Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Dipping My Toes in Horror: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Poltergeist

Honestly, this month has gone on forever. It seems like years ago that I saw The Cabin in the Woods and The Evil Dead, and a whole lot of the other horror films I caught up with this October. I'm finishing the month off with an unintentional Tobe Hooper double-feature: his 1974 gorefest The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and his 1982 ghost story Poltergeist. Then we'll get to my overview of the month, and what's in store for next month. (just a note: my monthly review will be up tomorrow because, come on, I had to do a horror film post on Halloween!)

I have filed The Texas Chainsaw Massacre away into the pile of films that I don't ever want to think about again. And hey, that's a pretty select few. Maybe that's because I watched it late on a Friday night, when I was practically drunk from sleep-deprivation (yes, I'm a teenager). Or maybe because wholey mother of crap, what the hell was going on in this movie.

Chainsaws terrify me.

I mean, I know that I've been spending this entire series going on about how witches terrify me, and black-and-white terrifies me, and pumpkins terrify me...well, I gotta say, chainsaws take the cake. Honestly, I was terrified of getting my two arm casts off because of the chainsaw they use. And then I saw this movie, and now I can't listen to that grating sound without hearing "death death death".

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Tuesday Links and Other Stuff #38

What I'm watching tonight...

First of all, I come with an apology: I haven't been around an awful lot lately. I managed to get a freaking virus on Sunday night, of all nights, and I couldn't make it to the computer yesterday. The other two days I had off last week were just me being lazy. Seriously, it isn't good. Anyway, because of that virus, I'm taking it easy on the movies tonight, with only The Amazing Spider-Man to keep me company for the night. I do hope to be watching Attack the Block (finally it's coming out in NZ, after 50 billion years) tomorrow night. And then we're heading into November, which means The Dark Knight Rises trailer will be at work making everything better in my life!!!!!

Video of the week...

I haven't done one of these links posts in ages so I haven't had a chance to just highlight how awesome the Zero Dark Thirty official trailer is. It has so much Jessica Chastain (but not so much of her speaking). New most anticipated film for 2013 (since it is only getting a small release in 2012 to be eligible for Oscar stuffs)? I think so.

Everyone has to stop what they're doing, because Tyler is back blogging at Southern Vision. Plus, his return to blogging is centred on the "Directorial Perfection" of Hunger

Alex takes a look at the career of writer/director/actor Edward Burns, who I've always wanted to see more of. Such a great guide on the guy!

Ryan ponders over the power of star ratings. It is a well-worn debate, but he definitely brings some ideas to the table.

Andy got to interview Paul Thomas Anderson (needless to say, I'm VERY jealous), and here is the outcome. PTA sounds like a very interesting guy.

Earlier this year I went and saw a one-man play called Private Peaceful, which was a fantastic experience. Now there's a movie out based on the novel by Michael Morpurgo (with more than one person acting it out), and Diana got to see it.

Anna has a review of the very scary Freaks. Seriously, I don't think I could ever stomach that film again.

Nikhat got to check out Skyfall before most of us, and she loved it. I can feel the Daniel Craig crush coming back...

Love a bit of Hollywood Memorabilia? I know I do. Here's a comprehensive site filled with all sorts.

Final word...
Who is one director you'd really like to interview?

Sunday, October 28, 2012

If Movie Titles Laid Everything Out For Ya...Part II

Last month, I did a wee post that showed what it would be like if titles were a little more...straight-forward. Just like Salmon Fishing in the Yemen and Man on a Ledge. Because these days, people are so stingy with their money that they need to know exactly what they're in for straight from looking at the front cover. Some people use Photoshop to do this, but I'm using Photoshop to give them the new titles they need. And here they are:

Because Joss Whedon knows how to do things that you don't.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Is It Margaret You Mourn For?

Margaret (2011) / US / Out on DVD now / Written and directed by Kenneth Lonergan / Starring Anna Paquin, J. Smith-Cameron, Mark Ruffalo, Jeannie Berlin, Jean Reno, Allison Janney, Kieran Culkin, Matt Damon, Matthew Broderick / 178 mins

Some movies are just damn unlucky. Margaret happens to be one of those. By now, you should all know the story - the film was made around seven years ago, but was stuck in production because the producers wouldn't allow Kenneth Lonergan's passion project exceed 150 minutes. Lonergan insisted that it couldn't be that short, which eventuated in a couple of lawsuits, along with the film being shelved. Martin Scorsese and his trusty editor Thelma Schoonmaker came along and cut the film down to 150 minutes, which Lonergan approved of, and the film was on its way to a limited release in the US at the end of last year. Screeners were sent out to the Academy voters, but to no avail - Margaret passed without too much attention, trickled its way into international distributor's laps, and wound up on DVD, complete with the three hour extended cut. Which is what I watched, so in a way, I was kinda seeing Kenneth Lonergan's passion project just as he intended for it to be. But even then, it felt like this wasn't the masterpiece he wanted it to be - whether that be because his ideas were never fully realised, or three hours just wasn't enough to say everything that he wanted to say.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Dipping My Toes in Horror: The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari and Halloween

Wow, we're a week out from Halloween. I really wish we celebrated this holiday more in NZ, because I love dressing up and stuff. Since it is on a Wednesday this year, I suppose we won't be dressing up at work for the weekend. Which is a damn shame. However, in the lead up to Halloween, I have had plenty to keep my scary senses warm. The latest dosages of scares have come from 1920 silent film The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (I'm still expanding those horror horizons...) and 1978 slasher flick Halloween. Here's how they worked out for me:

I have a confession: things generally scare me more if they're in black-and-white. Black-and-white can hide so much clarity, which makes things quite vague, which in turn makes things terrifying. Add in some jerky camera movements and the old-school techniques from the 1920s, and my paranoia scale is sure to go up a few levels. The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari is a pioneering movie: it is said to have introduced the "twist ending" to cinema, it uses a unique expressionist style, the sets are abstract paintings set onto canvases. Even though it was made 98 years ago, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari scares with its unforgiving atmosphere. The sets may not display the most detail or go into many dimensions, but the sheer obviousness of it gives the film a surreal edge, fitting with the major themes of the movie. The film is based around Dr. Caligari (Werner Krauss), who keeps a near-silent sleep-walker, Cesare (Conrad Veidt) in a cabinet, and uses him as a sideshow attraction. Just like Nosferatu two years later, Cesare was brought to terrifying life (or lack of life, as it were) by make-up trickery that doesn't seem to work as well these days. Cesare, with his dark eyes, dark hair and jerky movements, is one of the scariest figures I've seen on film. Almost as scary as dear old Nosferatu. No-one could make a scary figure like these guys did back in those days. Because these days, we're all about the 'scary' figures that you can't see (I'm looking at you, Paranormal Activity).

Monday, October 22, 2012

Prometheus...Stevee's Home Musical Style

Much has already been said about Prometheus, so I didn't know how I could approach letting my opinions on the film be known. I realised that I wanted to talk the film out instead of writing about it, because my thoughts on the film are extremely passionate and wayward. That lead to this idea that I came up with earlier in the day: there are so many songs around that could fit some of the scenes in Prometheus. And then I thought, what if it was a musical? So what we have here is a video where I sing you some of the songs I remixed to the movie. Yes, I am singing, and sorry, my voice is pretty awful. I couldn't just write these done, or simply say them...I had to put them to a tune. My facials are pretty spastic, too, but I'm sure you'll be okay with that. In case you were wondering, this is actually how I am every day. (sorry for the smallness of it...something got stuffed up in the upload and I can't be bothered changing it)

Just for the record, this is the rating I'd give Prometheus:

What do you think of Prometheus being a musical? What songs would you put in it?

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Cinematic Paradox Turns Three!

This day three years ago, I started this blog. To be honest, I don't remember much of that day. All I know is that things have changed a lot since then. In fact, things have changed in the past 24 hours. As you can probably see, the design has been changed (I hope you like it - please lemme know what you think!). I haven't completely finished it yet, as I have a few images to tweak on my sidebar. I also changed the URL to something a little more professional and fitting for a blog that is three years old. Please please please change any URL's you have in your blogroll, I'll love you for it! Along with that, I have updated my Top 100, and given them a very swanky look. I hope you like it!

I've been getting very nostalgic about this birthday, mainly because it has been extremely hard to reach this one. I've lost my mojo a fair bit this year, which was hard to get through, but I managed to work through it. I mean, I feel so lonely down here in NZ. I see all of these bloggers around me going to press screenings, giving away passes to movies, interviewing people, getting mentioned on posters. Andy Buckle gets to interview Paul Thomas Anderson for heavens sake! I have literally nothing to offer you apart from my sterling wit. But at least I have the support of some excellent people. I'm not gonna waste much time here, but here are the people in the blogging world who I love and I'll hope that you'll love em too...if you don't already!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

My Movie Biography: Where It's At Now in 2012

(2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011) Well, we're heading into the home stretch now. Tomorrow is the big day. Just to let you know, you will probably have trouble visiting the site for a while. Don't worry, (fingers crossed) everything goes fine and I'll be back up and running this time tomorrow. Hope to see you there!  Anyway, 2012 in my movie biography...

  • By some small coincidence, all of the movies I got at one time from Fatso were by Roman Polanski. So I started off the year with Chinatown, Repulsion and Rosemary's Baby. That
  • I saw The Muppets and The Adventures of Tintin on the same day. I felt so awkward being this 16 year old all alone in cinemas filled with children. Funnily enough, I preferred Tintin a lot more, but now The Muppets is pretty much my go-to movie when I want to feel better about life.
  • I finally got out of NZ! My father and I went to Melbourne, Australia for a week and that was exciting. I was pretty excited for the plane trip, because Drive was playing on the plane and I hadn't seen it because it was an R18. I did really like it when I saw it, but I completely forgot about the fact that it was censored, so I was left wondering what was so R18 about it. Then I looked it up on the internet and apparently there were 70 swearwords in it, but I hadn't heard any of them. When I got the film on DVD, I finally embraced it and it became my second favourite movie of 2011. While I was in Melbourne I bought a crapload of movies because they had everything that I'd been looking for. And there's like, five JB Hi-Fi's in the city, so I was in heaven. Also heavenly was the Pancake Parlour, but that's another story. I also went to the cinemas a fair bit because I wanted to escape the heat. I only really wanted to see The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, because I thought it was going to be an R18 in NZ and it was only an MA15+ in Australia. I was so excited to be all rebellious. Then I got back to NZ and I found out that it was only an R16. Which was somewhat disappointing. I also saw The Descendants and Hugo just because I could. I really miss Melbourne. It was such a nice place. One day I hope to go back.
  • While I wasn't as excited for the Oscars as much as I was last year (I blame the fact that I hadn't watched many of the movies), I still thought it was a good idea to wake up at 3am and watch the Oscar nominations for fun. It wasn't all that fun until I saw that Rooney Mara got nominated, in which case I let out this weird squeal that woke up everyone in the house. I stayed up until at least 4.30am ranting with people on Facebook about them. Which probably wasn't the best idea, because once the morning hit we were going to Palmerston North to watch War Horse. It didn't affect the experience. I still spent the entire film crying my eyes out. And when I say the "entire film", I mean the entire bloody thing. As soon as I saw that horse I was in tears.

Friday, October 19, 2012

My Movie Biography: 2011 and How I Came to Love Jessica Chastain

(2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010) 2011. The bestest year ever. Well, in my life so far, but it is not like I have that many years to compare it to. It is kinda hard to write about a year so close to this one, but lemme tell ya, tomorrow is going to be even harder. Anyway, hope you're enjoying the series, and mark your calendars for Sunday. Big things are going to be happening!

  • I went down to Wellington for a week with my best bud. It was fun. We went to the cinemas like, four times. I usually never go to the cinemas more than three times on my holidays (I know it is really bad, but hey, I'm in a big city, so how can I refuse that?) We went and saw Tron: Legacy (which we didn't really like), The Social Network (because somehow it was still in cinemas), Morning Glory and Unstoppable. It was so fun!
  • One of the worst experiences I've ever had was watching Eat Pray Love when it was excruciatingly hot. That movie is by no means short. And it just does not stop. Ever. Okay it does, but it literally felt like I'd missed Christmas by the time it ended. 
  • I get very nostalgic over that summer because I spent the entire thing to the tunes of The Social Network's soundtrack. Sometimes I just listen to 'Painted Sun in Abstract' and it takes me back to those happy times. And then I look outside and it has just started hailing for the fifth time (we are supposed to be in spring).
  • That awards season was crazy. It was the first year I really got into it, even managing to watch all of the Best Picture nominees before the show. My love for certain movies changed so much during this awards season. First of all, I kinda resented The Social Network for being more popular than Inception. But what did I really expect? I thought that The Social Network was just gonna sail through and win everything. Then The King's Speech won the PGA. Everyone was now like "The King's Speech for Best Picture!" So I promptly realised that Inception wasn't going to win anything, I went and saw The King's Speech and thought it was pretty average, and then I became team The Social Network. From there on I became the biggest raging The Social Network fan on the planet. Every time I heard The King's Speech mentioned, I would fake gagging reflexes. I knew it was well over when The King's Speech won the SAG, but I refused to let go of the hope that The Social Network might take that award home. My friends and I gathered around the TV and watched The King's Speech win Best Picture. I may have cried.
    Those Oscars tore apart my life, man. Which I realise is pretty silly considering everyone in the blogging world hates the Oscars (seriously, they're still my favourite part of the year). Now I can tolerate The King's Speech, even though I still feel those twangs of pain whenever I hear it mentioned. As I said last night, I still can't decide between Inception and The Social Network being my favourite film of 2010. Ah, to look at things with a clear head...

Thursday, October 18, 2012

My Movie Biography: 2010 - The Year of Christopher Nolan

(2006, 2007, 2008, 2009) 2010 was such a messed up year. I'm not sure why, but I'm pretty sure I changed my personality about 5000 times, and everyone else changed 5000 times, too. After that year, I kinda swore not to let much bother me, and just take everything a little less seriously. It seems to be working out so far. Anyway, 2010 as it was in movies:

  • I went on my first actual plane ride! I went down to Christchurch, which as you know, was left devastated by two earthquakes which occurred late in 2010 and early in 2011. It was my absolute favourite place in New Zealand, mainly because of this DVD store they had there called "Alice in Videoland". Seriously, that place was magical. There were like, all of these themed room for the DVDs. Like, the horror/sci-fi room was all dark and scary. They had so many classic DVDs. The whole place was seriously like another world...kinda like how I imagine heaven. Plus, I'm pretty sure they had every DVD known to man. Yes, there's a huge difference between that DVD store and our DVD store. Unfortunately, it was damaged during the earthquake, but earlier this year it relocated and opened with an arthouse cinema. I'm definitely going down there as soon as I can afford it.
  • I saw Avatar. I'm sure that was supposed to be one of those life-changing things, but it really wasn't. I'm no Avatar hater, but I'm pretty sure I was more excited over this special Avatar cup I got at the cinemas. Sadly, that cup has disappeared. 
  • Say what you want about The Hurt Locker, but Kathryn Bigelow winning that Oscar for Best Director actually changed my life. Up until that moment, I had always wanted to be an actress. But when Kathryn Bigelow won that award, I realised how few female directors there were. And I thought, "why do something everyone else is doing? Let's be a director!" I still hold on to that stupid dream now, but don't expect me to be the next Bigelow.
  • I did happen to win an Oscar that year. Okay, not a real one. I was a part of our school production and I won an "Oscar" for being the best performer in our group. Is this foreshadowing? 

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Dipping My Toes in Horror: The Blair Witch Project and Sweeney Todd

Giving you a break from the literal stories of my life, it is time to dip my toes into horror some more. The two films I have got on tap tonight are a couple which I've always been meaning to see, but have never quite got around to it. They've always been there, but I've just never bothered to pick them up. You may not see Sweeney Todd as a quintessential horror film. Mind you, it isn't a quintessential musical, either. I've been telling everyone that I was going to see it for ages, but when it stared back at me on that horror shelf, I saw that there was no time like the present. Same goes for The Blair Witch Project. So let's get to it!

So, if I'm getting my stories straight, The Blair Witch Project started this whole found footage phenomenon. I'm not big on that phenomenon, especially because now everyone is trying their hand at it and it is losing its sheen. Paranormal Activity was okay, but Paranormal Activity 2 was one of the more boring films I've ever seen. It was kinda just an excuse to watch surveillance footage for ages and then we get some people getting dragged around for like, five seconds. And that's the template that most of these found footage films follow. The Blair Witch Project, however, was quite effective even though it had so little going on. I guess it just kinda taps into your fears - and that fear happens to be getting lost in the woods. Even if there wasn't some creepy witchcraft stuff going on, then I would still be terrified. Mainly because I'd be frustrated beyond all recognition. That's where The Blair Witch Project wins over Paranormal Activity - these people are trapped in this foreign land with no hope of getting out, whereas the people in Paranormal Activity are within the confines of their own home. There's just that extra air of unpredictability about the whole thing.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

My Movie Biography: Paul Newman, Leonardo DiCaprio and Changes in 2009

(2006, 2007, 2008) Wow, 2009. Seems like just yesterday that 2009 happened. I'm not kidding. I blame this on high school. High school is so short that everything goes really fast. Sometimes I feel like I started just yesterday, but then I realise that I'm one year out from finishing. It is quite scary. Anyway, 2009:

  • The first day of 2009 was extremely good. Why? Because I saw Cat on a Hot Tin Roof for the first time. And that introduced me to the hotness that was Paul Newman. Now, I was really sad when he died in 2008, but at that point, I wasn't really aware of who he was. When I saw Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, I literally saw the most perfect looking man who ever lived. Not to mention that his performance is this huge melting pot of angst, masculinity on the edge and a general distaste in living. The way he reacts with Maggie is so fascinating to watch. You know how those Tumblr people like to say that a certain good looking person made their "ovaries explode"? I know it is a bit extreme, and I don't think it really happened, but that's exactly how I felt when I saw Paul Newman in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. Needless to say, I was in love with him for most of that year. Even so much so that my mother went halves with me on this Paul Newman boxset...which to this day I've only watched two out of the five films. I should really get going on the rest. 
  • Ah yeah, high school happened. I honestly don't remember too much of the early days, although I soon realised that high school was better than primary. What was pretty awesome, though, was that my tutor group (you may know that as a form room or homeroom or something like that) was in the Drama room. I was determined to make Drama my favourite subject since at that time I wanted to be an actress, so having my tutor group in Drama was just meant to be. When you're year nine, though, you have little seven week modules of all of the subjects (excluding the core ones like English, Maths, Science and Social Studies, which you had to take), so in the future you'd know which ones you'll be interested in taking. I didn't get to take Drama until the very end of the year, which was a bummer. And it was only seven weeks. I have taken Drama ever since, though, and it is my favourite subject. I did take Speech and Drama, though, which was an extra class kinda thing. I did a speech on classic movies (I was oh so predictable in those days) and a monologue as a mother who has just lost her son. I managed to get a Merit, which is the second highest grade. Back in those days, I used to be such a Drama freak.
  • Continuing on my quest to be an actress, I took part in the local production of Grease. Those were the best days of my life. Even though I was just part of the chorus, it was so fun to dress up and sing and dance and stuff. I did love being up on stage and stuff. Especially because it was one of the biggest hit shows that Dannevirke ever had.

Monday, October 15, 2012

My Movie Biography: The Dark Knight Changed Everything in 2008

(2006, 2007) I also get really sad and nostalgic when I think about 2008. This was my last year of primary school, so naturally, it was nice to be the "big fish" at school. And it was just a really nice year. Well, most of the time. I actually started growing up this year...even though I went through 2006 and 2007 thinking "YES. I AM AS MATURE AS I'LL EVER BE." Lol. I may as well put this in bullet-points because there's just so much to recall...

  • The year started out really bad. Heath Ledger passed away. This was one of those moments where I remember exactly where I was when I found out. I was sitting at the computer at lunchtime listening to the midday news. They said something about how news was just breaking about the passing of "young actor Heath Ledger". It didn't really register in my head, because I thought he was just mixing up Heath Ledger's name with some other news story. I searched it up on the internet, and there it was. I was so distraught - it was probably one of the first deaths of a famous person that truly shocked me right through to the core. To this day it hasn't really sunk in that he's gone, but the world lost a truly gifted actor that day.
  • Those holidays I saw some really cool movies that stick with me right up to this day. Waitress was one of them - I have a thing of watching that film when I'm sick. Which wasn't a good idea because I'd always get so hungry from it. Those pies looked so good. Enchanted was another one, which introduced me to Amy Adams and boosted my love for James Marsden.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

My Movie Biography: Extreme Obsessions and My "Favourite Directors" in 2007

So after telling (some of you) all about 2006, I'll move onto 2007 as we edge closer to my third blog birthday. Hopefully you enjoy this entry...

2007 was definitely a blossoming year for movies and I. Here are the most exciting things that happened:

  • After going through that rough patch with Jake and Heath, I fell in love with Daniel Craig, all because that poster of Casino Royale was pretty hot. Once I was helping out at a horse show, and when I got bored I would get cinema showing times texted to me because they had Casino Royale in them. I mean, that was true love. I didn't see Casino Royale until three months after, but I did love it. I even bought the book, just because it had Daniel Craig on the front. 
  • I bought my first Empire magazine issue. It had Lord of the Rings on the front. I read that issue five hundred times. It is just about in tatters. Now I have over five years worth of issues of the magazine.
  • I saw my first R16. Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho. I used to be the biggest advocate for not watching movies underage. People would tell me about how they watched R16s and then I'd give them a huge lecture about how they shouldn't have watched those movies because they were too young and that is against the law. Had my mother not insisted that we watch Psycho, then I probably wouldn't have seen any R16s until I was 16.
  • I really loved that film, though. She showed me The Birds, and I loved that one just the same. Alfred Hitchcock became my first favourite director. 
  • Even though I am dipping my toes in horror this month, when I was 11, I used to be a huge horror fan. I saw Carrie, and it became my favourite film. Okay, it was more of an obsession. I saw it one Wednesday night, and after that, I would not stop talking about it. I had to know every piece of trivia, I had to read the book, I watched some of the scenes over and over again on YouTube when my parents weren't home. I even did an entire speech on Sissy Spacek, even though I had only seen Carrie and Coal Miner's Daughter. It was a pretty exciting speech. I got into my first school speech final. Ever since then, I've been in every school speech final. It took me until 2010 to win one, and then I managed to get the speech prize again last year (but there wasn't a final...just a prize for whoever had the best speech). In a way, Sissy Spacek harboured my need to be awesome at speeches every single year.
  • Another horror that I loved in 2007 was The Ring (the remake). I had it on videotape (oh the irony), and I watched parts of the movie every morning before school for weeks.
  • In this year, I became convinced that I needed to make a DVD collection. I would save up my pocket money, and I'd be all ready to buy some ex-rentals from the shop, but Dad said that I could just "get them out when I wanted for free". So I didn't get any. For my birthday, however, Dad bought me The Devil Wears Prada on ex-rental, and I watched it over and over and over again. Words cannot explain how much I love that film. But I used to hate it when Andy started prioritising her career over her boyfriend, so I would always skip that part. Basically, I would watch it mainly for the clothes, and then I'd try and buy the same clothes from the Warehouse. That didn't go according to plan.
  • I saw Mean Girls at some point through this year. I videotaped it off the TV (my main method of watching movies back in the day). That tape had the first few minutes cut out, so while I watched the film billions of times, it wasn't until when I bought the DVD that I saw those first few minutes. Even now they still seem really foreign. 
  • I started my job at Blockbuster in 2007. I felt so cool. I didn't get paid though. CHILD LABOUR!
  • Another obsession I had in 2007 (jeez, there were so many) was with Grace Kelly. Which of course introduced me to more Hitchcock films, which legitimately meant that I could call him my favourite director. But yes, Grace Kelly lived an interesting life...which I know because I read three different biographies on her.
  • Probably the biggest obsession I had in 2007 was with Hairspray. When I say I was obsessed, I was OBSESSED. I mean, I know that 2007 was considered a great year in cinema because we had films like No Country for Old Men, There Will Be Blood and Gone Baby Gone, but come on, Hairspray was actually the best. It is just so funny, lively, colourful, inspirational...the full package, really. Wanna know how obsessed I was? At work we had some thieves around the place, so we had to change over the cases to more secure cases on the new release wall. This was one of the most boring, systematic jobs ever. There were over 1000 cases to change. It took an entire week, working from early in the morning to late in the afternoon. Honestly, if I was on the payroll, I could have got at least $500 for this. But what did I ask for? A Hairspray soundtrack. Which was like, $23. Maybe I should just remind Dad about that time and get what I truly deserved...
  • The last "obsession" I had in 2007 was actually fairly embarrassing. Pulp Fiction was on TV late one night, so I taped it. I then watched it. I then became obsessed with it. The catch is that I DID NOT UNDERSTAND PULP FICTION. I watched it again in 2010, and it was like seeing a whole new film. No jokes. In fact, all I think I took from the experience was Mia's overdose, Mia and Vincent dancing and Quentin Tarantino's appearance in the film. Alas, those three scenes made QT my "new favourite director". Which is really embarrassing. I did try to watch Reservoir Dogs on Christmas Eve but my mother told me to turn it off because it had too much swearing in it. So I didn't see it until 2010.
  • Alas, I did get a portable DVD player in this year. Which meant that I could watch movies filled with swearing and stuff without my parents ever finding out. But for some reason, I never finished watching Reservoir Dogs. Obviously, Quentin Tarantino was my "favourite director".
Check back tomorrow for 2008 in review. How about you, who was your first favourite director? Did you ever have extreme obsessions with movies?

Saturday, October 13, 2012

My Movie Biography: How It All Started in 2006

In eight days, it'll be my blog's third anniversary, and I decided that I might as well do something special for it. I have three special things planned, but this is the first, which will run right up to the big day. What is the "Movie Biography". Well, it is basically a year by year look at the films that have shaped my love for films. Sometimes there'll be just two films (like there are today), other days there'll be heaps, but I thought I may as well share my inspiring and interesting (haha) anecdotes on how I came to love these films. Because I imagine if I ever got a biography written about me (which is kinda my lifelong goal), the chapters would be in the movies I've watched instead of normal things like "Stevee Taylor becomes an astronaut". Because we all know that's going to happen, which is why people will write a biography on me.

Let's start with my first favourite movie. Technically my love for Racing Stripes all happened in 2005, but 2006 was when I really started loving movies and when I really discovered that I loved this film. First of all, I'm sorry that I wasn't into arthouse movies when I was 11. If you had showed me The Tree of Life when I was that age, I probably would have gone on my Bebo and said "OMG The Tree of Life is my favourite movie!" I'm actually not joking. I used to believe I was cool because I knew of these movies, and even if I didn't understand them, I'd go "I LOVE THAT MOVIE!". Which is why you don't start loving movies when you're 11. Alas, behind that arthouse façade, my favourite movie was one with talking animals that had a zebra as a racehorse. This was for a whole raft of reasons:
-I don't mean to impress you, but my mother and I saw it TWICE. This was a big deal back in the day. I think we saw it our local cinemas, too, which means it was a really long time ago. I also think we saw it a second time because I had two broken arms and I couldn't do all that much. Including eat popcorn like a normal person, but the cinema was dark so no-one would have noticed how stupid I looked with two broken arms. Then again, one of my casts was glow in the dark...yeah, I really thought that out well. Alas, I think the fact that we went to go and see it twice was probably the reason why it was my favourite film.

Friday, October 12, 2012

The Most Corrupt Cop You've Ever Seen on Screen?

Rampart (2011) / US / Out on DVD now / Directed by Oren Moverman / Written by James Ellroy and Oren Moverman / Starring Woody Harrelson, Ned Beatty, Ben Foster, Anne Heche, Cynthia Nixon, Robin Wright, Sigourney Weaver, Steve Buscemi, Ice Cube, Brie Larson / 108 minutes

"Woody Harrelson is the most corrupt cop you've ever seen on screen" - the tagline which is plastered across the posters and the trailers for Rampart, Oren Moverman's follow-up to the marvellous 2009 film The Messenger. If a film makes such a bold claim, you can only be sure that it is doing that because it truly means it, right?

Unfortunately, that's not the case with Rampart. I haven't seen too many cop movies, so I wouldn't know how corrupt they can really go, but I'm sure that Rampart's Dave Brown (Harrelson) doesn't really reach the top of the coppo-corrupto-metre. That isn't because the character doesn't have a corrupt soul - because he sure does - it is just that the film never really decides if it wants to show that corruption. In fact, the film never really decides on what it wants to show us at all. What we have instead is a disappointingly incomplete screenplay, which seems like it is more happy contributing ideas to a story instead of building it. Through that, we have multiple characters coming in and out, contributing to dynamics that are never sustained. Those characters happen to be played beautifully by a range of actors who contribute to probably one of the best ensemble acting performances of the past year, and at least make sure that this isn't just one long acting exercise for Harrelson. In the end, Rampart has a lot to contribute, but not a lot of getting up and doing things for itself.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Dear Hollywood: That's My Boy

There is no escaping Adam Sandler movies. Okay, there is, but that's only likely if you don't work at a DVD shop and make it a point to watch everything "big" that comes out. Why do I like torturing myself?! I wish I knew the answer. Because That's My Boy was AWFUL. WORDS CAN'T EVEN DESCRIBE HOW AWFUL IT WAS. Which makes it fine material for the Dear Hollywood series. If you need a refresher, here's the previous entries here.

Dear Hollywood,
It is your old mate Adam Sandler here! You remember me! I'm the guy that did you proud by winning all of the Razzies with my masterpiece Jack and Jill!
After that, I've hit a bit of a lull. I don't know how I could possibly make anything worse.
Please help me.
Love from Hollywood's favourite son,
Adam Sandler

Dear Adam Sandler,
Hello, Adam. We were wondering when you were going to start campaigning for those Razzies. But how can you do that when you've already played a man and a woman in the same film? Jack and Jill really took the cake. All of it. Literally.
Why don't you just show off that stellar immaturity in a new, bold way? We're all for rebooting the same old stuff.
Love from your proud father,

Dear Hollywood,
Yes, that immaturity always works well, doesn't it? Once I made a whole film about adults being immature. It  was called Grown Ups. You remember that one? Only Rob Schneider got a Razzie nod for that.
I got chocolate wasted because of that.
I can't let Rob Schneider steal my spotlight!
Love from your favourite son, 
Adam Sandler

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Dipping My Toes in Horror: Scream and Suspiria

One thing that I just realised in this past week is that there are five Wednesdays this month, as Halloween is coincidentally on a Wednesday (talk about a nice way to wrap things up). That means that I have an extra week to catch up with two more horrors, bringing this months tally up to ten horror films. Which is a good thing, since there's so many that I want to see. Still, I need some recommendations. C'mon, people! Anyway, this week on tap we have the 90s horror/comedy Scream and Dario Argento's 70s classic Suspiria.

I love movies that reference other movies endlessly, are completely self-aware, and don't really take themselves all that seriously. It is a pretty tough task to do that all so well, but Scream just about has it down pat. Starting off with the famous phone call that ensures the demise of Drew Barrymore, we're introduced to a killer who likes to ask his future victims if they like scary movies. There's a bit of chatter about scary movies, and then the real scares go on. It has a fairly basic premise, harking back to the popular teen slasher movies that went before it. And yeah, it is quite effective.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Tuesday Links and Other Stuff #37

What I'm watching tonight...

Here's the thing...I was actually really excited to watch Rock of Ages tonight. I was just in the mood for a musical. But it didn't show up. And then we made the connection that it actually comes out next week, unlike what our order sheet told us. Which leaves barely anything big that is to be released this week, since I had the unfortunate task of watching That's My Boy last night. So I've decided to watch Passion Play just because, Jeff Who Lives at Home since I missed it on its release, and maybe Rampart since I saw it on a preview disc that was out of sync, so I didn't really give it a fair chance. I could be doing schoolwork or reading The Perks of Being a Wallflower, but it is Tuesday and it is the holidays, so it wouldn't feel right if I watched less than three movies tonight.

Video of the week...

Anyone seen this? It is pretty old, but I feel like everyone needs a reminder that Christoph Waltz is one of the awesomest people on earth every now and again.

Dan is looking at box office flops, and has started off by looking at this year's John Carter. This film was pretty darn unfortunate in every way, but it was still pretty okay.

Bonjour Tristesse has been at VIFF, and has obviously been very busy there. Check out their quick takes of all the films they've watched here.

Tom has been living it up large at NYFF, and got to catch up with The Paperboy which looks...interesting.

Sati will be celebrating her first birthday over at Cinematic Corner tomorrow (so be prepared with well wishes!), but in the countdown, she has shared her favourite performances and movie tracks.

Taking my newly made award of best review of the year is Ryan's review of The Perks of Being a Wallflower. Like the book, it is kinda life-defining when you're my age. And yeah, it is still my most anticipated film for like, ever.

It seems that Anna has joined the legions of people who loved The Cabin in the Woods.

Aziza got to see Now is Good, which she wasn't terribly impressed by. I doubt I'll be any different, but I am looking forward to seeing Jeremy Irvine's beautiful face on screen again.

Final word...
What's a movie that everyone hates, but you love?

Monday, October 8, 2012

Random Thoughts I Have While Working at a DVD Store...

You know those good old jobs you have when you're a teenager? Well, as you know, the job I have is coincidentally at the local DVD store. I've been working especially hard these holidays, mainly because I'm saving up for my trip to Japan at the beginning of next year and my beloved laptop needs a new battery. Needless to say, neither are cheap. So in between trying to catch up on sleep and then catching up on the biggest pile of homework I've ever been subjected to, my holidays have been spent at work, where I usually clean shelves - i.e., the worst job in the world (probably not but I do feel like chopping my head off after I've done like, ten minutes of the bloody job). And I often think a lot, about movies in general. So here are the random thoughts I've had in the past week or so:

-Ray Liotta is in a crapload of straight-to-DVD movies. I found Breathless, Street Kings 2, The River Murders and Powder Blue today. For one thing, before we got those movies, I had never heard of them. For another thing, that's a bad thing. But come on, this is Ray Liotta we're talking about. He's the guy in Goodfellas. And Goodfellas was awesome. I'm hoping that Killing Them Softly means he's getting back on track, but then again, he is keeping straight-to-DVD movies alive. 

 -Basically, what Ray Liotta fits into is my self-made club called the "actors playing dress-ups". Now, I have a generally negative relationship with straight-to-DVD movies because we always get so many of them even if they look like (and are) crap. I don't know what these actors are thinking when they sign up to them, so I just assume it is because they wanna play dress-ups. Because they always pop up in these bloody movies. Here's the list, anyway:
Christian Slater (seriously, Christian, I am over seeing you in these films)
Cuba Gooding Jr.
Dolph Lundgren
Bruce Willis
50 Cent (this guy is actually the worst for playing dress-ups)
Val Kilmer
I should be grateful to these guys, though. People always rent their films, so in a way, they're keeping our video store going.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

It's All in the Love Triangle...

I often get asked by people who have missed The Hunger Games craze what makes all the teenage girls go wild over it. Most people just know the movie/book as the one about all the kids killing each other. And how  could that possibly be appealing to teenage girls?

And I say that there is one vital ingredient: a love triangle.

You see, The Hunger Games is rich with ideas. There are kids killing each other because the government thinks that it is okay to punish the peasants for being peasants. The higher power like to think they are walking cupcakes. Any moment there could be an uprising.

But no, let's not obsess over all these problems. Let's not even acknowledge them. Because, in amongst all of the futuristic political turmoil, the only thing on the teenaged minds is the obviously really important love triangle between our heroine, Katniss, the man she's thrusted into the competition with, Peeta, and her buddy from District 12, Gale. I personally didn't have a problem with the love triangle in the books. It is kinda sad how Katniss has to pretend to be in love with Peeta so she can survive, but her true love lies with Gale. But the love triangle is so horribly done in the movie...and yet, little teenage fangirls who haven't picked up the book have got their armour and picked their side.

Friday, October 5, 2012

A Vision of the Future, Not a Dream

Looper (2012) / US / In cinemas now / Written and Directed By Rian Johnson / Starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Bruce Willis, Emily Blunt, Jeff Daniels, Paul Dano, Noah Segan, Piper Perabo, Pierce Gagnon / 118 minutes

I could start off by giving you the speech about how we live in a sucky world where all the films are adaptations, remakes, comic book films, sequels etc. And then I could tell you about how Rian Johnson created an original film called Looper and low and behold, we can all restore our faith in cinema. Yes, yay for Rian Johnson. He did us proud. But isn't the kind of movie that should be restoring our faith in cinema by itself. It just proves to us that true cinema isn't dead, and there's still room for innovation.

Looper is set mostly in 2044, where time travel hasn't been invented yet. However, 30 years in the future, time travel has been outlawed, and is used by crime bosses. In their time, it is extremely difficult to dispose of bodies secretly, so they transport the bodies back to 2044 where specialised assassins called "loopers" kill and dispose of the bodies. However, the loopers themselves can be sent back to 2044, and then they kill the old version of themselves - "closing the loop" - thus ending their contract. So when Joe (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is sent to kill the older version of himself (played by Bruce Willis), things should be pretty simple for Joe to kill him and live free for the rest of his life. However, the older Joe seems to be quite troublesome, and has come back to 2044 with his own agenda.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Dipping My Toes in Horror: The Cabin in the Woods and The Evil Dead

I know I said that I wasn't going to review The Cabin in the Woods. But then it dawned on me that we're into October, and two months ago I promised that I'd do some more toe dipping this month. Originally I wasn't going to keep that promise, as these toe dipping months are kinda exhausting, but yesterday I realised that it was indeed October, and Halloween happens at the end of the month. Having seen both The Cabin in the Woods and The Evil Dead just recently, I decided that this was perfect timing. Plus, I've always meant to get into more horror, even though I think it is a ghastly genre. The Cabin in the Woods seems like a pretty funny way to do some toe dipping (okay, the phrase 'toe dipping' is starting to sound exceedingly dodgy), but as I said, this is kinda last minute stuff. And it had me scared shitless, so I suppose it did what it was supposed to do.

Anyway, so chances are you've seen/discussed/analysed/had enough of The Cabin in the Woods. And because of that fact, I honestly have no idea of what I can say about the film. So here's my list of scattered thoughts (spoiler-iffic, but most of you have probably seen it because you don't live in New Zealand):
-Yeah, Joss Whedon is pretty cool.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Tuesday Links and Other Stuff #36

What I'm watching tonight...

Yay for the holidays. It means that I can watch a lot without feeling bad about it. So even What to Expect When You're Expecting, The Dictator and The Raven - three films which I have zero interest in - seem like a good night.

Video of the week...

I've always loved these 'Honest Trailers', and this The Avengers one is no exception. So many laughs to be had.

Blog of the month...

Wow, a new month has rolled around. The blog that gets to grace my sidebar for the next month is Whoa, This is Heavy! Helmed by Asrap, this is a pretty funny blog, and also, Asrap has the best comments. So go check it out!

I actually haven't heard that much about The Perks of Being a Wallflower, but Nick over at Anomalous Material has given it a good review. The book is rather swell, too.

One film that continues to elude me is Pariah, which Stephanie quite liked.

All these blogging meet-ups have got me kind of jealous. Nick of Random Ramblings of a Demented Doorknob got to hang with Tom Clift and James Blake Ewing, and it sounds like an interesting time.

If you haven't already, go and wish Alex and his blog And So It Begins a very happy FIFTH blogiversary.

JBT at Big Thoughts From a Small Mind ponders over how underrated Kelly MacDonald is. I couldn't agree more.

Jessica had a bit of a rough time watching documentary Bully.

Rachel at Reel Insight seemed to quite enjoy Pitch Perfect. Surprisingly, I quite want to see the film, but Looper means more to me than that one, and I can't even get to see Looper. Sigh. DVD time.

Final word...
An actor/actress you find criminally underrated?

Monday, October 1, 2012

Chloe's Got a Gun...

Hick (2011) / US / Out on DVD now / Directed by Derek Martini / Written by Andrea Portes (from her book of the same name) / Starring Chloe Moretz, Eddie Redmayne, Blake Lively, Juliette Lewis, Alec Baldwin, Rory Culkin / 94 minutes

You know those movies where they go all out on trying to portray how "real" people grow up in the "real" world? They try so hard, and in the end, they just end up becoming really, well, pretentious.

One such movie is Hick, starring Chloe Moretz, Eddie Redmayne and Blake Lively, which slipped under the radar when it was released earlier this year. The film follows 13 year old Luli (Moretz), who decides that life in her small, backwoodsish town isn't enough for her. She sets off for the bright lights of Las Vegas, even though she's only 13. All's well, though, because she's put a pistol in her bag and she hopes that the fact that she's wearing hardly anything will get her enough friends to get her to Las Vegas. First she meets Eddie (Redmayne), a drifting cowboy who agrees to give her a ride until she pisses him off, and she's back on her feet again. Then she comes across grifter Glenda (Lively), who gives her a ride on the condition that Luli becomes an accessory in Glenda's cons. Everything is pretty straight-forward up until then, but then Eddie comes back into the picture and things start getting a little strange...and incomprehensible.


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