Sunday, May 31, 2015

"Between" hilariously bad and mediocrity

So I just couldn't fathom what a 1 out of 5 star Netflix series would be like so I checked out the 1st episode of "Between." Of course some people are disgruntled with the weekly release format but on the surface the production looked competent. As the plotting picked up I realized that the awkwardly bad of the series was really nuanced stuff - as if the writer or director just didn't understand the material. Like when various family members coughed up blood the unanimous reaction was to just stand there looking worried and call out their name but do nothing. Or when a character runs off screen looking for help and then literally runs into the next scene finding the specific help that was probably miles away (like if it were a Saturday Night Live skit). And much of the dialog sounded either predictable or just a bit off for the given situation. I actually found it to be quite entertaining in a mean-hearted, critical way but the real hilarity is in what others are saying around the Net both bad and good - apparently there are some who think "Between" is quite phenomenal. I just think it's all unintentionally funny and wish they really push harder on that angle.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Review catch up!

BLACK SEA is great! The premise of sunken gold sounds almost like an Indiana Jones adventure but this film sells it with a gritty real-world tone. And that tone could easily be marred by cheap visual effects but this film does a pretty good job of keeping you engaged and in the dramatic moments. They just don't make enough submarine thrillers these days!

13 SINS is actually a really great horror film. It has this nice retro feel, and by retro I mean early 2000's when horror moved into the more grounded realism of thrillers. And it also feels retro because everyone is using a flip-phone despite being a 2014 release. It doesn't go bat-shit crazy, but the simple premise keeps things moving and it all builds to some decent revelations - just don't expect any huge or elaborate set-pieces. 

AMAZING SPIDERMAN 2 is just more of the same problems that the 1st had. The plot mechanics of the comic book story are just silly as hell, as if it were written for a 5 year old. And the love story is competent but oh-so saccharine sweet as if it were written for a teen. Unfortunately the 2 sides just don't meld very well, and while it does calls itself out as being cliche it continuously violates it's own awareness.

I have to say I liked RIDDICK over-all. It's a bit goofy how they play up Vin Diesel's character (I preferred when he talked less) but it plays as an overly ambitious but competent B-movie. The film tries to hearken back to success of the 1st, PITCH BLACK, but doesn't quite get there because of the over reliance on studio sets, CG, and greenscreen shots (the 1st had great locations & actually took a risk with bleach-bypassing their film for a very moody tonality to the picture). The very end was just plain stupid (or some kind of inside joke) as this B-movie was trying to go for a high-brow sci-fi cliff hanger (part of being overly ambitious). 

It's been awhile since I've read a graphic novel, let alone anything from illustrator Jim Lee who was a big visual influence on me growing up. But Jim Lee comics have never blown me away when it comes story and this latest "Mastermen" where Superman is imagined as a Nazi is no exception. The premise is interesting and the illustrations are glorious but the story doesn't come to any meaningful or satisfying realization (though there is plenty of visual flare & destruction). I'm beginning to think Jim Lee is the Michael Bay of comics, but I still have more catching up to do.

Directed by Sang-il Lee. With Ken Watanabe, Jun Kunimura, Shiori Kutsuna, YĆ»ya Yagira. Just as Clint Eastwood's star-making spaghetti Western A Fistful of Dollars was inspired by Akira Kurosawa's Yojimbo, Japanese-Korean filmmaker Sang-il Lee (Villain) has 

I saw the Eastwood UNFORGIVEN when I was young so I didn't fully grasp any of the revisionist Western nuances about it but have come to appreciate them over time (even though I have yet to rewatch it). This Japanese remake followed the Eastwood version fairly closely but leaned heavily towards sentimentality (as unfortunately most mainstream Japanese films do these days), and this was the film's downfall in the final act where there's a lot of slow motion accentuated by somber music - the original film's ending was unapologetic and blunt, raw and practically real-time. I didn't mind the sentimentality in the beginning acts (incorporating oppression of the Hokkaido Ainu natives was great) but that same approach through to the end just pushed it into melodrama and just felt disingenuous. And what's really missing was Gene Hackman's performance as a colossal prick sheriff - his Japanese counter part just went through the motions of being a villain but had no gravitas. If anything this films should've used a different title to avoid direct comparisons to the original because it looked great and did a few interesting things on its own.

I remember reviews for ELYSIUM were pretty negative when it 1st came out but I thought it was a pretty entertaining sci-fi action-adventure. It wasn't quite the social commentary that DISTRICT 9 was and Jodie Foster was a wee bit annoying, but the world building was visually great (though the concept doesn't go much deeper than that proposed in the trailers). And some of the shaky-cam was egregious, but I promise you it's not all that bad. I wasn't convinced Blomcamp could do a good ALIEN movie based on the conceptual artwork he released, but after watching ELYSIUM I'm a little reassured that at the very least it would be a fun ride. #facebook

I was thinking THE TOWN THAT DREADED SUNDOWN had this hyper-stylized, ADD cutting & shooting style reminiscent of "American Horror Story," only to find out the director is of the AHS pedigree. The constant slider/dollying camera, bleeding colors, and flaring backlights feel excessive but I can't help but admire the energy. The "original film within the remake" concept is interesting enough but the ending reeks of an Adam Wingard ineptitude (but not quite as juvenile). BTW the director is also that of ME AND EARL AND THE DYING GIRL which was supposedly the breakout hit of Sundance this year. #facebook

THE ROVER is such a strange, not-quite-what-you-think, drama that's a little ambiguous which makes it intriguing, a little awkward which can make it funny, and a little boring which can make it seem aimless or even tedious. But by the end I liked it - performances are good, scenery is nice and desolate and disorienting, but I grew up partially in the California desert so I like dusty backdrops. And the ending somewhat made sense to me. The trailer is somewhat misleading in that it looks like this grand adventure, but it's really more a film about happenstance and contemplation. #facebook

I was just watching JODOROWSKY'S DUNE, which is a quite fascinating and inspired documentary, and realized that many contemporary opinions seem to be that David Lynch's DUNE was terrible. I've only seen it as a kid with my father and I thought it was pretty great. I guess I'll have to watch it again as an adult. #facebook

A MOST WANTED MAN is a subtle, slow burn type of film that is hard to get me to watch but I'm always glad I did by the end. It can be a bit jarring at 1st to see so many recognizable American actors doing all manner of European accents but beyond that you can see everyone chewing it up, especially Philip Seymour Hoffman. And it really is a heartbreak to watch Hoffman, knowing that the when film ends it truly is the last of him. #facebook

THE FRAME felt like a student thesis extended into a feature. I don't mean that to be entirely insulting but there's a lot of dead weight to a potentially interesting concept. The trailer says it all in that it looks intriguing but there's just no indication as to what in hell the film's about, and film itself hides in ambiguity and conceptual nonsense rather than tackle a meaningful narrative. Felt the same way about SUCKER PUNCH. #facebook

Unfortunately REC4 is just not all that intriguing - it's just survival horror on a boat. It's not terrible or anything, it just doesn't elevate the franchise or do anything completely different like REC3 did with zombies at a wedding. Meh... #facebook

As I suspected, V/H/S VIRAL is a piece of s***. The 1st was interesting but meh. The 2nd completely reinvigorated the possibilities of what a found footage film could be. But this latest one regresses into incoherent nonsense, bad acting, laughable CG parlor tricks, and a complete disregard of the very conventions of the found footage concept. Actually that's not true, it's worst: it's shaky-blurry-vomit-gopro-youtube-cam with the dumbest fictionalized excuses for why a video camera is rolling. #facebook

Aussie horror THE BABADOOK had genuinely creepy moments and decent dramatic performances (the boy is great) but as a horror film it's just too slow with little pay-off. I may have missed some thematic nuance or message but I didn't quite get the meaning of end. A shame, I was looking forward to a good scare, though a dedicated horror sequel of The Babadook character could potentially be awesome. #facebook

"Hannibal" S1 is one of the best crime/thriller series I've seen & it highlights 3 of my personal fascinations: Cinematic Beauty, Culinary Art, & Sadistic Mind-f***ing. Mad Mikkelsen deceptively does very little except play the fulcrum for all plotting around him but he wears the infamy of Hannibal Lector like fine tailored suit. This series easily bests any of the previous films, even the original Demme film which I'm a fan of. #gnetx #facebook

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Let the writing begin!

Inline image 1

My latest feature script outline is finally near completion. This has go to be the prettiest layout I've created so far!

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Some horror movie recollections

BACKCOUNTRY takes a fairly simple premise and setting and does a pretty decent job creating some tense atmosphere. No surprises, though if you know the ending of the doc GRIZZLY MAN this film's climax is much like the visualization of that brutal carnage (which is in fact surprisingly effective). There maybe one too many shallow focus photography style nature shots and sometimes the characters do seemingly silly or even frustratingly stupid things but the performances are believable. I did some backpacking long ago so much of the slow-burn lead-in was just a nice look back on my own experiences. I should add that this film is infinitely better than WILLOW CREEK which has similar elements but was just god-awfully ineffective and pointless. #facebook


I don't want to fully discredit THE CANAL because it has some pretty creepy scenes (mostly towards the end), but it also blatantly rips off visuals from THE RING with none of the clever context. But this film does take it one step further in the very end where I was vocally uttering "What the f***!" The story itself is very uninspired (another AMITYVILLE HORROR rehash) and the final reveal is an unreliable narrator type f*** you to the audience which I can't stand (though I know a lot of simpletons would like it). But like I said, it does stretch it's dollars in ambiance - ultimately it just needs better plotting.‪#‎gnetx‬
A man who suspects his wife is cheating on him begins having nightmarish visions of an evil presence that he believes inhabits his house.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Year of the Time Paradox

I bet you didn't realize it but 2014 was the year of Time Paradox movies. EDGE OF TOMORROW being the biggest & best with plenty of hard hitting action, a nice play on the respawn mentality, & Emily "Full Metal Bitch" Blunt. PREDESTINATION gets the mind f*** award. It tests your suspension of disbelief but if you let it, it's a good f***. THE INFINITE MAN is the love centric version with an indie quirk sense of humor. Not my speed but there is a nice realization about the paradox towards the end. TIME LAPSE has the weakest performances & written dialog of the lot but I think the concept & payoff (though lacking in execution) is worth the watch. There may be even a few more but it seems all of these films flew under the radar of most people, and that's the biggest paradox of all!

Saturday, January 10, 2015


Wow, WHIPLASH is like if in MR HOLLAND'S OPUS Dreyfuss was a raging perfectionist a**hole and his student was an obsessive psychotic, but it all plays out like a really great drama. I thoroughly enjoyed it. #gnetx


I wish Franco & Rogan in THE INTERVIEW were swapped out for the cast of THE EXPENDABLES - that would make more sense to me. #gnetx

Thursday, January 01, 2015

Film & TV lightening recollections

GONE GIRL, plenty of intrigue and suspense and I felt, at least for the 1st half, that Fincher was mocking audiences of these type of novels (which I found amusing). But I found the characters to be quite unbelievable and unrelateable.
DUMB & DUMBER 2, some snickers but I lost track of what/why characters were doing and it was all forgettable at best.
WOLVES, very much a b-movie with practical makeup that barely hurdled being completely ridiculous - not bad but you really have to be a 80s/90s horror fan to appreciate it.
ANCHORMAN 2, one of the few movies I just couldn't finish watching - mostly awkward un-funniness in the same vain as 22 JUMP STREET.
GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY, despite knowing and hearing so much about this film I still enjoyed it. The humor and the production design felt so fluid and confident - great entertainment.
"Fargo" TV series, captured so much of the Coen film and yet was completely an entity of its own. Darkly funny, relate-able yet off-beat characters. Last year was a great year of discovering TV series for me: "True Detective" & "Hannibal."
STONEHEARST ASYLUM, I did have expectations going in that didn't quite get met but it's a ok thriller - the twists just didn't hit hard enough and Kate Beckensale's "talents" were under-utilized.
NIGHTCRAWLER, very enthralling themes but Jake Gyllenhaal's uncanny creep factor really elevated this film. There was also a 90s vibe to this film that intrigued me.
HOBBIT 3, these are films that I just fall into without over analyzing the filmmaking. Fantasy films of this scale are now so few and far between that I just savor the grand ambition of the CG and soap opera-esque antics.
"Big Bang Theory," 6 seasons in about a month. I came for Penny and left liking the whole shebang.