Tag Archives: homage

Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon

It’s been a long while since I’ve seen a witty and clever homage to horror films (last, I guess, being Scream), but this one takes a whole new angle from breaking down horror movies. Behind the Mask examines not only every slasher movie ever made, but attempts to recreate it down to a science. And, because it’s a movie, of course it does. Combining the refreshing take of a mockumentary and not taking itself too

A stunningly shredding performance.

seriously with a bit of ironically dark humor, this movie proves that even horror movies can be original.

Taken from the angle that Jason Vorhees, Freddie Krueger, and Michael Meyers are real people, this movie accepts the idea that there really are slasher serial killers out there. And what they do, they do for a living. It’s an art form. And, more than that, it’s all planned out to be executed flawlessly. There’s not escaping the killer, he does cardio.

She looks like Erin, right? It’s not just me?

So we follow Leslie Vernon (Nathan Baesel), a relatively unknown actor to me, but one that will stand out forever after his entrancing performance in this film. After accepting the terms of a documentary crew following him around, he is joined by Taylor Gentry (Angela Goethals), an aspiring journalist. He shows off his farm and the legend behind his supposed “death”, and lays it all on thick. Taylor & crew can’t believe at first that this is all real, until they accompany Leslie on his stake-outs and preparation trips for his night of killing. And then it all becomes too horrifyingly real.

This movie leaves no idea unturned or examined. Everything is

Oh Robert Englund, you…

explained from a reasonable and logical standpoint to the extreme that someone could pull this off without much trouble (provided that humans can be predictable). The documentary style really added a level of eeriness that the movie-like scenes detracted from the film. You get that generic feel of Halloween or Friday the 13th, but I much rather liked following Leslie around on his preparation and first killings. It’s all a matter of preference.

Amusing.

What impressed me most about the movie, that I kinda mentioned, was the meticulous detail to movie conventions and plot in this movie. Everything was answered for and accountable. There were homages all over the place to other films (Robert Englund as the therapist character from Halloween, Zelda Rubinstein from Poltergeist as the storyteller, it’s all there) and great little tidbits you have to look for to appreciate. As a horror film enthusiast, this movie was right up my alley.

I don’t really have many complaints (did Angela look like Erin from The Office at all? Anyone?) and enjoyed the film thoroughly. A friend of mine’s boyfriend did a frighteningly good costume of this, and that made me appreciate it all the more. If you love to deconstruct movies and love the horror genre, this movie is a must have in your collection. It takes you in all the places you wanna go, and does it with a dark laugh hiding in the shadows. 8.4 out of 10.

These teens are in for destruction.


Velvet Goldmine: “G” Stands for Glam and Gay

To be honest, I had no idea what this movie was going to be about when I first started it. I searched Netflix for movies starring Christian Bale and/or Ewan McGregor and

The perfect glamster couple. (Collette + Meyers)

found this little gem. (I think gem’s the right word to use for this movie in particular.) Not a strong runner in the money department, this movie has a star studded cast but boasts the time and effort of an independent film with a message to put across. I was perfectly okay with all the homosexuality as well. And trust me, there was a lot.

And it wasn’t even a gay vibe from the outfits.

This movie exudes glam and glitter more than any other film I’ve ever seen. In the same documentary/journalistic vein of Party Monster (review a few entries back), this movie handles the earlier era of Glam Rock (back in the 70’s). Knowing not much about glam rock other than David Bowie, it was interesting to see a character based on him. This movie performs as an homage to David Bowie and Iggy Pop, but with less of a focus on the drugs and more on the sex. I wasn’t expecting as much of a straight edge film, but this movie doesn’t leave out the Sex, Drugs, and Rock ‘n’ Roll.

And here’s something even weirder. I’m not that huge of a fan of glam rock. Sure, I have Gary Glitter’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Pt. II on my iPod, but that’s about as far as it goes. Oh, and this:

That’s the extent of my glam rock knowledge. But what surprised me about this film is how much I enjoyed the musical soundtrack of the film. The movie was right in informing me from the very beginning that I should turn up the volume on my T.V. I thoroughly enjoyed the songs of the 70’s, and had no idea how much I would enjoy glam rock. John Rhys Meyers and Ewan McGregor both lent their vocals to the soundtrack to give it a truer feel to the film, something I always

The fantastical outfits.

appreciate.

But let’s get into the story a little bit. Structured after what is considered by every film student as the greatest film of all time, Citizen Kane, this movie attempts to uncover the glittery veil on who Brian Slade (John Rhys Meyers) truly was. Arthur Stewart (Christian Bale) is a journalist and former glam enthusiast who has come full circle in what used to be his glory days. He has been charged with unearthing the truth on Slade/Persona known as Maxwell Demon. After he pulled a fake assassination stunt at one of his concerts, he fell from grace and landed in obscurity. Meanwhile, everyone around him give their opinion of what their lives were like with Brian Slade around.

The Glam-man Rises.

It’s interesting to see how involved Christian Bale’s character was with the glam scene and those who surrounded Brian Slade. In a world of blossoming bisexuality, all of the characters explore just what it means to be human through sexual interaction. At the same time that it could be discomforting to someone who is against abnormal sexual acts, this movie doesn’t play it up to more than it is, human interaction on a very base and carnal level. It is always amazing to see actors perform onscreen what they truly aren’t in real life. All three (Bale, Meyers, and McGregor) are straight men. They all simulate homosexual acts (kissing, suggestive thrusting, etc) on camera in front of what I would expect is a mixed morals cast and crew. When you slip into something you’re not and sell it, I give you props for that.

The costumes and personalities flair onscreen creating something pretty to look at as well as substance for a story about a form of music that swept both the U.K. and America. With this clash of countries (Ewan McGregor plays Curtis Wild, a glam rocker from Michigan) and love all over, this movie

Ewan McGregor, showin’ it all.

professes love and understanding, no matter what beliefs, morals, or nationality. I was impressed with John Rhys Meyers haunted acting (just as I was with Culkins in Party Monster) and everyone did their share. Christian Bale created a character conflicted with his sexual identity and his confused past, while Ewan staged an opposite character that embraced all life offers. It was a dazzling performance by everyone, including Toni Collette. Throw in Eddie Izzard to add some pizzazz and you have yourself a great cast of rockers.

A side you’ll never see of John Rhys Meyers.

And that’s what I loved about this movie. This isn’t your average film. Combining the worlds of musical and sexual liberation created something that an outsider like myself wouldn’t be able to acquire otherwise. The actors deliver superbly and the songs and colors create a fantastical cosmic journey you don’t want to end. If they couldn’t strung a series of glam rock music videos together, I wouldn’t have complained. So I say anyone looking for a change of pace to life should check out this film. It’s fab. 8.4 out of 10.


The Passion of the Christ

That’s right, I watched it. After having watched the South Park episode, “The Passion of the Jew”, I had to check this out to see why I was laughing. And it wasn’t far off. Amid the screams and oddly modern Middle Eastern music, what Kyle Broflovski witnessed is what I witnessed, with the same face of horror and awe. Mel Gibson may be a crazy person who runs around in his underwear with guns and hates Jewish people

A handsome lookin’ Jesus.

excessively, but I’m going to try to be unbiased and non-sacrilegious at this juncture. I’m going to rate this as a movie, not as a representation of religion. So let’s try to be P.C. here, folks. This is Jesus after all.

So, most people, religious or not, know the story of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. Just the title of it says it all. Jesus (played by Jim Caviezel) is betrayed by Judas (played by Luca Lionello) and beaten and crucified. This movie ties in all the trials and tribulations of Jesus in his last 12 hours before death, including a supernatural earthquake at the end. Insert Easter reference and you have what has been coined as “a two hour and six minute snuff film”. That’s not far off.

Brutal…

Okay, movie standpoint.

It is entertaining, like one of those public executions you can’t look away from. Like a schoolyard brawl. Like a car accident. It’s so horrific and brutal that you want to avert your eyes, but it is Jesus after all. The costumes seem to be taken straight from a nativity scene (or straight from the artwork that depicts Jesus’ death) and everyone

Brutal cont…

in this movie just can’t deny Jesus. He reattaches a man’s ear with just his hand for God’s sake!

But this movie starts to drag. In getting your point across, sure, you have to be accurate to an extent. But Jim Caviezel spent literally 2

… You know what, this was 90% of the film.

hours of the film writhing in agony and wanting to speak (as I’m sure he did at length in the Gospels) but not being able to make words through the gurgling blood. I’m about to throw out an obscure reference here. Has anyone seen the movie Waiting with Ryan Reynolds? Does anyone remember the new waiter that comes in (from Freaks and Geeks) who is always constantly interrupted until he erupts at the end of the film? That kind of epic speech is what I expected at the end of this film. Maybe that didn’t happen. But the biggest part I was looking forward to was the Roman soldier stabbing Jesus with the spear. This is due to my like of the movie Constantine. (Figure that one out.)

But yes, there could have been more of a focus on dialogue and deliverance of the emotions rather than a 2 hour visual narration of a man being beaten and tortured to death. I know that Mel Gibson said that Jesus had it worse than this movie depicted, but at some point it becomes the inspiration for a Saw film.

I got chills at this scene with the veil.

Coincidentally, the first Saw film came out in 2004 around the time of The Passion. Coincidence? It is. But what about the other 6 films? Hmm…

Pain fest and a half.

Jim Caviezel is praised for his performance in this film. Now, it’s a big role to take on that a lot of people wouldn’t do (is it sacrilegious, is it an homage? Iffy…) and I wouldn’t do it myself. But, I think the more powerful performances in the film came from Luca Lionello as Judas. His tortured character, as well as all the accompanying horrific images, really adds a damning element to the movie. You know he did the wrong thing, and he was to blame. It sent chills seeing him hung on that tree by the decaying horse.

Other strange performances came from Jesus’s mother, Mary. Maia Morgenstern, the Romanian actress really added an element of what appeared to be more a love interest than a motherly figure. (I know Jesus wasn’t romantically involved with

Monica Bellucci. Sexy since 33 A.D.

anyone, but if you kiss someone’s bloodstained feet, that’s pretty committed, I’d say.) She wept and stared throughout the whole film, saying maybe 3 lines. Visual film indeed. Speaking of visual, get a look at Monica Bellucci¬† in this one as Mary Magdalene. You know after The Matrix series and Shoot ‘Em Up that this woman is packing a hot body underneath that shawl. She was the eye candy in this one, although Jesus was almost nude through the whole film.

If I have to say something really good, I was impressed highly with the make-up effects.

So you get all the iconic religious images and the Bible basically comes to life. Meanwhile, Judas is wiping his nose on wall and everyone is falling to their knees in despair. Even the head Jewish rabbi had the strength to rip two layers of woven clothing. That’s pretty redonk. But what was strange was all these representations of emotion are uncommon in the range of human emotions since the dawn of man. Showing emotions in these ways came off as too archaic to me, when the movie is trying to transmit emotion across the chasm to us modern viewers (at least, I felt that way…).

And now we get to the torture. The movie literally only focuses on this. One reviewer said it best when (along these lines) they said something about how watching this movie is not uplifting spiritually, it is more downtrodden and guilt ridden than

You wanna pass me some of my body?

anything else. I tend to agree. I just felt bad that people did this to Jesus (agnostically speaking, if this happened). Him falling over every 10 minutes made the movie drag almost to a comic degree. A ten minute flogging scene? I’ve already seen torture films that have more decency than this one. This movie takes violence to a degree that, although tame in comparison to films I’ve seen, it feels all the more real and uncomfortable because we’ve heard stories about this

… Aaanddd top it all off with Satan and the man baby.

gruesome affair. Add in a creepy Satan and man baby, and you have a film that is just too real and gritty, without much substance. From a movie stand point.

I’m not gonna take a huge stance on this from either side. I’m just gonna say it was weak for a movie from a movie enthusiast’s point of view. All visual, no grounded plot or substance of character. Jesus is spoken for and his story is taken for granted that the world already knows and doesn’t need cues. But, from a 2004 view, it did. Just an average film about the last hours of Jesus. Sorry if that offends… 5 out of 10.


Hot Fuzz: Guns a Blazin’

This movie may hold its place solidly in British Comedy, but this movie has one of the best final action sequences of all time. As a kid I fantasized after watching The Matrix, Lord of the Rings, etc. about busting in on some thugs and being strapped to the teeth. You know that scene I’m talking about:

I’m one of those guys who can make the auto gun noise with my mouth and dived onto my bed while shooting two finger guns through the air. I love all action movies and guns, swords, and martial arts really get my blood flowing. When you have an homage/spoof/comedy movie like this that lets out the little kid in you who fantasized about riding into town on a horse and lighting up the bad guys, you have come to the right spot.

You may not have come to the right spot if you don’t like a bit of British humor… or at least 2 hours of it. If you’re anticipating the final showdown and you have to wade

The Sandford Police Service.

through two hours of well crafted action jokes and situational comedy, that might kill it for you. Not for me.

So this is another in the Cornetto Trilogy from Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg, and they just keep getting better. Their next one on the list to end the trilogy is “The World’s End”. Maybe more zombies? Who knows… All I know is that they are fantastic. For the childhood that I had where Star Wars, action films, cartoons, and sci-fi knowledge was a everyday thing, this hits home. Very close to home. And I loved it.

Heaven’s fallen Angel.

Simon Pegg plays Police Officer Nicholas Angel (No. 777, if you didn’t get it already). He is the best on the force in London (he’d rather I say “police service” because it comes off as less aggressive) and is making all the other officers look bad. With the recommendation of all three superiors (Cameos by Martin Freeman, Steve Coogan, and Bill Nighy), Nicholas says goodbye to his former GF (played by Cate Blanchett in a white CSI outfit) and heads to Sandford Gloucestershire. (A fictitious name for a police situation town when running drills/scenarios.)

When Nicholas comes to Sanford, he is blown away by the life of the small town chum. The police station sees no action and Sanford is considered the safest town in England. Headed by Constable Frank Butterman (Jim

Friends forever.

Broadbent) and his son Danny (Nick Frost), Nicholas stumbles upon a bunch of “accidents” that could be nothing short of murders. Who is he to suspect? And who is he to trust? And finally, who is he gonna shoot up first?

I saw this movie in theaters after falling in love with Shaun of the Dead, I had to see it the first weekend out. I about died laughing every 15 minutes of the movie (usually more often). This movie has a lot more punchlines per minute than Shaun had, but every bit just as good. They watched over 150 action films to get the script to be just right (insert their own British flavor and Bam!). This movie went to great lengths to be successful, and rightly so. It delivered on all movie going levels. Entertainment. To the extreme.

There are a lot of great British actors in this movie as well. Obviously the buddy buddy duo of Nick Frost and Simon Pegg. You’ll never see two other actors onscreen who seem like they’re two best friends doing exactly what they wanna do.

Lunch. Dat. Shit.

They are living their dream making these movies. As I mentioned before, my idol Steve Coogan had a small part beside Martin Freeman (Tim from the Office) and Bill Nighy, the funniest old British man. The Andes as they were referred to, Paddy Considine (you might recognize him as Ross from The Bourne Ultimatum) and that great famous son, Rafe Spall. He lost a lot of weight and did some growing up to play the other Andy in this film, and I loved him.

This movie has the wit and fast cuts you’d expect from an action film. All the guns, action, and cheesy action comedy (combined with some really clever comedic work) make this one of the best comedies of the 2000’s (right beside Shaun). You won’t see comedies this entertaining and perfect come along that often, and also featuring a former James Bond, Timothy Dalton. It looks like a lot of fun was had with this film (with plenty of homages to other films) and it really is a laughable thrill ride with slangin’ guns. Perfection in a barrel. 9.7 out of 10.