Friday, 31 October 2008

HORROR WEEK is over.

Well its Halloween and thus my 7th and final post in horror week. It's been some good times, but it had to come to an end eventually right. Because for all the words I say so awesomely, Movies best speak for themselves and thus my intention is hopefully introduce you to a couple you hadn't seen and give you a new perspective on the ones you have already seen. So, in the tradition of Eli Roth's Hostel I'm going to half-ass the ending and just say go watch some horror movies.

HORROR WEEK: 7 non-horror characters that with a great leap of reailty-bending could be in a horror movie.

One of the beautiful/terrible things about horror movies is its limited stock of Archetypical characters that seem to be reincarnated into different form with every film. So, throwing logic, reason and any kind of sense out of the window. Here's some regular characters, not born form horror, who could happily make there home there. SPOILER WARNING

1) The Joker, The Dark Knight
The disfigured face, the iconic costume and being generally terrifying? Yep, the Joker is the ultimate slasher movie villain. Granted his intelligence and ability to speak set him apart from the crowd, but wouldn't it be so amazing.

2) Christopher McCandless, Into the Wild

You know the know it all indie kid, who thinks he's smarter then God and has worked out the meaning of life at 16. Whilst Penn's movie portrays him as a messiah, in reality thinking is divided between Messianic and idiot. Anyways, The character in the movie is so insufferable he would be one of those times you secretly want the bad guy to win.

3) Amelie, Amelie

Look at the way she deals with the rude market stall guy. Resourceful, pain-causing and just a little bit sadistic. Amelie would make a proper final girl. You actually would want her to kill the crazy guy in the mask.

4) Lux Lisbon, The Virgin Suicides

The kind of beautiful, unnattainable paridigm of purity that dies in a shroud of mystery. Sounds like an opening scene of a Horror movie to me. The one that sets the scene but has very little to do with the main character or story.

5) Donnie, The Big Lebowski

You know the anonymous other friend of the protagonist, who barely has a line and is either the second or third person to die. That's Donnie.

6) Sister Ruth, Black Narcissus

Horror movies have been cruel to the average crazy slut-bitch. They always seem to be the surrogate villain while the bad guy's in the background and always get a nasty demise. Black Narcissus' Sister Ruth would have fit this bill perfectly For she is perhaps one of the ultimate crazy slut-bitches.

7) John Keating, Dead Poets Society

The smug teacher who tries to get through to apathetic students and then dies as a nerdy writer inacts literary vengeance on all teachers who gave him a C. We all enjoy these scenes a little bit though. And when watching Dead Poets Society you so want that to happen to this bogus dude.

Thursday, 30 October 2008


Its time to incorporate two gimmicks into one by doing a Horror Week Audience splitter, and it seems to me that there is no be Candidate to be the focus of this revolutionary new bit then Eli Roth's Hostel, which seems to split critics and fans down the middle. Obviously. SPOILER ETC.


What's it about: Europeans strapping innocent Americans into chairs to torture them. This is why they never leave the States folks.

Who's it by: Blabber-mouth director/Frat boy Eli Roth, known across the world for talking. Sometimes about his films.

What's Good: Its a chilling central concept. The idea of Rich Business-men paying decadent amounts of money to kill someone without consequence is so plausible its scary. Supposedly, Roth came up with the idea after saying an advert with the same pitch on the internet. It has a couple of highly effective scares, and Roth's torture chamber is suitably atmospheric. Jan Vlasak, playing ' The Dutch Businessman' makes a memorable villain, and he under-plays well what could have been a purely functional villain and his killing of Derek Richardson's character Josh is a grisly but epic moment of proper horror.

What's bad: The final third. From When Jay Hernandez escapes from captivity onwards, this film is horrible. Total Amateur hour. From one contrived scene to the next, we see him just happen on every baddie involved in his capture. From the Femme Fatale he sees crossing the street to the Dutch Business-man at the train station It just lazily turns to impossible coincidence again and again to cover its loose ends. So if screen-writing isn't Roth's forte, neither is directing actors. Vlasak aside, the good guys are anonymous scalpal fodder and the bad guys generally two-dimensional guys. This concept of this film is potentially effective because of its grounding in reality. But the film is far too OTT to take best advantage of this.

Who likes it: The film did very well with the standard horror fan. In 2005 it signalled a more orginal direction in which horror movies good go. And this was very exciting for horror fans, who were tired of seeing rip-offs of Scream. It may have had something to do with the unstoppable Eli Roth hype-machine. Which before this movie's release went into overdrive. He sold it with such authority and enthusiasm that a lot of people were sure this was going to be a genre classic.

Who doesn't like it: It didnt go down too well with most critics. I remember seeing a lot of polite three star reviews, but practically no-one stuck out their head and said that this was a great movie in its own right. Similarly there isn't enough quality to suck in non diehards, for reasons mentioned above.

Where I stand: Sorry guys bu this is another thumbs down. The thing is badly written and beyond OTT in a bad way, so a couple of good scares does not compensate my time.

Where people stand: with only 55 on metacritic and 5.7 on imdb, the general concensus from both critic and user is a middle of the road judgement of averageness. I am agreed with.

Wednesday, 29 October 2008

HORROR WEEK RANT: As bad as they say?

We all know the drill. Horror films are deritive, exploitative and formulaic and have nothing of substance to offer beyond the disconcerting jolt or shock. They have as much right to be considered great cinema as porn does, as they both explore the same thing. Is this true? Well to a certain extent, as there's no denying that horror is there to appeal to our baser instincts. But isn't everything. If a film doesn't trigger at least one base emotional response then it seems that critics and audiences have very little use for it. If it doesn't make you laugh or cry or experience 'growth' then its a failure. It wouldn't matter if it was making excellent points about the nature of reailty or religion or some such intellectual endeavour, if there's no emotional connection then f*ck that sh*t. We celebrate when these more innocent emotions and feelings are manipulated by films. But when darker ones are brought to the fore, as in horror, we condemn it. I don't know if its the fact that we are unable to admit, for all its depravity, that violence is a form of entertainment that in cinema we undeniably enjoy. Whether its to do with the excess of the genre, that in many places deals with disgust as entertainment. Which at first thought seems silly, but frankly its only a couples of shades difference from embarrasment as entertainment. Something anyone who has ever watched the Office, or This is Spinal Tap will testify to being awesome.

So, if we can get over our natural leaning toward repression and view these films on fairer terms, are they still terrible As even the most nihilistic, scariest psychopath in the world will still think that Resident Evil: Apocalypse is shit, right. Yes. Yes he would. Because the problem with the genre is the sheer amount of crap that comes out of it. It produces as many masterpieces and great films as any other genre, but it produces a hell of a lot more crap. And people tend to identify it with this drivel rather then with its shinier moments. You think horror, you think straight to video slashers starring Clint Howard. You think Americanisations of The Ring or The Vanishing. One has to accept that the median level for horror films is low, but it seems a shame to judge a genre by the worst it has to offer, but this is what we seem to do. And we let this negative attitude seep into how we view the better examples.

To conclude the argument for saying horror has nothing to offer can be refuted along the same lines as the one that says movies now are much worse then they were 60 years ago. There are much more films being made now then there were then, which means more good and more bad. But we seem to focus on there being more bad films then there being more good ones. Ditto with horror movies.

Monday, 27 October 2008

HORROR WEEK: Best horror movies of the 00's

On the whole, this has been a weak decade for the horror film, with even the supposedly quality ones feeling quite generic. So besides the stuff I've forgotten, whats the shit thats' good? SPOILER WTF

1) Saw
For all its infinite sequels, Its easy to forget how clever and low key a horror this is. Lacking the clownish excess of the sequels, this plays as a devilish whodunit. The acting is passable if not great but you'll remember it for the sadistic traps and the ending that owns you.

2) Frailty
A rarely seen but utterly captivating little religious horror movie, and proof that Aliens' own private Hudson can actually act. Bill Paxton gives such a good performance it may catch those who doubt off-guard. A film worth seeking out.

3) The Descent
In above Dog Soldiers for the simple reason that while that film is a fun movie, This a Bona Fide classic horror movie. Neil Marshall took a step wayward with Doomsday, but on the evidence of this he should have many great genre films left in him.

4) 28 Days Later
Re-invigorated the zombie genre by giving it some immediacy. Its actually a carefully composited rip-off of I am Legend and Day of the Dead. But with Danny Boyle's memorable visuals and some good actors, always welcome in horror movies, It earns its keep.

5) Haute Tension
Its a shame it has such a horrible twist ending, because before that this rattles along with a great pace and impressive pure horror. Aja went on to be the go to guy for horror remakes on the base of this, so take from that what you will.

6) The Host
This is pretty much what every genre film should be. A Korean monster movie that dares to take itself seriously, whilst being hilarious. Delivers several memorable set-pieces as well as some solid characterisation of the family that seeks for the daughter, lost in the sewer system. You'll never guess what might be there also.

7) Slither
Another under-seen potential cult-classic that sees an Alien parasite take over a small town. Firefly's Nathan Fillion makes a suitably heroic lead but Gregg Henry's sleazy mayor is the highlight. Plus it's really funny.

8) REC
Some will say Cloverfield but that has nothing on the viral spin on the age old haunted house concept that is REC. It has subtitles, on account of it being Spanish. But it doesn't really matter what people say anyway in this movie. Its about quick, terrifying attacks and making you permanently tense for 90 minutes.

Sunday, 26 October 2008

HORROR WEEK: 5 Horror sequels that are actually good

One could make the entirely accurate point that few things are so consistently shit as horror sequels. Its an area of cinema I wouldn't inflict on anyone, but seeing the high numbers Saw V is taking this weekend I really wouldn't have to. But there are some diamonds in the rough and they'll be featured below. POTENTIAL SPOILERS ETC

1) Aliens

How many other horror movies do you know that boast a best actress Oscar Nomination. I'd like to think none, as to further strengthen my point. But this is a great, entertaining horror movie in its own right.

2) Evil Dead 2

This is one of the cult movies. Its popularity increases by the year, leaving critics bemoaning the state of the world. Simply put, it isn't Citizen Kane, but its very funny and there are it least 3 strokes of inventive genius here. The possessed hand, Bruce Campbell's fittingly OTT acting and the bonkers visual style which gets more laughs then anything else in this film

3) Dawn of the Dead/Day of the Dead
The former is one of the great horror movies, satirical and intelligent whilst not forgetting to be involving or exciting. The latter is inferior, but it has its moments and is not as average as its reputation suggests.

4) Bride of Frankenstein

The granddaddy of horror sequels, it has lost none of its intense creepiness. Ridiculous hairstyles aside, this is an improvement on the first movie and its survival for this long is not unearned.

5) Nightmare on Elm street 3: Dream warriors
I can picture the groaning and meh's upon seeing this make a showing here. But this movie is the best in this franchise by a long shot. I don't particularly care for the original, and can't even remember why I gave this a chance. But I'm glad I did. Incidently its written by Frank Darabont, of Shawshank redemption fame.

Saturday, 25 October 2008

HORROR WEEK: 10 Serial Killers that Scare the Bejesus

There's been more movie serial killers then any one-liner I can come up with can possibly convey. That many. So who's the pick of the crowded crop. Look Below. And yes I know there is no Hannibal Lecter. SPOILER ALERT

1) Patrick Bateman, American Psycho

Some performances just never leave you, and Bale's here is one. A complex, Chauvinist, Homophobic, arrogant monster. Bateman is essentially demonised masculinity at its worst. Saying American Psycho is a feminist statement may be a bit of a stretch, but the argument is there to be made.

2) John Doe, Se7en
With about 8 minutes of screen-time, Spacey creates what may well be the most chilling character ever committed to cinema. The genius move was to do religious mania so subtlely and thus creating one of the great multiple murderers cinema has to offer.

3) Norman Bates, Psycho

Not the oldest serial killer on the list, but pretty much the benchmark for all serial killers post 1960, which is an awful lot. Seeing the boy next door become the cross-dressing killer we all know and love is as scary now as it was then. There would be no Brian De Palma without this guy. Also Anthony Perkins is the bomb and deserved a better career.

4) Rev. Harry Powell, Night of the Hunter

One of the great unappreciated actors, Robert Mitchum excels in what to me is his finest role in this tremendously original and to this day frightening movie. A great movie for a great serial killer.

5) Charlie Meadows, Barton Fink
An unusual choice granted, but Meadows final scene is so astounding that he earns his place on this list. All those Roseanne fans will never look at John Goodman again in the same way, such is the ferocity and power of his performance here. Whilst most characters on this list do the feeble creep thing, Goodman goes the other way to memorable effect .

6) Billy Loomis and Stu Macher, Scream

Just for sheer insanity, these ultimately inept but nonetheless impactful killing duo make the cut. Ulrich's Billy is the better of the two, lending a maturity and chilling sheen to nicely counter-act Matthew Lillard's mugging nutjob.

7) The Scorpio Killer, Dirty Harry

If not the most despicable character you've ever seen, he's most definately up there. This movie isn't the best thing you'll ever see, but Andrew Robinson's nutter and Eastwood's iconicism give it its' longevity

8) Hans Beckert, M

Before Peter Lorre went into caricature, he was a frightening bastard. None more so then as the child molesting/murdering Killer Hans Beckert. A very thoughtful movie, with a lot of characters but Lorre's will be the only one to stay with you.

9) Henry, Portrait of a serial killer

Does exactly what it says on the tin. Michael Rooker's white trash killer's graphically violent exploits are stuff of home video legend. A better film then you think it will be though, helped greatly by Rooker's performance.

10) Mark Lewis, Peeping Tom

The film that destroyed Michael Powell. The puritanical British press didn't much appreciate the twisted nature of this film, but in time it has had its victory. The killer himself is often over-looked for the overall movie, but he creeps it up with the best of them.


Thats 5 reviews in two days. All for your viewing pleasure below.

REVIEW: High School Musical 3

I can confidently say that this movie got the most laughs of anything I've seen this year. Also it sucks major balls. This must be the tween girl's version of Red Dawn, a movie everyone enjoys despite its inherent shitness. First I must justify my reason for seeing this; I never like to pre-judge a movie and no matter how terrible a thing may look, I try to give its chance at least. I was not prepared, however for how truly awful it was going to be. It didn't even have the decency to be well choreographed, something I expected it to be. A musical with numerous dance numbers should at least have mad dancing skills right. Wrong. People shuffle about here and there with about as much grace as the great John Goodman; the singing is generically good, but no-one stands out. As for everything else, it is pretty much laughable, form the acting to the look to the story to the god-awful dialogue. My ears feel violated even now, a good 15 hours later. I should concede though, that the pre teen girls in the back row were standing up and dancing in the aisles, (how I wish I was making that up) So for its intended young audience it seems to be a hit, but parents be warned. There is nothing for you here. And for all you people who go to see this to ironically enjoy and laude over bad movie-making. F*ck you. You are responsible for all the worlds problems. Full stop. And that brings this review to a close, with me being able to award my first and hopefully last 1/10

Rating: 1/10

REVIEW: Incendiary

You'd expect a movie about a terrorist attack to be actually about, well terrorism. But not this movie, which is more concerned with a mother's troubles dealing with a lost child. This isn't a bad thing, and topical movies told from a human perspective are often the best but the strokes are a little to broad here. Before I rag on the movie in too much detail I'd like to give props to both the performance and accent of Michelle Williams. It does raise the film up a couple of levels. But the film itself is an onslaught of unearned emotional beats that batters you down with unsubtle, blunted sentiment. The writing could have been a bit smoother also, with the script highly unorganized and scatty. The visuals are accomplished, which is nice to see in a British film, but there are a few too many misted flashback memories of the deceased child, something that actually hurts your connection with this film, because if its immense level of patronisation. Director Sharon Maguire doesn't credit the audience with enough intelligence and that is this film's downfall. Less is more, particularly in this case. There's also a shoehorned in subplot regarding cowardly police-man Matthew MacFadyen, which just isn't given enough space, MacFadyen is good but his character is uneven to say the least. Ewan MacGregor does a less interesting take of what we've seen him do a million times before and its amazing how directors keep wasting this guy. His agent should really get on it or he's not going to have much of a career left. Worth seeing for a great performance by a great actress, but there really isn't much else worth taking away from it such is its overly on-the-nose nature. There's even an ongoing voice-over from a letter to Osama Bin Laden, majorly not cool.

Rating: 5/10

REVIEW: Ghost Town

A relatively standard film, which probably wouldn't have got this much of a look if it wasn't for bagging Ricky Gervais as the lead. Its funny in places and I laughed a couple of times but it reeks of tried and tested formula and thus is essentially another mediocre romantic comedy for the assembly line.
As far as the positive things go, Gervais is a less then conventional lead and thus is an interesting presence. I'm not the biggest fan of The Office but he is good here, delivering his one-liners with aplomb. But for me the movie is stolen by Greg Kinnear playing another yuppie douchebag to coin consecutive american expressions. He is at his greatest when playing losers and sleazes, and here is no exception. He really is one of the most under-rated actors going. Tea Leoni is serviceable, which is great seeing as how annoying she has been in the past. And there's a fun cameo by Kristin Wiig as Gervais' doctor. But the problem lies not with the dialogue or the acting, but the laziness and pure cliche of the storyline. The movie seems to think that we won't notice it because of all the ghosts, but its to half-assed to hide. The visuals are similarly lazy, and you can tell that David Koepp is a screen-writer by trade by them. All in all, ok for a few laughs but intensely forgettable and within a year people will forget that this movie existed.
Rating: 6/10

Wednesday, 22 October 2008

REVIEW: Eagle Eye

To be clear, the plot for this film is ridiculous. Insanity is abound and it is a crime against all things logical. Its also a slight rip-off from Will Smith's I,Robot. I make no claim that it makes any kind of sense, but I do claim that is very enjoyable in that way that only generic thrillers can be. It whizzes by harmlessly and is nicely frenetic. It even is acted to a decent level, with Shia LaBeouf being the least obnoxious he has ever been, Michelle Monaghan doing well in another under-written role. Billy Bob Thornton gives us some high quality being an asshole, to the point where his utterly functional charater becomes a highlight. Even The Shield's Vic Mackey shows up and displays a suprising amount of nobility. You forget how good an actor he is in the context of The Shield, you just get too drawn in. The crux of the matter is this is a popcorn movie, a high calorie sugary treat to be enjoyed guiltily and quietly and then never spoken of again. Its not high art, but it never claims to be and its a nice feeling sometimes to be able to switch off the brain and enjoy a movie in all its dumb, cliched glory. I could say more but it is befitting to this movie to be short and sweet.
Rating 6/10

REVIEW: Burn After Reading

The best way to describe this film would be to say that it will only be disappointing if you've seen The Big Lebowski. Made by any other film-maker I'd be praising this through the roof. But if you set yourself high standards then you suffer the consequences. Not exactly fair to be punished for your own adequecy, but that's what's happening in this review.

The Positive things first. This is a great piece of cynical fluff although it is quite forgettable. It subverts what you expect and is entertaining in places. It is a typically strong Coen brothers plot that's suitably incomprehensible. The word Fuck is used numerously and to great comic effect. It has A listers to spare, Brad Pitt, George Clooney, John Malkovich and recent Oscar winner Tilda Swinton; and quietly sneaks a few character actors in there too. But the Performances, despite the calibre of actors, are a mixed bag. The best of the big names is probably Malkovich, playing a recently fired low-level CIA analyst now the victim of blackmail. He is clearly enjoying himself immensely, particularly when swearing, which he does with great frequency and joy. When he disappears for the mid-section of the film, it most definately suffers. Pitt is funny, he will most definately make you laugh, and his lame attempts at blackmail are the funniest thing in the film. Clooney however is not so shiny, playing a character who isn't quite interesting enough to compensate for his utter irrelavancy. Clooney's scenes are the ones you sit through waiting for Pitt or Malkovich to come back on screen, which is a shame because Clooney can be very good in this type of thing as anyone who's seen O brother where art thou can testify to. But a special shout-out must go to J.K Simmons who almost steals the film in only two scenes. He is one of those actors who just makes a film better to view. Ditto Richard Jenkins ,who does a lot with a little.

The film is noticeably less visually entrancing then usual Coen fare, and Roger Deakins presence is most definately missed. The sullen visuals only add to the sullen tone and in many cases decidedly unspectacular dialogue that is noticeably less inspired then in previous outings by these film-makers. All in all you get the sense that their heart isn't quite in this one, and having seen all Coen brothers films but The Ladykillers ( because why) this is the 2nd weakest behind Intolerable cruelty. But 2nd tier Coen is better then most movies and as I said earlier if you want a cynical night out, this film will do fine. Not as funny as good as we may have hoped, but we hoped to a very high level.

Rating: 7/10

Tuesday, 21 October 2008

The 'no fun' principle

I've heard it whispered and seen it printed of late, something that greatly befuddles me. It was leveled at The Dark Knight and I've seen it utilised in a few early reviews of the new Bond film Quantam of Solace. These films are great, but are not quite as fun as they should be. I'd love to know what they mean by that, should they be easier to take in? Less hard-hitting? Should they be more forgettable, or is a big film simply not allowed to take itself seriously and thus their lack of bludgeoning irony is their crime. Fun for fun's sake is great, but isn't it a good thing that blockbusters are making an effort to be better films rather then just exist to bring in the money. And its not exactly if these films aren't entertaining, just not cheaply so. The beef then can only be with the darker, more adult tone. Which not to tell the people what to think is a very very very good thing

Monday, 20 October 2008


No internet is not internet. Not much can be done right?? Anyways all is fixed now and daily posting should return. Look for reviews on wednesday.

Thursday, 16 October 2008

Actor Trial: Nicolas Cage

Another feature thingy has sprung forth from my highly inactive brain, the lazily entitled ' Actor Trial'. Every Monday I will argue the case of an actor who either pisses me off or pisses other people off unrighteously. Up first....


The Prosecution: He's a Coppola coat-tail riding bad movie machine, and if he isn't going over the top then he's probably not breathing. A recent movie CV that includes such classics as Next, Bangkok Dangerous, two National Treasures and Ghost Rider. The goodwill he's earnt from a couple of good performances in the early 90's has well and truly worn out its welcome. Then there's the Hamming. Come on Y'all have seen it. The wide eyed, Joker mouthed nutjob face, the indiscrimanate yelling of lines. Youtube ' The Wicker Man' and see all you need to see.
Subtelty and Mr Cage certainly do not go hand in hand. Similarly he has awful taste in film. His rut hasn't just started in the last 5 years, there's all sorts of crap throughout his career and Cage seemingly his little to no interest in subtler roles where he doesn't get to steal the show. All in all, the worst kind of actor, all flash no substance.

The Defence: Erm, no. Cage may be on a bad run right now, but to say he is an actor without merit is to simply be an idiot. The guy has at least 5 truly great performances under his belt and has made films he wants to make rather then just chase Oscars like Sean Penn, Brad Pitt or George Clooney. An actor as comfortable in Con Air as he is in something like Leaving Las Vegas, he has shown a variety not present in many of the other 'movie stars' going today. And as for the argument that he is a spent force, one need only to look to excellent recent output like Lord of War or Adaptation. Fine he may have had a couple of bombs in a row, and yes he can go over the top every now and again. But considering the amount of people that let the same crime slide when its perpetrated by say, Al Pacino. Who has with one or two exception's done only eye-goggling mania since the early 90's. As for the family connection thing, ask Talia Shire if it guarantees you breeze to the top. That may have been his springboard, but Cage would have vanished long ago if he had nothing to offer, and his longevity as a leading man speaks volumes as to how good he really is. Just go watch Adaptation and Shush.

Verdict: A few duds don't make a great actor into a bad one. Cage is profoundly not guilty.

Updates that are imminent

Reviews hopefully coming on sunday evening, and should include Burn After Reading, Eagle Eye and a third to be named later. In more innovative news, from the 25th to 31st of October I'll be doing a 'Horror week' to coincide with Halloween. It'll include a bunch of crazy stuff which I clearly have planned in advance.

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

RANT: The WTF movie

The WTF movie is the cinematic equivalent of an extremely eloquent speech about nothing. People in the audience may think it to be profound, but when asked they'll have no idea why. It just is. When watching films like Mulholland Drive or to a lesser degree Donnie Darko, we experience the same reaction. A bemused sense of awe. So much so that people often name these films amongst their favourites, better then many that may have impressed them in a more traditionally coherent way. Is it because their better or because they make us think that they are? Lets do a rational and entirely unbiased weighing of arguments, because we love those so.


1) They dare to be different. we know what we expect to see when we see a film. A beginning, middle and end mapped out as clear as day, the resolution to all conflicts tied in a bow etc. The genius of the WTF movie is it dares to not patronise us by making everything black and white. Leaving as much as it can to the interpretation of the viewer, and even making certain things indeciferable. So soul-crushingly talked down to are we by most movies, we revel in the confusion and the mystery that these movies provide. We don't know whats going on, but we love it.

2) Harder to do then you might think: There is a reason that there are only a handful. Because for every Picnic at Hanging Rock there are several The I Inside's. For every Don't Look now There's an infinate number of Gothika's. The point being that these movies are very, very hard to execute. It takes a large amount of cratsmanship both visually and on the page to leave an audience joyously mystified, and too much smugness or incoherency will lead to communal audience yawning. The trick, or so it seems, is too present it as a technically solvable puzzle. Something that seemingly can be figured out, but not by you.

3) Audience participation: The birth of the inter-active movie. In our eyes, the purpose of these movies is not to sympathise with characters or marvel at the photography, but to figure the things out. Thus we pay more attention then we otherwise would and start websites called . Its hard to care this much about Dances with wolves isn't it.


1) Smoke and mirror theory. A credible argument potentially pointing out what these movies actually are. A cheap magic trick. Wow your audience with enough rabbits pulled out of hats that they'll cease to give a crap about those small little things like characters or logical consistency. Cynical, but there most definately an element of truth to it.

2) Not as good as you originally think. First viewing of these films is usually great without exception, but watching these films repeatedly shows that without the pretence of the puzzle that maybe they don't do the simple things as well as other films. Like isn't the acting in Mulholland drive a teencey bit stilted, or the time-travel segment of Donnie Darko a teencey bit banal. Watching them again usually makes them weaker, whilst films without that WTF factor often get better on repeated viewings, coz sometimes the simple outlives the convoluted .

3) They're good because of something other then the Puzzle. Come for the puzzle, stay for the good storytelling. Or good acting, or some specific proficiancy in some other specific area. The point is made right. The greatest WTF movies do other stuff great also, like Memento's intelligence and attention to character, or Eraserhead's twisted look and sense of Darkness. A movie doesn't survive by simply being a interesting puzzle. It would simply go the way of a rubix cube. Thrown away in a mixture of frustration and disgust.


I feel I have to do the honourable thing and sit on the fence. Some people like these more then others, I personally love to watch a movie smarter then I am, but a lot of people don't and just find them frustrating and a chore. Great movies are great movies though, and this bizarre genre mutation has most definately produced some of those.

WTF Movie Checklist (to watch if you're not currently confused enough for you're liking) :
All David Lynch Films but The Elephant man or the Straight story
Donnie Darko
Picnic at hanging Rock
Don't Look Now
Brazil/12 Monkeys
The Fountain
Naked Lunch
Being John Malkovich
Spirited Away
Solaris (1972)
and more to be found out by you who has both more space and time.

Tuesday, 14 October 2008

' Its not the movies, its real life.'

It seems slightly indulgent to write an entire post on a single line of dialogue, well thats because it is. My bad. This line, although interchangeable between mediums, so it might read ' this is not a book, its real life' etc', has been making me cringe for so long something highly ineffectual needs to be done. AKA writing a post about it. Thats my justification, such as it is, so now I can get down to it.

1) its incredibly lazy, a go to platitude for writers who want to make it very, very clear that something is at stake in a scene, essentially saying this one's not like all those other movies. This ones' REAL. Then the comic relief gets eaten by athleticly adept zombies.

2) Stupid inter-contextuality. They know that we know its only a movie, so they essentially say well STFU this is real. No its not. Saying that come very closeto break the third wall, it has the opposite effect of the intended and makes us realise that it is a movie.

3) It hs never been delivered well. From Val Kilmer in Kiss, kiss, bang, bang to Matt Damon in the Bourne ultimatum, actors always always unconsciously express the thought 'man what a lame line' whether they mean to or not.

Writers, earn our interest don't try and distract us with bottom of the barrel tricks like this.

Monday, 13 October 2008

100 million for High School Musical 3.

Several boffs who do this for a living have said that this film, third in a trilogy adored ironically across the world, may blitz the 100 million barrier. Some are saying it will go even further and break the 200. Its certainly a possibility. But I have faith in people and i'll go on the record saying that this has as much chance of making 200 million as the large hadron collider did to destroy the world. But the first milestone is an inevitability. Whats the betting that the total gross of High School Musical and Beverly Hills Chihuahua is higher then all 5 best Picture Nominees put together. Another reason to hope the Dark Knight gets nominated I suppose.