Tuesday, December 8, 2015

A Very Murray Christmas

Murray plays himself in this variety show within a variety show, which nobody attends due to a blizzard. With his worries come true, Murray wallows through New York City's Carlyle Hotel with the holiday blues, but fellow guests will get him by with some Christmas spirit. Great song selection and performances, but each number is performed in its entirety, dragging things on a lot longer than necessary. The ensemble cast includes cast and crew that have become part of Murray's modern clique, making A VERY MURRAY CHRISTMAS seem (appropriately) like a group of friends getting together for the Holidays but at the end of it all, this Christmas special just doesn't end up being all that funny.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Goodnight Mommy

*** This review may contain spoilers ***
A pair of twins (Lukas and Elias Schwarz, going by their real first names) suspect an impostor underneath the facial bandages of a woman that's supposed to be their mother (Wuest) after cosmetic facial surgery. The setting of a lakeside house is not only beautiful, but it also creates a sense of isolation and quietness that will keep you on the edge of your seat. The film is not without its flaws; particularly with how it handles its twists and turns—but just like some of the best lies have truth to them, some of the best twists have obvious to them. Even still, directors Fiala and Franz execute well enough to keep you engaged throughout, and do a pretty decent job of throwing you off track at random times, despite the film being guilty of trotting down the path of predictability.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 2: Freddy's Revenge

Rushed sequel with Freddy Kruger (Englund) manipulating main character Patton into doing his murders for him. Black sheep of the franchise, with it being the only film in which the male is the protagonist and also to have no recurring characters aside from Freddy. Typical inferior horror sequel, but it does make attempts at honoring its predecessor. Its low points are a scene with Freddy possessing a pair of lovebirds; and another scene where Myers is inexplicably right on her hunches, trying to convince Patton that it wasn't him who committed a murder when he admits to it, but also that he made his confession to her with his hands soaked in blood! Rusler is slightly more appealing as the bully-turned-friend; unfortunately, he's not explored enough and ultimately comes across as a contradictory character. Concept may have actually worked had they given it another year or two to fill the bumps in the script.

A Nightmare on Elm Street

A group of teens are haunted by Freddy Kruger (Englund), a burn victim with knives for fingers who murders his prey in their dreams. Not only scary for its violence and Englund's performance, but director Craven does a terrific job toying with the audience's perception between imagination and reality. However, the film is plagued by terrible dialogue, and Oscar-nominee Blakley's delivery is horrendous. Depp is surprisingly forgetful in his debut. Despite its overwhelming flaws, it's still worth a replay every five or so years. Seems kind of like a cheap-shot to villain-ize a burn victim, but Kruger's attire and his boiler room lair are just so perfect for the horror genre.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Dead Poets Society

Film set in 1959 (based on screenwriter Schulman's own experiences at academy) about liberal English teacher Williams influencing his students who attend all-boys Welton Academy. Focuses more on the group of boys, but Williams is able to work his off-the-cuff dialogue enough to keep you reminded that it's still him. Absolutely beautiful Northeastern setting, with excellent enough pacing to keep you entertained the entire way through. The boys are surprisingly less dorky than you'd think. The film never takes the easy way out, with Weir and Schulman seeming perfectly content with impending gloom. Kudos also for developing how important teachers can be to their students and vice versa. Williams' character was inspired by Samuel Pickering.

American Beauty

Tragedy meets melodrama meets the fearless hip '90s, following the Burnham family as they deal with their first-world problems. Lester and Carolyn (Spacey and Bening) are getting older, and both are trying in their own way to hang on to the last moments of what each thinks is the prime of their lives; while their teenage daughter Jane (Birch) is having issues of her own, dealing with finding her identity and not feeling pretty enough next to her "friend" Angela (Suvari). Neighboring Fitts family (consisting of Bentley, Cooper and Janney) work their way into the mix because the son is stalking Jane. A film that speaks to those who have seen a midlife crisis, and is still entertaining to those who have it to look forward to. Oscar-winner is entertaining right from the get-go, and is an experience as flawless as a rose upon first viewing. However, after you've seen it a few times, the rose begins to wilt, unmasking contradictory characters and inexplicable events that unfold just to appease its themes of confinement, conformity, redemption and sexuality—why does Lester lecture Carolyn about materialism right after HE's the one that bought a Pontiac Firebird? Why didn't writer Ball or director Mendes at least try to make Bening's character slightly redeemable? All the many other questions to raise require spoilers, but the list goes on... Hard to completely hate because it's easy to understand why so many people like it.

The Wedding Singer

After being ditched at the alter, wedding singer (and aspiring rockstar) Sandler decides to give up love for good and live life as a bachelor, until he falls for coworker Barrymore and ends up helping her plan her wedding to womanizing Glave. The soundtrack is amongst some of the better 1980s playlists out there, and even if you don't care about a retro flashback, this outing is still a charming romantic-comedy. Some of the laughs are more side-jokes than plot related, and Sandler has a few moments of his annoying trademark tirade, but why pry too much when it has the fun, romance and ability to be replayed no different than your favorite '80s record?

Sunday, October 11, 2015

The Monster Squad

A group of monster-savvy kids must rescue their city from Dracula (Regehr) and his monster troops. It's as stupid as it sounds, with some of the kids not even being likable, such as Gower's character, who is so underdeveloped that there's the need to flesh him out by dragging his parents and five-year-old sister into the mix, with the mom and dad's conflict being that he works too much and then we have Dracula actually calling the five-year-old sister a well, that part's worth seeing, so no spoilers there. Rightly earns itself a cult status for Stan Winston & Co reimagining the Universal Monsters but the terrible story still can't be redeemed by amazing SFX. Some versions of the film foolishly credit Noonan as Frankenstein when the movie itself points out the common misconception of it being the monster's name when it's actually the creature's creator's.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Horrible Bosses 2

The trio are back as their own bosses this time around, inventing a carwash-like shower system that they foolishly invest to businessman Waltz, who shamelessly takes full advantage of their inexperience and stupidity. In an attempt to break even, they kidnap his equally cruel and charming son Pine and hold him for ransom. The banter between Bateman, Day and Sudeikis is just as sharp as the original, and the plot itself isn't half-bad for a sequel. The downfall is the minor roles from Aniston and Spacey that—albeit fun—are too forced into the story that is stretches the movie into unnecessary territory.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Little Miss Sunshine

Roadtrip hit with all the right moves, following a dysfunctional family traveling from Albuquerque to Redondo Beach in an antiquated yellow Volkswagen T2 Microbus so that Breslin can be a contestant in a beauty pageant. While they fail at leaving their problems behind, their experiences on the road ultimately help them grow closer to each other and cope with their personal situations. The entire cast contributes their share, with grandfather Arkin winning Best Supporting Actor Oscar. Very rare to mix seriousness in a comedy without it coming across as melodramatic, but screenwriter Arndt and directors Dayton and Faris make it work!

Saturday, September 26, 2015

So I Married an Axe Murderer

After numerous breakups over what his friends and family consider shallow and a way to avoid commitment, the hard-to-please aspiring poet Mike Myers finally finds himself the perfect match in Nancy Travis... there's only one flaw... she might be an axe murderer! Very Mike Myers humor with lots of buddy comedians in supporting roles or cameos, all taking place in a so-very-'90s San Francisco—this film only works because all the pieces fall into the right place. Surprisingly light-hearted given its title, only getting dark in the third act. Killer (pun?) soundtrack. Travis actually cut off the tip of her finger during a scene at the butcher shop.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Captain Ron

Panned 1992 family-adventure about middle-class family man Martin unexpectedly inheriting a boat, and instead of paying a boat mover to sail it from the Caribbean to Miami to sell it, he takes his wife (Place) and children (Salisbury and Sisto) on a "spontaneous adventure" led by an incompetent captain-for-hire (Russell in the title role). Viewers may be getting too hung up on the fact that it is Russell in the funny role and Martin in the serious one, but the latter is excellent as a dorky yuppy whose patience is being chiseled away by the former's family-unfriendly antics. If you sit back and roll with it, it's like letting the wind carry the sails, with its wonderful score by Pike and beautiful filming locations (mainly shot in Puerto Rico).

Thursday, September 17, 2015

The 40-Year-Old Virgin

One of Apatow's signatures is to really dig deep into his characters; which, for a comedy, sometimes ends up turning things unexpectedly serious and/or surprisingly heartwarming. For FUNNY PEOPLE and KNOCKED UP, toying with drastic genre shifts was tolerable because there was at least payoff with good jokes and interesting characters. However, in his 2005 outing about sweet but overly awkward Carell, there is a major lack of satisfaction when attempting to explore the root-causes of why our main character just can't (or won't) "get any". The jokes are few-and-far-between, but when they are finally delivered, it is so juvenile that actual 40-year-old virgin aren't even this desperate for a laugh. Its attempts at being funny are the painful reactions of getting waxed (hairy people don't get laid?) or that our maiden-man thinks breasts are hard (you have to feel them to know they're soft?).

Sunday, September 13, 2015

First Blood

Frustrated veteran reaches his breaking point after being harassed by a sheriff (Dennehy) and his deputies in the small town of Hope. Neat to see forests of the Pacific Northwest turned into a jungle of combat, but characters suddenly disappear from the story without explanation (Caruso and Mulkey, for example); and the ending is abrupt that the narrative arc almost seems absent, it feels like they just ran out of ideas and decided to stop. Stallone is great as Rambo, but his delivery is so bad that even a heartfelt monologue has to be deciphered through closed-captions and replays.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

A book about "THE CORNFIELD PEOPLE" in stores now!

Some of you may remember several discussions regarding the supposedly "lost film" The Cornfield People, a low-budget thriller believed to have been filmed sometime around 1999–2001.  It's about a paranormal journalist who is doing a story on the Cornfield People, a cult that knows the meaning of life.

The movie is currently unavailable, and any footage uploaded to Google Video, YouTube or torrents have all been deleted.  This could be due to copyright issues, but author C. W. Schultz's website notes that there is no copyright registrations under The Cornfield People, and its two alternative titles Operation D-minor and The Phantom Film.

Its difficulty to obtain have led many people to conclude that The Cornfield People is nothing more than a hoax.  But Schultz began intense research into the legend of the film, and has just released A Book About a Film, where not only does he claim to have seen the movie, but that he has also received threats for trying to prove its existence.

Schultz is not the first person who has been "bullied" out of talking about The Cornfield People.  No cast or crew members have come forward (save one person detailed in A Book About a Film's appendix, who cannot be verified because he was a "masked extra"), nor has any distribution or production companies claimed any sort of involvement.  While this supports many people's theory that the film is only a hoax, it's a suggestion to others that the events contained within the movie may have actually happened.

Schultz had the pleasure of speaking to many professional and amateur filmmakers about their interpretation of The Cornfield People and how it influenced them in their daily lives.  All of their interviews are documented in A Book About a Film, and the release of the book became so intense that some of the interviewees backed out, resulting in Hillsbury Publishing having to redact some of their names.

A Book About a Film is a double story, per se; one acts as a novelization of The Cornfield People, while the other examines interpretations, symbolism, theories and its underground notoriety.

A Book About a Film was released on Tuesday, September 8th, 2015.  I received my copy on September 10th, and am already 80% of the way through it.  Whether or not you've seen The Cornfield People, Schultz's A Book About a Film is complex, disorienting and hard to put down!

Kindle (not recommended) and paperback are available at Amazon, while hardcover copies can be purchase through Schultz's website by request.

I too have seen The Cornfield People.  Because there are no credits on the bootleg I saw, I often wondered if I actually saw this particular film or if it was some other underground flick.  Schultz's book details exactly what I saw in an unique narrative that's slightly more detailed than a screenplay but slight less detailed than a novel.  Read my review here.

A teaser trailer for A Book About a Film was released, which includes a few clips from The Cornfield People as well as other random establishing shots.  Watch it here, and hurry before it gets taken down too.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

A Haunted House

Wayans notices unusual occurrences after he welcomes girlfriend Atkins to move in, with their experiences being documented through security video and a hand-held camera. Includes a fair share of jokes that both land and miss. Surprisingly insensitive at times, but this one's not for those who can't take a joke anyway. It's frustrating that Wayans feels the need to succumb to loud, childish reactions when he's proved himself quite capable of delivering clever comedy. Unlike many parodies, which usually have several targets, this outing focuses mainly on PARANORMAL ACTIVITY, which ends up limiting the range of mocking the "found footage" genre. Presented to the MPAA in two versions, but both ended up with an R-rating.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Tucker and Dale vs. Evil

A group of college kids go camping and cross paths with the two titular hillbilly characters, who end up being far more well-meaning than their appearances suggest, making for some hilariously bloody, tragic misunderstandings. Make a cake by mixing DELIVERANCE, EVIL DEAD, Friday THE 13TH and SLEEPAWAY CAMP together; and ice it with HAROLD AND KUMAR GO TO WHITE CASTLE, JANE AUSTEN'S MAFIA!, SCARY MOVE and SILENCE OF THE HAMS for the frosting. Labine and Tudyk know how to bring quality laughs to the table; while the makeup, SFX and visual-effects departments all deserve a kudos for their impressive talents that would make a more serious movie legitimately horrifying. And let's face it, the two leads are so likable that they even bring a strange sweetness to this incredibly goofy outing. A parody-comedy that gets some good chuckles from those outside its target.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

The Unauthorized Full House Story

Pretty interesting account showcasing the lives of the FULL HOUSE cast while the hit series was in production from 1987–1995 (and book-ended by relevant events outside of the show's run), with a primary focus on Stamos (Gaston), Coulier (Mader) and Saget (Brawith). Very well-casted, and its pacing is impressively smooth. A main setback is the lack of major conflict warranting such a "dramatic story". It's also a bit strange how the characters can say they wish their real lives were as simple as FULL HOUSE when the show was about a young widower and his three motherless daughters.... Still, kudos to the attention to detail—they even make sure to cover Posey as Danny Tanner in the unaired pilot.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation

Well-received fifth installment follows Cruise as he chases down terrorist Harris; while at the same time staying under the radar (but not without the help of loyal Rhames, Pegg and Renner) of CIA agent Baldwin, who is convinced the IMF has done nothing for global security and has instead been criminally endangering and compromising previous missions. At times, the dialogue is just as bad as Woo's second installment; but from the opening scene of Cruise climbing on the outside of a flying Airbus A400M (without the use of special effects or a stunt double, by the way), there's no doubt another impossible mission will accomplish your entertainment. It's nice to see reprising characters getting fleshed out a little more, and the minor references to previous films are indeed fun; but this excellent series runs the risk of slowing down if each installment is becoming less and less self-contained. Hats off to Harris, who breathes life into a textbook greedy madman just by his unique voice.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

A BOOK ABOUT A FILM teaser trailer

C. W. Schultz's upcoming release A Book About a Film concerns the lost/unfinished movie The Cornfield People that has been obsessively covered by this very blog.  At midnight, Schultz's official website www.cwschultz.com released a teaser trailer of the book which includes never-before-seen footage of The Cornfield People.  Some people who claim to have a copy of the film have tried to upload it to YouTube or Google, and the movie kept getting removed, so this teaser trailer might be the closest some people may ever get to viewing The Cornfield People.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015


A so-very-'90s disaster film that's excellent at everything except the acting. After trucks carrying toxic waste explode in a tunnel under the Hudson River, former Emergency Medical Services chief Stallone has the instinct to put himself in danger and go down to rescue any potential survivors. The explosion alone is worth watching, and there are plenty of other SFX that hold up to this day. Unfortunately, there are just way too many obstacles to keep the intensity fresh on top of the pedestrian acting—it's hard to tell if it's the cast or the script that's to blame. The nostalgia of it all will give it some brownie-points for replay value.

Friday, August 7, 2015


With his career failing, dimwitted male fashion model Stiller is brainwashed and used as a pawn to kill the Prime Minister of Malaysia (Asai) by a group of corrupt executives. Pretty decent if you give it a shot, with Taylor's backstory demonstrating some real thought being put into some of these characters. Long list of cameos are real fun, but it's Stiller and Wilson together on screen that takes the cake. The film contains elements from a pair of short films for VH1 Fashion Awards television specials in 1996 and 1997. Surprised there is not more fashion model cameos. The soundtrack is terrible, despite possibly being intentional.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

We Are What We Are

*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Childers plays the eldest child in the Parker family and after her mother's accidental drowning, she must take the lead in a very horrific family tradition. Meanwhile, Parks plays a doctor who refuses to give up the search for his daughter that went missing years ago, and his autopsy exam of Ma Parker (DePaiva) lands him a connection to a family that might know a thing or two about his quest. Slow, but Mickle sets a great tone, and we are ultimately led to a very memorable finale that will especially satisfy those hungry for a cannibal-horror flick. Parks and Sage are the same as always, but they're good at what they do.

Mission: Impossible II

John Woo dumbs down this sequel to the 1996 action-spy blockbuster so much that it's almost unwatchable. What was cool back in spring 2000 and became out of style by autumn 2000 is all here: Limp Bizkit's rendition of Lalo Schifrin's theme, Tom Cruise's bad haircut, Thandie Newton as the leading lady, Anthony Hopkins hanging out in Spain, Rade Šerbedžija and his mustache, etc. Yes, this film's predecessor is a bit more complicated than what it needed to be, but it didn't need to be given a lobotomy. Even Ving Rhames' reprisal and the Australian setting can't save this hopeless, dull waste of two hours. The 1960's show's cast responded negatively to the first film, it'd be interesting to hear what they have to say about this one.

Monday, August 3, 2015

National Lampoon's European Vacation

The Griswolds (changed to "Griswalds" for this outing) are back and off to Europe after winning the free trip on a game-show. Predictable and inferior, likely the weakest of the series, but still offers some worthy laughs nonetheless. Both kids are replaced, but the recasting has since become a fun ongoing gimmick in the following films. Perhaps working Randy Quaid back into the plot somehow would've made this holiday more memorable? Despite its flaws, the concept of sightseeing with Sparky and his fam still "works" per se, so this installment is far from a complete waste. Followed by NATIONAL LAMPOON'S Christmas VACTION.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Birdman: Or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)

Reminiscent of his tenure as Batman, Keaton is perfect as a washed-out celebrity famous for the eponymous role whose Broadway play acts as a reflection for his fear of worthlessness. The film is structured to appear like one long take, where we are able to branch off into other characters' stories who reveal a similar fear of being insignificant. One of a kind and never boring. Met with overwhelming acclaim, including the Oscar for Best Picture. Main character's decisions in the third act are a bit too questionable for everyone to be gaga over this outing, but all-around outstanding performance (especially by Norton) will carry any dead weight.

The Galapagos Affair: Satan Came to Eden

German and French expatriates relocate to the Galapagos Island of Floreana, where their dreams of solitude take a tragic turn after a series of disappearances. A cast of voice-actors wonderfully narrate the writings of the residents, while current interviews from those who live on the islands paint a vivid picture of what the settlers were searching for and what could've gone wrong. The whole affair is brilliantly pieced together in a cinematic three-act structure, with the majority of the subject's actions being shown through photographs, newspaper clippings and archive footage. Shortening or cutting out an interview or two would've improved the pacing. Meant to shed light, not give answers. If you want a realistic story of trouble in Paradise, look here!