Snowpiercer (2013) Great if you like trains, meh if you don’t.

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Director: Bong Joon-ho

Starring: Chris Evans, Jamie Bell, Tilda Swinton, and Kang-ho Song

 

Korean movies/dramas are another guilty pleasure of mine. I’ve been watching Kang-ho Song since I was a wee kid. Loved him in Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance (2002) and Gwoemul (2006). Didn’t know he was in Snowpiercer (2013) until that first snort of kronol. A happy revelation, to be sure, because Chris Evans’ halfhearted “I’m not a leader!” proclamations (despite being the only white dude with the most lines/action sequences and prophetic-like story arc) was starting to bore me. Can we also give a hand to Octavia Spencer and Ah-Sung Ko? Well-done.

This is a KOREAN movie. Don’t let the big-name American actors fool you. The phenomenal, racially diverse cast are a refreshing change of pace. The fighting sequences are glorious, the wacky plot gnaws on big ideas concerning class and privilege, and Tilda Swinton was bloody fantastic. And there’s trains. And pregnant ladies with machine guns. And Ed Harris. What’s not to like?

Well, there’s quite a bit not to like after 2/3 of the movie. The ending was phoned in. I rolled my eyes several times. The story isn’t great, OK? But who cares? It’s an action movie masquerading as transgressive filmmaking. Just roll with it (pun intended…cuz we’re talking about trains, remember?)

I don’t know whether to give this a B or C. Snowpiercer aimed too high and missed the mark for me, but I was never bored while watching this film and despite the plot-holey ending, I enjoyed the ride. Oh, hell. Let’s just give it a B. If you’re in the mood for a peculiar and funny thriller, Snowpiercer (2013) is for you!

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“Delicatessen (1991)” has cannibal butchers!

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The creators of quirky, romcom, “Amelie,” are behind the strange, off-kilter, and obnoxiously French, “Delicatessen.” Kitsch dystopia meets surrealist cannibalism.

Delicatessen (1991)

Director: Marc Caro, Jean-Pierre Jeunet

Writers: Gilles Adrien, Marc Caro, Jean-Pierre Jeunet

Starring: Marie-Laure Dougnac, Dominique Pinon, Pascal Benezech

What an usual treat Delicatessen (1991) is! It was directed/created by the same minds behind the movie, “Amelie,” starring Audrey Tatou. The same quirky humor I enjoyed in “Amelie” take a dark, dystopian twist in Delicatessen. The story takes place in a French town where food is scarce and the only available currency is corn and meat. To feed themselves, the townpeople put out ads for handymen and then eat him after a week. The butcher is responsible for killing the handymen, and while the townsfolk feel bad about the grisly scheme they say nothing in fear of the maniacal butcher chopping them up into pieces, too! The butcher’s daughter falls in love with one of the poor handymen and joins an revolutionary society of corn-eating lunatics deep in the sewer systems to thwart her father before the handyman is butchered.

The story isn’t as enjoyable as the characters and surreal cinematography. The acting is dry, witty and obnoxiously French. I loved the Troglodyte sewer people and their pantry-raids in the butcher’s kitchen for his corn. I loved the character who thinks she’s hearing voices and her failed, often comical, attempts to commit suicide. I loved the butcher’s daughter’s sleeping herbs, the handyman’s chimpanzee, the frogs and snails, and everything else. This isn’t a movie that takes itself seriously, and if you love surreal, zany plots, with dark humor, I recommend Delicatessen. Watch it in French with English subtitles. There are many free, online videos to choose from, but I watched it HERE.

I’m giving it a B+.

Odessa (Short Film Review)

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Odessa (2015) won Grand Jury Award for Best Short Film at the Gaspirilla International Film Awards.

Odessa (2015) won Grand Jury Award for Best Short Film at the Gasparilla International Film Awards.

This taut, gripping, short film horrified me more for its relevant, real-word authenticity than its well-written suspense. Odessa (2015) won Grand Jury Award for Best Short Film at the Gasparilla International Film Awards in Tampa. It’s only 13min long but packs a powerful punch. The submission came rather mysteriously, but I’m hopeful for everyone involved that a possible TV series comes from this.

Directed by: Sean Michael Turrell of Toronto Canada (www.SeanMichaelTurrell.com)

Written by: Doug Johnson of New York (www.DoJoWrite.com)

Starring: Ricky Wayne (The Walking Dead), Grace Santos (Dhoom 3),Will Haze (Banshee), and Anthony Escobar (Prison Break).

Trailer:

Odessa (2015) will also be showing at Cannes’ Short Film Corner this May 2015, along with two other of Grace Santos’ productions: A Tricky Treat (directed by Patricia Chica) and Election Night (directed by Tessa Blake).

The story is about a desperate young mother’s harrowing escape across the Texas border after the Texas Secession. There’s not a lot of dialogue, which adds to the film’s suspense and nail-biting claustrophobia. We watch her sneak onto an army base and steal gasoline. We don’t know why she’s doing this, but her leg is bleeding and her eyes are sharp with fear. By the time we see the Texas border fence, the situation becomes clear and we fear even more for the woman as she crawls on her hands and knees as Texas Republic border patrol officers shoot guns at her, killing her companion. In the final minutes of the film, the audience is shown what the perilous border crossing and gasoline was all for. I won’t spoil it for you, but my god, it’s heartbreaking.

Once the credits rolled by I found myself stewing in contemplative silence for several long minutes. I live in Texas. I realized it could happen here. That it does happen here. And I appreciated Odessa’s exquisite speculative slant on border town issues.

More information about the film/series:

Official Website:

http://www.odessa-theseries.com

Social Media:

http://www.Facebook.com/Odessa-TheSeries

I’ll definitely keep my eye out for these filmmakers. If and when the series is greenlit, I’ll be back again with another review. A+++

Billy and the Cloneasaurus

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Steve Kozeniewski, Published by Severed Press (2014)

Published by Severed Press (2014)

Buy the book HERE and connect with the author

Amazon – http://amazon.com/author/kozeniewski
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/KozAuthor
Twitter – https://twitter.com/outfortune
Goodreads – https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7183355.Stephen_Kozeniewski
Blog – http://manuscriptsburn.blogspot.com
Mailing List – http://kozauthor.campayn.com/contact_list_form/signup/10334

The Damsels love when authors submit their books for us to review, especially when it’s well-written speculative fiction. Stephen Kozeniewski’s “Billy and the Cloneasaurus” is biting, thoughtful dystopian fiction from Severed Press. Clones, dinosaurs, and a corrupted “Williamerica” paint a frightening alternate reality where the idea of individuality and capitalism are distorted to the nth degree. It’s a call-to-arms, if you will, and a well-timed one at that. Critics of dystopian fiction always bemoan the genre’s inherent “preachiness” and bitch far too much about the potential for pretentiousness on the authors’ part. Be assured, dear readers, that “Billy and the Clonesaurus” doesn’t fall prey to preachiness or pretentiousness. I would happily say so if it did. Mean-spirited zingers are fun to write but funnier to read. And I do try to please.

The novel’s satirical undertone is entertaining and relevant. HOWEVER (and there must be a capitalized however in any review, right?) given the author’s unsubtle disdain for clichés, I couldn’t help but be irritated by his approach to one of the minor (but which should have been major) characters, which is, perhaps, the novel’s biggest flaw.

SYNOPSIS

Six billion identical clones make up the entire population of Earth, and William 790-6 (57th Iteration) is exactly like everybody else. In his one year of life he will toil in suburban mediocrity and spend as much cash as possible in order to please his corporate masters. When 790’s first birthday (and scheduled execution) finally rolls around, a freak accident spares his life.

Living past his expiration date changes 790 profoundly. Unlike other clones he becomes capable of questioning the futility of his own existence. Seeking answers in the wilderness, he discovers a windmill with some very strange occupants, including a freakish, dinosaur-like monstrosity. Which is especially strange since every animal on earth is supposed to be extinct…

Without giving away spoilers, one of the “occupants” in the mysterious windmill happens to be a woman. And like most dystopian stories (written by men) women are treated as an afterthought to the Grand Political Message or as mere accessories to the Crippling Male Angst that drives the subversive action to its conclusion. Willa suffers from the same fate, unfortunately, which knocked the five-star rating I had going in down to a four.

It seems Willa’s only function is to literally have sex with the male hero. Odd. Because she would be in a better position than any of the other Williams to Save The World (or at least play SOME part in it) due to her radical upbringing and fondness for politics. But no. Willa is just the well-read virgin who waits in her room while her father and Billy make all the important decisions. I’m ignoring the weird incest/clone, uncomfortable age difference here for propriety.

The ending wasn’t surprising or satisfying, but happily-ever-afters and dystopian horror don’t play well together. This book entertained and I would recommend it to lovers of bizarro and speculative fiction. Four stars out of five for “Billy and the Cloneasaurus.”