Proudly Presenting:

Commentarium.

(Applause)

Jonas and I have been talking about launching a movie and TV review everything site for ages now, and here it is. You want reviews? We got them. You want podcasts? We got will have them. You want guest blogs? Analysis? Lists? We got all of that. Or will have, in due time. Be patient, the site’s just launched. For now enjoy my article on Twilight: New Moon.

What?

No, sorry. We haven’t got gummibears. Maybe on the next site.

Back in Black

Black DynamiteBlaxploitation is back. And this time it is back to stay.

Okay, maybe not, considering that Black Dynamite, as seen by us last Saturday at the Fantasy Filmfest in Frankfurt, is more of a blaxploitation spoof than a pureblooded representative of the genre. Also I doubt that many can achieve the level of brilliance that Scott Sanders, Michael Jai White and Byron Minns have created.

I’ll spare you a lengthy retelling of our previous experiences with blaxploitation, both spoof and the real thing, and ask you to just believe me when I say that not long ago I would have sworn on my cat’s immortal soul that me and the blaxploitation genre just don’t mix well. (It’s a different story for Jonas, of course; he adores it.)

Anyway, Black Dynamite swept me off my feet and left me feeling vaguely bereft at the thought that no sequel is in sight.

Can you dig it? Yeah, I can.

So go and watch Black Dynamite. Enjoy.

Beer-Flavoured Soft Serve

gf

Appearances may be deceiving, and so this is not a post about some extremely disgusting Bavarian recipe that I want to share with you. Also Wasting Away is not a bad movie.

(Mhm… maybe there’s money in this one. I bet beer-flavoured ice cream would be the thing in Bavaria. Need to think on that.)

Anyway. I had the opportunity to see Wasting Away last Monday at the Fantasy Film Fest. The festival, which I have been attending for ten odd years now, has in the past never ceased to amaze me, both with the quality of the movies that it shows, as well as with the incredible badness of other movies that it shows. It has become something of an artform for festival attendees to sort through the newspeak yuck in the program and find the few movies that are worth watching. In recent years it has always been a bit of a hit and miss scenario for me, but this year I seem to have finally managed to get the knack. Black Dynamite, Push, District 9, Wasting Away and Moon all have been excellent movies. (And then there was Trick ‘r Treat, which just goes to show that they can’t all be winners.)

So… about Wasting Away: I didn’t have very high hopes for this one. The movie seems to have left almost no traces on the web, and as previously mentioned the festival program cannot be trusted under any circumstances to provide accurate descriptions of the movies on offer. Tapping in the dark and willing to risk seeing a bad movie for the good of mankind I bought a ticket.

And I was not disappointed. Wasting Away is a clever zombie comedy with superb writing. The actors, most of them totally unknown to me hitherto, are brilliantly cast and manage to imbue their characters with dignity despite the funny nature of the movie. Especially Colby French as janitor-turned-super-soldier Nick Steele is a delight to watch. But I could praise every single one of the protagonists in the same manner. The cinematography is wonderful in an unassuming kind of way and I love the use of black and white versus colour images.

Wasting Away starts out a little slow, but after five or six minutes of introduction, all shot in black and white, we meet our four principal protagonists and the beer-flavoured soft serve from the headline. The soft serve is squeaky green and infested with the zombie drug, but the protagonists are sure it’s just a trick of the light. And after that the fun starts in earnest. From here on the movie is divided into black and white scenes that show us the world from the bland point of view of those not infected with the zombie mutagen, and in bright crisp colour to enlighten us as to how a zombie sees the world. I’m sure there is some very deep philosophical interpretation to this, but I am too tired to think of it right now. And when self-declared super-soldier Nick Steele hits the scene, all bets are off and the movie transcends the boundaries of the good far into the divine.

All I can say to sum this up is that the movie is a little jewel that deserves more attention. Worldwide release in major cinemas. Sequels. Tie-in novels. Beer-flavoured Happy Meal promotions. Anything. Anything to give the world the wonderful gift of zombie vision.

Harry Potter and the Half-Baked Plot

As some of you may know and others not, I have co-written two traditional Christmas pantomimes in recent years, and writing another one always seemed like a good idea. One of the subjects that caught my interest was the Harry Potter series, so I was recently rather dismayed to find out that David Yates had beat me to it.

Let’s rewind and see how it came to this tragic discovery:

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Yes. Anyway. Since it has been a couple of days since I watched Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, I decided to rewatch the trailers (all eleventy billion of them) in order to prepare for my very first blog post.

The results were staggering. The images, the music, the dynamic camera moves, the stunning pace: it all transported me back in time. Back, not to 2005, when I read and greatly enjoyed the book, but to 2001.

Mhm… some of you may think. 2001. That’s odd. Why 2001?

Planet of the Apes, that’s why.

The images were great. The music was stunning. The pace was riveting. And back then I still had some respect for Mark Wahlberg. (Yes, I liked M. Night Shyamalan’s The Happening a lot. And Mark Wahlberg was good in it. But some sins can’t be forgiven. Shooter, for example.) Analytically speaking the only difference is that with Harry Potter and the Half-Baked Plot I knew that the movie would be shite a pile of excrement ten miles high.

How did I know this?

Well, that it was directed by the same person who did Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix was a dead giveaway.

What he did to the sixth Harry Potter film was nothing short of dooming the series to a slow and painful death. Sure, all the upcoming movies will make mountains of money and the critics will praise them over the moon, but ever since Yates took over the helm, plot elements that will be crucial to the culmination of the series have been cut, rewritten and generally shat on in a way that pretty much makes the story unsalvagable.

That having been said let’s focus on the main event of the evening, Harry Potter and the Hard-Boiled Persimmon.

The beginning of the movie had been praised much, mostly by bloated movie critics who are more likely to judge a movie by its projected ticket sales than by its actual merit. Still, I expected the opening sequence to be stunning, and it was. The only thing that wasn’t quite expected was that the magic would only last thirty seconds. But it’s an imperfect world, I guess.

I was also rather surprised that the abduction of Mr. Ollivander was featured in the movie, seeing that it isn’t in the book. Yes, I understand the concept of poetic license, and it’s a good one, in theory, but it was interesting to see the poor man abducted, his shop smashed to smithereens, dozens of witnesses around and for the rest of the movie no one seems to care.

At about seventeen hours into the movie the unforgettable Lavender Brown makes her entrance. Please note that I use ‘unforgettable’ in this context as a negative term. She doesn’t have the pigtails, she doesn’t have the freckles, the writing is far too bad and she doesn’t turn to the camera to say ‘Hello boys and girls’, but for all other intents and purposes Lavender appears to have escaped from an asylum for unbelievable panto characters. I shall make a point of finding said institution (I suspect it to be near the Leavesden Film Studios where Harry Potter and the Hollow Brick Penguin was filmed) and donating some money to hire more guards. Or maybe buy an extra layer of barbed wire for the fence.  Just to be on the safe side. It is bad enough that David Yates will be directing the next two movies – nothing I can do about that – but I’d rather not take any more chances.

There are, however, some things that I have to admire about the movie. The marketing, for example. Turning Harry Potter and the Hobo Bear Practitioner into a crossover with the other hugely successful film franchise of the 2000’s, namely Batman The Lord of the Rings, was a daring and visionary move. Having Gollum appear in a multiple cameo part as Inferi 1 – 217 was something Hitchcock would’ve been proud of, or Kubrick, or Woody Allen, back when he was good. Stunning. David Yates, I salute you.

Finally, I shall also take a few seconds to congratulate Steve Kloves for finally getting rid of his image as a good screenwriter. Having written movies such as the first four movies in the Harry Potter series, the wonderful Wonder Boys and the equally fabulous  Fabulous Baker Boys, his longtime fans as well as key figures in the industry felt that it was high time for a new direction in his writing: straight down. His stunning new style is maybe best showcased in the antepenultimate scene of the movie (it might also have been the penultimate scene, I just thought I’d show off my vocabulary… neat, eh?). To have Snape simply and boringly explain that he is the Half-Blood Prince really gets rid of a lot of inconvenient plot and dialogue in one fell swoop. I and all my friends who are admirers of the series weren’t in the least disappointed. Congrats, Steve.

There is other stuff that I feel the need to lament in great detail, but I’m running out of sarcasm. Still, it would have been nice to hear a word or two about the elder wand, or about the Ministry of Magic and the current political climate in the wizarding world, or maybe to catch a glimpse of Dobby. But maybe I’m just daydreaming of a place were fantasy movies are still good.

Nice thought, though.