Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Pain & Gain (B+)

Michael Bay's Pain & Gain is a dizzying, lunatic dissent into one of the most surreal and gleefully disturbing blue collar crimes to have ever been committed in the already morally desolate dystopia of 1990s-era Miami. The case involves a group of charismatic bodybuilders willing to break all taboos of American society to achieve their MTV warped perception of the American dream; aggressively abusing their pectoral wattage to torture an intensely unlikable Columbian entrepreneur into surrendering all assets and traces of former existence. It's depraved, violent, and relentlessly hyperactive popcorn entertainment drenched in sarcastic dark humor and lit by the inherently warm glow of the Florida sun. Bay has concocted a Molotov cocktail of dizzying sadism, and against all moral judgement, it's difficult not to get swept up in what is sincerely an absolute blast.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Bullet to the Head (C)

By all accounts, Walter Hill's New Orleans set buddy-action flick, Bullet to the Head, is not a good movie. For the majority of its running time, it's poorly directed, hopelessly clichéd beyond abandon, features a sleepwalking Stallone as its protagonist, and an unintentionally annoying Sung Kang as the cop accidentally brought into the generic conspiracy located at the film's relentlessly conventional core. Even those interested in trashy, old school thrills will come off disappointed by the sheer lack of personality on display. These harsh critiques mostly apply to the first 80 minutes: A crudely assembled pastiche of 80s and 90s hackneyed plot points, and conversations which follow for of a Mad Libs type structure compared to similar films of its ilk. For an R-rated Sylvester Stallone vehicle directed by former champion of action Walter Hill, including up-and-coming king of carnage Jason Momoa (Conan the Barbarian), the best aspect shouldn't be a cameo by Christian Slater as a flamboyant and corrupt lawyer. This isn't meant as an insult toward Slater, but not having the most memorable part of an action film named Bullet to the Head be a bullet to any part of the anatomy should be a violation of one of the biggest unspoken laws of filmmaking.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Lords of Salem (B+)

Rob Zombie's The Lords of Salem perfectly captures the feeling of being forcibly dragged into the darkest depths of hell. The film stars Sheri Moon Zombie as Heidi, a Salem-based DJ and former heroin addict who is sent a mysterious wooden box containing a vinyl record with connections to the town's dark and violent history. After listening to the record, she begins to have vivid hallucinations gradually increasing in scale and severity; commencing with visions of dismembered bodies dangling from the walls of her Georges Méliès-styled apartment, and later climaxing with an intensive audiovisual assault as the seven deadly sins encompass her mind in a mad flurry of horrific imagery. Salem is an exercise in slow building terror as Zombie steadily guides us through the mind of a woman loosing a spiritual battle against the devil and his Wiccan followers; with the odds of her survival dwindling with every passing minute until eventual possession and death seem inevitable.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Movie 43 (D+)

Read any review for the sketch comedy omnibus Movie 43, and you'll hear that it's one of the worst movies ever made: The metaphorical equivalent to the apartheid, and a clear sign that humanity has descented into the depths of hell for comedic entertainment. A movie solely advertised for celebrities doing disgusting things for an hour-and-half without any plot, with a couple of recognisable directors thrown in for good measure to tarnish their names through helping to make such garbage. It's been years since such a widely panned movie has been released, and what makes the situation all the more compelling is that seemingly half of Hollywood is involved. Actors include Dennis Quaid, Greg Kinnear, Hugh Jackman, Kate Winslet, Naomi Watts, Liev Schreiber, Anna Faris, and Chris Pratt, and that's only within the first 20 minutes. Jammed to the brim with stars like the ultimate cheat for Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon, it elevates Movie 43 beyond the point of traditional failure. This movie shouldn't have been dumped in the dog days of January with a low theater count and a shoddy marketing effort. With a cast like this, it should be a priority project released on a good date in the middle of summer. Even with mediocre material, it's possible to get a good audience to see the film, rather than the low count which made up its abysmal $4,805,878 opening weekend.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

John Dies at the End (B)

1970s horror pioneer Don Coscarelli makes his long awaited return to filmmaking with John Dies at the End: A gory, half remembered nightmare visually recreated for the screen. It's an intentional mess of genres, loose ends, philosophical ramblings, and heavily warped dream logic; all put together by someone who had either just woken from a particularly bizarre dream, or had just consumed vast quantities of illicit substances. This is a movie with enough ideas and graphic violence for at least a trilogy, and it's all hyper edited into one manic collage of surreal madness. Coscarelli has made a film where literally anything can happen at any time, and that type of absolute freedom from conventional storytelling allows for multiple feverishly brilliant sequences, but also leads to unintentional consequences as well.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Gangster Squad (B)

Rarely is there a film whose title perfectly matches the end product as much as Ruben Fleischer's glamourous, pseudo-grindhouse flick Gangster Squad. Replete with corny lines, horribly miscast actors, slick editing and cinematography, clichéd plot points, and immensely entertaining performances, Fleischer blasts an ultra-violent path for his film; foregoing any of the period piece aesthetic one might expect from a late 1940s set winter release starring the Oscar friendly Sean Penn and Ryan Gosling. In its place is a gloriously dumb neo-noir/shoot 'em up hybrid: A run-of-the-mill gansgsplotation film on a Pixie Stick sugar high. An excuse for Josh Brolin to borrow the grizzled detective persona for a little under two hours, a rare opportunity for comedic actress Emma Stone to play a femme fatale, and a showcase for Penn to obliterate the scenery as one of the most over-the-top villains in recent memory. It's the defibrillator shock which sends you reeling back into consciousness in the middle of the January/February dumping ground. Not a great film in terms of traditional quality, but it makes up for it with an unrelenting devotion to the gangster genre and a general feeling of madcap joy from all involved.

Film Crazy is Back!

I'm not great at introductions, let alone reintroductions, so hopefully this post goes kind of well.

I want to apologize for the abrupt break. It wasn't fair to readers to suddenly disappear for five months without explanation. There's no concrete reason as to why I completely shut down the site. School was getting more difficult, there was less time to watch movies, and my publicly mean-spirited review of the independent drama Brilliant Mistakes made me rethink my skills as a writer. It was a combination of factors which led me to reassess whether the site was worth operating, and it's now clear which side of the argument I chose.

Now, on what would've been the second anniversary of Film Crazy, I've realized that deciding to close the crazy was a terrible mistake. Writing reviews for this site was one of my favorite hobbies for two years, and I didn't realize how much I missed it until I considered all the time and great features lost. Hopefully some former readers are surfing the internet and find this viral affirmation. This is a coming out statement for what will hopefully be the best year of Film Crazy yet.

I've prepared a couple of reviews for films released earlier in the year, but because of final exams, consistent reviews probably won't arrive until mid-June. This doesn't matter too much though: I'm just infinitely happy to be back.

Thank You For Your Support And Happy Anniversary!

Monday, December 24, 2012

2012 Catch Up: Frankenweenie (A-)

Without the presence of blockbuster filmmaker Tim Burton guiding its way through the Hollywood system, it's impossible to imagine any possible scenario in which Frankenweenie, or anything remotely similar to it, could get produced by a mainstream production company. A b/w, stop-motion animated horror movie for kids, with the majority of jokes consisting of homages to old school creature features, and containing the death of multiple beloved pets, this film defies all conventions for traditional kiddie cinema. The first third mostly consists of a child realistically mourning the death of his furry best friend, and the final is a chaotic monster melee, hectic enough to terrify those below 10. In between, Burton shows a mostly unlikable (from a child's perspective) supporting cast ruining the protagonist's chances of reanimating his dog without repercussions. Without Burton's name attached to the poster, a kid's movie like this would be lucky to find distribution at all, let alone play 3,000+ theaters and receive the 3D treatment. However, without Tim Burton, this movie couldn't exist at all.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

2012 Catch-Up: Cloud Atlas (A)

One of the most unique blockbusters in recent memory, Tom Tykwer and the Wachowski Sibling's 172-minute magnum opus was released on October 26 to shockingly little fanfare from both casual moviegoers and critics. With a worldwide gross of $65 million contrasted against its overwhelming $135 million budget, and a respectable, yet disappointing Rotten Tomatoes score of 63%, calling Cloud Atlas a financial and critical flop would seem justified. However, in retrospect, this failure is slightly baffling. Tykwer and the Wachowski's had one of the most unanimously beloved actors of our time (Tom Hanks) as part of their ensemble cast, used an ambitious premise unlike anything previously shown on screen, and utilized the crowd-drawing presence of impressive special effects. Also working in their favor was a major studio buying the domestic distribution rights for their German outsourced feature, and choosing to release it in premium priced IMAX theaters. On top of this, there was no competition at the box office. All major movies were petering out before the release of Wreck-It Ralph and Flight on the next weekend, and there wasn't any reason for Cloud Atlas not to take first place in its first weekend. While there wasn't any possibility for it to recoup its massive budget, winning the box office crown as a modest dud was a realistic conclusion.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

2012 Catch Up: Argo (B)

(I'm trying to catch up on as many Oscar-baiting movies and favorite films of the year as I can by the end of the end of the month, so some reviews might be somewhat abbreviated)

Everything I could've ever wanted from Ben Affleck's third directorial effort can be found in the opening scene: A perfectly directed and acted recreation of the Iranian militants and students storming the U.S embassy in Tehran at the beginning of the Iran Hostage Crisis of the late 1970s. Grounded firmly in reality while still technically a dramatization of the historical events, it's an impeccably crafted introductory sequence. Affleck directs with a visceral intensity; unwilling to sugarcoat and make light of the looming tragedy. Not once does he cut away from the embassy, and presents the situation almost in real time. The only way to further intensify the proceedings would be if it had all been done in a single take, which admittedly would be downright impossible with all of the supporting characters in play. There are workers hastily trying to shred all documents within the embassy, ordinary Americans swept up in the terrifying ordeal, armed guards who have to protect the building and all those inside, while realizing that firing a single shot could provoke war between the U.S and Iran. Meanwhile, a mob of angry Iranians are slowly swarming the embassy, and a peaceful conclusion is no longer possible. Something horrible is going to happen; this mob is doom for the inhabitants of the embassy, but no one really knows what the inevitable horrors will entail.