Thursday, February 21, 2013

A few thoughts on the 85th Academy Awards

I cannot help but to continue to watch the Oscars, it's my love of movies.  Who will win Best Picture this year at the 85th Academy Awards?  I really want DJANGO UNCHAINED to win but sadly it doesn't stand a chance I'm afraid.  The award will more than likely go to ARGO who is sweeping up other Best Picture awards in various guilds.  So it's a safe bet ARGO will be the big winner.  The only opposition I see for ARGO is LINCOLN or SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK.  I'd be happy if ARGO won, I really love that movie but among all the nominees DJANGO UNCHAINED has my vote for "best picture".

For me it's hard to tell who will walk away with the award for Best Director?  I'm going to play it safe and predict Steven Spielberg for LINCOLN.

The Best Actor In A Leading Role award should go to Joaquin Phoenix for THE MASTER; however, the award will go to Daniel Day Lewis for his amazing performance as Abraham Lincoln in LINCOLN.  What I'd like to know is where are the nominations for Liam Neeson?  He was amazing in THE GREY!  And what about Matthew McConaughey for KILLER JOE?

As far as Best Actress In a Leading Role goes, I haven't the slightest idea. I've only seen two of the movies in this category which puts me at a disadvantage. It's a shot in the dark but I'll say the award will go to Emmanuelle Riva for AMOUR. I personally think it's still to early for Jennifer Lawrence to nab a Oscar but her time will come I'm sure of it.

Tommy Lee Jones seems like the shoe in for Best Actor In a Supporting Role for LINCOLN. I'd be perfectly happy with that win but Christoph Waltz was amazing as usual in DJANGO UNCHAINED that I cannot help but root for him again.

While I thought that THE MASTER was underwhelming as a whole, I did however love the performances. Amy Adams deserves the award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role because deep down I felt it was her character “running the show” the entire time. It's subtle but it's there.

One more award I'm going to talk about. The one that I honestly care about most this year and that is the award for Best Cinematography. Roger Deakins must, I repeat must receive this years award for his beautiful work on SKYFALL. This is his year! Don't let me down Academy.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013


My finally getting to see SUSHI GIRL couldn't have come at a better time. Quentin Tarantino is a big influence on me and some of my recent script ideas over the past few years. It's very important to me that his influence never turns into copying. I loved SUSHI GIRL but in the end it reminded me what not to do.

SUSHI GIRL is an homage more or less to Tarantino, the heist genre, and exploitation film goodness.

Six years ago Fish went to prison. Six years alone. Six years he kept his mouth shut about the robbery, about the other men involved, and about the diamonds. The night he is released, the four men he protected with silence celebrate his freedom with a congratulatory dinner. In Japanese Yakuza tradition the feast is an array of Sushi served off the naked body of a woman. The woman is trained to be catatonic and ignore anything and everything that happens in the room. And I do mean anything.

So as you can imagine things get pretty heated as the thieves open old wounds over dinner finding out what happened to the missing diamonds. While technically being original a lot of this reminded me of the film RESERVOIR DOGS especially with all the flashbacks and torture scenes. The filmmakers did a good job of making an homage to Tarantino, but the lesson learned is that there is only one Quentin Tarantino.

The best thing about SUSHI GIRL is Mark Hamill (CORVETTE SUMMER) . He chews a lot of scenery here. Sometimes he lays it on pretty thick but the majority of the time he is amazing. I was getting tired of his shtick but by the third act he was really selling his character. Great stuff. Worth the price of admission alone. Being a low budget film and looking well made was another thing that really impressed me. I believe the budget was only a million dollars I think? I don't know for sure? It definitely looks more expensive than it probably was to make. The icing on the cake was the wonderful cameos from Grade A B-Movie actors like Danny Trejo, Jeff Fahey, and Michael Biehn.

My only complaint which is going to sound like a nit pick is one of the films music cues. The director of SUSHI GIRL should spend some time in Movie Jail for using the song 'Diamonds Are Forever' during the opening credits. I know DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER isn't the best James Bond 007 film but this type of borrowing just feels wrong,something you just don't do unless you know 100% that you're going to do it better. It didn't work for me. Gutsy move in my opinion.

Time will tell if SUSHI GIRL will become a cult classic or just be remembered as a Tarantino rip-off. It's definitely an homage but to call it a rip-off is way too easy and obvious. There are far worse rip-offs, far far worse.

If you like heist and or exploitation films then I rate SUSHI GIRL a must see.

Thursday, February 14, 2013


LIVE FREE OR DIE HARD wasn't the best Die Hard film in the series but believe me when I tell you that A GOOD DAY TO DIE HARD makes LIVE FREE OR DIE HARD look like the original film that started it all. And no the new film doesn't suck because John McClane 2.0 is even more superhuman this time around. The movie sucks because it's one of the most laziest action films I've seen in quite awhile. TAKEN 2 has more of a pulse than this!

Going back to what I said about the new John McClane from LIVE FREE OR DIE HARD not being a problem, that's correct he's not. In fact Bruce Willis playing John McClane is the best thing about A GOOD DAY TO DIE HARD. He's having more fun with this character than he did in the previous installment. What's embarrassing is that Bruce Willis is the only one in the cast and apparently the crew as well that knows he is in a Die Hard movie! Everything else besides Bruce's performance feels like something taken out of a generic action movie.

Before I blame 20th Century Fox for releasing something so bland with 'Die Hard' in the title and on the 25th Anniversary of DIE HARD mind you, lets look at who wrote and directed this piece of crap. Written by Skip Woods (X-MEN ORIGINS: WOLVERINE) and directed by John Moore (THE OMEN:666, MAX PAYNE), nuff' said.

Director John Moore does know where to put the camera but too often he loves the shaky cam and slow motion. He also likes to blow stuff up but his action scenes come across very uninteresting. After what felt like a 15 minute car chase scene I was starting to feel a little sleepy.

John McClane finds out his son Jack has gotten himself in trouble and is going to prison in Russia. So like any loving father would do, John travels to Russia with hopes of getting his son out of the jam he is in. What John doesn't know is that his son is a CIA agent working on a big assignment involving one of the big wigs involved with the Cold War and Chernobyl. So in the grand tradition of being at the wrong place at the wrong time, father and son team up to do what McClane's do best and that's kill bad guys.

Somewhere hidden within the convoluted plot, one dimensional villains, shaky cam, and generic action the movie does have shining moments when John tries to bond with his son Jack. These moments are too few and far between.

I mentioned one dimensional villains, the bad guys in A GOOD DAY TO DIE HARD have to be the worst in the history of the franchise.

I've raged enough, sorry. Bottom line, A GOOD DAY TO DIE HARD is a terrible entry into the series and a mediocre action movie at best.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013


Danny "Machete" Trejo verses zombies! Sold.  What could possibly go wrong ?  The script, the acting, CGI, the script, and Mariel Hemingway.  Mariel Hemingway?  I thought Danny Trejo killing zombies was the star? Nope. Damn, figures.

RISE OF THE ZOMBIES has one of the strongest casts for an Asylum Studio movie I've seen to date. You have Danny Trejo, LeVar Burton, Ethan Suplee, French Stewart, and Mariel Hemingway who I thought was dead.

Don't quote me on this but I'm willing to bet that RISE OF THE ZOMBIES had it's debut on SyFy Channel then was realeased on video unrated with re shoots (French Stewart is not listed on IMDB but is in the movie) and given a leaner run time on video. I say this because a lot of the movie seems missing and focuses on the action. RISE OF THE ZOMBIES is directed by Nick Lyon the man behind ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE which sucked and was about a group of people dressed in cosplay lost in the city looking for comic con. I'm joking, but seriously the whole movie felt like people just walking around 2 hours. RISE OF THE ZOMBIES is a slight improvement with more focused direction.

In RISE OF THE ZOMBIES we have nothing original, just your run of the mill zombie fare. The zombie plague is because of a virus and there is rumor of a cure. Alcatraz is a safe haven that gets compromised so a team of survivors flee back to San Fransisco. The team breaks up with some looking for a cure and the others just seeking a place to fortify because they believe finding a cure is hopeless. Mariel Hemingway plays Dr. Lynn Snyder who leads the group that wants to find a cure which makes her the main character of RISE OF THE ZOMBIES. Danny Trejo plays Caspian who doesn't wanna waste time and anymore lives with searching for a cure and would rather find a safe place to bunker down. Caspian is a far more interesting character than Dr. Lynn Snyder.

At the start of the movie when Alcatraz gets over run by zombies It's Caspian who truly shines as a badass killing a lot of zombies. This is where RISE OF THE ZOMBIES was winning me over. So when the survivors split up I was really banking on Caspian doing the heroic thing and saving the group seeking the cure. Unfortunately Caspian gets bit and turns into a zombie 40 minutes in and RISE OF THE ZOMBIES then becomes boring until the last 10 minutes of the movie.

There is fun to be had watching RISE OF THE ZOMBIES with zombie dummies getting run over, bizarre use of CGI, head shots with no blood, and a baby turning into a zombie which is meant to be shocking but ends up being hilarious.

One thing about the movie that I don't think is a coincidence is the fact it's a THE WALKING DEAD cash-in. It's probably a stretch seeing that all zombie movies are about sticking together and surviving, but you really get that feeling this is The Asylum's money grab at THE WALKING DEAD popularity.

I cannot recommend RISE OF THE ZOMBIES for a bad movie night. It doesn't quite reach it's so bad it's good status. They shouldn't have killed off Danny Trejo so soon.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013


Now this is what I'm talking about! Sell that Paranormal Activity stuff to the tourists. It's upsetting the amount of money PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 3 and 4 have raked in. V/H/S is the found footage horror film that audiences really need to rally behind. The good news is that the movie has seen some moderate success and enough of a following to justify a sequel S-V/H/S. I cannot wait to see it.

It was a good thing that the success of PARANORMAL ACTIVITY helped kill the gore fest horror movies like the SAW franchise. What followed was the return of ghost stories and scary spirits films. Too bad we've had maybe three or four good movies in this genre and the rest have been terrible PARANORMAL ACTIVITY knock offs.

V/H/S breaths new life in the found-footage horror genre. It's a horror anthology film much like CREEPSHOW and TALES FROM THE DARKSIDE: THE MOVIE. The found-footage gimmick comes into play by the movie centered around a group of hoodlums that go around filming mischief and sell the tapes for $50. The hoodlums are hired to break into a house to steal a tape. The break in is a success but they stumble upon a room with several televisions and vhs players. They split up with some searching for the tape and some watching the tapes laying around the room with the televisions. This segment is the wraparound that connects the anthology together.

The first tape shows a bunch of horny college boys hitting the clubs and bars hoping to get laid and capturing it on video with a secret camera. The boys get more than they bargained for when one of the girls they bring back to their hotel room is a real “woman of the night”.

Part of this segment if not all of it was filmed in Colombia, MO which was cool to notice. The gore was real impressive and accompanied the found-footage ascetic really well. The use of the secret camera was original too. A very strong start for an anthology film.

“Second Honeymoon” the title of the second tape was creepy and kept you in suspense of what was going to happen next. Shocking moments mixed with some dark humor from director Ti West makes this entry pretty cleaver.

I should mention that after every tape the movie goes back to what is happening in the house with the hoodlums. They start disappearing one after one until all whose left is the leader of the crew.

Okay, so now I forget what video actually came third, it might be the one called “Tuesday the 17th” which is about some teens driving to a lake somewhere in the woods. It's a slasher film segment which was good but I felt could have been better.

“The Sick Thing That Happened to Emily When She Was Younger” was my least favorite segment. It's Paranormal Activity with Skype and a twist of lime.

The last video “10/31/98” was my favorite. A group of guys go looking for a party at a haunted house. This was the best segment. A lot of crazy stuff happens and it's the right amount of scary and cool.

I highly recommend V/H/S to anyone that loves horror movies. It breaths the much needed new life in found-footage horror. V/H/S could easily be the new October tradition with it's anthology format always leaving the door open for ideas.

Saturday, February 9, 2013


January and February are typically slow months for movie theaters. If you're lucky your local neighborhood multiplex theater will showcase some Oscar bait before the big award show, but for the most part you get crap movies that studios don't know what to do with like SIDE EFFECTS.

I have wanted to see a few like HANSEL AND GRETEL: WITCH HUNTERS, BULLET TO THE HEAD, and GANGSTER SQUAD but after being kinda bored with TEXAS CHAINSAW 3D and PARKER, I'll just wait and rent them in the future. It was considered a bomb but THE LAST SATND should be an exception because that movie in fact kicked ass.

So Friday night with more movies than I know what to do with, I decided to play DEAD SPACE 3. After hours of survival horror video game madness raising my blood pressure going to the movies to relax sounded like a nice idea. So the only thing that interested me was seeing the re-release of TOP GUN in a special IMAX 3D presentation. Last year seeing RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK on the IMAX was awesome so naturally I thought the same for TOP GUN, turns out it was a different kind of awesome.

It was the last show for the evening and about 30 people showed up which is about right for a re-release in this day and age. The movie is about to start but at a few minutes before show time a couple of stragglers mosey on in. From the get go these guys seemed a little off by talking and joking loudly. Real quick the auditorium had this “Okay? What's up with these guys?” vibe to it. Turns out they were annoying during every preview which I won't get into because what happened next was amazing (not in a cool way).

These guys were the biggest TOP GUN fans in Springfield, MO! I'm not kidding. They knew every line, joke, moment, and what have you. Seriously one of them was laughing at a joke/funny moment seconds before it happened on screen. I could ramble on and on trying to describe the awkwardness that took place but it wouldn't measure up, you just had to be there which is cliché but true. The very best way for me to describe it is imagine Dwight Schrute and Micheal Scott at a theater watching their favorite movie of all time.

TOP GUN on the IMAX wasn't as cool as I thought it'd be. The 3D was worthless which did not surprise me. I wish 3D would just go away. Over the years TOP GUN has lost it's edge but it still has that 80's pop culture thing going for it which is cool.