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Showing posts from October, 2017

Treehouse of Horror Tribute

One of my favourite Halloween traditions is watching The Simpsons’ “Treehouse of Horror” episodes -or at least I to XI. Treehouse of Horror XII was really the first disappointing one, in part because their attempt at a Harry Potter parody ahead of the first movie was ruined by how obvious it was none of the writers had even read a Harry Potter book. Nonetheless, the annual special, which began as just an excuse to do stories outside of the shows’ traditional rules and to homage the writers’ favourite Twilight Zone episodes, has been a part of Halloween now for twenty-eight years. And like The Simpsons itself, “Treehouse of Horror” has provided dozens of memorable moments, brilliant jokes, and even spooky vibes appropriate for the season. So I’m going to pay tribute to the entirety of “Treehouse of Horror”, pointing out their best moments and worst, most creative segments, genius moments, and the stuff that didn’t work out. The first thing most don’t often realize is that not all of the …

Leave The Snowman Out in the Cold

The Snowman sells itself on its titular gimmick. The imagery of a snowman connected to a serial killer thriller is a striking contrast of preconceptions. Children make snowmen, so how can something so juvenile be played as deadly? Well, it’s been done before, and even if not, The Snowman proves its title creation has very little bearing on what the movie’s actually about. Based on the novel by Jo Nesbø, the story concerns a series of murders in an around Oslo, Norway and the alcoholic detective Harry Hole (Michael Fassbender) attempting to solve it. He’s joined in this capacity by Katrine Bratt (Rebecca Ferguson) as they discover a series of dead women who’ve had their heads removed, and at each crime scene the killer has left a crude snowman as their calling card. Their investigation takes them from unsolved cold cases to political officials campaigning to host the Winter Games. This movie was directed by Thomas Alfredson, whose last film Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy I liked quite a b…

Pixar Sundays: Inside Out (2015)

I've already reviewed Inside Out on this blog, so this week’s entry may be redundant. But on the other hand, that review’s over two years old and was written as a basic newspaper review. No doubt there’s plenty to add and expand upon looking at it more in-depth. And in fact, Inside Out is a movie that benefits by being discussed without filters and spoiler warnings, as there’s so much creativity and so many ideas being addressed. It was the movie that brought Pixar out of its slump (at least temporarily), being not only better than their last three movies combined, but one of the best animated movies in years, and one of Pixar’s highest watermarks. The film centres on the personifications of various emotions running the mind of an eleven year old girl called Riley. But when Riley’s family moves across country from Minnesota to San Francisco, the emotions don’t know how to adapt. Things get worse when through an accident, Joy, Sadness, and all Riley’s core memories are ejected from …

Not Much of a Fever for Tulip Fever

Believe it or not, Tulip Fever actually did exist. During the early seventeenth century, tulips, still the national flower of the Netherlands, became a really hot commodity in the thriving Dutch Empire, selling for exorbitant prices purely out of their fashion and beauty. And it’s against this backdrop that Justin Chadwick’s latest film, also called Tulip Fever, is set. It’s based on the novel by Deborah Moggach, but more notably, the screenplay was adapted by acclaimed playwright Tom Stoppard. That’s surely something to set your hopes high on. Cornelis Sandvoort (Christoph Waltz) is an aristocrat in 1630s Amsterdam who’s desperate to have a child with his young wife Sophia (Alicia Vikander). However he’s impotent and she’s sexually unfulfilled. When he commissions a portrait be painted of them, the young artist Jan van Loos (Dane DeHaan) falls in love with her, and they begin a secret affair while gambling in the tulip market. At the same time the film follows the relationship between…

Geostorm Confirms the Evanescent Disaster Movie

I think the disaster movie has run its course and it’s about time it died as a genre. Since Roland Emmerich’s Independence Day, which wasn’t that good a film itself, there’s been disaster movies every few years -hell in the years immediately following there were tons. But the novelty of seeing landmarks and cities destroyed has worn off to the point we’re numb to them. And no movie proves this more than Geostorm, the directorial debut of Dean Devlin, whose last credit is the screenplay for Independence Day:Resurgence. And it shows. Set in the not-too-distant future, a giant space station and system of satellites called “Dutch Boy” (a name the audience never manages to take seriously) has been controlling and maintaining global climates. When a series of localized climate disasters occur, the system architect Jake Lawson (Gerard Butler) is sent back into space to fix it. But on Earth, his brother Max (Jim Sturgess), a U.S. administration official, begins to uncover evidence of a conspir…

Pixar Sundays: Monsters University (2013)

Whose bright idea was this? Monsters Inc. was one of Pixar’s early successes, and their first genuinely good movie that didn’t have Toy Story in the name. But it worked best as a one-off. A sequel would’ve stood the chance of ruining the films’ ambiguous ending, and as entertaining as Mike and Sully are, there wasn’t much more to explore with their characters than what we saw. Why Pixar decided to make a prequel to this movie, rather than a sequel to something like The Incredibles, much better suited for one, is anyone’s guess. And to set said prequel in college is a strange choice too. Of all the avenues to explore in the monsters’ universe, why this one? On the one hand I gotta admire Pixar for this kind of a risk. A college movie isn’t something relatable or relevant to their overall demographic. I mean, no kid wants to see a movie about a university! And apart from that, it is territory Pixar hasn’t tried before; the general conceit of doing a college movie in this kind of a univers…

Back to the Feature: The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975)

We’re all somewhat aware of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, if not for its famed cast and music, than its rampant sexuality and cult strangeness. The 1975 film adaptation of Richard O’Brien’s horror-comedy stage show, directed by the shows’ director Jim Sharman, has become a staple of Halloween, a classic for musical and camp comedy fans. Not to mention, it also launched the career of Tim Curry, which everyone should be thankful for. Is it as wonderful as everyone says, as delightfully bizarre? Well, it’s about time I took a look. Essentially the plot is a sci-fi B-movie version of Frankenstein, but with a few additional twists. A recently engaged couple, Brad and Janet (Barry Bostwick and Susan Sarandon) break down in front of a castle where they’re sheltered by its bizarre inhabitants, a mad scientist transvestite called Dr. Frank N. Furter (Curry), and his posse of followers, a butler called Riff Raff (O’Brien), a maid called Magenta (Patricia Quinn), and a groupie called Columbia (N…

Jackie Chan Proves Himself in The Foreigner

It’s been a while since we’ve seen a Jackie Chan movie. His last major English language film that I can recall was the 2010 remake of The Karate Kid. He used to be everywhere in the 90’s and early 2000’s, the face of martial arts around the world. But he’s in his sixties now, playing very much against type in The Foreigner, which while being a nice welcome back for his fans, is unlike any other Jackie Chan movie. When a resurgent IRA group cause a bombing at a London bank, resulting in the death of his daughter (Katie Leung), Ngoc Minh Quan (Chan) makes it his mission to exact revenge on the people responsible. He targets Liam Hennessy (Pierce Brosnan), the Deputy Minister of Northern Ireland and a former IRA member himself for information. Hennessy, who’s having enough trouble trying to control the situation and cover his tracks, is unable to give Quan the names of the terrorists. But he doesn’t count on Quan’s history as a special forces soldier in the Vietnam War leading him to take…

Pixar Sundays: Brave (2012)

I, like many, was very excited when I first saw the trailer for Brave. And this was still during that time when I wasn’t really into Pixar. But this movie appeared to be something up my alley. A dark fantasy story set in medieval Scotland, it looked and sounded great! The fact it was being directed by The Prince of Egypt’s Brenda Chapman was another really strong point in its favour. This might be epic! But she was eventually replaced on the project by Mark Andrews, a seasoned Pixar animator, and that might have been the first sign this movie wasn’t going to achieve its potential. Brave stands out among the Pixar misfires as the one that really almost worked. It’s got so many pieces in the right places, but just the way it moves them doesn’t pay off. Which is a real shame, because I can see in this what might have been the studio’s best film. Set in medieval Scotland, Princess Merida is the daughter of King Fergus Dunbroch, and is under constant pressure from her overbearing mother Elin…

Blade Runner 2049: A Truly Masterful Sequel

Blade Runner is just one of those movies that everyone, whether they’re inclined towards it or not, should see. Ridley Scott’s 1982 futuristic film noir based loosely on Philip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? is one of the greatest works of cerebral science-fiction ever made -even if it took twenty-five years until the Final Cut to make that apparent. Visually magnificent, captivating, and unrelentingly provocative, it’s certainly a movie that never needed a sequel. But it grew a cult following and eventually near universal acclaim, and so now, we have Blade Runner 2049. It’s directed by Quebecois filmmaker Denis Villeneuve -who’s built quite a pedigree for himself the past couple years with movies like Sicario and Arrival. And his attitude seems to be “this movie doesn’t need to exist, but it might as well be done right!” Thirty years after the original, newly perfected synthetic replicants live among humans. One of these, K (Ryan Gosling), works for the LAPD as a Blade …