Thursday, July 21, 2016

The Conjuring 2 (with a dash of Annabelle)


I've been excited about seeing this since the first Conjuring film came out, at which point Vera Farmiga said she's be willing to do a series of these wonderful, scary, creepy films. And that's what's happening! I'm a happy woman.

Unlike Annabelle, which was disappointing, I wasn't too worried about The Conjuring 2 letting me down. For starters, Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson are in it. Annabelle, while not a bad film, didn't produce the scares, nor were the story or characters quite as involving. And seriously, the only black character in the movie died. Who didn't see that coming?!

But The Conjuring 2 lived up to my expectations. Set in London, a young girl, Janet, is being haunted by a malevolent old man who died in the house. I won't get in to any spoilers, but there's obviously more than meets the eye. But what does meet the eye is pretty terrifying. If you're me, anyway. What I like most, aside from the creepy factor, is that it's another story about a rather large family being terrorized, not just one character. You get to meet each sibling, the struggling mother, and even the helpful neighbors. And while Janet is the main target, everyone experiences the horror.

There are other interesting characters, such as Anita Gregory (Franka Potente from Run, Lola, Run, and the Bourne series), a skeptic who never believes that Janet is either haunted nor possessed. And let's not forget the nun. I'm sure loads of people with nun phobias will love this movie. Wait, is there such a thing as a nun phobia? There has to be.

Bottom line, watch this, even if you hate being scared, and enjoy the nightmares that hit you afterwards. You're welcome!

My grade: A 

Friday, May 13, 2016

Hush


There are two types of movies I like to watch when I'm upset or in a bad place: comedy and horror. Comedy is a very likely choice, but horror is, too, in its own way. And let me just say, it hasn't been a great week for me. I think I've cried more than a waterfall, or Justin Timberlake's river. Naturally, I went in search of relief in the form of Netflix, and it would seem I was in dire need of...murder!

Hush was actually my second watch, but it did the job better than All Good Things, which I'll review later.

Set in the woods, a fancy cabin in the woods, Hush centers around Maddie, a deaf/mute woman who lives in isolation while working on her second novel. She's not completely alone, however; she has a cat and neighbors. You can tell Maddie feels safe out there; she leaves the sliding door open so that the cat can wander in (I'm a firm believer in locking everything, no matter where you live). Unfortunately, that also means a masked killer can come right in, as well.

It takes Maddie quite awhile to notice that anything is wrong, and, here's where the movie started to baffle me: she misses a murder that happens right in front of her. It's supposed to be because she's deaf, but...she's not blind, and I don't buy she wouldn't have caught a glimpse of it in her peripheral vision, if not full on, because, like I said, it was right in front of her.

If you can get past that, which I mostly did, then you'll be fine.

Once the killer realizes that Maddie is deaf, he decides not to kill her. Yet. He's probably never had prey like this, so he's going to have fun and mess around with her first. He's even so generous as to let her know he's there and planning to kill her in a horrific, bloody way. That's half the fun! But he doesn't think she has any chance of beating him; he's just enjoying walking around the house, tormenting her, knocking on windows, etc. In the end, she knows she has to try to escape, if not kill him.

I should also mention that her cat is outside this entire time, and you know that it's going to come back at some point, and the killer will be there, and...yeah. But, spoiler alert: the cat does NOT die!

All in all, Hush is a flawed but fun movie, and I recommend it for any horror lovers, especially horror lovers who like women who fight back (always fight back!). And fun fact, John Gallagher Jr., who plays the killer, also played Emmett in 10 Cloverfield Lane. He gave me a serious case of, Wait, haven't I seen him before?

My Grade: B

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Shelter


*Contains spoilers*

I've watched so many films over the last few days, but I thought I'd start with this one. My boyfriend made me watch it, and I wasn't sure why until mid-way through the movie or so. Dear god...

Basic plot: A homeless, coke-addicted woman meets a homeless, not coke-addicted Nigerian immigrant. Love, or something like it, happens. He tries to take care of her and get her off drugs, but their lives are still crazy and dangerous. He ends up getting sick and going into hospital, which results in them getting thrown out of the apartment they were in...which in turn leads her to doing things to a security guard that I'd rather not specify, in order to sleep in a boiler room. So yeah, that's when this movie changed for me. It was traumatic. If you watch it, you'll know the scene I'm talking about.

Bottom line, this is depressing, a bit icky, and occasionally induces anger. It's not a bad film, but would I watch it again? No.

My grade: B

Monday, March 7, 2016

Finding Vivian Maier

A self-portrait by Vivian Maier 

If you're a photographer, love photography, or have no experience with cameras, period, you should watch this. Basically, everyone should watch this.

I only discovered this documentary last night. Thanks Netflix! It's about a nanny with a secret: she's an avid, and exceptionally talented photographer. Despite this, she never did anything with her photos. It was only after her death that someone bought her negatives at an auction, not thinking much of it, but deciding to see if there was anything useful. From there it spiraled, and he had to find out more about this mysterious woman with an incredible gift. Why wasn't she famous? Why weren't her photos published? Who the hell was she, anyway? Was she French, or did she just love French accents? Ah, the mystery!

I was impressed by how far the filmmaker, John Maloof, went to discover what Maier was like, and I can see why he did: she was fascinating. But like most people, especially artists, she wasn't the nicest person, and as more than one person noted, she had a dark side.

Maloof managed to find quite a few of Maier's former employers, including the now grown children she was a nanny for, some of whom had  interesting, even disturbing stories to tell. They paint a much broader picture than the one we started with.

After years of trying to get her name recognized and her photos seen, Maloof now has Maier's photographs being shown all over the world. I'm going to Google this and see where exactly they are, and if they're on permanent display. Who knows, maybe I'll get a chance to see them in person someday!

My grade: B+ 

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies


Warning: I'm one of those people who adores Pride and Prejudice. Not only do I own two copies of it, but I also have four movie adaptions in my modest collection. Despite this, I never read Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, not because it didn't interest me, but because I never got around to it. When I saw the trailer a few weeks ago, though, I decided that I needed to see it.

I spent the weekend at the beach (not literally, but close enough), and intended to get some much needed shopping in, which ended up not happening. I loathe shopping. On top of that I was feeling grumpy due to lack of sleep and acute boredom, so seeing a movie theater with all the times posted in big numbers outside was a true blessing. Weekends aren't the best time to see a movie, I know, but this particular theater wasn't packed, and my mom and I didn't sit next to anyone.

Even better? It's a good movie! I didn't go in expecting much. How are they going to incorporate the original story with a new, zombie apocalypse story line? Will it be funny? It'd better be funny. Will I like Sam Riley as Mr. Darcy? These are all important questions. I'm a seriously Prejudice person, after all.

So, to answer my own questions: they blended the two worlds together with unexpected capability. I was unsure at first, and wasn't entirely convinced until the first real fight scene involving the Bennett sisters. As with any condensed version, a lot is cut out, but the important scenes are there, and I can't complain about that; you won't bust a rib from laughing too hard, but it had some genuinely funny moments, and the trailer makes it look far more serious than it really is; despite his rough voice, I liked Sam Riley, and I've liked him in other films I've seen him in. He wouldn't fit into, say, the '95 version, but for this zombified story, he's perfect.

Matt Smith plays Mr. Collins, which was another perfect casting choice. Lily James is Elizabeth, who does the job well, but is overall underwhelming. Douglas Booth is Mr. Bingley, and he's way, way too pretty. Put him in a magazine, seriously. I don't even mean that entirely as a compliment, for he doesn't look as if he belongs in this era. Bella Heathcote is Jane, who was pretty and likable. Also, Charles Dance plays Mr. Bennett, and he should have been in this more. I love Charles Dance. The most surprising casting choice was Sally Phillips as Mrs. Bennett. My immediate thought was: Miranda! Another good casting choice.

My only advice to anyone who wants to see this is: see the 1995 and 2005 versions first. You don't have to, but Zombies pays homage to both of them (unless I imagine one or two of those moments, which is possible), and you probably won't understand certain scenes or realize that something was changed unless you watch those beforehand.

Overall, this was a lot of fun, and it's always great to see women kicking ass, especially zombie ass. Go see it!

My grade: B+ 

Monday, January 18, 2016

Star Wars: Episode VII-The Force Awakens



*Spoilers*

I've been hesitating to put out this review, because I know I won't be able to review it without giving away one or two spoilers. So yes, you have been warned! Don't read this unless you've already seen it, or you simply don't care.

Basic plot: Set after Return of the Jedi. Luke Skywalker has gone missing, and the First Order are desperate to find and destroy him.

As with most movies, I went into this with lowered expectations, despite the glowing ratings it's received. I'm glad I did. Don't get me wrong -I enjoyed it, but I have a bone to pick, and if I don't get this out of my system now, I never will.

First of all, what is up with Carrie Fisher's mouth? This is why we avoid plastic surgery! And really, Leia and Han Solo broke up?! No, that's wrong, all wrong! It just won't be the same when I watch Return of the Jedi. What's worse is that they give Leia next to nothing to do. She's there to inject some nostalgia, which doesn't work so well when you're disappointed, and she's rendered useless. All she does is attempt to move her mouth, gaze at Han, and look disapproving and worried.

Han Solo is a more pleasant sight, but they still manage to make it cheesy. Nevertheless, he's always been my favorite Star Wars characters, and he was one of the best parts about this film...so they really shouldn't have killed him. I know the point was to create drama, character development, make people cry, and further the storyline, but come on! Having said that, it wasn't a shocker. I think most of us saw it coming from a mile away. In fact, nothing about this movie is surprising or new. The twists were obvious (Rey is a Jedi? I couldn't tell! Kylo Ren is Han and Leia's son? Never would have guessed!), although they're not bad, just uninspired.

As my cousin pointed out, Disney is running the show now, and they have a habit of dumbing things down for the audience, and it shows. They try to make it sillier than it needs to be. Take Finn, for example, who should have more depth, but is instead reduced to being a bit of an idiot, which I found incredibly disappointing. The one thing I do like is that Rey can kick ass. She also murdered Keira Knightly and stole her voice, but I think that may be one of the reasons she was cast. She's not the best, nor the most memorable, but at least she's a fighter. And yeah, we can guess what the next twist in her story might be...

Luke doesn't make his appearance until the very end, and it's a wordless, very stare-contesty affair. He knows how to look sad and dramatic, I'll give him that, but it does beg the question: you've been up on this cliff in the middle of nowhere, meditating, I take it, while everyone is out there fighting and dying, and you're meditating for...what? The greater good? And I think I'm lazy. At least he should have a bigger presence in the next installment, but it's not going to make up for the loss of Han Solo. Seriously, make up some BS. Say it wasn't Han, but his twin, Can Solo, who died. I would forgive you, Disney, I really would.

Okay, now that I've properly complained, I'll say this: I liked it. I know, it doesn't sound like I did, but that's how I come off. At the end of the day, it's an enjoyable, albeit unremarkable addition to the Star Wars franchise, and I'm looking forward to seeing Episode VIII. Hopefully Finn will be a more fleshed-out character by then, and Leia's lips will be human again.

My grade:

P.S. Oscar Isaac, yes! He needs to be in the next one more, way more.




Thursday, January 7, 2016

The Conjuring 2 Trailer

I'm so excited!! I only recently realized they were filming this, which means one of my dreams is coming true. Now if it can be half as good as the first, I'll be (somewhat) happy, but I'm hoping it'll be on par.