Monthly Archives: June 2010

Review: The Twilight Saga: Eclipse

When it comes to The Twilight Saga, there are lovers and haters, but very few in between. Regardless of caliber, Twihards will flock to the theaters to catch the latest installment while the defiant will shun their dedication. This review of Eclipse will have little to no effect on whether or not those lovers or haters will see the film, but in the case of those caught in the middle, hopefully it’ll persuade them to join the former – at least this time around.

Moody Bella (Kristen Stewart) is long gone and now our leading lady is back with her brooding bloodsucking boy, happy and, most importantly, far more confident in herself. Graduation is right around the corner and so is the day she’s longed for, the day Edward (Robert Pattinson) turns her into a vampire. The only thing Edward asks for Bella in return? For her to let him make her his forever by marrying her. While Bella and Edward are negotiating their I dos, Jacob (Taylor Lautner) is trying to maintain his position in the love triangle. Even though Bella professes her love for Edward, Jacob is convinced she loves him too, but just won’t admit it.

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The Crazies 1973 vs. 2010: Side-by-Side

Back in 1973 George A. Romero gave us a taste of what it’d be like if a biological weapon were let loose on society in The Crazies. When someone comes in contact with Trixie they lose their minds and become violent. Think the army can save you from the madness? Think again. Not only are the military men just as afraid of contracting the virus, but they’re trying to protect themselves from the crazies too; basically, they’re willing to kill everyone and anyone not in a biohazard suit. The Crazies is a film particularly fitting for the remake treatment. It’s dated, yet the general concept remains powerful. That’s where Breck Eisner comes in. He takes his source material trims away the fat and the obsolete elements and packs it with exactly what horror audiences are looking for: sheer terror. Eisner’s The Crazies is one of my favorite films of 2010, but I’m going to leave the critique at that and deliver this comparison using just the facts. However I can’t say the same for spoilers because they’re all over the place in this article, so beware.

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Apparently the’Twilight’ Saga Ruins Marria

Too much of something is never okay. Whether it’s food, sleep or even exercise, overdosing leads to problems. Apparently the same is true for movies. There are loads of folks out there who are diehard Harry PotterLord of the Rings or Star Warsfans, but, according to an LA Times article, it’s an obsession with The Twilight Saga that’s most troublesome. Twilight lovers are sacrificing their relationship for Stephenie Meyer‘s books and the film adaptations.

The general stereotype pegs teenage girls as being the main source of Twihards when, in fact, there’s hoards of Twilight moms and even grandmas out there. One fan, 31-year-old Chrystal Johnson revealed, “My husband finally came to me and said, ‘I think you love Twilight more than you love me.'” From there the couple separated and Johnson had to go through some major Twilight detox before being able to rebuild her relationship.

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Review: Grown Ups

A film starring Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Chris Rock, David Spade and Rob Schneider has to be funny, right? Not only is that what the promotional material for Grown Ups wants moviegoers to think, but it also seems to have been what was on the minds of the members of this comedic powerhouse. Sit back, relax, do what you’re told and hilarity magically ensues. Maybe in a dream, but this is a reality and Grown Ups faces a harsh one.

Back in the 70’s coach Buzzer led Lenny, Eric, Kurt, Marcus and Rob to a basketball championship. Thirty years later, the boys have grown up and apart, but their coach’s passing brings them back together again not only to remember good old coach Buzzer, but to spend a weekend together at the same lake house at which they celebrated their big win back in the day. Joining them on the excursion are their wives and children.

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Defending Bad Movies: The Heartbreak Kid

I’ve been defending The Heartbreak Kid ever since it hit theaters back in 2007, however, I didn’t feel comfortable putting my argument in writing until having seen the original film. I’ve come across a handful of reviews and a number of moviegoers who chastise the Farrelly brothers for not having stuck closer to the iconic source material. I thought that perhaps after having seen the 1972 version, I wouldn’t be as eager to sing the update’s praises, but what happened is actually the opposite; seeing the original only made me appreciate the newer version even more.

For those out of the loop, The Heartbreak Kid, both the original and the Farrelly brother’s film, is about a guy who marries a wonderful girl only to learn about a few new quirks while on their honeymoon. Actually, that’s not all he discovers; our leading man finds a new girl, a better girl. Where the films veer in completely opposite directions is in the comedy. Think about past Farrelly films, the best and the worst. There’s Dumb and DumberThere’s Something About MaryShallow Hal and more. What do all of these films have in common? The humor is outrageous and that’s exactly how The Heartbreak Kid remake was approached, which instantly differentiates from the original.

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Review: Stonewall Uprising

In the wee hours of June 28th, 1969, it was business was as usual at the Stonewall Inn. The Mafia-run gay bar operated as a free zone for homosexuals in need of a place of refuge where they could just be themselves, hang out and, most notably, dance with each other, an activity that was forbidden everywhere else. With the mob paying off the police, facility operators were often tipped-off when a raid was about to occur and they usually happened in the early evening, when attendance was at a minimum. June 28th was a different story and that is the focus of the documentary Stonewall Uprising.

A small team of police officers came in, the lights went out and not only were the patrons well aware of what was going down, but so were the crowds forming on the streets. As people began to emerge from the bar, the tension increased and the officers that initiated the raids were forced to barricade themselves inside the bar for protection. Eventually backup arrived, but so did more supporters. The riot lasted through the night and not only did it continue for the next two, but the events at Stonewall created a ripple effect that can be felt to this day.

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Interview: I Am Loves’s Tilda Swinton

Tilda Swinton is as commanding in person as she is on screen. Her poise instantly attracts all attention and her passion for her work is overwhelmingly present in her answer to even the simplest question. However, there’s nothing simple about I Am Love. Not only has the project been in the works for over a decade, but the final product is oozing with a lavish and classical complexity we rarely see nowadays.

The film stars Swinton as Emma, a Russian native who moves to Milan to be with her textile tycoon husband. She has three grown children and resides in a lush mansion run by a devoted wait staff, with a wardrobe filled with the finest fashion. Most would consider this a privilege, but in Emma’s case, it becomes more of a prison. With her children living their own lives and husband always working, she’s often left to herself. She has all of the riches in the world, but no one to share them with. That all changes when her son introduces her to his new friend, Antonio (Edoardo Gabbriellini), a chef, a man with the ability to rouse a powerful sensation within Emma through his tasty delicacies, as well his presence.

I Am Love leaves the viewer with many questions and that’s exactly how the filmmakers wanted it. Everything from the message of the film to the characters’ fate is left to the moviegoer’s interpretation. But, of course, during our roundtable interview, Swinton was eager to elaborate on a range of topics including the inspiration for the piece, the thought put into the costume selection and much more.

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Interview: I Am Love Director Luca Guadagnino

We see big budget films put on the fast track and make swift entrances into the theater all the time, but that was certainly not the case with director Luca Guadagnino’s I Am Love. The piece took over a decade to complete and the effects of the prolonged thought and development is profound. Even in the midst of a summer packed with explosive blockbusters, I Am Love’s exquisite classical and operatic nature is as bold as ever.

The film is about a wealthy family living in Milan, but the focus is on Emma (Tilda Swinton), the wife of a textile tycoon and mother of three grown children. With all of her loved ones hard at work or away at school, Emma is left to her lonesome in their lavish estate with the exception of their attentive wait staff. Her yearning for more is answered by a friend of her eldest son, a chef named Antonio. All it takes is a delectable shrimp dish to entice Emma to act on her feelings and indulge in her desire, Antonio.

The story is powerful, but there was so much more on Guadagnino’s mind when constructing I Am Love than simply telling of a forbidden romance. Check out all of the details about Guadagnino’s 7-year collaboration with Swinton on this one project (or 11-year collaboration as Swinton would say), his unique method to incorporating a John Adams score and much more in the video interview below.

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Review: Carnies

You know what the movie industry needs more of? Carnies. Vampires were fun for a while, but how much more bloodsucking can we endure until we run dry? Carnies on the other hand, are a breed that has gone vastly unexplored and offers an abundance of disconcerting characters and illusions ripe for the big screen. One of the first to dig into the pool of circus freaks is Carnies and it certainly exemplifies the natural appeal of the subject matter.

Ratty and Virgil (Doug Jones and Chris Staviski) are both employed by Helen (Denise Gossett), the owner of a traveling sideshow. Ratty is the snake handler, Virgil’s the strong man and they’re joined by a slew of standard carnies including fortune telling gypsies, a sword swallower, fire-eater and more. Minus the financial troubles brought on by the Great Depression, business is as usual. Well, that’s until a murderous force invades the camp taking out the carnies one by one. Even with a local detective (Reggie Bannister) on the case, little light is shed on the situation. Virgil, Ratty and the sword swallower, William Crowley (David Markham), band together to do a little investigating of their own. Little do they know, the power they’re up against is no ordinary carnival freak.

In a time when modern carnivals around the country can entice hoards of suckers to dump $5 on a clearly bogus oddity, a movie focusing on the more ominous and seemingly real acts of the 1930s is greatly appreciated. A sense of uncertainty and terror is combined with cartoonish elements, namely Virgil’s very fake mustache, creating the atmosphere of an actual sideshow, one in which you can have fun and enjoy entertainment, yet still feel uneasy while doing so. Intensifying the sensation is the refreshingly inventive cinematography. Odd, but effective angles are frequently used as well as atypical viewpoints. Ratty’s love for his snakes becomes exponentially more powerful when he professes his love for ‘his queen’ and the speech is presented from the serpent’s prospective.

But Ratty is the only character who can easily do without the added bonuses provided by any department – cinematography, makeup, music – and solely rely on Jones’ ability. He’s the most natural of the cast and it only helps that the role is the most well developed of the bunch. Bannister and Gosset find similar success in their roles, but neither Helen nor the detective are very likable characters and lack Ratty’s commanding presence. Staviski’s portrayal of Virgil is a little harder to digest. Like his mustache, Staviski’s performance feels fake. On occasion he’ll deliver a line or two with an intense degree of authenticity, so the talent is certainly in there, but he just isn’t capable of holding it throughout a scene.

Overall, Carnies comes across much like Staviski’s performance, amateurish, however, that’s the beauty behind the film. As a debut feature writing-directing effort, Brian Corder’s production is admirable. He’s created a band of fascinating characters, an inventive story and, most impressive of all, presents them in a visually rousing manner. Also deserving of praise is Jeffrey Hayat and José J. Herring, those responsible for the score. They manage to make the opening credits, which merely consist of a rosewood font and simple animated background, intensely menacing with their orchestral composition. The tune pops up on occasion throughout the film and, whenever it does, delivers the same foreboding effect.

For those looking for a Hollywood-grade, CGI enhanced experience a la Cirque du Freak, Carnies will likely fall short. However, if you’re able to forgo all the fine-tuning money can buy, it’s a fascinating and memorable story. The most important thing one should take away from Carnies is its dare-to-be-different execution. It’s not entirely successful, but it’s the blatantly noble effort that’s so deeply appreciated and makes Carnies a worthwhile film.

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Cinematical Seven: Ways For Kristen Bell To Spice Up Her Relationships

It was no surprise that after Forgetting Sarah MarshallKristen Bell opted to stick with romantic comedies. She wasn’t the film’s prime comedic relief, but her performance proved that she’s got the chops not only to provide a good laugh, but to create a genuine character as well. The problem is, by sticking with the genre, she wound up with junk like Couples Retreat and today’s new DVD/Blu-ray release, When in Rome.

Couples Retreat was one thing; she got the opportunity to star alongside Jason Bateman, Vince Vaughn, Jon Favreau, Malin Akerman, Kristin Davis and Faizon Love. If she was looking to network, to sign on for a guaranteed hit or just get some face time alongside a talented bunch, this was it. What was her excuse when it came to When in Rome? Okay, Josh Duhamel is quite good looking, but surprisingly, that’s not all that counts when it comes to romance.

Katherine Heigl and Jennifer Aniston might be stuck playing the same lady in a relationship crisis for the rest of their careers, but Bell is not. The talent is there, she’s just got to find better reasons to put it to use. She needs to leave the formulaic romcoms to those doomed to the genre’s dredges for eternity, and move on to something she can make memorable. There’s no harm in staying in the land of love, but at least test the waters and explore the vast amount of more unconventional relationships out there. Why not give one of these a shot?

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