Miami Connection

Discoveries of 2013

It’s late December, and that means two things: your sudden panicked realization that you haven’t completed your holiday shopping, and movie lists. And like every December, FSR is devoting numerous posts to the very best and worst (but mostly best) that 2013 had to offer at the movies. But as movie fans, we don’t only see movies that were released in the year we see them – we might dig into classics and curiosities via online streaming, repertory showings, or simple chance encounters. Year-end lists may summarize the breadth of movies released in theaters throughout the calendar year, but they don’t necessarily reflect the yearly consumption of a dedicated movie fan. To many movie lovers, going to a movie theater can be surprisingly rare, and watching movies follows less of a calendar schedule and works a bit more like time travel: one day you’re in 2013, and the next you’re in 1950s Hollywood, followed by a brief stint in 1980s central Florida, and then back to 2013 again. Furthermore, several distributors (Drafthouse, Milestone, Janus) are increasingly devoting their energy not to releasing new movies, but to reviving under-seen gems. For some of you, 2013 may have had little to do with your movie experience in 2013. So I’ve concocted an alternative year-end list: the 13 (er, 14) most memorable movies I saw in 2013 that weren’t actually released this year. Not necessarily the best, but the movies that most surprised me – the movies that reminded me that no matter […]

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feature the visitor drafthouse films

I was going to review the new reissue of 1979’s The Visitor, but then a funny thing happened. I watched The Visitor. It’s hardly news to say that this thirty four year old movie is a mental fingerbang that bends genres and somehow teases both brilliance and stupidity, but I’m saying it anyway. Both highly derivative and wholly original, the film cherry picks elements from The Omen, The Fury, Phantasm, and more, and then swirls them together in a psychedelic mélange of horror, sci-fi, fantasy, and pure nuttiness as it tells the story of good and evil battling over a young girl’s potty-mouthed soul. There are a handful of small distributors (including Severin Films, Vinegar Syndrome, Synapse Films) that bring weird and obscure older films to home video, but for most of them that’s their niche. It’s what they do, the very purpose of the label, and those of us who love movies are grateful for it. Code Red DVD is one such example, and a fitting one too as they were the first to bring The Visitor to the U.S. in an uncut incarnation on DVD a few years ago (that can still be purchased here). Their reach is small though, so the announcement that Drafthouse Films had acquired the film for a remastered rollout in theaters followed by a Blu-ray/DVD release was music to the ears (and eyes) of strange-cinema fans everywhere. It’s great news for many reasons, but most noticeably it’s a reminder that even with Academy Award nominees […]

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Sharknado

Last week, my partner hosted a screening of Miami Connection, Drafthouse Films’ release of the heretofore largely unseen low-budget Tae Kwon Do musical from 1987, for a small group of friends. Ever the meticulous party-planner, she made the viewing interactive by constructing, amongst a litany of other viewing activities, a series of Bingo cards that our friends could play while watching the film. At first, I was a bit worried that this might make the viewing of a ridiculous ‘80s cult film all too predetermined, forcing our friends to anticipate amazing lines like “I thought we are all orphans” or the transcendent pro-friendship tunes of Dragon Sound ahead of time rather than experiencing these moments organically, as she and I did the first time we saw Miami Connection. Thankfully, I was proven wrong. The interactive viewing was a great success for our dear Miami Connection virgins, and everyone went home whistling “Against the Ninja” whether they wanted to or not. But I’m not interested in talking about a party that went well (okay, maybe a little bit). I’m interested in what something like Miami Connection Bingo cards represent for people seeing the film for the first time: the simultaneous, seemingly paradoxical engagement with cult film initiation and cult film participation.

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Miami Connection

A rock band who practice Tae kwon do and sing about the joys of friendship. Ninjas who move noisily between drug deals on speeding pocket rockets. Welcome to the dangerous world of Orlando, circa 1987, and the little film that found a second chance on eBay. Miami Connection opened and closed in central Florida in 1987, never to see public exposure again, but when an industrious Alamo Drafthouse employee bought a print online for $50 a legend was reborn. The film follows a group of friends who go to college during the day and rock out at night as the house-band for an Orlando nightclub. Their world is shattered though when they’re forced into a confrontation with a rival band, poorly dressed gang members and drug dealing, motorcycle riding ninjas. Let’s listen to some commentary!

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Welcome back to This Week In Discs! Who wants a free DVD of one of this week’s new releases? As always, if you see something you like, click on the image to buy it. The Story of Film: An Odyssey There have been many documentaries about movies, but all of them can pretty much give up and go home now. This British production was six years in the making, filmed across four continents, covers eleven decades and nearly one thousand films in its quest to offer as complete as possible a look at and into the world of cinema. Film historian Mark Cousins begins his journey in the late 1800s and through fifteen hour-long episodes explores the innovators and the ways they helped the art form grow and transform into the films we have today. Filled with film clips, anecdotes, interviews and a deep knowledge of film history, this is a fascinating look at all aspects of cinema. The only criticism I can muster, and it’s a minor one, is that Cousins’ voice may not be the ideal choice for fifteen hours of narration. [Extras: Booklet]

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“Movie House of Worship” is a regular feature spotlighting our favorite movie theaters around the world, those that are like temples of cinema catering to the most religious-like film geeks. This week, guest submitter Zac Alfson shares one of his favorite theaters. His comments are those quoted. If you’d like to suggest or submit a place you regularly worship at the altar of cinema, please email our weekend editor.   Name: Enzian Theater Location: 1300 South Orlando Avenue  Maitland, FL Opened: 1985, as a repertory house screening 6-12 classics per week. Four years later it changed to a first-run arthouse cinema and continues to operate not-for-profit with the help of members, volunteers and donors. No. of screens: 1 Current first-run titles:  Searching for Sugar Man

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Cloud Atlas

What is Movie News After Dark? It’s the thing that will comfort you during the storm. In this case the storm is Hurricane Sandy, who is currently laying down a ravaging to our beloved readers on the East Coast. And the comforting is in the form of the eight best links of the day, all of which will lead you to great reads, listens, watches and otherwise marvelous, nerdy things to look at. 1. We begin this evening with a calculated takedown of the weekend’s biggest new movie, Cloud Atlas. For well over a week, I’ve been struggling to come to terms with my own feelings on the latest from Wachowski Starship. It’s complex, grande and full of moments that are worthy of awe. But it’s also a big mess. And Zach Baron at Grantland’s Cloud Atlas is an overscrambled mess article is perhaps the most adept explanation of the balance between the great and the not-so-great.

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Joseph Diamond in Miami Connection

Yes, you read that right. Putting aside the fact that Miami Connection was made in 1987. Discarding the notion that traditional Academy voters (prudes) might think it to be of a quality that is far below that of precious Oscar. And completely ignoring the part where the “martial arts rock bands vs. motorcycle ninjas” genre doesn’t quite fit in with any of the Golden Globes categories (because that shit is highly dramatic and comedic, ya dig?). All of that aside, the folks at Drafthouse Films are still spending money (what we can only envision is about $35) on a For Your Consideration campaign for the upcoming re-release of Miami Connection. We’re proud to be a part of it with this exclusive look at the FYC ad for Joseph Diamond as Best Supporting Actor. It’s a fistful of awards potential, that’s what it is. To talk about why Diamond is a shoe-in for Best Supporting nods throughout awards season, we consulted our own motorcycle ninjas expert Michael Treveloni. “The emotional complexity helmed by Joseph Diamand is a rare glimpse into the maw of perfection,” explains our pundit. “Like a table saw wobbling on unsteady legs, the threat of violence is there, but it is his control that keeps the cuts from being unkind. With deft execution, Diamand breathes life into the role of Jack, unfolding the character like a two thousand thread-count sheet we’ve all secretly experienced. When he loves. We love. When he is hurt. We are hurt. When he sings… we listen. […]

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Junkfood Cinema - Large

Welcome back to Junkfood Cinema; they don’t make buns like this down at the bakery…well they do, we just bought them all. This is the weekly bad movie column that makes all other bad movie columns look far better by comparison. Every week we serve up a delightfully terrible movie with every intention of ripping it to shreds. But then, as we are forced to spend two hours with that celluloid terror, a funny thing happens. We begin to fall in love. The film engenders a genuine feeling of adoration within us that we can’t always fully articulate even as we articulate it. So yes, Junkfood Cinema has officially been reclassified as a form of Stockholm Syndrome. To wash down the deeply disturbing breakthrough we’ve just had, we will offer a disgustingly awesome snack food themed to the film. Fantastic Fest may be over, but its effects linger like the hangover we may or may not but totally are experiencing as we/I write this. One of those effects is the scorched Earth where once stood the Drafthouse theater that showcased a repertory screening of 1987’s Miami Connection. Now I know what you’re thinking, “Junkerford, isn’t Miami Connection a little too mainstream for this column?” Perhaps you’re right, but my name is Junkseph. However, despite the fact that everyone and their sister, Everywina, has seen this masterpiece, it somehow managed to go unreleased on anything but VHS. Drafthouse films, the harbingers of international genre fare of spectacular quality, as well as […]

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Miami Connection Trailer

Just a couple of weeks ago, what is arguably the best-loved movie from the ’80s, Raiders of the Lost Ark, enjoyed a good deal of success getting re-released into IMAX theaters. Seeing that the market is hot for 8’0s revivals, Drafthouse Films, the distributing arm of the Alamo Drafthouse, has decided to take it upon themselves to ready what is probably the second biggest movie of the ’80s, Miami Connection, for a theatrical run of its own. What is Miami Connection? How fortunate that you should ask now, because Hobo With a Shotgun director Jason Eisener has just cut together a new trailer for the film that will answer all of your questions. To put it simply, Miami Connection is probably the best realized interpretation of the war between Miami’s motorcycle ninja drug gangs and its martial arts vigilante rock band, Dragon Sound, that’s ever been put on film.

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published: 12.19.2014
A-
published: 12.18.2014
C-
published: 12.17.2014
B+


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