As usual, we got so many listening choices that even someone who randomly transforms into white haired crazy woman can find a way: downloadable mp3, embedded flash with slideshow, embedded audio player, and iTunes feed link. So many choices, you’ll run away in terror to save your baby!
Watch in slideshow form:
Fuck yeah, Pearl Chang!
My Blade, My Life – Todd Review
Miraculous Flower / Phoenix The Ninja – Tars Review – Todd Review
Matching Escort / Fury of the Silver Fox – Tars Review – Todd Review
Wolf Devil Woman – Todd Review
Dark Lady of Kung Fu – Tars Review – Todd Review
General Invincible – Todd Review
Prior Infernal Brains:
Taiwanese Giant Monster Films Part 1
Taiwanese Giant Monster Films Part 2
Polly Shang Kuan
Turkish Pop Cinema Part 1
Turkish Pop Cinema Part 2
Infernal Brains Podcast – 07 – Insee Daeng
Infernal Brains Podcast – 08 – Worst Podcast Ever
The Mummies of Guanajuato – Infernal Brains Podcast Episode 09
Jane Bond – Infernal Brains Podcast Episode 10
Daigoro vs Goliath – Infernal Brains Podcast Episode 11
Down the Rabbit Hole with Pearl Cheung Ling – Infernal Brains Podcast Episode 12
Written by Zoe Kazan
Directed by Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris
Ruby Sparks is Manic Pixie Dream Girl meta as fuck. If you aren’t familiar with the term “Manic Pixie Dream Girl”, then you probably don’t read a lot of reviews written by indie writers who pretend they’re the only people who watch bad cinema. Which is good, your life is measurably better! But as a crash course, these Manic Pixie Dream Girls are chicks from indie films who who up and are all perky and adorkable and inspiring, oddly attracted to the bland and uptight male protagonist for reasons unknown, and then leaves by the end of the film for greener pastures, leaving the bland male slightly less bland and uptight. Manic Pixie Dream Girls run wild with their weirdo skirts and dresses (always paired with bright tights of mismatched colors), wild hair and giant blue/green eyes. Ruby Sparks asks the questions “What if a writer was able to create a Manic Pixie Dream Girl wholesale? And she’d do whatever he told her to?”
Stories of creating the perfect woman have been around since the earliest days. Most of those tales have the not so nice undercurrent that the woman’s ability to decide her fate does not exist. Heck, even in many Manic Pixie Dream Girl films, the girl has to be the source of inspiration and change for the hero. That’s her role, and maybe when the whole thing is over she’ll get to be happy, but they’re specifically made not to be happy unless they are fluttering from place to place like a butterfly.
Zoe Kazan not only looks the MPDG part, she has one of the required names, and she even wrote the script. But Zoe Kazan isn’t a MPDG, she’s a real person, a human being with hopes and dreams and drives and freedom. The exact things Ruby strives for, Zoe Kazan becomes the enemy and destroys it from within, by pointing out the absurdity as the fantasy woman is both torn down and built into a real person. It seems natural that Ruby Sparks was written by a woman, such as the fact that it deals with real relationship issues while only barely touching all the sick weirdo perv stuff Calvin could be making Ruby do.
aka கலை அரசி aka Queen Of Arts
Written by T. E. Gnanamoorthi
Directed by A. Kasilingam
Science fiction films in India are rare, and older science fiction films are even rarer. And once the filmography of Dara Singh is removed, it becomes a sparse selection indeed. But there is a selection there. And TarsTarkas.NET is proud to give you Kalai Arasi, one of the few Tamil films to feature alien invaders and flying saucers. As usual, the aliens come to Earth to steal something, this time it’s not our women or our men or Santa Claus, but our music. You see, these aliens are tone deaf and have no culture, so their king sends a mission to Earth to steal someone to teach music to the people. Hence the English translation of Kalai Arasi, Queen Of Arts.
The 1963 production features alien design straight out of 1950s drive in cinema, with obvious older elements as well. The aliens wear overly silver space suit costumes while traveling to Earth, complete with goggles and lots of doodads tacked on. Their costumes look like Prince of Space, a fireman, and a roll of tin foil were dumped in a blender. The actors walk in stiff gates that emulate old boxy robots while wearing the space suits. On their home planet, everyone walks normal (this is explained in plot by the gravity being lighter on the alien world, and when the hero visits he needs to wear special shoes that weigh him down!) and dress in a mix of Roman/Indian design. The neatest part about the aliens is they salute not by raising their hands to their heads or doing some other odd gesture, but by standing on their toes twice in rapid succession to acknowledge the orders. It is a great little touch that adds believability to the alien culture (and transcends the lack of subtitles!)
The planet backdrops contain both science fiction inspired cities and heavenly clouds. The influence of the mythological films probably gives the reason for the overabundance of clouds (and the alien’s non-spacesuit costumes!) Inside the flying saucers, when in flight the camera angles are haphazard and jerk in random directions, while lights flash and metallic noises rumble in the background. The jarring angles act to disorient the viewer with the pure speed and alieness of the craft. The saucers are the envision of future technology without the computer revolution, a purely industrial age inspired technology setup. The insides looks like what a submarine from the world of Metropolis would look inside. The spacesuits also have the retro influences, a mix of Indian design and serials costumes (particularly , though there is no telling if the Indian film Return of Mr. Superman also influence the goggle design.)
The only alien character who does know music and song is portrayed as a jester and named Joker, his eccentric stylings show how he is an outcast on his own world due to his knowledge of song. He’s a nice character who helps the hero (he’s even played by the same actor, MGR), but has some obvious mental issues and as an effect of that does not live long. In fact, Kalai Arasi is not kind to anyone with mental problems, as there is another character who is presented as crazy who is murdered by the film’s villain. As both characters are played by the same couple that stars in the film, it’s an interesting statement to make. I would even argue Bhanumathi Ramakrishna does a better acting job as the more emotionally unstable Valli than she does as the sweet girl next door Vani.
Interestingly, for a film so focused on music and dance (it being the driving force for the theft of Vani), there is little remarkable singing or choreography. The most entertaining musical number is in the beginning, featuring two women (one cross-dressed as a man.) There is no real alien singing entertainment, even the Joker character dies before he can perform a cool space jam. The real lasting musical legacy is the love song for the couple that is sung in the beginning and features a few reprisals through the film.
The poor music may be one of the reasons Kalai Arasi did not fare well at the box office. It was also sandwiched between several MGR blockbusters. The weird tale, risky for the time, probably hurt the film more than it should. As far as I can tell, the Sarodi Brothers (the producers) never made another film. This is a shame, because Kalai Arasi looks great, and should be better known for the visuals alone. There is little about director A. Kasilingam in English, but he did direct Kaanji Thalaivan, a mythological starring MGR, and had a long career directing and producing.
The presentation is downright awful. A constant hissing noise is present through most of the film. There are obviously chunks missing from the film (including one very obvious part) and the length clocks in an almost exactly 2 hours. This is relatively short for a Tamil film, so that also points to parts missing. Luckily, the missing sections don’t factor too much into the plot (again, except for one part) so only a little bit of problems result. Hopefully the cuts were to fit it on tapes or something, and not because actual parts of the film are missing, but with cinema this old you never know. As you can probably imagine, there are no subtitles, but at TarsTarkas.NET, we don’t need no stinking subtitles!
Due to the lack of information on Tamil cinema, there will be a huge actor infodump, so if you just want to skip to reading about shiny space dudes in goggles shooting flames at a guy in a bear suit, skip below!
Tamil language cinema is mostly based in Tamil Nadu’s capital city of Chennai’s Kodambakkam area (meaning many big production companies are headquartered there), thus it is often called Kollywood. The films are popular in the southern Indian states that speak Tamil, and many are distributed worldwide. Tamil cinema is the second biggest largest film industry in India by volume of films produced.
Kalai Arasi stars Tamil film legend MGR. Maruthur Gopalan Ramachandran, billed as M. G. Ramachandran and usually referred to as just MGR, was one of the dominating forces of the Tamil film industry, which he parlayed into a wildly successful political career. MGR began acting as a youth in a local theater troupe to raise money for his family, and in 1935 began appearing in small roles in the emerging Tamil film industry. The success of Manthiri Kumari in 1947 gave him lead roles, and 1954′s Malaikallan made him a super star. Other notable films include the lead in Kollywood’s first color film Alibabavum 40 Thirudargalum, Nadodi Mannan (also directed and produced by MGR), Aayirathil Oruvan, and 1973′s Ulagam Sutrum Vaalibhan (one of the few Kollywood films to shoot scenes abroad back then, though 1969′s Sivantha Mann pioneered overseas shooting.)
The most famous MGR movie-related incident was when he was shot in the neck by fellow actor M.R. Radha in 1967. They had costarred together in 25 films, filming their last picture together just days earlier. M.R. Radha then shot himself in the head. Both men were taken to the hospital, the bullet permanently lodged in MGR’s neck. His voice was damaged and he was laid up for six weeks, as his fans cried in the streets. Despite all of this, MGR ran a Legislative Assembly campaign from his bed and won by a huge landslide. M.R.Radha also recovered (the gun and bullets he had used were too old to work properly) and went back to stage acting.
MGR was first elected to the Tamil Nadu Legislative Council in 1962 in the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) party. After his Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly election he deliberatly got expelled from his party to form a new party called Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (ADMK), later renamed All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK). The party was bolstered by MGR films, as MGR kept acting until he was elected Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu (basically governor of Tamil Nadu) in 1977, a position he continued to be reelected to until he died in 1987. He was a popular leader and spearheaded reforms involving nutrition and education. MGR’s death caused widespread riots, deaths and suicides for over a month. Violence during his funeral killed 29 people.
On that note, let’s meet the rest of the cast!
The Dark Knight Rises
Halle Berry slashed my tires last night!
Our The Dark Knight Rises review will be in a slightly different format, list form! And not the “Top 6 Bane Pick up Lines that Will Explode and Blow Your Mind” type of lists, just a list of thoughts in semi-sequential format as we go through the film. Thus, SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS below the fold!
Neither rain, nor sleet, nor the Dark Knight…
- Arriving early to get an aisle seat.
- This theater has Oogieloves posters all over it!
- I will be upset if there isn’t a bare minimum of 5 rises in TDKR!
- Why are two very fat guys in nerd shirts complaining about the nerds in the theater? And now I am complaining about them on the internet!
Too cool for earmuffs
- The new Superman trailer documents his time on Deadliest Catch (and how much better Joe Manganiello would have been in the role!)
- I also drank less tea before the film so I wouldn’t have to go to the bathroom that much (Did I succeed? See below!)
- And now the opening sequence that was released on the internet months ago!
- Remember: Spoilers below the fold!
The Last Days of the XFL…
Categories: Bad, Movies Tags: Anne Hathaway, Batmania, Burn Gorman, catwomen, Christian Bale, Christopher Nolan, Cillian Murphy, David S. Goyer, Gary Oldman, Jonathan Nolan, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Juno Temple, Liam Neeson, Marion Cotillard, Matthew Modine, Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman, Nestor Carbonell, Thomas Lennon, Tom Hardy
aka Phoenix The Ninja aka 蓋世奇花 aka Wolf Devil Woman 3 aka Gai shi ji hua
Script by Godfrey Ho Jeung-Keung
Story by Pearl Cheung Ling
Directed by Fong Ho
It’s Pearl Cheung Ling Time! Another classic Pearl Cheung Ling martial arts cinema masterpiece gets its due. Miraculous Flower (possibly better known as Phoenix The Ninja, as that’s the name I knew it as for years!) is a great piece of cinema that stands on the edge of Pearl-insanity and classic wuxia revenge. Filled with kooky characters, varied and elaborate environments, and plenty of gory action, Miraculous Flower pulls out all the stops and succeeds in being entertaining and fun.
This is her first film where Pearl is actively involved in the narrative construction beyond just a producer role. And while she did come up with the story, it’s obvious that they needed to follow a more traditional kung fu revenge narrative. While it still walks the edge of the volcano, there are moments where things go a bit wild. It is probably safe to say some of the smaller quirks are also Pearl’s doing, and things were added to tailor to her interests. When Pearl is dressed in the all black revenge costume and swooping around like an angel of death, that’s pretty much pure Pearl Cheung Ling. Her transformation sequence in Matching Escort involves her donning a full white costume, while in Wolf Devil Woman the entire character changes constantly through the film. Dark Lady of Kung Fu deals with this by having Pearl’s character having two separate identities. By the time of her final film General Invincible, the Pearl character is torn between two worlds and duty and honor from those worlds, and the consequences thereof.
For more Pearl Cheung Ling background, be sure to check out the Infernal Brains Podcasts on her (Part 1 is here, Part 2 is upcoming!) and check out the other Pearl reviews up – Matching Escort and Dark Lady of Kung Fu.
As we noted before, Matching Escort was retitled during a released as Wolf Devil Woman 2, and Miraculous Flower was retitled Wolf Devil Woman 3, despite being made before either of the other two films! I have two versions of Miraculous Flower, the Hong Kong release that features all the gore but is missing some scenes in the beginning featuring the Happy Fairy, and the international IFD retitle Phoenix the Ninja that has the gore trimmed but doesn’t feature any full cut scenes. I do not know why the early scenes were cut, maybe to make room on a vcd or something? Both versions feature different credit sequences. A good breakdown of the two versions can be found here.