July 9, 2013

Retroview: Tuff Fest I: Wrap-Up Mega-Post 2

A Retroview Review. 
Luke here, back with a new limited series where I talk about like 60 movies over the next 60 days. Click here for an explanation. Read on for the quick and dirty review!

Okay, so, like 4-5 months late, here is the first of the last two wrap ups for Tuff Fest I: 

House II
Everything that can possibly happen in a movie happens in House II. And all in 90 minutes. It's a sequel that is so loosely related to it's original that basically it's only connection is that it calls itself a sequel to House (not House, or House, or House, or House though). But that doesn't matter at all, much in the same way that Troll 2 doesn't need to be related to a movie called Troll, because it's so bad ass that it transcends any predecessors. Cowboys, John Ratzenberger, Zombies, Mayans, Dinosaurs, Halloween, Bill Maher, 80's pop stars, dance parties, dinner parties, virgin sacrifices, ex-lovers ... the list goes on and on. The Best thing about this movie and that it doesn't feel as though it's dragging on, or that it's trying to accomplish too much. Some how they managed to get everything "movie" into 90 minutes, which is the most "movie" time for a movie to be. Just see it. Seriously. This is the only one during Tuff Fest that I'd seen before, and it was well worth it.

More reviews below the cut! 

Dustin Hoffman is just as much the powerhouse as everyone who has ever spoken about this movie has said he is. It's not Straw Dogs gritty, but he gets scary. It's also an incredibly sad story, made more intense by the fact that it's true. Very good. Very very good. 

The first 20 minutes of Blade Runner: Theatrical Cut
I started watching this movie, knowing full well that there are several versions of it out there, and that this one is supposedly the best. After those 20 minutes passed, I wanted to keep watching, but Harrison Ford's voice over, coming in and telling us what Ridley Scott was already showing us, was too much. I know there's a version without this, so that's the one I'm going to see first. Maybe I'll come back to this version at some point after, in case it fills in anything that I'll miss in the other version. 

A Woman Is a Woman
Godard is such a bad ass. There is a reason that he is often the first name that comes up when discussing French New Wave. His sets, the oddly written and expertly delivered dialogue, even the sound design could still arguably be seen as ahead of its time. This is not my favorite FNW movie, that will forever be Pierrot le Fou, a movie that I think has everything that distinguishes FNW from the other movie genres, but this will be a pretty close second for sometime.

The first 10 minutes and the last 30 minutes of Enter the Void
I started watching this movie with Ben, Beth, Justin, and Miranda a few months prior to finishing it. I missed the first 10 minutes when they started, and by the 2 hour mark we had all given up. After now going back and seeing the parts I missed, I can say only a few things about it. The first is that this movie is like watching two things simultaneously: the iTunes music visualizer and Grand Theft Auto 2. The second is that, while it's pretty, it's also very boring, trite, gross, and way too long. Lastly, I can say that I would never recommend it to anyone ever. What a dumb movie. 

I do adore Steve Martin's 80's movies. They have a kookiness about them that you just can't find anywhere else. They're just like real life, but with an hint of the uncanny that really pulls you in, while making you aware that you're watching a movie and having a good time doing so. It may be a modern retelling of Cyrano de Bergerac, but it feels so signature Steve Martin that it's honestly hard to tell that he didn't write it himself. Every character is charming and tragic and wonderful. 

I was a little wary about watching this movie. It just has a lot of weight around it. I mean, the black and white image on the poster, the one word title, Francis Ford Coppola's name attached to it, the long running time. I knew that this would be a heavy experience without even reading the synopsis (which I generally try to avoid whenever possible). I leapt in, and found that I was mostly right. This is a dense, emotional movie. It's no Steel Magnolias or Misery, but it's unrelenting. That said, it was also rewarding. It's a dang good story, but definitely one you'll have to make an evening out of.

Match Point
Woody Allen is a great filmmaker. There's just no room to argue on that. This movie is sad, and hard to watch, because of how awful some of the characters act toward one another. But they're full and rich and engaging, the story consistently surprises the viewer. I'm glad Woody Allen seems to have departed the darker story lines with his recent releases, but this movie stands as a testament to his ability to delve into the darker parts of life. 

Kill Your Idols
What a funny movie. It's a documentary released in 2004 about the No Wave scene in NY in the 80's, which then goes on to explore its effect on modern music. What is funny about it is that now we are basically 10 years removed from when many of the comments were made on modern music and predictions of where it would be going, so we can plainly see how right and wrong they were. The history of the No Wave scene in the 80's is worth watching regardless of the rest of the stuff, but the parts of the movie I enjoyed the most were the interviews with "modern" no wave bands. Some bands were incredibly cocky, such as A.R.E. Weapons, and others were modest, just happy to have an audience, such as the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Gogol Bordello. Guess we know how that turned out... 

Lupin the 3rd: The Castle of Cagliostro
I fell in love with Lupin when Adult Swim or whoever controlled late night Cartoon Network when I was a child showed English dub episodes. The internet being what it was, I couldn't pirate them, and the box sets were rare and expensive, so I was stuck with having to stay up and hoping that they'd throw me a bone. How the world has changed! Now that I've seen my fair share of Lupin movies and episodes, I have to say I was surprised when I realized I hadn't seen this one yet. The Castle of Cagliostro captures the magic of a 20 minute Lupin episode and doesn't overstay its welcome, unlike many of the other Lupin full lengths. A fun little adventure, and probably a good starting point if you're looking to get into Lupin. 

An Act of Vengeance/Rape Squad
Let's be clear. I watched this so I could write about it to complete my application to last year's Butt-Numb-A-Thon. It's a hard movie to watch. It's also unlike any movie ever. It's as if some guys got together to make a movie about the problem of sexual assault, and they didn't realize that people wouldn't really want to watch a bunch of rapes, and that having bare chested women on screen wouldn't exactly work towards their goal of un-objectifying women. Filed under "I can't believe it was made." Probably don't watch it. 

I was honestly a little disappointed with some of this. Yeah, there were explosions and time travel and gun fights and fist fights and I had a bunch of friends over who helped me make fun of it ... but there were just too many plot holes. Time Travel, or maybe just how they chose to utilize it, in this world simply didn't make any sense. When you have a time machine, and someone does something bad that is integral to plot development, you need to make sure there is some reason the protagonist doesn't just get in his time machine and go back and stop the bad thing from happening.  

Conan O'Brien Can't Stop
I don't really watch TV. I'll wait for a good show to come to DVD, or I'll pirate it and pick up a DVD copy when it comes out or becomes otherwise available (I strongly support funding the people who spend their time and money creating something I like). That said, I've been known to watch Conan on occasion. And I like him. He has his own rules, and always has a look on his face that seems to be confused as to why anyone would pay him to do what he's doing. But Conan can totally be a jerk. This is where I'm assuming the title came from. It's saying a few things, one being that he is going to continue trying to work on TV as long as he can, and he'll do anything within his power to do so. The other part of it is that he can't control himself. There is a particularly grueling scene where, backstage, he starts making fun of a celebrity friend who came backstage to say hello, and Conan tears into him. It's done in a happy, joking tone, but it goes on forever. And you get the feeling that it went on for a lot longer then what was shown. I started off resenting Conan for being so cruel, but the resentment turned to pity as I realized that he doesn't have the will power to stop. A polarizing figure to be sure, Conan's doc is definitely worth checking out. 

Q: the winged serpent
Sort of a Jaws/King Kong/Godzilla mash up with the least lovable protagonist and several "I can't believe that anything that is currently happening is actually currently happening" scenes that make it, over all, an enjoyable experience. B-movie to the max. Oh yeah, there's also an incredibly random scene where the protagonist goes into a bar and plays an awful song on the piano. Can't be missed. 

Spider Baby
Spider Baby feels like a black comedy precursor to Texas Chainsaw Massacre. It's campy and sad and generally a pretty fun watch. I don't feel as strongly for it as I'm sure a lot of other people do, but I have to say that I did enjoy myself when I saw it.

Just one more installment, then on to bigger and equally as awesome things!

-Luke Hunter James-Erickson
To see all the movies written about so far, click here: Tuff Fest I
Again, for an explanation, click here: Introduction to Tuff Fest I
To suggest movies I should schedule for Get Tuff Fest II, e-mail me: TheeLuke@gmail.com

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