Archive for the ‘On DVD’ Category

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As the upcoming semester draws near, it got me thinking about movies that deal with school. So in no particular order, I give you my favorite movies that deal with school.

Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure
This is a movie I have seen a number of times that has to be nearing triple digits. This incredibly quotable movie about two young people (that have to be perpetually stoned) that are allowed to travel through time thanks to future George Carlin. Honestly, this movie is dumb fun, but wouldn’t you have wanted to have an adventure like they had? Plus is was obviously inspired by Doctor Who. Win – all around.

Mean Girls

So many people dismiss this Tina Fey penned comedy as a movie for high school kids, but it is not only quite funny, it gave Lindsay Lohan her best role, tied with her role in Machete. It also introduced us to Rachel McAdams and the lovely Lizzy Caplan. I know this wasn’t the first role for either of them, but it is the first time I remember seeing them and it would be a crime if they never made it into my consciousness.

Scream
This Wes Craven classic makes it scary to be in high school, and I’m not talking about homework and pop-quizzes. Neve Campbell revitalizes the final girl troupe and the killer is unexpected. With tongue placed firmly in cheek, stereotypical high school kids are killed off by a villain that would become much more than the sum of its parts.

The Complete Harry Potter Series
Who wouldn’t love to receive a letter by owl stating that you have been accepted to Hogwarts. Even though it is not an actual school and it very fantastic, no other movie series has focused on life at school more than the Harry Potter films. Magic would have made high school more bearable.

Dead Poet’s Society
When I’m not watching this film, I forget how impactful it is, but whenever I watch it again, I wonder how I forgot. This is, hands down, Robin Williams’ best role (his accent disqualifies his role in Good Will Hunting). It is moving without being too heavy and manipulative.

Honorable mention to Fast Times at Ridgemont High, PCU, The Breakfast Club and Election

What are your favorite films about school? If you’re not sure if a movie you’re thinking of counts… I say it does.

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What would you do if the only person in the world that understands you is the one person you should not be around? Would you take that chance? How would that affect your life and future relationships? I saw a film that addresses those issues but was not a romantic comedy.

On Tuesday evening, I had the chance to see a film called Apart. The film is the tale of two young people linked by a very rare psychological condition called ICD-10 F24 which is part of the larger psychoses grouping of conditions, this condition can also be referred to as Shared psychotic disorder. This is a disorder in which two people share delusions and is mostly seen in people with very close emotional ties. This is all of the information you need on the condition itself, except to say that the delusions usually stop when the two are Apart.

The film begins after an accident has left Noah Greene, played by Josh Danziger, in a coma for an unspecified period. Josh has to learn to use all of his muscles again as he was comatose long enough for them to atrophy. During Noah’s physical rehabilitation, he undergoes a psychological rehabilitation in attempts to restore his lost memories. Bruce McGill, best known to me from MacGyver, plays Noah’s doctor.

Meanwhile, we follow Emily Gates, played by the lovely Olesya Rulin from the High School Musical films, who is very closed off. She is encouraged by her doctor, played by Joey Lauren Adams, to make sure she takes her pills. From what we see of Emily at the beginning of the film, she is quite lonely, but it is by her own design.

As Noah’s memories begin to come back, he becomes obsessed with finding out what happened the night of the mysterious fire. His brother, Oliver, is intent on Noah staying away from their former town and tried to keep Noah focused on moving on. When Noah finds pictures of Emily, he knows she is important to him and is set on finding her, if even just to talk.

I don’t want to go into the details of this one. It’s definitely worth a watch. The film draws the viewer in and makes me want to see more from both the two leads as well as the writer/director. The film had a tone that I equated to Donnie Darko, although when asked, director Aaron Rottinghaus said that he was not directly inspired by Richard Kelly. He did say that he was inspired by Christopher Nolan and Stephen Soderbergh. I could definitely see a little Memento influence as well as a few shots that reminded me of Traffic.

I would be doing this film a disservice not to go into a bit more detail about the leads. Josh Danziger shows us the anger of not being able to remember in a way that makes you feel for Noah, even when during times when you think he may have done some horrible things. Olesya Rulin has large eyes that exude the pain of Emily. Every time she is shown in close-up and she is portraying the pain inside (which is a large portion of the film) it is heart breaking.

This is the type of film that brings me to festivals, the type of film that I can talk about at length with others who have seen it and the type of film that makes me want to do what I can do so that others will see it. Do yourself a favor and catch the screening on Sunday July 24th at 2:30 at the Indy Film Fest.

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The Closing Night Selection for the Indianapolis International Film Festival this year is a movie called “These Amazing Shadows.”  I am so excited to see this film; I think I’ve watched the trailer about 57 times.  It fills me with so much happiness, joy, sadness and melancholy.  Films are truly such a beautiful art form and we are in danger of losing so many of our beloved movies!

I think, if you choose only one film to see at the IIFF this year, this is the movie to see.  I think it’ll invigorate people back into loving film!

This movie screens at 7:30 p.m., Saturday July 23rd, at the IMA.

 

Hello again from the Indianapolis International Film Fest!  On Monday, July 18th, I had the honor of being the correspondent from the Wanna Watch a Movie? podcast in covering the IIFF movie of my choice.  The description was what caught my eye and is why I picked this movie to cover for the blog.  The description reads, as follows:

Directed by the acclaimed actor and director Peter Mullan (My Name is Joe, The Magdalene Sisters) NEDS, so called Non-Educated Delinquents, takes place in the gritty, savage and often violent world of 1970’s Glasgow. On the brink of adolescence, young John McGill is a bright and sensitive boy, eager to learn and full of promise. But, the cards are stacked against him. Most of the adults in his life fail him in one way or another. His father is a drunken violent bully and his teachers – punishing John for the ‘sins’ of his older brother, Benny – are down on him from the start. With no one willing to give him the chance he desperately needs, John takes to the savage life of the streets with a vengeance. NEDS is not only a story of lost hope, it is story of survival by any means necessary.
 

Warning to my readers, here there be spoilers.  I am going to talk about this movie in detail and I will be revealing climax and resolution.  Also, to note, these are my opinions, and you don’t have to agree with them, so please don’t take my words as gospel.  Go find out for yourself if this is a movie for you.  SO, if by that description you want to see this film, I suggest you do!  It is screening again on Thursday, July 21st at 9 p.m. in the Toby Theatre.

First off, it’s this type of movie that I am most thankful for the Indy Film Fest.  Without an avenue such as the IIFF, I would most likely have a really hard time accessing this film.  It’s from the U.K., and written and directed by Peter Mullan.  I know Peter Mullan from a number of films as an actor.  He played Yaxley in “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Pt. 1”, Syd in “Children of Men”, and he was also in “Braveheart” — the line I always remember, “we will run, and we will live.”  Great line.  He’s also been at the helm, as a director, for 7 features and shorts.  All around brilliant man.

This movie is set in 1972-1974 Glasgow, Scotland.  We meet young John McGill – I’m guessing somewhere around the age of 13.  He’s graduating from primary school.  (For those in the US, think elementary/middle school, before high school)  He is very obviously a bright, young man who usually has his nose in a book and enjoys being at the head of the class.  As his family is leaving the graduation, another boy, just a year or two older than young John, threatens him quite savagely saying when John gets to the “secondary” school, that this boy, Canta he is called, will beat the ever-living out of John.  John holds his own though, and doesn’t show fear towards Canta.  It’s that night, and we’re at John’s house.  John has a little sister, Elizabeth, a mom, and an aunt who’s come in for the graduation who lives in America.  We meet John’s father, Mr. McGill, in an unconventional way.  Mr. McGill is very obviously not a part of a happy family and everyone silences when he enters a room.  We come to find out later that Mr. McGill is a raging alcoholic who is abusive (at least mentally and emotionally) to his wife and children.  [Peter Mullan also plays Mr. McGill, along with writing and directing this movie.]

We also find out that there is another McGill; older brother Benny, who does not live at home and who is the personification of our movie title.  NEDS stands for “non-educated deliquents.”  Benny is a bit of a leader in the gang-community but doesn’t come home very often (most likely because of his mother, which I will get to later).  John sets out to get the news of Canta to his big brother and finds another gang-member and leaves a message.  That’s a pretty funny scene.  Benny eventually finds out of the bully, and roughs him up, much to John’s delight.  (I have personal experience with this, as my big sister roughed up a bully who shall not be named when I was in the 7th grade)

When John gets to secondary school, he quickly excels into the top of his class and seems to be destined for greatness.  However, whenever he mentions his name, he immediately invokes Benny’s history into teachers and other adults.  (It is at this point that young John, played by Greg Forrest magically morphs into teenager John, brilliantly played by Conor McCarron.)  He meets another scholar, friend Julian, and begins to spend a lot of time with him.  You can see John really settling into his own skin, leaving the burden that all “little siblings” feel at one time or another as he grows into a man.  An unfortunate accident with an expensive record player at Julian’s house makes Julian’s mom think twice about letting John come over to hang out with her son.  I feel at this point the movie changes drastically.

John gives into the predetermined path laid before him because of his brother and the culture of street-gang ridden Glasgow.  He begins running with the gang “Young Car D” — they’re next up to bat underneath (old?) Car D, the gang that Benny leads.  John becomes quite the punk, although he is still extremely intelligent as we see in a scene with his Latin teacher.  One of the most heart-wrenching scenes (for me) was the point of no return when John throws a pair of football shoes (cleats) through the window of Julian’s house, that are busting at the seams with fireworks.  He screams, “you want a NED?  You got a NED!” (I don’t know if those were the exact words, but you get the gist.)

John’s anger and agitation grows over the course of the next year; he gets expelled from school and is becoming a menace to society.  Enter in bully Canta who is back from (I don’t know where, but now he lives in the gang territory of Young Car D) and wants to become part of John’s gang.  John is adamant that he wants nothing to do with him in his crowd, but is overruled by the other kids.  In a moment of pure psychotic overindulgence, John smashes Canta in the face with a cement paver and leaves him in a cemetery.  Canta is left brain damaged and feeble minded.

John’s friends start to distance themselves from him, noting that he’s “lost it”.  John then takes out his aggressions on his father, almost beating him to death.  His mother kicks him out of the house, tells him never to return.  (This is what I was talking about earlier, about his mother.  This did not sit well with me at all.  I suppose it’s the stereotypical abused woman who instead of protecting her children, chooses to defend her abuser.)  John holes up in a boiler room for an undetermined amount of time, his gang friends abandon him, and he’s alone.  Benny, in the meantime, has been accused of the crime in which John committed against Canta.

Then there’s the Jesus scene.  Chalk it up to me not being smart enough or not savvy enough to understand the symbolism of this scene… so I’m not going to talk about it for fear of sounding like a complete idiot.  🙂

Mr. McGill, sober and not happy about it, finds John lying in the street and tells him to go home to his worried-sick mother.  He does, and it seems like at this point, we’re on the road to redemption.  John’s back at home, Benny’s at home (though he leaves quickly for Spain to “get away from it all”), dad’s on the wagon, and all is well in the McGill house.  Nope.  Not at all.  John is held at crossbow-point and threatened by the rival gang’s leader. Later that night, Mr. McGill tells John, in a heart-wrenching scene at the kitchen table to “Finish Me.”  I audibly gasped at this line.  Later that evening, John duct-tapes knives into his hands so they will not come out without some considerably force and skin-ripping.  He goes to his father’s room, who instructs him to come back after he’s asleep.  John leaves the house to go for a pre-murder walk into the rival gang’s territory and stabs the crossbow-weilder half to death.  Walking back to his house, the rest of that gang beat him half to death, only to be rescued by his old friends.  He doesn’t react properly, in their opinion, and he is left alone again.  He walks into his father’s room, and arcs the blades high in the air, and…well, this is sort of ambiguous.  Does he kill him?  He may or may not, though I think not.  I’m sure he wouldn’t have been able to go to school the next day if he had.

Being on probation at school means he’s not allowed to start at the top, but rather in the remedial classes to see if he can work his way back up.  Canta is also in the class and has been reduced to the mind of a toddler.  On a field trip to the zoo, the class’s safari caravan breaks down; John and Canta are left until another van can pick them up.  They decide to walk back to the nature center, through the open-aired zoo.  Holding hands, they walk through a lion’s den, unscathed and the movie ends.

This is what I want to say about this movie, and I welcome any and all feedback.  I’m a lover of movies, but am in no way a scholar when it comes to symbolism and story-telling, especially after just one viewing.

– I feel that this movie could be two separate movies; after the shoe-firework-bomb throwing scene, this film takes a daaaaaaaaaaaark turn.

– Was the first half of the movie really that funny, or was it just humorous because kids are swearing every other word of their sentences?  I realize this could be a cultural difference – and am in no way a prude – I don’t mind swearing.  But when people describe it as funny, I wonder if it’s just because little geeky looking kids are swearing like truck drivers?

– I’m glad that this movie was subtitled, although the dialogue was spoken in English.  Well, Scottish-English with a heavy accent and some serious slang words I didn’t understand.  SO, thank you for the subtitles.

– Conor McCarron, who plays teenager John, is fantastic.  With the face of a boy, but with the mind of a man, he pulls off the duality perfectly.

– Director/Writer Peter Mullan says this movie is “personal, but not autobiographical.”  I wonder where the percentages split this story.

– I’m still really upset by the mother.  I think we’ve used this storyline up a bit.  What happened to strong women?

– The ensemble of the street gangs are great – all these young men did a fantastic job playing punks.  I don’t know if they have personal experience or not, but they pass the test in my opinion.

– If you want a quick few words about this film in my opinion: it is raw.  It’s gritty.  It’s vulgar.  It’s heart-breaking.  (And I refuse to use the term “coming-of-age” but that’s what it is, too)

– Did I like this movie?  The jury is still out for me.  I gave it a 3 out of 5 stars on my official IIFF ballot.  I chalk this movie up to the likes of “Green Street Hooligans”.  It’s just a type of life I do not, and cannot appreciate fully because it is so totally foreign to me.  However, I don’t have to personally relate to every movie I see, so I’m not suggesting this is why I may have not liked this film.  I just am still processing what I saw.

I want to hear your opinions too!  There were about 30 people at the screening last night.  Surely one of you is reading this post!  Please leave a comment below or e-mail me at: katie@wwampodcast.com.

Thanks again to the Indianapolis International Film Fest for bringing these types of films to us in Indianapolis!

See you at the movies!

JC: Seriously, Netflix??

Posted: July 13, 2011 in J.C. Personal, On DVD

Seriously, 60% increase, Netflix?

As we consider cutting the cable and alternative entertainment options, we have considered a Roku box, Hulu+, Amazon, Sony, Microsoft and Redbox for new releases. Everyone wants their piece of my entertainment dollar. Some companies have fought to get it. Cinemas have lowered their ticket prices to $5 on weeknights and before noon, Redbox charges $1 for DVDs and $1.50 for Blu Rays. The companies that keep their prices low are the ones that I will turn to in these tougher times. A price hike of 60% will do exactly what they want it to. It will drive people to the streaming only option. I will keep Netflix for streaming only, but only until the quality goes down because of over utilization. Then I will seek other alternatives. I have been a huge Netflix proponent for years, but business practices that portray greed, rather than reflecting inflation make me reconsider. Why would I pay an extra $8 a month for a single DVD, with large gaps for mailing time. For that price, I can rent seven DVDs from the Redbox right around the corner. Sure, I have to take the DVD back the next day, but that just makes me watch it or not rent until I’m sure I can watch in a single night.

You have lost my DVD and Blu Ray business. I have a few ideas on what you can do with those extra DVDs and Blu Rays, but this is a family accessible site.

It just leaves me to wonder how you feel about your customers. I’m sure many will continue as is without anything more than cross muttering about how expensive things are “these days”. Others will make a change. Some may cancel their subscriptions completely. For now, I’ll use streaming. It’s convenient and it is already set up on all of my gaming systems and my phone, but I will not continue to use the service if we see another price hike.

My husband knows me so well — which is perfect, since we’re celebrating ten years of marriage this September. He knows what horror movies I can handle and which ones to avoid. Last night he suggested we watch “The Crazies” (2010) because he thought I’d like it. He was right.

First off I should say, I wouldn’t classify myself as a horror fan. It’s not the first genre I gravitate towards at the DVD store and I’ve only seen a handful in the theatre. My husband, however, is a horror nut. So it makes for interesting movie nights sometimes. He respects my choice not to watch — simply because I cannot handle some of the images.

This movie was originally released in 1973, directed by George Romero from “…of the Dead” fame. We watched the remake, released in 2010, directed by Brent Eisner (who also directed “Sahara”). It stars Timothy Olyphant and Radha Mitchell as the sheriff and doctor of a small town in Iowa. Now I will admit, as soon as I saw Timothy Olyphant, my fears were eased and I knew I was going to like it. I really like this actor. Yes, he’s very handsome, but I just really love the mystique around him. Is he crazy? Is he going to go crazy? And, will we see it? I recognized Radha Mitchell from “Man on Fire” and thought she did a great job.

This movie wastes no time getting to the action. We find out quickly that something is going on in this stereotypical small town where everyone knows everyone. I don’t want to get into spoilers, but basically, some sort of biological terror is unleashed upon the town’s people and the proverbial **** hits the fan in short order.

While I’m not a big horror fan, I have to say that I am intrigued by these kinds of stories. “Resident Evil” is my favorite video game franchise and I enjoy those movies. “The Stand” is my all-time favorite novel. What I find most interesting about these stories is the human element. How people change. How people adapt. How people survive. The power of the human spirit.
I recommend “The Crazies” 2010. It has a 6.6 out of 10 on IMDB, which I think is low – but maybe in comparison with the original it took a hit? What do you think?

I Had a Novel Idea

Posted: June 29, 2011 in On DVD, Reviews

(Originally posted on http://www.nerdist.com on September 15, 2010)

I took a week off from forking over my cash to the theater partially in protest of the extra cost for seeing Resident Evil in 3D. I’m not going to pay the extra and they weren’t showing it in 2D. While looking at options for a post, I heard the news about the adaptation of The Dark Towerseries by Stephen King into several films and a television series. Roland will walk somewhere other than my mind’s eye (*girlish squeal and happy dance*). That being said, I wanted to talk about my favorite film adaptations from novels, skipping graphic novels, video games and all other adaptations. I also want to hear from you on your favorite adaptations (no restrictions on you).

I’ll be honest; I’m probably going to be all over the place on this, as my mind is already on my vacation next week celebrating nine years of marriage to a wonderful woman.

Now, on to the show. In no particular order are some of my favorite adaptations from novel to film.

Fight Club – Chuck Palahniuk’s diatribe against consumerism, masculinity and the status-quo blew my mind. I didn’t realize that it was okay to write like that. I had always believed conventional, linear narrative was the only way to sell books, but, a few years out of high school; that all changed. Three years later, the same story rocked my movie-going world as well, propelling David Fincher from former video director who nailed it with Se7en, to a filmmaker that I must watch.

It wasn’t long after I saw Fight Club that a friend loaned me a book by an author unfamiliar to me. The author’s name – Bret Easton Ellis; the novel and film – American Psycho. Ellis gave us the journey of an investment banker’s descent into madness. If I thought Fight Club was non-linier, the random thoughts of Ellis’ Patrick Bateman allowed me to consider experiencing the world from any number of skewed viewpoints. This was the first film where I remember Christian Bale, taking specific note of his ability to portray someone who is passionate about some things yet unfeeling toward people. I was most fascinated by the fact that this film was directed by a female director since so many women spoke out against the source material and the way it treats violence toward women.

In all fairness, I had to read this for film class. Susan Orlean’s The Orchid Thief. This novel was adapted into the film Adaptation, directed by Spike Jonze. I enjoyed The Orchid Thief much more that I expected I would. It is a well written story about her experiences with John Laroche. I love the meta aspect of the film. The film is about Charlie Kaufman’s struggle to adapt the novel into the film that is going on. If that doesn’t make sense, that’s okay. You’ll understand if you have seen another Spike Jonze film Being John Malkovich.

An adaptation where I didn’t enjoy the source, but love the film is Boileau-Narcejac’s D’entre les morts which translates as The Living and the Dead. You know the film as Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo. Vertigo is Hitchcock’s masterpiece is about a retired police detective who suffers from a terrible fear of heights (just like me). James Stewart before he was a punch-line and Kim Novak share better chemistry that most couples that pair on screen these days. I don’t want to talk too much about this one, in the case that someone has not seen it. It may not play well for the ADD enhanced, but this is one of the great ones in my book (still unsure if I intended that pun or not).

I know… where is the LOTR trilogy, how about Schindler’s List, Jaws, or The Exorcist, Mr. Horror-fan? LOTR was an important film, based solely on the scale of the production, so it deserves mention. I never read the source novel for Schindler’s List or Jaws. The Exorcist is still the only book that has frightened me, so while I love the film, the book holds a special place in my heart.

Hopefully, one day, a list like this will include The Gunslinger.

What are your favorite adaptations?