Saturday, June 24, 2017

Almost Famous

 
Release year: 2000
Production company: Columbia Pictures
Starring: Kate Hudson, Patrick Fugit, Billy Crudup, Frances McDormand, Anna Paquin, Fairuza Balk, Phillip Seymour Hoffman

William Miller (Fugit) grew up with a love of rock and roll music in the late 70's that spurred him on to dreaming of becoming a rock music journalist. And with the help of one of his favorite writers (Hoffman), Williams lands an assignment with Rolling Stone Magazine that gives him the chance to tour with the up-and-coming band Stillwater on their "Almost Famous" Tour! William makes new friends, practices his skills as a writer, and gets the chance to experience life out from under the wing of his overprotective mother (McDormand).

Here we have another perfect example of a movie where I was expecting a completely different plot than the one I actually got, and I'm not complaining at all! I was expecting Almost Famous to be something similar to Rock of Ages where our lead characters were trying to sing their way to fame and fortune and get discovered in some dingy 70's club...and instead I get met with a precious coming-of-age movie where the characters tug at your heart and the whole movie is literally all about the music. I hate to sound cheesy sometimes, but this Almost Famous was pretty groovy.

Hudson and Fugit were so dreamy together!! Loved
their characters!!

Feeling like The Doors meets Crossroads, Almost Famous was such a fun movie that definitely glorified all the fun, crazy, hard-to-believe lifestyles of those who lived for the rock and roll scene in the 70's! All the characters were tons of fun, and of course I have a hard time hating on anything that Patrick Fugit stars in (see previous posts on Saved and Wristcutters: A Love Story). The story is also adorable, who wouldn't love watching a 17 year old kid who's lived a sheltered life go out and experience freedom with the kindest, rowdiest crowd out there? It makes for a real blast! Only downside? This movie did feel really long at times, bit of a bummer. But if you really dig these types of movies then 2 hours is nothing!

Almost Famous gets a 4 OF 5 must own for those who love 70's wild-child, rock and roller type movies. This was such a fun, sweet, silly watch that I highly recommend checking out at least once!

Friday, June 23, 2017

Alexander

 
Release year: 2004
Production company: Warner Bros.
Starring: Colin Farrell, Angelina Jolie, Rosario Dawson, Jared Leto, Val Kilmer

Conqueror of Asia and King of Macedonia Alexander the Great (Farrell)  was a man thirsty for power and glory. He wanted to rule the world! But can Alexander be the king he is destined to be if he pushes his armies too hard, is continuously manipulated by his power-hungry mother (Jolie), and is distracted by a secret love affair with his best friend and comrade in arms (Leto)?

This was a movie I used to be completely obsessed with when it first came out, I would watch Alexander constantly! But it's been years since I revisited it....man, either this movie did not age well, it never was good to begin with, or I had really rotten taste in movies when I was in high school. Talk about a stinker!

The idea of making a movie about Alexander the Great is awesome, I feel like he's such an important figure in world history but there has yet to be a movie made about him. But maybe I'm just prejudiced because we're birthday twins - September 20th! - and no one really cares about a movie about him. Well, with how this one went...maybe the world doesn't need an Alexander movie. Let's start off with the length - this movie was looooooooooong and so exhausting to watch! It's also not terribly exciting so you're not invested enough in the movie to want to watch and learn more. What's the point of sitting through a 2 and a half hour long movie if it's not going to be worth it?

I mean, this moment where they meet the Indian soldiers
who ride elephants in the jungle is cool....but I wouldn't wait 2
hours to see it...

I was also not a fan of the casting of the movie, or the way the actors portrayed their characters. Colin Farrell made Alexander come off as some wimpy, little mama's boy instead of the conqueror of worlds that he actually was. Angeline Jolie had this strange Bulgarian-Russian accent thing going on that was really unappealing and she was also an aggressively angry character. Calm yourself Angelina Jolie, this movie is not going to win you an Oscar! The plot of Alexander is also really confusing, instead of showing a general progression and thought process behind decisions being made, things are just happening and it's confusing for us viewers. It's almost like the writers wanted to cram as much history into this movie as physically possible but in doing so, the entire movie suffered. At the end, I just didn't care about anything that was happening. Also, this movie is also monochromatic - everything is gold or yellow colored! The least Alexander could do is be pretty to look at if it's not going to be interesting, but no dice once again.

That's right Colin Farrell, you don't work as a blonde and you
DEFINITELY don't work as Alexander the Great!

Alexander, while I would have given it a full rating 10 years ago, now only gets a 1 OF 5 must own for fans of biographical war epics. I wanted so badly for this movie to be good but it just can't. People of Hollywood, hear my plea!! Make a new Alexander the Great movie but with the vibrancy of 300 and the wit of Exodus: Gods and Kings! The world is, or at least I am, waiting!!

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Zombie Holocaust

 
Also released as: Doctor Butcher
Release year: 1980
Production company: Flora Film
Starring: Ian McCulloch, Alexandra Delli Colli, Sherry Buchanan, Peter O'Neal

After several corpses are discovered mutilated and partially eaten in a hospital morgue, an expedition is led to South America to find answers as to why this is happening. And what our adventurers find are cannibals, a mad doctor-scientist, and the zombies that the mad doctor-scientist created!!

This was a pretty wild ride of a movie, and literally exactly what I was expecting it to be: a movie similar to Lucio Fulci's Zombie mixed with Cannibal Holocaust but with some missing pizzazz (not in a negative way!). This was a movie that delivered exactly what I wanted to see: gore on top of gore on top of gore, and tons of cannibalism scenes where people are gnawing into fake limbs and organs! Zombie Holocaust totally had the same sleazy 70's-80's exploitation movie vibe that incorporates weirdly funky music with scenes of carnage and blood-mania - I loved that!

It's all so gross and weird....I LOVE IT.

So we've got a predictably perfect zombie-killer-cannibal-jungle-adventure type movie here...so what's wrong with it? Well, like I said earlier I felt like it was kind of missing something. I think the main things that made movies like Eaten Alive! and Cannibal Ferox so fantastic was that they went ALL THE WAY!! You want to see gutted creatures and castrations and acts of obscene torture? Well, those movie delivered! Zombie Holocaust felt weirdly restrained to me, but it was still a good watch. Oh, and the make up used on the rotting zombies was HORRENDOUS. But, I would rather laugh at a poorly constructed burlap mask than suffer through unnecessary CGI.

Zombie Holocaust gets a 4 OF 5 must own for those, like me, who are lovers of the sleazy cannibal-ccentric exploitation films and 80's horror movies - this was such a refreshing trash-fest, and totally perfect for Trash-Tastic Thursday!

THURSDAY NIGHT IS THE BEST NIGHT TO TUNE IN TO REAL PUNK RADIO!! Home to the Thursday Night Wrecking Pit, Real Punk Radio is your Thursday night destination for the best in Psychobilly radio programming. Starting tonight at 6pm PT Gone Mental will be kicking off the evening, and then at 7pm PT Zorch Radio takes over the reigns and rides out the evening til 9pm with the best in Psychotronic rock n' roll. So make sure to tune in to Real Punk Radio tonight!

Tune in for some killer music to accompany
your trashy cinema!

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides

 
Release year: 2011
Production company: Walt Disney Pictures
Starring: Johnny Depp, Geoffrey Rush, Keith Richards, Penelope Cruz, Ian McShane

The infamous Captain Jack Sparrow (Depp) has a new quest to take him across the high seas: find the Fountain of Youth. But Jack is conned by his former lover (Cruz) into joining the crew of the villainous pirate Blackbeard (McShane), who plans on using Jack's knowledge to help find the mystical Fountain. But Blackbeard and Jack aren't the only ones with their sights set on the same horizon. Captain Barbosa (Rush) has become an ally with the British Royal Navy and plans on capturing Jack and Blackbeard on their way to the Fountain of Youth!

This was a movie I wasn't too terribly excited about watching, I'm really kind of burnt out on the whole Pirates of the Caribbean thing...I mean, there's a 5th movie coming out and I don't feel like there's a whole lot more they can do in their movies. To be fair though, none of the movies I've seen have been bad - I remember really liking the first movie and thinking the second and third were okay. The only reason I even watched this one - the 4th one - was because my sister-in-law is a huge Pirates fanatic and she got to pick the movie for the evening. And I feel pretty lucky that this movie ended up being much more fun than I anticipated!

Question: how badly do you think Johnny Depp's wig has
to smell before they throw it out and make a new one?

My biggest concern going into Pirates 4 was that I barely remembered anything from the other 3 movies...how was I going to be able to follow the plot and remember who characters were??? Lucky for me, this movie was pretty stand alone and the only real characters that continued on from other movies were ones all centered around Captain Jack Sparrow, who's just a loosey, goosey, silly pirate so there's no deep underlying plot murking things up. But, it that good or bad that I was able to pick things up on the 4th movie and the franchise was totally unphased by the first 3? I guess that's a personal thing.

I enjoyed that there were plenty of fun new characters to be introduced to, as well as new creatures - this movie had mermaids! This was also a plenty exciting movie too -adventure and stunts and action everywhere!! But there were a couple of let downs for me though too. I didn't like how much CGI was used in this movie, it didn't enhance any of the stunts or take the place of things that couldn't have been done with practical effects. I get that Disney has the money, but I'm a firm believer in "just because you can, doesn't mean you should." I also didn't really like how the mermaids in this movie were projected. I know in traditional sailor lore, mermaids were seductresses and would drown men...but these mermaids were more like aquatic vampires. And I am SOOOO over vampires! But despite these couple of things, Pirates 4 was tons of fun and I would definitely recommend checking it out.

Why not just let them be evil mermaids and not
vampire mermaids???

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides gets a 3 OF 5 must own for fans of the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise - this was a really fun watch but it's kind of a throwaway movie. Fun, not super memorable, expendable characters, and something that doesn't really follow the plot of all the movies that have come before it. Let's see what happens with the 5th movie that comes out later this summer!

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

A Troll in Central Park

 
Release year: 1994
Production company: Don Bluth
Voice talents: Dom DeLuise, Cloris Leachman, Charles Nelson Reilly

Going against troll nature by being happy and getting joy from growing flowers with his literal green thumb, Stanley the troll (voiced by DeLuise) is banished from the troll kingdom by evil Queen Gnorga (voiced by Leachman) and sent to live in a cold, hard place where nothing grows: Central Park in New York City. But instead, Stanley makes a beautiful home for himself underneath a bridge in the park and even makes friends with two young children named Gus and Rosie. Well, when Queen Gnorga learns of Stanley's newfound happiness, she sends a barrage of curses to stop Stanley from spreading anymore happiness and growing anymore flowers!

A world without flowers? No thank you!

This is such a cute movie that I haven't watched in ages! My little sister and I used to be obsessed with Don Bluth movies, and thankfully this was one that was more child friendly - no more of that nightmare-inducing Secret of NIMH nonsense! We've got tons of loveable, sweet characters, and brilliant colors exploding off the screen - all things that will not scare us kids. There is definitely a very creepy villain, and in a way I feel like Gnorga is the perfect villain because she literally loves everything terrible! She looks gross, her clothes are creepy, she loves bugs and animals with sharp teeth...she's as rotten as they come! But she's not so scary to the point where kids would want to turn the TV off and sleep with the lights on for a week.

They're literally singing a song about living in a world
that's bright and shining...this movie pukes happiness.

Now, A Troll in Central Park is plenty sweet but it's not the perfect movie though. I'm not a fan of the fact that the animation and audio don't always line up. A character will bump their head and there will be delayed audio, or a character might not have any dialogue and yet their mouth is moving as though they're speaking. Oops! Not ideal! The only other gripe I have about this movie is that it's one of those animated films where the characters make a lot of ooo-ing and awe-ing noises and don't use a lot of dialogue to express themselves. Maybe this is a personal peeve of mine but I feel so uncomfortable when animated characters just make filler noises instead of actually talking. But, if this isn't something you really care about then don't consider it a deterrent by any means!

A Troll in Central Park gets a 4 OF 5 must own for those who love Don Bluth's movies and are looking for one that isn't all doomy and gloomy and depressing - this one has literal sunshine in it! No need for a nightlight here!

Monday, June 19, 2017

A Knight's Tale

 
Release year: 2001
Production company: Columbia Pictures
Starring: Heath Ledger, Rufus Sewell, Shannyn Sossamon

Figuring out that he can make tons of money by entering the jousting circuit, peasant squire William (Ledger) decides to claim to be a knight and compete in jousting touraments for money. William quickly gains notoriety for his unique style and rises to the top as one of the best jousters in Europe - he even catches the eye of beautiful noble lady Jocelyn (Sossamon). But a jealous rival (Sewell) who seeks to overthrow William's success could steal his title and William's woman if he doesn't keep his guard up!

This was such a fun first time watch for me - like everyone else on the planet, I adore Heath Ledger and miss him terribly so any chance I get to watch a movie that he starred in is a chance I will always take! The hilarious thing is though, that I've probably owned this movie for at least 5 years...and I've never even come close to popping it out of it's DVD case...thank god I'm finally starting to watch everything in my collection, I've been sitting on some real gems!

And by gem, I don't just mean Heath Ledger's smile...but
it definitely doesn't hurt!!

Feeling a lot like Ever After: A Cinderella Story mixed with the anti-establishment vibes of Marie Antoinette, A Knight's Tale was a fun romantic comedy set in medieval times. I loved that it had a lighthearted, fun feeling to the plot and characters - everyone is out to have a good time and have fun! I also really loved all the characters minus Shannyn Sossamon's character - I've never encountered her in a movie before and she's kind of bland in my opinion. Speaking of characters, I also found in kind of weird that just like Ever After this movie had a historical figure just chilling among the common people - Ever After had Leonardo Da Vinci and A Knight's Tale had Geoffrey Chaucer. Very peculiar coincidence in my mind...

Really, I was happy with everything about A Knight's Tale - great plot, characters, filming...plenty of laughs and love to be had. My only real issue is that this movie feels pretty long in places. I mean, I'm all for getting as much Heath Ledger packed into my movies as possible but I also still want to enjoy the movie too and not find myself zoning out in the middle of the movie. Thankfully though, the soundtrack - consisting of lots of classic rock hits from Queen - is excellent at jolting you awake so don't worry about falling asleep!

Such a fun watch - I'm so hanging on to this DVD!

A Knight's Tale gets a 4 OF 5 must own for fans of romantic comedies that give medieval films a modern flair! This was a fun, sexy, cool watch - if you love yourself some Heath Ledger then you absolutely must see this movie!

Sunday, June 18, 2017

47 Ronin

 
Release year: 2013
Production company: Mid Atlantic Films
Starring: Keanu Reeves, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, Hiroyuki Sanada, Ko Shibasaki, Zombie Boy

When their kingdom is left in the hands of a power-hungry warrior protected by witchcraft, a band of banished samurai must come together to overthrow the corrupt new leader of their land. But they will need the help of a half-human, half-demon (Reeves) that their village mocked and bullied all his life - if he will join their legion and fight against the evil descending on the kingdom.

Based on the original 1941 film, this was a movie I bought because I was hoping for another blind buy similar to The Man with the Iron Fists - a martial arts movie that was intense, over-the-top, and possibly a little Quentin Tarantino-ish. What I wasn't expecting was a fantasy-martial arts, quasi-science fiction movie where Keanu Reeves is trying to pass as the only white man in China. And I say all of this in a positive way - 47 Ronin was not the movie I expected, but boy was it a killer fun watch that I would totally recommend checking out!

Seriously, you have no idea what you're in for!

This was definitely a movie that relied heavily on CGI for stunts, fight sequences, characters, and all the fantastical creatures all intermixed in our story - but tell me this: how is this movie from 4 years ago using CGI that's literally 95% better than almost all the CGI being used in big blockbuster films gracing theaters these days??? While it doesn't make sense for current movies, it totally works in 47 Ronin - talk about a feast for the eyes!! You become so engaged by the sweeping artistry of the animation that you don't stop to look for weaknesses (I was going to say 'chinks in it's armor, but I felt like that might have been in poor taste...). This was a beautiful movie to watch - and it had an equally engaging plot too!

The story is sweeping and intense, shrouded in so much mystery and intrigue and danger....wow!! There's a forbidden love story, dark secrets, witchcraft, displays of cunning and brute strength...I loved all of it so much! But seriously though...why did they cast Keanu Reeves??? After my disappointing experience with Knock Knock, I'm starting to feel like Keanu Reeves isn't really a suitable actor for things where he needs to show some kind of exerted emotion. He was fine in 47 Ronin, but he was just so vanilla in a movie that was literally EXPLODING with exotic flavor! I wanted more than fine from my hero! But, it is what it is - and luckily, Reeves is not the central focus of the movie, our plot does bounce around to other characters often so thankfully there are plenty of other places to focus my attention in this movie!

He may be bland, but at least the rest of the movie is not!

47 Ronin gets a 4 OF 5 must own for those who love fantasy-ccentric martial arts movies that rely heavily on CGI, but really good CGI! I promise that 47 Ronin is totally worth renting, it's killer!!