Being based on a video game certainly doesn't suggest a film to be of any sort of quality, does it? Let's look at the track record of game to film adaptations, before we get started, shall we?
I enjoy the films of Kevin Smith. I enjoy his dialogue and characters, and find his movies to be terribly funny, regardless of the lowbrow humor contained within. He proved, with "Chasing Amy", that he was capable of writing an intelligent film, without sacrificing the characters and dialogue we'd come to expect from his films. "Chasing Amy" is now considered by many to be a genuinely important film in the approach Kevin Smith took to deal with the subject matter. It is also considered by many to be his best film.
"Dolls," the third feature directed by the ever-consistently good Stuart Gordon, takes a slightly different approach to its content than his prior films. Where "Re-Animator" and "From Beyond" were horror films, with doses of dark humor scattered throughout, "Dolls" approaches its subject matter in near opposite fashion. The humour is much less subtle, and is certainly more prevalent throughout the film. The humor is never classless, however, it is achieved through wonderful bits of dialogue, which are either genuinely funny, or deliberately cheesy, and never seem out of place. It's perfectly enjoyable entertainment, if not all that scary.
“Dolls” was Stuart Gordon's third film after the instantly classic “Re-Animator” and the perhaps even more notorious “From Beyond”. It is considered by some to be his biggest disappointment, and for many people this may be true. While “Dolls” may not have had the crazy violence and gore of Gordon's previous work (there is definitely some, but what movies are as crazy as those two pictures?), and therefore disappointed people who were expecting more of the same, it is similar to his other work in its underline ambition. Gordon never hesitates to go over the top with his cinema, and with this feature, he throws everything he possibly can at his target audience to achieve what he wishes to. Simply put, “Dolls” is a film made for people who are afraid of dolls.
"Drag Me to Hell" is a near perfect horror movie. Now, when I say 'near perfect', I don't mean it can be compared alongside the classics, "Halloween", "A Nightmare on Elm Street", or even Raimi's own "Evil Dead" series; however, for the summer season of the year 2009, "Drag Me to Hell" is nearly perfect. With the cinematic horror climate as it is, we are being bombarded with remake after remake ("My Bloody Valentine 3D", "Friday the 13th" and countless others), and really the only quality horror is coming from the independents, or overseas (“Isolation”, “Martyrs”).
Donnie Yen is, without question, the most under-rated martial artist currently working in the film industry. That's not to say he's not as respected as he should be, it's just that far too few people know who he is. This is most likely due to the fact that he has yet to have a breakthrough role in an American film, or even a wide release of one of his Hong Kong actioners. In fact, I think the most significant role he's had in anything released in North America was 2002's Hero. It's unfortunate, as I would argue that his natural talent is unparalleled by anyone working in the industry today.
At the time "Eating Raoul" came out, I'm sure it was very important. It has subject matter that was rarely talked about in those times, and also a sense of biting satire that wasn't exactly the fashion in that time period's cinema. I can't think of anything modern that would compare on "Eating Raoul"'s scale for controversy or historic relevance. I give it props for attempting this kind of success while also focusing on making a comedy. There hasn't been a lot of films in the comedy genre that are remembered for being edgy, violent, and worthy societal comment, and I will refuse not to give Paul Bartel his props for creating one.
I'm finding it difficult lately to be able to express myself as easy as before. I am currently on a movie-watching tirade, and it seems like things are blending into each other faster than I get the chance to review them. "El Bola" is the second in a series of independent foreign cinema that I plan on watching, and it seems like precisely the kind of thing to get me out of my funk. American cinema just doesn't have the ability to feel like this, even though it occasionally tackles the subject matter.
I think the best way to discuss "El Topo" is to first mention that you're not going to find much else out there like it. I can't really make a list of films out there like it … It's an art house western, and I don't mean like "Even Cowgirls Get the Blues"-kind of art house western. I mean waaaaaaaaay off the deep end of art house… and pretty brutal as a western as well.
I feel the need to preface this review with an apology to Mr. Herzog. I called him out a bit in my "Rescue Dawn" review and as it turns out, it was completely unwarranted. I still stand by my convictions on “Rescue Dawn” as an entity as I do not understand its purpose, but to question Herzog's aging mental state was unwarranted. With "Encounters at the End of the World" he has once again created something surprising and ultimately fulfilling. I was wrong to believe that Herzog was on the decline.