Monthly Archives: October 2010

Director Spotlight: Big Trouble in Little China (Bonus Review)

John Carpenter’s Big Trouble in Little China (1985) is the 4th film that he used Kurt Russell as a lead and the last in the 3 films that two made together in the 1980’s as director and lead.  The film also stars Kim Cattral, Denis Dun, James Hong, and Victor Wong.  This is Carpenter’s take on the martial arts genre. Read the rest of this entry

Director Spotlight: Escape From New York (Bonus Review)

John Carpenter’s Escape from New York (1981), starring Kurt Russell, Lee Van Cleef, Donald Pleasence, Isaac Hayes, Ernest Borgnine and Harry Dean Stanton, is a film that takes place in the future, 1997(well… the future if you were around in 1981), where Manhattan island is the maximum security prison for the United States.  The movie starts with a narration that explains the world we are dealing with.  Below is an excerpt from the beginning of the film:

Narrator: A fifty-foot containment wall is erected along the New Jersey shoreline across the Harlem river, and down along the Brooklyn shoreline.  It completely surrounds Manhattan Island . All bridges and waterways are mined. The United States Police Force, like an army, is encamped around the island. There are no guards inside the prison, only prisoners and the worlds they have made. The rules are simple.  Once you go in, you don’t come out. Read the rest of this entry

Paranormal Activity 2

For all its faults, I’m a pretty big fan of the first Paranormal Activity movie. It accomplished much with very little – having little to begin with a) forces the filmmakers to be creative while it b) forces the audience to “fill in the gaps” with their own thoughts and imagination, thereby making the terror that much more horrific – nothing that any filmmaker or effects house on Earth can throw on the screen will ever be as frightening as the things you can see in your head. In Paranormal Activity 2, Director Tod ‘Kip’ Williams (former indie-darling director of festival hits The Adventures of Sebastian Cole and The Door in the Floor) and a team of writers are smart enough keep the premise same enough to be recognizable (Blair Witch 2, anyone?) while, knowing they had a guaranteed audience and hit on their hands, aiming for more ambitious targets. Unfortunately, it’s a bit of a miss, and the end result, while not a bad film, is certainly not as good as the original. Read the rest of this entry

Director Spotlight: Vampires

The best thing about October for a DA, is reviewing Halloween-type movies. October is my favorite month because I can watch all the halloween movies I love. And for those who don’t know me, I love vampires. I’ve seen hundreds of vampire movies, even the bad ones. To many vampire enthusiasts, vampires represent eternal life, and in some movies, an often lonely eternal life. More recently, we have seen Vampires become more sexual with franchises such as Twilight and True Blood. So, for the final week of October, I thought John Carpenter’s Vampires would be appropriate.  Vampires shows the more savage life of vampires and vampire hunters. In Vampires, we notice that vampires have black blood, which is different than other vampire movies.  Read the rest of this entry

Life as We Know It

First off, to those in the DA cyber world who do not know me (which is almost everyone) I am a mom. My daughter is 1 week shy of her first birthday, and I have to say, raising a child is no easy task. Nor is it easy anymore to find time between a full time job, and being a full-time mom to see the movies that I request for this site. But I am not complaining. I love my daughter, she is my world. The occasional movie that I have to see to review for here is a well deserved and much welcomed 2-3 hour break from the craziness outside. When I saw the previews for Life As We Know It I was curious. Not because it was another “oh no, look, I’m a mom now” movie from Katherine Heigl, but it seemed to be a chick flick I’d actually enjoy. Read the rest of this entry

Episode 43: Horror 3-2-1

This week we count down our 3 favorite creature features, 2 top slasher films, and 1 “scared the pants off me”.  Rene Alvarado shames me as I make a feeble attempt to match his horror film prowess. 

It’s a scary, fun episode.  Give us a listen, if not for yourself, then do it for the children.  

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Devil’s DVD Disappointment: Sex and the City 2

This weekend I took one for the team and went to see Sex And The City 2. I survived. Barely. I do have an overwhelming urge to buy a lot of expensive shoes. Weird. Anyway, SATC2 is the latest Halloween movie from Rob…..Wait, that make-up wasn’t for a horror movie? Wow. Read the rest of this entry

Director Spotlight: In The Mouth of Madness

“God’s not supposed to be a hack horror writer!”

When I think of horror films, I usually think of something of slasher killers or at least a figure you can focus on as the big bad of the feature. 1995’s In the Mouth of Madness succeeds without being that typical type of horror film. Directed by John Carpenter, Carpenter himself describes this film as a different horror picture because it doesn’t follow the usual horror plot.  As my colleague Rene, Mr. Horror, pointed out to me, this is one of  Carpenter’s more underrated films.

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After seeing trailers for Red, one assumes you are in stored for a mindless action comedy that looks like just plain fun. You are 100% right. Going into see this film I was expecting it to be a senior version of The A-Team or The Expendables. Okay, technically half of The Expendables was of members of the AARP too. Coming out of the film I got more than both those movies. A-Team tried to incorporate laughs while The Expendables did the same with testosterone, Red excelled with blending the two and just give you a fun time at the theaters.

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Devil’s DVD Advocacy: Predators

“This planet is a game preserve. And, we’re the game.”

Predators is the latest sequel in the Predator movie series and is something of a reboot for the franchise. It still has the same Predators and basic premise of the first two movies. An alien creature is hunting a group of people one by one. This time we have Adrien Brody in the badass lead role (Arnold Schwarzenegger in Predator and Danny Glover in Predator 2). We also have new people behind the scenes of this Predator movie. The movie is produced by Robert Rodriguez (El Mariachi and Planet Terror) and directed by Nimrod Antal (Vacancy and Armored). Their style of low-budget, gritty storytelling makes this the best action movie of the year and my favorite of the Predator movies. Read the rest of this entry

Episode 41: Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps

Toor channels his inner day trader and leads Mike through the world of stocks, bonds, and investment fraud. Listen as they discuss Michael Douglas the veteran, Carey Mulligan the set prop, and Shia the beef.

Give us a listen and hear our predictions of stocks most likely to tank in 2011.

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It’s Kind of a Funny Story

SPOILER ALERT: It’s Kind of a Funny Story is NOT a funny story. It’s actually a nice feel good coming of age drama with a few laughs thrown in. It’s kind of a few things thrown in and mixed well. Take part comedy, add a bit more drama, mix in a serious tone and you get modern-day One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. Well….not completely. Comparisons are there but with different stipulations and tone.

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The Last Exorcism

The Last Exorcism is the latest pseudo-documentary to hit the theaters. This time it’s a horror movie disguised as found footage of a lost documentary on a famous exorcist. That exorcist is the Reverend Cotton Marcus. A famous and charismatic evangelical Southern preacher, Marcus has become disillusioned. He wants to help people. He likes helping people. But, he knows that exorcisms are fake. At least the ones he’s witnessed and done. He should know. He’s been performing them since he was a child. Now he’s having a conflict of faith.

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Director Spotlight: John Carpenter’s The Thing

”I don’t know what the hell’s in there. It’s weird and pissed off, whatever it is.”

John Carpenter’s The Thing is a classic horror movie from 1982 and one of my all time favorite horror movies. It’s definitely on my top ten best movies of all time list and I am pretty sure it’s on quite a lot of people’s “best of” lists. It’s one of the movies that helped a generation of movie fans discover horror films and John Carpenter. The movie was ahead of it’s time in terms of special effects and storytelling. It’s Carpenter doing what he does best, horror. This time, it’s horror with a bit of science fiction in the mix. I think it’s his best movie. It’s better than Halloween and Escape From New York.

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Devil’s DVD Advocacy: How To Train Your Dragon

Extra, Extra Read All About It…Gerard Butler Makes A Good Career Decision!

Since 300, the stoic actor, who voices a character named Stoick, hasn’t made many good career decision (though I quite enjoyed RocknRolla) since his breakout role as King Leonidas.  The key to his success here was:  a) being heard and not seen and b) playing the supporting role in the film.  Oh, and being the animated equivalent of Leonidas.  Read the rest of this entry

Director Spotlight: Halloween

“It’s Halloween. Everyone’s entitled to one good scare.”

It might seem obvious and strange to start our October Spotlight of John Carpenter with his seminal, horror film Halloween.  Obvious because its Cartpenter’s most notorious and successful project to date and strange since Halloween is weeks away.  And truly it may never make sense, but when scheduling what will be reviewed and when, it made sense to me at the time. Read the rest of this entry

Let Me In

 I understand the Twilight fans. I understand the True Blood fans. I do. I really do.  We all want to live forever.  Or, at least, we think we do.  But, I think most of us have never really sat down and thought about what it would mean to live forever. Hollywood has recently started to explore different ideas behind what it could be like to live forever. T o be undead and immortal.  A vampire.

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Paul Conroy (Ryan Reynolds) just woke up in a box.

He has only the vaguest recollection of how he got there (he’s a civilian contracted truck driver in Iraq whose convoy was attacked), but knows that he’s buried, can hardly move, is running out of air, and the voice on the other end of his Blackberry just gave him 2 hours to raise five million dollars.

Welcome to the best “inaction movie” of 2010. Read the rest of this entry

Director Spotlight: John Carpenter

It’s October which means the leaves change colors, kids beg for candy, and we celebrate Christopher Columbus successfully enslaving the indigenous people of this country.

If you think that’s scary, check out our John Carpenter spotlight for his classics: Halloween, The Thing, Into The Mouth of Madness, and Vampires.

Follow along and leave us feedback with your thoughts on the films as we give our thoughts weekly.  That is unless you’re too scared.

Actor Spotlight: Julie and Julia

In this delightful film based on the book, Julie and Julia, we follow the lives of two women: French-American culinary icon Julia Child (beautifully played by Meryl Streep), and Julia (played by Amy Adams), who is a young, married woman at a dead-end government job. The film goes back and forth between the two parallel lives of these two women who live during different times. We see how both Julie and Julia’s lives run parallel to each other with how they are bored and wanted to try something new after moving. Julia Child takes up a few hobbies while her husband works for the US government in Paris. She ends up taking a hobby cooking class, and wants to learn more than basics, and ends up graduating from Le Cordon Bleu cooking school, and writes the first French cookbook in English. Julie Powell takes on the extraordinary task of cooking through Julia Child’s entire cookbook and documenting her results on her blog. Julie’s cooking challenge begins with an idea to make a chocolate cream pie. Julie’s marriage gets strained when the recipes get harder. Read the rest of this entry

Episode 40: Easy A

This week Mike bears the scarlet letters “D” and “A” as he tries to get Toor to defend this homage to the eighties and film legend John Hughes.  They discuss hands off parenting, Emma Stone’s rising star, and what it means to stand on the backs of giants.

Give us a listen and we’ll dispel the rumors that you dated the entire rugby team.

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Devil’s DVD Advocacy: Splice

“What’s the worst that could happen?” is a reoccurring question in Splice, and can almost be answered with “something extremely disturbing and/or gross.” This is not horror as we’ve come to define the genre in the age of slashers and torture-porn, but horror in the truest sense of the word: a story designed, not to scare, but to horrify. There are very few–perhaps 2, all told–jump scares in the whole movie, but the entire story is building a sense of disgust and unease throughout.

Splice is the fourth feature-length film from director Vincenzo Natali, who is perhaps best known for his 1997 psychological sci-fi thriller Cube. He does a great job of creating what seems like a very in-depth world with what turns out to be a very small cast and only 4 locations. Adrien Brody, Adrien Brody’s Nose, and Sarah Polley star as geneticists Clive Nicoli and Elsa Kast, who specializing in splicing bits of DNA from different organisms together in order to createnew organisms, specifically to harvest chemicals and proteins for pharmaceutical use.  Read the rest of this entry

Devil’s DVD Disappointment: A Nightmare on Elm Street

I know this is unprofessional to admit, but I fell asleep in the theater during the remake of A Nightmare on Elm Street. Maybe it was a popcorn induced coma, who knows, but I fell asleep.  While asleep I dreamt that the new film, featuring Freddy the intrusive dream killer, was pretty dull.  In my dream Freddy was tormenting teens and killing them off one by one, but there were no real surprises, scares, or excitement.  Read the rest of this entry

Devil’s DVD Disappointment: Karate Kid (2010)

Before I get into the review of The Kung Fu Karate Kid, let me premise this by saying that I am not someone who automatically hates movies because they’re remakes. I look at movie remakes as being the same thing as a different theatre company performing a play: just another interpretation. Some are successful, some aren’t; some surpass the original, some don’t; but they are all opportunities for a new audience to discover a story. Also, I am not really a fan of the original Karate Kid. Once I get done ducking from the stones being hurled my way, I’ll continue. Read the rest of this entry

Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps

It was 1987 when Michael Douglas portrayed a character so profound, that despite Director Oliver Stone’s intentions, the character became an icon.  That character was Gordon Gekko and he became the symbol for what was wrong in the late 80’s with Wall Street.  It has been 23 years since Douglas uttered those famous words “Greed is Good” and as he reemerge’s from the shadows of obscurity, he brings with him a sense that what is wrong with Wall Street is not just Wall Street but us.  Oliver Stone in this sequel once again tackles the question of  how money can erode a man’s ethics.

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DVD Review: Harry Brown

In 1974 Charles Bronson gave us vigilante justice in Death Wish. 35 plus years past and now Michael Caine delivers the same in Harry Brown.  Difference here is that it is across the pond in London.  Set in The Elephant and Castle where Caine spent some of his youthful years.  A nostalgia project sort of speak.  Daniel Barber directing his second film depicts modern times in some of London’s areas where youth run wild.

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