Saturday, February 28, 2009

Day Twenty-Three: Brand Upon the Brain (2006) - Rank 3/5


When directors decide to pay homage to a lost genre of film, they dance the fine line between entertainment and self-indulgence. Granted, self-indulgence can also be entertaining - Tarantino's entire body of work is one giant piece of cinematic masturbation, but it's fun to watch (in restrospect, that just sounds dirty). But Tarantino is an expert in that style of filmmaking. Guy Maddin, while an accomplished filmmaker, is in new territory and portions of the film wander aimlessly as if the plot has become lost in that unexplored realm.

Maddin chose to make a "silent film" that owes more of its visual style to David Lynch's "Eraserhead" than to anything produced in the 1920's. Some of the characters (particularly the mother) fluctuate between frightening and humorous and the lighthouse/orphanage that our narrator is reared in has a layout that's about as straightforward as the Navidson home in Danielewski's "House of Leaves." The plot itself mixes child torture, cannibalism, zombies and lesbian love triangles interwoven into a dark and unique story (though the notion of a scientist harvesting life force from abducted orphans is somewhat reminiscent of Jeunet's "City of Lost Children"). In short, the surreal combination of all these characteristics give the film the feel of a fever dream you might experience after looking through family photo albums.

For everything that I really appreciate and enjoy about the film, there was one major component to the film that I couldn't stand: the narration. Narration for a silent film has a nice, experimental sound/feel to it, but just as not all experiments are proven successes, this is where I think the film fails to hit home for me. Isabella Rossellini's throaty voicing is certainly welcome at any time, but not when she's spouting out dialog that feels like it's excerpted from a Samuel Beckett play (and while I love Endgame, I do not dig this). I recall struggling for some time to find an audio track without narration (the Critereon DVD came with twelve audio tracks), but it was all for naught - multiple tracks only yielded various actors reading the exact same script. I settled for Crispin Glover for his narration seemed more fitting.

For the life of me, I can't understand why Maddin's felt the need for it. Perhaps he created a true "silent" version of the film and it just tested poorly because the average moviegoer couldn't interpret what was taking place on screen. That, or he just thought it would be a fun opportunity to wax poetic about estranged love for one's family, inserting attempts at humor along the way. Either way, it not only falls short, but it keeps you (or at least it did me) from truly engaging in what's taking place on screen. Apart from that major flaw though, it is a visual marvel to behold and I won't begrudge Maddin from attempting something unique in this day and age of studio remakes and other such dreck.

Watch the Trailer

Day Twenty-Two: Picnic at Hanging Rock (1975) - Rank 5/5


Breathtaking, hypnotic and enigmatic, this is easily one of the best films I've ever seen (and I don't make that assertion lightly). Peter Weir has perfectly crafted a mystery surrounding the disappearance of three girls and a schoolteacher on a Valentine's Day picnic. The film offers no clear cut answers as to what exactly happened, frequently dropping clues more for confusion rather than resolution. To try and deduce the truth or "right answer" behind the incident is to miss the point of the film altogether. Like Peter Weir's fantastic follow-up to this film, "The Last Wave," the theme is more focused on presenting a clash of cultures.

Set at the turn of the twentieth century, a group of girls from a boarding school are plopped into the vast, untamed expanse of Australia's back country. This fabulous juxtaposition is poised before us from the very start as we listen to the school's principal (exquisitely played by Rachel Roberts) warns of the dangers of the outback - the multitude of venomous snakes and insects that populate the treacherous rock-to young females dressed in full, pure white, Victorian apparel. Sense is pitted against superstition and logic and reason are set against the mysterious and unexplained. The latter haunts many of the lead characters in the film as they struggle to understand, explain and resolve the incident, only to learn as they delve deeper into the mystery, that there may be no solution. A second theme of obsession over the unexplainable then deftly weaves itself into the film (a sense of compulsion similar to that exhibited in David Fincher's "Zodiac").

From the moment you begin watching the opening credit sequence, complemented with a mesmerizing, pan flute score, you're drawn in. Upon completion of my first viewing, I pressed "Play" and began it all over again, only to realize that it feels even fresher upon second viewing. My great regret now is that I didn't indulge in this film while my good friend Robert was still living. He long-considered this his favorite film, and the framed one-sheet from the film that once hung in his apartment now resides in the manager's office of the theatre I work at. I certainly can understand now why he had such adoration for the film.

Watch the Trailer

Day Twenty-One: Run Lola Run (1998) - Rank 4/5


After catching "Perfume," I was intrigued enough by Tom Tykwer's kinetic sense of filming and decided to check out this earlier piece. "Run Lola Run" features the same the jump-cutting transitions and quick, fluid camerawork that was present in "Perfume," but on steroids. The throbbing techno score, snappy editing and the constant movement of the film's star Franka Potente (yeah, that's some more) produces almost a sense of fatigue as you watch it. And while it may by physically wearing visually, the abstract sense of time and storytelling is mentally exhausting as well. When critics classify a film as a "thrill ride," this is the experience I expect. Most big, summer blockbusters labeled as such find me glancing at my watch while viewing the film, an action I didn't find myself performing the last time I was riding Millennium Force at Cedar Point.

The manic storyline centers around Lola's (Potente) repeated attempts to raise 100,000 Deutschmarks in twenty minutes to save her screw-up boyfriend from murderous drug dealers. If she fails, we just winds back the clock and off she goes again. Each attempt plays out differently because her exit from her apartment building varies by a few seconds each time - creating "alternate realities" for each run for the money. The "butterfly effect" of a two second difference parlays into a world of variation as twenty minutes progresses. I suppose a poor analogy could be drawn to "Sliders" wait! What if the film was remade with a star from "Sliders?" Instead of Franka, out sprinting savior was...


...yes, John Rhys-Davies. If only Denholm Elliott were still alive. His Marcus-Brody-a-la-Indiana-Jones-and-the-Last-Crusade bungling would certainly explain the loss of the package of drug money at the beginning...and his poor attempt at robbing a supermarket to try and raise the loot. Yes...okay, I'm restarting this review. Back up the clock twenty minutes to when I began...

After catching "Perfume," I was intrigued enough by Tom Tykwer's kinetic sense of filming and decided to check out this earlier piece. "Run Lola Run" features the same the jump-cutting transitions and quick, fluid camerawork that was present in "Perfume," but on steroids. It feels very much like an elaborate music video, and I was surprised to learn (as best as my research revealed) that Tykwer didn't get his start in directing music videos. Other directors whose early work premiered on MTV rather than in theatres, such as Spike Jonze and Mark Romanek, seem to have the opposite influence on their films. "One Hour Photo" and "Being John Malkovich" are scarcely conventional and are filled with amazing visuals, but they lack the vigor and energy that "Run Lola Run" effortlessly exudes. In short, the film is a mile-a-minute thrill ride, slowed only be its absence of John Rhys-Davies...wait...

Watch the Trailer

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Day Twenty: Repulsion (1965) - Rank 3.5/5


This film is considered to be the first in Roman Polanski's "Apartment Trilogy" (often referred to as his "Paranoia Trilogy" as well). "Rosemary's Baby" (the second) has always been a favorite of mine for a delightful slice of dark humor. "The Tenant" (the third and final installment) does have its share of humorous elements as well, but I find it more unsettling than funny. In fact, I consider "The Tenant" to be one of the most terrifying films ever made. As a result, I became very curious as to whether "Repulsion" would stand up to its followers or not. While it never lived up to the frightful elegance of "The Tenant" or "Rosemary's Baby," "Repulsion" did have its fair share of eerie moments leading to an unnerving ending.

Catherine Deneuve is Carol, a young manicurist whose allure to any sort of sexual relationship is overpowered by an irrational fear of sex or men (it's never explained why she experiences these sensations, but it's alluded to that she may have been abused as a child). When her sister leaves her alone in their apartment whilst she vacations in Italy, Carol shuts herself in and succumbs to her own paranoid delusion. Voices whisper to her at night (reminiscent of a scene from "The Haunting"), the walls crack open intermittently, groping hands reach out of the walls at her and night after night she is raped by mysterious assailants. Any who come to the door, be it would-be suitors or landlords, meet with cruel fates until her madness and paranoia strip her of any shred of sanity.

The film is a slow, eerie and effective descent into mental degradation. Shot in high contrast black and white, the look of the film has a nightmarish quality to it as well. In the end, I think Polanski's "Apartment Trilogy" could very well be compared with Park Chan-wook's "Vengeance Trilogy." The second film of each I consider to be the most outlandish, yet best known ("Oldboy" vs. "Rosemary's Baby"), the third I consider to be the best overall and most mature ("Lady Vengeance" vs. "The Tenant"). The first installment, then, sets the tone of the others and is an excellent film in its own right ("Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance" vs. "Repulsion") but when compared with the others in its trilogy, it pales in comparison.

Watch the Trailer

Day Nineteen: L.A. Confidential (1997) - Rank 5/5


The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences rarely adds new categories to their awards ceremony (the last one added seven years ago was Best Animated Feature). For some time, I've argued that casting directors should be eligible for a nomination (though I realize that "Best Ensemble Cast is a category for the SAG awards). "L.A. Confidential" is a prime example of my rationale. Everyone in the film is perfectly cast, from Kevin Spacey as the detective vying for the spotlight as much as he is for a lead in a case, Guy Pearce as the by-the-books rookie tot eh detective world, Kim Basinger as the femme fatale, Danny Devito as the weaseling tabloid editor...I could go on forever.

The film is centered around a slew of killings that take place at a filthy diner. The path of three detectives, each with a distinctive style (Pearce, Spacey and Russell Crowe as your average, roughhousing "bad cop" who gets the job done) become intertwined as they attempt to uncover what led to the slaying of several innocents and one former detective. Along the way, they have to wade through the sleaze of Hollywood and local government.

The film is definitely one of the smartest, modern film noirs to come out of Hollywood in recent decades with a fantastic script. There were times where it teetered on the edge of becoming too complex for it's own good (by dealing with a multitude of issues ranging from racism to internal corruption), but it manages to avoid such disaster. Everything from the costumes to the sets are spot on for the era. This film was the finish to our "Film Noir-a-thon" and quite the finish it was too, since it would certainly be difficult to top.

Watch the Trailer

Day Eighteen: Angel Heart (1987) - Rank 4/5


A little bit "Jacob's Ladder," a little bit "Serpent and the Rainbow" (though, interestingly enough, it came before both, so perhaps serving as inspiration for each), "Angel Heart" is a dark and enigmatic piece of neo film noir. This, I believe, was Adam's selection for our third "Film Noir-a-thon," and it certainly put a damper on the proceedings after the wine-induced, apoplectic laughing fits that accompanied "Dementia" (consult that entry here for a brief explanation). It kept us calmed until Lisa Bonet came on the scene. But that's a different story...

A young Mickey Rourke (detective Harry Angel), looking very much like a normal human being, is hired by a sinister businessman named Louis Cyphre (played by a not-so-normal looking Robert DeNiro - say his name fast enough and you'll guess his "mystery identity" which most viewers have pegged after five minutes). Angel's task is to find a man named Johnny Favourite who owes Cyphre a mysterious something. Angel's gig takes him down a shady road of voodoo, murder and nightmares to a very chilling climax. Lisa Bonet costars as a voodoo priestess in her career-killing role. Bill Cosby had a tougher time selling pudding pops to kiddies when one of his spokesgals looked like this:


Me? I'd buy them by the dozen. I could make vanilla vs. chocolate pudding pop jokes here, but I'm above inappropriate racial and sexual innuendo. Actually, no I'm not, but I am getting off task.

The reason that I compare the film to "Jacob's Ladder" and "Serpent and the Rainbow" is not because of great plot similarities (though there are a few likenesses). The main common factor in each is that they pit an average individual against a world that could very well exist that you or I know nothing about (nor care to acknowledge). In the process, the film builds a sense of dread that begins in the first five minutes after Angel's first meeting with Cyphre and it doesn't ease up until half an hour after completion. The choice of lighting and surreal imagery keeps the plot as unsettling as it does fresh, and I can't believe that studios green-lit such an ambitious mix of classic and modern genres. After looking at what the film grossed in theatres, I don't think the studios can believe it either. Admittedly, this is only the second film I've seen by writer/director Alan Parker (the first being Pink Floyd: The Wall). But based on what I've seen on those two films, he has a fantastic eye for visuals, and I definitely think I'll check out more selections from his repertoire.

Watch the Trailer

Day Seventeen: Manufactured Landscapes (2006) - Rank 3.5/5


If there's one thing I'll say about documentaries, it's that they tend to have great openings (the credits sequence to "Mr. Death: The Rise and Fall of Fred A. Leuchter Jr." still stands as one of my favorite credit sequences of all time). I suppose if you're endeavoring to grab the attention of the average American, you have to have a great open, because God only knows they shirk away from information about the world around them if at all possible. Especially when it comes to movies, where escapism is the goal rather than reality. Still, the eight minute long take that "Manufactured Landscapes" starts off with is a marvel to behold. The camera begins on the floor of a Chinese factory and by the time the shot has ended, there seems to be no end in sight to the sprawling industrial interior.

This sets the tone of the film, a look at the work of Edward Burtynsky, a Canadian photographer who specializes in these man-made spectacles, from mountainsides stripped of their allure by mining outfits to pastures buried under layer upon layer of tires or scrap metal. Yet, he manages to capture the beauty seen in the symmetry and repetition created by the remains left behind by man rather than ugliness, creating a surreal social commentary on industrialization. We've gone beyond controlling the environments in which we exist (i.e. air-conditioning, electricity, etc.), we're now reshaping our entire planet's horizons to suit our needs. A third of the film is series of photos Burtynsky's taken of these horizons beautifully complemented with ambient music. It's interesting to see how one man can made a landfill seem gorgeous.

The film follows him as he embarks on another journey to China for another photo shoot. Along the way, the industrialization of China becomes a major theme of the film. To me, this is where the film loses focus. It fluctuates between Burtynsky's work and the progression of China to an industrial country from a once agricultural stature. I feel if a documentary chooses a subject, it should see that topic all the way through. It's as if director Jennifer Baichwal realized that there wasn't enough material on Burtynsky to keep audiences engaged or she simply found a second interest while making her film. That unevenness leaves you wondering what the theme of message may have been for the film. Still, there are enough breathtaking visuals to make it worth the scant eighty minutes it lasts.

Watch the Trailer

Day Sixteen: Twin Peaks: Season One (1990) - Rank 5/5


There's no way around it: once you see the pilot episode, you're hooked for the series. Or at least until the killer of Laura Palmer is discovered. You have to hand it to Lynch - he has a knack for creating surreal worlds filled with eccentric (and sometimes frightening characters). His films can scarcely be said to be friendly to the general public. That's why I was utterly intrigued at how he managed to not only create a television show that was airable, but one that lasted two seasons without eradicating Lynch's own peculiar brand of storytelling.

Needless to say he does so successfully. Twin Peaks feels like a fully explored extension of Kyle MacLachlan's "average American hometown" in "Blue Velvet." Just as is the case in "Blue Velvet," a single murder opens a Pandora's box of seedy characters and shady relationships. By the end of the first season, no one is who he or she seemed at the start of the series. And, amazingly, Lynch's own sense of direction and dialog are present in each episode, even if he was not at the helm of them directly (though he did direct the majority of the season one episodes).

There's a bevy of fun character's that shine in the series, but those that leave prominent impressions would have to be the scheming Catherine Martel, played with sinister glee by Piper Laurie, the ever bumbling, Lynch regular Jack Nance as her husband, Ben Horne, a modern day Mr. Potter, executed with tongue-in-cheek revelry by Richard Beymer (the entire scene of dialog between him and his brother in episode two about a butter baguette sandwich is priceless). The one who steals the show with his manic-depressive acting is Ray Wise as Laura's grieving father. Every time he tries to pick up his life after his daughter's death, he ends up dancing with Laura's framed picture and crying. It's the dark sense of humor only Lynch can pull off - the type of character where you don't know whether you should be laughing at them or terrified.

I've heard ample warnings that the second season scarcely lives up to the presence the first creates. However, after being introduced to a variety of fascinating characters and being left with one of the greatest cliffhanger episodes I've ever seen, there's no question in my mind - I must see the rest.

Watch a Commercial

And yes, while not a film, I certainly think an entire season of a television show merits mention, especially since it requires more dedication that a single two-hour film does.

Day Fifteen: Akira Kurosawa's Dreams (1990) - Rank 4/5


The goal of most films, I believe, it to convey a story. There are very few which escape this mold, but I believe that "Dreams" is one of them. One might argue that each dream in the film (there are eight "dreams" which are short, twelve-minute vignettes) has a plot and each tells a unique story. However, I took viewing "Dreams" very much like I would listening to a friend recount his or her dream from the night before. It's about individual interpretation, and thankfully Kurosawa has a unique eye as a director to provide something beautiful to behold as well.

Some of the pieces within the film are gorgeous, yet their characters or brief tales fail to really strike home, such as Sunshine through the Rain (where a young boy goes against his mother's wishes and watches a fox's wedding) or Crows (a young art student is transported into a painting where he receives the sage advice of Vincent Van Gogh - an impressive cameo by Martin Scorsese). There are others with a great script, but they don't dazzle the eye as the others do, such as The Tunnel (a man is confronted by the ghosts of his dead platoon) and The Weeping Demon (a man finds himself in a post-apocalyptic world filled with oni demons and mutant dandelions).

There are two to me, though, that really stood out as being the best of both worlds and stayed with me long after the film's finish. "The Peach Orchard," which is centered around a young boy who is scolded for the actions of his family by a large group of living dolls. The spring is their time to revel in the falling blossoms of the peach trees and the boy's family razed their entire orchard. The dolls engage in a dance to resurrect one tree after the boys apology, and the sequence is outstandingly beautiful. The second was "Mount Fuji in Red." It was a terrifying nightmare about a nuclear holocaust that melts Mount Fuji, sends most of the people of Japan running over a cliff into the ocean, leaving only a few to die of radiation. I think this one stuck with me the most because of the scientist's strange analysis of how they were going to die based upon the color smoke they were breathing. The dialog he spouts out had the same disjointed logic much of my dreams do.

Knowing that each dream was an extension of Kurosawa's own visions gives the movie further depth, for you can notice trends in how the director might have viewed the world as he grew older, from his loves to his insecurities. You get the sense then that you're watching something very personal, adding to your appreciation. As a whole, "Dreams" is very much an "art film," in the sense that it is beautiful to behold and open to interpretation. While that quality is something that frustrates so many American viewers, I think it's a discipline far to rare today.

Watch the Trailer (or a reasonable facsimile)

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Day Fourteen: The Adventures of Baron Munchausen (1988) - Rank 4.5/5


I love John Neville. Long before I was familiar with this film, I was a fan of his roles in film, such as Spider and The Fifth Element, as well as television (known well among sci-fi fans as The Well-Manicured Man in the X-Files series, though a whimsical cameo as Sir Issac Newton across the poker table from Data in the episode AAAAAGHHH Must suppress inner nerd. Will be difficult. Eric Idle is also in film. Ample opportunities for Monty Python references. Wait, Robin Williams! Okay, I'm good. Nothing much funny there...

Anyway, this film was made for the veteran actor. Neville shines as the eccentric Baron Munchausen, intrepid explorer, ladies man and purveyor of tall tales...or are they? The film could be perceived as nothing more than the imagination of a child as she's told a story (much like "The Fall," but far more realized). Then again, Baron Munchausen could really be a character capable of fantastic feats, shunned by a society that demands that everything be grounded in logic. To me, that was the aspect that impressed me the most about the film. It was a clever, social commentary on how we struggle to "create reality" that is anything but, in order for things to be more "logical." The film could easily have been about the wild misadventures of Baron Munchausen to the moon, Hades and beyond, but it raised the bar for itself and its audience, elevating it beyond the status of a good story to that of a fantastic one.

Writer/Director Terry Gilliam seldom disappoints when he has the freedom to finish a film as he deems fit. He creates elaborate, bizarre and beautiful worlds with characters to match and fills his scripts with great wit and social satire. I think he's one of the great, underrated auteurs of the past few decades. "The Adventures of Baron Munchausen" serves as a reminder of this to me. While "Brazil" remains my long-time favorite production of his, I believe this is a close second. My simple reason being that it instills a belief within you after watching it that there is still some magic and fantasy left in the world. Sounds corny, I know, but accurate all the same.

Watch the Trailer

Oh, and on a minor note: if the underworld is really ruled by Oliver Reed and Uma Thurman, then I say: Let the sinning begin!

Day Thirteen: Slumdog Millionaire (2008) - Rank 4/5


For weeks, the buzz about Hollywood is that "Slumdog Millionaire" is a shoo-in for the title of "Best Picture." It's swept the Globes, SAG, the Director's Guild, etc. While I found it to be a great film, and certainly a fresh picture from the film industry, I just don't see it as monumental or ground-breaking enough to be worthy of the title (but then again, how many films really are? Two years ago, best picture and director went to a remake of a Chinese film).

I think my friend Allen said it best (in reference to the hype) after he and his wife Trish caught the film: "It's boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl. What else can I say?" He was right. At it's very core, "Slumdog Millionaire" is a tried and true story that's woven its way through the rich tapestry of cinematic history dozens of times over. Yet people are coming to see it in droves (the last time I recall a film selling out on a weekly basis was when we played "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" *shudder*). To figure out what they see in the film, the more important patrons to pay attention to are the ones that walk out within thirty minutes. What they despise is what I really liked about the film, and what I believe sets the tale above so many of its kind.

Danny Boyle shows you a multitude of different aspects of humanity that you do not want to see. Brutal genocide, disfigurement of children for profit, teenage girls sold into prostitution...all despicable aspects of humanity that the lead, Jamal, must overcome to be with his "true love." Most stories in this genre pit the male against class differences or whimsically eccentric parents to get the girl. The obstacles that Jamal must overcome make you root for him to stay alive and unharmed, much less "get the girl." When the film finally does end, you feel genuinely uplifted, because any positive outcome seems triumphant when compared with the path it took to get there. In that sense, the feelings that "Slumdog Millionaire" generated in me are analogous to those I felt after watching "Maria, Full of Grace." The realm she emerged from is so stark and depraved that her breaking free seems that much sweeter. I suppose "Requiem For a Dream" could be another example...if anyone came out on top...which Jennifer Connelly sorta more ways that one. WOAH! Double entendre!

Anyway, in the end, even if you're curmudgeony enough to not be moved at all, you do have to appreciate the versatility that Danny Boyle has shown over his career. Each film of his touches on a different genre and has a unique feel to it. The kinetic, melee camerawork aids in capturing the hectic and fast-paced nature of the script. I honestly believe that this film is his best, though it is not my favorite (that honor would go to "Sunshine" - in my opinion, one of the best science fiction films of the past decade). I will say this: see the film, but don't go in to watch a "Best Picture of the Year." View is as a great love story. I think the hype and accolades can easily distract one from enjoying the quiet, simple and moving pleasures the film has to offer.

Watch the Trailer

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Day Twelve: The Fall (2008) - Rank 3.5/5


I picked this film up at the behest of my friend Pat, who insisted that it was the greatest film of 2008. I raised an eyebrow skeptically at such a heartfelt assertion, but nevertheless I was intrigued. The film is certainly impressive and an engaging watch, but I don't know if I could regard it as superior to every movie released over the past year. Perhaps the claim caused me to unintentionally set my expectations too high...

The film is set in a hospital at the dawn of the film era, centered around an injured stunt man, Roy, and a gullible child, Alexandria. Roy spins a fantastic tale about six men out for revenge against the one evil tyrant that wronged them all, and we see the yarn come to life as Alexandria might envision it. The child actress (Cantinca Untaru) seems like a natural for the role, though I'm sure a great deal of her performance was benefited by director Tarsem Singh creating such a practical and fantastic world around her.

The film excels in the categories of art design and cinematography. You can tell that Singh is a director in the vein of Guillermo Del Toro or Yimou Zhang, relying heavily on practical effects and gorgeous visuals to enhance a story. It makes snapping out of the realm of the fantastic all the more bittersweet as Roy presses Alexandria to procure morphine for him in exchange for continuing the tale. Possibly the most breathtaking sequence in the whole film is the opening. The viewer is treated to surreal imagery of a horse being hoisted out of a river to a rail bridge, accompanied by a moving score. Only later do you realize that it's the fall that led to Roy's hospitalization and paralysis.

The overall theme of the film is a loss of innocence, beautifully executed within the real world at the bedside of two invalids and at the hands of a courageous crew in the world of fiction. The film's major flaw is an uneven ending, where the pacing slows drastically, and climax after climax diminishes tension rather than building it. While it isn't enough to ruin the pleasure of watching the film, it keeps it from reaching the heights of perfection that it strives to achieve.

Watch the Trailer

Day Eleven: Perfume: The Story of a Murderer (2006) - Rank 4.5/5


This was a film that was dogged by the critics upon its release, giving it a brief life in Louisville. As a result I missed it in theatres despite it looking fantastic in previews. Adam, Christine and Bennett kept pressing me to see it, claiming it was my new, favorite movie and I didn't know it yet, until it was gifted to me at Christmas, accompanied by a: "Now, watch it!" I can rest easily now, knowing that my friends are accurately conscious of my movie tastes.

"Perfume" is a delightfully dark tale of a street urchin with the most gifted nose in the world. He embarks upon a quest to create the finest perfume in the world - one so powerful that it would bring kings reflexively to their knees. To create it, he begins methodically killing young girls in an effort to preserve their scents for his perfume. Tom Twyker sets the film in eighteenth century France in all its grimy glory, from the mud-spattered tarts of Paris to the slimy, fish-market floor onto which the main character, Jean-Baptiste Grenouille, is born. Dustin Hoffman had a fun role as a pathetic, has-been perfumer who takes Jean-Baptiste (played well by Ben Whitshaw) under his wing. Alan Rickman makes a fine antagonist (as he does in most of his films) who does everything he can to protect his daughter, Laura (newcomer Rachel Hurd-Wood), from the maniacal Jean-Baptiste.

The film has ample dark humor, and the scenes of Jean-Baptiste tracking Laura across the countryside simply by sniffing the air are both eerie and mesmerizing (I'm a sucker for any film that gets you to root for the murderer). I'm not sure why critics didn't like this film, because I found it one of the fresher scripts/films I've seen out of Hollywood for a while. I think many were turned off by how carried away the film got near the end. It finishes in a climax (double entendre intended here) that is reminiscent of some of the wilder moments in Ken Russell films (see my review of "The Devils"). Some may find it excessive, but I thought it was a perfect end to a film that was quite "over-the-top" for most of its duration.

Oh, and incidentally, I want John Hurt to narrate my life, too.

Watch the Trailer

Day Ten: The Crow (1994) - Rank 3.5/5


Every now and again, I'll book a midnight I've never seen simply because I've been inundated by requests for it. "The Crow" is such a film. While the film has gained some pop culture notoriety for its frequent association with the "goth/emo crowd" (however one would define such a vague colloquialism), this is not what had deterred me from catching the film (it is what has kept me wisely avoiding "My Chemical Romance"). To be quite honest, I have no idea why I never caught the film prior to now, because it has a lot of factors going for it that attract me: it was directed by Alex Proyas (the genius behind "Dark City"), had a script co-written by David Schow (the author of "The Official Outer Limits Companion" - a book that was like a bible to me as a youth) and featured a bevy of character actors.

Needless to say I found it guilty fun. I perceived one of the weaker links of the film to be Brandon Lee's performance. His deliveries just seemed too stilted rather than brooding. It may just be me though. But he was still early in his career yet, and I'm sure future roles...oh...that's right... Anyway, this marks the second villainous role I've seen Michael Wincott in this month ("Strange Days" being the first). He has a rather large repertoire of nasty roles (Narc, Along Came a Spider, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, etc). I suppose if one is afflicted with such a graveled voice in Hollywood, it's tough to break from bad guy typecast. He would make a fitting henchman in the long dreamed about film project Bennett, Adam and I dreamed up entitled: "Gravel."

The premise: Nick Nolte and Gary Busey are both detectives for the NYPD. Commanded by their chief, played by Robert Loggia, they're sent to take down the biggest mob boss in the city, known only as "The Poof" (Harvey Fierstein). Michael Madsen (and now Michael Wincott) could be his lackeys. Mix in a dash of Jeremy Irons and you're set. The only problem is a female lead that is gravel-voiced and attractive. Elaine Stritch? Kirstie Alley? The reanimated corpse of Lucille Ball? Eh...I'm sure it will come to me. Oh, and in the quirky, tag-along, comic relief role (a la Joe Pesci in the Lethal Weapon films...but tolerable) we have another star from "The Crow"...


Yes, it's Jon Polito. Everyone's favorite, flamboyant, Hispanic curmudgeon. I didn't even know he was in the film until he appeared on screen, to which I quietly whispered, "Yes." The last time I made such an utterance, I caused my friends Adam and Christine to nearly burst into laughter at the beginning of "Blade Runner: Final Cut." The reflexive "yes" sneaked out when M. Emmet Walsh's name rolled up on the screen (can you blame me?). I shudder to think how poorly their giggling would have been viewed, for the audience was maintaining a reverent silence as the film began.

And somehow...I've gotten off track. Ernie Hudson was awesome too! And Bai Ling is hot as shit! Done!

Watch the Trailer

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Day Nine: The Devils (1971) - Rank 4.5/5


Every so often, I watch a film that requires me to snap my head back and utter, "Woah!" as the credits begin to roll. To say that "The Devils" is a film that leaves you nonplussed is certainly an understatement, for I found it nothing short of astonishing. Oliver Reed, in possibly the best performance I've seen from him, plays a rakish priest by the name of Father Grandier. Set in 17th century France, at a time where Cardinal Richelieu (I love how one cardinal has such a villainous presence in fictitious, as well as actual, history) is swaying King Louis XIV to tear down the fortifications of isolated cities to unify the country. Grandier, as protector of Loudun, prevents the destruction of the city's walls and leaves to appeal to the king's senses. In his absence, a scorned priest and a shady exorcist move in and take advantage of Sister Jeanne (a hunchbacked nun who long obsessed over the suave Grandier and became embittered when he married), suggesting to her that she may be possessed and Grandier may be the individual behind her possession. The role is played with haunting precision by Vanessa Redgrave

A domino effect ensues and soon the entire convent of nuns believe they too have been possessed, feeding off of one another's love-starved madness. This was the point that the film very much became a true Ken Russell production. Moments of excess seem to be Russell's trademark, from the groping and fingering of Tchaikovsky's crazed wife in "The Music Lovers" (or the scene on the train during their honeymoon...terrifying) to Ann-Margaret's writhing in a pool of baked beans and melted chocolate in "Tommy," culminating with her humping a large, phallic pillow. The moment of excess found in "The Devils" is a scene referred to as the rape of Christ - a scene originally cut by the censors and long believed to have been destroyed. It was located, restored and inserted into the film. The scene sounds very much like what it is - an orgy of mad nuns with a large Jesus figure attached to a fallen crucifix. The current versions of the DVD lack this footage, which I find peculiar since an earlier release included it. My friend Dave got me a copy and kept lauding the version for the inclusion of the "Rape of Christ." I just found his repeating such a phrase hilarious.

While it may sound as if this scene or much of the rest of the movie was made for the sake of sensationalism, it certainly isn't the case. Those wild scenes are juxtaposed with Grandier in the wilderness, carrying out a personal mass. It's as if he's redeeming himself in the eyes of the Lord for his earlier transgressions while the rest sink into a cesspool of depravity as they betray their town. And the fact that the entire film stems from alleged actual events in France at this time of national turmoil gives the story greater depth. A decidedly dark film that leaves a heavy impression long after completion. I'd rank it as one of Ken Russell's best.

Watch the Trailer

Day Eight: Joe Versus the Volcano (1990) - Rank 3.5/5


This was a film long recommended by my friend Bennett and long shunned by me. Well, I suppose shunned is a harsh word. I suppose "disinterested" would be more accurate. I'd been prompted to watch it on more than one occasion, but I resisted because I have such a love/hate relationship with Tom Hanks' comedic roles. The first time or two I watch his earlier films, I find them hilarious (Big, Splash, The Money Pit), but they lose their entertainment value for me upon repeat viewings (unlike many other comedies - Dr. Strangelove, The Producers (1968) or The Pink Panther Strikes Again). I think a large part of the problem is he tends to play the same, basic character in each one of his films - a poor schmuck, a down-on-his-luck but likable everyday Joe. Thankfully, this film takes that basic role and pushes it as far as it can by making Tom Hanks the most entertainingly depressed hypochondriac he can be.

The entire opening sequence is fabulous as Joe approaches an Orwellian workplace in a zombielike manner matched by hundreds of coworkers. Dan Hedaya delightfully chews the scenery to shreds as his neurotic boss and Lloyd Bridges devours what's left when he hits the scene (his role is that of a billionaire offering Tom Hanks the opportunity to unlimited cash in exchange for jumping into a volcano - you see, Joe was diagnosed with a terminal disease and...well, I think you already get the picture. He's given the chance to live like a king before dying like a man, so to speak). I was even surprised that I found Meg Ryan so tolerable considering she played three roles in the film (the first of which was practically unrecognizable).

The film itself has some great humor. I recall laughing uncontrollably at everything that took place at Joe's work. However, that could also stem from a desire for my boss to be Dan Hedaya. Oh...that would solve everything...

...but I digress. The script by director John Patrick Shanley (the same writer/director of "Doubt" if you can believe it) offers ample laughs along the way, though they tapered off noticeably as it came time for Joe to carry out his destiny. Still, all in all I found it a charming film. I can't say if I could get multiple viewings out of it, but I certainly have a desire to see it at least once more.

Watch the Trailer

Monday, February 16, 2009

Day Seven: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008) - Rank 4.5/5


A three-hour movie based upon a short story by F. Scott Fitzgerald? Is that possible? It's David Fincher. Looking back on the director's career, I honestly can't say I've disliked any film he's helmed. Se7en, Zodiac and Fight Club are all masterful films, though they never earned Fincher the recognition he deserves. At least with Benjamin Button, he's now got a Best Director nomination under his belt, though I doubt he's win - I'm banking on Stephen Daldry for that. Don't let that dissuade you from seeing the film. By far, it's one of the most gorgeous films I've seen all year. The art direction and cinematography are simply fantastic. It's daunting enough to tackle a period piece for any era, but to direct a film that ascends from the 1930's to present day with multiple stops along the way, and to do so flawlessly, is nothing short of miraculous.

Brad Pitt does an excellent job as the titular character, adding humor to the quiet sadness that comes with his bizarre affliction (if you genuinely are unfamiliar with the premise, Button it a character that ages backwards as time progresses). I love the portion of the film that centers around his early years, growing up in a retirement home under the guise that he's just another resident. The makeup on Pitt is outstanding (I suspect it will earn the Best Makeup Oscar) as is the job done on Cate Blanchett (Blanchett certainly deserved a nomination for this role - I found her performance to that of Pitt's and he did cinch a nom). The film starts off with Blanchett's character, Daisy, on her deathbed as Hurricane Katrina approaches New Orleans. The movie is presented in "Princess Bride-O-Vision" as her daughter reads Button's journal, treating the audience with lucid flashbacks. This also allows for multiple stops in the storyline to flash back to the future - a trick I found a little distracting.

Nevertheless, this method of storytelling doesn't detract from the bizarrely beautiful love story between Daisy and Benjamin over the course of several decades. The climax is nothing short of "gut-wrenching" (I recall mentioning to Bennett who'd joined me for this viewing that while I find that phrase overused by the media, there was no other term I could describe the way I was physically moved by the film's storyline and tone). While the film could have been trimmed here and there to reduce length (Button's affair with a British married woman in Russia went on a bit long), never does it actually feel near three hours in length. Truly a sign of excellent filmmaking.

Watch the Trailer

Day Six: White Dog (1982) - Rank 4/5


Frequently cruel and, at times, difficult to watch, but overall a fantastic "lost" piece of cinema from the early eighties by Samuel Fuller. Kristy McNichol plays Julie, a model who accidentally hits a large, white German Shepherd with her car and ultimately ends up adopted the animal after its recovery. The title of the film does not indicate the dog's color - it's indicative of its behavior. The term "white dog" refers to a dog trained to attack and kill anyone with dark colored skin. She learns this after her dog maims one of her best friends, a black model. Her quest to cure her dog leads her to an animal trainer names Keys (Paul Winfield), who happens to also be black, making this the toughest task of his career.

Winfield easily steals the movie. He plays Keys with a determination, confidence and subtle swagger analogous to Robert Shaw's Quint from "Jaws" (only in this situation, Winfield is trying to save an animal rather than hunt it). His performance is worthy of an Oscar nomination (not necessarily a win). Burl Ives is equally as enjoyable as Keys eccentric, snake-handling boss. As for McNichol, her performance neither added or took away from the role - it just seemed very "by the numbers."

The movie is just a good, underrated film. There are a few logic flaws that keep it from excelling to the rank of a "great film." For example, White Dog escapes at one point and kills a black man in a church. Keys learns this, captures the dog and brings it back for training. What about the police, you say? It's never really addressed. Still, many accuse the film of being exploitative, but I find that a little harsh. I thought it was a fabulous commentary on the culture we exist in. We try to forget that such fierce racism exists, but we cannot. Fuller's film begs the question: "can we ever truly be rid of our racist ways?" He uses the dog as a representation for our society and dependent on your interpretation of the film's resolution, you may be left wondering if racism will always be an integral part of our subconscious (an eerie take on the classic "Nature vs. Nurture" debate). Well worth a watch.

Watch the Trailer

Day Five: Dementia (1953) - Rank 5/5


For those who are familiar with my movie tastes, they know I'm a huge fan of two genres: film noir and dialog-free films (Koyaanisqatsi, Baraka, Microcosmos, etc.). It shouldn't come as a surprise then that a film noir free of any dialog at all would be right up my alley. The film is quite simply a nightmare. It was allegedly based on a dream that the director, John Parker, was told by his secretary. The imagery in the film is certainly nightmarish, from cackling corpses and faceless spectators, to paper peddling dwarfs and hallucinatory guilt trips. The lighting is as atmospherically gorgeous as one can get. It can almost be considered "uber-noir." And while the idea of a dialog-free crime film might seem more of a novelty than anything else, the storyline is completely engrossing. Alfred Hitchcock once said (and forgive my paraphrasing - I can't locate the exact quote I previously read) that once of the key traits of a really good film is that the audience can follow a film without dialog. He expected that level of expression from his actors when he made the transition from silent films. I believe "Dementia" is a perfect example of that assertion.

Watch the Trailer (it was released as Daughter of Horror in 1957 when the censors finally released their grip on it. Thankfully Kino Video remastered the original version).

However, I regret to say that after a recent "Film Noir-a-thon" (a biannual, all night festival my friends and I hold where each attendee brings a film selection and a bottle of scotch that complements the film - I brought this film with the ever hallucinatory Chevas Regal 18 year) I cannot look at this film the same. The occasional quip was inserted here and there into the film by us, and shortly after I cracked, "Bring me some Pringles!" as the fat, rich man motioned for the waiter, Adam added: "And pick out all the broken one and crumblies. I hate the crumblies." After that, an impromptu and unofficial battle ensued between Adam, Bennett and myself to see who could generate the longest, slovenly monologue about chips in the voice we'd created for the fat man. We were near hysteria by the time the rich man's butler brings him a heaping tray of chicken wings. That moment pushed us over the edge and we came close to death from suffocation, for we were laughing far more heartily than we could inhale. By the time we calmed ourselves and wiped our eyes, the film was over. Not quite, but you get the picture. Why, even the fat, rich man had fun:


"Oh, I love Fritos, but only the regular Fritos. Not the special barbecue Fritos you get at the gas station. The know, the spirals. You bite then and they cut the roof of your mouth and then you get Frito dust in the cut and it hurts, but you can't help yourself, so you keep eating more spirals. And you get like three whole spirals in each bag. A third of the bag is air and the rest is filled with Fritos bits and dust..."

Day Four: Doubt (2008) - Rank 4.5/5

If there's one thing I love about a great drama, it's when it features an engaging and uncompromising battle of wits between two powerful leads. That collision of the minds is the very heart of "Doubt." It's a film certain to secure another Best Actress Oscar for Meryl Streep, no doubt about it. Streep plays a fierce, traditional nun and principal of a Catholic elementary school and she does it with passion unequalled by many performances this year. As she exacted discipline on the students, it reminded me of my youth at St. Thomas More. While the majority of my teachers were not nuns (we did have a nun principal who also taught Spanish...Ah, Sister Rose Riley, where are you now?........a quick Google search revealed that she left the US to engage in mission work in Lebanon), the sense of discipline in the film mirrored that which was expected of me. Such discipline is what the parish priest, Father Flynn(a worthy performance by Philip Seymour Hoffman for bookending Meryl Streep), feels is alienating their school from the real world. The film then goes beyond the simple premise of: "Did Father Flynn molest an alter boy or not?" that many individuals perceive to be the film's core. The movie is about the difficult decisions that one has to make in life (primarily from the point of view of Streep's Sister Aloysius). Is a more community-friendly church what's best for the parish or not? Is it possible that such a relationship between the priest and a child is acceptable (as the boy's mother believes)? Is removing Father Flynn without proof the right thing to do? Is a relentlessly strict principal what the children really need? All these are dilemmas which Sister Aloysius must deal with and should any doubt arise after the matters are settled, then she must address a new question: How will she live with that uncertainty?" A must-see for the Oscar season.

Watch the Trailer

Incidentally, I enjoyed seeing Alice Drummond in a film again. For those unfamiliar with the name, she's probably best known for playing the librarian at the beginning of "Ghostbusters." She has a minor, though endearing role as a near-blind sister that Sister Aloysius tends to (showing that under her fierce exterior, there is kindness - a subtle, but important element to Streep's character).


Sunday, February 15, 2009

Day Three: Let the Right One In (2008) - Rank 4/5


The premise of "Let the Right One in" can be summed up simply: it's the story that "Twilight" tried to be, but failed. Granted, that might be a cruel generalization towards "Twilight" having not seen it in its entirety. But the comparison between the two inevitably comes up between others and myself when discussing the films because they have great similarities. Both start off with a new individual moving to town , both feature two adolescent leads and both feature the human lead being saved by the vampire, thus sparking off a relationship. However, it is the realm beyond this series of similarities where "Let the Right One In" excels. *(see below)

The story is centered around a twelve-year old, shrimpy kid named Oskar, who is perpetually bullied by a group of students at school. He finds friendship in his conversations with a girl named Eli who moves into his tenement building. The two bond, because they are essentially alone in the world; Oskar living with a disinterested mother and Eli completely alone after her caretaker is arrested (and subsequently gives his life for Eli). She helps give Oskar the courage to fight back against the bullies and Oskar aids in protecting Eli from potential attacks by those who know what she is.

In short, the film is about finding friendship through a common bond: loneliness. In that sense, the tone of the film reminded me of Sophia Coppola's "Lost in Translation." Both films also have mild sexual undertones, but never do the leads become romantically entangled. It's a brand of maturity in writing rarely seen today.

I caught "Let The Right One In" directly after "Peur(s) du Noir." The two made a great double feature on a cold, wintry night. While "Peur(s) du Noir" was a tough act to follow, "Let the Right One In" did not disappoint (though it didn't top "Peur(s) du Noir" either).

Watch the Trailer

* (And did I see "Twilight?" No. In that regard, I suppose talking down about it is unwarranted. However, I saw a large portion of it while it was at Baxter and the basic gist I got of the plot was this:

Girl: "Hey, I think you're cute."

Boy Vampire: "But I'm a vampire, babe."

Girl: "I still think you're cute."

Boy Vampire: "Then run away with me!"

The End.

When I present this generalized idea of the story's dialog to hardcore "Twilight" fans, even they shrug, smile and say, "That's, sadly, pretty accurate." So don't judge me too harshly.)

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Day Two: Peur(s) du noir (2007) - Rank 5/5


It's rare for a film to fill me with the desire to watch it again immediately after finishing it. I'd say once every six months a film does this to me. Danny Boyle's "Sunshine," "The Dark Knight" and "There Will Be Blood" are a few recent films that fell into this category. "Peur(s) du Noir" aka "Fear(s) of the Dark" fit the bill not only for its enthralling tales, but also for the gorgeous artistry displayed on screen. The film is a five piece anthology of eerie tales, each written and animated in varying, black-and-white styles by prominent French, graphic artists. The best of the tales is the final one - a dialog-free piece about a man who finds sanctuary in an abandoned home during a blizzard, only to come to the slow realization that he may not be alone after all. Out of all the pieces, it really takes advantage of the black-and-white medium the best to restrict what the audience can see, building a fantastic sense of dread.


Another strong piece was the fourth in the series - a story about a man looking back on his childhood to a time where his village was haunted by a man-killing beast. It may have been a giant crocodile or it may have been his best friend... Every cell was done in charcoal making it a beauty to behold. Even the most terrifying scenes in the film boast artwork and style rarely seen in animated films today. The eerie visage of a nobleman who terrified the country with his rabid dogs is made more unsettling by the crude sketch design.


The play of light and shadow enhances the surreal sex scene between a college student and his possessed girlfriend (in possibly the most unnerving scene in the film, she's seen to morph and become more masculine as she forces herself onto the protagonist).


Clearly the artists involved with the film are masters at their trade. They've compiled a wonderful anthology of short films that chill while dazzling the eye. It saddens me that the film didn't receive greater recognition (i.e. an Academy Award nom. for Best Animated Feature).

Watch the Trailer

Day One: Strange Days (1995), Rank: 4/5


I felt it was only fitting to watch one of the few films centered around New Year's Eve to start my mission off. Set in a dystopian 1999 (an alternate reality where the LA riots of the mid-nineties have continued to flourish), the film is centered around former L.A. cop turned dealer Lenny Nero (executed perfectly by Ralph Fiennes). Nero deals in "squid" clips - footage recorded from the cerebrum of other individuals that produce a high in the viewer. Think "Being John Malkovich," but instead of crawling into a portal in a New York skyscraper, you just strap a device to your head and pop in a disc. Lenny's your typical down-and-out loser at life, carrying on as a meaningless dealer, until he receives a disc of the brutal rape and killing of a woman. Next thing you know, he's knee-deep in a conspiracy plot that spreads throughout the LAPD. Much of the film plays like an adaptation of a Philip K. Dick novel, but incredibly James Cameron came up with the storyline. The most amazing aspect about the film's production were the cameras created for the "squid" clips. To get the POV shots she wanted, Kathryn Bigelow had her crew create a 35mm camera that could actually fit into the palm of your hand (I want one) that could easily be strapped to the heads of the actors. Equally as amazing was Juliette Lewis (she plays Lenny's former flame and night-club rocker) who did all of her own vocals, adding to a soundtrack that was just as dazzling as the fictitious New Year's Eve 1999 ceremonies. Definitely a fun kickoff.

Check the trailer

Day 0 - The Beginning

I've never been one for New Year's resolutions. It's not that I'm the epitome of perfection, it's just that I find them cloying or pointless most of the time. However, looking back at 2008 I realized that I had seen only 25 new films or less during the span of the year. I can cite a lot of reasons why - I work eighty hours a week, made two feature length films, spent a large part of my summer in AP training, etc. But the truth of the matter is I just didn't set enough time aside to enjoy to movies and as a movie theater manager, such a fact is unprofessional. As a movie lover, it's unfathomable.

So in 2009, I've vowed to amend my neglectful ways by watching one new film per day. When I say "new film" I don't mean a title recently released into theaters. I'm referring to any film I've never watched before, and despite being a moviehound, there are quite a few I've never seen (the art of cinema has been around for over 100 years, after all). I might miss a day and have to watch two the next, but in the end, I will have viewed 365 films I've never seen previously (or more).

The reason for the blog is simple: to help me keep track of what I watch. It's also intended as a source of recommendations for the friends I discuss films with. If others find my recommendations or reviews helpful, then that's an added (albeit incidental) bonus.

In the way of reviews, let me preface by saying that I'm not a huge fan of ratings. Too many people gauge whether they see a film or not based on the number of stars it receives in the local paper. They forget that ratings are subjective. I say: if you want to see it, see it! Don't let the opinions of others limit the films you see. That being said, my "rating system" is based more around whether I would recommend the film to a friend, rather than if it is "good." If you're not sure what that means, see my personal rating system below...

Rank 5 - Buy it or see it now! This is a rating I reserve only for those films I can compulsively watch again and again (or those I wish to watch once more immediately after finishing my first viewing). The type of film that instills me with a sense of awe that reminds me why I enjoy going to theatres. Rent it or see it next time you have the opportunity to do so. *NOTE* These are the types of films I believe define myself as a filmgoer (the realm of personal favorites, if you will).

Rank 4 - Highly Recommend. Typically two major divisions of film fall into this rank: excellent films with low replay value or mediocre films with high replay value (the guilty pleasures).

Rank 3 - Recommend - The movie might have its flaws, but it's still entertaining enough to be worth your while.

Rank 2 - Don't Recommend - Don't take a "Don't Recommend" rating as an "Avoid" rating. I see these as movies that are, on the whole, bad, yet they have a few redeeming qualities that help you see them through.

Rank 1 - Avoid Like The Plague - The type of movie you literally force yourself to see through. Those with a pace more sluggish than Sydney Greenstreet wading through wet cement or acting on par with that seen in collegiate productions of Shakespeare plays. I can make it to the end, but it hurts (I'm not one for walking out of films. I've only done that once in my life during The Bread, My Sweet. I believe that if you're going to dog a movie, you should see it in its entirety to legitimize your hate).

I believe that's it. Check back regularly for updates.

*sigh* I can't believe I actually started a blog...