Wednesday, March 11, 2015

The Gift of BIRDMAN

Brilliant. I didn't love the movie, but Michael Keaton is at his best again, and that is AWESOME.

Friday, August 15, 2014

R.I.P. CHUCKY ..and the END of the LAST 80's Horror Franchise

I love the first Child's Play - It's a great horror film that's well-shot, lots of laughs with one lovely leading lady - Catherine Hicks - one of my all time celebrity crushes.
In the first film we have a serial killer, a toy, a son and a loving Mom - perfecto - it's got uber creepo Brad Douriff, black magic, that 80's vibe I love, great special effects and A KILLER DOLL!!!

Alex Vincent is great as cute little Andy, but Brad Douriff steals the show as Chucky. His voice performance will remain the steady constant that the franchise is built upon, through film after film and change after change.
The first one is a blast, and did pretty well so...
Child's Play 2 has Andy return, but no Catherine Hicks. Now I bought this more than the switcheroo in Poltergeist 3(which undermined the film before it even started) with the story telling us that Andy's Mom went crazy after the events of Part One - sure it's an excuse, but at least it's logical.
I always enjoy Chucky's resurrections too, some clever - some hokey - always fun...
But I digress - two is a good sequel and three is decent though it featured a new actor in the role. Surprisingly, the story of the third is referenced in the last, and overall it's not bad with Andy older and attending a military school, finding romance ..and oh yeah - dispatching Chucky again.

Number 3 was the last to use the original title, and the last official horror film in the series for a while.
With the next chapter things get really strange with this goofy franchise with #4's Bride of Chucky and it sure is different. It surprised even me that these films kept getting theatrical releases, which is pretty wild into a fourth and fifth installment, but they keep doing well. Bride is funnier than scary, but still a good watch, and again - Jennifer Tilly - big celebrity crush - she's bloody great, and so obviously having a blast - really fun performance both as human and as the Bride to be.
Then came Seed of Chucky - one bloody weird movie. More like Glen or Glenda or Freaks, it has it's following for sure, though I didn't love it. You should watch it - you'll find it hard to believe it not only played theatrically but did okay  ...SUCH a bizarre experience.

The SIXTH and final film(I believe) finally became a "straight-to-video" with Curse of Chucky just last year(2013) and though the franchise feels a bit long in the tooth, it still boasts Chucky/Brad Douriff and that crazy "good guy" doll who can't stop killing. Weird to see an older BD in the flashback scenes, but somebody obviously cares about this particular franchise's fate far more than I'd have guessed would/could happen. Don Mancini is his name, and he directed the first film, as well as writing ALL of 'em. Very cool, and I'd guess only PHANTASM has a more dedicated Director(having written and directed all of those) in Don Coscarelli, which is also highly respectable - I just happen to prefer this aging franchise.

But here's the catch see - the final Child's Play film does have one really good reason to watch it:

It's the ending. 
I won't ruin it but I will say the final 60 seconds of the Child's Play film franchise is the best ending to a horror series I've ever seen - no joke.
I sat in the dark as the credits rolled, and smiled to myself realizing I've been watching that stupid character since I was 18 years old, and I turned 44 yesterday.

This was also the END of the LAST EIGHTIES HORROR FRANCHISE.  Jason - Freddie - everything else is dead or rebooted, but this series lasted 25 years solid. Of the old horror franchises, only Phantasm will see another addition to its ongoing canon, but they started in 1979.

Very impressive for the only slasher franchise that doesn't have a lead human, so to speak.

So it's finally over - Rest in Peace, CHUCKY - that was quite the run, ya fu*%ing little bastard.


Saturday, March 22, 2014

Tootsie and Me

I loved this movie when I saw it in 1982. Loved him in the role, and the beautiful love story at the core. Loved walking out into the sun that day at age 12, and comparing the blue sky to that New York blue sky in the film. I remember hoping they'd make it as a couple.

LOVED seeing it again at the Oxford Theatre last week, and walking out into the exact same blue sky matching the end of the film.
I love it's wit, charm, look, humour and it's performances. I love how beautifully early '80s it is. I appreciate Charles Durning and Dabney Coleman a helluva lot better too.

I love Tootsie - and I love it when a movie you loved in youth is every bit as good or better as an adult.


Thursday, November 21, 2013

Some thoughts on UNFORGIVEN and 3:10 TO YUMA

I enjoy discovering the genetic material of moviemaking.

Clint Eastwood's UNFORGIVEN is an elegy to the genre, and an excellent example of a revisionist western  ...or is it?
I think it's an extremely interesting film for the fact that it sets itself up in the traditional ways of western storytelling then meta-rides through it's own contempt for the genre wilst utilizing it's tricks to both defy and embolden our ideas of "a western" at the same time. Even the decision to open the story with the respect for women that the genre is know for a definitive lack-of, is a genre-challenging choice that should let us in on the fact that this is going to be a layered intelligent film. The screenplay flirts with conventions while undermining its power with the same tools. Unforgiven, like Will Munny, hates itself whilst respectfully acknowledging the only language it can speak to us in - the language of fear.

I remember seeing it for the first time - I was a wild 21 year old, and the fear in Clint in that end scene - it threw me off, and I wondered why? Why the effect in me, and why the choice to end the film on the note of a seemingly powerful character's fear. Like Chinatown and The French Connection I wasn't sure if I liked it, but it called to me - I needed to understand why Unforgiven was told.

There's a lot of fear in the movie 3:10 TO YUMA as well, and I think this element of humanization is always the way revisionist genre will go. We create stories that mythologize the things we believe in on a grand scale - makes for great entertainment, but association with this is a bit trickier ..broader than the world we reside in. This is where realism, or at least the move towards it has to begin, so that we the audience can find ourselves within the story being told, no matter which character we find association within.
Even as far back as 1957, I think the audience of 3:10 would have been equally split between the motivations of Dan(the good guy) vs the motivations of Ben(the bad guy), and I'd even guess Elmore Leonard's choice of names was deliberate - they're pretty close. Each of these men is trying to be something specific and different, but each seems very much activated by fear. We see each of these men make decisions from different motivations and we understand them.

So much for color-coding cowboys, eh?
Will Munny could easily be Glenn Ford's character and may just be..
as well as being many of Clint's younger, wilder characters.
Is Unforgiven's Director not saying straight up "I've played a lot of violent irresponsible characters - perhaps it's time to atone, at at least address atonement."
Gleaned from David Webb Peoples' screenplay is that yes, Munny was a rather bad cat - drunk, violent and not unlike the scheming womanizer Ben of 3:10, who may just go on to become a better man.
But what does Clint ultimately say about the western and the western archetype by playing this aged antihero who rises to defend the honour of whores?
Plenty, but it's complex. Like his character in Gran Torino, I think Mr. Eastwood is at a point of maturation and recognition of much larger elements to the human story. The phrase "no more" is used quite a bit, illustrating a definite acknowledgement of everything that came before, both in his own career and the genre itself. As the Director of Unforgiven I think Clint saw an opportunity to comment very deeply on his own perception of violence, and when/why it is ugly but necessary. Or maybe it evolved as he recognized it within himself - the grand comment from filmdom's senior tough guy might be "..there's always a smarter way to face your fears than violence".

3:10 to Yuma is an excellent example of a revisionist genre film, whilst Unforgiven is either the ultimate revisionist western, or an extraordinary film-career-socio-commentary-meta-film on the ridiculousness of North American violence really well-disguised as one.


Monday, June 17, 2013



..blah blah..
I don't know what everyone's so excited about - fantastic new Superman actor - thoughtful sharp script - cutting edge effects - a cast that challenges the '78 Superman - yeah, what gives..

anyway, I'm off to see Man of Steel for a third time - I'll be back with a proper review..