The Movie Buffer

Monday, October 31, 2005

Yet another Halloween post

Having a Hallow's Eve movie marathon? Well, here is one such list that may inspire your night of horror. A Smooth compilation of 10 great pumpkin movies.

10. Texas Chainsaw Massacre: Blood, gore and the lone star state
9. Carrie: the girl whose prom dress is made of the blood of her enemies
8. Friday the 13th: Hockey gone right!
7. George Romero's Dead Series: Classic zombie action
6. Nightmare on Elm st.: Heeeeeere's Freddy!
5. My Bloody Valentine: Cozy, mining town where everyone dies for drinking Moosehead.
4. Bubba Ho-tep: A movie with Elvis, JFK and a mummy?!?
3. It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown: Need I say more?
2. Shaun of the Dead: But don't call it a "zombie" movie.
1. Army of Darkness: Hail to the King of Zombie movies, baby!

Halloween Flicks: The Deadening

Halloween is a great time for movies. A weekend where, not only kids but some adults drag themselves to the theatre to watch a movie that they would usually just gloss over.

And this year is no different, my home theatre there are 2 halloween offerings that should go mentionned: Saw 2 and Wallace and Gromit: the curse of the were-rabbit( for the kids).

Saw 2 is a qucikly made, only a year in production, sequel to the sleeper hit Saw. Jigsaw is back and ready to slice up some new victims in every ironic way possible. Looks pretty spooky, in a slasher flick kind of way.

Wallace and Gromit: the Curse of the Were-rabbit is what you can expect from a childrens halloween movie: A couple of scary shadows, some sight gags and a pumpkin patch. Looks like a fun movie no matter what your age group.

Edit: Sorry folks, this weekend I went to a party with a very nice girl so I didn't get to go to the theatre. Fear not I'll catch up in no time!

Saturday, October 29, 2005

On movie Criticism pt.2

Context, people, context!

Context is usually dropped from a movie review to form a semblance of objectivity. But it should be required for a full and balanced review. A kids movie will not entertain an adult, a teen grossout flick will not entertain someone who appreciates decency, a melodrama won't entertain a kid.

The worst of the offenders on this count are the critics that write for the Globe and Mail**. These guys are the forced-laugh-at-a-pretentious-art-flick reviewers. No only do they forget to mention that "Batman: Begins" was an action movie, they say that it's mindless and and the plot lurches to and fro without direction without tell us why they think that. Opinions are what these critics are selling but without the background the words that are coming from their mouths mean nothing. Thanks for nothing, I read your thousand word review and I am no better off than I was before I read it!

Ebert and Roeper do the same thing, they hand out criticisms as two old men rather than trying to appreciate the films from the point of view of the demographic the movie is shooting for. They never say "The new Disney animated film is great for kids but for parents it will be agony, Thumbs Up". Though these guys have surprized me with their opinions(Shopgirl, two thumbs up?!?).

Movie criticism needs a paradigm shift about how we go about doing our job. We can't be Waldorf and Statler, the readers deserve better.

**Over the summer months I got the Globe daily, since then I haven't read the paper but I doubt anything ahs changed.**

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Film Watching Etiquette pt.2

Since most of the rental probelms have been solved lets move to the big screen.

1. Turn off your phones, pagers and anything else you have. "but it's an Ipod!" you'll say but when I can hear it from 4 feet away it's too loud. Not only do these things ruin the movie for other people, how can you sit there and understand the movie whilst listening to the newest from Kraftwerk?

2. Your pompous movie critique friend, your loud mouth arrogant friend, your ditzy girlfriend are all jackasses for not shutting up. Throw a muzzle on them all or leave them at home. oh, and thanks for the genius comments they'll throw out during the quiet moments like "continuity error", " yeah, boy!" or " I can't see you Sara, can you see me?"

3. Though bringing beer to the theatre is fine, don't be and idiot and smash the bottles on the ground. That's just stupid.

4. If you came to the movies to make out, keep in the back seats. Last thing I want to see is some greasy nerd getting it on, obscuring my view of Saw II.

Well, I've ranted myself out. I hope this casts some light on the current status of movie viewing from the perspective of an average movie viewer.



Avast, thar be mild spoilers ahead, says I. Yar!

***End Note***

Doom has gotten, almost universally, bad reviews from the popular media - newspapers, tv and some of the more cunning webcritics - but I'm here to set the record straight. Doom is an adequate movie that you'll watch and say, if your a fan of the game, I'm not completly outraged.

Starring Dwayne "Can you smell what The Rock is cooking?" Johnson, from WWF fame, and a crew of "oh yeah, that guy" actors including : Karl Urban (Eomer from "the lord of the ring" trilogy), Dexter Dletcher (Soap from "Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels") and a few others from here and there.

Doom is set in a not so distant future, where a teleportation device, able to instantly send anything to Mars, is discovered and the 'new world' is being researched. Three operations are taking place on mars: Weapon development, Genetics and Martian anthropology. When some of the experiments go awry, scientists and civilians begin dying and this is where the big guns come into play.

A little context for the story, Doom is a first person shooter video game. Which means you see a gun at the bottom of the screen like you were holding it. You go on your merry way blasting evil demons and monsters to a Hell from which they were spawned. No character development, no concrete reasons, no stopping, just shooting and killing. Not such a hot topic for a 2 hour film.

The pacing of the movie is slow to build tension but never builds up and there is never a good release. All scenes are dark to make them spooky but it doesn't quite make it. The acting is decent considering the core material. The reason this movie gets a moderate review is that the target demographic for the film, kids that played the game when it first came out in the ealry 90's, will notice the little things that made Doom great are missing: The chaotic feel of desperation when your back is against the wall and you only have the hand gun and chain saw, feeling no remorse when double killing corpses so they don't come back as zombies, the rocket launcher, the Hell parts, the absence of a love story/team politics/comraderie, and the plethora of weapons.

The Rock plays the Sarge well but the rest of the cast fill their roles in less than stellar fashion. The old Doom midi from Doom1 makes it triumphant return, the first person shooter aspect is not over used or terribly done and the BFG are all the elements from the game that make great additions to the movie.

I give this movie a 5/10 or a 2-2.5 star rating. It was okay.

Elements of the first Doom made it into the movie
Cheesy lines
Sarge is Bad-ass

the little unnecessary changes to the story
Romantic elements added
Character named - John Carmack but not one for Romero ( Carmack and Romero created Doom the video game)

Friday, October 21, 2005

Film Noir - A style not a genre

Many a debate have started with this simple premise : Film noir is/is not a genre of film. In my books and in the books of the average movie view it is and should be recognized as a style of film. Here's why:

Film noir is a set of achetypes that a film utilizes for developement. A genre of film is a class of ideas on which the film is based(what it's about). Genre = Westerns, Romance, Documentary. Style = film noir, slapstick, Claymation.

When describing movies that are shot in black and white, lots of people say that they are film noir, in a sense yes they are, they are usually dark because of poor lighting. The things that must show up in a movie to make it a film noir are: a doomed love, a portrayal of the cruelty of human nature, pointed dialogue, heros that are driven by past mistakes, "dames", and anxiety/pessimism/fatalism.

And the easiest way of differentiating these two is that when describing a film, film noir can be used as an adjective and a genre cannot. Behold, a film noir love story, right!, a romantic film noir story, Wrong!

Monday, October 17, 2005

Month 2: Electric bugaloo

Widely used for the title of a bad idea,"[insert name] 2: electric bugaloo ", has lots of street cred but where does it actually come from. Well, no doubt it comes from something far earlier than this but I thought I had heard it in a theatrical context so I looked it up. "Breakin' 2: electric bugaloo", 1984's smash hit! I have not seen the movie but by its IMDB profile, it looks horrid.

Another movie mystery solved by a keen eye and an average brain!

Saturday, October 15, 2005

I love stop-motion animation!

There, I said it! There something about these flims that just makes me happy. I bring this up not only as a precursor to the Wallace and Gromit review I will be posting after I see it shortly, but as a simple fact: I like claymation.

Not only is there the difficulty in making the story interesting but there is the delicate, time consuming process of moving the clay figurines into the right postions. The charm and nostalgia of a film like this is unparalleled. It's childish, fanciful and silly but it's a good thing like hot chocolate on a cold day, Saturday morning cartoons or playing dodgeball with your friends.

Movies like "The nightmare before Christmas" and shorts like those in the "Wallace and Gromit" series capture the viewers imagination and dazzle them with visual effects that can't be explained away by anything except for pure artistry.

Give clay a chance! It may just surprize you.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Length equates to Oscars?

So I was trolling through some past academy awards listings and the first Oscar winner in 1927-28 was 141 minutes. Classics that won the Oscar like "All Quiet on the Western Front", "Gone with the Wind", "Casablanca", "The Bridge on the River Kwai" etc all push the 2 hour mark and more. The stand out I found was "on the Waterfront" which is only 108 minutes. Recently films like "Gladiator" and "Lord of the Rings" are blessed with an Oscar. The thought occurs that length translates into Academy awards.

The obvious benefit to a longer film winning is because there is more room for development of characters, mood and story. Furthermore, longer films have larger budgets so they can afford to get more popular/talented actors. These are both great additions to a flick but a long film can easily become a pretentious opus or a tacky, visual effect abortion.

What ever happened to the 100 minute movie? There is something to be said for a filmmaker that can start a story and finish it in less than 2 hours. The only movies that are in this time frame are animated, independent and some foreign film. I'm not saying that Hollywood doesn't produce these movies anymore; I'm saying that these movies from Hollywood aren't good.

Films like "Ghostbusters", "Final Cut", and "Searching for Bobby Fischer" are a dying breed and I will miss the days where I could walk into a theatre and not spend the entire night there.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Rental Reviews

Since I'm not getting out to as many movies as I would like I am going to start to post movie rental reviews.

The Final Cut (starring Robin Williams, Mira Sorvino and James Caviezel)

Set in a not-to-distant future, implants allow grieving families to replay cherished moments of the deceased. The film discusses the virtues and the flaws of these implants via a several "re-memory" funerals and an implied conspiracy, respectively.

Sophomore writer/director Omar Naim takes a crack at a big budget flick and comes out with a film that looks great, has a decent story but falls flat in the end. The movie flails around, throwing in subplot after subplot and is required to use the Deus-Ex Machina resolution (Spark notes guide to movie endings). The actors were good choices and they played their parts well. If there was a bit more closure at the end of the film it would have been more of a success.

Naim is a talented director and watch out for more!

Rent or Not? Rent it.

Sin City (starring Jessica Alba, Rosario Dawson, Devon Aoki, etc)

This film has so many stars I thought it may implode like Oceans12 or BeCool. Every actor in the film is accomplished and plays their role, even the cameo parts (frank miller is the priest), very well. There was not one part that was miscast.

Sin City revolves around the lives of the residents/patrons of Old Town, Basin City - It’s a cool assassin, a dame in peril or just another psychokiller. The movie is based off Frank Millers Comic book series Sin City ( That Yellow Bastard, The Hard Kill and The Big Fat Kill, other bits of the comics were put in from the compilation of short stories called The Babe Wore Red). This movie was excellent even though there are some quirky continuity, dialogue and costume errors along the way. The black and white+ colour splash digital filming gave it a comic book feel. There is a site that does a scene by scene break down of both comic and movie and it’s rather amazing.

Rent or Not? This movie is worth buying.

Saturday, October 01, 2005



Mild spoilers and plot discussion ahead. You have been warned!

***End Note***

Serenity is the big screen adaptation of the defunct television series Firefly, whose popularity has steadily risen since the release of the DVDs. Fans of the series will not be disappointed because the humor and the "casual" feel of the show is well transcribed to the movie. Newcomers to the world of Firefly will agree that the way the whedon tells us what has happened without patronizing is refreshing to say the least.

The story revolves around a group of rag-tag space mercinaries/pirates/trades-people. who are just trying to make a living in a less that legal way. As you may be able to tell from the poster (seen to the left), this is a sci-fi flick and thus has all the virtues and the flaws of the genre.

The movie opens to the crew, exactly the same cast as the show, trying to land their crippled ship. The pivot of the movie, a psychic warrior, aptly played by Summer Glau, is thrown into the path of danger and into the hands of cpt. Mal because of fate/bad decisions/luck. The story revolves around a secret that has been kept from the colonists of the outer planets. Whedon does a good job of building up the tension and preparing the audience for the pay off. The movie was highly entertaining because the humor allowed the story to flow and the characters witty dialogue was pretty good too. I would have like to have seen more in space battle scenes and more of Summer fighting. That being said, there was plenty of violence. The visual effects were great and the soundtrack was an interesting choice.

Overall I would give this film a 7/10 or a 3 star rating, a highly entertaining film that worked well in the genre but pushed no boundaries.

Story was well laid out and written
Dialogue was as funny as hell
Firefly's legacy carried on

Not enough space fighting
Killed off some characters
Not enough aliens