Saturday, August 27, 2011

Midnight Movie

Before I started reading, I had the following information about Midnight Movie:
This is a book by Tobe Hooper.
It was all I needed to make me want to read it and I deliberately waited to read the synopsis on the back cover until I'd finished the book.
I'd like to keep plot information out of my review because when I walk blindly into a movie or book, I like to believe the two people who read my blog will be able to do the same thing. I love that feeling of not knowing. Being a fan of both books and movies, it's rare to go into one without knowing something (or in some cases, everything) about it.
Midnight Movie is told mainly via personal accounts of the main characters (one of whom is Tobe Hooper), as well as news clippings, blog posts, diaries and that sort of thing.
It is split into three parts. The first part drew me right in, the second part nauseated me but also kept me interested enough to keep going and by the time I got to part three I was so desperate to find out what happened that I refused to put the book down until it was over.
Much like World War Z, Midnight Movie is equal parts fascinating, scary, disgusting and sad.
Much like World War Z, Midnight Movie is well written and on certain levels I loved and enjoyed it.
Much like World War Z, it completely drained and depressed me. I feel empty inside. I don't know if I can read it again.
Unlike World War Z, Midnight Movie has a "special feature": An actual interview with Tobe Hooper in which he discusses, among other things, the difference between the Tobe Hooper in the book and his actual self. It sounds like such a small thing, but that little interview (it was maybe two pages) improved my mood, brought me gently back to the real world, reminded me that what I had just read was fiction and there was no reason to be sad.
I think the main reason I don't read fiction as often as I'd like is because I tend to get emotionally involved and coming back to reality can be difficult, especially after a book like Midnight Movie.

End of line.

Thursday, August 25, 2011


"I am Charlie Bronson, Britain's most violent prisoner."
Before I say anything about the movie, I'd like to direct you to the Wikipedia page about Charles Bronson. They know more about him than I do. And, just to clarify, this is a different Charles Bronson than the actor. Very different.
Bronson is, obviously, a movie about Charlie Bronson (born Michael Peterson) who has spent most of his life in solitary confinement for being more likely to be a prisoner and punch you in the face than Patrick McGoohan. You know how the internet thinks Chuck Norris is a superhero who cannot be stopped? I'm pretty sure Charlie Bronson could kill Chuck Norris just by thinking about it.
Also, he totally looks like an old timey boxer. He should be calling people rough customers and saying he's going to give them what-for. ...Actually, he is a rough customer and does, in fact, give lots of people what-for.
Yes, this is a real guy and yes, I do feel kinda weird (insensitive?) making light of his situation and violent ways but for some reason I can't help it. And the movie, at least at first, sort of does the same thing.
The first half hour or so of Bronson very much appeals to me stylistically. The art direction is fantastic, they intercut scenes of Charlie talking directly to the camera and fantasy scenes of Charlie onstage in a fancy theater putting on a show about himself for hoity toity people with the (for lack of a better word) realistic scenes that tell his story. It was fascinating and I just loved it.
Around the point they started focusing on Charlie's life outside of prison, the movie sort of fell apart for me. It was still full of fantastic art direction but the narrating and theater scenes pretty much disappeared completely and it became a much more straightforward movie, which I didn't like as much. If they had kept the tone from the beginning through the whole film I would have liked it just that much more. I'd be ranting about needing to own a copy right now if they'd done it that way.
Overall, though, it was still brilliant and Tom Hardy is fantastic.

End of line.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Fright Night

Fright Night is a remake of the 1980s vampire movie (also called Fright Night) and I really want to review it on its own merits, which is hard to do because I have both seen and thoroughly enjoy the original. It's obvious where the remake was inspired by the original and where it decided it wanted to do its own thing. Really, every remake aspires to do that but few pull it off the way Fright Night does.
Jerry The Vampire has moved in next door to Charlie Brewster and his mom. Charlie's nerdy friend Evil Ed tries to warn Charlie of the danger but Charlie doesn't believe him. At first. When Jerry starts blatantly being a vampire, though, Charlie takes the situation seriously and tries to enlist the help of glitzy Vegas magician Peter Vincent who claims to be a vampire expert.
Parts of the movie go on a bit too long (the car chase, for instance) and there's a bit of useless "cool kids versus nerds" bullshit near the beginning that doesn't need to be there. ("Cool kids versus nerds" is, in my experience, not a thing that exists in real life. When I was in high school everyone just hung out with their friends and didn't care enough one way or the other about people they didn't hang out with to have conflict with them.)
Colin Farrell makes a very good Jerry The Vampire. I'd be hard pressed to decide whether I like him or Chris Sarandon better, honestly, because they both perfectly nail the thing that makes vampires so fascinating to me.
My brother was saying a few weeks ago that vampires are not scary and that's why Twilight is successful; people like the romance of vampires, nobody is scared of them. I don't feel that's entirely true. At least, I feel like it's a broad generalization.
I agree that vampires are not scary, but romantic vampires are boring, defanged pussies as far as I'm concerned. I fucking hate them. They're dull. I don't care about their damn feelings.
Vampires are only interesting if they're soulless monsters. They can be attractive and all that (movies have guaranteed that vampires will always be the sexy monsters), but the second you give them souls or romantic yearnings, everything that's interesting about them flies out the window and we're stuck in Defanged Pussyville.
That's actually the one thing about the movie Bram Stoker's Dracula I don't like; they got Gary fucking Oldman as Count fucking Dracula and they threw in all that "I have crossed oceans of time to find you" bullshit. Dracula was not in love with Mina, damn it! I just reread the book and there is no romance in it (in spite of all the marriage), especially not between Dracula and ... well, anybody. (Sure, there's sexual symbolism, but that's not romance; it's obvious Dracula wasn't in love with these women. He was just hungry.)
Anyway, sorry, sidebar. Back to the topic at hand.
Christopher Sarandon (who has a cameo in the new version, by the way, which made me applaud) was a fantastic choice for Jerry The Vampire back in the '80s because he was simultaneously repulsive and fascinating. You didn't necessarily want to be looking at him, but you couldn't stop. It's that thrall thing vampires do, it's how they seduce their victims. And Colin Farrell has that same effect in the new version of Fright Night. He pulls it off beautifully. (According to an article in Rue Morgue he was a big fan of the original and it took some convincing to get him to sign on for the remake. I'm glad he did it.)
The entire core cast was great, even though it did seem like David Tennant's Peter Vincent was really just his best Russell Brand impression. I'll accept it, though, because he was thoroughly entertaining.
So, while Fright Night did seem longer than it was, it was quite entertaining and well worth the twelve dollars. It had some problems, sure (the obvious CGI blood, the obvious "we're filmed in 3-D" shots, the line "Welcome to Fright Night ... for real" which made me roll my eyes so far I could see the part of my brain that thought it was corny) but I'll still probably want to own it when it comes out on video.
Especially if they package it with the original.

End of line.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Cowboys And Aliens

Once upon a time James Bond woke up in the old west with no memory and a big ol' honkin' metal thing on his wrist. After kicking the crap out of (and most likely killing) some dudes who wanted to use him for ransom he went to the nearest town, where he saved Zaphod Beeblebrox from Indiana Jones's obnoxious brat of a son. He also met Cora from Tron 2, who wanted to talk to him about his bracelet. Then James Bond found out from the sheriff that he was wanted for stealing gold from Indiana Jones (and most likely killing someone). Indiana Jones insists on taking James Bond with him to torture (and most likely kill) when fucking aliens come out of nowhere and kidnap the shit out of a bunch of townspeople, including Indiana Jones's son and Zaphod Beeblebrox's wife. Now James Bond, Indiana Jones, Zaphod Beeblebrox and Cora all have to work together to save the world from fucking aliens, which they don't know how to do because they're in the old west and science fiction action movies haven't been invented yet.
Cowboys And Aliens was a lot of fun, even if it is way more Cowboys than Aliens. I'm not usually a fan of westerns, but there are a few out there I really enjoy and this one is definitely on that list.
Sam Rockwell is by far the most likeable character in the movie, and I don't know if that's because he's truly sympathetic or because Sam Rockwell is such a good actor (or a bit of both) but he's the one person in the band of cowboys about whom I genuinely cared if he lived.
If you're sensitive to green alien gore you might have some problems. There's a lot of green alien gore. I thought it was pretty cool, but I'm a gorehound and I don't care what color the gore is or out of what it comes.
One thing happened in the movie that I considered a cop out, but I can't say what that thing is without spoiling plot points, so no elaboration will be made. You can go see the movie and try and figure out for yourself what part made me roll my eyes.
Luckily, it really was only the one part. Overall, I liked it a lot. I'm glad we went.

End of line.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Kill Your Darlings

Apparantly (apparently? I need to learn how to spell) there are two movies called Kill Your Darlings: an artsy short film and a full-length movie that has Stellan Skarsgaard in it. I watched the former.
I can't describe the movie, really, because there's no plot to speak of. People talk about love and there are scenes of a pretty woman being in a relationship, not being in a relationship, sloshing around in a river and then shots of an old couple in a park. And there are some end credits.
There's also a brief segment about fairy tales, which is the whole reason I watched the movie: Eugene Hutz plays the prince. He doesn't talk, he's barely on screen and when he is he doesn't stay still long enough for you to get a good look at him (but that's not really any different than seeing him in concert, so I can't complain). But it was him, he was there and that's the whole reason I sat through twenty six minutes of art film.
I don't think I'm smart enough for art films. On the one hand, I respect people who make movies that definitely mean something to them and whether or not the audience gets it or enjoys it is none of their fucking concern because "it means something to me, damn it!" I respect that a lot. Filmmakers should make the movies they want to make.
But I'm one of those audience members who doesn't get it (which is not helped by the fact that the sound was rather quiet). I spent the whole movie singing Experimental Film to myself ("I'm still thinking about your face implodes in my experimental film...") and then my mind started wandering to movies I hate. Specifically When Harry Met Sally and Five Hundred Days Of Summer.
Which maybe is a good thing? Maybe Kill Your Darlings was supposed to make you think about love and romance and romantic comedies that you want to get into fights with. I assume that was at least part of the point. So in that respect, the movie succeeded.
It also succeeded in the "having Eugene Hutz on screen" respect, which is one of my favorite ways for a movie to succeed.
However, if I'm going to watch a movie that succeeds in that area, I'll watch Everything Is Illuminated or Filth And Wisdom, 'cause then he's not just on screen, he's the main character. He even talks. And that's just fantastic.

End of line.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

My Favorite Brunette

I never really understood the appeal of Bob Hope, but until now I'd never seen one of his movies before, either, so I had no reason to understand the appeal of Bob Hope. It turns out he has pretty fantastic comedic timing.
My Favorite Brunette was a pretty fun movie. Lon Chaney Jr. was endearing as the big dumb guy and Peter Lorre was gloriously dapper and villainous, wearing a dark suit, throwing knives and studying for the United States citizenship test. Peter Lorre is much funnier than anybody seems to remember him being, and I could listen to him talk all dang day. I love him so.
Overall I don't think this one's going to stick with me (I can barely remember it now and it hasn't even been over five minutes) but it was entertaining while it was on and there were a few moments that made me laugh out loud.

End of line.