Thursday, April 28, 2011

Blogathon: A Life In Movies

Fellow movie blogger CS at Big Thoughts From A Small Mind got an early start on Fandago Grooves' "A Life In Movies" Blogathon! The idea is simple: starting with the year you were born, list your favorite movie for each year through 2011. Although it doesn't officially kick off until May 8th, I'm far too excited to wait! Here's my list!

1988: "Beetlejuice" - This movie single-handedly kicked off my Tim Burton obsession.

1989: "Indiana Jones & The Last Crusade" - I used to watch this on my grandparents' RCA Video Disc Player!

1990: "Goodfellas" - So many incredible performances and such a fun movie to watch.

1991: "The Rocketeer" - A lot of people forget about this one, but it's a classic.

1992: "A League Of Their Own" - I laugh out loud every time I watch this again.

1993: "Jurassic Park" - One of my earliest memories of going to the movie theater...damn, that T-Rex was loud!

1994: "Dumb and Dumber" - Funniest. movie. of. all. time.

1995: "Desperado" - Steve Buscemi's monologue is absolutely priceless.

1996: "Romeo + Juliet" - Baz Luhrman's vivid imagination made this movie unforgettable. I still cry every time!

1997: "The Fifth Element" - One of my favorite sci-fi movies of all time. Luc Besson is such a genius.

1998: "Saving Private Ryan" - Such an insult that this movie lost Best Picture to "Shakespeare In Love."

1999: "The Boondock Saints" - Because you can always use a bit of rope.

2000: "Memento" - Ahh, the world gets a proper introduction to the awesomeness that is Christopher Nolan.

2001: "Donnie Darko" - Why are you wearing that stupid man suit?

2002: "Lord Of The Rings: The Two Towers" - Epic epicness!

2003: "The Matrix Reloaded" - Damn, I friggin' love the freeway chase.

2004: "I Heart Huckabees" - I really can't say enough for this movie. It had a huge impact on my own personal philosophy.

2005: "The Constant Gardener" - For once, the movie was just as good as the novel. Rachel Weisz was so amazing.

2006: "The Descent" - I'm not much of a horror fan, but this movie was flawless - scary and smart.

2007: "Into The Wild" - The combination of Sean Penn directing and Eddie Vedder composing made this movie so emotional.

2008: "The Dark Knight" - I've probably watched this movie 50+ times.

2009: "District 9" - This movie sucked me right in. I couldn't take my eyes off of it!

2010: "Inception" - You're shocked, I know.

2011 (So far...): "Sucker Punch" - I don't care what anyone thinks, I friggin' loved it!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

"Source Code" was a lot of fun, but not mind-blowing: B-

I finally got around to seeing "Source Code," and I have to say that I have mixed feelings about it. I know it's been well-received by critics and audiences, at least according to Duncan Jones' sci-fi thriller romance has earned a very high grade of 90% from critics, making it one of the most successful flims of 2011 so far. Once again, it looks as though I'll be going against popular opinion. *Sigh*

The entire plot of "Source Code" was revealed in the trailers, so for the sake of brevity I'm not going to do my usual detailed walk-through. Colter Stevens (Jake Gyllenhaal) is employed by a mysterious branch of the Air Force in some kind of counter-terrorism unit. After a Chicago train is blown up and everyone on board dies, Colter is sent back through the Source Code to the last 8 minutes of passenger Sean Fentress' life. His mission is to find the bomber so as to prevent another imminent attack. Colter is guided by Source Code operator Colleen Goodwin (Vera Farmiga) and the elusive creator, Dr. Rutledge (Jeffrey Wright).

The technology behind the Source Code is a bit fuzzy. Rather than call it "time travel," Dr. Rutledge coins the term "time reassignment." Each time Colter goes back onto the train, he enters a parallel reality. Each time, he wakes up to Christina Warren (Michelle Monaghan). Of course, he builds an emotional connection with her, and hopes to save her from the explosion. Of course, he cannot save her because she's already dead. Colter goes back to the train a total of 7 times, each one unsuccessful in discovering the bomber. Each time he wakes from the Source Code and finds himself in his capsule, he demands that Goodwin explains what is happening. **SPOILER ALERT**

In an unimpressive "twist," it turns out that Colter died in Iraq. A part of his brain is being kept active so that he can work with the Source Code. According to Dr. Rutledge, the brain has a sort of "after glow" following death, which allows the Source Code process to work. So, Colter finds out he's actually dead, and on his 8th and final attempt, requests that Goodwin cut off his life support after he finally finds the bomber. In the final sequences of the film, Goodwin turns off Colter's life support and he dies (for real this time). Some how, Colter manages to permanently(?) inhabit the body of Sean in the 8th parallel reality. We see Colter and Christina walking through the streets of Chicago after safely getting off the train. Oh yeah, and somehow Colter is able to send a text message to Goodwin in another parallel reality in which he tells her that Source Code really works. WTF?!

I always have a problem with movies that break their own rules. Do you know what I mean? How the hell is Colter able to send Goodwin a text across alternate realities? Is 4G really that good? Ugh, that last bit of the movie bothered me, especially since I was very entertained for a while. I understand that Colter is able to exist in a parallel reality even though he's actually dead (sounds like "Donnie Darko," actually) - and that Christina is some how able to do the same. I can go that far. But that damned text message. The theoretical possibility of time reassignment sort of fell apart when that happened. At least, for me.

Overall, "Source Code" was entertaining. I can't believe some critics out there are making comparisons with "Inception" - this movie falls short of being as great or as mind-blowing as "Inception," let me make that very clear. It's more like "The Adjustment Bureau" (whose ending also prevented me from believing it's sci-fi elements). But nonetheless, it's an interesting movie with decent acting and pretty impressive special effects. If it wasn't for the crummy ending, I would give it a higher mark.

Monday, April 25, 2011

The Vault: "Willow"

It's always fun to go back in time and revisit the films of my childhood. When I sit back and remember the movies that solidified my current obsession, "Willow" is always on the list!

Willow Ufgood is an Elwin who has dreams of becoming a great sorcerer. One day, his small children find an abandoned baby at the shore of the river. As explained in the opening minutes of the movie, it has been prophecized that this baby will destroy the evil Queen Bavmorda and bring peace to the realm. Despite his best efforts, Willow becomes attached to the baby and goes on a quest to hand her off to right person. Along the way, Willow meets Madmartigan, a rogue swordsman-turned-thief. Seeing that he is of the same race as the baby, Willow leaves the infant with Madmartigan. Minutes later, the baby is taken from Madmartigan by brownies who work for the fairy queen Cherlindrea. Willow comes across the brownies and fairies as he heads back home, and Cherlindrea reveals to him that the baby, named Elora Danan, has chosen him as her protector. Cherlindrea instructs Willow to bring the baby to the great sorceress Fin Raziel, who has been exiled by Queen Bavmorda to the Mysterious Island.*

*Ok, let's stop here. Now, tell me this doesn't sound eerily similar to Tolkien's "Lord of The Rings." The whole time I was watching this last night, I kept noticing all of the little LOTR elements. Firstly, it's quite clear that the Elwins are essentially Hobbits. Willow Ufgood comes into the care of Elora, much like Frodo inherits Bilbo's ring. Both characters are very reluctant to leave the safety of their villages and go on a quest, but they are both motivated by the notion that they will save the world from tyranny. In the early stages of their journeys, both Willow and Frodo meet a taller, dark, stranger who just so happens to be a really skilled warrior. True, Aragorn has much more tact and grace than Madmartigan, but still the similarities are there. The mythical appearance of the fairy queen Cherlindrea draws upon the Elf Queen Galadriel, and both women give magical gifts to their tiny knights - Cherlindrea gives Willow a powerful magic wand, while Galadriel gives Frodo the Light of EƤrendil.

Back to the movie. So, Willow travels to the Mysterious Island and finds the great sorceress Fin Raziel, who has been stripped of her human form by Queen Bavmorda and is now some kind of lemur or meerkat. When Willow arrives on shore with Raziel, the evil Nockmaar army is waiting for them. Turns out, Madmartigan betrayed Willow and gave up their location after being captured. Queen Bavmorda's daughter, Sorsha, has been hot on the trail of Willow and Elora. Madmartigan devises a plan for them to escape, which they successfully do. Once again though, after thinking they are in the clear, Elora is snatched up once more and finally taken to Queen Bavmorda. In the final battle sequence of the movie, Madmartigan and a rebel army march upon the Castle Nockmaar in a final effort to triumph over Bavmorda. While the men are fighting outside, Willow and Fin Raziel - now in her human form - head up to the tower where Elora is being held. There's a crazy sorceress fight between Raziel and Bavmorda (hmm, very much like the fight betwen Saruman and Gandalf) and like all happy endings, Bavmorda is destroyed. Yay!

"Willow" is one of those movies that stands the test of time. Although it was released back in 1988, it's still an impressive fantasy romp. This is probably largely due to the fact that the story was written by George Lucas (...and partially borrowed from Tolkien *wink*) and that it was directed by Ron Howard. This should be at the top of anyone's must-watch list, at least when it comes to fantasy and adventure. It's one of my favorite movies and I had a lot of fun watching it again.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Movie Miscellany: 3 Sites Just For You
I mentioned this site on my "Bat Pack" post a couple of days ago (they're the ones who invented the term, I take no credit!). You were probably wondering what the hell my Movie Term of The Month had to do with The Epic Effect. Well, I was searching the web for "The IT Crowd" merch and I came upon their t-shirt store. Not only did they have what I wanted, but their designs are made for true movie lovers. They've got Movie Tees, TV Tees, and even some cool Retro designs. Definitely worth checking out if you want to show off your movie knowledge!
I want to kiss the feet of whoever came up with this brilliant idea. The concept is simple: create a database of the most memorable movie scenes ever. The site enables you to search by such variants as Mood, Director, Actor, Writer, Props, Theme, Setting, and more. The site also allows you to obtain the html code so that you can embed the video on your blog. The best part? You don't have to sign up or provide your email address or anything. Bored at work? Well, here you go.
Get ready to decorate the crap out of your wall space! There are 775 pages of movie posters on this site, all of which are reasonably priced at about $15 per poster (some are about $10, depending on the movie). There's a special section where they feature $1 Posters, wall murals and decals, film cells, and cardboard stand-ups. The site itself is very sleek and easy to navigate. They also sell pretty nice poster frames, lightboxes, wood mounts, and they even offer lamination services for your poster. You do have to register with the site before making your purchase, though.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Lammys 2011: For Your Consideration

Although my chances are slim, I figured I might as well have fun with the FYC poster. I want to take a moment and thank everyone who has taken a chance with!

I've always wanted to do something like this, and I wasn't sure if anyone was ever going to read it. I've always wanted to be a writer, and for a time I was working on a serious piece that I was hoping to turn into a novel. But life happened, and I stopped. When I decided to start up again, I kept thinking, 'What can I write about? What do I know?' This is when my blog was born.

I am 100% certain that I made the right move. If there's anything I love more than writing, it's movies. For a time only a couple of people in my life knew about my movie obsession. Now, I've decided to come out of the closet and reveal myself to the rest of my peers.

It's been a lot of fun, and this isn't by any means the end. I've got a long road ahead, but I'm determined to make a name for myself. Thank you all for your support and feedback.

- Rachel

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Happy 420: Trip Out On These Movies!

I've been thinking and thinking about this ever since I woke up, and I realized that it wouldn't feel right if I didn't do something on my blog for April 20. For those of you who may not be familiar with the American quasi-holiday, here's the scoop: some high school kids back in 1971 supposedly invented the term 420 which referred to the time of day they would all meet to smoke marijuana. Ever since the mid-1970s, the term 420 has been a standard term amongst pot-smokers. Quentin Tarantino made sure to pay homage to cannabis, when he set all of the clocks in the pawn shop to read 4:20 in 1994's "Pulp Fiction." (Seriously, take a good look next time you watch it! It's true!)

There's no denying the delicate connection between marijuana and the movies. (Seriously, who do you think 3D technology was made for?) I'm going to go against the grain here, and instead of doing the standard list of "Best Movies About Marijuana" I'd like to share a list of movies that I've found to be enhanced, in a way, thanks to Mary Jane. NOTE: **This is all in good fun, and this post is not meant to offend anyone.**

Tron: Legacy (2010)
Although the movie was an overall disappointment, the light-cycle races and the disk wars were very, very trippy. I had a really good time in the theater when I saw this in 3D. Visually, it blew my mind!

The Matrix Trilogy
No stoner is complete without the complete saga of Neo! The lobby scene and the freeway chase scene are especially awesome if you've got a super-sweet surround sound system! Turn up the bass!

Sin City
The first time I saw this movie, I didn't really like it. It gave me a bit of a headache. And then - voila! - the second time around I was properly prepared and I friggin' loved it. Get it on Blu-Ray, smoke a bit, and get ready for a bloody good time!

The Big Lebowski
I went to a special screening of this last Saturday at my local indie theater! It was my 3rd time watching it, and to date, my favorite viewing. I was in the right state of mind to appreciate the humor. I finally understand it's importance!

The Fifth Element
For those of you who hated this movie because of Chris Tucker's character, you won't mind it so much after a little puff. The bright colors and Gaultier costumes also make it a fun, spacey adventure!

Time Bandits
What can be better than a cheesy time travel movie? Throw in a funny group of little people, John Cleese, and Michael Palin, and you've got a riot! Being a bit dazed helps you through the ancient special effects of 1981.

If you didn't find it funny the first time around, try it again after you blaze. I think this is one of the funniest movies in recent years, there are so many WTF?! moments it's almost too much.

Pan's Labyrinth
Contrary to popular belief, it's not too difficult for stoners to follow subtitles. If you choose any foreign film to watch on your trip, I highly recommend this one! The whole feel of the movie gets even more intense - and it's just so creative and artistic!

Pineapple Express
Duh. It's the best thing since "Up In Smoke!" There are so many hilarious one-liners throughout the entire movie, that it's guaranteed to make you giddy inside. Trip out the scenes with actor-turned-environmentalist Ed Begley Jr - so hilarious!

You can hate on me all you want, ok? This movie is perfect as is, however you choose to view it. However, it's *especially* amazing in combination with some sticky green. I'd recommend this method of viewing to anti-Inception folks who "didn't get it." Open your minds!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

[f.g.i.] Presents: 10 Badass Vigilantes You Don't Mess With

The inspiration for this post came to me after watching a little-known movie called "Harry Brown." In the movie, Michael Caine stars as a retired widower whose tolerance for the local drug gang is pushed to limit when his only friend is brutally murdered. With nothing left to lose, Harry decides to take justice into his own hands. Although he tries to forget the man he used to be when he served in the Royal Marines, Harry has no problem going after the young gangsters who killed his best friend. "Harry Brown" is an excellent movie, and it begs the question: When the system fails to enact sufficient criminal punishment, does a person have the right to take matters into their own hands? In honor of "Harry Brown," here's a list of my favorite vigilantes in movies:

Harry Callahan
Weapon Of Choice: Smith & Wesson .44 Magnum Model 29

Weapon Of Choice: Gadgets and fists

Paul Kersey
Weapon Of Choice: Guns of all variety

Weapon Of Choice: Daggers and explosives

El Mariachi
Weapon Of Choice: Ruger KP90

The Macmanus Brothers
Weapon Of Choice: Beretta 92FS with Silencer

Bryan Mills
Weapon Of Choice: Two Tone Beretta 92FS

Nick Hume
Weapon Of Choice: Colt M1991A1

Dae-su Oh
Weapon Of Choice: Hammer

Harry Brown
Weapon Of Choice: SIG-Sauer P226R

Friday, April 15, 2011

[f.g.i.] Presents: Movie Term Of The Month

"The Bat Pack"

The creative minds behind The Epic Effect have outdone themselves this time. First, there was The Rat Pack. And then came The Brat Pack. The new millenium brought us The Frat Pack. And now...The Bat Pack.

1. The Bat Pack, Proper noun:
(a) A group of actors and actresses who have had starring roles in multiple Christopher Nolan films including "Batman Begins," "The Dark Knight," and "Inception." (b) An elite group consisting of actors and actresses who have worked closely with Christopher Nolan on more than one film. (c) An exclusive gang of the coolest people in Hollywood.

Example: "I want to hang out with Christopher Nolan and The Bat Pack!"

Example: "Screw the Oscars. Nolan's got The Bat Pack!"

Example: "We miss you Heath, but you'll always be a part of The Bat Pack!"

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

[f.g.i.] Presents: 25 Heartbreaking Scenes That Get Me Every Time

There are certain movie scenes that are forever burned into your brain. Sometimes, it's a really cool car chase or an epic battle sequence. Sometimes, it's a really violent death or a hilarious one-liner. I'd like to take a moment to share with you the saddest, most heartbreaking moments that have been permanently been etched into my memory. I get choked up just thinking about these moments. I suggest you locate that box of tissues. **SPOILERS AHEAD**

Movie: "Million Dollar Baby"
Scene: Frankie tells Maggie that mo cuishle means 'my darling, my blood,' just before he gives her the shot of adrenaline and removes her breathing tube.
Movie: "Edward Scissorhands"
Scene: Kim asks Edward to hold her, and he answers "I can't."

Movie: "Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon"
Scene: As Li Mu Bai lays dying from Jade Fox's poisonous darts, he tells Yu Shu Lien "I would rather be a ghost drifting by your side as a condemned soul than enter heaven without you..."

Movie: "La Vie En Rose"
Scene: When Edith is informed of the airplane crash and learns that her lover, Marcel, is dead - she cries in agony, shouting his name.
Movie: "Saving Private Ryan"
Scene: Jewish solider Stan Mellish is stabbed in the heart by a German soldier after an intense one-on-one fight.

Movie: "Brokeback Mountain"
Scene: The final scene, where we see Ennis embracing Jack's flannel shirt.

Movie: "Boys Don't Cry"
Scene: Llana's two male friends discover that Brandon is really a female. Brandon is raped and murdered.

Movie: "Up"
Scene: As Ellie is dying in the hospital, she hands Carl her adventure scrapbook.

Movie: "Requiem For A Dream"
Scene: Seeing all 4 characters as they are lying down, thinking of what their lives could have been, with that epic music playing in the background.

Movie: "Revolutionary Road"
Scene: After April decides to give herself an abortion, she stands in the living room as blood covers her skirt and drips to the floor. April dies at the hospital, and Frank sits in the lobby in disbelief.
Movie: "Gran Torino"
Scene: After the local gang shoots up Thao's house, his sister, Sue, walks through the door bloodied and bruised. Thao, his mother, and his grandmother, all cry and scream in pain as Sue sits down with a blank stare.

Movie: "The Last Samurai"
Scene: Katsumoto's son, Nobutada, is wounded but he decides to stay and sacrifice himself so that his father can escape. Katsumoto tries very hard not to cry as he picks his son up. Nobutada bravely charges at the armed soldiers only to be shot several times.

Movie: "American History X"
Scene: Danny is murdered in the school bathroom. We see Derek running in slow motion through the doors of the school and when he sees his little brother dead, he weeps in agony.
Movie: "Mystic River"
Scene: When his daugher's body is discovered, Jimmy tries to fight his way through to line of police as he repeatedly shouts, "Is that my daughter in there?!"

Movie: "Titanic"
Scene: Rose tries desperately to hold on to Jack's lifeless body, but she finally lets him go and he sinks into the Atlantic.

Movie: "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind"
Scene: Realizing that he's making a huge mistak, Joel begs Dr. Mierzwiak, "Please let me keep this memory, just this one!"

Movie: "Moulin Rouge"
Scene: As Satine lays dying in Christian's arms, she says "Tell our story, Christian...I'll always be with you."
Movie: "The Patriot"
Scene: When Benjamin is leaving the Gullah camp, his youngest daughter, Susan, who has never spoken a word to him throughout the movie, runs after him and begs him not to leave.

Movie: "Avatar"
Scene: When Home Tree is destroyed, the Na'vi cry in horror as they look back at the destruction.

Movie: "The Lion King"
Scene: After Mufasa falls to his death, Simba desperately tugs at his ears in an effort to wake him.

Movie: "The Neverending Story"
Scene: Atreyu's horse, Artax, gets stuck in quicksand and slowly sinks to his death as Atreyu pulls on his reigns.

Movie: "The Sixth Sense"
Scene: When Cole tells his mom that Grandma secretly watched her dance at her recital.
Movie: "Atonement"
Scene: We see the body of Cecilia floating in a flooded subway station, and Robbie dies after getting separated from his platoon.

Movie: "My Girl"
Scene: At Thomas J.'s funeral, Vada approaches the open casket and says, "Where are his glasses? He can't see without his glasses!"

Movie: "The Green Mile"
Scene: Watching John Coffey being executed, as all of the guards start to cry.

What famous movie scenes get you choked up? Please feel free to share in the comments!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Watching "Your Highness" makes you feel like you're paying way too much for that dimebag: C

I was totally ready to get my quest on. I've been looking forward to "Your Highness" ever since I saw the exclusive red-band trailer some time last summer. I figured it would be a medieval version of "Pineapple Express," which is one of the funniest movies in recent years. Obviously, I wasn't expecting Oscar-worthy acting or even a decent storyline. I was just expecting to laugh my ass off - and that didn't really happen. (In case you're wondering, I certainly "prepared" myself appropriately for this movie - and I still didn't find it very funny). I think that sums it up right there.

Thadeous (Danny McBride) and Fabious (James Franco) are princes in the kingdom of Mourne. When Fabious returns from a long and glorious quest, he arrives with his new bride-to-be, Belladonna (Zooey Deschanel). The evil warlock Leezar (Justin Theroux) intends to capture and impregnate Belladonna in order to create a powerful dragon, as foretold by the great prophecy. When his bride is snatched away, Fabious enlists the help of his men and his brother to once again go on a quest to rescue Belladonna. Thadeous is more of the prissy stay-at-home type, so with his loyal manservant Courtney (Rasmus Hardiker) by his side, he agrees to follow his brother. Along the way, we meet Isabel (Natalie Portman), a fellow quester who is on her way to Leezar's fortress to avenge the death of her comrades. Joining forces, the trio plus Courtney follow a magical compass that leads them to the Unicorn Sword, the only thing that will destroy Leezar.

The story sounds funny, the trailer was funny, but there was something seriously wrong with "Your Highness." Danny McBride was the only thing saving this movie from complete disaster. I must admit that I prefer to watch McBride as a more aggressive and ballsy character like Kenny Powers; the character of Thadeous didn't really suit him, even though he ended up working it out. I can't help but point out that James Franco was awful. In "Pineapple Express" as Saul, he's aloof and strange because he's a major pothead; in "Your Highness," Franco is aloof and strange because he's bored...? I don't know! It just seemed like he was half-assing it the whole time, like he forgot how to be funny. And don't even get me started on Natalie Portman - I am so tired of seeing her face on every movie poster. I get that she's got a sense of humor, with the videos on Funny or Die and the SNL sketches, but I'm getting really tired of her. She didn't do anything for the movie, and casting her was just a way to get overly-excited 14 year old boys into the theater.

Overall, the jokes were pretty lame. I laughed out loud maybe 4 or 5 times, but it was always because of Danny McBride. He's hilarious, and just the way he talks is enough to make a recycled joke laughable. The other thing that bothered me was how crappy the entire movie looked! I mean, the set pieces looked like they were made for an elementary school Easter recital. The costumes were very....costume-y. Do you know what I mean? I get that it's a spoof and that it's not supposed to be taken seriously, but c'mon! Put a little bit of effort into it, right? I just felt like David Gordon Green met up with Danny McBride and said, "Hey, do you feel like doing a movie just for whatever?" And as he lets out a huge puff of smoke, Danny replies, "Sure I can dig on that. Get Franco in here, he hasn't been out the house in a week."

Yeah, so, "Your Highness" was a buzzkill. There were definitely some golden moments, but not enough to encourage me to give it anything higher than a "C." Did you see it? What did you think?

Sunday, April 10, 2011

"13 Assassins" is serious samurai business: A


After a couple of busy weeks, I finally got around to watching "13 Assassins." I've had my eye on this one ever since the exclusive trailer was released on iTunes. And it was everything I was hoping for.

In 1860's Japan, the evil Lord Naritsugu rules the Akashi feudal clan. As the half-brother of the Shogun, Naritsugu takes advantage of his lineage and has his way with just about anyone he crosses paths with. His bloodlust has not gone unnoticed, and in order to maintain the time of national peace, the Shogun puts in a secret request to have his half-brother killed.

The Shogun's second-in-command, Sir Doi, reaches out to a man named Shinzaemon Shimada, a well-known samurai. Lord Naritsugu must be taken out before he reaches the Akamai region, where he will be inducted as Sir Doi's replacement. If Shinzaemon does not kill Naritsugu before he is made official, then the time of peace will be in jeopardy.

In order to convince Shinzaemon to come out of retirement, Sir Doi shares with him the horrors that Lord Naritsugu has inflicted upon innocent people. Most memorably, a woman who managed to escape his fortress only to be left with two legs to stand on. Shinzaemon then begins to recruit the best samurai in the region to join him in his assault.

Let me tell you this: 75% of the movie revolves around the complicated politics and social tensions that reflect the times. If you're attentive with the subtitles, the story begins to unfold - and it's a very poignant, emotional story of good versus evil. If you're not really paying attention, you'll find yourself feeling impatient and wondering, "When's the fighting gonna start?"

The remaining 25% of the film is completely dedicated to blood, swords, arrows, explosions, bone-breaking, neck-snapping, and total massacre. Takashi Miike does a really outstanding job of building you up and getting you ready for the most epic samurai battle you will ever see. When Lord Naritsugu and his 200 bodyguards are funneled into and trapped in a small town, Shinzaemon and his 12 assassins are waiting for him.

I can't say enough for how amazing the final standoff was. It's one of the longest battle scenes I've watched, and it was filmed in a way that felt so real. Even the blood-spatter was realistic, not exaggerated like the Tarantino does it (sorry, Quentin).

I really enjoyed "13 Assassins." If Tom Cruise doesn't cut it for you, then I highly recommend that you check out this movie. It's a real tribute to the works of such visonaries as Akira Kurosawa and Hideo Gosha. I guess at the end of the day, I'm just a silly Caucasian girl who wishes she could play with samurai swords.

"Hanna" is a stimulating thriller with a tailor-made cast...and killer music: A-

Okay Joe Wright, you've got my attention.

If his affinity for laced-up romances such as "Atonement" hasn't satisfied you, then his eye for sophisticated ass-kicking action in "Hanna" certainly will. With beautiful yet haunting backdrops of snowy training grounds, rocky deserts, and amusement park playlands, Joe Wright creates for a us an intense movie that demands your full attention.

Hanna (Saorise Ronan) has been trained to adapt and survive. In the absence of modern comforts such as electricity, Hanna has been cut off from society and raised by her father, Erik Heller(Eric Bana) in the forests of Finland. When she proclaims herself ready, Hanna's mission is to eliminate CIA official Marissa Viegler (Cate Blanchett). In a flashback, we learn that Marissa made an attempt to murder the Heller family. While she succeeded in killing Hanna's mother, Erik and baby Hanna managed to escape into the wilderness.

In a cooperative effort, Erik and Hanna create a plan to take out Marissa. While Erik heads to Germany, Hanna allows herself to be collected by the CIA. One thing is for sure: nobody knows how completely f***ed they are. Hanna proves to be a force to be reckoned with. After Hanna escapes the underground facility where she is held captive, the chase is on.

Along the way, Hanna hitches a ride with a family on vacation in Morocco. In this portion of the movie, Hanna's true lack of social awareness comes into the story. (A particularly amusing scene arises when Hanna is faced with the prospect of her first kiss). In all honesty, I could have gone without this sub-plot. It's very clear within the first fifteen minutes that Hanna will obviously be socially awkward - I didn't need the movie to prove it to me. But I suppose there needed to be a bit of fluff and humor added in, because this movie is considerably dark. Also, the whole genetically-enhanced-DNA storyline wasn't necessary, either. I almost would have rather believed that Hanna was just a natural-born badass.

Saorise Ronan's performance is nothing short of impressive. I wasn't a fan of her in "Atonement" or "The Lovely Bones," but I've had this feeling that she would find her niche. Eric Bana is always a solid actor - can you say, "Munich"? And of course, Cate Blanchett is
pure movie royalty. I have to give tons of credit also to The Chemical Brothers - the score of this movie really pumps you up and gets you in the mood for the action on the horizon.

The story of "Hanna" made me think that the movie was some sort of metaphor for the struggles endured by survivors of child abuse. Might sound crazy but if you open your mind to the possibility, it's not hard to imagine the rage and vulnerability of abuse being channeled into the burning desire for vengeance. With her devotion to the brutal art of survival, Hanna herself is a kind of heroine who really earns your respect and instills fear.

I highly recommend "Hanna," everyone. It's entertaining, it's intense, it's character-driven, and it's a masterful action movie that doesn't rely on heavy CGI effects or a star-studded cast. Watch or die.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

[f.g.i.] Presents: My (anti) Cinematic Alphabet

This alphabet thing is too fun! I though it would be cathartic to create an "anti" alphabet. This list includes the movies, actors, actresses, themes, concepts, and move miscellanea that I simply have no taste for. What I'm trying to say is this is the stuff I hate. Enjoy Part Deux!

The A-Team

Ben Affleck

Cop Out

Dude, Where's My Car?

Eddie Murphy after 1996

Fast cars, crappy acting

Ghost Rider

Katherine Hiegl

Isla Fisher

Jonah Hex

Kevin Smith's whining

Lindsay Lohan cameos

Max Payne

Natalie Portman overload

Oscar snubs

Putting your kids to work

Quantum of Solace

Ridiculous movie endings

Sam Worthington


Unworthy Best Pictures

Vampires that sparkle

White guilt dramas


Year One

Zooey being Zooey

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