Showing posts with label 1988. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 1988. Show all posts

31 January 2014

DVD Review: Hell Comes To Frog Town (1988)

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Genre:
Sci-Fi, Action, Comedy
BD Release Date:
3rd February 2013 (UK)
Distributor:
Arrow Video
Rating:
15
Director:
Donald G. Jackson, R.J. Kizer
Cast:
roddy piper,Julius LeFlore, RCB, Sandahl Bergman
Buy: Hell Comes to Frogtown [Dual Format DVD & Blu-ray]

Hell Comes to Frogtown, the title kinda says it all. It’s a unabashedly b-movie in the way that makes the film truly awful in every way and not even in a so bad it’s mind kind of way. It has somehow over the years became something of a very minor cult classic and I guess this must be down to the presence of a certain wrestler turner actor Roddy Piper.

The “plot” of Hell Comes to Frogtown is in a nutshell is most men are infertile due to nuclear waste. There are also mutant frogs and Hell (Roddy Piper) must rescue women from Frogtown and put his seed in them so they can save the human race. The film really drags though it’s 80 minute running time, I fell asleep once but didn’t miss a thing. The depiction of women though out is ridiculously sexist and not even in an ironic campy way, it’s just very crude. I’m also pretty sure many of the actresses were porn stars.

Now we get to the director of this toxic oozing piece of turd Donald G. Jackson who is considered the Ed Wood of the video age. That’s so ridiculously unfair on the pioneering work of Ed Wood who was a visionary director in every way and made a pioneering film Glen or Glenda which was decades ahead of it’s time. Ed Wood had a distinctive style, the film may have been awful but they had something. Hell Comes to Frogtown has nothing to offer the viewer and it’s no wonder Roddy Piper though nobody saw it until years later.

Avoid Hell Comes to Frogtown and just see They Live, which is one of the greatest satires ever mad and stars Roddy Piper. Arrow Video as usual put some great love in this release but the film doesn’t live up to silly title or for fans of They Live. Arrow will be bringing out loads great releases soon so just invest in those.

☆☆☆☆

Ian Schultz

16 December 2013

Blu-Ray Review: Cinema Paradiso 25th Anniversary Edition (1988)

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Genre:
World Cinema, Drama
Distributor:
Arrow Films
Rating:
15
BD Release Date:
16th December 2013 (UK)
Director:
Giuseppe Tornatore
Cast:
Enzo Cannavale, jacques perrin,Philippe Noiret, Salvatore Cascio,
Buy:Cinema Paradiso 25th Anniversary Remastered Edition [Blu-ray]

When you look back to history of cinema there is very few films that bridge the gap between mainstream film, arthouse and world cinema loved worldwide.The Artist is probably the last film to bridge that gap, in 1998 a little unknown Italian film, Guiseppe Trnatore's Cinema Paradiso closed that gap delivering  that charm and 25 years on that film is returning. Now fully restored Paradiso is unleashing it's nostalgic charm on a new generation of film fans not forgetting those who embraced it 25 years previously.

Set (& filmed) in the director's hometown in the Sicilian hills, Salvatore (Jacques Perrin) a successful film director who returns home due to a friend but most of all mentor's funeral. That man was Alfredo (Philippe Noiret) who was the town's projectionist at the 'Cinema Paradiso' which was the centre if Salvatore's imagination when he was a child. It's not just Salvatore's memories as the child he reminiscences on everything that shaped his life including his first love Elena (Agneso Nano) helping him reconnect to the people he left 30 years earlier.

When you look at cinemas nowdays it's hard to believe decades before the theatres played an integral part of peoples lives and like in Paradiso its was the townsfolk main source of entertainment.It brought the community together during a turbulent period of time (war), no arguing on what to watch, just pure escapism which is still relative these days. However it seems nowdays it's all about how expensive ticket, popcirn prices are, empty screens, a love affair many cinephiles will tell the relationship is stale.

Like I mention time and time again these reviews for old films are like that age old malt whiskey your Dad have gathering dust in your drinks cabinet. You may not appreciate the taste when you buy the bottle but give it time to mature the quality will come and 25 years on Cinema Paradiso is that fine malt that people are now cherishing. Winning the Best foreign feature in 1989 along with a host of other awards it was a sign this was a special film ironically it's to understand why the film was a box office flop when it was released.

Paradiso's power is it's ability to capture the power of film whilst celebrating the coming of age of Salvatore with great nostalgia. This is a fantasy film not in Slavatore's life but fantasy which captures the magic of film, mesmerizes you, gripping you into a magical adventure of escapism and why millions have a great affection for the silver screen.The first part of Paradiso  is all about Salvatore's childhood years on how he discovers the magic that unravels in front of him on the big screen. It's also the introduction of Alfredo, who becomes the father figure that's been missing from Salvatore's life (his on father a soldier in the war).

Whilst capturing te friendship between Alfredo and Salvatore Paradiso gives us an insight into community togetherness during troubled times. We even get some funny moments and the influence the church had on peoples lives when they attempted to stop a film and what they got instead was a montage of kisses on the big screen. If only they where alive today they would probably suffer multiple heart attacks. From the innocence of childhood to the reality of becoming an adult nostalgia becomes reflection, Tornatore establishes himself a master storyteller something many of today's filmmakers seem to have forgotten about.

Cinema Paradiso  maybe considered by some to over melodramatic but with good reasons, a simple sentimental whimsical journey of life, examining friendship and the romance of film. Life is hard , however the feelgood nature of the film reminds us the importance of community spirit and its escapism from lives troubles. With a fantastic score from Ennio morricone, glorious cinematography Cinema Paradiso is that love letter to film that you'll treasure in your heart until the end of days.

★★★★

Paul Devine


1 July 2013

The Grave Of The Fireflies (1988) Blu-Ray Review

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Rating: 12
BD Release Date: 1st July 2013 (UK)
Director: Isao Takahata
Stars: Tsutomu Tatsumi, Ayano Shiraishi, Yoshiko Shinohara
Buy The Grave Of The Fireflies: (Blu-ray + DVD) [1988]
Win The Grave Of The Fireflies on Blu Ray: Enter Here (deadline 21st July 2013)


For years critics, cinephiles, so called experts have battled over the decades to give animation the right and respect it deserves to be judged on the same par as feature films. The right to say animation is not for just kids but for everyone, Japanese animation (or anime) has been a forerunner for many years as a defender that animation can delivery just as powerful story as it's human counterparts. Today sees the Blu-Ray release of what many call one of the best war films ever created, highly regarded up there with Platoon, Path Of Glory, Schinder's List, its that powerful it will having you reaching for not just the snacks but the tissues. Set in the aftermath of tragedy, seen through the eyes of children, Grave Of The Fireflies.

Set in Japan at the end of World War 2, The Grave Of The Fireflies focuses on Seita a young boy along with his small Sister Setsuko are forced to fight for survival after their mother was killed in a air raid whilst their father whereabouts unknown due to him been in the navy. Fate unknown first they live with their aunt but as rations tighten up things get harder for everyone , Seita and Setsuko are forced to fend for themselves living off anything they can find, however tragedy awaits for them.

The Grave Of The Fireflies is one half of the latest double play from Studio Ghibli's ongoing release of their whole back catalogue onto Blu-Ray. The film has been pair up with Kiki's Delivery Service and I recommend when you watch the 2 films you watch this one first. Why? if you believed Bambi was the only animation that would have you reaching for the kleenix make The Grave Of The Fireflies the second film. The melancholic realism is so powerful however when the film's protagonists are children based on an (semi-)autobiographical you already know their fate the film becomes a deeply moving story even adults will be effected too.

The Grave Of The Fireflies is a simple story of survival, a story that death lurks around every corner waiting for Seita and Setsuko drop their guard. When politicians think they are the true voice of the people acting on what they think is in our best interests like going to wars we shouldn't even be involved in (most wars post World War 2), it's those stuck in the middle, the men, women and children who suffer.This film is an downward spiral, through the eyes of children, innocence, nativity runs through the film and even when they must adapt like adults you still get the sense of feeling they are children. Even Seita been older (about 14/15 years old) whose at a age to understand what's happening is wrong, he tries to do better but his foolish pride at times clouds his judgement that makes you wonder if his judgement was free maybe things could have been different and death could have been kept out.

The Grave of The Fireflies is an frighteningly vexing film filled with poignancy, haunting (the silence when death was around), beautiful piece of art but also relentless in nature too. Some people may argue does this film have a rightful place in the magical world of Ghibli, the answer is undoubtedly yes. This is a visually engaging, unrivaled storytelling that will absorb attention in every little details, a film that's maybe aimed at an age slightly above Ghibli's typical age group around 12 years, an age where children are taking their first footsteps into why somethings are just wrong (war).Is The Grave Of The Fireflies a war or anti war film or neither?Whilst the film delivers the cruelty of war the kindness and spirits of humans is really the film's true message, however adapting life through extraordinary circumstances (war) as means to survive I would also consider this film to be an war film too.

The beauty of this film can be summed in several scenes most notably with the sweet jar, which every sweet Seita and Setsuko consumed another day went by until the jar was empty. It's when Seita fills the empty jar with water he gives it to his sister she drinks the sweet water, her face lights up the screen. This is a scene that reminds of the scene in John Hillcoat's The Road in which father finds an unopened coke can from an old vending machine, he gives it to his son whose face lights up an experience he'll never again have like Seita's sister

The Grave of The Fireflies is an beautiful but harrowing, brutal story that will have you not just reaching out for your snacks but also the kleenix tissues. If anyone says to you Bambi is the only animation that will make you cry tell them to watch The Grave Of The Fireflies. This is powerful filmmaking at it's best and will make you think twice about saying animation doesn't deserve to be criticized or respected on the same par as feature films.Once you open yourself up, you will experience one of the greatest war films ever made, just ask BFI as they have it in their greatest films ever made list.

★★★★★

Paul Devine