Month: November 2013

Dare (2009)

Perhaps by virtue simply of its title, Dare had to be something different. You can’t name your film “Dare” and then have it not take chances, and this film certainly doesn’t play it safe. This is a risky project, taking the generic teen coming-of-age/romance story and doing something different with it. In this case, that means creating three interesting characters, putting them in an odd situation, and seeing how they grow from it — if they grow at all. There are three lead characters, all very different, and all getting their turn in the sun. The plot is linear but the perspective is changed at each third that is reached. We begin with one character as the protagonist, but once he or she gets about 30 minutes, we change perspective to one of the others. I suppose the most logical way would be to describe the characters in order of their chance to be the story’s focus. First up is Alexa (Emmy Rossum), a good girl who gets told she can’t be an actress because she hasn’t experienced anything negative in her life. Second is Ben (Ashley Springer), an outsider who is friends with nobody but Alexa and may or may not be a closeted homosexual. Finally, there’s Johnny (Zach Gilford), a seemingly typical popular jock, but with more hidden feelings than anyone else in the film. The relationship...

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Movie Review of ‘Texas Chainsaw 3D’ (2013)

It’s hard to deny the importance or excellence of Tobe Hooper’s 1974 classic The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, which has gone down in history as one of the most unforgettable horror films in history. With its raw disposition and 16mm photography, it remains a chilling film four decades on, which makes it all the more disappointing that none of its sequels or spinoffs have come close to equalling its unique brand of terror. Even Hooper’s own sequel The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 is held in low regard, and the less said about the 2003 remake or its 2006 prequel, the better. And now into this overcrowded arena steps 2013’s Texas Chainsaw 3D, which ignores all the other nonsense that has occurred since 1974 to emerge as a direct sequel to Hooper’s movie. Directed by John Luessenhop (Takers), it’s a movie which aspires to restart the series without another remake, rendering all the gore in glorious 3D this time. Unfortunately, the resulting picture is just one more awfulTexas Chainsaw feature, showing yet again that Hooper’s classic is untouchable. After the events of the original movie, the local community are hungry for vengeance, descending upon the Sawyer Farmhouse with loaded guns and Molotov cocktails, burning the property to the ground and seemingly killing everyone inside. A baby survives the slaughter, and is placed into the care of a redneck couple. 40 years later, the baby has grown...

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Virginia (2010)

An odd, inconsistent picture, Virginia is a film with too many ideas and not enough coherency to bring them all together. There’s obviously something on the mind of the film’s writer-director, Dustin Lance Black, but discerning exactly what is going to challenge even the most astute viewers. What you get out of it might be a glimpse into the life of a small town in America, which might just be good enough, assuming you take the residents as seriously as the filmmaker does. The title character is Virginia (Jennifer Connelly), a schizophrenic, chain-smoking mother who is engaged in a long-standing affair with the town sheriff,a Mormon family man named Dick (Ed Harris). Her son, Emmett (Harrison Gilbertson), doesn’t know who his real father is, although everyone suspects that it’s Dick. Dick is planning on running for state Senate, which means the frequent stops to Virginia’s house, along with her “pregnancy” — we know it’s faked but nobody else does — inconvenient. Dick has a daughter, Jessie (Emma Roberts), who is liked by Emmett, despite the adults deciding the two cannot be together. Four character in, and you likely already have an understanding of the type of juggling act attempted by Black. There are a few more prominent characters, too, and some of them are so silly that you can’t help but laugh at their actions. But to them, everything...

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Movie Review of ‘The Kentucky Fried Movie’ (1977)

Years before the ZAZ trio (David Zucker, Jim Abrahams, Jerry Zucker) hit the big time with their comedic hit Airplane! in 1980, the boys were complete unknowns in Hollywood, endeavouring to find someone to finance their zany sketch comedy movie. Eventually their tireless efforts paid off, and the result of their labours was The Kentucky Fried Movie, one of the first films to be directed by comedy legend John Landis, who went on to helm other classics like Animal House and The Blues Brothers. It would be impossible to produce something like The Kentucky Fried Movie in this day and age, as it revels in politically incorrect humour and is about as raunchy as it gets. The material is hilarious thanks to the script by the ZAZ gang, and Landis pitches the craziness at the right tone, making for hugely enjoyable viewing. The Kentucky Fried Movie is an anthology of vignettes, each varying in length from ten seconds to thirty minutes. A large chunk of the movie is taken up by A Fistful of Yen, an uproarious parody of kung-fu movies, most notably taking the piss out of Bruce Lee’s Enter the Dragon. It displays the type of brilliance that the ZAZ trio went on to exhibit in Airplane! and The Naked Gun!, with plenty of sight gags (a human alarm in the villain’s lair) and general spoofing (an interrogation takes the form of a dating game). Landis brings the material to life with great...

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Oldboy (2013)

Over the decade since its release, Park Chan-wook’s Oldboy has become a critic and fan favorite the world over. While it might not be a mainstream picture, those who wound up seeing it largely liked it. If you’ve seen it, you have no reason to see Spike Lee’s 2013 remake. If you disliked the original, this one isn’t going to change your mind. If you enjoyed the South Korean version, you’ve seen this material before and the American version doesn’t really deviate from that. The film follows marketing executive Joe Doucett (Josh Brolin) who begins the film as — calling him “flawed” doesn’t really do him justice. He’s an alcoholic jerk who treats everyone like dirt and won’t even both attending his daughter’s birthday. One night, he is taken off the street. He wakes up in what seems like a hotel room, thinking it was just the result of one of his drunken stupors. Turns out, he’s been kidnapped. He will remain in this prison for the next 20 years. He is given no communication with the outside world, save for a television which at more than one moment tells him his ex-wife was murdered, he is blamed for the act, and that his daughter winds up in foster care. These 20 years pass in about 30 minutes for us. During his imprisonment, Joe beats his alcoholism, gets in...

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