All posts filed under: FILM REVIEWS

Adventurebilt Hats were made for Indiana Jones

Mississippians are respectfully taking their hats off to Steve Delk, who crafted the Indy fedora Dr. Jones will wear in the next installment of the Indiana Jones movie franchise. Harrison Ford will don one of Delk’s hats in “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” that will be released May 22. To learn more about Delk, his hats, and the Adventurebilt Hat Co., check out the Clarion-Ledger article, where you can also learn more about the new film. Got a comment? E-mail me at endyanna@earthlink.com or Tweet me at @lareecarucker. Save Advertisements

‘La Vie en Rose’

After putting my Netflix account on hold for a while, I recently began renting movies the old fashioned way again and was soon reminded why I had stopped doing that in the first place – late fees. I forgot to return three movies for a week, so I’m pretty sure I’ll have to get a second job to pay off the charges. That’s why I made the decision to return to Netflix, where late fees are non-existent. And I like that you can watch movies online. I only wish they had a more extensive online selection. I was, however, surprised to find “La Vie en Rose” in the mix of movies available for immediate viewing this weekend. After watching Marion Cotillard accept the Academy Award for her role as French singer Edith Piaf, I thought it would be interesting, and the film didn’t disappoint. I initially thought Cotillard must have sang, warranting the Oscar, but I’ve learned she did not provide vocals. Her performance, however, is strong and allows the audience to connect with a …

Bugs, of the horror movie variety: viruses, CGI locusts and Ashley Judd

Over the weekend, I got a chance to watch a few films that I was tempted to see in the theater, but didn’t. Two gave me the creeps. The third was a waste of time. 28 Weeks Later: Most sequels aren’t any good because they are money-making devices that capitalize on the success of the original film by repackaging its contents and offering nothing new. With “28 Weeks Later,” you know what’s going to happen, but the concept continues to be disturbing and, therefore, works. Horror films about infectious diseases are some of the most frightening to me. Two earlier movies that come to mind are the 1985 film “Warning Sign,” about a deadly bacteria outbreak in a laboratory; and “Cujo,” the 1983 Stephen King tale of a rabies-infected St. Bernard that becomes a real-life monster to woman and her son trapped in a car. The original film, “28 Days Later,” is about an infection that spreads throughout England, rapidly transforming everyone exposed into raging cannibals. The plot sounds a little over the top, but …

Be afraid, be very afraid

National Geographic is promoting its new film “Sea Monsters,” funded in part by a grant from the National Science Foundation. The film explores prehistoric sea creatures that are the basis of legends like the Loch Ness Monster (a claim I was fascinated by as a child). Eighty million years ago, places like Kansas were at the bottom of the great inland sea that divided North America, and these “sea monsters” swam above. (My childhood dream was always to stumble upon one’s fossilized remains while poking around in the dirt.) Sadly, the site’s theater listings indicate that “Sea Monsters” isn’t playing in Mississippi, but it is showing in Alabama, Tennessee and Louisiana if you want to check it out. I spent a lot of my childhood sitting on the carpet in the children’s section of the West Union Attendance Center school library right beside the librarian’s desk where the “strange” books were stored. They included “Thirteen Ghosts and Jeffrey” and the mysteries of the Loch Ness monster, Big Foot and the Bermuda Triangle. Were you fascinated …

Film review: Jackson is ‘The Miracle Worker’ of ‘Black Snake Moan’

I couldn’t help but think about the Helen Keller story “The Miracle Worker” when I watched “Black Snake Moan” this weekend. There’s a scene where Christina Ricci is sitting on Samuel L. Jackson’s porch chomping corn off a cob and scarfing down a plate of country food that is very reminiscent of Patty Duke’s eating style prior to her Anne Bancroft-initiated transformation. And Jackson, in this movie, is a miracle worker. He takes a half-dressed, emotionally disturbed girl he finds lying in the middle of a dirt road who is quite possibly too trashy for the Jerry Springer show and restrains her, breaking her of her wicked ways. Ricci, Jackson and Justin Timberlake, who may be the only Mickey Mouse Club grad/pop star that has been able make a successful transition to film, all give great performances. Got a comment? E-mail me at endyanna@earthlink.com or Tweet me at @lareecarucker. Save

Film review: ‘Deep Sea’

“Deep Sea IMAX” is so beautifully and colorfully filmed with a cast of sea creatures so interesting and animated, it could almost be considered the prequel to “Finding Nemo. If you are intrigued by marine biology and enjoy learning about new animal species, you will enjoy this film narrated by Johnny Depp and Kate Winslet. It’s much better than than James Cameron’s 2005 film “Aliens of the Deep” and “Deep Blue,” two other films that explore the deep sea. Got a comment? E-mail me at endyanna@earthlink.com or Tweet me at @lareecarucker. Save

Film review: ‘Children of Men’

For some reason, science fiction movies and stories set in England just seem a little more creepy. Maybe it’s because Europe is across the pond, and Americans just aren’t as familiar with it. Sometimes sci-fi movies set in the U.S. seem a little over the top and unbelievable, but I’m somehow able to buy that a virus can wipe out most of London and turn the remaining survivors into the walking dead. That is the plot of “28 Days Later,” one of the creepiest sci-fi/horror films in years, and “Children of Men,” another recently released sci-fi film set in England that depicts a dystopian futuristic society, shares similarities. In the future, the world becomes a very violent place, and for some reason that’s never clearly explained, women are no longer able to have children. The last child was born 18 years ago, but something miraculous has happened. A woman has become pregnant, and Clive Owen is willing to risk his life to help her and the baby survive. It’s a film you’ll probably have to …

Film review: ‘Bunny Lake is Missing’

I rented this 1965 film because I recently read that Reese Witherspoon had backed out of negotiations to play the lead role in the remake. The film sounded intriguing, so I gave it a chance, and it didn’t disappoint until the end. It’s about a young woman who moves to England with her 4-year-old daughter to live with her brother. She drops her child off at a new day care center one morning (although we never actually see her do it), and when she returns, her daughter, Bunny Lake, is missing. Police investigate the disappearance, and eventually begin to believe that Bunny may have never existed. I won’t spoil the ending for those who might be interested in renting it, but it was a bit of a let down. The film is brilliantly set up and makes the audience wonder the outcome up until the very end, but the conclusion is a bit unbelievable, and I think it would have to change in order for modern day audiences to buy it and feel satisfied. I …

Film review: ‘Idiocracy’

When the government recruits two average people (Maya Rudolph and Luke Wilson) from modern society for a time travel experiment, something goes awry, and they are transported to the year 2505, where things have changed quite a bit. Smart people, who put a lot of thought into having children, have been outnumbered by the Jerry Springer guest population, who haven’t put much thought into anything, including basic hygiene and waste management. As a result, the world is now populated by stupid people, and the two “average” people who were sent to the future are the smartest people on Earth. The science fiction concept from Mike Judge of “Beavis and Butthead” fame is interesting because it seems like there’s a sad possibility it could pan out, but the movie could have benefited from a stronger screenplay and supporting cast. It’s worth a laugh or two. Got a comment? E-mail me at endyanna@earthlink.com or Tweet me at @lareecarucker. Save

Film Review: ‘Marie Antoinette’ film – pretty, but dull

Sofia Coppola’s latest film “Marie Antoinette” is a lavish production that strives for genius and misses the mark, revealing weaknesses that Coppola should work to refine. The film is visually stunning with beautiful photography of costumes and French landscapes, but aside from being pretty, there isn’t much to brag about. It’s kind of like a trophy wife that could have been a doctor. It has the potential but misses opportunities and relies heavily on aesthetics. The story is, of course, about an Austrian teenager who becomes the queen of France. Coppola uses a modern rock soundtrack to tap into the idea of Marie’s teenage rebellion, which initially sounded like a hip and interesting thing to attempt. But after watching the film, it appears the music choice was more of a ploy to lure a younger audience like the Shakespeare-inspired films made in recent years that were set to modern soundtracks. I kept wondering if the film would have been more artful and admirable if the soundtrack and mannerisms of the American actors had been more …

Film Review: ‘Don’t Look Now’ should be heeded by viewers

If I had watched this “psychic thriller” in 1973, (which would have been difficult since I was born in 1974) I probably would have found it eerie and disturbing, but 30 years later, it just doesn’t have much impact. It’s about a couple, John and Laura Baxter, whose young daughter drowns in a pond at their home. They later go to Venice, where Laura (Julie Christie) meets a psychic who tells her she has seen her daughter and that she is happy. John (Donald Sutherland) also begins to see someone resembling the daughter running around the city, so he follows her, which proves to be a very bad decision. The movie begins interesting, then becomes boring until the end. It seems like it might have a surprising dramatic climax, but ultimately has a rather random conclusion. The film reminds me a bit of a postmodern novel structured with parallel imagery foreshadowing the second half of the book. It is visually interesting, and if you’ve been to Venice, you might be interested in the photography for …

Film review: ‘Aliens of the Deep’ – Where are the aliens?

I was very excited about renting this 2005 film, because I’m fascinated by marine biology, particularly the unusual animals that live at the bottom of the ocean. Hoping to get an exclusive view of the strange creatures we rarely see, I put this in my Netflix cue thinking director James Cameron (of “Titanic” fame) would take me to the bottom of the ocean and show me a number of interesting creatures I’ve never seen before. I thought the film would consist mainly of underwater photography of the unique inhabitants, but to my disappointment, viewers only see a few glimpses of the strange “aliens” as they pass by Cameron’s submarine. The bulk of the film is about Cameron and his crew of scientists. Way too many scenes show them preparing to venture below and sitting around inside the vessel discussing the origins of life and the possibility of its existence on other planets. If I wanted to rent a film about astronomy, I would have looked for something with Carl Sagan or Stephen Hawking in the …

Film review: ‘The Break-Up’ is bipolar

Vince Vaughn and Jennifer Aniston are both fun to watch, but the bi-polarization of “The Break-Up” makes the film confusing. From the get-go, it appears to be your typical Jennifer Aniston romantic comedy, like “Along Came Polly” or “Picture Perfect.” Then Aniston and Vaughn become the “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf” bickering couple with less venom. The audience, watching the fight, initially believes the friction is flirtatious and the beginning of a zany “War of the Roses” storyline that will unfold between the two over the Chicago apartment they share. Instead, the comedy becomes a dramedy, and the audience is made uncomfortable and confused. The most obvious comedic attempt in the movie is even tired and confusing. When Aniston’s “brother” breaks out in song at a family gathering reminiscent of the “Say a Little Prayer for You” scene in “My Best Friend’s Wedding,” it is almost painful to watch. I kept looking at the other actors’ faces at the table, thinking I might also be able to catch a glimpse of them thinking how ridiculously …

DVD review: ‘Population 436’ – Stop it, Jeremy!

Would someone please prevent Jeremy Sisto from starring in any more bad, low budget horror films? Who is Jeremy Sisto, you might ask? He’s a really good actor, who has made several bad movie choices in the last few years, and after watching “Population 436,” I’m convinced he needs guidance. The movie is about a census-taker who visits a small town to record the population and discovers that the figure never changes. The town is basically a giant roach motel. You can check in, but the only way you can check out is if you kick the bucket. A balance has to be maintained at all times, otherwise a curse, or prophecy, or (something) causes (something) to happen. The something is never really explained. The film description initially sounded unique and intriguing, but the movie is really a conglomeration of Shirley Jackson’s short story “The Lottery,” “The Stepford Wives” and “The Village.” The result is boring, predictable and a waste of Jeremy Sisto’s talents. Sisto got his film start as a teenager in 1991’s “Grand …

Film review: Don’t rent ‘Chaos’

I have watched horror movies all my life. As a kid, I sat in the grocery store when my mother was shopping and thumbed through the pages of Cosmopolitan, Mad Magazine and Fangoria – a horror film industry publication that often featured the work of master makeup artist Rick Baker. Baker created a lot of gory things for practically every scary movie made, and a lot of it was disturbing, but his style was much more honorable than that featured in the awful movie I watched 30 minutes of Monday night. Do not rent “Chaos.” About 10 minutes into the movie, I thought I was watching a remake of Wes Craven’s 1972 film “The Last House on the Left.” Then, 30 minutes into the film, I had to turn it off. Yes, there is at least one horror movie in existence that is even too disturbing for me. Most horror films have some merit, even if they are dumb. But this one is so valueless that the producers decided to add a note at the …

Film review: ‘An American Haunting’

Intrigued by the idea that someone had made a horror film about Tennessee’s Bell witch, a story I’m vaguely familiar with since I lived near Tennessee most of my life, I rented this film hoping to learn more about the story. The movie is one of the few horror films I’ve seen that examines the idea of being tormented and possessed from a psychological standpoint. It tells the story of Betsy Bell, a young Tennessee teenager in the early 1800s, who is one day happy, energetic and flirtatious, and the next, a miserable, exhausted person, who tells her teacher she’s having trouble sleeping. Problems arise when a terrifying entity enters her room at night and begins to torment her. The Bell family is led by mom, Sissy Spacek, and dad, Donald Sutherland. Spacek, who’s generally a heavy sleeper, awakens one night, hearing noises on the floors above. When she investigates, she’s startled by her husband in the hallway, who tells her he’s convinced the noises are the work of a neighbor he wronged in a …

Film review: It’s not Titanic, but ‘Poseidon’ doesn’t sink

I guess the people making this film thought it had been long enough since “Titanic” and likely decided that another huge, sinking ship film would be a sure bet. For some reason, I happen to like ship movies, so I rented this film and thought it was pretty good. If you like special effects and adventure movies, you would probably enjoy “Poseidon,” even though it follows a predictable formula. A group of characters, thrown together by chance, must work with each other utilizing their own special talents to stay alive. There’s a firefighter, an architect and a young boy, with hands small enough to reach through metal gates, who comes in useful. And there’s the “Rose/Jack” love story thrown in to tug at your romantic heartstrings. I’m not sure why, but I also seem to always enjoy movies that require people to venture through a maze of unknown territory to find their escape, and the threat of drowning always adds tension. I suggest renting it if you’re looking for a good popcorn movie. Got a …

Film Review: ‘Rest Stop’ – Are road trip films more popular in wartime?

Anyone who has ever been on a road trip and had to pull into a gas station or rest stop knows how disgustingly horrifying they can sometimes be. And if experiencing the neglected filth and stench of a dirty sink or toilet isn’t terrifying enough, now there’s a horror movie based entirely on the idea. When two rebellious young people run away from home and head to Los Angeles, they make the mistake of pulling into a rest stop that has been a serial killer’s trap for decades. For a B-grade horror film with only one well-known actor playing a minor part, the movie, reminiscent of “Hostel,” is pretty effective. Jaimie Alexander, the lead actress, convincingly plays Nicole, a runaway exerting her independence until she becomes trapped by a maniacal murderer and must fight to stay alive. And Joey Lawrence, of “Blossom,” “Gimme a Break” and “Dancing with the Stars” fame, has a small role as a dumb police officer who ultimately meets his doom. The scenes in which the people are actually using the …

Film Review: Deep Blue

You know those CDs that have soothing sounds of waterfalls, crickets, ocean waves and blowing wind? “Deep Blue” is the video version of that. If you have some time and want sit back, relax and watch a calm-inducing film, you might enjoy renting this movie about the ocean and its inhabitants. The photography is wonderful and so perfect it almost seems animated. Narrated by Pierce Brosnan, you’ll learn about the animals that live on shore and the strange and fascinating creatures at the bottom of the ocean. Some are almost unbelievable. Got a comment? E-mail me at endyanna@earthlink.com or Tweet me at @lareecarucker. Save

Film Review: Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

If you don’t know the meaning of the word “mendacity,” you will after watching this movie about a wealthy Mississippi family on the verge of falling apart as the death of the patriarch looms.This is the second Elizabeth Taylor film I’ve watched, and both were about bickering couples. The first, “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf,” was dialogue heavy like “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.” “Cat” is a movie with many plot developments, but it’s mainly about money and social status. It’s about failed dreams, a friend’s suicide, infidelity, infertility, immortality, inheritance — so many things it almost loses focus. But above all else, it’s a Tennessee Williams’ tale about a rich Southern family with a lot of problems whose main concern is money, the tie that binds. Got a comment? E-mail me at endyanna@earthlink.com or Tweet me at @lareecarucker. Save

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre

I hadn’t seen this movie since the 1980s when I watched it on television with my Halloween-loving cousin, Pam. It was a little too much for me to handle then, so I left Pam’s house early without finishing it and ran quickly home to my mama. Last night, the movie was on FUSE, and it wasn’t as terrifying as I remembered as a kid, but I’m sure it still has the potential to scare the leggings off anyone who hasn’t seen as many horror films as I have. I recently read a review about “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” that contrasts the 1974 version and the “Chainsaw” film released a couple of years ago. The reviewer argued that one element missing from the remake is Vietnam. Apparently, the director had the Vietnam war in mind when he shaped the original film, and the murder and mayhem within it supposedly symbolizes the terror and insanity of Vietnam. I also read a short piece today about Ed Gein, the man who inspired the character Leatherface. I hadn’t realized …

Film Review: Suspiria 1977

This 1977 horror film is a great movie for interior designers who want to better understand elaborate ’70s decor, but it didn’t turn out to be a great scary movie choice for Halloween night. “Suspiria” has a few creepy moments, and if you find witches frightening, you might enjoy it. I, however, am not afraid of witches and didn’t think the movie lived up to “classic” status. That said, the cinematography is impressive. Visually speaking, I’ve never seen anything like it. Got a comment? E-mail me at endyanna@earthlink.com or Tweet me at @lareecarucker. Save

‘Classic’ horror list gets longer

A car is generally deemed a “classic” when at least 25 years or one human generation has passed since its production. The same rule likely applies to “classic” films. As a lifelong horror movie fan, there aren’t many films of the genre I haven’t seen. Some from the 1960s and ’70s have achieved classic status, like “Psycho” (1960), “The Birds” (1963), “Rosemary’s Baby” (1968), “The Exorcist” (1973), “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” (1974), “The Omen” (1976), “Halloween” (1978), “Dawn of the Dead” (1978) and “The Amityville Horror” (1979). Following the same guidelines established for cars, “The Shining” (1980) can now technically be considered a classic. It’s been 26 years since its release. And perhaps it won’t be long until we honor the following horror films with that adjective. The word classic may soon apply to “The Poltergeist” (1982), “Friday the 13th” (1982), “Cujo” (1983), “Children of the Corn” (1984) and “A Nightmare on Elm Street” (1984). “Silence of the Lambs” (1991) and “Scream” (1996) must wait a little longer. Here are a few horror/thriller movies that …

Film Review: Ingmar Bergman’s ‘Persona’

I rented this 1967 film because I’ve read several articles about other films that reference it. Since I recently watched David Lynch’s surreal, open-ended “Mullholland Drive,” I thought I would give “Persona” a chance. The two films are similar because they are both about the confusing psychological relationship of two women. “Persona” is about a nurse and her patient and how their personalities begin to merge. If I hadn’t already seen some of Roman Polanski’s 1960s films, it might have impressed me more, but I think I’ve been somewhat desensitized by “Repulsion,” another psychological exploration of the female mind. It’s raw film that succeeds in getting under your skin to read a part of your mind that most films never explore. It seems experimental like other European films from the 1960s or before, with photographic elements similar to Dali’s 1929 “Un Chien Andalou” in the beginning. I guess our world was once filled with very progressive, edgy, intellectual filmmakers, but has since regressed. Got a comment? E-mail me at endyanna@earthlink.com or Tweet me at @lareecarucker. …