Category — International co-production
Fist of the North Star (1995) director Tony Randel is an interesting figure – a Roger Corman disciple who specializes in delivering intriguing special effects on the cheap, he somehow found his way into directing Hellraiser II (1988) – a guilty pleasure packed with high-value/low-cost spectacle – and somehow also found his way into directing this low-budget adaptation of the popular manga. And while it’s by no means a good movie, FOTNS is an interesting relic from a year when Japanese film company TOEI was promoting itself with a rash of B-movies aimed at American home video – films which include 1995’s No Way Back (starring a young Russell Crowe) and 1995’s Crying Freeman (directed by Brotherhood of the Wolf director Christophe Gans). It’s an otherwise awful flick which pairs an anti-charismatic unknown (Gary Daniels) with an overabundance of hammy actors (Malcolm McDowell, Chris Penn and Clint Howard), but this is a fun scene, enhanced by clever prosthetics and laughable kung-fu. And of course it fits snugly into our exploding head series. Enjoy – and please resist seeking out the full feature – unless you’re a ciné-masochist.
May 9, 2012 4 Comments
We’re gearing up for Halloween with one (pun intended) hell of a movie! I’ve always loved the literature of Clive Barker – dark, fantastical and vastly underrated, he’s like an inter-dimensional H.P. Lovecraft. As a director, Hellraiser (1987) is by far Barker’s best attempt at bringing his vision to the screen (Bernard Rose‘s Candyman ranks high as well) – and right from the opening it succeeds in capturing some of the strangeness that permeates his written work. And though by now the franchise has been watered down beyond recognition (with 11 films and counting), it’s well worth looking back at the first appearance of the legendary box which opens a portal to pleasure and pain – and of course the adorable Cenobites that inhabit that world – to ease us into the witching season.
October 24, 2011 No Comments
There are many fine performances in Luc Besson’s unhinged tale of a hit man with a heart of gold. Jean Reno strikes a perfect balance of nonchalant brutality and childlike vulnerability as the film’s titular “cleaner” and Natalie Portman pretty much set a bar for performances from child actors that wouldn’t be cracked until Lena Leandersson wreaked bloody havoc across the screen in Let The Right One In. However, it is Gary Oldman’s role as corrupt DEA agent Stansfield that really made the movie shine. Popping pills and rocking out to Beethoven, Oldman redefined drug-feuled scenery chewing in a manner that would make Dennis Hopper uncomfortable. While it is true that every time he stepped in front of the camera Oldman delivered a display of unhinged genius, it was the kill-crazy rampage he brought down on Matilda’s family that was his master stroke. Besson’s camera seems to be fleeing from his psychotic death march as he jerkily blasts his way through the hallways of a cramped NYC tenement building, raining buckshot and classical music upon all who stand in his way. Of particular note is the highly realistic looking shotgunning of the woman in the bathtub, which stands as a testament to the fact that, when he is not disappearing up his own ass, Besson is one of the best action directors in the business.
July 28, 2011 No Comments
OST = Original Soundtrack
Been working on this mega-post for months now, listening to hundreds of Soundtracks, spending money on downloads from Amazon, iTunes, and even ACTUAL PHYSICAL CDs! But it’s been worth it. Here are some self-imposed rules I came up with along the way:
1. Music must be original and performed for the soundtrack – no recycled rock songs, adapted Broadway musicals, Concert movies, or glorified mixtapes.
2. One score per scorer – each score measured against the other. Some composers will not be represented despite a vast body of work. I’m sorry if you’re upset. It’s movie against movie.
3. Bass clarinets, Moogs, Theremins and etheral wordless choruses earn extra points. Heavy dialogue within scores is deeply frowned upon.
Here we go…
I have not seen this film directed by Miranda July, but the soundtrack by Michael Andrews – who also did the Donnie Darko score – features a haunting electronic score. Check this track from the CD out:
Roger Vadim’s space fantasy features whacked out songs reminiscent of Ennio Morricone’s Danger: Diabolik (and dozens of other 60’s scores), but between the crooning there’s sci-fi noodling that helps make the entire affair a rewarding listen. Here’s the title track from the Soundtrack, which grows on you like a space virus:
Carol Reed’s engrossing tale of espionage features not only a knockout performance by Orson Welles but also an improbable score featuring Zither which lightens up the whole affair. If there weren’t so much dialogue on this soundtrack it’d be closer to the top of the list. Here’s an example:
Katsuhiro Ôtomo’s epic (the comic book is even more intense) revolutionized big-screen Anime. The eclectic soundtrack, fueled by aggressive percussion and futuristic sci-fi soundscapes, helped tremendously. Here’s the opening track, “Kaneda”:
I’m not a fan of Ruggero Deodato’s film. The score, however, is super cool – you’d never suspect it was the soundtrack to a gory cannibal snuff film:
Otto Preminger scored a coup when he got the greatest bandleader of all time to compose music for this crime caper, and even contribute some nifty piano:
John Cassavetes’ gritty action film starring wife Gena Rowlands gets a fantastic soundtrack courtesy of Rocky composer Bill Conti. Listen to this track, called “Aftermath,” which resembles Halloween – but with a lil’ spanish guitar thrown in:
I don’t know much about this German film directed by Bettina Oberli, but I do know the atmospheric score was penned by the same guy who scored the fabulous Let the Right One In. Here’s the main theme:
I’ve only seen bits and pieces of Shuji Terayama’s surreal masterpiece, but I’ve listened to the soundtrack at least a hundred times. It’s a challenging experience but a rewarding one, with tons of dramatic spoken word (in Japanese) separated by interesting instrumentation and children’s voices. Here’s the opening track:
Everything I know about Bollywood I learned from the excellent blog Music from the Third Floor, where I’ve experience tons of soundtracks, many by the master, Rahul Dev Burman. His score to Ravi Chopra’s epic action film is my favorite, with its processed voices, electronic fireworks, aggressive beat, and overall WTF?ness.
The Title track:
The beautiful “Vaada… Haan Vaada,” which happens to be my ringtone.
10 down, 140 to go!!! No turning back now! Check in next week for part 2! And leave a comment letting me know your favorite soundtrack!
Click to see part 1 (OST’s #141-150) , part 2 (131-140), part 3 (121-130), part 4 (111-120), part 5 (101-110), part 6 (91-100), part 7 (81-90), part 8 (71-80), part 9 (61-70), part 10 (51-60), part 11 (41-50), part 12 (31-40), part 13 (21-30), part 14 (11-20) and part 15 (1-10).
August 30, 2010 3 Comments