Idiot Savant Online

John Lichman's third attempt at a personal blog and online savanting idiotic.

Archive for the ‘Viewing Log’ Category

An Idiot’s Best of 2011

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Boiling an entire year down into a numerical list is something akin to masturbation of the highest caliber. Think about it: hundreds of films released, and a majority of critics–depending on location–only consider those which played for a week in a dingy spot at the Laemmle 5 or Quad Cinema to be valid. Honorable Mentions:

Battle Royale

This 2000 adaptation of Koushun Takami’s novelistic ode to wrestling’s battles royal never saw a proper US release until this year at theCinefamily in Los Angeles. It’s amazing that a film with the cult status it has–inspiring two manga sequels, a (lacking) film follow-up, the entire plot of The Hunger Games–never got a seven-day run in New York, despite selling out at the New York Asian Film Festival when screened.

The Man From Nowhere

When we had Grady Hendrix come visit Grassroots Tavern, we asked him to describe the recent trend of Korean revenge films. His answer: “Karenge.” If that doesn’t sum up The Man from Nowhere, I’m not sure what else would. Though not nearly as dark as I Saw The Devil, from savage bon mots (“How many gold teeth do you have? I’m a pawn shop owner and I want to know which to rip from your mouth”) to bathroom knife fights and a bittersweet ending, this sums up exactly what the Karenge genre boils down to: you can take revenge and kill everyone, but ultimately it will kill you.

A Seperation

Not optional.

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Waiting for the Dead of the World

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If nothing says “post-apocalypse” better than an undead monkey’s uncle, then dagnabbit there’s something there to this whole zombies metaphor. Especially when it comes to the explosion of the theme in gaming over the last decade, from the sandbox comic-horror of the Dead Rising franchise to the survival-horror that evolved into Bruckheimer-horror of Resident Evil.

And then came the teaser for Dead Island:

So, why is The Last of Us so gosh-darn different?
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Written by john lichman

December 17, 2011 at 11:25 pm

Long Live The Old Flesh: A Dangerous Method

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Michael Fassbender feeling shame--an all too common issue this year.

The exact point when “body horror” became one of the defining critical tropes around David Cronenberg’s work is hard to place. Ok, it isn’t (Stereo, Crimes of the Future, Shivers etc) but it’s a welcome shift in A Dangerous Method that the horror is kept in a subdued tone compared to, say, if Carl Jung’s dreams were brought to life on screen.

Ok, maybe it isn’t that subdued. Paralleled by carriage rides, Method opens on a hysteric Sabina Spielrein (Keira Knightley) being signed into  Burghölzli hospital where she picques the interest of Dr. Carl Jung (Michael Fassbender) into trying out the fabled “talking cure” of Sigmund Freud (Viggo Mortensen). Jung struggles between his dislike of the military (“I just look at cocks all day!”) to analyzing his dreams as he takes Sabina under his wing as an assistant while coaxing out the nature of her “humiliation.”

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In The Age of Spiritual Meme-chines: Shut Up! Little Man

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The Internet is serious business, or at least that’s how the online adage for folks lurking around the chans and message boards go. Fun with audio and video alike is the content beast that churns out BuzzFeed‘s feeds and gave us mash-ups, crossovers and fan art to go along with an ever-evolving creative culture based on what’s already there.

Shut Up! Little Man is one of the found (audio) footage holy grails since it goes all the way back to the days when recording via  a make-shift boom and tape deck were the best two punk roommates on the Haight in San Francisco could accomplish. Those two idiot savants, Eddie Lee Sausage and Mitchel D., happened to strike gold thanks to their sociopathic alcoholic neighbors (Peter J. Haskett and Raymond Huffman) who couldn’t go a night without drunkenly attacking each other either verbally or physically.

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Written by john lichman

November 15, 2011 at 9:30 am

An Ode To A Grecian Speed Ramp: Immortals

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When your film requires an opening quote about truly being immortal before launching into the type of audio assault not seeneardInception, it brings to question just how much is your mortality worth? Not in the “Will I die a legend and thus live forever” way, but more a “my ears can’t take much more of this, when do we get to the pretty people in gold clothing smashing shit up like the trailer promised us” way.

That’s kind of forgivable for Immortals, the third feature from director Tarsem–now with an added middle and surname in his credit–who previously overstuffed our eyes with The Cell and The Fall. Electing out from referring to this as a potential noun phrase trilogy, Immortals is a mash-up hybrid of the tales of Thesus and Hyperion into a dimly saturated (if you’re going 3D, which you shouldn’t due to this being post-conversion) series of deserts and kind of stunning set pieces including a shining watering hole surrounded by white sands to a really dark subterranean cave “that’s like a maze” where he battles a “minotaur.”

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Written by john lichman

November 13, 2011 at 4:24 pm

Great Moments in Zombie Hunting

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The Walking Dead took in seven million eyes when it premiered on Sunday (“shattering records” according to Deadline, which also regularly uses the phrase “Toldja!” and “I’m going to sue you”) isn’t that big of a surprise when factoring in key points that:

  • It’s October.
  • People love zombies and zombie killing.
  • Norman Reedus.
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October 21, 2011 at 1:58 pm

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Great, Ali G’s Ghost: Attack The Block

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dir. Joe Cornish Theatrical It is a superlative to say Attack The Block is the best film of the year–if not the Summer; but that’s coming from quite a few people. I mean, a lot of people. Attack the Block is probably one of the year’s most positively seen genre odes that opened last March at SXSW on massive buzz and then even people afraid of the “Scott Pilgrim Effect” (e.g. too many free fan/critic screenings would deter from the film’s box office). It opened last weekend against fellow sci-fi flick Cowboys & Aliens on 8 screens to a low six-figure. It is, for all intensive purposes, the underdog of the summer that folks are clinging with to prove word-of-mouth and grassroots campaigns can work this time for Edgar Wright and company in the ashes of Pilgrim. Except that it really doesn’t.
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August 6, 2011 at 12:55 pm

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