Saturday, June 15, 2019

The Cleaning Lady (2018)

The Cleaning Lady (2018) [Stalkers]

Director: Jon Knautz
Writers: Alexis Kendra & Jon Knautz

This is the second movie in what looks to be a 3 movie series dealing with relationships between women where one is in power, and the other is under her. The first was the Brazilian film Good Manners and the next one will be Greta.

For a movie that is supposed to be about women, however, screenwriters John Knautz and Alexis Kendra created their characters as 2 dimensional objects.  Most of the women are vain, selfish and superficial creatures whose prime motivations in life are eating chocolates, getting beauty treatments, shopping, and defining themselves through their relationships with men.
Despite having her own business and a fantastic apartment with more candles than any sane person would need, Alice (screenwriter and producer Alexis Kendra) is a living doll. Looking like she was modeled after society's expectations of a beautiful woman, she is tall, skinny,and is incapable of doing anything that is not someone else's  will. She cannot quit smoking, she cannot ditch her manipulative, married lover, and she is incapable of working her 12-step recovery program (despite having a long-term sponsor). As a main character her inability to act or even change one aspect of her life makes her uninteresting, which then brings us to Shelly.

Shelly, the emotionally and physically scarred plumber and cleaning lady of the title has a more fully fleshed-out story, thanks to a couple of flashbacks. When her path crosses living doll Alice, her interests become inflamed and she quickly hatches a plot to add her to her living doll house.

Fairly predictable mayhem ensues.

You have to go through an awful lot of not very original or interesting drama before reaching a merely decent climax. The cleaning lady did not tidy things up.

[IMDB]   [Trailer]

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Good Manners (2017) [Foreign Horror]

Back in the days before Netflix and mailable DVDs, we used to have to go to the video store to rent VHS cassettes. Luckily, the Putney, Vermont general store had a great video tape collection in the early 1990s! What was especially wonderful, besides their wall of cult favorites, was the full large of foreign movies. Since this was pre-internet days, we didn't have the luxury of looking up titles read about them. All we had was what was on the box and sometimes the boxes lied!
We learned to be wary of movies that were billed as "Triumphs," or "Laughter filled testaments to life!" And the word "Heartwarming" was meant Do not rent this video!" One such South American film, the title escapes me, bore all those labels was about a middle-aged gold digger and her desire  to plan to find a sugar daddy so she can leave her husband and ungrateful children. The climax end takes place in a remote in the jungle where the husband and the elderly sugar daddy incapacitate face each ahead of an oncoming flood. The film ends with the woman leaving both men to drown. As she rushes to safety, she comments that someone always cares for stray dogs.

I was reminded of these things after watching 2017's Good Manners from Brazil. The film is a beautiful thing to watch, making Sao Paulo look like a mystical and magical place. The performances are all excellent and found myself deeply involved with the character's story, at least in the first half of the film. All of this magic disappeared during the second half of the film which became unquestionably bleak and even though it was fantastical, was quite unmagical. The ending itself was unquestionably bleak and more than a little puzzling. I really wanted to like this film, but it is one stray dog that no one will take care of.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Shocktoberfest 2015 Housebound (Gerard Johnstone, 2014)

2014 was a great year for New Zealand horror!  Two Kiwi films from that year, Gerard Johnstone's first feature length, claustrophobic, comedy/thriller Housebound and the mockumentary vampire film What We Do In The Shadows both figure prominently on Mark Hofmeyer's The Top 21 Horror Films of the 21st Century!

I watched Housebound on Netflix and had a great time with it.  The film paces itself well while dissecting the inner workings of a dysfunctional family attempting to reintegrate their prodigal daughter while living in an apparently haunted house.  Morgana O'Reilly shows great prowess as Kylie who swings between royally pissed off daughter who is forced to return home and seeming victim of a malevolent force that just wants to help.

I should also mention that it is a screwy-screwball comedy with bumps, jumps, pratfall and plenty of hilarious one-liners!

While lacking any touching or sentimental moments, Housebound packs in plenty of laughs, thrills and genuinely scary moments plus an appropriate amount of  gore.

And to top it off, there is this song at the end: 

Click here to see the list of movies I am shooting to watch between now and the Halloween. Make sure to check out the original article at Movies, Film and Flix !

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Shocktoberfest 2015-The Mist (Frank Darabont, 2007)

Every spring, my old home state of Vermont shuts down for  Town Meeting Day. This a day for the populace to practice democracy by directly by debating, discussing and voting on various ordinances.  It is a tradition that goes back to the 17th century.  On Town Meeting Day in 1999, Vermont Public Radio broadcast a brief interview with author Stephen King about the new mini-series based on his novel Storm of the Century.  The timing was no coincidence since the climax of Storm takes place at what is probably one of the saddest Town Meetings in literature. I cannot remember his exact words (and if anyone can find them-you'll earn a place of honor in my heart), King started the interview by saying that there was nothing scarier to him than a group of ordinary citizens gathered together in terrible circumstances.  This theme returns time and again in many of his works and their various sized screen adaptations but one of the best is Frank Darabont's 2007 version of King's novella The Mist. Huddled together for survival in a New England grocery store the morning after a storm, this collection of concerned citizens gleefully shed their silly man suits and willfully start biting the heads off their neighbors for the singular pleasure of shitting down their necks almost as soon as the blood from the first victims starts to fly.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Shocktoberfest 2015-Låt den rätte komma in (Let the Right One In), Tomas Alfredson, 2008

 Remember that kid in middle school that no-one liked?  The one that just didn't fit into any group except as Fresh Meat for the bullies?  Ever wonder what happened to him or are you glad you don't have to avoid sitting next to his funny smelling ass on the bus any longer? According to original novelist and screenwriter, John Ajvide Lindqvist, there is a pretty good chance he is drugging people, draining their blood and taking it home to feed it to his best friend, a centuries old vampire.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Shocktoberfest 2015-Cabin in the Woods Edition (Joss Whedon, 2012)

October is really Shocktober in my house.  That's when I try to watch as many horror movies as I can.
I am not a very organized person, and terrible at planning, so I usually wing these yearly marathons and try to make some sort of tally of what I watched.  Well, I made a list last year.  That was a step up from previous years.  Last weekend I came across this interesting article which listed the top 21 horror films of the 21st century (thus far), according to the Internets. Inspired by the fact that many of my favorite, modern films were on it, I made an executive decision and decided that Shoctoberfest would start early this year.  Here is the list that Mark Hofmeyer at Movies Films & Flix created, so let's get busy:

21. (tie) Session 9 (2001)
21 (tie). The Devil’s Rejects (2005)
20. What We Do in the Shadows (2014)
19. Paranormal Activity (2007)
18. The Mist (2007)
17. The House of the Devil (2009)
16. American Psycho (2000)
15. Trick r’ Treat (2007)
14. [Rec] (2007)
13. Martyrs (2008)
12. The Conjuring (2013)
11. The Ring (2002) (American remake)
10. Drag Me To Hell (2009)
9. Mulholland Drive (2001)
8. Shaun of the Dead (2004)
7. The Babadook (2014)
6. It Follows (2014)
5. Let the Right One In (2008)
4. The Descent (2005)
3. 28 Days Later (2002)
2. Pan’s Labyrinth (2006)
The Winner: Cabin in the Woods (2012)
(My honorable mentions include Kill List, the entire [REC], VHS and ABC's of Death franchises.  I know that not everyone enjoyed the franchise films as much as I did, but why heck wasn't Kill List on this list?)

To find out how the author chose these films, read the article.  My goal is to try to watch as many of these films as I can before I get distracted by oh look, nonfat Greek Yogurt...But really, let's just jump right to the top of the list and start talking about the movies.

To start off, I watched Joss Whedon's 2012 meta-horror film The Cabin in the Woods. If you haven't seen it, stop reading and go watch it.  Seriously, the less you know, the better your experience will be.  We'll wait.

What does the suffix meta mean when applied to any type of art work?  If you are still reading and haven't seen the movie, I wash my hands of all responsibility.  Meta is an adjective that describes a creative work referring to itself or to the conventions of its genre.  It is  self-referential.  Does that make The Cabin in the Woods a horror movie about horror movies? Or is that just dumb?  Well, IMHO, the whole meta genre can get old, tired and predictable pretty quickly.  It can also re-plow the once fallow fields of an exhausted old farm and yield a smart, exciting and entirely fresh approach.

Richard Jenkins and Bradley Whitford proving that peeling off the opaque layers
 and removing the obfuscations behind  reviled archetypes (and stereotypes) is cool.
It took a awhile to warm up to the film the first time through because it was so trite and cliched in the first third.  But that is what made the rest of the film so amazing!  Plus Whedon and co-writer Drew Goddard (The Martian, Cloverfield) wrote themselves into the script as a two man chorus whose wry banter provided excellent exposition.

To get all the "in" joke references, check out this cool video on Good Bad Flicks's YouTube page (worth checking out for further content).  Make sure to watch to the end (it is about 10 minutes long) because he does a great job (better than I could) explaining why  The Cabin in the Woods is such a fun and important film for fans of the genre.

I realize that most of this post is content from other posts, so does that make this a meta-post?

Friday, August 14, 2015

Something about a dragon (another Heavy Rotation on my iPod post)

Obligatory “I know it has been a while...” paragraph: I know it has been a while since my last post.

The question all dilettantes ask themselves constantly is “Am I missing something cool?” At some point in the past I made a decision to start actively seeking art, music, films, whatever my diverse diversions are called, that are created by women. The basis was simple; most of my music, books, favorite film makers are men. Not that there is anything wrong with that, I happen to be a man IRL (Sorry, Hungd00d682, but you have been catfished. And you need help).  But it seemed that there were many voices that deserved to be heard.

 So this post is a gratitude post for some of the cool, new music I have been listening to from that other gender.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

[REC] 4: APOCALYPSE, 2015 Jaume Balagueró

I am just going to leave this here, from a fb conversation on God and man:

I think that comments like the ones you started this thread have little to do with the nature of a higher power and more to do with the nature of human beings. And let's face it, since we are all free to create our own understanding of what that higher power is, there is going to be some pretty messed up stuff put out there by a lot of unbalanced folk whose most redeeming quality is their ability to make other people do stupid stuff. Having said that, I would suggest you take some time to open yourself up to God so that he would show you His true nature by watching [REC] 4: Apocalypse, which deals with these issues in a unique and surprisingly sensitive way.

 Seriously, you need to put it at the top of  the list of important things to do soon. Even more important than fixing Timmy's kite or getting gang-banged by midgets in clown make-up. Maybe not the midgets, but you know that Timmy punk is going to grow up to be an asshole no matter how many times you fix his fucking kite. Plus, there is a literal shower of monkey guts.

Yes, I am a fan of the whole series. Each movie is a well-balanced movie-meal of good scares, great action and just the right amount of gore and humor.  As a plus, missing from the third installment, Manuela Velasco is back as Ángela Vidal, one of the most serious butt-kicking femmes in any franchise since Sigourny Weaver's Ripley.

Available on VOD from the usual suspects.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Shocktober Round Up

Even though she doesn't like horror movies, The Doctor does like Halloween.  This is us as tour guides for a haunted house in Vergennes, Vermont. This was probably our favorite Halloween Night.

Every year, much to the Doctor's dismay, I dub October Shocktober and try to watch as many horror movies as I can.  This year I decided to share the movies I watched by posting an image from the it as my fb profile picture.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Godzilla (Gareth Edwards, 2014)

If forgotten, the sins of the past are likely to be revisited on the future. As the only nation to have nuclear weapons used against them, Japan has a duty to remember the scale of devastation Fat Man and Little Boy had on the unsuspecting cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945. They commemorated these attacks by re-imagining the bombs as giant, invulnerable radioactive monsters who would devastate entire cities. It was fitting that The Doctor and I chose to honor the memory of the frightening destruction of the war by spending Memorial Day watching Gareth Edwards' thoroughly American remake of Godzilla, a creature spawned 60 years ago by the Japanese to remind us all of the monstrous effects of the most violent weapons ever unleashed on humanity.