Just wanted to let all of you know that I'm going to be taking a short break from this here blog in order to regroup and recharge. In the meantime, explore the archives. Or just wait with bated breath. Whatever.
Written by Santiago Moncada
Directed by Manuel Cano
Inspector Dominguez...Ferdinand Sancho
Dr. Kessling...Alfred May
An African man and woman swim through the ocean, coming to rest happily in each other’s arms while beautiful music plays in the background. Sounds like a gentle love story, doesn’t it? Until the woman’s husband comes along, attacks the man, and is killed. The woman is then beheaded for her sins, and the man—a tribal prince—is entombed alive (following a raucous, topless, orgiastic ceremony, of course.)
Flash forward some centuries later to “modern day.” We know it’s modern day because we’re shown still photos of technological wonders like satellites and skyscrapers, and the tribal drums have been replaced with some ooky psychedelic rock music. The Prince’s sarcophagus has been exhumed and transferred to a cruise ship for transport to America. The Prince, deep in slumber, is none too happy about this disrespect, however, and emerges undead to wreak vengeance on the high seas.
It’s an uninspired take on The Mummy to be sure, with poor acting, an annoying voice-over narration by the Prince himself, piss-poor special effects and an overuse of flashbacks to scenes that we’ve already lived through once, this time shown through a heavy red filter. The ridiculous overacting of the psychic Ms. Thorndike is enough to drive you mad. All in all, I started dozing 40 minutes into this stinker, and I think I’m still there.
I’ll bet Mrs. Thorndike didn’t see that one coming.
Spanish (with English dubbed)
Turner Classic Movies has a trio of great genre films on today: one this evening and two late tonight/early tomorrow morning. Peep it:
5:30pm: 13 Ghosts (1960)
A family inherits a house haunted by 13 ghosts and a living killer.
Cast: Charles Herbert, Jo Morrow, Martin Milner, Rosemary DeCamp Dir: William Castle BW-82 mins, TV-PG
2:00am: Blue Velvet (1986)
A small-town boy unearths a world of corruption when he stumbles upon a severed ear.
Cast: Kyle MacLachlan, Isabella Rossellini, Dennis Hopper, Laura Dern Dir: David Lynch C-120 mins
4:15am: Persona (1966)
An actress recovering from a breakdown exercises a strange hold over her nurse.
Cast: Bibi Andersson, Liv Ullmann, Gunnar Björnstrand, Jörgen Lindström Dir: Ingmar Bergman BW-83 mins, TV-MA
Written by Michael Bacall & Blayne Weaver
Directed by Jordan Melamed
Lyle Jensen...Joseph Gordon-Levitt
Dr. David Monroe...Don Cheadle
After committing criminal assault with a baseball bat, Lyle Jensen is institutionalized until he can resolve his anger management problems. He is soon paired up in a room with Kenny (a young sex offender), befriends Chad (a secretly-wealthy, like-minded metalhead), makes enemies with Mike (a streetwise bully), and crushes on Tracy (a quiet rape victim with dangerously low self-esteem). The kids are all presided over by David, a caring doctor who has survived many of the same problems plaguing his patients.
What follows is essentially the viewer sitting in on a series of group therapy sessions, following the ups and downs of the patients as they fight themselves, fight each other, and adamantly deny that a problem exists. Light on plot but heavy on characterization, Manic is shot in an almost verite style, with dark shadows and grainy images and oft times shaky camera work. If you don’t mind the anti-steadycam (a la The Blair Witch Project), none of this will bother you, but many may complain of motion sickness. The dialogue appears sometimes improvised, seeming alternately starkly real and downright forced. Only the quick-cuts to Lyle’s flashbacks bothered me, like a rock music video you skim past while channel surfing.
Now, I’m a notorious hater of Third Rock From The Sun, but have (against all odds) become a fan of Joseph Gordon-Levitt in the years since that show went off the air. His performance was so strong that he carried many of the less talented actors on his back. Don Cheadle was great, but then again he always is. And let's face it, you can't go wrong with Zooey Deschanel, who I am totally in like with.
The house of cards analogy was beautifully done when it finally came down to it, even if I knew it was coming, and I appreciated not only the symbolism of Van Gogh, but also the comic book geek references to Wolverine, Superman and Batman. And, call me crazy (poor choice of words, I know), but I couldn’t help but detect a few traces of One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest scattered here and there, primarily during the impromptu mosh pit scene, of all things.
Diehard horror fans may not appreciate the film, but if you like the faux-reality and are able to bank more on characters than chaos, you might find this of interest. Speaking as someone who can relate to many of the issues dealt with here, this is a dark and disturbing account of mental instability (albeit not without its silver lining.) The filmmakers either really knew their stuff or were damn good at faking their way through it.
Turner Classic Movies is running a marathon of J.D. flicks, kicking off with the King of the J.D.'s, James Dean himself. It starts tonight at 8:00 and runs until the wee hours of the morning, so you still have time to grease up your D.A. haircut, shine the chains on your leather jacket, andzip up your beetle boots.
8:00 PM: Rebel Without a Cause (1955)
An alienated teenager tries to handle life's troubles and an apron-wearing dad.
Cast: James Dean, Natalie Wood, Sal Mineo, Jim Backus Dir: Nicholas Ray C-111 mins, TV-PG
10:00 PM: Blackboard Jungle (1955)
An idealistic teacher confronts the realities of juvenile delinquency.
Cast: Glenn Ford, Anne Francis, Louis Calhern, Margaret Hayes Dir: Richard Brooks BW-101 mins, TV-14
12:00 AM: Delinquents, The (1957)
When he's separated from the girl he loves, a teen turns to crime.
Cast: Tom Laughlin, Peter Miller, Richard Bakalyan, Rosemary Howard Dir: Robert Altman BW-72 mins, TV-PG
1:30 AM: Crime in the Streets (1956)
A social worker tries to end juvenile crime by getting involved with a street gang.
Cast: James Whitmore, Sal Mineo, Mark Rydell, Virginia Gregg Dir: Don Siegel BW-91 mins
3:15 AM: Hot Rods to Hell (1967)
A family traveling through the desert is set up by a teen gang.
Cast: Dana Andrews, Jeanne Crain, Mimsy Farmer, Laurie Mock Dir: John Brahm C-100 mins, TV-PG
5:00 AM: Wild One, The (1953)
Motorcycle-riding delinquents take over a small town.
Cast: Marlon Brando, Mary Murphy, Robert Keith, Lee Marvin Dir: Laslo Benedek BW-79 mins, TV-14