MURDER BY PROXY – HOW AMERICAN WENT POSTAL (Key Element…Unrated…76 min)
By now, the term “going postal” is part of our everyday vernacular. When someone goes “postal” – lookout because trouble will follow. But where did the term originate from? Murder By Proxy: How America Went Postalis a fascinating documentary that looks at the spree-killing phenomenon of years past through the lens of a socio-economic shift that began during the Reagan era. At a time when many workers have become disillusioned by the sentiments of their bosses and employers comes this sobering documentary that delves into the frustrated mindset of the American workforce in past years, exploring the possible psychological links between socio-economic imbalances in the workplace and workplace violence.
The film explores the point of view that it is the social environment, especially workplace conditions that are pushing so many people over the edge. Powerfully, the film features interviews with survivors and victims of mass shootings, who openly blame workplace culture for many of these tragedies, and in some cases, amazingly admit sympathy for the killers.
Directed by Emil Chiaberi, and co-produced by Oscar and Emmy-winning documentarian James Moll, the film also focuses on how these events could have been avoided. "This movie is an often-times graphic and eye-opening portrayal of the topic, and not your typical ‘popcorn and soft drink’ type of movie,” explained Chiaberi. “To be clear, it is not a gratuitous rehashing of those tragedies for shock value; it drives home that we are at the point in history where the subject matter in this film is highly relevant. There is great uncertainty about where this society is heading, coupled with widespread discontent over the same conditions that were identified in the film as major contributing factors to this tragic epidemic.
“I think the film clearly shows that these incidents are the results of certain conditions that make people feel dehumanized and oppressed. When you start seeing so many of these incidents happening in so many places, it means that those conditions are widespread. And if they are, then these so called “going postal” incidents are just the beginning. The way I [see] it, they were just symptoms of a latent societal crisis.”
With school shooting a sad commonplace these days, and mass “postal” shootings something that is not soon going to go away, this is a critical look at where we are as a society and where we’re going. This is a very complex problem that goes beyond any one workplace or any one mass shooting incident. The filmmaker believes our current form of capitalism, what he calls “predatory corporatism,” is morally wrong and detrimental to the future of our society.
Check the film’s site to download or purchase the film, or to see where screenings will be held around the country.
A BLOODY GOOD TIME
(Troma Entertainment…100min…Rated R)
The awesome folks at Troma Entertainment, the people responsible for releasing cult classics like The Toxic Avenger, Class of Nuke'em High, and Tromeo and Juliet, have outdone themselves with their latest splatterfest, with a dollop of patricide, in Father’s Day, which promises to make The Exorcist look like Bambi. The like to call it a perfect date movie, but fellas, be forewarned, that may be a very risky situation if you’re looking for any lovin’ afterwards.
Variety calls Father's Day "a gleefully tasteless quasi-grindhouse nasty that's funnier than most of the many such parodic cheese-fests that have been created since, well, Grindhouse!" Ain't it Cool News adds, "Father's Day is over the top, tasteless, senseless, and completely hilarious."
Billed as a gritty, gruesome, grindhouse flick, Father's Day centers around a boy that watches his father get murdered, well, boy grows up into a vengeful one-eyed man (he wears a patch)…man teams up with a priest and a male prostitute to take down his father's killer. Believe it or not, Father's Day won Best Film, Most Original Film, Best Kills, and Best Poster at the Toronto After Dark Film Festival.
A flawed film, a tad weak in story, its irreverence and over the top violence makes this a fun romp for those that like their entertainment with blood and gruesome kills. While this is far from gore porn, Father’s Day is all about fun, even though that fun is centered in some pretty grizzly violence. Don’t take this serious, don’t be easily offended…just relax, take in the harrowing images and enjoy.
Father’s Day is now playing at The Nuart in West Los Angeles.
CORMAN’S WORLD: EXPLOITS OF A HOLLYWOOD REBEL Anchor Bay Films…Rated R…90 min
Calling all film geeks, you know who you are and you know you wear that title as a badge of honor, there’s a film hitting theaters that’s so up your alley.
Corman’s World: Exploits of a Hollywood Rebelis a tantalizing and star-studded tribute to Roger Corman, one of Hollywood’s most prolific writer-directors and producers. A seminal influencing force in modern moviemaking over the last 60 years, this documentary features interviews with Hollywood icons and cinematic luminaries, some of whom launched their careers within Corman’s unforgettable world of filmmaking, including Jack Nicholson, Peter Fonda, Ron Howard, Martin Scorsese, Peter Bogdanovich, Pam Grier, William Shatner, Paul W.S. Anderson, and Eli Roth, among many others.
Corman’s World: Exploits of a Hollywood Rebel chronicles how Corman created his cult film empire, one low-budget success at a time, capitalizing on undiscovered talent, and pushing the boundaries of independent filmmaking.
Director Alex Stapleton weaves archival footage of Corman throughout his career, including genre-defining classics such as the original Fast and Furious, the original Little Shop of Horrors, The Intruder, House of Usher, The Crybaby Killer, and The Wild Angles.
At age 85, Corman isn’t slowing down any these days as he’s still on the hunt to successfully produce and distribute films outside the studio system: fast, cheap and out-of-this-world. This is a fascinating look at a man who has blazed his own trail through Hollywood, doing things his way, and has mentored the likes of up-and-coming young filmmakers like Francis Ford Coppola, Martin Scorsese, Ron Howard, Peter Bogdanovich, Jonathan Demme, James Cameron, Curtis Hanson, John Sayles, and many others.
This is a must-see for all B-movie lovers and cinephiles in general.
CITY OF LIFE AND DEATH Kino International • 133min• English Subtitles
A stunning and epic film, it’s hard to believe that City of Life and Death and is only the third film by Chinese filmmaker Lu Chuan. Recounting the true story of the 1937 Japanese occupation of China’s capital Nanking, the film spotlights the heroic defiance of the city’s residents, yet doesn’t come across as propaganda or a one-sided slice of nationalism.
During the Japanese occupation, Japanese soldiers systematically exterminated Chinese prisoners while brutalizing, murdering, and raping civilians. As the death tolls mounted, a group of Chinese and European refugees staved off the atrocities within a “safety zone” established inside the city. In the process, everyone, Chinese, Japanese, civilian and soldier, had their loyalty and humanity tested by the unspeakable crimes and extraordinary sacrifices that followed. The film, according to director Lu Chuan, is based on recorded witness testimony from the real-life survivors of the Nanjing Massacre.
“In China, we are educated to see one very basic and simple truth, from the time that they’re young, everyone in China is educated to hate the Japanese,” said Lu Chuan. “Japanese troops were very brutal, so Japanese people are very brutal and we have to hate the Japanese. It’s textbook, you know? They’re not human beings, they raped women, they raped very young girls, they even raped their own women. But over the years of research and writing some ideas changed in my heart. I found the basic truth that a massacre is not a special talent of the Japanese people. It’s a talent of human beings. All kinds of people kill all kinds of people. That devil is always in everyone’s hearts, so as human beings we need to be very careful. It’s not just a tragedy for the Chinese killed in Nanjing, it’s a tragedy for the Japanese soldiers who killed them. The Japanese are normal, ordinary people just like us. War is the thing that makes people transform into animals.”
Shot in black and white, the film has a look reminiscent of the wonderful neorealism Italian war films of Roberto Rossellini, Vittorio De Sica, Luchino Visconti, and Federico Fellini. Filmed on location, often with handheld cameras, there’s a sense of urgency to the story and the action that unfolds. It is unfortunate that the producers didn’t opt for yellow subtitles, as often it is difficult to read the English subtitles that blend with the film’s black and white look.
The City of Life and Death plays at the Nuart Theatre in West L.A. June 17 – 23, at Landmark La Jolla Village Cinemas in La Jolla June 24 - 30, and in Santa Barbara June 24 – 30.
HEREAFTER Warner Bros….129 min…Rated PG-13
It’s probably not a good thing when all you can say about the latest Clint Eastwood directing effort Hereafteris that it plays more like an M. Night Shyamalan film (and don’t think Sixth Sense or Signs…think Lady in the Water or The Happening). Ouch! And it’s also 2+ hours of your life that you’ll never get back.
Long and poorly paced the film meanders as it tells the story of three people -- a blue-collar American, a French journalist and a London schoolboy -- who are each touched by death in different ways. Matt Damon plays an American psychic trying to distance himself from his “gift” of communicating with the dead. Unfortunately he delivers such a blah performance that the film comes to a grinding halt every time it tells his side of the tale.
Luckily things perk up whenever French babe Cécile De France is onscreen, and they really get going when young 12-year-old twins George and Frankie McLaren appear. That seems to be when the film actually has character and something interesting to tell as they deliver a riveting and engaging performance. Too bad the rest of the film doesn’t play as well. And having to suffer through Damon constantly reject his ability which you know in the end he will perform only adds at least 30 unnecessary minutes to the film.
This is pretty disappointing for an Eastwood film. Things start off exciting with a great action sequence as a tsunami nearly wipes out a small tourist town, which plays great in the trailer, but then nothing as exciting ever happens. This film really needed a powerful and dramatic story to hold audience interest but it never gets that from its leading man and consequently falls very flat.
The film version of the bestselling book about incentives-based thinking by economist Steven Levitt and journalist Stephen Dubner, Freakonomics examines human behavior with provocative and sometimes hilarious case studies bringing together six filmmakers to tell a story from all possible sides.
The documentary ‘dream team’ consists of the following acclaimed filmmakers: Academy Award winner Alex Gibney (Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room, Casino Jack and the United States of Money), Academy Award nominees Rachel Grady and Heidi Ewing (Jesus Camp), Academy Award nominee Morgan Spurlock (Super Size Me), Eugene Jarecki (Why We Fight) and Seth Gordon (The King of Kong).
The six vignettes that the directors conquer include examinations on the socioeconomic patterns of naming children and the differences between names among whites and blacks; incentives that lead to cheating in sumo wrestlers; as well as incentives for students to excel if they’re paid in cash and awarded with limo rides. Some of the case studies are better than others and the film falls victim to faulty pacing but it is a fascinating subject nonetheless.
THE LAST EXORCISM (Lionsgate – 88min) Rated PG-13 In Theaters Everywhere
Nothing seems to scare movie audiences more than possession-related films, at least when they’re done well, so this weekend’s The Last Exorcism should really scare the bejesus out of people.
Disturbing and terror-filled, the film tells the story of a Louisiana reverend who is actually a skeptic looking to perform his last exorcism in front of a documentary crew to prove their illegitimacy only to come face-to-face with true evil.
“Throughout the film the question is: Is it supernatural or is it human evil?” director Daniel Stamm points out. “That to me is the interesting question. The film is about faith, the role faith plays in your life and what that does to you—how it can help you, and how it can destroy you.”
Producer Eli Roth, director of Hostel and actor in Inglorious Basterds, notes: “It was one of the scariest, most original scripts I’ve ever read. I literally could not put it down and had chills all the way through. I loved the idea that it was a film about debunking exorcisms, showing that it’s all fake, and slowly realizing there are forces far greater than your comprehension and that you shouldn’t mess with them. It kept me guessing all the way through.”
Reminiscent of a few horror films, think part Rosemary’s Baby and part Blair Witch it’s not on par with The Exorcist, a genre classic, but this is a fun freight that will scare the holy hell out of some.
VENGEANCE (IFC Films – 109min AVAILABLE ON-DEMAND NOW
A gripping new revenge thriller from Hong Kong master director Johnnie To (Election 1 & 2, Exiled), Vengeance is a relentless, unapologetic, bloody action-filled ride where payback is a bitch.
When a team of hit men storm through a quiet and unassuming household, the carnage is brutal and the lone survivor is a French woman who finds herself in critical condition. When her father, Costello (Johnny Hallyday), arrives from France she immediately begs him to avenge the loss of her family. And just as quickly as it takes Charles Bronson to wreck havoc in his Death Wish franchise, Costello hires a local hit squad to investigate and track down those responsible from the slaughter of his daughter’s family.
Ironically, Hallyday is a pop icon in his native France and has sold over 100 million records during his decades-long career and is considered by some to be the French Elvis Presley, but between his suave style and director To’s mad mayhem moviemaking approach, Vengeance is one heck of a thrill ride. The film reminds me of early John Woo classics that majorly influenced the work of Tarantino.
Being a huge fan of the Shrek franchise, I was pretty excited to see Shrek Forever After, billed as the finale to the animated juggernaut. Still endearing as ever, the sequels to the 2001 classic haven’t matched the appeal of the original (one less than the other) and this one, Shrek Forever After, is perhaps the weakest of the bunch, but that’s not to say it’s a disappointment.
This last installment of the series, in 3D no less, finds a bored and domesticated Shrek who makes a pacts with renowned dealmaker Rumpelstiltskin to get back the feeling of what it’s like to be an ogre, if just for a day, but unfortunately he gets duped and finds himself in a twisted version of Far Far Away where Rumpelstiltskin is king and ogres are hunted and Shrek and Fiona actually never met. His life turned upside down, he sets out to restore his world and reclaim his one true love.
As usual, Eddie Murphy as Donkey is hilarious, as is Antonio Banderas as Puss in Boots. And this time around, the plumb brat with the annoying “Do the roar line” is brilliant! Again, I wasn’t very impressed with the 3D effects. Considering it is now becoming the industry norm to release 3D movies, and since the price of admission is higher than a regular film, the studios really need to get on the ball and take the technology to the next level already.
It’s pretty sad to say goodbye to Shrek, if this is indeed the last sequel, as this is a franchise that worked aptly for adults and kids without really having to dump down any of the fun. Well, it was definitely a blast while it lasted.
IN MY SLEEP (Morning Star Pictures – 105 min) Rated PG-13
A taut psychological thriller, In My Sleepfollows a sleepwalker who wakes up one morning covered in blood only to find out that a close friend of his has been stabbed to death. Frantically, he tries to put the pieces together.
Apparently it seems people can actually do all sorts of things in their sleep, from driving a car to having sex to murder, and filmmaker Allen Wolf decided that was a subject worth delving into. “The idea of someone doing something horrifying without any consciousness or memory of it was fascinating to me,” the director explains. “I wanted to take that to the next level – what if you lost control of yourself when you were sleeping? That idea drew me to the story.”
Starring Philip Winchester (SYFY’s Jack of Hearts in “Alice”) as Marcus, the sleepwalker in question, the eye-candy factor is off the charts as the handsome actor spends most of his time onscreen with his clothes off but don’t let that fool you that the film is short on story. A cross between Hitchcock and Memento, the award-winning indie thriller has several twists and turns and will keep you guessing to the end.