Invictus (2009)

Starring Morgan Freeman, Matt Damon, Tony Kgoroge, Patrick Mofokeng, Matt Stern

Directed by Clint Eastwood

Expectations: Low.


Another one I had been avoiding. I love Clint Eastwood, but I usually find his directorial efforts to be fairly slow and plodding. There are exceptions, but as a rule, his films are understated and meditative. This is fine, I’m just rarely in that kind of a mood so I tend to avoid his films unless I have a great interest in the subject matter. This was the case with Invictus, but I’m glad I dived in because this is a really good film.

Morgan Freeman is the definite star of the show, inhabiting the role of Nelson Mandela with ease. Freeman is recognizable as both himself and Mandela in the role, skillfully blending the two personas into a memorable screen performance that never feels like one. He gives a powerful speech early in the film on why the team name should remain the Springboks, proving why Freeman received an Oscar nomination for the role. Matt Damon is also great in his scenes, but he tends to fade into the background as a lot of his scenes are without dialogue on the Rugby field. When Damon is on-screen, his subtle performance feels natural and believable. The film is essentially broken into two halves with Freeman leading the charge in the first half of the film, and Damon taking over once the World Cup action begins.

Continue reading Invictus (2009) →

Ghoulies II (1988)

Starring Damon Martin, Royal Dano, Phil Fondacaro, J. Downing, Kerry Remsen, Dale Wyatt

Directed by Albert Band

Expectations: Low. There’s no way this can live up to the first one.

On the general scale:

On the B-movie scale:
threehalfstar


Ghoulies II is a film working against the odds. The first Ghoulies is a cult horror/comedy masterpiece (if you go for those sorts of things) and generally sequels to such fare are always inferior. I am happy to report that Ghoulies II is an exception to the rule. When four minutes in there’s a man with a groaning, wriggling sack over his shoulder being chased by three guys in blood-red satanist robes, you know you’re in for something…might be special, might be shit, but it’s definitely not gonna be middle of the road.

Apparently these satanists summoned the Ghoulies and the guy with the sack is making off with them to kill them. He runs into a gas station garage and throws the whole bag into a steaming toxic waste barrel. I’ve never seen a toxic waste barrel spewing fog at my local garage, but this is Ghoulies II so we’re just gonna go with it. Needless to say, the toxic waste has zero effect on the Ghoulies. They jump out and stop-motion their way over to a parked diesel rig. Soon, we’re all on our way to the carnival via the truck carrying the Satan’s Den attraction and our lovable Ghoulies.

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Starting July 5th: A Fistful of Djangos!

Hey everyone, grab your cowboy hat and your gatling gun ’cause here at Silver Emulsion we’re rolling out a two-week Django extravaganza! It will run Mon-Thurs starting July 5th and will continue the following Monday July 12th.

The Django series isn’t an actual series when defined by strict definitions, but like all good Italian films from that era, it spawned a gazillion clone movies that sought to capitalize on the first film’s success. Uncle Jasper and I are going to tackle four films each, for an eight film, two-week look at this classic Spaghetti Western series. Check back soon for more details, including a schedule of the films we’re taking a look at! It’s gonna be Django-rific!

If you’re excited about it as we are, feel free to post the banner image on your site!

Uncle Jasper reviews: Madman (1982)

Starring Gaylen Ross, Tony Fish, Harriet Bass, Seth Jones, Jan Claire, Jimmy Steele, Carl Fredericks, Paul Ehlers

Directed By Joe Giannone


Forced to live in the shadow of Friday the 13th since its original release in 1982, it only takes one viewing to realize that Madman is hands-down the superior film. Not to brazenly shit on the legendary long-running horror franchise, but there is a reason this obscure slasher film was gobbled up on DVD and went quickly out of print when Anchor Bay took a chance on its re-release a few years back. The same can’t be said for Friday the 13th which still waddles away, buried deep in the $5 DVD bin at your local Wal-Mart™.

Popping this disc in instantly takes me back in time to the horror aisles of old mom and pop run video rental shops of the 1980s. Gone were the wall-to-wall piles of new releases that are found in most present day franchises. Hidden behind the sun-faded Freddy Krueger cutouts and below the thumb-tacked Toxic Avenger poster with its curling edges and scotch-tape repaired tears would lay rows upon rows of obscure, low-budget horror films. They were propped up meticulously in their shiny cellophane wrappers with that block of foam jammed inside the box to keep it from flattening. Every Friday visit to the rental store was like a treasure hunt. My dad would carefully float down the aisles grabbing pretty much anything that looked at least somewhat interesting. We would take home stacks of long forgotten classics like Chopping Mall, C.H.U.D., Night of the Demons, and Hello Mary Lou: Prom Night 2. Some of these films would be deemed worthy of second or third rentals. But I don’t think my dad rented any film as much as Madman, which probably saw more time playing inside our top-loading VCR than it did sitting on that shelf in the video store.

Continue reading Uncle Jasper reviews: Madman (1982) →

Mini-Review: This Film is Not Yet Rated (2006)

Starring Kirby Dick, Jack Valenti, Kimberly Peirce, Alison Anders, John Waters, Becky Altringer

Directed by Kirby Dick

Expectations: Medium.


This Film is Not Yet Rated looks to pull the tablecloth out from under the MPAA and expose their asinine film rating system. I am the choir this film is preaching to, I’ve been the guy complaining about the stupidity of the rating system for years. Therefore, this film didn’t teach me anything new, but it does entertain for the most part. If you haven’t noticed, films are rated arbitrarily and more for sexual content than for violence. This speaks to our generally conservative and sometimes backwards culture, where violence is more okay than sex for kids to see.

This film is great for the uninitiated to see the rating practices of the MPAA. The film and its director, Kirby Dick, are a bit extreme in their methods of obtaining the information for the film, resulting in something that will play well to people of like minds, but won’t necessarily sway combative viewers. It reminds me of Michael Moore’s films in this way, albeit a lot less well-made. It is interesting but a bit too long, check this one out if you’re in the mood for a bit of investigative journalism.

Like Stars on Earth (2007)

Like Stars on Earth [Taare Zameen Par (तारे ज़मीन पर)] (2007)

Starring Darsheel Safary, Aamir Khan, Tisca Chopra, Vipin Sharma, Sachet Engineer, Tanay Chheda, M.K. Raina

Directed by Aamir Khan

Expectations: Moderate.


I’ve had this DVD sitting on my shelf for about two months. I kept putting it off because of its long runtime (165 min.) but when I finally put it in I found myself pleasantly surprised. The film slowly builds, introducing you to its world and by the end I was in love. It is incredibly multi-faceted but never feels stretched or forced. At its heart it is an uplifting drama, but it’s also a musical that features sequences of claymation, traditional animation and even a bit of 3d animation.

The film seeks to tell the story of Ishaan, a young boy who is having trouble keeping himself focused in school. He tends to look out the window and daydream more than actually study. He is an imaginative boy and the many forms of animation and art impart this to the viewer. The film reflects the colorful Indian culture beautifully, from flowing fabrics to intense watercolor paintings. Overall, the film is well-shot and nice to look at. There isn’t anything about the cinematography that stands out all that much, but it does have a general high quality.

Continue reading Like Stars on Earth (2007) →

Shutter Island (2010)

Starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Ben Kingsley, Mark Ruffalo, Michelle Williams, Emily Mortimer, Max von Sydow, Jackie Earle Haley, Ted Levine, John Carroll Lynch, Elias Koteas, Patricia Clarkson

Directed by Martin Scorsese

Expectations: High.


Scorsese’s first film back after winning Best Picture and Director for The Departed is Shutter Island, an adaptation of Dennis Lehane’s novel of the same name. Much as I’d like not to say it, Scorsese’s best films are behind him but Shutter Island is still leagues better than your traditional mainstream fare. His last truly great film in my eyes was Kundun, a long 13 years ago, and while Shutter Island doesn’t even come close to its level, it shows that he still holds the power to make a good film.

The story follows Teddy Daniels, a U.S. Marshall from Boston played by Leonardo DiCaprio, and his partner (Mark Ruffalo) as they make their way to Ashecliff Hospital. Their case is to find Rachel Solando, a patient that somehow escaped from her cell and has gone missing. I will leave it at that as a good portion of the fun comes from unraveling the mystery.

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