September 2012

Review: Slumdog Millionaire (2008)

A truly remarkable film that takes its audience on a journey through life.

This is yet another film that I incidentally caught while waiting in the doctor’s office and after seeing it I have to give my doctor praise for his (sometimes) great taste in film.  I had been meaning to watch Slumdog Millionaire for a long time, but never got around to it despite the fact that so many people had recommended it to me.  Now that I have seen it, I would recommend it to pretty much anyone.  This movie has so many great elements in it that few will consider it anything less than brilliant.

Zombies movies should always be R-rated

Don't shamble into PG

I've talked before about the dumbing down of movies so they can get that coveted PG-13 and not be stuck in the limbo of rated R. Studios know that the bulk of the people going to movies are teens because let's face it, they don't have much else to do.

I have seen franchise after franchise choose this route rather than risk the lower profits of a R-movie. The one genre that this hasn't seemed to touch is zombie film. Sure, you could argue that the original Night of the Living Dead was pretty tame by today's standards, but the truth is the very nature of the creatures almost demand R-ratings.

Are you ready for 'Paranormal Activity 4?'

New trailer is super creepy.

Here's the thing about the Paranormal Activity movie franchise: Either the films scare you to death, or they don't scare you at all. Am I right? Everyone I know who's seen one (or more) of the movies either says "Meh, not too scary" or "No way I'll ever go again it scared me to death!" I'm in the latter group, yet somehow, I just keep going.

Now, I'm filled with fear because it's almost October, and that means Paranormal Activity 4 is coming. I still haven't shaken off the creeps from last year's installation. I spent all summer spooked by my neighbor's automatic pool cleaner!

Cop drama 'End of Watch' wins the box office weekend

'House at the End of the Street' debuts well.

Here's a question for you: Did you go to the movie theater over the weekend? No? Same here, and we're not alone. Apparently, movie goers are staying away at the moment, leading to some pretty dismal weekend box office numbers.

Unfortunately, that means we missed seeing what some critics believe is one of the best cop action-dramas in quite a while: End of Watch. The film squeaked out a win in its debut weekend, edging out the Jennifer Lawrence horror-thriller House at the End of the Street, but just barely.

Cabin in the Woods

Whedon's finest work

Joss Whedon has done it again with perhaps one of the best movies I have ever seen in my life. Cabin in the Woods takes the standard horror movie and turns it on its ear. I've always been a big fan of Whedon since the Buffy days, but been a little disappointed in his work of late. With this movie, he has more than redeemed himself.

Cabin in the Woods is about a group of college kids who visit a cabin in the woods and are terrorized my religious redneck zombies. It sounds pretty standard, but believe me, it's not. From the very beginning, you know that everything is being orchestrated from a control room underground, but you don't know why until the end.

Review: Network (1976)

A great and academy award-winning look at corruption and motivation in the media industry

Network is a classic, Academy Award-winning film that came out of the 70s.  I’m a bit too young to recognize many of the names in the movie, but three stood out before I had turned it on: Robert Duvall, Faye Dunaway and William Holden.  This film has quite the pedigree, racking up awards for Best Actress (Dunaway), Best Supporting Actress (Beatrice Straight), Best Actor (Peter Finch) and Best Screenplay.  It also gained several nominations, including Best Director and Best Picture.  With credentials like that, you really can’t go wrong.  And I have to say right off the bat, each and every person involved in this deserves the awards they received. 

Pirates! Band of Misfits!

Prepare to be…sleepy.

Yesterday my family and I went to Pirate Day at the library, where we made a fun pirate hat and belt. Afterward, we got cozy and ready to watch Pirates! Band of Misfits! We had all three been excited about this day for weeks, especially since we had not yet seen the film and we are all three big Wallace and Gromit fans. I am sad to report, however, that I didn’t laugh once—and I had to stubbornly fight sleep the whole time.

To be fair, I had not slept the night before; my husband was in pain from a kidney stone and I was up with him. But if it had been a diverting movie, I am sure I would have been at the very least moved to remain awake. Instead, I fluctuated between irritation and boredom.

'Resident Evil: Retribution' wins the weekend, but 'The Master' breaks records

Weekend box office take was decent, but not stellar.

Is it any surprise that the latest installment in the Resident Evil franchise, Resident Evil: Retribution, was the number one movie at the weekend box office? I didn't think so. It was almost a given that the Milla Jovovich action thriller would take the top spot, unless Pixar's Finding Nemo 3-D got a huge boost.

What was a shocker, at least for many industry types, was how well Paul Thomas Anderson's highly-anticipated drama The Master did, in only a handful of theaters. I'll be honest, I'm not at all surprised: I've been going nuts waiting to see this film for months now. My hope now, is that because audience demand is obviously so high, I'll get this movie in my local theater sooner rather than later.

R-Rated B Movies

Low budget, cheap thrills

You're not going to find Sorority Girls in the Slimeball Bowl-A-Rama in a theater or Castle Freak for that matter. These are horror movies with a ton of blood, gore and boobs and will never see the light of day in the theater. B-Movies have been around since movies first debuted. They're all about the thrill and the skin and not so much about the plot. These movies are the dirty little secrets that you watch at 2 a.m. when everyone else has gone to bed.

Review: High Anxiety (1977)

It could be awesome if you’re a Hitchcock fan.

I’m a huge Mel Brooks fan, but this is one that has slipped through the cracks of my viewing list for some time now.  Finally, I decided it was time to watch it (mostly cause it happened to be up on Netflix).  And while I feel that this should have been a great and funny film, like all of Brooks’s other stuff, I just didn’t have the Hitchcock background to appreciate it.  In case you haven’t guessed, High Anxiety is a satirical take on Hitchcock’s films. 

Opening this weekend: Paul Thomas Anderson's 'The Master'

Highly anticipated film is getting rave reviews.

Let's face it: We've been in a bit of a box office slump in recent weeks. The movies currently playing at my local theater are just not enticing me to hit the theater. That's all about to change: Paul Thomas Anderson's The Master premieres tonight in New York City, and gets a limited release beginning this Friday. Hopefully they'll roll this movie out to other, smaller markets quickly. I can't wait to see it!

I'm a huge PTA fan from his early days (Boogie Nights blew my mind), and if reviews I'm reading are to be believed, Anderson's The Master might just be his masterpiece.

Review: Les Miserables (2000)

The presence of Gerard Depardieu and John Malkovich can make anything 10 times better

The Les Miserables version I am choosing to talk about here is actually a made-for-TV project, but I felt it was solid enough that it might as well have been a 3-hour film.  It stars Gerard Depardieu as the main protagonist Jean Valjean and John Malkovich as his nemesis, Inspector Javert.  Ever since seeing Depardieu in the version of The Count of Monte Cristo he did, I’ve been sold on his superior talent to portray literary characters and, more importantly, to choose projects that aren’t going to be complete crap.

Found footage films

Genre once again becoming saturated

In 1999, The Blair Witch Project created an entirely new genre of movie that melded a documentary with fictional story telling. The premise was that some indeterminate time after a horrific event or disappearance authorities found video footage of the event and pieced together the documentary from it.

When Blair Witch came out, there was quite a bit of drama about whether it was real or if the Blair Witch was actually a phenomenon. They did an amazing job of milking this new public naivety to the hilt and made millions from what was a small independent project. Like all good things, Hollywood abused it and soon there were countless found footage films coming out of the woodwork.

Horror fans flock to the box office for 'The Possession'

And what the heck is an 'Oogielove'?

It was a decent Labor Day weekend at the box office, as movie goers decided they wanted to be scared out of their wits. The horror movie The Possession ruled supreme, taking the number one spot in it's debut weekend.

Another new film, the drama Lawless, did well too. But I'll tell you what got my attention: The fact that a movie called The Oogieloves in the Big Balloon Adventure officially had the worst opening weekend ever. As in, ever, for any movie. That's amazingly bad, and I'm now officially intrigued.

Knocked Up

Pregnancy has never been so funny.

Seth Rogen and Katherine Heigl starred in the 2007 Judd Apatow comedy about a high strung entertainment reporter and a low ambition web designer who hook up one night and end up getting pregnant.

The movie examines the ups and downs of pregnancy, relationships and growing up through the eyes of Heigl and Rogen as well as an amazing Apatow ensemble cast including Jonah Hill, Paul Rudd, Lelsie Mann, Jay Baruchel and Jason Segel. While most of the people in this film have grown into major stars in their own right, this movie helped launch their careers and get them on the map.

Hunger Games vs. Battle Royale

Two sides of a very similar coin.

I know I’m a little bit behind the times in this, but I finally got the chance to sit down and watch The Hunger Games.  And in doing so came the inevitable comparisons to one of my favorite movies and (arguably) the precursor to Hunger Games, a movie called Battle Royale.  It has been said that Suzanne Collins did not know that Battle Royale existed before she wrote her series of novels, and after seeing both of them within a few days of each other, I would tend to believe her.