Monthly Archives: March 2013

                           Juan of the Dead                                  

Juan1 Juan2


Senseless and silly, but with a goofy kind of charm, Juan presents zombies invading Cuba with the fate of the country left to a small band of ragtag Havanans.   The zombies are rumored to be part of a nefarious plot by the United States (the walking dead are referred to as “dissidents”), but this movie is much too wacky and good-natured to concern itself with politics.  Release:  2011  Grade:  B





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For most of its two hours, Cache is a gripping drama.  Someone is secretly taping events and places related to a French family, then sending the videos and disturbing letters to the increasingly paranoid parents.  And now I’m going to break a cardinal rule and give away the film’s resolution:  There isn’t one.  I spoil the ending because there’s a difference between thought-provoking enigma and simple cop-out.  Cache, by failing to provide answers to its central mystery, is a frustrating tease.  Release:  2005  Grade:  B




Fast Times at Ridgemont High



It’s choppy and unpolished, but there’s a good reason that Ridgemont is a high-school comedy classic.  Amy Heckerling’s film (scripted by Cameron Crowe) features one unforgettable character after another.  Sean Penn’s pot-fried Spicoli is legendary, and many a male has freeze-framed Phoebe Cates’s, uh, poolside charms, but repeat viewings are a hoot thanks to Ray Walston, Judge Reinhold, and too many others to mention here.  This ain’t no Porky’s; yes, there are sophomoric hijinks, but there are also moments of genuine heart.  Release:  1982  Grade:  A-




                                 The Searchers

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Psst … don’t tell Searchers fans like Martin Scorsese, Curtis Hanson, or pretty much any critic who votes in “best of” lists that I’m saying this, but John Ford’s famous western is — at least in some respects — badly dated, with some truly cornball acting and key scenes that don’t ring true.  The movie does, however, showcase John Wayne at his orneriest and some spectacular outdoor photography shot at Utah’s Monument Valley.  Release:  1956  Grade:  B




                             Zero Dark Thirty

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The first 90 minutes of Kathryn Bigelow’s docudrama aren’t so much about the hunt for Osama bin Laden as they are about the hunt for bin Laden’s courier — an interesting, but not particularly compelling, historical footnote.  The other problem with Zero is Jessica Chastain, an actress who lacks the strength of personality to convince as the tenacious CIA agent who locates the infamous terrorist.  Claire Danes does this sort of thing much better on Homeland.  But the climactic raid on bin Laden’s compound is tense and worth the wait.  Release:  2012  Grade:  B


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Oscars Wrap-Up


Adele picked up an Oscar for her song from the movie Skyfall.  I’m thinking of calling the picture above, with Adele towering over Kristin Chenoweth, “Sunblock.”




Lending a touch of glamour to the proceedings, Oscar winners Jennifer Lawrence, above left, and Anne Hathaway, right, posed for photographers after the big show.




I guess that when you have two gay guys producing the Academy Awards telecast, there is no way to avoid god-awful musical productions, but geez.  Perhaps they thought they were throwing a bone to heterosexual men with their “We Saw Your Boobs” number (above), but even that fell … uh, flat.




It takes a lot to steal the show from Adele, who sang the Oscar-winning “Sunblock,” but Barbra Streisand (“The Way We Were”) and especially Shirley Bassey (above, belting out “Goldfinger”) managed to do just that.




Thank God that poor, downtrodden Ben Affleck got an Oscar so that we can all relax and stop feeling sorry for him.  Ben was inspirational when he told us how life had been a struggle for him, but that we should all follow his example and just keep on fighting.  And when the cameras cut to Ben’s movie-star wife shedding movie-star tears in the audience, I had to reach for some tissues.  Well, OK, so it wasn’t a tissue, but brown barf-bags are also made from trees.




Quotes of the Week:


“At the time you were kissing Mr. Burns’s lips, did you know he was dead or not?” — prosecutor’s question for Jodi Arias at her murder trial on Monday.


The topic on Wednesday’s Red Eye was working from home.  Bill Schulz said, “The alone time does tend to make one odd … you watch a lot of weird stuff.”  Yes, like Red Eye at 2 o’clock in the morning on Wednesday.






I’m having trouble following this “Blade Runner” business in Australia, possibly because it’s taking place in South Africa, not Australia.  The “Blade Runner,” legless Oscar Pistorius, is on trial for killing a model.  First, we got the shocking news that the trial prosecutor will also be tried for homicide.  Then we were again coldcocked, this time with reports that Pistorius’s brother will also be tried for homicide.  I fully expect to hear, any day now, that the judge is accused of some murderous rampage.





Apparently, we were all supposed to be wowed over the retirement of that Catholic creep in Rome.  Why this pedophile protector isn’t moving out of the Vatican and into a prison cell is the real story, but you’d never guess that from fawning media coverage.




Lots of exciting news at The Huffington Post.  They still have an opening for a proofreader, and secondly … well, here is my hopeful post in their comments section:









At some point, haven’t we all?


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Cold Sweat is one of those horror flicks in which people constantly do illogical and stupid things — like hiding where the bad guys can (or should) find them, or failing to locate the front door — and in which the plot degenerates from the implausible to the silly to batshit crazy.  But because director Adrian Garcia Bogliano is on top of his game, bringing energy, mischief, and style to his movie, Cold is eminently watchable.

Bogliano has said that he wanted to lace his horror with a little history, reminding young Argentineans that there are real-life bad guys walking the streets of their country:  aging holdovers from a military dictatorship that conducted a reign of terror in Argentina dating to the 1970s.  To that end, the villains in Cold are — I’m guessing you haven’t seen this before — two geezers living in a ramshackle house in the heart of Buenos Aires.




And what sort of skullduggery are these deranged coots up to?  “Catfishing,” of all things.  Locating young, attractive women on the Internet, the codgers lure these gullible girls to their creepy abode, sprinkle a nitroglycerine derivative onto their bodies, and then force them to … solve math formulas on a chalkboard!  (Please refer here to the opening sentence of this review, i.e., people doing stupid and illogical things.)

It’s nonsensical, but if you’re willing to simply absorb Cold Sweat on a visceral level, it’s a fast-moving hoot.  Bogliano knows how to pace a thriller, and visually his movie resembles The Texas Chainsaw Massacre redone as music video.


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Oh, and I’d be remiss if I didn’t credit Bogliano with one of the more creative means of getting an actress to go nude:  Apparently, once your body is sprinkled with an ultra-sensitive nitroglycerin derivative, your wisest survival course is to completely disrobe.  I did mention the words “stupid” and “illogical,” did I not?       Grade:   C+


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Director:  Adrian Garcia Bogliano   Cast:  Facundo Espinosa, Marina Glezer, Camila Velasco, Omar Musa, Omar Gioiosa, Noelia Vergini, Daniel de la Vega, Victoria Witemburg   Release:  2010






                                               Watch the Trailer  (click here)





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