Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The Hurt Locker

I just watched "The Hurt Locker" and I enjoyed it very much. It amazed me that I could be riveted to the screen when for a lot of the movie, NOTHING is happening. Two guys are lying in the dirt staring at a house through binoculars. But I couldn't turn away. Sue me, I dug it (some people probably would sue me, since some people care WAY too much what I think about movies). Anyway, with regards to "The Hurt Locker," people keep complaining that it's unrealistic, but I have to ask, compared to WHAT? It's probably a thousand times more realistic than the war movies I watched growing up. None of them showed flies crawling into the eyes of snipers while they lay in wait. I don't know what people were getting at. Did it mess up some of the details? I'm sure it did. Movies are fictional, not reality, so I take them with a grain of salt, but I respect them for what I can see that they've gotten right, and "The Hurt Locker" gets a lot of things right that I've seen other movies get wrong. I think it's funny that an equal number of people complained "this movie is propaganda! It felt like a two hour commercial asking me to enlist!" and "this movie was propaganda! It was blatantly anti-war!" That in my eyes is the mark of a successful war movie.

Out of curiosity, and because I made the statement "I don't usually like 'Best Picture' winners," I went through and compiled a list of every 'Best Picture' winner that I would consider a movie that I love; a movie that has shaped/changed my perception of the world, a movie that I still think and talk about long after I'm done watching it, movies I can really say I love and I'd watch again (or that they're worth watching again, even if I don't want to, since I don't typically sit down with a big bowl of popcorn and pop "Schindler's List" in very often). For those of you who are interested, here's that list:

Gentlemen's Agreement
All About Eve
The Sound of Music
West Side Story
In the Heat of the Night
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
The Deer Hunter
Kramer vs. Kramer
Terms of Endearment
Schlindler's List
American Beauty
The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
Slumdog Millionaire
The Hurt Locker

Honorable mention goes to "Braveheart," because I quote it a lot, but looking at it, I really don't think the movie is very good, just individual lines and scenes are good, so I reference them. For the record, I also suspect that "Rebecca" and "Casablanca" will be on this list as well if I get around to watching them again. I think I was too young to appreciate them when I first saw them, so I need to see them again. Probably same with "The Apartment". In fact, I recently bought "Ordinary People" for this very reason. I'll also probably add "Unforgiven" to this list once I finally see it. I quote the damn thing enough already. And I might add "No Country for Old Men" to the list once I see it.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010


I love horror movies. I have since I was a kid. I love them so much that when I go for too long without seeing a good horror movie, I get cranky. I had an exceedingly bad day yesterday, and the only thing that could really cheer me up was a good horror movies, and this was it.

It's set in a future society where a "virus" has turned the population of the world into vampires. Of course, now there aren't many humans left, and vampires are the dominant race, so blood as a natural resource is getting more and more scarce. Vampires are dying off because of lack of blood, feeding on each other and devolving into ugly creatures that resembles Nosferatu on crack. The vampires are busy trying to come up with a substitute for blood, and the humans are hiding underground trying to survive, and things are pretty bleak.

I find it amusing how the trailer for this movie made it look really stupid. I loved every minute of this movie, but even the description I typed above sounds weird. I guess you had to be there. If you're a horror fan, check this one out. It's worth it. It's so good that even in this age of dwindling resources, I plan on using some of my resources to buy the DVD and watch it again and remember why I love horror movies so much in the first place.

The Box

Here's the deal with this movie. It's basically an elongated episode of the original black and white "Twilight Zone" series. Everything, from the music to the stilted acting, to the setting, to the plot twists that aren't fully explained which allows us to draw our own conclusions to the plot twists themselves which are straight from episodes of "Twilight Zone" that I remember watching as a kid, everything fits. If that intrigues you and you loved that show in all its cheesy heavy-handedness like I did, then check this movie out. If it sounds like it would annoy you and piss you off, you might want to stay away. I can fully understand why a lot of people hated this movie, but I liked it.

Precious: Based on the novel "Push" by Sapphire

I tried to watch this movie while it was in theaters. I obtained a screener and I watched half of it, and then it got to be too much for me, so I set it aside. I finally revisited it yesterday, and the movie is well worth watching. It hits me a little too close to home...I lived this life, or at least a life close enough to this one that it was painful to revisit. I adore Gabourey Sibide and she does such a good job with this role that I admire her so much. People have made disparaging comments about how she was just "playing her own life" onscreen, but shes said herself that her own life was much different from the life of this character, but she recognized Precious because she's "walked by this girl a thousand times without looking at her, and I owe it to her to tell her story." And she does. Mo'Nique, whom I've loved for years, nearly tore my heart out in this movie. I saw so much of my own mother in this woman that it was physically painful to watch. I'm so impressed with her performance and glad she's gotten the recognition and awards she deserved for being able to go there and take us all there with her, whether we wanted to go or not. This movie isn't for everyone, but I loved it.

Saw VI

I've wanted to see this movie for awhile. I'm one of the people who loved the direction the "Saw" franchise went in after part 3 (part 3 is still my favorite) and then part 4 hit me in the face and I wanted to punch everyone in the face. Part 4 is one of those movies that has the daunting task of setting up a bunch of plot twists that won't make sense until they are revealed in later movies, so it's very unsatisfying. Not only that, but Costas Mandylor, the main actor in the movie, can't act his way out of a paper bag and he has to carry most of the movie, so it's irritating. Further, the main cop who's being tested in part 4 doesn't actually do anything wrong (he's not a bad person, he doesn't hurt people or do underhanded things, he's just very overzealous and he essentially is being punished for doing his job TOO WELL...throughout the movie his "tests" involve trying to get him to ignore horrible crimes, and when he tries to solve them and bring people to justice anyway, he "fails" his tests). This bugged me. Jigsaw was always about teaching people lessons so they'd appreciate their lives more, so I balked at seeing him torturing a poor guy because he was good at his job. This coupled with the fact that Costas Mandylor introduced the first ever character into the Saw series who was completely devoid of any good characteristics (this guy is a total sleazeball with no redeeming value...even Amanda had motivations we could understand, even if we didn't agree with her...this guy, he's an asshole, plain and simple). All these factors turned me off the series and made me hate part 4. I was sure the series was unsalvagable. then I saw part 5, and it was a little ray of light. It explained a lot of the plot twists that part 4 left hanging, and Costas Mandylor, which he still couldn't deliver a believable line ot save his life, he was a little better, and the movie itself managed to deliver some plot twists without drowning itself in them. So I dug it. I was excited to see where part 6 would take us.

How did it hold up? Well first of all, they definitely ratcheted up the gore from part 5. This one is drenched in the red stuff, and while they'll never top the sheer gruefest that was part 4, this one is definitely gooey and icky enough. This movie also manages to resolve most of the plot twists that poor part 4 left dangling, and while I still don't like it for the other reasons I outlined above (bad acting; likable hero being "tested" for stupid reason, unlikable bad guy who is the first bad guy we have no sympathy for in the history of the series) I don't hate it as much as I once did. Hell, I'm even planning to buy it, since I want to own all these movies now. Costas Mandylor, which he's still a big lunkhead, is a much better actor this time around. He gets better with every movie, and I guess I can't fault him if he's impro0ving, which is what every actor should do as they move from film to film. This movie also has the =pleasure of introducing actress Tanedra Howard to us. She competed in the VH1 reality show "Scream "Queens" to win a role in "Saw VI," and she was my favorite on that show, so I loved seeing her here. Her character has a small role, but she lights up the screen with a lot of pathos, and I really appreciated her performance.

All in all, I really enjoyed this movie. It managed to introduce a bunch of new plot threads without failing to resolve its own central plot, and I can't wait to see which direction this series takes with part 7. If you're one of those people who didn't like the direction the movies took with part 3, you probably won't like this one, either. But if you're like me and you enjoy these stories for what they are, cool little puzzles with a lot of gore and poor tortured souls, give this movie a shot.

The Taking of Pelham 123


This movie was really freaky and disgusting. I have seen a lot of horror movies in my time, but it's really hard for them to get under my skin like this.

Madeline is a woman who really wants a baby. Like, yesterday. We see her having "sex" with her husband and she looks pained and she's doing everything but looking at her watch. then the awkward sex scene is over and she's doing that thing where women sit with their legs in the air trying to direct the sperm where to go. Those things SWIM, hon, you don't have to tell them which way to go, but I've seen other woman do that, too, in movies and on TV, so we get the picture here...Madeline really really really wants a baby. She's obsessed with it, it's her life.

So of course, as these things go, bad things happen to Madeline and she's in a car accident but instead of being concerned that her husband is now dead (she didn't really care much about him anyway, judging by her reactions toward him throughout the movie)( she's insisting on carrying the now dead baby inside her to term and delivering it, even though it is, as I said, dead. So that's what she does, but through sheer force of will and with weeping and begging, Madeline is able to bring the dead baby back to life while holding it in her arms. So her dreams have come true, right?

Wrong. She soon discovers that while adorable, her little baby Grace has some strange proclivities. She smells bad, her hair falls out, she attracts flies, and she wants to drink blood, not milk or formula. Of course, since Madeline's life revolves around taking care of this baby, she goes to whatever lengths she has to go in order to keep the baby alive.

I haven't even mentioned the mother in law here yet. This woman is so grating and evil that you want to kill her the first time you see her. she badgers an 8 month pregnant Madeline that she's doing everything wrong, she turns into even more of a shrew once her son is dead, and I have no sympathy for her because she was this way from the beginning. Then once she finds out that her grandchild is alive, she hatches a plan to take the baby away from Madeline, and she plans to breast feed the kid, so she gets on with producing breast milk by forcing her husband to suck on her breasts, and are you disturbed yet? I sure as hell was. these poor men are pawns in the hands of these unstable women, and it's horrible to watch.

It's even more horrible to watch little Grace feed. Guess how she gets her supply of blood? She suckles Madeline's breast until she's sucking blood, not milk. OMG THAT IS DISGUSTING. EW. Seriously, I kept cringing and looking away from the screen, and I can watch the most grisly death in a "Saw" movie without batting an eye, but this? This hits too close to home. Pregnancy and birth and breastfeeding and obsessed family members and the whole lot of what this movie serves up are what get to me; what digs under my skin and stays there, so "Grace" is a truly disturbing movie for me whereas other movies don't manage to come close. I respect it for that, but it's also an exceedingly unpleasant experience.

Monday, May 10, 2010

The Innocents

I remember reading Henry James' story "The Turn of the Screw" when I was younger. I remember it being a "ghost" story that had an ambiguous ending that left it open to interpretation whether the ghost had been real or not (hence the quotation marks around the word "ghost") and the story was mysterious and cool, but it's the kind of ending that's hard to pull off on film. In film, you almost have to take one interpretation or the other and run with it (either the ghost is real or it isn't) or it's hard to have a coherent story. That's the biggest problem with this movie, I think. Don't get me wrong, the movie is very good, it's just that the movie leans more toward one interpretation than the other, and that makes the story a little befuddling and the ending a little unsatisfying. With the movie "Picnic at Hanging Rock," a movie infamous for leaving its central mystery unsolved, at least the movie left us with a definitive answer to SOME of our questions, which made it easier to take. With "The Innocents," we have a lot of questions and we're left to figure out the answers ourselves, and that can be hard to swallow. Nevertheless, this movie is masterful at unsettling us with its atmosphere, and for that reason alone it's well worth seeing.

Mystery Science Theater 3000: Werewolf

If you ever want the experience of watching a movie with me, watch "Mystery Science Theater 3000" and you'll get a sense of what it's like. The three snarking, wisecracking voices commenting on every aspect of the movie (and mocking it to death) soun d like my friends and I at our best. When this show is good, it's great.

Memporable lines from this movie (snarking comments bolded): "How is he doing?" "Bad." How bad?" "BAD bad." "Is that BAD BAD bad, or bad bad BAD?"

*guy writhing in hospital bed* "His condition has deteriorated to bad bad bad, bad bad bad bad."

*guy in hospital bed growing progressively more hairy* "Quick! Apply intravenous Nair!"

Watch this, seriously.

Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Girl from Lover's Lane

Mystery Science Theater 3000: Zombie Nightmare

Paranormal Entity

Bunny Lake is Missing