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The Best Line in the Film
Ryan Phillippe's character Priest says,
"If a God is willing to prevent evil, but is not able - Then He is not omnipotent. If He is able, but not willing - Then He must be Malevolent. If He is neither able nor willing, then why call Him a God? Why else do bad things happen to good people."
After losing my daughter to cancer, these words resonated loudly for me. As a lifelong Agnostic, I've often struggled with these questions, but they were so neatly summed up in this film that it stuck with me as one of my favorite quotes.
Beyond the Black Rainbow (2010)
If you're into late 60s, early 70s psychedelic, acid trip films, then this one might be right up your alley.
It's a very strange piece of filmmaking, set in a futuristic commune/clinic where a young girl with some kind of psychokinetic powers that are kept at bay by her therapist?/doctor?/guru?, who has his own set of problems in need of treatment, but unfortunately is in charge of her fate. Despite heavy sedation and various types of mind control, Elena tries to make a desperate escape.
It has some pacing problems, being slow in many places, the dialogue is mostly from one character only -- our villainous doctor, the plot is not very linear - nor does it even attempt to explain itself at times, and the ending is a little disappointing. These things could all be said, however, about any number of the psychodramas produced during the 60s and 70s, many of which are still some of my favorite films.
What this movie does, however, is successfully emulate those same psychodramas. Many directors have tried and failed, often miserably, to pull off that 70s look to their films, be it grind-house or art-house, but it's typically quite obvious they were shot this decade instead.
Black Rainbow, however, could quite easily fit in a double-feature billing with films like THX-1138, or Altered States, and you would most likely be unable to tell they were filmed some 40+ years apart.
The music, the grainy film, the effects, the props, the wardrobe, the hairstyles, even the fonts used in the text... everything fit perfectly, making this a true psychedelic flashback, on par both visually and creatively with it's predecessors.
It's a strange trip, and one worth taking if you're a fan of these types of films. Flawed though it may be, it's still a fun ride and will remind you of an age (and/or an acid trip) gone by. 6.5/10
Oz the Great and Powerful (2013)
Film shares Tin Man's Woe
Don't expect any of the "magic" that made the original film a family favorite for many, many millions around the world with it's memorable songs, dialog, and above all heartwarming characters that were beloved by so many. with this "prequel," if you're feeling anything more than tepid by the end.
The film begins with the introduction of James Franco as Oz, and you are immediately cooled by his performance. I think I'd have found Dean Cain a more believable and less disingenuous Oz than Franco, so it goes without saying that I'm convinced just about ANY other name in Hollywood would have been a better lead. Mila Kunis is also miscast, but much of that problem also lies with the script, whereas Franco is just plain bad.
The use of CGI effects was fine, even seamless in some points, and unlike films like Burton's Alice in Wonderland, certainly didn't detract or distract.
The main flaw in this film was the script, and it's lack of heart. It played much like an after-school special or a Sunday night Disney film of old, and not the good ones. Like the Tin Man, the writers failed to put any heart into the film, with poorly scripted characters that were at best cute (Michelle Williams/Glenda, or Joey King/China Girl) and at worst completely unlikeable (James Franco/Oz, Tony Cox/Knuck, Mila Kunis/Theodora/Wicked Witch of the West). There was little in the way of emotional attachment to the characters like the original 1939 film offered.
There was one VERY brief (thankfully) attempt at a song, which going by the quality of that tune, would have lead to disaster had they pursued it further. And for a "prequel," which had little in common with Frank Baum's vision of the Land of Oz, it left out so many things you'd expect such as Ruby Slippers, or how Finley would ultimately wind up in the service of the Wicked Witch by the next/original film. And that's just to name a couple. So many possibilities left unexplored or unexplained. There are two ways to handle a prequel, either faithfully, lovingly loyal to the original, or attempting something bold, or better yet both. Sadly, the writers, Kapner and Lindsay-Abair, did neither.
After a rather predictable and "safe" journey, the film concludes and there is none of the warmth or fondness of it's predecessor, but rather a Luke-warm feeling.
It might be OK for very small children, but it will certainly offer very little for the rest of the family, and will by no means become a beloved classic like it's predecessor.
Come Out and Play (2012)
Writer, Director, Producer, Cinematographer, and even Sound department, are the many hats worn by this Mononymous film-maker - Makinov, who prominently features his/her name in the title and at the end of the film so boldly as if their fame had already exceeded their talent (think Cher, Beck, Bono, Prince, or even Sting).
That was the first laughable moment in this (first) film from the artist known as Makinov. But the (unintentional) laughs didn't stop there.
The film begins with Ebon Moss-Bacharach's character searching, somewhat desperately, late at night for a boat to rent. He and his pregnant wife, played by Vinessa Shaw, are trying to get to a nearby island, for who knows why.
After a long and tedious search, he finds a drunk fisherman reluctantly willing to part with his 15 foot row boat with an outboard motor, which, by the way, he uses daily for his work. After some less than shrewd negotiation, our hero offers the guy four thousand dollars (what?!?) for the use of his dinghy for a day.
As an aside, it's worth mentioning that while the two leading actors are clearly not A-list performers, they do bring face recognition, if not name recognition to the film. They are recognizable and have faces you know, but can't quite place. They're decent enough actors, and typically play supporting roles quite well.
In "Makinov's Come Out and Play," however, they stumble around woodenly upon arriving to this island, which appears to be all but deserted, minus the odd child or two they run into, as they search for food and lodging. They deliver their lines well enough, but the direction is terrible, as there are long awkward pauses, and odd reactions that seem inappropriate for the scene.
It takes some 35 minutes for our clueless couple to realize that there is something amiss, and come to realize the children have all gone bad (again for who knows how and why... which is never explained) and are wantonly slaughtering any adult in their paths, using chopped up body parts as footballs, necklaces, and other assorted toys. Mind you, there is not a child to be seen over the age of 13, most averaging 7-10 years old. We're talking tiny, wee kids, who somehow have the strength to bash down doors, chop through flesh and bone, and cart off struggling fully grown adults.
After 40 minutes or so of our unlikely heroes running around aimlessly, painfully, and without any urgency to get off this Lord of the Flies island, Makinov provides us with an ending with a "twist," if you can call it that. It's obviously meant to be shocking, but instead evokes laughter once again.
Throughout this entire disaster though, there is somehow a fleeting twinge of anxiety and suspense. At first I couldn't put my finger on what could cause this tension. It surely was not the dialogue, nor the story-line, or the uninspired, single-shot camera work. I finally pinned it down to the music. Makinov did, actually, get one thing right it would seem. The delicate use of crescendos and diminuendos, notes that would as easily have accompanied Hitchcock's Psycho, created this dramatic tension throughout his film, albeit with a retro, 70's style sound, but well done none-the-less.
As the final credits rolled, the screen filled with our Mononymous (A Film By) Makinov, I was dumbstruck that I could only muster a single word to describe what I had just saw, the lonely adjective looming as large in my mind as Makinov's moniker hung on the screen before my eyes, and I muttered aloud..... Awful!
One star for the clever music, but otherwise, this film was nothing more than a big fat zero in my book. It is definitely one to be avoided, as an hour and a half spent chewing your own toenails would be more productive and thought provoking.
The fate of the ENTIRE 12 Colonies rests on the shoulders of teenage girls... REALLY?!?
I loved BSG. With all it's flaws, it was an engaging and cleverly written show. I even liked the ending, such as it was. It may not have been the ending most of the fans wanted, but I liked the fact that we even got one, which most series' are rarely afforded the luxury. So, the news of Caprica had me really excited. Now, a year and a half later, they return to complete the second half of the first season. I had long abandoned this series, thinking that while the Pilot was so promising, the remainder of the writing was poorly done, and an obvious ploy to garner the attention of the under 20 television viewer, which SyFy sodesperately craves. It was hard for me to stomach that the fate of theentire 12 Colonies, the creation of Cylons this time around (all of this has happened before, and all of it will happen again), and the impending war that we all know is coming, rests squarely on the shoulders of a handful of snotty, emotionally stunted, and misguided teenage girls -- far fetched to say the least.
The second half of theseason still rely's too heavily on this premise, but it is starting to age some, with story lines revolving more around the adults and not the whiny 15 year old girls with overactive libidos. There is still time to create the kind of riveting adult drama this show's predecessor created. Lets hope Ron Moore has fired the original writers and starts getting this house in order. Perhaps then it will actually be renewed for a second season. If not, then it surely needs to die the quiet death it deserves. It's a shame to waste such a great franchise on this.