Sunday, January 16, 2011

Bonus CineFiles: Pretty maids, tween economists and French face-eaters!

Posted By on Sun, Jan 16, 2011 at 7:18 AM

Most weeks, I review more DVDs than the Indy can fit into print. You can look for extra write-ups here, on the IndyBlog.

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PRETTY MAIDS ALL IN A ROW (Rated R)
Warner Archive

1971's Pretty Maids All in a Row is one of those studio-destroying, career-killing disasterpieces that no studio would have the cojones to make today. Think about it: a sex comedy/murder mystery written by Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry, directed by Euro-trash superstar Roger Vadim and starring, as a hyper-sexual Lothario high school coach, Rock Hudson. Its release is a cinematic dream come true for cult-film completists. Filled with misbegotten free-love hippie sentiment and questionable moral ambiguity, it's obvious that Vadim, who had already become something of a sexual revolution superstar with French-backed hits like Barbarella and And God Created Woman, was being poised as a classier, more art-house-accessible Russ Meyer. And, like when 20th Century Fox attempted to tame Meyer's leering urges with Beyond the Valley of the Dolls, the result is a legendary — for all the wrong reasons — movie that can finally be gawked in the privacy of your own living room.

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WALL STREET: MONEY NEVER SLEEPS (PG-13)(Blu-Ray)
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

My main problem with Oliver Stone's belated sequel to Wall Street, subtitled Money Never Sleeps, is the same problem I had with another film from last year, Inception: I just can't buy these freshly-scrubbed tweens running around in daddy's shoes, pretending to be something they're not — namely, successful adults. In this case, it's the pubescent Shia LaBeouf, who I am supposed to believe is a mega-successful Wall Street insider, yet can't even manage to realistically grow facial hair. Even worse, it's downright cruel to pit the former Disney-kinder against a screen titan like Michael Douglas, slithering masterfully back into his role as the reptilian Gordon Gekko. Sadly, Douglas' screen-time is sorely limited, forcing him to become a guest star in his own story; most of the focus is on the inanities of LaBeouf as he struggles with the pseudo-realities of our post-Obama economic breakdown. Stone could've had a great, revelatory time sticking Gekko in this era, but, instead, we just get a darker episode of Even Stevens.


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THE HORDE (Not Rated)
IFC Films

The most exciting thing about watching foreign horror movies — especially when they take on preconceived American notions of what we consider scary — is finding out how they the filmmakers will transform it and reshape it into something that reflects their own cultures, storytelling styles and filmmaking flair. (Look at movies like 28 Days Later or Shaun of the Dead.) With that much freedom at your disposal, why try to be like everyone else and copy the worst of straight-to-DVD American zombie fare? That's what the immensely disappointing French horror film The Horde does. It's basically a retread of every living-dead movie you've seen in the past few decades: A group of unlikable people are trapped in an enclosed area while all hell breaks loose around them. But even that would be forgivable if the directors, Yannick Dahan and Benjamin Rocher, had the talent to actually put their own spin on it; instead, they just visually copy, complete with that annoying “shaky-cam” nonsense, everything from the aforementioned 28 Days Later to the remake of Dawn of the Dead. Unless you've never seen a zombie film, this is one that's best left buried.

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