The Best Scene in Movie History

There is a lot to say about the sequels to John Carpenter and Debra Hill’s original Halloween film. Some good things. Some bad things. But every blue moon we are graced with something truly special. Good? That’s arbitrary. What this is… is cinema

Happy Halloween!

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THE COUNSELOR and the Birth of Ridley Scott’s New Age Ferocity

The filmography of Sir Ridley Scott comes with an abundance of critical acclaim. Occasionally, even the lesser received films like Kingdom of Heaven get a lengthened shelf life thanks to extended director’s cuts that help flesh out narrative and thematic purposes. Scott is a director whose work presents itself with visual splendor and sharp production design that drip with atmosphere. The most common complaint in spite of all this is how, for all their technical strength, Scott films can feel cold. Not merely the look of them but in how they portray people. Lo and behold, when Ridley Scott makes his least accessible film to date, The Counselor, it is unsurprisingly spurned by the masses. And yet, the critical lambasting didn’t allow Scott to miss a beat.Continue reading “THE COUNSELOR and the Birth of Ridley Scott’s New Age Ferocity”

DUEL: Spielberg’s Man and the Elements

Duel is a film directed to near perfection, its technical efficiency meant to highlight on the “experience” rather than have its logistical details parsed out. It’s something elemental, like the villainous vehicle crawled out of the dirt of the seemingly endless California desert that has served as a tomb for so many other drivers. The telephone lines might as well be crosses in a graveyard. What can man do against such rudimentary construct of primal rage? It’s Spielberg’s Texas Chainsaw Massacre. His Earth-Jaws. With so many attempts at bringing in a “proper” third Terminator film, we may as well reconvene and name Duel the secret prequel in the tale of man vs. machine.Continue reading “DUEL: Spielberg’s Man and the Elements”

ANNIHILATION: States of Change

Change is a scary thing. Evolution in our brain’s synapses, physical growth or decay as part of our natural human state, succumbing to our surrounding environments or circumstances. Alex Garland’s Annihilation continues his career long fascination with closing people off from an outside world and turning them into something else entirely. This can be found most prominently in his directorial work, Ex Machina and his unofficial directing credit on Dredd, but it’s also a thematic through-line on his writing work from 28 Days Later to Sunshine. His writing puts protagonists with a problem through metaphorical meat-grinders with few moments of solace. A viciousness that permeates every line of dialogue until the closing frames. His protagonists look back on the experience as something horrifying but something that made them ultimately stronger. But Garland has found another angle in his directorial work. What if he put them through severe changes in Ex Machina and Annihilation, and it wasn’t clear whether or not coming out the other side was any better? What if our perception of change was fluid and our understanding of it was void?Continue reading “ANNIHILATION: States of Change”

GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY: VOL. 2 & Structure Through Emotion

“I’m gonna make some weird shit.” 

It’s a hilarious revelation Chris Pratt’s Star-Lord offers as he realizes his true potential as a possible God (little “g” on the days they’re feeling humble). I like to imagine this line was also the mentality behind the pitch writer/director James Gunn made when he told Marvel Studios about his plan for the second adventure of the Guardians. Not content with simply world-building, this new story focuses on building the characters.Continue reading “GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY: VOL. 2 & Structure Through Emotion”

BATMAN RETURNS: Twas the Dark Knight Before Christmas

Batman Returns might be a terrible adaptation of the caped crusader. Forsaking the comic book origins of a man who will not kill, Tim Burton’s sequel to the cinematic game-changer delves further into a heart of darkness. Though this iteration comes at the expense of individuals who have had their humanity taken from them by status in Gotham’s economical hierarchy.Continue reading “BATMAN RETURNS: Twas the Dark Knight Before Christmas”

MIAMI VICE: Heavy Skies & Fabricated Identity in Media Res

In the original Miami Vice (1984 – 1990), mood and atmosphere were favored over conventional plotting to justify a meditative state. The 2006 adaptation followed suit, but rather than display its presentation on traditional 35mm film stock, director-writer Michael Mann opts to capture the fabric of aughts Miami with an experimental digital look. The heavy noise of early digital continues the trajectory Mann dabbled with during the filming of Collateral and Ali. The immediacy has an almost fourth-wall breaking quality; our eyes recognize the images as something authentic, but everything within the audio/visual frame informs us of its alien nature; a heightened but tangible view of a world just outside our own.Continue reading “MIAMI VICE: Heavy Skies & Fabricated Identity in Media Res”