by Louis Fowler
Most weeks, I review more DVDs than the Indy can fit into print. You can look for extra write-ups here, on the IndyBlog.
Something Weird Video plunges us into the cheap-o realms of B-movie film noir — where the noir was mostly a result of not being able to pay an electric bill — with a phenomenal, six-film Weird-Noir set. Loaded with crime-ridden, sex-starved, money-grabbing, morally questionable selections like Girl On the Run, The Naked Road, The Seventh Commandment, Fear No More, Fallguy, and Stark Fear, these long-forgotten back-alley tales of pulp violence and men’s-magazine lust are so much fun that it’s impossible not to watch the whole set in one go. While most film companies would have been happy to have left these lost classics in the garbage can where they were happily rotting, Something Weird, like it does with so many trashy motion pictures, has no shame in digging them out of the dumpster, cleaning, restoring and leaving them strewn about all over our living rooms. Weird Noir, like so many of Something Weird’s set, is another notch the bedpost.
Some of the best horror flicks terrify us by taking the audience out of their comfort zones, and turn the dial up on the fear of something going wrong while out of said zone. Movies like Open Water, about behind left behind on a scuba trip to fend off sharks, and Frozen, about skiers forgotten on a ski-lift over the weekend, are prime examples on how to do the genre right. 247°F tries its best, but is hampered by too many forced conflicts and stupid plot devices to really succeed on any level beyond being a possible Redbox rental. Halloween’s Scout Taylor-Compton and a handful of friends are ready for some mild rest and relaxation at a buddy’s luxurious cabin. As they settle for a nice hot steam-bath, the door shuts, locking them in there as the temperature ever increases. It’s a really clever, scary idea, but what good is it in the hands of people who really don’t know what to do with it? 247°F is below zero.
When Martin (director Mathieu Demy) finds out that his free-spirited mother has passed away in California, he leave his home and girlfriend in France to settle her accounts. Of course, we come to learn that he has many personal accounts of his own that need settling. You see, Martin is harboring deep resentment for his mother, whom he feels abandoned him so she could continue to live her Bohemian-esque lifestyle. Things are never what they appear to be, and soon Martin learns that his mother was also best pals with a Mexican stripper named Lola (Salma Hayek), whom he obsessively tries to befriend in an effort to get closer to his deceased mom. Taking us to the back-alleys of Tijuana, Martin effortlessly becomes part of the background as he hopes to find some sort of solace about the past through her. Twists and turns abound, but never in an unbelievably precarious way. Martin’s journey is one close to home for any of us who feel like we never truly knew our parents.
Old-school comedian Louie Anderson is back with his latest comedy special, which, if you’re a fan, will make you jump for joy and scream with rapture to the heavens. Everyone else will just kind of shrug and watch with mild bemusement at the sheer evolutionary track on which comedy has traveled since Anderson’s ’80s heyday. His observations, one-liners and topics in general are just very dated, very comedy-club-with-a-brick-wall. And sure, that has its charms and chuckles, but we’ve all just moved past it. His fat jokes about airplane seats and empty buffets and healthy salads and extremely large butts have all been done to death by better (and fatter) comedians over the past decade. When they were originally said by him way back when, it was funny and fresh. Now … well, maybe he can resume that gig he had, hosting Family Feud.
Backsliding Christian Luke (Lukewarm…get it?) has lost his way. Deeply affected by his parents’ divorce as a child, he’s shacked up with his churchgoing, homeless-helping, way-too-understanding girlfriend at a housing project. He works all night at the local dive bar where blonde women seem to just throw themselves at him, and his bartender buddy shoves shots down his throat and makes him take high-speed joyrides with said bar-skanks ... and yet, discussions about how evolution is proof that God doesn’t exist always seem to break out. When said bartender buddy hits and kills a homeless friend who was just led to Jesus, Luke has a severe crisis of faith and makes a decision to turn his life around … but only if he can connect with his father and find forgiveness in his heart. Yes, it’s a faith-based film, and a rather good one, because when it was all done, I was almost ready to forgive my own father and ask Jesus into my heart. That’s the mark of a good Christian film, right?