Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Movie List 2013: 36 - 50

The continuing list of all the movies I've watched this year.

I occasionally use some swear words so those who are sensitive about that sort of thing should consider themselves warned.

 * = rewatched


Evil Dead

A group of friends meet at a secluded cabin to try and help one of them overcome her drug addiction, but while investigating a noxious smell coming from the basement they encounter a strange book and accidentally release a demon that begins possessing and mutilating them one by one.

Genre: Modern Remake of a Horror Classic

Have you ever gone to see a movie with someone else and the memory of the movie becomes inexorably tied to your experience of going to the movie? Thus your memories of the movie itself are interspliced with your memories of seeing it while on a date with a beautiful women and wanting to hold her hand because you're considerably freaked out...for example...


In other news! I haven't seen the original since high school, so I'm in no position to compare the two. I tried to watch it before I saw the new one, but there's this scene early on where freaky shit starts happening by this trap door in the floor and I was right next to a very similar thing in my own floor and I decided "Oh, Hell no. Nonononono." I'll probably go watch that whole series later in the year though.

But I quite enjoyed this new remake! I was really freaked out and often considerably disgusted and I suppose that's kind of the point of a movie like this, isn't it? It's like a roller coaster in a way: you strap yourself in to be freaked out, because there's something exhilarating about being freaked out.

The one big complaint I have with it is that the characters are mostly awful. Usually this would be a deal breaker with me, but in a story like this the characters are more or less props. There are many different types of horror movies, but for the sake of explanation let's say there are just two: the ones about Fear & the ones about Horror. Some scary movies are about Fear and they need quality characters that you can empathize with in order to share in their fear and also to have fear for their well being. A movie like Evil Dead, however, isn't about Fear it's about Horror. It's about that horrifying sensation of shock and disgust that comes with seeing something grotesque, thus the characters are often just props used to create situations of horror. I would certainly have preferred better characters, but they could have been a lot worse and they got the job done.

In terms of the movie as a whole I find Evil Dead's depiction of possession to be very interesting. The demon is crude in its speech and actions. It jumps from person to person and mutilates them just for the fun of it. It has this manic and perverse nature that brings to mind a kid burning ants with a magnifying glass. In my mind this is what separates it from the others of the genre. I have no interest in movies like Hostel and Saw, but Evil Dead combines the grotesque with that gleeful smirk of a malevolent child and it makes everything all the more intriguing. At the end of the day the movie is full of imagery and ideas that stick with you long after the movie is over and that's exactly what I want from a Horror movie like this, and thus I like it quite a bit.


Interview with the Vampire

A vampire tells the story of his life to a journalist.

Genre: Brooding Vampires

Right off the bat can I just say that there should have been much more Christian Slater in the this movie? Can I also just mention that he was far and away the main hottie in the movie? Because damn, folks, he is looking dashing as hell up in this movie.

I've been told I'm a little late to the party for having never seen this until now, but there's something about vampire movies that I've generally avoided. At the very least I'm dead certain that I've seen parts of this one before, just never the whole thing. I think I'd always catch bits and pieces of it when they played it on TV sometimes.

Anyways, I like this one; it's got a lot of memorable moments. There were definitely some parts that lagged a bit, but overall I enjoyed it. I certainly wasn't expecting Tom Cruise to outact Brad Pitt though, but he definitely does. Brad Pitt's role is rather monotone, while Cruise kind of just crackles with manic energy. A very young Kirsten Dunst also stars in the movie and she was...alright, I guess. Certainly no young Natalie Portman or anything. I probably won't find myself dying to see this one again, but I'm definitely glad I watched it and if someone else put it in I'd have no objections.

But seriously, Christian Slater needed so much more screen time.



A boy is sent to strange hard labor camp after being convicted of stealing a pair of shoes. Every day each of the kids of the camp have to dig a hold 6 feet deep and 6 feet wide. But what exactly are they digging for?

Genre: Kids' Adventure

This was actually the first time I'd seen this one since it first came out in theaters. It's not really the kind of movie that you find yourself with a need to see, but when you're at someone's house trying to pick out a movie to watch and you see something like this on the shelf, well...

When you have a chance to watch an obscure movie like this, you take it. That's all I'm saying.

I was a big fan of the book and the movie is certainly an interesting adaptation, but there's just something...too light about it? It's kind of has the air of a family friendly TV special: seemingly low budget, has a moral message that's delivered very heavy handedly, and it maintains a feeling of lightheartedness even during its serious moments (which also means there's never really any true sense of urgency or danger).

So yeah, my personal opinion is that it would have been better if it had been a little more serious and little more dark, but it's very enjoyable for what it is. I had a good time watching it. If someone wanted to watch it with me I'd be up for seeing it again. Why not.

Also before I wrap this up I feel the need to say that Jon Voight is brilliant in this movie. His performance is just so weird! He completely steals the focus from any scene he's in and is chewing up the scenery left and right. It's amazing.


Cabin in the Woods

A group of scientists manipulates a group of friends into taking a vacation to a remote cabin in the woods for mysterious reasons.

Genre: A Loving Hate Letter to Horror Movies

This is a weird movie for me to talk about because the plot and the characters aren't what I like about it. The thing I enjoy so much about it is the odd way it isn't a horror movie at all, but a pseudo love letter to horror movies. I know this is a copout, but Joey Comeau's review of this movie is so pitch perfect that I can't even begin to talk about without masquerading his ideas and points as my own, so you should probably just go to the source and read his review.


Stranger than Fiction

Harold Crick begins to hear a voice narrating his life. Even more concerning is that the voice says that Harold is going to die soon. Can he figure out the nature of his story or perhaps track down the author and convince them not to kill him?

Genre: Modern Fairy Tale

Oh, Will Farrell, much like Jim Carrey you are at your best when you're doing drama mixed with comedy instead of just nonstop comedy.

It is just a gem of a movie. It's quirky and dark, it has such a cute romance, the characters are great, and the story is so strange and kind of wonderful. It's a perfect balance of drama and comedy and romance and fantasy. I liked it so much that I watched it twice. I might have watched it yet again, but I was borrowing it from a friend and had to get it back to them.

In conclusion: I love this movie.


While You Were Sleeping

A woman saves a handsome stranger from getting hit by a train and through a series of misunderstanding is mistaken as the man's fiance.

Genre: Romantic Comedy

This is kind of one of those dorky cookie cutter romance movies, but, Lord help me, I keep coming back to it. I love the shlubby Sandra Bullock and dorky Bill Pullman combo. And I love just how utterly ridiculous the the whole thing is. Whatever! It's just a really cute movie! DON'T JUDGE ME!


Suicide Club

People begin to commit suicide en masse and various parties are all trying to figure out why.

Genre: Japanese WTF Horror

This movie is awful. Just. Awful.

There are all sorts of random shit going on in this thing, none of the story threads are developed, and none of the them are successfully concluded.  It's like they had all these ideas and tried to stuff them all in and inevitably wrote themself into a corner and didn't have the skill to get out. I mean, heaven forbid you edit your story to clean it up. Maybe drop some of random shit and actually develop the parts that matter?

I watched the entire bizarre thing just to see how they wrapped it up and then the ending was ridiculous and stupid and didn't make any sense or explain much of anything. Just UGH! Why!?

I feel like this movie stole an hour and a half of my life and I choose to hold a grudge over this.


Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

A man finds out that his ex girlfriend has undergone a new scientific procedure to remove all her memories of him. In retaliation he goes to have his memories of her deleted too. However, as the memories begin to disappear he realizes that this will mean losing all of the good memories along with the bad and desperately tries to stop the procedure.

Genre: Sci-Fi drama

I love this movie. It's just such a fascinating idea and the it is developed and executed in such a beautiful way. It's weird, it's outgoing, it's endearing, it's memorable, and best of all its thought provoking. It's about seeing the beautiful in the terrible. About how all our great memories are intertwined with the bad ones and how you can either have both or neither. And it's just so freaking good!


Romancing the Stone

A romance novelist gets flung into a dangerous adventure when her sister gets kidnapped.

Genre: Silly Adventure

There's been a scene stuck in my head since childhood of a movie where at the end the hero (who is kind of like a Kurt Russell, but not Kurt Russell) has gator boots on and maybe something about a jewel. I asked my friends on Facebook if they knew what movie that was, and my sister actually came up with the answer: Romancing the Stone! I'm pretty sure I had seen part of it while at my Uncle's house as a kid, and I've seen the ending a couple times on TV as well, but this is the first time I recall seeing the whole thing.

On the whole it's pretty fun. I really liked the main character, although I felt that she kind of ended up playing second fiddle to everything else, which is too bad. Also her romance with the Michael Douglas guy was a bit silly. I mean, sure, I can see why he'd seem new and exciting and obviously I can see why they'd go have some wild and crazy sex, but let's be realistic. She lives in New York and is a novelist, while he had preciously been living in the jungle for years collecting birds to sell in order to buy a boat. Match made in heaven? Probably not. I tend to be a stickler when it comes to unrealistic romance though (as you've probably already noticed).

Whatever! It's a silly adventure movie! It's about silly adventures and things going wrong and people coming to your rescue and all that jazz.


30 Days of Night

In the town of Barrow, Alaska the sun has just set and it won't return for an entire month and unfortunately for Barrow a clot of vampires decides that this is the perfect time for a visit.

Genre: Comicbook adapted horror

Oh, I have so many mixed emotions regarding this movie. It does so many things right, but it also does so, so many things wrong.

(I should mention that I'm a big fan of the original comic and thus I can't help but compare the two.)

I think the movie does a great job of expanding the story and the development of the characters in order to make it feature length. I think the acting is all very good, the look of the movie is very good.

But I don't like how the vampires were handled and that's kind of a big deal in a movie about vampires. In the comic they're quite animalistic in their brutality, but they're still very eloquent and intelligent in their demeanor. In the movie, however, they're almost like aliens, with all these cocking their heads to the side over things. Either that or they're like zombies where they just react and eat and there's nothing between the eyes. Oh! and don't get me started about when they eat. When they feast on the humans it looks like they're having a seizure, their heads just wavin' all over the place. I realize that certain animals will bite into their prey and thrash their heads in order to tear a piece off, but that's not what they're doing! They go at it like one of those pie eating contests where they tie your hands behind your back. It's weird and unnatural to the point of distraction. It bothers me to no end.

Also they screwed up the ending and ruined the best line in the book. The ending of the comic was amazing and powerful. And the movie tried to capture that, but it didn't have the tension the comic did. Sure, I liked the movie's new motivation behind the final showdown, but the execution of it just wasn't as good.

In summation: it's a very interesting adaptation, but overall the comic is much better. Although  I wish someone could combine the best parts of the movie with the best parts of the comic to create some sort of perfect hybrid story.


John Dies at the End

Two friends are exposed to a frightening new drug that awakens them to the horrors hiding behind the veil of our reality.

Genre: Bizarre horror comedy

Oh, I have mixed feelings about this one.

On one hand I think it's an amazing adaptation. The casting, the look, the dialogue: it's got the feel of the book down to a tee.

But, BUT, I think the plot is severely flawed. I'll admit that the book would be an extremely hard one to adapt. It's essentially three different story arcs that are all tied up in one another. But I feel they ended up going with one of the more memorable and JohnDiesiest stories instead of the best one for the movie and by doing so they aren't able to pull off a proper ending. The ending to the book is twisted and dark and all of the book's threads get pulled together into a dark little knot. It makes you want to read it again so you can see the story in this new light. But the movie's ending...is just an ending. Just an "okay, it's over now."

I think if you've read the book then the movie is a very interesting adaptation and is well worth watching if only to see the many interesting ways they translated the book's feel and imagery.
However, if you've never read the book I think this movie would be extremely confusing and not entirely satisfying. You'd still get a kick out of the jokes and the weirdness and maybe it would be worth it for that?

I can't say for sure.


Deep Blue Sea

A group of scientists genetically engineer super-intelligent sharks in order to find a cure for Alzherimer's Disease, but have to fight for their lives when the sharks get loose in their lab.

Genre: Killer animals attack

If you're ever on a date and want to know how cool this person is then ask them what they think about Deep Blue Sea.

If they love it then you should marry them. Okay, well, no, don't marry them (although you certainly could do a lot worse), but definitely increase your attraction to them. Actually your brain will take care of that part for you. Just appreciate them that much more.

If they don't like it, then you should let them know that, "We dueling with the mind /You blind, crippled, or crazy / You're real easy to find / Struggling to flow with hemorrhages in your throat / Getting the lap dance while I smash through your boat."

If they've never seen it before then you've got yourself a great activity for your next date right there! Be the one to show them Deep Blue Sea!

I'm sure someone out there is saying, "Really, Jesse? The movie about the super intelligent sharks that attack scientists? That's the movie you're hyping?" And Yes. Yes I am.

You know those individuals who are just completely at ease with themselves? Who embrace themselves flaws and all? Who can laugh at themselves and will do what makes them happy because they don't care what anyone else thinks about them? And how all of that just makes them so cool? But you could never do what they do because it would be ridiculous on you because you do care? Deep Blue Sea is like one of those people. It's silly and stupid and fun and exciting and it knows it and embraces all those parts of itself and that's what makes it amazing. It is one of the few movies that I can watch again and again and never get sick of it.


The Golden Child

A social worker must find a kidnapped child who happens to be mystical child of great power and save him from the forces of evil who wish to corrupt him.

Genre: 80s Asianesque Adventure

My friend told me that Big Trouble In Little China reminded her of this movie...multiple times. Since I am a huge Big Trouble fan I felt that I needed to see a movie that could be so closely related.

HOWEVER, I really shouldn't have gone in thinking "I bet this movie will be just like one of my favorite movies!" In hindsight that was a terrible idea. I now find myself unable to judge it on its own merits, so here is my advice: if you see this movie just see it for what it is, don't compare it to anything, because Big Trouble is so much better. Dammit! I'm comparing them again! I can't stop myself. Ugh! I don't deserve to review this movie. I fell asleep halfway through it and didn't go back to see the rest of it until a couple days later!

Jeez...okay, I'm recusing myself from this review. My friend really likes this movie. She has amazing taste. There's a scene with a water glass that I really enjoyed. Eddie Murphy was so much better back in the day.


Bright Star

The story of the romantic relationship between Fanny Brawne and the poet John Keats.

Genre: Period Romance

If my friend Sarah and I have one thing in common it would probably be that we're both hopeless romantics (with an emphasis on hopeless). Anyways, she told me I should watch this movie and I DID!

I was expecting some form of the typical period romance story, and I suppose this definitely was, but the manner in which it is executed was leagues beyond my expectations. At its heart it's still your usual story of early 19th century Europe, and fated love, and people saying things like "But he doesn't make enough money to support you!" We've all seem some iteration of that.

Yet, the movie delivers the story at a level I was definitely not expecting. The acting and chemistry between the leads was phenomenal. They would share these little looks that carried so much weight and realness. You're watching it and you can't help but go "Yes! That's what it's like!"

The looks and subtle flirtations between people who fancy one another. The way you'll go out of your way to see them, to try and make them smile, to take an interest in what they like so you can relate to them more. Even the way they showed crying was spot on. The details at work here and the level of execution needed to pull them off in such a way is a bit shocking. There are so many skeleton romances out there wherein the romance is forced and staged, but here it is all so fleshed out that it is just a pleasure to witness.

Also, in a twist on the usual story, Bright Star has a very unusual love triangle element. Because Keat's best friend, Charles Brown, loves him as well (not in a romantic way mind you, but in that Shaun&Gus kind of way). The affection between the two of them and the tension that results when Fanny is thrown into the mix was very interesting. And once again, it just made the romance seem all the more realistic.

On a technical note, I watched this one on my computer, but I wish I had watched it on the TV because it was beautifully shot and there are some scenes I think would be all the prettier on a big screen.

Did I mention the movie also frequently talks about poetry! Because it does!

I don't even know. If you like romantic movies then you should see it. That's what I've got to say about that.


Terry Pratchett: Choosing to Die

Famous author Terry Pratchett investigates assisted suicide and the people who seek it after considering it for himself after being diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease.

Genre: Assisted Suicide Documentary

I didn't plan on watching this at 3am, but that's when I saw a link someone had posted to a youtube video of it and....well one thing led to another and there you go.

Terry Pratchett is my favorite author and so I've heard all about his diagnosis of Alzheimer's Disease and how he'd like to die when he gets too far gone, but damn if it isn't a little bit surreal to watch an hour-long movie about it. It's a really bizarre topic isn't it? It's an important one to be sure, but telling someone in all earnestness, "Hey, I don't want to die a slow agonizing death and I know I'm fine right now, but I need you to kill me so I can avoid that."

Personally I'm too stubborn to ever want to kill myself, because that's like the epitome of admitting defeat and haven forbid I admit defeat. I'm also too selfish to kill someone I love. Or to help them kill themself in anyway. Oh, you don't want to die slowly and scared and in pain? Well suck it the fuck up. I love you more than the goddamn moon and your ass is sticking around until God herself comes down and rips you out of my fucking hands. So deal with it. Now how about we make up and then make out.

Also this movie shows him meeting with people who later go through with assisted suicides at a place that does that in Switzerland or something. It actually shows you some dude going through with it. So it is, in a fucking weird sort of way, a snuff film.

In conclusion: Watching this thing at 3am was a truly bizarre experience to be sure.

1 comment:

  1. You watched a lot of good ones this month! Awesome points.

    Every time I read your review of Bright Star I get terribly smug, aahahaha. One of movie Keats' quotes about poetry struck me as something you would particularly agree with: "If poetry does not come as naturally as leaves to a tree, then it had better not come at all."

    Also, Lestat is one of my most favorite fictional characters ever. Louie may be the protagonist, but Lestat steals the show. Tom Cruise too, who did an amazing job bringing him to life...or undead life, haha.