Tumblr is where tens of millions of creative people around the world share and follow the things they love.Sign up to find more cool stuff to follow
Jillian Michaels Body Revolution - At Quick Glance, I'm Cool With It
Had a chance to preview Jillian Michael’s Body Revolution this week. And (pleasant surprise) it wasn’t that bad! (I was prepared to hate it, lol).
A TON of you have asked me for my thoughts on the program, and I haven’t been able to answer because I’d never seen or tried it. While I didn’t do all 15 DVD’s (nor am I doing the full program), I did get a chance to try 2 and browse through the rest, to see if it was something I’d recommend. And it totally is… for beginners to intermediates who already like Jillian. (advanced peeps might like it too, specifically if you’re not used to strength, plyometric and metabolic training).
Cannibal Holocaust: The Grindhouse Edition Review
Being ill, I have fallen behind on my blog writing duties, but am now going to come at it with full force, starting with something a little different: a DVD review. This DVD release I will be looking at is the seminal cult classic, Cannibal Holocaust.
I won’t spend too much time looking at the plot of Ruggero Deodato’s 1980 cannibal paradigm (I say this, yet I know I will). Instead I will mainly focus on the most definitive release of the obscure piece, the Grindhouse Releasing 2-Disc Deluxe Edition. Before looking at what makes this release so ‘deluxe’, I’d better give the uninitiated a quick rundown on the film.
Cannibal Holocaust is one of the first found-footage films (examples you may know; Blair Witch Project, Cloverfield; Paranormal Activity). The first half of the film centres around a college professor leading an expedition to try and find a lost documentary crew, who went missing in the Amazon basin while filming a piece on the local cannibal tribes. Establishing the Amazon as a dangerous place and presenting us with some gratuitous animal cruelty, tear-inducing sexual assaults…
You don’t want to know what he is about to do with that wooden dildo…
… and just enough story and nudity to get us along, the explorers discover the documentary crews remains and film cans that they had shot. The film then completely changes tone by switching the scene to modern (circa-1979) New York, where the professor is tasked with the duty of overseeing the editing of the found footage into something broadcast-able. While viewing back the footage, we see that the group were not actually documenting savage situations, but staging the situations for the camera, at the expense of anyone who was needed in their shot.
The film is quite a good portrayal of the dangers of sensationalist media in the modern day, with these pure bred all-Americans feeding the media horror machine. It is impossible not to find this film relevant, even 30 plus years later. The film is notoriously controversial, though not for its lambasting of our TV culture, or its disturbingly realistic violence and horror, but for its actually real animal killings…
Even with Google Safe Search off, this is the closest image to animal violence I found. There is a God.
It is dependent on the viewer how they take the film, but unlike a lot of satire, it is very easy to dismiss this as pure exploitation owing to the genres reputation. You could watch this and think it is a pure horror film that tries to go over the line, or you can look at it like a film taking pot-shots at modern media and its predisposition to associate violence and scares with ratings. I won’t get into this too much here as it is a debate that has gone on for a long time, but to me, the film is a piece of art and must be taken as it is, warts and all. Indeed, director Deodato stated in an interview with short-lived cult film show Shock Movie Massacre that the film was written as a response to the violence his children were watching every night on the news. Even if he came up with this line after the fact, it is still an unabashedly good point. The only thing about the film that distressed me on a level beyond normal cinematic bounds (sexual violence is nothing unusual, even The Green Mile has some in it) was the animal violence. If done nowadays, this violence wouldn’t have been committed. The film seems to have been taken out of context and attacked under guise of this, when perhaps it was just another reason people wanted to attack it. The film was made during the Mondo Cane stage of Italian Cinema, which was notorious for such acts. People seem to forget that Apocalypse Now very vividly features a cow being slaughtered. Again, it’s all context. I don’t agree with it, but it is the film as it was made in the way films were made in that era. Just like Disney can never undo Song Of The South, Cannibal Holocaust can never undo its animal violence.
It’s ok, Gizmo. We’re moving on from the hard stuff now.
I first heard about the film due to an article by disgraced and discontinued Dark Side magazine (which I always loved and was horribly disappointed to find had gone under just as I moved to the UK and could readily buy it) in an article outlining the cuts to the piece. The film has been outright banned in a lot of countries, but as censorship laws (rightfully) slacken, Cannibal Holocaust began making its comeback to the secondary (DVD) market, in a form other than bootleg videos. Just getting into the more grotesque side of horror films, I took the challenge of trying to find an uncut version of this film. After some trying, I eventually got a hold of some obscure German release that was film only and set me back a good £35, which even at the time was a lot of a DVD.
That’s the culprit! Lovely looking cover art though.
To my chagrin, about a year after I spent a lot of time and money getting a hold of the film, Grindhouse Releasing (a company partially owned by Sylvester Stallone’s son. No joke) released a definitive edition of the film. Now, after only about 900 words ‘quickly’ looking at the film itself, I will take a look at the release of all releases of the film. It is worthwhile to take note that the version I am reviewing is out of print (111,111 copies, allegedly), but there appears to be another 2-disc release by the same company, so I’d hazard a guess it is the same but repackaged.
So, the film itself. As with most older films, it is fairly grainy and rough looking, which works perfectly for a film like this, especially since a good third of the film is grainy and deteriorated 16mm footage. The sound also seems in line with what you’d expect from a film this old. For some reason I am still not 100% clear on, most Italian films are completely dubbed, even if the actors were speaking English, so that slight disassociation between the characters and their voices will always exist. All in all, it was fine too. There is an option to watch the film without the animal violence, which I think is a very tactful feature. I personally feel that taking out the violence can lessen the negative impact of the film and may make some people miss the point and take it as another gore flick, but it’s a great option.
Nothing to see here, folks.
Now the interesting part of things (for a film geek like me, anyway), the special features!
The commentary with Deodato and star Robert Kerman makes for an interesting listen. Deodato’s English is a bit poor at times, but for the most part, he comes across as a sensible, intelligent man, providing insight and explaining a lot of what he was doing with the film. Kerman, on the other hand, who has probably had to deal with years of persecution for his role in the film, uses the commentary as a means to try vindicate himself from the animal violence. It’s almost hilarious to watch him try and take down Deodato at every chance he can in attempts to make sure people know he didn’t agree with aspects of the film. You can make up your own mind, but Deodato actually comes off the better for this as he remains calm and rational (though I do wonder if he understood what Kerman was saying to him). There is selected on-camera sections of the commentary, which is pointless as we witness two men sitting watching the film, mainly with long pauses between conversation. Don’t bother yourself with this if you’ve already listened to the commentary, as it is the same audio, just with video.
Also found on this disc that is worth mentioning is the full version of the film-within-a-film, The Last Road To Hell. This mini-film is documentary footage and quite startling, though not all that different than the similarly tough one featured in the film itself.
Disc 2 provides the pièce de résistance, The Making Of Cannibal Holocaust. This hour long documentary is subtitled and very interesting. I’ll be honest, I fell asleep the first time I watched it, but for the non-narcoleptics out there, it goes behind the scenes with footage and stills of the production crew, finally getting past the stigma of the animals and focusing on the film itself. A treasure and informative.
Also very informative are the interviews, but the stand out of them all is Gabriel Yorke (who plays the filmmaker Alan Yates in the film). It’s long, informative and funny. He doesn’t dwell on trying to make himself look better as Kerman does, but instead we get the insights of a man who was a young actor swept into an insane grindhouse flick. He tells a fantastic story of his co-star wanting to have sex with him before they filmed an upcoming sex scene, to make it more natural for them both. He declined, as he had a girlfriend at the time, and says the actress never forgave him for the slight for the rest of the shoot.
The last extra I want to note is the Necrophagia ‘Cannibal Holocaust’ music video. The song: rubbish. The music video: even more rubbish. Jim Van Bebber, director of the Charles Manson film The Manson family directed the video, which isn’t that bad a film. It’s even a bit crazy and wild. This music video is such toss that you’d swear one of the bands mums taped it on the home camcorder, then put it through Movie Maker, inserting some Cannibal Holocaust clips, and were all chuffed with what they did on their own.
There are some other bits and bobs I am glazing over on the discs (trailers, stills, etc) but I have mentioned what I think are the main things to enjoy. Cannibal Holocaust is not an easy film in any sense of the word. I have watched it a lot of times and find new layers all the time. The animal violence is definitely gratuitous, the scenes in New York date horribly, and the film lets down its side by introducing the ham-fisted voice over ‘I wonder who the real cannibals are ’ into a film with no other VO but this. With that said, this film, like so many before and so many after it, is important in that it does push our boundaries, test our taboos, poke our own views on right and wrong and get us to reevaluate our morals in an age where beheadings can be readily found online. This film will not sit well with a majority audience, but it is to the individual and what the draw from it that really matters.
Plus there’s a porn star in it.
Bet you thought it was going to be a woman. Now stare at the moustache!
If you want to find out more about Cannibal Holocaust, it has a very detailed and insightful Wikipedia entry that has a full history of its legal issues and controversies here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cannibal_Holocaust
DVD Watch/Nostalgia Post: Moesha: Season One
DVD Watch/Nostalgia Post: Moesha: Season One
When I was a young girl Moesha was to me what Full House was to others. When I looked at the character of Moesha and how she interacted with her family I could see myself in her. Also, it was sort of uplifting to see a fairly dark-skinned, natural hair wearing black teenager being the star of the show. While I was in England I was having a bit of nostalgia and started watching whatever clips I could find on YouTube, so I was very surprised when I saw when season one of the show had finally been released on DVD. So how is the first season of Moesha and does it still hold up today?
Moesha tells the story of fifteen/sixteen-year-old Moesha Mitchell and her day to day like with her father,Frank, younger brother, Myles, and new step-mother, Dee. One of the things that I really enjoy about this show is that it portrays a blended family in a very genuine way. The older Moesha is reluctant to let Dee into her life, after taking care of her family for the past three years since the death of her biological mother, Moesha is not looking for someone to replace the mother she lost. The episodes with Moesha and Dee are some of the best because they really get to the heart of the show “Mother’s Day” was an especially good one. It showed that while Moesha likes Dee and can allow her a place in the family, she’s not her mother. Moesha’s relationship with her other family members is equally both heartfelt and entertaining. They seem like a real family.
The other supporting characters Hakeem, Kim, Niecy and Andell all have really good comedic timing and add something fun to the show. I especially enjoy Kim Parker played by Countess Vaughn because she can handle all the silliness of Kim’s character as well as play serious.
While dated, the humor in the show still lasted for me. While this is a show with a majority black-cast, it’s not a “black show.” It tackles universal issues and the personal problems in Moesha’s life are not solely those of an African-American female.
Final Thoughts: Moesha is dated in a lot of ways, the fashion, the music, the brands and even some of the jokes. However, it holds strong as the issues and plot are relatable even now. I enjoyed that even in just the first season (14 Episodes) the show tackled: heartbreak, sex, dead parents, interracial relationships and poverty. It is certainly something to check out and Brandy’s acting, while a little flat at times, portrays exactly what it needs to 90% of the time. So I give, Moesha: Season One a solid B+.
Also, so many famous black celebs show up in the first season, it took me back…way back! :3 RIP Bernie Mac.
From The Archive: Saturday Night Fever - DVD Review
Much like the oft-parodied shower scene in Psycho, the sight of Travolta’s Tony Manero striding onto a flashing dancefloor, a monochrome peacock in black shirt and white suit, has become so firmly entrenched in the pop culture firmament that it’s easy to forget there’s almost two hours of gritty working class torment leading up to that one unforgettable image.
Remove cheesy nostalgia from the equation and, far from being some outdated dance movie that exists only to inspire fancy dress costumes at student parties around the world, Saturday Night Fever is revealed as a raw, angry movie that throbs with the repressed menace of New York in the late 70s. Indeed, the scenes immediately following that famous boogie are some of the darkest in the film, positively seething with bitterness, despair, date rape and death.
Profane and occasionally even profound, Saturday Night Fever’s theme of finding hedonistic release from the trials of being poor and pissed-off in Brooklyn is actually closer in tone to the likes of Taxi Driver and Midnight Cowboy than popular perception would have you to believe. “You don’t f**k the future”, advises Tony’s decently avuncular boss, “The future f**ks you. It catches up with you, and f**ks you if you ain’t prepared.” It’s a prescient exchange that echoes through the movie as Tony wrestles with his existential crisis.
That’s why it’s a shame that this 30th anniversary set, which could have made a strong case for the film’s worth as a seminal urban drama, often seems more interested in easy kitsch than artistic credibility. Amid the winking memories of polyester shirts and platform shoes, Bee Gee Robin Gibb proclaims that “the legacy of the film is the music”. He’s technically correct, but his shameless self-serving declaration typifies the way the drama of the piece is shunted aside in favour of upbeat recollections of the nifty tunes.
John Badham’s commentary from the 2002 DVD release still graces the first disc and, while there are some lengthy pauses, it’s here that you’ll find the dissection of story and character. The new material is where opportunities have been missed, not least in the total absence of a certain Mr Travolta. A three minute puff piece in which everyone agrees he’s the greatest human being ever is no substitute for insight from the man himself. This is, after all, the movie that took him from TV hunk to bona fide movie star and earned him an Oscar nomination. As the whole film swaggers in time with his performance, celebrating the anniversary without his unique perspective feels rather hollow.
Instead we get a sprinkling of short and fluffy featurettes, none of which delve too deeply into the actual movie and instead further the myth that Saturday Night Fever’s lasting value lies in wide collars and funky moves. The inclusion of tacky disco lessons and an awful “interactive” dancing game sadly confirms the suspicion that this set is designed more for the fancy dress crowd than those interested in the film itself.
Originally published in DVD Review #108, October 2007
DVD review: Senna
Formula One motor-racing is probably one of the most Marmite sports of all time; people either love it or hate it. But even if you’re of the opinion that despite the speeds the cars reach, there’s nothing exciting about watching a bunch of vehicles drive round and round and round for a couple of hours, the story of Brazilian driver Ayrton Senna might win you over.
This documentary picks up Senna’s story as he made the transition from go-karting to Formula One in 1984. He quickly moved up the grid, proving himself to be a natural talent behind a wheel.
It then focuses on his relationship with fellow driver Alain Prost; the pair developed a remarkable competitive spirit between one another, one that would cause controversy both on and off the racing circuit..
Teen Wolf S2 DVD Review
So my good friend Melissa over at Small Screen Scoop got a chance to review the Teen Wolf S2 DVD set. I’m a big fan of not only making credit very obvious when someone works so hard on a review (mentioning their name, the website, etc and doing so clearly) but also in sending you back to the original website to read the review.
See, with websites like Small Screen Scoop, viewing numbers on articles matter. The more views, the more they see that people are interested in reading about that show. And the more likelihood that we’ll continue to get awesome reviews, recaps, and possibly some kickass interviews in the future.
So if the italicized bit intrigues you, please click the read more at the end to read this awesome review on the site it was posted.
It’s almost summer time and for MTV viewers that means it’s almost time to head back to Beacon Hills and check in on some werewolves. That’s right, kids. Teen Wolf Season 3 starts in just a few weeks! But perhaps you’ve forgotten what those crazy kids are up to? The best way to catch up is….
Teen Wolf cast in the woods. Looking pretty. And a bit confused?
The Teen Wolf Season 2 DVD! Check out my review after the jump.
For those who don’t follow me on Twitter (why? I need love! Follow @Serrae!) I am a very big fan of Teen Wolf. It’s just a smart and fun show, and thankfully nothing at all like the movie (minus some names and some clever t-shirts). I love the movie, so remaking that would have been awful. Season 2 ramped up the intensity. There were new creatures, Stiles and Derek scenes to send the fandom into a tizzy, lacrosse games, shirtlessness, gay bars, Alpha Packs, Werewolf Makeovers. I mean… the season was good stuff. But the fun part of any DVD would be the special features, and the fine folks at MTV have packed this set full of them. Here they are (except for any commentary or standard alternate/extended/deleted scenes)…