Saturday, 30 November 2013

Monster Pies (2013) - ★★★

Director: Lee Galea
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

Top 15: Greatest Horror Movies of All Time

Greatest Horror Movies That I've Seen

Horror is my second favourite genre of film. I despise the feeling of suspense that builds throughout these great films. I'm very easy to scare... in fact, I'm worse than a child when it comes to getting scared. But after getting the shit scared out of me, I just feel powerfully elated. Horror movies are just sensational! From nail-biting suspense, to scares that make me run out of the room, or to the hilarious moments shared with friends after being scared, I've compiled this list of my favourite horror movies. They are in no particular order, these are the greatest horror movies I've ever seen. It's not just about the 'scariness', but it's about the actual quality of script writing, performances, cinematography, music, the whole shabang! I can proudly call these the best horror movies ever made.

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. 

An American Werewolf in London (1981) - John Landis

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. 

Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978) - Philip Kaufman

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 (1979) - Ridley Scott

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 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. 

Honourable Mentions: 
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

Brotherhood (2009) - ★★★½

Director: Nicolo Donato
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

Frances Ha (2013) - ★★★★★

Director: Noah Baumbach
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

Milk (2008) - ★★★★½

Director: Gus Van Sant
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

The Past (2013) - ★★★★½

Director: Asghar Farhadi
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. 

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

World War Z (2013) - ★★

Director: Marc Forster
Writers: Matthew Michael Carnahan, Drew Goddard, Damon Lindelof (Screenplay), Max Brooks (Novel)
Stars: Brad Pitt, Mireille Enos, Peter Capaldi, Danielle Kertesz, Fana Mokoena, James Badge Dale

World War Z is one of the worst zombie films I've ever seen. Don't be fooled by the poster, the action isn't all THAT epic. It's a generic, unintelligent, disappointing addition to the zombie-movie genre. I hated the choppy cinematography, I hated the phoney 'loving family' angle, I hated the completely unrealistic coincidences, and I hated the way it took bits and pieces from other zombie movies and made them less interesting. The performances, the story, the special effects, and the action were just underwhelming to me. I wanted more depth, more reason... something different from every other zombie film. The only difference you'll find here is that there are more zombies, less scares, and a very unsatisfying experience.

Saturday, 16 November 2013

What's Eating Gilbert Grape (1993) - ★★★★

Director: Lasse Hallstrom
Writers: Peter Hedges
Stars: Johnny Depp, Leonardo DiCaprio, Juliette Lewis, Darlene Cates, Mary Steenburgen, Laura Harrington, Mary Kate Schellhardt, Kevin Tighe, John C. Reilly, Crispin Glover

I loved What's Eating Gilbert Grape. Watching the lives of these people unfold was both humbling and entertaining. It contains what is arguably Leonardo DiCaprio's greatest performance to date. More importantly, it's just a magnificently crafted film. The cinematography and music tells a story in itself and adds an extra layer of understanding to the characters. At times I felt they could have toned down the cheesiness of certain scenes, and other times I felt overcome with emotion. My special shout out goes to Darlene Cates who played Mama Grape. Her performance, her character, and Leonardo DiCaprio truly raise the film to greatness.

Sunday, 10 November 2013

A Letter to Momo (2011) - ★★★★½

Director: Hiroyuki Okiura
Writer: Hiroyuki Okiura

A Letter to Momo is one of the most beautiful films I've ever seen. Anyone who has lost someone close to them should see this film. “We’re not alone.” I adore this story, and everything it represents. Its message shows that there's more to this world than meets the eye... and it couldn't have been delivered in a more unique and visually beautiful way. It has the spiritual and sentimental elements of Studio Ghibli films, but the style and realism of Satoshi Kon's works. Hiroyuki Okiura apparently spent seven years producing and making this film, which we can see in each meticulous, wonderful scene. I was mostly intrigued at the start, entertained through the middle, and quietly emotional at the end. This film really takes you on a journey through the usage of real and supernatural relationships.

Saturday, 9 November 2013

Top 11: Most Beautiful Movie Themes

These are the most beautiful movie themes I've ever had the privilege of hearing. I firmly believe that a great score is the difference between a good movie and a great one. Here are 11 of those scores that touch my heart, and make me feel the most profound emotions.

Boardwalk Empire: Season One (2010) - ★★★★½

Directors: Martin Scorsese, Timothy Van Patten, Jeremy Podeswa, Alan Taylor, Allen Coulter, Brian Kirk, Brad Anderson, Simon Cellan Jones
Writers: Terence Winter (Creator/Writer), Meg Jackson, Nelson Johnson (Book)
Stars: Steve Buscemi, Kelly Macdonald, Michael Pitt, Michael Shannon, Shea Whigham, Michael Stuhlbarg, Aleksa Palladino, Stephen Graham, Vincent Piazza, Paz de la Huerta, Gretchen Mol, Michael K. Williams, Paul Sparks, Dabney Coleman, Jack Huston

Boardwalk Empire is quite simply, one of the greatest TV shows of all time. It's filled with masterful performances, colourful scenes, picturesque cinematography, unforgettable events, and a downright thrilling story. If the Academy Awards gave out Oscars for TV shows, then this would certainly earn awards for Best Series, Cinematography, Actor, Supporting Actress, and Supporting Actor. It's just that magnificent.

Jackie Brown (1997) - ★★★★

Director: Quentin Tarantino
Writers: Elmore Leonard (Novel), Quentin Tarantino (Screenplay)
Stars: Pam Grier, Samuel L. Jackson, Robert Forster, Robert De Niro, Michael Keaton, Bridget Fonda

Jackie Brown is one funky, sassy, entertaining film! It has such an old-school 1970s feel to it. I just adored the soundtrack, cinematography, dialogue, and performances by Pam Grier and Robert Forster. This definitely has a Tarantino-esque feel to it, but in my opinion, it's the most unique film he has ever made when compared to his body of work. One thing I respect about Tarantino's film-making is that you can tell he puts so much thought and planning into each scene. This is what makes his movies consistently entertaining the whole way through. However, with Jackie Brown, I personally felt that there were too many scenes, and that some of the scenes were too long. The storyline is simple, too simple for a 154 minute runtime. Despite this, I found it to be a very entertaining movie.

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Dark Water 'Honogurai mizu no soko kara' (2002) - ★★★★★

Director: Hideo Nakata
Writers: Ken'Ichi Suzuki, Yoshihiro Nakamura
Stars: Hitomi Kuroki, Rio Kanno, Mirei Oguchi, Asami Mizukawa

I found Dark Water to be one of the most tragic, beautiful, most well-made horror films I've ever seen. Sure, it has some horrifying moments and brilliant suspense building techniques. What makes it stick in my mind, and makes me so damn emotional, is the story... the answer to the mystery of the film... the resolution to end the haunting. It contains two of the greatest performances I've ever seen in a horror film by Hitomi Kuroki and the young Rio Kanno. They felt like real people, which made the story feel real, which made me connect to them as human beings. Don't get me wrong, this film is damn scary. It takes a while to build up to the climax, but the climax is so damn exceptional that I can forgive the pace. I adore horror films that journey further than their genre, and add an extra layer of depth in the story. That ending for me... the whole story... was beautiful.

Monday, 4 November 2013

Sebastiane (1976) - ★★★★

Director: Paul Humfress, Derek Jarman
Writers: Paul Humfress, Derek Jarman
Stars: Leonardo Treviglio, Barney James, Neil Kennedy

Sebastiane submersed me in a piece of history that is seldom explored. Set in an Italian desert outpost in 303AD, we view the lives of a group of soldiers that are isolated from the world. With no women, no real form of entertainment, and all the time in the world, they become very close and engage in homo-erotic acts. In the heart of the story is Sebastiane, a Christian man who has a strange sadomasochistic relationship with the captain of the group. While it all seems like “sex sex sex!” I found it to be much more than that. It’s an entertaining, enlightening, and entirely believable period drama that revolves around the world of homosexuals, bisexuals, and sexually frustrated straight men. Matthew Lotti of Cinematic Threads called it "More or less a Playgirl calendar with a period theme." I could not disagree with him more.