Quint plays with some DEAD BIRDS and oogles Sarah Silverman in JESUS IS MAGIC at SXSW!!!
Published at: March 21, 2005, 3:34 a.m. CST by staff
Ahoy, squirts! Quint here with a few mini-reviews of the last two flicks I saw at South By Southwest this year: DEAD BIRDS (horror flick) and Sarah Silverman's JESUS IS MAGIC (comedy musical/stand-up flick). I've only got one more round of reviews that'll hit either later today or tomorrow, so I'll try to be as concise as possible.
I really fuckin' dug this film. I almost blew it off because I've heard the ending was really predictable and a friend of mine saw it and thought it was boring. Maybe I really love this film because I went in expecting it to be shitty or at the very least dull, but for whatever reason this movie really, really worked for me.
The set-up is simple. You have a group of bank robbers in the 1800s hiding out with some confederate gold in an out of the way plantation-like house. Creepy shit happens. Visions, creatures, possessions, ghosts, etc. It actually felt a lot like a video game set-up. You have the creepy dark house, the even creepier cornfield that surrounds the place, the fucked up barn, the door that won't open until the very end of the story, etc. I wish director Alex Turner had gotten ahold of RESIDENT EVIL before Paul WS Anderson turned it into a weak actioneer ALIENS rip-off. He understands the pacing and the level of reveals needed to pull off one of those horror video games as a feature film as is evident in this original film.
I've come to find that this film was just released straight to video by Lion's Gate and having looked up the DVD and seeing the cover I can safely say, "Ignore that crappy direct to video looking shitty ass cover." This movie has pitch perfect pacing, a great cast, great cinematography, genuine scares and an interesting story.
The pacing isn't slow or boring. To me it was very deliberately paced with a scare or real bit of tension happening regularly. There was never any moment of the movie where I was thinking, "All right... get on with it, already!" The film opens with a gunfight and we get a monster 10 minutes later. No shit. A creepy monster no less, with needle-like teeth and grotesque pink skin like an aborted rat except the size of an average sized dog.
The cast is full of familiar faces and names. Henry Thomas (ET) leads the gang, which features his brother, played by Patrick Fugit (ALMOST FAMOUS), his right-hand man Isaiah Washington (who is badass, by the way), his woman Nicki Lynn Aycox and a pair of untrustworthy sorts played by Michael Shannon (TIGERLAND, VANILLA SKY, 8 MILE) and Mark Boone Junior who seems to have been in everything ever shot, including MEMENTO and the upcoming BATMAN BEGINS.
The tension in this movie is truly what makes it succeed, though. The cast is very important, but the atmosphere, sound design, cinematography and structure is what makes it stick out to me. The last time I was this tense in a theater was when I saw JU-ON: THE GRUDGE at AFM a couple years ago, before it was known. I don't think DEAD BIRDS is as good a film as JU-ON, but that's not a knock against it.
The monsters are well designed. The only negative is that there are a few scenes that are overly CGIed out, but there's nothing in this film that is as ridiculous as the "Jack-Pot" eyes in THE GRUDGE.
Also, to be clear, the ending is not what you'd expect, it's not a cliche. I know I was surprised. All in all, I strongly suggest hitting your local video store and checking this one out. I just wish Lions Gate would quit releasing their shitty movies like ALONE IN THE DARK to 2000 screens and put out a genuinely scary horror film like DEAD BIRDS.
JESUS IS MAGIC
This movie is pissing me off. Sarah Silverman totally kicks all sorts of ass in this combo documentary/musical/stand-up special, but what is pissing me off is I have 2 or 3 of the songs in the film stuck in my head and there is absolutely no info about where I can purchase the soundtrack, order a DVD or even a CD version of the stand-up act. It's really pissing me off.
Sarah Silverman is hot-hot-hot. I've always thought so, going back into the Mr. Show days. Her appearances on DINNER FOR 5 with Jon Favreau are awesome and I have a huge mega-ungodly crush on her. This film is the last movie I saw at SXSW and it was everything I could have hoped it'd be: Funny, graphic, lewd, offensive to damn near every class of people and totally out of left field. There are 3 or 4 big musical numbers that break up the stand-up and each one is memorable.
My favorite being the song she sings to a room full of elderly... not older people, but fuckin' old people... while dressed in a school girl outfit, complete with plaid skirt and pig tails, and strumming an acoustic guitar that has the chorus of "You're going to die." Now, they don't cut it so she says all the offensive things about the fact that the audience is on death's door in close up and then have the more non-offensive things during the wide-shots with the elderly in it. In other words, she was really singing this cute, melodious song with fuckin' awful mean things in it to these poor old people. It's great!
This flick was directed by Liam Lynch who directed Tenacious D's TRIBUTE music video and is directing the TENACIOUS D movie. After seeing the flair he has for directing catching musical scenes in this flick I am 100% psyched to see his work on the TENACIOUS D movie!
The stand-up work is superb and like some of the best comedians who have ever graced the stage (Lenny Bruce, Bill Hicks and George Carlin come to mind) Sarah Silverman's material is downright offensive. She doesn't pull any punches while highlighting the subtle racism that exists today. For example, she does a bit about how now that she's nearing 30, she's getting near the time when having children is dangerous for her and the baby. She says the best time to have a baby, really, is when you're a black teenager.
She's just so damn cute and innocent when she says that stuff you can't really take it to heart. If you get a chance to see JESUS IS MAGIC, go for it. This year has been great at SXSW for films that showcase the best comedians of the past, present and future. THE ARISTOCRATS was brilliant and features every comedian you can think of, Patton Oswalt/Brian Posehn/Zach Galfianakis/Maria Bamford doco THE COMEDIANS OF COMEDY was damn good and Sarah Silverman's JESUS IS MAGIC had me in tears. She's about as fresh as any comedian working and I hope to hear more of her stuff in the future... That's if I don't go crazy looking for this goddamn soundtrack from JESUS IS MAGIC!!!!
Anyway, I've got one more article to post reviewing two SXSW movies, then I got a bunch of really cool shit for you folks. I should be a busy bee this week, so expect to see a lot of good stuff on the site! 'Til then, this is Quint bidding you all a fond farewell and adieu.