Some time ago I was being active on Twitter and landed a quest appearance on The Greatest Movie Ever! Podcast (see, persistence wins out I guess?). I personally enjoyed myself, getting to work with one of my bigger influences Paul Chapman. I listened to half of it by the time I posted this and discovered that through the magic of editing, I do not come off as a complete dumb ass. We were joined by cool dude Thomas Pandich, who helped me relax with this whole podcasting game. Go check it out.
Writer’s note: I wrote this review as an extra credit assignment for an art appreciation class, hence why the format is different. The topics I focused on were the portrayal of the artists in the film as well as the relationships between the artists and their creations.
The film I chose for this paper is the 1996 biopic I Shot Andy Warhol. I Shot Andy Warhol was directed by Mary Harron, who also directed the 2000 thriller American Psycho and the 2005 drama The Notorious Betty Page. Additionally, the film was co-written by Daniel Minahan, who directed several episodes of the TV series Game of Thrones and Grey’s Anatomy. After viewing Harron’s film I Shot Andy Warhol, I understand the background of the events that led to the assassination attempt on Warhol’s life and the relationship between Warhol and his would-be killer. The film made me realize that the world of art still has a dark side to it, one filled with misjudgments and resulting tragedy.
When I go to the theater, the movies I see tend to break into two MPAA ratings based categories: hard R fare that tends to earn that rating through interpreting the term “adult” to usually mean gore filled with a ton of nudity (not always the case, just work with me), and PG where there is nothing content worthy to bump up its rating, using the term “adult” to mean requiring a few years of life experience and comprehension to understand or appreciate. An example of the later would be the 2010 film, The Illusionist, whose tale of an aged magician’s confrontation with his lack of relevance in the modern world is a film that children could watch no problem; the reason I think it is meant for an older audience comes from the previously mentioned state of mind a viewer would have to be in to interpret the intended message. 1993’s Matinee fits that second category perfectly.
Matinee was directed by Joe Dante, who I instantly think of as the director of both Gremlins films (which I have yet to watch either, should get around to adding it to the stack) and the creature-feature Piranha. Joe Dante’s filmography in general is comparable to how back when I was starting to listen to The Cure in high school, having that “oh yeah, so that is who made this” during the course of early discovery.*
In Japanese culture dating back at least a few decades, the role of a middle/high school delinquent is often characterized by often skipping class, getting into fights, chain smoking, and generally trying to act like a bad-ass. The image of a twenty–something looking high school scholar sporting punch perms, brandishing bokken swords, and kamikaze jackets is so well known that they seem to be the goofy but endearing equivalent to the American urban youth gangster. But somehow Japan found a way to turn these figures into an almost romantic fighting spirit that can be taken separately from its American counter-part. 2009’s Drop is perhaps the best recent example of a Japanese film that tries to add a comedic tint to the delinquent world.
Drop was the first full feature film directed and written by Hiroshi Shinagawa, whose connection to Drop is actually quite interesting. Drop was originally a manga series, as from what I have read, is an autobiographical depiction of his life. The manga’s character designer Hiroshi Takahashi has his work inserted throughout Drop, fitting since his past work Crows was adapted by Takashi Miike into Crows Zero. A little off topic, but I bet I could cover Crows Zero as a companion to Drop in the future. Outside of even writing the script for Drop, Shinagawa went one step further and adapted his novel Slapstick Brothers into his latest film of the same name. Neat how films like this one find their beginning.
Serial killers seem to be a popular topic in the media, whether it is in the form of Hollywood’s slasher films or prime time news specials. Audiences always seem to be fascinated by these figures to some degree, regardless of whether the madman in question is real or not. Today’s review, Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer, will take a different route into the world of serial killer films, looking at this sub-genre under an uncommon light.
Henry was completed in 1986, but didn’t receive a theatrical release until 1990, due to the movie ratings board’s issues with the film’s gory content. The film was directed and co-written by John McNaughton, who also worked on Mad Dog & Glory and Wild Things. The other co-writer, Richard Fire, worked on the screenplay for The Borrower and Bleacher Bums.
Ah, Valentine’s Day. A time for warm embraces and couples sharing their love. I hope all of our readers here at Children of the Blazing Fist are having as much of a great day as any of us will ever have. Considering today is actually the fifteenth of February, the day after you hopeless romantics or those who just had yesterday to themselves, for we are not in the business of love (since our name would make a crappy name for a dating site). Released by IFC in 2009, Heartless takes a look into loneliness and the need for social interaction.
Philip Ridley is the writer-director for Heartless; which he has done for several other films such as, The Reflecting Skin and The Passion of Darkly Noon. Even though Ridley does not have much experience in the movie industry he has written for numerous other mediums like writing books like Kasper In The Glitter, theater like Mercury Fur, radio plays like Shambolic Rainbow, to even a few songs. Ridley also has his hand dipped in photography, which plays an important role in Heartless.
One day Franklin Raines and I were discussing what would be the next reviews for the site. He tosses me a DVD case. What I saw was a giant robot and pretty bad ass looking people with guns adorning the cover, so naturally my curiosity was peaked. Reading the back I saw the words “Texas Air Force Rangers” amidst the plot summary, having been in Texas my whole life, this intrigued me even more (I very much like my state). I knew I had to review this film for it had everything I wanted; people with guns, a massive robot with a huge amount of fire power, and was Texas related. The film in question is 1989 Gunhed.
Released in 1989 Gunhed is written and directed by Masato Harada. His other works include Kamikaze Taxi and Inugami. To most Americans, Harada is probably best known for his role in The Last Samurai as Mr. Omura (the slightly pudgy, “monopoly man” looking guy). Interestingly enough while researching this film I found out that the original draft of the script, written by James Bannon, was actually a second place winner in a contest that was held by Toho for a new Godzilla film. Several big studios actually worked on Gunhed, with the most recognizable being Bandai, Toho, and Sunrise.
If I ever made a list of film genres that I have very little personal experience with, at the top would sit exclusively Romance. By this I mean a film that is meant to be taken first and foremost as Romantic instead of just interpreted as such, using this basis, I consider Dead Alive’s Lionel and Paquita to be the greatest example of onscreen romance of this generation. A few notches below would be Mystery, a genre that I tend to break up into two categories: one that actively allows the viewer to put the pieces together alongside the lead detective, and another that gives the impression that the detective knows who to finger as a culprit and presents all evidence only moments before the reveal. (An example of shortchanging a long-set genre yes, but on the surface that is what Mystery feels like that to me.) In this review, I am looking to the past and playing in a new environment with 1934’s The Thin Man, which I feel combines aspects of Romance and Mystery in a way that is almost alien to my past experiences.
The Thin Man was directed by W.S. Dyke, a director who was trained in the silent film era but moved on to work in the talkies years later. Alongside such titles as 1932’s Tarzan the Ape Man and 1938’s super big budget Maria Antoinette, Dyke went on to direct three of the five Thin Man sequels, specifically After the Thin Man, Another Thin Man, and Shadow of the Thin Man (yes, keep orchestrating the illusion that you know something about pre-1970 film that is not just Forbidden Planet). A little IMDBing left me with some interesting information on W.S. Dyke, (by interesting I mean something contextually significant regarding a theory I will mention later) who was known as ‘One-Take Woody’ for his ability to crank out feature films in break-neck speeds, which is confirmed on the back of The Thin Man DVD box, “by promising to shoot this splendid adaption of Dashiell Hammett’s novel in three weeks, He took 12 days”.
One day taking place sometime ago; fellow esteemed CotBF writer Alex emailed me a trailer for a midnight released film that he wanted us desperately to attend. After considering the trailer to be fantastic (I usually avoid watching trailers because of the revealing-of-the-best-parts mentality that modern trailers have, but this was an exception), we watched 1987’s Miami Connection, and afterwards Alex and I left with different reactions. Thus Alex and I decided to pre-order the new release when it came out, sit down with my father (whose role will become more apparent later) and write about our shared experiences.
Alex Miami Connection is directed by Richard Park and produced by Y.K. Kim, with both taking part of the writing; Y.K. Kim also stars as one of the main characters, Mark, in the film. Originally released in eight theaters it has not been seen since until late 2012. Drafthouse restored and re-released it into theaters and then later made it available for purchase on multiple platforms, including a special edition VHS for “authentic viewing”. Founded in Austin in 1997 Drafthouse is mainly a small theater chain in Texas.
The 1930’s film All Quite on the Western Front is directed by Lewis Millstone (known for both the Of Mice and Men film adaption from 1940 and the original Ocean’s 11 from 1960) from an adaptation of German writer Erich Maria Remarque’s original novel of the same name. The story centers on a group of high school age German boys, specifically one named Paul Bäumer set during the start of World War I. As a parade of troops traverse through a small German town, these boys are captivated by their instructors’ lecture about what great importance their lives will be if they serve their fatherland Germany in the war. And while at first the boys see this as an opportunity to enlist instead of attend school, they slowly cherry-pick what positions they think they will receive as enlisted men. But once the truth about joining the army be it the rigorous training drills or lasting days in shell-shocked trenches, starts to disfranchise their romanticism, their whole world changes. Paul, after a stretch of time is revealed to be the main character who is supposed to represent the way war takes its toll on those involved, slowly finding that once you enter the world of war, your regular life seems almost alien.
While implied to be at a point during WWI where Germany is still feeling empowered spiritually, the only date mentioned is during Paul’s return home when he mentions it being 1917. Historically, Germany is currently fighting France (the “Western” part of the title is in reference to the two sides of Germany’s territory that it had to defend, East for Russia and West for France) in trench warfare, with bomber planes and machine guns readily available. None of the fights are specifically named and since I am basing the characters from only the information given in the film and not the original novel, I cannot tie anyone involved to real life historical figures. Considering that most of what we had covered in class regarding WWI tended to center on the American point of view (only Germany’s militarism and reason for involvement were discussed). All Quiet on the Western Front was interestingly told from the German point of view, I was lucky to have a viewing partner in my friend’s roommate Kyle Sawyer who mentioned the level of proficiency that the countries’ army had at this point. Kyle mentioned, to paraphrase “Germany and Russia were 19th century armies working to keep up with France and Britain’s 20th century armies”, explaining the rather similar to American Civil War uniforms that the Germans’ where wearing. As I will explain later, WWI acts more as a setting and an experience instead of a down-to-the-detail representation of what happened at one fight or another.
Juvenile delinquency, in all of its forms, usually doesn’t spell good news for anyone, anywhere, any time. Putting the obvious issues aside, delinquents in different countries act differently from each other, influenced by their cultures expectations and their specific reasons to rebel. So what about South Korean delinquents? I frequently hear of Japanese Yankees through so much Japanese media, but South Korean delinquency is new ground to me. The film Attack the Gas Station attempts to fill the gap in my knowledge regarding these delinquents.
Attack the Gas Station originally premiered in South Korea in 1999, and later spawned a sequel film nearly ten years later. The film was directed by Sang-Jin Kim, whose other works include the animated adaptation of the Dante’s Inferno video game, Kick the Moon, and Ghost House. Additionally, the film was written by Jeong-Woo Park, who also wrote for the films Deranged, which had a U.S. release this past summer and Big Bang.
2005’s Tokyo Zombie is directed and written by Sakichi Satô. In lieu of referencing other things that I can bet my bottom dollar will never be released in the States, how about I reference some of his non-directorial credits for context. Outside of being a screenwriter with credits in Takeshi Miike’s Ichi the Killer and Gozu, Sakichi Satô is recognizable as Charlie Brown from Kill Bill: Volume. 1. Tokyo Zombie was originally based on a 1999 manga written by Yusaku Hanakuma, which publisher Last Gasp released years ago, so it is good to see that the original source material is available.
Mitsuo and Fujio are two maintenance men working at a secluded fire extinguisher manufacturing plant. During their lunch break, bald-headed Mitsuo and afro-headed Fujio spend time laying out mats on the floor and practicing Jujitsu. With Mitsuo training Fujio, this time is dedicated to arm locks, grapples, and finishing blows. They are forced to stop though once their manager shows up flustered and demanding that they stop this wrestling and get back to work. After their manager goes out of his way to physically humiliate Mitsuo, Fujio’s quick temper takes over to defend his fellow employee and friend and decides to whack his manager upside the head with an extinguisher. Realizing that Fujio accidently killed him, Mitsuo decides that they should go to Black Fuji and bury him. Once at Black Fuji, after burying their late manager, they spot Fujio’s old pedophile school coach burying a dead child which implies that the coach killed him. Fujio sees what is going on, and beats his old coach unconscious with the shovel they used to bury their manager as revenge. They then depart from Black Fuji.
Well if this did not interest me greatly; the 2005’s Art of the Devil 2 being directed by seven different people would. I will list them accordingly as members of the self-entitled “Ronin Team”: Pasith Buranajan, Kongkiat Khomsiri, Isara Nadee, Seree Phongnithi, Yosapong Polsap, Putipong Saisikaew, Art Thamthrakul, and then look deep to find another film that credited seven directors, not including anthologies. No, I cannot think of anything fitting that bill. To sum it up, Kongkiat Khomsiri has his own film Chaiya (with the English title Muay Thai Chaiya) released over here in the U.S., but from there many of these directors listed above have only ever worked on Art of the Devil 2 itself and its spiritual sequel Art of the Devil 3.
Along one of Thailand’s various high rivers, a man fishes and catches birds in a small boat. He effectively snatches both a catfish and a duck in an interesting technique, where the line and hook are attached to the swimming duck. While struggling to remove the hook by force, the man accidently pulls the hook out of the catfish and into his thumb. We then cut to him being brought to an elder woman who says that he is afflicted with, not tetanus, but a Cambodian curse. As she attempts to clean up various bruises and gashes on the man, going as far as to dig into them, pulling out fish hooks. The man’s pain gets worse and he starts to hallucinate seeing images of a mystic man sticking fish hooks into a similar catfish. The curse climaxes when the hooks swim up his veins until they sprout out of his eyes.