Valentine’s Day is here! And for those looking to stay in with wine and chocolates, here are a few His & Her Heart Day picks from PFS bloggers Alexander Goodlive and Kim Scott!
By Ian Abell
Have you ever wondered what would happen if a fast food restaurant was built on a sacred Indian burial ground? Probably not, but don’t worry — the good people of Troma Entertainment have already thought of it for you, and they even put it in musical form! The providers of countless oh-so-badly-good classics, most famously The Toxic Avenger series, Troma delivers a film that fits in with all of its malformed brothers and sisters while providing a leap forward in terms of quality.
Beyond its ‘zombified Native American chickens’ logline, the film revolves around Arbie (Jason Yachanin) and Wendy (Kate Graham), two high school sweethearts who are forced apart when Wendy goes off to college. When Arbie goes back, months later, to the ‘Tromahawk’ tribe burial ground where he and Wendy shared their last night, he finds that 1) a giant corporate chicken joint has built over the burial ground and 2) a group of protesters is boycotting the restaurant, led by a dirty college hippie and her new lesbian lover, Wendy (oh my!). Angry over the perceived betrayal by Wendy, Arbie gets a job as a counter girl (yes girl) at the restaurant and suffers the brutality and gag-inducing uncleanliness of coworkers and customers alike.
Yet it’s not long before the ghosts of the disturbed burial ground and the billions of chickens slaughtered by the company seek revenge on the hapless hero and his crew and begin killing customers and staff. Concerned that any mention of the deaths will hurt publicity for the grand opening, the Colonel Sanders-esque owner of the restaurant keeps the deaths under wraps until soon protesters and customers alike are turned into zombie chickens. But not before Arbie meets his future self and a man has sex with an uncooked chicken, because why not?
This is not a film of subtlety. This is a film that floats messages, themes, and parallels about as well as anvils. One minute there is a mocking of false corporate patriotism and protester hypocrisy, the next minute blood geysers and naked breasts. Doing away with inhibition and restraint, the film delights in poking fun at anything and everything political, social, racial, gendered, and polite. It appears that writer/director Lloyd Kaufman (who also makes an appearance as a mysterious chicken mascot) had a rule that as long as someone found it funny it got in the movie.
This drive to include everything funny is also the film’s greatest weakness. When the chicken zombies take over the restaurant, the humor outlasts its welcome as the chickens find ways to dismember and fry up humans like your favorite fast food items. Rather than find creative methods to kill off characters ad nauseam, the film could have used an extra musical number or two to help compensate for the song-heavy first half.
One has to appreciate though, that with so many great gags and lines crammed into a movie, that some of these might naturally miss the mark. Don’t let a few bad jokes dissuade you, this is a very solid film from people who have shaped cult movies for 30 years. Whether you’re a hardcore Troma fan or just want a silly and direct movie, Poultrygeist satisfies that bad movie craving.
Ian Abell is a junior Film & Media Arts and English major at Temple University. Whether it’s an old Scorsese or that cool movie your best friend filmed at a gas station, Ian wants to see it, discuss it, write about it, and put up a blog post about it.
By Davis Rivera
Oscar Wilde once said, “The greatest men fail, or seem to have failed.” Paolo Sorrentino‘s film The Great Beauty shows us such a man. In a film so extravagantly shot, the profound sadness buried beneath the haughty exterior of 65-year-old protagonist Jep Gambardella can easily be overlooked. However, the film itself cannot be and its onslaught of dazzling images, running the gamut from nuns to giraffes to dwarves, begs to be seen in a theatre.
By Davis Rivera
Teaming up one of America’s greatest living comedians with one of America’s greatest living wordsmiths may sound like a good idea on paper but, as seen in Tim Story’s Ride Along, sometimes things get lost in the transition from page to screen. The film does not carry the emotional weight of a Cube classic like Friday or the laugh-a-second hilarity of Hart’s stand-up specials but does feature performances good enough to hide most of the film’s flaws.
By Kim Scott
For the past few months, Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore had been highly recommended to me by a fellow film buff. “Ah, you’re interested in feminist movies?” the film buff would ask me. And like any sleep deprived college student who says very unfunny things because they’re tired, I settled into a low, manic chuckle before I answered, “Uh, have you read my blog?” (Just kidding, I didn’t say that. I replied with the tasteful, yet simple “Yup.”)
By Gary Kafer
Winning Best Actor at Cannes and now nominated for several Oscars, Alexander Payne’s offbeat road movie penetrates the oft-neglected landscape of Middle America. But despite its humble narrative, Nebraska’s stunning performances pitched against exquisite black-and-white cinematography wax a subtle melancholia and quiet reverence for an old man who thinks he won a million dollars.
By John Smith
David. O Russell has a very unique style that he injects into American Hustle. The constantly moving camera and performances that seem to come naturally to the actors, especially Bradley Cooper, made it feel like I was actually watching these events happen before my eyes. American Hustle is real and hilarious.
By Ian Abell
Mixing military brotherhood with a true-life survival story, Lone Survivor delivers a jarring cinematic experience. Much like Spielberg’s Saving Private Ryan painted Normandy’s brutal beaches, the film makes you feel every sickening scrape, bullet, and slam Mark Wahlberg and others suffer. Beyond its combat focus, Lone Survivor revels in pushing bodily limitations.
By Davis Rivera
After successfully adapting Shakespeare in his 2011 film Coriolanus, Ralph Fiennes has triumphed once again with his masterful sophomore film The Invisible Woman. Fiennes’ respect for the complexity of Charles Dickens’ life and work is evident in his direction, his performance, and, especially, his casting of Felicity Jones as Nelly Ternan. Her portrayal of a woman in an utterly heartbreaking predicament shows us what it means to yearn for love in a time of restraint.
By Alexander Goodlive
Imagine that two secret agents coincidentally fall in love with the same, down-home blonde-haired Reese Witherspoon… Just imagine that. Now let’s imagine that these two secret agents are actually James T. Kirk and Bane in a series of one-upping Bash Brothers mayhem. Witherspoon meets Tom Hardy on an online date, while Chris Pine heaps a massive dose of Casanova fail on her, though she is slowly charmed by his loveable narcissism. Oh, and Chelsea Handler is the best friend, obliging her duties by giving exposition to the NSA-style setup the agents arranged in order to learn everything about the girl.
Doesn’t that sound awesome?
Oh, it is, but not for the reasons it intended to be.