With the exception of reviewing-machine John Jos. Miller, we here at Cheese Magnet are still working to get back on track — which means you get another handful of tiny reviews instead of one big ol’ review. It’s kind of like Fun Size candy bars!
Les Carabiniers — I love Band of Outsiders and Breathless, but haven’t much cared for the other Jean-Luc Godard movies I’ve seen. I’m torn on Les Carabiniers — I enjoyed it quite a bit but it never quite came together for me. The heavy-handedness of the film’s message is alleviated by the dark humor, and Catherine Ribeiro and Genevieve Galea are really easy on the eyes. Seemed almost sloppy and rushed to me, however, and certain scenes went on wayyyy too long (I thought I was gonna need a shot of whiskey to get through the endless postcard sequence). But it’s “vitally important,” so what do I know? Apes: ** Bourbon: ***
Gut Pile — I had read about this movie on the Internet way back in the 20th century and was intrigued by it at the time, but pretty much forgot about it in the years since. Then I stumbled across it on Netflix streaming and figured I’d give it a shot. Produced on a meager budget by Sub Rosa Cinema honcho Ron Bonk (who also acts in the movie), Gut Pile is essentially an ode to Evil Dead — sometimes almost embarrassingly so, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. The flick opens as hunter Dan (Jeffrey Forsyth) accidentally shoots a guy. Flipping out, Dan buries the body and goes on with his life. A year later, Dan and two of his pals head out to their cabin on another hunting trip. As you might imagine, the hapless victim of Dan’s previous outing returns to create some gory havoc. Gut Pile is a lot of fun to watch — the acting ain’t half bad, considering, and the low-rent Raimi-esque camerawork keeps things interesting. The guy who played Bob (Ed Mastin) must’ve been having facial hair issues during the shoot, however — the first time we see him, he’s sporting a beard that looks like somebody glued dog hair to his face. Next time he appears, he’s got a real beard, then the fake one shows up again. Settle back with a few beers and have at it. Apes: * Bourbon: ****
Babylon 5: The Lost Tales (Voices in the Dark) — J. Michael Straczynski returns to the Babylon 5 universe with this direct-to-DVD movie. Voices in the Dark is a solid B5 adventure, although I wish the two stories had been interwoven rather than presented one after another — this approach made the flick feel more like two episodes of the series rather than a cohesive movie. Not a bad thing, mind you, but it felt a little out-of-whack. Bruce Boxleitner and Tracy Scoggins both return, as Scoggins faces what seems to be a case of demonic possession on Babylon 5, and Boxleitner faces a moral dilemma that could mean the end of life on Earth if he makes the wrong choice. If you’re a B5 fan, it’s worth picking up, but if you’ve never seen the series you’ll probably be more than a little lost. Apes: ** Bourbon: **
Blast of Silence — I first heard of Allen Baron’s “lost noir” film in the back pages of Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips’ terrific crime comic, Criminal. While I liked the movie, I have to say, Brubaker oversold it by quite a stretch. Part of the problem is that the flick suffers from not having a better actor in the lead — Baron wrote, directed and stars as hired killer Frankie Bono, and his acting is just a little too shrill and dinner-theater to carry the role. That said, though, I have a ton of respect for Baron and the movie after seeing the behind the scenes feature on the DVD. Baron had very little money to make the flick and originally, his buddy Peter Falk was to play the lead — until he was cast in Murder, Inc., a paying gig he couldn’t turn down. Unable to find an actor who would work for free, Baron stepped in. Definitely worth seeing for the New York street scenes and the guy who plays the chubby, sleazy gun dealer Bono goes to see, but in my opinion, not as good as people are making it out to be. (But can you imagine having Falk lined up to play the lead in your movie and then having to do it yourself? Ee-yowtch). Apes: ** Bourbon: ****
For more funky movie reviews, check out my book Unsafe On Any Screen: