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To Live and Die in LA holdup William Friedkin, William Petersen, Willem Dafoe, John Pankow, Michael Greene, Debra Feuer, John Turturro, Darlanne Fluegel, Dean Stockwell, Robert Downey, Sr., Steve James

To Live and Die in LA: when his partner is murdered by a counterfeiter a rabid secret serviceman will do anything to avenge him. All the classic cop tropes are in here: the three days left on the job veteran, mismatched and reluctant partners, etc etc. However, instead of the one-dimensional ‘good cop bad cop’, we get two complex and grey characters going through a moral minefield. For relatively unknown actors (at the time), the performances across the board are rock solid, particularly young Willem Dafoe’s slimy and menacing ultra-villain. The star for me is Friedkin; his direction here is outstanding and the opening 15 minutes or so has some bold editing, imagery, and musical choices – almost giving the film a bona fide arthouse vibe, and really putting the viewer on the back foot. Everything from an intense crazy car chase (wrong way through traffic) through to nail-biting tension (a split screen break-in) is handled superbly. The plot is the only thing that lets the film down a bit; it’s a simple revenge story that becomes unnecessarily convoluted through lots of tertiary characters and tangents. That being said, the film is always interesting and memorable – with the anti-hero cops on the edge, and characters on the fringes of society in out-of-the-ordinary situations (jail, strip club, dance troupe…) Depending on your tolerance, this film may be ‘too 1980s’ to handle: the fashion, dominating synths, neon title cards, and homo-eroticism that didn’t  quite make it to the 90s. I feel sorry for William Friedkin: after two major successes (The Excorcist and French Connection) critics have been queuing up to stick the boot in to everything he’s done since. For my money he’s one of the most rock-solid film-makers, and one of the few that uses the medium to really get in your head – his framing, soundscape, editing, imagery, and commitment to shocks and disruption are awe-inspiring. To Live and Die in LA is an 80s cop film that stands the test of time because of the talent involved – not for the faint-hearted though.

Score: 8/10

To live and Die in LA Burning Painting Fire William Friedkin, William Petersen, Willem Dafoe, John Pankow, Michael Greene, Debra Feuer, John Turturro, Darlanne Fluegel, Dean Stockwell, Robert Downey, Sr., Steve JamesTo Live and Die in LA Window Shatter William Friedkin, William Petersen, Willem Dafoe, John Pankow, Michael Greene, Debra Feuer, John Turturro, Darlanne Fluegel, Dean Stockwell, Robert Downey, Sr., Steve JamesTo Live and Die in LA Facepaint Dancer William Friedkin, William Petersen, Willem Dafoe, John Pankow, Michael Greene, Debra Feuer, John Turturro, Darlanne Fluegel, Dean Stockwell, Robert Downey, Sr., Steve James

 

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The Heat Sandra Bullock, Melissa McCarthy, Demián Bichir, Marlon Wayans, Michael Rapaport, Jane Curtin, Dan Bakkedahl, Taran Killam, Michael McDonald, Spoken Reasons, Tom Wilson, Tony Hale

The Heat: a talented but unlikable by-the-book FBI agent is paired with an unorthodox-but-gets-results detective. It’s one film where FBI could mean ‘Female Body Inspector’ like those awesome t-shirts you see guys wearing on holiday (aside: they’re not awesome). Bullock is clearly going through an “I work hard on this body, so will show it off as much as possible” phase… no complaints over here. Joke-wise, it’s got a few good laughs, but unlike Bridesmaids original script the funnies here are much lazier; with Boston stereotypes, racism, vulgarity, and albinos doing all the work. The elongated drunken montage / gratuitous dance scene underlines that this is definitely more humor than humour. At two hours the film outstays its welcome a little; every scene (and joke) feels stretched out to the max, and it feels like there was a lot of ad-libbing that nobody was allowed to cut out. Other than the central pairing being two wimin’, there’s not much here that we haven’t all seen before. The Heat started off quite strongly, but soon went down the well-worn ‘mismatched buddy cop’ path: but you expected something different – or better – given the caliber involved.

Score: 4/10

Everly Tommy Gun Joe Lynch Salma Hayek, Akie Kotabe, Laura Cepeda, Jennifer Blanc, Togo Igawa, Gabriella Wright, Caroline Chikezie, Hiroyuki Watanabe, Jelena Gavrilović, Masashi Fujimoto, Dragana Atlija

Everly: after four years as a Yakuza sex slave Everly wants to be back with her family – and she’s willing to kill anyone that stands in her way. Welcome to Titty City: population 2, Salma’s girls. This film is ‘bootay central’ as Salma jogs around in silk nightgowns, low cuts, yoga pants… and the sprinklers even come on to give us a sexy wet-look finale! (classic move). She gets shot, burned, stabbed, tased, tied, tortured… but never looks less than fantastic. Being set in a brothel there’s also a long line of leggy babes dressed like all the fantasies! Not content with misrepresenting just women, this throws every Japanese stereotype you can think of in the mix: intelligent Asian man full of wise “my uncle once told me” proverbs; full theatre costumes with geta shoes; samurai sword / sai dagger wielding yakuzas; sprawling back tattoos, etc etc. On the upside, the film is very well made – looking as good as most big-budget pictures – and the SFX team does some great work with buckets of blood, severed limbs, and loads of new creative ways to kill people. I was rather enjoying it all until a nasty acid torture moment, which seemed to dip briefly into torture-porn territory and haul me out of the film. This type of movie isn’t for everyone, but Everly combines the story elements of an old-school rape-revenge rampage with modern over-the-top ultra-exploitative action; and it does both of those very well. Salma’s acting and director Joe Lynch’s enthusiasm raise this above the shlocky B-movie that it truly is.

Score: 6/10
B-Movie Score: 8/10

Everly Gun Joe Lynch Salma Hayek Akie Kotabe Laura Cepeda Jennifer Blanc Togo Igawa Gabriella Wright Caroline Chikezie Hiroyuki Watanabe Jelena Gavrilović Masashi Fujimoto Dragana AtlijaEverly Muzzle Flash Joe Lynch Salma Hayek, Akie Kotabe, Laura Cepeda, Jennifer Blanc, Togo Igawa, Gabriella Wright, Caroline Chikezie, Hiroyuki Watanabe, Jelena Gavrilović, Masashi Fujimoto, Dragana Atlija

 

Danger 5, Isla, Claire, Jackson, Tucker, Pierre, David Ashby, Natasa Ristic, Sean James Murphy, Amanda Simons, Tilman Vogler, Aldo Mignone, Andreas Sobik, Robert Tompkins, Paul Muscat

Danger 5 (Season 1): a team of Allied super-spies are tasked with stopping Hitler’s various advances in a 1960s interpretation of WWII. With a premise like that, you’d expect the show to be a little bit mental… and it is. The plot lines and characters are insane: it’s a show where a jazz improv band of white-suited apes fighting Nazi dinosaurs & reptiles isn’t just normal, but somehow funny. About half of the major characters have massive animal heads, and nobody seems to speak the same language… but you just roll with it. It has a very unique ‘tapey’ aesthetic, with grain, bad dubbing, Gerry Anderson style miniature sets (locations & action set pieces) and a 60s style surf rock soundtrack – it’s 100% kitsch and kampf. On a comedy level it’s very strong, with good loads of one-off belly laughs, and some cracking running gags like cocktail recipes, Hitler jumping through windows, bad food analogies and bizarre product placement. Although the first few episodes are the strongest the show is consistently funny. Danger 5 is what happens when you draw from a bunch of great TV Shows like Archer, Thunderbirds, The Young Ones (and throw in a pinch of Iron Sky). If you’re after a raunchy, risqué, alternative / subversive comedy packed with b-movie gore, sexy damsels, and – most importantly – laughs by the truckload, look no Führer than this. Pure cult TV that will undoubtedly snowball for years to come.

Score: 9/10

Danger 5, Isla, Claire, Jackson, Tucker, Pierre, David Ashby, Natasa Ristic, Sean James Murphy, Amanda Simons, Tilman Vogler, Aldo Mignone, Andreas Sobik, Robert Tompkins, Paul Muscat,2 Danger 5, Isla, Claire, Jackson, Tucker, Pierre, David Ashby, Natasa Ristic, Sean James Murphy, Amanda Simons, Tilman Vogler, Aldo Mignone, Andreas Sobik, Robert Tompkins, Paul Muscat,3

Episode Titles

I Danced For Hitler

Lizard Soldiers Of The Third Reich

Kill-Men Of The Rising Sun

Hitler’s Golden Murder Palace

Fresh Meat For Hitler’s Sex Kitchen

Final Victory

Danger 5, Isla, Claire, Jackson, Tucker, Pierre, David Ashby, Natasa Ristic, Sean James Murphy, Amanda Simons, Tilman Vogler, Aldo Mignone, Andreas Sobik, Robert Tompkins, Paul Muscat,4

Trance Movie Danny Boyle, James McAvoy, Rosario Dawson, Vincent Cassel, Danny Sapani, Wahab Sheikh, Matt Cross, Tuppence Middleton, Simon KunzTrance: when an art heist goes wrong the only auctioneer who knows where a valuable painting is can’t remember what he did with it. Purposely or not, this is a fragmented mess of a film: it’s hard to know exactly what is past, present, hypnosis, and visions – making it frustrating to follow at times. The twist-o-rama finale in particular is both super-smart and hyper-ridiculous. If it’s one thing though, Trance is visually sumptuous; some parts feel like a technical demo reel – full of impressive techniques, colouring, imagery, and most scenes have some form of reflection / symmetry. Yet, no matter how much Boyle tarts this up, it still manages to feel like a TV drama for the most part; lots of talking, small locations, tight cast etc. There’s also a really, really, strange ‘hairy bush’ Vs ‘shaved pubes’ sub-plot. Trance is part cutting-edge super-styalised directorial flare, and part humdrum, but the shattered timeline and ambiguity of what you’re watching make it very hard to tune in to. I imagine this plays better with a 2nd viewing.

Score: 5.5/10

Trance Movie 02 Danny Boyle, James McAvoy, Rosario Dawson, Vincent Cassel, Danny Sapani, Wahab Sheikh, Matt Cross, Tuppence Middleton, Simon Kunz,

Trance Movie 03 Danny Boyle James McAvoy, Rosario Dawson, Vincent Cassel, Danny Sapani, Wahab Sheikh, Matt Cross, Tuppence Middleton, Simon Kunz,

Standard night out for us Scottish people…

Sweet Karma Japanese Poster Shera Bechard, John Tokatlidis, Frank J. Zupancic, Christian Bako, Laura McLean, Patricia Stasiak, Lana Koseniv, Mark WiebeSweet Karma: when a mute christian girl loses her sister to a generic Eastern European prostitution ring in Toronto there’s only one thing for her to do… find and kill ’em all! So this one’s a Human Trafficking film, but with proper (s)exploitation and revenge elements – a weird, but quite original combo. The low-res, grainy, cheap-looking film don’t help the watchability much, and there’s a couple of grim ‘Baise Moi’ type scenes in there, which are anything but pleasant. The story’s solid enough, and the finale is surprisingly good and tense. I was going to have a slight dig at the acting, but considering the lead is a Playboy Playmate (WTF), and everyone else is unknowns, I’ll give ’em a pass today. When a film’s trailer boasts the line “One of the hottest strip scenes on film”, it tells you all you need to know! Sweet Karma ticks all of the boxes of an old-school revenge film, but with Human Trafficking in there, it pales in comparison to the benchmark that is Lilja-4-Ever.

Score: 3/10

Human Centipede 2 - Martin - Laurence R. Harvey, Maddi Black, Ashlynn Yennie, Kandace Caine, Dominic Borrelli, Lucas Hansen, Lee Nicholas, Dan Burman, Daniel Jude, Georgia Goodrick, Emma Lock, Katherine Templar, Peter Blankenstein

The Human Centipede 2: Full Sequence (Not for the faint hearted): A car park security guard becomes obsessed with his Human Centipede DVD, and sets about creating his own pet with 12 people instead of 3 – and no medical knowledge, or tools… The premise is interesting, very post-modern and ‘meta’. But getting down to business: on a shock/gore/filth level, director Tom Six promised to make the first Human Centipede film look like “My Little Pony” when held up against this – and much to my disbelief, it genuinely does. Unlike the first one, where the horror is all off-screen and in your mind, in THC2 everything is laid out on the table, in glorious HD: torture, mutilation, teeth bashing, skin slicing, stapling, hacking and shitting – it’s hyper-graphic and positively gut-wrenchingly, toe-curlingly, vomit-inducing. The final 30 minute gory climax is absolutely beyond excessive, beyond boundaries, beyond taste, and beyond the thinkable – and that’s with 2mins 30secs of cuts. Gore and controversy aside, there are actually some things to like about this film. The main guy Martin – Laurence R. Harvey’s feature debut – is an outstanding genre-defining bad guy. His bug-eyed physicality is amazing, coming across as a truly deranged, demented, creepy and repulsive person, without saying a single word. Between the killings, kidnappings and gore, the film’s tone and direction are jaw-droppingly arthouse – as opposed to the cliche’d run-of-the-mill horror/B-movie cheapness & lazy non-efforts you’re used to. Filming in black and white make sense given all of the physical SFX – and even gives Tom Six the chance to insert an absolutely ridiculous Schindler’s List joke with dark orange projectile diarrhea. In the end, The Human Centipede 2 it’s made by someone who clearly knows and loves everything about the horror/extreme/torture genre, and most surprisingly, knows how to direct, well. I’ve not seen “A Serbian Film”, nor do I particularly want to – but I would still bet that this is one of the nastiest and most extreme pieces of ‘film’ anyone could legally get their hands on. As with the first one, this is absolutely not for everyone, but if it’s even possible to like the sound of it, or you fancy an endurance test, give it a spin.

Score: 4.5/10
B-Movie: 7/10

Human Centipede 2 - Centipede - Laurence R. Harvey, Maddi Black, Ashlynn Yennie, Kandace Caine, Dominic Borrelli, Lucas Hansen, Lee Nicholas, Dan Burman, Daniel Jude, Georgia Goodrick, Emma Lock, Katherine Templar, Peter Blankenstein

NSFW/TASTELESS/EXPLICIT DETAIL WARNING: According to Wikipedia: the stuff that didn’t make it in to the UK cut “Martin masturbating with sandpaper around his penis; graphic sight of a man’s teeth being removed with a hammer; graphic sight of lips being stapled to naked buttocks; graphic sight of forced defaecation into and around other victims’ mouths; Martin with barbed wire wrapped around his penis violently raping a woman; a newborn baby being killed; and the graphic sight of injury as staples are torn away from individuals’ mouths and buttocks.”

Human Centipede 2 - Tools- Laurence R. Harvey, Maddi Black, Ashlynn Yennie, Kandace Caine, Dominic Borrelli, Lucas Hansen, Lee Nicholas, Dan Burman, Daniel Jude, Georgia Goodrick, Emma Lock, Katherine Templar, Peter Blankenstein