Sunday, September 12, 2010

Road to 500: The Hand of 500

Another post, another round of movies. Still trekking onwards though I feel like I'm getting behind if I'm to make the main goal so I've got to step it up a notch. There'll be few more articles in the next week once finals are over so be on the look out for that. Now, carry on!

76. Piranha 3D

Man, that really chafes my ass that the 3D is actually part of the title. Anyway, this remake is refreshingly nothing like the original, apart from killer fish. An earthquake unleashes prehistoric piranha upon spring break in some dingy, run down fuck of a town that I can't believe would ever have such a healthy spring break industry (but what do I know about such things?), all in post-converted 3D. This is easily Alexandre Aja's best movie thus far, but considering how low I think of his prior films, that may not be saying much. I will say that for the first time, Aja doesn't have any pretensions of what his movie is and goes for bottom-of-the-barrel gore gags wherever he can, with some being truly inspired. KNB even manages to do good work here, with nothing having their typical pink-plastic sheen on all of their prosthetics, though I wonder if that has more to do with everything being in the water versus any actual improvement upon their part. It's hard to comment on the acting as no one really has enough time to stand out, other than Jerry O'Connell who is slobbingly manic as a take on Jerry Francis, proprietor of Girls Gone Wild. People like Ving Rhames show up to deliver three lines and then they're gone, leaving you with absolutely nobody to really give a damn about. That's really the only problem with the movie; the writing is awful. It constantly feels like it doesn't know if it should go to old-school nature flick "sheriff and scientist saves the town" angle or run with the newer Syfy Channel outline of "partying teens stuck somewhere," feeling like a mixture of both and never really satisfying either. Interactions between human beings are forced into trying to pass as reality and any attempt at characterization is a joke. The movie feels empty once you start looking back on it, which made me a little cheated after the exorbitant 3D prices. Don't get me wrong, the movie's a blast while you're watching it, as stupid as it all is, but try not to think about it too much once it's over lest you ruin the boneheaded escapism it is.
Sights within:
-Eli Roth in the role he was born for.
-World's most unexpected cameo of a character from a far better movie.
-The underwater "ballet" sequence is probably one of the most absurdly stupid scenes of the year.
-Penis abuse.
-A boat motor skins a woman's face by yanking her hair off, the best argument for CGI gore effects yet.
-A complete slaughter of spring break dipshits, which should have been the climax since anything that came afterwards was just boring in comparison.
-Best performance by a survivor of Stand By Me.
Grade: C+


77. The Wicker Man

I can't believe I didn't get around to this one sooner. A devoutly religious inspector gets a message alerting him to the disappearance of a little girl on an isolated island community, but when he arrives the town doesn't know what he's talking about. The town seems fine at first, but as the movie goes on, there's something off about it that actually starts to get under your skin as you watch. As the inspector uncovers the different layers of the town's religion, it gets progressively unnerving, until the rituals performed by the town come across as horrifying. A large part of the movie's success is due to Edward Woodward's role as the inspector. He plays it so earnestly and committed that we can't help but feel for him when his faith is torn apart by these "heathens." To believably portray a man broken is one of the most harrowing sights in a film. If this aspect didn't come across, the rituals depicted in the movie would be laughable. Adding to the atmosphere is the music of the movie. Everybody on this fucking island sings, constantly. This would be a bad thing if the music wasn't as good as it is. The Scottish folk music fits in with the old-fashioned pagan ways of the island. The film ends a little predictably, but it still feels haunting and depressing even knowing what's about to happen. The way the movie lingers on what's happening along with both the inspector's and the villager's reactions are the epitomes of trauma.
Sights within:
-Corn rigs?
-World's most nightmarish visions of Christopher Lee in a dress.
-Quit fucking singing! I'm trying to sleep!
-Midnight orgies. What happens in Summerisle stays in Summerisle.
-Best performance by a man in a horse costume.
-Folk music has never seemed so sinister.
-Best performance of a song Eli Roth had no fucking right to use in his worst movie.
-Innkeeper abuse.
Grade: A


78. The Wicker Man

Take everything I just said about the original, and reverse it. What a fucking joke. It has the same basic story as the first one, even though I still have no idea what the point of the prologue is. Is it to give him motivation to find the missing girl as redemption? But couldn't that be accomplished through what he learns about the missing girl? Fuck it, I don't know. Anyways, instead of it being your typical seeming town who relies on an apple harvest, the remake turns Summerisle into a matriarchal society who depends on honey for their crop. It's an interesting take, with women in power and tying it into the society of the bees where the queen is the most important member, but the movie doesn't really do anything with it. Nor anything else, for the most point. Nicholas Cage, who must of stopped taking his meds in a bid for method acting, runs around the island emoting like a fifteen-year old on Facebook. I don't know if he was trying to portray a man with bipolar, but he succeeds admirably. The movie's story consists of Cage hitting different points on the island as a "best-of" from the original and taking time out to slap women around. If you didn't think Neil LaBute hated women before with his other films, you can't deny it with this one. It somehow accomplishes being both boring and rushed at the same time, until it ends in the most ludicrous way possible, all thanks to Cage. That's really the only saving grace for the entire film. Cage's unintentional hilarity is already the thing of internet memes history, and deservedly so. But if you were going in to this thinking it'll be hilariously bad the whole way through, you'll be sadly let down. It's a mostly humorless, ridiculous wreck of a film. It's just all so stupid, you almost want to put a helmet on it to stop it from hurting itself.
Sights within:
-How did the fucking truck get on that side of the road anyway? How is that whole scene even possible?
-How many times does someone have to yell "Rowan" before they realize it's not accomplishing anything.
-Best performance by Nicholas Cage in a bear costume.
-World's largest assembly of man-hating she-bitches on one island.
-Nicholas Cage: He really likes his bicycles.
-That scene in the classroom is just great.
-Ellen Burstyn abuse.
-Does Leelee Sobieski even serve a point in this movie?
-World's worst tacked on epilogue.
Grade: D+


79. Hit and Run

What an oddity. It looks cheap but has some polish, it tries to be serious but it's so stupid at the same time. The movie's constantly at odds with it self. A complete moron is heading home after binge drinking and runs over a guy, embedding him pretty well into her grill. She finds this out later of course, while she's grabbing a midnight snack, and thinks she's killed him. She drives out to the woods to bury the guy, without bothering to throw on a pair of pants or warm shirt even though there's a monsoon going on outside, indicative of the level of intelligence we're dealing with here. Of course he's not dead, and soon he's terrorizing the dip as you would imagine. The director tries to inject a lot of style and it gives the movie a slick feel even though it was obviously made on the cheap. I can't imagine what percentage of the budget went to using the Modest Mouse song. The problem is the film is just laughably stupid. The girl and her boyfriend are running on the same brain capacity as Delmar from O Brother, Where Art Thou? so you can never take them seriously. When Mr. Roadkill comes back, he's played so over the top by Kevin Corrigan that there's no hope for menace. It's just so absurd that you can't help but laugh. You can't help but think the movie was funded by rich dipshits from Jersey shore and somehow found distribution. It's hard to make up my mind about this movie. I hate it because of its idiocy, but I love it for the perverse glee I got while watching it. I guess I'll meet it in the middle and declare it as "alright."
Sights within:
-Modest Mouse abuse.
-"Help me." "Die!"
-A frisbee is the most practical of all digging utensils.
-Are bipolar people allowed to be kindergarten teachers?
-Best performance by hyper-intelligent parrots.
-To cover up a possible hit and run, it is best to repeatedly bash your car into a tree to cover up any sort of evidence on your bumper.
-Car bumper adorned with human girl and lit Christmas lights.
-She's worried about being traced by a blanket, but apparently the traces of blood on her clothes, her car and in her house aren't a problem.
-When your husband chokes you out, maybe there's a call for more concern then you're showing.
-Electrical cord to the eye.
-World's most asshole boyfriend.
Grade: C


80. Something with Bite

It's kind of sad that the one funny Fear Itself episode isn't from John Landis, but then again, most of Ernest Dickerson's movies have had a pretty good sense of humor. This one involves a sad-sack veterinarian getting bit by a dying werewolf and soon doesn't know whether he's responsible for a rash of killings. Wilbur, the vet, is what keeps the movie entertaining as we see him gain his confidence back and becomes someone we care about, all with a sense of fun. It's a shame the movie even has to deal with the sub-plot of the wolf killings since it takes away from the enjoyment of Wilbur and his family. But the manages to bring up a creative explanation that make sit worth it. This has one of the only memorable endings in the whole series thanks to how well it was pulled off. There were a few things I would have liked to see expanded on, but it was hobbled by the format of the series from the get-go. Still, it's one of the more enjoyable episodes.
Sights within:
-World's most realistic depiction of a slob.
-I'm pretty sure a vet could tell the difference between a dog and a man-beast.
-Best performance by bushy eyebrows.
-Slacker abuse.
-A pretty cool, practical wolf outfit.
-Watch it here.
Grade: B
(Couldn't find any specific videos for this one and I'm skipping the generic trailer so you're off the hook)


81. The Girl Next Door

I think I may have been ruined by the book. After reading Ketchum's novel for the first time, I felt traumatized, almost to the point of questioning why I like the genre so much and what that says about me. Thankfully, that passed by the next Tuesday's releases. I was hoping the movie would be able to inspire the same feeling but it falls somewhat short. The story concerns two young girls sent to live with their aunt, who then gradually heaps more and more abuse on them, inspiring the neighborhood boys to go along with it. We start out in the typical notion of what the 60's look like in films; sunny, hazy, yellows and oranges everywhere with kids smiling and classic cars driving around. By the time the movie ends, it's degenerated to the point of delving in filthy basements with ghoulish children sneering. It's not easy to watch this young girl broken down, but it still feels as though something's missing to make it really hit home. The movie stays relatively faithful to the book, only omitting elements for the sake of time. Every horrible element from the novel makes it here without any compromises, which means it should have the same impact but the execution diminishes it, especially the final few moments which feel very rushed. The look and feel of the movie comes across as very "TV Movie Of the Week," with the acting falling in line. It's never hard to forget you're watching a movie compared to the immersive experience of reading the book. The movie's not an easy watch, but for the full capabilities of the story, I'd suggest reading the novel first.
Sights within:
-World's worst fatherly talk about spouse abuse.
-Wonder how many cans of pomade they went through during production?
-Best performance by alcoholic minors.
-Blow torch abuse.
-Always walking in at the wrong time.
Grade: B


82. New Year's Day

One of the more disappointing entries of Fear Itself. When the combined talents of Steve Niles and Darren Lynn Bousman can't save ya, who can? A chain smoker wakes up with a mean hangover after a New Year's Eve party only to find a zombie outbreak. Cue up your typical story of trying to get through the zombies to a loved one, only shot in the most ADD way possible. I dare you to find a still image anywhere in this. The camera stutters around like the operator stepped on a live wire and was being fried even as the film rolled and the editing only serves as a back-up for sheer confusion. For forty minutes, we're treated to this chick wandering around through every zombie cliche as she agonizes over her maudlin boy troubles, the film losing momentum the longer it goes on. You just want to slap her before the movie's over. This was only forty-something minutes and it still felt long. It ends with a somewhat unique twist but it can't make up for the tedium that comes before it.
Sights within:
-Jump cut abuse.
-She has the voice of someone who's hung out in dive bars for twenty years.
-World's longest, uninteresting scene inside of a car park.
-Is she sure her roommate's not gay?
-Wow, who didn't see that coming about her boyfriend? That was so telegraphed, Western Union sent Joe Flaherty to deliver it.
-Best performance by motion sickness.
-Lionsgate seems to have a mandate where 80% of everything they distribute has to be shot with sickly blue, green, and orange filters.
-Watch it here.
Grade: D-

Movies Watched: 6
-The Wicker Man
-The Wicker Man ('06)
-Hit and Run
-Something With Bite
-The Girl Next Door
-New Year's Day
New Movies Bought: 0
Unseen DVDS: 3190
Unseen Blu-rays: 65
Unseen VHS: 119
Unseen DVD-R'S: 5

Momma squeeze
Grace my spine
Walk on thru the camera eye

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