The Other Mother

Coraline is a very disturbing animated film. Allow me to set up the story. An offbeat girl named Coraline (not Caroline) lives in a drab existence with her mother and father. Feeling fed up with her boring life, Coraline discovers a secret door that leads her to an alternate universe. Where she finds a perfect world with perfect parents and neighbors (all of which have buttons for eyes). That fact that they have buttons instead of eyes is creepy enough. What really creeped me out was the idea of having a mother who looks like, but isn’t really your mother. I was so terrified that I actually had a nightmare about it. It made me appreciate my mother a lot more after watching. Coraline is a stop motion movie by the same guy who directed The Nightmare Before Christmas. It’s also the first movie by the animation company “Laika.” A company that I have very mixed feelings towards. Coraline was so creepy that I question why it was even marketed to children. Still, its a movie that I recommend for its technical merit and uniquely creepy style.

Coraline discovers another world

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Remote Control Your Destiny

Click is what happens when you take an interesting premise and cast Adam Sandler in the lead role. You end up with a movie that has fart jokes and over the top moments. Believe it or not, Click was the first Adam Sandler I saw. I deliberately avoided his movies for a long time, because I knew all about his reputation. I was totally immune to the effect he had on kids my age. However, Click was the one movie that caught my attention the most. A remote control that works on the real world, of course I’m curious. So it was on one day and I watched it. Although Adam Sandler’s particular brand of humor isn’t the best, it did make me laugh a bit. And I know that this is a modern Sandler film, which is when his career was definitely in the toilet. Click is different though. It’s bad, but not nearly as bad some people make it out to be. There’s actually a surprising amount drama and even emotion in it. Click is also notable for a few reasons. It’s the only Sandler movie with an Academy Award nomination (makeup). It’s also the last live action role that Julie Kavner did. After that she only voiced Marge Simpson. I also feel compelled to tell you that there’s a Goosebumps book/ episode also named Click that has a suspiciously similar premise. Click is a bit of a mixed bag. If you’re a fan, then this is the movie for you. If you’re not a fan, then the premise might be enough to get you to click it on.

Morty (right) gets the universal remote for Michael (left)

Worst Birthday Ever

Happy Death Day is the first (and so far only) time I went to see a movie on a whim. More so, because I never go to see horror movies in theaters. Along with comedies, horror movies never felt like they were worth a theater going experience. So my going to see Happy Death Day wasn’t based on it being a horror movie. It actually first caught my attention when I saw the TV spots for the movie. I took notice of the “time loop” storyline and that at least made me curious. Then I realized that October was going to be a mostly scarce month for movies. I had seen two movies by myself this year already, and they were both disappointments. I needed to see a movie that would redeem the year for me. Happy Death Day has a “time loop,” an attractive lead, and plus it was Friday the 13th, so I figured why not. It was a good idea, because Happy Death Day is a lot of fun. Tree (short for Theresa) is your typical selfish college girl who sleeps around and parties. She wakes up on her birthday and lives out her day until she is suddenly killed by a killer in a baby mask. The “time loop” plays out pretty much as you’d expect (a lot like Groundhog Day). With the main character first being confused, then having a break down, then doing whatever they want, and then finally improving their life. The horror element felt like it came in at just the right moments. Though the best thing about the movie is easily Jessica Rothe’s performance. Her character is funny, smart, and eventually badass. I definitely wasn’t expecting much from this movie. Happy Death Day was a very pleasant surprise.

Tree (right) doesn’t realize the killer (left) is behind her

The Wave That Wiped Out the World

2012 has an interesting history. It’s a movie about the supposed end of the world that was supposed to happen on December 21, 2012, but the movie was released in 2009. I remember when so many people actually thought the world was going to end. Just because the Mayan calendar cuts off at that date in 2012. So when I heard of the movie 2012, I was like, seriously? I even watched it in 2013 just to prove a point. Roland Emmerich, the man responsible for so many other disaster movies, directed it. Bringing in his usual cliches of having a lot of characters, different people coming together in the end, and landmarks being destroyed. Most of the characters have paper thin personalities and just feel like walking tropes. The only positive I can say about the movie is the visual effects are pretty spectacular. Especially when Los Angeles gets destroyed. The ending wasn’t at all what I was expecting. Then again I didn’t know what to expect from a movie about a day that wouldn’t come for another 3 years. 2012 now works best as a silly reminder of something that never happened.

Los Angeles plunges into the ocean

I’m Afraid I can’t do That

2001: A Space Odyssey begs you to ask many questions, but the one question I have is… WTF did I just watch? 2001: A Space Odyssey is one of the most confusing masterpieces ever made. From the visionary mind of Stanley Kubrick, 2001: A Space Odyssey bares the pacing, visionary style, and thought provoking narrative of one of his films. Though I have to wonder if he was on drugs while making it. I have always known about this movie. From a very young age, my parents told me all about it. They said it was really long and boring. I knew at some point I would see the movie. It has been parodied relentlessly in a number of media. I was more familiar with the parodies than I was with the actual movie. Elements of the movie were parodied in The Simpsons, Futurama, and WALL•E, just to name a few. Though its also been very influential in sci-fi works as well. No doubt we have 2001: A Space Odyssey to thank for a lot of other great movies. This is a very difficult movie to explain, but I’m going to attempt to anyway…

HAL 9000

2001: A Space Odyssey has an iconic opening with an even more iconic musical theme. The sun peers out from behind the moon and transitions to a shot of the Earth. The first segment takes place in the dawn of man. Some may wonder why a science fiction movie starts with a bunch of apes, but trust me it has a purpose. We then transition to a space shuttle with scientists who sort of explain what their mission is. After that segment, two astronauts are now traveling to Jupiter. It is here where we meet HAL 9000. An artificially intelligent red eye who decides the mission is more important than the survival of the crew. The basis of HAL 9000 has been redone a number of times. Unfortunately, it may not be too hard to imagine this machine being built in the not too distant future. In the films final segment, we are taken through a visual drug trip that transcends time itself. Ending with another iconic shot of a baby embryo in space. Like I said, this is a difficult movie to explain. I’m still trying to comprehend it. I would call it boring, but not like fall asleep boring. 2001: A Space Odyssey is 2 hours and 41 minutes long. I think it might be the longest movie with very little dialogue. 30 minutes can go by with no talking whatsoever. Sometimes all you hear is one sound like breathing or beeping. What makes the movie a masterpiece is the music and visual effects. It’s actually all practical effects (which is impressive). 2001: A Space Odyssey may be a long think heavy movie, but it’s an important one nonetheless. Film students will love it. It’s a genuinely one of a kind experience.

Time and Space

Sink into the Floor

Get Out gets a lot right. I watched many segments of Key & Peele, so I was very familiar with Jordan Peele. If you were to tell me that a stand-up comic’s directorial debut would become one of the most acclaimed horror movies in recent memory, I’d say you were crazy. But that’s what happened. I guess you can’t judge a book by its cover. Which turns out to be the moral of the movie. Get Out is a psychological horror movie. So more atmosphere and less blood. The main theme of Get Out is race (obviously). A black man meets the parents of his white girlfriend. Everything starts out relatively normal, but you can tell something is up. All the black people in town act strangely and everyone else is too inviting. I won’t give away what happens exactly, but the reason behind everything is kind of funny if you think about it. Get Out has been labeled a comedy, despite having a generally serious tone to it. There’s only one character that’s actually trying to be comedic. Which is why I wouldn’t call it a comedy. The horror on the other hand leaves from a very unsettling story. Get Out actually managed to maintain a 100% on “Rotten Tomatoes” (until some jerk came along and ruined it). Though Get Out might be a little over praised, it still deserves all the recognition it gets.

“You’re paralyzed”

P.S. Happy Friday the 13th

A-C-R-O-N-Y-M

As I have shown time and time again on my blog, I like to be random. I like to review movies that are entirely different from the last. I even like to review movies that people have either forgotten or never heard of as well. The 1986 Made-for-TV Disney movie The Girl Who Spelled Freedom is one of those movies. I first saw The Girl Who Spelled Freedom when I was in elementary school. Back then it was common to watch obscure movies in class, as long as it was educational. Heck, I’m still searching for some movies I saw in class. It took me years to finally find this movie. I had to ask people on “Yahoo Answers” using a detailed description of what I could remember about the movie. Thankfully somebody knew the answer and directed me to the film on “YouTube.” Which is lucky, because the movie has never been released on DVD (even though it should be). The Girl Who Spelled Freedom is based on the true story of a Cambodian family who gets sponsored by an American family. One of the girls became so smart that she ended up winning a school spelling bee. I loved watching the movie so much that I had to find it. It’s culturally relevant and fascinating to watch. I strongly suggest watching it if you have the time.

Spell

Linn Yann wins the spelling bee

P.S. I’ve supplied the full movie underneath. The only place you can watch it.

You is Smart, You is Kind, You is Important

The Help feels like the perfect race relations movie. It’s serious when it needs to be and lighthearted at all the right moments. With a story that never seems one-sided. Back in the early 60’s and before that, “the help” was a term used to describe servants whom wealthy white folks had. Most of which were black. The Help follows a young writer named Skeeter, who decides to write a book from the point of view of “the help.” Which would have been controversial at the time. The film follows the lives of two workers in particular. Aibileen, a reserved, strong-willed, and polite maid. And Minny, smart mouthed, spunky, and traditional maid. The cast is phenomenal. Every single actress deserved an Oscar for their performances. Namely Viola Davis, Jessica Chastain, Bryce Dallas Howard, and Emma Stone. The only one who did win an Oscar was Octavia Spencer. She’s easily the best character in the movie and she has a perfect arc. Just don’t eat the chocolate pie. Other then that, The Help is a must watch.

Aibileen (right) and Minny (left) gossip

Think of the Children

Kramer vs. Kramer did something no other movie before it dared to do. For those who are unfamiliar, Kramer vs. Kramer is film about a mother who out of nowhere decides to leave her husband. At first you might think that was an empowering thing for her to do, until you realize she just abandoned her own son. In most movies or even real life, the man is the one who leaves his family. A mother leaving was practically unheard of at the time. The workaholic father now has to take care of his son all by himself. The progression of their relationship from hating each other to loving each other is flawless. One of their most memorable scenes is “the ice cream scene.” Everything is perfect until his ex wife returns (1½ years later) wanting her son back. That’s where the title Kramer vs. Kramer comes in. The movie brings up important questions about parental roles and whether or not a father is a more suitable parent. I’m sorry, but the mother is kind of despicable in my opinion. The ending will leave you with question, but that’s not such a bad thing in the long run. It’s what earned the movie 9 nominations and 5 wins including Best Picture.

Ted (left) tells Joanna (right) he can’t have their son

Singing Songs and Slitting Throats

Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street is perhaps the most unconventional musical ever made. It’s a musical, but also a slasher movie. Sweeney Todd is technically a villain who murders dozens of people. The colors are dark and drab in a way only Tim Burton can pull off. Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street came during a time when Tim Burton lost most of his originality and became a parody of himself. Which makes this film such an important accomplishment. Johnny Depp even manages to nab a Best Actor nomination. There is a lot of blood in this story and a dark message. You’d think that characters breaking out into song wouldn’t work, but it does. The songs are catchy and sometimes even cheerful. It’s based on an existing musical that I’ve never seen. Though it’s more likely that Tim Burton’s version will be the one people remember. It’s R rated for blood and blood alone, but don’t take that as an invitation to show the kids. Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street is the perfect gothic musical. Now, how ’bout a shave?

Sweeney Todd (left) discovers his purpose as Ms. Lovett (right) looks longingly