Sunday, June 30, 2013

Town Red - A Short Film With A Big Future.

There are a lot of short films which are produced and I just don’t find them appealing. They tend to have this ‘dark’ and pretentious vibe to them which makes them come off as boring and unusual for the sake of it. That has put me off watching a lot of short films. However ‘Town Red’ proves to be the complete opposite of that. After viewing this, I was extremely surprised with how much information was put on screen in 22 minutes and it not coming across as too jam packed or too convoluted.

Here is the run down. Get in your time machine and let’s go back 1952. There are scenes of carnage and a dark tranquillity which surrounds Sugar Grove, Kentucky. The cause?  A mysterious virus which has swept the town; and by the looks of it causing zombie/cannibalistic behaviour. Patrick is our protagonist who has lost everyone he loves to the virus besides his long-time friend and worker Jeffrey. They combine forces and decide to kill the virus ridden monster in Patrick’s garage. But while there is a monster to be killed, we meet a local farmer and all round ignorant pain in the ass Neil. Neil visits Patrick, because he wants something and he will cause as much trouble as he can to get it.

‘Town Red’ conveys so many different elements from several genres. There is the practical FX which were not too over the top but done well enough to have a very realistic look to them. The practical FX do look like they have come from a horror film, which does bring a gloomy cloud over the plot and the visuals which adds a lot of darkness to it.  I really enjoyed the musical score, because while sometimes it was calm which did reflect the happy times that Patrick looks back on, there are also moments of suspense that could be compared to the music that would be surrounded by your heartbeat. But what I really enjoyed was the dramatic sub plot. Sure this short film does convey a horror and a thriller aspect to the film, but the depth was very well done for a 22 minute film. There are flashbacks which add a dramatic turn to the film which makes Patrick crave what he once had, but also the more we learn about Neil and his family past, the more the film intensifies. Having so much going on in such a short time frame would usually come across as messy, but the pacing is executed perfectly. It’s not too fast or too slow, so by the time the end of the film came around I was just wanted to know what will happen next.

For such a short film there is a lot of character development, I just wish I could have seen more. But I understand with time restraints you have to work with what you have. The dialogue between the characters in the film was short, simple and cryptic which kept me wondering what was going to unfold. It didn’t just reveal everything at once because as a viewer you wouldn't have been able to go on a journey with the characters. The acting was subtle, it wasn't over dramatic because I think if it was you would have just thought of Patrick and Neil as red-neck as Tucker and Dale. Patrick (Ryan Geiger) is a religious and wise young man, who really valued family and his friendship with Jeffrey. His pain is conveyed very naturally through his eyes and his body language. He doesn't need to go on a huge rants on how he misses his family his whole persona says it all. Neil (Michael Jefferson) is just an ignorant self-loather, and made me disgusted in his behaviour, and his character was meant to make you feel that way. And we have Jeffrey (Micaiah Castro), who is a loyal, worker and friend to Patrick, and he respect their work relationship as well as their friendship. He is very softly spoken and a true gentleman, so it’s no wonder that he and Patrick are friends.

Ryan Geiger did an excellent job in bringing this story to the screen. The writing of the screenplay must have been very well written to be executed the way it was on the screen. I  think this short film has tremendous potential in terms of the technical aspects and everyone who played their part, played it well. The camera work was extremely well done and it definitely wasn't done by an amateur. I loved being able to see the objects the camera was focused on as well as seeing the beautiful scenery surrounding them; it was haunting at times. The sound and audio was very crisp, I could hear the dialogue and musical score perfectly, which was a big bonus in my book. There is nothing worse than watching short films and trying to hear music or dialogue but can’t because of wind rustling through the trees. The musical score added intensity and emotion, and I could feel when ‘a moment’ in the film was coming. Some may say having music to go along with ‘a moment’ on screen is predictable and should be just silent but I think having the music worked. The editing wasn't choppy, it was very smooth and cut to perfection. The editor obviously made sure to put the right shots together which conveyed the emotion that was right for each scene.

‘Town Red’ is one of the best short films that I have seen and left me walking away with a lot of information and made me want to watch more. I would love to see this made into a feature film, because I think it would be interesting to see what direction Ryan Geiger takes it. I do believe if this what made into a feature film and was marketed extremely well, I think it could be very successful. ‘Town Red’ accomplished a lot in 22 minutes, and conveyed emotion and depth that some 90 minute films can’t even produce. It is exciting to see that calibre of talent that is out there, they just need to be recognised for the hard work, creativity and dedication that they have put in. Everybody that worked on this film either in front of the camera or behind the scenes, all played an integral part and it really did work for them. It is awesome to know what kind of other projects that could be produced with a team like that. Ryan Geiger and the team from ‘Town Red’ you should be happy with the end result, because you guys nailed it. 

Monday, June 10, 2013

Tuff Turf: An Underrated Joy of 80's Teen Dramas

When it's late at night and I can't sleep, I often wonder about the important things in life; the things that really matter. I wonder about whether 'Kickboxer' will ever be uncut again and available on DVD or if Kurt Russell and Sylvestor Stallone will answer my prayers and team up for 'Tango and Cash 2: Bigger, Badder and Bloodier'. But there is one thought that has haunted me for a long time...What would happen if the movies 'The Karate Kid' and 'Savage Streets' decided they wanted to make love and have a baby? What 80's awesomeness would a fiend like me hope these two films create? Well there is only one possible answer to this...'Tuff Turf.

The storyline is something that has been used a lot in films, but that doesn't mean to say it's a boring take on the matter. Here we have Morgan(James Spader) who is a smart kid, plays by his own rules, and doesn't have too many friends. He moves to a new town and encounters the school bullies, and just so happens to fall head over heels in love for the long haired barbie, Frankie(Kim Richards), who happens to be dating king of the bullies and ultimate douche-bag Nick(Paul Mones). While Morgan is not busy hiding his boner, I mean feelings for Frankie, he is also making friends with the greasy, and possibly drugged up drummer Jimmy(Robert Downey Jr).  Jimmy is a realiable pal, who tells Morgan how it is on Nick's turf and how he needs to stop overstepping his boundaries with Frankie. Throughout the film we see Morgan constantly try to woo Frankie, and while she may seem like an ice maiden on the outisde, it is revealed that this appearingly shallow person actually does have a soft heart...And the only way that Morgan could get into her heart is by doing what any normal person would do; Crash a posh country club, get on the piano and sing a song called 'I Walk the Night'...and with lyrics such as 'I feel your face, I hear your eyes. I know the nights that you've cried, but we still survive', who wouldn't fall for his charms

Now you are probably thinking, 'This sounds so lame and cheesy'; and you may be right about the cheesy part, but hear me out. While it has some cringeworthy parts, you cannot help but love what director, Fritz Kiersh was trying to do. He managed to balance drama, comedy, and violence extremely well considering some of the cheesy scenes in the film. This is a lot of fun, and it doesn't try to preach to you the importance of it's themes, it just makes them aware in your psyche and you can do what you like with them. While a lot of people out there do love 80's teen flicks like 'The Breakfast Club' and 'Ferris Bueller's Day Off', they tend to pick and choose which of these film has credibility and which has just plain cheese. The 80's was a wonderfully cheesy era of film, regardless of the genre and I'd say in just about every 80's movie there may be at LEAST one slightly cringeworthy moment. The 70's films, regardless of genre had more of an intense feel to them and a grimy appeal which didn't seem to care if it offended you; those kind of films wanted to wake their audiences up. Whereas the 80's had a lot more to do with putting a strong sense of emotion out there and conveying it to the audience. Films like 'Tuff Turf' were just as relevent to the 1980's as 'Sixteen Candles' was.

'Tuff Turf' is a great example of a teen flick which just has all the elements that has made the genre cliche. Firstly you have the unattainable popular girl which the new 'loser' kid at school could never date because she is dating or she dated the possessive 'king of the douches' and he won't let her out of his sight. The first act of the film usually has the protagonist chasing or pining over said person and doing just about anything to get noticed, and while they think nothing could ever come of them, BANG they do something which touches their heart, a letter, a song or a cute and embarrassing gesture usually does the trick. And while all this is going on, they manage to fit in a scene where teens are dancing at an 'underground' club and everything is perfectly choregraphed. But you have to make sure 'King of the Douches' believes he is in control because he beat up the new kid for panting in the sun over his lady friend. And in the end it usually boils down to a fight over the girl, or there is some kind of emotional speech which 100% wins over the girl, and then the credits roll to a really awesome B grade song by some band that had one famous song. These are simple elements, but they work well and have been used many times over and were rehashed in the late 90's and early 2000 flicks such as 'She's All That' and '10 Things I Hate About You'. While not every single teen flick has all the elements, they do have enough to tie them all together to put them in that genre and make them similar one way or another.

'Tuff Turf' is one of those underrated 80's gems like 'Thrashin'  and 'The Last American Virgin' which was forgotten in the midst of the John Hughes fog. It can definitely appeal to both chicks AND dudes, because it has romance, it has fighting, normal themes that teenagers can relate to but exaggerated a tad to come across as more 'alive' on screen. And it works, because you will get a great time with this film, and if you are an 80's movie fiend like myself, you will be charged up, you will probably go on a search for more movies like this which may end up leading you to 1980's revenge teen flicks, and more importantly you will want to watch James Spader's performance of 'I Walk the Night' over and over again. This film knows exactly what it is, and it takes you on one of the most entertaining and unintentionally hilarious 80's rides you have been on. It hasn't aged the best in terms of production value, but it has a strong and easy to follow structure. Take 'Tuff Turf' for what it is and just enjoy it for that very reason; if you apply that kind of mentality to all movies, your movie viewing will be a hell of a lot more enjoyable.

Saturday, June 1, 2013


Video Game movies have never been successful critically and at times financially, but they have managed to stay around in people’s memory which has that led them to buy a copy of the VHS or DVD and let it have a cosy place on their shelf. A lot of video game movie titles were meant to be made but were scrapped before the film had a chance to get into pre-production. Why do you think that is? There are many factors really. The director may drop out and no one is game enough to take over, the issue of money, or crazy ideas which may seem awesome when you read it on paper but are just far too extreme which cannot be brought to life. Video game movies are hard to make to begin with because they are downright absurd, ‘too futurisitic’ for this world that the audience won’t find it believable. This is the problem you see. An audience is much more forgiving of a shit game, but if you fuck up a video game movie, any actor, director, screenwriter is just criticised from every angle. I understand fanboys getting all uptight and getting  their remote control wires in a twist because it hasn’t been done the exact same way as the game. There has been so many films that have been shot down before the film has even graced the screens because it isn’t exactly like the game, or the Special FX are dodgy or the actors are lame. But think of it this way, Hollywood exec’s do not want to give money to a sub genre of film which may have had previous bankable movies because the risk is too great. If action/adventure films like ‘Cutthroat Island’ and ‘Waterworld’ which had lavish sets and massive budgets and didn’t reach their targets, they are not going to think twice about making another ‘Street Fighter’ movie.

There have been two really awesome video game movies which in my mind stand above the rest, and if you are a 90′s kid you should know which ones I am talking about…’Mortal Kombat’ and ‘Street Fighter’. These two movies blew my mind as a kid, and I am not going to lie…they still do. There are so many cool elements about both of these films, and while they are not exactly going with the storyline’s from their respected games, you can’t help but love these films. I think if you had both of these films played in a double bill at your local cinema, so many people would come out of the woodwork just to experience the greatness of violent fighting games come to life on the big screen once more. If you had to pit each of these films against each other, who would win? Who is more worthy of that Flawless Victory title? Well let’s really break the films down and see for ourselves.

Round One: The Story

Here we have 2 video game movies, both about fighting but which delivers closest to the game? ‘Mortal Kombat’ would win this round hands down, because while they don’t spend much time at all in ‘outworld’ there is still a fighting tournament and then some, so I think ‘Mortal Kombat’ Ticks all the boxes. The film also gets to the heart of the story very quickly, it doesn’t mess about because let’s face it you came to see people fighting and to hear someone say ‘Flawless Victory’ at LEAST once, and you got it. While it does have a little bit of sub plot about the death of Liu Kang’s brother, it doesn’t crap on about it and make it a huge sob story about the daily suffering of Liu Kang.

 ’Street Fighter’ has a convoluted story which they really didn’t need to use because the original game was a fighting tournament, but having said that it was an enjoyable storyline. They had too much going on, and while it was easy to follow each sub plot, it just gets messy and they could have really cut certain things out and put more fighting scenes in it’s replacement.

Winner: ’Mortal Kombat’

Round Two: The Acting

Let’s face it the acting isn’t too good in either of the films, but ‘Street Fighter’ does have one amazing actor and that is Raul Julia. Why? Because  even though he is wearing a ridiculous costume and his lines are at times lame, cheesy and just downright bad, he really plays with them. He really puts a new meaning to every line whether he conveys it more through how he stands, or his large collection of facial expressions or the change of his tone and the accent he puts on certain parts of a word. While people may not have noticed that while watching ‘Street Fighter’ Raul Julia has a presence which commands your attention, and he doesn’t have to say a thing. And the fact that he could still have that power in a film like ‘Street Fighter’ proves he had acting chops on him. Van Damme is just playing himself, so he doesn’t win or lose points. But the pink elephant in the room that needs to be addressed is this…WHY THE HELL WAS KYLIE MINOGUE CAST IN THIS FILM! What the hell did she add to it besides sheer boredom and no talent? Sure Van Damme might not be the best actor but shit at least he’s a trained martial artist and knows how to fight…she is just an air bubble with pig tails. 

‘Mortal Kombat’ does have it’s moments of semi decent acting. The best actor is by far Cary Hiroyuki- Tagawa. Why? Because he is just so deliciously evil. He remind’s me of a box of chocolates. With each chocolate devoured a new pleasure erupts inside of you, and that’s what happens whenever you see him portray Shang Tsung. With every one liner, or trick he pulls it makes you want to continue watching. He knows he’s evil, and he loves it, so Cary really played with that role and made it his own, and now whenever I think of Shang Tsung, I think of the only man who could portray him and that’s Cary Hiroyuki-Tagawa. The rest of the cast of ‘Mortal Kombat’ are so so, Christopher Lambert does play an interesting Raiden, and it’s definitely not the worst portrayal of the character that I have seen.  Robin Shou does play Liu Kang with a lot of integrity and honour but the thing is he has nothing really THAT interesting about him, but then again I always felt that with the game. I feel that as major or minor the roles are of everyone, ‘Mortal Kombat’ was a lot less cold, everything seemed to flow a lot better in this compared to ‘Street Fighter’.

The Winner: ‘Mortal Kombat’

Round Three: Fight Choreography

Not much happens in terms of fight choreography in ‘Street Fighter’ until the very end, but even still it isn’t the best fight scene that Van Damme has been in. I think a lot of the reason to that is Raul Julie was dying of cancer during the filming of ‘Street Fighter’ so I could totally understand why they wouldn’t go all out on each other. But I also think ‘Street Fighter’ was definitely more aimed at the kids than ‘Mortal Kombat’. As much as I do love ‘Street Fighter’, it just doesn’t have enough fight scenes for me.  Obviously the stand out fighter in this film is Van Damme because let’s face it he is the only one who really does a lot of fighting, there is just little scenes here and there to introduce the characters to the film, to make them relevant to the plot.

‘Mortal Kombat’ has a lot of fight scenes, because well it would be pretty damn stupid if a film about a fighting tournament didn’t have much fighting…I would be pissed off and demand my money back. I enjoy the shit out of every fight scene, my favourite though would have to be the fight between Johnny Cage and Scorpion because well it is FREAKIN’ AMAZING! And while they are fighting you hear Scorpion say ‘GET OVER HERE’…just thinking of that makes me happier than a kid on Christmas morning. ‘Mortal Kombat’ is also a tonne more violent, and when you have a movie about a fighting tournament you should definitely make it more violent, it worked for ‘Bloodsport’.

The Winner: ‘Mortal Kombat’

The Winner of ‘Mortal Kombat’ VS ‘Street Fighter’ is MORTAL KOMBAT…and since it won all three rounds you should know what this is….

The Cinema Experience...Or Lack Of.

Remember that moment on Christmas morning when you were waiting for that video game that all your friends had for months and you had been begging your parents for? How excited were you when you saw that square shaped box, wrapped up tightly in red wrapping paper with a gold ribbon around it. This HAS to be the latest Mortal Kombat game, it just has to be, it’s all you have spoken to your parents about for months. You start to slowly tear the edges and then think ‘SCREW THIS’ and tear away the wrapping paper like a rabid dog and then the realisation hits you like a tonne of bricks…this isn’t Mortal Kombat, it’s Fatal Fury…The poor man’s Mortal Kombat, still a good game though but not nearly as violent. You’re heart sinks and your 10 year old self can think of nothing worse. Now fast forward that same emotion you felt as a 10 year old to you right now,  and apply it to how you feel when a film you have been gagging to see, doesn’t get played at any cinema in your state…or even YOUR COUNTRY.  It’s scandalous right? An outrage? A joke? But once the initial anger has seeped under your skin and will boil over another day, you start to wonder why the hell would this film get scrapped from cinemas at the last minute. But the more you think about it, the more frustrated you feel, surely these film distributors and the guys behind the marketing know what they are doing right? Or are they just being square headed ignoramuses? You be the judge.

In the past few years I have noticed more and more films which have not been reaching our cinemas here in Australia, or what they do is, get scrapped last minute or they get a little run in selected cinemas. I am not just talking about B grade movies which I would like to see because I love my cheese, I am talking legit films which could have made these film companies a bit more cash, than rather having it sitting around for several months until the straight to DVD release. And all the while this is happening, the Justin Bieber 3D film got slammed at the cinemas, so did the Katy Perry movie also in 3D…Did I mention there is also going to be a One Direction movie too? Word on the street is, it’s going to be in 3D too. Now why is this allowed to happen? Why are so called documentaries like that getting slammed, marketed and pushed down our throat yet Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning didn’t even get a cinematic release here in Australia besides in 2 cinemas…you heard right, 2 FREAKIN’ CINEMAS. I will tell you why this is happening. Teenage girls are idiots, lets face it, all of us were crazy about some guy as a 15 year old right? I mean I was crazy about Stallone…hrm maybe I am exempt from this. Anyway these girls will spend whatever money they have on the latest cd, t-shirt, poster by guys like One Direction. And these girls are in the masses, its like the Horde from He-Man. And these film companies know these girls will go with their friends to see the movie and buy the DVD, so it’s a quick buck for them. No real thought process went into the production all they saw behind this kind of ‘movie’ is dollar signs. But the thing is, no one will remember these kind of movies in 10 years, want to know why? Because these girls will grow up, and they will find ACTUAL boyfriends which will exist past the poster hanging above their bed, and they will look back on those couple of years and think ‘Why the hell did I like this band so much?’ Without these kind of ‘documentaries’ and films the companies wouldn’t be as financially set, because they know how peoples brains work when it comes to mind numbing plots, so good on them for making their money that way. However whenever something is due for a release that they don’t know much about or even really care to know much about, they go into a panic and either pull out of releasing it last minute or limit the sessions down, regardless of the fact the film may have done well in another country.

Action and Horror movies are the bastard children of the film industry. Sure action movies get released but unless it’s ‘A Grade’ with several big names in the cast and is guaranteed to make them millions, it won’t get played. And when it comes to horror movies, that is a genre that is definitely cast aside in Australia. The best example of that is the remake/reboot to the Evil Dead franchise. There was a tonne of buzz around this when it got announced there was going to be another instalment and let’s face it the trailer really did sell it. And then just before it was due for release here in Australia, it got limited to 3 cinemas in the entire country. A Facebook group and petition was then created for Sony Pictures to rethink it’s decision to scrap most of the sessions, but alas they didn’t care. But what I can tell you is this, they would have made a lot more money if they would have distributed ‘Evil Dead’  to the mainstream cinema. Film companies do not trust horror films, because there have been a lot of misses, they aren’t exactly stable when it comes to bringing back that cash. Word on the street is in Australia the most rented genre on DVD is actually horror. Now that is totally something I can understand, remember back when you were a pre-teen and you wanted to watch movies you shouldn’t be and all those gruesome and weird horror covers would entice you and keep your interest, so as soon as you were old enough you rented them with your friends; and it’s still like that to this day.

Back in the 1970′s cinema was something which was enjoyed by the masses, sure it still is, but back then it was on a different level to what it is now. In the 70′s a lot of films whether they were mainstream or independent were a lot more grimy and gritty, and the themes were seen as a little more dramatic, intense and at times over exaggerated but for the right reasons. And even though that was the case, they were still an accepted form of film, and they were played even if it was a midnight session or at the drive in, either way they managed to bring in a big crowd of people. There were less boundaries back then until the shit storm in the 1980′s arose in the UK with the banning of films and labelling them ‘Video Nasties’. And I believe since all that erupted back then that has definitely played a big part into why certain genre of films get a limited to no run at the cinema. I love going to the movies, it’s something that makes me happy, it calms me and for me it’s a kickass experience, but at times I do get tired of seeing the same crap pumped through the cinemas and getting a tonne of sessions compared to something which I believe is a lot better, but that goes back to personal taste. I just think at times it is unfair that we miss out on a great and memorable movie experience just because a company doesn’t think it will make them any money. If they do seriously believe that I say they shouldn’t be so upset when people decide to download the movie. You didn’t want to make money so don’t get mad if someone downloads it.

To the film companies out there I say this; back the projects which you guys distribute as much as you can. Obviously not everything will hit the cinema, because that is impossible, and some sign in their contract that it won’t be getting a cinematic release. But don’t promise something to an audience and then take it away because you don’t believe the hype or buzz surrounding a film. I can understand that these companies do not want to lose out on money and that is fair, but if something which is mainstream or even independent that has made a fair bit of cash, shouldn’t you be excited to distribute it in another country and not just in selected cinemas with selective sessions? Start doing the research, go onto Facebook, Twitter, movie forums, movie news websites, and read up on your product you are selling, check out what people want and what they expect, and find out what your target audience really thinks.

Friendzoned in Movies - What is Fake, and What is the Reality.

Where do you think the term ‘friend-zoned’ came from? Do you think it came from the evolution of the mind game chicks who slept around with everyone but you? You know the ones I mean. At first it was about getting your best friend who just happens to be a guy, to carry your bag…but now you have your best friend fixing your computer, watching you try on clothes for hours and seeing you naked in the process, buying you things, and then doing ridiculous things for you that a normal run of the mill boyfriend wouldn’t even do, yet you don’t want to destroy the friendship…Throughout the years, it has been portrayed in countless movies of the guys who are nice, and just want to make the girl of their dreams happy. Which is quite admirable and sweet and just what every girl wants yeah? WELL GUYS STOP PINING OVER THE WRONG WOMEN! They will not choose you, no matter what you sacrifice for them. To make it more clear, silly women want a challenge. They want to ‘change’ a man; they want to be THAT woman that changed his life…I still haven’t worked out why they do that. But the big question is, can you actually be friends with a girl you fell in love with, even though she lied, friend-zoned you for the popular guy, and sacrificed a lot for? Who know’s if it’s possible, all I know is some chicks are INSANE!

‘Pretty in Pink’ is one of my favourite John Hughes movies, it has a lot of endearing qualities, its entertaining, has some solid acting, and it has Andrew Dice Clay in it for a short amount of time, so just from hearing that, it sold it for me. Here we have Andie, who isn’t exactly socially awkward, she knows exactly who she is, and who she aspires to be, and apparently doesn’t want anything to do with the popular cliques at school, it sounds refreshing right? It’s Andie and her best friend Duckie,  against the world, but the thing is Duckie just digs the hell out of Andie, and he makes it obvious he wants her. The problem with Andie is she doesn’t address the fact she doesn’t like him back. That is all she had to do, but no she just casually laughs it off, and pretends as if she hasn’t noticed his advances. But it bites her in the ass when she goes on a date with Blaine and tells Duckie last minute, knowing how it would hurt him. And he then threatens to never be there for her again, but he’s a chump and didn’t stick to his guns.

Where did Duckie go wrong? He didn’t pick up on her body language, he didn’t notice her brushing him off, he was too enthralled in this fantasy, where she was going to want to be with him forever, and it was going to be amazing. Maybe he didn’t know her as well as he thought. Maybe underneath all that teen angst was a girl who just wanted to be part of the popular crowd, and had fantasies in her own head on how things were going to work out. That is probably why she kept Duckie around for as long as she had, just in case those fantasies didn’t pan out. Duckie was overly eager, now that reeks of desperation most of the time. There is a way to be eager and still come across as sweet and not overbearing, but Duckie did not have the skill or the tact to pull that off. Yeah pay the girl a compliment, and you can do nice things for her, however she needs to keep that independence because if she doesn’t she will end up resenting you and you won’t be what she wants. He kept living in this fantasy; unfortunately Andie didn’t shatter his dream early on, so now the result is not the best. She should have just been honest, from the beginning, and then we wouldn’t have had this problem. But also he shouldn’t have been such a shmuck about it and kept living in this unrealistic fantasy.

Even though at the end of ‘Pretty in Pink’, Andie and Duckie do not end up together, but they stay really good friends, despite the fact he felt strung along, and was only kept around for support when Andie needed it. And Duckie forgives her. Let’s face it guys, if a girl did that to you, would you be stupid enough to want to stay around and put up with her shit? No! It’s an unrealistic depiction of how a true friendship would be. Obviously it’s all tied up nicely, because Andie has the best friend and the rich, popular boyfriend, every girl’s fantasy right? Well it’s wrong…dead wrong. I am now going to tell you what really happens when you get friend-zoned…

Now to all you 1980’s who are teen flick buffs like me, who remembers a film called, ‘The Last American Virgin’? The first half of the film is relatively light hearted, just three guys, trying to get laid, that’s what it was about. And then it changes. Gary has fallen head over heels for this new girl in town called Karen, just everything about her makes him go weak. I mean sure love at first sight is supposed to exist in high school. And he asks her to go to a party with him; she declines and tells him she is busy with a prior engagement. Gary rolls up at this party and as it turns out, Karen is at this party WITH his best friend Rick. As you can imagine he is upset, but bows out gracefully, even though he is hurt as hell. He reacts like a normal teenager would, he is shocked, pissed off, upset and still wants her but knows she is unattainable…until a bombshell happens! Rick gets Karen pregnant and dumps her, so in come’s Gary to save the day.

 He stays with her at his grandma’s empty house and lets her stay there for a few days while she recuperates from the abortion…THAT GARY PAYS FOR. Now after the abortion has happened, Gary really does step up to the plate and is an unconditional friend even though he wants more and tells her how he feels and she reciprocates. Deep down you are thinking, ‘YES HE DID IT HE GOT OUT OF THE FRIEND-ZONE’…Oh it gets better. Gary has not only sold possessions so he could pay for her abortion, but sold other stuff so he could buy her a piece of jewellery to give to her at her birthday party. Gary rolls up to the party so happy, nothing could have broken his damn spirit. You could have told him the world was going to end in three hours and that wouldn’t have mattered, because he would have had his girl right? WRONG. He sees Karen at the party WITH his best friend and her ex-boyfriend Rick. Looks like they have both had a change of heart. Gary then sees her, Karen sees Gary, their eyes meet, and pure heartbreak is written across his face. He then leaves and gets in his car and drives away. That is how it ends.

That ending is far more realistic I think because, that does happen! Women are suckers for douche-bag guys and guys are suckers for ‘sweet’ girls who don’t know what they want. Gary went wrong big time with Karen because of one MAJOR thing. He really didn’t know anything about her. While she did look sweet and kind, underneath that entire exterior she could have been a real nasty person. The only thing I can say about her at the end of the movie is this; she was a lying, indecisive, and stupid girl. I know they are only teenagers and they aren’t going to know what real love is, but seriously have a god damn conscience. I just found this ending more realistic, and have seen situations similar to that happen to my friends. ‘The Last American Virgin’, shouldn’t be a forgotten teen flick, just because it didn’t give the audience the ending they wanted to see. ‘Pretty in Pink’ gave us the same ending; a lot of movies have done before and since then. ‘The Last American Virgin’, can take you back to a time in your life, or remind you of what someone you know went through. But guys please don’t think that all women are head-cases who don’t know what they want, and can’t see what is right in front of them, we are not all like that, and I know I’m not like that. And just to give you guys a little hope who have been friend-zoned, when it comes to my own love life, I chose Duckie.

The Critic: Have We Forgotten How To Accept Film?

Who here remembers the brilliantly written cartoon TV show, ‘The Critic’? What was great about this show, was that it always knew how to make you laugh and poke fun at celebrities, and their movies.  It was so well written because it really understood movies, celebrities, Hollywood and humour.  If you weren’t a movie buff, you probably couldn’t appreciate it or enjoy it. But if you were, you understood the references and saw the effort the writers and animators put in, to recapture the movies you grew up loving and remembering…but they did it with clever humour that wouldn’t offend you. But the best element of this show was that Jay Sherman would review films honestly. And even though he loved classic cinema and original story telling, he would still be honest and say he didn’t like it. It’s just a shame real life critics and reviewers cannot do the same.

The character of Jay Sherman(Jon Lovitz), is at times egotistical, vulnerable, is strong willed most of the time, and appreciates cinema, regardless of how bad a certain might be. He does tend to favour the classics, but at times you can see he has a tiny bit of love for the ‘shlocky’ kind of films. It’s shows like ‘The Critic’, that always remind me of why I love movies, and why one day I want to be a movie journalist and critic. Jay Sherman does lose his way sometimes but he does have a lot of integrity, and will review a film the way he wants, and unfortunately that is what is lacking today in a lot of reviewers and critics. A lot of them, tag everything together and compare Foreign and Action movies, and in my opinion that way of reviewing just doesn’t work. I understand why a lot of people are not totally honest about what they saw, especially if they are getting paid and have strong ties with movie companies. However, even if you did not like the film entirely, I am sure there is at least one redeeming feature about it. Give it a fair balance.  9 times out of 10, I can find something I liked about a movie. And if it is something I own on DVD and I really didn’t like it, I will revisit it, to make sure my mind has not changed or maybe there was something I missed in the first viewing.

I think viewers as a whole need to stop expecting so much of a film, and just investing too much time, into thinking about what it is going to be like, just go with it. There is nothing wrong with liking something that is Z grade, because often you will find a lot of the time that those kind of films do have great story premises, but they don’t have the money to actually execute it the way they want to. And so when these kind of films get released they either get scatched by critics and reviewers OR they just get completely forgotten about. And a lot of those kind of films are just found by pure accident. I read reviews daily, because I love to see peoples opinion and point of view. I love to see if someone out there has the exact same opinion as me, and  if they understood and felt the same emotions I did. I feel at times I watch movies completely differently to everyone else, and I believe I write about them differently too. While writing your standard review is all well and good, I think you can connect with the reader more if you go into depth on how it made you feel, and how certain elements struck a chord with you or how these elements annoyed you. Too many people criticise movies because of just purely what they see on screen. They don’t see what a film was trying to do. Obviously films can get so lost in themselves and forget to a point across that originally intended to, but if you can see what journey they were trying to convey, then at least you can see something which just isn’t face value.

I really do not like when people review a film, and just outright hate it and do not give a valid reason. Because reviews have to be kept at a minimum, especially if you are writing for someone, you cannot get your whole opinion across. But if you just hate on something for face value and nothing beneath the surface, then I really feel sorry for your journey into watching and experiencing movies. Best way to explain that is this way; don’t crap on a film just because it’s another sequel, or an action film, or a genre of film you don’t understand ie; Horror or Exploitation. Take it for what it is. I have found that is the best way to enjoy a film, because you have no expectations and a lot of the time it can surprise you. A film I did not want to see was ‘Silver Linings Playbook’, I thought the trailer just sold it as another chick flick…How wrong I was! It surprised me so much, that it rekindled something inside me and just made me want to explore films even more openly.

Hype is another factor which can either be a great tool for a films box office and critical success, or it can go in the other direction. It happened recently with ‘A Good Day to Die Hard’, I think it has a very low percentage on Rotten Tomatoes. I won’t lie, it is in no way as good as the first 3 ‘Die Hard’ movies, and at times it was slow, however I just wanted to see shit explode and that is what I go. The dialogue wasn’t as clever as the original movies, but it didn’t totally suck. I just think people wanted another ‘Die Hard’ movie so damn much they were happy to make it, but just lost sight of their journey in making it. Hype is something that critics and an audience can get lost in. They believe the hype so much that they actually don’t take the time to really understand the film and take it all in. Don’t ever let a film with all that glossiness and pretty packaging take away what the film is really doing. Don’t let all the outer layers distract you from the films core. When a film is so universally loved, and a lot of the time it has to do with the marketing and hype, you don’t have to like it you know? Just because everyone tells you are wrong for not liking something, it doesn’t make them right. Everything is based on opinion, but people get so caught up in what they are spoon fed, they lose touch of the bigger picture and only focus on certain elements.

Learn to separate genres, my god when will people learn? I find the best way to review an action film is to relate it to other films which are along the same wavelength that people can enjoy and identify with.If you don’t understand the horror genre and it’s many sub-genres, don’t review it with a hateful and ignorant manner, do some damn research on the film and genre, because it may open a whole new section in your brain and may leave you a little more open minded. All genres are different, and all genres should be appreciated for the films they produce. Sure the make some great films and terrible films, but you get the good with the bad. It shouldn’t be Indie films VS Giallo film or Foreign film VS Creature Feature Films. Don’t put them against each other, instead compare them to what you think the viewer may have seen before and how it can be right up their alley.

People seem to think that every film that get’s made is all trying to do the same thing, which is win awards. And that just isn’t true. It seems in the last 10-15 years, the film industry has changed, and in some cases it isn’t about entertaining the viewers, it’s about ramming it down our throats with marketing, merchandise, and it’s also about how a film is more worthier than others if it win’s an Academy Award. I used to think that if you won, one of those awards, you were the shit, and you were untouchable. But you know what, it really isn’t true. Stallone won an Oscar for Rocky, and while that film was honest and beautifully made, people to this day see him as a joke, because of career choices. People at times forget how influential that man ACTUALLY is.

It all starts with a script, and the script might be entirely different to the finished product, and sometimes it pays to go away from the source material and other times it doesn’t. ‘Jaws’ is a great example of when a film goes wrong in the right direction. So many things changed on that set because they were dealing with nature, so the tides were either too low, too high, other boats would be in their shots, the shark wouldn’t work, and every day of shooting you are losing money with investors and movie companies breathing down your neck. Incidents happened on the set of ‘Jaws’ where they would have great material that was shot, but it didn’t fit into the script, so they would change a chunk of the film to make it fit. A lot of comes down to a great creative team, scheduling and of course money, and if you can work around these things and create something as spectacular as ‘Jaws’, then more power to you. And even though ‘Jaws’ is known as a classic, it is still seen as a joke, because of what pop culture over time has done to it. But a film like ‘Jaws’ is so influential, that only did it kick-start people’s film careers, break box office records, but also it did something world wide…it made people afraid of the water. If a film like that can tap that deep into your psyche and affect many generations from doing something as simple as swimming in the ocean, I’d say the film has done it’s fair share.

Obviously we all have our personal tastes, of what we love and hate. There is nothing wrong with having our own opinions, because that is what shapes our personalities. But don’t stick to one genre, ever! Because you will become a boring, hateful and ignorant film viewer which will never know the joy of what is really out there. Some films will be seen in the classics at your local video store, some may be in the recommended section, and some may be tossed aside in the bargain bin, either way, you will find a gem in each one, which will lead you on to an enjoyable  and eventful film journey.

Mikey - The Real Devil Child.

What do you find creepy? What makes your skin crawl? Is it Clowns? Dolls? Masks? What is it about thrillers or horror movies which make you feel uneasy? There are so many cinema ‘baddies’ which everyone remembers and some are famous icons which cannot be touched. But whatever happened to that little forgotten child…the one who was like Dennis the Menace but on a diet of steroids and PCP? Mix that together with a child who is pure psychotic and you have the underrated and forgotten film ‘Mikey’. This was a film my older brother rented from the video store. I remember going to my usual spot of the video store to rent my favourites ‘Kickboxer’ and ‘Rocky IV’ and seeing my brother had this strange VHS in his hand, I had never seen it before. When we left the video store I asked him what was that weird film he rented and he told me it was a horror/thriller about a boy who kills his family, and after much begging and bribing and my promises of  buying him caramel slices from the local deli, he FINALLY agreed to let me watch it with him.

I was about 13 at the time, and I think at that point I was probably still afraid of Tong Po, so watching ‘Mikey’ was really ‘intense’ for me. But at the same time it was really enjoyable and fun. Hard to believe that a film that I saw as intense had a lighter side to it, whether it intended to is another matter. Now the run down of this story is Mikey is a young boy who kills his adoptive parents and sibling and he staged every murder as if some cold blooded killer had stormed into the house and decided to go BTK on the family. I mean what cop or psychologist is going to brand him the murderer or at least psychotic? NONE! Because people are stupid. So now poor little Mikey gets adopted out to a loving husband and wife who have been trying for kids, so they seek out the spawn of the devil’s loins and that is what they get. At first he is a sweet young boy, but then his teacher notices something isn’t right about him and tries to warn the parents and while they understand what she is trying to say, it falls upon deaf ears.

Mikey was portrayed by Brian Bonsall, and for a young kid at the time, he did a really awesome job as portraying a child who is just well, BAT SHIT CRAZY. I think portraying someone like that especially as a child would be quite demanding, fun and there would be a fair amount weight on your shoulders. And Bonsall nailed it. Seeing a child do such depraved things for no real reason at all really makes you want the little bastard to just die! You really hate his character because he’s such a lunatic but at the same time the parents are morons for not paying attention to what was really going on. I mean it’s not like the kid is a perfect liar and charmer, I just think the parents wanted a kid so much they didn’t really care if he played up a little. I think it’s a level playing field because they were shown the signs, they ignored them so now they must pay! I am really glad that Bonsall’s portrayal of Mikey was pretty brutal, and it is something that I still remember vividly to this day. That performance couldn’t have been played by any kid, he would have to have been a pretty well adjusted kid to have been able to pull of that kind of performance and make it believable. Most kid actors are well, terrible, I mean we have the Disney Channel and the kid actors on all those ‘wholesome’ shows are just freakin’ awful.So it’s a shame kid actors get subjected to roles on the Disney Channel instead of something with a bit more ‘meat’ in it. But I guess it all comes down to money. I think life would be so much more simpler if actors were paid in Monopoly Money. Would make their quest a little more interesting, and maybe they would put a bit more effort into when they act.

‘Mikey’ is a hard movie to find, I am surprised I managed to find it lurking in the dark caves of the Internet. But I do remember reading an article some time ago which stated that the film ‘Mikey’ was banned in the UK because I think it was due to be released over there on VHS right after the murder of toddler Jamie Bulger. In case you didn’t know about that murder case; which you should, I shall quickly bring you up to speed. Jamie Bulger was murdered in 1993 by two young boys who’s name aren’t worthy of getting a mention in my article. Anyway Jamie left his mother’s side for a brief moment, and for that moment, these two killers took Jamie by the hand and lured him out of the shopping centre and they tortured and murdered this innocent child. Now I am pretty sure hearing that is a clear indication of why ‘Mikey’ was banned. Britain had already had a previous child killer called Mary Bell, but now two young boys are committing something more heinous? I think they didn’t want Britain to be associated with child killers in any way, so banning ‘Mikey’ seemed like a sensible thing to do. While I do not condone banning of movies, I think maybe in this instance they were right to do so.

‘Mikey’ is an incredibly enjoyable film, it does have it’s intense moments, as well as it’s cheesy one liners, but hey what horror/ thriller doesn’t? I think it has aged a lot, so when you look at it you just think ‘Oh man this is so 90′s’. It doesn’t have a timeless feel to it like John Carpenter’s ‘The Thing’, but it does have a quality about it which sure does make it look like it has aged but makes you enjoy the storyline and Bonsall’s performance and appreciate the value of it. Because of the circumstances surrounding this release, it is a forgotten gem among the ‘child killers’ sub genre, but I can definitely seeing this as a much rented film in the early 90′s when it was allowed to be released. I enjoyed this for what it is, not for what it didn’t have. I would have liked to have seen this a lot more darker like the film ‘Orphan’, but having said that Bonsall’s performance is still a creepy one. The reason being is you can see that if Mikey continues on murdering people into adulthood you can see a Ted Bundy in the making. And seeing the film from that perspective puts it on a new level of creepiness.