Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Entity review

The Entity like all “true life” supernatural adaptations runs a gamut of possible fowl ups from detouring from the recorded accounts to leaning too hard on exploitation for sheer entertainments sake.

The movie’s story by Frank De Felitta from his novel of the same title. So how accurately the film portrays the infamous sexual assaults committed by a ghost relies on Felitta as a biographer. The films direction (Sidney J. Furie, better known for Iron Eagle and Superman IV) is by and large straight faced about the subject matter. Efforts to show the filmmakers commitment to the material come in the raw cruelty of the “attacks” and the one-on-one’s between victim Barbara Hershey and psychologist Ron Silver. The “attacks” are violently choreographed indicating that we are to assume nothing less than the entity is a reality. Funny then that so much time is spent generating evidence of this all being a mental breakdown. We learn of Hershey’s character’s abusive past and early pregnancies, and more, all convincingly professed by Silver. Where we are meant to stand with this paranormal account is up in the air.

This all makes for a unique ghost story at least, but the above mentioned latter fowling is present in the film’s most graphic scenes. Stan Winston provides the FX including (and likely never one of his more respected accomplishments) the illusion of invisible hands groping Hershey’s breasts. I would say the effect is dated, but then I’d have to compare it to something! These scenes are admittedly handled about as well as they possibly could, but a little more restraint would have allowed the viewer to conjure up more chilling images rather than snickers.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Xbox 360 is my TV

I basically don't rent movies anymore, because I can just stream them via netflix on my 360. I feel bad that I'm rarely supporting my local video store anymore, but the selection is large enough I barely need to get up off my ass to watch something. But this got me to thinking about how rarely I use my 360 to game. I almost never do and I barely own a half dozen 360 games. Here's video I made for my Gamespot blog:

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Party Down Review

Party Down is cynical, sexy, funny…but mostly true to life. The Starz produced TV show about a L.A. catering team comprised of wannabe and flunk actors/writers owes a lot to The Office. Hand held cameras: check. Jim and Pam style awkward romance: check, they’re names are Henry and Casey. Hell, there’s even Michael, Dwight, and Ryan-like characters filling in the rest of the cast. The big edge in that department however, is Jane Lynch as Constance. God I love her; she’s goofy, kind, and looks and sounds exactly like Ellen DeGeneres.

Synopsis: Henry, once trying to breaking into Hollywood’s acting ring has given it up after about 10 years only got him a career and pride shattering beer ad gig. He has no choice but to return to his old job from bygone days with Party Down Catering, working under former co-worker Ron (the Michael Scott of the show). The rest of the crew is made up by Kyle, a smooth talking pretty boy who’s not afraid to pimp himself to every possible connection he makes; Roman the arrogant sci-fi nerd/screenwriter; Casey who wants the impossible: to be a good female comedian, and Constance (see above).

It really is hilarious, but often leans towards developing a solid story for the bulk of each episode’s 28 minute running time. This makes for regular surprises, new conflicts, and guest appearances by slightly more famous character actors like J.K. Simmons. I’m nearly down with the first season and hankering for more, so this is a definite recommendation.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

More on Live Journal

I've begun writing on my Live Journal account again. This is where all the original stuff goes-at least the stuff I'm not a ashamed to show to the world. Short stories, essays, and scripts at

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Iceman Review

Iceman is a pleasant little piece of escapism: a straight faced parable of finding a frozen neaderthal who’s still alive. Amazingly with only that simple premise there are a good few surprises and it never gets so coarse as to break it’s calm atmosphere. Comparisons to John Carpenter’s The Thing (which came two years before Iceman’s release) are inevitable and while very sci-fi, Iceman is no horror flick.

Like the cold snowy surroundings it is stoically beautiful. It’s ironically almost like going to a museum; we stare at the exhibition in mild awe, filling in a lot of deliberate gaps with speculation. The Iceman himself (played perfectly by John Lone) is a wonder to watch. The film connects with us with parental sympathies: will our little caveman be ok? Will he make friends? What will be his first words? In this sense the film is very satisfying.

However the note it goes out on is unfortunately ham-fisted not at all poignant. The film is still recommendable as a alternative sci-fi venture more in tune with a Bradbury story than the usual splice with horror or adventure.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Lethal Weapon 3 is a disgrace!

Lethal Weapon 3 is (in retrospect) strangely the black sheep of the franchise. This entry feels more like fan service with only a few moments of genius to justify ever seeing it, even for die hard fans (with no pun or disrespect intended towards Die Hard fans).

The very opening of the film appropriately sets the cheese ball tone for the film: Riggs and Murtaugh, rather than wait for a bomb squad attempt to defuse a bomb in a evacuated building. When they find the bomb they see they only have 8 minutes. So naturally they screw up and the bomb’s timer shoots down in seconds. The building is destroyed and a moment later the bomb squad arrives. Just to reiterate: there are no civilian lives at stake and plenty of time to-if the bomb squad never showed up-carefully decide how to defuse it. It’s as stupid and routine as it sounds with only the spectacle of the demolished building to draw you in.

Most of the movie is just as formulaic with two exceptions. One is the delivery of a non-fodder love interest for Riggs played by Rene Russo who would return in the fourth film. The other is a scene shortly after Murtaugh guns down a 15-year-old gangster. Riggs finds him drunk on his boat and their confrontation is exactly the kind of chemistry that’s supposed to hold us over until the next action beat.

Those exceptions not withstanding, Lethal Weapon 3 is just a waste. The humor is weak(er), the action is rather lacking compared to the other three films, and it just feels like a low commitment vignette in the series rather than a full blown entry. Similar to the Star Trek films, I like to think of the Lethal Weapon series as a trilogy (i.e. movies 1,2, and 3).

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The Crazies Review

Saw the Crazies last night (two nights later than when I was planning to). I’ve been aching for a good horror film and the conclusion I’ve come to after this film and Daybreakers is that nothing beast watching a horror movie at home, with friends or by yourself. Bringing that particular genre of film into your home creates a vulnerability that most of us Horror Fans simply can not surrender at the theater. In that setting we get all snob-like and heavily critical (seriously, Shutter Island didn’t startle or chill me once).

Remember how not only did critics say that Paranormal Activity was better on home video, but the advertisements on TV for the DVD boasted this! We take this for granted, but I think that subconsciously we all agree on this!

But how was The Crazies? Not bad. A classic zombie flick where most of the action happens on a smaller scale (i.e. one character alone in a room with X number of zombies lurking around). This isn’t the goriest horror film recently either which is appreciated, but what the film chooses to show in graphic detail is neither satisfying for zombie slayer fans (like myself) or startling.