Sunday, September 30, 2012

My Month in Movies...September 2012

Total Movies Watched: 11

Coming Soon!

Up in the Air [2009] dir. Jason Reitman
Up in the Air Poster

Beasts of the Southern Wild [2012] dir. Behn Zeitlen
Beasts of the Southern Wild Poster

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Useless Clatter...October Horror Special [and My Defense for the Best Holiday Ever]

There comes a time every year, as the leaves turn a new hue and air becomes crisp, when we must finally admit that summer has come to an end.  Of the four season, Fall tends to get the short end of the stick, usually best identified as the end of good old summer and the onset of a seriously cold winter (depending on where you live of course.)

And Fall is generally not a special time for movies either.  The summer season's blockbuster have all released, and most of the Oscar-worthy flicks don't come out until Christmas time.  So there tends to be some time to kill for cinephiles.  Fall TV is just o.k. and I have never meet someone who consciously awaits the Emmys. [Did those already happen?]  But I personally hold nothing against Fall.  It happens to be my favorite season for a number of reasons, and the biggest reason growing up was the coming splendor of Halloween.  

I always considered myself a pragmatic kid growing up.  Sure I loved Christmas just like any other little Catholic kid, but Halloween was always the best holiday and the reason was quite simple- candy, and lots of it.  What Halloween had [has] over Christmas was the simple guarantee of hundreds and hundreds of sweet and neatly wrapped little gifts.  As long as you were willing to hike around the block for a few hours in a dorky mask, you would be rewarded with a pillowcase full of candy, regardless if you had been naughty or nice.  Santa and his elves could never promise that.  The only thing I could guarantee from him was a new pack of underwear, socks and a toothbrush.  I never new what else to expect, if anything more.  Maybe another Nerf gun, but what if it wasn't the cool one that everyone else had?  With Halloween I never had a growing fear that I would open my pillow case full of candy and find 500 Almond Joys.  

Unfortunately to this day, I no longer enjoy the chocolaty bliss of trick-or-treating.  It is sad, yes, and if it was socially acceptable for a 21 year old to go door to door and ask for candy would I go out there and do it?, you bet I would.  But its not socially acceptable  so I have to get by other ways.

So as we soon reach the month of October, I write this not just to prove that Fall doesn't completely suck and that Halloween is better than Christmas, but to present the ensuing month-long celebration here at FILMclatter.  All posts of the month of October will be devoted to the horror season's best and certainly worst movies, past and present.  From delightful treats like Psycho and Jaws to some tricks like Basket Case 2, no horror movie, good or bad (or even really really bad) is out of discussion.  Sure its not the most original movie blog theme for October but what could be sweeter, and without a pillow case full of candy, its all I got to chew on.  

Sunday, September 23, 2012

The Killer B's...The Food of the Gods [1976]

The Food of the Gods is already an elite B-movie for two reasons:

1. It is an adaptation from an H.G. Wells story
2. It was nominated for an award that wasn’t a Razzie, more specifically the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films’s Best Horror Film of the Year award (rightfully beat out by The Omen)

If the movie 2012 reaffirms to us that our greatest apocalyptic fear is an array of giant, global warming induced mega-disasters, one can only assume the great apocalyptic fear of the 1970s would have come in the form of giant man-eating farm animals and monstrous, bloodthirsty mice.  Then again, you can’t believe everything you see in the movies.  We'll have to wait and see if 2012 and the Mayan prophecy hold true come December 21st.

In their original form, B-films came to life through low budgets, short schedules and flimsy morals. Every so often you’ll come across a director who wants to make a tacky horror movie about giant, bloodthirsty mice while trying to insert a social commentary about man’s disregard for the environment. I have a feeling the end result never pans out to the initial intentions.

Case in point with The Food of the Gods.

What on Earth?...The Food of the Gods [1976]

              posted for THE CAMP & CULT BLOGATHON hosted by SHE BLOGGED BY NIGHT

Watching The Food of the Gods reaffirmed the notion that anyone, anyone can not only make a movie, but make a giant-animal-apocalypse movie for that matter.  CGI is overrated.  All you really need is a few dozen mice and some Lincoln Logs.    

This is just one of those things where an explanation is far too bizarre to leave with only words.  In the age of computers, its easier than ever to grab a few screen shots and let the movie do the talking.  And that's exactly what I've done.  What you'll find below are a handful of my favorite captured moments from Food of the Gods. Hopefully it will convince you to watch the movie and experiene this disarray in real time, or better yet, inspire the creation of your own man-eating farm animal movie.

These are giant, man-eating mice.  Those are real people in a normal sized Jeep.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Reel News...First Trailer for Spielberg's Lincoln [2012]

This season's most talked about movie that's not titled The Master, film fanatics and historical junkies alike recently got their first glimpse into the upcoming movie Lincoln.  Spielberg's film becomes the second one this year to center on our 16th President.  Unfortunately in the upcoming biopic,  President Lincoln will not be wielding an axe and hunting down vampires.  On the plus side however, he will be portrayed by two-time Oscar winner Daniel Day-Lewis, so that should help fill the vampire void a bit.  The movie also boasts a number of other top notch actors like Tommy Lee Jones, John Hawkes, Sally Field and Joseph Gordon-Levitt, so we should have no problems with the acting here.  And with some folks already wanting to hand Lewis his Academy Award after this trailer, it seems no surprise that all the focus is on him, as it always is with any DDL performance.

But this interest should not be all about the Oscars.  I'll admit due to my busy schedule this summer I could not find time to make it to go see Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter and as a result this trailer marks the first time I have ever seen Honest Abe portrayed cinematically.  Heck, it will be the first time I ever seen the guy move.  Like any other historical figure, our memory is served best by how ever many portraits and paintings they were willing to sit through.  Tall and stiff, slightly angled one way, I could hardly imagine George Washington doing anything other than standing that way.  To me, he has not other expression.  Lincoln is the same way, though the advent of photography during the mid-1800s offers him a bit more variety.

Watching the trailer, it seemed almost as if Spielberg knew that notion of mine and toyed with the idea.  The first time we see Lincoln it is from behind- along with the second and third times as well.  Like I have always imagined, he just sits there pondering as Congressman yell into his ears telling him how to end the war.  Almost a minute goes by before he says anything at all.  Finally when he gets the chance, his words are riveting, nothing short of fascinating- just as I would try to imagine.  Though I hate starting Oscar rumors before Thanksgiving at the very earliest, Lewis certainly shines in the brief glance we're given so I will agree for now that a third statue is not entirely out of the question.  The nomination is a gimme.

And I can see Lincoln racking up a few more nominations and acclaim outside of Lewis' acting.  Even last year's War Horse, a good not great Spielberg movie, grabbed six nominations and plenty of love from the critics.  I would think Lincoln has a stronger force behind it, but only time will tell. 


Monday, September 17, 2012

After Thoughts...Touch of Evil [1958] (no spoilers)

                         "Oh Mexico"

When looking back on any movie directed by Orson Welles, one's thoughts are almost always overpowered by a fascination for his meticulous and almost suave directing style.  Touch of Evil is no different and if anything, this one of his films boasts probably the single most famous piece of camerawork in Welles’ career and the history of film.  As memorable as that swooping tracking shot maybe, it holds no further discussion here as it fits all too well into another category. And as I look back, I am happy things worked out this way because had it not, the following topic would have been ignored completely.

Coming in at a close second to Welles' fine camerawork in my after thoughts of Touch of Evil would be the delightfully pomp original soundtrack composed by Henry Mancini.  Often considered the last true noir film, Touch of Evil defined itself by how it differed from the great noirs before it, felt clearly through its score.  Bent on an unsolved crime filled with seedy villains, corruption, and cops smoking cigarettes, Touch of Evil is a true and timeless noir.  But what sets this one apart from all the others is its location.  Touch of Evil is one of the few noir films to not take place in Los Angeles, instead departing south from the incumbent high rises and dark alleyways of the big city in favor of a small border town known as Los Robles.  

Friday, September 14, 2012

One Long Look...Touch of Evil [1958]

In one of the final interviews given before his death, Orson Welles stated, "I started at the top and worked down."  Part of that is true.  Welles could never match the success f he had with Citizen Kane, directing the masterpiece at only 25 years young.  Having a long and substnaitla directing career after Kane, Welles ' films were always met with cuts and re-edits by overarching producers and the success that came  seemed always second-rate.  Nowadays, Welles is considered one of the greatest directors of all time.  His intricate and innovative style filled with marvelous crane shots lends him the title of Hollywood auteur.

Second to Citizen Kane is Welles' 1958 crime thriller Touch of Evil in which we find one of the most famous shots in the history of film.  Touch of Evil opens with a marvelous three minute tracking shot that creates suspense that no other single take has ever matched.  Starting with an extreme close up of a bomb, the camera swoops up and about the city streets amongst the passing cars and pedestrians caught up in the glittering nightlife of this small border town.  The camera follows the fateful couple in the loaded car while introducing our leading man and his wife, all in one shot.  Welles took up an extraordinary task with this one shot alone, the result affirming his legacy beyond Citizen Kane as one of the great American directors of film.