Sunday, February 13, 2011

The Fly (31/100)

"You're afraid to dive into the plasma pool, aren't you? You're afraid to be destroyed and recreated, aren't you? I'll bet you think that you woke me up about the flesh, don't you? But you only know society's straight line about the flesh. You can't penetrate beyond society's sick, gray, fear of the flesh. Drink deep, or taste not, the plasma spring! Y'see what I'm saying? And I'm not just talking about sex and penetration. I'm talking about penetration beyond the veil of the flesh! A deep penetrating dive into the plasma pool!"

What is it? It's a Kafkaesque horror movie about a brilliant scientist who had spent six years trying to build a fully-functioning teleporter. At first this teleporter is only capable of teleporting inanimate objects, but he eventually figures out how to transport animal life and as a final proof of concept he decides to try it out on himself. There's a small problem with this. A fly flies into the telepod right before he closes the door and the scientist and fly end up getting their genes fused during the teleportation process, and, well, things start going downhill from there.

Like this except not nearly as comical.

How this ever got on the Times top 100 list is a bit unclear to me, and placing is next to movies like Schindler's List and Casablanca seems a bit ridiculous, but it's still a pretty good movie. I think the critics who chose the list were looking for a movie to represent Cronenburg in general. I haven't seen any other Cronenburg movie, but if The Fly is any indication I'm sure he's a pretty good director.

Notice: The Fly is the most visually repulsive movie I've seen since Eraserhead. The special effects are disgusting (pretty good too) and I almost gagged in a few scenes. I should mention here that I'm not a squeamish person. I've been essentially desensitized to all your standard gory horror gruesomeness, so I think it takes a special kinda of movie to get this type of reaction out of me. This is NOT a movie for anyone with a weak stomach.

I assure you however, that The Fly is not just one big gorefest. The nasty bits don't even start until the last third of the movie. You get to witness the scientists slow transformation into a hideous monster. The two main actors are great and they really help immerse you into the story. Overall, just a great horror movie and one any fan of horror movies should probably watch at some point.

P.S. Sorry for the hiatus, I've just kinda taken a break from movies lately.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

This is Water

Here's a really good college commencement speech given by one of my favorite authors ever, David Foster Wallace. Definitely worth checking out.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Attention! Attention! (30/100)

Attention general public and blogging population! Today I bring your attention to an absolutely wonderful 1986 BBC mini-series called The Singing Detective. It's a six-part television program that isn't technically a film, but it's on the Times top 100 list, and I'm willing to consider it a film as well. If you consider is a film it's easily in my own personal top five movies of all time, and if you consider it a TV show, it's hands down the best I've seen. Make no mistake, TV show or movie or whatever you label it, The Singing Detective is absolutely brilliant.

Written by Dennis Potter, and largely considered to be autobiographical (though Potter denied this), The Singing Detective tells the story of a bedridden hospital patient reliving his pulp magazine detective stories he wrote as well as various childhood memories through various hallucinations and some very clever storytelling. It's told in a way that might be confusing to some viewers as a lot of seemingly random scenes are interspersed throughout the narrative, but as we learn more and more about the characters and their back-stories, pieces start fitting into place. It's almost like a detective story! And while viewers are left to form their own conclusions when it's all over, it becomes clear that Potter did everything very intentionally.

So, you ask, whatever did The Singing Detective do to deserve such lavish praise? It does just about everything I can think of that a film can do right... well, right. The acting is superb: Michael Gambon (you might recognize him as Dumbledore from the more recent Harry Potter movies) gives an amazing performance and has some of the best dialogue I've heard. His character is bitter and cynical and completely nasty, but I also found him extremely likable. All the other actors and very good as well and there's definitely some top-notch acting going on here.

I won't goon much longer other than to reiterate that you watch this as soon as you can. It's masterful. It's art. It's cinema perfected as far as I'm concerned. Thank you Times for introduction me to this wonderful piece of work.

Also, there's awesome 1940s crooner music and characters occasionally bursting into song!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Star Wars (28/100*)

If there's one set of movies I've put off seeing for far too long it's definitely the Star Wars franchise. I mean, the franchise is essentially a staple of pretty much every boy's childhood, right?

Well not mine. It's not something I particularly regret. On one hand I guess I did always feel a bit left in the dark when playground conversation turned to serious matters like Luke Skywalker or Darth Vader. But on the other, and to be honest I'm not entirely sure whether this is a good thing, but a childhood without Star Wars allowed me to watch the movies today with an unbiased mind and without donning the rose-tinted goggles of nostalgia. I think an objective viewpoint is generally the best kind of viewpoint, and all too often nostalgia gets in the way of qualities I really value in cinema.

And I'm sorry Star Wars fans, I know what the series means to you, I just didn't enjoy it. A New Hope was pretty good (and that the only movie in the series the Times list explicitly stated I must watch), but it definitely went downhill in episodes V and IV.

Maybe part of it was the fact that the infamous plot twist in episode V had been spoiled for me (and just about everyone who hasn't been living under a rock for the past 30 years) a hundred times over. I could literally quote that and a few other scenes word for word, and this mind you in a movie I had never seen before. I'm not joking.

I didn't watch the prequels, but considering Star Wars fans hate them, I doubt I'd get any enjoyment out of them. I might watch them one day, but I have no particular desire to do so at present.

* Yeah I know I'm a few movies behind on the whole review thing. I'll get around to them eventually.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Chungking Express and Double Indeminity (23/100)

I also watched first two Godfather movies, but everybody knows about them already, right? I think they're overrated, but they're still pretty darn good.

Chungking Express (1994) 

A really unique movie with one of the coolest intro themes I've ever heard:

I think it's a really suitable song for this movie and it's visual style. The movie itself is a Hong Kong film directed by Wong Kar-wai, but it's  bit hard to classify it as one genre or another. It's a romantic drama, but it's not really a film that work because of it's plot. This movie is mainly for people who just really love film in general. Quentin Tarantino is quoted to have said: "I just started crying. Not because the movie was sad, but I'm just so happy to love a movie this much.'' And damn, if that isn't good enough praise for you I doubt anything I can say here will convince you to watch it. The whole atmosphere kind of reminded me of Tarantino's Pulp Fiction actually, if only because of it's charm.

It's a really subtle film. I've only seen it once, but I aim to revisit it soon because I can tell there are a lot of things I missed. The movie itself is divided into two essentially unrelated story arcs with characters only briefly coming into contact with each other. I was a bit confused by this and didn't realize that the story arc had changed for quite a while (due to my incompetence or just not paying attention remains up to question). It's not a casual film, and it's not really a film with any very serious message (none that I've found at least), but it doesn't try to be. It's a celebration of film and a pretty damn good one at that.

Double Indemnity (1944)

For some reason, I can't for the life of me see why, I never really got into detective films. What little of the genre I've seen I've loved, and there's just something about the film noir style that I find irresistible. Maybe it's all the snarky cynical characters, or the cat-and-mouse detective work, but I just love the genre.

It's about a love affair between a life insurance salesman and a married woman who plot to pull off the perfect murder by killing her husband and get away with the insurance money, but obviously things don't work to plan, and well, you'll have to see it for yourself.

Anyway, I sincerely urge you to watch this movie ASAP. It's one of the most entertaining works of cinema I've seen in a while. I found myself watching with a huge stupid grin on my face the whole way through. It's an amazing film with a clever plot and some awesome dialogue. It's barely aged and it's still remains exciting it all the intense parts, and if you're looking for a movie to watch over the weekend make it this one.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Oh, just some Canadian indie bands

Just thought I'd drop these here. I apologize in advance for my indie/alt-rocky musical tastes if that's not what you're into. People tend to be picky about these things.

Anyway, the 100 movie thing is now up to 22/100, I'll be posting some reviews in the next few days.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

100 movie challenge progress: 20/100

"Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, she walks into mine."

Casablanca is probably one of the movie perfect movies I've ever seen. In case you don't know, it's a 1942 romantic drama directed by Michael Curtiz about a love triangle between the main actress and two lovers, one of whom she had assumed to be dead but turned out to not be, which complicates things quite a bit. It's a classic movie and it's not hard to see how much of an impact it's had on cinema in general. The screenplay and onscreen choreography are just superb. There's always something happening, there's not a dull moment. I honestly don't have any complaints. A lot of people consider old movies slow and boring to watch but Casablanca is pretty much the antithesis of that stereotype. I highly suggest everyone watch this movie at least once.

Metropolis on the other hand, I didn't enjoy as much. It's a 1927 German Expressionist silent film by Fritz Lang, and in case you didn't know, one of the most iconic science fiction films in cinema history. It's a fine movie, and an amazing technological achievement (for the time of course), but I'm just not a fan of movies that rely to much on symbolism. I think it's a historically important film, but I doubt I'd watch it again. On a side note I'm fairly certain that it's the oldest movie I've ever seen.

Next up: The Godfather Parts 1 and 2!!!