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Saturday, January 31, 2009

The Uninvited (2009) Horror pg-13

The Uninvited (2009) - So this is the second pg-13 horror movie I have seen in a row. The audience was 3/4 to capacity and I would say 70% of them were girls between the ages of 12-16. It was loud with the chatter of girls and the glow of cell phones as the texting was fast and furious. Who knows maybe there was a twitterer or two. This is important to note for the fact that all this activity is quite distracting. It was also good because I think that this was the audience this film was written for. The reaction of the crowd were frequent and honest. Some of these girls were scared many times, mostly through sudden appearance of apparitions or noises. They were also murmuring when the big reveal happened. Unlike me who figured most of the reveal out in the first 35 minutes the kids were surprised and I think most of them went away thinking this was a cool smart movie.

The uninvited appears to be a film about a girl Alex (Emily Browning) returning home after a 10 month stay at a mental institution after a suicide attempt. We learn that her mother was killed in an explosion but was already dying of cancer. The sudden death lead the girl to the suicide attempt. When she returns she has her sister Anna (Arielle Kebbel ) to help fill in the goings on at the house over the last year. The nurse Rachael (Elizabeth Banks ), for their mother is now the girlfriend to Dad (David Strathairn). The sisters don't like her and suspect she has something to do with the Mom's death. Alex starts having visions of her mom. She is trying to warn her about Rachael. More and more we are asked to guess whether Alex is imagining things or if there really is something happening and that Rachael wants the girls out of the way so she can have the Dad for herself. There is a duel revelation at the end that is well put together, we will have to see if audiences are tired of clever twist endings. I for one liked it. I had figured out the sister relationship at the 35 minute mark and guessed about the condition of Alex but still there was some originality in the end. No detail so I don't give it away.

Grip - A general-purpose handyman, the movie set's counterpart of the theater's stagehand. His duties include laying dolly tracks, moving flats, setting up parallels, building platforms, placing reflectors and gobos, doing light carpentry, and generally performing tasks that require brawn.

Key Grip - The head grip on a film set, in charge of a group of men, usually numbering from five to fifteen.

Key Grip: Kim Olsen
Rating (6.8)

Monday, January 26, 2009

Burn After Reading (2008) (Drama)(dramedy)

Burn After Reading (2008) - Comedy and tragedy are lovers in this odd story about a couple quirky gym employees who find a disk containing the memiors of a former CIA agent. Thinking they have discovered valuable information they attempt to sell it back to the agent, Osbourne Cox (John Malkovich). It would be easily if the characters fromthe gym were not so flawed, Brad Pitt plays the witless Chad Feldheimer and Frances McDormand the self improvement obsessed Linda Litzke. When Cox refuses their offer they head down a rabbits hole that there really are going to be consequences for entering. Mixed in this mess are the relationship side stories, Cox and wife Katie (Tilda Swinton), she is cheating on him with Harry Pfarrar (George Clooney), Pfarrar is cheating on his wife with anyone including Litzke, Cox and anyone else who will say "yes". There is more of this but lats just say no one can win in this movie. I think the message of this movie speaks the lengths people go through to find a connection with other but also how we are never just satified in those relationships, it also shows us the tangled webs we weave, will more likely catch us. There we will be stuck.
What I liked: Brad Pitt was great. McDormand was a bit of typecast for the part but she does it so well.
What bothered me? Well this is a not a movie about particularly likable people. Maybe that is the intent but in the end there really are no innocent bystanders besides the manager of the gym.

Grip - A general-purpose handyman, the movie set's counterpart of the theater's stagehand. His duties include laying dolly tracks, moving flats, setting up parallels, building platforms, placing reflectors and gobos, doing light carpentry, and generally performing tasks that require brawn.

Key Grip - The head grip on a film set, in charge of a group of men, usually numbering from five to fifteen.

Key Grip:None Listed
Rating (7.7)

Monday, January 19, 2009

Sheitan (2006) Horror

Sheitan (2006) - This is a gritty horror flick from France about three horny guys and two girls lured to a country estate of one of the girls. Unfortunately for the guys the estate is out in satanist country and soon the guys are trying to survive the night.
What I liked: The raw characters were real punks and it came across in spades. Eve (Roxane Mesquida) the seductress was sharp and appealing. Although the story was a bit strange with the crazy Shepard Joseph (Vincent Cassel)excellent in his role. Overall it got the strange story told doing a nice job of not giving too much away too soon. What didn't work: It was slower than it should have been. The bizarre nature of the story was off putting. Characters were not very like able.
Rating (6.2)

Saturday, January 17, 2009

My Bloody Valentine 3D (2009) Horror

My Bloody Valentine 3D (2009) - In a mine collapse miner Harry Warden survived by killing the other eight men trapped with him thus leaving more air for himself. He is found in the mine with the dead and in a coma. The person who caused the collapse, young Tom Hanniger (Jensen Ackles) is at a party in the mine four years later when Warden awakes from his coma looking for revenge. What follows is a gruesome killing spree with a pick axe. Warden is wounded and is lost in another mine collapse stopping the nights killing. Tom survivor of the massacre returns to the town of Harmony ten years later, to close the book on the chapter by selling the mine. Reconnecting with other survivors including his girlfriend Sarah (Jamie King) he strives to close a disturbing chapter in his life. Soon though people start dying again in the small town and it seems Warden is back. The town folk struggle for survival from the Valentine killer. He leaves the hearts of victims in heart shaped candy boxes.
All this and more in 3D, The writer (Todd Farmer and Zane Smith) attempt to create dynamics between the characters, setting up that Axel (Kerr Smith) does not like Tom since he caused the mine collapse and then in the present having Axel the local sheriff be the husband to Sarah. They also take some time to wait to reveal a secret about Harry Warden and Tom. Using stares and circumstances to lead suspicion away from and to characters. They attempt to make it hard to know who is really behind the killing, Warden or some copycat.
Unfortunately 10 minutes into the part of the story that was in the present I knew exactly who the killer was. So the rest was watching the impressive 3D and gore. The gore is plentiful and gruesome so be prepared. This is an R rated movie and does include a woman (actress Betsy Rue) running around naked for 5 minutes.
What I liked: The special effect were excellent, 3D very enjoyable with the new technology very easy to watch without that motion sickness feeling. Jensen Ackles brought a bit of life to a somewhat poorly written part. The body count, impressive and unrealistic just like a slasher movie should be.
What I did not like: The interpersonal storyline was a drag on the movie. I know there has to be something there to make characters have conflict but it all sounded a bit cliche. Still it did move the movie forward. I knew who the killer was in the first half hour. This is never a good so any twist that came later did not matter. Stupid ending leaving it open for the sequel on purpose so if this movie hits they can make another.
Rating (5.7)

Friday, January 16, 2009

Sjunde inseglet, Det (The seventh Seal)(1957) Drama

Sjunde inseglet, Det (The Seventh Seal)(1957) - A really compelling film where a knight returning home from the Crusades meets death on a beach in Sweden and buys time to get back home to see the wife he left 10 years earlier by challenging Death to a game of chess. Through the journey home we see a country side rotting with the Black Plague, and the people and the knight deal with the questions of the meanings life and death.
It is a really remarkable movie and worth every one of the 105 minutes it took to watch. I will re-review this at a later date and try to give it the time and thought it deserves.
Rating (8.4)

The End of Suburbia: Oil Depletion and the Collapse of the American Dream (2004) Documentary

The End of Suburbia: Oil Depletion and the Collapse of the American Dream (2004) - Well if the utter devastation this film predict will happen in the next 30 years actually happen then these fine folks will be able to say "I told you so." The movie focuses in on the unsustainable of the suburban way of life in America. The culprit that will end this sprawl and gridlocked rush hours? Peak Oil, this is when the demand for oil passes the ability to produce. The makers of the film say it is happening now. People in the peak oil movement are focusing on ways to localize their lives, from moving to eco-communities to controlling there food production. Ending their oil dependence before they have that forced on them. Because the movie is from that side the closest they had to another view was a guy who seemed unsure and thinks new technologies will solve the coming crisis. The movie is a good informational piece exploring a subject I think will be real to most of us in the next ten years. My question is about the early adopters thing. Do you need to be an early adopter of technology or moving away in this case or can you wait until the masses are calling for change and it is more likely to happen?

Rating (7.7)

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Ostre sledované vlaky (Closely watched Trains) (1966) Drama

Closely Watched Trains (1966) - This Czechoslovakian war movie was really quite sad. Milos Hrma is a shy virgin who works at a train station during the end of WWII. The movie explores the problem he has with women, the doctor said premature ejaculation, which leads him to a suicide attempt. After he finally explores this problem with an older woman things look like they will improve. The other story line comes into play as he is on the outskirts of a Czechoslovakian resistance as the Nazi's retreat. Milo has to unexpectedly step in on a sabotage of a munitions train. Unfortunately he is shot in his successful mission and dies. The movie then ends.
This was a very sad movie and although a drama was also a comedy, a really strange mix.
Rating (6.6)

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The Year of the Yao (2004) Documentary

The Year of the Yao (2004) - An interested look at the 7' 6" Houston Rockets center in his first year in the NBA. This movie from the point of view of the interpreter hired to help Yao communicate during that first season is a intriguing look into the transition this young man needed to make. Carrying the expectations of a nation Yao attempts to learn the ways of the NBA.
Rating (5.9)

Monday, January 12, 2009

Ran across this!

The seven worst MPAA decisions of 2008

Henry: Portrait of a serial Killer (1986) Horror

Henry: Portrait of a serial Killer (1986) - In order to become a serial killer you have to be abused as a child. This is what happened to Henry, Otis and his sister. For Henry though it is a compulsion, you can see it behind his eyes when he looks or talks to people. Played well by Michael Rooker Henry attempts to have friends but things just don't work out. Afraid of intimacy, and not sure he wants a partner Henry still struggles to connect with Otis's sister Becky (Tracy Arnold). You can probably guess how this turns out. The movie although stark never really told much of a story.
Rating (3.5)

Sunday, January 11, 2009

The Wrestler (2008) Drama

The Wrestler (2008) - Randy "the Ram" Robinson is a down and out former wrestling star. Squeaking out a living on his past fame in small venues he at least has the roar of the crowd. After a heart attack and bypass, he needs to give up wrestling. This spurs him to try to reconcile with the daughter he abandoned and form a relationship with a stripper he likes. Fear of dying alone a broken man drives internal character development.

What I liked: Duality of the characters and the actors playing them. Mickey Rourke an actor of excellent ability who may have been so much more had not the hollywood life taken its toll on him. The Ram still wrestling with wanting to be a better person but still giving into the vices that probably brought him to his lowly position. He may still have been in the national game if not for the drugs wild life.
Marisa Tomei as Cassidy a stripper who is past her prime and really should move on to another career but still sees stripping as a way to her dreams of home ownership. She holds Randy at arms length not wanting to mix business and private life. Will she pass up a chance for a real relationship ? Marisa and actress who still looks great without her clothes should probably move past that in her career. Certainly she has enough acting ability to avoid sthe trap of nudity in movies.
The script by Robert D. Seigel is contrived at times, but it has to be to move "The Ram" to the final scenes. His final decisions make perfect sense because of the scenes with his daughter Stephanie (Evan Rachel Wood) and Cassidy. each thing that happened logically moved the wrestler to the final scenes. There is no fluff in this script. It is what it needs to be to get Randy to the final scene. The direction was very good from director Darren Aronofsky, with a nice use of hand held and the cute trick of following the character through the backstage of the wrestling arena and then later the back of the supermarket.
I also liked the commeraderie of the wrestlers in the back room before and after shows. These warriors give so much for so little but seemed a tight knit community of soldiers.

What I didn't like? Evan Rachel Wood was not great in her part but in fairness her role was just a means to an end and not a fully developed character. Asl0 the Store owner where Randy worked in the day was way too much a stereotype so a bit unneccessary.

Overall I really loved this movie and in particular the excellent job Mickey Rourke did in the title role.
Rating: (9.1)

Friday, January 9, 2009

Subject Two (2006) Horror

Subject Two (2006) was a compelling film that takes the Frankenstein story and builds on it, giving it a wicked twist in the end. I was engaged and interested from the beginning all the way to the end. A failing grad student takes an assistant position with a doctor experimenting with reanimating corpses. Soon after arriving he finds out he is to be subject number 2 and the Doctor kills him repeatedly in order through trial and error to perfect the formula. The scenery of the film location near Aspen Colorado is stunning and without giving anything away. Things are not quite what they seem with the good doctor and his experiments. I really enjoyed this one and with a cast of just six it does a fine job telling the story.
Rating (8.0)

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Off the Grid:Life on the Mesa (2007) Documentary

Off the Grid:Life on the Mesa (2007) At first I thought that I would hate this movie. They started introducing the characters that live on the Mesa in the middle of no where and I was a bit repulsed. The paranoid and damaged it seemed to me and at first I was very unaccepting that I wanted to spend 75mins listening to there crazy rants. I fought the feelings and tried to stay opened minded. I am okay with that decision. The people although struggling with life are struggling by choice and making it work. I learned about how on the outskirts of our society there struggled people who have what we all seek, a sense of community. Not that I don't know about the cultural curiosity and dysfunction of the poor. I came from those roots, it is probably why I had a hard time at first. People who exclude themselves because society has abandoned them is something I have seen many times before and am happy to be away from. Although the movie is not brilliant it is good. We get the glimpse into these lives and can come away thinking about what America is. This is the only American dream these people know although not many of us would want their dream.
Rating: (5.8)

Goth Cruise (2008) Documentary

Goth Cruise (2008) a look at the cruise some Goths take every year and what it means to them to be Goth. Jeanie Finlay takes a sympathetic non judgemental look at the Goth culture by focusing on a cruise to Bermuda a group takes. Who are these individuals and where did they come from. How did they come to embrace the Goth culture?
The movie would make a decent introduction to the culture but was not very meaty.
Rating: (4.2)

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Paranoid Park (2007) Drama

Paranoid Park (2007) A movie about a teen fraying after he causes the death of a man. This drama by director Gus van Sant is a plodding but sometimes gripping story. I remember hearing critics talk about this one and how controversial the ending is. Not really the lead character is always looking for the least mount of trouble and that holds through all the way in this movie. He has the decision we have all had to some degree. We do something stupid and someone gets hurt, we are the only ones that know. Do we find a way to live with it or do we tell someone and deal with the consequences. Granted only some of us have caused the death of another human being so we are not quite in the same boat. I can't say the movie was a great revelation for me. Certainly Van Sant is the master of the hand held at this time but I found the music video kid moving through landscape just to many and too frequent.
Rating (5.5)

Wishing Corridors 3: Wishing Stairs (2003) Horror Korean

Wishing Stairs (2003) or Yeogo goedam 3: Yeowoo gyedan, is a very decent chiller from South Korea. The story of girls at a boarding school where there is a stairway that grants your wishes. Naturally the wishes are more of the Monkey's Paw variety than the Fairy Godmother kind.
What I liked : there was definately a creepy feel to the movie and the idea that if you believe with all your heart in the stairs a 29th step will appear to grant your wish is clever. Ji-hyo Song and Han-byeol Park are both good in there rolls as friend and competitors. I love this about asain horror, tragic endings.
What I didn't like: The movie stretched to only 97mins but felt a bit longer. The frumpy girl character was strange.
Rating (6.7)

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Zombie Strippers! (2008) Horror

Well the lowly Zombie Strippers (2008) was the first movie I watched this year. I received it as a christmas gift from my Amazon Wishlist,
Feel free to purchase as many gift for me as you want. I love gifts!

Zombie Strippers!

So the idea is a government experiment to create a super soldier goes horribly wrong creating zombies. One zombie escapes the military strike force sent in to eliminate them by making his way into an underground illegal strip club. The star stripper Kat, Jenna Jameson is the first to be turned, and it amazingly her dancing drives the clients wild. Owner Ian, Robert England see the opportunity for profit and encourages the Zombie Stripper. The jealous strippers soon join in the zombie experience until things get a bit out of control. Zombies need to eat flesh and customers are a great source of flesh. Chaos ensues as the last humans attempt to survive the Zombie strippers.
First let me say despite the featuring of Jenna Jameson, this is not a porn movie. It is a gory horror comedy that delivers on some levels. Yes there are boobies to be seen but this is about the extent of the nudity. The movie has a funny competition between Kat and a fellow stripper named Jeannie, Shamron Moore. Jeannie is tired of being second to Kat and so when the zombie strippers become a great draw for the club she seeks a way to transform and compete. Some it it was very amusing. Still the movie despite the entertaining gore and enjoyable nudity was not, how should I put this?...Good. It certainly met expectations but they were very low to begin with.
Problems: 1. The military unit was way too cartoonish, I suppose you could argue it was intentional but still, some people just can not be seen as soldiers. Yes I am talking about Jen Alex Gonzales. 2. The zombies dancing was not entertaining at all and it is hard to believe they would make more guys want them than the wonderful human girls. The makeup was just too good making them really nasty. 3. Englund lived up to reputation as an actor.
Wonderful: 1. Gore and more gore, well done and gross. 2. The final dance off battle.
The rating: Well lets see, for the horror/gore genre this did have some value and also has a bit of a campiness factor. The acting was subpar, the screenplay not flat, had the secondary jealousy angle as well as a couple subplots but was not good. Written and directed by Jay Lee Production values were okay with great gore effects and a final showdown effect I LOL at. Still two sets no real movement of cameras. Rating (2.4)