Ricky!... The Movie is a low budget mockumentary about RIcky T, a one-hit-wonder pop star from the 80s who is set for a spectacular comeback. Filled with an assortment of celebrity cameos (Dave O'Neal, Molly Meldrum, Andrew G, Ron Jeremy, Richard Wilkins, Ross Wilson, Barry Crocker and a heap more) who each recount their own experiences with Ricky. For a modest little local film, this movie looks great. Given it's pseudo documentary format it could have easily become a one joke movie but its well written and especially well edited. All performances are great and I found Ricky's Russian wife especially hilarious. There's also lots of little nuances littered throughout the movie for extra amusement (the Elvis ticket... Peter Fonda... Nigel)... yep, Ricky is great fun.
Every homeless person on the street has a story. Tom White was a man with a loving family. He lived in a nice home and worked as a draughtsman for a large company. And then one day, unexpectadly he throws it all away. Leaving his car beside the river he boards a ferry and leaves everything behind. Colin Freils stars in this sombre story of a man lost. Freils has had a career of incredible performances and Tom White ranks highly amongst them. He is truly amazing as his character gradually degenerates as the film progresses. Rachel Blake plays Tom's wife who is left to deal with the fact that her husband has abandoned her and their kids. Her side of the story is heartbreaking. The movie is episodic with several characters coming into his life (or he into theirs) and each of them defines certain truthes that Tom is searching for. Very poetic in its flow the movie was directed by Alkinos Tsilimidos who's film Everynight Everynight is one of the best Aussie films ever made (see my review). That film also moved in a poetic way and he possesses a unique style of storytelling. The support actors include Loene Carmen, David Field and Bill Hunter. All are excellent and Hunter is particularly good with a performance that is also amongst his best.
I can't possibly recall how many times I've seen the Rocky Horror Picture Show. I've seen the stage show, the audience participation screenings and watched it countless times at home... It is a timeless cult classic that (for me) gets better with age. I watched it recently with a couple of Rocky Horror virgins and the excitement of seeing Frank N Furter's grand entrance was as thrilling for me now as it was the first time. I looked over to my viewing companions to see looks of confusion at what was unfolding. I tried to recall my first time and it was probably something similar. The movie is madness from start to finish and where I used to think the stronger musical numbers were during the first half (Time Warp, Sweet Transvestite etc) I now consider the final act to be the most powerful with amazing numbers like Don't Dream It and I'm Coming Home.... after umteenth viewings, still amazing!!
And then there's the grossly underrated sequel, Shock Treatment. Richard O'Brian considers it an "equal" but at the time of it's release the audiences didn't agree and the movie flopped big time. Fortunately audiences have wised up (built their thighs up?) and embraced Shock Treatment. The movie follows the further exploits of Brad and Janet who are newlyweds. During a recording of a local tv show, they find themselves trapped in a warped and surreal television world which is controlled by an evil executive. Just like Rocky Horror, the movie makes little sense while at the same time making a world of sense (ya with me?). I've also seen this movie more times than I care to remember and I think the songs are definitely as strong as the first movie. The characters are great and aside from Tim Curry, Susan Sarandon & Barry Bostwick all of the original cast return along with some welcome new players like Jessica Harper, Cliff De Young, Barry Humphries, Ruby Wax and Rik Mayall. Cliff De Young was the original choice to play Brad Majors in Rocky Horror but he was unable to commit... and so he steps into the role in this follow up and relishes every line. I love this movie and suggest that people persist with it. It's stranger and harder to take then Rocky but when it sinks in, its fantastic!!!
FYI... Richard O'Brien wrote a 3rd movie to round it off as a trilogy. It was titled Revenge Of The Old Queen which takes place back on the planet Transexual and focuses on Frank N Furter's mother. Janet arrives with Frank's lovechild and the story goes from there. The script is floating around online but 20th Century Fox own it and are never likely to produce it. How RAD WOULD THAT BE THOUGH????
I concluded my review of the movie Cage last week expressing my excitement at watching Cage II. The first movie was a favourite growing up and I was stoked to find it as enjoyable 20 years later. I recall seeing part 2 years ago but never really remembered much about it. So I have just watched it and to quote Kevin McCarthy it is a "festering bowl of dog snot". Man, its bad. The story is irrelivent because it's so ludicrous and the absurdity of it is overshadowed by the abismal script and appalling acting. Where the first movie's fight sequences took a back seat to a decent story, Cage II is a cheesy biff-fest with cliched sound fx and the worst fight choreography since Bloodsport 3. I'm all for a tacky fight movie but Cage II drops the bar... to write any more is a waste of time.
The Last Starfighter is yet another classic favourite from my childhood. How ace is this movie?? I just watched it again and it still stands up. Sure the special fx are dogey but considering that, along with Tron, it was one of the first to utilize CGI for most of it's fx I think it's quite a landmark movie. It's kind of a cross between Tron and Starwars. If you've never seen it it's about a teenager who breaks the record on an arcade game called Starfighter. Later that evening he is whisked into space and recruited to fight a real galactic battle. Its the kind of thing that great adventure movies were made of in the 80s. The exciting news is that director Nick Castle is trying to get a sequel into production... excitement much!!?? With Tron Legacy hitting our screens earlier this year there's no better time. Bring it on!!
During the 80s there was an abundance of b-grade martial arts & fighter movies and amongst them was one called 'Cage'. It stars Lou Ferringo (The Hulk) as a brain damaged Vietnam vet who has the mentality of a child. When the underworld abruptly enters his life he is kidnapped and forced into underground cage fights. When I was 10 years old I was hooked on this movie. I had a copy taped off the tv on VHS and I can remember watching it over and over and fast forwarding through the commercials. Even at that age I remember the opening Vietnam & rehab sequences being tacky... well, over 20 years later having just watched it again, those sequences were (are) most definitely tacky. But everything that follows is actually as good as I remember it.... perhaps I am being nostalgic but I once again found myself completely engrossed in this movie. Lou Ferringo gives a sympathetic and genuine performance and the tone of the movie has that Bloodsport type of feel to it. I was chuffed to see Danny Trejo playing a young henchman and there are other familiar faces from the 80s such as James Shigeta and Al Leong which made this movie a really cool flashback for me. I felt like I was 10 all over and now I can't wait to watch part 2 again.
I watched Mr Nice and two things kept repeating in my head; Rhys Ifans is an absolute legend and this is the movie that Blow (starring Johnny Depp) should have been. Based on his memoirs the film tells the true story of Howard Marks, an infamous British drug smuggler from the 1970s. Starting from his teens the movie has an effective Wizard Of Oz transition with everything in black & white until Marks tries his first drug, and then the picture turns to colour. Coming from an underprivileged upbringing he was highly intelligent and managed to work his way into Oxford University. Being exposed to drugs on campus he started on a road to wealth by means of smuggling marijuana into the UK from the Middle East. This is a really strong cast with Ifans in the lead, as brilliant as always (I have a man-crush on this guy). Chloe Sevigny is great as his wife and David Thewlis gives us possibly his best performance to date as the mad Irishman with whom Marks does most of his dealings. And then there's a nice touch with Crispin Glover playing one of the American contacts. It's a stylish film and director Bernard Rose (Candyman, Ivans XTC & Immortal Beloved) captures the 1970's era to perfection. Where so many 70s period movies look like a deliberate recreation, Rose has courageously made use of actual background footage from the era and superimposed the characters with use of green screen. It works incredibly well and for the few times when it does look obvious, it adds to the effect because Marks is stoned almost all of the time. This is an excellent biopic about a fascinating man. I can't figure out if it's a pro-drugs movie or an anti-drugs one... I kind of think it's leaning towards the pro.
If the department stores and shopping centres can have all of their Christmas decorations up, then let the seasonal movies begin. 'Sint' (aka Saint) is a Dutch horror movie that demonises Sinterclaas (Saint Nicholas). This traditional holiday figure, as you probably know, is where Santa Claus got his origins. Like most xmas horror movies, this has all of the typical stuff. Saint Nick is a badass who rides from rooftop to rooftop on an annual slay. Its a slasher with some great gore and is wonderfully stylish. Having said that, Sint did nothing for me at all. I found myself bored with it. Perhaps I wasn't in the right frame of mind but I don't think I'll bother with it again. I'll be keen to read some other opinions but from my point of view, it's a dud.
The Wall wallops me every time I watch it. The power of music and film combine to pound its story into the audience like a freight train has just hit them. It tells the story of Pink, a rock star perched at the top of fame with a long way to fall should be lose balance. His story is traced from childhood, detailing moments in his life which have contributed to the wall he has built around himself. The imagery of this movie is incredible.... beautiful, nightmarish and surreal. If you've never seen Pink Floyd's The Wall then you really ought to. We need more movies like it.
Repo! The Genetic Opera is beautiful and audacious. It's a film that never received the recognition it deserved... but considering that was also the case for The Rocky Horror Show then there's hope yet. Its a graphic and colourful opera which is set in a dystopian future where the health of every citizen is at the mercy of the GeneCo Corporation. A plague of organ disease has run rampant and GeneCo provide life saving organ transplants... the catch is that failure to keep up with payments will see the Repo Man at your door and take back what is GeneCos. Add a web of backstories which culminate in a story of deceit, corruption and butchery.. then throw in an operatic narration with some incredible visual effects and the result is an insane movie that will stick with you. Its a bold movie and independently released. The project was original intended as a trilogy (first, second and final acts) but its lack of recognition has foiled those intentions... such a shame. Nevertheless Repo is rounded off as a stand-alone story that will hopefully become a real cult experience to generations to come.
"Zombedies" seem to be running amok on our screens at the moment and Doghouse is a great little British movie. Its about a bunch of mates escaping the wives/girlfriends for a boys weekend in a remote country town. When they arrive it turns out that all of the females have turned into rabid cannibalistic zombie-like ferrals. Its very cool and the gore is aplenty (its good gore too). Its creative, genuinely funny and tight with a nice running time of 86 minutes. Loved it!
I am relishing this new Clive Barker resurgence. Adaptations of his stories have been generally appalling over the past 10 years and thats mainly because he hasn't played any hands-on role in them, but the good news is that he's back. He has been able to become creatively involved as a producer on the last few movies; Midnight Meat Train, Dread and this great little spook-fest Book Of Blood.
I have to admit that it's a slow meandering movie and not a lot happens for the first hour, but stick with it because I think that the payoff is very cool. Its basically a haunted house movie and there are plenty of creepy and eerie images along the way. Aesthetically the movie feels a lot like Hellraiser and the two movies are very similar in a lot of ways. If you love Barker then check this one out because its got his spunk dripping all over it. A Doug Bradley cameo was a nice touch too.
If you've got teeny kids who love Justin Bieber or watch crap like High School Musical or Camp Rock then try watching Bandslam with them. The cover art on the dvd (not this poster) aims for the HSM look, thus lulling the kids in on a false pretense... and then the movie opens with a diary entry "Dear David Bowie" (and Bowie is in the movie)... This is a teen movie that introduces kids to the world of indie music. The director said in an interview that if this movie makes just one kid check out a Velvet Underground album then it's all been worthwhile. Its about a group of kids who break the mould at highschool and start up their own band. With all of the music greats as their inspiration they try to bring cred back into the high school psyche. The performed original music is ok but the the soundtrack is great. This movie might just push open a door into a new world of music for a lot of kids. I hope it does. Its aimed at the Bieber fans and invites them to grow up.
The last thing I like to do is over-hype a movie for people but I'm going to just come out with it and say that I think Splinterheads is one of the funniest movies i've seen all year. It easily ranks in the top 10 at least. The poster gives the impression of a romantic comedy but don't let that fool you. The movie centres around an awkward loser of a guy who has absolutely nothing going for him in life. A travelling circus comes to town and the Splinterheads (carnie-folk) begin to cross his path, in particular an audacious blonde chick played by Rachel Taylor. And even after that description I promise that it's still not the romantic comedy it might appear to be. You could compare it to movies like Napoleon Dynamite, Youth In Revolt and a touch of Harold And Kumar. The lead actor is hilarious and his fat Asian best friend has some champagne moments (the delicious sandwich had me in stitches). At the start of her career Rachel Taylor never impressed me but over the past couple of years I am really starting to think highly of her. With films like Summer Coda and Red Dog adding to her credits, she's coming across as a calculated and intelligent actress. I am really keen to hear some more thoughts about Splinterheads... it has flown under all of the radars and really should be elevated!
The Trip was a 6 part BBC series which featured Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon playing fictionalised versions of themselves who are on assignment for a magazine and they travel and review food at restaraunts throughout Northern England. The 6 episodes have been edited down into a much tighter 106 minute film which is what I just watched. It really blew me away and I would go so far as to say its amongst the best road movies I've seen. The two performers spend the entire trip locked in conversation, discussing their trade mostly. Brydon is a master of impression and finds himself approaching every scenario in a different voice. He amuses himself and is proud of the work he does. Coogan is self centred and desperate to crack the Hollywood market. He wants a greater fame than what he has and this becomes an ongoing despair for him. While at first he saw Brydon as irritating and talentless he comes to realise that his travel companion might just possess a greater quality of life than his own. This is a film about discovery, celebrity and perspective. The performances are brilliant and the conversations are hilarious. I was constantly laughing out loud. There is a moment of clarity for Coogan which I found moving and the conclusion was well handled. I enjoyed this as a single film much more than the 6 part series.