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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Monday, September 15, 2014

Top 5 Recommended Music Videos

"ざんげの花道" by D=OUT
It has been so long since a D=OUT PV has stood out to me along with their music. Although the presentation of the video isn't anything new to me as I've seen this same setting with Kagerou and I'm sure another jrock band I can't think of at the moment, it actually looks like they're having fun. The music sounds like they're going back to their roots, minus the mix of traditional Japanese sounds, but there's a definite D=OUT flair in the sound. The members let loose and dance around the stage while offering their fans beauty shots of them in these really polished areas. The energy is definitely a lot purer and positive compared the past couple or so PVs they've released, even though not much is going on content wise. Nonetheless, I think D=OUT fans will be pleased by this shift and I hope I can see more of this sort of energy from them in future PVs, even if the content and concept is simple.

This group was introduced to me by a friend who was a fan of GYUN and her former band Gollbetty. Honestly, I haven't been keeping up with this band at all, but what I've heard is pretty good. This song starts off pretty soft and slow, then when everything pauses for a moment, a burst of electric energy comes out with quick guitar riffs and GYUN's high vocals. The video is very band centric, but adds a unique color palette of neons and light flairs. The members transition in and out of the scene as duplicates, between set pieces, and as a whole group. There's some fun, random special effects that match the chaos and fun of the song.

"Metronome" by Jay Park feat. Simon D & GRAY
I believe Jay Park has been a bit silent in the music creation spotlight, but has been working pretty hard on his label and even snagged amazing "new" talent GRAY and legendary rapper Simon Dominic, mostly known from being half of Supreme Team. After listening to GRAY's debut mini-album, I expected a lot of great things from this trio and it was the breath of fresh air I needed. Fusing together R&B and hip-hop effortlessly, Jay Park plays to his strengths of transitioning his vocals to fit this fusion while letting GRAY loan his rough, confident vocals to the chorus and Simon D complete the fusion with some impressive rap bars. The video is sleek and classic to fit the mood. It tells a story of a couple whose relationship is off balance and uses props to symbolize the movement of a metronome while matching the artistic flair of the special effects. With this partnership, I hope I see more from this trio as they work extremely well together.

"Amazing -Bad Lady-" by Cross Gene
As mentioned in my follow up rookie post, I confessed that I don't pay attention to this group as much as I would like, but they have great talent. Sometimes their material tends to blend in with the rest of the rookies of that year and a bit of the following year. I was happy to see something this stylish stood out from what was out at the moment. It uses a video style that I like which is sticking to a monochromatic color scheme with pops of color. When there is full color, it's darkened or muted so it doesn't seem too jarring to the eyes. The choreography is still good, even though I think the crotch dusting is awkward, but the catchy and unique melody paired with great vocals make up for that. I really get this similar U-KISS vibe from them in a recognition sense more than anything. I look forward to more material on this level.

"Hug Me" by Crush feat. Gaeko
A lot of fresh faces have been standing out a little more on the mainstream front and I believe Crush is one of those faces. Similar to Jay Park and GRAY, he fuses hip-hop and R&B together with a hint of electro-pop. His vocals border between those lines of hip-hop and R&B which matches the music of this video. The verses have a smooth melody with just enough bass and electronics, the transition has a little electro-pop, and the chorus has more of booming hip-hop energy. The visuals tell a simple story about a relationship or the potential of one. It matches the music fusion by featuring sweet romantic scenes, clean choreography with the right amount of confidence and sensuality, and clichés from both music genres such as fancy cars, flashing lights, a throne-like chair, and hip-hop clothing that isn't too overwhelming or obvious to the viewer.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Quick Movie Review

The Single Moms Club (2014, USA) | Rating: 2/5

Similar to Temptation: Confessions of a Marriage Counselor, I kinda had somewhat high expectations for this movie. I was hoping Tyler Perry would be stepping into somewhat new territory compared to his stage play conversions. But honestly, I was afraid of having said expectations since I was so let down by that problematic movie. I was pleasantly surprised that I didn't have any discomfort with this movie and it is a little different. It does sadly fall back on the usual Perry cliches concerning race and stereotypes, but it was...tolerable. The movie requires some suspension of disbelief as a few things are unrealistic, but taking into account that this is a Tyler Perry flick, you tend to turn your brain off when viewing, at least that's what I do. It's not exactly the most empowering film that you'd want to expect from something like this, but it's decent.

Maniac (2013, France) | Rating: 3/5

I saw this movie in a preview of another movie and it appeared to be interesting as Elijah Wood tends to play more innocent characters, so seeing him as a killer was an interesting experience. An even more interesting experience was how majority of the film was shot. Most of the movie is through the point of view of our main character and killer. Occasionally, it does switch to third person, but this experimental perspective opens your eyes to what the killer sees and perhaps understand his dilemma. Before watching this movie, I had no idea that this was a remake of a 1980's movie of the same name. I don't know if I'll be viewing that for comparison, but this movie was pretty entertaining and the first person point of view added some interesting points to the movie that made me want to somewhat recommend it. The content didn't completely blow me away, but it still managed to keep me very engaged. The characters are simple, but interesting as the two main characters are both different yet similar. So, watching them interact and wondering how bad it's going to become in the climax was exciting.

Syrup (2013, USA) | Rating: 3/5

What brought me to this "obscure" movie was a gif set that popped up every now and then on Tumblr pertaining the different types of women men see or identify. It held a lot of truth, so I looked it up and read the summary and, of course, the rest is history. I watched the movie, which is about marketing and branding and how society responds to it. It also has hints about how corporations as well. I learned afterwards that this is based off a book and a few commentators on IMDb were a little unhappy that they didn't match up. I might look into the book later, but as a movie alone I thought it was both entertaining and informative. There is a lot of truth spoken about image, branding, and public response. The story itself is pretty loose and could've been written better, but it didn't bother me too much.

The Quiet Ones (2014, USA) | Rating: 2/5

When this was in theaters, I contemplated seeing this movie when I heard some kinda good things about it, but my first opinion stuck out the looked like everything else [read as: not that good]. Of course, harmless rental from my workplace and the only thing spent was my time. I had no idea where this movie was going or completely what it was about. While watching it, I kept thinking of The Conjuring and how bad this movie wants to be like it with its similar style in certain places, the inspiration from true events, the conclusion by tying in said true events, and the atmosphere. I will admit that this movie isn't as bad as I thought it would be and I don't regret watching it like a lot of recently dumb possession movies I've been curious about, but the added potential romance and awkward sexual cliches made it lose a few points. Obviously, The Conjuring is better, but this wasn't terrible in the least.

The Sacrament (2011, USA) | Rating: 1/5

I think I'm going through this masochistic phase of purposely picking horror movies I think are going to be bad, but somehow knowing that they're not going to damage my brain least I got lucky with this one. Going into this movie, I had a feeling it was going to be bad because it was associated with Eli Roth and I really dislike that man's work. I'm very much aware that he didn't direct this movie, but still...his name is on the cover, so some responsibility is on him. Also, I didn't know that this was loosely based on actual events and a bunch of people on IMDb didn't understand why they didn't incorporate or associate with said events, despite there being a "better" movie out there about the mass murders. I looked into this little conflict, while I was watching the movie, and wondered the same thing. They used a real magazine group, VICE, and yet they changed everything else and dramaticized it for horror purposes which was silly.

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Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Review: Angelic Layer

Title: Angelic Layer
Language: English & Japanese
Genre: Comedy, shoujo, sports, drama
Episodes: 26

I haven't done a full length anime review in a really long time, so I'm happy I'm back into an almost regular routine of watching anime. I know this is an older series, but I was introduced to Angelic Layer by one of my best friends back in 7th grade and I finally got around to starting from the beginning and completing it.

Misaki Suzuhara is a 12 year old girl who has moved to live with her aunt while her mother is involved business. During her transfer, Misaki sees an angel on a television screen and is instantly intrigued by the sight. Not too long from being mesmerized by the beautiful angel, she obtains her own angel and becomes deeply involved in Angelic Layer, a tournament that battles angels (which our custom dolls). With practice, observation, and obtaining new friends along her tournament journey, Misaki and her angel Hikaru become stronger and learn different techniques from the opponents as well as personal revelations.

As I mentioned in the introduction, I started this series a long time ago and I finally picked it back up to complete. I remember liking what I saw so far back then, then picking it up now, I was surprised how easily hooked I was to the story and its characters. All the characters are easily likable and very diverse from each other, not only in their skill sets with their personalized angels, but in their personalities. With such diversity adds entertainment value for the audience and growth from the main character Misaki. The story is pretty simple with it mostly focusing on the tournament aspect, but occasionally gives the viewer a break from constant angel battles to give the characters real life interactions such as a school, home, or beach settings. I think if it only stuck to the tournament, it would get boring real quick with such a repetitive structure. There are also some minor and supplementary subplots such as Misaki's feelings toward two male characters that she befriends and her relationship with her mother. The romance isn't too forced or unrealistic as you can't go too far with a bunch of 12 year olds, but her relationship with her mother is a persistent obstacle throughout the series.

I'll admit that I watched this entire series completely dubbed, which is pretty good, in my opinion. No one didn't sound more mature than they should or too childish either. The voice actors did a very good job portraying their characters and conveying each of their dilemmas whether minor or major. I did hear a little bit of the Japanese voice actors, but Tamayo, even in English, is especially annoying in Japanese. Because she is a frequent character due to being one of Misaki's close friends, I get to hear a lot of her. She's very loud and overly energetic and in Japanese, that loudness is at a higher pitch compared to the English dub. Of course, it's totally up to the viewer's preference, but the English dub is pretty good.

Since the story and structure is pretty straightforward, it was easy to get hooked and find yourself cheering Misaki and Hikaru on through each battle. When it came to the romance element, I was a bit worried it would go in some cliche direction, but I was pleased to find that the creator did recognize the characters' age and kept that as realistic as possible. As for the mother-daughter relationship, I got really annoyed with this supplementary plot and occasionally Misaki's lack of confidence that came and went, but I know that they are somewhat linked together. Every time Misaki and her mother are starting to get close, things retreat and prolong their long awaited reunion. As much as I was engaged in this series, I couldn't help but get frustrated at Misaki's mother's insecurities.

Ignore the fact that this an older series and might even be considered as shoujo, I think anyone whatever the gender could enjoy this series. It's very lighthearted and the characters are diverse and interesting. The battle aspect is unique and entertaining. In short, it's a very enjoyable series with a good balance of action, drama, comedy, and a dash of romance.

Rating: 3.5/5

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Friday, September 5, 2014

Quick Movie Review

Sin City: A Dame to Kill For (2014, USA) | Rating: 4/5

I really wished I rewatched the first movie before I went to go see this one, but I'm planning on watching it again in the near future. For those going to see it, I think that might help quite a lot with the timeline and whatnot. A friend that happened to be in theater pointed out that there are some timeline issues, but since my memory was very vague on the previous movie, I really had no complaints about that. Something I loved about Sin City were the unique visuals and this overdue follow-up has definitely improved on that. The monochromatic color scheme still mesmerizes the eyes and the touches of vibrant color are cleverly placed on points of interest. If I remember I think the previous film also followed more than one storyline, which I think could have been organized a little better. It wasn't confusing, but it felt a bit off balance in certain areas with a couple storylines and at times I think I wouldn't have missed one or two of those stories if they were removed. I did find the movie very entertaining and brilliantly violent, so check it out.

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

I have no idea what got me interested in this movie, but if I had to guess, perhaps I was curious about James McAvoy. I have seen him other movies aside from the X-Men franchise such as Wanted and Trance. Either way, the movie sounded unique and unique it was. I wasn't sure whether I wanted to review this movie as I don't have much to say. I had a hard time adjusting to the language barrier and the slang used, but as the movie progressed I became a little more comfortable...not completely though. Bruce, played by McAvoy, is our anti-hero of sorts. He possesses a lot of unlikable characteristics, but for some reason you can't completely hate him. He does a lot of "filthy" things to himself and to others, but you can't help but feel sorry for him and want him to break away from these filthy habits. It's hard explain why you feel that way, until you approach the end of the film and you understand why this sense of sympathy exists. The style is very blunt and unapologetic, which works with Bruce and the subject of this movie, so it's not meant for everyone.

The Lone Ranger (2013, USA) | Rating: 1.5/5

I must confess...I actually wanted to see this movie in the theaters. All the components leading up to the premiere seemed so promising: Johnny Depp, high action, an old franchise bringing western to the big screen, and some familiar names from the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise. Of course, this movie was most known that year as one of the biggest flops in cinema, proving that a big budget doesn't guarantee a good movie. Despite the action being entertaining and well choreographed and easily comparable to the Pirates movies, there was too much going on, dragged out action scenes, and uninteresting characters. Watching this movie felt like a real chore as the pacing was unbearable and I was happy that I was multitasking at the time. I had no real reason to cheer on the heroes and, I'm sorry, Johnny, but your character was more of a caricature more than anything else. I know plenty of people were already jumping on him and Disney for whitewashing a Native American character, but it's worse that he didn't give Tonto any likeable qualities nor does the script offer any good laughs. So much for being a comedy. Good thing I watched Dead Man before this flop of a movie.

Transcendence (2014, USA) | Rating: 2.5/5

It seems like the majority have lumped this movie with failures like the one above and Dark Shadows into Johnny Depp's movie slump, but after watching it, I kinda want to disagree. Similar to The Lone Ranger, I thought about seeing this in theaters as well, but I was discouraged by the poor reviews. Normally, I wouldn't let critics decide on what movies I see in the theaters, but this wasn't really high priority on my movie watch list, so I opted to wait for the DVD release at work. I haven't read in depth what people disliked about this movie, but the only flaw that seems the most noticeable in my eyes is that it isn't that memorable or mindblowing. After seeing movies Her and Lucy, I see bits and pieces of elements from those movies in here, even though the release dates are questionable when it comes to borrowing or influence for this movie. I thought it was inventive and ambitious as I think most scientific and technologically dependent movies are a bit of a challenge. You have to work around a certain stretch of logic and imagination for all the formulas to work out and make sense to the viewers. For the purpose of this quick review, I'm not really going to comment too much on it. The story is interesting and the pacing is okay, but what makes the movie not stand out aside from the ideas are the characters. They don't have any real defining characteristics aside from a tiny piece in Depp's character Will Caster. It's not the best work in his filmography, but I wouldn't put it as a failure with The Lone Ranger and Dark Shadows; those movies are unforgivable.

Twixt (2011, USA) | Rating: 1/5

I believe I saw previews for this movie on another DVD I checked out and it looked visually (and probably conceptually) interesting. Unfortunately, this movie is pretty bad. It was nice to see former Batman star Val Kilmer in something again, but his character, like the others, are pretty boring. The dialogue just felt like listening to adults in Peanuts cartoons. There's exposition, minimal vocal inflections, and nothing that says much about their personalities except for very basic traits: this guy is selfish, that guy is lazy, this girl is an outcast, that guy is lost. Despite the trailer featuring stunning gothic visuals, the visuals throughout the movie felt low budget and almost over stylized. It seemed like the director and cinematographer had some ambitious goals with what they wanted to show, but didn't have the proper tools or budget to display that. Lastly, the story is very...loose. I'm all into horror movies about struggling writers, but there was nothing redeemable or interesting about Val Kilmer's Hall Baltimore. The movie just made me want to re-watch 1408, Secret Window, and Misery. Do not be deceived by the visuals!

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, September 3, 2014

Review: Disconnect

Starring: Jason Bateman, Jonah Bobo, Haley Ramm
Directed by: Henry-Alex Rubin
Language: English
Rating: R
Running Time: 115 minutes

After being pleasantly surprised by What Maisie Knew, my curiosity came back to look up more movies with Alexander Skarsgård. I already enjoy his acting abilities in True Blood and I didn't know he had a part in The Giver. With that, I remembered that I wanted to watch more things with him in it.

In today's world, technology is evolving everyday. Some people argue that the advancement in technology brings us closer together and others may counter that it is distancing us from strengthening our relationships. The story follows three different plot points that somewhat intertwine with each other, but mostly by theme. A father dependent on his cell phone and distracted by his career struggling to communicate with his family, a couple who refuse to find resolution to their past and use the internet to distract them from fixing it, and a news reporter who finds interest in a teenager who makes a living by performing on adult-only websites.

Similar to What Maisie Knew, the other Alexander Skarsgård movie I watched and reviewed, I had no idea what this movie was about. I had some guesses like maybe the movie is about the evils of technology or a world where technology is banned and a small group of people are hiding it from the government. Of course, it's really neither of these things as you can see from the synopsis. The difference in experiencing this movie before viewing is this time I haven't heard any comments about it at all. So, I went into this completely blind. The reason I bring this up is because I didn't know what to expect and once the movie started with a guy working for an adult site, I had no idea where it was going let alone having three stories progressing simultaneously. Usually, this can be pretty complicated to execute and can easily confuse the audience such as the overly ambitious Cloud Atlas. Fortunately, this movie does a better job of keeping their three linear storylines straight while subtly intertwining them to the movie's common theme.

The reason I wanted to do a full review of this movie is to not only give it proper recognition, but to give it some praise and encourage you guys, my awesome Cult followers, to check this out. Of course, I have to offer a little more to this review. Aside from executing the three stories in a clear structure, each of them were very engaging and relevant to real life. It doesn't glamorize or overdramaticize any of the situations either. The movie tackles cyber-bullying, miscommunication between family members, neglecting an unfortunate situation between married couples, and doing whatever it takes to support yourself. The actors portrayed these situations in a very realistic manner and you can't help but sympathize with their situations or at least feel something for them. Everyone has the best intentions for each other or has their own problems that are restraining them from moving forward until something major happens. The interactions between each character and how they grow over time makes this movie really worth watching, especially once you reach the end of the movie. You might not be completely happy with the results, but it's almost exactly what the movie needs.

I must admit that it does take a little bit of patience to get into it from the beginning, but it does offer something intriguing at the introduction. You wonder what's going and where things are going, then you realize that three different stories are going on. There's no loud climax, everything progresses very quietly, but has some stand out, tug at your heartstrings moments. These moments are unexpected and you do feel a sense of panic and hope for the best along with the characters. In the end, this quiet emotional ride is really worth the pay off and the message it leaves you. I urge you, my lovely Cult followers, to give this movie a chance. Watch it with an open mind and a bit of patience.

Rating: 4/5

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Monday, September 1, 2014

Quick Movie Review

Vampire Academy (2014, USA) | Rating: 3.5/5

I wasn't sure if I wanted to review this or not. I definitely wanted people to check it out as I've never heard anyone talk about the movie anywhere. It's nothing spectacular in the least, but it was pretty entertaining and different from Twilight when it comes to vampires. It's less melodramatic, has better acting, and has a clearer, more serious take on vampires while tying together typical high school issues. They also poke fun of Twilight. I've never read any of the books and this movie didn't quite persuade me to do so yet, but it would be nice to have a sequel for sure. Whether it receives that or not, I'm kinda doubting since there's been zero hype surrounding it, at least in my circle. The story is pretty simple and easy to get into and the characters are pretty likable.

Gravity (2013, USA) | Rating: 5/5

I believe this was the last of the requested movies and I honestly was surprised how stunning and anxiety ridden this movie was. It was even more surprising that it was a short movie, which made me very happy. I must admit while watching this I don't think I took a breath until the very end when the credits were rolling. There's a minimal cast with very little dialogue and background music. The movie really does an amazing job of pulling you into absolute isolation with our main character played by Sandra Bullock. Since there was minimal dialogue, I believe it takes a lot of talent and awareness to pull off a wide range of emotion through not only your face, but your body. I highly recommend this movie. It has amazing visuals, instantly latches you into the story, and makes you feel like you're part of the chaos.

What Maisie Knew (2013, USA) | Rating: 4.5/5

I'm sure I'll mention this again, but my current eye candy right now is Alexander Skarsgård. The reason I bring this is because I saw him on the cover and I was ready to set up a little marathon of the sixth season of True Blood. Another reason I picked this movie up is because I heard some good things about it at my workplace. I have never heard of this movie and I had no idea what it was about. For some reason, I thought it was about a little girl witnessing a murder or something traumatizing, but it's a simple story about a married couple that has divorced and is raising their child on their own appropriate time while solidifying their new relationships. This story is very unique, in my opinion, because it's seen through the eyes of the daughter Maisie. There is definitely a lot of emotions you're going to be feeling while watching this movie.

You're Next (2011, USA) | Rating: 3.5/5

Most horror movies that I avoid from in theaters usually range from meh to terrible. Honestly, I wasn't expecting much from this one as it looked like a less interesting and full of jump scares version of The Strangers. Surprise, surprise! It did remind me of that movie and it actually wasn't that bad. It went a totally different direction than I thought. It's not completely a home invasion movie, I'm not sure if that's a spoiler or not, but a lot of places refer this as a home invasion movie which is partly true. There's really more to it, once you watch it. Of course, I went into this movie with pretty low expectations. I mean, come on, animal masks? When the movie began, I was still pretty skeptical and was expecting the worse, but once the first kill happened, the movie got a lot more interesting and not because of the violence either. I guess it was a good thing that the description was a bit deceptive.

Rosemary's Baby (1968, USA) | Rating: 4/5

As a horror movie fan, I try to get a little taste of the classics from time to time. I've been wanting to see this movie for quite some time, since I've seen it on plenty of lists and even mentioned by a friend or two. I talked to my mom about it and she gave me her reaction when she saw it and how others around her felt about it as well. I know the younger crowd would be skeptical of old horror movies, or just old movies in general, but I think it's good for them to experience a part of cinematic history and how the present is inspired by it. Despite this movie being rather lengthy and giving my flashbacks of the occasional restlessness I felt when watching Vertigo, I was definitely invested in the characters, especially the movie's protagonist Rosemary. It's easy to point out the differences from past and present, but I still found it very enjoyable and relevant to present day. I did find myself getting frustrated every now and then with her decisions, but I think that's part of the horror movie experience. Although the pacing may be perceived as slow, it does provide good build-up and a somewhat unpredictable pay off. For all the horror movie lovers, I highly recommend this one, especially if you're into demonic possession genre.

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.