Friday, August 27, 2010

Why does the cat always get it?

Watched The Last Exorcism last night. As PG-13 Blair Witch rip-offs go, it wasn't bad. It has a nicely creepy atmosphere and a good cast. Patrick Fabian is especially good as the charismatic preacher out to prove exorcisms are a sham, and Ashley Bell is convincing as Nell, the girl who may or may not be possessed, even though she looks too old to play a sixteen year old.
The film eschews CGI and extensive makeup (a refreshing change in a horror movie) creating scares by what we don't see, especially in the disturbing scene where a sleepwalking Nell borrows the documentary crew's camera and goes on a naked rampage that includes killing a cat (poor kitty).
Unfortunately, after building up all this suspense, the film fizzles out with a ridiculous left-field ending that is part Wicker Man, part Rosemary's Baby. It really has to be seen to be believed (and be confused by). Worth watching, but don't expect a coherent plot.

Friday, August 20, 2010

They took my penis!

Had to screen Piranha 3D at work last night. I love a good bad horror movie and this was one of the best of recent years. It was even more fun than My Bloody Valentine 3D and almost as crowdpleasing as Snakes on a Plane. The film doesn't really take much from the original Joe Dante version apart from the basic impression of piranha eating everyone in sight. It's a return to old school cheesy horror, with copious amounts of boobs and blood and little logic (apparently everyone can hold their breath underwater for 20 minutes or more).
Aside from the spectacular 3D gore and self-mocking humour, the film's main draw is the surprisingly solid cast, which includes Elisabeth Shue, Christopher Lloyd, Jerry O'Connell, Ving Rhames and Richard Dreyfuss (in a cameo that will make any Jaws fan smile). Every horror fan needs to see it, if only to witness the piranha attack that results in the line quoted above. Highly recommended trash.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Scott Pilgrim sneak review!

Got to watch Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World last night (can't reveal how I got to see it early). As a big fan of Edgar Wright's films (and not such a fan of Michael Cera) I wasn't sure if I could overcome my apathy to the star and enjoy it. The first 20 minutes or so were a little rough, with the film trying a little too hard to be quirky (and Cera at his most, uh, Ceraish). However, once Scott has his hilarious duel with the first of Ramona Flower's (the lovely Mary Elizabeth Winstead) evil exes, the film grabbed me and never let go.
The film is basically a love letter to geekdom, primarily vintage video games. Wright has created a visually spectacular fantasy world that looks like nothing you have ever seen on film, with bad guys bursting into coins when they die. Every frame has something cool or off the wall going on. The jokes and the action fly thick and fast, and the supporting cast is excellent (even Cera became less annoying as the movie progressed). The standout sequence has to be Brandon Routh as a none too bright Vegan superman. He really needs more work. This is also one of the few scenes where Scott seems in peril (most of the duels are pretty much a cakewalk).
The film builds to a great ending that had me wishing I could insert more coins to continue. Hopefully this won't fall victim to the same problem as Kick Ass, namely being too hip for the masses. The only disappointment: where the hell were Simon Pegg and Nick Frost?

Friday, August 06, 2010


Inception is the latest in a long line of movies in one of my favourite genres, namely the “mind fuck” movie. Below you’ll find a list of other great movies that will mess with your head, but first my Inception review.
Along with Toy Story 3, it was my great hope for the summer, and for the most part it doesn’t disappoint. Christopher Nolan takes the complex plotting of Memento and combines it with the action filmmaking he learned on the Batman films to create that rarity – an action movie that makes you think.
The film grabbed me right from the beginning with a mysterious opening followed by a dream within a dream sequence that sets up the world of the movie perfectly. This is essentially a heist movie, but one where the prize is stealing (or later on, putting an idea into) the mind of a captive dreamer. It’s a testament to Nolan’s skill as a writer and director that I accepted this reality almost immediately.
A likeable ensemble cast backs up the always reliable Leonardo DiCaprio (as the traumatized Cobb), with each member of his team bringing a different skill into play in the dream world. The haunting imagery is at its finest in the limbo world that Cobb and his dead wife created, a world where giant skyscrapers crumble apart at will.
The action highlight of the film is a car chase in the first level of the dream world that leads to a hotel fight in the second level. One of Nolan’s inspired ideas is that when the dreamers are in freefall it removes gravity from the dream level below them. This results in a stunning zero G fight scene between Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s character and sinister agents that are projections of the subconscious mind attacking the intruders.
The only slight disappointment is that the next level of the dream turns out to be a James Bond style snowmobile chase on a mountain (why, it’s never exactly clear). The generic action distracts from the movie’s themes – it would have been better if Nolan had given us a more surreal dreamscape for this section of the movie.
Minor quibbles aside, the film recovers for an ending that manages to be both emotionally and intellectually satisfying. Cobb has his dream of reuniting with his children fulfilled, but the final shot leaves it up to the audience to decide whether this happy reunion is real or just another level of the dream.
It’s refreshing to see such an intelligent movie succeed at the box office. While Nolan has his faults as a filmmaker (his films tend to be overlong and, aside from a few quips, lacking in humour) he’s beginning to live up to the hype that he may just be the next Stanley Kubrick. Inception is a film that you want to see again as soon as it's over.

10 Must-See Mindfuck movie:

2001: A Space Odyssey - Kubrick laid the groundwork for all "WTF?" endings to follow
Eraserhead - David Lynch has never been weirder or more disturbing
Videodrome - Of the many mind bending Cronenberg films, this is possibly the best
Total Recall - how could I not include this when it actually has "mindfuck" in the dialogue? This even beats Blade Runner in capturing the twists of Phillip K. Dick's work
Jacob’s Ladder - a brilliant movie with an ending that outdoes the latter Sixth Sense
Cube - the thinking person's Saw
12 Monkeys - more accessible than the equally head trippy Brazil. One of Gilliam's best
Dark City - does what The Matrix did but it did it first and better
Fight Club - the first rule of Fight Club is . . .
Vanilla Sky - more intellectually stimulating than a Tom Cruise movie has any right to be