Ninjas in the modern world? Isn’t that something from 16th Century feudal Japan? The basic premise of the entertaining and graphically violent film Ninja Assassin is that the clans still exist and that they are behind some of the most mysterious of assassinations, all paid for using the ancient calculation of a man’s life being worth 100 pounds of gold.
I’m an unabashed fan of old, low-budget movies, but even having seen tons of them, I still hadn’t seen what is considered one of the very worst films ever made, Troll II. It’s so bad, actually, that it’s become a cult favorite, in the same spirit as The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Dawn of the Dead, and more.
Though I can’t say that I’m an unabashed fan of the recent Pixar animated film Up (see my review of Up), I did enjoy it and certainly feel that the first 30 minutes or so stand up as some of the best scenes in a motion picture I’ve ever seen, animated or otherwise.
In a world of children’s films increasingly characterized by technological accomplishment and sophisticated rendering in lieu of good old-fashioned storytelling, it was a breath of fresh air to enjoy the stop-motion Fantastic Mr. Fox.
If we land on another planet — or back here on Earth — and find something other than what we expect, who is the alien in that situation, the modern day Earthman, or the local? It’s a plot staple of the classic old Twilight Zone series and the basis of a lot of films, including the entire Planet of the Apes series. It’s the allegorical mirror of Pogo’s famous “we have met the enemy and he is us.”
Showing at the Starz Denver Film Festival, I was sent a screener of the curious film Caja Negra (Black Box), a short (80minute) Mexican thriller, directed by Ariel Gordon. In Spanish with English subtitles, it’s almost two completely different films spliced together, but in a very interesting manner.
Can you hear that sound? It’s a crack slowly but unceasingly running through the Earth, a crack that will tear buildings apart, leave gaping crevasses where previously there were roads, and rip children out of their parent’s hands, to plummet to their deaths as the world collapses. But all is not lost, a few hundred thousand people have a secret plan to escape the worldwide destruction and start humanity anew, reseeding the Earth post-apocalypse.
If you’re in Colorado, you owe it to yourself to check out the lineup and go see a film or two at the terrific, world-class Starz Denver Film Festival, opening tomorrow, Nov 12th, 2009. Here are some interesting facts to whet your appetite:
- Total number of films: 210
- Number of “sneak peaks”: 1
- Number of documentaries: 56 (including shorts)
- Number of features: 124
- Numbers of shorts: 86
- Number of U.S. films: 115
- Number of Colorado films: 21
- Longest film of the Festival: Raging Sun, Raging Sky (191 minutes)
- Shortest film of the Festival: Enter the Sandbox (2 minutes)
- Total number of minutes of film to be screened: 12,460 minutes
- Number of countries represented: 37