Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Horror Talk

Well, the year 2008 is now under way, and for horror enthusiasts like myself it will be a year of remakes and sequels. I am looking foward to some and dreading others.

This year we will see the return of JigSaw in Saw V and the return of vengence in the Grudge 3. We also have the sequel Cabin Fever 2 in the coming months this year. These are the sequels I dread. While I do enjoy the 'Saw' movies, I hate it when a good idea is run into the ground. The original 'Grudge' was boring and I fell asleep watching it. (That ghost sounds like it is belching, and I really can't stand that.) Oh and rather than a sequel, my answer to Cabin Fever is penicillin. nuff said. Some friends of mine and I went to see the Original in the theater. Let's just say they weren't even impressed. (They were also rather pissed off at me for picking the movie.)

While there are plenty of original works to been seen this year, Hollywood will continue to rehash some of the earlier works in the horror genre. Clive Barker's Hellraiser, David Cronenbergs's Scanners and Wes Craven's The Last House on the Left are all remakes slated to hit the theaters this year. New cast, new directors, etc. Why Lord, why? People need to be entertained and money needs to be made. The sad thing is that people these days are even harder to scare, I believe. That is probably the motivating force behind taking a classic like Scanners and revamping it for a modern audience. What the 2006 version of 'When a Stranger Calls' proved is that sometimes it is a bad idea. I hope to everything good and peaceful in this world that they do not screw up these original stories.

Dario Argento's Mother of Tears is a movie that has been a long time coming. I am looking forward to this latest masterpiece. Also, Bruce Campbell is back in 'My Name is Bruce' as star and director of a film in which he plays himself and fights real monsters. Hellboy 2 will hopefully be as fun as the original with Ron Perlman coming back as the title character. We will see.

Joe Hill's novel Heart Shaped Box has been made into a movie. An aging rock star buys an ghost off Ebay? I liked the book, but I don't know if that would work as a movie.

When I am in doubt about what to look for in a film, I check the www.fangoria.com fear forecast page and my mind is set at ease. See yall at the movies.

Monday, January 28, 2008

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly

Since I go to Columbia, I got to support my fellow alumni. Luckily, some of us actually went somewhere. Janusz Kaminski, a notable cinematographer, is who drew me into seeing The Diving Bell and the Butterfly. When I first saw the previews for it, I kind of thought it was like Blu, where someone gets into a car crash and looses everything blah, blah, blah. I honestly had no desire to read about it or see it. But knowing that my homeboy Janusz shot it, and the fact that my girl Cara was going to see it as well made me get off my booty and go to the movies.
Thank God she made me go, because I was so wrong. Like, completely wrong. The Diving Bell centers around Jean-Dominique Bauby, a prominent figure in the fashion industry who suffers a horrible stroke. Or so we think. In reality he has a condition called "Locked-in syndrome," where you're completely coherent on the inside but completely paralyzed on the outside. His brain has no damage and he can still think and feel the things he usually would, but he cannot articulate his emotions physically in any way. This, in the hands of an amateur director could've turned into the next Hallmark channel blockbuster, with a heartwarming struggle and crappy string music. But what director Julian Schnabel and Kaminski have achieved is art. Most of the film is from Bauby's point of view, with his voice-over conveying his inner thoughts as his doctors and loved one react to his condition. And it truly is from his perspective. Because he's paralyzed, his head movement is extremely limited and what we see is from his eyes exploring the room. His depth perception is also skewed because one of his eyes has also become paralyzed. So the cinematography reflects that. Parts of the frame are not in focus, while other parts are crystal clear. The images blur and become defined as Bauby struggles for consciousness. The depth of field is almost unsettling at first because we're seeing a world that hopefully we'll never experience.
The dialogue is, and this sounds soooo pretentious, but it's revolutionary. Obviously Bauby can't speak to his doctors and loved one, so he communicates through blinking. With the help of his speech therapist Henriette and his secretary Claude, he develops a way of actually speaking to people by blinking when she recites the correct letter he wants. Through this complicated process, he's able to form sentences and even write a complete novel. Schnabel doesn't show us the entire process of this most of the time, and instead let's Bauby's voice-over communicate with Henriette and Claude, letting us see that his life can be as fluid as it was before. He develops friendships, reconnects with his ex-wife, and essentially leads a normal life because the people that love him have embraced his new life.
The movie is extremely emotional and extremely well-done. And it's receiving awards up the butt. As it should. The most incredible thing about this movie is that it's all true. There was a Jean-Dominique Bauby and he did write a novel through blinks and he did live a normal, happy life. It's inspiring really. It's the ultimate comeback story, without the cheesy, man is healed with love ending that we've come to expect with conventional Hollywood films. Go see it before it leaves theaters, so that when it wins a couple Oscars you know exactly why.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Review: Rambo (2008)

We happen to be in the midst of the return of the hardcore action film. Starting with "Crank" in 2006, and moving through last year's "Shoot 'Em Up" (and for that matter, the underrated "Smokin' Aces"), balls-out action has resurfaced, sans the pointless plotting that plagues most action films. Now, don't get me wrong, I enjoy character study and labyrinthe plotting as much as the next guy, but there is a time and a place for those things, and some days, I just want to see Jason Statham throw down without having to think about how his childhood led him to nihilism.

Now, Sylvester Stallone has revived his second franchise in three years (after 2006's "Rocky Balboa") to take American icon John Rambo out for one more go-round. This character has been attacked over the years by a lot of people who consider Rambo the ultimate symbol of testosterone-fueled idiocy. They say that the movies push an ignorant-American image and suggest that only men are capable of affecting change, and only using brutality. To them I say, lighten the hell up and stick to your David Lynch films. The fact is, I'm pretty sure if you asked most people seeing "Rambo" this weekend whether they believed they were expecting an award-winner, they'd just laugh. This series has always been escapist entertainment, and remains so.

Let's get to the movie itself, though. "Rambo" kicks off in present-day Thailand, which Rambo now calls home. He is sought out by a band of Colorado missionaries determined to enter war-torn Burma to provide aid to a small village. He tries to talk them out of this, but is persuaded by Sarah (Julie Benz) to take them in by boat. Despite an attempted pirate raid, they reach their destination, only to be taken hostage by the Burmese Army after the village is destroyed. Rambo then brings a band of mercenaries to the scene to retrieve the hostages. Rambo joins in, and...well, I don't think I have to explain what comes next.

Stallone, who also wrote and directed the film, dives right back into the character. The fact that one of the working titles for this film was "John Rambo" is telling, because all other characters and plotlines are secondary; this is about one man, and one man alone, and we see a bit more of his humanity, if not enough to make him anything other than a killing machine in 50-something year old man form. Like last year's "Live Free or Die Hard", this is a story of a grizzled veteran pulled back into his violent life when reminded that this is the only world he knows.

Some will be turned off by the fact that Stallone laboriously shows us the atrocities being committed in Burma. The aforementioned village sequence is incredibly graphic, and no punch is spared (at one point, a small child is flung into a burning building). There are definitely some sequences in this film that are incredibly hard to watch, but they do the trick, for they make you want to see Rambo take action, and at the end of the day, that's what the audience for this film is paying $9 to see: John Rambo killing communists warlords and their armies. The eventual final payoff will more than sate the appetites of action fans, for once the message is through, and the throat-ripping begins, Stallone seems right at home. The sequence with the Claymore mine alone makes this worth a watch, because, if there is one absolute truth in the world, it's that mushroom clouds are fun; doubly so when they're triggered by a bomb that isn't supposed to create them, by a long shot.

Overall, if you're planning on seeing "Rambo", you know by now what you're paying for. The film is entertaining enough, even though it takes itself far too seriously. Stallone's intentions might be good, and I have a lot of respect for him trying to shed some light on genocide, but this is Rambo. The ending, with gatling guns and knives and a missionary killing a man with a rock, is what the target audience (read: guys my age) is paying for.

Note: The film is not even 90 minutes long. With this, and last week's "Cloverfield", I'm really hoping the era of action films bloated with filler to take up 120 minutes is past. Sometimes, brevity is the higher ground.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

My room mate showed me this video. Just sayin', Jake should dump Reese for me. This fact because even more evident after I witnessed his booty shakin' skills:

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

WTF?!: Academy Awards edition

So as everyone knows (or maybe they don't), the Academy Awards nominations have been released. Everything is pretty much expected, seeing other awards shows and their nominations. But I would like to point out that Norbit, like, the worst movie of the year, is nominated for Best Achievement in Make-Up. Um, what? They seriously couldn't think of another movie to nominate? Even the nominations for Transformers in sound and visuals make sense. The sound of the robots were a crucial part of the story, and considered most were probably original, that's an achievement. As for the visuals, I wanted more robots fights, but still amazing. But dressing Eddie Murphy in drag? Yeah, he's already done it before, and I'm sure he'll do it again.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The news just came out about an hour ago now that Heath Ledger was found dead in his Manhattan apartment.

Regardless of how it went down, I'd like to extend my condolences to his family and friends. Rest in peace, dude.

Monday, January 21, 2008

DC vs. Marvel: The Battles Rages On (Part 1)

So, confession time. I'm a huge comic book nerd. Like, I have boxes of comics. I have superhero posters galore. I do enjoy Marvel comics, but my heart is for the man that is DC. And, because of that, I am SOOOO excited about the movies each body is putting out soon. Here's a quick blow by blow on who's working on what. And for those who don't know what I'm ranting about, I've provided many a link:

The Dark Knight - Well, I think everyone knows about this film. Honestly, it looks so amazing right now. I like they way Christopher Nolan is taking the Batman franchise and asking, "What if Batman really did exist in our society?" I mean, we're not going to see people jumping around in spandex down Michigan. We would see something more urban, more gritty. These people wouldn't have access to crazy guns and tanks like in a cartoon. They would use what they could find or steal. There's no crazy Adam West Batman shit going on in Nolan's Batman. The Joker looks fantastic too. Kudos to Heath. I will forever love Jack's Joker, but it's nice to see what it would be like if the Joker's insanity tried to conquer Chicago/Gotham. And who could Anthony Michael Hall be? He's been paid up the butt to keep the secret. Maybe the Riddler? Not Robin. God, I want to see this movie now! Why must I wait!?

Justice League of America - I don't know. The way this film is shaping up, it looks pretty shitty. Nolan has already said he wants no involvement in this picture, which kind of worries me. And the casting for it has been pretty shitty. I don't think I could see anyone else playing Batman other than Christian Bale. And they're using the black Lantern!? Dude, everyone knows John Stewart sucks balls. I mean, they use him in the television series now too, but Hal Jordan people!!! He IS Green Lantern. Unless you're doing some Spectre tie-in with this shit, then don't use Stewart! And if they handle Doomsday in the same way they handled Galactus in Rise of the Silver Surfer, I think I might puke. I repeat, Galactus is not a cloud people! And why the hell is Talia al Ghul even in this movie? Why is George Miller directing this and not Brian Singer? Why is this movie going to suck so bad? The one upside though is that Superman is supposedly going to die in this one. Fuck yeah.

Wonder Woman - Despite the fact that IMDB says this is coming out in 2009, I doubt it. It's changed cast and crew so many times in the last year that it's unlikely that it'll be ever made. Which could be a good thing? I don't know, I was never a huge fan of Wonder Woman. She's kind of a bitch. She pretends she's all tough and as soon as Superman walks in a room she drops her pants. I think Black Canary's a way better female figure for comic books. Plus, her boobs are huge. Like seriously, they're epic. But back to Wonder Woman. I think Jessica Biel would play a good Wonder Woman. She was even rumored to have been playing her for a bit, but there's been no talk recently. She just has this look where she's strong but feminine at the same time. I mean, she's not super Greek, but that could be a good thing? And I wonder who the villain would be. Maybe the Cheetah and her def posse? I just don't know if that kind of villain could carry a movie.

The Flash - Supposedly to come out this year? Yeah right? I want it to though. I love the Flash. He's like the comic relief in the Justice League, other than Plastic Man. You've got the Batman/Superman rivalry that seems to flare up every time there's a problem. The sexual tension between Superman and Wonder Woman. The occasional lover's fight between Green Arrow and Black Canary. And then the Green Lantern Corp, well who knows when one might flip? The Flash always seems to stay neutral but witty. I think Ryan Reynolds would be perfect as the Flash. He's funny in the same type of humor that the Flash has, but also can pull it together in a tight situation. According with one IMDB plot synopsis, the Flash is going to have to deal with Hal Jordan going ape shit. HOW AWESOME IS THAT!? My friend and I always had this conversation over who would win in a fight, Hal Jordan or the Flash? If the Flash was on his A-game, he could probably win. Just throw his yellow shoe right at Jordan and it would be a no-contest. But Jordan has the most powerful weapon in the galaxy...we'll see. I hope it gets made.

Ronin - There isn't a lot of information about this movie yet, but it will certainly be made. Frank Miller's shit is hot right now. At first Daren Aronofsky was rumored to have been making this, though now I guess the guy who did Stomp the Yard is going to? What? That's like saying, "Well I could have this filet mignon but I think I'll pick McDonald's instead." The story in the graphic novel is so complexed that I think it would take a fantastic storyteller like Aronofsky to properly do it. And after seeing The Fountain, I know he can make a visually stunning movie on next to nothing, something that Ronin might have to face.

Watchmen - I'm scared of this movie for several reasons. One, Alan Moore. His work is so amazing, but so often fucked up. I wrote a whole article about this a while back, but I'll repeat. He's written From Hell, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Constantine, and V for Vendetta. Now there's a special place in my heart for all these films but let's face it, they suck. Especially when compared to the graphic novels. Moore has a complex way of storytelling just like Miller. Well, even more so than Miller. I just don't want to see this one get messed up. And (here's reason two) the only reason I see it getting fucked up is because of Zac Snyder. One word: 300. Made a lot of cash, but sucked. The cast is pretty good however. And the pictures of the sets look straight out of the comic book. So I hope it turns out well. Oh God I hope so.

Sin City 2
- As long as Clive Owen comes back and Robert and Quentin keep doing what they're doing, then it's all good. I'm glad most of the cast has come back though. I like consistency in a series like this. Seeing someone play a character that's already been introduced by another actor is just weird.

More comic book rantings about the Marvel side in Part 2.

An Important Public Service Announcement

While watching TV the other night, I caught a commercial for a film set to be released this Friday, "Meet The Spartans". Now, I hadn't even heard of this film, but what I saw was beyond terrible. In fact, this was beyond plain-old "Norbit"-level terrible. This was one of those rare cinematic abortions that only hit once in a blue moon, like the coming of a comet.

Now, I would outline the plot of this film here, but see, from what I've gathered based on footage from the trailer and commercials, along with life experience (I'll get to that later), there is no plot. For those of you who've seen the "South Park" episode about "Family Guy", where the point is made that the latter show is nothing more than a bunch of non sequiturs haphazardly strung together...well, that's what "Meet The Spartans" looks like in a nutshell. Evidently, this is supposed to be a parody film, but the problem is, there is a way to do a parody film well, and many more ways to do one badly. Then, there is a way to create one so hideously awful that watching it could induce hemmoraging, liver failure and all other manner of terrible, terrible physical maladies.

Now, the point could be argued that since the film has yet to be released, I haven't seen it, and so am unqualified to comment upon how bad it is. However, I would like to negate that argument with two of my own.

1. Watch the trailer, and tell me with a straight face that this looks like a good movie.
2. The co-directors of this film are Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer, who were responsible for the recent parody films "Date Movie" and "Epic Movie".

Now, I have not seen "Spartans" or "Epic Movie", but I was unfortunate enough to see "Date Movie", and I can safely say that these two might be the worst directors in Hollywood today. And yes, I am making this statement with Uwe Boll in mind. They are just that bad at what they do. "Date Movie" was a series of awkward, desperately unfunny bits attempting to parody films that, after a while, failed to even stay within their theme. It was supposed to be a spoof of romantic comedies, and yet, there were (awful) jabs at "The Lord Of The Rings" and "Kill Bill", among others. Now, with "Spartans", they've used "300" as a template to parody anything and everything they can get at. The thing is, films like "Airplane!", and even the "Scary Movie" series, work because their comedy is not limited to incessant cross-referencing. The Bee Gees' "Stayin' Alive" kicking on in the middle of a seedy bar for a dance-off in "Airplane!" is funny. To compare, in "Date Movie" there is a sequence where they "poke fun" at "Wedding Crashers" by having a lame Owen Wilson lookalike pop into a scene and say "Is it too late to crash the wedding?" That's it. That's their entire joke. Does that sound lame to you? Now, imagine 90 minutes of those random, misguided attempts at humor, and you have "Date Movie". From what I was told, "Epic Movie" was more of the same, and now, we have "Meet The Spartans" on its way.

You may now be wondering why these films are allowed to exist, if they're really this bad? Easy. 20th Century Fox is run by shrewd, shrewd people, who know how to exploit audiences. All three of these films have been, or will be, released in either January or February. These are known in Hollywood as "dump months", the post-Oscar, pre-spring season where major studios dump off films that are almost always terrible, and are shoved into theaters to make some money and then be off the release schedule. The problem is, these hideous excuses for comedy make money. "Date Movie" and "Epic Movie" both debuted at #1 at the box office their release weekends, and went on to haul in total domestic grosses of $48.5 million and $39.7 million, respectively. By employing D-list actors, these movies cost next to nothing to make, and then make 40% or more of their total gross on their opening weekend, because this time of year, there's no competition.

In most cases, I can't do anything but rant in vain after such films have gotten away with the murder of quality filmmaking, but this time, I have a chance. Thus, I implore you, dear reader, do not pay to see "Meet The Spartans". It's not too late to fight the trend. Have plans for a film this weekend? How about "Juno", "Rambo", "Cloverfield" or any of the quality Oscar-caliber films still in release? I won't discriminate. For every ticket you don't buy, we are one step closer to getting rid of these travesties once and for all.

"Fuck orange..."

My old music doc teacher Ben Steger (well, he's not old, I just took the class a while ago) is making a documentary about Chicago's unofficial kick-ball league. He sent me a YouTube trailer of it thus far:

Dude, I've been telling people kickball was the shit! And this trailer proves it. I wish I could be on this team, but I think my kicking abilities aren't as hardcore as these people. But I think I could definitely party with them. Check out the MySpace for it too.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

OK, so this is not really a FILM per se, and it's not even released yet (expected release date 3.8.09) but I love the entire concept, so you get to hear about it. In fact, I liked the idea so much I signed up as an "Executive Producer" !!! (Fine, so anyone who donates $1 will be listed as a producer in the credits.)

I ran across the trailer for it at www.oneredpaperclip.com and decided to get in touch to see if I could volunteer in anyway, besides donating $1. The director gets back to me, and we talk on the phone for almost 2 hours! He tells me all about the birth of the concept, where they are now, and the long-term, 5-phase plan. You can read all about it at www.the1secondfilm.com (and you can even join my crew if you donate under my producer page at www.the1secondfilm.com/producer/8875)

The long and short of it is that the director, Nirvan Mullick, started the idea while in school to celebrate the amount of effort it takes to create one second of animation. The entire film will be just ONE SECOND long! How freakin' cool is that?! OK, I'm getting carried away, I know, but I am thrilled about it! And the goal is to have the largest collaboration in history, so all the people who donate even a buck to help finance it will be listed in the credits.

How long will the credits be? you ask. Long. They're saying it will take roughly one and a half hours to run all the credits, during which they play a "making of" documentary about all the people that have helped create this collaborative project. A way to get people involved, make it big and grass-roots at the same time (my words, not his) and do something they all love, which is make art and film. It's inspiring me to start painting all my walls and make my own one second film... but I need 20 more walls to get started... Any ideas?

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Stupid Movies I Can't Help Watching.

Sometimes a movie (usually a comedy) is so dumb you can't help but love it. You love it so much you watch it again and again for that build up to that one part that made you feel this cinematic excursion had not been a complete and total waste of money.

Maybe I am alone on this one but there are some movies that do that for me. Most of them full of vulgarity and raunchy humor, with one of my favorite actors smack in the thick of it. I am trying to pick my brain as to the mass appeal of movies like "Zoolander" and "Old School" and why I am drawn to them like a moth to a flame.

Me. The Horror Geek.

(I don't know the answer. Sure I love romance and drama, and they all have their time and place with me. But, I am a grown up and more intelligent than this, right?)

Tom Hanks (in my mind) used to be the king of these types of movies. "The Burb's" (with Carrie Fisher and Corey Feldman) typifies what I am saying here.

Here is a movie with big stars (at that time) and no running worth whatsoever. I mean, come on. The next door neighbors move into the creepy house across the street and people start turning up missing and there is this big hullabaloo about how people in the suburbs go nuts from all the boring normalcy and day to day blah blah.

This movie is about nosy people that need to get lives. It is strained, plodding and really silly at some parts. And I love it. Because, well most of the time when it does come on there is nothing else to watch. (MOTH TO FLAME, AGAIN)

No, "The Burbs" is not "Citizen Kane" or "The Silence of the Lambs", but it is campy fun. And sometimes a person does not want to think.

Top 5 movies to not think to:


4. "Bad Santa"

3. "Old School"

2. "Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back"

1. "Caddyshack" (part 1)

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Top 20 of 2007

Though I realize this is about three weeks late now, I figured it's better late than never to throw up my year-end best-of list. So, without further ado, my top 20 films of 2007.

20. Before The Devil Knows You're Dead

19. Southland Tales

18. I Am Legend

17. Charlie Wilson's War

16. The Brave One

15. The Mist

14. Black Snake Moan

13. Shoot 'Em Up

12. There Will Be Blood

11. The King Of Kong: A Fistful Of Quarters

10. Michael Clayton

9. Once

8. The Diving Bell & The Butterfly

7. Grindhouse

6. Superbad

5. Gone Baby Gone

4. Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber Of Fleet Street

3. Wristcutters: A Love Story

2. No Country For Old Men

1. Into The Wild

Honorable Mentions: "I'm Not There", "Paris Je T'aime", "Zodiac", "Enchanted", "Breach", "Juno", "Rocket Science", "Transformers"

Monday, January 14, 2008


"What does a scanner see? Into the head? Into the heart?"

Based on the novel by Phillip K. Dick, "A Scanner Darkly" stars Keanu Reeves, Rory Cochrane, Robert Downey Jr., Woody Harrelson, & Wynona Ryder in graphic novel style animation that lends an other wordly feel to a film that is set 7 years from now.

In this future, over 20% of the population is hooked on an illegal narcotic called (mysteriously enough) 'Substance D'. What does Substance D do? Basically, it makes you paranoid. Add to that the fact that the government monitors ever citizen, every movement and even every phone call constantly, what else could you be?

Keanu Reeves stars as Bob Arctor a cop and drug addict whose identity is a secret even to his superiors. Bob's friends (Downey Jr., Harrelson, Cochrane) are all addicted to Substance D as well. His friend Barris (Downey Jr.) suspects that Bob is a narc. Bob's girlfriend is Donna Hawthorne (Wynona Ryder) and she won't let him touch her for reasons not clear to us until maybe near the end. They all hang out at Bob's house under heavy watch by the police. When Bob is assigned to spy on himself, his personality begins to split under the pressure. The situation becomes dire for him.

I almost felt like you needed a split personality to watch this film. In reality, this might have worked as a live action movie, but as it is animated and darkly shaded in some scenes the movie as a feel of looking out a muddy window and seeing a world ideally close to our own. Also prevelent in the film as in Dick's novels was the what is real vs what is not real theme.

As Bob struggles with himself and reality, we see it all stripped from him, and it is in a sense like a death. But, death can be the beginning of something else.

Thankfully, in this film, Keanu does not save the world. I am sick of movies where Keanu saves the world. The theme of this film may very well be a world to far away from saving. Instead we see a man trying not to lose himself between what is real and what is not and failing. Indeed, probably the best picture Reeves has ever done.

Zeitgeist v. My Relatives

So I was MySpace creeping some of my friends out of boredom when I came across this "trailer" on my friend's page:

Holy crap, if I showed this to my relatives, they would disown me for good. But it looks like a really interesting documentary. The website doesn't have a lot of information about the release and everything, but I would totally go see it. How can you show the origin of so many prophet stories through old astrological calendars? So many questions going through my head now! I need to know more!

New Year, New Livewire

Well it's a little past the New Year. Like, fourteen days past the New Year. Regardless, Livewire has made some changes.

Like, having new writers! Now along with me writing, I've recruited Dominick and Rage (a.k.a. Jackie), whose work is already on the blog. Cassandra and Alex have also been to the Livewire team, and their articles are hopefully coming soon. I'm very excited. Now it feels like a real website, not just my rantings and ravings about film. So, expect more postings. Especially from me, because I have been slacking off.


{Brief introduction: Hi, my name is Jackie. Call me Rage. Amy has invited me to write on this blog.}

For thirty years, the film INCUBUS was lost in a vault in France. Starring a young William Shatner, it is the only film made entirely in the artificial language of Esperanto. Funding from the Sci-Fi channel helped restore this cult classic to its former full length glory as it had seen better days.

Directed by Leslie Stevens who is famed for shooting TVs (The Outer Limits) and shot by cinemetographer Conrad L. Hall (Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, American Beauty), it is the story of a beautiful she-demon named Kia (played by Allyson Ames) who has grown sick and tired of taking the souls of corrupt men. She is young, exuberant and bored with her life. So she demands a real challenge and sets out to seduce the purist soul she can find. That soul being Marc (played by William Shatner).

Her older sister (played by Eloise Hardt) is very dismayed and warns Kia not to try and seduce a pure soul. Such an attempt would leave her open to a power she could not possibly fathom or defeat---the power of love.

Long story short, Kia does fall in love with Marc and Marc falls held over heels for Kia. Forcing the older sisters hand, the Incubus is summoned (played by Milos Milos) to seduce Marc's sister (played by Ann Atmar).

In the end, love does seem to conquer all. Or perhaps not. It seems this movie came with a curse.

Ann Atmar committed suicide a few weeks after this film wrapped.

Milo Milos killed his lover and then himself in the following year.

The director's production company went bankrupt and his marriage would end in divorce 3 weeks later.

What to think of all this?

Well, the movie shot in black and white was rendered beautifully. The story seemed to hurried at some points, everything seemed to happen so fast. Boy meets girl. Girl tries to steal his soul. Girl falls in love trying, etc., etc. you get my drift.

All in all it is not the best movie I have ever seen, but among cult classics it is a gem.

The movie, if you can find it, is worth renting. So, see it for your self and all the interesting special reatures that come with it.

Note: Beware of the curse of the Incubus. I hit my toe after watching this movie last night. And it still hurts.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

What's Wrong With The Golden Globes (2008 Edition)

(As a brief introduction, hi. I'm Dominick, and Amy's bought me on to write on the blog as well. That's all the time I'll spend on that tact.)

The Golden Globe Awards, though cut short due to the WGA strike, were revealed by way of a press conference tonight. Now, for the most part, I've always liked the Globes better for two reasons. For one, by dividing most categories into Drama and then Comedy/Musical, a lot more films share the nomination love. Also, you get a lot of films with the Globes that would never get near the Academy Awards, purely because the Academy Awards seem to only like three kinds of movies: period epics, big-name-actor-centric films, and generally movies so depressing you want to kill yourself after leaving the theater. Even the comedies like "Little Miss Sunshine" and "Sideways" that have garnered nominations in recent years haven't exactly been rays of sunshine (however, I love both those films, so don't take that the wrong way, but come on. Also, no pun intended.)

This year, the Globes mostly nailed the good nominees, but there were a few gaping omissions. First off, where the hell was "Into The Wild"? Easily one of the best movies of 2007, "Wild" was up for two Globes, under "Best Original Score" and "Best Song". That's just criminal, plain and simple. Also, glad as I am that "No Country For Old Men" is getting so much attention, Javier Bardem was not, contrary to popular belief, the only actor in that movie. Josh Brolin should've been up for best actor, bar none. My biggest gripe, however, is that under Best Picture for a Musical or Comedy, according to the HFPA, "Across The Universe" and "Hairspray" were more deserving of a high nomination than "Knocked Up" or "Superbad". I can live with "Hairspray", it was a fun watch, but "Across The Universe"? Was this really better than the Apatow comedies? I know there are a lot of people in this world that suckle at the almighty teat of the Beatles, but enough already. This was a half hour too long, took itself far more seriously than was warranted and only developed the characters as far as "Hey! They're named after the songs! They represent the War, man!" The fact is, if you really want two hours of disaffected hipsters in the 1960s doing drugs, go rent "Fear & Loathing In Las Vegas". It's a far better film that doesn't waste its time pontificating about how love was what everyone really needed during that period.

(deep breath)

Alright, that's enough about the nominees, let's move on to the actual winners. Now, for the most part, I'm with these. While I liked "Juno" (if not as much as everyone else and their brother) and "Charlie Wilson's War", "Sweeney Todd" was the best film in the category. Also, Johnny Depp winning Best Actor was dead on. Tom Hanks has been here too many times before, and the rest just weren't on Depp's level. I've heard "La Vie En Rose" was good, but I haven't seen it; however, I won't comment on Best Actress for Musical/Comedy because my total adoration for Ellen Page bars me from judging properly. Under Drama, Best Picture is by far my greatest issue, so I'll get to that later, but for the actors, Daniel Day-Lewis played the hell out of his psychotic oil baron in "There Will Be Blood", and he's the man to beat come Oscar time. I'm still for Clooney, though, his work in "Michael Clayton" was his most likable in years. Best Actress was a weak category this year, and I haven't seen "Away From Her", so I won't touch upon that one.

For the Supporting Actor/Actress awards, though, good calls all around. Show me somebody who's going to beat Javier Bardem as Anton Chigurh, and I'll show you somebody with a lot of false hopes about to be crushed. For Supporting Actress, Cate Blanchett was a better Bob Dylan than I think Dylan himself could have been in "I'm Not There". Amy Ryan was great in "Gone Baby Gone", but this is Blanchett's year.

Now, on to my one major issue with the Globes this year. "Atonement" claimed Best Drama. Am I the only person in America who thought this movie really wasn't that good? It was worth watching, yes, but really, it was the most blatant piece of formulaic Oscar bait since "Cold Mountain". It followed the formula to a T: Take a previously nominated director, working with source material from a reputed novel (bonus points for the source novel being English), add a pair of attractive leads rocking accents, and a tragic romance set in a dark time period, and Voila!, rave reviews and glowing nominations all around. Now, I think this movie had its high points (it's a shoo-in for Best Cinematography based on the Dunkirk shot alone), and again, it wasn't hideous. However, it was up against three better films, and just isn't a film that I think people will be raving about years from now. "No Country For Old Men", "There Will Be Blood" and "Michael Clayton" all deserved this award more. "No Country" and "Blood" were based upon novels by Great American Authors, so they had the same pedigree as "Atonement", and "Clayton" was easily the best-written thriller in years. I don't know, maybe it's the fact that (spoiler warning) the entire plot of "Atonement" is based upon the 1920s equivalent of a Penthouse letter and a series of sitcom-level misunderstandings that doesn't sit right with me.

We'll revisit this discussion when the Academy Award nominations come out on February 4th. Here's hoping the ceremony still happens.

(A brief aside: "The Diving Bell & The Butterfly" won Best Foreign Film. If you haven't seen it, please do. It's the best-kept secret in theatres right now.)