27 October 2008

What I Watched this Week: 10/21 - 10/26

This is a nifty little feature for me to talk about flicks I watched without giving a critical write-up, being that my reviews are so thorough, in-depth, and expertly written.

Starring Tom Cruise, Brad Pitt, Kirsten Dunst, Antonio Branderis; Written by Anne Rice, Directed by Neil Jordan

** (out of ****)

I’m really interested in vampires right now; with the HBO series TRUE BLOOD being absolutely phenomenal and buzz about the teen flick TWILIGHT on maximum overdrive, I thought this would be a good time to see this critically acclaimed cult favorite. Turns out, it’s not as bad as I thought it was going to be (pictures of Tom Cruise’s haircut quite frightened me). What I was most surprised about was Kirsten Dunst’s performance; even as a kid, she did remarkably well. After the initial ‘That’s Tom Cruise in a bad wig’ shock wore off, I began to enjoy his character, Lestat – the Big Honcho of Vampires. Lestat is cool and swift, and if need me, one mean Sam Jackson-like mother. Brad Pitt doesn’t add anything new, seemingly playing himself but with freaky eyes and fangs. Although the actors were distracting, I did enjoy the overall story of Louis (Pitt). I have yet to see QUEEN OF THE DAMNED, or read any of the Vampire Chronicles books, but my interest has been peaked.

Starring Zac Efron, Vanessa Hudgens, Ashley Tisdale; Written by Peter Barsocchini, Directed by Kenny Ortega

*** (out of ****)

A worthy conclusion to these characters storylines, while simultaneously setting up future possibilities for the inevitable continuation of the franchise, HSM3: SENIOR YEAR is just plain fun. The actors have officially shown that they aren’t just pretty faces, that they actually possess the ability to perform and not just be a Disney icon. The music is pretty fun, although I don’t have as many favorites as I do with HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL 2; to me, a majority of the songs featured here rather sound the same, but it could just be me. My only problem with this movie is the choreography; now, I’m not even close to being a professional dance dude person thingy, but sometimes the dances appear simply lazy. With that said, “The Boys Are Back” is probably the most creative sequence the HSM crew has ever constructed, and is wholly enjoyable. It is somewhat sad to see these characters leave (though I wager some will have cameos in the following flicks), but it was a damn good send off fitting for a theatrical experience.

SAW V, 2008
Starring Tobin Bell, Scott Patterson, Costas Mandylor; Written by Patrick Melton & Marcus Dunstan, Directed by David Hackl

** (out of ****)

SAW V leaves a lot to be desired, unfortunately, but it is, still, a good movie. There are two points for this flick: show how Detective Mark Hoffman became John Kramer’s accomplice, and how to avert suspicion on his behalf after he and Detective Strahm (Patterson) are the only ones left alive from the events of SAW III/SAW IV (aka SAW III.5). The flick plays very much like SAW II: less about the horror and more about driving the plot, the rising action, and the somewhat irrelevant plight of a group of five stuck in a Jigsaw-like game. Consisting of mainly flashbacks and the most amount of scenes involving the opening of folders and looking at pictures, its pretty much a game of associating this particular scene to this particular movie, and so on and so on - to match continuity; it can be a little fun, but sometimes irritating when you want to just sit back and enjoy the show. SAW V still makes one anxious for SAW VI, but not too enthusiastically.

Starring Cate Blanchett, Judi Dench, Bill Nighy; Written by Patrick Marber, Directed by Richard Eyre

*** (out of ****)

Wanted to see this for quite a while; the trailer played repeatedly on the SUNCOAST promo disc and the obviously intense performances and eerie music sold me each time it was on. NOTES ON A SCANDAL didn’t disappoint. This flick is about a school teacher (Blanchett) who has a affair with a 15-year old boy (not Bill Nighy), and she is found out by her friend (Dench) who implores her to end it or else everyone - including her husband (Nighy), will know. I was never a fan of Blanchett, though I respect her body of work, but this was truly the first time I was truly uber impressed (scratch that, now I'm remembering ELIZABETH) with her, and her beauty. Judi Dench still scares me half to death when I look at her, and she effortlessly delivers a phenomenal performance. I have a automatic love for Nighy, so it goes without saying anything he does is bloody brilliant. It's a fun waste of 92 minutes, and it is expertly crafted.

Starring Amber Tambyln, Ashton Holmes, Keli Garner, Hilarie Burton; Written & Directed by Beth Schacter

** (out of ****)

I confess: the only reason I wanted to see this was because of actress Amber Tamblyn (THE GRUDGE 2), daughter of Russ Tambyln (WAR OF THE GARGANTUAS, a cult favorite of mine), who I believe to be oh-so-very beautiful. Unfortunately, the movie isn't all that great. It's main problem suffers from the script and the supposed "real" dialogue, something that also spelt doom for Christian Bale in HARSH TIMES. The movie is basically about a very, very, very tight group of teens who pretty much do everything with eachother and to eachother, and when one of the members (Tamblyn) meets someone new and wants to leave the group, all hell breaks loose. It's a very strange movie, and one I wouldn't bother seeing if Tamblyn wasn't in it. I get why she chose the part (same reason Hathaway chose the first HAVOC, of which these two movies share no relation with the exception of title). Overall, don't bother with this cup of tea.

Starring Jason Miller, Max von Cobb, Linda Blair, Chris MacNeil; Written by William Peter Blatty, Directed by William Friedkin
**** (out of ****)

Never saw this until Saturday, and it was pretty damn good. Even with the movie’s age, it still has the ability to freak the living shit out of viewers of this age, where we have guts splattering over people’s faces all over the place in the SAW and HOSTEL films. Damn fine performances from every cast member; I was most surprised by Chris MacNeil, playing Ellen, Regan's (Blair) mother. She was a prominent force, not just your typical 'What's happening to my daughter?' Perhaps it's the running time that helps caring for characters who could potentially be quite one-dimensional. The flick is 2 hours, but I can honestly say those two hours flew by quite quickly. Although the initial 20 minutes kinda lack a coherent feel (though the above shot sent frakking chills up my spine), the rest of the movie is spot on perfect. Yes, indeed, a classic!

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