Friday, March 27, 2015


Watched March 13, 2015

Starring: Hiroko Shimabukuro, Kenji Harada, Ryo Kara

I've been trying to find more movies from the mid-'90s that have visualizations of the Internet experience. I find it fascinating the various attempts to make code and early websites look visually appealing. This search led me to Andromedia, a film by Takashi Miike. 

Mai (Hiroko Shimabukuro) is your average teenaged schoolgirl who has a nice group of close friends. Yuu (Kenji Harada) has been her friend since they were kids but now she has romantic feelings towards him and it has caused a rift between her and her girlfriends. Yuu and Mai have a special spot where they've always gone to play or be together; an always blossoming cherry tree that somehow exists on the beach. Mai and Yuu kiss and it seems their relationship is about to change from friends to more. After a nice day together, Mai is walking home when she is run over by a truck.

 Mai's father is a computer whiz who had recorded all of Mai's memories to disc. When she dies, he transfers her memories to a digital version AI, who then becomes Mai in the computer. The bad guys have been watching Mai's dad and know that he has activated this program. They want his technology so they break in to his house and kill him, but as he dies he unplugs Mai from his computer and pushes her into the web. She shows up on the school computer where Yuu is. He is able to transfer her program to a laptop and take her everywhere.  Yuu meets up with Mai's friends and they all go to the beach. Mai is very happy for being recently deceased, she even though can't smell the salt of the ocean. The bad guys continue to track down Mai, they have order from some English speaking guy in either the US or Canada. They release a virus to attack Mai. At the same time, Yuu is chased by the henchmen on foot but he keeps running with laptop Mai. He happens to run into the boy band Da Pump who are driving home from a bathhouse in a VW beetle. Yuu gets a ride but the bad guys are hot on their trails. This is where things get really wacky. The bad guys manage to mess with the air conditioning system in the beetle so it gets really hot then really cold in the car. The VW's steering wheel even comes off for a moment. Da Pump and Yuu manage to jump out of the car before it goes over a cliff and bursts in flames.

A deadly car chases doesn't get Da Pump down, they all head to their cool fire themed club house where they sing their hit song and do a dance routine. It comes out of nowhere, but I appreciated it since the movie was getting really slow.

It turns out that Mai has a half brother who is also a computer whiz, but has a brain aneurysm that is going to kill him. He has wants Mai for some reason, maybe just to make sure the bad guys can't get to her. He built the mass of computers and cables that are still in the high school's computer lab. That is where Yuu found Mai. 

The bad guys find all the girlfriends and bring in the mega computer/server farm. They want Mai, I still don't know what they want to do with the technology or her specifically. Yuu shows up with Mai in the laptop, Rika is held hostage and will be shot if Yuu doesn't give the bad guy Mai. Yuu can't let her go, luckily one of her friends saves Rika's life by grabbing the laptop out of Yuu's grip. All the friends manage to escapes after the bad guy uses the AI program to access his memories the end up destroying him. All the girlfriends are friends even if there is some strange feeling floating around because Rika also likes Yuu. All the friends again meet on the beach, but Mai is ready to say goodbye. Yuu still can't let go and I was convinced he was going to drown himself along with computer Mai. Instead computer Mai is drowned in the ocean while Yuu floats around.

 Mai's half brother meets his end by being crucified by his pile of computer monitors and wires. I did not understand what was going on with him. The dynamic between all the friends was really confusing, it took me awhile to understand that all the girlfriends were estranged because both Mai and Rika liked Yuu. Yuu is obsessed with digital Mai in a really unhealthy way, she's just a talking laptop.

I typically enjoy the dated outfits of older movie but it seems that the average Japanese teenaged girl has been wearing the same outfit for 30 years: over-sized sweater, short pleated plaid skit, thick socks, and little tennis shoes. 

This movie is slow and confusing, the weird dance montage doesn't make it worth it. Digital Mai is pretty cool but she doesn't interact with the Internet very much. 

Saturday, March 14, 2015

The Glimmer Man

Watched March 2, 2015

Starring: Steven Seagal, Keenan Ivory Wayans, Bob Gunton, Brian Cox

Even though this came out during the prime time of watching action movie with my dad and brother, I never caught this crazy Steven Seagal joint. I was mostly excited to watch it because of the hilarious How Did this Get Made podcast where they discuss it.

Jack Cole (Steven Seagal) is detective brought to LA to help during the investigation of a local serial killer. He is teamed up with local detective Jim Campbell (Keenan Ivory Wayans). The opening credits show us different gritty shots of LA along with headlines of the murders. The serial killer is shooting the victims, then nailing them up on the walls with a crown of barbed wire to appear as if they were crucified. Even though Jack is a police detective he has also adopted a Buddhist mentality so he uses that calm approach to the horrible crime scenes they have to investigate. The clues hint to Jack that it's not actually a real serial killer but the crime scene is meant to appear that way. The press has titled the potential murderer the Family Man killer.

Jack and Jim go to the morgue to further examine some of the victims. In the morgue, all the men are completely covered in plastic, but the women have their breasts exposed. This is before any autopsies have been performed, but it still doesn't make any sense. As they discuss one of the female victims, Jack cuts into her breast and pulls out an implant. He thinks she looks Russian, which hints at Russian mafia involvement. They run the serial number on her implant to find out who she is.

Jack is such a good detective they do track some suspects to a parking lot under a freeway. They are attacked by some Russian gangsters. It is set up that Jack isn't going to fight because of his spiritualism, but as instead he pulls a credit card out of his wallet that has a razor blade attached to it and cuts one of the gangsters throats. This begins a big fight between Jack and Jim versus the Russian gangsters. Jack and Jim beat up everybody and they are convinced they are on the right track.

Jack's ex-wife and new husband are killed in the same style of the Family Man killer. This leads the police to believe that Jack is a suspect since it was his ex-wife. Jack, being a super detective and based on some of the child-like drawings that are on the walls of the victims homes he finds the man he suspects actually did it. Jack tracks this guy to a church, where the man feels cornered and takes the priest hostage. Jack talks him into letting the priest go but ends up having to shoot him. This only confirms the police's suspicion that Jack is the killer. Jack is kicked off the case and his badge is taken away, they don't have enough evidence to formally arrest him, but he's definitely a suspect. But since he's such a super cop he know he can solve the case without a badge.

 On the other side of the this whole thing see that a businessman Frank (Bob Gunton) has been orchestrating the whole thing. He's been smuggling in weapons from Russia and is trying to sell them to terrorists. He's been using the Family Man murders to cover up the people he has to kill to keep doing business. His teenage step-son becomes aware of this and goes nuts in his classroom, but luckily Jack and Jim are there to save him.

 An assassin tries to kill Jim in his apartment, they have a big fight and the TV is kicked over. It instantly catches on fire, then the assassin also rips the stove off the wall ripping open the gas line. As they fight, the apartment continues to burn. Jim manages to get away from the killer and jumps out his second story apartment as his apartment explodes. Somehow Jim survives by landing on the soft top roof of a car.

After almost being killed, Jim knows that Jack is on the right trail. After a couple more random fights, they lure the group of gangsters to an old hotel. They have an insane gunfight, but Jack ultimately pushes the bad guy through an interior window and he stabbed by some grating.

Action wise, it's as fine movie. I haven't seen many later Seagal movies as I know that he gets doughy and can't do a lot of the cool moves anymore. He still has it for the most part here, but does seem a little out of shape. I get the impression that his long ponytail hides that his hair is very, very thin on top. I'm also assuming that Keenan Ivory Wayans was hired for some comedic effect, the classic mismatched cop pairing. There is no real comedy in the movie. There are some extended scenes with Seagal taking Wayans to a Chinese herb shop to get powdered deer penis but it's not funny. Seagal's spiritualism doesn't come into play in actually solving the crime. The plot doesn't make a ton of sense. There is a totally weird scene when the main bad guy invites Brian Cox to his house for a late night swim and they hang around the pool in their robes discussing their evil plan.

Wayans is really into Casablanca so much that he has posters as home and work, he is watching it at home and also goes to see it in theatre. Is it supposed to be funny that Wayans has a sensitive side.

If you like people crashing through windows, then this is the movie for you.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Fright Night part 2

Watched February 16, 2015

Starring: William Ragsdale, Roddy McDowall, Traci Lind, Julie Carmen

I'm getting better at watching movies in the order there were made! I saw the original Fright Night not that long ago and really enjoyed it. So it didn't take much for me to see what happens in Part 2.

Charley (William Ragsdale) is now in college and with the help of a Psychiatrist he has worked through the events of Fright Night as just hallucinations as vampires are not real. He's now dating Alex (Traci Lind) who also happens to be a psychology major, so she is supportive of him figuring out why his brain manifested this vampire neighbor. Charley is still friends with Peter Vincent (Roddy McDowall) who continues to host the Fright Night TV show.

One night, Charley cuts his neck shaving leaving a pretty large wound that he covers with a band-aid. He ends up visiting Peter Vincent that night and as he is leaving Peter's apartment building he sees this alluring and mysterious woman. He goes back to his dorm and has a dream that the lady seduces him. The dream was so vivid that he can't tell if it really was just a dream or it really happened. The mysterious woman continues to allude him and he ends up blowing off Alex to track the vampire aldy down. Even though he has been repressing his night of the vampires he discovers that the woman is a vampire and has a whole posse of vampires with her. 

Alex doesn't believe there are vampires even though Charley keeps acting very strangely. The vampires live on the top floor of the same old apartment building that Peter Vincent inhabits. They throw a huge party where Charley is compelled to come and Regine (Julie Carmen) the mysterious woman does a seductive dance for Charley.

Since Charley keeps breaking their dates, Alex is left alone when Louie (Jon Gries) begins to seduce her. He is part of the vampire gang, even though he looks like a werewolf vampire. Alex continues to evade him before he can bite her.

Regine reveals to Charley that it was her brother in the last movie that he killed. She is out for revenge. She doesn't just want to kill Charley, she wants to make him an immortal vampire so she can torture him forever. 

Regine ends up taking over the Fright Night TV show from Peter Vincent. While in the library studying together Charley and Alex watch this then are attacked by werewolf/vampire Louie. They manage to escape but Charley is captured and has already begun the process of becoming a vampire. He is taking to Regine's apartment.

Peter Vincent and Alex team up and get Charley away from the vampires before they can turn him. But there is big vampire battle. The vampires have a bodyguard who once killed is revealed to be composed of bugs. As the sun begins to rise Regine in bat/goblin form escapes to the basement to hide in her coffin. Luckily Peter Vincent manages to reflect the rising sun onto her, destroying her. 

A great sequel, super fun and the characters make some logical decisions. Jon Gries as a werewolf-y vampire is pretty cool. His receding hairline into a long mane looks crazy. Great prosthetics and special effects, Regine turns into an awesome bat creature. Her death is fantastic as she burned into a walking skeleton. One of the other vampires in burned into a jello goo that is super gross and cool. The first vampire kills is one of vampire gang on roller blades moving through the school. He grabs an art student as as he bites her, the blood splatters on her canvas. Pretty arty and funny stuff.