Saturday, June 30, 2012

A Fleeting Victory (2012)

First of the Up Till Dawn Films: 2-Minute Crappy Film Series!

2-Minute Crappy Film Series

Burning Empire Media is proud to announce the Up Till Dawn Films: 2-Minute Crappy Film Series! A brand new style of remix film art that is sure to please. We all know the feeling when two minutes into a film we already ask ourselves, "What am I doing here? Why is this happening? I need to leave this place right now."

Up Till Dawn's 2-Minute Crappy Film Series takes care of this problem. We take a crappy film and make it two minutes. A two minute exciting thrill ride of adventure, disaster, and surrealism. All 2-Minute Crappy Films will initially be announced and released here on the Up Till Dawn Films blog. We don't just talk trash about crappy films, we make them too.

Our first film, A Fleeting Victory, is a remix tale of the classic War of the Robots. The film is essentially a bunch of people dressed up like Steve Zissou and fighting robots with lightsabers.  All while urging the viewer to jump off a bridge. We broke it down, spruced it up, had The Night Will Steal You redo the score, and chopped a more satisfying conclusion. In a truly irresponsible, zero-budget, for-profit, film house fashion we will release A Fleeting Victory today, tomorrow, or the next day.

Check back soon for the Up Till Dawn Films: 2-Minute Crappy Film Series! Look for the series on DVD in 2013! And buy Burning Empire Media Presents: on DVD now!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Abraham Lincoln vs. Zombies (2012)

Allow me to be your Redbox Warrior on this one. This film has enabled me to attain a deeper understanding of a particular vein of cinema. I imagine that even the below-average minded audience understands what type of film Abraham and the Zombies promises to deliver. These opportunistic straight-to-video releases have been labeled "mockbusters." The current climate of "mockbusters" shows that providing the release a genre tends to exonerate their appeal. When I learned of The Asylums format I found something commendable and Cormanesque about their purpose and business model. The question remains, "Why do their films have to be so crappy though." If you're in the business of quick opportunity can $150,000 not be put to better use? Costume design rarely flags in my mind while watching a film. They usually wash over me. Even the lowest of low-budget historical adaptations can be excused for a collar lacking 1800s consistency. I simply do not understand why the costume budget was not spent at a thrift store in this instance. Everything is crispity clean and definitely made within the last decade. It does not resonate. Everyone looks like five year old dressed up in their grandfather's fatigues. I would imagine there are thousands of people in the world that would have helped make this movie better, and I bet some would have even worked free of charge. Watching this film made me wonder if The Asylum pays someone to be a cinematographer or if they feel a high definition camera is enough. The light that beams of a crisp white collar screams 2012 B movie but the problem could have prevented and some money could have been spared as well. The fact is these Alien Origin style perfectly timed straight-to-Redbox features have a charm that is instantly diffused by pressing play. Learning more about the companies efforts to spread religious propaganda does not help their case much either. However, is this just another opportunistic mockery? I cannot answer that question. I can however tell you that this movies, among every other Asylum film I've glimpsed at, is complete and total shit. There is now a clear distinction between a charming low-budget indie film and a low-budget marketing strategy in which the production company pisses on the audience. Even more strange is that the fact that the owners are executives from Village Roadshow. Not my favorite but why taint the resume? Rock that business model to the grave, but a little more TLC would have inspired another dollar from me when Disposables 3 releases. I can't wait to see Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter now. I feel that a good studio should come around and now steal the "mockbuster" market from this company. I guarantee that for half the budget I could make a much more satisfying well-timed-opportunistic variation of any movie that will release in the near future. It comes out in less than a month, but give me eighty grand and we'll have The Black Bat Ascends in Redbox by the end of the month.
Most likely a better read.

Keep in mind I'm not the type of person who instantly jumps to negatively judge a film. When I was a teenager, myself and two other assholes made a film called Giant Mutant Lobsters in Outer Space in which we dumped Jack Daniels on a lobster and set it on fire. Along with a city made of cardboard and hot wheels cars. This was of course after the mad scientist fired off his giant laser that never actually appeared on screen. The difference between the two pieces of trash being ingenuity and passion. Enduring this film was pain-staking and traumatic at best. Zombies or not. I love zombies, but like many great genres Abe vs. Zombies is among a vast catalog of selections that breeds contempt. This type of film makes the porn industry seem more reputable. Certainly more interesting. On second thought, these films are porns, without the porn.

How about 1.3 stars, only because it provide a strong closing for my review.


Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Repo Man (1984)

A home library must have!
Repo Man, starring Emilio Estevez is one of many films that best reflects popular culture in this country. The "cult classic" film chronicles the events of an angry young man, Otto, who becomes a repo man. There is much more to the story and the goings on around Otto than the simple repossession of cars. The film is a commentary on the state of the world, American youth, growing up in America, drug use, nuclear science, war, UFOs, and the collective unconscious. The mixture of these themes set upon the black-comedy-science-fiction backdrop of automotive repossession and punk rock music not only results in an amazing piece of entertainment but also a reflection of culture that remains relevant in the cultural climate of today.

A culture in which many physical attributes have changed drastically, but continues to be rooted in issues, conflicts, and identities that have changed very little since 1984. One of the UTDF's Top Ten Film Soundtracks. 4.4 Stars.

Warning: Harry Dean Stanton Alert! This film is known to contain Harry Dean Stanton. The true psychological effects of Harry Dean Stanton are highly debated and yet to be scientifically confirmed.

Red State (2011)

This is an assignment that I had to do for school, but I decided that it is also quite suiting for Up Till Dawn Films' purposes. The direction of the review is based upon the rubric of the assignment. 

            An individual’s freedom to choose religious beliefs is a basic human right. Unfortunately, many times in society religious beliefs are used to justify extremely violent and deadly actions. Kevin Smith’s film Red State, starring Michael Parks and John Goodman, tells a story about a Christian fundamentalist group. The group uses their religious beliefs to rationalize violent and deadly actions inflicted upon those they categorize as “sinners.” The highly controversial film is a cinematic masterpiece that redefines Smith as a filmmaker. Kevin Smith is perhaps best known for his flatulence focused comedy films, passion for comic books, and network of podcasts. Red State came as a surprise to his most loyal of fans and the film industry in general. Written, directed, edited, and self-distributed Red State proves that Smith is not just a jokesmith satisfied with making audiences laugh.  The film demands that Smith be regarded as a sophisticated and multidimensional filmmaker. Smith accomplishes this sophistication by tackling the social issues and themes within Red State. Labeled as a horror film Red State is a shocking social commentary on religious intolerance and the violent consequences of extreme belief. Red State is a picture of society that shows the lines of terrorism are drawn by belief and action, not race and cultural background.

The film also shows that while society has made significant progress, intolerance of race, religion, and sexual preference are still a serious reality. Red State’s main character Pastor Abin Cooper (played by Michael Parks) is especially intolerant of homosexuality. Cooper is a charismatic religious leader that uses his own religious interpretations and beliefs to fuel an anti-homosexual agenda. He passionately indoctrinates his beliefs onto the members of his congregation and motivates and mobilizes violent and murderous action. The intolerance of Cooper’s congregation is seen throughout the world. Red State reminds the viewer that the boundaries of homicidal intolerance are not set by religious, geographical, or racial difference. The intolerant only lack prejudice upon the selection of their victims. The intolerance of Cooper’s congregation is captured with a unique style of cinematography and powerful acting performances. Red State is presented in the clarity of high definition film photography. However, the film uses a grindhouse tone that captivates the eye of the audience and properly captures the gritty, dark, and violent nature for which the film is set. This unique style and powerful acting performances are what make Red State downright creepy. Michael Parks’ academy award worthy performance is essential to Red State. Early in the film an intense 10 minute long sermon is delivered by Cooper. The scene is scary and powerful. There is no doubt or confusion in the audience’s mind that Cooper can use charisma, manipulation, intensity, and belief to mobilize his congregation.
            Consequently, Cooper’s violent mobilization of belief is the fuel of terrorism. Cooper’s congregation is not a simple church group; it is a terrorist organization. Smith uses the character of A.T.F. Agent Joseph Keenan (played by John Goodman) to facilitate the role of government and a deeper view into the nature of terrorism. The fictional government’s policies regarding terrorism are no different that the policies of real-life society and as Keenan’s peer Agent Hammond states, “If you kill an American because of a religious belief you are a terrorist.” Smith further mirrors society when the Keenan’s superiors make the decision that Cooper’s congregation needs to be eliminated by any means necessary.  A barrage of bullets and death is traded between Cooper’s congregation and the A.T.F. The film takes on an almost action flick way of editing and sequencing scenes, but the violent and explicit deaths are not a glorification. When a young lady accidentally kills her mother it is clear that Smith wants the world to know that guns are not toys. Many times the doctrines and religious texts, meant as a guide, are taken literally. Red State captures the deadly ramification of when these misconceptions are acted upon.
            In conclusion, if Kevin Smith had something to prove, whether as a filmmaker or a commentator of political and religious ideology, Red State proves it. The film shows that intolerance and belief have the potential to be extremely dangerous and violent states of mind often mobilized into bloody terroristic action. It is the sense of realism that Smith uses to execute the film that makes Red State truly horrific. While the organizations and individuals of Red State are fictitious, Smith provides a mirrored view of the terrifying similarities found throughout our own society.

I use the term "multidimensional" too much. 4.7 Stars.

Monday, June 18, 2012

21 Jump Street (2012)

Click for Pre-Order!

One more tonight, for posterity's sake, and there is no better than the new 21 Jump Street film. I previously stated in a post that we're going to attempt to keep the inflammatory nature of these reviews to a minimum; or rather to the best of our ability. A perfect way to prevent this sort of inflammation comes from a 2012 film re-imagining/rendition of one of my favorite television dramas of all time. I happened to be somewhat appalled by some of the casting decision news that I initially heard  pertaining to this movie, but as a good friend said it best, "Channing Tatum is fucking awesome when he's not being a douche" (or well it was something like that.) The truth behind that statement is shocking. 21 Jump Street is a thrill ride of laugh-out-loud hilarity and Tatum is freaking awesome. Whether a viewer hates, loves, or has no clue what 21 Jump Street is does not matter. The movie is individually brilliant. Only half way through the year, but most likely my favorite comedy of 2012. If you're a die hard 21 Jump Street like me this film will not disappoint, and it includes extra goodies just for you. I have already seen this movie several times. The blu-ray combo pack options seem weak at this point, but if a later release provides something extra put it on my birthday list. My expectations were extremely low, but it is apparent that the makers of this film set the standards high. I also recently learned that the woman signing the chorus of re-hashed theme song is Esthero! Man big-studio-comedy re-makes don't get any better. The only disappointment it seems was Dustin Nguyen must have been busy during production or something.

A solid 4.0 stars. I actually want to give it more.

No Saints for Sinners (2011)

The chosen cover art for this film makes me somewhat angry. Imdb ratings of this film reflect a 4.2 stars out of 10. The masses are simply baffling. I found this film to be an surprise sleeper action hit. The first ten minutes of the film contain film editing orgasms that shall not be given away here. They set the tone, the pace, and everything else that rushes over the audience for the remainder of the film. No Saints for Sinners is the type of film you don't want to end.

Both score and soundtrack are noticeably superior without overshadowing the film itself. Certain moments in this film negate the possibility for the whole to categorically suck. Either way, the film as a whole is anything but sucky. Lead actor, Rick Crawford, does not manifest a man crush but he's a convincing bad-ass that I wouldn't mind seeing in some more roles. I really thought almost every aspect of this film was done very well. Acting, directing, cinematography, editing, music, script and dialogue are all of superior quality. There's a particular scene within the first act that will always stand out for me. 4.1 out of 5 stars! Comments?