REVIEW: Batman: The Movie

July 30, 2015 Leave a comment
Batman The MovieDirected by: Leslie H. Martinson
Produced by: William Dozier
Written by: Lorenzo Semple, Jr.
Edited by: Harry Gerstad
Cinematography by: Howard Schwarts
Music by: Nelson Riddle, Neal Hefti (theme)
Starring: Adam West, Burt Ward, Lee Meriwether, Cesar Romero, Burgess Meredith, Frank Gorshin, Alan Napier, Neil Hamilton, Stafford Repp, Madge Blake, Reginald Denny, Milton Frome, Gil Perkins, Dick Crockett, George Sawaya, Van Williams
Based on the DC Comics character created by Bob Kane and Bill Finger and the TV series created by William Dozier
Year: 1966

 

 

Confession time: Though it is one of my earliest memories of being at a theatrical showing, Batman Returns was not my first exposure to Batman. There was already a lot of love for Batman instilled in me by that point. Part of that was likely due to Tim Burton’s first film, but, honestly, it was far more likely that I was introduced to the Dark Knight in the form of the campy Caped Crusader portrayed in in the 1960s TV series starring Adam West. As a little kid, I didn’t quite understand that the series was essentially a satire of the comics and serials rather than a serious attempt to adapt the character to television. When I was finally exposed to the darker, grittier stuff, I pretty much thought it was silly because it was old, and older stuff was always sillier! Why else would they release all those ridiculous musicals back then that my mom enjoyed so much, right? With age, of course, I did catch on, and after getting over an initial feeling of betrayal that came with the understanding that the show was poking fun at my favorite superhero (and, by association, me), I also came to embrace the series for what it was. Read more…

SPECIAL REVIEW: Wristcutters: A Love Story

July 16, 2015 Leave a comment
Wristcutters - A Love StoryDirected by: Goran Dukić
Produced by: Chris Coen, Tatiana Kelly, Mikal P. Lazarev, Adam Sherman
Screenplay by: Goran Dukić
Story by: Etgar Keret
Edited by: Jonathan Alberts
Cinematography by: Vanja Cernjul
Music by: Bobby Johnston, Gogol Bordello
Starring: Patrick Fugit, Shannyn Sossamon, Shea Whigham, Leslie Bibb, Mikal P. Lazarev, Mark Boone, Jr., Abraham Benrubi, Mary Pat Gleason, Anthony Azizi, Azura Skye, Nick Offerman, Sarah Roemer, John Hawkes, Tom Waits, Anatol Rezmeritza, Cameron Bowen, Jake Busey
Based on the short story Kneller’s Happy Campers by Etgar Keret
Year: 2006

 

This review contains some mild spoilers.

 

Lying in bed, placing a needle on a record, and then, to the tune of Tom Waits’ “Dead and Lovely,” we watch Zia, the lead character, at various stages of tidying up his mess of an apartment. Zia picks up every bit of trash and misplaced piece of dirty clothing, then wipes down every surface and piece of furniture from the dust and filth that has built up. He waters his plants, as well, then looks around to ensure he’s finished. He then looks at himself directly into the camera, fixes his hair, takes a peak outside his window mindlessly, and then around his room again to ensure he’s done everything possible. He then walks into the bathroom, but this time camera doesn’t show him until several moments later, when it begins to peek in on Zia, looking into a mirror as he works at something just off screen. His expression barely changes as he collapses to the tile floor. He leaves behind a pool of bloody water in the sink and a razor beside it. In his last few moments, he notices a single, large dust bunny in the corner of the room, barely moved by his last few breaths… Read more…

GRUDGE MATCH REVIEW: Fifty Shades of Grey vs. Old Fashioned

Fifty Shades of Grey vs. Old FashionedFIFTY SHADES OF GREY (Unrated)
Directed by: Sam Taylor-Johnson
Produced by: Michael De Luca, Dana Brunetti, E.L. James
Screenplay by: Kelly Marcel
Edited by: Anne V. Coates, Lisa Gunning, Debra Neil-Fisher
Cinematography by: Seamus McGarvey
Music by: Danny Elfman
Starring: Dakota Johnson, Jamie Dornan, Eloise Mumford, Jennifer Ehle, Marcia Gay Harden, Victor Rasuk, Luke Grimes, Rita Ora, Max Martini, Callum Keith Rennie, Andrew Airlie, Dylan Neal, Anthony Konechny, Emily Fonda, Rachel Skarsten
Based on the book Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James
Year: 2015

 

OLD FASHIONED
Directed by: Rik Swartzwelder
Produced by: Nathan Nazario, Dave DeBorde, Nini Hadjis, Rik Swartzwelder
Written by: Rik Swartzwelder
Edited by: Jonathan Olive, Phillips Sherwood, Robin Katz
Cinematography by: David George
Music by: Kazimir Boyle
Starring: Elizabeth Ann Roberts, Rik Swartzwelder, LeJon Woods, Tyler Hollinger, Nini Hadjis, Maryann Nagel, Lindsay Heath, Joseph Bonamico, Dorothy Silver, Ange’le Perez, Anne Marie Nestor
Year: 2015

 

This review contains spoilers, including the movies’ endings.

 

Alright, everyone, listen up! Things are about to get ugly in here! I’m going to be fanning the flames of a culture war, and it’s bound to make some people kind of angry!

In one corner, we have the inexplicably popular, smutty to a fault movie adaptation of a book that was itself originally an online Twilight fan fiction, written by someone who didn’t seem to catch on to that franchise’s coded abstinence message: Fifty Shades of Grey! In the other corner, we have that film’s chaste, Christian-targeting, message-laden morality tale counterpart, meant to provide a more wholesome alternative for anyone who proudly proclaims that they’ve kissed dating goodbye: Old Fashioned!

… Okay, I can’t keep up that boxing announcer façade. …

Anyway, I’m reviving a very old (and once-used) feature on this blog that I really didn’t enjoy doing the first time around but recently figured would be kind of interesting to try again. (It’s something I’d been meaning to try for a while, anyway, back when I thought about doing it for the original King Kong and its remakes.) The concept behind this grudge match review works pretty much like you’d expect. There will be a series of rounds in which I compare the two movies to one another, and there will be a winner for each round based on which movie succeeds more in that area. What will make this a bit more interesting, however, is the fact these two films aren’t remakes or adaptations of the same source material, but rather polar opposites! The marketing for Old Fashioned proclaimed “Chivalry makes a comeback,” while the BDSM-themed, sex-and-nudity laden Fifty Shades demanded audiences “Lose Control.” As if its obvious opposition weren’t enough, the films were only released one week apart, with Old Fashioned beating Fifty Shades to the punch in an effort to overtake it and likely to encourage people to not give in to the smut.

I’m of the opinion, however, that too often Christian films try to take on too much of a counterculture stance, to the point where they’re not even willing to study the very thing they’re opposed to or portray it in a fair light. As I’ve pointed out countless times before, I am a Christian, and yet I am more often than not finding myself at odds with the image the Christian pop culture industry and the people who consume it propagate for themselves, and flaunting it in non-Christians’ faces (and even the faces of Christians they disagree with), prideful in their willful ignorance. So, I am trying to do something different and see it from all sides in comparing the two movies. It’s actually kind of funny how they actually have some things in common! To be quite honest, though, I’m also trying to have a bit of fun at their expense, too. I mean… neither one of these movies is really any good, so I’m really not going to take this too seriously. I’m also just here to let you know which one is better than the other, too – or, in this case, which one is the least bad.

Read more…

THEATRICAL REVIEW: Jurassic World

June 19, 2015 Leave a comment
Jurassic WorldDirected by: Colin Trevorrow
Produced by: Frank Marshall, Patrick Crowley; Steven Spielberg, Thomas Tull (executive producers)
Screenplay by: Rick Jaffa, Amanda Silver, Derek Connolly, Colin Trevorrow
Story by: Rick Jaffa, Amanda Silver
Edited by: Kevin Stitt
Cinematography by: John Schwartzman
Music by: Michael Giacchino, John Williams (themes)
Starring: Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Vincent D’Onofrio, Ty Simpkins, Nick Robinson, Omar Sy, B.D. Wong, Irrfan Khan, Katie McGrath, Jake Johnson, Lauren Lapkus, Judy Greer, Andy Buckley
Year: 2015

 

By now, you probably don’t need for me to review this film, as it seems like the whole world has thrown their money at it. However, I went bonkers a couple years ago when the original film was re-released in theatres in 3D, prompting me to do a complete run through of the entire then-trilogy. As a result, I kind of feel obligated to review the latest one. Besides, some of you might be insane or too “hip” to buy into this dinosaur spectacle “nonsense” but might be thinking of giving it a go on DVD or something in what is, for me, the future, so, yeah, I’m here to help. Read more…

The Empathy Machine

June 11, 2015 Leave a comment

There was another version of this article that actually went on quite a bit of a rant, but I had to scrap it. I scrapped it not just for you, my reader, but also for myself, as I was writing more out of impassioned irritation than I was to make a coherent article about my relationship with film, as I had originally set out to do. I think this is a bit more focused, and a bit more biographical than that lecture, which I am honestly glad I had second thoughts about – and I do mean lecture as in “scold,” not “educational speech.” Part of what I almost lost sight of was an expression of my love for the medium of film, which, let’s face it, is the main topic of this blog is, after all!

Wall-E - Watching Hello Dolly

Wall-E

I do love film, though. I even admittedly sometimes love watching bad films, when the mood strikes, despite the fact that I usually end up griping about how awful they are by the time the credits begin – oftentimes earlier. I guess I’m a part time hate-watcher. That being said, however, I am admittedly an amateur when it comes to film appreciation. I’m rarely driven by more than gut instinct when it comes to analyzing the individual parts of a film, so I’m often left feeling quite inadequate to judge things like the composition of shots, the quality of the score, and the inventiveness of certain other techniques unless they really stand out to me. And, honestly, so long as those elements are either so well done that they either don’t call attention to themselves or are so transcendently novel that I can’t help but notice, I’m largely okay with that. For me, film has always been more than just the sum of its parts and more about what it’s actually saying on behalf of the artists involved and the subject it’s covering. (And, sometimes, films are mostly just entertaining, and that’s honestly okay, too!) Read more…

UPDATE: To Boldly Go…

Star Trek - warp

Just a small update for now. I’m not certain how many of you out there reading read regularly, but I’m still doing this just ’cause, for myself.

I’m currently working on something a bit more challenging than just a mere review, as I’ve been wanting to do that for a while, but for some reason have been held back by a number of things, most of them personal. I really want to write this, however, and it’s somewhat of a personal writing that will shed some light on why I love the film medium so much. Basically, it’s going to be sort of a mission statement, but in the form of a personal, semi-biographical perspective.

I am also planning on tackling more diverse films, not just to grow myself, but hopefully to help anyone out there who is reading to grow, as well, which was my original intention with this blog, beyond just keeping up a writing hobby. I’ll have more details of what kind of idea I have in that article, but, for now, I just wanted to get this little teaser out of the way, as well as just motivate myself to get it done by making this announcement. I’m excited to share it, and I’m excited for some changes I’m going to hopefully have the willpower to enact on this blog — even if only for myself.

Categories: Update Tags: ,

REVIEW: Stormy Weather

Stormy WeatherDirected by: Andrew L. Stone
Produced by: William LeBaron
Screenplay by: H.S. Kraft
Story by: Jerry Horwin, Seymore B. Robinson
Edited by: James B. Clark
Cinematography by: Leon Shamroy
Music by: Harold Arlen
Starring: Lena Horne, Bill Robinson, Cab Calloway, Katherine Dunham, Fats Waller, Fayard Nicholas, Harold Nicholas, Ada Brown, Dooley Wilson
Year: 1943

 

I’d largely forgotten this film’s existence until I saw that Screen Archives had done a limited release of the film on Blu-Ray (Thanks, Blu-Ray.com!). The name immediately stuck out, and so I alerted my mom, an avid fan of old musicals, to the film, knowing about its historical significance as one of the earliest major studio films to feature an all-black cast, but having admittedly very little knowledge of what it was actually about – apart from the fact that it was a musical, and I had seen Lena Horne’s performance of the title song somewhere, probably in one of those musical documentaries that always aired on TCM or AMC. After purchasing it (and accidentally shipping it to myself instead of my mom), I did watch it, though, and realized something fairly interesting about the film, divorced from the racial significance: It’s actually kind of boring if you’re not that invested in the characters or their story, and I wasn’t. Read more…

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