Monday, October 27, 2014

Quick Movie Review

Lars and the Real Girl (2007, USA) | Rating: 4/5

This was a recommendation by a good friend and I trust her taste. I didn't know what direction would this movie would go considering the concept was about having a relationship with a doll. Yes, a doll. I'm sure those who are in the know of Japanese taboo trends might be familiar with real girls or sex dolls. There's also the possibility you've watched My Strange Addiction or heard of Davecat on a talk show. Anyway, it deals with that. The movie stars Ryan Gosling who seems almost unrecognizable to my eyes and does a fantastic job playing this socially awkward man who simply wants to find a love similar to his brother. He's a very simple man and so innocent, so it is easy to care for his character the same way the people in his town do. Overall, I thought this was a cute and entertaining film that has a good balance of comedy and drama. It does a successful job of involving your emotions with the characters, but not overly forcing them out to consciousness.

American Grindhouse (2010, USA) | Rating: 3.5/5

I don't want to make it a habit of reviewing documentaries, but if I come across some that are worth mentioning then I will. This is one I want to mention as I am a film graduate and don't really know much about the grindhouse genre aside from Death Race and Planet Terror. If you want to know more about the genre, this is a good documentary that delves into the history, influences, subgenres, and related genres while still being entertaining. After watching it, I felt more comfortable in identifying and perhaps casually speaking about grindhouse films. Even more interesting for me are the close ties it has to the "controversial" journey that the horror genre has undergone over the years.

Think Like a Man Too (2014, USA) | Rating: 2.5/5

It's still a little surprising that a self help book received a movie in the first place, but it's even more surprising that a sequel was green lit. If you haven't read my quick review for the first movie, you're probably thinking that I didn't like it, but I did find it surprisingly entertaining. The sequel does lack a little of the charm and quality of entertainment as the first one, but it is tolerable. There's extra screen time with Kevin Hart and his over the top antics that can either seem embarrassing or somewhat funny. In the end, producing a sequel seemed completely unnecessary, but overall pretty harmless.

Super 8 (2011, USA) | Rating: 4/5

When this movie came out, my mother urged me to check it out as it had to deal with filmmaking, but I wasn't really interested. A little interest sparked when my workplace received the DVD for its collection and I found it fairly interesting. It does give some insight into the filmmaking process while fusing it together with sci-fi elements. I thought the child actors did a fantastic job and the pacing and tension build up were well thought out, but that's not surprising with such an acclaimed director as J.J. Abrams. Throughout the movie, I didn't know what to expect and the movie hardly gave any hint of predictability. Whether you're interested in filmmaking, enjoy sci-fi, or simply like J.J. Abrams' film, I would recommend you give this one a try.

The Angriest Man in Brooklyn (2014, USA) | Rating: 2.5/5

I've never heard about this movie until post-mortem Robin Williams and commercials for the DVD were running. I did read about some wise words passed down by Williams to Mila Kunis while they worked together. The premise didn't seem like anything new as there have been a handful of movies about someone dying in a short amount of time and trying to undo their bad behavior. Despite the unoriginal plot, I still wanted to check out because...Robin Williams. *shrugs* I must say, this movie wasn't anything special. It was a little odd seeing Robin Williams so angry and foul mouth, but that's what the character called for. The string of events that Kunis and Peter Dinklage face to get in contact with Williams' character is kinda...silly. It's not a terrible film, but if you skip out on it during your Robin Williams marathon, you're not missing out on anything.

If there's something you want me to review (or want a more in depth review of the movies above or previous ones), check out this post on how you can submit requests.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Quick Movie Review

The Boxtrolls (2014, USA) | Rating: 3.5/5

It's always refreshing to see a kids film that utilizes stop animation. I have a great appreciation for all the people who put effort into such a tedious form of animation too. This was a cute little movie for an older set of kids and perhaps even adults who enjoy movies like ParaNorman and Coraline. The tone is very similar of having this dark, slightly mature atmosphere and style. Much like those movies I mentioned, I'm not sure if younger kids would receive this movie well, hence my suggestion of older kids to adults, as some themes and characters may seem a bit disturbing. It's a very simple story and puts into perspective that family does not have to be your conventional mom, dad, and child(ren). There are all sorts of different types of families out there and just because they're not your typical structure does not affect the kid negatively. It's all about the love you give.

Alice Sweet Alice (1976, USA) | Rating: 3/5

I believe my interest for this movie came from a YouTube list of scary movies or scary moments in horror movies. I try my best to check out horror movies from the past, especially if they made an impact on cinema or the horror genre. While watching this movie, I couldn't help but think of other bad little kid movies like Children of the Corn, Bad Seed, The Good Son, and so on, but this movie takes a creative spin on the bad kid concept. In some ways, you kinda want to sympathize with Alice as her aunt always gives her a hard time and her sister receives a lot of favoritism over her. So, in a way, you understand her motive. The crazy thing is that the whole time you believe one thing, but it's really something else and when it gets to the end, you have no idea what to believe of the whole situation. The story is pretty entertaining and keeps you thinking, despite the overacting. So, check it out if you appreciate older horror movies.

Suicide Room (2011, Poland) | Rating: 4/5

This movie was recommended to me by a friend and I did have it have saved to watch later on YouTube. Ah, copyright... Anyway, I received the DVD at work and I was excited to see what was in store for me as I watch it. Little did I know that there was no English audio option for watching the video, so subtitles ahoy! I have no problem with that obviously, I'm quite used to it, but it was interesting hearing people speak Polish. So, the movie, I thought it was very interesting and nothing close to anything I would have imagined. I wasn't sure whether the title would coincide with the actual content, but it does, so I will definitely say this movie isn't for everyone. It may be triggering to some people as it deals with bullying, sexual identity, self harm, and, the obvious, suicide. The movie and subject matter are handled very well, despite some IMDb commenters accusing the main character of being a selfish brat. I can somewhat see that little trait, but it is not very prominent and he does deal with issues any person his age would deal with. Nonetheless, the movie provides its viewers sympathy toward our protagonist and that is very important in a matter such as this.

Jawbreaker (1999, USA) | Rating: 2.5/5

Reading the information on Wikipedia, I have learned that this is indeed inspired by Heathers, which is a movie I would recommend to those who love Mean Girls. As similar as this movie is to Heathers, it didn't leave that great of a taste in many people's mouths as it didn't succeed in box offices. I thought the movie was alright, but nothing as satisfying or repeatable as its inspiration or Mean Girls. It's not terrible or unwatchable, but it lacks something that the other two movies have which is lasting personality. The blame lies within the flimsy, try too hard script. I can say that the actors tried their best to accommodate.

Eden Lake (2008, UK) | Rating: 2.5/5

I've seen this movie on a few horror movie sites and Tumblrs that recommend this movie. I've also seen it on a couple DVD previews as well. Nonetheless, I was intrigued by it one way or another. There were a couple moments I thought of Wolf a good way as there were tiny positives in that horrid movie. I've seen plenty of facepalm worthy trip movies and they all have tropes. The biggest factor is the ultimate threat. Could be disease, a curse, cannibals, a group of people, whatever. I wasn't completely impressed with this movie, but it definitely was the best thing I've seen in this category of people or couples going on trips and being threatened by who knows what. Although, it did present some frustration, both good and bad, and it had to deal with said threat. While the enemy does successfully give the viewer enough fuel to want to watch them burn, the resolution leaves a terrible burnt taste in your mouth. It's sad to say that they should've taken a page from Hostel and give a little victory for the protagonist and viewers.

If there's something you want me to review (or want a more in depth review of the movies above or previous ones), check out this post on how you can submit requests.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Top 5 Recommended Music Videos

"How Do I Look?" by Beenzino
I like Beenzino. He's probably not in the top of my favorite Korean rappers list, but I think he's alright. So, I heard this song through a friend's KCON 2014 video and thought it was pretty smooth. I guess this was a supplementary or promotional song for Korea's Next Top Model: Guys & Girls. For some reason, I find it amusing they're following this silly decision from the American version. Anyway, it has a very simplistic beat with Beenzino casually rapping over it while he somewhat interacts with the models and scenery. I'm not sure if these people are actual contestants or just there for this video, but I like the bold choices of having them interact with each other both playfully and flirtatious no matter the gender, then letting Beenzino somewhat react to it. It's pretty simple track to nod along to and the video is kinda amusing.

"Can You Hear Me?" by Lucky J
Honestly, I thought that Lucky J was some male duo featuring Ailee, but upon closer look (and some research) that that is not the case. Similar to hip-hop trios CLOVER and MFBTY, we have two males and a female in a group delivering some flaw free music to break up the monotony of kpop. This is a beautiful balance of beauty and sorrow. Between Jessi and J-Yo's vocals, they present a great deal of tone and emotion to emphasis the message and dreary setting of the video and song. It's very impressive and definitely draws me in to listen more. J'Kyun's portions don't take away from that at all. It just adds a little more spice to a song that could seem like any other song of its kind. I like the simple environment of the group is in with a few special effects and more dependence on lighting and subtle dramatic acting with the singers. I look forward to hearing more from Lucky J in the future and hope they don't fade away any time soon.

For some reason "GUNSHOTS" cannot be viewed in our country, although it is a pretty awesome PV. Perhaps I'll add it to the list later when I find an available version of it. Nonetheless, this music video is just as pleasing as "GUNSHOTS". A somewhat similar concept to Acid Black Cherry's dual badass and dorky personas, we have this video of the innocent, dorky newcomers SiM and the already established, dark badass SiM interacting and competing with each other. It's amusing and pretty entertaining. It fits the lyrics and stays with their established style of playful badassness, but somewhat laid back style of rock that can also make you move on your feet and flat out headbang to the roar of MAH. Really looking forward to listening to their new mini album!

"You Lie" by coldrain
Similar to SiM, I'm always pumped to hear and see new things from coldrain and hope that they come to America in the near future. It's surprising the approach they went with this video. It goes between a story with some western actors having a conflict among each other and the band performing the song to us. The story is interesting and is emphasized by the powerful music and shouts from Masato. The bass really hits the ear, the guitar keeps the pace going with some added emotion, and the drums are quick and complement the basslines. I'm greatly looking forward to their follow up from their last album, The Revelation.

"Alive" by The Dirty Youth
Hearing the news of some of my little known female fronted bands touring in my area has me extra pumped to see a couple of them updating their Facebook pages with new material, this is one of them, although they're not touring anywhere near me. It's a simple band centric video some creative uses for camera movements: pans, zooms, a bit of shakiness, and rocky motions. The song and Danni's delivery of the lyrics help keep the video from being too boring. This is a little different from their first album, but a great growth in an exciting potential direction to come in their new releases.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Throwback Thursday Review: The Truman Show (1998)

Starring: Jim Carrey, Ed Harris, Laura Linney
Directed by: Peter Weir
Language: English
Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 103 minutes

I've been contemplating doing a Throwback Thursday here on Muddy Cult and hopefully this idea works out well. For the Throwback Thursdays, which will not be every Thursday, I will be reaching back into my childhood, review some things I enjoy, and compare the past with the present. First, I'm going to start with a less talked about Jim Carrey gem, The Truman Show.

Truman Burbank is an insurance salesman and adjuster, who lives with his wife in suburbia. His whole life feels like the perfect, ideal old fashion dream that you might see in classic American shows like Leave It to Beaver. Strangely, Truman's life is a television show, but he doesn't know until something seems slightly off to him. Upon finding out, Truman attempts to find the truth and explore outside the world that was created for him.

Little fact about myself, Jim Carrey is one of my favorite comedic actors and there's a very good chance that you'll see my admiration for him in these segments, so I won't go into the back history of how that started. Focusing on the movie, back then and even now, I thought this was a very unique concept. A higher being playing God on someone's life. Of course, there are other movies that execute this concept just as well such as Adaptation. and Stranger Than Fiction. In this movie, Carrey's character Truman has some range for him to play with and show off to audiences who only view him as a comedic actor. Naturally, he's a hilarious guy, but when the script calls for him to delve into dramatic moments of sadness, he nails it like a pro.

There's not much more to say about Carrey's great performance, but the supporting cast deserves credit as well. I always thought the hardest thing to act is playing an actor who is playing a part. It's like actor inception or something. Majority of the cast are simply characters filling in roles of Truman's life like his best friend, wife, parents, and co-workers. Much like television shows, actors whose characters are eliminated can be brought back as other characters. For these actors, I believe they did a fabulous job executing actor inception! Going along with actors playing actors who are playing characters, Truman's first love also does a great job of breaking that imaginary veil of the show and expressing her emotions toward Truman. Lastly, the people of the control room that have set up this life for Truman display a nice variety of personalities about the whole situation. Since they've been doing this before Truman left the womb, they're very used to how the routine goes. Depending on the situation, they can be laid back, proud, and to an extent egotistical about their accomplishment on the show. The most important thing to them is producing an entertaining show that touches people's hearts and you get a few glimpses of that to remind you that this isn't real life, this is a manipulated environment that Truman has been experiencing his whole life.

It's obvious I really enjoy this movie and I just wanted to share this little Jim Carrey gem with you guys. As a film graduate, I think people who are interested in broadcast should check this one out as it shows a bit of the ins and outs of television production. Most think it's very simple to put something like this together, but there is a lot of work involved and people to manage. It's even harder when the show is running 24 hours and commercial free. You have to be dedicated and creative, especially if something doesn't go the direction you had in mind. In short, this is a very entertaining, funny, and warm hearted movie that I think anyone can enjoy.

Rating: 4.5/5

If there's something you want me to review, check out this post on how you can submit requests.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Quick Movie Review

Under the Skin (2014, UK) | Rating: 2/5

Seeing people check out and request this movie, I became interested in what everyone was looking forward to (for lack of a better word). I had no idea what it was about, but I noticed that Scarlett Johansson has been rather busy these past couple of years with The Avengers, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Her, and Lucy (not sure if there's anymore than that). Anyway, I've only heard the name and not much else about it, but it's aliens. No, that isn't a joke either. The movie is odd and, while critics will praise it and those who enjoy high brow cinema will rave on the artistic vision of this film, I'm sure casual moviegoers would think it's boring, confusing, or pretentious. While I'm open minded about artistic odd things, this is definitely something that went over my head. I will give the movie credit for having an intriguing premise and unique visuals, but the low audio, minimal dialogue, and subtle/slow development and pacing made my mind drift in and out. So, I would only recommend this to those interested in artsy films.

We Are What We Are (2013, USA) | Rating: 1.5/5

Apparently, this is a remake of a Mexican film of the same name. I have not seen it and I'm not sure if I will. In short, this movie was rather boring. The pacing is pretty slow and you have to really, really pay attention to the dialogue. Even when you do pay attention to said dialogue, it's nothing special just like most of the movie, which is a shame as the premise sounds really interesting (religion/rituals and cannibalism). The only part that caught my interest was the climax/resolution. It was pretty predictable, but seeing it was somewhat satisfying for a boring movie. Unfortunately, the climax is not worth waiting through the slow pacing and poor execution.

All the Boys Love Mandy Lane (2006, USA) | Rating: 3/5

I believe a friend watched this movie and it sounded pretty interesting, which it was. It does seem like a typical "last girl standing" type of movie, but it utilizes deception well and also borrows styling from the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre. This movie has the formula of your typical teens in abandon area vacation horror, but the twists make it somewhat different. Unfortunately, when the killer is revealed, the whole motivation seems, for a lack of a better word, silly. The characters are at least somewhat likeable or have a trait that makes you feel something if their purpose is to be unlikeable. Mandy Lane is kinda...basic. A lot of commenters on IDMb don't understand her appeal, but my theory is her innocence (read as virginity). The stereotype of "horny" guys preying on the newly blossomed woman who has not been touched (read as tainted). Nonetheless, the movie is pretty decent for what it is.

I Am Divine (2013, USA) | Rating: 4.5/5

I've briefly mentioned that I watch and enjoy shows like RuPaul's Drag Race and find drag queen culture fascinating. I have heard of Divine, but I have yet to watch too much of her movies aside from Hairspray (which is spectacular). The documentary catalogues the life of Divine, the persona and the man behind the make-up. If you're interested in Divine or drag culture, I would highly recommend this documentary. Not only does it document the life of Divine, but it offers a brief history of films similar to the ones Divine starred in and how it revolutionized cinema.

Magic Magic (2013, USA) | Rating: 2.5/5

I saw this movie in a preview of another not so well known film and coincidentally it had Emily Browning (and sadly, Michael Cera) in it. She has a small role though and Cera has a bigger part, which made me roll my eyes and groan. I really dislike him. From what I've seen he plays really obnoxious asshole-ish characters. The premise is somewhat simple, but vague at the same time. While watching, I was waiting for something crazy to happen, perhaps the typical "her friends are not what they seem" kind of thing (a.k.a some sort of violent/harassment act). While Cera does harass our main character, the other people are rather nice to her and try to make her as comfortable as possible while her cousin is away. Apparently, there's some twists and most of them are not that effective due to poor execution. Then there's the resolution which can be a little confusing...or just outright confusing. The movie is...okay.

If there's something you want me to review (or want a more in depth review of the movies above or previous ones), check out this post on how you can submit requests.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Top 5 Recommended Music Videos

"H.E.R" by Block B
It's proving that Block B's label move has been a very positive one. They just seem! This video is proof. I always thought this group was pretty lovable. They can naturally switch between bad boys to completely cutie goofballs. This song and video is the definition of fun. It also provides the statement that there isn't just one standard of beauty, which the group has stated in interviews. They just care about her and getting close to her and appreciating her. If this video and song doesn't make you feel good and put a smile on your face, there's something seriously wrong with you. There's so many good feelings coursing through this music video. The upbeat, funky sounds paired with the slightly saturated vibrant colors and silly presentations of alter egos, styling, cartoony effects, and random set pieces instantly bring happiness and a visual treat for the eyes.

"Dress Up" by Boys Republic
Another music video appreciating all types of ladies out there, no matter what style you wanna rock. I think this group doesn't receive enough appreciation in the scene. I think they're very talented and easy to enjoy. So far, everything I've heard I've liked and wanted even more from them. Seeing this video made me happy. Looking at the title of the song, I was a little worried of the potential message the lyrics could be sending, then I read them and it made me proud to be supporting them. Sure, this video could easily fall in the cutesy pastel videos of boy aegyo, but it's not sickeningly forced in your face, plus it has some contrast in the bold electric colors of the club scene. Another feel good music video to make you smile!

"Blossom Tears" by Leo (VIXX) & LYn
Normally, I would avoid these individual songs with a female partner because they're usually typical drama OST ballads that bore me to death, but since it's Leo and I love VIXX, I gave it a try. I regret nothing. Leo's vocals are probably the strongest in the group, which are really showcased in this duet with LYn. His voice and talent reminds me of Big Bang's Daesung. Paired with LYn, their voices go together very well. While the music has elements of those typical drama OSTs, it has a strong string, bass, and drum section that makes it pop more, but at the same time doesn't drown out their voices. The video is pretty interesting as well. I like story MVs and Leo delivers some impressive acting to emphasis the lyrics of the song. Bust out the tissues and enjoy this 4 minute drama with not so typical drama music.

"Body Language" by San E feat. Bumkey
[19+ Warning]
Every time San E releases something, I immediately get hyped, because it's always something fresh and entertaining. I think another video that promised to be 19+ was released around this time this video came out, but didn't quite deliver that rating. This video does. There is so much sexual innuendo, but that's not surprising when it comes to San E and the genre he's in. The visuals aren't in your face or obnoxiously sexual. It maintains that balance of San E's personality of confidence, sensual, pervy, and playful. So, you get some nice eye candy and good laughs. Also the music matches that same tone with the help of the fabulously talented Bumkey. San E made a good decision of abandoning JYP to break out into his own thing, because I don't think he could've released something this risqué.

"My Copycat" by ORANGE CARAMEL
Not that big of a fan of ORANGE CARAMEL. They're too cutesy for my taste, but I will admit that I thought "Catallena" presented a very fun and creative concept that I can't see any other girl group giving Korea. This song is very jazz funk with some great saxophone melody and a catchy pop tune to entice you to start dancing along with the girls. The visuals are, like "Catallena", very fun and creative. It brings back childhood memories of playing those spot the differences in magazines and newspapers as well as a bit of "Where's Waldo?" or "I Spy". As random as everything looks, it somehow makes sense with this concept and upbeat music that simply loops over and over again. Also thought their "sexy" shirts were very clever, especially with the plight of restricting sexy concepts for girl groups.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Quick Movie Review

Plush (2013, USA) | Rating: 3.5/5

I like Emily Browning. I think she's a beautiful and talented young lady. I think she's grown up very well in a biological and skill sense, but I won't spend this short review on how impressed I am with her development with each movie I've seen her in; I will simply say that I wish I could see her in more things without oversaturation. I believe I saw a small gif set from this movie on Tumblr or something, I'm not completely sure. First of all, reading the summary or watching the trailer makes you think one thing is happening, but in reality it's something else which is a good thing in this case because the movie plays off misleading the situation. You want to think it's one thing, but there's something more complex and perhaps unexpected. I was happy to see Xavier Samuel in another movie and was amused by the role he was playing since the first saw him in The Loved Ones. He looks very attractive too. For such a simple premise, I enjoyed the twists and turns it took throughout the movie, although part of the reveal was unintentionally funny to me. Browning's character isn't played as ridiculously weak in this thriller which makes it all the more enjoyable.

13 Sins (2014, USA) | Rating: 3/5

If you haven't noticed from my recent movie reviews and my up-to-date list of movies I've watched this year, I've been watching a lot of little known movies lately. With those little known movies are intriguing previews and this movie was one of them. When I was looking up the synopsis for this one, I noticed from IMDb commenters that this is remake of the Thai movie 13: Game of Death, which I'm planning on watching in the near future and perhaps compare the two. Basing it off the trailer, there's already a good amount of similarities. Anyway, while watching this movie I had a tiny sense of Saw and Would You Rather? as Elliot faced each challenge throughout the movie. It's an unusual movie with an ending that may or may not be satisfying to its viewers. Also while watching, it was kinda fun thinking of alternative ways of how to execute each task or simply deciding not to go through this game at all. I thought the movie was decent and entertaining, although I think Ron Perlman and Rutina Wesley were a bit underutilized.

The Bleeding House (2011, USA) | Rating: 3/5

This movie was recommended by a friend and going into it I didn't know much about it. I did read the synopsis on the back of the case and it seemed almost like a home invasion movie or just one of those mysterious guest type things. Just the summary alone makes it almost seem like it's not a horror movie since the mystery guest's description doesn't sound all that suspicious nor his intentions. Of course, when you watch the movie, it's a whole different story. This isn't your conventional "stranger in our home" movie, there's more to it, but you don't find out the juicy details until the family is in peril. This is a slow building thriller with some subtle, but interesting characters. From time to time, I would try to guess what's going to happen next, but in the end the movie delivers something else. If you want a twist on a concept that has been done before, I recommend you give this one a try.

Afflicted (2013, Canada) | Rating: 2.5/5

Looking at this box cover art, I initially didn't want to see this movie. On first judgment, I had flashbacks of movies likes Hostel, Turistas, and other bad overseas travel horror movies, but a good friend recommended it to me. So, I reluctantly gave in for her and it was everything I didn't expect. Very much the opposite of what those other movies offer. Yes, they are traveling abroad and look for women, but for a different purpose. Yes, it could fall into the annoying first person/found footage movies. It could borderline be an infection movie, but all these elements are utilized differently compared to its predecessors. Despite the dialogue being silly or annoying and a couple scenes being dragged out longer than needed, this movie was pretty decent. I think it falls more on the lines of Chronicle with its content and shooting style with a horror twist.

Stage Fright (2014, Canada) | Rating: 3.5/5

I kinda expected this movie to be a bad cheesy, but it was actually decently entertaining. The cover calls it Sleepaway Camp meets Glee, but I mostly thought of Repo! The Genetic Opera. Obviously, this is a horror musical that pays homage and lovingly mocks well known and respected horror movies such as The Phantom of the Opera and Carrie. There isn't much depth to the content and characters, but I believe it's supposed to be taken simply or lightly with its silliness and musical moments.

If there's something you want me to review (or want a more in depth review of the movies above or previous ones), check out this post on how you can submit requests.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Top 5 Recommended Music Videos

"Psycho" by HISTORY
HISTORY is a group I tried so hard to like, but every video they released was kinda the same. They blended way too much into the scene, but I'm happy my mind is still open to give them chance after chance to prove themselves. Obviously, this video meets my approval. Even though I could still gripe about the melody still feeling a bit awkward in places and the whole style doesn't stand out from the others, something about it has some unique points here and there. As I shortly mentioned, the melody sounds a little odd in places, but I really like the transition from the verse to the bridge and even a little to the chorus. Something about taking away musical elements and letting their vocals shine and letting them lead their own trail. Their outfits are pretty goofy and I've seen it before, but the choreography and story is interesting, especially the execution of using special effects and playing with set pieces. I still want a little more from this group, because I find it really strange how much I want this group to be good yet have little interest in them at the same time.

"One More" by Fiestar
I honestly have no feelings for this group and I mostly became intrigued by this song and video because of one of my subscriptions. Despite me being sick of these high waisted, form fitting outfits trying to feed into this "sexy" concept all these girl groups are doing, they mix it up with some playfulness and a variation of outfits that give them personality and unity. The way the video is shot reminds me of SNSD's "Mr. Mr." by using different types of framing and odd settings for the girls to look pretty in. The music is pretty catchy too with its smooth bass, upbeat melody, and a touch of funky horns. In short, this is an artistically eye catching video with beautiful women modeling in between shots. I don't think I'll ever be a fan of Fiestar, but I am a fan of this song and it's hard to resist singing along to the repetitive chorus.

"Saturday Night" by G.O.D
I actually like this group and I like Kim Tae-Woo's solo material too. I don't really listen to them that much, so I can't really say I'm a fan of theirs, but I admire their soulful and diverse vocals as well as acknowledge their contribution to the kpop genre. I was surprised to a see a new video from them and I'm kinda hoping maybe one day H.O.T follows their footsteps and surprise their fans with something new. This is purely a fun video and song. It plays off their ages and what men do, lie about their lives to make up for their mundane routines. It really fits their image and their ages while still being a fun video and song. It doesn't try to make them like the current rookies and has a clear demographic to their fans who know who they are, but at the same time is entertaining enough for younger kpop fans...kinda like PSY's "Gangnam Style".

"Good Bye Bye" by NU'EST
My feelings for toward this group haven't really changed much, but they are still gradually growing with each release. This latest video surprised me a lot. Ren isn't a girl anymore! I'm glad to see them breaking out of their bishounen versions of B1A4 and SHINee and claiming their own identity. The song and visuals are more mature like "HELLO", but appeals more to my taste. The vocals and harmonization are gorgeous and match the heavy, melancholy tone of the melody and visuals. The visuals are not overdramatic and have a nice bold color tone with simple settings and storytelling to suit the lyrics. I like the mixture of techniques of light, slow motion, fastforwarding, and lots of dramatic motions with the body as well as interesting transitions such as opening a door to another scene. Lastly, the main point this video caught my attention completely was the song. I like the transitions from a slight emptiness with a lonely piano to a more energized pain, although I could've lived without the dubstep breakdown. I really hope that NU'EST keeps going in this direction and follow the same path as VIXX.

"Back" by Infinite
I really like Infinite...a lot, but lately their music hasn't stood out too much or met my expectations for them. This has made me sad and ToHeart didn't do anything for me either. When this video came out, I was back to being happy...not completely, but happy enough. Similar to NU'EST's "Good Bye Bye", I love the use of piano in this song and the transition from the beautiful gentleness to the strong determined spirit. The action and acting match this transition very well. The story is simple and I've seen it before with Block B and B.A.P, but whatever. Of course, the choreography's on point and I like the individual spotlight on each member. The boys look very mature in this, even though they're bloodied up and injured during this video. It gives me close to similar feelings I had with "BTD (Before the Dawn)" and "The Chaser", taking their softer and energetic sounds together in one beautiful symphony. Although, I wish they didn't get that SM influence of unnecessary sound effects popping in and out of the music. It's totally not necessary.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Review: Contracted

Starring: Najarra Townsend, Caroline Williams, Alice Macdonald
Directed by: Eric England
Language: English
Rating: Not Rated
Running Time: 78 minutes

I believe I saw this movie in a DVD's previews and it looked pretty interesting, even reading it sounded intriguing. So, when my job needed to order some movies, I requested it to be purchased and I was actually looking forward to watching it. After viewing, I deeply contemplated whether I wanted to express my feelings in a brief paragraph or elaborate in a special individual review. Well, you're reading the obvious choice here.

Samantha is struggling to get over her ex-girlfriend Nikki and their break-up, so she attends a party held by her best friend Alice. Alice sees that Samantha is still upset over the situation and convinces her to loosen up by drinking alcohol. During the party, a couple of her peers approach her, one that has an unrequited crush on her and the other simply wants to flirt with her. As the party continues, she is persuaded to have sex with a mysterious guy named BJ and he ends up raping her, once she changes her mind. Not remembering much of the party or the person she was with, Samantha attempts to recollect her memories, especially when she begins experiencing a strange disease taking over her body.

Where to begin with this review...I suppose the positives seem like the best start, right? Honestly, there aren't many. Without expressing any emotion toward this movie, I can simply say that this movie had some really great ideas, therefore there's plenty of potential for it to be a good movie. Of course, it isn't, which I'll get to in a moment. The whole premise of this mysterious BJ guy that's running around and the police are looking for him provides some intriguing action. If you watch the film, which is quite unfortunate for you the viewer, you would understand why he is wanted. I'm honestly tempted to spoil it. Samantha's situation with Nikki is also interesting. It's pretty typical, but what's left of their relationship and chances of repair also connects to the possibility of Samantha being confused about her sexuality. Then there's the disease that she has contracted. The obvious choice is some sort of STD, but it ends up being something more severe and unusual. All of these points offer great potential for a good, or at least decent, movie. Also, it has a bit of a gross factor to it, which is rare for me.

Unfortunately, all this potential is wasted with awkward acting, bad dialogue, unbelievable reactions, and major plot holes. I bet you can imagine the headache I went through with this movie, especially since I had some real expectations of it being good. I suppose we can start off somewhat simply with the story/plot. The whole premise of the movie surrounds Samantha struggling with the disease she contracted and her relationships with the people around her. The mysterious BJ guy and the police hunt for him was completely dropped somewhere in the middle and the beginnings of the end. He is mentioned from time to time, but is instantly forgotten. It also seems like the movie wants to convey that Samantha had a troubled past and strained relationship with her mother. The movie quickly glosses over that Samantha used to have a drug problem and that her mother disapproves of her lesbian lifestyle. The only hints of this butting of heads is through poor dialogue when the mother picks apart her appearance when the symptoms of her disease are more visible. Other tiny plot points are also poorly executed such as Samantha and Nikki's relationship status, because they seem to be on good terms in one scene and then the other Nikki wants nothing to do with her. Then there's the unrequited crush on Samantha, her inconsistent job performance, and her friendship with Alice is clumsy as well.

Next is the awkward acting and unbelievable reactions which go hand and hand. The reality (or non-reality) stands out the most when Samantha begins to notice that something isn't physically right. Sure, she is reacting the usual way of trying to remember what happened after the party, but her reactions to everything else that's going on is very underwhelming. The characters that interact with her also under-react to her symptoms as well like having your hair fall out, your iris lose color, and your skin strangely peeling is just a normal thing. Her body loses an abnormal amount of blood as well and all that blood loss would've caused her to die or at least cause her to pass out for a long period of time, if I'm guessing correctly. She vomits blood and ends up sleeping in a puddle of it coming from below her waist, yet she chocks it up with menstrual related symptoms. Of course, her mother doesn't help as she jumps to the ridiculous accusation that Samantha has been doing drugs. Hello, people! Samantha needs a doctor. To add to the scenes where Samantha's mother is accusing her of using is the awkward confrontation when a doctor/psychiatrist is involved. Lastly is Samantha's boss's reaction when she's borderline at her worst stage of the disease. There's chunks of hair missing, one of her eyes has lost color in them, her skin is pale, around her mouth looks like some sort of infection, and her nails are peeling off with blood underneath. She comes in late, even though she needs to see a doctor, and she's preparing a salad for a couple of customers without a hair net or gloves. When her boss sees her working on the salad, he doesn't get angry her for coming in sick or working on someone's food without protection, he gets mad at her for showing up late! She looks like the walking bubonic plague for Christ's sake! Even when he asks her about her eye, she says she has pink eye, which clearly doesn't look like that, and yet he still wants her to work until a replacement can come in. Doesn't help that the customers still eat said salad, despite the judgmental look they give her when she comes to their table. Ugh! I would never eat at that restaurant with such a poor health code. There's other idiotic reactions as well that has to deal with some intimate moments such as kissing and sex. *shudders* Aside from that, the recipients of these intimate moments seem to change their tune about her too quickly as well. Instead of going into detail about the bad dialogue, just assume that it goes along with the unbelievable reactions and awkward acting. Lastly, the interchangeable set of words used to described Samantha's decision at the party between "one night stand" and "rape" should not exist and I blame that on whoever put together the synopsis.

If it isn't obvious, I really hate this movie. It's been a long while since a movie has infuriated me so much. Having actual good expectations for this movie doesn't help matters either. The pacing, plot, acting, dialogue, and conclusion leave a bad taste in my mouth and traumatizing mental effects. It also saddens me a bit on how terrible this movie is as it has so much potential of being something different and even provide a bit of social commentary. I highly highly discourage anyone from seeing this atrocious film.

Rating: 1/5

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Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Quick Movie Review: Wes Anderson Edition

The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014, USA) | Rating: 4/5

This movie is responsible for this special director exclusive post. I have seen one other Wes Anderson film, Fantastic Mr. Fox, which I surprisingly enjoyed. I saw this movie get checked out a lot and I heard some good things about it, so I got curious, especially since a new friend of mine loves Wes Anderson. I didn't completely know what this movie was about and I had to read the synopsis a couple of times as a reminder. Anyway, I was very impressed with this movie. Jumping ahead, Anderson has a very distinct style and it's very interesting: a certain color, ambiguous time period, reoccurring actors, quirky stories and romances. This movie has good pacing. Sometimes it might seem like the story is dragging, but Anderson puts a lot of care into his characters and their development through their unique journeys. The comedy is refreshing and I enjoy the chemistry and bits of chaos this movie offers.

Bottle Rocket (1996, USA) | Rating: 3/5

The first full length picture by Mr. Anderson and it wasn't that bad. It stars brothers Owen and Luke Wilson in this bizarre heist and unexpected romance. Both brothers, who are friends in this movie, were very...dumb, which made it both entertaining, amusing, and a bit annoying. Hearing such a ridiculous plan with somewhat reasonable goals, then watching the execution of said plan made me facepalm and laugh at the same time. I will say that this was probably my least favorite of Anderson's films so far, but I still found it enjoyable because of its characters and their lack of intelligence.

The Darjeeling Limited (2007, USA) | Rating: 3.5/5

I noticed after watching this movie and Bottle Rocket that Owen Wilson plays some pretty stupid characters. At times his character can be quite funny because of this and other times it's a bit annoying what little intelligence he possesses. This movie seems a little more reflective for both the audience and the movie's characters. Compared to all the movies in this post, it seemed like this one intentionally wanted to tug a little at your emotions at a certain point in the movie, while you do feel like a voyeur as these three brothers bicker and talk behind each other's backs. The journey that they take is pretty entertaining and you're wondering if they'll ever get along or find some sort of common ground. In the end, I think the movie portrays the dream or hopeful conclusion people have with their dysfunctional families as well as weave in a cultural appreciation from an outsider point of view, but I will admit that a couple elements were a bit unnecessary for the progression of this film. Also, the prologue Hotel Chevalier was interesting and helps you understand one of the brothers' stories.

The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (2004, USA) | Rating: 3/5

As of now, this is the last Wes Anderson film I've seen and it was...interesting. I didn't quite get into as much as the others, but still found it enjoyable. I suppose in a ranking system it would join the bottom of the list with Bottle Rocket. I also want to note that I think this movie is competing for the most bizarre of his filmography with Moonrise Kingdom. There's a bit of sadness to this story with Bill Murray playing the movie's protagonist. He seems delusional and emotionally incomplete in places. His journey and struggles seem a bit complicated to explain, but they are reasonable and easy to understand when watching it.

Moonrise Kingdom (2012, USA) | Rating: 4.5/5

Despite watching a very infuriating movie at the beginning of a mini marathon, this movie was very good as well. I probably would put it in the higher ranks of The Grand Budapest Hotel and Fantastic Mr. Fox. At first, I thought the premise was going to be really silly. Reading does sound like that. A couple crazy kids [actual kids] are in love and run away from their parents and guardians. The lengths and events that occur during this escape are very much ridiculous in the most entertaining way. As crazy as things get for this young couple, I couldn't help but wonder "what's next?" and if the boy's troop and the girl's parents would ever get to them. It really is a test of their love and it's quite admirable.

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