Thursday, August 30, 2007

Gearing Up for TIFF

I've been shielding myself from the films playing at TIFF this year. I'm trying to not know too much about what's playing and what's not -- I'm always afraid to get too into the films before the Press/Industry schedule comes out because there are always a handful of films (invariably some Midnite Madness movies) that get left out in the cold as they're shown after I depart T.O.

That said, the P/I schedule comes out tomorrow morning and I'm itching to start planning out my week. Thank goodness for! Ignoring the Canadian and experimental films, this is my first pass at what I'm hoping to see this year:

  • Joy Division Grant Gee
  • Control Anton Corbijn
  • Mýrin Baltasar Kormákur
  • Dr. Plonk Rolf de Heer
  • Help Me Eros Lee Kang Sheng
  • Le Deuxième Souffle Alain Corneau
  • No Country for Old Men Joel Coen, Ethan Coen
  • DAINIPPONJIN Hitoshi Matsumoto
  • The Devil’s Chair Adam Mason
  • Flash Point Wilson Yip
  • Frontière(s) Xavier Gens
  • George A. Romero’s Diary of the Dead George A. Romero
  • À l’intérieur Alexandre Bustillo, Julien Maury
  • The Mother of Tears Dario Argento
  • Stuck Stuart Gordon
  • Vexille Fumihiko Sori
  • Run, Fat Boy, Run David Schwimmer
  • Son of Rambow Garth Jennings
  • My Winnipeg Guy Maddin
  • Ex Drummer Koen Mortier
  • You, the Living Roy Andersson
  • Chrysalis Julien Leclercq

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Tired Squirrel

Caught this guy resting under a car in the parking lot while walking some laps. Yes, he was (and hopefully still is) alive. Just enjoying the shade.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Banlieue 13 / District 13 (Pierre Morel, France, 2004)

Called “parkour,” “yamakasi,” or “free running,” depending on what circle you’re in, this “art of movement” gained popularity in France in the ‘90s. Since then it’s been popularized by director Luc Besson in films he’s produced and co-written such as YAMAKASI (Ariel Zeitoun & Julien Seri, 2001) and BANLIEUE 13. (The “sport” was later introduced to American audiences in CASINO ROYALE (Martin Campbell, 2006)).

BANLIEUE 13 owes much of its plot to John Carpenter. Set in 2010, the less-desirable districts of Paris have been walled off to keep the riff-raff away from the decent people. Not everyone inside of B13 is a bad egg. In fact, Leito (David Belle) openly defies the will of Taha Bemamud (co-writer Bibi Naceri), the district’s criminal overlord. Through some amazing acrobatic fighting and an intense chase, Leito and his sister, Lola (Dany Verissimo), bring Taha to the last working police station in the district. He’s told that the cops are “slowly packing things up.” Rather than turning into ASSAULT ON PRECINCT 13, the cops throw Leito in jail and give Lola to Taha before setting the bad guy free.

Six months later, the cops need Leito’s knowledge of the borough when Taha steals a neutron bomb (under suspicious circumstances). The clock is ticking. Hot shot cop Damien (Cyril Raffaelli) goes undercover and breaks into B13 with Leito in tow. The two form an uneasy partnership as they re-enact ESCAPE FROM L.A., each vying for the Snake Plissken role. Their motivations for making it into B13 are tied together, literally, as Lola is chained to the bomb. The two fight their way to their goals via some astounding set pieces. To picture these, think of twenty Jackie Chans running through the streets of Paris and you have a good approximation.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Bachelor Event

Just back from the weekend's festivities in Chicago, sending off one of my best friends, Jeff Dunlap, into the halls of nuptials. Apart from the absolutely hellish traffic in and out of Chicago (thanks in part to construction, congestion, and flooding of a major freeway), the festivities were very nice and included some Frisbee™ golf, dinner at a Colombian steakhouse, and some general rabble rousing at a few Chicago drinking establishments. The "old ball & chain" came out, courtesy of Jonathan Higgins, and it was locked around Jeff's ankle the majority of the day as we regaled him with "horror stories" of matrimony.

Jonathan and Jeff at the restaurant (with a cameo by me)

The golf crew, looking sharp.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

A Strange Release Date

Release dates are a tricky business in Hollywood. One has to balance holiday schedules versus prior earnings of similar films from years prior versus cultural zeitgeist and on and on and on. Sometimes things work out well where a movie like GROUNDHOG DAY can come out in February or a film with a thin-layer of dogmatic patriotism like INDEPENDENCE DAY can come out around July 4.

That said... it sure seems strange as heck that Rob Zombie's remake of John Carpenter's classic, HALLOWEEN, is coming out in August and not October. Will this film really have legs for over eight weeks? Certainly, it won't be ready for a DVD or DirectTV release on October 31.

I looks like the USA is the only country with this horrible release date. Take a look at when this film is set to premiere in some other countries:

  • France - 10 October 2007
  • Turkey - 19 October 2007
  • Germany - 25 October 2007
  • Netherlands - 25 October 2007
  • Russia - 25 October 2007
  • Brazil - 26 October 2007
  • Italy - 31 October 2007

All in all, a far cry from August 31. I'd be really interested to know why/how this decision was made.

Danger 50,000 Volts: Zombies

A follow up to my earlier discussion of Zombie Survival Guide. Same idea, better presentation.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Ask Captain Pike

Turn on your speakers and ask Captain Pike a question.

From Scott Meyer's website. Thanks John Schuchard for pointing this out to me.

Zombie Survival Guide

It seems like I should really like Max Brooks's book, The Zombie Survival Guide. Unfortunately, I just can't do it. The reason that this tome sticks in my craw is because I read something very similar a few years before Brooks's book came out, "Repelling the Armies of Chaos" by Johnny Badhair of the Whisper Lake Gazette. Sure, it's only a few paragraphs long but the core idea of a "survival guide" for survivors of a zombie apocalypse just hits too close to home.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

The Tenth Level (Charles S. Dubin, 1975)

William Shatner stars as psychology professor Stephen Turner who performs a series of experiments wherein two participants act as “teacher” and “student.” The teacher lists four sets of adjectives and nouns. The student has to associate the correct noun with the correct adjective under penalty of electric shock. If a student answers incorrectly, the teacher administers the shock with higher voltage each time. Turner’s experiment isn’t about memory under duress. Instead, it’s about obedience. The student is not the subject of the experiment (he’s a confederate and never gets shocked). The real purpose is to see how far the teacher will go; how much pain he will administer. Will a human being cause another person pain, even when the student moans and pleads for mercy? Will the teacher bend to the authority of the experiment’s administrator?

Turner relates his findings to previous incarnations of people being pushed to harm other human beings who were “just following orders” such as French torturers in Algeria and SS officers in Nazi Germany. Through his work, Turner uncovers a disturbing aspect of human behavior. A surprising number of “teachers” go the entire distance, giving their “students” the maximum amount of pain; the titular tenth level.

The Turner character is based on Stanley Milgram—author of the “six degrees of separation” concept—who performed a similar series of tests at Yale University in the 1960s. Not the only filmic reference one can find about Milgram (the extrasensory perception test in GHOSTBUSTERS comes to mind), THE TENTH LEVEL is said to have had Milgram as a consultant (according to

The experiment breaks down, literally, when Turner employs Barry Dahlquist (Stephen Macht) as a test subject. The laid-back carpenter goes wild, smashing Turner’s equipment and making the authorities at the American Psychological Association (APA) take notice of the potential immorality of Turner’s work. A hearing is convened wherein all members of the faculty involved and subjects are interviewed. Things look grim for Turner even after Dahlquist testifies that he came to admire Turner for showing him “the beast inside.”

This made-for-TV movie eluded me for years. Shot on video tape on soundstages, THE TENTH LEVEL has barely survived its sole 1975 airing on CBS. Colors have faded and the harsh studio lighting washes out actors’ faces in the extreme close-ups director Charles S. Dubin employs when trying to wrench up the drama. While Shatner sits at the center of the story, he’s not on screen as much as one would hope. He plays things relatively subdued, even in his post-hearing crisis of faith.

Some sources cite that John Travolta was in this film. That is not the case. The only Travolta/Shatner pairing, as of this writing, is Robert Fuest’s THE DEVIL’S RAIN (also from 1975).

Available from

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Dynamite Warrior / Khon fai bin (Chalerm Wongpim, 2006, Thailand)

I love Thai boxing. It's all knees and elbows. DYNAMITE WARRIOR adds one more factor to the knees and elbows; fireworks.

Starring Dan Chupong as folk hero Jone Bang Fai, the film is set during the dawn of industrialization in Thailand. There's a great need for buffalo to kick the agrarian economy into gear for trading with foreigners. At the same time, Lord Wang (Leo Putt) hopes to make a mint on selling tractors to farmers. If only those darn buffalo weren't in the way... To that end, the maniacal Wang hires an army of thugs to rustle buffaloes and up the demand for tractors.

The rustlers cross paths with Jone Bang Fai when they both happen upon Singh (Samart Payakarun), a part-time wizard and full-time buffalo herder who happens to bear a tattoo just like the man who killed Fai's parents! Singh is one tough dude. Not only can he whip someone's ass from a few yards away, but he also has two bodyguards that take on the awesome fighting abilities of a tiger and monkey when the need arises.

According to the Black Wizard, a friend of Lord Wang, the only way that Singh can be defeated is via the menstrual blood of a virgin born under a astrological sign greater than is. Oh, is that all? Well, luckily, the Black Wizard happens to have just the girl handy -- his dangerously cute daughter, Sao (Kanyapak Suworakood).

From there, DYNAMITE WARRIOR continues to twist and turn with glee, always giving Jone Bang Fai opportunities to shoot off rockets and/or kick a lot of butt. There aren't too many lulls in the story, which is good. The fewer chances for Dan Chupong to emote, the better. He reminds me of a Thai version of Keanu Reeves.

Recently released by Magnolia Pictures with either dubbed (ugh) or subtitled (yay!) versions on the same DVD, DYNAMITE WARRIOR is cheesy good fun.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Be Kind Rewind

This seems like it could really go either way.

Another One Bites the Dust

First Tower, then Desert Moon. Now Bernhard DeBoer joins the ranks of magazine distributors to have bit the dust. Yet another great company that always did right by Cashiers du Cinemart, BDB, you will be missed!

One of My Favorite Quotes

"[Cashiers du Cinemart is] a thin, primitive hobby publication with an obvious ax to grind; making it far less interesting than you think it is, and compelling me to conclude it's impossible for you to ever get your shit together...killing one more tree for your pointless, directionless, self-aggrandizing 'zine with nothing to offer is a sad, selfish waste." - Dave Williams

A Small Prayer Answered

I was bitching a few months ago about all of the crappy movies that are getting deluxe DVD editions while our film heritage is being overlooked. I specifically hit on some of the films of Samuel Fuller. I just read this morning that three of Fuller's early films are being released via Criterion.

A three-disc set includes I Shot Jesse James, The Baron Of Arizona, and The Steel Helmet. Still hoping for proper releases of some of Fuller's other works but this is a good start. Here's hoping for upcoming releases of The Crimson Kimono, White Dog, Underworld USA, Verboten!, Run of the Arrow, and China Gate (among others).

Sunday, August 19, 2007

What I've Been Up To

Not that it really matters what I've been up to but, damn it, this is my blog and the whole purpose of a blog is to be a self-indulgent asshole, isn't it?

To that end, here's a list of what I've been up to and what's coming up:

  • Getting the Word Out -- I finally got in the boxes of Cashiers du Cinemart. I've been going through and making sure that everyone that should have gotten an issue has gotten one (or will soon). More than getting the issues physically out the door, I'm trying like mad to get a buzz going. I went through all applicable Yahoo Groups and Google Groups today and posted about it. I'm trying my best, too, to crack the "noir world" of writers who may enjoy the pieces I did on David Goodis and James Ellroy as well as the "geek chic" who may like the screeds on Superman and The Fantastic Four.
  • Subtitling -- I need to sit down and complete a few subtitling projects for films such as RUE BARBARE, DESERTED REEF, HIGH SCHOOL BIG PANIC, and more. I think I'm waiting for "bowling season" to start so I can sit down and work on these while Andrea is out, allowing me to forgo the headphones and pegging the volume.
  • Spanish Class -- My class at Schoolcraft College has finished up. I will be taking the follow-up in the winter. In the meantime, I continue to listen to Pimsleur's "Speak and Read Essential Spanish" every day on my way to and from work. I'm getting the itch to go back to Mexico soon to practice. If not that, at least I need to get over to Carlos' Restaurant in Westland.
  • A Wedding! -- I'm off to Chicago next weekend for a Bachelor event (not sure if I can call it a party as I'm not sure if there are any scantily clad ladies involved) for my long-time pal (and college roommate) Jeff Dunlap. Hoping to carpool with my other college roommate, Jonathan Higgins. The wedding is a few weeks away in Milburg, Michigan.
  • Toronto International Film Festival -- Between the Bachelor even and wedding, I'm driving over to TIFF for a week's worth of film. I'm excited to get my hands on the Press/Industry schedule to start planning out what flicks I'll be able to see and review right here on the blog while I'm there.
  • Dale Carnegie Management Course -- I managed to talk my boss into footing the bill for a Dale Carnegie course that I've been wanting to take for a while. At my last job, I wasn't deigned worthy enough to merit a Carnegie course. Running about four hours once a week for seven weeks. Sounds like it should be pretty intense but I definitely need it. Anything to make me a better manager!
  • "MCF" Event -- Some of the judges from MicroCineFest have been talking about getting together someplace to bullshit and watch movies on a comfortable couch. It'll be our own private MCF. As we're talking November, I just hope it's someplace warm.
  • Noircon -- I've been in touch with Lou Boxer of Goodiscon (see Janurary's entries) and he's asked me to come down to Philly for Noircon to moderate a panel on Nick Kazan and Howard Rodman's versions of "The Professional Man" (similar to the piece I wrote on Goodis in Cashiers du Cinemart #15). I'm pretty honored and look forward to that as a birthday present to myself in 2008 (the event starts at day after I turn 36).
  • Other Shite -- As I mentioned, I'm hoping for a Mexico trip soon. Vegas would be nice, too. I'm also hoping I can talk my way into judging at the Slamdance Film Festival again. <fingers crossed>

So, that's about all I've been up to outside of my day job. Not much, I know.

Stomp! Shout! Scream! (Jay Wade Edwards, 2005)

A throwback to classic creature features such as THEM! (Gordon Douglas), IT CONQUERED THE WORLD (Roger Corman), HORROR OF PARTY BEACH (Del Tenney), and THE EYE CREATURES (Larry Buchanan), STOMP! SHOUT! SCREAM! stars the Violas, a trio of luscious female rockers, on tour in their less-than-reliable vehicle. They end up stranded a backwater burg, in the middle of some intrigue. It seems that some nasty debris has washed up on the beach bringing with it a “skunk ape” from the Florida Everglades.

Aided by scientist John Patterson (Jonathan Michael Green), the local constabulary bungles two steps behind the stinky Sasquatch as it feeds on tourists and beach bums alike before turning its attention on the Viola’s lead singer, Theodora (Claire Bronson). Though she may be pursued by the skunk ape, the scientist, and the mechanic fixing her car, Hector (Travis Young), Theodora wants nothing to do with them. You see, she’s got a secret in her past—one that makes her feel that she’s “damaged goods.”

Director Jay Wade Edwards (not to be confused with Jay Edwards of the “Tight Bondage Collection”), perfectly captures 1966. Rather than parody (like John Paizs’s TOP OF THE FOOD CHAIN), Edwards does a straight up rendition of the era and its films in STOMP! SHOUT! SCREAM! Beautifully shot with some terrific performances, the film also boasts a truly rockin’ soundtrack.

Official Website

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Something Troubles Me...

This can get made but the sequel to DUDE, WHERE'S MY CAR just doesn't seem to be happening. Is there no justice in the world?

Cashiers du Cinemart T-Shirts for Sale

Cashiers du Cinemart T-Shirt Be the envy of everyone you know in some sharp Cashiers du Cinemart gear from Designer t-shirts, messenger bags, and underwear. Be the first one, other than me, to wear some!

Friday, August 17, 2007

Return of the Demon / Mo gao yi zhang (Ying Wong, 1987)

This 1987 Hong Kong film wastes no time getting started. By the end of the first ten minutes our heroes; a treasure-hunting brother and sister (the appropriately named Fierce--played by the always mean-looking Feng Shui On--and Panther) team and their cross-eyed locksmith partner are hot on the trail of a demon, being led by a monk who’s shared souls with a dog and his apprentice.

The demon is one bad mofo who has a penchant for eating brains and he gets them, plentiful and fresh, from hapless victims courtesy of some nifty spike-lined headbands. By killing forty people born in the “Hoi” year, he’ll be resurrected. Not that he’s having much trouble walking and talking, it’s just that his complexion could use some help. That is, my boy is losing flesh in a hurry.

Despite how malevolent the demon might be, the real threat to our protagonists comes from the local magistrate, a sadistic bastard who thinks our heroes are the brain snatchers and whose law enforcement techniques might make the L.A.P.D. wince. When he’s not beating our heroine for being “flirtatious” he likes to pit one prisoner against the other in a “game” played with nooses, pulleys and iron weights.

Just when the pace of the film appears to be slowing after an extended escape scene, our heroes take refuge in an abandoned house so the monk can meditate the dog out of his system. It’s here where they encounter a horny ghost who fancies the virgin monk. When she’s rebuffed she decides to tease the two hundred eighty year old practitioner of “the egg technique” – a method in which not eating or breaking eggs ensures longevity. Trapped in a room lined with eggs, each step adds four years to the monk’s life. By the time his young apprentice finally realizes that his master’s screams are of terror and not ecstasy (it’d be tough for anyone to resist such a hot ghost), the holy man hosts a head of silver hair.

By now, it’s time for the demon to reappear and kick the story into gear again. He steals the soul of the Hoi-born locksmith and kidnaps Panther, leading the rest of our heroes to his tunnel-ridden/undead populated lair for the final showdown. The demon’s zombie army proves that reanimated corpses don’t have to be slow. These soulless minions would beat George Romero’s zombies in a track meet any day, helping to make them all the more scary!

With such a bland title and rather uninteresting cover box, this is a true gem uncovered. RETURN OF THE DEMON is often overlooked due to its lack of a major star and squirrelly antagonist (the demon may leap like The Hulk at times, but he’s no hopping vampire, and his motivations for evil aren’t fully founded). The film really keeps its audience on its toes, never really deciding whether it wants to be a blood-drenched horror film or a slapstick comedy. That is neither a complaint nor a criticism for it doesn’t matter which genre it sides with since it delivers the goods in both categories!

More Buying Options for CdC #15

Here are some buying options for purchasing Cashiers du Cinemart #15 online:

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Nice Review of CdC #15


The new Cashiers Du Cinemart, issue No. 15, has hit the stands. None of its content is available on line yet (though a lot of the previous issue is), but it's a good issue with lots of noirish material well worth tracking down. Editor Mike White (no relation to the writer/director) contributes a profile of much-adapted mystery writer David Goodis, and White also conducts an interview with James Ellroy while surveying his cinematic legacy. Also on hand is a survey of "fan edits" of hit movies, also by Mike White, and an account of the fascinating, insiderish novel Flicker, by Theodore Roszak, again by Mike White. Roszak's book is on the verge of becoming of a movie, and White reviews the script by Jim Uhls, whose only other credit is Fight Club. White also does massive autopsies on the most recent Fantastic Four and Superman movies. Not credited to White is the column "Notes from the Underground," by Andy Gately, which covers Psychopathia Sexualis, and the film about the late conspiratoligist, Mae Brussell in Santa Cruz. — D. K. Holm

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

From Cashiers du Cinemart #15

The Top Ten Time Travel Movies of All Time

Nascent films were single takes of life scenes. With the first cut, time as a cinematic construct was compressed. This manipulation could be used to make cinema a magical realm where time found new meaning. Even as film sped through a projector, the world on screen could move backwards, giving viewers a representation of traveling through time. The cinematic world of sight (and eventually sound) could also be one of the mind. Viewers could experience the fourth dimension.

During cinema’s first century, time travel became a favorite subject. It’s outshone in science fiction perhaps only by space travel (though the two go together well—PLANET OF THE APES, anyone?). The following is a list of the top ten time travel films: the most fun, the most memorable, and the most innovative.

10. TIMECOP (Peter Hyams, 1994)

Based on the Dark Horse comic book series by Mike Richardson and Mark Verheiden (who also penned the script), Peter Hyams’s TIMECOP stands out as one of the best films to star Jean-Claude Van Damme. As an officer of the Time Enforcement Commission (TEC), Max Walker (Van Damme) works to keep the sanctity of our timeline secure. Those who attempt manipulating the past for future benefit face Walker’s particular brand of butt-kicking justice. When Walker goes after politico Aaron McComb (Ron Silver) for some temporal treachery, he and his family are targeted for termination. Now it’s personal. Walker has to try repairing McComb’s chronological crimes, and, along the way, prevent his wife’s murder. TIMECOP spawned a short-lived TV series and a direct-to-video sequel.

9. SUMMER TIME MACHINE BLUES (Katsuyuki Motohiro, Japan, 2005)

A charming and complex little tale of cause and effect, this Japanese film is as self-effacing as it is self-reflexive. Five college friends are members of the “Sci-Fi Club” despite their communal disinterest in science fiction. They spend their time playing baseball (horribly) or Othello (a variation of Go). When the remote control to their air conditioner breaks (“We really should have put an on-switch on the unit”) and a time machine shows up in their clubhouse (looking like it was right out of the George Pal TIME MACHINE), a decision to go back in time and steal a working version of the remote sets off a flurry of events that threatens to erase all of human existence. With posters of BACK TO THE FUTURE up at the local multiplex (run by a guy who wears Jean-Luc Picard’s uniform shirt with shorts), the general cinematic attitude towards time travel comes to blows with the local know-it-all professor who just can’t accept that a time machine exists. Complete with video game sound effects that play when the guys complete a “mission,” SUMMER TIME MACHINE BLUES is as clever as it is fun.

8. BILL & TED’S EXCELLENT ADVENTURE (Stephen Herek, 1989)

Comparable to the British TV series “Doctor Who” with its time-traveling telephone booth, BILL & TED’S EXCELLENT ADVENTURE languished in limbo due to its distributor, the De Laurentiis Entertainment Group, going bankrupt in 1987. It didn’t reach the silver screen until 1989, dumped into multiplexes in the dead zone of February. Upon release, BILL & TED became something of a cultural phenomenon. Bill S. Preston (Alex Winter) and Ted Logan (Keanu Reeves) are the time traveling progenitors of Wayne and Garth of WAYNE’S WORLD or Jesse and Chester of DUDE, WHERE’S MY CAR? Journeying through the past to fulfill their destiny, the dimwitted duo kidnaps a handful of historical figures to help with their history homework. Think of it as a less larcenous and taller version of TIME BANDITS. Capturing the “surfer dude” mentality and patois of Southern California, BILL & TED’S EXCELLENT ADVENTURE was followed by video games, a comic book, television shows, and a sequel that has high points (thanks, no doubt, to Alex Winter), but was weak overall.

7. PRIMER (Shane Carruth, 2004)

One of the most elliptical films in recent memory, PRIMER is economical in both budget and plot line. The tale of young engineers Aaron (Shane Carruth) and Abe (David Sullivan), we first see the pair working on their off-hours to get ahead. While researching a new superconductor, they stumble upon technology to manipulate time. The clever script doesn’t pussyfoot around with scenes of safety-testing the equipment (“I can imagine no way in which this thing could be considered anywhere remotely close to safe.”) or even building man-sized time travel machines (a “future self” does it for them). Instead, it plunges headlong into paradoxes, multiple incarnations of characters, and “reverse-engineering a perfect moment.” While PRIMER can justifiably be criticized as being too convoluted, it’s the rare film that doesn’t dumb down its content for easy digestion.

6. DONNIE DARKO (Richard Kelly, 2001)

In something of a cross between GROUNDHOG DAY and HARVEY (with a much more malevolent bunny), Jake Gyllenhaal plays the titular character with a brooding intensity. Oddly, no one necessarily travels through time in this art house favorite. Rather, it’s a jet engine that journeys through a temporal wormhole, creating an alternate universe that Darko vaguely works to make right. Despite being directed by an egomaniac who essentially ruined his own film with his “director’s cut,” the theatrical version of DONNIE DARKO was a terrifically moody take on tangential universes, teen angst, and giant rabbits. Often obtuse but nevertheless rewarding, DONNIE DARKO is a labyrinthine and rewarding journey.


With roots in Ray Bradbury’s “A Sound of Thunder,” affluent tourists go on day trips back to the past. Rather than hunting dinosaurs, dastardly day-trippers hope to secret back the workings of the atomic bomb to Adolph Hitler. The plot to alter human history might have gone off without a hitch, save for the untimely death of pilot Jan Bures (Petr Kostka). Rather than scrubbing the trip, his twin brother Karel (also Petr Kostka) takes his place only to inadvertently ruin the intricate scheme. Normally this subject matter would be perfect for a chrono-thriller. However, director Jindrich Polak has created a laugh-filled romp. Co-written by the masterful Milos Macourek and based on a story by author Josef Nesvadba, the two worked together previously on another temporal comedy, Olrich Lipsky’s ZABIL JSEM EINSTEINA, PANOVE / I KILLED EINSTEIN, GENTLEMEN.

4. THE TERMINATOR (James Cameron, 1984)

Predating BACK TO THE FUTURE by just a year, one may wonder what was in the zeitgeist to prompt such a strong reaction in American cinema to manipulate time. Perhaps it was that the U.S. was under the rule of American tyrant Ronald Reagan. Certainly, our future was in a precarious position. Reagan had shown his mania most vividly with his March 23, 1983 “Star Wars speech.” The idea of an automated defense system that would “intercept and destroy strategic ballistic missiles” from outer space sounds suspiciously like the business plan for Cyberdyne Systems Corporation, the creators of Skynet: a network of supercomputers that took control of the world’s military systems. When Skynet senses imminent defeat by John Conner in the future, it sends back one of its best weapons to 1984. The Terminator (Arnold Schwarzenegger), a cyborg-like killing machine, has the mission of killing Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton) and defeating the predestination paradox. An amalgamation of Harlan Ellison’s work on “The Outer Limits” and Philip K. Dick’s short story “Second Variety” (later made into SCREAMERS), THE TERMINATOR makes the most of its miniscule budget and is rightfully one of the best known science fiction films ever made.

3. TWELVE MONKEYS (Terry Gilliam, 1995)

Returning to the themes of temporal tomfoolery from TIME BANDITS and the tenuous nature of sanity from THE FISHER KING, director Terry Gilliam’s TWELVE MONKEYS took its story line from Chris Marker’s classic LA JETÉE. A mixture of post-apocalyptic gloom and paranoid doom, the film stars Bruce Willis (sans hairpiece, except for comic effect in one scene) as James Cole, a prisoner in a future world devastated by disease who’s sent back to 1990 with the mission to save the world. No pressure, right? Diagnosed with Cassandra Syndrome, he’s institutionalized. In the loony bin, Cole meets Jeffrey Goines (a standout performance by Brad Pitt), the cockeyed son of a virus expert. He escapes with the forced help of Dr. Kathryn Railly (MIA actress Madeleine Stowe) and strives to unravel the mystery of “The Army of the Twelve Monkeys,” a prankster group that seems to be a precursor to Project Mayhem (FIGHT CLUB). Rather than monkeys, Cole is chasing a large red herring. TWELVE MONKEYS is a race against time and towards destiny in this dark journey into madness.

2. TIME AFTER TIME (Nicholas Meyer, 1979)

Known for mixing historical figures with fictional characters, such as Sigmund Freud and Sherlock Holmes in THE SEVEN PERCENT SOLUTION, writer/director Nicholas Meyer is best remembered for creating the smartest Star Trek film of the series (STAR TREK II: WRATH OF KHAN). A terrific steampunk tale, the main characters in TIME AFTER TIME are Victorian contemporaries H.G. Wells (Malcolm McDowell) and John Leslie Stevenson (David Warner). This Wells doesn’t simply write about time machines; he’s built one. This makes a good getaway device for Stevenson—you see, Stevenson is better known as Jack the Ripper. Wells gives saucy Jack chase through the ages, ending up in late-seventies San Francisco. This new age is a playground for the murderous Ripper. Meanwhile, fish-out-of-water Wells and his new friend, Amy (Mary Steenburgen), work together to stop the serial killer. Steenburgen would go on to play a very similar role as Clara Clayton in BACK TO THE FUTURE III.

1. BACK TO THE FUTURE (Robert Zemeckis, 1985)

Written by the subversive team of Bob Gale and Robert Zemeckis (USED CARS), BACK TO THE FUTURE is a family-friendly tale of incest and second chances. If you’re not familiar with the story of Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) and his trip back to 1950s Hill Valley, California via a plutonium-powered DeLorean time machine, then I’m not sure how they got internet access under the rock where you’ve been living all your life. Graduating from summer blockbuster to cultural phenomenon, BACK TO THE FUTURE still resonates today (Christopher Lloyd reprised his role as Doc Brown in a pair of DirectTV commercials in spring 2007).

Special thanks to Ali at

Saturday, August 11, 2007

FIDO (Andrew Currie, Canada, 2006)

Starting off like an episode of “Lassie,” Timmy Robinson (K’Sun Ray) and his loyal pet, Fido (Billy Connolly), are best pals. When Fido isn’t doing household tasks for Mrs. Robinson (Carrie-Anne Moss), he and Timmy play in the park. Fido fills the void left by Mr. Robinson (Dylan Baker) who’s always out at the golf course when he’s not working or worrying about paying for his family’s funeral. It’s the rare person who has a funeral anymore and Mr. Robinson is determined that his family will have theirs. It’s either that or they’ll return from the dead as zombies.

Used as servants, manual laborers, pets, and perhaps for prurient ends, the zombies of the idyllic town of Willard are amongst the legions of undead that have been domesticated after the Zombie War. Mrs. Robinson felt obligated to get Fido after the Bottoms, and their seven zombies, moved in across the street. It doesn’t matter that Mr. Robinson has an intense fear of zombies. After all, they have to maintain appearances, don’t they?

Reworking themes previously explored by director Andrew Currie’s short film, NIGHT OF THE LIVING (1997), FIDO questions humanity while examining the roles and responsibilities of fathers. The more Mr. Robinson frets, the closer to the forefront Fido moves. All of this plays against a ‘50s setting, resulting in something like George Romero’s version of “Ozzie & Harriet.”

With strong performances by Moss, Baker, and Tim Blake Nelson (as a neighbor with a hot zombie girlfriend), the use of Connolly as Fido is a strange one. While Connolly does a great job, his character never speaks. For an actor/comedian known for his terrific voice and accent, a mute Connolly is a bit of a waste. Apart from that, FIDO is a nice little zombie tale.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Can't Keep 'Em Straight

I have the worst luck keeping these people's names/identities straight. Here's a little tutorial for myself and anyone else who has the same problem.

Keith David / David Keith

David KeithKeith David

There's probably a more delicate way to put this but, simply, Keith David is the Black guy and David Keith is the White guy. Saying "Keith David" is usually the sure bet because he's been in a whole hell of a lot more films than David Keith -- at least I see more of Keith David's appearances (THE THING, THEY LIVE, ROAD HOUSE, etc).

Warren Ellis / Harlan Ellison

Warren Ellis is a renown comic book author (recently branching out into fiction with Crooked Little Vein) while Harlan Ellison is a science fiction author from way back ("Star Trek," A BOY AND HIS DOG, etc.).

Rip Torn / Rip Taylor

Rip Torn Rip Taylor

This one really took me a long time to keep straight. It just doesn't make sense to me that Rip Torn as a 'joke name' where he can be a pretty serious actor while confetti-throwing funny man Rip Taylor has the 'normal name'.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

The Degenerettes Are Coming!

These fine young ladies will be my house guests this weekend. They're doing a gig in my neck of the woods.

It's funny -- when we bought our house six years ago, one of the big bonuses for me was the spare bedroom and extra sleeping space we set up in the basement. "This will be perfect for out of town guests!" I thought. Since then we've only really gotten a handful of house guests and some people that could have stayed over have opted to pass, due to our cats and dogs. Oh well. Perhaps someday we'll be the haven for out-of-town rockers and filmmakers that I always wanted us to be.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Can't wait for SUPERBAD and RUSH HOUR 3 to come out...

Just so they'll stop playing those damn trailers in front of everything at the cinema. Both films, especially SUPERBAD, are the most media-saturated films of the season.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Garden State Blues

I've got GARDEN STATE on the TV at the moment. My gosh. I've not seen such a blatant "art house" film in a long time. Soooooo self-indulgent. There's not one non-quirky character and it's all set to a jangly alternative soundtrack. I feel like shooting myself. Shame on you Zach Braff. Shame!

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Deadline for Cashiers du Cinemart #16

I'm trying to be proactive here...

Interested in writing for Cashiers du Cinemart #16?

Please be aware of the following dates and information:

  • September 15, 2007 - Submit article idea
  • October 31, 2007 - Submit finished article

Articles most conform to our style guide.

Be aware, too, that we're always looking for illustrators to abuse and discourage!