Saturday, August 6, 2011


Horrible Bosses (2011)

Most recently I took my 14-year-old cousin to go see a screening of the new dark comedy, Horrible Bosses, in Santa Monica.

The film is a simple and pretty relatable story that almost every depressed employee who hates authority can connect with.

The film centers on three workers who are all friends (Jason Bateman, Jason Sudeikis, and Charlie Day from It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia). They all meet up at a bar every night after work and do nothing but complain about their bosses (played by Kevin Spacey, Colin Farrell and an insanely hot Jennifer Aniston).

When the three workers begin to realize that their bosses are the ones standing in front of their happiness, they decide to, after a big night of heavy drinking, form a plan to off their bosses. But there's a twist. In order to keep the cops off their back and eliminate any motive they all may have, they decide to pull a Strangers on a Train/Throw Momma from the Train scheme and criss cross each other's murders so there's no connection.

But of course when it comes to murder and being an absolute idiot (which these guys obviously are), what CAN go wrong WILL go wrong.

Now I'd be lying if I said I DID NOT laugh out loud a few solid times throughout the viewing of this film, HOWEVER, I also had a huge amount of problems with it. For instance, the boss/assistant scenario with Charlie Day and Jennifer Aniston? She's playing this real aggressive nimphomaniac who is constantly trying to have sex with him? And he continues to refuse because he's engaged? Now ladies and gentlemen... this is JENNIFER ANISTON were talking about here... She, if you didn't know already, is an insanely beautiful woman with an even more insanely beautiful figure. I didn't buy that scenario for a second. A man can only resist for so long.

And Jason Bateman? I honestly do not understand people's fascination with this actor. He had one interesting performance as Michael Bluth in the short lived cult television series, Arrested Development, and ever since then he's done nothing but "walk through" crap. When I use the phrase, "walk through," it basically means an easy role that does not require any preperation, physical labor or any real, true point of view.

Anyway, Bateman has pretty much made a career out of playing the same tiresome character over and over again in every dog shit movie he headlines. Just a middle-aged neurotic man (sometimes married. sometimes not) who is always the 'straight' guy in the ridiculous comedic scenario he gets wrapped up in. That is no different for his role in Horrible Bosses.

Horrible Bosses surely has its strong points, but the whole film is so bloody uneven, it becomes quite annoying. Just when you think your going to start enjoying the film, something absolutely moronic and low brow occurs (i.e. Jason Sudeikis shoving his boss' toiletries up his rectum).

So with this all being said, if your looking for an uneven, sometimes humurous, sometimes ridiculous, kind of entertaining, wild ride of an okay film then... see Horrible Bosses???


"I prefer to think that God is not dead, just drunk."
- John Huston

Thursday, June 23, 2011


1. MIMIC 2: HARDSHELL (2001)

-Now when I first saw the original Mimic (1997), I'll admit, I was impressed by how entertaining I found it to be. I had no appeal to watch it, but then I streamed it on Netflix and it wasn't half bad. Solid story, great performances, and pretty creepy if you ask me. You always wonder what lurks in those New York City subways... So it was no surprise to me that Miramax decided to make a sequel which became Mimic 2: Hardshell, released in 2001. The film had no one from the original EXCEPT Alix Koromzay (who played Mira Sorvino's friend, Remy, in the original), taking on the lead role this time. She plays a Chemistry teacher at an inner city school in New York City. One thing leads to another. Ya dah ya dah ya dah... Long story short. Long John and the cockroaches begin to invade the school leaving Remy, a couple students and a Detective, trapped inside. I love any horror/sci-fi film that involves kids, so... when I read this was taking place inside a school?!? I jumped the gun to see it. Boy, was this a mess. It takes like 50 minutes to actually get to the action of the bugs attacking the school, and when it does? It absolutely blows. The lighting is way too dark, you can't see anything. It would have been way cooler if ALL the students and faculty were trapped inside.. THAT would have been entertaining. But nope. A $10 million budget won't allow that apparently. This film drags to a point where you just want them all to die and get it over with. I found myself waiting for this piece of garbage to end. And it's not even 90 minutes! So. If your a fan of the original, DO NOT see this sequel. It's pathetic. I have not seen the threequel, Mimic 3: Sentinel, but... after seeing this one? I think I'll pass...

2. WRONG TURN 2: DEAD END (2007)

-I remember when I found out the original Wrong Turn had been released on DVD back in 2003 and I jumped at the chance immediately, renting it. And the verdict? Honestly? Eh. It was all right. Took a while to get going. The deaths were pretty cool though. The make up was decent. And the acting was surely tolerable. Had some B list names in there were all familiar with. Including Kevin Zegers and the insanely hot, Lindy Booth, as the stoner couple (who also starred in the remake of Dawn of the Dead together). Jeremy Sisto and Emmanuelle Chriqui as the hippy-like, loving couple about to get married. Desmond Harrington as the business-man drifter. And of course, Eliza Dushku as the ridiculously sexy, bad ass chick (WITH NO BOYFRIEND). The film was all right for what it was. Obviously capable of spawning off a franchise. In 2007, Wrong Turn 2: Dead End came out. I'll see any horror sequel no matter how bad it may looks, but this??? FUCKING AWESOME. For a straight-to-dvd sequel? This was amazing. The first Wrong Turn could of learned from this one. Centering around a reality television show in inbred West Virginia with Henry Rollins as the 'ultimate tough guy' host?!? The film is exremely creative with the gore, very entertaining, doesn't drag for a second. I love when you go in watching a film with low expectations and it ends up being great! Unfortunately once the THREEQUEL was released, (Wrong Turn 3: Left for Dead) the company lost a lot of money. The effects in the third chapter were so horrible, they looked like N64 games. Apparently Wrong Turn 4: Bloody Beginnings (it's a prequel!!!) will be coming out this fall 2011. Ohhhhhh.... lets hope they don't screw it up.


-LOVED IT! LOVED IT! LOVED IT! Now I am a huge fan of the original Cabin Fever. I think Eli Roth truly made a classic horror film with a twist. Something that could actually happen (which always freaks people out...) and it was like what horror audiences all over the globe had been waiting for, for quite some time. A film with barely any stars and a limited budget! It was like The Evil Dead of 2002. The film was a monster success and made a pretty solid profit, turning Eli Roth into the director he is today. So obviously there going to make a sequel, right? Unfortunately it took 7 years for the film to come out. Ti West, this time, (director of The Roost and The House of the Devil) stepped behind the camera to pull this sequel off. Now the final cut we all know (and the one I am reviewing right now) IS NOT the version Ti West made. The studio completely changed his cut and practically made their own in the edit, giving him barely, if not any, control. Man... Hollywood sucks some times... HOWEVER. I still loved it. The acting was so much better than expected. It was funny. It had charm. It had tons and tons of blood. What more can you ask for?!? It retained all the ingredients the original Cabin Fever had and more! For those who don't know, the sequel centers on a high school prom that goes haywire when, not only the punch in the bowl, but also the bottles of water that are shipped to the school, contain a deadly bacteria spawned from the original film. Seriously. SEE THIS MOVIE. If you like the original, I don't think you'll be upset with this.


-Yikes. How does one review such a piece of trash like this? Well. It's going to be a struggle, but I'll do my best. Now I am a huge fan of the original American Psycho. I bought the DVD as soon as I saw it. I just found it to be one of the most intelligent psychological horrors in quite some time and surely gave me hope with current cinema. That there are still people out there willing to take risks with a piece of art. And the fact the director, screenwriter, and most of the crew, were women? All the more exciting. Christian Bale's finest performance in my opinion. To be honest, I was very confused and totally shocked when the sequel came out. This is not a film you make a sequel to. But. They did. So. I saw it. And it was garbage. Mila Kunis steps into Patrick Bateman's shoes as the new killer. The "All American Girl" if you will. She plays a disturbed college student, who witnessed her sister get tortured and murdered by Bateman when Kunis was only like 12-years-old. Now that right there is a blooper! Remember??? Bateman never killed anyone in real life! It was all in his mind. Guess the writers of the sequel didn't even see the original. Anyway, so Kunis wishes to become a Police Officer so she can rid people like Patrick Bateman off the streets herself. She takes a criminology course taught by, wait this is top knotch... WILLIAM 'FATASS' SHATNER! Jesus... Kunis finds out about this competition to be the College Professor's (Shatner) assistant, so she starts offing all the students in her class so she can be #1. The deaths are just pathetic. Did I mention some horny dude gets strangled with his own condom? There are plotholes you could drive a tow truck through. This film is a total disgrace and does not deserve the eys of ANYONE!

5. LAKE PLACID 2 (2007)

-Jesus. It was only a matter of time... Now the first Lake Placid was by no means an amazing horror film, but it was surely very fun. It was entertaining, a little scary at times, and I'll enjoy anything that stars Bridget Fonda and Brendan Gleeson. So, of course, eventually the Sci-Fi channel decided to make a straight-to-dvd sequel that starred uh.... um... NOBODY??? Well, with the exception of one unlucky lady... This film has such a low budget it makes Plan 9 From Outer Space look like Inception. The gore is laughable, the acting is horrendous, the story is pointless, the characters are unlikeable, the crocodile is horrible CGI. Everything about this film is trash. Hell, they even made a threequel if you could believe it! How does that happen! This sequel alone is God awful. It made no money. Where do they get the balls to make ANOTHER chapter! And you know what the saddest thing is about Lake Placid 2? Cloris Leachman plays the 'Croc Lady' this time... CLORIS LEACHMAN!!! AN OSCAR WINNER! How many times do you think she said to herself in between takes of Lake Placid 2, "What the hell am I doing... is this really happening right now? Am... am I really doing this right now? Jesus..." If I had to say at least ONE redeeming quality about this film, it would have to be that it's sort of one of those 'So bad it's good' films. So...piece of advice? Either watch it shit faced, stoned, or not at all.

6. OPEN WATER 2: ADRIFT (2006)

-I have to admit. I really liked this film. Now when the original Open Water came out, audiences all over either loved it or hated it. I personally enjoyed it very much and found it extremely creepy. I, myself, am afraid of underwater monsters, so... I really respected the whole handheld camera feel. It seriously felt like a documentary to me. Some people complained about it being too boring. I found it anything but. AND you get to see gorgeous Blanchard Ryan naked! In 2006, the sequel came out, taking on a whole new sort of terror. WEATHER. The film centers on a group of thirty-somethings, one of which brings her baby, who board a douchebag, careless friend (Eric Dane) of their's yaht for the weekend. One thing leads to another. They all leap off the boat to go swimming, leaving the baby on board, but... OOPS. Eric Dane forgot to put up the emergency ladder to get back on the yaht. Now they all have to struggle to climb back on. Meanwhile heavy weather conditions arise causing there struggling to stay afloat all the more painful. The film is not incredible and can definitely dip into some cheesy Hollywood moments at times, but it's far better than I expected. I was on the edge of my seat for a few scenes. The acting was fine, the budget was solid. The story was terrifying and realistic. The fact that there all SO CLOSE, but so far, to getting on that boat just messes with your head. AND. A baby is on board during the horrible weather, with no food or water, so... yeah. It goes there... If you hate the first Open Water, STILL watch this one, cause there completely different films.


"Acting's fun. But life's more important." - Margot Kidder

Tuesday, June 21, 2011


Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (2011)
-Now when I heard a couple years ago that they were making a fourth Pirates film, the only words that circled around in my head were..."Why...? Why...? Why...?" But I gotta admit... Pirates 4? Not that bad...

Rob Marshall of Chicago fame takes on the fourth installment in the series. Pirates 4 centers back on Captain Jack Sparrow of course, played by Johnny Depp obviously, who teams up with Captain Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush) to locate the Fountain of Youth. Conflict arises when they come across the vicious Blackbeard (played by a terrifying Ian McShane, who certainly takes the Disney franchise to a whole new level...), and his stunning daughter, Angelica Malon (played by a bad ass Penelope Cruz). The quartet embark on the quest battling numerous dilemmas along the way.

Now I'll admit, I have NEVER EVER been a big fan of this franchise. I find these films to be quite boring to be honest. BUT. My father happens to be a die hard sailor and an enormous fan of the franchise. So every year they come out around the month of May, which is when my father's birthday is, so... I take him to go see it everytime. I even saw the first film in the cinema three times believe it or not, against my will of course... I even have the first three on DVD! So. I am no stranger to the series. The first one was enjoyable and definitely gave me hope in Bruckheimer produced films... The second installment I thought was the best, and still to this day, believe this. The third one? Uh... The less spoken about it, the better. But then four years go by. They regroup. Eliminate pretty faces, Orlando Bloom and the ever so irritating Keira Knightley, and start off fresh with some new faces.

Penelope Cruz and Ian McShane are totally the stand outs in this epic. The two work well off each other so well, it's scary. Oh, how I love when they get REAL TOP KNOTCH actors in Disney films. Just makes it all the more exciting.

There are some bad ass action sequences in this film. What I loved about this installment was how UN-KID FRIENDLY it was. The killer mermaid sequence? That scene was one of the creepiest I have ever seen in a Disney film. The suspense was killing me. And it certainly delivered.

Now some of the other new faces that appear are not half bad either. Stephen Graham (one of my favorite actors) is hysterical and wonderful as always. Richard Griffiths is very entertaining as the bubbly King George in the opening.

Now, you can't have a big Hollywood Bruckheimer film with out at least a couple pretty faces right??? Since they scrapped Bloom and 'Long Chin' Knightley, they replace them with English actor, Sam Claflin (who was recently seen on the shit show, The Pillars of the Earth), and Spanish actress, Astrid Berges-Frisbey (there's a name for ya), who plays one of the killer mermaids that has been kidnapped by Blackbeard to show them all to the Fountain of Youth. Her and Claflin begin to... yup, yup. You called it. Fall in love... Awwwwww. But honestly. They were not nearly as annoying as I coulda sworn they were going to be from looking at them in the big poster.

The major complaint I had about this film however... would have to be Jack Sparrow's introduction in the opening (nothing beats his intro in Dead Man's Chest. Poor little bird...). I mean, he's disguised as a judge to infiltrate the court? YAWN! I mean, don't get me wrong. There were plenty of flaws in this film. I didn't even enjoy Depp in this film that much at all. He's just making money at this point and sort of seemed cocky on screen. McShane and Cruz are the true stand outs.

So if you love the franchise, definitely go see this film. You shouldn't be disappointed. But don't look for anything more but big explosions, crazy mermaids, mindless entertainment, and some cool performances.


"You cannot live your life looking at yourself from someone else's point of view." - Penelope Cruz


Midnight in Paris (2011)
-Midnight in Paris... mmm. Such a beautiful title. Just rolls off the tongue. If your ever unhappy one day... just recite those three words out loud numerous times. Something about that title just soothes me.

Anyway, now to the film. Now ever since the 21st Century began, Woody Allen has been quite inconsistent. But I mean, the guy HAS BEEN writing and directing a film every single year for the past 40 years, so... come on now. What do you think he is, Superman?!? He's also 76 years old. Out of all the films he has made in the past 11-12 years, I thoroughly enjoyed Match Point, Vicky Christina Barcelona, and Hollywood Ending. But Midnight in Paris? This is a true gem. Absolutely gorgeous.

Now the film centers on Owen Wilson (in one of his best roles since The Life Aquatic) as a hack Hollywood screenwriter who travels to Paris with his neglectful, overbearing fiancee played by the ever so beautiful, Rachel MacAdams. The two do not agree on anything. The film opens up with Wilson telling MacAdams how he wishes to move to Paris so he can write more novels, which completely goes over MacAdams' head. She wishes to stay in Malibu and live an ordinary, traditional life. Wilson's character throughout the film is always talking about his literary idols. Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Joyce, etc... Then one evening, after his fiancee goes off dancing with a couple friends, he takes a stroll around midnight through the city of Paris and finds himself back in the 1920's and having drinks with get this... ERNEST HEMINGWAY AND F. SCOTT FITZGERALD! His dreams come true. What proceeds is simply a test of his engagement. Should he stay in Paris and jeopardize his relationship? Or move back to California and continue writing bad screenplays?

The film is so beautifully shot and wonderfully executed. Makes you want to move to Paris right away. When I first found out that Owen Wilson was headlining the film, I thought to myself..."Wow. Woody's really getting old, isn't he..." But that personality that some might find annoying of Owen Wilson is so perfect for his character in this film. You connect with him. You understand his frustrations. You sympathize with him. He just wants to be happy. Rachel MacAdams is wonderful as his 'could care less' fiancee who is more interested in Paul (played by a very irritating, unlikable Michael Sheen) as a 'know it all' nemesis of Owen Wilson, who he suspects she is having an affair with.

Other supporting stand outs are Corey Stoll (from Law & Order: L.A.) who is spot on as Hemingway, practically stealing the show every time he appears on screen. Adrian Brody as an hysterical Salvadore Dali. A performance that makes you remember how good Brody really is. Kathy Bates as the motherly loving Gertrude Stein. But the finest and most memorable I'll admit is the beautiful Marion Cotilliard as Adriana, who Wilson's character begins to fall in love with. I'm tellin ya, if Cotilliard keeps up the rate she's going with the roles she's taking??? She'll go down in history as one of the finest actresses on the planet. You just fall in love with her on screen. I couldn't take my eyes off her. Not once. A natural beauty. And a helluva an actress.

Midnight in Paris is a terrific date movie, Paris being the 'city of love' of course. So men? Bring your women to this film immediately if you want to earn some extra brownie points. The cast is great. The cinematography's excellent. The characters work. The message is wonderful. Everything worked for me in this film. I highly recommend it. And if your a Woody Allen fan? All the more.


"Being a screenwriter in Hollywood is like being a eunuch at an orgy." - Albert Brooks


Super 8 (2011)
-Now when I first saw the intense teaser trailer for this film last May of 2010, which simply consisted of a horrific train crash sequence and then something quite strong and enormous bashing out of the train hatchet... I gotta say... I was extremely intrigued. I am not a huge fan of JJ Abrams (despise Lost and Fringe), but I will say that he has to be one of the smartest guys working in show business, marketing wise. He knows how to stir up a crowd. I mean, it worked for me with Cloverfield, which I really enjoyed, and I found myself thinking Super 8 was going to be the same turn out. Sadly... it was far from it.

Now for the 2% of people who have NOT yet seen Super 8, the film simply revolves around a group of kids in their early teens, set in 1979, who are in the midst of making a zombie film with their trusty Super 8 camera. They end up travelling to a train station in the middle of the night to shoot some more footage, but as there filming, a train comes rushing by and ends up derailing, from being smashed from some guy's truck who rode onto the tracks. What proceeds is an insanely horrific train crash sequence (pretty awesome I have to say). The train crash is the talk of the town, but... there ends up being more to the story than just a train crashing. Especially when Government officials start roaming through the small town giving the Police, orders. And then eventually one by one, people begin disappearing. Something has emerged out of the train and lurks through the town.

Story sounds pretty kick ass, right? I mean, the acting of the kids is fine. Elle Fanning and Joel Courtney (who play the main kids) are absolutely terrific as well as the familiar faces that pop up here and there throughout the film. Including Ron Eldard as Fanning's drunk, controlling father. Kyle Chandler, as Courtney's Deputy father who he never sees. Noah Emmerich is great as the head of the Government agents who will not listen to anyone but himself. And even Christopher Guest veteran, Michael Hitchcock as another one of the Policemen! Which really surprised. All I kept thinking when I was watching Hitchcock was, "GIVE ME THE BIZZY BEE! GIVE ME THE BIZZY BEE!!!" Haha. Best in Show...

Anyway, what really ruined this film for me was that it felt WAY TOO MUCH like a Steven Spielberg rip off. JJ Abrams seems to hold his inspirations under his sleeve. Now I understand he's always been a huge Spielberg fan and that was one of the main points in this film is to take us back to the time of The Goonies and E.T., but come on! It was more than just those two films. The ending reminded me way too much of Close Encounters. Some of the attack sequences seemed way too close to Jurassic Park... Hell, even the alien looked like Optimus Prime from Transformers! Which Spielberg produced! I mean, holy Christ.

And did I mention that there are plotholes you could drive a tow truck through?!? Most of the elements in the film make absolutely no sense. The story structure and editing is really weak. It keeps jumping from one scene to another far too quickly as if JJ didn't have an idea to throw in between, so he just jumped from one to the next abruptly. I found myself at the end of the film, completely unfulfilled. It did absolutely nothing for me. No impact whatsoever. The only redeeming qualities about this film were the train crash, which I have to say, is one of the best train crash sequences I have seen in quite some time. And... SPOILER ALERT!!! The fake zombie film that plays during the end credits. The fake zombie film is better than the entire film all together!

Now I understand this film was set out to reach a more younger audience, but at times, it seemed a little TOO kid friendly. To a cheesy point. But the acting from the teens and their characters were far better than a shit load of the teen adventure films I've seen, so I'll give JJ that much. The film is not a disaster by any means. There's some tense moments. The gas station event... But... I just found myself, as I exited the cinema saying, "Eh. Just another monster movie." Which is a true shame, cause I really had high hopes for this one. But hey. I am like only in the 12% of people who disliked the film, so... It ain't like JJ's losing any money from this one. I think he'll be all right...


"What I am saying is that I believe in showmanship." - Steven Spielberg

Saturday, April 9, 2011


Hobo With a Shotgun (2011)

-Jason Eisener (the underground filmmaker behind films such as Treevenge and The Teeth Beneath) directed and co-wrote this insanely over the top revenge filled gore fest bloodbath. Starring John Ryder himself, Rutger Hauer, in a perfectly casted role as the title character.

For the people who are not aware of the background of how this film came to be what it is. It won BEST TRAILER for the Grindhouse contest back in 2007 when Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino were promoting their exploatation saga. Few years later it finally was able to be made into a full length feature.

Now the past few years it has seemed that exploatation films have really been re-discovered and have been brought back to life. With films such as Hell Ride, Black Dynamite, Piranha 3D, Machete (which went down the same path as Hobo did, starting out with a fake trailer...), and of course Planet Terror/Death Proof. Most of them usually fall right on their ass and fail but then others actually totally succeed and reach out to B-Movie loving audiences in a tasteful way, like the surprisingly successful Piranha 3D.

With Hobo however, I felt it to be a bit of a bomb in my eyes. The film has a terrific concept though, centering on an old beat down hobo (Hauer) who returns to his hometown, only to see it now filled with even more violence, including corrupt cops, broken down hookers, junkies, pimps, and pedophiles dressed as Santa Clause, in which he decides to begin taking out with his trusty pump action shotgun that he finds at a pawn shop. All the while forming a unique bond with a hooker he rescues from a sleazy police officer trying to rape her.

Now if you watch the new, unrated, uncut trailer for this film it practically makes you cream in your pants. I mean, it just looks like a borderline masterpiece (for exploatation films of course...). I couldn't wait to get my hands on it. Needless to say, I was unfortunately disappointed with the outcome. Now I am one of the few people who really didn't like this film. The majority of the audiences went insane over it. My main problem was the fantasy element. It was WAY too over the top and sort of just stupid with it's low brow humor. That was their intention, but I just don't think it was executed well. I mean, don't get me wrong, the violence is gorgeous. BUCKETS AND BUCKETS AND BUCKETS OF FAKE BLOOD!!! Almost as much as Piranha 3D. And I truly love vigilante, revenge stories and really appreciated their overall message, being pro-hobo. That homeless people are just as human as you or I. That element I connected with. But it was just a little too over the top for my liking. That silly fantasy world can get stale after a while. I just wish it'd be a little more realistic, (in the vein of Ms. 45 or Death Proof) but again, that's not what Eisener intended it to be. I mean, the film definitely has its pros.

The deaths are extremely creative (the bumper car head squash, the manhole incident in the beginning...), the gore is terrific, and Rutger is wonderful. So if your looking to be heavily entertained and taken away from reality for 86 minutes and absolutely love gore and fantasy violence/characters, then this film is for you. But just be in mind, that it's basically Superman rated NC-17.




"I see filmmaking as a business and pity anyone who regards it as an art form."

-Hershell Gordon Lewis

Saturday, April 2, 2011


Dream Home
-Ho-Cheung Pang co-wrote (along with Kwok Cheung Tsang and Chi-Man Wan) and directed this Cantonese bloody gore fest which became sort of an underground cult sensation at Tribeca 2010. I remember when I was volunteering there, I was trying to get tickets for it (but unfortunately it was sold out) and all I was hearing from gore hounds was of how violent and disurbing it was. I recently saw this film and yes, it was extremely heavy on the gallons of blood and fake intestines, but something was missing. A focused story line.

For those who have not seen this film, it centers on a young twenty-something woman, Cheng-Lai (played perfectly by Josie Ho), living in Hong Kong during the economy destruction, who all her life has had this unhealthy lifelong obsession with this 'dream home' apartment in the Victoria Harbor that she promised to her dying Grandfather, when she was a little girl, would own some day. Now in her late 20's and working as a professional telemarketer, making a living being hung up on by uninterested buyers. She is already in major debt, working a second job, and quickly watching her dreams of owning the apartment vanish. Which eventually causes this woman (already a little unstable to begin with) to mentally snap. Cheng-Lai begins to wipe out her competition of the rich as well as her would-be neighbors once the deal falls through of her ownership.

The killings are incredibly fulfilling and extremely creative. Makes Hostel almost look like Pee-Wee's Playhouse. I liked as well as disliked how the story was told for this slasher picture.

It's told completely out of sequence, starting with her murdering a security guard in the 'dream home' apartment building, then going back to her late 20's life style before she cracks. Then shifting in flashbacks of her when she was a little girl dealing with her family that are having their own debt issues and having to almost sacrifice her education in order to support her family.

However, what I DIDN'T like about the storytelling was how unfocused and scattered it tended to be. The flashbacks and cross periods worked to a degree, but after a while, they got a little too out of control and I didn't understand what was going on half the time. And then before I know it, BAM! Some chick gets her eyeball poked out and a pregnant woman is suffocated.

It is a very horrific, disturbing picture (Only the Asians...) and definitely deserved all the hype it was receiving at Tribeca last year. For gore fans, I certainly recommend it. For film snobs, maybe. Maybe not (luckily I am in between).

I mean, the cinematography's incredible. The acting's outstanding. It's just the direction and outline that tends to go off the handlebars at times. I found myself just waiting for the next death. But the film still has more of a heart than most slasher films. Most slasher/horror pictures you see nowadays just seem to treat its antagonist like some sick, pathetic individual (which, don't get me wrong, SURELY ARE!) that we can't wait to see dead. Which can work at times, but I found it far more interesting and refreshing for this film, that the main star was the protagonist and the antagonist. It's almost sort of sweet. How she made this promise to her Grandfather. And with the economy crashing down on her so badly, you sympathize with her and in a sick way, understand her motives.

But I gotta tell ya, this picture truly made you open your eyes and understand how twisted the world is nowadays and how competitive people can be, that they could actually stoop to murdering people to get a house to live in. As they always say... times are tough.




"My films are the stories of people who place the blame for their actions on others because they refuse to take on the blame themselves." - Chan-wook Park

Saturday, March 26, 2011


1. Michelle Williams
-Surely the finest young actress of her generation. Michelle Williams has spit out some of the most powerful, most dynamic performances over a consistent period of years ever since she seperated from the hit teen melodramatic television series, Dawson's Creek. In which she played troubled Jen Lindley opposite James Van Der Beek as the title character. The show was what it was. It wasn't a total bomb. Hell, I actually found it quite entertaining. And the fact that Dawson was an aspiring filmmaker definitely boosted my motivation to watch it every week. Everyone seemed to love it, just Kevin Williamson's writing was a wee bit unrealistic and unnatural. But the actors, especially Williams, did what they could to flesh the unreal characters out. Once Dawson finished in 2003, Williams hit the ground running as if she had just graduated high school and was eager to travel the world. With supporting roles in films like The United States of Leland opposite another incredible 'best actor of his generation,' Ryan Gosling. Tom McCarthy's cult debut, The Station Agent, in which she played a young librarian who falls for a man with dwarfism (played beautifully by Peter Dinklage). As well as Imaginary Heroes and Prozac Nation. However it wasn't until 2005 when she really got to spread her wings and take quite a gut wrenching role as the wife of a closeted gay cowboy in Ang Lee's masterpiece, Brokeback Mountain. The role earned her an Oscar nod for best supporting actress. She was flawless. It was also on this very film that she met her future beau, Heath Ledger (who unfortunately died at the age of 28 in 2008). Williams continued to crank out more and more terrific independent films taking on daring and even at times quite risky roles. Pretty much telling the Hollywood system to fuck off and refused to be marketed as a sex symbol. But it seemed no matter how many films she took on, her recognition was still not being rewarded as well as it should be. But then she came back with a vengeance tackling a lead role teaming up her United States of Leland co-star Ryan Gosling once again in one of the finest films I have seen in a while, Blue Valentine, in 2010. A film which she signed on for back in 2002 and had almost a decade to prepare for. Her and Gosling spent an entire month together living in a house as their characters (who are married). The preparation sure paid off and it was like watching a two hour acting class. Truly the best work she has done since Brokeback. Only this time she was in practically every frame. An honest and raw performance that most young actresses nowadays would be too afraid to take on and would much rather go the easy route with brainless material like Jonah Hex or Transformers (I'm talkin to you, Megan Fox) and just show their tits and ass for a couple hours. Williams has decided to stand the test of time with her acting. Something we can see her excelling at well into her 80's. A class act. Not only is she beautiful on the outside, but incredibly beautiful inside. She should just keep doing what she's doing and not worry. Her time will come.

2. Gena Rowlands
-A Woman Under the Influence. Enough said. Buuuuuuuuuuuut I'll say a little more because this woman deserves nothing less. Being referred to as, at times, "Mrs. Cassavetes" (considering she was married to him from 1954-1989), Rowlands held her own. Yes, she was Mrs. Cassavetes, but also one of the (and still remains today) greatest living actresses of all time. Tackling some of the most exhausting, gut wrenching, soul ripping epic films like Opening Night, Minnie and Moskowitz, and her finest performance, A Woman Under the Influence (All written/directed by her husband). In which she played an unstable wife of Peter Falk who eventually gets sent to a mental institution. Rowlands is not only gorgeous inside and out, but she is also just totally pure. Someone who embraces her age each year (Rowlands is 81). There is a particular scene in A Woman where Peter Falk's character, Nick, has all his construction buddies over for a spaghetti lunch made by Rowland's character, Mabel (Nick's wife). Later they are all at the dining table eating. Nick on one end. Mabel on the other. The workers in between. Mabel begins to ask each worker what their name is, each and every one. Her whole objective is to try to make them all feel as comfortable as possible, but it does anything but. Especially for Nick. It may not sound like an incredible segment, but trust me, check out the film and you'll know what I mean. Though, I feel, that Cassavetes really brought out the best in Rowland's work with the films that he made in the 60's, 70's and even 80's (with her awesome, kick-ass performance in the title role of 1980's Gloria), Rowlands still had some strong work on the side which included Night on Earth, Machine Gun McCain and Woody Allen's Another Woman. And her son, Nick Cassavetes, who is also a writer/director, has put her in some interesting roles as well (Unhook the Stars, She's So Lovely). Her best one to date being 2003's The Notebook, playing the elder version of Rachel McAdams' character, opposite James Gardner (the elder version of Ryan Gosling's character). The film may not have been amazing (Nick called it his personal least favorite), but Rowlands brought tears to the eyes of practically every one from young girls in love to macho truck drivers with one of the most tearjerking endings ever shown on film. All in all, Gena Rowlands is a Goddess.

3. Laura Dern
-One of the most underrated actresses of her time and never has gotten much credit considering she is the daughter of two acting giants (Diane Ladd and Bruce Dern). But this woman is so incredibly talented and edgy that I find her to be better than both her parents combined to be honest. Most people know Laura Dern as Dr. Ellie Sattler from Spielberg's 1993 dinosaur classic, Jurassic Park. But Dern's resume spawns much deeper and edgier than you could ever imagine. Working with some of the most interesting independent filmmakers, especially in the 90s. Including a few David Lynch films (Wild at Heart, Blue Velvet, and Inland Empire, in which her mother also appeared in). As well as one of the great indie artists, Alexander Payne, taking on the title role in 1996's underrated abortion comedy, Citizen Ruth. A role completely snubbed by the Academy Awards (but lets not get into that game...). She played Ruth Stoops, a drug addicted train wreck who recently gets impregnated and finds herself in the middle of an abortion debate caused by pro-lifers and choicers. The film is hysterical, but the performance is dynamic. From then on, Dern appeared in a few guest spots on some television shows, live and animated (King of the Hill, Frasier), more interesting indie pictures (Focus, We Don't Live Here Anymore) and even reprised her role as Dr. Ellie in the totally unnecessary shit fest, Jurassic Park III. Thankfully she only appeared for a couple of short scenes. Her most recent work was in another God awful unnecessary threequel as Prudence, the Headmistress, in 2010's Little Fockers. So unfortunately it seems at this point casting directors and filmmakers just don't see the brilliance and versatility in this woman and have treated her like she's just another fading actress falling by the way side, but there absolute morons if they think that. Because this woman's acting is far from predictable and has a razor's edge that can never be duplicated. Long live Laura Dern.

4. Greta Gerwig
-One of the most honest, remarkable and plain ole just real actresses of this generation. Starting early in her career with lead and supporting roles in the heavily improvised experimental films of the Mumblecore movement. Working with indie directors like the Duplass Brothers, Mary Bronstein, T.I. West, and Joe Swanberg, who gave her one of her only lead roles in the delightful 2007 edgy rom-com, Hannah Takes the Stairs. In which Gerwig played a young woman juggling three different men mainly because she just doesn't know what she truly wants. There's also Joe Swanberg's 2008 dramedy, Nights and Weekends, in which she also co-wrote and co-directed with Swanberg. The film centered on Gerwig and Swanberg, who star, as a couple who struggle with their long distance rleationship. Thanks to Noah Baumbach however, Gerwig finally got her chance to play a crucial key role opposite Ben Stiller in 2010's dramedy, Greenberg. This finally showed audiences who this woman is and what she can truly do with her acting. Having done nothing but shoestring budget indie films that pretty much only found themselves into really small, indie film festivals and/or Netflix Instant Watch. Greenberg was a theatrically released picture that did fairly well. If anything else, it opened casting directors' eyes and made them take notice of this brilliant young actress. Now you can see Gerwig appearing in multiple studio features, unfortunately mostly bad films, (these include No Strings Attached and the remake of Arthur) but still, she's getting more and more exposure which will lead to bigger and better things. I mean, this woman's paid her dues, so she's allowed to have a little fun with some light, silly pictures, as apposed to her earlier work where she was just pouring her soul out in practically every scene she was in. Look for Greta Gerwig in the new Whit Stillman picture (director of Metropolitan and The Last Days of Disco) called Damsel in Distress, which is set for release later this year. Gerwig + Stillman = nothing but magic.

5. Judy Davis
-Underrated 'no-nonsense' Aussie giant of an actress (who sometimes gets mistaken for Annette Bening), has tackled some of the most daring, some of the most intense, and some of the most remarkable performances and films spawning over her terrific career over three decades. Having started out in multiple Aussie films in the 70's and 80's including My Brilliant Career (might as well sum up Judy Davis' own), Hoodwink (no relation to the 2005 animated picture) and Winter of our Dreams. As well as giving a tour de force epic performance as an Englishwoman, Adela, in Sir David Lean's India based masterpiece, A Passage to India. Finally Mr. Woody Allen discovered Davis and realized how fantastic and truthful she was on screen (even calling her "the most exciting actress he had ever worked with") and put her in 1990's Alice, as well as Deconstructing Harry, Celebrity and her finest most daring performance in a Woody picture, Husbands and Wives. This was where audiences really noticed this woman's versatility. Davis played the wife of Sydney Pollack, who both tell their friends (played by Woody himself and Mia Farrow), at the beginning of the film, that there getting a divorce. Which leads to Woody and Mia beginning to start analyzing their own marriage. Davis played the role with pitch perfect unpredictability. She was a borderline psychotic, but in a way that people could relate to and understand and sympathize with even. Her character didn't know any better. She just wanted to be happy. That was all. Even though Davis is a bit of a chameleon (just watch her play Judy Garland in the TV biopic), no one plays unstable housewife better than her. I mean, her performance in Ted Demme's The Ref is surely one for the books. Classic scene where Davis is piss drunk at the Christmas party and Kevin Spacey (her husband in the film) says, "Why don't you eat something, dear." In which Davis responds with, "Lloyd? Why don't you eaaaaaaat meeeeeeeee?" The line was delivered so beautifully and perfectly, that you can't stop going back to that scene whenever you discuss the film. Even makes you fall in love with her. It did for me. Anyway, Davis then appeared in some strong and some not so strong films like Absolute Power, and the Bob Fafelson/Jack Nicholson film, Blood & Wine, which was supposed to be the finale of Rafelson's 'Jack' trilogy. The other two of course being Five Easy Pieces and The King of Marvin Gardens. Judy Davis may not have had a whole lot of great films come out in the past decade (though her performance as the snobby, protentious owner of an art gallery, Marilyn Dean, in 2005's The Break-Up is classic), but her body of work from the 80's and 90's is more than enough. An actress who has raised the bar to the top.

1. Parker Posey
2. Juliette Lewis
3. Amanda Plummer
4. Penelope Cruz
5. Chloe Sevigny


"It's unfortunate but our society is such that, for women in Hollywood, you get to a certain age and just fall off a cliff. But in my case, I refuse to die. I will hang on, by a little finger if necessary." - Ellen Burstyn