Monthly Archives: March 2013

Chupacabra vs what????

How on earth did I manage to hear about this AFTER it has aired???!!!  Syfy’s schedule shows the next air date as May 4. I’m tuning in. Oh yeah…

Seriously, with a title being Chupacabra vs The Alamo and Eric Estrada being the star….I can’t even form a full sentence. Needless to say, I will watch this movie. Has anyone seen it?

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Fun factoids about the Chupacabra and the Alamo

1. The Chupacabra is listed in the animal grouping of “cryptid” which translates as a creature whose existence is suggested but has yet to be proven. Other cryptids include the Yeti and the Loch Ness Monster.

2. There is no basement in the Alamo. I learned this from Pee Wee’s Big Adventure when he trekked to San Antonio in search of his stolen bicycle. The fortune teller told him it was in the basement.  Guess not.

Oz: The Not So Great but Mostly Enjoyable

And darn pretty to look at! The land, I mean. Not the man. Though there is some kind of an appealing rascal look to James Franco. Hmm…

Let me start this off with a few things. First of all, I love, love, love The Wizard of Oz. I know all the songs, and I have a small collection of Christmas ornaments. For Christmas a couple of years ago, I was given the anniversary DVD box set that came with all the promotional material, a watch, and even a copy of the film’s budget. I freaked out.

I think, that even though I know the MGM film with Judy Garland takes liberties with the L. Frank Baum books, there is still something pure about it. It’s as if the film is protected in one of Glinda’s magic bubbles, and all other adaptations can’t seem to connect to it. There have been many attempts, and none have made it. I kind of hoped Oz the Great and Powerful would come the closest or at least be enough of its own movie that we wouldn’t need the connection. In some says, the movie latched on to its predecessor. But in many, many ways, it missed the target.

I didn’t go into Oz  with the highest of expectations, but I had hopes. After all, Sam Raimi was at the helm. He’s a crazy cool director, and I’m a huge fan. While I hoped Raimi’s film would have a little more edge, instead it came across as more of a fairy tale. In my opinion, the movie is more aimed at the kiddies than adults. I felt that everyone in the cast was given direction to overact a bit. If someone was happy, they weren’t happy. They were happy! Characters weren’t sad or angry. They were devastated  or wrathful. I felt that the overacting distracted me from the overall experience.

The story was pretty good, but it took a long time for the film to click into place. That could have been me though. I had been promised a Bruce Campbell cameo (as per tradition in Raimi films) and spent most scenes looking for him to pop up. Also, the motivations of some of the characters seemed odd. Franco’s Oscar Diggs just seemed disconnected from a lot going on around him. I don’t get it. Franco seemed more intense and connected when he spent an entire movie pinned by a rock in a canyon. In Oz, I felt like he was distracted for most of the time as if he wasn’t sure what his lines were or if there was something better going on off set. This wasn’t the case for the whole movie, mind you. Franco had some pretty cool scenes, and I enjoyed those scenes. However, he was really difficult to read for most of the movie.

There were also writing issues. I have a brother, but I rarely, if ever, call him “Brother” when addressing him. Two characters must call each other “sister” more times that not. It got kind of annoying. It’s a nit-picky thing, but it bothered me.

All these grievances aside, there were things I did enjoy. First of all, the movie was gorgeous to look at. A friend of mine saw it in 3D, and said the effects were pretty groovy. Also, Danny Elfman did the music. He’s the best film composer in my book. There were some pretty cool lines in the movie, but I can’t repeat my favorite ones because they contain spoilers. Just take my word for it.  Characters such as Knuck the fanfare player and the China Girl made the movie enjoyable.

Also, I want Finley the monkey. Every close up on this adorable computer animated primate caused me to coo and awww over him. This film was my Oscar prize, so I saw it with Crint. He kept laughing at me whenever I’d melt over the adorable monkey. Seriously folks. He’s soooooo cute.

So yeah. I had fun watching Oz the Great and Powerful, but I don’t think it lived up to what I hoped for it. If I graded movies, I’d give it a B-.  It gets points for good casting (Rachel Weisz’s tricky Evanora and Michelle Williams’ kindly Glinda), visuals (Oz the land was absolutely gorgeous), and music. It gets bonus points for  an adorable monkey and Bruce Campbell.  However, it loses points to questionable casting (Franco and maybe Mila Kunis), overacting, and unpolished writing.

There were many kids in the movie theater when I went. Most were okay, but I overheard two boys on my row ask their adult supervisor if they could go play in the lobby. That’s never a good thing. The little girl who sat a few seats away from me, however, was a like a little version of me. When the lights dimmed and the movie started, she gave a happy little squeal and did a sort of anticipatory dance in her seat. From what I can tell, she was happy when the end credits started rolling. I can only hope that she maintains her excitement for movies and good stories. I’m sure children like her were in Raimi’s mind when he made this movie. If that’s the case, then he definitely succeeded. But for this slightly disappointed adult…I’ll take what I enjoyed from Oz and be happy with that.

Les Trois Couleurs Trilogy

Regular readers of mine know that I have a fascination with B movies. They are also aware that I have a love of all types of films and genres. This weekend, I thought I’d take a break from the mediocre (don’t despair, there’s more to come) and watch some truly wonderful cinema. This weekend, I’ve been watching films from Krzystzof Kieslowski’s Trois Couleurs trilogy.

If you aren’t familiar with these, I highly recommend them. A series of three films, each film is loosely based on the colors of the French flag and the ideals of the French Republic: liberty, equality and fraternity. If you haven’t already guessed, the films are in French (and Polish).  I know some people who can’t stand a subtitled movie. I don’t get it. A film is a film. Just because a film isn’t in English doesn’t make it any less of a film. Have you seen Empire of the Wolves? It’s a really good action/mystery. Loved it. 

Anyways, the order of the films is Blue, White, Red.  Or au français, Bleu, Blanc, Rouge. Blue stars Juliette Binoche (one of my favorite actresses) as the widow of a famous composer. Both her husband and her daughter have died in a car accident of which she is the lone survivor. The movie follows how she copes (or doesn’t cope) with the losses and how she finds herself and is able to carry on life from that point onwards. I don’t describe it well. It’s a very somber and moving film. Binoche’s performance is just superb. I have to be in the right kind of mood to watch this one, but when I do, I’m always moved.

White stars Julie Delphy and  Zbigniew Zamachowski as a recently divorced couple.  The grounds for said divorce are humiliating as Zamachowski’s Karol Karol was unable to perform his husbandly duty so to speak. Following the divorce, he falls to rock bottom. The film follows as he rebuilds his life and devises a plan to not only seek revenge against but also win back his ex. This films plays out with a slightly comedic tone.  I find it to be the weakest of the three, but it’s still enjoyable.

Red is my favorite of the bunch. This film follows the story of student/model Valentine (Irene Jacob) who accidentally hits the dog of a retired judge. She and the judge form a friendship, and she learns that he has been listening in on the phone calls of all his neighbors. Running parallel is the story of Valentine’s neighbor, Auguste who is studying to become a judge himself.  As the movie progresses, the seemingly separate paths of all the characters start intertwining. I don’t know what genre I’d put this movie in. Maybe mystery. It’s also such a wonderful example of good writing and character study.

What’s really cool about the trilogy is that each movie can easily stand on its own. At the same time, they are all loosely connected. Juliette Binoche’s character briefly appears (for about 5 seconds) in White. The main characters of Blue and White  appear briefly in Red.  I hardly ever watch them in order. Now that I think about it, I probably watch them in order of how I rank them. So that would be Red, Blue, White. But whatever. They are all good to watch.

So that’s my artsy-fartsy suggestion for now. I leave you with the Criterion Collection’s “3 reasons” for two of the films (I feel the one for White gives a spoiler or two) and the hopes that one day I will be able to fluently speak French. I keep trying, but alas, I only seem to remember the same sentences which translate as:

  • The monkey is on the branch. He plays banjo and smokes a pipe. (Thank you Eddie Izzard)
  • I work my pencil sharpener in the street.
  • Here is the key.
  • I do not understand.
  • You speak to0 fast for me.
  • Where is the library?
  • Where is the toilet?