Midnight Movie Madness: “the adventures of Tintin”, from Rouletabille until Clark Kent

“The adventures of Tintin” (107 minutes, USA, 2011 – rated PG)

Perhaps the most difficult thing in adapting material like Hergé’s comic books has to do with tone and pitch. To say the themes and characters are dated or fixed in time might be unkind, but it’s safe to say Tintin is steeped in tradition. And in some instances, some would even say good riddance.

"The adventures of Tintin" movie poster
“The adventures of Tintin” movie poster – 2011

Tintin’s adventures spanned about 40 years from the 1930’s until the 1970’s, a period which started between world wars, through European decolonization, the nuclear age, race to space and the cold war, with a hero combining Baden-Powell’s Boy Scouts’ ideals with the romantic depiction of the journalist as defender of the Fourth Estate.

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Midnight Movie Madness: “the grapes of death”, egg yolks and Beaujolais

The grapes of death” – (85 minutes, France – NR)

Thirty years before the excellent comedy “Bottle Shock” came out, this little known gem drew its inspiration from the troubled French wine industry. Question is: was it a diamond in the rough or straight up zirconium?

Marking a return to the Midnight Movie Madness review format is this bit of a curio from 1970s France, written and directed by Jean Rollin. I found this looking through Z-movie listings (I mean Zombies), although “grapes of death” isn’t exactly about zombies created by bad wine made worse by overused pesticides, it could have been called “les dégueulasses“, as country folk develop extremely bad acne, smearing it everywhere from car windows to… Well, anywhere.

Grapes of death blind girl
Blind village girl with Elisabeth (L2R) Praise Jesus and pass the L’Oreal…

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“Family” films Kurosawa and Shakespeare would like: “Outrage” and “Brighton Rock”

Following “we are what we are“, let’s have a look at another two family films from 2010, of a different sensibility than say, the Disney type…

After receiving accolades from critics everywhere for his peculiar style of crime drama, Takeshi “Beat” Kitano returns to a more conventional and commercial narrative with “outrage“.

And this isn’t a bad thing: his humor is still apparent although he seems more distant than usual towards his characters.

Outrage Beat Takeshi
Takeshi Kitano as Otomo

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Midnight Movie Madness: “we are what we are”

“We are what we are” – (90 minutes, Mexico, NR)

We are what we are” is largely about what it takes to keep a family together and that thing here isn’t love. “We are what we are” is a Mexican film written and directed by Jorge Michel Grau whose career so far shows promise, mostly documentaries centered on culture, the arts and education.

we are whar we are poster

It helps to know this as this work of fiction has strong sociological themes, rather specific to Hispanic culture, Mexican in particular.

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Midnight Movie Madness: “Burke and Hare”

Burke and Hare” – (91 minutes, UK, 2010)

Funny story. Two Irish guys, both named William, go to Edinburgh circa 1827 and… Well, “Burke and Hare” tells of William Burke (Simon Pegg) and William Hare (Andy Serkis), scraping by in a city experiencing a sort of Renaissance in scientific studies, particularly medicine. As it happens, two rival surgeons, Doctors Robert Knox (Tom Wilkinson) and Alexander Monro (Tim Curry), are in stiff competition for fresh human meat to dissect.

Burke Pegg Hare Serkis
Burke (left) and Hare (right)

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“Don’t be afraid of the dark”: don’t be afraid to blow raspberries

Don’t be afraid of the dark” – (2010, USA/Australia/Mexico, 99 minutes – rated R)

This definitely has Guillermo DelToro’s fingerprints over it, but despite the occasional clever touch, this adaptation of a 1973 teleplay falls way short from the original.

In this version, the medicated offspring (Bailee Madison) of a divorced yuppie couple is sent to live with her father (Guy Pearce) and his girlfriend (Katie Holmes). Daddy and the girlfriend are renovating the auld mansion of Emerson Blackwood who disappeared mysteriously shortly after his young son about a century ago.

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“The illusionist”: Tati nostalgia

“The illusionist” – (2010, UK/France, 80 minutes – rated PG)

Note: this review contains spoilers.
Adapted from an original script written by Jacques Tati in 1956, “the illusionist” retains all the charms from Sylvain Chomet’s previous animated film “the triplettes of Belleville”.

Watch the trailer here:

The illusionist” is a very different kind of film though, partly because it is semi-autobiographical, but mainly perhaps because of the controversy as to which of Tati’s daughters the script was dedicated. Tati had a daughter out of wedlock during WWII with an Austrian dancer named Herta Schiel. Pressured by his sister, Tati abandoned mother and child, and went on to start a family with Micheline Winter, with whom he had a second daughter, Sophie, and a son named Pierre.
Each side lays claim to Tati’s original intent. Did he write out of sorrow and guilt for abandoning Helga Marie, or regret at having missed much of Sophie’s childhood while on the road?

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“I saw the devil” – (2010, South Korea, 141 minutes – NR)

School bus driver Kyung-Chul (Min-Sik Choi) has a nice little toy affixed to the rear view mirror of his van: plastic angel wings which light up in cool blue. It’s cute looking and probably helps put the young women and girls he picks up at ease.
Yellow school van and little blue wings.

Choi as serial killer Kyung

But Kyung is a serial killer who brings his victims back to his lair to carve them up after raping them. He then provides a cannibalistic associate of his with their meat to consume.

Watch the trailer here:

One snowy night in the countryside, Kyung drives up to a station wagon stopped by the side of the road with a flat tire.

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Midnight Movie Madness: “Black Death” 2010

“Black death” – (2010), UK/Germany, 97 minutes – rated R)

In 1348, the plague known as ‘black death’ is cutting wide and deep through the populations of Europe and has reached England with a vengeance. Some men have taken to question God, while others blame Him outright, forcing the Catholic Church to take drastic measures to assert itself.

Watch the trailer here:


Those communities not yet affected by the disease come under suspicion of witchcraft and emissaries are sent to investigate and return proof to the religious authorities.

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“Doghouse”: with “friends” like these…

“Doghouse” – (2009, UK, 89 minutes – NR)

Bloke is being divorced by his wife, so his mates, who all have ‘spousal’ issues of their own, decide to take him on a wild weekend in the village of Moodley, where women outnumber men by four to one.
They’re all hoping for some Hoo-Hoo-Hee-Haa, wa-hey-hey sexy times I guess.
As our heroes are about to find out, the women of the village have been turned into demonic, zombie-like mutants with cannibalistic tendencies by a military experiment gone very wrong.

Watch the trailer here:


Marooned in the village with the last survivor of the military team, our gang will try its best to survive in creative and funny ways. Such as putting a severed head in a radio controlled truck for the zombirds to chase after, or filling a squirt gun with flammable fuel for the RC truck and spraying a zombird with it (a one time use, but hey…).

Matt (Lee Ingleby) preps his fiery squirt gun

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