Notes from the back row 

Monsters, gore and, of course, Angelina Jolie.

I’m known for being pretty hard on our American neighbours to the south. I generally don’t like them, and not just because they spell neighbour differently. However, it looks like things are changing. I’ve found something that 3,414 Americans and I agree on. Angelina Jolie is the sexiest woman alive. That’s what the readers of Esquire Magazine have decided in their latest survey. And I’ve known it for years. Maybe there are some good Yanks out there after all. Ha, of course there are. Angelina’s American right? In any case, Fahrenheit 9/11 is back in theatres this week, if you haven’t gotten enough American politics lately. Check it out.

But enough of this babbling of beauty and ignorance, it’s almost Halloween and we ought to be discussing monsters and bloody murder so lets get it on, starting with the Monsters.

Metallica: Some Kind of Monster is a two-hour+ documentary following the popular metal band through one of their toughest periods, the torturous making of their 2003 album, St. Anger . After losing a bass player and replacing him with psychologist Dr. Phil Towle, James Hetfield, Lars Ulrich and Kirk Hammett attempt to make the most of being middle-aged rockers who don’t necessarily like each other but feel they have a duty to keep making music. Directed by Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky (really top notch Documentarians; check out Paradise Lost, or Brothers Keeper) this movie is not a typical rockumentary concert flick.

"It’s a film about relationships." Those words are from the mouth of Lars himself. And it’s an excellent film, a powerful, non-judgemental movie about a dysfunctional family that can no longer communicate with each other’s spoiled members. It’s interesting to see that these guitar gods and metal monsters still get annoyed at the littlest things and it’s really funny watching the heavy metal band that sold 90 million albums world-wide talk about getting in touch with their feelings with their $40,000 a month babysitter.

In the end though, it’s enlightening, it’s funny, and despite the fact that they’re family men now, Metallica: Some Kind of Monster is still rock and roll to me.

Now for the gore. There hasn’t been enough true gore in horror movies lately. Studios are realizing that if they cut just a few key scenes they can skip the "R" rating and appeal to the young audiences’ wallets as well. It’s all bullshit and it makes me want to cut someone, but you can’t deny it happens.

Lucky for us it didn’t happen on Saw, the new creepy serial-killer thriller from first-time Australian director James Wan. Even though he’s an Aussie, Wan and writer/buddy Leigh Whannel came up with a pretty nifty idea.

Saw opens with two guys chained to opposite ends of a filthy bathroom dungeon. In the room there’s a gun, a bullet and a couple of saws that won’t cut the chains but could hack through an ankle easy enough. Dr. Gordon (Cary Elwes) learns he has to saw through his leg, use the bullet and gun to kill the other guy in six hours or his family dies. The other guy is supposed to do the same. It’s all the masterful plot of Jigsaw, the scariest new serial killer who never actually kills anyone. He finds intricate ways of making his victims kill themselves or each other. Like the girl who wakes up tied and wearing a helmet contraption that will tear her head in half at the jaw if she doesn’t untie herself and use a penknife to gut her cellmate and get the helmet key out of his stomach. She has 60 seconds. OK… go.

For all the cool gore and neat-o ways of hurting people, Saw does have it’s problems. The acting is kind of weak, Cary Elwes shits the bed a few times and Danny Glover (as the world-weary cop) isn’t winning any awards either. But it doesn’t matter. Saw is creepy, gory, inventive, and it focuses on the victims instead of making the killer or the cop the protagonist like these kind of movies usually do.

Wan directs pretty well although he perhaps relies on music-video style editing a little too much. Who doesn’t these days? That’s all the average attention span can fathom. But that’s not important.

What is important is the fact that Angelina Jolie thinks piloting an airplane is better than sex and that she learned to fly last year and just bought a plane for her and her son. In theory, the sexiest woman alive could land in Pemberton and still make it to the sold-out B-Grade HorrorFest this Saturday. I’m pretty sure the seat beside me is open…

At Village 8 Oct. 29-Nov. 4: Metallica: Some Kind of Monster; Saw; Fahrenheit 911; Shall We Dance; Forgotten; Surviving Christmas; Ladder 49; Shark Tale; Team America; Grudge.

At Rainbow Theatre Oct. 29-Nov. 4: Resident Evil: Apocalypse.

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