Viewed – 23 October 2013 DVD
It always surprises me that it wasn’t until the late nineties that I first watched and loved Stanley Kubrick’s much acclaimed horror masterpiece The Shining. I have subsequently watched it several times over the last decade or more and enjoyed it on a very appreciative level – it remains for me the perfect horror movie – both technically and when it comes to foreboding atmosphere. So a documentary exploring the many hidden meanings supposedly within the movie was very appealing.
Directed by Rodney Ascher and pieced together from various testimonials by film fanatics, specialists and The Shining fans – this is a fascinating look at a remarkable piece of film making. Whether or not I agree with some of the theories presented here (many of which do seem a bit crazy) it makes for interesting viewing, especially if you have a good knowledge of the movie itself. It made me want to sit down and watch the movie again, but not necessarily to spot all the Native American imagery or vague nods to the holocaust(!) but because its just a damn good piece of entertainment. I think some of the people talking on this doc have waaay too much time on their hands, but some observations, such as little (deliberate?) mistakes and freaky coincidences are fun to ponder.
As a documentary I think it makes for an interesting 90 minutes, but doesn’t give you a completely new perspective of The Shining, unless you are as anal and obsessive as these guys clearly are … Kubrick faked the moon landing?? Okaaaaay.
Verdict: 3 /5
Viewed – 09 October 2013 DVD
A big-screen outing for the much acclaimed cult British TV series ‘The League Of Gentlemen’ would seem a natural progression for a series that spanned three seasons, a tour and even a pantomime (!). But the reaction to this imaginative feature was bittersweet indifference at best. I suppose in hindsight, basing a movie on the idea of these much loved creations being killed off, starts things with a downer from the off. But let’s not be too hasty. The characters of rural village Royston Vasey learn of an impending Armageddon on their world following a prophesy and choose to enter the real world in order to seek out their creators, Mark Gatiss, Steve Pemberton and Reece Shearsmith so to convinced them to write them back into being again.
For such a gifted group of comediennes, along with writer / producer Jeremy Dyson (played in the movie by Michael Sheen) such a premise seems right for them – they would never take the easy route and always come up with something clever – and clever this is. Segway’s into a sixteen century ‘movie script’ featuring David Warner as a wizard plotting a King’s murder causes proceedings to lose their focus, but along with cameos from Victoria Wood, Peter Kay and Simon Pegg – the wealth of ideas and sharp dialogue (with many funny lines) manage to make this entertaining regardless.
Fans of the TV series will probably always find room to nit pick (as could I – not enough Pauline or Papa Lazarou, dodgy stop-motion animation, and the ending plays on one of the oldest clichés in the book). This is after all, the ultimate swansong for the characters, and it’s sad to see them go. Yet on it’s own merits, Apocalypse probably is as good as we could have hoped for. Isn’t that right, Dave?
Verdict: 3 /5
Viewed – 03 October 2013 DVD
I have been a casual admirer of the horror movie output of rocker turned director Rob Zombie over the years, especially liking his masterful ‘The Devil’s Rejects’ and even bizarre freakishness like ‘House of 1000 Corpses’. His style, skill and taste for disturbing violence and hallucinogenic imagery struck a cord with this horror junkie. Even his ill-advised but interesting remake of Halloween didn’t put me off (less said about the awful follow up, the better). But now we come to his latest and strangest effort, showcasing the obvious screen presence of Goth muse (and wife) Sherry Moon Zombie.
Sherry plays Heidi, a radio DJ living in Salem who rents a room at a hotel run by three slightly odd elderly women. When a mysterious record is delivered to her personally at the radio station, on playing it she begins to experience disturbing visions, apparently relating to a witches coven back in the sixteen hundreds. Is Heidi going crazy, or are The Lords Of Salem back?
A slightly different style for Zombie this, less violent slasher, more freaky supernatural fantasy with echoes of The Shining, Rosemary’s Baby, and even his own House of 1000 Corpses. Sherry is both likable and quite sexy as the main star and carries the movie well, and although this isn’t about performances, all cast members help create a foreboding and eerie atmosphere. The devil-worship themes are very under your skin stuff and although fairly tame for Zombie standards, when the claret flies its quite nasty. Mostly though this is a movie about style, and weird shit going down, goats, mutant babies (!), demonic women and biblical & satanic imagery. It all gets a bit nuts towards the end and the conclusion is underwhelming … but overall I had a good time, and yes it’s far better than Halloween 2 (damn I thought I wasn’t going to say anything about that!).
Verdict: 3 /5
- The Lords of Salem Is Like a Cheerleader (backtothepast.tv)
- The Lords Of Salem: 6 Most Unsettling Moments (jarviscity.com)
- Critics Tended to Hate ‘The Lords of Salem’. They’re Wrong. (Review) (popmatters.com)
Viewed – 20 September 2013 DVD
I love magic, from the likes of Penn & Teller to David Blaine and Cris Angel, so this was an easy pick for me. Four famed street magicians are brought together by a mystery organization known as The Eye to use their skills at illusion to pull off a series of elaborate heists. Yet an FBI agent (Mark Ruffalo) is hot on their heels, aided by a former magician (Morgan Freeman) who now hosts a TV show exposing the secrets behind so called magic tricks.
This is a very entertaining and cleverly plotted thriller, deftly put together by The Transporter’s Louis Leterrier and with several stand out performances, most notably the always interesting Mark Ruffalo and also Jesse Eisenberg, doing his geek/genius thing to perfection. Also on hand is a sexy Isla Fisher and an enjoyably dead-pan Woody Harrelson. For me the plot got a bit convoluted and some of the twists and turns were a little hard to swallow (especially the ending). Also by exploring a subject many still consider steeped in mystery, the ‘magic’ goes a tad over the top and far fetched, with unnecessary use of CGI. Also the motive for these clearly gifted illusionists turning to crime is not explored which I found hard to understand, especially when they clearly make them selves known for their crimes (?).
That being said the action, including an intense car chase and the illusions themselves make for a gripping and enjoyable experience over all, backed up by some very stylish looks. Just a shame its all a bit too frantic and clever (or complicated?) for its own good.
Verdict: 3 /5
Viewed - 20 July 2008 DVD & revisited 27 July 2013 Blu-ray
Picked this up rather cheap recently, and thought it really deserved a review. James (Avatar) Cameron’s 1997 epic disaster movie / love story took no less than 11 Oscars at the time, and once you have sat through the 3hr+ movie, it’s not hard to see why. Everything about this grand spectacle reeks of class. The production design is outstanding, fully recreating one of the most famous ships in history, and with a credible cast, some of the finest special effects I’ve ever seen, and a second half that always leaves me shaken & stirred – this movie deserves to go down (no pun intended) in history as a cinematic icon.
Ok, that love story may not be based on fact but leads Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio give it their all, and make for a very romantic pairing, their attraction never in doubt. I have heard some criticize this movie for its slushiness – and yes, sometimes it is laid on a bit thick, but without it, it would be a journey of hopelessness and doom … not exactly audience grabbing entertainment. Cameron was right to not have the sinking as the film’s focus, and with that achieves a ‘classic Hollywood’ feel comparable to Gone With The Wind, and all the schmaltz that comes with it. I’m guessing the cover is a nod to that much admired classic of yester-year. Even the over-blown camp of Billy Zane’s scorned fiance can’t spoil this. On reflection having watched this movie several times, I feel DiCaprio is a little too arrogant, whilst Kate Winslet (has she ever looked more beautiful?) at times manages to look unsure of herself, despite her likability. Yet it has to be said what Cameron put them through to capture some of the scenes here, especially during the sinking is nothing short of incredible – that even if they aren’t perfect, the physical demands of this must be applauded.
The Blu-ray is damn pretty. The movie has a slight softness to it but close up detail is exceptional and the photography hit me as quite jaw-dropping. There is a distinct layer of grain that gives the movie a very film-like look, and along with a bassey 5.1 sound track that brings James Horner’s emotional score to life – this is every bit the HD treatment fans could have wished for. The 2 disk Blu-ray boast 3 commentaries (one by the director, another from cast & crew, and a third from Titanic experts / historians). We also get several in-depth documentaries including the new ‘reflections on Titanic’, an exhaustive photo gallery as well as deleted scenes and outtakes. A superb package for what is one of the most enduring movies of all time. Essential.
(the movie) 5 /5
(the Blu-ray) 5 /5
- Titanic (myoldaddiction2.wordpress.com)
- Unexpected Love (arvielynmontanez.wordpress.com)
- Kate Winslet is defined by her career not her children (newstatesman.com)