Wednesday, February 28, 2007


Dracula (2006)

Directed by: Bill Eagles
Written by: Stewart Harcourt, based on the novel by Bram Stoker
Starring: Marc Warren, Dan Stevens, Tom Burke, Stephanie Leonidas, David Suchet, Sophia Myles, Donald Sumpter, Rafe Spall, Benedick Blythe

Yet another film adaptation of The Dracula, this one being the Masterpiece Theatre production. It differs from the usual plot (not that there is a 'usual plot'. I'm just talking about the one used in the book and the Coppola version) in a number of ways.

First off, the Count is summoned to England by an evil cult (much like that one on Buffy, actually. You remember, the episode with Buffy's old crush from Elementary School who has cancer of whatever and talks Spike into... oh dear.).

Also, Jonathan gets killed in the first twenty minutes or so, and Arthur has syphilis (enabling him to take over the role of Renfield). And there's less Van Helsing than usual, which is kind of a good thing. Van Helsing is annoying. In this he was more of a sad old man who was kept locked in a basement than an irritating maniac. Don't get me wrong, I like the Hopkins performance. He plays and irritating maniac very well.

The biggest problem the movie had was it's being made for television. It could have been a lot worse (if it had been made by CBC, for example), but it just didn't have a very high budget. (The other problem was my inability to get over the aforementioned Coppola version. This goes off in a different direction both plotwise and also artistically, though, so that wasn't too bad)

I wasn't all that crazy about the actors. I didn't mind Sophia Myles or Dan Stevens (he was playing a crazy guy, and therefore earns extra points), and the guy playing Dracula did a pretty good job. He was no Gary Oldman, but then again, who is? (Other than Gary Oldman, of course, and even then, I'm a little unsure). I didn't find the other people that exciting, though.

Anyway, the whole thing had that BBC feel, with all of its weird cuts and such. Actually, the editing in the movie was pretty crazy. BBC crazy, which is a good kind of crazy. I actually liked those little snippets of grotesque imagery. They didn't spend enough time on any one thing, but that probably had something to do with time. Dracula is very long and very boring and it's got a lot of shit in it, so naturally, one has to cut stuff out and get right to the point.

I can't say I was very impressed with the sound editing et cetera. It was rather poor. Oh well.

The whole thing was just kind of... well, mediocre. It had good parts, but most of it was merely okay. I think perhaps it needed a bigger budget, and a huge star or two. You know, Brad Pitt or somebody. That'd be interesting.


Saturday, February 24, 2007

The Eye 2

Gin Gwai 2 (2004)

Directed by: The Pang Brothers
Written by: Jojo Hui
Starring: Qi Shu, Jesdaporn Pholdee (what a great name, huh?), Eugenia Yuan, Philip Kwok

Sequel to The Eye in title only. Yes, it's about ghosts which have a vague resemblance to the ones in The Eye, but it doesn't have much else to do with the first, except maybe in plot. They have a similar plot.

It's about a young woman who, after attempting suicide by overdosing on prescription drugs, gains the ability to see some freeky shit. She also finds herself haunted by this rather nasty ghost who wants to hurt her unborn baby, or so she thinks (Rosemary's Baby?).

Like in The Eye, the ghosts are frightening, and sometimes unbelievably grotesque (a woman with no face, for example, who seems intent upon staring at the main character in the back of a taxi. Or the people who jump off a tall building and lie on top of one another on the sidewalk, twitching and babbling at the lady), but not really evil, which I kind of like. It's a lot less upsetting in the long run than the unstoppable evil in say The Grudge or The Ring. It's also a hell of a lot more believable, too. How can one being be capable of pure evil? It's impossible. Okay, so maybe Samara is just a little... misguided. It seems unlikely, though.

I personally liked this one better than The Eye. It was scarier, had better production values and was more... I don't know, linear or something. It was on my wavelength. I dug it. And the music had definitely improved.

It was also kind of funny, in a weird way. She attempts suicide approximately five times during the course of the film, throwing herself off the roof twice. You'd think a woman who attempted suicide that many times and bit a man in the face wouldn't be allowed to just take her baby home. That seems a little weird to me. Of course, the guy she bit was really asking for it (and she didn't bite him anyway. They just thought she did).

Anyway, it was quite good, and benevolently scary. I want to see The Messengers all the more now.


The Libertine

The Libertine (2004)

Directed by: Laurence Dunmore

Written by:
Stephen Jeffreys based on his play

Starring: Johnny Depp, John Malkovich, Rosamund Pike, Tom Hollander, Samantha Morton, Richard Coyle

One of the duller movies I've seen. Nothing particularly interesting happened. In fact, either I wasn't paying attention (which is entirely possible), or nothing really happened at all.

It's about John Wilmot (called Johnny, just to keep it clear) and all of his little problems. It wasn't half as explicit as I thought it would be. What with the Prologue and all, I expected it to be a porn film. He goes on and on about how much he fucks, and I'm thinking 'I don't want to watch this', but then he doesn't. Apart from his fingering his wife, getting a blow job from a hooker, fucking an actress, watching an orgy in the park and writing a rather pornographic play, there's hardly any graphic sex in the movie at all. Nor does he have sex with men, as the Prologue would imply. Not unless stroking another guy's face for a while counts. He doesn't have sex with any goats either, though he doesn't say he's going to.

Mostly he just walks (more of a swagger, really) around drinking and dying of syphilis. In other words, he's like Jack Sparrow for grown-ups.

Now I shall give John Malkovich the obligatory kick in the head. Alright, his English accent started out sounding okay. I even thought to myself 'wow, John Malkovich's accents sounds okay'. By the end of the movie though it sounded more Russian than anything. Or, as usual, an accent he just made up. My God I dislike him. He's one of the most overrated actors, I swear to God. He's terrible in everything I see him in.

What else can I say... okay, syphilis. I don't know very much about syphilis other than it's an STD and it's really hard to spell. And it makes you go blind and crazy. I guess this movie provided a bit of... enlightenment, as it were, on that subject. Now I know that it is in fact fatal. I didn't know that before. Apparently, bits of you rot off too, and it's pretty crippling.

Um... a couple of other thoughts... ah yes, I liked the dark dark darkness of the movie, though I had a problem telling the characters apart. They all looked the same. It got particularly confusing when I kept thinking one of them was dead. Which of course he was. I just couldn't tell which one had snuffed it.

Also, the women. I couldn't tell which ones were actresses, which ones were whore and which one was his wife. They all looked the same to me. Maybe that's the point. I have no idea.

Anyway, it all just felt like and excuse for Johnny Depp to act weird and wear a different wig.


Thursday, February 22, 2007


Sleeper (1973)

Directed by: Woody Allen
Written by: Woody Allen and Marshall Brickman
Starring: Woody Allen, Diane Keaton, John Beck, Mary Gregory, Don Keefer, John McLiam, Bartlett Robinson

Woody Woody Woody's take on the science fiction genre. Yay. He plays his usual character who gets cryogenically frozen for 200 years and wakes up in 2173. It's a good, old-fashioned totalitarian society complete with a Leader what comes on the TV every night, automatic confessionals and sex machines (can I say Barbarella?). Anyway, he gets involved with an underground guerrilla terrorist organization (can I say Bananas?) intent on stealing the Leaders nose. Don't ask. Just don't ask.

SO. You've got your zany, absurdest Woody goodness. You've got your weird silent film chase scene goodness. You've got your science fiction goodness (though this may be an oxymoron, I'm not sure). And then there's the moronic factor, because it is pretty moronic. In a special Woody Allen way.

I guess it was pretty good. I dunno, it wasn't especially moving. It was funny enough. Diane Keaton's always good. I suppose. I just liked the part with Bela Lugosi. I'm that lame.

I saw The Eye of the Beholder yesterday, speaking of totalitarian, conformist governments (Eye of the Beholder being an old episode of The Twilight Zone). I'd read enough about that particular episode to know what The Twist was (and hey, it was kind of predictable. I mean, they didn't show anybody's face for the whole episode. Come on), but it was still kind of distressing. Those people were really ugly. I was always under the impression that it was an episode of The Outer Limits, but apparently I was wrong.

Um... let's see... what else can I babble about? I will not talk about my life, God dammit. I will not. Besides, it would interfere with my whole space fantasy.

Ah, lets talk about the morals of cryogenic freezing. Is it a good idea? Is it pointless? Is it completely immoral because we're supposed to die when God tells us to and not complain about it? I don't know. I wouldn't want to be frozen forever. It all comes back to what my friend says about cost. If I were to get frozen until they had the technology to revive me, my descendants would be stuck with the bills until that day came. My God, she's smart, isn't she?

Ugh, I sort of brought my life into it. I have friends! Though not very many. I am, in fact, a total bitch.

Okay, I'll stop.


Monday, February 19, 2007

The Creature Walks Among Us

The Creature Walks Among Us (1956)

Directed by: John Sherwood
Written by: Arthur A. Ross
Starring: Rex Reason, Jeff Morrow, Leigh Snowden, Gregg Palmer, Maurice Manson, James Rawley, Don Megowan, Ricou Browning

Worst Creature movie ever. The third and final film in the Creature from the Black Lagoon series, following Revenge of the Creature.

As you can imagine from the title, the Creature gets lungs in this movie. Yes, as it turns out, he had lungs this whole time, they just had to open them up. Why the hell they would want to make this hideous beast able to kill people on land, God only knows, but they did it. Turns out he really just wants to look after sheep.

I think I speak for all of us when I say "What the fuck?!". Nothing in this movie makes any sense! It's not even original enough to be interesting! But what the fuck do I know? I was talking through the whole damn thing. However, if I can babble about The Terminator all through a movie without even wanting to rewind it and see what I missed, it can't be that good.

The Creature was just completely pathetic, barely worth my sympathy. He barely does jack in the other two movies, but in this one he just mopes around feeling sorry for himself. There's no violence, god dammit! I want to see people getting beaten, mutilated and decapitated. Okay, so there's a bit of mutilation, and possibly a fire, I can't remember.

And the ending left something to be desired. And the lead guy was a dork. And the monster looked just like Marlon Brando. That's right. Colonel Kurtz. Swear to God.

And I don't know what to call him. The Creature could refer to anything. I'd like to call him gill-man, but he en't got gills in this movie, and lung-man just sounds stupid (not that gill-man is a great name). Maybe ex-gill-man. I guess that's sort of like being an ex-leper.

And the sub-plot is lame! Lame lame lame.

Stupid lung-man movie.


A Scanner Darkly

A Scanner Darkly (2006)

Written and Directed by: Richard Linklater, based on the novel by Philip K. Dick
Starring: Keanu Reeves, Winona Ryder, Robert Downey Jr., Rory Cochrane, Woody Harrelson

I would first like to say that Keanu Reeves was unusually good in this movie. It seems an important note, and I thought that I should get it out early on.

He plays and undercover cop in the near future who gets addicted to Substance D and completely loses his shit over the course of the film so he's a sort of anonymous nobody by the end. Poor boy.

The film is kind of hard to write about, seeing as I don't really have a strong opinion about it either way. We'll say that I'm confused. It certainly left an impression on me... I suppose the only thing to do is to break it down and analyze it piece by piece...

I've already said what I feel about Keanu Reeves. He should just stick to science fiction movies, I mean, really. This was about his best performance since The Matrix, swear to God. Anyway, I loved the animation. It was actually quite unsettling, and complimented the hallucinogenic drugginess of the film. Everything looked like it was floating.

The rest of the cast was really great too. The last time I saw Winona Ryder I think was in Dracula (huh, Keanu and Winona... Jonathan and Mina... substance D... your friend... interesting). I've missed her.

Also, the whole thing was brimming with juicy sci-fi goodness. Like those helter skelter suits. I thought they were cool. Mind you, Mr. Dick's works have created the inspiration for some of the more interesting science fiction pictures, Blade Runner being the most important, but Total Recall and Minority Report are pretty damn good too (though I wouldn't put them in that order).

I thought it was pretty well written, and dammit, druggies are funny. Especially druggies covered in buggies. HA!!! It's kind of scary, too, in a weird way. Very paranoid. Everybody's watching everybody else. It had some really amusing lines in it (like "It starred Leonardo DiCaprio, before he went into his Elvis phase". I can imagine Leo having an Elvis phase in the near future.

I did think one or two of the scenes were a little... long, and one of the people I was watching it with was making bored noises all through the last half hour, which was a bit irritating. That isn't the movie's fault.

And what an ending. Jeez. It has all the makings of one of the great cult films of the '00s. It's just so... bizarre. I've spent a lot of time thinking about it over the last couple of days. It's hard to say that I liked it, what with the rather distressing subject matter, but it was certainly an awesome film. Nice and dark. It had the look of a video game somehow... I think there's a game that uses that crazy style of animation. Did I mention how cool that was? It was the greatest thing. So freaky. So beautiful.

I liked the bugs, too. Philip K. Dick obviously doesn't though. I've only actually read one of his stories (heh...) but that was about bugs. Bugs and bugs and bugs...


Sunday, February 11, 2007

The Wicker Man

The Wicker Man (2006)

Written and Directed by: Neil LaBute, based on the 1973 screenplay by Anthony Shaffer, based on the novel Ritual by Anthony Shaffer and David Pinner
Starring: Nicholas Cage, Kate Beahan, Ellen Burstyn, Diane Delano, Molly Parker, Leelee Sobieski, Mary Black, Christine Willes, Erika-Shaye Gair

Dear me. This was startlingly dull. Nothing happens. At all. Honest. Well, not until the end, at least.

It's about a police officer, disturbed by witnessing the death of a woman and her daughter, who gets a letter from his ex-fiance who lives on this crazy little island saying that her kid's been taken by the local religious cult. He spends the next hour and a half running around this island (a real purdy island, at that) looking for the little girl and getting stung by bees all for nothing.

Okay, okay, okay. I admit. I sometimes like movies where nothing happens, as long as they're scary enough to make up for it (in this case anyway. I mean, The Royal Tenenbaums isn't especially frightening, but you get my point, hopefully), but this isn't even that. The only scares in the movie aren't scary. They feel artificial and fabricated. Kind of as if they noticed that there was nothing even mildly disturbing in the whole movie, so they just stuck some shit in there at random. It's sad, really.

And yeah, I guess a cult of psychopathic feminist bitches who sacrifice people to the Bee God are scary to dirty little men with some serious phobias about women (and bees, I might add), but I thought they had a point. Anyone one with their sex organs on the outside needs to die (or at least live their whole lives mute). Duh.

It sort of gets into it's groove about 20 minutes prior to the end of the movie, going down the path of the weird and unusual, which is kind of interesting, but makes me wonder where was the weird before? Eh.

Nicholas Cage, whom I sometimes like, was particularly bad in this. I liked the part where they burned him. I thought that was just the greatest thing ever.

Some of the women in the movie were pretty good. Ellen Burstyn, of course. It wasn't a great role, and I would've rather watched Chris Lee, but hey, she's good. Mind you, I can't really watch Frances Conroy. She is and always will be Ruthie to me, I'm sorry (kind of a bitch, 'cause she's in every fucking thing).

I liked The Twist, too. That was great. I certainly didn't see THAT coming. I haven't seen the original, mind (I did notice that a couple of the characters were named after Edward Woodward, though). The problem with The Twist was that once you know what it is, you start to think about how irrational the behaviour of the cultists was up 'til that point.

I watched both the regular, mundane ending and the shocking alternate one, and I must say that I preferred the shocking alternate one, not that there was much difference. The regular one was longer and stupider. I guess the shocking part of the shocking ending was that you get to SEE guy getting his legs broken. Oh, and the part with the bees...

"AHHHHHHH!!!! Not the BEES!!! They're in my eyes!!! MY EYES!!!!!!" Man, that was funny.


Saturday, February 10, 2007

The Innocents

The Innocents (1961)

Directed by: Jack Clayton
Written by: Truman Capote & William Archibald, based on The Turn of the Screw by Henry James
: Deborah Kerr, Pamela Franklin, Martin Stephens, Megs Jenkins, Peter Wyngarde, Isla Cameron, Michael Redgrave, Clytie Jessop

Okay, that truly was bizarre. About a young lady who comes to this crazy old house to be the governess to a couple of orphaned children. While she's there, she sort of goes nuts and decides that the house is haunted by two dead servants who are possessing the children.

It manages to be extremely fucking creepy without really showing you anything. Actually, that's a bit of an understatement, what with the spooky faces looming out of the darkness and shit. Man, that freaked me out.

The whole thing has that black and white thing going for it. Shadows and all that, you know. A lot like it's counterpart, The Haunting (I say counterpart because they were made around the same time, they're equally creepy, and they represent the two different haunted house stories).

Deborah Kerr is really scary. Scarier than the creepy kids, scarier than the ghosts. She's also quite beautiful, that Deb. Sigh...

Anyway, the kids are quite good, which is important. If the kids suck, than you might as well just give up. Pamela Franklin grew up to do battle with Hell House.

The movie had just about everything going for it. It had the atmosphere, it had the substance, it had British accents. I just love those British accents, especially when they call each other "Dear" and "my pet" all the time. It's just so fucking precious.

I mean, there's only so much you can do with a haunted house story, as there really only are two (this one being in the same vein as, say, The Changeling and The Others, which is practically the same movie. This one doesn't have The Twist, though... I'm not going to reveal The Twist, as tempting as it is. I'll just elbow my fellow members of The Others club and have a chuckle at the expense of the uninitiated), but this one does everything it's supposed to. And, as I've hinted at, it's pretty scary. Not scary, but creepy. I can't think of another synonym for creepy today. I apologize.

Of course, this one's sort of ambiguous about whether or not the house is really haunted, managing to maintain this ambiguousness to the end and beyond, which is a difficult feat. No, even at the end you aren't sure if the house is actually haunted or if she's just psychotic. Of course, I believe strongly in the undead, so I'd be on the side of the house being haunted, but there are probably some unimaginative realists out there who would disagree with me. Mind you, it is stated at the beginning that she is an imaginative woman... I could sit here and analyze the damn thing all day, but I've got more important things to do. Actually, I don't, but I can pretend.

Moving on from my real life, and struggling to get back on topic... I don't really like staying on topic. Have you noticed that? That's the reason for all of those crazy parenthetical remarks I stick in all over the place. That and I really like brackets. They're some of the coolest punctuation there is. I especially like square brackets. [][][][][]][][][][]

Fuck. I liked this movie, and I recommend it to anybody who hasn't seen it yet. It's a nice, light ghosty story. I mean light as in bloodless and not heartstoppingly terrifying, like, say, The Grudge. God I hate that movie. I guess that's be the third kind of haunted house movie. I en't read The Turn of the Screw yet, but I mean to. I mean to do a lot of things. I mean to get a job. Ha! As if.


Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Blood and Chocolate

Blood and Chocolate (2007)

Directed by: Katja von Garnier
Written by: Ehren Kruger & Christopher Landon, based on the novel by Annette Curtis Klause
Starring: Agnes Bruckner, Hugh Dancy, Oliver Martinez, Katja Riemann, Bryan Dick

Being the second part of my Superbowl double feature. I've read some really bad reviews of this movie, but I figured, hey, what the fuck, so I went to see it anyway.

It's about a young werewolf who is promised to the leader of her pack but falls in love with a human and all kinds of complications arise.

I would say that the story wasn't very well paced. Most of it is agonizingly slow, and they repeat a lot of stuff. It seemed kind of like the creators weren't really working together the whole time, and everybody had a different idea as to what the movie was about. It seemed to be a Romeo & Juliet story mixed with political whatnot, and a story about a graphic novelist, and a study of werewolf culture, and a horror movie, and an action movie. So it was all very confused.

Also, the characters weren't very well developed, being two dimensional stereotypes, and most of the actors were painful to watch particularly Oliver Martinez and Agnes Bruckner. She was just dull.

Now, I liked the fact that they went Back to Bucharest, so to speak, setting the whole thing in Romania (well, almost the whole thing. There's about two and a half minutes worth of flashback set in the Rockies or something, but whatever). It appeared to be shot in Romania, which is cool, though there weren't really that many Romanian people in it. I guess Oliver Martinez was supposed to be from there? I have no idea.

And there were some pretty nifty scenes. Wolves chasing a drug dealer through the woods. Beautiful. And GODDAMMIT, they were actually wolves! Not fucking CGI monstrosities that look more like apes than anything. The transformation effects were kind of cool, too.

I liked the mythology of the werewolf, too. Or the loup-garou. (Sure, that's how that's spelled...) Whatever you want to call them. That was the best thing about the Underworld movies (which were, produced by the same people what produced this one). They called them lycans in that one... interesting. Werewolf is a silly word anyway. Not half as sexy as vampire. Vampire. It's got a V in it and everything.

I liked Bryan Dick, too. I thought he was good and creepy. A creepy pretty boy with nifty eyeballs. His character was a shitty little worm, though, and hey, he was just like that guy in Underworld... you know the one. That dweezle what works for Bill Nighy... or Michael Sheen... or whatever... this Bryan guy was better though. And English! He gets extra points for that.


Monday, February 5, 2007

Pan's Labyrinth

El Laberinto del Fauno (2007)

Written and Directed by
: Guillermo del Toro

Starring: Ivana Banquero, Sergi López, Maribel Verdú, Ariadna Gil, Álex Angulo, Doug Jones, Roger Casamajor

It has long been a Superbowl tradition for my mother and I to rescue each other from my father's Superbowl party. Usually we go see a movie. Last year we went to see Underworld: Evolution. This year we went to see a double feature, starting with Pan's Labyrinth. My apologies for not having written this review earlier. Between recovery, socialization and going to a free show of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, I've been rather busy. Anyway, I'm doing it now.

Labyrinth is the story of a young girl who lives with her pregnant mother and evil stepfather in Spain in 1944. Then she meets this Faun in the labyrinth out back who sends her off on a series of tasks to prove that she is actually the reincarnation of the lost princess from his world.

Of course, that description sort of makes it sound like a fantasy. It's really more about the Spanish Civil War than anything. The girl's evil stepfather is kind of obsessed with destroying the guys camped out in the hills, and does all manner of nasty things to them. There are some pretty unpleasant torture scenes. Nothing particularly graphic, but it's hinted at.

So the whole thing almost feels like two movies. The harsh, cruel war movie and the dark, surrealist fantasy into which the heroine escapes. The stuff in the fantasy world is pretty scary and revolting. Particularly that dude with the eyes on his hands. Holy shit, that was messed up. But it wasn't as bad as the 'real world'. At least the girl had a place and a purpose in the fantasy world.

Anyway, there are a lot of things that I could say about the story. It was an interesting blend of several different myths. But what really got my attention was the nifty art direction.

Everything was so dark and moody! It was great. It is kind of difficult to look at the movie and read the subtitles at the same time, but I managed. I can understand enough Spanish to sort of get by anyway.

The Labyrinth was right spooky (if strangely reminiscent of the Labyrinth in Harry Potter. From what I read, Guillermo was asked to do Prisoner of Alcatraz or whatever that movie's called, but he turned it down and it went to his buddy Alfonso Cuaron, who produced this movie. Hey, it's a circle! w00t!), and Pan looked really cool. He looked like he grew out of the ground a long, long time ago or something. And dammit, he creaked! It was great. The hand-eye guy (played by the same dude what played the Faun) was also pretty cool looking. That was a damn good make-up job.

I think it deserves all of the Oscars it was nominated for, except maybe best screenplay. I dunno. There didn't seem to be a lot of... well... dialogue in the whole thing. I don't know, maybe some of the wit got lost in translation. Who knows. They kept all the cussin'. Maybe give Ivana Banquero a Best Actress nomination to make up for it. She was good.


Saturday, February 3, 2007

Lady in the Water

Lady in the Water (2006)

Written and Directed by: M. Night Shyamalan

Starring: Paul Giamatti, Bryce Dallas Howard, Cindy Cheung, June Kyoko Lu, M. Night Shyamalan, Sarita Choudhury, Bob Balaban, Jeffrey Wright, Bill Irwin, Mary Beth Hurt, Noah Gray-Cabey, Freddy Rodriguez

Well, I liked it. Okay, so it wasn't particularly fantastic, some of it was pretty lame and I saw IT coming, but it was okay.

The plot is about a sea nymph who comes to our world in order to inspire a guy to write a book that will inspire some other guy to save the Universe or something. I didn't really get that part. Anyway, then there are these nasty beasties out to get her and shit while she waits for an Eagle to come pick her up (I don't know how it had time between fighting Nazgul and rescuing Sam and Frodo...) I didn't think the whole mythology part was too interesting, or believable for that matter. Dammit, I want my weird-ass fantasy bullshit to be believable.

First of all, I have a hard time accepting that this ethereal, extremely dignified creature who has such a proper way of speaking that she doesn't even use contractions could stand to be called a Narf. I mean, really. I wouldn't stand to be called a Narf, and I'm a dirty little human (I could probably name one of my kids Narf, though).

The whole thing is so obviously made up, too. According to the movie, it's an old, Chinese bedtime story or something. You know, the traditional Chinese mythology about Narfs and Scrunts.

Anyway, if you sort of go with the whole thing and pretend it makes sense, I guess it could come off as a relatively entertaining fairytale. The other stuff in the movie is okay. There were some pretty quirky characters in there. Like a guy who pumps up only one side of his body. (I was briefly confused to see Rico with one massive arm (I just finished watching season five of Six Feet Under, by the way. JESUS FUCK, what a way to end a show. Man. (I won't go into details. Even I am not that cruel)))

Moving on from The Show (second best show ever. I guess), Bryce Dallas Howard was freaky as hell. She didn't look human. I guess that was sort of the point, but Jeezuz. What a terrible haircut. Paul Giamatti was cute though. Heh heh. Milk.

I thought it was kind of lame for M. to cast himself as the super duper important guy. I mean, come on.

Not that that matters. Speaking of M., this had all the usual things that make an M. movie irritating. The maddening camera angles. The maddening plot. Mind you, it didn't have the maddening twist at the end like so many of his movies. It was more like in Signs where everything just sort of fits together at the end. Unfortunately, I saw the fit coming, and wasn't surprised or impressed.

I didn't buy that buddy's family got killed. I thought that was pretty cheap, but what the hell. It didn't come up too often. His movies are often kind of cheap like that too...

The monster was pretty cool, though. Very Miyazaki. It was called a Scrunt, but okay.

I thought the whole bit with the film critic who kind of fucks things up for everybody was kind of funny, seeing as critics routinely bash Shyamalan's films. He was a dork and got et by Scrunt. Film critics are probably the lowest form of life...

ANYWAY, it was all pretty... uh... enchanting. I hate that word when used in that particular context, but it's the most appropriate one I could think of. I enjoyed it. It let me feel briefly like a little kiddliwink. It was nice.


Friday, February 2, 2007

Curse of the Cat People

 Curse of the Cat People (1944)

Directed by: Gunther von Fritsch and Robert Wise
Written by: DeWitt Bodeen
Starring: Ann Carter, Simone Simon, Kent Smith, Jane Randolph, Julia Dean, Elizabeth Russell, Sir Lancelot, Eve March

As far as I can tell, Val Lewton did not want to make a sequel to Cat People. It shows. Not that this movie is bad. It's actually pretty good. It just doesn't seem to have anything to do with anything.

Okay, yeah, so it's the same boring American couple from the first movie, and yeah, Irena's ghost shows up (though in this one she's more French than Serbian. Go figure), but there aren't any Cat People, and there doesn't seem to be a Curse.

It has more to do with a desperately lonely and antisocial little girl who lives in her head, and makes friends with the ghost of her father's first, dead wife, as well as an aged actress who lives with her hateful daughter.

The girl in the leading role is a pretty good actress, and I liked her. I usually don't like kids in movies, but she was weird and kind of sparkly. She hit a guy for killing a butterfly, I mean, how cooler can you get?

Her parents were dull, American and painfully bourgeois (one of my favourite words, after 'stuff', 'things' and 'extortion'), and her dad was an evil asshole who liked model boats way too much. But the dead wife was still cool (she was cool when she was alive, too, but she seemed to get nicer when she died).

It was a sweet, charming little movie, all from the point of view of a child, which was cool. Usually childishly sweet movies make me nauseous, but this one touched me for some reason. Maybe it was the presence of a dead woman, I don't know.

Of course, that was just one part of the movie. It was all over the place, really. There was the old actress, who is convinced that her daughter died at the age of six and that the woman living with her is an impostor. Then there's the parents trying to cope with the rather traumatizing death of the husbands first wife (he didn't really love her, but she did kill a guy and turn into a panther). Then there's the fact that the whole thing is set in like, Sleepy Hollow or some shit. What the hell was that about? And, of course, the creepy, creepy butler. Okay, he wasn't creepy in the traditional creepy butler sense, but he freaked me out. I'm sorry.

I thought most of that stuff was kind of unnecessary. I'd've liked it to be just about the little girl and the dead cat woman, but that's okay. The other stuff works on some level. It's tolerable, anyway.

As a sequel to Cat People, I guess it fails miserably, but as a stand alone movie, it was quite good. Maybe if they had a different title... anyway, it still had the sort of moody tone and spiffy shadows, so what the hell. It's a good companion piece to Cat People anyway. It sort of shows the nicer side to everything. I guess. It was sweet.

How can I write this while avoiding cheesy sentimentality? It's very difficult...


((There, that solved everything))

Cat People

Cat People (1942)

Directed by: Jacques Tourneur
Written by: DeWitt Bodeen
Starring: Simone Simon, Kent Smith, Jane Randolph, Tom Conway

Another one of those Val Lewton produced semi-horror flicks from the '40s. Most of them are widely regarded as some of the best horror flicks ever. I didn't think too much of I Walked with a Zombie, but this one was pretty good. It was bizarre, but interesting, and a better werewolf movie (yes, this counts as a werewolf movie. I should probably say werecat, though) than The Wolf Man.

Wolf Man had more horror in it, and better transformation FX. It showed a lot more. However, Simone Simon is a bit better than Junior, and the lack of graphic terror (well, graphic for the day) is sort of better.

It's about a young Serbian woman (that was a little weird. I thought she was French, but okay) who falls in love with this American guy. Unfortunately, she's one of the legendary Cat Women of the Serbian mountains, who have a tendency to kill their lovers. American Guy decides she's crazy and sends her to a rather slutty psychiatrist while he fools around with his co-worker and true love. Cat Woman don't like that too much, and attempts to kill the boring all American girlie.

Oddly enough, I was actually interested in what was going on. Irena (the werecat) was kind of appealing in a weird way. She had levels, and I sort of liked her, even though she was on the psychotic side. I thought everything she did was perfectly justified.

Yeah, I thought American Guy (who looked distressingly like Liev Schreiber. He didn't have the oh, so sexy voice, though. Simone Simon looked a lot like Reese Witherspoon, too) was a total dweeb, and American Girl deserved to drown in that damn pool, and the Slutty Psychiatrist was a little too... well... slutty, but that was okay. I liked Catwoman.

But enough about that. The whole thing looked pretty good, some nice use of shadows, particularly in the pool scene. Ah, the pool scene. Anyway, it was all very moody and atmospheric. Mind you, nothing HAPPENS in the entire movie, but I didn't mind. I liked the character enough so that I wasn't really paying attention to that.

Yeah... Anyway, I en't seen the remake yet, but I can see the potential in this one. It sort of got me, in a weird way.

So I guess I tolerated the overwhelming dullness of Jane Randolph and Kent Smith (whose character was named Oliver Reed. How weird is that?). Yeah, Tom Conway was slutty but I kind of liked him. He's a funny little man, with a funny little mustache (which I have, of course, already mentioned in my review of I Walked with a Zombie, in which he played... Mr. Rochester, I guess (fear my merciless plugging of my own product)).

I liked very much. I think Cat People are actually a bit more interesting than werewolves, I'm sorry. Poor old werewolves. They're a little old. I mean, The Fly is probably twice as interesting as some of the sad, self-pitying werewolves out there.