Archive for the '2' Category

Oculus

Thursday, April 24th, 2014

**

It sucked!It'll be on cable.I liked it.It was good!It was awesome!! (Give us your rating!!)
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Not Alice’s Looking Glass

Oculus

I absolutely love scary movies, but there is nothing worse than a movie I assume will scare the pants off me that has me leaving the theater utterly disappointed. If I’m going to pay $12 to see a scary movie, I want to go home and keep the lights on at night for weeks on end. This wasn’t the case with Oculus. For all of its hype, I was a little underwhelmed and overly confused. And when a supposed horror movie comes out in months like April, and not as a big summer blockbuster or in the more obvious fall season, you have to know that it’s most likely going to be sub-par at best.

The premise seemed interesting: ancient mirror has a history of being in houses where murders occurred. The movie begins with a flashback of two children facing down the barrel of a gun held by their father. Emerging from the flashback, it becomes apparent that the little boy (Tim) in the flashback spent many years in a mental institution dealing with the backlash of this event in which he ended up killing his father to save himself and his sister from the father’s crazed homicidal rampage.

The sister (Kaylie) has also grown up, and has found success in her life (or at least a successful fiancé that takes care of her financially). Just before she goes to pick up her brother from the mental hospital on the day of his release, we see her at an auction, watching over the bidding of an old, foreboding looking mirror. It is purchased, and sent into a back room to be prepared for shipment. She tells the shipping crew she will take the mirror home and clean it up and get it ready to be delivered.

After picking up Tim from the mental hospital, she makes a really smart decision to take this poor kid recovering from severe PTSD and bring him back to the place that severely traumatized him. She is determined to make it known that the mirror is the root cause of all of the strange murders that have occurred at the homes in which the mirror was hung.

There are a few classic scare gags meant to make the viewer jump or shift uncomfortably in their seat: unexpected shadow figures, a door opens and someone is standing right behind it, and even a few Final Destination type gore tactics. And while I’m usually a sucker for those, they didn’t quite add much to the story as a whole.

It was more of a psychological thriller, with weird twists and turns that never fully resolve or get explained. My first impression was that it was reminiscent of the Leonardo DiCaprio flick Shutter Island, in which the delusion plays out in his mind that he is an investigator, when the whole time he’s incarcerated on Shutter Island. The effect is kind of the same in Oculus. Without giving too much away, it appears the mirror does have an effect on what is perceived by those in its radius, blurring the line between reality and delusion to the point of madness.

The end was extremely unsatisfying, and knowing how certain things were set up in the room with the mirror, it was kind of predictable that something horrible would happen. The problem is that we aren’t exactly clear “whodunnit,” who was crazy and who was completely sane, or whether or not any of it happened at all. Shutter Island at least gave a definitive resolution, where as I’m not entirely sure what I witnessed in Oculus.

If you like psychological thrillers, check it out when it’s on demand. And if someone else can explain this movie to me, I would be open for another interpretation. Moral of the story: keep your expectations low when seeing a horror movie in non-prime horror film months.

Sunlight Jr.

Monday, November 11th, 2013

**

It sucked!It'll be on cable.I liked it.It was good!It was awesome!! (Give us your rating!!)
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SUNLIGHT JR.

Swift shot: I really, really wanted this film to just end. I am not sure where to begin with why it was so unpleasant. Naomi Watts is getting blasted by other critics for her accent in Diana, and in Sunlight Jr., I really can’t say what she was going for as a convenience store clerk who is trapped in a circle of her own selfishness. I didn’t like her character, and as the film ended, I loathed her character. If you can find a more selfish character in film, please, let me know. You’ll see what I mean once you get to the “donuts” scene. Like she deserved even one donut? I’m rambling, but, hey, if you like that sort of thing, then Sunlight Jr. is perfect for you. It’s a rambling, boring story about characters I could care less about . . . and did I mention one was in a wheel chair and paralyzed from the waist down? Even that guy, I didn’t care about.

Melissa (Watts) is a cashier for the “Sunlight Jr.” convenience store, and she lives in a crappy motel with her disabled boyfriend Richie (Matt Dillon). They seem, at first, to be very much in love, and very much on the losing spectrum of life in general. I don’t recall ever finding out why Richie lost his ability to walk, but I think it had something to do with being a drunk loser. Melissa’s ex-boyfriend, Justin, is played rather well by Norman Reedus, who plays a real shitty human being . . . who also happens to be a father. He’s spreading his hatred of the world through his very impressionable son.

Wrapping up the clan of calamity is Kathleen (Tess Harper). She is Melissa’s mother, and to make money off the “system” she fosters a bunch of kids that she barely sustains on ketchup and noodles.  She does have plenty of money dedicated to keeping her with a near-permanent buzz, though. She pressures Melissa to dump Richie and get with a real hero, Justin.  Also in Melissa’s life is her boss, who sexually harasses her, because she is always late, doesn’t care about her job, and he lords that fact over her and permits her to work there so he can have fap fantasies of her in the freezer.

In short, her life pretty much sucks. It is the despair, and lack of anything in the way of levity (unless you count the weirdest sack race in the history of modern recorded time) that destroys this film. The sack race was tacked in probably because the story was so boring and depressing that it needed something fun to cheer up the audience. When you write a story, you have an obligation to the reader, and when you tell a story on film, you have an obligation to the audience . . . be worthy of their time. It’s like someone thought about a great story and instead settled for mediocrity.  The dialog was as depressing as the characters.

The characters were not compelling, the drama was less than intense, even when something dramatic was happening, it felt . . . silly. I kept waiting for something interesting to happen. Granted, there is one murder in the film, and then as a reward, the murderer gorges on donuts.

Perhaps the one saving grace for Sunlight Jr. is that it is a veiled “message” movie about responsibility, parenting, and the actions we make having real consequences. Well, that is until things get too tough, then we just quit and run away, apparently. I really think Melissa was mentally retarded, or maybe slow (squared) is a better description.

I would write more, but I am late for a sack race. So, unless you must see Naomi Watts nude or Norman Reedus play a bad guy, this film won’t leave a mark.

Room 237

Tuesday, November 5th, 2013

**

It sucked!It'll be on cable.I liked it.It was good!It was awesome!! (Give us your rating!!)
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“There ain’t nothing in Room 237.”

Room 237

The H-Bomb: Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining is, in my always humble opinion, the greatest horror film of all time.  A bold statement, I know, but I stand by it.  As far as I’m concerned, it is THE horror movie.  Not only is its tone undeniably creepy and its build up unbearably intense, it also creates a bizarre, surreal atmosphere that is deeply unnerving, thus making Jack Torrance’s (Jack Nicholson) descent into axe-wielding madness all the more terrifying.  Often imitated but never, ever equaled, The Shining is the be all and end all of horror… I don’t give a shit if Stephen King, who wrote the novel on which the film is based, didn’t like it.  His book is over-rated and his mini-series remake totally sucked ass, but I digress.  Aside from being the scariest movie ever made, it is, like all of Kubrick’s films, quite the layered work, chocked full of hidden meanings, visual metaphors, a head-scratching ending, and a shitload of images and occurrences that were downright inexplicable.

This, naturally, leaves the film open to countless interpretations, and many film scholars, film buffs, psychologists, and others have studied the movie inside and out, and have offered their own unique analyses, which is all well and good.  Part of The Shining’s brilliance is that it is different things to different people  The ugly downside to this, is that it opens the floodgates for those with less-than-sound minds and way too much time on their hands to over-analyze the hell out of the movie and come up with crackpot theories that are howlingly pretentious at best, and astoundingly insane at worst.  Which brings me to Room 237, a documentary that premiered at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival, and is, quite frankly, one of the largest cinematic repositories of bullshit that I’ve ever seen.

The film, directed and edited by Rodney Ascher, gathers five different self-proclaimed “Shining Experts,” people who have watched The Shining, forwards and backwards (literally), frame by frame (again, literally), many, many, many times over, and have developed some rather… esoteric takes on the film.  A few of the theories contained with Room 237 are somewhat interesting.  Most, however, are so utterly bat shit crazy that they make sense to the theorist… and the theorist alone.

It’s rather difficult to explain just how nuts most of the examinations in this “documentary” are.  It’s almost the kind of thing you need to see and hear to really believe, but since I feel, at the end of the day, Room 237 isn’t really worth sitting through, I’ll try my best to explain the inexplicable.  The movie opens with one of our faceless experts (none of these guys are ever actually shown, they’re only heard), reading the tagline for the European poster: “The tide of terror that swept America is here.”  He then goes on to pontificate what that “tide of terror” could be referring to.  It seems pretty obvious to me what it’s referring to, but I’ll indulge the guy.  He asks if it’s referring to the novel it’s based on, or the movie itself (gee, ya think), or perhaps… it’s referring to the genocide carried out by the white man against the Native Americans.  It was at this point, about maybe a whole minute into the documentary, that I shouted, “Oh, fuck you” at the screen.  That little bit in the very beginning perfectly encapsulates the kind of off-the-wall pontificating that goes on in Room 237.

In addition to being a metaphor on Native American genocide, The Shining is also apparently a metaphor for the Holocaust, as is evidenced by the fact that Kubrick was a Jew and Jack Torrance uses a German typewriter, one that changes colors, in the film.  Then there’s the job interview scene, which gets dissected to death, with such observations as the symbolic boner the Hotel Manager allegedly has when he stands up to shake Jack’s hand, the inner, deep-seated resentment carried by the Manager’s mostly silent assistant, the window inside the Manager’s office that is geographically impossible given the physical layout of the hotel, and other such incredible observations that can only be made by minds that are over-active and under-occupied.  Did you know, for example, that the skiing poster in the game room has an image in the shape of a Minotaur on it?  You really have to squint to see it, and in all likelihood, you won’t see it anyway, but our experts assure us it’s there.  They then go on to obsess over the alleged hidden meanings in the carpet patterns, the hedge maze, the disappearing chair and the disappearing Dopey sticker, and the many other things that are too tiring to get into, but are all subject to the same outlandish dissection.

Instead of going over all of that crap, I’ll skip to the big one, the one that’s advanced late in the film, and that would make Buzz Aldrin sock the deluded blowhard espousing it right in the face; The Shining is not about a troubled family man who goes crazy in a haunted hotel.  No, it’s actually Stanley Kubrick’s coded confession that not only did the U.S. fake the moon landing, but that Kubrick himself actually staged and filmed the faked moon footage that was broadcast around the world.  Now, I can only imagine how folks will react to that one.  Most rational folks will rightly laugh it off, whereas the Alex Jones whack-nuts of the world will embrace it like scripture.  I myself was left in silent astonishment.  Thus far Room 237 had presented some pretty far-fetched notions, but this one truly killed what little credibility this documentary would have had as an examination into the possible meanings underlying of one of Kubrick’s most elliptical and intriguing films.

That is why Room 237 is such a disappointment.  I went in expecting a legitimate in-depth look into The Shining, but instead what I got was a laughable over-examination by a gang of disembodied crackpots whose credentials as film historians/experts are never provided by the film.  Thinking about it, I have to wonder exactly what director Ascher was trying to accomplish here.  Perhaps he meant it to be a case study in delusional obsession?  Or maybe it’s just a joke?  His way of trolling the movie buffs of the world?  That really is how it comes across.  But, at the end of the day, who gives an asses’ rat?  Aside from the few chuckles to be had from the totally outrageous ponderings put forth, there is really nothing to be gained from seeing Room 237, certainly nothing in the way of insight into the great film it claims to examine.  As The Shining’s own Dick Hallorann put it, “There ain’t nothing in Room 237.  So just stay out of there.  Just stay out.”

Jack the Giant Slayer

Saturday, March 2nd, 2013

**

It sucked!It'll be on cable.I liked it.It was good!It was awesome!! (2 People gave this 2.00 out of 5)
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Fee Fi Fo Fum, I hear the snores of boredom!

JacktheGiantSlayer

The H-Bomb: Over the last couple of years, we’ve been seeing a new trend coming out of Hollywood, the revisionist fairy tale, where they take classic stories and give them a “modern” twist. Like, for example, taking the main characters from said stories, giving them weapons, reinventing them as ass-kickers, and casting attractive young actors who look way too contemporary for the story’s medieval setting. Thanks to this, we’ve gotten to see Snow White in a suit of armor, and Hansel & Gretel re-imagined as witch hunters, all in a cynical attempt to make these timeless fables “cool” and market them to the hip (and potentially lucrative) adolescent demographic. Now, Jack and the Beanstalk is the latest fairy tale to fall victim to this trend, as its young hero has been transformed into a “giant slayer.”

Much like A Good Day to Die Hard, the set up for Jack the Giant Slayer is laughably convoluted, so I shall try to spit it out as concisely and coherently as I can. Once upon a time these giants came down from their giant world in the clouds and waged war with mankind. Then along came a king who had a special crown. This magic crown had power over the giants, as basically whomever possessed this crown could control them. The king used the power of the crown to banish the giants back to their world, between Heaven and Earth (God, I feel fucking stupid writing this). When this king died, he was buried with the crown, as well as with the magic beans that can grow the humongous stalks that act as bridges between the giants’ world and our own.

Jumping ahead several generations, to a point in time when the story of the giants is thought to be only a myth, a young, peasant farm boy named Jack (Nicholas Hoult), is at the castle trying to sell his horse when he encounters a monk who is eager to take the horse off his hands. As payment, he gives Jack these beans that he insists are very special and very valuable. Before Jack really has a chance to turn down this amazing offer, the monk jumps on the horse and tries to escape the castle walls.

As we already know, this monk is on the run from Roderick (a hammy Stanley Tucci), a dastardly villain who stole the magic crown and beans from the king’s tomb. His plan, surprisingly, is to use the crown and the giants to take over the kingdom himself.

Unfortunately for everyone, Roderick happens to be one of the current king’s top advisers, and is set to marry his beautiful young daughter, Princess Isabelle (Eleanor Tomlinson, who’s about as lively as a wooden plank). Isabelle, naturally, does not want to marry this creepy, ugly middle-age guy, and runs away in the middle of the night.

And wouldn’t you know it, she runs right into Jack’s farmhouse. The two of them had a strange run-in earlier that day, and as they converse, they realize that there’s a spark between them (at least the movie would like us to think there is). Of course, nothing could ever come of this romance, as he’s a peasant, and she’s royalty, and there are laws against them hooking up.  But there is a spark, nonetheless. As all this is happening, one of the magic beans, which Jack accidentally dropped into the cellar, starts to grow into a giant beanstalk that shoots up into the sky, taking his farmhouse, and the princess, with it.

Before Jack knows it, the king, along with his entire army, is standing in front of him, demanding to know where his daughter is. All Jack has to do is point up at the giant beanstalk behind him, and a rescue party, including Jack and the evil Roderick, is formed to ascend the stalk up into the clouds to fetch the fair maiden. To make a long story short (too late), what they find at the top of the stalk are some very pissed off giants, thirsty for the blood of some Englishmen. Oh, and Ewan McGregor plays a knight.

Ugggh… what can I say about Jack the Giant Slayer, other than it serves as yet another perfect example of why you should never go to movies that are released this time of year. I hate that I’m being so down on films lately, but part of my job is to be straight up and honest, and honestly, this flick bored me stiff. Oh, there were some nice special effects, as both the beanstalk and the giants looked like real, physical things with weight and life to them, and not just like images drawn in a computer. There was plenty of action to spare, but because I wasn’t invested in the shallow, thinly drawn characters, I wasn’t invested in any of it. In fact, I would say this movie has the least involving action scenes since Zack Snyder’s ill-conceived Sucker Punch, and, with the exception of a scene where a giant swallows a bee hive, they somehow manage to be even less memorable.

What truly boggles my mind is that this dreary, soulless fantasy yarn was directed by Brian Singer, the man who made The Usual Suspects, which is one of the greatest crime thrillers in existence. Granted, I haven’t been impressed with anything else he’s done, as I never cared about X-Men, and his Superman movie bored me even more than this did, but man, I can’t get around the idea that he could make something this utterly generic.

From the lazy design of the giants, which are well-rendered, but basically look like Orcs left over from The Hobbit, to the “Real 3D,” which is flatter than a Kansas landscape, I just get the sense that Singer really, truly did not give a shit with this one. That this was nothing more than a payday for him.

The actors could’ve helped, had the undernourished screenplay given them anything to work with. Leading man Hoult tries to add a quirky sense of self-deprecating humor to Jack, but the character is written as the cliched, timid, unlikely hero who follows an all-too-predictable arc. The fact that he and leading lady Tomlinson had absolutely no chemistry whatsoever only made it worse. As for what I thought of Tomlinson’s performance…the CGI beanstalk acted circles around her, need I say more? Tucci, as the conniving human antagonist, does the requisite scenery chewing, and he seems to be having a lot more fun than anyone in the audience, so good on him. Then we get to McGregor, playing a valiant, heroic knight who is treated as a complete afterthought and seems completely extraneous. He brings absolutely nothing to this undeveloped character, and ultimately, he’s as out-of-place in this movie as his inappropriately modern hairstyle.

Trust me, folks, if the studio who released Jack the Giant Slayer actually wanted people to go see it, they wouldn’t be releasing it in the first week of March. This “revisionist” fairy tale is an unspeakably dull butt-burner that goes on way too long, and as icing on the cake, puts the audience through a series of false endings before finally rolling the credits. It has no sense of adventure, no sense of wonder, no sense of excitement, and there is absolutely, positively no reason for anyone to see it.

[Swift aside: And THAT folks, is why we are the ‘viciously ruthless’ movie critics]

Snitch

Friday, February 22nd, 2013

**

It sucked!It'll be on cable.I liked it.It was good!It was awesome!! (1 People gave this 1.00 out of 5)
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Snitch

A desperate father convinces a federal prosecutor and the DEA to let him go undercover to help free his son from a mandatory minimum ten year sentence for drug trafficking. In a nutshell, that’s a pretty interesting premise, provided you can suspend enough disbelief that this option would be viable enough for a federal prosecutor to bite down on.

Jason Collins (Rafi Gavron), the estranged son of John Matthews (Dwayne Johnson), agrees to help a friend out and hold onto a stash of ecstasy. Unfortunately for Jason, it was a set up and next thing you know, he’s in prison for a minimum of ten years. Do not pass go, do not collect two-hundred dollars. He could reduce his sentence, however, if he implicates someone that leads to an arrest. Sadly, the only drug dealer he knows is the very one that set him up. If you read the first paragraph, the rest of the story is pretty self-explanatory.

As far as the story goes, it completely fell short of decent. The pacing was sporadic, the action was sparse, and let’s face it, the lead was miscast. That last part really hurt what could have been a 3 star affair. From his Ram ‘tough’ 1500 down to his (I’m guessing) ‘Tough Solar’ G-Shock, everything screams ‘Tough S.O.B’. Even John Matthews is a hulking, beast of a man, not the unassuming construction company owner that we’re led to believe he is. However, I don’t think you can blame the casting company, considering the lead was also in the Producer’s chair. I’m assuming Johnson wanted to stretch his acting chops from his normal comedy and action affair. He’s getting better, but you can tell he was slightly out of his depth at times.

Daniel James (Jon Bernthal…Shane, for you Walking Dead fanatics) Bernthalcompletely dominated every scene he was in. Had he and Dwayne Johnson swapped roles, Snitch would have effortlessly gained a star at best (only hampered by the writing). James, an ex-con, was integral to Matthews’ scheme to free his son. However, he neglects to tell Matthews what’s going on, endangering both their families lives.

Considering Justin Haythe, the writer for Revolutionary Road, get’s co-writer credit for this, I’m really cringing to see what he did to the Lone Ranger. Unlike Revolutionary Road, however, Snitch isn’t a  complete snooze-fest, but it’s hardly an edge of your seat popcorn thriller either.

Enjoy at your peril.

Stand Up Guys

Friday, February 1st, 2013

**

It sucked!It'll be on cable.I liked it.It was good!It was awesome!! (Give us your rating!!)
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Stand Up Guys

Stand Up Guys brings together the talents of Three Academy Award Winners; Al Pacino, Christopher Walken, and Alan Arkin. The chemistry among them is outstanding, but hokey comedy, and a lackluster story makes this a movie that really doesn’t live up to the hopes I had before seeing it. The different aspects of the movie can be somewhat confusing and leaves the audience wondering what era the movie even takes place in. Also, the way certain things play out are rather predictable, but still it offers some cheap laughs at times. The only thing that was really going for Stand Up Guys was the amount of acting talent involved.

Stand Up Guys starts off with two old friends reuniting for the first time in 28 long years. Val (Al Pacino), is getting released from prison, and his best friend Doc (Christopher Walken) is there to receive him. It begins somewhat like the beginning to The Blues Brothers. This is the first of many different movies that Stand Up Guys takes a few cues from. Val and Doc then make their way to chat over a cup of coffee. While drinking their coffee, and catching up on old times, Doc tells Val that since he is out it is up to him what he wants to do. Val quickly comes up with the idea of the company of a woman, and the two make their way to a brothel known by the two of them. When they arrive at the brothel, they are greeted by Wendy (Lucy Punch).

Wendy is the daughter of the former owner and quickly offers up her best girl to Val.  Not much time passes before Val is back amongst Doc and Wendy, unable to rise to the occasion. Doc asks Wendy if she has anything to help with the situation, but she unfortunately is out. Val and Doc then make their way to a pharmacy, break in, and start taking all sorts of different medications that are needed. There are a few laughs offered up here, and it plays off the fact the two are in their twilight years. People know what to expect when Val literally takes multiple “little blue pills”. Val and Doc then make their way back to Wendy’s, and the rest speaks for itself.

While Val is enjoying the company of a lady, Doc needs to make a phone call. Doc calls their old boss, Claphands (Mark Margolis). Claphands reminds Doc that he needs to take care of Val in a timely fashion, before ten the next morning. Doc now faces a conundrum of having to ‘off’ his best friend in a matter of hours. While Doc is experiencing this problem, Val bounces out of the bedroom and is ready for a drink.

The next scene takes place in a bar where Val exudes his charm with some younger ladies, and then proceeds to snort different medications that Doc picked up at the pharmacy. Val then starts to not feel so well, and decides that Doc needs to take him to the hospital. While at the hospital, they read the nametag of the nurse, Nina Hirsch (Julianna Margulies). The two used to runaround with her father, and after catching up with her the Doctor arrives. The drugs that Val snorted didn’t seem to be the major problem, the pills Val took earlier had truly taken over. This leads to what can only be described as painful looking to men, and the best part of everything is the reaction that Walken offers in this scene. This was all rather predictable but helps to move the plot along in a fun way.

Doc takes Val to his favorite place to get a bite to eat. This is where we are introduced to Alex (Addison Timlin). Doc orders the same thing he always does, and Val orders like it may be his last meal. During this scene, Val tells Doc that he knows there is a hit on him ordered by Claphands, and finally gets Doc to confess that it is him that has to do it. The two are leaving the diner, and Val decides that they need a new mode of transportation, a new model Dodge Charger. Doc is a little concerned due to the fact everyone knows who the car belongs to, and that should be enough to not touch it, but Val thinks otherwise.

The humor comes when Val is trying to figure out how to start the vehicle, and Doc is explaining it to him. Val and Doc then make their way to bust out their old friend, Hirsch (Alan Arkin), from the retirement home he is in. Hirsch quickly jumps at the chance to leave the home, and quickly gets behind the wheel. We once again experience the difficulties of how to start the car, but after that it’s a joyride of all joyrides for the trio. The way the guys interact with each other in the scenes is fun, and the dialogue is fun and fresh. This leads to a fun little chase scene, and a talk about the one wish Hirsch didn’t get to experience.

Now that Hirsch has told Val and Doc about his one wish, it’s back to see Wendy. Hirsch wants to be with two ladies, and after some convincing, Hirsch gets his wish. Doc and Val continue to talk about things, and how everything will play out. Next thing you know, both the women are falling all over Hirsch proclaiming their love for him, and how they are forever ruined for other men. This scene was rather humorous simply by the way that Arkin plays everything off like it’s no big deal. This is the point in the movie where we meet yet ANOTHER person that does nothing for the movie, or the progression of the film.

The guys hear a knocking in the trunk and pull over to find Sylvia (Vanessa Ferlito) tied up and naked. We get her back-story, and its back to the diner for more food. The guys decide, after hearing Sylvia’s story, to exact some revenge. This whole part does nothing for the story, and really didn’t need to be in the movie. It felt thrown in, and instead of making more witty banter amongst the three friends we get a completely pointless scene.

Well, this leads us to the inevitable scene that the audience KNEW was going to happen. Val and Doc make their way back to the car only to find Hirsch has passed away. Can we get a movie where Alan Arkin doesn’t play dead after a small, but valuable role? [Swift aside, see Argo, David]  Val and Doc then make their way to explain to Nina what happened. In a scene that is very far-fetched, and really somewhat hokey, the three find a backhoe and bury Hirsch next to his wife. Really, a backhoe in the cemetery, and they just dig a hole and throw him in? How does this make any sense in any way? This is basically where the movie has completely gone off the rails and is no longer fun. There is one scene in which Val is going to confession, but it’s too little too late at this point. I won’t spoil the end of the movie, and how everything plays out for those who want to see Stand Up Guys, but it’s easy to see why this movie was delayed in release and maybe you should delay seeing it until DVD.

I really was excited about seeing this movie, especially after seeing the trailer for it. Unfortunately, most of the good parts were in the trailer; and aside from a few humorous parts, it was a major letdown. If you’re a fan of Pacino, Walken, or Arkin, you may be disappointed. The fact all the jokes revolved around their ages, there were so many lines taken from other movies, and just parts that were confusing make this movie not live up to the potential it could have. The laughs in the first part of the movie truly don’t make up for all the flaws that were encountered throughout the whole thing. If you pay close attention you will see things that will leave you scratching your head too, and wondering what exactly were they going for in the scene. Overall, the acting was great, but too many flaws – – – just leave Stand Up Guys lying down.

Texas Chainsaw 3D

Friday, January 11th, 2013

**

It sucked!It'll be on cable.I liked it.It was good!It was awesome!! (Give us your rating!!)
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The saw is family…

TC3D

The H-Bomb:  The Texas Chainsaw Massacre series has to be one of the most confusing, disjointed franchises in the history of cinema.  Not because the movies are hard to follow, but because there is, for the most part, no continuity from film to film.  First, there was Tobe Hooper’s 1974 masterpiece, which few will dispute is one of the greatest horror films ever made.  Then came Part 2 in 1986, and despite being directed once again by Hooper, it was tonally and stylistically a complete 180 from the original.  Even though it’s gained a cult following, at the time of its release, no one knew what to make of it, and everyone hated it.  A few years later, Part 3 came along, which ignored Part 2, declaring itself the “True Sequel” to Part 1.  Then came a fourth one, which ignored both 2 and 3, and declared itself the “True Sequel” to the original.  In 2003, we got The Texas Chainsaw Massacre “re-imagining,” which ignored all the previous movies, including the original.  That was followed by a prequel that no one gave a bull’s backside about, and now we have, even though no one asked for it, Texas Chainsaw 3D, which hits the reset button yet again, disregarding all the sequels, prequels, and remakes, and calls itself… you guessed it, the “True Sequel” to the 1974 film.  Confused yet?  I certainly hope so.

I will say this for Texas Chainsaw 3D, of all these various sequels claiming to be the one, “real” sequel, it’s the one that probably comes the closest, in that it picks up directly where the original ended.  Soon after Sally, the first film’s sole survivor, escapes from the farmhouse that Leatherface and his cannibalistic kin calls home, the town Sheriff, as well as a lynch mob of local cousin fuckers, show up looking to take Leatherface down one way or another.  After the predictable shootout, which plays like a shittier version of the opening stand off from The Devil’s Rejects, the farmhouse is burned to the ground, and all of Leatherface’s family is killed.  All except for two.  One is Leatherface himself, who somehow managed to slip away during the gun battle, and the other is an infant, who is discovered in the burned ruins of the house and adopted by a member of the lynch mob.

Cut to modern day, and this will create a serious logistical fuck up, we see that the baby has grown up to become Heather (Alexandra Daddario), a pretty art student in her twenties.  Out of the blue, she receives a letter telling her that she’s inherited a large house in rural Texas from a dead grandmother she never knew she had.  She doesn’t want to make the road trip by herself, so she’s accompanied by her boyfriend, Ryan (Trey Songz), her slutty BFF, Nikki (Tania Raymonde), Nikki’s boyfriend, Kenny (Kerim Malicki-Sanchez), as well as Darryl (Shaun Sipos), a hitchhiker they pick up after nearly running him over with their Mystery Machine.

Once they arrive at Grandma’s house, the first thing they notice is that the old lady was really into security, as there are locked doors all over the place.  Everyone assumes that Granny was just a little paranoid, as the house is huge, with lots of nice things inside of it.  However, there is one door that absolutely should not be opened under any circumstances… the big door down in the basement.  For behind that door, and I’m not spoiling anything, resides a mentally challenged mass murderer who likes to wear people’s faces as masks, and whose weapon of choice is a certain gas powered cutting tool.

As you may have already surmised, some dingus does open that basement door, and for the first time in decades, Leatherface is let loose with his chainsaw roaring, and it really doesn’t take a brain surgeon to figure out where it all goes from there.

I said recently in another review that sometimes going into a movie with low expectations can actually be a good thing, and my expectations for Texas Chainsaw 3D were at about a cockroach’s eye level.  I went in anticipating something truly abysmal, something so bad it might even rival TCM4 as being the worst of the series… and after the movie was over, I thought, “It wasn’t that bad.”  Don’t get me wrong, it’s still pretty shitty, with a weak, routine plot, terrible acting for the most part, and characters who are so paper thin that calling them underdeveloped is something of an understatement.  Make no mistake, Texas Chainsaw 3D is indeed a bad movie… it’s just not the tremendous, horrendous travesty that some have been claiming it to be.

Of course if one were to nitpick this plot, there would be quite a bit to complain about.  Take the one big logic gaffe that everyone who has seen this flick is talking about, the age of the heroine.  She is an actress in her early twenties, playing a character who is obviously in her early twenties.  The thing is, the very beginning of the film, when the character is an infant, is set in 1973.  The rest of the film, as we can see from the date of death on the grandma’s gravestone, takes place in 2012.  Do I really need to do the math for you people?  This chick should be pushing forty!

It’s that issue that indicates the true reason why Texas Chainsaw 3D is a bad movie, everything about it, from the writing to the way it was shot, just feels so fucking lazy.  Watching this flick, I really got the feeling like it was made by Lionsgate on the quick and cheap, as a way of maybe jump starting a new horror franchise, since their other “Saw” series (which gets an unfunny nod here) is done.  The story, with the exception of a “twist” at the end, is totally devoid of imagination.  The characters (or more appropriately, the chainsaw fodder) are total stock horror movie stereotypes with about as much depth as a puddle of piss.

There’s absolutely no suspense in the movie, or even any tension to speak of.  John Luessenhop’s direction is flatter than a squashed armadillo on a Texas highway, and about as uninspired as uninspired can get.  Say what you will about the Michael Bay produced remake, at least that felt cinematic, like a film made to be experienced in a theater.  This looks and feels more like a TV movie with gore in it.  One scene with potential, that Lussenhop blew completely, was a sequence in which Leatherface goes rampaging through a local carnival.  Just think of the possibilities, because Lussenhop sure as hell didn’t… damn, what a wasted opportunity.  And, before I forget, I should note that for a movie with 3D in the title, there are only two shots that actually bother to utilize it (one of which is of the chainsaw protruding from the screen, where the chainsaw is out of focus!), making it so not worth the extra dollars for a 3D ticket.

Now, even with all the numerous flaws, the movie is still fairly easy to sit through.  At least I was able to sit through it (what a ringing endorsement), and, unlike V/H/S, it actually knew when to fucking end.  It doesn’t shy away from the guts and gore, as many a redneck are mangled and disemboweled via chainsaw, so the more blood thirsty members of the audience will get what they paid for and leave happy (though the CGI blood looks as fake as ever).  The script, which was pretty worthless and half-assed for the most part, does feature a “twist” involving the lead character and Leatherface that is kind of interesting, however, when one stops to seriously think about it, it really doesn’t stand up to scrutiny.  Still, just taking the twist in stride, it shows that someone at some point at least put an iota of thought into this thing, which is more than can be said for that piece of shit Part 4.

Those few slightly redeeming aspects out of the way, Texas Chainsaw 3D is still a long ways away from being a good movie, and unless you’re a die hard fan of the series who absolutely must see good ol’ Leatherface bash in heads and saw off limbs on the big screen, this is not worth checking out in the theater.  It, as I said, sure as hell is not worth the thirteen bucks to see the almost non-existent 3D.  This obvious cash grab is a Redbox rental at best, and for most people, it won’t even be worth that.

Rust and Bone

Monday, January 7th, 2013

**

It sucked!It'll be on cable.I liked it.It was good!It was awesome!! (Give us your rating!!)
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RustandBone

Rust and Bone is a triumph in it’s performances but a slug in it’s narrative. Marion Cotillard (Inception, La vie en rose) and Matthias Schoenaerts give Oscar-worthy performances. The film sets up an interesting premise with engaging characters, but lingers on it’s second act for too long and grows dull.

Rust and Bone tells the story of Stephanie (Cotillard), a women who loses her legs in a tragic accident, and Alain (Schoenaerts), a single father down on his luck trying to support and care for his son. Alain is an ex-boxer who starts to re-enter the fight scene as a backyard street fighter as Stephanie struggles to readjust to her new way of life. The film follows the two as they grow together and adapt to the circumstances life has dealt them.

The film is executed in a very raw and intimate fashion. Handheld shots put us next to the characters, into the scene, walking beside them and watching every moment unfold. This is where the film throws up it’s first red flag. The pace of this film is so deliberate that interest begins to wane. The filmmakers play out every moment in such grueling, meticulous detail that the emotion and sentiment is completely sucked from the scene. There isn’t anything unique about the execution of this film either. We’ve seen this visual style in much better films such as The Wrestler, Biutiful, or Blue Valentine.

Director Jacques Audiard’s previous film “A Prophet (Un Prophete)” is a film I love, so my expectations were very high going into Rust and Bone. The two films almost feel like they were made by a different filmmaker. A Prophet was tense and engaging. Everything felt necessary and contributed to the building of the world within the frame. However, with Rust and Bone, I felt very much the opposite. Entire scenes felt redundant or just completely unnecessary.

The huge saves for this film are the performances. Cotillard and Schoenaerts are both stunning to watch. They ground the film in a way the writing fails to. Whatever honesty and genuine heart the film fails to bring through the screenplay, both actors offer up.

Although the second act is a drag, the first and third act are almost entirely successful. The first act does well to establish characters that we would like to follow throughout the film, but the end feels completely unearned. As I felt the film coming to a close, everything began to feel tacked on. Its as if they knew nothing interesting had happened for the whole body of the film and needed to compensate by raising the tension with random plot points. That being said, the climax was successful in raising the tension and piquing my interest after a lazy second act, but it was not enough to redeem the film as a whole.

If you are interested in becoming an actor, I’m sure watching this film could be a masterclass. If you are looking for engaging cinema, look elsewhere.

V/H/S

Saturday, December 29th, 2012

**

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Why mixing sub-genres is never a good idea.

VHS

The H-Bomb: A gang of annoying douche bags, who typically earn money by selling videos of themselves sharking women, are hired to break into a house and steal a videotape. They’re not told exactly what the tape is, just that they’ll know it when they see it. So they break into the place, and find an old man dead in the living room, surrounded by stacks of VHS tapes. Since they have no clue which one of these is the one they were hired to take, they make themselves comfortable next to the dead guy and start watching them one by one.

The first tape (“Amateur Night”) shows footage shot with spy glasses of three college guys on Spring Break who go out to a bar with the intention of bringing a girl back to their hotel room, where they plan on having sex with her while the guy with the spy glasses secretly records it all. The guy with the glasses is approached by a cute young lady at the bar, who keeps telling him, “I like you” over and over again. She ends up going back to the room with them, and while they think she’s a little weird, they have no idea how weird until, naturally, it’s too late.

The second tape (“Second Honeymoon”) is a seemingly innocent vacation video of a young married couple taking a road trip through the American Southwest. It’s all perfectly normal and uneventful, until the first night in their motel room, when a young woman knocks on their door asking for a ride the next morning. They find the situation a little odd, but don’t really think anything of it. Later that night, after the couple has gone to bed, someone sneaks into their room, and videotapes them while they sleep. No good can come of this…

The third tape (“Tuesday the 17th”) involves a young woman taking three friends out to a remote lake in the woods where she vacations annually. The friends think they’re going out there to swim, drink, smoke weed, and screw (ya know, things that young people never do in horror movies), but the young woman actually has a darker ulterior motive: to use her friends as bait to lure out a serial killer, who attacked her there years before. Here’s the odd catch, the serial killer is invisible to the naked eye, he can only be seen on video camera.

The fourth tape (“The Sick Thing That Happened to Emily When She Was Younger”) is made up entirely of Skype conversations between college student Emily, and her boyfriend James, who is away at medical school. They start out with typical long distance relationship conversations, but then things start to happen to Emily. First, she wakes up one day to find an unexplained lump under her arm, almost as if something has been implanted under her skin. Then, late at night, she starts to see what she believes is the ghost of a young child in her apartment.

The fifth tape (“10/31/98″) involves four friends who are going to a party on Halloween Night, 1998. They arrive at the house of the party and, strangely, don’t find anyone inside, that is, until they go up into the attic. What they find up there are people who are not exactly celebrating Halloween in the normal sense…

In fact, there is not a lot of normal anything to be found in the whole of V/H/S. Usually, if I say that about a movie, I’d be paying it a compliment, but in this case, I’m not. I suppose ATM should have taught me to avoid horror movies with initials for a title, but I heard so much buzz around V/H/S, that my curiosity was piqued. Unfortunately, a movie’s hype and my own tastes don’t always align, and in this case, I just wasn’t feeling it.

For me, V/H/S’s biggest liabilities are its structure and premise. It combines two sub-genres of horror, the anthology film and the found footage film. Both have their strengths; anthology films tend to offer variety in the stories. Found footage, if done well, can come off as being “real,” thereby making them more effective. Both, however, also have their weaknesses; anthologies, particularly when more than one director is involved (as is the case here), can be very uneven, and found footage can come off as sloppy and amateurish. In the case of V/H/S, it inherited more of the bad than it did the good.

Personally, I thought V/H/S was at its worst during the first half hour, covering the opening of the wrap-around story, as well as “Amateur Night.” It did improve a bit after that, but Holy fucking Hell the first thirty minutes of this thing were torturous! I mean pulling my fingernails out by the roots, sticking needles in my my ballsack kind of torturous! It got to where I was on the verge of saying “Fuck this” and turning it off. The handheld camera work was at its absolute worst, so relentlessly shaky and ugly to look at that it was making me nauseous. But even worse than that were the characters; completely unlikable, chauvinistic dickheads who were loud, creepy (not in a good way), and just beyond obnoxious. Seriously, you have to see it to even begin to grasp how grating these assholes really were.

After that, the movie did improve once it got to “Second Honeymoon” (directed by the only filmmaker involved with V/H/S that I’m familiar with, Ti West), but not enough to make me forget about that utterly wretched first half hour. Even though things got better, there was something else about most of the stories that I found very irksome: most of them ended very abruptly, and ended in ways that gave no real resolution to what was happening and that were just downright baffling. For obvious reasons, I can’t go into specifics, all I can say is that the ending of pretty much every story made me go, “Huh? What? Wait… what?!” I don’t mind horror movies that are ambiguous, but in this case, it came off as laziness masquerading as ambiguity.

Other ways in which V/H/S came off as lazy were that the stories failed to connect to each other in any kind of compelling way, and the wrap-around story, like the individual vignettes, ended in a very abrupt and unsatisfying manner. The fact that the wrap-story ends before the final story starts really calls out how structurally unsound the film is.

Now, V/H/S, even though I obviously didn’t care for it as a whole, is not without its virtues. Every single vignette, even the worst ones, have moments of inspiration that are genuinely creepy. The girl from “Amateur Night” was effectively weird and scary, and there’s a shot where she’s standing in total darkness that was truly unnerving. There’s a point in the wrap-around story, where we notice that there’s something missing from a chair in the background that shouldn’t be missing. Again, well done. “Second Honeymoon” and “The Sick Things That Happened to Emily When She Was Younger” I thought were actually quite good up until their sudden, confounding non-endings, and “10/31/98″ I liked overall.

So, even though V/H/S does have its positives, they are far outnumbered, and ultimately just completely buried by, the movie’s negatives. The worst aspect of all would have to be the length. I know I’ve been coming down on films a lot recently for being over-long, but in the case of V/H/S, I would be in dereliction of duty if I let it pass without comment. The movie is a solid two hours long. The average found footage flick is typically around 80 to 90 minutes long, and even that is pushing it. So two hours of watching such shoddy camera work is most definitely too Goddamn long!

And the length is the final nail in the coffin of this sub-genre mash-up. Despite a handful of inspired moments, I really did not like V/H/S, nor do I recommend it to anyone, even genre fans. If you do have an affinity for anthology horror films like Tales from the Darkside or Creepshow, or if you enjoy found footage, then I say maybe give it a rent, as you might glean some kind of enjoyment out of it. Otherwise, don’t bother.