One of my favourite things to do is to stay in on a gloomy night, turn out all the lights & put in a gripping horror/thriller. I'm not talking about those cheap gores or scare tactic films. I mean a real bone chilling, dramatic thriller with actual character development & intense yet intriguing story lines. The type of films that start to make you paranoid & fear of going to the toilet. Those twisted films that make your skin prickle & your chest heave.
The problem these days is the lack of a real build up in ambiance and mood in this genre of film. Horror films always seem to revert to disgusting blood, guts and gore, which tend to leave me feeling sick rather than scared. Or cheap scare tactics with extremely long build ups that by the time the monster/gremlin/ghost/ghoul jump out at you. Your bored and saw it coming about 10minutes ago. Especially if they're American horror films.
Not that I'm being discriminating against Hollywood (because I do enjoy my fair share of Hollywood blockbusters). But I have to say in this case, the foreigners have got it right when it comes to building up the scary atmosphere. It just seems Hollywood always cheapen the thrill of being scared out of your wits or having that lingering creepiness that makes you look over your shoulders (even when your sitting against the wall on your couch). Clear examples are Hollywood remakes like 'The Eye', 'The Ring' or 'Shutter' which already have the basics laid out for them. Yet they always come up short or lacking, can't quite pinpoint the reason.
I've seen all the famous horror hits. The last amazing horror story that I watched was 'The Woman in The Black Dress' Loh and behold, it's a British film. So I went on a hunt to find some more great horror films that aren't as widely promoted. I've composed a wish list of horror films below that I'll endeavour to finish by Christmas. That's a lot of freaked out nights & 5 second dashes to the loo, but stay tuned for my experience on these films!
Please let me know what you think of the films on my list. Any reviews, grievances advice would me much appreciated.
New Zealand. 2010. Directed by Taika Waititi. Screenplay by Taika Waititi. Story by Taika Waititi. Starring: Taika Waititi, James Rolleston, Te Aho Aho Eketone-Whitu
Boy is a simple but emotionally powerful story about growing up, relationships, following your head over your heart and drawing the line between right and wrong. It's easily one of the best New Zealand films ever made. It's Rich characters and humorous dialogue, entailed by the occasional light-hearted hand drawn animations delivered a hugely entertaining blend of culture, comedy and drama.
The story started on a perfect note with Boy played by James Rolleston giving his show and tell speech in the classroom. It introduced the character, his background and set the atmosphere, mood and setting all in one go without being a dull lead up. Taika Waititi (who also plays the dead beat father) did an amazing job in setting out each detailed scene with the occasional Michael Jackson tributes giving the film an even disperse of light laughter at the same time appropriately moving the plot along.
The film gave a heart aching recount on every boy's natural instinct to worship their father, whether they deserve it or not. The growth and resilience of each character portrayed superbly by every single actor from the child stars to the minor adult characters was a pleasure to watch. It still brings a smile to my face today. Pure brilliance...
Australia. 2010. Directed by David Michôd. Screenplay by David Michôd. Story by David Michôd. Starring: Guy Pearce, Joel Edgerton, Ben Mendelsohn, James Frencheville, Jacki Weaver Rating: ★★★★½
Animal Kingdom is a riveting insight into a 1980’s Australian crime family. The film trails a teenage boy named Joshua ‘J’ Cody (Frencheville). Due to unfortunate family circumstances J moves in with his grandmother and mentally unhinged uncles.
New comer James Frencheville portrays the slow & vulnerable teenager, flawlessly. His pensive dopey expressions are approriate enough to gain sympathy without rendering him useless. Jacki Weaver’s performance as the grandmother is also absolutely amazing. Her sweet, doting, polite characteristics can also be seen as eerily threatening as the plot progresses.
The film’s intensity does not waver from start to finish and is definitely not for light hearted entertainment. Animal Kingdom is a perfect depiction of the different rapacious instincts & cunning decisions brought out in each person for their own survival.
**Spoiler Alert** The one scene I can’t seem to shake, is when J is on the run from his uncle and attempts to get his girlfriend’s family out of their house. To avoid alarming them for their own safety, he simply asks for a lift to the shops. As the family bustles around to leave, the urgency in J’s eyes enclosed by his calm demeanour was insanely nerve racking. I was so intensely enveloped in the scene I began chewing on my hair without even realising it. Not many films have ever caused me to chew on anything other than popcorn. Two thumbs up!
USA. 2010. Directed by Michael Patrick King. Screenplay by Michael Patrick King, Candace Bushnell, Darren Star Story by Michael Patrick King. Starring: Sarah Jessica Parker, Kim Cattrall, Kristen Davis, Cynthia Nixon Rating: ★½
The charm of the original 'Sex and the City' series is that women can relate to each of the awkward, ditsy, clumsy, sex crazed working gal. SATC2 bombed! It took all the charm away and presented a bunch of over-the-hill photoshopped New Yorkers on a glamorous all expense paid holiday. I didn't sign up for this shit! It was detached from reality and completely over the top. The girls are all well groomed in their perfect little lives, with their perfect apartments, loving husbands and massive wardrobes. Yet, still find pointless shit to complain about! Now they're just being spoilt difficult rich bitches. It makes me cringe.
**Spoiler Alert** The first scene already started on the wrong foot, with cheap gimmicks used in an exaggerated gay wedding with an ice palace, swans, choir singers and Liza Minnelli. Who looked like she was about to drop dead after her 'single ladies' performance *cringe again*. Followed by eye-rolling, gag worthy and head shaking scenes one after the other. No interesting controversial topics were brought up. No clever cute humour. All in all, a lame over the top exaggeration about nothing.
Usually I end it with my favourite stupid scene but the whole movie was so ridiculous, I say the worst part was going to the movies to see it in the first place. Short and sweet.
USA. 2010. Directed by Ridley Scott. Screenplay by Bruab Helgeland. Story by Ethan Reuff, Cyrus Voris. Starring: Russell Crowe, Cate Blanchett
Robin Hood - The untold story of the man behind the legend... A friend of mine came up with a much better tag-line. Robin Hood - Gladiator with bows and arrows. The same prologue, director and actor of Gladiator were used but nowhere near the same quality. The piecemeal scenes of Robin Hood that tied the storyline together were confusing and disappointing. A lot of the dialogue that contributed to the overall plot-line were unnecessary making the pace of the film appear choppy and condensed. So many ideas were brought into the story such as Robin’s paternal origins and the significance of certain characters were never developed or explained. The angle the director took to move the plot along were to make all the characters seemed partial and easily swayed, a king’s crucial decision for the future of this country made on a whim based on his mistress’ word. There was no debate or intense friction but a quick and easy dialogue delivery, like a bowl of uncooked instant noodles.
In addition to the long winding war scenes, a large portion of the film danced around the romance between Marion (Blanchett) and Robin (Crowe), which was utterly excruciating to watch. The development of their growing love for each other was attempted through short awkward dialogue banter, only worsened by the lack of chemistry between the two actors. The fact that their mutual feelings were never addressed throughout the film made the 'declaration of love' scene; come as a sudden shock. They were excellent apart but skin-crawling in the scenes they filmed together.
**Spoiler Alert** Blanchett convincingly portrayed Marion as a strong, independent, hard headed woman throughout the film, however the useless addition of her running into the final battle with sword in hand & full body armor leading her small legion of the lost boys was completely unnecessary! Ridley Scott, you’ve been pounding it in our faces that Marion is a heroine from the start. We get it! She’s tough! There was no need for her to join the battle and fail miserably. It completely undid her tough act and made the crucial farewell scene between Robin & herself obsolete. Although I have to give two thumbs up for the director of photography who made many of the scenery appear absolutely breathtaking. The film overall, didn’t bring anything new to the table of the already over-done Robin Hood legend.
And finally, my favourite scene from this 2010 rendition of Robin Hood was when Marion and Robin decide to share some intimate and dramatic lip-locking action... amidst a raging battle! Marion who’s fallen off her horse with heavy armor & is drowning/choking on the shore & Robin who’s bleeding from the head comes to her rescue with blood dripping onto his lover’s face; I ask this question. DO YOU REALLY THINK THIS IS THE BEST TIME TO BE MAKING-OUT?!? I don’t know if this “romantic” scene trumps Elizabeth and Will’s impromptu wedding ceremony/battle seen in Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End. *gag*
Hong Kong. 2007. Directed by Kar Wai Wong. Screenplay by Kar Wai Wong, Lawrence Block. Story by Kar Wai Wong. Starring: Jude Law, Norah Jones, Rachel Weiz, Natalie Portman, David Strathairn. Rating: ★★★ ½
My Blueberry Nights is a delightful film about heart break, healing and finding your way to someone who cares. I know it's a cliché topic and tirelessly overdone, however it’s all about the way a story is told that makes it perpetually memorable. Kar Wai Wong managed to concoct a blend of intricate dialogue, progressive storytelling and simple yet effective camera techniques to express an artistic approach to life and what we’re all searching for, love.
The film is set in motion when Lizzie (Jones) suspects her long term partner is having an affair and comes to the cafe owned by Jeremy (Law) to dish more information of who he spent Saturday night with. Her heart break and loneliness led to long conversations through the night with Jeremy over blueberry pies and the histories of the bunches of keys left behind by random customers. Although Jeremy’s companion is greatly appreciated and most girls would’ve swooned over the idea of spending endless nights in deep conversation with a handsome, gentle and thoughtful young lad, Lizzie’s fears of confrontation drove her away and thus began her journey of self discovery, learning and recovery.
Upon her soul-searching journey, Lizzie meets a number of offbeat characters that she learns and grows from, all the while sending postcards to the kind hospitable cafe owner who takes the journey with her in spirit. The parallels drawn from life and a poker game, encountered by Portman's character Leslie, were a profound take on how Lizzie sees the world and what she chooses to take from that life lesson. Soul searching journeys always fascinate me because I've always dreamt of one day, going on a trip that would change my life. We've all traveled and discovered more about ourselves each time bringing a tingling sensation of change in the early stages upon our return, but everything tends to settle back into routine... until our next trip.
**Spoiler Alert** My Blueberry Nights was an insightful view into all walks of life and the fears and doubts everyone must face to move to a better place within themselves. My absolute favourite scene was when Jeremy shows Lizzie the different pastries he makes and how there's always an entire blueberry pie by the end of the night ensuring her that 'there's nothing wrong with the pie, people simply don't want it'. That line really got to me because the immediate thought that sprung to my mind was 'I'M A LEMON MERINGUE CHEESECAKE!' there's absolutely nothing wrong with me... i just haven't found my eater yet...
USA. 2009. Directed by Chris Weitz. Screenplay by Melissa Rosenberg. Story by Stephenie Meyer. Starring: Kristen Bell, Robert Pattinson, Taylor Lautner Rating: ½ Ok, so I knew this movie was going to be bad you knew it was going to be bad but I honestly didn’t think any film could consist of no positive notes whatsoever. Some films don’t have a great plot or require some character development but have great CGI to show for. ‘New Moon’ lacked substance, quality, artistry, the plot layout; soundtrack and actors were terrible and didn’t deliver any flare whatsoever to an already long winding and dull basic story telling ploy.
The movie began with Bella waking up next to a giant ‘Romeo & Juliet’ novel on her pillow immediately got me thinking this director is ‘highly’ skilled in the art of subtlety. The fact that they’re even trying to draw any parallels to a classic love story is, in my opinion slightly offensive as there was no development of love between the Twilight characters other than the superficial physical attraction. The whole 2hour ‘New Moon’ intensely follows Bella (Stewart) as she morosely goes about her day since Edward Cullen (Pattinson) left her. Which goes to show Bella is a whining, dependent, selfish and frankly stupid character as she disregards her family’s and friends’ feelings to become an adrenaline seeking suicidal tool to induce her hallucinations of Cullen. This is not someone who can be classified as a heroin in today’s empowering and independent society and if the youth can’t relate to this character, what is the point of dedicating an entire film on an uninteresting, miserable and superficial teenage girl!?! If I wanted to observe an emotionally insane teenage girl, I would’ve tailed my cousin’s ass for two hours.
The cheesy dialogue and absolutely appalling acting gave me a skin-crawling-eye-rolling-dry-heaving uncomfortable experience. Pattinson’s inappropriately painful expression for the whole 20minutes he was featured in the movie was confusing to watch, he had the same constipated stricken look for every situation. Lautner did nothing but act cool and expressionless for the first half of the movie, then prance around shirtless (with the same expression) for the rest and Stewart’s performance was atrocious! Batting eyelashes and stuttering in a monotone bored voice does not denote fear! (Yes, I’m talking about the scene when she announce “please don’t” after a hungry red-eyed vampire just called her ‘mouth watering’) I don’t know whether it’s their acting or the director’s request but someone should tell those kids to learn new expressions for different scenes!
Let’s not kid ourselves here ladies; we all went to see this horrid movie for the abs, it was all about the abs! The wolves pack were only in jean shorts for the entire duration of the movie and Pattinson even flashed his nipples and airbrushed six pack for the last half hour. It was hilarious to see women swoon over baby-faced Jacob’s (Lautner) ripped muscles like he was on the cover of a Mills & Boons novel when he unnecessarily took off his shirt and flexed his muscles because Bella bumped her head. I actually recommend this film for its superficiality if abs is the only thing you’re after in a film. Otherwise strictly Twilight crazed fans only.
And finally, how can i end without mentioning my favourite scene? You know how comedies have characters run through a serene and peaceful setting in slow motion to poke fun at certain situations as seen in Shrek and 40 Yr old Virgin? Well, New Moon manged to incorporate this classically amusing scene into a serious segment of the film. This left me in stitches and made me wonder if Stephanie Meyer really wrote these cheesy scenes or the director has once again made matters much worse by turning a adolescent fantasy into a childish comedy.