Archive for April 2005

I’d like quite a few Singapore Slings, if you will

April 30, 2005

“Singapore Sling” (n English with Greek subtitles)

An in-depth review as inspired by my various responses to this film:

Please.

Oh Ricky

April 29, 2005

I like martial arts films. I’ve been a fan since the days when my high school friends and I would take the el (elevated train) from the Bronx, transfer to the subway and head on down to 42nd and Times Square to catch the latest Bruce Lee flick. We all began studying various forms of martial arts at the time and my friend, Paul, even went on to own his own martial arts school and became something of a celebrity in the field of Tai Chi Chuan. Back then, you didn’t have the “wire-fu” productions that have since become (rightfully so) so popular, here, in the United states (finally!). Bruce Lee was great, I’ll grant you – but none of his films were any match for a spectacle like “Hero”. Sometimes change is a good thing.

Sometimes, it’s not.

Enter “RIKI OH the Story of Ricky”.
I had heard a lot about this film. Mostly, that it consisted of an over-the-top, cartoon-ish approach to the martial arts genre. The story revolves around a young martial arts master who is sent to prison for killing an opium dealer. The opium dealer had kidnapped Ricky’s girlfriend and to get away, she decided that the most intelligent thing to do would be to leap to her death from the building she was held captive in. Yes, that’s exactly what I would do. When faced with a threat, one should always consider jumping off a building.
Anyway, while in prison (which appears to be privately owned), Ricky becomes involved in a conflict with the evil warden (of course) and his “gang of four” (martial arts masters – of course). It seems, not only is ridiculous brutality used to control inmates, but the prison itself is an opium factory. Ricky, being the valiant hero, takes exception to this. This is when all the “fun” begins. There are no words to describe the level of violence depicted. Personally, I love a violent film. I’ve always been that way. But seriously, strangling your opponent with your own intestines? Alrighty, then. We also have the infamous “head crushing” scene shown on “The Daily Show”. Yowza! I’ll admit, the scene where a blow from a fist punches in somebody’s skull shown in “x-ray vision” is pretty cool, but most of it just had me staring in stunned disbelief. As the movie draws to a conclusion, the violence escalates to a point where I just had to stop and say, “What the hell is this?” This movie is in a class all by itself. Some movies are just plain repulsive. But others can keep you glued to your seat in shock until you realize you’ve just spent a couple of hours looking at something you had no intention of wasting your time on . Bravo Ricky!

Next up “Singapore Sling”

Extreme? Why yes, it is.

April 28, 2005

So there I was, contemplating a new direction in movie entertainment. I had felt like branching out and the usual fare of 1950’s, childhood “Chiller Theater”, take me home country roads B-movies just weren’t doing it for me. I needed a break. I needed something new. Hey, what’s this I’m hearing about “Extreme Japanese Video”? I had never heard of anything like that before. The video site said “unusual”, “experimental”, “not for everyone”. Hey I’m not everyone. I’ve seen just about everything this world has to offer in my oft-times jaded, but never dull life. Forget that – I’m from New York City, dammit! Netflix is bound to have the one I just read about. Hey, it does! OK, sign me up.

The DVD arrived in 3 days. I came home from work about midnight. Poured myself some adult refreshment. Made myself some popcorn, inserted the DVD into my computer (using headphones, of course – I didn’t want to wake the family) and fired up WinDVD. I sat back and passed the bowl of popcorn to my viewing partner on the right. Unfortunately, it turned out that my viewing partner happened to be Mephisto.

Now showing – “Visitor Q”.

It’s an interesting commentary on our society that we keep pushing the boundaries of what is acceptable behavior. Obviously, when one considers that a relatively tame film such as Todd Browning’s “Freaks” could actually have been banned from viewing altogether for many years, we know that we have made several quantum leaps on our tolerance meters. Is there a limit to what should be filmed and is there a relationship between skillfully crafted films and a cut-off point where the costs outweigh the gains? Yes, of course. In my opinion, that cut-off point lies well within “Visitor Q”. The insidious thing about a film like this is that an argument could very well be made for the brilliance of it’s technique and the guts of it’s director, Takashi Miike for pushing the limits of cultural mores in order to realize his vision. You betcha.

The story, in a nutshell revolves around a TV show reporter who’s career has taken a nose-dive. In his panicky endeavor to create a documentary depicting violence and sex among the current Japanese youth, he begins to use his dysfunctional family as material for his project. Enter Visitor Q. Here we have a character that says and does very little. However, his actions have a profound effect upon the direction and focus of each of the four family members. The family, consisting of the father, mother, son and daughter each have some serious issues that break just about every Japanese (and non-Japanese) taboo regarding incest, drug use, violence and compulsion. This is not for the squeamish.

The most bizarre aspect of “Visitor Q” is how it makes a technically skilled attempt to turn the horrendous into twisted humor. The greatest horror that the movie evinces is the soiled feeling many are bound to experience when they finally have a chance to contemplate exactly what they may have momentarily found amusing. Afterwards, I had to watch 3 showings of “The Neanderthal Man” (1953) before I felt like I was back to a healthy state of mind. And that’s saying something.

Next up: “RIKI-OH The Story of Ricky”

I’m Back (Whew!)

April 27, 2005

Well, that was a long spell of frantic work and sleep. Oh yes, that’s right – eating. I did get some meals in there, as well. I think. Now, that I have budgeted my time, I can still work the insane hours and still have time for a microscopic semblance of a life until the rest of this typhoon blows over. The only really tough part is coming up with things to write about. It certainly won’t be about too many things current, since I’m not sure how interesting a diary of daily work issues would be (unless my name was Scott Adams – which it’s not).
My wife, Cheryl, has a distinct advantage over me in that she’s worked in psychiatric nursing for a number of years. There was a time, there, when just about every day she came home with some bizarre anecdote involving some patient and their “alternate” view of reality. Sitting here in the relative quiet of an after hours time in my cubicle, I’m reflecting back to a conclusion that I’m sure many folks share. Namely, we’re all insane to one degree or another. It’s mostly a question of functionality. How often have you been associated with an individual and just wanted to say, “Do you realize how crazy you actually are? I don’t mean as in a ‘wild and crazy guy’. I mean as in Hannibal Lector crazy.” No lie – I’m amazed at how some people function. It’s as if the world is providing this amplified buffer. As long as you can avoid ending up on a street corner talking to that interesting person who just isn’t there (and having that meaningful argument), chances are you’ll be OK. You’ll find work, of some sort. Find a mate and by golly, reproduce. Then your brood can trundle off to infiltrate the world and assist us all by providing us with fast food selections we neither ordered nor wished to try. After all, variety is the spice of life.
Next up, movies I wish to all that’s holy, I had never sat through.

No Blog for a Couple of Days

April 19, 2005

My commitments at work has increased my hours to over 12 per day for the next couple of days. I’ll be back to my old routine soon, though.

Sunday

April 17, 2005

It’s Sunday – my day to take it easy and get some rest.

Star Bore

April 16, 2005

Well, here we are. Another beautiful day, outside, while finding myself in the dungeons of work. I’m seriously looking forward to Saturdays off, again. It’s especially tough at springtime. The winter has worn everyone down and now things are beginning to feel new, again. Maybe if this place had a few windows. I’ve come to cherish the memories of places I’ve worked that gave me the opportunity to look out a window on a brilliant, sunny day. Maybe I’m getting old, but I feel like life’s come to a sudden halt and I find myself on an endless treadmill. The hamster and the wheel scenario.
Or maybe it’s because I decided to watch “The Star Wars Holiday Special“, again, last night (yes, you got that right. I said “again”). Man, what a depressing bit of crap that was. I keep getting drawn to it like a masochist to the whipping post. It’s like watching a very long, drawn out train wreck with body parts a-flyin’. Although, I have to admit a certain fondness for Diane Carrol’s number. There’s something about that song that I find extremely haunting. The rest of the show is just plain wretched. You know you’re in for some pain when you’re watching something that involved Carrie Fisher singing (!). Was she high or what? I guess she decided to get coked up after reading the script. Not to mention the fact that she seems to have left her bra at home. The horrors of type-casting. Just ask Anthony Perkins (well, if he wasn’t dead, that is). One minute you’re in a hugely successful movie with pastry buns affixed to the sides of your head. A year later, there you are – strung out, braless and embarrassing yourself by singing a bizarre version of the “Star Wars” theme. Badly. With pastry buns affixed to the sides of your head.