A New Procrastination

So you've spent 20 minutes on Facebook, a half an hour going through your news feeds, and you are waiting another 20 minutes for a life in Candy Crush (insert any fad game here: Angry Birds, Clay Jam, Temple Run, Song Pop, Words With Friends, Flow Free ect.), and you still don't feel like doing anything useful with your life.  Well here's a new way to waste time: The IMDB Game.

At first glance The IMDB Game may seem like its only for cinephiles, but that is not the case.  Sure film geeks may do a bit better, but anyone can play.

The Rules:

Pick a random number 1-100, or two random numbers 1-100.  Now go to the IMDB Top 250 and see the corresponding film, then go to the Bottom 100 and see what terrible movie you chose.  With the two movie titles link them any way you can.  You can use actors, directors, screenwriters, and crew members.

Here's an example: 
If you choose 46 you will get Citizen Kane from the top 250 and The Blade Master from the bottom 100.  Let the game begin.  Joe D'Amato directed The Blade Master and Emmanuelle In America which starred Laura Gemser.  She had a role in Voyage Of The Damned with Orson Wells who created Citizen Kane.

*46.) The Blade Master -> Joe D'Amato -> Emmanuelle In America -> Laura Gemser -> Voyage Of The Damned -> Orson Wells -> Citizen Kane

Now you try.  Comment below on the ties you've made.  And remember you can do that important life stuff later.

*The lists change frequently.  Upon writing this The Blade Master has been moved to 45, while Citizen Kane still sat at 46.

Our Week In Telluride

Cineniche's editors were given the opportunity this year to invade the Telluride Film Festival. It was a week of celebrity sightings, immense beauty, intense hiking, and film premieres.


We have close friends who have given up on the modern hustle that city life can be. It has been to their benefit, we have never seen the couple more at rest. They moved out to the tiny village nearly a year ago and now live in the serenity of a mountain paradise.


Telluride, CO is a mountain town nestled in the middle of nowhere. It sits at an elevation of 8,750 feet and boasts a population of around 2,500. Originally established as a mining town, it has now become the alternative to Aspen. Seeing a ski resort during the summer is odd because you see all the paths that lay in wait of that first snow. Besides the great slopes, Telluride is also a host to countless festivals. This brings us to the film fest.

Each year as film festivals gear up for their time to shine, they release program guides and issue press releases that entice the film community to make the trek. Telluride on the other hand, has a long running tradition of secrecy. We spent nearly a month digging around for any news on what to expect, but found nothing. Not even a forum with inside info. You go in blind but come out enlightened. The passes were sold out five months prior to the event. We knew without these sacred passes we would be limited in what we could see, but that didn't stop us.

The fest offers free films, films in the park, open lectures, and conversations. This was our gold. The first thing we witnessed was a discussion panel that included our idol Werner Herzog. He was just as amazing in person. He was asked if putting himself in life threatening situations made him feel more alive, to which he replied, “I feel most alive when I'm eating a good steak.” After this we popped on over to the courthouse where Leonard Maltin was interviewing Bruce Dern about his role in Nebraska. We ended the first day by seeing a free screening of Jodorowsky's Dune.

JODOROWSKY'S DUNE

Early reviews have promoted the film as a documentary about the greatest film never made. This really sums it up. After El Topo and Holy Mountain, Alexandro was given carte blanche on his next project. He chose the drug-addled characters that populated Frank Herbert's sci-fi epic Dune. He came so close to making his concept a reality. He hired artists to help shape his vision and created a comprehensive visual screenplay. He avidly worked in pre-production and the finish line of production was in sight. Unfortunately, it came down to a lack of a mere five million dollars. All the other funds were raised, but no one would back the little that was left. Mick Jagger, Orson Welles, Salvador Dali, and Gloria Swanson were signed on. Pink Floyd was tapped to do the soundtrack and H.R. Giger was designing the creatures. Even if it all would have ended up as a mess of a film, it already had a built in cult status.

The influence of Jodorowsky's Dune reached far beyond its limited confines. Without Jodorowsky spending all his time and money attempting to create his masterpiece there would be no Alien (1979). Dan O'Bannon and H.R. Giger met for the first time as hand picked artists for Dune.

Frank Pavich's documentary allows Jodorowsky to tell the story in his own words and by doing so the film becomes an exploration of the filmmaker's life and work. By diving into the director's greatest failure you don't find a man mourning the way things could have been, instead we see someone sharing the excitement of the creative process.


MILIUS

The next day we found a free showing of Milius, another documentary about a filmmaker. John Milius was the inspiration for Walter Sobchak (John Goodman) in The Big Lebowsky. This gives you an overall image of the man. He was big, burly, militaristic, loud and stubborn. We didn't know much about him prior to the film, but walked out with a girth of knowledge. Milius is good friends with Spielberg and Lucas – they were in the same film classes. Once out of school John became the go-to writer. He mainly did rewrites, but his words were believed to be gold. A key monologue in Jaws is the work of Milius. He was unaccredited for the best scenes in Dirty Harry, but co-wrote the sequel. He went on to write Apocalypse Now, Conan, and Red Dawn (he also directed the latter two).

Milius was constantly criticized for his right wing beliefs, and this documentary showcases everyone he's worked with. They all stand up for him and his brilliance.


Later that day we caught another discussion panel, this time for Steve McQueen's 12 Years A Slave. Michael Fassbinder was intelligent and respectful of the subject matter even when harassed by the Q&A. Someone asked why Hollywood continues to make sub-par films? The resounding answer from the panel was: because people go see them.

That night we were treated to an outdoor projection of Death Rides A Horse, an under-seen spaghetti western from 1967 with The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly's Lee Van Cleef. Though the lawn was a bit muddy from the day's rain and we were all uncomfortable and tired it was still great to see.


The following morning we skipped the festival to take in the scenery. We went hiking, and it made us regret every cigarette that had ever polluted our lungs. That day our friends found us free passes which were good for any film at the fest. It was a difficult decision. Do we see Gravity, Palo Alto, or Inside Llewyn Davis? Being lifelong Coen brothers fans and seeing them outside a restaurant while we were trying to decide helped seal the deal.

INSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS

It is with a heavy heart that we cannot give the Coen's latest effort our ultimate praise. It may take another viewing to fully understand our feelings toward the film. The cinematography is spot on, everything feels like a drab version of the sixties. Oscar Issac's performance is perfect, and John Goodman's ten minutes is unforgettable. It is difficult to say what is missing.

We would recommend the film to everyone, but provide a warning for your expectations. Do not expect any of the quirkiness of Coen comedies or character revelations that can occur in their dramas. Do not expect to love the protagonist since he is also the antagonist; Llewyn's choices and who he is as a person are the reasons he cannot progress. The music is fantastic, and it shows the depth of Llewyn, while his actions are in constant battle with the beauty he is able to produce.



Leaving the utopia of Telluride and our closest friends may have been the most difficult thing we've ever had to do. Cineniche may have to unshackle its Chicago chains and flee to the land that feels like a permanent vacation.

We would like to thank Megan and everyone over at The Steaming Bean for providing all of our caffeine needs during our 5 day stay.

The Steaming Bean
221 W Colorado Ave
Telluride, Co 81435
(970)369-5575

Home Sweet Home Invasion

We were not expecting much from David Morlet's Home Sweet Home.  Due to Alexandra Aja's transition to western filmmaking and the overall tonal shift that has occurred in his films since working in Hollywood, we had it ingrained in our minds that the same fate would befall any other director of the French Extremeties.  Morlet's Mutants is a suspenseful semi-zombie ride.  He uses his skill here to reinvent the home invasion film.

Whether it's Ils, The Strangers, Straw Dogs, Funny Games, or even The Purge all home invasion films begin with getting to know the family.  Most horror dictates that the audience should learn about its victims and gain a connection prior to their destruction.  It is believed that our caring of them and their lives before the disaster will make the impact of their situation even more dire.

This is true, nearly all the greatest horror films follow this formula.  No one would feel for Reagon had they not seen her as a normal girl prior to her possession.  Even the mindless fodder of Sally's friends provides a perfect build-up to meeting Leatherface.  Without knowing the crew of the Nostromo, John Hurt's chest bursting scene would have fell flat.  We would not cheer for Laurie Strode, had we not spent the boring day with her.  So when Morlet omits this build, how does it affect the overall narrative?

We begin with a man entering a home and deactivating the alarm.  He proceeds to wander the house and through his curiosity we learn the home belongs to a couple with a child.  The answering machine lets us know the kid is staying with a family member.  After the faceless intruder is finished snooping he prepares the house by screwing all the windows shut.  He then dresses himself in hazmat gear and dons a frightening mask made of wood.

The variation on the normal horror narrative gets under your skin, because without the couple present, the house he is in - is yours.  He is going through your stuff and awaiting your arrival.  This is terrifying.  When the family does show up, he lets them get comfortable while we are anticipating his next move or who he will 'get' first.  As we had feared, the couple themselves were a little annoying, but overall it does not matter since they only get a few minutes worth of dialogue.

When the killer makes his presence known the sequence is intense and the suspense doesn't let up until the end - and speaking of the end: you will get more than you thought you would out of the film.

Rating: IV/V

Stoker: An Insane Family Drama

CineNiche: Stoker Graphic Design
It is good to know that Chan-Wook Park's deviant style was not watered down for American audiences.  J.S.A., Old Boy, Sympathy For Mr. Vengeance, Lady Vengeance, and Thirst are films that deal with revenge, incest, and obsession.  They are filled with complex characters whose motives whether extreme or subtle are always understood through the course of the narrative.

In Stoker we are given the privilege of seeing excellent performances from Nicole Kidman, Mia Wasikowska, and Matthew Goode.  The story unfolds slowly which provides a great pay off in the end.

After the death of Richard Stoker, the patriarch, his brother Charles moves in with the family.  From the very beginning we sense something is off with uncle Charley.  He comforts the non-too-grief-stricken Evelyn while trying to get close to his niece.  When people who know of his past enter the picture, they mysteriously go missing soon after.  India is very curious of her uncle's re-entry into their lives and his motives.  During her investigation she learns not only the truth of his past, but about herself as well.

We highly recommend Stoker for audiences who enjoy twisted family dramas.  If you're not willing to wait a while for explanation, then this may not be the right film for you.

Rating:
V/V

Cannibal Holocaust: A Study Guide

CANNIBAL FILMS

Cannibal films are a subgenre of the Italian Exploitation films made during the 70's – 80's.

Origins: An extension of Mondo Films and Rainforest Adventure Films


Mondo Films were a precursor to the Faces Of Death series. They promised exotic locales, gore, and cruelty – not to mention “real death.”

Mondo in Italian translates to “world”

Rainforest Adventure films were as their category suggests, action films dealing with heroes in peril in the jungle. The Naked Prey (1966) and The Man From Deep River AKA Sacrifice! (1972)

A list of Mondo titles: Mondo Cane (1962), Mondo Bizarro, Mondo Daytona, Mondo Mod, Mondo Infame, Mondo Hollywood, Mondo Trasho, Mondo Weirdo, Mondo Keyhole, Mondo Brutale (German title for Last House On The Left), Mondo Sex, Mondo Sexualis, Mondo Elvis, Mondo Lugosi, Mondo Teeno, Mondo Rocco (Queer sub-culture documentary), Mondo Topless, Mondo New York, Mondo Di Notte, Mondo Balardo, Mondo Fresh

1977-1981 became known as “The Cannibal Boom”

Mountain Of The Cannibal God (1978)  Cannibal Holocaust (1980)  Eaten Alive (1980)  Cannibal Ferox AKA Make Them Die Slowly (1981)  Natura Contro (1988)

_______________________________________________________________

Cannibal Holocaust 1980 Rated X
Directed by Ruggero Deodato
also by: House On The Edge Of The Park
Last Cannibal World
Profane Exhibit (2013)

Most cannibal films were allegorical tales of anti-imperialsim. However, within their film making process, they actually represented the threat of imperialism themselves. By traveling to South America and exploiting the natives to create a film about the brutality of western civilization, the filmmakers actually embodied the true threat. Cannibal Holocaust represents the worst of this hypocrisy. The film is mostly comprised of the “found footage” from a missing team of journalists. When the tapes are edited we find the true horror was not committed by the natives, but in fact by the journalists. Their assignment was to utilize objectivity when documenting the tribes, but instead they fuel a war between them. During the making of the film, Deodato and the crew exploited the two tribes and actually created turmoil between them that hadn't been there before.


By combining elements of Mondo and Jungle Adventure films, Deodato created the prototype for the found footage film. The film was protested and pulled from theaters after only a one month run. An investigation ensued and Deodato was put on trial for murder. Everyone believed he had the journalists killed and that his creation was actually a snuff film. The actors and actresses signed a contract that forced them into silence and out of the spotlight. Once the trial commenced, Deadoto provided the judge with said contract, yet he still did not believe the filmmaker. The contract was then destroyed and the actors came forth - all except one. The judge was still not convinced, since the actor in question had a death that looked too real. Deodato then had the special effects team come in and demonstrate how the kill was created. The judge finally threw out the murder charge but fined him for obscenity and cruelty to animals. They forced him to cut the film, and by the time he attempted to re-release, it was entered into the list of Video Nasties and thus banned.

Under the Video Recordings Act of 1984, the release and distribution of obscene material became illegal. Any film without classification was immediately pulled from circulation. If you were caught with any one of the “nasties,” you could actually serve jail time. Cannibal underwent additional editing, yet could not get a classification/rating. So the film sat in limbo for years and garnered a mythical hype. Some refer to it as the most heavily banned film ever made, yet the director stated that the film has grossed nearly $200 Million during its various truncated theatrical runs. Nevertheless, its cult status is firmly engraved into the hearts of gorehounds the world over.

With Eli Roth's Green Inferno terrorizing audiences soon, we hope this study guide will prepare you for the flesh eating extravaganza.

RATING:
V/V


The Purge: An Economic Nightmare

Here is another example of semi-independent cinema.  The Purge was made for 3 million and grossed more than 30 million in its opening weekend which hopefully allows more original concepts through the studio doors.

Since the collapse of our economy the film industry has made it a point to only fund remakes, sequels, and adaptations.  They only put up funds on guarantees.  During the last ten years there have been films based on original concepts, but they have been created independently then purchased by studios and in some cases serialized after-the-fact.  Saw is an example of this, the original was funded by the Saturn Award received by its makers, then done to death by Lion's Gate.  Now this was done in the 80's with Michael, Freddy, Chucky, Jason, and Pinhead.  They were icons created by the economic turmoil suffered then.  So, as anything tried and true, the cycle is back.  Instead of creating new icons (except Jigsaw) all of the 80's maniacs have a remake/reboot - including Maniac.  It may seem as though we are digressing from a review of The Purge, but economics plays a huge part in the film's commentary.

We all know the premise: violence, terrorism, and homelessness are at an all time low because the government has sanctioned one night a year where all crime is legal.  There was an unmentioned revolt against the government and the "new founding fathers" emerged.  Through the realization that all of humankind has a darkness that must have an outlet, they created the annual purge.  And like any government decision, they had ulterior motives.  This is where the commentary truly comes into play.

With our current state of economic turmoil and a spotlight on the divide between the wealthy and the poor, The Purge criticizes the way our government wishes to make laws that will keep them within the upper crust no matter how it affects the rest of society.  The annual purge has not effected the rich until the night in which the film takes place.  James Sandin (Ethan Hawke) deals in advanced security systems made entirely for the purpose of protecting your home during the purge.  The bourgeoisie can, of course, afford the security which means they do not face the annual chaos.  Only the poor feel the wrath.

The reason poverty levels and homelessness statistics are drastically reduced yearly is because they are killed and taken out of the equation.  James' son Charlie (Max Burkholder) lets in a homeless man and the family comes face to face with the reality of the purge.  Another interesting facet of the film's commentary is that if this cycle of killing the poor continues, eventually those that are currently wealthy will be considered poor and hunted ad continuum.

On the surface, the film shows that when it comes to economics the only wallets our government care about are their own.  Beneath that, it adds an additional voice that advocates extreme cinema.  While as a home invasion film, it lacks the terrifying beauty of the sub-genre's French counterparts Ils, Inside, Martyrs, and High Tension or even Funny Games (original or remake) or The Strangers.  It does admit everyone has a dark side and needs an outlet.  Horror's love by its viewers comes from this safe catharsis that emerges from the audience's relationship with the film.  So while The Purge is not horrific, or filled with surprises it has a lot to say - too bad it was created to cater to mass audiences.



Rating: III/V


The Battery Recharges Our Interest In Indie Filmmaking


In screenwriting you are told to show, not tell; whereas in horror cinema the “rules” dictate you tell about the threat and restrict the audience's access to seeing the threat. The Battery succeeds at both. Even though the film debuted at the Telluride Horror Show last October, its recent VOD release correlates well with the upcoming World War Z debacle. In World War Z we will witness millions of dollars at waste in an attempt to find the balance between character and imminent doom, which The Battery does perfectly with a minuscule budget of $6,000.

It is a film that instantly reminds you of Night Of The Living Dead, because at every moment you feel it was a labor of love. Like Night we have a story that focuses more on humanity than it does the zombie threat. The nihilism of Night is modernized in The Battery for the millennial generation as an overall sense of apathy in the face of hopelessness. There is no heavy-handed social commentary, nor are there ridiculously detailed post-apocalyptic settings. We get two baseball players attempting to come to terms with their new role as survivors, while wandering aimlessly through the countryside.

The realism of the film stems from the intimacy of the two characters that are thrown together by circumstance and the friendship that evolves as a result. They are forced by the destruction of humanity to form a close, almost claustrophobic, relationship. Ben, played by Jeremy Gardner (also the director), has fully taken on the role of survivalist when the film begins. Mickey (Adam Cronheim) is constantly at battle with his need of community or any semblance of life as it was before. Mickey hides from the world under a pair of headphones while Ben does everything else. Mickey's innocence and hope may be naive, but it works as a great juxtaposition for the two characters. Ben wants him to be able to fiend for himself, but also enjoys the optimism that blankets innocence. Due to Mickey's ineptitude we believe that at some point in the narrative Ben will become food for the undead, but fortune shines down on the viewers and we are able to fully appreciate their camaraderie.

Music plays such a vital role in The Battery, a lot of it can be heard digeticly through the magical and symbolic headphones. It may appear as an instrument that would hinder survival and Ben even remarks that the music will get them killed, but instead it is the escape they both need. Mickey wears them and connects with his past, while drowning out his present. Ben uses them differently, when he puts them on there is a sense of euphoria as if he connects only with its drug-like escapism. In a scene that transports the viewer out of the film: Ben dons the sacred music and sings along with the caveman baritone of Chris Eaton. He dances about the room and belts out the lyrics; there is a primordial catharsis taking place. Chris Eaton, the lead singer of Rock Plaza Central, grunts and chants a seemingly hopeful incantation about surviving against all odds.
“They can take our fists
and chop them off at the wrist
and we will shake our arms with bloody stumps
and we cannot be defeated.”

Later when we see the title of the song in the credits, there is an apathetic irony that adds more depth to Ben's almost random sequence. The song is titled “Anthem For The Already Defeated,” which Ben would have known since he sings along. So while Ben and Mickey both use music as a form of escape we also see how the two characters vastly differ in their perception of the crumbling world.

The Battery may not be a film ripe for mass consumption, but most early zombie films were not either. With films like Zombieland, Shaun Of The Dead, and Warm Bodies the sub-genre has changed. These zombie-comedies have made it okay for everyone to get into the undead. Along with The Walking Dead they have helped to create a culture where asking, “What would you do when the zombie apocalypse happens?” does not instantly make you a geek. World War Z will be the plateau and possibly the beginning of the sub-genre's demise – at least for this current cycle. Jeremy Gardner's experiment in micro-budget filmmaking pays off and leaves the big budget genre films grasping for an artistic vision that only independent features can embody.

As a sidenote: this review was conceived prior to the release of World War Z. If the blockbuster hopeful is of any worth we will eat our words and retract some of our previous statements.


Rating:

5/5

Soundtrack:

Stream selected tracks here or each of the following have a link to itunes/bandcamp