The Miscellaneousness of December

Wow. The year is almost up. As usual, I am nowhere near giving you a Top Ten List.... hopefully you don't have to wait until May to get it...but you'll probably have to wait until at least March sadly. I'm pretty excited to put this year to bed to be honest. I know I still have a lot of movies left to see, but so far there hasn't been a movie that's blown me away like there were in 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010. There's been a lot of good ones for sure that I will gladly put on the list...but I'm not sure I've seen any "whoa..." movies yet.

In the meantime, I can at the very least give you another brief recap of films I've watched this month. I've been able to go to the theater a lot more during the holidays and see a few winter blockbusters (and one dud). We'll break it up by Holiday classics, Theater watches and then the lone rental.


Well....I didn't have the same devotion for holiday films like I did Halloween ones back in October...but I did watch a few.

Rudolph The Red-nosed Reindeer & Santa Clause is Coming to TownThese little holiday gems are just so silly and adorable. I love its cheesiness...the movies constantly (though perhaps unintentionally on their part) make me laugh pretty hard with dated/ridiculous comments such as "No. This is man's work." and "I'm a MAN now Tanta." haha! But honestly, they're harmless, fun little family friendly movies featuring songs with catchy melodies. Nothing wrong with that. Definitely movies I plan to show my own... "little ones" one day. But I'll never call them little ones. Not ever. I give these... an 8

Elf. Is this the lone holiday new classic to come out of the last decade? I think so. But it's certainly a delight. This is one of Will Ferrell's best and most likable performances. His childlike innocence in his portrayal really drives the film and it just wouldn't work without it. Elf is a fun holiday movie that still makes me laugh. Definitely one of the movies I try to make an effort to watch during the season. Also, anything with Zooey Deschanel can't be bad right? Oh, wait... Failure to Launch and half of her other filmography still exists...darn. Still love her though! I give this... an 8

Love ActuallyHalf holiday film, half romantic comedy full of a dozen huge celebs...but for me, hits all the right points that an ensemble rom-com should. Miraculously, with all the storylines, the filmmakers were still able to strike a balance and be able to say a lot without spending a ton of time on everyone. There are many scenes in this film that are so well done, that nothing more needs to be said. It also benefits from a cast that can actually take the challenge of less is more. Emma Thompson, in particular, is a standout...she can make you really care about her character with only a handful of scenes. In general, I think the film says a lot of interesting things about the different forms love takes and its effects. Too bad the American copycats Valentines Day and New Years Eve fail to get down the formula Love Actually mastered. I rate this as... 7.7

It's A Wonderful Life. One of the best holiday, and non-holiday films alike of all. I don't think it's possible for this movie not to make me cry. Movies that focus on the good of mankind and our own individual purpose in life fill me with hope and happiness, and each time I watch this movie it definitely happens. Watching it in a modern context though, its flaws (though certainly forgivable) are apparent. The pacing of the film and its length are the most notable. If you have seen it before and are waiting for the outcome of the film...the life of George Bailey feels so long when you're waiting to see the why's of it. There's definitely some things that could have been cut to make it a little more concise. Two more things. I love the chemistry between Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed in the telephone scene...but the conclusion of it just seems off...and perhaps too violent for my modern tastes. Finally, it's just too implausible that Mary NEVER would have married and would have become so dowdy. She was gorgeous! Plus if I was George and saw that in the alternate timeline I wouldn't have been depressed about that at all. Hehe. Me? Selfish? Never. But seriously, all that said....this movie is so well-made and just altogether wonderful from start to finish. An American classic and on my list of top films for sure. I'd give it a 9.8


Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows. I have pretty similar feelings of this one to the first. I love RDJ and Jude Law in their roles, and it is their bro chemistry that makes these films work. I just have a hard time with the plots and structure of the films. This one too could have benefited a lot from some more editing. There's a fine line between clever and convoluted and I feel the screenwriter of these films too often crosses it. You know what would be better than an action star Sherlock Holmes? If you just took one of the books and made THAT into a movie with the same actors. Sherlock Holmes doesn't need all of what the movies give him...less is more. The characters definitely make these movies though...if it weren't for them I'd say to skip them almost entirely. But I'll give it a 6.7.

New Years Eve. Ugh. Just ugh. This is the broke man's (not even just poor man's) Love Actually. Here you DON'T have the actors who are capable of less is more....and yes that is even including Oscar winners Robert De Niro, Halle Berry and Hilary Swank. Some of the storylines had me bored to tears and each time they came on I just said to myself "Whyyyyyy??" It's notable to say the storylines weren't ALL terrible (Zac Efron and Michelle Pfeiffer had some almost charming moments!) But many moments were pretty cringeworthy and cliched (most notably a speech about hope by Hilary Swank in the middle of the film had me gagging.) But the worst....and I mean THE WORST moment had to be the hunky Josh Duhamel looking for his mystery perfect woman all night to find out that it is SPOILER ALERT Sarah Jessica Parker. Are you kidding me?? In what universe is that believable? Yes, I know the man is married to Fergie...but please.... who did SJP buy off for that role? The tacked on message of hope in the new year is all fine and good....but I prefer seeing it in a movie like oh...say When Harry Met Sally where that one scene manages to be better than this whole movie. Can't say that was too hard of a feat though.. I give it a 4/10 and honestly that's kind of generous..

When he found out the film's ending he said "Her?"

Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol. This movie, was an unexpected (yet expected since I'd seen the glowing reviews) blast. Seriously. It was just so much fun from start to finish. I don't know how memorable it will end up being in the long run, but it had some pretty cool and fun moments. The gadgetry as always remains the coolest thing in these movies and there were some pretty impressive moments in this one. The cast was having fun, and so it was easy to have fun along with them! Simon Pegg really lightened it up and I enjoyed his presence here. This movie probably had equal amounts of action that Sherlock Holmes did, but for some reason I was far more interested in it here...probably due to the way each sequence was paced I think. The slo-mo in the middle of Sherlock's action scenes didn't do it any favors. Here it was so fast paced you were just trying to keep up....rather than finding yourself a little bored. I give this.. a 7.7


Friends with Benefits. Gotta say, I had ZERO expectations with this movie. So it was a delightful surprise to find that I enjoyed it as much as I did! Sure it's not out to change the rom-com genre, as it carefully abides by the formula....but the difference here is that 1. it's a little more self-aware and less manipulative than the average rom-com and 2. its stars have incredible chemistry. Sometimes all you need is two actors to really sell you on something....and they did...they earned that rom-com ending. I found many blurbs on Rotten Tomatoes that perfectly summed up my thoughts on the matter.

"Yeah, we all know the formula. But when it works and the chemistry is just right, we love seeing exactly what we expect and hope for."

"It is elevated by energetic dialogue, the sexual chemistry between the leads and the fact that the miscommunication that keeps bliss at bay - there's always one in a rom-com, and usually it is annoyingly unbelievable - is plausible."

"Kunis and Timberlake achieve the trickier feat of looking just as happy hanging out as they do sucking face, and when the clich├ęs inevitably come rolling in, they feel earned rather than like a cop-out."

Emily gives it... a 7.9

Well....that oughta do it for 2011. Hopefully I can get that top ten list out there realllll soon. But for now...we'll just have to brace ourselves for the winter movie drought ahead. sigh. But after that slump we've got some good stuff to look forward to! Dark Knight Rises, The Amazing Spider-man, The Hobbit, Prometheus. Bring on 2012 (even if it is the end of the world :) )


The Muppets and... Film Fashion?

So on Saturday I got to go see The Muppets with my two nephews, my mom, sister, and brother-in-law. The movie was extremely clever and appealed to me on too many levels! It starred and was also co-written by the clever Jason Segel, who I just adore in everything he's in (but particularly his lovable goofball counterpart Marshall Eriksen on How I Met Your Mother.) The songs were written by Flight of the Conchords' Bret McKenzie (and happily, it showed.) It had segments in Los Angeles and Paris. It broke the fourth wall of filmmaking in very hilarious ways. AND watching my nephew watch it was priceless. Honestly, it's very funny and heartwarming and I would completely recommend it to anyone. Ohhhh and also it pretty much featured everyone from all the shows I've ever loved (Jim from The Office...even though it's meh now, his character will always be a love of mine. Troy and Senor Chang from the hilarious show everyone should watch, Community. And another HIMYM star Neil Patrick Harris.) I would recommend it to anyone and give it a solid 8.7 to tie with Hugo. But what I'm gonna write about in this here blog is about Amy Adams' character and a blog topic Laurie wanted me to write about a long, long time ago (but in this galaxy..)

Back when I first was starting this blog Laurie was saying how I should write a blog about film fashion and if I could choose any movie characters' wardrobe to completely steal, whose would it be? That there was a pretty tough question! Especially when you consider all the genres of film costumes there are to pick from. I've always been an ardent appreciator of all things costume related in film whether it be in a period piece, space opera or contemporary film. I've loved Padme's costumes in the latter two Star Wars prequels, (even some of Leia's dresses were cool...like the one at the end of A New Hope) and I've coveted Kate Winslet's closet in Titanic, as well as Gwyneth Paltrow's in Emma. When Laurie had asked the question a year ago I just answered without thinking, "Summer's." from you know what. Then she challenged me and pointed out that I'd have to wear EVERYTHING. When I re-examined the outfits, I concluded that while Zooey can pull off those vintage-y high waisted pants, I could not. She did own a lot of the color blue, and very cute dresses and shirts.... but the style-- though adorable, really wasn't the one I would straight up steal.

My next thought was its gotta be Breakfast at Tiffany's or Sabrina. Audrey Hepburn wears the most beautiful gowns in those films. But again....when do I have the occasion to wear gowns all the time? When I saw The Muppets and every time Amy Adams walked on the screen in a new outfit I was freaking out. This is the one. This is the wardrobe! A similar style to summer with the vintage dresses, but more applicable to anyone. She just looked so put together in every single scene. There was only one outfit I didn't care for, but not because it wasn't adorable...just because it was in peach. So, if I could just exchange the outfit in another color...we're in business. And even if I couldn't, I'd just try and see if I could pull off the color peach anyway because the shirt and skirt were cute enough.

My very very close runner-up would be Michelle Monaghan's wardrobe in the terrible rom-com Made of Honor. All I really remember about that dumb movie was thinking that the only good thing about it was waiting to see what her character would wear next time she would be on screen... and every time I would utter, like the lady in Napolean Dynamite, "I want that!" Honestly, Adams' wardrobe probably only got the edge because the movie that wardrobe was in was so dumb. So anyway... whose would you pick? I know my mom kept mentioning while I was talking about Amy Adams' wardrobe, how much she liked Miss Piggy's. Haha! Oh and the second runner up goes to Alexis Bledel's Lena in the second half of The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants and its sequel (other than the dreadful pants that are...) But again...dumb movies so they shall not take the top honors.

Sorry, ladies. Get rid of those ugly pants and get out of your terrible films and then we'll talk.


Movies about movies for lovers of movies

So a few days ago I checked Rotten Tomatoes as I tend to do everyday, and I was astonished to see two new releases at 97 and 98% respectively. I was already planning to see The Muppets, (and did, I'll write briefly about it in another blog..) but I had no plans or intentions to see Hugo until I read the hype. While I loved Martin Scorsese's last film Shutter Island as well as all of star Chloe Moretz's films, I found the trailer somewhat amusing but pretty underwhelming. If I saw it at all it'd be in a $ theater or on redbox...and I certainly wouldn't be paying to see it in 3D. But then I read the reviews... And so, I got myself to the cinema and paid the price for a 3D matinee to see what all the fuss was about....and honestly, I had no idea really what to expect.

For some reason, the trailer gave me the impression that this would be some magical type film in the vein of Narnia...but more like some sort of weird magical rip off haha. What I found was that the film was much more rooted in reality. In fact, it was rooted in a few aspects of my favorite realities :) The first was that the film was so incredibly beautiful to look at. Why? Because it was set in my second home Paris...and the 3D just lit it up. Secondly, I was actually completely unaware that the movie was basically a huge homage to the history of cinema. I'm not gonna lie, I was kind of freaking out at seeing all these things I've learned about in classes on how my beloved medium came to be and then seeing it up there on a modern screen...it was amazing. (Actually, the moments in The Muppets where they broke the rule of addressing the audience directly and talked about film elements were among my favorites..I just love films and I love talking films in movies...if that makes sense haha) I don't know that I'd call the film a masterpiece because it certainly could have been a bit tighter. I really struggled with the pacing....but once it finally hit its movie loving rhythm I just ate it up.

Movies about the power of movies always hold a special place in my heart, and this one did make me tear up a few times because of how thankful I really am for it....cheesy I know, but it's true. Hugo joins the likes of films such as the beautiful Cinema Paradiso, the goofy and ridiculous Be Kind Rewind, the brilliant Kaufman film Adaptation, Tim Burton's classic Ed Wood and the Woody Allen ode to the cinema, The Purple Rose of Cairo. There's just something special to me when filmmakers show how much they really love the product they're making, and that to them...it's more than a product. It's art, and it has a purpose. Whether the purpose is to entertain, teach or inspire, it makes me happy when I know that the person making it sincerely cares about their craft and the ways they can connect with an audience through it. Because when I know they care, it makes it a lot easier for me to care about what they have to say too...and any message that praises the true potential of film is pretty okay in my book.

So as for Hugo, seeing film history up on the screen that I've both been learning about and watching for years was pretty amazing....especially seeing them in such a modern medium as 3D. The film was beautiful enough to warrant a viewing on its own, but for any lover of film it's a must see. You just gotta be patient during the film's lulls. I think I shall give it a 8.5/10. So....what are your favorite movies about movies? Sunset Boulevard? Singin' in the Rain? Something else not mentioned here? Do tell!

The Art of Timelessness

For as long as I can remember, every Thanksgiving in the Mackay household has ended with the viewing of the film A Christmas Story to ring in the Christmas season. Not only is the film a family favorite, it also happens to be an American Christmas classic. The older I get, the more I appreciate its humor and overall portrayal of the holiday season. It really captures what it feels like to be a kid at Christmas time...and not just during the 1940's...but during any era! Everything is built up in your own little world towards that one day and the presents that you might receive during it! Most Christmas films focus on the holiday itself, but it really is the whole month and the events that surround it that make up a kid's Christmas and the movie gets that. The cast is all very talented and the movie never really seems to get old. I've seen it 25 some odd times now and I only like it more and more. (It may just be because I can really relate to Randy, but who knows...)

Anyway, aside from all the strengths of the writing and performances, [quick side note before I move onto the main topic of the blog.... On the topic of performances: I just love seeing the joy on The Old Man's face when Ralphie finally opens his beloved present... it just shows the depth of his character and the joy he does get in the simple moments... okay side note over] one thing that always impresses me about A Christmas Story is how much it just nails the look of the period. I mean not that I was there, but it feels authentic...and every time I watch it I think of it as the 40's, and NOT the 80's in which it was made. The only flaw and the sign of the 80's was the mom's hair, but even so...it doesn't detract from the film. Unlike say.... Dirty Dancing, which is probably the worst period movie I can ever think of. I can't believe it tries to pass off that it was set in the 60's with all that 80's hair and music. But back to the authentic side, Back to the Future's 1950's sequences also always really impress me too.

Seriously? Did People dress like this in the 1960's? I don think so.

One the upcoming movies I'm looking forward to is a black & white silent film called The Artist set in the 20's era...and most of it looks so amazing, but every time I see the lead actress she kind of takes me out of it. Not 1920's at all. But, it's been getting fantastic reviews all across the board, so of course I'll be seeing it anyway. So this all leads to the question of what period films work and which have their time imprinted on them, AND which actors and actresses are great in period films and which aren't? It's funny to me how well some people like Johnny Depp, Kate Winslet, and Keira Knightley seem to be able to slip into any decade or era at ease, but you throw a Kirsten Dunst into something like Marie Antoinette and you think "this feels wrong..." (though that movie felt wrong for a myriad of reasons..) More questions I guess could be: what are the best timeless films featuring stories that anyone can relate to at any time? What are the best Christmas films? and..... What are the best timeless Christmas films? Oh and who are the best timeless, or can fit into anytime, actors and actresses? Did you get all that? Now discuss.


Reality vs. Expectations

Yesterday I was finally able to see the movie I've most been anticipating for months: the indie rom-dram, Like Crazy. I've gotten into a really bad habit lately of falling in love with trailers and setting up my expectations sky high. What can I say? For me, ever since (500) Days of Summer, the bar has been set unbelievably high..and I've been craving another like unto it. I've just really been waiting to fall in love with a film like that again...one that takes a fearless and truthful approach to examining relationships. Every time a new one emerges I start to hope, but when I see it....there's just always something that's just off. The flaws have ranged from too much melodrama, unlikable characters, second rate production skills, or not enough of the whimsy of being in love. But this gorgeous trailer with its likable cast, real to life plot, and beautiful imagery of two young lovers, as well as its Sundance awards and national critical acclaim to boot meant that this was a guarantee that I was gonna love this movie like crazy right? Well....that's the thing about expectations: nothing is a guarantee. BUT...that's not to say I didn't enjoy the film. I actually liked it a lot....I just didn't love it, and I really really wanted to.

Ironically, the whole movie is about expectations, and loving the idea of something far more than the actual thing. I can get that that is what the characters are doing....but what's frustrating to me, is that as a viewer I can't see the WHY of their motives or actions. Now, it's possible I was negatively affected by the fact that I saw the trailer way too many times. I was disappointed when I found that every scene that established their relationship I had already seen beforehand....and so I was left wanting to learn more of why their connection was so unique and amazing. I was told it was so by characters many times, but I didn't really see scenes of some deep bond....instead, I saw two people in the early stages of infatuation. I can see how maybe that was the point, but for me to be sold on the type of connection portrayed here, I need just a little more. The two stars Anton Yelchin and Felicity Jones both give terrific performances, and can almost make you forgive the weak establishment of their relationship...ALMOST. But not quite. Perhaps I would have been more forgiving of the lack of conversations between the two if I had felt that we as an audience were witnessing the sensation of love, and experiencing their firsts (I love you's, kisses, etc) along with them. But it was all just too fast and lacking substance (aka montagey).

Here's the thing. (And yes, this is where you knew the inevitable 5DOS comparison would come in,) In Summer, we came to find out in the end... SPOILER ALERT that Summer was all wrong for Tom. BUT, the film showed us why he thought that she was the only one for him, and what was unique and special about her to him. So we fell in love with the idea of them together too. Like Crazy showed a very realistic portrait of two people in love, but why they were in love we could not say. I get that might not have been the filmmakers goal to get into that, but if you're telling a story like this and you want it to stand out from the rest, this establishment is key. Why? Because it makes the audience feel there is something at risk, and it invests them in its protection. And, if you're using a line that one of the main characters Anna uses,"what I have with you, I don't have with any other person," you better back that up with clear cut examples...because she looked just as happy with love interest #2. Show me the difference, don't tell me the difference.

So that's the thing about expectations, they can kind of let you down when you've set them really high....or if you just happen to have a very tall measuring stick. HOWEVER, that doesn't mean they have to get in the way of noticing and appreciating the strengths. In fact, a part of me wants to go see the film again knowing full well what to expect and see if I feel a little bit differently...because the movie did have a lot to love about it. As I said, it felt very real...and I just loved that. Though not a lot of depth was really shown, the characters did feel lived in and authentic....I just wish I could have gotten to know them more. There were several scenes between them that really were just lovely, including the final scene which made the whole thing worth it. Seriously....it redeemed a LOT of the film and summarized the entire film beautifully. It had a very Graduate feel (haha even though I still haven't seen it...I just know.)

So anyway, I wanted to fall in love with the movie...but I just didn't. Maybe I will on subsequent viewings, but for now...I only like it as a friend :) I'd give it a 7.5 I think.

Also, I'd like to say I'm very interested in a lot of the cut footage from the film (the director said they had enough improvisations to create a whole other film...maybe there were a bit more conversational moments that would have improved it for me...) So, hopefully, a DVD version can shed some light for me. And even though I found the conversations in the film lacking in defining their bond, I have to say I really am impressed with the improvisations of these two actors who only had a script outline to work with. They really did become the characters and it showed...but a bit more dialogue between them while their relationship deepened couldn't have hurt. Improv that! Haha


My blog's craziest hits

So sometimes I just love getting on and exploring my stats page on blogger. It's always extremely fascinating to see things like where my audience is coming from, how they came to the blog, and which posts seem to be the most popular. There doesn't seem to be any rhyme or reason to any of it, but it's certainly amusing.

Unsurprisingly, my main audience comes from the United States, but I do get quite a few hits from England, Canada, Germany, Australia....even a little from Argentina and Brazil. Oh...and France too of course :)

The most viewed blog? My final Back to the Future blog written back in April 2010...but not trailing it too far behind is my blog written a MONTH ago about unnecessary sequels. In fact, the most used search term that brings people to the blog is "Beetlejuice small head." three other Beetlejuice ones were on my list too, including "Beetlejuice small head guy" and "small head Beetlejuice" Who knew so many people were searching for that!? I'm not gonna lie....when I saw that picture in my initial google search I KNEW it was the one for my blog. It was meant to be. People also seem to find this blog because they search for that Back to the Future III clock picture. Random.

The third most viewed blog goes to my blog on Little Miss Sunshine. I almost didn't even write it...so it's pretty crazy that one of the blogs I thought not many people would want to read turns out to be one of my most popular ones. Finally, I'll also mention my blog on The Back-up Plan, which I jokingly titled The Break-up Plan because I kept wanting to call that movie that title...for no explicable reason. But, apparently others felt the same way because they searched for it exactly as I titled it :)


Here's Johnny!!!!!

Title courtesy of Sean....even though I thought of it moments earlier in my head, but of course he deserves all the props always. As I am writing this, the month of October and Halloween are almost to a close. And so too is my experiment of watching only horror or Halloween-themed films all month. It is really one of the most difficult genres because, as with my problems with the rom-com, the industry lives and breathes by the formula which results in a lot of crap getting churned out to make an easy buck. But, there are some real gems from this genre in all of movie history and those were what I chose to focus on all month....and it was a lot of fun! In fact, it was almost my only outlet all month since I worked all. the. time....and didn't get as much time as I would have liked to go out and do some actual Halloween related activities. So then....let's just go ahead and recap the second half of the month just as I did the first...only one sentence per movie!

Single White Female - Missed this one from last post, I caught it on t.v., it's the better, original of the crappy/silly/laughable remake The Roommate....still no masterpiece, but it contains some pretty real tension.

Drag Me To Hell - I love this movie so much, so totally, outrageously, entertaining from start to finish...I think it's become an annual must for me now.

Hocus Pocus - Speaking of annual musts, this one has nostalgia written all over it and is entertaining in its own right...plus the jokes that flew over your head when you were a kid are pretty hilarious now in hindsight.

Beetle Juice - This one also had some humor in it I didn't pick up on until I got older, but also loved as a child. This film is so bizarre, but I just love it, nothing like it and oh so quotable. (dang two sentences!)

Shaun of the Dead - The whole movie is very funny and entertaining, but one exchange makes the whole thing just so unforgettable and hilarious to me.

Liz: what makes you think I'm going to take you back?
Shaun: you don't want to die single do you??
single friend in the same room: I think I'd like that bullet now.

I hear ya mister. Haha!

The Haunting
- Very creepy and classy old film that has an unfortunate, laughable remake. (Laurie and I have some real fond memories of that one don't we?)

The Shining
- I had actually never seen this before, and honest to goodness it is one of the best horror movies of all time I think....very effective and featuring an unforgettable performance by Jack Nicholson.

The Ring - A horror classic of the aughts, don't let anyone tell you this film is not amazing because of shameless sequels or wannabes...because honestly this film is so well made. It was absolutely horrifying the first time I watched it, (right Courtney??) and, even though, subsequent viewings has lessened the horror, it is still a very well made film (and I gotta give a shout out to the fantastic cinematography.)

- I wouldn't necessarily say I saved the best for last (because I've watched some reallllly good ones), but I thought what better to watch on Halloween than Halloween? A very, very well made and solid slasher flick...the model for ripoffs and wannabes that plague the cinemas today, but as something new...in its day...it must have been just terrifying because it is verry tense.

I guess that begs the question...what IS the best one? I wish I had more time because there really were so many movies I didn't get to watch...some I'd recently seen (Let Me In, Paranormal Activity and Insidious) and some I've never seen (like the sequels to Evil Dead), but I am kinda looking forward to returning to my normal programming, if you will....especially since there are a few releases (DVD and theater alike,) I'm looking forward to!

Also, as a side afterthought I'd like to briefly say how much I just love Halloween specials of my favorite comedy t.v. shows. How I Met Your Mother and especially Community have done some pretty great ones lately and in the past, annnnnnnnnnnd today I watched a bunch of classic (90's only for Simpsons!!) Simpsons "treehouse of horror" episodes. Those were the best. That show just used to be so hilariously clever. Shame. Anyway...that's all. Here's to you October and scary movies. We'll have to do this again this time next year!


I See Dead People

Whoo. It's been quite a month...and it's only going to get crazier. True to my word, I've watched nothing but movies that can somehow be tied into my Halloween theme. I started a blog a week ago that I was hoping would be similar in vein to my other blogs where I just give short synopses...but then I realized...I had far more to say about everything than I could in a short paragraph dedicated to each movie. So... instead I'm going to just give a preview and hope that at some point I can write individual blogs for a few of these at least...and I'll edit this blog later with links to them once they're written... But at this point, if nothing else I'll give a VERY brief recap of everything I've watched so far (if I can remember them all...) I'm going to limit myself to one sentence per film...two at most! So let's begin!

The Sixth Sense. This masterpiece features incredible performances from everyone involved, and even if you know already what's going down it is definitely still worth watching as there are still so many layers to analyze and important human drama.

1408. The film is solid and I like how it examines both our fears arising from the physical as well as the psychological....great performance by John Cusack, but I'm not sold on the ending (I hear there is an alternate director's cut that is pretty interesting though.)

Clue. A nostalgic childhood favorite that is very clever and quotable...and complete with three endings for the viewer to choose from (however, I feel the movie isn't complete unless you watch all of them!)

Young Frankenstein. The very funny classic with director Mel Brooks at his finest directing a cast that clearly had a good time.

Psycho. One of the greatest films of its kind of all time, this Hitchcock thriller is just amazing and still holds up extremely nicely. Honestly, you can't not watch this movie around Halloween. Dangit...that's two sentences...now three.

Strangers on a Train. Another Hitchcock thriller featuring a very real and terrifying premise, and of course it is very finely executed with high suspense!

Zombieland. Oh so violent, but oh how I love the characters, dialogue and a certain plot point that just elevates the movie to unforgettable.

The Addam's Family. Where did this one dud come from on the list? Ann made me do it. 90's remake of a classic 60's t.v. show does not equal a good movie or classic in its own right. Broke the sentence rule again, but the mini rant was worth it.

Rope. Another terrifyingly real concept of murder and suspense from Hitchcock...what can I say? The man is good.

Sweeney Todd. Incredibly dark, but the fantastic story of how revenge eats away at the soul directed by one of my faves Tim Burton. Great soundtrack too.

Dracula Dead and Loving It. Okay, this isn't the greatest or refined comedy ever....but there are just a few moments that really make me laugh...even just thinking about them.

Les Diaboliques. Saw this first a year ago in my film class in Paris and was absolutely terrified...still good the second time around but I was more negatively affected by pacing. Still a terrific film with a fantastic ending.

The Innocents. I'll give them major points for the creepy kids, as well as the ambiguity, it presents in the whole thing...but sometimes too much ambiguity can drive me nuts when I think "now what the heck did I just even watch??"

I feel like for sure I'm missing some...and if so, I'll have to include them in the next blog I guess....because there's still plenty more I plan to watch including Drag Me To Hell, The Shining, The Ring, Beetlejuice, Hocus Pocus and Shaun of the Dead among others. This has been so much fun watching all these movies this month...this might just have to become a tradition. It really makes you appreciate the genre and the holiday! Anyway, feel free to share your opinions on what I've listed and what else I must watch before the month is through!!


This is Halloween

As I mentioned with my Insidious blog a little while ago, I am determined to make the most of the Halloween season this year. So with October arriving....it begins. If I'm watching a movie at all this month, I'm going to make it a scary one....or a Halloween themed one. Tonight AMC aired a double feature of the underrated 2001 Nicole Kidman vehicle, The Others, and the 2003 Dennis Quaid/Sharon Stone "thriller" Cold Creek Manor. As I mentioned with the Insidious blog, well-made scary movies are pretty few and far between. And this double feature perfectly illustrated both ends of the spectrum. The Others is a simple, understated yet stylish ghost story...great when it came out ten years ago (oh my!) and still holds up today. Cold Creek Manor is just a preposterous piece of crap. And I'm not even through the movie yet. In fact, I just kept it going on AMC after The Others was over while beginning this blog to continue on in the scary movie tone. But it reminded me more of Thanksgiving than Halloween...because this movie is one big turkey. Haha

Watching the crappy latter film made all of the strengths that I came here to write about The Others stand out even more. As I mentioned, The Others is simple. It doesn't over-complicate things. While some might have issues with the pacing, (and I myself wish one certain subplot could have been a bit tighter) it does deliver some genuinely creepy moments...and when it gets near the end it really gets rolling. It's unfortunate that it was so close to when The Sixth Sense was released... yes there was a two year gap, but Sense was so powerful and stayed so much in the minds of people that many instantly dismissed this as being some sort of a rip-off or lesser version. It's not. It is its own film that works largely due to Nicole Kidman's gripping performance.

Technically, as a whole, the film is very well-made. Everyone aside from Kidman too, turn in solid performances, the direction is beautiful, and the perfect mood is set throughout that leads itself right into its clever finale. For good suspense films to work, most importantly they need to be focused. If a movie doesn't know what it's trying to be, an audience doesn't really know what to make of it either. What does that make? A pretty messy, uneven film. The thing about The Others is that it's not just a pretty decent movie of its genre, it's a pretty decent film period because it gets so much right.

Not that I had high expectations with Cold Creek Manor or anything...but I could have saved myself a lot of "stupid movie induced headaches" by reading up about it online before investing the time. I'm not even going to waste your time in analyzing it...I'm just going to say that it's awful and you can take my word for it. That's why you always should check out IMDB ratings and Rotten Tomatoes scores. The proof is in the pudding: Here are scores for The Others: IMDB rating - 7.7/10, Rotten Tomatoes score: 84%. Cold Creek Manor? IMDB rating - 4.8/10, Rotten Tomatoes score: 12%. Yeah...seriously these two sites basically always have the right idea. Gotta include two of my favorite RT blurbs because they're just too clever:

"As scary and predictable as a trip to the supermarket."
"The real suspense is whether or not we will ever get to the end of this movie."

Anyway, even though Manor was awful, The Others is a very good watch and a nice way to ring in the Halloween season. Let the creepy times roll!

Oh and the Emily ratings? The Others 8/10, Cold Creek Manor 2/10


September rentals and theater watches

I was on such a roll at the beginning of the month. And now where did that month go?? But it's all fantastic...October is one of my favorite months for sure and as I said earlier...I'll be gearing up for Halloween. But anyway, I certainly saw enough movies to blog about...and have had enough pet peeves to rant about. I can't really explain the lack of blogs, but I'll try and make amends anyhow. So now for some mini-reviews...mostly from rentals but anyway...

Take Me Home Tonight. A rotten tomatoes summary stated it best when it said: Tonight is neither funny nor original enough to live up to the comedies it evokes" It's unfortunate though...because there are some quality moments.But a few great moments does not a movie make. But Topher Grace is pretty likable....you could probably do worse for a mindless watch movie. A 5.5 is about right. Also gotta say Anna Faris was completely wasted.

Waiting for Forever. And this is the worse I was just talking about. 6% on rotten tomatoes. I knew it'd be awful. Knew it. But still...those trailer editors made me curious. They are sure good at their jobs. You just know any movie making a romantic case for stalkers is made of win. Some scenes were just laughable...and some plot lines were just incomprehensible. One RT reviewer said, "It's not just bad, it's fascinatingly bad." Totally how I felt too. It's like a car wreck movie and you can't look away. Almost unbearably awful...but a few scenes made it hilariously awful. And it gave me a chuckle to realize (only in the final scene...) that the whole thing was filmed in Utah. I had my suspicions beforehand though ha. Give it a 1.

Contagion. Pretty much the only movie I've seen in theaters in the last month! This movie was gripping, fascinating, realistic and well-made. But...to me hardly memorable. For me...I have to be able to invest in the characters and care about them for anything to really resonate. So people die...so what? Make me care about the characters to break my heart when I see such tragedies. As neat as it was to be so realistic...I'd rather see the other types of apocalyptic films where the movie has more fun with its audience. But that's just me. Gotta say I gasped at the random SLC reference haha. I give it a 7.

Bridesmaids. This movie was hilarious. A different kind of hilarious than I was expecting. For some reason, I anticipated that it would be more about how it sucks being single and also focus more on the actual bridesmaids and their antics. But it was more of one of those awkward disaster comedies that kind of make you feel uncomfortable. Some moments are kind of unbearable...and others are just way too funny. Kristen Wiig is just hysterical. 8.5

I'd seen this before, but just watched it again with Courtney and Ann. The movie is very refreshing and feels honest. I really like the way it's told and what it has to say. It's interesting seeing how different people's perspectives are on the same situation and how that perspective can shift over time. Also, I love how the movie teaches the importance of analyzing both life and people and recognizing the true worth within. A very sweet movie, but I'd probably have edited a few moments out. 8.3

Gone Baby Gone. Honestly....wow..this movie is just...amazing. Ben A f fleck directs this story about a detective couple who is hired to help find a missing child. But the film turns out to be even so much deeper as it introduces a great moral dilemma. Seriously the movie is fascinating... and just as interesting is reading other people's view on whether or not the main character's final decision was right or not. For me, the answer is non-negotiable..but I was shocked to see how many people were on the opposite side. Just fascinating. Very worth watching. Incredibly well-made with strong performances from its entire cast, a great script, and fantastic direction. I give it a 9! Maybe even higher...

Well...I'll have to save my rants for another time. I'm too tired and I've written too much to even continue.