Thursday, October 23, 2008

And Today We Have...

... Ang Lee who turns 54 today! A very Happy Birthday to one of my favourite directors ever! He is currently shooting his next project Taking Woodstock with Emile Hirsch , Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Liev Schreiber, Paul Dano, Eugene Levy, Kelli Garner, Mamie Gummer, and Imelda Staunton. Can't wait.



Monday, October 20, 2008

7 Greatest Fang-Bangin' Classics

I have always been partial to a good vampire movie. When I was a kid my grandparents owned a farm out in the middle of nowhere in South-Western Ontario. My cousins would always tell me and my little brother scary stories about werewolves living in the forest behind the farm, and zombies that stalked anyone lost within the corn fields. Now, I didn't particularly believe in either werewolves or zombies; that, and I wasn't exactly scared of them. To me, werewolves were easily taken care of with a rifle, and they would probably go for the easily accessible horses or cattle before they'd take care of me. As for zombies, well they always seemed to move so slowly, and I couldn't wrap my mind around dead tissue suddenly coming back to life for no reason. What I could believe in, was the existence of vampires. To me it made sense that way back when this evil dude renounced God, had a demon living inside of him that required the blood of humansto continue "living". I don't know why these particular creatures managed to work their way into my imagination to apoint where I was terrified of being alone after the sun went down, but they did. I thought it logical that for a vampire the country would be the best place to grab a snack.People out for a drive in the middle of nowhere getting picked off, bodies easily hid among the acres and acres of farmland. Plus, if there was a serious lack of human activity, they could rely on their being a sheep, cow or horse around. Needless to say, I developed a sort of a fascination with vampires and have been a fan of movies/books featuring vamps ever since. As such, and because it is Halloween, I thought I'd compile a list of my favourite vampire movies should anyone care.

(Note: Because I am indecisive, this list is in no particular order.)

The earliest movie on this list, and probably one of the best. Not only is it a horror classic, but also a classic of the Silent era. Max Schreck as Count Orlok is beyond frightening. The physical appearance being more bat-like than more recent, and romanticized versions of the infamous Count. What I remember most are his fingernails, long and sharp, and just creepy as all hell. It's a really fun flick whose visuals stay with you. Though, if you're in for a fun and fast vampire flick to watch with a bunch of friends over some pizza and beer, it might not be the film for you.

Despite the thinly veiled homoeroticism and general melodrama, this is (in my estimation) the most visually sumptuous vampire movie I have ever seen. Every actor, every place, every prop, every costume in this movie is beautiful. Kirsten Dunst does a fantastic job that she's fought to live up to ever since, and both Brad Pitt and Tom Cruise have fun with their roles. I wish that we'd seen River Phoenix rather than Christian Slater as the interviewer, but what can you do? Also interesting to see an early Thandie Newton as one of Brad Pitt's slaves. I'd recommend it if only for the visuals and epicness.

I love this movie. I love it so much. To me, it's a classic. It's so much fun to watch. It's up there with any of the John Hughes movies as being one of the best teen movies of its (or any) decade. All of the leads give just enough to the performance without taking themselves too seriously. That's what's great about this whole movie, it never takes itself too seriously. Plus, the final showdown against the vamps is hilarious, exciting and awesome. "Death by stereo!"

Near Dark is another personal favourite of mine. To be honest, I'll watch just about anything with Bill Paxton in it. What's not to like about a gang of way too cool vampires driving around the southern states messing things up. Another 80's vampire flick that's a lot of fun to watch. I also didn't realize that this movie introduced me to Adrian Pasdar, and that's why he looked so familiar when I started watching Heroes!

Along with Interview with the Vampire, this is one of the more beautiful movies on this list. The animation is simply astounding. It's pretty straightforward in the hero has to go save girl from evil baddie storyline, but when it looks this good, who cares? Nah, there's enough action and funny to keep the movie going. Definitely a great movie, but maybe not for everyone (especially the monster/anime factor)

This movie should be higher on the list, but I can't help but feel as though they could have made a better movie out of the source material. I love the original novel, and so am unsure how I feel about the overly romantic and melodramatic feel of this one. It was a little too 'B' movie for me. I mean, to be fair this is all just a matter of how I would have directed it had I a smidgen of Coppola's talent or ability, but I think I had imagined a much different atmosphere and style. That being said, despite my issues with the choice, they did an amazing job with what they chose. The actors were all just right (except of course Keanu Reeves who ruined just about every scene he was in, I couldn't take it), especially Gary Oldman who I'm already an avid fanboy of; his Dracula was creepy, powerful, sexy, intelligent, fierce. Great work.

This movie is pure fun. It doesn't pretend to be anything else. It's a nice little action horror that provides a nice little escape from reality for 90 min. It's not exceptional in any particular aspect, but bundled together is a fun little vamp flick that I wouldn't mind watching again but isn't on my "Must See Again" list.

Some Honourable Mentions:

I really want Shadow of the Vampire on that list in order to kick one of the lesser films off, but I haven't gotten around to watching it yet. Also, I need to see The Hunger, because Bowie, Deneuve and Sarandon vamp love sandwich is a little too much for me to handle. I hated Queen of the Damned, I'm not really looking forward to Twilight, but I am enjoying HBO's True Blood. Ya, it's a little silly, but the great thing about HBO is that there is a good amount of sex and violence to make up for any silliness or lag in plot. Also, Ball does a good job of keeping his characters super-flawed, which makes for interesting television.
Also, Parker Posey is fierce as f*** in Blade: Trinity.

Thoughts? Comments?

- Popcorn


Tuesday, October 14, 2008


It's that time of the year again. As the 31st of October draws nearer, people begin decorating,buying candy, making costumes, and watching scary movies. I have never been a huge fan of scary movies; or so I thought. When I was 8 years old I watched SCREAM for the first time, and it ruined me. I didn't even get the whole way through, stopping after that indelible image of Drew Barrymore hanging by her intestine from her tree. I had never seen anything like it, and although I was no longer able to go to the basement or garage by myself, or sleep in total darkness, I found myself consistently drawn to these scary movies. I couldn't figure out why I would return to these movies that so utterly terrified me that I would embarrassingly ask to sleep with Mom and Dad, or to keep a night light on in my room, at all times. I realized, that despite the sleepless nights, the pure adrenaline rush I experienced while watching these movies was to be found nowhere else. It was like a drug. I just kept on scaring myself witless. So, in order to celebrate Halloween along with every other movie blog on the internet, starting Friday our posts will be related to something Halloween-y. Whether it be a feature on the next film in our top 10 horror movie countdown, a preview of an upcoming scary flick, or a fun little comparison/editorial/actor feature, all will be posted in an attempt to make your Halloween movie experience a fun and frightful one.

- Popcorn


Sunday, October 12, 2008

Ebert says, "Thank you for Smoking"

I came across a very interesting article over at Roger Ebert's online journal about the digital removal of a cigarette from a stamp featuring Bette Davis.

Now the title of the article is clearly referring to the 2005 film Thank You for Smoking by Jason Reitman. To get even more specific I think it is referring to the character of Senator Ortolan Finistirre as played by William H. Macy. Near the end of the film we see that Finistirre has digitally altered famous photographs of celebrities lighting up. Obviously the bit is played out for laughs because of how ridiculous the idea seems, however now it seems that life has imitated art.

So now the question is this: are we going too far? I mean there had to have been enough people who saw the preliminary designs for this stamp and said nothing about the removal of the cigarette, or were defeated by opposition who believed it was a good idea to remove it in the first place. I mean is there really a lack of people out there who believed that this was not okay? Is it okay to alter the history of a public figure just to play out a political point?

I know it may not seem like a big deal to some, but I just think that by changing our past, our history, it is also changing our present and future. I have always been taught that truth is one of the most important things in life, so doesn't it make sense to acknowledge our past rather than erase it? I mean it may just be a stamp now, but tomorrow it could be something else and that is what is truly scary. Someone out there in the world is going to see this image of Bette Davis and they will never know that there was originally a cigarette in her hand. They will never know that they are actually viewing an altered version of a classic photo. Their truth will not be the same as ours. Of course, it probably does not matter that someone out their knows this iconic image differently than you do, but someday it might matter.

I mean there is the old defence of "Think of the children!" but I honestly cannot remember the last time someone told me they started smoking because they saw it on a stamp and thought it looked cool.


[Source Roger Ebert's Journal]


Monday, October 6, 2008

To One of the Most Talented People in the World...

... I would like to wish a very Happy Birthday. The lovely Kate Winslet turns 33 today, and being one of my most favourite actors in the whole wide world, I had to dedicate at least one post to this woman.

I still do not understand how so much talent and beauty can fit into one person.



Sunday, October 5, 2008

TRAILER: Sunshine Cleaning

Today we have the trailer for Sunshine Cleaning. The film is directed by Christine Jeffs and it premiered on January 18, 2008 at the Sundance Film Festival, with a reported budget of $5 Million. It began filming way back in February 2007, and has yet to find a distribution date. Overture Films (the distribution company that picked up the rights to this film) has stated that they plan on releasing this film before the year's end.

The film centers around two sisters, Rose Lorkowski (Amy Adams) and her sister Norah (Emily Blunt). Norah is living with their father Joe (Alan Arkin) while Rose has a job cleaning the houses of rich people. When Rose's son Oscar (Jason Spevack) gets into trouble at school one too many times, she decides to send him to private school. However she does not have enough money to send him, so she is put in the position of habing to find a new, well-paying job fast. Enter Mac (Steve Zahn) the man with whom she is having an affiar with, who informs Rose that there is a lot more money to be made in the crime scene cleaning business than she thinks. She takes his advice and decides to go into the business with her sister, creating a company called Sunshine Cleaning. Hilarity and drama ensue.

I have to say I have been looking forward to this film a lot longer than I would admit. I am a huge fan of all of these actors and putting them all together into one film seems like a perfect fit. It's sad that this has been on hold for so long, but when it comes out I will be sure to be there on opening weekend. Judging by the trailer (which is usually not a good idea) I would say it looks like everything I wanted and expected... and then some. Emily Blunt falling face first into a mattress covered in the blood plasma of some stranger sold me on it.



[Source JoBlo]


Saturday, October 4, 2008

Don't Vote

"Reading, literacy... really?"

Oh Laura, this is why I love you so much.



Wednesday, October 1, 2008

The Blind Hating on Blindness

(Just a note before reading this post, I have tried to remove as many of the spoilers as possible from this post. If you want to read them, just highlight the words in between the brackets.)

The National Federation of the Blind decided to go out of their way to protest Fernando Meirelles' new film Blindness, opening on October 3rd. The press release was sent out yesterday and it can be found here. Originally I was not going to write a post about this news until I actually read the press release that was sent out.

In their defense, Cinematical informs me that seven staff members of the National Federation of the Blind have actually seen the film, three of them being sighted and four of them being blind. It's a good thing that they actually watched the film before they started to blast it for portraying the blind as "incompetent, filthy, vicious, and depraved." I saw this film at the Toronto International Film Festival, and now I am just wondering if we all saw the same film.

Their major argument is that the film portrays the blind in a disgusting manner that will further harm the image of blind people in the real world. First of all let me just say that I personally do not believe it matters if you are blind or not, and that people are defined by who they are, what actions they take, what they think and not by physical traits, disability or otherwise.

This is a film about an epidemic of blindness that sweeps the whole world. It is not really about blind people at all, but rather about people who can see and then lose their sight after coming into contact from others who have contracted the disease. This is important because many choices of the characters and many of the circumstances are based on this fact, not that they are blind but because they have become blind so suddenly and without warning.

[SPOILERS] In the film that I recall seeing, some of the "deplorable" acts in the film occur while the population is still sighted. At the beginning of the film Don McKeller plays a character only known as "Thief". He steals the car of a man who has just gone blind, and while he can still see. Of course, this event doesn't really compare to the terrible things that happen once the characters are placed inside an abandoned asylum, but I do believe it does go to show that everyone has the capability to do evil or vicious things, sighted or not. Even once inside the asylum there are vicious acts that occur. There are some scenes that are sure to make some audience members walk out in disgust. However, even with these scenes on cannot say that there are good or evil characters. The blindness that affects the population acts as an equalizer between all people. Societal structure falls apart once we all become the same. Their is lawlessness and rampant abuse of human rights. Why? Because we no longer have to follow those rules now that there is no one left to enforce them. Some of the people who were hit with the disease at the beginning of the film slowly begin to show their true natures once they realize that there is no order inside the asylum. [/SPOILERS]

While continuing their argument, the N.F.B. states, "Only one woman, played in the film by Julianne Moore, remains able to see, feigning blindness to remain with her husband. She is portrayed as physically, mentally, and morally superior to the others because she still has her sight." While it is true that she might be superior to some of the other characters in these ways, but this would have also have been true before the epidemic of blindness had hit anyone. This is another reason why I feel that this argument is a little foolish. The film never portrays anyone as a saint, everyone does horrible things, some much worse than others.

[SPOILERS] There is a sequence in which the women of the asylum are forced to have sex with the men of Ward Three in exchange for food. If they do not give up their bodies the people in their wards will starve. While the women of Ward One are having sex with the men of Ward Three, one of then men kills one of the women. In one of the most moving and beautiful scenes in the film, the rest of the women of Ward One carry the body of the dead woman back, clean her, and wrap her. Later, Julianne Moore's character murders a man in Ward Three with a pair of scissors and arguably causes the death of many more people, does that put her morally above others in the film? This is why I say the argument of the N.F.B. is a little foolish. There is no one side to this story, no good guy and no bad guy. [/SPOILERS]

In closing I would just like to reiterate that this film is about society as it falls apart due to an epidemic of blindness that sweeps through the world. It is not an attack on the blind but an exploration of the capabilities of human beings when placed under extreme circumstances. I highly doubt such intelligent people and artists would make a film that would only act to metaphorically lambast the blind.


[Source Cinematical]