COMING SOON...

COMING SOON...

THE HOT ROCK, CINDERELLA LIBERTY, ART SCHOOL CONFIDENTIAL and DISTANT VOICES STILL LIVES

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

BATTLE ROYALE, THE COMPLETE COLLECTION: SUPERB EDITION


I had heard of the movie BATTLE ROYALE years ago and actually had a chance to see a portion of the sequel. My son has always told me it was an amazing film but until this release I'd never had the chance or time to watch it (even though I borrowed his copy months ago). Fans of the film were hard pressed to find a copy and for the most part the only way to do so was via bootleg copies or those sold at fan conventions over the past few years. But that has all changed with the release of this box set put together by Anchor Bay.

Included are the directors cut of the original film as well as the theatrical cut, the sequel and a collection of extras that include The Making of Battle Royale, TV Spot: Tarantino Version, Basketball Scene Rehearsals, Tokyo International Film Festival 2000, Special Edition TV Spot, Original Theatrical Trailer, Battle Royale Documentary, Special Effects Comparison Featurette, Filming On-Set, Behind-The-Scenes Featurette, Audition & Rehearsal Footage, Instructional Video: Birthday Version, and Battle Royale Press Conference. As you can see they've covered nearly all the bases with this one. The transfer is beautifully done and the colors and film footage nearly leap off the screen, which could be a bad thing considering the amount of blood shed during the film. With two films to discuss, I'll break them down.

BATTLE ROYALE

The story takes place in the near future. Unemployment is at an all time high and people are beginning to give up hope, especially the young generation. Rather than sit back and accept things as they are, the youngsters tend to express their rage through violence and disrespect. In response the adults pass a law and form Battle Royale, a competition that is literally life or death.

The worst 9th grade class is taken on a field trip and gassed but when they wake they don't find themselves home. Instead they are find themselves in a large room surrounded by soldiers. When their teacher arrives he explains they are now part of BR and how it works. Each student has a collar. Should they try to take it off or escape, the collar explodes. The students will each be issued a backpack that will contain food, water and a weapon. Once they get their pack, they are to leave. They are on a deserted island now and there is one thing they need to accomplish: survive to be the last person alive at the end of 3 days. Yes, each student is to kill the rest to win. Should there be more than one survivor, those remaining will all die. To make it more of a challenge they've also been given a map that shows a grid and every 6 hours the grid changes with hot zones that will explode their collars.

The biggest turmoil for these kids is of course being able to kill someone to continue living. But there's more to the story than that. Keep in mind these are junior high students, kids who are in the midst of making friends, making enemies, being picked on or being popular. All of those things that teens go through come into play with the interaction between them all. Alliances can be made but for how long knowing that if you don't kill the rest you all end up dead? To make matters worse, two wild cards are brought in, two students not from this class who seem to be trouble makers of the worst sort.

The film moves at a furious pace with plenty of action and fairly gory effects. As each student is killed or commits suicide, the count changes with each now dead classmate having their names added to the daily announcements. Some react as you would think a normal person would, others seem to care less. This is survival of the fittest taken to extremes.

Two students have joined forces, a couple that never had the chance to actually become a couple. Shuya and Noriko find themselves caring for one another more than they though possible. Both want to make it and aren't sure how they can do so with both of them alive. When a chance presents itself for that to happen, they jump at it.

The movie is brutal and shocking but at the same time tells a great story. It makes you consider the thought; could I actually kill my best friend in order to continue living? At the heart of the film that's what makes it work so well, confronting the concept in your own mind and applying it to yourself. If anyone thinks they can come up with the truth as an answer you're kidding yourself. Who knows what one would do when put in that situation? The ending of the film works well but I won't spoil it here.

BATTLE ROYALE II: REQUIEM

The sequel is well done but doesn't quite live up to the first. SPOILER ALERT: If you don't want to know how the first film ends then watch it before reading below.

It begins 3 years after the last film. Shuya and Noriko survived the first film and escaped the island. With a tremendous grudge against the adults who made them play the game, they are now wanted fugitives. Rather than except their predicament, they become terrorists out to bring down the adults of the world. In response to their attacks and propaganda, the government passes another law creating Battle Royale II.

The same starting principle holds true with a group of 9th graders brought to a military base after being sleep gassed. When they wake they find themselves in a cage with their new teacher telling them the rules. Instead of hunting one another they will be dropped on an island with their backpacks in order to put an end to Shuya's declaration of war on all adults. Their job is to kill Shuya and his followers. Should they decline to do so they will immediately be killed via collar. Added to this is the problem that they are to work in pairs. Should one die, the other finds themselves victim of the collar.

Placed in boats and heading for the island they find themselves under attack before they hit the shore. Between being shot en route and when they land, nearly a third of the 42 kids are gone before they receive ammunition and have the chance to find cover. Once more the mind set of the teen is played and they more often resort to the tantrums or emotional upheavals teens do rather than think things through. Once they begin to do so they become a more effective unit.

The biggest difference between this film and the original is the involvement of politics. Condemnation of governments and those in charge runs rampant here. The idea of teens taking over the world harkens back to the sixties and the concept of trust no one over 30. Yes, the adults have messed things up pretty bad, but the chances of these kids saving the world don't seem much better.

Eventually the combatants realize what is going on and unite forces. Shuya and his group disable the collars and keep the new teens armed and ready. This means that the military must now go in to take them all out. Who will survive and who will die isn't seen until the film's end.

So there you have it, the stories behind the movie and sequel. Are they worth watching? By all means. And if this is the sort of movie you can enjoy in one way or another, it's also one that you should add to your collection. As I said, the transfer to DVD is beautiful to see. The acting is amazing even when the film is in Japanese (the first is dubbed, the second subtitled). For all the controversy that surrounded this film, it is one you should seek out.

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THE DESCENDANTS: BELIEVE THE HYPE


There are movies that are released and then discussed later when Oscar time rolls around as being the next best thing since sliced bread. The actors and directors are talked about and make the talk show route. Almost always these incidents are nothing more than hype, trying to drum up interest in a film that is nominated but nowhere near as good as they claim. Then there are the rare times when it all clicks and turns out to be true as with THE DESCENDANTS.

George Clooney stars as Matt King, a hard working property lawyer whose made his mark while living in Hawaii. As the film opens Matt has had a major setback arrive in a speed boating accident involving his wife Elizabeth. As she lays in a coma while the doctors wait to see how she responds to treatment, Matt is faced with day to day life at home involving his youngest daughter Scottie (Amara Miller).

This is not Matt's area of expertise. It soon becomes apparent that home life has little to do with Matt of late and that he has no idea how to be involved in his child's life. Scottie has been acting up at school, presumably dealing with the life threatening situation her mother is in. With no idea how to cope with Scottie, Matt flies the two of them to another island where his older daughter Alexandra (Shallene Woodley) is enrolled in boarding school with the hopes she will help him.

But Alexandra doesn't offer all the help Matt needs. Following in her rambunctious mother's footsteps, Alexandra has shown a drug problem in the past and when Matt arrives he finds her drunk. Flying home the next day they talk about what is going on and why she fought with her mother the last time the two spoke. It is then that Alexandra drops the bomb in Matt's lap that spurs on the rest of the film. She lets him know that her mother was having an affair and that she had planned to divorce Matt. This scene displays the acting ability of Clooney perhaps more than any other in his career as he displays shock, outrage, pain and disbelief within a matter of seconds. In addition Matt is told there is nothing more to be done and that due to her living will his wife is soon to be taken off life support.

So begins Matt's quest, aided by his daughters and Alexandra's friend Sid (Nick Krause) to find the man his wife was involved with. It turns out the man is a realtor and in witnessing one of his signs in a yard, Matt and Alexandra are able to find him on another island. Soon the four are flying once more to find this man.

With little solid clues they trace him to a hotel only to find he's not there. It is by chance that Matt passes him on the beach one morning while jogging and follows him home to a cottage where he sees him with a wife and two children. Having told himself over and over again that he wants to offer this man the chance to say goodbye to Elizabeth, reality isn't quite what he expected. What does he do now?

While all of this is going on a side story has Matt trying to decide what to do with a huge acreage of land that his family owns. As trustee for the land, it is up to Matt what they finally do. One group of cousins wants to sell to a high finance man from Chicago who intends to develop the land with hotels and golf courses. The other is a local man who wants to do the same but continue to involve local people. And then there is the minority who feel that the land should remain as it is in pristine condition. In seven years the trust falls apart. If they sell now each cousin and Matt have the chance at making millions.

At the heart of the film are two quests involving Matt. One involves his discovering the family that he left behind for the office, getting back in touch with his children and rediscovering who they really are as well as who he is. The second is relating to the land he was put in care of, a land and history that goes well beyond years and property rights and involved a tradition and sense of community. Where Matt will go with either quest isn't seen until the final reel.

Clooney is amazing here. Rather than go for an over the top performance he displays so many subtle signs of emotion that you can feel each and every thing that goes through the character's mind as the story unfolds. His frustration, his rage, his sadness are all on display through the performance Clooney offers and it stands out as one of his best. Equally amazing is his supporting cast, most notably Woodley and Miller who show a large emotional depth for their young years.

This film isn't a feel good movie but at the same time it isn't a downer either. It offers true moment of humor as well as drama and tells a story that involves you from beginning to end. As I watched I wondered if this was a movie I would watch again or just place on the shelf. In the end I decided it has to be seen more than once with time spent between viewings the better to appreciate what is seen on screen. This is one movie you don't want to miss.

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MY WEEK WITH MARILYN: AN ICON CONTINUES


Marilyn Monroe was an icon of beauty, of Hollywood leading ladies. To this day images of Monroe can be found on everything from posters to shot glasses. She is an image that film fans carry on even though many of them may never have taken the time to see one of her movies. Such is the price of fame and also a bit of the story seen in MY WEEK WITH MARILYN.

The movie is based on the true story of Colin Clark (Eddie Redmayne), a young man who intends to not follow in the family footsteps but to become involved in the world of film making as he sets out on his own. Determined to get a job, he applies but is turned down for a position with Olivier Films, the studio overseen by Laurence Olivier (Kenneth Branagh). Through sheer determination and with a little luck, he gets a job there and is soon the third assistant director on Olivier's new film. In essence, he becomes a gofer.

It is 1956 and Olivier is about to begin his first non-Shakespearean movie, a romantic comedy called "The Prince and the Showgirl". Starring as well as directing he has chosen a Hollywood star on the rise as his co-star, Marilyn Monroe (Michelle Williams). But things start off bad and seem to get worse. Monroe is a method actor, taking time to work herself into the role she is playing while the cast and crew wait. Colin is sent to fetch her to the set and finds himself in awe; completely star stuck, but does get her there.

As each day progresses tempers flare and Monroe continues with her temperamental attitude. Those that surround her like her acting coach and manager continue to pamper her and keep up the steady flow of prescription medication. Their goal is to stay with the gravy train and ride it for all it's worth. Colin enters and instead tries to offer her a friend that she doesn't have.

After Marilyn's new husband Arthur Miller (Dougray Scott) returns to the U.S. to visit his children, Marilyn drops into another depression and calls Colin to her aid. Even though he was threatened by her manager, his devotion to the legendary actress continues. With the help of Colin as he distracts her and gives her the chance to share who she really is as opposed to the celebrity she has become, Marilyn does eventually finish the film. But at what cost?

The film fluctuates between two ideas and combines them to make an interesting feature. On the one hand we see the star seeking star treatment that then turns into a gifted talent. So great is her talent that Olivier even comments that she is a natural to Colin late in the film.

The other story is of a young girl who has seen the world, who has done what it takes to get where she is and who has lost something in the process. This is a fractured woman who feels she can't escape the caricature she has portrayed because it was after all fame, attention and love that she sought to begin with. But none of those around her truly care about the woman and seem more interested in the character. Except Colin, the young man who gets to know the real woman.

Don't think that the movie revolves around a physical love story. It's more about Colin's infatuation that becomes adoration and Marilyn's need for someone to accept her for nothing more than who she really is. In the end there is no way that this romance of sorts can happen or continue. Such is the price of fame.

Williams was nominated for an Oscar for her performance here. I'm not sure that it was that outstanding but she does a fine job. The performance is less about her ability to look like Monroe and more about her acting like her in the scenes of the movie being filmed and to portray her troubled psyche off screen. She does an amazing job.

More amazing to me was Branagh as Olivier with the same swagger and vocal patterns that fans of Olivier will notice right away. As always he turns in a great performance. Redmayne displays the innocence of a young man and fanatical side of a person infatuated with a star.

On the whole the movie is entertaining and enlightening. Will I watch it time and again? Probably not. But the movie is worth seeing at least once. With any luck it will help prevent a future actress from selling her soul to achieve her dream.

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THE THREE MUSKETEERS: AN UPDATE OF A CLASSIC


There have been numerous filmed versions of Alexandre Dumas' swashbuckling tale THE THREE MUSKETEERS over the years, my favorite of which remains that starring Gene Kelly and June Allyson. Some have been good, some have been bad and many have been so-so. But it's been a while since one was made so I guess it was inevitable that we have a new one thus we have this latest version from director Paul W. S. Anderson, the director behind the RESIDENT EVIL series of films as well as 2 ALIEN sequels.

Right off the bat we notice a change as the original story has portions tossed aside and new more modern items included. The original 3 Musketeers - Athos (Matthew McFayden), Aramis (Luke Evans) and Porthos (Ray Stevenson) - are aided by Milady de Winter (Milla Javovich) in finding their way into the secret archives of the Vatican in hopes of stealing plans draw by da Vinci for a flying ship. The archives are protected by all sorts of traps that seem more along the lines of things we'd create these days than then. Once they take hold of the plans, they are betrayed by de Winter as she drugs them and hands the plans off to the Duke of Buckingham (Orlando Bloom).

Several years pass and things change. A young man named D'Artagnan (Logan Lerman) leaves his family home in the hopes of joining the legendary Musketeers where his father once served. Along the way he has a losing fight with Rochefort (Mads Mikkelson), a high placed official in the government run by Cardinal Richelieu (Christopher Waltz) but is saved by de Winter. When he arrives in Paris the brash youngster soon finds himself involved in not one but three duels with various men he bumps into not realizing that these are the legendary 3 Musketeers.

Before they can fight, they are set upon by Richlieu's guard and a sword fight ensues where D'Artagnan proves his mettle with the legends. Upon finishing they are called before the king to be chastised. Except the king rewards them instead while haphazardly telling them to behave. Thus the group of four are united and their loyalty to the crown and not to Richlieu, who hopes to take over control, demonstrated.

With the exception of the opening the movie thus far sticks to the original storyline. It continues with a necklace belonging to the Queen in the hands of the Duke of Buckingham but instead of her having gifted it to him here we have de Winter stealing it. That gives us more of an opportunity for Javovich to have a larger role than in the book as well as a chance for her to display the fighting/action techniques she's displayed in other roles, perhaps because he husband is the director. You think?

A dance is planned and Richlieu plants in the mind of the King that the Queen could prove her loyalty to him by wearing the necklace since he was the one responsible for de Winter stealing it. With only days to save the Queen the Musketeers are sent forth to retrieve the necklace and save the day. Along the way they come across various plans to stop them as well as numerous steam punk modernistic weaponry, including the flying airships. I have to assume that the makers of this film felt that today's youthful crowd would be hard pressed to accept anything less than a video game mentality when it came to weapons and fighting sequences. 

All of these minor quibbles aside the film is an enjoyable piece of entertainment. The action sequences are well filmed and the effects are dazzling. The acting is far above what one would expect for something like this and the characters well though out and performed. Perhaps the only thing that seems odd is the number of various accents displayed when all characters involved are supposed to be French.

Anyone renting this will have a fun time at the movies so much so that it might even be worth adding to your collection should you be a swashbuckler or Musketeers fan. It will definitely offer you an evening of entertainment. My only major gripe comes at the end when a set up for a sequel is clearly put forth in the most unsubtle manner. Other than that, it's all fun.

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PROJECT NIM: NO MONKEY BUSINESS ABOUT IT


From the folks who brought the dynamic documentary MAN ON WIRE comes a new tale. This one revolves around a chimp made famous when he began speaking to people. No this isn't a PLANET OF THE APES sequel and I don't mean he speaks, but he does communicate through sign language.

Nim, as he is named, becomes part of an experiment begun at Columbia University by Prof. Herbert Terrace. What Terrace wanted to do was show that a baby chimp raised as a human being would be able to learn to communicate as we humans do. Taken from his mother within weeks of being born, Nim is given to a grad student with a family and is indeed raised as if he were one of her children.

Interviews with those involved as well as stock footage and photographs give us the chance to witness what went on. Nim becomes the focus of the family and does learn sign language, something which the family in question hadn't made a part of their life until this experiment. Nim also shows jealousy and rage with the male head of the household while being protective of the female in charge.

More students are brought in to help teach Nim sign language and the mother in question demonstrates her own bits of jealousy during interviews when she says that one was attempting to take over as mother. It feels as if she's lost the idea that this is an experiment and actually adopted the chimp.

Different teachers are brought in throughout the experiment but eventually Nim's chimpanzee nature takes hold and he displays signs of violence, biting through the cheek of one teacher. While he has grown fond of two students who are the last to teach him (and who fell in love while doing so) the end is in sight. Fearing a lawsuit should he attack again, Terrace brings the project to an end and ships Nim back to his original home, a gathering of cells for chimps run by another professor who just studies chimp behavior.

This is not the world Nim was raised in. This is a world where chimps behave like chimps, never putting on clothes or asking for things they want. As the days progress, Nim falls into a sorry state.

Terrace on the other hand becomes a celebrity of sorts. When Nim was still part of the project he wrote a book on the research and was a guest on several talk shows discussing Nim's ability to communicate. The reality was that it was the students who had contact almost daily with Nim and Terrace's contact was very limited. When he called the project to a halt it was a cold moment but easily done since he had no clue what Nim was really like.

Another student becomes involved in working with Nim at his new home and eventually begins communicating with the chimp once again. They become friends of sort with Nim almost always wanting to play. But fate steps in once more and with decreased funding the professor in charge ships out the chimps on hand, including Nim, to medical research facilities. Here chimps are caged, drugged and have test run on them to see their reactions to various items from medicine to cosmetics. One professor here who seems to take on the role of villain eventually comes to the aid of these animals. But can Nim ever truly be saved?

The movie takes a straight forward approach not just trying to paint a portrait of an animal as a near human but showing that it does indeed possess the animal traits it was born with. Nim may have learned to communicate (which Terrace writes off as just asking for things it wants...watch and you decide if Nim can communicate) but he still has the strength of a wild chimp and the possibility of doing damage is there. But in watching as Nim learns, as he "talks" and as he shows the ability to understand those around him the question of using animals for testing is raised.

I've not taken a firm stance on the issue in the past, but after watching this film it makes me wonder if it's worth it to put animals through what we do in testing. I've never thought it was a good idea to do so for such things as cosmetics. Now I find myself questioning if it should be done for medical research as well. It's easy to say that cures have been found and formulated that have helped humans, but do we truly have the right to treat animals this way? And knowing that they can indeed have emotions and communicative abilities how human is it to do so?

I've seen films that are completely propagandistic take on the subjects they claim to be open minded about. This film doesn't feel that way. This film feels like its looking at all sides of the issue. It is interesting from start to finish and will lead you many a discussion on the topic of test animals. But more importantly it will tell people of the story of Nim and that's a story worth telling.

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MANDRILL: BOND SOUTH AMERICAN STYLE


It would seem after watching MANDRILL that the folks in South America are in love with the whole James Bond mystique. At least the folks who made this movie are. Everything from how Bond captures the attention of women to the tux to the actual image of the poster for FOR YOUR EYES ONLY is on display here. In some places it works, in others it seems played as much for camp/comedy as anything else.

Chilean born star Marko Zaror stars as Antonio Epsinoza aka Mandrill. The movie opens with Mandrill killing his mark and being well paid for his assassin skills. During the payoff he is given the option for another job, one that will lead him to the man he's sought for years, a man known as Cyclops.

Flashbacks lead us to how and why Antonio became a killer. As a child he witnessed the murder of his father and mother at the hands of a ruthless killer. Before being killed his mother was able to wound the killer and taking out one of his eyes, thus the Cyclops name later on. As Antonio grows up, he is raised by his uncle and learns what type of man his father was. It seems his father based his life on a film character who was the quintessential ladies man and spy. We never learned who he worked for but the uncle does help Antonio with his one weak area: women. How to be suave and debonair and always get the lady into bed is taught in one lesson. How this uncle who seems more sleazy looking than inspiring is part of the camp.

Back to the present and Mandrill heads to the home of a killer for hire who knows where to find Cyclops daughter, the weak link in his armor. A hand to hand martial arts battle takes place and eventually the two sit to talk. Before he has the chance to kill him Mandrill takes out the hit man.

We move on to a casino as Mandrill checks in. Working his way into a high stakes poker game, he meets the Cyclops's daughter and tries to woo her, failing in the attempt. When he meets her again as she sings karaoke, a tune that he recognizes as the one played on a locket his mother owned that was taken by Cyclops, he begins to fall for the woman. When he gets up and disco dances to the next song, she falls for him. Like I said, this film has all sorts of campy incidents throughout.

The pair end up in bed and afterwards Mandrill is captured by Cyclops and his men. Sitting at a table facing one another, a gun nearby, Mandrill is taunted by Cyclops to shot him while his daughter watches. As the men go for their guns, Mandrill kills Cyclops fulfilling the oath he made to do so when his parents were killed. The love birds part ways as enemies and the rest of the movie is filled with the daughter's attempts to kill Mandrill.

Yes as always there is something lost in the translation. The acting appears to be solid and the martial arts fight sequences are nicely done as they have been in other Zaror films I've seen. The funniest parts are the movies within the movie of the spy character he emulates, some of the cheesiest looking sequences ever put on film on purpose.

The film rarely gets boring and it's all played for laughs. No not gut busting laughs but laughs with a nod and a wink. As I said at the beginning, the film makers here absolutely love Bond and it shows. But make no mistake; this film doesn't live up to those classics. It does offer a decent amount of entertainment though and it's interesting to see how other countries treat the source material.

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MELANCHOLIA: BOREDOM ON A STICK


To begin with there are two sorts of movies that are made. One is a film that entertains the masses, that type of film that you go to and walk out being completely entertained by. The other is the art film, a movie genre that can often times be included in the first category but more often than not is so full of itself that it offers no entertainment at all, just that pseudo intellectual crap that only people who think of themselves as above all others enjoy. I've never believed that they actually enjoy it but have felt that they want to impress those around them so much that they pretend to do so. These are the people who watch a film like Andy Warhol's EMPIRE, a static shot of the Empire State Building from 3AM until the next day, a think it's art. Give me a break.

This brings us to MELANCHOLIA. Directed by Lars von Trier, a director that the art house crowd holds in high esteem, the film is one of the most boring things I've ever witnessed. It begins with Justine (Kirsten Dunst) and her new husband en route to their wedding reception. Nearly 5 minutes time is spent with their stretch limo having problems getting around a winding curve as they try and help the driver and take turns driving themselves. They finally arrive and rather than greet their waiting guests, Justine insist on going to say hello to her favorite horse in the stables.

Over the next hour or so we simply witness the wedding reception, hear from various guests that are their and watch as Justine, hoping to find some sort of happiness in it all, continues to deal with the depression she is prone to. It doesn't work no matter how hard her family tries to help her (except for her mother played by Charlotte Rampling who piles on the reasons why marriage stinks).

As the movie progresses we find out that another planet it hurtling towards are own on a collision course. There is no last minute save here, no heroes trying to launch an atomic bomb at the planet or anything else, just the knowledge that the two will collide and everyone will die. The name they give this planet is Melancholia thus tying it into the whole depression motif witnessed throughout the film.

The second half of the film deals more with Justine's sister Claire (Charlotte Gainsbourg), the one who seemed under control and composed who took care of Justine's wedding and reception. Claire has no idea how to deal with the imminent demise of the world she knows, of her family and slowly begins to fall apart while Justine seems to accept the end calmly and coolly.

SPOILER ALERT

As these two sisters and Claire's son gather on the golf course her husband owns under a makeshift bunch of sticks they collected, Melancholia crashes into the planet and everyone dies. The end.

I cannot begin to explain how boring this movie was. From scenes of nothing more than people going through the motions of events to the back and forth dialogue that feels like it goes no where all I could think was when will this be over? This is not to say a movie filled with dialogue must be boring. MY DINNER WITH ANDRE was fascinating to watch and listen to. This movie just is...boring.

Not only does this movie bore the viewer to death it does little more than attempt to inspire a feeling of depression in it's viewers as well. Its as if von Trier said hey I feel depressed and I don't want to feel alone like this so let me try and make you feel just as bad. Are there people out there without enough problems in their own lives that they need to add to it by sitting through this sort of thing?

If you know someone who is eternally happy, who is care free without a fret in the world that you'd like to see brought down a bit then by all means recommend this film to them. By the end even they may be searching for a razor. If not then avoid this film at all costs and hope that von Trier either finds something to make himself happy or stops making movies.

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THE LEGEND OF AWESOMEST MAXIMUS: NATIONAL LAMPOON BRAND DIES


There was a time when the name National Lampoon meant something. It was the breeding ground for a large number of comics and writers, first with the initial magazine and later with its radio and road shows. When it took the dive into feature films it splashed big time with ANIMAL HOUSE and VACATION. But that all changed. Each item connected with the original name died out. The last to go it seems is their films. Every time a new movie comes out with the name National Lampoon attached to it I cringe just a little. And they never disappoint me: they're always bad.

The latest to have the words National Lampoon attached to it is NATIONAL LAMPOON'S THE LEGEND OF AWESOMEST MAXIMUS. The story revolves around...well never mind. It doesn't matter. This movie was so bad it would be a disservice to waste time talking about it in depth. Suffice to say its a broad parody of the sword and sandal films made over the past 20 years, everything from BRAVEHEART to 300.

The jokes told here are the type that you might have told when you were reaching puberty and the subject of oral sex and naked boobs was enough to send you into a laughing frenzy. Where as National Lampoon had a subtle sense of humor to it, a bit of class even when discussing such things, this one goes for playground mentality and achieves it quite well. If only those on playgrounds were the intended audience this movie would have made a mint. Instead it went straight to DVD and doesn't even deserve that.

Note to Will Sasso: if you continue playing a bumbling idiot in all of your roles you will play nothing but a bumbling idiot forever. So far that seems to be the case. Move on.

I honestly tried watching this movie but had a difficult time getting past the first 15 minutes it was that insulting. There is a place for crude humor, for gross out jokes and for puns based around sexual acts. That is when it is done with style. This movie has no style whatsoever.

I knew I was in trouble when watching the trailer I kept seeing National Lampoon saying their own movie was good and different actors in the cast commenting on how good the other actors were in the printed blurbs on the screen. Anyone associated with this piece of crap owes each and every filmgoer a personal apology for wasting time, space and the money it took to make it. With so many lost scripts held hostage and placed on shelves in Hollywood perhaps the person who deserves to be horsewhipped the most is the one who thought this movie was the one worth investing in. I have images floating in my head at the moment of those classic horror films where angry townspeople are carrying torches in search of the monster. We need to do this and find the person responsible for this so called movie. It truly is that bad.

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