Posted by: s. night screening | January 4, 2013



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Posted by: playingthedevil | October 14, 2012

C Me Dance – Spooktoberfest 2012.2

I can’t remember where I first saw the trailer for C Me Dance, but i was reminded of it while browsing through Netflix’s Faith and Spirituality category. While it is no doubt a Christian message movie, no one, believer or not, would think about faith or spirituality much during or after the movie. If they are like me, they’ll most likely be thinking about The Asylum (who has their own faith film division). If they are smart, they’ll probably skip this movie. But i don’t know, with its cool title spelling (it’s got alphabets and shit instead of spelling words out, just like on those twitexty things!), and the hot movie trend of dancing, it may be appealing to the kids today (it was apparently released in theatres). If the PG-13 St3p Up 2 the Last Dance 3D movies are too risqué and not enough family values for you. c me dance if you want to

Posted by: playingthedevil | October 5, 2012

An American Carol – Spooktoberfest 2012.1

It’s that time of the year again when it is required that if you have a movie blog, you are supposed to write about horror movies during the month of October. As I dread and try to get out of watching horror movies for a month, it led me to think about the horror genre as a whole, and why it remains one of my least favorite genres. Horror movies are supposed to scare you, unsettle you, and bring you out of your comfort zone. And you don’t need supernatural element to get there. There are plenty of depressing, repugnant shit involving human without bringing in any paranormal activities. So this year’s Spooktoberfest (III: not in 3D) will be a little bit different: it will be more about movies that scare me personally rather than the traditional horror movies.

Scary Movie #1 is David Zucker’s An American Carol (2008), a reactionary “comedy” fighting back against those “anti-American” Michael Moore documentaries that were all the rage for a couple of years in the 00s. In addition to “comedy,” I would also use “satire” or “parody.” The key is the quotation marks, not the words. entering real america

Posted by: playingthedevil | September 22, 2012

Seeking Justice

With its derivative poster, generic title, the New Orleans setting, and starring Nicolas Cage, Seeking Justice received a ceremonial theatrical release but was mostly dismissed as another low budget Cage action movie. While Cage’s presence no doubt saved the movie from being direct-to-video, it’s also not quite a mere Taken ripoff/vigilante action movie as most people described. hungry justice jumps

Posted by: playingthedevil | September 7, 2012

The Party’s Over aka The Last Party 2000

Philip Seymour Hoffman (Leap of Faith, State and Main, Mission: Impossible: III, and the upcoming Not Another Scientology Movie) follows the last six months of the 2000 Presidential election in the documentary The Party’s Over aka The Last Party 2000. Like Godzilla 2000, this is kind of a follow-up to an earlier movie, except the monsters in Godzilla movies are obvious. The first movie has Iron Man himself following the Presidential conventions in 1992.

From what I remember (I haven’t seen it since the good old days of the ’90s), the first movie is not only about politics but also Robert Downey Jr. himself. When I saw it, he was probably more interested in unique movies by filmmakers like James Toback, Mike Figgis, Oliver Stone, Robert Altman, Neil Jordan…etc more than the paycheck/franchise/tent pole movies with Disney’s Marvel or Joel Silver. The Party’s Over aka The Last Party 2000 doesn’t follow Hoffman as an actor, but rather an American citizen to be more politically involved. rock the vote

Posted by: playingthedevil | August 30, 2012

bad company (2002)

release date: june 7th, 2002
production budget: $70 million
u.s. gross: $30.16 million
foreign: $35.8 million
as summer comes to an end, an hence the ending of the flops of summer, i was going to pick a notorious f.l.o.p. like jonah hex, catwoman, johnny mnemonic or the island of dr. moureau ’96. but chris rock has a new movie out (2 days in paris 2: 2 days in new york, and madagascar 3 counts as a movie, i guess) and i don’t want to miss out on all the decennial celebration for bad company (2002)‘s tenth anniversary. i couldn’t find anything online but there are festivities celebrating the ten year anniversary of the release of bad company (2002), right?

i also thought it would be interesting to see something that’s on the other end of the spectrum of our last movie, david mamet’s redbelt, which cost ten times less than bad company (2002). it turns out to be a beautiful coincident that this is the antithesis to mamet’s philosophy.

actually, bad company (2002) was supposed to come out during the fall of 2001 but at the time we thought mindless action movies were dead along with irony so this movie didn’t come out until nine months after sept. 11th. it was probably long enough for us to not think about our foreign policies, or air travel, or terrorists, or bombs, or gratuitous action movies, unless you count tony scott’s spy game, donnie darko, behind enemy lines, black hawk down, collateral damage, big trouble 2002, and the sum of all fears. i’m sure they did scientific research and not for financial or coincidental reason that this big budget jerry bruckheimer produced action movie happened to come out during the summer movie season. i don’t know how they find out but no one was thinking about terrorists, weapons of mass destruction or new york nine months after sept. 11.* read more

Posted by: playingthedevil | August 28, 2012


release date: may 2nd, 2008
production budget: $7 million
u.s. gross: $2.3 million
foreign: $0.3 million

looking up randy couture on imdb for his die-hard-on-a-plane dtv movie reminded me that redbelt is the only david mamet movie i haven’t seen. turns out this is not the first time they worked together, couture was in a couple episodes of tv’s the unit created by mamet. mamet has long been a personal favorite, whose batting average is up there with hitchcock. sure, it’s a shame what happened to him but he hasn’t (so far) made a movie based simply on his political views. he’s not making an american carol or adapting altas shrugged…although it would be interesting to have mamet rewriting ayn rand, it’ll be at least three times shorter (one crappy movie instead of three) and there will be more beautifully written profanities. but let’s not give them any ideas. read more

Posted by: playingthedevil | August 24, 2012

the trigger effect

release date: august 30th, 1996
production budget: $8 million
u.s. gross: $3.59 million
foreign: ?

released during labor day weekend in 1996, a weekend traditionally reserved for low budget fares, the trigger effect is writer/director david koepp’s directorial debut. koepp’s name may seem familiar as he is the screenwriter for bad influence, toy soldiers, death becomes her, the paper, and the shadow before this, and later on, panic room, spider-man, zathura, indian jones and shia the beef, angels and demons, and the upcoming jack ryan reboot. he also wrote and directed stir of echoes, ghost town, and this week’s premium rush. pull the trigger

Posted by: playingthedevil | August 19, 2012

hijacked (2012) – die harder-ish 2012.12 (extendables)

with its generic title and released by anchor bay just before the expendables 2 came out, knowledgeable fans of the genre should know to adjust their expectation accordingly even before seeing hijacked (2012). while it does live up (or down) to the expectation of a low budget dtv die-hard-on-a-plane movie, it does offer randy couture a rare starring role. i remember couture, a former ufc fighter, in the expendables and set up/setup with BRUCE. what i didn’t know was that he’s from my neck of the woods, and he also had small parts in diverse projects such as david mamet’s redbelt and tv’s the unit, with rob schneider in rob schneider IS big stan, tv’s king of queens, with steven seagal in today you die, and with jet li in cradle to 2 the grave. like couture himself, hijacked (2012) has a few tricks up its sleeves. now boarding

Posted by: playingthedevil | August 14, 2012

derailed (2002) – die harder-ish 2012.11 (extendables)

released during the beginning of his direct-to-video era, derailed (2002) is sudden-death-on-a-train, or die-hard-on-a-train, or under-siege-on-a-train: dark territory. it’s a passable 80s movie that unfortunately came out in the 00’s. read more

borrowing for the fourth time (previously in crocodile hunter, the last blood aka hard-boiled 2, and city hunter) from the die hard template, wong jing’s meltdown aka high risk sticks closest to its inspiration. the majority of the movie takes place inside a high-rise, instead of just a third act setting. the action hero this time is played by jet li, after his breakup with tsui hark, at the tail end of his most prolific era, but before he went west to hollywood.

of course, wong is not willing to settle for just one formula. he excels at throwing in every popular and commercially successful cultural artifacts on top of the central formula (e.g. gambling + rain man = god of gamblers). it works rather well in this case. released in 1995 (the same summer as di3 hard 3: new york drift), high risk aka meltdown is a cut above the standard martial-artist-in-a-die-hard-situation. read more

Posted by: playingthedevil | August 3, 2012

the peacekeeper (1998) – die harder-ish 2012.9 (extendables)

even though july is technically over, and therefore so should die harder-ish month, we didn’t get to as many movies as i hoped (eight movies this year vs. last year’s twelve). luckily, with the expendables 2 coming out in a couple weeks, i’ve decided to extend the die harder-ish theme. cleverly titled extendables, we’ll spend the first half of august looking at die hard-ish movies starring some of the expendables.

on paper, the peacekeeper seems like a good bet for a die hard-ish movie with dolph lundgren in a nuclear silo trying to prevent a national disaster. while that is more or less an apt description of the movie, the peacekeeper never really reaches that level. the end result is closer to fail safe and the rock than die hard. it hits all the notes during its performance but never quite seem know the song. read more

Posted by: playingthedevil | July 29, 2012

virtual assassin aka cyberjack – die harder-ish 2012.8

this post is made possible by readers like you. specifically, mitch from the video vacuum, who sent us this die hard-ish movie.

and now, our feature presentation. read more

Posted by: playingthedevil | July 24, 2012

3 ninjas: high noon at mega mountain – die harder-ish 2012.7

this is gonna sound disreputable and will probably keep us from being taken seriously as critiquers of motion pictures but 3 ninjas: high noon at mega mountain is exactly the kind of movies that make me believe in what we are doing, and the kind of movies we choose to write about. it fits about three of the five categories that made up our motto, those little words below our name up at the top. i suppose i could put on my nostalgia glasses, criticize it condescendingly, make jokes about how horrible it is, make hipsters laugh, and get more hits. but that would not be honest. and what’s the point of beating down on movies with bad reputations? what? double dragon is bad? super mario bros. is not good? it’s the equivalent of paris hilton/kardashians/jersey shore jokes, or a stand up routine about the difference between men and women. see, white people do it like this/black people do it like that.

more importantly, how big of a douche does one have to be to pick on kids (movies)? read more

Posted by: playingthedevil | July 21, 2012

safe house (1999) – die harder-ish 2012.6

premiered on showtime, safe house (1999) belongs in the subgenre of what someone called the-great-house-movies. i don’t know if someone claimed that term but if not, i would like to claim credit in coining that term, in addition to i.o.a.s.™ (inconsequential opening action sequence). the-great-house movies, also could be called prime-real-estate-movies, are named for the main locations said movies take place. not so much due to the single setting of the movie but rather the most memorable part is often the house/mansion/condo/high rise/apartment and the respective interior design. off the top of my head, this category includes sliver, robert benton’s twilight, panic room, the dial m for murder remake a perfect murder, and to a lesser extent, trespass (2011). read more

Posted by: playingthedevil | July 18, 2012

city hunter (1993) – die harder-ish 2012.5

based on the popular (maybe only in asia) manga and later anime series, 1993’s city hunter is one of the goofiest jackie chan movie ever made. no small feat considering his 70s low budget martial arts comedies, the 80s lucky star ensemble series, and the recent family oriented movies.

in addition to its manga/anime origin (first strike), this is directed by wong jing (strike #2), kind of the roger corman of hong kong. we’ve covered wong before in his previous two die hard-ish movies: 1989’s crocodile hunter and 1991’s the last blood aka hard-boiled 2, so you may be prepared for what is in store. he’s also responsible for jet li’s meltdown aka high risk, which we will get to later.

the third kinda strike against the movie is that it’s a chinese new year tentpole. this slot is kind of like an extra summer season for the hong kong film industry. not so much a time for award-winning movies but rather crowd-pleasing star-studded ensembles, most of which are comedies, with light and uplifting tones. this two to three-week period gave us comedies by heavy auteurs such as john woo (once a thief), tsui hark (the chinese feast, tri-star), ringo lam (aces go place iv), and the johnnie to romcoms. it was, for a while, hard to find a chinese new year without a chow yun fat, stephen chow, jackie chan, sammo hung, andy lau and wong jing movie in theatres. not so much because of their acting talent but more for their bankability. read more

Posted by: playingthedevil | July 14, 2012

best of the best: without warning – die harder-ish 2012.4

once again misled by the netflix synopsis, best of the best 4: without warning is not quite die hard-ish, at least not in the sense that people are trapped somewhere. i was actually expecting more of a die hard-ish with a vengeance-esque citywide situation. as in most cases, the netflix summary only describes the opening scenes. yet if we’re grading on a curve, best of the best iv ultimately feels more die hard-ish than most die hard-ish candidates i’ve seen this month. read more

Posted by: playingthedevil | July 10, 2012

crocodile hunter 專釣大鱷 (1989) – die harder-ish 2012.3

released about a year after die hard 1, wong jing’s crocodile hunter is quite possibly the world’s first die hard-ish movie. though like most die hard-ish movies, only the final half hour features people trapped in a building. the hour before that is more lethal weapon-ish. so i guess it’s more of a hong kong joel silver tribute.

wong jing, if you’re wondering, is the prolific hong kong filmmaker commonly described as the pusher of cheap and tasteless action/comedy/exploitation movies. though not liked by critics, most of his films are wildly popular. one may be tempted to compare him to michael bay except wong is responsible for classics starring chow yun fat, stephen chow, andy lau, and jet li, which is more classics than bay has, and will have. case in point: wong’s next movie after this one is the seminal god of gamblers.

and he would go on to recreate (and improve upon) the die hard-ish situation with 1993’s city hunter, with jackie chan as john mcclane on a cruise ship, based on a japanese manga; and 1989’s the last blood (horribly remarketed as hard-boiled 2 in some cases), a die-hard-in-singapore which we looked at last year. he also wrote/directed/produced 1995’s die hard-ish high risk aka meltdown starring jet li, no doubt based on his negative experience after working with jackie chan on city hunter. read more

Posted by: playingthedevil | July 6, 2012

counterstrike (2003) – die harder-ish 2012.2

identifying die hard-ish movies is kind of a crapshoot, especially when it comes to the lesser known d-t-v movies. instead of the class three-action-set-pieces structure, action movies then evolved into the action-scene-every-ten-minutes assembly. some time in the 90s, the climatic action sequence became longer and longer, usually takes place in one confined setting (abandoned warehouse, hospital, football game, an airplane…etc). the short synopsis on imdb or dvd back cover doesn’t help much either (perhaps intentionally worded to sound like a die hard scenario), neither does the often unreliable netflix summary. it also, of course, depends on your definition of die hard-ish, a phrase which i am pretty certain i coined.

to put it briefly, just because a movie shows up on our blog during die hard-ish month doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s die hard-ish, even though i tag it as such. presented by lions gate television and premiered on tbs (superstation), 2003’s counterstrike is only seemingly die hard-ish. so thanks, imdb and netflix plot summary writers. read more

Posted by: playingthedevil | July 3, 2012

hostage (2005) – die harder-ish 2012.1

i kind of knew going in that hostage is not going to be a die hard-ish movie. first of all, it stars BRUCE willis. he’s pretty good at protecting the die hard brand, and if he want to do a die hard-ish movie, he would do an actual die hard movie. there are enough die hard-ish movies for all the non-BRUCE. but since BRUCE is in the movie, and it revolves around hostage situations, it seems like a nice way to kick off our second annual die hard-ish 2: die harder-ish month. read more

Posted by: s. night screening | July 1, 2012

programming note: die hard-ish 2 (july 2012)

die hard-ish, year one

Posted by: playingthedevil | June 30, 2012

transformers: dark of the moon

the circle is now complete with transformers: dark of the moon. that is until they make a fourth one, which by then would be a rectangle or a square (probably a rectangle, since they like to take the long way). it is by no means a good movie, but to put things in perspective, it’s probably the best out of the three. the three movies add up to seven and a half hours of my life, excluding the time spent on thinking and writing about them, time i probably should have spent on getting more sleep, or doing volunteer work, or watching better movies. i guess at least i got some blog posts out of them.

though trans2mers is the highest grossing entry of the series, everyone seems to hate it. this doesn’t escape the attention of director michael bay and star shia the beef. bay blames the failure of episode ii on the writers strike and the mythical elements, while the beef blames michael bay for trying to make part deux too big. the beef also didn’t think much of indy 4. i’m looking forward to the excuses for armageddon, pearl harbor, and the island. read more

Posted by: playingthedevil | June 28, 2012

transformers: revenge of the fallen

release date: june 24th, 2009
imdb user rating: 5.9/10
metacritic score: 35/100
rotten tomatoes: 20% fresh

t2we will be taking a hiatus next month from the flops of summer for our second annual die hard-ish month, tentatively titled die harder-ish. as you can see above, transformers: revenge of the fallen is quite the opposite of the commercial flops we’ve been doing. in fact, it’s the highest grossing entry in the transformers movies, it’s also the second highest grossing movie of 2009, behind james cameron’s avatar.

like the phantom menace, attack of the clones, and norbit, transformers 2: the transforming also has the distinguished achievement of being nominated for both oscars and razzies. it also won two teen choice awards. read more

Posted by: playingthedevil | June 25, 2012

funny people (2009)

release date: july 31st, 2009
production budget: $75 million
u.s. gross: $51.86 million
foreign: $19.7 million

yet another high concept, totally fictional, and perhaps sci-fi summer comedy, funny people has adam sandler playing a successful, popular, self-loathing stand-up comedian turn movie star.

written, directed, and co-produced by judd apatow, funny people is 2 1/2 hours long, the longest of any apatow related or happy madison movies. it’s a daunting task for someone like me, who’s not only allergic to most happy madison productions but also thinks that apatow peaked with his tv shows (the ben stiller show, freaks and geeks, undeclared) and with diminishing returns with each new, longer movie. read more

Posted by: playingthedevil | June 23, 2012

seeking a friend for the end of the world

release date: june 22nd, 2012
production budget: $10 million
opening weekend: $3.8 million
foreign: ?

there is no shortage of end-of-the-world movies, from blockbuster tentpoles like armageddon, knowing, and the devlin/emmerich disaster porns (independence day, the day after tomorrow, 2012) to indies (last night, the book of life, another earth, melancholia, 4:44 last day on earth). seeking a friend for the end of the world lands somewhere in between: not dumb enough as a cgi-driven spectacle nor profound and atypical enough for the indie crowd.

written and directed by lorene scafaria, who adapted nick and norah’s infinite playlist for the screen, seeking a friend for the end of the world wastes no time to set things up. it opens with insurance salesman(!) dodge (steve carell) listening to the end of the world announcement from a classic rock radio station in his car with his wife (played by carell’s real life wife nancy walls). dodge’s wife ran from the car, literally. the radio station returns to music post-apocalypse-announcement with the beach boys’ wouldn’t it be nice. yes, it’s that kind of humor. read more

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