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Judge Paul Corupe's Blog

Judge Paul Corupe • Location: Toronto, ON Canada
• Member since: March 2004
• 198 full reviews
• 50 small claims

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Blog Review: Lipstick & Dynamite (Koch Lorber)
September 12th, 2005 4:13PM

Stuck in a painful inverted facelock camel clutch for the better part of August, I was unfortunately unable to get to the rep cinema to take in the all-female wrestling doc Lipstick & Dynamite: The First Ladies of Wrestling. It disappeared from the big marquee pretty quickly, but lo and behold, I was able to drop a screener in my DVD player just a few weeks later and finally catch up with the infamous past exploits of Gladys “Killem” Gillem, Ida May Martinez, Penny Banner and The Fabulous Moolah. This interesting little documentary by Ruth Leitman puts a hammerlock on the little-known and seldom explored world of professional female wrestling. Featuring interviews with many of the golden age grapplers--many now pushing eighty--the film delves into several juicy anecdotes about the female-side of the business as it looked after World War II.

It should make for a fascinating doc, but Lipstick & Dynamite has its fair share of crippling problems. Structurally, the film makes very little sense, hopping between interviewees and subjects with no discernable pattern. Curiously, the history of women’s involvement in the sport is barely touched on at all--Leitman seems more interesting in the personal lives of the female wrestlers: why they got into the ring, who they slept with, and where they spent the rest of their lives. As a result, we get to see Martinez yodel, Gillem talk about training lions and the rampant antipathy the other girls hold towards Moolah, perhaps the most famous lady to ever put a triangle choke on an unsuspecting heel. The result is a not-very-cohesive film that only superficially glazes over the topic at hand.

The most enjoyable aspect of the film is undoubtedly the archival footage of the girls appearing on 1950s game shows and hilarious clips from Racket Girls, a period B-film about the wrestling con. Lipstick & Dynamite also boasts a first-rate soundtrack by Neko Case and fellow honkytonkers Kelly Hogan and Carolyn Mark, as well as an instrumental full nelson from Los Straitjackets. I saw no technical problems with the screener, which didn’t feature any of the retail release’s numerous extras. Rent this one if the topic interests you, but you probably don’t need to add it to your collection unless you actually know what an inverted facelock camel clutch is.

Blog Review--Degrassi: The Next Generation Season Two
July 13th, 2005 5:42AM

In addition to my review of Degrassi: The Next Generation: Season One which was posted today, I also got a chance to look at a couple of episodes from Funimation’s Degrassi: The Next Generation: Season Two set, released on June 21.

One of the great things about Degrassi: The Next Generation’s large cast is that it allows for characters to come and go without critically affecting the overall appeal of the show. With the first season a moderate success in Canada, show creators Linda Schuyler and Yan Moore deftly merged Degrassi Community School with a neighboring high school to keep all their old characters and introduce a slew of new ones, including Joey’s emotionally troubled stepson Craig (Jake Epstein), alternative student Ellie (Stacey Farber) and Marco (Adamo Ruggiero), a teen struggling with his sexuality.

This set presents all 21 episodes of the second season, of which I was sent precisely two:

* Don’t Believe the Hype 8/10
Just before International Day at the school, Hazel (Andrea Lewis) is teasing Fareeza, a Muslim student about her headdress. While Paige (Lauren Collins) prepares her presentation on her Ukrainian heritage, she wonders why Hazel never invites her over to her house, and why she’s not interested in International Day. At the last minute, Hazel throws together a presentation on Jamaica, but the event itself is a disaster—someone has defaced Fareeza’s display on Iraq, calling her a terrorist. Based on her former comments, Hazel is called into the office, where she reveals that she’s not Jamaican at all—she’s from Somalia, and like Fareeza, a Muslim. This nicely-scripted episode is timely and deliberate, and it works quite well. There are lots of teen shows that deal with racism, but few look beyond the simple fact that it is wrong. That the show exposes Hazel’s shame at her own heritage as a source of her insults makes “Don’t Believe the Hype” stand out from its peers.

* How Soon Is Now? 7/10
In the first season, Paige (Lauren Collins) was one of the characters who wasn’t really explored very much. She was a cheerleader, a manipulator, and a poor friend to Ashley (Melissa McIntyre) and Terri (Christina Schmidt), but on meeting Degrassi's rival star basketball player Dean earlier in the second season, she got her own personal issue to deal with—she was raped. This episode takes place six months after the fact, when Paige learns that Dean and his team are coming to Degrassj for a game. Ditching her cheerleading duties, Paige reveals to J.T., Spinner and Jimmy what happened, and all three go after Dean. Whereas “Don’t Believe the Hype” offered a slightly different spin on that teen show touchstone, racism, “How Soon Is Now?” is straight-up melodrama played exactly as you might expect. There is a much better subplot that has Ellie pretending to be Marco’s boyfriend while he discovers his sexuality, but it’s overshadowed by the theatrics of Paige’s life.

Quality is pretty much the same as the first set of Degrassi: The Next Generation, both with sound and video. There are better episodes in this season than the two I received, but regardless, I have no doubt that fans of the show are definitely going to want to pick this release up along with Season One.

Cursed
March 3rd, 2005 1:39PM

I have extremely mixed feelings about tackling my own blog, as I've always believed that public diaries occupy a distinct place in the Internet cesspool somewhere between a link farm and a Geocities site by a 13-year-old reaching out in desperate loneliness for fellow "juggalos." I'm giving it a shot anyways, but instead of proclaiming how this blog will be different, better, or more exciting than the spew of self-serving nonsense clogging up Livejournal.com, I can only promise to keep updates infrequent and to never tell you what my current mood is using an emoticon.

Against my better judgment, I attended a screening of Wes Craven's Cursed last week. As expected, it was just terrible--laughable CGI, toned down gore, giant logic holes, and a completely gratuitous Scott Baio cameo. Perhaps best of all, the werewolf actually flips off the protagonists at one point. Someone in my party later described the film as Teen Wolf Snaps, but frankly, graphic allusions to menstruation or the addition to basketball-playing lycanthrope surfing on a delivery van would have been a distinct improvement. The curiously bearded Joshua Jackson brought the movie to a scene-deadening halt every time he appeared on screen as Ricci's love interest, and Jesse Eisenberg is equally humorous as her misfit teen brother who researches werewolves on the Internet and plasters his room with indie rock posters--"Dude, okay, I know I'm a werewolf, but are you going to see Slumber Party?" Perhaps he should have had his own blog, too. I also got a kick out all the references to The Late Late Show with Craig Kilborn, which has been cancelled since last fall, immediately dating the film and giving some clue as to exactly how long this wretched werewolf film has been in production limbo at Dimension.

For whatever reason, it seems like the meddling Weinsteins have a serious backlog of these problematic films, all along the lines of Cursed. The New York Times recently reported that as Miramax co-chairmen Bob and Harvey prepare to leave Disney, they plan to jettison a mind-boggling 22 films in just seven months--primarily troubled productions that have been decaying on the shelf like that last box of Cat in the Hat movie tie-in cereal. Two of these turds-in-waiting are undoubtedly Christina Ricci's four year-delayed Prozac Nation, and LL Cool J's Mindhunters, which I actually saw a theatrical preview for about 14 months ago.

Also among these titles are a few gems, no doubt, such as a Cypher, a Canadian sci-fi flick by Cube helmer Vincenzo Natali. I'm also very curious about Asterix & Obelix and its sequel, Asterix & Obelix: Mission Cleopatra, two live action French/German/Italian co-productions based on the popular French graphic novels about Gauls who drink magic strength potions to fight Julius Caesar in 50 BC. Although I didn't particularly enjoy reading them, as the closest thing in my elementary school library to a real comic book, the Asterix books (along with Tintin) became a staple of my childhood and I'm interested to see how they translate on the big screen.

Others have been speculating on what else Miramax has in store, but consensus seems to be on a pretty big slate of genre films, including a new entry in the bafflingly popular Crow franchise, a third "Tales From the Crypt" feature, Ritual, and two sequels each for both the Hellraiser and Prophecy series. Most, if not all, will be going straight-to-DVD, where they will no doubt end up on my docket before being forgotten forever.

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