Tag Archives: Movies

WHAT IS A SCREENER AND WHY IS IT IMPORTANT TO CINEPHILES?

I thought I was the only who got excited about screeners. A screener is a version of a film that the studios send out to members of the Screen Actors Guild or to companies they want to purchase their film. Usually it’s while the film is still in theaters or a few months before it’s released to the public. I’m not sure if they still send them to any companies.

When I worked for Blockbuster as a Manager I would get screeners all the time. My employees knew not to open these boxes.

I have always loved movies. They have always been an escape for me. I was pretty good at picking what indie film would do well. The owners of the stores I worked for only liked to bring in the big hits. They didn’t like to watch foreign films, horror films, or indie films, so most of the time they didn’t order them.

When I thought it was a mistake not to bring one these films in, I would do it on my own at my own expense. Some thought it was stupid of me. But when 1 owner would go over the numbers and say “How come D’s store has a higher rental rate and is bringing in more money on this title?” Then it didn’t look stupid. Eventually they started to ask my opinion on these films and if they should get them for all their stores.

Receiving a box of screeners was always exciting for me. You never knew if it was going to be all garbage or all Oscar nominees. I did share as soon as I finished each one. For me being able to see a movie that was still in the theater was a luxury. My stores never would’ve carried some movies if I hadn’t seen them first as screeners. Some of the movies never made it to our theaters. Hedwig and The Angry Inch wasn’t going to be playing at my local theater. It was playing at my sister’s at the time because she lived in Oakland, California. There’s a big difference in the audience. I brought it in anyway and it did well.

I really have no idea where I’m going with this. I just started one of my medications again. I had to be off of it for 4 days because no pharmacies around me had it. I always know it’s going to be a problem and start calling a week ahead and yet I still couldn’t get it. A medication that if you stop suddenly you can have seizures and die. The withdrawal is horrible. The suicidal thoughts are not pleasant either. I had to keep it all to myself because my Dad worries and my sister would say it’s my own fault.

So I know this is probably scattered but I feel better than I have in a long time, probably because I’m now manic but that’s better than the other option. Thanks everyone.

Advertisements

TOP 50 HORROR MOVIES 19-15

The count continues with a film I could talk about for hours.

  • 19) Bram Stoker’s Dracula~ 1992 Director: Francis Ford Coppola Cast: Gary Oldman Keanu Reeves~ Despite some of the acting by specific actors the opening scene more than makes up for it. Filled with love, grief and fury it shows the reasoning behind Dracula’s transformation, his renouncement of God. Tom Waits as Renfield is genius.
  • 18) You’re Next~ 2011 A somewhat more original story that was needed at the time. A woman goes with her boyfriend to his parent’s wedding anniversary at their vacation home. Strangers attack the home but as guests die the girlfriend starts to piece it together. No one knew her background and they’re in for a surprise.
  • 17) Frailty~ 2001 Director: Bill Paxton Cast: Bill Paxton Matthew McConaughey~ I love this movie because you’re not sure if the religiously fanatic father is losing his mind and mistreating his children or if there’s any truth to what he believes. In the end you find out for sure. Rare for a film.
  • 16) The Devil’s Backbone~ 2001 Guillermo del Toro~ It’s easy to over think a film and with this one many have. Some believe the film to be a metaphor for the rise of Fascism in Spain. I saw an orphaned boy, traumatized and uncomfortable in his own skin in an orphanage haunted by a boy who died there previously. Guillermo always does haunting, beautiful films that I usually find myself shedding at least one tear at.
  • 15) The Thing~ 1982 Director: John Carpenter Cast: Kurt Russell~ A research station in Antarctica goes to check on a nearby station where they find all of them missing or dead. They do find the remains of something the station tried to destroy. I’m not a fan of Sci-Fi Horror but I love this one. It has a lot of jump factors and the tension between the characters as they begin to distrust one another keeps you watching.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


TOP 50 HORROR FILMS (Rated by Me) #50-40

I managed two Blockbuster Video stores at the same time, starting when all they had were VHS tapes and ending when they started closing stores. I had access to hundreds of catalogs listing every Horror film made. If one looked interesting I would cross reference it with another database that gave reviews (similar to imdb.com) to see if it was worth bringing in. We were also sent promotional tapes from independent companies that wanted their films to get picked up.

I had quite the collection until I couldn’t work anymore and I was stuck in limbo waiting for a decision on whether or not I was capable of working. I was forced to sell my film collection to pay bills. You do what you have to.

I still love the genre but I am a little picky or weird about the Horror movies I like. Torture porn isn’t exactly a favorite of mine and I rarely like comedy with my Horror or “Campy Horror” but some of the most influential Horror films have all of these qualities and they can’t be ignored.

  • 50) Freaks~ 1932- Director: Tod Browning Stars: Wallace Ford Leila Hyans~ A beautiful trapeze artist uses a Circus Sideshow owner with dwarfism to get his inheritance. The film uses people that had been used in Circus “Freak Shows” with real disabilities. There is a moral to the story. Sometimes the beautiful people are the cruelest and ugliest on the inside. The owner’s friends just want to make sure she matches all around.
  • 49) The Lair of The White Worm~ 1988- Director: Ken Russell Stars: Amanda Donohoe Hugh Grant~ Campy and bizarre which would normally mean I wouldn’t like it. The exception is Amanda Donohoe. Her character is mesmerizing and makes the entire movie.
  • 48) Trick or Treat~ 1986- Director: Charles Martin Smith Stars: Marc Price Tony Fields Gene Simmons~ An infamous rock star dies and uses his biggest fan, a bullied teenager, to try to come back to life. I watched this with my best friend and we loved the music and the concept. It was the 80’s.
  • 47) The Hitcher~ 1986- Director: Robert Harmon Stars: Rutger Hauer C. Thomas Howell~ I’m a huge fan of Rutger Hauer but not of C. Thomals Howell until recently. The realistic style of this movie is what makes it memorable. Road movies if done right can be extremely effective.
  • 46) Cannibal Holocaust~ 1980 Director: Ruggers Deodato  This film has so much controversy surrounding it you almost can’t believe it. After it’s premiere in Milan the film was seized by Italian Courts and the director was arrested and charged with obscenity. He was also charged with murdering several actors on camera and faced life in prison. He had the cast sign contracts saying they would disappear for a year after shooting to make the film more believable. Eventually they were found and the director was released. I haven’t been able to watch the film even though I owned a collector’s edition. There were real animal sacrifices and other questionable scenes. It was banned in several countries.
  • 45) The Hand~ 1981- Director: Oliver Stone Stars: Michael Caine~ A comic book artist loses his hand in a car accident but it was never found at the scene. Later it shows up and begins to kill anyone that the artist has a problem with. Is it an artist’s over active imagination or reality? You can’t go wrong with Oliver Stone and Michael Caine.
  • 44) Phantasm~ 1979- Director: Don Coscarelli Stars: Angus Scrimm~ Mike loses his parents at a young age and worries the same will happen to his older brother. He starts to follow him everywhere. One night while following him he sees the Tall Man who runs the funeral home. It’s downhill from there. I admit the Tall Man scared me and so did the metal spheres. This is one I first watched with my brother who by the way is also a Tall Man. lol
  • 43) Dust Devil~ 1992- Director: Richard Stanley Stars: Robert John Burke Chelsea Field~ The Dust Devil is a demon who preys on those who have lost their reason to live. This is based on a true story of South African serial killer Nhadiep. There’s a mix of mysticism, tribal rituals and witchcraft. The cinematography of the Namibian desert makes this film feel that much more realistic.
  • 42) The Evil Dead~ 1981- Director: Sam Raimi Stars: Bruce Campbell~ Five friends travel to a cabin in the woods where they release evil that posses them one by one. Not a favorite of mine because it mixes campy horror with gore but at the time it was made no one else was doing horror like this.
  • 41) The Lost Boys~ 1987- Director: Joel Schumacher Stars: Jason Patric Kiefer Sutherland~ While not the scariest movie made it might be one of the sexiest Vampire movies with one of the best soundtracks.
  • 40) Shocker~ 1989- Director: Wes Craven Stars: Peter Berg Michael Murphy Mitch Pileggi~ A serial killer comes back to life after being put to death by the electric chair. This movie always stayed with me and I can’t explain why. Wes Craven is one of the masters of Horror but there’s something different about this one.

This is it for right now because my hands are tired. lol But I will be back!


HELL OR HIGH WATER~BEST PICTURE NOMINEE

Hell or High Water stars Ben Foster, Chris Pine and Jeff Bridges. The plot is fairly simple. Two brothers, one recently released from prison, decide to rob a branch of banks to pay off the reverse mortgage on their mother’s ranch.

Ben Foster is Tanner, an ex con, who’s impulsiveness always causes chaos. When it comes to his brother he’s devoted. Chris Pine is Toby, a divorced dad trying to do the right thing for his ex wife and child but never seeming to get ahead. Jeff Bridges is Marcus Hamilton the curmudgeonly Texas Marshall getting ready for retirement but obsessed with his one last case.

For me the movie is familiar. The banks taking advantage of people who feel they have no other choice. The struggle of farmers and ranchers everywhere. The relationship between siblings. I didn’t feel like there was anything new or memorable. I watched it and forgot about it the next day. Jeff Bridges was playing a character he’s played before. Chris Pine was actually a surprise and did well. As far as a Best Picture nomination I don’t think it was better than some of the other films I’ve seen.

As I’ve said before, if a movie doesn’t make me think or feel, or if I’m not still thinking about it the next day, then to me it isn’t a Best Picture. It can still be entertaining but not necessarily award winning.tughocv3

 


Secret In Their Eyes-A Review & Commentary

“While seeking revenge, dig two graves- one for yourself”~ Douglas Horton

 

I have always been fascinated by the concept of Revenge. In my own life I have struggled with wanting vengeance on people in my past. It is a difficult path to walk, wanting it and doing it are so very different. I would like to say I have evolved on the subject but I would be lying.

SECRET IN THEIR EYES

STARRING: Chiwetel Ejiofor, Nicole Kidman, and Julia Roberts.

BASED ON: A 2005 Argentinian Novel “La Pregunt de sus Ojos”  or “The Question in Their Eyes”

OSCAR: In 2009 the Argentine film version of this novel won the Oscar for Best Foreign Film.

I have not seen the original version of this movie so I found this one to be intelligent, thought provoking, and well acted.

A team of FBI investigators Ray (Ejiofor) and Jess (Roberts) along with their D.A. supervisor Claire (Kidman) is ripped apart after a case involving Jess’s daughter is covered up. Jess’s daughter is found raped and beaten to death in a dumpster next to a Mosque. Their assignment has been in Terrorism and this causes problems when a suspect is a member of the Mosque. He’s also feeding information to a member of their team.

When it’s decided he be released for the “greater good” of the Country and disappears the team can’t handle it and breaks. The decision made was not to risk the life of thousands over one dead girl. The movie’s sentiment, not mine.

For 13 years Ray searches through mug shot books looking for the guy that got away with murder. When he finds a new lead and goes back to Jess and Claire to reopen the case it reveals a bevy of secrets and self-destruction.

Nicole Kidman’s interrogation scene was riveting. I’m not usually a fan of her work but she played this part well. Julia Roberts played the somber, disillusioned, tortured mother without fault. All of the acting was the way it should be. Natural.

The movie asks the question should you trust the Justice System, if it let’s you down do you have the right to revenge? How far would you go? I don’t want to give too much away and ruin the movie but it does make you think.

Is hatred and revenge worth the time and toll it takes on a person. Is justice something we can actually depend on to work correctly? Does revenge make you feel better?

WHERE JUSTICE HAS FAILED IN THE PAST

Unfortunately we have all seen instances where the Justice System has failed miserably. O.J. Simpson, George Zimmerman, The West Memphis Three, Margaret Kelly Michaels, and Casey Anthony are just a few instances.

Since 1980 there have been 114 wrongful convictions overturned. The West Memphis Three spent 18 years in prison after being sentenced to the Death Penalty/Life in Prison. With hardly any physical evidence and a town’s prejudice they were found Guilty.

Personally, I like the concept of revenge. Very rarely does one get away with it. My one act of revenge landed me in jail for the evening, a $600 bill for damages, probation for 1 year, and alcohol counseling for 1 year. The person I sought revenge on once again wasn’t held accountable for anything he had done.

Do I still think about revenge? Sometimes. I want all of the people who hurt me to see me now. I want them to try to talk to me and then watch my 140 pound lighter ass walk away. Some deserve more but there are just people in the world who no matter what, still come out of anything unscathed. I’ve learned this now and it does take a lot of energy to hate. I  can’t forgive or forget but I can try to live a better life.

“Revenge, the sweetest morsel to the mouth that ever was cooked in Hell”~ Walter Scott


What is Diversity?

The definition of diversity is: quality of being different or varied; range of difference. Diversify: make diverse or varied.

I’ve taken a look at the last  10 or so years of the winners for Best Picture at the Oscars. If you are looking for diversity in just the African American community there are about 2 winners in the past 10 years. But diversity isn’t just about one group of people, race, gender, economic class, etc. It’s supposed to be about the representation of us all.

I’m going to go through some of the past winners so maybe you can understand what I’m trying to say.

2014- Birdman: Ok not really much diversity and I would’ve voted for Whiplash anyway.

2013- 12 Years A Slave: Beautiful, extremely well acted movie dealing with slavery and being a free man. So there is diversity.

2012- Argo- I’m not sure on this one. I’m thinking there was little diversity but I didn’t watch it so I can’t really say.

2011- The Artist- Even though a silent film you had French actors, American actors, and a dog.

2010- The King’s Speech- Great Britain and North Ireland were represented in the film along with people who have disabilities. Stuttering can be very traumatizing, it effects your entire life. I should know.

2009- The Hurt Locker- American Soldiers and the people of Iraq. Dealing with having compassion one minute and knowing those same people are part of a group trying to kill you. Two diverse groups.

2008- Slumdog Millionaire- the life of a Mumbai teen living in poverty who’s given a way out.

2007- No Country For Old Men- Ok I really didn’t see much diversity here except the strange casting of Javier Bardem.

2006- The Departed- The Irish Mafia in South Boston.

2004- Crash- Interweaving stories about race and class.

2004- Million Dollar Baby- The dream of a poor young woman trying to break her family’s cycle of having babies and living on welfare by becoming a boxer.

So, I don’t know about you but I see a lot of diversity in these films. Is there an overwhelming amount of African American actors in any of these films? No. That isn’t what diversity is. If you want more diversity in Hollywood films you have to want it for all people. That IS diversity.

Boycotting anything never works. It isn’t the most mature route you could take. It’s like stamping your foot and throwing a temper tantrum. Never works.

Working with and meeting with writer’s and the decision makers could be a better idea. Let’s face it, if there isn’t a decent script then there is no work to help diversify the industry. I have read so many books that could’ve been made into films for African American actors and done well that have been ignored. Take Delicious Foods by James Hannaham for example. I definitely see that as a film. The book was brilliant. I suspect as I am typing this that something is in the works already.

Personally I’m tired of the same old same old year after year. I only get excited when there is a Quentin Tarantino film or someone similar because at least you know he’ll take you for a crazy, unique, well acted, ride.

The problem is with the backers, writers, directors, studio heads, decision makers, etc. Let’s face it they run the show. If it isn’t greenlit by them it doesn’t get made. Boycotting the Oscar’s and showing disrespect to your peers isn’t going to change that.


%d bloggers like this: