3 May 2018

Music I Like

I use this blog and my corresponding Facebook page to talk about film. It's my greatest passion and I want to dedicate my life to it in every way possible. All that said I want to fashion myself as a personality online and it's worth sharing other things I love where it's appropriate.

Music plays a huge role in cinema and at times it's what can transform a good movie into a great one. What's funny about me though is the music I spend most of my time listening to could hardly ever be a part of a movie without drawing attention to itself all while harming the experience of the viewer. I love film soundtracks, especially the grand orchestrated scores put together by geniuses like John Williams, Hans Zimmer, Ennio Morricone and others. I also find pockets of greatness among other genres too. For jazz, I enjoy Miles Davis and John Coltrane. For country, Johnny Cash. For classical, Mozart, Wagner, Tchaikovsky and Beethoven. For hip-hop, Public Enemy, NWA and Eminem. First and foremost however I am a metal guy.

Metal is of course an immense genre. I like to believe that there's some form of metal out there for everybody. I however am just gonna share some bands/artists that I love for the purpose of giving those that follow my blog a chance to know me a bit better, and maybe you'll check something out and find something you like. Without leaning on anything in particular and resisting the urge to list bands all day here is an alphabetic list.

Alice Cooper
Amon Amarth
Arch Enemy
At The Gates
Avenged Sevenfold
The Black Dahlia Murder
Black Sabbath
Bullet for my Valentine
Cannibal Corpse
Children of Bodom
Dark Funeral
In Flames
Iron Maiden
Job for a Cowboy
Judas Priest
Lamb of God
Marilyn Manson
The Misfits
Morbid Angel
Ozzy Osbourne
Thy Art Is Murder

31 Mar 2018

Review: Beetlejuice (1988)

Directed by: Tim Burton
Written by: Michael McDowell and Warren Skaaren
Starring: Alec Baldwin, Geena Davis, Winona Ryder, Catherine O'Hara, Jeffrey Jones and Michael Keaton

Beetlejuice! Beetlejuice! Beetlejuice! I can't believe how much time has passed. I first saw this movie back in 2009, only a year after the classic film had its 20th anniversary. I was in high school, beginning to get truly serious about movies and saw it as mandatory viewing given director Tim Burton's iconic stature in popular culture. Personally I'm far more drawn to some of Burton's other works, though there's quite a lot about this film that remains as remarkable as ever following the 30th anniversary of its release.

Adam and Barbara are a normal happy couple who dedicate their lives to making a great home, but after being killed in a car accident the pair's ghostly spirits are confined to their idyllic rural Connecticut home. The afterlife feels like going through the old motions of the living until a pretentious couple and their kooky daughter move in. This leads to Adam and Barbara seeking help from an eccentric and malevolent "bio-exorcist" that goes by the name 'Betelgeuse.'

Prior to his directing Batman, Tim Burton only had one other feature called Pee-wee's Big Adventure to his name. While I prefer both of these of these movies to Beetlejuice this offered Burton the opportunity to truly realize the artistic and storytelling style we might take for granted from the director today. The sets and lighting are both eerily gothic and simultaneously goofy, giving us a visual experience that is dark, amusing and ultimately inviting. This elements extents further into its special effects that remain a real jaw-dropper. Like any good movie all the appeal comes back to character. Although Baldwin and Davis give solid performances as the two leads, their characters would ultimately be forgettable if not for their compelling dramatic need. The show is truly stolen, unsurprisingly, by Michael Keaton as Betelgeuse. He's delightfully over-the-top and embraces the role passionately. I'd also love to make a special note of Winona Ryder's character Lydia. I honestly feel her outcast status is symbolic of Tim Burton's own childhood. If there's any personal touch by the director in this movie, it's here.

While Beetlejuice might not offer the larger stakes of some of Burton's later films it's undeniably a piece that allowed him to flex the creative muscle and develop that instantly identifiable style. Let's hope the upcoming sequel can hold up!

My Rating: 8/10

28 Oct 2017

Review: Friday the 13th (1980)

Directed by: Sean S. Cunningham
Written by: Victor Miller
Starring: Betsy Palmer, Adrienne King, Jeannine Taylor, Robbi Morgan and Kevin Bacon

On the topic of slashers, one of the most prominent questions is what the very first slasher movie actually is. Commonly you hear people citing Halloween and Black Christmas and others credit earlier films like Peeping Tom and A Bay of Blood. However, the question neglects to consider the quality of these movies or their role in mainstreaming the genre. Friday the 13th is not the first slasher movie or even the best, but it's the one with a legacy that warrants a particular celebration. You don't spawn 9 sequels, a crossover film, a remake and even comics and video games without immense appeal. I wanna overlook all of this however and simply review the original classic as the longtime fan that I am.

Beginning in 1958 two promiscuous counselors at Camp Crystal Lake fall victim to murder by an unknown assailant. In 1979 the camp is being reopened despite its now sinister reputation as 'Camp Blood' following the murders and the drowning of a young boy a year prior. After ignoring the warnings of a local crazy the new camp counselors one by one fall victim to a murderer out in the woods. Is it the same killer responsible for the murders two decades earlier? Is it a vengeance spree? Is Crystal Lake really cursed? And who will make it out alive?

A common complaint  against Friday the 13th a tired old groan about how terrible it is that the iconic Jason Voorhees is not the killer in the film, like it's either a serious fault or it was a mistake that those involved couldn't predict the extent of the series' success. This complaint drives me to talk about an immense positive related to characters and performances. Betsy Palmer plays Mrs Voorhees and despite only being onscreen for the final act she leaves a solid impression. Her performance combines our perceptions of a loving mother and vengeful psychopath. Our villains need stories, and Mrs Voorhees' place in the story of Friday the 13th prevents it from falling into purely generic territory. Even some of the other cast in this film act quite admirably for the standard of a slasher movie, namely a young Kevin Bacon and the film's star Adrienne King.

I will confess that this isn't a perfect slasher film either, and I personally think that a small handful of sequels are superior. There are two majors flaws worth mentioning. Firstly, the lighting is poor and makes the relatively low budget of $550,000 very apparent. Secondly, it's sometimes paced very slowly and leaves you all too eager for what it does best: Depict brutal murders with the art of practical effects. Flaws aside, what the movie does very well has since become tradition. I personally am not scared at all by this film, but there's an element of fun that comes with its cheesiness, violence and its cinematic universe that makes it a joy to watch over and over again. I always find myself drawn into the world of Crystal Lake with its fictional history and each film's progression into a slaughter. The original film laid the framework for such a tradition. The fact that these movies are so fun to watch despite their cheap standard is something special that only fans will understand. The critics really need to lighten up a little.

To summarize, I don't think the original Friday the 13th is best entry into the slasher genre, the most important in history and I don't even think it's the best entry into the franchise, but there's so much I cherish in it, be it from nostalgia or my enthusiasm for the genre that I recommend it that highly. It's a classic.

My Rating: 8.5/10