Sunday, February 27, 2011

my thoughts on.... 'Let Me In' (2010)

the battle of the re-makes will never end.... as long as people continue to make films and then re-make them, there will be purists who say it's wrong and others who say it's okay.... and then there's the small group of people who will only know about the original or the re-make, but not both.... i used to be on the side of those who didn't think re-makes were okay.... back when Gus Van Zant re-made Alfred Hitchcocks 'Psycho'.... and my biggest two problems with that were: 1) it was a classic and you don't touch classics.... 2) it was basically a shot for shot remake, so it had no special signature of Gus Van Zant.... it wasn't until i heard him talk about his reasons behind re-making 'Psycho' that i started to change my opinion.... the way that he explained was something like this: film is like a piece of music.... and people re-make music all the time.... Mozart writes a piece of music and then several other orchastra's and conductors perform it, but with their own take on the piece.... and no one has a problem with this.... how is that any different from a film that's been made....? that's not a word for word quote, i'm just paraphrasing.... however, Gus made a good point with that statement.... and he's exactly right.... there is really no difference between the two art forms.... and therefore, i will give any re-make out there a day in court.... i may take a brief period of time to let the first film settle in before watching the newer one.... and these days it seems like a requirement to do that, as so many films are being re-made and in a shorter amount of time.... such is the case of 'Let The Right One In' and the American re-make 'Let Me In'.... i have stated repeatedly that i thought that 'Let The Right One In' was the best vampire film ever made.... i still stand by that statement.... it's proudly displayed as a part of my DVD collection and i've watched it several times and i get something new out of it each time.... after taking a long time to clear my head, i finally sat down tonight to watch 'Let Me In'.... and i am happy to say that i've formulated an opinion on it.... but first, the plot for those who don't know:

Owen is a 12 year old boy who is scrawny and lonely.... he has no real friends and tends to spend his time alone on the playground in the courtyard of his apartment building.... he's picked on by three older boys and dreams of someday being a tough guy.... one night he notices that some new people are moving in to the apartment next door to him.... an older gentleman and a young girl.... soon the girl, Abby, and Owen strike up a conversation and slowly become friends.... what Owen doesn't know is that Abby and the old man, her caretaker, are not who he thinks they are.... she's a vampire who needs blood to survive and her caretaker goes out to find it for her.... Owen and Abby's friendship continues to grow as things get more complicated in each of their lives.... eventually Abby is on her own and Owen is struggling to find out who he is.... in case you haven't already seen the original or the re-make, i won't spoil the rest of it for you.... but needless to say, both films have the same satisfying ending....
so what did i think....? i'll be honest, i did not have a lot of high expectations and i was very pleasantly surprised when it was over.... although much of this film was almost identical to the original, it was still it's own film.... the director, Matt Reeves, re-created the world of 'Let The Right One In' but for the American audience.... he also translated the source material into a smart piece of cinema.... it holds water on its own and is a nice companion piece to the original film.... the cinematography is beautiful and is as much of a character in the film as the actors are.... these things help set the stage for the true stars of the film, Chloe Grace Moretz and Kodi Smit-McPhee.... they embody the spirits of Abby and Owen and prove that age does not dictate talent.... you forget, at times, that they're only supposed to be 12.... but at the same time, they're obviously young and naive despite the fact that Abby has been 12 years old for a very long time.... these two young actors show amazing promise as to what the future holds for their careers and i look forward to seeing what they do next.... i feel that this film is a fine example of what Gus Van Zant was trying to say.... if the source material is strong (ie: the book) then another director can take their own spin on the story and create another version that is equally as important as the original.... and it leaves the filmgoer the opportunity to decide for themselves which film they perfer or if they like both for different reasons....

this film will be another part of my DVD collection.... and it will sit next to 'Let The Right One In' as a fine example of good filmmaking.... i can't say that all re-makes can accomplish what this one did.... in fact, i think that it's more of a rarity than a rule.... but i'm man enough to say that this film lived up to the hype it received once it was released.... it wasn't without flaws, but the flaws were so minor that the rest of film was not tarnished by them.... the biggest thing that bothered me was the way that Abby looked and moved while attacking people and climbing the tree.... it was obviously CGI and drew attention away from the film.... i don't know exactly how else they could have done it, but the film was obviously backed by a big budget and they could have afforded a bit more time on the special effects.... that was really my only gripe and the one i see most often in film forums.... now, i gave 'Let The Right One In' 5 out of 5 stars.... i gave 'Let Me In' 4 out of 5 stars.... the difference lies in the fact that the original had no seams in it.... i found no flaws with the acting, script, effects, cinematography or directing.... it was pitch-perfect filmmaking and set a standard for what a true artist can do with a little time, money and desire to make a long lasting piece of cinema.... 'Let Me In' came damn close to catching that same lightning in a bottle for a second time.... and if it wasn't for the small segments that bothered me, it would be on the same level as the original.... i can honestly say that these two films compliment each other and show different sides to the same story and fill in some of the blanks that were there in the first film.... (i'm sure the book explains even more.).... so if you're hesitant to rent this film because you love the first one so much, take a little time to let go of your prejudices and then give it an opportunity, you may be surprised at what you find.... and for those who haven't seen either and would rather start with 'Let Me In', you really can't go wrong.... it's a great film.... and a fine example of what American filmmakers can do and that you don't need quick cuts and big explosions to get asses in seats....

there you have it.... proof that one version of a film does not mean that another one can't exist that is almost equally as good.

if you like this, please take time to watch: 'Let The Right One In' and then read the book.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

my brief thoughts on.... 'Blindness' (2008)

Mark Ruffalo and Julianne Moore should be more than enough to instill a lot of confidence in the filmgoer to see this film.... i love them both and look forward to each film that comes out with them in it.... the idea of them together just sounded too good to be true.... the great thing is that they waited for the right project to work together.... this has a great script, great direction, and great cinematography.... it has a bit of a zombie movie feel, but with blindness being the disease not zombie-ism.... it's a very dark and sad film, however that just makes it that much more powerful.... and everyone in this film commits themselves 100% to the project.... i got wrapped up in the storyline from the opening scene and i didn't look away until the very end.... and even after that, i kept thinking about what i'd seen.... the idea of being struck down with blindness for no reason is horrific.... but being the only one with sight is almost worse.... this film presents what depths of inhumanity people will resort to when put in a difficult situation and little to no choices.... some of what occurs on screen made me sad to be a part of the human race.... i know that it was only a made up story, but i found myself cringing in some spots and wanting to look away.... this, to me, is an example of excellent filmmaking.... if you can illicit a physical or emotional response from your viewer, than you've created something special and unique.... 'Blindness' succeeds on this level and so many others....

on a normal day like any other, someone is suddenly struck with blindness.... there is no logic or reason as to why, but soon more people are blinded.... soon the entire city is blind, all but one woman.... during the course of the outbreak, the city has moved the blind people into a quarantined building.... eventually even the caretakers are struck blind and the people are forced to fend for themselves.... none of them know that one of them can see.... and she works hard to keep it a secret, despite all the horrors she sees occuring.... things continue to fall apart, until the entire city is basically destroyed.... more happens, but i am not going to be the one to ruin the ending of a great film....i'm so happy to see an original idea in a sea of re-makes and re-hashes of older movies.... the theme is similar to other end of the world films, but the way it's presented is what makes it different.... you can tell that a lot of time, thought and energy went into the production of this film.... it would be a welcome addition to anyone's DVD library and is a film that has a shelf life.... a long shelf life.... i was happy to give it a 4 out of 5 star rating.... i really thought this was something worthwhile and i always love seeing Julianne Moore and Mark Ruffalo.... they're excellent at what they do and seem to bring a certain reality to each of their performances.... this may not be the feel good film of the year.... but despite that, you'll find that the ending is solid and well done.... i can't even think of anything that i didn't like about this film.... it wasn't exactly perfect, but it was a damn good try at it.

if you like this, also watch: 'Right At Your Door', 'The Signal', and 'Dead Air'

my very brief thoughts on.... 'The Bounty Hunter' (2010)

Gerard Butler kind of snuck onto the scene and has since made himself into a household name.... Jennifer Aniston, of course, has been a big name for years.... the idea of putting them together seemed good at the time.... but if you're going to cash in on the success of two big name stars, you'd better have a good script and a good director.... i just don't know that this one quite hit the mark.... there are the occasional moments where i giggled or smiled, but it never was laugh out loud funny.... i was generous in my 3 out of 5 star rating.... i can say some of that goes back to my long term enjoyment of Jennifer Aniston's previous work.... i also have a bit of a man-crush on Gerard Butler and that doesn't hurt.... so that makes me a bit biased.... in my rating of the movie itself, if they were replaced with different actors, i think it might have been more like a 2 star rating.... i don't think i'll ever watch it again.... i don't feel like i wasted my time either.... it's one of those movies where you are home sick on the couch and you check out what's on cable and this movie pops up.... you don't have anything else to do and nothing else is on, so you end up watching this movie.... you feel no better or worse at the ending, you just feel like an hour and a half has gone by and you got to watch two pretty people be silly.... it's OnDemand right now, so if you're at home sick and have some time on your hands, check it out.... just don't expect too much and you'll probably feel satisfied at the end.... i did.

if you want some movies starring Jennifer or Gerard, check out: 'Leprechaun', '300', 'Office Space, and 'Reign of Fire'

Friday, February 25, 2011

my brief thoughts on.... 'Frozen' (2010)

what a terrible thing to happen to someone.... to get caught out in the freezing cold with minimal protection and no way to save yourself without sustaining a deadly injury.... not to mention that the first chance to be saved isn't going to happen for several days.... this is the premise of 'Frozen' and is enough to instill fear in me right off the bat, even before the movie starts.... besides the frightening plot, what's impressive about this is the fact that the movie is basically 3 people on a ski lift.... for almost the whole movie that's almost all you see.... it's difficult to pull off a movie under these circumstances, but 'Frozen' makes a valiant effort.... it's not the first movie to use this type of strategy.... but this doesn't always work.... when it does, it can be extremely powerful.... but when it fails, it just comes off as being dull and uninspired.... lazy writing.... in the case of 'Frozen', i think that they accomplished exactly what they were going for.... and they didn't have to resort to the hand held camera tricks that so many movies are using these days....

i've already outlined the basic plot already.... what happens is that 3 friends go out to ski on a mountain.... they bribe a lift operator to let them go for one last run before they shut it down for the weekend.... a mix up occurs and the 3 get stuck halfway up and the ski resort shuts down unaware.... the 3 people start to freak out about their situation and try and come up with ways to get down.... after some attempts and some horrific results, things start to look really bleak.... the rest of it is something you'll need to see on your own....
i really looked forward to seeing this movie.... and it lived up to the majority of my expectations.... there was very few things about it that bothered me.... and those things weren't enough to outweigh the good things.... i liked it enough to give it 4 out of 5 stars.... it was entertaining and at times nail biting.... there isn't much to speak of in the way of action.... most of it is talking about what to do.... and because of that, when the few action scenes take place, it makes things that much more intense.... it is available right now OnDemand, but i don't know for how long.... so i would recommend you check it out soon.... in closing, i think that 'Frozen' lived up to my expectations.... it didn't surpass them, but it left a good impression.... i'm glad that people are still out there writing for the actor and the audience, not the box office.... i don't ski, but the next time i do i will stick to the bunny slopes that don't required a lift.

if you like simple movies with minimal action: 'Open Water', 'The Blair Witch Project', and 'Buried' (2010)

my brief thoughts on.... 'The Expendables'

what person, that was alive in the 80's, did not cream in their jeans when they heard about this movie....? it was like a class reunion for all your favorite action stars from the last 3 decades.... the movie was in production a long time and was teased for years.... when it finally was in post production, the hopes were high for the possibility of the best action movie ever made.... or at least one of the most satisfying.... i think that since its release, it has garnered a lot of praise.... i just don't know how much of that was for nostalgia's sake and how much was honest praise for the movie itself.... either way, i had to wait until it hit DVD to watch it.... i was one of those fanboys that was really excited about this.... Sylvester Stallone has been doing good things recently.... Dolph Lundgren was due to be back on the big screen, as well as Jet Li.... Jason Statham is a bit oversaturated right now, but as a supporting role it took some pressure off of him.... Mickey Rourke is always good.... Bruce Willis, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Eric Roberts, Steve Austin, Terry Crewes, and Randy Coture.... a fun list of folks.... so what did i think....? first, the plot....

a group of ragtag hired guns are sent to overthrow a South American group.... when they get involved, they find out there is a lot more going on then what was originally expected.... things start blowing up after that....
i gave it a 3 out of 5 star review.... i liked it, but it wasn't amazing.... maybe my hopes were so high that nothing could ever match them....? i had fun.... it just seemed to be your run of the mill action movie.... nothing new, nothing special.... seeing all those guys was entertaining.... the story was a re-hash of other stories already told.... the action was mediocre.... it just felt like something you've seen before, but with new faces.... i guess it accomplished what it set out to do.... it was designed to be a vehicle for Stallone and his friends to get together and play action her for a while.... everybody was given the chance to shine.... a good one-liner.... to blow something up.... to play against type.... i think that's all you really could have wanted.... maybe on a rainy day in the future i'll watch this again and find out that i was missing the point and i'll fall madly in love with it.... who knows....? all i do know is that Mickey Rourke stood out with his over the top performance.... and that Dolph Lundgren proved that he's still a menacing bad ass that will kick your in the butt if you mess with him.... i think i'm going to go watch 'The Golden Girls' now to get some of this testosterone out of my system.

other action movies starring some of the cast: 'One Man Army', 'Rambo', and 'Crank 2'

my very brief thoughts on.... 'It Came from Kuchar'

Mike and George Kuchar are twins.... which obviously makes them brothers.... they're also filmmakers.... and not very good ones at that.... they have a long standing history of making crappy ultra low budget movies.... and are still making them today on even smaller crappier budgets.... this documentary had so much promise.... i ultimately didn't care about them or their movies.... it just showed who they were and what they did.... i didn't get much insight on them or their movies.... it was fun to see the behind the scenes of these horrible movies.... that was the redeeming quality.... it's the only reason i gave it any stars at all.... i actually gave it 3 out of 5 stars.... it was like a primer for their movies and saved you the trouble of actually having to go out and find them to watch.... perhaps they'll inspire the next Lloyd Kaufman or Quentin Tarantino.... or perhaps they'll inspire the next Ron Jeremy.... who knows and in reality, who cares....?

if you want to see a good movie on filmmakers, watch: 'Pretty as a Picture: The Art of David Lynch', 'The Haunted World of Edward D. Wood Jr.', and 'Divine Trash'

my brief thoughts on.... 'Black Dynamite'

i don't care for Michael Jai White.... i never have.... whenever he's in a movie he is a distraction.... for example, in 'Spawn' he was the wrong choice and terrible in it.... there is just something about him that's annoying.... after saying that, i have to say that i really enjoyed 'Black Dynamite'....! and to think that he not only starred in it, but wrote it too.... i have a new respect for him.... it doesn't mean that i really like him very much, however he's proved why he's still working in Hollywood.... this movie is re-treading some familiar ground.... it's obviously a throwback to the old "Blaxploitation" films of the 70's.... noboby is hiding that fact.... the difference here is that this isn't a Zuckers brothers kind of spoof, this movie would actually stand on its own just as a good comedy.... it doesn't rely so much on gags that it doesn't have anything else to offer.... it's smartly written and slyly acted in such a way that it feels fresh.... regardless of the already familiar territory.... the casting in this is excellent and Michael Jai White stands out in the lead.... he finally draws focus in a positive way.... he feels like a Richard Roundtree and looks like him a bit too.... he embodies the 'Shaft' vibe.... i really enjoyed goind on this ride and wasn't sure what to expect and i was happily surprised with the results.... this is OnDemand right now.... so consider adding it to your queue.... it is well worth the time....

Black Dynamite is one bad mutha.... when his brother is killed, he takes it upon himself to find the killer.... and what he discovers is a plot that leads him all the way to the White House.... that's the basic plot....
if you like spoof movies with a smarted sensability and ones without the 'DUR DUR' idiot moments, this is the movie you need to see.... it's been a while since there has been a movie like this.... i liked it enough to slap 4 out of 5 stars on this movies ass.... there is a scene at the ending that sealed that deal all by itself.... i was glued to my TV from beginning to end.... and i'm a big enough man to apologize to Michael Jai White for my previous feelings on his career.... i may not run out to see his next movie because of this one, but i will consider it before throwing it under the bus.... (i'm also a little scared that he's going to come and kick my butt.... he's a pretty bad dude....!).... this movie will undoubtedly go down as a cult classic and a movie that people will still be talking about in a decade.... it has a timeless quality and that special something that is rare.... a comedy that is actually funny. (not like 'Meet the Parents.)

if you watch this, also see: 'I'm Gonna Git You Sucka', 'Shaft', and 'Black Belt Jones'

my brief thoughts on.... 'Observe and Report'

i have a feeling that there are a lot of people out there that really dislike this movie.... and those who really love it.... i just don't think it's a middle of the road movie.... it even shocked me a bit.... but in the end, i really enjoyed this and i ended up buying it for my DVD library.... i've since watched it several times and it's just bizarre enough and mean spirited enough that it's what i would call a guilty pleasure.... now if you like your comedy clear cut and ha ha funny, this may not be for you.... it's more of a dark comedy with not many redeeming qualities.... the characters tend to be unlikeable, but in an anti-hero kind of way.... you find yourself rooting for the lesser of all evil's.... it reminded me of a 'Death to Smoochy' kind of movie.... (which i also own and love....)....

Seth Rogan shines as the lead in the movie.... he plays Ronnie Barnhardt the head of mall security at a large mall.... he has bigger asperations to be a police officer, but has several issues and can't pass the tests.... he's in love with the girl at the makeup counter and tries to woo her at any chance he can get.... meanwhile, there's a flasher on the loose and someone who's robbed the mall.... Ronnie tries to solve the case before the police do and goofy stuff happens.... Ray Liotta plays the cop who's working to solve the case and he plays off Seth Rogan beautifully....
there are a lot of funny moments in this movie, along with male full frontal nudity.... Anna Feris plays a great bitch and her drunk scene is disturbing but pretty damn funny in a twisted kind of way.... there's just so many things wrong with this movie, but in turn that's what makes it work.... you find yourself in so many uncomfortable situations that when the punchline hits you're so relieved that you're out of that situation that you can't help but laugh.... or rewind the movie to make sure you saw or heard what you thought you did.... i found this to be a 4 out of 5 star comedy.... i look forward to hear someone else's opinion on this movie.... as i don't know that i know anyone who's seen it.... it's not going to change the face of comedy, however it made me appreciate Seth Rogan a bit more.... and the fact that certain people should not be nude.

if you like this, watch: 'Zack and Miri Make a Porno', 'Step Brothers', and 'Death to Smoochy'

Thursday, February 24, 2011

my brief thoughts on.... 'Blackout' (2008)

there's a lot of talk right now about the M. Night Shyamalan produced 'Devil' about strangers on an elevator and one of them may be the devil.... before that was made, there was 'Blackout' starring Amber Tamblyn.... this film was about 3 strangers trapped on an elevator that's stuck.... what two of them don't know about the third is that person is a serial killer.... sounds simple enough, right....? what's really impressive about this film is how much drama and action they were able to squeeze out of such a small place.... it's an edge of your seat thriller and despite the fact that you find out who's the killer before the end, doesn't make this any less powerful.... it's a nail biter.... and it proves once again that Amber Tamblyn is a very underrated actress.... she carries this film on her shoulders and does it well.... i only wish that other films would follow this same example.... it just doesn't seem that there's enough thought put into filmmaking these days.... there is a lot of junk being put out just for the sake of getting something out in the theater.... whether it's because of a certain actor they want to cash in on or a certain trend.... even remakes can be original, if done right.... so please, take the time to look beyond the 'new release' wall at the video store or explore Netflix in your spare time.... Google a film you love and look for referrals to other films.... there's a world of films that are waiting for a fresh set of eyes, you just have to be willing to take a risk....

that being said....
i can say, without hesitation, that this was a 4 out of 5 star film.... a little diamond in the rough that needs to be seen by more people.... kind of like another Amber Tamblyn gem, 'Spiral' (which is OnDemand right now).... it's another low budget thriller that needs more people to see it.... not too mention it also stars Joel David Moore and 'Chuck's Zachary Levi.... 'Blackout' proves that simplicity can be just as effective as an intricate plot and a big budget with a big name producer behind it.... it's a solid film with solid direction and solid acting.... and you should probably consider checking this one out soon before it's gone from Netflix's OnDemand section.... i highly recommend it.... and if it means anything, this will someday be a part of the Joel DVD library.... i enjoy films where actors get a chance to act and to tell the story with words, rather than with pictures.... this is absolutely one of those films.... and on that note, i'll be using the stairs.

if you like Amber Tamblyn, also check out: 'The Grudge 2', 'Spiral', and 'The Ring'

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

my brief thoughts on.... 'Piranha' (2010)

when Alexandre Aja released his film 'Haute Tension aka High Tension' in 2003, i hailed him as one of the up and coming directors that was going to save horror.... he was part of an elite group of artists that had a unique vision and something fresh to contibute to a genre saturated with PG-13 crap fests.... he had something gritty, dark, original, well thought out, violent, and beautiful to watch (cinematography).... over the years he's released some good and some okay horror films.... i don't think he's done yet and i still have faith in what the future holds.... regardless of all of that, when i heard he was remaking the cult classic 'Piranha' from 1978 i was a little concerned.... and when i heard it was going to be yet another 3-D movie, i got a little more concerned.... i thought maybe i was wrong and that maybe he had bought into all of the recent trends in Hollywood filmmaking.... because of that, i stayed away from this for a bit.... the only thing that turned me around on watching this sooner than expected was some very glowing reviews.... not only did the press enjoy it, but a lot of my friends felt the same way.... no one said this was high art, however they all agreed that it was a damn fun ride worthy of an audience.... and that brings me to now....

this movie is about a spring break like scenario at Lake Havasu.... while all the young people are partying and getting drunk, an earthquake strikes the town.... some researchers are exploring the phenomenon and find an underwater lake beneath the lake.... what they discover there is killer piranha's from 1000's of years ago.... soon the killer fish begin to attack and kill everyone around the lake and chaos ensues.... only a few survivors remain to stop the attack....
i hesitantly gave this 3 out of 5 stars.... i think with another viewing of this movie, that i will probably raise it to 4 stars.... it's just such a fun little excursion from the average movie going experience.... it's big stupid fun with a silly script and storyline.... the fish are over the top.... the acting is over the top.... there's nothing small or half-assed about this movie.... it knew what it was going to be and relished in that fact instead of trying to pretend it was something other than a B-grade movie with a big budget.... this is not the defining moment of Alexandre Aja's career, but it's a nice little notch in his accomplishment belt.... if you want a silly little bloody getaway, this is the movie you need to see.... even the ending is funny.... the only thing is, before you watch this movie, grab some fish to eat.... before it eats you....!

some other Alexandre Aja films: 'Haute Tension aka High Tension', 'The Hills Have Eyes' (2006), and 'Mirrors'

my brief thoughts on.... 'Dinner for Schmucks'

i like Paul Rudd, he's from Kansas City.... i like Steve Carell, he's not from Kansas City.... regardless of their Kansas City connections, i had high hopes for this movie.... it just seemed like a great reunion movie for these two funny guys.... the only drawback was the director was the same person who directed 'Meet the Parents', which i did not like.... but i figured i'd give it a shot and hope for the best.... what i got in return was a mediocre movie that i really don't ever need to see again.... not that it's a bad movie, it's just bland and predictible (like 'Meet the Parents' was....).... there were a couple of funny moments.... but the whole premise of the movie was the dinner.... and the actual dinner doesn't take place until almost the very end.... it seems like almost an afterthought to the rest of the movie, which is basically a buddy comedy.... i don't know how this compares to the original version of this movie.... but if they remade it, the original must have been a worthwhile movie....

Paul Rudd plays a guy who gets a big break at his job, but in order to get in good with his boss he has to go to his dinner party.... the dinner party is designed so that each person brings a complete mornon, but tells them they're exceptional.... and everyone there gets to make fun of the 'guests'.... Paul finds the perfect man, played by Steve Carell.... before the dinner occurs, there's a series of things that happen and Steve gets way more involved in Paul's life than he wanted.... hilarity ensues....
the end result of this was a 3 out of 5 star movie.... not a waste of the talents of Paul and Steve, i just wish they'd found a better vehicle for these two.... 'Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy' was such a better movie and featured these same two actors.... i'm sure it's not the last time we'll see these two guys together.... they have a long career ahead of them and a lot of movies to make.... if you're looking for a movie, just to watch a movie.... one that doesn't make you feel good or bad or happy or sad, then this is the movie for you.... i can check it off my 'to do' list now.... the end.

if you watch this, also watch: 'Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy', 'The 40 Year Old Virgin', or 'Knocked Up'

Saturday, February 19, 2011

my very brief thoughts on.... 'Mulberry Street' (2006)

After Dark's '8 Films to Die For' are kind of hit and miss.... i don't base my decision to watch a movie based on if it's one of their's or not.... but this particular one caught my attention.... even if the premise seemed kind of bizarre, it got good reviews and it was enough for me to want to watch it.... and it started off really strong.... the cinematography in this movie is excellent.... it has a specific feel to it and it's the perfect feeling for this type of movie.... sadly, the premise of it drove this movie into the ground....

let me give you the short version.... it's hot, it's in the city, a bunch of people live in a neighborhood where rats bite someone and soon everyone starts turning into giant rat/zombies.... the rest of the movie centers on the people in the neighborhood trying to save their own lives....
i really tried hard to like this movie.... like i said, it was really well shot.... the script was decent.... even the special effects were pretty damn cool.... despite all of that, this movie just doesn't hold water.... the idea of giant rat/zombies just seems to dated.... like something out of the 80's, but with modern effects.... the sad thing is that it just doesn't have the same charm as those movies did.... i gave it only 2 out of 5 stars.... i just shudder at how much worse it would have been if it wasn't for the way it was shot.... and i think if the giant rat/zombies would have been infected humans with some kind of craziness or actual zombies, this could have been a really kick ass movie.... maybe not a ground breaking piece of horror, but a good addtion to the zombie/crazy human genre.... so that's it.... if you decide to watch it, make sure you have plenty of rat traps and booze.

better versions of zombie or crazy people movies (minus the giant rat/ zombies): 'Dawn of the Dead' (2004), '28 Weeks Later', and 'Undead'

my brief thoughts on.... 'Zombie Strippers'

as dedicated readers of my blog, you know of my love for zombies.... you may also have gathered that i stay away from a lot of zombie movies because they're really low budget and look like crap.... this one made it on my radar, but was ignored because it looked pretty terrible.... the only thing that kept me interested was the fact that Robert Englund was in it.... that still wasn't enough to get me to watch it.... even it being OnDemand didn't light my fire.... however, when a friend recommended that i watch this.... i couldn't say, "No." any longer.... so i loaded up the queue, grabbed some snacks, and fired up the Netflix.... an hour and a half later, i was satisfied and spent.... what a fun little ride.... i felt bad with myself for passing judgement before having seen it and making a decision for myself.... needless to say, that won't happen again.... i may wait for a bit to watch something until my bias is gone.... but that doesn't mean i won't ever watch something.... anyway.... this movie is a complete farce.... it's all tongue in cheek and that's what makes it damn fun.... i mean, you have a porn star in the lead, what'd you expect....?

this movie opens with a hilariously bad action sequence and that leads to one of the infected to escape and make it to a strip club.... once he's there, he begins to infect people inside.... one of them is a stripper who, once she's a zombie, begins to dance and drives all the men wild.... realizing the marketing potential, Robert Englund's sleazy manager begins to exploit the zombie stripper.... the only problem is that they have to sacrifice someone to her to keep her happy.... then others begin to turn and soon things are out of control.... but how does it end....? let's just say it gets messy....
i tend to judge the quality or re-watchability of a movie by if i'll want it in my DVD library or not.... and what zombie DVD collection is complete without 'Zombie Strippers'....? i say that it isn't complete if this title is missing.... you've got strippers and blood, guts, and gore.... it's got comedy and action.... it has a whole lot going for it.... regardless of that, i still only gave it 3 out of 5 stars.... it was a fun movie, but not a great movie.... it's still a low budget, exploitation, zombie movie.... however, it's a darn enjoyable one.... it's available to rent or watch OnDemand, so everyone can be happy.... you've got no reason not to watch it....! just check out the trailer and you'll see what i'm talking about.... and take it from a zombie aficionado, this one is a winner.... and something i will be watching again, possibly even tonight.

if you like this and want other zombie comedies, check out: 'Shaun of the Dead', 'Tokyo zonbi aka Tokyo Zombie', and 'The Last of the Living' (2008)

Friday, February 18, 2011

my very brief thoughts on.... 'Deranged'

Ed Gein has been written about, puzzled over, studied, and portrayed on film in many different ways.... not always as himself, but aspects of his life and crimes have been mixed in with other characters.... he's generally considered the first serial killer, however he was more of a grave robber than a killer.... he was only ever convicted of killing 2 people.... but the police think it may have been as many as 15.... therefore, he never qualified as a serial killer.... but regardless, that's the way he's remembered is as a murderer either way.... in 1974, they made probably the most accurate movie about the life of Ed Gein.... it's pretty melodramtic and dated, but if you've read the history of Ed Gein you'll see how closely they match up with the reality.... i've actually seen this movie twice.... not intentionally, it just kind of happened.... and the second time i wasn't sure until the very end that i'd already seen it.... i don't know if i liked it any better or worse the second time around, but i did get a little more out of it....

Ed Gein was a mama's boy.... he loved his mother more than anything else.... and when she died, he had an extremely difficult time coping with her death.... instead of moving on, he went and dug up her corpse and kept it in his home.... this wasn't the end of his graverobbing.... eventually he made it a regular thing.... and his home slowly turned into a museum of the macbre.... full of skulls, bones, severed body parts, lamps made of skin, a full skin body suit, and more.... things just get worse and worse with his obsession until he takes it to the next level and kills.... this proves to be a shocking revelation for the people of his small town.... the fact that a mama's boy like Eddie Gein could commit such horrific crimes....
there have been many better movies based on parts of Ed Gein's life and there may be more made at a later date.... i wouldn't be surprised.... but until that happens, this is the best one to date.... (stay away from the Kane Hodder movie 'Ed Gein: The Butcher of Plainfield'.... it's pure and utter shit.).... i gave this movie a 2 out of 5 star rating.... it's not a good movie overall.... it is what it is....Roberts Blossom does an amazing job of bringing Eddie to life.... he creates a living and breathing man out of a subpar script.... his commitment to the role is intense.... sometimes it's so over the top that you want to laugh, but he's such a presence that you can't stop watching and don't end up laughing.... currently it's not available to rent, but you can watch it OnDemand from Netflix.... that's how i saw it.... before you delve into his depraved world, please do some research on him first.... learn all the details and view the crime scene photos.... it brings the whole story to life and you can see how much time and effort was put into this recreation of his life.... no matter how dark and twisted it was.

if you watch this, then also check out these loosely based Ed Gein movies: 'The Texas Chainsaw Massacre' (1974), 'The Silence of the Lambs', and 'Psycho' (1960)

my very brief thoughts on.... 'Death of a Ghost Hunter'

how many movies are they going to make about ghosts and film them from the first person perspective....? i can't say that i'm 100% sick of seeing them, but only the good ones.... this was an independent take on those movies, so the budget was lower and the actors are unknown.... the story is somewhat original.... so that's good.... but by the end of it, i kind of wondered if it was worth the time to have watched it.... the picture on the DVD cover above was very very effective and creepy.... however, most of the other 'scares' weren't qutie up to that standard.... it was, all put together and added up, only a 2 out of 5 star movie.... possibly worth the time to watch OnDemand on Netflix, but probably not worth the time to rent the DVD....

here's what i remember about the story.... a woman is hired to go to a home that's supposedly haunted and document what she finds.... she's required to have a camera person, a reporter, and a spiritual guide.... normally she works alone, but she creates an unsteady friendship with her companions for the duration of her stay.... things start out slow, but quickly begin to unravel as they're terrorized by an unseen force.... they eventually get proof of the existance of spirits.... however, they don't learn the truth behind the hauntings until much later and by then, is it too late....?
this ended up being better than the reviews would lead you to believe.... i've seen better, but i didn't feel like it was really a waste of time.... since i can't speak to each one of your individual tastes, read some other reviews and watch the trailer.... for all i know you may really enjoy this or you might not even want to spend the time to bother watching it.... this movie is by no means going to re-write the manual on making a scary ghost movie.... but it's above par for an indie horror movie and for that i gave the filmmaker's credit.... and i look forward to seeing what they have to offer in the future.

for a similar type of movie, check out: 'Paranormal Activity', 'Paranormal Activity 2', or 'The Blair Witch Project'

Thursday, February 17, 2011

my brief thoughts on.... 'Predators' (2010)

as long as the 'Predator' has existed on celluloid, the debate about 'Aliens' or 'Predators' has existed.... and me personally, i have always been an 'Aliens' guy.... but i've watched all of the 'Predator' movies and even both of the 'Alien vs. Predator' movies as well.... it's not that i hated the 'Predator'.... i dug all the movies.... (except 'Alien vs. Predator: Requiem'.... nobody liked that movie.).... but when i heard that Robert Rodriguez had finally got the green light for his version of the 'Predator' that he'd been pitching for years, i was excited.... even though he ended up only producing the movie and not actually writing or directing it, i was sure it would still have his stamp on it.... the cast kind of threw me a bit.... who's ever heard of Adrian Brody as a lead in an action movie....? i had my doubts.... despite all of my reservations about the movie and whether it might be good or not, i went into it with an open mind and a bit of excitement....

the nice thing about this movie was that right off the bat they were going for a new twist on an old theme.... it opened with our heros in freefall and just waking up from being knocked out.... once they've "landed" on the ground, the fun begins.... all of the people that survived the freefall begin to run into each other and eventually band together.... as they try to figure out where they are and why.... each of them has a weapon or two, but no memory of how they got there.... soon they realize that they're being hunted and a few other surprises and then the fun begins....
the end result of this re-boot or 3rd installment in the 'Predators' catalogue was a good one.... the plot is simple enough, but fills you up.... Adrian Brody stepped up and played the hero quite well.... he kind of channeled his inner Christian Bale ala 'Batman' persona.... the action was good.... the 'Predators' were well done and took me back to the first movie.... and that excitement i had watching this new lifeform hunt Aronld in the jungle.... i came to the conclusion that even with how much i enjoyed this little sci-fi/action romp, it still only added up to a 3 out of 5 star outing.... it was such a simple and straight forward story that could have expanded the 'Predator' universe a bit more, but instead just relyed on a steady diet of action and aliens.... you'll have to rent this movie if you want to see it.... but if you're already a fan of the 'Predator' or this is your first experience with them, it's a winner either way.... this is a nice little slice of bloody goey goodness.

if you like this, also watch: 'Predator' (1987), 'Alien vs. Predator', and 'Predator 2'

my extremely brief thoughts on.... 'Samurai purinsesu: Gedô-hime aka The Samurai Princess'

i'm going to keep this short.... this movie looked promising, but sucked big time ass.... it's shot on a really low budget, with piss-poor special effects.... just stay away like the plague.... even though it's available OnDemand, don't waste your time.... just look at the poster at the top of this post.... it's better than the movie.

1 out of 5 stars.... and that's being generous.

if you want a gory, Japanese movie, watch: 'Tokyo Gore Police', 'The Machine Girl', or 'Stacey'

my very brief thoughts on.... 'Jimmy and Judy'

the cover of the DVD for this movie declares that "This is the film that 'Natural Born Killers' wanted to be!" (the name of the reviewer is so small you can't read who said it, i wonder why).... if this is the movie that 'Natural Born Killers' wanted to be, then i'm glad it didn't get its wish.... not that 'Jimmy and Judy' was terrible, because it wasn't.... it just wasn't anywhere close to what 'NBK' was.... this movie is another in the long line of first person filmmaking.... it came out in 2006, so it was a bit before the boom hit.... but it still is a bit cliched.... i think the saving grace of thie movie is Edward Furlong and Rachael Bella.... they work so well together that they ended up getting married in real life.... they sell their rolls as Jimmy and Judy.... i can't say you end up rooting for them, but you can't take your eyes off of them.... i know that i wanted to see how they ended up.... and being a fan of Edward Furlong, it was nice to see him in a lead again.... he's an untapped talent....

Jimmy is a loner who has a secret love for Judy.... he videotapes everything that's 'important' in his life and eventually shows her his recordings of her.... and then he shows her the recordings he made of him taking revenge on the people who've hurt her.... and that seals the deal, she falls in love.... soon they leave home and begin a small crime spree across the country trying to stay one step ahead of the law.... eventually they end up at a sort of commune run by a crazy guy.... some things happen and the rest is for you to see on your own....
i gave this 3 out of 5 stars for the love affair of Jimmy and Judy.... and for the starring role of Edward Furlong.... the movie itself is not fantastic.... it's a lot of previously used ideas and sequences that are strung together into a new story.... there's not much new to see here other than the fact that it's all filmed in the first person.... i woudn't tell you not to watch this.... it's worth the hour and a half of time to watch it.... and it's available OnDemand right now.... so how can you lose....? it's not high art, but it is entertaining.

other movies that are better than this, but similar in theme: 'Natural Born Killers', 'Badlands', and 'Bonnie and Clyde'

my very brief thoughts on.... 'Ju-On 2' (2003)

if you watched 'Ju-On' (2000) the movie that started the whole franchise machine of 'Ju-On' and the American counterpart 'The Grudge'.... then you've seen 30 minutes of 'Ju-On 2' already.... yup, they recycle a whole lot of the footage from the first movie.... which doesn't lend itself to a great sequel.... not that the original was all that great to begin with.... it was death after death and a confusing plot inbetween.... the second one kind of follows the same formula, but with only an hour of new movie.... kind of feels like cheating, you know....? i personally found the remakes of part 1 and 2 to be much better than the originals.... i rarely say that, but it's true.... i did hate part 3, but they can't all be winners.... the same thing holds true for 'Ringu' and the American counterpart 'The Ring'.... the remake was so much better than the original.... actually, 'The Ring' holds up as a great horror movie all on its own.... but stay away from 'The Ring 2'.... good god it's a trainwreck of a movie with no redeeming qualities.... ugh....

i can't say that i even remember exactly what the plot was from this movie.... but what i do remember is that the house from the first one is re-visited and the killings start again.... the woman and the little boy start popping up all over town killing those who've entered the home.... that is pretty much it....
in the end, i'm kind of surprised that i gave this 2 out of 5 stars.... i guess i'm a sucker for the stringy haired ghosts from Japan.... they creep me out.... but in this movie, she's not scary.... the story isn't great.... there just isn't much good to mention about this movie.... nothing at all.... which all in all is a damn shame.... it just means that it's one more nail in the coffin for these types of ghost stories.... maybe they're overdone, but i don't care.... i like em'.... just not this one.

if you actually watch this, don't blame me.... i didn't make you

my brief thoughts on.... 'Lars and the Real Girl'

i've only seen one other movie about a guy that falls in love with a 'love' doll.... but it was a bit of a horror movie.... 'Lars and the Real Girl' is more of a traditional love story, with an odd twist.... the twist is never hidden.... he is in love with a 'real doll', which do exist.... ....the strange thing about this movie is that it's not at all perverse or twisted, it's actually a very sweet little movie.... and Ryan Gosling plays Lars in such an unassuming and naive way that you forget he's acting.... and all of the people around him all care about his so much that they begin to play along with his fantasy and soon you almost forget it's a doll he loves.... for that, i give a lot of credit to the screenwriter and the director.... between the words on the page and the ability to get the actors to be believable, it sells a false reality for a brief period that you want to be a part of.... the town where he lives, the people he knows, his family, his friends.... it's all so warm and inviting, it's like going home again for the first time....

Lars obviously has some social problems.... with friends, co-workers, and even his family.... he lives alone in the garage out back of his brother's home.... he barely visits his brother's family even though they're 50 feet away from him.... he soon discovers the Real Doll website and orders a doll.... once she's arrived, Lars begins to come out of his shell.... he almost immediately invites himself and his new girl over to dinner.... from there, he begins to take her all around town and instead of the town finding him to be a lunatic, they embrace his unorthodox love and welcome the doll into their lives.... she's included so much in their lives that soon she takes on a life of her own.... no, she doesn't come alive, but she is treated like she is.... she has a job, her own friends, etc.... i won't spoil the big finish to the movie.... (well, i don't want to oversell it.... let's just say it has an end.).... but i think this movie deserves an audience even if you have to rent it from Netflix, which you do.
i gave it 3 out of 5 stars.... and i wouldn't be opposed to a second viewing, if for nothing else but to go back to the little town where he lives to visit for a while.... i should mention the great co-stars Patricia Clarkson and Emily Mortimer.... they're wonderful.... i could see this one ending up in my DVD collection and probably growing on me with repeated viewings.... it may not be the last 'Real Doll' movie that we see made.... (and not just in porn).... i have a feeling they'll pop up again.... who knows, maybe someone will make a whole movie about a town full of 'Real Dolls' who order a human and one of them falls in love with the human.... eh....? eh....? maybe not.

if you like this, check out: 'Love Object' (it's the kind of scary version)

my very brief thoughts on.... '100 Feet'

every so often a movie comes along that has a lot of promise and a great actress, but just ends up being mediocre.... a 3 out of 5 star movie.... '100 Feet' is an example of raging mediocrity.... granted, Famke Janssen is good and the ghost is creepy for a mojority of the movie, but in the end none of that makes much of a difference.... you can't overcome a bland script and questionable special effects.... tried really hard to like this movie, it actually held my interest for the first hour or so.... after a while, things just started to go south.... and by the end, the ghost was a bit of a joke to watch and it turned into the 'Hollow Man'.... there was a reason this was direct to DVD.... it would never have survived in the theaters....

in the movie, Famke Janssen plays a woman who's just come home from prison where she's been locked up for killing her husband.... she is to serve out the rest of her term as a prisoner in her own home.... complete with an ankle bracelet and a maximum radius that she can move it of: wait for it.... 100 feet.... soon she begins to be terrorized by the spirit of her dead husband.... and things start to come out about how he beat her and what not and she begins the long journey to getting him to leave.... it's over the top and silly at times.... but it has a certain charm that i can't quite put my finger on.... that doesn't mean that i want to watch it again anytime soon.... even though it's OnDemand right now.... and as i stated earlier on, i gave it 3 out of 5 stars.... mostly because i like Famke Janssen and was happy to see her in a starring role.... i suppose if you don't expect the greatest ghost story ever told then you won't be let down.... if you wallow in the most mediocre and mundane things, then you're gonna be in hog heaven over this one.... LOOK OUT BEHIND YOU! IT'S A WIFE BEATING GHOST....! yeah, that about sums it up.

other ghost stories that are worth watching: 'The Ring' (2002), 'The Grudge' (2004), and 'Paranormal Activity'

my very brief thoughts on.... 'My Date with Drew'

okay, you're sitting at home and thinking that you want to see something new.... you want to see a documentary that isn't heavy handed and full of itself.... you want something light and cute.... you don't want to go out to the local video store, but luckily you have Netflix.... well, this is the movie for you....! it's all of those things and it's available OnDemand right now....!

Brian Herzlinger is a 27 year old filmmaker who sets out to get a date with Drew Barrymore.... while trying to achieve his goal, he films the entire process from start to finish.... and the results are extremely entertaining.... and i think just about everyone has a soft spot in their heart for Drew Barrymore.... we've all watched her grow up in the media spotlight and continually prove that she's got star power.... Brian puts himself in the position that we all have been in at some point.... having a little sweet spot for a celebrity and kind of wish we could spend a little quality time with them.... to find out how they really are in real life.... it's something not many of us get to do....
does Brian finally get his date with Drew....? you will probably want to watch it to find that out.... i don't want to give away the biggest plot point in the whole movie....! let's just say that you won't be dissappointed in the documentary.... it was a fulfilling experience.... and in the end, it's not so much about the actual date Brian is going for, the the journey he takes to try and get there.... that's the part that sells this movie.... i gave it 3 out of 5 stars.... this one won't change the world.... but it might change Brian's.

if you like this, watch: 'The Complete History of My Sexual Failures', 'Super Size Me', and 'American Movie'

my extremely brief thoughts on.... 'The Men Who Stare At Goats'

Wow. What can I say? This movie had so much potential. It featured an amazing cast, a fairly interesting concept, and it looked like it would set itself up for some funny gags. Instead, we got a movie that was just plain bad. I tried to love this movie. Hell.... I even tried to LIKE this movie! It was all too much to handle. Nothing seemed to work everything seemed like it belonged in another movie, a better movie.

2 out of 5 stars at best. It was a waste of the time and talent of several good actors and I felt like it was also a bit of false advertising. I enjoyed maybe 2 or 3 scenes, but that was it. I don't know what else to say. Don't waste your time on this one. Check Netflix and rent something that the actors did other than this.

Staring at goats? I'd rather write my reviews in the proper English format.

Some other movies to watch from these 4 actors: 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?', 'The Fisher King', 'Shallow Grave', and 'Se7en'

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

my very brief thoughts on.... 'The Gravedancers'

what happens when you take a lame concept, throw two B-grade actors amongst Z-grade actors, and then film it with mediocre special effects....? answer: 'The Gravedancers'....

this is one movie that i should have turned off when i realized exactly how bad it was becoming.... but for some reason i kept watching.... i suppose the masochistic side of me was thinking it might get better, however that never happened.... if anything, it just got worse and worse.... i mean, the concept alone is terrible.... three old friends go into a graveyard after the death of a friend and proceed to dance on the graves of three people.... they find out later that the three people were BAD people.... and they were in the BAD part of the cemetary.... and because they danced on their graves, the BAD people would be coming back from the grave to kill them within mere days of the dance.... the three BAD people are: a rapist, an axe murderer, and a pint-sized pyromaniac....
this movie comes off like a SyFy original presentation.... hell, those are better than this was.... i'm sure some people are out there that enjoyed this movie, but there are also people who really enjoyed 'Ernest Scared Stupid'.... i barely gave it 1 out of 5 stars.... i wish i could get my money back, but it was free OnDemand.... and time is something that you can never get back, even if you fly around the earth backwards really really fast.

if you like this, you should probably watch some SyFy original movies like: 'Anonymous Rex', 'Bloodsuckers', and 'Reign of the Gargoyles'

my brief thoughts on.... 'Cashback' (2006)

this film was just a happy accident.... it kept popping up as a recommended viewing, but i didn't decide to watch it until i finally read the summary.... it's a quaint little romantic/comedy/drama from the UK that crosses some normal boundries into the surreal.... but it all works so damn well that it's now in my list of top films from 2006.... it caught my attention from the opening credits and didn't let me go until after the closing credits finished rolling.... it's not a nail-biter of a film.... it moves at a slow and steady pace like a train rolling out of the station.... it follows your standard rules of cinema, but the little twist of the story creates a whole other side to the plot.... one that asks a lot of 'what if?' questions and has the guts to answer them too.... it presents you with a reality that all of us have thought about at one point in our lives: the ability to freeze time.

while our hero, Ben, is working the nightshift at a supermarket he realizes that he has the ability to freeze time.... meanwhile, he's slowing falling for the checkout clerk Sharon.... and inbetween working and fawning over her, he takes time to freeze the customers and sketch them, in various states of undress.... this probably sounds a bit creepy.... but the way it's pulled off in the film is fairly tasteful and shows the long term effects of these actions.... (and no, he doesn't undress Sharon.... even though he could.)

this film is beautiful to watch.... there's a scene near the end that encapsulates what love is in a visual sense.... it's not something i can explain, but the way the scene is drawn out creates a tangible feeling of love.... the credit for this belongs to the cinematographer, the special effects people and the screenwriter.... the screenwriter also created complete characters that lived and breathed on their own, even outside of the world he created.... they stick with you even after you turn it off.... these are presented as real people, with real lives, and real problems.... people you might know in real life.... and for all you know, maybe one of them is harboring a secret and they can freeze time....? i doubt it, but stranger things have happened....

after this film ended, i didn't hesitate to give this 4 out of 5 stars and might have gone as far as a full 5 out of 5 if it wasn't for the slight 'icky' factor.... that being the fact that Ben violates the rights of the women he sketches, by undressing them without their knowledge.... that being said, i would recommend this to anyone with a slight slant towards the bizarre.... and to those who like a good love story.... it's a new twist on an old theme.... something that i hadn't seen before, and something you haven't seen either.... it's available right now OnDemand on Netflix and i recommend that you add it to your queue when you get a chance.... it's a great film.

if you like this, watch: well, there aren't any other films about guys who can freeze time in love with girls.... at least not that i can remember

my very brief thoughts on.... 'Kuchisake-onna aka Carved: The Slit Mouthed Woman'

this movie had so much promise.... an evil looking spirit.... an interesting concept based on an urban legend.... it was a 'ghost' movie not made in America.... but what i saw was something so much less than i was promised.... granted, it had its moments where it seemed like things would be scary, but that's just it...they were moments.... in another context, the slit mouthed woman could have been a great horror icon.... they created something very iconic.... but in the end this was just another foreign ghost story with no big payoff at the end.... if i knew then what i knew now, i would re-watch it with only the good parts left in and instead of an hour and a half it would be like 15 minutes.... but a good 15 minutes....
according to Netflix, i gave this 2 out of 5 stars.... and the reason i know this....? because i'm the one who rated it.... if you have the choice, watch some of the other better known foreign ghost stories instead of this one.... i gave it a chance because of all the images and the trailer i saw, sometimes picking a random movie based on only a little bit of info is a dangerous thing....

instead of seeing this, watch.... hmmmm.... i can't think of any recent ghost stories that were very good

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

my brief thoughts on.... 'Kynodontas aka Dogtooth'

in all my years as a film lover and film student, i can't say that i remember ever seeing a Greek film before.... but thanks to a tip from a friend, this film was recommended to me.... and as of last night, i am can no longer say i've never seen a Greek film before.... if this film is any indication of what the Greek cinema is like, i think i'd like to learn more about what's out there.... granted, this film was strange and sometimes hard to follow, but it was still impossible to stop watching.... the director, Yorgos Lanthimos, has such a solid vision.... it just screams at you from the screen.... and if you ever wanted originallity from a screenplay, this has it in spades.... i'm still processing what i saw and i think it might take a repeated viewing to really absorb it all, thank goodness it's available OnDemand right now.... now before you run out and throw this in your queue, understand that this film is the 'deep end of the pool'.... it takes an open mind to view it.... i can't say that you'll like it, even if you're a well schooled film major.... it's something different that takes a willingness to think outside the box....

as far as the story goes.... i don't know that i can encapsulate exactly what happened.... as i see it, the story revolves around a family that lives behind a huge fence in their own little world.... the only ones who ever leave are the parents.... the three, possibly adult, children have lived there their whole lives and know about the world only from what their parents have tought them.... and the two parents control the information in such a way that the kids see things exactly how the parents want them to see it.... they even created their own language that replaces well known words with other well known words, like a zombie is a tiny yellow flower.... (you just have to see it to understand).... there is only one outsider ever brought into the home and she's basically brought in as a sex partner for the eldest son.... things begin to fall apart after the outsider starts bringing in things from the outside world.... the rest has to be seen to be believed.... (actually, the whole film is like that)
i can only hope that people who watch this can see beyond the absurdity of it all and find the art.... i can honestly say that i don't know what the message of this film is exactly, but i really enjoyed trying to figure it out.... i also am looking forward to see what else the Greek have to offer.... this film is 100% original.... i've seen dysfunctional family films, but none quite like this one.... and in a sea of copycat films, re-imaging an re-boots, it's refreshing to see something new.... even if it's hard to understand and challenging to watch.... i think one of the strongest aspects of this film is the actors.... they commit themselves to this film with all their hearts and sell it as reality.... you loose yourself in their world for the duration of the film.... i am so thankful that i took a risk on an unknown quantity, as it paid off in a big way....

i gave it 4 out of 5 stars and suggest you seriously consider watching it, but keep an open mind and watch it all the way through.... i can't promise that it'll make anymore sense by the end, in fact you'll probably be even more confused.... but the journey is the most important thing.... it's one you can only take once, so pack a lunch.

if you like this.... well.... i can't recommend anything else quite like it.... perhaps a stage play by Eugene Ionesco....?