Monday, February 15, 2010

The Aughts

Here it is, my list of the 00's. Just remember, it is mostly arbitrary and dependent on both my mood at any given time, and my piss poor memory. So if something was omitted that is why. These don't necessarily represent the "Best made" of the aughts, they represent the ones that I got the most enjoyment/value out of personally. I did try to mix up the genres a bit and make sure things like animated and documentaries got some attention.

01. Shaun of the Dead

02. Inglourious Basterds

03. LOTR Trilogy

04. O Brother, Where Art Thou

05. [rec]

06. Once

07. War Dance

08. Black Snake Moan

09. No Country for Old Men

10. Punch-Drunk Love

11. Brick

12. 4 Months 3 Weeks 2 Days

13. The Incredibles

14. The Wrestler

15. Garden State

So now of course it is time for the list of honorable mentions, because bloating my list from 10 to 15 just wasn't indecisive enough of me! (in no particular order) American Psycho, Mulholland Drive, Iron Man (the last movie removed from the main list, at great pain), The Devil's Backbone, Star Trek, Ang Lee's HULK, and of course, the best movie EVER created Shark Attack 3: Megalodon!

Monday, October 6, 2008

FGFC: Strait-Jacket

Well kids its time to once again open up the vaults and dive headfirst into another Final Girl Film Club flick. I'm not even going to beat around the bush this time, I freaking Loved Stacie's pick this month, which was "Strait-Jacket." An awesome movie from 1964 from director William Castle, or as I call him "Oh he of 'House on haunted Hill' fame" because I fell in love with that movie when I saw it too. So the man has chops. Not only that but the movie stars Joan Crawford, who I had just seen in "What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?" So clearly going in I was psyched.

Preamble crap:

This month a return to the shorthand form that I started with. Partly to try and reclaim the fun, partly because I'm ass deep in boxes full of my belongings trying to get ready for a move. You'll roll with me on this one right?

The Cast:

Lucy Harbin – Joan Crawford
Carol Harbin – Diane Baker
Bill Cutler – Leif Erickson
Emily Cutler – Rochelle Hudson
Michael Fields – John Anthony Hayes
Doctor Anderson – Mitchell Cox
Leo Krause - George Kennedy
Raymond Fields – Howard St. John
Mrs. Fields – Edith Atwater
Frank Harbin – Lee Majors

Whats the basics?

Lucy Harbin (Joan Crawford) comes home early from a trip to find her younger husband, Frank (Lee Majors) aslseep in bed with his lover. Distraught, Lucy lashes out at the lovers with the first thing she finds, an axe! Unfortunately he 3 year old daughter bears witness to the horrific acts (both the murders and the extramarital shenanigans)

20 years later and a lot has changed, Lucy has spent her time in an asylum after being judged insane and is now being released to live with the now adult Carol, and Carols uncle, Lucy's brother Bill and his wife Emily.

Adjusting to life on the outside is difficult for Lucy, she is nervous around strangers, including Carol's "almost fiancée" Michael, she is uncomfortable with the way she has aged, she is hearing things and even having nightmares (severed heads on a pillow, not so good for the sleepy time),

Lucy seems to have ups and downs, Carol treats her to a makeover, which leaves lucy looking (and occasionally acting as if she were) 20 years younger. Of course all of the progress hits a bit of a snag when Dr. Anderson from the asylum stops by for a visit. Lucy once again becomes very nervous and agitated, and people start getting killed.

But is Lucy the culprit?

What works for me?

As we know I'm a sucker for well shot black and white, and there were times here when director William Castle (Oh he of "House on Haunted Hill" fame) just blew me away. There were literally a few stills that I would love to have blown up as art on my wall. But I don't know, maybe that just makes me a geek?

Aside from that the acting was pretty damned good as well, I mean Joan effing Crawford! You know you love her don't deny it. Then there is Diane Baker, I found her performance to be very good on the first viewing but on the second viewing once I knew that she was in fact the killer I found the subtlety that she put in there to be pretty near to brilliant. Her face during that first uncomfortable hug, he body language during her conversation with Dr. Anderson, the little digs she put in when "pushing" Joan Crawford's Lucy into doing things she wasn't comfortable with. Really I just loved it, beautifully disturbed!

Say what you will but I say that rhyme was awesome, so aweome I'm sharing it right now, just you try and stop me! "Lucy Harbin took an axe, gave her husband 40 whacks. When she saw what she had done, she gave his girlfriend 41." That just plain rocks, if I have kids I may teach that to them. Hey, don't judge me, you probably taught/will teach your kids that horrible rhyme about the black plague.

Since I brought up the ending where Carol turned out to be impersonating/framing her mother for the killings in an attempt to get Michael's parents out of the way. If you look at the story as a whole, give the movie an extra viewing or two you will see that actually it is laid out very well so you are lead to believe that it is probably Lucy, but Castle was very careful to shoot it in a way so Carol's ultimate reveal could make sense. Had the movie been made today, odds are there would have been unexplainable stuff thrown in there to put you off the trail. Laid out quite well indeed.

In addition to the main killer story there is also the intertwined secondary story with Lucy's sanity. Clearly she was better when released (or as much "better" as she could be) as is evidence by the ending where she is quite clear about what has happened and what needs to be done, she was just being driven back into madness as part of Carol's plan.

A young Lee Majors losing his head. I don't need to say anything other than that, Fun!

The other side of the coin:

With all the good there was a bit I found to be, well not great, but still not really bad. Mainly there wasn't a whole lot of feelings of danger for most people. Michael, Lucy, Carol, Bill and Emily never seemed as if they were possible victims of the killing, so that is just a bit over half of the main cast feeling safe and sound right there (ok so one of them was being driven crazy, but that wasn't revealed really until the end). Also Leo Krause the creepy jerk farm hand really seemed like the only reason he was there was so someone could be killed between Dr. Anderson and Mr. Fields, nobody even noticed poor Krause had eaten it.

Dr. Anderson, why did he feel the need to lie to Bill but felt it was ok to suddenly speak the truth to Carol? And for that matter, assuming that Lucy was actually released on probation clearly they would have had to let Bill and Emily in on that since it was their property she was staying at yes?

Also disappointing to me was that Lee Majors did not pop back up in the last half of the movie with a new bionic head....Ok so this one wasn't ever even a consideration, but come on that would have been badass!

Rhetorical questions:

Who was watching 3 year old Carol while Frank was out getting his groove on?

Why was Lucy the only person to get off of the train at that stop?

Did you notice the Columbia statue at the end is headless?

Did you laugh in delight when you noticed it like I did?

Are you judging me right now?

Obligitory ass kissing moment:

Once again I have to mention how much I enjoyed this flick, and dammit I just have to say Thank you Stacie, I doubt I would have found this one on my own.

Boomer Sooner

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

FGFC: The Food of the Gods

Wow is it really that time again? It seems like it was just a month ago that the last Final Girl Film Club pick was due... You know the drill, Stacie over at Final Girl picks a flick, for us to watch and then we talk. You know, no big whoop.

As is tradition I scoff at the traditional Monday due date. You can't tie me down with your rules man! Rules never stopped me from eating a full meal and then hopping right in the swimming pool did they? The never stopped me from watching too much TV and sitting too close either. And they certainly didn't prevent me from feeding my Mogwai after midnight whenever I damn well pleased... OK I admit that last one may have been a mistake, but the rest of them all lead to a good time!

This month the movie choice is “Food of the Gods.” A movie from 1976 which not only has animals running amok, but giant animals running amok. Going in that is about all I knew, and frankly that is all I really needed to know. Seriously if giant animals on a rampage doesn't put your ass in a seat you really should be asking yourself who took your soul and is it possible to get it back*.

The Basics

Football player, Morgan (Marjoe Gortner), his teammate and friend Davis (Chuck Courtney), and Brian (Jon Cypher) their PR Man decide to spend their upcoming days off getting a little RnR hunting on “The Island.”

So while hunting a stag, well apparently Morgan was just chasing a stag, but Davis wants some venison. While the others yield to the wild animal and let it run off Davis takes even more chase deeper into the woods. For all the effort that he put into the chase he is rewarded with the opportunity to give a giant angry wasp a piggyback ride! The wasp, clearly offended by Davis' reaction, decides that its stingin' time! Bye bye Davis.

Morgan leaves Brian with their only mostly dead friend and goes off to find a phone for some help. He winds up at a farm, when nobody answers to his knock goes looking in the barn, what he finds there is not a farmer. Instead he finds a giant rooster and some super sized chickens. As “Family Guy” teaches us when confronted with a giant rooster ya gotta throw down! A well placed shot with a pitchfork and Morgan is saved from a beaky death.

After his barely surviving the rooster incident Morgan gives the house another whack and this time he finds Mrs. Skinner (Ida Lupino) at the door. After yelling at him and threatening him with a shotgun and informing him that there are no phones on the island save for at the ferry she asks him for a favor. She wants to see if something is what she thinks it is and since Mr. Skinner isn't home yet she can't ask him.

Sure enough Morgan agrees that the holes in the wall are from rats. This vexes the poor lady, she is afraid that they have gotten into the special food, the food that the lord sent them. Frankly if it were me and I had some kind of strange food that made baby animals grow gigantic and go all meat eater on me I'd probably have that food sealed up pretty tight and secure. Not ol' Mrs. S. she rolls with the jar out on the table and the lid off. She's a rebel that one!

On the ferry back home Mr. Skinner (John McLiam) wonders if anything strange was up while he was gone. Upon hearing of Davis' death he asks if the friends said anything about seeing any kind of “big anything.” Clearly he knows of Mrs. Skinner's sloppy handling of the foodstuffs.

While investigating a crash in the kitchen Mrs. Skinner's arm is attacked by some giant maggots. Had he been around Bear Grylls would have been in heaven, those suckers would have kept him in energy for a month.

While driving home Mr. Skinner gets a flat. Before he can get it fixed he is attacked by a pack giant rats. What ensues is the first of what will be many completely awesome rats attacking a miniature structure shots. By attacking I pretty much mean crawling all over... but still!

The next day we see douchy businessman Jack (Ralph Meeker) and his assistant Lorna (Pamela Franklin) driving towards the farm. Along the way they pass a Winnebago containing the pregnant Rita (Belinda Balaski) and her man, who is definitely not her husband Thomas (Tom Stovall). Rita seeing Douchy Jack driving by runs up to flag him down since the Winnebago is broken down but Douchy Jack, being a douche, opts not to stop.

Since Mr. Skinner isn't back yet Mrs. Skinner is reluctant to show DJ and Lorna the secret ingredient that makes the animals big. But Jack douchily finds a way to convince her. As it turns out the secret ingredient that the lord sent is some kind of goo spouting out of the ground. Yep thats right, if you want your animals to grow up big and strong you gotta feed them God Goo!

The revelation is broken up swiftly by the return of our friends the wasps. Boy if they thought that Davis had a bad reaction to the whole piggy back thing wait until they meet the douche.

Jack actually surprised me a little bit here, in a very uncharacteristic move he grabs a shovel and heads out to get rid of the wasps. He doesn't do too well on his own. Luckily Brian and Morgan, having decided to return to the island and rid it of the wasp menace, pull up just in time to lock and load and help Douchy Jack save the day. Well not day, but minute or so. I think Jack would have had better luck had the wasps not been utilizing some kind of cloaking technology making them semi transparent.

After dark, once the wasps would have returned home, Morgan and Brian head nest to take care of things. They do so with fire and explosives. Solid, transparent or opaque not a single wasp could have survived that beautiful explosion!

While Lorna gets trapped in the rat tunnels requiring rescue our Winnebago bound friends are running into some rat trouble of their own. Morgan and Brian save Lorna of course, and Tom and Rita escape their now rat covered vehicle on foot. I can't stress enough how much I love the rats swarming miniature vehicles shots, pure awesome!

Douchy Jack wants get the hell out of there, he does offer to take anyone that wants to go with him. Of course as Morgan points out there is a chance that the rats could still get them, even in the car. Arguments and threats ensue and it is decided that Morgan and Brian will take a trip in the jeep to see how bad the rat problem is. Brian isn't thrilled at this.

While the boys are out checking on the rat problem Douchy Jack is busy filling up every container possible with the God Goo. Lorna on the other hand is concerned about Rita who is sick and possibly having a miscarriage.

Morgan discovers a fence stretches all the way around the property, even through the water. He believes that the rats are too heavy to swim and will just sink to the bottom of the water. Brian, being the thinker, points out that the fence is kind of puny and won't hold the rats back long. Morgan thinks differently, the fence will work wonders! ...if it is electrified.

One little generator and a ground later and Morgan's shocking fence dreams become a reality. Luckily the plan worked and the rats retreat from the electric fence. Down at the water the theory turns out to be correct. Them rats is sinkers! Well at least the half of the pack that showed up to the water is, the other half are back at the generator site apparently knocking a tree down to break the thing.

Upon discovery of the busted generator Morgan does what any sane man wouldn't do. He hops out of the jeep and attempts to move a tree to possibly fix? The generator. Sadly this is just the opening our friends the R.O.U.S.s (Rodents of Unusual Size) were looking for and they go on the strike. Morgan escapes the ordeal with just a bit up arm, Brian isn't quite so lucky. He'll be spending the rest of the flick standing next to Davis.

When Morgan pulls up Douchy Jack is trying to convince Thomas to get Rita into the car so that they can all leave. Jack makes a douchlike comment to Morgan about the missing Brian which results in a confrontation and then leads Morgan to go on a God Goo dumping spree. This is just the distraction the rats needed and they charge the house. Everyone who hasn't been a giant douche throughout the whole ordeal makes it back into the safety of the house. Jack on the other hand gets et.

During the attacks they discover the white rat that is apparently the leader. The shotgun shells aren't going to last forever, something has to be done. Morgan's plan is to make pipe bombs out of the black powder from the shells, and fire bombs out of pretty much every other flammable item in the house.

Once finished creating his weapons Morgan tricks convinces Thomas to help him take the fight to the rats. They shoot their way to the jeep, head to the dam, which Mrs. Skinner conveniently mentioned to Morgan at some point, and set the pipe bombs to blow the dam out and flood the island.

While the guys are out setting the bombs the rats are still at the house swarming (more fantastic mini work!). One rat finds it's way into the kitchen only to be attacked by a butcher knife wielding Mrs. Skinner. Her knife fighting skills are met with mixed results... By mixed results I mean that she dies from the bite wounds at the same time that the rat she was attacking died from her knife wounds.

Proving how inconvenient it really is to have a pregnant woman with you in the middle of a giant animal attack Rita actually gives birth to a healthy baby boy in the middle of all of the action. Man is that kid going to have an awesome story that none of his friends will believe.

As the water from the dam reaches the house Morgan rushes in the door and orders everybody upstairs to avoid the water (and probably the angry drowning rats as well).

After a scuffle with a couple of roof clinging rats everything appears to be over. Then the white rat leader leaps out from behind the roof and Morgan realizes that he just busted the last of his caps. No problem, being the man's man that he is Morgan is able to wield the gun as a club and bludgeons the rat until there is no more problem.

What is the recipe for a good cleanup? Take one large pile of soaking wet giant rat bodies, add in the apparent last jar of God Goo, throw in some leftover gasoline, toss in a match and watch your trouble just go up in flames.

As the movie ends we see two jars marked FoTG being washed away all the way down to a place where cows are grazing, cows who are then milked, milk that is then sent to schools, schools where children drink the milk!

Uh oh...

*Animal rampages involving giant spiders are the exception to the rule. Sometimes you can avoid those and still have a soul... Spiders is scary.


First off I have to admit that out of the impressive number of movies that I have seen in my day my experience with the “animals run amok” genre is disappointingly low. I've seen a few, but nothing of not that comes directly to mind. But I do love the idea of them, and I shall be watching more. The question begs, was “Food of the Gods” a good place to start? Well lets see.

So yeah the acting for the most part was what you would expect from this kind of fair, lots of over the top, a little stiff, and one dead on portrayal of a douche, well maybe not dead on but I certainly enjoyed Ralph Meeker's run as Jack (could you tell?). So you won't find me complaining too much on that aspect.

The plot delivered everything it really needed to. It was simply a device to allow some sweet giant animal attacking action wasn't it? Did it work? You bet. Now I know that this is based on a story by H.G. Wells, and I haven't read that so I don't know how close a translation it is, but I would suspect that some stuff was dropped, and some was changed. Obviously the story had a deeper message, the movie tried to keep it at least a bit in the pre and post narratives with Morgan, and of course the action. But it did seem a little tacked on or forced with the narrations to me.

Ah now we get to the real good stuff, the attacks. They started out a little silly with Davis being attacked by nothing and then giving a piggy back ride, though the swollen effect made up for that and later on with the rats they entered the realm of campy and excellent. The giant stuffed rats themselves weren't that realistic looking, but what they lacked in quality they made up for in quantity. I sound like I'm kidding but it actually worked for me, with all the movement and business of the scenes combined with the surprisingly decent looking injuries it just worked. Now the stuff that I took entirely too much joy from are the rats climbing on miniature set pieces scenes. Those were just so deliciously camp that I just couldn't get enough of them.

I also enjoyed that The rats make feline noises.

If I had any criticism I guess it would have to be the pace. It seemed a bit clunky, there were times when I was really lost in the moment and having a great time, then it was like a brick wall of boring stuff trying to drive the story on, the extra cut in of Rita and Tom arguing over marriage comes to mind. That could have easily been a part of a scene that ended in them running from the vehicle instead of a tension breaking cutaway. Little nit picks like that is all I've got.

Oh yeah and the stupid freeze framing during the opening credits, yeah that annoyed the hell out of me. I thought the Netflix stream I was watching it on was wigging out. Don't do that!

Overall I would say I had a good enough time with the movie. It was worth the netflix stream, I wouldn't purchase it and there are aspects of it that make me hesitant to recommend it to others (See disclosure below). But the parts of it that were good were good enough to keep me interested in the genre so I'm glad that I stuck with it.

Full disclosure

When I was writing my thoughts and the recap I had made the decision to try to gloss over or ignore the obvious trauma to the real rats that took place. As I post this I realize that it is kind of irresponsible. The obvious animal abuse was extremely troubling to me, it certainly wasn't entertaining to watch. It was sad and a really poor choice to make when filming. Though over all I did enjoy the movie it was a tough hurdle to climb and it did wreck the rewatchability.

Monday, August 4, 2008

FGFC: Beardless Brolin edition (AKA "The Car")

So once again the time is here, we hang our hats, put up our feet, grab our favorite snacks and drinks, shut out the lights, remove our pants, and tune into the Final Girl Film Club pick. Which of course can be found over at Final Girl.

...What, you don't do the pants thing? Whatevs.

This month's pick is a big one for me. Not only had I heard of the movie prior to it being picked but for the first time ever I had actually seen the damn thing. Of course in the name of science I did give it a second watch just for the club. Also if you were thinking that having prior knowledge of the movie made it possible for me to write this up in an “on-time” manner you must be new. Actually the plan was to view and write during the day on Sunday when I was clear but once again fate thwarted my attempt. This time it was the form of 20 power free hours. But by Brolin's Beard* I sear to thee that I shall have this out before midnight PST.

So “The Car,” which was this month's pick really interested me when I first heard about it. First point of order though I wish it were so I am unfortunately by no means a gearhead. But I am a wannabe! So any movie about a car in some fashion that doesn't require lots of knowledge about said car excites me. It really is a matter that hurts me, “Two Lane Blacktop,” “Vanishing Point,” and even “Bullitt” are movies that I do really like but I always always feel as if I'm missing something in the translation. That may be a sad commentary on me as a person. Also I should apologize in advance, this thing kinda got away from me. It's long, crazy, and I think I was jerk enough to leave a few bad puns laying around.

So anyway back to “The Car.” James Brolin, an evil murderous car, 1977, which way will this go? Well lets see.

The Story
The story is fairly simple. Which is the beauty of it!

A car made of evil is on the loose and wreaking havoc on a small Utah town. Said evil ends up gaining the attention of the police Capt. Wade Parent (James Brolin) which could be problematic for the car's future in evildoing.

Thoughts: Good or Bad?
See, told you it was simple. Well ok you got me I could go into synopses and make it more complex but really going in that is ALL that I needed to be excited. That may make me an easy mark I'm not sure. Still the fact remains.

But did it hold up to my expectations? After two viewings I'd have to say yes, yes it has. The movie simply had it all; action, adventure, mystery, mild spelunking...

What can I say “The Car” had me from the beginning. The first kill(s) set a good tone. Two random bikers going across a bridge are harassed first and then bumped off by The Car. Sadly I don't have the ability to paint a picture with my words that would do it justice but it did a nice job of setting things up. Loud, intense, unapologetic, but not gory. Got it!

The pace set forth by the first attack by the car was kept up nicely with the second attack. This time instead of random bikers we get to meet the victim. A man who goes by the name of Johnny Norton. A man by the way that on my first watch through I thought was going to be a pivotal character through the movie, he had just enough detail to fool me into believing that he would stick around. Sadly he made the mistake of uttering to the speeding past car one of my favorite taunts I've ever heard; “Up yours with a splintered fiddle!” Thats just awesome, isn't it? But seriously even though young Johnny tried to do the right thing and stop spousal abuse he also did something evil in its own right, he played the French horn early in the morning while people are probably still sleeping. He deserved the plowdowning that he got and at least one of the backups. Also...he was a hippie, farting music for a whole year indeed!

And what of our man Wade? We first get to meet him as he wakes up with Lauren (Kathleen Lloyd) his lover watching him sleep. What ensues is typical let's do it before the kids get in here fare which she takes care of in a quite unique and might I say discomfort inducing manner. Still a lot is packed into that little scene. We learn that Wade is a single father of two, they don't know that Lauren sleeps over (except that they do, he just doesn't know), he is a cop, Lauren is a teacher. But most importantly we learn that it is highly possible that Josh Brolin isn't actually the start of “No Country for Old Men” my theory is that James Brolin in 1977 stumbled upon a time machine directly after filming “The Car” flashed forward in time and stepped out directly onto the set. Picture evidence below.

See what I mean?

So anyway going forward The Car rampages more, reports come in, including one that the car has no driver. Now here is another thing I really liked about the movie. It didn't play out like a “monster” movie with a Satan car. It played out like a crazy automobile movie, that is how the cops handled it, that is how the cops Would handle it if it were real (what is real?). It just so happens that this crazy automobile might in fact be the devil, who knew!? There wasn't any magic, no spells or curses, just cars, speed, and explosives!

There were some cheesy cliches in there, I won't lie. Extremely flammable from inside the cab cars for starters. Thats a standard I know but it always strikes me as a little bit strange to me. Maybe its because of that episode of Mythbusters, or maybe I really am jaded? Also Lauren taunting the car at the cemetery was a little questionable. She had no idea why it wouldn't come in there to get her so when she started it seemed a bit unintelligent (and she is a teacher remember?). Of course it provided a good comic beat to break up some of the uncomfortableness, and then when it became necessary to keep The Car distracted it worked.

Cheesy in a good way was the Devil hand in the fireball at the end. And by the way, did you notice that the only way to kill an evil car of any kind is to actually blow it up. Well that isn't true, K.A.R.R. Survived an explosion!

I really can't think of too much to even say about the movie that would fall under the “didn't like” banner. About the only thing that I thought was kind of a bummer was the way that Lauren went out. Yeah it was important that she go so that Wade could take the revenge kick up a notch. But I just don't like the idea that she can have these dumb moments like she does.

Here is a hint for you Lauren if you are being stalked by a murderous vehicle always have a lookout and an escape. Don't send your only refuge off to check on his family, especially not if he is supposed to be on the job! Also if you are standing in front of a big window and you can see some headlights outside of it paired with a loud and unsettling honk feel free to assume that you are right and The Car is there and you should find higher ground. Don't wast time making a call to voice your suspicions. Seriously she was pretty much asking The Car to turn her house into a drive-through.

Final Thought
I'd recommend giving this a rent without hesitation. There are some scares in there that come in the form of discomfort. The old “Jaws” like adage of a loud noise repeated can affect you is really in effect here but in a non rip-off way.

There is some subtle but good stuff in there. The wind the precedes the car was probably my favorite. Also most of the non major characters had their own little sub stories going on that helped develop them a bit. I've never read the book but my instinct is that this is some of the good holdover coming from there.

Though I thought the ending of the movie was pretty good and didn't seem out of place apparently there is an alternate ending that is the ending from the book. I kind of wish I had seen that.

* I have in fact been using the term “Brolin's Beard” far far too often since Stacie coined it.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Abridged Review(s): "Why so serious?"

Hey there, remember me? I'm the angry guy that used to frequent this place and bitch about a lot of things and geek out about other things. Ring any bells? No? Well it has been a while. I guess we start at the beginning then. Please allow me to introduce myself, I'm a man of wealth and and taste. I've been around for a long, long year. Stole many a man's soul and faith.....No wait thats someone else. Screw it just read back you'll remember me!

As I said in my last post way way too long ago I've been keeping busy with projects of one sort or another. I've also been taking it easy on the movie front. I have a lot of them on my plate that I want to get to (including getting back on track with that pesky IMDB list of so long ago! (I've actually snuck a few in that I haven't spoken of yet(Three sets of parenthesis!!!))). But there are a few flicks I've taken the time out to check out recently, some good “The Dark Knight,” Some less so “The Incredible Hulk” but I'm getting ahead of myself. Settle back, buckle up, and keep all your hands and feet inside the car at all times this could be bumpy. Let's jump right into it shall we?

The Incredible Hulk
If you don't remember me then you probably don't remember that I consider Ang Lee's Hulk to be a bit of a masterpiece. Admittedly I do owe a large nod to the always incredible Kim Morgan for my enjoyment of “Hulk.” If not for he enthusiasm for the flick I never would have touched it. It may be a flaw in me but for some reason or the other I just am not a huge fan of The Incredible Hulk. The comic books have never held my interest, the TV show bored me, etc...

I was very much ready to skip this one and catch it on DVD. Unfortunately it happened to come out right about at the same time as Father's Day was rolling around. I decided to treat my dad to any flick, his choice. Though I urged him towards “Iron Man” he wanted to see “Hulk.” I decided hitting him in the face with a steel folding chair wouldn't be the appropriate response to his choice so I went with it.

To say my expectations going in were low would be a mild but accurate way to put it. And as such my expectations were met. There was some decent enough action, a little story. I was glad that it wasn't a complete origin story, so at least it didn't make Lee's film completely irrelevant. The casting was good enough, though I really really wish that we could have had more time with Tim Roth as a human, or a super human before they made him a CGI abomination (there is a pun there if you choose to fish it out).

I think the biggest crime the movie had for me was that it just left me feeling like all I had seen was another big actiony summer flick instead of a movie that was part of a world that is larger than that. Which is what Marvel is obviously going for. I mean there were some references to the “universe” in there, the main ones being the S.H.I.E.L.D. Computers, and of course the ending cameo by Robert Downy Jr. Who completely stole the movie by the way. But other than that there wasn't much.

Oh, and the final fight between The Hulk, and The Abomination looked almost as realistic as some of the cut scenes you get on your average Xbox 360 game nowadays. Seriously I laughed.

All in all I'd say rent this when it comes out on DVD or if you have the means Blu-Ray. With the exception of the end fights the CGI is relatively well done and the action is OK. The story is workable, though I still feel that it would have served the movie better to be connected more with both the Ang Lee “Hulk” and “Iron Man” but we can't have it all can we? Let's just pray that “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” takes more after “Iron Man.”

The Ring (second viewing)
Originally I hated this movie. I considered it a huge disappointment. See when I was going to ITT we talked a lot about movies (gotta do something to avoid classwork right?) and someone whose movie taste I really trusted told me I needed to watch this “It'll scare the shit out of you...literally” he said. Now at that point I'd seen some scary movies, but none of them had required a change of pants afterwards so I was intrigued.

Netflix was contacted, the movie was sent and then the movie was watched. The next day I went back to class and had to ask my friend which part of the movie was supposed to do the damage. He seemed both baffled and flabbergasted at my dislike of the movie.

Cut to a few years later and I see the Internet's Final Girl Stacie Ponder making goo-goo eyes all over “The Ring.” So again someone whose judgment I totally trust is loving on this flick. So with a little coaxing and realizing that I've been incorrect in the past I decided a round 2 was in order.

In fairness the first shake I gave “The Ring” was at about 3 in the afternoon, it was bright out, I was just out of class and my brain was probably still wound up from math or some such. Not necessarily ideal for a scary movie. This time I was relaxed, it was night, there was actually a nice rain going on outside. So the scene was set.

So was I wrong originally? I'd say yes and no. I will now admit that yes it is a good movie, and it'll suck you in more than you realize. Was there an unfortunate accident during the viewing, no. It wasn't that kind of movie.

The interesting thing about “The Ring” is that instead of the sudden big scares it relies pretty heavily on the long running slow creepy eerie scare that like I said just grabs a hold and you may not even realize it is affecting you. Trust me, it affects you. I found that out about 30 minutes into the movie (half past Midnight for me mind you) when My phone rang. Well OK that almost got the job done, I'm man enough to admit I jumped. Then I answered and cussed out my friend for calling so late and having such terrible timing....jerk.

The twisty type thing near the end would have been a lot more impact for me had I not known it was coming, still I was able to appreciate that it both made sense and fit in with the movie and didn't “break” anything. Which is always good of a twist.

I'd still probably just call this a rent, if only because I just don't know if the chills and eerie feelings would hold up to multiple views. But it definitely is a fun scary watch.

The Dark Knight
So umm yeah, stop reading what I'm saying here and go watch the damn thing yourself. If you've already seen it stop and go see it again!

Actually I will say a few short words on it. Everyone loves Bale as Batman, you can't argue with that. Ledger has been getting huge praise for his turn as The Joker. I agree with all said on that of course. Maggie Gyllenhaal's Rachel Dawes is also getting a lot of good attention, again I agree though I wish she would have had a bit more screen time. Lets face it, the movie is an acting powerhouse. But here is what bothers me. All of these great performances and yet I'm not seeing nearly enough praise going towards Gary Oldman, whose performance was subtle and brilliant. Gordon isn't and shouldn't be the focus of a Batman movie obviously, he is kind of an ancillary character. Still Oldman was able to deliver the goods. C'mon people, you know you loved him so come out and say it already!

Yeah I'm going to go ahead and just say as soon as possible pre-order this one. I know it will be in my collection ASAP. Though before that go see it in the theaters again. I'm hoping I can catch it in IMAX since I was unable to on opening night.

Next on my list is possibly “The X-Files: I Want To Believe” though after reading some unflattering reviews that seem to confirm my fears I am really worried...

So there you have it, some movie talk, nuts as it may have been.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

FGFC: Lifeforce, better late than never?

So I'm late, well I'm always late but this time I'm later than usual. But what are you gonna do, sue me?

So it is time once again for the FGFC This month the coo coo nutsos ran the asylum and Stacie allowed a vote to choose the movie. That vote lead us to “Lifeforce.” A sci-fi/horror, (or is it horror/sci-fi?) flick directed Tobe Hooper out of 1985. The movie is based off of the book based on the book “The Space Vampires” by Colin Wilson, a book that based on it's title I find annoying that I had never heard of. Time to head to the used book store!

So I went into this movie as usual knowing extremely little. In fact really all I knew was the description Stacie gave during the voting process (a new and scary, but cool, addition to the film club. Now we can only blame ourselves?). Research, whats that? So basically I went in knowing only that it was a Tobe Hooper directed flick, and at some point some naked life sucking space vampires would show up....Ok that's not true, I did do a little research. I had to make sure the name Bea Arthur didn't appear anywhere on the cast list. But other than that I swear I went in knowing nothing.

On with the really big shoe

You know honestly I'm have no idea why but after multiple viewings this movie really just doesn't do much for me and

I really have no idea why. When I sit back and think about it I really should have loved the thing. First off it combined horror, and sci-fi two of my favorite genre's in any medium. That alone should have been enough to seal my love. So why didn't it? Seriously I'm asking because after 4 viewings (Yes 4 viewings!) It still isn't striking me strongly in any way.

It isn't poorly made. In fact in a way the effects really impressed me. I really liked the look of the dehydrated lifeforeceless victims. They had a fantastic creepiness about them, especially when animated, and those eyes. I really liked the practical effects. Even the light/energy stuff wasn't so bad, although the effect itself didn't make a whole lot of sense in a logical “what is that doing” sense. But then we are talking about space vampires no? The closest thing to an eh, maybe moment in the effects was the space “walk” moments where it was clearly a still image floating on a matt-painting. And yet even that wasn't terrible, they managed to get some depth out of it and the painting was top notch. Actually I take that back, there is one effect I didn't care for. The animated giant bat creature, I thought they looked cooler while inanimate.

The story, well maybe this is what does it. First I'll note that I've never read “The Space Vampires” so I don't know how true to the book it truly is. But to me it plays an awful lot like a movie that was directly adapted from the pages of a book. Most people think that is what they want. I always maintain that movies and cinema are two completely separate mediums and direct translations rarely work. People get hung up on changes, but they simply are needed. Need proof see the Lord of the Rings trilogy, in fact watch it with director/writer commentary they talk a lot about changes being needed and people love those movies (and by people I of course mean me). So from the beginning it plays a lot like a book on film, from the John Larroquette exposition at the beginning spelling out the happenings to the order in which things are happening. Even the twist at the end was dulled for me by the manner in which the foreshadowing, the verbal queues would work in a book but on film there are better more subtle ways.

There were things I did like storywise though. The misdirection sending them to Yorkshire, the stuff in the asylum that was good. The retconning of the entire vampire mythos was kind of cool. The idea of a vampire plague and the energy being sent to the shop was a really cool sci-fi meets classical horror type convergence.

See like I say, some complaints but nothing overwhelming. Yet somehow I just couldn't feel Lifeforce. And that is saying something I mean c'mon....Naked vampire aliens from space, Patrick Stewart getting lip locked by a another man, bodies that explode into dust, zombiefied plague victims going all hungry vampire zombie all over London, freaking naked vampire aliens from space (did I mention those?).

My final conclusion.....My brain effing hates me and wishes to drive me insane.

Also I'm not so sure that the female naked vampire alien from space wasn't actually a Sith. When she was escaping the research center it looked an awful lot like she was using, Force Lightning, Force Choke, and Force Push. Go ahead and rewatch, you'll see. She was full of the dark side!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Abridged Review Part Deux (The Quickening): Cloverfield

Ok so it has been a little while and I've thought about it and yes; while I still think the Spinal Tap inspired review of “Cloverfield” was both accurate and hilarious (at least to me) I also feel I should back the opinion up. At least a little.

So what killed “Cloverfield?” Very simply the first 20 minutes. Look I'm all for rocking the boat, breaking the rules, bucking authority and what have you. But only to a point. One of the main rules of movie making is, Don't be boring! Especially don't start out boring. Hell Trey Parker even mentioned something to that effect in the commentary on “Cannibal: The Musical”

The first 20 or so minutes of “Cloverfield” were just mind numbingly boring. Get this straight buster, those crappy home movies, nobody likes them, nobody watches them. Not even the people in them, or whom they were for. Nobody. So doing one seriously in a movie to help us get to acquaint us with the characters just doesn't work. It certainly doesn't work when it goes on and on for nearly a half an hour with NOTHING happening.

Lets not forget this is a monster movie right? So over 20 minutes in and no monster? Well that has happened before, but usually you would be explaining where the thing came from. But that wasn't this movies point or MO which is fine, in fact it was one of the selling points that got me interested. Who cares where the thing came from it is causing carnage and that sounds like fun to watch.

Instead of getting to the action quick the explaining time was replaced with drivel. We found out that Marky got with Sharon and Sharon got Sharice. She was sharing Sharon's outlook on the topic of disease. Mikey had a facial scar and Bobby was a racist. They were all in.....Wait, that can't be right it's too entertaining...But it was something similar to that. We got a home movie a boring boring home movie.

You may notice I haven't focused on any other problems with the movie that happened later on. Good eye. That's because the first 20 got me so disinterested and angry that I never recovered. The rest of the movie was competent but not mind blowing. Some things were good, top notch effects, decent city decimation etc... But some things weren't so great, the in joke with the cameraman's name being “Hud” ceased being funny 42 seconds quicker than immediately, the little parasites scurrying around were kind of weak, and frankly a lot of the reactions this group were having just weren't believable.

Most of the errors could have been easily forgiven had it not been for the tortuously dull beginning.

In the end “Cloverfield” did something that even the worst of the worst movies are rarely able to do to me. It made me angry because I was so let down.

I still remain optimistic but now a bit skeptical of what Abrams is going to do with the “Star Trek” reboot.

Don't hurt me again J.J. Next time I'll send a friend of mine to have a few words with you...

Can I get a Hell yeah?