Monday, October 13, 2008

meat feast.

The Midnight Meat Train (2008).
Dir: Ryuhei Kitamura.
Star: Bradley Cooper, Leslie Bibb, Brooke Shields, Nora, Roger Bart, Barbara Eve Harris, Peter Jacobson and Ted Raimi.

Horse faced New York-based photographer, Leon Kaufman (Cooper), who wants more from his career than chasing ambulances a shooting shoppers falling thru' shop windows in a kinda You've Been Framed manner. This wouldn't be so bad if he actually did anything about it apart from whine continuously at his waitress girlfriend Maya (the frighteningly banana chinned Bibb). Obviously sick to the back teeth of his moaning face she takes matters into her own hands and gets their arty pal Jurgis (Bart, not Simpson) to arrange a meeting with the pole-arsed art gallery owner, Susan (wasn't she in the Bangles?) Hoff (long necked star of loads of things and distant relative of my wife's boss, Shields).

"I'm sorry I can't return any of your drawings".

After viewing his portfolio of drunk jakeys and stressed commuters she announces that his stuff is shite and that he needs to find his own 'voice' (which is strange cos he doesn't sound dubbed).

Hoff reckons that Leon needs to capture the 'right moment' if he is to truly document the heart of the city and the only way he can do this is to wander around in the dead of night hoping to get shots of tramps pissing in alleys etc.

Don't you just love modern art?

"Shoots you sir!"

Still whiny but somewhat inspired (you can tell because he raises both eyebrows like a tiny mouse getting orally pleasured by Stevie Nicks), Leon grabs his duffel coat and bobble hat before heading off into the night and within a few minutes is following a trio of bad boys as they head down into the subway.

Catching up with the gang just as they're starting to hassle a sexy lady on the stairs (the exotically named Nora) for a wee bit of knife point lovin' Leon silently snaps away as tho' detached from the horror unfolding in front of him.

He snaps back to reality when the gang leader approaches him menacingly (I say menacingly but he's only about five foot two) muttering "Wassup mutha fuckah?" under his breath. Leon keeps shooting before pointing out that the nasty lad is standing directly in the line of the stations CCTV camera so, should he try any badness it'll be capture on film.

Tutting loudly the gang walk away leaving Leon to get a big snog off Nora before she races to her train.

Vinnie parting your mum's beef curtains.

Feeling kinda wired, as John Barrowman would put it, Leon returns home and develops his pics, which garner what looks like an oh so slightly troubled frown from his girlfriend (tho' it may be something else, I was too busy looking at her big, curved face).

Hoff agrees (about the pics, not Maya's face) and tells him that if he can get just two more photo's of the same quality she'll include his work in an upcoming exhibition (of what? women almost getting raped on the subway?).

This bit of good luck is somewhat spoiled by the fact that the woman he rescued has now gone missing.

"Come lick my art-hole".

Leon becomes (very quickly it seems) obsessed with solving the mystery. Could it have been the bad boys circling round and extracting revenge Or could the smartly dressed ex-Chelsea footie hard man now working as a butcher who spends his evenings riding the night trains be to blame?

Well seeing as we saw him off a guy in the pre-credits sequence it does seem the most likely.

Will Leon solve the mystery of the disappearances?

Will Vinnie speak?

Will a bunch of erect nippled demons turn up at the end for no reason other than Clive Barker likes that kinda shit?

Kitamura points out the guy who sold Clive those trousers.

Midnight Meat Train, the American debut from the maverick genius behind Versus, Azumi and the bloody fantastic Godzilla: Final War, the happily hair helmeted Ryuhei Kitamura has been lying gathering dust on the shelves of Lion's Gate for nearly a year now before being unceremoniously dumped into a few really tiny cinema's in the States and, quite frankly it's hard to see why.

It's true that after an incredibly dark first half the movie does become derailed around the 'Leon goes nuts' part as we're then asked to sympathize with the more and more annoying Bibb and one dimensional best buddy Bart that culminates in a ludicrous “Let’s go break into the Killer’s Apartment!" scene that only exists to set in motion the films climax but you can forgive (well almost) this because of Kitamura's frankly stunning direction (aided and abetted by his cinematographer Johannes Kobilke) and starkly brutal murder set pieces.

Like a 21st century redux of the themes and images of the classic Death Line, Kitamura's juxtapositioning of the meat we eat and the meat we are first repulses then numbs the senses to the slaughter we are experiencing on screen. We see the murders as Leon does choosing to observe rather than interviene.

To Mahogany (Jones) the slaughtering of humans is a job.

To us it's entertainment, making us question who the real monster actually is (well obviously it's those pesky demons that appear at the movies end but you know what I mean).

Vinnie farted...and it's an eggy one.

On a performance front, the cast do not too badly with the small collection of cliched roles on offer. Teevee star Cooper is OK as (if a little mouse like) as the lead, all sweat and furrowed brow whilst Sir Vinnie of Jones gets to stand around and look hard (no change there) whilst bashing folk on the head with a hammer, which is nice.

Leslie Bibb, on the other hand keeps your eyes fixed on the screen for totally the wrong reasons, with her bright yellow hair and skin coupled with her creepily curved face I half imagined a large angry monkey to appear halfway thru' and try to peel her.

Supporting role wise, Brooke Shields is angular of features and bitchy of tongue (works for me) and Roger Bart kept reminding me of a camper, bewigged Nathan Lane (again, a good thing).

There are a few other folk but frankly they're only in it to make up the numbers.

Chinny chin chin.

The scariest thing tho' is why Lion's Gate decided to treat the film like they did. I mean Clive Barker must still have a few fans who'd buy tickets and Ryuhei Kitamura is well known enough around horror circles to guarentee a couple of bums on seats.

Whatever they did to piss off the head honcho's it musta been bad, remember these are the folk that bankroll the bloody absymal Saw movies.

Did Clive force the studio heads to wear his trousers?

Stop! Hammer time!

The saddest thing is that after this experience there's no doubt that Kitamura will be on the first plane back home, leaving Hollywood free to tear thru' another top directors back catalogue and remake his greatest hits without interference.


Clive on the other hand will probably console himself by having a big bald black guy bite his nipples.

Monday, October 6, 2008

price line.

Seeing as it's nearly Halloween here's horror icon (and my fave actor) Vincent Price in a few of the rare occasions that he sold out for the corporate dollar to advertise some quality products.











Thursday, October 2, 2008

(half) wit and wisdom (teeth).

When I was a small boy most of my weekends were spent sleeping over at my grandparents with Saturday nights consisting of sitting up late with my granddad on the sofa watching the black and white Universal horror double bill on BBC 2 whilst sipping hot chocolate. Ahhhh those days were fab! It was one of those weekend afternoons that I first came across this movie, my nan, being a Norman Wisdom fan had decided to watch it (believe it or not she's on first name terms with Brucie and, gulp, Max Bygraves-perhaps that's where my comedy genes come from-who knows). Sitting there playing with my Mego Star Trek figures behind the sofa I was dragged kicking and screaming into a world of swinging, drugs and a comedy legends saggy arse. So, when I stumbled across this gem on DVD I knew I had to face my fears.... This is my survivors story.

What's Good for the Goose (AKA Girl Trouble, What's Good for the Gander, 1969)
Dir: Menahem Golan
Cast: Norman Wisdom, Sally Geeson, Sarah Atkinson, Sally Bazely and Terence Alexander.

Short arsed, slack haired merchant banker Timothy Bartlett (Wisdom) finds his life in a deep dark rut, he hates his job, his busy (and busty) wife Margaret (Sally Bazely) ignores him and he feels his life has passed him by.

All that changes tho' when his boss is taken ill leaving Timothy as the only person that can take his place at a high powered seaside conference for important banking types.

Driving down to Southport (or is it up?), Timbo gives a lift to a couple of girlie hitch-hikers, the raven haired, button nosed Nikki (top 60's strumpet Geeson) and her best friend Meg (the not as strumpety, more mumsy Atkinson).

The girls take pity on Tim, seeing him as a wild spirit that needs set free, so decide to introduce him to the way out 1960's psychedelic world of groovy discotheques, dodgy drugs, free love, top pop combo The Pretty Things (man) and (for the love of God no) skinny dipping.

Geeson: You would, twice. Even tho' you may be thinking of her sister in Inseminoid.

Timothy finds his true self and experiences joys and passions he'd never imagined before...but everything starts to go wrong when he finds himself falling in love with Nikki.

Thigh son!

I always reckon that if it's your dream to make a serious film about human relationships, mid-life fears and one mans breakdown you could do worse than watch this movie for inspiration.

I mean, when you think of films like Love Story, Kramer vs. Kramer and Sophie Choice you have to admit that the one thing they all lack (and it's one thing that makes them lesser movies) is a barrage of jokes so awful even Talbot Rothwell would balk at the thought of using them and a sweaty comedy star mugging their way thru' the lead role.

Wisdom: Nipples like bullets.

If there's ever a point in time where the British film industry began to collapse in on itself it's with the release of this movie.

From here on in Holiday on the Buses, Carry On Emanuelle and Cannon and Ball's The Boys in Blue beckon...

Wisdom must take the majority of the blame tho' seeing as not only does he headline but he co-wrote and produced what appears to be nothing more than an excuse for him to get his kit off, smoke crack and fondle young ladies breasts for our viewing pleasures.

It's like an ITV sitcom version of The Bad Lieutenant but one where it's the audience violated rather than a nun.

Beware the judder man.

The weirdest thing about the film tho' must be seeing Menahem Golan actually directing a movie rather than producing cut price shite and using the majority of the investors cash to run guns into world trouble spots (strange but true).

Golan who later went on to form Cannon Films, makers of such classics as Superman IV: The Quest for Peace and Tobe Hooper's Invaders from Mars remake (plus bankrolling most of his 80's output-says a lot really) has the directing style of a low rent Richard (Hard Days Night, the other Superman II) Lester but without any of that that directors deft comedy touch, relying on hand cranked comedy chases, Sally Geeson's (undoubtedly nice I'll grant you) breasts and groovy (if it were 1966) crash zoom cum lava lamp effects.

"Are we there yet?"

Even by the worst 60's 'yoof' film standards the characters are mere ciphers - Nikki and Meg are feeble cardboard cut out wank fantasies for podgy, middle age men everywhere (I'm just surprised that they don't shag each other during the film seeing as that's the only free love cliche missing) and their characterizations consist of thus: Nikki: cute, dark hair, sometimes pigtailed, smokes pot, sleeps under piers, shags men. Meg: Blonde, leggy, smokes pot, sleeps under piers, shags men.


Geeson: Shoes.

Sally Bazely as Norman's wife fairs no better, veering wildly from frigid ice queen to overly affectionate MILF without rhyme nor reason.

Her character is just there and never changes throughout the entire movie; after all the drugs and shagging she turns up for the films final third when the 'plot' takes on a bizarre twist revolving around Timothy's attempts to persuade his wife to stop wearing curlers and flouncy 'baby doll' nighties to bed and maybe dress a wee bit more like a tart and never even finds out about his affair.

 Just when you think the film is going to say something deep or reflect on Wisdom's characters predicament someone drops their trousers or falls over.

It's bizarre to think that after the burlesque joy of The Night They Raided Minsky's that Sir Norm decided to make a lowbrow poverty row sex comedy for no reason it seems other than to take advantage of the UK's newly-relaxed cinema censorship laws and to give himself a chance to ogle some young, firm tottie.

Nice work if you can get it tho'.

Luckily (for him) Wisdom's Dementia means he's now likely to have forgotten ever making this debacle tho' for us it will remain burned onto our memories forever.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

start the month... you mean to go on.