Friday, February 27, 2009

MELANIE KLEIMOLA - GUEST SPEAKER AND ANGRY FILM VIEWER

my friend melanie runs a site out of close-to chicago. she and her husband are good people. she recently wrote about a film that challenged and enraged her socialbilities. follow the illuminated link above and have a gander at the passion of the kleimola. i get excited when films crawl this deep under a person’s skin. i also get excited when people allow films to embed inside them like giant cinematic chiggers. films are not for looking at passively; films are for digesting while they in-turn digest the viewer. good job, mel. we may have to offer you a guest spot in the hockey mask, inc. editorial department.

(do we have an editorial department?)

Friday, February 20, 2009

IN THIS LIFE, YOU CAN LOSE EVERYTHING YOU LOVE, EVERYTHING THAT LOVES YOU..."


I saw this last night. It's going to be a couple of days before I can find the words to post on it, but in the meantime, I highly urge you to watch this. Whereas Slumdog Millionaire is the triumph of love over death, The Wrestler is the staring of death in the eye, and not batting an eye.

But in the meantime, go watch the trailer.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The Little Movie that Does


There is a scene in "The Lord of the Rings," at the very end, after the Shire has been scoured, where St. JRR writes this:
The Northfarthing barley was so fine that the beer of 1420 malt was long remembered and became a byword. Indeed a generation later one might hear an old gaffer in an inn, after a good pint of well-earned ale, put down his mug with a sigh: ‘Ah! that was proper fourteen-twenty, that was!’

This is how I feel about movies in 2008. A hundred years from now, people may think "Wow, what a great year for movies! It's a regular 2008!" And amid all of the SLUMDOGs, DARK KNIGHTS, and WALL-Es, there's a quiet little film that didn't get too much buzz. But it's good. Oh, boy, it's good.

THE VISITOR has no pretention. It's a movie about a sixty-something college professor named Walter Vale who lives alone since the death of his wife. He lives in Connecticut, but still keeps an apartment in NYC, although he hasn't visited it since his wife passed away. When he's called to New York for a conference, he's surprised to find that a young couple is living in his apartment. Tarek, a Syrian musician, and Zainab, his Senegalese girlfriend, are scared to death that Walter will call the police for two reasons. First, they don't want to go to jail. Secondly, they are in the US illegally. Walter's response to the two of them is the beginning of his story.

Strangely, this is a coming of age movie. And while coming of age movies are hardly rare, it is quite unusual to find one about a sixty year old. Tarek and Walter begin a friendship based solely on necessity (on Tarek's part) and loneliness (on the part of Walter). Tarek plays the Djembe and Walter, who desperately wants to express himself in some way, latches onto it. It becomes not only an outlet for Walter, but also a symbol. It's a symbol of injustice and inequality, and it's a symbol of humanness.

As their unlikely friendship deepens, a tragic circumstance befalls Tarek and Zainab (which I won't reveal here), and Walter is given a choice. It's a choice to return to safe, quiet, Connecticut where he can finish his book in peace, or he can stay in New York and fight - even if fighting is the last thing he's capable of. Walter is presented with the question that we all find ourselves struggling with sooner or later: "This is injustice. What do I do? Shrink or fight?"

There are some politics in THE VISITOR, but it's not a political movie. It's a movie about a guy who is a visitor in his own home.

Richard Jenkins (nominated for a Best Actor Oscar for this performance) is a face you'll know. He's a "That Guy." He's got 84 credits on IMDB, and I guarantee you've seen a bunch of them. But in this, he shines. There is no makeup to cover the pock marks on his face and no histrionics to demand Oscar voters' attention. He's just a guy, playing another guy. He won't win that Oscar - "That Guy" never does. But maybe he should. This is one of the most touching and real performances that I've seen in a long time.

THE VISITOR gets 4 and a half African Princesses out of 5.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

MY WIFE'S BODACIOUS HOTNESS AND THE RE-INTERPRETATION OF OUR WEB ADDRESS NAMESAKE




i love my wife. have i mentioned that i love my wife? i love my wife. the lady is sassy, beautiful, curved in my favorite places, and totally nuts for her husband. the last part still shocks me messless on a regular basis. as mentioned in a previous post, for valentine's day my wife bought me tickets to see the new FRIDAY THE 13TH on friday the 13th at 11:55 pm. (she bought tickets for the latest showing possible because she knows how i despise sharing theaters with the middle schoolers. sure, i want to teach middle schoolers, but that doesn't mean i want to share a theater with the little buggers.) after the film, latonya confessed that she had her eyes closed for nearly half the showing. "but you could still hear so much," she said. unfortunately, there was no warning that the one dude was going to take the arrow through the head; then, latonya thought that jason had already disposed of the one girl and opened her eyes just in time to see her impaled on deer antlers. these were unfortunate moments in slasher-flicking for my wife. we may not share many horror movies in the future. 

(speaking of sharing horror movies, after two jason vorhees films in a single week, i think my bodycount quota has been hit and exceeded. i need a break from the violence. y'all maybe reading a lot of disney and john hughes from me for awhile after this. nevertheless, we must trudge through and speak of the FRIDAY at hand.)

first off, let me just answer your most pressing question right away by saying that i really liked this FRIDAY THE 13th remake. michael bay and them folks over at platinum dunes have an intense eye for keeping the integrity of classic horror films intact while re-envisioning fresh possibilities in these age-old stories. not to mention, bay knows what the fans want: high energy, high tension, high volumes of blood - and bay wastes no surplus supplying all three. with this in mind, i find it interesting that platinum dunes is responsible for two remakes of the TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE. having seen both remakes, i think i know why: the 2003 version was pitiful. zero energy. zero tension. zero original integrity. zero solid wood chase scenes. what the un-horror film populace does not understand about these early horror films is that they truly were revolutionary. modern horror filmmakers (bigtime and indie) still look at tobe hopper's original TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE (1974) as a blueprint for cinematic intensity. hopper's low-budget saga of texas carnage influenced phenomenal changes in the horror and thriller film industry. for michael bay to remake hopper's leatherface legacy nearly 30 years later is a daunting task. and, honestly, bay flopped. however, instead of apologizing for his mistakes and moving on to a different franchise, bay gathered as much fan criticism as he could find and made THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE: THE BEGINNING (2006), the only film to date that actually nauseated me. everything that bay missed in the 2003 version, he gave audiences in excess with the 2006 version. and, in my opinion, the 2006 CHAINSAW film was a large enough story prequel to actually stand alongside the 1974 original.

bay's attention to classic film integrity and fan expectations also made this FRIDAY THE 13TH remake a total success. the film begins directly at the end of the first FRIDAY, establishing an instant connection to the vorhees' legacy while assuring audiences that this is not a reframing of the 1980 original. however, the first 30 minutes of this retelling showcase several classic jason kills and moves that also reconnect us directly to the legacy. as a fan of the franchise, it's fun to sit back and name the various films alluded to in this murderous montage. also, and this is just blazeningly brilliant, jason gets four out of six people in the beginning before we ever actually see him. the grand entrance this remake offers our age-old anti-hero is electrifying, and the entire audience raucously responded to jason's first on-screen appearance. oh yeah, and then, thirty minutes into the film, the first credits roll up. the wife leaned over to me and said, "you mean, all that was only the beginning?" precisely. 

rolling through scenes (the barn from part 3), landscapes (the POV embankment shots from part 1), prop sets (flood lights and archery targets from part 1), family heilooms (pamela vorhees' head and accessories from part 2), and plot allusions (a brother in search of a missing sister guided in his search by a beautiful girl in a short skirt from part 4) reminiscent of the first four FRIDAY THE 13th films allows this remake to work brilliantly as a cinematic collage of horror geek fandom. part of the draw of this film was spotting all the references to the originals. there may have even been a crazy ralph type old coot at one point, but he never spoke the word "doom" so i couldn't be certain.

honestly, i could have used a lot less gratuitous sex, drug references, and nudity. i realize that a major part of the slasher film ethos revolves around establishing the moral waywardness of the teenagers before imparting unrighteous judgement on them. regardless, this remake took the glorification of teenage rebellion ("you kids gonna going out in the woods and drink a little beer, smoke a little pot, and have some premarital sex?" - steve freeman/part 9) to the level of sheer silliness as if michael bay needed to bait frat boys and sorority girls to play his film on their clubhouse walls. i realize that harping on overexposure of immorality in a slasher flick is downright preposterous, but i found it all a bit distracting after awhile. i'm allowed my conundrums. in fact, my wife paid $4 for me to experience my conundrums.

also, i was very disappointed that the film glossed over jason acquiring the hockey mask. the mask is the iconic symbol of this franchise. and while jason holds no significant ethereal relationship to his mask the way michael myers or leatherface did theirs, we fans still came to see the hockey mask dude do his thing. i appreciated that the film did show jason switch from the burlap sack mask (from part 2 & 3) to the hockey mask (part 3), but there should have been a bit more pomp and circumstance about the whole thing. i don't know what exactly. maybe some fireworks or a hockey mask chorus number. who knows?

all in all, i give the new FRIDAY THE 13th remake 4 machetes out of 5. the grandiose immorality and half-assed mask acquisition cost platinum dunes an entire point on my scale. FRIDAY is a great franchise with a looming icon not easily disposed of or forgotten. also, i give my wife 5 chocolate covered strawberries out of 5 for enduring the midnight massacre with me. she is my beloved prize. i'm going to stop writing now so i can go flirt with her. 

Friday, February 13, 2009

NOT THAT THIS EVEN MATTERS A HILL OF BEANS


perhaps it is because the general public now knows that i spend my social life at home glued to the television watching bad films or tied to the internet streaming bad films or tapped in to the tabloids to know what is up with the bad filmsters that i so dearly love like family that i've been asked so many times about joaquin phoenix's "bizarre" appearance on david letterman. 

well, to be quite honest, for all my filmings, i do not watch much television. it is one of my lesser qualities and, trust me, one i am currently working to remedy. therefore, in therapy to alter my televisionlessness, and with all the buzz about joaquin's tripped-out talk-show antics, i had to bolted to the nearest youtube clip i could find. 

so far, in two days time, i've heard from various people that joaquin's behavior on letterman is the result of cocaine, heroin, "hard drugs", insanity, "plum craziness", the pressures of money, the pressures of fame, not successfully leaving behind the johnny cash role, not successfully leaving behind on-stage passion with reese witherspoon, a cry for suicidal intervention, and (my personal favorite) demon possession. (however, a possible physical manifestation of the man-in-black's dark side would be a hella late night sight.) 

so the wife and i watched the tape today. and, based on my Hockey Mask, Inc. professional credentials, here's my final assessment:

joaquin phoenix is freaking brilliant. 

not only is joaquin brilliant, but david letterman is brilliant. these guys play this thing off like the odd couple. like laurel and hardy. like smothers and smothers. like wilbur and mr. ed. these guys obviously love the trash out of one another and played a big joke on america. and it's great. both men give phenomenal comedy performances here. watching closely, we can hear dave totally build up joaquin way more than he would usually build up a guest, only to have joaquin turn around and make a tragically awkward moment out of dave's praise. and they do this repeatedly. the skit ends with joaquin leaping out of his chair, taking off his glasses, and vigorously shaking dave's hand. they pulled it off: the "bizarrest" guest spot on letterman this year. the fans will talk for months to come. 

or, at least, they will talk incessantly at my career spot. 

i give joaquin phoenix's performance on david letterman 5 ABC gumballs out of 5. this is good television, even for a nontelevision viewer. although, honestly, nothing could top crispin glover's first letterman spot.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

THINGS ARE NOT ALWAYS WHAT THEY APPEAR



back on then around christmas i had a brunch with jennie beard in little rock, arkansas. we talked about the websites we manage and enjoy. jennie made a stark statement to me that day. she said that she likes this little boyrific website here about films and filmtastic banters, but she said she sometimes chooses not to venture our way because we post so many scary pictures. i told her that was true: we do post a great deal of scary pictures. jennie said that she may be more inclined to visit our site more often if there were less scary pictures to encounter. i told her i would do my best to hold off on the violence. and with the exception of spaceman vorhees below, i feel that we've done a much better job of holding off the horror. (even though the blood is so much fun to splatter across the page).

therefore, it is for jennie that i have posted the image above. the film i would like to mention today does not have a single pretty poster. however, neither of these posters, nor the trailer, do this film any justice: all three promos make THE HAMILTONS appear atrociously more violent and gorey than it is. in fact, i did not consider THE HAMILTONS visually vicious at all; instead, i considered THE HAMILTONS one of the most psychologically and emotionally daunting horror films i have ever encountered. this film is smart - almost too smart. hell, i'd say it's even brilliant. the entire tone of the film feels dire and secretive, constantly cluing us in to some hideous family lore that we have not yet unearthed. we only know it's there, and we know it's huge. usually horror films that attempt trick endings or surprise twists end up tritely mimicking m. night schamalabadabingbang. THE HAMILTONS pulls off the twist beautifully and flawlessly. 

and it scared the fajita tortillas outta me. 

i wanted to review THE HAMILTONS today for two reasons: (a) it's one of the finer horror films i have seen to date, breaking conventions and setting a new standard, i believe, for a more honest exploration of psychopathic ethos than anything we have seen in the SAW franchise or by rob zombie to date. (b) THE HAMILTONS is available for free viewing until next thursday on one of my new favorite websites: www.fearnet.com. this website showcases free streaming thrillers and indie horror films, unloading a new batch every thursday. if you're interested in THE HAMILTONS, click on the link above and then click on "free movies." a link for THE HAMILTONS will appear in a box below. seriously, you'll thank me for the advice.

i give THE HAMILTONS 5 twisted sisters out of 5. maybe the film is not that great, but it shocked my socks off and left me spinning for several days. sorry, schmalabadabingbang, you may have met your match.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

THE FINAL CHAPTER, MY ASS: THIS IS THE FINAL FRONTIER!


ladies and gentlemen -

i am pleased to announce that i have accomplished a long sought after goal: as of last night, along with the viewing displeasure of my beloved wife, i watched the final FRIDAY THE 13TH film of the original franchise. that's right! 10 jason vorhees' films are now to my credit; over 250 kills have been burned into holy crushed velvet bunny rabbit of my brain; nearly 20 hours of my life twiddled and twaddled away never to be bought back. and i regret none of it. instead, i celebrate. today i celebrate! i have no more of these things to sit through until i sit through them all again! (and i probably will).

as much as i would love to review JASON X ("the one where jason's in space"), i will refrain my review until the proper monthly time slot (if we ever get those bad mo-jo's up and running again). instead, for now, i will simply celebrate the end of my jason vorhees journey with a retrospective look back at some of the best and worst moments in the franchise.

FAVORITE FRIDAY FILM: the first one is the still the best. it's the most gruesome. the most scary. the most awesome POV showcase of the century.

LEAST FAVORITE FRIDAY FILM: part 8 - JASON TAKES MANHATTAN. listen, there is more suspense, terror and intrigue in THE MUPPETS TAKE MANHATTAN than this crusty piece of bastard. not to mention the false titling: jason is only in manhattan for the last ten minutes; the rest of the time he's on a cruise ship - a cruise ship! - slaughtering the not-so-innocent. lame in any language, straight from sean s. cunningham's heart.

FAVORITE KILL: oooo, that's a toughy. my favorite kill is a toss-up between kevin bacon getting the arrow slowly through the esophagus in the first FRIDAY and the girl getting her face frozen in liquid nitrogen, then slammed into crystal tiddly-winks in JASON X. both of those were pretty boss. 

FAVORITE HEROINE: jenny - by far - in part 2. every one of these films end with some hot girl in a showdown with jason. jenny was the most badass. that whole bit with putting on pamela's decaying sweater and pretending to be jason's mother was pure genius. not to mention, that's the only moment in the entire franchise when jason stops to reconsider his actions. 

LEAST FAVORITE "HEROINE": chris in part 3. she was ridiculous. jason chases her up the stairs, she throws books at him. jason falls out the window, she bonks him with a 2x4, and then squeals off into the barn. jason comes into the barn, starts to hack the biker dude, and she just screams with her hands on her head. do not take this girl on vacation!

FAVORITE SUPPORTING CHARACTER: no question about it - crazy ralph deserved his own end times sitcom.

MOST RIDICULOUS JASON RESURRECTION: at the end of part 6 (JASON LIVES), tommy and megan drown jason at the bottom of crystal lake, anchoring him under water to a boulder. at the beginning of part 7 (A NEW BLOOD), this little girl with ESP comes to stay at crystal lake to undergo some therapy and testing. while there, she goes into an ESP panic and, in an effort to raise her dead father from the bottom of the lake (cause so many people drown in this lake) she accidentally resurrects jason instead.

SECOND MOST RIDICULOUS JASON RESURRECTION (CAUSE I JUST CAN'T STOP AT ONE): part 6 - JASON LIVES - when tommy digs up jason's body out of its grave so he can re-kill jason (stupid!). tommy then sticks a metal pole into jason during a thunder storm, lightning comes, ben franklin discovers electricity, jason's the energizer bunny all over again. 

MOST AWESOME JASON DEATH: oddly enough, my favorite jason death is at the end of my least favorite FRIDAY film. when the remaining teenagers lure jason into the sewers of manhattan, one brilliant youngster remembers his lessons from the teenage mutant ninja turtle cartoons and melts jason in toxic waste. FRIDAY VIII was made in 1989, right at the end of our toxic waste obsession in the eighties. i loved the stroll down garbage pail kids lane.

MOST NUDE SHOTS IN A SINGLE FILM: seriously, my wife sits out FRIDAYs 1-9, then suddenly decides to watch part 10 with me last night only to find the most gratuitous sex and the most booby shots of any film so far. i was chagrinned.

MOST INVENTIVE MURDER WEAPON: besides the liquid nitrogen in JASON X, i just love the sleeping bag scene in part ?. schyea, so i can't remember what film it was, but there's this scene where a girl is in a sleeping bag, and jason grabs the sleeping bag and then bashes it against a tree. the MPAA told the producers they had to take the scene out of the theatrical version in order to keep the R-rating. of course, the scene made it to dvd. 

FAVORITE LINE FROM THE WHOLE FRANCHISE: "you kids going out in the woods to drink a little beer, smoke a little pot, and have a little premarital sex?" - steve freeman, JASON GOES TO HELL (part 9)

while we're at it, i would like to publicly praise my wife for scoring us tickets to see the new FRIDAY THE 13th this friday night at 11:55. 




these tickets are my valentine's day gift. yes, slashering is one of my primary love languages. thanks, my lovely.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

MALEVOLENT MATRIARCHY: AN OVERLY INVITED BATTLE OF GUILT, INNOCENCE AND BREASTSIZE




i had to tell myself walking into THE UNINVITED that i would not compare it to A TALE OF TWO SISTERS. i had to say it over and over. maybe 15 times. and now i will tell myself, 15 times again, not to write this review as a comparison to A TALE OF TWO SISTERS. i will only say this: A TALE OF TWO SISTERS made my top 5 of ’08 list. i watched it three times in a single day. of course, any asian original will triumph over the american remake - that’s just a scientific fact. so, with that said, let’s focus on THE UNINVITED.

frankly, i loved this film. plum loved it. and i can't wait to see it again in the theatre. in fact, i think this might be the best "i-see-dead-people" flick since THE SIXTH SENSE. whoa! that's right, people: i just said that. that just happened. she-bang.

what we have in THE UNINVITED is a story about two sisters who recently lost their mother in a freak boathouse explosion accident. the younger sister has been away in a mental ward dealing with the trauma of the experience. the film starts with her coming home to reunite with the family. still, months after the accident, the grief is outstanding, even though they live on a lake and can go dipping off the dock any ol' time they see fit. and they do. they swim a lot. but to make matters worse, dad has already shacked up with the hottie hospice nurse: the same hottie hospice nurse that was supposed to be watching mom when mom got blown up in the freak boathouse explosion. now the sisters fear their new mom is out to hypodermically sedate them and dice them up into ham chunks. the younger girl even sees little ghost kids who reveal to her that they got chopped up by the hottie hospice nurse back when she was a naughty nanny trying to hook up with their dad. the girls, utterly convinced by the ghost kids, stumble upon concrete evidence that stepmommy dearest is out for them: a pearl necklace belonging to the dead kids' mother. the goal then becomes to steal the necklace, expose the stepmom as the murderous nanny, or kill her trying. however, as all the narrative pearls fall in place, we find out that appearances are certainly deceiving and even boathouses can reimplode on a young girl's memory.

i ask you: what is not to love about this film? i jumped. i squealed. i grabbed nathan's arm. i bemoaned seeing a PG-13 film before bryan, texas curfew. all in all, i was pleasantly surprised that america pulled off the un-american: they reinterpreted an ancient asian folktale beautifully. and they made me glad to have actually spent my capital to gain it.

also, this emily browning - the loopy younger sister receiving the lipstick above - is no joke. seriously.

i easily give THE UNINVITED, void of all comparisons to the original, 4 shivering garbage bags out of 5. this one is well worth the ride.

(i'm working up the courage to write about character development in this film, but i know if i do it'll cause a genderific gussy of a fuss. so i'll refrain for now. just stay tuned. i might wheel around with some cinematically brilliant literary jewels.)