6 - Volcanic
5 - Blistering
4 - Hot
3 - Smolder
2 - Room Temperature
1 - Fizzled
0 - Extinguished

A - Multiple Viewing Possibilities
B - Deserves Another Look
C - Once Should Suffice


With Julian West, Sybille Schmitz
Directed by Carl Dreyer
This 1931 black & white classic tells a dark and innovative tale of vampires, making full use of dissolve techniques, shadows and non-visual scares and tension. The story follows a young man's discovery of dark goings on, when he finds an unconscious girl on the road who was attacked by a vampire in the shape of an old woman. Like
Nosferatu and The Cabinet Of Doctor Caligari, this landmark film may be extremely dated, but still holds a lot of intrigue and atmosphere.
4 / B
- PB

VAN WILDER - Party Liaison
With Ryan Reynolds, Tara Reid, Tim Matheson, Kal Penn
Directed by Walt Becker
Van Wilder is a campus hero who doesn't seem to want to leave. His wealthy, oblivious father discovers Van should've graduated years ago, so he cuts off his funding. Van is cool, smug and comically suave, an act Reynolds has virtually perfected in both TV- and film roles aimed at the 20-somethings. The man believes he is a part of the architecture so he jumps into action (with his pals and Indian exchange student assistant) to raise funds for his courses. An aspiring journalist gets the job to write a story on him. Obviously her boyfriend is a dick, and obviously she doesn't like the arrogant Van - but for how long? Along the way Van organizes some parties with some hilarious, sexual, lavatorial and gross-out scenes littering the way to its predictable conclusion. Still, it's fun, light hearted and may be a little sick in parts for some viewers who gag easily. Ol' Tim Matheson must have had some
Animal House flashbacks during his brief time on the set...
4 / B
- PB

With David Boreanaz, Denise Richards, Marley Shelton
Directed by Jamie Blanks
Guys, give it up already! The fact that I sat predicting this "slasher" bomb from start to finish is not the biggest crime. It's the fact that they didn't even try to throw a new angle in there. A nerdy kid was terrorized at school at a Valentine's dance. One Valentine's Day, many years later, the nasty ones start showing up dead, each getting a threatening (but slightly innovative) card. Ooh, who could it be? Does anyone even care? The frat-brat, little princess & jock characters are all assholes and the music choice at the party finale simply doesn't fit their profile - the tunes, (including Deftones) is in fact the film's only highlight, while it seems as if Ms. Starship Troopers & Once-Bond-Girl's career is really slipping. I guess these saps hadn't seen (or heard of) that early 80's slasher flick, My Bloody Valentine, otherwise they wouldn't have bothered…Michael Myers, Leatherface, Jason Voorhees and Freddy Krueger will never get topped - yes, not even that sloppy franchise known as
Scream…Like I said, give it up!
1 / C
- PB

With Tom Cruise, Cameron Diaz, Penelopč Cruz
Directed by Cameron Crowe
Based on a French film, the man who brought us
Almost Famous and Jerry Maguire throws one hell of a curve ball at us. I'm so glad the trailer doesn't give away too much, as I won't. While clues are sprinkled around, only if you're not already sucked into the film's intrigue will you decipher leads to figure out exactly what the hell's going on. Cruise is a good looking, rich and successful young man who inherited his father's publishing empire. His unwillingness to commit catches up with him as a regular fling gets unstable on his ass, leading to tragedy - just as he meets the woman of his dreams. From here we're taken on a great trip blurring the line between reality and fantasy, spinning our lead's life and psyche more than once around. An amazing film surpassing any expectations you might have by looking at the poster or seeing the trailer ie., the way it ought to be.
5 / B
- PB

With Reese Witherspoon, Gabriel Byrne, Rhys Ifans, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Jim Broadbent, Bob Hoskins, Eileen Atkins
Directed by Mira Nair
Nothing to do with the magazine, this period piece set in the early 1800s sees Reese Witherspoon taking the role of Becky Sharpe, a young determined girl born into a poor family with a painter father, who is determined to climb the social ladder when she's orphaned. Her French language- and piano skills secure her jobs as governess in many wealthy households as she tries to spot a husband of quality. No pushover, she's an independent woman with a determined mind and spirit. The colourful people she encounters vary from generous and funny to mad, annoying, cruel and conscienceless in a world where the chasm between poor and wealthy is immense. The fun and frivolity take a dive when war rips things apart. Heavily pregnant at the time, Witherspoon's belly shows even when they try to disguise it. With the Jane Austen-type costume drama elements (plus a sense of humour),
Vanity Fair is the kind of movie that takes its viewer through a range of emotions without sacrificing entertainment.
4 / B
- PB

With Cate Blanchett, Gerard McSorley
Directed by Joel Schumacher
The flack Schumacher got for his campified, neon drenched and cheesy
Batman films seemed as though his career could be ruined. But he bounced back with impressive smaller projects like Tigerland and Phone Booth (both featuring Colin Farrell). In this sometimes-taxing non-flash biopic, Schumacher chose the subject of Irish journalist Veronica Guerin who took it upon herself to expose the drug dealers who were cashing in on the misery of addict kids. This put her and her family's lives in danger and ultimately cost her that. But she became a folk heroine who made a real change. An engaging film with a fine performance from Blanchett. The film was produced by big budget guy, Jerry Bruckheimer. Look out for the Colin Farrell cameo.
DVD includes a making of documentary, commentary track, deleted scenes and footage of Guerin speaking at the committee.
4 / C
- PB

VELVET GOLDMINE (in Afrikaans)
Met Christian Bale, Ewan McGregor, Toni Colette, Jonathan Rhys-Myers, Eddie Izzard
Regisseur: Todd Haynes
Na een van Haynes se eerste opspraakwekkende rolprente, Poison, het die we^reld besef dis 'n regisseur om dop te hou. Met Velvet Goldmine word die Glam Rock era van die 70er jare met flambojante glans en styl herleef. Brian Slade is die rock ster in die middel van die gewarboel gevul met musiek, seks, geld, mag, dwelms en elke vorm van dekadensie denkbaar. Die sneeubal effek van hierdie warrelwind lei egter tot 'n reklame foefie wat Slade van die toneel laat verdwyn. Ons kontak met die verlede is Arthur Stewart, 'n joernalis wat eerstehands die era beleef het en 'n artikel skryf oor sy held van 'n dekade tevore. Die outentiekheid van die mode en styl van die tyd, saam met die musiek skep 'n geloofwaardige realiteit, al speel dit af soos 'n sprokie. Hartstog en emosie ken ook geen perke in hierdie oordosis vir die sinne nie. Die gay elemente is smaaklik hanteer terwyl ek voel dat 'n uit en uit gay-etiket dit 'n kleiner gehoor sal gee as wat dit verdien. Die energie en viering van jeug het natuurlik ook sy ondergang soos enige oorbodigheid kan lei tot die verlies van beheer. Met heelwat verwysings na ware Glam helde soos David Bowie en meer omstrede rockers soos Iggy Pop, het Haynes daarin geslaag om nie net 'n genotvolle musiekblyspel te skep nie, maar ook 'n emosionele drama wat al in werklikheid gebeur het en nog steeds kan.
5 / A
- PB

With Taku Sacaguchi, Hideo Sakaki, Kenji Matsudo, Yukihito Tanikado, Takahiro, Katayama
Directed by Ryuhei Kitamura
This brilliant piece of Japanese horror-action cinema was put together by director Kitamura and his now regular cast back in 1999. If this information wasn't given, you would have thought it was a current film. An escaped prisoner's rendezvous with a doublecrossing pick-up leads to a bloodbath in the woods. These woods just happen to house the 444th of the 666 gates of hell. Whatever dies here, is resurrected and lusting for the kill. The woods are a murdered Yakuza dumping ground, who claw their way from the shallow graves - many with guns! The violent, well-executed action is also counteracted with a crazy sense of humour that doesn't detract from the excitement or the unfolding mystery of the story where two forces collide. Kitamura wanted to resurrect the Japanese swordfighting movie and tried to do this with modern elements. He succeeded in creating a bloody entertaining ride with a limited budget, but a lot of creativity. Bonus features include a Making Of documentary, interview with the editor, plus a mini movie "Nervous".
5 / A
- PB

THE VERVE - This Is Music: The Singles 92-98
In the whole
Oasis-Blur-Britpop wave, The Verve just seemed a little less commercial and darker than the rest. Their music videos were usually simple affairs, nothing over-elaborate (except for at least one). It ranges from their older more trippy days where they all still had long hair to the later shorter mop-tops. This DVD collection contains 13 clips, tracks like the standout landmarks of Bitter Sweet Symphony, Sonnet, The Drugs Don't Work and Lucky Man (in a UK & US version). Others include This Is Music, Slide Away, History, She's A Superstar, Blue and Gravity Grave. True to expectations there are no extras, except for two audio tracks, This Could Be The Moment and Monte Carlo. These guys are one of the few pop-related '90s sounds you can actually fall back on without retching.
4 / B
- PB

With Audrey Tautou, Gaspard Ulliel, Jean-Pierre Becker, Dominique Bettenfeld
Directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet
The immensely talented director of
Delicatessen, Alien Resurrection and Amelie tackles this huge love story with gusto. A young French girl's love is sent off to war, where he and a number of other troops are dumped from the trenches into no-man's land between the two enemy factions (for attempting to get sent home by self inflicted hand wounds). The elaborate tale unfolds in bits and pieces as she investigates, trying to either track him down or find closure in proof that he is dead. In an epic sweep and fantastic visual perspectives as well as humour, Jeunet created a lovely film with a magical glow and true heart.
6 / B
- PB

With James Woods, Sonja Smits, Deborah Harry, Peter Dvorsky, Les Carlson, Sonja Smits
Cronenberg's stories are always such great works of originality. Here he takes his biological obsession into the electronic realm. A sleazy cable channel executive, looking for more and more controversial material to stay ahead of the exploitation pack, encounters a bootleg tape of a broadcast that seems to be snuff-like torture material. He becomes obsessed with it and after repetitive viewing it starts to affect his mind in either a hallucinogenic or physically transmogrified way, spurring him on to kill. With some great innovative special effects of its time,
Videodrome is a stark visual look at the fantasy of biological- with inorganic matter fusion, and further incorporates sexual, deviant, political, social, censorship, moral and ethical subjects. Woods is adequately animated and Harry (pop group Blondie's lead singer) is smoldering. Pure Cronenberg.
5 / A
- PB

With Joaquin Phoenix, William Hurt, Adrien Brody, Sigourney Weaver, Brendan Gleeson
Directed by M. Night Shyamalan
Director M. Night Shyamalan's three high class thrillers
The Sixth Sense, Unbreakable and Signs all have a great atmosphere, intriguing plot and serious twist. With The Village my expectations ran high, and a throw-away thought midway ended up being the big twist! The village in question is a peaceful, rural turn of the century town of simplicity, the border around the fringes a no-go area. Creatures dwell the woods and the villagers stay away, fearing their wrath. They are cut off from the rest of the world and in the event of illness, medicines cannot be obtained. With death the inevitability in one such case, the victim's beloved (a blind girl) asks permission from the elders to cross the boundary and go fetch medicine from a nearby town. This is one of those films where you have to get sucked into its narrative and let the director take you on his trip. Whether you figure out the twist is not of importance - it will in fact spoil the experience. But even so, this is not Shyamalan's most mind-blowing effort, but still a moody cinematic experience.
PS. look out for the director's reflected cameo appearance
4 / C
- PB

With Jamie Lee Curtis, William Baldwin, Donald Sutherland
Directed by John Bruno
A cargo trawler’s cargo is lost at sea after a vicious storm. In the calm eye of the storm the crew land upon a Russian communications ship that seems to have been abandoned. When they start up the power, strange things start to happen. Bio-mechanical machines with hostile intent start to cause havoc. An electrically charge alien force inhabited the vessel, coming to the conclusion that human beings are a virus that needs to be erased. Dark, cold and damp pursuits and escapes escalate as the gory machines hunt each of them down. Amusing action with some pretty gory bits and plenty of future set-ups scattered all over the not-so-important plot. Curtis is still mighty fine.
3 / C
- PB


© 2006 Flamedrop Productions