Sunday, January 6, 2013

Konichiwa 2013

Good Morning Ladies & Gentlemen,

It has been a busy first few days to the calendar year... but somehow I make it work, of course. Still catching up a little bit from my vacation to Utah, both at work & a few things around the house... but at a good pace... and just in time for work to get super busy again for about the next... 10.5 months solid. Nothing really too exciting the past week other than some great college football... and a few movie reviews that I'd like to share with you.

First up is "Chernobyl Diaries" which is a horror flick from some of the makers of "Paranormal Activity." This particular installment was... well, it had great potential. It's the story of some American backpackers going across Europe... then they meet up with one of their brothers in Ukraine, who has this wonderful idea of urban spelunking a city that was evacuated during the Chernobyl nuclear disaster (on my 5th birthday BTW). Well, they decide to do it... and then they find out why it was evacuated. Dun dun duuuuuh... Like I said, it's a pretty good creepy premise... and the location was incredible, a real abandoned city from the disaster & some underground bunkers... but the execution was mostly irritating more than anything. The whole movie was shot using a standing camera that was kind of like the huge craze of found footage (started with "Blair Witch Project" & now used incessantly) but mixed with other shots & it just really wasn't well done... and of course there's the usual bad acting & stupid moves by people in situations... and yeah, just not good horror timing or anything either. Just not a great experience. I wouldn't recommend it... but I totally wanna go urban spelunking now.

Next up was "Silent House" which is from the directors who brought you "Open Water" and it's basically a horror flick that was shot in one continuous shot... for about 88 minutes. That's basically starting with a crane shot, coming down to the actors, following them through the entire movie (sometimes too close but hey, given the quarters they were in...), getting the right camera angles, no errors in the (pretty standard) dialogue, and not turning the camera off ONCE for 88 minutes. It's a pretty remarkable feat... and I'll say it... they did a FANTASTIC job. Oh, the story is about a girl, her dad & her uncle restoring an old home by the lake... and then the sun starts going down... and then they realize that they're not alone in the house... they may have squatters... or something worse. I'd recommend checking it out... if not just for the fact that it's done in one shot. I'm a huge fan of long continuous shots whether it's Brian DePalma's movies, the seven-minute fight sequence in "The Protector" or some filmmakers that just have horrible editing skills... but it's intriguing from a film making standpoint.

Next up was "The Raid: Redemption" which is a Korean film about a squadron of police officers that are leading an assault on a fortified stronghold of an apartment building that houses the baddest baddie in the city & most of his minions. Now... there's a lot to be said for action movies that just get to the action... and keep it going. The movie starts with them in the SWAT van getting briefed. Not filling in the whole back story of each character & all that stuff. One guy has a pregnant wife... that's all that's mentioned... and then, it's game time. There's not a whole lot of detail given about where they're going, who they are, why they're attacking now as opposed to later, it's all waiting to be told throughout the rest of the movie between action sequences full of fist fights, explosions & plenty of caps being popped. I really enjoyed this movie... even with subtitles.

Later on in the week was "The Campaign" starring Will Ferrell & Zach Galafinakis. This comedy was about an idiotic arrogant incumbent North Carolina congressman (Ferrell) who's getting some surprise competition from a simple-minded small town tourism board employee (Galafinakis) whose father happens to be hella rich & therefore powerful in the Republican Party. Throw in some not-so-subtle Koch brother inspirations (played by the amazing pair of John Lithgow & Dan Aykroyd) and you've got a spoof on all things politics. It was okay... but yeah, a little too real to life to be hilarious. Will Ferrell is funny even when he's trying to be serious so... he's got that going for him... but yeah, probably won't watch it a second time... but good for a first watch, then decide for yourself.

Lastly today... is basically one of the best movies that I've seen in a long time... and yes, already frontrunner for $tevie of 2013 (though Quentin is still mad at me for not having it going against Batman for 2012's award last week) with "Django Unchained" starring Jamie Foxx, Leonardo DiCaprio, Christoph Waltz, Kerry Washington & Samuel L. Jackson among others. The story is about a slave named Django (Foxx) who becomes the protege of a bounty hunter (Waltz). After becoming a pair of lucrative bounty hunters, Django decides that it's time to find his wife (Washington) who was sold separately from him & get her back. They find out that she's in Mississippi at a plantation owner by a Monsieur Candie (DiCaprio). Now, I will warn you upfront that this movie is rated R. There are plenty of N & F words, violent blood-splosions with nearly ever of the many shot fired, and even things like threatened castration, bludgeoning & packs of wild dogs... however, if you're not squeamish (mostly implied violence anyway with squishy noises, if Dizzy can do it, you can do it, trust me) then it's actually fantastic filmmaking that keeps a good pace, is visually stunning, intriguing & just a lot of fun of fans of other Tarantino films, spaghetti westerns, blaxploitation era films & just great performances from just about everybody in the film. You even get cameos from guys like Don Johnson, Tom Wopat, James Remar (in two roles), Jonah Hill, Bruce Dern (for about five seconds), Tom Savini, Michael Parks & Tarantino himself (of course). GO SEE THIS MOVIE!!!

Anyway, that'll probably do it for today. I've got some NFL playoffs to watch. Have a great weekend everybody!!!

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