Sunday, June 15, 2008

More to Come...

I haven't been posting as much as I'd like to. I've been seriously busy and it doesn't look like it's slowing down any time soon. Yesterday, I started principal photography on the film I'm directing. I had so many nightmares the night before about all the things that would go wrong, but it went surprisingly smoothly and I'm sure now more than ever that this is what I want to do with the rest of my life. It was such a high. But enough about me...

  • I saw The Happening on Friday and will be posting a review shortly. It's definitely not Shyamalan's worst movie to date. But sadly, that's not saying much at all. Honestly, it'd be pretty tough to top Lady in the Water in that arena.
  • Scratch that. I don't have it in me to revisit The Happening in the way I would need to to write a full review.
    Grade: C-. I'll post a mini review much much later.
  • I recently watched Evening for the first time. I (wisely) missed it when it came out last year. Man, that movie is a mess. How they can assemble so much talent in one place and come up with...that is a testament to bad writing/directing.
  • This is just a general sentiment. Something I need to get off my chest. Normally, I'm not very easily offended. And this is no exception. What I'm about to say comes less from my being offended than it does from my being annoyed/unamused. Fuck Carlos Mencia. There I said it. I happened to have Comedy Central on in the background and since I don't have a remote, and therefore have to get up to change the channel, in the process of doing so, I happened to catch a little bit of his show. Fuck him. "Hillary Clinton can't win because she's not hot enough." He actually said that. No clever double-entendres. Nothing else witty to add. That was the joke. The audience loved it. Excuse me while I fucking projective vomit. Fuck Carlos Mencia right up his ugly, developmentally challenged ass. He's like a composite of every single socially retarded, homophobic, racist guy I went to elementary/high school with and the fact that he's made it onto television makes me lose faith in the world in ways I never thought possible. Again, not easily offended here. George Carlin, who is often homophobic/racist was one of my favorite comedians. Judd Apatow's stuff is also often offensive in the same way. You know why I like these people? Because they're...wait for it: FUNNY! Carlos Mencia is neither funny nor clever enough to get away with half the shit he gets away with saying. He's like that kid who giggles every time he hears the word "booby." Fuck him. He's. Not. funny. Fuck him. Fuck him. Fuck him. Fuck. Him.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Random Thoughts

Okay. So I'm a bit late in addressing the MTV Movie Awards , which were held almost two weeks ago. I had initially planned on ignoring them altogether, like I always do, but a recent comment from an acquaintance prompted me to address something tangentially related to the MTV Awards.

I was on campus this week and ran into someone who I haven't seen since I was a lowly freshman. We got to chatting, about school/life, etc. When he found out I had graduated from the film/video program, the conversation veered towards movies. He asked me if I had watched the MTV Awards, which I replied "no." Then he said something about it being better than the Oscars, because "at least [he] had actually heard of most of the movies." That really made me think...

Are the movies nominated for Oscars always better than those nominated for MTV Movie Awards? Well, the short answer is yes. Anyone who knows me knows that I find the Academy Awards fascinating. I love the spectacle. I love when they get it right and I love arguing when they get it wrong (which is more often than not). I think about my favorite movies of the past decade or so:

No Country for Old Men
2006: Children of Men
2005: Brokeback Mountain
2004: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
2003: In America
2002: Far from Heaven
2001: The Royal Tenenbaums
2000: Requiem for a Dream
1999: Fight Club
1998: American History X
1997: Boogie Nights

Of those titles, only two were actually nominated for best picture, and only one took home the title. My point? Both the Academy Awards and the MTV Movie Awards often show a lack of imagination/discernment when it comes to their choices. But yes, I would rather take the Academy Awards' selections over the MTV Awards' selections any day of the week, and I don't think that makes me a snob. Maybe it does. I don't care. Transformers won best movie this year. It boggles my mind that more people voted for that film than any of the other films released in 2007. This is unforgivable for so many reasons, not the least of which was that No Country for Old Men was not even nominated! Seriously. Maybe my social circle is a little skewed because I've been hanging out with film students for the past four years, but you'd be hard pressed to show me a more zeitgeist-y movie from 2007 than No Country. It certainly wasn't unpopular, and certainly not among young people. And if the MTV crowd is going for action, that's fine. But Transformers? A movie made by the egomaniacal Michael Bay that, while definitely a step up from previous efforts, was still a muddled, overlong mess? Why not go for something like The Bourne Ultimatum or even 28 Weeks Later both of which were action-packed, intelligent and well-made? It's choices like these that remind me of that student in one of my classes who told me that Ryan Gosling was her favorite actor. Yet when I asked if she had seen Half Nelson or The Believer or (to a lesser extent) Lars and the Real Girl, she replied "no." That irks me. And people like her exist by the thousands. And they aren't doing good actors like Ryan Gosling any favors by only seeing him when he makes commercial, yet pedestrian efforts like The Notebook. Do you see where I'm going with this? Maybe you don't...

What's the point of this rant? It's that you're not going to be told what movies are good or bad by awards shows. You have to search to find the great titles, which is becoming increasingly easy with information being at our fingertips. Don't take what's force fed to you. Seek out quality in every piece of culture that you consume. Be it the coverage you choose to follow about the presidential election, the books you read, the music you listen to, the television you watch (though I recently discovered that Desperate Housewives is actually a pretty smart show underneath all the mainstream hype...who knew?) and the movies you see. Seek out quality!

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Review--The Strangers

The Strangers is a film that was never going to live up to its trailer. That shot of Liv Tyler standing unknowing in the kitchen, while a mysterious man with a bag over his head stands in the background is probably infamous by now. And sadly, nothing beats seeing that for the first time. I went into this film thinking that it would be genuinely creepy. The trailer for another film titled Bagman really says it best. "There's nothing more frightening than a guy looking in your window with a bag on his head." Not sure if that's true, but it's still pretty scary anyway. And yet, I'm shocked by how...meh this movie was.

The Strangers is both written and directed by newcomer Bryan Bertino. The film's direction is just as it should be. He has a real eye and he knows how to direct the viewer's eye. It's the writing part that I might leave to someone else next time around, if I were him. The screenplay is incredibly hollow, though I guess I appreciate what he was trying to do appreciate the right word? I'll just say that I understand. He's trying to strip away typical cliches of the "slice 'em up" horror-genre by first introducing these two characters and their hazy backstory. Essentially, Liv Tyler and Scott Speedman play a couple who are clearly going through a rough patch. He has recently proposed to her, and she's rejected. The tension's so thick you could cut it with a knife, no pun intended. Also he's kind of behaving like a petulant child, if you ask me. Of course this all becomes irrelevant when they go to his family's summer home in the middle of East Jesus Nowhere (thank you Diablo Cody) and the pair soon find themselves under siege by three masked attackers. Fine. But there are so many plotholes, it's almost embarrassing that whoever read this screenplay and chose to finance didn't catch them. For instance, if she rejected his proposal, why then would he still take her up to his summer house with rose petals on the bed and champagne at the ready? Why not just go home? Why do characters in horror movies always tell each other "you must have imagined it," or "that didn't happen" or some variation on that sentiment? If someone tells me that an intruder came into the house, then we're leaving, whether it's true or not. Why chance it?

I would be more forgiving of little things such as these if the movie were actually scarier. Not to say that there aren't some genuinely frightening moments. For instance, the first time one of the strangers knocks on the door and asks for "Tamara." She's not masked, but her face is obscured by the darkness. They tell her she has the wrong house, and she responds with a menacing "See ya later." But for the most part, the movie pretty much blows its wad during the first third, leaving the last two parts kind of stagnant and predictable. And there was no reason whatsoever for this story (which I seriously doubt is "based on true events" ) to unfold the way it did when you have a group of two perfectly capable adults versus a group of three perfectly capable adults, the former of which has a loaded shotgun at their disposal.

Grade: C+

I was actually excited about this film, which is saying a lot, because I rarely get excited about, or even have the desire to see horror films. But it was so richly disappointing.