Monthly Archives: October 2009

Saw VI

Incredibly they actually have gotten away with making 6 of these films, and yet it’s claiming to be a juggernaut franchise to make even more? The weekend has barely passed and shooting for the 7th film has already gone under way. To me, that’s jumping the gun and showing no regard for the success of the previous film, and that’s more of an attitude that the film makers are just going to continue on and on with the series until the viewers lose complete interest. Read the rest of this entry

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Black Dynamite

I happened to be tooling around on the net one day when I unexpectedly came across the trailer for Black Dynamite.  I was immediately captivated when I realized that somebody actually was trying to take a stab at recreating a good old 1970’s blaxploitation film.  I began drooling as the trailer continued to roll and by the end of it I was slack jawed – before I went into hysterical laughter.  In that moment, I made up my mind that I was going to see this movie. Read the rest of this entry

Director Spotlight: Saving Private Ryan

Saving Private Ryan is a 1998 World War II drama that follows Captain John Miller (Tom Hanks) and his men through the D-Day landings on Omaha Beach. After surviving D-Day, as depicted in one of the most visceral opening 25 minutes ever filmed, Miller and his squad are ordered to risk their lives and find Private James Ryan (Matt Damon). Ryan’s three brothers have all been killed in action within days of each other. The last one dying on Omaha Beach.  Miller is sent to find Ryan somewhere in Nazi occupied France and bring him back home alive. Read the rest of this entry

On the Horizon: Films from CIFF (Part Two)

Weekend 2

Nymph3/5
Long, unbroken shots with minimal dialog that brings the idea of film as an art to the forefront. The story is compiled exclusively by reading between the lines, interpreting hearsay, and jumping to conclusions. An interesting twist on the theme of man vs. nature where men appropriately bristle at the sound of the wind flailing against the leaves. Read the rest of this entry

Director’s Spotlight: Amistad

This month we are skipping along through the long and vivid career of Steven Spielberg. This time we come along to 1997’s historical courtroom epic Amistad, starring Anthony Hopkins, Matthew McConaughey, Morgan Freeman and Djimon Hounsou. By this time, Steven had become one of the most popular directors in Hollywood, thanks to the success of Jaws, Raiders of the Lost Ark, E.T., Jurassic Park, and his last big film Schindler’s List, winning the Best Picture Oscar four years prior. He had taken some time off to be with his family and start his studio DreamWorks, and was finally ready to get back into the game. However, he wasn’t sure he was the man for the job, being Jewish instead of African-American and having felt awkward on this issue while directing The Color Purple. To fix this, Spielberg helmed The Lost World: Jurassic Park first to ease his comfort, then Amistad was released later in the year. Read the rest of this entry

Trick ‘r Treat Blu-ray (Just For The Hell of It)

I love the kind of movie that surprises or shocks me. I am one of the most jaded people on the planet and it takes a lot to shock me. Trick ‘r Treat is the kind of movie that I love. It’s a fun little horror movie that isn’t about teenagers or vampires. It’s about Halloween and scaring the crap out of people. And, it’s a great movie from two of the people behind the first two X-Men movies. Produced by Bryan Singer and directed by X-Men co-writer Michael Dougherty in his directorial debut. Read the rest of this entry

On the Horizon: Films from CIFF (Part One)

For those keen to the indie movie scene, here’s a quick rundown of the deluge of films I saw over two weekends at the 45th Chicago International Film Festival. Not as many gems as last year which included The Wrester, Let the Right One In, and Timecrimes, but, looking back, I’m not sure that level could ever be reached again. Read the rest of this entry

Cirque du Freak: The Vampire’s Assistant

A friend mentioned that in her opinion Hollywood is destoying Vampires.  I will second that motion, while adding that it’s the entire fiction genre that has destroyed the Iconic Vampire over the last few years.  Ever since Francis Ford Coppola version of Bram Stoker’s Dracula, we have seen the Vampire swift from a being of true terror to a being misunderstood by the world because of superstition.  We have seen this being, once human, struggle internally to seek that balance between supernatural being and morality.  It’s plight is an extreme version of, wait for it…Redemption. Read the rest of this entry

Big Fan

Before you read this article, I want you to know that Big Fan is in no way a comedy. Forget the fact that the movie stars my favorite comedian for the last 5 years or so, Patton Oswalt, or that it was written/directed by Robert Siegel, the former editor-in-chief of The Onion. It is a dramatic character study, through and through. So instead, try to keep in mind that Oswalt has done serious work recently in Dollhouse and United States of Tara, and Siegel wrote The Wrestler last year, another film in the same vein of a sports movie without sappy messages. Also featuring Kevin Corrigan and Michael Rapaport, Big Fan paints a sometimes uncomfortable, sometimes frustrating, but always sincere portrait of a man so dominated by his love of football that even a personal trauma exacted by his hero may not be enough to set him free. But while it may not lift your heart, it will absolutely win you over with its inspired acting and passionate direction; believe me, this one is GOOD! Read the rest of this entry

Where the Wild Things Are

What a magical movie this is. Hardly a surprise, considering the pedigree of the people involved (the director of Being John Malkovich and Adaptation.), but it’s a rare things when a literary masterpiece the likes of this is adapted in such a way that nothing is dumbed down or cut through corners. Going above and beyond its source material, Spike Jonze’s Where the Wild Things Are is as fantastically entertaining as it is moody and emotionally draining, the results of the director’s unrelenting vision of a boy dealing with his inner demons in the company of some bigger ones. Read the rest of this entry

Where The Wild Things Are (Devil’s Advocate Review))

Oh how I pity me this week.  I have to be the Devil’s Advocate on a film that I absolutely adored, with every fiber of my being.  For those just tuning in, this means that even though I loved the movie, I have to speak to its flaws and imperfections (of which the film had very little).  That said, I can, however, state what I really thought up front.  I created the concept for this site, so I’ll manipulate it anyway I see fit.  Read the rest of this entry

Inferno Cage Match: Yoda vs. Mr. Miyagi

Inferno Cage Match 7

Standing at a foot and some change, with an indeterminate weight (the guy keeps levitating during weigh in).  The oldest living jedi, master to a whiny little farmboy, hick.  He’s battled Count Dooku, turncoat troopers, and arthritis.  Give a big round of applause to…YODA!!!!

 

In this corner, trained by the greatest martial artists in Okinawa, he has received his belt from- JC Penney.  Also the master of a whiny little ingrate, who only shows his appreciation once it’s too late.  He’ll show you mercy, but watch out for your beer bottle.  He’s the one, the only…MR. MIYAGI!!!!   

Paranormal Activity

SHUT THAT DOOR!!!  Everyone knows ghosts cant open doors!!!

SHUT THAT DOOR!!! Everyone knows ghosts can't open doors!!!

SO there’s a film on TV presenting itself as the scariest horror movie out there.  Meh. I saw it.  Due to its limited release I went kind of far to see it, but I went. So?????  Was it scary??  Yeah I jumped a few times.  Scariest??? Not by a long shot. The movie follows really believable couple Katie and Micah. Katie seems to have a pesky ghost problem that follows her around. Micah determined to figure it out sets up a camera to try and catch a glimpse of whatever it is.  It wasn’t like any of those ridiculous shows Ghost Hunters, Paranormal State etc.  Not a bunch of idiots standing there going “what was that?” or “did you see that?  The camera missed it but I saw a light over there.  Stupid shows. Read the rest of this entry

Director Spotlight: 1941

Considering I was only a year old when Steven Spielberg released 1941, I’m not aware what everyone’s expectations were for the film at the time. My guess and the obvious guess were that they were high. Especially coming after doing 1975’s Jaws and 1977’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind. So for curiosity purposes I did some research to look for comments and/or opinions of critics when the film was released…many were negative. While I agree that this not one of Spielberg’s best work, I still love this goofball laugh out loud comedy. Read the rest of this entry

Couples Retreat (Lonely Devil)

Seeing the previews for Couples Retreat and seeing the big name actors like Vince Vaughn, Jon Favreau, and Jason Bateman, it looked like comedy gold from first glance.  In Olympic terms, I give it a bronze medal, close to silver however.  While flaws were evident, the film did amuse. Read the rest of this entry

Whip It

It’s tough to be original in Hollywood these days. Sure, you can occasionally find a unique idea or two, but if it’s too new, producers won’t want to back it. Instead, they’d prefer tried and true ideas that have proven themselves capable of making money. Whip It, the directorial debut of Drew Barrymore and starring Ellen Page, does not cover any new ground in the area of coming-of-age tales, except maybe the concept of roller derby as a means of belonging. Instead, it embraces the classics and reminds its audience of the ability to imbue oneself with initiative and pride and to fulfill anything one desires. Read the rest of this entry

Director Spotlight: The Sugarland Express

Steven Spielberg’s first film, which is based on a true story, features a couple on the run from the law, seeking to get their child back through any means necessary.  Only problem…one’s an escaped convict and the other aided in the escape.  Once you commit these acts you don’t have much bargaining power. Read the rest of this entry

October’s Director Spotlight: Steven Spielberg

There was some debate as to whether we should feature Spielberg or his non-union, Mexican counterpart Señor Spielbergo.  In the end it turns out Steven Spielberg has made more films, which makes our job easier.  The films that will be featured this month are:

Oct. 7th: Sugarland Express

Oct. 14th: 1941

Oct. 21st: Amistad

Oct. 28th: Saving Private Ryan

So many great movies to choose from and so little time.  We’ll certainly have to do a second spotlight just to get to the others (Raiders of the Lost Ark is on my list).  So follow along and feel free to comment on the films as the reviews go up. 

Capitalism: A Love Story

Time for another Michael Moore documentary. Time for more public domain filmstrips, more depressing stories of the working class, and more beating of the dead horse known as Flint, Michigan. In the past this formula has worked, and worked well enough to garner Moore fame at the forefront of documentarians (at least of the commercial documentarians). However, with Capitalism: A Love Story, even hitting all of his major arcs, the foolproof equation doesn’t add up. Read the rest of this entry

The Invention of Lying

Who doesn’t like a little self-deprecating humor now and then?  I did say “a little” right?  The Invention of Lying was written by the film’s star, Ricky Gervais, and there is a wide expanse of little pot shots at his weight, height, and other various features strewn all throughout the film.  The interesting part is that these remarks are born out of the notion that nobody can tell a lie.  My question is:  sure people can’t lie, but are they allowed to use a modicum of candor when speaking to or about people?  Read the rest of this entry

Zombieland (Devil’s Advocate Review)

Set in an alternate universe, in the United States, it seems the world has been over-run by a virus that turns people into mindless zombies. Via receiving a bite from an infected, the bitten victim then succumbs and in turn, becomes a zombie themselves, causing a ripple effect where as the ratio of infected to non-infected, staggers heavily toward infected. Simple zombie ethics imply that they hunger for flesh, can only be stopped by fatal blows to the head and brain. Other than being short of intelligent, the zombies are attracted to sounds, lights & disturbances. Read the rest of this entry

Zombieland

I know where I want to go when the apocalypse hits. I want to go to Zombieland.

Zombieland is different from most movies in the genre. It has a great sense of humor to it and is one of the best comedies and movies of the year.  It is a fun romp through a hell on Earth from start to finish.  Zombieland is the latest movie in the recent zombie revival to hit the big screen. Read the rest of this entry

Scream 4 or More? I’m a Little Screamed Out, But Thanks (A Mad As Hell Op-Ed Piece)

So the word is in. Scream 4 is officially in production, with Neve Campbell, Courtney Cox and David Arquette all officially signed on. Wes Craven is also in talks to direct; the whole gang is back on board! The whole gang minus, of course, my favorite actors in the series: Matthew Lillard, Jamie Kennedy and Liev Schreiber. They died in that order, and they were great characters who each added some subtle humor and charm to actors like Skeet Ulrich and Emily Mortimer who would belong more in a serious horror film. Don’t get me wrong, I think both of them are terrific actors (and I can’t say the same for some of the characters who have survived), but it stops being a spoof when you take yourself seriously. Read the rest of this entry