Archive for March, 2007

The Perfect Crime (El Crimen Ferpecto)

March 17, 2007

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The fact that filmmaker Alex de la Iglesia has yet to become one of the hottest directors in the world remains one of cinema’s great mysteries. In Spain, de la Iglesia has steadily built a cult following since making the transition from cartoonist to filmmaker over fifteen years ago. But here in the United States, the only two films of the director’s that have managed to gather any sort of following have been Acción Mutante (a.k.a. Mutant Action) and El Día de la Bestia (a.k.a. The Day of the Beast), and neither film has managed to catapult de la Iglesia to the ranks of directors like Guillermo del Toro or Peter Jackson, which is where he belongs. In 2005 de la Iglesia’s El Crimen Ferpecto (a.k.a. The Perfect Crime, or The Ferpect Crime–depending on who you ask), made its way across the U.S. playing film festivals and arthouses, bringing the promise of the director finally being “discovered.” Unfortunately, the film never found the success it richly deserved, and the result was that one of the best–if not the best–comedies of that year went largely unseen.Inspired to a large extent by director Roger Corman’s 1964 adaptation of Edgar Allen Poe’s Masque of the Red Death, The Perfect Crime is a brilliant comedy that firmly establishes de la Iglesia as one of the brightest directors working in film. It is both a stunning visual masterpiece, thanks in no small part to José Moreno’s cinematography, and laugh-out-loud funny, thanks to a script by de la Iglesia and his writing partner Jorge Guerricaechevarría. A wonderful mix of dark, social satire and physical humor, the film transcends language barriers and cultural differences, establishing the film both in 2005 during its theatrical run, and now, during its DVD release, as one of the best comedies of the past few years. (more…)

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Brother

March 11, 2007

brother.jpgTen years ago writer-director Aleksei Balabanov’s gritty gangster filmed Brother emerged from Russia, where it was already a huge hit, and exploded on the international cinema scene. Recently released on DVD by Kino, the film still holds up after a decade, having aged exceptionally well and proven that its original accolades of being a modern classic were well-deserved. Sergei Brodrov, Jr. stars as Danila Bagrov, a baby-faced young man recently out of the army, wandering directionless through life. After a minor skirmish in his home town, Danila journeys to the city of Petersburg, where his older brother Viktor (Viktor Sukhorukov) is a well-established criminal working as a contract killer, who has run afoul of other gangsters. Viktor pawns off his latest assignment — killing a rival crime boss — to his younger brother, setting off a series of events that forces Danila to blast his way through Petersburg’s underworld. But the more havoc Danila causes, the deeper in trouble Viktor gets, leading the older brother to continually betray his younger sibling in order to save his own life. (more…)

300

March 6, 2007

300movieposter01.jpgNormally I don’t get that excited about movies, and I especially don’t get excited by the trailers. No matter how interesting a film looks, or how much a trailer makes me want to see a movie, there have been one too many times that I have felt duped. It’s a lot like renting a porno based solely on the hot chick on the video case, only to make the painful discovery of just how much magic some airbrushing can actually achieve. So, as a rule, I try to always keep my expectations low. But I’ll be the first to admit that the trailer for 300 had me pretty damned excited. And the more I watched the trailer, the more excited I became, thereby increasing my expectations of what the movie had to offer. And even if I had kept my expectations as low as I usually do, it still would not have prepared me for the overall disappointment that was 300. Based on the graphic novel by Frank Miller, 300 tells the story of three hundred Spartan warriors going into battle against a massive invading army of Persians. Spartans, for those of you not up on your ancient Greek history, are not unlike the Klingons of Star Trek — they are fine-tuned fighting machines bred for killing. Led by the brave King Leonidas (Gerard Butler), the Spartan army, slicing and dicing like a Super Veg-o-matic, lays waste to their Persian enemies. Meanwhile, back at home, politicians twiddle their thumbs about sending reinforcements to the battle, resigning Leonidas and his men to a certain doom. But since there is only honor in dying in battle, the king and his men are more than happy to take a dirt nap for the team. (more…)

Black Snake Moan

March 2, 2007

black_snake_moan_ver3.jpgBlack Snake Moan, the new film from Hustle & Flow writer-director Craig Brewer, is one of those films that doesn’t sound that good on paper. In fact, if you were to read a basic plot synopsis, and had no understanding of the raw talent Brewer displayed in Hustle & Flow, it would be easy to dismiss Black Snake Moan. But this is not a film that should be dismissed, for while it may not be totally on par with Hustle & Flow, Black Snake Moan is, in its own right, a cinematic treat. (more…)