Monday, September 30, 2013


What is there to say that hasn’t already been said about this film?  Not much.  I’ll just go through some items.  And I guess, spoilers?  Look, if you haven’t seen it by now or don’t know anything about it then I don’t know what to tell you.

·         The evil mother was a nice touch.  She was over the top and therefore fun to watch.  This character also gives you a hint as to where Carrie’s telekinetic power might have come from.  It’s a good theory that Carrie was abused so much by her extremely religious mother that she developed this thing to defend herself.  Or she could’ve been born with it.  Whatever.

·         No less than five slaps are handed out in this movie.  Three of them are delivered to Nancy Allen too.  I don’t understand all the slapping.  Sometimes the folks in this picture act like it’s a big deal and other times they don’t care.

·         The split screen towards the end doesn’t really work.  They didn’t use it earlier in the film to help set it up (like it would’ve made sense to employ this technique whenever Carrie uses her telekinesis) so it abruptly comes out of nowhere for a few moments and then goes away.  The split screen didn’t look cool enough in my opinion to warrant using it for a brief minute.

·         This is one of those movies where it feels like it should’ve ended a bunch of times.  There were several points where I thought they were gonna wrap it up but the thing kept going.  I don’t think that’s a good feeling to have while watching something.  The length and real ending should all seem appropriate and not tacked on.

·         It’s pretty edgy that Carrie kills just about everyone that attended the prom (except the one survivor).  It’s kinda crazy that they all burn up or get killed some other way.  I was pretty shocked that they went for it.  Good for them.

·         Actually, now that I’m thinking about this there were probably other survivors of the school.  There must’ve been a whole slew of people that didn’t even go to the prom.  So they probably felt pretty good that they didn’t get caught up in that mess.  Or wait, no they felt awful because almost everyone that went to that school died in a horrible fire.  Uhh…yea, they felt bad about it and not good.

·         When Carrie crashes the car I chuckled to myself.  It looks very cartoony and they should’ve found some other way of shooting that instead of speeding up the film.

I can see why this is a classic.  It’s really all about that iconic prom scene with the blood and the fire and the hoozy whatsy, etc.  That was definitely the best part of the movie but of course you need all that build up for it to payoff.  The shot of Carrie walking out of the burning gym covered in blood with that bug eyed expression on her face is some fantastic imagery.

But overall it was just ok for me.  Some of the emotional points are a little off I think.  For example, some high school kids kill a pig just for its blood (they probably could’ve gotten it easier ways or even used fake blood which would’ve been just as devastating), the overuse of slapping and the entire thing with Tommy asking Carrie out to the prom.  I think Carrie knows what’s going on but she goes along with it anyway.  It’s a bit confusing.  Does she think that this is just a one off date that’s supposed to make her feel good or does she think that this guy is really going to be her boyfriend?

It’s strange that the asking-Carrie-out-to-the-prom joke is uncovered immediately.  Wouldn’t it have made more sense if no one knew what was going on?  Carrie should’ve gone out to the prom with no knowledge that Tommy was asked to by his girlfriend and the gym teacher shouldn’t have gotten wind of it.  It would’ve been clearer that way.  But then again, did Carrie actually not know?  I don’t know.

What it really comes down to is Brian De Palma kinda stinks.  Sure Scarface and Carlito’s Way are fun and the first ten to twelve minutes of Snake Eyes is great but man, he’s made a lot of movies that don’t work very well.  The only picture of his that I like a lot is The Untouchables which I can chalk up to being a fluke because none of his other films came together as well as that one did.  Carrie falls in with most of his pieces.  It has some cool moments and interesting camera work but in the end not great.

Is it worth checking out?  If you’re a horror buff like me then yes, at some point you should see it.  I’m a little ashamed that it took me this long to get to it.  It’s still a classic whether I like it or not.  If you’re more of a casual fan or you don’t care for telekinesis horror films then this might not do much for you.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

You Know What Time It Is

Well it seems I've made this a tradition by now.  So you can look forward to it every damn year.  Lucky you.  It's time, let's do Halloween.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013


Admittedly I wasn’t going to see this (at least not for a long while) but I wasn’t doing anything the other day and figured what the hell, I’ll give it a look.  Well that dumb luck move worked out because this is pretty great.

Keller (Hugh Jackman) and his wife Grace (Maria Bello (Payback)) go to Thanksgiving dinner at Franklin (Terrence Howard (Red Tails)) and Nancy’s (Viola Davis (The Help)) house.  At some point during the evening their daughters suddenly go missing without a trace.  Detective Loki (Jake Gyllenhaal) is then called in to solve the case.

This movie was done very well.  I don’t want to go into it too much because I think it’s better if you just see it.  The acting is very good, the story works fine and the cinematography is nice.

The thing about this picture is that it’s completely unoriginal.  But hang on a sec, ‘cause that’s not bad at all.  
There are plenty of good films out there that don’t explore new ground (in fact most don’t) or have many unique aspects to them.  For example, Under Siege and Sudden Death are Die Hard rip offs but they’re incredibly enjoyable and I welcome both of them into the fold instead of leaving them out in the cold never to be seen again.  Prisoners is a combo of a bunch of thrillers.  They put a little of The Vanishing in there, a dash of Death Wish and a bunch of film noir.  It takes most of the parts you like about these missing persons, vigilante and detective mysteries and blends them together.

So you’ve seen this movie a million times before (or at least parts of it) but this is a very solid version of one of these thriller types (which is extremely hard to come by).  It sucked me in and I was with it all the way.  I love how you go from suspect to suspect and think “oh, this has got to be the guy” with each one.  The film plays with you but in the best possible way.

What makes me so happy is that this picture should’ve sucked.  There are a ton of bad or mediocre thrillers out there that all seem the same.  They usually have a good setup but a half to two thirds of it is shit.  Prisoners should’ve been just another crap mystery movie that ends in disappointment and then over the next couple of days you forget you even saw it.  But they crafted a real gem here.  This film doesn’t take forever to get things rolling (only the first 10 minutes or so is setup, as opposed to 30 that far too many movies use) and then I was actually a little upset when it was over because, believe it or not, they end on a decent cliffhanger.

I really enjoyed this.  I think you should see it.

Oh, one last thing.  There were no shaky camera shots; at least that I noticed or could remember.  These sonsabitches actually put the fuckin’ camera down.  Holy shit.  Thank you director Denis Villeneuve (Incendies) and cinematographer Roger Deakins (The Shawshank Redemption, No Country for Old Men).  See all you other filmmakers out there?  You can create an exciting and intense picture (this really is pretty intense by the way) and hold the camera still at the same time.  So anyone out there that still shakes the camera like a motherfucker, please stop.  I really can’t stand that shit anymore.

Friday, September 13, 2013


Sadly this was disappointing.  And from what I gather I wasn’t the only person who felt this way.

Some spoilers in this thing

It seems to me that the entire movie revolves around these med bay devices.  They’re the end goal for the entire story.  Max (Matt Damon (The Legend of Bagger Vance)) needs to get to one because he’s dying and the love interest’s daughter needs to get to one because she has leukemia.  It’s not about going to Elysium because they want a better way of life exactly but more because that’s where the med bays are.  If these things were on Jupiter then that’s where the characters would be trying to go.

Now that we’ve established that let’s look at the med bays themselves.  Writer/director Neil Blomkamp made them too powerful.  They can heal anything, and I mean anything, no problem.  Kruger (Sharlto Copley (The A-Team)) gets his face blown off but the med bay is able to fix him up, give him a new face and he’s back in action in no time.  It’s just too silly for a movie this serious in my opinion.  This thing shouldn’t be able to perform miracles because then it takes weight out of the film. 

There are two other aspects though that also helps remove said weight.  One is that the med bay works at lightning speed.  Not only can this machine fix any medical problem but it can do it in an instant.  And the other is that it doesn’t require a medical professional or professional of any kind to run the thing.  Any person can lay down in there and be fixed without the supervision of a doctor or technician.  Again, they’re too powerful.

So since the med bays can solve any medical quandary, work at an incredible rate and are self-operating without the need of any assistance why the fuck aren’t they on earth?  There doesn’t seem to be any reason why these devices shouldn’t be easily accessible on every block.  There isn’t any talk about them requiring too much power to operate or being astronomically expensive (there’s one in every home on Elysium plus they have spaceships full of them).  I don’t get it.  All medical problems can be alleviated instantaneously.  At the very least you would think a bunch of folks on earth would’ve made knock off med bays.  Maybe they can’t reconstruct a face from scratch or work at such a fast pace but they can cure most diseases, fix broken bones and do it in a half hour (as opposed to seconds).  Who the hell wouldn’t be working around the clock to either smuggle one of these to earth or build one themselves?

And I know what you’re thinking.  What about the ID needed for the machine to work?  Well it looked easy enough to make a fake one with those ID guns or overwrite the computer program to accept anybody, with or without ID.  So that’s not an issue.

With this stuff in mind the whole film falls apart for me.  Other plot holes, like rewriting the code to make everyone on earth a citizen of Elysium when it would appear to be just as easy to rewrite the code again and switch earth people back to non-citizens, are only extra whip cream on top of this not very well constructed sundae.  Blomkamp didn’t think this picture through.  He had his metaphor for healthcare and that it’s not widely available to every person everywhere (although I think he was mostly targeting the U.S.) but didn’t work on it long enough to make sure that all the pieces made sense.  It’s the script that’s really poor here, the foundation of the movie.

Just to touch briefly on some of the acting, Matt Damon was good in this (especially in the beginning) but ultimately not very memorable.  Jodie Foster (Maverick (1994)) was also fine but her character, Delacourt, was kinda bad.  She was too evil of a villain.  You can’t do that.  The bad guy has to either be fun (like the Joker or Stranix (Tommy Lee Jones) from Under Siege) or have some sort of redeeming quality that makes you feel for the character (like Darth Vader or Draco Malfoy from the Harry Potter films/books).  Delacourt is part of the JTGE Union (Just Too Godamn Evil Union) along with Colonel Quaritch from Avatar and others.

The guy who stole the movie for me though was Krugar.  This was an entertaining bad guy that I loved to watch.  He’s badass and mean and not only a great character but also played very well by Sharlto Copley.  He should’ve been the only villain instead of having to share that spot with Delacourt.  Delacourt was a superfluous character I think whose main purpose was to make you hate Elysium by proxy.  We never see its citizens act like assholes and the president doesn’t seem like such a bad person.  Nothing ever comes of the Delacourt coup so that wasn’t really necessary either.

Oh and I also want to mention how horrible the action is shot.  It’s mostly close ups, quick cuts and shaky cam all up your ass.  Jesus guys, put the fuckin’ camera down.  The way action is shot has been improving for a long while now and I thought we might be past the style that’s employed here.  But this is some of the worst I’ve seen in a film that’s been released in the last five or so years probably.

With some rewriting this could’ve been a really fantastic piece of cinema.  I liked Blomkamp’s other picture, District 9, quite a bit.  That was a fun, exciting movie that also happened to have a message.  He did an excellent job with that one.  But the thing about Elysium that stands out the most to me is that it feels rushed (even though there was a four year gap between District 9 and this).  Shit just wasn’t ready for prime time.  It’s like the first draft of something that will eventually be really damn good.  The idea definitely wasn’t given enough time to develop.  Or maybe Blomkamp’s heart wasn’t in the project anymore and he just wanted to get this one over with.  There’s also the possibility that District 9 was a fluke and Blomkamp isn’t as good as we all hoped he would be.  But that’s being way too harsh.  Elysium is only his second feature.  You gotta give him a couple more movies to see how this guy truly shapes up.

But you know what?  I don’t think I want to go to Elysium.  Seems like a real hassle.  I’m fine right here. 

Friday, September 6, 2013

The Babysitter

Alicia Silverstone did this the same year as Clueless and the two couldn’t be more different.  This is a very serious kind of abstract idea for a film.  You have this babysitter ((played by Silverstone) we don’t learn her name until the last minute of the movie) that everyone fantasizes having sex with.  Her boyfriend, the boyfriend’s friend, the father of the kids the babysitter is looking after and even the boy the babysitter’s sitting all want to bang her.

It’s a weird idea because this isn’t supposed to be funny at all.  This film tries to pull this shit off with a straight face.  I think this girl is supposed to be like fifteen or sixteen too which only adds another creepy layer.  And I don’t think it’s that they’re all in love with her.  They all just really want to fuck her.  In fact they want to hit that ass so badly they commit illegal shit like driving drunk, breaking and entering, drinking underage, doing drugs, harassment, destruction of private property, assault, manslaughter, etc. 

So everyone’s an asshole except the babysitter.  She’s just doing her job and didn’t provoke any of the shit that unfolds.  She has no idea that all of these dudes are having these fantasies about her either.  She’s the only innocent person in all of this.  Ok, maybe you can’t blame the little boy with his fantasy.  He did try to resolve the situation by calling the cops after all.  Alright, so he’s fine.  But everyone else has a fucking screw loose.

J.T. Walsh plays a fantastic drunk in this.
As I alluded to the whole fantasy angle is pushed pretty hard.  At the end the boyfriend says something like “I don’t know what’s real anymore”.  But I didn’t have any trouble knowing what was supposed to be reality and what was supposed to be a fantasy.  The filmmakers didn’t blur that line enough if that’s what they were going for (I think it was).  So as these guys continue to get closer and closer to their fantasies becoming a reality it never blends or becomes confusing what’s for real and what isn’t.  They just look like the fucking jerkoff sexual predators that they really are.

And this could be the real goal of the movie.  The filmmakers want you to question yourself.  Did you fantasize about banging the babysitter too?  Was there a point where you were in someone’s corner other than the babysitter’s?  And if you answered yes to these questions are you just as bad as these guys that attempted to rape this teenager?  Well at least the answer for me is no.  I thought what the men in the film were doing was wrong and I could never picture myself in their shoes.  Plain and simple. 

I don’t get this picture.  What’s the point of it?  Is it against alcohol, premarital sex, all sex, fantasies?  I’m pretty sure it’s not against babysitting, although I don’t know if it’s for it either.  Maybe the movie’s saying if you’re a pretty young girl then every man in the world wants to fuck you so watch your back? 

Another thing I want to ask is who the fuck was this supposed to appeal to?  Who was the target audience for this thing?  Teenage boys aren’t gonna give a shit, teenage girls are gonna find it way too strange and most adults would probably find it uncomfortable, and boring, as well.  Again, the filmmakers kept reality and fantasy too segregated so this also doesn’t get marks for being creative or thought provoking.  

The movie didn’t make me question my morality.  It was just a bad picture.  I could see this working as a frat house comedy (I’m sure this film already exists too, about how all the frat guys stumble over each other to see who will be the first to bang this really hot chick).  But better care needed to be taken with the serious route.  Otherwise you end up with what you have here, a head-scratching-ly odd and poorly executed movie involving men fantasizing about doing an underage babysitter.    

Fun fact: Joel Schumacher produced this.  He was doing Batman Forever at the time and would eventually work with Alicia Silverstone on Batman & Robin.  I guess he liked this film?