Monthly Archives: June 2014

Rapid Retrospect 6/23- 6/29

Gravity (2013) 3/5

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During a routine space mission, debris from a satellite hits the shuttle Explorer. Two survivors (Sandra Bullock and George Clooney) then have to try to survive while losing oxygen, and without being able to communicate with Mission Control. I was impressed with how the film looks. It’s gorgeous. I still can’t believe how real it looked. As far as the story goes, don’t expect a whole lot of explanation. You’re supposed to focus on this drawn out metaphor of survival and rebirth, but I just wasn’t a massive fan of how the story was presented. I still say watch it for the visuals because of how beautiful it looks.

Pitch Perfect (2012) 4/5

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Okay, this is basically Bring It On except we have rival a capella groups the Barden Bellas and the Treblemakers. After a major embarrassment happens to the new leader of the Barden Bellas, the group has to work if they want to win the finals of…some singing competition. I think this is hilarious, but I can’t figure out why it’s almost 2 hours long. It’s like the filmmakers decided to just leave everything in instead of keeping the major plot points. However, it’s still a fun movie to watch. I would’ve bet money this was going to be stupid, but I was surprised. If you decide to see it, just try not to take it too seriously. You’ll enjoy it more that way.

Friends with Benefits (2011) 3/5

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Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis agree to have sex without any emotional attachment or drama. Since this is a romantic comedy, of course they fall in love but not before a misunderstanding and every other cliché you can think of. The movie starts off very strong, but then it commits the same tropes it aims to poke fun of. However, I was surprised the acting the acting was actually pretty good. You want to believe the chemistry in any movie like this, and the main characters were able to do just that. It’s good to watch just for the funny moments, but don’t expect anything groundbreaking.

Perfume: The Story of a Murderer (2006) 2/5

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Jean-Baptiste Grenouille was born with an unnatural sense of smell. This “gift” turns into an unhealthy obsession, and he eventually finds ways to satisfy his urges by any means necessary. I was intrigued by the plot, mainly because it sounds so weird. The actual movie is a big disappointment. It’s 2 hours and 30 minutes of the main character sniffing naked dead women, something about the ultimate perfume that has mind control powers, and Dustin Hoffman and Alan Rickman are in this but the characters serve no purpose. I’m still lost as to what happened, but from what I’m able to grasp this is just yet another book that did not need to be made into a movie. To be honest if the story ends with a town orgy then a cannibalistic feast, I don’t think the book should exist either.

Silver Linings Playbook (2012) 4/5

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Pat Solatano (Bradley Cooper) has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, and has been released from a mental hospital after nearly beating his wife’s lover to death. We watch him attempt to adjust back into society and mend relationships with his estranged wife and family, but even that proves to be difficult after he meets a widow named Tiffany who is just has messed up as he is. I’ll admit that I had zero interest in watching this at first. Most Academy Award winning movies are nothing but 2 hour sedatives, in my book. This is nothing like that. It ranges from comedy, drama, and romance, but it transitions between genres seamlessly. I think this also marks the only time I haven’t found Jennifer Lawrence to be annoying, so I think it’s amazing based on that alone. If you haven’t seen it, you’re missing out.

Red Mist (2008) 1/5

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This is probably better known as Freakdog, although it doesn’t make it any better. A group of snooty med students cause a creepy janitor to have a seizure, and he slips into a coma. One of them feels guilty, and injects him with an experimental drug that is supposed to increase brain function. Apparently it works too well because now he has out of body experiences, and can possess people to kill those that put him in his coma. The first problem I had is I kept feeling like I’ve seen something like done before, and I probably saw it done in a more effective way. Second, the plot can be shredded to bits if you think about it logically. A part of the brain that causes out of body experiences can be harnessed, and leads to a form of demon-like possession? That’s stupid even by my standards. The acting is about as good as it can be in a movie like this, but there’s not much else to it. There was a reason why this sat in my queue for over a year.

In the Mouth of Madness (1994) 4/5

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We start with John Trent (Sam Neill) retelling his story to a shrink about why he ended up in a mental institution. Trent was an insurance fraud investigator that was asked to look into the disappearance of popular horror writer Sutter Cane. Cane’s work has been known to cause paranoid delusions, memory loss, and other side effects that normal people don’t experience while reading a book. What follows is 90 minutes of hell that gave me the heebie jeebies. First, this is super disorienting. Trent starts hallucinating, and it’s so vivid that you can’t help but feel like you’re going crazy right along with him. Second, it’s just creepy. If you’ve never seen a “Lovecraftian horror”, you have no idea what you’re in for. It’s a great film, but I don’t think it’s for those that are very easily scared. Also, don’t bother watching it if it comes on TV. The most effective scenes are heavily edited, or taken out completely.

Fight Club (1999) 5/5

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Yes, I am one of about 10 people that never watched this. I am well aware how late I am. Do I really have to tell you what it’s about? Either you’ve seen it, or it was on some top ten lists of greatest twist endings. All I’m going to say it’s awesome, violent, and quite psychotic. Don’t be like me and wait 15 years to see it. Just go ahead and buy it. Trust me.

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Rapid Retrospect 6/16- 6/22

Almost Human (2013) 4/5

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I’m usually not a fan of sci-fi horror movies. I don’t know what it is, but outside of the classics they just don’t appeal to me. I might need to rethink that after seeing Almost Human. We follow Seth and Jen after her fiance Mark disappears in an eerie blue light. 2 years later, Mark comes back…but he’s not quite the same. It is low budget, but they manage to set up believable chaos in such a short period of time. The dialog and acting comes off as amateur, but the effects pacing make up for it. This is actually the directorial debut for Joe Begos. You can see his style could use some polishing, but there’s no ignoring the talent he has. I’m looking forward to see what he does next.

That Awkward Moment (2014) 1/5

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Zac Efron and two other dudes navigate through dating and sex, and eventually find love or something. I’m guessing on that last part because I gave up after about 20 minutes. This is the first time in quite a while that I couldn’t finish a movie. This is just chauvinistic crap topped with penis and poop jokes. Maybe I’m too optimistic, but I don’t think every man is trying to live out his last hurrah when he’s only in his mid to late 20’s by banging anything with a vagina in the metropolitan area. I just don’t think it’s funny seeing a guy leave after sex just because his partner has “hooker signs”. I love my raunchy comedies, but there has to be actual comedy and not sex jokes every 1-2 minutes.

Battle Royale II: Requiem (2003) 2/5

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This picks up 3 years after the last “battle”. Previous survivors are part of a group led by Shuya Nanahara. A new batch of teens is sent after the group, which has been labeled as terrorists by the government. It’s an interesting plot, but the connection to the first film is a bit of a stretch. Also, there are more explosions and D-Day like scenes that look a lot like a Michael Bay film. Acting ranges from corny to telenovela. And then there’s the running time. It’s 173 minutes, but about 40% of that is philosophical filler. I don’t quite get the point. “Adults” are evil? You’re either a winner or loser? They had 2 hours to make sense of it all, and instead you’re just left with more questions. Check out the first Battle Royale if you haven’t seen it, but this is one sequel you should skip.

Eyes Without a Face (1960) 4/5

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A young woman’s face is disfigured in a car accident caused by her father. Her father then becomes obsessed with giving her back her beauty, by any means necessary. First there’s the white, emotionless, nightmare-inducing mask she has to wear. It’s locked this stoic grimace, but you can still see her eyes. That’s what’s so chilling. I have to commend Edith Scob for being able to emote so well. She’s able to still give a great performance just from the emotion in her voice and her eyes. Outside of the facial transplant scene (that gave me the willies), there’s no gore. I would try to find the original cut of this. It’s really creepy, but well done.

Stir of Echoes (1999) 4/5

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Kevin Bacon plays Jake, a skeptical man who agrees to be hypnotized by his sister in law. He is then haunted by the spirit of a local girl, and is forced to solve the mystery of her disappearance. I remember when this came on TV when I was younger. Even with all of the good parts cut out, my dad still wouldn’t let me watch it. At 26 years old, I now understand why. This scared the crap out of me. The DVD menu alone almost made me not watch it, but it’s very well done. It’s so jarring, and it almost feels like you’re losing your mind along with Jake and his family. It’s amazing, and if you haven’t seen it you’re missing out on a classic.

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920) 5/5

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Speaking of classics, this is probably one of my favorite movies. We follow Francis as he retells an event him, his friend, and his fiancée had gone through. We’re then introduced to the creepy Dr. Caligari, and his carnival act the somnambulist Ceasare. But the sleeping man becomes a person of interest when random murders occur in the village. It’s a silent film, but it was done in the Expressionist style. The colors are a bit off, and the scenes are imperfect and odd. However, it creates a believable and beautiful atmosphere. Dr. Caligari and Ceasare look like corpses, while everyone else looks like they’re alive. The symbolism and color contrasts are unbelievable, but that doesn’t compare to the end of the film. I’m not going to give it away. But, I will say any horror fan should see where the idea of a twist ending came from.

Rapid Retrospect 6/9- 6/15

Haunt (2013) 2/5

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I was going to give this a 3, but then I made it to the end. The rest is a standard ghost story; however it mixes in puberty and sexual awakening. It’s not a bad thing for a horror movie to have multiple undertones, but this fell apart. There’s a murder that only happened because the husband couldn’t stand up to his wife that was only crazy during the end of the movie, and the reason for her breakdown is oddly specific. I’m still a little lost because nothing was really resolved. It’s creepy at times, but there’s not much else to it.

The Last House in the Woods (2006) 2/5

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This is one of the many Ghost House Underground films. After I saw The Children, I had to see what else Ghost House has put released. This is…a little on the weak side. The special make-up effects are amazing for being so low budget. The rest is your normal “crazy family in the woods” shtick. If you’re into really low budget flicks, this is perfect. If you want low budget with substance, I wouldn’t go with this.

Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones (2014) 3/5

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I can’t believe it, but this wasn’t that bad. I don’t love it, mainly because I’m sick of the whole series. Why did I watch it? I have this irrational need to watch every sequel in a franchise. This same seemed to have what the other films lack: characters that actually feel real. These are just some friends that stumbled upon some weird demonic stuff, but you believe them. There’s a sincerity there that I don’t think exists in the other movies, and some of the scares are actually kind of effective. I say watch it at least once.

Night of the Demons 2 (1994) 4/5

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This is beyond cheesy, but still hilarious. How can you not like a scene wear a nun gears up for a battle against demons? It’s almost as awesome as the priest in Dead Alive saying “I kick ass for the Lord”. It does start off very slow and the CGi is horrendous, but it has that bizarre charm the first one has. Considering this came out in 1994, the acting is alright. Also, there is death by way of boobs turning into flesh eating hands. I think that’s enough of a reason to like it.

Ride Along (2014) 2/5

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If you’ve seen the previews for this, you’ve already seen the best parts of the movie. I think Kevin Hart is funny (at times), but it didn’t work for him here. We get it. He’s shorter than the average man, and we’re supposed to laugh because he wants to be a macho cop. That’s the plot, and it gets shoved down your throat during the entire movie. And since this is an hour and 40 minutes, it’s unsurprising that likable moments are few and far between. This is an unfunny Saturday Night Live skit in feature film form.

Leprechaun 6: Back 2 tha Hood (2003) 1/5

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I only watched this because my now ex-husband wanted to see it. I knew it was going to bad, but I didn’t think it would be this bad. Call me crazy, but I actually like Leprechaun in the Hood. Why? Because it’s friggin stupid and it made me laugh. Back 2 tha Hood (ugh) tries to copy that same outlandishness and falls way short. We know the leprechaun is basically a stoner. Do we really need to see him raid the fridge because he has the munchies? Or what about him trying to steal the girlfriend of one of his victims by telling her he has a huge penis? After basically being forced to watch this, is it any wonder I’m now divorced?

Rapid Retrospect 6/2- 6/8

This week is short because (once again), all of my Netflix DVDs were scratched or broken. Thankfully I’ve bought so many movies in the last 6 months that I’ll start having decent sized reviews again, starting next week. On a side note, if any of you know of another DVD to home service, please let me know in the comments. I don’t see the point in paying $23 a month for scratched DVDs that I constantly have to send back.

The Cat and the Canary (1927) 4/5

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I’m stepping outside of my usual viewings because I’ve never watched a silent film. Oh the wasted years. It’s fascinating to see how much actors back then were able to do without being heard. As for the story, it’s really good. Think House on Haunted Hill but take out the ghosts and strangers, and add a family coming to hear a reading of a will. Add some well-timed comedic relief, and it’s a hidden gem that should be seen by any film lover.


A Cat in Paris (2010) 4/5

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I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from this. It’s animated, but I wouldn’t say it’s a kid’s movie. What I really liked about it is how little details set the overall tone. You see a cat burglar hopping from roof to roof, but you hear Billie Holiday playing in the background. The voice acting was really good, even though the animation style might not be for everyone. I still say it’s good to watch just to see something different.

The Signal (2006) 4/5

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This one is a little odd because it’s divided into segments (“transmissions” in the movie), and each one was written and directed by a different person. It’s well done, considering they only had a budget of $50,000. Also, you really can’t go wrong when you cast A.J. Bowen, who seems to have a gift of playing the world’s most unlikable characters. One thing I’m still not a fan of is how drastically different each writers’ style is. The film as a whole bounces back and forth between dark comedy and post-apocalyptic horror. It’s not as seamless as it could be. That being said, it’s hard not to like it given how limited the budget was.

Prison Girls (1972) 1/5

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It’s 70’s porn. There’s not really a plot, no one stays clothed for longer than 5 minutes, and I just feel gross after watching it. I think Female Vampire is modest in comparison. The picture quality seems to miraculously improve the minute people starting screwing, and then this thing has the nerve to try and end on a meaningful message. I say try because there are a couple scenes of women being assaulted, as well as a gang rape scene. If you want soft core 70’s porn, here you go. If you’re looking for a legitimate movie, watch anything besides this.

Rapid Retrospect 5/25-6/1

Blood Feast (1963) 3/5

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I decided to watch this mainly because it’s known as a horror classic. I thought it was okay. Most of the time and energy obviously went into the gore and effects, which are amazing considering this was made in the 60’s. Other than that, it’s a little too cheesy for my taste. The Egyptian goddess plot didn’t make a whole lot of sense, and the acting is questionable even by 1963 standards. The only thing I took away from this is you can do believable gore with a small budget, and that amateur horror filmmakers today seem to gloss over that.

Seance: The Summoning (2011) 2/5

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This starts out as a standard yet decent demonic possession flick, and then turns into Christian propaganda. I’m still confused as to how that happened. The only name worth mentioning here is Bobby Campo, who you might know from the 4th Final Destination. Everyone does a good job until the last act, and then it turns into an overdramatic free for all. Campo goes from sinister demon to rejected Batman villain. That didn’t bother me as much as the ending message. I’m not saying religion doesn’t belong in horror movies. It just made absolutely no sense to end things the way they did. It’s a shame because this started with so much potential.

Natural Selection (2011) 5/5

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I didn’t know much about this other than it had won several film festival awards. It’s about a woman who searches for the son her husband fathered after donating to a sperm bank. Yes that is oddly specific, but stick with me. It’s not wacky hijinks or a road trip movie. These are some pretty messed up people that face their problems after realizing just how badly things have deteriorated. I like the fact it was a perfect balance of comedy and drama, and the acting was great. It expired from Netflix, but I think it’s worth buying.

The Lair of the White Worm (1988) 4/5

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I’m still not sure what exactly this is, but I liked it. It’s something about some kind of snake god, and apparently being a snake is a lot like being a vampire. Also, being bitten by a snake causes acid trips that involve Jesus being crucified, nuns being raped, and snake women with strap-on dildos. I am aware of how little sense that makes, but you just have to watch it and see. It is sensory overload with a dash of campy comedy, but it somehow works.

Devil’s Due (2014) 1/5

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I hate movies that have stupid characters. For example if I’m on my honeymoon in a foreign country, I’m either hiring a tour guide or at least carrying a map so I don’t get lost after a festival. I also wouldn’t hop into a cab that just seems to pop out of nowhere, and harasses me until I go to an underground club. Every scene manages to be even more idiotic than the last. The effects are probably okay, but I couldn’t tell because found footage apparently means shaking the camera non-stop. There is one positive to this: I didn’t pay to see it when it was in theaters.