Thursday, February 28, 2008

Scarlett the New Spider from Mars?

Yet another movie star makes a transition to rock and roll as Scarlett Johanssen put on her finishing touches on her tribute album to Tom Waits entitled Anywhere I Lay My Head. At first I was skeptical of this move. I love Scar Jo (yeah, I did that) and I respect Tom Waits. But her singing abilities? Questionable. But then the most amazing mock-alien ever David Bowie said this about her recent album:
"The songs are great, really good Tom Waits stuff, and Scarlett's performances are mystical and twice cool...She creates a mood that could have been summoned by someone like Margery Latimer or Jeanette Winterson."

Bowie backs her on two tracks, "Falling Down" and "Fannin Street." If Bowie says it's cool, then it must be cool. Bowie + Waits + Scar Jo = the most beautiful baby ever, depending on if it gets Tom Waits's looks or not...

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

A Day At The AMC Oscar Showcase

The following article was initially published in the DePaul University newspaper:

Last Saturday, the AMC River East 21 theater, in conjunction with other major AMC theaters around the country, held a showcase of all five Best Picture Oscar nominees. The films were run marathon-style, at a length of twelve hours total. I went with two friends, and logged my time there. Now, for those of you with less time on your hands, here’s what it’s like to spend an entire day in a movie theater (warning: plot spoilers ahead):

11:00 – “Michael Clayton” begins. We haven’t yet boarded the El.

11:25 – The announcement comes over the El that the Red Line is on elevated tracks today. Well, this sucks. The Grand stop is the only fast route to this theater.

11:50 – We get off at State and walk the rest of the way, and arrive to find that the theater, to our surprise, is packed. Front row seats and neck pain for us.

12:20 – Tom Wilkinson’s character gets killed. He’s really good in this. It’s a shame he has no chance at winning the Oscar.

12:40 – My friend was kind enough to fill her purse with enough contraband food to last us the entire day. Can the human body subsist on Mike & Ikes? Let’s find out.

1:00 – One movie down. I’ve seen it before, but it’s still pretty good. Most people are talking about the other movies coming later in the day. Not a good sign for its Oscar chances.

1:20 – “There Will Be Blood” begins. We get slightly better seats. Two rows back, but hey.

1:40 – Daniel Day-Lewis in this part = Gold.

2:00 – I leave to pick up a tripod from the CTI building.

2:40 – Fun Fact: People stare at you like you’re a freak when you sprint down Michigan Avenue with a tripod around your back.

3:00 – I’m back. Daniel Plainview just killed his brother, and we’re now on to the awesome part of the movie.

3:40 – The guy’s drooling, screaming about milkshakes and killing a man with a bowling pin. The ending to this movie might be the coolest thing I’ve ever seen.

4:00 – Second movie over. Nobody gets it. Loud-talking girls behind me start yelling about how excited they are for “Juno” later. Ugh.

4:20 – “Atonement” begins. Friends hid the tripod a row down so as to make me flip out. Not cool. Also, we upgrade seats again.

4:40 – This entire movie looks like a perfume commercial.

5:00 – Apparently, when you write steamy letters, you get convicted as a rapist and sent to fight in wars. Am I the only person who finds this a logic jump? Anyone?

5:20 – So the whole movie’s about the little girl? I hate her. And thus, I greatly dislike the movie. Fantastic visuals, though.

5:40 – The already-classic Dunkirk one-take shot. For a film geek, this is nirvana.

6:20 – Third movie over. Okay, it picks up somewhat in the third act, but this was better than “Into The Wild” or “Sweeney Todd” how, exactly?

6:40 – We now get a dinner break. Time for Chipotle. We’re almost out of overpriced Country Market food.

7:00 – “Juno” begins. My friends and I enjoy burritos in the theater. I need to do this more often...

7:30 – I came into this open-minded, but I still don’t get why this is apparently the best thing ever.

7:50 - The above statement still applies, but I think I’m in love with Ellen Page. Me and about a million other people. Sigh...

8:10 – I’m one of two people in the theater to laugh at a Sonic Youth joke. Double sigh...

8:30 – Alright, the ending is adorable. However, still not the amazing movie it’s being made out to be. Still better than “Atonement” though. Seriously, that movie was terribly mediocre.

9:00 – They saved the best for last. “No Country For Old Men” begins. This is now my fourth time seeing this in theaters.

9:10 – My friend swoons over Chigurh. I start getting very scared.

9:30 – Javier Bardem is absolutely horrifying in this. The Prince Valiant haircut just adds to it.

9:40 – Every time I see this, I marvel a little more at how Josh Brolin is pretty much a descendant of MacGyver in this movie. He can do anything with any random assortment of objects. Also, he was Brand in “The Goonies”. Double points.

10:05 – Woody Harrelson pops up.

10:20 – Woody Harrelson dies. That was short-lived.

10:30 – Brolin’s dead too. Ah, time for the uber-anticlimax. I’m waiting for the
audience to be pissed.

10:40 – I love how the entire audience shouts expletives in fright every time Chigurh appears onscreen.

10:50 – Tommy Lee Jones looks like my grandfather, I swear to God. Also, having read the book this was based on, he was the perfect guy for this part. The audience is starting to ask what’s going on.

11:00 – The last film of the day ends. That’s still the best movie of the films nominated. As it’s been at the other screenings, people are either preaching its brilliance as we leave, or complaining about the ending. I still say it symbolically fits.

11:15 – We leave the theater. It’s really late, and I couldn’t be more satisfied at having spent my Saturday in this fashion.

Monday, February 25, 2008

About Last Night . . .

The 80th annual Academy award show came and went. Did anyone see it? Does anybody care?

Well, I RAGE, bka from now on Jacqueline, watched the show was pleasantly surprised and flabbergasted at the same time by how everything drowned on and on and on . . .

Hollywood's elite, the cream of the crop, voted in a secret process to see who gets Oscar. I was pleasantly suprised to see Tilda Swinton win Best supporting actor. Even thought i had not seen the movie Michael Clayton, I did love her in Orlando and Constantine. It was called Europes night at the Oscars because most of the winners where European. What a drag for America.

I cannot wait to see No Country for Old Men and American Ganster; The diving Bell and the Butterfly, Sweeney Todd, and maybe Michael Clayton if I am bored.

So, the question is left : Jacqueline why did you watch the Oscars if you don't even know about any of the movies or nominations?

Well, I snubbed the Oscars the year of Brokeback Mountain. I didn't watch it, and I missed the moment of lifetime when 3 Six Mafia won for best song. Did you see Barbara Streisand's face all scrunch up and uncomfortable on live TV that year? I saw it on the news--man i could have seen that stuff live.

Oh I live for that kind of funny haha. Hollywood's elite at there finest and most human. hm.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Film Review: Altered

These past few days have been sunny, clear and bitterly cold. I got up Monday and made a beeline to my local video store. I have a tendency to spend hours in video stores just making a choice on what not to get.

Sometimes I surprise myself and find something really good that completely escaped my radar. Sometimes I find something that really sucks and is a waste of my time and money.

The video store is like a game of craps. 7 and 11 will get you great entertainment. But, with all the straight to video releases out there, most of the time all I get is snake eyes.

But enough about me.

Altered is a movie brought to video by one of the writers of the Blair Witch Project. Not the most genius of films was the Blair Witch Project (3 people screaming at nothing and each other in the dark woods), but it did start a cult phenomenon that even I bought into at one point.

Altered (written by Jamie Nash) is about a group of five men whose lives were changed drastically when they were all abducted by aliens as children. Only four of them remain, fifteen years later, and they are bound together by revenge on those that ruined them.

Altered is a well written story and beautifully acted out scene for scene by actors I have never heard of. I was pleasantly surprised. Yes, I was entertained.

Adam Kaufman plays Wyatt, a member of the group of abductees who physiology was permanently altered by the alien abductors at age fifteen. He knows that where there is one there is more. He knows how they think and he knows they can't keep the alien they just captured without triggering an invasion.

So what was once a personal battle becomes a fight to save the human race in one beat. Gotta love those sci fi plot twists. This movie is not for everyone. It is full of violence, lotsa gore and pervasive language. Which means (unlike the Blair Witch Project) you see everything in its awful glory.

The special effects and creature effects were ok. Nothing to slam or shout about. It was the story and the actors that kept me interested. I took them seriously because they were believable. Some situations warrant that.

So how does it end? Not telling. The movie was too much fun to give spoilers out like hot cakes. Lets just say, the threat is over for now. mwuhahahaha.

Just kidding.

Gotham Knights

I'm a huge nerd. When my friend Cory texted me about Batman: Gotham Knights, I squealed like a pig in a trash heap. DC Comics is putting out six animated shorts by Japanese directors and American comic book writers (think Ani-Matrix) that supposedly tie together Batman Begins and The Dark Knight. I've only found the offical DC release plug for it on Batman On Film, but it's also on YouTube:

It looks pretty awesome. I'm pretty pumped. Scratch that, really pumped. There's some concept drawings of Batman done by the different artists on the video, as well as some drawings of the villians featured in the shorts. Scarecrow, Killer Croc, and Deadshot. Motherflippin' Deadshot. It should make for a good DVD. The graphic novelization of it comes out in April, while the actual DVD is projected for June. I found a picture of the graphic novel cover somewhere online, but now I can't find it. Honestly, I can't wait until June. Too much good stuff is coming out this summer.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Ten Reasons Why You Need To Rent "Tremors"

1. Kevin Bacon has a near-mullet. Not quite a Billy Ray Cyrus mullet, as there are government warning plans designed to go into action as soon as such a mullet exists again, but impressive nonetheless.

2. The movie does for the ground what "Jaws" does for water. With the upcoming film "The Ruins" featuring murderous foliage, we now only need a movie about killer air to render the population terrified of all the elements.

3. Big worms killing people is fun. Big worms being shot with elephant guns is potentially more fun than sex.

4. Reba McEntire plays one half of a couple that owns more guns than Charlton Heston. Somewhere, the NRA smiles.

5. Midway through the film, there is an inexplicable pole vaulting montage, which begins with the token hot chick declaring "Y'ALLKNOWHOWTAPOLEVALT!?!?!"

6. A little girl's pogo stick gets eaten, only to be thrown back up, because apparently, even gigantic killer earthworms do not approve of the 1980s and its trends.

7. Kevin Bacon, after causing a giant worm to break its own skull on concrete, declares "Fuck you!" with what might be the greatest inflection in cinematic history.

8. The evil worm in the poster/on the DVD cover and the actual worms in the movie are two entirely different types of evil worms.

9. The townspeople fling dynamite at the worm. The worm flings it back. Most. Badass. Hot Potato Game. Ever.

10. If you don't see this, your "Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon" skills will be sorely lacking, and frankly, that's just unacceptable.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Film Review: The Invasion

Imagine a world were human beings ceased being human. No war, no crimes against nature, against god or man. A world with 'no other' to make war against.

Now, imagine how frightening it would be if that happened over night. This is the world in the science fiction thriller, 'The Invasion' starring Nicole Kidman as mother and psychiatrist Dr. Carol Bennell.

Having seen Heston in the Invasion of the Body Snatchers and Donald Sutherland in the 1970s film of the same name, I have to say that I am rather impressed with this updated remake.

This is a film that has always questioned the worth of humanity. The Invasion is a cleverly rendered slice of sub context when one considers the previous heroes of this tale were men. Nicole Kidman plays the part of a postmodern feminist working mother so consumed with her own problems she hardly notices the creepy changes happening to the people around her. But the viewer does.

Carol Bennell (Kidman) is a "type A independent modern woman" who is afraid of losing that independence in every way. She has her work, her son, and her world in perfect working order.
And at every moment the viewer see it crumbling around her as she loses her friends, her world and slowly her mind.

{I don't like to induce spoilers into this blog. So I won't. }

Like in previous movies, the invasion occurs when one falls asleep. Unlike previous movies there are no stupid Giant pea pods. The alien entity is a viral spore that moves from person to person. Once the infected is asleep a fungal shell covers the face and skin. Once they wake up, they have all their memories, faculties, and no emotions. They find others to infect and infect them.

Because her son is immune to the virus (the invasion), the human race has a chance if only Kidman's character can stay awake long enough to keep the boy from being killed. The movie becomes a story about how far a woman will go to protect her son, rather than just keep her independence.

The Invasion shows us that a person is more than just human when you peel back all the layers. Yes, human beings are capable of great violence and inflicting terrible atrocities on one another. But we are also capable of the antithesis of those actions: love, kindness, caring, sheer humanity, etc.


Side note: I would like to dedicate this blog to NIU. I have been thinking about the atrocity that occured there for a while now. I went there a long time ago and experienced humanity at its worst. However, I would not wish or want death to occur to anyone there now. When you peel back the layers sometimes I think everyone is a victim at one time or another. SO I dedicate this to the survivors and families of the deceased in the hope that they will continue to be just that. Survivors.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

In Bruges

"If I'd grown up on a farm and was retarded, Bruges might impress me, but I didn't, so it doesn't."

When this movie was brought up for a night out, I hadn't any idea what I was in for. I was so sure it wasn't going to impress me like Bruges didn't impress Ray (Farrell). Although while in line to purchase tickets, I was reading one of those promotional cutouts. The writer/director is Martin McDonagh. MARTIN MCDONAGH! The British playwright who wrote Queen of Leenane, and my all time favorite play The Pillowman! At that moment, I was all smiles and all tingles in my toes. This man made me laugh at a child getting crucified. Who laughs at something like that? For those who try to achieve black humor and fail, its because there is lack of something that McDonagh has figured out. And of course its horrible. Its not like there isn't remorse and disgust in the pieces, but its something that keeps the plot going and the audience engrossed.

“In Bruges” is a dark tale about two hit men who hide out in medieval town in Belgium waiting for their boss to give them their next step after a difficult hit. Brendan Gleason and Colin Farrell are simply great together. I haven’t seen all of their movies, but even so, I would go as far to say as these being one of their highlight performances. Farrell’s party pooper antics compared to Gleason’s tourist and informative guidebook lectures are enough to make you sit there and watch intently. And believe, Farrell has barely kept people aware of anything other than his looks and finally his performance took over! I couldn’t stop calling him by his characters name, Ray, during discussions.

I do admit when the film first started and all of the B-roll from around town played on the screen that a feeling of insecurity was creeping up my spine. It turns out that Bruges is a character all its own. Not to mention, once McDonagh’s dialogue began to come alive, that is when I became entirely engrossed! It came alive the first syllable. He does black comedy so well and is a natural at storytelling (which of course many films right now are lacking). Remember the saying your grandmother used to recite while cleaning up messes: a place for everything and everything in its place? I would use that to describe his storytelling. Even if you doubt that this one thing won’t come back later, you’re wrong.

I would love to say more about it, but you’ll have to see it.

"We named the dog Indiana..."

I am pumped for the new Indiana Jones movie, despite the presense of Shia LaBeouf. I hate that kid. Every time I see him, I just think of that Disney Channel show Even Stevens. Any ways, putting aside douche LaBeouf and how old Harrison Ford looks/is, I still want to see my favorite hero grace the silver screen again. And lo and behold, the wonderful duo of Spielberg and Lucas released the official trailer just a couple of days ago. You can see it here on the official site. YouTube has a bunch of fake trailers, so don't bother going there yet.

May I say, it looks like the bombdiggity. Pardon my slang. There are a couple parts where I'm questioning the greatness of Indiana. Like the CG parts. I don't know, I just love the originals and knowing that Harrison Ford's too old to actually ride super fast on a motorcycle is kind of upsetting. The Last Crusade, Temple of Doom, and Raiders look so good without green screen and the fancy tools we have know. Just give me a little melting wax head action and I'm solid. But you got to update the hero for the modern audience.

Either way, May is going to rock for movies. Batman, Indy, Iron Man...why isn't it summer yet? I'm sick of this shitty Chicago weather...

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Great Soundtracks: "Grosse Pointe Blank"

(Note: This is the first in what will hopefully be an ongoing series.)

For me, the film soundtrack has always been one of the most important aspects of a movie. Be it a score or a compilation of songs, the music backing a film can make or break it. However, it is my firm belief that the best film soundtracks are those that not only take pre-existing songs and give them new definition, but perhaps turn the audience on to music they've never heard before. Every so often, I'll be taking a look at essential film soundtracks. Before I begin, I'd like to make note of two rules with this: I won't be tackling scores, because I've never taken theory and wouldn't know thing one about describing what makes orchestral pieces good, and I also discount any musicals based on pre-existing stage shows, because the music wasn't put together explicitly for the film.

In trying to find soundtracks for this article, I considered which stuck with me, and I kept coming back to one above all others. The soundtrack for the 1997 John Cusack film "Grosse Pointe Blank" is easily one of the best I've ever heard, and really, it's doubtful a lot of people have heard it. This is mostly due to the fact that this is the "forgotten" Cusack movie, next to his classics such as "Say Anything", "High Fidelity" and even "Better Off Dead". However, the genre-bending this film pulls off (equal parts assassin movie, romantic comedy and violent action film) has been re-used over and over again in the 11 years since its release.

The soundtrack is perfectly fit to the plot, for it follows Cusack's assassin as he returns home for his 10-year high school reunion, and reunites with the girl he ditched on prom night (Minnie Driver), who has gone on to become a local rock radio DJ. Because of this, the film flashes back to the best rock, and especially punk, of the late 1980s. One sequence, in which Cusack and Driver sit in the balcony like wallflowers watching the dance below, is scored to Pete Townshend's "Let My Love Open The Door (To Your Heart)", which for my money is one of the best rock ballads ever recorded. Also, the final shot of the film is set to the perfect climactic song: Johnny Nash's "I Can See Clearly Now".

Don't think that the soundtrack is all mellow ballads, though. Driver's DJ has impeccable taste, spinning the Clash's "Rudie Can't Fail" and the Specials' "Pressure Drop", among others. Another standout is the rousing "El Matador" by Los Fabulosos Cadillacs (used, appropriately, in "The Matador" a decade later), which scores a violent fight sequence. Also, the Violent Femmes' "Blister In The Sun" appears twice on the soundtrack (one is a remix), years before it became used to hock Wendys hamburgers.

Given that the story is about trying to find redemption while doing an unredeemable job, the presence of the David Bowie/Queen collaboration "Under Pressure" is necessary, with its frantic plea of "Why can't we give ourselves one more chance?" Or, for that matter, in "Pressure Drop": "Oh, all that pressure's gonna drop on you". Finally, the romantic aspect of the film is captured within the line in "Rudie Can't Fail", where Joe Strummer declares that "I went to the market to realize my soul, 'cause what I need, I just don't have".

Most likely, this won't be the only Cusack film that I eventually break down the soundtrack album for (a column on "High Fidelity" will probably pop up sooner or later), but this is the one I had to give the edge to. From both a hip perspective and a thematic one, the music of "Grosse Pointe Blank" is, no pun intended, dead on.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Passion, Power, Moves!

OK. So. I just finished watching Step Up and the groves are still making my heart beat a little faster. The beats, the rhythm, the classically-trained string instruments and hip-hop. I don't know where to begin. I could barely figure out to spell rhythm. Rythm. Rythym. Rithym. OK, so I finally got it.

First, the characters. I don't know 'bout you, but I believed it. I believed every second of it. The friends, the brothers, the thugs. Yeah, I know. I know. You're going to say that it's all the same, every high school talent movie, all the players, all the roles. But even if thats true (which I'm not saying it isn't), this one had heart. Soul. Something.

Sure, precocious, talented high school kids playing precocious, talented high school kids. What's to go wrong? But there are always things that can go wrong. Acting is not about just knowing the lines, right; we all know that. It's about how we feel watching it, not just do we believe them, but do we FEEL them? Do we want them to work out their issues, make things happen, make "it" happen, whatever that "it" may be. And here, I submit that the answer is YES. With an exclamation point. (!) (Like that.) God dammit, I even stood up and cheered. Am I the only one in the house that clapped? (and cried?)

Not bad. Not bad, at all for a MTV-style movie: young, fast, and lots packed in. But I give it the thumbs up. AND, I'll probably make my way over to the local theater to see the sequel on or about Valentine's Day, when Step Up 2 premiers. Yes, a cheesy "date movie," but any guy that brings his sweetheart to this movie is making a good move ;)

Oh oui, Frenchy.

I just cannot wait until "Be Kind, Rewind"! My friend posted this on my myspace page. Its a bit awkward reading that sentence.

AH! Michel Gondry just rocks. If I do get to have the film-making career I hope I have, the only thing that I aspire to do is to have fun through my characters. Make sense? I think it does. And one thing that still has everything to do with Gondry is that I won't have a hissy fit when theres a reflection on glass and not have a fit when the camera is right there in the reflection. Who doesn't notice that? "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" had a light, camera, and the camera man right in the window! It does create a surreal feeling though I didn't catch it until the 3rd time I saw it. It is one of the few movies that I can watch over and over again and not become exhausted by the repeatition. Amazing.

I can't wait to see this movie. This is my pre-thought on "Be Kind, Rewind".

Friday, February 8, 2008

Josh Hartnett: Dark, Mysterious, Not Killing Aliens

Special Note: Welcome Cara, our new writer!

I love film noir. Maybe it's the lighting, or maybe it's the characters, but either way once I see a dark street with a solitary light onscreen, my heart swoons. And I love the recent resurgence of the noir style. David Lynch, Sin City, Brick, all of them are bringing noir back. Noir is just this great facet of cinema that everyone can relate to. The hero, somewhat likable but with problems of his own, overcomes the harrowing obstacles put forth by gangsters, society, women, or his own mind. The lines can be cheesy, even the whole film can be cheesy, but it's the overall aesthetic of a noir film that draws you in.

Josh Hartnett, surprisingly, has been a great addition to the neo-noir genre. Sin City, The Black Dahlia Murders, and even the action film Lucky Number Slevin (more of a pulp film than a noir film) have featured Hartnett in pseudo-noir roles. And he's so good! This is way past the sex-deprived maniac in 40 Days and 40 Nights. I think it's his voice that really makes him fit. It's very deep and gruff, but still capable of sounding warm and responsive. It's like Bogart's voice. Bogart could seem rough and tough when fighting the Nazis, but warm and caring when speaking to Ilsa. Hartnett has the same inflexion in his voice. I haven't seen him in 30 Days of Night, so I can't vouch for the noir-isms in that movie, but definitely in The Black Dahlia Murders does he nail that voice. Sometimes his voice is so low, it's hard to tell exactly what he is saying. But it's the tone that conveys the feeling.

Why doesn't he do more of this!? I really do like him as an actor, but he tends to either land fantastic roles or really shitty ones. I'm looking at his IMDB entry right now, and the one film I Come with the Rain, a foreign film about a cop who goes to Hong-Kong to find a missing billionaire, looks really interesting. End-Zone, another generic college sports film, looks stupid. Josh, just find me somewhere and we'll make the next La BĂȘte Humaine. Stop making shitty teen movies! Unless they're shitty teen movies where you kill Jon Stewart with a coke pen.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Film Review: Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon

No. I haven't seen anything new yet. I have either been snowed in or at work. Adding to all that I have a cold.

So once again, I have to fish in my pile of movies to find some entertainment. What did I find? Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon.

Who is Leslie Vernon? Why, he is the heir apparent. The next Voorhees, Myers, and Krueger all in one. He is a pyscho with a sense of humor and a high respect for the business of mass murder.

Leslie Vernon (played flawlessly by Nathan Baesel) invites a documentary film crew to follow him as he stalks his latest victims and plots his next slaughter. He is meticulous, thoughtful and fun to be around. Until, the actual killings begin. Then, he is all business.

The movie also stars Robert Englund as Leslie's gun toting pyschiatrist Doc Halloran. Englund's character is reminiscent of Donald Pleasance as Halloween's Sam Loomis and is a person who must stop Leslie at all costs.

Also starring Zelda Rubenstein (Potergeist) and Angela Goethals (of TVs 24) with a cameo by Kane Hodder, this film perked my spirits, and made me laugh. The performances in turn are necessarily over the top when certain situations call for it.

I enjoyed the Documentary style beginning, and how we are drawn into this character's world as a casual observer. We don't find a scarred, demonic, meglomaniacal indiviual in Leslie Vernon. He is just like everyone else. His whole point in life was to provide a counterbalance to all that is good and pure. He is not crazy or posessed. It is his choice. Sad, and demented, but true. He found his path and is walking it with pride.

As creepy as that observation sounds, the film is funny and entertaining in the way that the Scream Films were. The viewer is put into the position of watching a train wreck slowly happen before there eyes and being unable to stop it. Most slasher films are like that. This one takes things a step further as you are able to imagine what it is like to be in Leslie Vernon's shoes.

I mean, at one point, before the carnage, the guy is actually crying with tears of joy because he is about to realize his dream of becoming this mythic horror icon.

So what do we need in order to become a psycho killer:

1. Virgin. The Virgin is necessary. She is the one that gets away so your myth can go on.

2. Ahab. Just like the mythical white whale Moby Dick, you must have someone obsessed with stopping you. He/she knows you like the back of there own hand and they are out for your blood.

3. Cardio. A good killer is a fit killer. A guy has to work out if he is going to just walk after someone who is running a million miles away from them.

4. no one gets away (with the exception of the virgin).

5. Just watch the damn movie. I highly suggest it for my film school friends who are writing this blog with me. They will have more to say about it than I would.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Blueprints of what is being built: a short plea to consider the old and aging

We can’t always justify some people’s personal choices in entertainment. Like my mother, she would gladly pay you tomorrow for a mediocre “B” romantic comedy today. And for why, when there are magnificent films from back in the day which are so genuinely good?
Ok, granted, our independence from the studio situation has flourished and is closer to depletion therefore creating utter chaos and maximum creativity. These days censorship isn’t really present. We hear “shit”, “fuck”, and “douche bag” after 10 o’clock and a few “damns” before 8. Up until the 1940’s, writers would have to work around obscene language and inspiring classy ways to get the point across that these two gorgeous –hot for each other- characters just had sex although you didn’t see it. Who knew that coffee meant banging? A true example is the fall of the walls of Jericho in Frank Capra’s “It Happened One Night”. Even when television was key, they certainly had to follow a similar recipe.
Personally, just because we have these privileges as filmmakers and writers doesn’t mean we should flood the screen with borderline x-rated images. Many films use their outrageous ideas to cover up their lack of storyline. Your multiple scenes of women showering and blood coming out of miscellaneous places isn’t going to make up for it! It may reach your target audience, and hurray for you, but it still doesn’t make a good movie that will stand the test of time.
What do I mean by test of time? Movies that you see references to almost daily: “Casablanca”, “Gone with the Wind”, “Citizen Kane”. Even if you haven’t realized it, our movies are rich in references to cinema history. The more you know, the more you can sit back, smirk and be humored by someone clever.
I do not think that Eminem was referencing Jerry Lewis when he came out with “Will the Real Slim Shady Please Stand Up?” Around 1970, there was an animated series with David Lander doing the voice of Lewis entitled, “Will the Real Jerry Lewis Please Sit Down?” When I first found out about the cartoon, I found it funny that the phrases were so similar and yet have no connection whatsoever. Not everything is a reference; not every pink ribbon will have symbolism; not every blonde bombshell will refer to the tragic demise of Marilyn Monroe. Sometimes brilliance may have a trail and other times it’s just a coincidence that it has been done before.
To me, if a film is made with itself in mind, then it will most likely be good in its own right. In saying that, I mean that it isn’t made on the governing principles which “Fight Club” was made. If carbon copies are the future, then start an oxygen revolution. In all seriousness and in respect to the original purpose of this piece of writing, the old is worth referencing because it is good. It is a part of contemporary film and the evolution of humanity that is taking its toll. The cinema is a young and favorite pastime that may or may not be surpassing baseball. D.W. Griffith’s silent “Battle of the Sexes” rings the –same if not better- bell that “Heartbreakers” tried to. Really, give older movies a chance.
Here’s your starter kit:
“The Philadelphia Story”
“Modern Times”
“Sherlock Jr.”
“The Lady from Shanghai”
“Dark Passage”
There is no order, and are just random movies I pulled out of my ass but were luckily not thrown together from “shit” ideas. I cursed. Its okay, everyone; its after 8.
Once and if you like these titles, I have tons to recommend. I have not seen a ton of older gems but I know full heartedly that they are out there. I’m still brushing up on my repertoire and am hoping we can take this journey together. Its almost something to feel a bit ashamed over: to let such a rich history for a young medium of art slip your mind.