THE LORDS OF SALEM
Soon after rock DJ Heidi airs a mysterious album she received on vinyl, the locals start clamoring to hear more from the Lords of Salem. But the group’s otherworldly sounds have a strange effect on everyone, including Heidi. (Netflix)
Welcome back from Haddonfield, Rob Zombie!
I’m so, so happy to have this guy back on his own turf. The Devil’s Rejects is unquestionably one of my favorite horror films. It was such a massive improvement on House of 1,000 Corpses and showed massive amounts of promise for Zombie’s future as a filmmaker.
Then Halloween happened.
While I don’t hate the first one as much as most, it’s still not very good. And the sequel is barely watchable. But again, part two showed that Zombie had ambition, and that there was a story he was trying to tell. It was just horribly misplaced in the Michael Myers universe.
But with THE LORDS OF SALEM, Zombie has finally found that place and I hope he stays there forever, expanding his weird little sandbox for years to come.
I don’t mind that he keeps casting his wife Sherri Moon Zombie in the lead roles of his films, especially here. It’s her best performance to date and a great performance even when measured outside the confines of a Zombie film.
THE LORDS OF SALEM is a very unsettling movie. From its opening moments with a nude, elderly, filthy coven of witches dancing around a fire to its final dreamlike images, I was transfixed and in awe of just how brazen Zombie dared to go (Something tells me JJ Abrams won’t have masturbating zombie priests in either of his Star franchises). The movie is unlike anything else I’ve seen on screen in a major multiplex. How this got a semi-wide release, I’ll never know, but I absolutely LOVE that it did and that I got to see it in a theater.
Filled with shocking, unforgettable imagery, brain-rattling music and an unending sense of giddy gloom, THE LORDS OF SALEM is an early favorite of mine for 2013 for its pure audacity and for its signaling the return of proper Rob Zombie.
And spoiler alert: The most shocking moment of the entire film will come at the very end when you watch the end credits and learn that it WASN’T Martin Starr playing DJ Heidi’s lovelorn co-host because Holy Shit did that guy look like Full-on-Freak-in-Season-5 Bill Haverchuck.
4.5 out of 5 Ariel the ECW Witches
A DANGEROUS METHOD
In this David Cronenberg-helmed biopic, Sigmund Freud’s relationship with fellow psychology luminary Carl Jung is tested when Sabina Spielrein, one of the first female psychoanalysts, enters their lives. (Netflix)
A Haku Review Haiku
2 out of 5 Dangerous Alliances
IRON MAN THREE
When Tony Stark’s world is torn apart by a formidable terrorist called the Mandarin, he starts an odyssey of rebuilding and retribution. (IMDB)
A Hakushi Haiku Reviewshi
4 out of 5 “Ironman” Rob Conways
I AIN’T SCARED OF YOU: A TRIBUTE TO BERNIE MAC
Get a behind-the-scenes look at comedian Bernie Mac’s life and career with this documentary packed with footage of his early performances, a look at his more well-known work, and interviews with dozens of his celebrity friends. (Netflix)
I always enjoyed watching Bernie Mac, but I never went out of my way to see a lot of his work. Still, I was sad when he died, knowing that he probably had much more great comedy to offer the world.
I AIN’T SCARED OF YOU is an equal parts love letter and thank you note for the work that Mac did leave behind, and it’s one of the best tributes to a performer that I’ve ever seen.
With interviews conducted by his own daughter featuring his wife and high profile friends like Angela Bassett and Chris Rock, there’s not a bad word to be found about Bernie Mac in this film. There’s no expose, no ulterior motive, it’s simply a send-off to someone who left too soon.
I loved hearing all of the stories told about him and enjoyed seeing all of the new-to-me footage. The documentary paints Mac in the absolutely best light possible by the people who knew him better than anybody.
By the time it was over I was even still sad that Mac’s no longer around, but I’m thrilled at the fact that this documentary is.
4 out of 5 Rodney Macks
Barry, a bathroom supply salesman prone to spasms of rage, tries to escape constant harassment from three thugs and his seven sisters. He finds his life refreshed when he meets Lena, who falls in unconditional love with him. (Netflix)
I don’t know if it’s a good or bad thing that I identified so much with Barry Egan while re-watching PUNCH-DRUNK LOVE.
What I do know for sure, though, is that I f’n loved every second of it.
It had been a long time since I’d first seen this movie and I’d forgotten quite a bit about it. In fact, I think the first time I did actually see it, I only paid minimal attention. Now, after finally seeing it again and appreciating fully all that it’s got to offer, I can confidently say that it’s absolutely wonderful.
I can also say that Adam Sandler has never been better. It’s really sad that he’s so loyal to his base (and that his base is still 11-year-olds) because between performances like this and Funny People, I feel like we’re being deprived of some really interesting performances and characters.
I think one of the most pleasant things about seeing this again is knowing where Paul Thomas Anderson went in his career after this. He’s such a large-scale force at this stage, but knowing that he’s still got something this small, this sweet and this different within him only reaffirms his status as one of my favorites.
4.5 out of 5 Punch and Bucks
THE MUPPET MOVIE
After deciding to pursue a career in acting, Kermit the Frog goes on a cross-country trek to find fame in Hollywood. Along the way, he meets Fozzie Bear, Miss Piggy, Gonzo and the rest of the Muppets cast, and voilà, the Muppets are born. (Netflix)
5 out of 5 Hornswoggles and Miss Piggys
Struggling to accept the death of his mother, T.J. (Devin Brochu) befriends Hesher (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), a twentysomething misfit who becomes both a mentor and a bad influence on the lost and awkward teen. Hesher soon invites himself to live with T.J. and his self-medicating dad (Rainn Wilson). Their bizarre relationship is tested when T.J. develops a crush on a supermarket checkout girl (Natalie Portman) who rescues him from a gang of bullies. (Netflix)
3.5 out of 5 Headbangers
Years after a summer camp janitor (Lou David) is severely burned and disfigured as the result of a teenage prank gone awry, he’s released from the local insane asylum and returns to the scene of the crime to seek revenge against those who harmed him. Several yet-to-be-famous stars pop up in this classic teen horror flick, including Oscar winner Holly Hunter and Jason Alexander of “Seinfeld.” (Netflix)
2 out of 5 Stephanie McMahon’s Burnt Teddy Bears
Unemployed and frustrated, Joseph is in a downward spiral when he meets Hannah, a kind Christian woman who’s drawn to try to help him. As their bond develops, however, it becomes apparent that Hannah’s life is far from easy or simple. (Netflix)
3 out of 5 Funkasauruses
Freddie, a volatile, heavy-drinking veteran who suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, finds some semblance of a family when he stumbles onto the ship of Lancaster Dodd, the charismatic leader of a new “religion” he forms after World War II. (Netflix)
4 out of 5 Master Fujis
THE BRAVE LITTLE TOASTER GOES TO MARS
Calculator, Faucet, Ceiling Fan and Microwave are added to the spirited mix of household appliances with personality in this charming animated sequel. A spaceship has made off with Master Rob’s baby son and the gang must get him back to Earth. (Netflix)
It only makes sense that this trilogy(!) would end on another planet. And oh man what a trip it was.
This time, Ol’Toasty and the Crew travel to Mars via laundry basket and ceiling fan to rescue a baby floating around the Red Planet in an air bubble.
Spoilers ahead so if you’re reallllly trying to keep everything about THE BRAVE LITTLE TOASTER GOES TO MARS a secret then I suggest you turn back now and also get a hobby.
They get to Mars and discover that it’s inhabited by other, angrier discarded appliances who are only moments away from destroying the Earth (this is actually the plot of the movie).
Through political discourse, diplomacy and a little song & dance, Toaster is elected to be the new President of Mars and turns off the missile.
Also all of that plus a return trip from Mars to Earth via said laundry basket and ceiling fan takes place over the course of about 4 hours, atmosphere and zero-G be damned.
Look, rewatching the original with fresh eyes, and seeing the sequels for the first time just this year, I realize this is an other-worldly-level stupid franchise. But it kept my kid’s attention for the most part and while appliances coming to life isn’t nearly as cool as toys, it gets a solid B- for effort.
2 out of 5 Good Housekeeping Matches
WHY WE LAUGH
Chris Rock, Bill Cosby, Whoopi Goldberg and other notables illuminate the evolution and cultural significance of African American comedy. Accompanying film clips explore the history of black humor from early minstrel shows to modern stand-up stars. (Netflix)
The journey of the African-American comedian is a fascinating one. From minstrel shows to headlining stadiums, WHY WE LAUGH does a great job of tracing the history of comedy through this specific lens.
Not only is the documentary filled with great interviews and classic-contemporary bits from the likes of Pryor, Murphy and Rock, it also exposed me to earlier performers and programs I’d only previously heard of like Amos & Andy and artists who were completely new to me like Stepin Fetchit.
For a film called WHY WE LAUGH, though, it’s not terribly funny. But that’s not what it was supposed to be anyway. Instead, it’s a highly informative and interesting look how an entire culture moved from the edges of obscurity to the pinnacle of modern comedy.
3 out of 5 Hugh Morruses