Friday, May 29, 2009

Midaisle Critic: Summer Movie Review: Drag Me To Hell

The latest from Sam Raimi is exactly the opposite of what horror cinema has become in recent years. Sam Raimi must have a gift for taking basic horror stories, adding in some campiness (just for fun), and jolting his audience around for the duration of a film.
This shows Raimi at top form, like he was in Spiderman 2, or Evil Dead 2 (funny how that works), and it seems that this film will stand as a true return to cinema horror. I have never been a big fan of the horror subgenre, save for Raimi's 'Evil Dead Trilogy', Poltergeist, and the Shining.

Drag Me to Hell is an interesting beast. With that said, I must say that I was surprised at how intense, purposely self-depricating (c'mon the campiness truly adds to the mythos of horror, and when you have a film like this, you want to laugh, cry, and jolt), and well rounded the overall film turned out to be. All of the previous reviews that I had read before viewing this film (mostly from SSXW and Cannes) were all but positive, and that largely has to do with Raimi's "return" to the form he best displays in direction (sweeping action, jolty scenes, camp, horror, and characters that you want to protect a.k.a. sympathetic characters).

Alison Lohman does a great job as the titular (and cursed) Christine, and even Justin Long manages to break out of his previous typecasting (the mac guy, John McClane's annoying sidekick in Die Hard 4). I was overally impressed by the casting that Raimi went with, although I wonder how the film would have played out with Ellen Page as the lead, as she was originally casted. All in all, the film jolts you around for 2 hours, on a sweeping, stomping thrill ride of classic horror. As noted by my brother, "even though I knew when suspenseful moments were going to occur, I still reacted with a jump everytime something happened."

I would recommend Drag Me to Hell to those who enjoy getting scared, but expect to be treated with some intelligence, and credit (which I feel most horror movies lack these days). Sam Raimi knows his audience, and it shows. Nice Job Mr. Raimi, now don't mess up Spiderman 4, I read your interview and I hope you mean what you said.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

MidAisle Critc: Summer Movie Reviews: Terminator Salvation

For the first time this summer I have truly hit a slump in my reviews, and I apologize to anyone who reads them for the lateness of this particular entry.

Terminator Salvation is an interesting piece of cinema, as it carries with it a long history of fanboy idealism, 3 previous films, and (up until this film) the guise of a popular action star (Arnold Swarzenagger). This is the first Terminator film to prominently feature the future as the primary backdrop, rather than the impending result of what is to come.

The film is primarily action oriented, and as such misses out on some of the most important aspects that made the first three films so engaging. I know it can be a bit unfair to compare this to the masterful T:2-Judgment Day, but it is simply hard not to. We have seen John Connor grow up before our eyes, and in the guise of Christian Bale, it seems that we have finally hit the point where John Connor begins to fade from human spirit to disillusioned/grizzled freedom fighter. Yet, we (the audience) does not seem to connect with Connor. There is something about the portrayal that seems carbon copied, or even robotic (hehe). I know that there has to be more that that (potential wise) in all this.
The film strikes questions (as the previous films had) about the human spirit, human identity, and ultimately human struggle. This film does touch on those questions, yet they touch on them in ways that only seem to want to mention the philosophical ramifications, rather than actually discover meaning behind it. The film falls in the arenas of true human emotion, and focuses itself on creating a catastrophic apocalypse. Some may find this more action-oriented Terminator to be what they have always wanted to see, but I can't help but feel a little disappointed.
I enjoyed the film, and did like how they used elements from previous films to give it a futuristic look, and so my review takes a split at this point. Even though I felt as though character, dialogue (to some degree), and directorial choices were a bit of a letdown, I felt as though the film composed a war-like quality that gave its viewers a truly futuristic battlefront.
If the series continues, which I believe that it will, I would only recommend to the filmmakers to try and work on their characters more, giving us a reason to connect with them, and ultimately find a way to capture the emotional effects that made the first three films so contrasting.
Will Salvation be memorable? I don't think it will make quite enough of an impact, and in that I find that sometimes, somethings are best left to better directors, with better visions.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Chroni WHAT Cles of Summer (5)- The Birds

As I was walking down the long road to the espresso cafe, I was aggressively swooped upon by three black birds. I don't know if they had their nests in the nearby trees or what, but I felt the wind coming off of their feathers, and my mind instantly shot to Alfred Hitchcocks titular film.
I rushed to the cafe, but the birds followed in pursuit. I got so freaked out that one of them would peck at me that I started jogging and jumped behind a car in the parking lot...

Seesh... what an experience.

This isn't the first time that this has happened, mind you, but the second! The other time happened three summers ago, on the same road... Its a deathtrap!
Luckily the cafe remained a safe haven from my feathered agressors, and I managed to enjoy eating my southwest chicken salad, while reading Migliore and watching the French Open.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Chroni WHAT cles of Summer (4)- Keeping it Cool

First Point: I don't get mad very easily
Second Point: I don't like getting to the point where I would be becoming agitated
Third Point: I live a very stressful life, which can lead to multiple trains of unfortunate events.
a.k.a. Some days I can't catch a break.

The topic at hand is money. Money stresses me out. Not having enough to be able to accomplish what I need to do, not having enough to acquire the assets to accomplish what I need to do, having to rely upon its constant fluctuation in order to "survive", and also having to deal with the reality of finances in general: stress me out like no other.
And I hate it.
I think it comes out of a desire to set myself apart from a worldview of materialism, as well as a desire to not hold onto the worldview that money is always the background of all activity. I fight against it, I fight against this idea that we have to constantly be measured by dollars and cents. Unfortunately, I can scream, shout, and act like Jim Carrey (which I do when I get really really stressed out... after the stage of getting really tired, frustrated, and emotionally distraught); but in the end I have to find a way to stand against it, while still being able to function within it.
Its a dilemma. I need a car, cars cost money, I have no money... thus I need to work, save, and spend in order to continue forward... but at what cost?
In all reality, we all get stressed out, we all find those things that rise up around us/within us that cause us to get angered, and sometimes it is discouraging to consistently face, but there is ultimately hope.
I wonder if Adam was really stressed out, or merely afraid.
Maybe Cain was the first to be stressed out; I mean he killed his brother in cold blood, and then was not only forced to walk the earth, but marked for all eternity. I would be stressed.
Can you imagine Noahs' stress?
or Moses's ?
Just thinking about it, it makes my head hurt. Maybe that's why I connect with characters like Hosea, Moses, Peter, Jonah, John the Baptist... they all faced great opposition, and were constantly being shifted, tested, and pushed. And through that I feel a solid connection.
One day I will write more on that, but not today.

In a modern context, I think there is only one person who never seems to lose their cool...
you can find a video of him here
Haha. Enjoy.
To be honest, this day has been one of the most frustrating days that I have had in a long time. I had to deal with loan officers, bank issues, traffic, car shutdown issues, issues with my accounts being started in california (which doesn't switch over to Chase until October... which means that while in Washington... unless I want to send every check down to California... I had to open a checking out in washington, ontop of the ones that I already have... which means I have to change a bunch of other things... ugh), issues with getting hours at work (which were later resolved), and so on and so forth, yet...

I did go to the golf course today though, and I must say that being on the putting green at 6:30am, in the misty rain, was probably the most relaxing thing that I have done in so long, and I hope to do again soon. That made things a little easier.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

observations...

I saw a beautiful girl today.
She had sandy brown hair, a nose ring, a great smile, and organic/folklike attire (including what Bono would call "sexy boots")
She was beautiful.... truly...
I was at Jamba and I took her order, and poured her drink.
We discussed how she was going to a folk music festival, and how ecstatic she was about sitting in the sun, listening to "sweet melodies."
She smiled and took the drink, I smiled a shy boyish smirk... without a word to say...
She probably met up with her friends and discussed new and progressive ideas concerning theology, philosophy, and politics... all while eating ethnic food, and discussing art, film, and music...
oh come on.... she might have...
haha...

Anyways.
As I have been working at Jamba Juice, I have begun to notice how influencial random interactions with people can actually have. I was reading through some of the book of Hebrews tonight, and I came upon the verse, "Let brotherly love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitatlity to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares." (13:1-2) I found myself struck by this verse, as it helped me to reinterpret my outlook concerning interpersonal communication. I understand now that as we humbly encounter, and hospitably treat other human beings, we thus allow ourselves to become servants to those around us. Some will respond (physically, or verbally, or whatever) and through their confirmation, we can find encouragement. But what of those who do not give us that affirmation? We may never know the type of impact we will make conscientiously or subconsciously for those individuals, and thus our actions/words/attitudes take on a new level of importance. How often do we hear this? How often do we think of angels rejoicing in the wake of service? How often do we take for granted those who we do not even know?

At Completorium (my college group) tonight, we were discussing suffering. I proposed the idea that suffering can be encountered, as well as enacted in response to a statement made concerning mans ability to even become desensitized to suffering. This was an interesting thought, as I have never thought about the limitations of suffering, only about the situations that arise in recent memory. I have become passionate about the suffering of others, but in order to have gotten to this point I have had to know what suffering entailed (only to the degree which I can encounter, enact, or understand... as only Christ truly understands the breadth of suffering), and thus it is through an experential, as well as theoritical, understanding of those around us (as well as ourselves) that suffering becomes a reality in this journey of faith. All in all, I find that if I live a life of faith, truly trying to live out Christ's message, and truly trying to get closer to him, then I will experience suffering...

"Truly, Truly I say to you, you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice. You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy" (John 16:20)

powerful....