Tag Archives: Hollywood

Vanishing on 7th Street

I had a strong desire to see this movie when it came out, but if I saw every movie I wanted to when it came out, I would be poor. Thank you, Netflix. Anways, Vanishing on 7th Street had its ups and downs for me as I was watching it. To classify it as a thriller over a horror movie would be accurate, as it didn’t have too many bumps or jumps.

Something’s wrong… is it my acting?

There is one scene that may frighten you (I was wearing headphones and sitting too close to my computer), but overall there really only is one. Supernaturally it’s interesting, but the plot left something to be desired.

Let me explain. When I watch a horror movie, by the end, 9 times out of 10, I want the horror to be delved into or explained. To leave it open ended leaves a bad taste in my mouth. I want the origin story of the evil force at least. Where did these beings come from? Why are they here? Why do they need to frighten and kill? What will they do?

Little Ani, you did your job.

This movie didn’t give any of that. In a series of postulations, Vanishing on 7th Street entered in with this ungodly being/s that took away probably 99% of the world’s population. Paul (John Leguizamo) is just chilling up in his projection room, minding his own business, with his head-lamp on. Everyone in the mall disappears and nobody knows why. Cue Chris Bosh the actor and the scariest moment in the film. We head over to Rosemary (Thandie Newton) and her search for her baby, Manny. Then hit up Luke (Hayden Christensen), the lead actor in this horror shin-dig and you have yourself 3 of the last 4 people remaining in… Detroit? I have no idea…

After three days of darkness and people being taken away, you already knew after the first scene that anyone with a

That rave was a bit too redonk…

portable light was going to survive. It was self evident. What you didn’t realize is how fast Hayden Christensen would adapt and become a hardened badass about the whole thing. None of them know what the hell is going on, but they will for damn sure survive longer than I’ve seen anyone in a supernatural thriller. Go get ’em.

The acting wasn’t bad overall. I usually rag on Hayden Christensen for his ruining Star Wars, but he did his job well in this one. He was the brutal survivor everyone needs on their team in this one, and rightly

Probably shouldn’t crouch by all that gas…

so. Thandie Newton was the beautifully tragic character that has to, of course, hold onto her religion in order to survive. (There’s always one in every bunch…) And then there’s John Leguizamo. He needs to stick to just doing Sid in Ice Age, because his acting wasn’t contributing anything in this live action. Jacob Latimore, he was a pretty damn good child actor in this one. Bravo.

So without much explanation of delving into the topic, Brad Anderson skirts around the issue that every horror film should explain/explore at the end. Sure everyone in a movie can die, but you have to then have some sort of closing argument for why it all happened. In the

That plane be tankin’.

world of Hollywood, people don’t feel comfortable with unexplained evil for evil’s sake. There has to be a motive, a reason. If all you can come up with is Roanoke Island, you are sorely mistaken. And Brad Andersen directed The Machinist for Sweet Baby Ray’s sake! A hit and a miss, this movie holds the middle of the road for all the promise it held, and not giving away anything in the end. 6.2 out of 10.

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The Chaser: Korea Keeps Kickin’ It

Should I ever be surprised now when Korea delivers with another amazingly dark and heart pumping thriller movie? I think at this point I just accept that those Krazy Koreans know just how to do it right. Chan Wook-Park and the Revenge Trilogy, I Saw The Devil, and now The Chaser. I hadn’t heard much about this one, but now I will actively be on the lookout for Na Hong-jin after this one. In his debut film, we are

A pimp pushed to the edge to use his strong hand.

introduced to a sadistic killer and a former cop turned pimp and his desire to get back his employees. With a seedy feeling underneath the whole thing, this movie explores the shortcomings of the justice system in catching what’s right in front of them.

As I said before, Eom Joong-ho (Kim Yoon-seok) is an ex-cop turned more lucrative business owner of a ladies of the night agency. He has recently been sending his ladies to the same man and they don’t seem to be coming back to him. This troubles him (he is losing money, after all) and he starts actively seeking out this man stealing his livelihood. What he discovers is something far worse. Based on an actual serial killer in Seoul, Ha Jung-woo plays Je Yeong-hee, a young and aspiring serial killer being looked for for years. This game of cat and mouse just got more dangerous.

The deranged serial killer. Chilling.

And what I liked about it were the stakes. Yeong-hee admits to the murders and the police find he’s a serial killer they’ve been looking for for a while. Eom Jonng-ho brings him in (well, he beats him in) and demands they arrest him and find his women. But there is a justice dilemma that favors Yeong-hee. There’s no evidence, and he was beaten severely, against fair and humane punishment laws. He was treated poorly and, without a warrant, they can’t hold him for very long. With a ridiculous police scramble for evidence, Eom Jonng-ho uses his police skills from way back when to find the conviction.

That’s a pretty good hog-tie right there.

This movie is very twisted in the same way that it is a bit more refined and elegant. There’s not too many bloody dismemberment scenes or gory, blood spurting elements to it. It’s very brutal with the beatings and depravity of it, but it holds back on the reigns when it comes to showing things. It is more of a Streets of Seoul type of film than having to do with a slasher film. The police and “ex-police” call the shots and do all they can to uphold justice. It was an interesting change of pace.

The justice beatdown dance.

A lot of the Korean actors in this film I wasn’t familiar with from other films. The daughter, Eun-ji was from Sympathy for Lady Vengeance, but that was about all I recognized. It was nice to see new faces that I can start to follow like I do with Choi Min-sik, Lee Byung-hun, and Song Kang-ho. Those guys are really legitimate good thriller/action actors, and I’m glad their work is recognized, even over here.

What I don’t appreciate is the fact that U.S. movie makers in Hollywood think it’s cool to remake these movies in a more American way. They’re planning to remake The Chaser with Leo DiCaprio as the leading man. Martin Scorsese in the the talks for directing. It’s gonna be an Infernal Affairs/ The Departed situation all over again. The original Asian make was just fine, why go and jumble it up with a poor remake that attempts to improve on the one before? Is it that

He has a very Choi Min-sik feel to him in this film. Think Oldboy.

Americans don’t wanna watch Asians and read subtitles or something. Come off it then…

But I loved this movie. It’s dark with all the right amounts of thriller/gory/horror/action/police work that you want in a psychological thriller like this. There’s some powerful acting and a chilling, “you gotta hate me” performance from Ha Jung-woo playing the serial killer. It has a good I Saw the Devil feel to it as well. Keep it coming, Korea, you gotta love all these dark Asian films. 8.9 out of 10.


Shaun of the Dead

Okay, so here we go with the Simon Pegg/Edgar Wright film that started off the whole shebang. Shaun of the Dead, that classic film that everyone and their mother owns (well my mom likes it in any case) truly is a spectacular romantic spoof about zombies. Let’s see if I can remember back to the first time I watched it…

Back when I first laid eyes on this film, I’m pretty sure I had no idea who Simon Pegg was. I hadn’t seen Spaced (not until much later) and I was woefully unaware of what hilarious

A wonderful cast doing it on the night.

antics lay before me in this film. Leave it to the British to be so damn clever that they turn a zombie movie into one of the funniest films of the last 10 years (soon to be followed by Hot Fuzz). The first in what hopes to be a trilogy entitled “The Three Flavours Cornetto Trilogy” (every film so far has featured a Cornetto), I laughed hysterically (or at least I think I did back in 2004) to Shaun of the Dead.

A lot of the zombies in the film are shown in other scenes, and are fans of Spaced or just happened to be around the time of shooting.

Fantastic plot ensuing. Shaun (Simon Pegg) has an average life with a girlfriend, Liz (Kate Ashfield) who expects a bit more from their relationship. Ed (Nick Frost) lives in a shared flat with Shaun and their dickish roommate Pete (Peter Serafinowicz), and every night ends at the Winchester pub. After Shaun was supposed to finally arrange a nice night out, he messes up after a scrambled day at work, and Liz breaks it off with him. Planning on doing anything to get her back, Shaun and Ed wake up the next day to a zombie apocalypse. Guess things’ll be a bit more complicated than planned.

Let’s start with the filming. This movie, which, in my adolescence I thought was directed by Simon Pegg, was creatively done by Edgar Wright. With the combined writing and direction powers of

See, it’s gotta be good, she’s smiling.

Wright/Pegg, there’s nothing they couldn’t do. This movie uses interesting and dramatic quick cuts, ominously toned music at ironic parts, and comedic timing within the camera angles and cuts. It does mean a lot for a camera’s direction and cinematography to dictate the pacing and comedy of a film. This one has that. You’ll see the same thing in Hot Fuzz (a more action-y edge) and Edgar Wright’s Scott Pilgrim vs The World (a review I did a while ago).

That’s some classic Nighy right there.

The cast is also full of a bunch of wonderful British actors. Of course there’s the Simon Pegg/ Nick Frost bromance/friendship duo. It’s the only couple in Hollywood that I would consciously ship together despite just being two men who are friends. You have Dylan Moran, star of Black Books and the recently reviewed A Film With Me in It. This Irish actor plays the dick and four eyes, David. But he’s a lot more than that and shows up in other Simon Pegg vehicles. I give this guy his props, he’s damn funny. There’s Lucy Davis who plays the slightly slow failed actress, Dianne. Most British comedy fans will know of her from the UK’s Office as Dawn, one of my favorites (I currently worship Ricky Gervais).  There’s Bill Nighy, POTC’s Davy Jones and Underworld’s head vamp and one of my mom’s favorite British actors. A cameo is made by Rafe Spall, son of Timothy Spall as Noel, one of Shaun’s co-workers at the tech shop. He’s slimmed down a bit for other roles and most recently

The Wright stuff.

appeared in Prometheus (you gotta check him out, he’s going places).

This movie’s just a great watch and gets better every time you watch it with inside jokes and new groups of friends tuning in. (At least in my experience.) There’s nothing wrong with it, and it delivers on the horror fan and comedy fan that both dwell within me. If you’re any sort of a geek and love sci-fi/video games/movies/fantasy, this movie is for you. It’s a cricket bat to the head and worth all the injuries. 9.3 out of 10.


This Film Is Not Yet Rated: An Opinion

In a different approach that I’ve never done in my blog, I’m going to debate the documentary created by Kirby Dick, This Film is Not Yet Rated. While watching this, a lot of questions and refutes came to mind that I wanted to deal with rather than just reviewing the movie. I gave this film my full attention and open mind, so I’m going to talk back.

This Film is Not Yet Rated deals with the issue of the warped way in which independent and Hollywood films are treated and rated according to the MPAA (Motion Picture Assoc. of America). With the issues of homosexual vs heterosexual relations, male vs female sexuality, and violence, vs sexual content, Kirby Dick handles this and the board behind which these issues are debated and rated on. It is quite controversial and sexual in nature, with interviews from people all across the movie making business and their thoughts behind why this secretive establishment was ever put into place. And a lot of attacking of Jack Valenti, the man that started it all.

I have to concede a lot of points to Kirby Dick and the creators of this documentary. It is rather disturbing that an organization is given this much power and allowed to be kept secret and confidential on its workings. To not be allowed to know the peers who judge you (as you are in the court of law), is downright un-Democratic. The board that represents “average American parents” is warped and not accurate in the slightest. And any sort of appeals board that is put into place is just ludicrous.

But I think where a lot of the confrontation comes from is the business world. Hollywood and the movie making machine is a business. A lot of business (especially big businesses that make billions of dollars) are run by the elite “conservatives” that wouldn’t look kindly on the liberal views of sexuality and experimentation. With the movie makers butting heads with the owners who rate the films and distribute them, documentaries like this are going to arise that fight the backwards system they’re involved in.

What I didn’t understand is why there’s such a conflict. If the MPAA rates movies as R or NC-17, that restricts the amount of people who can see the film. And by restricting a demographic from seeing a film that may not be so restricted content heavy, that loses money to a particular age group. Why would the big businesses who run the showing of films do such a thing? It seems backward, and could only be because they feel it is necessary to keep the status quo morals. I applauded this film for fighting “the man” and the “big machine”, but there were things I had problems with.

Coming from someone who loves a lot of different films, I have to be honest. I don’t think that, in 90 out of 100 cases, that sex scenes are necessary in film. What do sex scenes do? They reaffirm a “loving” relationship between two people, be it straight, gay, or whatever. It’s for lust, for some form of artistic representation. But how often does it actually move a plot along? Not often. Sexual scenes of any sense that actually further plot are usually scenes of rape or procreation. If someone’s having a baby or having their lives changed by a terrible experience, those are depicted harshly or beautifully. Sex scenes to “seal the deal” come across as eating up screen time to me.

Let me give an example so I just don’t seem prude. I tried to watch a film recently titled, A Room in Rome. I thought, hmmm, I’ll expand my knowledge in films with this liberating and artistic foreign film about lesbians. It started off okay. They had some thought provoking conversations. Then they hit the showers and I was exposed to sex scene after sex scene. At that point, I realized what sex scenes are to me. They are invasions of privacy, voyeuristic looks into someone else’s private time, be it onscreen or not. They, for the most part, bore me and make me feel uncomfortable. And for a film to claim it’s an arthouse film and just show 90 minutes of nonstop sex scenes? That’s a total load of bullshit. Don’t tell me that. That’s not some form of art that I would never understand. “It’s symbolic.” Are you f$%^&ing kidding me? Hell no.

I’m not ashamed to exasperatedly voice my opinion, and it’s about to get worse. Call me a typical dumb male, but I would rather have a scene of violence in a film than a sex scene. It’s more entertaining and adrenaline pumping than two people doin’ it in front of my eyes. And it furthers plot. Steve Carrell as Michael Scott on The Office said it best when he said that what’s more exciting than a gun? What is more exciting and threatening to a character than a gun onscreen? There’s a point to be had there. Martial arts films that depict the grace, discipline, and brutality of fighting really inspire me to be better than myself and protect and defend others. It’s all a matter of perspective, I guess.

There was one point in the film that made me pretty mad in particular. It was quite a leap and a wrong one. To say that violent films and video games inspire more kids to shoot up schools than anything else is not the truth. It is an access to firearms at a young age. It’s those kids who are mentally unstable, picked on, not listened to, those kids who feel the pressures of the world before they even get out of college. The outcasts, the rejects, those kids nobody would ever dream of talking to or hanging out with. In some particular cases, I’m sure violent acts have been done because of what someone saw on T.V. or in movies. But not a majority or a large portion of the time at all. Marilyn Manson said it best in Michael Moore’s Bowling for Columbine documentary. When asked what he would have said to the two young male shooters to try to dissuade them, he said, “I wouldn’t say a single word to them, I would listen to what they have to say, and that’s what no one did.”

This film makes valid points about a world I am not a part of, but would one day like to be a part of. The movie world scares me now after seeing this documentary. How much freedom is taken away when you want people to see what you’ve made and how a movie can be banned or censored is against our rights. But the way that sex is seen as something that should be above anything else (drugs weren’t talked about in this film), I falter in my support. I find that to be assuming too much of an “open-minded” America. For parents to have to talk to children about sex, who wants that conversation? (Daniel Tosh paraphrase from a telling joke about Mormons and gay rights.) As a whole, America is a prude machine that doesn’t want to move from where its standing. I stand among those in the action film/horror movie/all around whatever the hell genre it is community and say, “I don’t need sex in my films.” I know it is backwards to say violence above sex, but aren’t movies fake? Don’t they depict things that, for the most part, are an interpretation/exaggeration of the real world? Sex scenes hit too close to home and come from a person to person basis on what is acceptable sex.

So coming away from this with one thing, you should remember I said this. I don’t find sex to be entertaining or necessary in movies. That’s just me, my opinion. You could think I am absolutely stupid and ignorant for thinking that. That’s your choice to think that. But if my voice has any say in the matter, this is what I think. Plain and simple. Let me know what you think, and, as always, I’ll be writing from The Abyss.

So let’s have a poll, shall we?


Immortals: My First 3D Experience

If you ever feel like having a stick of dynamite stuffed in your ear and detonated, see this movie. It won’t just blow your mind, it will blow your head off. From the same producers that brought you 300, here comes a slightly updated version. Based on the mythology of Theseus and the gods, comes an epic tale of one man versus a league of Hyperion’s horde. Combine the zero to hero life of Hercules with Theseus’ humble peasant background and subtract 299 troops and you have Immortals. Here’s the drawback to my plan. I saw this the day it came out and I was pumped. My birthday movie (Nov. 12th) and The 11.11.11 date release was epic. But… it was only in 3-D. Major crisis could not be averted.

And here is where I gripe about 3-D. There are logical reasons that Hollywood won’t acknowledge about the flaws of 3-D because of how much money it is unfortunately raking in. First of all, coming from generations upon generations (basically back to the 1900’s) who have enjoyed and watched films, these 3-D films look fake. The cheesy effect of things coming out at you from a film (i.e. a bow or sword) takes you out of the movie watching experience. Being constantly conscious of things popping out at you at all

The questing group. Nice.

moments of the film puts it in a realm of disbelief about what is being portrayed onscreen. The headaches it creates from an unprepared audience (and from those who must wear glasses beneath glasses, *ahem* me) and the cost headache it creates is just too much. And everything, even movies that hold next to no 3-D value/scenes, are released for the sake of money. That shouldn’t be what the film industry is about, but, alas, it is.

So, let’s talk about every single good thing about this movie, and then I’ll give you my one problem with the movie. Okay, here we go.

Henry Cavill as Theseus. Check out that butt-chin.

Alright, Henry Cavill as Theseus. In an action film, I, for the most part, forgive the acting of those involved. For most who view these movies, they know no Oscars are coming its way and its for the entertainment value. A movie that sticks to its genre/guns is something I truly appreciate. And Henry Cavill, a relative newcomer to films (first big thing, The Count of Monte Cristo, other notables, Tristian and Isolde and The Tudors) performs in what I would consider an above average performance. Not on par with King Leonidas (Gerard Butler) but a similar gusto. He may come from Jersey (the original) but that doesn’t make him a horrible person, this English bred actor delivers and will hopefully deliver in Zack Snyder’s new Superman film, Man of Steel. I really wish these superhero movies would stop though…

Alright, here’s something that might surprise you. I’m a big Stephen Dorff fan. This dude, despite starring more often in action films and such below the Oscar radar, he has won my affection. Let’s talk Blade. Deacon Frost, the head of the vampires. Witty and evil as most comic book villains should be, Stephen Dorff delivers as the best villain in that series. Luke Goss in the second, a close second. Feardotcom, another good one. A little bit of an underrated horror film, this held some of the inspiration for the Saw series if I’m not mistaken. Throw in World Trade Center and Public Enemies, and you have a character actor with some pizzaz. As Stavros, the longest surviving of Theseus’ homies, the comic relief emanates from him.

Stephen Dorff. What a master.

We got Freida Pinto for the sex appeal. I gotta warn you, a 3-D nude ass in your face is something quite strange. With a similar sex scene to 300 with the plot device of The Scorpion King (let’s see who gets that), this scene had me laughing because of how uncomfortably cheesy it was. Here’s someone I wasn’t familiar with. Luke Evans as Zeus. He played Apollo in Clash of the Titans (ironic, and also a sad film) and was recently a very similarly looking character in The Three Musketeers. I am looking forward to the new Hobbit film, something it seems Evans will have a small part in. So, as Zeus, Luke Evans delivers a very intense character who can theatrically deliver lines. Probably picked more for his youth than skill, I wasn’t really disappointed at all. (All the Greek gods are supposed to be redonkulously good looking, right?)

All of the Greek gods: Zeus, Ares (Daniel Sharman), Athena (Isabel Lucas, niceee), and Poseidon (Kellan Lutz) were all good in their roles. Chiseled bodys of gods (reminds me of 300…) and a brisk demeanor places them above the mortals. And then there’s the special effects. The fight scenes were brutal. Just check out Ares taking out all of those slave overlords like Gallagher. The spear throw and the bow use is pretty ridiculous. These surge of films (Troy, 300, and now Immortals) are really bringing back the badassness of the spear. Combine this with the most important factor, the director. Tarsem Singh is the amazing visual director of two amazing films, The Cell and The Fall. Especially in The Fall, I can really see the resonance this movie holds with its director’s predecessors. Check those movies out if you haven’t already.

Damn you, King Rourke.

Alright, the downfall of this film. Two words. King Hyperion. Also, and more importantly, Mickey Rourke. This Disney named fool needs to stay in obscurity and out of films. The person he has become because of the drugs and addiction has created a monster. I didn’t like him in Sin City, The Wrestler, or Iron Man 2. The only movie I like him is is Diner from way back in 1982. Back when he was a real person and not a shell of the man he is now. It’s quite a sad thing. Oh well, like all actors, he will fall someday.

With a basic, easy to follow plot of the quest, this movie creates amazing landscapes for fight scenes (including the Gate of Mordor) and a fight scene towards the end with the locked away Titans that will blow you away. Created after so many years, it was almost too long of a lull between Immortals and 300. This movie needed to happen and it delivered. Not exactly a copy off of 300, but well worth the watch. Just avoid the 3-D and you’ll be fine. Maybe even skip over the mind-addled mumblings of Rourke while he eats his nuts, but we’ll see. This movie deserves a 8.4 out of 10.

This scene was ridic.

 


Hobo With a Shotgun…

Okay, let’s try to tackle this cacophony of a train wreck with scene after scene making me yell out loud, “WHAT.” How do I even approach this? I think a good review of this would be to analyze the plot to really dig into the absurdity that is Hobo With a Shotgun.

Shot in the style of Grindhouse/Pulp Fiction/all of Quentin Tarantino’s crap, I really wish Jason Eisener had gone for a more original approach to this film. But hey, it’s a style people like that pisses me off, but that’s cool… I guess…

Anyways, plot. Hobo w/ a Shotgun (Rutger Hauer) rolls into a dead end town with no real goal other than to buy a mower. I know, you’re already wondering, “What the freakin’ Hell?” Suspend your disbelief, please. Hauer ain’t gotta have a purpose to buy a lawn mower. Anyways, first thing Hobo encounters, Drake

Why does this movie exist?

(Brian Downey) and his sons, Slick (Gregory Smith) and Ivan (Nick Bateman) have taken some dude and hung him by a manhole cover like a noose. Legs all hanging in the gutter and the manhole cover cheesily bending to allow him to move, they attach a barb wire noose around his neck and use Drake’s car to decapitate the dude. I thought, “Okay, I can roll with this.”

Rutger Hauer, you unbelievable bastard...

Then, Hobo gets pissed when his can cart gets picked off by Drake’s car. And Drake owns this town.  So you can be sure the final confrontation will be between Rutger Hauer, one of the strangest men in Hollywood, and Brian Downey, a no name actor. And for shame, former Disney Channel star Gregory Smith, you deserve to get your penis shotgunned off.

Drake, you sneaky old cod.

So Hobo roams around this shithole town, knowing that justice needs to be delivered. Who’s gonna do it? It’ll be him, but we have to wait 45 MINUTES FOR THIS. Crap. Slick takes this hoe (Molly Dunsworth)  back to his arcade full of cocaine and Hobo rescues her in the nick of time with his hobo prodding stick. After turning Slick into the police and expecting justice, Slick and Ivan screw his life up a bit more and toss him into the trash. (Insert retarded cheesy line here.) Being found by the prostitute who never makes a buck the entire movie (she was currently being talked to by a cop who wants to hurt himself more than have sex), she takes him back to her decent house with an empty picture frame and gets lectured about the majesty of bears.

I must be dreaming this scene can't be real...

Hobo goes to buy his lawn mower after recuperating and eating glass and witnesses a robbery at the pawn shop. So what does he do? Buys a shotgun and shoots every following bad guy in the stomach. Classy. Rutger Hauer mumbles the entire film and you’re supposed to understand his mindless ramblings. Didn’t get a damn word. Not a one.

There are some more lines about skate rape, a bus full of burn victim children, a town lynching of hobos, and then a final confrontation between these two

The useless prostitute, Abby.

juggernauts in full armor and prostitute with soldering iron skills. The town gangs together to rally the Hobo, the prostitute runs train on the juggernauts, and Hobo gives a touching speech to a hospital room full of frightened babies. People die, Hobo kills Drake, police gun down Hobo, credits roll in the blood. Moral of this waste of time story? Don’t let Hobos near any run down cities. Don’t let them buy lawn

Rutger Hauer. Scaring babies for far too long.

mowers or cart around tipsy shopping carts. Or even be in movies. (Other than Japanese ones.) I gotta say it, but despite the ridiculous antics of this film, I didn’t once laugh. I was distressed and felt like I was on a bad acid trip. Complete 0 out of 10. This truly was a skate rape.