Quick Review : A Night to Remember (1958)

Directed By – Roy Ward Baker
Starring – Kenneth More, Ronald Allen, Robert Ayres, Honor Blackman, Anthony Bushell, and Michael Goodliffe

Ahhh, a film about the Titanic. I remember reading about it in elementary school and then waiting a whole year to see the James Cameron version on VHS. Remember when it used to take a whole year for a film to be released on home video? It’s like two months now. Crazy. I wasn’t allowed to see it in theaters because my mother heard there was boob in it. I remember being shocked when a few classmates were able to go see it with their families. “DID YOU SEE ANY BOOB?” I would ask. They saw boob. They also saw a ship of 2300 people go down and over a thousand people die, but hey, Kate Winslet got nakey. I think it actually took me three or four viewings before I even got to see her naked. My parents would watch the film before hand, figure out precisely the moment before she got naked, pause the movie, and tell me it’s time for bedtime. I saw through their shit. I stuck out of bed one night and watched that whole damn movie at three in the morning. You know what’s funny? I didn’t give a shit about Kate Winslet naked. I gave about as much of a shit as I do now, which is not much. I was more interested in rewinding the part where the guys legs hit the propeller blade and he does like 12 flips before he hits the water. Wasn’t childhood fun?

Anyway, that film sucks for the most part. In watching the “original” version from Criterion I learned a few things. James Cameron takes other filmmakers ideas and recreates them using his fancy technology. I’d honestly rather watch a Michael Bay film instead of a James Cameron film not named T2 because I think that guy sucks that much. I admitted to taking a lot of ideas, characters, and even full lines from the original film, so I can’t say that he stole from this film, but my god is he an unoriginal bastard. You remember that scene where the band plays as the ship is sinking? Re-done. Mr. Andrews going down with his creation? Re-done. Fuck, even the gypsie dance, the iceberg hockey, and the fact that they cast Kathy Bates to mimic everything Tucker McGuire did as “Molly Brown”. All re-done. There was so much more heart and soul in this film that “Titanic” couldn’t even touch with a ten foot pole. The look of terror on the kids faces. The snobby way the 1st class passengers treated the steerage passengers. It was just better. Hell, I even got a little teary eyed during the end. Titanic never had that effect on me. Not for a second.

“A Night to Remember” is a great telling of what happened on that ship. They used actual survivor stories to recreate that night and it shows. The terror that those people must have lived through was accurately portrayed by a crew in a studio. The film is a fantastic document of that night. The last 30 minutes in particular being pretty damn fantastic. I recommend seeing this film if you liked the James Cameron version even a little. It’s a vastly superior film.


Film Review : Evil Dead (2013)

IMDB Score – 6.5
Rotten Tomato Score – 62%

Directed By – Fede Alvarez
Starring – Jane Levy, Shiloh Fernandez, Lou Taylor Pucci, Jessica Lucas, and Elizabeth Blackmore

Five friends head to a remote cabin, where the discovery of a Book of the Dead leads them to unwittingly summon up demons living in the nearby woods. The evil presence possesses them until only one is left to fight for survival.

As I am making my way through the 2013 films I neglected to see in theaters, I am being reminded why I chose not to see them in the first place. I usually hate remakes. The reason I do is not because it “ruins” the original because that statement doesn’t make any damn sense. Remakes don’t cease to make the originals exist. You like the original “Total Recall” better than remake? Great! Keep watching the original. Don’t see the new one. Easy. The originals will always be there for us. No, the reason I hate remakes is simply because I’ve seen it before. I know the story. I know what is going to happen and am forced to put all my faith into the remakes ability to do something different which always seems to fall flat. Horror films are the usual culprit in this regard in where they take an original piece of work and try to either make the same exact thing over again or try to out do it. We saw it with Nightmare on Elm Street, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Halloween, and The Thing. I know what you’re saying about that last one. BUT JOHN CARPENTER REMADE THE THING AND IT WAS GREAT! John Carpenter did something completely different with his remake and it worked perfectly mostly due to the fact that the special effects were state of the art at the time and still may be the best special effects film ever made (take that James Cameron). Great remakes are few and far between but they’re going to keep happening whether we like it or not. I may not lighten up to the idea of paying for these remakes but if one comes along with a good review I might take a chance on one of them.

I should have taken a chance on Evil Dead.

Seeing this in a theater on a packed night would have been awesome. It is by far one of the most disgusting and gore filled mainstream release I think I’ve ever seen. I mean this thing was playing in theaters next to kids movies. That’s incredible. It took the shlocky B level violence in the original cult classic and turned it up to 11. The story pretty much remained the same (and only solidified how great a satire Cabin in the Woods was) but that isn’t the feature of this film. This was just good old fashioned horror fest. The effects were beyond impressive and just seemed light years ahead of anything Eli Roth has cooked up in recent times. This isn’t “torture porn”. It is well crafted blood art. I honestly don’t know why I liked it more than any other film that just tries to go for shock value instead of actually trying to tell a story. While not the most complex of narratives, the film stayed very close to the original plot line and didn’t try to go out of the box too much. Sometimes simplicity trumps creativity.

It was basically just a really fun and cringe inducing film that I can see being a great hit at parties for those who want to watch something entirely ridiculous yet entirely intense and fun. Just don’t eat before watching it. Oh and Bruce Campbell just can’t resist a chainsaw can he?


Film Review – Gravity (2013)

IMDB Score – 8.8
RT Score – 97%

What can be said that hasn’t been said already about Alfonso Cuarón’s masterpiece Gravity? First off I want to make an urgent plea for anybody reading this review to see this film in theaters, not only a theater, but a nice one. Go see this in an AMC with fake IMAX or travel and see it in the real thing. I’m going to be dishing out a lot of dough to see this in IMAX multiple times. It’s a theater experience you really CAN NOT MISS. That being said let’s get to the review.

Ladies and gentlemen, this is my film of the year. This is arguably the most visceral theater going experience I’ve ever had as well. I forgot to breathe through the entire film. You may look at the run time of 90 minutes and feel sad that it isn’t longer. I couldn’t sit through a two and a half hour film like this. I would have a heart attack. From the absolutely stunning 12 minute first unbroken first shot to the rolling of the credits I couldn’t catch my breathe. I was in a constant state of intensity. Did I mention that there are only two actors in this film? TWO! It’s am achievement unlike any other to make such a flawless film with only two people. Cuarón steps in front of James Cameron for creating a world that we have never seen before but guess what…actually exists. Have you been to space? Yeah me neither. Well, this film takes you there. It’s the most realistic portrayal of space I have ever seen and according to most space people, is very accurate in depicting what would actually happen during a disaster like the one occurring in the film. Cuarón took a huge leap of faith by making a film with no explosion noises in the background. There is no sound in space and Michael Bay can suck a fat one after seeing this film. What was thought to take the audience out of the fear of doom actually made it that more horrifying. It’s a film that utilizes silence as a tool and utilizes it well. The film though is not completely silent. There is a wonderful booming score to really lift the dread through the roof. I was on the edge of my seat the entire time. It was wonderful.

The acting is also very good. I’m not even talking about Clooney. George hams it up the only way he knows how and while it was wonderful to watch, it wasn’t a stretch from his normal screen personas. This is Sandra Bullocks movie. I’m not fan of hers. She’s always fallen into the category of “I don’t mind them as a person but holy shit do they annoy me on screen”. Bullock hasn’t been that annoying but she has had her moments. Not in this film. She carries it. From start to finish she does a fantastic job portraying a person in utter peril. I believed she was in danger and I was strung along wishing and hoping she’d be okay. The transformation she goes through in this film is outstanding and a great piece of writing.

Don’t let the state of the art visuals and camera work fool you. This is an art film. It’s got this deep theme of rebirth and meaning of existence and a hint of religious overtones that make it more than a thriller in space. I obviously can’t go into much without giving away spoiler points but lets just say that Sandra Bullock goes through many stages of emotions that are artistically crafted through images.

Speaking of images, I can’t say enough how floored I was by the look of this film. I’m a camera nerd and the shots in this thing are nothing I’ve ever seen. There are shots going through space and into helmets and back into space without cutting leaving me to wonder what kind of sorcery Cuarón concocted to pull these shots off. This is why it’s so utterly important to see this on the biggest screen possible. It just isn’t justifiable to see it on a small screen.

This is my film of the year. This is the best action/thriller/sci fi movie I’ve seen in forever and I’ll be damned if something else comes along knocks this off as my number one film of 2013. When awards season comes around if this film doesn’t sweep the technical awards then they have no meaning anymore. There has never been a film like this and unless Cuarón decides to devote another seven years of his life to one project then there never will. Here I come Gravity. Prepare to take a lot of my money in the next two months.