It’s Asia – to the Extreme!

It’s coming!!

What’s coming? The coolest thing ever – a film festival Hope got to help program. And it is too nutty!

Asia Extreme opens at the Gateway Film Center next Thursday, August 8 and runs through the following Tuesday (8/13). Expect showers of blood, technology ghosts, regular ghosts, ass kicking, face kicking, face sliting, demonic cats, and vengeance. Oh, so much vengeance.

Some highlights include the Park Chan-wook’s full Vengeance Trilogy, in one location for one low price. See Oldboy as it was meant to be seen before the American version potentially ruins it. Truth be told, Spike Lee’s trailer looks pretty good. Still, the original’s a surefire weirdfest that may kill your soul just a little.

Another insane set of three: Kim Jee-Woon’s I Saw the Devil, Doomsday Book (in its Midwest premier) and A Tale of Two Sisters. A punishing director with tremendous visual flair and subversive humor, Jee-Woon work is meant to be enjoyed on a big screen.

Another two from Joon-ho Bong – the riveting drama of Mother (voted Best Foreign Language Film by the Central Ohio Film Critics Association in 2011), and the spectacular creature feature The Host – will keep you wildly entertained.

There’s more, including the Asian originals of Hollywood flicks you know and may love: Ringu, Shutter, Ju-On: The Grudge, and Pulse. Plus action and Sci-Fi to rip your flesh off, like the infamous Battle Royale, Election, BKO: Bangkok Knockout, and the fascinatingly titled This Girl Is Bad-Ass (in its Ohio premier, no less).

And more! Seriously, there are like another dozen movies I haven’t even mentioned! Who’s geeked?!

So, obviously, go. Do it! How could you not?!!


Thursday, August 8

7:30 PM             BLOOD C: THE LAST DARK (2012) – US Theatrical Premiere!

10:30 PM          BATTLE ROYALE (2000)

12:00 AM          HOUSE (1977)

Friday, August 9       

1:30 PM             MOTHER (2009)

Three films from legendary director Kim Jee-Woon:

4:30 PM             I SAW THE DEVIL (2010)

7:30 PM             DOOMSDAY BOOK (2012) – Midwest Premiere!

10:30 PM          A TALE OF TWO SISTERS (2003) – First Ohio Theatrical Screening!

12:00 AM          THE HOST (2006)

Saturday, August 10             

1:30 PM             RINGU (1998)

4:30 PM             JU-ON: THE GRUDGE (2002)

7:30 PM             HORROR STORIES (2013) – US Theatrical Premiere!

10:30 PM          IP MAN: THE FINAL FIGHT (2013)

12:00 AM          THE SLIT MOUTHED WOMAN (2006)

Sunday, August 11  

The Vengeance Trilogy – First combined theatrical screening in Columbus! Patrons can see SYMPATHY FOR MR. VENGEANCE, OLDBOY, and LADY VENGEANCE at normal prices or all three for $15!

1:30 PM             SYMPATHY FOR MR. VENGEANCE (2002)

4:30 PM             OLDBOY (2003)

7:30 PM             LADY VENGEANCE (2006)

10:30 PM          THE RED SHOES (2006) – Columbus Premiere Screening!

Monday, August 12 

1:30 PM             PULSE (2001)

4:30 PM             SHUTTER (2004)

7:30 PM             BKO: BANGKOK KNOCKOUT (2010) – Ohio Premiere!

10:30 PM          THIS GIRL IS BAD-ASS!! (2012) – Ohio Premiere!

Tuesday, August 13              

1:30 PM             ELECTION (2005)

The Ghost School Trilogy – First combined screening in the Midwest! Patrons can see WHISPERING CORRIDORS, MEMENTO MORI, and WISHING STAIRS at normal prices or all three for $15!

4:30 PM             WHISPERING CORRIDORS (1998)

7:30 PM             MEMENTO MORI (1999)

10:30 PM          WISHING STAIRS (2003) – Closing Night Screening!


So That Happened… Chirpers, Episode 3


I realize that I have neglected to keep you up to date on the breathlessly fascinating world of the young telephone sales folk in the pod outside my office door, affectionately known by me as The Chirpers. The negligence! So, rather than work five full days last week, I spent most of one day eavesdropping. Before you  judge remember– they sit right outside my door and talk incessant inanities. I’m not made of stone.

Anyway, here’s the blow by blow.


9:40 am:

Chirper #1: I’m really trying to lose three pounds.

Three pounds. A conversation about three pounds. Hey, I know! Maybe walk away from my office to burn off those lbs!

Chirper #2: No you don’t!

Chirper #1: I’m really super stoked about it. Look! It’s a power hot yoga.

Chirper #2: Let me have that website!

This looks to be a productive day all around.


10:20 am:

Chirper #2: I got home last night and everything was gone. Every cup, every bowl. I mean, the china bowls, but even the plastic. I mean, it was hers, but she just got married and she got all this free stuff. She doesn’t need it. I was such a good friend to her. I did so much for her. And now she does this.

Oh my God, the tragedy! After getting all that free stuff for getting married, she pulls something as heinous as packing her own belongings and leaving the chirper without plasticware! Honestly, how did she even manage to face the day? The courage…


11:00 am:

Chirper #3: The stuff is so cute. Aqua, purple…

C#1: My gosh, look at this…

C#3: The dresses are so darling!

C#1: Uch, an hour and a half of shopping. I just don’t really get anything done before noon

I’d insert a snide comment, but I have also gotten nothing done. Damn their fascinating idiocy! 


11:15 am:

C#1: Wait, do you have nuts over here?

C#2: Yep. In those clear drawers there’s walnuts and almonds.

C#1: Thanks, babe.

Forgot those three pounds already? Oh, well, hot power yoga and all, babe.


1:10 pm:

C#1: Three of her kids’ birthdays are today.

C#2: How many does she have?

C#1: Five

C#2: And wait, three have the same birthday? I didn’t know that.

C#1: Yep.

Wait, I hear something in that “yep.” This is going somewhere.

C#2: So, what is nine months before that that they always do it?

C#1: Let’s look. So it would be nine months to the day, right?

Mischievous AND biologically unaware. These two are hot today.

C#2: Ha ha ha ha. The guarantee day.

Those imps!


2:40 pm:

C#3: What is it you say, it’s like pushing a watermelon through something? It’s a saying. People say it. It’s like pushing a watermelon through something. It’s like an analogy or something. I can’t think of it. I’m bored.

You tell me, how am I expected to concentrate with monologues like this one unraveling outside my door?


3:30 pm:

C#2: No. They’re doing it wrong. Your leg should be level. You’re doing it the right way. I have to say, this is very cheerleaderesque.

C#1: I cannot even deal with you. You are the skinniest little….

C#3: I know. You are.

The three of them were looking at images online and physically mimicking whatever it was they were seeing, striking poses (hot yoga?) and congratulating each other for looking better than the image. During the work day. Within eyeshot of everyone in the office. You have to almost admire them. 


4:20 pm:

C#1: Oh my God, I have been literally on the phone all day!

C#2: I know!

I’m sorry – what? Do you mean that you were sitting on top of the phone itself? Because that is actually possible, given the amount of work you’ve accomplished, but it is not what you mean, given that you do not understand the definition of the word “literally”. 


Weekend Countdown: Bruuuuuuuce!

Maybe you just can’t wait until Tuesday’s screening of Springsteen and I, or maybe the E Street doc is not showing near you. Well, if you are suffering from a Springsteen movie jones, we have the cure.

The Boss has lent his talents – and in one case, his actual person – to bunches of films. Most of them are even worth seeing.

6) Light of Day (1987)

In concert, Springsteen has recalled the tale that led him to pen the song Light of Day, which Joan Jett sings for the film of the same name. Filmmaker Paul Schrader had sent him a screenplay entitled Born in the USA – a title Bruce stole outright for this other little song he’d been working on. In return, Springsteen wrote the rocking number that may be the only non-ridiculous thing about Schrader’s film.

5) Limbo (1999)

John Sayles’s weird romance turned noir turned adventure/thriller will keep you guessing. I suppose it’s only fair, then, that you may not immediately link the film’s song Lift Me Up to Springsteen. Singing in an unusual (for that time in his career, anyway) falsetto, Springsteen’s lyrics underscore the characters’ beleaguered search for redemption.

4) The Wrestler (2008)

Mickey Rourke’s succinct and frighteningly honest characterization of a performer with a shelf life found a lovely, lyrical mirror in Springsteen’s song of the same name.

3) Dead Man Walking (1995)

Springsteen garnered an Oscar nomination for his positively devastating song to accompany this positively devastating film. Beautiful, brutal and tragic – like the film – Springsteen’s lyrics put you in the conscience of a man on death row.

2) Philadelphia (1993)

Springsteen’s spare, haunting tune describes a conscience wrestling with  shame, abandonment, redemption, and resignation. Underscoring the humanity in Jonathan Demme’s flawed but powerful film, Streets of Philadelphia won Springsteen an Oscar.

1) High Fidelity (2000)

Springsteen’s The River joins a slew of kick ass songs on the soundtrack, but High Fidelity boasts something the rest of these flicks do not. Bruce himself shows up, guitar in hand, to offer advice to the romantically misguided Rob Gordon (John Cusack).

These People Love Their Boss


by George Wolf


Look, I admit it. Asking me to review a Bruce Springsteen documentary sounds about as fair and balanced as Sean Hannity giving his thoughts on The Sarah Palin Story. I’m a Springsteen devotee, no doubt about it, but Springsteen and I will not only thrill fans such as myself, but also give the uninitiated a glimpse into what drives the Cult of the Boss.

From Executive Producer Ridley Scott, the film doesn’t focus as much on Bruuuuuce as it does his legendary fan base. Utilizing the same approach that drove Scott’s Life in a Day (2011), and Japan in a Day (2012), Springsteen and I is a story told by everyday people.

Bruce fans all over the world were encouraged to submit their own videos, describing how his music has affected them, the place it holds in their lives and, well, anything else they felt moved to share.

Director Baillie Walsh assembles the best of the bunch, mixing in Springsteen performances from the archives, and in many cases, video evidence from moments when the lucky ones rubbed elbows with The Boss.

You can’t help but smile when you hear stories of the man who went to a Bruce show dressed in full-on Elvis, or the women who made an “I’ll be your Courtney Cox” sign, and then watch as Bruce invites them to share his stage.

It’s an entertaining approach, and one that also allows for more heartfelt submissions, such as the man who suddenly bursts into tears when describing how the music has changed him, or the couple who, despite never having been to a Springsteen show, feel part of the fan community simply by dancing to Bruce music at home.

Of course, Springsteen isn’t everyone’s favorite(?), and one women’s fandom is hilariously described by her husband. After years of tagging along to Bruce’s marathon performances, the man pleads for Bruce to “make his concerts shorter!”

Springsteen and I is a thoroughly enjoyable take on the power of music, and much like a Springsteen show, offers a lengthy encore.  Stay put after the credits roll for some great concert footage and a backstage peek at a special Bruce meet and greet session.

Lucky bastards.


Springsteen and I will show again in Columbus, and all over the world, July 30th at 7:30pm. The local showing will again be at Lennox. Outside Columbus, check here for a showing at the same time.





Sideburns and Samurai

The Wolverine

by Hope Madden

The Wolverine seems invulnerable, but on the inside, he’s a heartbroken, wounded mess. Doesn’t that make him dreamy?

Ever since he had to go and kill Jean – the psychotic, clairvoyant killing machine and love of his life – he hasn’t been the same. He just exists, just goes on, pointlessly … kind of like this movie.

The latest in the X-Men franchise is certainly a let down from 2011’s exceptionally fun and clever X-Men: First Class. This episode finds Logan/Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) holed up in a cave, living the life of a semi-boozy hermit, befriended, or at least tolerated, by a neighboring grizzly. But he’s lured out of hermitage by some dangerously incompetent hunters and a sword-wielding young woman with a request from Logan’s past.

Come to Tokyo, she says. I’ll have you home tomorrow, she says.

Wolverine is quickly sucked into yakuza/ninja/samurai/mutant/romantic intrigue.

In Japan we’re treated to too  much sentiment, not enough action, and not nearly enough opportunity for Jackman to break out of Logan’s morose romanticism and crack a few jokes. Director James Mangold’s preoccupied with honor, courage and love – solid enough staples for a samurai-tinged action film, but a humorless Wolverine is just no fun at all.

The film takes a comic book hero, casts him as a routine vampire cliché (the tragic-romantic immortal who wishes to be human), then paints everything with a mixture of several eras of Japanese crime cinema. But vampires and samurai tales require blood, and lots of it. Comic book movies – even when the hero slashes through everything with metal claws – are bloodless. The combination just doesn’t work.

Mangold continues to take the X-Men path less traveled by supplying so very few mutants. One common weakness of late-franchise superhero flicks is that they throw dozens of villains at you in the hopes of drawing your attention away from script weaknesses. Mangold has the bravery to avoid this gimmick, supplying only on mutant villain, Viper (Svetlana Khodchenkova – whose name is exponentially more interesting than her character).

The result? We can see how weak his script is.

The Wolverine does boast some cool action sequences – especially that bit on top of the train – and Jackman has more than enough talent and brawn to keep the movie interesting. But mostly the film dives into Logan’s internal scarring and seeks to help him appreciate his immortality and his purpose. Maybe next he can rediscover his sense of humor.


Outtakes: Young Filmmakers Debut New Project Saturday


When is a midnite movie not a midnite movie?

This Saturday at 11:30pm, when local aspiring filmmakers Gus Dieker and Max Wilson will debut their new feature at the Grandview Theatre (1247 Grandview Ave., 43212).

Entitled Bundeloafe II:  The Return of Jaffar, the “no budget” feature tells the story of an anatomically unique young man (Dieker) who is taken into outer space and told the survival of the universe hinges on his movie-making skills.

Dieker and Wilson will conduct a Q&A following the screening, and promise the evening will feature everything from giveaways to beautiful women and more.

Admission for the screening is, in the filmmakers words, “5 U.S. dollars.”

Yeah, It was Great..Really.


by George Wolf


Fifteen minutes in, The To Do List has the feel of something assembled from one. That list must have been titled “teenage girl sex comedy,” with the filmmaker checking off the elements required to get her point across.

It is the debut feature for writer/director Maggie Carey, a TV and web series veteran. Twelve years ago, in one of her first credited projects, Carey directed Ladyporn, a documentary about making porn films that center on female sexual fulfillment.

Clearly, women’s sexuality in film is an issue close to her heart, which is justifiable, but The To Do List only proves weak sex comedies can go both ways.

It is the summer before college for uptight, brainiac Brandy (Aubrey Plaza), and meeting a hot older guy at a party prompts her to make a list of sexual acts she needs to experience before finally losing the V card.

Those acts, save for one scene of She Boppin‘, aren’t overly graphic, but the language gets down and dirty.  That’s expected of a sex comedy, but alongside the cliched characters and their obvious situations, it all reaches a point of protesting too much, trying too hard to prove that a women’s point of view has been neglected in these types of films.

Not that Carey isn’t right, she is. But the best of the male centered “virgin” films, such as American Pie or Superbad, featured memorable characters that were at the very least funny and a bit unpredictable. The To Do List features none of that.

The film’s timing isn’t much help, either, as Brandy takes a lifeguard job at a pool with an older, unconventional boss (Bill Hader). That’s also a pivotal setting in The Way, Way Back, a far superior coming of age film that hit theaters just last week.

Maybe the biggest surprise is Plaza, fresh from her terrific breakout performance last year in Safety Not Guaranteed. She can’t seem to make Brandy much more than a caricature, but seeing the same fate befall the always solid Connie Britton and Clark Gregg (as Brandy’s parents) leads the trail right back to weaknesses in script and direction.

Pardon the pun, but Carey may have been trying too hard the first time.





For Your Queue: Two Looks at the Next Streep

Writer/director Sally Potter’s poignant semi-autobiography Ginger & Rosa comes out on DVD today. Elle Fanning flawlessly leads a wonderful cast through the crises of adolescence, terrible parenting, and Cuban missiles. Her exceptional talent appears almost effortless, and her vulnerability in this role is heartbreaking. If we’re taking bets on the next Meryl Streep, the smartest money may just be on Fanning.

For more proof, have a look at Somewhere, writer/director Sofia Coppola’s tale of a spoiled movie star (Stephen Dorff) getting a surprise visit from his estranged daughter (Fanning). It is a sparse film, as Coppola returns to the detached style she showcased so beautifully with Lost in Translation. Though you may wonder where it’s headed, stick with it.  Coppola has crafted a beautiful mediation on the value of being needed, and it might one day be remembered as the watershed film of a legendary actress.


Weekend Countdown: It’s Raining Sharks!


Still high from Sharknado? Has it opened your eyes to the brilliance of terrible, terrible filmmaking? Are you jonesing for more ineptly crafted, heinously scripted, poorly acted waterborne malevolence? We thought so. Here are five of the best worst water terrors ever made. You’re welcome.

5. Jaws: The Revenge (1987)

Michael Caine has argued that this is not his very worst movie. He may be right, but this delusion of a great white shark who figures out the exact flight Ellen Brody is taking to the Bahamas and follows it so it can continue the Sharks’ gang war against the Brodys sure is bad.

4. Piranha (1978)

An absent minded investigator and the town drunk unintentionally unleash mutant piranha just upstream from a water park on the river. Given that it’s all their fault, they’re pretty self righteous about the whole thing. The fish themselves seem to be flat paper cutouts pasted to popsicle sticks, which is just as terrifying as it sounds.

3. Piranha 2: The Spawning (1981)

James Cameron, everybody! That’s right, his first deep sea adventure did not involve a capsized romance, but flying man eating piranha. That’s right – they fly. Sure, it might look like they’ve just been tossed by someone standing just off camera, but no. Cameron regular Lance Hendrickson should be glad he’s not a black man or a topless woman on this island, because those are these fishies’ favorite flavors.

2. Super Shark (2011)

Eventually, the best of the worst mutant animal films made the leap from the big screen to SciFi network, and few things leap as well as a Super Shark! John Schneider tarnishes his reputation (yep, it’s that bad)  that pits a flying, hopping shark against a tank with legs. It kicks the shark. That’s worth seeing.

1.  Sharktopus (2010)

This is the one film on the countdown most likely to quench the thirst left by Sharknado. Roger Corman – the producer responsible for most of the films on this list, most of the films on SciFi, and quite possibly most of the worst films ever made – gave us this epic tale of a killing machine that’s half great white, half giant octopus. It’s enormous, unrealistic, and it brings an unsatisfying hunger for bad actors.


Those should keep you busy while you wait for Sharknado 2!


Nightmare in Red

Only God Forgives

by Hope Madden

Welcome to Hell.

Writer/director/Dane Nicolas Winding Refn’s follow up to the magnificent Drive drops viewers in a Bangkok straight out of Dante’s imagination for a revenge thriller like few others. It’s Only God Forgives, and love it or hate it, you will be amazed.

Julian (Ryan Gosling) finds himself obliged to avenge his brother’s murder. Problem is, his brother was a very nasty man. But Julian’s mom wants vengeance, and Julian’s mom (Kristin Scott Thomas, as you have never seen her) is much, much worse.

It’s a slight premise. What’s more, the characters are profoundly one-dimensional, the dialogue is borderline nonexistent, and what verbiage there is will hardly stick with you. Plus, Winding Refn’s pacing makes the slow boil of Drive look like a madcap romp – all of which feeds into the trancelike quality that makes the film so unusual.

Only God Forgives is a nightmare in red. The tale unspools as if you are inside a dream, saturated in colors and patterns and flowing into ever darker and more awful areas of Julian’s mind.

The filmmaker channels Lynch and Kubrick, but crafts something undeniably his own. Few directors are so bold with color, and he’s an absolute madman with score. For this, his ninth film, he strips away the more traditional elements of storytelling to rely on the image to affect us. Given the vulgar themes and percussive violence, it may not be an image you want, but it is never less than mesmerizing to look at – every shot a brutally gorgeous image.

Gosling’s strong, silent smolder is on high in this one, but it’s the always formidable Kristin Scott Thomas and her unsavory cruelty who steals the picture. It’s unlike anything she’s done in the past, perhaps because it’s unlike any other part out there. And a bad mom will fuck you up, I’ll tell you what.

These are bad people, all of them, with nasty business to attend to.  Awash in righteous indignation, defilement and spoiled masculinity, the film is little more than a dream sequence of death. The battle is not good versus evil, though, because Officer Chang’s (Vithaya Pansringarm) tidy, tight-lipped sadism shows no moral justification.

Only God Forgives is not a film for the squeamish, the impatient, or the sleepy – as the deep and hearty snores from the seats behind me attest. Too bad, because they missed one wallop of a movie.