Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning

Chamber music for fists, feet, and fluorescent lights. It’s as if Gaspar Noe were a genre director on contract with Menahem Golan in the late 1980s. The story owes royalty payments to the estate of Philip K. Dick, but it’s enhanced by enthralling NC-17 action beats, a seamy and fully staffed R-rated titty bar, and an overall sense of existential despair thick enough to choke on. Watching it feels a little like smelling a T-shirt soaked in blood, sweat, and testosterone. Recommended.

Killer Joe


As the final scene cut to black and the end credits appeared, accompanied by the ridiculous “Strokin'” by Clarence Carter, Killer Joe made me laugh harder than anything I saw last year, which is quite an accomplishment given that a more reasonable (not to mention easily defensible) response to its most over-the-top moments would be to recoil in disgust. If the film didn’t read in part as a knowing and deliberate parody of the literature of the American poverty belt — think of it as a demented three-way involving Tennessee Williams, William Faulkner, and Jim Thompson — I’d likely find it psychotic.

Continue reading


One of the most powerful moments in Scarface is the culmination of a violent, perfectly judged sequence of events crafted for maximum impact by screenwriter Oliver Stone and staged with ferocious efficiency by director Brian De Palma. It takes place at the end of a night when Al Pacino’s Cuban gangster, a feisty little hard-on named Tony Montana, has survived an attempt on his life that left him with a bullet in his shoulder. He has overseen the execution of his boss, who was behind the hit. He has shot dead a corrupt cop who was extorting his cash and favours. And he has just been upstairs to collect from between satin sheets his boss’s woman, a sleek blonde dressed in white who is his prize. The camera zooms out from a medium close-up on Pacino’s face as, still bleeding, arm in a sling, exhaustion writ large across his face, Tony Montana peers through 20-foot-tall glass windows, staring dumbly into a Giorgio Moroder sunrise as an advertising blimp floats over the water, its pithy slogan an empty promise of greatness yet to come: “The World Is Yours….”

Continue reading

I Spit on Your Grave

Conceived and executed in the cool, desaturated style of a Saw movie, this remake is decidedly calculated. Its Jennifer Hills (Sarah Butler) is again a big-city writer roughing it in the country, but she’s a contemporary woman: instead of spending the day lounging in a hammock or on a rowboat, she’ll be out jogging in the morning and enjoying a glass of red wine in the evening.

Continue reading

I Spit on Your Grave

Rape-revenge is the basest of movie formulas. What amounts to a social contract exists with the audience: during the first half of the film, you will experience the sadistic, brutal, misogynistic sexual abuse of an innocent, probably naïve young woman at the hands of cavalier thugs. And during the second half of the film, you will see this broken woman–this survivor–pull herself together long enough to exact a terrible revenge on those who wronged her.

Continue reading



Jackass 3D

Johnny Knoxville in <em>Jackass 3D</em>
This merry band of clowns, physical comedians each and every one, may have peaked with the outrageous, hilarious Jackass Number Two, the first installment in the popular TV/DVD/theatrical franchise to reckon with Father Time. The boys are even older here, of course, but Jackass 3D doesn’t feel quite as candid or revealing as the previous installment. Instead, it goes straight for the gross-out — I don’t recall Jackass ever being so fixated on bodily secretions and excretions as it is here. (They shit! They sweat! They piss! On each other!)

Continue reading


Franco Nero in <em>Django</em>

When Django, the title character and hero of director Sergio Corbucci’s seminal spaghetti western, first appears on screen, he’s slogging on foot through mud, dragging a coffin behind him. The image is evocative and challenging. In classic American films, western heroes had generally been dignified cowboy types saddled up on strong horses. They were lawmen or simple ranchers with a code of honor. They rode into town in a cloud of dust and plainspoken righteousness backed up by a sharp eye and a six-shooter, and they stood for the endurance of traditional values on a wild frontier.

Django thinks those guys were pussies.

Read the full review at FilmFreakCentral.