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Archive for the ‘author Jaime Grijalba’ Category

by Jaime Grijalba.

Who wants to see some boobs? Some really average, grainy, unfocused, overexposed, distant boobs? Who doesn’t, am I right? I mean, really, there’s no other conscious reason as to why would someone subject to this movie in any way shape or form nowadays, except if you’re doing a feature on obscure westerns and you find one that it’s so obscure that it doesn’t even have a page in the Letterboxd movie site. So, what I’m going to talk about in this installment of your favorite western series going on right now (not) so you could get ahold of the strange yet at the same time offensive and tame elements that are inside of the frames of this picture, well I could make some comparisons and show you some scenes and tell you why I think that, but I’m really drawing a blank here, we’re talking about a film directed by the infamous director Al Adamson, famous for its schlock pictures, as well for the bad quality of practically every film that he ever made, remember that he was the one responsible behind such films as ‘Horror of the Blood Monsters’ (1970) and another film of him that I had the (dis)pleasure to watch a couple of years ago called ‘Dracula vs Frankenstein’ (1971) and you think to yourself, how could he possibly fuck that up? Well, he did, as he did with the concept of this film.

As it’s a custom already, I remind you that we’re rating these obscure westerns with our own method of western-y things, four possible scores that are pretty self-explanatory in the diagram that I’ll put right now (thanks as always to Bob Clark for the design of this):

WesternIcons (more…)

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by Jaime Grijalba.

What is important in a western? I don’t know. I’m not an expert on the subject, as clearly my written entry for this year’s western countdown has prooven, it’s been fruitless to actually come up with something similar of an expertise towards the genre when one has seen so little of the biggest works of one of the main genres of cinema, so why I’m doing these strange and weird entries on obscure westerns from all over the world? Well, I want to get some expertise from the other end, I think that maybe if I watch the westerns that everyone else forgot that existed, maybe I’ll end up with some knowledge, that is just a wild assumption, because I’d think that mainly these westerns would be forgotten because they were either really really bad (the noose rating) or were just forgettable (the town drunk rating), and hence due to that forgettable aspect of them, learn some of the tropes and styles that comes within the expertise of seeing a bunch of westerns, maybe I’m overcomplicating my process, my own mind, or even I’m just explaining something that really doesn’t need explaining. But then, it has come to my attention that some of this forgotten westerns are actually pretty interesting and even good, that was the case with last week’s example of forgotten western, and it’s also the case with this one, which I do recommend if it’s available to you, but it isn’t strictly essential, it just have some incredible themes, beeps and bops here and there that make it wonderful.

Before going straight to the review, I should remind everyone about something completely different. At my blog, which you can access by clicking on my name, you can read the past and the next few reviews of the last days of what I called the Overlook’s October Madness, a review of a horror movie a day, and in these next days I’ll really turn up some strange examples of the horror genre, something I’m a little bit more familiar than with westerns. So, I extend the invitation to every Wonders in the Dark reader to check it out if you’re interested and drop a comment if you liked what you saw (highly unlikely, but what do I have to lose here?). (more…)

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by Jaime Grijalba.

This isn’t based on reality, all the characters have familiar names, but the characteristics are my invention.

Sorry for the small size, zoom in if necessary.

 1. INT. SLEEPING QUARTERS - NIGHT                                

          A narrow aisle between two rows of cots with men either          
          lying down or sitting is the only place where JAIME GRIJALBA     
          seems to be able to walk through in search of his cot. It’s      
          a hot night, everyone is sweating and it’s all very dusty,       
          as in most westerns. We hear some conversations from the         
          people sitting down as Jaime advances.                           

                              SAMUEL WILSON                                
                    ...Sergio Leone saw this film and                      
                    thought of Henry Fonda first as his                    
                    Man With No Name and finally, once                     
                    he had the clout to get him, as a                      
                    more evil and more doomed                              
                    representative of that “ancient                        
                    race” in Once Upon a Time in the                       
                    West. Watch Warlock and you                            
                    understand what Leone was after.                       
                    Fonda’s slow-burning yet commanding                    
                    performance heads a deep ensemble                      
                    ranging from the eccentric Quinn                       
                    and the redemptive Widmark to                          
                    DeForrest (Dr. McCoy) Kelley giving                    
                    perhaps his greatest performance in                    
                    a relatively small role...                             

                              DENNIS POLIFRONI                             
                    ...to be frank.  I don’t think it’s                    
                    a western at all.  Yes, it has all                     
                    the visual and textural trappings                      
                    of a classic western.  The film                        
                    takes place in the valleys and                         
                    deserts that have become signature                     
                    backdrops to the work of Mann and                      
                    Leone and John Ford.  The                              
                    production design is reminiscent of                    
                    all the old clapboard towns that                       
                    many a villain and hero rode into                      
                    in pictures like MY DARLING                            
                    CLEMENTINE and THE GOOD, THE BAD                       
                    AND THE UGLY.  It’s populated with                     
                    characters straight out of the                         
                    classic western repertoire and, at                     
                    any given moment, you might find                       
                    yourself facing off with                               
                    gunslingers, Mexican “Banditos”,                       
                    whore-house hookers, tin-starred                       
                    lawmen and old dog kicking drunks                      
                    hitting you up for a coin to waste                     
                    away on another shot of hard                           
                    whiskey.  Yet, with all of these                       
                    trappings, BUTCH is not really a                       
                    western...       (more…)

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by Jaime Grijalba.

Hiya fellas! I’m so so deeply sorry to all of you because I’ve failed you in so many forms that I can’t even count them. First of all, I’m sorry because I wasn’t able of having a review ready for this small series last week, I promised you a new obscure western every thursday, and I wasn’t able of watching and reviewing said western last week. Also, last week was also the announcement of the Nobel Prize Winner for Literature, which was awarded to canadian short story writer Alice Munro, someone I wasn’t familiar with, but whose reputation I had actually heard about. I used to do some investigative reports on the writers who won the prize, and actually managed to do a bunch of posts on a lot of books written by Nobel laureate Mario Vargas Llosa, but was stopped many times because I lost the books or took a long time to finish them. But this time I’m keen on doing something about Alice Munro, but I started badly, take this as an apology and also an announcement that maybe some day I’ll restart the Nobel series with the chronological review of the works of the winners (either be Llosa, Tranströmer, Yan or Munro, two of these unavailable due to untranslated first works). But in the meantime I have these westerns to review, this one this week is an italian spaghetti western from the late 60’s on the heydey of the genre, when Sergio Leone was making his best work and everyone was just crazy for this stuff. As you might remember, or not, from last time, I have a ranking system for this films, which you can revise after the jump, as well as start reading the review of this particular and relatively unknown western. (more…)

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by Jaime Grijalba.

Hiya people, I’m back! And this time I’ve got a treat for you. Since we are in the western mood due to the incredible Western Countdown here in Wonders in the Dark, I thought that maybe I could make something out of it. When I first knew about what was going to be next in the most famous countdowns in the world of the internet movie blogs, I said that maybe I wanted to actually participate, by watching a lot of westerns and then chime in with a list of my own. I finally had the excuse and the chance to watch a lot of westerns, a genre that I could say that I’m not a fan of because I’ve seen very little of it, and that very little, while some great, some meh, wasn’t still representative enough to give a list to the members who were running this countdown. But, time and work came, and I was unable to fit westerns in my film schedule. I still wanted to participate, but I had only strong reasons to write about one particular movie that made it to the countdown (it’s my favorite western of all time, even if it’s definition as a western is… shifty to say the least). But I still wanted to do something, so I came up with doing this small series, that will run every thursday for as long as the western countdown runs, where I’ll talk about some obscure westerns that I’ll be seeing.

Every one of the films will be placed in 4 different categories based on how they rate in this obscure western world that I’m dwelling into, from worst to best, the categories are as follows: (more…)

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MastersOfHorrorAdendum

by Jaime Grijalba

File #6.1 – F.W. Murnau’s ‘Phantom’

Did you miss this? No? Well, here I come back not with the full feature that you’ve been used to, but with an Addendum to the sixth installment of this particular series of essays on the Masters of Horror. This comes up now because I had finally the time to watch one of the movies that I had piled up in watching schedule, a movie that wasn’t part of my retrospective of the horror films of F.W. Murnau, because in my personal database it wasn’t named as such, it was catalogued as in the ‘fantasy’ genre, and while it did have a horror-like name, it wasn’t included in my list because of what I said earlier. So, here comes the publishing date of the sixth installment (of a total of seven so far) that have been made, and everyone seems to enjoy and read it quite well, but there’s one particular guy who doesn’t seem to be pleased. You can read here the F.W. Murnau edition of my Masters of Horror feature, and in the comments you can read Peter asking me why I didn’t put ‘Phantom’ (1922) in the survey, to which I replied that I didn’t see it because of the reasons that I’ve already mentioned, but then I made a promise, that I haven’t been able to fulfill until this day, and here we are, reviewing ‘Phantom’ (1922) but not for a little paragraph as I said, but for a full review, as I need to say a few things about this silent movie. (more…)

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by Jaime Grijalba.

Europa Report (2013, Sebastián Cordero)

There’s confusion and at the same time a sense of wonder in the first minutes of this new science fiction film. First, because the film starts in a strange position, it starts with the moment in which the footage that is being fed by the spaceship to Earth (with an 18 hour delay) is cut-off, when they’re going to make an important decission regarding the final destination of the crew and the mission itself… then the narrative makes this obvious jump to the start of the mission, showing us how it came together that this manned mission to Europa, one of the biggest moons of Jupiter, came to be and what is the purpose of it: finding life, or at least traces of it, as they did in Mars recently with the discovery of water under the ice caps. It’s strange how the cut is made there, it tries to be a film that starts In Media Res but then suddenly goes back to the beginning, trying to explain how they finally got the unseen footage that was lost after the cut-off in Earth… but then we see that the cut was because there was a solar flare that made communications impossible in space, blacking out any possibility of direct contact between the elements of the mission… and not because something extremely important was about to happen (in fact, it’s after this moment that the crew members start dying, but what the hell, it’s not extremely connected to why there was no more footage feed from spaceship to Earth). Besides that confusion at the start, there’s a sense of wonder, as I said at the beginning of this review, there’s a piece of narration that tell us a truth that seems impossible to us living in 2013: no human has travelled past the Earth’s orbit since 1972… it’s been more than 40 years since a human being has been away from Earth’s gravity! How crazy is that! Is this the future we’ve expected? I hadn’t been concious of that, and this movie has come and slapped me in the face and told me that I don’t live in the future, I live in this semi-present with a lot of fake technology that isn’t doing the important stuff: putting people out there (I’m exaggerating but, really, what the crap). And when you thought you had enough shocks, they tell you that if anyone goes beyond a few centimeters besides the moon, he or she has become the person who has travelled farthest into the universe in the history of the world. What are we doing with our future? (more…)

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by Jaime Grijalba.

Du zhan (2012, Johnnie To)

Remember the badass 90’s Hong Kong action films that everyone loved and seemed to enjoy so much? Well, they didn’t stop in the 90’s, people loved it not only overseas but inside of Hong Kong as well, the police-mob dramas with a lot of gunplay and action are among the top earners any year in the island, as well as being among the most exportable films that come out from there, sometimes bringing them over on direct-to-video releases and in smaller doses, theatrical releases. Of course the genre took a huge blow in the early 2000’s when a little movie called ‘Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon’ (2000) came out to everyone’s disbelief and practically put the kung fu and the wuxia back in scene, this time more based in Mainland China than in Hong Kong, but with products that came from both sides of the sea, giving old stars as well as newcomers the chance to entertain the people, again with the same results, some small theatrical releases while most of the rest came out on DVD or never saw the light of day in this side of the world. Just as much as the crime films of the 90’s have continued to this day, the wuxia movies have been for a while since the late 60’s with varying degrees of popularity and critical approach, while most of them being catalogued as part of the cult or bizarre world, others were elegant supporters of the beauty of the genre and the martial arts, competing even to what was wrongly called the first ‘elegant’ wuxia, the oscarized 2000 movie directed by Ang Lee. But let’s get back to the crime films, while there was an auteur in those starting years that finally made the jump and started doing crappy action films in the United States, John Woo, there was another great amount of Hong Kong filmmakers that wanted to imprint a personal style to the films they made, some of them made the jump from the crime to the wuxia when they saw the opportunity (Wai-keung Lau, Alan Mak and Felix Chong come to mind at first), while others have maintained some kind of loyalty to the crime and the mob that gave them their initial fame (although with some reservations and wild cards here and there), and here I’m talking about the much talked-about Hong Kong director Johnnie To, who has directed 53 movies since 1980 and has no sign of stopping. (more…)

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by Jaime Grijalba.

Since right now I’m under a severe case of flu, I decided to post a quickie for today. The top 10 films of 2013 so far and some quick words if available, if not… well, screw you then. (Sorry, it’s the flu speaking).

10. Upstream Color (Shane Carruth)


I know how people can fall in love with this film: it’s beautiful and it can surely be complicated on a first look, but at the same time it has a straightforward story if we take everything we see as real (except in the moments in which the conscience of the characters is altered), which I won’t bother explaining here, but it’s quite interesting in its repercusions and its power to alter someone’s mind thanks to a drug/living organism. The cinematography is something out of this world, completely worth any future nomination in any competition in the future, specially in my favorite part: when we see the decomposing pigs and we return to the beginning of the film and we see how everything in the movie is just a small fraction of something much more important: a circle of life, a movie about biology is ok, I guess. (more…)

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by Jaime Grijalba.

V/H/S/2 (2013, Simon Barrett, Jason Eisener, Gareth Evans, Gregg Hale, Eduardo Sánchez, Timo Tjahjanto, Adam Wingard)

First of all: Rex Reed is wrong. Second thing: when is he ever not wrong? Anyway. Some of us have a soft spot for horror compilations, either they be compilations of horror trailers mashed together in what seems to be the wildest of seamless narratives, or in the way that directors with different looks and inclinations come together to participate with short films to a movie with or without a linking narrative. Then there’s some of us who even like the episodic horror, the one that television made most famous, and the one that is being more carefully regarded and praised in the Saturday posts Sam Juliano has posted about the episodes of those TV shows that showcased the short horror piece that we’ve all come to love and hate at the same time. As always, we know that in the end when we finish some of the shorts in a compilation are essentially weaker or even just plain bad compared to some others that are brilliant and even among the best cinematic work of the genre in a long time, it has happened, and at the same time it’s sad to think that the merit of a director’s short film has to be accompanied by that of the rest of the directors, that may or may not be as good as that masterpiece that can be found. We all have our favorites, and this particular movie is one of the recent horror compilation films that actually work and at the same time gives us a masterpiece, one that will surprise and shock anyone who sees it, and at the same time, preaches its greatness to the world. Reviewing this kind of films is easy, you just take every short and write a paragraph out of each, so, let’s just do that. (more…)

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