Friday, December 24, 2010

and again thru the House...

Three minutes to the 25th here at the House of Sparrows, and your proprietor, and all within the House, sincerely wish you all the best this holiday season.

Sunday, December 19, 2010


Shot piecemeal over several years on 8mm, this movie tells the story of an assassin brought out of retirement to chase two briefcases in exchange for the name of the man who killed his wife.

Aside from genre mainstay Danny Trejo and a couple of other veterans (including Mark Metcalf), there are few professional actors in this movie, giving the blocky setups a leaden and weird vibe. Filmmaker Frankie Latina seems to have drafted acquaintances at his various locations (including Milwaukee, Tokyo, and Taipei) - the film may well have been shot on different vacations, which is borne out by the home movie feel of the thing. Most of these performers are at least enthusiastic, and give Latina credit for including as much male nudity as female.

It's completely devoid of polish, chock full of filler, and listlessly acted...but it's never, ever boring, with a few action scenes that pop up out of nowhere. One never knows what's coming, and the off-kilter delirium does pay off come the action-packed, profoundly insane climactic shootout (though there's still about fifteen minutes after that, including a couple minutes of low-budget sci-fi and a final explosion that, disappointingly, we don't get to see.)

The cult that is allowing Tommy Wiseau to control their responses to his shitty, shitty, shitty movie THE ROOM would do well to discover this movie - it's less pretentious and a lot more fun.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010


A smart little 1981 horror flick, with tourists being waylaid in a small Northern California town and murdered by the locals. The sheriff gets a bit dismayed as it becomes clear that the victims are coming back to life, and assuming roles in his otherwise sleepy town. It's an effective and funny little flick that plays a number of notes very well, from the quietness of the opening to the good-humored quirkiness of the townsfolk, everything deliberately and smartly building to a gloriously hysterical finale. The Mendocino settings are evocative, with even interior shots seemingly shot through a thin layer of fog. More than worth a look, and utterly deserving of its cult status

Sunday, December 5, 2010


Come on in.

An ideal film for winter, as icy and chilling as a perfect gin & tonic. Anthony Shaffer's play gets rewritten by Harold Pinter, restaged by director Kenneth Branagh and production designer Tim Harvey, performed by Michael Caine and Jude Law, and observed by you.

The story unfolds in a gorgeously chilly, always-in-motion house filled with surveillance technology, contemporary British art and reflective surfaces.

Indeed, Caine and Law serve as mirrors to each other in myriad ways...

...not the least of which is Law playing a role essayed by Caine in the film's previous version. The house, as many cinematic interiors before it, is a reflection of a character's psychology, though whose psychology exactly is open to question - the battle of wills between Wyke and Tindle rages unabated, with the house changing allegiances and favoring each in turn throughout.

...but the house is a liminal zone that fills the whims of Pinter and Branagh as well.

This ladder, for example, exists within the house for no apparent practical purpose but to serve Wyke's frame job in act I. Was this plan in the cards during the house's design phase?

The film serves gorgeously as an ambient film, drawing you into its vicious spaces thru screen upon screen. It's bound to its single set like a stage play, but takes you through it in a way only possible in film. The set reveals its spaces just as Pinter's languages opens its own pit traps. Fall in.