Archive for February, 2012

Mary and Max (2009) Review

Posted in Movie reviews - 2000s, Movies with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 26, 2012 by They call me "Mephy"

Mary and Max (2009)

Tagline: Some perfect strangers make good friends.

Promotional movie poster

Surprise blog entry for you guys today (and possibly for the week…). A lot of things can be said about this one, perhaps even relate to some of us. First of all, it is another claymation (stop-motion clay animation), which I will say I enjoy watching because of the plasticine models and miniature props. Second, here is a question: Do you have a pen pal when you were younger (or otherwise, any point in life at all)? Well, some of us would say our life on the internet is, in a way, our little world of pen (well, keyboard, in this case) pals. As long distance goes, it doesn’t always work, but it often leaves us curious about that friend of ours. What are they doing at this hour? Maybe they’re online right now, just waiting for a message from you!

Back to the point, this might be a movie for you if you’ve been in the same situation as this blogger (a handful of people to write to is a different experience than talking in person with people you see everyday), as “Mary and Max (2009)” is a tale about a little girl in Australia, who befriends a man in New York, disagnosed with Aspersger Syndrome and their warm, mutual friendship through words on a white sheets of paper. We go back to Australia 1976, to a town called Mount Waverly, where Mary Daisy Dinkle, a daughter of an alcoholic, kleptomaniac mother and her husband who works at a tea bag factory and has a hobby of stuffing dead birds he find. Mary is a young girl whom finds it hard to fit in in school, being teased by classmates for having an unusual birthmark on her forehead. She has no friends and the only friend she has is her crippled WWII veteran neighbor. Meanwhile in New York, an over weighted man named Max Jerry Horowitz lived a secluded life in an apartment, making little contact with the world around him nor understanding it through his eyes and he too, longs for a friend. Through a lucky fate, Mary finds his name in the yellow pages for New York an decides to write to him, which would change their lives from then on.

Max Jerry Horowitz (voiced by Philip Seymour Hoffman) and Mary Daisy Dinkle (voiced by Bethany Whitmore)

A though-provoking and tear-jerking film, directed by Adam Elliot; another great one from the Sundance Film Festival, that gives us that warm and fuzzy feeling inside after the credits roll. Be warned though, there are some subjects of the film which are dodgy (either seen through the innocent, naive eyes of Mary and her modest idea of baby-making or just a visual (but thankfully, not a point of interest) au natural moments in some scenes. Not many animations focus on such themes as this one, not even those Disney cartoons with tunes that get stuck in your head for a decade or so. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll feel for them!

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Moon (2009) Review

Posted in Movie reviews - 2000s, Movies with tags , , , , , , , on February 24, 2012 by They call me "Mephy"

Moon (2009)

# Ground control to Major Tom... #

Promotional movie poster(s)

I had a good time with this one, honestly! I was sucked in right from the start on this film. At first, it looked like a film that was going to explore the moon, but no; it took it beyond just that and ended up being another type of movie altogether!

Summary

The story of an astronaut who’s working alone on the moon, harvesting it for an apparently discovered new source of energy (not to mention Eco-friendly!), which is moon rocks from the far side of the moon, which contains the energy from the sun’s solar; I guess we’ll settle for that…not that we’ve come that far in technology yet. It has been three years of contract since Sam Bell (played by actor, Sam Rockwell) started working up there. He can’t wait to go home and see his wife, Tess, and daughter, Eve, after this. Everything seems to be going well, until he starts seeing visions of a woman in yellow, which leads him to accidentally burn his hand in hot water and crash his moon buggy into the…bigger moon buggy? I don’t know…he awakes to find himself in the infirmary, but also notices the panel in his station says the whatchamacallem big moon buggy is stalled and needs to be fixed. Despite orders from the big men, telling him not to risk going out there because he has no fully recovered, he goes out to find…himself…still in the crash site. It later becomes clear that one of them is a clone, and that for strange reasons, the rescue team that was dispatched by the company is still being sent. Exactly what is going on…things become more and more suspicious, as the two Sams discover a horrible truth…

Sam Bell (Sam Rockwell)

“Sam Bell”, played by actor Sam Rockwell

Review

Of all the science fiction thrillers to come out, this one is from the Sundance Film Festival to a smaller audience than any other hyped marketed film out there during that year. This may just be giving away the film’s blueprint but it is a series of plot twists as the film plays on. What really is impressive is how believable and almost realistic the moon base looks and feels to us. It seems to be less than sunny on the moon, as all we see is blue outside, compared to inside the moon base. There is dust and tire tracks when the moon buggy rolls, and then there’s the lovable artificial intelligence computer named Gerty (voiced by Kevin Spacey)! Every response the A.I makes is followed by a different smiley faces (smile, frown, confused, cry, etc.) and it moves around (well, it’s sort of like a crane, complete with a claw and all…yep, just like the one in one of those stuffed toy machines), putting it’s “hand” on Sam’s shoulder to comfort or even just holding up something for him. One can’t even resist referencing David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” to the film, because…it just so happens the director is none other than David Bowie Jr., I guess. Clint Mansell (same person who did the music for Requiem for a Dream) also provides an echoing, eerie music to fit the mood of quiet space. Director Duncan Jones knows what he’s doing and doesn’t go as far as to add unnecessary, illogical plot devices like extraterrestrials to a simplistic, yet complex film (not that we don’t need Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars but…).

Pontypool (2009) Review

Posted in Movie reviews - 2000s, Movies with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 17, 2012 by They call me "Mephy"

Pontypool (2009)

Caption: "Shut up or die!"

Promotional movie poster

Director Bruce McDonald takes an innovative step for the horror genre, instead of giving an omnipresent view of a situation; we are at odds when all we can find out is through characters working within a radio station. Although slightly slow to suspense, events escalate as the film progresses and we are eventually involved. In the small town of Pontypool, Ontario, Canada, something big is happening. Grant Mazzy, a shock jock turned radio announcer, is our protagonist who has a brief but eerie encounter with a woman out in the cold (and snow, by the way), who repeats the word “blood” repeatedly for unknown reasons at this point. He tries to communicate with her, only to have his words repeated by her as she walks into the snowy darkness. At his station, the mornings went well (albeit some disagreements on Grant’s method of attracting his listeners with his method of “pissing people off” with his station manager, Sydney Briar) until a report of a riot near a Dr. Mendez’s office occurs. The reports and phone calls become more disturbing as hours pass. Soon enough, it becomes evident that an epidemic has had an outbreak, but the radio station has nothing on this event, making them question the authenticity and regard it as possible hoaxes. They come to a realization that the army has closed off the town and quarantined the residence. Their weatherman who reports from a chopper, Ken Loney, is in a struggle with the riot and reveals to them a horrifying message in French that breaks into their signal briefly to deliver this:

“For your safety, please avoid contact with close family members and restrain from the following: All terms of endearment and rhetorical discourse.

For greater safety, please avoid the English language.

Please do not translate this message.”

Well, I’m actually not suppose to go into details about the film and spoil it for you now, do I?

For me, this movie was a treat to watch. It’s a great film to anyone who prefers increasingly-disturbing plot build-ups over good old ass-kicking in a film. Apparently based off a novel named “Pontypool Changes Everything”, borrowing most of the plot from the book. There are themes relating to the epidemic, which I’m having a hard time deciphering but nonetheless you’d enjoy the film. Give it a watch!

Naked Lunch (1991) Review

Posted in Movie reviews - 1990s, Movies with tags , , , , , , , , , on February 10, 2012 by They call me "Mephy"

Naked Lunch (1991)

From the director who brought you “The Fly” (1986), David Cronenberg’s attempt at adapting William S.Burroughs’ controversial novel from 1959, the story of an exterminator living in the 1950’s who starts to hallucinate over time as he’s exposed to his own bug powder (pyrethrum) . A strange case of double identity, told to the exterminator-turned-junkie by an oversized talking roaches tell him he’s actually an undercover agent.

Promotional movie poster

The film combines elements from various works by Burroughs (most notably, “Exterminator!” and “Junkie”). The protagonist of our film is played by Peter Welles, known best for his role as the super-human cyborg, RoboCop, plays an exterminator named William Lee (a pseudonym Burroughs used when he wrote “Junkie”), who finds his wife, Joan, injecting herself with his bug powder in order to get high (his boss was not happy to hear he ran out of bug powder in the middle of a job either).

“It's a literal high...a Kafka high”

Later, he is arrested by the police who question his real purpose of having bug powder with him. This is when the film starts to become weirder: he hallucinates and is told by a giant cockroach (who even asks him to rub some bug powder on his “lips”) that he is a secret agent and that his wife is actually not his wife (nor is she human!), whom is also a secret agent from a rival organization. He disregards his “case officer” and flees the room. Nonetheless, he inadvertently kills his own wife, forcing him to flee to Interzone, according to the bug: “A notorious free port on the North African coast. A haven for the mongrel scum of the Earth…an engorged parasite on the underbelly of the West.” , where he must finish his “report” on his “mission”.

A lot of these scenes in the film...

I will not get into details of what happens, but there are themes of lust, a question of sexuality, a wander into an outer world, and a border crossing between reality and surrealism. The music is baffled and fitting to the film’s atmosphere of being “lost” in the drug. Howard Shore composed the scores, while Ornette Coleman, a major free-jazz innovator, contributes to the music with his saxophone riddling. The grosteque alien nature of the puppet or animatronic (it is not specified) are believably realistic, including the mugwumps (watch the film and you’ll find out what a Mugwump is).

I recommend this film due to its eccentricity and weird factor that tends to make us go, “What just happened?!” fans of Cronenberg will not be disappointed by this piece!

Word of warning to anyone who plans to watch this: Unless you’re brave enough, don’t eat right before watching this film.

Coraline (2009) Review

Posted in Movie reviews - 2000s, Movies with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 2, 2012 by They call me "Mephy"

Coraline

As our capability to produce cgi films become easier and faster to produce, the amount of “well made” ones are in doubt as to either how seemingly believable (visual-wise) or an engaging metaphorical story can make due for what we see on screen. As a result, stop-motion films have become less common, starting almost as early 90’s. Few examples being the much beloved Wallace and Gromit, as well as Gumby; this is where the movie Coraline (2009) reminds us that stop-motion pictures can still impress even in a time where technology in filmmaking has become hyped on the pretty factor to awe audiences.

Coraline (2009)
Tagline: “Be careful what you wish for…”

Tagline: "Careful what you wish for."

Promotional movie poster.

Director Henry Selick’s animated adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s international best-seller. Coraline
crawls through a secret door into a wonderful parallel world, which gets increasingly eerie and disturbing as time goes by…

Voices:
Dakota Fanning, Teri Hatcher, Jennifer Saunders, Dawn French, Keith David,
John Hodgman, Robert Bailey Jr., Ian McShane, Aankha Neal, George Selick,
Hannah Kaiser, Harry Selick, Marina Budovsky, Emerson Hatcher, Jerome Ranft.

Summary: A young girl, wishing for love and attention from her parents, whom are busy with their career
Based on a book of the same title, the story focuses on Coraline Jones, who has a rather angst attitude towards her parents, seeing as they do not give her much attention and love. The Jones family has moved into an old manor-turned-rental, offerred by the elderly Mrs. Lovat . Coraline discovers a secret door hidden by wallpaper in the living room. Unbeknownst to her, the door has a passage leading a paralell world, which seems like a perfect rendition of her own reality. But something is amiss beneath all this perfection and disturbingly heartwarming world, other than the fact everyone has buttons for eyes. I’m not going to spoil it for you though; you’ll have to watch it yourself!

Review: Viewers are also introduced to eccentric supporting characters of whose interesting personalities and etiquettes seems to be not the only thing that stands out, but their foreshadowing messages from beyond which they tell Coraline (“Do not go through little door!” whispers Mr. Bobinsky) or perhaps two retired middle-aged actresses who look at tea brews for visions, similiar to a gypsy with a crystall ball, then again; would you believe a blue-skinned Russian acrobat who talks to mice or the latter?

[The jumping mice] say: "Do not go through little door!"

“Do not go through little door!”

This blogger is ashamed he cannot find a copy of the book, otherwise he’d review the movie and book together. One notable thing was that the main heroine talked to herself in the book, rather than to a socially-awkward grandson of the landlady, Wibey. The decision to add the character was made by the makers of the film, saying it works better to have a substitute to these inner thoughts from Coraline to have a ventilation, than watching a girl talk to herself the entire film.

I’m assuming children won’t exactly understand non-linear dialogues that well. This was a rated-PG movie though, but one wouldn’t bring their brain into the theater on first viewing unless to question a film’s logical direction. The theme of the film could be as clichéd as the tagline (“Be careful what you wish for…”) or something more deep as the struggle of a preteen, trying to cope with the changing of things (the family moved from Pontiac, Michigan) and how she finds it hard for the adults (her parents) to understand her as anything more than their little darling. Although, she seems quite smart for a girl her age, she feels infuriated not only by this treatmen, but also the fact she has a name which most would mistaken for “Caroline”.

A visually artistic, yet almost surreal in atmosphere that is The composition which consists mainly of choir singing, adds an eerie but beautiful feel to each scene; an innocent yet haunting, distorted hymns. The only complaint might be how everything seemed rushed towards the end. When the story comes to a conclusion, it does so in a hurry and gives us no time to think.A plot that reminds most of us about the difficulty of moving around and fitting in with new faces; this could be a film for you.watch with the family. Just a reminder though: if your siblings have to sit through this with you, just be sure this won’t traumatize them on the subject of needles and buttons!

Hello world!

Posted in Uncategorized on February 2, 2012 by They call me "Mephy"

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