Friday, 28 September 2012

Solomon Kane (2009)

Tattoos are for pussies. Branding is the real deal.
James Purefoy is Solomon Kane, hit man for God.

At a glance:
This 2009 Michael Bassett movie scored VOD last month and sees a limited release today in a handful of locations across the U.S. so I thought I'd rehash my old review for those of you who didn't manage to catch it the first time around. To audiences vaguely familiar with this comic character, the first question is: what superpowers does Robert E. Howard’s character have in this Solomon Kane film adaptation? A cynical answer would be cheesy lines, the ability to kill CGI demons and a pretty cool-lookin slouch hat. I watched this in a March 2010 release by Grand Brilliance in Malaysia and even then the cinema bosses joked that they fancied makin a little from just the openin weekend only, considerin the box office-friendly key visual. Me, I'm just happy the director got his North America release and that the movie is at least better than that drivel that was Jonah Hex (2010).
Bad news on the doorstep:
Rachel Evan-Wood.
Yes, for one we’re fortunate that the we get a movie out of a decent character created more than 30 years ago by the man who spawned Conan The Barbarian. However, while this Michael Bassett (Deathwatch) imaginin manages to retain Captain Solomon Kane as a brutally efficient 16th century killin machine armed with his signature pistols, cutlass and rapier (so says the production notes from the U.S.), the picture as a whole is monotonous, unrewardin and also marked by a distinct lack of humour.

Perennial wonderment:
How do the actors feel about their involvement in this movie today? James Purefoy (HBO’s Rome) didn’t do a bad job at all as a Puritan with ‘fallen priest’ sentiments during those feudal times. His muscular performance is consistent throughout the show, right down to his transition in values, where he’s called to take arms again havin renounced violence to save his soul due a past encounter with a badass Skeletor-lookalike called The Devil’s Reaper. The man’s soul might be damned but he sure is joined by some very decent allies such as an ex-priest (the late Pete Postlethwaite, The Town) and his innocent daughter Meredith (Rachel Hurd-Wood, Perfume). In fact, the entire cast is faultless as they are great drama actors, includin a small role from Swede cinema legend Max von Sydow (whose illustrious career incidentally includes a role in 1982’s Conan).
I ride. I kill. I have a slouch hat. Do you?
Reminds me of:
Van Helsing (2004) and Conan The Barbarian (2011).
Most memorable line:
God's hitman has a string of iffy lines to say, all soundin like a corny, fallen feudal superhero steeped in existential illusions of self-grandeur after years of abusin cheap ale. They include: "I was never more at home than I was at battle.", "If I kill you, I am bound for hell. It is a price I shall gladly pay.", "There are many paths to redemption, not all of them peaceful.", "I'm a man of peace now.", "I am not yet ready for Hell." and "Only devil here is me". Don't these remind you of somethin Christopher Lambert would say in a Highlander movie? Well whaddya know. Apparently in 2001 it was announced that Lambert was offered the role of Kane and was seriously "considering it as it's a very compelling part". Although the film rights were granted in 1997, it took another 11 years before filmin began.
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The problem is that our dogged hero just isn’t interestin enough here despite all the excellent period detail. He doesn’t get too many show-off scenes and he takes himself too seriously under this direction. Although drama and action are struck with a fair balance (sometimes you may feel like you’re watchin Gladiator), the good captain’s adventures are predictable, dour and ultimately told poorly with disengagin focal points and unimaginative dialogue. The final nail on the coffin is hammered home when the ultimate baddie demon makes his CGI appearance, emerging like an inferior Decepticon that dropped out of Sunday school in heaven. Better luck next time, Master Kane.★★1/2

Bonus material:
Director Michael J. Bassett.
The day the music died:
R.I.P. Pete Postlethwaite 
7 February 1946 – 2 January 2011

Monday, 24 September 2012

Whores' Glory (2011)

WHORES' GLORY 2011 la zona puta madre
Santa Muerte is the most basic tattoo for every protection-seeking whore in Mexico.
(Photo credit: Maya Goded)

At a glance:
Just another day in the fish tank.
(Photo credit: Vinai Dithajohn)
The ugliest and most absorbin facets of world labour cinéma vérité comes full circle with Austrian filmmaker Michael Glawogger's clumsily titled Whores' Glory (2011), the third and final piece in a so-labelled globalisation trilogy. I've not seen Megacities (1998) nor Workingman’s Death (2005) but if this effort is anythin to go by, the three movies definitely deserve a combo release. The level of access in this documentary is fantastic and anecdotes on his exploits make good readin on their own, as evident in interviews with the director, who was even confident enough to discount lesser, similar works like Born Into Brothels: Calcutta's Red Light Kids (2004), somethin which I've seen and am ready to commend. The sellin point of Whores' Glory is indeed its privileged look-in, a laborious setup at three different fuck shops - a fishbowl in Thailand, a red light district in Bangladesh and a bordertown complex a little north of Mexico. You get to see all the infrastructural m.o. in great proximity, festered within each festive locale and drawin from them rich visuals. The narrative comes complete with punch clocks, street food and even the religious worship of different deities that underpin business superstitions.
Bad news on the doorstep:
Indian whores
Soliciting in City Of Joy, a massive brothel in Bangladesh's Faridpur district.
(Photo credit: GMB Akash)
The Indian leg in this triptych is easily the most borin and in fact, most annoyin, so it's a good thing they cleverly sandwiched it between the other two stories. Runnin 110 long minutes, it could've done with more editin, as some of the scenes can grow rather tedious with one too many naggy whores. Maybe it's just me bein a Southeast Asian native who ain't unfamiliar with the seedier aspects of urban life but Glawogger's sequences, impressive as they are, don't really offer anythin truly groundbreakin, as confirmed when the last story ends rather abruptly. Well, I guess that's the very point of cinéma vérité, some say.
Perennial wonderment:
Whores' Glory 2011 Michael Glawogger prostitute tattoo documentary Chow Kit La Zona red light sex district ShenZhen fuckshop Vinai Dithajohn GMB Akash slut
O Death, save me from violent, diseased gangbangers.
"How on earth did he get permission?" will be your constant refrain throughout the picture. Many customers seem happy to be filmed (and paid) so don't be surprised with the last bit in La Zona where you even get a full sex scene, unless you count the pariah dog orgy that was opportunely filmed outside the Siamese bordello. I also liked findin out that the director has shown the end product to the girls who appeared on his film, save the ones from the Thai aquarium who already disappeared and reassembled elsewhere like all good organised crime do.
I can't remember if I cried:
I don't cry. I'm from the Third World.
Most memorable line:
bangladesh red light district
Getting high on your own supply?
"I'm a virgin because they say after 90 days, the vagina closes up again if you don't have sex. The last time I had cock in me was three years ago. I'm retired from cocks but for 25 years, I was number one. I used to have 40 johns a day. I sucked and fucked. How? I showed my tits. Chocolate and vanilla. Come here, daddy. These, like this. I showed my tits and said: 'Come and get it!' Chocolate and vanilla for a titfuck. But blowjobs were my specialty. I have rim jobs and frozen blowjobs. What are those? A blowjob with an ice cube. You put a piece of ice in your mouth ,then you suck on the head of his cock with your tongue and the ice. You run your lips over his veins and balls with the ice cube still in your mouth. You manoeuvre the ice cube over his head and nibble on it. Then you jerk him off and rim him, sticking the ice cube up his ass. Riming is the best because it makes them moan. If his asshole is dirty, prepare a bowl of chlorine. Wipe it clean with a towel. If it's still not clean, bleach it! If it doesn't stink anymore, you can put ice in his hole. Once the ice is in there, they bleat like goats. They roll their eyes and bleat. Baa! Works on everyone. Like a vibrator. Job done! Generally, when a man comes here, he is only interested in coming. The woman doesn't matter. They come here like animals. They want you ready. 100 pesos for normal sex. Normal means they spread your legs, they climb on top and fuck. Many want to kiss but it's disgusting. Their breath can smell like they ate a lion. Or they take off their socks and it stinks like toe cheese. But you just bear it. 100 pesos is money. Now every time you change positions, it costs another 50 pesos. We did everything for 100 in my day, back when I was still working as a whore. When I worked, I wasn't just any whore. I was THE whore."
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Whores' Glory 2011 Michael Glawogger prostitute tattoo documentary Chow Kit La Zona red light sex district ShenZhen fuckshop Vinai Dithajohn GMB Akash slut
I won't go as far as to call it intimate braggadocio but the clarity of its lightin and the edgy soundtrack almost makes it romantic. The daily grind, pardon the pun, goes well beyond economic enslavement and this is certainly not the work of one of those glory-hungry Westerners who are out to exploit the White Man's Burden by shootin Third World toil. Check out its Facebook page and for more compellin Michael Glawogger fare, do visit his official website here.★★★

Michael Glawogger.
"I had to first convince them that I wasn't a journalist who would yet again put out a notion about them they wouldn't necessarily care for or who would victimize them. You know, journalists come and go. If they come twice, it's a lot. But I come 10 times and hang out with them and share stuff. If you connect with someone just once, that's something. But if you can connect twice, that's something else. As a filmmaker I cannot make anything beautiful. I'm Platonic in that sense. I think beauty is the splendor of truth, so if the people I portray think they're beautiful, they're beautiful. I don't make them that way. I don't aestheticize anything. I don't even use lights. The working girls do one thing all day: They make themselves pretty. That's their job and their money. In a way, I had the best makeup artists, hairdressers and art designers in the world." (Interview by on Mother Jones)
Bonus material:
sexy india
Whores' Glory 2011 Michael Glawogger prostitute tattoo documentary Chow Kit La Zona red light sex district ShenZhen fuckshop Vinai Dithajohn GMB Akash slut

Thursday, 20 September 2012

Beautiful Kate (2009)

Sophie Lowe nude Maeve Dermody slut breasts Beautiful Kate 2009 Australian Rachel Ward Ben Mendelsohn topless naked
Sophie Lowe finds love in all the wrong places in Beautiful Kate (2009).

Beautiful Kate Australia 2009
She'll remind you of Saoirse Ronan in
The Lovely Bones (2009).
At a glance:
Some family secrets are more criminal than terrible, as we reluctantly learn from actress Rachel Ward's directorial debut Beautiful Kate (2009), an accomplished Aussie mystery thriller that could've done with a more effective title. I've been lookin for similar stuff havin wet my beak with Snowtown (2011) and Animal Kingdom (2010), not to mention I've developed an interest in Ben Mendelsohn's CV since he starred as Daggett in The Dark Knight Rises (2012). This one's about a rugged writer (Mendelsohn) who returns to the family farm after some 20 years just to visit his dyin dad (Bryan Brown) but finds himself lingerin in his repressed guilt over his dead siblings. Our protagonist remembers all to well the untimely death of his twin sister (Sophie Lowe) and brother (Josh McFarlane) when they were all backwater brats. Fortunately, there's a survivin daughter, Sally (Rachel Griffiths), who remains filial to the bedbound bastard - a grumpy old man who's takin his failures and resentment to his grave but not before givin his son hell.
Bad news on the doorstep:
Ben Mendelsohn and Maeve Dermody.
I read that native viewers took exception to how the rural folks speak but I think what sapped some power out of the picture was the diminishin focus on Mendelsohn as the movie wore on. His emo downtime came up short and our connection to the character is interrupted. I'm guessin the narrative tone of the 1982 Newton Thornburg book from which it was adapted is such? More landscape, less love? Wouldda been awesome if we could just invest in the main character more.
Perennial wonderment:
Will I ever figure out the difference between yabbies, crayfish, crawfish and lobsters? I'm not even sure what I've been eatin for a tenner at the local Chinese every week.

Reminds me of:
Affliction (1997), The Lovely Bones (2009), Somersault (2004) and The Cement Garden (1993). Not the most upliftin stories, are they?
Most memorable line:
"She's an actress. She doesn't wear clothes." Our protag pokes fun at his spoilt nympho girlfriend (Maeve Dermody). She's the sort who professedly exaggerates her moans durin doggy style sex and complains that she's only a whore because she's bein fucked like one. The needy always fuck face to face, no? I recall Sergio Castellitto and Claudia Gerini's tender scene in Don't Move (2004).
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It finishes as a dreary drama made worse by an overused, though excellent soundtrack. The epilogue also does smack of self-importance and there's a certain conceit to the way the camera lingers around the characters. Still, it's a compellin rural tale built on no small measure of effort and you'll find it very palatable for mature audiences game for some disturbia.★★★
Bonus material:

Beautiful kate 2009
Can you have sex while staring directly at your parents' pictures?
I don't think you can see what they're up to from here.
sexy siblings
Pleased to see me?
L-R: Ben Mendelsohn, Brian Brown, Rachel Griffiths, Maeve Dermody.
Australia Beautiful kate

Saturday, 15 September 2012

All That Matters Is Past (2012) @ Uskyld

WOODS RAPE NORWEGIAN SEX rape forest dirt dogging
Full frontals, baby crownings, rotting corpses and jilted lovers.
All that matters is present!

At a glance:
Well whaddya know. It's my first stab at the Toronto International Film Festival and I've picked out a shocker from the leftover schedule. Sara Johnsen's Uskyld (literal: "innocence") is a rather engrossin Norwegian crime drama that cuts close to fart house fare like Lars von Trier's Antichrist (2009) but she masterfully keeps it accessible by framin it as a dodgy love triangle set in the woods. TIFF programmer Steve Gravestock sells it as "part Cain-and-Abel story, part Rousseau-influenced meditation on innocents destroyed by a corrupted society", about childhood sweethearts William (Kristoffer Joner) and Janne (Maria Bonnevie) who are suddenly reunited as adults and inextricably thrust into an idyllic life of peculiar, self-imposed isolation. The past unravels and you can blame it all on William's damaged pervo brother, Ruud (David Dencik). This isn't the horror rehash of Bergman's Summer With Monika (1953) that I thought it was from the trailer. We're taken well into the obscenest ends of R-rated territory, so prepare to squirm in your seats as several cinephiles lacking the requisite intestinal fortitude for it have left the theatre presumably in disgust, as reported by Toronto Film Scene's Jovana Jankovic.
Bad news on the doorstep:
USKYLD 2012 TIFF Toronto dogging in the dirty woods
"Do you feel as if we've been zapped into an Ingmar Bergman movie?"
SEX SCENE MARIA BONNEVIE naked USKYLD 2012 morning pill
Maria Bonnevie and Kristoffer Joner
go au naturel in the name of art.
Twitchfilm's Todd Brown didn't fancy it much, decryin its "unlikeable" characters, which he insists are "given no context whatsoever". Man has a point, so it's lucky for us that cinematographer John Andreas Andersen had plenty of filler footage - the proceedings are punctuated by hypnotic visuals of wildlife and whatnot (shot on both 16mm and 35mm). They've even got a couple of special effects done with help from the folks behind Troll Hunter (2010), I think. Anyway, I think what really nibbled at the tension in such a competent and layered film is the unfortunate choice of a non-linear narrative that went back and forth one time too many. Maria Heiskanen from Maria Larsson's Everlasting Moments (2008) provides the narrative voice as a policewoman tryin to piece together the chillin aftermath of what was supposed to be a grippin fable, only that her role contributes little towards the mystery. On the whole, I'd have liked several distractin elements omitted in favour of a tighter, more conventional coming-of-age caper.

ALL THAT MATTERS IS PASTPerennial wonderment:
I'd like to know for certain if I read too much into the prominent depiction of traditionally Satan-affiliated creatures in the film - goats, maggots, ravens to name a few.
Reminds me of:
ALL THAT MATTERS IS PAST NORWAY 2012A little bit of Womb (2010) with all these closeups of sex and nature. The night previous I was also watchin a movie about terrible secrets - Beautiful Kate (2009).
TIFF 2012 norway Sara Johnsen sex dirt forest bestialityI can't remember if I cried:
When I forgot that the Scotiabank Theatre doesn't do discount parkin on weekend nights and I ended up payin a score. That's more than the bleedin movie ticket!
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I think perhaps it tried a little too hard but I won't begrudge it. I love the music score as well. Definitely diggin up Johnsen's previous works Kissed By Winter (2005) and Upperdog (2009), so here's hopin for more fun and FUBAR material from her in the near future. For a more polished and substantial review, check out's Nicholas Bell. Here's to hopin this will score a distributor soon and you lot will be able to find it on a DVD shelf between The Cement Garden (1993) and Dumplings (2004), if not at the cinemas proper.★★★
Bonus material:

L-R: Director & scribe Sara Johnsen,
actor Kristoffer Joner & cinematographer John Andreas Andersen.
Toronto International Film Festival 2012.
Photo credit: Norwegian Film Institute
Sara Johnsen & John Andreas Andersen build an embarrassment of rich visuals.