Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Bloodrayne=Easily best film of the year

So I rented this movie thinking it was a Russian vampire flick I had been hearing great things about and I'm an admitted sucker for horror films good ones and bad ones alike. Boy was I wrong. Once I found out I was wrong I put off watching it until the last day of rental at 3:00 a.m. while spelling my wife with our crying baby. Wow it sucked! It only had 3 good qualities through the whole thing they are.

1. It put my daughter to sleep finally.

2. I kinda have this weird fixation with Michelle Rodriguez, I think I like that she's atractive and can kick my arse.

3. It had some good nude scenes if your into vampire orgies and all

Yeah so basically I screwed up bad on this one, now I have to watch The Godfather I, and II back-to-back in order to clense my soul of this atrosity

Monday, May 29, 2006


This film was great. Very enjoyable to watch. Well written, directed, and acted. Entertaining and original and refreshing. But I was skeptical when I read the premise - I wasn't too excited to see a high school noir.

Don't get me wrong I love high-school movies Better Off Dead, Three O'Clock High, Breakfast Club, Fast Times at Ridgemont - they're all classic. But I just felt that a noir set in high school would be too gimmicky and they wouldn't be able to pull it off.

Well they did pull it off and it's probably the most enjoyable theatre experience I've had this year.

For those Utahns in the group - it's currently playing at the Broadway in SLC.

A Manifesto

Hello, About Films enthusiasts. Jordan was kind enough to invite me here and it's been fun reading your stuff and getting some new recommendations.

As you may know, all important movements in film history began with a manifesto: Francois Truffaut and his article on "A Certain Tendancy in French Cinema"; New German Cinema and the Oberhausen Manifesto, Lars Von Trier and the Dogme 95 (not so important, historically, but a good read nonetheless). And so, in honor of Memorial Day, and everything that this holiday implies in the film world, I think it's time to publish my own manifesto.


Here's a list of what's showing at the local theatres this weekend: X-Men 3, Mission Impossible 3, Poseidon, The DaVinci Code, Over the Hedge, Akeelah and the Bee, The Sentinel, Just My Luck, RV, Stick It. Not a human moment to be found in the whole lot, just a vast wasteland of forumlas, charicature, and well-polished turds. Of course, that's just one weekend, and there are brighter things on the horizon (Superman, A Prairie Home Companion, Marie Antoinette) But even still, where's the spontanaeity? Where's the imperfection? Where have you gone, John Cassavetes? A Nation turns its lonely eyes to you...

Therefore, when the time comes (and it will come) to make our own films, we present the following Code of Honor:

The Lawson Code: We, the Lawson Brothers, will only make movies that F'ing rule*.

The Lawon Law: A movie that F'ing rules should contain at least five of the following:
1. a kick or projectile to the groin
2. male nudity
3. gratuitous use of the S word
4. Rowdy Roddy Piper (or any 2 professional wrestlers)
5. mutants, vampires, elves, or zombies
6. family members in the cast, playing themselves
7. A complete disregard for the 180 degree line.
8. holding hands and maybe even kissing.

9. A discussion of which is the best album by ________.
10. Shirtless guys (similar to, but substantially different from rule #2)
11. A shot of someone wetting their pants
12. A complete disregard for "continuity" and "suspension of disbelief"

The following strategies should also be implemented:

1. Cut the pretentious crap. Every film festival is full of boring pretentious crap. Don’t add to it.
2. Lighten up. I mean it. Don’t make excuses for boringness by saying, "it’s transcendental." That’s like saying, "Um, I meant for it to be a little out of focus." Or, if it is serious, then go for it, man. None of this wishy washy stuff.
3. "Am I going to enjoy the process of making this?" If the answer is no, refer back to rule #1.
4. No special effects. Unless you don’t care that it obviously looks like a special effect.
5. Overestimate time and budget
6. No fancy camera movements just because you want to have a fancy camera movement. Stick to what fits the moment
7. Get Diego's for catering. Or Demae, if it's Tuesday.


The Lawson Brothers:
Brandon Arnold
Hubbel Palmer
May 29th 2006.

We are currently taking applications for induction into the Brotherhood of Lawson. If you desire, please post any suggestions or addendums to the Code of Honor.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Mighty Aphrodite

Mighty Aphrodite (1995)-

Mighty Aphrodite was great. Mira Sorvino won an Oscar for best supporting actress and it was well deserved. Many of Allen's films have at least something different, some story-telling device that's original or different (maybe to hide the fact that the rest of the movie is similar to another). In this one it's the Greek Chorus collectively chanting story elements that link this one to Oedipus.

I'm not ashamed to admit to being a huge Woody Allen fan and am proud to say that after watching this one I've seen 25 of his 33 feature films (the ones he's written and directed - "Play It Again Sam" would make 26 of 34 but he didn't direct it). Anyone seen them all? It's a little daunting the way he cranks them out year after year. And then when you thought you'd seen most of them you find out about September, Interiors, and Alice. Whaaa Happen?

Because he's produced a film every year for over thirty years now his are interesting to study in the context of an artist going through different periods where different influences shape his work. Almost in a Bergman way. He seems to have gone through some interesting phases in his career; from the brilliant slapstick and absurdity of Bananas and Sleeper and Love and Death, to the romantic/dramatic Annie Hall and Manhattan, the nostalgic Purple Rose of Cairo and Radio Days, the moral questionings of Crimes and Misdemeanors and Hannah and Her Sisters, the purely hand held and hilarious and perfect - Manhattan Murder Mystery (my favorite), to the drama/mocumentary style - Husband and Wives (see Bergman's Scenes of a Marriage), to the sweet and phenomenal Sweet and Low Down, through a few down years, and then to the London phase - Match Point, Scoop (just completed), and untitled Summer 2007 project - all filmed in London.

His films aren't all brilliant or even original. It seems that he often does the same story and same scenes over and over again but evenso I always like watching them. And you got to respect the guy for his work ethic at least. Or maybe you don't.

Thieves Highway

Thieves Highway (1949)-

Drew thanks for the recommendation! I thoroughly enjoyed Thieves Highway.
There were some really amazing scenes, great acting, and vengeance.

Criterion's release has an interesting interview with Jules Dassin wherein he recalls fondly the time spent working on the film and a little less fondly the way in which he found out that the producer had reshot the ending while he was in Europe.

Friday, May 19, 2006


I don't remember if I recommended this film yet. I absolutely love it. It is a character peice and who better to play characters than Pacino and Hackman. They work very well together and it reminded me how good they both can be. Pacino's acting style has evolved greatly from his earlier days. This film is an argument that it hasn't evolved for the better. Hackman plays Max who has been in the slammer and Pacino plays Lionel who has been away at sea. Max has been sending his prison wages back to a savings and loan in Pittsburgh, and Lionel has been sending his to a wife in Detroit and a child he's never seen. They hitch up on the Coast and hit the road with a dream of their own car wash. What they discover about each other is really the heart of the film because the plot doesn't really take you anywhere. The portrayal of Max and Lionel has much in common with Martin Sheen's portrayal of Charles Starkwether in Badlands. These characters are not admirable or courageous and yet they are likeable and interesting. Also they are familiar and yet they are unpredictable. The film was directed by Jerry Shatzberg who also directed The panic in needle park which I am curious to see but is having DVD distribution problems. The directing style has a lot in common with Hopper's Easy Rider, or a Bob Rafelson movie particularly five easy pieces. Scarecrow feels very improvised and free. Even though many of the same themes are present, I think it plays much better today, than Easy Rider or five easy pieces does.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

American Dreamz, Team America, Ong-bak: Thai Warrior

American Dreamz (2006, dir. Paul Weitz, starring Dennis Quaid, Mandy Moore)
"The Catholic and the Communist are alike in assuming that an opponent cannot be both honest and intelligent. Each of them tacitly claims that "the truth" has already been revealed, and that the heretic, if he is not simply a fool, is secretly aware of "the truth" and merely resists it out of selfish motives." --- George Orwell

That is the problem with American Dreamz and why it's satire is as fresh and effective as a moldy dishrag. Every political character is either evil (William Dafoe as the Chief of Staff) or stupid (Dennis Quaid as President Staton). Also I don't consider the belief that President Bush is stupid to be cutting edge satire. I've been hearing it on late night talk shows for six years. Sorry, if Jay Leno is six years ahead of a movie, it's not edgy, fierce, or effective.

That being said, the acting was great and I was never bored. If only the story and ideas weren't trite.

Team America: (2004, dir. Trey Parker)
I know I'm in the minority on this, but Team America is a very funny movie. I just watched it for the third time and still laughed through out. Watching puppets vomit and fight is funny to me.
Trey Parker and Matt Stone are the only people doing fearless and brave satire today. (If there is anyone else, please let me know.)
And the completely foul and disgusting analogy of American power (which I will not repeat, cause I'm not sure how anyone else in the group feels about profanity) is more savvy than anything in American Dreamz.

Ong-Bak:Thai Warrior (2003, dir. Prachya Pinkaew, starring Tony Jaa)
The first Jackie Chan movie I saw was First Strike. I left the theatre giddy and exhausted. Every couple of years a movie will hit me that way. I was hoping Ong-Bak would do the same, and I think it might have if I was in a theater. Tony Jaa is incredible. He doesn't use any wires, and it looks like the fight scenes hurt. I'm anxious to see his other movies.

By the way, some other films that have left me punch drunk are - Singing in the Rain, Babe 2: Pig in the City, Out of Sight, Kill Bill vol. 1, Jackass, Bottle Rocket and Rio Bravo.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Munich, Nobody Knows, Clan of The Cave Bare


I liked it. I think if I saw it in the theater during oscar season with all the hype surrounding it I would've found more faults in this one. But overall i liked the movie - not a "best picture" by any means but a good film.

Nobody Knows:

directed by Hirokazu Koreeda. he also did "After Life" which I love. "Nobody Knows" is a beautiful and tragic film based on a true story about a woman who abandons her four young children in Tokyo. Koreeda has a way of making a slow moving film watchable and interesting in all it's mundane moments.

Clan of the Cave Bear (1986):

I had no idea that this film existed until a friend told me about it recently. It stars Daryl Hannah as a cro-magnon woman living amongst neandrathals. it's the type of movie that if watched in a large group will be made fun of the whole time (MST style). Watch it by yourself or with a small group of people that aren't trying to be funny and it's an awesome film. Trust me, it could have been much worse. Besides there are so few serious movies about the conflict between neandrathals and cro-magnons making this one a precious gem.
I really loved it in spite of it's weirdness (and probably because of it).

Thursday, May 11, 2006

The Man Who Laughs/ Faust/ Straw Dogs

The Man Who Laughs (1928, dir. Paul Leni, starring Conrad Veidt)
1. It has nudity. I didn't realize they allowed that back in silents.

2. It also has a wussy courtier stick his finger in a yawning man's mouth. I didn't realize anybody did that outside of my fifth grade class. I was delighted. That was the moment that the film went from great to genius. It is the best noncomedy silent film I've ever seen.

3. The hero's mouth was carved into a grin by gypsies when he was a child. In the opening scene the boy, with a scarf over his mouth to hide his grin, wanders through a snowstorm, and finds a frozen lady with a still alive child in her arms. It is one of the creepiest, saddest and most beautful scenes I've ever seen in a movie. Four out of four stars.

Faust (1926, dir. F.W. Murnau, starring Emil Jannings)

1. Also has nudity.

2. Two creepy scenes. When Faust first sees the devil and he's a wizened old man with shiny eyes and creepily polite. And also the scene where the plaugue hits the town. I liked the movie. I liked it alot.

Straw Dogs (1971, dir. Sam Peckinpah, starring Dustin Hoffman)
I told a friend I may be moving to Wales later this year. He told me to rent this film to see what I was getting into. Apperantly if the Welsh villagers invite me to go duck hunting, I should say no, since they'll get me out in the woods, tell me to sit in a meadow and wait for them to flush the ducks towards me. But really they plan on leaving me in the woods all day while they rape my wife.
Real mature guys, real mature. Maybe in Great Britain they find that joke funny, but I think a line's been crossed.
I try not to use the f-word in my reviews, and I won't start now, but this is the kind of sick and twisted movie that it would be appropriate . Wait, I've changed my mind. This movie is effed up.
Strangely, it is also a haunting movie, and perhaps a moral one. I don't know. Not one I'll watch again, though.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Mission Impossible 3

I went and saw MI3 this weekend. I had a free ticket that came with a DVD I bought. In addition to the free ticket the theater I go to has a promotion going this year in which if you buy the souvenir cup and shirt you get free popcorn and 1$ drinks for a year. So I saw MI3, got popcorn, and a drink for 1$! As you can imagine this put me in a good mood and my mood only got better. MI3 was really fun. I think that it is the best of the three, which really means it was better than the first one. The movie had its obvious flaws but if you loose yourself in the movie it doesn't matter.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Frat House

I come bearing gifts. Maybe some of you have read about Frat House the documentary by Todd Phillips (Old School, Starsky and Hutch). It won the 1998 grand jury prize at sundance. HBO bought the rights and since then it has never been aired. And HBO refuses to sell back the rights to the directors. Supposedly some of the subjects have threatened to sue. Every once in a while I'll meet someone who claims to have seen it and they'll rave about it. I finally saw it.

It's on Youtube. Part one, part two is missing, part three, part four, part five, part six, part seven.

It's equally funny and disturbing. My favorite character is Blossom. And my favorite part is when Blossom goes ape crap.

So if any of you have heard of this movie and wanted to see it, here's your chance. It's really good.