Thursday, 31 July 2014

ROAD TO PALOMA - Review By Greg Klymkiw - A haunting and lyrical directorial debut by actor Jason Momoa


The great cinematic spirit of 70s existential male angst lives in Momoa's directorial debut.

Father (Wes Studi) & Son (Jason Momoa)
Road to Paloma (2014) ****
Dir. Jason Momoa
Starring: Jason Momoa, Robert Mollohan, Wes Studi, Timothy V. Murphy, Charlie Brumbly, Lisa Bonet, Sarah Shahi

Review By Greg Klymkiw
"The government did not pursue rape charges on [Native American] reservations 65% of the time last year and rejected 61% of cases involving charges of sexual abuse of children..."
- THE NEW YORK TIMES, February 20th, 2012

BORN TO BE wild FREE!
Set against the backdrop of America's continued apartheid and genocide against its indigenous Native Peoples, actor Jason Momoa (Game of Thrones) delivers an extremely promising directorial debut with this powerful and cerebral tale of a young man who has extracted justice on his mother's behalf after the law fails to do so. Robert Wolf (Momoa) has already committed his act of vengeance before the film has begun (we experience bits of it in flashback at later junctures), so make no mistake, this is not a vigilante picture in any sense of the word.

Cleverly utilizing the tropes of westerns, biker pictures (notably Easy Rider) and the 70s genre of existential male angst, the picture (written by Momoa and his co-star Robert Mollohan) centres on the final activities of a man who senses that his own end will result in physical pain, incarceration and possibly even death, but in the days leading up to meeting with fate, he seeks both redemption and the opportunity to scatter his mother's ashes in a sacred place that binds her spirit (and his) to the natural world.

Robert is wanted by the law for murdering the man who trespassed onto the reservation, then raped and beat his mother to death (so severely she was facially unrecognizable). Robert's father Numay (Wes Studi) is a local cop and though he's wracked with guilt for being on the job during the horrific crime, he's even more devastated (albeit silently) that he placed his faith in the judicial system. The system, as it so often does, fails the Native People who live on the reservations. Well, it fails them - period, but that's another story.

The perpetrator is never brought to trial, spends one year awaiting official prosecution, then, like so many other White Men charged with vicious crimes against Native women, he's released. Numay sadly accepts this as the Status Quo. Robert does not. The result is that the long arm of the law, which does virtually nothing for Native victims of crime, spends an awful lot of time, money and resources to hunt down Robert for his "crime". Though Robert's a wanted man, Chuck (Charlie Brumbly), the local F.B.I. liaison twixt the Bureau and the reservation, well-knows the score and has intentionally "fucked the dog" on this matter. Kelly (an appropriately smarmy Lance Henriksen cameo) is one mean-ass Bureau head honcho who wants this "murderer" caught, so he enlists Williams (Timothy V. Kelly), his best agent and an even bigger-and-meaner-ass prick than he is to hightail it down there to extract "justice".

Robert's not too phased about any of this. He's come to town to pick up his Mom's ashes for a 500-mile-long odyssey "in-country" where he suspects he'll be unmolested until he can deal with his Mom's spirit-journey. Momoa, as a director, excels at capturing the spirit, architecture, people and topography of the town outside the reservation. It's a one-horse town replete with crumbling old service stations, a sleazy strip club, a country-and-western bar and a whole lot of rednecks, whores and tough-guys. That said, not a single one of them will tussle with Robert. He's more than earned their respect. The same can't be said for his old buddy Cash (co-writer Robert Homer Mollohan), an alcoholic musician who has a bad habit of picking fights he could only win if he was sober.

Soon, the two men are on their motorcycles and blasting free and clear along the highways of America's Southwest and here's yet another superb sequence beautifully handled by Momoa, the director. With cinematographer Brian Andrew Mendoza, he's created an indelible look at reservation life, small town sleaze and now, the film settles almost completely into a state of zen-sickle-ridin' with stunning vistas, gorgeous sunsets and hell, even Monument Valley (a clear nod to John Ford - the legendary director who both exploited images of Native People and eventually made the necessary amends to render works of genuine power).

What I loved most about this movie is that it has so many opportunities to deliver standard cat-and-mouse thrills, chases, action scenes and unbearable tension. It finally, offers, only a smidgen of that. The movie excels as cinematic tone poem - a tribute to land, freedom and at the same time, an elegy to a world destroyed by colonial forces, one that still suffers under the weight of these shackles of a Status Quo that works only for the "ruling class". Momoa himself knows something about this as his blood mixes two very colonized racial ethnicities - part Hawaiian, part Native American. He not only serves as a terrific leading man (he's intense and gorgeous), but he elicits a whole whack of fine performances from his entire cast - especially Wes Studi, who's great as always. It's also wonderful seeing Lisa Bonet again on a big screen - she's gorgeous and a fine actress - and in his own way, Mollohan as Momoa's sidekick, conjures up the spirit of a somewhat kinder, gentler Dennis Hopper.

Road to Paloma is clearly a deep, profound and reflective work. Yes, it meanders, yes it's sometimes too cerebral, yes, it might have been nice if Momoa had subscribed to genre a bit more vigorously, but this is a world and issue that's too often ignored by mainstream cinema. There is, however, one sequence which delivers the goods on straight-up brutal action and we do get a chance to experience an illegal, hidden-from-the-world no-holds-barred fighting match (similar to the one Walter Hill explored in his 70s - 'natch - classic Hard Times, with Charles Bronson and James Coburn). Momoa also offers a genuinely tense climax. It's as inevitable, as it's shattering and is directed with the kind of panache that suggests even greater things from him.

Shockingly, the film bears the imprimatur of the film production division of WWE - yup, World Wrestling Entertainment. Rather than supporting a straight-up genre picture with one or several of its wrasslin' stars, they've backed the work of someone who's a genuine artist and has made a picture that's actually about something. That said, WWE recently secured the brilliant Canadian film artists Sylvia and Jen Soska to direct a picture, so that they backed Momoa in his desire to create a stunning, poetic movie that's alternately joyous and heartbreaking, is perhaps not too much of a stretch, after all.

In the 70s, a picture like Momoa's would have been green-lit by the studios, but these days, it takes truly independent visionaries to back work by equally visionary artists. Big business as pro wrestling is, there's always been a strange sense of independent spirit to their world. Supporting a movie about the independent spirit of America's Southwestern Aboriginal People seems to have made for a pair of very happy bedfellows.

Road To Paloma is available on a gorgeous new Blu-Ray from Anchor Bay Entertainment Canada and Anchor Bay Films (WWE's partner on the presentation of this film). For those who especially love the 70s-style angst of manly-man work like The Gambler, The Last Detail, Your Three Minutes Are Up, etc. this is a definite keeper. My only quibble is the lack of extra features. There's one deleted scene which is excellent, and interestingly offers something that was wisely omitted from the final film, in spite of its quality. That, however, is it. I'd have loved a commentary track from Momoa, maybe one that was moderated by an academic critic in areas of cinematic representation of Native Peoples. Given the film and the subject matter, this would have been a perfect capper to a really fine film in an exquisitely transferred Blu-Ray. Ah well, who the fuck am I? I didn't produce the damn home entertainment release. Though more and more, I think I should, or at least someone who loves MOVIES as much as I do. [insert smiley face here]

Feel free to order Anchor Bay's Road to Paloma, the great Criterion Collection of 70s male existential angst (America: Lost and Found) and/or some fine literary discourse on Native Issues by Emma LaRocque and others, directly from the Amazon links below (and in so doing, you'll be supporting the ongoing maintenance of The Film Corner).







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Wednesday, 30 July 2014

THE SATELLITE GIRL AND MILK COW (AKA "Wuribyeol Ilhowa Eollukso") - Review By Greg Klymkiw - Lovely Anime from Korea @FantAsia2014 - Treat for kids, adults alike. Moving & imaginative tale of love. A new IRON GIANT.

A girl loves her milk cow. Only in Korea!
The Satellite Girl and Milk Cow (2013)
Dir. Chang Hyung-yun
Starring: Jung Yu-mi, Yoo Ah-in

Review By Greg Klymkiw

I detest most contemporary American animated features. They're annoyingly all the same twaddle, with identical/interchangeable characters, similar thematic elements, way too many dumb, ephemeral AMERICAN pop-culture references and -ugh!- lessons learned. I wonder if any American animated features and the pathetic, desperate, moronic children, plus their idiot parents would ever, respectively, showcase and accept, a love story between a girl and a cow? Not just any girl, mind you, and not just any cow.

Writer-director Chang Hyung-yun takes a well-worn Asian tale (completely mismatched lovers against a fantastical backdrop) and, unlike most American animators with their own stock ideas, shakes it completely upside down and creates a movie that's as original in Asian culture as it will most certainly be to any viewers in the Occident. The Satellite Girl and Milk Cow is a thorough delight and comes across as a Korean answer to crossing Hayao Miyazaki (Spirited Away, Princess Mononoke) with Brad Bird (The Iron Giant, The Incredibles). If you don't believe me, get this:

A forlorn Korean satellite is about to be replaced with new-fangled machinery and faces an eternity of sad, lonely obsolescence until "she" hears a lovely, heart-rending tune from Earth. This transforms her into a teenage girl robot called Il-Ho. Powered with jets in her feet (not unlike Astro Boy's), she travels to our green planet in search of the melody's source. The music, comes from Kyung-chun, a hapless, struggling composer and musician whose longtime girlfriend has dumped him.

His broken heart transforms him into a milk cow and his life is in danger from two horrible foes. First off, there's a nasty teleporting slime bag with a magical bathroom plunger that removes organs from the bodies of brokenhearted humans turned into animals that he sells to a black market dealer. Secondly, and perhaps even scarier, is a horrifying monster called the Incinerator who trolls the streets of Seoul looking for broken-hearted humans transformed into animals so it can plunge them into his fiery, gluttonous mouth, devouring them in flames.

Thankfully, our Milk Cow is befriended by a roll of toilet paper who is, in actuality, the haplessly-transformed Merlin the Wizard and, of course, the kind, friendly and lovely Il-Ho, the satellite who just wants to be a real girl and most of all, to love and be loved by Kyung-chun who could be transformed from his milk cow state if he could just fall in love with her.

Now how's that for a great story? It's certainly the sort of thing we don't get to see in our soul-bereft North American multiplexes. It's a gem of a movie, however, and I urge all parents and kids to seek it out. They won't quite know what hit them, but when it does, they'll know they want it a lot more than Madagascar 3. That's a guarantee.

THE FILM CORNER RATING: **** Four Stars

The Satellite Girl and Milk Cow enjoyed its international premiere at the 2014 edition of the magnificent FantAsia International Film Festival in Montreal. In the meantime, feel free to order any of the following animated titles directly from the Amazon links below and in so doing, supporting the ongoing maintenance of The Film Corner.

July 30, 2014 - History in the making at the 2014 edition of the FantAsia International Film Festival in Montreal. Legendary director Tobe Hooper will be presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award followed by a screening of the Dark Sky 40th Anniversary Restoration of Hooper's Masterpiece, THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE. As if that's not enough, you'll have to choose between that and a screening of the terrific South African Crime Thriller FOUR CORNERS - BOTH TONIGHT AT #FANTASIA2014 - Reviews By Greg Klymkiw


Original 1974 Poster
La Belle Province is the place to be today, so head on down to the true capital of Quebec (and Canada), Montreal, la ville aux cent clochers.

History is in the making today. It will rival that of the Seven Years' War, the moronic Tory-led burning of the Parliament Buildings, Mayor Camillien Houde's brave protest against Anglo-enforced conscription, the opening of the Saint Lawrence Seaway and, of course, Expo 67.

Tonight, July 30, 2014, you will be forced to CHOOSE between TWO great EVENTS happening AT THE SAME TIME during the 2014 edition of the FantAsia International Film Festivals. At 9:40 PM in the DB Clarke Theatre, you can see the terrific South African crime thriller by Ian Gabriel entitled Four Corners and FIVE FUCKING MINUTES LATER at 9:45 PM in the Concordia Hall Theatre, the legendary filmmaker Tobe Hooper will be on hand IN THE FLESH to received FantAsia's Life Achievement Award, which will then be followed by a screening of Dark Sky Films' astonishing 40th Anniversary Restoration (from the original 16mm reversal negative) of Hooper's masterpiece The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

Below you will find capsule reviews (with links to the full reviews) of Four Corners and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Read 'em and weep. If you can't be in Montreal tonight, just weep, sucker!


A tattooed prison lifer knows all,
because he's seen all and stays alive
with his constant hawk-like gaze.
Four Corners (2013) ***½
Dir. Ian Gabriel
Starring: Brendon Daniels, Jezriel Skei, Abduragman Adams, Irshaad Ally, Lindiwe Matshikiza,

Review By Greg Klymkiw

Four Corners (as harsh and brutal as much of it is) compares to being a kinder, gentler and more straightforward South African version of Amores perros by Mexican auteur Alejandro González Iñárritu, though it never feels like homage, nor is it derivative. Ian Gabriel's finely crafted film focuses on a handful of inter-connected characters as we follow the amalgamation of their individual stories into each other. There's a sense of melancholy and tragedy running through this beautifully acted film, but there are also touches of an eventual new world for all the characters and a strong sense that perhaps their children and their children's children will be the ultimate beneficiaries of their pain, struggles and sacrifices in a country still hurting from the hideous legislation of segregation and racism. READ THE FULL REVIEW HERE.

It's ALWAYS about the MEAT!!!
The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974) Dir. Tobe Hooper *****
Starring: Marilyn Burns, Paul A. Partain, Edwin Neal, Jim Siedow, Gunnar Hansen, John Dugan, William Vail, Teri McMinn, Robert Courtin, John Henry Faulk, John Larroquette

Review By Greg Klymkiw

"There are moments when we cannot believe that what is happening is really true. Pinch yourself and you may find out that it is." - A horoscope read aloud during The Texas Chain Saw Massacre.

What hit me when I first saw The Texas Chain Saw Massacre is how brilliantly the movie is sectioned into two separate, yet inextricably linked halves, the first being a simple narrative set-up for its especially harrowing second half. Creepily building during the first 40 minutes, with occasional exclamatory jolts of violence, the picture delivers a solid bedrock from which it plunges you headlong into the second 40 minutes, a relentless nightmare on film. This is not a passive experience - you're slammed deep into the maw of pure, sheer, unrelenting terror.

Beg all you like. The nightmare never seems to end. When it finally does, the utter dread and revulsion generated by the whole experience stays with you forever. This, of course, is not because of the gore, or the extremity of the violence, but rather because the tone of the movie is so unlike anything you will have experienced. Even with all the slasher films, torture porn and moronically graphic remakes that have assailed contemporary audiences over the past decade, none of them come close to the disquieting power and intelligence with which The Texas Chain Saw Massacre is so astonishingly infused with. As they say, this one's for the ages. READ THE FULL REVIEW HERE.

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

BOSS NIGGER aka "Boss", "The Boss", "The Black Bounty Killer" - Review By Greg Klymkiw @FantasiaFest2014

Play the theme song from BOSS NIGGER sung by Terrible Tom while you read the review:
video

"Look Mayor, you've been hunting black folks for so long,
we just wanted to see what it'd be like to hunt white folks."
Boss Nigger (1974) ****
aka Boss, The Boss, The Black Bounty Killer
dir. Jack Arnold
Starring: Fred Williamson, D'Urville Martin, R.G. Armstrong, William Smith, Carmen Hayworth, Barbara Leigh

Review By Greg Klymkiw

Boss (Fred Williamson), a tough, tall and lean African-American cowboy, counts his reward money, pockets it obligingly, then flashes a big smile at the racist lawman who grudgingly had to pay it out. "I wants to thank ya, Sheriff," says our title character. "Sorry, we ain't got time to stay for supper, but we got us more whities to catch."

And so begins Boss Nigger, one of the best westerns of the 70s. Boss and his trusty, wiseacre sidekick Amos (D'Urville Martin) ride off into the picturesque natural beauty of New Mexico in search of their next easy kill - always wanted, dead or alive and yes, always of the White Trash Caucasian Persuasion.

Now if you saw Quentin Tarantino's Django Unchained and thought the idea of an African-American bounty hunter was original, just remind yourself that QT's entire output has been steeped in ripping off, or rather, referencing the works of older films he revered as being cooler than cool.

And don't get me wrong, I thoroughly enjoyed the Jamie Foxx/Christoph Waltz western bloodbath, but Boss Nigger is the real thing.

JED: Go ahead and kill me, Nigger!
BOSS: That's "Mr. Nigger" to you!
JED: Then go to Hell, Mr. Nigger!
BOSS: To Hell is where you're going!
Made almost forty years ago, it's way ahead of its time and proves to be more cutting edge revisionist than Tarantino's. Written and produced by the former football champ turned superstar and directed by the legendary Jack Arnold (The Incredible Shrinking Man, The Creature from the Black Lagoon, The Mouse That Roared), this terrific duster blends old fashioned western tropes with the very best elements of Blaxsploitation. Don't forget that Django needed to be rescued and taught the trade by a White Man, but Boss Nigger and Amos are former slaves who broke free all on their own and carved a path of destruction to emancipate their fellow brothers in the legendary Nigger Charley series (not to mention that Django is single-minded in the pursuit of securing his wife's freedom at the expanse of anyone, whereas Williamson's character is all about making America a better place for all oppressed people of colour).

How can anyone not like a film wherein
Fred Williamson goes at it with William Smith? 
And so it is that Boss and Amos are on their way to a wild, wooly tank town bereft of a sheriff in order to track down Jed Clayton (William Smith), the meanest, orneriest criminal psychopath this side of Hell and his gang of bloodthirsty, shoot 'em up, rotgut-guzzling and female-violating redneck racists. The pair rescue the beautiful Clara Mae (Carmen Hayworth) from gang rape at the hands of some Clayton cowpokes, deposit her in the care of some kind Mexican-Americans on the outskirts of town, then proceed to nominate themselves as Sheriff and Deputy of a town so corrupt that its Mayor (R.G. Armstrong) is secretly in cahoots with Clayton.

Boss and Amos waste no time in posting the new laws of the town which all include hefty fines for spitting, cussing, shooting and worst of all, using the word "nigger". Many townspeople are shocked by this and would just as soon put up with the Status Quo, but some, like the sexy schoolteacher Miss Pruitt (Barbara Leigh) are relieved that law has come to their town. She even develops a mad crush on the muscular, leather-adorned Boss Nigger.

In addition to their shenanigans in town, the Boss and Amos wreak havoc upon the huge gang of cutthroats and Boss Nigger reigns solidly as a violent, action-packed western of the highest order.

Jack Arnold's helmsmanship is first-rate, the fisticuffs, shootouts and explosions are taut and engaging and Fred Williamson's writing equally so.

The dialogue is especially ripe and you'll feel like delivering a standing ovation when the prim, proper schoolmarm Miss Pruitt begs Boss to take her along when he leaves town after tidying up his business. Williamson, always the King of Cool, writes himself one of the best lines in movie history. Bidding the sexy schoolteacher farewell, he says:

"Lady, a Black Man's got enough trouble in this world without a White woman following him around."

Enough trouble, indeed!

Boss Nigger (with the title Boss) is playing at the 2014 FantAsia International Film Festival in Montreal.

Monday, 28 July 2014

DEALER - Review By Greg Klymkiw - Grim, Grimy, Violent French Crime Drama Delivers Goods @FantAsia2014



Dealer (2014) Dir. Jean Luc Herbulot
Screenplay: Samy Baaroun, Herbulot
Starring: Dan Bronchinson, Elsa Madeleine, Salem Kali, Bruno Henry

Review By Greg Klymkiw

Dan (Dan Bronchinson) is a caring, loving single Dad living in Paris. He dreams of moving to Australia and start life anew. He also happens to be a criminal scumbag, pimp and drug dealer; a lifestyle that's now starting to wear him down and forced his wife to move out with their daughter in tow. Though he's wisely avoided selling any hard drugs, especially cocaine, an opportunity presents itself when one of his regulars is in desperate need of one kilo of the death powder and willing to pay retail for it. In one single afternoon, Dan can make enough to completely change his life and that of his family's.

Throwing his better judgement to the wind, Dan reconnects with a dangerous cartel from his younger days and in the flurry of activity (including some cops looking for him), he hides the goods in his hooker's lair. When it goes missing, his life is turned topsy turvy and he's plunged into an adrenalin charged race against time - one in which he's faced with:

-trolling the deepest, darkest Parisian shitholes,

-engaging in several breathtaking chases,

-mixing it up in several brutal displays of fisticuffs,

-leaving a trail of corpses as long as his decades-long rap sheet,

-and rescuing his wife and child from the clutches of some criminal psychos holding them ransom until he delivers.

Dealer is one thrilling, shocking and edge-of-the-seat-suspenseful crime picture. Some might make an obvious comparison to the work of Nicholas Winding Refn (Drive), but that would be a slap in the face to co-writer and director Herbulot who offers up a movie that's anything but the pretentious, sickeningly cerebral and wildly overrated pictures of Refn. Herbulot's film is as striking a debut as such first-feature/sophomore classics of the genre as Nick Gomez's Laws of Gravity, the Hughes Brothers' Menace II Society, Mathieu Kassovitz's La Haine and even Martin Scorsese's Who's That Knocking At My Door and Mean Streets. It's a movie so rooted in streets, cheap rooms, dives and gutters that it practically stinks of sweat, blood, piss, dog shit and cum.

Stunningly shot and cut in the kind of herky-jerky that's more in line with masters like Paul Greengrass, who actually know how to compose shots as opposed to all the big-budget poseurs who shoot their action and suspense in this manner because they aren't real filmmakers, Herbulot is the real thing and then some.

I can hardly wait to see his next picture. If it's even half-as-good as Dealer, it's going to be damn amazing.

THE FILM CORNER RATING: **** Four Stars

Dealer enjoyed its world premiere at the 2014 edition of the FantAsia International Film Festival in Montreal.

Sunday, 27 July 2014

TIME LAPSE - Review By Greg Klymkiw - Science Fiction Meets Crime Thriller @FantAsia2014

If you're a scumbag mob bookie - knowing the future could come in handy.
Time Lapse (2014)
Dir. Bradley King
Writers: King and B.P. Cooper
Starring: Danielle Panabaker, Matt O'Leary, George Finn, Amin Joseph, Jason Spisak, John Rhys-Davies

Review By Greg Klymkiw

Originality rules this day in this cool science fiction outing about a Fine Arts grad (Matt O'Leary), his girlfriend (Danielle Panabaker) and best friend (George Finn) who happen upon a mysterious camera that seems to have the power to capture images from the future.

Coming up with the mad plan to use their secret discovery to score big at the dog races seems like a good idea, but in Twilight Zone fashion, all does not go according to plan and horror awaits.

The superbly written, directed and acted Time Lapse is as good, if not better than most studio pictures that might have attempted similar high concept approaches. Unlike most studio efforts, the accent on atmosphere and interesting issues of friendship and morality would have given way, no doubt, to empty bombast.

Thankfully, true independence has yielded a terrific little picture that proves how talented mavericks can move a mountain. Time Lapse manages to move not one mere mountain, but several mighty ranges to yield a killer thriller.

THE FILM CORNER RATING: ***½ Three-and-a-half Stars

Time Lapse enjoyed its Canadian Premiere at the 2014 edition of the FantAsia International Film Festival in Montreal.

Saturday, 26 July 2014

THE MAN IN THE ORANGE JACKET - Review By Greg Klymkiw - Latvia Yields Sickness @FantAsia 2014 in Montreal

Proletarian banality in Latvia.
The Man in the Orange Jacket (2014)
Dir. Aik Karapetian
Starring: Maxim Lazarev, Aris Rozentals, Anta Aizupe

Review By Greg Klymkiw

This might be one of the most vile movies I've seen in quite awhile. I suspect most audiences will find it either reprehensible or boring (or both), but ultimately, I think it signals the arrival of an especially gifted filmmaker. Aik Karapetian is Armenian and the movie is a co-production between Latvia and Estonia. Given that this is a brutal, nasty-humoured psychological horror film, its peculiar ethnographical pedigree seems to almost guarantee that we're going to see something that's as shocking as it's off the well-worn path.

While it shares similarities to Roman Polanksi's The Tenant and Repulsion. it just as easily conjures up comparison points to John McNaughton's Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer, David Fincher's Se7en and Jonathan Demme's The Silence of the Lambs (with generous dollops of Lars von Trier and Michael Haneke). Finally though, The Man in the Orange Jacket is all its own movie - a truly sickening and starkly original piece of work. After seeing it, nobody will accuse it of being in the domain of been-there-done-that.

When a whole whack of dock workers are laid-off, one of them decides he's had enough of his lot in life as a labourer within the "new" capitalism of Eastern Europe. He wants a taste of what the 1% have and nothing's going to stop him from getting it. He targets the scumbag corporate CEO (Aris Rozentals) who's responsible for his predicament of unemployment, shows up at the richie-rich's sprawling, isolated country mansion, murders the CEO and his gorgeous young wife (Anta Azupe), tosses their bodies into the basement and proceeds to live a life of leisure in the upscale, though oddly antiseptic abode. There's a bit of perverse fun to be had watching our boy lounging about in expensive clothing, eating gourmet meals, drinking fine wine, sitting in different comfy chairs and "admiring" the works of art on the walls, but it's clear that what he desires is not attainable since he's essentially a proletarian numbskull - albeit of the psychopathic variety. Curiously, what little we find out about the CEO suggests that in his own way, he's as hollow a shell as our working class hero. As for our rich man wanna-be, Karapetian makes no attempt to add any more shading that what little we see.

Thankfully the movie doesn't provide us any excuses or reasons for the psycho's behaviour, beyond the banal desire to have what can never truly be his. Some, I suspect, might dump on this as a major flaw, but any attempts to fill in the blanks would simply have been disingenuous. This is, ultimately, the story of one big fat nothing and as such, it's a damn effective one. Replete with astonishing visual flourishes and a creepy-crawly methodical pace of the most unbearably compelling kind, The Man in the Orange Jacket is as sterling a sophomore effort as we're likely to experience this year.

At a certain point, early on, it's quite obvious that we're not going to get even a smidgen of empathy in this character. As his isolated indulgence progresses, he becomes increasingly bored and we're then privy to a series of harrowing incidents which suggest the house itself is haunted or that he's even more off his rocker than we suspected. When he summons two gorgeous twin escorts to "his" home, he's such an empty vessel that the most "creative" sexual shenanigans he can muster is to piss into the swimming pool and force the hookers to stay in the water.

We should all be so lucky.

THE FILM CORNER RATING: *** 3-Stars

The Man in the Orange Jacket enjoyed its International Premiere at the 2014 edition of the FantAsia International Film Festival in Montreal and has been selected to unspool at the prestigious Fantastic Fest at the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema in Austin, Texas.

Friday, 25 July 2014

DOCTOR PROCTOR'S FART POWDER - Review By Greg Klymkiw - Fabulous Family Fart Fun @FantasiaFest2014


These happy kids investigate a hole in the wall blown open by a FART.

DOCTOR PROCTOR - Inventor
Doctor Proctor's Fart Powder
aka "Doktor Proktors prompepulver" (2014) ***½
Dir. Arild Fröhlich
Script: Johan Bogaeus, Based on Jo Nesbø's Book
Starring: Kristoffer Joner, Atle Antonsen, Emily Glaister, Eilif Hellum, Arve Guddingsmo Bjørn, Even Guddingsmo Bjørn

Review By Greg Klymkiw

Who in their right mind doesn't appreciate a good, rip-snorting fart? I know I do and I'm sure you do too, so pull my finger and I'll emit the following review.

If you're sick of the same old crap Hollywood keeps foisting upon your kids, reject the empty-headed faecal matter and embrace farts instead. The Land of Fjords has delivered one of the best family films in years, the cool and funny adaptation of Jo Nesbø's terrific book Doctor Proctor's Fart Powder.

Set in a seeming never-never land of an Oslo that must surely exist, two inventors, the kind, benevolent, scatterbrained and poor Doctor Proctor (Kristoffer Joner) and the evil, greedy and disgustingly corpulent Mister Thane (Atle Antonsen), live within a stone's throw of each pother in the same neighbourhood of manicured lawns and fluorescent-colored interiors ripped from the world of a Pee Wee Herman-like playhouse.

Two lonely, parentally-neglected kids, sweet, blonde Lisa (Emily Glaister) and the goofy, grinning carrot-top pompadoured Nilly (Eilif Hellu) discover that Doctor Proctor just created a fart powder that emits gaseous excretions that are both odourless and so powerful they can blow holes through brick walls and most importantly, so propulsive they can allow those who use them properly to fly.

Rival inventor Thane, steels the formula and claims it as his own. It's up to the wily kids to save the day, but they face formidable odds when they tussle with Thane's repulsively brutish twin sons (Arve Guddingsmo Bjørn, Even Guddingsmo Bjørn).

Alas, this is Doctor Proctor's only chance to finally hit it big and allow him to claim his rightful place amongst the world's greatest inventors. Most importantly, Doctor Proctor will never be able to claim betrothal to his one and true love unless he can amass a big enough fortune to satisfy the father of the woman he adores. Fart Glory is just around the corner - especially since NASA has shown keen interest in the Fart Powder for their Space Program.

Will justice be done?

Will our heroes save the day?

Will farts bring lovers together?

For a movie about flatulence, this is one sweet and lovely little film. It's original, funny and decidedly explosive. Pitting underdogs against the Status Quo is tried and true stuff, but add farts to the mix and you've got full-on, full-bodied happy-faced shenanigans to melt the hearts of even the most stone cold grumpy-pants.

I don't know about you, but I'll take farty-pants over grumpy-pants anytime.

Doctor Proctor's Fart Powder had its international premiere at the 2014 FantAsia Film Festival in Montreal.

Thursday, 24 July 2014

COLD IN JULY - Review By Greg Klymkiw - Jim Mickle Delivers the Goods (Again), Rocks @FantasiaFest 2014

Sam Shepard, Michael C. Hall & Don Johnson - Vigilantes? Executioners!
Jim Mickle's COLD IN JULY
Cold in July (2014) ****
Dir. Jim Mickle / Script: Nick Damici & Mickle
Starring: Michael C. Hall, Sam Shepard, Don Johnson, Vinessa Shaw, Nick Damici

Review By Greg Klymkiw

Dane (Michael C. Hall) is late for the interment ceremony. A preacher has just finished reading words over the body in a cheap wooden box and two gravediggers are already piling dirt into the maw of the six-foot-deep open cavity in the earth where the young man Dane has killed will lay for eternity. The Sheriff (co-writer Nick Damici) has assured Dane that all is well - it's an open and shut case of self-defence. After all, we're in the great state of Texas, where a man's home is his castle, where he shall protect it and his family against anyone who dares creep into his sleepy suburban abode in the middle of the night. Still, Dane feels the weight of his actions. While his little boy slept soundly and his wife silently padded into the living room, Dane squeezed off one well placed shot into an intruder's skull, spraying globs of brain and geysers of blood all over the wall and chesterfield. Still haunted by images of cleaning the remnants of someone who was once a living, breathing human being and now reduced to a squeegee sponge of blood and gooey pulp being squirted and splashed into the toilet bowl, guilt has sunk its teeth into Dane's very soul, like some pit bull from the depths of hell, with jaws to match. He knows now his life has changed forever.

Dane hasn't even had time to get out of his station wagon when he arrives at the cemetery. Then again, nobody would ever know he's been the lone witness to the tail-end of the burial. No one, that is, save for Russell (Sam Shepard), the lanky, grizzled and grimacing old man with a grey buzz cut atop his dome and a pair of shades he's removed to reveal his piercing eyes. The old man, seemingly appearing from nowhere, towers above Dane, dwarfed only by the big, old Texas sky. He leans into the open window, burning holes into the killer of his only son.

"Come to watch the shit go into the hole, huh?" quips Russell with a half smile. "Mighty Christian of you."

Dane struggles for words, knowing that whatever he says won't make the old man feel any better.

"That sure was a nice picture of your family in the newspaper," says Russell with a smile so warm, it's sinister. He dons his shades again. That huge orb of Texas sunshine's mighty powerful. "Your little boy," he continues, "He sure looks a lot like you."

Dane's face is frozen.

"Y'all have a nice day, now." And the old man strides away, old, but resolute and powerful.

We've all seen J. Lee Thompson's Cape Fear and while Sam Shepard is no Robert Mitchum (who in Hell could be?), one surely wouldn't want to be on this sonofabitch's shit list, either. As Russell, Sam Shepard is plenty scary.

Cold in July plays out in a tense, low key manner that at first seems similar to the classic 1962 revenge thriller, albeit with a dose or two of lithium, but all comparisons to Thompson's picture soon flake off like so much old paint on an abandoned farmhouse in some Texas dustbowl. The narrative transformation is, of course rooted in the striking screenplay adaptation of Joe R. Lonsdale's 80s pulp novel. Written by longtime creative partners Jim Mickle (the film's director) and Nick Damici (brilliantly playing the smarmy, corrupt local sheriff), the gorgeously crafted script takes us on a tortuously serpentine path of shocks and ever-mounting blasts of violence that keep our tiny hairs bristled, our mouths ever-agape and our jaws thudding ever-lower to the floor. And don't be fooled by the few loose ends that might plague you, but only after you've finished watching the film - they're as much a part of the intentional dives into straight-faced ambiguity as they are part of the strange social, political and cultural backdrop.

Lansdale's novel was borne out of the raging Rompin' Ronnie Reagan-omics. Add to this the Texas setting, a state overflowing with massive longhorn cattle, big old American gas-pig Mustangs, station wagons, mighty half-tons plus a gun culture wherein the right to bear arms was lightyears ahead of states that already had extremely liberal National Rifle Association (NRA)-approved attitudes to brandishing such weaponry to begin with. Here, we just plain gots are-seffs sum purty choice material ripe for Mickle-Damici's cinematic ropin' and'a ridin'. Their film is savagely funny, full of surprises and yup, just plain savage.

Shepard isn't the only scary-ass dude in this movie. Don Johnson as, get this, Jim-Bob, gets to yuck it up as a good ol' boy galut. He's a part-time pig farmer with the most behemoth-like porkers this side of Hog Heaven (and generous slabs of superbly white-fat-marbled bacon in his breakfast frying pan) and a part-time private dick with the shadiest connections imaginable. Jim-Bob boasts an arsenal of truly magnificent weaponry, a killer instinct to go along with his killer smile and one knee-slappin' sense of gallows humour. Plus, he's what you might call, in the parlance of white trash everywhere, good people.

The performance that never ceases to take one by surprise is Dexter-star Michael C. Hall. Shucking his persona from that annoyingly overrated series, Hall looks super-sexy-ugly, complete with a horrendous mullet and thick cop-moustache, Hall renders the mild-mannered picture-framing small business owner with a brilliant, underplayed hand which slowly and creepily mounts into that of a hardened killer - on the right side of the law, that is = or rather, whatever side of the law in the pulpy amoral world the film inhabits, that's less wrong than the other.

The trio of Shepard, Hall and Johnson become a perverse Texas version of The Three Musketeers fighting for love and country (in the sickest manner imaginable). At one point, the recently-released jailbird's son is disparagingly identified as "shit that don't fall too far from the tree", but as the lad has gone so far beyond even Dad's pale, Shepard himself remarks: "Whaddya do with a dog that keeps biting people? You either keep it on a chain or shoot it."

Shepard and Johnson play old buddies from Korea and they're both enveloped with a post-war ennui that lead them to take very different roads, at least on the surface. Deep down, though, it's a well-worn path they both share. Hall, of course, is mild mannered, but he is a product of gun culture and the almost-separatist Lone Star State DNA-hard-wiring of individualism that firmly delivers a sense of what's right, what's wrong and as such, doing right at all costs. It's the fluid of life-force that courses through his veins like a river wild. Though his character would have been too young to serve in Vietnam, he'd have grown up believing that it was a just and noble war. Add post-Cold War and Reagan-omics to his persona and he's prime material for bloodlust. Even though his first taste of blood renders him virtually immobile, it's ultimately the thing that leads his need, like a carrot on a stick, to see justice through - Texas-style, of course.

A warning: PLEASE be careful not to read much more than this about the movie before you see it. After my first helping, I scoured a variety of items and discovered WAY TOO MUCH INFORMATION!!! What in the hell is wrong with critics, puff-piece-scribes and flacks? Are they completely out to fucking lunch? Well, for my part, I saw the movie in a plumb virginal state - I even picked up a copy of the book, but didn't read it until afterwards. With that in mind, it would be unfair to reveal too many of the eye-popping, though perfectly natural twists in the story, but let's just say that the criminal element revealed is so appalling that we need to pinch ourselves to assure us we're not dreaming. One of the more grotesque elements that's revealed is the whole notion of organized crime in Texas. Johnson refers to it as "Dixie Mafia. Put "Dixie" and "Mafia" together in the same breath and you've got more scary-ass shit than you've bargained for. Even worse, however, are some of the activities the trio discover on a videocassette labelled "Batting Practice". Believe me, you just don't want to know. Well, at least until you see it to believe it and then, you really don't want to know.

Jim Mickle is a director who continues to dazzle. I hope he keeps making films with the same intelligence, prowess and independent spirit he's brought to bear on this film as well as his previously fine work Mulberry Street, Stake Land and We Are What We Are. I can't imagine the studios not wanting Mickle, nor can I imagine he doesn't want to make studio pictures either. He would benefit from their resources and we'd all benefit from his being able to keep growing, but he needs to remain resolutely his own man - so here's to the system not fucking him with an unwanted kiester-slam.

Cold in July is pure, deliciously vicious pulp fiction. It's as compulsive and propulsive as storytelling at its finest should be and it's marked with a tone and style that bears a unique, individual voice. There's no tongue-in-cheek, no cinema-referential indulgences and best of all, it remains true to its foul roots. There's a purity and cleanliness here that is absolutely and marvellously mired in filth, and we're all the better for it.

Cold in July played at the 2014 FantAsia International Film Festival, It's been released by IFC in the USA and by Mongrel Media in Canada.

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

GMO OMG - Review By Greg Klymkiw - Annoying, 1-sided personal doc about the GMO controversy misses boat.

Is it possible to take a documentary
seriously that incorporates the moronic
social networking acronym OMG in its title?
Yes. If the movie is actually good.
This one isn't.
GMO OMG (2013) *
Dir. Jeremy Seifert

Review By Greg Klymkiw

I sincerely believe everyone should see this film - not because it's any good, but because it's important for audiences to experience how egregiously an independently produced, but one-sided, misguided and all-over-the-map propaganda picture like GMO OMG can be just as dangerous to progressive thought and exploration of issues that affect all of us, as propaganda on the flip side from heavily-financed-and-approved corporate/political interests can be.

Let it be said, though, that these days, I have a fairly strong bias of acceptance when it comes to films dealing with environmental concerns. Firstly, I've always been against corporate culture, ideology and bureaucracy. I believe it's downright evil. Secondly, I've also been extremely skeptical about any political process and feel it's usually little more than legal organized crime devoted primarily to nest-feathering of the most blatant and petty kind. Thirdly, and most importantly, I'm somewhat ashamed to admit I came late in life to caring about our world in any green sense, but frankly, to use the well-worn, but perfectly reasonable expression: better late than never.

I've become especially committed to animal rights and hugely aware (and mindful) of both energy and environmental issues. To the latter, I've gone so far as to live completely off the grid, grow my own consumable food product (including free-range animal product of the egg variety) and rescuing animals from torture and inhumane slaughter. When I encounter films dealing with any of the aforementioned, I prick up my ears, sharpen my eyes and drink in the myriad of cinematic perspectives on such issues. That said, I demand the films be good - aesthetically and by extension, ideologically. GMO OMG is neither.

Filmmaker Jeremy Seifert is just your regular garden-variety Dad who became alarmed when he discovered just how much food he and his family consumed was derived from genetic modification. He chose to become a bargain basement Michael Moore and explore the world of GMOs by making a film about it. Fair enough, but what he's wrought is not only poor filmmaking, but does little more than preach to the (ignorant) converted. Even worse is that it places a valuable tool in the hands of scumbag corporations like Monsanto which employs vicious strong-arm tactics to foist their product upon food producers and consumers.

At the beginning of the film, Seifert professes to know very little about GMOs until hearing about them, so he first engages in what will be his uncompromising approach to investigative journalism as he asks ordinary Americans in the street what they think about eating GMOs. Well shucks, it turns out that the folks he approaches known nothing about GMOs and frankly, have never even heard of them. What this proves is the ignorance of the American people, or at least, the ignorance of the American people he approaches in his random fashion.

What the film ignores, is that many Canadians are well aware of GMOs (and proudly) since Canadian scientists at the University of Manitoba in the 70s first developed the exquisite and healthy Canola Oil (modified Rapeseed) which has become one of the biggest crops in North America. Yes, corporate scumbags in the 90s began adding herbicide resistant properties to the seed, but the only real threat here has been of the patent copyright variety. The only mention of Canola in Seifert's film appears to be in one of the many slick animated charts which look and sound like they're providing solid information, but are, in fact, delivering a whole lot of nothing.

Seifert includes images of Haitians burning GMO seed donated to them from Monsanto. Fair enough, the people of Haiti wish to grow their own natural variety of seeds and have bought into the anti-GMO lobby, but there's no investigation as to the corporate ramifications of rejecting Monsanto's donation and a whole lot of negative information about the dangers of not using "natural" products. Last I heard, human beings were "natural" and while some have used their considerable natural brain power to genetically/chemically treat a lot of things that are generally considered bad for you (Big Tobacco, anyone?), the film never makes any attempt (save for getting nowhere with Monsanto) to explore what the positives might be with respect to GMOs.

He interviews a variety of farmers about GMOs - some agin, others for and yet many on the fencepost. His line of questions are just plain scattered. At one point, and seemingly by default, he engages in a decent enough conversation with one farmer, then interrupts the flow, fumbles for a stupid question (which most of them appear to be throughout the film) and idiotically asks the gentleman if he's a God-fearin' church-goer and how this affects his use of seeds that might well be seen (moronically) as playing God. This is a dumb question on a number of levels, but mostly because it's a cheap (and clumsy) attempt to play into Right Wing Christian morality with respect to GMOs and, of course, the fact that many thinking people don't believe or are rightly skeptical of the notion of God within the context of what's been seeded (so to speak) by organized crime, oops, I mean, religion.

And let us, for a moment, get back to the Monsanto issue. The real problem here is that they are forcing farmers to use their product in a manner in which the corporation decides, at prices the corporation sets and then engages in endless legal harassment (the right of all God-Given Corporate assholes) of those rejecting them on a number of levels. Seifert touches on this, but he's more interested in getting Monsanto and its ilk to discuss and/or release their own scientific findings with respect to the safety and production issues of their seed. This is fair enough, but all we get here is the fact that Seifert's getting the runaround on the telephone (Duh! No surprises here, really) and when he physically enters Monsanto, all we hear is an audio recording of his conversation at the front desk wherein he is told to leave. The cameras remain outside until he returns to express his frustration.

Bud, if you really want to be Michael Moore, why aren't you in there with your cameras and worse yet, why are you giving up so easily? Afraid of getting arrested? That's commitment for you.

Okay, so Monsanto doesn't want to reveal any of this info and is being sneaky about it. The fact remains that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of the U.S. of A. has its own guidelines with respect to GMOs and has not only given them an okay, but seeing as it's based upon what Seifert and many others charge is a potentially low level of scientific investigation, where are the raft of scientists not employed by Monsanto and/or the FDA who agree with this? Where are all the politicians and bureaucrats who do agree? Why do we only meet one anti-GMO politician who wants greater openness with respect to the whole issue? Aren't there more? If not, why not? Seifert even whines about the legality of patenting seeds. How, he wonders, can life be owned by a corporation? Hey Bud, try taking a Business 101 course sometime.

While Seifert dredges up one scientist in Europe who's come up with some fairly damning evidence against GMOs, were there no others who could agree with him? And what about those scientists who refuted the findings? What do they have to say about it? Specifically, that is. Could they be right? Who says so? Why? Beats me. The film sheds no light on this.

Aside from what feels like a whole lot of personal home movie footage in the movie, Seifert engages in a series of conversations, photo-ops and experiments (strictly for the cameras) with his own kids. One of the little shavers always looks especially terrified - not, I suspect, by truly understanding the ramifications of GMOs, but by his potentially crazy Dad making him do a bunch of stuff that seems a whole lot scarier (to me, anyway) than any of the doom and gloom Seifert espouses.

One jaw-droppingly stupid and seemingly unnecessary "experiment" is when Seifert talks about how kids used to be able to run free and wild through corn rows, but that nowadays, because of genetic modification, the corn is full of potentially poisonous pesticides hard-wired into its DNA, making it dangerous to do so. What does the filmmaker do? He adorns his kidlets with heavy-duty, scary-looking body suits and gas masks, then forces them into the cornfields for the edification of the cameras. The suits are heavy and hot and once they're doffed, he and the children are drenched with sweat and out of breath. One of the kids is upset and crying.

Perhaps this isn't child abuse to the precise letter of the law, but it sure damn well feels like it. This and other such sequences with the kids seem so creepy, I almost think that if the film were directed and produced by someone other than Seifert, it might have, Sherman's March-style, turned into being about something altogether different from what it started to be about: that is, a documentary about a committed, well-intentioned Dad who goes in search of answers to his concerns about GMOs, then morphs into a documentary about a committed, well-intentioned Dad with a bunch of half-baked ideas who runs around trying to prove them and puts his kids through hell in order to do so.

I might have actually enjoyed that movie instead of having to infer it from the available footage in this one. Watching Seifert's kids gaze longingly out the window on a hot summer day as an ice cream truck rings its bell and seeing that they can't run out and grab a yummy cone because Dad tells them it has GMOs in it, has got to be seen to be believed.

There are many outright laughable items in this movie, but one of the biggest for me is that it would have you believe everything is genetically modified. There is, however, such a thing as ages-old breeding: all natural and all part of the long-accepted practice of shaping our agricultural product, uh, naturally. Seifert takes us to the famous Norwegian underground storage facility where every known seed to man (including those of the ancient variety), but all this does is make thinking viewers realize even more than man has been selectively modifying seeds since the beginning of time - doing it genetically does not necessarily mean it's a bad thing.

On a separate note, the movie is jam-packed with a whack of slanted, sentimental montage sequences meant to bolster Seifert's thesis (whatever it ultimately is, anyway) and using some of the most sickeningly twee original music I've ever had the displeasure to suffer through, I was more compelled to upchuck than be moved by the "sad truth". The tunes are warbled by a group called The Jubilee Singers. If, God forbid, you actually like the music, I'm sure it's available on the film's website along with other paraphernalia related to the film. It's strictly of the Kumbaya, My Lord variety, but if you're into it, knock yourself out.

Here's what I think you need to do. See this movie. However, see it at the myriad of independent cinemas that are playing the film across North America - you'll at least be putting money in their pockets. God knows, they deserve it. If you miss it on a big screen, though, skip it. No need putting money in the pockets of anyone else associated with this dreadful and, in its own way, dangerous, ill-informed propaganda.

GMO OMG opens for a limited run at Toronto's first-rate independent cinema, The Royal, on July 25, 2014. It's also playing in a variety of independent theatrical and non-theatrical venues across North America.

Here are some genuinely GREAT documentaries dealing with a variety of environmental issues (and/or just plain great documentaries) that you can buy at Amazon via accessing the various links below directly, and in so doing, assisting with the maintenance of The Film Corner.

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

COLD EYES - Review By Greg Klymkiw - Stunning Korean remake of Johnnie To HK cop hit @FantAsia2014

"Mmmm. I want whatever that gentleman has in his mouth in my mouth."
All Cops in Korea are Ultra-Babe-O-Licious!
Cold Eyes (2013) ****
Dir. Jo Ui-seok, Kim Byung-seo
Starring: Sol Kyung-gu, Jung Woo-sung, Han Hyo-joo, Jin Kyung, Lee Junho, Kim Byung-ok

Review By Greg Klymkiw

Whenever I see a slam-bang, supremely stylish and rock-solid Asian action thriller like Cold Eyes, I always shake my head and wonder why so many ludicrously-budgeted American studio pictures of a similar ilk are poorly directed and stupid? Who are the morons? The filmmakers or the audiences? I suspect both are equally deficient. The American directors have no real filmmaking talent and American audiences are bereft of brain. Since Americans are too stupid to watch anything in a language other than their own, the prospect of an American remake seems even more idiotic since they'd manage to take a terse, simple and intelligent script and just make it lugubrious, unnecessarily complicated (not complex, either - that word isn't in the American vocabulary) and just flat-out dumb. Astoundingly, Cold Eyes IS a remake of Johnnie To's solid meat-and-potatoes (or, if you will, BBQ pork and white rice) 2007 Hong Kong thriller Eye in the Sky. Given that To is no slouch, it's especially cool that co-directors Jo Ui-seok and Kim Byung-seo deliver a picture that blows his off the map (and most every American cop thriller from the past twenty-or-so years).

There are elements of Cold Eyes that are tried and true - a young cop (and, happily, a major BABE), has a lot to learn, but is still hand-picked by a tough-as-nails senior detective who knows that the "heart" is there in spades. After all, having the right stuff - in his books - trumps by-rote technical proficiency in the field. When she joins the team of high-tech surveillance detectives, a vicious and heretofore unidentified group of bank robbers led by a high-tech criminal mastermind, have successfully committed one similarly-styled job too many and the team is pumped to take the filth down.

Set against the energy-charged labyrinth that is Séoul, Cold Eyes is a tense, edge-of-the-seat cat and mouse action thriller that's replete with astonishing chases on foot and in moving vehicles, daring stunts, superb hand-to-hand fight scenes, shockingly blood thirsty violence and all the requisite and compelling cop/criminal dualities that any action aficionado will enjoy. The "cold eyes" of the title is an especially rich visual and emotional motif and refers to the ability to see everything in such detached detail on surveillance missions (and in the case of the villain. on a major heist), that one's mind becomes a sort of picture-perfect databank to supplement the gadgetry with the human element.

The surveillance sequences themselves have the kind of William Friedkin French Connection-styled doggedness that lets you see and feel the pulse of the streets and the monotony (without being a dull watch) of the days, weeks and even months of eyeballing as the most effective form of detective work. Much of the film is charged with the kind of short shots, quick cutting and hand-held work that just seems sloppy and noisy in virtually all contemporary American films and here demonstrates the genuine artistry of its filmmakers since there is never an unnecessary shot, virtuoso compositions and cuts driven by dramatic thrust as opposed to pure visceral propulsion.

Cold Eyes makes for a glorious big-screen experience and I'd urge viewers to do what they can to enjoy the movie that way. If not, try to watch it at home on high-def Blu-Ray (fuck streaming, digital downloads and DVD).

Cold Eyes recently screened at the 2014 FantAsia International Film Festival following a premiere at TIFF 2013.

Monday, 21 July 2014

ZOMBIE TV - Review By Greg Klymkiw - Lowbrow Zombie Spoof DeliversScads of Knee-Slappers @FantAsia2014

Surprise contestant on Zombie Wrestling: A HUMAN CANNIBAL!!!
A Virgin's Orgasm
Zombie TV (2013) ***
Dir. Maelie Makuno, Naoya Tashiro, Yoshihiro Nishimura
Starring: Ayumi Kuroki, Maki Mizui, Hiroko Yashiki, Jiji Bu, Iona

Review By Greg Klymkiw

In a world overrun by zombies, why wouldn't there be a specialty cable channel devoted to them? Indeed, that's what we get here: an 80-minute what-if sampling of said station in one of the year's most foul, grotesque and tasteless comedies. It's guaranteed to induce spontaneous urination from laughing long, hard and most prodigiously.

Zombie music videos? Of course. Zombie aerobics? Absolutely essential. Zombie beauty tips? Every lady zombie wants to look her best. And these are the relatively normal offerings on Zombie TV.

Nothing is sacred in this delectably idiotic, decidedly lowbrow and scattershot indulgence in hilarity of the flesh-slurping zombie kind. Do you find addled senior citizens funny? I know I do. Imagine an addled senior citizen zombie who has his own lifestyle show entitled "Zombie Walker" wherein the cameras follow the stumbling, bumbling, bone-headed Grandpa Zombie as he wanders through Tokyo shopping plazas to sample the multitudinous wares of only the finest shops and eateries. Zombies are clumsy and messy at the best of times, but when they're old, they're especially prone to accidentally breaking things or slopping their food all over themselves. And, of course, when senior citizen zombies moronically misplace their dentures, eating raw human flesh becomes nigh impossible.

And who doesn't enjoy regular professional wrestling matches? God knows I do, especially when they involve zombies. But, wait just a goddamn second, the latest episode of "Zombie Wrestling" has a surprise opponent for the champion Zombie wrassler. Normally, a live human being tied to a post in the middle of the ring is the quarry that two zombies must wrassle over, but not so this time. A human being has challenged the zombie and it's none other than a savage cannibal from the deepest, darkest, most backwards and savage jungle. With a frizzy afro, tusks jammed into his nostrils, white war paint adorning his blackface makeup and attired in a comfortable grass skirt to ensure better agility, he's bound and determined to beat a zombie to eat some raw human flesh. Who will survive? What will be left of them?

Delights of the flesh-eating variety are also to be found in the adventures of the beautiful, petulant and oh-so picky Pink Zombie as random humans beg her to bite them so they too can become one of the living dead. Yes, the residents of Tokyo are cottoning on to the fact that being a zombie is a pretty good deal - no cares, no job, no woes and lots of yummy human flesh to devour. It's Tokyo, after all. Last I heard they had one humungous population. Plenty of good eating in the Land of Nippon - if you're a zombie.

SQUEEZE THOSE
ZOMBIE FUN-BAGS
If continuing drama is your cup of green tea, there's plenty o' that on Zombie TV. One gripping tale involves an office worker who is bitten by a zombie, but continues to go to work as best she can - and nobody really notices much of a difference. Such is life as a worker-bee in a fluorescent-bathed corporate office. Eventually our heroine assists her lonely, grotesquely fat colleague by turning her into a zombie. It's the ultimate life-changer, don't you know? And, of course, one of the most touching dramas involves a male virgin hiding from zombies until he spots a living dead missy with the hugest breasts he's ever seen in his life. Will he risk all to squeeze those "water balloon fun bags"?

I'm sure you get the idea by now of what you're in for if you choose to partake of Zombie TV. Like all scattershot spoofs, it's hit and miss, but when it hits, it hits big, and you'll probably need major knee surgery from slapping it too hard.

Zombie TV enjoyed its Canadian Premiere
at the FantAsia 2014 International Film Festival in Montreal.