Poltergeist Review by Eddie Horror Show
Poltergeist is a supernatural horror film directed by Gil Kenan, written by David Lindsay-Abaire and produced by Sam Raimi. The film stars Sam Rockwell, Rosemarie DeWitt, Jared Harris, and Jane Adams.
I went to the theater expecting lots of horror and scares, but was sadly disappointed. Although, I will say it is a solid film, it just wasn’t scary. And to be bloody honest, I believe the original was scarier. Now I know what some of you may be thinking: “Oh, he’s one of the horror fans who solely stick to originals and hates any remake.” But no, that’s not the case at all. There is actually like ten remakes that I enjoyed and everybody hated. But in this case, I felt that the remake should have been scarier and made the first one look like child’s play.
A lot of people complained about the CGI effects, but I thought they were cool. I felt it offered something that the original wasn’t able to do, due to unavailable technology at the time. I thought the CGI was well played. What I didn’t appreciate is the lack of horrible skeleton corpses. Remember the muddy, skeletal pit from the original? That lasted for like a second and it wasn’t creepy at all. I really wanted to be scared and it just never happened for me. And the creepy reverend was nowhere to be found.
Sam Rockwell is an amazing actor and I thought he did well, as he usually does. Well, all actors and actresses did well. The only thing that fell extremely short for me was the scares. And the clown was a lot scarier in the original—and he had more time. I just hope that future remakes make the movies scarier.
Poltergeist is definitely worth the watch, but don’t go in expecting a whole lot. I mean, if you’re one of those people who rarely watch horror movies, you might be scared. As for the rest of you folks like me, you might feel the same way.
The Original Concept for ‘The Rescuers Down Under’ had the Entire Film Take Place in a Young Aborigine’s Dream
The Rescuers Down Under is a good, solid film. Unfortunately, it was released between two all-caps MASTERPIECES — The Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast — thus damning it to a second rate status in the eyes of most animation fans. Ah, but things could’ve been quite different.
The original concept for The Rescuers Down Under
was so wildly original that, had the suits green-lit it, the film
might’ve stood should-to-shoulder with the rest of the pics released
during the Disney Renaissance. Of course, suits being suits, this was
never going to happen…
“[The Rescuers Down Under]
started with a little Aborigine kid, an orphan, and he was doing sand
paintings. It was [basically one long] dream sequence. Mike Gabriel was
working on it at the time, and he’s got such a great mind with stories.
[…] It was really emotional in that it was a dream sequence and
[that’s why] he could talk to animals. It was this transfer of knowledge
[between the Aborigine boy and] the animals.
“And then it became a
little Australian boy. And then…a little British boy. And then he lost
his accent and it just became a ‘White’ thing, and then the story just
meandered until — gosh, I wish it just stuck to the one original
Met Nina and got seats for the Opera. Podge told me Stan’s
going home any day now. Probably this weekend. Very wet. Worked till 6 when
Podge bought Stan in to say goodbye. Persuaded me to go to flicks saw ‘Meet Me
in St Louis’ very nice. I’m sorry to see Stan go he’s such a fixture.
My bf and I went to see Mad Max: Fury Road the night before last, and I was mildly surprised when the bf walked out of the theater and enthusiastically called it “the most solid action film [he’s] seen in a very long time.” In fact, yesterday he told me he can’t stop thinking about the movie and wants to see it again. I’ve never heard him say that about any movie before.
My bf isn’t the kind of dude who would describe himself as a feminist. I actually have to correct him on occasion when he says misogynist shit (he always listens and tries to understand, which is one of the reasons why I love him). He’s a guy’s guy–as in he spends all of his free time doing really stereotypical “masculine” shit. And he lovedMad Max: Fury Road.
I’m sharing this anecdote about my boyfriend in order to point out two things: 1) Regardless of whether or not it is actually a “feminist” film, MMFR is just a really, really good movie. It has a freaking 98% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. That helps convince me that the strong objections of any purported action-film-loving person should be closely scrutinized. Not that it’s impossible to hate it because you just hate it, or to hate it even though you are a feminist. That’s totally possible, and I’m not trying to be the Thought Police here. But there are a lot of people out there who try to disguise their bigotry behind claims that they hope sound more legit, and that is a shitty thing to do. 2) Audiences who have no “meninist” agenda can totally sympathize with and admire a female protagonist, so folks can finally shove all the bullshit about women not being believable action heroes.
All that being said, I do happen to think MMFR is a feminist film, and it’s a gorgeous one at that. I might even call it damn-near perfect. I know I’m a huge dork, and I should probably not be admitting this, but there was a moment during the film that really got in my feminist/womanist feels and made me tear up. The moment itself isn’t emotional enough to merit all that, but what it signifies is really important to me.
MMFR is perhaps the first mainstream action blockbuster I’ve ever seen that not only passes the Bechdel Test, but passes it, leaves the flag-waver spinning in circles, and then goes for another two or three laps around the track. I’ve seen a lot of woman-centered action films (obviously, Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill Vols. 1 and 2 and Death Proof are the first to come to mind–though there are many, many others), but I’ve never seen one that directly criticizes the destructiveness of an unchecked patriarchal society while extolling the might of women and the healing nature of sisterly fidelity. MMFR shows that women on a mission are a force to be reckoned with. As I’ve seen stated elsewhere, this movie isn’t actually about its titular character, Max. It’s about Charlize Theron’s Imperator Furiosa. Max is just along for the ride, and what a fucking bold move it is to push an action icon to the side–in a film named for him, no less–and let a woman both literally and figuratively take the wheel. We accept Furiosa as a warrior without her having to prove herself. The beautiful young women in the film get to do more than just look pretty, and old women and plus-size women also get to be kickass in their own ways. Just the memory of sitting in the theater watching this movie the other night makes my heart beat faster.
All of this, and the movie still establishes itself as a great action film.
What makes it a great action film is also what has earned it a lot of criticism from certain *cough cough* “very disappointed” parties: the fact that it’s chock-full of action. It’s a juiced up fantasy with so many chase scenes, crazy stunts, and explosions that if you blink, you’ll probably miss something–though there’s plenty more action to make up for whatever you missed. Exposition and dialogue are sparse. Imho, this is remedied by the fact that every scene is layered with volumes of painstaking detail, from facial expressions, to gestures, to grunts and murmurs, to costuming and set, to background action and visuals. The acting–especially from Charlize Theron, Zoe Kravitz, Nicholas Hoult, and Hugh Keays-Byrne–is on point (I can’t think of a weak link in the entire cast), and the setting and effects are fantastic. It’s nuanced at times, but it’s all there.
The layers of detail create an exquisitely realized post-apocalyptic world ruled by violence and fear and turned on its head by what can only be described as love. Max’s role is therefore a curiously emotional one–to discover his place amidst the turmoil of conflicting convictions. The sub-society into which Max (and we) are dropped is controlled by brutish men who use religious dogma, armed force, and the exploitation of precious resources to keep their subjects faithful. This is what Furiosa is on a mission to fight, to escape. There’s nothing else to add. We get it. It’s extremely simple and yet the movie still manages to provide viewers with a complete picture. It’s beautiful in that we don’t get sidetracked by the writer/director’s tedious attempts at differentiating the film from other action films by spending chunks of the movie telling rather than showing–a bad habit which Hollywood employs way too often these days.
While I may call the movie damn-near perfect, it does leave a few things to be desired (warning: potential spoilers below):
Furiosa might be a badass character who manages to escape gratuitous sexualization, but the five young wives she is saving–who all look like teenagers to me–are predictably svelte and wear strappy, flouncy garments reminiscent of Leeloo’s bandage bikini in The Fifth Element, if it were reimagined as a desert wedding dress. The wives are first introduced dancing around in a stream of water in a sort of grotesque post-apocalyptic parody of a wet t-shirt contest. A positive is that they are given more agency than other characters in their position would be given; a negative is that their behavior is a tad too coquettish to be entirely believable. They are, after all, on the run from their rapist. Maybe they’re just exercising their sexual agency, but I think the filmmakers just decided that the movie still needed to be sexed up.
On a similar note, I have to bring up my ongoing problem with the backstories of heroic women in film always involving some kind of sexual or reproductive violation by a man or men. Columbiana is the only movie I can think of off the top of my head where a woman seeks retaliation for a reason traditionally reserved for men (the murder of her parents). To change this plot point would be to change the entire nature of the film, but it still bothers me.
Physical disability is utilized as spectacle and is also correlated with weak moral character–even Furiosa’s amputated arm can be seen as being tied with her checkered past. It is nice to see a protagonist with a disability who isn’t obsessed with “fixing” herself, though.
There are hardly any people of color in the entire film. Zoe Kravitz, Courtney Eaton, and Megan Gale are exceptions, but that’s not really good enough for me. Granted, about 90% of Australia’s current population is of European descent, but accuracy never seems to be a problem when giving white people prominent roles in stories set in poc-dominated countries, so I consider that argument to be bullshit. (I mean, also, look at every sci fi movie set 100+ years in the future; all the leads who represent planet Earth are white, when in reality they should all be people of color. Just think about it.)
For all the talk about gender and sexuality surrounding the film, it’s both hetero- and cisnormative. (Okay, I’ve seen the allegation thrown around that the women in the desert are “man-hating lesbians,” so maybe not everyone thinks the movie is 100% heteronormative, but I’m not sure the perception of these women by chauvinistic meninists counts as a win.) This movie isn’t just about some generalized notion of patriarchy. It touches on several second-wave feminist themes, but first and foremost, it’s about the sexual despotism of cis-men in their relationship with cis-women. “We are not things!” is a phrase used more than once. And while the dramatization of that struggle deserves its place in cinema, women’s liberation is about much, much more than just making sure men know we aren’t sexual objects. The thrall of patriarchy is so much more far-reaching and touches so many more people than just pretty, skinny cis women; so MMFR does turn out to be a bit reductive. And I know, I know, one movie can’t and shouldn’t attempt to do everything, but maybe it’s high time somebody tries to at least do a little more.
None of these flaws are surprising, which is unfortunate, but they also don’t keep me from absolutely loving this movie.
Whatever its virtues, whatever its defects, the most important thing about MMFR is that it gives me hope that Hollywood is changing. More and more often when I sit down to watch a movie, I find myself unable to sympathize with the straight white cis male protagonist and unable to tolerate it anymore. I usually end up turning off my TV. Stick a fork in me because I’m done. It just doesn’t make sense, and the longer filmmakers go on privileging one ridiculously specific type of character over all others, the more they reveal what a bigoted, regressive, uninspired, tone deaf industry they are. MMFR makes me believe they are actually capable of progress. More please!
If the “write what you know” credo is true for Cameron Crowe, he must be living a pretty solid life. Films like Jerry Maguire and Almost Famous have deservedly lasted as cultural touchstones, but even then their conflicts seemed pretty inane in the grand scheme of things. It’d be something of an understatement to say that he’s been on a decline over the past decade, since at least the release of the dreadfully vanilla Elizabethtown demonstrated a complete lack of bite that had always been present in his work but only then had reached its apex to a resounding chorus of “who cares?”. It took him six years to follow that up and while We Bought a Zoo wasn’t quite the piteous experience, it remained clear that Crowe had reached a point where his nascent charm had been too buried by sentimental earnestness that aroused as much rolling of the eyes as it did guilty smiles under a veil of confection.
It’s hard to argue that Aloha, his latest picture after another lengthy break, doesn’t continue the trend. Starring Bradley Cooper as a hotshot military contractor who returns to Hawaii after a disastrous setback in order to regain his mojo and respect, Crowe populates the luscious setting with as many pretty white faces as he can find. Emma Stone is the Air Force liaison sent to babysit Cooper’s Brian Gilcrest, Rachel McAdams is his former flame who is now shacked up with John Krasinski and their two adorable children, and even Bill Murray and Alec Baldwin pop in to steal a couple of scenes. While Aloha is (over) cluttered with a dense tapestry of plots ranging from nuclear arms in outer space to mythical Hawaiian legends, there’s always the pervading feeling that none of it really matters because everything will turn out okay in the end. Personal crises may be wreaking havoc on poor Gilcrest, but all you have to do is put on a Hall & Oates song and you can watch Emma Stone and Bill Murray deliver a deliriously entertaining dance sequence to make you forget all of your troubles.
Aloha has been met by some pretty scathing critical responses and I can’t find myself aggressively disagreeing with the vast majority of negatives layered out within them. The plot is absurdly stuffed with a myriad of strands that go nowhere or have no significance, not to mention the fact that the generic rom-com of the Cooper/Stone dynamic clashes against whatever is going on in the weird McAdams/Krasinski/Cooper love triangle, neither of which feels appropriate within the context of the poorly-delivered narrative thrust of the privately funded operation that Gilcrest is managing for Murray’s big wig Carson Welch, sending a satellite into outer space that has nefarious ulterior motives. Crowe jams ten different movies into 105 minutes here, and it’s hard to see how he could have possibly thought that any of them would go together. On their own, they’re hit or miss – the more conventional Crowe trademarks present obvious but nevertheless winning formulas, but the more high concept ideas about outer space are borderline incoherent in their delivery and the attempts to incorporate the drastically under-represented Hawaiian culture are half-baked at best. Together, this script is a catastrophe.
What’s most surprising about Aloha then is that for something as unwieldy, discombobulated and frankly ridiculous as this thing is on paper, for this particular viewer….it actually kind of worked. That’s not to say that I’m unaware of the many flaws that exist within the writing and could understandably drown this thing in a sea of woe for any reasonable viewer, but somehow the charms of Crowe and especially his winning cast managed to push through these heavy obstacles and deliver an experience that kept me smiling through its unreasonable plot calamities. Stone comes on strong and there’s unquestionably a Manic Pixie Dream Girl classification for the way she arrives to fix Cooper’s broken white boy with a heart of gold, but going along with that she has never been this likable or this well-suited for a part. Again, this is something that shouldn’t work on paper (as a multi-ethnic ace fighter pilot, reasonably speaking she is completely miscast), but her charm oozes through every moment and she makes it easy to forget the bizarreness of her casting.
As for the periphery characters, McAdams and Krasinski are stranded in a bland failing marriage subplot that seems to hardly exist within the mainframe of Cooper’s story, but both have a wholesome sweetness that lights up the screen with as much warmth as Eric Gautier’s sun-dappled cinematography. Their children, played by relative newcomers Jaeden Lieberher (the central kid in the also surprisingly winning St. Vincent) and Danielle Rose Russell defy all of the annoying precocious kid tropes, something which Crowe fell full into in We Bought a Zoo, with the latter in particular making magic out of the wordless final scene that could have been uncomfortably creepy in the hands of a lesser performer. And of course, as previously mentioned, Murray and Baldwin bring their trademark styles to tear up the screen in their well-paced appearances. At the end of the day, the smart casting here had a lot to do with making Aloha a wholeheartedly pleasant experience in a way that Elizabethtown was so far from ever being.
While that earlier film was saddled with the charisma vacuum that is Orlando Bloom occupying the lead, Aloha is bolstered by the immeasurably compelling Bradley Cooper who manages to make even the most drastic of character shifts work somehow. Gilcrest is practically, and unintentionally, as bipolar as his character from Silver Linings Playbook, which surely comes off from the fact that the film feels like it was chopped to disfiguration in the editing room (Jay Baruchel’s part was completely cut out), but Cooper keeps the energy up and the laughs coming. He thrives with each and every member of this talented cast, whether it’s the romantic spark that engages between him and Stone or the wordless exchange between him and Krasinski that’s played out with Annie Hall subtitles informing us of their inner dialogue. Everyone within the cast manages to bring something to the table, but it’s Cooper who carries it on his shoulders. Put an Orlando Bloom in that role and it would have absolutely sank the whole picture.
Like many things across the messy chaos that is Aloha, there are several moments within the romantic arc of Cooper and Stone’s characters that will surely make plenty of viewers cringe over how obviously telegraphed and lazily orchestrated they are, but for this viewer there was such a genuine charm and sweetness to it all that overcame the cynic that usually takes control. Call it the Cameron Crowe effect. As far back as his directorial debut Say Anything, he has been taking the most wretchedly sentimental of moments (that boombox scene is iconic in the best of ways when it should have been a disaster) and making them palatable. Aloha is too messy, telegraphed and derivative to ever hit the highs of his earlier work, yet from where I’m standing it is still a step in the right direction and far from the travesty that many have painted it as.
Director: Sidney Lumet. Starring: Paul Newman, Charlotte Rampling, Jack Warden, James Mason.
A friend tipped me off to this one… I hadn’t seen it in decades. Certainly well worth re-watching. The film opens to the sounds of pinball, and Newman’s character is playing a Disco Fever (Williams, 1978) in his favorite drinking establishment…
In a later scene, he does so well that he wins a free game, but alas, cannot play it because he realizes he’s late for an important case meeting with the judge…
Disco Fever was one of the only two machines that had “banana” flippers, i.e. curved (The other was Williams’ 1979 ‘Time Warp’). But I seem to remember playing a hockey-themed machine in the mid-80s with them. Perhaps the operator changed them.
I had absolutely no interest in watching Mad Max. Then men’s rights activists decided to call it out as “feminist propaganda” and call for a boycott. So of course I had to pay good money to check it out, and it wasn’t half bad. Cudos to the creative team for making a solid action film focused solely on women(badass) and I guess Tom Hardy too and the 7 words he says.
Fury Road is just a solid, gorgeous, creative, unique film. Like, if you gotta ignore all the politics and rumors to go see it, DO SO.
It is a FANTASTIC movie; visually, thematically. The soundtrack, omg. The plot twists and surprises and FIGHT SEQUENCES HOLY SHIT.
Everything was incredible and I’m so glad I saw it in a good theater.
GO SEE IT NOW
And if, like me, you were worried about seeing it without seeing the rest of the franchise, Don’t Worry. I know next to nothing about Mad Max and I didn’t need to. I’m sure there were treats and details for long time fans, but you won’t miss a thing if you’ve never seen a Mad Max film.