Short Film Saturday: The Devil’s Castle (1896)

The cinema’s first horror film!

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Two For Tuesday: “Pigs (Three Different Ones)”

Introduction

This is a theme I’ve wanted to create for a while. Many of my themes are weekly. Sometimes due to timeliness the need to post twice in the same category arises, and that’s what Two for Tuesday is for. I posted a music video yesterday. I feel compelled to post this from Roger Waters. It’s a live performance of “Pigs (Three Different Ones)” with a decided anti-Trump theme.

NSFW and Viewer Discretion is Advised.

Origin of Evil saves Ouija

Having not written about the original Ouija probably the only way to dissect this one is via a comparative analysis. As I’ve mentioned previously, I don’t go into a standard review with comparative analysis as one of my primary tools. I feel it is so separate and other from reviews that it is its own category on this blog.

Suffice it to say that the original film was one I disliked to such a degree that it was one of those I could describe as painful with a nearly precise degree of literalness. I was at times discomfited by my physical revulsion to the laziness, obviousness, and cliché of the so-called original venture.

Thus, going into this film I had a feeling that at best I’d end up saying after it was over: ”You know a prequel to a movie based on a board game has no business being this good,” but it went a bit beyond that, which in an of itself is quite a surprise.

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The only things that really hold it back from going beyond that level are some of the over-the-top moments which I knew were there. There are just more of them but they weren’t ruinous. Some of them were how far the physical manifestations went, but most of it was about the CG.

However, even that didn’t go very far due to the fact wasn’t always subpar. Perhaps, what is most impressive is that I found myself noting that this film did little things you don’t see enough of lately. Namely:

  • Visually it used focus, or lack thereof, to make some scares more subtle.
  • The sound mix and design is excellent and restrained as necessary.
  • Most of the jump scares are diegetic and involve the characters being jolted by real fright.

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Knowing Flanagan’s other work, namely Oculus and the short film upon which it was based, I expected the performances to be on and show some depth but it ought not be taken for granted. When all was said and done at the end of the year Lulu Wilson was nominated at the BAM Awards, and the cast as a whole is very strong.

Very pleasantly surprised though I am wondering why this proto-franchise seems like its being constructed in reverse in terms of quality.

Mind you this is not to say that this redeems the Hasbro brand on film, but what it does do is fly in the face of the notion that prequels are less-than simply for the reason that it’s painting by numbers. Yes, there may be a blueprint but effort and creativity can take you down a different path. Furthermore, to continue the paint-by-numbers analogy, art can still be made either by disregarding the prescribed color or through technique. This film does both.

Music Video Monday: Nena’s Bilingual Balloons

Compared to some of the problems the world faces today, nuclear war induced by 99 red balloons seems innocuous. But it’s that very innocent incitement that made this anti-war anti-war anti-nuclear proliferation anthem a hit in the ’80s.

It’s worth remembering here on a Music Video Monday as it offers bilingual versions of its message (German and English) and two videos. Stepping back, even to admire heightened brooding of the 1980s (which I love) is always helpful. Enjoy!

“99 Luftballons” (Original German version)

“99 Red Balloons” (English Remake)

 

 

Batman v. Superman: Everyone Loses

Much in the way that Batman v. Superman attempts to create pathos in thumbnail sketches and create drama through shorthand, I figured I’d share my disappointments in it in an equally sketchy way.

Secondly, the lack of timeliness of this posts owes itself to two things: One, I recently spoke of the film with my brother, whom had just seen it on Amazon, so some people may be discovering it in general and two, because it’s never too late to see a movie,per Edgar Wright, and as such never too late to discuss it.

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Yeah, Batman apparently uses guns in this one too. Because why not make a thing that was never a thing suddenly a thing. 

Here are my observations. First, in general terms:

Eisenberg is an annoyance rather than a legitimate threat. I attended this film with two kids. When those two kids (ages 10 and a 13) insist Lex Luthor is the Joker, and you can’t blame them, maybe the interpretation of the character is off. Regardless of what the actor.

The title is pumped up nonsense that is half-pointless. The battle between the two is wholly avoidable and like many sequences far too drawn out. It’s thin on character and humor but not the unmitigated disaster 2015’s “Fantastic Four” was in terms of superhero films.

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The latest run in the Batman series could learn a thing or two about how it’s OK to go away from a vocal decision mid-franchise. One of many issues with the second installation of the Narnia series is the decision to make Castilian accents double as otherworldly. I’m not for doubling down at all costs on creative decisions. It could’ve been changed.

Snyder’s equation if things go boom equals drama is in force so often that it dulls the senses. I can only 9/11 flinch so much before I can’t 9/11 flinch no more. While I appreciate that the film did build on Superman’s wanton destructiveness from the prior film the weariness of that and 9/11 exploitation is as real as superhero fatigue and this film plays into both things.

However, even if it got away with those things. It is far too drawn out. It’s an over-stuffed sausage of a film. It tries to do far too much lifting both to expand the DC cinematic universe too fast. One example is the fact that within the third act they decide to insert Doomsday, whose pursuit of and battle with Superman was a whole comic book arc, and here it’s a truncated add-on.

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Are these wonderful toys?

But that aspect alone is not enough to arrest forward momentum of a narrative. Take a simplistic understanding of characters and their conflict and conflate and a film can seem bloated anyway, then add a shortcut franchising when we are introduced randomly to other members of the Justice League to be and it just gets worse.

The inconsistency in vision in cinematic-universe building is not just implicit in the deficiencies that Snyder suffers from as a filmmaker but also from having an architect in the director’s chair rather than doing as Marvel does and building from the top down and finding director’s who inherently “gets” the character they’re working with.

You can’t create a plot wormhole in building a cinematic universe. Just because Warners seems jealous of Marvel’s head-start and the fact that they had the patience, guts, and foresight to build to a phase conclusion doesn’t mean we as an audience want one sub-par origin, one immobile versus film leading into what looked like may be the best team film they’ve made, Suicide Squad (and then that too was another massive disappointment), and then the Justice League.

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If I go crazy, then will you still call me Superman?

Batman is a flexible character, but this film decides to play him as similar to the recent incarnation as possible, while still regurgitating his origin story, which we know Moreover, we see it unfold slowly, and in a far more entertaining way on television.

Batman has never been so uninteresting, it’s hard to believe Goyer had anything to do with it.

Updates: Recent Posts and Upcoming Blogathons

The 2016 BAM Awards have been announced. Find the nominees here and the honorees here and here.

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The OA (Netflix)

Next there are blogathon announcements!

Typically, I’ve had the best results in limiting myself to one blogathon a month. First, for the O Canada Blogathon  (2/3) I will be profiling the work of Brendan Meyer, whom you may have seen on The OA. His credits are myriad and varied and I’ll take a look at most (if not all of them), plus Brendan has been gracious enough to grant me a brief interview, which will be included.

You Can't Do That on Television (CTV)

Next up on (3/24) I will stick with a Canadian theme and write about the infamous “Adoption” episode of You Can’t Do That on Television for the Favourite TV Show Episode Blogathon.

Come back as I’m trying to keep things varied and interesting here, y’all!

Best Films of 2016

Typically I post the best films of the year as a series of posts where I write about each individually. Since I didn’t see enough films in 2016 to make more than a top 10, and that list is reflected and discussed in the BAM Awards. I post merely a screencap of my Letterboxd list, in case anyone is curious as to the order the films appear in.

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