Archive for the ‘2000s films’ Tag

Cube²: Hypercube (2002)   Leave a comment

A handful of strangers awaken in a cube. They have no idea how they got there. The cube is attached to other cubes and they climb from one to the other in a vain attempt to figure out who put them there and how to get out.


“We’ll call the cubes Tom, Dick, and Harry. No, wait.”

Ok. I’ll admit it. I saw Cube and thought it was an interesting concept. It was more interesting when Pirandello, Sartre, and Serling thought of it, but no matter. The film had some bright spots, but it didn’t quite gel. I thought maybe they’d nail it down in Cube²: Hypercube. My hopes were dashed about four minutes into the film.


“What’s my motivation?”

In the first film, I cared somewhat about a couple of the characters and was drawn into their struggle to find the key to their Rubik’s Cube prison. In the second film, I just wanted it to end. The characters, all connected in different ways to the company, Izon, which is obviously evil because they produce armaments and their employees know math, are so completely underdeveloped, it’s tough to care about them. Then, there’s the dialogue. Cribbed from any number of ‘scenes for actors’ type books and probably workshopped in an improv studio somewhere in Toronto, the conversations reeked of cheesy experimental community theatre and the acting, from much of the cast, carried the same stench. Kari Matchett and Geraint Wyn Davies, both familiar faces, were the exceptions. They’re both solid character actors who must have felt hoodwinked after reading the script.


“I found the stage directions. The characters climb into another cube and talk some more.”
“Terrific.”

Anyway, the cube denizens move from cube to cube trying to avoid the evil, and sharp tesseracts that appear and expand and oh I don’t care. Mean computer-generated shapes attack people we don’t care about and then the same characters reappear because parallel universes! Yep. The gang bandy about terms like quantum and gravity shift and draw pictures of cubes and all I thought about was how smart it was for the filmmakers to choose a big cube for the set because they’d only have to make one.


“I knew I hated geometry for a reason.”

There was a twist at the end which didn’t make sense and served no purpose and I didn’t care about anyway. Something something evil corporation experimental cube? I have no idea. I get when a film purposely withholds closure to make a point. I feel like in this case, the lack of a satisfying ending was less by design and more by “Hey, I know! We’ll make the whole thing a conspiracy and junk.”
“Great idea, Tad.”


“Mrs. Paley, you’re smudging the prism.”

No one connected to the film is called Tad, but it fit. The trouble with a conspiracy film without a well-defined conspiracy is you at least need Elliott Gould or Mel Gibson to liven things up and they need something lucid to say. Cube 2: Electric Boogaloo fails on both counts.


“She’s right, you know.”

Cube²: Hypercube lasts an hour and thirty-four minutes. You’re better off spending an extra twenty-one minutes and watching Con Air.


“Turn the channel or the bunny gets it.”

 

Advertisements

Session 9 (2001)   2 comments

session_9 post

When an asbestos abatement crew, led by Gordon Fleming (Peter Mullan) gets a gig to clean up an abandoned mental asylum, they think they’ve struck it rich.  Promised a $10,000 bonus if they can finish in a week, the team of Phil (David Caruso), Mike (Stephen Gevedon), Hank (Josh Lucas), and Jeff (Brendan Sexton, III) dig right in.  As Gordon and his team work, each of them reacts to the pressure of the deadline differently.

mullan
“Gordon, are you in there?”

Gordon, we learn, owns the company and is under a great deal of financial strain.  He’s also a new dad and hasn’t slept well since his daughter was born.  Phil, Gordon’s right hand man, questions Gordon’s accepting the short timeline.  Phil’s trouble is that his girlfriend just left him for Hank, making the friends’ relationship a tiny bit awkward.  Mike, a law school dropout, is highly intelligent, but at sea about his future.  Jeff, Gordon’s nephew, is young and a little goofy, but earnest.  He clearly wants to impress his uncle.  Now that we’ve met the men, we understand them better when they start to unravel.

eye

“Here, let me get that eyelash.”

Filmed at the former Danvers State Mental Hospital in Danvers, Massachusetts, SESSION 9 has a great, creepy vibe and the setting, complete with scary treatment rooms, peeling paint, and puddles of stagnant water works a treat.

peel
Yummy

Director, Brad Anderson, has a talent for showing us just enough to follow the story, but not quite enough to predict how it will end.  There are some lovely red herrings and the dialogue makes sense.  Anderson and Stephen Gevedon wrote the screenplay and the cast even gets the accents right.  Uta Briesewitz’s cinematography kept the eerie mood even without 392 jump scares.  Music by Climax Golden Twins sets the dark tone of the film well.  I had never heard of them, but their strange, atmospheric music is perfect in SESSION 9.

danvers
Director, Brad Anderson might have watched THE HAUNTING once or twice.

I have wanted to see SESSION 9 for ages and I’m glad I finally did.  It’s a frightening horror tale with good acting and an intriguing story.  I wanted to know more.  It’s original, but not completely new and that’s all right.  In my notes I wrote, THE SHINING, but with asbestos.  While I can see comparisons, (days of the week on screen, evil place, etc…) it doesn’t diminish the effect of the film at all.  Paul Guilfoyle and Larry Fessenden round out the supporting cast.  Actually, the whole cast is made up of character actors.  Maybe that’s why I like it so much.  It’s a natural ensemble piece played by a talented ensemble.

cast
Santa?

Weird note:  Carson Daly (Mr. MTV) was the executive music producer.

mtv
Tonight on Club MTV…

 

 

 

Saw (2004)   Leave a comment

aaaaSaw_poster

Phew.  I finally watched SAW and I’m worn out.

Dr. Lawrence Gordon (Cary Elwes) and Adam Faulkner-Stanheight (Leigh Whannell) wake up in a filthy men’s room chained to pipes on opposite ends of it.  There’s a dead man on the floor between them with a gun in his hand and his brains on the floor.  They’re told, through a tape recording, they must play the killer’s game or die.  For the next intense hour and a half, the two try figure out why they’ve been kidnapped and how to escape.  Each man recounts the events leading up to his capture in the hopes that it might shed light on the reasons behind it.  Perhaps knowing why might help them survive.

aaajigsaw

“I’ll never come to this restaurant again.”

James Wan directs SAW using sets he could easily have borrowed from a David Fincher film.  The grim, industrial spaces add to the creepy otherness of the film.  Music by Charlie Clouser, Pitbull Daycare, Front Line Assembly, and Fear Factory sounds like Angelo Badalamenti and Trent Reznor had a baby soundtrack.  The desperate mood and slowly building tension punctuated by stabs of violence keep your heart pounding.  I like that.

aaashaw

“What?”

While the two men in the nasty john flash back to their lives pre-toilet, we get to see an intricate story unfold and it’s terrific.  A series of weird deaths prompt police to search for a twisted killer who likes to watch his victims torture themselves before they die in ghastly ways.

aaajig

“I’m just misunderstood.”

During the course of the investigation, Detectives Tapp and Sing (Danny Glover and Ken Leung) investigate Dr. Gordon.  Is he the murderer?  After the pair of cops run into a bit of a snag at the killer’s lair, Tapp continues with the case on his own hiring Adam to photograph the doctor.  Is Adam the one?  The lives and deeds of the characters intersect and our torturer plays each person like a violin.

aaaken

“I’m getting too old for this shit.”

SAW is a serial killer/torture/crime/morality film and it’s a good one.  James Wan and Leigh Whannell co-wrote the screenplay and it’s pretty tight.  Supporting cast members Shawnee Smith, Monica Potter, Michael Emerson and Tobin Bell, who’s scary good, all add to the intertwining tale.  I’m happy I saw this one.

aaaaclo

This guy.

haunty

Pontypool (2008)   5 comments

aapont

Wow.  After seeing PONTYPOOL on a bunch of best of lists, I finally watched it.  What a fantastic film!  A talk-radio disc jockey, his engineer, and producer broadcast their usual morning news/talk show with a difference.  On this particular morning, the sleepy, rural town of Pontypool, Ontario has a tiny problem.  Hordes of people run amok and no one knows why.  As the three contact their usual news sources and their field reporter to get to the bottom of this weird phenomenon, their initial cynicism gives way to worry, then abject fear.  Why is this happening?  The three main characters remain in the dark until Dr. Mendez (Hrant Alianak) climbs into the basement window of the radio station and joins the party.  The doctor has a sensible theory as to why the local population has started to lose it.  It has to do with language and affection and words and stuff.  Is that the answer?

aahr
“Can you stop repeating that?”

PONTYPOOL is a play-like film.  The majority of it takes place in a radio station basement.  I love play-like films.  I’d rather watch a few well-developed characters exchange words than see a truckload of lens flares and an impossible stunt, but that’s me.  The four main characters hold your attention without getting shrill or desperate.  Writer Tony Burgess gives us a character-driven story with true suspense and he does it in a classic film way.  Ripping pages from the books of Jacques Tourneur’s film CAT PEOPLE and Steven Spielberg’s modern classic, JAWS, PONTYPOOL tells its horror story subtlely, without revealing too much.  The script takes its time.  We meet the small cast and get to know them so when they’re in danger, we care.

aaeng
“We’re gonna need a bigger radio station.”

I don’t want to give away any of the clever plot so I’ll say this.  PONTYTPOOL is one of the best films of any genre I’ve seen in years.  It’s witty and intelligent and real.  Real scary, that is.  Stephen McHattie owns this film.  His DJ, Grant Mazzy is a messy, arrogant, and whip-smart alcoholic and we can’t wait to hear what he has to say.  His engineer, Laurel-Ann Drummond (Georgina Reilly) is a smart, capable woman, and his producer, Sydney Briar (Lisa Houle), is responsible, intelligent, and kind.  It’s rare that I like all the major players in a horror film, but there it is.

aach
“I’ve always relied on the kindness of DJs.”

As I mentioned earlier, I don’t want to reveal the surprises in PONTYPOOL and you’ll enjoy it a lot more if I don’t.  Trust me, you want to see this.  Parts of the film stand out.  Apart from the amazing performances by all four of the major cast members, there’s also the off camera role Rick Roberts plays as field reporter, Ken Loney.  Without ever appearing on screen, Roberts paints a picture.  The obituary segment which appears mid-film is also incredibly effective using only still photographs and narration.  Just amazing.  I love  PONTYPOOL.  Many films show up on must-see lists.  This film truly belongs there.

aamc

haunty

Let the Right One In (2008) 31 Days of Horror: Terror-Thon at the Somerville Theatre   Leave a comment

let

Oskar and Eli, both outsiders, meet in the courtyard of their apartment complex near Stockholm. Bullied and lonely, Oskar welcomes any positive attention so he and Eli begin an awkward friendship/romance. Is this a charming coming of age film with a wise old grandfather and an enlightened teacher? Not quite. You see, Eli can’t go out in the daylight much or she’ll catch fire and she never knows what she looks like either since she can’t see her reflection in mirrors. Yup. Eli’s a vampire. That doesn’t sway Oskar though and the two twelve-year-olds continue to get closer despite the rising local death-toll.

two

I liked this film. Director Tomas Alfredson takes time to show us the beautiful countryside and the violent attacks. He also does a lovely job showing us Oskar’s relationship with his divorced parents, his teachers, and the classmates who torment him. As brutal as the murders are, we still like Eli and Oskar. The innocence of their love for each other makes us cheer for them.

beddd

John Ajvide Lindqvist wrote the novel and screenplay and he does the show, don’t tell thing rather well. His characters don’t say much. Their actions speak for them. The mostly Swedish cast all acquit themselves well here and the production design and costumes defined the characters as well.

guy
No kidding, pal.

This film was a happy surprise. I knew almost nothing about it ahead of time and I really enjoyed it. It had an odd atmosphere for a horror film with suburban Stockholm standing in for Transylvania or London. Kåre Hedebrant was sweet and vulnerable as Oskar and Lina Leandersson did the emo pre-teens proud as Eli. The film also touched on sexual identity, but didn’t make a big thing of it. That made sense since the two leads are children who loved each other. Their sex didn’t matter to them so why should it to us? Of course the main characters do murder people and a sad future awaits so there is darkness at the edge of Stockholm. I liked it anyway. Let the Right One In was a thoughtful and different take on the vampire myth.

ohhi
Oh hi.

Check out cinemashame.wordpress.com or @cinemashame on twitter.
I’m @echidnabot on twitter.

shame

ASSHOLES WATCHING MOVIES

How many assholes does it take to review a movie?

Fade To Black

Movie & TV Reviews - Because everyone is entitled to my opinion.

Monstrous Industry

Whirr. Clank. Grr.

Musing to Myself

Pretty much what it says on the tin, my musings

Dance Dance Party Party Akron

Maniacs on the dance floor

raulconde001

A topnotch WordPress.com site

The Love Bungalow

a thoughtful lifestyle blog

Monkey Bread And Popcorn

Picking at Pop Culture

Pearls Of Blissdom by AntheasChronicles

It's the little things that make life blissful!

BooksAbound

Random musings from an extreme bibliophile.

immabelike

Its all about me that I know......rest you all can let me know

CURNBLOG

Movies, thoughts, thoughts about movies.