Archive for October, 2009

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#36: Let the Right One In

October 29, 2009

lettherightoneinI’d heard great things about this movie, but with the onslaught of vampires in the past couple of years, I was hesitant to watch.  But who can say no when it’s available to stream on Netflix?

So what’s it about?: A 12 year old boy doubles as a punching bag at school when he meets his new neighbor: a little girl with a taste for blood.  And then some chaos ensues.

The Good: In a world of sparkling vegetarian vamps it’s nice to see a very realistic depiction of vampires (if there can be such a thing).  No special mystical powers, no underground society, and though we presume they are there, these vamps don’t even show fangs!  But one of the highlights of this film is that even without the added gimmick of a vampire character, there is still a haunting tale of child bullying and friendships underneath it all.

The Bad: For a film labelled under the “Horror” genre, this film is not scary at all.  But even as a drama, this film suffers from the same problem as most teenage dramas on television: the adults are boring and take away from the root of the story.  Some adult characters like the parents are somewhat necessary, but anybody not related to a main character seemed to take away from the story.  And apparently the DVD subtitles aren’t as good as the Theatrical subtitles.  Sadly I never saw this in theaters, but I could definitely see how some of the lines seemed a little dumbed down.  I would def like to see the original translation.

The Verdict: A great movie for Halloween if you want to be able to sleep at night.  And if vampire movies could go more in this direction in the future, that would be greatly appreciated.

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#35: Black Dynamite

October 28, 2009

blackdynamiteOkay, this is a bit unorthodox, because while I was seeing this movies, there were several wind-caused power outages in LA and after several interruptions, I ended up not even seeing the last 15 minutes of this film.  However, I was in the last showing of this movie ever at my local theater, so I guess I’ll have to wait till the DVD to see the rest!  Nevertheless, here’s the review:

So what’s it about?: Black Dynamite has found out that his brother has been killed and the orphanages have been filled with heroin and he is pissed!  Pimps and gangsters watch out, chaos be ensuin’.

The Good: Filmmakers apparently really like to spoof blaxploitation films, from Jackie Brown to Undercover Brother. But none of them is as awesome and outrageous as Black Dynamite.  This film is hilarious and completely bad ass at the same time.  Think Snakes on a Plane only 1) 100% intentional and 2) 100% better.  I haven’t laughed this hard in at a movie in a long time.  Scary/Disaster/Dance/Date/Epic Movie crew take note: This is how you make a spoof movie!

The Bad: The only bad was that I didn’t get to see it all!  But really, what bad can you say about a film that finds humor in its faults?

The Verdict: If you are lucky enough to live in a city showing this film, go and see it!  And college campuses be aware: this is a cult classic in the making.

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#34: The Dark Crystal

October 28, 2009

thedarkcrystalThe 80s came out with some awesome family films, from The Labyrinth to The Neverending Story to The Goonies.  And since I’m a huge fan of those, I figured I might as well see the one that got away: The Dark Crystal.

So what’s it about?: In a land of a bunch of weird species with obscure names, a boy-like creature must return a crystal shard to the Dark Crystal to fulfill a prophecy and bring peace.  As he journeys through puppet land, chaos ensues.

The Good: As you may have been able to tell from my review of Where the Wild Things Are I’m a huge fan of puppetry.  Frankly, it’s really cool and in my opinion better than CGI (unless, of course, combined with CGI, which equals awesome).  And this film is made ENTIRELY of puppets.  Like 100% puppets.  Very, very cool.

The Bad: The plot is a jumbled mess.  I could only understand about half what was going on and the other half was just plain annoying.  I mean seriously, you only need to say a line once to get the point across.  And it played incredibly slow.  I can’t even imagine this being entertaining to the children it was intended for.  It just lacked the charm and intelligence found in the movies arriving later in the decade.

The Verdict: Unless you grew up with this film, don’t bother watching it now.

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#33: An Education

October 26, 2009

aneducationWell, after getting my new job (at a movie theater, of course!) I had to start using my perks of seeing movies, and this was getting good reviews.

So what’s it about?: A school girl with dreams of Oxford, a passion for Paris, and a curse of overbearing parents starts a relationship with a much older man.  As their romance lengthens, chaos ensues.

The Good: Carey Mulligan is AMAZING.  And of course she is.  After all, she was the center of THE GREATEST DOCTOR WHO EPISODE OF ALL TIME.  You know, THAT ONE.  But she’s also backed here by a great script and an equally amazing supporting cast.  And this film has some really profound moments.  And as an added bonus, this movie has an awesome soundtrack.

The Bad: Profound moments do not a profound film make.  The film was good, yes, but it was lacking something that’s really hard to pinpoint.  It just wasn’t great.  Perhaps in the end it was just a little too preachy.  But in the end this is going to be one of those films that’s forgotten in five years, only briefly referred to as “That Film That Launched Carey Mulligan’s Career.”

The Verdict: Go see it, for Carey Mulligan alone.  Or save yourself the money and just watch “Blink” (it’s available to stream on Netflix under Doctor Who, Season 3).

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#32: Risky Business

October 26, 2009

riskybusinessSo the day after I saw Paranormal Activity I had a job interview.  Only problem, I was so scared I couldn’t sleep!  So, in an attempt to stop analyzing every groan of my house I figured I’d watch something a little more upbeat to distract myself.  And I guess it worked, because I got the job (thus the not posting for a while!)

So what’s it about?: High school boy has the house to himself while his parents are away, so he uses his time joy riding in the family car, scheming with friends, and of course, hiring a prostitute!  Naturally, chaos ensues.

The Good: One of my favorite comedies of all time is The Girl Next Door, which is pretty much this movie, so naturally I liked it.  It’s a lot darker though, which is good on some level (more on that later).  The soundtrack is surprisingly simple yet very effective to the darker tone and I loved it.  And the supporting cast of characters was superb.

The Bad: Well, okay, I have to say it, but I think Tom Cruise is one of the most overrated actors out there.  He’s been in a lot of really amazing films, but in none of them did he actually help the picture, except, ironically, Tropic Thunder. But, back to this film, I have to say that my only real problem with Risky Business was that it was too much drama and not enough comedy.  It was just soooo serious and I just wasn’t buying it.

The Verdict: It’s definitely a film worth watching, but in the end I realized that The Girl Next Door took all the amazingness of Risky Business, added in a dose of lighthearted fun, and improved the cast by a bajillion and therefore comes out as the better film.  But, hey, it’s always good to view the source material!

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#31: Paranormal Activity

October 20, 2009

paranormalactivitySeeing as how I was one of the 1,000,000 who demanded to see this film online, I figured I should probably go see it.  And for extra measure, I did what the catch phrase told me not too and I saw it alone.  Oh snap!

So what’s it about?: A woman is convinced something is haunting her, so her boyfriend sets up a camera in their bedroom to film while they sleep.  Paranormal chaos ensues.

The Good: HOLY CRAP THIS FILM IS AMAZING!  It’s very, very realistic and until the credits I was convinced this was for real.  I may just be highly gullible but the way this was filmed was incredible.  And Micah and Katie are the most credible actors in horror since, well Heather, Josh and Mike went on a little camping trip ten years ago.

The Bad: Yeah, okay, I got a little nauseated halfway through the film, but it was totally worth it.  And some will say they didn’t like the ending, and apparently there are a crap ton of different endings filmed, but personally I think this one works just fine.  Sure creeped the hell out of me!

The Verdict: This movie is essentially what would happen if The Blair Witch Project crew decided to remake The Exorcist.  And frankly it’s better than both of those, so stop reading this and go see it!

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#30: Where the Wild Things Are

October 19, 2009

wherethewildthingsareI’ve been looking forward to seeing this film since forever, so Saturday afternoon I head over to the fabulous Universal CityWalk and saw this baby in the IMAX.

So what’s it about?: Max is out of control but has a great imagination.  He finds himself in a world of Wild Things where he is king and where chaos ensues.

The Good: This film looks really cool.  The combination of good old-fashioned puppetry and CGI results in a very real looking Wild Thing.  And some of the sets are just jaw droppingly gorgeous!  And the adaptation is actually pretty good considering the writers had hardly any material to work with.  The acting is spot on, the situations are all highly realistic.  When they aren’t in the land of the Wild Things they might as well be shooting a documentary that’s how real it is.  And this is just a good film beginning to end.  And the soundtrack is so fun, so props to Karen O.

The Bad: Okay, not quite beginning to end.  About halfway through the film when the awesomeness of the Wild Things began to wear off, the movie began to drift around and lose the path.  And it became a little dull.  Thankfully it picked up in the end, but I couldn’t help but thinking that if this had been a short film it could have been PERFECT.

The Verdict: Yeah, despite a PG rating, this is not a kids film (but, hey, neither is Good Night, and Good Luck and that has a PG rating as well).  It’s long, it’s dark, it’s painfully realistic at times, and the comedy is, well, lacking.  But it’s a good film nonetheless.  Just be warned, if never quite crosses the line into being a great film.