Sunday, February 28, 2010

Hard Candy Review (2005)

Hard Candy

Yes, before Juno, before Whip It, before she was really popular, Ellen Page starred in this little indie gem from 2005. It is directed by David Slade, who may not have made a very big paycheck off this film, but is sure to in the soon future. He also directed the hit vampire film 30 Days of Night, and is currently set to direct the 3rd Twilight film. It's so sad when an excellent director switches to the dark side. However, this is a very different Ellen Page then the one you have come to know and love. She is not your smart, sassy teen, but rather strong a brutal. And has a very short hair-cut.

While many have called for the reform of the MPAA's rating system for film, many say that Hard Candy is a perfect example why. While the MPAA currently rates film based on their content, such as language and violence, people question about film that have little bad content, but mature subject matter. Enter Hard Candy, a film that does have some strong language, and a little gore, but is much heavier-handed in political tones involving criminal penalty and molestation. Should films be rated based on context, or convention, or a combanation of both? Or should film go without rating, as to not ruin their artistic creativity, as some have also suggested.

Hard Candy is a very difficult film to process. And not an easy one to watch. Not because of graphic violence or anything of that sort, but because of it's story. It involves a young girl named Haley, who meets a man named Jeff over an internet chatroom. The two of them decide to meet, and as it turns out, Haley is 14, and Jeff is 32. They go back to his place, where we find out that he is a photographer, his home doubles as his studio, and he his brought back, and photographed many girls the same age as Haley. I think you get where the story goes from there. But, Haley is a lot more resiliant than she looks, and may even be more deviant and evil than Jeff.

While much controversy will be stirred in the audience over to subject matter, this is where Hard Candy really sticks out. It creates such a dynamic conflict in the viewer. Do we root for the young girl, to hold her own, or do we root for the pedophile, who is being very physically mutilated by his would-be victim. I think this is one of Ellen Page's strongerst performances. Much stronger than her showing in Whip It, and about on par with Juno. Also here we have
Patrick Wilson, who plays Jeff. He does a fairly decent job, and has to go through a very wide range of emotions very quickly, often switching over and over again per scene. Also, Sandra Oh shows up very, very briefly, but does play a very nice supporting role, in an otherwise small cast, consisting of a total five characters in the credits.

Another place that the film works very well in is the direction. David Slade does a very good job with pacing and style, creating a subperb tension, and unease between this two characters. You never really know which way it is going to go, and it works very well. The film also has a great visiual style and flow that it uses. The red walls that you see in the picture above, are sometimes the only major color on the screen, while everything else has been bleached out. Credit is also due to Brian Nelson, who wrote such an awesome screenplay, and kept things very equal between the characters, and dared to do something not many other people would have. Not to mention the amazing ending.

One of the few major flaws that comes with Hard Candy is the fact, that at it's core, it is basically a torture film. Granted less so than most others, this young girl does capture, taunt, tease, violate, and mutilate this man, much to her sick amusement. It doesn't help that the film also has a scene, that will have men crossing their legs, in fear for their family jewels. Hard Candy acts like it is a step above the other torture films, which it is, but that does not completely clear it of it's true face.

As a whole, Hard Candy is a very solid picture. It has a very interesting story, and payoff that will split the audience members in a half, and definatly create a stir with the group you are seeing it with. The actors all perform rather well, especially Ellen Page, who gave a solid performance for an incredibly hard role, at a relativly young age. David Slade directs well, keep the tension between these two evils at an equal, and also has a nice visual flair. It is however a torture movie, granted a very smart, and good torture movie, but still a torture movie nontheless.

I Give Hard Candy:
Four Zombi's out of Five.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Why So Many Romero Zombie Films?

Since I was to lazy to post an actual review this week, I've decided to give you something else. Seeing as there are so many un-official sequels, prequels, remakes and spin-offs of Romero's classic zombie tale, I'm going to sort them. Sound Good?

Night Of The Living Dead/Dawn Of The Dead/Day Of The Dead/Land Of The Dead/
Diary Of The Dead/ Survival Of The Dead

The Return Of The Living Dead/Return Of The Living Dead Part II/
Return Of The Living Dead 3/Return Of The Living Dead 4/ Return Of The Living Dead 5/
Remake/3D Remake/Children Of The Living Dead/Flesheater/Escape Of The Living Dead/
Flight Of The Living Dead

Zombi or Zombi 2/Zombi 3/Zombi 4/Zombi 5/Zombi 6/Remake

Day Of The Dead 2: Contagium/Day Of The Dead 3(in pre-production)/Remake

And there you have it. I just wasted your time giving you something you could have easily found on the internet! Happy Birthday!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Cloverfield Review (2008)


One of the most secretive films of recent times, Cloverfield, didn't have an official title, until about two months before realese, and was only known my it's realese date, 1-18-08. The film became famous for that date as well, breaking January box-office records, which it still holds. Much of it still remains a mystery, as we get no real answers throughout the movie, if you want answers, you'd have to sift through dozens of websites, created for an intense, and very smart marketing campaign.

The idea for Cloverfield, was created by the leading sci-fi writer of the decade, J.J. Abrams, creator of Alias, Lost, Fringe, and the remake of Star Trek. He was on a trip to Japan, when he looked inside a toy-store, to find one of the most popular items was still Godzilla merchendise, he decided it was time for America to have its own monster, and thus, Cloverfield was born. Abrams should get some credit for this film, but not all, he created the idea, but did not write or direct, only produced. Matt Reeves should get some attention, for directing one of the hardest genres, the shaky-cam.

Cloverfield has an impossible backstory, which I will not attempt to explain here, as the average movie-goer would not go to the lengths I did to find the answers, I will give you the story the film does. Rob is getting a new job in Japan, as VP of a drink company called Slusho, a group of friends decides to throw a surprise party, and record his last night stateside. But, a horrible accident occurs as something emerges from the Harbor, and begins stomping around Manhattan. We get very little invitation, as the film is done completly through a hand-held camera. We get the same amount of information we would, if we were really on the streets, one of the reasons some people hated it, but one of the key reasons, I enjoyed it.

Now, Cloverfield is not the type of film to win any major awards, but it is very fun. It's not a film that's just plain bad and fun, (Transformers), it's actually decent. Matt Reeves does an excellent job of directing mostly improv lines, and making the film seem real. A key player, and major credit need to go to Kevin Stitt. His name is barley attached to this film, but he made it what it truly is. As the editor, he makes every transition, and cut seem fluid and effortless, which would be very difficult with the film type he has to mash together. The visual effects are pretty nice as well. The film is short, lasting only about 1 hr. 15 mins. but we do get a few very nice shots of the secretive monster, buildings being destoryed, cars crashing, and the Statue Of Liberties head crashing to the ground.

Surprisingly, these are decent performances. My favorite character was Hudson, or Hud, as he is mostly called, he plays the cameraman, and gives excellent comentary throughout the film, and adds a bit of light comedy to a mostly dark movie. Here is one of my favorite lines:
Rob: Hud, will you just shut up for five seconds!
Hud: Sorry, I have to talk about something, or I'm literally gonna shit my pants in the stairwell!
The only problem with the acting, is it has very little matter, as the objective that is driving them to get through the city (and not to a safe zone) is rather stupid. But, all these actors and actresses are very good, performing in mostly improv roles, particularly T.J. Miller, as Hud, and Lizzy Caplan as Marlena.

Overall, Cloverfield is a fun, monster-movie experience for the modern age. It's isn't particulary scary, but definatly has some thrilling moments. The effects are pulled off nicely, for having to add them into constantly shaking footage, the editor and director definatly deserve more attention than they get, and the performances are done rather nicely. The only problem for the film, is it's near lack of story (which can be done well), but not really here, though I respect the creators for truly trying to make it as real as possible. If you can't tell, I thoroughly enjoyed Cloverfield, and own it on DVD.

I Give Cloverfield:
4 Zombi's out of 5.