Posts Tagged ‘movie review’

Diary Of A Serial Killer – Through The Eyes Of A Busey

Posted 03 Apr 2018 — by Ezra Stead
Category Film Reviews, Movies I Didn't Get

By Ezra Stead 

Diary of a Serial Killer, USA, 1998

Directed by Joshua Wallace

Right from the opening frame of the 1998 straight-to-video thriller Diary of a Serial Killer (also known as Rough Draft), it’s obvious the viewer is in for a cheesy affair. The score, with its heavy saxophone wailing and bombastic drum-machine track, feels more like something from the ’80s rather than the late ’90s, and the rest of the movie feels the same way. Our protagonist, Nelson Keece (Gary Busey) is introduced dressed in drag that is, while certainly not convincing, enough to render the distinctive-looking actor practically unrecognizable. In fact, he actually seems to be enjoying these early scenes more than the rest of the movie, and it almost makes you wonder if maybe he chose this project out of bitterness that he wasn’t included in the cast of To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar, alongside his Point Break co-star Patrick Swayze (and his Drop Zone co-star Wesley Snipes).  Read More

Dr. Seuss’ How Ron & Jim Ruined Christmas

Posted 16 Dec 2017 — by Ezra Stead
Category Film Reviews, Movies I Didn't Get

By Ezra Stead

How the Grinch Stole Christmas, USA/Germany, 2000

Directed by Ron Howard

Several times while watching the Ron Howard-directed How the Grinch Stole Christmas, I found myself wondering, “Who is this even for?” At 105 minutes, it’s a bit on the long side for kids small enough to actually enjoy Jim Carrey’s manic, over-the-top turn as the title character, and the whole thing is far too ugly and irritating for older kids, let alone adults. On the other hand, my niece (aged six) and nephew (aged ten) say they love it, and it was released long enough ago that I also have adult friends who remember it fondly. I do know who it’s not for, however, and that is the grumpy old Grinch writing this review, as this is decidedly a Movie I Didn’t Get.  Read More

Spooktober 2017: The Return

Posted 28 Oct 2017 — by Ezra Stead
Category Essay, Film Reviews

By Ezra Stead 

As always, I am not finished almost exclusively watching horror movies for the year, nor will I be once Halloween night has come and gone; this will likely continue throughout November. However, in the interest of providing this list with some sort of seasonal relevance, now is the time to tell you about a handful of the movies I’ve watched so far in this, the best of all possible seasons. As it happens, this year I ended up watching a high percentage of iconic franchise entries, so, forsaking some other great ones I discovered that don’t fit into this category (Pretty Poison and The Blackcoat’s Daughter in particular are a couple of real gems), let’s take a look at some noteworthy sequels, in the order in which I viewed them.

CULT OF CHUCKY—I don’t think any horror franchise in movie history has reinvented itself so drastically as this one. The success of the original Child’s Play (1988) led to two more of the same, basically, before series mastermind Don Mancini took it into full meta-comedy mode with Bride of Chucky in 1998, following that up with the unfairly maligned Seed of Chucky in 2004. Curse of Chucky came along in 2013 to bring the series back to real horror, with fewer nudges and winks, and with this latest entry, Mancini has struck the perfect balance, and made the best Chucky movie since Bride, at least. It’s rare for the seventh entry in a franchise to be this good.
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It – Floats Much More Than It Sinks

Posted 11 Sep 2017 — by Ezra Stead
Category Film Reviews, Movies I Got

By Ezra Stead 

It, USA, 2017

Directed by Andy Muschietti

The 1990 TV movie adaptation of Stephen King’s wildly ambitious 1986 novel It has always had a place in the hearts of folks my age (we’re apparently known as “Xennials” now) much like that reserved for The Goonies. This love for both movies exists in us for the same reason: simple nostalgia. Unless you first saw both of them at a young, impressionable age, it might be too late now. For anyone remembering the It miniseries as genuinely scary, watch it again; it’s far more unintentionally funny. With the advances in special effects technology over the past 27 years, though, and without the restrictions imposed by television network standards, the new theatrical take on King’s novel fills the void quite nicely for those who want to be genuinely frightened by a movie about a bunch of misfit preteens facing down a murderous clown-monster.  Read More

Brigsby Bear – Make Something Cool With Your Friends!

Posted 26 Aug 2017 — by Ezra Stead
Category Film Reviews, Movies I Got

By Ezra Stead 

Brigsby Bear, USA, 2017

Directed by Dave McCary

Though Dogtooth certainly has its dark sense of humor, one wouldn’t expect a movie about an abducted child raised in an isolated, hermetically sealed world based on lies to be a comedy. This type of premise has yielded great results as emotionally devastating drama, as in the rightfully acclaimed Room, or intense psychological suspense, as in the by-and-large underrated 10 Cloverfield Lane (not about a child abduction, but dealing with similar ideas in terms of the nature of the protagonist’s captivity). Despite these and some other obvious comparison points, though, veteran Saturday Night Live director Dave McCary’s feature debut, Brigsby Bear, is a wonderfully original, sincere, and idiosyncratic movie that manages to not only earn cruelty-free laughs from an inherently unsettling subject, but also to make a larger point about the very nature of art and entertainment, without being annoyingly meta about it.  Read More

Dunkirk – War Is (Boring As) Hell

Posted 21 Aug 2017 — by Ezra Stead
Category Film Reviews, Movies I Didn't Get

By Ezra Stead 

Dunkirk, UK/France/Netherland/USA, 2017

Written and Directed by Christopher Nolan

There are two points I should address by way of prefacing this review. One is the fact that I have spent the better part of the past year being underwhelmed by this movie. Ever since the first teaser trailers began to surface, I’ve been thinking things like, “Well, I’m sure I’ll see it,” and, “It’ll undoubtedly be good, but…” No matter how I tried, I just couldn’t work up any real enthusiasm for it. It’s not that I’m not a Christopher Nolan fan, it’s just that this one didn’t appear to have any magicians, dream detectives, or… Batmans in it, so it was already at a disadvantage when it came to subject matter.

I say this just to make it understood that my feelings about Dunkirk are not disappointment. The movie absolutely delivers what the trailers promised, it’s just that, for this reviewer, that was nothing particularly compelling. If you saw those trailers and were immediately excited to see the movie as soon as possible, well… obviously, you’ve seen the movie by now, and I’m sure you loved it. There is nothing for you in the remainder of this review but frustration and rage. Fair warning.  Read More

The Little Hours – Quirky Isn’t Necessarily Funny

Posted 14 Jul 2017 — by Ezra Stead
Category Film Reviews, Movies I Didn't Get

By Ezra Stead 

The Little Hours, Canada / USA, 2017

Written and Directed by Jeff Baena

Comedy and horror are the two most difficult genres to successfully pull off, because what makes us laugh—just like what scares us—is highly subjective. Even nearly universally acclaimed works in either genre will inevitably have their detractors, as some [backwards-thinking idiots] might not think last year’s The VVitch is scary, while other [no-fun jerks] might not find Anchorman funny, for example. I myself have been informed by numerous people that they find the sketch show Portlandia “hilarious,” though, having personally witnessed the entire first season, I don’t see how this can possibly be true.

Based on the reactions of the admittedly small crowd with me at a recent screening of The Little Hours, this is apparently a pretty funny movie, though I honestly felt like most of the laughter I heard was somewhat forced, as if the other moviegoers were just going through the expected motions when they could tell a joke had just been attempted onscreen, flat as it might have fallen. Maybe it was the only way they could feel as if they’d gotten their money’s worth; I don’t know. I never laughed once, and it pains me to say that because there are a number of gifted comedic talents involved.  Read More