Outrage

Posted in Japanese Cinema with tags , , , , , , , , , , on January 10, 2012 by Cristina Blackwater

Outrage – 2010

 

plot: The boss of a major crime syndicate orders his lieutenant to bring a rogue gang of drug traffickers in line, a job that gets passed on to his long-suffering subordinate. The plot concerns a struggle for power amongst Tokyo’s Yakuza clans, today just as likely to be playing the stock market as shaking down pachinko parlors, over which the Sanmo-kai clan holds sway in the face of constant betrayal and ever-changing allegiances. Sanmo-kai chairman Ototomo (played by Kitano himself) learns that his henchman Ikemoto has struck an alliance with the drug-dealing Murase family, and is not best pleased, to say the least. The ensuing retaliation triggers an orgy of killings, territorial invasions and score settling while law enforcement officers, too corrupt to intervene

 Kitano is fucking back with a vengeance. let’s all bow and thank the japanese film gods. after laying off the yakuza genre for nearly 10 years, master Takeshi Kitano brings us Outrage, once again starring himself as the main character. Outrage follows the ins and outs of Yakuza politics of revenge and atonement between bosses, brothers, and cohorts, and an unstoppable backstabbing bloody avalanche of awesome.

 

 

 

the winning recipe here is the ultra violence topped off with irresistible black humor. you gotta love it when the fatalities and horrible, blood filled yakuza situations you are presented with also make you let out an out loud chuckle or two. i mean there’s a reason why Tarantino loves this guy so much, right? right.

 

 

one way Outrage differs from Kitano’s other notorious yakuza movies, is that his character, and generally the story itself, lacks his distinctive outcast-inner struggle, the nuances in the people involved are put aside for a more straight forward kind of story telling, but after all, as Kitano remarked publicly about his making of Outrage, he is giving the people what they want – no pretense of artistic embellishments, but rather blunt, cruel acts of violence of the professional criminal devoid of any romanticism.

 

 

so sit back and enjoy the bloody ride, and then, if you’re hungry for more, remember this is the same guy who brought us masterpieces such as Brother, Hana-bi, and Boiling Point. it’s never too late for a good re-ash.

Another Earth

Posted in Sci-Fi Cinema with tags , , , , on January 1, 2012 by Cristina Blackwater

Another Earth – 2011

 

plot: Rhoda Williams, a bright young woman accepted into MIT’s astrophysics program, aspires to explore the cosmos. A brilliant composer, John Burroughs, has just reached the pinnacle of his profession and is about to have a second child with his loving wife. On the eve of the discovery of a duplicate Earth, tragedy strikes and the lives of these strangers become irrevocably intertwined. Estranged from the world and the selves they once knew, the two outsiders begin an unlikely love affair and reawaken to life. But when one is presented with the chance of a lifetime opportunity to travel to the other Earth and embrace an alternative reality, which new life will they choose? 

Another Earth is a 2011 American science fantasy/drama film directed by Mike Cahill in his feature film debut. The film stars William Mapother and Brit Marling. It premiered at the 27th Sundance Film Festival in January 2011. It was released in dramatic competition. Variety reported, “[It] has been deemed one of the more highly praised pics of the fest as it received a standing ovation after the screening and strong word of mouth from buyers and festgoers.”

this movie is so beautiful and touching. every outcast loner will identify with some aspect of it. Rhoda is a girl who did something terrible and unforgivable, but who is trying to find forgiveness one day at a time. we watch her struggle and grow and make mistakes trying to mend the old ones. i almost don’t want to say much of anything about the actual story development. i found it somehow similar to Primer (one of my favorite movies of all times), although the two movies have very little in common.

one day a new planet appears in the sky. as time goes by, and the planet moves closer and closer, it is discovered that it is an exact mirror planet to ours, an Earth II, if you will. not only the planet is identical, but as first contact is achieved, we also find out that Earth II is inhabited by duplicate versions of ourselves who mirror our earthly circumstances. Rhoda starts a deep inner journey. did her mirror self commit the same mistakes?

i found many other reviews out there to be misleading to say the least. Another Earth is neither a cut and dry sci-fi nor a romantic movie. it’s not about a love story, and it’s not about life on another planet. the sci-fi theme is a contour for a beautiful (i know I’m repeating myself with this word but there is just so much beauty in this movie), in-depth exploration of the frailty of the human heart, particularly to the way us outcasts feel about emotions, and the world around us. is another world just the next step of running away from our problems? like changing city and start anew, but on a bigger scale? or can there be redemption, real redemption, on the other side?

from wikipedia: The idea behind Another Earth first developed out of director Mike Cahill and actress Brit Marling speculating as to what it would be like were one to encounter one’s own self. In order to explore the possibility on a large scale, they devised the concept of a duplicate Earth. The visual representation of the duplicate planet was deliberately made to evoke the Moon, as Cahill was deeply inspired by the 1969 Apollo 11 lunar landing. the movie was shot in the director’s hometown to cut down expenses. William Mapother consented to work on Another Earth for $100 a day, being strongly drawn by the film’s subject.

once again, indie cinema seems to pull all the right strings to my heart.

Bellflower

Posted in Strange Love with tags , , , , , , , , , , on December 27, 2011 by Cristina Blackwater

Bellflower – 2011

plot: Bellflower follows two friends as they venture out into the world to begin their adult lives. Literally all their free time is spent building flame-throwers and weapons of mass destruction in hopes that a global apocalypse will occur and clear the runway for their imaginary gang “Mother Medusa”. While waiting for the world to end, their call to excitement comes unexpectedly when one of them meets a charismatic young woman and falls hard in love. Quickly integrated into a new group of friends, they set off on a journey of betrayal, love, hate, infidelity and extreme violence more devastating and fiery than any of their apocalyptic fantasies.

Let me start off by saying words can hardly explain how much i loved this movie. so pardon me if this will be perhaps yet another very partial pretend-review of a movie, but after all, this is my damn movie blog so you guys deal with it or leave now. Bellflower is up there in the top 3 movies i have watched this year, next to Drive and I Saw The Devil. it touched me in so many ways. so many real, raw, visceral ways. but let’s start with a little back story.

Bellflower is an indie 2011 movie written and directed by Evan Glodell, who is also the protagonist of the movie. it’s essentially, at the poster says, a love story. of many kinds. first and foremost we have Aiden and Woodrow (Evan Glodell), two best friends who move to LA from Wisconsin, with a common passion for Mad Max and homemade pyrotechnics. they are set on building their own homemade flamethrower and a replica of the Medusa car, in the hope that a global apocalypse will occur and clear the runway for their imaginary gang

in the meantime, you know, they’re just boys being boys. there’s lots of partying, laughing, fighting, and especially drinking. tons and tons and tons of it. then there’s the girl. there’s always a girl, isn’t there? Woodrow meets her and instantly falls for her, and then shit starts hitting the fan. you could very easily compare her to a Fight Club’s Marla of some kind, or even better, to an Eternal Sunshine’s Clementine. the girl is wild and young and carefree and  nutty on the side. the two of them, on their first date, decide to go on a spontaneous road trip to Texas, and are pretty much inseparable since.

this seemingly strange but mostly romantic movie turns progressively (MUCH) darker as their relationship crumbles, and the rest is a voyage that takes on surreal, truly apocalyptic notes that more than one reviews rightly describes it as a generational statement. the people in the movie try to find themselves, and try to find something bigger than themselves, something to believe in even in a post apocalyptic fucked up world that seldom offers means to grab onto reality.

and what a grand journey that is! Evan Glodell worked on this movie for years, shot it with a non existing budget and a crew of 11 dedicated people and built most of the props, including the flame throwers and muscle car. also, at some point in the movie he grows a beard and is a total fucking babe. but i digress. Glodell not only wrote, produce, directed, co-edited, and starred in his movie, but he also built a custom camera for it, a “Coatwolf Model II digital cinema camera who looks like a steampunk wet dream, from the old-school bellows on the front to the hand-machined nameplate on the side”

what more do you need as an invitation to hurry up and watch this? how about a hot beard picture?

alright, i lied. that wasn’t for you. it was entirely for my pleasure.

seriously though.. this movie is awesome. i hope this is the start of a very long, brilliant career for this young director who managed to make yet another indie gem out of virtually nothing. and to hell with the huge hollywood blockbusters.

Insidious

Posted in Horror Cinema with tags , , , , , on December 23, 2011 by Cristina Blackwater

Insidious – 2011

plot: Saw franchise veterans James Wan and Leigh Whannell team with Paranormal Activity writer/director Oren Peli to give the familiar haunted house story an exciting new twist with this tale of a family that moves into an old house and begins to suspect they are under siege from otherworldly forces when their young son inexplicably falls into a deep coma. As devoted parents Josh (Patrick Wilson) and Renai (Rose Byrne) struggle in vain to uncover the root cause of their son’s condition, the stress of the situation gradually begins to take its toll on their once-strong relationship. Later, when darkness falls and specters appear to reach out for them from the shadows, the frightened parents realize they’re dealing with powers beyond human comprehension.

thank heaven we are almost at the end of tho-thousand-eleven. see? i even made it rhyme. why, you ask? well i don’t know about you but personally, with a very few exception, this year cinema has been mostly boring, and disappointing. i will not even say that it was bad, i’ll say it with the tone of a parent that just stares at you and silently shakes his head. no son, i’m not mad, it’s just that i am very disappointed. i expected better from you. i know you have potential. but as Mumford and Sons would say, sigh no more! today i bring you a flick that makes things a little bit better.

Insidious is a fun little (as in low-budget) indie gem that comes from the combined efforts of the creators of Saw and Paranormal Activity. At first glance we are presented the good ol’ haunted house formula, with a child who is all of a sudden inexplicably comatose, a mother who practically just starts crying and freaking out until the very last-minute, and a skeptical father who is all like, come on now, i’m not having any of this shit. the kid is pretty badass looking. look at that haircut! even mom and dad are intimidated.

so for a little bit we move into the familiar realm of the “oh look there’s a creepy shadow behind the bed, and gosh darn! who keeps moving my sheet music box around?!” and all that, until finally the mother, between one freak out and one hysterical crying attack, asks the mother in law for some help

mother in law has a solution to everything. she decides to call up ghostbust… erhm, i mean an old psychic and her two minions with very funny looking ghost hunting instruments.

after that all hell breaks loose. turns up the kid is not reaaaally in a coma and his astral body is trapped in another dimension called The Further (which was also the original title for the movie), where ghosts and demons alike party like it’s 1999 all day and night. also also! the father had an experience with this dimension in the past (and the psychic helped him out of it) but had completely removed it from his consciousness. and so he becomes green lantern and goes into ghost world to save his lost kid

that’s not your kid, dude! come on! and the light is supposed to be green. oh, amateurs..

that’s better.

but to make it short! Insidious is a fun, fucking fun movie. it has no gore, virtually no blood but for a couple bloody hand prints here and there, and still it delivers a few scares. you’ll jump off your seat, and laugh, and notice all the little imperfections and holes in the plot and even the few ridiculous ideas, but the entertainment is guaranteed. i thoroughly enjoyed it. yay ghostbusters!

and remember kids…

even demons like to photobomb.

The Black Water Horror

Posted in Other Cinema with tags , , , on November 30, 2011 by Cristina Blackwater

The Black Water Horror

this is me and Morgan aka The Murder In Question ‘s first attempt at a horror short. it was shot a couple of years ago and now it’s finally online for you all to see. i hope you guys enjoy our project. we put a lot of heart into it.

Starring: myself, Cristina Blackwater

Director and Music : TheMurderInQuestion

i know i haven’t updated in way too long, but i hope a short torture porn starring yours truly makes up for my being MIA a little. all feedback will be appreciated, so please let me know what you think!

direct link in case embedding won’t work: http://vimeo.com/32887780

Source Code

Posted in Sci-Fi Cinema with tags , , , , , on June 24, 2011 by Cristina Blackwater

Source Code – 2011

plot: When decorated soldier Captain Colter Stevens wakes up in the body of an unknown man, he discovers he’s part of a mission to find the bomber of a Chicago commuter train. In an assignment unlike any he’s ever known, he learns he’s part of a government experiment called the Source Code, a program that enables him to cross over into another man’s identity in the last 8 minutes of his life. With a second, much larger target threatening to kill millions in downtown Chicago, Colter re-lives the incident over and over again, gathering clues each time, until he can solve the mystery of who is behind the bombs and prevent the next attack.

hello there! long time no see! this time i’m not even gonna try to come up with an excuse for my long, way too long silence; i have none. i could tell you about how busy i was dividing my life between 3 different countries for the past few months but really, that’s not good enough. i got lazy. then my dearest friend Cherry gave me the great gift of a Little Otsu film diary et voilà, i was inspired to write again. here we go!

Source Code is a 2011 movie directed by Ducan Jones – for those of you who don’t know, he’s the very talented son of mr David Bowie and director of instant sci-fi cult movie Moon – and starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Michelle Monaghan and Vera Farmiga. i was so sad when i first watched the trailer, because it made the movie look awful. luckily though, i found out that i’ve never seen anything more misleading! from said trailer, what you expect is a big budget, extremely boring action movie, like so, so many other Hollywood productions.. when in reality the movie is a really amazing.

Colter Stevens wakes up on train speaking to a woman called Christina (great name choice, btw!) who calls him Sean, and has no idea what is going on. he goes into a bathroom, looks in the mirror, and finds out that the image he is looking at is that of another man (Sean). a few  minutes later, the train bursts into flames

 

next, Stevens wakes up in a military capsule talking through a monitor to fellow soldier Goodwin. he then finds out that the accident he just experienced is a recent terrorist attack, that appears to be only the prologue to another, much bigger, one about to happen in the heart of Chicago. he also finds out to be assigned to an experimental project called Source Code, and that his mission is to go back in time and find the person responsible for the bombing. in order to do so, the program allows him to continuously relive the last 8 minutes of Sean’s life on the train to find the terrorist. kinda like Groundhog Day, but sci-fi thriller badass style.

As Stevens keeps going back to the train and keeps being blown up while tries to solve the case, he also kinda falls for the girl (Christina) and so this character is now burdened with approximately a million tasks: he has to save the day, save the world, be a good soldier,  save (and hopefully get) the girl, and keep the audience entertained the whole time. and does he manage to do so? yes, oh yes. this movie will keep your suspence level really high up there, and you will grab your seat, throw inanimate objects, and skip a romantic heart beat or two. success!

then there’s the whole parallel universe/sci-fi matter. basically, these people are already dead, and he only exists as Sean in the span of this 8 minute circuit frozen in time, and Goodwin, back at the military station, reminds him of this over and over, what happened happened and it can’t be changed.. but still, he wants to try to save them (but mostly the girl). i better not get into it in details, because i don’t want to spoil it too much. go watch it! watch it now!

 

if you have watched Moon and have completely, morbidly fallen in love with like i did (and if you didn’t.. what’s wrong with you??!) you know how tough of a follow-up Duncan Jones was left with in his hands. if i was him, and happened to release a masterpiece as my DEBUT feature film, i’d be scared shitless and probably never leave my room again, knowing that nothing i could ever do in life would be an inch as good as that. luckily though, Zowie Bowie has talent for days, and probably centuries, and was able to give Moon not only a worthy successor, but a spectacularly good one. god, i love this kid. i hope he makes as many movies as Takashi Miike. a girl can dream………

 

 

 

Buried

Posted in Other Cinema with tags , , , , , , , on January 29, 2011 by Cristina Blackwater

Buried – 2010

 

Plot:  Paul is a U.S. contractor working in Iraq. After an attack by a group of Iraqis he wakes to find he is buried alive inside a coffin. With only a lighter and a cell phone it’s a race against time to escape this claustrophobic death trap.

 

Buried is a 2010 spanish thriller directed by Rodrigo Cortés and starring Ryan Reynolds.. and no one else.

he is the only on-scene presence for the whole 95 minutes. a man (Paul Conroy) is buried in a coffin with only a lighter and a cell phone. the entire movie is shot within the walls of that coffin. no other actors, no other locations. raise your hand if the premise sounds kinda boring? especially since the only actor has been previously known mostly for his romantic comedies?

well, i will assure you that Buried is anything BUT boring.

the camera follows a man down a spiral colored with many emotions. Reynolds hops from pain, fear, hope, despair, anger, resignation, anxiety, relief, sadness, happiness like the most dexterous of actors, and never once makes you realize that you are watching a film where you can only see his face and not much else.  he never once fails to deliver and he never once doesn’t seem believable. team Reynolds! (and i didn’t even like him before i saw this and Paper Man..)

i liked this movie so much that i actively took time to go scout around for negative reviews(yawn), which i never do (because again, yawn), just to see why people would be so insane not to give it a 10/10 and not find it as entertaining as i did.

they ALL blame the same things out of this character: the fact that he can’t stay calm and the fact that he uses his lighter way too much, things that “even a fucking moron knows that just consume oxygen so just fuck off and die already” (this comes from an angry viewer on IMDB). here’s my point of view, dear angry viewer(s):

first of all, if the movie caused such a big reaction out of you, it already delivered fully and you are a loser.

and second: try waking up after a terrorist attack stuck in a coffin in middle of nowhere Iraq scared shitless and then if you manage to survive, tell me all about how you didn’t breathe hard or use the ONLY weapon you had to overcome one of the primal human fears (lying in complete darkness). no? didn’t think so. you are a loser.

third: the writer thought about idiotic people like you, so he went out of his way to write down exactly why the man is EXTRA incoherent at the time of his abduction (even tho he isn’t extra incoherent, but you see, that’s how you put up with your idiotic viewers) – the man has a pathologic case of anxiety, which he takes pills for. he says this on the phone and even shows you clearly his benzodiazepine of choice before swallowing a handful of em trying not to die from repeted panic attacks. are you still whining that since he is unable to save his oxygen the movie is not realistic? man, you really are a big fat loser.

bottom line, Buried is a good movie, despite your predominance to side or not side with its point of view on morals-politics-burocracy-whatever, it’s a good, entertaining 95 minutes with a spectacular performance from an actor you wouldn’t expect something like this out of. and the display of class and style lies in keeping you interested all the way thru the end without once changing scenery or showing you a different face than the one of the main character.

i have watched this twice already: once thru a tiny airplane screen on my way to Canada, and even if i couldn’t hear perfectly – with those crappy airline headphones with funky power plugs so you can’t use your ipod ones – i found it just as enjoyable as thru a big flat screen with surround.

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