Sunday, April 29, 2012

The Unbookables

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion, that's fine. To each their own. I am just sharing my opinions and perspective. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 1-5. 1, of course, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being good and 5, being epic!

The Unbookables - 5 out of 5

Man, there really needs to be more documentaries that show the living hell and unbridled joy it is to be a stand up comic.  The Unbookables follows the tour of a comedy group established by comedian, destroyer of The Man Show and former Girls Gone Wild host Doug Stanhope.  The group is a collection of comedians who's concerns about making the audience laugh are put on the back-burner as they are more interested in raising hell and the ire of the audience with their dark comedy and getting their drink on.

Hey, he's on stage at the famous Jukebox Comedy Club in Peoria, IL!

Did Earl become a comedian after he stopped helping
people on his list?
Arguments, pranks and bad audiences fill the documentary as the group goes from club to club and to dive bar to dive bar.  Tempers flare over being fired, tempers flare with the help of booze and drugs and tempers flare because tempers are flaring.  This is a documentary for every person who's come up to me after a show and told me that my life must be a blast being a comic because this documentary perfectly shows that while it's a fun job, it can be one gigantic fucking headache as well.

Booze...causing 100% of the arguments in this film.

The Unbookables focuses more on the comics battling each other as they carve a name for themselves for being intentionally offensive and it would have been nice seeing them battle more with bookers and show producers but what we get is just as good because, let's face it, people like watching other people fight each other.  These guys hurl swears at each other with more energy and creativity than some of the jokes they are telling on stage.  The film spends more time as a "fly on the wall" watching the action unfold and there's little to no confessionals from those among the group, so what you get is completely authentic.  The doc likes to throw in clips of the men (and lady) doing their craft on stage but these act more as place settings or "establishing shots" that show where the group is as the main focus is the drama that unfolds when the mic has been turned off, the stage lights dimmed and the audience leaves the room.

Want to know what happened to his face?  Buy the DVD!

The Unbookables is a great glimpse into one of the many facets of stand up comedy that those who sit in the audience drinking expensive watered-down drinks and laughing at the butt and fart jokes don't get to see.  Is every comics' life like this?  Hell no!  When my shows are over, my only concern is to get out before some audience member comes up to me and tells me a long, drawn-out story that ultimately leads nowhere before he says something like, "You can use that story in your act."  But this movie gives a person a chance to see how messed up in the head a comic really is in all its raw and ugly bluntness.

The Wild and Wonderful Whites of West Virginia

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion, that's fine. To each their own. I am just sharing my opinions and perspective. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 1-5. 1, of course, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being good and 5, being epic!

The Wild and Wonderful Whites of West Virginia - 4 out of 5

There is one constant fact that exists on our planet:  Those who lack brains, make up for it in fertility.  That's basically a nice way of saying all the idiots in the world are breeding and no better documentary showcases that then The Wild and Wonderful Whites of West Virginia.

The film follows the infamous White family of West Virginia for an entire year.  Don't know the family?  Congratulations because then you are like me because I had no idea who the hell they were until my friend told me about this documentary.  Not knowing who they are also means that you probably have also dated outside your family.  The Whites are a group of coal miners sons and daughters in West Virginia who have a reputation of being slobs, trash, drug addicts and criminals...and the family is proud of this.  They've been immortalized in songs and are hated by all the good and decent folks of the county they live in--and the family loves this fact.  They loudly and confidently yell to the sky that they are Rednecks and, in my world, those proud of being Rednecks are people to avoid at all cost...and this film only reinforces this belief.

Jail...or as the Whites call it: Home.

The family is large on bodies and low on teeth as we learn that there were even more Whites who all meet untimely ends thanks to their love affairs with violence, drugs and guns.  There are so many Whites, it actually becomes difficult to keep track of all the Mary Bobs and Joe Bobs that start filling the screen and it made me wonder if the film should actually come with a score card in order to keep all them in order.  The doc has no real central theme other than watching the debauchery of a family who's gene pool is incredibly shallow and struck me as the type that has their own chapter in the KKK.  Now I know that sounds unfair to say because the documentary shows no sign that they engage in incest and show any signs of racism but when the film is littered with scenes of them consuming any pill that can be ground to a powder and snorted up their nostrils and rebel flags on every item they own, it's not hard to imagine they are burning some crosses on certain families' lawns.

HOLY FUCK!  Kill it, with fire!

When I first sat down to watch the film, I had expected to not take a single moment of the film seriously because it was produced by the production company Dickhouse--the company that made Johnny Knoxville and Jackass a household name.  The film was even produced by Knoxville and other alumni from the former MTV program.  However, production company names aside, the film was really well put together but incredibly difficult to watch.  I'm not trying to get into an ivory tower here but watching these despicable people consume more drugs than Hunter S. Thompson on vacation, brag about stabbing people and hearing the lady Whites talk about how their menfolk cheat on them with other family members make this doc extremely uncomfortable to watch and actually makes me feel that the US of A may be better off if the South did secede from the nation--it would certainly bring our national I.Q. up several million points.

The family proclaims this one to be the "hot" one.

To call The Wild and Wonderful Whites of West Virginia a train wreck is an insult to all train wrecks because this family is a massacre on a global level.  It's hard to watch but as much as you want to turn away, you find that one of the Whites is about you call you a "faggot" and threaten to kill and rape you (in that order) if you hit stop on the DVD player.  Even worse is the fact that there are probably those out there in their formal hunting camo who watch this and proclaim in their best Southern drawl, "Man, I want to fucking party with those people."

The Whites looked at this backyard and immediately declared the owners "millionaires."

It's funny because the Whites are very religious and
talk about the Lord and Jesus a lot in the doc.  It makes sense
because giving a kid cigarettes is exactly what Jesus
would do.
The subject material of the Wonderful Whites is not something pretty or enjoyable to watch.  The doc tries to make you feel for them as one member loses her new born baby and is forced to go to rehab in order to see her again and the matriarch of the family dies but when these scenes are immediately juxtaposed with more drug smoking, snorting and shooting and shirtless little boys with rat-tails hanging down their backs looking for frogs to stick M80s down their throats, it's hard to feel any sympathy for the Whites.  If anything, the film actually made me feel better about myself because of the fact I have indoor plumbing and can read.  In all seriousness, The Wild and Wonderful Whites of West Virginia is a fantastic documentary that is well edited and crafted in its production and layout and the family within the film is horrifying but interesting on a level that is equal to how babies are born (you know it has to happen somehow but you don't actually want to see the actual event and yet you can't look away) and the film is more than deserving of a score of 5 out of 5--however, due to the fact that I had to take a shower in boiling acid with a wire brush to remove the filth that came out of my TV from the White family and, in turn, took away any chance of me revisiting this film, I had to settle on a 4 out of 5.

American: The Bill Hicks Story

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion, that's fine. To each their own. I am just sharing my opinions and perspective. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 1-5. 1, of course, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being good and 5, being epic!

American:  The Bill Hicks Story - 5 out of 5

Bill Hicks...there will never be another like him.
No matter how hard Denis Leary tries to.
Bill Hicks has gone down as one of the greatest stand-up comedians in the history of the world.  He's been called the comedian's comedian and provided a truly original voice on the stage and earned his place among some of the greats like Richard Pryor, George Carlin and Lenny Bruce.  Whether comedians enjoyed his humor or not, there was no denying--even now--the man was influential and was something different in a world that has the habit of providing the same stuff over and over again.  (Seriously, go into any comedy club and you're going to find a lot of comedians doing jokes about 4 hour erections and some still talk about airline food.)  Even my own stand-up comedy career was influenced by Hicks.  His early stuff where he talked about his life and provided the audience with his own perspective of growing up molded me to pull jokes about my own life on stage.  American:  The Bill Hicks Story follows the life and career of one of comedy's greatest voices and American's greatest patriot who wasn't appreciated in his homeland the way he should have been.

Young Bill...a seasoned veteran barely out of his teens.

The documentary is told from the perspective of Hick's family and best friends who were there with the man from his near meteoric rise to fame to the stagnation and apathy he felt from the American audiences to his experimentation and dependency on mind-altering narcotics and alcohol to the gratitude and appreciation he found overseas to his untimely death at the hands of pancreatic cancer.  The doc is filled with archival footage of his performing in his younger days all the way to his very last performance.  Hearing the stories of Bill's past, his decision to become a comic and the stories of him tripping on psychedelic mushrooms with his comic friends are all entertaining to hear and help provide more substance to the man I only knew from his stage performance but the real highlight to the documentary is the presentation the film is done in.

If you recognize this shot, congratulations because you've seen the clip of
Bill tearing into a heckler the likes of which has never been seen.

The animations mimic the out-of-this-world life that
Bill found himself in.
For the most part, American stays away from the shots of the interviewees sitting in some random room that always has a single potted plant behind them (seriously, why is there always a potted plant behind people in interviews?).  Instead, the film takes photos of Bill, his friends and his family and animates them to tell the story that was Bill's life.  This unique method helps craft the almost unreal journey that the man took on his rise in comedy.  And, of course, clips of him actually on stage is right there along the way.  Like this one...

Even after his death, his comedy is still profitable.
He is the Tupac of comedy.
If you're a fan of Bill Hicks or if you're a fan of stand up comedy in general--even if you are a comic yourself either up and coming or a seasoned veteran, American:  The Bill Hicks Story is a documentary to watch.  Even if you don't agree with Bill's controversial views on religion and the government and even if you don't find the man to be funny, his road to stardom is an interesting one and the actual presentation this documentary provides that road with is something that shouldn't be missed.

Saturday, April 28, 2012


***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion, that's fine. To each their own. I am just sharing my opinions and perspective. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 1-5. 1, of course, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being good and 5, being epic!

11-11-11 - 2 out of 5

Oh are we a people of superstition and conspiracies.  Millions of years of evolution and all we have to show for it is paranoia on a completely ridiculous level.   You would think by now we would have the power to levitate objects with our minds or set things on fire with our minds or fly...with our minds--but instead, we have a society of people who find patterns in the meaningless and believe our world is going to end every year.  Sure there are those who don't buy this crap but, let's face it, those who are buying it are the ones talking about it the loudest.  Remember how Harold Camping said the rapture was going to happen?  Or how about how people believe that the Mayans predicted the end of the world despite the fact they are missing one crucial actual prophecy.  I hate to break it to you 2012'ers but the Mayans arbitrarily ended their calendar, the end didn't mean the ETERNAL end.

Well, anytime some numbers come together in a way that makes sense to those with basic math skills, predictions of troubled, possibly end, times are coming.  November 11th 2011 was one of those days that crazy people thought would mean something but, in reality, it was just a regular day.  Well, when these nutbars freak out about some pattern they believe they stumbled upon (WOW, all the numbers are the same, they must have racked their brain on that one!) you know some writer out there is ready to exploit them and make a bad movie about it.  Roland Emmerich, the man who is, arguably, the worst filmmaker in history, made ill-begotten money off the Mayan thing with his 2009 John Cusack as an invincible limo driver and one hell of a yeller film 2012.  If you haven't seen that one, check it out because it is awful...awfully hilarious!

Want George Clooney in your movie but can't afford him?
Then get a guy who kinda, sort of, possibly, almost resembles him.

The guy who wrote Saw II (Darren Lynn Bousman) has stepped up to take on the 11/11/11 theory.  If you're unfamiliar with the theory, there are those who wear tinfoil hats and believe that on 11/11/11, a portal to another realm (possibly heaven, hell or New Jersey) would open and the end of the world would occur or somehow a Conservative Republican would be born that would be for women's rights, for gun control and not be a complete racist tool.  As we all know, it is 2012 and the world didn't end and Republicans are still rich white women haters who hold their guns like the phallic symbols they are.  Anyway, Bousman released this film about a atheist writer who turns his back on God after his wife and child are killed.  He travels across the pond to Barcelona to be with his preacher brother and dying father as mysterious events start to happen to him as the faithful date of November 11 2011 approach.  Demons start to show themselves on the doorstep and it seems he may find his faith again as it seems that he is to step forward and protect his brother, a man who could be the prophet to usher in a new era.

This guy is a new prophet?  I hate him for his impossibly good looks.
When you see it...
I walked into this film with the same expectations I have when I walk into any horror film.  I almost knew it was going to suck, I just hoped it would make me the very least.  Shockingly, it wasn't absolutely terrible.  But as you can tell from my score, it wasn't brilliant either.  The story is just as silly as the people who cry the sky is falling but, believe it or not, it had some decent scares very early in the film.  As the demons start to make their appearance, director (Bousman again) made excellent use of light and shadow to hide the demons and give you just enough of a glimpse of them to give them a menacing but distant feel that gave me some goosebumps.  However, as the third act hit, he decided to give up the spooky factor and go for the funnybone as the demons mass on the house and their threat level hits zero.  Seriously, our main character just closes doors on them or walks past them.  I think the demon in the ParaBORING Activity film is more threatening than these guys.

So, apparently, the Wishmaster was cast to play all the demons.

The non-threatening creatures of the underworld get explained away as the film attempts to make a twist at the end that really wasn't that impressive and ends up making the entire journey of the film a near waste of time.  11-11-11 was nothing more than an attempt to make money on crazy theories that fill up the internet, so the fact that the film falls flat isn't really that much of a fact, it was kinda expected.

Fringe Season 3

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion, that's fine. To each their own. I am just sharing my opinions and perspective. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 1-5. 1, of course, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being good and 5, being epic!

Fringe Season 3 - 2 out of 5

When J.J. Abrams pitched this show, I can only imagine he said something like, "Okay, remember The X-Files?  Well, I want to do a show that nearly completely rips it off.  I want an actress who--and this is important--can't act to save her life play the female role with a former Tiger Beat coverboy backing her up.  The show will only have one compelling character and after a painfully formulaic first season, it will attempt to have its own mythology but, in the end, it will just further dive into the sci-fi cliche pool."

Granted it probably didn't go that way but I like to image it did.

Okay, I get it.  Abrams created and produces the show but do we really need to
include his love affair with the lens flare?

Fringe has a HUGE following on the internet (yet, despite this following, the show can't seem to get the ratings and that led to its cancellation after it airs its fifth season).  For some reason, this show speaks to a huge number of people and, to be honest, I don't see the draw.  To me, the show is very VERY mediocre and it only has one--just one aspect--that keeps me watching.  If you are unaware, the show is about an organization within the FBI that investigates fringe science--there's your ripoff from The X-Files.  A brilliant and eccentric genius named Walter Bishop got involved in some bad Frankenstein-type stuff in his younger, more naive days and it all came back to bite him in the ass later.  His estranged son and a young FBI agent named Olivia Dunham help him stop the monsters and accidents from his old research days in the first season that was unbearably predictable.

Great Scott!  Christopher Lloyd was on an episode this season!

As season 2 started, they moved away from the "there's something bothering an area that turns out to be a experiment gone wrong by Walter" to another sci-fi cliche...the parallel universe.  This parallel universe has become the show as it turns out that Walter's son, Peter, is actually the Peter from the alternate universe and Walter's act of opening a door to the next realm has had violent and catastrophic effects on that world and it's out for revenge.  Luckily for us, a reoccurring role from Leonard Nimoy helped the show keep moving forward--sadly, his characters dies.   As season 2 came to an end, the alternate (or more evil--and you know she's evil because her hair color is different!) Olivia Dunham changed places with the good Dunham in an attempt to bring the universe down from the inside with the help of a doomsday device.  Yes, even as I say (or type) this out loud, the stupidity of this show becomes painfully apparent.

This is pretty much the only face Dunham makes the entire season.

She's smiling in this scene but her character was
actually getting bad news.
Not much really occurs in Season 3 until the very end.  In fact, an overall story arc doesn't really come into play until about Disc 5 in the 6 disc set.  Most episodes are about either Dunham trying to get settled into whatever universe they are in and THAT is NOT a good thing.  The show's biggest detractor comes in the form of actress Anna Torv, who plays Dunham.  Torv is incapable of anything resembling passable acting.  She can't even master showing emotion as her face and the character's emotional state never seem to balance.  When she should be sad, her face is smiling and when she's suppose to be confused, she looks like she's going to vomit.  Her inability to convene emotions become so bad that it seems the directors of episodes even notice and actually instruct other actors to announce the emotion state her character is going through.  I'm not kidding, other characters will actually say out loud if she's angry, happy or sad. Having this bad acting and having a season that is nearly ENTIRELY centered around the character who is played by this bad actress makes for some bad TV because it pushes the only reason I watch the show to the back burner.

See?  Same face.  It seems she just gave up on trying to show emotions like
Kristen Stewart in Twilight.

What's the one reason I watch the show?  Walter Bishop.

The ONLY reason.

Without Walter, Fringe would be nothing.  Literally.
Walter is the only character on the show that is complex and interesting to watch.  His history is interesting and his emotional state is a rollercoaster as he can make you laugh and cry--sometimes at the same time.  To make things even better, he's played perfectly by John Noble.  With Noble's performance and the intrigue that is Walter Bishop, it's no wonder he's the only reason I watch the show as the series' premise isn't that interesting and most of the characters are flat (Peter Bishop) or played by a actress who's abilities are painful to watch, to say the least (Olivia Dunham).

Kevin Corrigan plays an interesting character this season...but we don't see
much of him.  Instead, they cram more of Torv's bad acting down our throats.

Without Walter saving the day, Season 3 is nearly unwatchable and only becomes more so after they realize they can resurrect Leonard Nimoy's spirit.  Unfortunately, that character's spirit inhabits Dunham and, if the season wasn't bad enough already with its Dunham emphasis, we have to endure several episodes of Torv performing the WORST Nimoy impression ever heard.  Honestly, after hearing her attempt to do this voice, it makes me wonder if it wouldn't have been better just to have Spock overdub his voice and if the decision to cancel the show actual came after having to endure that torture.

Nice try, Fringe but including the amazing Brad Dourif in the season finale isn't
going to save this mediocre season.

When the season starts to come to an end, the overall story arc starts to come into place as all out war is on the brink between the two realities and it seems that only Peter can unite the two.  The season ends on a nice cliffhanger that can make the rapid fans salivate as they can't wait for Season 4 to start but after enduring all the painful hours of Torv's awful acting and self-contained episodes that did little to move the show's mythology forward, I'm okay with waiting for Season 4 to come to DVD.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Sitter

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion, that's fine. To each their own. I am just sharing my opinions and perspective. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 1-5. 1, of course, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being good and 5, being epic!

The Sitter - 1 out of 5

When I first saw the trailer to this film, I thought, "Hmmm, I like this movie more when it was called Adventures in Babysitting" and after sitting through it, my thoughts haven't changed.

Because we all know that kids automatically equal funny in movies.
We really need a sarcastic font.

So, the story goes as this:  Jonah Hill plays a shiftless layabout who ends up babysitting some kids.  His emotionally abusive girlfriend calls him and coaxes him (through a man's only weakness:  sex) to come out to the city and get her some cocaine.  So, Hill's character decides to take the kids along and then one of the most painfully unfunny films I've seen in a long time ensues.

On IMDb, it's stated that this is the last film featuring the "fat" Jonah Hill.
Hopefully it is also the last film featuring the "unfunny" Jonah Hill.

The movie really wants you to find this kid to be
funny.  They just forgot to make him funny.
Nothing in this film works.  The premise is only a slight alteration from Adventures in Babysitting and all the jokes placed within its story are so ridiculously unfunny, it's almost like Dane Cook provided his own, non-stolen material for it.  Then, the movie wants to try and push the idea that Jonah Hill is a charming, sweet and insightful man that, mysteriously, women are drawn to.  The problem is Hill can't pull it off because he's too busy playing this role the same way he plays all his comedy roles.  And the kids...well, they're just plain annoying.  So, basically, they are your basic children.  The only saving grace of the film is the fact that Sam Rockwell is in it but he's far too talented to be attached to this film.  I can only hope he was bored when he accepted the movie or did it on a dare. 

Did you need the money or something?  You're better than this, Rockwell.

Adventures in Babysitting The Sitter can only be described as a weak attempt at doing a comedy.  Literally every problem within the film is solved too easily and too cleanly that it makes the film reek of mediocrity.  The film seemed to shy away from any real conflict and decided that every obstacle faced should easily be eliminated in order to get to the next easily overcome speed-bump and/or bad joke.  Add to the recipe that all the jokes held within are so unoriginal or completely unfunny that as I watched the film, I started to fantasize about doing more productive things like cleaning my gutters, doing my taxes or committing suicide.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Cannibal Holocaust

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion, that's fine. To each their own. I am just sharing my opinions and perspective. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 1-5. 1, of course, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being good and 5, being epic!

Cannibal Holocaust - 2 out of 5

I had heard about this film years ago but never saw it.  It is considered one of the most offensive and controversial films of all time.  It wasn't until a friend reminded me of its existence did I finally seek it out and actually watch it.

Cannibal Holocaust is about a film crew that goes missing while doing a documentary on cannibals in the Amazon.  A New York professor goes out to try and find them only to discover that they have left this mortal coil and all that remains is the footage they filmed.  The professor returns to the Big Apple and starts to put together a documentary about the lost film team.  However, after actually viewing what went on, he begins to have second thoughts...

Creepy molesting uncle or evil genius out to take over the world?

Why was this film so controversial and still banned in some countries to this day?  Well, when it came out, the death scenes seemed so real and authentic that the director was brought up on charges of indecency and murder.  I know this idea that people can be fooled into think a movie is real and not fiction seems like a silly idea--and even seems silly for 1980 when the movie came out--but bear in mind that there are people in the world who didn't know the Titanic was a real ship.  In order to sell the fantasy of the movie, the director made the actors who played the doomed film crew sign a contract that stated they would have to disappear for a year.  However, being pulled into court, director Ruggero Deodato quickly shredded the contracts to prove his innocence.  Once it was seen the actors were alive and well, the murder charges were dropped.  However the rumors that the film was an actual snuff film still exist to this day.

It was hard to find stills that didn't contain nudity, violence or death.
So...enjoy this building.

But Deodato didn't get away clean and free...

Within the film, graphic depictions of animal mutilations can be seen (and boy are they hard to watch).  Because of this, the film has been condemned and bashed for these scenes of animal cruelty.  However, it just goes to show you that as long as your film is critically acclaimed and wins Academy Awards because it has Marlon Brando in it *Cough--Apocalypse Now--Cough*, you can get away with killing real animals in your movie without being criticized for it.

Hey, is that Louis Gossett Jr.?

With all the controversy and hype behind the film, it's no wonder it achieved cult status and it is in this status that I enjoy the film.  This may sound odd but I actually don't like the movie.  It's grotesque and hard to sit through and the subject material is unpleasant to say the least.  However, unlike other films that are shocking for the sole purpose of being shocking *Another Cough--The Human Centipede II--Cough* this movie wasn't created to be just something to make the audience squirm.  Those behind Cannibal Holocaust were really out to do something different--something different that just so happens to contain scenes that would make an audience fidget.

Most shocking thing about this film...that man is drinking Miller High Life
from a glass.

Unlike most shock films, this movie actually has a story that is stronger than a piece of string that connects the brutal scenes together.  Even more unique is the fact that this film contains elements of the "found footage" genre long before the idea of "found footage" became an actual genre and meant we have to endure the unpleasantness of uncreative people and bad actors setting up camcorders to make gimmicky bad movies.  Even more interesting:  Porn actor Robert Kerman was in this as he attempted to get out of the adult film industry.  Sadly, this movie almost destroyed that legitimate career and he went back to banging ladies on film.

Uh oh, Kerman's porn instincts are kicking in.

Truth be told, I didn't enjoy Cannibal Holocaust as a film.  I enjoy it from a technical aspect, a film historical aspect and from a perspective of what it means for Free Speech.  The movie went into territory that was new and groundbreaking for the world of shock horror.  Sure we can blame it for giving us the awful Paranormal Activity movies but how were they to know that they were going to be kicking a hornet's nest when they added the fresh element of 1st person perspective.  The fact the movie has achieved cult status and the controversy that surrounded its production and release is another element I enjoy about it.  Anytime a movie, song or a piece of art can get people's collective panties in a tight wad is both fascinating and amusing to me--not to mention the fact the movie has been attempted to be censored all these years only to still exist in its uncut form is the ultimate victory of Free Speech.  I don't like Cannibal Holocaust because it's disturbing to watch and the story isn't really a cup of tea I'm comfortable with consuming but the fact it was made despite the naysayers trying to cover it up is what I like about it.  Unlike other films meant to just shock you and whether or not you agree, Cannibal Holocaust is a work of macabre art in the world of cinema.

Punching the Clown

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion, that's fine. To each their own. I am just sharing my opinions and perspective. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 1-5. 1, of course, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being good and 5, being epic!

Punching the Clown - 4 out of 5

It's about damn time they make a movie about assaulting the living embodiment of all that is unholy and evil in the world.  It's about time we get to see a film that covers the American Dream:  Punching clowns. 


However, it turns out my first impressions of the film Punching the Clown WASN'T about committing physical acts of violence on the painted fools in baggy pants who do more to induce nightmares than induce laughter.  Instead, Punching the Clown is a story about a satirical folk singer who gets tired of playing small gigs around the country and decides to make the journey to L.A. in order to find a bigger audience.  With little effort, our singer friend Henry Phillips finds himself getting noticed and getting big publicity without having to do as much as hum a few bars.  Sure he starts to feel the love of the crowd as he plays the same open mic every night but getting a record contract and a build up of negative press starts to form without any work on his part.

The record label dude in this film looks like how Captain Jack Harkness
would look if he let himself go.

The film is part mockumentary and all comedy as Phillips (a real life comedian and playing himself) sets out with the best intentions of playing his music and entertaining audiences only to find that life deals him a different hand.  The film is put together tremendously well as the shit-storm that is building up without Phillips' knowledge as he goes about his business is collected and paced perfectly.  Phillips also comes off as a perfect combination of kind, naive and innocent so when the trouble that has been building finally lands in his lap you feel incredibly sorry for him...but it's a comedy too so even though you're empathetic towards Phillips' situation, you're still laughing at the absurdity of it all.

The horrors he is seeing off screen cannot be described.

Punching the Clown is a witty and down to Earth comedy that tells a good story.  Phillips' songs that fill the film are enjoyable to hear and add to the humor and the jokes placed within are intelligent, creative and well crafted.  It stinks that it isn't a collection of footage of people taking out their aggressions on actual clowns but the product you get is nearly as good.  Let's face it, actually punching clowns in the groin, throat or face area can never be replaced by ANYTHING!

The Darkest Hour

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion, that's fine. To each their own. I am just sharing my opinions and perspective. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 1-5. 1, of course, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being good and 5, being epic!

The Darkest Hour - 1 out of 5

Okay, here's the movie...two guys--one being a condescending asshole and the other a cocky douche--travel to Moscow for some sort of website or app deal (I don't know because this plot detail is quickly covered and moved on from) and meet two ladies who have absolutely no character detail and calling them one-dimensional would be more dynamic than the actual product.  Well, these people are partying in a club with a bunch of other superficial types when all of a sudden the power goes out and the crowd goes outside to discover that big lights are descending from the sky.  All hell breaks loose as the lights start killing people and burning them to ashes.  The four main characters suddenly find themselves in a fight for survival as the entire world plunges into darkness...darkness caused by...lights?

Such is The Darkest Hour.

I can only assume the title has nothing to do with the actual story because the story doesn't take place over a single hour but rather over several days.  Nope, instead I believe the title refers to the hour you'll spend hating yourself in a deep depression because you just sat through The Darkest Hour.  

There is literally nothing working in this movie.  First off, the story of an alien race invading is pretty standard material but I guess the writer thought he was being clever by making the aliens balls of light.  There's actually more to the aliens that I won't spoil but even as we learn more about the aliens, it feels like they just took plot details from Independence Day and made some minor alterations.

LOOK OUT!!!  Lights...are...invading?

However, the worst aspect of the film is the fact the writing is just lazy.  The film begins by trying to offer up some backstory to the film's main male performers but then it is suddenly done away with as the writer either was too excited to get to the film's supposed action or the concept of having characters have some development to them caused painful headaches.  I'm going with the headaches because the two females characters lack even an attempt at giving them substance as they are just thrown in to provide symmetry with the two dudes.

"Hi, I'm Girl Number 1 and this is Girl Number 2.  We like shoes and other
stereotypical girl things."

Okay, so the two ladies have no real character and I'm 90% sure they didn't even have names and were only identified by their hair color but why did they have to make the two male protagonists unlikeable?  Having unlikeable leading characters is all the rage in films and T.V. now.  This dynamic works well depending on the genre you are working with but there is some genres it doesn't work with at all.  If your genre any/or film depends on you wanting your audience to root for the survival of your main characters, making those characters completely unlikeable means you just failed at your film.  Both main male performers were cocky, arrogant, condescending dickheads that spent nearly the entire movie talking down to those around them and, because of this, I was cheering on the light aliens to burn them to cinders the entire time.

Seriously, if the aliens killed these two within the first 10 minutes,
it only would have improved the movie.

Finally, as if the filmmakers were actually trying to make a horrible film, the acting is just atrocious.  How bad, you ask?  Well, the leading character is played Emile Hirsch.  Now you're probably saying, "But Ron, Hirsch was amazing in Into the Wild."  How can one be amazing in a role that basically required him to go outdoors and seemingly pose for pictures and do no real acting?  So far, I've never seen Hirsch give even a decent performance and he seems to outdo his own bad acting in this one.

I'm not even going to go into the silly "microwave guns" they start sporting
in the third act.

The Darkest Hour is just plain bad.  The film lacks even a semblance of an interesting character, the writing smacks of laziness, the acting is phoned in (at best) and the movie just flies off the rails as it suddenly turns into a laughing stock when the story goes from alien invasion to a bad comic book story line in the third act.  To put it simply:  The Darkest Hour is an hour and a half of your life you will never get back.