Archive

Archive for September, 2012

SCARY MOVIE MONTH – Watch “The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari” (1920)

September 30, 2012 1 comment

It’s that time again! Halloween is coming up, and so it’s time for scary movies! Last year, I wound up focusing a great deal on classic slasher films, with a few other sub-genres thrown in for good measure. For your convenience, I’m including a link to all the scary movie reviews I wrote right here, in order:

Saw
The Last House on the Left (1972)
Contagion
The Last House on the Left (2009)
Friday the 13th (1980)
Sleepy Hollow
A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)
Halloween (1978)
A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors

Wes Craven’s New Nightmare
A Nightmare on Elm Street
(2010)
28 Days Later
Shaun of the Dead

I list these because, as you can see, it’s a lot of slashers, sequels, and remakes, with Contagion being arguably the only odd duck, as it is a scary movie, but not necessarily horror. I felt it necessary at the time to explore these slashers, largely because they were films I wasn’t that familiar with. I didn’t particularly enjoy watching all of these grouped together, but I did enjoy the learning experience. This year, however, I’m going to focus more on scary movies that I, personally, enjoy. I intended to review some of these films last year but, for several reasons, did not get around to doing so.

Seeing as how Halloween is also my birthday, I’m feeling a bit selfish this year, I guess. I’m turning 26, and I’m feeling as though my youth has peaked, and I’m now beginning the downward spiral. Call me dramatic, if you must! So, yeah, you’re mostly going to see reviews of films that I actually do enjoy, though I’ll try to sneak in a few that I don’t as well. You’ll also likely see a few reviews of films that are not scary or horror, but those will only be theatrical reviews. One you will most certainly see sometime soon is a review of Looper, for example. (Go see it — It’s fantastic!)

So, yeah, that’s my plans for my second annual Scary Movie Month this year! I hope that the scary movies that I enjoy will lead some of you to new and enjoyable experiences, though I can’t exactly say that I’m all that adventurous when it comes to this genre. Feel free to chastise me if that is the case, though I doubt I’m going to get as sidetracked as I did last year, when I let some Elm Street fans hijack my attention and ended up reviewing a whopping four Freddy Krueger films.

What I am going to do, however, is provide you with a great horror film to kick things off. This year’s public domain YouTube post is The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, a horror film hailing from Germany that had a great deal of influence not only on Tim Burton (an obvious point), but also features Conrad Veidt, an actor who would go on to play another scary character in The Man Who Laughs and would directly influence the creation of Batman’s arch nemesis, The Joker. The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari was one of the first full length silent films that I watched, thanks to my freshman year, second semester film history class in college. The bizarre visuals, freaky makeup, and shadowy, brooding atmosphere is fantastic and still effective at inducing fear and anxiety, even after over 90 years have passed since its creation. I hope that you will enjoy it as well as the rest of Scary Movie Month this year!

 
Advertisements

Review: “The Lake House”

September 27, 2012 1 comment
Directed by: Alejandro Agresti
Produced by: Roy Lee, Doug Davison; Sonny Mallhi (co-producer); Bruce Berman, Erwin Stoff, Dana Goldberg, Mary McLalen (executive producers)
Written by: David Auburn
Cinematography by: Alar Kivilo
Music by: Rachel Portman, Paul McCartney (songs)
Starring: Keanu Reeves, Sandra Bullock, Shohreh Agdashloo, Christopher Plummer, Dylan Walsh, Ebon Moss-Bachrach, Willeke van Ammelroy, Lynn Collins
Based on the South Korean film Il Mare (시월애), directed by Lee Hyun-seung
Year: 2006

 

The concept behind The Lake House is a terribly romantic but completely promising one: there’s this mailbox, you see, and in it, there is apparently a portal that transports mail and presumably other such items between the present and two years in the past (or two years in the future, depending on your perspective). It sounds like something out of The Twilight Zone, but here in The Lake House, this mystical and possibly world-changing item is used to send love notes between two time-crossed lovers who are each desiring something more out of their lives and personal relationships. Read more…

Review: “Battle Royale” (バトル・ロワイアル)

September 18, 2012 1 comment
Directed by: Kinji Fukasaku
Produced by: Masao Sato, Masumi Okada, Teruo Kamaya, Tetsu Kayama
Written by: Kenta Fukasaku (screenplay)
Cinematography by: Katsumi Yanagishima
Music by: Masamichi Amano
Starring: Tatsuya Fujiwara, Aki Maeda, Taro Yamamoto, Masanobu Ando, Kou Shibasaki, Chiaki Kuriyama, Takeshi Kitano
Based on the novel Battle Royale (バトル・ロワイアル) by Koushun Takami
Year: 2000

 

Director Kinji Fukasaku once said that he took on the duties of directing this adaptation of Koushun Takami’s novel thanks in large part to his experiences as a 15-year-old, working in one of Japan’s munitions factories during World War II. When he realized that the government had been lying to them about war, he grew to distrust adults, a resentment that apparently had carried on well into his own adulthood. Though I haven’t read the original novel, it’s easy to see why he was so drawn into the project, given his history. Battle Royale seems to take the stance that teenagers need not necessarily always listen to their elders and should always question their reasons for putting them through the systems that they set in the way as they head into adulthood. In this case, the system is represented through the titular 3-day, all out battle to the death between teenagers selected at random by the government in a post-millennial attempt to curtail the rise in youth crimes and once again regain the respect the younger generation no longer holds toward their elders. Read more…

Review: “Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story”

September 11, 2012 Leave a comment
Directed by: Jake Kasdan
Produced by: Judd Apatow, Jake Kasdan
Written by: Judd Apatow, Jake Kasdan
Cinematography by: Uta Briesewitz
Music by: Michael Andrews
Starring: John C. Reilly, Jenna Fischer (Angela Correa – singing), Raymond J. Barry, Kristen Wiig, Tim Meadows, Chris Parnell, Matt Besser, Margo Martindale, David Krumholtz
Year: 2007

Growing up in a family that was pretty much in agreement that The Beatles were awesome, I heard a lot about all the legends and little factoids behind them. Who was their first drummer? (Pete Best) Who was the “fifth Beatle”? (There are many answers to that, but my dad liked to say Billy Preston, though I’d probably say their producer, George Martin, deserves the credit.) Was Paul dead? (No.) Who was the namesake for the song “Eleanor Rigby”? (Eleanor Bron, who featured in Help! and the fantastic Alfonso Cuarón remake of A Little Princess. I found that one out on my own as a kid and was pretty proud of that one.) A lot of biopics seem to like to play with fact and mix it in with these types of legends so that the image of the subject is maintained, maybe even elevated, in the eyes of the public — making sure to include every little milestone and seemingly significant contribution to the world that a single artist (or group of artists) made and making its significant nature that much more legendary. Back in the mid-2000s, with films like Ray and Walk the Line seemingly starting a trend in biopics for the recently deceased, it was only inevitable that someone would Weird Al the whole thing. Read more…

The Ultimate Evolving Superhero Movie List – Part 3

September 8, 2012 Leave a comment

It can be hard to discern which films are worth your time. Now, I’m no expert on comic books, having primarily grown up getting to know most of these characters from films, TV shows, and video games, but I do have a love for superheroes just the same, and I do consider these mediums to be a part of the ever expanding reach of these characters beyond their comic book origins. As I write this, I also admit I’m running on a superhero high these days, as I just came off a string of reviews for The Dark Knight Trilogy. Also of note is that The Viewer’s Commentary not only reached its 100th post with the first portion of this list, but it is also coming upon its first anniversary, and I figured that I would do something grand to celebrate!

Initially, I was thinking, “Why not do an updated Top 10 Superhero Films list?” but that just came off as being not grand enough, and doubling that number still didn’t feel ambitious enough. So I set myself on a much grander mission: To make an ever-evolving list of not just the best or worst superhero films, but of ALL the superhero films I had ever seen, leading to the creation of this list you see before you.

Currently, I am limiting this list to just theatrically-released films, as that still provides me with a lot of ground to cover, though it will definitely begin to include exceptions for non-theatrical features such as Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker and Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog. Furthermore, I am abstaining from listing films that I have yet to see or have not seen in quite some time and, thus, do not feel comfortable passing judgment on. As such, there will be omissions, some of them obvious, some of them not so much, but that’s the beauty of the idea behind this project: It’s an evolving list.

So, as I see newer movies, re-watch forgotten ones, and also discover the ones that have somehow gone unseen by me, I will continue to add them to this list, which is also being given its own all-encompassing page here on The Viewers Commentary. Films will be neatly separated into the five easy categories – The Awful, The Bad, The Average, The Good, and The Excellent – and each film within each category ranked from least to greatest in quality (all my opinion of course). Do not consider this list or the commentary to be definitive reviews, but if I do have a review for the movie, rest assured that it will be linked to.

In this, the third and final incremental portion of this list before it goes into periodic updates, I present to you the current films in the latter half of “The Good” films section and, finally, “The Excellent” films, as well. Read more…

Review: “Jiro Dreams of Sushi”

September 1, 2012 Leave a comment
Directed by: David Gelb
Produced by: Kevin Iwashina, Tom Pellegrini
Cinematography by: David Gelb
Music by: Jeff Foxworth, The Ontic, Rye Randa
Featuring: Jiro Ono, Yoshikazu Ono, Takashi Ono, Masuhiro Yamamoto, Hachiro Mizutani
Year: 2011

 

It’s not uncommon these days for the only recognition a restaurateur or chef gains is for their notoriety. We get reality shows like Cake Boss and Kitchen Nightmares which, regardless of the actual talents involved in the productions, mostly focus on spectacle and shouting. Ask almost anyone who Gordon Ramsay is, and, if they’re actually able to connect the name to the person, they’re more likely to talk about how much of a foul-mouthed hard ass he is more than they are the actual skills that he possesses — which is a shame because Gordon Ramsay is undoubtedly a very skilled, very talented man who just so happens to have a rather… uptight reputation. That’s why when I came across this instructional video of Ramsay demonstrating his technique for making scrambled eggs, laughing and even showing a sensitive side by talking about serving breakfast in bed to the misses, I was honestly taken aback! How come we, as a society, care more about the screaming and loud personalities than we do about the actual person on screen and the skills they possess? Read more…

%d bloggers like this: