Monthly Archives: August 2010

Review: The Last Exorcism

When you go to see a movie about an exorcism, you know what to expect; a seemingly normal yet freaky subject, moaning, chanting and body contorting. The Last Exorcism really is just more of the same, but puts those elements to use in a rather unique way making them far more terrifying than one would expect without even being graphic. The Last Exorcism is a truly horrifying film, but doesn’t leave you with a pit in your stomach, rather a smile on your face. It’s scary, funny and entertaining and an excellent way to close out the summer.

Cotton Marcus (Patrick Fabian) is a preacher, but he’s also a showman. He can get his congregation to go along and feel good about anything he says, even a recipe for banana bread. Cotton takes the same approach to exorcisms. He puts his showmanship to work, conducts a fake exorcism, really makes his client believe he’s extracting a demon and everyone’s happy. The victim believes the demon has been removed and Cotton gets his money. It’s not as selfish as it sounds; Cotton is just trying to support his family and make sure he can afford his son’s hearing aids. However, after learning of a young boy killed during an exorcism, Cotton decides to make this next one his last and expose the practice for the scam that it is.

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Defending Bad Movies: Grease 2

It’s sad to say, but the summer is coming to a close. It’s even sadder to say – for some – that another school year is about to begin. About this time every year, I get a song stuck in my head. Well, two. First is Billy Madison’s back to school song. You know, “Back to school. Back to school, to prove to Dad that I’m not a fool. I got my lunch packed up, my boots tied tight, I hope I don’t get in a fight.” The second comes from a movie with somewhat more acceptable classroom behavior, but also one that’s underappreciated, Grease 2. “I gotta go back, back, back to school again.”

When you’re following in the footsteps of a film as beloved as Grease, you’re practically in a lose-lose situation. There was really no way director Patricia Birch could top Randal Kleiser’s work and Max Caulfield and Michelle Pfeiffer were just no match for the ultimate duo, John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John. You know what you do when there’s just no way of being the best? You settle for mediocre and just have a blast with it. And that’s exactly what Grease 2 is; a so-so film that gets major bonus point for being such a damn good time.

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Review: Piranha 3D

I like campy horror flicks – a lot, probably too much. Piranha 3D looked to be everything I’d fall for; I’m a huge fan of director Alexandre Aja’s The Hills Have Eyes, thought writers Pete Goldfinger and Josh Stolberg’s last film, Sorority Row, was a ton of fun and am always eager to check out new and more grotesque ways of killing off characters. The problem is, Piranha lacks the fear and emotion of The Hills Have Eyes, isn’t half as witty as Sorority Row and almost entirely consists of the same kill over and over. It’s a good thingPiranha only clocks in at 89 minutes because that’s all it’s worth.

It’s spring break and the small town of Lake Victoria is a prime spot for those looking for a party. When the hordes of big-boobed, booze-guzzling students arrive, so does the entertainment like the wet t-shirt contest MC played by Eli Roth and pornographic moviemaker Derrick Jones (Jerry O’Connell) and his Wild Wild Girls, Danni and Crystal (Kelly Brook and Riley Stelle). Meanwhile, Sheriff Julie Forester (Elisabeth Shue) is just trying to keep the peace while her oldest son, Jake (Steven R. McQueen), keeps an eye on her little ones, Laura and Zane (Brooklynn Proulx and Sage Ryan).

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Daring to Dream: Casting ‘The Hunger Games’ Movie

I’ve never been a big reader, but in the last few years picked up the hobby of reading books being adapted to film. Even after plowing through dozens, I still never understood the people who would willingly sit all day, flipping pages until they finished an entire book. You know, like the Harry Potter fans. I enjoyed reading, but never felt desperate to see what happens next in exchange for food, sleep or just time to zone out – until I picked up The Hunger Games.

Suzanne Collin‘s book is hands down, the most fantastic piece I’ve ever read. Not only did I read obsessively only stopping to get some work done, but I actually was compelled to read it again, a first for me, and then go on to do the same with the sequel, Catching Fire. You’ll be hooked from the very first page of the soon-to-be three-book series, when you meet the story’s hero, Katniss Everdeen. She lives in Panem, the country formed after the destruction of North America. It consists of the wealthy Capitol and 12 districts, the last of which Katniss calls home. Once every year, each district must select two residents, one boy and one girl both between the ages of 12 and 18, and send them to the Captiol to compete in the Hunger Games, a televised battle to the death.

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Review: Animal Kingdom

Since when did a barrage of bullets make a crime drama a winner? Hollywood might saturate our theaters with implausible film after film where heroes narrowly escape machinegun fire or every character unites for a grand final shootout, but apparently that hasn’t consumed the Australian film industry. In writer-director David Michod’ Animal Kingdom we get the genre antithesis, a film lacking action that builds its tension through smart writing, excellent performances and calculated pacing.

Pope (Ben Mendelsohn) is an armed robber in hiding, his brother Craig (Sullivan Stapleton) is making a killing selling drugs and the youngest, Darren (Luke Ford), is just along for the ride lending a hand when necessary. So is life in the Cody family, a well-known clan in the criminal underground of Melbourne, Australia. When the boys’ nephew, J (James Frencheville), loses his mother to a heroine overdose, their mother, Smurf (Jackie Weaver), brings him into their home and ultimately into their dangerous lifestyle. The Cody brothers and Pope’s longtime friend and partner, Baz (Joel Edgerton), help J assimilate, teaching him vital lessons, most importantly how to let others know who’s king.

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Review: Eat Pray Love

Like Glee? Sorry, but this film’s not for you. Despite the fact that Eat Pray Love is directed by the show’s writer-director Ryan Murphy, it’s absolutely nothing like it. It’s got some fantastic music selection, ones that would be nice to hear the William McKinley High School kids revamp, but other than that, Eat Pray Love is exactly the opposite, dreary, no fun and unmemorable. Eat, pray, love? More like eat, pray, snooze.

Julia Roberts stars as Liz, a woman whose life changes after meeting a medicine man named Ketut (Hadi Subiyanto) who predicts she’ll have two marriages, one short and one long. This forces her to recognize the fact that she may very well be in the midst of the short one and ultimately compels her to cut her husband (Billy Crudup) loose. From there she lands in the arms of a young actor (James Franco) and when that doesn’t pan out, she opts to screw it all and go on a yearlong abroad adventure during which she’ll eat, pray and love.

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Review: Scott Pilgrim vs. the World

On the weekend that every cinematic action hero hits the big screen in just one film, The Expendables, how can moviegoers be expected to accept Michael Cera as just as much of a hero? Thanks to the ingenious filmmaking techniques of Edgar Wright, some may find that Cera is more of a leading man than any of those muscled up stars. Cera isn’t given CGI biceps, but the film adaptation of Bryan Lee O’Malley’s comic book series, Scott Pilgrim, is packed with the most fantastic kind of digital effects, ones that actually enhance the film. However, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World isn’t a flick that relies on a sole asset; it’s a success and innovative achievement on every front.

Scott Pilgrim is the perfect role for Cera. He’s a musician, he’s geeky, has lady issues and frequently mumbles amusing nonsense. To his friends’ and sister’s dismay, Scott’s dating “a 17-year-old Chinese schoolgirl” named Knives Chau (Ellen Wong). Scott’s into her, but she’s clearly on the juvenile side. When he invites her to check out his band, Sex Bob-Omb, she becomes their very first groupie. His bandmates, Kim Pine and Stephen Stills (Alison Pill and Mark Webber), and their friend and wannabe Sex Bob-Omb, Young Neil (Johnny Simmons), aren’t thrilled but tolerate Scott’s baggage. Then there’s Scott’s gay roommate Wallace Wells (Kieran Culkin) and snarky sister Stacey (Anna Kendrick) who both insist Scott grow up and ditch Knives.

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