Director: Riley Stearns (2014)
Starring: Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Leland Orser, Lance Reddick
Find it: IMDB
A more serious version of that episode of The Simpsons in which Homer joins a cult and has to be de-programmed by Marge and Reverend Lovejoy. Well, slightly more serious anyway. Starring the always awesome Mary Elizabeth Winstead and That Guy actor Leland Orser, Faults is actually very funny also.
Their daughter apparently brainwashed by a mysterious cult named 'Faults', a pair of worried parents enlist disgraced cult expert and de-programmer Ansel (Orser) to help the girl see sense. Grabbed from the street, tied up and thrown in the back of a van, Claire (Winstead) is smuggled away to a quiet motel room where Ansel plans to spend the next few days undoing Faults' influence. We're soon left wondering, however, just who is in charge around here. Hint: probably not Ansel.
Faultlessly (geddit) acted, well-written and enjoyably surreal in places, Stearns' directorial debut is a fine piece of darkly humorous food for thought. Its work with Ansel is particularly impressive; a character who starts off reprehensible and pathetic before transforming before us into a figure both sympathetic and oddly likeable. Very well done to Winstead too, giving a subtle and nuanced performance which manages to be believable both in vulnerability and later strength. Lance Reddick also appears periodically, serving to boost the cool quotient even more.
Playing at Film4 Frightfest, Faults was one of the festival's more interesting releases - not horror, nor even really a thriller, with minimal violence and gore, it nevertheless emerged as one of the weekend's best. Sure, it's a little slow and even mildly predictable in places, but we can forgive its minor faults (get it!) when everything else is so well done.
Director: Jordan Rubin (2014)
Starring: Lexi Atkins, Rachel Melvin, Cortney Palm, Robert R. Shafer
Find it: IMDB
I hope you like 'beaver' jokes, because you'll be hearing a lot of them. Recovering from one of their number's bad breakup, a group of girls take off to a relative's cabin in the woods for a weekend of boozing, bitching and setting the world to rights. What they don't count on is the arrival of two groups of uninvited guests - their dipshit boyfriends and the titular zombeavers; zombie beavers.
Yeah, zombie beavers in a movie that is (a) not a fake trailer, and (b) stretched out to feature length.
The plot, as it is, sees zombified beavers attack when a pair of careless truckers accidentally dump toxic waste in a river teeming with the little fluffy bastards. What follows is like American Pie crossed with Cabin Fever, complete with all of the stupid juvenile humour that entails. Expect, then, gratuitous nudity, an obsession with lesbians, brainless behaviour and endless 'beaver' gags. YES, I GET IT, BEAVER IS A EUPHEMISM FOR 'VAGINA'. Robert R. Shafer pops up to offer the film some of its few genuinely amusing jokes and the kids do die pretty horribly, but it's an otherwise worthless affair.
The beavers themselves look intentionally horrible and shoddy, but the joke is lost in translation by the film also being (unintentionally) horrible and shoddy. It's like the new Grindhouse movement all over again - you have to be very good to pull off a great bad movie, and Zombieavers is just a bad movie. Honestly, if it were between watching this again and Mrs. Brown's Boys D'Movie, I would give serious thought to the latter...
In spite of any good intentions it may have had, Zombeavers is a wretched mess. Unfunny, irritating and badly made (both purposefully and not) it's a dam waste of time.
Director: Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller (2005)
Starring: Bruce Willis, Jessica Alba, Mickey Rourke
Find it: IMDB
One of the original 'good' comic book movies, coming from a time when most adaptations were Catwoman, Daredevil and Sam Raimi Spider-Men, created when Frank Miller was still a respectable name in comics and before Robert Rodriguez became a parody of himself. With its sequel finally inbound, what better time to pay a return visit to Sin City?
As before, Bruce Willis and Mickey Rourke's stories remain the best, while Clive Owen handles the filler in the middle just fine. It's the sort of movie in which every single man wears a leather trenchcoat, speaks like they've been gargling broken glass and talks... well, just like a Frank Miller character. The women, meanwhile, are either prostitutes, strippers or women of other professions who just so happen to act exactly like prostitutes and strippers. With Clive Owen referring to Rosario Dawson as a 'Valkyrie', hookers dressed like Zorro and half the cast wearing Converse, it's like a fifteen-year old's approximation of 'cool', filtered through Miller, Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino. Not that there's anything wrong with that.
An exercise in reproducing a comic book as faithfully and literally as possible, Sin City is a resounding success. It's aged surprisingly well, and if The Spirit hadn't so completely stunk, I wouldn't have been surprised to see a whole slew of imitators follow it. Willis and Rourke are fantastic as the honest cop and the honorable thug, respectively, while Owen isn't bad as Dwight (to be played by the altogether better Josh Brolin in the sequel), with a whole host of great performances filling out the ranks. Nick Stahl and Elijah Wood are the best of the bunch, although there's something for everyone, from Rosario Dawson to Jessica Alba, Michael Madsen and Benicio Del Toro, to name a few.
Sin City is unashamedly daft, full of men jumping off rooftops like Batman and explosions which merely blow people over rather than, you know, up. Taken seriously, it's quite terrible and probably a little offensive. Viewed in the spirit (pun unintended - that's not an encouragement to watch Frank Miller's awful movie), it's a gleeful embodiment of Frank Miller's work at its gritty, pulped best.