Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Repo! The Genetic Opera (Bousman, 2008)

From Saw II, III and VI director Darren Lynn Bousman and originally a stage play, Repo! The Genetic Opera is a rock-opera set in 2056. Setting the scene with some snazzy comic book-style graphics, something used throughout the movie as a storytelling device, after an epidemic of organ failure Rotti Largo (Paul Sorvino) set up GeneCo, a company which offers replacement organs. However, they come at a price - if the recipient is unable to keep up their repayments, the Repo Man comes to repossess their organs. 17 year old Shilo (Alexa Vega) is kept under house arrest by her father Nathan (Anthony Stewart Head) due to her apparent blood disease inherited from her dead mother, Marni. Unbeknownst to Shilo, her father is leading a double life, and is actually the fearsome Repo Man.

Largo discovers he is dying, and as an ex-lover of Marni, he pinpoints Shilo as a possible heir to GeneCo, rather than his own offspring, Luigi (Bill Moseley), Amber (Paris Hilton) and Pavi (Nivek Ogre) and offers her a cure for her blood disease. Her estranged godmother, operatic superstar Blind Mag (Sarah Brightman) urges her not to take up the offer in fear of Shilo making the same mistakes that she did - when GeneCo gave her new eyes, she fell under the control of Largo, trapped in a contract to be the voice of GeneCo.

The whole story is played out through song, with a mixing of opera with industrial sound to create a unique rock opera, with the final scenes part of the GeneCo's 'Genetic Opera' show, something of a fucked up Moulin Rouge. We're also given narration by a Grave Robber (Terrance Zdunich), who we see straightaway to introduce the Repo Man in 'Genetic Repo Man' and who gives the backstory slickly in '21st Century Cure'. The comic-book style illustrations create some variety and give a modern take on the operatic melodrama.

Despite a comparitively modest budget of $8.5million, the visuals are incredible, from the futuristic dystopia to the gothic interiors of Nathan and Shilo's home. The cinematography fits in with the comic-book aesthetic with colour-saturated bright cinematography. The costume choices are wonderfully theatrical, with corsets and gothic attire mixed with futuristic elements and creepy gas masks, alongside Shilo's gothic style and the badass leather gear and mask of the Repo Man.

The strength of the ensemble cast is essential to the movie, and don't fail to disappoint, and the chorus prove essential, particularly in standout song 'Zydrate Anatomy', a catchy introduction to backstreet surgery and the drug Zydrate. The voices range from Sorvino's operatic tones to Head's rockier vocal delivery. Most of the cast have musical backgrounds of some kind, notably Brightman, who is one of the best selling opera artists - and as a side note, looks amazing considering she's 50. Best known for her appearances in the Spy Kids franchise, Vega plays 17 year old Shilo, who despite being bald and blood-diseased, still has plenty of good old teenage angst. 'Seventeen' is the perfect girly rock and roll song, and even festures Joan Jett as the bassist in the sequence in which Shilo's bedroom is turned into her very own rock concert with awesome lighting and smoke machines. 

As for the rest of the cast, ever since Giles' moonlighting acoustic tendencies in Buffy The Vampire Slayer, I've always been a massive fan of Anthony Head - so this was rather an aural delight, with his incredible vocal skills put to easily the best use in his career. Switching from tortured, lonely and overly posessive father to the psychopathic Repo Man, particularly in his performance Legal Assassin, he creates a split-personality man on the edge, quite frankly terrifying in his madness. Running around during 'Thankless Job', a side of his personality (which he later describes as 'the monster') clearly revels in his work. The scenes of violence pull no punches, and we see organs being brutally ripped from the living bodies of Repo Man's victims, with plenty of stylistically over-bright crimson blood. This movie doesn't hold back on the gore - and when considering Bousman's involvement with the Saw franchise, this is unsurprising.

As Amber Sweet, Paris Hilton stands up well, playing a bratty, knife-addicted diva, perhaps not far removed from her general persona, but in this case her caricatured version of this character works well, and she can actually hold a tune pretty well and gives a lot to the role. A special mentions has to be given to Pavi (Nivek Ogre, who sings in Skinny Puppy), who wears womens faces to cover his own scarred skin, creating something that looks incredibly freakish and monstrous looking. Oh, and it's got Bill Moseley as a sociopathic, agressive brother with an obsessive compulsion to change his shirt on a regular basis.

Repo! The Genetic Opera offers something the mainstream film market fails to offer - uniqueness. The mishmash of many different musical and visual styles makes it exciting and the strong cast pull off the fast-paced, ever-changing storyline. Mixing horror, sci-fi and opera, it's Rocky Horror meets Saw meets Blade Runner, a postmodern feast of visuals and sound - a perfect cult classic. 


Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Just a little update...

I apologise for the lack of stuff recently, I've been embarking on the dreaded dissertation and generally running around the country and having general adventures!
Coming Soon!

Plus some TV related titbits!

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Halloween (Carpenter, 1978)

This could well be the most pointless review in existence - chances are, you've all seen it (if you haven't, shame on you!). And read umpteen million reviews about it. But tonight, for the first time in quite a while, I rewatched one of the movies that will always have a lasting impression on me - and memories of hiding behind a pillow whilst watching it in my early teenage years. So take this as more of an appreciation, rather than a review, if you will. And it'll also be quite short. And would have perhaps been more appropriate a few days ago. But I'm rarely appropriate, even at the best of times.

The film opens with a young Michael Myers killing his older sister - all shown from his POV, without knowing the viewpoint is that of a six year old boy, which makes it all the more disturbing when he is revealed. And, a horror film staple, we even get to see some boobies before the movie's even properly started. Hooray! Fast-forward to fifteen years later, Dr. Sam Loomis (Donald Pleasence), Michael's psychiatrist, is on his way to the institution Michael has spent the last decade and a half in, but finds that his patient has escaped. Michael makes his way to Haddonsfield, his old hometown, and begins to stalk local teenager Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) and her friends. On Halloween night, whilst Laurie is babysitting, Michael watches...

The film may not exhibit the most perfectionist style of filmmaking - with notable continuity errors and general goofs (how many did you spot?). However, there are some brilliant choices made with the shooting - from the shaky camerawork, to the POV shots, giving a genuinely creepy, voyeuristic feel...and the way Michael appears and disappears seamlessly in the background of shots...eerie as fuck. One thing every true classic horror movie needs is a score - check! The repeated Halloween theme is a perfect contribution to the tension-building moments.

Taking inspiration from Hitchcock's Psycho (1960), Halloween competently builds tension - in a similar way to the former, through subtleties rather than the constant, in your face jumpy moments commonplace in many modern 'slashers'. Although it has all the elements seen in your common slasher, it goes beyond that, and is far, far scarier than the gorefests that followed. Despite being over 30 years old, it hasn't become dated and stands the test of time as a true classic horror. At fourteen, I hid behind my pillow - and now at twenty two, I was still tempted to do the same...


Friday, 29 October 2010

Happy Halloween Weekend!

Yeah, for me Halloween lasts the whole weekend - any excuse to cover myself in blood, I'm in! No film/tv relevance here, just a self-obsessed picture of my costume/fake bloodiness, but enjoy the weekend! :)

Monday, 25 October 2010

The Honeymoon Killers (Kastle, 1970)

Possibly my favourite place to buy movies is the CeX chain (and not just because I call it 'the cex shop'...). And one of my most recent purchasing sprees included this 25p bargain. The Honeymoon Killers is based on the true events of a notorious duo of 'lonely hearts killers' in the 1940s.

Martha Beck (Shirley Stoler) is an overweight, lonely nurse, but when her friend signs her up to a lonely hearts club, where she corresponds with Raymond Fernandez (Tony Lo Bianco). The pair embark upon a relationship, despite the discovery that Ray makes a living conning women by seducing them. As the pair pose as brother and sister to draw in the lonely spinsters, Martha's jealousy at seeing Ray with other women grows. When Ray marries a pregnant woman who attempts to sleep with him, Martha gives Ray some pills to give her, which result in her death (and a hilariously cheesy 'dead face'. I love 'dead faces'.). 

Little time is spent focusing on the building of the pair's relationship, by 20 minutes in, Beck has decided to leave her elderly mother and move to New York to be with Ray. Much is left out, with the story skipping between women very quickly - no sooner has one target been left or killed, Ray seems to have another lined up - meaning much more focus is given to Ray and Martha. Their relationship is tumultuous, to say the least. Seemingly, all Martha wants is Ray's love, but he seems more interested in conning the women than giving her attention - and tries to drown herself when she believes he is truly interested in another woman. Although her hapless swimming is pretty amusing, the moments where she is actually drowning are quite disturbing, especially the vocal sound collage.

The quick turnover of victims is understandable, as similarly with 1967's Bonnie and Clyde (Penn), the viewer is set in a position to identify with the couple, mainly Martha, rather than the victims - something less common within the horror genre. Stoler has an incredibly creepy face, and as Martha she provides some real menace, all driven by her love for Ray. It's only after Martha's attempted drowning that Ray shows a softer side towards her, and tries to appease her by fulfilling her wish that they move to the suburbs - but, unsurprisingly, their life on the straight and narrow doesn't last long. As for Ray, he's the kind of character that has no real likeable qualities other than when he saves Martha from a watery death. Plus, Lo Bianco's accent combined with bad articulation makes it sometimes hard to make out what he's saying.

Compared to the aforementioned Bonnie and Clyde, The Honeymoon Killers gives a much less glamorous perspective on a criminal relationship - Martha is needy and psychotic, and the couple are often at each other's throats over one thing or another. The black and white, high contrast style gives a gritty, dark feel and the casting of Stoler, a large, unconventional looking actress is a far cry from beauty Faye Dunaway as Bonnie Parker. The kills are a little underwhelming, especially the clunky hammer to the head of

Things get an extra dose of fucked-up with the murder of Daphne Delphine, and the drowning of her young daughter - pretty harrowing stuff. At times, The Honeymoon Killers is creepy and unnerving - but its downfall is the inability to keep the tension up. The building of suspense that shines in some moments doesn't manage to continue throughout the narrative, and gets dull at times. The story itself is an interesting one, and the films Lonely Hearts (Robinson, 2006) and Deep Crimson (Ripstien, 1996) are also based on the same story. Unfortunately, the execution is flawed. A few disturbing sequences make it watchable with hints of greatness that could have been, but the end result seems more melodrama than menace, with a less than believable love story and the odd scattering of black humour. But never mind, it cost less than a Dime bar.


Thursday, 21 October 2010

Zombieland (Fleischer, 2009)

Ahh, zombies. In their endeavour to, well, to just pretty much eat everyone, the whole of America has fallen foul of the flesh-eating fiends. Apart from an unlikely hero from Columbus, Ohio. Zombieland falls under the umbrella sub-genre of the 'zom-com', perfected in 2004's Brit flick Shaun of the Dead, where comedy horror gets the undead treatment. Our hero, known only as 'Columbus' (Jesse Eisenberg...yeah, him again!), is a shy, introverted college student with a wealth of phobias, who spends his evenings eating pizza and playing World of Warcraft. When the zombie apocalpyse strikes, he decides to man up and make his way back home to Ohio, following his own rules for surviving.

Seemingly Eisenberg is a hot topic on this blog, with this being his third appearance - and second in a film that ends in 'land' (Adventureland is the other, FYI). Clearly the awkward teenager is a role he fits in comfortably, and he certainly gives current leader of the socially challenged character typecast, Michael Cera, a run for his money. Columbus is certainly an unlikely survivor, when his hottie next door neighbour (Amber Heard) joins the undead army and decides she wants a piece his survival seems more lucky than skilful - including hitting her with the top of a toilet cistern and apologising for jamming her foot in the door.

Thankfully, Columbus's rules serve him well, including the essentials, such as "Beware of Bathrooms" (Rule #3) and "Double Tap" (Rule #2). Wandering the highway with just a suitcase (Rule #7 - travel light!), he gets picked up by 'Tallahassee' (Woody Harrelson), a ruthless, tough-guy motherfucker...who'll do anything to get his hands on a Twinkie. Harrelson's appearance in the movie was apparently on the basis of four counditions - including the movie being environmentally conscious. After an awesome face-off with some fatties at the supermarket, Columbus and Tallahassee discover 'Wichita' (Emma Stone), whose younger sister 'Little Rock' (Abigail Breslin) has apparently been bitten by a zombie. After a seemingly heart-wrenching moment, the girls quickly turn the tables on the duo, revealing Little Rock's bite as fake, and run off with their truck and guns. They're girls with balls, something often missing within the horror genre. Columbus and Tallahassee stumble across the girls a little later on, and the four create an unlikely alliance, driving across the country.

The zombie style nods more to the blood-soaked crazies of the 'new zombie' film generation, as opposed to the slow, overbearing types in the old-school zombie flicks. There's plenty of blood and guts, with some damn awesome kills - particularly from Tallahassee, who takes great pleasure in the more inventive means of zombie disposal. The comic-book style of the 'rules' being shown on the screen gives a modern, videogame feel, and the opening credits look like they should be in 3D. The random interlude of 'Zombie Kill of the Week' is also a fantastic moment.

Despite the situation, the characters also manage to have some fun - taking out their anger on a new age store by destroying its contents. At times, being seemingly the only living humans on earth actually seems like a lot of fun. When the foursome seek refuge into a famous Hollywood star's house, they also find a fifth survivor - none other than Bill Murray, disguising himself as a zombie to avoid the attention of the real things. His appearance creates some of the most comedically genius moments in the movie, giving the group a temporary escape from the impending zombie doom, and the revelation that Tallahassee is Murray's biggest fan. There are also a fair few other pop-culture references, including a zombie Charlie Chaplin impersonator and references to Murray's appearance in the classic Ghostbusters.

Although not quite standing up to the innovative and original Shaun of the Dead, Zombieland definitely gives a hilarious take on the zombie revival of the 00's. Loads of 'zom', plenty of 'com' and a stand-up cast make it a great example of how comedy horror should be. Although a word of warning - those with a clown phobia may well find themselves hiding behind the sofa at around 1hr 14....



Tuesday, 19 October 2010

The Social Network (Fincher, 2010)

Chances are, most of you will have logged into another site before this one. You might even be as cool as me, and have it open in another tab. With over 500million users, Facebook is the most used social networking site in the world, making creator Mark Zuckerberg the world's youngest billionaire. And it was only a matter of time before Hollywood grabbed hold of his story. The Social Network tells the story of the conception and consequential explosion of the site, starring Zombieland's Jesse Eisenberg as Zuckerberg. The story is framed by two lawsuits, one between Zuckerberg and Eduardo Saverin (Andrew Garfield) another original Facebook founder, and the other with fellow Harvard students Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss (Armie Hammer - with Josh Pence as body double) and Divya Narendra (Max Minghella), who claim Zuckerberg stole their idea for an exclusive social networking site.

After being dumped by girlfriend Erica (Rooney Mara), Zuckerberg returns to his Harvard dorm and, with the help of Sanchez, creates a site called FaceMash, where students can rate the attractiveness of girls on campus. Its massive success prompts the Winklevoss twins and friend/business partner Narenda to approach Zuckerberg with their proposal for a new dating/networking site, Harvard Connections. Zuckerberg agrees to code the site for them, but instead embarks upon his own similar idea, The FaceBook. The site begins to spread to other schools, and attracts the attention of Napster founder Sean Parker (Justin Timberlake).

Exactly how much of the movie is rooted in truth is debatable - Zuckerberg himself has stated that his life was nowhere near as exciting as the screen portrayal makes out, and the team behind the film also state that his story has been dramatized for storytelling, rather than straight factual detail. However, these exaggerated, possibly completely fabricated, events make the film watchable for a general audience.

Despite his original attitude that money doesn't drive him, Zuckerberg comes across as a driven and slightly manipulative character, particularly after meeting Parker, a hedonistic party animal who seems more interested in the fame and perks than the project itself. Although it seems he is being taken advantage of in some ways, it's hard to sympathise with his cold, clinical attitude towards business, and instead lean toward the interests of Sanchez. Knowing that Sanchez was the only member in any way involved with the screenplay could perhaps some way to explaining this biased representation of the characters...

The Social Network works well as a comedy/drama, the seemingly quite dull (unless you're a computing nerd, anyway) subject matter is made far more interesting by the sprinkling of dry, witty humour, which is, on the whole, delivered excellently - particularly by Eisenberg. There are some real laugh out loud (or to appropriately reference internet speak, LOL) moments, including Sanchez's psychotic girlfriend Christy Lee (Brenda Song) raging about a Facebook founder being unable to change his relationship status. And also, Trent Reznor's involvement with the score means a slightly dark, jarring accompaniment that contrasts with the film's comedic attitude.

The editing between the story and lawsuits is well-thought out, and frames the story perfectly with enough factual detail, but not so much as to bore people. Garfield, soon to hit the big time as the new Spiderman, shines as the likeable Sanchez, although Eisenberg gives a somewhat one-dimensional performance. In the lawsuit scenes, the character came across more like a moody teenage boy than a young billionaire businessman. Indeed, the film seems to depict his journey as more partying than working, and that the success was more down to luck - whereas Zuckerberg himself says it took a lot of hard work and years of coding, rather than drinking, to get Facebook where it is today.

Putting the controversy and notions of realistic representations aside, The Social Network is an enjoyable film. One major criticism is the ending - something which seems rushed and comes very suddenly, with titling on-screen explaining the outcome of the court cases, which seems like a bit of a cop-out, really. Mind you, seeing Zuckerberg in the final scene adding ex-girlfriend Erica and refreshing the page over and over raises a chuckle - something I'm pretty sure some members of the audience related to. Facebook is an integral part of society, and along with being a watchable movie, The Social Network shows how one man's dorm-room project became one of the world's biggest internet sites - a pretty fascinating concept, in all.


Monday, 4 October 2010

Messages Deleted (Cowan, 2009)

In the opening scenes of Messages Deleted, the viewer is greeted by a generic horror-style sequence, a man wakes up in a room and has to save his ladyfriend from a maniac killer. Yawn, boring..thankfully, it's just a demonstration by Joel Brandt (Matthew 'that looks like the guy from Without A Paddle...oh, it IS the guy from Without A Paddle' Lillard), a screenwriting tutor delivering a class on cliches. How many times have you watched a movie and groaned at the typical 'turn your back on the 'dead' killer and he's gone', or one of the million other predictable moments that echo in seemingly every mainstream horror? Messages Deleted is a horror/thriller that picks up on these cliches, and although they can be seen being used in the film's narrative, it feels that Rob Cowan is attempting to parody them in a self-aware fashion - something he actually achieves with moderate success.

When he arrives back at his apartment, Brandt recieves two messages on his answerphone - one about his screenplay being considered for Hollywood greatness, and another from a man begging for Joel's help to stop his murder. Assuming the call to be a prank, Brandt deletes the message - but when the murdered man's corpse falls practically into his lap, things begin to spiral out of control. With another message and another murder, he realises he is at the centre of something major - and so do the police.

 After being caught 'red-handed' at a murder scene, he flees to find solace with his ex, Claire (Chiara Zanni), who ends up a victim of the psychopath on Brandt's tail. Killing of the girlfriend may fall into cliche-land, but the comments Brandt makes on this idea reinforces the sense of self-awareness. Desperate to find the killer's motive for both the murders and the focus on him, he turns to one of his screenplays, and quirky student Millie (Gina Holden). One day, a film will spell Milly with a y. Working together, they find a previous student's work he had been given to look over - but instead, he subconciously stole the plot for his own, and now the original writer is out for revenge. With Detectives Lavery (Deborah Kara Unger) and Breedlove (Serge Houde) on his tail, he needs to track down the killer before he finishes bringing the script to life.

Despite probably being best known for his comedy work, Lillard copes with a straighter leading role well, and Holden is at ease in the 'femme fatale' role. Some of the plot holes seem glaringly obvious, Claire as a character is skimmed over and pretty much used as a prop to bring the 'dead girlfriend' into play. The behaviour of the police is also questionable, bringing Brandt in for a 'lie detector' test and asking strange questions. We briefly encounter Brandt's father, Ben, who consistently tells his son to 'write what he knows'. But Brandt's backstory has a feeling of dipping in and out, bringing in information haphazardly rather than using it for character-building.

Written by Larry Cohen, responsible for other phone-based thrillers Phone Booth (Schumacher, 2002) and Cellular (Ellis, 2004), the film attempts to confront these cliches with moderate success. It's not perfect by any means and sometimes the attempt to play with predictability falls a little flat, particularly towards the end, with two twists, at least one of which you easily saw coming. However the final moments of the film, the epilogue to the story if you like, hold an ambiguous surprise. For a low-budget thriller, Messages Deleted delivers and has a well-thought out and creative story behind it, with a few shining moments of originality.


Saturday, 2 October 2010

The Ghost/The Ghost Writer (Polanski, 2010)

In Roman Polanski's adaptation of Robert Harris' novel of the same name, Ewan McGregor stars as an unnamed ghostwriter ('the Ghost') roped in to complete the memoirs of former Prime Minister Adam Lang (Pierce Brosnan), after his previous writer died under what unravel to be mysterious circumstances.When Lang is accused of participation in war-crime activity, the Ghost finds himself knee-deep in a political furore. As the Ghost weaves himself deeper into the former PM's life, he finds himself up to his neck in scandal, and begins to unwittingly retrace his predecessor's steps in a search for the truth. 

On accepting his new writing job, the Ghost is whisked away to a secluded island where the former PM has made his home with wife Ruth (Olivia Williams), family and a team of employees, including Amelia Bly, played by Kim 'Samantha from Sex and the City' Cattrall. Although she doesn't give an outstanding or memorable performance, proves there's more to her career than just talking about men's dangly bits. McGregor shines as the Ghost, showing off a slightly cocky demeanour and helpings of wit in a very British, self-deprecating manner. Throughout his career, he's shown his chops as an actor, from drug-addled in Trainspotting, a lovey-dovey poet in Moulin Rouge, to a mature, layered performance in The Ghost. With such versatility and stunning performances like this, McGregor could well be one of Britain's most talented male stars. And on the subject of Brit stars, the criminally-underrated Olivia Williams shows both strength and vulnerability perfectly as Ruth.

One similar film immediately sprung to mind with a similar feel to The Ghost, and that was Scorcese's Shutter Island, released earlier this year. Although the two films take very different narrative directions, both have noir-ish elements, and build tension slowly with a sense of menace - an area in which Polanski has often demonstrated his expertise. The landscape of the island is more reminiscent a remote isle off the coast of Scotland than a few hours drive from the bustle of New York City, creating an unnerving sense of isolation.

Although the film fits the genre of 'political thriller', the politics aren't over-complicated, as the narrative relates more to the detective-like antics of the Ghost than the issues themselves. As McGregors character states at the very beginning, he knows nothing about politics - and a similarly small amount of political understanding is needed to still enjoy this film. At around the two hour mark, it's not simply a 'casual viewing' movie, and to truly feel the tension that is constantly hanging in the air, it needs a bit of concentration and engagement. So if you're looking for a fast-paced, action packed thrill ride, this won't be the DVD to grab from the Blockbuster shelf. But for those who like their thrillers suspenseful and mysterious, don't miss out on one of this year's underrated gems.


Saturday, 25 September 2010


Apologies for my lack of posting, that is. I have currently been teleported back to the Victorian era, where there is no internet, and will be in such era until the 30th September, with new writings and ramblings :)

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

The Twilight Saga: Eclipse (Slade, 2010)

I'll admit now, I'm certainly no 'Twi-hard' - I thought the first film was dreadful, and can't stand the whole attitude that comes with the crazy Twilight fans. Robert Pattinson is an actor, Edward Cullen is a character - and a pretty horrific one at that. Anyone who fails to observe this fact is a moron of supreme proportions in my eyes, and hopefully the eyes of anyone with half a grain of sanity. The whole fan culture of Twilight baffles me, as it seems to be everywhere, and if I see one more 'Team Edward' t-shirt, I might have to puke on it.

But now that's out of the way,  I'm going to put aside any feelings I have towards the whole phenomenon of Twilight, and base this review on the film itself. Hopefully this one will generate some discussion, as it certainly splits opinion.

In the opening scenes, we see new character, Riley Biers (Xavier Samuel), leaving a bar on a conveniently dramatic rainy night, where he is attacked by an unknown creature. It turns out later in the movie that it was Victoria (Bryce Dallas Howard), planning to turn him into one of the fanged ones. Her purpose is to raise an army of 'newborns' - freshly converted vampires, to set upon the Cullens and to get to Bella (Kristen Stewart), seeking vengeance against Edward (Robert Pattinson...see...character, actor..) for killing her lover, James.

After this quite exciting opening, we've got some very pretty shots of countryside and trees and things accompanied by a Bella voiceover of some poem about fire and ice and stuff. Edward and Bella are sitting in their 'romantic moments' field when Edward brings up the subject of marriage - something Bella disagrees with at her young age. But she wants Edward to 'turn' her - and marriage is his compromise. His old-fashioned nature is something that pops up throughout the film, particularly in an 'almost-sex' scene, where he talks some babble about 'courting' and 'stealing a kiss'.

Thankfully, as opposed to in previous films, Bella seems to have grown into a more likeable character in Eclipse. Instead of being a mardy loner, she socialises and seems to mope about a lot less. Edward is being his usual possessive self, trying to keep his grip on Bella, but shows that she's no longer willing to pander to him, demonstrated by her jumping on the back of Jacob's motorbike, despite Edward's attempts to prevent her from seeing him.Unfortunately, in the end she agrees to do the 'life' things his way - marriage, sexytimes THEN becoming a vampire. Siiigh. Despite moves forward, the Bella character still seems to be there for 'normal' girls to be given the hope that they too can find someone as 'perfect' as Edward. A prime example of unrealistic romance films.

A much better choice from where I'm standing is friend, werewolf and Edward's love rival, Jacob Black (Taylor Lautner). As with his appearance in New Moon, he spends plenty of time without a shirt on (something I quite enjoyed...), prompting a  rare moment of humour from Edward - 'does he OWN a shirt?'. His attempts to win Bella round are futile, and her seeming inability to let him down gently is frustrating.

Although Edward and Bella's relationship features centrally to the saga, Eclipse thankfully gives us more from the Cullens - who are much stronger and interesting characters. Although brief, insights into Rosalie (Nikki Reed) and Jasper (Jackson Rathbone) are welcomed. The former gives her story of being raped and left to die, but becoming a vampire and taking revenge, the latter his tales of training newborns to fight, but being 'saved' by Alice Cullen (Ashley Greene). Alice has the power to see visions of the future, and is therefore invaluable to the group - although Victoria manages to 'hide' behind the newborns to prevent Alice having full knowledge of her plans. This exploration of the characters surrounding the central love story colours the film and is something I'd actually have liked to see even more of.

The fight between the 'newborns' and the strange Cullen-werewolves alliance is actually well choreographed and exciting - the one thing about the earlier Twilight films I did enjoy were the more action-based scenes. If there were more of these, and less whining in meadows, perhaps the films would have been more appealing. The script at times seems is rather cringeworthy - although I've never read the book series, I can imagine much of the writing being down these lines.

Despite the mysogynistic undertones of the story, pushing the romance aside Eclipse is actually not a bad film. Visually, it delivers, with a beautiful setting and some well-thought out sequences. It's not brilliant, has a very annoying central character in Edward, and it won't be accepted by the film snobs of the world. But, for mainstream 'romance' drama, it delivers a watchable two hours.


Monday, 6 September 2010

September's Big Tellyvisual Round Up - Across The Pond.

Okay, I am officially excited. This month, not one, not two, but FOUR of my favourite US shows start new seasons. So I expect my University workload to be greatly lessened - worrying, considering this is my third year and I should really be concentrating on essays instead of show songs, badass vampires, exhumations and monster-fighting. Not all in one show, I hasten to add. But that would be a damn awesome show...

Let's kick off with a series that divides opinion - Glee. And I absolutely love it in all its cheesy, too-bright jazz hands glory. Season 2 starts with a new year, and some new characters, including pop star Charice (no, I've never heard of her either. Finn and Rachel are still going strong, although Puck is being his usual self and causing mischief. Tina is apparently dating Mike Chang, the one who dances but doesn't speak after giving Artie the push (sob!). And the new man in Emma's life, played by John Stamos drops in to throw a spanner in the 'Wemma' works. Yeah, I hate those 'couple names' too.

The new season premieres in just two weeks on Tuesday 21st, and here is a lovelywonderful promo introduced by none other than Emily Deschanel and Tamara Taylor from Bones!

Speaking of Bones, the premiere of Season Six will be with us very soon too. After the (in my view, a little underwhelming) end of Season 5, we'll catch up with the characters seven months on. They've all been living their seperate lives doing their own things, and we get to see how the team have changed individually - and what this does to the group dynamic. There's little in the way of spoilers floating around, they seem to be keeping a lot to their chests, and no promo yet, but the new series hits on Thursday 17th.

Next up is another series going into its second season, The Vampire Diaries. Don't worry, no sparkly emo fangsters in sight. Based on a series of books by L.J Smith, Elena Gilbert has her life turned upside down by the arrival in town of the Salvatore brothers, Stefan and Damon (the latter played by Ian Somerhalder aka Boone from Lost) - who are very, very pretty for members of the undead. The end of the first season left us on a cliffhanger with Katherine (vampire scarylady and ex-lover of both brothers and a spitting-image ancestor of Elena) in Elena's house. The second season looks to pick up from here, with a promo video which features some new scenes (and annoyingly, quite a few from the last season. I KNOW WHAT HAPPENED, NOW I WANT TO SEE WHAT HAPPENS NEXT!)

Season 2 premieres Thursday 9th September.

And this leads me on to the new season I'm most excited about, oh yes, SUPERNATURAL IS BACK!! Unfortunately the promo vid has no new stuff (not impressed, CW), however, the end of S5 revealed Sam to have copied his bigbro and made his way out of Hell. Hopefully to do more than just stand gazing in windows and making streetlamps die.

Supernatural producers have always been pretty hush-hush when it comes to spoilers, however, here are some tidbits. Mischa Collins will be back as Castiel - although what he'll do now the angels have retired from Luciferduty is unknown - does heaven provide JSA for unemployed Lord's messengers? Whatever the case, we're told that Castiel will be 'different'. Samuel Campbell, Sam and Dean's grandpa is set to return - despite the fact he's quite long dead. And Dean's ladyfriend Lisa will be a recurring character, in the first half of the season at least

Anyway, here's the (coughcop-outcough) promo CW currently have up on their site. With the first episode entitled 'Exile on Main Street', bring on Friday 24th, please.

And I'll end this on a quote that's made me a little happy in the pants, from this article...
'We're pretty sure one change won't escape our attention: "I'm naked a lot more," Padalecki says.'
Thank you TV God.

Sunday, 5 September 2010

Piranha 3D (Aja, 2010)

During Spring Break, thousands of kids flock into town to party at Lake Victoria, with the bikini brigade out in force and putting on a show. But this year a new crowd are taking over the water - and it's not just the boobies they're after. When a tremor hits, a secret lake opens up underneath Victoria, releasing the long-extinct piranhas and unleashing chaos upon the festivities.

Pirahna 3D could be described as 'a remake of a remake', with the original released in 1978 and a remake in 1995. However, whereas the 1995 version was very much the same as the original Piranha, Aja has taken the plot and given it an update - with the crew of 'Wild Wild Girls' hitting the lake to film some hot lady action. Yes, really. Jake (Steven R. McQueen) does a bunk on babysitting to take any teenage boy's dream job as the crew's location scout, along with his crush, Kelly (Jessica Szohr). As the camera rolls, the group are unaware what's brewing in the depths of Lake Victoria. Meanwhile, his mother, local Sheriff Julie Forester (Elisabeth Shue) teams up with seismologist Novak Radzinsky (Adam Scott) to save the town's partiers from becoming fish food.

The cast is a generally strong ensemble, with a mixture of lesser-known and established actors - including a cameo from noted horror director Eli Roth. The appearance of Richard Dreyfuss as fisherman is a nice little homage to his role in Jaws - a film which the original Piranha parodied, and this can be seen clearly in today's offering. The film also features Blighty's very own Kelly Brook, who spends much of her screen time in no more than swimwear, which likely explains the high percentage of males in the cinema. Her acting leaves much to be desired - but really, does anyone care when she's frolicking butt naked in the sea with another woman?

Not being particularly a 3D fangirl, I wasn't expecting it to add that much to the film, but I was pleased to be mistaken. The horror genre is one in which the 3D works well - when used right, at least. Rather than an over-the-top 'LOOK! 3D!' display, it was used to complement the visuals and give the movie a new level of depth. This being said, there were choice moments where the effect was emphasized - especially one that might make the males wince - but they were generally well thought out and visually appealing. On the subject of visually appealing, there's plenty of female flesh on show for 'the lads', in glorious three-dimensional form .

Another aspect greatly benefitting from the 3D was the gore - something there was definitely no shortage of, with imaginative deaths left, right and centre. When the beach partiers come under attack, the SFX team shine with realistic-looking severed limbs and dyed-red water. Unlike some films, the bloodbath is in context, so it didn't just feel like gore for gore's sake.

Piranha 3D is a fast paced and highly enjoyable horror with a sense of humour, mixing old-style horror and panic scenarios with an attitude of tongue-in-cheek and not taking itself too seriously. The 3D aspect definitely adds to the experience, but even without it, this would still be a watchable, fun-filled movie.

Monday, 30 August 2010

Good Shit off of the Internet, Part 1


So currently, I barely have the time to watch a film, let alone write a review. But one thing I will always find time for is finding good shit on the internet. I'd like to thank the wonderful Front Magazine for leading me to these finds. I have therefore named this section 'Good Shit off of the Internet, Part 1'. There might never be a 'Part 2', but it makes it sound better.

Want these. Unfortunately, I can only find them sold in the US/Canada, here. And they're ridiculously expensive. Still. Wicked awesome.

NEWSFLASH! They are indeed available in the UK, right here. Good old Firebox. However, with a price tag of £24.99, I might just stick to Morrisons Value...

I also stumbled upon some snazzy movie mashup posters, the whole lot can be found here.

/cop-out instead of real post. I hope it's been enjoyable and wasted a few minutes of a boring day.

Sunday, 22 August 2010

2001 Maniacs: Field Of Screams (Sullivan, 2010)

'No reason vengeance can't be fun...'

Director Tim Sullivan presents us with this follow up to 2005's horror comedy 2001 Maniacs, where a group of redneck Southerners are dead set on avenging their ancestors killed in the Civil War by massacring 2001 Northern Yankees. Opening the film, for those who have not seen Sullivan's previous offering, is an introduction to the maniacs - from their leader, Mayor Buckman (Bill Moseley), to the insanely eccentric Granny Boone (Lin Shaye). A comic book style narration sets the scene, then we see the group put a local man in a barrel lined with spikes - then send him for a ride. If there's one thing learnt quickly about these crazies, it's that torture and death is a spectator sport.

Meanwhile, two heiress sisters and their film crew are filming reality show 'Road Rascals'. Stereotypes are abound here, and an obvious parody of socialites Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie can be seen in party girls Rome (Katy Marie Johnson) and Tina (Asa Hope) Sheraton. Although obviously the roles revolve around the girls being ditzy, dumb and useless, their acting is unbearable at points - and the reliance upon 'stupid blonde' gags wears thin. Travelling along with the girls are their boyfriends K-Jay (Jordan Yale) and Falcon (Trevor Wright) - the former a sexually charged red-blooded male, and the latter a closet gay, again provoking some predictable gags.

Thankfully, the Confederate cast make up for the generic, bland Road Rascals crew - particularly Granny Boone, who maniacally chops chickens on camera and incestually seduces Mayor Buckman. When the crew stumble upon the travelling jamboree, they are bemused by the strange inhabitants, but producer Val (Andrea Leon) sees the dollar signs light up in the opportunity.

If gratituous nudity is what gets you going in a movie, there's plenty to ogle - with the Northern heiresses naturally spending their time scantily clad and getting their tits out in a pool, and the Southern girls in corsets and regularly eating face. The gore is textbook low-budget, with the classic splatter-effect bloodshed not quite looking realistic enough, and an amusingly graphic electrocution scene. Indeed, the comical moments arise from the deaths themselves, rather than the cheap gags involving screwing a stuffed sheep. The carnival variety show proves peculiar and vaguely entertaining, with another pop-culture nod by turning the singing Granny Boone and jamboree girls into music video stars.

For a low-budget horror, 2001 Maniacs: Field of Screams ticks all the boxes - but boxes ticked unfortunately does not a good movie make. It wasn't a hideous film to watch, however the generic blandness made it unimpressively dull. The redeeming comical insanity of the maniacs stops the film from being truly awful, but generally the movie is unimaginative and repetitive - not at all scary, and not all that funny.


Saturday, 21 August 2010

Adventureland (Mottola, 2009)

In Adventureland, directed by 2007 hit Superbad's Greg Mottola, James Brennan (played by Jesse Eisenberg, another graduate from the Michael Cera school of gawkiness)'s plans to travel Europe fall apart, and he is forced to get a summer job at Adventureland, a slightly run down, tacky amusement park. Reluctantly arriving at the park, he is immediately thrown into work by eccentric park management team Bobby (Bill Hader, sporting a fantastic eighties 'tache) and Paulette (Kristen Wiig), and befriends super-geeky Joel (Martin Starr) and quirky Em (Kristen Stewart). 

Friday, 20 August 2010

The Ricky Gervais Show - The Complete First Series (2010)

Ricky Gervais has always split my opinion - I wasn't a fan of The Office, although I found Extras slightly more watchable. However, on a long car journey to Birmingham with some friends I discovered the Ricky Gervais Show podcasts. The insanely random conversations that the three of them have remind me of the strange conversations I often have with my friends – wonderfully entertaining yet quintessentially pointless.

Following the success of these podcasts, which earned them a spot in the Guinness Book of Records for the most downloaded podcasts, the trio released their ramblings onto the DVD world, coupled with animated characters, which bear a stylistic resemblance to the Flintstones. Seth McFarlane, creator of infamous cartoon comedy Family Guy branded the show ‘the best animation [he has] ever seen’. The show is set in a cartoon recording studio, interjected with illustrations of their ramblings – often abstract, so very much suited to the tone of the show. A particular highlight is the ‘Monkey News’ feature, introduced by cartoon-Gervais pulling his shirt off and turning into a chimpanzee.