Friday, September 6, 2013

Things I watched by choice

Here are some movies that I’ve seen since my birthday totally unrelated to the movies on my list, but if I’m writing about movies I might as well write about them all! This is (loosely) in viewing order, with most recently watched last.

The Conjuring
I’m pretty sure that I watched this after my birthday, but oh well if not. It’s a pretty typical, straight forward Haunted House type movie from James Wan. You might remember him from such films as Saw, Dead Silence, or Insidious. I mostly liked two of those movies. Saw, at the time, was pretty inventive and fresh. It did sort of revive a genre that was floundering a bit. Horror in the early 2000s was a bit dead in the water after experiencing a brief resurgence thanks to Scream and Final Destination. Of course, any good will that was built up with this movie was subsequently crushed by the 27 sequels and brought to light a genre that the Japanese and French had long been producing: Torture P***! Now, this is a title that I disagree with on a lot of levels. I think it’s dismissive and a cheap shot. Like when a person ends an argument by saying “Well, that’s just, like, your opinion, man!” It’s criticizing without actually saying anything of note or proving any sort of point other than you can parrot back what Tipper Gore says. If you can back up your opinion with actual words, great! Anyway, what was I doing? Right! James Wan.

So, Dead Silence I thought was pretty terrible. It was predictable, one note, cliché haunted doll movie. All the scares were pretty telegraphed but it wasn’t in an enjoyable or winky way, just a trite and overused type of way. I think it was one of his earlier works though, and he’s obviously learned a few tricks or four. Insidious was a delightful experience. I don’t know if it was intentional, but I spent a decent amount of time laughing out loud, in a good way! It had a lot of creepy moments but for the most part in very fun ways. They subverted some of the genre clichés by outright addressing them and the “experts” they called in later produced some of my favorite parts of the movie. It was overall a pretty enjoyable movie and I’m looking forward to the sequel that will be out shortly.

The Conjuring had a fair amount to live up to. It featured some of the same players from Insidious with some new folks thrown in. It’s (loosely) based on the true story of a husband/wife “ghost hunting” team that are probably most famous for their involvement in the Amityville Horror house. In this movie it’s a different family and demons and etc. There was a lot of really good camera work and set design and a couple of decent scares. It wasn’t anything groundbreaking but all the people involved (especially the child actors!) did a pretty aces job and for the most part I enjoyed it. I will probably not be watching it again but I recommend it to anyone that is a fan of haunted house movies.

You’re Next
This is a film that’s been sitting on a shelf for over two years in distributor hell. Normally that spells terrible things for the quality of a movie but in the case it’s really a matter of people in charge not knowing what they are doing. This is basically a Who’s Who of indie horror with most noticeably featuring horror darling Ti West as one of the masked villains. Ti West you might remember made the incredibly 80’s throwback House of the Devil and another very old school style haunted flick called The Innkeepers. This time he’s in front of the camera with Director Adam Wingard and writer Simon Barrett running things.

Now, Wingard is relatively new to the game. Since he made this movie he’s made a few shorts that I wasn’t really fond of, parts of V/H/S and V/H/S 2 and a bit for The ABCs of Death. Both of these were shorts (especially the latter) and ones that I wasn’t especially fond of. The only feature length film of his that I saw was A Horrible Way to Die which I actually quite liked!  Writer Simon Barrett was his partner on the above mentioned films as well. In addition to their writing and directing duties they also served alongside Ti West in You’re Next as the masked villains. Their career is an interesting case of moving backwards a bit. Going from feature length films to shorts of dubious quality. BUT. After this movie I’m willing to give them another chance.

This is a film that benefits from knowing as little as possible about it before viewing so I will simply say that I enjoyed it for the most part, though I do think it had some flaws. I think at times it took Not Taking Myself Too Seriously too seriously, if that makes any sense? There were winks to the camera but instead of a quick wink it was more of a sloppy both eyelids falling shut for an uncomfortably long period of time wink.  But that’s me being slightly too picky and I think overall it was a very worthy endeavor. I was able to see this movie in a theater that was completely empty except for me and that added a fun layer to it. I will almost certainly be watching this again and will probably even buy the DVD, something that I don’t do often these days!

The World’s End
The final movie in the Cornetto/Blood and Ice Cream Trilogy and a worthy end cap. It was one part buddy comedy, one part Man Child Forced to Face His Shortcomings and one part Action Adventure Video Game.  This is another movie that benefits from mostly staying mum on the subject, so I will simply say that I enjoyed this an incredible amount and look forward to seeing it again. I would place it above Hot Fuzz but below Shaun of the Dead. It wasn’t quite what I expected but I was very pleased with the end result regardless. I also loved that Sisters of Mercy was given so much love!

I watched this on Netflix and almost forgot that I had. That’s less a criticism and more of a commentary on my brain. It stars Rainn Wilson and Ellen Paige as would be superheroes. Sound like another relatively recent movie? Yeah. Well.  It’s from the mind of James Gunn. He directed/wrote Slither and wrote the 2004 remake of Dawn of the Dead. Which was directed by Zack Synder. Anyway. Yes. It’s a very similar subject to Kick Ass but in my opinion done in a much more realistic and depressing way. The violence is brutal, realistic, and appropriately horrifying. Yeah, I know that was the goal with KA and they were successful to a certain degree but it was still a bit whitewashed and sanitized. Super is slightly fantastical but still about what you would expect if an average human decided they wanted to become a super hero. Not for the faint of heart!

This is (I believe) the first works from Brandon Cronenberg. That last name sounds familiar, you might be saying to yourself if you were me. If you were me you’d already know the answer to that but you’re not so you probably don’t actually care. Crap! Talked myself into a circle on that one. Anyway. He is the son of David Cronenberg. Yeah. That guy! I guess this isn’t his first directorial debut but it’s his third! Which, this reminds me I really need to see David’s newest movie, Cosmopolis? It has Robert Twilight Edward Vampire in it, and hey! Come back here! Sources tell me that it’s pretty good. It’s all in a car, or something? Look, we’re not here to talk about that.

Anyway. So. Antiviral. It’s an interesting look at Celebrity culture and worship and the inevitable downward spiral we’ll find ourselves in. In the not too distant future people actually PAY to have themselves injected with whatever recent virus celebrities have. Yeah. Gross. There’s some interesting turns and ideas and for a lil noob director it’s all done very well. Of course, look at who his father is! I will definitely be keeping an eye out for this guy and this is totally worth a watch if you have 90 minutes or so to spare.

So, those are the non AFI movies I’ve been watching. I really need to get up on that though!


design by