Twins Effect II

"I just woke up from the strangest movie..." said Gillian Chung, as she grasped her neck.

Back when Forced Perspective was still in its teething phase, I gave Dante Lam’s 2003 film The Twins Effect a glowing recommendation – albeit, a recommendation as a guilty pleasure. In hindsight, I still feel Lam’s film is more of a “silly” film than a “bad” film for many of the same reasons I’d stated earlier: despite the subpar plot and acting, it’s technically well-crafted and doesn’t take itself too seriously. I’d even forgotten to mention how entertaining Anthony Wong was.  The film was a financial success as well, so it is no surprise that less than a year later Emperor Motion Pictures sprung forth Twins Effect II, a sequel-in-name-only directed by Corey Yuen and Patrick Leung. Like the original, it combines a carefree silliness with a sense of technical skill. The big difference between the two films is that Twins Effect II genuinely sucks.

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Dirty Pictures

Dirty Pictures is not a good film. The pacing and focus is scattershot, like a series of half-finished sentences. The editing is to blame here as the insistence on mixing documentary interviews and footage with a courtroom, jury-room, family, political, social, etc. drama never allows the film an identity. It’s dramatically and emotionally stilted. The characters are bland, with the worst being one-dimensional caricatures that make the film feel more like propaganda than it was probably intended to be. The acting is amateurish, and even James Woods can’t add any vitality

But what exactly is it that allows me to pass such judgment on the film to begin with? Is it actually something in the film? Is it just something inside me as a viewer? Is it a mixture? Where do these standards come from, how do they form, and how do we decide what standard to apply to what art and whether or not it falls within any notions of good, bad, or any other categorical adjective you might use? More importantly, as you might be asking, what the hell does that have to do with this film? Read more of this post

Two Films from Joe Sarno: The Love Merchant and The Layout

Sexploitation isn’t exactly known for its sophistication and artistry, but when one watches the best of the “genre” (you have to use the word loosely here) it becomes clear that they knew how to make films with more under the surface than big breasts and orgasms. Joseph W. Sarno is certainly one of the masters of the genre, and perhaps one of the more overlooked directors of the generation. It’s telling that even Andrew Sarris singled him out for being an auteur of note. Prior to this double release by Something Weird Video I had only seen Sarno’s All the Sins of Sodom, which, despite its budgetary handicap, cheesy writing and acting, was an usually well done sexploitation film replete with interesting characters and some wonderful black and white cinematography. Neither of the films on this disc live up that reputation, but both certainly have their moments.

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Whistle is director Duncan Jones’ first film; it’s a short that appeared as a bonus feature on the DVD of Moon. Charlie Hicks plays Ryan, a man who has moved his family, including his son and wife, Diana, to a remote location where he operates as an assassin who kills his targets by remote controlled missiles that end up looking like gunshots, effectively hiding his tracks. John Shrapnel plays Paul, Ryan’s employer. The short opens with a successful assassination, but the majority of the runtime is more concerned with the strained relationship between Ryan and his wife and son, neither of whom seem happy with the move to a place in the middle of nowhere. The strain reaches a boiling point when a mission goes horribly wrong and Ryan accidentally kills a target along with the target’s child.
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From the Dustbins: Tetsuo – The Iron Man



I had a hard time deciding whether or not this truly belonged under the Dustbin moniker, but after realizing that the only people who have probably heard of this film are either cult film aficionados or art film fanatics, I decided that it deserved this treatment.  I’m still not wholly convinced, however, seeing as how cult films are generally dusty old niche things that are remembered, and this certainly has been remembered like any other cult film has.  It’s certainly not something rotting away forgotten in a garbage bin someplace, particularly when one considers that it’s even received a third sequel just this past year.  But all the same, obscure films are obscure, and if I dare say so myself, this film is obscure enough.  Read more of this post

From the Dustbins: Roots Search

There is a reason Roots Search has been forgotten: it’s terrible.  It isn’t terrible because the character development is shoddy, inconsistent, and arbitrary.  It isn’t terrible because the plot is convoluted to the point of making obtuse art films seem lucid in comparison.  It isn’t even terrible because of its low-budget animation quality or awkward pacing.  With the right mixture of each of these, one could make a title that is “so bad it’s good”.  And yet, somehow, Roots Search manages to just barely miss even this mark.  It’s simply a case of being “so bad it’s still terrible”. Read more of this post

Two Adaptations: A Disaster and a Masterpiece

The Little Girl Who Conquered Time (1983):

The Girl Who Leapt Through Time (2006):

Toki o kakeru shoujo is a famous Japanese novel which has often been adapted into films and TV miniseries. Nobuhiko Obayashi’s live-action adaptation, translated as The Little Girl Who Conquered Time, was made in 1983. It’s notable for the cheesy special effects and the then-famous lead actress, Tomoyo Harada. The up-and-coming anime director Mamoru Hosoda adapted the novel into an anime film called The Girl Who Leapt Through Time (2006) which is essentially more like an indirect sequel to the original story although the plot is superficially the same: the heroine is thrust into a world of love triangle(s) after she discovers that she is able to travel in time.

I’m simply bewildered at how different in quality these two adaptations are. Read more of this post