Archive for November, 2008

THE SHIELD, created by Shawn Ryan 2002 – 2008

Posted in Action!, TV Series with tags , , on November 30, 2008 by Toi Brownstone

shield

I’ve just heard last episode was broadcasted last week leaving fans quite shocked, some a bit disappointed and some very happy. I don’t know yet, I’m still in the middle of the third season but can guarantee you this series really kicks ass and will focus on the seasons remaining non stop to confirm my definite verdict.

The Barn is a police station settled in the dangerous and troublesome Farmington area. Captain Aceveda, a middle-age Latin captain is ruling the station firmly and wants the streets clear from drugs, prostitution, assaults…in order to bring his ambitious political career to succeed, however Vic Mackey and his Strike Team have a more corrupted vision of law enforcement and are playing beyond legal limits constantly, putting not only their lives and jobs at risk but other cops reputations for their sake of the sake of the police department.

The Strike Team

The Strike Team

 

This explosive cocktail has been prepared with very appealing ingredients such as violence, ambition, corruption, drugs, gangs, action…screenplays are amazing at creating raw and complex situations and developments of events are pretty cool.

When defining the kind of characters, we should analyze their moral standards towards the police department and the law. In one side there are Mackey and his guys who use violence when necessary and try to get benefits and extra money from illegal operations. There are those for whom the accomplishing of law is the most important, such as Claudette and Danni, and those mostly straight but sometimes tempted, Aceveda because of his political interests and Dutch, for catching criminals or avoiding a parking fine.

It’s worth to follow The Shield, it’s an uncommon police series with crimes and investigation questioning society, moral and law. It’s out of question illegal activities performed by some members of police, but still shocking when reflected with such realism. I fuckin’ love it!

 

WHAT EVER HAPPENED TO BABY JANE? Robert Aldrich 1962

Posted in Drama, Thriller with tags , , on November 26, 2008 by Toi Brownstone

 144301what-ever-happened-to-baby-jane-posters

Amazing classic masterpiece duelling two of the most established divas at the time: Bette Davis and Joan Crawford confronted for their status far beyond the scenes.
This was a real one!

This was a real one!

I still remember reading about the making-off of this film how tension was always present and both ladies were pulling strings towards their side in order to disadvantage each other to demonstrate who was the toughest and the best actress.

Baby Jane Hudson was one of these Shirley Temple little monsters very typical in early 20th American society whose shows were based on singing and dancing showing all their talent and pretending to be perfect kids to the eyes of the audience. This star child was so popular even a Baby Jane replica doll was sold after their shows, however in the future, talent of her step sister Blanche eclipsed hers, becoming one established and successful actress.

Due to a not very clear car crash involving the two sisters, Blanche gets crippled and depends on both a wheelchair and her sister Jane for good. Not being a good actress and unable to earn money, Jane’s punishment for driving the car drunk is to care for her sister and give up her own life.

Main events happen within a couple of days. Jane, and alcoholic schizophrenic frustrated woman discovers her sister plans to sell the house they’re living in and starts not only her revenge but also her coming back to stage as Baby Jane.

Evil psychological and physical violence is shown through the movie becoming more intense and its end is one that makes you flip for a while.

Really it’s worth to watch it , I don’t think it should be just considered a drama film but also a classic thriller, full of suspense What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? won’t get you scared but can make you feel uncomfortable when watching it.

I remember reading the story of this movie and how the fight among the two sisters was trespassing the cameras. Two of the most established divas in that time showing their acting talent to the audience with two very different characters.
Sometimes balance favours Joan Crawford for her role as a disabled and dependent woman, suffering for her handicap but still enjoying her old success and money, thankful to her sister for taking care of her, with her soft and mellow voice and her goodwill attitude towards Jane.

On the other hand, Bette Davis, as the ugly and disgusting sister, still thinking of herself as the popular child she used to be, drunk and moody all the time, treating people like shit and living in the past most of time.

With both them either you feel sorry for or sometimes you despise them, depending on the scenes.

Moreover, watching this movie knowing they were arguing for better make-up, best takes…can help you to figure out what kind of bitches they were and makes the movie more interesting definitely.

What Ever Happened to Baby Jane is a must-see classic thanks to these two actress personalities and excesses, the story is brilliant and their acting is outstanding.

 
 

 

THE CHANGELING, Peter Medak 1980

Posted in Horror with tags on November 17, 2008 by Toi Brownstone

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I had seen this movie before but I must admit I was too tired and felt asleep so my memories of this movie had been erased completely and didn’t remember but two details, so last night I really enjoyed the movie and got very very frightened and impressed. It great to see a movie capable of you get goose pimples, without many effects but a strong plot and few devices.

 

Tragically John Russell loses his wife and child smashed by a truck involved in a car crash. In order to recover from the tragedy, he decides to move to Seattle  for a freshly start, he’s a successful piano composer and has accepted a job for several lectures at the university and this change can be a good opportunity for composing again.

Thanks to the Historical Society one of his colleagues is involved in, he’s introduced to Claire Norman, who arranges a beautiful and large house for him to live in which has a very special music chamber and becomes a close friend.

 

John Russell starting to shit on his pants

John Russell starting to shit on his pants

 

As soon as he settles weird things start occurring, noises, doors opening, glass breaks, and the strong feeling that he’s not alone, make him to investigate about previous tenants back to early 20th century in order to find out any circumstances which might help him to understand what’s happening. At certain point, John’s recommended a medium and her revelations are total appalling.

 

Wow! What a cool horror movie, for Chrissake! I’ve watched lots of haunted houses themed movies but The Changeling is outstanding, the medium scene got on my nerves…so simple ways to scare: doors, whispers, cries, a wheelchair…A tortured soul wandering in search of  justice is a very interesting and masterly developed concept in this movie. Highly recommended for terror lovers looking for something more thoughtful than zombies or bloodsuckers.  

 

 

NOVECENTO, Bernardo Bertolucci 1976

Posted in Drama, Epic with tags , , , , , on November 15, 2008 by Toi Brownstone

novecento

 

It took me almost half a year to have courage enough to see this movie, for timing extends up to 5 hours approximately. I’m used to Scorsese extended movies but this was too much, fortunately Novecento is divided into two acts so I watched it in two days.

 

Bernardo Bertolucci’s magna opera deals with all the political and social changes happened in Italy during the first half of the 20th century reflected into the life of two men, Alfredo and Olmo, born the same day but in different class situation: The first one, was born the landlord’s male grandchild with all his future solved and all commodities at hand, and Olmo Dalcó was a bastard peasant whose family was working for the Berlinghieri’s. Thus, the two sides of the coin are shown constantly: richness versus poverty, freedom and slavery, fascism against socialism and the introduction of modern techniques which made farmers less necessary and landlords richer…

 

Alfredo and Olmo, friends and enemies

Alfredo and Olmo, friends and enemies

 

 

There’s no doubt to cover such period of time the epic style used is perfect, however in my opinion there are lots of contents not necessary to recreate those situations: too much singing, very extended scenes, and lots of issues that don’t contribute to anything but to cause the rhythm of the movie to be excessive slow. I had to drink several coffees to keep awake however it’s true all the first part is slower and more boring than the second. Much timing could had been deleted without affecting the story, in my opinion.

 

Although there’s a high political content in Novecento, it’s interesting the way the main trends are depicted and even ridiculed, there are more visual symbols than proper explanations, probably because in the countryside people weren’t very much enlightened no mattered their social condition. Probably if I had seen the story 30 years ago I’d taken message more seriously, specially after 40 years of dictatorship, but nowadays it seems too much idealist and wrong.

 

Bertolucci counts with very established actors nowadays such as Robert de Niro as Alfredo Berlinghieri, Donald Sutherland and Gerard Depardieu and with the legend Burt Lancaster, however, probably because this is an Italian movie and together with dialogues and some characters’ extravagant conducts I find their performances quite forced and overacted.

 

Still, I must reckon Novecento is a good movie even though many important aspects  are quite outdated, specially those related to politics and freedom.

 

AMERICAN ZOMBIE, Grace Lee 2007

Posted in Documentary, Horror with tags , , , on November 11, 2008 by Toi Brownstone

american-zombie1

 

I had seen the dvd just released in the US in September and the title was attactive enough to make me feel curious about it. I didn’t really know what I was about to see, I thought it would be the typical zombie movie with more budget than usual. Anyway, I had the hope of discovering something outstanding or at least different.

 

American Zombie is not just a movie but a documentary about the growing zombie community in Los Angeles filmed by Grace Lee and John Solomon. Although they decide to join their experience soon discrepancies and arguments about which direction to take start: Grace, as an established filmmaker specialized in social matters wants to show zombies as a normal community struggling for acceptance by American society but Solomon is more inclined to find out the darkest aspects of these deceased living creatures.

To portrait this community 4 apparent normal zombies are interviewed: Ivan, a teenage store clerk working night shifts, Judy is a romantic and organized woman who tries to manage her life in a normal and healthy way, Lisa though is a frustrated zombie which doesn’t assume her actual role and Joel, a political and ambitious activist proud of having opened the first public office for assisting zombies.

After gaining the zombies confidence and insisting much they are allowed to participate in a zombie weekend in the country and be able to film zombies interacting among each other however at certain point their access to the camp is restricted for no apparent reason. Both curiosity and insecurity bring them to find the truth about zombies and the consequences of having stepped too far.

 

Teenage zombie Ivan with his girlfriend

Teenage zombie Ivan with his girlfriend

 

The strength of this movie is based on the documentary structure and footage both very well developed however once I realized what I was viewing I expected a lot more. The concept is very interesting but loses strength. Maybe the zombies portrayed are too normal very similar to common people in a total different to the way I’ve always seen a zombie, scary, menacing, super disgusting and lethal or the zombie as a creature is not deep enough reflected, I don’t really know, but at some points I felt bored.

 

At least American Zombie is definitely different to rabid zombies movies released but c’mon! We are talking about zombies and I’ve grown up with Romero’s, I need dynamism, blood and screams, not zombies worried about eating veggie or visiting a shrink.

THE DESCENT, Neil Marshall 2005

Posted in Horror with tags on November 9, 2008 by Toi Brownstone

the-descent

I had seen this movie at the cinema when released and wasn’t very enthusiastic about it but at the same time wanted to give it a second chance, for I remember reading good  critics and articles in British cinema and horror magazines. Still don’t understand why unless press works on money basis as well.

 

One year after a car accident in which Sarah lost her husband and daughter one of her closest friends, Juno, organizes a spelunking trip in the Appalachian Mountains for six female sport risk adventurers. Everybody seems to be very well prepare and apparently the descent level of skill is easy which makes them start their adventure very relax. Two facts turn this funny meeting into a nightmare to death: inside the cavernous corridors an earth movement blokes one of the exits and problems start for the super women, and the fact that the organizer has taken them to an apparently virgin trail, with quite few knowledge of the insides of the caverns. After realizing situation is critical they discover they are not alone…

Come here, you asshole!

Come here, you asshole!

 

Although I’m a woman I think all this feminist crap of adventure superwomen showing how strong, brave and smart they are is bullshit, and I don’t like the way this is develop just to picture them weak once things get wrong, that’s obvious, no matter whether you’re a man or a small woman, nature is more powerful and deceitful than human kind and nobody can fight against this.

 

Best scenes are the most claustrophobic, creeping by impossible and narrow corridors, but to be honest appart from that nothing else can be saved, even the chicks are not hot, if you’re trying to optimize the movie in some way.

AMERICAN PSYCHO, Mary Harron 2000

Posted in Horror, Thriller with tags , , , on November 9, 2008 by Toi Brownstone

americanpsycho1

What can I say about this masterpiece? Plenty of things in fact for it is easy to comment one of my favorite movies.

It’s true that first time I saw it at a small cinema in my hometown in Spanish got quite disappointed, for I enjoyed the original book by Bret Easton Ellis a lot and thought too many things were missing. It took me few years to review the movie and avoid detailed comparisons between movie and book, and started to really enjoy and appreciate Patrick Bateman on the screen.

 

The story happens at the end of the 80’s when all this Wall Street boom became so fashionable. Patrick Bateman is a young NY executive “working” for Pierce & Pierce who apparently carries a high-class life surrounded by all kind of luxuries whose most important concerns are which cool restaurant to have dinner, physical appearance including clothes, accessories and haircuts…, the latest album of Huey Lewis and the News…His personal relationships are superficial and women are just use and throw toys.

However his inner side is very dark and during the movie we’ll witness how his psychopath behavior develops and how his need for blood and killing is so powerful as to risk his own security.

 

It’s great to see Christopher Bale interpreting Patrick Bateman, it’s become his trademark somehow for him, right now I can’t think of anybody else for playing that role.

I would like to remark that surprisingly  the movie director is a woman, Mary Harron, something not very common for a sort of thriller-horror kind, and it’s delicious the way she deals with murders, avoiding easy gore and abuse of blood in the scenes. Hers is a more subtle visual language which doesn’t show everything but you perfectly know what’s going on.

Patrick being gentle

Patrick being gentle

Apart from Chris Bale, nowadays very fashionable thanks to new Batman’s new adventures, cast of characters is full of renamed actors, from young generation stars such as Reese Witherspoon, Jared Leto and Chloe Sevigny to more established ones such as Willem Dafoe.

What this movie lacks is extra timing, I think 30 more minutes would help to develop more Bateman’s obsessions and maybe some other shocking kill should had been included. I’m still waiting for an uncut edition or director’s cut edition for few time ago I read the script and some scenes and dialogues were not appearing.

I strongly recommend this movie to everyone, and in case any of you is interested in reading the book as well, please watch the movie first, leave sometime to assume it and then read the book. You will enjoy it much more.