Screen Junkies » Genres http://www.screenjunkies.com Movie Reviews & TV Show Reviews Wed, 26 Nov 2014 19:27:26 +0000 en hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.3.1 Ranking the Many, Many Deaths of Michael Myers By Improbability http://www.screenjunkies.com/movies/ranking-the-many-many-deaths-of-michael-myers-according-to-improbability/ http://www.screenjunkies.com/movies/ranking-the-many-many-deaths-of-michael-myers-according-to-improbability/#comments Fri, 31 Oct 2014 16:57:50 +0000 Jared Jones http://www.screenjunkies.com/?p=266797 It's as if the screenwriters of these movies didn't even take the time to do the proper research before putting pen to paper.

The post Ranking the Many, Many Deaths of Michael Myers By Improbability appeared first on Screen Junkies.

]]>
By Jared Jones

You know, while getting blackout drunk on Evan Williams Apple Orchard Liquor and watching Halloween 4 last night, I noticed something: That Michael Myers feller is hard ta kill! Whether he was being shot, stabbed, run over, shot, stabbed, or shot, Myers never stayed down for long, and boy oh boy was he mad when he got to waking up, I tell you what!

But it was shortly after Halloween 4 ended and Halloween 5 began that the true revelation came: All of the Halloween moves — from the 1978 classic to that one with Busta Rhymes — are riddled with inaccuracies. Contradictions. Plot holes you could drag a corpse through. Whether the creators of franchise are or simply ignorant I do not know, but I do know that the films consistently take absolutely insane liberties when it comes to things like anatomy, Newton’s laws of motion, and the physical limitations of the human body.

How any film franchise as successful as Halloween could be rooted in fraudulent science simply boggles the mind, as does the fact that the film’s rather frequent missteps in logic have gone completely unnoticed by both moviegoing audiences and the so-called “critics” whose job it is to pick movies apart to the most minor detail. But more often than not, the factual inaccuracies of the Halloween series can be traced back to one man: Michael Myers.

Over the course of some seven movies*, Myers meets his maker no less than a couple dozen times, only to inexplicably rise again and seek the blood of some dumb skank who just tripped over a pinecone. It’s utterly confounding, and for the good of horror filmmakers everywhere, nay, humanity, join us as we give the many deaths of Michael Myers the logic beatdown they deserve.

*Remember, neither of Rob Zombie‘s Halloween incarnations ever actually happened and therefore cannot be included.

#10: Multiple Tranq Darts and 2×4 Bludgeoning — Halloween 5

If the independent research I’ve conducted on stray cats and dogs around my neighborhood is anything to go off, a lethal dosage of Telazol (the chemical compound found in most tranquilizer darts) is around 14 mg/kg. While the average human’s tolerance is somewhat higher than that, any animal being that is worth one’s salt can survive up to twice the safe dosage found in the average dart. The Halloween 5 filmmakers obviously researched this as much as I did, and were correct in their belief that having Loomis double-down on his darts would not in fact kill Michael Myers. The same can be said for the bludgeoning that followed, because let’s be honest, Loomis definitely seemed to be holding back on those 2×4 swings.

#9: Injected With Green Goo, Bludgeoned With a Pipe — Halloween 6

I may not know much about chemical compounds (other than those found in tranq darts), but I do know that if it’s a green liquid and it was found in a laboratory, it can probably kill you. The same goes for being repeatedly smashed in the face with a pipe. But not knowing the exact specifications of what green goo was injected into Myers, I can not in good conscience condemn Halloween 6 for failing to abide by good science.

Bonus points go to Rudd’s little angry drop of the pipe at the end there. That some good actorin’.

#8: Wire Hanger in the Eye, Knife in the Chest — Halloween

The average dum-dum’s reaction to this scene is probably something like, “Oh, that’s not so bad I guess. Plenty of people have been stabbed and lived before HURRR DURRR.” And dum-dum is right, people *have* lived through stabbings before. But I can guarantee you that in 99.9% of those cases, the stabbed person did not lie down, take a power nap, and then continue attacking the person who stabbed them. Myers not only loses an eye in this closet confrontation but takes a kitchen knife right in the sternum, and anyone who’s ever played racquetball before knows that breathing, let alone movement of any kind, is nearly impossible after taking a shot to the sternum.

Basically, if the science of this scene was represented by a woman’s photo on Instagram, I would declare it “Pointy elbows 2/10 WOULD NOT BANG.”

The post Ranking the Many, Many Deaths of Michael Myers By Improbability appeared first on Screen Junkies.

]]>
http://www.screenjunkies.com/movies/ranking-the-many-many-deaths-of-michael-myers-according-to-improbability/feed/ 0
Jump Scare Of the Day: ‘Sinister’ — The Lawnmower Scene http://www.screenjunkies.com/video/jump-scare-of-the-day-sinister-the-lawnmower-scene/ http://www.screenjunkies.com/video/jump-scare-of-the-day-sinister-the-lawnmower-scene/#comments Thu, 30 Oct 2014 17:17:44 +0000 Jared Jones http://www.screenjunkies.com/?post_type=video&p=266752 A truly terrifying moment from one of 2012's best horror movies.

The post Jump Scare Of the Day: ‘Sinister’ — The Lawnmower Scene appeared first on Screen Junkies.

]]>
By Jared Jones

The difference between your average run-of-the-mill jump scare and a truly great one is usually a question of what vs. when. Most jump scares (especially those found in mainstream, American horror movies of the modern era) too often rely on what or where the thing is that will reveal itself within a scene to frighten the characters, and by extension, the audience. Will it be a ghost’s reflection in the bathroom mirror, or the face of a killer outside the window? Will the demon child reveal himself from the attic or the basement?

The problem is, these kind of jump scares focus so much on creating that one frightening moment that they all but overlook those leading up to it — throw a scared teen in a dark room, have them yell “Hello?” a few times like no one in a similar situation would ever do, and yadda yadda it was just a startled cat!

A truly great jump scare, on the other hand, usually forgoes the what and where in favor of the when. It informs it’s audience exactly what is going to happen, then toys with our expectation of when the scare is coming to drive us insane. It’s like what Alfred Hitchcock always used to say about a bomb under the table; focusing on the when builds suspense because it allows the audience to participate in the scene.

“The audience is longing to warn the characters on the screen,” said Hitchock, “You shouldn’t be talking about such trivial matters. There’s a bomb beneath you and it’s about to explode!”

The focus on when over where (or what) is exactly what makes the “lawnmower” scene from 2012′s Sinister so effective. By this point in the film, we are already aware of “Mr. Boogie” and the method in which his killings typically play out. From the moment the audience lays their eyes on that lawnmower, we know exactly what he’s going to use it for, but not when we will see the gruesome act carried out. That uncertainty, or inability to count the beats of the scene is what fuels our anxiety, and that the scene is shot on 8mm film and from the POV of the lawnmower only adds to the tension of what is already a positively nerve-racking scene. The same goes for the simple, pulsing score that plays beneath it.

If you have any suggestions for what a future entry should be, give us a shout over at @screenjunkies with the hashtag #jumpscare.

The post Jump Scare Of the Day: ‘Sinister’ — The Lawnmower Scene appeared first on Screen Junkies.

]]>
http://www.screenjunkies.com/video/jump-scare-of-the-day-sinister-the-lawnmower-scene/feed/ 0
Trailer for Iranian Vampire Flick “A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night” Is Pure Atmosphere http://www.screenjunkies.com/video/trailer-for-iranian-vampire-flick-a-girl-walks-home-alone-at-night-is-pure-atmosphere/ http://www.screenjunkies.com/video/trailer-for-iranian-vampire-flick-a-girl-walks-home-alone-at-night-is-pure-atmosphere/#comments Wed, 29 Oct 2014 15:06:13 +0000 Jared Jones http://www.screenjunkies.com/?post_type=video&p=266702 If you happen to live in New York or Los Angeles, make sure to catch this flick during its limited theatrical debut on November 21

The post Trailer for Iranian Vampire Flick “A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night” Is Pure Atmosphere appeared first on Screen Junkies.

]]>
By Jared Jones

Written and directed by first-timer Ana Lily Amirpour and produced by Elijah Wood,  ’A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night’ tells the story of a small Iranian town whose residence begin to fall victim to a vampire. While the plot sounds like your typical run-of-the-mill horror faire, the first trailer for the film proves that Amirpour’s debut will be anything but.

No, “A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night’ is already receiving all kinds of acclaim on the film festival circuit, being described as “a touching, genrebending allegory” whose black-and-white palette brings to mind such classics as Metropolis and Nosferatu. That’s high praise for a young director’s first film, so check out the trailer above, and if you happen to live in New York or Los Angeles, make sure to catch it during its limited theatrical debut on November 21.

The post Trailer for Iranian Vampire Flick “A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night” Is Pure Atmosphere appeared first on Screen Junkies.

]]>
http://www.screenjunkies.com/video/trailer-for-iranian-vampire-flick-a-girl-walks-home-alone-at-night-is-pure-atmosphere/feed/ 0
Jump Scare of the Day: Insidious — “Face of Fire” Scene http://www.screenjunkies.com/video/jump-scare-of-the-day-insidious-face-of-fire-scene/ http://www.screenjunkies.com/video/jump-scare-of-the-day-insidious-face-of-fire-scene/#comments Tue, 21 Oct 2014 21:00:50 +0000 Jared Jones http://www.screenjunkies.com/?post_type=video&p=266410 Perhaps the scariest scene from a movie which has been dubbed, ""a goddamn Disneyland theme ride of machine-gun paced jump-scares."

The post Jump Scare of the Day: Insidious — “Face of Fire” Scene appeared first on Screen Junkies.

]]>
By Jared Jones

James Wan‘s Insidious is, to quote Pajiba’s review of the film, “a goddamn Disneyland theme ride of machine-gun paced jump-scares.” Chief among them might the scene above, in which Josh’s (Patrick Wilson) mother, Lorraine, recounts a dream she had the night before involving a demonic figure and Josh’s son, Dalton. Then this happens, and then you wonder why the room suddenly smells like someone took a fresh dook. Then you realize that you are the only person in the room.

If you have any suggestions for what a future entry should be, give us a shout over at @screenjunkies with the hashtag #jumpscare.

The post Jump Scare of the Day: Insidious — “Face of Fire” Scene appeared first on Screen Junkies.

]]>
http://www.screenjunkies.com/video/jump-scare-of-the-day-insidious-face-of-fire-scene/feed/ 0
Jump Scare of the Day: ‘The Sentinel’ Old Man Scene http://www.screenjunkies.com/video/jump-scare-of-the-day-the-sentinel-old-man-scene/ http://www.screenjunkies.com/video/jump-scare-of-the-day-the-sentinel-old-man-scene/#comments Thu, 16 Oct 2014 17:00:12 +0000 Jared Jones http://www.screenjunkies.com/?post_type=video&p=266245 Alison is awakened in the middle of the night by a series of strange sounds and decides to go exploring. Because good things usually happen when you investigate a disturbance in a horror movie.

The post Jump Scare of the Day: ‘The Sentinel’ Old Man Scene appeared first on Screen Junkies.

]]>
By Jared Jones

Michael Winner’s The Sentinel is easily one of the most overlooked/underrated horror films to come out in the past 50 years — a cerebral, terrifying depiction of neurosis and atonement with a rather brilliant supernatural twist.

Telling the story of a beautiful model, Alison Parker, who moves into a Brooklyn apartment that actually serves as a gateway to Hell, this 1977 classic features a heap of former and future stars appearing in minor roles — from Christopher Walken to Ava Gardner to Jeff Goldblum — and has slowly been building a cult following over time. Arguably the most frightening moment in The Sentinel comes relatively early in the picture, when Alison is awakened in the middle of the night by a series of strange sounds and decides to go exploring. Because good things usually happen when you investigate a disturbance in a horror movie.

Anyways, the scene above rightfully earned a place on Bravo‘s 100 Scariest Movie Moments of all time, so give it a watch and let us know if you have any suggestions for future Jump Scare of the Day entries over at @screenjunkies with the hashtag #jumpscare.

The post Jump Scare of the Day: ‘The Sentinel’ Old Man Scene appeared first on Screen Junkies.

]]>
http://www.screenjunkies.com/video/jump-scare-of-the-day-the-sentinel-old-man-scene/feed/ 0
Jump Scare of the Day: Signs — The “Brazilian Birthday Party” Scene http://www.screenjunkies.com/video/jump-scare-of-the-day-signs-the-brazilian-birthday-party-scene/ http://www.screenjunkies.com/video/jump-scare-of-the-day-signs-the-brazilian-birthday-party-scene/#comments Thu, 09 Oct 2014 14:49:31 +0000 Jared Jones http://www.screenjunkies.com/?post_type=video&p=265991 The only thing scarier than this scene is Mel Gibson.

The post Jump Scare of the Day: Signs — The “Brazilian Birthday Party” Scene appeared first on Screen Junkies.

]]>
By Jared Jones

True story: I saw this movie in theaters when I was 15, and when this scene happened, I hid by my hands and cried. I cried like a TEN YEAR OLD GIRL!! (*throws baseball out window*)

If you have any suggestions for what a future entry should be, give us a shout over at @screenjunkies with the hashtag #jumpscare.

The post Jump Scare of the Day: Signs — The “Brazilian Birthday Party” Scene appeared first on Screen Junkies.

]]>
http://www.screenjunkies.com/video/jump-scare-of-the-day-signs-the-brazilian-birthday-party-scene/feed/ 0
Jump Scare of the Day: ‘The Exorcist III’ Nurse Scene http://www.screenjunkies.com/video/jump-scare-of-the-day-the-exorcist-iii/ http://www.screenjunkies.com/video/jump-scare-of-the-day-the-exorcist-iii/#comments Thu, 02 Oct 2014 21:50:34 +0000 Jared Jones http://www.screenjunkies.com/?post_type=video&p=265734 Introducing the Jump Scare of the Day™, a new recurring feature here at Screen Junkies designed to push you closer and closer to the brink of a nightmare-fueled insanity and/or incontinence.

The post Jump Scare of the Day: ‘The Exorcist III’ Nurse Scene appeared first on Screen Junkies.

]]>
By Jared Jones

Introducing the Jump Scare of the Day™, a new recurring feature here at Screen Junkies that is most certainly *not* a blatant attempt to cash in on the horror-centric frightfest that October has become. So just throw that notion right out of your head.

For the next 30 days, we will be providing you Screen Junkards with a routine dose of heart-stopping terror from some of our favorite horror films both old and new, with the hope that each successive offering will push you closer and closer to the brink of a nightmare-fueled insanity and/or incontinence. First up, we give you the “nurse scene” from The Exorcist III (1990). Not to spoil it, but let’s just say that things does not end well for the titular nurse.

If you have any suggestions for what tomorrow’s scene should be, give us a shout over at @screenjunkies with the hashtag #jumpscare.

The post Jump Scare of the Day: ‘The Exorcist III’ Nurse Scene appeared first on Screen Junkies.

]]>
http://www.screenjunkies.com/video/jump-scare-of-the-day-the-exorcist-iii/feed/ 0
The Film Cult Presents: Hard Candy http://www.screenjunkies.com/movies/the-film-cult-presents-hard-candy/ http://www.screenjunkies.com/movies/the-film-cult-presents-hard-candy/#comments Fri, 19 Sep 2014 17:27:29 +0000 Philip Harris http://www.screenjunkies.com/?p=265243 The revenge Page’s character takes out on Wilson is calculated, diabolical. It’s hard to argue that Wilson's character doesn’t deserve it, so I won't. That said, there is a sense of the predatory to Hayley. She’s been working at this.

The post The Film Cult Presents: Hard Candy appeared first on Screen Junkies.

]]>
Okay, kids. This week, we’re going dark. After reviewing Contact last week, and Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work the week before as a tribute to the recently passed comedy icon, I thought it was a good time to take a bite out of a weird, uncomfortable movie that also happens to be awesome.

Before she was Juno, Ellen Page was Hayley, a smart teen who at first glimpse seems innocent and vulnerable. We meet her through a flirtatious online chat she carries out with Jeff, played by the eternally beautiful Patrick Wilson, the all-round good guy photographer with the beautiful LA house and the smile to match. What follows, after they decide to meet in person, is a cat and mouse game that under the helm of any other, less-talented actors would veer into schlocky kitsch. But with Wilson and Page leading the charge, what we get is a psychological thriller about the atrocities of sexual child abuse.

I cannot understate how awesome Ellen Page is in this movie. I’m pretty sure she was born an acting genius. Her acting is acute, visceral. Still only a teen, her timing is perfect, and the breadth of her chops is masterful. From one moment to the next she’s vulnerable then vindictive, logical then irrational.

Her acting is most assuredly matched by Patrick Wilson’s, who’s been making amazing, understated movies for years. He plays the good guy with a secret so well that when you find out he ‘s a child molester you’re so disappointed you can’t help but start to root for Ellen Page’s character Hayley. He’s got that glint in his eye, that charismatic laugh. He’s got it all, just as so many predators do, the perfect blend of nice guy sexy to lure his victims.

The revenge Page’s character takes out on Wilson is calculated, diabolical. It’s hard to argue that Wilson’s character doesn’t deserve it, so I won’t. That said, there is a sense of the predatory to Hayley. She’s been working at this. She didn’t just find this pedophile in the street. She’s been hunting him, just as he’s been hunting his own victims. She’s been working overtime to concoct a trap for her prey. And what a trap it is. I’ve never seen a faux castration play so well on screen. She then, not unlike Hanibal Lector, goes straight for the mind. She knows how to get under Jeff’s skin, whispering what will happen if he doesn’t turn himself in, and ultimately, if he doesn’t kill himself, which is her ultimate goal.

I love movies in which there is no happy ending. For instance, my favorite movie of all time is Rosemary’s Baby. I love when no on wins. I get so sick of everyone living happily ever after. That’s not life. No, in a movie where the two main characters are both a little nuts, and one of them is an actual pedophile, motherfuckers are gonna die.

Using his ex-girlfriend against him, Hayley leads Jeff to the roof of his LA home where she slips a noose around his neck. This scene, in which she convinces him to commit suicide, is reminiscent of the famous scene in Hitchcock’s Rebecca in which Mrs. Danvers tries to convince the new Mrs. de Winter to jump from the window of Manderlay. Thankfully, Mrs. De Winter doesn’t jump. Jeff—the beautiful photographer with the seemingly perfect life—does jump.

One of the great things about this film is what makes other films like Rosemary’s Baby so amazing. Not one moment of child abuse is depicted on screen. The abuse is only ever vaguely spoken of. I don’t like torture porn movies where young people are hurt. I can’t handle that shit. Not only do I think it’s unseemly, but I also think it’s more effective to leave it all to the imagination. That’s where the real danger lies, in our mind.

Hard Candy is a great, low-budget psychological thriller that everyone should see. You’ll never watch Juno in the same way again.

The post The Film Cult Presents: Hard Candy appeared first on Screen Junkies.

]]>
http://www.screenjunkies.com/movies/the-film-cult-presents-hard-candy/feed/ 0 211 200_s
Review: “Tusk” http://www.screenjunkies.com/movies/review-tusk/ http://www.screenjunkies.com/movies/review-tusk/#comments Thu, 18 Sep 2014 14:17:15 +0000 Jared Jones http://www.screenjunkies.com/?p=265127 Tusk stretches its wafer-thin premise far beyond its breaking point, and the result is an all too long inside joke that looks like a poor man's Wes Anderson directed a homeless man's Human Centipede.

The post Review: “Tusk” appeared first on Screen Junkies.

]]>
By Jared Jones

A little less than a year ago, Kevin Smith claimed that he would retire from filmmaking upon completion of Clerks III. It was only a few months before he amended that statement, claiming that “From now until I drop dead, I’m only ever gonna make a flick that only I would/could ever make,” citing several of his past works (Cop Out, Zack & Miri) as films that “anyone” could make.

That being the case, I’d sure as hell like to know what Smith finds so unique about his latest effort, Tusk, which contains neither the sardonic wit that punctuated his more cherished works nor adds anything even remotely innovative to the torture porn genre it is supposedly parodying. Tusk isn’t nearly as hilarious or fresh as it thinks it is, resulting in a final product that looks like a poor man’s Wes Anderson directed a homeless man’s Human CentipedeThanks Kevin, but I’d have much preferred something closer to “The Midnight Coterie of Sinister Intruders.”

The wafer-thin premise of Tusk can be explained in less than a logline (“Lonely old man converts young douchebag into walrus”), likely because it was spawned during the recording of a podcast which itself was relaying an online classified Smith had randomly stumbled upon. That is not meant as a criticism, necessarily, as great ideas can and do often come from everyday inspiration. 2012′s Safety Not Guaranteed was similarly borne from a bizarre Gumtree ad and was one of the most memorable movies of the year because of (or perhaps, despite) it, but it is Smith’s inability to add anything to Tusk aside from its hook that truly drags it out of the “good-bad” territory it promises and into the “just bad” territory where it ends up.

But then again, perhaps I spoke too soon. I suppose Tusk *is* unique in its ability to overplay yet simultaneously undersell the few hands it tries to deal its audience over the course of its slow slog to the finish line. There isn’t a single “joke,” flashback, or cutaway in Tusk that doesn’t proceed to kill whatever momentum it builds up by overstaying its welcome, and each scene plays out with the kind of meandering carelessness that all but forces you to assume that Smith was making the whole thing up as he was going along. “Quirky” and “funny” are not interchangeable concepts, though Tusk seems to posit that they are, and the result is a 90-minute exercise in self-satisfaction that is too busy patting itself on the back for having the “balls” to commit to one inside joke that it never even bothers to attempt any others. The only thing missing from Tusk is an empty wine glass to fart in.

If Tusk fails as a comedy, it fails twice as badly as a horror movie. Justin Long, possibly in some sort of meta-commentary on his negative public perception, stars as Wallace Bryton, the most grating, unredeemable, and plain cliche horror movie protagonist ever written  Smodcasted. He insults locals and bashes their town, he says things like “Shut the front door” while speaking 20 decibels louder than those he is talking to, and he smugly brags about the money his podcast (HIS PODCAST!) generates in yearly ad revenue. He even cheats on his supermodel girlfriend with podcast groupies (PODCAST GROUPIES!!) because fuck it, why make him likeable in any way, shape, or form? Take every Friday the 13th, punk-ass teenager you’ve ever seen, add in a dose of hipster pretentiousness right down to the “throwback” pedostache, finish it off with a touch of Billy Zabka, and you’ve got Wallace Bryton.

Of course, it’s not like his girlfriend Ally (Genesis Rodriguez) is any more likeable. The scene in which she’s introduced, for instance, involves her giving Wallace what I can only assume would be a fantastic blowjob, then cutting him off halfway through it to talk about how he’s “changed.” He then belittles her for liking the old, nerdy Wallace, to which she nearly cries, shrugs, and then just goes right back to blowing him. WOMEN AND EMOTIONS AND STUFF, AMIRIGHT FELLAS? Oh, and have I mentioned that this movie wants you to believe that not only can a hot-shot podcaster with a pedostache score Genesis Rodriguez, but that Rodriguez would then cheat on him with present day Haley Joel Osment? A walrus suit made of human skin is one thing, but that is one liberty too many, Mr. Smith.

And I get it: Long’s character is supposed to be an asshole, and his ensuing torture is meant to serve as some sort of penance/punishment for the “monster” he’s become. What a profound and thrilling take on the horror genre, Mr. Smith! The only problem being that it replaces what empathy you should have for Wallace with apathy, especially when it comes to the relationship with his aforementioned smokeshow girlfriend, who is herself morally questionable at best, and the horrific torture he is put through.

Torture is usually a means through which absolution is achieved, otherwise it is just a means to the end that is sadism. While many a horror film have committed to the idea that we will identify and empathize with a character simply because they are in duress, Tusk reduces the idea of ”torture porn” to its most banal, which is really saying something. The story is actually constructed like a pornographic film, for one; there’s a scene of torture, then a scene of “plot,” then a scene of torture, and etcetera etcetera until the whole thing just kind of ends. And like a porno, the film grows increasingly tiresome after blowing its wad on the reveal of Long’s walrus suit, which happens approximately 45 minutes in. Add in some full penetration, and Tusk would have been the best movie that Dennis Reynolds never made. Even Haley Joel Osment is there to reprise his role as new Mac.

But more than everything else that’s wrong with this movie, Tusk commits the most painful offense of all in being a goddamn BORE to sit through. I could watch Michael Parks give salty-eyed recounts of his oceanic adventures with Ernest Hemingway all day, but between Tusk‘s lack of actual jokes and its constant slog between half committed attempts at establishing a tone, it makes an hour and a half feel like an eternity. Even when Tusk is flashing back to earlier moments from the film during its second and third acts, if you can call them that, whole lines of dialogue are added to those flashbacks to make up for the film’s inability to tell the most basic of stories. As such, the B-plot wherein Osment and Rodriguez attempt to track down Long unfolds like a Law and Order episode as written by a kid on the autism spectrum.

Like Smith’s previous effort, Red State, Tusk is simply too noncommittal and scatterbrained to ever reel us into what could be a compelling (albeit ridiculous) premise. After boring us to tears with an excruciatingly dull, every-horror-movie-you’ve-ever-seen setup, it simply throws a guy in a walrus suit at us and expects us to ooh and ahh because its all so wacky!! Is that Johnny Depp in a fake nose playing a private investigator with a French accent? Ooh la-la, this will never get old!

Lazy and incompetent storytelling does not equate to an original filmmaking style, and even if it did, Robert Rodriguez would have clearly claimed his place as the frontrunner of that movement. If Tusk is a movie that only Kevin Smith could make, then he might be better off selling his soul to write 20 million dollar buddy cop movies.

Grade: C-

The post Review: “Tusk” appeared first on Screen Junkies.

]]>
http://www.screenjunkies.com/movies/review-tusk/feed/ 0
‘I Saw the Devil’ and Four Other Korean Movies That Hollywood Should Stay Away From http://www.screenjunkies.com/video/i-saw-the-devil-and-four-other-korean-movies-that-hollywood-should-stay-away-from/ http://www.screenjunkies.com/video/i-saw-the-devil-and-four-other-korean-movies-that-hollywood-should-stay-away-from/#comments Tue, 16 Sep 2014 19:26:06 +0000 Jared Jones http://www.screenjunkies.com/?post_type=video&p=265074 You're doomed for the start with these endeavors, Hollywood, but if you are so insistent on Americanizing some of the near-perfect efforts that Korean cinema has to offer, just make sure you keep your filthy paws off these classics.

The post ‘I Saw the Devil’ and Four Other Korean Movies That Hollywood Should Stay Away From appeared first on Screen Junkies.

]]>
By Jared Jones

Spike Lee’s spectacularly misguided remake of the South Korean revenge classic Oldboy was a disaster in every sense of the term — the film earned back just $4 million of its $35 million budget, was rightfully lambasted by critics as being “disappointingly safe and shallow,” and even found itself dead center in the middle of a poster plagiarism scandal. As Sweet Dick Willie might say, Lee’s Oldboy was “thirty cents away from having a quarter.”

And the truth is, anyone with even the most cursory understanding of Oldboy could probably figure that it wouldn’t translate well with American moviegoing audiences. We may put on our rubber underwear and try to make it through a Saw movie without vomiting into our popcorn every Halloween, sure, but for whatever reason, the morbid sense of humor and absolute lack of boundaries that Korean thrillers have become infamous for don’t seem to sit well with us here in the US of A. And that’s fine, because in the case of absolute masterpieces like Oldboy, there’s really no need to remake them at all.

So with all that information in mind, you’d think it would be a while before Hollywood opted to put their spin on a highly-touted, incredibly-disturbing Korean flick, right?

HAVE YOU LEARNED NOTHING, SCREENJUNKARDS. Just weeks after Oldboy bombed, it was announced that stateside audiences would be receiving a completely unnecessary remake of Kim Jee-woon’s 2011 thriller, I Saw the Devil. The reason why? Well, allow producer Adi Shankar to explain:

Kim Jee Woon’s I Saw The Devil is perfect in so many ways. The intention is not to remake the film per se but rather to ‘port’ it console-style for international audiences.

You simply have to love a statement about a proposed remake that begins by admitting that the film being remade should not be remade. And as far as Shakar’s “port” comment goes, I can only counter by stating that I Saw the Devil has been readily available on Netflix since it was released and is therefore already “port”-able. Unless by “port,” Shakar means “translated into English,” because the need to remake foreign films that came out less than five years ago is forever justified by our cultural inability to handle subtitles. U-S-A! U-S-A!!

There I go, sounding all pessimistic again. To be fair, it appears that Hollywood has actually locked down a directing/writing duo that *could* do IStD justice — Adam Wingard and Simon Barrett (You’re Next, The Guest) — so maybe the remake won’t be a complete pile of excrement. But boy oh boy does it have some big shoes to fill.

At the end of the day, that’s really the trouble when it comes to remaking a film on the level of Oldboy or, to a lesser degree, I Saw the Devil — the original product sets the bar so high that not even James Cameron could rescue it. You’re doomed for the start with these endeavors, Hollywood, but if you are so insistent on Americanizing some of the near-perfect efforts that Korean cinema has to offer, just make sure you keep your filthy paws off these classics.

The Good, The Bad, and The Weird 

Given the film’s obvious nods to the spaghetti westerns of Sergio Leone and the Indiana Jones series, it would be hard to picture a remake of Kim Jee-woon’s The Good, The Bad, and The Weird coming off as anything but an inflated Clint Eastwood flick here in America. Still, if Woon’s I Saw the Devil turns out to be successful, it’s only a matter of time before his other efforts are at least considered for the same treatment. Everything about The Good, The Bad, and The Weird screams “summer blockbuster,” but it is the film’s inherent silliness that American directors would have the hardest time capturing, if you ask us.

The Host

Currently the second-highest grossing film in South Korean history, Bong Joon-ho’s The Host is prime for an American remake. A satirical send-up of B-level monster movies that is as brilliantly directed as it is acted, The Host combines the sardonic wit of Jaws with the eco-friendly message of Godzilla while paying tribute to everything in between. It’s the kind of popcorn flick that manages to be equally entertaining and thought-provoking, which is saying a lot about a movie centered around a “retard frog squirrel” as Herbert Garrison might put it.

But still, just watch how the scene above wherein said retard frog squirrel is revealed and ask yourself which American director could so brilliantly, effortlessly walk the line between slapstick silliness and sheer terror. That tracking shot alone is reason enough not to remake this movie.

Mother

Speaking of Bong Joon-ho, his 2009 follow-up to The Host is just as likely to receive the Americanized treatment as anything he’s ever done. Telling the story of an unnamed widow (Kim Hye-ja) who embarks on a quest to prove the innocence of her mentally undeveloped son after he is convicted of murder, Mother contains the kind of heartbreaking narrative that could easily make it an Oscar-contender here in the States. Much like Oldboy, Mother plays with the idea that knowledge can actually be the cause behind one’s suffering in their tireless pursuit of it, and is anchored by an incredible performance from Hye-ja. In fact, the film’s concluding moments are very much inspired by that of Oldboy, even if Joon-ho opts for what is pretty much the complete opposite resolution.

The Chaser 

One of the greatest cat-and-mouse thrillers ever made, The Chaser was released in 2008 to almost unanimous acclaim from critics and has already been green-lit for a remake. Warner Bros. purchased the remake rights to The Chaser for $1 million just months after the film hit theaters in South Korea, and everyone from Leonardo Dicaprio to screenwriter William Monahan (both of whom worked on The Departed, which was itself a remake of the Hong Kong gang thriller Infernal Affairs) have been briefly attached to the project. Thankfully, though, the remake seems to have hit a snag in development somewhere along the line.

While the prospect of seeing Leonardo Dicaprio star in something as truly violent and depraved as The Chaser is undoubtedly awesome, you’d be hard pressed to find a reason why this film should be remade. That its setting (the streets of Seoul) and restrained, realistic chase/fight scenes play an intricate part in the plot would render a remake all the more pointless for a moviegoing audience that repeatedly shells out their own money for a 150-minute Michael Bay ‘splosionfest. What? YOU DUG YOUR OWN GRAVES WITH THIS ONE, AMERICA.

The post ‘I Saw the Devil’ and Four Other Korean Movies That Hollywood Should Stay Away From appeared first on Screen Junkies.

]]>
http://www.screenjunkies.com/video/i-saw-the-devil-and-four-other-korean-movies-that-hollywood-should-stay-away-from/feed/ 0
The Film Cult Presents: Contact http://www.screenjunkies.com/movies/the-film-cult-presents-contact/ http://www.screenjunkies.com/movies/the-film-cult-presents-contact/#comments Fri, 12 Sep 2014 15:34:22 +0000 Philip Harris http://www.screenjunkies.com/?p=264986 Based on the Carl Sagan SciFi classic of the same name, and directed by Robert Zemeckis of Forest Gump fame, Contact is the tale of Ellie Arroway, a scientist who has devoted her life to finding evidence of alien life.

The post The Film Cult Presents: Contact appeared first on Screen Junkies.

]]>
Warning! Spoilers Ahead!

Remember when Jodie Foster was relevant? When her acting was pure and everyone related to her onscreen struggles? She used to show such range, such acting genius. And yes, I’m talking about Freaky Friday. Jokes aside, there was a time when Jodie Foster wasn’t the unofficially lesbian, ironic friend of Mel Gibson, when her craft was the gold standard. And yes, of course, as Clarice Starling in Silence of the Lambs, she was truly magnificent. In all honesty, however, I think she was better in this week’s Film Cult pick: Contact.

Based on the Carl Sagan SciFi classic of the same name, and directed by Robert Zemeckis of Forest Gump fame, Contact is the tale of Ellie Arroway, a scientist who has devoted her life to finding evidence of alien life. Not unlike Clarice Starling, Ellie is a bit of an outsider, the genius girl ready for her chance to shine. Well, Ellie gets it, damn the consequence. Not only does she find strong evidence of alien life, but said evidence is actually a blue print for a time space transporter she gets the privilege of using. When her pod falls through the building-sized, spinning three rings—man, only 2001: A Space Odyssey compares to the depiction of deep space on film.

Also thrown into the film, for spiritual conflict and terrible sexual chemistry, is the character Palmer Josh, played by none other than Mr. “all right, all right, alright” himself, Matthew McConaughey. This was when McConaughey was his most beautiful. His character is so conservative, so laced up. It’s hard not to imagine him naked. That said, Jodie’s real life sexuality seeps through the surface of her character, because their sexual tension is about as strong as mine is with my landlady’s dog. In fact, I’m more intimate with my—I’ll stop there.

This film has been the punch line of many jokes, never really getting the respect it deserves. It definitely hasn’t been canonized, and yet when talking to my nerd friends, each of them has something kind to say about this movie, how they loved it, and how they wish it was better known. I couldn’t agree more.

Ellie is facing an uphill battle. Anyone who spends their time waiting for Aliens to make a house call has to be a strong person. These people searching and searching are just another brand of outsider. Facing almost as much ridicule as Bigfoot hunters, Alien hunters rarely get any respect. They are persevered as silly, crazy folk. Yes, there’s the possibility that the green people are out there (I WANT TO BELIEVE) but no one, especially an over-educated, PhD should spend their lives waiting, listening to static out in the New Mexico desert. That said, Ellie, we get it. To chase something that may not be there, to yearn for the fantastic, is a calling. It’s a an answer to a question that only other people ask. To the person, to the devoted, there is no other option. There was never a question.

Yes, Contact, can read a little cheesy at times, but I’m alright with that. In the climax montage of Ellie’s journey through space, she sees a radio-transmission site on Vega, almost loses her compass, and falls (nauseatingly, I might add) through a few wormholes. And when she finally sees the “celestial event” about which she says they should have sent a poet, the camera zeroes in on her left eye, which to me is the most important statement of the movie.

I love how this movie takes the SciFi model and uses it as an entryway into the mind, into the self. Yes, Ellie must travel across the universe (literally) to see inside herself, to face her dead father, to come to terms with what happened to her. It’s a beautiful statement on the idea that once things become so big, they become exceptionally tiny, and vice versa. The universe contains our mind, and our mind, the universe. Through the wormhole, it’s all the same.

Trippy, pseudo-philosophies aside, Contact is a fun movie for SciFi nerds, movie buffs, or just fans of interesting storylines. Check it out if you haven’t seen it in awhile, and if you have never seen it, do yourself a favor and watch it. Also, check out a pretty fierce Angela Bassett as Rachel Constantine, the White House Chief of Staff.

The post The Film Cult Presents: Contact appeared first on Screen Junkies.

]]>
http://www.screenjunkies.com/movies/the-film-cult-presents-contact/feed/ 0 ContactMachine
The Film Cult Presents: Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work http://www.screenjunkies.com/movies/the-film-cult-presents-joan-rivers-a-piece-of-work/ http://www.screenjunkies.com/movies/the-film-cult-presents-joan-rivers-a-piece-of-work/#comments Fri, 05 Sep 2014 16:22:35 +0000 Philip Harris http://www.screenjunkies.com/?p=264721 On August 15th, I wrote about my favorite Robin Williams film, Hook, in tribute to his untimely and heartbreaking death. If you had told me then that less than a...

The post The Film Cult Presents: Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work appeared first on Screen Junkies.

]]>
On August 15th, I wrote about my favorite Robin Williams film, Hook, in tribute to his untimely and heartbreaking death. If you had told me then that less than a month later I’d be reviewing Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work because Joan Rivers—THE Joan Rivers—would also be dead, I wouldn’t have believed you. I would’ve told have told you to go fuck yourself because Joan Rivers was going to live forever.  And yet, here I sit. It hasn’t even been twenty-four hours that she’s left us.

I knew a lot about Joan Rivers before the documentary came out. I grew up with her daytime talk show. I watched her E! fashion recaps before they became what we all now know as Fashion Police. I’m a gay man; what can I say?  Loving Joan Rivers is kinda in the description. I knew that she was funny, that she had a daughter named Melissa, and that she had been around forever. But, when my best friend and I sat down one Saturday afternoon in the Laemlle theater in Pasadena to watch A Piece of Work, I realized I knew nothing of Joan Rivers.

A Piece of Work pulls no punches. Joan commented that there’d be no reason to allow a documentary to be made if she didn’t give full access to an outside production company. An in-house made documentary would wreak of bias, invalidity, and vanity. To let an independent, no-agenda crew come into your life is a brave concession. Thank god she did it. The Joan Rivers revealed in that hour and a half is a strong, complicated, workaholic with the eye of a tiger.

Following one year in her life, the documentary captures the end of a career slump for Joan. She had no heat in the industry. Fashion Police wasn’t back. Her reality show with Melissa wasn’t on, and everyone really only saw her as a plastic surgery freak who used to be on the red carpet. Starting at the end of that slump, during which she performed in the Bronx at four-thirty in the afternoon, A Piece of Work follows her into the beginning of what would be her third act. We’re right there with her as she struggles to get an autobiographical play off the ground and fails. We feel as tired as she does at three thirty in the morning when she hobbles into a Minneapolis hotel room and tells the man at the front desk, “I don’t care if it’s god himself. No one is to call my room until 6:30.” And when she books the Comedy Central Roast and wins Celebrity Apprentice  we cheer for her just as much as her staff does.

Celebrities are not squeaky clean. This has always been true. Everyone has a different side to them. Anyone who was as successful as Joan had to work doubly, triply, hard behind the scenes to make it look effortless. But not until A Piece of Work had there been a celebrity truly brave enough to allow the public so far behind the curtain. You know it’s going to be an honest portrayal of celebrity life when the opening montage is of Joan herself getting her make up done, foundation coating the plastic mask that show business made her get to stay relevant, her eyes peering through, ready to attack.

Other celebrities have been pouring their hearts out all afternoon, with Lena Dunham winning the award for greatest commemoration. Upon news of Joan’s death, she tweeted: “That being said, Joan is gone but a piece of her lives on: her nose, because it’s made of polyurethane.” That’s Joan’s legacy. She never apologized for a joke and knew that the only way to get through something, the only way to deal with pain was to laugh about it. Once you can laugh about something–death, homophobia, racism, national tragedy, body image–you can deal with it. A Piece of Work takes this head on when she’s heckled at a rural casino gig (“Where are we? I was in the casino earlier, put money into a slot machine and fish came out.”) by a man who has taken offense by a joke she’s made about Helen Keller. After he storms out, she says, “If we didn’t laugh, where the hell would we all be?”

Well, Joan, right now I feel a little lost. In moments when I didn’t think I could get my work done, when I felt my schedule was too crazy, or when I knew I should say yes to an opportunity when I wanted so badly to say no, I just thought about you walking through airports at four thirty in the morning all to make us laugh. Knowing you’re not out there right now telling off a heckler or quietly delivering meals to an AIDS patient kinda freaks me out. Without you fighting for the truth, without you hilariously using the very stereotypes that so many others use for hate, the world feels a little scarier and a whole lot less funny.

And finally, thank you for making me laugh. When you looked and smiled at that cheap wine bottle in A Piece of Work and giggled, “May.” Or when the thought of doing the Comedy Central Roast was so awful and you said to your driver, “Mohammad, can you stop the car so I can get out in front it?” Or on your reality show when you were showing your grandson the thirteen colonies and said, “See there used to be Indians all up and down here. Now they all have casinos, and thank god, cause if they didn’t Grandma wouldn’t have a job. [beat] We wouldn’t be able to buy you two different color grapes.”

In the last few months, Elaine Stritch, Robin Williams, Lauren Bacall, and Joan Rivers have died. It’s almost too much for a gay man to deal with. But, I will deal with it because Joan wouldn’t want me to stop because she’s gone. She’d want us all to keep working, keep loving, and most definitely to keep laughing. The world is less funny without you, but I know you and Robin are making the angels piss themselves at this very moment.

The post The Film Cult Presents: Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work appeared first on Screen Junkies.

]]>
http://www.screenjunkies.com/movies/the-film-cult-presents-joan-rivers-a-piece-of-work/feed/ 0 picture-82 STILL-6.jpg
The Film Cult Presents: The Heat http://www.screenjunkies.com/movies/the-film-cult-presents-the-heat/ http://www.screenjunkies.com/movies/the-film-cult-presents-the-heat/#comments Fri, 29 Aug 2014 17:38:57 +0000 Philip Harris http://www.screenjunkies.com/?p=264587 Warning: Spoilers Ahead! I’ll admit it: I’m not the biggest Sandra Bullock fan. I find her precious nature to be cloying and often tedious. I can’t sit through any of...

The post The Film Cult Presents: The Heat appeared first on Screen Junkies.

]]>
Warning: Spoilers Ahead!

I’ll admit it: I’m not the biggest Sandra Bullock fan. I find her precious nature to be cloying and often tedious. I can’t sit through any of the Miss Congeniality movies and not for a moment did I consider spending money on Gravity. I’ve nothing against her; I just don’t particularly like her movies. Except one, The Heat. And really, I only truly like this movie because Sandy is aggravated by the genius of Melissa McCarthy.

The Heat is your average formulaic buddy-cop comedy. Two strangers are forced into an unlikely partnership in order to take down a local drug lord; family gets involved; there’s a minor twist; yada yada yada. I didn’t even want to see this movie, and I definitely wasn’t going to see it in theaters. I only saw it because I had nothing to do on a Friday night (like every Friday night) and my parents had gotten it from Netflix. With no better prospects, I plopped down with them and was amazed at what I saw.

The brilliance of The Heat isn’t so much about the acting, which is great by the way, but more so about the writing. Gags in buddy-cop movies always feel like throw-aways, those stupid jokes that pock the surface of everything from Lethal Weapon to Dragnet. I was expecting these sorts of gags. Nope, these were actually funny.

Kate Dippold wrote The Heat, and I’ve decided I want to be her friend. Having written episodes for Parks and Rec, I guess it makes sense that The Heat would be a laugh a minute. And it is. Not that I timed it.

Character development in these sorts of comedies isn’t always easy, but from the jump we understand that Ashburn (played by Bullock) is an arrogant, blow-hard FBI agent. In the films first scene, she uncovers drugs and weapons when an entire team of operatives is unable to. She’s smug and no one likes her, even commenting behind her back “No wonder she’s single.” All these jokes play well. They set up who she is; they set up the possibility of future conflict. Why this scene (and the rest of the movie) is funny is due in part to the extra quips written in. After Ashburn has revealed more drugs and weapons are being stashed that meets the eye, another FBI agent looks at the sniff dug and yells, “Dick!” I’m sorry, shaming a dog for not finding illegal weapons is hilarious simply because you can’t believe that what you’re seeing is actually happening. But it is, and it just gets funnier.

Mullins, played by Melissa McCarthy, the most talented of the McCarthy family I should add, delivers some of the funniest lines with the driest delivery I’ve ever seen. When a nurse tells her she can’t use her mobile phone in a hospital she pulls a gun and says, “Oh yeah? How ‘bout now? Can I use it now?” When asked what time she’ll be returning to the station she says, “Go fuck yourself o’clock, okay?” But in true Kate Dippold fashion, the added quip, “…if there’s no traffic” just makes it all the more amazing.  When busting down a door in a drug dealers apartment only to discover an old woman on the toilet, she asks, “Who closes the door to take a shit?!” So good!

The Heat has been on the premium channels for a while, so I’ve seen it a lot recently, and whenever it’s on I cannot turn it off. It did well in the box office, but I don’t really remember that much about it when it was released. I know it more as being played on Netflix and on television almost always. Like I said before, the plot is exactly what you’d expect from the genre. That said, its popularity is beginning to grow. Tumblr is filled with gifs and screen grabs. My family and I quote lines all the time to each other: “I hope it burns your fucking dick off.” “I’m sorry I don’t have poached eggs in rubies for you to eat.” “Are you a narc?” Check out The Heat. It’s a hilarious movie you won’t regret having seen. Keep an eye out for the extraordinary secondary cast including: Jane Curtin, Marlon Wayans, Michael Rapaport, Tony Hale, Kaitlin Olson, and even Joey McIntyre from New Kids on the Block, who all make memorable, hilarious appearances.

 

The post The Film Cult Presents: The Heat appeared first on Screen Junkies.

]]>
http://www.screenjunkies.com/movies/the-film-cult-presents-the-heat/feed/ 0 2 tumblr_n0eap8S0IE1tq9jyzo7_250
The Film Cult Presents: American Gigolo http://www.screenjunkies.com/movies/movie-review/the-film-cult-presents-american-gigolo/ http://www.screenjunkies.com/movies/movie-review/the-film-cult-presents-american-gigolo/#comments Fri, 22 Aug 2014 16:56:10 +0000 Philip Harris http://www.screenjunkies.com/?p=264389 The Film Cult Presents: American Gigolo, the 1980 film about sex and fashion that became a cult classic for its eighties aesthetic.

The post The Film Cult Presents: American Gigolo appeared first on Screen Junkies.

]]>
After a few weeks of overly personal, emotional Film Cult columns, I thought I’d write on just a plain old campy mess of a movie called American Gigolo. Many of the movies I write about aren’t particularly well made but have some sort of lasting resonance with a small, but devoted fan base. Well, American Gigolo is a poorly made movie that I’m not sure has any devoted fan base beyond those of us who love eighties fashion and over-the-top kitsch.

Not unlike other classic cult films, say Showgirls for instance, the film makers made American Gigolo in complete earnest. Paul Schrader wrote and directed the film and really thought it was going to be a provocative gem. You may know Schrader from his work as writer (and co-writer) of such greats as Taxi Driver and Raging Bull. American Gigolo is not among his most well made films, but it’s certainly my ironic favorite.

Let me set the scene for you. It’s early 1980 in the City of Angels. Pastels rule landscape, and money flows down Rodeo Drive like cheap rosé. Women aren’t as powerful as they will be in the following decades and therefore are forced to stay home while their power-broker husbands work in wood-paneled offices in Century City. What’s a lonely and rich woman-of-a-certain age supposed to do with her days? Macrame? That was for their mothers. Soap Operas, sure, but all those commercials for wheel chairs and panty liners. Nope, in the land of palm trees and wide streets, a wealthy older woman with nothing but time on her hands wants one thing: to fuck a hot younger guy for money. The king of those male hustlers? Julian Kaye, portrayed by the baby-faced (but man-bodied) Richard Gere.

Julian is a man of distinguished taste and many languages. He owns a black Mercedes convertible, snorts only the best cocaine, and is exclusively bedecked by Giorgio Armani. He runs a fast life, zooming up PCH or out to Palm Springs for whatever adventures his clients have planned for him. But, is his life too fast? He encounters “rough tricks”,  run-ins with drug dealers. Is he dancing to close to the edge?

The short answer is yes, he is. There’s danger everywhere he turns, from drugs to his gay pimp, with whom he’s always slightly flirting but also slightly afraid of. Of course, back in 1980, the gay community was something to be afraid of–men in leather, making out in dark clubs with chains and loud music. But the true danger Julian encounters is not the gay men whom he’s always seemingly just about to join. The real danger is Michelle Stratton, played by the eternal Lauren Hutton, with whom he’s in danger of falling in love. There’s not much to say about the plot as there isn’t really a plot. There’s a murder, some running, and some rock-bottom moments, and then of course, Michelle vouches for Julian and they finally allow themselves to be together. One doesn’t watch American Gigolo for the plot. That is, of course, if one’s getting drunk with their friends and wants a good laugh for the night. No, one watches American Gigolo for the aesthetic.

Not unlike Grey Gardens, American Gigolo is one of those cult classics that really only has a life because it so perfectly captures a specific moment in fashion. In Grey Gardens it’s the quirky, DYI fashions of Little Edie, while in American Gigolo, it’s the ultra-glam Beverly Hills set of 1980s Los Angeles. Mr. Schrader really doused American Gigolo with syrup in this respect. I know many a designer who has been influenced by this film, many men and women who cite American Gigolo as their style muse for evening looks and seasonal fashion lines.

Having Richard Gere and Lauren Hutton wear all of these fabulous clothes doesn’t hurt. Lauren Hutton was (and is) a model for all time, a beauty discovered by legendary fashion editor Diana Vreeland and heralded for not fixing the gap in her teeth. She is known for her philanthropy and activism, often spending months in Africa helping those less fortunate. All of that is ignored in this film however, since Mr. Schrader has essentially turned her into a mannequin. If she were a great actress, this would be different. Alas, she’s not. She’s beautiful, knows how to carry a woven red leather clutch, and is just vulnerable enough to believe she can crack Richard Gere’s muscled shell. And let me tell you, that’s enough reason to watch the movie.

Gere and Hutton dance around each other, surrounded by a world of shoulder pads, jersey dresses, and chunky jewelry. Their chemistry is real, which I can only imagine is another reason the movie was made. Re-watching it this week, I like to believe that if the movie were remade, Julian would be played by James Franco. Both are hams, and both are hot enough to pull off the whole vaguely gay hustler thing the character demands. Who would play Michelle? Hard to say. I think Idina Menzel would be great in the part. Maybe make it a musical and really gay it up.

God bless Paul Schrader. He had no idea he was making a mess, and he didn’t learn his lesson, seeing how he was also the director of The Canyonswhich was so awful it’s now masterpiece in debacle. That said, thank god Paul Scrader made American Gigolo. It’s the perfect post card for the fashion, decadence, and insanity of early eighties Southern California.

american_gigolo tumblr_lke1w3uIUC1qzhldso1_1280 tumblr_mf6bfjH0tN1rob81ao7_250 tumblr_n9zr98CZ0x1qakh43o1_r1_500 tumblr_nag5tx038l1qicqzso1_500

The post The Film Cult Presents: American Gigolo appeared first on Screen Junkies.

]]>
http://www.screenjunkies.com/movies/movie-review/the-film-cult-presents-american-gigolo/feed/ 0 tumblr_n9zr98CZ0x1qakh43o1_r1_500 tumblr_lke1w3uIUC1qzhldso1_1280 american_gigolo tumblr_lke1w3uIUC1qzhldso1_1280 tumblr_mf6bfjH0tN1rob81ao7_250 tumblr_n9zr98CZ0x1qakh43o1_r1_500 tumblr_nag5tx038l1qicqzso1_500
The Film Cult Presents: Hook http://www.screenjunkies.com/movies/the-film-cult-presents-hook/ http://www.screenjunkies.com/movies/the-film-cult-presents-hook/#comments Fri, 15 Aug 2014 16:30:57 +0000 Philip Harris http://www.screenjunkies.com/?p=264199 Like the rest of the world, I too have been mourning the untimely and tragic death of supernova comedian Robin Williams. My Facebook newsfeed has been blossoming with tributes, some...

The post The Film Cult Presents: Hook appeared first on Screen Junkies.

]]>
Like the rest of the world, I too have been mourning the untimely and tragic death of supernova comedian Robin Williams. My Facebook newsfeed has been blossoming with tributes, some annoying, others delightful. As the week comes to an end, I’ve found myself remembering more and more of his work, the breadth of his career mushrooming in my mind. I’ve written about Robin before in this column, most recently for his beautiful work in the quirky 90s film, Toys. I also briefly mentioned him in my review of The Adventures of Baron Munchausen as the detachable-headed King of the Moon, a role for which he was not credited and yet stole the show. There are many movies I could write about today: Jumanji, One Hour Photo, Patch Adams, or Death to Smoochy. None of these films became true classics in their genre, and yet all of them are memorable because of him. But, today I’m going to write about my favorite Robin Williams film: Hook.

The Peter Pan story had been told a multitude of times prior to the making of Hook. There had been live-action films, the Disney animated classic, stage productions, and even television specials. Was that reason it didn’t do well financially? Why Rotten Tomatoes gives it a 32%? Its critics sight an overabundance of sentiment and schlock. You know what I say to those critics? Who the hell cares? Hook is a brilliant film. Yes, it’s syrupy at times, but only in the best, most memorable ways possible. The greater themes of the movie—courage, self-discovery, the importance of family—all rise above any and all overly-sentimental traps throughout the film. And the only reason the film works, the only reason we can look past all that cloying storytelling, is Robin Williams.

As Peter, the overworked father being forced to holiday in England with his rambunctious family, Robin puts his inner demons to work. We see the darkness under the clown. He is angry and lashes out as his wife and children. On his face, from one moment to the next, can be seen rage, guilt, and disappointment, each expertly expressed by an acting master. He’s so convincing as the angry father that the transformation he’s about to undertake is even that much more powerful.

Once in London, he and his family stay with Wendy, the woman who raised him from childhood. Wendy is portrayed by the eternal Maggie Smith. Her fragile strength is disarming. When she tells Peter the truth of his identity, their chemistry is crackling. And why does she tell him who he really is? Well, Captain Hook (played by Dustin Hoffman) has kidnapped Peter’s children and demands Peter go back to Neverland to rescue them.

What follows is the journey we all must take. As an adult, Peter has forgotten who he is. He no longer sees the joy and fun in life, having forgotten how to play and use his imagination. Upon returning to Neverland, Peter becomes the classic skeptic, disbelieving everything. Having been ruled by a kid named Rufio since he left, the Lost Boys have been running wild without leadership, hoping that Peter would someday return. When he does, they can’t really believe it. In the movies first truly heart-wrenching scene, only one boy believes Peter is truly Peter Pan. He makes Peter kneel down and starts rubbing his face, searching for some proof that the ageing, stressed-out man before them is the great Peter Pan.

 

 

Sometimes, it takes the wisdom of an innocent heart to see who we truly are. As adults, we pour ourselves into our own children, our relationships, our jobs. But who are we? Did we forget how to play or what used to bring us joy? Let the child in you search your tired, caffeinated face for the eternal youth within. Robin is so vulnerable in this scene, allowing the young actor to reach into his soul. I often think the reason this film never did as well as it should have was because so many of us are discomforted by the idea of looking that closely at ourselves. Maybe what we’re witnessing in the above scene is too raw, too real for the average bro or chick to handle.

One of the other truly powerful scenes in Hook is the dinner scene. Once Peter has begun his training, he is exhausted. Swinging around trees isn’t as easy as it used to be. He sits down, ready for a huge meal, only to discover there’s no food in the steaming pots. It takes a game of insulting one another, of believing, to make the food appear.

 

 

These two scenes embody the theme of self-discovery in Hook. They show us that belief reminds us of who we truly are. And its this discovery that allows Peter the strength and courage to face his fears and rescue his children.

As we all now know, Robin wasn’t able to rescue himself. Perhaps he forgot the lessons Hook taught us all. Perhaps he forgot that in another world he would never age and adventure would always be just over the next hill. Maybe that’s where he went. I don’t know what demons possessed Robin, but I can tell you that even though they took his life, they have not won. As the fans have shown us in the last week, all of us still believe. Robin may have stopped believing in himself, but we will never stop believing in him.

When he finally takes ownership of whom he truly is, nothing can stop Peter from rescuing his children. He fights hook and wins. He delegates power and leaves the Lost Boys in able, kind hands. Still an adult, yet always a child, once the day is saved, he knows he must go back to the real world. He has a life there, a family and a job. But, after his adventures in Neverland, he is not the same. He is a man filled with love and hope, magic and belief. This is when we get to see Robin at his most energetic, crawling into Nana’s doghouse, making snow angels, and jumping onto window ledges. The family reunited, the film ends with Uncle Tootles flying around Big Ben.

Each of us has our own journey to take, our own revelations and self-discoveries to unearth. Let Hook be your starting and ending point for this journey. Let the magic of Robin’s acting show you how to feel. Let it allow you the space to cry and laugh, jump and play. Let the genius Robin Williams left behind remind you that even though we’ve all lost a friend, we still have his work, and that all it takes is one happy thought to fly.

The post The Film Cult Presents: Hook appeared first on Screen Junkies.

]]>
http://www.screenjunkies.com/movies/the-film-cult-presents-hook/feed/ 0 tumblr_lt127rRmmz1r2odkko6_250
The Film Cult Presents: Go http://www.screenjunkies.com/movies/the-film-cult-presents-go/ http://www.screenjunkies.com/movies/the-film-cult-presents-go/#comments Sun, 10 Aug 2014 18:32:56 +0000 Philip Harris http://www.screenjunkies.com/?p=263980 Warning! Spoilers Ahead! In the spring of 1999, just before I graduated from high school, I met a young man named Zoe. He was a few years older and, I...

The post The Film Cult Presents: Go appeared first on Screen Junkies.

]]>
Warning! Spoilers Ahead!

In the spring of 1999, just before I graduated from high school, I met a young man named Zoe. He was a few years older and, I thought, far worldlier than I. We met on a now defunct chat room late one night after my parents had gone to bed. I fell instantly in love with him and a few weeks later he took a bus into Hollywood one morning so we could meet. He had a black eye and over the course of that day he stole my watch, confessed that he lived in some detention camp for wayward youth, and told me he loved me. He’d told the authorities that he was going to his grandmother’s funeral. As an innocent kid from the LA burbs, all of this seemed terribly attractive and exciting to me. I lived with my parents in Glendale, where there was always fresh watermelon, newspapers, and plenty of protection.

Because of his lie to the authorities, Zoe was kicked out of his living situation and went to live with a friend who had a mobile home out in Yucaipa. The last time we spoke, after my parents’ banned me from seeing him, was on the phone one night after he’d gotten high with his friend, had sex with said friend, and called to tell me that he wanted me to see a movie called “Go.” He said this movie was exactly the kind of life he wanted us to live together—running wild, going to raves, taking drugs. As he spoke of this movie, of how much it meant to him, I realized that we would never be together. After all, I wasn’t even eighteen, and something about “Go” felt dangerous, like it had unleashed a devil in him from which I quickly withdrew.

I never saw Zoe again. I graduated from high school and went to community college. After Y2K failed to bring the melodrama it had promised, I became bored with life, caring nothing for my own future, giving no time to the venture of self. Then, one Saturday afternoon, my brother rented “Go” from Blockbuster.

“Go” is three interweaving story lines of multiple young people on the verge of danger at the end of the twentieth century. A girl tries to scam a drug dealer. A traveling Brit tries to outsmart a pimp, and two gay guys try to escape a pyramid scheme. The jokes are fast, not particularly smart, but always sarcastic, which resonated with me instantly. The plot is all right. It’s not brilliant, but it’s entertaining. The cast is phenomenal. Scott Wolf, Timothy Olyphant, Taye Diggs, Jay Mohr, and even Katie Holmes, each play major roles throughout. In fact, Wolf and Mohr are the aforementioned gay couple. It’s fascinating to watch each of these now mega-famous actors cut their teeth in a quirky film about a rave and drugs. Katie Holmes was still wholesome, while Timothy Olyphant made the perfect skeezy drug dealer who was equal parts hot and hilarious. Also, keep your eyes akimbo for a then unknown Melissa McCarthy toward the film’s end.

My brother and I loved it. We integrated quotes into our daily vernacular almost immediately: “Don’t go all 818 on me.” “I don’t even give my friends head.” “Look at your shirt, bitch. This ain’t Hawaii.” I saw what Zoe had loved about the film. None of the young characters appear to have parents. They all have cars and clothes and schedules fit for middle-aged, full-time workers. They were all pretending to be adults, not realizing that pretending to be something you’re not always turns out bad. Zoe wanted his life to be a movie in which beautiful teens are hit by cars and don’t die, in which your friends are always available to get high and go on adventures. As you can imagine, his life was not this. He was doing drugs in a mobile home out in the desert.

I knew my life wasn’t like the characters’ in “Go.” Hell, my life wasn’t even like Zoe’s. I didn’t do drugs and until then only ever did anything as dangerous as meet strangers off the internet, which, granted, was dangerous enough. Still, I knew that the characters in “Go” were still the cool kids in high school. That is, not me, which I’d grown to accept years earlier. Still, I wanted a taste of that life. The danger from which I’d originally detracted now seemed exciting to me.

Over the years, “Go” has actually become a family favorite. We watch it at least twice a year, each family member delighting in their own contained excitement of vicariously living a fictional character’s story arch. The jokes seem less funny, but the actors are all still beautiful, especially Timothy Olyphant who is shirtless throughout. I wonder if my family members ever wonder what their lives could have been had they gone on more dangerous adventures. To me, now a man in my thirties, “Go” seems almost innocent in its depiction of pre-2000 debauchery. Everyone thought the internet was going to take us to different worlds, never once thinking that it would eventually just make the world smaller. Justin Bieber was a six-year-old living in Canada. Facebook didn’t exist.

When my family now suggests we watch “Go” I always have to convince myself to watch it with them. I recently realized that the comfort of living vicariously through a character’s life is not something I need. In the years following my initial viewing of “Go”, I flew to Chicago to meet another man I met on the internet, spending a weekend with him in his dorm room and subsequently cheating on my boyfriend back in Los Angeles. I did the same a year later, this time going to a rave in San Francisco with a stranger, only to be stranded in a Sacramento parking lot at five the next morning. That same year, when I was nineteen, I popped a blood vessel in my right eye during a long weekend in Las Vegas. I shortly after dropped out of community college and soon found myself in Hollywood apartments at three in the morning with strangers, frequently allowing myself to dance in West Hollywood clubs until I was so dehydrated that I had to make out with bartenders for free bottles of water.

No, “Go” is not a way for me to live something I never got the chance to. “Go” is a reminder of the innocent kid I was and how that kid, because of a black-eyed druggie named Zoe, learned to never let any of my crazy, and sometimes idiotic, adventures go too far. For when I thought I might be in too much danger, when that devil would appear, I could hear Jay Mohr whisper a single word in my ear.   

 

The post The Film Cult Presents: Go appeared first on Screen Junkies.

]]>
http://www.screenjunkies.com/movies/the-film-cult-presents-go/feed/ 0 fhd999GOO_Timothy_Olyphant_002 fhd999GOO_Sarah_Polley_001 jay_mohr_scott_wolf_go_001
Screen Junkies Show: What’s the Best ’80s Action Movie Of All Time? http://www.screenjunkies.com/video/screen-junkies-show-whats-the-best-80s-action-movie-of-all-time/ http://www.screenjunkies.com/video/screen-junkies-show-whats-the-best-80s-action-movie-of-all-time/#comments Thu, 07 Aug 2014 17:46:38 +0000 bgoldstein http://www.screenjunkies.com/?post_type=video&p=263892 The '80s were packed with awesome action movies — but which one was the best?! We picked the top 16 contenders, threw them in a bracket, and assembled a panel to duke it out and decide which one was the Best '80s Action Movie!!

The post Screen Junkies Show: What’s the Best ’80s Action Movie Of All Time? appeared first on Screen Junkies.

]]>
The ’80s were packed with awesome action movies — but which one was the best?! We picked the top 16 contenders, threw them in a bracket, and assembled a panel to duke it out and decide which one was the Best ’80s Action Movie!! Today’s special guests: Kristian Harloff and Mark Ellis from Schmoes Know, and Jay Bauman from Red Letter Media.

Become a Screen Junkie! ►► http://bit.ly/sjsubscr

Click here to see more Screen Junkies Show ►► http://bit.ly/SJSPlaylist

The post Screen Junkies Show: What’s the Best ’80s Action Movie Of All Time? appeared first on Screen Junkies.

]]>
http://www.screenjunkies.com/video/screen-junkies-show-whats-the-best-80s-action-movie-of-all-time/feed/ 0
The Film Cult Presents: Cookie’s Fortune http://www.screenjunkies.com/movies/the-film-cult-presents-cookies-fortune/ http://www.screenjunkies.com/movies/the-film-cult-presents-cookies-fortune/#comments Fri, 01 Aug 2014 21:04:26 +0000 Philip Harris http://www.screenjunkies.com/?p=263680 Cookie’s Fortune was not a financial success, making just shy of one percent profit, and ask most people if they’ve seen it, they’ll probably reply in the negative. And yet, it’s a perfect film.

The post The Film Cult Presents: Cookie’s Fortune appeared first on Screen Junkies.

]]>
Here at The Film Cult I often review movies that happen to be personal favorites but for some artistic or technical reasons they aren’t actually very good. Cookie’s Fortune was not a financial success, making just shy of one percent profit, and ask most people if they’ve seen it, they’ll probably reply in the negative. And yet, it’s a perfect film. I recently reviewed Elizabethtown, another film about family in the south, and while I love that movie, it has a lot wrong with it. No such wrongs exist in Cookie’s Fortune.

The plot revolves around the death of Cookie, a family matriarch who, in the late twilight of her life, is beginning to forget things and spends most of her time thinking about her passed-on husband. She lives in a tiny town with quirky family members circling her all the time. Her trusty comrade is Willis, who ends up being the wrongly accused suspect of his dear friend’s death.

Cookie’s Fortune takes its time. The filmmakers introduce the slow pace of the Mississippi lifestyle gradually, carefully, ensuring that by the time the action starts you’re fully steeped in the culture: Beautiful women sing the blues. The local sheriffs fish together. The children play in the street and trains slither through heavy heat. Wide shots of the river or aerial shots of the town’s single traffic light linger just enough for you to relax, for your shoulders to drop.

The action itself is gradual with cautiously revealed characters and relationships. If the actors weren’t so talented, this gradual development might come off as tedious, but with Charles S. Dutton and Glen Close leading the pack, there’s no fear in boredom.

The light touch and comedic tone that warms the entire film plays as perfect counter balance to the gruesome aspects of the film’s central crime, the death of Cookie. The locals involved in the death are each quirkier than the rest, with Julianne Moore providing the most quirk in one of her most underrated roles. Her graduation to confident self-respect by the end of the film is one of the many delights the film has to offer.

The ensemble cast, cobbled together by director Robert Altman, works so wonderfully together that you forget Liv Tyler is Stephen Tyler’s daughter or that Lyle Lovett used to be married to Julia Roberts. They in habit their characters and deliver their lines with one hundred percent commitment, making the absurdity of some of the gags feel like high art.

From the moment of Cookie’s death, the audience knows who the killer is, and watching this cuckoo salad of suspects and family members try to figure out the mystery is a Shakespearean comedy of errors. You have the police, then the family, and then of course the other townspeople who just want to make sure everything will be sorted out by the Easter pageant. The plot in Cookie’s Fortune is a loose fitting garment perfect for that late spring heat. Like the rest of the film, it takes its time until the last moment when it all comes together and everything makes sense, sort of. The true killer is never found, but of course, what does happen is so much more delicious. Almost as delicious as catfish enchiladas.

Cookie’s Fortune didn’t change anyone’s lives. It didn’t stop the presses nor win any awards.  It’s a movie about family’s and pride, towns and their people. What a family doesn’t need is a scandal, but what you need is to see this film.

 

The post The Film Cult Presents: Cookie’s Fortune appeared first on Screen Junkies.

]]>
http://www.screenjunkies.com/movies/the-film-cult-presents-cookies-fortune/feed/ 0 Screen Shot 2014-08-01 at 2.01.25 PM cookie2
Why Adapting “The Last of Us” Into a Movie Is a Bad Idea http://www.screenjunkies.com/movies/genres-movies/action/why-adapting-the-last-of-us-into-a-movie-is-a-bad-idea/ http://www.screenjunkies.com/movies/genres-movies/action/why-adapting-the-last-of-us-into-a-movie-is-a-bad-idea/#comments Mon, 28 Jul 2014 21:41:09 +0000 DustinSeibert http://www.screenjunkies.com/?p=263442 I wish I could get excited about this one, but a movie adaptation of TLoU will most likely turn a complex and unique story into just another generic survival horror flick.

The post Why Adapting “The Last of Us” Into a Movie Is a Bad Idea appeared first on Screen Junkies.

]]>
I wish I could get excited about this one.

A big-screen adaptation of last year’s PlayStation 3 survival horror game “The Last of Us” is on its way, which should be exciting for fans of The Walking Dead, survival horror and anything George Romero ever touched or influenced.

I’ll bet a lot of die-hard fans of the game itself have a somewhat subdued sense of excitement, though, as concerns that no full-length feature film could properly capture the game’s story are valid. Full disclosure: “The Last of Us” was the last game I played on my PS3 before I sold the system and made room for the PlayStation 4. Between having a life, playing the game on “hard” difficulty and the Yellow Light of Death felling my aging system twice before I could finish it, I lived the story of Joel and Ellie for months, so I got pretty invested in the storyline.

Even if you blaze through the game quickly, it’ll still take you about 20 hours to give it an honest play-through, and if the movie hews faithfully to the game, we’re looking at a number of character development threads that can’t be captured well in a movie. The beauty of “The Last of Us” is its reliance on a slow-burn method of getting us acclimated to characters hours at a time, only to lose them in many cases. Since a film version would be two-and-a-half-hours or so on the long end, I can’t see how the movie wouldn’t come off as a hack job.

The only promising news I’ve read about the movie is the possibility that Game of Thrones ass-kicker Maisie Williams could get the role of Ellie, which means that Sony is at least taking casting seriously. But would the screenwriters have the balls to put Ellie in a somewhat ambiguous same-sex relationship, like the game’s “Left Behind” downloadable content did? Also, keeping the game’s excellent controversial ending intact would be nice, but would filmmakers shy away from it since it doesn’t fit into the tidy Hollywood aesthetic?

We’re all kinda going through zombie fatigue right now, much like the vampire fatigue that preceded it. If “The Last of Us” film winds up being just another zombie chase with little gleams of soul here and there, it’ll justifiably leave theaters just as soon as it gets there and wind up in Best Buy’s bargain bin. But it wouldn’t dilute the awesomeness of the game itself, as there have been a plethora of shitty movie adaptations of great video games that people still love.

Sure, it makes sense for Sony to turn “The Last of Us” into a film that would likely bring in a nice opening weekend haul from fans of the game alone. But I sure hope I’m wrong about the final product…lets just say my breath is not exactly bated.

The post Why Adapting “The Last of Us” Into a Movie Is a Bad Idea appeared first on Screen Junkies.

]]>
http://www.screenjunkies.com/movies/genres-movies/action/why-adapting-the-last-of-us-into-a-movie-is-a-bad-idea/feed/ 0 the-last-of-us
The Film Cult Presents: Toys http://www.screenjunkies.com/movies/the-film-cult-presents-toys/ http://www.screenjunkies.com/movies/the-film-cult-presents-toys/#comments Fri, 25 Jul 2014 17:15:02 +0000 Philip Harris http://www.screenjunkies.com/?p=263414 Warning! Spoilers Ahead! Toys didn’t get a fair shake. I saw it in the theater when I was a teenager, and the visual effects mesmerized me. It was a Magritte...

The post The Film Cult Presents: Toys appeared first on Screen Junkies.

]]>
Warning! Spoilers Ahead!

Toys didn’t get a fair shake. I saw it in the theater when I was a teenager, and the visual effects mesmerized me. It was a Magritte painting come to life. I never understood why I didn’t do well, especially with such a phenomenal cast. Toys was one of those movies that just didn’t click with audiences. Not only was it a flop at the box office, it was nominated for a Razzie, which by the way, it didn’t win.

Starring Robin Williams, Robin Wright, and LL Cool J, Toys tells the story of the Zevo family, which owns and operates the Zevo Toy Factory. The patriarch, who is about to die, decides to give the company to his brother, who in turn wants to start creating war toys, which his nephew Leslie (Robin Williams) thinks is a bad idea. One is inclined to agree with Leslie, seeing how introducing war toys into the magical world being almost literally painted before one’s eyes would be a travesty to the abounding magic. A family drama ensues, things get pretty dark, and then everything turns out okay.

One of the reasons the movie didn’t do well was because of its marketing. I really need to have a talk with marketing departments. I get that they are trying to attract the largest audience, the most money. “We gotta make our money back,” and all that, but come on. Don’t try to sell me a kid’s movie when what you’ve actually got is an art-house film swarming with surrealist imagery and sounds. I’m sure it’s no surprise to you that marketing departments are among the biggest (and most useless, yet necessary, if you can wrap your head around that) headaches in the film industry.

Toys was marketed as a children’s film, a film filled with fun characters, happy music, and beautiful cinematography. They couldn’t have gotten it more wrong. Toys is far from a children’s film. I’m not even sure it’s a film for grownups. Like so many of the films I write about, it’s for the displaced person who doesn’t want to leave the comfortable world they’ve come to know because they know the outside world is dangerous. Toys is for the outsider, that person who didn’t want to play war games with the other children, who instead wanted to create their own worlds by looking at the clouds, pondering the universe around them, and spinning through their imagination. They didn’t want to kill; they wanted to create.

Toys takes the imagination of these kinds of minds and puts it on film. The message is beautiful, and the acting is great. It’s a shame this film didn’t get more of an audience because it should be a classic. To me, and many others from the comments I see on Youtube and other media outlets, it is and will always be a classic.

One of the stunning aspects of the film is also the music, which in part may have had something to do with the film’s failure. Hans Zimmer and Trevor Horn did the music, and while beautiful and serene, there’s a sense of danger and distance to it. It’s sort of like when your in an airport in Belgium and you hear synth music pumping the background. Your jet-lagged; everything is beautiful, and some perfectly composed music the likes of which you’ve never heard of before seems to be following you around. It’s beautiful; but it’s different. And for American audiences in 1992, it may have been too different. You’d be hard pressed to find a copy of the soundtrack now, but listening to some songs on Youtube this week, I realized how ahead of their time they really were, and how stunning they sound now. It’s the same sound that Trevor Horn would later bring to Tina Turner’s album Wildest Dreams, which he produced the entirety of in 1995.

Tina Turner aside, Toys is a dark, broody meditation on the trappings of childhood. It’s the sort of film that questions the very notion of growing up. Who says one must leave the fantasy and toys behind? Grown ups in this film are marked as the kind of people who want to kill. That’s the message, that if you decide to grow up, you want to play at killing things. Who wants that? The alternative in Toys is to stay imagining, to stay alive through the magic of the imagination. Sadly, in this world where men and women who hold on to the child-like wonder of life (including the toys that accompany it) are labeled as weird, so much so that a movie that celebrates leaving open of the jeweled gates of childhood imaginings was thought too out there to be worth spending money on. Watch Toys again, groove to Trevor’s synths, and let your imagination out of the gate.

The post The Film Cult Presents: Toys appeared first on Screen Junkies.

]]>
http://www.screenjunkies.com/movies/the-film-cult-presents-toys/feed/ 0 zevo screen-shot-2011-10-28-at-11-13-03-am 5530980311_c438698765_o
The Screen Junkies Q&A: Dan Beers, Director of ‘Premature’ http://www.screenjunkies.com/movies/the-screenjunkies-qa-dan-beers-director-of-premature/ http://www.screenjunkies.com/movies/the-screenjunkies-qa-dan-beers-director-of-premature/#comments Fri, 25 Jul 2014 13:54:41 +0000 JasonIannone http://www.screenjunkies.com/?p=263379 If you loved Groundhog Day but felt there were too few jokes about Bill Murray's penis, then Premature is the film for you.

The post The Screen Junkies Q&A: Dan Beers, Director of ‘Premature’ appeared first on Screen Junkies.

]]>
By Jason Iannone

In real life, if you screw up, you’re stuck with your screw-up. There are no do-overs, no second chances, no nothing. If you met the most beautiful girl in the world and the first thing that comes out of your mouth is a literal puddle of drool, good luck taking that back ever. You’re forever known as Drooly to her, her friends, and anybody who watched you make a fool of yourself that day.

That’s the beauty of a movie like Premature, the story of a high school kid who just can’t get that all-important loss of virginity down pat. Luckily for him, whenever he doesn’t deposit in the right place at the right time, the Universe resets itself, sending him back to bed to start the day again until he gets it right. If you loved Groundhog Day but felt there were too few jokes about Bill Murray‘s penis, then Premature is the film for you.

To learn more about the film, we sat down with director Dan Beers for a fun-filled and family-friendly Q&A. Namely, this one:

ScreenJunkies: Did you have any concerns about re-using a concept from such a famously unique film like Groundhog Day?

Dan Beers: We did, especially since that movie is an all-time favorite of mine. What happened was, there was another movie I was in the process of making, but that didn’t pan out. That film’s producer, Film Nation, invited me to pitch any new ideas, so my writing partner, Mathew Harawitz, and I were brainstorming what to do, and we came across this idea of doing a time loop movie a la Groundhog Day. Plus, I’m a huge fan of ‘80s-style teen comedies like Porky’s. Finally, we settled on the idea of a movie where a kid is forever being stuck in the worst possible time: trying to have sex for the first time.

SJ: What made you decide to add an explanation for the time loop, instead of keeping it vague?

DB: In early drafts, we had a more concrete explanation: a curse (much like in the original draft for Groundhog Day). But ultimately, we decided to give Rob the idea that he was making choices not for himself, but for his parents and his friends, and he wasn’t being true to himself. And we liked the idea of the universe kind of giving him a little nudge, giving him the opportunity to do over things he was doing wrong.

The idea for the trigger for the day, that being the orgasm, we had fun with the idea. It’s kind of like those movies where there’s a bomb under the table, and you know it’s going to go off, you just don’t know when. And for us, that was a lot of fun, the idea that the orgasm is the bomb, and every day it will happen, you just don’t know when.

SJ: Right, like the point where the cops are coming and he’s trying to jerk off in the locker room, but he might have hurt something down there.

DB: I think it was Day 5 when he realized what he could do, when he was trapped in the classroom with the bullies and he realizes he’s trapped but he can escape by just …

SJ: “Yep, I can just jerk off.”

DB: Right, it’s like a little bit of an action movie scene: are the bullies going to break in, or will he have an orgasm?

SJ: Ever come across an interviewer as damaged as the Georgetown recruiter guy?

DB: I have never come across anyone as damaged as that, thankfully. But we were trying to think of something like: you’re in an interview, what would be one of the worst things that could happen? You prepare for the day, you go through everything, all the questions memorized in your head, but the one thing you’re not prepared for is for this person to be just a well of emotions, a guy who came back to work a little too soon after this tragedy in his life. But thankfully, I’ve never come across anyone nearly that damaged for real.

SJ: Well, that’s good.

DB: What’s funny about the actor who plays him, Alan Turyk, we were shooting in Atlanta and he was already down there shooting 42, and he was playing this really awful, mean, racist character, and Alan was having a really hard time playing this person as long as he was. So he came in to read for the role and he was in such a dark place that he was just able to cry instantaneously.


(‘Premature’ official red-band trailer, via JoBlo)

SJ: Did you ever reach out to Bill Murray to cast him in the lead role, or was the idea of filming Bill with cum in his pants kind of a turn-off?

DB: *laughs* Actually, the role that Alan played (the Georgetown recruiter) was originally something I was hoping to approach Bill about. I actually know him, because I worked with Wes Anderson for about five years, and so I know Bill through him. He actually acted in the short film I had made, but I think he had already done me my one favor, so I don’t think he was going to come back and do it again.

SJ: You also did a TV series (FCU: Fact Checkers Unit). What’s more enjoyable and fulfilling for you: movies or TV?

DB: They both offer you different challenges. Movies are my first love though, because there’s just something nice about crafting a whole story over a set period.

For TV it’s something very different, and even though every episode of my series had its own little story, if I had to go back and do something again for TV, I would provide a longer arc for the characters. But that’s what’s so great about TV: letting a character really live and breathe for a long time, instead of knowing by the end of Act 1 they have to have that one moment. Because in movies there’s a formula: there’s an Act 1, Act 2, and Act 3, and all these little beats they have to hit. It’s nice to have a season or five for a character to really find his or herself.

Another good thing about TV is that it’s so fast, and the shoots are so quick, you don’t have time to think. You have to move and meet your five-day deadline. It presents a fun challenge, but movies are still definitely my first love.

SJ: Would you ever want to do something more mainstream, or is indie comedy your thing?

DB: Well, yeah. I think my dream is to make movies that people will see. I think that’s everyone’s dream, right? The next thing I’m working on is a little bigger in scope, a little bit less orgasmic. But IFC has done a fantastic job with this one — when they came on board, I was really excited because they had a clear vision on how to sell the movie, and I’m really thrilled with what they’ve done.

I grew up during the indie craze of the ‘90s, when tons of films were coming out in arthouse theaters all the time. Now things are very different, and the new arthouse theaters are TVs and VOD’s, and digital with iTunes. So how do you reach an audience now with all these movies that want to be seen? It’s a new format, so I was thrilled with how IFC handled it.

But I think if I get bigger and if I move into the studio role, I’d be looking for that ideal mix.

SJ: Yeah, that happy medium where a lot of people know of your film and go see it in theaters all across the country, but also having the freedom to craft something the way you would want. As opposed to writing something and having 15 different producers turn it into something totally different.

DB: Exactly. I was lucky I got to make the movie that I wanted to make, and the producers were great and let me do what I wanted for the most part. I was pretty clear about what I wanted to do and they were on board, thankfully.

Download Premature on iTunes here!

The post The Screen Junkies Q&A: Dan Beers, Director of ‘Premature’ appeared first on Screen Junkies.

]]>
http://www.screenjunkies.com/movies/the-screenjunkies-qa-dan-beers-director-of-premature/feed/ 0
The Film Cult Presents: Elizabethtown http://www.screenjunkies.com/movies/the-film-cult-presents-elizabethtown/ http://www.screenjunkies.com/movies/the-film-cult-presents-elizabethtown/#comments Fri, 18 Jul 2014 16:10:50 +0000 Philip Harris http://www.screenjunkies.com/?p=263157 Warning! Spoilers Ahead! Five movies after the last of The Lord of the Rings trilogy, in which he played eternally-fare, arrow-wielding Legolas, Orlando Bloom teamed up with Cameron Crowe to...

The post The Film Cult Presents: Elizabethtown appeared first on Screen Junkies.

]]>
Warning! Spoilers Ahead!

Five movies after the last of The Lord of the Rings trilogy, in which he played eternally-fare, arrow-wielding Legolas, Orlando Bloom teamed up with Cameron Crowe to make a movie steeped in sentimentality, forced “moments”, and a pretentious soundtrack. Kristen Dunst looks like she’s competing for hipster of the decade, and I am not even really sure why Paula Deen is among the cast. That said, Orlando’s American accent not withstanding, Elizabethtown is one of those movies that never got a fair chance. Yes, everything I said is true, but Elizabethtown is one of those movies I can’t shake, and ever time I bring it up to someone who has seen it, they can’t help but gush about how much they love it. How can a movie so obviously flawed be so good?

The plot of the movie is pretty straightforward. Orlando plays Drew Baylor, a business and marketing genius about to launch a shoe that will change the world of covered feet. On the release of his grand invention, he discovers the product is a dismal failure which will lose his company over 900 million dollars. Later that night, his girlfriend dumps him, and just as he’s about to commit suicide, he gets a phone call from his sister telling him his father has died. He’s then asked to take his father’s favorite blue shirt to Elizabethtown, Kentucky for the funeral.

We never meet Drew’s father. We never see them together, and when the father appears in flashbacks or family photos, he’s so unfamiliar that one doesn’t really feel anything for him. A movie maker of Cameron Crowe’s caliber knows what he’s doing, however. The emotional thread of the film is that Drew, because of the flop of his multi-million-dollar shoe, can’t process his father’s death. He’s numb and can’t cry over the fact that his father has died. In this, Drew’s numbness mirrors the viewer’s apathy toward to the father character. I’m not sure that once Drew releases his emotions during the road trip that punctuates the film’s end is enough for us to have the same reaction, but I definitely shed a tear every time I see that moment, which we’ll get to in second.

On his way to Kentucky, Drew meets Claire Colburn, played by Kristen Dunst. Her over-familiar, bubbly hipster schtick is overwrought and borders on tedious throughout the whole film. In fact, I credit her strange character, and the subsequent relationship she has with Drew, with overshadowing the rest of the film as bad. Herein is the movie’s largest flaw. It’s marketed as a romantic comedy, when really it’s about acceptance and grief. Ignoring the banal relationship these two troubled, yet beautiful, people undergo is the best way to watch Elizabethtown. The relationship aside, there are some truly poignant moments in the film.

In Elizabethtown, Drew is reunited with the Southern family he’s never known. These are the first of the more poignant moments the film offers. There’s nothing quite as special as being welcomed by a group of people who love you and are related to you for no other reason than you are family. The montage of him being introduced to his family and friends in that big southern house reminds one of being a child, surrounded by all the adults I naturally took for granted but were gone too soon. You can almost smell the food and hear the gossip and television in the background.

The other poignant moment is the one I mentioned earlier, when Drew finally succumbs to the emotions of his father’s death while on the road trip Claire has constructed for his return to the west coast. With his father’s ashes seat-belted beside him, Drew takes his father on the road trip they never had, scattering his ashes at some of the country’s most important landmarks. The moments at the landmarks are cheesy, but the solo car moments are beautiful. It’s those moments in the car, those deep revelations only found on long car trips with oneself that bring Drew, and me, to tears. You can see Drew’s mind working through the past, letting things go, and yet despite the shoe debacle, the new girl with whom he’s about to reunite, and the huge family he just rediscovered, it’s when he’s by himself that he remembers a single moment playing with his father as a child. We see a young drew pumping his hand up and down, his father doing the same, and then we cut to adult Drew in the car, finally facing responsibility, doing the same gesture, crying his heart out.

Along with a few moments of pure comedy—Susan Sarandon’s eulogy and tap dance routine, the other guests at Drew’s hotel, and Alec Baldwin’s cameo—these aforementioned poignant moments make this movie a personal favorite and an un-heralded cult film. If you’ve never taken a road trip with your dad, if you’ve never allowed yourself to be swallowed by your family, you should watch this movie. And if none of those things sound appealing to you, you should watch it merely for the fact that Orlando Bloom is so beautiful in regular, non-elf clothing, that it’s almost uncomfortable to behold. Almost.

The post The Film Cult Presents: Elizabethtown appeared first on Screen Junkies.

]]>
http://www.screenjunkies.com/movies/the-film-cult-presents-elizabethtown/feed/ 0 suicide bike MCDELIZ EC011 tumblr_n0ptcyMu8Q1rrm2zoo2_500
Conan O’Brien Is Headed For the Big Screen (Sort Of) In Syfy’s ‘Sharktopus vs. Pteracuda’ http://www.screenjunkies.com/video/conan-obrien-is-headed-for-the-big-screen-sort-of-in-syfys-sharktopus-vs-pteracuda/ http://www.screenjunkies.com/video/conan-obrien-is-headed-for-the-big-screen-sort-of-in-syfys-sharktopus-vs-pteracuda/#comments Tue, 15 Jul 2014 18:20:33 +0000 Jared Jones http://www.screenjunkies.com/?post_type=video&p=263021 Whether it's Piranhacondas, Gatoroids, or Mansquitos, the Syfy channel has become the foremost creator of poorly-rendered monstrosities. Conan will fit right in.

The post Conan O’Brien Is Headed For the Big Screen (Sort Of) In Syfy’s ‘Sharktopus vs. Pteracuda’ appeared first on Screen Junkies.

]]>
By Jared Jones

What the Syfy channel’s line of original films may lack in competent acting, direction, writing, visual effects, lighting, sound, and craft services, they more than make up for in their ability to combine two giant creatures into one giant hybrid creature and have that giant hybrid creature fight another giant hybrid creature for our entertainment. Whether it’s Piranhacondas, Gatoroids, or Mansquitos, the Syfy channel has become the foremost creator of hybrid, poorly-rendered monstrosities — most notable among them being the Sharktopus, which was birthed unto this earth back in 2011 only to vanquished via brain bombs by noted thespian Eric Roberts shortly thereafter, Amen.

Regardless of the Sharktopus’ fate (or the film’s abysmal reception even among Syfy movies), the Syfy channel has announced plans to release *two* sequels featuring the half-shark half-octopus this year, starting with Sharktopus vs. Pteracuda. Given how much attention Syfy has received for Sharknado and its upcoming sequel, Sharknado 2: The Second One, it was only a matter of time before they started pulling in celebrities of a higher caliber than Jared the Subway Guy and Mark McGrath, right?

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you…

Yes, this is a real poster. In fact, it is one which Conan O’Brien actually had plastered on a Hollywood billboard to hype his upcoming cameo in Sharktopus vs. Pteracuda, which he announced on his show last night. It’s so goddamn glorious I think I might cry.

A quick look over O’Briens Wikipedia page reveals that he has never appeared in a live-action movie where he didn’t play himself. While it’s not known whether Conan will be donning an actual role in Sharktopus vs. Pteracuda or simply showing up to be eaten by one of the creatures, Joey Fatone in Jersey Shore Shark Attack-style, you can pretty much guarantee that this movie will go down as the most watched Syfy original film in the channel’s history thanks to the fierce dedication of #TeamCoco.

One can only hope that Sharktopus vs. Mermantula is able to pull a twofer and bring in both O’Brien and Chuck Norris as Walker, Texas Ranger.

The post Conan O’Brien Is Headed For the Big Screen (Sort Of) In Syfy’s ‘Sharktopus vs. Pteracuda’ appeared first on Screen Junkies.

]]>
http://www.screenjunkies.com/video/conan-obrien-is-headed-for-the-big-screen-sort-of-in-syfys-sharktopus-vs-pteracuda/feed/ 0 sharktopusconan
Viewer Discretion Advised: Eight Of the Most F*cked-Up Movies Ever Made http://www.screenjunkies.com/movies/genres-movies/cult-films/viewer-discretion-advised-eight-of-the-most-fcked-up-movies-ever-made/ http://www.screenjunkies.com/movies/genres-movies/cult-films/viewer-discretion-advised-eight-of-the-most-fcked-up-movies-ever-made/#comments Tue, 15 Jul 2014 01:00:27 +0000 bgoldstein http://www.screenjunkies.com/?p=262984 By Dustin Seibert During a recent transatlantic flight, I had the occasion to watch Martyrs, a 2008 French horror film that just made its way to iTunes this year. Part...

The post Viewer Discretion Advised: Eight Of the Most F*cked-Up Movies Ever Made appeared first on Screen Junkies.

]]>
By Dustin Seibert

During a recent transatlantic flight, I had the occasion to watch Martyrs, a 2008 French horror film that just made its way to iTunes this year. Part of the “New French Extremity” movement, “Martyrs” is one of a number of movies from the country in recent years with transgressive (read: totally f*cked-up) content that has resulted in controversy, outright bans and heavy edits in order to be released in certain countries. Needless to say, my wife had a few choice words for me every time she glanced over at my iPad while Martyrs was playing.

Only a couple of the films on this list are considered New French Extremity Movement, but they all have a few things in common: First, none of them would ever, ever, ever be released as their director intended through a mainstream Hollywood studio. Second, you don’t wanna watch any of these flicks with a woman you just started dating unless she’s really “alternative” or particularly open-minded. Finally, with few exceptions, these films don’t bother with happy, tidy denouements…the likes of which often drive American cinema.

Some critics find reasons to praise films like these on this list as “haute art cinema,” using adjectives like “beautiful” and “thought-provoking.” But if we’re keeping it one-hunnid, much of this stuff is pure exploitation from the minds of people looking to push the envelope as far as they can. And nothing’s wrong with that — as long as your stomach can handle it.


1. A Serbian Film:
Easily one of the most disturbing films ever put to celluloid, A Serbian Film is the feel-good story of a down-on-his-luck porn star who agrees to submit to extreme acts for a snuff film. I could list some examples of the worst moments, but there’s almost too much to choose from — it’s as if the film’s writers sat down with a 20-sided die, with each side representing a morally repugnant, sexually violent act, rolled a few and tossed the results in the film’s final version. There’s simply no leeway with this one, which is why it’s been banned in a bajillion countries or ridiculously edited in a few of the countries willing to screen it. The film’s final act will make you cry and throw up at the same time. Approach with caution.


2. A L’interieur (Inside) (2007):
One of the best horror movies I’ve seen in the past decade, the film does just about everything right to cook up genuine dread and tension, not to mention bucketloads of gore. A simple home invasion flick at heart, the story involves a mysterious French dame going after another French dame, who happens to be bursting-at-the-seams pregnant, in her own crib. The invader’s goal: cut the unborn baby from her stomach. The aggressor has her reasons, but I’ll leave that for you to discover on your own. No movie on this list comes more recommended than this one.


3. Irreversible (2002):
The first movie I ever watched on this list, I wasn’t quite prepared to watch what they subjected Italian sex kitten Monica Bellucci to in this film. Her 9-minute vicious rape and beating still stands as the most psychologically intense assault I’ve ever seen on screen (including the other films on this list). Between that and the head-splooshing beating in the beginning of the film (which plays in reverse chronologically), this French film will stay with you long after you hit the stop button; unlike most others on this list, it received legitimate honors in film festivals.


4. Salò, or The 120 Days of Sodom (1975):
Not quite sure where to start with this one, outside of the fact that there’s probably no other film in existence that revels in making its performers eat shit. Literally. A handful of rich, amoral bastards in post-Mussolini 1940s Italy kidnap a bunch of teenagers and subject them to every act of filth-flarn-filth, including rape, eating biscuits filled with nails and getting branded, scalped and forced to eat trays of crap. It’s subtitled, grody, and otherwise pretty lame to sit through. For curious masochists only.


5. The Human Centipede II (Full Sequence) (2011): The original Human Centipede was more of an exercise in gross ideas and less in graphic imagery. But when writer/director/clearly normal human being Tom Six was criticized for not having enough gore in it, he said, “Oh yeah, well fuck y’all!” and created a sequel where he went balls-to-the-wall. There’s a lot to pick from in this film, but the scene of the antagonist plucking out a victim’s healthy teeth one by one? I may have actually winced, and I’m an effing statue.


6.
Battle Royale (2000): I’ve always considered Battle Royale the spiritual predecessor to The Hunger Games. Except, the latter book was able to be adapted into a Hollywood film palatable for mainstream audiences, while I can’t see how on earth Battle Royale could work in Hollywood. One of the least gory films on this list, it’s still screwed up by virtue of the fact that it focuses on kidnapped high schoolers violently dispatching one another. Those Japanese, boy…


7. I Spit on Your Grave (original and remake):
These movies are about a woman getting delicious — and very violent — revenge on her attackers. The issue is, her revenge comes after a brutal, unflinching gang rape that the camera almost seems to delight in. After 36 years, it’s still considered incredibly controversial and disturbing, having invited the ire of many well-respected film critics. The original’s creator promises it’s a feminist film, but let’s be honest: most women wouldn’t get anything from watching this movie except justifiably upset. A remake was released in 2010 (which spawned a sequel in 2013), so clearly there’s still an audience for it.


8. Aftermath (1994):
It’s difficult to even categorize this as a movie so much as a perverted man’s idea of art, though some folks are happy to consider it so. Filmed almost entirely in a morgue, the 32-minute flick is disturbing not just for its depiction of autopsies (which basic cable made less taboo a decade ago) but for its unnamed mortician’s masturbation over and sexual defilement of a young lady’s corpse. I suppose there’s some masochistic, perverse gain from watching this once, but I have to wonder about the person who, say, watches it more than once or purchases it on DVD.

The post Viewer Discretion Advised: Eight Of the Most F*cked-Up Movies Ever Made appeared first on Screen Junkies.

]]>
http://www.screenjunkies.com/movies/genres-movies/cult-films/viewer-discretion-advised-eight-of-the-most-fcked-up-movies-ever-made/feed/ 0
The Screen Junkies Top Six: Damn Dirty Ape Movies http://www.screenjunkies.com/movies/the-screen-junkies-top-six-damn-dirty-ape-movies/ http://www.screenjunkies.com/movies/the-screen-junkies-top-six-damn-dirty-ape-movies/#comments Thu, 10 Jul 2014 14:09:15 +0000 Jared Jones http://www.screenjunkies.com/?p=262886 By Jared Jones The conjunction-heavy Dawn of the Planet of the Apes hits theaters this weekend and is all but guaranteed to dominate the box office. Why? Three words: Oldman, bazooka, monkeys....

The post The Screen Junkies Top Six: Damn Dirty Ape Movies appeared first on Screen Junkies.

]]>
By Jared Jones

The conjunction-heavy Dawn of the Planet of the Apes hits theaters this weekend and is all but guaranteed to dominate the box office. Why? Three words: Oldman, bazooka, monkeys. But most importantly, monkeys. Dancing with toothbrushes, sniffing-their-own-butt-before-falling-out-of-a-tree monkeys.

Our cultural obsession with primates runs deep, ye, and goes far beyond the secret desire to fling feces at one another which WE ALL HAVE. To most of us, the monkey represents not just our primitive precursor on the evolutionary scale, but the carefree, childlike state of being we once possessed before life crushed it out of us. And while, scientifically speaking, there has never actually been a bad movie about and/or featuring apes, there are a few films in particular that rise above rest.

Which is why for our inaugural installment of The Screen Junkies Top Six — a new recurring column which previews an upcoming release by highlighting the greatest movies of its kind to come before it — we pay tribute to the greatest monkey movies of them all.

I swear to God, if even one of you dares point out that there is a difference between monkeys and apes before I’m done, I will turn this car around.

#6: The King Kong Franchise

Look, we all know that the King Kong movies are great (except Mighty Joe Young. F*ck Mighty Joe Young.) but I’ll be damned if I’m going to use this brief opportunity to talk about a bunch of movies you’d have to be an amoeba to not have seen by now. My personal favorite is the 1976 version starring Jeff Bridges and a prime Jessica Lange‘s barely-clothed body. That waterfall scene where a puffy-faced Kong literally blowdries Dawn…I wouldn’t know what it felt like to be so turned on and simultaneously disgusted again until I saw Halle Berry bang Billy Bob Thornton in Monster’s Ball.

#5: Congo 

Nonsensical, overly long, and surprisingly dull for a movie that features silverback gorillas and lasers, Congo has nonetheless garnered a huge cult following for being classic “so bad it’s good” filmmaking. It’s the kind of movie that was destined to be discussed on the very excellent How Did This Get Made? podcast, and thankfully, it was. It’s also a movie that tries to pass off  ”communication diamonds” as something other than an idea plucked from the head of a small child who had been rendered comatose by his father’s baseball bat.

Was that too dark? It sure felt that way. The point is, Congo is an absolute trainwreck of a movie that has somehow earned a memorable place in the annals of film history despite its inherent ridiculousness.

#4: Link

In this movie’s grand finale, a super-intelligent orangutan dressed in people clothes triggers a gas leak explosion by lighting a cigar. The entire scene is set to carousel music. You can check out the entire film on Youtube right now. You are welcome.

#3: Every Which Way But Loose

If the idea of watching a young Clint Eastwood and an orangutan named Clyde bare-knuckle box their way across the country doesn’t sound appealing to you, we cannot be friends. Before I even knew that this movie existed, that last sentence was literally the context of about 95% of my dreams. Every Which Way But Loose takes your classic buddy comedy and swaps a in a monkey for the Nick Frost/Chris Farley role, which marks the only time in the history of words that David Spade has ever been tangentially compared to Clint Eastwood. For which I am deeply, deeply sorry.

Anyways, Eastwood beats people up, Clyde flips them off (see above), and the result is cinematic gold. Two years later, Turner and Hooch would rip off this idea and become another late-’80s hit for Tom Hanks, despite the fact that dogs can neither tear apart cars piece-by-piece nor flip some proper birdage.

#2: The Jungle Book 

Did you know that those greedy corporate fat cats over in Hollywood are planning a live-action remake of Dumbo? Or that it will be penned by the guy who wrote Transformers 2-4? This can only mean, of course, that a live-action Jungle Book is on the way to sweep up whatever shattered memories of our childhood remain after that atrocity finishes destroying them…

What’s that? You say they already made a live-action Jungle Book movie? And that it starred Jason Scott Lee? Welp…

#1: Dunston Checks In

Finally, a true classic of American cinema.

The IMDB page of Dunston Checks In describes the plot of the film as such:

Young boy befriends larcenous orangutan in luxury hotel.

Classic undersell, IMDB. Sure, DCI is about a boy and a monkey and the hotel-based hijinks they commit on a surface level, but whoever wrote that poorly-worded synopsis was clearly missing the film’s subtext. Dunston Checks In is more than just interspecies bubble baths and cake fights (although both those things do happen), playing with the themes of isolation, animal rights, and the importance of family over all else.

Anchored by an absolutely masterful Jason Alexander performance as a workaholic father trapped beneath an unrelenting bitch of a boss, Dunston Checks In is to the hotel business what Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle was to the meatpacking industry, and I am being dead serious about that. So if you haven’t seen Dunston Checks In by now, close your damn computer, hit up the nearest Blockbuster that still carries VHS, and start doing something with your life.

Honorable mentions: Monkey Shines, Tarzan, your mom’s sex tape 

The post The Screen Junkies Top Six: Damn Dirty Ape Movies appeared first on Screen Junkies.

]]>
http://www.screenjunkies.com/movies/the-screen-junkies-top-six-damn-dirty-ape-movies/feed/ 0 KK-1 congo2 link-1 every-which-way-but-loose-original King-louie suicide-o 273525
The 10 Most Badass Survival Films Ever http://www.screenjunkies.com/movies/the-10-most-badass-survival-films-ever/ http://www.screenjunkies.com/movies/the-10-most-badass-survival-films-ever/#comments Mon, 07 Jul 2014 12:45:42 +0000 bgoldstein http://www.screenjunkies.com/?p=262582 By the ScreenJunkies Staff Survival movies are inherently badass. When you’re faced with zombies, angry mobs, and the cruel forces of nature, you can either lie down and accept your...

The post The 10 Most Badass Survival Films Ever appeared first on Screen Junkies.

]]>
By the ScreenJunkies Staff

Survival movies are inherently badass. When you’re faced with zombies, angry mobs, and the cruel forces of nature, you can either lie down and accept your fate, or look Death in the eyes and say “Not today, buddy.” And so, in honor of The Purge: Anarchy (which hits theaters on July 18th) here are our ten all-time favorite survival flicks, in which ordinary men and women go to heroic lengths to save the most important life of all: their own.


Road Warrior — Mel Gibson reprises his role in this sequel to Mad Max, as the lone former cop tries to survive in a post-apocalyptic world, where gasoline is worth killing and dying over. There was a time when Gibson was one of the coolest movie stars out there and this movie — and it’s legendary climactic chase scene — is one of the reasons why.


Black Hawk Down — Ridley Scott directed an unflinching account of a real-life U.S. Army helicopter mission that turned into a disaster and a fight for survival in war-torn Somalia. Our advice: Don’t get too attached to the characters.


Deliverance It’s too bad the “squeal like a pig” scene is all most people remember about this movie (that and the “Dueling Banjos” scene), because it really is a tense and gripping movie about survival. Burt Reynolds was fantastic in this movie, and so were Jon Voight, Ned Beatty and Ronny Cox, as city boys who take a canoe trip in the Georgia wilderness, and aren’t exactly welcomed by the locals.


127 Hours — Danny Boyle’s 2010 classic is the true story of Aron Ralston (played by James Franco), who becomes trapped in a canyon while adventuring in Utah. When help doesn’t arrive, an increasingly delirious Ralston is forced to cut his own arm off — with a damn pocketknife — to save his own life. A grim but exhilarating tribute to the power of the human spirit.


Dawn of the DeadSurvivors of a zombie apocalypse are holed up in a shopping mall, using whatever they can find to survive. On one hand, it’s a subtle and surprisingly funny critique of unchecked consumerism. On the other hand, that helicopter blade scene is friggin’ sweet.


Warriors This cult-classic from the Seventies follows the efforts of the Warriors crew — wrongly framed for a gang leader’s murder — to get back to Staten Island by daybreak, while fending off attacks from other rival gangs, who all have their own unique visual aesthetics. It’s a guilty pleasure, for sure.


Cast Away Robert Zemeckis directed Tom Hanks in this story of a FedEx executive who lives by the clock and winds up spending years alone on a tiny island in the Pacific Ocean. It’s funny, tense, and will bring you to tears over a lost volleyball.


The Edge As if surviving a plane crash in the Alaskan wilderness weren’t bad enough, Charles Morse (Anthony Hopkins) and Bob Green (Alec Baldwin) are forced to fight a big damn Kodiak bear — and eventually each other. Gruesome maulings ensue. Filled with breathless expanses of the Alaskan wild and two incredible performances by Hopkins and Baldwin, the film is one of the most unforgettable wilderness survival movies ever.


AliveA rugby team crashes in the Andes and does the unthinkable to survive. Like 127 Hours, it’s an incredible true story of human beings who went to almost super-human lengths to stay, well, alive. As John Malkovich puts it in the opening scene, “Many people come up to me and say that had they been there they surely would have died. But it makes no sense, because until you’re in a situation like that, you have no idea how you’ll behave.”


Predator An elite team of commandos, composed of Hollywood hulks like Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jessie Ventura, and Carl Weathers, is stalked in the jungles of Guatemala by a demented alien with the ability to turn invisible and who, apparently, has a jones for skinning people alive and hanging them upside down. As with almost every action movie starring the muscle-bound Schwarzenegger, the Governator is the only one left standing.

Did we leave out any of your favorite survival movies? Let us know on twitter @ScreenJunkies.

The post The 10 Most Badass Survival Films Ever appeared first on Screen Junkies.

]]>
http://www.screenjunkies.com/movies/the-10-most-badass-survival-films-ever/feed/ 0
The 7 Greatest Films That Took Place Entirely on Trains http://www.screenjunkies.com/movies/the-7-greatest-films-that-took-place-entirely-on-trains/ http://www.screenjunkies.com/movies/the-7-greatest-films-that-took-place-entirely-on-trains/#comments Wed, 25 Jun 2014 17:04:17 +0000 Jared Jones http://www.screenjunkies.com/?p=262526 By Jared Jones After a year-long creative dispute with Miramax co-founder Harvey Weinstein — the man Gary Oldman would likely refer to as Hollywood’s H.J.I.C (Head Jew in Charge) —...

The post The 7 Greatest Films That Took Place Entirely on Trains appeared first on Screen Junkies.

]]>
By Jared Jones

After a year-long creative dispute with Miramax co-founder Harvey Weinstein — the man Gary Oldman would likely refer to as Hollywood’s H.J.I.C (Head Jew in Charge) Bong Joon-Ho’s Snowpiercer is finally set to receive a limited theatrical release here in the States this weekend. This should come as thrilling news to fans of Ho’s previous films, 2006’s epic monster flick The Host and 2009’s similarly excellent Mother, as well as the rapidly increasing number of Americans with train fetishes. As someone who lies firmly in both camps (emphasis on firmly), I quite literally could not be more aroused excited.

Snowpiercer is essentially the story of the Montgomery Bus Boycott reimagined in the ice-age dystopia of 2031, only swap the Cleveland Avenue bus for a train carrying the Earth’s only remaining inhabitants and Rosa Parks for the Flame On guy. If that didn’t sell you on this movie, I don’t know what you’re even doing here. In any case, Snowpiercer got me thinking long and hard (also, firm) about other train-based movies, which can only mean that I am about to rank the ones I can remember in descending order for you because Internet.

#7 – Unstoppable

Denzel Washington stars as a know-it-all, smooth-as-jazz train engineer paired with, get this, a fresh-faced white dude on the first day of his new job. Ropes are shown, wise is cracked. Not before long, ol’ Denzel and his newbee partner are forced to partake in a suicide mission to catch a runaway train carrying more deadly chemicals than George W. Bush could dream up as an excuse to invade a Middle Eastern country (topical). Hijinks and ‘splosions ensue.

#6 – Night Train

Leelee Sobieski might be the worst actress in the history of the world, but she has really nice boobs and this movie was actually kind of decent. Lovecraft-ian, even. Three strangers find a dead body on a train that happens to be in possession of a butt load of diamonds, or maybe they’re emeralds, it’s not really important. Anyway, they all agree to do the logical thing and chop said dead guy into pieces while killing off anyone who dares question them. Co-starring Steve Zahn and the incomparable Danny Glover.

#5  The Taking of Pelham One Two Three

Fun fact: The guy who directed this movie went on to direct Jaws 4: The Revenge, which is quite possibly the stupidest film ever made.  

#4 – The Lady Vanishes

Yesterday I witnessed a shirtless teenager sporting no less than five teardrop tattoos walk into a convenience store and attempt to steal a bag of Cheetos by smuggling them in his ass. I know this because, for whatever reason, the kid’s pants were belted around his lower thighs in what I can only assume was an act of defiance against both the societal norms of dress code and the concept of gravity. Anyways, the kid tried to make a run for it when he saw that the owner had also taken exception to him, and literally tripped over his own pants before being tackled by the owner.

What I’m saying is that I wish we could go back to the days when everyone dressed as classy as the people in Alfred Hitchcock movies. Even homeless dudes had an evening suit back then. It was a simpler, better time, and somewhere out there, there is a 15-year-old picking cheese crumbles out of his ass hair that agrees with me.

#3 – Snakes on a Train

Full disclosure: I have not seen this movie. I have, however, read the film’s plot synopsis on its Wikipedia page, which I will now repeat to you verbatim:

“Although taking the same basic idea from Snakes on a Plane (lots of deadly snakes loose on a claustrophobic, high speed means of transport), the background story of how the snakes end up on the train is completely different.

In the movie, writer Eric Forsberg created a woman who has been put under a Mayan curse which causes snake eggs to hatch inside her belly and eat their way out. In order to recover the “lost pieces” of herself (the snakes), she must travel to Los Angeles where a powerful Mayan shaman can lift the curse. She takes the snakes along with her in small jars. While on the train, bandits attack her, allowing the snakes to escape and endanger the rest of the passengers.

Eventually, and inexplicably, she herself transforms into a gigantic snake and swallows the moving train whole.

Six passengers managed to escape unharmed and one of them performs magic to make her vanish. However one girl is shown to have been unknowingly bitten, suggesting the curse will remain.”

To recap: Mayan shamans, magic, and snakes eating trains. WHERE YOU AT NOW, HITCHCOCK?!

#2 – Under Siege 2: Dark Territory

By far the easiest selection of this list, Under Siege 2: Dark Territory sees Steven Seagal return as Navy cook-turned killing machine Casey Ryback and take on a group of international terrorists who hijack the train he happens to be traveling on with his niece. You know, kind of like how a group of terrorists hijacked the submarine he happened to be serving on in the first film. In any case, Dark Territory is the sort of gritty, powerful action flick that actually dares ask the tough questions, like “Why would a group of highly-skilled terrorists not check the manifesto of the train they were about to hijack to ensure that a counter-terrorism specialist was not on board?” But that’s just for the film scholars to decide when dissecting this masterpiece in 2025.

I love how they refer to Segal’s character as “the cook from Under Siege” in this trailer, as if to say, “This character was so unmemorable in the first incarnation that using his name to hype the second would accomplish nothing.” You gotta appreciate that kind of honesty.

But seriously, this movie is awesome. The only reason I didn’t rank it #1 was due to the fact that it features Kurtwood Smith yet a distinct lack of foots in asses.

#1 – Source Code

Believe it or not, there aren’t that many great films which take place entirely on a train. I blame texting (also, airplanes). Hidden beneath the smoke of such dumpster fires as Atomic Train, Death Train, and the band Train, however, is Source Code, a solid little sci-fi thriller directed by Moon’s Duncan Jones and starring Jake Gyllenhaal.

The plot of Source Code is incredibly similar to this year’s Edge of Tomorrow, in that Gyllenhaal plays an army soldier (pilot) forced to relive the same scenario over and over until he stops some terrorists from blowing up a train with their Tesseract or what the f*ck ever. While some critics have claimed that the film veers toward the overly sentimental with its conclusion, most agree that Source Code is ultimately a great popcorn flick that manages to be entertaining *and* thought-provoking. Movie-going audiences obviously agreed, as the film grossed nearly $150 million worldwide on a $32 million budget. HEAR THAT, MICHAEL BAY?! WE CAN HANDLE THE BEST OF BOTH WORLDS, YOU WALKING CAN OF AXE BODY SPRAY.

The post The 7 Greatest Films That Took Place Entirely on Trains appeared first on Screen Junkies.

]]>
http://www.screenjunkies.com/movies/the-7-greatest-films-that-took-place-entirely-on-trains/feed/ 0
The Film Cult Presents: Gosford Park http://www.screenjunkies.com/movies/the-film-cult-presents-gosford-park/ http://www.screenjunkies.com/movies/the-film-cult-presents-gosford-park/#comments Fri, 13 Jun 2014 17:35:28 +0000 Philip Harris http://www.screenjunkies.com/?p=262255 Warning! Mild Spoilers Ahead! Before he gave the world Downton Abbey, Julian Fellowes made a brilliant film that could very easily be considered the little brother of Downton. One could...

The post The Film Cult Presents: Gosford Park appeared first on Screen Junkies.

]]>
Warning! Mild Spoilers Ahead!

Before he gave the world Downton Abbey, Julian Fellowes made a brilliant film that could very easily be considered the little brother of Downton. One could even call it, just as Miami Rhapsody is to Sex and the City, a film prototype of the television series to come. Filled with quick wit, pomp and circumstance, and Maggie Smith’s piercing looks, Gosford Park is a cozy romp into British peerage. Now, sure, the mansion in Gosford is nothing compared to Highclere Castle, the home of Downton. That said, Wrothman Park, where the exteriors of Gosford and a few other scenes were shot, is an admirable facade, giving great respect to the classes of guests that converge under its roofs for a weekend of shooting, bridge, and, because we’re in a giant mansion in the thirties, murder.

Which brings us to cast. Gosford Park is a glittering assemblage of Britain’s greatest stars, including Helen Mirren, Kristen Scott Thomas, and Richard Harris who would go on to play Professor Dumbledore in five of the Harry Potter movies alongside Dame Maggie Smith, also in Gosford Park . When it comes to secondary cast, we’ve got an adorable Ryan Phillippe, Emily Watson and Charles Dance, who American audiences now know as Tywin Lannister on Game of Thrones. So often, British stars are used to make characters in an American blockbusters evocative, making Gosford Park a joy to watch, as all these greats don’t have to deal with silly costumes or synching with CGI magic. All they have to do is act, and in this film they act like there’s no tomorrow. Also keep a lookout for a young Clive Owen smouldering below stairs.

Julian Fellowes is a genius. He has such a sense of timing, of nuance. Wielding this amount of characters, as he also does in Downton Abbey, is daunting just to watch. I can’t imagine writing them all and keeping track of their storylines. And yet, Mr. Fellowes manages with great ease. From the the most common of chamber maids to the master of the house each character is drawn with such attention and warmth that every player feels necessary, not a single wasted character in the bunch.

The story, like any aristocratic bunch of blue bloods, is twisted and at times cumbersome. Much is played off screen, leaving the viewer to figure out for themselves that Charles Dance and Richard Harris are brothers in the film. But those ambiguous facts make the viewing of this film all the more enjoyable. Beyond the core mystery of who killed the head of the house and why, is the mystery of how everyone is related. The movie culminates in an unexpected reveal that comes after what the viewer thinks is the climax. It’s a joy for attentive movie goers, over-thinkers, and film nuts.

The attention to detail is as perfect as expected. Not a napkin or diamond is out of place, madam’s hot chocolate waiting for her just as she’s about to go to bed. Even the dropping of a Bloody Mary on muddy cement (and its almost instantaneous cleaning) is done with such panache one can’t help but read something of the doomed fate of the English gentry in all that red and brown liquid mixing together among the broken glass.

Gosford Park makes life in the English countryside look just as glamorous as it was awful. Shared bathrooms, washing clothes in a basin, and nearly getting shot while hunting birds, let alone all the hangers-on clamoring for your money. Shit was rough back in the day. That said, Gosford Park depicts the pitfalls and luxuries so well that I can’t say I wouldn’t give up the Internet and pool for cold water basins and nights of classical music.

If you’ve seen this movie you totally get what I mean. They’ve been showing the movie a lot on the premium channels, and whenever it’s on, I can’t help but see what’s going to happen, for with such a overlapping and nuanced stories built around numerous complicated characters, Gosford Park is one of those movies that unfolds anew with each re-watching. Every time I see it, I learn something new, another layer of the onion is revealed.

The post The Film Cult Presents: Gosford Park appeared first on Screen Junkies.

]]>
http://www.screenjunkies.com/movies/the-film-cult-presents-gosford-park/feed/ 0 tumblr_movtpwUKP31r8nxtno1_500 tumblr_m2xsjxqHLM1qet75po1_500
The Film Cult Presents: The Ninth Gate http://www.screenjunkies.com/movies/the-film-cult-presents-the-ninth-gate/ http://www.screenjunkies.com/movies/the-film-cult-presents-the-ninth-gate/#comments Fri, 06 Jun 2014 17:13:21 +0000 Philip Harris http://www.screenjunkies.com/?p=262076 Warning! Spoilers Ahead! Okay, I, like most of the human race, am a Johnny Depp fan. Did you catch my saccharine praise fest of Edward Scissorhands a few months ago?...

The post The Film Cult Presents: The Ninth Gate appeared first on Screen Junkies.

]]>
Warning! Spoilers Ahead!

Okay, I, like most of the human race, am a Johnny Depp fan. Did you catch my saccharine praise fest of Edward Scissorhands a few months ago? It’s awesome. You should go read it. And yes, I saw Transcendence, and boy was that a shit show. Which is my point, I believe in being a fan, but I also believe in being an honest, responsible fan. I’m perfectly willing to call out my favorite actor (or president) when they’ve done awful work. And Johnny has done some awful work. I mean, who saw The Tourist? Eesh.

The Ninth Gate is an anomaly. I know it’s a bad film. It has a lot wrong with it. It’s mostly Depp’s character Corso carrying around a book while being chased. And yet, I’m totally mesmerized by every frame. Granted, I am fan of Roman Polanksi’s work. A big fan. I don’t endorse his sexual proclivities, but I am perfectly capable of separating the man from his work. Rosemary’s Baby and Chinatown are two of my all-time favorite films, and I’d write about them here if they weren’t actually considered classics.

The Ninth Gate is about books. That’s another reason I can’t help buy love this movie. I’m a writer. I’m a reader. I have piles of books on my desk, shelves overflowing with tomes my friends and family are afraid I’ll ask them to help me move one day. Mr. Polanksi made a movie for book people with The Ninth Gate. This is a movie for the book nerd in all of us. And let me tell ya, Johnny Depp makes a hot book nerd.

Set in recent times, The Ninth Gate is about a less-than-ethical book dealer (Depp) hired by Frank Langella to authenticate his copy of an ancient book called The Nine Gates of The Kingdom of Shadows, reportedly written by Satan himself. Only three copies exist, and Langella’s character wants to be sure his is real, so Depp searches the world to try and find the other copies. He has no problem finding the other two copies. Of course, things go wrong and, which is so common in a Polanksi film, a conspiracy larger than himself starts to engulf Depp’s character. French aristocrats are choked with their Hermes scarves. Scaffolding collapses. Strangers are seen out of the corner of one’s eye.

The plot falls apart three quarters of the way through, leaving the beauty of Emmanuelle Singer the only thing really to watch. Depp is at his most awkward in this film, never really committing to being either sexy or nerdy. He generally chooses the latter, which I personally think is very sexy. The beauty of this film is in its seriousness. Much like the cult classic Showgirls, The Ninth Gate was made in complete earnest. No one had a clue it would be such a shit show. I love movies like this. Does anyone remember the Madonna catastrophe Swept Away? Sure, I own it, but whatever, it’s an awful but amazing movie.

Polanksi’s strength is in beautiful tableaus. He catches the old world charm of French libraries and the dusty streets of Spain with exquisite detail and authentic understanding. The attention to detail is astounding. A scene in which Depp’s messenger bag is overturned by a lover, his stuff spilling on to a hotel floor, comes to mind. There’s a notebook and tissue and keys and a wallet. It wreaks of verisimilitude, giving the movie that extra push into decent territory. The books are so old, so well worn, you can almost smell the leather and the fading pages.

Not one of Depp’s classics, and basically the same plot as Polanski’s more recent film The Ghost Writer, The Ninth Gate is still a fun movie that I discover people secretly love. Whenever it’s on Cinemax, I leave it on. I even have it saved in on my recorded list in my DVR for those moments when I just need something on. It’s not a great film, but it’s badass, and you should definitely give it chance.

The post The Film Cult Presents: The Ninth Gate appeared first on Screen Junkies.

]]>
http://www.screenjunkies.com/movies/the-film-cult-presents-the-ninth-gate/feed/ 0 MV5BMTk2NTI4NDYzMl5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNzgxMDU0MQ@@._V1_SY317_CR4,0,214,317_AL_ tumblr_mywffsEPDc1swnd74o1_400 tumblr_n1j710pnAC1sn7viko1_500
The Film Cult Presents: Indie Game: The Movie http://www.screenjunkies.com/movies/the-film-cult-presents-indie-game-the-movie/ http://www.screenjunkies.com/movies/the-film-cult-presents-indie-game-the-movie/#comments Fri, 23 May 2014 16:12:44 +0000 Philip Harris http://www.screenjunkies.com/?p=261783 Warning! Spoilers Ahead! This week, I’m going to review another recent film just as I did last week. It’s an underrated documentary well known in only a few circles, which...

The post The Film Cult Presents: Indie Game: The Movie appeared first on Screen Junkies.

]]>
Warning! Spoilers Ahead!

This week, I’m going to review another recent film just as I did last week. It’s an underrated documentary well known in only a few circles, which is a real shame because if you look past the specific subject matter of the film’s focus, Indie Game: The Movie is not so much about video games as it is about the sacrifices one makes for their art and the commitment needed to fulfill one’s vision. The film revolves around the development and impact of three independently made and released video games: Super Meat Boy, Fez, and Braid, which has become one of the most acclaimed indie video games of all time. It’s my belief that true art emerges of certain criteria which are often painful and misunderstood by many. For this review, I’d like to examine several of these concepts as they relate to this film: sacrifice, isolation, and obsession.

Indie Game: The Movie focuses primarily on four men and their lives developing the aforementioned video games. These men are Edmund McMillen and Tommy Refenes, who are the creators of Super Meat Boy, Phil Fish, the developer of Fez, and Jonathan Blow, the man who created Braid and the much-hyped, but as yet unreleased, The Witness.

Each of these men, in their own way, embody sacrifice. Edmund McMillen’s wife discusses how she only ever sees her husband’s back. Tommy Refenes, sitting alone at a dinner, tells the camera about how he can’t date because he could only afford one meal and how he never goes out. Phil Fish describes his business partnership dissolving, as well as his romantic relationship. Jonathan Blow is the exception, for he doesn’t blatantly discuss having to sacrifice for his games, seemingly being fine with the fact that he lives a solitary life.  That said, I’d put money that he’s had to sacrifice plenty, including romantic relationships. For, as Tommy says, “You kinda have to give up something to get something great.”

One of the products of the social sacrifices these men, and many other artists, make is the fact that their day-to-day lives are solo. While business and development partners, Edmund and Tommy work on opposite sides of the continent, Edmund in Santa Cruz and Refenes in North Carolina. Phil Fish and his assistant coder sit in a practically unfurnished office, tapping away at their computers, trying to finish production of Fez. Adding to the point of their isolation, the filmmakers use many wide shots of vast cityscapes that then cut to the developers sitting by themselves. There are other crowd shots where the developers are looking at their phone or staring off into the distance, separate to the blur of humanity around them.  The developers are not unlike writers or painters, or any other artists who take devotion to their craft to the  Nth degree. They work alone, the computer and them, creating something that will hopefully be played by millions of avid gamers the world over. Their isolation is in direct conversation with the invisible thousands and millions they will touch. The promise of that, that faith in that future interaction, is what drives all art.

And one cannot maintain that level of sacrifice or isolation without obsession. Like the melodramatic stories one tries to ignore every day, each of these men have had difficulties in their lives. It’s no surprise listening to Edmund talk about how awful his step father was that he now uses video games to express himself. All of us artists do that. We can create here in bedrooms, touch you all out there, and never have to actually meet you. That is the true blessing of art—distance.

Obsession, for these men and countless other people, means devotion. The line is not blurred; it doesn’t exist. They literally are giving their lives to these games. This is apparent no greater than in the scene where the filmmakers ask Phil Fish what he would do if he didn’t get a chance to finish Fez. He says that he would kill himself. In fact, he says that finishing the game is the only thing that was keeping him alive. He had to stay alive to finish creating a video game. That is devotion.

The stories of these games is still unfolding, and everyone portrayed within the film is still alive, still figuring out how to devote their lives to their art without losing their lives. It’s a struggle all of us have to deal with. We all hope that a million people will buy our art, or at least some of them will understand it. I’m glad the filmmakers decided to pursue this subject matter, for we viewers often become numb to the kooky sculptors and musicians that fleck our lives, but to see grown men give their lives to video game development—well, that’s worth all the money it took on Kickstarter to get this movie made.

The post The Film Cult Presents: Indie Game: The Movie appeared first on Screen Junkies.

]]>
http://www.screenjunkies.com/movies/the-film-cult-presents-indie-game-the-movie/feed/ 0 25307 tommy-refenes 06212011_Indie_Game_the_Movie_Phil_peek