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.