Thursday, April 30, 2009

Eat My Shorts: This Way Up (2008)

Well what do you know....I remembered my feature! So here we are, week 2 and I have decided to review one of this years Academy Award nominated animated short films.... it didn't win and I haven't seen the short that did, but I quite enjoyed this one.

This Way Up (2008)
Directed by Adam Foulkes and Alan Smith
Running Time: 9 Minutes
Country: UK

We follow the exploits of a father and son operating a funeral parlor and their attempts to get the recently deceased body of an elderly lady to her final resting place.

I must admit I found the short to be quite amusing and it is certainly visually arresting. It is 3-D animated, but certain shots could be mistaken for stop motion or clay animation. I like that there is very little "dialog" and I am being generous in even hinting that there is any....but overall a well rounded, funny and imaginative piece.

You can find a trailer, gallery and talent information on the official site here

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Criterion Collection What Hast Thou Done!?

Found this in my travels around the interweb this week.....WTF?

Criterion are obviously returning to their days of releasing quality art-house and foreign language films...films like...

Presumably the June Australian release will have the same content given that it is a 2 disc edition and comes with a Digital Download Copy (one of the first in Australia, at least from Warner)

Shame the film was overly long and pretentious...they will be lucky if I even bother to rent it.

Box Office Bonanza

Why can I not get excited about any of this years "Blockbuster" movies?

X-Men Origins: Wolverine
Terminator: Salvation
Star Trek
Angels & Demons
Transformers 2

None of them have me chomping at the bit waiting in line for tickets or even downloading every new trailer or snippet! What's wrong with me....I used to love these no-brain action fluff pieces, what has changed? Sad thing is, I haven't been to the cinema at all in April!!! NOT ONCE! Even sadder is the fact that I could see anything for free if I wanted to and I still didn't go!!
I am getting a bit sick of the Hollywood rehash I must admit, especially when they start screwing with Universes that I was quite content to leave untainted.....I hear Predator might be getting a "reboot".... why can't we have something original for a change?

Well it doesn't stop with cinema outings though; the DVD shelves are also piled with "to watch" titles of varying interest and no end in sight.

It would seem that I am going through a TV watching phase at present. Movies are currently going through a "serial" phase, where nothing is sacred and they just "revise" the same stories over and over, but TV, well that is where the real story telling is...

What will it take to get me back to the movies? I wish I knew, but certainly nothing in the "coming soon" poster section at my local cinema....which is such a shame.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Premonition (Yogen) (2004)

I was going to start another new article section with this film, namely a comparison of Original Vs. Remake. I love Asian horror and I have been mostly disappointed with Western remakes of such, but I thought if I started a comparison review of them it might help me appreciate the remake more. So why don't I?, you may ask... Well, to be honest Premonition wasn't a good enough film to begin with. After watching the original, I didn't really have any desire to see the Sandra Bullock driven remake.

The film starts off well enough with a family traveling home on the highway, your typical work crazed father needs to stop and send some information to his workplace. Whilst waiting in the phone booth he finds a newspaper article that foretells the death of his young daughter complete with photo....with only minutes to go he turns to see the newspaper article come true. His failure to do anything and his obsession with finding the newspaper article results in a marital breakdown that drives his wife away. We then jump 3 years and find that his wife is investigating these theories of newspaper premonitions and with more success than her husband.

She finds a photo from a clairvoyant that leads her to return to her estranged husband and together they investigate the newspaper articles further.

The film does tackle a few interesting themes, my favorite for example; what happens if you try to change the premonition? The film makes no real allusion as to where the paper comes from which might have been nice.

The acting is alright (I find most Japanese films to be either over or under acted; this falls into the former), the cinematography is fine and the visual effects are quite effective. The film also features some nice ambient surround usage and a subtle and appropriately eerie score.

On the whole though, the story could have used a bit of polishing and it doesn't really explain anything very well, but it was still an entertaining 90 minutes so not all is lost.

I promise I will start an series of article on original vs remake, it will just take me a little while to find something worth watching and comparing....I am open to suggestions though!

Sunday, April 26, 2009


Season 1 Episode 10: Haunted
So...episode 10, why do they do it?, the idea is fine....dead woman comes back to life through a doll, but it just doesn't work. Boyd makes a little speech about the ethics, but where is the real hardcore exploration of the possibilities and consequences?!! Instead we are given a Law & Order episode and if you watch Law & Order then you will likely know the killers identity before the half way mark anyway!

I stand by my statement that the Dollhouse should not be doing these singular episode "adventures", there are many stories and themes that could be explored without ever leaving the house, but they continue to follow Echo out on her jobs.

The running plot with Mellie and Ballard got a little interesting and the Topher subplot was a bit sad, but this was still an average episode.

I knew 3 in a row would be too much to ask.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Weekly TV Round-up

Here is the round up of shows I watched this week....

Season 2 Episode 21: Chuck Versus the Colonel
Well from the events taking place in this episode it would seem Chuck is winding down....This may not be such a bad thing. Chuck wasn't a show that I was watching religiously, I simply found it an entertaining way to waste 40 minutes or s0, the story was getting a bit old and predictable and unless they do plan to shake things up a bit, another series seems unlikely.

Season 1 Episode 7: Home Is Where The Heart Stops
This week a rather solid episode of Castle, The team try to solve a series of house invasions that has escalated to murder, we are given further insight into Detective Beckett's past and there was even a great cameo by Patrick Bauchau. I quite like the idea of Castle, but I am always just not sure it is living up to the potential, maybe it is just because I am just to used to the Law & Order series for which this owes a royalty. Speaking of Law & Order....

Season 8 Episode 1: Playing Dead
Jeff Goldblum joins the cast of Criminal Intent...which I will be honest and say I have not watched since around Season 4, but hey I like Jeff Goldblum what can I say! Although he isn't in this first episode, I will keep watching to see how he does. I thought this episode might have been better suited to SVU, but it was still OK I guess. I can't believe how much weight Vincent D'Onofrino has put on, he looks very poorly...

Season 1 Episode 3: Ka-Blam
Um...only 1 death this episode...maybe things are slowing down, but at least they are starting to get interesting. Bit crass that everyone seems to be ignoring the disappearance of their friends/guests though.

Season 1 Episode 5: Hugh Dennis
I think that this is such a great premise for a show! Have guests experience things that they never thought they would! This episode was quite funny, again I have no idea who Hugh Dennis is, but he was quite entertaining. He went down a coal mine, read a Jeremy Clarkson book and ate Roadkill! Looking forward to the next one!

There was no Dollhouse or Big Bang Theory this week....oh well. I also started watching C.S.I season 7, but as it is not exactly new I won't be reporting it here. I will say, that the writers obviously have something against Catherine much can you do to a character in only 2 episodes!!! sheesh....anyways...that's all for now until next week for more TV.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Under-rated Trilogies - Final Destination

Final Destination (2000)
Back before the new millennium dawned upon us I was an avid viewer of creepy TV shows, such as Millennium, The X-Files, The Others and The Wonder Cabinet. These shows all had one thing in common; writers James Wong and Glen Morgan. The talent of these writers left no doubt in my mind that they would make the jump to the big screen and Final Destination is the result of this. Alex and his friends are about to take a school trip to France, whilst sitting on the plane awaiting departure Alex has a vision of the plane exploding. As he tries to remove himself from the plane, the resultant fight leaves not only him, but six other members of his class at the airport. Imagine their surprise when Alex's vision proves to be correct and the plane explodes minutes after take-off. The FBI take a keen interest in Alex, but it soon becomes clear that the students have only cheated death temporarily. One by one the survivors of flight 180 are mysteriously killed. The premise of the film may not seem like anything new, but the inventive way in which death takes its victims was quite ingenious.

Final Destination 2 (2003)
On the box office success of the first film, New Line commissioned a sequel, this time however Morgan & Wong where nowhere to be found. That didn't stop the film from coming up with equally imaginative ways to kill off its teen cast, this time after they all avoid being killed in a superbly shot and executed highway accident. Only Clear Rivers survives from the first film, with Alex conveniently bumped off in exposition, though Tony Todd also makes an appearance as the creepy William Bloodworth. The sequel was less about story and more about the death sequences, which I guess had become the gimmick of the series by now anyhow. Even without Morgan and Wong, there was still some casting from their previous television series in the from of Keegan Connor Tracy.

Final Destination 2 was a solid entry to the franchise and what it lacked in story it tried to make up for in ingenuity.

Final Destination 3 (2006)
With Morgan and Wong back behind the camera I was sure this would be a treat, sadly the opening premonition left little to be desired (unless you are afraid of roller coasters) it did up the stakes a little with some of its death sequences, but the real joy of the 3rd installment is the DVD release. Later in the production of the film, there was a little controversy with the studio about the timing and way in which some of the characters were killed. Morgan & Wong decided to release the film the studio wanted, but filmed all of their takes as well. This led to the Choose Their Fate edition of the movie, one of the best interactive features ever to hit DVD. Using seamless branching the film becomes an interactive feature allowing you to make critical choices that can lead to the fate of all of the lead characters. If you choose not to kill any, the film runs for around 24 minutes. The feature includes lots of bonus or alternate takes as well as extended scenes or even different and in some cases worse deaths depending on your choices.

Final Destination 3 was certainly not the highlight of the series, but it does still make a worthy addition.

The future of the series.....
As fate would have it (pardon the pun), a 4th installment is currently in production and in 3D too. Final Destination: Death Trip should be out some time in 4th quarter 2009, it is directed by David R. Ellis (the 2nd films director).

Show Me Love (Fucking Åmål) (1998)

Show Me Love or Fucking Åmål as it was originally titled, is one of my favorite films. It is smart, funny, dramatic and above all honest and true. It gives me great pleasure to introduce this film to people who would otherwise never have seen it, and even greater pleasure when they enjoy it us much as I do.

It is such a simple film made on a tiny budget using hand held cameras (yet it out grossed Titanic at the box office in its native country!!), anyone familiar with its director Lukas Moodysson, will know the style of film making he is famous for. Show Me Love is set in Sweden, yet its story is universal. The film is about Agnes, a teenager who moved to Åmål a year ago, she is an outsider at school and is suspected of being a lesbian, the fact that she is, is the basis for the movie. Agnes is in love with Elin, the popular girl. Elin doesn't know Agnes even exists. Through a twist of fate Elin and her sister end up at Agnes birthday party where, as a dare, Elin kisses Agnes before both girls run away laughing. I make it sound as though the film is about sexuality and whilst it does cover this issue, the film is about so much more. It is one of the truest representations of repressed teen angst and small town living I have encountered, we feel for Agnes, we are shown her family life and loving parents who don't understand her , but want to. We see the opposite in Elin who goes out partying, disobeying her parents and relies on magazines to tell her what is cool or not. After the kiss, both girls are changed, but for different reasons and it is great to see the film explore their actions and understanding of themselves as it unfolds.

Show Me Love opened my world to Lucas Moodysson, I appreciated his style of film making, I enjoyed Together, I was forever changed by Lilya-4-eva and A Hole In My Heart left me disturbed on levels I didn't even know I had... I still think Show Me Love is his greatest achievement and that it will remain on my top 10 list for some time yet.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Eat My Shorts: The Follow (2001)

Today I thought I would start what will hopefully be a new weekly occurrence. I have noticed a lot of movie fans who don't like short films, I for one, think that some short films are better than full feature length films! The amount of talent it takes to tell a story (usually in under 10 minutes) is staggering. In fact short film making is a breeding ground for talent, especially for directors! You need look no further than the resumes for some of Hollywood's biggest names to see that they got their start in either short films or music videos (some of which are essentially short films on their Michael Jackson's Thriller)

Each week I will review a short film from my collection, or from the internet, or wherever....

I am going to start with one of my favorites:

The BMW short film series The Hire got critical acclaim when it was released. It drew a lot of large names and talent to its challenge of creating 8 short films based around a driver for hire played by Clive Owen.

My personal favorite of the 8 films made is The Follow directed by Wong Kar-wai, written by Andrew Kevin Walker and starring Mickey Rourke, Forest Whitaker and Adriana Lima.

It sees our driver paid to follow a paranoid actor's wife and report on her is told almost poetically with a melodic pace, beautiful score and some great cinematography. It stands out from the other films in that there is very little action involved, the tale is more of a drama and once all of the pieces are in place you learn quite a bit about our driver's character.

You can watch this short in its entirety below, I welcome your thoughts!

The BMW series had some really good entries and I am sure I will be covering most of them over the course of this feature, but we shall see what happens next week...

Repo! The Genetic Opera (2008)

After putting my review copy of Dying Breed into my DVD player the other evening I was visually and aurally assaulted by a trailer for Repo! The Genetic Opera. It must therefore be fate that a copy fell into my hands yesterday and that I chose to watch it last night. Directed by Darren Lynn Bousman (who gave us 3 of the 4 Saw sequels) Repo! is quite the movie. It is set in a futuristic world where an epidemic of organ failures has created a market for genetically engineered and modified body parts, a market that GeneCo is only to happy too fulfill. Owned by Rotti Largo, GeneCo can give you any spare part you like and even offer a financing service, but should you been unfortunate enough to miss payments then they will send the Repo man to claim back their property. The film does live up to its name and features almost every element necessary to make an opera, from its convoluted back story, misfit characters all tied together by a tragic series of events, not to mention almost the entire film is sung and has an endless musical score.

This is the part where I tell you that I secretly enjoyed Repo!The Genetic Opera, it creates its own visual style reminiscent of music videos, it makes clever use of comic book panels and direct to camera narration for scenes requiring exposition. It boasts a very interesting cast with Paris Hilton, Sarah Brightman, Anthony Stewart Head (Buffy) and the most surprising for me Alexa Vega (Spy Kids). Sure it does have a few downsides, I don't think any of the songs where particularly catchy or memorable, it has moments of blood and gore that may turn away some viewers, it is told at quite a frenetic pace too which makes for some almost incomprehensible moments. The film is certainly trying desperately to be a cult hit and the studio is certainly marketing it as such, but it is no Rocky Horror Picture Show. I do not doubt that it will have its own league of fans and who knows what the future may bring.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Coming Soon (2008)

I will be honest and say that I had no idea what this movie was going to be of my fellow employees thrust it on me having heard about it from a friend recently returned from Thailand.

Coming Soon is another Asian scary girl horror movie. It is about Shane, a cinema employee who is begrudgingly pirating movies for the local thugs to sell on. Whilst pirating their latest movie, Evil Spirit, Shane's partner in crime disappears before the screening ends and the tape he has made shows him all but wetting himself to escape from some off screen monster. It seems that the movie he is pirating is haunted and people who watch it seem to end up meeting their demise (does this sound familiar?)

So Shane, and his ex-girlfriend go on a nice bus ride to track down the "real life events" that the movie (the one in the movie) were based. (this part of the movie could easily have just been spliced from another Asian horror film; The Eye) Along the way lots of creepy jumpy out girlie monsters try to attack him and there are lots of those creepy noises that everyone is always so keen to go and investigate. I know, I sound a little jaded here. To be honest the film does have a few decent pieces of plot and the occasional worthy scare, but by the end you realize that it doesn't really make sense. It is written and directed by Sopon Sukdapisit, who is best known for writing Shutter and Alone and I get the feeling he wrote this as a treatment for an anti-piracy ad and the studio thought heck lets make it into a movie...that will show those pirates!

Still....I would like to have seen the ad.

The Alphabet Killer (2008)

The Alphabet Killer is a supernatural thriller based on the true story of the as yet unsolved Alphabet murders. The murders took place in Rochester, New York during the 1970's and got their name due to the fact that each of the victims names included a double initial and their bodies were found in towns starting with the same letter.

I strongly believe that movies based on true events, especially something like the Alphabet Murders that is still an open case today and has actively been in the news as recent as March 2nd 2009, owe a debt of decency in their portrayal of the story. I am not suggesting that fictional movies based on true events should not exist, I am referring to movies that are not hiding behind false truths. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (the 1974 original, not the 2003 remake) is a good example of a well made film that despite labeling itself "Based on a true story", does not depict factual events, however it is only loosely based on the events of serial killer Ed Gein. Neither his name, the names of victims, nor any other place names or similarities exists. They simply used his story as the basis for a horror movie and that is fine.

The Alphabet Killer does the opposite, we are shown relatively accurate series of least to a point and despite key name changes it is quite obvious that the film makes no attempt to spare the identity of the real victims. Of course, their claim is that the story is fictional. We are watching the film unfold through the eyes of Detective Megan Paige (Eliza Dushku), she is obsessed with this case to the point where it causes an adult onset of schizophrenia. This leads to the films supernatural element by way of hallucinations, disorganized speech, catatonic behavior and illusions. She is haunted by the ghosts of the dead girls and cannot rest until their killer is brought to justice.

I found the film quite disjointed and without a clear direction, it almost tries too hard to be a "who dunnit" mystery throwing a few red herrings here and there, but overall it just isn't coherent. Even once the identity of the killer is known, we are no wiser about their motives, in fact little of anything is explained.

The Alphabet Killer owed a lot more to the original story, its victims, their families and the many police who to this day still live with the unanswered question of who and why, it does little to help in their grieving process and does little to provide entertainment for everyone else.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Dawg, Silent Hill and Dollhouse

Last night I sat down to watch Dawg, previously released in Australia as Bad Boy. I picked it up at Chickenfeed for the princely sum of $2. It is an average movie, but one that does have a few decent moments, my main reason for the purchase is Dennis Leary. He plays Dawg, otherwise known as Doug Manfred. He is a quite a ladies man, something that his now deceased grandmother did not approve of. Enter Elizabeth Hurly, she is Doug's late grandmother's lawyer and will executor. Doug is the sole beneficiary of her $1million dollar estate, but only on one condition. He must get a "substantial" number of his conquests to forgive him for using them. The movie then takes the form of a road trip as Doug and the lawyer set out to find 12 of his prior lady friends and seek their forgiveness. What starts out as just a game to Doug soon gets quite serious as he realizes some of the consequences his prior indiscretions may have caused.

It is not an overly bad movie and does have some genuinely funny moments. It also has a heart, albeit in the wrong place most of the time. The film could have really worked, but never achieves anything greater than its B movie status and then ending could have done with a re-write.

Why do horror movies always have the best cinematography and sound design... Christophe Gans' Silent Hill has some of the best camera work I have ever seen, with some amazingly cool crane and dolly work. It also boasts one of the most active and genuinely creepy soundtracks I have heard for a movie in a long time. I expected great things from Silent Hill, after all Brotherhood of the Wolf was an excellent movie, Sean Bean and Rhada Mitchell are a fine cast, but something about the movie just doesn't click with me. It has some great scares and some awe inspiring set designs, most of the "monsters" are unlike anything else seen and it had the potential to be a great horror film. It is let down mostly by pacing and story. The film would almost have been better without Sean Bean and that entire "reality" involved. It still wouldn't save the mediocre ending though. I re-watched my Region 3 DVD and I must admit I would be really interested to catch this on Blu-ray, I own it mainly because it is still a creepy film and it really does show off a decent home theatre set up. I hear that a sequel is in the works for 2010, but it doesn't look like Cristophe will be returning, which is a shame as he certainly is a very gifted director.

Okay...shift in topic... as Dollhouse is on break this week I thought I would post something music related for it. As this took me ages to find... (although it is free on iTunes, I am not an Apple Sheep) I have uploaded it for anyone else who was looking for it.

Here is the main title music for Dollhouse by Jonatha Brooke titled What You Don't Know

Sorry, No Longer Available to Download

In other TV news there should be new episodes of Castle and Chuck this evening and hopefully a movie in there somewhere too...

Criminal Lovers (Les Amants Criminels) (1999)

François Ozon's Criminal Lover's is a nightmarish and realistic tale of the things people will do for love and the consequences those actions can have. Alice is a high school student consumed with lust and a volatile nature; she teases her submissive boyfriend Luc by blindfolding him and describing her various states of undress whilst not actually following through with the actions. He believes every word unquestionably. She uses this power to conspire with Luc to kill Said, a boxing student who has been flirting and making sexual advances toward her. Alice both flirts and resists Said, much to her own annoyance. It seems she unsure of what to make of her feelings toward him.

We are shown in bloodied detail Said's demise and watch as our main characters scrub and clean the murder scene with an almost satisfied enthusiasm. They drive out to a remote forest to bury his remains, but unknown to them they are being watched.

In their attempts to return to their car they get lost and happen upon a small cottage. They break in for food and water, but are hampered in their attempt to leave by the owner who in turn chooses to punish them for their intrusion by locking them in his cellar. From here-on the film takes an almost surreal turn as the two search their imprisoned surroundings only to find the body they had just buried. As the owner upstairs rifles through their belongings he happens upon Alice's diary and we are shown in narrative flashback the events leading up to Said's murder.

In an interesting twist, this tale sees the female left out of immediate peril as the owner takes his retribution out on Luc. As more of the tale unfolds we see her impulse to control and manipulate Luc and his incredulous realization of her betrayal, we see his struggle and confusion about his sexuality in a completely understated and yet powerful performance by Jeremie Renier. We also see the twisted mind and formidable character of Alice as portrayed by Natacha Regnier, whose grasp on reality is slipping and her complete disregard for the consequences of her actions frightening.

I must say that I was a little disappointed with the ending, especially having invested quite heavily in what comes before, but I should point out that I am not sure how else it could have been done. On the whole Ozon's film is a perfectly cast, well layered journey into a fantastical world of manipulation and consequence.

Regrettably I was unable to locate a subtitled trailer:

Monday, April 20, 2009

Square Eyes - Weekly TV Round-up

I guess you can't really say that if you sit too close to your TV you will get square eyes anymore...instead you will get widescreen eyes!

I won't really reveal too many plot points here just in case people have yet to seen them, mostly I will just give my opinion of the episode.

Anyway, the weekends TV viewing consisted of a new episode of Pushing Daisies (FINALLY!!), the latest Harper's Island and a British entry in the form of FM, but first.... last weeks episode of Dollhouse.

Season 1 Episode 9: "Spy in the House of Love"
So the unthinkable happened....Dollhouse had 2 decent episodes in a row! Told in flashback form from multiple viewpoints, this episode had quite a few "reveals" and was quite enjoyable! There is hope yet! I believe the series is taking a break this week so lets hope the next episode keeps things interesting.

Season 1 Episode 2: "Crackle"
Now things are starting to speed up on this island horror as John Wakefield really dead?...why is Shane such a dick? Who is bumping off all the wedding guests? well, I must admit it is a bit "soap opera" for me, but I am going to keep watching anyway....if for no other reason than to see all the characters die.

Season 2 Episode 11: "Window Dressed to Kill"
ITV has aired the 11th episode of Pushing Daisies and an interesting episode it is too. Nice to see some of the relationships within the major cast get a workout, sadly that only leaves two episodes left before the world of PD is over. You have to feel sorry for Bryan Fuller, none of his shows have made it past the 2nd season. (Dead Like Me did make a direct to DVD comeback, but that doesn't really count) I am going to assume that not much is going to be wrapped up in the final episodes though...which is a shame. (I believe they have aired in Italy of all places, but interestingly there are few spoilers about)

Season 1 Episode 1: "Last Night a DJ Saved My Life"
Still in Britain (and yes I know Pushing Daisies is American, but that episode aired in the UK first!) and I watched the first episode of FM. It does bare some resemblance to I.T Crowd, but was still quite funny and I am going to stick with it for a bit (I have all of the first season)

I also watched a French thriller, Criminal Lovers (Les Amants Criminels) which I shall review either tomorrow or Wednesday, it was okay and had a few interesting twists.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Dying Breed (2008)

Dying Breed is a poor man's horror movie. It tries very hard to be in the big league with scenes of torture, its use of shock audio cues, the inbred locals, the scary little girl etc, but try as it might it just isn't that scary. One of the reasons for this I would attest is the complete lack of likable characters. We are taken on an expedition with Nina, an Irish scientist following in her sisters footsteps in remote Tasmania on the hunt for the thought to be extinct Tasmanian Tiger. Joining her on this quest is feeble door mat of a boyfriend Matt and his obnoxious and detestable friend Jack and Jack's girlfriend Rebecca. The movie starts with a prologue flashback to a cannibalistic convict known as "The Pieman", we are then informed that the locals are descendants of said convict which might explain why they are all unfriendly.

From here the movie descends into standard "and then there were none" fashion as each member of the group is dispatched from their life in one way or another....and to be honest, in some cases I couldn't wait for it to happen.

The film doesn't quite make it into my detestable horror list as nothing we witness is not done without reason, I should note however, that their is some allusion to multiple rapes and torture that is implied if not implicitly shown, though most of the violence is not overly gratuitous nor overtly sadistic compared to other horror films. Dying Breed does seem to draw comparison to Wolf Creek, but as Wolf Creek IS on my list of detestable horror films I think these comparisons are quite unjust.

I did not detest Dying Breed. I did not overly enjoy it either, but it does have some redeemable features. The scenery is impressive, the camera work is quite good too, it certainly boasts an ambient soundtrack and made some great use of surround sound, most of the acting is on-par with what you would expect and you can't criticize an actor for being annoying if that is their characters flaw. The story was not altogether bad, but it certainly added nothing new to the genre, which is basically what I would say about the film in general.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Friday Night TV Extravaganza

Well after yesterday's post saying that I was all up to date, I figured when I got home to start some new shows and catch up on a few shows I had let slip by the what follows is my evenings viewing.

This sounded exactly like an Agatha Chrisite mystery, and having watched this first episode it kind of is. Although slightly more gory. The original pilot featured Bill Pullman, but after some studio switches and changes he is no longer attached. Someone who is still attached, and whom I feel is often overlooked in her roles is Elaine Cassidy, she stars as Abby Mills, daughter of a small island Sheriff. 7 years ago he investigated the murder of 7 people including his wife, Abby's Mother. The murderer was found and killed, but not before she fled the island to the big city. Now she has returned to the island for her best friends wedding and one by one the guests are being taken out by an unknown assailant. I am guessing this is going to have some swing back to the murders 7 years ago, but the first episode really only establishes the return to the island, the wedding party guests and gives us the first 2 kills.

I noticed the second episode came out just after I finished watching this so I will grab that today...there are only 13 episodes (and no renewal), but it was completed before airing, so assuming nothing major ruins this for me I think I will keep watching...

South Park, what can you say...I caught up with the last few episodes of season 13 I had missed, I loved The Coon, Queefing was okay and Fish win some lose some. Are you a gay fish?

In some ways I wish Red Dwarf hadn't come back, I wasn't a huge fan of the last few series, I loved the first 4 though. They did have an interesting idea, but it just seemed very forced, and the aging actors show their...well, age. Having said that though, you can clearly see they are glad to be back in roles that they are obviously very comfortable in. There are certainly enough references to past episodes to keep the geeks happy, but I doubt this would appeal to first time Dwarfers.

I also caught up on the latest Dollhouse episode, but more on that in another post later.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Weekly TV Round-up

Well, once again I am up-to-date on the ol' goggle box shows that I partake of weekly...

Season 1 Episode 6: Always Buy Retail
I quite like Castle, it is one of those non-offensive cop drama shows that, despite some serious themes still maintains a modicum of humor. Nathan Fillion is perfectly cast as a writer shadowing homicide detective Kate Beckett in order to research his new book. This episode wasn't the strongest in the series thus far, but it was still quite entertaining. We follow the detectives as they try to solve what at first appears to be a ritual killing. They are soon on the trail of counterfeit handbags and illegal immigrants in their search for the murderer.

Season 2 Episode 20: Chuck Versus the First Kill
Chuck is getting a little too "involved" for me of be fair it isn't a series that held much interest for me in the first place and I was certainly aware of most of the plot points that have now eventuated, but it is still a nice little 40 minute time waster and Adam Baldwin always gives me a chuckle...

Season 2 Episode 20: The Hofstadter Isotope
My Mother is responsible for getting me hooked on The Big Bang Theory....although it was not hard to get hooked, with a completely likable cast and great references to the geek in me. There are few episodes of this show that I don't find always brings a smile to my face :)

In other TV News...
still need to watch 1x09 of Dollhouse...maybe tonight, I have also started watching I've Never Seen Star Wars which, despite not knowing who most of the guests are, is quite enjoyable and a great premise for a TV show. Pushing Daisies Season 2 has been announced for Blu-ray & DVD release on July 21st meaning the last 2 episodes should be airing sometime before then.
Still only on the first disc of The Adventures of Brisco Count Jnr, but finding the time to watch older stuff is getting too hard, I still have the first season of Mad Men on Blu-ray to watch too!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

The Shawshank Redemption

The Shawshank Redemption is one of those films that goes largely unnoticed during its theatrical release. It was an under performer at the box office and snubbed by the Academy Awards, yet it currently resides on numerous top 10 lists, including 1st place at the Internet Movie Database!

It took me quite awhile to find the version of Shawshank I wanted to own on DVD, but finally I managed to track it down and here it is:

The Shawshank Redemption

Region 2 - Japan

2 DVD's
BFI Modern Classics Book (English)
The Short Story (Japanese)
Leather Journal Holder
Production Notes (Japanese)


Of course, it has just been released on Blu-ray and I will certainly be picking it up, but this edition was just too nice to pass up on.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The Gathering (2002)

Interestingly this film has taken 7 years to be released on DVD in Australia, I do not believe it was released theatrically and having just watched it, I can see why. Christina Ricci must have been fairly desperate for a pay cheque in this completely disjointed religious horror/thriller. She plays Cassie, an American drifter in the UK who, whilst on her way to Ashby is hit by a car. The driver, Marion (Kerry Fox in a role that is a complete waste of her talent), takes her in after she learns that Cassie is suffering from Amnesia as a result of said car accident. Meanwhile, the local Bishop is on a scientific mission after 2 teenagers have stumbled upon a buried church that contains a representation of the crucifixion possibly created by someone who actually witnessed it. They hire Simon, Marion's husband and author of many books discrediting religious artifacts to do the investigation. Cassie starts having weird dreams and hallucinations that seem to predict future events and is haunted by people that stare at her, yet appear to be unseen by others. This coincides with Simon's discovery that people depicted it the churches crucifixion scene appear throughout history in times of human crisis.....

what does it all mean you may ask, well the film itself doesn't really seem to know. Character development is non-existent and I am completely at a loss for the motives of "bad guy", what little we can gleam suggests that the church knew about these misfits all along and just buried it, which is what they choose to do once again....because that obviously worked the first time?!

The acting is poor, the story is full of holes and superfluous plot points, the cinematography is not all together bad and the music is kind of creepy in its own way. Not sure about the club version of the themes over the intro and end credits though.

I enjoy religious thrillers or stories with religious undertones, Stigmata is a great example of a religious thriller done well (at least if you watch the director's cut), this film is a good example of one that has an interesting idea, but lacks the direction and application to succeed and with a cast as strong as it has I was hoping for something much better.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Michael Bay

Dear Mr Bay,

Years ago I went to the cinema to see a film called The Rock. I enjoyed it immensely, it had a great cast, an excellent story and was a totally competent action film. In fact it remains one of my favorite action films to date. I had high hopes for your next feature, sadly I was presented with Armageddon. A film so laughingly unbelievable I cannot bring myself to waste another 2 hours to re-watch it. Armageddon asked for a level of disbelief I could not afford, especially considering a more realistic Deep Impact was released in the same year. Just when I thought I was over Armageddon you followed it up with the abomination of Pearl Harbor. A movie I could not detest anymore if I wanted to. How could you take a story that affected so many lives and turn it not only into a love triangle, but a completely biased and unapologetic action movie?! Some people call it a drama, well, it is certainly melodramatic, but the consequences of this film were far more hurtful than entertaining. So by this point I was avoiding your movies like the plague. Bad Boys II came and went and I didn't even raise an eyebrow, you started producing Horror Movie remakes (a personal pet peeve of mine and something I intend to write about in the very near future) in the form of Texas Chainsaw Massacre and The Amityville Horror, which only started to rub salt in the already open wound I had about your work. Then, something amazing happened. I saw a trailer for The Island. Maybe it was my mood at the time or the stars were aligned a certain way...who knows, but it actually appealed to me. So to my amazement I decided I would give you another chance and went to an opening night screening.

For the first 30 or 40 minutes I was in movie heaven, an awesome story, a great cast, excellent cinematography, a great score....this movie had everything I was hoping least until your clones escaped. The last 1/4 of your movie was a complete let down. You raised the stakes so high with your opening and then pulverized them with your amazingly stupid and overly complicated action sequences. Until last week, I thought the opening 40 minutes of The Island was your best work. What happened you may ask, well I shall tell you.

Clonus: The Parts Horror
This film made in 1979, is everything I hoped The Island would be, in fact, if it had gotten your budget I imagine it may have been one of my favorite films. Sadly it had a budget of just over $250,000 (The Island's budget was $40million), but it has something The Island is sorely missing. A story, a devastating and very real story without compromise. Now I know you aren't to blame for the story, you are only the director, but if you had directed simply what was written I would bet money your film would be greatly superior. If a $250,000 movie can move me, and make a social statement even with its wooden acting, cheap sets and poor dialog, your movie should have me in tears and create a storm of controversy....well I guess it did that, at least with fans of Clonus.

I appreciate that not everyone goes to the movies to learn something, and I love a good popcorn movie as much as anyone. The Rock is one of the best examples of this, in fact even Transformers has some merit in this category. I simply ask that you make your movies even remotely believable. If you have $40million dollars to spend and your CGI bill is $30million, then something is wrong. I would happily watch a movie made using lego bricks if the story was original and engaging.

Please consider.


A Movie Patron


More info on Clonus here

You can check out the court documents regarding the case brought against Warner and Dreamworks over Copyright Infringement here.

Monday, April 13, 2009

There are three flowers in a vase. The third flower is green.

Dollhouse is one of those shows that I find myself in a love hate relationship with. I love the premise and core idea, but its application and end result always seem to disappoint. Of the first 8 episodes I have only really enjoyed 2, Episode 1.06 Man on the Street and 1.08 Needs, I find it interesting that the character I am most drawn to is Mellie (a.ka. November) played my Miracle Laurie. In 1.06 a rather interesting development in plot occurred. I can't say I hadn't predicted that it might be so, but I found the process by which they introduced the element was quite impressive. I am a little over Echo at this time and if it weren't for her handler and some of the themes being explored I would probably have given up watching weeks ago. I am not at all interested in her "missions", however the show seems to use her to draw the attention away from what essentially is prostitiuation against a persons will, by specifically avoiding sex or sexual situations on a larger scale. I am referring to stand alone episodes like 1.03, 1.05 or 1.07. I appreciate that they have dealt with some sexualisation of their dolls, obviously Sierra's handler raping her and the way that it has affected her since is interesting and shows that maybe the dolls arent completely free of emotion, not to mention that we have now learnt she is not in the dollhouse of her own free will. (Not that I would class Echo's cohearsion as free will)
My problem is that there are much larger questions or areas that could be explored and when I am delivered an episode like 1.05, I just lose all interest. The dollhouse plays much better as an ensemble piece....and presumably the writers seem to agree as we are getting mostly ensemble shows. I will continue watching Dollhouse on an episode by episode basis....given that there are only 13 I suppose I might as well watch them all, but it is going to take quite a bit to get me hooked in to dedicating my time much further....

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Easter...Praise be to Jebus

Well I hope everyone had a nice Easter break, I am certainly enjoying my 4 days off....plenty to write about in the coming days... watched a few movies:

The Gathering
Rules of Attraction
Harry and the Henderson's

Caught up with a few new TV episodes:

I've Never Seen Star Wars
Red Dwarf

ate a few Easter bunnies and eggs and started a flame war on facebook about Michael Bay. All in all a good weekend.

So, expect reviews of at least 2 of the 4 movies, I have started a post on Dollhouse and why I am in such a love hate relationship with it so that too will be immanent, and of course I shall vent my frustrations over Mr. Bay and his BAYSPLOSIONS a little later in the week too.....this is course after I have caught up on 4 days worth of work on Tuesday :P

Friday, April 10, 2009

Good Friday.............what's so good about it?

Happy Jesus Death Day

Honestly....I am surprised that even the big chains are closed on Good Friday, but they are open on Easter Sunday? How does that work?

Anyway to celebrate the death and supposed resurrection of our savior Jesus Christ, I thought I would return to my music from the movies posts. For you today is a live recording of the main theme to The Passion of the Christ, it was performed live on one of the many Tonight shows in the U.S, but I am unsure which. It is quite rare to find this type of choral work performed live and I am quite a fan, so I hope you enjoy it :)

Sorry, No Longer Available to Download

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Technology Rant

How is that with the rapid and constant development of technology, computer hardware gets smaller and faster, but software, and specifically mainstream operating systems get larger, more bloated, far less efficient and just plain rubbish?!

I have had the displeasure of using Vista for all of about 1/2 an hour and I cannot figure something out....

The computer components I am using are faster and more efficient than ever before, but the OS is more hardware dependent, seems far less efficient and is downright bloated? and the best part, is that I can't find any reason I would want to update to it from XP? Am I missing something, why is Vista the new toy?? Yes, I know this ship has sailed and very soon Windows 7 will be out and hurrah, its going to be better than Vista. (that really isn't saying much.)

But my logic is still pissed.... I mean XP should be able to run on a bloody Commodore 64, and Vista being all new and flashy should run on any system designed before its release, not require the absolute state of the art mother ship from some alien races secret supply of doohickeys just to install the goddamn thing!. Its like taking 2 steps forward only to takes 5 steps backwards. Another great example is formats like DVD, and now Blu-ray, these format holds up to 50 times the information of CDs, but the standard for recording on each almost requires that amount of space?!. In other words you can fit 2 hours of video in DVD-Video format on a single disc and that is it.

okay, got that out of my system.....

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Casper (1995)

It is interesting to revisit films that you have such fond memories of. I went to see Casper at an advanced screening with my Mother back in 1995, I was 15 years old so maybe just a little older (and only just) than the intended audience. I believe it was one of the first advanced screenings I had attended. I came out with a smile on my face and immediately went down the road to purchase James Horner's beautiful score on CD. I still think it is one of his best, even if it does borrow most of its themes from every movie he had scored prior, but enough about the music, the film appealed to me for a number of other reasons. The cast was good, I had a crush on Christina Ricci, I love Monty Python so I was pleased to see Eric Idle, Bill Pullman is always good and very underrated in most of his roles, Steven Spielberg produced it and I was a total fanboy, all of that and I am interested in Ghost Stories.

I never really watched Casper the TV series, so I wasn't too familiar with the character, I am still not sure to this day if it lived up to the expectations of people who were. I am pretty sure the film was not higely popular, but I do believe it made most of its money back.

Anyhow, I rewatched it on DVD the other day, the film has aged and of course with my current advanced watching state the film certainly had issues. Some huge, glaring holes and quite a number of "bloopers" that were more obvious to me now more than ever, yet, I still love the film. Sure it has sappy moments and predictable plot points, but it is one of the few movies from my childhood that actually has a heart. It tells a nice little story and it tells it quite well. The visual effects hold up surpisingly well, and this is back in the early 90's where CGI was only really just starting to take off. With a $40million dollar budget the movie was quite small by today's standards, so it is even more amazing to see what they accomplished with so little money....especially when 4 of the main characters do not exist outside the realm of a computer.

I love home theatres, and this film is a treat to watch in surround sound. Gary Rydstrom is a legend among sound designers. He is responsible for all bar 1 film that would appear in my top 10 list of awesome surround movies. (I will post that list sometime in the future...maybe) and his work here in impeccable. The DVD has both DTS and Dolby Digital options, if you have a DTS system I would strongly recommend using it.

The image quality on the disc was little worse for ware, I would love to see this on Blu-ray and I am hoping that it won't be too far away, but given how long it took to get its release on DVD I am not sure that it is a lead title.

Well, Casper keeps its place in my fond childhood memories, I forgive it its weaknesses so that I might maintain them.... Boo knows what I might think in 10 years time....(sad, I know) ;)