Time for another helping of overlooked gems from DVDland...
ALTERED - My wife added this to the queue, I'd never heard of it, turns out it's a horror/sci-fi genre piece from the writer/director of the massive indie hit THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT. Apparently his first offering since that little low budget creative dynamo... Eduardo Sanchez helms a more polished effort, that takes familiar genres, again to new territory. I don't want to explain much of the story, as it's a treat to watch unfold, but it focuses on a group of young men, and their past with supposed abduction, of the alien kind.
Altered is well written, well shot, and well executed in the plot department. It's full of nice touches on troupes of the genres we all know and have seen before, that makes for an enjoyable and fairly edge-of-your-seat thrill-ride through one dark evening in the boonies. Sound familiar? Well, yes, that could be the Blair Witch summary, but Altered more than stands on it's own.
This is really worth checking out if you like cool little sci-fi or horror work.
Check out the film's website HERE
LOGAN'S RUN (1976) - This is another one of those movies I, a genre loving disciple, should've seen in my 30 odd years of movie viewing, but am embarrassed to admit I haven't. I always thought I'd seen this, just too far back to recall, and had envisioned it as something entirely different than what it was. Any way, I had the pleasure of catching this on TCM's Oscar movies month a little while back, and of course, am glad I did.
While the special effects, wardrobe, and style at work in the movie are certainly dated, LR holds up really well 30 years later, certainly not near as much as 77's Star Wars (thanks to Lucas' groundbreaking special effects), but mostly thanks to the moral and societal themes present in the distant future tale. I can see why Bryan Singer was attached to remake this, the plot is very interesting.
NIGHT OF THE LIVING DORKS - Just released, this 2004 German high school comedy mixes zombies into the formula to enjoyable results. It's well filmed, has a nice cast, and a fun story. It's full of some fun moments where they play with the central casts (a group of 3 high school friends) circumstance, they've been turned into flesh eating zombies but no one knows.
Unfortunately, it never really goes much of anywhere (not that you'd expect it to), or does too much with the concept, but it is none-the-less a cool sidetrack through the zombie genre, that will please zombie fans, or those who enjoy some goofy 80's style horror themed fun. Did I mention it's lots of fun!?!
THIS FILM IS NOT YET RATED - TFINYR is a great documentary on the Motion Picture Association of America, and the process by which they rate every movie you've ever watched. Like movies? Than you'll like this look behind the curtain of the ratings system you've seen and followed all your life.
Don't worry, it's not a dry doc pic, the director/writer fills the movie with many directors commenting on their experiences with the review board, and even hires a private detective to help expose the secret members of the MPAA. It's really kind of startling how much we take the system for granted, especially in light of what's exposed here. And, as a creator of media myself, this certainly hits close to home.
ZOOM: ACADEMY FOR SUPERHEROES - Okay, this isn't a good movie by any stretch of the imagination. It's not even a good superhero movie. Zoom is uninspired, and while pretty to look at, oddly lifeless, the director knows how to set up a shot, but gets zero out of the cast and straightforward seen-it-all-before story.
There's more than one god-awful montage, Tim Allen not even bothering to phone it in, and a predictability factor that's off the scale, BUT, but, if you like comic books, you'll find some fun to be had here. Cheap, pretty, boring, lifeless, fun, but hey, comics were disposable entertainment once, so just pretend this is a 20 cent miss from the spinner rack...
ON THE RADAR RECOMMENDATIONS
(The more mainstream fair most folks, if not all, have already heard of):
BORAT - What is there to say about Borat? It's worth checking out for the heaping helping of deleted scenes (including a hilarious Baywatch spoof), and the promo tour video...
THE PRESTIGE - There were two nicely filmed turn of the century magician movies last fall, and THE PRESTIGE was the best of the two. Directed by Christopher Nolan (he of MOMENTO, and BATMAN BEGINS) with much of the cast from Batman Begins (the impressive Christian Bale returns along with the always superb Michael Caine), but where I felt Nolan was lost in a hopelessly overrated blockbuster with BB, here he's on his A-game and knocks it out of the park. Simply superb!
THE DEPARTED - You don't need me to tell you how great this is, or the Oscars, see it for yourself! A great movie!
FLUSHED AWAY - I really wasn't looking forward to this, it was lost amongst a sea of CG animation flooding the box office, and was from studio Aardman, makers of Wallace and Grommit, of which I'm not too smitten, but it was excellently animated, finely written, and zipped along a great pace. Very good!
THE LAST KISS - Another I didn't care to see, I enjoy Braf, and liked his Garden State, but this seemed too similar. While it is VERY similar in tone to GS, it is fun to watch, with a solid expansive cast, and believable real life love story (similar to Vaughan & Aniston's more comedic take on the darker side of romance, The Breakup)...