Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Quick Review: Gravity

I decided on a shorter review because I don't believe there's much I can say the world hasn't already said. This movie won just about every technical award at the Oscars this year so we already know it looks and sounds good. Also it's been getting crazy high praise. Something I was worried about going in. As a matter of fact I wish I saw this when it first came out before the hype set in. Mostly because I had a strong interest in it before it exploded on the world like it was the greatest movie since last years greatest movie. So with that said I did go into this movie where I did have legitimate interest, but post Oscar buzz was still settled in forcing on me higher expectations than I should have.

First thing I'll get out of the way is the most obvious. This movie is freaking gorgeous. It is so well put together visually that I can understand why it got so many technical awards. I specifically rented the blu-ray because I knew it would benefit the experience as a whole to have that HD experience along for the ride. Dang near every single shot was jaw droppingly gorgeous whether it's a shot of the Earth or of one of the astronauts themselves. Which brings me to the cinematography which was just about equally brilliant. The style was much smoother than other modern movies. Even many of the serious dramas will adapt that jerky handheld style with lots of quick cuts. Something I am not a fan of because it can be jarring and even confusing. Not in this case. The camera movement felt like it too was experiencing zero gravity. Providing a unique experience otherwise not seen in most modern titles. All in all the visual experience of this movie was top notch.

But at the same time there were moments where I felt it looked too good, if that makes any sense. I know this movie relied heavily, heck almost entirely on green screens so there's going to be a large element of artificial visuals. And again for the most part it looked great, but other times there was too much and so much of it felt too smooth and polished. It looked so realistic that it looked unrealistic resulting in something I felt the Transformers movies got a gold metal in, keeping everything as good looking as possible but also trying to be damaged and gritty as possible. It's a stark contrast that just doesn't work if you ask me. Look at it this way. Think of the old Star Wars movies. They have an element of nature to them where people actually get dirty, stains are left, things look like they actually got beat up. But then in the prequels everything glimmers, even the grimey stuff like it just went through the car wash with multiple turtle wax finishes just before entering the camera. It adds a glimmer that frankly takes away from the already beautiful experience that would look better if it looked worse.

I did like the length of the movie. Usually for these sorts of stories it's good to have a short run time because if you try to extend the plot of, "literally lost in space" or anything like that past the standard feature length run time it can drag on a bit. I remember when the indie horror thriller Open Water came out back in the early 2000s. I was excited cause it sounded terrifying. Two scuba divers are accidentally left behind in the middle of shark infested waters. Finally saw the movie on DVD after it's brief theatrical run but even at it's incredibly short length of 79 minutes the movie was a drag to get through because it clearly didn't know what to do with itself to make it last longer an remain engaging. Gravity knew how to remain engaging for a good length. If this was any longer then it would have seemed too long.

But again my feelings are conflicted. I almost with it was a tad longer but for different reasons. It was definitely one of those "everything that can go wrong will go wrong" movies. So much so that the second something good happens to Sandy Bullock something bad has to happen within the next couple minutes. For the first half of the movie or so I was okay with this since it was setting up the main plot. They even had some moments of calm to show the passage of time and some more elements of realism within the story. Even character development (which wound up being 'meh' at best). But in the second half too much was happening too fast for it to feel realistic. It felt rushed. I wish there was just a quick additional minute or two to show that there wasn't an issue the very second she moved to the next place. Maybe a little tease that something might go right before something goes wrong. Then it would actually look more realistic than her being a bad luck charm.

I did still find this to be a positive experience. I love this kind of sci-fi over the waaaaaay in the future sci-fi that fantasy nerds usually love to death. It was a very tense experience, wondering what could happen next to this poor woman. Not to mention the beautiful imagery mixed with the brilliant cinematography gave the feeling of unease and disorientation one would experience when literally lost in space where it's not as simple as up is up and down is down. I do wish I went out and saw this in the IMAX when I had the chance. I even had a second chance when it was re-released just before the Oscars but I never got around to it. And this may be the only time I'll ever say this but... I kinda wish I saw in it 3D, too. This movie has one of the highest 3D praises I've ever heard. A tech I'm normally very against because I feel it doesn't really add anything. And don't get me wrong, this movie can and will have to live through the ages of standing on it's own in a non-IMAX and non-3D (unless you've got 3D blu-ray) format. Cause in the end it's still a good movie. Oscar worthy? In technical features yes but I would hardly call this one of the best movies of 2013. But is that my deepest, most honest opinion or is that post Oscar buzz bringing me down? Would I have liked it more if I saw it before the Oscar buzz? Would I have liked Slumdog Millionaire less after the Oscar buzz in the same sort of way? Can never really tell because there were years where I adored the nominations after the hype (The Artist) and felt there were better winners for certain years as well. But I'm also the type of person who doesn't like things shoved down his throat. It's something I am immediately turned off by so I'm sure my opinion may have been warped when the Oscar buzz came around with this movie. Does this mean I won't like 12 Years a Slave if I ever get around to it? What about Captain Phillips or American Hustle?

Anyway, this is a good movie and I think you should see it. Just please don't anticipate to be as blown away by it as the academy seemed to be. Is that really a surprise review?

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Review: The Purge

Version I Watched: Standard definition Redbox rental.

History: Very little and mostly very basic information on the movie. It was made using a very small budget of $3 million. The writer/director James DeMonaco supposedly got the idea after his wife made a comment about a moment of road rage he had. It premiered at the Stanley Film Festival, a horror fest based in Estes Park, Colorado with a mainstream theatrical release a month later. Despite having mixed to negative reviews the movie was a big success. Pulling in nearly $90 million worldwide. A sequel will be released later this year and will cover a couple who has to survive the streets after their car breaks down at the start of the purge.

Personal History: First time viewing. I actually never even saw a trailer. Just screenshots, posters, and a plot description.

Review: So I meant to watch this movie a long time ago. This, along with The Conjuring, both came out around the same time. Unlike most horror that comes out (despite it being my favorite genre) I had an intense interest in both titles. But I have still not seen The Conjuring and am only seeing The Purge now.
I did have different plans for the day I rented this. I was going to rent Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes but as of the morning of release there's not a single Redbox in my area that is carrying it. In the entire Madison, WI, and surrounding areas. It'll probably take a few days or more like South Park: The Stick of Truth. I also was thinking of cancelling my pre-order of Frozen in favor of running out to the stores and picking it up right away instead of waiting for it to come in the mail (I originally pre-ordered cause I didn't know how hard it would be to pick up in stores due to popularity and how available I would have been) but Amazon wasn't able to cancel it since it was shipping soon at the time (currently in transit somewhere in AZ I think). I'd rather not go through the return process with an online ordering service. So then I remembered the trailers I saw when I went to see Non-Stop last night (a pretty cool thriller that was a step above average, not mind blowing, but had a good intense climate you already saw a preview of in the trailer). Among them was The Purge: Anarchy. And you see where this is going.
But one last note on that. My wife had never heard of The Purge so in the trailer to the sequel when they said, "All crime, including murder, will be legal for the next 12 hours." her jaw dropped and it was hilarious!

I absolutely love the plot of this movie!
That was my thought when I first heard about it. If you really look at the genre as a whole you'll find that it is one of the most creative storytelling around. Despite there being thousands of scary bad guy/monster slash fests you'll find that some of the ones that are considered the most popular or best really have more variety than other genres. And that's because the fans who become the filmmakers are able to pull their ideas together with relative ease seeing as horror needs less money than others. Not to mention the cheapness likens to lesser known actors, which in turn helps the genre because really want to be scared, you need to be pulled in without that constant star recognition.
Well now, this movie does have a pretty (somewhat) famous dude. The big star is Ethan Hawke. Someone who hasn't exactly had major roles that people remember since... wait, what do people remember him from? Training Day? Lord of War? Maybe Gattaca? Come to think of it I don't have a key movie I recall him from but I do remember seeing him in stuff here and there. That was before I saw Sinister. Whenever I see him or hear his name I immediately think of Sinister. Or, as I like to call it, one of the biggest and best surprises in horror in the last decade! Yes, I rank it up there with Paranormal Activity and The Devil's Rejects. I fucking loved Sinister!
Not that Ethan Hawke will make or break my liking for this moving.

The movie does start off in a pretty typical modern horror fashion. It takes the opening credits to showcase information we won't get just watching the main story of the movie. In this case we get to see archived footage from the previous purges. These are all rough security camera footage of beatings and murder most fowl. It was pretty neat to see considering the fact that I knew the whole movie would take place in one home instead of around the city. Then the movie does something most movies do. Establish the main characters quickly and get right to the main story that we all came to see. We find out the dad is a successful security system salesman (no surprise considering the plot), the wife is his... wife, the daughter is sorta rebellious (but not really) and has a hidden boyfriend, and the son is the weird one who plays with Frankensteined gadgets and has some sort of heart condition that requires him to check his vitals often even though it doesn't come up again or becomes an issue in the movie (spoilers).
Okay so the characters aren't exactly memorable but there was something key I got from this part of the movie. First, this story takes place in 2022. The movie was released in 2013 but let's assume the basis was to be ten years in the future. So this annual purge. A twelve hour period where all crime is legal, including murder, with no law enforcement or emergency services available until dawn. It is so well established in this future world that everyone just walks, talks, and acts like it's totally normal. They'll said stuff like (not exact quotes):
"Going out for one more walk before the purge?"
"Yeah." [Smiles]
"You take care of yourself tonight."
"You, too!"
That's the kind of small talk you make on St Patty's Day (relevant, recent reference) because it's 'soooo crazy' that you 'might not make it through the night.' But this is referencing something where hundred, hell THOUSANDS of people will die and the fucking government is okay with that! AS ARE THE PEOPLE! At least the rich ones.

I'm a big fan of contextual scares. And what I mean by that is that while I find stuff like the masks in this movie creepy, or some of the violence in other horror unsettling, to me what is the scariest is the context of what's going on. Not just the fact that there's a scary bad guy or that someone might die. I'm talking deeper than that. It makes me think of a scene in the Japanese horror movie Suicide Club. There's a scene on the rooftop of a school where a bunch of teens are talking about suicide like it's a fad. Not to mention there's a part when a student is standing on the edge of the school gleefully screaming, "I'm gonna do it!" and all the other kids are cheering her on like it's a fucking sports game. It's a really unsettling moment that gives me chills because it is taking something as serious and sad as suicide and making it seem... fun?
Going back to The Purge. All the way through the first act of the movie all I could think about was how unsettling it is that people are not only okay with this annual purge but they embrace it. They talk about how much it helps the economy. How low unemployment and crime is now. Because all the low lives are dead! ALLLLLLL thanks to this annual event. It's talked about like people talk about politics they like. No there are no moments where we see the typical anti-purge group like in any movie where there's a controversial law or anything of the like in place. That I was happy to not see because that goes without saying. But even when THE HAWKE and his family are in the thick of it, it takes time before he sees the reason why a purge isn't exactly a great method of handling the problem with the economy. He keeps saying it works and that they need to just get through the night.

One of my concerns when I first heard about this movie was if the movie would start out unique only to delve into a very typical horror, slasherish story. That's not entirely true for this one. Mostly because the plot of the movie gave a different feel to the story as a whole. Usually in other stories if there's a killer on the loose there's the concern of being caught. Not here. Everything is considered legal so there are no punishments for these actions. And while the more supernatural horror like Nightmare and Friday the 13th have that non-worry about the killer being caught by the cops, this feels different because of how nothing is supernatural here. What resulted in that was I kept reminding myself of that whenever I felt things may have been going in a typical fashion. I kept reminding myself the context which this was happening.
So yes, unfortunately there were some cliches throughout and definitely some issues I had with how things played out. The opening setting up the world, fantastic. The one dumb thing done to establish the horror I could deal with because there would be next to no horror if it weren't for people doing stupid shit. But as the third acting got going and Hawke's home was being full on invaded and it turned into a war zone it starting diving into cliche and predictability. With the exception of the end. An end that started as what looked like deus ex machina but quickly turned into something else. Not mind blowingly different but a nice departure from where it was heading.

So while some of the story itself played out cliche and predictable, I will say the antagonist had a strong level of uniqueness. Shortly after Hawke's dumb kid lets in a random, hurting bum, not knowing whether or not he was safe to have in there (take a guess) because he was pleading for help a gang of misfits show up at Hawke's door. This gang shows up trigger happy all wearing creepy masks which made this movie feel something like a more political/legal version of The Strangers. At first I was disappointed when the leader revealed his real face cause I like the mystery. But that quickly changed when he revealed himself more, his intentions and so forth but everyone else kept their masks on. They knew which character to personalize and the rest we all knew as goons helping out.
This bit creeped me out, going along with the whole contextual scare. The leader of this rag-tag team didn't have that "Nyah nyah nyah I'm so delightfully eeeeEEEEEEvill" approach, nor did he have the "I WILL FUCKING KILL YOU IF YOU DON'T GIVE ME WHAT I WANT!" or even the putting down, elitist approach like Hawke and his family are simpletons who are in their way. No. He spoke very diplomatically. Like this was a political situation. And his demands were simple. He wanted the bum given back so they can do the purpose of the purge by eliminating the lowest common denominator in society, otherwise they'll break in and kill the bum along with the entire family. All spoken very soft and even professional with just a sprinkle of sadistic attitude. It gave good character. And it was a character we only ever saw from Hawke's perspective. We never see any cutaway to the outside and see things from the bad guy perspective. A good omission because it would hurt the mystery of these characters.

Despite the good character and the good turns the otherwise potentially cliche story could have taken (and partially did) I did have some thoughts on the plot in the grand scheme of things.
Let's say we do live in a world where an annual purge is real. How long would that sort of thing last? I get the impression it's a survival of the fittest in terms of wealth because they're the ones who can afford the best weapons or best security systems. So it's the homeless and poor who would be the target. If this has been going on for ten years with potentially hundreds of thousands of deaths a year wouldn't there come a breaking point where they run out of people? And would it really take that long? And how long could some of these weaker citizens hide out before they are struck? And come to think of it, I imagine there's a lot of resourceful people who aren't rich. Smart but poor folks who can trick the richer folks in this sick, government approved game. And wouldn't there be enough of the poorer folks to rise up against the rich and totally ambush the rich neighborhoods? One would think that'd be the first place many would go out of hatred rather than the thrill of the kill. Even if they all have state of the art security systems. I don't know maybe that was done in the first couple years and things have changed since then.
When one really thinks about the numbers, the methods of madness people utilize, and so forth it's hard to believe that the purge would go down the way it did in the movie. But of course that is an isolated incident so who knows what was happening in the other homes, let alone major city they live just outside of. An answer that will apparently be answered in the sequel The Purge: Anarchy. A sequel I'm worrisome about due to the fact that they're taking it to a larger scale. Not saying it will definitely be bad. The fact that it's being directed by the same director is a good sign. I'm just afraid it'll be less of a scary, claustrophobic thriller/horror story and instead feel more like Escape From New York. Not exactly the image I'm thinking of when I think about this movie but the story does lend itself to that sort of setting without actually being an island prison.

Overall I did enjoy this flawed gem. The scares were mostly in the context of the story and the way the characters handled it. Especially when they spoke of it so soft and normal like it was just something that happens. Sure there are other stories like The Hunger Games which turns killing into a sport, but that story and setting is so far advanced and in a different time and place that it disconnects. This is a story set essentially in our era, which makes it far scarier to imagine. All I could think about watching this movie is if I was at home during the purge and someone just broke in to shoot me in the head. It made for a far scarier experience with that intense immersion and really thinking about what's going on and placing yourself in that situation in a not so distant future. While flawed I still recommend it to most of you. Even in a time where I have been making my DVD purchases less often and only on titles I really want, I would definitely buy this one to add to my collection. Totally enjoyed it.

Monday, March 10, 2014

The 2014 Oscars: An Uninvested View

Last year I did do a big write up on the show the academy put together. However this year it is not going to be as big. Why? One simple reason: Lack of investment.
It wasn't lack of investment in the show. Like many of you I always enjoy watching regardless of who the nominees are because it'll typically be a pretty entertaining ceremony. Can't exactly say I was in it 100% back in the day when movies like Iris and Gosford Park were getting a lot of buzz when I was in 8th grade. Still that was before my perspective on film as an art form changed and I got more into many different titles than just the mainstream crap I was watching at the time. In my adulthood I usually am able to keep up with at least some of the titles based on what I'm interested in and not who is and who isn't nominated. I was ready to get sucked into the world of Gravity long before the critics and academy were jumping all over it. Yet somehow this year I managed to not see a single movie nominated for best picture. Which is completely polar opposite of the 2007 Oscars where not only did I see all the best picture nominations, I saw them all in theatres.

As a matter of fact despite seeing a lot of popular titles last year these are the only ones I saw that were nominated (In some sort of back assward order I see them listed on wikipedia):
-The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (Nominated for Best Visual Effects, Sound Editing, and Sound Mixing)
-Iron Man 3 (Nom for Best Visual Effects)
-Star Trek Into Darkness (Nom for Best Visual Effects)
-All Is Lost (Nom for Best Sound Editing)
-Despicable Me 2 (Nom for Best Original Song)
-Saving Mr. Banks (Nom for Best Original Score)
-Get a Horse! (Nom for Best Animated Short)
And of course the movie I will not stop loving as long as I live:
-Frozen (Nominated and WON for Best Animated Feature and Best Original Song)

A list mostly consisting of fun or exciting movies instead of intense and dramatic like the academy usually goes for. Frankly I'm still surprised I haven't seen a lot of what was nominated yet. Like I stated earlier I've been wanting to see Gravity for a while. Also I remember seeing a couple trailers for American Hustle and thought I could get into it. Then lastly while I wasn't interested in Wolf of Wall Street at first, but once I finally saw a trailer to it I was excited to get to it. So it's not for lack of interest in the movies. That's definitely not it. Not seeing a lot of the nominees does make my "credibility" as an artsy fartsy film fan (as depressing this is to say) go down a little bit... or so it seems. But I'll take the romance over the pretentiousness. I saw all the above movies, with the exception of All is Lost, with my wife. And like most movies I've seen in theatres the last few years it has been with her making them dates over artistic experiences. Which is fine, even better in fact. We see good movies. Movies I'd see anyway whether it is in theatres or not. I also don't have as much free time or money on my hands as I used to dropping the number of movie going experiences down a bit, limiting some of the more "Me only" titles to infrequent lone visits (Sometimes going alone is the best!) or renting via Red Box/Netflix/VOD.

With that explanation done and over with onto the actual show.
I did not watch the red carpet, pre-show interviews/dress commentary. I've never had an interest over the years even though I have watched it before. To me the show is the... well... the show itself. So no commentary on the red carpet.
The first thing, of course, we're introduced to at the Oscars is the host. This year was Ellen DeGeneres. I wouldn't say I was disappointed in this decision. I've just never personally been a fan. I know a lot of people like her which shows in her popularity with her TV show. I've never been a fan of her comedy but I don't hate her either. My go to example that is crazy obvious is Finding Nemo. Like most I did enjoy Nemo. And I would even say I liked Dory, thinking the character was pretty funny. Not as hilarious as most people thought. There were many times when I was annoyed by Dory and part of it was Ellen's delivery. Sure she's fun and goofy, but it gets old to me after a while. I was neither angry or excited by the host this year. Despite my normal lack of enthusiasm for Ellen I did enjoy her hosting performance a lot. I found myself charmed by her personality and plenty of the jokes were really funny. It wasn't bombastically huge in skits like last year with Seth MacFarlane but that's okay. Not every year can have a skit to the hilarious level of "We Saw Your Boobs." There was one bit this year that really stuck with me as I'm sure it did to many.
Between awards Ellen would walk up and down the aisle talking to all the different celebs. One bit in particular she was asking if anyone was hungry and if she should order a pizza. At first I thought it was a cute bit that gave me a little chuckle, if not trying too hard to be funny in a way. Then a couple of awards later an actual pizza guy shows up and they start handing slices out in the first few rows! I thought this was an excellent follow up to a goofy joke. It was a nice and unexpected twist to what could have easily been passed off as a cheap, simple joke of "Man! This show is so long! I bet you guys are hungry!"

In terms of the ceremony itself there were a few odd choices.
I see the continuing tradition of making Best Supporting Actor be the first award is sticking. Not a bad idea. I think it keeps people interested from the start instead of going through the technical and less admired awards go first. I almost think it would be a good idea to mix them up even more. That way we don't go from one cool award to 4-6 less exciting rewards just to get to a decent award followed up with another cool one. Maybe have the best supporting actor, then best shorts, then maybe animated (cause there is a big enough audience for that), go back to another technical, then BOOM! Best Supporting Actress. I think it may help get people to watch the entire show than just a few short chunks.
The other odd choice was the montages and things they're honoring. Of course they always do the cutaway to the other ceremonies and awards outside of the main show. That I've come to expect. But what was with the hero montage? What was the occasion? What was the reason for showing a seemingly random set of clips to movies with all kinds of heroes? They never did a follow up or even commentary on the subject matter before or after. They just came out and... oh look... a montage. The did the same with animation. Don't get me wrong, animation is one of the coolest things done in movies, but why? And it was handled like the animation thing. There was no special reason aside from "ANIMATION IS AWESOME!" Well I already knew that. You could have freed up a couple minutes of that time for something else much more worth looking at for a special reason. What I don't know. But those felt very unecessary in the end.
Speaking of unecessary... why are we feeling the need to take time out to honor The Wizard of Oz? Sure it is a classic that has withstood the test of time. And yes it was the 75th anniversary... but why? An anniversary that comes out to a nice to look at number is good for a home video re-release but we don't need to take time out of a once a year show that is already reeeeeeeally long to honor it. Everyone in the audience both there and at home have seen it and/or know it's impact on film as a whole. And yes, 75 years, that's a long time. Just tell me why Pink gets to come out on stage and sing the entire song of Over the Rainbow from a movie that is almost a century old. Yet Idina Menzel only gets to sing a short version of Let it Go. A song that is up for the Oscar that freaking night making it really relevant for her to sing that song over the ten billionth cover of an old song!

Oh yeah... Adele Dazeem... that was pretty funny. I wonder what kind of shit John Travolta caught backstage after that one.

The whole show did feel like a bit of a mess. More than just Travolta messing up, too. There were times where Ellen was very poorly timed with her cues. Other times when her bits with the celeb audience just wasn't working. And I know it's live so mess ups are going to happen, but some of the speeches were so lazy and unprofessional. They lost their spot so bad they had to bring attention to it. Then going back to the way the show was arranged it all felt so sloppy. Even the speeches weren't as memorable as last year.
Last year I felt there were a lot of great acceptance speeches. An exceptional year. Many were quick and straight to the point while also heartfelt. Except Tarantino. He was kinda a pretentious douche in his. But this year they were very uneven. Granted you can't expect them all to be a similar level, but c'mon. Whatever happened to playing them off like in the old days? Some people you let go on and on and on and on. Like Jared Leto, first win of the night. He just kept going and going. I get he wants to mention the theme of Dallas Buyers Club, having to do with the struggle of AIDS, but I'm pretty sure everyone in the audience knew about that so you didn't need to add the extensive detail that belongs at a fundraiser or something. Also I get you want to thank your mom and brother for being an inspiration. I just think you could have taken all that stuff and pulled it together to a nice, neat package that would have been even more impactful. A similar thing happened with Cate Blanchett toward the end. She just kept on going like she didn't care... and the director of the show didn't seem to care either cause they played off others earlier. It felt very uneven, and frankly unfair. I did enjoy Matthew McConaughey's speech. Again a little long, but more enjoyable than the rest.
Another sloppy bit is something I've had a problem with since they re-introduced it. Why... why do we need more than five nominees for best picture? It makes everything look so unbalanced. Majority of the categories are 5 nominees, some less, but best picture has turned into the politically correct version of an award show. It's like they want to make sure plenty are included so no one gets hurt. And it usually boils down to 2, maybe 3 different movies in the end. It was really obvious the year The King's Speech won, for example and this year was no different. Without having to see the movies I was figuring it was going to be either Gravity (the up and comer win), American Hustle (Oh c'mon it had Oscar bait all over it!), and 12 Years a Slave (which did win unsurprisingly). That leaves 6 more titles that didn't have a chance. If anything I would rather my movie was nominated against 4 others instead of 8. Getting a nomination against that many feels like you just got the participation award at a school sporting event. Like they said "You showed up and you were good enough." instead of "You are one of the elite!" Yes there were hundreds of movies released all over the world last year so being in that <1% is an honor. It also seems like it would be a slap in the face being the best picture nomination no one can remember. Cause the audience is only going to think of those top 2 or 3 at best.

Without seeing any of the movies this is my assumption of what the best picture nominations would have been if it was back down to 5 (in alphabetical order):
-12 Years a Slave
-American Hustle
-Dallas Buyers Club
-Wolf of Wall Street.

I may be off on one or two, but I think that's the way it would have gone.

This year wasn't exactly a memorable year. Keep in mind it wasn't that bad. It just wasn't anything to write home about. The jokes worked for the most part. There were some clever bits here and there. The awards were varied with the exception of Gravity taking everything technical, so it kept the show interesting and unpredictable. And Ellen was a wonderful guest who I wouldn't mind seeing again.
Still so much of it was sloppy and poorly produced. It is nowhere near as bad as the 2010 awards but that was an exceptionally bad and sloppy year with little to no redeeming value. Outside of very good choices for the winners. And while the selfie bit that literally broke twitter was fun... it's a one off joke that I can see being overly referenced or even re-attempted one day in another form. The birth of a new bad joke that started out fine that didn't need to be repeated.
If you watched it I hope you enjoyed it. Cause I did for the most part. I just wasn't that invested in the winners for reasons I already explained. Did I still have fun? Definitely. For a show that lasts so long I did get through it with little issue.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

The Second Disc: NC-17/Unrated Taboo

As the title suggests I am going to talk about films that are very explicit. Some of this explicit material is also on some of the posters. So if you're not up for reading about, or seeing some more intense material I suggest you turn back

I remember as a child the restrictions I had when it came to movies, books, and music (as any child should). My parents followed the ratings board very well aside from a few mis-judgements. Much like the time we went to go see Phone Booth in theatres when I was a couple years shy of 17 and all my mom talked on the way home was how horrible the language was. It wasn't always super duper strict when it came to the ratings, though. Many times they were able to use the common sense ratings. Depending on my age, maturity, as well as a few other factors. It would depend on how harsh the content could be and I may get to see a movie with a higher rating even though I'm not old enough based on the advice of the MPAA. So growing up there was a sense of taboo toward certain films because I knew there was a level of extremes I had never seen in film and hadn't grown accustom to. So whenever I would get the chance to see, for better examples, R rated films when I was 14 or 15 years old it gave me a rush of excitement. Not only did I feel like I was growing up but I was fascinated to see where these films would go that I hadn't seen before. Granted at the time some of these films were Freddy vs. Jason or Once Upon a Time in Mexico, films that aren't known for being controversial with the former more immature than anything else. I wouldn't say they were controversial to me, but they were a big deal. Seeing that much blood, nudity, and hearing that much swearing was a different world for me.
Over time and through a thought process like I was stating gave me a fascination toward the more controversial films that have come out over the years. I was curious to see where some of these films went where the films everyone was used to weren't going. Among the mainstream film audience you'll hear them talk about the insane violence of Saw or the vulgarity of South Park. But the difference between the mainstream material like that and the films I will be discussing have a strong disconnect. That disconnect comes rooted in the MPAA rating board.

Most people are familiar with the standard set of G, PG, PG-13, and R. Pretty simple, tells you what you need to know. The only rating that most people may not think of is the notorious NC-17 rating. The reason why is because this rating is known by many filmmakers and film producers as the kiss of death for marketing purposes. The reason why you'll never or rarely see an NC-17 playing at your local megaplex is because most won't carry them. Where I live we have five different local choices for seeing a flick. Three are the standard, mainstream cinema that has all the big new releases, one is a budget cinema that plays the old new release movies at a discounted price just before they hit DVD, and an arthouse cinema. I thank the Lord every day that I live in a city with an arthouse cinema because I get the chance to see the limited release films that wouldn't normally come my way. The last option is the only place in town I have ever seen in recent time screen an NC-17 film (That movie was Shame and I wouldn't be surprised if they pull together some screenings of Blue is the Warmest Color sometime soon). The only other times I've seen cinemas in this town screen NC-17 or equivalent (marketed as unrated) were theatres that are no longer open but were also arthouse.
So that brings me to the next option, unrated. The quick solution to not dealing with the MPAA is to go with no rating at all. This fixes very few problems since most (not all) of the same theatres won't carry unrated, either. I was amazed a few years ago when I saw AMC theatres were planning on carrying Hatched II unrated. I thought it was a step forward in allowing access to those who are interested in these films a chance to see them the way they're meant to be seen. Theatrically. However it only played for only a couple days before being mysteriously pulled.
Any way you look at it the rating and content of a film can and will determine it's success. And giving it a NC-17 or Unrated is still better than what was originally being used, X. The only time an X rating is given anymore is for pornos and the reason it was abandoned by ACTUAL FILM was because it has such a strong association with pornos. But anyway, many titles have been edited to get a lower rating but some stuck to their guns to maintain what their original intention was. So what I wanted to touch on were a few titles that hit me in this intense, controversial, and taboo sense of mind. The following films are like nothing I've seen before and opened me up to a whole different drug of film.

First up...

Cannibal Holocaust
Of all the films I'm focusing on in this one is probably the most popular. The only other one being potentially more popular is Caligula (which I'll cover immediately following this one) only because it's had a re-release within the last few years. But calling Cannibal Holocaust one of the most popular is also a term that I use loosely. It's not like your buddies who hang out and have movie nights in the girls dorm are going to be featuring this one any day now. I just know over time this one has been talked about and touched on more than the rest of these. Cannibal Holocaust is for the most part a found footage film. A genre that would be used again many years later in The Blair Witch Project and then reinvented in Paranormal Activity. Both of which are films that look cute compared to what Cannibal Holocaust did.
One way it is different is in subtly. While the more modern found footage films have a bit more of subtly by not showing things, making them scarier. Whether that's by artistic choice or for budgeting reasons you decide. This one is pretty balls to the wall insane with what it does in it's violence. It shows everything! And the violence in this is crazy intense for the time and even by today standards. This is because it all looks so realistic. So realistic that when it was first released the director was accused of killing people for the movie. Certainly not true but there's something else that makes my stomach turn. There are multiple animal deaths in this movie. And while you're watching it I guarantee that you will think to yourself how realistic the deaths are. Well here's the thing... they are real. And knowing that now makes it even harder to watch because these poor animals were sacrificed for entertainment value in a horror movie. And I imagine some of these had more than one take! That's one of the most controversial elements of this movie and I've heard of an edit that's been titled the animal cruelty free edition. For what it's worth the director states he regretted ever doing that.
My history with this one was earlier than the others. My first viewing was during my Freshman year of college. At this point I had seen tons of horror movies many of which are very violent. Some even have bits of realistic violence, like the hobbling scene in Misery, but none quite like thus. What I was treated to included multiple violent rapes, very realistic aftermaths to violent acts including a woman murdered by thrusting a post up her anal or vaginal region with the exit wound out of her mouth (a shockingly popular image associated with this movie), dismemberments, murder of innocent (real) animals, and the list goes on. Even with my experience in horror I wasn't ready for this. It left a mark on me unlike any other horror movie out there. Since then I've been curious to watch it again but I don't know. I feel dirty wanting that. Not that I would enjoy it from an entertainment perspective. More an artistic perspective. It's like going on a thrill ride at a theme park. The terror is what excites you. Also I feel this movie is crazy important to the exploitation horror genre of it's era. It did a lot of boundary pushing ideas so well that it holds up decades later. So I'm more interested in this movie artistically than anything else. Think about watching Schindler's List. Do you "enjoy" watching it? You don't exactly throw it in on a Sunday afternoon for some good old historical fun. It's rough to get through. Think of this as a Schindler's List but for horror. Something like that.

One of the earliest (earlier than Cannibal Holocaust) of these controversial titles I remember coming to my attention was this mess. I have no idea when or how it started since it was so long ago. I'm pretty sure I first heard about it as long as 8-9+ years ago when I was still in high school. I'm not even sure what I first heard about it. What I do remember is how it was quite controversial in its day but not because entirely of what was in the film or what it was trying to say, it was because of the history of the film. I would like to start saying that this could have been an excellent, instant classic, epic historical film. It stars Malcolm McDowell in his early days before he took every movie that was offered to him. It had an excellent cast along side him including Helen Mirren and Peter O' Toole. The original screenplay was written by Gore Vidal. Add all these things together, grab a director of that time that knows how to put together a film of this size and there's your instant classic. This one could have been great! It could have been amazing! It's so sad it turned out to be trash.
I guess I should give some context.
As I've made very clear the film had a strong beginning. Gore Vidal wrote the screenplay based on an unproduced TV mini series. When the film was having trouble obtaining a budget they went to Bob Guccione, the founder of Penthouse magazine, and made a deal. Guccione agreed to finance as long as it was a much more spectacular sword and sandal epic as opposed to the modest film the screenplay intended, and that they added more sex and nudity to help promote his magazine. A deal was made. The film wound up being directed by Tinto Brass based on his experience working with very sexual material in the past. At first Guccione was seen just as a producer who signed the checks. Even in an interview Malcolm McDowell stated concern when he reacted with saying, "THE PORNOGRAPHER!?" referring to when he first found out. Because of the financial control a ton of extra, explicit scenes were shot and included in the final cut, essentially making it part epic, part porno. At it's release it was universally panned, given Roger Ebert's only zero star review. That and the cast all disown the fact that they were involved.
Much like Cannibal Holocaust I also saw this movie early in my college career. And boy did I hate it. It was such a mess at the end of the day. However I wouldn't give it zero stars. With the brilliant casting it did have some great performances. Also I'm a big fan of this era of history so all the epic scenery and set pieces were a treat to see. However in story, pacing, editing, and about everything else it is a disgrace to the cinema. The movie is a whopping 2 1/2 hours and it gets to be a chore. Especially when the amazingly unnecessary sex scenes come up. It literally stops the story to show these scenes. There is some crazy violence and a birthing scene that makes me cringe more than the end of Knocked Up, but those are nothing in comparison to to mess of sex that shoots up throughout the movie.
I've read rumors about a really good alternate cut. It removed the explicit material leaving it with an R rating. It was re-edited using alternate footage and apparently it's really, REALLY well done. Unfortunately I cannot find this version of the movie anywhere. The only options there are include the old VHS and DVD releases which include either the uncut version or the heavily cut, very common R-rated version (which I hear is a piece of shit but for different reasons). Then in the Imperial Edition DVD released a couple years ago there's a slightly shorter alternate cut that I'm curious to see (if it makes the movie watchable) but the only way I can get it is by buying said edition. And I'm not ready to do something like that!

The Aristocrats
This one is a unique choice mostly because I never found it to be particularly controversial. The Aristocrats, I decided to include based entirely on why it would be rated NC-17 if it were rated at all. The last two choices are controversial and are given firm warnings because of its explicit material of violence or sexuality. This title requires a warning only to those who can actually hear, or read subtitles I guess, too. As the poster displays "No Nudity. No Violence. Unspeakable Obscenity." To those of you unfamiliar with the aristocrats joke it's simple to explain. A man, woman, family, whatever combination walk into a talent agent's office telling him, "Have we got an act for you." The individual presents the act to the talent agent, usually something horrifically sexual, violent, or whatever variation of these horrid things there are. The agent responds horrified yet still asks what they call it. Their response is, "The Aristocrats!" giving an ironic turn to this horrible concept for a stage show. What makes this joke so notorious is not the cleverness of the punchline. If you're in it for the punchline you'll be disappointed. The joke is all about the journey you take to get to the punchline. It's essentially an exercise in improvising for comedians of all types. A lot of them hold competitions to see how long they can go while still making others laugh. You'll rarely catch this joke on stage. It's more likely to be found in small rooms but Gilbert Gottfried does perform a version of the joke very extensively (Over 15 minutes if I remember correctly) on his DVD Dirty Jokes. Others may go on for 10, 20 minutes, maybe even an hour of the joke only to bomb it at the end by saying the aristocats! Then the listener is confused thinking the joke has something to do with the Disney film, when it of course doesn't.
This one is also a unique choice for me because it's the only one of these that I got to see in theatres. It was released unrated and I saw it at a theatre that is no longer open (I miss you so much Westgate Art). The film was released with the rating surrendered I feel for good reason. When a film is released unrated it doesn't get a lot of attention unless there's a story leading up to it. This could be the case for some of Kevin Smith's films, for this example I'll use Clerks. It was a big fight to get the film released with an R rating instead of an NC-17. So since it has a history, a story, it gives a lot more buzz to see what it did in the first place to received the kiss of death before the fight was fought. But there have been plenty of films released without a rating that have content between G and NC-17, unless there's controversy around it. This film didn't have that controversy. The filmmakers used it's obscenity in it's marketing. There was no word on how harsh the content could possibly be unless the viewer researched the joke's history beforehand. So with that said if this had an NC-17 attached to it which it would deserve it would give that sense of wonder of what's to come. The thing is that this movie would be rated NC-17 entirely on the dialogue. The only visual are suggestive gestures and body movements by a mime telling his version of the joke.
In the end you've got to either have a very open mind when it comes to dirty comedy or a high tolerance. The hilarity comes from the extreme, over the top creativity in the vulgarity. The joke tends to be any mixture of a family all having sex with each other, bringing the animal in, sadistic violence, again all usually involving a family. If you want a good example of the joke I would try and look up Gilbert Gottfried doing it either from his DVD Dirty Jokes or when he did it on one of the Comedy Central Roasts. Again, very funny but VERY vulgar.

Salo, or the 120 Days of Sodom
This is a big one for me. Where I saw movies like Caligula as a pretty big deal in terms of controversy, this was king in my mind for a while. I think I first heard about it when I first got into The Criterion Collection. The initial DVD release was very limited making it one of the most valuable DVDs out there for a while. In a big case of irony I thought it was funny how it was limited in it's release not because of the controversial material but for copyright reasons. When I first read that I thought it was hilarious! But the movie itself. Whooooooo boy this movie is a rough one. It is damaging in almost every single way. I still see this as one of the most emotionally damaging films out there. But much like other intense movies I do appreciate it for it's artistic value. Unlike Caligula this movie has that value.
So, the plot. The easiest way for me to get into the plot of this movie is to explain that a large group of rich perverts have captured an even larger group of young men and women to do with them as they please. Throughout most of the film these inmates are totally nude with a permanent look of embarrassment on their face. That alone is crazy difficult to get through. But as the movie progresses there is physical, sexual, verbal, and of course mental torture. One scene that always sticks out in my mind is late in the movie. I haven't seen this movie in quite some time so I don't recall ALL the details. But one of the rich perverts squats and lays a pile of shit on the middle of the ground. After this he grabs one of the women inmates (who is nude) and forces her to eat the shit. While she is eating the shit she is crying and the man who is forcing her to do it is screaming at her how her father doesn't love her. It's crazy unsettling but that's only one of many examples throughout the film.
Now the first few I listed and maybe even a couple I list after this you may be able to see why someone may want to watch them. Cannibal Holocaust is horror so it's supposed to be scary, Caligula could be bizarrely erotic to some, and The Aristocrats is hilarious if you're into that sort of humor. But Salo has always felt like one of those odd ducks out. It has that artistic value of making a statement of humanity, politics, etc, but what's the line for going too far? I mean, Schindler's List for example is a really rough ride. 3 hours of the holocaust in some of the most intense detail on film is terrifying. But that was for historical purposes, to show what people were put through. Salo is a made up scenario played out in disgusting detail. It's a constantly negative experience making you feel like shit in the end. Ever seen Requiem for a Dream? Remember how bummed out you were after that? I doubt it was a worse experience than what you would have with Salo.
Still one can't help that there's a reason for such intensity. And trust me there is. After looking into the director's filmography he's definitely got something to say. He's just got extreme ways of saying it, much like Lars Von Trier. It's something I would like to expand on in a future review. Maybe tackle it full on and really get down to what it's all about and appreciate the artistic value. Hard thing to do because it's so hard to go back to. But hey, if I wanted to the movie is crazy easy to get a hold of unlike some other titles here. I could even watch this horror show in HD if I wanted to thanks to the re-release from Criterion a few years ago.

Pink Flamingos
Curiosity kills the cat. An old college friend of mine sat through about half of this before he turned it off. He urged me not to watch it. But that only made me more curious. So ahead I went and watched it. The results were... not good.
If you don't know who John Waters is, let me explain. He is very well known for his filth. Between this, Female Trouble, A Dirty Shame, Pecker, etc etc he has made it very clear he is unafriad of making comedies revolving around intentionally vulgar themes and characters. I haven't seen a lot of his movies but Pink Flamingos is the most popular (with the exception of maybe Hairspray but only because it was made into a family friendly musical years later. Although the first one was PG rated in the first place anyway. An exception for sure). And while I don't mind vulgar comedy, there is a line. Not a line where I'm suddenly squeamish. A line where enough is enough. Having explicit content is fine with me as long as there's a place for it. But Pink Flamingos was just excessive.
And now I delve into the argument of whether it's actually good or not. Like I said I am familiar with some of John Water's other works. I also watch a pretty dang good one man show where he just talked about himself and his films. He knows what he's doing and he likes it that way. He even once said there's only one thing he regrets with Pink Flamingos and that's because of what he made two close friends do on camera. Nothing to do with the film's story, content, just because it involved close friends doing something excessive. So this is where I hit a crossroad with what I've been talking about. Doe this explicit content and the quality of the film overall have a purpose? Or is it just filthy trash?
This is definitely an argument for a longer review (one I don't plan on doing) so I'll give my shorter argument. One, the movie just looks bad. It was an independent production so the production value is very low with some horrendous actors. But at the same time I've praised titles with similar features so who am I to judge? I think Clerks is hilarious yet that had a very low production value with some pretty terrible actors (not everyone but there were some) yet I think it's great. Then of course there's the explicit content. Do we really need a subplot where women are tied up in a basement and forced into pregnancy as a make money quick scheme? Sound pretty terrifying, and it is to watch. But is that actually garbage or just pitch black dark humor? Earlier in this post I was praising The Aristocrats for it's hilarity even though it's some of the most vulgar material you'll ever hear. But was seeing some of those things worse than just talking about it? I could make an argument that, that is true. But at the same time it seems hypocritical.
Anyway, say what you will about Pink Flamingos. I feel there are some inconsistencies with my argument. And I can't really argue with the cult following this movie has. People have exclaimed how much they love it. I guess I just don't get it... or it's not my thing. Regardless I think this movie is trash and not in a good way. Still John Waters fans would argue against me in a big bad way. Doubt any of you are one of those people.

In the Realm of the Senses
This one came around a little bit later on. I'm not even sure why I'm including this cause this one didn't have the taboo and shock that these other titles did. But since it was one of the more recent ones (in my time, not literally chronologically) I thought I'd include it in here. The thing is that a lot of the taboo was similar and it didn't make as much of an impact on me. So in a sense this was the first step away from having as big of an interest or excitement of discovery of the shock in these films. And I think a part of it was that I've simply seen worse. If I saw this before Caligula it could be right at the top of my list. But I didn't, which caused the shock value to lessen, which further helps show how intense some of the previous titles I talked about were. Anyway...
First, I actually left it not being that crazy about it as a movie as a whole. Some of the previous ones like Cannibal Holocaust, The Aristocrats, and Salo had their moments of intense shock, but I actually liked them for one reason or another. I thought they were really good films none the less. I even enjoyed Caligula to a point. If it didn't have all the explicit sex in it I think it may have been a much better film. But as for this one, it just didn't do it for me.
I think one thing was the plot. To make a long story short it's about these two lovers, one of which is clearly a nymphomaniac. Throughout their time together they continue to explore deeper and deeper into different methods of sexual pleasure. One of which could (and does) turn out fatal. But as a whole I just didn't get into it. I understand when stories like this come about the sex is the story especially when they grow in their relationship together. What I don't get is when it's almost literally nothing but sex scenes. Maybe it's artsy in a way and I'm just too stupid to understand. Maybe there's something else. Because when I sat through this one all I could think every other scene was... "another sex scene?" I get it's about sex but isn't there usually scenes of these movies to explore and expand character where they're not having sex?
Let me use a side by side example. My favorite action movie of all time is Crank. That's because it offers more action than any other action movie. But is it simply bang, bang, with the guns and nothing else? Well, in a way yes but there is an actual story to it. Not deep, but exciting enough to keep your pulse pounding to know what happens next. There's variety, comedy, excitement, essentially everything I look for in an action movie on complete overflow. And keep in mind I realize Crank ISN'T a deep title and can't actually be compared to In the Realm of the Senses. The point I'm trying to make is that I felt a title that is almost as shallow as a kiddie pool left more of an impact with me than a movie that has the pretension to try and be as deep as a lake or ocean. Keep in mind I'm the type of person who thrives with dept and looks for the richest experience possible.
But this one? I don't know. Felt like there was more to it that I wasn't seeing. I think I need to watch it again to try and understand it better. Still... I don't really want to. I remember feeling bored, annoyed, and when the ending came up I was happy to see it go. Maybe it's because I didn't get it, maybe it's because it didn't appeal to me, or maybe it's because I was on my way out of the taboo. Maybe there just wasn't any more highs for me to get out of these extreme examples. Well it could be true. But then there's...

A Serbian Film
This one is set apart from the rest right being the only one on this list I haven't seen. At least not yet. Like many other people this one did get my attention when it made a very limited release in America a couple years back. The film is about an aging porn star who is hired on for an art film only to find out he's got himself tricked into a snuff film filled with pedophilia and necrophilia. The plot alone is enough to horrify your everyday movie goer, especially the much more reserved and conservative friends and family I have. I mean, this makes the most intense parts of Saw seem like the 5 o'clock Sunday movie on ABC Family (Slight exaggeration). Even with many other taboo films under my belt I still felt horrified by the details of the movie when I found some articles reviewing it. I hadn't felt this intense reaction to taboo since I discovered Salo for the first time. And that's a... good thing? Not sure. But I will tell you this, I don't know what to think of A Serbian Film.
To start off I'd say check out a real deal review of it. That way you can be in the right context. Horror is in my top 3 favorite genres. Some people get a thrill out of the terror of a roller coaster, I get that thrill from having the shit scared out of me. And so I'm always looking for something more and more intense with the scares, whether that's with gore or atmosphere. So when I heard about A Serbian Film I was definitely fascinated. Then I read some of those reviews and even the mere thought of what happens is enough to freak me out. It makes me wonder if I ever even want to see it. Just like with Pink Flamingos the curiosity may kill the cat, except in a different way.
Some of the challenge is getting a hold of it. I find it odd and funny how Netflix will carry Human Centipede and Antichrist but won't have this (Although that could be for different reasons other than content). So the only way for me to see this is to either find a way to stream it online or to just straight up buy the DVD. And I'm not a fan of either option to be honest with you. If I try and stream it online I can't guarantee I'll get the fully uncut version. And if I'm gonna watch this movie I want it to be the proper experience. Also I don't really want to shell out the cash to buy a movie that'll probably not stay in my collection.
My mindset when thinking about this title makes me wonder if I've met my match... I'm curious enough to want to see this movie. But do I really want to see it? Will I immediately regret going through those two hours of the horror described to me or will I find it to be a rough experience worthwhile like Antichrist? Also will it actually be as intense as I imagine? I could be fooling myself with that last part because it probably will be. When the movie was released VERY limited in the states it was released in an edited cut. Even then it got the NC-17. That's right, this movie had to be cut down to receive an NC-17 rating. That said cut was the first released with the fully uncut movie being released shortly thereafter. As a P.S. to that DVD release I will say it has one of the most creative DVD cases I've ever seen. It really takes the snuff feel of the movie to a new level when you ship it in a jewel case glued to a piece of cardboard. I love it!
I would definitely say this is my new Salo. A movie I've only read about containing unspeakable horrors I can hardly imagine. I don't know if or when I'll actually see this movie. But I feel like I may owe it to my readers to deliver the full experience in a review when I do.

Honorable Mentions: All of those were ones I wanted to highlight because they really stood out in some way for me and my interest in film. There are other ones that have come my way but didn't have that same reaction for me. But I still want to talk about them anyway.
One of the first ones I want to get out of the way is Faces of Death. There has been so much talk and controversy over this film's subject matter and rumors that the deaths in this movie were real. Well I hate to burst your bubble but most of them are not. The only ones that are real are the stock footage pieces that make up less than a quarter of the entire movie. Everything else is staged. And staged really well I must say. Minus the monkey brain dinner scene but I digress. I mean, the electric chair death looked superb. However in the end I didn't get into this franchise. I found the first movie to be really boring. Never got around to any of the sequels assuming they would be more of the same and not as well done. Then there's always Traces of Death which apparently have an even higher rate of real death footage, but I have no interest.
Speaking of movies that are considered a bit too realistic, Guinea Pig. The Guinea Pig franchise is a series of Japanese short films known for being especially brutal and violent. Usually these short films revolve around a bizarre procedure that is being done to the victim. I've only seen one of these (I think it was the 2nd one) and that was about a serial killer capturing a girl, strapping her down, and slowly dismembering all the limbs off her body. The film ends with the killer showing off to the camera his collection of limbs he's gathered from the people he's captured. I am curious to see where the rest of them go, but the DVDs are not widely available even on video rental resources like Netflix. Therefore I would have to spend a pretty penny to get my hands on them. Not sure if I'm ready for that kind of commitment on a series of films I may not even get that into, especially when I could be spending that money on buying more Simpsons DVDs or something.
Others include some I mentioned either in this post or previous posts. I did enjoy both of the Human Centipede movies despite the fact I accidentally watched the edited version of 2 on Amazon Instant Video. They're really out there but I appreciate them for what they're worth. Not something most people go around saying out loud. I also mentioned Antichrist which has to be one of the best of these more controversial choices. I want to give that one a full review someday and the same goes to Man Bites Dog. Brilliant but really rough movies. Lastly I did previously talk about Men Behind the Sun so if you want to read my review of that then go for it.

There are a few others that have come across my radar, but my interest comes and goes. Those include (in no particular order):
-I Stand Alone: A brutal, violent film. I've heard very little about it but due to lack of ease of access I can't say my interest is too strong. Other stuff will definitely come first.
-Shortbus: Played at a local theatre a few years back when it first came out. Crossed my radar early in this taboo fascination. But now I have next to no interest. And even then I think my mindset was "Oooo, another taboo."
-Vomit Gore: More of a genre by Lucifer Valentine than the actual title of the movies. These are supposed to be even more out there than Human Centipede. Again not terribly common on home video or streaming so it's a matter of "do I invest extra cash and potentially not like it? Or focus elsewhere and forget it?" Well the trilogy box set is $55 right now on Amazon. But if I had $55 to spare I'd probably buy a new Dreamcast import instead. Something I know I'll enjoy.
-Nymphomaniac: The new Lars Von Trier epic that is out now in Denmark and will hit VOD very soon in America. This I do want to see but I imagine it'll be a rough ride. I was gonna made a full post about it my initial thoughts but there's so little out there about it I'm gonna wait until I see it to talk about it as a whole. Looks ambitious, looks insane, but it also looks like it could be brilliant.
-Lucky Bastard: A new, openly NC-17 (not common) horror movie that just came out in limited release. Another found footage genre movie that lists many intense violent/sexual occurrences throughout. Will probably try and catch it on VOD. I think I'm interested because the creators made sure to get the rating listed officially, communicating it is definitely not for a young audience (no age restrictions on buying unrated DVDs). Takes balls to take that rating. Knowing you'll be limited.

That's all for now. I still believe a part of me still gets a tingly feeling from the taboo of movies like these, but from a different perspective now. More so from the taboo of the mainstream rather than what I'm allowed or not allowed to see ala parental guidance. If you know of any other good titles that may fall under this category then I'd like to hear from you. Many I didn't list because there's just so many. But if you have any others that may be a bit more obscure then let me know. Until next time... make sure you do your research before jumping in. You might get more than you expect.