Oh-ho! Caught you off guard didn’t I? You thought all I did was write about ’80s slasher flicks or pretentious arthouse films, didn’t you? But here I am, writing about a family movie. And a good family movie at that. Not a kids movie mind you. A family movie. A lot of people lump media for kids and media for families together, when they are completely different beasts. Sure, the two of them usually have bright colors and silly characters but when you dig in to the actual content of the film or television show or whatever, family-oriented ones usually have more to offer. A kids movie is something like the 2004 Spongebob Squarepants movie (I love this movie, but I can recognize that it’s a dumb movie for dumb kids), a movie that is made to entertain children only. The jokes are juvenile and there’s not really anything to gain from its story or characters. Parents buy the DVD or Blu-Ray or stream it on Netflix just to shut their kid up for an hour and a half while they take a nap. Family movies are movies that are meant to entertain kids and adults, and usually contain more delicate and real life themes that can actually teach kids something or spark an actual discussion afterwards. Sometimes they even throw the parents a bone, and slip some mature jokes in that would fly over a child’s head. Prime examples of movies and TV like that would include titles like:The Legend of Korra, The Lego Movie, Martyrs, and Disney’s newest box office crushing movie: Zootopia.
Zootopia is essentially a buddy cop crime drama that happens to involve goofy looking anthropomorphic animals. It was directed by Byron Howard, Rich Moore, and Jared Bush, all super talented guys who have been involved with directing or writing in projects like Big Hero 6, Tangled, and The Simpsons (from ’89 to ’98 in case you were wondering).
This film is about a young, country bumpkin rabbit named Judy (Ginnifer Goodwin) who moves to the bustling metropolis of Zootopia to become a cop. She’s the first ever rabbit to become an officer and being new and different to the force lends Judy to face discrimination and prejudice from the rest of her co-workers. She eventually bands together with a sly con artist fox, Nick (Jason Bateman) to solve a series of disappearances around Zootopia. Adventure ensues. (more…)
Enemy is a psychological thriller/ mystery film directed by Denis Villeneuve who also directed the critically acclaimed thrillers Prisoners, Incendies, and Sicario (all of which also happen to be on my to-watch list). I’m on the fence about whether or not I would call this an arthouse film or not, because it seems to straddle the line between an accessible movie that makes you think and a surrealist mindfuck. Enemy is loosely based on the book The Double by José Saramago and stars Jake Gyllenhaal as Adam Bell, a bored history professor who finds Anthony St. Claire, a small time actor who looks exactly like him. It isn’t just an uncanny resemblance. Anthony is physically identical to Adam. If you haven’t guessed it, Anthony is also played by Gyllenhaal. Adam researches and quickly becomes obsessed with Anthony, and begins interfering with Anthony’s private life trying to figure out who Anthony really is and why they appear to be the same person. Their lives become somewhat intertwined and they both need to find their way through a web of mistrust and deception to get to the bottom of it.
Contrary to popular belief, I don’t only watch horror movies. Sure, dudes in masks wielding machetes who chop up promiscuous teenagers tickles my fancy some, but every now and again it’s nice to step out of the coffin and experience something a bit different. While I’d definitely call myself a fan of sci-fi, I feel similar about that genre as I do most comedies. I think a movie in the genre needs to be executed impeccably if it’s going to stand solely on the tropes and stylings of genre. A prime example in the comedy genre would be Airplane, a movie that spends literally every frame setting up or paying off on a joke, and every joke sticks its landing perfectly. It doesn’t need compelling characters, narrative, or conflict because the movie can stand alone on the strength of its jokes. My favorite sci-fi movies and shows definitely cannot stand on how “sci-fi” they are. They need something else to synergize with the sci-fi setting. Take Robocop for instance. Unarguably the greatest movie ever made, its political and social satire works with the sci-fi setting, not just along side it. Their power together makes it a great movie. Battlestar Galactica is a political thriller/ drama that just so happens to take place in space and involves evil robots trying to eradicate humanity. The sci-fi (spaceships, faster than light travel, Cylons) does not get people watching it episode in, episode out. The fleshed out characters, their relationships, their struggles and flaws, and how they overcome those struggles and flaws make the show worth watching. For me, sci-fi needs a human element to grasp on to in order to elevate it to something really worth thinking about. Good sci-fi asks questions and pokes holes in convention. A movie that fits this description to a tee, is Her.
Her is Spike Jonze’s fourth feature length film about Theodore (Joaquin Phoenix), a man going through a divorce who begins a relationship with Samantha, an artificial intelligence operating system (voiced by Scarlett Johansson). It sounds like a quirky indie drama, and while it does fall into a couple of the traps of a schlubby-guy-meets-manic-pixie-dream-girl movie, it deftly soars above a majority of the clichés and keeps you on your toes and guessing what will happen next. Spike Jonze is known for making quirky and weird movies, but Her is definitely an accessible film (unlike the last movie I saw starring Scarlett Johansson, Under the Skin). I know I’m late to the party for Her, but understandably I was a little overwhelmed by the ridiculous amount of praise this movie had going for it when it came out. It seemed almost too hyped. It was winning every award ever, and nothing but perfect or near perfect reviews came spilling out after its release. At the time it felt like manufactured hype or Oscarbait, but now that I’ve watched it, I can safely say…
I think I’ve made it clear that I really like the Friday the 13th movies. There are twelve of these movies, with a thirteenth slated to come out next year and while they get a bad rap for being schlocky tits-and-gore horror movies (spoilers: they are 100% unapologetic schlocky tits-and-gore horror movies), they are for the most part way better than they deserve to be. Sure, the series has its lows, but there are more decent-to-great Friday the 13th movies than most franchises have movies, total. So, if you’re interested in getting your feet wet with arguably the biggest slasher series, I’m going to let you know what is worth watching, and what you should skip. Here’s the Friday the 13th series, ranked from worst to best. Obviously, this is my personal opinion. If you disagree with my rankings, great. I don’t care. Welcome to the internet. (more…)
Here we go again. A week ago I rambled about Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers, and I thought it was pretty mediocre. It was poor enough that most people would let the franchise go and say “well, that was pretty shit, so I’m not going to see the next one unless I happen to hear good things about it”. I feel like if I was around in the ’80s I would feel the same way. However, here I am, less than an hour until midnight, having just watched the fifth installment into this franchise that refuses to die.
Halloween 5 is the worst of the Halloween movies that I’ve seen so far. The problem with it is that I can’t immediately dismiss it as being a piece of trash, because it isn’t. It isn’t wholly irredeemable, and that pisses me off. There are facets of this movie that are good despite a vast majority of it being a confusing, irritating mess.
Halloween 5 was directed by Franco-Swiss director Dominique Othenin-Girard and stars Danielle Harris and Donald Pleasence returning as Jamie Lloyd and Dr. Loomis. A year after the events of Halloween 4, Michael Myers returns to Haddonfield again to try and finish off Jamie once and for all.
Oh, also, Jamie has a psychic link to Michael Myers.
Arthouse films aren’t for everyone. They’re often vague, confusing, and come across as being strange and different for the sake of being strange and different. Now, I’m by no means an authority on arthouse and experimental cinema, but I’ve been through the surrealist rodeo a couple times. Being someone who really likes the visual and technical elements of film, I can enjoy certain art films for their imagery and cinematography, even if their #2deep4me messages fly over my head.
Under the Skin is a sci-fi horror film directed by Jonathan Glazer. While definitely an art film, Under the Skin’s plot is easier to digest than something like, say, Alejandro Jodorowsky’s The Holy Mountain. That being said, it doesn’t reduce how evocative and mesmerizing the imagery is in this movie, nor does it make some of the scenes any less uncomfortable to sit through. The movie follows a simple premise. An alien woman (Scarlett Johansson) is sent to Earth to process men for an unknown reason. In order to capture the men she needs, she decides to pose as a beautiful young woman and seduce them. As she ensnares prey after prey, her time among humans begins to rub off on her and she becomes curious about the different experiences and emotions humans go through. See? That wasn’t so hard. (more…)