David Cronenberg at his finest.
David Cronenberg at his finest.
Everything I love about Bruce Wayne.
OK, I’m gonna have to give respect to the guy right now.
Inside the mind of Bruce Wayne
I LOVE YOU BRUCE
RIGHT THRU THE FUCKING HEART OH MY GOD I DON’T EVEN LIKE HIM
gotta pay it, this is a goodie.
Manly tears were shed.
I just refreshed the #FindTesla tag to find this.
I am heartbroken.
Tesla, I feel blessed to have gotten to hug you and pet you and see your adorable tail wag.
There is nothing as heartbreaking as losing a dog. No friendship is more loyal and no love as pure as that of a dog :(
THE MAN WHO WOULD BE KING (1975)
Directed by: John Huston, based on a story by Rudyard Kipling
Starring: Sean Connery, Michael Caine, Christopher Plummer, Saeed Jaffrey
An adventure flick based on a Rudyard Kipling story starring Sean Connery and Michael Caine and directed by John Huston. How could you NOT want to see this??
The story: While working one night at the offices of the Northern Star newspaper in India, correspondent Rudyard Kipling(Christopher Plummer) is visited one night by a wreck of a man who claims to know him. The disfigured, maimed fellow turns out to be Peachy Carnehan(Michael Caine), an acquaintance, former British soldier and fellow freemason whom he had last seen years before. Carnehan then starts telling Kipling about the events which led to his sorry state, first recounting how him and Kipling initially met, and about his partner in crime Daniel Dravot(Sean Connery). Carnehan and Dravot were both former British soldiers who decided to find fame and fortune outside Her Majesty’s service, and with Kipling’s help had planned to find that fame and fortune on the faraway nation of Kafiristan(a province of present-day Afghanistan). Carnehan and Dravot’s plan was to smuggle weapons into Kafiristan and pledge service to one of the local warlords. They’d train the warlord’s soldiers with the more modern weapons and tactics of the British army and then slowly conquer each enemy fiefdom one by one until they had unified the country under one rule, then bump off the ruler and take the crown themselves and become rich men in the process.
This was an ambitious plan, to be sure, but surprisingly achievable. After many adventures getting to Kafiristan, Carnehan and Dravot find their warlord and pledge themselves to him, and in the process have the good fortune of meeting Billy Fish(Saaed Jaffrey), a former Gurkha who eagerly pledges allegiance to them and serves as an interpreter. It’s not too long until Carnehan and Dravot are conquering villages left and right, and becoming rich and powerful in the process. However, something quite unexpected happens to them: after a fortuitous misunderstanding during one of the battles, Dravot actually starts getting worshipped as a god by the natives, who start calling him by the name Sikander. It turns out that Sikander is actually Alexander The Great, who had conquered Kafiristan millennia before, and Dravot is seen as his son and second coming. This leads to Dravot quite literally becoming king. Cue hubris.
John Huston is no stranger to stories of adventurous men letting their ambition destroy them, as he was the director of the classic story of greed and downfall, The Treasure of The Sierra Madre, and the experience serves him well to direct a hell of a fun movie. Filming was done on-location in Morocco, and Huston lovingly shoots the natural beauty of the country and its people to give the film an ancient, almost magical aesthetic. The movie has some great setpieces, but it’s not an all-out adventure romp Indiana Jones-style. Instead, the meat of the adventure is the interaction between the main players and the situations they get embroiled in. The plot also has a lot of humor, both intentional and subversive. The film doesn’t whitewash any of the original novella’s patently racist and elitist attitude. Kipling wrote of British characters who were superior to the “savages” they conquered, and that’s exactly the attitude the characters in the movie have. it’d be offensive, if their antiquated attitudes weren’t hilarious by modern standards.
Mentioning that Sean Connery and Michael Caine rocked their roles is a redundant exercise, but it bears mentioning that it’s a treat to see them play off each other, and they really do give the impression of being life-long partners and friends. They’re cocky, charming and full of swagger, it’s a joy to see them in action. Saeed Jaffrey as Billy Fish is also very likeable, and hilarious in how much of a subservient go-getter he is(again, the British conquering the “savages”). Christopher Plummer, though not having much screen time, is great at portraying Kipling himself, amused at Carnehan and Dravot’s bravado but also deeply concerned that they’re biting off more than the can chew with their endeavor.
The Man Who Would Be King is a fun-as-hell old school adventure flick, and its charming lead actors and masterful direction by Huston have quite deservedly made it a classic. Highly recommended.
FLASH POINT (Dou Fo Sin in Cantonese, 2007)
Directed by: Wilson Yip
Starring: Donnie Yen, Louis Koo, Collin Chou, Xing Yu, Ray Lui, Fan Bing-Bing
Before I go on to the review, I want to do a teeny tiny essay to give it a foundation, so bare with me.
The martial arts genre in film has a very curious place when it comes to criticism. The definition of what a good martial arts movie is actually places things like story and character development second to fight choreography, camera work and pacing. This is pretty funny, because when martial arts are portrayed in other media(television, books, comics and sometimes video games), story and characters actually do have importance equal to the other considerations. So why is that? Why are we so forgiving of martial arts film when we’re not as forgiving of it in other media?
Well, a variety of reasons, which we’ll tackle per medium. In the case of television, there’s both a limitation in terms of time constraints(because of the shorter time format of a weekly show and the schedule of filming them) and more freedom(because a story can be better developed over the total time of a show). This means that fighting can’t be the focus of the show entirely because it’d quickly become monotonous. Also, with the longer format over time, you can slowly build characters into a whole while not limiting the action.
In the case of books, it’s simply not feasible to focus on the fighting because of how visual the concept of martial arts is. It’s really not easy to describe a fight step by step in a book without boring the reader to tears over how the story’s basically stopped cold until the fight’s done. While other forms of fighting, like dueling or military action, can be pretty well translated to the written page, martial arts are very difficult to portray in text.
In the case of comics, we have a combination of the problems of both TV shows and books. Just like TV, comics are a short-individually-but-long-over-time visual format, so focusing exclusively on the fighting can result in bored readers. In fact, this is one of the biggest complaints manga fans have over many martial arts manga, like Bleach, Naruto and Battle Angel: Last Order, that there’s so much fighting over such a long time that the comics become unbearably dull. But also, like books, martial arts comics have a hard time showing the movement and execution of moves. To portray a martial arts move in loving detail in a comic book would eat up the panel count. that’s why martial arts in comic books tend to be more fantastic in nature and use loads of shortcuts. Thus you have things like fireballs being chucked around and using a bazillion drawn fists to portray a character punching in quick succession.
Of any medium, it’s video games that best emulate the relationship with martial arts that film has. You can focus a game exclusively on fighting and have it work as long as it’s entertaining, which is an entire genre of game, the Fighting game. You can literally have NO story and the barest inkling of character as long as the game offers variety and tight gameplay. However, video games can also offer an experience similar to TV, in having a longer narrative and character development. indeed, a game can have a MASSIVELY longer narrative than any TV show. Take the RPG Xenogears, for example. It has martial arts as an integral part of the game, both inside and outside the robots, but it’s story and game time can clock in at hundreds of hours. A TV series would have to last several seasons to even come close to that length. In this case, games that are not Fighting games are subject to the same rules as TV in terms of story and characters. I didn’t mention the fact that one of the advantages video games have is that they are interactive, cause that’s a big duh.
And so we come back to film. Film, when compared to all the other formats, is short, usually not clocking longer than 2 hours(massive epics like Red Cliff notwithstanding). They tend to have a longer development cycle, too, since filming is not constrained by a weekly format like TV. It is much more appropriate for representing martial arts in action than both comics and books, and the extra time for editing and post-production results in a much glossier, spectacular product than TV. Basically, as a non-interactive entertainment medium, film is the one most appropriate for showcasing martial arts in action. This results in martial arts fans being MUCH more forgiving to a film’s faults in terms of narrative as long as the fighting’s sound. One of the phrases I am sure you’ve heard to describe a martial arts movie is this: “Well, the story’s not really that impressive, but the fights are AWESOME!”
Well, how is Flash Point then? Well, the story’s not really that impressive, but the fights are AWESOME!
The story: Inspector Ma(Donnie Yen) is a Hong Kong policeman in pursuit of a gang of Vietnamese smugglers, led by a trio of brothers: violent Tiger(Xing Yu), suave Archer(Ray Lui) and leader Tony(Collin Chou). Among their gang is one of their lieutenants, Wilson(Louis Koo), who’s actually an undercover cop and part of Ma’s investigation. Wilson’s undercover work is slowly getting to him, but Ma keeps encouraging him to continue for a breakthrough in the investigation. Lucky for Wilson, he has Judy(Fan Bing-Bing), a loving girl who keeps him centered. Eventually, a breakthrough does come for an arrest of the gang, but Wilson is found out and almost killed. Now Ma and Wilson have to try not only to arrest the Vietnamese smugglers, but also try to protect their loved ones from retaliation.
Yeah, like I said, the story’s nothing you haven’t seen before. But also like I said in that essay on top, martial arts movies are judged differently, so let’s review the film on those merits. The story works well to establish the set pieces of the movie. The heroes are likeable, the villains are hateable, and the plot works, generic as it might be. I do have to point out that it surprises me that the plot be so generic considering the director’s Wilson Yip, who directed Donnie Yen in the epic Ip Man films, which are outstanding in both martial arts AND plot.
As for the action, wow. When you see a Jackie Chan film, you expect kung fu comedy and insane stunts, when you see a Jet Li film, you expect beautiful fight choreography and floaty wire work. But this is a Donnie Yen film, and what you get with him is ridiculously brutal fights. Yen has always stood out for wanting his fight scenes to be as authentic as possible, and as such he choreographs them based on modern martial arts, specifically MMA. This results in making the viewer cringe at the action on screen. Joints get broken, faces bruised, noses turned into dripping messes, heads supplexed into furniture, it’s seriously great. Specifically, the fight halfway through the movie between Yen and Xing Yu and the final fight between him and Collin Chou are insane. The movie also has some great action setpieces that are not martial arts, like Yen chasing Xing Yu before their fight, and a shootout at a coastal shantytown near the end of the movie. Throughout the entire film, the camera work is rock solid and the fight choreography fast and furious. The movie even has an outtake reel during the credits showing Yen and co. practicing their choreography and filming the movie.
When all’s said and done, Flash Point is just your standard martial arts film, but it’s elevated over other fare because of how excellent the action is. Don’t expect a story to move you to tears, but do expect a hell of a fun ride.
Behold: my first review on a movie that’s still in theaters! Shit just got REAL, son!
DJANGO UNCHAINED (2012)
Directed by: Quentin Tarantino
Starring: Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz, Leonardo DiCaprio, Samuel L. Jackson, Kerry Washington
***SPOILER WARNING: IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN THE MOVIE FIRST, GO AND WATCH IT BEFORE READING, AS THERE ARE MINOR SPOILERS IN THIS REVIEW.***
I’m gonna sum up this movie with just one sentence: this is Quentin Tarantino’s best movie, hands down.
No, seriously. this movie is his magnum opus. His masterpiece. This is the one movie of his which all his following movies will be graded from, and the movie that will be discussed in hushed, reverential tone. This movie is FUCKING AMAZING.
The story: Dr. King Schultz(Christoph Waltz) is a failed dentist, but very successful bounty hunter. on the hunt for a trio of fugitives, he eventually buys(in no easy, orderly fashion) a slave by the name of Django(Jamie Foxx). Django was a slave in a plantation where the fugitives Schultz is looking for used to work, and knows their faces intimately. Schultz tells Django that he is NOT his slave, he’s merely using him for information on the fugitives’ looks, since Schultz doesn’t know what they look like, and once he gets his quarry Django will receive a portion of the money and walk a free man. Django agrees, and this is the first step towards a deep friendship with Schultz, who eventually makes Django his partner in bounty hunting. Pretty soon, they’re not only cleaning up the South left and right, Django becomes a formidable pistolero in the process.
During the course of their friendship, Schultz eventually learns that Django had a wife, Brumhilda(Kerry Washington), and that they were both runaway slaves who were sold separately as punishment for their escape attempt. Schultz comes to an agreement with Django: Django continues to be Schultz’s partner in bounty hunting through the winter and he’ll help Django find his wife. Django accepts, and eventually they find out that Brumhilda was sold to the Candyland Estate, a plantation known for its extensive and brutal practice of slavery for generations, and its current estate owner is the not-as-charming-and-refined-as-he-seems-to-be Calvin Candie(Leonardo DiCaprio). Candie is an enthusiast of mandingo fighting(using Black slaves in human cock fights), so Schultz fashions a plan: he and Django will masquerade as being interested in buying a mandingo from Candie, and in the process buy Brumhilda back. They buy Brumhilda first, then claim they’ll go get the rest of the money for the mandingo, but then bail and never be heard from again, and since Brumhilda’s name is on the buyer receipts, she’d be legally free.
However, once they get to the estate, their plan is found out by Stephen(Samuel L. Jackson), an old slave who serves as Calvin’s majordomo and counselor. Stephen is the worst kind of man: a slave who’s lived comfortably all his life on account of being a servant in his masters’ house and who looks down on all other slaves. He rats the plan to Candie. Cue shit hitting the fucking fan.
As this is a Quentin Tarantino film, there’s things you already expect from it: cursing like a motherfucker, witty throwaway dialogue, oodles of violence, etc. But here’s the kicker: Tarantino is actually subverting himself with this film. All the cursing is justified because of the setting(the Deep South two years before the Civil War), so all the N-Bombs being dropped are exactly how white people would refer to Black people in that era. The dialogue is NOT throwaway, with every line being necessary to the narrative. The violence is more crude and less theatrical, meant in many instances to make us uncomfortable of watching it. All the things that make a Tarantino film are there, but much more justified and masterfully played. The camerawork, as expected of a Tarantino film, is tight and wonderfully shot, being handled by longtime collaborator Robert Richardson, and the soundtrack is, as always, AWESOME. I’m also VERY pleased that all the violence and bloodshed in the movie is practical effects, though I wasn’t surprised to see that one of the cameos in the movie is, appropriately enough, Tom Savini. I wouldn’t be surprised if he had a hand behind the scenes on the effects department.
With this movie, Tarantino has finally fixed one of the things that’s always bugged me about his style, even with me being a fan: the pacing. Tarantino’s dialogue-heavy style leads to awesome character moments, but it also has a tendency to grind the movie to a halt(the worst offender being Death Proof), but this movie finally NAILS it. When the movie’s flying, the dialogue is fast, witty and funny. When it slows down, it is meditative or meant to build tension. There’s loads of talking in this movie, but none of it feels forced or overstays its welcome, and even though the flick’s 2 hours 45 minutes, it wasn’t a drag at any moment. This is obviously in part because of the editing, and editor Fred Raskin seriously did an outstanding job.
The movie also has LOADS of awesome cameos and minor roles, so Spot the Celebrity can certainly be played wonderfully with this flick. Don Johnson, the aforementioned Savini, James Remar, Zoe Bell, Jonah Hill, Walton Goggins, Robert Carradine and Michael Parks all appear, to name a few, but the one that made my inner fanboy squee was Franco Nero, the ORIGINAL Django from the classic Italian spaghetti western, and there’s a joke between them that will make any fanboy laugh.
And now we go to the acting: A_M_A_Z_I_N_G. Jamie Foxx is on his A-game in this movie: Django is made of awesome. Even when he was a slave, there was intensity and rebellion in him, and when free and able to hunt down white men for a living, he takes to it with glee. There’s also always a deep intensity to him, even during the quiet moments(or better said, ESPECIALLY on the quiet moments). Christoph Waltz, as always, is ridiculously charming and witty, and is easily the most likeable character in the film, every bit the equal of both Django as a character and Jamie Foxx as an actor. Kerry Washington, while her role is smaller than the men’s, makes an effective damsel in distress with an edge. She’s not helpless because of being useless, she’s helpless because of the brutality of the environment she’s trapped within. Leonardo DiCaprio probably had the most fun in his role, as he destroys the scenery one bite at a time. He’s larger than life and deliciously fun to hate.
Many people right now are acclaiming Christoph Waltz’s performance as one of the best in the film, and rightfully so, as it was awesome. But to me, THE performance of the movie is none other than Samuel L. Jackson. Holy shit, is this role ever a departure from his usual roles, and it is incredible. His character is even MORE morally bankrupt than DiCaprio’s, being a slave who’s perfectly fine with being a slave, as it has led him to live a privileged life, and treats all other slaves as beneath him. He was a slave to his master, his master’s father, and his father before him, and he thanks Jesus for it. No one in the movie calls a slave a “nigger”(there, I said it, flame away) with as much vile and contempt. He instantly dislikes Django on account of him refusing to be treated as second class(he even calls him “uppity” in one part, holy shit). He plays a fool in front of his master’s guests, but behind closed doors he’s a Machiavellian counselor. He not only betrays his fellow Black man when he finds out Django’s plan, he actually believes it’s the right thing to do. To perfectly describe you this character, imagine The Boondocks' Uncle Ruckus, but not played for laughs. Yes, it’s as frightening and wrong as it sounds. Samuel L. Jackson’s Stephen is an even MORE despicable villain than DiCaprio’s Candie, which is not only quite a feat in and of itself, but it’s also a feat on account of Samuel L. Jackson being unlikeable. Trust me, you’ll want this character to die horribly.
The movie is already causing controversy for many reasons: the N-Bomb gets dropped hard and often, the violence is downright brutal, the slavery is portrayed crudely and inhumanly. Well guess what? THAT WAS THE POINT. Tarantino’s not whitewashing history here, the Deep South pre-Reconstruction was a BRUTAL place for the Black man. Django’s story is, in part, an allegory of Black America’s struggle against white oppression, and I for one felt that it was not offensive, it was downright empowering. A Black man is freed and he becomes a legend, managing to succeed when the odds are grossly stacked against him. Lemme put it to you this way: extremist Blacks have criticized the film for supposedly exploiting the concept of slavery, and extremist WHITES have criticized the film for supposed anti-white bigotry. I’ll just go out and say that both these sides are wrong and fucking retarded. Yes, slavery is portrayed as inhuman and exploitative, because it IS inhuman and exploitative. The movie has no anti-white message, one of the heroes(and probably the most moral and benign character in the movie) is a whiter-than-Wonderbread German man. And a white man who points out how inhuman slavery and those who practice it are. So to all of you who criticize this film on those fronts, please stop drinking the Kool-Aid.
Django Unchained was a JOY to watch. it’s both my favorite movie this year and my favorite Tarantino movie. Tarantino has, in my opinion, outdone himself and crafted a masterpiece of a film. Awesome spaghetti western, awesome revenge flick, awesome drama, awesome action flick, awesome comedy, it embodies many genres and is an excellent example of all of them. I beseech you to watch this flick, it’s a treat for any serious movie enthusiast. My highest recommendation.
Oh, and Jamie Foxx does full frontal in one scene. Mr. Foxx, you have balls, pun intended.
ALTERED STATES (1980)
Directed by: Ken Russell
Starring: William Hurt, Blair Brown, Bob Balaban, Charles Haid, Thaao Penghlis
Few directors have been as correctly labeled as a genius and a madman as Ken Russell. Controversial and acclaimed in equal degree, Russell basically made it his life’s work to both bedazzle audiences and push their buttons. He’s widely regarded as being the first British director to divorce himself from strict realism and try for the exuberant, colorful style prevalent in other countries like France, Italy, and yes, Hollywood. His movies are extravagant, psychedelic and thought-provoking. Oh, and controversial as all hell. His 1971 film The Devils, based on the novel The Devils of Loudun by Aldous Huxley, is, to this day, impossible to get in its original, uncut form and is still discussed, admired and condemned in every rung of academia where it’s been analyzed. His movies based on famous composers are both fascinating portraits of the men whose lives they portray and masterpieces of psychedelia.
And that is possibly the most appropriate description to both Altered States and Russell’s filmography as a whole: psychedelic. I personally don’t partake of psychedelic drugs for myriad reasons, but I have it on good authority that his movies BLOW MINDS when seen while high. And honestly, I didn’t even need the drugs to get my mind filled with fuck by Altered States, it’s a wonderfully weird movie.
Altered States is the story of Edward Jessup(William Hurt), an Abnormal Psychology professor whose particular field of study is altered mental states. Just that fact is enough to give you a hint of what’s to come. Jessup is not merely knowledgeable in his area of study, he is a bonafide genius in his field. He is also quite radical and obsessed with his field of interest, to the point that he could be considered a high-functioning autistic. He is passionate towards his studies and experimentation, but blunt and awkward in his interaction with others. It is this passion for his work, however, which makes Emily(Blair Brown), a fellow scientist, be fascinated by him, and the two eventually marry and have children together. However, Eddie’s single-minded obsession eventually strains the relationship, and they divorce under amicable terms. Emily, however, is secretly devastated by the divorce, as she is still madly in love with Eddie.
Eddie’s theory on altered states is that they are actually as real and valid as our regular waking state. After all, we do not have fake fear when being scared by a hallucination or delusion. If those altered states can cause real emotions and impact on our psyche, what’s to say they’re not some kind of glimpse into something beyond? This theory is, of course, highly controversial, but Eddie’s colleague Arthur Rosenberg(Bob Balaban) believes it has enough validity and potential to become Eddie’s right-hand man in his experiments. Eddie’s primary tools of experimentation are sensory deprivation tanks and mind-altering drugs.
(This mimics the experiments of John Lilly, the famous neuroscientist who studied forms of consciousness with similar methods, including inventing the very first sensory deprivation tank. He was also friends with guys like Allen Ginsberg and Timothy Leary, so that also gives you an idea of the kind of guy he was.)
Eddie progresses in his experiments, but he feels that he needs some kind of breakthrough in his work. This breakthrough, apparently, comes from an acquaintance of his, Eduardo Echevarria(Thaao Penghlis). Eduardo is studying similar theories to Eddie’s in the context of spirit journeys, and is heavily involved in research of Mexican shamanic priests and the psychedelic drug they use for their meditation. Eddie begs Eduardo to take him to meet the shamans, and they both travel to Mexico for the fateful meeting. Eddie is accepted by the shamans and invited to participate in their ritual, and when participating in their ritual Eddie ends up in the absolute most powerful altered state he’s so far been able to achieve after ingesting the drug. When Eddie wakes up, he realizes that some of the things he thinks he hallucinated while on his trip actually happened, that many of the images he saw were abstract representations of his actions during the trip, and he decides to bring the drug back to America for study, and to use it in conjunction with the sensory deprivation tank. Arthur reluctantly agrees to help him, but another colleague, Mason(Charles Haid) is adamantly opposed to the experimentation on account of the danger of experimenting with an unknown drug and amplifying its effects through the sensory deprivation tank. Mason’s fears are well-founded, as Eddie ends up almost dying from one of the trips, but something more sinister is happening: it seems that the experimentation with such powerful forces is actually changing Eddie physically. Apparently, he is tapping into something beyond human understanding, something more… primal.
The first thing I’m going to mention about this film is that it is visually FUCKING AMAZING. I was flabbergasted at both the excellent use of the camera and the awesome effects, especially considering this film was made with technology from 1980. it seriously looks much more recent in terms of visuals. The editing and pacing of the film are also something I really liked. The film, in its more serious moments, is slow and methodical, dare I say serene. These are the scenes that establish the characters’ motivations and philosophy, and while slow, they’re never boring, which is an accomplishment. Every character is supremely well realized. Eddie is a FASCINATING protagonist. He is flawed, but not in a way that makes him unlikeable, and we’re genuinely swept up in his fervor. This is in part from the excellent writing of the character and in part from the AWESOME performance by William Hurt. I’ve always despaired of the fact that William Hurt is such an amazing actor but doesn’t receive as much spotlight as other actors of his generation, and I’d use this film as a perfect example of why that sucks. Blair Brown does an equally excellent performance as Emily, Eddie’s estranged wife. She has an interesting duality between being an abandoned wife who yearns for her husband’s love, yet actually understanding her husband’s obsession on account of being a scientist herself. Bob Balaban as Arthur does a good job, but he’s really just there to serve as Eddie’s helper in experimentation. This contrasts heavily with Charles Haid’s Mason, who is INTENSE AS FUCK in serving as both a voice of reason and an antagonist to a certain extent. He is not a bad guy, and in fact we can easily sympathize with his opposition to Eddie’s experimentation, as it is fueled by genuine concern for his colleague over both the danger of his experiments and his fragile mental state.
If there’s one negative thing I can say about the film is that I found its ending too neat and happy for my taste. Up to that point, the film had been a pure “meddling in God’s domain” type of film, so I would have expected a downer ending like in, say, The Fly(in fact, if this film had been directed by Cronenberg, it would TOTALLY have had that downer ending). This is, however, a minor gripe, and the happiness of the ending is to an extent justified, as it is the culmination of Eddie and Emily’s relationship, which gives it finality.
Altered States is an awesome film. It’s kinda hard to gauge what sort of person to recommend it to, as it is a very weird film and not for everybody, but those who love intensely visual and visceral films will definitely love it. I sure as hell did, and I’ll gladly recommend it to anyone who likes cerebral sci-fi.
Directed by: Tetsuya Nakashima
Starring: Takako Matsu, Yukito Nishii, Kaoru Fujiwara, Ai Hashimoto
It certainly took me long enough to review a Japanese film, but the fact is that I’m completely to blame, because to be honest, I’ve been fatigued by the Japanese lately.
The fact is that any fans who study well the present situation in Japan can easily see that there’s a serious creative crisis in the land of the rising sun. A decade ago, Japan was acclaimed by fanfolk as one of the most dynamic and interesting sources of fan fare. From videogames to anime to film, Japan was churning out loads of interesting genre fare, and it was also releasing among it many thoughtful films. And through it all, Japan kept a very clear cultural identity in their fare. Japanese film and genre fare is OBVIOUSLY Japanese. But the last few years, amongst the many fandoms, “Japanese” has become synonymous with “formulaic”. With the exception of the most dedicated of the anime fandom, fans of pretty much every medium and genre can testify that the Japanese have been lacking lately. Many of the more famous anime studios have been shut down, movie output to the world has slowly dwindled, videogames have become stale and repetitive. This has also resulted in a sort of xenophobic withdrawal: Japanese fare is pretty much now made exclusively for the Japanese, only available there and of themes that are too foreign for international audiences.
This may sound like I’m hating on Japanese media, but trust me, I sincerely WANT to love it still. I grew on anime since I was 4 years old(back in 1984, for those wondering). I have quite a few anime series of which I am a deep, faithful fan(many mecha anime, Lupin the 3rd, Saint Seiya and Fist Of the North Star being my favorites). I am an adoring fan of directors like Kinji Fukasaku and Takashi Miike. Many of my all-time favorite game franchises are Japanese. But sadly, in all these fronts, Japan has been very sparse in providing me fare to get excited about. Lately, Spain, Britain and South Korea have been the foreign countries which have provided me the greatest enjoyment filmically, and as I mentioned, this saddens me. Japan, like any other country, can produce cinematic crap, but there was a time when even their crap had a manic energy or a cunning subtlety that still made it worthwhile, and when they did GOOD flicks, they were OUTSTANDING.
I am happy to say that Tetsuya Nakashima’s Confessions is an OUTSTANDING film.
The story: Yuko Moriguchi(Takako Matsu), a mid-school teacher, addresses her class with the news that it will be her last day with them as their teacher, to which the class reacts with joy, as they all have resentment towards her for her seeming coldness as a pedagogue. However, the mood changes from joy to interest to dread to horror as her retirement speech continues: Yuko is retiring because she had lost her daughter in what was ruled an accident(she drowned in the school’s swimming pool). Yuko relates of her life with her daughter, and that she had not died accidentally, but of foul play, and that the culprits were two students of the class. This kind of news obviously causes a stir in the class, especially when Yuko hints that the culprits are the class ace student Shuya(Yukito Nishii) and the unpopular and bumbling Naoki(Kaoru Fujiwara). Yuko further exposits that even though she knows it was them, she couldn’t really do anything about it, since not only did the police rule her daughter’s death an accident, but Japanese law actually protects minors from prosecution, so they’d still get away with the murder even if discovered. So Yuko leaves the class with one final revelation: she actually laced milk that Shuya and Naoki were drinking with blood from Yuko’s husband. Blood which is infected with HIV.
This setup puts into motion a deluge of tragic events for all the players involved, and the movie becomes both a character piece and a revenge flick. Both Shuya and Naoki are deeply affected by the events of that day, with Naoki becoming an insane recluse and Shuya being bullied and humiliated in school. Shuya’s bullying is especially chilling, because the flick doesn’t pull any punches in showing that kids can be cruel at a level beyond any rational adult. Shuya eventually does have some respite from the bullying when he is befriended by Mizuki(Ai Hashimoto), a fellow student whose detachment from the rest of the class allows her to actually appreciate how much abuse Shuya is getting, and they become confidants and lovebirds. However, this also gives Mizuki insight into Shuya’s mind and actions, revealing that underneath the honor student facade lies a manipulating, sadistic mind. The movie uses the format of “confessions” to move the story: every chapter is narrated by one of the players, describing his/her point of view of the events and how they affect them emotionally. The movie basically allows us to become intimate with its characters on a very deep level, and this is part of what makes the narrative so effective. In this way, it slowly builds the story towards the culmination of Yuko and Shuya’s ultimate confrontation of victim and killer, and the payoff is IMMENSELY satisfying and shocking. The ending to this film seriously left a deep impression on me, and that speaks volumes of the movie’s greatness.
On a technical level, the movie is AMAZINGLY shot. Director Tetsuya Nakashima knows how to frame a shot beautifully, and his decision to mute the colors of the film(only allowing color in very deliberate and thematically relevant scenes) gives the film a feeling of cold, but bubbling with intensity underneath. There’s also one particular scene where shots are used in reverse slow motion, and the effect is jaw-dropping. This guy knows how to make the camera do his bidding. The acting all around is great, and adds to the mood of cynicism and underlying dread of the film.
The film also covers particular themes that are very much a part of Japanese culture for better or worse: the immense disconnect between youth and adults, the crisis of parental abandonment and youth delinquency and bullying. This film is cynical in the extreme: joy is practically non-existent, and fatalism abounds. The movie constantly questions both its characters and audience what is worth living for, and indeed if life itself is worth living. We’re also asked to judge how much of a person’s bad actions can be blamed on him and how much is actually the fault of society, of parents and teachers. This all results in a film that is not happy at all. You can actually count with one hand how many moments of true, innocent joy there are in the film, while cynicism is practically the entirety of its running time.
While the movie is dark, it thankfully avoids the trap many Japanese films have been guilty of lately of going way over the top on the violence, gore and black humor to seem edgy and extreme. This movie is not funny, not overtly violent and not gory(just some blood, nothing really extreme). It is very subtle visually, and that I am thankful for. Instead, its intensity lies in its plot and mood, but is, again, very subtle about it. The final act of the film hits with that much more impact because of how subdued and restrained the rest of the film is, and it ensures the movie’s payoff is immensely satisfying.
This movie was chosen by the Japanese as its representative for Best Foreign Film at the 2011 Academy Awards, and it’s easy to see why. It didn’t win, and it’s obvious when you see it why this is the case, since this is an emotionally draining film too negative in mood for what the Oscar committee usually looks for. but that’s their loss, cause this movie is an incredible experience, and I exhort everyone to see it. Highly recommended.
Directed by: Ridley Scott
Starring: Noomi Rapace, Charlize Theron, Michael Fassbender, Idris Elba, Guy Pearce, Logan Marshall-Green, Sean Harris, Rafe Spall
Yeah, yeah, I’m late to the party. See how easy it is to see a flick when it comes out if you don’t have a car, butthole.
So yeah, Prometheus. Legendarily lambasted as the movie where science lost and Ridley Scott jumped the shark. Everyone and their mother has reviewed this flick, and pretty much it’s universally panned by internet reviewers as an idiotically plotted mess and an example of incredibly wasted potential. Well, now it’s time to give my two cents about it. However, I will point out one thing about my review: I do not care if the movie’s an Alien prequel or not. Too many people have attacked the movie because it doesn’t make sense within the timeline and plot of the Alien films, when you really should judge a film on its own merits. So basically, my review will only pertain to what is on-screen, not any details outside it.
And I’m just gonna get this out of the way: I didn’t hate this movie. I didn’t think it was a GOOD movie, but I honestly can’t hate it with the venom other people who’ve reviewed it before me had. What I found the movie was underwhelming, and THAT is the biggest crime this movie commits: it’s only ok, when it could have been AMAZING, and you could FEEL that there was the seed for greatness underneath it all. It’s incredibly wasted potential.
The plot is thus: archeologists Elizabeth Shaw and Charlie Holloway(Noomi Rapace and Logan Marshall-Green, respectively), after years of investigation, find a link between many different archeological sites on Earth from cultures which have never been in contact with each other: strange glyphs and the image of a giant man, which point to visits from an alien race and coordinates for their point of origin. Upon investigating further, the glyphs(which are a constellation map) actually point them to a planet which possesses a moon that has telltale signs of being able to sustain life. With backing from the Weyland Corporation’s CEO, Peter Weyland(Guy Pearce), a ship, the titular Prometheus, is sent with a crew of various scientific minds towards the aforementioned moon. Its mission: first contact with whom Shaw and Holloway call the Engineers: the possible creators of humanity.
Read that paragraph again and tell me that’s not an AMAZING setup for a sci-fi film. The film elegantly sets up its plot and already has us asking questions. Deep questions. THE questions. Where did we come from? Were we really created? Why were we created? Why did our creators leave us to our fate? If we were created, what about God? Some of these questions were first asked by our ancestors as they huddled around fires inside caves thousands of years ago, and are still asked by the best and brightest of us today. People like Carl Sagan, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Richard Dawkins and many others have asked these same questions at one moment or another. The first ten minutes of the film, were riveting. The film firmly grabbed me by my balls. I WANTED DESPERATELY for this movie to be good. Anyway, after a two-year journey, the Prometheus finally arrives at its destination, and the ship’s crew awakens from cryostasis. Assisted by the ship’s android, Davide(Michael Fassbender), the crew then readies for its mission, led by Captain Janek(Idris Elba) and supervised by Weyland employee Meredith Vickers(Charlize Theron).
And then, the movie started to turn stupid.
First of all, basically, none of the members of the mission have actually been introduced to each other and the nature of the mission itself was kept a secret from the crew until the last moment. Flat what? So, what, these guys just agreed to be part of a mission where they’d be flown far away from home for two years without even knowing what the mission entailed? Not only that, but there’s basically no military or security personnel on the mission. BIG WHAT?! So, what, there’s the possibility of first contact with an alien race and the mission doesn’t even have a security detail?! What if the aliens are hostile? What if there’s hostile fauna? What if there’s a misunderstanding with the aliens and there’s a need for defense? What if the aliens have al-Qaeda-type extremists who, while not the majority of the aliens, are still fanatically violent towards humans?
Um, this isn’t nitpicking, these are actual concerns and situations that would be considered by any mission of this magnitude. This is, at its most basic, common sense. And these are supposed to be the brightest scientific minds on Earth. Yet, they gleefully sign up to go to an alien world unprotected, dismissing the lack of military support as the mission being scientific in nature and not military. These people, my friends, are lambs going to the slaughter. And that is the most infuriating aspect about this film: the conceptual framework is riveting, but the plot is acted out by idiots. Not only do characters act stupid, they act contradictory to their purpose.
In one particular sequence, the mission’s geologist and biologist, Fifield and Millburn(Sean Harris and Rafe Spall, respectively), are freaked out by finding an alien corpse and decide to head back to the ship, get lost and are eventually attacked by an alien creature. Now, as I described it, nothing stands out as particularly out of place or illogical about the sequence, right? Well, Fifield, the geologist, uses a series of spheres to map out the structure they’re exploring, so he’s actually in charge of creating a map of the place. The guy who created the map of the structure got them lost inside it. And then, when they find the creature, a sort of snake-like thing, Millburn, the biologist, actually starts to coo-coo ga-ga it. The thing hisses and opens up its face, and he decides to poke it. ARE YOU FUCKING SHITTING ME? You are a biologist, your main area of study is LIFE, an alien creature does the universal signal for “leave me the fuck alone” and you FUCKING POKE IT? AAAARGH!!! And the movie is full of little bits like this that make you groan out loud. Characters do things that are flat-out retarded and we can see their demise coming a mile away.
Prometheus, like Cosmopolis, is a movie that is betrayed by its script, but while Cosmopolis is marred by characters that don’t act like real people, Prometheus is marred by characters that act real fucking stupid. And this is a total shame, because the movie actually has a load of things going for it. First of all, the movie is visually STUNNING. Ridley Scott, as always, uses the camera masterfully to really immerse you in the goings-on of the film, and this movie OOZES atmosphere. The visual effects team also did an incredible job with all the creature effects, technology and sets. The costuming department also deserves kudos, cause the suits the characters wear look AWESOME. Both the visual effects and costuming people are the guys I’d go to if I wanted to make a movie based on, say, Dead Space or Mass Effect. One particular scene that illustrates perfectly how this comes together is a scene where David finds a holographic projection room, and a hologram shows the Engineers as they find Earth. The scene is awe-inspiring in the way only the best sci-fi can. We’re talking Enterprise-on-its-docking-bay, Star-Destroyer-following-the-Rebel-ship, Christopher-Reeve-flying-as-Superman awe-inspiring. Powerful as all hell. That scene genuinely gave me goosebumps. If there’s only one gripe I have about the film visually is that the old man makeup on Guy Pearce is fucking awful. Johnny Knoxville’s old man makeup in Jackass is more convincing.
On the acting side, the movie is superbly acted. It’s not the actors’ fault the script is stupid, and they give it their all. Specifically, and quite surprising for me, Michael Fassbender’s role as David was hands down the most interesting character in the film. I don’t have the nerd crush on Fassbender that the rest of the internet seems to have, I actually find his acting to be run-of-the-mill or downright dull. In A Dangerous Method, I found him actually making me not care about the plot because of his cold, wooden performance. But funnily enough, that same subdued acting was an asset for his role as David, on account of him playing a character who’s not human and reacts to the situations happening around him with detached interest. I give you credit, Fassbender, you really hooked me with your performance. Everyone else does great acting as well. Noomi Rapace is always gorgeous and intense, although she plays a more vulnerable character in this film when compared to tougher characters like she played in Guy Ritchie’s second Sherlock Holmes film or The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. Idris Elba is charming and likeable as always, and Charlize Theron can act the stone-cold bitch in her sleep. Everyone else did a good job. As I said, the film was well-directed and well-acted.
But now, I’m gonna spew vile at the writers. No, I didn’t hate the film with a passion, but yes, I’ll hate the film’s writers with a passion. The movie’s writers are Jon Spaihts and Damon Lindelof. Before this, Spaihts scripted the absolute fucking shit-fest that is The Darkest Hour(that invisible alien invasion movie)… and nothing else. NOTHING. Lindelof is known to sci-fi fans as a producer and writer for Lost, and any fan of that show can easily point out he was the writer when Lost headed straight to the shitter. These are two guys that have NO BUSINESS scripting a high-concept movie such as this, let alone a movie directed by Ridley Scott. Their script is idiotic, their characters stupid, and the movie asks a bazillion questions without answering any of them. I understand a movie doesn’t need to tell me everything about it straight up, but it shouldn’t insult me by refusing to answer any questions I have and expect me to remain interested.
When all’s said and done, Prometheus is a film that has a fascinating concept, expert direction, gorgeous visuals and excellent acting, while having a truly execrable script. These two extremes meet in the middle and result in a film that’s merely mediocre, which is a damn, damn shame. Still, I will give this film credit: I’ll go see the sequel if and when it comes out, just to see if the concept can be salvaged and the questions answered. Cause as I said, the seeds for greatness were there, they just didn’t fertilize them with a worthy script. I guess in the end the movie can be considered an amusing diversion, but not really worthy of being considered amongst the greatest of sci-fi films. Watch it to see what all the fuss is about, but don’t interpret this as me giving it a recommendation.
Directed by: David Cronenberg
Starring: Robert Pattinson, Paul Giamatti, Sarah Gadon, Kevin Durand, Samantha Morton, Juliette Binoche, Emily Hampshire
I never thought I’d say this… I hated a David Cronenberg movie. I hated this fucking movie. Jesus Horatio Christ, I HATED this fucking movie.
Anyway, Cosmopolis is based on a novel by author Don DeLillo. Never heard of him before, not very interested in reading any of his work if the film is any indication of his style. Movie stars Robert Pattinson, pretty much exclusively as all other actors in the flick are there to react to him.
The basic plot(if it can be called that) is this: Pattinson plays Eric Packer, a multi-billionaire asset manager. He wants to get a haircut AT ALL COSTS, so he has his people drive him across Manhattan on a limousine to an old barber who’s a friend of his family. He tries to do this while the President is in town, a famous rapper’s funeral is holding traffic, and there’s a friggin’ anti-capitalist anarchist riot going on, and yet he complains that all this is basically unimportant and he should be magically whisked above it all. During the journey, he coincidentally encounters his wife, Elise(Sarah Gadon), and constantly asks her to have sex with him, but just ends up eating breakfast, lunch and dinner with her instead, since she constantly tells him that she thinks the marriage won’t work and that he smells of sex with other women… cause he has sex with other women. He pretty much fucks every other woman in this flick. The rest of the film he acts like a self-important bored prick. Because of bad decisions, he actually, by the end of the film, is pretty much headed towards financial ruin, and he honestly doesn’t give a fuck. In the ending, a disgruntled former employee(Paul Giamatti) may or may not have killed him, and I don’t give a fuck. Yeah, the plot can be basically summed up as “stinking rich prick gets bored and fucks up his life for shits and giggles.”
Ok, first, the good parts: Cosmopolis, as is expected of Cronenberg, is perfectly shot and paced, and the soundtrack by long-time collaborator Howard Shore is AWESOME(in fact, the ethereal soundtrack mixed with rock riffs reminded me a lot of Crash’s soundtrack, which I fucking loved). And the actors actually do a good job. Not an EXCELLENT job, but their acting was ok.
It’s THE SCRIPT that is absolutely fucking horrid.
First, the plot itself. Look, a fall-from-grace story can be a powerful cautionary tale and a fascinating character study when handled right(there’s a reason Citizen Kane is considered one of the best films of all time). But the character also needs to have redeeming qualities, and it’s the loss of these redeeming qualities to hubris that make the story have impact. If a character has no virtues, we don’t care if he succumbs to his flaws. That’s not tragedy, that’s karma. If the character has what pretty much can be considered an enviable life(riches, power, women dying for your dick) and he himself fucks it up on purpose, well, who gives a shit? That shit should be reserved for the tabloids, not for a movie. And that is the dilemma about this film: it asks us to look into a man’s life as he spirals into self-destruction but doesn’t give us any logical reason to care about it except that he’s the film’s protagonist.
And we go on to the main character: Eric Packer is a totally reprehensible asshole. He supposedly has actual affection and desire for his wife, but he only addresses her with intentions of sex. He even points out in one conversation that he’s actually having a conversation, as if to point out that yes, he’s capable of thinking of something other than sex. This comes off as shallow and full of shit to his wife as it does to the audience. He treats his employees as tools, with no show of care about their well being or even their status as a person. He has sex with an art dealer(Juliette Binoche), and right afterwards steers the conversation to wanting to acquire a famous artist’s work just because he HAS to have it. She reasons with him that that particular piece has historical value and should be made available to everyone, he replies that if he bought it, it’s his and no one else’s to do whatever he wants with it. One of his star employees(Jay Baruchel) is on the border of a nervous breakdown because of overwork and he just keeps badgering him about how good his limo’s information security is. He picks up an employee(Emily Hampshire) in the middle of her day off to make her give him financial advise, and does it WHILE GETTING A PROSTATE EXAM FROM A PERSONAL DOCTOR. The guy has the bluntness of a knife made of cream cheese. Hell, he even talks in the Royal We, the ultimate sign of condescension and entitlement.
In one particular scene, he meets up with a rapper(K’naan) and learns that his favorite rapper just died of a heart condition. Packer seems visibly despaired, giving possible hints of humanity, but then he ruins it by saying that he used to listen to his music on his personal elevator. He sees the rapper’s death as a loss for his musical tastes, not as a human being who has expired and should be mourned for who he was and not for what he did. Later, he has a conversation with his chief of security, who’s spent the entire film constantly warning Packer about attempts on his life and protecting him, and Packer just grabs his gun and shoots him dead. Just because. And he does it in public, with a gun that can only be traced to him. What’s intended to come across as a man losing his grasp on sanity and heading towards his downfall comes off as a guy being an uber-prick to another human being who only had his best interests in mind just because he can get away with it.
Many people have said in positive reviews for this film that Eric Packer is supposed to represent the ugly side of big business, and that the film is, in some way, supposed to represent the indifference of the big companies towards the Occupy movements that have sprung up during our economic recession. I call ABSOLUTE BULLSHIT on that. Packer, by halfway through the film, is actually performing deeds that will bring about his financial ruin on purpose, which no CEO on the planet with half a brain would attempt. We accuse the heads of big business for hoarding money for themselves, always trying to get richer, yet the character that’s supposed to represent them actually does not care if he’s broke? Also, the anti-capitalist rioters are painted in the worst, most bugfuck crazy way possible. They throw dead rats inside restaurants, supposedly trying to raise consciousness to a cause but coming off more as insane zealots who can be considered a legitimate threat to public safety. They spray-paint and attack limousines on the streets. They burn and pillage like the worst of mobs. Hell, one of them even immolates himself as a form of protest, Vietnamese monk-style. Really? A bad economic situation is big enough a cause for protest through SUICIDE? This has a terrible effect on the film: we can’t sympathize with Packer cause he’s a self-absorbed asshole, but we can’t sympathize with the average man either cause he’s fucking insane.
The film also has one characteristic that will make me hate ANY film: pretentiousness. The movie paints itself as having some kind of deep meaning, something to say, yet it’s all psychobabble. In one particular scene, Packer is talking to his chief advisor Vija(Samantha Morton), and she starts on this LONG rant about the nature of money and how it affects the perception and value of time. This would be fascinating stuff… if this were a movie about philosophy. Instead, it’s a character piece about a corporate magnate. Corporate magnates don’t give a shit about their advisors peppering them with philosophical discussion. An advisor is there to advice about the company. So basically, the movie paints the characters as supposed visionaries who have a deeper understanding of the way the world market works because they understand the underlying philosophy behind it. And yet, these visionaries are running a company to the ground and don’t do anything about it. Completely stupid. Hell, Vija even mentions that she doesn’t understand how the financial report screens in Packer’s limo work. HIS CHIEF ADVISOR DOESN’T KNOW HOW TO READ FINANCIAL REPORTS. That’s like hiring an engineer who doesn’t understand basic algebra!! And then, when they go by the immolating protestors, she remarks that it’s “not original”, that setting yourself on fire is nothing new, an imitation. This is supposed to represent how corporate America doesn’t care for the little man, but it just further cements that these are not real people, they are caricatures of what we supposedly believe about corporate America. No rational human being reacts to a man burning alive with indifference.
And that basically is an illustration of my biggest gripe about the entire film: it’s a cartoon. It’s not satire, it’s cartoonish parody. It is not smart, it is pretentious. The characters do not talk at all like human beings, they have a theatrical, snobbish affectation, i.e. artificiality to their speech. I called Eric Packer condescending earlier in the review, but he cannot really be accused of that since he’s SOOOOOO divorced from the average man that he couldn’t possibly even have a frame of reference. The movie hints that he made his company out of humble beginnings and that he was poor before he became powerful, but his attitude is one of such immense entitlement that he comes off more as a royal completely oblivious to the common man than as a man who sold out. The rioters who are supposedly fighting for their rights are merely background noise and more at home in a third-world country than on the streets of New York. The story has all the hallmarks of badly done fanfiction.
The saddest part? Cronenberg himself penned the screenplay. I don’t know how good or bad the book is, but I seriously doubt that it’s as shallow and insipid as the film’s script is. This film is, in my opinion, an awfully done vanity project. As a regular joe, I seriously cannot identify myself with this film on ANY level. I don’t feel it insults my intelligence because the film is not intelligent at all. I don’t feel it represents me as an average person in a bad economy because the characters who are supposed to represent me in the film are caricatures of the worst of anarchists. I don’t feel happy to not be Eric Packer because he’s more like a malfunctioning robot than a flawed human being.
Seriously, Cronenberg, why are you making me hate you? I wasn’t impressed with A Dangerous Method and now you’re actually pissing me off with this flick? PLEASE make your next film a return to form, my heart wouldn’t take another disaster like this.
Because porn stars and indie-lit absolutely make sense together.
I would argue that porn was the first indie and alternative lit. After all, most of writing since the dawn of time has been legalese or religious text. A good dose of porn has been a shot in the arm and a breath of fresh air through many of history’s darkest moments.
Awesome :) Has escrito otras cosas, como cuentos cortos o algo asi? O te enfocas en poesia?
LA HERENCIA VALDEMAR (The Valdemar Legacy in English, Parts 1 and 2, 2010)
Directed by: Jose Luis Aleman
This will be my first Quick Movie Review. This type of review format I will do for movies which I think, to put it bluntly, suck. Keep in mind, this doesn’t mean it was a BAD movie; it could be a good-yet-flawed movie which did not live to the premise’s potential, which is the case here. The bottom line, however, is that I would personally not recommend flicks I review in this format, and I obviously do not believe they merit my usual in-depth review.
La Herencia Valdemar is a two-part film(think Kill Bill) based on H. P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos. That right there was enough for me to have BIG expectations for it, since I’m a huge fan of Lovecraft and the genre he created, cosmic horror. Lovecraft’s work has been (relatively)directly adapted into various movies, like the Re-Animator series, From Beyond, Dagon and even some classic 60s-70s b-movies by schlock master Roger Corman. It has also been a HUGE influence in popular culture beyond direct adaptations, with loads of movie, comic and game series being influenced by him. Needless to say, Lovecraft’s a big deal, and any movie directly referencing him better deliver.
Sadly, La Herencia Valdemar chokes halfway through, making for a very inconsistent film. The first half of it(Part 1, obviously) is actually an excellent flick, a modern-day mystery with a Victorian-era origin steeped in Gothic mood and atmosphere. I finished the first film giddy to watch the second one and see what the payoff was from all that was established in the first film. But the second film just doesn’t feel like it’s the same story. The writing and acting in the second film felt stilted and forced when compared to the first, the pacing became erratic, and the characters fell flat compared to their characterization in the first movie. While the first film felt like an EXTREMELY well-done low budget horror film, the second one felt like a SyFy channel original movie, it’s THAT bad.
This is a damn shame, because La Herencia Valdemar could have become a modern classic of the genre if done well. I simply cannot recommend it; even if the first half was genuinely an entertaining and creepy film, half a movie is not something I tend to enjoy.