Saturday, August 31, 2013


[back row: left to right] Narumi (guitar), Miho (bass), Haruna (drums), Mina (guitar/leader)
[front row] Marina (vocals) 

Members: Marina, Mina, Narumi, Miho, Haruna
Genre: Jmetal, jrock
Country: Japan
Years Active: 2005 -
Status: Active
Notable traits: All-girl metal band
Recommended Songs: Nostphilia; Heart's Grave; Romancer; Fenixx;

Formed in 2005 by Mina, DESTROSE went through quite a few lineup changes before finally stablizing. The band has since been going strong with lives and two releases. Their first single with the current lineup, Nostphilia, was released in November 2012. Their self-titled full length album was released in April 2013. The ladies had their American debut, appearing in the United States at Tokyo in Tulsa, in August 2013. They have announced a new single to be released in November 2013. The title has yet to be announced.

Metal isn't what you would expect from looking at DESTROSE. However, looks can be deceiving. These ladies are often compared to X Japan, but I don't agree with it. Their music is more along the lines of SHOW-YA and Galynerus. The comparison to Galynerus isn't far fetched at all. Vocalist Marina was a former student of Galynerus frontman, Masatoshi Ono. His influence is clearly evident in her vocals. Both guitarists, Mina and Narumi, graduated from the Musician's Institute of Japan. Perhaps, a bit of the structure they learned in those classes has helped the band achieve the sound they currently have.
Look no further in your search for a strong female metal band. DESTROSE has everything you're looking for. Give these girls a chance to blow you away. Their music should appeal to fans of SHOW-YA, Galynerus, Aldious and perhaps even exist†trace.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Review: Lee Daniels' The Butler

Starring: Forest Whitaker, Oprah Winfrey, David Oyelowo
Directed by: Lee Daniels
Language: English
Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 132 minutes

I think some may think it's strange for me to be reviewing this movie, but I genuinely wanted to see it. I caught it on opening day with my mom and I feel this movie needs a full review.

Cecil Gaines grew up on a cotton field in Macon, Georgia as a slave with his parents. One day, his mother is taken away to the shed by one of their masters and when he leaves, Cecil's father confronts him and is killed in front of Cecil. After losing his parents, he is moved into the house and trained as a house servant. As time goes on, Cecil runs away and attempts to survive the outside world, but his hunger gets the best of him. He breaks into a hotel for food, gets caught, and begs for a job. There he is trained to be a butler.

I had a feeling this movie was going to be a potential Oscar contender just judging by the subject matter and the all star cast. I came into the movie with an open mind and I am very satisfied by the results.

The story has a nice balance of drama and comedy. It is both entertaining and informative. It could even be viewed as inspiring. The length was to be expected, but I felt the story moved along at a fairly good pace that I wasn't frequently checking my watch. For inspired events, they were close to the truth. The acting was superb and made the movie enjoyable. Everyone was at about the same level and were committed to their characters. I was pleased at the consistent transition of make-up for the actors, because the aging process is easy to mess up. *coughs*Temptation*coughs* Lastly, I loved the way it was shot and edited. There were some good juxtaposition moments such as Cecil preparing for a state dinner while his son was protesting at a lunch counter. I also enjoyed the usage of real historic footage. They were appropriately used and didn't take away from the world the audience is experiencing. Also, I would like to add that even though I know my history to a good extent, it still felt surprising or emotionally provoking such as John F. Kennedy's assassination or the buss attack in Birmingham.

Only flaw I noticed was some camera choices. There might be an unnecessary pan or zoom in places or there would be a cut from one person to another that felt awkward. Also I don't know if it was a filter or a focus issue, but there were scenes where the picture quality didn't match.

Before I conclude this review, I want to address some comments I read. First, the movie is simply inspired by true events. This is not a documentary! Things are going to be fictionalized for entertainment sake. Looking at the comparisons, they stayed pretty close to Eugene Allen's life as well as historical events in America. That's more than I can say for movies like The Blind Side. Second, this movie isn't just about being a butler or the civil rights. It is a combination of the two and how those events affect and develop the characters. Third, get over the name change! Some directors just want to be the only movie with certain titles. It has nothing to do with Lee Daniels being pretentious, arrogant, or anything.

Lee Daniels' The Butler is far from perfection, but I did enjoy it a lot. I might have skimmed over other flaws, but I believe the positives make up for them. The audience was amazing and very vocal throughout the movie, in a good way similar to The Purge. I will say that this movie isn't for everyone and I won't be surprised if younger audiences find it boring or too slow, but offered something that I think I can fairly compare Forrest Gump gave audiences years ago.

Rating: 4.5/5

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

Monday, August 26, 2013

Promo: Magistina Saga

[from left to right] Iori (vocals), Kyo (bass) and Urugi (guitar)

Band: Magistina Saga
Members: Iori, Kyo, Urugi
Genre: Jrock
Country: Japan
Years Active: 2008 -
Status: Active
Notable traits: Female vocalist
Recommended Songs: Princess False; Persona; 追憶ノ音 (tsuioku no oto); 雪解けの記憶 (yukidoke no kioku); After artifice; End Room; Double Face

Magistina Saga formed in November 2008 under the name Guild. The band held quite a few lives throughout 2009 and released a single [Dark side of the Moon] as a live only release. More lives followed until mid-2010. Their name was changed to Magistina Saga in June of that year. The band continued activities under the new name with more lives. 2011 saw the release of their first mini album [ギルド]. A maxi single called [Each Prayer]followed in January of 2012. Magistina Saga was signed to Starwave Records in August 2012 with their second mini album [The tone of temptation] following in November. 2013 seems full of promise for the band with the release of their 3rd mini album, [Two-facedness of a tale], on August 7th.
It's usually hard for me to find bands with female vocalists that I actually enjoy. Too often in the rock world, those women are trying too hard to sound like their male counterparts. Magistina Saga is a breath of fresh air in that respect. Iori sounds very much like the woman she is. These aren't cutesy vocals or growling attempts to be masculine. Her soft, feminine vocals are complimented by the band's classically inspired gothic sound. It's in this combination that I was drawn to this trio of musicians. I'm looking forward to seeing more from them in the future.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Quick Movie Review

Side Effects (2013, USA) | Rating: 3/5

I heard this movie was good from a lot of people and, for once, it actually was. I didn't know what to expect from this movie, but surprisingly it easily kept my attention as things went on. There's nothing loud or vibrant about the movie, but something about the story kept me engaged. The movie leads you to believe that one thing will happen, then it completely changes directions and concludes with something you never would've suspected, which I like. One relationship in the movie felt a little awkward in one area, but it made things interesting and a little more darker. This was a good, light suspense movie with a tiny bit of psychological elements to it.

The Collector (2009, USA) | Rating: 2/5

What do you get when you combine the later Saw movies, Home Alone minus the comedy, and an awkward sex scene? You get this movie. I only watched this out of recommendation and boy did they miss the mark on my taste level. The characters were dumb, the kid was the smartest family member, and the premise was weakly executed. I did manage to cheer for the protagonist, but I know very little about him. The torture and traps obviously received the most time and effort. A couple scenes I enjoyed were when the protagonist and the kid teamed up against the mysterious killer and the ambulance accident. I don't think I'll be watching the sequel anytime soon.

Kick-Ass (2010, USA) | Rating: 3.5/5

Obviously, I'm late for the party, but I was really iffy about this one. I have not read the comic and something about it never really interested me, but I gave it a chance recently and surprise, surprise I did enjoy it. I'm not enthusiastically jumping out of my seat, but no flaws stood out too much. I enjoyed the various characters and the way the story progressed. It felt realistic and it was funny and dramatic when it needed to be. It also had a nice comic feel in it when it came to the drama and relationships, because honestly none of that stuff would happen in real life. After seeing this, I wouldn't mind checking out the follow up, especially with Mr. Carrey and Mr. Faison on board. Whether it'll be in theaters or on DVD, I'm not sure.

Good Deeds (2012, USA) | Rating: 3/5

When I first saw the trailers to this movie, it seemed like a vanilla, goodie goodie movie with no conflicts, but Tyler Perry proved me wrong. This did stray away from his usual stereotypes and his character had flaws. The support roles were kinda forgettable, mostly his wife and her friends. The drama wasn't over the top, although the resolution seemed too good to be true. There was a lack of consequence for Perry's character and the consequence for his brother was just too obvious for anyone to really care that he didn't get his way. I definitely enjoyed this more than Temptation: Confessions of a Marriage Counselor, but the conflict was pretty safe like most of his films.

Heathers (1989, USA) | Rating: 3.5/5

For fans of Mean Girls, I think they should definitely check out this movie, because I'm sure most of you are about the same age as myself. This is a more mature and extreme look to the hierarchy of high school popularity. I didn't expect so many similarities to Mean Girls, such as the roles each Heather fills and the main characters from the other movie. What happened during the movie kept it interesting and Mean Girls did take what could've been a loose remake in a different direction. Veronica had a little more control and she actually developed a relationship, unfortunately that turned into a direction I didn't expect it to go. Also, I love the ending. It's a cruel, but good resolution that doesn't sugarcoat the situation like other movies of its time or even present day. On the other hand, the adults, mostly the parents, are a bit flimsy, but don't take away from the enjoyment of the movie.

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.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Quick Drama Reviews

Title: Tumbling ( タンブリング)
Starring: Yamamoto Yusuke, Seto Koji, Miura Shohei, Daito Shunsuke, AKIRA, Nishijima Takahiro, Tomiura Satoshi
Genre: School, Sports
Synopsis: Bad boy Azuma Wataru has failed to meet the credits needed to pass his classes. The girl-crazy Azuma decides to join the male rhythmic gymnastics club after seeing a beautiful transfer student among the girls team.
Language: Japanese
Status: 11 episodes, COMPLETED (2010)
Rating: 3/5

Despite over the top and silly moments, Tumbling focuses on overcoming differences and uniting to accomplish a goal. Can the bad boys stop fighting long enough to learn gymnastics? Will the previous members of the team be able to accept the other boys? There is no real romance in this series. You won't have couples to root for. It focuses more on how the boys work together. Yamada Yusuke tends to overact at times. This is even more unavoidable in each instance where he threw down his bag and gave a speech. This happened quite often. However, the gymnastics scenes make up for the silliness. If you like pretty boys in spandex prancing around, give this one a chance.

Title: Grey's Anatomy
Starring: Ellen Pompeo, Sandra Oh, Chandra Wilson, Patrick Dempsey, Sara Ramirez and more...
Genre: Hospital, Romance
Synopsis: A drama centered on the personal and professional lives of five surgical interns and their supervisors.
Language: English
Status: 9 seasons, 10th season begins airing in September 2013 (2005- ?)
Rating: 3.5/5

Romance, drama and tragedy are the usual setup for Grey's Anatomy. The series follows Meredith and her fellow interns as they work, live and play. As with most romantic hospital dramas, the series can fall into a repeatative pattern. It's the interactions between the interns, their superiors and sometimes patients that make the series watchable. There were some characters that I didn't like, but they eventually grew on me. Sometimes, Meredith's voice can be very annoying though. Check out the earlier seasons if you're looking for a guilty pleasure.

Title: Supernatural
Starring: Jensen Ackles, Jared Padalecki, Misha Collins and more...
Genre: Fantasy, Horror
Synopsis: Two brothers follow their father's footsteps as hunters fighting evil supernatural beings of many kinds including monsters, demons, and gods that roam the earth.
Language: English
Status: 8 seasons, 9th season begins October 2013 (2005 - ?)
Rating: 4/5

Over eight seasons, Dean and Sam Winchester have been hunting demons, killing know, the family business. After the death of their mother when they were children, their father, John Winchester, began researching and hunting the things that go bump in the night. He trains both sons in the art of tracking and killing those monsters only to abandon them when he suddenly disappears. It's up to Dean and Sam to try to find him. From episode one, I was pretty much hooked on the show. Sure, there's some campy, cheesy moments, but otherwise the mythology is fairly solid. Fans of horror, fantasy and general supernatural things will enjoy this series. 

Title: Farscape
Starring: Ben Browder, Claudia Black, Anthony Simcoe, Lani John Tupu and more...
Genre: Fantasy, Adventure, Science Fiction
Synopsis: Thrown into a distant part of the universe, an Earth astronaut finds himself part of a fugitive alien starship crew.
Language: English
Status: 4 seasons, 1 movie, COMPLETED (1999 - 2004)
Rating: 5/5

This series had everything a great science fiction series needed. You had action, adventure, drama and chaos. John Crichton is an astronaut who finds himself sucked through a wormhole during a routine experimental flight into space. Crichton's character is a fish out of water, thrown into an alien world where he doesn't know anything. There are lots of themes explored in this series. These include acceptance, tolerance, war, finding where one belongs, love, racism and many others. Throughout it all, we're treated to pop culture references as Crichton attempts to relate to the strange worlds around him. There's even an episode that looks and sounds very much like Looney Tunes! Another is very much the setting of a 'save the princess' video game. The highlight of it all is the convincing  use of traditional and prosthetic makeup.The creatures are amazingly crafted and puppeted by the Jim Henson's Creature Shop.

Title: The Walking Dead
Starring: Andrew Lincoln, Norman Reedus, Steven Yeun, Danai Gurira and more...
Genre: Drama, Horror, Thriller
Synopsis: Police officer Rick Grimes leads a group of survivors in a world overrun by zombies.
Language: English
Status: 3 seasons, 4th season beginning in October 2013 (2010 - ?)
Rating: 4/5

On the surface, The Walking Dead is a series about the zombie apocalypse. Most would write the series off there and change the channel. Those people are missing out on something great. This is a series, although fundamentally different from its origin comic, about survival, life and rebuilding. The characters are what make this series so compelling. Their reactions aren't over the top. They're real human responses to the horrors that surround them. Every day is a struggle and the dead aren't the most dangerous things in the world. One of the show's highlights is the skill of the actors. The makeup effects are top notch as well. I'm looking forward to the new season when it begins in October. 

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Quick Anime Review

Devil Survivor 2: The Animation (2013) | Rating: 3/5

This is a first for me to follow a new series as it is being released. It has an interesting story that ties in current technology of phone apps and mixes it with demons. I believe this series is loosely based on a video game of the same name. Anyway, I found the story interesting, new, and somewhat familiar. I liked majority of the characters, especially Yamato, but some of them had their annoying moments, pretty much the main 3 characters. Fortunately, that did not stop me from watching. Although, the ending is a bit up in the air. Perhaps a second season is in the works.

Aiura (2013) | Rating: 4/5

This was a bit of an accidental find. I was finishing up a series and I saw the name somewhere. I was curious, so I clicked and learned it was a rather short series. You could pretty much finish the whole series in a day because each episode is 4 minutes long, that's including intro and outro. It's a really cute slice of life comedy with three school girls, Saki, Kanaka, and Ayuko. There's no big conflicts just straight comedy and cuteness like DiGi Charat. By the way, I love the opening. It reminds me of Maria Holic.

Tiger & Bunny (2011) | Rating: 3/5

How much can you say about a hero with powers? Well, this anime shows a different side than what I'm used. This series is about heroes, but the main focus is relationships. The connections you have with your partner, your friends, and your family. There's a lot of ups and downs and you become attached to some characters to the point that you start rooting for them when times get rough. The animation is gorgeous and vibrant and it was interesting to see two stories join together for one series. There's a definite arc separation, but it all ties together overall.

Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt (2010) | Rating: 3/5

I didn't know what to expect from this series, other than the obvious perversions. It reminded me of FLCL and Super Milk-chan. There's a lot of things going on and it kinda seems random, but somehow it all flows together to make a somewhat story. You don't realize that all this chaos and madness actually has a purpose or plot until the final episode. The animation also reflects the mishmash of storytelling. It usually looks a little goofy like Milk-chan, but once the transformation happens, Panty and Stocking look more clean and sleek, then suddenly when the ghost is defeated, it's like an old Japanese movie where the monster is a model and explodes. This series isn't for everyone and definitely should be viewed by a mature audience that likes pervy humor. Also, I love the soundtrack.

Baccano! (2007) | Rating: 3/5

I first heard about this series through JesuOtaku. I didn't know what to think of this historical westernized series, but it was full of action, blood, twists, and turns. It has a bunch of interesting and unique characters to keep the story exciting. It's different than what I normally watch and it's extremely bloody too. You will not be bored with this rollercoaster ride of a series and keeps you on your toes as it travels back and forth through time. A couple recommendations for watching this show: be sure to watch the three special episodes once completing the core episodes and, personally, watch the English dub version.

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

Monday, August 19, 2013

Review: White: Melody of Death

Title: Hwaiteu: Jeojooui Mellodi (화이트: 저주의 멜로디)
Alternate title: White: Melody of Death, White: The Melody of the Curse
Director: Kim Gok, Kim Sun
Cast: Ham Eun-Jung, Hwang Woo Seul Hye, Jin Se-Yeon, Choi Ah-Ra, May Doni Kim
Rating: Not Rated
Running Time: 106 minutes
Country: South Korea
Language: Korean
Synopsis: Girl group Pink Dolls are largely unknown, overshadowed by other, more popular idols. However, after covering the mysterious song "White" for their second album, they become overnight sensations -- but this brand of fame comes with a sinister price.

Masquerading as a horror movie, Hwaiteu: Jeojooui Mellodi or White: The Melody of the Curse, if you prefer the English title, is actually a thinly veiled look at the troubles of the Korean music industry. Pink Dolls is a failing kpop girl group. Their loss to a more popular and mainstream girl group on a television show seems to be the final blow for the girls. Even a new studio and more practice can't ease the tension between them. Each has their own issues, but the eldest is consistently bullied by the younger three members. It's even more interesting considering that, the very next year, the movie's star Eun-Jung was involved in a bullying scandal with her group T-ara. You can read Miko's thoughts on the problems with T-ara here.

Eun-Ju finds a bunch of video tapes in their new studio. Out of these, she's drawn to one with English writing on it. Upon playing the tape, she realizes that it's an old, unreleased music video. The group's manager decides that she'll allow them to use the song even though no one knows who it belonged to. It must be okay to steal other people's music, right? Copyright issues are shoved aside and the girls start practicing the song. Of course, their next performance turns them into the hottest thing since sliced bread. One week a flop, the next a hit group...the girls are sure to get swelled egos.

That's when the backstabbing and fighting really begins. The girls compete for who will be the lead of the group and get to wear a white wig and costume. This is where all the supernatural things pick up. Among those supernatural things, you have the girls picking at each other's fault. One of them is insecure about singing high notes and constantly resorts to taking medication. Another is obsessed with plastic surgery. The third girl is a bad singer, but a good dancer. Then there's Eun-Ju who happens to be good at everything. There's always one in the group like her, kind and caring, even though she's badly bullied. Rather than suspect that the girls are sabotaging each other, Eun-Ju decides that the song has to be the problem!

Management doesn't care that the girls are being injured. Instead, they simply move onto the next available body. This rings so true with the state of Kpop music. With the dozens of girl groups, most have four or more members. When one gets run down, the next is merely moved up a step. These girls are all interchangeable. Slap some makeup and the right costuming on and no one will really know the difference. This even extends to vocals. There are even girls hired to do vocal doubling for those who can't quite hit all the right notes.

The fans are just as bad. In the film, there are at least two instances of crazed fans who chase down their idols. It doesn't matter if the artists get injured in this quest to see them, to snap a picture and touch them. I'm
certain that there are fans like this in real life whether in the Kpop industry or the rest of the music world. The netizens already show signs of the lengths they'd go to in order to be close to their idols. What would stop them from chasing down one with a cellphone camera?

While the horror elements have all been seen before and done better in series like Ringu, White has another thing going for it. The underlying story of all the girls and how bullying has affected them is much more
compelling. This could have been a convincing drama if it had been stripped of the horror elements to focus on the girls and how their lives changed. Pay attention to the backstory of the ghost to see what I mean by this. Instead, this is all covered up with the supernatural nullifying it's impact. Sadly, I doubt we'll ever see a drama about the things that go on behind the scenes in the Kpop world. We'll end up seeing these things in the news and tabloids. It'll all be highly debated by the fans and haters alike.

Rating: 2.5/5

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Top 5 Recommended Music Videos

"Dry Ride" by Tam Tam
I know I already posted something of theirs last time, but I couldn't resist this charming claymation video and fun ska music. I love the music and the melody is just so easy on the ears. The vocals are also a little more bearable than the previous song. I really, really need to find their music.

"Eclipse" by Crossfaith
Like their previous PV, this is another aggressively, fun party song to go absolutely crazy with. There is so much energy and chaos in this song and I love it! The visuals are sleek and match the danger, energy, and mayhem that is in the song. This is also a slightly more mature look to the members as well and it's great to hear Ken singing a little more.

"V" by Lee Jung Hyun
The Queen of Performance has returned with the help of director Park Chan Wook. It has an interesting, comedic, horror storyline of romance and persistence. I love the concept and the haunting, but playful music. It has a swing, electronic pop sound to it that reminds me of Alexandra Stan's "Mr. Saxobeat". I'm happy to see her return and I can't wait for more of her this year.

"Hate You" by LADIES'CODE
Their debut song wasn't looking so good, so I'm happy I gave them another chance with this MV and I must say it's way better. Although the chorus is quite repetitive, you can't deny that these ladies have some strong vocals and it makes me long for SPICA even more. I hope they don't sell out to the trending sound and mediocrity, because this is quite refreshing and goes well with my liking of Z.Hera and Andamiro. I can't help but say that this is great use of Lee Hi's leftover set pieces.

"Mirrors" by EMMA LOUISE
This popped up on my YouTube subscription feed and I checked it out with no regrets. It's a quiet, but seemingly deep, emotional song. I love the soft vocals and ambient, electronic music. The visual presentation is very simple and allow body movements create a picture along with the song. It might seem boring, but it fits the tone of the song and the gentleness of the vocals.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Quick Movie Reviews: Novels Edition

Title:  The Host (2013)
Starring: Saoirse Ronan, Diane Kruger, Max Irons
Synopsis: When an unseen enemy threatens mankind by taking over their bodies and erasing their memories, Melanie will risk everything to protect the people she cares most about, proving that love can conquer all in a dangerous new world.
Based on: The Host, by Stephanie Meyer
Rating: 2/5

The basic idea for this series brings back thoughts of Animorphs. For me, that's not too surprising since Stephanie Meyer's other works (The Twilight Saga) borrow heavily from other mediums. The most interesting part about this movie were the alien beings. Sadly, they get buried under a love square. Melanie is in love with one boy, but the alien inhabiting her body is in love with another. Is it still a triangle then? I would have liked to learn more about the fluffy ball of light aliens that make everyone very nice and neutral to one another.

Title: Beautiful Creatures (2013)
Starring: Alden Ehrenreich, Alice Englert, Viola Davis
Synopsis: Ethan longs to escape his small Southern town. He meets a mysterious new girl, Lena. Together, they uncover dark secrets about their respective families, their history and their town.
Based on: Caster Chronicles series by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
Rating: 2/5

This movie falls into the same problems that most marketed for teens do. Rushed relationships and too much information given in a short period of time detracts from the overall impact of the story. A large cast with some very good actors couldn't save it from that. Overall, I was kind of intrigued enough to try reading the novels. I would suggest giving those a try for some light reading before you attempt the movie.

Title: Safe Haven (2013)
Starring: Julianne Hough, David Lyons, Josh Duhamel
Synopsis: A young woman with a mysterious past lands in Southport, North Carolina where her bond with a widower forces her to confront the dark secret that haunts her.
Based on: Safe Haven by Nicholas Sparks
Rating: 3/5

Safe Haven is fairly good for the story of a girl runs from abusive husband meets a good guy story. There were some comparisons to other movies of this genre like Sleeping with the Enemy. The beautiful scenery of the southern North Carolina coast help to really draw you in. There was a little added twist toward the end that I have to admit I guessed quite early. If you liked The Notebook, A Walk to Remember and Dear John, you'll love this one. Nicholas Sparks has a certain talent for writing romance.

Title: Sense and Sensibility (1995)
Starring: Kate Winslet, Emma Thompson, Alan Rickman
Synopsis: Rich Mr. Dashwood dies, leaving his second wife and her three daughters poor by the rules of inheritance. The two eldest daughters are the titular opposites.
Based on: Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen
Rating: 4/5

There have been numerous adaptations of Jane Austen's novels. They're a highlight of any reader's list of classics. The downfall with that is often the film versions get bogged down in trying to be more than simply an elegant period piece. Remember that one adaptation of Pride and Prejudice where we wondered if anyone had ever fed Kira Knightley? This has to be my favorite film version of this novel. The cast is amazing. Alan Rickman, Hugh Grant, Hugh Laurie, Kate Winslet and Emma Thompson among a lot of others bring these characters to life. If you enjoy the work of Jane Austen, give this one a chance.

Title:  Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961)
Starring: Audrey Hepburn, George Peppard, Buddy Ebsen
Synopsis: A young New York socialite becomes interested in a young man who has moved into her apartment building.
Based on: Breakfast at Tiffany's by Truman Capote
Rating: 5/5

Do you ever get the mean reds? Those are times when you're afraid and have no idea why you are. I know I do. While I can't follow Holly Golightly's example and head to Tiffany's, I can watch this film. Classy, elegant and full of spirit, Audrey Hepburn brings Holly to life in ways that I don't believe anyone else could. She wasn't even the author's choice for the character! He wanted the voluptuous Marilyn Monroe instead. Breakfast at Tiffany's is the movie that really helped launch Audrey Hepburn into icon status. I can't imagine anyone else playing Holly Golightly.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Quick Movie Review

House at the End of the Street (2012, USA) | Rating: 2/5

Jennifer Lawrence was at the peak of her career in 2012 and she seemed like the go to girl of Hollywood. So, of course, 2 out of 3 movies was going to succeed while the other seemed like a "eh, why not, seems easy enough" gig. The movie wasn't horrible, but like most recent thrillers it lacked relatability or chemistry from character to audience. You simply don't care what happens to these characters. The movie attempts to provoke sympathy through the antagonist and Lawrence's relationship with her mother, but it simply falls flat and just goes with the motions sloppily for the sake of getting to the cliche climax. Lawrence's acting efforts try to save this bland story and her character does break the mold of helpless female leads, but it cannot save this forgettable horror.

The Wolverine (2013, USA) | Rating: 3.5/5

As much as I'm annoyed that filmmakers seem confused on what direction to take with the X-Men franchise, I was looking forward to this movie. I know a lot of people were disappointed in the previous Wolverine movie and it seems like this one made up for it, whether people completely enjoyed it or not. I think it was an improvement as well. It was exciting, action packed, and actually had some character development. There were some twists in there as well that I couldn't even predict. The villain wasn't extremely strong, but I thought they were kinda cool. Honestly, I think the women stole the show from Wolverine.

Evil Dead (2013, USA) | Rating: 1.5/5

As someone who hasn't seen the original, I was never really interested in seeing this remake nor intrigued to watch the original after watching this one. So, why did I watch this movie and am reviewing it right now? This review simply exists because someone requested my thoughts on the remake. I must admit it looked good and the acting wasn't bad, but the level of unnecessary gore, bland story, and characters you don't care about retracts from those small positive things. There was an excessive amount of blood and that took away from the high production visuals. For a more in depth review, check out Ophelia's review. For the most part, I agree with everything she had to say about the movie.

The Conjuring (2013, USA) | Rating: 4/5

I've been waiting to see this movie since I saw the teaser. It felt like a breath of fresh air. I finally saw it with my mom and I'm happy to say that this was very satisfying. James Wan continues to keep us on edge and guessing which I love and miss from the genre, especially after seeing Evil Dead. The balance between the Perrons and Warrens kept things interesting, the slow pace added to the tension, the distribution of sound and silence was cleverly done, and the camera angles are uniquely Wan. Glancing over the negative reviews, it seems like people expected the jump scare, gore fest that's been plaguing the cinemas for so long. This isn't your Paranormal Activity or your standard possession movie. On the surface it may seem cliche, but when you actually watch it brings so many new vantage points than its predecessors of this generation and if you're looking for more of the same, then skip out on this disappointment. For the most part, I agree with Ophelia's take on the movie. My only negative was the first reveal of the main ghost. I would've liked to wait a little longer to see it. A little mystery to add to the terror.

Trance (2013, UK) | Rating: 3/5

I didn't know about this movie until I saw Film Brain review it. It seemed interesting and I enjoy movies that deal with manipulating the mind. It reminded me a little of Inception, but at a faster pace. Unfortunately, my mind couldn't keep up with that fast pace and I'm sure the copious amount of explanation at the end is for those who are in the same boat. Normally, I could keep track of everything, but for some reason the writing was a bit too loose. It was still enjoyable and interesting enough to find out the conclusion. The visuals were also very intriguing.

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, August 11, 2013

Quick Movie Reviews

Title: 6 souls (2010)
Alternate Title: Shelter
Starring: Julianne Moore, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Jeffrey DeMunn
Synopsis: A female forensic psychiatrist discovers that all of one of her patient's multiple personalities are murder victims. She will have to find out what's happening before her time is finished.
Rating: 2/5

Multiple personalities or possession? Science or faith? These are the things weighed in 6 Souls. You're not going to like this one if you expect a fast pace or any real scares. It's a slow building attempt at a thriller. The only real saving grace to the tedious pace is Jonathan Rhys Meyers as he portrays several different personalities with accents and mannerisms.

Title: V/H/S (2012)
Starring: Calvin Reeder, Lane Hughes, Adam Wingard
Synopsis: When a group of misfits is hired by an unknown third party to burglarize a desolate house and acquire a rare VHS tape, they discover more found footage than they bargained for.
Rating: 1/5

I've never been fond of the found footage format, but I gave it a try anyway. 10 directors and 24 producers over six segments couldn't save this attempt at anthology horror. I was more bored than anything throughout. This was one of the few movies where I was watching the clock wondering why there was still half an hour left.  At a little under two hours, this one really should have been much shorter.

Title: Dark Skies (2013)
Starring: Keri Russell, Josh Hamilton, Dakota Goyo
Synopsis: As the Barret family's peaceful suburban life is rocked by an escalating series of disturbing events, they come to learn that a terrifying and deadly force is after them.
Rating: 1.5/5

Dark Skies offers nothing new in the format of horror or science fiction. Slow paced and often tedious, I didn't find myself really caring what happened to the family. There were some moments when I thought there would be some buildup, but the payoff came and went with no resolution. This one suffers from being too mediocre.

Title: The Incredible Burt Wonderstone (2013)
Starring: Steve Carell, Jim Carrey, Olivia Wilde
Synopsis: When a street magician's stunts begins to make their show look stale, superstar magicians Burt Wonderstone and Anton Marvelton look to salvage on their act - and their friendship - by staging their own daring stunt.
Rating: 2.5/5

Overall, The Incredible Burt Wonderstone is a fairly decent parody of popular magicians. Jim Carrey steals the scenes that he's in with his take on shock magicians like Criss Angel.  Alan Arkin and Steve Buscemi also do a good job in supporting roles. Olivia Wilde is as lovely as always. However, the biggest downfall is how annoying Steve Carell's character is.

Title: Snitch (2013)
Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Jon Bernthal, Susan Sarandon
Synopsis: A father goes undercover for the DEA in order to free his son who was imprisoned after being set up in drug deal.
Rating: 2.5/5

Stupid kids should be learn from their mistakes. Instead, Dwayne Johnson jumps in to save his son by trying to set up drug dealers for the police. He sets aside his other child and wife to chase these criminals regardless of whether he gets himself killed. This was an average action flick that attempted to be more intelligent than others.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Review: Spring Breakers

Starring: Selena Gomez, Vanessa Hudgens, Ashley Benson
Directed by: Harmony Korine
Language: English
Rating: R
Running Time: 94 minutes

I wasn't really interested in seeing this movie, until I saw a review on Pretty Much It. Their response to this movie was surprising and it tempted me to check it out for myself.

Faith, Brit, Candy, and Cotty are bored of college life and are ready to go wild for spring break. The only problem is that they lack the funds to take the trip they want to Florida. Brit, Candy, and Cotty devise a plan to rob a restaurant for the money and the girls enjoy their time in Florida together.

If you're expecting to see former Disney starlets being topless, then this movie is not for you. Sorry, semi-pedos, but you will be sorely disappointed in the lack of nudity from Selena and Vanessa. Now that that's out of the way, I didn't know what to expect from this movie completely. I had to re-read the plot of the story a few times for it to stick in my head, before watching it. I must admit the first few minutes didn't look that promising. Beer, boobs, and dubstep: the essentials of spring break in 2013. I honestly thought this would be quite trashy, especially seeing a "thugged out" James Franco on the cover, but I wasn't going to stop the movie just yet. After the off putting introduction, the movie calms down, becomes a little more experimental visually, and takes a slightly more serious approach, despite the characters being bit lewd with non-verbal sex jokes.

The story could be viewed as simple, but somewhat deep. This might seem like a simple spring break movie with a bunch of girls in bikinis party hopping and doing the supposedly stereotypical college shenanigans (i.e. drinking, drugs, and sex), but this movie ends up being something more. The situation isn't overly complicated, but it is a conflict that isn't typical in these types of movies. From what I read and what I see, this could be viewed as a fantasy of taking risks to provide a good time and perhaps good memories with your closest friends.

The acting was pretty good. It wasn't something to get too detailed about, but a few characters were a bit laughable in the portrayals. I believe it was supposed to be that way though such as James Franco as Alien, a rapper and drugs and arms dealer. It's exaggerated, but it isn't annoying or out of place for this sort of movie. What I really liked about the movie is the way it is shot and edited. The movie has a nice balance of giving the audience that typical spring break feeling of excess and scandal, but also deals out a hand of danger and consequence. It also has this artistic, experimental feeling with colors to separate both atmospheres and music. One example of this balance is a scene with the girls and Alien at a poolside piano singing Britney Spears' "Everytime".

It's hard to give this movie the praise it deserves without ruining the movie. Aside from what I said previously about what I like about this movie, it was nice to have some sort of consequence for the characters whether they're satisfying or not to the audience, I've seen way too many movies where characters do bad things and they don't receive any type of punishment. This movie does deserve its R rating and some of the dialogue is quite laughable and unnecessary, but those things don't take away too much from my enjoyment of the movie.

Rating: 3.5/5

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