Friday, January 15, 2016

David Bowie

It’s hard to find words for the monumental loss the world has experienced with the passing of David Bowie. I never get emotional about celebrity deaths, but this is different. I still can’t believe how this even happened; he was supposed to live forever. I keep hoping that it’s all a ruse. Perhaps he faked his death like in VELVET GOLDMINE. I just don’t want to accept it to be true. There has never been an artist like Bowie and there will never be another. He changed the shape of music and influenced so many. People say these things all the time when a celebrity dies, but in this case it couldn't be more true. Growing up in the 1980s, Bowie’s music was so prominent. His videos were everywhere. His songs were infectious and I was completely mesmerized by his clothes. As I got older I came to understand all the personas of this beautiful alien. I’ve been thinking of just how much he’s been a part of my life. I cannot recall a time before Bowie, and I really don’t want to consider a time after Bowie. I thought I’d share some of my favorite Bowie moments.

I certainly love his performances as Warhol in BASQUIAT and as Pontius Pilate in THE LAST TEMPTATION OF CHRIST. He's great in LABYRINTH and THE HUNGER. However, my favorite Bowie acting performance is as Agent Phillip Jeffries in FIRE WALK WITH ME. Even the details surrounding his character were such a vague mystery. Jeffries disappears for two years and then suddenly appears in the Philadelphia FBI offices spouting bizarre ramblings about the inhabitants of the Black Lodge. Then just as quickly as he appeared, he’s gone again. This performance in FIRE WALK WITH ME added a charm to David Lynch’s saga we never knew we needed. “He was here, but where did he go?”



I used to say many years ago that I wanted “Under Pressure” to be played at my funeral
. I always imagined a grandiose montage of people looking very somber as the coffin is lowered down right at the climax of the song. The thought never occurred to me that David Bowie’s funeral would come before my own. I now imagine Bowie and Freddy Mercury singing this song together someplace far, far way.



Speaking of interesting duets, remember the Mick Jagger collaboration? “Dancing in the Street” was initially intended to raise funds for Live Aid. It was very successful at the time, but has since become a bit of a joke probably due to the outrageous music video. Regardless, I absolutely love it. Yes the video is incredibly ridiculous and self-indulgent, but so were the entire 1980s. The pair raised even more questions about the relationship between Bowie & Jagger. I love how they were always so coy about it. Maybe it was the coke, but I really enjoyed this fun and lively side of Bowie.



ALMOST FAMOUS is in my top 5 all-time films. David Bowie was originally intended to have a role in the films as a publicist. However, the role was cut from the final script. He still makes a sort of cameo (he's also on the soundtrack) during the Cleveland scene at Swingo’s Hotel. You’ll also recognize comedian Nick Swardson as the rabid fan who freaks out at a mere glimpse of him. It’s great to see the Bowie fandom portrayed in the 1970s.



I absolutely HATE Christmas music with a fiery passion. Anyone who’s ever had to work retail during the holidays knows that Christmas music becomes the bane of your existence. I still cringe at the thought of hearing “Last Christmas” by Wham! or Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas Is You.” On the other hand, I don’t mind Bowie’s duet with Bing Crosby – “Little Drummer Boy.” Bowie did the duet on Bing Crosby’s 1977 holiday special. He allegedly only made the appearance to appease his mother who was a big fan of Crosby. No matter what, it’s still a beautiful rendition of a shitty song.



I always wondered if Bowie would write his own memoirs. It seems like everyone is getting around to it these days (Keith Richards, Elvis Costello, Patti Smith). There are countless unauthorized Bowie biographies out there. I’ve read a few. I even read Angie Bowie’s autobiography many years ago. I would certainly take anything an embittered ex-wife says with a grain of salt. The book ended up being the basis of what became of the film VELVET GOLDMINE. I love this film even if it’s incredibly exaggerated. It paints an exciting portrait of the legend.



My all-time favorite Bowie song is “Golden Years.” According to Angie Bowie, David called her from tour and played the song over the phone for. I’m not sure how accurate that account is, but it sure adds some context to the lyrics. Initially, the song was written for Elvis Presley, but he rejected it. What a huge mistake. Bowie's performance on Soul Train is so iconic. As one of the first white artists on the show, he was allegedly so nervous about the appearance that he got incredibly drunk yet never skips a beat. Bowie’s soul era is definitely one of my favorite time periods in his catalog. He just brought so much panache and grandeur to the genre.



One of my favorite film montages (besides ROCKY IV) is from INGLOROUS BASTERDS. At the beginning of Chapter 5, we see Shosanna preparing herself for the film premiere of NATION’S PRIDE as David Bowie’s “Cat People (Putting Out Fire)” plays. When I saw this for the first time in the theater, it just sent chills up my spine. It’s probably one of my favorite scenes in film history. It’s just so brilliant and fateful at the same time. It’s just perfect.



Obviously we won’t be reading his memoirs now. It’s just as well, we should honor the mystery. After all, a magician should never reveal his secrets. I know I’m not saying anything that hasn’t already been said. It’s just so heartbreaking to think about. David Bowie created a safe and exquisite place for people who were different. He made it cool to be yourself. He taught us that instead of being ordinary, you could be extraordinary. We are extremely fortunate to have been given one last album as a goodbye letter from an phenomenal being. David Bowie will be remembered for so many things from an amazing musician, fashion icon, actor, animal lover, and all around performer. Let’s also remember that while we mourn a hero, someone else is mourning a husband and father. Goodbye sweet prince; the world feels a lot less magical now.


Monday, January 11, 2016

Most Anticipated Films of 2016

There’s so many great films coming out in 2016, it was really difficult to choose just ten. Like many of you I’m looking forward to watching THE LOBSTER, THE OTHER SIDE OF THE WIND, and TRUE CRIMES. I really have no interest in most of the never-ending sequels to any modernly successful big studio film coming out this year. However, I am excited to see a couple superhero films like X-MEN: APOCALYPSE and CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR. Without further ado, here are my Top Ten Most Anticipated Films of 2016:

10. THE SECRET LIFE OF PETS

“Taking place in a Manhattan apartment building, Max's life as a favorite pet is turned upside down, when his owner brings home a sloppy mongrel named Duke. They have to put their quarrels behind when they find out that an adorable white bunny named Snowball is building an army of abandoned pets determined to take revenge on all happy-owned pets and their owners.”

I’m a total sucker for movies centered around dogs, especially if there’s a pug. This film actually looks enjoyable and I even caught Ross chuckle a bit during the trailer. It’s made by the people who created DESPICABLE ME/MINIONS. I can’t say I’ve seen anything in that franchise, but with voice acting by Steve Coogan and Louis C.K. there’s a big chance for potential. Sometimes you have to watch silly movies.




9. KNIGHTS OF CUP/VOYAGE OF TIME/UNTITLED

“A screenwriter living in LA tries to make sense of the strange events occurring around him.”
“An examination of the birth and death of the known universe.”
“Two intersecting love triangles. Obsession and betrayal set against the music scene in Austin, Texas.”
Terence Malick was really cooking after THE TREE OF LIFE; he had several films in pre-production immediately following the release. He quietly put out TO THE WONDER which was received with lukewarm reviews. I personally felt like it was a lengthy, big production fragrance add starring Ben Affleck and Olga Kurylenko. It certainly lacked the substance that comes with all of Malick’s previous films. However, I am incredibly hopeful for his upcoming releases which are (so far) slated for 2016. It seems like VOYAGE OF TIME is an extension of the first half of THE TREE OF LIFE. You either loved or hated the whole chapter on the big bang theory in THE TREE OF LIFE. I felt like it created a beautiful precedent for his most personal film yet. I’m excited to see how he applies his stunning visual expression to the universe. Ryan Gosling (Hey Girl) stated that there was no script used while filming the untitled project. It was also filmed back to back with KNIGHTS OF CUP here in Austin. It will be interesting to see how our famed music scene is portrayed. Basically, I’m excited to see anything from Terence Malick. At this point, he’s on a roll compared to when he was releasing only one film every decade.



8. THE WITCH

“A family in 1630s New England is torn apart by the forces of witchcraft, black magic and possession.”

I’ll be honest; I’ve been thoroughly disappointed with current horror films. Even much lauded films like GOODNIGHT MOMMY and IT FOLLOWS fell very short for me. I feel like there’s no creativity or fervor put into recent horror films which really breaks my heart since this is my absolute favorite film genre. I’ve always been fascinated by the whole witch hysteria and this is certainly a refreshing topic to tackle. Writer/director Robert Eggers has worked on several short films, but this appears to be his first feature film. THE WITCH did well at Sundance and has received positive reviews from notable sources. It's actually rated R which is a big relief. Nothing pisses me off more than a horror film that's rated PG/PG-13. Could this mean redemption for American horror? Let’s keep our fingers crossed.



7. THE NICE GUYS
“A private eye investigates the apparent suicide of a fading porn star in 1970s Los Angeles and uncovers a conspiracy.”

Director Shane Black has had great success with screenwriting, but he’s probably most know for directing IRON MAN 3 which I enjoyed most out of the trilogy. He also wrote my favorite adolescent film, MONSTER SQUAD. The film has a pretty diverse cast staring Hey Girl, Russell Crowe, and Kim Basinger. From watching the trailer, I get a PTA - INHERENT VICE (which I loved) vibe from it. It also seems like Russell Crowe is revising his beloved character from LA CONFIDENTIAL (also starring Kim Basinger). This film looks fun, witty, and entertaining. Let’s hope it is.




6. HAIL, CEASAR!


“A Hollywood fixer in the 1950s works to keep the studio's stars in line.”
The Coen brothers never disappoint. Even their less favorable films like BURN AFTER READING and A SERIOUS MAN are still amusing and well made. They have singlehandedly perfected the fumbled crime plot. The cast of HAIL CEASAR consists of frequent Coen players like Clooney, Tilda Swinton, Josh Brolin, and Frances McDormand. As long as the Coens continue to put out smart, whimsical scripts, I will continue to eat it up.



5. NEON DEMON

“When aspiring model Jesse moves to Los Angeles, her youth and vitality are devoured by a group of beauty-obsessed women who will take any means necessary to get what she has.”
Nicolas Winding Refn is one of my favorite newer film directors. He makes such striking films that rely heavily on mood and atmosphere. He also chooses strong actors who can make his scripts come alive. Refn’s last film, ONLY GOD FORGIVES was one of my favorite films of 2013. It was incredibly startling with gorgeous colors and very little dialogue. This was definitely one of Hey Girl’s finest roles yet. I get a feeling that NEON DEMON is a throwback to classic 1980s Brian De Palma. I would love to see the 1980s steamy thriller genre come back.



4. SALT AND FIRE

“A scientist blames the head of a large company to cause an ecological disaster in South America. But when a volcano begins to present eruption signs, they must unite to avoid a disaster, despite their ideological differences.”
There are so many things I love about this film and it’s not even out yet. I love ALL of Werner Herzog’s films and documentaries. I especially love Gael Garcia Bernal and Michael Shannon. Herzog is no stranger to environmental catastrophes and anomalies. Just look what he did with LESSONS OF DARKNESS. I love that Herzog always plays by his own rules. His films are direct and to the point with striking visuals. It will be interesting to see how he applies his uncommon style to a volcano disaster film.




3. THE LIGHT BETWEEN OCEANS


“A lighthouse keeper and his wife living off the coast of Western Australia raise a baby they rescue from an adrift rowboat.”
Derek Cianfrance is an incredibly talented director who really captures the vulnerability of his characters. His last film THE PLACE BEYOND THE PINES was my favorite film of 2012. Before that he made BLUE VALENTINE which was an eloquent examination of a romantic relationship from start to finish. His films are sensitive and emotional. The film is based on a novel by M.L. Stedman. I’m really interested to see the chemistry between Michael Fassbender and Alicia Vikander who subsequently became a couple during filming. I’m also interested to see how he utilizes the gorgeous backdrop of New Zealand. I look forward to many more films from Cianfrance.



2. MIDNIGHT SPECIAL

“A father and son go on the run after the dad learns his child possesses special powers.”
Jeff Nichols makes gritty, impassioned films mostly set in the South. MIDNIGHT SPECIAL will be his first foray into the sci-fi realm. As with many Jeff Nichols films, Michael Shannon will star. This relationship is shaping up to be the new Scorsese/DiCaprio duo and I really like it. Michael Shannon is certainly one of the most underrated actors around and Jeff Nichols’ film are always well received. Nichols is going to do big things and I think MIDNIGHT SPECIAL will bring him the attention he deserves.



1. EVERYBODY WANTS SOME

“A group of college baseball players navigate their way through the freedoms and responsibilities of unsupervised adulthood.”
Initially, this film was touted as a sequel to DAZED AND CONFUSED. It follows the same timeline, but not the same characters for obvious reasons. (Batfleck may have been a little too busy to reprise his O’Bannion role.) As someone who grew up in the 80s, I have such an affinity for anything set in that time period. Just ask Ross how much I laughed out loud in the theater during HOT TUB TIME MACHINE. Nobody does nostalgia like Linklater. He’s perfected and applied the concept to nearly all his films. I love that he cast all unknown actors and I can’t wait to see what the soundtrack is like. Linklater utilizes music like Cameron Crowe, and it really brings the scenes together. It’s also exciting to see how Austin in the 1980s will be portrayed. Linklater always goes back and forth between making serious dramas to fun comedies and he’s relatively successful with both genres. DAZED AND CONFUSED is such an iconic and cult film for my generation. I think it definitely ushered in that whole 70s revival we saw in the 1990s. Perhaps EVERYBODY WANTS SOME will do the same for this generation. Either way, I can’t wait to see it.



Please note all synopsizes are courtesy of IMDb.com.

There it is friends, my most anticipated films for 2016. I hope everyone is having a great start to the New Year and I look forward to hearing what else is out there to watch. What are you looking forward to seeing in 2016?

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Favorite Films of 2015

2015 may not have been the best year for film, but then again critics decry every year as “the worst year for film.” Make no mistake, I did come across some real stinkers in 2015, but I did see some refreshing films that I’d like to share. My goal for next year is to be more optimistic about cinema, and less cynical. Like everyone else, I thoroughly enjoyed MAD MAX: FURY ROAD. I also saw some really great documentaries this year like LAST DAYS IN VIETNAM, RED ARMY, and CITIZENFOUR. Then I saw a couple films (on an airplane) I would never watch otherwise (INSIDE OUT and JURASSIC WORLD) that I found benign and overambitious. A few films were fun and frivolous like STRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON, KRAMPUS, and ANT-MAN but were ultimately entertaining nonetheless. Out of the 70+ new releases I watched this year, here are my favorite:

6. WHITE BIRD IN A BLIZZARD


To be perfectly honest, I love just about anything Gregg Araki does. He has a truly unique style of storytelling. The film which received mediocre reviews is based on a novel by Laura Kasischke of the same name. In typical Araki fashion, he altered the story a bit and added his own touches to the script. I really enjoyed the performances of Eva Green and Christopher Meloni. I couldn’t stop thinking about the dynamics of their troubled relationship long after the film ended. The soundtrack is awesome and there’s a great cameo by Sheryl Lee aka Laura Palmer.



5. THE WOLF PACK

First off, I know there’s a lot of discussion about whether or not the story about the Angulo Brothers being locked away in a Manhattan apartment their whole life is real. There’s also a lot of discrepancies about how the director found the brothers. I don’t care about those things; this is a remarkable story regardless. I’m sure the isolation angle of the film is embellished, but there’s no doubt these young men suffered some kind of psychological trauma as the result of their incredulous, and protective father. The fact that they managed to adjust relatively well to “normal” society is also astounding. To me the real message in this documentary is how cinema can shape and influence a person’s life. Film has definitely affected my life and many around me. I’m impressed that these incredible young men are so passionate about film that they used it to overcome the extreme obstacles they suffered at home. Your home should always be a safe place, but film can be the escape you need.



4. WHITE GOD

As an avid (obsessive) dog lover, this film appealed to me upon initial announcement. WHITE GOD is the story of a young girl desperately trying to find the beloved dog her father made her give up. There are two gut-wrenching stories here: the story of Lili and her strained relationship with her father, then there’s the story of Hagen (the dog) trying to survive the relentless streets of Budapest. It’s an interesting look at the relationship between man and beast. Be prepared for an emotional rollercoaster with this film. I'm getting misty just thinking about it. At least all the dogs in the film were rescued from shelters and adopted out, so that’s some comfort.



3. CRIMSON PEAK

CRIMSON PEAK might be the most visually stunning film I’ve seen all year. Guillermo del Toro makes film the way an artist paints a portrait. He creates these striking backdrops to accompany an unimaginable story. CRIMSON PEAK is a perfectly crafted gothic romance story with ghosts. It’s also a beautiful tribute to classic films by Italian director, Mario Bava. I think the problem with the lackluster response to CRIMSON PEAK is that it crossed so many genres that people just couldn’t get it. Del Toro doesn’t just make films, he creates worlds, worlds that I want to live in.



2. THE HATEFUL EIGHT

Quentin Tarantino is one of the few current filmmakers who create art. He makes films with an ardency that not everyone is going to like. I think one of the major issues with the current state of cinema is that filmmakers want to appeal to the masses. When you generate such a broad appeal, you tend to lose any distinctiveness. Everything becomes watered down dribble that is often forgotten in a couple months. This film isn’t for everyone, and it’s not supposed to be. HATEFUL EIGHT is certainly Tarantino’s most ambitious film and probably the most expensive he’s made. I think he definitely delivered a fantastic film with a script that speaks for itself. This film certainly showcases his talents as a writer with his signature sharp dialog and nihilistic tones. The film is staged like a play with several acts, overture, and intermission. This is truly an ensemble cast of remarkable actors. Even Channing Tatum’s character was convincing. I know people considered the gore to be over the top, but QT is an over the top guy. However, I never feel like it’s gratuitous. Tarantino said the inspiration for this film was RESEVOIR DOGS and THE THING and I definitely thinks he captured the essence of both amazing films. The use of 70mm film is simply the icing on the big beautiful, bloody cake.



1. WILD TALES

WILD TALES is a film from Argentina comprised of six different short stories about various individuals experiencing the worst day of their life. As some of you know, comedy is my least favorite film genre, but WILD TALES is certainly one of the funniest films I’ve seen in a long time and definitely my favorite film of the year. I laughed so hard, I was nearly in tears. It’s an unconventional film that builds sardonic candor around everyday situations. I can’t tell you how much I love the satirical tones set in this film. It’s definitely one of the best dark comedies I’ve ever seen, and I look forward to more films from director, Damian Szifron.




There it is folks, my favorite films of 2015. What were your favorites? I look forward to watching many more films in the coming year. Stay tuned for my Most Anticipated Films of 2016. Happy New Year friends!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Disneyland



I know it’s been a while since my last post, but life took over and left me no time for blogging. I promise to get back to my regularly scheduled film reviews. In the midst of my hectic schedule, I took a vacation to Disneyland. This was a very special vacation since it marked my first ever trip to Disneyland. I wore my “1ST Visit” button like a badge of honor. Having never been to Disneyland before, my expectations were pretty high. All my expectations were met with a magic I could never imagine. There’s a reason why it’s called the “happiest place on Earth.” It truly is. Here’s a recap of our shenanigans.

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I can’t say I’m very knowledgeable about Disney movies or culture. To be perfectly honest, most Disney films scared the shit out of me as a kid. Take the LION KING or SLEEPING BEAUTY for example, there’s some seriously fucked up messages in those films. My point is that you don’t need to be an expert or superfan to enjoy the park. Anyone can have the best time of their lives riding Space Mountain or Big Thunder. Even the most soulless, hardened hearts can have fun in Disneyland (unless you have children then it could be the most miserable time ever). There’s even a special Goth Day for my brothers and sisters in darkness!

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It was absolutely breathtaking to see the whole park decorated for Halloween. If you know me, you know my love of the greatest holiday of the year. I was delighted to see the Haunted Mansion turned into the Nightmare Before Christmas ride. I’ve loved the film since I was a child and seeing all my favorite characters come to life was heartwarming. The gingerbread smell in the Haunted Mansion was so intoxicating. I could live there for the rest of my life and be totally happy. I just want to live off mint juleps and dole whips.

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Every ride is like a magical journey to another world. From Pirates of the Caribbean to the Indiana Jones ride. However, It’s a Small World is the most terrifying ride I have ever been on in my entire life. There is something truly sinister about the animatronic singing children with their blank stares and demonic smiles. Seriously, halfway through the ride I could feel the hair on my arms stand up. Small World is certainly the dark side of Disney that I knew always existed. Like the rest of us, Disney has its own secrets and I believe they lie within this ride.

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Even the food at Disneyland is awesome! From the pumpkin Mickey shaped beignets to the vegan burger at the Carnation Café, everything was delicious. I especially loved the vodka lemonades at the Cozy Cone Motel at California Adventure.
I have to say the highlight of my trip was the Mad T Party at California Adventure. The Mad T Party is like an absurd 90s rave with Alice In Wonderland characters. There’s a really cheesy cover band that play songs by Save Ferris and Journey, but I guarantee you after a few drinks you’ll be dancing & singing along. Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum are weird hype bros that look like they stepped out of a 90s ska video. Every element of this scenario make for an incredible time!

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I must say I really had the best time ever at Disneyland. Watching those fireworks light up the sky filled me with so much joy and happiness. There’s a magic behind those gates that you can’t experience anywhere else and I cannot wait to go back. Special thanks to the Ryans for being the best Disney Ambassadors anyone could ask for. And thanks for not letting me get lost or go to Disney jail for stealing a Rascal scooter or scaling the Radiator Springs ride. You guys are the best!

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Tuesday, September 2, 2014

The Adventures of Zelda Pug and Peach

The Adventures of Zelda: Pug and Peach (Zelda, #3)The Adventures of Zelda: Pug and Peach by Kristen Otte

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Like most pet parents I have often wondered what my dogs' internal monologues are like. Kristen Otte captures this sentiment perfectly. It's a real treat to be a part of this spunky little pug's adventures. In volume three we get to know Zelda's new sister Peach who is just as spirited. Together the furry duo wage a crusade against the neighborhood squirrels and "help out" the smaller humans with an Easter egg hunt. They even have a harrowing encounter with the Easter bunny. Find out what it's like for a dog to navigate a "polar vortex." This book is incredibly endearing and suitable for people/dogs of all ages. I guarantee you'll have a smile on your face while reading it!



View all my reviews

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Lucy

I was not the least surprised that LUCY made $44M & became no. 1 at the box office this past weekend. I was surprised to see a glowing review by a fellow female writer. Did we watch the same film? I approached the film with a bit of caution. Director, Luc Besson is best known for his masterpiece THE PROFESSIONAL & THE FIFTH ELEMENT, but in recent years he has released some lackluster films (THE TRANSPORTER series). I really wanted to like LUCY, but I just couldn’t. It's basically a few poorly done MATRIX shots wrapped up in a black Versace dress.



Most complaints lie with the seriously flawed plot. That aspect didn’t bother me as much since I did not plan on watching a documentary going in to LUCY. I do not watch films to critique the scientific accuracies. Cinema is a form of art. You cannot expect an artist to logically explain a piece, so why do it with film? This was a major issue with the film GRAVITY as well. The genre of science fiction exists because it is just that…fiction. Moving past the plot, the bigger flaws lie within the script. This film is riddled with bad acting and even worse writing. Do all actions films lack dept? The film tries desperately to be ever so thought provoking, but falls very flat. It's as if someone who skimmed the Cliff's Notes explaining Jean Paul Sarte philosophies.



The main point of the article I read is to prove that women can carry a successful film. I certainly support this notion, but this is not the film to demonstrate that idea. I agree we need more female driven films in strong roles. We need women taking on bigger roles outside of the cheesy romantic comedy. I certainly hope this turd doesn’t lead to a Black Widow film like everyone anticipates. When will people realize ScarJo is not a great actress? The Black Widow character could be really great, but ScarJo’s uninspired acting takes her in a very one dimensional direction.



The solution to this predicament is to start with better writers. It’s no secret that the film industry is a man’s world. The industry is saturated with male producers, directors, and writers. Many of whom are not capable of writing a well developed female character. Lars Von Trier has built a career on extremely complex female characters. His leading ladies are far from the stereotypical manic-pixie-dream-girl. It’s easy for men to feel alienated and uncomfortable watching his films as a result. We’ve had amazing female characters throughout the years such as Ellen Ripley, Beatrix Kiddo, and Sarah Connor. However, in the last two decades the strong female character has drastically faded. Unfortunately, most women in recent action films only exist as eye candy. They have the typical tough exterior like a wild tiger that needs a little taming by Vin Diesel or Jason Stratham.



I’m sorry to say that LUCY is not going to revolutionize the film industry. It had a big start, and gradually descended into stupidity. I’m also sorry to say that Luc Besson pretty much peaked with THE PROFESSIONAL. How can a film about being the smartest person in existence be the dumbest film of the year? Don’t bother wasting your time.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Texas Frightmare Weekend 2014

A couple weeks ago we went to Dallas for Texas Frightmare Weekend which is an annual horror convention. This year was a ton of fun so let me share some highlights with you.

On the way to Dallas, we stopped in Waco to visit the Dr. Pepper Museum. The museum had a lot more exhibits than I expected. It was really cool to see the old bottling equipment. They even had dozens of old soda machines from a wide range of decades. I got a lot more insight on the process of making soda. There’s even an old timey soda fountain where you can indulge in as many Dr. Peppers as you wish. I had one!



This year’s guests were all incredible icons from some of my favorite horror films. George Romero was in attendance as the guest of honor with Tom Savini, David Emge, and Scott H. Reiniger of DAWN OF THE DEAD. We saw Linda Blair from THE EXORCIST and John Kassir aka The Crypt Keeper himself! I was more excited to see Doug Bradley, Barbie Wilde, and Nick Vince of HELLRAISER.





For as long as I can remember, Pinhead has been my favorite horror icon and getting to meet Doug Bradley was a dream come true. He was very nice and told me I have a lovely name. I wanted to buy his book, but unfortunately he was out. He did offer to mail me a copy when he got home. How stoked was I to get a package in the mail from Pinhead himself! Barbie Wilde was incredibly gracious as well. I’ve wanted to read her book for a while and was pleased to see it for sale at her booth. She was kind enough to sign it for me. The HELLRAISER panel was awesome. Everyone talked about how remakes are awful. When Nick Vince brought up the idea of a “reboot,” Bradley said that was a bullshit word. I completely agree. Most remakes are atrocious to begin with. A HELLRAISER remake is completely unnecessary since the story lives on in the comic books. In fact, a NIGHTBREED comic book is slated for release later this year. Clive Barker either writes or has creative control of all the series and I must say they are fantastic. We should always remember that Clive Barker is a writer first and foremost. His stories are best told in their original medium free of censorship and the Weinsteins.



My other favorite panel of the weekend was the one with Jason Baldwin of the West Memphis 3. This case was something that I followed for many years and felt very personal to me. To be able to sit in a room with Baldwin as he told his story was really emotional. His outlook really puts things into perspective. Most of us complain about asinine things like traffic or the wrong coffee order while this man spent nearly twenty years in prison for a crime he did not commit and he still has a positive attitude about life. I am just inspired by his courage. He mentioned that initially he was apprehensive of being a guest at a horror con simply because of the backlash that was received upon initial arrest. He has since embraced the community because he realized there is nothing wrong with liking horror movies or wearing black clothing. There’s nothing wrong with being different. There is something wrong with a justice system that will persecute an individual based on their outward appearance. Jason talked about life since incarceration. He continues to be an advocate for equal justice and prison reform. He and his wife have produced the upcoming film, DEVIL’S KNOT based on the events of the case. I certainly hope some good comes of this horrible tragedy.




Another fun panel was the TERMINATOR retrospective. This panel included Michael Biehn, Earl Boen, Jenette Goldstein, Linda Hamilton, Peter Kent, Kristanna Loken, and Robert Patrick. They talked about everything from nude scenes to extremely dangerous stunts. Peter Kent, Arnold’s longtime stunt double, did an amazing impression of Arnold. He seemed like he would be a lot more fun to hang out with than the real Arnold.



We saw a panel hosted by Dee Snider with Tom Savini, Bill Moseley, and Tom Morga. I was actually surprised to see how engaging and well spoken Dee Snider is. He talked a bit about STRANGELAND which was a terrible film. I guess he’s working on a sequel. Tom Savini is always entertaining to listen to. The man has a lifetime of stories to tell about his movie making experiences. Tom Morga was also really interesting as he’s done a lot of stunt work for things like FRIDAY THE 13th, HALLOWEEN, THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION, and JURASSIC PARK.



TX Frightmare Weekend always falls on Free Comic Book Day so I usually miss out on all the madness at my local comic book shop. This year I got lucky. Writer/artist Mike Norton of Battlepug fame was in Dallas signing books at Zeus Comics. Battlepug is my favorite comic book and it always brightens my Mondays when a new installment arrives. It was really cool to meet Mike and talk about pugs and beer. He was even kind enough to donate some prints for auction to the Pug Rescue of Austin. Of course I had to buy a print for myself.



Saturday evening we drove to downtown Dallas to explore Dealey Plaza where President Kennedy was assassinated. I would love to have visited the museum in the book depository building, but it closes early in the day. Nonetheless, it was very eerie wandering around the infamous grassy knoll at night. There are two “X”s in the middle of the road marking the spots where Kennedy and Governor Connelly were shot. As a kid, I was really engrossed in the Kennedy Assassination and history of the slain president. It was really fascinating to examine the scene of such a notable, historic event. The whole area virtually looks the same as it did in November of 1963. I definitely want to go back and visit the museum.





We had a really great time in Dallas. This is definitely one of my favorite conventions to frequent. It’s nice to see so many people who share the same interests as you do. Every guest I encountered was so cordial and grateful to all the fans that showed up. I look forward to next year’s event!