Sunday, August 29, 2010

Getting Stuck: 127 Hours and Buried

Two films I am very much looking forward to this fall are about being stuck in one spot for a period of time. And when I say stuck it comes out as an understatement. Both films feature one character being put in a horrific position and what they have to do to get themselves out. One is Danny Boyle's (28 Days Later, Trainspotting, Sunshine and Slumdog Millionaire) new film "127 Hours" and the other is the film that took the Sundance Film Festival by storm earlier this year, "Buried" starring Ryan Reynolds.

"127 Hours" is based on the true story of Aron Ralston. Ralston is an outdoors junkie, pretty much living off the thrill of climbing mountains and biking. While cannyoneering near Moab, Utah, Ralston fell and managed to get a builder on top of his arm, keeping him stuck. He was like this for...127 hour and he finally decided to amputate his own arm with a dull pocket knife.

Now sure the guy would not have had this happen had he been smart and not gone out alone, or better yet told someone where he was going. The remarkable thing is not just that he survived, but how he did so. You have to be pretty strong to cut off your own arm with a dull pocket knife. And I'm sure the experience would change you drastically, which leaves room in a film for excellent character development.

Not only is the film blessed with Danny Boyle's unique stylistic direction, its also blessed with James Franco. I know he was lousy in the Spider Man films along with Triston and Isolde, and we wont even mention his brilliantly terrible performances of the twisted psychopathic artist, Franco on ABC's "General Hospital" recently. Instead we will focus on just how artistic of a person he is, and the passion he has for films. And we can even acknowledge his roles in "James Dean" "Pineapple Express" and TVs "Freaks and Geeks" for support that he indeed can act.

The film should be intense and gripping as we are with Ralston as he tries to figure out how to get out of the "tight spot" he has found himself in. I expect nothing but great from this film as I have long since learned to trust Danny Boyle completely. You can check out the teaser trailer here at

"Buried" is a different film all together. Almost the entire film takes place inside a box, which is buried beneath the ground. Oh and Ryan Reynolds is playing a man who is trapped inside said box, alive. Reynolds is Paul Conroy a U.S contractor who had been working in Iraq. He is attacked and wakes to find himself buried in a coffin with a cell phone and a lighter. The film mostly takes place in the coffin with him as he races against time to escape the treacherous death pulling at him.

Ryan Reynolds is a good reason to be excited for this film. He started out doing the stupid sleaze comedies and somewhere along the way grew up and grew into really good roles. He has great charisma that makes it impossible to not like him. And with "Buried" it appears he finally gets to really stretch his acting abilities. The film promises to be taught with suspense and promises to leave you on the edge of your seat. Its got three great trailers out for it. One where you only see black until a split second when he flicks the lighter. The other you only see photos of the film, along with praise for it. But you get to hear lots that really builds suspense. The third is him talking into a cell phone camera, telling whoever is watching his terrible situation.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Devils and Darkness: The Horror Season Comes Closer

The fall is approaching and with it is the plethora of blood, guts, creaking doors, loud noises, failed attempts and missed opportunities. Yes I am talking about my beloved and accursed Horror genre. Many films will attempt to scare audiences, many will do so but I must add that most the "scared" audience is mindless teenagers. Now I don't mean to generalize all you teenagers together into one mindless drone group....but I know from experience as a former teenager that you are indeed more or less mindless.

Now if you are an even half intelligent young to old adult, the majority of the Horror films will not scare you, at most they will bring a mocking laugh of incredulity flying from your lips. But next to the heaping pile of rightfully disrespected horror trash, there always sits a small neat stack of respectful, artistic and most of all scary horror films. Each year I watch closely filled with trepidation at the fresh stock of scary movies, always hoping that a few will meet my very strict standards.

Now if you thought films like "The Ring", "Paranormal Activity" or any one of the atrocious "Saw" films are scary...well then I'm sorry but you are not going to be saved, you are completely hopeless and again sorry for my generalizations. Most the good horror films already came out in the 70's and 80's and are now being revisited in misguided and unoriginal remakes. If they are good and new you can almost always bet they are A. Foreign, or B. small budget, art house films. You could have chosen A and B, and you would still be right.

So now that I have both bored you to death with my Horror rant, lets start talking about a few of the upcoming fright fests. You have already heard me talk about John Carpenter's "The Ward" and you'll read more about that another time. Right now I want to focus on "Don't Be Afraid of the Dark" and "Devil".

"Don't Be Afraid of the Dark" technically isn't coming out during this Horror season and is being released early next year on the 21st of January, and technically it is a re-make. So I may be a bit hypocritical with this one, but the original was made for television. This re-make stars Guy Pearce (Memento, The Proposition and L.A. Confidential) and regrettably Katie Holmes. Its about a family who moves to a mansion (as usual) and the young girl opens a door that contains evil creatures who want her. Yes i know cheesy premise......but that doesn't mean it wont at least be a fun horror movie, and Guy Pearce makes me look forward to it. Not to mention its being produced and overseen by the brilliant Guillermo Del Toro (Pan's Labyrinth, Hellboy, and producer of El Orphanato)

"Devil" is a different story altogether. First things first, its based on a story by the hack M. Night Shyamalan. But we can forgive this since he is good at coming up with ideas for the most part and isn't involved with the writing or directing of the film. The directing falls on the Dowdle brothers who both worked on the movie "Quarantine". The films premise is about a group of people who get on an elevator. The people get trapped, hi jinks soon ensue. And it would appear that there is a malicious and malevolent presence with them, this presence is more commonly known as the devil......only which one of them, if any of them is the devil?

Now this film could go many a direction and I hope it goes well because the trailer is excellent and it is kinda a cool premise either way. It is due out the 17 of September.

So there are just a couple of Horror films I am looking forward to, do not worry I will be posting more about Horror films as Fall continues, along with my top ten list of my all time favorite Horror films and reviews of them all.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Ambition and Madness

"I go into movies thinking, we're performing, but with interviews, we're pretending to be completely real. I just can't get my head around it. And the things we say in this hour could permanently shape our personas. I mean, tell me that's not a little odd! And because I think that's odd, people think I'm odd. And that's strange. Know what I'm saying?" -Joaqin Phoenix

I'm going to talk about two movies that are coming out, two movies that have been on my radar for some time but I haven't gotten around to talking about them. So what prompts the sudden urge to write about both? Well, for one both just release trailers, and both look equally intriguing. One film is about ballerinas the other about an actor who quits to become........a rapper and yes I am talking about Joaqin Phoenix.

The first film is "Black Swan" I have been following this movie for sometime for a few reasons, the biggest is that it's directed by Darren Aronofsky. This brilliant man has given us "Pi" "Requiem for a Dream" "The Fountain" and the film that got Mickey Rourke his Academy nomination, "The Wrestler" He is immensely talented and always comes along with Clint Mansell doing his incredible scores.

Anyways "Black Swan" stars Natalie Portman as a talented ballerina who gets moved up to a more elite position at the dance theater where she dances. Where she meets another talented ballerina played by "That 70's Show"'s Mila Kunis. The two begin a rivalry, an intense rivalry. From what the trailer gives us numerous things are possible. 1. Mila Kunis is nuts. 2. Some thing supernatural is going on. 3. Natalie Portman is going insane. Now it is possible that all three are occurring, which would be greatly entertaining.

The film resembles my all time favorite horror film "Suspiria" directed by Dario Argento (a little fact, Natalie Portman is rumoured to be the lead in the "Suspiria" remake) Which also centered around ballerinas. Either way seeing as how Arronofsky is behind it, we an expect the very unexpected.

The second film is different, yet still just as, if not more, bizarre. A year or two ago Joaquin Phoenix announced he was quitting acting to pursue a career in Rap music. He grew his beard out, wore sunglasses and disappeared until appearing at a few of his "rap" concerts. This spawned the question, had Joaqin lost his mind? Had the great actor fallen far into obscurity? Well I personally felt it was a hoax, and was an artistic endeavor of some appeared I was right, maybe?

I first knew something was up when I spotted Casey Affleck filming Joaqin when he appeared on David Letterman. Suddenly "Documentary" popped into my head, or rather "Mockumentary". Now it is confirmed with the trailer for "I Am Still Here".

Its a documentary about his quitting acting and his attempt at a career in "rap" music. I personally think it looks great. And it could be a real great satire. But the question is still out there, was it all fake? Or did Joaqin really think he could make it as a rapper, whilst his best friend filmed him? Who knows, either way I'm terribly drawn in to it and I think that a lot of it has to do with sheer ambition of it all. I mean it is possibly the most ambitions endeavor ever attempted by an actor or any celebrity for that matter. This guy stopped acting and dedicated months and months to make this and create this whole persona. Because of the amount of the ambition, it is also the most risky move ever made. Real or fake, and i still tend to go with fake, its complete madness.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

The Master of Horror Returns

“What scares me is what scares you. We're all afraid of the same things. That's why horror is such a powerful genre. All you have to do is ask yourself what frightens you and you'll know what frightens me.” --John Carpenter the Master of Horror.

If you are a fan of the horror genre then chances are you pretty much worship the ground John Carpenter walks on. The man pretty much gave us the slasher genre as we know it when he directed a very low budget film in 1978 that pretty much became a phenomenon. The film starred Jamie Lee Curtis and featured a brutal, creepy killer wearing a William Shatner mask. "Halloween" changed the horror genre.

He then continued on through the 1980's giving us incredible films like "The Thing" in which Kurt Russel gives, in my opinion, his all time best performance. Also included in the 80's decade from John Carpenter were "The Fog" "Christine" and "Prince of Darkness" But he didn't stick with just horror, he delved into campy action with "Escape From New York" and "Big Trouble In Little China" both starring Kurt Russel. But just because he occasionally stepped away from the horror genre, it didn't stop him from being branded with the title of The Master Of Horror.

John Carpenter continued into the 90's making less movies but still putting out decent horror films such as "In the Mouth of Madness" and "Village of the Damned" but then he seemed to flounder a bit and when 2001's "The Ghosts of Mars" hit theaters, Carpenter seemed to be done. The Master of Horror even stated he had lost all his passion for film making.

For the next 10 years he made nothing except two episodes in The Masters of Horror premium cables series. Until now...
If your a horror fan you should be getting excited. If your a ghost story fan you should be getting EVEN more stoked, because The Master Of Horror is back behind the camera with a film for the silver screen.

John Carpenter's "The Ward" was supposed to be hitting cinemas this fall but appears to maybe have been pushed back, but either way it's reason for excitement. It's set in what appears to be a haunted insane asylum and has a cast of mostly young women, its already set up to be a killer horror film.

The story as we know it so far is centered on a young woman who is institutionalized than terrorized by a ghost. I can't think of anything better for Carpenter to be directing. Nothing is more scary than haunted insane asylums. The films website was also opened not to long ago and you can go check out some cool videos about the film there at but be warned, the synopsis on the site may give a little too much away. Anyways, just be stoked that The Master of Horror has returned!