Tag Archives: dad

The Watch: Richard Ayoade Needs to be Talked Up

As much as I’m sure some people wanted to see this movie for Vince Vaughn, Ben Stiller, and Jonah Hill, there is one man I wanted to see this movie for in particular. And that man was Richard Ayoade. From over the pond, Richard was brought to us as a gift, and should be treated as one. It’s not that often that a truly talented and gifted British

The true star of the film.

comedian graces us with his presence in an American typical absurdist comedy. It’s not to say that the rest of it wasn’t great, but one person stood out. IT Crowd’s lovable Moss. Let’s get it on.

What makes this movie great for me? The fact that it takes place in a fictitious town in my home state of Ohio. In a typical suburban neighborhood like the one I grew up in, Glenview, Ohio gives a true sense of how mundane and fake people can be in a well off town like this one. Where does a character like Evan Trautwig (Ben Stiller) find excitement from? Creating neighborhood groups and organizations and running. Just as well he would create the local Neighborhood Watch.

Classic slo-mo roll seen with every group of slick bricks.

After a horrendous Predator skinning of his recently hired Latino night guard, Trautwig takes it upon himself to keep the streets safe and find his employee’s murderer. Inspiring justice-like feelings in three men, Trautwig creates a badass group of rollers with great hangout basements. You got Bob Finnerty (Vince Vaughn). He’s the lovable dad and sports fan who wants nothing more than utilize the man cave he created years ago but his wife won’t let him even touch. Franklin (Jonah Hill) is the off the walls juvenile who will do and say anything, at any moment. This movie is where it all started with me. I decided to give Jonah Hill a second chance with all his movies from the past. I love him now.

And last and never least is Richard Ayoade. Everything he’s done for the British comedy circuit on television and otherwise is golden. His

Lookin’ fly with that egg in yo eye, Stiller.

geeky attitude and intelligently witty characters may go unappreciated by the masses, but he hits true to home with me. The I.T. Crowd, his work with The Mighty Boosh, this, and anything else he’s ever made an appearance in. He leaves a memorable place in my heart.

It’s about to get heavy up in this biatch.

The movie got its criticisms for vulgarity and poor plot, but I feel the movie delivered when it had to. The plot wasn’t too complicated so it could focus on the humor, and I got that from the start. Take one part Aliens, and one part small American town dynamic, and you have The Watch. Vince Vaughn almost stole the show (in combination with Jonah Hill) and the vulgarity added to all the angst that someone like me feels in a town where there’s nothing to do and everyone is just too nice. You gotta have the right experiences or this movie doesn’t hold the same amount of weight. Keep that in mind, critics.

Billy Crudup makes the greatest appearance as one of the creepiest neighbors I can think of, and Will Forte is classic

You guys are #1 in my book.

dumbass failure as the cop who didn’t hire Jonah Hill’s character. The movie moves along at the perfect pace but sadly doesn’t give enough funny lines to Richard. Seth Rogen better get off the bong and beer and learn to revise that shizz. But I do hope this movie gives Richard Ayoade other opportunities to shine in American cinema, but he’s just fine where he is in the U.K. So I tip my hat to this film for trying and succeeding to tickle my funny bone. And look forward to a lot of reviews on Jonah Hill films. That dude is gold.

7.8 out of 10.

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The Good Son: Home Alone Meets Frodo Baggins

If I had to consider this movie anything, I would consider it the precursor (or inspiration) for Orphan. It has that same feel of mentally disturbed children and always that one person who’s never believed by anyone. You bring together two ridiculously good child star actors and you have to expect some sparks to fly on camera. At times

Evil has a face. Kevin McCallister.

you even feel like they’re competing for who’s a better child actor. But at some point, this movie falls flat.

So we begin with Mark (Elijah Wood). His mother has died and he’s taking it pretty hard. His dad (David Morse) has one last business venture to undertake, and then he and Mark will be set for the rest of their lives. In two weeks they can be together again. But not before Mark stays with his dad’s brother. Susan (Wendy Crewson) and Wallace (Daniel Hugh Kelly) are nice parents and all with two wonderful children. Henry (Macaulay Culkin) and Connie (Quinn Kay Culkin) are nice little children. But Henry seems to have a mature and sadistic mean streak in him. And he only shows it to Mark. So it’s up to Mark to prove to Henry’s parents that they are in danger. But Henry’s parents won’t believe him.

Hey Mark, don’t f@$%k with me.” Best. Line. Ever.

This movie has all the same plot points as Orphan. Treehouse, snowy winter home, a baby lost, and add to all that a sadistic child. I wouldn’t be surprised if there were copyright infringement on this at all. But what Oprhan did better than The Good Son is it didn’t have such a ridiculously unbelievable and evil ending. When you see it, you’ll know. That just ruined the entire movie for me. And Roger Ebert can settle down. “No kids should ever see this movie”. Yeah, you’re right, that’s why it’s rated R, stupid.

So set aside the bad ending and the uncomfortable scenes of evilness.

If we hide here Sam, Macaulay Culkin can’t find us.

What are you left with? A pretty decent cast, and two child stars that go on to do some great things (I’m hinting at LOTR and Party Monster). Three of the Culkins are featured in this movie, and that ain’t half bad either. There’s really not much else to say, you might just have to check it out for yourself. As far as 90’s movies go, this one is pretty down there. It may be a laugh at times, even. But don’t be expecting anything grand from The Good Son. 5.6 out of 10.


Cemetery Junction: Some New British Faces

A Ricky Gervais/Stephen Merchant collaboration featuring Matthew Goode and Ralph Fiennes? And it’s not exactly a comedy? Count me in? I was sold after you said Ricky Gervais. And he even makes a cameo or two. Cemetery Junction is one of those stock idea genres that deals with a young man’s coming-of-age story. But what interested me is that I had no idea who any of the men who were coming of age. With a bunch of fresh new faces, I was slightly touched and given a few laughs with another creation from Gervais and Merchant.

In Cemetery Junction, we meet Freddie Taylor (Christian Cooke), a young man looking

Some new British faces.

to make something of himself in a part of England that doesn’t seem to let anyone escape or actually succeed. His friends Bruce (Tom Hughes) and Snork (Jack Doolan) are stuck in the same boat, but they seem to be okay with their situation. Dead end jobs and nothing of interest, Cemetery Junction is a town full of ghosts. But when Freddie is inspired by his former girlfriend Julie (Felicity Jones) to be something more, he shoots a bit higher, not trying to be sucked back into his small town.

Classic Gervais.

So I mentioned I didn’t know any of the young men actors in this film. After looking them up on IMDB, I thought I knew them, but I don’t. Christian Cooke was a standout leading actor, holding down the fort for the rest of the younger actors in the film. I thought of him as a younger version of Matthew Goode, they played off each other so well. Bruce Pearson reminded me of a rebellious and dashingly good looking Cillian Murphy. His character and his troubles gripped me quite well in this one. And Jack Doolan reminded me of a chubbier Iwan Rheon, with all the same dorkiness and charm. These three young men made a winning team.

Throw in a great secondary cast and you have yourself a swinging 70’s period piece. Ricky Gervais was going to include himself no matter what, and he had to inject some of his snarky comedy into this one. It worked well, but I can’t really picture Ricky Gervais as a dad. Stephen Merchant and Karl Pilkington

Lookin’ good, as per usual.

made great little cameos as well, providing a chuckle for those who know them. Matthew Goode played a great playboy d-bag boyfriend, and Ralph Fiennes is as fierce and dominating as usual. And Emily Watson was simply pleasant and stunningly caring as the captured bird of a wife in this film. I was quite happy with the results of all the acting when it all came together.

I must admit, I also enjoyed the soundtrack to this movie as well. I dunno what it is, but this and Velvet Goldmine have just gotten to me

Thanks again, boys.

with their tributes to the 70’s. I had no idea I could enjoy that type of music with my death metal background. The humor is fresh and feels like it comes from a very true place, much different from the extremely awkward style of Ricky Gervais (but that doesn’t mean there wasn’t some of his in there as well). It’s refreshing to see a film like this coming from well known comedic creators and you are surprised because it has substance along with comedy. And even some heart in there. This was an interesting little film that doesn’t break the mold too much, but it is British. So watch it. 7.4 out of 10.


Close Encounters of the Third Kind: My Father’s Take

Finally, here’s the long awaited post from my Dad for his Father’s Day present. Enjoy!

On the surface, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, released in 1977, is a story of how three individuals’ lives become intertwined when some possible alien ship encounters are experienced. Roy, an electric company engineer in Indiana, has a growing need to understand if he is crazy or if he has really received a message from the aliens. Jillian, a single mother from the same area of Indiana and her three-year-old son have received the message too and the aliens have apparently taken a particular liking to the little boy. The final character is Frenchman Claude Lacombe who is part of an international team both reaching out to the aliens and investigating the people the aliens have affected.

It would be easy to say I like Close Encounters because it is a Steven Spielberg movie. He both wrote and directed the film, and it was early on in his career when I feel he had a great child-like sense of wonder in his storytelling (E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Empire of the Sun). I also think he was enjoying his time saying, “I really get a big budget and get paid for having fun?” I could say I like the movie for the gifted John Williams score. I could discuss the symbolism of communication like languages (French, Spanish, Indian, English), physical interaction (radar, toys, sign), and art (music, painting, sculpture) to show that even humans have a hard time so why do we think the aliens could easily get their message across. I could say I like the 70s costumes – which weren’t costumes at the time but who would have put Teri Garr in a short yellow nighty and robe with earthy clogs – brilliant!! And I do think the special effects are good with the alien ships, the clouds, the lighting, the sandstorms, etc. I guess the problem I have is with the aliens. Why are there three different kinds of aliens so vastly different from each other?

My favorite part of the movie is the hero portrayed by the everyman who has been tapped for an adventure – Roy Neary. Despite his obstacles – like his beautifully portrayed dysfunctional family, like everyone thinking he is crazy, like his own belief that he is on the edge of sanity – he faces his fears, does the right thing, and is rewarded in the end. Richard Dreyfuss, who had been acting at this point for over 10 years but hadn’t had a great deal of recognition except for his role of Curt in American Graffiti and Hooper in Stephen Spielberg’s Jaws, is fantastic in this role. He shows anger, wonder, insanity, happiness, and despair. He gets to be in the action sequences – driving in the chase, driving cross country, climbing the mountain; being interrogated by the “bad guys;” saving the girl. He deals with the mundane – his son’s math homework, kids that want to stay up late (watch for a great quote – “I told them they could only watch five commandments), a boss who doesn’t want to talk to him, and a wife who cares for him but can only take so much. And he does it all while trying to figure out his purpose in life. He gets the Oscar nod from me!

So do yourself a favor, when you don’t feel the need for extreme action or extreme thought but want to play with your mashed potatoes, play in the dirt, and watch a great actor having a great time with a great script, get lost in the wonder of Close Encounters. It is better than Goofy Golf or Pinocchio. I give it a 9.9 out of 10!


Insidious: The Downward Slope

I cannot speak highly enough of Saw creators Leigh Whannell and James Wan, but this movie in the horror genre is in a whole other ballpark. I had been wanting to see this movie since the day it came out but I could never rouse any of my friends to locate that spine and see it with me. So I sat down with my girlfriend and watched it instead. I was rather surprised with my final impressions.

The movie starts out like any other haunted house film. Renai (Rose Byrne) and Josh Lambert (Patrick Wilson) are loving parents of three children: one baby girl and two

Old decrepit ladies scare people, right?

young boys. Foster (Andrew Astor) is their other son, but they don’t care about him. He gets one scene. The son they do care about is Dalton (Ty Simpkins). Some strange things are going on in the house, and one day Dalton decides he’s got some explorin’ to do. He climbs up into the attic and tries to turn on the light. He fails, falls off the ladder, and screams the most unconvincing scream you could ever think of. Long story short, he ends up in a coma that is just actually an extended slumber.

A dad in peril.

Here’s where things get good. Renai is being constantly bombarded by evil spirits and apparitions that appear to her and freak her right the hell out. Josh, the high school teacher husband, avoids his comatose son and the evilness in the house at all costs. He wants his son to be okay, but the months drag on (meanwhile their other son is nonexistent. The baby girl gets more face time than he does…) He can’t handle it and the wife is becoming fed up.

With some evil man presence being the last straw, the family moves out into another house, only to experience the haunting all over again. So what could it be? It must be something…

I like the direction that Leigh Whannell was taking this movie, despite the deliverance onscreen. James Wan did a good job of some scary pacing and using shadows to his advantage. The scene everybody talks about? If I had been in the

Save us, Lin Shaye!

theater, I may have jumped. The scaryness aspect that sold me though was the use of shadows and tricks on the eyes. Many times in the film, and everyone has experienced this, you see things in the shadows that are tricking your mind. A coat on a chair in the right light looks like a menacing sitting figure. A space behind a door hides demons. All that sorta thing. James Wan played that up so well that the main focus of the camera wasn’t even on these things. It left images for your mind to wander over and think, “Wait a second, didn’t the camera just miss that evil demon there in the corner?” That’s a first for a film I’ve seen.

Classic Leigh Whannell hipster move.

After this haunted house first half, comes the strange second half. In a strange way to explain away these occurrences, the family employs the help of a psychic who talks with the other side (Elise Ranier played by Lin Shaye). With her gas mask in hand and Specs (Leigh Whannell) by her side, it’s only a matter of time before the movie gets into exorcism and spectral beings. People with fears of 50’s ghosts in proper attire, beware.

I really felt the movie was carried a lot by the music it employed. There were plenty of scenes that were enhanced by the shrill violins and pulse pounding beat. Hell, I was scared of the movie’s use of Tiptoe Through the Tulips. That song and the voice it is sung in are freaky. But, at other times, the music came across as overdramatic and ruined the seconds after the scary moment happened with this over the top dramatic piece. You have to know when to play your hand.

The demon as it should have been.

What really ruined the movie wasn’t the reveal of the main monster, but the constant use of him. What is not seen as much is more frightening than what is. To describe the demon and then see him cheesily chasing the young boy through the house is just the kind of B-rated to C-rated antics that caught this movie so much flack. And the ending as well. Just when you didn’t want another twist, they throw you back in.

The acting was 50/50. I am a huge fan of Patrick Wilson, have been since I saw him in Watchmen. He has an understated way of acting that comes off as truthful. In this movie I considered him one of the best, and it showed in his dad-like ways and regretful attitude towards the end. Rose Byrne could have been better. I’ve been hesitant about her acting since Troy, and maybe that was right to doubt… Ty Simpkins, the main plot point of the movie does not know how to sell

GTFO, Barbara Hershey…

acting. Especially not a horror movie. He made it more comical. Pretty unremarkable. Also, get Barbara Hershey out of these dark thrillers. She may have had a heyday in films, but it has past. And these movies (I’m including Black Swan) are not meant for her. It needs to stop.

So with all these mixes of good scares and ample acting with a strange ending leads to an overall disappointing reaction from me about this movie. My girlfriend especially was disappointed. Sad. I’ll give this movie an A for effort, but when it comes to an actual rating, it’s pretty average. 6.1 out of 10.


Audition: Let’s Have a Call for All Killers

I was in a state of shock and awe after this film. I thought I had found my favorite horror films, but Audition really blew those out of the water. This perfect balance of horror and troubling thriller really sets the bar high for any films after 1999. Takashi Miike has made a masterpiece of a mindf@#$k with Audition. And the fact that Rob Zombie, John Landis, and Eli Roth said this film was difficult to watch, it has to be golden.

Shigeharu Aoyama (Ryo Ishibashi) is a recently widowed movie producer. He’s been quite distant and lonely lately, and his son, Shigehiko (Tetsu Sawaki) has noticed it. Encouraging his dad to at the very least start dating again, Shigeharu turns to his

The audition begins. This is one of those other shots they held really long so you couldn’t see her face. Chilling.

friend, Yasuhisa Yoshikawa (Jun Kunimura), a fellow movie maker for ideas. This is where he has a stroke of genius. In proposing a new movie idea, these two scoundrels will have an audition (hey, there’s the movie title!) for the leading lady. Shigeharu can choose his top 30 and narrow it down from there, giving the lead to the best actress, but he can claim his favorite choice for his wife.

Ballin’ disturbing images.

Feeling slightly uneasy about this, Shigeharu goes into it half-assed. He dawdles around until he finds a young woman who stops his heart still. Asami Yamazaki (Eihi Shiina) is a former ballerina with a very high guard and a delicate personality. He tragic past and broken dreams intoxicate Shigeharu and he must have her at all costs. After a few dates, Shigeharu starts to notice something different about her. And once she disappears, he digs up a past he never wanted to find.

I have to say it, this is a dope ass film. It’s such a twisted film with a plot that leaves you with no idea what’s going on. What people talk about is the torture scene at the end. Needles, dismemberment, blood, this scene houses the entire NR rating for the

A feeling of unsettling fear…

whole film. People have left disgusted and sickened, but that’s what would have kept me in the film. I’ll admit it, I love torture and horror. Anything that makes people, as an audience, feel unclean is wonderful. For someone to go into a movie like this and realize something about their sensibilities by the time they leave is an experience worth having. It taps into our minds and shows us just how terrible the world can be. But shouldn’t be.

I was impressed with a lot of things about this movie. Eihi Shiina’s performance in this film was chilling and horrific. She seems to be such a nice little girl, but her unemotional, uncaring side is what frightens people. It makes people feel uncomfortable with how relentless and completely honest she is as a character. She hypnotizes the bugs into her web and leaves them there to die by her fangs.

You’ll never wanna guess what happens…

A lot of the film has these extremely long held camera shots in it. The action will stay on one angle and deliver a whole piece of dialogue without moving. You’re anticipating some movement (like you would with most films) but it doesn’t come yet. It waits, and waits, and waits until you feel uncomfortable. The whole movie is made to feel unsettling. It’s a tortuous waiting game of when will the knife fall, until it does (and only in the last 15 minutes).

The surreal quality at the end of the film also really spoke to me. You fade in and out of the torture scene, you see past events as Shigeharu couldn’t have seen them. The past is rewritten. You lose all sense of control and awareness as the drugs settle into Shigeharu. You completely give your control over to Asami, something that is unsettling for people to do, even in real life. You lose yourself to this poisonous flower and have no feeling of waking up. There is a bit of a jarring from this final scene that didn’t need to happen. No happy ending was necessary, and yet Takashi Miike allowed it to happen. It would’ve had such a sweetly unsatisfying ending if it had the villain succeeds ending…

But, all in all, this movie delivers on a horror lovers level and a thriller/psychological level. You feel off either way after you’ve watched this. And that’s what horror movies like this set out to do from the start. No wonder this has a cult

WHAT’S IN THE BAG?!?!?

following. It should have. Asian filmmakers know how to do the horror genre right, and this is no exception. This is the movie that made the rule. 9.4 out of 10.

 


Heavy Rain

What is there to say about Heavy Rain that hasn’t been said by thousands of other game reviewers? This game is awesome. This game is incredible. Not as intense as most action games as you’d expect, but if you just like pressing buttons and being immersed in a cinematic experience for about 6 hours… Play. This. Game.

What should I say about the plot. First of all, the title isn’t random. It is badass as Hell though. Think about it. Heavy Rain. A lot of shady, ridiculous shizz goes down in back alleys and seedy motels when it rains hard. Just look at Identity. Great movie, very similar in feel and tone to this game. Watch them in conjunction, I don’t care. Or watch Se7en, there’s no end to the parallels between thriller movies in crummy cities and this game. This game epitomizes that and makes it 6 hours (or more) long.

There are four characters you play as in this game. Gotta say right off the bat that two of them really aren’t that strong. Ethan Mars is a Dad. Enough said. His son is killed in an unfortunate car accident and his other son is kidnapped by a

Ethan Mars. He's a dad.

certain “origami killer”. (In this game it’s pronounced Ori-gamee for no reason.) You must be a true dad and save your son at all costs. You also play as Scott Shelby. He’s a P.I., out looking for the kids being kidnapped by the Origami Killer. Fat and overweight, he has a good soul. And there’s Norman Jayden of the F.B.I. This guy wrecks shit. He has this crime scene investigative turn-of-the-century ARI gadget that allows him to analyze and solves crimes instantaneously on scene. There is a catch to that though. And then there’s Madison Paige. She’s a slutty reporter.

Ahhh, the amazingly graphically stunning seedy motel.

The greatest part about this game has to be the decision making. You can play this over and over again and unlock any of a number of outcomes and endings for your characters. Every individual choice you make has repercussions that flow throughout the entire game. (Make sure you kiss/don’t kiss Madison. Huge repercussions either way.) You can make your characters do classic SIMS things like… sexually take a shower or pee. Also, you can fight in a number of quick draw reaction command scenes that could potentially kill your character based on your decisions. The entire games ending is up to you. Use this power wisely.

Norman Jayden. Will kick your ass.

Not to forget when it comes to this game that the graphics are out of this world… for February 2010. Since this game isn’t that old, it’s going to hold up for some time to even the biggest neurotic game design critic. Hands and the occasional motion are a bit skewed, but it doesn’t change the amazing camera angles that are employed to make this feel as if you’re watching a movie. Despite it being a one player game, invite the friends over, but don’t tell them it’s not a movie. Have someone hide with a wireless controller and have them sit there for every long hour of the game. It will fly by. And they will love it.

The game play doesn’t change much per difficulty, so its pretty accessible to

Madison Paige, useless slutty reporter, on the prowl.

whomever wants to play it. What’s great is the interactions with the controller. You can utilize the motion of the controller in order to throttle, punch, and get out of tight holds. Even balancing the controller can result in an action in the game. What wonderful technology Sony has created. A Wii motion combined with a Playstation/Xbox controller style. What will they think of next?

What decision will you make?

So with great plot and good voice acting (almost extending into character acting with playable characters being based on real actors) this game will immerse you in a run to the finish, a game against time, life and death to its fullest extent. If you like horror/thriller movies like Saw or the Hannibal series, this game was meant for you. Enjoy and hopefully there will be a Heavy Rain 2.

9.5 out of 10.