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Dec 11, 2009

Mandrill Trailer

Mandrill was one of my favorite films at Fantastic Fest and TwitchFilm has pointed us to the trailer at last. I’ve said it before but Marko Zaror is just waiting for his chance to blow up in h.wood. Hopefully you”ll have a chance to see this awesome flick soon.

Original Twitch post

Posted by enderzero at 10:12am on Dec. 11, 2009    
Jan 13, 2013

Ryland’s Top 50 Films of 2012 (+ 5 Most Overrated)


Oh boy! It’s end of the year reflection time once again. 2012 was another great year on the festival beat with trips to Sundance, SXSW, Cannes, LA Film Fest, Toronto International Film Fest, Fantastic Fest, AFI Fest, and the Amazonas Film Fest making for plenty of hot butt-on-theater-seat action. When it was all said and done (and assuming I kept my records straight), 178 movies qualified for my 2012 list. Each of these films either played at a festival or in theatrical release in 2012, but did not qualify for last year’s list. That’s why some movies that showed up on many critics’ 2012 list, such as Joachim Trier’s Oslo August, 31st, won’t be found here. That film was on my 2011 list (at #3, no less).

Still, there were plenty of potential chart middlers that I was unable to get to. Some popular titles that have made their way to other lists include Amour, Life of Pi, Wreck-it-Ralph, Tabu, Polisse,This is Not a Film, and Total Recall. Sorry — can’t see em all.

As like past lists, I’ve included my original tweet (sometimes a couple) that usually serves as my initial reaction to the film. I’ve also included a link if I reviewed the film on Twitch. This year I’ve also endeavored to include the distribution status for each film so you can know where to find it. Please take the time to drop me a note and let me know your thoughts.

On to the list!

Posted by enderzero at 9:26am on Jan. 13, 2013    
Jun 3, 2010

LA Film Fest ’10 Arrives Downtown

This year’s LAFF has been moved from its recent Westwood home to the considerably more interesting Downtown Los Angeles. Theaters include The Downtown Independent, The Orpheum, and the Regal 14 at LA Live. This should be a good opportunity to check out some interesting venues. Here’s a look at a few highlights, beginning with the flicks I’m going to try to hit. Lemme know if you are interested in joining.

MANDRILL – This raucous Chilean spy actioner was one of my favorite films at the awesome Fantastic Fest last Fall. I would definitely be into seeing it again if we had a good crew.
Screens Tues 6/22, 7:45pm, Regal & Sat 6/26, 10pm, Independent

TINY FURNITURE – This NYC Indie by Lena Dunham was the darling of this year’s SXSW.
Screens Sat 6/19, 7:30pm, Regal & Mon 6/21, 10pm, Regal

THE TILLMAN STORY – I missed this Afghan War docu at Sundance but it has been lauded as one of the year’s best. It is directed by Amir Bar-Lev who directed My Kid Could Paint That and co-produced the Sundance hit Katrina docu Trouble the Water.
Screens Sat 6/19, 9:35pm, Regal & Sun 6/20, 1:30pm, Independent

AIN’T IN IT FOR MY HEALTH: A FILM ABOUT LEVON HELM – Jacob Hatley’s docu about The Band drummer/vocalist got some great write-ups at SXSW.
Screens Sun 6/20, 7pm, Regal & Fri 6/25, 9:45pm, Regal

MONSTERS – This sounds like a pretty interesting indie sci-fi about a pair battling across an alien infested swath of land between Mexico and America.
Screens Weds 6/23, 10:15pm, Regal & Sat 6/26, 7pm, Independent

PARADE – LAFF has a few good Japanese offerings this year including this Tokyo drama from Isao Yukisada.

GOLDEN SLUMBER – Another of LAFF’s Japanese offerings is this absurd sounding adventure by Yoshihiro Nakamura.

UDON – Filed under ones that got away, this 2006 comedy by Katsuyuki Motohiro revolves around Japan’s famous noodle. It is presented by LA Times’ Jonathan Gold.

DOG SWEAT – This film, shot clandestinely in Iran, is a verite examination of current Iranian society.

THE PEOPLE VS. GEORGE LUCAS – Expect this 6/23 FORD THEATER screening of the Star Wars creator docu to be a raucous time.

ANIMAL KINGDOM – David Michod’s Australian crime drama was a big hit at Sundance. It is well worth checking out in its LA premier.

THE RED CHAPEL – Another Sundance flick, this docu takes you into North Korea with a group of Danish absurdist political street performers.

DOWN TERRACE – I’ve mentioned this British indie a few times since its Fantastic Fest unspooling. It bodes well that it made the LAFF program as well.

FOUR LIONS – This British Office style terrorist comedy was one of the first flicks I reviewed at Sundance. It certainly has its funny moments.

WAITING FOR SUPERMAN – Davis Guggenheim’s public school Sundance docu is currently known as WAITING FOR because of Time Warner’s reluctance to allow them to use “Superman” in the title. Pfff

PEE WEE’S BIG ADVENTURE – It’s not every day you get a chance to see this Tim Burton/Paul Reubens classic on the big screen. Reubens is scheduled to to be there in person.
Screens Sat 6/26, 1pm, The Orpheum

Posted by enderzero at 3:10pm on Jun. 3, 2010    
Sep 30, 2009

Fantastic Fest in Review


I just spent five great days at Austin’s Fantastic Fest and the experience was awesome. Aside form the 17 films I watched, the festival had plenty of other cool events on offer. This year founder Tim has opened up a bowling alley/party space called The Highball next to his amazing Alamo Draft House Cinema which offered the perfect place for the late night hanging and unlimited free skee-ball! The Fantastic Fest Debates were especially hilarious as after each debate (or roast) the contestants literally duked it out.

The cinema itself is something to behold. A 6 screen stadium theater with seats and sound on par with Arclight. But the real innovation is the full service restaurant built in. They have figured out the perfect system to keep the wait staff unobtrusive – you just write down your order on a little flag and they come by and pick it up. There is a long narrow table in front of each row to set your beer or burger and a little aisle below each row where the wait staff walks. I don’t know why no one has tried this in LA, but the formula is a winner.

All things considered it was a real blast. A world of thanks to Dan for making it happen. We’ll definitely do it again next year.

Now on to the film round-up (in order viewed):

FIRST SQUAD – Rating: 4 out of 10
This Russian animated feature is by the Japanese team behind Animatrix. The animation is cool but the horribly implemented documentary device of bad actors pretending to be history experts totally ruined the movie. This isn’t Waltz with Bashir, it is an action cartoon. There were a few cool story elements, but overall they weren’t enough to keep me awake.

GENTLEMEN BRONCOS – Rating: 9 out of 10
This new film from Jared Hess (Napoleon Dynamite, Nacho Libre) is as wacky as possible and genuinely HILARIOUS. Everything works, especially Jemaine Clement as one of the best characters of the year. It slowed down a tiny bit after the very strong opening, but the ridiculous fantasy sequences go a long way to smooth out the pace. This film certainly exceeded my already high expectations.

REC 2 – Rating: 6 out of 10
I was quite impressed by this horror-thriller’s clean look. The story works and there are some good thrills, but what is most remarkable is the first person narrative device that the filmmakers fully commit to with great success. More than any movie I’ve ever seen, this film feels like a videogame – and it is fun.

This film is about college students who train little supernatural creatures to battle teams from other colleges. While it may have a pretty bizarre premise, it is actually a quite traditional story about a loser guy who falls for a girl who is out of his league. All things considered, the film works and is pretty fun.

HARD REVENGE MILLY – Rating: 5 out of 10
This is a super low budget Japanese blood and guts actioner. The skeleton of a story doesn’t provide much to chew on, but the film does succeed at finding new ways to splatter the camera with watery blood.

ZOMBIELAND – Rating: 8 out of 10
This flick is most definitely the top of the zombie movie heap. It is maybe not quite as hilarious as Shaun of the Dead, but it certainly provides a lot more zombie killing thrills. The film has some great set pieces, an amazing cameo, and Emma Stone is Bodacious.

This is a really enjoyable wacky Japanese high school flick with some good acting and pretty decent effects. However, the real star of the film is the biting criticism leveled against fringe elements of Japanese society.

K-20: THE FIEND WITH 20 FACES – Rating: 3 out of 10
This big budget Japanese superhero film borrows heavily from every other superhero film you’ve ever seen. There may be some fun stunts and wire work, but the plot is just plain horrible. Worst of all, this film is sloooow and is far far too long.

UNDER THE MOUNTAIN – Rating: 3 out of 10
Two annoying kids save New Zealand from evil underground aliens whose story doesn’t make any sense.

YATTERMAN – Rating: 9 out of 10
Yet another genre mastered by Miike! This time it is the comic superhero comedy. The story is awesome with a lot of genuine emotion. The CG is top notch (as compared to the disappointingly low budget look of The Great Yokai War). The action sequences are fantastic and reminded me of playing the Dreamcast classic Powerstone. Overall this film in f*ing fun!

CLIVE BARKER’S DREAD – Rating: 5 out of 10
There wasn’t a whole lot wrong about this very indie thriller – but there wasn’t that much right either. I’d call it pretty damn mediocre and it is not helped by the generally unsatisfying ending.

VAN DIEMEN’S LAND – Rating: 7 out of 10
This story of a grueling prison camp escape in 18th century Tasmania is a bit slow and cerebral, but overall it is a well told story with some very nice cinematography.

MANDRILL – Rating: 8 out of 10
Mandrill is the Chilean James Bond and it is amazing! Ernesto Diaz-Espinoza follows up Mirageman by again directing the incredible Marko Zaror – who has got to become an action star around the world. The film is fun and funny and really does everything right. On top of that, the filmmakers and stars are very approachable and cool guys. Way to go.

Terry Gilliam’s Heath Ledger swan song was the only “secret screening” I caught. I liked the performances and the way it all came together but was turned off by the very cheap CGI (where were the magic visual effects of Brazil?) and overall I was unconvinced by the plot.

DISTRICT B13 ULTIMATUM – Rating: 2 out of 10
This film was very disappointing after the awesome District B13. There with no semblance of a story and almost no parkour! What the hell?

LOVE EXPOSURE – Rating: 7 out of 10
While there is a very different 100 minute movie somewhere in there (remake?), the 237 minute version is certainly an ambitious and generally successful undertaking. Melding a coming of age story with many Japanese sexual elements and borrowing a lot of themes from A Clockwork Orange, this film goes all over the map but is quite satisfying in the end.

METROPIA – Rating: 7 out of 10
This is a pretty cool sci-fi tale about big brother, all very stylistically animated.

Posted by enderzero at 3:37pm on Sep. 30, 2009