September 10, 2016

The Neon Demon (2016)

"When aspiring model Jesse moves to Los Angeles, her youth and vitality are devoured by a group of beauty-obsessed women who will take any means necessary to get what she has."

Imagine, if you will, "Zoolander" without the intentional comedy, or "Starry Eyes" without the horror. Got those fixed in your mind? Good. That's pretty much what "The Neon Demon" is, but it's not as good as either of them. In fact, it's just not good.

There are two major problems with "The Neon Demon" which render it absolutely worthless even for the Millennial dripsters who would normally gush over similar products. First, it's slower than molasses going uphill in January. Second, Elle Fanning has neither the looks, height, or demeanour to be a fashion model. The latter would make the whole movie unintentionally hilarious, but for the fact that it's also tedious as shit.

If this movie is really supposed to be a horror movie, Nicolas Winding Refn has no idea what a horror movie should be. Granted, it's a horrible movie, but there are no scares, no surprises, and not really much of anything of interest once you take out the mildly titillating lesbianism and necrophilia.

While boobs and blood used to be all that was needed for a movie to qualify for the genre, things have moved on a bit in the rest of the real world. Audiences now like subtle things such as a compelling story and decent characterisation too, neither of which you'll find here.

As "The Neon Demon" is contrived to be very Elle Fanning-centric, it's a pity that she doesn't have the "X Factor" or any screen presence whatsoever. As a girl-next-door type, I'm sure Elle has her devoted, horndog fans, but based on her performance in this movie, I'm not likely to ever be one of them. It's hard to tell if her acting is good, bad, or horrendous because every character in "The Neon Demon" is unlikable and seems to be affected by some kind of Asperger's Syndrome anyway.

Keanu Reeves stands out in his two minutes of screentime, but he's last-billed for good reason. In what can only be described as an extended cameo where he's still channelling John Wick, he's not much more than a miserable so-and-so, albeit with all the best lines. I would say more, but I've already written more words than his character has. If you're a big Keanu mark and want to see "The Neon Demon" purely because he's in it, be prepared to be disappointed.

If you're looking for a movie which satirises the fashion industry, you would obviously be better off with "Zoolander" or even the unfairly maligned "Zoolander 2" (which is almost as great as the first one). Sadly, "Showgirls" did all the seedy stuff better many years ago, and both "Eat" and "Starry Eyes" did the horror properly.

I was asked if I had seen this movie last night, and my reply was, "Seen it, hated it." That doesn't make for much of a critique, but it's all that really needs to be said when anyone mentions this pretentious arthouse crap in future. I wasn't even going waste my time reviewing it because, like most new movies, it's not worth the effort of sitting through in the first place, but I suppose I've done it now. "The Neon Demon" is complete and utter shit.

September 1, 2016

Still nothing good to review

Every so often I think about reviewing something again, but unfortunately, there's been nothing worth watching this year. The quality (and quantity) of new horror movies is even worse than last year, and the year before, and the year before that. There are lots of reasons for this, but the blame mostly lies with lack of talent and new ideas. It doesn't help that the various nepotistic cliques of niche reviewers keep praising utter shit (when they aren't writing lazy nostalgia pieces) because it's all they have left to talk about.

The only "Summer movie" I watched.

Yes, we've had "The Conjuring 2" which deserves some kind of mention for trying to match its sets to how things looked in the Enfield poltergeist haunting videos on YouTube. I noticed the pop posters and had a bit of fun trying to identify the ones which were obviously different or in the wrong places. The Bay City Rollers, David Soul, and Joanna Lumley posters were close, but I don't remember The Kinks pullout poster from Jackie magazine actually being one of the girls' decorations. I also have some concerns over the family owning 1960s-style telephones (especially the wall-mounted kitchen phone) rather than trimphones from the late 1970s, but I can let that pass as "good enough". British telecommunications were not this movie's focus or forte. As for jump-scares, yeah, the nun-demon got me, and old Reg had a good moment.

Some people remarked how "The Conjuring 2" felt like more of a Christmas movie than anything else (duh, because it's set at Christmas), and I have nothing else to add to that uber "insightful" (oh God, that awful low-brow word overused by sheep across the internet!) observation. It's not Christmassy like "Gremlins", but the seasonal trappings are there in the background if you bother to look for them.

Maybe I should congratulate James Wan on trying his hardest to make heroes out of a pair of known charlatans. I'd never even heard of the Warrens before "The Conjuring", mainly because I don't really "do" paranormal investigation bullshit, and of course, I'm not American. According to ghosthunter Harry Price, the Warrens only turned up once, very briefly, and weren't big players in the Enfield poltergeist investigation at all. Patrick Wilson singing an Elvis song as Ed Warren is also a bit weird, out of place, but probably kind of nice for the ladies. So kudos for having very little historical accuracy then. But hey, the whole thing was a hoax anyway, so who even cares?

Not the worst thing I've ever seen but damned close.

I've also watched some horrid Kevin Bacon movie called "The Darkness". It's filled with clichés and the usual predictable possession guff, albeit with a couple of seemingly original "native American" touches which fall flat. Typical Blumhouse shit and as worthless and instantly forgettable as everything else they churn out. I think they tried to make it controversial by having an autistic kid in it and making him even more evil than autistic kids usually are in movies, but it didn't work out too well. Most "reviewers" simply saw Kevin Bacon attached, exclaimed "Doesn't he look old now?", and that was the highlight for them. "The Darkness" was rendered virtually unwatchable, however, by being filmed with a handycam with its very noticeable quivers and judders. Could nobody afford a tripod? Perhaps they spent all the budget on advertising their website. I don't know and don't care.

From other genres, "Green Room" bored me rigid. American Nazis (for lack of a better term) imprison a punk band in their backwoods concert hall and much merriment fails to ensue. I couldn't understand what that Yeltsin guy (who died by running himself over this year) said in any of his mumbled lines, and the namby-pamby feebleness of the instantly unlikable characters frustrated me. A couple of gunshot effects were undoubtedly cool near the end, but "Romper Stomper" is still the go-to movie if you like this kind of thing.

Fuck me, I liked something!

The biggest theatrical release for me was "Gods of Egypt". I actually enjoyed "Gods of Egypt" to the extent that I got threatened with physical assault on Facebook (and one person blocked me) because I dared to like something. The fucked-up-ness of that whole situation is quite hilarious. I've seen people getting all bent out of shape because I didn't like something but never the opposite. Even my infamous and blatant love for the "Twilight" movies never went that far. To this day, people still bitch about how I liked an incredibly successful franchise which they consider to be "non-horror" even though it had vampires and werewolves in it, while at the same time, they rave about their shitty horror-comedies which are even less worthy of being part of the genre. Some people, as we know, are just nuts.

Don't get me wrong, "Gods of Egypt" isn't a great movie, but it's easily as good as "Clash of the Titans" or any of those other adventures meant for little kids. It looks fantastic, the story is okay-ish, and it certainly didn't wreck Egyptian mythology as much as "Immortals" shat all over the ancient Greek legends a few years ago. I saw some SJW bullshit about "whitewashing" with the casting, but since those comments came from people who have no education or faintest idea about the diverse ethnicity in Ancient Egypt, I can laugh that off. There's no point arguing online with liberals, SJWs, or any other brainwashed "causers" because their combined IQs are less than a tin of pilchards. They clearly didn't watch the movie anyway, because if they had, they would have realised that there are more black characters than any other race portrayed. It may be one actor (Chadwick Boseman playing Thoth) repeated hundreds of times, but it still counts!

Starring lots of beautiful actresses whose names I can't remember.

Lastly, as far as new movies go, I watched "The Huntsman: Winter's War" and almost loved it. Again, nothing all that new, and no Kristen Stewart in it, but it has some nice bawdy British humour and a little bit of visual subtext which reduces the current "gender wars" (which really only exist in fake realities such as American college campuses or online, you know) into the minuscule kerfuffle that they truly are. If you don't pick up on it, you aren't good at reading images and certainly shouldn't review movies.

Among many things I've boycotted, I obviously haven't watched the remake/re-imagining/reboot/sequel of "Ghostbusters" because I don't like horror-comedies and didn't ever like the original or its sequel. The original failed at everything I call entertaining, apart from the one scene with the old woman/librarian ghost, and is just too sickeningly "American" for my taste. In other words, its comedy is fucking lame. Big deal that they changed all the genders, I couldn't care less if they replaced the characters with talking bags of shit. I doubt that anyone would notice the difference, but it's possible that I'd be more inclined to watch it if they had. Replace the cast with cats though, and I'd definitely watch the next one.

Please don't make any more of these!

Thanks to Amazon Prime (and a mixture of curiosity and boredom), I suffered through the three "Divergent" movies. I had no idea what to expect, and now wish I hadn't wasted my time. They are full of "pretty" talent, owe a lot to "Starship Troopers", and have some decent eyecandy here and there, but sci-fi blows anyway, and this is particularly shit sci-fi at that. When the kids all celebrated one of their minor victories by self-harming with tattoos, that was enough for me. I'm not the target audience for this crap, and even if I was, such trendy teen sci-fi has really gone downhill since "The Hunger Games" ripped off "Battle Royale".

In other news, I may start a new blog eventually about computer games. Aside from making cat videos and intentionally awful 5-hour podcasts, I've been playing computer games more than watching movies this year because, as I said at the start, this has already been a truly shit year for movies, and it isn't going to get any better.

March 30, 2016

10 Cloverfield Lane (2016)

"After getting in a car accident, a woman is held in a shelter with two men, who claim the outside world is affected by a widespread chemical attack."

We all know how trendy it is for the jealous never-will-bes to bash J.J. Abrams (or any of the other successful producers/directors such as Michael Bay, Zack Snyder, Alex Proyas, or Neill Blomkamp) with their cowardly passive-aggressive tweets and boring podcasts which nobody but their equally slimy friends listens to, so don't think for a moment that I'm going to pander to any of their kind of audience with my review. This movie was directed by a new addition to the Bad Robot team, Dan Trachtenberg, rather than Abrams himself anyway.

Although it's no secret that I absolutely hated "Cloverfield" (2008) when it came out, and think that "Gwoemul" (2006) is far superior in every way, there were some bits of it I liked. I would have liked those bits even more if "Cloverfield" hadn't been filmed in the motion-sickness inducing faux "found footage" style. Thus, the fact that "10 Cloverfield Lane" (a sequel in not much more than name only, since it started life as a standalone story called "The Cellar") wasn't filmed with shakycams makes it a whole lot better than I expected without having to do anything else.

I used to have a piss bucket this size too.

"10 Cloverfield Lane" is more or less a triple-hander featuring John Goodman, Mary Elizabeth Winstead (from "The Thing" remake), and John Gallagher Jr. (who I've never seen or heard of before). There are a couple of other cast members who appear briefly, and a few voices on the radio, but the bulk of the story is really about the interactions of the aforementioned leads, how they cope with their confinement, their suspicions of each other, and all that kind of thing. There's a hint of romance too, but not much. There's no sex or nudity, barely any "bad language" (oh, so edgy!), and not much of anything scary either. I think you can guess the certification.

As a psychological thriller, "10 Cloverfield Lane" is as full of clichés and formulas as most modern movies. If you haven't seen many movies, you'll probably think it's pretty good, but those of us who are older and have seen just about everything the genre has to offer will find it all very predictable and somewhat irritating. Let's face it, we aren't the target audience for products like this anyway, so it's likely to make us even grumpier than usual.

Despite this, the cast does a great job with what is essentially a ripoff of at least one famous episode of "The Twilight Zone", and John Goodman plays the "evil all along" trope in much the same way as Chuck Connors in "Tourist Trap" (1979). All Howard (John Goodman) needs is a limp, some creepy dolls, and telekinetic powers, and "10 Cloverfield Lane" would almost be the same movie. So yeah, it's really not the same at all, but you'll see what I mean.

It's a 550 piece jigsaw puzzle called "Catfish". That is all.

Once again, there were no cats in this movie. I'm obviously not on the right blog to make a big deal out of that at the moment, but at least Emmett (John Gallagher Jr.) and Michelle (Mary Elizabth Winstead) spend some quality screentime putting together a puzzle of a surreal snorkelling cat.

Apart from bonding the two younger characters, does the puzzle have any significance other than being a puzzle? Who knows? I'm sure there are a few theories floating around the nerd sites, but I couldn't care less about any of them. Looking for subtext in a throwaway movie like this (or any movie for that matter) is absolutely pointless unless you are one of those stooges on the "big name" sites (and in magazines) who are desperate to publish absolutely anything to vainly stay relevant, spoil other people's hobbies, and get money out of their sheep.

For that reason, I don't really have anything else to say about "10 Cloverfield Lane" except that it's better than the first "Cloverfield", it's not "groundbreaking", and it certainly isn't very original. It's entertaining, the production values are way above average, and John Goodman is awesome, and you can read what you like into what I haven't written about or said in this sentence.

Clever graphics, but the bunker isn't really that far underground.

Minor Spoiler
Do we really need yet another "final girl" trope? Puh-lease! Just fuck off with this trendy "progressive" shit. We get it! Women, just like all human beings, can do stuff. Now all the SJWs can clap their manginas with glee. Oh yay, she's a "strong woman". You go, girl! Bahahahaha! Jannicke in "Cold Prey" (2006) is still much better than all of them. And Sarah Connor is pretty fantastic too. Well, when she was played by Lena Headey anyway.
End of Spoiler

I suppose, given the fact that there's nothing any better to watch right now, I have to concede that I enjoyed "10 Cloverfield Lane" more than I thought I would or ever should. There's no lag, the story plays out quite nicely until the extremely annoying ending, and it's not quite as shit as most American or Canadian movies.

If you're looking for a psychological thriller rather than a pure horror or sci-fi movie, "10 Cloverfield Lane" is okay. Just don't expect it to be as great as something like "How I Ended This Summer" (2010) though.