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REVIEW: Music of the Heart – In memory of Wes Craven

September 5, 2015 1 comment
Music of the HeartDirected by: Wes Craven
Produced by: Susan Kaplan, Marianne Maddalena, Allan Miller, Walter Scheuer
Written by: Pamela Gray
Edited by: Gregg Featherman, Patrick Lussier
Cinematography by: Peter Deming
Music by: Mason Daring (score), Diane Warren (theme)
Starring: Meryl Streep, Angela Bassett, Gloria Estefan, Aidan Quinn, Cloris Leachman, Jane Leeves, Jean-Luke Figueroa, Olga Merediz, Kieran Culkin, Charlie Hofheimer, Rosalyn Coleman, Michael Angarano, Josh Pais, Henry Dinhofer, Justin “DJ” Spaulding
Based on a true story and inspired by the 1995 documentary Small Wonders by Allan Miller
Year: 1999

 

Wes Craven was in many ways my gateway to appreciating horror. Though I had seen and enjoyed horror films prior to anything he had made, Craven was the one who enabled me to dig further into the classic slasher movies that most people think of when they discuss the genre. When I first decided to dedicate the month of October to horror films, three of the first movies I reviewed were Wes Craven-directed: The Last House on the Left, A Nightmare on Elm Street, and Wes Craven’s New Nightmare. During that time, my unfavorable review of the first Elm Street film actually caught the attention of a group from pretty much the fan site for the series, and this encouraged me to review a few more of the films, including the Craven-produced Dream Warriors and the aforementioned New Nightmare, both of which I actually enjoyed more than the first.

Before even this, however, there was Scream, the film that both celebrated and satirized the genre Craven had helped form. Now, I actually saw the third film in the series first at a sleepover back in 7th or 8th grade, and even though it’s considered the weakest of the series, and though I had no familiarity with the characters to have much context for what was going on, I actually had a good time with it, and I subsequently sought out the rest of the films at the time and enjoyed those even more! During my time as a horror genre-hater, the Scream series remained my one exception whenever horror movies came up as a topic of conversation, as they were more fun than truly terrifying to me. It soon became apparent, however, that I really should see the movies that Scream was deconstructing, and so this actually put the pressure on me to finally give films like the Elm Street movies, Friday the 13th, Halloween, and even The Cabin in the Woods their fair chance. I didn’t always like them, but the process itself has been enjoyable, and I feel like the pressure has certainly given me a new perspective and appreciation for the genre as a whole.

Sadly, Wes Craven suddenly passed away this week after a quiet battle with brain cancer, and I actually felt a pretty great sense of personal loss when I heard the news. I’ve still yet to see other famous films of his like People Under the Stairs and The Hills Have Eyes, but Craven had unbeknownst to me actually cemented himself in my mind as a filmmaker I still greatly appreciated, if only because of his indirect encouragement to branch out in my movie habits. Craven will always be remembered for his work in the horror genre, but instead of reviewing one of those famous horror films, I figured I’d do something a bit different and honor the guy by reviewing his own foray into unfamiliar territory, the often forgotten Music of the Heart, a sentimental based-on-a-true-story drama that has been sitting in my Netflix instant viewing queue for quite a while ever since I randomly glanced at the name “Wes Craven” being tied to a film that had Meryl Streep, Angela Basset, and Gloria Estefan in the film’s poster. Read more…

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2013 IN REVIEW: My Top 15 Worst Films of the Year

February 8, 2014 1 comment
This isn't on this list, you jerks.

Surprise! This isn’t on this list, you jerks.

I ended up seeing a lot of movies in 2013 – more than I had expected. So many, in fact, that when I was attempting to assemble a list of the Top 10 Worst Films of the Year, I managed to assemble a list of 15 candidates that I honestly felt were all very worthy of being placed here on the list. And so I saw fit to revise my previous plans and expand the list from 10… to 15!

Below are some of the worst things that Hollywood produced and released in the year 2013. Obviously, I didn’t see every movie in 2013, and so I couldn’t include some very likely candidates, like The Smurfs 2 or Battle of the Year, or the two rival horror movie spoofs A Haunted House and Scary Movie V. I can only take so much, so that’s why I call this list MY list.

Some of these are almost lengthy enough to be reviews, I admit. I got fairly passionate about the awfulness of some of the movies more than others. Some of the material, I admit, may find itself into an official, separate, and expanded review, as well, just so I can avoid the need to talk about it that much more if I do ever get around to reviewing the actual film. For a couple of them I already did review, and so you’ll see links attached to the titles.

For now, however, these are just considered summaries, ranking from least worst to worst worst. These represent the most boring, lazy, stupid, inept, and awful movies I saw this past year, and so all I can say is that I’m happy I made it out alive to warn you against seeing them. There were too many fun, enjoyable, and awesome movies released in 2013 for too many of us to spend our hard earned money on these films without at least wanting to see a bad movie. So… yeah. You’re welcome. Read more…

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2013 IN REVIEW: The Films I Didn’t See (September – December)

January 25, 2014 1 comment

Inside Llewyn Davis - Oscar Isaac

Oscar season! This is when the studios want to release the best films of the year (or so they say). Why? Because they want the films to be fresh in the voters’ minds. Prestige films and the like. Indie dramas, historical period films, war films, controversial films… If it can make you cry, your heartbreak, your spirit lift with joy, make you see things from a new light, this is the season.

It’s also a good time for seasonal holiday films. You’ve got your horror films to cover Halloween, your Christmas films for Christmas, and this year we even got an animated Thanksgiving film (though I’m not certain that all you people looking forward to a big piece of juicy turkey are going to love it). Meanwhile, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa get left out, once again. For some reason, this season was also rife with Christian films, from Kirk Cameron, to Miley Cyrus analogs, to Christmas miracles, the industry that claims to represent my faith has got you covered in that area. Woo.

It’s not all your typical films, though. More and more, Hollywood is figuring out that you should spread your action films and your romantic comedies throughout the year, rather than bunching them all into the middle. Consequently, we got a few Sylvester Stallone-involved flicks this season, a sequel to Robert Rodriguez’s Machete, as well as the latest in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Thor: The Dark World.

Nevertheless, as with the first and second entries, I couldn’t see them all, so, as with the last time, here are the films that, as of this writing, I did not see from May– August 2013, in order of release, as noted on Wikipedia. Please note that, as in the past, I still reserve the right to watch any film that is listed here and then re-remark on the film in one of the upcoming articles on films I did see from 2013. So, yes, again, you might see some of these films again, and soon, since this is the last of the films that I haven’t seen from the year. Enjoy! Read more…

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2011 in Review: The Top 5 Worst Films I Saw

January 17, 2012 5 comments

Some would say that 2011 as a very disappointing year for film. While there were definitely fewer films that I wanted to see this past year than in years past, or at least ones that I was totally looking forward to, there was hardly a shortage of films that I did see and love, all the same.

But before I get to those films, we do have some filth to get out of the way, first. Though I try to avoid them at all costs, sometimes a bad film is just too hard to avoid, whether it’s because I saw them out of obligation to someone else or, as is the case with many of the films I saw this past year, I developed a case of morbid curiosity. Sometimes it paid off. Sometimes it didn’t. And while there were some films I did see from the past year were truly very poor ones, there were some that were just downright disappointments, too.

I’ve already gone through and told you about the films that I liked, and I already have a list of my favorite films of 2011 coming to you, as well, but before we do that, let’s get this out of the way, first.

Here is a definitive list of the Top 5 Worst Films I saw from 2011 that I did see, in ascending order from bad to worse to just absolutely awful…

5.  Gnomeo & Juliet (February 11)

As if this story weren’t retold enough, here comes Canadian animation studio Arc Productions’ gimmicky little collaboration with Disney, a comedic and decidedly un-tragic retelling of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. Honestly, it’s not a horrendous film and likely wouldn’t have made this list had I seen some of the more horrible-looking films this past year that I managed to avoid (which is why it’s at the bottom of this list); but Gnomeo & Juliet‘s biggest failing isn’t that it’s awful, but that it’s like that friend who cracks all those corny jokes all the time, who gets everyone laughing but only because, you know, they’re friendly enough and generally nice to have around, but you really can’t bear to hurt their feelings and tell them that they’re not as clever as they think. The title, though, should give you an idea of what kind of humor lies within the film — puns aplenty and a smearing of self-aware sensibility so heavy that you’d think the animators kind of knew they were making a rather bland film and decided to compensate for it. Read more…

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