Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The Artist... really?

Thanks a lot Oscar nominators - you wrangled 10 bucks out of my pocket.  Oh yeah, Golden Globes, you didn't help much either.  And to all you Yahoo! movie reviewers who gave this 4 1/2 stars - I'll see you in HELL!

After all the buildup and buzz, I felt I finally needed to see The Artist.  You know, on that one night out in like 6 months when I actually get to see something in the theater that doesn't require 3D glasses, or multiple trips to the restroom to track down my restless 6 year-old.

I really wanted to like this, I tried... really. The Artist is clever and well-made, but c'mon already, it's PAINFULLY predictable. I guess it would've been ok if it was a 20-minute short film... and it didn't suck.

Ok, ok, I'm being too harsh, it doesn't actually suck, but best picture? no effing way.

It doesn't even belong in the same conversation as Drive, Tree of Life, 13 Assassins or the Descendents.

If you want a heartfelt, nostalgic look at the magical beginnings of cinema, watch the truly inspired, Hugo.

If you want a clever and romantic look into the past, please check out Woody Allen's Midnight in Paris.
And if you actually want to sit through a black and white silent film, do yourself a favor and watch Mel Brooks' Silent Movie.  It actually does all that The Artist tries to do, but it's actually funny - and good - and clever - and original.

All through the film my mind kept wandering, hoping that something unexpected would happen - dreaming up twists and tangents that would elevate the film past a simple, pedantic homage.  At the end (spoiler alert)  when he finds all his old belongings in the home of Peppy Le Pew ... I mean Miller,  I was desperately hoping she would turn out to be a psychopathic stalker, jump out from under the sheets and knife him through the chest while the dog lapped up his blood.

Hey, I can dream can't I?

Friday, February 17, 2012

Spend a buck to help a starving artist!

Ok folks, I don't ask for much and I rarely beg, but I just got this email, so hopefully y'all can help me out:

"Dear Todd,
With two days left we wanted you to know that your film "Enter The Dark" is only 12 purchases away from being in second place in the Social Shorty Contest.
In other words, if 12 of your friends purchase your film for $1 each, you will be in second place and you could win the $1000 second place prize.
You are so close! Good luck!"

So please, if you have a second, bop on over to www.monkeybars.net  sign up and search for "Enter the Dark". Fork over the ungodly sum of $1 and watch with the lights out (or not).

Hopefully with your help I can win this baby and scrape together some cashola for my next short film project!


Thursday, February 9, 2012

Top Horror Flicks of 2011... sort of

Since it's February, I thought now would be the perfect time to post my year-end best of list.  You know, to beat out all the competition from the rest of those other bloggers and get my list out first to show how smart I am and stuff.


Truth be told, it's just too dang difficult to get my arse out to the theaters and see new flicks as they premiere.  With two young kids in my house, I'm lucky if I can get to the movies once a month to see the latest singing chipmunk flick.

And so, I'm left with waiting around until Netflix or On Demand can provide me with the movie that everyone was buzzing about.

Five months ago.

So, since I'm finally sort of caught up with what the cool crowd was into, I can now present you with my definitive list of the


Wow.. ok... Well, I'd love to to that, but just between you and me, here's the deal.

This year kinda sucked for horror.  I mean, really.  There was not one single horror movie that really blew me away this year - no Let the Right One In, no The Ring, no The Devil's Backbone.  There was some kinda good stuff and lots of not so good stuff. And as usual, the best stuff wasn't even produced by Hollywood.

So, I've had to expand my horizons a bit and open up the list to thrillers, sci-fi and grindhouse movies as well to be able to field a proper team.  So here we go:


- I Saw The Devil  Ji-woon Kim's masterful ultimate revenge flick.  I don't know what it is about the South Koreans, but they love themselves some revenge!  Please tell me you've seen OldBoy.

- 13 Assassins  ok, I know this isn't even a horror/thriller/sci-fi/grindhouse film, it's a samurai action flick, but it was still better than most anything I watched last year, so it makes the list.  It's my list dammit! 

- Troll Hunter  A hilarious mockumentary that brings storybook trolls to life.  What's cooler than hunting a 200 foot mountain troll with a UV gun to try to turn it into stone?  Nothing.

 - Stake Land  Yes, I know, technically this came out in 2010, but I've had stuff to do you know - so gimmie a break.  A great post-apocalyptic zomie-ish vampire western road movie.  With tremendous attention to character development and tone.

- Super 8   The first big ol' Hollywood film on this list.  A great premise and it absolutely nailed the late 70's early 80's vibe of running around with your buds with a Super 8 camera.  I was there.  I was that kid running around. I should know.
I loved the first 2/3rds of this movie but then it kinda fell apart at the end.  Too bad.
Do I really need to mention all the gratuitous lens flares that J.J. Abrams has fallen in love with?

- Grave Encounters  I almost saw this low-budget indie film in Chicago in 2010 when Enter the Dark premiered there.  But then the festival was running way late and we had to bail.  This is one of the better found-footage horror flicks out there.  A predictable setup of a tv ghost hunting team spending the night in a spooky location is handled well with some nasty twists and turns. 

 - Tucker & Dale vs Evil  A very funny entry in the now well-established horror/comedy genre.  Best one since Shawn of the Dead and Slither.

- Rise of the Planet of the Apes  For a big tent-pole summer blockbuster, I thought it was very entertaining.

- Black Death  Well-done medieval-witch-hunting flick.  'nuf said.

- The Woman  Lucky McKee, the deranged director of cult favorite, May, brings you this very sick and twisted tale of a family man and the feral woman pet he keeps in his basement.  And shares with his family. Pretty standard setup... right?

- The Rite  Well-crafted, serious take on demonic possession and one man's faith.  Oh yeah, and Anthony Hopkins is his usual awesome self.  A lot of people didn't seem to like this film.  I think they've burned out their retinas and brains with too many episodes of The Kardashians and Jersey Shore.  Settle in and watch a mature and thoughtful movie every once in a while, willya?

- YellowBrickRoad  Another cool indie film that leads a team of investigators into the woods to research the mysterious deaths of an entire small town.  Another great setup that slowly builds its tale of madness gets under your skin.  It may take a wrong turn here or there and you may not like the ending, but it sure sticks with you days afterwards.

 - Attack the Block  The darling of last year's SXSW festival is a hyperactive tale of British street kids duking it out with space monsters.  Think Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels meets, oh I don't know, any alien invasion flick. 

- Dead Hooker in a Trunk  Yes, yes, once again this little gem actually came out in 2009, but it didn't get its wide release until this year.  If you haven't heard of this film yet - where the hell have you been??  The Soska sisters' loving tribute to all that is grindhouse-y, Dead Hooker makes up for its no-budget shortcomings by being relentlessly entertaining.

- Hobo With a Shotgun  Speaking of grindhouse... With a little more budget, a pissed-off Rutger Hauer and lots of colorful lighting, Hobo more than delivers on it's exploitation promise.

- Paranormal Activity 3  The problem with these PA flicks is they all fit the same pattern - slowly establish weird goings-on, give the doofus guy a reason to relentlessly videotape everything, ramp up the thrills and then give us a little twist at the end.  This installment works because of the clever use of the oscillating fan-o-cam and it's Wicker Man-esque finish.
- Insidious  I know I ripped on this film when it first came out, but I've changed my mind.  No... not really.  After seeing it again however, I really like the film up until the stupid ghost busters show up.  So I'm recommending the first half of the film. Then turn it off and go do something useful with your life.