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[left][font=Courier New][size=2]I would get into arguments with someone I use to work with over people from the Middle East. He believed that no one from those countries were a decent human being, and that we should "bomb the whole fucking country and get it over with." I disagreed because I knew, like I hope most people with a brain, that this particular part of the world has gone largely misunderstood through the years. Especially since it has become among the most war-torn places on Earth.
Ivan O'Mahoney and Laura Winter's documentary [i]The Boys from Baghdad High[/i] isn't an original idea. There have been other documentaries that have given cameras to its subjects and asked them to film their daily life. But that fact in no way harms the film. What I appreciate with this way of filming is that it allows the people on camera, four teenage friends from different backgrounds, to present their personal account of life in this part of the world. And without the opinions or bleeding heart of some annoying narrator.
If there is one thing that I want people to take away from this film it would be that even with all of the wars and the "terrible" things that happen in this part of the world, these people are no different than any other culture in the world. And as you watch the film, the four teens become less and less "foreign" and end up being like any teen you could think of. They face the same problems (girls, studying, family issues...), and have the same interests (music, cell phones, hanging with friends...).
I have to give much respect to the four teens, Hayder Khalid, Mohammad Raed, Anmar Refat and Ali Shadman, for the risks they took to help make this picture. I've learned of the dangers that could have emerged if authorities had discovered that these four were filming this documentary. And it is amazing that they did it fearlessly and with charm that made it enjoyable time to follow them.
Towards the end the film kind of fizzles out, but I think this is still an impressive piece of work and one of the best documentaries to come out featuring Iraq as its focal point. When thinking of Iraq, most Americans I'm sure would think about the men and women of our armed services over there rather than the people caught in between the conflict. That is why [i]The Boys from Baghdad High[/i] is such a wonderful film. The war plays in the background, but never takes over the film. Instead we get to see a part of Iraq that we rarely see. And it is presented in an honest and beautiful fashion. One of the most moving pictures I've seen this year![/size][/font]
Of the Godzilla films from the Showa Era Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster is one of the best released during this period.
Full review at Hot Dogs in the Dark
[font=Courier New]In a lot of ways, this film is more of a Cult Film than a Great Film. But since my first viewing back in 1994, [i]Infra-Man[/i] has gone onto becoming one of my favorite movies of all time. While some wont see why I would consider it for this list, others may understand the films naïve charm and can see its greatness.
A series of natural disasters occur, and the fortress of Princess Dragon Mom (Terry Liu) surfaces from being the Earths surface. With her band of hideous mutants, she is planning on conquering Earth, and enslaving all humans for eternity. But a Professor at a local plant is experimenting on a man to create the ultimate weapon.
What emerges from this experiment can only be explained as a strange fusion between Bruce Lee and The Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. Li Hsiu-Hsien plays Infra-Man, the silver and red suited hero. With his weapons ranging from razor sharp blades that can cut through anything, to boots that shoot sparks out of them, Infra-Man wages battle against Princess Dragon Mom and her horde of monsters.
Even though you can spot where the actors enter the monster suits, I still like the different types of monsters this movie offers. There is The Driller Beast, who is a rock monster with tunneling equipment for hands, The Giant Beetle Monster that can grow from small to large in just seconds, The Iron Fists Robots that have slinky limbs that reach far distances and many other great creations.
This movie is completely absurd and ridiculous, but there lies the films greatness. It somehow manages to combine the ludicrous with an unusual amount of entertainment. Most sci-fi films like this have a problem with being boring. I kind of want to give some credit to the Shaw Brothers Studio for making this film better than it normally would have been. To most martial arts fans, this is the studio to go to for entertaining action flicks.
Each of the characters, while noticeably fake, all have a really great look to them. Everything from Infra-Mans bug eyed suit to the skeleton-clad biker guards, everyone is just so cool to look at. And the movie makes great use out of these character designs, as well as the cool locations.
I know some may still be questioning why I would put this on my Great Films list. I know this movie might not have the same power of previous entries. But like [i]Monster Squad[/i], this film has managed to transcend its cult weirdness, and became something I still enjoy watching over and over. And isnt that all that really matters to the films we consider great?
This movie is pretty much damn near impossible to find in America at the moment. You can get shoddy DVD-R releases, or try looking for an old VHS copy on eBay or something. Anyway you do it, if you really are into old martial arts movies with a slice of the weird, then [i]Infra-Man[/i] might be what you have been looking for. [/font]
[font=Courier New][i]The Return[/i] is one of the most disturbing movies I have ever seen about the relationship between a father and his children. No, it isnt a film about molesting or extreme child abuse ( I use the world extreme because some of his actions can be seen as abuse). This is more a film about the impact on two young brothers lives after their father, who left them 12 years ago, returns one day. The three pack up and go on a fishing trip for a few days. What follows will test the brothers both physically and emotionally.
The father is portrayed by Konstantin Lavronenko. His performance is both haunting, and oddly fascinating. The movie never gives us clues onto why he is the way he is. We see him sternly push rules and boundaries for his two sons, and in an almost cruel way. Is he a monster? Does he have no real clue how to raise children? The movie never lets us knows. I know that sounds like a disappointment, but it seems to work in the films favor.
The movie is more about the two brothers who have this man return into their lives. Andrey (Vladimir Garin) and Ivan (Ivan Dobronravov) give to powerful performances as polar opposites. Andrey seems to bow to his fathers every wish and demand. Ivan on the other hand doesnt. He is confused onto why his father would want to walk back into their lives. With no clear reason, he begins to question his fathers motives. Much like I felt, I wanted to know myself.
But by the end of the film, their chance of ever knowing disappears. This moment is chilling and surprising, while being beautiful at the same time. It may leave a lot of viewers either confused or irritated at the fact that they are as in the dark as the two brothers. But honestly, what explanation could have worked that would have made this film any better?
Andrei Zvyagintsev is an impressive director, and someone who film lovers should keep an eye on. My only complaint is the overdrawn camera pans across the landscapes. In some films it seems to work, but for me it felt like it brought the movie to a halt whenever it occurred. But still, [i]The Return[/i] is an impressive work that needs to be seen by anyone who loves challenging films.
I learned a little before viewing the film that Vladimir Garin, who plays the older brother, drowned shortly after the movie was done filming in the lake used in the movie. I dont want to say that this made me appreciate his performance more, because I thought he did a marvelous job anyway. But it makes his performance timeless. It saddens me that we wont get to see another one from him. [/font]
I was having a pretty good time with Full Moon movies lately with both Head of the Family and Gingerdead Man 2: Passion of the Crust being among the better surprises from the studio, so I was set to enjoy more of their features. Jeffrey Combs is no stranger to Full Moon movies, and being a favorite cult horror icon of mine, I picked Doctor Mordrid to be my next film to watch.
Doctor Mordrid felt similar to the Marvel Comic's character of Dr. Strange, and I've read that apparently this was what this film was intended to be an adaptation of before the licensing for the character fell through. But that didn't stop Charles Band and crew, who rewrote the script a little and changed some of the characters. I guess there were some good intentions with this movie, but it still resulted in one of the least effective films I have seen from this studio.
Something similar with most Full Moon films is that they aren't that long. This has its pluses, and it has some negatives. Doctor Mordrid is a short film at a little over 70 minutes, but nothing happens in that time span that is either interesting or could remotely considered story development. There is no build up to the film's finale, and the movie is almost completely incoherent. Maybe a longer run could have helped flesh out this film.
The film is supposed to be about a sorcerer, Mordrid (Combs), who is protecting Earth from a possible invasion from another dimension, but not a lot of magical stuff happens in the film. I guess budgeting limitations prevented the film from going all out with Mordrid's magic abilities, but a little more than the sorcerer vs. sorcerer showdown finale was needed to sell this film as a movie about people with magic powers.
I liked at the end of the film there was stop motion animation used to bring to life the bones of a couple of dinosaurs in a museum. But other than that, this ranks among my least favorite Full Moon films. It looks as if the films in this Charles Band Collection are going to be another brutal collection of films to get through.