Thursday, December 27, 2012

Top Films of 2012


What a year for film. We were given some of the most anticipated films in, probably all of film history. It also had a series of record breaking films, despite the box office take, overall, being disappointing. It was an especially nerd friendly year with titles like, The Avengers, The Dark Knight Rises, Skyfall, The Hobbit, and Ridley Scott's kind of Alien prequel Prometheus. As well as films from Oscar winners Steven Spielberg, Tom Hooper, Ang Lee, Quentin Tarantino and Robert Zemekis. I had a lot of fun at the movies this year. I laughed, I cried, I cheered, I was puzzled by Silent House. All the great emotions that people experience at the movies. So today Im going to be counting down my top 10 films of the year. This is an unbiased list and just my personal preference, so if you disagree, whatever, this is my list and you can make your own. Granted there were a few movies this year that I didn't get around to seeing, like Anna Karenina and Zero Dark Thirty, so come a month from now, my list may change. But probably not.
Shall we begin?
10)Silver Linings Playbook
Yea, it was a bit melodramatic and a bit predictable but the lead characters were so original and charming and the performances were so impressive from everybody that this movie easily landed in this slot edging out Django. Sorry QT. It was funny, it was touching and the characters were likable. In my top ten, but not as deserving of an oscar nod as others here.
9)The Avengers:
There was so much hype leading up to this movie and nobody's mind was at ease. This movie easily could have been a disaster, yet it surpassed all expectation and became one of the surprise hits of the year. Not just because of its dazzling action and special effects, but because of the intelligence in the script. Its one of those action films that surprises you with the story. The story itself was a bit straight forward, but the all the characters, though super human, were all human. The movie is great because of its direction, but is perfect because of its writing. All of the actors in this movie personified each of their respective roles in the best possible way and I will be truly sad when one of these actors stops playing that role.
8)Seeking A Friend For The End Of The World:
Perhaps my favorite apocalypse film of all time. This was easily my favorite film of the summer and rightfully so deserves to be on any best of list. This felt like a much more realistic interpretation of what would happen if a meteor was headed for earth. Not everybody is going to party and go crazy. There are just so many people that are unfulfilled with life that still refuse to live even when life is just about to end. This is both a great tale of friendship and a fantastic love story wrapped up in a nice little road trip.
Now we're starting to get dirty
7)Looper:
The science fiction opus of the year. This was both a killer action film and a breath of fresh air in terms of sci-fi. The concept is realitivly simple but Rian Johnson's writing really breathes life into an area that could really turn stale in the worst way. It is really easy to complicate time travel and have it not make sense, but the film even subtley tells the audience to not think too hard on it which is both a great idea and hilarious. Especially in this day and age when everybody has to hate everything. The action is thrilling, and JGL is the man. It also features one of the most brutal torture scenes in recent history
6)Killer Joe:
Definitely the most bizarre film of the year. And arguably the most brutal. This film is not for anyone with a weak stomach, but I am a creepy weirdo, so I embrace films like this. I wish more film makers/studios would take risks and make films that are as dark and twisted as this one. But for all of it darkness, it is equally funny. This is what a dark film should be. Its got some really fucked up shit, and enough laughs to go along with it, making it tasteful as a work of art.
Because I can't enough of Paul Dano...
5)Ruby Sparks:
Ruby Sparks is the story of love and how unpredictable, irrational and how magical love actually is.
Not only is Ruby Sparks the kind of movie that you fall in love with, but it makes you want to fall in love. There weren't many fantasy films this year, and although not traditionally what you would expect from a fantasy film, but its still always welcome to see fantasy being made in Hollywood. This is also the only film this year that I went out and purchased.
4)Sleepwalk With Me:
It takes a lot for a comedy film to be on my top 10, but this wasn't your average comedy. The film is shot documentary style and is intersliced between the narrative and Mike Birbiglia telling the story from his car. This is both a funny story and an unbelievable tale of triumph through adversity, and his adversity is sleepwalking. The scenarios that the sleepwalking gets him into, you couldn't make up. One of the scenarios is my favorite scene of the year. I give this all the more praise because I really don't like endorsing comedians and this film works as both a comedy story and a drama about a man chasing his dream.
Top 3. Are you getting chills yet?
3)Dredd 3D:
Nothing more to say (see my previous review)
2)Skyfall:
Where do I begin? As a lifelong Bond fan, I feel like this was a love letter to me and my kin. It contained everything that a Bond film should be known for. Fast paced action, neat spy work, sexy dames, cool cars, and an intimidating bleached blond villain. It even features the return of Q and some other fun little easter eggs. But it was also a competent and beautifully shot spy thriller with some clever dialogue and fantastic performances from Daniel Craig and (a scene stealing) Javier Bardem. This is how a Bond anniversary should be celebrated and it allows me to forgive the mistake of Die Another Day. The song is classic Bond and the tone is incredibly modern and bleak in this post 9/11 world, with a tight and very personal plot. It almost made it to my number 1, but my number 1 was too good to not steal this spot.
1)The Perks Of Being A Wallflower:
Beautiful script, beautiful score, beautifully shot and beautiful characters. In a year that was largely inhabited with tales of high school, this was easily the best introspect into it. Its not all bullies and parties, but given the right situation, everybody becomes a villain. The story is about a lonely kid who makes friends with a group of social oddities who are just like everybody else in their own way, and they show the boy how to live and have fun. Its a perfect look at friendship, sexual discrimination, love and loneliness. This is honestly what I look for in a film. Some of you reading this may have a different favorite film of the year, but this is just my opinion. Unfortunately I couldn't put every movie on this list. So honorable mentions go to The Dark Knight Returns Part 1, Django Unchained, 21 Jump Street, Robot and Frank, The Raid and Chronicle. If you haven't seen any of these films, go out and give them a look see, and don't forget to buy Dredd. I can't wait for next year because there are a lot of great films that need to be watched and I am just the man for the job
     -L.K

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Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Top 5 Christmas Specials

Ah, Christmas. That wonderful time of year where you're nice to others, appreciative of what you have and no fucking work so you can relax all day. I can think of no better way to relax than with some Christmas themed episodes of some good tv shows. I'm going to pick my favorite Christmas themed episodes from some of my favorite shows and share them with you, because I have nothing but holiday cheer. Again, what I like in a Christmas medium, is something unconventional, so most of the shows I've picked are shows that you wouldn't automatically think "Christmas special". I'm counting down from 5. So let's begin, shall we?
5) Tales From The Crypt:
And All Through The House
How do you like your Christmas? A little dark? A little Morbid? How about twistedly humorous? Maybe with some delightful Christmas music? If all of the above, then this is the one for you. This one here is a combo; both Christmas and horror. And its actually the best piece of fiction that combines the 2.The plot is that a woman murders her husband on Christmas eve, and at the same time a psychopath escapes from a mental asylum, dressed as Santa and begins killing women, so the wife can't call the cops to help her and has to deal with the murderer by herself. It has all the staples of a typical slasher film, but everything is presented in a fun manner. Its a blast! The killer (played by Larry Drake) is terrifying and hilarious at the same time. Its always nice to see Santa going crazy.
This next one is kind of a cheat, because its not technically a Christmas episode, but it was originally aired in December. Fuck you, it has snow, so that makes it count
4) The Simpsons:
Mr. Plow
This one is a no brainer, and is easily one of the best episodes in the entire Simpson catalog. Homer buys a plow to start a plow business to pay for the plow. Classic Homer. But Homer gains quick success and competition comes in the form of his best friend Barney, who becomes even more beloved than Homer. It has appropriately used celebrity guests, unlike later seasons which just had celebrities shoe horned in for the sake of filling out the run time. This episode has some of the best lines in the series, and almost every scene has a memorable quote. And like all early episodes of the Simpsons, Homer learns a valuable lesson in the end. It makes me feel warm every time I watch it. Mostly because I can't stop laughing. Probably the most accessible Christmas episode on this list, so pop this in whenever you get the chance.
As much as I didn't want to include 2 episodes from one show on the same list, I can consider these 2 different shows because of the change in tone and art direction.
3) Batman: The Animated Series
Christmas With The Joker
This show combines some of everybody's favorite things. Batman, The Joker, and murder. All of this in a nice little Christmas package. Joker escapes from Arkham and has a plan to kill a lot of people, like always, but Batman doesn't know what he is planning and is certain doom is on the rise. Robin is trying to get Batman to watch It's a Wonderful Life with him, but Batman is skeptical to watch a movie with a happy ending. But of course, Batman saves the day, kicks Joker's ass and ends up watching and liking It's a Wonderful Life (a film that brilliantly mirrors Batman's own life). And that wasn't a spoiler, it's fucking batman. How can he lose? This episode features some of the best writing in an animated program, and its almost too mature for the children it was aimed at. But I would put this baby on over most movies.
2) The New Adventures Of Batman
Holiday Knights
Montoya and Bullock
Now, Christmas With The Joker is written better and has a much more impressive art style, Holiday Knights is just more fun, and I think its more entertaining. In the end, isn't that what it's all about? Holiday Knights is an anthology episode that features 3 stories revolving around the holiday season in Gotham City. The first episode features Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy putting Bruce Wayne under mind control (with a kiss from Ivy) and using him to buy gifts for themselves, then hilarity ensues. The second story features Batgirl, Robin, and detectives Bullock and Montoya in disguise as Santa's Elf and Santa, respectively, in the middle of a stake out trying to catch a shoplifter at the mall. This segment features one of the best lines in the history of the show. One of the children at the mall accuses Bullock of not being the real Santa, to which Bullock replies, "sure I am. Wanna see my gun?" And the last segment features Batman and Robin trying to stop the Joker from committing mass murder. I left several elements out, but this episode is even more adult than Christmas With The Joker, and it ends with Batman and Gordon sharing a cup of coffee as the night turns to New Year's Day, in a very nice moment between the 2, and reflecting on their holiday tradition. And it ends with Batman leaving and paying without Gordon noticing, in true Batman fashion and Gordon saying that one day he will pay the check.
And now for my favorite Christmas special of all time. But before that I will give some honorable mentions.
How The Grinch Stole Christmas (only because it isn't actually a tv show), Xmas story from Futurama and Have yourself a Morlock Little Christmas from Xmen. I just didn't have room for these because I wanted to keep the list relatively short
1) The X-Files
Maurice and Lyda
How The Ghosts Stole Christmas
This is just the best Christmas special ever. It has everything, without feeling too crammed, but its also a nice little ghost story that never feels like its trying to scare you. The plot is that Mulder brings Scully to a supposedly haunted house on Christmas eve. Its very whimsical and features 2 very lighthearted performance from Ed Asner and Lily Tomlin as the ghosts that haunt the house. The direction (show creator Chris Carter) is very quirky and almost feels like something Wes Anderson would concoct. The point of the whole episode is to show how lonely Mulder is to drag Scully out to a haunted house (something Scully doesn't believe in) on Christmas eve, and just how lonely Scully is for agreeing to meet him there. The two get trapped in the house while the ghost's mess with them and just play around making the agents feel like they are in danger, and all the while nobody knows quite what is real. Its one of the few episodes that doesn't take itself seriously, yet offers some pretty strong character development. The episode ends with the ghosts holding hands and reminiscing about how they almost got them, and with Mulder and Scully exchanging gifts, even though the 2 agreed not to. It shows how far they have both come with each other and how strong their friendship has become. This is the only episode on this list that I wish was a feature film. I could have watched this for days. I wanted to dedicate this whole review to just this episode, but I figured that you didn't want to read an orgasm in text form.
So that's my list. So Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Whatever emotion you feel for Ramadan, and fuck you, because you don't celebrate Kwanzaa
Happy holidays
      -L.K

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Monday, December 24, 2012

The Girls With The Dragon Tattoo



Because I lacked for a while, I decided to give you a 2 in one, today, The Girls(s?) With The Dragon Tattoo. I'm just going to review the story and the what I liked about each version, which one I like more. Essentially, both versions of the film have the same narrative structure, which basically renders the remake pointless. But what we have here is the same story in the hands of 2 different directors, and if anything, is a very interesting experiment. The 2004 Exorcist prequel had a very similar situation, (1 story, 2 directors) and that ended up being a disaster, while both versions of this film are competent and tense thrillers. A man is unraveling a 40 year old mystery and a young woman, who is a mystery in itself, assists him. Both of the main characters are flawed and broken in there own way. Mikael Blomkvist, is accused of libel and loses his wages and his reputation, and Lisbeth Salander is an angry, violent, delinquent with a penchant for junk food and narcotics. While flawed, both of them are brilliant. Mikael is an outstanding journalist, and Lisbeth is a genius hacker with a photographic memory. What I really want to focus on here is the similarities/differences between the 2 films. The 2 films really are the exact same story, just a different story teller. All the major plot points are in both films, so basically the only real differences are technical and performances. I will just get this out of the way right now, I think the remake is better than the original in almost every way. There were a few exceptions that I will get to later, but overall, the cinematography was better, the lighting was better, the editing was among the best editing in a film I have seen, the overall performances were better, the unconventional score was more complimentary to the movie, and the direction was tighter. Just from the way it opens, I was more sucked into the film than the original. The original opens with a boring photo of a flower, while I understand that the photo ignites the mystery that sets the plot into motion, the intense credits with the oil covered woman is just a more exciting way to start a movie. The only thing that I liked more about the original was the girl with the dragon tattoo, Lisbeth Salander, play by the amazingly gorgeous Noomi Repace. Rooney Mara, was very good in the role, but I just liked Repace better. She came off more intense and troubled, as opposed to Mara, who felt strangely robotic. I really wouldn't want to fight Repace.
Michael Nyqvist plays Blomkvist in the original, whereas Daniel Craig plays Blomkvist in the remake. I found Daniel Craig a much more likable lead, with more personality and better chemistry with his opposite. David Fincher is just one of the best directors in the game today, and this story, at least in my opinion, is best told through his eyes. The original, while a great story, is just that, a great story. The film is nothing special apart from the performance from Repace, whereas the remake is a visual splendor. Unfortunately, the dawn of the hipsters have somewhat tarnished the opinions of people that watch cinema and feel compelled to like the original better, because "it came first". Honestly, the rape scene in the original is not more brutal. Getting brutally buttfucked is far more severe than getting punched in the head, you stupid assholes. If you have the chance to see one version of this movie, do not listen to the person who says to watch the original. This remake is a rare exception to the rule of remakes, and is a far superior film. One performance can not justify an entire film, especially one with a run time of almost 3 hours. I recommend both films, but the David Fincher version is just far better. It is not only one of the best films of 2011, (third best behind Take Shelter and Shame) but it is one of the tightest, lean and fascinating of the last few decades. Its just a shame that this version didn't come first so its reputation is damaged because of what it had to follow. And for you James Bond fans out there, here is a little James Bond trivia: Daniel Craig plays James Bond, currently, where Steven Berkoff, who played Dirch Frode in the Fincher Girl With... played General Orlov in Octopussy. So there's another reason why its better. So go check it out if you haven't, especially since its Christmas.
Oh, and another reason why its better, no fucking reading
    -L.K

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Friday, December 21, 2012

Big Fish


Because I am alive, I am bringing you one of my absolute favorite movies of all time, Tim Burton's Big Fish. Big Fish is the story of a man who tries to discover who his father really is, after a life of hearing tall tales, as his father is slowly dying of cancer. This film is both a beautifully told story, as well as amazing piece to look at. Its the last classic Tim Burton film, not that Sweeney Todd isn't an amazing film. In many ways its a piritual successor to his earlier and more personal films that use bizarre visuals to enhance the story, but all the while the story is about some misunderstood or eccentric character. In many of Tim Burton's early films, the main character was an allegorical reference to Tim Burton himself. The odd man out, dark, confused, and an enigma to his peers. Sweeney Todd utilizes this formula, but its nowhere near the personal level of Big Fish. It is also a throwback to a time when Tim Burton was the go-to artist filmmaker with cooky ideas and oddball characters, instead of being a corporate pawn of uninspired and, for the most part, flat films (Alice in Wonderland, Planet Of The Apes, Dark Shadows).
The film is both the tale of a great man, and a discovery of who that man really is. Albery Finney plays Edward Bloom, as man who appears to be as great as the stories that he tells and Billy Crudup plays his estranged son, William Bloom, who has grown bitter towards his father for always being the center of attention and never opening up about who he really is. The story follows William as he tries to discover who his father really is, and as he finds a clue or hears a story, a flashback is shown to telling the story of Edward Bloom as a young man (played by Ewan McGregor). How and where he was born, where he grew up, how he met his wife, and all the little adventures he got into along the way, as well as all the people he met on his journeys. As the film approaches its end, as does Edward, William begins to realize that the stories are incidental, but the man telling the stories are what matter. William realizes that his father was indeed a great man, and he does indeed love him. The film is overall a story about stories. Truth or tale, stories gain their power from the teller, and they are, in fact, what the listener makes of them. Its a wonderful tale of humanity and the bond of a father and son, that is ultimately elevated by strong performances, dazzling visuals (which are vintage Tim Burton) and a hauntingly beautiful score by Danny Elfman. It is one of the truly classic and personal Tim Burton films along with Batman, Edward Scissorhands, Ed Wood and Pee Wee's Big Adventure. If you haven't seen it, go watch it right now, and if you have seen it, watch it again, but with someone who hasn't seen it.
        -L.K

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Thursday, December 20, 2012

Take Shelter


In light of the oncoming apocalypse tomorrow, I thought I'd give you a film about the end of the world...well, sort of, Jeff Nichol's over looked, Take Shelter from 2011. Take Shelter is a film about a man who receives premonitions about a storm that is coming and begins preparing for it. He has dreams, hallucinations, hears noises, and all the while everyone around him thinks that he is going crazy.The film is led a powerhouse performance from Michael Shannon (Boardwalk Empire, Premium Rush, Man Of Steel) who is just a regular guy named Curtis who has a wife, a job in construction and a def daughter. He already has a storm shelter in his backyard, but decides to expand and fortify it and his new hobby worries everyone around him. The hallucinations and dreams affect him very aggressively, as he begins to wet the bed and even has seizures, but he knows how crazy it all seems so he tries to pass it off as a mundane thing. It is later revealed in the film that his mother is a schizophrenic and then the visions really begin to be questioned. Is this a film about a man who is receiving an omen about a forthcoming disaster of biblical proportions, or about a man descending into madness? Even Curtis begins to suspect he may be losing touch with reality at points.
 Either way, its an amazingly emotional and terrifying ride from start to finish with great performances from the entire cast, and the performance from Michael Shannon was indeed Oscar-worthy, and probably the biggest academy award related upset in years. Its hauntingly chilling, brilliantly directed, fantastically scripted, and unbelievably acted. If you haven't heard of this film, its both a crying shame and perfectly feasible. One of the greatest films I have ever seen, and please go out and see this before the world ends, because it just may change the way you look at life. Or it won't. Who the fuck knows. Its a kickass film and I would include it on a list of movies to see before you die and all time favorites
     -L.K

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Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Hook


Here's another Christmas film for you. A childhood favorite of mine (and probably yours too), Steven Spielberg's Hook. Hook is very interesting to me, because it has some incredibly interesting aspects of the psychology of Peter Pan, but it is also a kids movie, so the filmmakers decided not to get to deep in the subject matter. There is actually only one thing that I don't like about this movie, (other than Julia Roberts, obviously) but I'll get more into that later. This film may be hard for me to critique, because its one of the few movies that I have been watching, literally, my whole life, so there is a lot of sentimental value, but it was pretty critically panned on its initial release. So I will go into the pros and cons, one by one, and I will be completely honest about everything.
Dustin Hoffman and Bob Hoskins
Pros.
1) The visual aspect: Everything visually about this film is top notch (and I don't just mean the special effects). The costumes and the production designs are all quite the spectacle. They are some of the best looking pirates in cinema, I have ever seen, and the ship looks incredible. The pirates aren't the only costumes that looked good, the lost boys look great as well. They are dirty and gritty, yet, with a sense of playfulness.  My favorite set is the flowers that smell Peter, for the clever irony and because of the practical effects. Everything in Neverland is a visual splendor, from the exotic island setting with great looking mermaids, to the decrepit and shoddy camp where the lost boys dwell. Its also a plus how good Dustin Hoffman looks as the titular character.
2) The acting: Everybody in this film is fully committed to their respective roles, save Julia Roberts, she fucking blows. Robin Williams is a great dramatic actor and he fit into the role of Peter Banning (Pan) so well. He is one of a handful of actors that could make the jump from emotionally distant, corporate douchebag father, to man child, so fluidly. And his gradual character change in the film never feels forced or sudden. The child actors are all surprisingly good, which is a common trait among Spielberg films because he actually knows how to direct kids. I hate Rufio. He's a fucking retarded little bitch. I did like his death though. It made sense out of his character in a very Spielbergian way. Clearly though, the best character/actor in the film was Hook/Dustin Hoffman. He is both a sinister villain and a cartoon pirate at the same time. He is clearly a bad man. He kidnaps children from their beds and when he doesn't get his way he just tells his pirates to kill them all, in those words, although his motives are incredibly one dimensional, for the sake of it being a children's film. He is a very lonely and angry man, who resolves his issues by slaughtering children, because of his never ending rivalry with a then-absent Peter Pan.

3) The character development of Peter Pan: This film asks a pretty interesting question; What would happen if Peter Pan grew up? Peter Pan was the eternally young leader of the lost boys, who refused to grow up and battle grown ups, who on Neverland became Pirates. Now he is a middle aged asshole, who is married to his job, can't commit to his children fully, and has an implied drinking problem. He has become distant, both physically and emotionally, from Wendy, his former love and guardian (by means of foster care), because he is subconsciously repressing the memories of his childhood because adults don't want to be lost boys. So the whole plot is basically him remembering to become Peter Pan again just so he can battle Hook and save his kids. The whole time he is incredibly reluctant to down the green tights and crow again, because he can't, or rather doesn't want to, believe that any of it is real. The film offers some interesting emotional insight into the psychology of the character by giving him a tragic (somewhat) back story, as well as a fear of death, which results in him refusing to grow up. Once he remembers that he was Peter Pan, he refers to full on child mode, just like the film Jack, but soon after he realizes his mission, he straightens out and becomes Peter Pan in spirit and Peter Banning in mind.
4) The Music: Spielberg + John Williams = enough said
Now for the cons.
1) The third act: This is where things get ridiculous. After a pretty adult build up, the film slips into children's fare. Which is a giant disappointment because I think the first 2 acts are actually very good. Just the fact that pirates with guns and swords are losing in physical combat to a bunch of kids with paint and eggs. I understand that Rufio dies to give some vulnerability to the lost boys, but a few more casualties might have made me care a bit more in the final act. But that is almost impossible in a children's film, so there is really
nothing at stake and this sudden tonal shift from melancholy to camp is really underwhelming and I can't roll my eyes or facepalm enough at the climax.

All in all, the film is actually a pretty good film, filled with great visuals, music, and acting, but is disjointed by an abrupt and clumsy third act. Its still a fun film and I really enjoy the final shot. It makes me look forward to another sunrise. So, if you haven't seen it in a while give it another go, and if you didn't like it when it came out, you probably wont enjoy it now. But it shows an adult where the line is crossed from being too serious and for kids to show some responsibility and grow up, but just not so fast
     -L,K

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Hot Dog: The Movie

Boy do I have a treat for you guys today, Hot Dog: The Movie!!!! Hot Dog: The Movie is the absolute most cliched and generic film of the 1980's. Its nothing but stupid one liners, and gratuitous sex. The plot follows a young skier as he has to beat his rival, a world famous freestyle skier from Austria, just on the principle that the Austrian and his crew are all jerks. The movie is basically a Friday the 13th without any killing.
The clerk at the motel answers the bell naked

The skiers are all one dimensional stereotypes and the whole film is padded with nudity, sex and partying. Its delicious, delicious cheese, and I can't get enough of it. The soundtrack is actually really good, which is an actual compliment. The film stars Patrick Houser as the hot shot young skier, and David Naughton ( An American Werewolf in London) as the burnt out and former legend, and a bunch of no name assholes. Its a film that gladly deserves the genre title, "Boy I Miss The 80s" and few other films are as gratuitous and over the top as this. Its as predictable as they come, and it has no bones about it. Its fucking stupid, cheesy, unrealistic, but man is it fun. Its perfect schlock, and its as good as they come. I rarely recommend a "so bad that its good" but this is a rare exception. Go check it out. And worst case scenario, you get to see lots of tits.
       -L.K

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Monday, December 17, 2012

Twilight


It fucking sucks
    -L.K

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Sunday, December 16, 2012

The Hobbit



After years of waiting, its finally time to return to Middle Earth. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is the last fanboy release of 2012, and like The Dark Knight Rises, was it worth the wait? Yes and No. The overall film experience was incredibly enjoyable. The film is always pleasing to look at, the acting was superb, and it was just nice returning the world that Peter Jackson first brought us to in 2001. In all honesty, my favorite parts of the film were the parts with the characters from The Lord Of The Rings. The meeting with Elrond, Saruman and Galadriel, the riddle scene with Gollum, but my favorite scene was in the beginning, where Ian Holm and Elijah Wood (Bilbo and Frodo respectively) are in Bagend and Bilbo is recounting, to himself, the events that made him a legend and begins writing his book. An overwhelming rush of nostalgia came crashing through and tears fell from my eyes. It felt great coming back. But this, unfortunately, soon became a running theme throughout the film, as I really felt a severe case of the "been-there-done-that". While I said the visuals were top notch, the CG is still stuck back in 2001. I have never been a fan of CG, and not to say that it is shitty, but I'm not wowed like I should be, like I was when I first saw Fellowship. The CG backgrounds were nice, just the creatures were a little too fake looking. This is, however, a minor complaint, because of my personal preference, and because I love fantasy films, which have all, but seemingly, disappeared from mainstream Hollywood films. The only CG that I actually really liked was the fight between the 2 stone giants, because I thought that was a great fantasy creature. The make up, the production design, as well as the cinematography, was beautiful.
Now, the no that I had was that the film wasn't an entirely satisfying experience. As opposed to The Fellowship Of The Ring, which felt like a thoroughly satisfying film, with its own resolutions and a largely rewarding climax, this film really felt unfinished. Another example was the split of the final Harry Potter films, which were satisfying as their own films. Don't get me wrong, I did enjoy this film, but I was left wanting, not because I craved more, but because I felt a bit ripped off by the lack of overall story being told.
My final consensus is, it is definitely a big film (both in grandeur and length) with nice visuals and fantastic acting, but it seems unnecessarily padded with nostalgia just so the studios can try and replicate the success of the original trilogy. Its wonderful coming back to Middle Earth, but its not quite the film that it should be because it was split into 3. I say give it a watch regardless, because it is a well told story and a fun one.
            -L.K

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Friday, December 14, 2012

Gremlins

I do love the winter season. Its my favorite excuse to wear heavier clothing, stay indoors longer, and watch holiday themed films. I generally like to avoid more cliched and generic holiday films, and I tend to lean toward the less conventional. One of my favorite films is Gremlins, from director Joe Dante. Gremlins is one of the most bizarre, but fun films of the 1980's, that starts as a family film, then becomes a horror film, then becomes a dark comedy, then reverts to a horror film. Its about a family that gets a cute, little, mysterious pet, called a Mogwai, for Christmas, but it multiplies when it gets exposed to water, and the other Mogwai's are fucking assholes. They are like frat boys. But when they are fed after midnight (which was a rule that was given as the Mogwai was purchased) they mutate into monsters, now they are like soccer hooligans. The creatures that first started off as minor annoyances, have turned into full blown monsters. These things are bastards!!! They drink, they smoke and they kill. And its all for their fun. But god, is it entertaining to watch. The movie is a perfect cross between horror and comedy. It almost feels like a Looney Tunes cartoon (even featuring Looney Tunes artist Chuck Jones in a small cameo). All you need to see or know about this film are the Gremlins, themselves. I'm not going to go in depth about the plot, because Frankly, I don't watch this film for the plot, just the Gremlins. That, and Phoebe Cates. Once they creatures mutate, it becomes a horror film, after the creatures seemingly overrun the town, it becomes a comedy. All the antics that they get into is hilarious and some of the most entertaining scenes from the 80's. It is a damn shame that movie aren't made like this anymore. Never again will you see monsters gambling, drinking, singing to Snow White and flashing woman all in the same film. If you love monsters, slapstick, Frank Welker, or the 80's, give Gremlins a go. I will pop this baby in anytime and because there is so much going on, there is always something I missed before, and I will never get tired of it.
Tis the season
-L.K

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Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The People Vs. George Lucas

What can be said about George Lucas that hasn't already been said? Well, a lot apparently. Such is the subject of Alexadre O. Phillippe's documentary The People Vs. George Lucas. It goes without saying many people dedicated their entire lives to Star Wars, and when a new Star Wars film was announced, all those people lost their shit. Some more literally than others. Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace was easily the most anticipated film of all time. Like I said about the Dark Knight Rises, it couldn't live up to its huge expectations, but the difference is that Star Wars has a huge cult following and the fans wanted to like it, myself included. But as time went on, we learned that it sucked like a Dyson. Then some years went by and we all gave Lucas another shot and the benefit of the doubt, and he fooled us again. Fool me once shame on you, fool me twice... And then he got us again, but by this time we all realized that Lucas is not the genius creator we want him to be. These films angered his fans, almost across the board. Many went as far as to say that "George Lucas ruined my childhood" Now with a title like this, you may think that the arguments would be very one sided, but, more or less, all sides are examined and its not just an hour and a half of 46 year old fanboys complaining about the star wars prequels. As a lifelong fan of Star Wars, I was very eager to hear international opinions from level headed professionals (not just angry fanboys) on what George Lucas started as, and eventually became. Star Wars is a phenomenon. There have been toys, books, models, board games, fan films. Its one of the biggest events in our history. For some, its not just the biggest part of their life, it IS their life. And when Lucas comes along and changes his films, he IS indirectly changing their life. Sure there was complaining from fanboys, but the film isn't as angry as it would seem. The people seem more baffled by Lucas' decisions than angry. Keep in mind, the people being interviewed are grown ups with real jobs, that live and work in the real world. It is spliced with clips from fan films from people that wanted to make their very own star wars, some of those people grew up to work in Hollywood as editors, animators, etc. Also shown are clips from various mediums where people shown utter disgust at either the prequels or the special editions. Especially Simon Pegg from an episode of Spaced where he yells at a child because the child didn't know what it was like to grow up with Star Wars.
  
This film wasn't just an introspective through the eyes of some people that used to like Star Wars before it was tragically exploited by a cold, money hungry business man, but it was also nostalgic hearing people talk about how Star Wars affected them in a positive light and how it first touched them. It really brought me back to a time when Star Wars was my world, because every male child, and some female children, experience that at some point. Star Wars isn't just a movie, and this film proves it. Love George Lucas, or hate him, but he did craft the largest Sci Fi franchise of all time. Granted, not on his own, but the man still gave us Star Wars, and any fan who loves Star Wars or documentaries should give this a watch. I highly recommend this, and I recommend you all recommend this.
        -L.K.
May the force be with you

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Dredd 3D

Here it is. The most manly movie of the last 25 years. DREDD 3D!!!!!!!!! I have nothing but positive to say about this film as both a fan of the source material and a fan of 80's action films. Its lean, its gritty, it has deadpan humor and its got shit getting fucked up. This movie is so manly it made me wish I lived in Tennessee and had a wife, so I could beat her and nobody would judge me, no pun intended. The plot is simple, 2 cops, a day in the life. I love this film for 2 different reasons:
Olivia Thirlby as Judge Anderson
1) As a fan of the source material, this was a perfect adaptation of the character of Judge Dredd. This was no nonsense, pure adrenaline, fascistic, mega city 1. Mega City 1 looked fantastic. It was bleak, disgusting, depressing, and I really felt a sense of hopelessness among the people. People were acting out of desperation and not because everyone in Mega City 1 is a violent drug addict or a criminal. Now for the real draw of the film, Judge Dredd himself. This is easily the greatest performance from a jaw line that I have ever seen. Karl Urban as Dredd may be the best performance of a comic book character, as far as page to screen goes. He nailed Dredd, like Dredd nails perps. He was cold, he was a fascist, his humor was spot on and deadpan, and the helmet stayed on. I especially liked in the opening scene when he was suiting up and his face was obscured in shadows to show that Dredd is human, but the anonymous face of the law. Dredd will take down law breakers by any means necessary. But Dredd isn't without emotion, and the humanity is carried by the beautiful Judge Anderson, played by Olivia Thirlby (Juno). She is the other side of the coin for the Judges. She shows that crime isn't so black and white and has to make hard decisions, whereas Dredd will just Judge criminals as he sees them, as is his job. And even though I would fuck a guy to fuck Thirlby, Dredd showed no emotional or sexual interest in Anderson, as it damn well should be (Fuck you Danny Cannon), not that the film was without sexual content. The villain, Madison Madrigal, played by Cercei Lannister was a bit thin, and it would have been nice to see a classic Dredd villain, but the film was about the introduction to the Dredd character and a day in the life of both the Judges and Mega City 1, so it was appropriate for the sake of the story. You don't want to be overwhelmed with introducing too many characters when a franchise has yet to establish its main characters.

Bullet through the jaw in slow motion
2)The sheer brutality of the film. Not since the days of Paul Verhoeven and John McTiernan have we seen action films of this caliber and violence. It was a decent story, with characters that were likable and also raised questions about the judicial system, while doing it 200 mph and blowing up whatever they could. Right off the bat the audience gets pumped from the pounding score from Paul Leonard Morgan. In the hands of Paul W.S. Anderson, this might have been plagued with modern rock bands and faux metal bands from mtv2 and it would have made the film feel cheesy in its action scenes, but the pulsating music helps move the film along with ease and the audience is never left feeling bored. I would equate the action in this film to the likes of Robocop or Total Recall, in its intensity. Not a single punch was pulled, nor a fuck was given, it was in your face, literally. This is a rare time where you would want to shell out the extra 5 bucks for 3d. The filmmakers really wanted to show the violent world that is Judge Dredd and this definitely hurt the box office returns, but it was a gamble that Lionsgate took, and as a film goer, I applaud them. Action movies are seldom R rated anymore, instead they are big budget blockbusters featuring super heroes, or are adaptations of books. To top it off, if was made on a modest budget, just to show us that quality action films can be made for under $150 million. The deaths weren't your typical "get shot and fall down", people were getting fucked up, and sometimes in slow motion. The plot is that Dredd takes the rookie Judge Anderson on her first day to evaluate her and that leads the 2 of them to a project where the drug "Slo-Mo" is being manufactured, so there was a clever utilization of slow motion. The slow motion was properly used and was an excuse to make some of the deaths more visceral, of which included a slow motion gunshot through a man's jaw.
Buy my film, assholes!!!!!!
Unfortunately, the box office returns for Dredd were very poor so it seems unlikely now that we may get another one, which is really heartbreaking, considering that there were 5 Twilight movies and 3 Transformers movies (with a fourth installment on the way). One reason for this may be attributed to the Indonesian film The Raid, which was also kick ass, but Dredd was made a year earlier, so if that is your reason for not seeing this film, you are a fucking asshole and a moron. Dredd just took a while to be picked up by a distributor.  The screenwriter, Alex Garland had planned out a trilogy featuring Satanus, a talking T Rex, and the Dark Judges, who are sick like AIDS, which, if this movie says anything about the future of the franchise, would be both tastefully done and incredibly badass. Hopefully some of you reading this will go out and see this film. Its almost definitely out of theaters right now, but it will be out on home video soon, and I urge you to rent it, buy it or throw any kind of money you can at this film because it is in my top 5 films of this year, and absolutely the best action film since Total Recall. 4 stars, 5 stars, 10 out of 10, thumbs up. Perfect film. Do yourself a favor and see this film, otherwise you are just hurting yourself.


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Lawless

Lawless is a film based on the real life story of the Bondurant brothers and their bootlegging operation. The film stars Shia Lebeouf, Tom Hardy, Jessica Chastain, Dane Dehaan and Guy Pierce. Gary Oldman is also in the film, but it is the biggest waste of  Gary Oldman since Red Riding Hood, seeing how he is only in 3 or 4 scenes. The plot is relatively straight forward, the brothers are bootlegging and an enforcer from Chicago is trying to shut them down. The acting is top notch, the visual aspect is superb, and the pacing was fluid, but the main problem that the film has is that the supporting cast way outshines the lead. I'll say this now, I think Shia Lebeouf is a fine actor and has a bad reputation because he was apart of the Transformers franchise, but he is certainly not Guy Pierce or Tom Hardy. Every scene that Hardy or Pierce appear in, they dominate, without question. Forrest Bondurant (Hardy) is one of my favorite protagonists of 2012, while Charlie Rakes (Pierce) was one of the most devious villains of 2012, even though no character is actually a good guy in this film. The main draw to this film is Hardy. He is such a badass, and he just wouldn't fucking die!!!!!! Only because this was a true story was I not taken out of the film from Hardy's resilience. Hardy's recovery scenes are so entertaining, especially the scene at the very end of the film, and are among may favorite moments from films this year. There are 2 acceptable kinds of villains on screen, the love to hate them (The Joker, Ben Linus, Anton Chugarh) and the villains that you want to see lose (Brad Wesley, William Stryker and those asshole wolves from The Grey) and Rakes is exactly that kind of villain. He's cold, he's strict, he's sadistic, and he's pure evil. There isn't a likable quality about this man. I really wanted to see him pay, and boy did he pay.
Its really not one of the best films of the year, but it was one of the most overlooked. It didn't live up to its potential considering its astounding cast, but Hardy and Pierce are still worth the watch. I recommend it highly, even though there were better films this year, but I am afraid this one might end up fading into obscurity.
        -L.K

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The Dark Knight Rises





Because I never got around to it, here are my thoughts on Christopher Nolan's epic conclusion to the critical and financial juggernaut, Batman trilogy. Ever since 2008's "The Dark Knight" anticipation has been high for not only a follow up, but a conclusion. It took 4 years, but was it worth the wait? The Dark Knight Rises was easily the most anticipated film of 2012, which is saying a lot considering its competition (The Hobbit, The Avengers, Prometheus, Skyfall, Breaking Dawn: Part 2, Django Unchained, The Lackluster Spiderman, Lincoln and Chasing Mavericks). Slowly we, as film goers, heard casting details, saw production stills, and read details about the plot. All seemed very promising at the time, but the question we all had on our minds was, would it live up to the expectations set by its predecessor? In all fairness, how could it? The Dark Knight changed the game, not just for comic book movies, but major blockbusters in general. Films are feeling the ripple from the Dark Knight, causing darker story lines, more grounded and realistic action set pieces and more sinister and less cartoony villains. Its evident in films and posters all the time. So the bar is set pretty high for this film, and it was nipping at the heels of 2012's other major summer release and main rival, "Marvel's The Avengers", which had the gift of surpassing expectations, we all knew that that film could have been a disaster, but this review is about The Dark Knight Rises, and was it worth the wait? This reviewer is divided on the question. I liked many aspects of it, but I felt because the bar was so high that Nolan felt he had to shoot for the moon, but ultimately overshot it. The opening was exciting, and that goes to say, that the action was very well executed and there were some genuinely haunting images when Gotham falls into chaos, but overall its very inconsistent as a story. The first act, in my opinion, contradicts the final act of The Dark Knight. Bruce stops being batman because his girlfriend died? That would be okay if there wasn't that epic speech (my favorite moment in the entire Batman franchise). The whole point is that Batman told Gordon that he is going to keep being Batman, because Gotham needs him, and he was going to martyr himself for the sake of Gotham, because he can take it, he is The Dark Knight. But he just stopped being Batman after the confrontation with two-face? That seems silly considering the way the previous film ended. So after that night, Gotham City, a city that was notorious for its high crime rate, just reverts to so little crime that Gordon is being forced to retire, despite all he did for the city. If anything, the city should propose Gordon to run for mayor. Without getting too far into spoiler territory, an incident with Selina Kyle forces Wayne into donning the batsuit which leads him into his confrontation with Ubu, or as he's known in the film, Bane. I personally thought that Catwoman was the best part of the film, even though she was never referred to as Catwoman. The chase out of the stock exchange was pretty satisfying, and I was thoroughly pleased seeing Batman kick ass again, but when he meets Bane, the tables are turned. I felt Bane was the best choice of villain, and I had been saying since day 1 that he needs to fight Bane. And boy did Bane beat the shit out of him. It was almost uncomfortable how devastating Batman got his ass handed to him. Despite that fact that I could only hear every other word that Bane said, I thought the performance was excellent. Because his face was covered for the whole film, he had to resort to body language, and Tom Hardy truly understood that. But the accent was questionable. What the fuck was it? Dutch? So while bane takes over Gotham, Batman is stuck in India in a prison where an inmate performs back alley surgery to fix his back by popping in a vertebrae like a dislocated shoulder and over the course of three months he trains to escape. And this is where the schlock begins. I have far too many questions regarding the third act for this to be a perfect movie, let alone a candidate for best picture. Batman has to make a jump from a stone in the wall of the prison to a higher stone so he can climb out. Now if he had made this jump in one shot, I would have bought that, he's fucking BATMAN!!!!!!! But since they have to add """""""""tension""""""""" (I put it in so many quotes because the tension was immediately dissolved because the rope that secured him would have snapped his back and there is now nothing at stake when you can keep recovering from broken backs), I was taken out of the film. So here are some more questions; When Bane seized Gotham, and it is overrun with terrorists, why is there an underground movement of cops running rampant and alive? When they clearly showed that nobody could get in or out of Gotham, how did Batman get back in? If they were just going to detonate the nuclear bomb, why did Bane and Thalia wait five months to do it? How did John Blake figure out that Wayne was Batman based on his smile? How did the cops with Billy clubs defeat the terrorists with the Kevlar ak AK-47s?  And the questions go on for another seventy six lines. But that being said, I enjoyed the resolution and Wayne ending up with a good looking girl for once, because he deserved it. I mostly went into the cons of the film, but there were a lot of pros. The performances were good, save Marion Cotiliard in a particularly hammy performance and she very much gave away who her character was, all the action scenes were good, the cinematography from Wally Pfister was fantastic, and it was nice to see a worthwhile ending to a great story. Sure there were problems, but it was still a very good film. It didn't live up to expectations, and for me it was the most disappointing film of the year, but with a bar so high, how could it reach it? So I do ultimately recommend it, but there were far greater films that came out this summer. See it if you can, just don't expect another Dark Knight.

          -L.K
Oh, and John Blake being named Robin is fucking retarded

My new reviews

Hey guys, since I no longer do unscripted reviews (for which I am very sorry) but people are still asking for new reviews, so I am just going to be doing text reviews. I do have a lot of catching up. I will go in depth for some reviews, and I will barely scratch the surface for others, depending on whether I feel there is much to be said about the film. I will be doing movies that are new releases and movies that are old, only if I think that they are worth your time. So stay tuned. I will be reviewing movies that I failed to review upon initial release, and some of my favorite films and I will be ending the year with a top ten list of films from this year. Best and worst. Thanks for reading
              -L.K. Mother Fucking Sorcerer