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Sunday, June 24, 2012

Conan the Barbarian (2011) - Action

Conan the Barbarian (2011) -  Conan the Barbarian is a reboot of the great Robert E. Howard character made famous in movies by Arnold Schwarzenegger in the 1982 film. The first film a reasonable financial success of $68 million more than made up for its 20 million dollar budget. It also made Schwarzenegger a household name. This current film is a remake with some rewriting of the story but still basically the same origin and revenge story. The remake is so far a financial flop after spending $70 million to make the film it has only made back $21 million prior to DVD sales.

 Taking the lead role is Jason Momoa a television actor breaking into the big screen. His buff body and lumpy brow does allow him to fit the role although not so buff as the former Mr Universe Schwarzenegger. Although the story is basically the same Conan the Barbarian of the first film, It follows Conan from birth until he is a young adult and gets his revenge; the characters around him have changed. Instead of  Thulsa Doom (James Earl Jones) as the slaughterer of Conan's village we have Khalar Zym (Stephen Lang) doing his somewhat expected, exaggerated villain. Lang who recently appeared as the over the top Col Miles Quaritch in Avatar, and as the cartoonish Commander Nathanial Taylor in the short lived television series Terra Nova actually tones down a bit and does a decent job playing Khalar Zym.
  The story has a different more extreme beginning as Conan is still a fetus when the action opens. The village is being attacked and the Cimmerians are up to the task but Conan's mother is fatally injured as the beat off the attack. Instead of dying before her child is born she has her husband (Ron Perlman) cut the baby from her womb. She promptly names it and dies leaving Conan to be raised by his father. His skills as a fighter exceed his age and as a young man he joins the older boys in a ritual to become a tribe warrior. Holding a bird egg in his mouth the participants race up and around a mountain without breaking the egg. First one back egg unbroken can join the adults. Naturally the young men bang and fight with each other trying to knock out competition. On this occasion the boys are attacked by what look to be an even more savage tribe while running up the mountain. As they flee forgetting the challenge and fearing for their lives only Conan stands his ground. He walks into the village with the heads of three of the savages and then for good measure spits out the unbroken egg. This is one bad ass dude.
  The story at this point intersects with Khalar Zym because each of the tribes has a piece of a mask worn by an evil sorceress, Zym's former wife. When they defeated her by shattering the mask they divided it up so it could never be put back together and thus allow the sorceress to return to this world. Zym has other plans and is conquering the tribes one at a time to recover the pieces. He is obsessed and will go through great lengths to find the pieces. He is assisted by his creepy and magical daughter Marique (Rose McGowan) who shares the magical heritage of her mother. She can sense the pieces of the mask and leads her father to the villages where they are hidden. She is striving to be seen as special to her father a man obsessed with recovering his wife. The makeup for McGowan is great and she is almost not recognizable as the evil sorceress in training. Zym attacks Conan's village and eventually captures Corin, Conan's father.  He tortures the man in front of Conan and leaves the two to die in the burning forge.  The situation leaves it where either Conan or his father or both will die and you can guess that the noble Corin chooses to let his son live. This incident will be the driving force in Conan's future. The chance to get revenge on the man who killed his father.
  When we next see Conan he is all grown up and from the banter with his friend Artus (Nonso Anozie) he has had many adventures to get to the point where he is an exceptional killer of men. The rest of the story is taken up from this point. It is two tiered with one half being Conan trying to get close to and kill Khalar Zym who has at this point become king of the area. The second half is that of  Zym seeking the last thing he needs to make the now fully assemble mask magical, pure blood of a bloodline of Acheronian necromancers.  That blood takes the form of the lovely Tamara (Rachel Nichols) who naturally becomes Conan's love interest. He save her, at first they don't get along, then they find common ground and then they fuck, and then she is captured and he has to save her, yada,yada,yada. Actually this adventure becomes rather standard fair from the moment Conan sees Zym again. There is nothing surprising and we know what the outcome is going to be. It is fun viewing though with all the action and fighting. The gore in this film is decent and there is lots of it so sticking around through the entire film is acceptable. There are monsters and revenge and death for the bad guys. The outcome is never in doubt so really it is just a ride from that point on and it should be said director Marcus Nispel does a stand up job delivering the goods. His previous two major motion pictures Pathfinder, which is as close to Conan as can get and The reboot of Friday the 13th are both reasonably well made films. Here he gives us exactly what we expect out of this material and does so with enough style that it is a decent movie experience. I know I don't sound particularly excited but this really is nothing new in content or in construction, but it is an okay film. I will give it a marginal recommendation.
Rating (5.0) 5.0 and up are recommended but some are more recommended than others.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

The Witch's Mirror (1962) - Horror

The Witch's Mirror (1962) - SPOILER ALERT!!! This movie is completely ruined with spoiler information from this review. Since it is RECOIMMENDED with a rating of 7.7 go and see the movie first before reading the review.  If you are not bothered by knowing the plot and thoughts about the movie then by all means read on.
"El Espejo de la Bruja" This classic horror tale from director Chano Urueta starts with a voice over explaining that witchcraft is real and witches perform rituals of magic. "They blaspheme, they sacrifice unchristened children..." and other horrible things, a strong witch can create a magic object and in the case of this film it is a Witch's Mirror. This intro starts us on a sad journey of revenge which can not end well for any involved.
  The witch in the story is Sara (Isebela Corona) the grandmother of Elena (Dina de Marco) and we start the story with the two women looking into the magical mirror. The women are trying to get answers about Elena's future, but unfortunately danger hovers over the younger woman. They press on calling the evil gods to show the danger, who is the cause. It is a doctor, who we later learn in Eduardo Ramos (Armando Calvo) Elena's husband, then another woman is seen in the mirror who is she. Sara tells Elena that that is her rival but neither knows the woman. "Death is stalking you Elena." is the message loud and clear.
 Eduardo sits as his wife Elena plays the piano, her favorite piece. He asks here why she always plays the same music and she reminds him he always used to ask her to play it. He says things change, and she seems sad. The scene is great at showing a relationship that has seen better days. Elena still loves her husband but he has lost interest. He is looking at his watch like he has somewhere else to be.  When she goes to bed it is without him. Simple and not wordy it is an excellent example for how to put meaning into a scene.
  Sara prays to her satanic gods for them to intervene on her granddaughter's behalf but they tell her that it is fate and Elena must die. Sara even though she is a powerful witch can not change her fate.
So the next night when Eduardo brings his wife poisoned warm milk she is destined to drink it and die. Her funeral and burial is efficient and Sara can only watch through her magic mirror and promise that her death will be avenged.
  This is not a simple form of revenge, no it is much more complicated than that, with a mix of cruel punishment and mad scientist the story twists and turns before finally smashing a hammer into the antagonists leaving them broken. Eduardo does not take long to remarry and his lovely bride Deborah (Rosa Arenas), although she knows he is a widow does not know the details of her death. She arrives with him at the house and we see that Sara is still working for and plotting against Eduardo. She calls forth the ghost of Elena and the haunting starts.
  As a storm starts outside to give us a foreshadowing of trouble to come strange things start to happen in the house. Deborah is scared and Eduardo is in denial right up until he sees his former wife in the magic mirror. Throwing his lantern at her image breaks the mirror but unfortunately the fainted Deborah is caught up in the fire. She wakes aflame and in a great practical effect runs from the room fully engulfed. It is good to stop here and reflect on the cruelty of this films plot. Poor Deborah did not know that Eduardo killed his wife, she did not know she was a rival to Elena, in fact she is completely innocent in this matter. Eduardo is an asshole murderer but it is Deborah who is burn until totally disfigured, it is so horrible for her a woman who happened to fall for a bad man.
  If you think revenge was served and that the film was over but you are wrong. Sara is not done with them yet and Eduardo has hardly been beaten down enough. This is where we have the twist into the mad scientist realm. Eduardo works day and night on a formula to make new skin grafts for Deborah, he wants to restore her beauty. In doing so though he has had to perform low acts. Stealing bodies from the morgue with the help of Gustavo (Carlos Nieto) he finally almost has what he needs. One more body and the operation to restore Deborah can begin.
  Stealing a woman who died of a heart attack from her grave in the cemetery Gustavo and Eduardo learn she was not really dead but just thought to be. So their crime actually saves the young girl from dying buried alive. She was a pianist with beautiful hand that could be transplanted in full onto Deborah, but now that she is alive this can't be. Eduardo says with excitement how he can now have a living specimen to use to replace his wife's burnt parts and no one will miss her thinking her already dead and buried. This is too much for Gustavo, the killing of an innocent girl is completely different than using the skin of cadavers. He says he will have no part of it and leaves. Eduardo can be pretty sure that he will not go to the police. He would be in trouble himself for stealing bodies. Still the fact he left the girl in Eduardo's hands weighs heavy on Gustavo.
  To spur Gustavo to turn himself into la policia, Sara materializes in from of him and warns him and then turns into a black cat to make sure he understands she is a dangerous witch. He heads off immediately having seen this. She raises Elena again from the grave, she knows that Eduardo is going to do the hand transplant so she has Elena leave her ghost hands in place of the young girls. Where both women played the piano Eduardo does not notice and attaches the hands to Deborah. Then he replaces the scarred tissue on her face with beautiful new skin. Deborah is so grateful and caresses her love with the new hands, but they are Elena's and try to strangle him. Still her face is unrevealed covered in bandages. She never questions Eduardo about how he got the body parts and apparently never reads the paper either so does not know about the missing bodies.
  Things pick up to the climax as Gustavo tells the police everything and they head to the house. At the same time Sara calls forth her final revenge. She reveals to Deborah the dead bodies hidden in the lab and it appalls Deborah. She confronts Eduardo calling him a criminal. He tries to explain he did it all for her and gets her to remove her face bandages. She is again beautiful with no signs of her terrible burns. Sara not that easily deterred though knows the hands are Elena's and as Deborah and Eduardo hold each other the otherworldly power makes the hand stab him in the back with scissors. Down he goes dead, and she loses the hands as they fall from her body and the burnt hands appear.
  Found by the police with now face and hand reverted to the charred horrors they were her sad fate as a murderess is sealed? The ghost appendages with one more task at hand :) crawl up Gustavo and finish his life with the scissors. Sara using the magic she used to get her revenge allows Elena to rest in peace and then vanishes before the police can find her.
  There is a lot I loved about this film, the pacing was wonderful and even though the plot meandered a bit it was always entertaining and there were no real lulls. The acting was wonderful with Calvo's Eduardo showing his villainous menace and driven intent. Deborah wonderfully played by Arenas was innocent and vulnerable and then tormented in her disfigurement. Corona's Sara was dignified in her need for revenge, you felt her love for her granddaughter in her actions.
  The special effects for this 1962 film were good, from the simple angle shots to reveal things in the mirror. To the scarred skin of Deborah, they were low budget but effective. The appearance and transformations of Sara through cut shot were simple but effective. The corniest piece was the ghost hand that were clearly still attached to arms and the best was the burning Deborah running from the room. There is also something like corn syrup over the lense at one point, a cool camera effect as well as a dreamy lighting scene showing Deborah as she hears the voice of Sara call Elena in the climax.
  The direction should get some credit to as the film was so well done. There was this one moment where I notice a small thing that was so great. Early in the film when Elena and Sara are looking at who will kill her. They see Eduardo in his doctor coat and he looks to be cutting something. there is nothing in his hands but they are making the motions. Later when he is taking the hands off the girl he murders for them he does it with a matching shot as he uses the same motion to make the incisions. It is a small thing but just excellent. I really enjoyed this film and whole heartedly recommend it to all.
Rating (7.7) 5.0 and up are recommended, but some more recommended than others.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Prometheus (2012) - Quick Hit

 Prometheus (2112) - This is Quick Hit not a full review but some thoughts on this film. A wonderful fathers day gift was to spend the day doing what I wanted with my 20 yr old daughter Joy.  She and I were very excited to see Prometheus having heard only good things about the film. Going to an early afternoon showing we we two of maybe 10 people in the Real 3D showing of the film. Being at the 3D version of the film was strictly because that was the time of day we planned to be at the theater. Normally I don't pay for 3D shows as the gimmick is a bit of a pain while wearing eye glasses. After the seemingly endless string of commercials and previews the film started. The initial creation scene was bleak but effective in showing the start of a complex story.  The title Prometheus after the mythological figure who in Greek mythology was a titan who created man from clay and also stole fire for man is known as a symbol of man's striving for scientific knowledge fits wonderfully into this first scene. Prometheus acted against the wishes of Zeus and was punished this figure the act of creation was a punishment.  Joy had forgotten this scene when we started talking about the film over desserts afterwards. She had not yet made the connection and the big reveal in the plot and so thought the reveal was confusing. The basic plot is that a couple paleontologists have discovered similar wall paintings around the world. Each painting had a over sized humanoid pointing at a group of stars in the earth sky. Since the civilizations where these images were found were separated in time and through distances and had no contact with each other it must be something other worldly put them there. So have aliens been visiting earth for millennium leaving us messages to seek this star cluster? That is what Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace) and Charlie Holloway (Logan Marshall-Green) think. Doing some exploratory science shows them that there is one moon circling one planet in this region of space could support life. So they get funding from the Weyland Company and head into space to meet their alien friends.  The story is about the mission, the motivations of the Weyland Company's owner Peter Weyland in funding it, and the chance to meet your creator.
Note: This is a tricky write up as the film is still trying to make money. I do not want to spoil the plot by going into too much detail but I do want to say I enjoyed it. Like many good movies there is enough depth to keep you thinking yet just enough character development to make the actions of the characters organic. Being a science fiction film there is technology, pseudo science and action.
 I enjoyed the movie in 3D which is rear for me since I get a bit of motion sickness. In this film, shot by director Ridley Scott with all 3D cameras, the 3D is beautifully done. No tricks to make the effects stand out,  just a field of depth that is great to look at and enhancing the story instead of taking away from it. The sets and special effect are exceptional and many times during the film I marveled at how stunning it was.
  The acting was good if you ask me, knowing more about the writing side of films I am no expert but the cast seemed to be very good in this film. Charlize Theron was matter of fact as a Weyland executive but still had the chops to show her vulnerably side when the time came. Guy Pearce as Peter Weyland looked a bit silly in the old person makeup but played the driven head of the company well. The most significant character is the android David played with exception skill by Michael Fassbender. There were a few red shirts in the cast that you knew where fodder for the story, but the story as a whole was carried by Rapace and Fassbender. They were both very much up to the task and even with scant character development were able to be dynamic and interesting.
Are there flaws with this film? Sure as with most films but the good very much out weighs the bad. The film asks some big questions about life's origins and the desire to seek ones creator and still hold onto faith. These are not easy things to approach but the film does so and comes out okay. The main thing I think I could complain about was that considering that the group on the trip were primarily scientist, they did not act like it. The methods of inspecting and collecting samples was so bad and the lack of thought and questioning of the discovered ruins was just comical. There was also that stupid, "I'm going to take off my helmet" moment where no sane person in an alien environment would risk dying from an alien germ just because the air sort of matches that on earth. Still like I have already stated this was a good film and one I look forward to seeing again.
Rating (7.9) 5.0 and up are recommended, some just more recommended than others.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Drainiac (2000) Horror Monster

Drainiac (2000) - This film is a very low budget horror flick made in the New England area and featuring a house with a beast living in the water pipes. The acting is rough with this being a early film in the careers of many of the actors. The dialog does not help with over simplified and exaggerated interaction mostly of characters not getting along. Sure conflict drives story but much of the banter is mean and in-congruent. The Boston accents of many of the players made the film feel very similar to listening to my relatives at a family cookout. The special effects are special in the short yellow bus kind of way and include a model car sinking in water. It is amazing that the writer, director Brett Piper has done so much with so little. The final exorcism scene is worth the watching of this movie all by itself. Not because it is particularly good but because it is so much better than the parts where actors are trying to show us the storyline. The story starts as an unexplained slime creature in the pipes movie but ends as a supernatural water deity in the pipes film.
  Filmed at an old house in Pelham NH we see two homeless guys, Billy (Andrew Osborne) and Steve (Todd Poudrier) in the woods by a fire complaining about being in the woods. Their bickering leads them to the old house and they quickly decide they can be warmer inside than outside. Climbing in the cellar window they soon find slime on the pipes. When Steve touches the stuff we get some slime special effects as it spreads from his finger up his are before he is basically melted by the stuff. So here I am thinking we have a blob movie. The scene was so similar but really that is not what this film becomes. We never really get a cogent explanation for the cause of this creature except that sometimes they infest a house.
  After the credits we get the main story, Julie (Georgia Hatzis) is a girl struggling a year after the death of her Mother to deal with her feeling and nightmares. The girl is not positively supported by her Dad (Stevenn Bornstein) in any way. He is an evil selfish alcoholic who seems to be the most negative thing in her life. In fact he is the reason that Julie's Mom is dead and I think in writing the character this is the intent. Why does Julie not have a Mothers love? Because the man in her life is so horrible that the Mom could not live with him. When you see how bad this guy in all you can do is wish to kill this guy. One of the ways this loser makes money is by buying run down houses, fixes them up, and then selling them at a profit. In this case he buys the monster house and brings Julie out to help him clean it up.
  Joining Julie are three of her friends, Lisa (Alexandra Boylan), Tanya (Samara Doucette) and Jake (Ethan Krasnoo) as well as small town bully Wade (Rob Gorden) who really is only there to make trouble for everyone else. Dad having gotten tired of verbally abusing his daughter heads into town to drink beer leaving her alone before her friends arrive. Most of the movie from here until the third act is the kids splitting up in the house and almost getting eaten by the creature. Julie for her part is also having scary waking dreams. As is the case with many horror films the movie looks for a way to get the actress to take her clothes off. In this film she get dirty and tells the others she needs to wash her hands, and goes upstairs to the bathroom. There she sees suddenly the grimy dirty water filled bathtub now filled with crystal clear water. What else should Julie do in her waking dream than take off all her clothes and get in the tub. Now for people who enjoy gratuitous nudity will certainly be pleased with this development while feminism supporters will find it offensive.
  It seemed that the film probably was originally a different story than what the DVD I viewed contained. Much of the dialog and scenes did not hold continuity from one to the other and seemed to be cut and pasted to fit this latest story. Sure with a lower budget film it could be that the editing is just poor. It made for a difficult watch but since both really mean character get killed by the creature it is a bit more tolerable. Finally the third act arrives with the exorcist Plummer (Philip Barbour), he is not a plumber but his name is Plummer. He knows all about the ghosts, ghoulies and dime-gods who inhabit houses and leads the group through a ritual to get rid of the creature. The psychedelic low quality effects during this sequence makes the film almost worth renting or streaming. In the end though even the house being pulled into the center of a pit is not enough to make this film a recommend.
Rating (2.9) 5.0 and up are recommended, some films more recommended than other.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Happy Birthday to Me (1981) Horror

Happy Birthday to Me (1981) -  A psychological slasher film starring the lovely Melissa Sue Anderson where she plays a traumatized teen whose friends are disappearing daily. It is a large mystery surrounded by her strange blackouts and the returning memories of the accident that killed her mother. Now I missed this film when it came to theaters back in the day. At 17 with hormones flooding my system I am sure an all grown up Mary Ingalls (Little House on the Prairie) would have attracted me to the theaters. Living in a house of sisters, I did see many episodes of the Little House.  I hated that show so I probably skipped it out of spite. Even to this day when I saw Anderson was in this movie I shamefully wondered if I would get to see her boobies. So sad :( I would like to think of myself as so much more mature than that. In case your wondering the answer is no. You do not get to see her boobies, in fact this film is very PG-13 and really tame. Originally when presented to the MPAA this movie got an X rating because of the violent and gruesome murders, and the scenes of brain surgery, it was cut significantly to get to an R rating, but whether the times have changed or I am just use to blood and guts I don't even see it as an R.
 The film itself was not too bad, when I read the synopsis I thought for sure it was an early eighties slasher I could figure it out even without watching. I figured they would have Virginia (Melissa Sue Anderson) blacking out, means she was killing her friends. At the end of the film she would come out of it and realize just what she was doing and then the police would arrest her. Boy was I wrong! This film is just one big misdirection with a twist so twisty the smartest of film goers will not see it coming. Then the twist has a twist and we are left wondering what just happened.
  Getting ahead here though, the film starts by introducing the idea of the elite kids at the Crawford Academy. We follow Bernadette (Lesleh Donaldson) as she heads out to meet her friends at the local pub. I take it must be college because they are hanging at a bar. On this night Bernadette does not make it to the party, in her car she is attacked from behind by a strangler. She struggles on her back kicking the door open and then smartly playing dead before a final surge frees her into the parking garage. It is a well done scene that feels organic in the blocking. Other than the leather gloves of the killer neither we or the victim see much. As she hides and creeps we see some point of view of the killer and another near miss before Bernadette turns to someone in a green coat. She recognizes the person asking for help and seeming relieved when the person raises a black gloved hand with a straight razor. The demise of Bernadette is complete.
Beside Virginia and Bernadette the core group consists of Jock Greg (Richard Rebiere), soccer player Rudi (David Eisner), Steve (Matt Craven), exchange student Etienne (Michel-Rene Labelle) and dork Alfred (Jack Blum). A lot of the girls in the group are unfortunately less defined as characters and could be interchangable, Amelia (Lisa Langlois), Maggie (Lenore Zann) and Virginia's best friend Ann Thomerson (Tracey E. Bregman). This is the cool group kids and they are rich and entitled.
  This initial kill scene is good and even though it has basically been done before director J. Lee Thompson  brings a tension and pace that is really nice. A veteran director of such films as The Guns of Navarone (1961), The Greek Tycoon (1978) as well as a couple of the worst Planet of the Apes films, Battle and Conquest, he may not be the greatest director but he certainly knows how to put a sequence together. The writer John C. W. Saxton wrote some pulp besides this including The Class of 1984 (1982), Ilsa: She Wolf of the SS (1975) and Blackout (1978) does a decent job but save way too much for the end without properly foreshadowing it. After viewing if you go back you can pick some areas where he tried to drop hints but really a clearer job needed to be done to keep the ending from being such a WTF moment. He should get some credit though he did not have to have a character explain the entire story as is true with so many poor script. There is the explaining of the blackouts and the reason the killer has for it but overall he avoided much of that. We call this the Scooby Doo ending and it is horrible. Reading on IMDB I see that one of the trivia items is that the script was originally written without the twist at the end and that it was added later. This explains why there is no build up to the finale and the need to tell the story in flashback synopsis.
 There are other problems with this script that really can't be overlooked.  One is the real lack of a police investigation when kids start disappearing. Sure questions are asked but things seem rather relaxed considering at one point five different teens have disappeared in a week. In fact even the students, the main characters are seemingly oblivious to the frightening realization that their group is shrinking. The sense of urgency never seems to meet the events in the film. They just go about their lives, classes and partying and switching partners. It is all very strange, at least it makes sense for the main character but for the rest it is ridiculous. Another is the stupid red herring in having the killer and Alfred have the same coat. It is so obvious that since everyone talks about how he is so strange and that he is never around when the killer is on the prowl that there is no way he could be the killer. It is so cliche to do this and never will the average viewer think it possible that the herring is the killer. Hell it could be that the writer is just smarter than me and Alfred is there so you won't notice the real killer is not around at the same times. Lastly the final scene where everything is revealed, there is the killer needing to explain what happened in the film. It is a pet peeve that I can't stand when the movie has to be explained at the end because the script held so much back. Not only does this script hold tons back but the lack of clues to the possibility of the ending just failed. You are left really feeling a bit cheated because the twist and the twist on the twist are so poorly foreshadowed.
 The kills are a slit throat, a motorcycle wheel to the face, a weight lifting demise, the use of garden shears, skewer to the face, tub drowning and more.
  The subtext surrounding the motivations of the characters have to do with old money versus new money, infidelity and revenge for a broken marriage. Like I said before this part of the film is a bit weak but there is is you have to deal with it. When Virginia does remember the accident where her Mom (Sharon Acker) was drown you do understand. Originally a girl from the wrong side of the tracks she resented the wealthy old money families for not accepting her when she married well. When she is snubbed and Virginia is snubbed Mom freaks and causes a scene at Ann's parents house before driving drunkenly onto the bridge where she loses her life. It takes most of the movie for these memories to come back to our lead. At this point we already think she is the killer and seeing her humiliation because of the scene her Mom makes only reenforces that she could hate the rich kids.
  Helped through the film by her therapist Dr. David Faraday (Glenn Ford) there is a secondary storyline about a risky brain surgery that was tried on Virginia. He guides her through her trauma after the accident and as her memory return. It is was a smart way to get you thinking that Virginia was the killer, accident, no memories, blackouts and if the original ending had stood that would have been it to my disappointment. Luckily someone noticed this and flipped the switch on the end of the film.
Overall I liked this film, it has its flaws as I have explained, but it is a decent attempt is a tame one at a revenge slasher movie. Poor Virginia is the real loser in this one. She did nothing to create the problems that caused her Mother's death, her traveling Father all but abandons her. Prior to the accident she is not in with the "Top Ten" the cool group and that causes her grief. Although She was only is a bra, this was something for the Melissa Sue Anderson squeaky clean image. Better yet seeing her smoking a joint and making out with a boy was even more shocking. In the end she will be the one in jail and it really was not her doing. So give this movie a look, it is not the best but it is not a total waste of time either.
Rating (5.9) 5.0 and up are recommended, some movies just more recommended than others.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

The Skin I Live In (2011) Drama Quick Hit

The Skin I Live In (2011) - Quick Hit! Not a full review but here are some words about this film. "La piel que habito" another fine film by director Pedro Almodovar. Almodovar writes and directs excellent melodrama and this film, although less excellent than some of his other films, like "All About my Mother", "Volver", and "Broken Embraces" it is a fine film about obsession and revenge. It is impossible to tell you much of the story without giving too much away but I am definitely going to do a jig around it here.
Antonio Banderas plays Robert Ledgard a plastic surgeon driven by the memories of his wife's death after being severely burned in a car crash. He secretly develops a new kind of artificial skin, but human experimentation is frowned upon by the establishment so a secret illegal test subject is needed. How he gets this guinea pig and who it is is so central to the film. Going into it would spoil, but oh my what a story. His captive Vera (Elena Anaya) wants her freedom but has been captive so long it seems she also has a connection to Ledgard. There is this strange co dependence that is eerie and after the twist you see the reasons.
  The remarkable thing in Almodovar films are the original if disturbing turns they take. I have to say this film had a turn that is so remarkable that it is impossible to get. This compelling story is not about happy ending, but how often do happy ending happen to revenge driven psychopaths. From experience let me say not very often and Ledgard will have to deal with the consequences of his actions. If this relationship between Vera and Robert were the only thing to think about it would be an interesting film but there is so much more. Marilia (Marisa Paredes) assists the doctor but has her own secrets. Her son Zeca (Roberto Alamo) brings some madness to the plot. Mixed in is the back story that has driven Ledgard to this point, the accident that disfigured his wife, the effect it had on his daughter Norma (Blanca Suarez). Her own tragedy is a stunning point that drives the story forward in the most prominent way.
  As always with Almodovar film this one was enjoyable to this reviewer. It is not quite as good as some of his others but still it is good.
Rating (6.3) 5.0 and up are recommended, some more recommended than others.