Friday, October 30, 2009

Paranormal Activity: Haunt Her? I Barely Know Her

Honestly, I didn't think I'd ever see this in theater. I doubted I'd ever rent it. I was willing to admit I may sit down and watch a little of it on television when the time came, or if someone threw a laptop at me and it was playing Paranormal Activity my eyes would allow a second of viewing before my hands jumped up to protect me. Lo and behold, the first day back in Michigan and I'm swept off my feet, plopped into a theater seat three rows away from the screen, and subjected to twenty minutes of previews plus eighty-six minutes of Paranormal Activity. That's the run time in full. Horror movies were "never really my thing" and here I am seeing Drag Me to Hell, Antichrist, Paranormal Activity and countless others all in one year.

I was scared by Paranormal Activity. Yes, I was scared. Lucky for my dignity the level of fear was low and lame. Nothing in the movie had me freaked out any more than hearing a loud thud in the middle of the night coming from the kitchen where loud thuds shouldn't be heard would. I make the comparison because all the 'scary' scenes seem to be the couple hearing unexplained thuds and creaks. The monster in the movie is sound, and it leaves the characters scared witless. It left me ripped off.

I'm proud of Paranormal Activity for being such a huge success. It's something to see to get in the Halloween mood and it isn't boiling over with flesh and gore. That's nearly admirable coming out in a post-Saw I, II, III, IV, V, IV world. The monopoly Saw has retained at the box office during past holiday seasons is appalling, and having a suspenseful ghost movie, meager it may be, is refreshing.

If it wasn't for Katie Featherston and Micah Sloat, the lead demon-aggravating duo, I very well may have considered walking out on the movie. Their chemistry as the "engaged to be engaged" victims of supernatural torment held the shakey fright scenes together. Daytime discussions about the ghostly activities, playful banter and outside-voice bickering keep the film interesting and give the audience something to sink teeth into when the thumps and door-slams aren't pulling their weight. The Psychic, played by Mark Fredrichs, was the only weak role. He's a minor character, and I was content letting him read his lines flatly and rush back to his day job.

To say I enjoyed Paranormal Activity is to say something I'm surprised to hear from myself, but I'm saying it. I don't recommend it be the horror movie you spend your Halloween budget on, and I'm hoping The House of the Devil earns my coveted "favorite horror film of 2009" position, but I didn't think I wasted my time and I suggest going out and watching it if there's nothing better to do.


- Eric T. Voigt

Monday, October 26, 2009

Antichrist: The Only Film To Make Me Squeamish While Urinating

I did it. I went and watched the film dividing critics neatly in half since its first festival premiere. Many loved it and even more despised it. Lars Von Trier probably grinned and nodded a few times. I think Willem Dafoe and Charlotte Gainsbourg were happy enough with things. And then there was me. I beat "Antichrist."

I tried writing a review before I'd finished analyzing what I had seen. This review shows me at my more earnest, after feeling completely wrecked for hours. 1:40AM 10/27/09

The film left me shaken not from the graphic imagery but from the characters' capacity for evil and the consequence of light manipulation. It's making me feel unsafe and insecure inside my own apartment; it potentially made me feel vulnerable in my very life. I didn't feel this way immediately. The film takes what I already settled with and makes different scenes pop out at me with brutal force they didn't carry when I first took them in. 

My father has repeatedly told me if his very own mother jumped out at him wearing a mask of the demon faced girl in "The Exorcist," and he knew for absolute sure it was his mother, he'd punch her in the face. He loves his mother. Right now "Antichrist" is jumping out at me, and I have no way to retaliate but to tell myself "it was only a movie." 

I worry critics who lashed out and scorned "Antichrist" looked at the plot and the less than pleasant visuals alone. What needs to be appreciated is the discomfort it creates inside the actors' every line and movement, in hand with the straight up astonishing cinematography. The film isn't purely exploitation and mutilation, it is a tempest; an emotional epic. "Antichrist" is haunting me and I recommend it haunt you, too.

 - Eric T. Voigt

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Retrospective: A Quick Look at Summer 2009 (Part One)

Summer starts a little bit earlier in Hollywoodland. Once May gets a blockbuster it's Summer this and Summer that. The Summer solstice doesn't start until June 21st, people. Respect the Gregorian calendar. What I'm saying is segue into a post about the year's Summer movies, starting with super hero movies. 

As far back as I can remember, which is nine years, Summers have been a playground for caped crusaders being badass. X-Men reminded people that comic book characters weren't just for kids, they were for everybody, especially kids. What followed was a revival in anyone giving a damn about superheroes, with a string of great movies (Spider-Man, X2, Spider-Man 2, Batman Begins, and The Dark Knight) and awful movies (Daredevil, X-Men: The Last Stand, Spider-Man 3, Ghost Rider, Elektra, Fantastic Four, Catwoman, Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, and then some). The bad was pretty bad, but at least it came with a side of good. What caliber of fantastic heroes did we receive this time around?

March, a pre-Summer month, had Watchmen, a near totally faithful adaptation of the graphic novel by Zack Snyder. It was quite a high to come off of, seeing the best anyone could hope for in a book-to-movie translation. A Little Children reunion for the cast, inventive and artful visuals and no giant squids exploding. If this were a true harbinger for the quality of the upcoming hero and heroin movies the world was truly in for a treat. Instead the world got X-Men Origins: Wolverine.

Bryan Singer's second X-Men film was incredible. It was one of the first films I can remember getting giddy for months ahead of the release, and I had my dad drive me to the first showing opening day immediately after school. The Dark Knight is the only comic book movie to have surpassed that films greatness for me, and to find out that Wolverine was the most poorly reviewed in the X-Men series, after what I hear was a lazy to dumb third installment by enemy of the blog Brett Ratner, to hear the once revered name of X-Men has been tarnished twice over and worse so every time almost wrenches my heart. My sources express that Wolverine throws out story lines established in earlier films, and even remade some of X-Men and X2. I'm appalled. There wasn't even another superhero movie afterwards to help cushion the blow, only bad action movies to act as salt on our wounds.

I don't want to name names or pick on undeservers but McG and Michael Bay were the worst thing to happen to blockbusters this year. I'd say Steven Spielberg should have given us a new Jaws, or anything better than Transformers 2, like I trust he would have in the old days but I can't because Spielberg actually produced the new Transformers. As for Terminator Salvation it appears McG made a lot of promises he couldn't keep, and who were we to not trust the director of the classic Charlie's Angels 2: Full Throttle? Along with these train wrecks of sequels was Angels and Demons, reported to be more boring and worse scripted than The DaVinci Code, which took the cake in cinematic laziness. 

The one good to come out of the action genre was J. J. Abrams' Star Trek. It was exciting. Fun. The action was staged well. The acting was earnest. How hard was it for the other action directors to conceive interesting and explosion-packed films? Judging from the aforementioned, and the trailer for G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra it was so hard they didn't even try.

This concludes part one of A Quick Look at Summer 2009. Next time I'll cover comedies, or what passed for comedy this year, and dramas. Oooo. Dramas.

 - Eric T. Voigt, XOXO

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Rule #1: Cardio

Yes, it's been a while since I've written, but on the dawn of a new school year it's been a while since I've seen a movie. So finally I've made it to theater! A glorious day of celebration. And the film I enjoyed? Zombieland.

In a season of apocolyptic films, it was nice to see one that didn't take itself so seriously. My own personal love for Jesse Eisenberg escalated the second the film started, the subtle humor presented in his squaemish character (which from what I've seen is his real life persona) making him adorable and relatable. Woody Harrelson's scene in the amusement park, locking himself in the stuffed animal booth surrounded by zombies was totally bad ass. Even Abigail Breslin wasn't nearly as annoying as I supposed she would be.

But the cherry on the sundae was Bill Murray. I literally let out a squeal of joy when he walked on the screen. When actors can make fun of themselves (Murray's last regret being "Garfield") that can make a film truly great.

The only controversy lies within zombie purists. The zombies in this movie were awfully quick on their feet, something that is not typical in zombie-lore. To believe that these zombies would be able to wipe out all but four people, they had to be fast moving I think. Whether you are a purist or not, it only makes sense.

Though I loved the film, the greatest experience that came out of that theater was the giant pop out poster for Fantastic Mr. Fox. That is sure to be yet another film where Bill Murray doesn't dissappoint.

Don't let school keep you out of the theaters!
***Brianna Wellen