Monthly Archives: May 2013

The Seventh Art

Hey there everybody!  In case you were unaware, there’s this great web-based video magazine called The Seventh Art.  Here you can find interviews with renowned directors, as well and video blogs.  Oh, and what’s this?  Yours truly has now been published.

Check it out!

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Star Trek Into Darkness

Toasty!

Toasty!

Alright folks, Kirk and his crew is back for another adventure – this time with baddie Benedict Cumberbatch as a new adversary.  Okay, as it turns out, he’s not that “new.”  I’m not going to spoil anything, so this review will be a bit shorter than it really should be – I’ll say right off the back that it’s worth seeing.

Minus a substantial amount of lens flares, this installment’s very much like the first: we have terrific performances by an incredible cast, combined with nods to the original series.  Only this time, there are a lot more explosions to interrupt any moments of interesting dialogue.

Dat voice.

He may look weird, but goddamn Cumberbatch has a beautiful voice.

Without giving too much away, I would like to note and perhaps forewarn audiences that again, like the first, we’re dealing with alternative timelines here.  This in mind, the climax, though well-acted, distracts those who understand the reference.  Which is to say, it’s really good, but played off much goofier than it was probably intended to be.

On the upside, we do get more of the side characters, namely Scottie and McCoy.  That being said, a the character troupe as a whole felt a lot more dynamic, almost fraternal in a sense.  This heightened the risk of Kirk’s actions splendidly.

Star Trek Into Darkness presents a well-rounded story sure to keep anyone on the edge of your seat.  It’s classic sci-fi brought to the now.  But I’m afraid with this amount of bangs, glitz and CGI, JJ might be closely breaching Michael Bay territory.

Final Grade: A-

You Never Forget Your First

Cheeky.

Cheeky.

Ever see a teen movie that makes you question conventions about relationships – plutonic or otherwise?  I mean, I’m sure you have.  Ever about zombies?  No, this isn’t Warm Bodies.  I’m talking about Deadgirl.

This movie’s pretty darn nasty, but I think I have a penchant for finding things to discuss in regards to nasty things.  On the surface, we’re basically looking at zombie-rape teen drama.  What?  I told you this movie’s nasty.  Key phrase here, “surface.”

Deadgirl is about a pair of friends, Rickie and JT – your typical 20-something high school students who would easily fall in the loser/burnout category.  One day they decide to skip class and do their typical loser/burnout things, such as get crunked and explore an abandoned psychiatric hospital.  Deep within the catacombs they discover a something most strange – a naked girl strapped to a bed.  Upon this discovery, we instantly discover the boys’ respective moral compass: Rickie wants to call for help, but JT simply sees a sexy little number looking for action.  Insert feminist groan.  Then JT inevitably finds out that this stranger is indeed a nameless, mute zombie, and becomes his own personal play-thing.  Queue a far more disgusted groan…and a little bit of controlled vomiting.

High-schoolers.

High-schoolers.

Yes, I realize this is an incredibly extreme situation which transcends all we know as reality.  I mean, there’s no way we’re dealing with an “average kid” who’s as twisted as JT.  Well, except for maybe Daryl Sabara in World’s Greatest Dad.  That’s for another day.  When looking at this movie, I think it’s best to think in terms of extremity, as well as just pure rawness.

I see the Deadgirl herself less as a victim and more of a metaphor.  Because really, I don’t think this movie was made with human rights implications in mind.  Are zombies really a people?  They’ve always been objectified, clustered as an ominous horde, like hornets or mimes.  Furthermore , being that “extreme” is a common theme throughout this film,  the catalyst for these boys’ dichotomies is something as putrid as it is mystifying (because I struggle to say “alluring”).  Similarly Joann, the object of Rickie’s affection, is, well, objectified – he desperately clings to this construct of her, that same girl he fell in love with in his younger years, when clearly she has moved on.  Such is the simplification of angsty teen romance.  Just a note, the climax with Joann – best part.

Yeah...it's rough.

Watching this movie is no walk in the park, but there’s something about it that gave it a special place in my weird little heart.  It’s undoubtedly Donnie Darkoesque, which is not to say that it’s nearly as good, but that’s beside the point.  It’s this atmosphere combined with its raw content that creates an original work that is either loved or hated.  I mean, I really dig it – and I know I’m not the only one:

Forget what you’ve heard.  Past any controversy, Deadgirl is a film beautiful in every way: about friendship, love, rejection, obsession, and all the horror that comes along with such teenaged emotions.  See it and make it the classic it deserves. – Fangoria

WYSHW: Get Low

Bill Murray.  C’mon, what else do you need to see this movie?

This guy.

This guy.

Really though, Get Low (2009) is a little sleeper film that’s worth a peek.  Based in 1930’s Tennessee, story is about a hermit named Felix Bush (played by Robert Duvall), who through the years has been the subject of many a urban legend, tall tale, and ghost story.  Finally Felix decides to rid himself of his burdens, wishing to throw himself a grand funeral party while he’s still alive.

Hey Boo.

Hey Boo.

Funeral director Frank Quinn (Murray), tempted by Felix’s hermit-wad-o’-cash, takes the task upon himself to solicit guests, opening old wounds.  The result is this bittersweet drama about love, loss, guilt and redemption – but really it’s not as grandiose as it sounds.  Get Low kind of like Big Fish, minus the magical realism and father-son dynamic – just simple, sadish truths about misconception and people, that’s all.  And it’s not at all drab, either – it’s actually quite funny and undoubtedly charming.

Sweet, sad, and incredibly over-looked – three things that make Get Low perfect What You Should Have Watched material.

Mmm...hermit money.

“Mmm…hermit money.”

Next time on What You Should Have Watched, Sean Penn gets weird.

The Great Gatsby

One word comes to mind when I think of director Baz Luhrmann: spectacle.  However, behind such spectacle usually shines a small glimmer of originality, allowing his projects to be enjoyed and typically register as guilty pleasures in the audiences’ minds.  Or at least, this has been my experience.  Now he has taken on a great American novel, or rather the great American novel, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby.  Dear sweet baby Jeebus can this get any worse.

Mmm yes, shallow and pedantic.

Mmm yes, shallow and pedantic.

No doubt Gatsby is indeed a spectacle, and that’s really it.  We can end it right there and you can live on in the grandiose illusion that it would seem Gatsby himself made.  But let’s face it, Luhrmann isn’t that deep.

For fans of the book, it’s a straight-up slap in the face.  What the hell is Carraway doing in a sanitarium?  It’s decisions such as this that give the story a completely superfluously somber approach.  Of course, that’s just the tip of the iceberg.  But you know, I have a nasty habit of harping on book comparisons a little too much, so I’ll just leave it there.

So much potential.

So much potential.

Gatsby as a film, well…it’s okay.  The cinematography is absolutely gorgeous, I’ll give it that.  Everything else was just mediocre.  Essentially we’re given a clumsy mash of Romeo + JulietAmadeus and Citizen Kane.  Major emphasis on clumsy.  In addition, the pacing was so strange, it was difficult to determine the tonality of some of the scenes.  I mean, I don’t think the part where Joel Edgerton punches Isla Fisher was supposed to be funny.

Speaking of performances, I’m a fan of Carey Mulligan, but all the poor thing did was cry the whole time.  Such a waste.  Granted, she represents many-a-woman caught in the trials of aristocracy, but c’mon, you could at least make her interesting.

But it sure looks pretty.

But it sure looks pretty.

So if you’re looking to waste away two hours looking at pretty things and putting up with Tobey Maguire’s voice, I’m sure you’ll love it.  But for a tale so layered, it’s best to stick to the book.  At least that way you’ll have the choice to listen to Jay-Z.  Just saying.

Final Grade: C+

 

 

Iron Man 3

I’m just going to say it: there is no better way to kick off the summer movie season than checking out Iron Man 3.  Forget everything that the second one did to you – 3 takes everything back to where it should be and then gives you some more.  And also forget everything about Tony Stark being all dark and foreboding – really considering the whole wormhole thing in Avengers, I don’t doubt he’d have a little of the PTSD, but I’ll get to that later.  Before I gush, I’ll warn some people off with a minor spoiler alert.  Got it?  Okay, let’s have fun.

Merchandising, merchandising!

Merchandising, merchandising!

Okay, so basically  Avengers happens and now Tony’s a little screwed in the head – so now he hobbies away making prototype upon prototype of Iron Man suits.  Meanwhile, a terrorist by the name of Mandarin has been setting off strings of explosions around the US, but lack of forensic evidence has authorities scratching their heads.  When Happy, Tony’s lead security, gets caught in the crossfire, it’s go-time.  Oh, and there’s friction with Pepper because Tony’s been a little on the kooky side, with the suits and the insomnia and all that angsty jazz.  But like I said, can you blame the guy?

I hate Mondays.

I hate Mondays.

As if it wasn’t all about Tony before, this time it seems as if his recklessness finally caught up to him (don’t worry, he’s still oh so delightfully reckless).  I’m not sure if he really needed three movies to do this, or if I can blame him.  I mean, he does have a lot of baggage, so I think this psych-profile business was a great way to meld the Iron Man franchise with Avengers.

On the upside, there’s plenty of humor – casual and otherwise – to offset the heaviness and remind viewers that this is indeed a comic book movie.  Also with director Shane Black behind this (who you might recognize for this gem), you know you’re in for an action/comedy treat.

It's all about pizzaz.

It’s all about pizzaz.

The thing is though, I think I found a lot of things funnier than I should have.  I was really digging the intensity of Mandarin’s videos…until he said “Amurica.”  He had a presence, but he wasn’t at all intimidating – like when he threatened a man, it just seemed like deadpan humor.  As silly as it was, Ben Kingsley’s performance is nothing less than enjoyable.

Then this happened.  I lost it a little.  This is really more of an example of the comic-book aesthetic of the film, but you would think that little perk would come into play later.  Speaking of which, what was going on with the credits?  Why did I just watch a montage of franchise highlights?  Regardless, whatever you do, stay til the end.  It’s worth it.

So is this really the end?  I mean, things seem pretty definitive, but since there’s another Avengers on the way, who’s to say about Iron Man?  I hope they don’t ruin a good thing.  Seriously, great job guys.

Final Grade: A-