Tuesday, February 20, 2018

200 Items Or Less: Asylum (1972)

A few thoughts: In the surprise of the century, this movie is framed within an...asylum. One of Amicus' 7 anthology films, this one fits somewhere near the middle for me (and release date-wise), which means it floats somewhere in between great and pretty good. This is one of their anthologies that allows the framework to play into the stories being told (somewhat), but the segments are very much still individual. As is always the case with these movies, I love the way this film looks, using slick cinematography and cool lighting in pretty interesting ways, but that's nothing to be surprised about. As could also be expected, the story segment centered around Peter Cushing is particularly good, and features some of the most creative visuals and lighting in the entire film. These 7 anthologies are all so consistently good, it becomes hard to find new things to say about them individually. There's a solid wraparound story holding this one together, and the variety within the stories is pretty perfect. Yet another really enjoyable portmanteau from Amicus.

Friday, February 16, 2018

5 Favorite performances: Danny Trejo

Danny Trejo

It's generally accepted that the best variety of acting is the kind that feels true. With that being said, Danny Trejo is one of the truest actors who has ever lived, a real-life ex-criminal who wears every bad decision and violent act on his grizzled face that has clearly seen (and done) more than his fair share of...let's say disreputable acts. Often cast as badasses, criminals, etc. Trejo feels like a stunt casting choice that somehow bled into more and more projects until he eventually became a real actor. And I'm so glad he did. He's a rare breed of actor who can say more by just existing than most others can with a script full of dialogue.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

200 Items Or Less: The Woman In Black (2012)

A few thoughts: In spite of an upsetting over-reliance on jump-scares and terror chords, there is a lot to like about this modern Hammer horror film. For one, the setting is great. I love the dreary town, foggy moors, and decrepit old mansion it's set in. I like the paranoid townsfolk delivering all the "don't go up to that house!" dialogue straight out of a classic horror film. I like the cinematography and period-appropriate attention to detail throughout. But beyond these surface things, the movie starts to fall apart. The jump-scares and things popping out to scare the cameraman become tedious -- let the creepy images be scary on their own, you don't need to throw in explosively loud banging noises to shock people into thinking they're creepy. All it does is disrupt the atmosphere and come across as cheap. The music is derivative, but identifiable enough to work, I just wish they'd done more with the orchestral music and less with the "Blaaaah!!! Krpshhh!!!" crap. It's a solid horror movie that could have been much better just by a few omissions and some toned-down audio.

A look back at 2017 in film

With easily the least number of movies I've seen from a modern year, 2017 (based on my limited sample size) was also the most mediocre for me in terms of the greatest and the worst that I saw. Most everything fell into the 6/10 to 7/10 range, which is possibly the worst kind of movie to see in great excess. Without a ton of garbage to complain about or brilliant art to praise, a good chunk of my moviegoing experiences from 2017 were pretty forgettable and barely worth the effort. That being said, I still have a dozen or so films I plan on watching before I start doing any top 10s, but that isn't going to keep me from working on this little retrospective. So buckle in, this is going to be a pretty lengthy post, methinks -- Iwas lying when I used the word "little" just a moment ago. HOWEVER, I will include this alphabetized list of all the movies included here, where you can click on the titles you're interested in and go straight to my segment on that particular film. Easy peasy, lemon febreezy. Here's the list:

Sunday, February 11, 2018

5 Favorite performances: Clancy Brown

Clancy Brown

An uncommonly versatile actor, Clancy Brown is one of relatively few who has managed to be both a successful (and prolific) voice actor as well as a familiar face to people who generally avoid animation/video games. With key roles in movies like The Shawshank Redemption, he's not the kind of guy most people will recognize by name but are more than familiar with: par for the course for a character actor. He's got good comedic timing, dramatic whatchamacallit, and the ability to be as over-the-top or reserved as the material he's given calls for without being a distraction. You don't always have to be the lead actor to stand out, and Brown is proof of that.