Monday, January 28, 2008

3:10 to Yuma

3:10 to Yuma (2007)

Directed by: James Mangold
Written by: Halsted Welles, Michael Brandt & Derek Haas based on the short story by Elmore Leonard
Starring: Russell Crowe, Christian Bale, Logan Lerman, Ben Foster, Dallas Roberts, Peter Fonda, Gretchen Mol, Alan Tudyk, Luce Rains, Lennie Loftin, Vinessa Shaw, Luke Wilson

Western about an outlaw (I think he's a bank robber? I wasn't really paying attention) who gets caught and has to be taken somewhere to catch the 3:10 to Yuma. I don't know, they're taking him from Point A to Point B, that's all that matters. Anyway, his buddies are following him and causing all kinds of trouble.

It's a little bit bogus - I mean, the cold hearted killer who doesn't really seem to give a shit about anybody turns out to not only be a really great guy on the inside but also stands for American values. Fuck off.

But anyway, once I got into it (and it took me a little while), I kind of enjoyed it. I have a soft spot in my heart for the Western (or maybe just John Wayne, I'm not sure. I really like John Wayne).

Okay, nobody makes Westerns like the Italians (or the Japanese), but this was pretty good, if a little bit America-y. It was very well done, nice scenery, and it had a good bit of old west action. You know, there was a shoot out at the end and all. That was great.

The biblical quotes got on my nerves a little bit, but there weren't too many of them. Christian Bale and Russell Crowe were both very good. I couldn't understand most of what he was saying, but it sounded sexy.

The cowboy look is good on him, I must say. Christian Bale looked like a lizard with a beard, nothing anybody can do about that, but Russell Crowe did look good in a cowboy hat. Russellrussellrussellrussellrussell. Maybe if I say his name enough times I can summon him. That'd be cool.

I like Russell Crowe better than John Wayne. And, yeah, Christian Bale was good too. I'm sorry I said he looks like a lizard, but... well, he kind of does. Nothing wrong with that. I love lizards.

And hey, Ben Foster plays a psycho. Groovee.

Anyway, yep, I enjoyed the movie pretty good (what? oh well), pretty good western. Not a lot of old-timey westerns come out these days (isn't there one out with Brad Pitt or something? I dunno, it's got a really long title. And I still think Clive Owen should do one. Like, Shoot Em Up, but really a western. But that's just me).


The Condemned

The Condemned (2007)

Directed by: Scott Wiper
Written by: Scott Wiper & Rob Hedden
Starring: Steve Austin, Vinnie Jones, Robert Mammone, Victoria Mussett, Madeleine West, Manu Bennett, Masa Yamaguchi, Rick Hoffman, Christopher Baker, Samantha Healy, Emelia Burns, Dasi Ruz, Marcus Johnson, Andy McPhee, Rai Fazio

Right-o. This movie was made by WWE. It shows. Steve Austin is a wrestler. That also shows. Man, that guy's neck is huge.

Ten prisoners from various third world prisons are purchased by an internet reality show, put on an island and told that the last person standing at the end of 30 hours will be set free.

That sounds like a really BAD IDEA to me, I'm sorry. Take ten ruthless, psychotic motherfuckers; murderers, rapists, arsonists, make them fight each other until only the baddest, evilest, craziest motherfucker remains, then release him into the world. Fuck.

Anyway, our hero, Stone Cold Steve Austin, ends up on the island, only he's not a psycho motherfucker, he's a government agent who ended up in a prison in El Salvador or somewhere after blowing up a drug lord. Or something. Whatever.

Needless to say, he wins and kicks the ass of the evil motherfucker what organized the whole thing.

I don't even need to go into why this movie is a stupid, offensive piece of American propaganda. It doesn't even really make sense really. It seems like it's making a statement about something, but I'm not really sure what it is. "Isn't it disgusting that people would watch this on the internet" doesn't work because people are watching the movie...

Well, anyway. It can easily be dismissed as just a stupid, stupid, stupid fucking action movie, but it's not really that interesting. I mean, it would be fine to root for one of the contestants, but none of them were really worth it.

Okay, I was rooting for the Mexicans, and then the Japanese guy (he was cool), but I knew they were going to get wasted so it wasn't really that interesting.

I was pretty much just waiting for them to get on with it. I already knew exactly what was going to happen in the movie after about three minutes, I was just waiting for them to actually DO it.

The violence wasn't even that great. I couldn't see half of it. If I'm going to watch a movie about a bunch of guys hitting and torturing each other, I don't want any of that handheld stuff. I can't SEE it. Of course, I could just go watch WWE. But that's not going to happen.


Creepshow 3

Creepshow III (2006)

Directed by: Ana Clavell & James Glenn Dudelson
Written by: Ana Clavell; Alex Ugelow; Pablo C. Pappano; James Glenn Dudelson; Scott Frazelle
Starring: Emmett McGuire, Stephanie Pettee, A.J. Bowen, Camille Lacey, Kris Allen, Michael Madrid, Magi Avila, Ben Pronsky, Ryan Carty, Bo Kresic, Greg McDougall, Elwood Carlisle, Roy Abramsohn, Cara Cameron, Elina Madison, Akil Wingate, Susan Schramm, Bunny Gibson, Matt Fromm

Another Creepshow picture, this one doesn't seem to have anything to do with Stephen King or George Romero (speaking of whom, I watched the trailer for his new movie online the other day - Cloverfield much? But anyway...).

Part 1 is about an evil/magic TV remote which turns an obnoxious teenage girl into a pus dripping monster and then a white rabbit. Part 2 is about an evil/magic radio which tells a security guard to rob a pimp or something. Part 3 is about a call girl who murders her clients and then runs into a vampire. Part 4 is about a nerdy professor who invites his former students to meet his young fiancé - they discover that she is in fact a robot and hack her up looking for the 'off' switch. Only then do they realize she is in fact a mail-order bride with short term memory loss or something. Part 5 is about a man who gives a dirty hot dog to a homeless person, killing him (cos, you know, if you eat anything that touched the ground, it'll kill you instantly). Then the homeless guy comes back to get revenge or something.

While the first two Creepshow movies were kind of cheap and dumb, this one seemed to be totally incompetent. It was badly directed, edited, acted, shot and written, so much so that some parts of it didn't even make sense. I gather it was made for TV or something, so that has a bit to do with it, but I've made better movies, really.

That being said, the way they sort of tied the stories together was kind of cool. All the segments appear to be set in the same Universe, and there's a bit of crossover. A little sloppy maybe, but an interesting idea.

Also, I don't know if the stories were getting better or my brain was getting dumber, but the last couple of parts were mildly amusing. The first two were kind of awful, almost unbearably bad, but they got a little bit better as they went on.

I don't know. Not really a very good movie at all, not really a worthy sequel to the other ones and not something I would recommend watching voluntarily, but, suppose you just happened to be watching it, say it was on TV and you couldn't change the channel (I'm not sure where I'm going with this...), um, I guess if you can make it to the second half without killing yourself... right? Sure.

My brain doesn't work. Hey!


Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Kiss of the Vampire

Kiss of the Vampire (1963)

Directed by: Don Sharp
Written by: Anthony Hinds
Starring: Edward de Souza, Noel Willman, Clifford Evans, Jennifer Daniel, Barry Warren, Jaquie Wallis, Peter Madden, Vera Cook, Isobel Black

Hammer vampire movie, might as well be a Dracula picture (the main guy's name was 'Harcourt'), about an English couple who run into a family of vampires living in Germany. The woman gets 'initiated into the cult' or whatever and the guy has to team up with the local vampire killer and rescue her and stuff.

It seems to be the basic plot they used in The Fearless Vampire Killers. A lot of the stuff was sort of the same.

Anyway, the vampire dude in this one was so much like Christopher Lee it was kind of creepy. He had the same hair. Weird. I gather this was when Christopher Lee wasn't making Dracula pictures for whatever reason.

It wasn't quite as good as one of their Dracula pictures, I guess probably because it didn't have Lee or Cushing in it, but it still had nice sets and costumes and a few little quirky bits. The acting wasn't especially good, though.

It had about the coolest ending ever though. Van Helsing (or whatever) summons the forces of evil to destroy the vampires and then, like, all these bats come and eat them or something. Totally retarded. I loved it. Every movie should end like that.

I mean, the bats just take them out. It was truly awesome.

Another disturbing element, as my friend Mr. Blue pointed out, the vampire cult (cos everybody knows that all vampires are Satanists. And for some reason they sit in a massage line) was remarkably like the Jehovah's Witnesses. You know, "join our creepy cult" and all that stuff. Same thing.

I have a sort of fear of Jehovah's Witnesses, always have. I used to be scared they were going to come to my house. Not so much with the Mormons. I kinda like the Mormons. Maybe I'll convert. That'd put a spoke in their wheel.

Off topic again. I am easily distracted. I guess I've talked about this movie enough, I can stop now.


Sunday, January 20, 2008

Shoot Em Up

Shoot 'Em Up (2007)

Written and Directed by: Michael Davis
Starring: Clive Owen, Monica Bellucci, Paul Giamatti, Stephen McHattie, Greg Bryk, Daniel Pilon, Ramona Pringle

Okay, so there's this guy and he's, like, the ultimate badass (not as badass as Anton Chigurh, so not actually the ultimate badass). And there's this pregnant woman, and these guys are trying to kill her, so he comes to her rescue and delivers her baby in the middle of a shoot out, but she gets killed. So then he's got this baby and then he goes and recruits the help of this hooker...

And all these dudes want to get the baby and stuff. As it turns out, the kid is, like, a clone of some US senator or something who needs a bone marrow transplant in order to not die, but he really wants to impose stronger gun laws and the gun people want to kill the baby so he'll die and that.

Yes, it was the stupidest fucking movie. Ever. Okay, that's a bit of an exaggeration. Still. Paul Giamatti plays a really obnoxious hitman. I usually like Paul Giamatti, but I did not like him in this.

Sometimes it sort of seemed like it was against guns, they kept saying stuff about how guns are bad for you and stuff like that, but it glorifies them at the same time. Oh, so confusing.

The writing was really, really, painfully bad. It was actually kind of like a James Bond movie, only I guess this guy is more badass than James Bond. I really do like Clive Owen, I don't care what he does, but he was about the only thing I liked in this movie.

What else? The whole thing was sort of a long tribute to Bugs Bunny, too. All that stuff with the carrots. What the hell was that? Phallic symbol? Hmmm...

The guy manages to shoot the shit out of tons of guys while delivering a baby; sky diving; falling down a stairwell and fucking Mary Magdalene. He also kills a few people with carrots.

I could go on, but I'd really rather not. It was a stupid, stupid movie. I kept thinking "This could be a western and it might actually be cool". It's the same plot as a Western. Clive Owen would be cool in a Western, if he hasn't already done one.

I also wondered where the hell was Charlton Heston.


Eastern Promises

Eastern Promises (2007)

Directed by: David Cronenberg
Written by: Steven Knight
Starring: Viggo Mortensen, Naomi Watts, Vincent Cassel, Armin Mueller-Stahl, Sinéad Cusack, Jerzy Skolimowski, Sarah-Jeanne Labrosse

About a midwife who runs into a branch of the Russian mafia in London when she delivers the baby of a raped prostitute and gets a hold of her diary. She becomes involved with the mob boss' driver and then some stuff happens.

I'm not, like, a Cronenberg nut, I honestly haven't seen that much of his work as yet, but this one didn't really seem like a David Cronenberg movie. I was sort of expecting the baby to eat its way out or something.

It's more like a gangster/crime/thriller type movie than whatever the hell you would call his other stuff. I mean, I've only seen The Fly and Scanners, but still...

And there was a frigging baby. I have a problem with movies where the plot revolves around a baby (unless it's, like, a baby movie, in which case I probably won't watch it) because there comes a point when you have to kill the baby or not and that's a difficult thing to handle in a movie.

Okay, it wasn't all about the baby, but the baby was pretty important. The movie seemed to be all about Viggo Mortensen.

He was excellent in it, but I have problems with him. Sometimes I like him, sometimes I don't. All the time, I get the impression that he thinks he's really cool. He did have cool tattoos, though. It must really hurt to get tats on your knees.

Although I kept thinking of two wild and crazy guys when he and his buddy there, Vincent Cassel, got together. Checking out the foxes. Yeah, that made for much humour.

Other than that, I don't really have too many strong feelings about the movie. I didn't think it sucked, nor did I think it was brilliant. Not much more to express on the matter, really.




Hellraiser (1987)

Written and Directed by:
Clive Barker, based on his novel The Hellbound Heart
Starring: Clare Higgins, Ashley Laurence, Andrew Robinson, Oliver Smith, Doug Bradley, Nicholas Vince, Simon Bamford, Grace Kirby, Robert Hines, Sean Chapman, Frank Baker

Okay. Iconic '80s horror picture about the Rubik's Cube from Hell. When you open it (it's the kind of Rubik's Cube you can open), SM guys come to your house and get their freak on. Cool! Then they rip you up with hooks. That's not so great.

And then there's this woman with the skinless, reanimated corpse of her lover (who's also her husband's brother, right? That's just SICK!) in her attic, feeding him business men she picks up in bars. Because, apparently, she's really hot. I found her scarier looking than that Pinhead guy, but that's just me.

Right. I kind of have some problems with this movie. Granted, it is pretty weird and gory and more interesting than Friday the Thirteenth Part x. But... it was really dumb.

The SM guys, the cenobites (hey, my computer doesn't want to spellcheck that word. It does, however, want to spellcheck the word 'spellcheck') don't really do a very good job. They seem to like standing around looking goth and talking about shit a lot more than actually doing whatever the hell it is that they do.

Skinless corpse guy and '80s woman are much more efficient. They kill, like, four people. SM guys only really manage to get one.

Another problem I was having: 'Pinhead' (they don't actually call him that (or anything, really) in this movie, but I'm familiar enough with pop-culture to know what to call him) is what you call a baby cricket. I have cricket-eating animals, I know this.

Oh yeah, and there was cricket eating man. I forgot about him. He was like, the devil or something. I dunno. What was up with that?

Whatever. The SM guys were pretty hardcore, I've got to give them that. Anyway, the movie was kind of amusing. It was kind of like Nightmare on Elm Street only I don't think it was supposed to be funny. My friend, Mr. Red, thought it would be funnier if the cenobites had German accents. She's right. It would be.



Stardust (2007)

Directed by: Matthew Vaughn
Written by: Matthew Vaughn and Jane Goldman, based on the novel by Neil Gaiman
Starring: Charlie Cox, Claire Danes, Michelle Pfeiffer, Mark Strong, Robert De Niro, Melanie Hill, Kate Magowan, Ricky Gervais, Jason Flemyng, Rupert Everett, Sienna Miller, Nathanial Parker, Peter O'Toole. Narrated by Ian McKellen

I was kind of disappointed to miss this one in the theatre. I wasn't really paying attention, and I sort of forgot to go see it. It was playing for, like, a month.

About a young man who crosses the border between our world and the magical world in order to get a fallen star for his sweetheart. Three evil witches also want the star (which looks like Claire Danes. Sweet!) so they can steal her youth and beauty. As does the son of the dead king who needs this necklace which knocked the star out of the sky in order to claim the thrown.

Also, ghosts, goat people and cross dressing sky pirates. Cool.

At first I was a little distracted by the similarities between Lord of the Rings and other fantasy movies, as there are bound to be some, but the movie is actually one of the weirder, more original fantasy movies I've seen recently. I guess it's been compared to Princess Bride which is fair. They're both kind of funny and romantic.

The characters are well written, the cast is good, the FX aren't too intrusive, and it's a very sweet love story. It warmed my heart without being Hallmarky (Hallmarky doesn't actually warm my heart, it makes me want to puke).

It was funky. It was like Narnia but with a sense of humour.

So not a lot of complaints about this one (damn. Okay, I'm going to trash some stuff in a minute). I did very much enjoy it. It didn't take itself too seriously at all, and it made me happy.


The Orphanage

El Orfanto (2008)

Directed by: J. A. Bayona
Written by: Sergio G. Sánchez
Starring: Belén Rueda, Roger Príncep, Fernando Cayo, Mabel Rivera, Montserrat Carulla, Óscar Casas, Geraldine Chaplin, Edgar Vivar

So this actually wasn't written or directed by Guillermo del Toro, as I had assumed until, like, now. He produced it, I guess. A lot of it reminded me of a del Toro movie.

Anyway, there's this woman who sort of grew up in an orphanage, and many years later she brings her husband and son to the abandoned building so they can set up a home for disabled children or something. The little kid starts talking to the ghosts of the dead orphans who used to live there and, eventually, disappears, leading the mother to believe the ghost children stole him.

And all kinds of other nasty things happen. Pretty good haunted house movie, with elements of The Haunting of Hill House, The Others, The Changeling (okay, all haunted house stories echo each other, but those were the ones I was thinking about when I was watching it). There's just a whole other level of nastiness to this one which actually really bothered me.

It was disturbing, I dunno. It scared me. They didn't really rub it in so much, though. Scary stuff was happening through the whole movie but there wasn't a whole lot of jumpy stuff. It was just really unpleasant.

Kind of refreshing when compared to the American haunted house movie where everybody sort of turns out okay (most of the time. There are exceptions, but generally this is the case). The kid does, anyway.

Anyway, the main lady, Belén Rueda, I've never seen her before, but she was very good. And she wasn't young and gorgeous, which shouldn't really be an important observation, but I kept thinking of Nicole Kidman in The Others. She sort of goes under a similar amount of stress and yet she still manages to look like Nicole Kidman (she scared the bejeezus out of me in that movie, but she still looked young and gorgeous). The woman in this looked appropriately stressed. She looked thirty seven (okay, she was still gorgeous, but she didn't look like she was wearing too much make-up).

Yep, disturbing movie but very good. I didn't like it, exactly. It really freaked me out, but it was very good. I'm glad I went to see it. It was worth it.


Thursday, January 3, 2008

Sweeney Todd

Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007)

Directed by: Tim Burton
Written by: John Logan based on the Stephen Sondheim musical
Starring: Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, Alan Rickman, Jamie Campbell Bower, Jayne Wisener, Timothy Spall, Ed Sanders, Sacha Baron Cohen, Laura Michelle Kelly

First of all, I'm not really partial to musicals. In fact, I try to avoid musicals if I can, so ordinarily I wouldn't even bother with this, only it's Tim Burton and I do like him, sometimes.

It's about this barber who was fucked over by the world and decides to get his revenge by killing his clients. His landlady then bakes them into pies. Mmm, so tasty.

And I must say it was pretty awesome. It was gory enough to compensate for it being a musical. Johnny Depp & Helena Bonham Carter weird good/weird as usual and are surprisingly competent singers. On stage, they probably would have sucked, what with their voices being somewhat feeble.

Alan Rickman, on the other hand... I don't think he should sing. He doesn't sing all that much, but when he does it's really disturbing. I didn't like that at all.

The music itself was pretty good. I mean, it was annoying, but I got used to it. The songs weren't particularly memorable, but the lyrics were pretty good.

Moving on, it looked incredible, although on the scale of Tim Burtony movies, Beetlejuice being very Tim Burtony and, um, Planet of the Apes being WTF, it didn't rank terribly high. Although there was one scene where everything was stripey.

Otherwise, though, it was really dark. I mean, the only colour was red (and what a lot of red there was! My, my! The amount of blood was kind of cartoonish, actually).

So yeah, it was sort of beautiful. I liked it, anyway. The 'young lovers' theme was a little irritating but not terribly intrusive. It's overshadowed by the other love story, which is really much more interesting (the 'dead lovers' theme?).

At the end of the movie, though, I really wanted a meat pie. Terrible, isn't it?

So, very good fairytale, very bloody musical. Deliciously revolting. Johnny and Helena are both disgusting, but strangely sympathetic (and hot, but that's neither here nor there).

Pretty good. I won't go so far as to say it's the best thing Tim Burton's done since whatever, mostly because I can't remember everything he's ever done off the top of my head and I'm a little insecure about making statements like that, but it made me feel sort of happy and depressed at the same time, which is a good feeling.

I recommend it.


The Number 23

The Number 23 (2007)

Directed by: Joel Shumacher
Written by:
Fernley Phillips
Starring: Jim Carrey, Virginia Madsen, Logan Lerman, Danny Huston, Lynn Collins

Okay. This is the one about the guy who reads this book about a guy obsessed with the number 23 and realizes that the character is very similar to him. Huh. Slowly, he becomes obsessed with the number, and then finds out that the character murdered somebody. Then a bunch of stuff happens. I can't remember. It was kind of all over the place.

Now, I know a lot of people watched this movie and went 'hey! There really are a lot of 23s in my life'. I myself have a thing about spirals ever since I read Uzumaki by Junji Ito. There are spirals inside your ears! So obviously people are impressionable.

But really, the guy in the movie seems a little... too impressionable. Granted, he really is the character in the book (spoilers), but that was all a little bit bogus.

The whole movie was bogus. There were some really serious believability problems with it. Okay, I don't really mind movies that aren't believable (that's a double negative! Oh well). The Fifth Element, for example, has believability issues (I have a Fifth Element fixation right now, go figure), but that's totally different.

This movie, I think, was supposed to be clever and meaningful or something, supposed to make me think about it. I don't want to think about it! I try to avoid thinking if at all possible.

But anyway, apart from it being totally bogus (okay, okay, okay, lots of things equal 23, but lots of things don't. It's easy to manipulate numbers too. For example: 13+13-3=23. Holy God! If you add up the numbers in my birthday, you get 29. Minus 6 is 23. Wow), it was badly written, and Jim Carrey was really bad.

I really like Jim Carrey, but he did kinda suck. Otherwise, though, I liked the look of the movie. But that's about the only thing I did like about it.