The Final Girls: when a freak cinema fire leaves Max and her friends stuck inside a slasher movie she finally has a chance to re-connect with her dead ‘scream queen’ mum. The premise of the film is fantastic, allowing the movie to play with every trope from the classic slasher pictures: stock characters, language/dialogue, sounds, flashbacks, on-screen text and so on. It even gets the tiny details right, like how the ‘teenagers’ from the old film are older than teenagers. Like the original slasher films, every character is stock and all of the actors slot in to their roles perfectly; the sexed up girl’s Adderall-fueled Cherry Pie striptease was the highlight of the film for me. Director Todd Strauss Schulson handles both sides of the story with care (70s/80s era slasher nostalgia + modern cult/horror fandom) and the film looks absolutely fantastic with crazy-vibrant colours, tons of very striking visuals, and great camerawork – it sounds like a low blow, but it’s too well-made when compared to the films it’s homaging. The Final Girls is fantastic love letter to the great slashers of the 1980s; it’s great fun to watch, looks brilliant, and it can stand tall alongside recent postmodern horrors like of Tucker & Dale and Cabin in the Woods.
Green Room: when they witness a murder in a remote neo-nazi music venue crusty-punk band “The Ain’t Rights” have to fight their way out. It’s the sort of weird blurb that you’d expect from a shitty B-Movie, but this one is anything but that. The setup is a great portrayal of the Punk/DIY scene and touring life in general; whereas the main chunk of the film switches to a tense, claustrophobic cat-and-mouse thriller as the band are trapped, and the balance of power inside/outside the room shifts back and forth. The final act changes gears yet again into more of a generic hillbilly survival horror story; yet keeps up with the breath-holding, seat-grabbing set pieces. The film is littered with moments of ultra-violent ultra-gore; limbs being slashed, people being gutted, graphic gunshot wounds… which are offset with some wonderfully wicked black/morbid comedy moments; like fighting off a dog with a mic stand and getting ridiculous feedback from the PA system. Visually, the film is very slick and the director skillfully keeps the majority of the runtime confined to a the small, grotty, bar: unsurprisingly, all of the green colours have been popped out, giving it a vibrant – almost neon – wash. The entire cast is solid; it’s a great turn by Yelchin in one of his final roles, and it’s fantastic to see someone straight like Patrick Stewart play a proper ruthless peesashit baddie. Green Room exceeds all expectations for a film with its niche plot, and is handled exceptionally by the cast and director, creating a solid and effective thriller.
List of bands mentioned / referenced: I’m sure there’s more!
Fugazi, Dead Kennedys, Dillinger Escape Plan, Misfits, Black Sabbath, Simon and Garfunkel, Prince, Madonna, Slayer, Iggy Pop, Minor Threat, Distillers, Dare to Defy,
Arrested Development (Season 3): Michael Bluth is still trying to keep his dysfunctional family together – and they’re doing their best to screw everything up. This series coasts a little more on the established gags like the Bluth lessons (why you should always leave a note!), rather than creating new ones; some old plot-lines and characters are also written back in to beef up the story. Because it was the last scheduled season, the final few episodes felt obligated to tie-up the loose ends like the Iraq “light treason” court case, cousin love etc – which was good to see, but feels more forced than the usual completely unrelated antics. Once again the two stars of the show are the cast and the writers – you just don’t get it this good on both sides very often. As you’d expect, Season 3 is still great TV, but it doesn’t feel as fresh or funny as the first two series – the episodes aren’t quite as tight, or packed with jokes, and some of the bigger laughs stoop down to things like rude language (pussy/fags) and retards; which previous seasons didn’t need to fall back on. However, those niggles are minor, and Season 3 ensures that the show remains one of the greatest comedies of all time.
Arrested Development Season 1 Review
Arrested Development Season 2 Review
Arrested Development (Season 2): with George Bluth on the run, the family must march on without him, and Michael must keep the Bluth Company – and his family – under control. This is my third time watching through AD and in reflection it’s so obvious why a show like this was destined to fail on TV. The biggest problem is that the running gags are subtle, and would be easy to miss if there were 7 days (let alone weeks) between the episodes. With the DVDs however, you can bash through a season in a few nights and really appreciate the fine writing. In saying that, S2 tries to address this by having clusters of jokes that are confined to an episode; like the ‘Charlie Brown’ slow walking, Gene Parmesan, etc. The biggest step up for me is lot more brilliantly timed physical comedy: chicken dances, face pulling, slipping, and Mrs Featherbottom’s spectacular Mary Poppins moment. Once again the brilliant ensemble cast of comedic actors does great things with well-written characters. This should be mandatory viewing for anyone that enjoys comedy TV – almost a decade later and it still puts most shows to shame.
“I just blue myself”
Arrested Development (Season 1): when the CEO of the Bluth Company gets jailed for fraud (and light treason), one son must step up and take charge while the rest of the dysfunctional family try to get back on their feet. This is an absolutely explosive combination of fantastic writing, stellar casting, and perfect comic acting / timing. The 20 minute episodes are so tight and neat – not a single word is wasted, and everything is relevant to the plot or character development, to be used somewhere down the line. For a comedy, every main character is funny, well-played and developed over the season. And, for something this upbeat and watchable, it’s remarkably dense, layered, lean & efficient. Arrested Development is the holy grail of comedy; fun for casual, first-time viewings, but rewarding for repeat viewings as you’re able to pick out more and more running jokes, themes and catchphrases. Unmissable comedy.
Cedar Rapids: when ‘Brown Star’ (the best joke in the film) Insurance’s top sales guy dies they have to send a sheltered nerd to the regional insurance conference to win the prestigious “two-diamond” industry recognition. It’s billed as a ‘hilarious’ comedy, but let me break this down for you; John C Reilly is funny, Anne Heche is semi-funny, nobody else is funny at all. On paper, this is a great idea: a bunch of insurance nerds ripping it up at a corporate weekend – but it’s just not done correctly. A character from The Wire makes several references to The Wire, for no real reason – and the way everyone talks to each other is ridiculous, as if a child wrote parts of the script. Worst of all, not a whole lot of the jokes are funny – it’s definitely humor, not humour! The direction, look and feel are all classic American Indie – in the vein of Win Win, Away We Go, The Informant! – but it’s nowhere near that level. It feels like a studio said to a director “we’ve got this film that needs to be made, get all your friends on it”. As far as “Fish out of water” stories go, this could have been amazing, but the execution just isn’t there.