Sunday, January 9, 2011

I have a problem with "adaptations".

...specifically adaptations of Alice in Wonderland.
If you're one of the two, maybe three people that read this blog and are looking for a review, this is not one. This is a rant.

Has anyone else noticed that, give or take a few, generally all film adaptations of Alice and Wonderland are pretty much exactly the same? Minor differences may include certain scenes from the book being included/not included, time period, etc. That having been said, the majority of Alice and Wonderland movies are more or less completely and entirely the same. Think about it. In no way do these films deserve to be called "adaptations", as they often are. How many times have you seen: "(Director name)'s (adjective) adaptation of the classic novel Alice's Adventures in Wonderland"?
What I'm here to compalin about today is the lack of originality that is present in so many film versions of this highly original classic novel. Is the original work just so creative that there's nowhere to improve upon it and thus directors have to create the same mundane adaptations of it over and over again? It's straight up deppressing. The biggest difference I've seen between AIW movies is probably the colour of Alice's dress, and MAYBE slight variations in the time period. And then there are always those certain scenes from the book that may or may not be included (the Walrus and the Carpenter, the Lobster Dance, Piggy and Pepper, etc). But aside from that--every movie is this:
-Alice is between 7-16 years of age, approximately.
-The Mad Hatter has buck teeth, unruly hair, and a terribly annoying voice (usually with a lisp).
-The March Hare is kind of a jerkass.
-The Red Queen is very short and usually fat and ugly.
-The White Queen is rarely included but when she is, she's beautiful and of average height.
-Alice's outfit is almost ALWAYS blue, and there is almost always a ribbon in her hair.
-The liquid in the "drink me" bottle is typically red, while the frosting on the "eat me" cake is generally blue.
Okay, so there may be some variation in these above points depending on what films you've watched. The list is not exact in all cases, merely a general observation I've made.
Now, many of these points are so because that's how they happened in the book, so it would make sense that they would appear this way in films. HOWEVER, none of these points are crucial to the plot. IE, a director is free to manipulate any of these ideas while still staying true to the story.
-Imagine the Mad Hatter looking like a dapper gentleman--that would under no circumstances interfere with his tea obsession and general lack of sanity.
-The March Hare could be polite and it wouldn't matter or interefere with the craziness of the Tea Party.
-If the Red Queen were beautiful, this would hardly effect her evilness. In fact, if she were a stunning vamp it would probably make her appear more evil.
-If the White Queen was homely and unattractive, it would not effect her kindness. It may even help to protray her as more relatable and less conceited.
-Imagine Alice in a purple dress. NO DIFFERENCE.
-Clear liquid in the "drink me" bottle, green icing on the "eat me" cake. Fine.
See?! NO PROBLEMS.
Something I'd really enjoy seeing, however, is a LOOSE ADAPTATION of AIW. I tend to enjoy movies that you can watch the entire way through without noticing any similarities to a previous work, and then shit bricks when you read "Based on X" at the end. (Anybody remember "Oh Brother Where Art Thou?"? Yeah, it's based on THE ODYSSEY.)
I'd like to see something like this, for a change:
A girl named Alison is sitting on the subway with her sister in NYC. They arrive at their destination and make their way up the stairs at the subway station. As they emerge in Times Square, Alison notices a man in a business suit frantically glancing at his watch and murmering "shit, man! I'm late!"
A business card falls out of his pocket and, Alison, being the good samaritan that she is, picks it up as he begins to walk away and is determined to return it to him. He's still frustrated about being late and continues to rush down the sidewalk as Alison follows him. He enters a building with revolving doors and Alison follows him in after a rush of other frantic businessmen. As she enters the grand lobby of this scyscraper, she notices a seemingly classy gathering of bourgeois members of some unknown committee taking place in a lounge. Distracted by a rush of people entering the building, the front desk attendant does not notice Alison as she sneaks into the nearby lounge. The conversing people are ranting and raving over tea and Alison soon realises they are not as sane (or classy) as she would have assumed. Etc, etc.
I'm no screenwriter, but come on now. Would it kill Hollywood to produce an adaptation of AIW that was ACTUALLY AN ADAPTATION rather than simply an exact retelling?

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Five Favourite Villains!

I haven't posted on this blog in a million years, but for the two, maybe three people who read it, I am now reviving it.
Instead of a movie review tonight, I'm doing a little countdown of my personal top five favourite film villains of all time, with references made to TvTropes.org because I'm addicted to that website at the moment. Enjoy.
5. Hannibal Lecter
There are so many reasons to love Hannibal Lecter. In fact, there are more reasons to love him than there are to hate him. In my opinion this makes for an even stronger villain. If you continue reading this list, you'll find that many of characters are ones that TvTropes.org might consider "Affably Evil".(http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/AffablyEvil) Hannibal Lecter, however, may be the epitome of this particular trope. Not only is he suave and classy, he's polite. Especially admirable about Lecter is his chivalry toward Clarice Starling in The Silence of the Lambs, and in other films, women in general. Unlike so many other villains, Lecter is a murderer, but not a murdering asshole. In fact, sometimes the victims of Lecter's killings don't even gain the viewer's sympathy because Lecter is portrayed as being so polite, we assume his victims must be the opposite, or that he is too classy to kill someone for no reason.
4. Norman Bates
Norm and I go way back. Hitchcock's Psycho has been a favourite of mine since I was about thirteen. In the same way that Hannibal is suave, Norman is average (Norman=normal? just a thought). He's the boy next door. He is attractive and likable. One of the most interesting aspects of Bates' characterisation is the question he forces the viewer to ask themselves: is it really him we're afraid of? Is he really the villain? Or is Mrs. Bates the true evil here? We, as viewers, like to give Norman the benefit of the doubt and assure ourselves that it's not really his fault. His split personality, the one that takes the role of his dead mother, is really doing all the killing. His psychological health makes excuses for him, and this is what makes him such an enjoyable villain--one that is hard to hate.
3. Peter and Paul
I'm appalled that I've never seen this murderous duo on any "Top Villains" list yet. In Michael Haneke's 2008 thriller Funny Games (a shot-for-shot remake of his 1997 German-language film of the same name), two polite, seemingly admirable, respectable boys meet a family at their summer home. All goes calmly until the two propose an offer to make a deal: they bet that the vacationers will be dead by 9 AM the next morning. One of the reasons I love this film so much is the way it and its characters play with the viewer's mind. Peter and Paul are going to kill these people--but somehow it's so hard to not laugh at their quirky off-colour jokes and boyish tendencies to tease each other. As sympathetic as we feel toward the victims, Peter and Paul are terribly entertaining and-for lack of a better word-fun. Funny Games is almost a cinematic lecture to its viewers: forcing them to question what they're watching, forcing them to feel uncomfortable about violence in the media. We must ask ourselves: are we really any different than Peter and Paul? They're watching violence for their own enjoyment and so are we. The most disturbing thing about these two is that they are nothing more than cinematic interpretations of you and me.
2. Alex DeLarge
Alex in A Clockwork Orange doubles as the hero and the villain (the antihero)--another characterisation element I love dearly. Like Peter and Paul, Alex is somehow a terrible person but continues to gain not only our sympathy but our favour. Never have I met a Clockwork Orange viewer who didn't like its main character. Of course during the second half of the film we feel sorry for Alex, as he has become a victim of the government's cruel experimentation and has been deprived of his natural rights. But even in the first half of the film we don't hate Alex. Go ahead and admit it. You were almost cheering him on. He was having so much fun--sure, at the expense of others, but fun nonetheless. Alex is the chaotic evil. http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/ChaoticEvil He's pretty good at being bad, and he sure as hell knows how to have a good time. He's just a kid and like any other kid finds ways to improvise in times of boredom. He's a delinquent, an assailant; but he just makes it look so damned cool. As stated above, Alex is good at being bad--but not as much so as our final addition to the list.
1. Colonel Hans Landa
That's a bingo!
If anyone's good at being bad it's Hans Landa of the SS. That being said, this baddy happens to be the hardest to like and/or identify with, and yet the easiest at the same time. If you've seen every film on this list, you know how strange it feels to like the bad guy. Inglourious Basterds takes this to a whole 'nother level. Landa is a nazi for Christ's sake--and he's somehow still cool. How is that even possible? The overwhelming genius that is Quentin Tarantino--that's how it's possible. As much as (I hope) we disdain nazis, and as much as we want the Basterds to kill the shit out of every nazi they see, Hans Landa still earns our respect and at times, admiration. He's charming and sociable. Hell, at times he's downright friendly. A most unsettling aspect of this character is the underlying feeling that he just knows everything. Every time Landa is on screen, regardless of what kind of secret is being held from him--he probably knows. A prime example of this is the "German night in Paris" scene, where Frau Von Hammersmark tells Landa that she injured her leg mountain-climbing. She's lying through her teeth and he knows it. He knows her leg was injured in the basement bar, because he'd found her shoe (along with a signed napkin) there. He's so good at what he does it's disturbing. It's hard to decide whether Landa is a Complete Monster http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/CompleteMonster or a Magnificent Bastard (Basterd?!) http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/MagnificentBastard, but either way, he's number one on this list for a reason, and will remain there until I see a movie better than Inglourious Basterds--and that's just never going to happen.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Jacob's Ladder.

"That's odd...According to this line, you're already dead."

Let me just start off by telling everyone that I can't efficiently review this film without giving away the ending. So if you haven't seen it, go away, watch it, and then come back. Okay.

Jacob's Ladder, in my opinion, was not only suspenseful and (obviously) entertaining, but it was considerably disturbing to me. It begins with a group of guys in Vietnam, joking around, busting each other's chops, what have you. Before we know it, they're being attacked. But in the mist of this ambush we see people really freaking out--crying out in agony "my head, my head", falling over, spontaneously bleeding, etc. We see our protagonist, Jacob, get bayoneted. Then it skips to what we assume is some years in the future, and Jake is awakening from his nightmarish vision, on a subway. He gets up and asks some creepy old lady where they are, but she just blankly stares at him. He sees some dude with a tail (or something...) and other weird shit while in the subway station. Let me speed up this synopsis here. Throughout the course of the film, Jacob sees some pretty weird ass stuff. This consists of demonic creatures with strange deformities, random people blankly staring, a car speeding down an ally way as if to run somebody down, and the most famous of all--people shaking their heads around. Let me tell you just how effing disturbing it is to see someone flailing their head around at an incomprehensible speed. Gives me the heebie jeebies. hehe. Also, there are a few biblical references. Jacob's girlfriend refers to "weird names" and Jacob quickly corrects her saying "they're biblical names". The demons almost remind us of those said to be in hell. Devilish horns, scales, tails, whatever. Anyway, we learn that Jacob has a wife (from whom he is divorced) and kids. One of his sons, we're told, had died before he went to 'Nam. Jacob is obviously still deeply troubled by it (who wouldn't be?) and we learn this after he has a sudden hallucination. After seeing countless disturbing images at a party and having to go home, our main character is sick and being taken care of by his beautiful yet insensitive bitch of a girlfriend. She takes his temperature, sees that he has a goddamned temp of 106, and decides to fucking put him in a bathtub full of ice. While everybody in the whole damn apartment complex comes up to check on him as he's being submerged in ice water (naked, in a bathtub full of ice, surrounded by your neighbours. aaaawkward..), this experience is suddenly interrupted by Jacob waking up in the middle of the night, with his ex wife again. We also see him talk to his children, even the one who has passed away. He is talking to his wife Sarah about having had "this dream that I was living with Jezzie. Ugh, what a nightmare." The couple shares a light hearted moment as he tells her he loves her. Only to wake up in that goddamned bathtub again. WTF?! This part kinda got to me. I seriously felt frustrated for the guy. It quite reminded me of the scene in Stephen King's 1408 when he gets out of the hotel room and moves on with his live, only to randomly appear back in the room again. Freaky shit man. Anyway, things like this keep happening--is Jake dreaming? Is he going insane? Is this really happening? We don't know. Jacob's chiropractor is very comforting to him, and seems to be the only character in the film who is genuinely concerned about the protagonist. Jake eventually meets with a guy who is having similar strange experiences (who was also in 'Nam). They chat at the local bar about their horrifying experiences, only for the guy's car to blow up as he is about to drive away. Jacob manages to get away unscathed, but is obviously disturbed by the incident. Later on in the film, we meet a character who introduces Jacob to the idea that the government had been testing some hardcore drugs on Americans at 'Nam, in order to make them fight more aggressively. To make this long story short, Jacob is taken to a hospital after an incident and we see him being wheeled down what may be the most disturbing hallway in cinematic history. We see crazy people, amputees, people crawling around on a floor, a woman breastfeeding a child (Oh I see you have a baby!...in an insane asylum...greeaat...), the gurney constantly wheeling over severed body parts and disembodied organs all while the wheel is squeaking menacingly, etc. They wheel him into what looks like an operating room, where the "doctors" explain to him that he's DEAD. WHAT?!
-That's not the end per se, there are a few scenes after that point, but that's where the WTF moment is. You see, Jake never made it out of Vietnam. When we view him being bayoneted, he dies.
There are so many things I love about this film--Tim Robbins' outstanding performance as the very likeable main character, the constant shifting from scenes of lightheartedness to scenes of incredible suspense, but mostly, the fact that this is so damned thought provoking. Throughout the film we're pretty clueless as to what's really happening and what's a hallucination. But the end makes it all clear--or does it?
There are so many things we've been told about those last moments you're alive--those split seconds you experience as you're dying. Some say your life flashes before you. Some say you begin to make your descent or ascent to the afterlife. But the one solid question this movie asks us is "what does the human psyche experience as it dies?" Once you hear the doctors tell Jacob that he's dead, your mind is immediately open to so many questions. Is Jacob in hell? Is he in limbo? But the most disturbing of all the questions--is this what happens when we die? Do we make our transition to the afterlife in a mind wrenching sense of horrific distorted reality? Do we simply suffer in the fact that we're not alive? Jacob says a few times throughout the movie, "I'm not dead?...I'm not dead..." This tortured soul constantly is reassuring himself that he isn't dead, only to realize that he is. Remember in the movie Signs when we learn that the dead mother started saying random gibberish before she died? She told someone to "swing away" and mentioned other things that seemingly made no sense whatsoever. These things ended up having significance later on in that film, but that's beside the point. The point is, does our mind rapidly deteriorate as we take our last breath? Do we all of a sudden go insane in our dying moment and then, just die? The freaky thing about this movie is that, (in my opinion anyways) the whole life we see Jacob lead after Vietnam--his relationship with Jezzie, the nice chiropractor, the guy who's death he witnessed, even the little things like the fever and the ice bath--all happened in the last millisecond this man experienced as his heart stopped beating. Absolutely disturbing, in my opinion.
All in all, this film was fantastic. It may be confusing at first, but after thinking about it or watching it a second time, it's a lot clearer, and things really add up. It's definitely a favourite of mine, and I really think anybody fascinated by death, psychology, the effects of war, whatever, should see it. Don't miss this one.

Friday, February 26, 2010

The Ferris Bueller Fight Club Theory.

Life goes by pretty fast. If you don't stop to look around once in a while, you might miss it.

This crazy fan theory is some effed up shit, man. Insane in the membrane.

It goes like this: Ferris Bueller's Day Off: a story about a spontaneous, popular high school kid who decides to skip school for a day to go out on the town and wreak havoc, having the best day of his life. He goes to an upscale restaurant, lip-syncs on a float in a parade, goes to a museum, and rides around town in a Ferrari, all with his girlfriend Sloane and his boring, friend Cameron who isn't in school because he's actually sick. The Ferrari belongs to Cameron's dad, who will "kill him" when (and if) he finds out the car was driven all around Chicago. But wait. Let's analyse this for a moment. Ferris is everything Cameron is not. He's fun, popular, cool, all around awesome. Sloane is a girl Cameron obviously likes, but can't have, because she's with Ferris. This offers up another possible interpretation of the film: The whole goddamn day happened all in Cameron's head. Even Ferris and Sloane are figments of this deprived kid's imagination. Cameron is home sick the entire time--just lying there, imagining the perfect day, and the perfect friends. Think about it: that's the only possible way three people could see so much of Chicago all in one day...He even goes so far as to imagine Ferris' personal life, and what's going on at his house in the meantime. Of course the part about Cameron going balls-out insane is probably real--while imagining the whole day, he comes to a realization that he has to stop living in a fantasy world in which everyone pushing him around is okay, which brings him to his breaking point of busting up the Ferrari. It could also be said that Ferris and Cameron are the same person Cameron has created a split personality (or rather, alter ego), Ferris, whom he believes to be a separate person. I won't go too in depth about it, but just think about it.

-Creepy, right? Of course this theory doesn't work on all counts; as there are parts of the movie that obviously contradict it, but it's fun and thought provoking.

"Here's where Cameron goes berserk."
"Ferris Bueller...You're my hero."
"Bueller?....Bueller?...Bueller?"

Sunday, October 25, 2009

PARANORMAL ACTIVITY.

"HOLY SHIT KATIE WHAT THE FUCK WAS THAT??!!"

I literally JUST got back from seeing this film. Despite being a little fucked up and reeeaallly "jumpy", the trailer's claim that this was the "scariest movie in decades" is just not true.
Now, mind you, I'm a fifteen year old girl. If this really was the scariest movie anyone has ever seen, I'd be crying so hard I'd be unable to write this review. But it wasn't, and I'm not.

The film, shot entirely with by a couple (or on a tripod) with their home video camera, starts with a guy named Micah taping himself and his girlfriend Katie, as he tells the camera that he will be recording whatever happens in the house, to prove that there is an entity in it. I found it a little out of the ordinary that both main characters believed there was something in the house. There was no "I don't believe you" no "you're crazy" no conflict.
Until some crazy ass shit started to go down. Most of the paranormal action takes place at night, when the couple is trying to sleep. I will say, all of the scenes in which the "entity" in the house made itself known were quite frightening. One of my complaints, however, is that these scenes were rather rare. Most of the intense scenes only took place at night, which means you had to sit there and watch the couple's entire day fold out before anything even remotely scary would happen. Towards the end of the film, more scary scenes started to take place, but the film was slow nonetheless. VERY slow. In fact, this movie probably could have been 45 minutes long.
Paranormal Activity was very unnerving and startling. I'm not saying it wasn't a good film. It was, and I enjoyed it. What I am saying, though, is that there was no need to call it the scariest movie in America, or the scariest movie in decades, or whatever. It simply wasn't that scary. Scary? Absolutely. Scariest? No. It's a good time and the scary parts will scare the living shit out of you, there just weren't very many scary parts, and that's really all I have to complain about. The fact that this film used only a "paranormal" subject matter (rather than blood and guts and knives), and was a very accurate portrayal of what "hauntings" are supposedly like, deserves an applause. I understand that there was really no way to make this visually terrifying without putting some stupid effects into it. And therefore I applaud the film for sticking with straight up paranormal terror, rather than cheesy bloody bullshit. It got rather boring in parts, but again, the few intense scenes of terror were indeed terrifying. Go see this film, you won't be too disappointed. All in all, it was a good film and I'm glad I saw it. :)

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Chainsaw Thursday: Rob Zombie's Halloween II

Happy First Chainsaw Thursday everybody! On Chainsaw Thursdays I will review a particularly gory/not psychological thriller film. Enjoy.

"Michael Myers is *fucking* dead. Want me to spell it out for you? D-E-A-D!"

But of course it wasn't that easy...

The story follows Michael Myers' sister, Lori Strode, after she wakes up (in the home of her adopted family) from a disturbing and realistic dream in which she's being chased by Myers, whilst he *brutally* kills everyone in his way. Throughout the film, we are taken back and fourth between scenes of Michael doin' his thing--killin' the shit out people, and Lori having disturbing dreams and hallucinations that she's killin' the shit out of people. Mind you, though, while she is tormented by this spectre, she has no idea that she's related to Myers. It's not until she stumbles upon a detailed biography on Michael Myers that her history is uncovered. After reading the book, she discovers her real name is Angel Myers ("Angel"--hmm...). She goes to her friend's house to seek solace but soon decides "Hey, fuck it!" and she and two other friends go to a Halloween party.

But hey, it's a horror film, so drunk teenagers are obviously gonna get they're asses butchered.
While at the party, Lori gets hammered, and while her one friend is about to get it on in a car with some kid in a wolf mask, they bite the dust at Michael's hands. Lori and her remaining friend soon decide that they should probably be heading home (unbeknownst to them their third buddy is dead in the back of a van). First they go to Lori's house, only to find that Lori's 'sister' Anna has been butchered and is barely alive (she dies within a matter of minutes). The friend is told by Lori to go call 911, but something has to go wrong, and she is killed as she is telling the 911 operator the address. Lori's adopted father (who is a cop) soon returns home to find Lori gone and Anna dead. Obviously disturbed and distraught over the death of his only biological child, he is still determined to find Lori and figure out just what the hell is going on.
But soon, the asshole writer of the Michael Myers biography (you know, the one that broke the news to Lori..I mean, Angel) shows up saying he wants to help. The cop gets his knickers in a twist and is all "get the fuck out of here, blah blah blah." Loomis, however (the writer) tags along anyways and when they go to an out-in-the-middle-of-nowhere location to find Lori, they discover that Michael Myers is with her.
"Holy Hell Batman! I thought you said he was D-E-A-D, DEAD!"
And that's what everyone seemed to think, but throughout the film we see images of him doing his thing, so we (the viewers) know that he obviously ain't dead!...
If you want to know the ending, tough shit. I know I gave away a good portion of the plot but the point of my reviews is so YOU (the reader) can make a choice of whether you want to go see it. I'm not going to tell you the end so you don't have to watch it.
Anyway, now for the point of my review: did I like it? Hell yeah, I'd say I liked it. The gore was EXTREMELY intense so, like Inglourious Basterds, not for those who get queasy easily. The gore can kind of distract one from the plot at times, so I guess that would be my only complaint. This was not a plotless horror flick, however. The plot was pretty intriguing, but the amount of gore was just, like I said, a little distracting. And pretty disgusting might I add. But it was a good time nonetheless. If you're looking to be scared, you'll be impressed. Before this one, I honestly can't remember the last "horror" movie that actually scared me. I can honestly say that I almost cried like a little bitch during one or two of the killing scenes (yes--it was that intense!). If you're into horror movies and you're one of those "the gorier, the better" people, then definitely go see it. If you're looking for a deep, psychologically unnerving thriller that will disturb you to the very depths of your soul, then skip this one. If I had to rate it using the "star" system (which I sort of hate), I would say seven out of ten because the gore/blood splatter/sound of people being stabbed in the back of the head was kind of repetitive and got annoying after a while. Some people said it was confusing, and I found myself *a little* confused at times, but that could possibly be just me being stupid. Other than that, no complaints. All in all, Halloween II pretty much kicked some serious ass. Go see it.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS

Inglourious Basterds.
Anyone who's seen the film knows that the title is spelled incorrectly on purpose :)

Was probably one of the most amazing films I've ever seen. Definitely in my top five. Completely worthy of it's 8.7 rating on the IMDB. (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0361748/) It's like a "violent fairytale" of sorts--conveying a "wouldn't it be nice if..." idea, and indeed it would have been nice if history could have gone down like the plot of this film. It takes place in Nazi-occupied France (obviously) during WWII, and centers around both an escaped Jew in France, and a group of American guerrilla vigilantes who are in the "killing Nazi business".

And Business Was Boomin'.
The violence in the film is intense--but worth it, as it was exhilarating, exciting, and TOTALLY FUCKING BADASS!!!
Anyway, the Inglourious Basterds (as the Nazi killers call themselves),devise a plan to kill hundreds of Nazis, along with the Fuhrer himself with the help of Shoshanna Dreyfus, a young Jewish girl who runs a movie theatre.
The film is packed with suspenseful dialogue; though I'm guessing about half of that dialogue is either in German or French. So if you don't mind reading subtitles, then it shouldn't be difficult to get what's going on. Obviously anyone who knows what the movie is about knows that it's totally not gonna go down well with those with weak stomachs (and closed minds). The violence was gory as hell and the subject matter very "touchy" but it's a must-see. I have absolutely no complaints about this film. Not because this is my first review and I'm not used to hard criticism (I AM), but because it was THAT FUCKING GOOD. No joke, the audience actually CLAPPED at the end of the film. Does that ever happen?? Walking out of the theatre, I actually thought I should have paid MORE to see this masterpiece.
GO WATCH IT!!!