Wednesday, June 20, 2012

20 years ago....
There are movies that seem to cast spells upon the people who watch them. On June 19, 1992 Batman Returns was released. I was 5 years old and I still remember it (however vaguely) to this day. It was my favorite gift come Christmas day and I remember making everyone watch it. I still have the VHS copy and lugged that thing for years to neighbors homes (most notably the Wilkey's) as well as on deer hunting trips (Yes, I was that obsessed with it). Tim Burton's Batman was great, but it was Batman Returns that really got me into the Batman mythos.

The villains, Catwoman and Penguin, had me spellbound (I still sort of have a crush on Pfeiffer's Catwoman) Each was also fairly complicated. I couldn't really hate either one because they were complex, possessing qualities of both bad and good people. But most notably they were "different," from what is deemed "normal" and I think I gravitated towards that (and probably why I gravitate to Batman as well. He's "normal" but also not "normal." Lauded and yet condemned. In the end, he is just trying to do his best and who can't relate to that?).

If I ever get into the entertainment business in either film or television, I know that it's because of this movie. Everything from the soundtrack to the set design  had me fascinated as a child. To me, Batman Returns, was magic--and even now sits highly upon my list (It's my 3rd favorite Batman movie in fact, right behind Nolan's Batman movies). It's influence is not only in entertainment, but in pure inspiration.

At some point, I want to make those kind's of movies (either write or direct). Movies, like Batman Returns, that are so grand and great that viewers don't simply remember it as a fleeting moment, but as a cherished memory. I will be forever grateful for Tim Burton's Batman Returns. Still brings a smile to my face...

To celebrate here are a few .gifs of my favorite moments from the film.



Note: all of my favorite scenes involve Michelle Pfeiffer as Catwoman.... Coincidence?

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

A Cabin, an Engagement, & Shadows--OH MY! Review Roundup...

In lieu of Deena's recent arrest I thought it was appropriate to include her as a .gif here. I also feel like it reflects my laziness over the last little while regarding this blog. I've completely let all 8 of you faithful followers down. But, I have "NO SHAME!" Time to move on, what's done is done. To further celebrate my laziness I've included 3 reviews in this post... because I have "NO SHAME!" Hope y'all enjoy.

Reviewer's Note: Due to the fact I've been lazy and haven't gotten around to doing these reviews, I'm offering each movie review ONLY in an abbreviated fashion. This is of course temporary and is only being done to get caught up.

The Cabin in the Woods
 BRIEF REVIEW: Though The Cabin in the Woods is certainly not up everyone's horror alley, it is a fresh alternative to the torture porn and remake trends which have gutted Hollywood horror as of late. It breathes fresh air back into the stale genre, while also cleverly turning scary movies on their utterly empty heads. The common elements of the horror movie are intricately woven into the plot of the film. Genre stereotypes and archetypes such as "The Virgin", "The Jock," and "The Stoner" are all on full display and are utilized or recycled, then deconstructed which leads to a reconfiguration as we find ourselves questioning every tenet and value of what is heroic, horrifying, and/or humorous. Yeah, this is definitely on the deep end of the philosophical film pool. Further, the movie is brilliantly paced as every cut and edit is meant to defy the Hollywood narrative structure. You'll find yourself saying, "Wait that's not how it's supposed to be," which is precisely the response it's attempting to illicit. The Cabin in the Woods is a delightful "tongue-in-cheek" gore fest, but does suffer from its own problems as the film's meta-referencing is so vast and deft, that the common movie-goer will find themselves lost at times. This is a movie that may actually require a prerequisite course in Horror Movies 101. In short, its fun, different, and may be the best horror movie (though because it's so different and bends the genre so much it's probably not a "horror" movie at all) of recent memory. One thing is for certain if you're a fan of Buffy, this will certainly be your cup of tea as producer Joss Whedon's blood, sweat, and humor permeate every frame of this flick.

The Five-Year Engagement
BRIEF REVIEW: Sometimes the trailer for a movie not only tells the entire movie, but is also far more entertaining than the film itself. Such is the case with The Five-Year Engagement. At times laugh-out-loud funny, the movie suffers from sloppy pacing while lulling the audience into a stupor of boredom. What should typically be told in an hour and a half, is instead drug out over the course of two very uneventful hours. I struggle sleeping and am probably as much of an insomniac as Christian Bale in The Machinist, however this movie actually put me to sleep. It's so uneven, that it feels at times like a really bad 'SNL' sketch that even Kristen Wiig couldn't make funny. For every funny moment and one-liner, the film has about a dozen truly stupid and lazy attempts at making us laugh. The first act is probably the only place where the film works, after that I'm not entirely sure what was supposed to happen. Of course they work through problems and finally get hitched (sorry for the spoiler, but it's a rom-com what do you expect?). Alison Brie does her best here in a supporting role and truly steals the show. Note to Hollywood: Give Brie more starring roles. In the end, I found myself crawling out of the theater wishing I'd waited for Redbox. It's really just an overlong, "okay" movie. Save your money for other Summer film fare and rent Forgetting Sarah Marshall, truly that was Segel's comedic peak.

Dark Shadows REVIEW: Tim Burton is one of my favorite directors. Needless to say, I was anticipating this film on that merit alone. Mix in Johnny Depp, Michelle Pfeifer, and Helena Bonham Carter and one should expect cinematic magic. Unfortunately, Burton's latest offering seems forced, uneven, aimless, and half-hearted. In deed, Burton seems bored with the material all together. The tone of the piece ranges from comic to dramatic, but does so awkwardly. I found myself wondering if I was supposed to care for the characters. The comic moments certainly are the film's strength. Depp, as always, is on his "A game," and even when muddling through sub-par dialogue and story, he carves out a memorable performance. Bonham Carter (Burton's wife and muse) is similarly great with her cynical personality and snarky sexually-laced commentary. Even still, their performances are simply not enough to keep Dark Shadows from sinking. The story lacks complexity yet still somehow manages to be confusing. Tonally speaking, Burton misses the mark--so much so that I'm still not sure if it was supposed to be comedic or dramatic or neither. The visual splendor and set design present in all of Burton's films was definitely present, however the lack of character development completely kills the film. It's been awhile since Burton has made something I've really enjoyed (Sweeney Todd). The more I like Burton, the less I like him as well. His film's seem either HIT (Ed Wood, Big Fish, Edward Scissorhands, etc.) or MISS (Mars Attacks, Planet of the Apes, etc.) and Dark Shadows is more MISS than HIT.

GRADE: C+ (only because Depp and Bonham Carter are so good)