Archive for Cinema

Jacob’s Ladder

Posted in Cult Horror, Cult Scenes with tags , , , , , , on June 6, 2009 by themoviecult

Let’s get Macabre for a moment.

Jacob’s Ladder (1990) is a unique piece of filmmaking. The duration of the film is a nightmare for the main character, Jacob Singer, in which his reality frequently turns upside down, and he can’t be sure of anything. The film deals with death, and the supernatural, but in a very clever way.

Tim Robbins is great as Jacob Singer – in fact, the whole cast of actors, including a very young Macaulay Culkin, give excellent performances. The direction, by Adrian Lyne is what sets this movie apart. Also, some effort has been put in to packing each scene with as many visual elements as possible – enhancing them greatly.

The title, Jacob’s Ladder, is a reference taken from the bible, about a dream meeting in a place between heaven and hell. The movie heavily takes ideas and themes from the bible, such as angels and demons.

Jacob’s Ladder is a very important movie. It inspired the Silent Hill games series, which was adapted into the eerie Silent Hill (2006) movie. The movie was dubbed the first of the “horrorcore” genre – extremely gory and macabre movies dealing with horrible monstrosities, and death/purgatory. The evolution of style and approach to subject matter through the decade of Silent Hill videogames and to the foundations of “horrorcore” movies all evolved from Jacob’s Ladder.

The Silent Hill videogame

The Silent Hill videogame

This is the evolution of the the horrorcore genre:
The Bible -> Jacob’s Ladder -> Silent Hill Videogames -> Silent Hill -> The Future

The Silent Hill Movie

The Silent Hill Movie

Now, let’s see what all of the fuss is about. This scene, taken from the middle of Jacob’s Ladder, works well without any context, so there’s no need to set you up. Enjoy.

Cult Scenes: Shogun Assassin

Posted in Cult Scenes with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on March 22, 2009 by themoviecult

Here is the introduction to Shogun Assassin – the 1980 Japanese film about a lone wolf and his cub, directed by Robert Houston:

This is an efficient opening, because in such a short ammount of time, the major characters and the dilema are established. Also, because it is beautifully shot and well written (as is the rest of the movie).

Rap fans may notice the child’s voiceover sounds familiar. GZA/Genius, a notable fan of classic Japanese Martial Arts Films, based his 2002 album, Liquid Swords, around Shogun Assassin. Much of the dialogue and voiceover is sampled and used.

Amazing Movies You must Watch #3

Posted in Amazing Movies that you Must Watch with tags , , , , , , on December 1, 2008 by themoviecult

Once Upon a Time in America is spaghetti western director Sergio Leone’s last film. It’s a crime drama with coverage of the lives of several characters from the early 1920’s to the late 1960’s. Epic, indeed.

In Once Upon a Time in America, David “Noodles” Aaronson is the ringleader of a small band of tightly knit criminals. In their youth, they start by rolling drunks, and during prohibition, their operation evolves to bootlegging moonshine.

At the beginning of the film, Noodles is nowhere to be seen. The gangsters are going through his friends, torturing and murdering; Trying to find him. Something has gone horribly wrong. Noodles’ associates are dead. His friends and family are dead. He is on the run. His only option is to flea from New York.

At this point, Noodles’ past is revealed through flashbacks. We watch him as a streetsmart child, losing his innocence. Many complex, well-written characters are introduced. The storyline progresses, until Leone takes us back to that horrible mistake.

Noodles later returns to New York as an old man, one of the only few characters to have survived – albeit in a boring life where he has survived by, “going to sleep early”. He haunts the town, alone, like a ghost, going back over every detail. He tries to figure out the mystery: Why has he been called back into town?

There’s so much to the plot. So many layers and themes. So many story arcs, involving the aforementioned colourful characters. There’s a redeeming factor for almost all of the characters – so even those crazy types that need to identify with characters to enjoy movies will enjoy Once Upon a Time in America. The acting is almost perfect. Leone hired the big hitters – De Niro, Woods, Pecsi – and even some great lesser known character actors.

It is a masterpiece, because Leone was in love with the novel which his script was faithfully based upon – The Hoods by real life mobster, Harry Grey. Leone turned down an offer by Paramount Studios to direct the Godfather to focus on planning the project.

It all worked out, because the last film to Sergio Leone’s name, Once Upon a Time in America, is a masterpiece.

Cult Horror – an Introduction

Posted in Cult Horror with tags , , , , , , on August 6, 2008 by themoviecult

It is hard not to love horror movies.

They touch on the macabre; speculate on the unknown; present horrible monsters. They inspire nightmares; bring chills. They’re the reason to sleep with the lights on. They’re subtle and grate away gradually or they’re over the top – bucket’s of blood and all.

Fads and genres in movies come and go, but horror has been steadily popular for a long time now. We identify with the situations horror movies present because we fear death. We fear corruption – both physically and spiritually. We fear for the safety of our family and friends. We fear the unknown origin of creepy sounds. We fear having to face danger alone.

Great things can be done with horror in the right circumstances. If a horror movie identifies what we’re most scared of, establishes that anything can happen at any second, and then paces itself correctly, it is bound for greatness.

This segment is for exploring great horror, and touching on the bad. In a series of articles and reviews over the coming weeks and months (interspersed with regular programming), classic and modern horror will be analysed, and ideas will be investigated.

To get the ball rolling – what is your favourite horror movie? What has managed to scare you senseless?

Recent Releases – 4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days

Posted in Recent Releases with tags , , , , , , on August 4, 2008 by themoviecult

Directed by: Christian Mungiu
Starring: Laura Vasiliu, Anamaria Marinca

In the 1980’s in Romania, abortions are illegal. 4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days centres on Otilia (Anamaria Marinca), a young student who is helping her friend, Gbia (Laura Vasiliu), have an abortion. Otilia is forced to question her values and decide how far she is willing to go to help a friend out.

4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days is, emotionally, a potent film. The main characters go through a range of emotions as they deal with breaking the law and acting outside of their moral framework – in more ways than just the dilemma of terminating a foetus. All the while, the minor characters both influence and are influenced by the decisions of the main characters. Really complex, and effective storytelling.

Writer and director, Christian Mungiu, has a great shooting style. At crucial moments, his scenes are silent and tense. His takes are often long, and complex. The camera is a little shaky – all of the motion is freehand – but this only adds to the atmosphere, tension, and increases viewer involvement.

The filming style naturally requires talented actors, because the camera relentlessly sticks with the characters when things get tense. They’re followed closely, their every reaction caught. The actors’ performances are excellent, pretty much without exception. It is hard not to have any empathy for the main characters – or in one case to loathe them.

This is a character orientated piece, and it’s subtle at times. If you can’t stand a slowly paced character driven drama, this one might not be for you. It does, however, feature great performances and is handled by a writer/director with talent.

Ahead of the Pack #1

Posted in Ahead of the Pack with tags , , , , , , , on July 22, 2008 by themoviecult

Superbad follows three friends over the course of one day at high school. They are invited to a small party by some ladies, and offer to get them some booze with a fake id. Things don’t go to plan, and they end up on a crazy adventure into the night – evading policemen, and trying to find alcohol.

Ask some of your friends whether they like Superbad. If they say no, chances are that they didn’t drink in high school. They can’t relate to the movie because they can’t understand the characters and the situations – they’ve never been scared shitless and underage in a liquor store, and they’ve never gone for one of those long, adventurous drunken walks. Superbad is a memory, a kickback to your high school days, when you were less mature, and your priorities were different. If you liked Superbad, it is probably because the main characters in the movie are similar to your high school friends, or at least people you knew around the schoolyard. Same interests, same sense of humour, same preoccupations.

There’s no relating to the main characters in many other teen movies. They’re mostly unrealistic and take themselves far too seriously. Many teen movies define the characters as nerds, or jocks, and leave no area for complexity and evolution.

The high school experience that the films portray is also wildly different from the typical high school experience. Aspects are warped and exaggerated to make the films more appealing, or to allow the themes to fit in. Most teen movie screenwriters also don’t seem to understand that love and the daily routine of life during teenage translate to trivial, boring films. Portrayal of teen angst is annoying, yet it seems to be the cornerstone of the genre. The screenwriters have tried to find a unique vantage point for teen movies, but have failed miserably.

Of course, this is generalisation. Some teen movies are heavy in one of the err departments, and light in others. At any rate, in terms of characters, realism, and humour, Superbad is superb, much better than the rest of the market.

This is what happens when an unstoppable force hits an immovable object

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on July 16, 2008 by themoviecult

If I’m still writing this thing in five to ten years time, I will talk about Batman 2: The Dark Knight. I’m not going to go into too much detail here. This is out of the ordinary. I don’t usually talk about new films.

I don’t want to be a wanker – I’m not going to exaggerate and call the new Batman movie perfect… Perfection isn’t attainable.

I’m in love with Nolan. He’s amazing. I’ve watched his early work, and seen the talent. I’ve seen him get better and better with each film. The Dark Knight is a landmark film for Nolan in terms of characters, plot, dialogue, concepts and themes. The Joker was everything I hoped he would be, and none of my fears for him became an actuality. The connection between Batman and Joker, and the insight into the Joker’s mind is there, and it works so well. Almost everything else is great as well.

The wait, the hype, the anticipation. It was all worth it. Go out and see the movie.