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Thursday, October 20, 2011

Bad Taste (1987)

Before he showcased his visionary brilliance with The Lord of the Rings (2001-2004) Peter Jackson made his directorial debut with Bad Taste; a low-budget horror-comedy that is gory blast of fun. Set in Jackson's home country of New Zealand and also in the areas where he grew up. Much of the sound effects were added later with the weapons being made from supplies that Jackson and his crew could assemble together - the actors actually simulated the recoil for the guns (quite well if I may add). Many of the crew members played roles in the film, mostly as the aliens in their zombie-like human form. Learning about all the effort and talent that went into making this film is almost as fascinating as the actual film. The plot consists of an intergalactic fast food franchise coming to Earth and taking human form in order to harvest the earthlings to create the finest (and grossest) stew you will ever be made into. Up against these alien fast food workers is a group of the last remaining non-abducted humans who are militarily armed and ready to fight back.

Amadeus (1984)

Such passion, such  hatred, such pain. Those are the feelings that haunt Antonio Salieri (F. Murray Abraham), the protagonist and tortured hero of Amadeus. The film begins with a man (Salieri) screaming, he is begging for forgiveness for killing Mozart. When his servants enter the room they see him attempting to commit suicide by cutting his throat. Next you see Father Volger (Richard Frank) walking into a mental hospital and he meets Salieri in his room, at first Salieri wants nothing to do with the Father, but he quickly opens up and tells him his confession. He was just a man with one dream: To be able to dedicate his life to and make great music. As a child Salieri is plagued by his strict father who wants his to get into business. His father chokes and dies during a meal, an event that Salieri calls a "miracle", with his father dead he is taken to Vienna and able to fully dedicate himself to music. Next the films jumps to him being an adult, also he is a court composer for Holy Roman Emperor Joeseph II (Jeffrey Jones) which he is content with being. Next is the arrival of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (Tom Hulce), a praised young composer who Salieri is a major admirer of. But when Salieri finds Mozart to immature and "vile" for his taste the loathing begins.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Hunger (2008)

Hunger is the film that introduced British director Steve McQueen to audiences all around the world. Gruesome and disturbing, but with the sound intention of informing us of a tragic part of Irish history through its representation of beaten, battered, and broken, but not lost, men willing to die for their honor. This film is based on events of one man's life, but McQueen doesn't resort to using one man to get his point across, instead many men to create a more worldly picture. Art doesn't get much more stirring than this.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Shivers (1975)

Shivers is the debut feature film for Canadian director David Cronenberg who would practically create an entire sub-genre with his body-horror (it is exactly what it sounds like) style films. A crazed mix of sexual content and violence that introduces the potential of a director who has been shocking audiences and impressing critics for his entire career. Plenty of controversy surrounded this film - much of it coming from an article by Canadian journalist Robert Fulford that attacked the Canadian Film Development Corporation for using tax-payer's money to fund such an explicit film. That controversy would make it challenging for Cronenberg to get funding for feature films. Compared to his future films, Shivers' violent content is surprisingly tamed, but bursts of gore and low-budget visuals don't coexist very consistently.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The Three Ultimate Teases

So far there have been three teaser trailers that have movie fans counting the days until their release. In pure tease fashion I will take some time to talk about the art of the tease trailer with you guys before revealing the three trailers I have picked as the Ultimate Teases. I don't know if it is just my absent mindedness, but it seems like this year teaser trailers have been having a much larger effect than in any of the previous years. There really is a phenomenon going on, and it is fascinating to watch how it effects movie fans all around the world.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Reassessing My Blog

For the first time in months I did something a little daring with my movie watching. Are you ready to be blown away? I actually watched a handful of movies without doing ANY reviews!!  The last review I did was on Saturday for the atrocious comedy, Your Highness (check it out). I guess what started this different frame of mind for me was my realization that the Oscars aren't closing in as fast as I thought - they will be held on February 26, 2012 (roughly 5 months from today). Prior to figuring that out I was starting a 2011 Catchup where I was going to try to watch many of the films from this year that I have missed; I plan on continuing that, just at a less rushed pace. So, with an endless supply of movies I can, and need to watch, I am really increasing my movie watching pace. That, very likely, will either require me to figure out how to do my reviews at a faster speed or I may just have to skip out on some reviews. I think I could accept that as long as I can keep up a steady post rate, but so far my blog consists of only reviews (with two "month in review" posts). My only idea of how to deal with that is for me to figure out non-review, yet still movie related, posts to do; this being the first.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Your Highness (2011)

Modern day profanity and sex jokes, tasteless gore, and not a laugh to be found is what you can expect from this medieval-set knights and sorcerers tale. I guess a redeeming factor for Your Highness can be that the film doesn't try to give off the impression of being anything more than a appalling, tasteless travesty. From the opening scene that takes within a kingdom of midgets gives a perfectly clear picture for how the rest of this moviegoing experience. At no point did this film earn my full attention, I fell no shame saying that in the midst of watching this I let my mind wander.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Friends with Benefits (2011)

Friends with Benefits doesn't cover new ground; rom-coms never do. They are made of of recycled ideas and situations about the cliches of love that have been used over and over again. We know what to expect and often can even predict the mood changes and outcomes. But we always return to them, especially on a rainy day or after a breakup hosting a tub of ice cream, because watching people, played by beautiful actors, struggling to find true love is just to appealing to pass up. Although, that definitely doesn't guarantee that we will enjoy them; for the most part they are brutally cliched, corny, and are comic failures. Why Friends with Benefits succeeds and is so much better most of the other rom-coms from this year is that it makes fun of the cliches and once it goes down its own  unavoidable cliched path, it embraces it, letting the charm, sweetness, and humor that sucked us in so easily still shine through.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Sucker Punch (2011)

Sucker Punch has an inconsistent appeal that will satisfy a limited audience, a failure of marketing and effort. The explosion-filled action and digitally-powered visuals will appeal to all modern audiences, but the layered plot will be confusing and test their attention spans. The eroticism of the cast of women will get appeal mass appeal from boys to young men, but their young ages will turn away older men. The explosion-filled action and digitally-powered visuals will appeal to all modern audiences, but the layered plot will be confusing and test their attention spans. Zach Snyder's first attempt to express his own ideas is a pathetic mess that fails miserably; proving that technical talents, alone, cannot form a strong film.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The Tree of Life (2011)

The Tree of Life is Terrence Malick's long-awaited return to the exploring, questioning, image-soaked form that he first explored a decade ago with The Thin Red Line (1999). It is a project Malick has been working on and planning for decades, so to say that this film has some hype following it is a major understatement. He is not a director who doesn't work at specific pace; he takes his time and passionately expresses his ideas and views through his work. With this film, Malick finds a project that works extremely well with all of his conflicting questions on existentialism, our troubled relationships with God and nature, along with Malick's humanistic sympathy that is beautiful and tragic all in one breath.

"Where were you when I laid the earth's foundation....while the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God sang for joy?"

Monday, October 3, 2011

Drive (2011)


Drive opens with an ongoing heist, but the attention is not on the burglars, it isn't on the people being robbed, actually, we don't see the inside of the building being robbed, at all. Instead an we follow the driver (Ryan Gosling), he has his own code that he follows religiously - he works anonymously, refuses to carry a gun, and only waits five minutes before leaving. For the first ten minutes of the film we watch as he goes the driver goes about his work: patiently waiting his clients to return as he listens to a police radio, then avoiding attention, and once they are ultimately spotted he works his magic. Not one word is spoken by the driver in this period of time.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Funny Games (1997)

A wealthy German family arrives at their lake house for a little vacation. Their lake house is surrounded by large houses inhabited by families whose toughest struggles were no more extreme than choosing the location for their next vacation. The husband, Georg (Ulrich Muhe), and son, Georgie (Stefan Clapczynski), leave to work on the family's boat, and the wife, Anna (Suzanne Lothar), stays to prepare a nice dinner. When quiet, well-dressed Peter (Frank Giering) knocks on the door and asks for some eggs Anna doesn't suspect anything, but when he "accidentally" smashes the eggs and knocks the phone into the sink Anna begins to get flustered. But it is when Peter's friend Paul (Arno Frisch) arrives that the young men's intentions are revealed. They continue to toy with Anna, when Georg arrives and tries to make them leave Peter breaks his leg with one of Georg's golf clubs - thus revealing their intentions.

September: A Month in Review

This past month was the second full month that my blog has been running. With school starting my number of posts went down, but I surprised myself by still being able to do around 4 posts a week. My reviewing skills have continued to grow and I continued adding some diverse films to my list of reviews. This month I finally started transeferring my older reviews from Rotten Tomatoes to my blog; they aren't as strong, but it is always interesting to look my progress as a film critic. Now I will spend some time showing offf some of the films I reviewed/transferred on to my blog on this wonderful second month. Here is a modest recap of a modest month of work: