Thursday, February 26, 2009


This movie sucks. No other real way to put it. It has an interesting premise, "Kids take shrooms on a camping trip in Ireland and try to distinguish the weird shit that happens to them from hallucinations or reality".

This film may have been shot in Ireland, i haven't checked. But you really can't tell. It could've been shot in the backwoods of Maryland. If you are choosing Ireland as a setting, use Ireland, I'd like to see something that makes Ireland Ireland other than a red herring to the inbred locals which causes the viewers to start having nightmares of the Wrong Turn series(at least there we felt like we were in Appalachia).

Of course, the main character is a woman, with her own set of problem and likes the token "perfect guy"(no one will match up to Ted in Friday the 13th Part III and his sweaters in this department). The rest of the characters are window dressing, the horny couple, the stoners, the bitch, all there.

The shrooms scenes are lacking, they could've done a lot more and the characters don't act any different once they've taken the shrooms other than "seeing things".

It ends with a lot of running around and screaming, a weak back story and an even weaker surprise ending that stretches continuity ideas to the absolute brink.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The Da Vinci Code

Due to the publicity and the fact that less intelligent people took the Da Vinci Code for fact, I avoided this movie for some time. I also didn't like Tom Hanks with long hair, but thats just aesthetic concerns.
I finally watched the movie and it was a good show. However, when unfurling a mystery, there comes a point when enough is enough. The audience is no longer how asking how deep the rabbit hole goes, instead they are asking when the rabbit hole will end. The plot is interesting and the film is made with that trademark Ron Howard touch; which means its easy to watch.

I did like the fact that the french characters actually spoke french. Ron Howard, one of the ultimate audience pleasing directors, made the audience actually have to read subtitles! You rarely see this for any extended period of time with a big budget film like this. It has always bothered me that the Nazi's would speak English when amongst themselves. It also allowed Jean Reno, a fabulous actor who is hamstrung when forced to speak english, to actually be able to act and speak in his language.

Tom Hanks was servicable, you could tell he didn't have much of a character to work with. He was the buffer between the plot and the audience, there to explain and translate everything that happened. They tried to add character by having him be afraid of enclosed spaces, maybe he had a better character in the actual book, I don't know.

The other actors were fine, no one performance stood out. Ian Mckellan stood out because he had the most colorful character to work with. Everyone else was a one trick pony despite an outstanding cast.

There was simply too much going on in this film, too many layers, ulterior motives and betrayals. The actors knew too much about everything and events had a timing only available in movies. Its worth a watch, but really failed to suck me in.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The Hustler

Before reading this review, please be aware of the fact that for a multitude of reasons I skipped a good twenty minutes of the movie.
This film is widely known as a classic, and with the cast put together, Paul Newman, George C. Scott, Piper Laurie and Jackie Gleason, its not hard to see.
However, aside from the pool scenes, I found it hard to get into this movie. Although it ran over two hours, I wondered about the depth. At certain times the movie screamed its points at you, at other times it tried to be too subtle. I found it hard to root for Paul Newman's character, the only admirable character in this movie was Minnesota Fats. I know it was a heroes fall type of movie going in as well as a brooding portrayal of hustling, and we are supposed to be rooting for Paul Newman at the end, but the brashness, the boldness and arrogance of his character didn't lead to me rooting for him. I liked the stoicness of Minnesota Fats and the brutal honesty of George C. Scott's character.
This is one of those movies, like a classic book, that is best read or viewed once, and let that be it. I don't feel it renders multiple viewings. The performances were all outstanding and Newman did far more with the character than the script gave him. Good movie, but not the spellbinding classic I was anticipating.

Friday the 13th

You will soon notice that I have a thing for horror movies, specifically the slasher genre. So naturally I took to the cinema last Friday to view the latest in my favorite slasher series. Jason Voorhees, with the ominous hockey mask and aversion to any means of death, has long been a favorite of mine. Michael Myers was a silent, gentle killer, Freddy Krueger was loud and obnoxious, Jason is vicious, positively vicious.

To prep myself for the new Friday the 13th I Netflixed part IV and part VII, two of my favorites from the series(with part III close behind). These movies, although deeply flawed with terrible dialog and wooden acting, had a special charm, and Kane Hodder was especially good behind the mask in Part VII.
But, I digress, the first thing I noticed about this new movie was the dialog. The college kids talked like college kids, when they drank, they actually acted drunk, when they got high, they actually acted as if they were high. So many movies have their actors overact everything while drunk and underact everything while high.
Another positive was that these were actually actors and actresses I recognized, very few in the previous movies (Corey Feldman, Crispin Glover and Kevin Bacon) actually had a career. Friday the 13th movies used to be for terrible actors looking for work. Now, with horror movies booming, people are actually choosing to take on these roles.
This isn't to say there is deep character development, in a 90 minute movie centered around killing, you don't have a lot of time for that. But the stoner was a good stoner, the jerk was a good jerk, the hero was a good hero and the rest were believable until they got wacked.
It was funny. Legitimately funny, with lines that you actually remember. Some movies you can tell the cast enjoyed themselves, and this was one of them, nothing was awkward, it was natural.
Now, my gripes...

I didn't like Jason's complicated tunnel system, where did this come from? This was supposed to be a vacation spot with cabins, not an underground mine shaft.
And you are telling me nobody boarded up Jason's old house after his mother died? Nobody got rid of his bed? Auctioned off the belongings of the home?
Jason doesn't keep prisoners, I don't care how much they remind him of his mother. How does keeping captain someone who looked like a younger version of his mother satisfy him? The mother he knew was far older than that and psychologically doesn't fill that "I miss mommy" void.
The last line "Jason, its time to meet Mommy! In hell!" was cringe worthy, and a big cringe at that.
The opening scene, while entertaining, lasted too long and the rest of the movie felt rushed. We meet all these characters and all but one are brutally murdered.
Yeah, the old sleeping bag murder, you know they have zippers on the inside of sleeping bags as well, was she so paralyzed with fear she couldn't move?
The early Friday the 13th movies used to excell at something utterly lost in film today: single extended shots. In an era of quick cuts and tight shots, its nice to watch those old scenes where the director let the camera roll and left the actors with the responsibility to put the scene together. Although this version used the "Camera comes up from behind the unsuspecting character" that was a staple of all the movies, the only action was the movement of the camera as the character sat blindly awaiting their death. I would've liked the filmmakers to harken back to the old days for just one extended shot.

Overall, it was highly enjoyable, I would've liked more creative deaths rather than the machete, I thought the arrow through the boat drivers head was a nice touch. But it was too much machete work from a guy who made his name shooting harpoon guns and popping eyeballs out. Maybe after seeing My Bloody Valentine 3-D my expectations for creative deaths are just way too high. This is a good popcorn flick, good to see in a theater with the right audience, or good to put on at a party.