Wednesday, October 31, 2012


Holy creepiness!  V/H/S opens with a gang of miscreants, who have been given the assignment to retrieve a videotape from an abandoned house.  Upon arriving at the house, they find a dead man sitting in a chair, and stacks and stacks of tapes.  The guys begin watching the tapes.  We watch along with them and see five separate vignettes.  Each short has a different director, and while they're all very different, I did notice a theme - they all involve something going horribly wrong!  A night out on the town to pick up girls, a second honeymoon trip, a walk in the woods, a long-distance relationship, a Halloween party.  Some were better than others - I'd say three of the shorts were decent, one was pretty bad, and one left me confused.  The overarching storyline of the band of thieves breaking into the abandoned house was kind of dumb, too.  But, all in all, V/H/S was a fun scary movie to cap off the month.  6 out of 10.

Damsels in Distress

I really like all of director Whit Stillman's earlier films - Metropolitan, Barcelona, and The Last Days of Disco.  So I was excited for Damsels in Distress.  Damsels is the story of a foursome of college girls set upon bettering their campus by promoting hygiene and preventing suicide (by encouraging dance, no less).  What to do, then, when the group's leader, Violet, falls into a bit of a funk herself?   Start a new dance craze, of course!

Damsels just didn't really do it for me.  I felt like all of the characters were completely improbable and caricature-like.  Watching Damsels, I sort of felt like it was all based on some inside joke that I wasn't party to.  I just didn't get what it was trying to "be."  I guess I have a hard time enjoying a movie when there's no one I can relate to.

So, sorry Whit.  I still love your earlier movies!  5 out of 10.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Slacker Reviews - Halloween Edition

Rear Window
A local theater features a different Hitchcock movie each week during the month of October, so this past week we went to a screening of Rear Window, which stars James Stewart as a photographer convalescing with a broken leg, who is left without much to do except for spying on his neighbors across the way from his back window.  One night, he believes he sees proof that one of his neighbor has murdered his wife, and enlists the help of his lovely girlfriend (Grace Kelly), nurse, and police detective friend.  I really enjoyed it - it was interesting, suspenseful, and funny all at the same time.  The way it was shot was very cool as well.  8 out of 10.

It's true - I had never seen the original Halloween (though I have seen one of the sequels).  Jamie Lee Curtis stars as Laurie, a high school student who spends her Halloween being stalked by a masked bogeyman - Michael Myers, who has just returned to his old stomping grounds after escaping from the mental hospital he's been in for 15 years, after brutally murdering his sister.  Laurie's slutty friends don't fare too well against Mike Myers, but bookish, virginal Laurie just might stand a chance.  I found Halloween funny and a tad cheesy (but mostly in a good way).  It didn't strike me as overly scary at the time, but I did have some crazy nightmares afterward.  7 out of 10.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Shock Around the Clock!

Last weekend PJ and I attended a 24-hour horror movie marathon at a local movie theater.  Well, for braver souls it was a 24-hour marathon; for us it was more like 11 hours.  After 11 hours packed in the middle of a row without much of a view of the screen, and after consuming a sub sandwich, Junior Mints, popcorn, soft pretzel with cheese, and Twizzlers....well, let's just say it was time to go home.  As I said to PJ when we were leaving, I couldn't even fathom sitting there for 14 more hours.  Here are VERY brief recaps and ratings of the films we saw.

The Abominable Dr. Phibes - A doctor returns from the dead to seek revenge on the nine doctors he thought were responsible for killing his wife.  Creepy and pretty gross.  6 out of 10.

White Zombie - A young man wants a beautiful young bride for himself....but instead, she just turns into an emotionless zombie.  I actually feel like I missed big chunks of this movie because the sound quality was so poor, but from what I saw I'll give it a 6 out of 10.

Something Wicked This Way Comes - A demonic circus comes to town, and its diabolical proprietor wants two young boys to join him.  Kinda boring, I thought.  5 out of 10.

Phantom of the Paradise - After record producer Swan steals his music and his woman, a disfigured composer returns to seek vengeance on Swan's Paradise music club and on Swan himself.  Probably my favorite of the day - the story was compelling and the film was pretty funny.  The music was catchy, too!  7.5 out of 10.

Kill List - I actually slept through a big chunk of this because I couldn't really see and was sick of moving my head around based on how the big guy in front of me was sitting.  But from what I did see, a professional hitman leaves his tumultuous family life to take care of what should be an easy hit list, but it's not so easy.  Strange film and I wish I'd stayed awake for it, because the ending part didn't make much sense to me!  I will refrain from rating, since I didn't see the whole thing.

Thursday, October 18, 2012


I get really scared at scary movies.  When we watched Paranormal Activity a couple of years ago, I read a bunch of spoilers online beforehand and then insisted on keeping the lights on while watching it.  So after the reading a couple of review snippets, I was pretty scared to see Sinister, to say the least.  So we decided to go to a daytime showing, in a dine-in theater (I thought the waiters walking around would lighten any especially scary or tense moments).

Sinister centers on a crime writer (played by Ethan Hawke) who moves his family into a house where the prior occupants have recently been massacred, and the youngest daughter gone missing.  Ellison (the dad) discovers some film reels in the attic, and soon after, strange things begin happening.  His kids experience bouts of sleepwalking and night terrors, and Ellison hears noises in the attic, and no matter what he does, he just can't get rid of those film reels.  Basically, something SINISTER is going on (in case you were wondering where the title came from.  I'm here to help, you know?).  Ellison struggles to make sense of the past and present.

I thought Sinister was just OK, and moreover, it wasn't THAT scary.  There were some decidedly creepy moments but the whole film felt like it was building up to something that never really arrived.  Well, it does sort of arrive at the very, very end, but it's really brief, and it's kind of like, "That's it?"  It wasn't terrible but I just felt like it didn't really deliver.  5.5 out of 10.

Saturday, October 13, 2012


Argo is the true story of the risky operation to save six Americans during the Iran hostage crisis in 1979.  As the American embassy was being stormed by militant Iranians, the six American embassy workers managed to slip out unseen and took refuge in the home of the Canadian ambassador.  Ben Affleck stars as Tony Mendez, the CIA specialist who hatches the crazy plan to get the Americans home from Iran - pretend to be a movie crew scouting locations to film in Tehran.  He enlists the help of a makeup artist (John Goodman) and a producer (Alan Arkin) to find a real script (a cheesy science-fiction epic called Argo), draw up storyboards, and basically make the whole thing appear legit. 

I thought Argo was excellent.  It was serious subject matter but the parts involving the prep work of Argo were very funny.  Starting from when Mendez went to Iran to put his plan into action (probably a little bit before the halfway point of the film), I was completely enrapt.  The tone and feel were unbelievably tense.  And the ending had me literally on the edge of my seat - (hint: there IS a happy ending!).  Stick around for the credits, there's some really good stuff!  8.5 out of 10.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Paper Moon

This one has been on the "to be watched" pile for as long as the "to be watched" pile has existed.  Well, it's one of my husband's favorites but I had never seen it, so it was actually in the "Movies that PJ wants Abbie to watch" pile.  We even have an enormous poster of it in our bedroom, so it was time to give it a shot.  PJ guaranteed that I'd give it an 8.

And?  He was right.  Ryan O'Neal stars as Moses Pray, a traveling scam artist of sorts.  He finds an unlikely partner in crime in Addie, played by Tatum O'Neal, a 9-year old whose mother has just died, who may or may not have been his daughter.  The plot didn't necessarily appeal to me, but I actually really liked it.  Their interplay was charming and funny to watch, and Tatum O'Neal was just hilarious.  I refuse to spend anymore time reviewing a classic.  So - 8 out of 10.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Pitch Perfect


Despite making fun of it when we saw the trailer, the hubs agreed to see Pitch Perfect with me if it was over 59% on Rotten Tomatoes.  Well, my friends, it is currently at a very respectable 76%!  Bam.  We went on opening night, in a completely packed theater.  We were a good 10 to 15 years older than most of the crowd, which was also skewed heavily on the female side.  But you know what?  I kind of loved it, which was only in small part due to the large beers I'd consumed before the movie.

Anna Kendrick plays Beca, an "alternative" college freshman who aspires to be a DJ, yet finds herself a member of the Bellas, her college's only all female a cappella group.  The Bellas fell short in the nationals last year, and are extra determined to shine this year.  Good thing they have young Beca to help guide them in a new, fresh direction ;)  I won't bore you with too much of the plot, because let's face it, the plot actually had very little bearing on my immense enjoyment of Pitch Perfect.

Basically, Pitch Perfect was just really, really fun to watch.  I loved the dancing and the singing.  It made me wish I could go back in time to my freshman year of college (holy crap, that was 13 years ago) and join one of the campus a cappella groups.  Apart from the music, I absolutely loved Rebel Wilson in her role as Fat Amy - pretty much everything she did and said cracked me up.  Hana Mae Lee is was also hilarious as Lilly - a very soft-spoken yet deranged member of the Bellas.

I would say that Pitch Perfect is to the a cappella world what Bring It On was to the cheerleading world in the late 90's - cheesy as all heck, but lots of fun to watch.  8 out of 10!

For a Good Time, Call...


Straight-laced Lauren has just been dumped by her boyfriend and fired from her job, and needs a new place to live.  Fun-loving Katie lives in a fabulous apartment but is a little strapped for cash, and needs a roommate.  Perfect, right?  Except Katie is working as a phone sex operator, but not making much money at it.  In exchange for a break on her half of the rent, Lauren gets on board and vows to help Katie turn a profit.  So they strike out together in the phone sex business, and turn a profit they do - and become the best of friends in the process, learning about themselves and each other as they go. 

I thought For a Good Time, Call... was a fun and cute.  It remained funny throughout and there were some absolutely hilarious moments involving the phone sex business.  But at its core, I thought it was a sort of adorable story about female friendship.  It was fun to watch Lauren's and Katie's transformations - Lauren loosens up and sheds her prissy demeanor, and Katie lets her guard down and admits some vulnerability.  All in all - a lighthearted, consistently funny story about the friendship between two young women trying to make a living.  7.5 out of 10.