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16 Sep

A Blip of a Movie Review: “Possession”

Alternative Title: “What’s in the Box, Bitch?”

Short Plot: Supposedly based on a true story, a young girl from broken family finds a cool box at a garage sale, it starts talking to her, she opens it, moths fly around, she changes, dad is confused, mom is pissed, the girl gets freaky, and Matisyahu tries to save the day.

Pros: Sad to say, not much positive here. The girl who gets possessed (Natasha Calis) is very good. She goes from adorable to demonic in a flash. The high points of the movie are when she is on screen. If this had been an excellent film, I think there would have been valid comparisons to Linda Blair’s “Exorcist” performance. Unfortunately, she will get overlooked because the movie is just not good. And the box is cool, called a Dybbuk box, it is said to hold a Jewish evil or demon. Look for one at your local garage sale…

Cons: With Sam Raimi producing, I was hoping for something good and scary. Didn’t happen. When you find yourself chuckling in scenes that are supposed to be intense, it’s a sign that this is not working. Plus, the dad is a macho-assed basketball coach who flips from not knowing what is going on with his daughter to fully believing she is possessed within a matter of minutes. And the mother’s character is just as bad in believing her ex physically abused his daughter and then all of a sudden unites with him over their daughter’s possession. And the exorcism itself is practically laughable especially when it takes place in a hospital basement physical rehab room where no one goes and no one can even hear the screams and other stuff going on. Girl, please.

Verdict: For me, I know when I’ve seen a good horror film when I’m nervously trotting from my car to the house in the dark, or when I get up for something in the middle of the night and I avoid looking outside or in mirrors, or if thoughts of the movie keep me awake – especially days later. After this film, I slept peacefully and never gave it a second thought. If you are going to make a possession/exorcism film these days you should automatically know it will get compared to “The Exorcist.” So you better bring something new to the table in order to stand out. Alas, nothing here except big disappointment.

Rating: 1 out of 5 Blips

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03 Jan

A Blip of a Movie Review: “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”

Alternative Title: “Un-Material Girl (Don’t F**k with Me)”

Short Plot: I dunno if there is a short plot for this one! But I’ll try. Investigative journalist Blomquist gets hired by an old wealthy corporate guy to track down what happened to his niece many years ago – and who killed her. On a side story, Lizbeth is a chick with attitude – and rightly so as she has been a ward of the state since she was 12 and not treated well. Some bad things happen to her, she seeks revenge, and then the paths of Blomquist and Lizbeth cross and they work to solve the decades old murder mystery. That is about as quick as I can state it.

Pros: It’s a David Fincher film, so you know it will have style and it will have awesome opening credits (which it does), it is more in-tune with the book than the original Swedish film, the leads (Daniel Craig and Rooney Mara) are oddly well cast, the pace is really good – especially for such and involved story, it flows better and is easier to understand over the choppy Swedish version, the plot changes from the book are slight, and it is the second really good Christopher Plummer film of the year (the first being “Beginners”).

Cons: For David Fincher, I thought certain scenes were rather tame in comparison to the Swedish film and that was disappointing as the scenes are extremely important for the Lisbeth character, Lisbeth was less anti-social than she should be, the relationship between her and Blomquist was made much more cozier/friendlier that the other film or book, Rooney Mara made a great Lisbeth but Noomi Rapace in the original had the right tone and attitude, and Daniel Craig looked pretty haggard (although he should for this part as that is what it calls for, but c’mon, it’s Daniel Craig for cripes sake!).

Verdict: I have talked to a couple of people who prefer the original Swedish film, however I like this version better. Mainly for the more coherent and more thorough storytelling. It hits a lot of points in the book that the original film either changed or ignored. I wasn’t sure if I really liked Rooney Mara as Lisbeth, but as the film went on, the more I dug her – however, the character needed to be more gruff and imposing as in the book. But I think that was more of a writer/director choice rather than from Mara. I was very impressed with Daniel Craig. Again, I was not happy about the casting but I think he really fit the bill of Blomquist. Overall, I thought this was a terrific film and I’m pleased to hear that the next film is already in the works for the trilogy.

Rating: 4 out of 5 Blips ••••

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31 Oct

Scary Movie Time!

Happy Halloween!

This is, of course, the season for scary movies and we all have our favorites. Here are movies that have scared me silly or were just plain creepy.

1. “Halloween” (1978) – This always remains at the top of my list. I remember my parents went away for the night and I thought it would be a cool idea to watch this movies with the lights out all by myself. I didn’t sleep for a week. It doesn’t hold up quite as well these days, but it is still enough to give me the chills thinking about that original viewing.

2. “The Exorcist” – I don’t necessarily find this really frightening, but it is still disturbing and probably one of the best horror films ever produced.

3. “The Evil Dead” – First saw it at a drive-in back in high school. Loved it. I think being at a dilapidated semi-deserted drive-in helped create the mood. Great scare factor.

4. “The Descent” – Will make you think twice about a spelunking adventure. Everything about this terrified me. The darkness, the unknown, those…things.

5. “The Strangers” – This was surprisingly very good. The quiet moments in the film before chaos hits are very well done and it makes you think about what might be lurking right behind you in the “safety” of your home. Bonus for having an ending that leaves you asking “why?”

6. “[REC]” – Trapped in an apartment building with someone…or something. From the point of view of a hand-held camera and done extremely well. It was remade for the U.S. as “Quarantine,” but this is far superior.

7. “The Mothman Prophesies” – Again, not really scary, but unnerving and really well done – which surprised me. Sometimes I’ll mention this movie and every now and then someone’s eyes will light up and say…”ooohhh, that was a really bizarre movie!”

8. “The Shining” – The book scared the crap out of me so when I saw the movie for the first time, I was underwhelmed. But there was something about it that just stuck with me. The more I saw it, the more I appreciated it. Today it is one of my favorites and I’ll turn it on anytime it hit TNT or some other cable channel.

9. “28 Days Later” – I love a good zombie flick (and love it on TV – “The Walking Dead”) and this I count as one of the very best.

10. “Paranormal Activity” – Starts off slow, but the build-up is half the fun. Like in “The Strangers,” some of the most quiet and normal times provide the largest amount of goosebumps. Sometimes it doesn’t take blood n’ guts or something in-your-face to scare you. Reality with a simple dose of the unknown (but you know) can be plenty.

Sleep well!

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24 May

A Blip of a Movie Review: “Bridesmaids”

Alternative Title: “Estrogen Hangover”

Short Plot: Kristen Wiig is a woman’s whose life is teetering on the line of mediocrity (about to tip to the down side) who is asked by her best friend to be her maid of honor. Things unravel when she meets the rest of the bridal party including her best friend’s newest rich bitch buddy, who is doing her darnedest to take over the maid of honor spot. And things go from bad to just plain horrible. And the rest of us just laugh along the way…

Pros: Kristen Wiig is a revelation, the script is solid, there are plenty of lewd language and gross gags to keep the men dragged to this movie happy, and Melissa McCarthy is now my new goddess of comedy.

Cons: Oddly enough, there is not much to complain about here. Some of the situations are a little over the top, but for a comedy like this they don’t seem too outlandish.

Verdict: Kristen Wiig was really terrific. This could have easily been a plain comedy role that would have worked fine, but she really acts and takes it to a higher level than what is typical for a comedy like this. It is actually her quiet moments that are the most affecting, but her breakdown at the bridal shower was both hilarious and made you cringe at the same time – not an easy thing to accomplish. Melissa McCarthy gets the MVP award as she steals most every scene she is in. I knew she was excellent already from watching “Mike & Molly,” but this woman is ready for her close up! I’m so in love with her now.

Rating: 4 out of 5 Blips ••••

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29 Apr

A Blip of a Movie Review: “Water for Elephants”

Alternative Title: “Dehydrated Pachyderm”

Short Plot: Robert Pattinson is on the verge of a beautiful life, but then it all falls through in an instant. He is homeless and penniless and ends up riding the rails and getting involved with a traveling circus run by a brutal tyrant. Of course, the tyrant has a beautiful wife and soon the hero is deeply involved with the circus and the wife. Can they follow their true love and escape the evil husband? Can someone get the elephant some damn water?

Pros: A film like this better have great sets and design (and it does), Christopher Waltz is wonderfully cast as the dark-edged circus owner, Robert Pattinson is actually pretty good, Hal Holbrook was the best part of the film, and I like the elephant.

Cons: For the first time ever Reese Witherspoon was miscast (though I still love her dearly), the characters never really gel together, this should have you crying by the end and it does not, the climactic “disaster” scene is a non-event, and all that elephant ever got to drink was lemonade and whiskey.

Verdict: The whole film was a bit sluggish and I really did not care about any of the characters. There are deaths of people and animals and yet I was not really moved by any of it. The filming was well done and I appreciated the sets and detail, but the story left me a bit cold. The best parts of the film were the segments with Hal Holbrook who is looking back on his life. You only see him at the beginning and end, which is unfortunate. Had he narrated the whole film and had they cut back to him several times (like they did with Jessica Tandy in “Fried Green Tomatoes”), it might have had more impact. Overall I was disappointed. I didn’t read the book, but from my understanding had they followed elements of the book better, it could have been a terrific film. But this result leaves me as empty as a circus tent after the show with only the horse poop to clean up.

Rating: 2 out of 5 Blips ••

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