Wednesday, 4 December 2013
Writers: Simon Beaufoy, Michael Arndt (Screenplay), Suzanne Collins (Novel)
Stars: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Sam Claflin, Donald Sutherland, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Jena Malone, Liam Hemsworth, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Lenny Kravitz, Stanley Tucci
If one word was to sum up my experience of watching Catching Fire, it would have to be 'dull.' It's filled with very slow, long, tedious exercises in plot development. I didn't love the book, but the action was much more exciting on paper than on film. There were a few things I really liked about the movie. The costumes throughout the film are astonishingly beautiful, and the performances by Donald Sutherland and Elizabeth Banks were both highlights for me. But whenever the film gained a bit of excitement and momentum, it was taken down a peg by unconvincing scenes of romance and urgency.
Monday, 2 December 2013
Writers: Daphne Du Maurier (Novel), Nunnally Johnson
Stars: Olivia de Havilland, Richard Burton, Audrey Dalton, Ronald Squire, George Dolenz, John Sutton
DID SHE OR DIDN'T SHE? - My Cousin Rachel is one of the darkest and most mysterious films I've ever had the pleasure to watch, making it one of my all time favourite movies. It boasts what is arguably the greatest performance ever by Olivia de Havilland, and the role that secured Richard Burton's rise to fame. It's an exquisitely made film, with both beautiful and brooding cinematography that perfectly illustrates the story. An impressive score by Franz Waxman, along with the magnificent suspense and performances, made this one of the most entertaining and depressing films I've ever seen. What makes this a masterpiece is the way it will forever keep you guessing.
Writer: Chris Galletta
Stars: Nick Robinson, Nick Offerman, Gabriel Basso, Moises Arias, Erin Moriarty, Megan Mulally, Marc Evan Jackson
The Kings of Summer is a visually beautiful, entertaining film. It's basically like the movie Into the Wild, but for teenagers. It boasts an amazing soundtrack, exquisite cinematography, and an Oscar worthy performance by the hilarious Nick Offerman. I couldn't connect with the characters, because they were the kind of people I generally dislike. However, their complicated feelings and impulsive actions were both easy to relate to, and at times unbelievable. I enjoyed this movie because it made me feel some pretty strong emotions, and it didn't become preachy about in-depth teenage problems. It's just an interesting look at the lives of three boys, who are sick of their lives and want to escape. It's far from a perfect film, but there's enough substance there to call it a great movie.
Stars: Johnny Knoxville, Jackson Nicoll, Greg Harris, Georgina Cates
Bad Grandpa is one of the most uproariously funny movies I've ever seen. Scene after scene, this film was consistent in its level of unpredictability, originality, and downright hilarious gags. I'd go as far as to say that this is the BEST Jackass movie ever made. No, it doesn't have the classic stuntmen/pranksters such as Chris Pontius, Bam Margera, or Steve-O. It's simply Johnny Knoxville and the sensational Jackson Nicoll, who together have a damned funny, infectious chemistry. It's a surprisingly well put-together film, with a laid-back soundtrack and nice cinematography. What makes this movie work on a cinematic level is that it sticks to a coherent storyline, that is played out through enacted scenes AND pranks on real human beings. I just loved Bad Grandpa, which deserves high praise for making me almost fall out of my chair in laughter, twice!
Saturday, 30 November 2013
Writer: Lee Galea
Stars: Tristan Barr, Lucas Linehan, Rohana Hayes, Jeremy Kewley, Nicola Eveleigh, Marlene Magee, Marcel Reluctant, Katrina Maree
Monster Pies isn't a very well made film, but it's terribly moving. Once it gets more exposure, there's no doubt in my mind that it will be seen as an LGBT cinematic treasure. It's an important film for Australia too, a country that has only had brief exposure to gay themes on television and in film (Priscilla being the most notable film). It took me a while to get into the movie, because it was hard to get past the shabby production value. As the leading actors took their stride and developed an infectious chemistry, the romance took off and led me on yet another incredibly moving experience. Isn't it weird though, that a film like this (which is far from great) is one that I'll never forget. It does pack a punch, and it will stay with you.
Thursday, 28 November 2013
Greatest Horror Movies That I've Seen
Spoiler: The Shining is not on this list. It didn't scare me, and I nearly fell asleep. I can appreciate the mastery of Stanley Kubrick in his other films, but he couldn't work his magic on me with this film.
The Thing (1982) - John Carpenter
To me, this is the greatest horror movie ever made. Not only are these monster's the fucking scariest things I've ever seen on film, but the character's are freaking awesome. Everything about this film is just executed to perfection. When I was a kid, I got the worst nightmares from The Thing. I once dreamt that my Mum was turning into one of those things. NUFF SAID.
The Exorcist (1973) - William Friedkin
I was raised a Catholic, so The Devil and demons were ingrained into my subconscious. Though it doesn't affect others as much, most movies with demons scare the shit out of me. The Exorcist is the ultimate film of its genre. The images in this film are seared into my mind. Fuck, everything about this movie is amazing! The crab-walk down the stairs made my sister leave the room, whilst I nearly wet my pants. The line "You know what she did, your cunting daughter," gives me chills but renders me in a petrified state. The Exorcist doesn't scare me as much after seeing it a million times, but I'd happily agree that it's the greatest horror movie of all time. Not my favourite, but it's certainly worthy of the title.
Rosemary's Baby (1968) - Roman Polanski
This film taught me what to do when an old lady offers you hospitality. GET OUT THE CRUCIFIX, SPLASH HER FACE WITH HOLY WATER, AND SCREAM "THE POWER OF CHRIST COMPELS YOU BITCH." But seriously Ruth Gordon gives a fucking powerhouse performance in this near-perfect horror movie. So does Mia Farrow, and the rest of the supporting cast. This film had me in utter suspense, and I absolutely marvelled at the demon sex-scene. No wonder Frank Sinatra divorced Mia Farrow.
28 Days Later (2002) - Danny Boyle
28 Days Later was not the first zombie film I'd ever seen, but man, it felt like no other I had ever seen before. I consider 'the infected' to be the scariest zombie creations in cinematic history. Their vicious red-eyes, their crazy speed, and the absolute rabid, murderous rage that consumes them... they scare the hell out of me. When the group got stuck in the tunnel, and you could see the shadows of the infected running towards them... really masterful stuff. I also loved their logic and storyline behind the infected. Instead of the common-place 'undead' angle, they went for something awesome. I definitely think this is the best zombie movie ever made.
Halloween (1978) - John Carpenter
Michael Myers is my favourite slasher-villain of all time. His dead black eyes, his slow and confident walk, and the fucking scary ways he shows up in scenes... I freaking love this guy. This movie in particular, scared the bajeebuz out of me. First of all, the theme to Halloween is one of the best in movie history. Second of all, its suspense building techniques are second to none. Third of all, I had to pause this movie several times, because I was too scared to keep watching. I watched it on my laptop in bed, and I just couldn't move. I was petrified during and after watching this movie... so it deserves to be on this list.
The Conjuring (2013) - James Wan
The Conjuring is everything I love about horror movies all wrapped into one, awesome movie. I'm scared of ghosts, possessions, demons, and exorcisms. It's one thing to include these in a film, but it's another thing to give each of them a considerable section of the film, and treat them with respect. The hand-clap game gave me goosebumps. The 'ghosts' were freaking awesome. When we got to the demon portion of the film, BAM! Shit got real. Sheba (or whatever her name is) is the scariest looking fucking demon I've ever seen. THEY GOT IT RIGHT. And that exorcism in the basement... executed to perfection. This is just a solid, scary freaking movie.
The Blair Witch Project (1999) - Daniel Myrick, Eduardo Sanchez
The Blair Witch Project has ruined camping for me! Watching this movie was one of the most nerve-racking, frightening experiences of my life. I don't care what anyone says, the acting was phenomenal and extremely believable. It is the greatest 'found footage' horror movie ever made. While this film didn't remotely scare some people, it had me petrified. It's the classic example of 'less is more,' where we don't know what the fuck is out there trying to kill them, which is what makes it so damn scary. All we know is that it's a witch of some sorts that kills children. Now that's fucking scary.
Believe it or not, An American Werewolf in London is a childhood favourite of mine. You know what the absolute scariest part of the movie is? Hearing the howls of the werewolf in the Moors. When the two Americans travel off the road and wander into the Moors... I just wanted to die. The suspense was built so perfectly, that the last thing I wanted was to see whatever made those shrieking howls. The most memorable part of the film is the transformation scene, which I consider one of the greatest scenes in movie history. The make-up and effects were unbelievably phenomenal, and David Naughton's reaction was priceless. Ahh, I could go on for ages about how great this movie is!
Honogurai mizu no soko kara, or "Dark Water" (2002) - Hideo Nakata
Dark Water scared the shit out of me in one scene, then had me in suspense for the rest. I wouldn't call it one of the scariest movies of all time, but that's not what horror movies are all about. The character development and mother-daughter relationship was one of the most touching things I've ever seen in a film, period. By the end, I got extremely emotional due to the courage and bravery of the mother, played by Hitomi Kuroki. This film makes my list, because not only is it scary... it's also one of the most touching films I've ever seen.
My mum's favourite horror movie is the original Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956). At one point in my life, the 1978 version was my all time favourite horror movie. There were moments that had me utterly terrified. There were moments were I felt overwhelmed with grief. There were moments where the suspense of the moment had me hiding under the sheets. But most importantly, the moment at the end seared this film into my mind forever. I cannot talk about the greatest horror films without mentioning the ending scene of Body Snatchers. Who knew Donald Sutherland could be such a scary bastard!
Alien is one of the only horror movies I would call 'perfect.' THIS MOVIE IS AMAZING. To me, the best thing about a movie filled with greatness is the main character, Ripley (Sigourney Weaver). She's strong, she's human, and she kicks ass. I just love her. As for the alien... it is one pesky, elusive, horrific looking monster. Its blood is acid, a mini alien protrudes from its mouth, it is super fast, super adaptable, and super pissed off. It runs around the space-ship killing off the crew one-by-one, leaving me in awe of the awesomeness, and jumping in fear every now and then.
Jaws (1975) - Steven Spielberg
|"I think we're gonna need a bigger boat!"|
Jaws... another childhood favourite of mine. I've seen it at least a dozen times, and it is still as fresh as the first time I watched it. It's an ageless classic, a perfectly crafted film... a thrilling masterpiece. That score is probably the most recognizable theme in movie history, the actors were cast perfectly, the shark and cinematography were brilliant at making the whole thing look real and panicky, but most importantly, the suspense and fear throughout the film didn't let up until the credits rolled. It's another perfect horror movie.
The Ring (2002) - Gore Verbinski
The Omen (1976) - Richard Donner
A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) - Wes Craven
[Rec] (2007) - Jaume Balaguero, Paco Plaza
The Ring... what can I say? This film just gives me the heebie jeebies! Samara is probably the scariest fucking thing ever... except for that thing from The Grudge. This film has a great actress for the lead, Naomi Watts. But more importantly, its suspense building techniques are just perfect! Everything from the lighting, the music, the dialogue, and the expressions set up the creepy atmosphere in the most suspenseful way possible. The blurred photos, the fucking opening of the film, the supernatural occurrences, and then that freaking ending! The Ring is the best Hollywood remake ever made. I liked it even better than Ringu.
The Omen (1976) - Richard Donner
The Omen is one of the greatest horror movies for this reason: No other horror film has ever had me so invested in the main characters. I rooted for Gregory Peck and his wife... I really became attached to them. That made everything that followed absolutely horrifying, because I wanted them to survive more than anything! This film builds a spine-chilling, demonic atmosphere as time goes on. Suspicious deaths, suspicious characters, and fucking unreal revelations make this one of the most exciting films ever made. Most importantly, it's a truly scary film. I love The Omen. If someone called it the greatest horror film of all time, I would not argue with them. It's just that good.
A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) - Wes Craven
A Nightmare on Elm Street scared me more than any other film I've ever seen. The first time I saw this movie, I was so scared that I could hardly breathe. There are over a dozen amazing moments in this film, one of my favourites being "I'm your boyfriend now Nancy!" Then a tongue comes out of the phone! To me, it was the brutal slaying of Tina that will stay in my mind forever. When she was being thrown around the room, and getting slashed open by Kruger's knife fingers... it left me speechless. It is one of the most brutal, spectacular horror scenes of all time. But the thing is, the whole movie is filled with horror, gore, and suspense.
[Rec] (2007) - Jaume Balaguero, Paco Plaza
"Hey Ben, there's a really scary movie on TV you should watch," said my Mum. I then proceeded to the lounge-room, sat down, and watched [Rec]. I had no idea what to expect. Then BAM! This movie made me jump, scream, and cry like a little girl! I'll never forget the night I watched this movie on a whim, because I stayed up talking about if for ages with my family. What made it so scary was not knowing what the hell was wrong with these things! Oh, and the fact that they were super fast, super crazy, flesh-eating creatures! Then the final moments of the film, in the attic... with that monster... probably the most horrifying 5 minutes I can recall ever seeing on film.
The Strangers (2008), Scream (1996), Psycho (1960), Friday the 13th (1980), Ringu (1998), Ju-on: The Grudge (2002), Evil Dead (2013), Aliens (1986), The Others (2001), The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)
Wednesday, 27 November 2013
Writers: Rasmus Birch, Nicolo Donato
Stars: Thure Lindhardt, David Dencik, Nicolas Bro, Morten Holst, Hanne Hedelund
Brotherhood is a well-made Danish film about the forbidden love between two members of a pro-Nazi group. It's extremely well acted, beautifully crafted, and sensitive in its portrayal of love and fear between two men. The only problem I had with the film is that I could tell what was going to happen, half an hour before it happened. If it was less predictable, or separate from the conventional themes most LGBT films share, then I could see it as a masterpiece. It certainly had the potential, with gorgeous scenes and a damn-good score by Jesper Mechlenburg. As it stands, Brotherhood is still one of the best LGBT films I've seen.
Tuesday, 26 November 2013
Writer: Noah Baumbach
Stars: Greta Gerwig, Mickey Sumner, Michael Esper, Adam Driver, Michael Zegen, Charlotte d'Amboise, Grace Gummer, Justine Lupe
Frances Ha is undoubtedly my favourite film of 2013! It has a naturally funny, infectious charm about it that just made my heart sing from the opening credits to the end. I love the style, I love the performances, I love the dialogue, I love the characters, I love the music, and I love how different this movie is from anything I've ever seen. It's so refreshing to finally see a comedy about REAL people again, not just the usual cliched throw-up from the same-old comedic actors. This film captivated me so much, that I saw it again the very next day. The characters are at times frustrating and hard to relate to, but that made no difference for me because they were like real people, rather than fictional movie characters. It's definitely not for everyone, but I really identified with the story and characters on film.
Saturday, 23 November 2013
Writer: Dustin Lance Black
Stars: Sean Penn, James Franco, Josh Brolin, Emile Hirsch, Diego Luna, Alison Pill, Victor Garber
Milk is one of the most important films ever made. This is a film I believe every gay and lesbian youth should see. It's brutal in its depiction of homophobia in the 1970s, it's unflinchingly honest in the way it represents the homosexual community at the time, and it is filled with powerful moments and speeches that support the LGBT community. Sean Penn won an Oscar for playing Harvey Milk, the first openly gay US politician. I believe it is his greatest performance, and one of the best Oscar winning performances of all time. This film may even change the minds of the naive, misinformed, or unsure anti-gay crowd. Milk shows the world a small, but utterly significant chapter of US history. It was an extremely emotional cinematic experience for me.
Friday, 22 November 2013
Writer: Asghar Farhadi, Massoumeh Lahidji
Stars: Berenice Bejo, Ali Mosaffa, Tahar Rahim, Pauline Burlet, Elyes Aguis, Jeanne Jestin, Sabrina Ouazani
I can breathe a sigh of relief, for Asghar Farhadi has produced one of the best films of 2013. In a year plagued with a lack of display for the human condition, The Past is like a beautiful storm that sweeps through and revitalises the genre that we call ‘drama.’ There will no doubt be comparisons made between this film and Farhadi’s acclaimed masterpiece, A Separation. While I wouldn’t call The Past a masterpiece, it’s still one of the best movies I’ve seen in years. Farhadi distinguishes his films from others through the usage of stunning realism, emotional performances, and complicated stories. There’s no shortage of complicated drama in The Past. It takes you on a long, thoughtful, beautiful cinematic experience.