Thursday, March 31, 2011
The worlds of computer generated animation and blaxploitation might seem like strange bedfellows, but strange bedfellows sometimes bear beautiful (or at least very interesting) children. Guillaume Ivernel's Soul Man is just such an unusual offspring. It’s a sci-fi actioner with a sassy vixen in the vein of Cleopatra Jones or Coffy as its protagonist. Blacklight Movies has put together a minute long promo/teaser to generate interest for the project.
Wednesday, March 30, 2011
Modern blockbusters have become increasingly complacent, offering action sequences that are often satisfied by meeting the bare minimum rather going that extra mile to truly wow audience. Thankfully, there are a number of talented individuals that continue their grind below Hollywood’s radar. These unsung heroes have to be inventive and resourceful, as they do not have the benefit of exorbitant budgets and big name stars. Such limitations, when placed on those who are truly talented and dedicated, can be a blessing in disguise. They sometimes result in some true gems emerging from the underground.
Monday, March 28, 2011
Baby Doll (Emily Browning) makes a desperate attempt to rescue her sister from the hands of their incestuous father. Her mission ends tragically, landing her in a nightmarish mental institution where she is immediately scheduled for a lobotomy by a corrupt orderly. In order to cope with the hopelessness of her situation, Baby Doll retreats into an elaborate fantasy world of her own design.
Saturday, March 26, 2011
When I interviewed Kantz a while back, (click here to read the interview) he spoke of creating a "hybrid film" that merged the genres of horror and martial arts. At the time it sounded a bit odd to me, but I had conveniently forgotten how popular video games such as the Resident Evil series had been combining elements of horror and action successfully over the last fifteen years. Then there are the many recent zombie films that casually alternate between guns and fists as a means of dispatching the undead. At this point, the inclusion of martial arts into that mix would be a natural evolution.
Action films are an undervalued form, often dismissed by cineastes and film critics. They aren’t considered “real movies” by the intelligentsia, since so many of them forgo the basics of cinematic storytelling in favor of empty spectacle. Modern action films of the super expensive variety have even become inept in regards to the extravaganza. Modern fight scenes and shoot outs are often a nonsensical clash of sound and fury, lacking anything in the way of coherence. By contrast, lower budget action extravaganzas have become much more adept at delivering the “money shots.” Fights are choreographed, shot and edited in a way that delivers on the thrills while still being understandable to a mass audience.
Friday, March 18, 2011
Like the mythical Sasquatch, underground phenomenon Pharaohe Monche rarely makes an above ground appearance. Fortunately, he has returned from self imposed exile to deliver his junior solo set, W.A.R (We Are Renegades). This time out, Monche has fashioned his vision into a desperate broadcast meant to wake a nation out of its collective apathy. A feeling of urgency informs the entire album. It alternates between two different modes of message delivery: serene and disruptive.
Tuesday, March 15, 2011
In the world of Mixed Martial Arts, concentrating in a single form of combat isn’t enough. One has to be versatile and well-schooled in many different disciplines. A combatant that specializes too much in a given style could find himself at a disadvantage in the ring or the cage. He who fails to adapt, evolve, and capitalize on any given opportunity will eventually die an unceremonious death. That same philosophy holds true in the entertainment business. You can’t be a one trick pony. The stars that shine the brightest and the longest are the ones with many shades and layers to their onscreen persona.
Monday, March 14, 2011
After being killed by an oncoming subway train, Kei Kurono (Kazunari Ninomiya) and Masaru Kato (Kenichi Matsuyama) awaken in the afterlife, or so they think. They come to in an unfurnished room surrounded by others who have also been killed in various ways. At the far end of the room lie a mystical black orb that identifies itself simply as “Gantz.” Gantz instructs all present that they are to track down and terminate an extraterrestrial target in an allotted time period. To aid them in their mission, Gantz equips each of them with high tech weaponry and equipment. This scenario is repeated nightly, and functions as a game of sorts. Every time a target is destroyed, Gantz doles out the requisite number of points to all “players” for their participation. The first “player to reach the century mark can either earn their freedom or bring a loved one back from the dead.
Tuesday, March 8, 2011
There was a brief but shining moment when the best rap videos were visual and descriptive. They were usually best suited to songs that told vivid stories. “Clap (one day),” the lead single from Pharoahe Monch’s upcoming album W.A.R(We Are Renegades), comes accompanied by striking video that would have surely generated controversy in an earlier era. It shows just how much Pharoahe Monch has always stood out from his contemporaries. He doesn’t care about generating controversy, only about conveying potent messages through compelling music.
In the modern era, artistic freedom and financial independence are inextricably linked. Seeking acceptance and funding from the powers that be can lead to a form of indentured servitude. Those in charge won’t let anything offset the balance of power, but they will dole out a few crumbs to appease the peasants. Knowing this, the more ambitious members of the creative community have chosen other means to see their artistic visions realized. They often have to do so with minimal resources at their disposal, but in the long run it’s worth it. When you aren’t beholden to corporate benefactors, your vision can be presented to the public as it was originally intended.
Saturday, March 5, 2011
In the wake of Celestial Pictures acquisition of the Shaw Brothers catalog, my cinematic horizons have broadened considerably. I had always associated the studio with highly entertaining but undeniably B-level filmmaking. After doing some research over the past few years, I now realize that their extensive library was quite varied. After interviewing a talanted filmmaker named Kantz, who happens to be an ardent fan of Shaw Brothers chief cinematic architect Chang Cheh, I was inspired to reconsider Changs work. I’m glad I did, because I have discovered a real gem that makes one hell of an argument for his talents as a filmmaker. It’s called “Vengeance!”
Straight from the slums of Shaolin, Raekwon the Chef has cooked up another eclectic stew of pop culture references and old school NYC street wisdom with Shaolin vs. Wu-Tang. Named after the classic chopsocky, Raekwon’s latest is the follow up to the surprisingly well received Only Built 4 Cuban Linx... Pt. II. In following up the original Cuban Linx, Rae suffered horribly from a severe case of the sophomore slump. Is Shaolin vs. Wu-Tang an epic blunder on par with 1999’s Immobilarity, or is it able to match the quality of its immediate predecessor?