Category: Z-View

“Strange Days” / Z-View

 

 

 

 

If you were to ask me, right now, to name my top ten favorite murder mystery movies, sci-fi movies, and love stories, one movie would make all of these lists.

Don’t believe me? OK, then ask me… Really… Ask me.  Would one of you please ask me?

Ok. Thanks.

The movie that makes all three lists is Strange DaysBet that surprised you.

 

 

 

Strange Days was made in 1995 from a story by James Cameron, a screenplay by Cameron and Jay Cocks and directed by Kathryn Bigelow.

 It stars Ralph Fiennes, Angela Bassett, Juliette Lewis, Tom Sizemore, Michael Wincott, Vincent D’Onofrio, and Glenn Plummer.

I watched Strange Days again last night and re-remembered just how much I love it and how cool it is that it works in all of the genres that I mentioned at the start of this post. I’d really like to discuss it here, but my guess is that many, if most of you haven’t seen it.

 

 

 

You see it really didn’t do gangbusters at the box office. Heck, I didn’t even see it until it came out on video.

Maybe some of you have seen it and want to talk about why you like or don’t like it.

 Maybe some of you who haven’t seen it want to learn more about it. If so, you can click HERE to see the teaser trailer, or even HERE if you want to purchase a copy for your collection.

“Strange Days” rates an A

New Dawn is a Winner

Dawn of the Dead  has one of the best opening sequences that you could ask for. It stays true to the original, even giving a nod to one of it’s most talked about scenes, and yet clearly shows us, this ain’t your dad’s zombie movie.

Remaking Dawn of the Dead  was a risk. Romero is considered the Zombie God for his trilogy and all three movies have a core following. When Night of the Living Dead was remade, it wasn’t greeted with open arms despite being a very good film. I’m happy to say that the remake is not only being critically praised [Entertainment Weekly‘s critic gave it an “A”], but kicking butt at the box office [coming in at #1]. And rightly so, since the new Dawn of the Dead is a very good film all the way around. Acting, screenplay and directing all hold up well.

Is it as good as the original Dawn of the Dead? Yeah. Maybe even better.

And make sure you sit through the credits…

Rating:

Kill Bill Disappoints

I’m a huge fan of Quentin Tarintino’s work. Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction are two of my favorite movies. From Dusk till Dawn is as well. [And yes, I know that Robert Rodriguez directed it!] I loved everything about the original trailer for “Kill Bill.” The look. The music. The stars. How could it miss?
Let me tell you how. [Minor spoilers ahead.]
“Kill Bill” starts off well enough. It begins with a scratchy, cheesy “Now For Our Feature Presentation” intro straight out of the drive-ins that I loved as a kid. There’s also the retro “Presented in Shaw-Scope” title card, the “Revenge is a dish best served cold” Klingon quote, and the Sonny Bono song, “Bang, Bang” playing over the credits. Yeah baby, Quentin was tapping in to everything that we loved about this genre from our childhood.
Then the movie starts with a bang. Literally. Uma Thurman is shot in the head and left for dead. But she’s not really dead… just in a coma for four years. And when she wakes up she must have her revenge. Great set-up.

The action is over-the-top and brutal. The first payback that we see is really well done. It has the right mix of Tarantino heightened reality, humor and action. Then we have a flashback to the hospital and this is where the movie starts to loose me. There are a couple of scenes with a red neck and Buck the orderly that just really push the envelope. And for some reason everything after that seemed truly excessive and redundant.
How many arterial sprays do we need to see? How many limbs chopped off? But before we get to that gore we have to sit through an anime cartoon [which is pretty well done but again, very gory], a boring dialogue about tea, and discussion about why Uma needs a specific man to make her sword.
When I left the theater, I was disappointed. I had been hoping to see a really fun, really exciting revenge film. To make matters even worse, we don’t get to see how everything turns out, since “Kill Bill, Volume 2” doesn’t come out until February. The funny thing is, I didn’t hate the movie. I’m not sure I even disliked it. I was disappointed… but disappointed enough not to see the rest?

I guess we’ll know in February.

“Kill Bill”

Rating:

Underworld

I saw Underworld today [which fits right in with our monster movie theme of late].Underworld tells the story of a centuries old war between vampires and werewolves. It has tons of action and effects but feels like it could have been shortened a bit. Also, with Underworld, the more you think about it, the more you find to question. It’s fun while it’s going on, but doesn’t hold up under examination. I wouldn’t recommend it to everyone, yet if you like this sort of thing, then it’s probably the sort of thing that you’ll like. ; )

On another note, the trailer for the new Texas Chainsaw Massacre played before Underworld. I haven’t seen the orginal in years [and didn’t really care for it when I saw it], but this remake looks interesting… As does Gothica with Halle Berry [both of which also fit our continuing horro theme].
“Underworld” rates a C

A Real Hardcase

Have you heard of Dan Simmons?

Simmons‘ first published story, “The River Styx Runs Upstream,” won the Rod Serling Memorial Award. His first novel, Song of Kali, won the World Fantasy Award. His first horror novel, Carrion Comfort, won the Bram Stoker Award. His first science fiction novel, Hyperion, won the Hugo Award.

Even with all the awards, I was only vaguely familiar with his work. I don’t read fantasy, and very little science fiction or horror. I do love a hardboiled thriller though! You know, the kind written by Vachss, or Izzi, Hunter, or Stark… or Simmons. That’s right! With one book, Simmons has jumped to the top of the list!

Joe Kurtz was a PI… before he was an ex-con. See he killed a man, a couple of men actually. They’d murdered his girl and unborn child. While it’s pretty reasonable to me that he threw one of ’em off a six story building, the jury didn’t see it that way.

Now, out of prison after eleven-and-a-half years…

…you’d think things would be looking up for Kurtz. You’d be wrong. Too many people want him dead…

Hardcase is the best novel that I’ve read this year [tied with Jack Kelly‘s Line of Sight]. For more about Hardcase, click here.

Ever heard of Dan Simmons?

My prediction is that you will. But remember that you FIRST heard about him here!

Hardcase rates an A+

The Mechanic

Charles Bronson had a long career staring and co-staring in a bunch of great movies. “The Dirty Dozen.” “The Magnificent Seven.” “Death Wish.” “Hard Times.” One of my personal favorites is “The Mechanic.”

Never heard of it? Well, it’s coming out on dvd on October 8th and you owe it to yourself to at least check it out.

Bronson is a hit man… perhaps the best in the business. If he takes a job, the target is as good as dead. Jan Michael Vincent is the son of a mafioso who becomes Bronson‘s protoge… not knowing that Bronson has recently murdered his father…

The Mechanic” was directed by Michael Winner [who also directed Bronson in “Death Wish“] with a flair for action without compromising the story. [The opening scene shows Bronson setting up a hit and goes on for several minutes without a word of dialogue!] And although I won’t give it away, be prepared for a great “surprise” ending!

I’m looking forward to adding “The Mechanic” to my dvd collection. Watch it once, and odds are you will too!

The Mechanic” rates an A

The Signs are There

The signs were all there.

M. Night Shyamalan had already written and directed the oh-so-cool “Sixth Sense” and the well done “Unbreakable.” Mel Gibson and Joaquin Phoenix were set to co-star. M. Night was back as writer and director. The trailers were full of suspense, and left you wanting more. Yeah, the signs were all in place for a winner.

But you never know.

I saw “Signs” yesterday and it’s been on my mind constantly since. The story does involve aliens.. but probably not in the way that you’re expecting. It’s as much about family, redemption, and faith as it is aliens… and it is scaryvery scary at times! But it will also make you laugh, move you to the verge of tears, and more than likely leave you feeling very happy for seeing it.

This is my favorite movie of the year thus far. It rates a solid “A.” I think you’ll enjoy it to because…

… the signs are all there!

Rating:

Training Day Lives Up to Hype

I finally got an opportunity to see “Training Day” — what a powerful movie. No doubt, if you’re a movie fan, you’ve heard the hype. This is one movie that lives up to it.

Denzel Washington turns in a truly Oscar-worthy performance (his best yet, in my humble opinion). Ethan Hawke is excellent as well. While this movie isn’t for everyone, it is for my money one of the best movies that I’ve seen in months.

If you’ve seen it, I’d love to hear your thoughts… if you haven’t, consider it on your next trip to the video store. As for me, this baby is gonna end up in my personal collection!

“Training Day” rates an A+

Rating:

Line of Sight

“One of the rules… you don’t mess with married women. It’s tempting, sure. Forbidden fruit. He got, I want. But you’re only buying trouble and there’s enough trouble to be had for nothing.”

Ray Dolan finds out just how much trouble can be had, when his infatuation with a married woman turns to murder. Line of Sight by Jack Kelly is one of the best books that I’ve read in a long time. If you’re a fan of crime writers such as Andrew Vachss, James M. Cain, Jim Thompson, Frank Miller and Walter Mosely or if you love film noir… movies like “Double Indemnity,” “Body Heat,” and “Out of the Past” then you’re going to love this book. You can read more about it by clicking [Here] or on the picture to the left. (And ya gotta love the novel’s cover!)

Line of Sight rates an “A+”
Rating: