Good camp films know what they are doing. They manipulate the audience into feeling exaggerated sorts of emotion and possess a sort of bravura that makes them unabashedly watchable. Based on Alain Corneau’s 2010 film Love Crime, Brian De Palma’s new offering, Passion, is definitely campy, but oftentimes it borders on just plain stupid. It is aimlessly over-the-top with eye-rolling twists and turns – for nearly the last quarter of the film, De Palma wastes the audience’s time with fake out after fake out (just kidding, guys – she was dreaming… TIMES FIVE!). The director lacks the artfulness in filmmaking that he once possessed in classics like Dressed to Kill. Christine (Rachel McAdams, scenery-chewing rather excellently) is a young, high-powered ad executive working in Berlin. She wants to work in New York City again but needs the right account to bring her enough success to propel that next move. Her answer, or so she thinks, comes in the form of Isabelle James (Noomi Rapace) – a “genius” creator of ad campaigns who she calls upon to come up with a marketing concept for a new smartphone.


Batman Returns - Penguin

Part of the appeal of Christopher Nolan’s Batman films is that the basic conceit informing their aesthetic seems so natural. Batman is one of few major superheroes that isn’t actually a super-hero. Batman mythology, then, lends itself to a degree of plausibility more than, say, Superman or Spider-Man, so why not manifest a vision of Batman that embraces this particular aspect that distinguishes this character from most superhero mythologies? But realism has not been a characteristic that unifies Batman’s many representations in the moving image. Through the eyes of Tim Burton and Joel Schumacher, the Batman of tentpole studio filmmaking has occupied either a world of gothic architecture and shadowy noir, or one of schizophrenic camp. From 1989 to 1997, Batman was interpreted by visionary directors with potent aesthetic approaches, but approaches that did not necessarily aim to root the character within a landscape of exhaustive Nolanesque plausibility.


The 25th Reich

Meet your new fear: Time-Traveling Nazis. An band of Australian movie misfits has decided to continue the legacy of Brian Trenchard-Smith and other down under heroes of exploitation by sending Nazis into the future. It’s an idea close to Iron Sky‘s Moon Nazi concept, but the results look far different. And far more low rent. With Asylum-level effects, The 25th Reich from director Stephen Amis made our list of interesting projects out of Berlin, and now the trailer promises not to take itself too seriously. With an SS spider-robot squeaking out “Heil Hitler!” it would be hard to. The movie focuses on an elite squad of US soldiers in the outback given a task by OSS to travel in time and save the future from those spider-robots and their Nazi overlords. It looks aggressively cheesy. But hopefully that’s part of the fun. Check out the trailer for yourself:


The Best Short Films

Why Watch? Arm yourself against the biggest threat in your town. This short features the wonderful camp that comes with recreating the absurdly smiley public service announcements of the 1950s. Instead of advising you to hide under your desk to protect yourself from easily avoidable radiation fallout, this film wants to warn you of a pie-stealing, porno-reading infestation of hobos. Funny? Yes. Informative? You bet. Life saving? Probably. Of course, that’s assuming that none of these rail-riders is packing a shotgun. What does it cost? Just 6 minutes of your time. Check out The Hobo Menace for yourself:


Breaking Dawn

When I purchased my ticket for the Thursday night midnight show of Twilight: Breaking Dawn – Part 1, I had no idea what I was in for; not because I hadn’t seen any of the previous Twilight films – I have, in fact, seen them all – but because I had never seen a Twilight film in a theater before, much less on opening night. The Twilight subculture befuddles me, as I’m sure it does any non-initiate of the series. Having seen all the films, I still feel like I’m viewing them from afar, like it’s some strange anthropological project of a phenomenon whose worth and value I will never fully understand. Twilight seems to encapsulate the drastic changes that have taken place in big-budget event filmmaking in the last thirty years. Rather than a film made with the intent of mass appeal (like franchises ranging from Indiana Jones to Jason Bourne), the Twilight films play almost exclusively to a specific – but dedicated – demographic. Of course, one could make this argument about many film franchises. Everything from Star Trek to The Dark Knight certainly have rabid fanbases at their core, but the audiences for these films seem to be “filled in” with a significant amount of casual fans. For example, I once viewed the Harry Potter films similarly to the way I now approach Twilight – not in terms of filmmaking quality, mind you, but in terms of being a cult phenomenon surrounding a fictional narrative that I […]



While insanely different, the words “raunch” and “camp” often get confused or misused when describing films. They both are expressions for a type of subculture within explicit films; Camp stemming from a “love of the unnatural” (Susan Sontag, “Notes on ‘Camp’”) and often used to reference gay-themed or identified films, while “raunch” originally meant anything that was highly vulgar or obscene. Both words have evolved over the decades from their harsher, more exact meanings to softer, even fluffy uses today. How many times have you used raunch to describe a slightly suggestive moment in a film, where in fact you probably meant risqué or gauche? Hell, I did it last night when discussing the new film Horrible Bosses, which is what spurred this whole exploration of the two phrases. Before Sontag named and defined it in the 1960s, the manifestation of camp elements in Hollywood went all the way back to the invention of the medium. Comedies like Charlie Chaplin’s 1916 film Behind the Screen presented cross-dressing and male-male loving. The “gay” kiss between the two main characters is later revealed to be a straight kiss between Chaplin and his co-star Edna Purviance. This film was controversial, but audiences embraced the over-the-top antics of Chaplin (arguably one of the purveyors of “camp”) and flocked to the theaters to see more from the mustached tramp and his pre-Code/pre-Talkie contemporaries.



Now to see if they’ll play it as a double feature with Spider-Man 4

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published: 02.01.2015
published: 01.31.2015
published: 01.30.2015
published: 01.30.2015

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