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Struggling to recover from the gruesome break up with his Big Ex, Scott is currently dating Knives Chau, a high school girl five years his junior. He's enjoying the simplicity of just holding hands. Knives, sweet girl, is just a phone call away from stalker-intensity fan dom for Sex-Bob-omb, Scott's band. As if the band's angst over their current battle of the bands wasn't enough pressure, this is when Ramona walks into Scott's life, and everything gets seriously strange.
Ramona is everything Scott ever dreamed of, but he quickly discovers that perfection has to be earned. Scott has embarked on a personal pilgrimage, and doesn't have a clue. Can he win his battles against the league of her seven evil exes without letting down the band, alienating Ramona, or sending Knives into a fit of homicidal jealousy? As Roxy says, "Every Pilgrim reaches the end of it's journey... some sooner than others." Happy trails, Pilgrim!
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ My Thoughts ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Stacey Pilgrim: I mean, did you really see a future with this girl?
Scott: Like... with jetpacks?
I was highly entertained with this quirky romantic comedy that really stands out in the crowd. Heavily flavored with tasty fantasy tidbits from anime, video games, and the graphic novel the story is based on, the humor and dialog of this film are fashionably hip and rapidly fired at the audience. I loved that with every evil Ex defeated, Scott collects coins equal to the level of the Ex... barely enough for the bus ride home with the first one! Viewers may also notice that throughout the film when Scott faces an evil ex, a number corresponding to them appears somewhere on or around them. The first evil Ex has an Alpha symbol on his shoulders, the second has a small number 2 tattooed on his neck as well as a 2 on his car and his trailer, etc. Scott himself is seen wearing (and drinking!) "Zero" several times.
Another bit of interesting T-shirt trivia can be seen while Scott battles Ramona's first Evil Ex. Scott's "Plumtree" shirt is a nod to an all-girl indie group of the same name that released a song called "Scott Pilgrim" in 1998. It was this song that inspired Bryan Lee O'Malley to create the graphic novels. There is so much going on in this film, so many little in-jokes and references, that it has stood up well to repeat viewings.
The cast does a phenomenal job of presenting their unique characters as well as working seamlessly as a co-hesive unit. I loved the very natural interplay between Michael Cera (Scott) and his closest friends and sister, played by Anna Kendrick. Kieran Culkin as Scott's gossipy boyfriend stealing roommate, Wallace, provides the support necessary to carry Scott forward in certain situations. Ellen Wong as Knives Chau perfectly projected the anime style humor and expression so necessary to her character
Chris Evans as the second Evil Ex gave us a hilarious over-the-top performance. I also found it quite interesting that the character's stunt doubles are actually Evans' stunt crew... only a third of which actually resemble him. Brandon Routh as Todd is a powerful Evil Ex, being more recent... and a Vegan. Todd wipes the floor with Scott because, "everyone knows being Vegan just makes you better than everyone else." Things look pretty grim for our Guitar Hero til Clifton Collins Jr and Thomas Jane, the Vegan Police, show up! Only Jason Schwartzman could top the performances of Ramona's other Evil Exes. Throughout, Cera maintains Pilgrims' low key intensity as naturally as breathing.
The cast, screenwriter Michael Bacall, director/screenwriter Edgar Wright, and graphic novelist Bryan Lee O'Malley have delivered a fantastical and hilarious action-packed romantic journey that continues to entertain with repeat viewings. The music throughout wove well with the stories unfolding, and never overwhelmed scenes unnecessarily. This "epic of epic epicness" is an unexpected rockstar saga where instead of breaking into song, and dance, they break into a fight!
"We are Sex Bob-Omb! And we're here to watch Scott Pilgrim kick your teeth in!"
Captain Crewe is returning to active duty in Her Majesty's armed forces during the WWI. Sara Crewe, his beloved motherless child, must leave behind the only life she has ever known in the mystical land of India, and forge her way at Ms. Minchin's boarding school. The clever, naturally charming and optimistic child appears to be a thorn in bitter Minchin's side from the first moments of their meeting.
The boarding school is a gray world of enforced conformity that demands blind unquestioning obedience. Minchin is only teaching these young ladies the ways of the world when she promotes social superiority based on family income. Surely, she is also only building character when she belittles timid students in front of the class, ridiculing them for everything from their appearance to their academic failures.
Minchin makes efforts to treat Sara with at least a minimum of respect though. At least, as long as the money for her board and keep continues to roll in. When Captain Crewe goes missing and is presumed dead, Sara's circumstances go from challenging to dire. Can she continue to believe in herself and hold onto her inner majesty despite her new life as "the demon Minchinweed's" charity orphan and lowliest servant?
"I am a princess. All girls are. Even if they live in tiny old attics. Even if they dress in rags, even if they aren't pretty, or smart, or young. They're still princesses. All of us. Didn't your father ever tell you that? " ~ Sara
~~~~~~~~~~~ My Thoughts ~~~~~~~~~~~~
I will always love the rendition with Shirley Temple, and while I regret that they did not work in the sweet dream sequence from that version, I must say that this 1995 remake is enchanting and delightfully inspiring. There is a wonderfully serene empowering strength and vibrant wisdom here that the earlier version doesn't quite capture. I found it interesting that they chose to cast Vanessa Lee Chester as the supporting role of Becky the servant girl. I think the use of race as a social separation works well here, and gives viewers a framework they can understand in this modern era nearly devoid of a servant class so common to the era in which the tale takes place. Miss Chester did a wonderful job of portraying this staunch friend, a young girl who has been forced to give up any semblance of childhood.
Liesel Matthews as Sara is sweet inspiring with the natural grace of a loving and confident child. She enchants the girls at Minchin's (Eleanor Bron) within a day of her arrival, all except the horridly spoiled ringleader. The self important Lavinia is Minchin's pet, of course. Every compassionate statement or innocent inquiry from Sara seems only to fuel Minchin's bitterness and angry resentment. Every time she looks at Sara, it is as if she can see who she herself might have been under other circumstances or if she had made different choices along her lifepath... an infuriating reminder that she is slowly killing herself with her own poisonous behavior. Sara's belief that all women are princesses and should live accordingly seems to enrange the tyrannical headmistress, making her determined to do everything in her power to crush Sara's individuality and self-confidence.
Her sister, Amelia Minchin (Rusty Schwimmer), has taken the place of the sympathetic teacher with the love interest in the version. She delivers a solid supporting role and lovely light comedic moments. Liam Cunningham gives us an interesting portrayal of two roles, Captain Crewe, who goes through several transformations as the story unfolds, and Prince Rama.
Sara's tales to the girls are drawn from the Indian poetic epic Ramayana. She mesmerizes them, awakening their imaginations and transports them out of their gray world into the lush and adventurous world of Rama and Sita. The trials of Rama and his beloved wife encourage them to face the very real day to day trials they each face under the rule of the venomous "demon Minchinweed". We are presented with a convincing artful depiction of this Prince, an example of masculine virtues and pulchritude. The scenes depicting Rama and Sita have an ethereal beauty that supports the overall feel of this remake very well. This version tastes far more of exotic India than Temple's version, giving us something entirely new while still respecting the original.
The sympathetic neighbors, Mr. Randolph and his servant Ram Dass, help to create a more believable storyline than the 1939 film. They also provide the necessary support for Sara to reach beyond Minchin's acrimonious control and evoke miracles. Minchin herself perfectly exemplifies the inward collapsing spiral of the destructive attitude of one who would rather jealously crush the inspiration out of other souls than be inspired to also live each day as an inspiration to others. Sadly, there are far too many Minchinweeds in our lovely garden. The transformation of Sara's barren hovel of a room into a cozy palatial splendor befitting of this young princess still takes my breath away with delight. As does the steadfast friendship between Becky and Sara. There is much here to delight and be-spell audiences of all ages in this bewitching tale of self worth, compassion, love and honor. In just 97 minutes we are awakened to our right to the divine splendor within each of us, and encouraged to use it to inspire others.
The Darlings lived a quiet life tucked away in Edwardian era London. Mr. Darling worked at a bank, struggling with his social awkwardness to achieve a better financial footing for his growing family. Mrs. Darling ran the house and, with the help of faithful dog Nana, oversaw all the needs of their three children; Wendy, John and Michael.
Wendy leads her brothers through all sorts of thrilling adventures with her skill as a storyteller. Until the night Aunt Millicent discovers Wendy's hidden kiss, and it is decided that she is too old to continue living in the nursery. Dire news!
Clever Wendy's tales have attracted an audience though. Brat prince of Neverland, Peter Pan and his faithful fairy companion, Tinkerbelle, have invaded the nursery in search of Peter's lost shadow. Wendy, Michael and John don't have to grow up. Wendy can keep her hidden kiss. They can escape through the nursery window, out beyond the second star to the right and straight into Neverland with just a few happy thoughts and some pixie dust.
"Who be you to order me about and call me girlie?" Wendy
As a child, I would have happily moved to Neverland, joining Peter and his gang for adventures. I was always fond of the original story and the Disney rendition of Barrie's tale, despite the distressingly prim depiction of Wendy. This live action 2003 version left me breathless and starry-eyed with delight. The casting was perfection. Both Rachael Hurd-Wood as Wendy, and Jeremy Sumpter as Peter breathe a powerful and innocent new life into the roles.
This is Wendy as I played her in the wild strips of woodland hidden in the corners of every urban area; a bold, clever, adventurous, nurturing swashbuckler, and a compassionate storyteller extraordinaire. It's no surprise that wild loner, Peter, is mesmerized, and cannot help stealing her away. Peter himself is the perfect mix between impudent, foolishly daring, and inspiring hero; the original brat prince. Like a fledgling greenman, he is the perfect consort for this bold and compassionate maiden goddess.
Jason Isaacs plays dual roles as Mr. Darling and the doomed Captain Hook to perfection. He conveys the social nervousness and utter familial devotion of Mr. Darling with as much clarity as he conveys Hook's ruthless, dark and despairing nature. as Tink also gives a new lushness and welcome attitude adjustment to this key character. Here is a tiny warrior whose strength belies her size. Stuffed so full of magic, it sheds off of her in emotional bursts of pixie dust. Tink throws herself whole-heartedly into everything she does. As she is only big enough to have one emotion at a time, she embraces it and lives it fully before making way for a new one.
Writer/director P.J. Hogan has delivered an exemplary family film that will delight audiences of all ages. The excellent cast, beautifully imaginative settings and attention to details works together to bring a magical life to Barrie's much beloved story. CGI moments are seamless and strikingly beautiful, like the flight of the Darling children through London and on to Neverland. It felt like they had stepped right into a living starry night inspired by Van Gogh. We discover with Wendy that "never" is a very long time for anything, especially anything as important as growing up. As well as the one secret every woman with a hidden kiss knows... such a powerful bit of feminine magic will always belong to Peter Pan, a willing gift for passage home from Neverland.
Mr. Furious, Blue Rajah, the Shoveler... Once they were just three guys who met regularly for a meal at the local diner: Roy, Jeffrey and Eddie. They did their best to fight crime together wherever they found it. They got beat up... a lot. Champion city was too busy praising the shallow, but effective, Captain Amazing to even notice the efforts of it's lesser sons. Until, Captain Amazing began to truly worry that he was so amazing, he might put himself out of a job!
Disguised as his alter ego, wealthy benefactor Lance Hunt, the Captain aids in the release of his greatest foe from the local loony bin. But Cassanova Frankenstein knows Lance too well, and crazy doesn't mean stupid. When Mr. Furious discovers his plans to destroy Captain Amazing and take over Champion City, the guys send out the word that they are putting together the ultimate team to defend their beloved city.
The only-when-no-one-is-looking Invisible Boy is looking to prove himself, and is incredibly helpful when it comes to finding the right stuff for this elite cadre of the city's lesser superheroes.The Bowler is looking for revenge for her father Carmine, killed by Cassanova's Disco Boys. She hurls her father's skull, suitably encased in a clear bowling ball, with deadly accuracy. The mysterious Sphinx who melds them into a cohesive unit with a few well placed mystic phrases of wisdom, and the Spleen complete this rescue force.
What's that? What's the Spleen's super power? Pull his finger, and you'll find out! If these guys can just stop bickering long enough, Cassanova and his gang won't stand a chance!
"We've got a blind date with Destiny... and it looks like she's ordered the lobster." The Shoveler
~~~~~~~~~~ My Thoughts ~~~~~~~~~~~~~
This 1999 film was directed by Kinka Usher, and written by Neil Cuthbert and Bob Burden, who original penned the idea for these hilarious characters in a feature of Flaming Carrot Comics. The Flaming Carrot was replaced by Captain Amazing as it was felt that the Carrot was just too bizarre to bring to the screen successfully. Mystery Men was widely considered a failure due to it's poor showing at the box office. In true Mystery Men style, it has slowly acquired a dedicated cult following though, and may yet prove that endearing ineptitude and clumsily amusing wit can triumph over the almighty dollar.
The stellar cast includes: Ben Stiller, William H. Macy, Hank Azaria, Janeane Garofalo, Paul Ruebens, Wes Studi, Kel Mitchell, Greg Kinear, Lena Olin, Geoffrey Rush, Tom Waits and Eddie Izzard. Each brings an outrageous and unique delivery of their flamboyant characters, an over-the-top enthusiasm absolutely essential in making them believable and endlessly amusing.
You can also spot cameos by director Kinka Usher as Moe, Cee-lo Green Robert Barnett (T-Mo) Cameron Gipp and Willie Knighton Jr. (Khujo) as evil rappers, Pras of the Fugees as Tony C, magician Ricky Jay as the Captain's publicist, director Michael Bay and Ricki Rachtman as two of the villainous Frat Boys (known for their lethal hazing), and Dane Cook as the Waffler.
We never feel that these are actors fulfilling roles though. These are large children throwing themselves heart first into the best make-believe play session I've witnessed since turning one of my mom's towels into my own cape. This film is not deep. It is not a triumph of technical mastery. It won't change your world, or dazzle you with their highly effective superpowers. As the Shoveler says, "We're not your classic heroes. We're the other guys."
What it will do is make you laugh, often and loud. There are so many delightfully funny lines that you may find yourself randomly quoting. Heller's non-lethal line of weapons, like the Blame Thrower and Canned Tornadoes, are actually quite impressive. There are quite a few references to other comic book heroes, easily spotted by fans. As well as a couple of shots at William Shatner who spouted "Don't tell me how to act - it sickens me" during a recording session for the animated Star Trek series after being asked twice to repeat a line in which he pronounced the word "sabotage" oddly.
The Mystery Men are so honestly themselves that it makes the group name an amusing misnomer. Repeated viewing doesn't wear the charm off of this play session either. Little details like Cassanova's release papers listing "unpredictable in bed" as one of his issues rise to the surface effervescently. The mix of physical comedy, easy camaraderie, hilarious dead-pan one liners, human ineptitude and self-delusion is just plain entertaining every time. When the trials and cares of daily life get heavy, the Mystery Men will give you a heaping spoonful of the best medicine, laughter, to help you through it all.
For over 40 years Stormin' Norman Warner has taken home the Teacher of the Year award. His son, Matthew Warner, teaches at the same school. While incredibly proud of his father, Matt becomes determined to carry on this family tradition after Norman's passing, step out of his father's shadow, and make his own son, Dylan, proud of him. His optimistic sailboat is blown out of the water on the first day of the new year with the arrival of Mr. D'Angelo who is instantly and wildly popular with the student populace.
Much to Dylan's chagrin, Matthew quickly goes from puzzled to obsessed when his own logical methods fail to inspire students with his love of learning, yet Mr. D's chaotic antics ignite both students and faculty! Can Matthew discover the true meaning of his father's puzzling lifelong advice, put aside petty envy, and befriend Mr. D? Or will Dylan remember this as the year he became a social pariah because his father lost his mind?
"Don't forget tomorrow we're dissecting basketballs and good luck to the frog team. " Mr. Warner
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ My Thoughts ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"All tribes welcome. Hear me my chiefs. My heart is weak... it's sick. Though the flesh may turn to dust, my soul will stand strong and soar higher than ever before, like the distant echo of a beating drum, breathing life like the wind. Part of all living things. Now and forever." Mr. D
This is perhaps the most beautiful film made for TV (ABC Family, 2005)that I have ever had the pleasure of enjoying. A stellar drama, this slice of life entertained me while it made me laugh, think, cry, and perhaps most importantly to me, inspired me to write.
School of Life beautifully illustrates the importance of being a truly good educator, and that no matter what age or position in life, we are always learning provided we are willing to exchange who we are now for who we might become. Kudos to director William Dear, Jonathan Kahn for the wonderful writing, and a great cast led by actors David Paymer, Ryan Reynolds and young Andrew Robb!
Matthew loves the act of learning and finds all of life simply miraculous. I found his utter bewilderment as to why he can't seem to even forge a positive link with his students let alone inspire them both painfully realistic and delightfully entertaining. Paymer is a solid actor who I feel is often unfairly overlooked for larger roles, but his talent at balancing the absurd, the painful and the hilarious in life is evident, and greatly enjoyed, in most of the roles that I have observed.
Ryan Reynolds' own charismatic skills and impeccable comedic delivery make this bumpy bromantic coupling a memorable treat. Andrew Robb does an impressive job of keeping up with these two in his own delivery of Dylan who also serves as our narrator, but I regrettably haven't seen anything else from this young actor since 2005. While a brief role, I also thoroughly enjoyed John Astin as the much beloved and inspiring Norman Warner. I was also relieved to find that the women here were as strong and believable as the predominant men in this story. Likewise, the views from older and younger generations is very well presented.
School of Life demonstrates the important difference between those who attempt to rule their classrooms with an iron fist, and real educators that know all Life is a miracle, all learning a splendiferous exercise in the ultimate play, passionate learning. A very human tale, this film should be mandatory viewing for anyone who wants to become a teacher!
While a great "Teacher" film, one of the greatest things about this work is how beautifully it illustrates that one need not be a student to learn, nor a teacher to educate someone. If we are really paying attention both inside and out, we can continue to grow and evolve throughout our lives, and find mircales and inspiration everywhere. We can learn to become conduits that spread this amazing Light to every life we touch. In this way, we honor those who came before us and invigorate future generations. We learn, teach and inspire from living. Stormin' Norman gives good advice that each of us can take to heart. "Relax!" and "Take your shot!"
"Now, I need volunteers. I'd like a construction worker, a cowboy, and a biker." Mr. D in full Native American regalia
Gaborn Orden is a reluctant Runelord. He does not agree with the custom of buying endowments from people to make himself smarter, stronger, faster, hardier, more eloquent or handsome. He does see it as his duty to use the endowments that have been given to him since infancy in the just service of his people. His father, lord of Mystarria, has always been considered a prudent Runelord, and a brilliant strategist. King Orden's best friend is the Oathbound lord of Sylvarresta, who will only take endowments that have been freely given rather than purchasing them from those in need.
This year, Gaborn has come to Sylvarresta ahead of his father's yearly arrival. He hopes to seize an opportunity to observe the princess Iome, beloved daughter of King Sylvarresta, and gauge for himself whether she would even consider accepting an offer of marriage from him. He knows that she considers King Orden's prudence to be far more mercenary than her own oathbound father's choices on the matter of endowments. He also knows that she loves her people fiercely, and their love is given freely in return. Iome is already irresistible to our young lord, and the only match he truly desires. Gaborn hopes that given the right circumstances, his own vows may sway the princess in his favor.
Gaborn, Iome and their fathers are blissfully unaware that the infamous Wolflord, Raj Ahten, is already on his way to lay claim to all they hold dear. Raj Ahten seeks to become the Sum of All Men by taking on so many endowments that he becomes immortal, a new Power walking upon the earth. He will allow nothing to stand in his way. Even the return of the terrifying Reavers, strange and powerful insectile beings of the Underworld capable of tremendous destruction. Rumors of the seldom seen Reavers returning to the surface in numbers, and with malicious intent, don't even inspire a momentary pause for thought in Raj Ahten's mind.
With the Earth itself whispering dire warnings in Gaborn's ear, can he summon up the courage and wisdom to save the seeds of humanity from the dark times ahead? Caught between the darkling powers of Wolflord and Reaver, as well as his heartfelt oaths to Iome, can Gaborn effectively focus on the real threat to humanity? Does he have what it takes to accept the challenges before him, and serve humanity well as the fabled Earth King?
David Farland's The Runelords: The Sum of All Men is a wonderful work of epic fantasy that opens a wide and welcoming door into his world. The concept of endowments and the ethics behind such magic is fascinating reading on it's own. The conflict between the self-deluded and nearly invincible Raj Ahten, and the compassionate and self-sacrificing Gaborn adds delicious spice to the reading. Because of the extensive cast of characters and the grand scale on which events are running, this work has the potential to be confusing or frustrating for readers. Despite it's complexities, Runelords is a marvelously balanced beginning to this thoughtful series.
Farland perfectly captures the mingled chaos, fear, doubt, and wonder of a people caught in time of conflicting powers, awakening legends and irreversible change. For me, the greatest charm in this work lays in the author's ability to create believable and interesting characters from all walks of life, all levels of society, through which readers may come to know this world, it's unique circumstances, and the grand scope of events unfolding. Unfortunately, this means a lot of potentially tedious or confusing minutiae while viewing life through so many eyes. So, while the action scenes are good, they are perhaps too far and few between for viewers looking for more focus on activity in their epic fantasies.
This varied and shifting viewpoint becomes more interesting as we come to know and understand Gaborn and Raj Ahten who represent two differing approaches to becoming the Sum of All Men. Farland also does a good job of illustrating how people can so disasterously get in their own way with the very best of intentions. He highlights the difficulties of making sound ethical decisions which choose needs over desires, as well as the challenges of becoming a "hollow bone"- a vessel for divinity through service to our people and All Our Relations. Gaborn's interesting balance of power from, and duty to the Earth as the Earthking becomes more important as both this story and the series progress. As a reader, I quite enjoyed the food for thought I found here although I also found the pacing and scattered perspective challenging to my patience at times.
The Powers that Be are building towards an all-out war, and the survival of humanity seems an uncertain thing at best. Purely political bids for power are intermingled with magically fueled attempts at supremacy over humanity. The destructive powers of Fire and the capricious powers of Air seem determined to assert themselves in this world, and topple the gentler healing powers of Water and Earth. The walls between Worlds are coming down and the very order of this world's passage through the stars is altering course. As one might expect, very few, runelords or otherwise, have any true understanding of just how dire a situation is developing.
Amidst all this chaos, is Gaborn; a young uncertain man who has the ethical potential to be a truly great leader during these dangerous times. What remains to be seen is whether he has the wisdom and courage to suppress his own desires and love of humanity in favor of the needs of the Earth as a whole. Can this idealistic dreamer truly be the Earth King that is so desperately needed? This thought-provoking fantasy gives us an ample meal to digest at our leisure.
Somewhere in a remote stretch of Iowa, life as we have known it is about to end. A dramatic and surprising confrontation between a savvy small-town sheriff and what appears to be the reformed town drunk on a bad bender breaks up the high school baseball game. It also sheds the first light upon a sinister and lethal situation that has been brewing in the murky mire that lies beyond the attention of the public eye.
Sheriff David Dutten loves his hometown. He knows and respects his fellow citizens, as does his wife Dr. Judy Dutten. So when friends and neighbors stop acting like themselves, it doesn't take this pair long to realize that something is seriously going wrong in their fair hamlet. The vigilant sheriff is swift to discover that the water supply is infecting people with madness and unleashing homicidal rage in homes and on the streets.
Of course, town officials aren't keen on recognizing a "few isolated incidents" as reason for panic though. Nor are they concerned about taking any effective action apparently. The brutally impersonal presence of the military hot on the scene doesn't improve the situation any either.
The prime objective of everyone in a position of power appears to be containing and eradicating the issue before it spreads or draws greater media attention. Unfortunately for you and me, our government's clean up crew is very efficient... and not interested in saving lives.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ My Thoughts ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"Don't ask me why I can't leave without my wife and I won't ask you why you can." Sheriff David Dutten
George Romero and Paul McCollough gave audiences the original screenplay for The Crazies in 1973. I have yet to view that work so I cannot compare the two, but it is easy to see that they provided excellent bones for director Breck Eisner, writers Scott Kosar and Ray Wright, cast and crew to build on in this action-packed horror adventure. Fans of the original may enjoy the cameo by Lynn Lowry as she bicycles down main street in full blown Crazies mode, and the subtle homage paid to Romero's work by making the successful get away vehicle a 1973 Ford LTD police car.
Timothy Olyphant, Radha Mitchell, and Joe Andersen lead a talented and diverse cast as our obvious heroes, the Duttens and Deputy Russell Clank. I particularly enjoyed these characters as they broke out of the horror film norm by reacting to their situation as reasonably intelligent and perceptive people. Finally!
The only break in this refreshing portrayal of human response to bizarre crises, takes place late in the film when David decides it would be OK to leave his wife alone outside of what used to be the staging area for saving uninfected citizens, a dark and seemingly deserted gas station plaza. And she seems to think that this is a dandy idea too!
Everyone is entitled to make bad decisions though, especially under stress, so I was able to get past this glaring oversight rather quickly. I hope that this may be a sign that Hollywood is catching on that the horror genre definitely needs believable characters who don't respond automatically to danger like clueless sheep bent on self-destruction.
Overall, the plot is simple with no real surprises or twists. It is, in essence, a zombie flick and there is only so much you can do with that kind of theme. There are plenty of thrills however, and a decent amount of both action and gore with more realistic characters than we've come to expect from the horror genre. Tense, thrilling, engaging with great visuals and talented execution makes The Crazies a solidly entertaining remake that creates a new dish out of ordinary leftovers.
Expect moments of brutality and senseless violence. Expect the majority of characters you are introduced to, to meet with a sudden, and possibly rather inventive, death. Expect the media to suppress the truth. Place your bets on who might be the lucky survivors, and enjoy the ride!
Lord Blackwood, serial killer and black occultist, has finally been brought to justice. Returning from the grave only gives more weight to his already potent reputation, as well as his ominous predictions of what is to yet to come. Yet, Sherlock Holmes seems too preoccupied with the imminent loss of his life-long bachelor friend and valued assistant, Dr. Watson, to act effectively against Blackwood's schemes.
Love seems to be the only thing to truly confound and successfully elude Holmes in life. Therefore, he seems determined to save his best friend and compatriot, Watson, from his own impending marriage at any cost. The reappearance of Irene Adler, Holmes' own romantic muse, only adds fuel to this fire while further distracting him from the convoluted plots of Blackwood and his various underlings.
Will the call of the hunt cost Watson his domestic happiness? Has the infamously eccentric sleuth finally gone over the edge of reason for good? Can Holmes come to terms with the distressing changes in his vital relationship with Watson before Blackwood pulls off his latest plans for domination? The game is afoot, but it seems our favorite players may be dangerously disconcerted!
Irene: "Why are you always so suspicious?"
Sherlock: "Should I answer chronologically or alphabetically?"
I ask myself three things after watching any film. 1. Was I entertained? 2. Was I given something entirely new, or thought provoking to enjoy? and 3. Did the film live up to its potential? That last is perhaps the trickiest bit, and I do allow a fair bit of leeway when considering that topic, especially when the film is based on a favorite book or fictional character. Boredom, impatience with pacing or character elements, too many loose ends, or requiring too many leaps of faith are all signs of unfulfilled potential. In the case of Sherlock Holmes, I was entertained on a variety of levels, and walked away from the film with the same satisfied contentment one finds at the end of a good meal.
The action and fight sequences here were highly entertaining, fairly complex, and delivered in a unique manner that highlights the quirky personality of the infamous Sherlock Holmes. This film does a very good job of displaying Holmes' accelerated multi-tasking style of thought, his less constructive addictions, and his social ineptitude. These are not popular aspects of this hero, but they are most certainly an integral part of his make-up and help to make him fallibly human.
Holmes' is most often depicted as a thoroughly competent and self-assured figure. Here, audiences can see a Holmes that is uncertain, ambivalent, childishly petty, manipulative and selfish in his perceived loss of Watson, his only trusted companion. His arrogance here actually helps to humanize him, and provides several comedic moments rather than fashioning a cold and distant Holmes. In this film, we can see why Holmes relies so much upon Watson; not just for the commonplace support of trusted back up in difficult situations, but as his only successful link to Humanity at large.
Throughout this personal struggle, further complicated by the reappearance of his own disastrous love interest, we are given trademark Holmes deductive reasoning that is certain to unravel the convoluted plots of our villain eventually. The fun is watching how it all plays out! Usually we are shown only the positive side of this character with perhaps glimpses of his melancholy or general eccentricity.
I enjoyed this focus on his imperfections, especially his social ineptitude. There is so much to admire in the character of Sherlock Holmes that it seems easy to overlook his failings. The reference to his drug use is a rather quiet reminder from Watson that what he is drinking is meant for use during delicate eye surgeries, not recreational consumption. The good Doctor is not at all shy about putting Holmes in his place though, when the situation calls for it! Watson is presented in an interesting fashion where we can see not only his unfailing admiration of Holmes' brilliance, but also his impatience with Holmes' manipulations and his brotherly devotion that allows him an easy comradery as well as admonitions, ribbings, and the occasional pummeling.
So often we are presented with a Watson that is simple, slavishly devoted, ineptly amusing, or downright unattractive in his own right. This more forceful Watson is far more believable as Holmes' trusted associate, especially during this difficult transition period from bachelor to husband. A difficult time for Watson, Holmes and Mary, Watson's beloved, I was also impressed with how well Mary (Kelly Reilly) establishes her own strength of character amidst the dominant egos of Watson and Holmes in the time given.
I feel we were given a nice balance between action and thought throughout the story. Supporting cast is seamless. Settings and costuming are solid and wonderfully supportive. Certain cliche Holmes icons, like his deerstalker or "Elementary, Dear Watson", have been deliberately avoided, but we are given an excellent mix between artistic license and tradition.
For example, Holmes' excellent but seldom needed fighting ability is displayed well. Although the fighting style used does not match that of Arthur Conan Doyle's character (Holmes' Baritsu vs. Downey's Wing-Chun Kung Fu), they also give viewers a clear understanding of how Holme's vast intellect also figures into his fighting success. The character of Irene Adler (Rachel McAdams) appears only once in the written works without any great detail, but her expansion here makes sense and supports both story and main characters well. Her relationship with Holmes brings new light to the character. We can easily see that in the ways that count most, Holmes and Watson are married to each other which makes it next to impossible for anyone else to have a successful relationship with either.
We are given a date of Friday, November 19, 1891 as a reference point. Holmes' aficionados will know that these events would therefore be taking place during a period where he was presumed dead and not publicly active in the written works. In my opinion, the excellent cast, director Guy Ritchie, writers Michael Robert Jordan, Anthony Peckham, Simon Kinberg, and Lionel Wigram, and the extended crew made excellent use of the film's 128 minute run time.
I appreciated the many subtle references to Doyle's much beloved written works while enjoying the fresh approaches the film takes in presenting these enduringly admired characters. There is a lively humor and underlying passion injected that brings a new life and dimension to both Holmes and Watson. The "mystery" aspect is not the focus here, and you'll be disappointed if that is what you are looking for, as we the viewers can see quite well where things are going to go. This is an action/adventure tale paying homage to the immortal Sherlock Holmes. While I enjoyed this interesting view of Holmes and Watson, I can also see where it would not appeal to every viewer.
I look forward to the as yet untitled sequel due out around December of 2011 which will introduce both Mycroft, Sherlock's brother (Stephen Fry), and arnemisis, Moriarty (Jared Harris). With proper development, a focused attention to detail, and greater attention paid to delivering a more challenging storyline, this could become a wonderful beginning to a great trilogy.
"Depend upon it, there comes a time when for every addition of knowledge, you forget something that you knew before. It is of the highest importance, therefore, not to have useless facts elbowing out the useful ones." ~ Arthur Conan Doyle
Wouldn't it be wonderful if we were able to replace vital organs as needed with no complications? Who wouldn't want to be able to see better, hear farther, live longer, ease the burden of things like Alzheimer's from our loved ones? But nothing comes free, right? In today's consumer-driven society, people generally appear to have great difficult grasping the difference between "necessity" and "desire". However, you better be very clear in your own mind about what both of those things mean to you, as well as possessing a definitive understanding of exactly what you are willing to pay to fulfill either. You better be able to pay in full too, or at the very least, keep up your payments faithfully. Because in this subtly dystopian future, The Union will send repo men to reclaim their products if you don't!
Remy (Jude Law) and his best friend Jake (Forest Whitaker) were soldiers once. Perhaps that made it too easy for them to make the transition into the private sector as repossession agents for The Union. Repo men once recognized by the general public, are most definitely viewed with a fearful respect that is anything but flattering. In fact, this biased view of a jaded society is not only causing Remy to doubt his career choice, it is seriously upsetting the happy apple cart of his marriage.
Still, repossessing the mechanical hearts, livers, eyes, and other essential bits manufactured and sold at exorbitant rates to a mostly willing public is better than trying to finesse a reluctant customer into signing the purchasing contract, isn't it? Those salesmen like Frank (Liev Schreiber), seem like heartless soulless demons devoted to the almighty dollar in comparison. From Remy's point of view, the people who sign those contracts are well aware of what they are getting into, and if they choose to break the law by not paying what is owed in a timely fashion, then surely it is his noble duty to enforce the law by reclaiming the company's property.
He can't understand why his job causes his wife such anxiety or inexplicable anger, or his son discomfort at school and disturbing dreams at night. It's just a job, right? Remy loves his family, but discovers that love isn't always enough to fix what's broken. Now that it's his name on the dotted line, will Remy get his priorities straight before a repo man shows up at his door?
Directed by Miguel Sapochnik, and written by Eric Garcia and Garret Lerner, this film provokes thought, and is complex enough to support multiple viewings. At a run time of 111 minutes, it can feel like it takes it's time getting to the point though, and some viewers will certainly feel as if "the point" becomes meaningless or over-developed as we watch the characters Remy and Jake take form. If you don't read the subtle clues along the way correctly, the plot twist at the end is a good one. The fight scenes were quite well done and entertaining, if not terribly important to the story. Potentially humorous moments fall rather flat as these are not characters given easily to humor or an easy compatibility with their fellow man. Rated for mature audiences due to scenes of a graphic nature, sexual content, language, and violence, Repo Men's look is rather slick and quietly edgy.
Ultimately I was entertained, but felt that the overall presentation lacks a few vital elements to really give soul to this work. The focus is so strongly riveted to the dissociative in society, and the tale itself rather choppily delivered, that I feel audiences might have difficulty associating with main characters or really caring about how the story will end. Repo Men is a subtly horrific sci-fi drama made more complete with thoughtful imput from the viewer. This film displays the potentially bleak existence possible in a society driven by commercialism, trendy surgical upgrades, and unreasoning desire. This is not a happy tale, nor will love, unrequited or otherwise, conquer all. This is an unlikely romance between a man and the dream of what his life could become; a rather Gothic reminder that only death and taxes are true certainties in life, and all too often our greatest dreams become our worst nightmares.
Once upon a time, a young woman lived at the edge of a forest known in one of the many tall towers upon the island of Manhattan. Every day she went to work. She took care of her father, and dutifully visited her grandmother. Virginia thought that she was no one very special, and she was quite certain everyone else knew it too.
She almost never thought about the mother who left them so suddenly years ago. She also never thought about who or where her mother might be now, only that it was somehow her fault her mother chose to leave. If she had only been beautiful enough, talented enough, socially desirable enough... Virginia is sure her mother would have stayed.
Far away in a parallel universe, on one perfectly ordinary day that began like any other, Prince Wendel White begins his coronation tour. Beginning with the Snow White Maximum Security Memorial Prison where he plans to preside over his wicked step-mother's parole hearing, Wendel walks right into the Evil Queen's escape plan!
Transformed into the form of a golden retriever, Wendel runs for his life. Winding his way through the prison's storage area, he is pursued by three troll siblings and a potentially bad, although not particularly big, Wolf who do the bidding of his wicked step-mother. Slipping through a forgotten magic mirror, Wendel's only hope of regaining his human form and his kingdom, suddenly lies in the hands of cynical Virgina and her ne'er-do-well father.
In the tradition of all great kings and queens of the Nine Kingdoms, Prince Wendel is now firmly stuck in his own fairy tale! Will anyone besides the powerful and devious Queen be able to find a happily ever after?
~~~~~~~~~ My Thoughts ~~~~~~
"No, no! "Rare" implies dangerously cooked. When I say rare I mean just let it look at the oven in terror, then bring it out to me." Wolf
Released in February of 2000, this made for TV mini-series is a truly delightful fantasy adventure for viewers of all ages! At a full run time of just over 400 minutes, 10th Kingdom holds up very well for repeat viewing, but does require more than a single sitting. The humor, enchanting characters, and general story manages to be entertaining and appropriate for adults and kids alike, with a minimum of mild language along the way.
It did not receive an abundance of attention or praise during it's initial release, but fantasy fans continue to devour this wonderful piece on DVD where it can be enjoyed at leisure. I particularly enjoy the marvelous sense of humor that permeates the 10th Kingdom from beginning to end.
The interplay of the three troll siblings, the unlikely romance between Virgina and Wolf, pokes at our own society, and the over the top fairytale dilemmas and situations that are found throughout the film are enchanting through every viewing. 10th Kingdom has just enough moments of cynicism, darkness and deeper thought to round out the outrageous characters and running gags.
"Ya got wool on your face, Ya big disgrace! Waving your fleece all over the place! Singing, we will we will shear you!" Virginia
Written by Simon Moore, 10th Kingdom did win an Emmy for Outstanding Main Title Design. The diverse and talented cast have a wonderful chemistry, and did a marvelous job of bringing the people and world of 10th Kingdom to life.
Light or dark, everyone in our family has a favorite scene that we wait for eagerly each time around. The singing ring's rant and Virginia's improvised song for the Shepherdess contest, built around Queen's "We Will Rock You" are Must See moments for everyone!
Like all good fairy tales though, our heroes are in search of more than just a happy ending. Each one must learn to recognize and overcome their own shortcomings, and like people everywhere, some emerge from their fairy tale stronger... and some discover that they do not have enough faith in themselves to break free of their self-imposed illusions and capture a real happy ending. Their combined journey of self-discovery however, continues to entertain, fascinate and inspire us.
"You are still lost in the forest. But lonely, lost girls like us can rescue themselves. You are standing on the edge of greatness. " Snow White
As a young girl, May's severe lazy eye made her shy and socially acceptable as a target for persecution. Her demanding and obsessive mother twisted that beginning into something else entirely. The bizarre glass encased doll she gives to her troubled girl becomes May's only friend, and long after mother is gone, the doll continues to be May's truest confidante.
As an adult, May now works in a third rate veterinary office where her interests in things like sewing and amputation make her a valuable assistant for the incompetent and unethical vet. Still desperate for attention, acceptance and love, May meets Adam. At first Adam thinks he's found the girl of his dreams, enchanted and intrigued by her unique flavor of eccentricity. Soon enough he discovers that dreams can all too easily become nightmares, and there is a distinct difference between eccentric and disturbed! Can May handle one more rejection? Can she pull her self up by the bootstraps one more time without cracking, and simply follow her mother's advice? If you can't find a friend, make one!
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ My Thoughts ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Hands down one of the most oddly disturbing films I've watched, May is quite an interesting portrayal of a maladjusted individual who is quite capable of going unnoticed as a potential danger until it is too late. There are a few B-flick worthy moments, the tale itself can feel disjointed with it's surrealistic flashes and uneven pacing, but the slow-building pressure and May's uniquely unsettling self make for an ending with impact. Despite such flaws, May offers viewers a wickedly fascinating view of the descent into madness; creepy with sudden flashes of violence and gore. Written and directed by Lucky McKee, this 2002 film offers a fair amount of entertainment to viewers, particularly horror/suspense/thriller fans.
Angela Bettis as May delivers a distressingly believable performance. Jeremy Sisto as Adam and Anna Faris as manipulative co-worker, Polly, provide the most supportive pegs in the film's social loom. As we watch May parasitically attach her emotionally strung out, taut and cripplingly lonely self to each individual, viewers realize that it is her inevitable unraveling through the maze of self and society that fascinates us as the story unfolds. This crafty and darkly optimistic character stirs a tempest of sympathy with one hand, repulsion with the other as we discover what lonely isolation and a traumatic childhood can inspire May to create.
Several centuries ago in the quiet town of Salem, the Sanderson sisters become lethally infamous for their evil ways and are hung by the town as witches. While the town still delights in tales of the sinister Sanderson sisters, no one really believes they were really evil witches. Especially the new kid in town, Max Dennison. When the lovely Allison offers to show Max and his little sister the old Sanderson museum/gift shop on Halloween night, he jumps at the chance to spend time with her, and hopefully make a good impression.
When he lights the black flame candle that legend says will call the sisters back from beyond the veil of death, Max makes a huge impression on the whole town! With help only from Allison and Thackery Binx, a boy cursed into the form of an immortal black cat, can Max redeem his foolish mistake, save his sister and all of Salem from the clutches of the devious and vengeful Sandersons? It's a magical race against the dawn this All Hallows Eve!
This predominantly live action Disney film is great family fun anytime, but especially for Halloween. While it did not make a big splash during it's release in 1993, Hocus Pocus has gained a bit of a cult following as well as popularity over the years since, and is now a favorite feature on television during the month of October. There is some mild language. I remember a scene where one of Winnifred's unfaithful boyfriends from the past is raised as a zombie, and rather than help them in any way, he tells her to go to Hell. That's about as rough as it gets. The majority of the "adult" humor is low key though, while still managing to amuse older viewers. It is important to remember that this film is not about what is "believable", and is definitely geared to younger audiences. Yet, it is wonderfully entertaining through repeat viewings even for older audiences despite moments of predicatability or inexplicable fantasy.
The interplay between Max and his little sister, Dani, is believable and rather witty. I particularly enjoyed the scene where Dani agrees to be used as an excuse for her big brother to spend time with the girl of his dreams... on one condition. "Next year, we go trick-or-treating as Wendy and Peter Pan... with tights or it's no deal." A very young Thora Birch, then 11, played Dani as one canny negotiator! The relationship we glimpse between the boy from early Salem, Thackery, and his sister was an interesting way to show that while times, customs, and social perceptions change, some things are just universal.
Speaking of familial interaction, this film is worth viewing just for the delightfully enchanting chemistry between Bette Midler, Cathy Nagimy, and Sarah Jessica Parker who play the Sanderson sisters. Each one has their own wicked little idiosyncrasies, yet they manage to also maintain an amusingly tight sisterly harmony to the very end. There is no doubt who the headliners are in Hocus Pocus, nor is there anything quite so contagiously giddy as adults who throw themselves whole-heartily into their play.These three project mischievous fun delightfully, and throw out the challenge to adult viewers... Are you ever too old to just have fun?
Long ago, in a charming place known as Piscul Dracului nestled in the Carpathian Mountains, five motherless sisters bid their father good fortune as he sets off on a quest to recover his health. While he is gone, it is up to Tati, the beautiful eldest daughter, and Jena, her sensible sister, to mind their younger siblings and keep their merchant keep in well-run order over the long winter. Despite the many tasks that require their attention, and their grave concerns over their father's health and business, they are optimistic and determined to make their father proud of their unconventional upbringing. Should they find themselves needing advice, their Uncle Nicolae and his surviving son, Cezar, live just over the way.
Every family in the area has some tale of the magical faerie beings who live in the area, none quite so mysterious or dangerously powerful as Draguta, the witch of the Wildwood. Many such stories are full of fear or tragedy, even Jena's. She was just a small girl when she and her two cousins, Costi (the eldest)and Cezar (the younger brother), were racing through the Wildwood towards the lake one summer day to see who would choose titles first in their game. When their play is interrupted by an old woman's questions, Costi declares his desire to be King of the Waters. Cezar craves the title King of the Land, and Jena quite prudently wishes to be Queen of the Fairies. Although the old woman warns them all that nothing comes without a price, even sensible Jena never thought it would cost them dear Costi's life that very day!
Now that they are grown, when Cezar finds himself in charge of his own family's affairs, he seizes the opportunity to control all affairs, business or domestic, at Piscul Dracului as well. He plans to exact his revenge upon the Fae creatures of the Wildwood for his brother's untimely demise in the lake all those years ago. Obsessed with razing the magical Wildwood, Cezar's dictatorial manner is most alarming to Jena, who leads the sisters more and more as the eldest, Tati, becomes infatuated with a mysterious stranger. As Cezar's decisions become more demanding and unreasoning over time and his grip upon them tightens, all five sisters, as well as the local villagers, suffer under his rule. Jena and her sisters have very limited choices in an age when women were not seen as capable of owning property or running a business.
Once a month, with the coming of the full moon, the sisters shed their worries though. They slip from this mortal world through a bejeweled forest and cross into Queen Illeana's underland court to dance to their hearts' content in her faerie kingdom. Jena's only confidante is her ever present and loyal frog, Gogu; an enchanted being who can speak only to her and seldom about the truths he so desperately wishes would enlighten her life. Even this haven becomes troublesome to motherly Jena though as she watches her elder sister succumbing to the dubious charms of a boy who arrives with the Night People, a tenebrious and potentially bloodthirsty group of local Fae.
Can Jena find a way to keep her cousin's obsessions from destroying them all? Will she be able to hold her family together during these trying times? Is it possible to heal wounds that have festered for years? How can she save her self or her sisters from dark magic, familial dictators, missing household funds, the fears of their neighbors, or worse yet... the spells cast by their own innocently yearning hearts?
This lovely young adult novel by Juliet Marillier is a delightful fairytale for any age reader! Like a beautifully woven tapestry, it's textures are alluring and unfold in a riot of attractive colors designed to capture the imagination. While older readers may not be surprised by the twists in this tale, it is a truly charming and well told story that certainly entertains. I have always had a special fondness for fairy tales from every culture, but especially those that have not been bowdlerized. For all their magical and fantastical nature, such tales are meant to guide and teach young children about life and the importance of making well considered choices. I have never understood, or approved, of the concept of watering stories down to make them "acceptable" for children. Obviously, Marillier doesn't believe in this silly practice either!
While young women today are not constricted by the social mores of bygone days, it is still important for them to remember that such times existed not so very long ago. Between the five sisters, Marillier gives us heroines that are wonderfully human; innovative, inquisitive, full of youthful fancy, lovingly supportive of each other, moody, fallible, but above all strong enough to learn from their mistakes. Like all the best fairy tales, the lessons contained within this tale still apply today. Just like anyone else, Jena must learn to face and properly deal with betrayal, misfortune, balancing self-discipline with instinctive impulse, unwanted advances, familial duties, balancing sensitive desires with judicious necessities, and perhaps most importantly, her own mistakes!
Our heroine and her beloved sisters face real problems and potential dire situations without ever offending delicate sensibilities. Here at Piscul Dracului the facts of life, and bewitching fantasy blend beautifully to deliver a complete and satisfying tale to enraptured readers. Wildwood Dancing makes a lovely read-aloud tale for young children that they can grow into and still enjoy later. Older readers who are already or beginning to deal with that difficult transition period between child and adult are the target audience, especially young women, and Wildwood Dancing is certainly "grown-up" enough to be attractive to that audience.
As an adult reader, I was highly entertained, enthralled with the rich fantasy aspects, delighted with the earthy sensibility of the tale and characters, and quite thoroughly enjoyed this "young adult" novel enough to purchase a copy for myself. Aspects of other beloved fairy tales are evident here, notably; The Twelve Dancing Princesses, The Frog Prince and Mother Hulda. Despite a fair amount of predictability, the charm of Wildwood Dancing is undeniable. Whenever I feel burdened by the tedious or trying aspects of mundane routine, I put on my dancing shoes, slip between the covers of Wildwood Dancing, follow Jena and her sisters through their magical portal and dance with them as glide through their story; each one graceful, gleaming, powerful, and inspiring in their unifying individuality.
Paleontologist Dr. David Huxley is tremendously excited to be able to finish up a four year long project. Finally! The intercostal clavicle bone he has been hoping for has come to light, and his brontosaurus skeleton will finally stand complete! Unfortunately for mild-mannered Huxley this is when the outrageous Susan Vance enters his life.
In the wake of confused chaos that seems to hover about Susan like an uncertain halo, her dog manages to make off with the prized bone which gives Susan just enough claim on Huxley to pull him into her world of pet leopards named Baby, escaped circus animals, million dollar endowments, midnight serenades and mistaken identities. With Susan's help, Huxley's loses his job, his frigid fiancee, his clinging sanity, his respectable place in society, and his patience along with his clothes and all-important brontosaurus bone!
"Now, it isn't that I don't like you, Susan! Because, after all, in moments of quiet I'm strangely drawn to you, but- well, there haven't been any quiet moments. "
This 1938 classic screwball comedy is still an amazingly entertaining film. Classics, even mere comedies, endure for a reason... they were crafted with skill. Although I have also seen good remakes of several classics, it is hard to modernize some of these mad-cap comedies. Alot of the social niceties and relevant topics of the time simply don't exist anymore. are not understood, or sometimes even recognized, by today's audiences. These little cracks can quickly become yawning rifts when dealing with something as subjective as comedy. Radioland Murders is an excellent example of a more modern film that captures the essence of these madcap comedies of bygone days.
When my kids were younger, I could rarely get them to watch any film that was done in black and white. They seemed to think it was beneath them, or so hopelessly outdated that it would surely be a waste of time. Bringing Up Baby was a rare exception for my kids, then aged 7-11. This comedy is such a delightful romp, the lines drawn fairly clear and simple enough that the majority of its humor still shines through. It actually kept all three of them curious and entertained right to the end! Excellent set ups, comedic timing, and deadpan deliveries through out help to make this a classic comedy. How often do you get to see two perfectly ordinary individuals serenade a leopard with "I can't give you anything but love, Baby"? Shame it wasn't the correct leopard!
"He's three years old, gentle as a kitten, and likes dogs." I wonder whether Mark means that he eats dogs or is fond of them?"
Neither stolid David nor the scatter-brained heiress, Susan, let up til Baby is back in his barn and the last bone is in place. Cary Grant was a much beloved actor and set the mark for leading men of his era. Despite his popularity as a love interest, his sense of comedy and tragedy is unparelled. If you like this one, I highly recommend viewing both Arsenic and Old Lace and Penny Serenade. Katharine Hepburn was a brilliant actress who also challenged women, on screen and off, to be strong, independent, free-thinkers who aren't afraid to take action or voice opinion. While eccentric Susan isn't Hepburn's "best" role, it is an amazingly funny and entertaining one! I don't think Baby went on to do any other films. Perhaps the essences of a truly good screwball comedy is artfully explaining "How can all these things happen to just one person?"
In the not too distant future, an epidemic threatens humanity causing organ failures. GeneCo arises as the savior of the human race by developing organ replacements... for a price. You better be able to afford the operation too, or at least keep up with your payments, because now organ repossession is legal. Skip a payment, and the Repo man will chase you down with his scalpel to collect GeneCo's product!
Against this grim backdrop, another tale unfolds like a rare black orchid. Rotti Largo, founder of GeneCo and the current king of pop culture, discovers that even he can hold back Death only so long. With his own demise looming before him, Rotti moves to permanently dash the hopes of his hopelessly spoiled, corrupt and blood lusty children while also sealing the final revenge on his old rival, Dr. Nathan Wallace.
Nathan and Rotti both loved a young woman decades ago. Marni chose Nathan, and Rotti has never forgiven either of them. Marni developed a blood disorder during her pregnancy, and Nathan was forced to choose between saving the love of his life or their unborn daughter, Shilo. Seventeen years later, and Nathan is still reliving the nightmare of his loss as well as blaming himself. He keeps Shilo locked away in her tower room, far from the death, grime and danger found on the city streets. Obsessed with her safety and well-being, Nathan controls her through medication she believes she needs regularly to survive... until he can find a cure. Rotti worms his way insidiously into Shilo's life, with promises of a cure, but his selfish heart is plotting the ultimate revenge. Will the secrets he reveals to Shilo save her or destroy them all? One thing is certain, the final act of this Genetic Opera is gonna be bloody!
This film has all the qualities to ensure it's place amongst other cult classics... oddity, graphic scenes, unique perspective, moments of shoe-string budget appeal, and over the top acting. Reminiscent of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and Little Shop of Horrors, it is bound to appeal to a very specific audience, but also has the potential to reach beyond that target audience to other viewers. At the heart of this Gothic opera, are the endlessly appealing themes of youth vs. age, shallow consumerism and the willing masses who would seemingly break their own leg to follow the fashionable dictates of society, as well as the age-old question of how much of our choices in life are dictated by our genetic makeup, how much by learned behavior, and how much genuinely stems from our unique self... and which has the most value?
There are a total of 58 songs in this musical, including instrumentals, and the tunes can be quite catchy as well thought provoking in their lyrics. One of my favorites appears at the end of the film, sung by Alexa Vega who was fascinating as the uncertainly rebellious Shilo. "Years...It's been so many years...Resenting the years, and my heredity. Oh, I have hated and loved you. I have hidden behind you, but I finally see that you I've mistaken for destiny, but the truth is my legacy is not up to my genes. True, Though the imprint is deep in me, it will always be up to me up to me." This Gothic Rapunzel goes through quite a journey to discover the wisdom and illumination of her own blossoming adulthood.
Terrance Zdunich as the Graverobber acts as her truest guide through the madness and chaos she finds awaiting her outside the safety of her tower. His voice instantly captured my attention from his first note, and the character's casual sarcasm, jovial self-interest, and mysterious need to reveal truth to Shilo make him as fascinating as Wonderland's Cheshire cat. Zdunich has only appeared before cameras once before in Chain of Souls (2001). He seems best known for his work as a storyboard artist from works ranging from Bedazzled (2000) to Into The Wild (2007). He co-wrote both the original play and the screenplay for Repo! The Genetic Opera along with Darren Smith, as well as composing for these productions. While he has kept behind the scenes til now, I for one am curious to see what else this obviously talented individual may go on to do.
Director Darren Lynn Bousman was reluctant to even audition Paris Hilton for the role of Amber Sweet, Rotti Largo's daughter. Appearing dressed perfectly as Amber, Hilton nailed her sound booth audition, capturing her the desired role. Amber, like many in this dark futuristic society, is obsessed with surgery as a fashion statement, and therefore addicted also to Zydrate, the current drug of choice for those needing relief from the agony following each operation.
She uses her body and looks as a commodity, and while she lusts after the position of "the voice of GeneCo" currently held by the much beloved and talented Blind Mag, she doesn't seem as interested in who inherits the company as her two bizarre and disturbing brothers. She spends most of her time strutting through the film in sex kitten outfits (many of which apparently came from Hilton's own closet) attempting to impress upon the world at large that her mediocre talent is worthy of media attention and pop culture worship. Is this acting, life imitating art, or type casting? Hmmm, hard to say, but it is undeniable that Hilton adequately fulfills the role.
Anthony Head of Buffy the Vamp-killer fame, is marvelous as Shilo's father trapped between his the light and dark of his own soul. Those who were never fans of the Buffy show might also be quite surprised at his considerable vocal skills. I found myself fascinated by how well he portrayed the many facets of the much disturbed and rather obsessed Nathan. He even manages to make the over-the-top number Thankless Job serve his purpose in showing the deep rift that splits the mind and soul of this character.
The talented vocals of soprano Sarah Brightman make the character of Blind Mag shine like the rare gem she is in the midst of this grimy and morally tarnished setting. Her film debut is captivating as she breathes life into the character and provides a welcome ray of short-lived positivity in this gloomy Gothic opera.
There are several technical errors sure to be spotted by seasoned viewers, moments where items inappropriately appear and reappear. These continuity errors only lend amusement and charm in a work that is destined to be such an instant cult classic. Rated for adult viewing only due to the themes of drug use, violence, gore, sexual content, and language, this film is certainly not for everyone. If you aren't offended by a someone driven to madness using another human being as a hand puppet to sing a duet, or are amused by the irony of a societal sheep testifying happily before the media that they had abused themselves to the point of kidney failure, but now "thanks to GeneCo, I can drink whatever I want!"... then this film is likely to appeal to you.
I know that I found this work's views on the inconsistencies of societal views and pop culture to be quite entertaining. This bizarre, lyrical splatterfest is perfect in its imperfection. Uneven in pacing, difficult to follow as graphic panels switch from past to present with live characters singing their part of this snarled drama, it is none the less, quite an interesting and well told tale. Settings, cast, and writers have combined to present us with something both familiar and unique. Producers have stated that this is the middle of a planned trilogy, although nothing definite has been laid out as far as time frame or casting. One thing is certain though... you have never seen an opera quite like this before!