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Get the Gringo… or How I Spent My Summer Vacation

Mel Gibson at the cannes film festival

Mel Gibson at the cannes film festival (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“Well it was bedtime at El Pueblito, but it looked like all the good pieces of dirt were taken…”

 

Mel Gibson has had a rough time in the past few years (after his drunken rant) despite the fact he’s an oscar winning director and one of the biggest action stars of the past few decades. So forget the Mad Max films and the Lethal Weapons and focus on the Bravehearts and Apocalyptos of this world – and look up one of his best movies you might have missed (barring Edge of Darkness).

 

Billed by many as the unofficial sequel to Payback Get The Gringo (or Kill The Gringo or How I Spent My Summer Vacation) is a mexican prison movie starring Mel in a tight action/drama piece that reminds us how big a star he is. After The Expendables 3 Mel might let his star shine bright again, but if you’ve passed this one up it’s well worth a viewing and seeking out.

 

Mel is on top form as our unnamed protagonist (“Richard Johnson” (or Dick Dick..) ) in a brilliantly paced movie that has oodles of deadpan humor among the realistic action pieces as we discover just why he’s incarcerated and how he’s going to solve his dilemma. You get the feel that this isn’t a throwaway comeback (I’m looking at you Arnie!) even if it doesn’t pretend to be something it isn’t. Mel Gibson knows what makes an exciting film, and perhaps more importantly understands what audiences want to see, as everything from the mariachi soundtrack through the gritty hellhole chic reminds us that exciting quality action cinema doesn’t have to be dross.

 

It’s the internal dialogue that makes the film. Mel Gibson’s deadpan narrative shows everything from his resignation through survival as he susses out what makes the prison tick and you can’t help but chuckle and wince in equal parts. As prison dramas go this is up there with Midnight Express if you manage to mate the darkness with the comedy, and  it shows that Mel Gibson is still a force to be reckoned with – remember his hollywood “exile” was self imposed as he still largely has the comfort of being able to finance and make his own movies!

 

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Ashens and the quest for the Gamechild / Knightmare

Ok. This is an exclusive, full length movie exclusively on Youtube . It’s really a no-budget film , released on TheMultiverse Youtube Channel that was started by Warwick Davis . It’s also part of Youtube’s Geek Week.

The plot concerns Ashens, a collector of “tat”, seeking out the elusive Gamechild. It stars various Youtube characters (plus special guests), especially Stuart Ashen (famous for his reviews of junk gadgets).  I was really quite impressed by the filming and camera work and it reminded me a lot of the Simon Pegg / Nick Frost style, with perhaps a smattering of The Mighty Boosh. It has that slightly left-field British comedic feel. As they say YMMV but I was entertained for the full hour-and-a-half, which I can’t say is true for many recent releases!

The best way to watch this is probably to download the HD version with a Youtube tool, since Youtube’s buffering seems to be a bit hit and miss these days.

 

There’s a lot of other interesting stuff in the same Geek Week vein including the Knightmare one-off (a childrens TV staple for those of a certain age). That was filmed with the original dungeon master, in the original studios!

 

 

 

The Galaxy Song

Monty Python Sings

Monty Python Sings (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“Whenever life gets you down, Mrs. Brown…”

And so begins one of Eric Idle ‘s most memorable songs from Monty Pythons Meaning Of Life. A fun little dittie about how special we all are. Or worthless. Take your pick…

Just remember that you’re standing on a planet that’s evolving
And revolving at nine hundred miles an hour,
That’s orbiting at nineteen miles a second, so it’s reckoned,
A sun that is the source of all our power.
The sun and you and me and all the stars that we can see
Are moving at a million miles a day
In an outer spiral arm , at forty thousand miles an hour,
Of the galaxy we call the ‘ Milky Way ‘.
Our galaxy itself contains a hundred billion stars.
It’s a hundred thousand light years side to side.
It bulges in the middle, sixteen thousand light years thick,
But out by us, it’s just three thousand light years wide.
We’re thirty thousand light years from galactic central point.
We go ’round every two hundred million years,
And our galaxy is only one of millions of billions
In this amazing and expanding universe .

The universe itself keeps on expanding and expanding
In all of the directions it can whizz
As fast as it can go, at the speed of light, you know,
Twelve million miles a minute, and that’s the fastest speed there is.
So remember, when you’re feeling very small and insecure,
How amazingly unlikely is your birth,
And pray that there’s intelligent life somewhere up in space,
‘Cause there’s bugger all down here on Earth .

It works better if you see it, so here’s a clip from the always dependable YouTube.

 

 

UK viewers may also remember this advert for  Courts furnishers

 

 

 

I’m not sure how accurate the song is, and I did wonder (as you do) and turned to Wikipedia. However, there’s no need. A study by Paul Kohlmiller shows it’s pretty damned accurate, or accurate enough to work lyrically at least!

Well done, Eric.

 

P.S. A reworked version called the ” Galaxy DNA Song ” is just as good, about, well, biology and life as opposed to physics… This was written for Professor Brian Cox ‘s TV series.

 

 

 

The ABC of Cinema (and Games)

Here’s some quick fire video tributes to popular cinema hits and video games. All are lovingly animated with great use of sound, from Evan Seitz on Vimeo .

 

ABCinema from Evan Seitz on Vimeo .

123Films | ABCinema Ep.2: Numbers from Evan Seitz on Vimeo .

Alphagames from Evan Seitz on Vimeo .

 

 

The Internet Guide For The Movie Addict

As we all know the Internet is a treasure trove of information. If you love movies, you’ll find all the information you ever need to know on the net.

MakeUsOf.com have written an Internet Guide for the Movie Addict , which you can read online via Scribd. This covers all the usual aggregation sites and review sites, such as IMDB and Rotten Tomatoes, as well as details on watching stuff online, finding show times, finding movie trailers, torrents (uh oh!), and much more. There are also some notes on getting the best playback on your PC.

This is a great one stop shop for the movie buff, which I highly recommend. I daresay you’d already be familiar with some of the sites mentioned but there’s a few gems there you might not know.

One thing we should all do is rate and review everything we can… but who has time for that? Personally, I wish I did more, but thankfully others have.

You can also download the guide as a PDF by the filling in the quick e-mail form here .

PS. I found this guide via Stumbleupon, on this page of guides. Mostly from MakeUseOf.com, they detail everything from video and audio guides through to using iPhones, iTunes, Macs, Linux, Windows Mobile, Bittorrent, and much more. Well worth a visit.

Shutter Island Review

Shutter Island is the new movie from Martin Scorcese, starring Leonardo Di Caprio and Ben Kingsley.

I went in to watch this expecting a horror movie set in an asylum, but I was pleasantly surprised to find it was much more.

In order to keep this quick review spoiler free I will refrain from explaining the plot too much, since it twists and turns.

Set within the grounds of the Ashecliffe Mental Hospital on Shutter Island in the 1950’s Di Caprio plays Teddy Daniels, a US Marshall sent to investigate a missing prisoner. Since everyone on the island is a violent (and insane) criminal, finding her is priority.

The movie jumps from locked-room mystery to questioning the hidden motives of the doctors and staff, with Teddy himself also questioning his sanity. The pace moves from a slow burn to a frenzied final half hour, and although the ending can be seen coming from a mile off it is still genuinely moving with a great payoff.

The film is atmospheric, with the remote island lashed by storms, and creepy patients/prisoners locked in cells in a high security ward set within a civil war era fort. There are flashbacks to Teddy’s experiences liberating Dachau in WW2, and although this is more a thriller than a horror, there are some jump out of your seat moments. What you first think is a straight missing person / escaped convict hunt turns into a personal vendetta for Daniels, and then moves into more cerebral territory.

Although set some 50 years in the past, it is not a period piece, though there are nods to the medical practices of the time and mentions of the recent war. This is essentially a story wound around Daniels, who has much more of a part to play than he at first realises.

This is a film it’s best to go into blind. Thankfully the trailer doesn’t reveal any of the plot.

Di Caprio has worked before with Scorcese, and the partnership works well. Throw in Sir Ben Kingsley who for once doesn’t overract too much, mix in a little Max Von Sydow, and you have a recipe for a great film.

8.5 / 10 – I’m glad Scorcese did this and not M. Knight Shyamalan!

Avatar is a Pocahontas / Dances With Wolves / Battle For Terra / Fern Gully ripoff ?

Avatar has been likened to “Dances With Wolves in Space” – or even Pocahontas In Space. The basic story has been done to death before, that of a man befriending an indiginous species and coming to understand and live with that species.

However – and this is the clever bit – look at this script extract of Pocahontas. Or even view the Youtube Video below that mashes up the Pocahontas voiceover with the Avatar trailer 🙂

original

Other suspicious Avatar – A – Likes include Poul Anderson’s “Call Me Joe” and the movie “The Battle For Terra”

Links:

Avatar (IMDB) | Pocahontas (IMDB) | Fern Gully (IMDB) | Dances With Wolves (IMDB)

Avatar (WIKI) | Pocahontas (WIKI) | Fern Gully (WIKI) | Dances With Wolves (WIKI)

Battle For Terra [TRAILER]

Call Me Joe

The Golden Age Of Video / Ricardo Autobahn

I just saw this video on youtube and just had to post it here – an amazing video / remix called “The Golden Age Of Video” by Ricardo Autobahn:

Try and see how many classic movies and TV shows you can spot!

This deserves extra kudos for the way the Audio syncs with the Videos with a thumping beat to drive the whole thing along. It even rhymes !

Alltogether now: We came, we saw, we kicked his ass!

Fan Films and Ultra Low Budget Movies

There’s a thriving “Fan Film” community on the Internet, and some of their output is very good indeed.

I almost said “surprisingly” good, but that would be a disservice to the people who make these. I just read a report about the fan film “The Hunt For Gollum” ( BBC News ) and, watching the trailer, you could almost believe it was a Peter Jackson production. Even their lead actor looks like Viigo Mortenson (Aragorn).

So, I started browsing. And there’s a lot out there.

These films are typically independent movies made on a microscopic budget. The people involved tend to give their time for free, and all help and support is organised via the Internet. Costs are incurred mostly for equipment and makeup / costume / special effects. Luckily CGI shots are much cheaper to make these days with talented amateurs able to contribute for home – just see Star Wars: Revelations .

These are movies by fans for fans. The quality can vary dramatically but the fact remains that its amazing they get completed at all. The legality is a little dubious, but most have the understanding – if not the blessing – of copyright holders as long as they are non-profit.

There’s a big directory of fan films at FanFilms.net . Here you can see homages and tributes to everything from Ghostbusters to Buffy, via MacGyver, CSI, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and even Sonic The Hedgehog! Predictably, it’s the more popular franchises that are attempted – so there’s quite a few Star Wars, Star Trek, James Bond and superheroes like Spiderman and Superman.

It’s worth noting that a lot listed above are unfinished, in production, or just plain – I hate to say it – bad. But hey, they’re created for fun, or for love of the original. Many are student movies, some are amazingly professional with quality actors contributing, and you can see most online. Running times vary, but it seems 0:30 to 1:00 are the norm.

Other sites worth checking out are:

ComicBookBin.com

Indie channel at Spike.com

Atom Films Originals

And of course a search at Google or more specifically, Google Video will throw up a lot more, including specific sites catering for, say, Indie Fan Films and StarWars Fan Films .

Finally, some more choices? Try these:

Starship Farragut (Classic Star Trek)

Escape From City 17 (Half Life 2 – Yay!)

Moonraker ’78 (Bond)

The Greatest Fan Film Of All Time (Lol)

Crank 2: High Voltage review

Warning: This movie is not for everyone. But if you like super-fast paced deranged insanity, you’ll love this.

Take one part OTT Japanese action flick (think Takeshi Miike), mix in some 70’s exploitation and Grindhouse, throw in a dash of 80’s hard guy, and add a pinch of visceral blood and guts. Only then will you have some idea of how balls to the wall crazy Crank 2 is! Crank was tame by comparison.

Chev Chelios – played by Jason Statham who simply inhabits the role – drops from an aeroplane and lands, destroys, and bounces off a car (the very end of the first Crank). From that he has his heart removed by some Chinese organ-thieves and is in a race against to time to get it back. In the meantime, he has an artificial heart which needs constant supplies of electricity to keep it going. That’s the gimmick in this film – like Crank, where needed constant adrenalin to keep a poison from killing him. Cue Chev getting his shocks from high voltage power lines, an ambulance defibrilator, a car battery, a police stun gun, and even body-on-body friction in one memorable (if long) scene where he has hardcore sex in the middle of a horse racing track!

Along the way Chev bumps into a crack whore played by Bai Ling, a man suffering from “full body tourettes”, and many bad guys – mostly Chinese but there is one puerto rican group out to get him too. He ends up in a brothel, and a porn actors strike (spot Ron Jeremy), all the while getting his electric jolts. Helped by his doctor (Dwight Yoakam) who dispenses medical advice Chev must eventually find the 100 year old chinese Triad boss Poon Dong – played by David Carradine of all people – who has stolen his heart.

The fast cutting and camera work in this film will not suit those of a sensitive nature, and that’s before we get to the sex and brutality. But it delivers the goods for those who like this kind of thing. It’s unadalturated fun for it’s audience and it doesn’t make any move to even attempt to appeal to anyone else. It knows what kind of film it is and doesn’t care or pretend to be otherwise. That’s good.

There are some asides during the movie, such as a flashback to Chev’s childhood interview on a daytime TV show (think Jerry Springer). Here, is Mother is even played by Geri Halliwell. Then there’s a scene where he fights his opponent in giant form like a Japanese monster movie. He even, not long from the start, oils up a shotgun and sticks it up a mans backside while threatening him!

Statham knows his audience and plays up to it. This is in some ways similar to his Transporter franchise, but any action fans of those movies might be advised to watch Crank first to see what they’re getting into to. The writer/directors Neveldine and Taylor have aimed this purely at the video-game playing ADHD generation. Don’t bother trying to base this in any concept of reality.

I don’t know if there’ll be a Crank 3, I guess it depends on the takings from this one, but I hope there is. The ending is vague on this matter but considering how Crank finished there’s every possibility.

Rating: 8.5/10 – astonishing amount of insane depravity!

IMDB | Rotten Tomatoes