Posted on 3/30/13 12:57 PM
It's the charisma of the actors that basically makes this works!
After all, I can overlook the fact they decided to shoot the movie in US (while in the book, it takes place in Camden, UK). I can also live with the fact that they decided not to have some of my favorites sequences from the book (for example; the irish drunk singing "All Kinds of Everything", whom they used to throw out every morning, hahaha). The reason why I can ignore these flaws is because I think John Cusack makes the lead, "Rob", so brilliantly well, and the same goes to Jack Black, (though Black only possess an assisting role as co-worker "Barry").
The character, Rob Gordon is a depressed record store-owner, 30 s, who's genuine interest in music handicaps him when it comes to dating women. For as long as he can remember he has been very unfortunate when it comes to relationships (as he would put it himself...) His longest relationship lasted with Laura (Iben Hjejle), (who just left him in the first scene), whom he met a couple of years ago when he was working as a DJ. Since Laura had gotten her law degree, Rob percieves that she has changed her personality and experienced that they've grown apart.
What is clear from the very start for the viewer is that Rob has to "mature" a bit, learning to accept people for who they are, stop pitying himself and create a self image that is less attached to his music expertise. Or else his will most probably experience his biggest fear; dying as a bachelor!
My top two favorite scenes from the movie are;
1.) In the beginning when Rob is abruptly left by his girlfriend, Lisa, and he turns on 13th Floor Elevator's "You're Gonna Miss Me", on the highest volume on his stereo. And opens the window so she can hear it, as she walks out. Just to make a silly statement, I guess.
"The Monday Tape"! When Jack Black turns on Katrina & The Waves' Walkin On Sunshine on fullest volume (and makes a priceless "show" ;) to cheer co-workers Rob and Dick up a bit. Haha
There are a list of actors among the cast like; Todd Louiso, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Joan Cusack, Tim Robbins and Lili Taylor, among other!
Me myself, have grown up in a record collecting maniac family, and have met numerous friends of the family who are just like the character Rob ; (bacherlor, music geeks). So that's perhaps why I feel like home when watching and reading High Fidelity :)
Posted on 3/13/13 03:07 PM
Frankenweenie is Tim Burton's latest stop-motion flick in gothic style, which immediately became critic's pet. And for many good reasons!
*Young Victor Frankenstein is a boy with several talents and interests like making short movies with his beloved dog, Sparky, and conducting rather dangerous experiments on the attic. Victor is a natural born scientist, and to his delight, his class has gotten a new science professor, Mr. Rzykruski. Mr. Rzykruski gives the class a special task; to make a science project during a couple of weeks, and later present it.
During the same time, Victor's dog Sparky is accidentally hit by a car and killed while trying to fetch a baseball for Victor. Devastated and shattered over the death of his very best friend, Victor later gets the idea to try to revive Sparky, which he actually manages to do. With Sparky revived, (but not completely intact), Victor must keep his dog hidden from his parents for not causing alarm. Eventually, he tells the secret to a couple of friends, who now know what to present as their science project!
Things starts to get out of hand when Victor along with his friends start to perform the experiment on all sorts of animals, who sometimes tend to come back to life in different (and more dangerous!) shapes!*
This is a brilliant Frankenstein-spoof by Master of Suspense of Stop-motion (the title Master of Suspense, is like you know already taken, so I came up with this instead :). Charming, adorable and cute with a morbid touch, which is Burton's signature mark. I watched this movie in 3D, and I can recommend it if you already have the necessairy device. If not, the movie is still strong enough to stand on it's own, and in all honesty doesn't need any novelties of that kind to be appreciated. But... I haven't watched the 1984 original, but have a hard time believing it's better than this wonderful 2012-version.
Like often with Burton's movies, Frankenweenie is flirting a lot with old classic horror movies... to take an example (besides the fact the movie is in black and white!); when a poodle is getting hit by the light and get the very same hairdo as Elsa Lanchester in The Bride of Frankenstein.
Also the surroundings where the story takes place, reminds a lot of the settings in the 1931 Frankenstein-movie, with the old mill and all.
Typical Tim Burton-humour!
Frankenweenie, for me, definately belongs to the same league as Nightmare Before Christmas!
A very heart-warming and entertaining movie, which I will definately watch again sometime!
Posted on 3/12/13 02:11 PM
Ethan Hawk plays true-crime writer Ellison Oswalt, who moves with his wife and two children to a new house. What his wife doesn't know is that he had chosen the house only for the fact that a murder of a whole family has occured there earlier. The police were dumbfounded when they found the family dangling, hanged to death in a tree on their yard. The murderer was never found and a little girl's body was missing from the scene.
After having experienced hearing strange sounds on the attic, Ellison finds a box containing 8 mm-movies, marked with different seemingly pleasant themes as; "Lawn Work", "Sleepy Time", "Pool Party", "BBQ" and "Daily Hanging Out", with a date on each. Later he takes time to watch them out of curiosity, and is more than shocked to discover that each of the tapes films different families being murdered, included the family who lived in the house before. It's not shown the face of the person who commits the crimes, we only see a spectral shadow of a creature in the background, observing the events.
Ellison makes some research for the murders, and find out that each have several facts in common; unclear motive, murderer never found, but most important of all; one child's body was missing after each murder.
The shit hit the fan, when the wife finds out the ghastly things that has occured in the house before. The son is suffering from night terror and the daughter is painting pictures of the little girl who lived in the house before. With these strained relationships in the family and Ellison himself getting the feeling that they are not alone in the house, he starts to re-think if it was such a good idea moving from their house...
I must say I was a bit impressed by Sinister. Even after having watched hundreds and hundreds of horror movies, I still felt that Sinister was a fresh entry to the genre. Some of the scenes were very uneasy to watch, while not overly gory. The ending freaked me out a bit as well! Scott Derrickson (The Excorsicm of Emily Rose) is the name of the director, and needless to say, I look forward to more horror flicks of him in the future.
Posted on 3/10/13 12:33 PM
Patrick Bateman (Christian Bale) represents the type that most (normal) people despise. A yuppie in the late 1980s, dressed for success with no sympathy for other human beings. Executive on a bank investment bureau, his the sole ambition in life to get as high status as he possibly can. He is extremly picky about his appearances and chooses very carefully which lotion, which after-shave, which suite and which shoes to wear. He is engaged to beautiful Evelyn Williams (Reese Witherspoon), but just for show. Secretly he despises women and doesn't save his energy for telling his submissive secretary, Jean (Chloe Sevigny) what she should wear and not, to look decent. He is regularly cheating on his fiancé with her best friend and sometimes with prostitutes.
Nobody knows that Patrick is a psychopath who fantazises every day about torturing and killing people, mostly prostitutes. His first victim though, will be his collegue whom he kills out of jealousy with an axe. That murder will only be the first in a row of people who Patrick Bateman doesn't consider worth living.
Willem Dafoe plays the detective who is investigating the missing of Patrick's colleague, and squeezes Patrick for details.
My first impression of this movie after having watching on it's release, was that I didn't like it.
Back then, I couldn't explain why, except that it wasn't my cup of tea. But recently, I gave this movie another chance and re-watched it impartially, as I always try to when re-watching I movie I didn't like from first view. My feeling today, was the very same as the first time I watched it. In this review, I'll try to point out why...
First, I didn't find the cynical tone, which the movie is built on, particularly sharp or "on-the-spot".
There are some very good actors in this movie; Christian Bale and Willem Dafoe, just to mention two. But unforfunately, the script won't allow them to properly show their skills, since I think their roles are pretty flat and Bale's is very much a caricature..
Usually, the point of using caricatures is to emphasize the comic features in a concept. Unfortunately, I did not find anything of this comical at all. Not a trace.
Of course, a movie can still be amusing without being a laughing feast, but I find this movie pointless all-through, actually.
A poor man's version of Crime and Punishment, polluted with clichés.
Despite the fact that I wasn't overly thrilled with this movie, I'm still ready to give the book a chance. Anybody who can recommend it?
Posted on 3/05/13 10:03 PM
"Any man on the street could be the guilty one"
It's impressing how little this movie actually has aged. You don't have to be particularly into classics to enjoy this.
The entrance of the murderer in the beginning, is one of the most brilliant and stylish I've ever seen;
A little girl, "Elsie", playing in the streets, bounces her ball against a poster that is alerting the people that a serial killer might be at large. And suddenly, the shadow profile of a short man with a hat, creeps over the poster. This is the way Fritz Lang strikes to introduce us to the perverted child murderer, Franz Becker (Peter Lorre).
"What a pretty ball you have there...", the he says to Elsie. He later buys her a balloon. After a short while, we see the ball rolling alone on the ground and the balloon tangled in an electric main...
Unlike the dozens and dozens of american crime movies, we don't follow a particular detective who's going to crack the case...We follow a the police force with their attempts to catch the killer before the criminal elements do so.
It's typical for the german expressionism, to take advantage of shadow profiles to increase the suspense, like Lang does in the beginning. Take The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari or Nosferatu for example.
What I noticed, is that Fritz Lang regularly through the movie, make 5-7 seconds long shots of the environment (like the stairwell-shots to take an example) to familiarize the audience with the scene in the movie in a more effective way. I don't recall having seen this technique this early before (but please, feel free to inform me if you know an even earlier example!), which also indicates how innovative this movie actually was on it's release.
Peter Lorre went to history with his portrayal of Becker with his ever so enerving whistling of the tune "In the hall of the mountain king" while approaching his young victims. Fritz Lang uses that sound of the murder's whistling to notify the audience the murderer is soon to be seen. You have to keep in mind that sound in movies was a new device in 1931.
Lorre's defend speech in the end is historical and gives us a clear view of the theories that was in fashion back then; a serial killer kills of compulsion for pathological reasons. Peter Lorre's desperate outcries go stright to ones heart. He claims he cannot help himself. He has no control over his actions. And yes, in a way he is even perhaps better than the common criminals "who are proud of breaking safes or cheating at cards"! Because he is a law-abiding citizen most of the time! The criminals on the streets have chosen to commit their crimes, while he, Franz Becker, is compelled to commit them.
"M" suggests that a killer might be a product of a sick society, which in 1931 was a new way of explaining the psyche of a killer.
Posted on 3/05/13 01:27 PM
The delicate photography elevates this movie from 70% to 80%, for me. It's a slightly depressing story, set in Sweden, 1981, about a ten year old girl who is left at home with her aunt's care by her parents who are going to Africa during the summer "to save black children". At first, the girl was supposed to follow, and even gets several vaccinations for the trip. In the last minute, the parents gets a call from the swedish consulate saying that their daughter is too young to go to Africa. They ask the girls aunt to take care of her. The aunt is a heavily drinking party girl, who have other plans then babysit during the summer vacation.
The girl soon gets neglected and abandoned by her aunt, having promised not to tell anybody. She will take this promise very seriously and won't utter a word to any neighbour or friend that she is living all by herself.
Despite she's doing her very best to manage on her own; doing all the chores, shopping groceries, cleaning the house, ect., it's almost inevitable that a 10-year old girl, who's never taken care of herself before, will suffer lots of harm from malnutrition.
To make the days less lonely, she visits the teenage neighbour girl, Tina and her cousin, who boss around with the little girl and talks her into doing stupid things. Other days, she plays with the neighbour boy Ola, of the same age as her. Together they catch tadpoles in a cree, put them is a glass bowl, feed them and watch them grow.
Adult neighbours gets suspicious after a while, when they notice that the girl is always dirty and suffers from an awful constipation, and starts to get a nasty infection on the arm where she had her vaccination.
This movie is not like any movie I've seen before about childhood, or coming-of-age. It's very stripped in it's way, does not contain much action of dialog. You feel more like an observer then an audience, if you see what I mean. But still the movie arises very strong feelings. Like in the fashion of the swedish new wave, the movie is stripped of sentiments, they are left for the audience to create.
Though it might look that way, from reading the synopsis, this is not an overly pitying movie, or a traditional tear jerker in any way! Like I said, in this movie, you are the observer, and you are left to create your own emotions. You can feel some tones of cynicism, though.
The ironic twist of the situation, is that the ever so idealistic parents who want to rescue the poor black children in Africa, are practically neglecting their own child by leaving her to a very careless aunt, and not even once bother to phone home to assure that everything is fine.
If you are into world cinema, you shouldn't hesitate to watch this!
Posted on 3/05/13 12:25 PM
Fish Tank, with it's lack of sentimentality, is a pretty coarse and naked brittish indie-movie, which definately is worth it's time.
The movie portrays a 15-year old girl named Mia (Katie Jarvis), during a couple of weeks before she is supposed to be sent to a special school, where the social authorities have arranged a place for her, after she's been kicked out of her old school.
Mia is what you would call a typical "problem child", who is emotionally scarred as a result of being brought up with a mother (played by Kierston Wareing) who is incapable of showing Mia and her younger sister Tyler (Rebecca Griffiths) love or any emotional support at all.
The mother, who's behaving more like a teenager herself, throws wild parties for her friends in the middle of the weeks, meanwhile her daughters are practically banned from the ground floor. During these parties, Mia and Tyler stay on the top floor, and get wasted from bottles of booze they've found.Mia's biggest passion in life is hip hop dancing, in which she spends hours practising and putting together choreographies.
Mia's pessimistic view of life slowly changs when she finally finds a friend in her mother's new boyfriend Connor (Michael Fassbender), the only friend Mia got and feel like she can confide a little in.Despite her very rough language and image, it is clear for us viewers that Mia is not an all bad kid, though she has some bad sides. This gets specially evident when she by a coincidence spots an obviously suffering horse, chained on a yard, which she several times tries to "rescue", despite being threatened by it's owners on several occasions.
What I really like about this movie, is it's tone. It's so "straight-to-the-point" in an almost brutal way, and you never feel like; "oh, it's now I'm supposed to feel sorry for the lead" and so on, even though the whole movie is heavily struck by a low key. The filmmakers leave you up to getting your own opinions and impressions about the characters, which I really appreciate. With no doubt, I can say that Fish Tank was one of my favorite movies from the year 2009.
Posted on 3/01/13 12:38 PM
I can understand why some people like Pee-Wee's Big Adventure. It's a very unique, quirky and cartoonish movie by Tim Burton, which has achieved some cult status in later days.
*It's seems like an ordinairy day for Pee-Wee Herman (Paul Reubens), when he takes his beloved bicycle to town, to fetch his newly repaired bicycle horn at Chuck's bike-o-rama where pretty Dottie (Elizabeth Dailey) works. When returning to his bicylce which he had parked outside, he discovers that someone has stolen it! First he rushes to rich boy Francis who have been making eyes for his red, shiny bike for a while. He almost drowns him in his swimming pool. But then he is told that Francis hasn't taken it.
After learning from the police that finding his stolen bike is not a high priority for them, he decides he must find it himself. So he goes to a fortune teller, who tells him his bike is to be found at the basement of Aloma. So he travels towards Aloma....*
Now I'm just speaking of my very personal experience, watching this movie...Honestly, I couldn't stand the lead and his annoying strained voice. Or let me explain...to me, all the characters were annoying and the humour didn't quite appeal to me.
It's hard for me to say if I would think differently of this movie, if I first had watched it when being a kid, but I don't think so.
To me, Pee-Wee is like a rude Mr. Bean with DAMP, who speaks in a very annoying way, and lives in a pastel tralala land with other cartoonish characters.
I can appreciate it for the fact that it's a very creative idea by Burton, and innovative for it's time, but personally, I didn't like it.
I think I would like it better as a short movie (not just because I didn't like it, haha) because I felt the last half made it unnesessairly lengthy. In the same format as Tim Burton's Vincent, it would probably get 60% from me.
Posted on 2/23/13 06:33 PM
On his way to celebrate his daughter on her birthday, William Foster (Michael Douglas) is stuck in a traffic jam. This incident proved to be the straw that broke the camels back for Foster who goes beserk this hot summer day. To get some change to call his wife, he walks into a korean grocery store. The store owner refuses to change Foster's bill for coins, but is advising him to buy a can of coke from him, to get some change. It turnes out that his prices are insolently high, and Foster would barely get any change over after buying that coke. In blind fury, he grabs a baseball bat (the korean guy was just about to use it) and demolish the whole store, cursing over the prices and projecting his rasistic thoughts about "greedy immigrants".
Minutes after, he is resting on a grass lot, unprovocely, when two street gang members start to harass him. After the two gangsters have declaire that they will only let Foster pass if he pays them a sum of money, he once again grabs his baseball bat (from the korean store) and turns them out of the way.
William Foster is a name who has essentially lost everything, during a short time. He has recently been fired from his work for the government (D-FENS), a fact he hasn't told anyone about. He has screwed up his relationship with his ex-wife, resulting in her being scared of him and a straining order have been arranged. He furthermore lives with his mother (who lately also have become scared of him) has no contact with his little daughter., although he is determined to buy her a nice present and see her on her birthday.
William Foster is the anti-hero personified. It's strikingly easy to sympathatize with him, despite his voilent spree.
Detective Prendergast (Robert Duvall), makes the antagonist of the movie. He is working the his last day before retireing, and the police force has already arranged a farewell party for him, with a cake and everything. We also get a pretty close view on that character, and learn that he is married to a very unstable and needy wife, who dominates him. Some of Prendergast's collegues, secretly look down on him for being a henpecked husband.
The festivities on the police station has to wait once they start to get reports about a dangerous man in white shirt with tie, armed with a baseball bat is terrorizing the streets.
At the same time, a recenly divorced mother (played by Barbara Hershey) is worred after having getting several phone calls from her ex-husband who despite the straining order, threatens to visit, cause it's their daughters birthday.
Joel Schumacher is the director, which would have been a hard guess. His filmography may not impress, but in Falling Down he shoes the same poignancy and disputing as you can see in Oliver Stone's movies, to take a good example.
I only wished that the character's mental problem was displayed more clear. I mean, it's suggested that he is fired from his work because of his aggressions, so I'd like to know where that anger orginated at first, or at least that it was better displayed. Because it almost appears like William Foster just is one guy who happen to be very unlucky, and might as well be you or me. Perhaps Schumacher was afraid that the character would lose it's sympathy from the viewers then, but I actually think the effect would be the opposite; William Foster would even more be a person of flesh and bone, then.
"Sergeant prendergast: Let's meet a couple of police officers. They are all good guys.
William Foster: I'm the bad guy?
Sergeant Prendergast: Yeah.
William Foster: How did that happen?"
Posted on 2/23/13 04:17 PM
This low-budget movie is somewhat unique in a couple of ways. Starrs a very young Juliette Lewis and Brad Pitt (who also were an off-screen couple at the time). Juliette Lewis plays a very debile and infantile young woman called Adele, who is married to a psychopath killer Early (Brad Pitt). Together, the trailor trash couple, answers an ad of another couple who is going to California by car and wants company and someone to share the gasolin money with. The other couple, Carrie and Brian only have one condition; to stop at old murder scenes along the road. Brian (David Duvchovny); to be inspired and get material for the book about psychopath killers he is writing. Carry (Michelle Forbes); to get some nice artsy photos for her future exhibition. After, Early having killed their landlord, Early and Adele are leaving their trailor to join Brian and Carry for the trip to California.
Carry's first impression of the couple is not overly favorable. Being a well dressed and very trendy artist, the manners of the trashy couple, remotely sickens her.
She befriends Adele, after a few days, and feel very sorry for her, for having such a dominant, mean and abusive boyfriend.
Brian, also befriends Early, after a while, and starts to consider his rough, primitive and very trashy manners, charming in some way.
What Brian and Carry don't know, is that Early is robbing and killing people along the road to afford paying his share of the gasolin money...
Ultimately, when they find out that their company is wanted by the police for murder, it's too late to run away.
What I like about this B-movie, is the subtle humour that comes of the contrast between down and dirty wt-couple and the pretentious, sophisticated college couple. Important to point out, though, is that this is nowhere a traditional comedy, but made as a thriller. It's a bit punky, in that certain 90s way, you know, and provoking. It certainly qualifies as a nice, interesting cult movie of the 90s!