Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Halloween Horror Marathon: The Scariest Scene I’ve Ever Seen

Over the past month (and as early as yesterday), I’ve made my appreciation for John Boorman’s Deliverance abundantly clear. So, by this point, there’s no need for me to casually remark how much this film terrifies me – it is, without question, the most horrifying film I’ve ever seen. And its most infamous scene is reason enough to thank for that.

Note: The scene in question has been discussed, mocked, ridiculed, made famous and everything in between, ten times over. With all that in mind, I’m going to discuss it in great detail. Detail that would be best appreciated by people who’ve seen the film.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Halloween Horror Marathon: Top 10 Scariest Non-Horror Films

Yesterday, I mentioned that the majority of horror films do not scare me. Blood, guts, ghouls, guns, knives – these are things that do not phase me in the slightest. Real life terror, however, frightens me to no end. Seeing shit in movies that, depending if you’re in the wrong place at the wrong time, could happen to just about anyone – that’s the stuff that creeps in and stays with me.

So, for something a little different, here’s a list of the scariest non-horror films I’ve ever seen (all of which, for the record, I love).

Monday, October 29, 2012

Halloween Horror Marathon: Top 10 Horror Films

This horror week has been harder than I thought. Truth be told, I had two more franchise breakdowns ready to go, but I no longer saw the need to propel the trend that I long ago discovered: many original horror films are awesome – grade A, perhaps. And their subsequent sequels/prequels/remakes are, by and large, dogshit.

So let’s have some fun. Below is my list of my personal favorite horror films. A few notes: masterpieces like Psycho, Alien, and Jaws won’t be mentioned below. More on why here. 

Also, these films are listed in order of how… horrific they are. For example, the number three film on this list is my favorite movie of the bunch, but the number one choice is my favorite horror film of the bunch. Enjoy!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Halloween Horror Marathon: Psycho Franchise Breakdown

Like all of the franchise breakdowns I’m doing this week (but to a far harsher degree here) tracking Norman Bates’ filmic demise only gets worse as time goes on. We start with a masterful film, and end up with one of the most ridiculed movies of all time. And so it is and so it goes. (Note: I have not seen, nor plan to see, the ‘80s TV movie, Bates Motel.)

Friday, October 26, 2012

Halloween Horror Marathon: Hannibal Lecter Franchise Breakdown

Is there a movie villain more deserving of limitless iconic praise than Dr. Hannibal Lecter? Well, that depends. If we only examine Anthony Hopkins’ performance as Hannibal the Cannibal in The Silence of the Lambs, then I think he ranks as high as any film villain out there. But is the character as strong in subsequent films? Allow me to thrill you with my acumen.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Halloween Horror Marathon: Friday the 13th Franchise Breakdown

For the week leading up to Halloween, I’m dedicating this blog to all things horror. Over the next few days, I’m going to break down several popular horror film franchises by giving mini reviews of each respective film. And what better way to start off than with the man himself?

The name Jason Voorhees is and will forever be synonymous with the horror genre. Here’s a look at every film that has featured him. Sequels, prequels, remakes, reimaginings – everything goes.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Halloween Horror Marathon: Paranormal Activity Franchise Breakdown

Having gone back and reread my reviews for Paranormal Activity and its sequels, I noticed that I prefaced every review by saying that my initial screening of Paranormal Activity marks the scariest movie-going experience I’ve ever had. I suppose I’ve mentioned that year after year because, well, it’s true.

Paranormal Activity is a great film. Not a great horror film, but a great film period. Does watching it at home with the afternoon sun pouring in lessen its fright? Of course. But does that take away from the film’s overall impact? Not in the slightest.

And here’s where things get tricky.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Halloween Horror Marathon: How Do You Define a Horror Film?

As part of my Halloween Horror Blogging Marathon (which begins tomorrow, or, I guess, today), I’m dedicating the next week to the best that horror cinema has to offer. In preparation, I’ve been doing a lot of research on various horror films, and just this moment, I was struck with a question: how do you define what a horror film is?

Monday, October 22, 2012

the Directors: Edward Burns

In August, as I wrapped my top 10 directors of all time, I decided to tag on Edward Burns as an honorable mention. I admitted upfront that his inclusion on that list may seem drastic, as there were so many more prominent and notable filmmakers left off, but if I’m being absolutely truthful, no director influences me more as a filmmaker than Edward Burns.

The man makes movies for that reason alone: to make movies. He isn’t worried about money or fame – he writes, produces, and stars in all of his films because that is the best way he can think to express himself. If that’s not inspiring, then I don’t really know what is.

Looking over his filmography, most of his body of work is made up of movies I typically wouldn’t enjoy. Yet I am taken with all of them. There are a few reasons for this, the primary one being: Edward Burns shows that anyone with talent and the drive to make it, can do just that.

Friday, October 19, 2012

10 Exceptional Cases of Wives Interrogating Their Cheating Husbands

I hope you didn’t think I was going to let the men get off easy. Yesterday, I listed my 10 favorite instances of husbands interrogating their cheating wives. Today, the men get chewed out.

I hope you enjoy the second (and final) installment of this admittedly random (but no less fun) series!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

10 Exceptional Cases of Husbands Interrogating Their Cheating Wives

There’s something so uncomfortable and real about a scene in which a film character interrogates his or her spouse about their fleeting fidelity. And after watching this scene for, I don’t know, the 100th time last week, my brain started churning as to the best cheating wife interrogations. 

Here are 10 of my favorites. Some are heartbreaking, others are jaw dropping, and some are just goddamned hilarious. Enjoy.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

10 Great True Story Movies You Already Know the Endings To

I’ve read a ton of reviews of Ben Affleck’s new film, Argo, since posting mine a few days ago, and while most are rather positive, I’ve noticed a trend in reviews, especially among older-aged critics.

Many say despite the fact that they like Argo, they find themselves unable to fully appreciate it because they already know the story’s ending. This is an age-old movie discussion: Can you enjoy a film that you already know the ending to? My simple answer: of course you can.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Seven Psychopaths

Seven Psychopaths is the kind of movie where I am completely aware of what is going on, yet I have no idea what’s happening. It is nonsensical and bathshit insane, but, at the same time, fully confident of its absurdity. It never holds back or dials down – it simply pushes it further and, somehow, continually manages to increase its hysteria.

Now, what I’ve just described is either my kind of movie, or something I don’t give two shits about. That’s the risk Seven Psychopaths takes. You’re bound to either love it or loathe it (or be completely indifferent toward it). If this is your kind of movie, then you’ll simply love every second of director Martin McDonagh’s tale. If you aren’t feeling it, then, well, you aren’t feeling it, and you’re going to be miserable.

Monday, October 15, 2012


Ben Affleck’s Argo tells a sort-of true story about the very real story in which a sole member of the CIA (one evidently equipped with very big balls) attempted to retrieve six American diplomats out of Iran during the country’s hostage crisis of the late ‘70s-early ‘80s.

This is a rather plot-heavy movie, so before I dive into how it all went down, let me throw you a few hyperbolic messages of praise. Argo is an impossibly tense, superbly acted, wonderfully entertaining political thriller. In typical George Clooney fashion (he acts as a producer here), the film is also a worthy throwback to the best of ‘70s American cinema. The 1970s brought with it the finest crop of domestic films this country has ever seen in one single decade. So, to warrant legimate throwback praise, your film must really be doing something right. Which Argo does. By a long shot.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

In Character: Woody Harrelson

I should open by relenting that I don’t necessarily consider Woody Harrelson a character actor, per se. But no matter, in looking over his entire body of work, I was rather surprised to see how much of it is laced with utter perfection. He’s delivered countless exceptional performances, yet I rarely call him one of my favorite actors. Maybe that’ll now change.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

In Memoriam: Harris Savides, Cinematographer

If you’ve seen a really fine-looking independent film in the past 12 years, there’s a damn fine chance it was shot by Harris Savides, an expert American cinematographer who, for reasons still unknown, passed away earlier today at the age of 55.

I’m fascinated by virtually every aspect of the filmmaking process, but there’s something about the art of cinematography that can move me explicably. A great cinematographer can provide images that evoke any number of emotions, possibly many at once. Savides had that ability. And more.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

My Favorite Scene: Malcolm X

Spike Lee’s Malcolm X is a three hour and 20 minute epic that covers the four decade life of one of America’s most controversial and misunderstood men. It is a masterpiece of film that contains boundless moments worthy of extended discussion. It also, for the record, contains one of the single greatest performances in movie history. It’s the type of role that doesn’t level the biopic playing field, so much as define it.

Denzel Washington isn’t impersonating Malcolm X here, he is Malcolm X. Spike Lee continually admits that much of the best acting in the film was improvised by Washington. The man was so familiar with X’s way of speaking – his cadence and charm and reserved rage – that he would often “ad lib” speeches that weren’t scripted. I put ad lib in quotes because even though Lee didn’t script the words, Washington knew the actual man had said them. It’s a performance of such charisma and vulnerability, wrapped in a film that is that and more, that I often find myself amused by the fact that the film’s best moment is capped with the utterance of a single word.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

The Invisible War

The Invisible War is one of the most horrifying films I’ve seen in years. It’s a film that aims to document the longstanding epidemic of rape in the American military system, which it does, with equal parts candor, rage, dread, and indecision. Like the best of Kirby Dick’s films, The Invisible War tells its story from just one side. I imagine that Dick goes at great lengths to hear from the other side of the issues he exposes, but I presume in this case, that other side prefers to publicly remain hidden.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

EARRINGS: The Commentary

I had originally planned to record and release a commentary for my short film, Earrings, a few weeks after I put the movie online. Then indifference kicked in.

There’s this weird thing that happens after you create something. You move on from it, possibly even before it’s done. I’m better off speaking strictly for myself here, but by the time Earrings was released online, I had all but considered it a thing of the past. I acknowledged its completion and was happy and ready to move on. This isn’t to say I’m not proud of it. It is as accurate a reflection of my vision as I hoped to achieve, and I am continually humbled by the kind words people have lent toward it.

The point of all this is: when Earrings was done, it was done. It was time for me to share it, and subtly step away. A few weeks ago, I got the urge to record my thoughts about the film via a director’s commentary. I think (...hope) I’ve kept the track equal parts entertaining, technical, and informative. I surely hope those interested enjoy listening to it. If nothing else, the track is a perfect verbal documentation into one of my life’s most beautiful dark twisted fantasies.

Here’s the film with my commentary:

For those new to Earrings:

Thanks to everyone for your unwavering, continued support! 

Friday, October 5, 2012

In Character: Stanley Tucci

Despite his consistent appearance and demeanor, that of a bald, soft-spoken, kind, trusting middle aged man, there simply is no role Stanley Tucci cannot play. And play effectively. Wall Street whistler blower, conniving adulterer, serial narcissist, Holocaust architect, psychopathic killer, flamboyant art director – damn near every role Tucci steps into is executed with utter conviction. His amount of outstanding performances is certainly greater than the number I’m about to highlight here, but all told, these are the ones that have stayed with me most.

Thursday, October 4, 2012


Looper is the type of high concept, wanna-be bitchin’ but ultimately flawed sci-fi film that I’ve seen all too often.

In the film, men called loopers are hired in the present (which is 2044, Kansas) to kill people sent back in time. Joe (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is what appears to be a common looper. His mob boss gives him a time, he goes to a field, waits for a body to appear out of thin air, pulls the trigger, disposes of the body, drinks with his buddies, does drugs, sleeps with his stripper of choice. Wake up. Repeat.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Director Quotes Relay Race

David from Taste of Cinema has started a blog relay race in which us bloggers collectively gather and post our favorite quotes from film directors. Chris from Movies and Songs 365 has been kind enough to pass it on to me, so here goes.

Here’s the explanation of the relay race in David’s own words:
People love wisdom from great minds. As a cinephile, I prefer director quotes more than words from any other group of people in the world. Their thoughts on cinema not only provide insights into a deep understanding of cinema, but also open the window to their own films, their genres, and their filmmaking methods, thus the need to receive more exposure as their films did.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012


V/H/S is precisely the kind of movie I should not like. That statement may carry some weight (however slight it may be) with people familiar with my movie tastes. But for those unaware, I am completely unfazed by the majority of contemporary horror films. Throw the whole found footage narrative (or rather, debacle) into the mix, and I’ve all but rolled my eyes before frame one. V/H/S is the exception. The very scary, very smart, very rare exception.

The Master

The Master is and will be the most difficult film to discuss this year. And I mean that on a number of levels. Since first seeing it a week and a half ago, I’ve been asked consistently: A.) What it’s about, and B.) If I liked it. Two questions that are difficult to answer for different reasons. I’ve given the film a second go recently and having let it stewed accordingly, I can confidently assert that The Master is a fine film. A damn fine film, actually.  That takes care of part B. As for A: hell if I know.