There is something interesting about the history of the video nasty era of the 1980s. Infamy for horror had never been higher. Directors were filming some of the grossest, most disturbing sequences ever and getting banned in country after country. Nowadays, if horror is not shot in some sick, disgusting, almost pornographic way, with strobe-like editing, then it hardly warrants a theatrical release. Sometimes it is worth it to take that trip back to the era where CGI did not rule the silver screen and every effort, though often comical, felt legitimate. Continue reading
Ever wonder what it would be like to see all of one’s skeletons in one’s closet manifest and ripple into the physical world? Imagine yourself in such a situation: all the horrors, mental torments, regrets, and anguish balled up into a small, seemingly abandoned town. Imagine the calling, the lure of its gray, dusty streets, the way it feeds off your psyche like a leech. The successful Silent Hill video game franchise is exactly this. But much like the slew of Resident Evil flicks, a few things tend to get lost in the translation. While few fans probably go into video game movies anymore expecting some sort of loyalty, the thing to watch for has instead become butchery. Silent Hill: Revelation is full of butchery. But is there more to the cutting board than just chunks of mutilated flesh? Continue reading
Ten Best Films I Saw in 2012
Note: I don’t get to the theater much because it is expensive and there usually aren’t five films that come out all year that are worth going to the theater for. So instead I keep track of the films I’ve never seen before during the year and select from that list ten best (complete list of the films I saw this year, among other things, at http://coffeecupreview.wordpress.com/). Continue reading
There are few things as satisfying as watching characters go ape on screen with giant guns and blasting everything with a pulse within ten square miles. The action genre has been revered for ages, ever since the audience was shown the glory, and sometimes gory horror, of the shoot out. There is a certain allure to protagonists blowing away everything in sight, much like a hockey masked serial killer hacking up impure, misbehaving teenagers. And while the absolute madness of gunfire has had a warm place in the hearts of film lovers for years, it was a director named John Woo that really cranked up the voltage in 1986 with A Better Tomorrow. Continue reading
“The Hobbit – An Unexpected Journey” is the latest entry in adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s most celebrated literary works. The fourth film released overall in the franchise, it is the first in the series if viewing chronologically (one, four, five, and six have reached the cineplex, with two and three in production at the present time). Peter Jackson directed this as he has all the previous installments. Currently he is working on the final two that completes the quadrilogy and will ultimately consist of three “Lord of the Rings” and three “The Hobbit” pictures. Bringing Tolkien’s iconic fantasy stories to the big screen and to a deeply devoted worldwide fan base will ultimately have been a twenty year endeavour for the man. More on this latest entry and how it stacks up within the set, please click the link.
I’m at a loss of words. It would be inadequate to describe The Imposter as shocking; it’s that and much more. Bart Layton has made what is surely one of the best documentaries of the year, but it is also one of the most unforgettable films of the year. It’s a rare kind of experience when a documentary can put you on the edge of your seat for nearly its entire runtime. The story it is telling is as unnerving as it is outrageous, and I am still finding it hard to comprehend how any of it could be true.
Wreck-It Ralph, Walt Disney Animation Studios latest and fifty-second feature film, is a family friendly action comedy that elevates itself above others in the genre. It is easily one of the best of the year in the animated feature space. The movie takes place within an old-fashioned video game parlor and breathes life into those that inhabit the cabinets throughout “Litwak’s Arcade”. It is a novel concept and executed well, making the conceit that these characters are living “behind the glass” after closing time easy to comprehend. This project has been in some form of development since the 1980’s at the Mouse House, and adds a nice spin to their well-worn premise of a rebellious lead character who believes they are capable of more.
Stephen Chbosky’s adaptation of his own film of the same name is constantly plagued by the simple fact that the subjects he is dealing with have already been explored countless times. Following Charlie who, like the countless other teenagers, is struggling to find friends and fit in with high school life. He meets Patrick and his step-sister Sam, two eccentric seniors who are apart of a group of social misfits. They like underground rock music and have lived to rebel against everyone else. But this self-imposed isolation has left them wary of the world they inhabit. Charlie can relate to their isolation, but his has been caused by unfortunate events in his life.
The Universal Soldier franchise has come along way since Jean-Claude Van Damme and Dolph Lundgren were first pitted against each other in 1992. Since then the series has spawned five – including this one – sequels (two direct-to-video releases). The original suffered from having a noticeably similar concept to Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991), and also not being very good; it was just another cliche action flick that Hollywood was churning out in factory-style fashion. Seven years later Van Damme returned in the series’ ill-advised and incompetently made return to theatrical releasing – cleverly titled Universal Soldier: The Return. A critical and commercial disaster which ended director Mic Rodgers’ career before it began.
Gaspar Noè doesn’t shy away from expressing his horrifically bleak view of the world. His unforgettable feature film debut, I Stand Alone (1998), revolved around a butcher who embarks on a hate-fueled rage against the world. He finally returns to the director’s chair four years later to make Irreversible, an equally brutalizing and relentless examination of the most horrific aspects of human nature. It’s violent, mean, and vulgar, too much for most people. I have plenty of experience with disturbing films and it still exhausted me. But it still signifies why Noè is a rare artistic presence, because in spite of his films having a decisively nihilistic tone to them, he still finds a heart and soul within all the madness.