Monthly Archives: March 2012

Blu-Ray Review: Battle Royale: The Complete Collection

by Dan Fields
First published March 26, 2012 by the California Literary Review
Battle Royale: The Complete Collection on Blu-Ray

Despite never having been officially banned in North America, Battle Royale suffered de facto censorship through non-distribution, despite its popularity in Japan and among lucky film festival crowds who caught it in rare runs abroad. Over the last decade or so, bootlegs and other mysterious video editions of the film began seeping into Western markets until, clearly, demand won out, and now Kinji Fukasaku’s visionary epitaph (his sixtieth feature film) takes its rightful place in international film history. This is no longer a film you should acquire in whatever third-hand, semi-legal format you can arrange. Battle Royale is yours for the asking in a handy-dandy, thoroughly excellent Blu-Ray package. Continue reading

Movie Review: Casa de mi Padre

by Dan Fields
First published March 17, 2012 by the California Literary Review

Más o menos…

Matt Piedmont, noted Saturday Night Live writer, has teamed up with producers Adam McKay and Will Ferrell (director and star of Anchorman) for something rather out of the ordinary. Casa de Mi Padre, filmed almost entirely in Spanish, downplays Ferrell’s reputation as a strident madman and places him at the forefront of a half-baked television melodrama. It is not a comedy of consistent quality, but it has a variety of good laughs, both broad and subtle, in its bandoliers. Continue reading

Movie Review: Silent House

by Dan Fields
First published March 10, 2012 by the California Literary Review

A Poisoned Treat for Sick Puppies

Silent House is a fairly faithful re-staging of the Uruguayan horror thriller La Casa Muda, directed by Gustavo Hernández. In both films, a young woman and her father are fixing up a dilapidated family vacation home to sell it, only to discover secret horrors lurking in its dark corners. The scenario tidily seals its characters in a dilapidated, multi-level house with no phones or electricity, and uncertain means of exit. No good can come of that, as anyone who has seen a movie, or (heaven forbid) actually been trapped in a scary house, will know.

As far as Silent House goes in the remake department, those responsible have managed to pull the original film apart gently, sand off some rough corners, grease a few rusty plot twists, and present the humble horror tale in a more palatable form. Writer and co-director Laura Lau apparently realized that while La Casa Muda had several important scares worth preserving, the audience might appreciate a little more to digest. Continue reading

Movie Review: Dr. Seuss’s The Lorax

by Dan Fields
First published March 03, 2012 by the California Literary Review

Seuss Strictly by Association

I think that I shall never see
A billboard lovely as a tree.
Indeed, unless the billboards fall
I’ll never see a tree at all.
– Ogden Nash –

This weekend, a whole new generation of doe-eyed tykes will meet The Lorax a furry blob of a woodland nymph conceived in 1971 by children’s author Dr. Seuss to “speak for the trees,” specifically to the faceless, soulless ogre of industrial development.

The works of Dr. Seuss have had a checkered but mostly respectable history of adaptation to the screen. Beginning in the 1960s, legendary animator Chuck Jones, along with Looney Tunes producer Friz Freleng and his Pink Panther cohort David H. DePatie, began a series of beloved television specials bringing the good doctor’s creations to life. How The Grinch Stole Christmas reigns over all of them in terms of perennial popularity, but there were many others including Horton Hears A Who and The Cat In The Hat. Seuss (also known as Theodor Geisel) put in a lot of personal effort to keep these projects true to the spirit of his children’s books. At very least, he generally wrote or co-wrote the television specials.

Near the end of his life, he gave a particularly strong nod of approval to maverick animator Ralph Bakshi for his adaptation of the doomsday fable “The Butter Battle Book.” Then came the death of Dr. Seuss and a rather dark aftermath once people began drastically reimagining his work for themselves. Continue reading