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Archive for June, 2009

Neglected Gems: Rabid Dogs

Mario Bava, possibly the most important director from Italy’s golden age of sleazy horror, never lived to see the theatrical release of Rabid Dogs. However, over the course of years, it’s become one of his most appreciated works.

A roller-coaster ride of blood, murder and terror, Rabid Dogs (later re-released as Kidnapped) is 90 minutes of either unadulterated adrenaline or offensiveness, depending entirely on your level of appreciation of such things.

The plot centers around a group of nasty criminals (Doc, Thirty-Two, Stiletto and Ace) who are attempting to make a getaway after a job. Their escape is botched and they’re left having to kill and brutalize their way to freedom, kidnapping beautiful and hapless Maria as a hostage for the road.

“Bava does a masterful job directing his small cast. The majority of the picture takes place inside a station wagon and he uses every angle and every spare inch of it, giving the picture a claustrophobic, hot, manky feeling. You can practically smell Stiletto’s body odor. Each character is perfectly cast. Cucciolla plays Riccardo calm and collected with rising menace, while Lander — in what had to be a demanding role — injects humanity into Maria.” – Shameful Cinema

The Criticker users who have seen and ranked this film agree. Almost everyone has given it high marks — though this may be because the only people who’d willingly seek out violent Mario Bava films are those predisposed to like them… Still. Good enough to land Rabid Dogs in our list of Neglected Gems!

Now, There Will Be 10 Best Picture Nominees

The Academy just announced that there will now be 10 nominees up for the Best Picture Oscar.

Sounds to me like a naked bid to increase attendance in the cinemas — how many people go to see a film just because it’s nominated for the best picture? I can say without hesitation that it was the only reason we watched The Reader.

From CNN.com:

The problem “came to a head with ‘The Dark Knight,’ ” which sold more than $1 billion in tickets worldwide, but was snubbed by the academy in the best picture category last year, he said.

The Batman sequel won best movie at the MTV Movie Awards and was chosen favorite movie by the People’s Choice Awards. It also made many critics’ top 10 lists.

If the nomination field had been expanded last year, the film might have made the best picture list, “which clearly would have been some kind of bump in the ratings,” Pond said.

This would also counter the impression among TV viewers that the awards show is “for movie snobs who don’t like the movies I like,” he said.

Tonight you’re all gonna be part of a social experiment.

Which of course is just another way of saying, “We’ll still be snobs, but now we’ll pretend as though Batman has a chance, in order to appease you idiots and take your money”.

Do you know a single person under 65 who thought The Reader was better than The Dark Knight? Oh well… at least this gives us more to talk about when award season comes around.

Join the discussion in the forums

Introducing Criticker Lists!


Say hello to Criticker Lists, a brand new way to rank things and compare taste with other people! Criticker has always been a great place to find what movies other people are into, and now you can find out a lot more… Criticker Lists allows you to compare taste on any topic you can imagine… G.I. Joe figures, characters from Lost, favorite natural phenomena, coolest former Yugolsav Republics and… well, there’s no limit*!

The ways to use Criticker Lists are infinite. It’s a lot of fun to compare taste in random topics with people (now that I know Dexter and I are 97% compatible in Preferred Suicide Methods, I’ll be more likely trust his taste in other things). Of course, it’s most fun with family and friends — so once you get a taste for Criticker Lists, make sure to invite them and add them as your Kumpels.

As is always the case when our limited and excitable staff rolls out new functionality, there will be errors. Please report any problems or suggestions to lists-at-criticker.com. We hope you like the new utility!

*Well, we’re not going to allow pornographic or clearly offensive imagery, but besides that there are pretty much no limits.

Valencia’s Film Festival: Cinema Jove

Cinema Jove is a summer film festival in Valencia — the 3rd biggest city in Spain and, incidentally, the current home of Criticker. It’s focused on European cinema and, though it isn’t as well-known as other Spanish festivals, it’s a big deal in Valencia.

A couple of the movies making up the official selection look great, particularly Norway’s Nord and Sweden’s Involuntary Discretions.

In addition to the films in competition, Cinema Jove invites a director to pick his or her favorite movies for an open-air screening in Valencia’s wonderful Viveros Gardens. This year’s director is Enrique Urbizu and the films he’s selected are awesome– tonight, Juergen and I are going to see Touch of Evil in the park.

Laurent Cantet

Laurent Cantet is another one of the main protagonists of this year’s festival. The French director is best known for his Palme d’Or winning masterpiece The Class. Cantet will be on hand in Valencia during the festival to receive an achievement award, and definitely helps augment the profile of Cinema Jove.

If you’re lucky enough to be in Valencia this week, make sure to check out some of the films — many of which are being screened free of charge to the public. And if you’re interested in the city, keep an eye on our city blog, holavalencia.net, where we write about all things Valencia. It’s a hidden treasure on Spain’s Mediterranean coast, which is fairly unknown to tourists despite its size.

Cinema Jove’s Official Website

ABC B&B Valencia

New Enhancements – Review Permalinks & Twitter

Earlier this week, we introduced a couple new minor enhancements which will let you share your reviews with the world: Permalinks to your reviews and Automatic posting to Twitter.

So the next time you write a particularly clever mini-review, let people know about it on Twitter! Or use the permalink in whatever way you like. With the permalink, your review always appears highlighted, on top of everyone else’s.

These changes are also available for all your existing mini-reviews & ratings, too.

Follow us on Twitter

DVD Report – June 16th

It didn’t make much noise in American cineplexes, but Doris Dörrie’s Cherry Blossoms is the movie of choice amongst this week’s new DVD releases. It’s a tale of discovering that it’s never too late to be surprised by the ones you think you know most. Or you can watch some kids get hacked to pieces in the Friday the 13th remake. It’s all good.

Friday the 13thAverage Tier 3.60
A group of young adults discover a boarded up Camp Crystal Lake, where they soon encounter Jason Voorhees (Mears) and his deadly intentions. Friday the 13th @ Amazon

Cherry BlossomsAverage Tier 6.44
When Trudi learns that her husband Rudi is dangerously ill, she suggests visiting their children in Berlin without telling him the truth. As Franzi and Karl don’t care much about their parents, Trudi and Rudi go to the Baltic Sea, where Trudi suddenly dies. Rudi is thrown out of gear, even more when he learns that his wife wanted to live a totally different life in Japan… Cherry Blossoms @ Amazon

Madea Goes to JailAverage Tier 2.00
Mischievous grandma Madea lands in jail, where she meets a variety of mixed-up characters. Madea Goes to Jail @ Amazon

The Perfect SleepAverage Tier 2.80
Against the backdrop of a noirish dreamscape, a tortured man returns to the city he swore he would never return to… The Perfect Sleep @ Amazon

Morning Light
Fifteen young sailors… six months of intense training… one chance at the brass ring. This documentary tells the story of a group of intrepid and determined young men and women, on the cusp of adulthood, as they embark on life’s first great adventure. Morning Light @ Amazon

Collection Watch: Inspired TV Series

The collections which Criticker users come up with never fail to surprise in their originality and curiosity. And Hailey has created a great one — Films which have inspired TV series.

“HAHAAH James Spader Be PWND”

There are a lot of interesting entries in this collection, ranging from series that would ultimately trump their precursor in popularity, like MASH and Stargate, to somewhat less successful ones like Uncle Buck (what, you don’t remember?)

7 users have contributed to Hailey’s public collection, which now collects 44 films. If you know another which belongs, why not add it yourself?

Backpacker’s Delicatessen – Everything Canned