I've wanted to post this for a while now (way too many of my posts begin with that statement - sorry), but with all the movie watching, drinking and eating it's been nigh impossible to find the time to write it. In case it's not obvious, I'll be using these posts to wax cinematic about the movies I watch and provide a brief description of each film to give my reviews some context. I plan to write-up the films in the order I watch them and in full disclosure I stole all of the synopses from a number of websites that are not Posterocalypse. Day one. Go!
SYNOPSIS: A drama focused on five months in the life of pedophile who keeps a 10-year-old boy locked in his basement.
REVIEW: Wow. Just wow. First things first, I've got to give it up to the filmmaker, Markus Schleinzer, for even having the balls to make this movie. One second, I think I'm still catching my breath from the fact that this film was actually made (and played at Cannes, no less). While it's impossible to deny that there are some pretty perverse and taboo elements at play in the film, I enjoyed the hell out of the story and would heartily recommend Michael to others who can get past the initial shock of the premise. Alright, maybe "enjoyed" isn't the correct word, but I was definitely impressed and on edge throughout the entirety of the film and thought the performances were flawless from beginning to end. There's a very, very complex relationship at the heart of this story and while it could have become something preachy or heavy handed, the film goes for a slow burn and rewards the audience for their time. Definitely go see this if you have the chance, but I'd think twice about bring your parents or children.
RATING: 5/5 Stars
Kill Me Please (2010)
SYNOPSIS: A doctor opens a clinic for assisted suicide, but discovers that death prefers to work alone in this pitch black comedy from Belgium.
REVIEW: I loved, loved, loved Man Bites Dog (a must-have Criterion in my opinion), and Kill Me Please features a very similar gallows humor, so this was a pretty easy win for me. I thought the first half of the film, which focused on the idiosyncrasies of the suicidal cast, was a lot more interesting than the second half of the film, in which pretty much every character goes completely insane and lots of people die (though not as quite as expected). If you like your humor black, and your films black and white, then I'd definitely recommend checking this out.
RATING: 4/5 Stars
Polvora Negra (2011)
SYNOPSIS: A man betrayed is hunted and left for dead. Long after, he returns as Castilho Paredes. With scars still deep he is placed in a family dispute to be a pawn as a hired hitman between brothers and sisters for a hefty inheritance that will draw guns and blood. As long as there are bullets, there will be vengeance.
REVIEW: This may not have been the best film, or the second best film of the day, or even the third best, but what it lacks in budget and a cohesive narrative, it more than makes up for in attitude and heart. Polvora Negra manages to combine the stoic coolness of The Man with No Name and the convoluted familial relationships of Gosford Park with neat, if confusing, results. It probably didn't help my understanding of the plot that the subtitles were riddled with misspellings, grammatical errors, and haphazard punctuation. If you speak Portuguese I say go for it, if not, enter at your own risk.
RATING: 2.5 / 5 Stars
House by the Cemetery (1981)
SYNOPSIS: House by the Cemetery is a haunted house movie. The premise is Lovecraft by way of E.C. comics (with a side trip to the butcher shop). When a New York family moves into a suitably creepy New England mansion, strange things begin to happen. There are ghostly children, rabid bats and the diabolical marks of the house's former inhabitant, the evil Dr. Freudstein. Before long, the blood is flowing like a crisp summer Chianti.
REVIEW: Awesome. Just awesome. If you're a fan of crazy 80s horror, or anything by Fulci, then this is a no brainer. The acting is enjoyably atrocious, the kills are horribly gory and cheesy (in equal measure), and the narrative more often than not is nonsensical (seriously, there are so many elements in this film that make NO sense). I had a blast with this film and would totally recommend it for anyone who enjoys the crazy, hilariously blood-drenched work of Lucio Fulci.
RATING: 4/5 Stars
PICK OF THE DAY: Michael