Blue Sunshine is a bad movie that sometimes ends up on people’s Best Cult Movies of All Time lists, provided those lists go up to like 100. It’s attained that status based on three strengths: 1) A brooding, distant and most of all weird performance by the lead actor, Red Shoe Diaries director Zalman King. It’s not clear to the layman whether his inappropriate staring or absurdly idiosyncratic yelling counts as acting or not, but I’m assured it’s a misguided attempt at trying to be Marlon Brando. 2) Typical bad movie stuff like baffling dialogue and strange people wandering around in the background. 3) Every now and then in the movie, someone gets their wig yanked off, and their eyebrows disappear, and they get super-strength, and they go on a killing spree.
Mother has all the hallmarks of its fantastic director, Bong Joon-ho; a cast of cartoon characters rich in their humanity that boost its fascinating premise, moments of baffling and powerful imagery bordering on the surreal and tonal shifts that take you from stark hilarity to heartbreak in a flash, all while maintaining a believable and relatable atmosphere. This particular film is a crime drama about, as the title suggests, mothers. The film tests a mother’s fierce loyalty and propensity to protect her child, qualities that are the salvation (then ultimately revealed to be the damnation) of the crimes perpetrated. One of the most remarkable things about the film is that, because if its breadth of tone, you genuinely have no idea how the mystery is going to be resolved (until your own perception and allegiances are eventually turned on you). It’s a tricky game that Bong pulls off with ease, and we can only pray that he never moves to Hollywood so that he can continue playing it.
The Fifth Cord is a bad movie. It’s only gripping a couple of times (a creepy phone call and a chase sequence or two), the characters are basically sexy Italian lamps and when I found out whodunnit I couldn’t find a way to make it more interesting than “So that’s the guy who killed all those people in that movie I just watched”. But it’s still worth watching. Why? The photography is so stunning that it carries the entire movie. The color, composition and weird visual tricks makes each shot look like a carefully orchestrated photograph and make watching this boring thriller enjoyable. The way that buildings and objects are used to fill the frame is very geometric, Koyaanisqatsian even. So if you’re in the mood to watch a dude with a killer ‘stache and sick ‘chops interrogate a parade of gorgeous Italian women whom he sometimes propositions and sometimes slaps amidst a backdrop of mesmerizing tacking shots of 60’s Italian architecture and furniture, then you couldn’t do much better than The Fifth Cord. Or maybe you could, like I said it isn’t very good. 3
The Orphanage was marketed completely appropriately; It’s a Guillermo del Toro film that’s not by Guillermo del Toro. It’s in the same vein, but not as good. Which isn’t to say that it isn’t good, or is completely devoid of it’s own personality, but it gives you a pretty good idea of what to expect. At best it has some very effective sequences, at worst it can be overwrought to the point of distracting sillyness. 3
Baghead succeeds where almost every single other Hollywood production of it’s nature fails; it has genuine, likable characters and invests you in them in a way that pays off when the horror stars. And while it is pretty light on the horror and pretty heavy on the characters, the whole thing is so well done that you’re never left wanting for the other. But my favorite part of all? It’s not an ironic take on the slasher genre, it’s an actual take on the slasher genre. Check your Hollywood production expectations at the door. 4
This is a scenario of a movie’s long shadow working against it. I’m sure this movie would have been a whole lot more effective if I had seen it in a theater in 1978. But since this trailblazing film was released it’s imitators have topped and worn out all of it’s tricks, leaving not a very interesting movie. It’s tough holding a work’s own success against it. Do I blame the Sex Pistols personally for ruining punk? No. But that doesn’t make it any easier to listen to their albums. Also, John Carpenter’s music is rediculous. There is something to the music in this film that is genuinely unnerving, and I can understand why it’s been copied so much, but it’s in like EVERY scene. Three girls walking down the street and talking about the big dance, a scene that’s not even attempting to build tension, doesn’t need the creepy score. 2/5
I really dig the way this movie unfolds it’s story- giving you seemingly random moments of it’s characters and leaving it to you to assemble the narrative (as opposed to coming up with some convoluted way of bringing you up to speed). It’s also a brilliant idea for a supernatural thriller, and perfectly suited for the medium of film. 4/5