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Beer & Seed (2012)
A Dead-On Portrayal of College Life!
Beer and Seed is an engaging black comedy about a middle-ager who heads to college after Navy life. His interactions with a diverse array of younger students provides ripe situations for very funny and memorable scenes in an all-too-realistic portrayal of campus struggles. As a professor myself I've seen many situations similar to ones on-display here, and the way they ring true-to-life only enhances the humour.
Like all great comedies the running-time is wisely-kept short, running at a lean 69 min. Engaging acting, very apt music selections, and the brisk-pace makes this film perfect for a group movie-night, whether the audience is young or old. Director Seth Conway makes good use of the locations, and has done a great job with the cast, and Bill Cox's biting script pulls the viewers in as much as the actors sell the material.
This is an indie-film in the best-sense of the term, and that ethic only enhances the overall atmosphere of the hopeful and life-affirming story you'll see on-display in Beer and Seed; it's one not to be missed!
"...a cerebral trip that's an incredible indication of things to come"
In this ultra-indie from Oklahoma filmmaker Damon Blalack, we're taken on a dreamlike trip through the repressed madness of a paranormal investigator named Rebecca. As her marriage unravels, she discovers her mind unraveling and becomes determined to capture the Devil and kill him. Of course, it's not that simple when dealing with such matters, as she soon learns. Bizarre imagery, a documentary subplot about ghosts in Claremore it's a wholly ambitious project and the type of film that more indie filmmakers should be doing. Blalack wisely does his own thing with astounding results. Like the first time you saw Eraserhead, Let Us Go ... this is a cerebral trip that's an incredible indication of things to come. Louis Fowler, Colorado Springs-Independent
A very misunderstood film...
The editing style of the Phantom Menace is not supposed to occur in real-time. A scene will pause at a point of climax, then take you away from it for more dramatic reasons. Because the following scene is in another time and place, it makes sense to be able to go back to the earlier scene, right where we left off. There are many movies that use this method, for it is a stylistic editing choice which lends more suspense. The droid armies are used because they are what is realistic for the events occuring. Until human clone soldiers come along in Episode II, there is no other way for a small entity (i.e. The Trade Federation, working under Darth Sidious' direction), to take over an entire world in secret. It would be like the Department of Agriculture of our world putting out recruitment posters for troops, for some unspecified take-over. When it is seen how unreliable thousands of droids are on the battlefield, the clones are commissioned. As for the acting, you should go watch some of the old 1930's Flash Gordon serials. George Lucas has always been emulating these type of films with his own Star Wars trilogy, and has even stated that the wooden acting is on purpose as a homage to those early sci-fi films. And lastly, the narrative of the film is not meant to flow as a focused single story, because all of these separate story threads all contribute to building the entire saga as a whole. Granted, many audience members not very familiar with the original trilogy (i.e. specific lines, et cetera), will question many side-quests, characters, and lines of dialogue of the Phantom Menace, but if you know the original trilogy very well, and you know where the series is heading, then everything makes sense, and is there for a reason. Also, the "Phantom Menace" is none other than Senator Palpatine (who unbeknownst to even the Jedi, is actually the future Emperor, as well as the current Darth Sidious).
A masterpiece of cinema...
My jaw dropped when I read some of these reviews of Dracula (1992). It seems the things people attack in it are things they do not have a background in. The medieval warfare plot is present in the film, because Vlad Dracula was a very real prince in the 15th century Wallachian state bordering Transylvania. In fact, the opening scene is depicted action for action with what happened historically, save for the blood gushing from the cross of course. Bram Stoker drew upon this historical character to drive his novel, for all the baggage such a figure would bring to the plate. As for the rest of the film, the look and style is very rooted in the Symbolist style of the period. In fact, many, many images in the film directly copy well-known Symbolist paintings to a tee. When the dreamy Symbolist style was not being employed, previous incarnations of Dracula on film are referenced. The independent shadow you mention was used in the first Dracula film, Nosferatu (1922). The special-effects employed were all limited to what was available to filmmaking at the time the novel takes place, using puppets, scrims, double-processing, et cetera.
The use of absinthe and filmmaking (two great diversions of Stoker's day), were employed to draw up a parallel between themselves and vampirism. I am not going to go into detail how filmmaking parallels it here, but if you are wondering, go watch Shadow of the Vampire for a detailed example. Absinthe drew many under its dreamlike catatonic spell, and as a result of its potency at the time, destroyed many lives, despite its allure. Bram Stoker's Dracula is one of the greatest artistic accomplishments to come out of Hollywood, and I think, the most beautiful. The stagey acting style mimics the many stage adaptations, as well as the fevered sense of the novel. Add to that the most beautiful costumes, wonderful makeup design, what is perhaps the greatest musical score in cinema history, and it all adds up to be a masterpiece. I think if you want to explore more about the reasons for certain elements, your best route would be to pick up a copy of the book, Dracula: The Film and Legend, which chronicles many of the choices made for this adaptation.
This best captures the feel of the novels
To the reviewer who argued that this animated feature does not capture the essence of the novel, I must say I am astounded at such a claim. I must say I have never seen a better translation of spirit from page to screen, and it is a shame this film was not theatrically released, and more well-known. When I saw the BBC production, I was horrified. Not because of the production value (I rather prefer lower-budget, more theatrical presentations), but due to the poor and often outright terrible acting, as well as the very bad choices in handling the material.
Case in point was the six-foot tall man, and five-foot tall woman, in beaver costumes with the faces cut out! Why not be more realistic by having actual beavers in the shots? I am not saying they should have pulled a "Mr. Ed" and inserted footage of animals eating, with looped dialogue, but just to show the real animals, and have their voices spoken almost by telepathy would be much preferred, if not more faithful to the novel's depictions. I must say as it was, I could not help but be half-disgusted, half rolling in the floor laughing at that choice of production design.
Also, why did the filmmakers go out on a limb to invent new scenes for the film that were not in the novel? Those additions only served to water down the source material, and give it a plodding, dull feeling. Did the screenwriter really feel it necessary to take an hour-and-a-half long story, and double it to three hours running length? That must have been a mandate from the BBC, just so they could use up an extra hour-and-a-half worth of airtime they know would be heavily watched. And as for the lack of Christian allegory the other reviewer mentioned, I must say again I am shocked. In my opinion the BBC version was the one that glossed over this aspect, while the animated one almost hits you over the head with it. Not that I am complaining, because I find this particular allegory the best ever produced in a narrative form, excepting maybe The Green Mile, but I am just arguing that due to the inflections of speech, compositions of shots, et cetera, this animated film definitely delivered allegorically. Even at the age of 10 when I first viewed this, I could not miss this point. I hope that everyone looking to give this story a try in screen form will look to the animated version first and foremost. The BBC versions are a curiosity at best. Now, if only the 1960's television version would surface somewhere...
The Mummy Returns (2001)
One of the worst films ever!
If you were unpleased with the first one, do NOT go see this sequel in hopes of seeing an improvement over everything that bogged that one down. If you disliked the original, all of the things you hated and more will be there to terrorize you. There are SO many elements wrong with this film I could write a book on it, and just may someday provided I could ever sit through it again. The CGI animation is the least of the problems, but that in itself is so wretchedly done that you will either laugh out loud because it is so fake, or else get really annoyed beyond compare. There is a part where I actually wanted the young boy to go outside the temple rather than stay inside trying to revive his dead mother, just so he could be entertained by the cartoon show outside (an army of hundreds of thousands of cartoon jackals line up for battle). If you enjoy a movie that blatantly rips off Home Alone reactions, Titanic embraces on the stern of a ship, a vehicle that flies past the moon ala E.T., or a character dressed in the exact same costume Tom Cruise wore in the orgy scene of Eyes Wide Shut, then go see this movie!! Otherwise be prepared to witness a great travesty. Just think...all the money used to make this "movie" could have been used to feed and clothe hundreds of thousands of starving children.
Blues Brothers 2000 (1998)
NOT a sequel, but a TRIBUTE!!
Contrary to popular opinion, this is not a sequel. It is supposed to be a tribute to the original. People who bash this movie without reading Aykroyd's interviews are ignorant to the intent here. This movie was originally to be a sequel back in 1981 just before Belushi died. When that happened, the idea for another adventure fell away. But after almost two decades, Aykroyd wanted to do something to revisit the classic film and pay homage to his friend and co-star Belushi, so he assembled this "Concert Movie", which is supposed to be all about THE MUSIC, not the story. The only reason a story was put in was to keep it moving from musical number to musical number, because everyone knows that straight concert films are pretty boring, even if you really like the performer(s). So here it is, for the true Blues Brothers fans to enjoy. P.S.-And if your problem with the plot was some of the cartoony style actions that occur (Cabel being pulled heavenward and his clothes magically "changing", et cetera), remember that the original had the same things. In the first one the entire band's clothing "magically" changes for a concert, but if you know that this is merely a representation of the character's psychological state and not a literal change, then the film works much better. The same idea works for the much-maligned "zombie" sequence near the end at Queen Mousette's mansion. Also, people complain about the Bluesmobile in this film being able to drive underwater. Well, in the first film the car flew, performed flips, and was nearly indestructible. In fact, if you watch the DVD of the first film, you find in the deleted scenes and "Making-of" section that the Bluesmobile is supposed to be "magic", because it was parked each night inside a power transformer. How is that for cheesiness on the first film? So that also explains Elwood's ability to smuggle himself in the dash of the car in this one, and the car being able to crash land from a fiery loop-de-loop at the fairgrounds. Even though I wish this film could have been a little edgier and darker in tone like the original, I do find its bold and effective use of color to be magnificent and fascinating. Perhaps this film has a little more depth than people expect, so they incorrectly perceive it to be a lackluster and shallow mindnumbing entertainment. I know better ....... Remove the stars in the address to e-mail me.