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REVIEW – A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night

October 31, 2017 Leave a comment
Directed by: Ana Lily Amirpour
Produced by: Justin Begnaud, Sina Sayyah, Elijah Wood
Written by: Ana Lily Amirpour
Edited by: Alex O’Flinn
Cinematography by: Lyle Vincent
Music by: Johnny Jewel
Starring: Sheila Vand, Arash Marandi, Marshall Manesh, Mozhan Marnò, Dominic Rains, Rome Shadanloo, Milad Eghbali
Based on the short film by Ana Lily Amirpour
Year: 2014

 

A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night, as a film, is as vague and provocative as its title suggests. Its hero, the titular Girl, is herself a mystery, spending her nights walking down the streets of the ravaged Bad City, Iran, cloaked in the darkness with the help of her pitch black chador. The conservative covering suggests a subservient nature to everyone who encounters her, but it’s more than that – it’s a disguise this unassuming and lonely Girl puts on to conceal her true identity. She’s an empowered, strong woman who will not be taken advantage of, least of all by men who see her and other women as objects to own and use. She is no object. In fact, she isn’t even really human… Read more…

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REVIEW – Happy Death Day

October 28, 2017 Leave a comment
Directed by: Christopher B. Landon
Produced by: Jason Blum
Written by: Scott Lobdell
Edited by: Gregory Plotkin
Cinematography by: Toby Oliver
Music by: Bear McCreary
Starring: Jessica Rothe, Israel Broussard, Ruby Modine, Rachel Matthews, Charles Aitken, Rob Mello, Phi Vu
Year: 2017

 

I originally planned on reviewing far headier stuff this year for Halloween Movie Month, but due to some personal/family circumstances and a general lack of motivation that’s partly resulted from that, I’m choosing instead to focus what little time I have left before the actual day of Halloween with movies that are a bit more lighthearted and easy to digest. At least for now. Considering the fact that the holiday also happens to be my birthday, however, I figured what better time than now to review the recently released and appropriately titled Happy Death Day?

 


 

Is the concept of repeating a certain day over and over, Groundhog Day-style, an overused plot contrivance already? I’m sure there are plenty of examples of TV episodes doing it, or at least doing something similar to it, but I’d be hard pressed to find more than a handful of movies that used the time loop device as their primary driving force. There’s Edge of Tomorrow, of course, and then there’s Run Lola Run, Source Code (sorta…), ARQ, and earlier this year we received 2017’s first film about a young woman repeating a traumatic day in her life with the decidedly more serious Before I Fall. While Wikipedia points me towards a few examples of the time loop being used in a few other films, however, I’m pretty certain that this concept being used in such a particular way, complete with characters fixing mistakes and wrongs, is still mostly known from Groundhog Day, a fact that horror comedy offspring Happy Death Day openly acknowledges, thanks largely to the obligatory meta-commentary all horror comedies are apparently required to integrate into their structure these days. Read more…

REVIEW – Eraserhead

October 11, 2017 Leave a comment
Directed by: David Lynch
Produced by: David Lynch
Written by: David Lynch
Edited by: David Lynch
Cinematography by: Frederick Elmes, Herbert Cardwell
Music by: David Lynch, Fats Waller, Peter Ivers
Starring: Jack Nance, Charlotte Stewart, Judith Anna Roberts, Laurel Near, Jeanne Bates, Allen Joseph, Jack Fisk
Year: 1977

 

Neither having seen The Elephant Man and Dune years prior nor having mere knowledge of just how bizarre David Lynch could get with his body of work could not have prepared me for my first time, firsthand viewing of his debut film Eraserhead this past week. Growing up a budding film fan, this cult classic was always on my radar in some form, whether due to its intriguing title that suggested to my younger self that the film was a dark, artsy slasher film in the tradition of Friday the 13th (I was not aware of the release timeline then) or because of my frequent encounter with that instantly recognizable shot of star Jack Nance staring back at me within a cloud of illuminated dust as I scavenged through movie posters I knew I would never actually end up buying. The movie’s reputation also preceded itself in discussions of film, primarily online, and yet, somehow, I still managed to avoid any spoilers and even major plot details of the film until actually seeing it myself. And, somehow, even afterward, while I know that what I saw was called Eraserhead, I’m still not entirely certain what the hell I saw. Read more…

REVIEW – The Addams Family

October 3, 2017 Leave a comment
Directed by: Barry Sonnenfeld
Produced by: Scott Rudin
Written by: Caroline Thompson, Larry Wilson
Edited by: Dede Allen
Cinematography by: Owen Roizman
Music by: Marc Shaiman
Starring: Anjelica Huston, Raúl Juliá, Christopher Lloyd, Christina Ricci, Jimmy Workman, Judith Malina, Carel Struycken, Elizabeth Wilson, Dan Hedaya, Dana Ivey, Paul Benedict, John Franklin, Christopher Hart(’s hand)
Based on The Addams Family comics by Charles Addams
Year: 1991

 

“And you thought your family was weird! Meet… the Addams Family!”

… You can practically imagine what kind of crappy trailer and taglines could be written for this film adaptation of Charles Addams’ comic strip. Released on the same day as Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, though the film is undoubtedly going for a different audience, it’s still impressive that the film was as successful as it was, given that fact. Critics generally enjoyed it, audiences loved it (forking over $191.5 million worldwide against a $30 million budget), and the film led to a resurgence in the brand, spawning an acclaimed sequel, an animated series, and – heck – even one of the most successful pinball machines ever made. Heck, it was even Barry Sonnenfeld’s first film as director, leading to such acclaimed hits as Men in Black, Get Shorty, and… Wild Wild WestNine Lives… Well, you can’t win ‘em all, but still. Read more…

REVIEW – It (2017)

September 16, 2017 Leave a comment
Directed by: Andy Muschietti
Produced by: Roy Lee, Dan Lin, Seth Grahame-Smith, David Katzenberg, Barbara Muschietti
Screenplay by: Chase Palmer, Cary Fukunaga, Gary Dauberman
Edited by: Jason Ballantine
Cinematography by: Chung-hoon Chung
Music by: Benjamin Wallfisch
Starring: Jaeden Lieberher, Bill Skarsgård, Sophia Lillis, Jeremy Ray Taylor, Finn Wolfhard, Wyatt Oleff, Chosen Jacobs, Jack Dylan Grazer, Nicholas Hamilton, Owen Teague, Stephen Bogaert, Jackson Robert Scott
Based on the novel It by Stephen King
Year: 2017

 

I always seem to preface these types of reviews with this, but it bears remarking again: Horror remakes are rarely successful and rarely a good idea, and the trailers for this 2017 adaptation of Stephen King’s novel about a transdimensional being taking on the form of a malevolent clown who terrorizes children was looking to be just one more film on the pile of crappy remakes, reboots, and reimaginings we’ve been getting since the turn of the century. The emphasis on jump scares, the hammered-into-your-brain catchphrases, creepy horror children, and the audacity to challenge the immortal Tim Curry’s portrayal from the miniseries with a gritty new take on the clown really didn’t work in the film’s favor. This was particularly worrisome, as the film with the film had been in development hell for approximately six years due to creative conflicts before finally moving forward in production in its final form, releasing two years after that. As someone who had never seen the cheesy 3-hour-long miniseries, let alone read the 1000+ page novel, however, I was at least open to the idea that this could at least provide an easy gateway into a cultural touchstone I really had little prior interest in touching myself. Turns out…I was totally right, but not in the way I thought. Read more…

REVIEW – Good Time

September 2, 2017 Leave a comment
Directed by: Ben Safdie, Josh Safdie
Produced by: Sebastian Bear-McClard, Oscar Boyson, Terry Dougas, Paris Kasidokostas Latsis
Written by: Josh Safdie, Ronald Bronstein
Edited by: Ben Safdie, Ronald Bronstein
Cinematography by: Sean Price Williams
Music by: Oneohtrix Point Never
Starring: Robert Pattinson, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Ben Safdie, Barkhad Abdi, Buddy Duress, Taliah Webster
Year: 2017

 

From the ominous ‘80s-style synth score, the splashes of neon-drenched cinematography, to the exclamations of praise for star Robert Pattinson, I knew from the trailers that Good Time was a film I wanted to experience in the theatre but which I was certain would open locally exclusively in the more expensive theatre that charged double for luxury seating and the privilege of seeing something non-mainstream. Imagine my surprise when this indie thriller instead opened in the mainstream theatres, making the experience so much more affordable. Now imagine my lack of surprise when I ended up being the only one at that screening. (I mean, sure, it was a Monday night, but still….) Even with the rave reviews and a Twilight star in the lead role, Good Time was always going to be a hard sell to mainstream audiences, but that doesn’t mean you, discerning and intelligent reader, should ignore what I think is probably one of the more compelling films I’ve seen so far in 2017. Read more…

REVIEW – Brokeback Mountain

July 29, 2017 Leave a comment
Directed by: Ang Lee
Produced by: Diana Ossana, James Schamus
Screenplay by: Larry McMurtry, Diana Ossana
Edited by: Geraldine Peroni, Dylan Tichenor
Cinematography by: Rodrigo Prieto
Music by: Gustavo Santaolalla
Starring: Heath Ledger, Jake Gyllenaal, Michelle Williams, Anne Hathaway, Linda Cardellini, Randy Quaid, Kate Mara
Based on the 1997 short story by Annie Proulx
Year: 2005

 

It’s been 12 years since the release of the film dubbed “The Gay Cowboy Movie” was released, and yet Brokeback Mountain still arguably remains the most recognized film about a same-sex romance in the public mind. Though several films have come out since representing LGBTQ people (the incredible Moonlight is probably the most recent to gain the national spotlight, even though it was largely thanks to its near exclusion from said spotlight at the Oscars), but none have yet to have the same kind of cultural impact as this 2005 release. I think it’s safe to say that the film was a milestone, regardless of whether you actually saw it or not. The film’s release created a minefield of various controversies on all sides of “the gay issue,” and the concept alone of usually rugged character types falling in love with one another led to the film becoming a cultural phenomenon. Predictably, detractors accused the film of “pushing the gay agenda down our throats,” and it was also outright banned from showing in certain countries. The term “brokeback” entered the public lexicon as a word synonymous with “on the down-low,” usually used humorously in moments of gay panic. Supporters of the film couldn’t escape the outrage machine, either, accusing the Academy Awards of homophobia when the film famously lost its Best Picture nomination to the allegedly inferior and heavy-handed morality play Crash. They even accused the marketing of similar shenanigans when any scenes of romance between the two cowboys was deemphasized or just outright excluded from ads – again, despite it widely being known as “The Gay Cowboy Movie.” The cultural impact of the film cannot be denied, but I think even supporters lose sight of what is arguably more important: that Brokeback Mountain is arguably one the best romantic films ever made. Read more…

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