Movie Madness

My movie reviews and rants at your fingertips.

Monthly Archives: October 2010

It’s Kind of Funny Story

Here is a movie that is all about finding your way through life…via a psychiatric ward. Like Girl Interrupted and One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest before, our protagonist is a bit off by society’s standards, but one of the less afflicted in the ward.

Keir Gilchrist plays Craig, a boy whose thoughts of suicide have been more pronounced lately. Craig goes to a hospital and pleads to be admitted to their inpatient psychiatric wing of the hospital. There, Craig realizes too quickly how brash his decision was. He tries to get out and get back to his life, but the hospital has a minimum staying period of 5 days.

Here he is met by Bob, played by Zach Galifianakis, who takes him under his wing and shows him around. They quickly friends and over the time spent at the hospital they teach other a lot about life. He also meets Noel (Emma Roberts) and he starts to develop feelings for her.

The film stays true to its characters, never betraying them as the scenes enfold. Despite some obvious factual errors in how a ward is run, we see a rich and comprehensive environment. This is a place of hope and uplifting as opposed to usual evil psycho ward cliche. At first you laugh at some of the patients there, but as the film continues to explain them, you accept them and think of them as people rather than punchlines.

The film walks the line between comedy and drama well, but I still consider this a dark comedy. Major kudos to Galifianakis for portraying Bob. He was so believable that I hope the award ceremonies take notice. He isn’t over the top, and his character makes us both fear and enjoy what is to become of him. A great film that I hope all of you get a chance to see.4 out of 5 stars


Saw 3D: The Final Chapter

The Saw franchise is running out of steam. The last two or three films have been nothing but fluff for horror fans. Lionsgate knows this and gets creative and somewhat redemptive on the last (or is it) film in the franchise that has gone on every year since 2004.

Jigsaw’s widow attempts to thwart Detective Hoffman, the rogue among Jigsaw’s assistants. When her attempt to kill him ends in failure, she goes to Hoffman’s old coworkers for help. All that Hoffman wants is her, so she makes a plea bargain to save herself in exchange for giving over evidence to convict Hoffman.

Meanwhile, an author who wrote of his Jigsaw survival story is being tested. Those who know the franchise, we feel there is something off about this story, not long before his test starts do we learn what that is.

The 3D gimmick is used, but not abused in this film. The novelty and the twist add for a more refreshing film than those of the middle of the franchise. The cameo by Dr. Gordon from the first film really ties the franchise up in a nice bow.

This film is for those who enjoy the franchise. My girlfriend, who has not seen all of the films, had unanswered questions due to the previous knowledge needed to understand the full story. A solid finale to a franchise that started superbly and went a bit wayward in the middle. 3 out of 5 stars.

Paranormal Activity 2

Who would have thought that a movie made for $15k would launch a new horror franchise. Just as the Saw franchise is coming to an end, a new horror franchise has stepped up to fill the void. The obey concern is whether it can overcome the Blair Witch 2 and maintain its creativity.

Paranormal Activity 2 decides to stay close to the original, a concept that makes it more cohesive as a sequel. This one begins the month prior to the original. Katie and Micah from the first film make a few appearances to further continuity. Katie and the mother of the family in this one are sisters, so the objective of the demon expands it’s gaze to the family.

After a seemingly random break-in trashes their house, the family decides to install security cameras both inside and outside of the house. Though a handheld camera is also used by some of members of the family, the majority of the action is captured the security cameras. Just like the first film, it is a slow build as things escalate and get more out of control, tearing the family apart.

Though the film has a few false endings, the actual ending is horrifying. The effects are kept to a minimum here, the execution is both realistic and fluid. The first film was a truly scary movie for contrasting the mundane of day to day life with the supernatural. This film does that, but the scares aren’t as shocking, some are even put in just to maintain any plot holes. The true scary parts are when the baby Hunter is involved. Adding an animal and/or baby only intensifies a film because of their innocence and loyalty. A solid and creative follow up to a great original. 3.5 out of 5 stars

The Human Centipede

I’ll be the first to admit that the concept for this movie both repulsed and intrigued me. They went to great lengths to ensure that the centipede was indeed accurate. Unfortunately, the gimmick is it’s only reason to watch the film in its entirety.

The Human Centipede is a B-movie through and through. The dialogue is weak and the effects, outside the actual centipede, are amateurish. The cast is very one-dimensional. Despite its B-movie appeal, the film falls flat.

The story follows two American tourists as they head to a party while in Germany. When their car breaks down, they go looking for a place to call for assistance. They meet the bizarre Mr. Heiter, a surgeon who specializes in Siamese twin separations. But this time, he is instead connecting people via the gastrointestinal tract, and they have become two-thirds of his creation.

Following the actual surgery, almost a lll remaining dialogue is in either Japanese or German, with the two girls moaning gutturally as the back two parts of the centipede. This disconnect allows for the language barrier to act as an additional force separating the victim(s).

This film is not for the faint of heart. In fact, this film should be reserved for people who truly enjoy an outlandish horror movie. And even then, it isn’t a good one. It has its moments, but it is ultimately not enough to deliver on such an original concept. 2.5 stars out of 5

Jackass 3D

I’m surprised it took the boys to finally jump on the 3-D bandwagon. Here, we see our favorite bunch of misfits take their pranks to the third dimension. Never before, and hopefully never again, has 3-D technology been so simultaneously hilarious and disgusting. Poo, pee, a flying dildo, nothing is off-limits as the stunts make you uncomfortably aware of the stunts going on in front of you.

Since most pranks involving bystanders has become so difficult, the spend most of their time antagonizing each other. You can see throughout the film that Johnny Knoxville and the guys are still having fun. Johnny, knowing the punishment he would receive on the set, looks much more in shape, but almost sickly. A now sober Steve-O has a calm that the other films never showed.

The first one was a big surprise to everyone, and a modest hit. The second one, my personal favorite of the three, took it to new heights. Instead of taking it too far this time around, they filmed the 3-D and used instant replay as the gimmick it is. The third film is a good time, but the 3-D replays eat into the amount of skits in the film. If you like Jackass, this is true to its form. I’ll buy because I love these guys, but the weakest of the three. 3.5 out of 5 stars

The Social Network

This film on paper sounds like a dream. You got David Fincher directing his first film since the astounding The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, The West Wing creator Aaron Sorkin penned the screenplay, and Nine Inch Nails wrote the score. But how is it executed?

The Social Network follows Mark Zuckerberg, creator of Facebook, as he goes from Harvard outsider to rock star. Based on the book The Accidental Billionaires, the book sees his assent from college to the legal action associated with his behavior. In many ways, this is the modern-day Citizen Kane. Where a small pion rises to notoriety and fame through a given medium. Facebook is Zuckerberg’s Chronicle, except here Zuckerberg isolates himself with his personality rather than his greed.

The cast excels at taking the sharp and witty dialogue to its natural expression. Jesse Eisenberg conveys a side of Zuckerberg that many have never seen and played with a depth that we’ve never seen before in Eisenberg. Andrew Garfield, Justin Timberlake, and the rest of the cast do a great job in rooting themselves and play it authentically. Though partly speculative and filmed without letting actors communicate with their real-life counterparts, parts of the film have been modified for story purposes. The strength of Fincher’s direction is that we don’t know what those moments are since it is so cohesive.

The score, though borrows a few tracks from Nine Inch Nails’s Ghosts albums, the score is original. The sound and texture of NIN’s music adds a layer of tension and cool to the scenes, while being almost black noise. When the Academy Awards coming inevitably calling this winter, expect The Social Network to get some serious attention. A great film, in my top five of the year. 4 out of 5 stars