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Short reviews

STONED

In July of 1969, Rolling Stones founding member Brian Jones (Leo Gregory) was found dead in his swimming pool, at a house that had once belonged to Winnie the Pooh creator A.A. Milne. This movie documents the last three months of his life, as well as his business relationship with builder Frank Thorogood (Paddy Considine), hired to renovate the place after having done so successfully for Keith Richards. Thorogood apparently confessed, on his deathbed, to murdering Jones, but the movie doesn’t give us much of a clue why. Yes, Jones as depicted here is thoroughly unlikable; an arrogant rocker far less important than he thinks he his, and contemptuous of all others. But Thorogood could have left Jones’ company at any time and chose not to; Considine and director Stephen Woolley (a regular producer on Neil Jordan’s films) fail to make it clear what would finally push him over the edge. As Jones’ dreamgirl Anita Pallenberg, Monet Mazur undoubtedly draws on her own firsthand experience with Dave Navarro’s junkie years.

HOUSE OF THE DEAD II (Direct to DVD)

It isn’t really possible to make a worse zombie movie than Uwe Boll’s original House of the Dead, which interspliced actual footage from the Sega video game into its action sequences. So it’s no surprise that the sequel is better, though it certainly won’t make you forget about George Romero, or even Paul W.S. Anderson. Basically, the least competent military squadron in the world goes into a college campus that has become infested with zombies, and chaos ensues. Special guest star Sid Haig dies before the opening credits, which is too bad; but director Mike Hurst never takes things too seriously, and sustains some reasonable tension towards the end. Films like this don’t exactly deserve commentary tracks, but give this one a listen anyway, as it’ll make the viewing experience even funnier when you realize just how much thought went into such a brain-dead flick. Fealty to the arcade game is still, alas, a pipe dream (no mutant frogs or leeches to be found anywhere!).

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