Thursday, April 28, 2011

Harry Potter 7 pt 1 Blu-Ray: Maximum Movie Mode

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Pt 1 Blu-Ray: Maximum Movie Mode
(Movie Rating: 4.5/5)

The Maximum Movie Mode option on the 7th movie's blu-ray is fantastic, awesome, super sweet...pretty much I can't stop thinking about how awesome it is.
This movie mode is a little like extreme commentary. I for one, love commentary like a fool. Maybe it's the little movie major in me, but I enjoy hearing directors, actors, producers, production designers, anyone pretty much discuss movies as I'm watching it. It makes me feel like I'm getting the most out of the story, and plus it's always fun to learn little trivial facts that I can bring up in conversations.
The main commentator in this very special movie mode is the actor who plays Lucius Malfoy (Jason Isaacs). Personally, it feels like they chose the best man to do the job. His knowledge of the series is phenomenal, and it doesn't hurt that he has a nice voice and he's not bad looking.
They talk about a strand of interesting things. When Jason Isaacs is on the screen, he mainly discusses how characters are feeling, the time line of the films (and books), and sometimes special effects. Other things they discuss are the origins of the horcruxes, behind the scenes features, deleted/edited scenes, blood/gore makeup, and the overall production of the movie. Tom Felton (Draco Malfoy) also occasionally reads passages from the actual book <3.
In all, the discussing of past events is sometimes tedious as a reader of the books (and I reread them a lot), but those scenes are fantastic for those who don't read the books at all (which is a tragedy and you should go pick them up now, I don't care who you are).
Either way, if and when you get a blu-ray player, you must watch this movie in maximum movie mode :) it's pretty much a must for any die-hard harry potter fan, whether it be just the movies or both film and books.

I should also mention I did this post kind of in the excitement of the Deathly Hallows pt 2 trailer hitting the internet :D It's fabulous. Watch it now:

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Martyrs and Inside

As an attempt to possibly gain 2 1/2 more pages to my 8 page term paper, I thought of the brilliant idea of discussing it as a casual blog. Seeing as I'm having the up-most difficulty expressing my words at the moment in formal, maybe this will work, who knows!

So the 2 films I'm writing over are the French (extremely gory) films Martyrs and Inside. Both films share a common thread of feminine ideals, blood soaked and unbearably hard to watch torture/stabbing scenes, and a common phobia of the outside finding its way to harm the inside (oh ahahaha, that's even a title of one of the films, how clever of me).
Probably the real reason I chose these films is that they are the only 2 movies within the past few years that have actually scared me first time watching (we will discount the fact that The Human Centipede gives me the chills every time I see that damn trailer, but that's not because it's scary, I just find it so gross).

So, here are the trailers for those who are not familiar with the films

Both films have an interesting new twist on the beast in the boudoir motif that circulates many horror films. While Inside is a little more traditional with the home invader being the antagonist, Martyrs has us following one of their 2 protagonists, who acts as the home invader. The switching of the roles is very crucial to what the film stands for. By flipping the patriarchal nuclear family as the enemy, rather than the one being harmed, the audience's sympathies lie then with the invader herself (who is everything but the norm). With Inside, the home invader wins, which is also a switch on the normative ideal that the victim inside the house winds up saving the day and defeating the evil from the outside.
Another really interesting thing these films touch on is the allusion to France's xenophobia. Specifically with Inside, the Paris house represents France, while La Femme (the home invader) represents the unstable outside trying to find its way in. This situation is also a parallel to the ongoing 2005 riots that happened in suburban neighborhoods in France. Interesting, no? The film also revolves around the riots as well (the protag's a photo journalist, the police officers who attempt to protect her mention them...etc), but this is just so the audience hopefully understands what the film's actually trying to say about the riots in the end when the outside wins over the inside.
If Martyrs is very explicit with symbolizing France's xenophobia, it's really hard to find. However, something I can mention on my blog which I can't mention in my essay due to the fact that I can't seem to actually get more the the online article than the title, is the idea behind Martyrs metaphorically defiling and neutering it's lead female. Though I can see where the article is going, mainly from the 2nd half of the film's horrible torture scene, I'd have to disagree. I feel like the second half of the film is an "exploration of female empowerment" (look at the fancy quote I have from a article you can find here." Sure, they cut off all her hair (which is the sheer essence of femininity) and they torture her until she has successfully transformed into a martyr, but I feel like this is way more empowering to women (oddly enough, don't make fun). The significance of a female martyr is essential to the film's overall meaning. Why is it that a man cannot be a martyr, hmm?? To even emphasize that women are much more biologically capable than men, the film has a series of photographs that are all of women. Sure enough, even this gigantic women, named Mademoiselle, is in charge of the estranged cult.

And why is it that femininity has to be all flowers and pink? La Femme, the antagonist of Inside, is total masculine, and even has this witch-like quality to her (which I've learned from analyst Doty that apparently totally means lesbian). Further, La Femme in french means woman. So, why would a character with such sheer lack of feminine qualities be named "woman"??! Could this mean that the writer wanted to take a stab at what their version of feminine actually is?? Well, I would like to think that. Maybe what both of these films tell their audiences is that femininity and masculinity are not so opposite as one would think...hmmm. Not only that, but that it's possible the females are in fact stronger than males, both films having examples of this (martyrs can only be females, La Femme kills every man that attempts to save Sarah).
As to not reveal everything I'm writing about in my term paper (I mean really, so far it's 6 pages long) I will stop here. But maybe one should think about what I wrote about and then possibly take another look at both the trailers (especially the Inside one, which I'm super glad I found because now I will totally be using it as back-up argument in my essay).

Super glad if you actually read my rant, and watch more foreign films :)

Wednesday, April 20, 2011


Draquila - L'Italia Che Trema: 3/5

The documentary Draquila plays out similarly to any Michael Moore movie would -- it is completely one sided, and the director gets directly involved with all of her questioning and only uses what will support her viewpoint. Which isn't to say this is a bad thing at all. In her documentary, Sabina Guzzanti specifically focuses on the management of the 2009 L'Aquila earthquake by Berlusconi government and his staff. To be honest, if you are the slightest unaware about the politics in Italy at the moment, or are not used to documentaries that give you information so fast it makes your head spin, you'd probably need to brush up on some facts of your own before viewing this. It's completely stuffed with information starting from the first second down to the last, and what makes it harder to follow are the rapid subtitles. However, that being said, this documentary is still interesting and playful enough to hold an audience's attention.
This documentary alone will peak your interest to look more into the scandalous Berlusconi. From his insane sex scandals to his (what appears to be) lack of heart for his own country, I can only wonder how this guy has continues his reign as prime minister. I think the most impacting scene for me in this whole film was seeing walls of a shattered church post earthquake that had beautiful Sistine-Chapel-Esq painting, tarnished,ruined and forgotten. The art town of L'Aquila currently is in shambles and it appears that no one is even trying to restore it. It's a tragedy.
Overall this film was interesting. I feel like for the first time this semester I've actually leaned something about another country that I totally didn't know, rather than relearning more and more about what's been going on in the middle east within the past 5 years.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Scream 4

Scream 4: 3/5

The movie that every horror fan has been waiting for has finally arrived, and doesn't disappoint -- well, almost. Scream 4 tries to be this super smart and sleek and fully self-aware horror film that exploits the mechanics of all the new horror franchises and remakes that have become popular in America over the past decade the Scream films have been on hiatus.
Within the first 5 minutes of the movie, Saw has already been name dropped and there has been a comment on J-horror remakes. This is alright for a set-up to a film that supposedly "dissects" the horror genre and exposes all the world for it to see, but unfortunately it comes across a little too Scary Movie-like. I also felt a little annoyed with the Anna Paquin cameo, because it almost felt forced to be there at all, and I was the most excited for that one.
As the film pushes through, it starts to actually feel like a Scream movie and not its cheap knock-off. Ghost Face is a little more logical on his horror film deconstruction, knowing that Peeping Tom was the first of the voyeuristic stare and slasher craze, plus many of the high school kids are supposed horror film geeks as well (their film club itself seems to revolve around classic 70's horror films) and they all love the Stab franchise. However exciting this is for a person like me who is currently in a class that specifically studies horror films, the characters in their entirety still lack one important element that even in the beginning one of the cameos states isn't in torture-porn franchises these days (ironic, huh?) - character development.
You can try all you want to defend it, but every single one of the characters that lasts until the final bloodshed doesn't have one distinct quality that separated them from each other. Maybe this could be seen as a continued exploration of the Internet generation's inability to relate to each other, but I see it as poor story telling. Every high school kid seems so unaffected by the stabbings, it's almost insulting. They prank call their friends and ask them "What's your favorite scary movie?" constantly throughout as they make googly eyes at the town's returning celeb - Sidney Prescot. However, the lack of character development could be as simple as there were too many characters that could have been called the protagonist, and not enough to call the supporting cast.
In the beginning you have the trio of semi-popular girls (Emma Roberts, Hayden Panettiere, and Marielle Jaffe) who have 2 boy-stalkers (Rory Culkin and Erik Knudsen) and an evil ex (Nico Tortorella); plus if that's not enough you have 3 returning cast members (Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox, and David Arquette) and one new police officer who has a mad crush on Dewey (Marley Shelton). All totaled up, that's 10 people to keep track of, and at least 7 of them are prime suspects to be Ghost Face.
Another fault in this movie is the timing of the killings. Once the killer is revealed, and you go over all the killings in your head, it almost seems impossible that no one ever discovered their identity, especially Sidney.
A lot of the movie also tries to mirror the first and best Scream to the exact, and they also mention a few times in Scream 4 that it's impossible for any movie to "fuck with the original." Maybe the writers tried to use it as an excuse for it not being as great, but I just found it a cop out to attempt to make it fantastic.
It just feels like I'm simply complaining about the movie at this point, but I actually did like it. If any new character had any potential to be a new favorite, Hayden Panettiere sure was the best candidate. Also, the twist ending (though I found it a little obvious who the killer was) was still so brutal and sweet, but I don't want to spoil anything :). As far as slashers go, this one is an enjoyable and mindless remake, or continuation (whatever the forth movie wanted to play itself as) that could beat up Saw 4's trickiness any day. Some feel there isn't much room for a slasher film these days, but I see it differently. People want stabbings now more than ever while the torture porn industry is swaying slightly to the unpopular (but not for me, of course). I say, we should just bring back the good old 2nd half of the 90's horror films like I Know What you Did Last Summer and Urban Legend for the pure enjoyable creative stabbings they had to offer. Everyone still loves a psycho killer with a crazed mission and Scream 4 shows just that.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

My First Post: Hanna, Bride of Re-Animator, Crossing Borders

So I suppose since this is my first blog, I will tell you a little about it :) I'm an avid movie watcher. I love all things film, which explains why I'm a film major at UNT and also work at the local movie theater. I get to see a lot of films a week, and I love talking about them, so I figured I'd start a review blog! My hope is to open up people to movies they haven't seen or ever thought of seeing, with of course the occasional blockbuster movie that hits theaters :)
The title of my blog comes from the Japanese word 映画館 ("eigakan"), which means movie theater. I chose the title not only because of my minor in Japanese, but because I have the weakest spot for Asian film.
Even though I see at least 3 films a week, there are still my off days where I don't watch anything. Possibly I will then review movies that I have seen in the past and love, or TV series that I have finished a complete season of. Whichever! Today since it's my first, I thought I'd do a trio of films I saw this past week. 1 at work, and 2 from my film classes. Enjoy!

Hanna (2011): 3.5/5
Beating out 3 of the 4 movies to release this weekend with $12.2 million, Hanna is a remarkable film with tense action sequences. However, what makes this film a step above many 2011 films so far is the remarkable characters intertwined in the intense plot.
The main character, Hanna (Saoirse Ronan), is the most unique at best. She is as strong and super as any rouge-man-on-the-run I've ever seen. Hanna takes names and breaks normative child boundaries not so different from Kick Ass's Hit Girl. She's totally hero material. Not only does she beat down bad guys ever so easily, but she also speaks multiple foreign languages which makes her even more of a super awesome hero.
But Hanna is not my favorite character in this film. That award would have to go to the little girl, Sophie (Jessica Barden), who is Hanna's best friend. She's so adorable with her spunky "I'm-too-good-for-this-world" attitude and her subtle pop cultural references. Not only that, but she's an excellent supporting character who perfectly balances Hanna's rough-and-toughness.
I should also mention how the movie's music is fantastic. The Chemical Brothers made a perfect techno score that went along with every beat of the film, doing something that I feel Daft Punk's Tron: Legacy score could not do.
Usually movies of this type do not interest me. I'm not one who is super excited to sit down and watch a rouge hero run from The Big Bad American Wolf (which speaking of children stories, I loved this movie's unique parallels to Brothers Grimm fairy tales). However, I feel this movie creeps out of the cliche of these usual thrillers and creates a world all its own.

Bride of Re-Animator (1990): 2.5/5
This film was a little hard to pay attention to after a long class of lecture. The beginning and the end feel a lot more well-paced than the exhausting middle. The allusions to famous classic horror films are also easy to spot (Bride of Frankenstein being the obvious one from the title).
Some perks to watching this movie would have to be the gore. A couple of my favorite creations were five fingers with an eyeball connecting them which ran rampant around the doctors' house while a police man was interrogating them. Another hilarious creature was Dr. Hill (David Gale), a head brought back to life, who in the 3rd act of the film is able to fly because bat wings are fused to his head and creates chaos for the doctor buddies Cain (Bruce Abbott) and West (Jeffrey Combs). You can never go wrong with the non-threatening flying head. The body of the bride was also unique, showing many veins and muscle rather than skin and body, which was pretty cool for the gorehound in me.
Another perk to the film is Dr. West's quirky little one-liners ("My God...they're using tools!") which come in handy to describe the action always when needed.
All in all, I feel this film only skims the surface of funny allusions that Gremlins made use of so well.

Crossing Borders (2009): 3/5
This documentary, unlike many my teacher has shown in my International Documentary class, was light-hearted and easy to watch. It's about 4 American students, that while on their their study abroad trip to Spain travel over to Morocco and meet up another 4 Moroccan students there. I feel this film doesn't go as deep as it should with regards to how most Americans view the Islamic world, but after meeting the director post screening, I realized he only wanted to skim the surface and spark the imaginations and encourage others to go abroad and see the world for themselves, to become more cultured. This documentary does what it wants to do, and nothing more. It's essentially an advertisement of sorts for his non-profit study abroad organization.