The Direct to Video Connoisseur

I'm a huge fan of action, horror, sci-fi, and comedy, especially of the Direct to Video variety. In this blog I review some of my favorites and not so favorites, and encourage people to comment and add to the discussion. If you click on an image, it will take you to that post's image page, which includes many more pics from the film and other goodies I couldn't fit in the actual review. For announcements and updates, don't forget to Follow us on Twitter and Like our Facebook page. If you're the director, producer, distributor, etc. of a low-budget feature length film and you'd like to send me a copy to review, you can contact me at dtvconnoisseur[at]yahoo.com. I'd love to check out what you got.

Announcement

Announcement

Hi everyone, it's been a while since I checked the page, and I wanted to make a few announcements.

First and foremost, it appears a dubious site has claimed the old url, meaning any link in any review that goes to the old mattmovieguy url is corrupt. I'm in the process of trying to remove them all, but it's a lot! It's best not to click on any link without hovering over it first to make sure it doesn't have mattmovieguy in the url.

Second, it appears since my last trip to the blog, Photobucket has decided to charge for third party hosting, meaning none of my images are appearing anymore. That's simply an aesthetic issue, but still annoying.

Thank you all for your patience, and again, hopefully this will all be fixed soon.

--Matt

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Assassination of a High School President (2008)

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I first got wind of this movie when I saw a trailer for it on another DVD I was watching. I figured it was just an indie art house thing I didn't hear about, but when I looked it up on Wikipedia, I found out that, though it was screened at Sundance, it wasn't released in the theaters because it's distributor went bankrupt. That means it fell right into the lap of the DTV Connoisseur.

Assassination of a High School President is a Film Noir comedy set in a Chicago prep school, and follows the exploits of Bobby Funke, a sophomore who writes for the paper. After the school's SAT booklets are stolen, he sets about investigating, and what he finds is much more sinister, even for a bunch of high school kids.

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This was an amazing movie. It was a comedic Film Noir set in a high school. Extremely well written. The cast was great, including Bruce Willis, who plays the Desert Storm vet principle; Mischa Barton of O.C. fame, who plays the seductive hottie our hero shouldn't trust; and Michael Rappaport as the basketball coach. The rest of the actors were a bunch of twenty-somethings that I didn't recognize, including the hero, but they all turned in solid performances as well. The story was more metaphorical than realistic, from the main character's detective rain jacket, to the in-school suspension room that acts as a de facto prison, but for fans of Film Noir, you'll love this fresh take.

There are many preconceived notions out there regarding movies. A classic one: if it's a foreign film or an indie art house flick, it's gotta be good. Another one I was reminded of that came up in the comment section of the previous post: if it's DTV, it wasn't good enough to make it to the theater. Here is an example of an indie art house flick that ended up being a DTV movie, and, though, for me it was definitely the former (a good art house flick), it brings home how dangerous both misconceptions are. Assassination of a High School President was good enough to be released, but circumstances that had nothing to do with its quality kept it out of the theaters. I can think of myriad art house movies that weren't so hot, yet got rave reviews (Buffalo '66), and many DTV movies (Streets of Blood with Val Kilmer), that were better than a lot of major release movies, and had very little fanfare. I definitely do this blog to showcase a lot of the bad action films from the 90s my friends and I love, but I also do it to look outside the mainstream of what Hollywood considers "good", or at movies that have been lost in the shuffle, like this one.

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As a reviewer of Direct to Video movies, I haven't had occasion to do a Bruce Willis movie, so I was excited when this opportunity presented itself. I went through his imdb bio, and I was amazed at how many things he'd done that I'd forgotten about (Look Who's Talking), wanted to forget about (The Whole Ten Yards), and was completely astounded to learn of (Spike in the Rugrats Movie). One thing I couldn't find was a role quite like the one he had here as the principal of a prep school. It's like the coolest concept ever: Bruce Willis as the high school principal, and he seems to understand that and delivers exactly what we want.

Mischa Barton plays the female lead, and it's interesting, because as a Film Noir leading lady, she played the role perfectly; but as a senior in high school, she came off as a 30-year-old trying to pass as a teenager, a la Luke Perry. That's why I was pretty shocked to find out she was only twenty-three years old. I know the idea of the high schoolers was that they were supposed to seem older than they were to make the imaginary world work, but she seemed more mature than the rest of the cast, and didn't really pass for a teenager the way the others did. Again, she felt more like Luke Perry on 90210. She has another film out right now, Walled In, and though it doesn't look great, I do need to do more horror films, so I probably should give it a look see.

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This DVD had tons of deleted scenes and alternate scenes on it. Usually I look at some of them and think "why didn't they go with that?", but in this instance, I thought they were right in cutting every deleted or alternate scene. I'd be doing a completely different review had they gone in some of those directions. It shows just how important the right edit can be to a movie, and it makes me wonder how many movies I didn't like that had alternate beginnings or ending or whatever on the editing room floor that would've made them awesome. Just going back one post to Scorpion King: Rise of a Warrior, there was a movie that could've been a lot of fun with better editing.

This movie was great. It deserved all the buzz it received at Sundance and after. Smart, funny, and dark in places, it hits all the marks. Hands down, one of the best films I've seen this year.

For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1018818/

2 comments:

  1. I've always been a big Bruce Willis fan for some reason. When I first saw you had reviewed this and scanned through the screenshots to see Bruce Willis, I knew I had to come back and read it.

    If you haven't seen it, you might enjoy Surrogates. It actually felt a little short, and Bruce Willis has a silly haircut for part of it, but it was pretty smart.

    Anyway, back on topic. I think that in reading that Bruce Willis does a good job here, to me, further cements his awesomeness. I'll have to get this movie soon.

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  2. He was better than I was able to say in the space allowed. He has a supporting role, but his scenes were so good. As a Willis fan, you'll love it.

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