Archive for Review

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.

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.

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.

Amazing Movies You Must Watch #2

Posted in Amazing Movies that you Must Watch with tags , , , , , , , on June 24, 2008 by themoviecult

Sex, Lies, and Video  Tape

Sex, Lies, and Videotape is an explicit drama about the sex lives of four people, released in 1989.  Written and directed by the sometimes amazing Steven Soderbergh, and starring great character actors in the main roles, Sex, Lies, and Videotape, is a great example of independent cinema.

Sex, Lies, and Videotape has a complex, character-driven plot.  It starts with John Mullany (Peter Gallagher) and his wife, Anne Bishop Mullany (Andie MacDowell), who are living in a weak, loveless relationship.  Anne is sexually repressed, and John is having an affair with her sister, Cynthia Patrice Bishop (Laura San Giacomo).  John’s old friend, Graham Dalton (James Spader), is back in town and comes to stay with the couple.  Right away, he seems unusual.  Graham learns about all of the characters, but as hard as he tries, he is unable to keep from revealing himself to them.

Graham and Anne

There’s more to it, and it’s all about Graham’s unusual sexual fetish – but summarising it here would spoil a lot of the fun and enjoyment Sex, Lies, and Videotape has to offer.  It is near impossible to guess what may happen next in Sex, Lies, and Videotape – Soderbergh’s script keeps its twists close to its chest.  The ending of the movie, itself, is as satisfying as the brilliant build-up deserves.
 
The writing in Sex, Lies, and Videotape is superb.  The realistic dialogue is almost perfectly unique to each character, and used to help track their growth.  While the love triangle aspect of the film’s writing had happened in many movies before (and has in many since), Graham’s character is amazingly fresh.  His peculiarity makes for an explosive catalyst to the story.

Cynthia

Do see this film if you get the chance to, because it is an amazing display of writing, acting, and directing coming together to great something brilliant.

Amazing Movies you Must Watch #1

Posted in Amazing Movies that you Must Watch with tags , , , , , , on June 3, 2008 by themoviecult

City of God

 

City of God is an epic, character driven Brazilian film, made in 2002.  It’s a coming of age story.  It is also a powerful study of crime and violence, with a mash of beautiful and barbaric characters, imagery and themes.

 

The film is about two young men who are coming of age in the City of God – the crime-infested, poverty-stricken slums of Rio de Janeiro.  Rocket refuses to embrace crime and dreams of escaping through his passion for photography.  Rocket is our main character and the narrator of the many stories in the City of God – a reliable and modest source.  Rocket’s polar opposite, L’il Ze, dreams of being the most powerful and feared criminal in the slums, which he does through ruthlessness and violence.

 

L'il Ze

 

City of God’s characters each have their own morals, dreams and motives.  Their stories often intersect.  The plot is based upon the experiences of writer, Paulo Lins, from his novel, Cidade de Deus (City of God).  Only from a true story could such realistic characters and such an endearing and realistic plot come.

 

Beautiful Cinematography

 

The cinematography is beautiful.  The movie starts in cluttered, dirty, suburban streets that are bustling with life.  The evidence of growth and change in the slums is noticeable, through the many jumps to different times.  The crime and violence is shocking and confronting, and it directly clashes with the beautiful imagery to create unconformability.

 

City of God is amazing because in the space of a few minutes, you’ll both laugh and be shocked.  Every part of the production, from the script, to the direction, to the acting, work together to make this film unforgettable.  You’ll see the characters grow from small thieves, to owning the City of God, and then you’ll see them make way for the next generation.

 

Unsettling Imagery

 

Explained in its simplest form, City of God may seem like a selfish exploitation of the violence of the streets of Rio de Janeiro, in the name of making money.  It’s a complex masterpiece because it does so many things and goes to so many places.  It raises the issue of the link between poverty and crime without being melodramatic.  At some points, it is endearing, funny, and heart-warming.  Sometimes it is tragic, and there’s the stink of futility.