Posted in: 2000 Eyes, by Sean Axmaker, Film Reviews

2000 Eyes: Cecil B. Demented

[Originally written for Seattle Post-Intelligencer]

The revolution will not be televised, but if John Waters has his way it may play at a theater near you.

A spoof of independent filmmaking at its most absurdly radical (and contradictory) fringe, Cecil B. Demented affectionately lampoons both Hollywood and guerrilla cinema in a bizarre revision of the Patty Hearst story. Shrill, bitchy Hollywood screen queen Honey Whitlock (Melanie Griffith, whose kewpie doll voice and aging baby face are right at home) is kidnapped by shaggy bottle-blonde would-be auteur Cecil (Stephen Dorff) and his slogan-spouting crew of cinema outlaws “The Sprocket Holes,” a combination guerrilla cell, filmmaking collective, and cinema cult.

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Posted in: by Sean Axmaker, streaming, What to Stream

What to stream: ‘Lovecraft Country’ on HBO, ‘High Score’ on Netflix, ‘Chemical Hearts’ on Amazon Prime

Here’s what’s new and ready to stream now on Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, HBO Now, video-on-demand, and other streaming services …  

Lovecraft Country” (TV-MA) takes on both the cosmic horror and the blatant racism of H.P Lovecraft’s stories with the odyssey of an African-American man (Jonathan Majors) searching for his missing father (Michael Kenneth Williams) in 1950s America. He and his travelling companions (Courtney B. Vance and Jurnee Smollett) face both fantastical creatures and very human bigotry. Creator Misha Green, who also made the provocative but short-lived “Underground,” adapts the novel by Matt Ruff and J.J. Abrams and Jordan Peele are among the producers. New episodes Sunday nights. (All HBO platforms)

Continue reading at Stream On Demand

Posted in: 2000 Eyes, by Bruce Reid, Film Reviews

2000 Eyes: West Beirut

[Written for The Stranger]

There is a special category of war film that chooses not to merely restate the obvious lesson that war is a nightmare, but instead tries to capture the joy and riotous freedom that conflict can bring about, and trusts the audience to supply the rest of the story. This is the anarchy that John Boorman celebrated in Hope and Glory — the world turned upside down with children running gleefully through the rubble — and it motivates West Beirut as well. An autobiographical first feature by cameraman Ziad Doueiri, West Beirut collapses almost a decade of Lebanon’s brutal civil war into what, through the eyes of his youthful protagonists, seems like one delirious summer.

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Posted in: 2000 Eyes, by Richard T. Jameson, Film Reviews

2000 Eyes: Vatel

[Written for Mr. Showbiz]

The 53rd Cannes Film Festival opened with a gala extravaganza whose selection struck many as prodigiously ironic — especially if they caught the flick at a morning press show, when Tom Stoppard’s high-flying dialogue and Ennio Morricone’s once-upon-a-time-in-the-17th-century music had to fight the noise from the drills and hammers readying the Palais for the postfilm Louis XIV–style blowout that evening. Here was a jaw-droppingly lavish movie about the jaw-droppingly lavish steps taken to keep “the Sun King” adequately wined, dined, and entertained over a three-day visit, late in April of 1671, to a country château whose owner, the Prince de Condé, couldn’t even afford to pay the local merchants. Moreover, it was the English-language film rendering of one of French history’s most peculiar episodes, with France’s premier incarnator of French national heroes, former bad boy Gérard Depardieu, gamely trading mots anglais with the likes of Uma Thurman, Tim Roth, and Timothy Spall. And if you’ve got room for one more dislocation, consider that Roland Joffé, the director honored with this opening-night selection, whiled away the ’90s cooking such turkeys as City of Joy, The Scarlet Letter, and the never-released Goodbye Lover.

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Posted in: 2000 Eyes, by Tom Keogh, Film Reviews

2000 Eyes: Snatch

[Written for]

Guy Ritchie’s sophomore feature makes no apologies for clinging to familiar if engagingly iconoclastic material, specifically to Ritchie’s own popular crime comedy from 1999, Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels.

Refreshingly funny, Lock, Stock introduced a new filmmaker whose incoherent visual aesthetic seemed, at the time, a petty misdemeanor in light of his gift for creating an entire class of characters—ne’er-do-wells on the fringe of the underworld, as well as the hardened professionals stung by them—out of wholecloth.

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Posted in: 2000 Eyes, by Robert Horton, Film Reviews

2000 Eyes: Shadow Hours

[Written for]

I recently had the pleasure of catching up with Terror is a Man, aka Blood Creature, a 1959 film that might be called—in fact, let’s do it—the Citizen Kane of Filipino horror movies. Essentially a variation on (read: uncredited rip-off of) The Island of Dr. Moreau, Terror is a Man is an atmospheric little shocker that partakes of the usual violence level of a movie of its era.

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Posted in: by Robert Horton, Film Reviews, The Seasoned Ticket

The Seasoned Ticket: Jazz on a Summer’s Day

The restoration of the classic concert film Jazz on a Summer’s Day is now making the rounds, and it can be watched in a way that will benefit a movie theater of your choice. The Grand Illusion, for instance.

If you’re into jazz as a subject—fiction films, concerts, documentary profiles—Scarecrow has more titles than you could watch in the course of a long weekend in Newport. Check out the selection and rent accordingly. In the meantime, a review of the film.

Continue reading at the Scarecrow Video blog

Posted in: 2000 Eyes, by Richard T. Jameson, Film Reviews

2000 Eyes: The Widow of Saint-Pierre

[Written for The Stranger]

In 1849, on Saint-Pierre, a French-ruled island off the Newfoundland coast, two sailors rescued from the thickest winter fog in memory celebrate their deliverance by getting drunk and killing a man as a kind of stupid prank. One is sentenced to die; the other isn’t but dies anyway through a stroke of dumb luck. The survivor, Neel Auguste, has to be kept alive through the following spring because, unlike in the old days, the authorities can’t just shoot him or hang him. The law demands death by guillotine — “the widow” — and the nearest one is far to the south, in Martinique.

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Posted in: 2000 Eyes, by Sean Axmaker, Film Reviews

2000 Eyes: Shanghai Noon

[Written for Seattle Post-Intelligencer]

Stop me if you’ve heard this before. A Chinese guy wearing Indian war paint, a braided waist-length ponytail, and a blue silk robe walks into an Old West saloon … and it’s Jackie Chan! Trust me, it’s funny. Cowboys snicker, barmaids stand agog, and human dynamo Jackie transforms a simple barfight into a night at the Chinese Opera.

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Posted in: 2000 Eyes, by Robert Horton, Film Reviews

2000 Eyes: What Lies Beneath

[Written for]

Many of Robert Zemeckis’s films derive their energy from a technical challenge: how to combine real people with cartoons (Who Framed Roger Rabbit), how to reconfigure human bodies (Death Becomes Her), how to depict an alien world (Contact), how to make a fictional hero interact with news footage (Forrest Gump), how to put the same actor in the frame twice (Back to the Future Part II, an authentic piece of American weirdness and a movie that deserves better than to be lost in the middle of a popcorn trilogy).

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