Sanatorium pod klepsydra [The Hourglass Sanatorium] (1973)

Sanatorium pod klepsydra
Director: Wojciech Has
Writer: Wojciech Has
Based on: some of Bruno Schulzstories
Cast: Jan Nowicki, Tadeusz Kondrat, Irena Orska

Joseph (Jan Nowicki) travels to the sanatorium where his father lies dying. The train ride there is already unusual, but the sanatorium itself seems to exist completely outside of time. It’s a crumbling ruin where his father seems to be the only patient, with only a nurse and a doctor present. The more Joseph stays there, the more he loses himself in a series of ever more absurd dreams.

The Hourglass Sanatorium is a weird film that follows dream logic with amazing accuracy and delivers some awesome images. But two hours is too long for that to work.



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Maps to the Stars (2014)

Maps to the Stars
Director: David Cronenberg
Writer: Bruce Wagner
Cast: Julianne Moore, Robert Pattinson, John Cusack, Mia Wasikowska, Evan Bird, Sarah Gadon, Olivia Williams, Carrie Fisher

Agatha (Mia Wasikowska) just arrived in Hollywood and is chauffeured around by Jerome (Robert Pattinson). But it quickly becomes clear that it isn’t her first time in the city, even if she hasn’t been in a while. She gets a job as an assistant to ageing actress Havana (Julianne Moore) who is obsessed with her mother (Sarah Gadon), also an actress who died at a very young age. For that she is in therapy with Stafford Weiss (John Cusack) whose unconventional methods are also selling pretty well as books. Stafford’s son Benjie (Evan Bird) is a child actor himself and has just been released from rehab, despite being only 13 years old. Now he and his mother Cristina (Olivia Williams) try everything to get his career back on track. But things in Hollywood are treacherous indeed.

Maps to the Stars was an interesting look at Hollywood with a stellar cast. It does make me wonder how much of it is actually realistic (since it is touted as such an honest look at Hollywood) but pushing that aside, it is definitely a smart, engaging film.


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A Streetcar Named Desire

A Streetcar Named Desire
Director: Benedict Andrews
Writer: Tennessee Williams
Cast: Gillian Anderson, Ben Foster, Vanessa Kirby, Corey Johnson
[I reviewed reading the play here.]

Blanche DuBois (Gillian Anderson) comes to visit her sister Stella (Vanessa Kirby) in New Orleans. The two of them come from a family of plantation owners who have been slowly but steadily going bankrupt. Now their plantation (Belle Reve) is gone and Blanche, who has always been a nervous type, is falling apart due to her alcoholism and the fact that she can’t really deal with her growing age and fading looks. Stella is happy to see Blanche, but Stella’s husband Stanley (Ben Foster), a factory worker, doesn’t trust Blanche or her story about how Belle Reve was lost. Blanche herself is shocked about the circumstances Stella lives in. As Blanche’s and Stanley’s worlds collide, something has got to give.

I love A Streetcar Named Desire. It really is one of my favorite plays. And because I love it so much, I have high expectations and a clear image of what the play should be like. Unfortunately, Benedict Andrews did not fulfill them.



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Non si sevizia un paperino [Don’t Torture a Duckling] (1972)

Non si sevizia un paperino
Director: Lucio Fulci
Writer: Lucio Fulci, Roberto Gianviti
Cast: Florinda Bolkan, Barbara Bouchet, Tomas Milian, Irene PapasMarc PorelGeorges Wilson

The murder of a boy just shook a small village, prompting not only a police investigation but also reporters to take over the entire village. Among the reporters is Martelli (Tomas Milian) who wants to get to the bottom of things. But he is also intrigued by Patrizia (Barbara Bouchet), a young woman of questionable reputation who also seems to be involved with the murder. As more boys are found killed, the tension in the village keeps rising and finding the killer becomes more and more paramount.

Don’t Torture a Duckling is a giallo movie and while there are most of the typical elements of such a film (like gore and nudity wrapped in a crime story), there is also a surprisingly thoughtful and political plot.


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The Fly (1986)

The Fly
Director: David Cronenberg
Writer: David Cronenberg, Charles Edward Pogue
Based on: George Langelaan‘s short story
Cast: Jeff Goldblum, Geena Davis, John Getz

Seth Brundle (Jeff Goldblum) is a scientist working on a super-secret project with which he would like to impress journalist Veronica Quaife (Geena Davis). At first she is skeptical but when he actually beams her stocking across the room, she believes him and they start working together – she is documenting his progress and process, he is fueled by her attention. But then Seth takes on a little too much and transports himself. That experiment goes very wrong since a fly got into the pod with him and now their DNA is mixed up and Seth starts to transform.

The Fly was awesome, its classic status fully justified. The cast is excellent, the make-up and effects are pretty great and the story is cool. I was transfixed from beginning to end.



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Veneno para las hadas [Poison for the Fairies] (1984)

Veneno para las hadas
Director: Carlos Enrique Taboada
Writer: Carlos Enrique Taboada
Cast: Ana Patricia Rojo, Elsa María Gutiérrez, Leonor Llausás

Flavia (Elsa María Gutiérrez) and her family just moved to a new house. In her new school, Flavia makes friends with Verónica (Ana Patricia Rojo) who is a little weird and socially not very well integrated. Verónica is jealous of Flavia who comes from a rich and loving family, while she herself is an orphan living with her disabled grandmother. Since Verónica would like to be a witch, she uses that to convince Flavia of that. Flavia believes and subsequently becomes entirely dependent on Verónica who wields that power over her.

Veneno para las hadas was awesome. The natural progression of the story, the way it is set in scene and the ending – I really loved it.

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Sien nui yau wan [A Chinese Ghost Story] (1987)

Sien nui yau wan
Director: Siu-Tung Ching
Writer: Gai Chi Yuen
Based on: Songling Pu‘s story Liaozhai Zhiyi
Cast: Leslie Cheung, Joey Wang, Ma Wu, Wai Lam, Siu-Ming Lau
[/slash colleague cornholio1980 reviewed it here.]

Ling Choi San (Leslie Cheung) is a dutiful, timid tax collector. When he has to travel to a small village to do his job, nobody really wants to put up with him. Since he depended on the collection to have money for his trip back, he ends up spending the night at the haunted Lan Ro Temple. There he finds Lip Siu Sin (Joey Wang), a beautiful yet mysterious young woman and Yin Chek Hsia (Ma Wu), a taoist priest who is battling the evil that is lurking in the temple – and to which Lip is intricately connected.

I expected something quite different from A Chinese Ghost Story than the film I got. I was thinking along the lines of Hero (and the first few minutes seemed to prove that expectation), what we got was closer to Kung Fu Hustle. It took me a second to readjust, but I was very willing to go on that fun ride instead. And I really enjoyed it.

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Wolf Creek (2005)

Wolf Creek
Director: Greg Mclean
Writer: Greg Mclean
Cast: Nathan Phillips, Cassandra Magrath, Kestie Morassi, John Jarratt
[/slash colleagues cornholio1980 reviewed it here and Maynard Morrissey here.]

Liz (Cassandra Magrath), Kristy (Kestie Morassi) and Ben (Nathan Phillips) are carpooling together – Liz and Kristy are tramping through Australia while Ben just wants to get back to Sidney to his girlfriend. They have a long drive ahead and only a few sights they want to stop at. One of those sights is Wolf Creek – a meteorite crater in the middle of nowhere. Unfortunately it is right there that their car breaks down. They are lucky though – or so it seems at first – when Mick (John Jarratt) picks them up and promises he can fix their car. But a night in a dead car in the outback is nothing compared to what’s in store for them.

Wolf Creek was ok. The acting was decent, the set-up nice but then I got a little bored by all the gore and torture (what a horrible sentence to write). It all got a little too much for my willingness to suspend my disbelief or to be interested at all.


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4: Rise of the Silver Surfer (2007)

4: Rise of the Silver Surfer
Director: Tim Story
Writer: Mark FrostDon Payne
Based on: Stan Lee and Jack Kirby‘s comics
Sequel to: Fantastic Four
Cast: Ioan GruffuddJessica AlbaChris EvansMichael ChiklisJulian McMahon, Kerry WashingtonAndre BraugherLaurence Fishburne, Doug Jones, Stan Lee

Reed (Ioan Gruffud) and Sue (Jessica Alba) are about to get married. But being a superhero couple makes having an undisturbed wedding rather difficult, especially since a series of global disturbances just caught Reed’s attention. But when a mysterious silver surfer crashes their wedding and causes a lot of destruction in New York, they realize that the disturbances are not actually limited to Earth itself.

I was talking with Arysuh about never having seen this film or the one before and that culminated in me watching and livetweeting both films while drinking vodka. You can read the entire thing after the jump, in lieu of a proper review. For a short summary know this: 4: Rise of the Silver Surfer is abysmal. Not even alcohol makes it funny and I was cringing throughout most of the film. It’s sexist and boring. If you value your sanity, stay away.


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Fantastic Four (2005)

Fantastic Four
Director: Tim Story
Writer: Mark Frost, Michael France
Based on: Stan Lee and Jack Kirby‘s comics
Cast: Ioan GruffuddJessica AlbaChris EvansMichael ChiklisJulian McMahonHamish LinklaterKerry WashingtonLaurie HoldenStan Lee

Reed Richards (Ioan Gruffudd) and his partner Ben Grimm (Michael Chilkis) have been studying cosmic clouds but their funds have run out, just before such a cloud passes the earth. So they go to Victor von Doom (Julian McMahon), an old and very successful colleague of Reed’s. He decides to support their research and together the three of them, Sue Storm (Jessica Alba) and her brother Johnny (Chris Evans) head into space to look at the cloud up close. But then things go wrong and when they finally make it back to earth, they are changed forever.

I was talking with Arysuh about never having seen this film or the sequel and that culminated in me watching and livetweeting both films while drinking vodka. You can read the entire thing after the jump, in lieu of a proper review. For a short summary know this: Fantastic Four is not a particularly good movie, but it is sufficiently entertaining. Watch it with friends and/or with alcohol, and you’re going to have a good time. Just don’t really expect anything much from the script, the actors, the story, the director, … At least you can expect to see Chris Evans topless and Jessica Alba’s boobs a lot.


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