their roles, giving to what lies on the script and to the almost restrained direction of the excellent Nicole Garcia, all the torment, all the despair and the romantic beauty of their protagonists adding with their profoundly affecting performances a lot of insight and mystery that adds up to the apparently simple yet increasingly complex narration a whole new dimension. What would seem to be a delicate, demure portrayal of some isolated, lonely, fascinating misfits during a crucial weekend, starts to unfold romantically first and surprisingly psychologically in the second greater act, as if the storytelling of a personal sadness, the tragedy of loneliness all of a sudden would turn up as evolving, always as elegant, and controlled, as it lays by its extremely refined, and, elaborate script, as an involving mystery thriller, not only so greatly giving a quick, but extremely touching portray of working France today, but, escalating its unexpected terrific climax, so perfectly designing France's boring and corrupted, scandalously detached and unkind upper class, outlining with bitter and frantic realism the story of one of those classic, wealthy, French families depicted with horrifying coldness and real dark tones. To notice here also the extraordinary contribution given to the story from the story main antagonist, a mysterious, enigmatic, still beautifully aged mother who keeps on living while trying to forget the cruelty of her family's rigid faith, sublime in this pivotal role the always extraordinary Dominique Sanda, who's been absent from the screen for at least a decade and has come back with a fantastic if perhaps overlooked screen role. Also, Deborah Francois as the hypocrite sister designs with a virtuoso performance a role filled with conformism, and, tormenting frustrations. Altogether a wonderfully accomplished, written, photographed, produced and directed film that reminds us always of at what high standards French Cinema stands sovereign today, presenting even, what could have been a much more simple romantic drama, with deeply insightful, and, darkly mysterious tones, providing realistic social commentary, and, sublime character's development, rapidly contributing to an always tense and entertaining narrative that is also always cinematic, a it never gets sappy nor drawn or obsolete, as many American movies can so easily be today, but, manages to stay realistically appointed, avoiding melodrama, with its excellent production value, and a never less than compelling, increasingly satisfying atmosphere, which is a true gift to an emblematic tale of love and loss, while also clearly advocating a more adult way to cope while learning of letting go of what is so hostile, and, dangerously indifferent to someone's individuality, and sensibility . I deeply enjoyed, and highly recommend this wonderfully shot and brilliantly scripted and acted movie!
Il segno del comando (1992)
A great intriguing novel directed by great Giulio Questi
I really enjoyed having the opportunity to watch this compelling TV mini series by the famous, dark, almost Gothic novel: it was over all an awesome, big budgeted production, elegantly designed, and, filmed, with stunning art direction, gorgeous period costumes, and, a truly lush widescreen cinematography, helped by a director like Giulio Questi, who's another one of those Italian directors of cult from the 1960's who's been finally re- discovered and awarded with the right respect for his always innovative, strongly skilled and heartfelt work, capable to shift from erotic thrillers, such as his cult gem from 1968 "Death Laid an Egg", extraordinary, above average, artistic 'Giallo'rr starring stars such as Gina Lollobrigida, Eva Awlin & Jean Louis Trintignant at their best, to some real noticeable spaghetti westerns, to art films, and series TV that always had enormous integrity and respect for his extremely handsome cinematic style. And, sadly, that's probably why, I have read often, he didn't get a more mainstream and prolific career! A bit like other extremely talented but authorial, first rate genre directors (Luigi Bazzoni also comes to mind!) he had a very hard time dealing with the producers of the time who apparently did not appreciate over all substantial (and not cheap to produce) film's quality, visual virtuoso's or elaborate and ground breaking, controversial story telling . I can only imagine how much effort he had to put into one major production like this one, made for international televisions, and cable, and, conceived for very mainstream prime time audiences. His enigmatic,mysterious, brooding tone is always enormously present, even here, though, thankfully adding a much thicker consistence to the re-telling of a story that could have been executed blandly, and, mostly conventionally. But, apparently, at the time, not many approved of his evident strenuous work, in order to create this much more daring, and, darker portrait than what was then expected, generally in this kind of high end European mini TV series.Only more sophisticated audiences were fond of such narration and direction, others found the final result too weird for their taste. Ultimately, this one, along with "Death Laid an Egg" especially, but other great movies, directed by Questi, as well, was much more vastly appreciated, and now, has reached a more established cult status. I believe, however, that Questi did a truly excellent job while keeping the narrative a little more linear than usual, and, instead, bringing more visual excellence, to the aesthetic of the images, and atmospheres, while outlining a number of excellent performances by a cast of well known actors, here all finding a more exclusive chance to show their talent, and, empower edgier than usual personalities, pushed obviously by the director, toward achieving a much more in depth, and, harrowing climax, enhancing their lovely faces with a surprisingly successful use of artsy angles, and, a beautiful use of an often almost Gothic lighting. Thrilling, and wildly provocative, this awesome rendition is highly recommended to all, but, especially, to those more "sensitive" to a certain stylish filmmaking more typical in art houses entertainment, or true cult movies. But, at the same time,I have to share one last thought: I personally found this cinematic adaptation of the famed novel as actually way more thrilling, and, twisted than usual, conveying an unexpected escalation of suspense, that for as always extremely passionate, and, romantically decadent, as it is, it made at the end for an intriguing and seductive view, bringing true enjoyment to the experience, and, not only matching, but, I would even say, placing itself, way above my more enthusiastic expectations.
Isabella la ladra (1989)
Greatly cinematic mini TV series
This was an excellent, extremely handsome piece, a big budgeted co- production, filmed as a mini TV - series for its length, in order to give to the plot and all formidable sub plots of the text a much more and truly well deserved more articulate development,however, due to its quality and especially, to the fantastic direction of great Italian auteur, Franco Giraldi, well known for his finesse and attention to detail, this has pretty much more the feeling of a true motion picture of outstanding level, and never of a television's mini series,often garnished with an excessive, soapy storytelling, and a virtual absence of personal filmmaking! We are introduced to a gripping, and, bittersweet story, extremely focused to its female leads, and their lifestyles, and life paths, taking place in an often unforgiving, and moralistic, unequal society, dominated by men, who are here often instead hilariously manipulated by the genteel sex: if the screen adaptation was extremely well written, and produced, visually stunning, and, so splendidly photographed, easy to the eyes thanks to the always amazing standards of production design, set decorations, and period's costumes, it is mainly so successful, for the right tone, and, at the same time, for the insightful, glamorous irony of a script, which results ultimately, not only highly entertaining, but, also extremely beneficial to the means of its wildly amusing morals, and, to the comedic's consequences of the stylized segments, composing a vivid period farce, that manages to come across, both as controversial, and realistic, as it is always solid, and, ringing true, with impeccable dialogue, and, a complex, and, impressive look at the inside of the dynamic's of the 'roles', the lies, the broken dreams, and, feelings of our modern times, that, the clever outline marks with its decadent perception of the importance of relationships, always staged with an honest, and, convincing style, making, at the end, a winner of this production, also for its ability to bring back, gloriously, the old comedy of manners, with all the games, and, sophistication, but, mostly with the sharp authenticity of this excellent screenplay, an higher profile adaptation of Diego Fabbri's hit "La Bugiarda", the famous play, which had been already filmed in an earlier, but, not as satisfying version, in 1965, by Luigi Comencini, and, then starring Catherine Spaak. This late 1980's, lavish version is far superior, and improved, while beautifully presented, and, extremely well acted by an International, great cast, delivering fierce, and rad, always pitch perfect, performances. Absolutely recommended, and, to be re-discovered: there's so much junk made available and restored these days, you guess why winning filmmaking of such much higher level, and importance, it is instead so sadly difficult to find, especially if you don't live in Europe!
Celebrity Sex Tape (2012)
Another muddled awful Asylum's embarrassment
Not much to say about this truly : run , avoid, don't buy and don't even think to expect some shock value from this other watered down, Asylum almost fake movie! Why a fake movie? Because this little Studio is dreadfully unprofessional: They keep on using unexperienced people in order to put on the market ( and God only knows how!) a stream of non movies , just a bunch of assembled scenes terribly cast, badly written and worse filmed while using titillating covers to market these sad disasters as guilty pleasures type of movies, but they aren't even bad, at the end , and that is if you will ever even make it nearly there, you will be left only with that bitter guilt feeling of having spent your money and time, trying to uselessly make sense of the trite garbage they do present you with and nothing else but a sense of frustration could just make your night even a worse missed opportunity! I truly resent any type of explicatively bad filmmaking, but, I love all genre and cult movies, here there is just nothing like it, just a pretense, some sort of scam, and it's time to say no to it! My opinion : wanna try it and watch it for yourself? Go ahead! Don't forget i had warned you!
Incontri in case private (1988)
Another quite great, but late Spanish/Italian Giallo, using refined erotica as main key!
Loved every single minute of this quite contrived, but beautifully shot on lush and gorgeous locations and sets truly old school Giallo, produced with a more than decent budget and always shot with admirable taste, and a true classy professionalism! Maybe i wasn't expecting too much, despite the excellent cast lined up, which, by the way, i am hoping now IMDb will update! If the story is really intense and bedazzling, it is certainly because of the many plot holes, or because of many, and, recurring key moments, just completely (and, seemingly) very voluntarily, left in the dark, But, that makes it all actually way more mysterious, weird, and, at some point really haunting you, until the very unexpected, and honestly very dark, and rather sick double twisted ending. The film's at points (this is for all those who are not fans, nor familiar with this fantastic genre, since, for us who are accustomed to it, this all works quite to perfection, making us even a bit shocked at times by incredibly savvy explosions of gore, just when you thought the action was about to drag a bit, or maybe to just become a tiny tad too complex to even try to bother to analyze it, at once! Of course, the generous amounts of (extremely classy, but kinky) soft core also helps the entertainment, along with the cool and jazzy, catchy score of Bacalov, who composed stylishly, just about 15 or more years later the original ones were made, a truly chilling theme! And, so.. it all works, and, cannot be surprised this one actually quite did very well in Europe everywhere when it opened in 1989. Times had changed, and "Basic Instinct" was just about to be made, while even in the States, believe it or not, thrillers were becoming very erotic and enigmatic (think Angel Heart or Final Analysis), while in Europe, back in the 1980;s a whole new wave of sophisticated, but also shocking erotica was basically ruling at the box office, with great directors like Tinto Brass and Bigas Luna, producing some of their best and most scandalous work to date! The women were also all very beautiful, and, i loved that the film didn't have much at all any of that cheesy '80's look, but, actually, was presented in a very condensed, and tense atmosphere, so more properly generated by Fulci or Lenzi,'s and Martino's original late 1960's, mid 1970's classic's, than, instead, trying uselessly way too hard, as seen in so many other tragic cases, a way too updated 1980's campy look. The actors were all so well cast, i couldn't have wanted to change anyone, even some of the gorgeous girls whose acting was, at times lacking strength.. perhaps they were all so sexy, and gorgeously dressed, and undressed, that you just did not even had the time to notice! All the rest, was truly top notch quality, and, for me, a huge surprise coming from director Andrea Bianchi, who here, for me, fares well, and, i wanna say better than even in his little 1970's cult "Strip Nude for your Killer!" A lot better in my opinion, delivering a classic Giallo that ends up lingering with you, afterward, asking you a few disturbing questions, but, also leaving you completely satisfied, and, truly in pure Giallo's glory, and with a provocative, rabid, underlining sexuality! Note: also that this movie for sexual situations of extreme nature, full frontal nudity, and general profanity, topped off with some very disturbing feelings this flick can easily bring up, it should not be seen by anyone below 18, even though if accompanied, i mean! All the others, please, buck up tight your seat belts..its gonna be 1 Hell of a night, let me tell you!!
Blood of Redemption (2013)
Boring, badly directed and acted, B's 1980's feel!
Why even bothering on lashing out here? I personally have respect for many of the cast members here! But, honestly, while Dolph Lundgren should try to have faith and wait for a real director to hire him, and shows off his true cinematic strengths, Vinnie Jones perhaps should stop to sign on films just for the pay check, or maybe, any other decent filmmaker may start ( rightly so) thinking the man has a serious low self esteem problem by appearing in such low grade content, and in roles that don't even have much of a redeeming reason! What else is to be said, other than this movie (despite its IMDb's higher rating) is way, way more of a waste than Hard Rush aka Ambushed, where, at least, you felt a bit of that 1970's exploitation films genre biting your adrenaline, while a more stylized visual style, could make you even believe, at times, to be more in mainstream territory! This one truly just feels cheap, uninteresting, choppy, arguably unbelievable, and, completely soapy! And, quite frankly, even though, it might remain remarkable, as a movie, as the sad mark of some of the main actors lowest point in bad screen acting, I still say that could not make enough of a reason to watch such pedestrian fiasco! I personally couldn't help myself all the way through the end ( rare!). What a disappointment! And, if you think, coming from a once respectable Film Company, such as Voltage! You could not believe your eyes! Take it or leave it? Best to forget.
Age of Dinosaurs (2013)
Asylum the new mark for beyond trash : still they make movies?e
Had to sit through this for a bit since some friends wanted to get silly! At the end we were depressed and sorry, very sorry, and for a bunch of all different motives, curiously enough! Well, I was sad ( beside the point that Asylum is still making Z grade pictures and still going strong, how/why? ) to see a truly aged and uninspired, almost desperate looking, Treat Williams once and not too long ago, a star capable of exemplary, and even though at times underrated formidable performances ( think Milos Forman's strong "Hair" and Sidney Lumet's very, very good "The Prince of the City" and many more always at least respectable International films, where the actor always would bring his raw manliness and, never less than compelling talent!) while here he's practically deconstructed, abused, and badly photographed in a way that is indecent and almost moving and unnerving at the same time: his material is again Z grade but there are actors able to convey some to such inexplicable products ! Not Mr. Williams and certainly not, all the rest of this embarrassingly amateurish, poorly directed cast, typical faces of the shady D to Z Grade Hollywood's film industry sad underground belly. What to make of this? I don't know, I just know that nobody made it to the end , and , we strictly avoided even just talking or making a joke about such sad experience for the whole rest of the evening, as if it hadn't been enough of a nuisance, and so horribly jeopardized by just such a low, lowest general level, something I could only define like a caricature of a bad movie, really I could not call this even some cheap little show, more like a misfire of very sad and timely proportions! Everything was beyond unacceptable, even the lousy Cgi, and, I'd rather not say about the writing, and, directing, lensing, and sets, because it could get way too bitter and offensive! Best to laid them all to rest in the shelve of time holding the forgotten crap made in Films, and also with a true hope: that is that sooner than later, Asylum successfully will abandon this miserable and excruciating failure in filmmaking ( even that of bad filmmaking!) and, all of a sudden, embrace a new business, maybe in the butchery or debauchery jamboree of much lighter weight fare,something carrying way lower more manageable by them responsibilities and eyes, intents and education they obviously so awfully lack of in this Industry! Maybe, even more engagingly remunerative since it would appear these budgets are always so laughably spent! I don't see one reeding quality here, just one: stay away from this garbage, please !!! Stop making such bad movies please .. It starts feeling like more of a criminal intent than an exercise in ( really bad) entertaining ! And even for a movie with this lame title : and that my friends is saying something! Ugh!
Quantum Apocalypse (2010)
The real Apocalypse was sadly just.. the movie!
Sometime I wonder what investors and Studio Exec's feel after watching "such products" which I couldn't even truly name movies, just as a sign of basic, humble respect I still hold, within my mind and heart, to a real motion picture! I wonder how badly administrated and chaotic SyFy can be at this point to even accept to show such garbage when there would be instead so many other products with no real distribution, or just so many more talented filmmaker's, writers, actors, and producers to just employ and put to serious work, all folks who would probably work hard both their brains, and their guts, to deliver, even on a shoe string budget, something at least watchable, or stylish, or just made with some sense, and, enthusiasm, the even modest yet admirable result of some innovative or even derivative ideas, that one way or another, would make for some kind of a show, featuring ( and why not?) true acting, a script that you could call at least an effort to make you laugh, or chill, or wonder during one of those cozy, boring, and long rainy afternoon's, maybe even held together by some sort of professional direction! Too much to ask? Apparently, yes! Way too much to ask these days!! Why is this happening? I don't know.. I can sadly tell you that it is all so offensive, detrimental, and even juvenile, it might just be obviously destroying any reputation left to that once golden Hollywood's industry, made mainly of creative, and prepared artisans, crafting always decent, to even very good B movies/ Genre films, that would entertain with wit, with tongue in cheek's subjects, and characters, at times even producing a few unforgettable cult classic's! This seems to me almost like some sort of weird manipulation against true great Genre Cinema, that, believe, it or not, folks, again, it could be so much fun, and so much clever, than such muddled, awfully executed, sinister, and shamefully written, produced, and performed ..Rubbish, such as this one! Please avoid!
The Ghostmaker (2012)
Well crafted , chilling, well acted supernatural thriller
First off, I don't know from where all these nasty criticism about low budget's feelings are coming from: if you wouldn't be thinking about it .. You would not notice it, at all, since the story is deeply involving and the movie does not miss anything especially when it comes to deliver some chills with a more sinister and realistic explanation: even this later one, it has been my favorite part! But so many critics have hammered it down, and, it's quite a shame, especially when going down heavy on Domiziano Arcangeli's otherwise intense, enigmatic acting going to give life to a one of a kind sexy drug dealer in despair, a true excellent characterization in my opinion, that provides so, not only some of the more heartfelt and darkest aspects of the story itself, but, that, at the same time, also gives to this film it's more timely and gritty motive. It's a pity that, here in the States, all reviewers almost have harshly criticized one of the best parts of the film itself , while in fact, in Europe, it's been ( and rightly so) one of the most appreciated parts! I don't mean to say that this film lacks in the special effects department either, which are all mainly top notch , but that at times would risk to make the movie just looks simply a bit too "teen", lacking the depth it's instead so often trying to convey as well! Hard to believe, apparently in the States, we are just a big bunch of kids only wanting to see WB's style acting and directing, with no inventions, nor links to reality, especially when it comes to Horror! I instead very much appreciated the 2 rather organic points of view dividing a morbid story that as presented is way more adult, and accomplished than most U.S. reviewers would have apparently instead liked so much better: and so, another boring movie with the same usual supernatural clichés, and nothing else! Fortunately, instead this one can especially relate on the most emotional, and realistic parts which are all shot and performed with a vigor rare to be seen in standard Lions Gate's or common Genre's releases!
Stylish delightful sushi western cult
And man, doesn't my title say enough per se? A very gratifying experience and OK maybe not a movie for everyone, since you must love and understand Martial arts action films here, to really be a fan! However there's plenty of something else too: from a cinematography rocking some of the wisest most cinematic scenes to date and not just your usual average cable film way too filled of unnecessary tacky close up's, this opts immediately for that almost Super Panavision or Cinema Scope look that brings you back immediately to that long forgotten visionary and virtuoso images composition truly worthy of some true cult predecessor's such us (clearly) Corbucci's miraculous "The Great Silence" or even I would dare saying some Sergio Leone's perfection! The score also is pretty damn fun although I would have personally enjoyed more a more distinctive homage to Ennio Morricone's masterful works of the 1960's! If some of the story is even too contrived to be narrated there's a brilliant true Tarantino's feel, especially in all the scenes with exceptional actor Domiziano Arcangeli as villain Nathan Flesher, who truly steals the show here making of your stereotypical villain something way more complex and profound and with eyes that do owe the same intensity of a Terence Stamp during the days while ironically playing all the weaker spots with a glacial, surprising Klaus Kinski class act of rare enigmatic charisma: Arcangeli is one of those actors who truly grew up in Europe making some of the later classic's of the hey days, when a boy, and that today, instead as a mature rugged sinister and yet somewhat disturbingly sexy man works a lot , but, for me so deliriously employed in way too many flicks unworthy of an extraordinary, natural presence and film's star charisma, that when given an opportunity, makes him shine and sustain every thing he does with uncommon depth and some serious virtues! I saw him playing completely diverse roles always mainly becoming one of the truly unforgettable parts of the movie is in! Hoping that the stubborn blindness of certain ugly producers or casting directors -who seem way too often so busy to employ just always those same boring actors all looking like bank clerks sporting classic soap passable looks and deliveries- finally more often give instead back to the movie such outstanding and enigmatic performers bring to their characters, as he does here with Flesher, i will have also to note that another formidable real presence such as Amanda Plummer, manage to do the same with minimal if wild screen time, making of a cameo something also quite unique and innovative here, wiry and psychotic and true carrying material nobody else could with such nonchalant bravura! All the Asian actors were phenomenal, even though I must honestly say that I prefer Mr.Mitsutake as a cult and wildly imaginative, prepared director than as my lead ( scorned) man and by far! The Drifter played with the young Eastwood's appropriately hunky look, is instead not enough of an actor to carry such weight with any convincing energy or wit! While a note must go to other 2 minor but key characters, the truck driver exceptionally played by a young actor I would also Enjoy to see more often and by the brave understated but quite remarkable performance delivered by Megan Hallin as the lone wolf truly tragically murdered wife in some of the most shocking and most accomplished sequences of this original, roller coaster of a movie and involving of course Flesher and his men, in some particularly cruel and truly hard to watch moments of high tension, extreme and sick, morbid sexuality and all together a true despair and degradation so effective at least ( and if You can get to behold them without feeling almost and truly unexpectedly brutalized as I did with some remorse!) to set up the story for such a strong powerful start able eventually to justify the still bloody but way less realistic and more grind house playful segments truly colorful and able to ensure plenty of wilder enthralling entertainment to virtually all audiences, and not just those strictly of the most hard core and not always so brilliant Martial Arts main theme! I don't and won't even be able to tell a third of this carnival filled with hot topless and deceitful bimbos a go-go, sexy dark ladies whom beside moral codes and exploitative nudity, will surprise anyone by becoming witches of a carnal and sickening evil, cowboys providing action like truly as seen from a real Spaghetti western, and dark dangerous zombies, lost dead ghost cities with secrets that need an ironic off screen narration in order to be understood , before arriving to one of the most gore galore's truculent finale's ( with explanations) I have seen in a very long time! And here a praise also for all the A list SFX department truly right on! An "incredible" film? Maybe. But here we are talking mostly of that "incredible " that makes for real insane and fun movie magic, and not just an exercise in violence or worse an another today's sad amateur attempt to recreate a classic cult Film! Here there is a huge and highly professional accomplishment in a movie that needs to become ( and despite all of the well deserved Awards already Internationally won!) way more popular and celebrated along with some of its wonderful main cast and amazingly skillful director! Don't miss this gem! Just bare with the excessive violence of some moments : it will be well worth it at the very end ! And, what about a sequel maybe?
A really bad attempt at directing with a convincing tone
Wasn't expecting a true masterpiece, but having taken a serious look at the cast, premise, and looks of this one, thought was gonna maybe get by the lucky film noir/thriller/murder mystery/ action genre, and, possibly get to delight myself with some sort of little gem, maybe even a cult film! Man, was i wrong? First off, the disappointment to realize that all the great genre actors i was looking forward to see in action were in just for few minutes, and, in mostly contrived roles: Dolph Lundgren looked rather stiff here, and obviously, looking like, as if he was not even completely well aware of the dreary script, and, Vinnie Jones was real bored, you could tell he was just there for the check, then, even other people like William McNamara, or Domiziano Arcangeli were badly used, and of mere, if any service, sadly. Randy Couture is more in the movie, but, maybe the role wasn't completely developed, or the footage wasn't even enough to cover anything else other than some slick, yet very shaky images of trivial violence, with wild panoramic's on actors falling dead cold in absurd, and unexplained circumstances, and, in any case he just appeared mostly disoriented, and without a real motive other than playing a sexy villain. The movie has a very poor story, made of that pulp fiction, that is not stylish or cool, but, just heavily insisted without significance, becoming a sum up of glossy, yet very gratuitous shots, framed over banal vulgarity, and some true exploitative nudity like in some of those Italian "policemen vs. gangsters" C grade flicks from the 1970's, but, without Fernando De Leo, instead, almost feeling, as if it had been filmed a decade later, with that annoying video clip's gloss, so stereotypical of late 1980's, early 1990's US most conventional action's shockers. There are 2-vaguely- main characters, however, the actors playing those parts are unfortunately quite bland, and, not all that interesting to watch for one thing, even though, one should say that they seemed to work hard to make sense of such a cheap mess, at least! All together this is basically just a very ambitious movie, completely gone awry, and, wasted, forgettable, badly directed, and paced: just some bad B movie, a bust! It is primarily truly missing indeed all of those (possible,perhaps?) opportunities, by under utilizing somewhat of a cult cast, while, instead going straight to the old cable standards, and just bringing down rotten, and all broken up, what could have (maybe) been initially a way more intriguing type of hard boiled idea, if it had been of course rightly developed, and, staged with a really more pertinent focus, since what you read about the story is again unfortunately way more promising than the ultimately very disappointing, almost total nonsense, "delivered" plot by this contrived final product! I know if i had gone to the theaters, i would have asked for my money back. Literally!
The Legend of Bloody Jack (2007)
So bad it hurts!
This is not even a movie: in fact it is not even Cinema! It is just a badly filmed, poorly staged, even more poorly produced, and "acted" ugly piece of pure, shabby boredom, at it's finest and saddest representation! No, I don't want to be mean! But enough is enough! And I must warn others! I go to Film Festivals, and, see plenty of films better, way more deserving (under any single perspective) than this hard to digest, atrocity, but, believe it or not, some of those never come out! You'd be surprised, not even the real promising, ground breaking ones, at times! However, quite punctually, crappy, amateur, demented stuff, obviously made without any caring, nor the even thinnest consideration for an audience, such as this shameful advertisement against B Genre movies (that is probably its only regrettable "achievement": keeping people away from the Genre, that is!!) does get a decent DVD run! I can only tell you that I am famous to watch pretty much everything, even the unwatchable, and, that I always find ways to enjoy cult films ! But, this marooning experience into a shameful lack of any entertaining elements, was way too dreadful and insulting, even for me! I honestly just couldn't finish it!! I gave it 33 of the most painful, miserable minutes ever spent, then I got angered, realizing I was just forcing myself to watch... or better, to witness, perhaps, some of the lowest grade attempts into badly trying, without ever succeeding, to pass an assemblage of utmost uninteresting, muddled material, that felt as if it were the lamest possible result, coming out by writing a couple of lurid vignettes, while, staging them afterward, as if you had to punk some nasty old uncle, and, all together vaguely resembling some of the worst acted nightmare of a play, performed at the Auburn, Alabama's public High School, but in one of those really jinxed years, when the students were so inept to result almost like a frantic bunch of idiots, trying to get the hell away of their misery! When I finally turned it off, I had to chill, a few moments, and then spent the night, just trying hard to forget the whole damn experience! Brutalizing! And, again.. not the plot ( and what plot, anyway?), brutalizing I would call the feeling I have got once more when watching such stupidity , a feeling someone is most likely to get inevitably, when clearly understanding, that he's been just finely ripped off of his money! Then, of course, I saw that the Asylum was involved: hey! Mea Culpa! Should have known better...
Fools of Fortune (1990)
Very serious, political drama, slick but realistic:great Christie!
Another underrated, little masterpiece, or, at least, gem, if you would, from a great, and, then, even young, and, hip, greatly promising new International auteur, Pat O'Connor, this "Fools for Fortune" (misleading title, perhaps!) is one one of those great movies, made with rather substantial budgets, and, on gorgeous sets and locations, with attention to details, and, featuring an exceptional, and, greatly affecting (real) story, narrated with a crisp, and very personal, emotional, rather visionary stylistic eye, from its great director, failed at the time to receive adequate attention or any particular success, especially in the US! And, this again, also despite featuring great performances, from the 3 main leads, in order of their importance to this story, a great Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio (gorgeous, and, actually very believable, in a role, not exactly so suitable to her original background, and, who was also at the peak of her film's career, back then!), and, the always commanding , and, then also very hot Iain Glen, in one of his few main leading man's roles, and, also, last, but, certainly not least, even showcasing a real treat, offering, that is, an always formidable appearance, from an International, magnetic star, and, a true timeless icon, such as, the great Julie Christie! Yes, the movie may be harsh, melancholic, unforgiving, at times, even difficult to digest, since there's throughout a very heavy sense of grief, and decadence: the often affecting path of a solid family told in retrospective, like almost slowly, and painfully meditating over its ruins, its failed potentials, all doomed by causes that are external, and, not controllable by any of the members, even though, perhaps, at the very end, a new beginning, brought by a necessary new vision, and, wisdom, could finally bring some light, after all the darkness of those many years spent almost like struggling with a never ending, impossible "wall", and with its unfair politics, that are always way too big, than anything or anyone else involved with it! Nonetheless, this family, also because of their culture, and, sensibility, would always manage to keep its chin up, in fact, their integrity is, at the very end, what, of course, matters the most to the accomplishment of this great, and, at the same time, subtle, realistic period drama! So, that is also why, even though this was shot with a great style, and, certainly a solid budget, and, with always exceptional, technical contributes, including an impressive wide screen Panavision lensing, it still may not be one of those films, suitable for all audiences. Nor it wanted to be, i don't believe! It is rather one of those director's movies, made at a time, when a celebrated auteur had still rights to express his vision, and, even when depicting a quite larger scale type of family's saga! I won't even bother to describe the rather insightful, always heartfelt narration, and, its piercing story, because i feel it should be just watched, instead, and, understood, and, powerfully felt under your skin, since this is not Cinema of appearances, of surfaces, but, rather, a potent meditation over how political events, and, grief can affect the faith of a very wealthy, and, once happier, but blind folded family, and, on how the roots of madness (in the Julie Christie's character, here again, extremely potent) can predict disaster. Despite its perfect period reconstruction, its glossy cinematography, and, even a little too Hollywood alike music score, this movie still keeps its momentum intact, and, doesn't age, or loose any power, when seen almost 24 years later, after its original opening! It is for me completely passing the rather strict test of time! It was a powerful, and unique, large scale personal movie then, as much as it is now, still, but, it sadly reminds us all, beside its affecting, deeply tragic story, also, another upsetting dynamic: how, sometime, even in major International celebrated Cinema, great directors, like the Irish Pat O'Connor ( "Cal", made in 1981, with Helen Mirren, was also rather exceptional, revealing, and, for all the right reasons, its author, as one of the most interesting, and, upcoming, notable directors of his generation, while causing almost a stir, at the Cannes Film Festival of the same year, however, O'Connor hasn't been working in the right direction, or as steady, in way too many years, now!), or even how, exceptionally gifted actors like the gorgeous Mastrantonio, and the penetrating Iain Glein, with his strong, ambiguous glare, sadly have been almost forgotten in more recent years, or not used in films, as much as they could have, and should have been, instead! Thankfully, at least, the exceptional presence of Julie Christie still contributes today with her highly respected, well known name, and, always more rare, everlasting beauty, fame, and, intense acting, of course, one of the most recognizable, and solid assets, of this rather important, and prominent production, hopefully granting to the film, more visibility, at least, on cable and TV re-runs!
Il fuggiasco (2003)
Badly written, and, even worse directed: a truly missed opportunity
This was truly a real bore, and, a disappointment from beginning to end! While it could have had incredible elements, and dramatic structural premises, if they had been developed with a way more heartfelt insight, and, a way more personal style, or just even a mere standard professional job from the directors and writers, that just kept on slowly destroy any of the brilliant social, and historical revelations, this puzzling story had to -supposedly- slowly reveal, instead, during in its uncanny journey! But, this unfortunate movie, and, its out of luck filmmakers just opted out from the get go, to abruptly pursue a very cheap, amateur alike narrative, switching way too frantically from one chapter to the next, with only one achievement, ironically, creating a dreadful pace, while badly serving an utterly confusing little plot, they ended up to truly destroy, along with also all the main cast performances, as well (Daniele Liotti, as the protagonist, seems involved, and, he's handsome, and always watchable, however the lack of a script, and, of a more inspired direction kill his grace, and, intensity, reducing his work to just another flat stereotype), while, on the very surface, some potentially interesting, and pivotal characters, are embarrassingly cut short, without any sense of film's logics, and basic filmmaking, and, even here, just managing sadly to reduce some famed International actors (like the always attractive, and, mysteriously dark, Gabrielle Lazure) to nothing, or even worse, to a few misplaced professionals desperately trying to save a few realistic appearances, all ending up, instead, as featured extras, that not only don't add up, but just unfortunately create even more confusion within this convoluted, and, always so badly staged mess! This movie is so anonymously re-telling a (supposedly) real story of peculiar interest, that had actually began in the wealthy North Italy of the mid 1970's, always provoking a lot of press, and, complex, and, unanswered, controversial questions over the truth of an horrific tale about a tragic murder, and the fatal errors that followed over a badly suppressed police investigation (supposedly mined by political interests) that had kept many wondering until its unexpected, and, quite emblematic conclusion, that here gets just so badly and cheaply fragmented to result almost laughable! A truly pedestrian attempt to create an original, and, even International thriller of powerful social commentary, here just filmed without an adequate budget, indeed, but, most of all, without any care, any talent, or motive to even exist. A complete waste for me! Since it actually creates huge narrative plot holes, and, degrades good actors with its bad dialog, and complete lack of attention for style or insight, both visually and narratively, managing only to reduce an Italian story of highly political, and individual parameters to a little embarrassingly rushed TV- enactment look-alike (even some of those are made better than this!). What a pity!
Poco a poco (1980)
Solid "Giallo", tense, moving, with a great Teresa Ann Savoy!
This was a great surprise! A real fantastic, mysterious, and, even moving Giallo, with so many twists and incredible insight! There was also a very stylish score, magnificent sets and costumes, and, all together a really interesting, profound almost atmosphere! Not so much gore here, or anything like it, more of a "Family" version of the classic "Gialli's" however high tension and great direction always on the spot! Another wonderful element consisted in watching truly well developed characters and performances, with a particular note to the fantastic, enigmatic, gorgeous Teresa Ann Savoy (of "Salon Kitty" and "Caligula") here definitely proving some serious acting skills and a notable star presence! A true delight, i am so glad they rediscovered and re-mastered and re-presented in a good DVD format in Europe! Very good!
Die Ringe des Saturn (1992)
Excellent, slick sci-fi movie with thrilling and dark tones
Another excellent product from European TV early 1990's. Great script, tight and always very fluid, believable dialogs, excellent camera work in a wide screen that lets often think this was probably even distributed in Cinemas or was meant to be in some Countries, at least. Mainly a co-production between 2 of the most powerful networks respectively from Germany and Italy, this 2 parts film was shot on wonderful, very well filmed locations mainly in ultra modern Berlin, lovely Salzburg and sunny Rome, Italy. The story is intricate: a mix of a spy story Cold War style, with a thrilling, quasi Giallo scenario, and, many supernatural events that perhaps are not all supernatural at the end. This was definitely made with a big budget, looking at the International Markets, and, I remember it appeared in HBO in the mid 1990's in the US. Again, i am not gonna go over the long, sinister, gripping story, where everything happens in a very close future (a big shout out to costume designers, make up artists, and, especially, production designer here, for making it all look very believable, and, never campy!). An extremely entertaining product, but, clever, and, with a very precise and distinctive style, something that we have lost in TV today, the only other one i would say could definitely stay next to, if not even go above this one, is the splendid "Karaoke" also from the mid 1990's and produced in the UK by BBC1 starring among others the legends Albert Finney and Julie Christie, in one of their very rare TV appearances. But, while the extraordinary Karaoke was almost bleak and Orwellian, with a touch of "Children of Men", this one even though extremely chilling, is always shot or set in particularly wonderful exteriors or lush interiors, and, all together, it appears at the end, even more mainstream! Always solidly directed and with an excellent International cast, rich of very well known faces: from the magnificent Hans Christian Blech, to the always intense and then still extremely seductive, Mathieu Carriere, a very distinguished and calibrated actor, while both Domiziano Arcangeli and Lara Wendel, then both extremely young, play against type roles with tremendous skills that even improve one very convoluted segment of the plot. Overall, excellent! I only wish SyFy or even Fox TV would make a mini series or even a movie so well done and never less than compelling!