Monday, August 21, 2017

Tuesday Wednesday Break My Heart, or Thoughts on What Happened to Monday

You should know by now that I’m not usually a fan of green screens and actors reacting to tennis balls on sticks but if it means I get 7 Noomi Rapace performances at the same time, well, let’s just say that life is full of exceptions and leave it at that.  And speaking of Noomi Rapace, in What Happened to Monday (2017) she plays 7 identical sisters in a dystopian future where the state deals with overpopulation and a surplus of children by cryogenically freezing them instead of, say, eating them like in Soylent Green  (1973, sorry if I just spoiled a 44 year-old movie for you).  Think Orphan Black (2013) and Gattaca (1997) with a dash of The Parent Trap (1961) and The Hunger Games (2012).  Why, you may want to know, are there 7 identical daughters in the first place?  It has something to do with genetically modified crops, but the short answer is, it's the future, and it's best not to dwell on logistics and just move along.
At home, the sisters are named after the days of the week, which corresponds to the the actual day they’re out in the real world, sharing the same identity and job as Karen Settman.  Glenn Close does her best Dolores Umbridge impression as Dr. Cayman, the head of the Child Allocation Bureau and chief bad guy, while Willem Dafoe is the father figure.  I have to say it’s nice to see Willem Dafoe not playing a vampire for once or an evil genius, but rather a kindly grandfather genius who comes up with the novel deception and all the gadgets necessary to raise his seven identical grandchildren.
From director Tommy Wirkola, What Happened to Monday is surprisingly gory in places for a dystopian sci-fi film, but I would expect no less from the director of Dead Snow (2009).  These Netflix productions are hit and miss, but they are always ambitious and creative; I think the movie would have benefited from the extended timeline of a mini-series, maybe with an episode devoted to each day of the week.  But then again, that would just be Orphan Black starring Noomi Rapace, and Tatiana Maslany has already made that TV series.








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Saturday, August 19, 2017

Exterminating All Rational Thought, or Thoughts on David Cronenberg’s Naked Lunch



Yes, technically it’s William S. Burrough’s  1959 The Naked Lunch, of which Naked Lunch (1991) the movie is based upon, and don’t think I’m not one of those annoying people who have read the book and insist on telling you how much the book is better than the movie, because in my heart, that’s who I am.  However David Cronenberg’s 1991 adaptation tightens the novel’s loose assortment of plots and adds a surreal and disturbing undercurrent that lingers with the viewers for days afterwards, much like a bad high, which is, ironically, one interpretation of the movie.
Peter Weller is William Lee, a failed writer and travelling exterminator in 1950’s New York.  After shooting up his bug spray in search of a “literary high” his life descends into a conspiracy of talking bugs, lizard men and secret agent missions that lead him to the Interzone in North Africa.  Like I said earlier, one interpretation is all this is a response to injecting roach poison.  But the other, more intriguing interpretation (and you know the one I prefer) is David Cronenberg’s decadent, visionary and stylish misadventure featuring a host of actors at the top of their game including Ian Holm, Julian Sands, Roy Scheider and Judy Davis as Bill’s wife Joan.
The film is arguably David Cronenberg’s best, or at least in his top three, and certainly his best work from an adaptation.  His surreal direction coupled with extremely high production values help visualize an alternate mid-century New York, a fully realized world where working men hang out in diners straight out of an Edward Hopper painting and you know, receive secret orders from talking scarabs that are addicted to bug powder.

Pay special attention to the updated Saul Bass inspired opening credits, along with the Coltrane-ish jazz soundtrack by Howard Shore.  The camera loved Peter Weller; his angular face cast long shadows like a young Clint Eastwood, and in Naked Lunch he plays William Lee like a protagonist in a particularly subversive film noir, where everyone’s guilty and no one gets out alive.







you can follow me on twitter @newsuperantonio
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Friday, August 18, 2017

Nic Cage, Back From The Dead and on An Irascible Jaunt, or Thoughts on Drive Angry

Drive Angry (2011), from director Patrick Lussier of Dracula 2000 (1999) is a hard drinking sex and drugs and rock and roll horror movie (make that Southern Rock) featuring Nicolas Cage as John Milton (um, ok), who escapes from hell with the Devil’s gun (bear with me) and returns to earth to save his daughter from a satanic cult.  On the way he meets Amber Heard from John Carpenter’s The Ward (2010) driving a ridiculously cool 1969 Dodge Charger, and has a lot of topical jokes about flip phones in between ass kickings. 
If this sounds bad, or like an R-rated Supernatural episode, well, you’re not wrong, but in the movie’s defense it’s an original screenplay; this isn’t a remake or something based on a comic book, though it’s essentially a Ghost Rider (2007) without the motorcycle and flaming skulls.  I mean, you’ve been asking for more original content, haven’t you?
Watch out for one of my favorite character actors William Fitchner, who you will remember as the bank manager in The Dark Knight (2008) and also appearances in Prison Break, and Armageddon (1998), and an IMDb page of over 80 credits (and counting) as The Accountant, a demonic civil servant.









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Thursday, August 17, 2017

Another Zombie Panic At The Drive-In, or Thoughts on Chillerama



When a horror anthology starts with some drunken grave robbing that rapidly escalates to zombie necrophilia, the audience should have a general idea of where Chillerama (2011) wants to take you.  You have been warned, and proceeding further will only cause embarrassment for you and I.  A lighthearted, bawdy and affectionate portrait of the drive in movie experience and the horror genre, the movie is more fun than it has any right to be with excellent production values abused to make deliberately bad movies.  It’s a fine line, a delicate balance to make one of those so bad it’s good films, and the filmmakers of Chillerama have no problem jumping over that line and covering it in various body fluids.
The wraparound story is set at a drive in showing the movies, where the grave-robbing necrophilia works.  In the first feature, aptly named Wadzilla, a giant I believe the medical term is spermatozoa, runs amuck in the big city.  He’s a stop motion creature related to Seymour from Little Shop of Horrors (1986), but he doesn’t talk.  Watch out for cameos by Olivia Taylor Dudley as a buxom nurse, and Eric Roberts as General Bukkake which is either genius/hilarious or embarrassingly cringey. Either way, it’s a metaphor for the entire movie.
The second feature, I Was A Teenage Werebear is a gay coming of age surf musical on the beach.  Think West Side Story (1961) and The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975) with a dash of High School Musical (2006) and you’ll get the idea.  My nomination for the best and worst title in the history of American Cinema, The Diary of Anne Frankenstein, is in black and white and in German.  Reminiscent of Rob Zombie’s Werewolf Women of the SS trailer during Planet Terror  (2007) with a dash of Young Frankenstein (1974), in which Hitler steals Anne Frankenstein’s lab notes and creates a Jewish rabbi monster, as portrayed by Kane Hodder.
Directors include Adam Green of  and writer Joe Lynch from Everly (2014).  Oh, and there’s zombie virus in the popcorn butter at the drive-in.  Please don’t ask me how it got there.








you can follow me on twitter @newsuperantonio
you can read my books for free on amazon kindle,  or buy the paperbacks, available at fine bookstores everywhere (or on amazon).
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