Monday, August 8, 2011

Ask Simon, The A$$hole Video Clerk

Ask Simon, the Asshole Video Clerk
By Simon St. James

So you always say everything is terrible. What are some good movies, in your bitter opinion? Thnxkbi
I refuse to answer your question, on the grounds that anyone who says “thnxkbi” makes me want to hire a musclebound female body guard and have her choke them. I’m blocking your email, so you can never write me back. Thanks. Ok? Good bye. HOW HARD IS THAT TO TYPE?!?
So I saw your countdown of shitty Matthew McConaughey movies. Why all the hate, dude? And is he your most hated actor? Situation2XL
As I have stated time and again, I do not “hate” McConaughey. I have never met the man. I suppose that in person he is probably very nice. And he seems like he would be fun to play the bongos with. But as for his movies – yes, I totally do hate his movies. But you do raise a fair question, Anonymous Question Asker, and the answer is no, he does not make my most-hated movies. Well who does? The answer can be found in the title of my forthcoming book of essays and reviews
Adam Sandler is the Worst Person Who Ever Lived

To be fair, this is a late addition to the book. The working title was I Don’t Care What Anybody Says, Lord of the Rings is Not that Great. Which I still like, but I think there’s a strong undercurrent of Sandler resentment on the internets, and this title will get me more hits.

You can’t possibly hate ALL movies. What are some movies you actually like? Connie L.
Same question as earlier, phrased in a way much less aggressive and stupid. So fine, if you really want to know. I watch a lot of foreign films, and independent films. The entire filmographies of Hayao Miyazaki, Francois Truffaunt, Ingar Bergman, and Federico Fellini are all amazing and must see for anyone who truly considers themselves a fan of film. Not movies, but FILM. Currently, Lars Von Trier is the best director currently working.
The last two great films I saw were Sofia Coppola’s haunting and beautiful Somewhere, and the intelligent and hilarious absurdist comedy Rubber.

Send me questions through my Facebook, or at Thnxkbi  

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Unappreciated Classics — Ravenous

Unappreciated Classics – Ravenous
By Nate Hensley

“It’s lonely being a cannibal. Tough making friends.” — Col. Hart

It takes some movies longer to catch on than others. Certain movies that don’t fit into a particular box, or genre, start developing a cult following immediately (like Fight Club and Big Lebowski) but other movies languish in obscurity for too long, waiting for properly appreciative audience to discover them.
One of these movies is called Ravenous.
When we first meet Guy Pearce, he is committing an act of unbridled cowardice that leaves him with a distaste for meat. (It’s really cool and gross and I don’t want to spoil it, but I do want to add that this is the only movie where the opening credits features the hero hurling vomit over the movie’s title) The military brass ship him off to a remote outpost in the Rocky mountains, where he can hide from his shameful actions. He finds the place staffed by a skeleton crew of weirdos serving under a man often times passed out drunk. It’s isolated and dull.
And then a traveler arrives. He is little more than skin and bones, dirty and half-mad with hunger. As he recovers, he tells the soldiers a brutal tale of a party caught in the mountains as the harsh winter befell them. They eat the horses, and then they start eating each other at the behest of a madman named Ives. The traveler is the lone survivor, and is still terrified of Ives. The soldiers force the man to lead them back to the scene of the crime. What they find there sends the movie spiraling out of control into a dark, intense, and surprisingly funny series of events that don’t turn out quite like the viewer expects.

“He was tough. But then, a good soldier should be.” — Ives

Ravenous is quirky. It veers wildly between the darkest of black comedy and the brutal intensity of a horror/thriller. It features an amazing cast (backing up Pearce are Jeffrey Jones, Jeremy Davis, David Arquette, Neal McDonough, and the always-amazing Robert Carlyle) and best of all it is refreshingly resistant to the conventions of plot and genre. This is a movie filled with lively, vibrant characters, great quotes, and moments that tide the line between horrifying and hilarious.
Lord knows why, but I do love me some cannibal movies. For some reason, the topic just lends itself beautifully to dark comedy (see also Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 and the cult classic Eating Raoul). However, it’s too simplistic to label Ravenous just a comedy. There are too many other elements at play. And what makes it a classic is how these elements all work together to keep it humorous without crossing the line into being a comedy.

“Morality. Last bastion of a coward.” Ives

One day – mark my words – one day Ravenous will be hailed as a classic. Just remember who hailed it properly, back before it was cool.

The Trailer Park — The Ides Of March

The Ides of March: Beware the heavy dialogue?
By Jamie, Queen of the Trailer Park
“Beware the Ides of March”-so says the Soothsayer in Shakespeare’s play Julius Caesar. Being somewhat less than proficient in Shakespeare, I Googled my heart out to find a more detailed explanation. I found, but sadly I’m not proficient in literature notes either. I finally found an explanation I could understand on
See, The Ides of March refers to March 15th. The ancient Roman calendar had names for the 1st , 7thand 15th days of every month (Kalends, Nones and Ides. In modern times, we call them Rent, Cable Bill and Utility Payment). Basically, the Soothsayer was warning Caesar that he would be killed that day. Apparently Caesar was too busy being a megalomaniac and perfecting his salad recipe and wearing togas to listen. Sure enough, Brutus shanks him on March 15th. Thus the balance of political power was toppled in ancient Rome.
The Ides of March, the 2011 movie, is also about the balance of power. It stars George Clooney as a slick (its Clooney, of course he’s slick) political candidate and Ryan Gosling as his idealistic, talented campaign man. Gosling is something of a political wunderkind, but seems to have maintained his moral compass. A miraculous feat, to be sure. Then, we see Marisa Tomei telling him that if his man wins the election, he’s got a guaranteed job in the White House. If not, he is banished back to a consulting position. So we’ve got a dilemma. How far will Gosling’s charater be willing to go to secure his future? Will he lose his moral high ground in the process?
Then we’ve got Paul Giamatti and Philip Seymour-Hoffman as rival politicians vying for a piece of Gosling’s talent and ultimately the vote. An underhanded competition, threats and lies are delivered left and right from this stellar supporting cast. Then, at the 1:57 mark, it seems that we’ve got a big change in the game.
This is the stuff that makes a movie trailer. This is what compelled me to watch the trailer twice. I can tell you, this is going to be dialogue-heavy; a “thinker” of a movie. A taught, dramatic film for adults. And that excites me but it also worries me. These movies tend to do less-than-stellar numbers at the box office because “thinkers” repel a large numbers of moviegoers. Because as we all know, American movie audiences are kind of dumb. No offence. Individually, there are discerning viewers who know that American Psycho is really a dark comedy and Michael Bay movies murder your soul. You, you folks are smart and might appreciate this movie.
But those of you who are foaming at the mouth to see Rise of the Planet of The Apes and the droves of people who spent $1 billion dollars seeing the third Transformers movie, The Ides of March is not a movie for you. And that’s OK. It might not be a movie for me either. I’m not claiming to be the sharpest knife in the drawer. I am, after all, the girl who had to Google til her thumbs hurt just to figure out the movie’s title.
The Ides of March opens October 7th. See the trailer here:

The Best Of Christian Bale

by Nate Hensley
Christian Bale is one of the best actors in the business, and has been for several years. He’s known for playing dark, brooding characters full of intensity. Recently, he won his first Academy Award, for Best Supporting Actor, for his searing performance in “The Fighter.”

It’s time to put the acting to the test — is this really Bale’s best performance? Or he continuing down the downward spiral he began with “Public Enemies” and “Terminator Salvation”?

Well, let’s organize things in list form and see how it goes…

The Top 5 Best Christian Bale Performances

5. “American Psycho” Bale is a faceless New York executive named Patrick Bateman. He is shallow, money-hungry, obsessed with status symbols… and is also a psychopathic serial killer. This is a movie that is sour dark and dour that most people don’t even realize its a comedy. But the reason it works so well is because of Bale’s performance. He never once breaks character,never once gives any indication that he is not acting in a serious drama. He plays it completely straight, which in turn is what
makes the movie clever.

4. “The Machinist” is a dark, brooding psychological thriller. Bale is a machinist who hasn’t slept in a year, and is quickly losing his grip on reality. The movie is well acted, and well directed by Nateflix fave Brad Anderson. But honestly, its far from Bale’s best overall movie. What puts it on this list is the dedication he showed to the craft of acting, the how far he was winning to go for the character. Bale lost over 60 pounds for the role, making him disturbingly gaunt and haggard. He looks literally like a dead man walking, and makes it very easy to believe he hasn’t slept in a year.

3. “Harsh Times” Bale has played a lot of characters in his career, but none of them as dull, thick, and thuggish as he is here as Jim Davis. A former Army Ranger, Jim is a dangerous man because of his skills as a soldier, and because of his intelligence — he is just stupid enough to be extremely dangerous. Them ovie follows Jim and his best friend as they kick around LA, getting into trouble and trying to get Jim a job with the LAPD.
Stark and grim, very dramatic yet punctuated with some side-splitting moments of humor, “Harsh Times” is a very underrated movie. And Bale shines playing a type of man he hasn’t played before.

2. “The Prestige” Directed by Christopher Nolan in between “Batman” movies, “Prestige” stars Bale and Hugh Jackman as rival stage magicians in turn of the century London. They begin as associates, until a tragic mistake pits them against each other. From then on, their careers are nothing but a series of one-ups, each man pulling out all the stops to be the top draw… and to sabotage the other and ruin his career and hopefully life as well.
“The Prestige” is one of my all-time favorite movies, for the intricate story and the plot twists that are nothing short of genius. It is because of these twists that I can’t expound specifically on WHY Bale is so good. That’s what makes his performance here so deceptively amazing — it isn’t until watching it the second time that you realize how profoundly good it is.

1. “The Fighter” Well what do you know, this movie really did top the list.
Mark Wahlberg stars as Mickey, a blue-collar palooka training to be a great fighter, and struggling to escape the shadow of his older brother Dickie (Bale), a good fighter who fell just short of making it big. Dickie has fallen on hard times, and is now a hard-drinking crackhead. Mickey is so dedicated to his extensive family that he still doesn’t want to work with anyone else. Begrudgingly, at the behest of his new girlfriend, Mickey takes new trainer and starts trying to rebuild his career. In prison, Dickie starts to clean up his act, and realizes he needs to put his family first.
“The Fighter” is a boxing movie, yes, but more than that its am ovie about family. Everything builds up to a Big Fight, as it always does in boxing movies, but the real crux of the movie is the relationship between the brothers. That isn’t to dismiss the remarkable acting work put into this film by actresses — Melissa Leo won a Supporting Actress statue for her work as Mickey and Dickie’s mother, and Amy Adams is excellent as Mickey’s girlfriend. But the story here, the essence of the film, is the story of these two brothers.
Wahlberg is terrific, as he can be whenever he applies himself. But Bale is the show-stealer here, making his supporting character unforgettable and threatening, at times, to just steal the whole movie. And part of what makes his performance so great is that he doesn’t steal the movie — he never tries to steal the spotlight from Wahlberg. Although he very easily could have.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

The 11 Scariest Movies Of The Last 11 Years (Part Two)

The 11 Scariest Movies of the Last 11 Years (part two)
For Part One, follow this link –

The Strangers (2008)
Director: Bryan Bertino
What’s scarier – knowing someone is outside your home trying to get you? Or not knowing that someone is already inside your house, watching you, waiting for a chance to do something horrible.The Strangers is a movie that succeeds by being quiet instead of loud, and by letting things happen in the periphery instead of leaping out into your face.
For me, the most insidiously scary movies are the ones that aren’t afraid to be vague. The more specific something is, the more fully illuminated it becomes, and thus the less scary it is. Case in point, Hannibal Lecter. Every movie told us more about Hannibal the Cannibal, and in each movie he got less and less scary. Evil is never so clearly defined (except in hindsight) and The Strangers knows this, and so while you are getting caught up in the WHAT of the movie, you are also trying to figure out the WHY.
Liv Tyler and Scott Speedman are going to a remote cabin for a romantic weekend. Once there, three mysterious masked figures start stalking them, teasing them, and hunting them. That’s it, that’s the whole movie in a nutshell. The puzzle is trying to figure out WHO these figures are, WHAT they want, WHY they picked these two victims, and WHERE on Earth did they find masks so creepy they make me want to pee my pants a little bit.

The Strangers shows that the power of a horror film is in the atmosphere more than the story. It’s a white-knuckler from start to finish, with some solid jumps, and a deeply disturbing undertone of how random evil can be.

Paranormal Activity (2009)
Director: Oren Peli
In horror movies, only one thing really matters – being scary. If a movie is scary enough, nothing else can stand in its way. No-name actors? No problem. A budget of fifteen bucks? No problem. Limited sets, bare-bones special effects, a nonexistent story – none of these things matter if the scares are good. Paranormal Activity is proof positive of what I’m saying.
In fact, if done properly, all of these so-called negatives can actually work in the film’s favor. So it went with Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Blair Witch Project, and so it goes here. In Paranormal, the absolutely lack of anything resembling a budget gives the film a realness that really cranks up the fear factor in the second half.
A couple lives together in a typical suburban castle. She has had some problems in the past, and those problems seem to be returning, in the form of unexplained noises, lights going on and off; you know, the whole haunted house trip. And yet something about this doesn’t seem typical. It doesn’t seem like just another haunted house movie. It seems like… god help me I know this is a movie but it seems like something bad is really stalking these people. The human element is so important in horror movies – its not enough to have a startling moment, to generate real fear there needs to be someone to care about, someone you don’t want to be claimed by a malevolent ghost.
Paranormal Activity is as simple and stripped-down a film as is on this list. That simplicity is what gives it power. Well that and the ending, which is flat-out creepy as hell.

Dylan Dog Dead Of Night... Well, It's Better Than Superman Returns, Anyway

The Nateflix Review of Dylan Dog Dead of Night
By Nate Hensley

First of all, let me just preface my review by saying I have no issue with Brandon Routh. I’m well aware that Superman Returns was not his fault. It was Bryan Singer’s fault, and I think we can all agree about that. Routh was just a hungry young actor jumping on the biggest film of his career, the fact the movie was a glass of warm milk is no reflection on him. Since, then, I’ve seen him in small roles in other movies (Unthinkable, Zack and Miri, Scott Pilgrim) and he’s always good. Sure, he’s a little generic, but that didn’t stop Sam Worthington, did it? Or Orlando Bloom?

So, to reiterate, I have no problem with Brandon Routh as an actor, or a human being.

That said, he is all wrong for Dylan Dog Dead of Night.

Routh stars as Dylan Dog, a retired supernatural investigator. See, vampires are real. So are werewolves, zombies, and various other things that go bump in the night. Sort of like True Blood, without the public revelation. Sort of exactly like True Blood, actually. Anyway, the supernatural world always keeps an impartial human investigator on payroll, to snoop into weird cases and keep the beasties honest. But that was then, and now Dog basically does cheating spouse cases.

So, right away you can see the problem with the casting. Routh barely looks old enough to have retired from the soft serve machine at the Dairy Queen, let alone have served the realm of the undead and then retired from that and started a new career. It needs to be an actor with a few miles under his belt, someone that looks like they have seen it all; grizzled and world-weary. Not so clean cut, bright eyed, and bushy tailed.

When a werewolf kills an antiquities dealer, Dog is reluctantly pulled back into his old life. He’s got to navigate a dark world of creepy-crawlies right next to our own, and untangle the mystery before spooky assailants unknown take him down for good.

Dead of Night is decent movie. It’s not good, it’s not bad, but somewhere in between. The story is good enough, the cast is fair, some of the effects are good and others not so much. And Routh does as good a job as he can with the lead, but his casting, like every other aspect of this movie, lacks inspiration. The whole movie is just sort of there, with no aspirations to do anything unique or clever or fun.

The 11 Scariest Movies of the Last 11 years (Part One)

The 11 Scariest Movies Of The Last 11 Years
By Nate Hensley

We all know the tried and true horror classics – the scary movies from years gone by that still haunt us. The Exorcist. Jaws. Halloween. A Nightmare on Elm Street. Texas Chainsaw Massacre. They will never fade from out memories. And even more recent horror flicks, like Blair Witch Project, have achieved cult classic status as among the scariest movies ever. But even Blair Witch is getting on in years now. It was made back in 1999.
So what about the new century? What are the new classics? What the scariest damn movies in the last decade?
This is my list – the scariest 11 movies of the last 11 years. And bear in mind I’m talking movies that scared the crap out of me; there are a lot of great horror movies that aren’t on the list, even though they may be better films than some of the movies here. 28 Days Later is one of my top ten favorite movies of all time, and yet it didn’t scare me as deeply as others. Behind the Mask: the Rise of Leslie Vernon is an amazing film, and yet too funny to make the list. Frailty is a deep and intense film worthy of unmatched praise… and yet it isn’t on the list, either.
These are the movies to make your skin crawl, to make you jump, to linger in your head after they end and trouble your sleep. Disturbing, upsetting, frightening, startling, terrifying… these are the scariest movies of the last 11 years.

The Descent (2005)
Director: Neil Marshall
Like many great horror films, this one starts quietly. It builds slowly, developing the characters and giving them motivations and reasons for being in such a dangerous place with no back-up. When these ladies descend into the labyrinthian cave system for a grand adventure, it’s inevitable that everything will go wrong – but they have no idea just how monstrously wrong it will go. And although we, the viewer, do know something is waiting for them down in the darkness, we can’t prepare ourselves for the overwhelming intensity of fear, terror, and claustrophobia that Neil Marshall drops on us.
The premise is simple – a group of cave explorers get cut off from the surface, and have to go deeper in order to find another way out. But down below are things. Crawlers, they are called. Subhumans that live in the deep darkness and are hungry for fresh meat. But The Descent is anything but simple, the way it uses the character development at the start of the picture to put more and more twists into the plight of the trapped women. This attention to character keeps the tension of the film at a rapid boil, all the while Marshall is cranking up the fear and the gore with the approach of the crawlers.
If you are not claustrophobic, this movie might make you so. And if you are afraid of tight places, then open a window because The Descent may give you a heart attack.

The Hills Have Eyes (2006)
Director: Alexandre Aja
Alexandre Aja has had a short but memorable career in horror so far, and has proven himself to be one of the most promising directors in the genre. His ability to generate tension is amazing, his visual technique is smooth and polished, and he brings the shocks and the gore with both fists. Even with all of those qualities in his favor, I never expected him to take one of the great classic Wes Craven horror films and absolutely blow it out of the water with his remake.
A family is driving cross country, and makes a wrong turn in the middle of the desert. Stranded, they are inconvenienced but have food, water, shelter, trained dogs, and a gun. They have no reason to fear the setting sun, right? They have no reason to think that a deranged clan of mutants are living out there in the barren landscape, like desert scavengers, waiting to descend on any prey who cross into their territory. The picture-perfect American Family is thrown into a battle of survival against their dark twisted mirror image, and just when it seems like things are at their worst the bottom drops out, and the horror really begins.
The Hills Have Eyes is a brutal film. It is unrelenting, and wrings every ounce of horror and revulsion out of every scene. The mutants are chilling, not only in appearance but in how utterly inhuman they are towards their victims. The Descent trapped its characters deep underground, and yet these characters are under the wide open sky and yet are every bit as hopelessly trapped. And best of all, everything builds towards a unexpected final half hour that turns everything on its head. A more satisfying horror movie might not have been made since.

Check back soon for the rest of the list!