Silver Emulsion

Film Reviews

The Crossing (2000)

The Crossing (2000)

Starring Jeff Daniels, Roger Rees, Sebastian Roché, Steven McCarthy

Directed by Robert Harmon

Expectations: Low. I’m hoping this will educate me a bit on what led to Washington’s Crossing.


I’m currently taking a History class and a couple of the assignments are to write film reviews. I decided that I wouldn’t let these reviews just fade into the ether, instead posting them here as well as turning them in as homework. Because of this, the reviews will be slightly different than the normal type of stuff I put out, as the professor has laid out a few questions that need to be answered that I don’t generally ask myself. I’ve also edited this a bit to be a little more in line with this website. Anyway, enjoy… or not. Whatever.

The film opens with a short narration, setting the scene for those not intensely familiar with the material. As suspected, The Crossing seeks to dramatize the events surrounding George Washington’s decision to cross the Delaware River during the American Revolution. It looks to convey the risk-taking nature of Washington and his creative way of problem solving. Crossing the river was an unexpected tactic and one that could have gone completely wrong. The opening narration is followed by a scene of a cannon getting stuck in a ditch on the side of the road. Washington commands the men to leave it and continue on without, illustrating to the viewer just how desperate the American forces were. They’re on the run from the British, slowly breaking down and losing numbers. The film effectively shows how Washington chose to attack the Hessian camp in Trenton by crossing the river at night, despite all good odds. It proves the point how someone backed up against a wall, with no good options, will do their best to survive and continue fighting. The British, being the super-powered confident force, just didn’t have that kind of resolve backing them up.

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July 31, 2010 Posted by | 2000s, Drama, Movie Reviews, Rating: 2 & 1/2 Stars | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Mini-Review: To Die For (1995)

To Die For (1995)

Starring Nicole Kidman, Joaquin Phoenix, Alison Folland, Matt Dillon, Casey Affleck, Illeana Douglas, Dan Hedaya

Directed by Gus Van Sant

Expectations: None.


This is a mildly entertaining movie about a pretty girl who has high aspirations to be on television. She’ll do anything. Simple enough. Usually with this type of film, there’s some level of intrigue, but this is not the case with To Die For. The film is told through a pseudo-documentary style and you know pretty much what happens in the first couple of minutes. I’m okay with that, as long as the characters are interesting, but I’m sorry to say that they aren’t. Nicole Kidman’s character is the only one even remotely absorbing and she does well in her role, with some exceptional moments. Most of the other players are overacted caricatures of American stereotypes with Matt Dillon and Joaquin Phoenix battling for the main offender trophy. Illeana Douglas is the best of the supporting cast, but then I always enjoy her in anything, so I could be biased.

This is all coupled with Gus Van Sant’s ugly, boring camera work and editing, making it readily apparent that this one just wasn’t made for me. I can say one thing about Van Sant’s work, he’s consistent. His shot selection never ceases to frustrate and annoy me. I had seen this before when it came out and I didn’t like it then. I like it less now. Avoid it, unless you generally like Van Sant’s work or you want to see Joaquin Phoenix or Casey Affleck in early roles.

July 30, 2010 Posted by | 1990s, Comedy, Drama, Mini-Reviews, Movie Reviews, Rating: 1 Star, Trash | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Uncle Jasper reviews: Violent Shit (1987)

Violent Shit (1987)

Starring Andreas Schnaas, Gabi Bäzner, Wolfgang Hinz, Volker Mechter, Christian Biallas, Uwe Boldt

Directed by Andreas Schnaas


We at Silver Emulsion occasionally circle the globe in order to bring you only the best in classy, foreign entertainment. We find that sometimes it takes a different cultural approach to the human condition in order to broaden perspectives and break down social barriers. Sometimes we also feel that breast dismemberment and rape by kitchen knife are criminally underrepresented in contemporary cinema. Which is why we have braved the frosty woods of Germany to bring you today’s exercise in cinematic subtlety, Andreas Schnaas’ 1987 direct to video classic, Violent Shit.

Violent Shit is definitely a film that lives up to its namesake. It’s not so much a movie as it is a string of outrageously brutal scenes featuring… well, violent shit. The amusing opening credits contain such nuanced gems as “Starring K. The Butcher Shitter” and “Produced By the Violent Shitters”. Yes sir, from the moment it begins Schnaas isn’t afraid to let you know that his movie is indeed full of shit.

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July 29, 2010 Posted by | 1980s, Foreign, Horror, Movie Reviews, Uncle Jasper Reviews | , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Goodfellas (1990)

Goodfellas (1990)

Starring Ray Liotta, Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci, Lorraine Bracco, Paul Sorvino

Directed by Martin Scorsese

Expectations: High. Love it, does it hold up?


If someone were to tell me that they thought Goodfellas was Scorsese’s best film, I really couldn’t argue with them. I might not agree but it is a completely valid position, as Goodfellas is one of the best films of the 1990s and still holds up today. The film is just as skillfully made as you remember it being, twenty years later. Goodfellas opens in the middle of the story, in the middle of a scene even, after some minimalist but effective Saul Bass titles. Ray Liotta, Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci drive through the dark of night when strange sounds come from the back of the car. They pull over and open the trunk, revealing a bloody mess of a man. Joe Pesci violently stabs him repeatedly before De Niro opens fire. Liotta chimes in via voiceover, “As far back as I can remember, I always wanted to be a gangster.” This scene serves as an introduction to the film, but repeat viewers will recognize it also as one of the most important moments in these character’s lives, defining and shaping everything that ultimately comes to each of them.

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July 28, 2010 Posted by | 1990s, Drama, Movie Reviews, Rating: 3 & 1/2 Stars | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Trancers II: The Return of Jack Deth (1991)

Trancers II: The Return of Jack Deth (1991)

Starring Tim Thomerson, Helen Hunt, Megan Ward, Biff Manard, Martine Beswick, Jeffrey Combs, Alyson Croft, Telma Hopkins, Art LaFleur

Directed by Charles Band

Expectations: Moderate. It’s a sequel.


Six years after the original, Charles Band got around to making another Trancers film. He successfully reunites the entire cast of part one, as well as a few new faces. By this point, Empire International had collapsed and his new company, Full Moon Entertainment, had risen from its ashes to bring us more of the Charles Band brand of campy flicks I love. Trancers 2, just like in real life, picks up six years after the events of the original and Jack Deth is still stranded in the past, 1991 to be exact. Using the current year as the setting works really well, because acknowledging the production year allows the film to age a lot better. Instead of picking some arbitrary number for the time, we are treated to 1991, 1991 style. The Raiders are forever the Los Angeles Raiders and passenger vans come in two varieties, the Chevy Astro and the Ford Aerostar. Oh, it’s good to be back.

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July 27, 2010 Posted by | 1990s, Action, Movie Reviews, Rating: 2 Stars, Science Fiction | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Uncle Jasper reviews: Carnosaur (1993)

Carnosaur (1993)

Starring Diane Ladd, Raphael Sbarge, Jennifer Runyon, Harrison Page, Ned Bellamy, Clint Howard, Frank Novak

Directed By Adam Simon


Hi folks. Welcome to today’s installment of “Shit My Dad Used to Rent”. Today we have 1993’s ultra-schlocky Dino-ploitation classic, Carnosaur. Now let’s not bullshit ourselves here, there is only one reason this film ever saw the light of day. Cranked out and released less than a year after Steven Spielberg’s mega blockbuster Jurassic Park, Carnosaur sought to take a T-Rex sized bite out of the dino-mania propagated by that smash hit. Surprisingly, it is based on an Australian novel written six years before Michael Crichton’s bestseller ever saw the light of day, even though the film itself reeks of a shameless cash-in attempt.

But for a kid going through dinosaur withdrawal after Spielberg’s hit disappeared from theaters, imagine the shit-eating grin I must have had on my face when my dad brought this one home. I was a little put off by the ghetto-looking rubber T-Rex on the VHS sleeve, but with a title like Carnosaur it seemed like a dream come true. This would be Jurassic Park with a darker edge. As much as I loved watching Sam Neil and Jeff Goldblum run away from those carnivorous monsters, Jurassic Park had a severe shortage of what I think we all really wanted to see, dinosaurs eating people. I understand toning it down in order to secure that coveted PG-13 rating, but without blood and guts it amounted to a fun and suspenseful adventure, not the dino-horror film I think I was initially hoping for. But fuck it dudes, who needed Jurassic Park? I had Carnosaur now!

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July 26, 2010 Posted by | 1990s, Horror, Movie Reviews, Uncle Jasper Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Mini-Review: I Love You, Alice B. Toklas (1968)

I Love You, Alice B. Toklas (1968)

Starring Peter Sellers, Jo Van Fleet, Leigh Taylor-Young, Joyce Van Patten, David Arkin

Directed by Hy Averback

Expectations: None at all.


The film opens with some hippie guru saying stuff like, “Do you know who you are? You must know a flower before you can know yourself.” Cut to: Peter Sellers driving a car through the downtown city. Sellers plays a Woody Allen type of character, a slightly neurotic normal man who has all kinds of extraordinary circumstances surrounding him. Generally in a Woody Allen film this is funny, but this film isn’t so much. Sellers does the best he can with the material, but this kind of counter-culture film just isn’t going to play well forty-two years later.

There’s some jokes about how this Mexican family is trying to pull some insurance fraud when someone rear-ended their car carrying eleven people and some chickens. The family walks into Sellers’ office all wearing neck braces. Maybe I’m twisted, but I laughed when I saw the kids wearing neck braces. The whole scene was surprising though, as you don’t see many of these blatant stereotypes in films nowadays. There weren’t that many jokes that still worked, but I did enjoy the part with the hearse drivers being on strike.

The opening of the film isn’t bad and has promise, but it slowly slides into pointless hippie drivel when a girl makes pot brownies for Sellers, after which he decides to leave his current self behind and live the free and uninhibited hippie way. If you’re a big Peter Sellers fan, you might give this one a look, but don’t expect too much. It hasn’t aged well.

July 23, 2010 Posted by | 1960s, Comedy, Mini-Reviews, Movie Reviews, Rating: 1 & 1/2 Stars | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Uncle Jasper reviews: Tromeo and Juliet (1995)

Tromeo and Juliet (1995)

Starring: Jane Jensen, Will Keenan, Valentine Miele, Maximillian Shaun, Steve Gibbons, Sean Gunn, Debbie Rochon, Lemmy

Directed By: Lloyd Kaufman


Tromeo and Juliet is the Troma vision fully realized. It may as well have been titled “Lloyd Kaufman’s Mission Statement in Five Acts”. It is a film so deviously ingenious in its execution that it manages to both subvert and pay tribute to Shakespeare’s original work while at the same time raising serious questions about what human beings choose to elevate or ridicule as art. It is hands down the best film I’ve seen in months and the only thing I could think about right now is getting this review finished so I can watch it again. Orson Welles had Citizen Kane, Frank Capra had It’s a Wonderful Life, John Ford had Stagecoach, and Lloyd Kaufman has Tromeo and Juliet. These films are all masterpieces from their respective creators… but only one of them features gigantic penis monsters and random acts of nipple piercing.

The most shocking thing about Tromeo and Juliet is just how faithful it is to the bard’s original story. I think this says a lot right off the bat. When you pop in a Troma film on DVD I’m sure most take on the lackadaisical attitude of “…well, it ain’t Shakespeare.” But wait! This time it is Shakespeare! Oh shit, what now? In concept alone the film forces you to pay attention, but the story is so screamingly accurate and fits so astonishingly well into the Troma mold that questions have to be raised about just how classy Shakespeare’s work really was, or just how lowbrow and awful a film like The Toxic Avenger should really be regarded. Never before have I seen the line between “art” and “trash” so thin and opaque. These blurred distinctions are enough to completely shatter the rigid perceptions held by elitist art snobs and make the lovers of B-grade trash feel vindicated in their pursuit for sleaze.

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July 22, 2010 Posted by | 1990s, Action, Comedy, Drama, Horror, Movie Reviews, Uncle Jasper Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Fargo (1996)

Fargo (1996)

Starring Frances McDormand, William H. Macy, Steve Buscemi, Peter Stormare, Harve Presnell, Kristin Rudrüd, Tony Denman, Larry Brandenburg, Steve Reevis, John Carroll Lynch, Steve Park

Directed by Joel Coen

Expectations: I’ve seen this a bunch of times, I expect to still enjoy it.


Fargo is a twisted tale that begins with a disclaimer that it is based on a true story. The Coens put this on their film because there are certain elements taken from true events, but the actual overall story is theirs. This doesn’t diminish its impact at all, in fact, it’s such a well written story in its probable improbability that you can easily believe it to be true, which in the world of film is all that really matters.

Jerry Lundegaard (William H. Macy) drives down a snowy road to meet two men at a bar. He has hired these men to kidnap his wife, in an effort to get her wealthy father to pay the ransom which Jerry will use to pay off debts and then give a small share to the kidnappers. It’s all so ludicrous that it has to be true, right? I mean, you can’t make that kind of stuff up.

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July 21, 2010 Posted by | 1990s, Comedy, Drama, Movie Reviews, Rating: 4 Stars | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Trancers (1985)

Trancers (1985)

Starring Tim Thomerson, Helen Hunt, Michael Stefani, Art LaFleur, Telma Hopkins, Richard Herd, Anne Seymour, Biff Manard

Directed by Charles Band

Expectations: Very high. 80s Sci-fi is hard to top for me.


Police Trooper Jack Deth (Tim Thomerson) hurtles back in time to 1985 to apprehend the dangerous criminal Whistler, who is seeking out the ancestors of the future society’s city council and killing them off. Whistler can turn weak minded people into zombie-like creatures called Trancers with his psychic powers and Jack Deth is the only man crazy enough for the job. Deth is a rough and tumble, no frills badass that throws his badge to the ground in the first five minutes and writes the rules as he sees fit. For instance, right before the injection that will send him back in time, the lab techs show Deth the body of Whistler in their lab. The scientists explain that they recovered the body and brought it in so that when he brings Whistler back to the future, they will already have him in custody. Instantly I thought, “Kill him now! Don’t let his body live!” Great minds think alike as Jack Deth takes me up on my offer, whipping out his pistol and shooting the body, causing it to explode! Oh yeah!

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July 20, 2010 Posted by | 1980s, Movie Reviews, Rating: 2 & 1/2 Stars, Science Fiction | , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment