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The Witches (1990)
What happened to Nicholas Roeg?
From the great director of films like "Don't Look Now", "Walkabout", and "The Man Who Fell to Earth", how did he come about to make this forgettable straightforward Jim Henson film? How did a filmmaker as aware, intelligent and introspective as Roeg descend to this standardized children's film? Don't get me wrong, I like children's films and "The Witches" is reasonably well made and told with good acting for the most part. But it at least could have had some sort of deeper meaning, as other children's films and most notably ROEG films have had multi-textured layers of symbolism and meaning. This cannot be a Nicholas Roeg film. He seems to have abandoned his visual touches and motifs that made his early films work so well and give them an air of timelessness. I will continue to treasure his three masterpieces of the early 1970s and will sadly find myself disregarding disposable kiddie flicks such as this.
From the beginning, the absence of James Cameron and the two leading actors doomed the project. As expected, the tight framing and loss of focus in particularly quick shots and blue tint that are commonplace in Cameron films were not here. But that's just a stylistic complaint. Let's move on to what's really wrong with this film.
It is not entertaining or engaging. You know the ending long before it has begun due to particular soliloquys. The characters aren't interesting, particularly with the T-X, which did not even evoke a smidgen of fear or worry other than replicating Robert Patrick's T-1000. The sequences play out like an average modern CGI action flick right off of the assembly line. There is no conflict, given that the previous concept of averting the future is negated by the new notion that nothing can avert Judgment Day. This just doesn't have the heart that made the previous films work.
But what really bugs Arnold fans here is that unlike the previous films of his that made you laugh because he said lines, now he has so many one liners that it becomes annoying instead of humorous. The minute he puts on the star glasses in the opening, he immediately becomes a silly clown figure, which is bad for the character. Pointless cameos don't help matters either. While the previous films knew how to film an action sequence, this film just plays out like a longform BMW commercial.
Ultimately, it is a waste of time and money. There is no reason for making this film other than a hefty paycheck. It is a useless picture in that it completely negates the previous films, as well as itself. I haven't felt this robbed by a film in quite some time.
Darkness Falls (2003)
The first film I've ever walked out on.
I never thought I'd do it. I've always stayed faithful to remaining in my seat at the theater to finish out a film, even if it is horrid. Considering that this was only at the $1.50 cheapo show, that sort of lent to my decision to leave. I like to remain to review films completely, but this was too much for me. Like every other assembly line horror flick, it is not scary. It is not interesting. There is nothing to it. This was a boring and tedious exercise, ruined from start to finish. The introduction with the title "Darkness Falls" failed to engage me in the slightest, and despite all the flash images and attempts to shake me up, it was a failure. The biggest reason would simply be that as a film buff and horror fan, we've walked down this black road one too many times and know it all too well to be scared of what might jump out at us. A complete waste of time and mental energy in every respect. Avoid like the plague.
Fire in the Sky (1993)
I posted sometime earlier a review of "Fire in the Sky", and now having reviewed in many years later, I have to revise my thoughts. "Fire in the Sky" is a very flawed Hollywood horror movie pretending to be a true story. Sure it's well done and has some good dramatic tension throughout the film, and most notably, an "abduction" sequence that is a standalone. But looking at the film as a whole, it's greatest problem is that it all seems to center around the "abduction" scene in the film, which isn't exactly to Travis Walton's descriptions anyway. It's studio meddling intended to try and spice up the picture into something really frightening. It works on that level, yes, but in the end, it's simply studio meddling and not the intriguing experience one will read about in "The Walton Experience" by Travis Walton himself.
From a technical standpoint, "Fire in the Sky" is well made and acted. Performances are good all around, and D.B. Sweeney has earned recognition for portraying Travis Walton, notably due to the alien sequence. There is a good sense of drama all around, with townsfolk skepticism regarding Travis Walton's disappearance, the ordeal of Travis' co-workers enduring the skeptics, and of course, the ordeal of Walton himself. Still, when it all adds up in the end, what are we left with? In actuality, we are left with an alien sequence.
This is where the film really comes alive, and the sad part is that it's pure dramatic license. Pure fear and horror is the primary intent on the part of the filmmaker's here, and through a triumph of set design and special effects as well as cinematography on the part of Bill Pope(who would later shoot "The Matrix"), we are set, with actor D.B. Sweeney, inside a domain unlike any we've ever been in before. The floating effect where the camera itself seems to float in zero gravity with such grace and smoothness is always one that will baffle the eye. The creatures themselves aren't really that well animated, but are so ugly that we can only shy away in fear. The 'examination' itself, though familiar to countless ufologists and 'abductees', is frightening and invasive. The scene is very well made and done for what it is. Still, with all of this, this is not without it's problems.
I suppose my real problem with "Fire in the Sky" is trying to figure out what exactly the intent of this film was. What were the makers trying to do with it? It starts out as some sort of archetypical "true story" drama, then turns into a sci-fi horror show, intermingled with some bizarre humanoid metaphor about our inner evil, portrayed in the way the aliens treat Travis as a specimen, and in the end, forgotten completely with no real sense of closure. Weighing this all as a whole, what does it truly amount to? What is the point of all of it? A good scare? Telling a modified true story? Drama? If "Fire in the Sky" had nothing before or after the "alien" scene, no ties to it being a true story, and existed as a short film on it's own, it would be a great piece of work. Because there is such conflict within all the dramatic elements, and a lack of closure or greater character study, it fails. It is a popcorn horror show for people wanting to be scared and then forget about it. It makes no real effort to get inside Travis Walton as a character other than superficial cliche. It would have been more interesting if it spent more time with the character the film centered around, Travis Walton. It doesn't do that. He's merely a victim inside a frightening alien funhouse designed to scare people and sell tickets.
I guess "Fire in the Sky" can be appreciated for what it is, but sadly, instead of an interesting and informative document on a man allegedly abducted by aliens, which it could have been and had the potential to be, it is a guilty pleasure.
Punch-Drunk Love (2002)
Paul Thomas Anderson does it again in probably the years most amazing film!
Having never seen a Paul Thomas Anderson film in a theater before, only on video, this was an unprecendented film event for me and I wasn't disappointed. Once again, he has crafted a heartbreaking masterpiece about the troubled side of the human condition. With "Boogie Nights", his porn-star protagonist slipped into despair and found some sort of semblance in his existence by defining himself by the size of his phallus. In "Magnolia", he has a mosaic of suffering characters come together through divine intervention. Now comes "Punch-Drunk Love", about a depressed, lonely man with hostility that expresses itself in erratic violent outbursts. Barry Egan, beautifully played by Adam Sandler in arguably his finest film, which shows he is capable of portraying strong emotions of pain and angst in a way few actors can. For once, I wasn't stymied by Sandler's presence on the screen. He WAS that character, and you could feel the pain and despair in his heart.
For much of what's been already said about the film, giving a synopsis of the film seems pointless. Sandler fans used to seeing him act like an idiot will lack the capacity to appreciate this beautiful film. "Punch-Drunk Love" is a love story for people appreciative of cinema as an art form, not something made just to make money like Sandler's previous "Big Daddy" schlockmeisters.
Those of you who weren't scared missed out.
First of all, "Ringu" falls into the same category as David Lynch's film "Lost Highway" in that it cannot be fully appreciated for it's terrifying elements without a proper setup. Persay, a nice sized TV, surround sound, and watching the film alone in total darkness.
For example, the sequence where the top of the well is lifted off, you simply see it being lifted off. However, in surround sound, as soon as it's lifted, a barrage of disconnected ghostly moans and groans permeate the soundscape, replete with subtle ambience and deep bass. With a combination of dark lighting, carefully executed tracking shots that encircle the well ring as one the characters descends down into the well, and an increase in the amount of voices that come out of the well without breaking into the loud level, this makes for a truly frightening scene, one of unease and tension.
Consider several other sequences that use subtle minimal sound and cinematography as it's technique. The videotape itself has these strange little scratching sounds and whimpers, which are also heard over the phone, and when the videotape is first spotted by the lead protagonist, it shifts to a grainy extreme close-up of the videotape with Bernard Hermann'esque strings and a bizarre, distorted roar of some sort in the soundtrack. The weirdly blurred photographs of the children after seeing the video, and the surveillance videotape of the children dead with the horrified look about their faces played in slow motion with a slurred growling sound in the soundtrack creates an unforgettably frightening image. The sequence with the little girl slowly rising from the well in the final videotape, with a minimal amount of scratching sounds, and the way she clumsily walks toward the camera zombielike with her hair donned in front of her face before coming through the TV and only revealing in an extreme close-up a single eye glaring down at the victim may be only of the most simplistic yet most terrifying climaxes in film history. The Japanese film horror approach is grandiose in it's vision, yet minimal in it's approach and delivery. Much isn't used in this film, and it works to it's advantage. There are no giant special effects, and it doesn't need them.
"Ringu" is a rare horror film that is scary after repeated viewings as opposed to one-timers. It works not simply because of the implications of the story about the videotape which will kill you in 7 days after watching it, but because through lighting, sound, cinematography and execution of the combined elements, there is an air of dread and fear so thick that it will shake even the most jaded horror fans to the very core of their being. I will agree with most comments that "Ringu" is not a disturbing film, but it's a truly frightening film, one with genuine fear. Most horror films depends on blood-and-guts gore and cheap shots to startle their audience rather than actually make them afraid of what they're seeing. Most horror films will scare you as you watch the film, and you leave the theater completely relieved and are able to forget about it. Some will say that this is because you're supposed to be relieved after seeing them, while in actuality, the horror film being seen is inferior because it only knows how to scare for a short period of time. "Ringu" is a film that knows how to scare and leave truly frightening images imbedded in your mind. It's the only horror film I have seen that has lasted with me for days on end, whereas most horror films are quickly dismissed and even forgotten.
Sadly, most people will miss out on this due to a lack of a proper setup as I had mentioned above. People say it doesn't matter, but sound design and picture quality is just as important an element in film as any. And, most people are desensitized by Wes Craven shockers such as "Scream" or Kevin Williamson teen-horror flicks such as "I Know What You Did Last Summer". By shocker, that doesn't mean that it contains images that will shock you to the very core of your being. Rather, it means that it will make you jump or startle you, but never create an atmosphere that you feel uneasy about walking around in. However, if you have an open mind and understand the dramatic process and can appreciate what is being done through sound and imagery, "Ringu" is an atmospheric horror film that will scare the hell out of you.
The Ring (2002)
The danger of remakes.
Scariest film ever seen?! What? You've obviously never heard of the original Japanese film, "Ringu", since it's unavailable in the U.S. Therefore, as with most American remakes of foreign films that are little or unknown in the U.S., the remakes, or shall we say, ripoffs get all the credit for things like "originality, creativity, innovation". Haven't you ever heard of "COPYING"?
With the exception of Naomi Watts, who makes the protagonist shine in the film, this remake essentially copies the Japanese film note for note and adds some silly embellishments of it's own to try and make it scarier, when all it does is teeter on farcicality and overkill. In the original, the victims die with a horrified look on their face, as if they died seeing their absolute worst fear. In the remake, they also die with a contortion on their face, but with a melodramatic touch by giving the dead victims corpse-rot so grandiose, you wonder how someone could've died like that. Well, only in a Hollywood flick you can, whereas the original without the added effects are infinitely more frightening in that they are BELIEVABLE. There are no little segments with the fly being lifted from the TV set in the original, which was a nice touch but seemed a bit gratuitous. The scenes where the father commits suicide in the bathtub and the horse jumps off of the boat are completely over the top and therefore, fail to scare. There are no session videotapes with the little girl, which were inserted in the remake because Hollywood felt that American audiences were too "dumb" to think for themselves and figure out through inference that the ghostly little girl's intent was one of evil. And last but not least, is the video itself. The big-budget ups the estrogen by giving the video all kinds of weird extra visuals, such as people writhing in water, a woman falling off of a cliff, a rope coming out of a mouth, and on and on until it becomes an artsy-fartsy freak show. The original video, on the other hand, focused on a few images, some really frightening sounds, and instead of hearing a pseudo-scary little girl's voice saying "7 days" in the remake, you simply hear those scratching scary sounds on the videotape over the phone in the original.
However, the similarities between this remake and the original are so similar, they may as well be exact! For instance, the photograph with the warped faces on it, taken right out of "Ringu", note for note. The well with the little girl, the structure of the video, and the hair drawn in front of her face and wearing the nightgown as she walks to the TV zombielike before coming through the TV, and the actual story itself and how it progresses....what else can I say?
This is the danger of remakes. If the film is well known and known to be a remake, then fine and dandy. But, because Hollywood takes obscure foreign films that no one has ever heard of, it gives them not only reign to steal as much as they like from the films, but it draws the average viewer in and snows them into thinking they're seeing something that's original and new. They don't realize that what they're seeing is a fraud and a scam. The sad thing is, there is also such a thing as a good remake, one that can withstand the original in it's own unique way rather that rip off of it. The most this remake does is tries to amplify what was already done in the original with messy results. The original was frightening in that it focused on particular fears with sound and imagery, while this remake simply tries to do too much and pulls itself apart.
There is a place for this remake, but don't dare call it the best horror film you've ever seen without having seen what it stole from.
The Final Sacrifice (1990)
How do movies like this get made?
Unbelievable! How do movies like this ever get released or made by anyone?! How can anyone review a movie like this?! Who was it made for?! Is it possible for there to be a film this amazingly, shockingly, stupendously awful? Sure it's fodder for MST3K, but take away all that, and once has to wonder, standing back in awe, how something like this could ever be created?! WOW! 'nuff said...
A fascinating puzzle of a dark comedy about the suburban nightmare.
If the actor's weren't so typecast as "Jake and Elwood" or many other SNL skits, it'd be easier for most viewers to get into this well thought out and directed comedy. Clearly, the public was expecting another SNL skit, and what they got was a very dark and symbolic comedy about climbing out of an archetypical pit of quicksand that is sucking it's lead character Earl Keese down day by passing day. This is a film made for intelligent people, and sadly, it was too smart and twisted for it's own good.
By twisted, there are many ideas that run in the film that continue to perplex but also amaze once they're accepted as what the character decides to do. Consider the final sequence when Earl Keese is about to leave his family behind, everything he has worked for his life and start anew, and he looks at a beautiful family portrait. The twisted part is that he smashes the family portrait over his head and subsequently burns the house down. Why would he do this? Well, after the course of the film, he symbolically stares at a superficial picture of a perfect family, yet deep down, he sees his family for what it really is...dysfunctional and hopelessly beyond repair. In a theme that became "American Beauty", he stops taking it. He steps around the murky pit and goes on living, perhaps not in a moral way, but at least in a fulfilling way to his own happiness.
As for the neighbors themselves, we at first wonder why they are doing all these weird, awful things to Earl. Why, for instance, would Vic's wife accuse him of trying to "pork" her? Why would Vic be so imposing upon Earl and even trick him into thinking he's dying in a pit of quicksand? Why would they play all of these games on poor Earl? After several viewings, you get the idea that the neighbors already see Earl for the person he is, and are systematically trying to free him from what's sucking him down. Earl is intimidated, full of discontent, and doesn't know how to deal with the problems of daily life other than simply plopping down in front of the television set.
Many complain how "sad" it was for this to be John Belushi's last work. I beg to differ. I think it's great that his final film showed him to be a fine actor who embodied the role like no other. Sure Dan Aykroyd could've been Earl and Belushi could've been Vic(as originally planned), but it wouldn't have been anywhere near as interesting as seeing Belushi playing a role so grandly opposite the role of Bluto he played in "Animal House".
Despite some of the problems of the film, which include a look that feels like it's director John G. Avildsen was trying to hurry things up, a lack of inspired cinematography, and at times, humor too perplexing to be funny, "Neighbors" is a truly interesting comedy and a very good film. Yes, "Neighbors" is flawed in some areas, so much so that we wonder what it's makers were thinking, but we shouldn't let those little quirks discredit the honest attempt to do something different. Let us hope that the "Neighbors" will in the near future, be here to stay.
The Anna Nicole Show (2002)
Television has reached the nadir of idiocy.
First of all, before I comment on this, let me set the record straight. I don't watch much TV. I prefer not to. The overabundance of idiotic reality TV shows and ungodly irritating commercials makes me wonder how the human being can withstand such systematic torture for such prolonged periods of time. With the exception of "The History Channel", "Sundance/IFC", the news, and some documentary channels, TV is an absolute waste. And I realize I'll probably receive some sort of backlash because of my comment on television altogether, but in all honesty I don't really care because I'm entitled to my opinion just like you're entitled to your own. Anyway, one with "Anna Nicole Show"...
Wow, really, wow! I realize that TV's trying to cater to society's lowest common denominator, but this is ridiculous! Someone please tell me how this became one of the highest rated shows on the network! Please tell me why any of this is viewed as funny. For comedy, I find things funny because of timing and comedic talent. Anna Nicole herself is such a no-talent brain-dead, we wonder if she even knows her own ass from a hole in the ground. If the answer to finding Anna Nicole funny is that it's a "riot" to watch her bumble around from place to place with only one hemisphere of her mind turned on, then the answer doesn't make me laugh. It makes me cringe. Sure we like to laugh at people like Anna Nicole, but isn't there an infinitely better and vaster amount of things to watch besides that?
And again, those of you watching it and find enjoyment out of it...go ahead! Feel free to watch it! I'm not one to say watch it or don't. But watching something like "Anna Nicole" and seeing how someone show dull in intelligence can make so much money and celebrity causes me to fear greatly for the future generations to come, whatever those may be.
It's story time with Todd.
After crafting his dark comedic masterpiece "Happiness", one would wonder where he would take us next, and to what depths of human darkness he would show us. What story would he tell us next? Although nowhere near as satisfying as "Happiness" and "Welcome to the Dollhouse", Todd Solondz delivered "Storytelling", a film that not only examines the idea behind telling stories, separating fact from fiction, media exploitation, waiting for things to happen instead of making them happen, but seems to be a "look in the mirror" of sorts for Solondz.
Despite the fact that "Storytelling" is marred by a somewhat weak opening(which happens to feature a hilarious comment on censorship in the form of a red box in the rated version), it serves as a prelude to the "non-fiction" segment, where the film truly opens up. Much of the plot-spoilers can be found in many other reviews, but I will comment on one of the scenes. A truly fascinating scene is where Scooby, a lackadaisical kid who thinks destiny will come to him instead of finding it, sees a test-audience laughing at him on the screen of a documentary surrounding his life. In a sense, the character within the movie, stands back and watches his own movie, and sees how the world is reacting to it. Does Solondz feel empathy and responsibility towards his characters? Are stories merely a chance for us to laugh at other people's movies? The whole idea behind "Storytelling" is grasped and questioned in that very scene.
Regardless of whatever judgments you hold for "Storytelling", which demands that you make your own ones of it, it's undeniable that it's a work of art and remains as entertaining, provocative, dark and exciting as anything by Solondz.
Enemy at the Gates (2001)
Another prime example of why I hate Hollywood.
"Enemy at the Gates" may be seen by your average historian as a good war movie. Things like "based on a true story" heighten it to some level of importance and integrity. The reality of it, and many films like it, is that it's just another cliched, contrived piece of Hollywood claptrap that is neither interesting nor inspiring. Put aside all of the hollywoodishness of the story structure and style of the movie, it fails on a geometric level to even maintain the casual viewer's interest with entertainment value. Whether this was made by a huge corporation which recycles film formulas or not, "Enemy at the Gates" is quite tedious. The "love story" is hackneyed and unengaging because of it's own cliche. The set-ups are never paid off with satisfactory conclusions. The characters are uninteresting because they wallow in their own cardboard cut-outness. This isn't even a good Hollywood movie. In terms of style, one can sense the "Private Ryan" rip-offs running amok. Huge explosions and gunshots are filmed at a similarly fast frame rate as the battle sequences in "Saving Private Ryan". Now, despite all of the cliches and imperfections of "Private Ryan", that film DID break new ground with it's style and vivid battle sequences which linger with the viewer long after the closing images. "Enemy at the Gates" is just a boring, uninteresting retread of war movies and pointless love-triangles that is as much a failure to innovate as it is to captivate and entertain. It's just another example of why I hate Hollywood and avoid it as much as I can.
Donnie Darko (2001)
One of the best films of 2001.
Upon watching the trailer for "Donnie Darko", one expects another simpering, stupid teen horror flick. Upon actually seeing the film(which was very hard for me to do, given it's extremely limited release), it is a rare piece of film art! Next to "Mulholland Dr."(which I thought was the year's best film), "Donnie Darko" is one of the very best films of the year. It's completely original, exciting, funny, dark, scary, and above all, beautiful. It's a shame that this film wasted away in obscurity while idiotic pieces of drivel like "Pearl Harbor" and "The Fast and the Furious"(just to name a couple) scored. This is one of those rare films that leaves you with not only a lasting feeling of "wow, I never saw anything quite like that before!", but also deeply moves you and stays with you long after the end credits finish rolling. You've probably already have some idea of what "Donnie Darko" is about, so there's no need for me to analyze it. My review is meant to give my overall impression of the film. If you don't know anything about it, then see the film with an open mind and surrender yourself to it. The suprises and imaginativeness of the film will be even more fun and enthralling this way.
Red Planet (2000)
Weak, mediocre attempt at sci-fi.
I have not seen "Mission to Mars" yet, so I can't make any comparisons between this film and that film. I just saw this film at a free sneak preview, and although I already decided I wouldn't pay for it if I had to, I figured, what the hell. They were giving out free soundtracks and T-Shirts to those that came, so I was already in pretty good spirits about the movie.
So the movie started, so far so good. My friends are asking me if I wanted to leave. It was only 10 minutes into the film, not enough time for me to detect anything wrong with a film...for me anyway. About 30 minutes into the film, I realized why it was free. An hour and a half into the film, I realized this thing was never going to end. I was just waiting for it to end so I could leave. Whatever the makers of "Red Planet" were trying to make fell flat halfway into the movie, and shortly after that, I realized it died and was never going to come back to life. The rest of the movie wasted time and failed to excite or entertain me.
I'm usually very patient with films, so don't gang up on me and tell me that long films with very little action bore me, because it's not true. If "Red Planet" had something to say, I'd be very interested and enthused. "Red Planet" was lacking plotwise and although the characters received a lot of screentime, I never really understood who they were. I think they were trying to develop the characters after years of sci-fi films that go for the effects and overlook the characters. Despite their efforts, they failed.
On a technical note, "Red Planet" is superb. The effects and photography are very good, and the aura of sound will knock your socks off! However, effects and sound are not essential to storytelling. It's interesting that Carrie-Ann Moss was in this film. She hardly does anything, and her lack of humor is never really explained(I don't know how I could've missed an explanation, but I did). Also, she was in "The Matrix", another effects and sound bonanza. However, "The Matrix" had developed characters, and it had a plot, which is what made it work.
I wouldn't call "Red Planet" a terrible film. It's technically superb, and they did try to make a good film. And even if nothing happens in a film, that doesn't bother me. The problem was they forgot a plot and didn't know how to develop the characters. Without those essential elements in a film, it can make a film with a promise a long, boring failure.
One of the best films of the year!
"Magolia" for starts is not a film that's easy to like. Many people at Blockbuster have told me how "horrible" it was, and my sister hates it. I didn't really like it the first time around, mainly because of the way the characters reacted to the bizarre incident that concluded the film(I won't spoil it for those who haven't seen it yet). However, I gave it a second chance, and I think that it's a really great movie that uses it's three hours wisely and pays off brillaintly and intelligently in the end.
The film follows the lives of nine characters in a series of stories that are seamlessly interwoven together in a way that flows through perfectly and is never boring to the viewer. They seem somewhat related to each other in the actions that they are undertaking and the events happening in their lives seem coicidental and ironic with each other.
However, their lives all center around one thing...they are suffering. They hate their lives, they feel their cause in life is pointless, and they seem to have lost all hope. They also feel that the world revolves around their pathetic little lives, and that they are the only ones that feel pain. Some viewers may not want to sit through the first 2 1/2 hours just to see these poor souls wallow in their own pain. Yet it's important that we see it, because people can waste their whole lives away because of how they feel and that they think they're the only person who's ever had any pain in their lives. Jason Robards' 10 minute monologue ties all their pain together, and all their feelings of regrets and losses. Boy does life suck!
Then comes the ending which I wont spoil for those who haven't seen it yet. I'll only say that I believe it's a sign from God, a message to these people that they aren't the only ones on Earth and that there is a supreme being watching over all their little lives and that as far down the spiral of pain and how much hope they have lost, life still has it's rewards and happiness can still be found in the worst of lives. By showing that there is a God and that he created this world for us to live on, it suggests that we should use our lives wisely and that we are just another amazing creation of his in his world that helps maintain the balance of nature. People complain that there was no resolution that tied everyone together, but I think that it didn't have to be that way. The point of the film was a look on life, how bad it can be for people, and yet, how we as human beings can make it good and still find happiness and goodness even in the worst situations and pains of our lives. One of the very best films of the year!
The Cell (2000)
The mysteries of the mind realized horribly and beautifully on the silver screen.
I've read some reviews on the IMDB and heard some people say how disappointed they were with "The Cell". People have said "it was stupid because they didn't have to go inside his mind" or they didn't have to do this or that. After "The Cell" ended, I was left wondering about my own personal dreamland or what goes on inside everyone else's mental landscape and if we could see what it's like inside. After the first 5 minutes of "The Cell", there was already this feeling of "I want more". I was not disappointed when they gave more. I left the theater totally satisfied with what I saw and I was touched by the images that were displayed on the wide screen. The combination of mental images range from gorgeous to grotesque, and the manner with which they are woven together is simply masterful. Out of Hollywood has come what may be a special-effects art film, a movie that makes us question the mythical landscape of the human psyche.
The most intriguing idea of the film is never overdone or incomplete. Honestly, what would it be like to wander about inside the mind of a psychopathic killer? Some of the visions that were realized are a step beyond what I thought a conscious human being was capable of comprehending. It stuck with me because I can vividly remember dreams I've had over the years that were just like some of the ones in the film, nightmares you can't wake up from, dreams that are too good to be true. The most awesome sequence for me what when the cop first traveled into the mindscape, the splash of colors were reminiscent of the "stargate" sequence of "2001", and they really looked a lot like what you would see if you close your eyes and press down on them with your fingers, and not just an effects artist's daydream.
I think "The Cell" is one of the better films I have seen this year, and I wouldn't mind seeing it on the big screen again. I can't wait for Tarsem to make another film. "The Cell" is a horrifying, yet beautiful masterpiece that will make you question what goes on inside your mind, inside other's minds, and if one day, we'll really be able to waltz around inside someone else's dreamscape.
The Watcher (2000)
Don't think. Just watch it and enjoy it for what it is.
I agree with some of the IMDB critics. "The Watcher" is contrived and just like every predictable psycho-killer thrilller I've seen. You know what's going to happen, yes. However, after already figuring out this movie, I just sat back, stopped thinking clearly(since all the answers were all fed to me) and enjoyed it for what it was. "The Watcher" can actually be a lot of fun if you watch it this way. I thought the electronic soundtrack was great, and although the gimmicks echoed Oliver Stone's movies, they still made the film cool to watch. I wasn't bored with "The Watcher", let me tell you that. It also didn't drag or waste precious time. It was alive, awake, and hyper! It didn't stop it's pace for a second! The source material for "The Watcher" is lame, but the way it's pulled off is great! It's interesting to see Keanu Reeves as a villain. "The Watcher" may be trash, but it's fun trash and good trash. Watch it and have fun!
Lost Highway (1997)
Another masterpiece from the genius David Lynch!
I've always been a fan of David Lynch, and his films never fail to impress me. I'll buy anything with his name on it(not even rent it to see if it's good). I'm currently purchasing every film he has made(trying to anyway). If you're not familiar with David Lynch, and have not seen his films, do yourself a favor and see his films! Now, on with my review with "Lost Highway".
"Lost Highway" is one of the very best films I have ever seen! In the age of films that are cliched, redundant, and just plain forgettable, the filmmaking world has been blessed with a genius known as David Lynch. I watched "Lost Highway" with an open mind, and the first time I watched it, it(as probably with most viewers)didn't quite understand it. I was confused, but it stuck with me. I hadn't seen anything quite like it before. I watched it again, and again, and again, totalling about nearly 10 times in one rental. Finally, I figured it out, and then I was scared and amazed by what I saw.
This film excels on many levels. For one, it's an excellent horror film. Forget about those pseudo-horror movies like "I Know What You Did Last Summer" and "Friday the 13th". This is a real scary movie that won't leave you alone(I lost a week of sleep over it)! Second, it's a masterpiece in how it's woven together and how puzzling it is. Just so you know, I like films that make you think and ask you to connect the dots. I'm sick of being spoon-fed all the answers and secrets. With "Lost Highway", you'll always see something new. I purchased it because I liked it so much, and I discovered even more disturbing secrets buried within it. This is what makes a film fascinating and unforgettable. It just won't go away. You can't just watch it and put it behind you.
I won't spoil anything for those who haven't seen it yet, and it's too complicated to go into the whole plot. Plus, I'm the kind of person who likes to go to a movie with an open mind because of the element of suprise and mystery. It's a shame that David Lynch's films aren't given enough interest by the public. If you're sick of seeing the same old thing in every movie, just look around for a David Lynch movie, and you won't be disappointed with what you see.
Friday the 13th (1980)
People like this movie?
After wasting almost half an hour in the video store, I came across "Friday the 13th". I figured, "What the hell. I've never seen it, why not?". So I picked it up and took it home and popped it in my DVD player, without a clue as to how bad it was going to be and how disappointed I was going to be with it.
First of all, it's yet ANOTHER slasher flick, which we've seen millions of times before with teenagers screaming and getting hacked to pieces because of those same stupid mistakes they make like walking into a dark room or going outside by themselves. It's become cliched and redundant. How many times must we see some idiots running around before they get killed? It's almost as if we're praying for the killer to finish them off and end the movie. And that's another thing. The villain at the end didn't scare me in the least(which was so hilariously spoofed in "Scream 2")
Second is the acting. It's so bad, it's laughable! I found myself cracking up instead of screaming at the parts where that girl gets axed in the face and the girl running in the woods looks up at her killer with "no, no".
Worst of all though, is that this movie is being associated with horror films like "A Nightmare on Elm Street" and "Halloween". Now THOSE movies were scary. I will never like this movie. I don't know how anyone can sit through this movie without getting bored with it.
Little Shop of Horrors (1986)
Hilarious! Brilliant! All in all, a great film!
"Little Shop of Horrors" is one of the few films that has comedy, horror, brilliance, music, and delight all in one film. It's really an outstanding film. The comedy is hilarious, the story is simplistic, the music and songs are ingenious, and the special effects are state of the art! It's really an excellent film when you take into account the talent and craftsmanship that was put into it. You have brilliant comedians such as Rick Moranis, John Candy, Steve Martin, and of course, Bill Murray. You have an ingenious musical to make it all flow through beautifully and elegantly, with some of the most brilliant songs I've heard in years! You have a great, simple love story. And of course, you have special effects that still impress viewers to this very day!
As happy as it all may sound, it almost wasn't. As some of you know, "Little Shop of Horrors" originally ended on a darker, more dismal note. I have finally seen the "legendary" alternate ending, and I must say that it's a dark reminder of the importance of test audiences. Sure it was faithful to the source material, but that doesn't mean it translated well to film. It just seemed too distant from the film's previously upbeat, funny attitude. It's also a shame that the producers couldn't find a way to use some of the footage of the plants destroying the world. The effects are pretty good!
In short, "Little Shop of Horrors" is a true delight, and it's rare that you'll find a comedy with so many beautiful qualities as this one does. If you haven't seen this film, you should. If you don't like it, then you're nothing but a "mean green mother from outer space"!
A masterpiece from the ingenious mind of Trent Reznor!
Normally, I don't write another review of a film or a tape I have already reviewed, but I believe that I gave an unfair review of this tape set from NIN. I was not a NIN fan at the time I saw it, and therefore, was unable to appreciate the power of it's art. I write this second review because I have changed my opinion about this tape set, and I wan't to say what I really think of it.
"Closure" is in short, a masterpiece! It is a two-tape set that contains a documentary about their tours(a very hyperkinetic one too, but you expect that from NIN), which is also very funny and very revealing at times. I didn't really care for the "Jim Rose Circus" part, but that's just my personal opinion about "The Jim Rose Circus". It doesn't affect my opinion about NIN.
The centerpiece of the tape set of course, are the music videos! Here is where the music of NIN and the imagery heightens the power of their music to an art form. We get to see all the videos from "Pretty Hate Machine", "The Downward Spiral", a few live numbers, and even a few from the notorious "Broken Movie".
People like to talk about how graphic this video set is(which I did too), but those who like to talk obviously have not sat through "The Broken Movie", which is so violent, that Trent never bothered to submit it for release. Also, the music gives the images a kind of de-sensitizing feel to them.
I was a little disappointed that "The Broken Movie" was not included, because that was the epitome of Trent Reznor's violent, shocking art. He never made anything quite like it, and probably never will again. All of the videos from "The Broken Movie" are included(except "Physical", the most graphic video of the movie), but they don't flow through well. They worked much better when they were combined with the movie. Here they seem disconnected, and look like separate videos that were meant to be seen separately(which they weren't). Oh well, at least we have them.
Best of all though, the videos are unedited, meaning they were not butchered and tenderized by censorship. We get to see the music videos the way they were meant to be seen! "Closer" can now be witnessed without all the silly "Scene Missing" cuts, and we get to see a REAL music video for a change. My personal favorite video is "The Perfect Drug", which just began to enter the music of "The Fragile".
Like I said, I write this review because I change my opinion about NIN.
One of the best video games ever made, thanks to ID software and NIN!
Simply put, "Quake" is one of the best games available for PC. Although the game may be somewhat dated in terms of the graphics and the multiplayer capabilities, it's very atmospheric, detailed, and at times, scary! It may look like another 'shoot-em-up' game, since it is made by the creators of "DOOM", but it is probably one of my most favorite games! I didn't like the multiplayer game that much(but maybe it's because my computer is slow), but I thought the single player game was great! The music and sound effects were created by NIN, and there were times when I thought I was playing NIN's version of a video game. The dark, brooding interiors look much like the video "Closer", and the music is probably the darkest side of NIN I have ever heard!
In short, get this game! One, for it's graphics and fun gameplay. Two, for NIN's music and sound effects!
Who you gonna call?!!!
Honestly, if you have not seen "Ghostbusters", and did not like it, then you as dead as those ghosts in the movie, if not more dead. What's not to like? It's a hilarious comedy, one that still gets me cracking up today after having seen if hundreds of times. Everyone in my family quotes lines from it, and it's great fun. The ingenious comedy cast really makes the film soar, from Bill Murray and Dan Aykroyd, to Rick Moranis and Harold Ramis. It was also nice to see Sigourney Weaver in a role other than Ripley from the "Alien" movies. And the special effects, my God, the effects are absolutely incredible, regardless of what anybody says! Some of them you can tell how they did them, but they still look good, while others simply amaze me! This and all the other combined talents of comedy make "Ghostbusters" a delightful special effects comedy!
I grew up with "Ghostbusters". My friends and I obsessed about it, and played "Ghostbusters" with toy proton-packs and traps. I watched "The Real Ghostbusters" every day, and it remains my favorite cartoon. I remember getting "Ghostbusters" as a Christmas gift when I was about 5 years old. That copy has since faded out, but I still watched it, almost every day when my friends came over. I only wish I could've seen it in theaters(I might have seen it there, but I was too young to remember).
Last weekend, I purchased the "Collector's" DVD, and I must say, for "Ghostbusters" fans, and for those who just want to have a good time, it is a must! It has loads of extras, a video commentary as opposed to an audio commentary, and deleted scenes, including a particularly weird scene in which Bill Murray and Dan Aykroyd play street bums instead of Ray Stanz and Pete Venkman. As for the movie itself, the transfer is excellent! The special effects never looked better(well, maybe in the theaters it looked best)!
"Ghostbusters" remains a phenomenon of special effects and incredible hilarity! Unfortunately, the re-uniting of the ghostbusters in "Ghostbusters 2" didn't quite have the same magic of the first film, but I still liked it. If you haven't seen "Ghostbusters", or simply didn't like it because it was "mediocre and dated" as some reviewers at the IMDB have said, I can't help but feel sorry for you. "Ghostbusters" is a great film, not a masterpiece of film, but a masterpiece of special effects, comedy, and great fun!
The Out-of-Towners (1999)
Fair remake of a really funny movie.
"The Out-of-Towners", the original version with Jack Lemmon and Sandy Dennis, is a very funny movie. I always liked it and loved that classic line "Oh My God!". I heard about this remake, and initially passed on it. It didn't interest me. Finally, a friend of mine who liked it bought it and we sat down and watched it. Throughout the movie, I kept referring to the original one. Eventually, this new "Out-of-Towners" became bland, mediocre, and sadly, not very funny.
I don't see what's so funny about John Cleese dancing to music in drag. Also, Steve Martin was funnier in most other movies he has been in. Here, he's...ok. He'll made me smile, and that was about it with an occasional chuckle here and there. I absolutely hated Goldie Hawn's character. I understand that stupidity can be funny, but her character was so stupefyingly moronic, that she was despicable and unlikeable as a character. The screenwriters blamed all the mistakes and mishaps in the movie on her, and so when the couple reunites and forgives each other at the end of the film, we wonder why. This remake is not a bad film, and I didn't mind watching it. Still, it was mediocre, bland, and weak. It was a fair remake, although it shouldn't have been done. The old one was good, but to my understanding, it didn't gain a whole lot of popularity, so a remake of it would be even less popular. What makes this remake stall before takeoff? John Cleese and Goldie Hawn play characters you cant help but hate, and Steve Martin plays a character that we care even less about than we do about this movie.
Nine Inch Nails: Broken (1993)
A masterpiece of shocking imagery and music from Trent Reznor.
After I saw NIN's two tape set "Closure", and listened to their music, I became a fan of NIN(Nine Inch Nails). After viewing almost all of their videos(including the almost unwatchable "Happiness in Slavery"), I came across "Broken", a 20 minute music video compilation that included a couple of the videos from the tape set and a new, too graphic to be released one. To me, it was the last video left, and I had to see it. Trent Reznor's demented, yet artistic genius is fully captured within the 20 minutes of music and really graphic violence and gore.
I rented "Faces of Death" some time ago, and found myself laughing at how stupid it was. It was so obviously fake and it failed to have any emotional effect on me whatsoever. Movies with gore or violence fail to deeply disturb me, although they can bother me a little. "Broken" on the other hand, has some of the most shocking footage that I think I've ever seen. It didn't bother me a whole lot, since I already saw "Happiness in Slavery", and since it was "so bad that it was never released", I had an idea of what to expect, which prepared me for it I guess. I won't go into the details of what's in the movie, only that it's not for the faint hearted. Trent Reznor's dark vision is designed to disturb and shock, yet it has a strange kinetic effect when combined with the music. I thought it was silly to not release it, since they already released "Happiness in Slavery" on tape. "Broken" can't be any worse, since it has "Wish" and "Happiness in Slavery" in it. However, it is bootlegged and is available on the internet, which is where I saw it, so it's not totally out of reach. This is definitely for die hard NIN fans and for people who want something that will truly shock them for the first time in their lives.