TURISTAS (2006)

Directed By: John Stockwell
Written By: Michael Arlen Ross
Cinematography: Enrique Chediak 
Editor: Jeff McEvoy

Cast: Josh Duhamel, Melissa George, Olivia Wilde, Desmond Askew, Beau Garrett, Max Brown, Lucy Ramos, Andrea Leal, Diego Santiago, Agles Steib 

A group of young backpackers’ vacation turns sour when a bus accident leaves them marooned in a remote Brazilian rural area that holds an ominous secret.


This film is basically HOSTEL in Brazil. Even though the violence is brutal here it still doesn’t feel as bad, dark, or disgusting as HOSTEL does if only because this feels more like a big studio copy of it. As it seems more aimed at a worst-case scenario film, where privileged white young Americans are the victims. 

As this film has bigger names or at least more recognizable names and faces. It offers up just as much nudity also. As the film has a libidinous sexual vibe that disappears as soon as the carnage starts. It still feels a bit explosive but from a big studio 

Whereas in HOSTEL, the company is more sophisticated, it seems day by night and messy. Essentially this film is a traveler’s worst nightmare come to life. One of those urban legends you always hear about. Being seduced and then waking up and your body parts missing. As it begins everything seems magical, beautiful, and fun, and then it’s Like the characters wake up to a bad hangover and it is all a nightmare. 

For all this paradise’s Natural wonders there is a price to be paid. Whereas most of the characters/victims are caucasian tourists. Who you do feel sorry for, but also come off as annoying ugly Americans and foreigners at times. So while they don’t deserve what they get you do feel they should have some comeuppance. At least they aren’t treated like saints even though the stars Josh Duhamel and Olivia Wilde come off as the nicest and most decent.

This was Duhmel’s first starring role based on his shoulders. Though in the advertising he is really downplayed. 

The villain being caucasian also helps show that he is racist and also that he treats all the dark-skinned people who work for him horribly and like slaves. Even as he tries to make them feel like they are in a partnership.

Even though generally as is life the islanders are being taken advantage of by the tourists and the evil surgeon. But that is their way of making a living also is to entertain them to a degree. Which is the true horror. 

The film is entertaining but instantly forgettable. The island paradise and cast are nice to look at but that is about it as the rest of the film is fairly predictable. 

The only general shock to be had is how violent it gets for a mass audience studio film. Though at least It’s not gratuitous though it does feel liek it is trying hard to have an edge 

Grade: C

ALL THE BOYS LOVE MANDY LANE (2006)

Directed By: Jonathan Levine 
Written By: Jacob Forman 
Cinematography By: Darren Genet 
Editor: Josh Noyes 

Cast: Amber Heard, Anson Mount, Whitney Able, Michael Welch, Edwin Hodge, Aaron Himelstein, Luke Grimes, Melissa Price, Adam Powell 


A group of high-schoolers invite Mandy Lane, an innocent, desirable girl, to a weekend party on a secluded ranch. While the festivities rage on, the number of revelers begins to drop mysteriously. The film has a sensational ending. 

The film is way too short, but there is a logical reason for that. Too much more would have made it feel long. Plus it was running out of victims and things to do between the killings after all. It is not a supernatural tale and there aren’t too many victims to go around on an endless blood lust. 

As much as I like the film due to it’s limited budget and claustrophobic feel and relatively small production. 
Everyone being attracted to Mandy Lane is a little believable especially when Dealing with teenage hormones, but when the girls also begin getting attracted to her it feels a bit forced. Their attraction and her being so innocent and not realizing the peer she has over them. Feels a bit far fetched but realistic enough. As does the rest of the film. As the murders, the motivations. It becomes less of a mystery. As to who is doing it. Then When, who will be the next victim and how the killer will strike is more of the mystery in this film. 

From it’s visual arresting beginning set to the song “IN ANTICIPATION OF YOUR SUICIDE” by Bedroom Walls, I was hooked, I knew the film would be something special. A little different. –The direction is tight, but I feel the material is not sensational until the end and at that point the film makes you rethink everything. You have just seen and analyze it. 

SPOILER 

The ending finding out Mandy was part of the killings the whole time. Making her a kind of inside man, setting all the victims up. So her friend Emmett could get access and know each person’s location and her bobble cords of him. During what is supposed to be their murder suicide. So she can be the survivor and get more attention on a grander scale. Truly makes this film a portrait go a sociopath in a certain situation in which she is always the victim of most people’s fantasies of her. So she becomes everything to all people and realizes she is not what they think. She is a lot worse and wants to take control of her identity in a way, she lets them believe what they want. While secretly hating it and wanting to get revenge on them for it, but realizes that she gets what she wants because of it. So she deduced her best friend to do her bidding. So she can get away with everything. He is just as bad as the rest to her and the only person she finds a connection with is the one guy not going gaga over her and actually is moral and just. 

The most chilling part of the film is not that she just got away with it, but what will happen to future people who cross her path and dare to try and be close to her. It’s a sort of psychological story that makes you think through constant list of an innocent. This is what you create in that person. Thinking about the film probably makes the film smarter and more interesting then it actually is, but for the most part it is a solid film that tired to buck certain Conventions. While following them at the same time. 

SPOILER END 

The casting is good though only Amber head as Mandy Lane seems to be the only one who really benefited from the film and the role. She does look like a fantasy come to life. It is one hell of a role though. An impressive skeleton in the closet. As for awhile after this film she was the next big thing. It seems a bit more based on her looks as she barely has any liens through the film. Even though she is the lead. She is In Almost every scene. Sort of like Brandon Routh in SUPERMAN LIVES. Sometimes i wondered if her character was borderline autistic. 

Emmy Rossum was offered the role of Mandy Lane, but turned it down, stating that she did not want to be in a slasher movie.
 
The deaths throughout the film are not that spectacular. What takes the film down is that it believes it is smarter than the audience. So much so that it feels a bit glib. Especially when all of it’s power is in the ending. 

The film can be dull, while you are waiting for something, anything to happen. It tried to be atmospheric, but it doesn’t work. It’s an average film that has been hyped to be better than it actually is. Only because at the time the limited access to it. So this is a film that runs more on reputation than anything else  

Grade: C+

INLAND EMPIRE (2006)

Edited, Cinematography, Written & Directed By: David Lynch

Cast: Laura Dern, Justin Theroux, Grace Zabriskie, Jeremy Irons, Harry Dean Stanton, Diane Ladd, Julia Ormand, Mary Steenburgen, Masiumi Max, Amanda Foreman, Terry Crews, Jordan Ladd, Ian Abercrombie, Cameron Daddo, Jerry Stahl, Nastassja Kinski

A blonde actress is preparing for her biggest role yet, but when she finds herself falling for her co-star, she realizes that her life is beginning to mimic the fictional film that they’re shooting. Adding to her confusion is the revelation that the current film is a remake of a doomed Polish production, 47, which was never finished due to an unspeakable tragedy.


I’m sorry I didn’t know what was going on half the time watching this film. It seems a film that is made more to test your interpretation or at least seems more like an art installation as film. Though truthfully might be the pinnacle and thesis of David Lynch’s filmography. Throwing any linear content out the window practically.

This seems more a film born out of his imagination and a kind of statement for him. As after all Supposedly This movie started with a phone call Laura Dern received from David Lynch asking if she wanted to come and experiment with him. That started the journey as the movie was filmed over several years and both of this films stars admit they don’t understand or what is going on in the film.

This movie makes every David Lynch movie from BLUE VELVET to MULLHOLLAND DRIVE look mainstream. This film is dark at times yet continuously feels unfocused for the audience while David Lynch directs with a sure hand. he does all the work here on his own for the most part it seems behind the scenes. So this is more his total creation. This is like an abstract painting brought to life on film. I think even if you are a David Lynch an this will test your boundaries of love for him.

In this movie there are scenes and shots of such beauty that only last a limited amount of time soon the film becomes tedious because it’s over two hours long. Now yes Andy Warhol would have loved it and called it a masterpiece and so will a lot of pretentious art film fans. Maybe it is. Maybe It’s just an abstract artist wavelength.

Now Mr. Lynch is a talented filmmaker, even in it’s moody overtones. Each scene breathes with life and opportunities that could take to scene and movie into parallel choices but it seems to just soldier on. Just like there are scenes where the film gets very interesting and seems to move only to be cut short abruptly and disappear.

I did really admire  the camerawork and the end credits sequence as well as some scenes and Laura Dern’s performance as she is in the whole film and has to somewhat figure out what is going on as well as be surprised as she goes along throughout. Her performance I can understand. Because she gives it her all and she is challenged at each turn and gives all she can at each turn. Bringing some kind of understanding and emotion into all of this darkness.

The reasons you think but for the fluid camera movement and music selection. This is a should have been movie especially with the ending. I believe we look for meaning or at least a linear story in David Lynch films and when he doesn’t give it to us. We try to read too much into it and maybe give little things that are non sensical more meaning that it has. It could be just a glitch but these directors who don’t speak on their films really are hiding the secret because audiences praise them as geniuses and all it is is a mistake plain and simple or something that was forgotten looked on or couldn’t afford to fix. But the audience feels the director is being subtle or that audiences just don’t get it. Maybe we do more than you but you believing yourself to be superior and needing to have something to believe in or influenced by your artistic friends taste or maybe I’m an idiot who knows this isn’t a philosophy class. I just wanted to state my beliefs.

This is one of those films I believe film lovers and fans of lynch need to see. Though I can say definitely watch it after you have seen all of his other films and can’t say you will enjoy it. Though there is nothing like it and it’s a movie I will say I will most likely only watch once. From what I can understand is that Laura Dern is playing in a movie that is a remake of cursed early black and white film. From the line between reality and film and film within a film are blurred. Sorry I didn’t like it but I do like other Lynch movies just not this one.

GRADE: C-

OFFSIDE (2006)

Directed & Edited By: Jafar Panahi
Written By: Jafar Panahi & Shadmehr Restin
Cinematography By: Yuval Berazani & Korosh Bozorgpour

Cast: Sima Mobarak-Shahi, Shayesteh Ireni, Ayda Sadeqi, Golanz Parmani, Mahnaz Zabini

 “Offside” is about a group of Iranian girls who attempts to enter Tehran’s Azadi Stadium dressed as boys in order to watch a big football match but some get caught and arrested. After the establishment of the Islamic Republic in Iran, women are not allowed to enter the stadiums. 

The women here are not very convincing dressed up as men, Some could pass. Here we follow a first-timer tries and is caught and detained with other women. We get to see their passion for the sport. The camaraderie that develops between them. The hypocrisy involved in this law prohibiting women. Which even some of the men attending the game see as stupid or don’t really care.

It’s rare the movie that can involve social commentary and still be a light-hearted comedy, But this movie succeeds and scores.

This film involves characters you grow to love and are astonished at their rebellious nature. For what can be a trivial pastime but they are willing to lay it all on the line for football or what we in America would call soccer. The beauty of this film is that even though it’s a dramedy. It feels more like a documentary due to the realness. The camera work and the fact that it was filmed during an actual world cup qualifying match.

There is nothing outrageous it is more the comedy that comes from real-life situations. I like the fact that the film doesn’t make anyone out to be evil or a villain. Even the guards who are there to reinforce the rules are three-dimensional characters. Not one-dimensional zealots, that you see a lot of times in a lot of other movies.

This is definitely a must-see. It’s not propaganda or a political film drowned in messages and symbolism. In fact if not for the politics involved this could be a nice breezy comedy. I mean it is rated PG after all.

An Addition to the home library.

GRADE: A

BANDIDAS (2006)

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Directed By: Joachim Ronning & Espen Sandberg
Written By: Luc Besson & Robert Mark Kamen
Cinematography By: Thierry Arbogast
Editor: Frederic Thoraval

Cast: Penelope Cruz, Salma Hayek, Steve Zahn, Dwight Yoakam, Sam Shepard, Denis Arndt

In 1848, a New York bank wants to put a railroad across Mexico, so it buys up small banks around Santa Rita, Durango, and evicts farmers on the proposed rail line who owe money. The bank’s henchman is the murderous Jackson. He runs afoul of two women, María, the tough but uneducated daughter of a farmer, and Sara, the European-educated daughter of the owner of one of these banks. To feed the now landless people and to seek revenge, María and Sara become bank robbers, veritable Robin Hoods. But Jackson and his hired guns are after them. What are the women’s options?

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MONSTER HOUSE (2006)

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Directed By: Gil Kenan
Written By: Dan Harmon, Rob Schrab & Paul Pettler
Story By: Dan Harmon & Rob Schrab
Cinematography: Xavier Perez Geobet
Editor: Fabienne Eawley & Adam P. Scott 


Cast: Mitchel Musso, Steve Buscemi, Maggie Gylenhaal, Catherine O’Hara, Fred Willard, Jon Heder, Jason Lee, Kevin James, Nick Cannon, Spencer Locke, Kathleen Turner 


13-year-old DJ is observing his neighbor Nebbercracker on the other side of the street in the suburb that destroys tricycles of children that trespass his lawn. When DJ’s parents travel on the eve of Halloween and the abusive nanny Zee stays with him, he calls his clumsy best friend Chowder to play basketball. But when the ball falls in Nebbercracker’s lawn, the old man has a heart attack, and soon they find that the house is a monster. Later the boys rescue the smart Jenny from the house and the trio unsuccessfully tries to convince the babysitter, her boyfriend Bones and two police officers that the haunted house is a monster, but nobody believes them. The teenagers ask their video-game addicted acquaintance Skull how to destroy the house, and they disclose its secret on the Halloween night

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GRUDGE 2 (2006)

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Directed By: Takashi Shimizu
Written By: Stephen Susco
Based on the film JU-ON: THE GRUDGE by: Takashi Shimizu
Cinematography By: Katsumi Yanagijima
Editor: Jeff Betancourt 


Cast: Amber Tamblyn, Arielle Kebbel, Jennifer Beals, Christopher Cousins, Teresa Palmer, Sarah Roemer, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Takako Fuji, Edison Chen, Misako Uno 


In Pasadena, Mrs. Davis sends her daughter Aubrey Davis to Tokyo to bring her sister Karen Davis, who is interned in a hospital after surviving a fire, back to the USA. After their meeting, Karen dies and Aubrey decides to investigate what happened to her and gets herself trapped in the same situation, being chased by the ghost of the house. Meanwhile in Tokyo, the three high school mates Allison, Vanessa and Miyuki visit the famous haunted house and are also chased by the ghost. In Chicago, Trish moves to the apartment of her boyfriend Bill, who lives with his children, the teenager Lacey and boy Jake. On the next door, weird things happen with their neighbor.

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DANS PARIS (2006)

Written & Directed By: Christopher Honore
Cinematography: Jean-Louis Vialard
Editor: Chantal Hymans 


Cast: Roman Duris, Joanna Priess, Louis Garrel, Guy Merchand, Alice Butand, Marie-France Pisier 

Anna has just left Paul who, annihilated by the separation, moves back with his father in Paris. His younger brother Jonathan, a casual student, still lives in his father’s apartment and spends most of his time womanizing and fooling around. But what this apparent lightness conceals is a deep wound. Jonathan, in fact, has never been able to overcome the death of his beloved sister. Meanwhile Paul sinks into depression.

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RUNNING SCARED (2006)

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Written & Directed By: Wayne Kramer
Cinematography By: James Whitaker
Editor: Arthur Coburn 


Cast: Paul Walker, Vera Farmiga, Chazz Palmenteri, Karel Roden, Cameron Bright, Johnny Messner, Ivana Milicevic, Michael Cudlitz, Bruce Altman, Elizabeth Mitchell, Idalis DeLeon, Jon Noble

After a drug-op gone bad, Joey Gazelle is put in charge of disposing the gun that shot a dirty cop. But things goes wrong for Joey after the neighbor kid stole the gun and used it to shoot his abusive father. Now Joey has to find the kid and the gun before the police and the mob find them first.

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RUNNING WITH SCISSORS (2006)

runningwithWritten & Directed By: Ryan Murphy
Based on The Memoir By: Augusten Burroughs
Cinematography: Christopher Baffa
Editor: Byron Smith 


Cast: Joseph Cross, Evan Rachel Wood, Brian Cox, Gwyneth Paltrow, Joseph Fiennes, Annette Bening, Jill Clayburgh, Patrick Wilson, Alec Baldwin, Gabrielle Union, Kristin Chenoweth, Dagmara Domincyzk, Colleen Camp 


The story of how a boy was abandoned by his mother and how he, later, abandoned her. The year he’ll be 14, the parents of Augusten Burroughs divorce, and his mother, who thinks of herself as a fine poet on the verge of fame, delivers him to the eccentric household of her psychiatrist, Dr. Finch. During that year, Augusten avoids school, keeps a journal, and practices cosmetology. His mother’s mental illness worsens, he takes an older lover, he finds friendship with Finch’s younger daughter, and he’s the occasional recipient of gifts from an unlikely benefactor. Can he survive to come of age?


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