Whoops, I guess I lied when I said I won’t be going to a theater anytime soon. Turns out I’ll be going out to the movies more times in December than I have all year. My family makes a tradition of going out to watch a movie on Christmas Day, and this year we were torn, so we all got together and watched the trailers for a handful of new releases and then voted on which we’d want to watch. The options were Sing, Moana, Lion, and La La Land. Based on the title of this post, I’m sure you’re smart enough to deduce what we ended up seeing.
La La Land is the third full length film from writer/ director Damien Chazelle. “Hmmm… Damien Chazelle, how come that name sounds kind of familiar?” I hear you say. Maybe it’s because he wrote the cartoonish Grand Piano, or the dour and intense 10 Cloverfield Lane. Maybe it’s because his last directing effort was a little movie about drumming and throwing chairs called Whiplash. Chazelle has only been on the radar for a handful of years, but apparently he’s only able to crank out the hits.
La La Land is a very simple movie with a very simple premise. Ryan Gosling plays Sebastian, a jazz pianist aspiring to own his own jazz club and keep jazz alive and thriving in the L.A. scene. Emma Stone plays Mia, an aspiring but struggling actress who is trying to navigate her way through the Hollywood minefield to make a name for herself. They meet, and fall in love. Life ensues.
It’s been a while since my last post. Between finding a new job and Pokémon GO, I haven’t had much time for anything.
Sam Raimi is one of my favorite directors, ever. Some people dismiss him as just a B-movie schlock director and lots of people hate him solely because of how Spider-Man 3 turned out, but he holds a special place in my heart. Sam Raimi comes across as a guy who just loves making movies. He’s like a demented Spielberg, focused on making movies fun and entertaining rather than just churning out cash grabs for an easy paycheque. More than a decade before 2002’s Spider Man, Raimi took a crack at the superhero genre with his first Hollywood film, 1990’s action/ comedy/ drama flick: Darkman.
Peyton Westlake (Liam Neeson) is a scientist researching synthetic skin cells to be used for skin transplants or reconstructive surgery. His cells are perfect replicas of regular skin cells except for one major flaw. If exposed to light, they only last 99 minutes before dissolving. His girlfriend, Julie Hastings (Frances McDormand) is an attorney that comes across a document that incriminates some of the city’s untouchable gangsters. Once word gets around that Hastings is keeping the letter hidden, mob leader Durant (Larry Drake) and his goons go looking for it and find it in Westlakes’ lab. After finding it, Durant disfigures Westlake before blowing up him and his lab. Left for dead and transformed into a hideous monster or a person, the scientist formerly known as Westlake goes on a roaring rampage of revenge, using his scientific knowledge to help him destroy everyone who was a part of ruining his life all while trying to reunite with the love of his life.
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…)
Remember that last post I made, where I briefly wrote about horror comedies? Well, I found one that actually kinda worked. I said that you need to strike a balance between horror and comedy not swaying too far to either side, and what I didn’t realize is that you can also let both those aspects fall to the background and let the story shine through. The reason I didn’t really consider that a horror comedy with very little horror or comedy would work is because I thought it would get too cluttered and water down both the scares and the laughs, making it a homogeneous blend of boring. Today, I managed to find a movie that plays down the horror and the comedy, and doesn’t really suffer from it.
Ava’s Possessions is a dark comedy/ drama that also happens to involve Exorcist style demonic possession. It’s written and directed by Jordan Galland who has a whole slew of credits on IMDb, but hasn’t worked on anything that I’ve ever heard of before. I honestly only checked this movie out because of a recommendation from the YouTube channel Good Bad Flicks. Netflix’s weird rating algorithm listed it as one star for me so I was never really possessed (ha!) to check it out but then again, Netflix told me I would love Tammy, so I don’t know what I was expecting.
The movie starts up as Ava (Louisa Krause), a young New York woman striking out on her own, is exorcised of a demon possessing her body. Once she’s back to normal she sees the chaos and destruction she caused while possessed, and needs to put her life back together. While trying to get back into the swing of things, she finds some clues that lead her to believe something happened one of the nights she was possessed that nobody told her about. She goes off to try and get to the bottom of it all while trying her best to rehabilitate and reintegrate into society. (more…)
Horror comedy is a tough genre of movie to pull off correctly. You can’t sway two heavily to either horror or comedy sides, and you need to make sure that whatever horror tropes you’re lampooning doesn’t come across as patronizing to horror fans. You also need to make sure that you aren’t spoofing the subject-du-jour, and if you are, make sure you do it well lest you get your movie lumped in with money grubbing satirists or become a parody of yourself. Most meta-slasher or slasher parody films nowadays are just rehashes of Wes Craven’s 1996 masterpiece, Scream. A couple movies put fun little spins on the formula, but for the most part, they’re becoming as repetitive as slasher flicks did back in the ’80s and ’90s.
Las Brujas de Zugarramurdi or, it’s catchier English title, Witching & Bitching, is a comedy(?) horror(?) action adventure film from Spanish director Álex de la Iglesia. This movie seems to spoof old occult and witch movies from the ’70s, but it definitely takes some pages from Robert Rodriguez and Sam Raimi’s books as well. The movie is about a couple of guys, José (Hugo Silva) and Tony (Mario Casas) who stick up a gold buying store with José’s elementary school aged kid, Sergio (Gabriel Delgado). In their getaway they team up with Manuel, a down on his luck taxi driver who decides he’d much prefer to be a gold thief than a cabbie. Police and José’s wife are in pursuit, but before they can catch them, José and his crew run into a coven of witches. Things get out of hand incredibly quickly, and hilarity(?) ensues. (more…)