Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘movies’ Category

Award season is winding down, and I have seen NONE of the best picture nominees this year, so I figured I should at least make an attempt at one of the categories. I ended up going to see the Oscar-nominated animated shorts, since I went last year and it was pretty fun.

Unfortunately, this year none of the animated shorts really blew me away. I found most of them rather blah, actually. Also, a surprising number of them were from the USA, and the others were from England and Canada (and maybe one from Norway?). Can’t say I’m surprised, considering the nominations in the bigger categories. Yeah, ok, so the Academy Awards are hosted by Hollywood, but would it kill them to consider diversity a bit more?

But I digress. This is about the nominated animated shorts, and the runners up, and my film-uneducated opinions of them.

Oscar Nominated Animated Shorts 2015

The Bigger Picture

The Bigger Picture

This short was from Great Britain, and probably had the most interesting art style. It was part 3D, part 2D, but I thought they did a cool job of blending them together. The story is of two brothers, one who takes care of their aging mother, and the other, who appears to be the favorite, and takes all the credit for the care. While I was impressed by the art style, the story was not unique. It didn’t add anything to this story, which has been told many times before. The mother dies, neither of her sons were with her, it’s very depressing and tragic, but in the end the brothers reconcile (the reason why was not very memorable), and then it’s over. This one felt like Oscar bait to me, so I wouldn’t be surprised if it won, but I don’t think I’d mind either.

The Dam Keeper

The Dam Keeper

 

The Dam Keeper is about a town full of anthropomorphic animals, and focuses on the children. One of them is the Dam Keeper, a pig. The only pig. And he’s an orphan child. So already we’re supposed to feel bad for him, and then he shows up at school and all the other kids make fun of him, because he’s a pig. Also a little bit because he’s often dirty because he works at the dam, but mostly because he was a pig. Let me remind you that all the characters are animals, and the pig was one of the cuter ones. The new girl, a fox, befriends him, but then the pig thinks she’s betrayed him, and he lets his dam duties slide. For some reason, this dam keeps away noxious fumes, so when he neglects his duties, the fumes enter the town below the dam and everyone starts getting sick. Eventually he realizes that she HADN’T been mean to him, and he rushes to save the town and fix their friendship. It ends happily enough. But again, this was a very tired story, and the animation was not all that impressive to me. I’d be surprised if this won the Oscar.

Feast

Feast

 

Of the animated shorts that actually got nominations, this one was far and away my favorite. Feast was Disney’s contribution to the animated shorts, and it was MUCH better than what they gave us last year. The style was typical of Disney’s animations, so it was very clean and well-practiced. It tells the story of a dog owner and his love life as seen through the eyes of the dog. The owner finds a stray puppy and lures him into his home with delicious french fries. The puppy grows up accustomed to other scrumptious human meals and snacks… until the owner gets a girlfriend who is super into healthy food and only gives the dog veggies on top of his regular dog food. The people split up, and after seeing how sad his owner is, the dog finds a way for them to meet and reconcile, despite his distaste for her food. Eventually the happy couple gets married and has a baby, who becomes the dog’s new best friend. Like many other babies, this one finds great joy in spilling its food on the floor, straight into the dog’s waiting jaws. This was a super adorable film, and I enjoyed it for that alone. I wouldn’t be surprised if it won by virtue of the very well-done animation, but it wasn’t that unique. I’d be happy if this one took the Oscar, even though I’m not a huge fan of Disney.

Me and my Moulton

Me and My Moulton

 

I found this animation to be the most boring of the bunch. It is simply one girl telling the audience about a short period of her life in which she and her sisters wanted a bike. Spoilers: they get a bike. There were a few funny bits, like when she tells the doctor she feels sick because her dad has a mustache and no one else in the town does. But it’s the kind of story that only really feels interesting or important to the person living it. The narration was dull. The animation was simple, but clean. But I was bored.

A Single Life

A Single Life

 

This was maybe the most entertaining of the nominated shorts. A Single Life is a very short animation about a woman who finds a record that, when played, can speed up or slow down her life, depending on which direction it’s played in. She jumps from young adulthood, to childhood, to parenthood, to old age, to death. It’s pretty funny, and I like how simple the concept was. The animation style was also a little different, which I liked. I’d be happy if this one took the Oscar.

Runners Up:

Like last year, I found I liked the runners up better than the shorts that actually got nominated. Oh well.

Bus Story

Bus Story

This story was told in a similar style to Me and My Moulton, but it was considerably more humorous, if totally strange. It tells the story of a woman who has always wanted to be a bus driver, because she wants to say hello and wave at people and things. She finally gets her wish, but it turns out she’s pretty terrible at it. The students are weird, she breaks a mirror, she runs over a dog, and eventually she lands the bus in a ditch. It reminded me a bit of that Ed, Edd, and Eddy cartoon that used to be on Cartoon Network back in the days I used to watch that channel, at least in style. It was fun, and I wish it had been nominated, despite how weird it was.

Duet

Duet

I really liked Duet. It was a really pretty, fairly simple animation style. It tells the story of a boy and a girl from birth to adulthood – their separate lives, how they finally meet and, of course, fall in love. The animation was very fluid, and each scene morphed into the next. The story itself was not that unique, but I liked the way it was presented. This deserved a nomination.

Footprints

Footprints

The story was funny, weird, and a little mind-bending, but the animation style hurt to look at. It was that weird shaking sketch-and-watercolor style (if that description doesn’t make any sense, watch the trailer, you’ll know what I mean). It’s the animated version of shaky camera, and it was really distracting and obnoxious to look at. Footprints is about a man who is woken by something breaking his window. He immediately leaves his house and searches the globe for the “creature” that committed the crime. The whole while, we see this monster evolving and growing in the man’s imagination. Eventually, he thinks he’s found it, and shoots it, only to discover that he’s shot at his own house. HE was the monster who broke his window all along. See? Mind-bendy. It may not have been great, but at least it was interesting. I’m not offended that it didn’t get a nomination.

Sweet Cocoon

Sweet Cocoon

Sweet Cocoon might have been my favorite of all the animated shorts we saw. The concept was simple, the animation was pretty and well-done, and the ending was excellent. This short tells the story of two bugs trying to help a caterpillar fit into its cocoon so it can turn into a butterfly. The caterpillar is a bit too bulbous for its cocoon, and so it is a great struggle, and therefore pretty hilarious. Eventually, they succeed, and the two bug friends watch as the caterpillar emerges as a beautiful butterfly. Everyone is pleased with their efforts, and everything is great. That is, until a bird flies up and snatches the butterfly out of the sky. None of them saw that coming. I wish this short had gotten a nomination.

And now it is time for the red carpet! Time to make burritos and live tweet the event!

Read Full Post »

I struggled to decide what to write about last night, and it didn’t help that I got home late and began the evening by catching up on Scandal. Spoilers: things are getting intense and I want to be Abby’s friend.

Anyway, this weekend I watched Odd Thomas, the movie based on the Dean Koontz novel of the same name. It is currently on Netflix, if my review happens to make you want to watch it. Odd Thomas is about a short-order cook, named Odd, at a local diner-type establishment who can see the dead, and this helps him solve murders for his detective friend and possibly father-figure (played by Willem Dafoe, who I think is always fun to watch). He is a strange dude, but pretty adorable.

odd thomas

He can also see these awful creatures called Bodachs, which helps him sometimes prevent death/murder. They don’t really say anything about deaths that aren’t murders or big tragedies, so I don’t know how those work in this universe. Bodachs like to hover around people who are either about to die, or cause the gruesome deaths of other people, because they feed off the pain and suffering. They’re pretty terrifying though, because if they find out you can see them, they’ll kill you. This particular fact causes much stress throughout the movie for our hero, Odd.

bodach

Then there’s Stormy, Odd’s One True Love, they’ll be together forever, girlfriend. She is also a manic pixie dream girl. And I mean the full-on, Wikipedia definition from the first paragraph. She’s pretty, she works in an ice cream shop, she talks like she’s stuck in a dream world, and she drives a vespa. If she is not a MPDG, I don’t know what is. As a result, I found her existence annoying, even though she was a tiny bit useful in helping Odd solve the mystery (though honestly he did most of it on his own). Stormy was mostly an object that Odd had to protect, while the other two female characters were a vague mother-figure (detective friend’s wife) and a random girl who tries to hit on Odd, then gets randomly murdered.

manic pixie dream girl

It’s rather unfortunate, actually, because otherwise I really enjoyed this movie. It was quirky in a similar way to Wristcutters: A Love Story (although that movie has decidedly better female characters). I also liked the mystery aspect of it, because it kept me guessing right up until the end (although one could argue about one of the final twists in the mystery as being cheating, but I’ll leave that to you to decide for yourself).

This movie kind of makes me want to read the Odd Thomas novel series by Dean Koontz. I’ve never read any of his novels. But the lame portrayal of female characters give me pause. At any rate, it’s a fun movie, and a different kind of supernatural than what’s so often mainstream. Odd Thomas himself is a decent enough character, and I think they explain/present his backstory concisely at the beginning – which is sometimes hard to do with a story like this. The world was established very quickly, and there’s really only one thing that doesn’t fit, but this happens at the end, so I don’t want to give any spoilers, but you’ll probably see what I mean when you get to it.

Now, I must be off to get ready for the first day of the semester! My LAST semester of graduate school! If all goes according to plan…

Read Full Post »

You may have noticed that Fantasia appeared on Netflix recently (along with Fantasia 2000 but I pretend that doesn’t exist). As a person who grew up watching that movie nearly every time I went to my grandmother’s house as a child (she had the VHS, I did not), this was a joyous realization. I loved that movie to death! All the different animation styles, dancing plants, centaurs and Greek mythology, DINOSAURS, hippos dancing with ostriches and alligators… oh, and that really creepy one with demons that I forgot about until yesterday.

I’ve started watching Fantasia before going to bed, because the music is nice to listen to, and if the particular animation is boring I can read my book until it gets interesting again (the beginning with the musicians and the clouds, the sorcerer’s apprentice, the “Soundtrack”…).

As a child, there were many things I ignored because I didn’t know any better. As an adult, some of the animation choices are really strange, and sometimes offensive. This is a good time to point out that the original Fantasia was released in 1940. For whatever reason I always thought it had come out in the 60s or 70s, or even 80s (I was born in ’88). A couple days ago when I found Fantasia on Netflix, I discovered my mistake. Knowing this, the problems I see with it now are not so surprising, and some are obviously worse than others. I also still love the animations.

So I’m going to go through most of the animations and give my thoughts, over a decade after the last time I watched this movie as a child. If you’ve never seen Fantasia, I’m not sure I’d recommend trying to watch it for the first time as an adult. I’m not sure what this thing would look like without my childhood nostalgia. That said, I’m not even sure I’d recommend letting your children watch this. Especially the final animation. But I’ll get to that. The Wikipedia page has a good brief description of how each song is animated, for the ones I label as “boring.”

narrator

First, I must introduce our narrator. He’s not the conductor, or a musician. He might introduce himself. But between every song/animation, he tells us what we’re about to see. He also meets Mickey, and talks to the “Soundtrack” like it’s a person. Wikipedia tells me he’s a music critic.

1. Toccata and Fugue in D Minor – Johanne Sebastian Bach

orchestra

This is the first performance, and it features the orchestra with different lighting and shadow effects. Eventually it gets into some animation with clouds and stars and random representations of sound, but I always found this one rather boring – as a child and now.

2. The Nutcracker Suite – Tchaikovsky

Fairy1

I grew up going to The Nutcracker every year with my cousin and grandparents. My cousin and I wore matching dresses, we went out to a fancy dinner… it was a big deal. I have always enjoyed the music from that ballet, especially the bit with all the dances as they perform for the prince and princess on that random island they go to. For the most part, this animation involves performances by plants and fairies. They make everything sparkle with dew, and then as they pass through the seasons, they make the leaves fall off, and eventually they cover everything with frost.

Fairy2

I like the frost fairies the best, but then I’ve always been a fan of winter frost. If there’s enough of it, it always makes things pretty. But! I mustn’t forget the dancing mushrooms. Never have you seen such adorable dancing mushrooms as they have in Fantasia.

mushroom_film

Except for the weirdness that makes them all look generically Asian. I am not sure why they did this. It was 1940 when this was made. Although most of the dances in this part of the ballet are supposed to be ethnic. There’s a Chinese Dance (which is probably this one), a Russian Dance, and an Arabian Dance. But I did warn you – this thing is weird. The tiniest mushroom is still adorable though.

Fish

I almost forgot, this final weirdness in this animation. The sexualized fish. It’s got all this makeup to make it look human, and it’s doing this sensual dance with its fancy see-through fins. It also happens to be my favorite part of the Nutcracker suite (the one with the peacock – at least in the old Seattle performance). I feel like they could have done without making the fish humanoid. But watching it now, it just seemed creepy.

3. The Sorcerer’s Apprentice – Paul Dukas

Sorcerer's Apprentice

This is another one I found boring. I’m not really sure why. Maybe it goes on too long for me. Maybe I just really don’t like Mickey. Basically, this is based on a poem by Goethe. There’s a sorcerer, and he has an apprentice, who he asks to carry some water around. The apprentice, thinking he’s very clever, decides to enchant a broomstick to carry the water for him. He then conveniently forgets how to make the spell stop. So while he’s playing around with magic waves, the broomsticks multiply and carry EVEN MORE WATER all over the place. And Mickey – the apprentice – falls asleep. Disaster ensues, and finally the sorcerer has to come in all angry and put it right. Maybe as a child the sorcerer scared me. There’s something about his eyes that seems very cruel.

4. Rite of Spring – Igor Stravinsky

Dinosaurs1

This one is my favorite. Mostly because there are dinosaurs. This song is set to an animation depicting the beginning of Earth. First we have volcanoes as the tectonic plates are created (though that’s not what they implied in the animation, because they didn’t know about that back then), then we watch as single-celled organisms evolve eventually into dinosaurs. The animation ends with the death of the dinosaurs (by extremely high temperatures across the planet rather than the asteroid, because again, they didn’t know any better back then) but not before we see a T-rex fight a stegosaurus. Honestly, I’m not sure that’s possible, because I think the stegos were Triassic and the T-rex was Cretaceous, and there’s the whole Jurassic between them, but whatever. It’s still cool to see. They also throw in an Archaeopteryx flying dinosaur, which is cool.

dinosaurs2

The funny part is at the end, though, when the dinosaurs are dying as they travel across the desert in search of water and food. Nearly all of them are dragging their tails. We now know that this isn’t true, because in all the dinosaur tracks we have, we’ve never seen the remnants of a dragging tail. They were used for balance, yes, but not as a third leg. But I forgive them, because it was 1940.

Intermission

soundtrack

At this time we are presented with the intermission, which includes the narrator/host man coaxing the “Soundtrack” into showing what he does with a little sound animation. It’s odd and random, and not very interesting.

5. The Pastoral Symphony – Beethoven

Fantasia - Pastoral Symphony

This animation is set in a mythical world of Greco-Roman beings, like fauns, unicorns, cupids, Pegasus, Bacchus, centaurs, and… centaurettes. Yes, that is what they chose to call the female centaurs. The most demeaning form of that word they could come up with, in my opinion. But it gets weirder. When we first see the centaurettes, they are naked and bathing. I mean, this sort of scene seems totally normal given the ancient Greek world they exist in. Just seems like a weird thing for a children’s movie. But I was a child when I watched this, and never thought anything of it, so who knows?

Centaurette2

 

Centaurette1

 

The whole goal of these centaurettes, it seems, is to attract one of the centaurs. They spend all this time with the cupids doing their hair and walking around like models. And then, in the end, everyone pairs up perfectly. It’s rather boring, if you ask me, but when I was a kid I loved this part. Looking at it now… I find it a bit odd that, for the most part, the centaurs match up by color. The blue ones pair up with other blue centaurs. The pink goes with the pink. The yellow goes with the yellow, and so on. I am trying not to read too much into it – it’s an animated movie after all – but this was made in 1940.

6. Dance of the Hours – Amilcare Ponchielli

Hippo

This is a dance in 4 parts: morning, afternoon, evening, and night. Morning is represented by ostriches, afternoon by hippos, evening by elephants, and night by alligators. Mostly they just do a lot of ballet and then dance around together until their palace collapses at the end. I always found this one a bit boring as a child. I fell asleep watching this one last night, even.

7. Night on Bald Mountain – Modest Mussorgsky & Ave Maria – Franz Schubert

?????????????????????

This is the one I find the most disturbing. It begins with the devil on top of a mountain overlooking a sleeping town. The devil then calls forth all his spirits and demons, and forces them to dance for him. The imagery is super creepy. I’m fairly certain it gave me nightmares as a child, and I may have blocked it from my memory until my housemate reminded me of it a couple days ago.

Demon_Concept_Art

I won’t post more photos than that here, but I will leave you with this part of Fantasia to peruse at your own peril. One of the earliest spirits to appear are those that have been hanged – they fly through the noose on their way to the devil. So many creepy, crawly, horned, winged, ghostly beasts and figures. I KNOW I had nightmares about this animation. Also, fun fact: if this were in 3D is would probably cause children to run screaming from the theater, as there is a significant portion that consists of skulls alternating with demon women (and their boobs) flying at the screen.

I hope you have enjoyed this random snippet from my childhood, revisited. If you intend to watch Fantasia, you have been thoroughly warned.

Read Full Post »

I went to see Into the Woods this weekend with high expectations after all the fuss about what Disney was or was not cutting from the original musical. Sondheim said he liked it, and claimed most of the dreadful rumors were false, and so I had high hopes. For those of you who don’t know, Into the Woods is a musical about the darker side of fairytales. It’s about losing childhood innocence, and it’s about how nothing is perfect in life, but you can still make the most of it. A handful of classic fairytales, including The Baker and His Wife, Little Red Riding Hood, Jack and the Beanstalk, Cinderella, Rapunzel… and probably a couple others are all woven together into the same universe, which gives the characters greater depth and allows them to grow throughout the story. Every single one of them (as far as I can remember) evolves during the story. Character development is spectacular, and is probably my favorite part of this ensemble story.

into the woods poster

I am happy to say that I was not disappointed, and Into the Woods definitely did NOT suck! Though, of course, some things were cut because it’s tough to shrink a full-length musical into the time frame of a movie, but overall I don’t think anything was lost. Now, I will say now that I do not promise no spoilers. I’ll try to keep them light, but I’m writing this with the perspective of having seen the original once before, and that plays a big part in how I felt about the movie itself. That being said, I only saw it once, and it was a couple years ago, so it is not quite so fresh in my head as to really color my opinion of the movie. However, I went to see it with one of my best friends who has seen it loads of times and it’s his favorite musical, and he liked it too.

into the woods agony

This review follows no particular plot, so I’m just going to talk about things as I think of them. First – the performance of Agony alone is a good enough reason to go see this movie. Chris Pine and what’s-his-name are absolutely fantastic as the princes, and this particular scene is filmed in a way that one just could not do on stage. They literally sing the whole song while prancing around on a waterfall. It is magical, and hilarious, and everything this song/performance was meant to be. If nothing else in this post persuades you, go see the movie for this scene.

THR_COSTUME_DESIGNERS_3_Embed copy

My second favorite part about seeing this as a movie rather than a stage performance are the costumes. They pulled out all the stops. Everything is so gorgeous to look at! I particularly loved Cinderella’s slippers. And probably her whole festival gown. The continuity of styles between her costume and her mother’s willow tree was very well done.

anna-kendrick-new-into-woods-stills

 

In case anyone was worried based on the rumors than went around, the baker’s wife keeps her solo and her story goes just as it does in the original. So no worries there. I can see why Emily Blunt already has a Golden Globe nomination for best actress. She was spectacular – despite the fact that she was definitely pregnant in real life during the filming of this movie. Try not to think about it.

prologue

The cast did an excellent job, by the way. I loved everyone in their roles. And while I still wish Bernadette Peters had been the witch (she is just so perfect in that role and I love her voice for it too), Meryl Streep did an excellent job filling her shoes. Her voice may not be as witchy, but she made the role her own, and I was ultimately happy with it.

The thing that bothered me the most, though, was how they did Mr. Wolf. In the original, the guy is dressed up very much like a wolf. They tried very hard to remove all semblance of humanoid features, aside from the fact that he’s standing and wearing clothes. Johnny Depp, however… not so much. Sure, he’s got super creepy hands, and a cute hat with wolf ears… wait… it’s not supposed to be cute.

Johnny_Depp__Meryl_Streep_and_James_Corden_star_in_fairytale__song_filled_Into_The_Woods_trailer

I mean, yes, he looks very creepy, but they still let him look like Johnny Depp, and it felt very much like “We are Disney and we LUUUURRRRRVVVEEEE Johnny Depp, so we’re throwing him in this movie, but we’re not going to make him look like a wolf because he is just too pretty.” The result is Johnny Depp being Creepy!Johnny Depp with a tail and an ear hat. It wasn’t clear if he was supposed to be a wolf or a man dressed like a wolf. True, this whole exchange between Little Red Riding Hood and Mr. Wolf is supposed to have very dark tones that hint at losing childhood innocence and protecting oneself from strange men (need I say more?), but… not making Johnny Depp look like a wolf made this much darker than I thought it was meant to be. Says the girl who just got 2 copies of the newly-translated first edition of Grimms’ Fairy Tales. So perhaps it was meant to be artistic. Sometimes it’s hard to tell when Johnny Depp is involved.

The other flaws included removing a few of the reprise numbers for length, which I completely understand. It also bugged me that Rapunzel doesn’t die. She sort of just goes off with her prince after standing up to the witch and that’s the last we see of her. But I didn’t feel that this took anything away from the plot since the major events still happen.

Into the Woods is clever, fantastical, and dark, and I am surprised to say that Disney actually did a pretty good job of translating the musical to the big screen. Would see again, and would recommend to a friend.

Read Full Post »

In honor of Halloween week, I give you my review of my new favorite comedy horror film. Ok, so I still love Cabin in the Woods above all others in this category, but it might be tied with Tucker and Dale vs. Evil, and Heathers.

movie poster

Detention (2011 or 2012 depending on what you’re looking at)

Starring: Shanley Caswell (Riley), Josh Hutcherson (Clapton), Spencer Locke (Ione), Aaron David Johnson (Sanderson), and a bunch of other people, including Dane Cook (don’t worry, he plays an asshole, so those of you who hate him can still hate him, and those of you who don’t will find him funny AND an asshole).

Directed by: Joseph Kahn

At a VERY basic level, it’s about a bunch of high school kids trying to survive a serial killer (Cinderhella) in their hometown of Grizzly Lake. It’s a horror comedy in the same vein as Scream, Cabin in the Woods, and Tucker and Dale vs. Evil. I will warn you now – it is very fast-paced, and often feels as though whoever wrote it was on some serious hard core drugs as they came up with it, but ultimately I think it does a pretty damn good job of bringing everything full circle with appropriately placed foreshadowing woven in amongst all the randomosity and outrageous humor. That said, I don’t think it would work nearly as well if it was a slower-paced story. One of the reviews on Netflix says it perfectly: you know how some scripts are like sharks? They have to keep moving or they’ll die? This is definitely one of those scripts.

The writers/directors also had an obsession with the 90s. There is an insane number of 90s references. Also there might be time travel. Don’t think about it too hard, and it’s ok. Sometimes I think this is supposed to take place a bit in the future, or perhaps this is just a very strange school full of scientific geniuses. It’s hard to tell. But like I said, don’t think about it too hard and the crazy is just hilarious. I’ll give you the trailer, but I don’t think it quite does it justice as far as telling you what you’re really getting yourself into.

Really, it’s something like this:

detention-equation2

Did I mention there’s also a Canadian who talks like every moment of his life is living a slam poetry performance? Or that there’s a very Freaky Friday subplot? There also might be aliens. Or someone who is part fly. If that’s not enough to get you intrigued, here are some of my favorite lines (many of which remind me of my favorites from Heathers) and images:

fashion victim

Riley: “Every morning I try to remember that I’m only the second biggest loser to walk Grizzly Hills High. First place goes to the drunk slut who screwed the dead mascot in 1992. But the 90’s are history, and so am I.”

detention 2011 riley

Gord the Canadian: “Yes, I like to start off by saying that this girl’s argument is ridiculous! Vegetarians who eat fish are hypocrites! She thinks that because fish feel no pain they don’t value their lives. Absurd!”

gord

Clapton: I’d hide in a sporting goods store if zombies attacked.

Sanderson: Costco. Zombies don’t have memberships.

Clapton

do the crane thing

These people must have had a ridiculously good time making this movie, if nothing else.

cast having fun

I am sure this movie has many flaws. But I thought it was well done and enjoyable for what it was: a horror comedy. Plus Josh Hutcherson is adorable. They did a good job of hiding who the Cinderhella killer was until the audience was supposed to know, too. I generally don’t like it when movies/TV shows try to do a bunch of things all at once, but somehow I think it worked for this one.

So, if you’re looking for something kind of scary and kind of ridiculous to watch for Halloween week, Detention is on Netflix! Enjoy!

 

Read Full Post »

I’ve just finished a long day of organizing 267 rock samples into boxes today, and so have decided that this week’s blog post will be my drunken review of a random, and probably terrible, movie. Tonight, I have chosen “The Returned” as my victim. It wins because not only is it a futuristic zombie movie, but it co-stars Kris Holden-Ried, my future celebrity husband. It’s possible this review could devolve into reminiscing about the brief moment I met him.

IMG_0764

Yup. He is tall and I am short, and he said it was nice to meet me. I was smitten because the previous day he’d told us at his panel interview that if he could be any supernatural creature he would be a vampire so he could be immortal. We’re soulmates, ok? Leave me alone.

I am literally only half a glass in and I’ve already gone on a tangent. Oops.

But seriously, I love zombie movies. So does my roommate, so I feel a little bad about watching this without her (especially since she watches Lost Girl, for which Kris Holden-Ried is famous), but probably this is the kind of movie I would watch multiple times, no matter how bad it ends up being.

Before I begin this movie, I’d like to point out that the top 3 movies Netflix says are like it are called “Zombie Massacre,” “Hell,” and “Devil’s Knot.” The internet is being weird so I can’t see what the photo on the cover is, but those are great titles.

The-Returned-2013-Movie-Poster

So much blood and death and creepy footage during the credits. Off to a good start.

Ah, so they’re going with that whole, main character had a tragic past and watched her parents get eaten by the zombies thing. Bummer. Now seems like a good time to mention that in this future, there’s an antidote to zombie-ism. There’s just not enough for everyone. Our heroine appears to be a doctor, and Holden-Ried is the adorable boyfriend? Husband? I dunno… he still looks like a werewolf to me.

Why do we care about the security guard’s haircut?

Oh snap, The Returned are the discriminated group of the future! There are protesters outside the hospital, but I still have no idea what they’re protesting. Can I have some plot please? Where are all the zombies?? All I see are ex-zombies! I DEMAND ZOMBIES NOW.

HEY IT’S A LOST GIRL REUNION PARTY!! Dyson and the evil guy from season 3. Yeaaaaaah

The novel pitch this woman just gave is… absurd… and somehow it’s a segue into THE BIG SECRET REVEAL which is actually really freaking obvious given the circumstances. Note to self: always be prepared for zombies. NO NO NO don’t ring the damn bell!! Zombies are attracted by noise! EVERYONE KNOWS THAT.

That was supposed to be an epic bomb drop. But… he’s on the cover image for the movie as half-zombie, so… not surprised. Bummer Dyson, er… whatever your name is in this. Secretly I want to see him become a zombie anyway.

Hehe this is a Canadian zombie movie.

Ok, so, the whole premise of this movie is that they are running out of the zombie antidote. Because of a lack of funding, or a cutback in funding. Um. Shouldn’t anti-zombie funding be everyone’s #1 priority? I mean seriously… even the Pentagon has a plan for a zombie outbreak. According to this movie, the person needs to get the first shot of the antidote within 36 hours. Money should be pouring in to mass produce this shit. But instead they are discriminating against the Returned. The assholes of the world would rather just have them killed or segregated than spend money to try to cure them/keep them supplied with meds. I sense a parallel to something like HIV/AIDS research, but that could be the wine talking, because I actually know nothing about HIV/AIDS research… Whoa… this just got really political. I’m actually enjoying the buildup of the plot now. This movie might not be as terrible as I anticipated.

Oh daaaaamn a big red “RETURNED” note gets slapped on your ID if you get diagnosed with zombie-ism and survive. This movie is really depressing.

Well, this is different… the scary thing isn’t the zombies, but the returned-haters. This is awfully depressing for a zombie movie. What the hell, Canada?

Ooooo fucksocks.

Aww they are still bros, and it’s beautiful.

They just had a bonding moment about counting the vials of zombie-antidote. Adorable.

DID SHE JUST SAY “FRAKKING”???? NERD. Oh wait, I do that all the time…

“That’s kind of spooky.” Ok, you’re watching ye old Dracula, but I’m hearing weird thumping noises around my house and I’m home alone. THAT is spooky.

Seriously, what are those noises?

Hey look, that guy’s from “Bitten”! Canada, do you have more than 15 actors? I am growing concerned. I mean, they’re good. But… don’t you have more of them?

I’m sorry Canada, I promise I really love you, and I only jest in a loving way.

ZOMBIEEEESSSSSS

Ok… what… what just happened….  NOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!! I was not expecting this movie to be so good NOOOOOOOO everything is terrible. The depression continues and everything sucks.

This movie is not about zombies. It’s about really shitty friends and horrible illnesses. This might be the wine talking. You should watch this movie. And yell at it.

This is going to go very, very wrong, I can already tell. Never has a zombie movie been this depressing.

Would I run someone over just to get the zombie-antidote they stole from me because I loved someone who was infected? Maybe. Maybe not. Wow this movie is intense.

I am seriously nearly in tears over this movie. What the hell. It’s about ZOMBIES. Canada, go home, you are drunk, and doing this wrong. Oh wait… maybe I am the drunk one.

NOOOOOOOOO WTF CANADA WHY HAVE YOU DONE THIS TO ME.

Those characters should die. Horrible deaths. Gods damn, Canada, only you could make a zombie movie this tragic.

I need a hug.

No one is here, so I’ll just watch an episode of X-Files to feel better about life. Somehow this works. It’s, um, research for Halloween?

Read Full Post »

Last week I finally watched Austenland, and absolutely regretted nearly every second of it. There are some VERY good reasons it only got a 30% on Rotten Tomatoes. Here’s the trailer:

At first glance, it looks like another movie about silly Jane Austen fans. I myself am a huge Austen fan (though I probably would never want to live in an experience like this one) – I’ve been to Bath, England, and checked out all her old haunts, and I’ve read all the finished books. Sure, I love Mr. Darcy as much as most Austen fans, but my favorite is probably Mr. Tilney. JJ Field portrayed Mr. Tilney in a BBC version of Northanger Abbey, and I’ve enjoyed his performances in other movies. Bret McKenzie is always funny (and also FIGWIT), and Jennifer Coolidge us usually hilarious. So I figured this movie would at least be funny, and maybe a little unrealistically cute, and I was ok with that.

Boy, was I horribly wrong.

I’m going to give a lot of spoilers for this movie, so if you, for whatever reason, really want to see this movie without spoilers, probably you should stop reading now. Though I highly advise against it. It’s terrible. Here’s why:

First, what the trailer doesn’t tell you is that all the men are actors paid to be there and pretend to fall in love with the women who show up for the vacation. Everyone is paired off, typical of a Jane Austen novel, and the women know the men are actors going into it. Personally, I felt this was a huge flaw, but mostly this is a product of the fact that it was meant as a romantic comedy. It was powerfully unrealistic, but in the end it did play an important role in the conflict – our main character, Jane “Erstwhile,” played by Keri Russell, can’t tell what’s real by the end of the movie and is extremely distraught over this and has trouble trusting her own feelings. This may have been the only well-written (or at least logically-written) part of the whole movie.

Basically all the characters sucked. They either weren’t likable, or their personalities were about as interesting as a cardboard box. Many of them were made to look mental (read: if you are a Jane Austen fan, you are probably mental). Jane is meant to be perceived as mental (her entire home is decorated like an old lady’s home, because that’s as close to Jane Austen’s style as they could get, apparently), but when she gets to Austenland, she ends up appearing as the only sane character. If that weren’t bad enough, she has absolutely no agency. Her character buildup is basically “Look, this girl is obsessed with Mr. Darcy, just like every other Jane Austen fan. Also her job is boring but we don’t really know what she does other than that she went to school for it for a little while. Eh, who cares, she just wants romance anyway because she’s a boring one-dimensional female character.” I struggled through the entire movie to figure out what she wanted in life, or at the very least out of this experience at Austenland. If she knew the men were all actors, she certainly couldn’t have expected romance out of the experience.

I will give them points for throwing a little twist on that particular plot aspect. Jane develops a relationship with the stableboy, who she assumes isn’t an actor, and isn’t part of the experience, more like proper hired help to make the experience run smoothly. As it turns out, he IS an actor, and he was meant to be paired up with her all along. He even pretends that he’s not part of the experience just to win her over. It’s kind of sick the way it all plays out, actually. The fact that this stableboy character was played by Bret McKenzie made him bearable as an antagonist character, but ugh… what a let down. It also seemed a bit cruel for a romantic comedy, but what do I know?

JJ Field did alright with the role he was given, but I really wish he hadn’t been in this movie. Same goes for James Callis. They, as well as Bret McKenzie, could all have done much better than this pitiful excuse of a movie, and I haven’t even gotten to the worst part yet. Unfortunately, they made JJ Field make a half-hearted attempt at being the “Mr. Darcy character.” He was all broody, and didn’t like to dance. But he didn’t stick to any other characteristic of Mr. Darcy. In fact, that detail specifically made me think the writers/directors of this movie may not have ever read a Jane Austen novel in their lives. Hell, it could have been Nicholas-Sparks-Land and you’d have the same story (with less awkward clothing and hairstyles).

So here’s the worst part:

This romantic comedy has an attempted rape.

They don’t call it that (using the term “assault” instead), of course, but that only adds to the horribleness with which they handled this particular plot point. Jane almost gets raped by the husband of the woman who runs the whole operation. JJ Field manages to rescue her just in time, and it is implied that this sort of thing has happened before.

And the old bastard gets away with it.

The night it happens, Jane brushes it off like it’s nothing, and the movie continues, and it isn’t brought up again until Jane threatens the woman who runs the place with reporting the guy simply because she is absolutely upset about the whole experience and how the love is all fake, etc. etc. She doesn’t consider reporting him because IT WAS A HORRIBLE THING FOR HIM TO DO, it’s just an afterthought to the rest of her awful experience in Austenland. THEN, at the end of the movie, when the woman in charge tries to smooth everything over by sending Bret’s character to the airport to apologize and pretend to still be interesting in her, Jane backs down and confesses that she wasn’t going to report the man who attacked her, so they didn’t need to worry about her ruining the business. She just wanted to go home. This bastard NEVER sees the consequences of his actions. His attempted rape is treated like it’s no big deal.

No wonder we have such a problem with rape culture in this country.

If it weren’t for that attempted rape scene, I could have just been annoyed I’d wasted my time with a boring movie. But that alone made me take a closer look at the whole thing, and just thinking about this movie makes me angry. Luckily I got it for one free night at Redbox and didn’t actually lose any money to it, which would have just infuriated me further.

So, avoid watching Austenland at all costs. It will not make you proud to be a fan of Jane Austen.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »