Monthly Archives: March, 2014

Trailer for your Weekend: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

TMNT poster

So the trailer for the upcoming Michael Bay produced Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles  (2014) dropped this week. And despite myself I can’t help but be a little excited by this. It will almost certainly be another terrible ordeal of ‘Bayhem’ and it seems impossible it could possibly be a patch on the live action original that is so beloved by me and many others. But as someone who loves the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, I can’t help but be just a little bit psyched. Not so much the appearnce of the CGI turtles which is a little terrible. But because o f the big budget approach that is being taken with the property. There is an off chance that this will be loads of big budget fun with plenty of Turtles attitude. I will cling to that faint hope anyways. Thoughts all?

Related articles for you to check out: Worth Watching December 2010 and 2011 in Review

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Quick Review: The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert

The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (1994) is my fiancee’s favourite film in the entire world. So even if I didn’t like it, I would lie and say I did. But I did like it. And that is not a lie.

priscilla poster

It is easy to see why the film has become one of the most popular ‘contemporary’ Australian films, hovering somewhere between being a cult classic and an all out mainstream one. The film follows three drag queens as they traverse Australia from Sydney to Alice Springs to put on some shows. Or so they think. As with any road film, as the journey unfolds, the reasons for it become more complicated. And as with all of the best road films the journey is not merely a physical one as all three go on major internal journeys as they travel along in their titular bus Priscilla. The film is simultaneously wonderfully rambunctious but also quite considered in both the narrative and how it is telling it. One of the major selling points of the film is the costumes and it deservedly won an Oscar for costume design. The costumes are totally over the top but also so well thought out and at the service of the character. It is not a case of just slapping the silliest, biggest, wildest drag queen costume on the actors. It is about reflecting the character, where their arc is up to and the current situation of the film. I heard the other day that they tried, but unfortunately failed to make a dress made entirely of Vegemite toast (do you guys even know what Vegemite is?). That would have been a real sight to see!

priscilla cast

The performances are all excellent. Hugo Weaving and Guy Pearce really launched there careers with this film, careers that would take them from an Aussie  drag queen comedy all the way to blockbusters such as The Matrix (1999) and Iron Man 3 (2013). Without this film it is highly doubtful that they would have made it there. Both of them are excellent and they bring to life two totally different characters that thankfully illustrate that the film is more than happy to eschew drag queen cliche for three dimensional characters. Cast against type, Terence Stamp is along for the ride, helping no end to launch the careers of these two and make this film into the classic it is is. His character is probably the most minor of the three leads in terms of screen time but it is arguable that this character and this performance are the most important to the overall success of the film. The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert is a musical but it is far more than a collection of songs linked together with a little backstory. It engages with issues such as LGBTI rights and sets them against a specific time and place in Australia. Mind you there is a feeling watching this today that a lot of it is still more than relevant.

As a massive proponent of Aussie film, I highly recommend you catch this one if you never have. It is a hilarious and touching classic not afraid to push boundaries and you can’t ask for too much more in a film.

Verdict: Pint of Kilkenny

Progress: 104/1001

2014 Progress: 8/101

Related articles for you to check out: Patrick and Goddess

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Guest Review: Freddy vs Jason

As you will probably know, I just finished reviewing the Nightmare on Elm Street films. I was not too keen on reviewing the couple of non-canon films that followed featuring Freddy Krueger though. But I got some awesome volunteers when I put the call out there.

First up is my cousin Damo with this review of Freddy vs Jason (2003), the much maligned team up film, which does actually have a few defenders. Here are Damo’s thoughts.

f v j poster

Freddy vs Jason, a quick rundown before we begin.

Freddy Krueger is a serial killer, he attacks people in their dreams and if they die in the dream world, they die in real life too apparently. Krueger is from the Nightmare on Elm Street series.

Jason Voorhees kills serially also; he hails from the well known Friday the 13th horror film series. This guy automatically scores extra points because he wears a bad ass ice hockey mask, because he’s legit. And I like Ice Hockey…

Up the Mighty Ducks.goldberg

Anyway, this movie is all about Krueger’s mission to return to Elm Street (where he enjoys killing people) after an extended hiatus of not being powerful enough to enter people’s dreams. Or something. This is all explained by Kruger himself; in addition to his plan  to get Jason Voorhees to kill Elm Street locals so he can make a re-entry to the dream world. Unfortunately for Freddy though, Jason’s refusal to help him and instead continue killing for himself throws a spanner in the works. A spanner that obviously can’t be taken out like a normal person, its got to be solved by a big showdown between the two blokes. Sounds cool. Not really. Its crap.

So a storyline that’s so totally unique I hear you say; no its not. Haha.

But guess what? The characters are completely new and original. The lead girl, naïve and beautiful; the love interest who never wants to leave her side; the girl’s best friend who has low self esteem and that random pothead who is high all the time. What an outstanding film. Just joking. This is horrible.

Criticism aside, the fights and kills in the film are okay. After realizing that Jason Voorhees is overtaking him on the kill scale; Krueger initiates his fight back (cue the Freddy Vs Jason fight that took them an hour and fifteen minutes to get to). A combo of cool ways of stabbing each other coupled with hitting one another with various industrial material and/or machinery provides a somewhat okay series of moments in an absolutely horrendous film. It just isn’t that good.

f v j picLook, as far as slasher films go, this movie isn’t too bad but in every other department, this is pretty bloody terrible.

I was able to do one thing constructive during my viewing of Freddy vs Jason which was add the question “Is the writer of Freddy vs Jason dead yet?”

This film is the first in many years that has left me with my head in my hands wanting to cry in a corner.

I wish I could tell you to watch this movie, to share it with your friends and to enjoy your 97minutes of bliss, instead I will tell you to burn it in bucket that’s fireproof just in case the fire spreads. Its good to be fire-smart.

Verdict: Schooner of Tooheys New

Damo now has his own blog over at The Horenco Effort where he is publishing his movie reviews and will also be featuring other gnarly stuff such as his tunes.

Three fantastic Enemy posters

Up until I came across the trailer for Denis Villeneuve’s Enemy (2013) whilst trawling for  a trailer to post last week, hype for the film had pretty much passed me by. I thought the trailer was really good and I loved the poster I included in that post as well (the first one below). In a time where one decent poster for a big release is rare, I was pleasantly surprised to find that there were three pretty tasty looking Enemy posters. Check them out below and let me know what your favourite is.

This poster I shared with the trailer last week. I am utterly intrigued by that monster inside Gyllenhaal’s head.

enemy poster

Just as awesome is this yellow beast. Echoing the somewhat empty head and ramping up the doppelganger aspect of the plot too. This may well be my favourite of the three.

enemy poster 2.1

Lastly is this one, which if you look closely is actually really detailed in its design. The Gyllenhaal doubles have slightly different looks about them. Like the above, is cool to see some bold colour schemes used as well.

enemy poster 3.2

Related articles: Trailer for your Weekend: Enemy and Captain America: The Winter Soldier character posters.

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Trailer for your Weekend: The Double

the double poster

After stumbling upon the trailer for Enemy (2013) last week, I thought this week I would share the trailer for the rather more hyped doppelganger film to be released this year, Richard Ayoade’s The Double (2014). I have not really seen any of Ayoade’s work but plenty of people are really keen on his artistic vision. In terms of the cast, Jesse Eisenberg rarely impresses me, but I think Mia Wasikowska is one of the best actresses working at the moment and I enjoy her performances even in films that  I don’t care for such as Stoker (2013). As for this film, I am a little pessimistic. It looks a little weird tonally and actually reminded me of Tery Gilliam’s Brazil (1985). That kind of shtick is difficult to maintain over the course of a whole film. Having said that, the central notion is one that could make a great film, being a great mix of the relateable and the fantastical. Imagine what you would go through if all of a sudden your doppelganger showed up as a colleague. Hopefully the director can take it some interesting places.

Related articles: Trailer for your Weekend: Enemy and Now You See Me

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Quick Review – Grease

I generally write super long reviews, partly because I take a lot of notes whilst watching. But I don’t always feel like taking a whole bunch of notes and in those cases I will be writing these quick reviews for 1001 flicks from now on. They will be far less fully formed and detailed, but hopefully still interesting enough.

grease poster

It had been a long time between viewings of Grease (1978) for me when the fiancee and I chucked this on a couple of weeks ago. I thought I knew the film pretty well, but aside from some of the better known songs, there was actually a whole lot in here that I had absolutely no recollection of.

grease pink ladiesThe songs are what generally stick in the mind when thinking about Grease or at least they were for me . I remember “Grease Lightning” and some form of ‘supermix’  of all the tracks being played endlessly at high school socials. Events where teenage boys (not me of course) would attempt to sing the John Travolta part from “Summer Lovin” to impress a girl and end up looking like a tool and impressing no one.  But watching the film now, it is clear that there a lot more to it than that. For starters, despite most of the actors looking 20 years too old to be in high school, the film quite accurately charts the feelings that high school brings. The desperation to fit in, to retain some sense of originality and to impress the one you like enough to score a date. Refreshingly, the main points in this regard are made not by the portrayal of the new to town, goody two shoes Sandy, but by the suave and cool Danny played famously by John Travolta. He is the one who is not comfortable enough in his own skin to be himself around her. Rather he has to put on a greaser facade so as to save face with his mates. As for the songs though, they still hold up really well and there are a couple of singalong classics in here. That said though, there are a couple of them that I had totally forgotten that are really quite flat and suck a lot of the momentum out of the film.

grease cars

John Travolta is generally the actor who gets the most credit from this film. Either that, or it just seems that way because he is the one with the most prominent (though spluttering) ongoing career. The best performance though, and the one most integral to the film is from Olivia Newton-John as Sandy. It is her journey that the audience goes on, her conflicting emotions that we rollercoaster along with. And when both characters undergo a metamorphosis at the end, hers is by far the more meaningful of the two. She is changing and embracing the change happily whereas Danny is doing it begrudgingly (the character does most things begrudgingly throughout the film actually). Watching this film with my fiancee was a nicely interactive experience. This is one of those films best watched with a big crowd that is really into it I think, much like Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975) in that regard. And I still got that experience even with just the two of us as she sang every word to every song and whacked my arm repeatedly to exclaim “oh my God, coolest car ever”.

Grease is actually a film that holds up better than I thought it would and is much more than some catchy tunes. The depiction of high school here felt pretty relevant to me, even though I attended high school on an entirely different continent, 25 odd years later.

Verdict: Pint of Kilkenny

Progress: 103/1001

2014 Progress: 7/101

Related articles for you to check out: CabaretA Few Best Men

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Live Tweet Review: Independence Day

ID4 poster

I checked out Independence Day (1996) for the second of the live tweet reviews that you folk voted for. Gotta say, I liked this a whole lot less than the last time I saw it unfortunately. Chime in with your comments on what Roland Emmerich’s best film is below. Also, it’s still technically a ‘live’ tweet if I need to go to sleep for eight hours in the middle yeah?

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Wes Craven’s New Nightmare

new nightmare poster

Wes Craven’s New Nightmare (1994), unsurprisingly given the title, signals the return to the series of creative maestro Wes Craven and is also the last film in the Elm Street canon (at least that is how I see it, apparently the film is not technically regarded as canonical). Not only that, it takes the series to some really unfamiliar territory, not bad for the seventh film in the series.

New nightmare creepy kidRight from the start, New Nightmare is a different beast to what has come before it, beginning by toying with and subverting one of the most iconic pieces of imagery that the series has. It wears its meta, postmodern heart on its sleeve and manages to do it in a way that is pretty unpretentious the whole way through. Star of the first film Heather Langenkamp returns playing herself and is joined by Robert Englund and John Saxon doing the same, as well as staff from New Line cinema. Throughout the film, it blends classic Elm Street mythology with these more meta flourishes into something that is both intellectually stimulating and plenty of fun. Narratively, the story begins to unfold with Langenkamp and her family seemingly being haunted by Freddy in real life. Here the film could have easily settled into pretty much the standard narrative of the series, with some postmodern trimmings. However the insertion of writer director Wes Craven into the film sees it retain its originality as it combines an almost Stranger than Fiction (2006) like conceit with the notion of age old, eternal evil which is almost reminiscent of a folk tale of some description. The narrative construction is not without its issues. Early on I became intrigued with how they were going to deal with the Robert Englund/Freddy Krueger dichotomy. It didn’t really bother me watching it, but now that I think about it, I actually don’t think that is resolved which is a little disappointing.

New nightmare babysitter

You do sense some ego in the project from Craven. Not only does he pull off a Lee Daniels and insert his name into the title of the film, he also gives himself a really quite key role. It does not particularly detract from the film but it was in the back of my mind. His screentime is not all that epic, but when you think about what his character means to the film, he is integral to how it unfolds.  Speaking of thinking, this film really makes you think a lot, if anything a little too much. There were allusions and postmodern, meta references that I truly think I need another viewing or two to really unpack properly, they are that dense.  That said, the more straightforward aspects of this are equally fulfilling, especially early with the almost mockumentary autobiographically influenced parts focused on Langenkamp, like the TV interview that she participates in. The line about Wes Craven no longer doing horror films brought a real smile to my face as well, reminiscent of James Wan’s recent decision to take leave of the genre as well (come back James, we need you man). As well as all of that, the film is genuinely scary and brings a quite visceral style of horror in parts that is new to the series. Some moments are undone by the presence of CGI graphics that look about SNES standard, but most of the frights are much more effective.

Wes Craven’s New Nightmare is a frightening and highly original way to cap off the original series. The premise is bold and whilst aspects of the film threaten to be a little overdone, overall Craven does an assured job of holding this all together. He is clearly the man with this series, having directed my three favourite entries. Given the only major quibble with the film I could muster is that the much hyped T-Rex vs Freddy showdown never materialises, this one is well worth your time if you have not seen it.

Verdict: Pint of Kilkenny

Coming up over the next couple of weeks are some guest reviews of films featuring Freddy Krueger considered outside of the canon, so keep an eye out for those.

Don’t forget to check out the rest of my Elm Street reviews (ranked in order of preference):

1. A Nightmare on Elm Street
2. A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors
3. Wes Craven’s New Nightmare
4. A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child
5. Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare
6. A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge
7. Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master

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Trailer for your Weekend: Enemy

enemy poster

Have to love a trailer that opens with the line “you don’t go to the movies do you?” From there the trailer sets up an intriguing premise, that could be spectacular if done well. A man, played by Jake Gyllenhaal, sees his doppelganger in a film and sets about finding as much out about his onscreen double as possible. Hopefully they take this some interesting places and don’t just coast on the quality of the premise. Very cool to catch a glimpse of the great Isabella Rossellini in this as well.

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Worth Watching February 2014

February was a much, much quieter film watching month for me. I think I only got to the cinema twice throughout the whole month actually. This is also one of those lame months (possibly only the second ever) where there was nothing I didn’t consider ‘not worth watching. So no rants here unfortunately. But it does mean you get a second highly recommended flick.

Worth Watching:

  • An Original Duckumentary (2012), Ann Johnson Prum – This doco on ducks, awesomely narrated by Paul Giamatti, just popped up on my TV randomly. More than just a killer name, this was incredibly informative too and the variety of ducks and the adaptations they have made to survive was all really new information to me. Definitely recommended for any big animal/nature lovers out there.
  • Inside Llewyn Davis (2013), Joel & Ethan Coen – I have not always been the biggest fan of the Coens’ films, but this one connected with me. I have been a big fan of Oscar Isaac since Balibo (2009) and he is great here. The amazing Casey Mulligan is even better. This is both a very specific film – a portrait of the Dylan era Gaslight folk scene; and a universal one – we all have to find our way and grapple with our true calling. Hopefully to a soundtrack as good as this too.

llewyn poster

  • Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom (2013), Justin Chadwick – I think this film has been a touch unfairly maligned. It is very hard to reduce any life to 140 minutes, let along that of one of the greatest transformative figures of the 20th Century, but they do a good job. Perhaps it’s my ignorance, but I for one learned things from this film. Surprisingly, I also didn’t feel like the film deified Mandela. At times he looks weak or even selfish. Yeah it is sometimes a bit biopic by the numbers. But when the numbers belong to Mandela and they are brought to life through wonderful performances by Naomi Harris and especially Idris Elba, that ain’t so bad.
  • Twister (1996), Jan de Bont – I watched this following the passing of Phillip Seymour Hoffman and I am really glad I did. It still holds up as a blockbuster action pic. The effects are incredible for its time (actually still incredible by today’s standards). In addition to Hoffman, Bill Paxton and Helen Hunt lead a great ensemble. It is so nice to see Hoffman in such a joy-filled performance. “Loser! Move on” may be the greatest line of his career.
  • Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2005), Mike Newell – The quidditch World Cup gives this a cool, lighter start than the norm. The effects, which are put to world-building use, are very good. In fact all the sets are perfect, as is the inclusion of the mighty Brendan Gleeson. His character is wonderfully unhinged. There is some unnecessarily forced tension between Ron and Harry which is an annoyance which reflects a story that is perhaps not as focused and direct as it could be. But the script is good at tinging the film with humour and capturing teen angst in a fantastical setting nicely. Another good entry into the series.
  • 1 (2013), Paul Crowder – Way to make your film nice and easy to google. I have never been all that invested in F1, but even I found this doco worthwhile. The footage chosen conveys the speed and intensity of the pursuit. The film examines the place and acceptability of death in the sport. There is a focus on safety and life and death aspects of the sport rather than it being a comprehensive historical document. Some of the fatal crashes that you are bombarded with are exceptionally confronting. And the strong involvement of Bernie Ecclestone and friends does make the objectivity of the film rather questionable. Despite all that, still a more than sharp enough doco experience.  

If you only have time to watch one Inside Llewyn Davis

If you only have time to watch two Twister

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