Sunday, January 10, 2016

Movie Review: The Forest

A new horror movie comes out and I manage to find myself at the theatre.  This almost sounds like your typical sitcom.  The ending is also about what you’d expect.  The draw of getting scared, being surprised, sucks me into the theatre.  After that, I find myself scratching my head as to how a trailer that seemed so promising turned into an unmitigated tire fire.  There is a great episode of Pepper Ann (a 2000’s cartoon) where the main character, Pepper Ann, flames a movie, then is challenged by the director to make her own movie.  She soon discovers how a perfectly good idea doesn’t get executed the way it should.  I wonder if that is what happens to 99% of the horror movies that make it to the theatre.

The story behind this movie follows the connection between twins. One seems to have the perfect life, the other, not so much.  The ‘good’ twin is always saving the troubled one.  At some point, the good twin feels what I can only describe as a disturbance in the force, and runs to her sister’s aide.  The trip takes her to Japan (which, incidentally, who has money to buy a plane ticket at the last second?  Wouldn’t that be several thousand dollars?).  Her sister was last seen in a forest where people go to commit suicide.  The sister finds an American and they work with a forest ranger to go into the forest.  Nothing good happens after that.

On the off chance that you make the foolish decision of seeing this movie, I won’t tell you exactly what happens.  What really happens, in a meta sort of way, is that there are several huge threads to the story, none of which get enough time to be discussed.  There is the main story of the sister being lost in the forest.  There is a secondary story of the past that haunts both sisters (their parents died when they were six).  There is the story of the forest itself and the people who have passed there.  There is the story of the American who helps the good sister.  Nothing really gets resolved and while in some cases, loose ends are compelling, in this case they were just additional distractions.  This movie is utterly disorganized and disappointing given the concept.  It would be a wonderful video game.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Movie Review: The Hateful Eight

There is a certain cadence to Quentin Tarantino movies.  Either you like it or you don’t.  For the most part, I’ve always, at the very least, enjoyed his movies, enjoyed the stories he’s trying to tell.  In many instances, the stories can be overshadowed by gore, though somehow the story still shines through.  While his casts are always eclectic (usually male-drive save for Kill Bill), he still manages a wonderful cross-section of talent that, together, makes the movie jump to life.  I’m not sure I can say that about this movie, however.

The movie is heavy in dialogue.  Many of the early scenes are actors going toe-to-toe with heady conversations, saying more than is being said through the enormous expense of words.  The movie weighs in at a solid three hours and I felt every single one of them.  While it wasn’t putting me to sleep, and I wasn’t as engaged as I could have been, the story still churned along like the little engine that could.  Samuel L Jackson is always a screen-stealer, and he did so with reckless abandon.  At times, I often believe Tarantino wants Jackson to always be over the top, but I would love to see him be a little more subdued.  It might have kept the mystery churning a little longer.  Jackson’s character is basically the same character he played in Pulp Fiction.  As the movie progressed, I couldn’t help but see this with all of his tried and true friends.

The flaw of the Tarantino film is also the strength.  The cast are well acquainted, the director easily understood, that much seems to be missed because perhaps they believe it to be there already.  There were many instances in the three hours where less would have been more.  The undue length of the movie could have made the story better if it had been an hour shorter.  Mr. Tarantino seems to film scenes and movies just for the sake of hearing his words spoken by others, but not necessarily needing those words to further the plot along in a discernable way.  This felt like a sharp contrast to Kill Bill, which seemed to have a brevity of dialogue, letting the actions speak for the characters.  I would never willfully dissuade someone from seeing a Tarantino movie, but this one could be missed with no ramifications.