Rated C for Cameron

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Horror Movies for Horror Movie Nerds

spooky

Just in time for Halloween, here is a short list of horror movies that horror movie nerds will get a kick out of. They deal with the classic themes common in horror movies. Such as free will, miscommunication, and first impressions. For all of these movies I did not provide a link to the trailer, because I believe that these movies are best seen without their trailers. I will however provide you with the IMDB plot description.


Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon

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“The next great psycho horror slasher has given a documentary crew exclusive access to his life as he plans his reign of terror over the sleepy town of Glen Echo, all the while deconstructing the conventions and archetypes of the horror genre for them.”

Cameron’s Rating: 7/10

Repeat Viewing Quality: 3/5

Available on the Google Play Store for $7.99


Tucker & Dale vs. Evil

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“Tucker & Dale are on vacation at their dilapidated mountain cabin when they are attacked by a group of preppy college kids.”

Cameron’s Rating: 8/10

Repeat Viewing Quality: 4/5

On Netflix


The Cabin in the Woods

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“Five friends go for a break at a remote cabin in the woods, where they get more than they bargained for. Together, they must discover the truth behind the cabin in the woods.”

Cameron’s Rating: 9/10

Repeat Viewing Quality: 5/5

On Netflix


Happy Halloween


“Groovy!”

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In Theaters: Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)

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Have you ever watched a movie that made you question why you were watching it in the first place?

Yes, I have.

Most of the time it’s because a movie is so bad you regret even starting it, right?

Yup, except Birdman.

What do you mean?


Birdman is an achievement. A movie that I am sure people will be watching and analyzing for years to come. After I watched it, my immediate feeling was that it was a 10/10, but I let myself think on it and not come to a decision too quickly. But first impressions are often correct, and this was an example of that.

On IMDB, I have only rated 6 movies as 10/10. This isn’t because I’m a harsh critic, its just that my rating system is different than most. Any movie that I give a 9/10 would be a movie that I label as near perfect, since nothing can be perfect. For me, 10/10 is my most personal rating, it means that the movie was not only near perfect, but was also a movie that changed my perspective on movies and life. I know it sounds pretentious, but its how I do it. And I think the fact that I have so far only given that rating to 6 movies, shows I don’t take it lightly. If it was an option I would rate my 10/10 movies as 11/10 and bring all the other ratings up, but its not.

Now, back to Birdman. I don’t want to say too much about the movie, because I want you all to watch it as fresh as possible. So I will be vague sometimes, but for the greater good.

Like I said, Birdman was not the first time I have watched a movie and questioned why I was watching it in the first place, but it is the first time that that feeling was associated with such a good movie. Often, people use the phrase “meta” very liberally. Using it where the phrase “self-aware” or “breaking the fourth wall” would probably be suited better. Birdman breaks the fourth wall and is very self-aware, but overall it is very meta. Not in the sense that the movie is about the making of itself, but in the sense that its messages are all commentary on film making, acting, and our experience as an audience.

In this sense, it made me question why I was watching it. Birdman made me question a lot of things. Why does a group of people congregate in a dark room to watch moving pictures on a screen that depict fiction? Why do people dream of being on that screen? And why is this one of the biggest businesses in the world? And the best part about Birdman is it is not so conceited to think it has the answers to these questions, it merely provides a better point of view for them.

Two more notes before I conclude:

  1. This movie is one of the greatest portrayals of the realities of theatre (and stage acting) I have ever seen. It rivals only one other movie, one that I also rated 10/10, Synecdoche, New York.
  1. When you watch Birdman I highly recommend that you keep in mind the subtitle of the film. Its full title is Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance). That subtitle, The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance, is one of the most important elements of the film. The use of that subtitle also goes along with the relationship between Theatre and Film explored in the film. Most of the time, especially with blockbusters, the title of a film will be like a very short description of the film itself, just another piece of advertising (for example Back to the Future). While, with a lot of stage plays the title is used as an extension of the message of the play itself (such as The Crucible). So one could see the title of the film, Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance), as the two versions of the title, one reflects the film’s commentary on mainstream films; the other reflects the film’s commentary on theatre.

Just to add a bit of traditional critiquing….

The acting in the film was all on point. Michael Keaton, Edward Norton, and Emma Stone all give performances that are “Oscar Worthy” (to use the parlance of our times). Particularly Edward Norton’s depiction of a “serious” method actor is just sublime.

The film is 95% shot to appear as if it is one shot, and sometimes this leads to transitional shots that might not have appeared if the film was traditionally edited. However I feel like these didn’t detract from the film, and if anything it mimicked the short transitions that sometimes happen in stage plays while the next scene is being set.

I really want people to see Birdman, so that I will have more people to talk to about it. So I recommend if you go and see it you bring as many people as possible, so that you can get as many people’s points of view on it. This is a movie that beautifully allows itself to be interpreted in numerous ways, without being so ambiguous that discussion seems fruitless.


Cameron’s Rating of Birdman: 10/10

Repeat viewing quality: 5/5


Movie recommendations from this review:

Synecdoche, New York

A Blog of Things to Come

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So the last two weeks I have been shirking this blog. This is not good, since I started this blog as a test of willpower, being able to stick with something. So I’m back now, and hopefully I will maintain a steadier pace from here on out. I’m going to keep on with the Sunday to Saturday posts; they do a great job in keeping me active in my writing. I’m also working more and more on video editing, and it is a skill that surprised me with how much I enjoy it. On this Thursday I will be posting a list of movies I feel are perfect for watching on Halloween, so come back here to see that.

Thanks for reading.


PS: In other Cameron News, I just took a look to see how many movies I have rated on IMDB… 387. That’s baffling.

http://www.imdb.com/user/ur55232746/ratings?ref_=nv_usr_rt_4


Sunday(s) to Saturday(s) (Weeks of October 12th 2014 and October 19th 2014)

SUNSAT


I didn’t get around to doing this last week, so I will make up for it by doing two weeks of reviews in this piece. I am also going to start adding a new rating to these reviews, and future reviews: a repeat viewing quality rating, which lets you know if I think is worth seeing multiple times.


John Wick [In Theaters]

John Wick feels like a 90-minute vodka commercial, and I’m okay with that. This movie is stylish and fun, and left me thinking, “Wow, they actually made that movie.” The action was amazing, the acting was just delightful, and the story was too cheesy not to love. Keanu Reeves shows that he is far from irrelevancy, and that he evidently still has the fountain of youth on tap.

Rating: 8/10

Repeat Viewing Quality: 5/5


Psycho (1960)

I know this sounds weird, but this was the first Hitchcock movie I had ever seen. Psycho is extremely enjoyable, but it is impossible to watch this movie without seeing the points where other films have mimicked it. The movie isn’t dated by its content, its dated by its influence. What really made me enjoy this film was how simple it was. I think its reputation made me think it was going to be highly complex and deeply layered, but it was not. It is a short and direct movie, and its worth watching just so you have some more cultural awareness. Rating it was difficult though, should I rate the movie based on its actual quality or by how influential it was? I decided the split the difference.

Rating: 8/10

Repeat Viewing Quality: 3/5


Children of Men

Children of Men is a technical juggernaut. Even those who are not well versed in film making will recognize how impressive the movie is. One can see the sort of natural evolution that Alfonso Cuarón made from this film to last year’s Gravity. However, just like Gravity, technical expertise does not hide a poor structure and writing. Children of Men seems to rely on the idea that an audience will naturally become attached to the story and characters without any reason to. This does not mesh well with such impressive film making, because the inherent knowledge that I was watching a film never once left my mind. But just have to give this movie credit for how amazing the cinematography, design, and sound design were.

Rating: 8/10

Repeat Viewing Quality: 2/5


Gran Torino

While Gran Torino was quite enjoyable while I was watching it, it only occupied space in my head for a little while before it just evaporated. The film is incredibly honest. Its depiction of father-child relationships, race relationships, and the struggles brought about by immigration all felt very real. My problem was that the movie never felt like it knew what kind of movie it was. If it was a movie focusing on race relations it should have spent more time exploring that. If it was a character driven movie it should have had better character insight and development.

Rating: 7/10

Repeat Viewing Quality: 1/5


Edge of Tomorrow

While I kept meaning to go see Edge of Tomorrow while it was in theaters, I didn’t get around to it. While it was in theaters and since then it has taken a shockingly quick journey to cult status. So when I sat down to watch it I didn’t really know what to expect. While I can’t say the film was as incredible as many have said, it was still good. If you have the time, and you want to watch a good film that doesn’t take itself to seriously, then watch John Wick. And after you watch John Wick, watch Edge of Tomorrow.

Rating: 7/10

Repeat Viewing Quality: 4/5


Snowpiercer

I guess I just don’t get it.

Rating: 4/10

Repeat Viewing Quality: 1/5


Sunday to Saturday (Week of 10/5/14)

This will be a reoccurring feature on this blog. Many times I will watch many more movies than I have time to write a full article about. Also, sometimes I will watch a movie that is pretty straightforward and doesn’t really call for a deep analysis. With this in mind, every week (hopefully) I will take time to write a short blurb about the movies I saw for the first time in the last week. So without further ado, here is the first Sunday to Saturday, from Sunday October 5th to Saturday October 11th.


Beowulf

From the time when we were still on the bad side of motion capture movies, its Beowulf! This is a prime example of a movie that I feel doesn’t call for deep analysis, because its source material has already been analyzed so much. From the opinions I had heard about the film, I expected to be completely underwhelmed, but I was not. It was an enjoyable film, and I certainly didn’t feel like I was wasting my time watching it. Really the only major problem it has is the motion capture animation, which dates the film immediately. Almost every time I was watching a scene, I couldn’t help but feel I would rather be watching it in live action. Really the only time I felt it was necessary was with Grendel, played by Crispin Glover, because the character was not human, but a grotesque monster. I wouldn’t recommend the film to everyone, but certainly if you are a Game of Thrones fan eagerly waiting between seasons, this movie feels similar in a way.

7/10


The Raid: Redemption

I think in the future I will write a longer piece on action movies, and in that piece I will definitely be talking about this movie. The Raid was a fantastic action movie. It didn’t fiddle around too much with the outside plot, instead it was pretty much one action sequence after another. As opposed to many action movies that try too hard to push in an unbearable plot into the middle of the action. It’s also a movie that benefits from a lack of major movie stars, because you don’t get those “Well I know Bruce Willis can’t die” moments. This movie was fantastic, and definitely has potential to be watched over and over again. On a side note, I definitely love when movies make a point to give a punch or a kick real impact, as opposed to looking like a pillow fight.

8/10


O Brother, Where Art Thou?

This movie is the Coen Brother’s take on The Odyssey, only if it took place in the 1930s south. The Coen Brothers continue to excel at what they do best, taking horrible situations and making them hilarious. The film had few dull moments, and definitely had a great Homeric vibe. Though, the standout feature of the movie has to be the soundtrack. I had heard for years about this movie’s amazing soundtrack, and it really was fantastic. The Coen Brothers have a great track record with choosing songs for their movies, especially True Grit and The Big Lebowski. The only weakness of the movie comes from the fact that the movie felt like it was slightly hollow. Its message speaks a lot about heart and love; it would have been nice to see more of that in its presentation.

8/10


Tombstone

Tombstone isn’t a cinematic masterpiece, its a lot more Die Hard than The Departed. That’s not saying that that Die Hard is bad, because I would have to be crazy to think that. I’m really saying that Tombstone is not a subtle movie, it’s a fun fest of action and kick-ass dialogue that makes you want do push-ups and play poker for pink slips.”

7/10

Full review:

https://cameronbarrettstewart.wordpress.com/2014/10/10/tombstone/


Gone Girl

“The film displays the same delicacy that I have seen in Fincher’s more recent endeavors (The Social Network, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, House of Cards). The way everything seems so meticulously arranged, on every level of the process, makes for an experience where you don’t want be distracted from it for a second. In a world where so many movies seem superficial, its nice to see reminders that filmmakers can trust the audience to pay attention and think, and not have to state everything for them.”

9/10

Full review:

https://cameronbarrettstewart.wordpress.com/2014/10/07/gone-girl-2/


Want to recommend a movie for me? Leave a comment. Interested in what movies I have seen before? Check out my IMDB ratings page: http://www.imdb.com/user/ur55232746/ratings.

(American) Psycho – Trailer Mashup

Today I watched Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho for the first time, with my movie buddies. I was very familiar with the film already, my parents are big Hitchcock fans and I had recently seen the biopic Hitchcock. Nevertheless the film was quite enjoyable and well executed, although its still too early for me to give my rating.

After watching the film I was thinking about how Psycho compare to the film American Psycho. I had some free time so I decided to do a little project. I took the audio from a fan-trailer of Psycho and combined it with footage from American Psycho into a Mashup of sorts. First, check out the trailer for Psycho that I used for the video. Be advised, both of these videos contain violence.

Now take a look at my mashup trailer.

This was just a fun little bit of editing I did to work on my video editing skills. Hopefully in the future I will be doing more videos of movie analysis and things of that sort.

Tombstone

“Why Ed does this mean we’re not friends anymore? You know Ed, if I thought you weren’t my friend… I just don’t think I could bear it!” -Doc Holiday (Tombstone)


Directed by George P. Cosmatos, Kevin Jarre (uncredited)
Written by Kevin Jarre

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The more Westerns I watch the more I realize that this genre is just too much fun to be lost to history. I mean, I think I could watch footage of horse chases for hours on end and never stop enjoying it. However, it was a genre that I generally ignored for a long time, and it was the Coen Brother’s True Grit that piqued my interest in the genre and The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (which was like a Shakespearean tragedy in the West) that made me realize how much Westerns have to offer. I plan to watch a lot more Westerns in the future, so if you have any suggestions, please let me know.

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The film Tombstone first caught my attention with its poster. Four mustachioed gunmen clad in black walking towards the camera, with Kurt Russell leading the pack. The image was just to cool to ignore, and Kurt Russell is always fun to watch. Despite the general criticisms of Tarantino’s Death Proof, Kurt Russell as Stuntman Mike was amazing. So I couldn’t wait to see Kurt Russell as Wyatt Earp kicking some outlaw ass, but it was really Val Kilmer as Doc Holiday that brought this movie up to a whole new level. Now, I know that Kilmer hasn’t had the best luck with movies over the course of his career, though one could blame Batman Forever for that. In fact the only movie that I had seen with Kilmer before Tombstone was Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, which is a great movie and Kilmer was really fun in it. Kilmer, in Tombstone, delivers a performance that I can only equate to Heath Ledger as The Joker. The rest of the cast was a grab bag of some phenomenal actors, like Sam Elliot, Bill Paton, Charlton Heston, etc. Just check out the IMDb cast page and see what I mean (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0108358/fullcredits?ref_=tt_cl_sm#cast).

Tombstone isn’t a cinematic masterpiece, its a lot more Die Hard than The Departed. That’s not saying that that Die Hard is bad, because I would have to be crazy to think that. I’m really saying that Tombstone is not a subtle movie, it’s a fun fest of action and kick-ass dialogue that makes you want do push-ups and play poker for pink slips. Which makes my major problem with it so much of a bigger problem.

In order to explain what I mean, I’m going to draw a comparison that may be a bit odd. Rest assured it will make sense eventually.

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In 2010 a movie called Morning Glory hit theaters. In Morning Glory, Rachel McAdams plays a TV News Producer charged with the task of trying to save a struggling morning news show. The film is forgettable and if you wanted to watch it I suggest looking in the $2 bin at Best Buy. It wasn’t terrible, in fact in the interactions between Diane Keaton’s veteran morning news host and Harrison Ford’s grumpy serious news anchor were some great little moments.

What really sunk Morning Glory was an unnecessary love story. While Rachel McAdams is giving it all she’s got to save that struggling morning show, she has a love interest trying to win her heart. The whole thing is so useless that if you look at the Wikipedia plot summary, only five sentences in the five-paragraph summary even mention the love interest. The film’s plot is about the success or failure of this morning show, not her love life.

And this is where Tombstone suffers at the expense of almost the same issue. A love interest wasn’t needed. I could hardly call it shoe horned, because Tombstone is based on actual events. But the film makes no attempt to try and make the love interest be a vital part of the story. Wyatt Earp arrives to town with his opiate addicted wife, and he soon meets a free-spirited actress who never wants to settle down, he is smitten, but she wants to be free and live off of room service and he isn’t sure about that life. It doesn’t sound half bad on paper, you know except the part where Wyatt starts pushing away his addiction-afflicted wife. If Tombstone was some sort of Western Romance Drama it might even work, but it isn’t and it doesn’t. All of the stuff that makes Tombstone good comes from the story of a group of retired earnest lawmen that must saddle up once more to rid a town of a gang of outlaws. But these two sides of the plot have no effect on each other. I was waiting for some sort of intersection between them, but it never came. On top of that, the writing for the free-spirited love interest was dire; it was like the writer was taking pages out of “Writing a Free-Spirited Love Interest for Dummies.”

I don’t want to go on and on about it though, because Tombstone, even with its issues, is a really fun movie. One that I can see coming back to again and again, especially for Val Kilmer’s remarkable performance. I would love to see him make a comeback to better roles, similar to Matthew Mcconaughey’s McConaissance.

So like a… Valnaissance?

No!

A “Val”iant Return?

No!

A “Kilm” Back?

Please Stop.

Ok


Cameron’s Rating for Tombstone: 7/10


PS: Patrick Wilson, an amazingly underrated actor, played the love interest in Morning Glory. Watch Hard Candy and The HBO miniseries of “Angel’s in America” to see examples of his better roles.


What I listened to while writing this:

Weird Al’s Album Mandatory Fun

Weezer’s Album Everything Will Be Alright In The End

The score to True Grit (2010)

Nth Degree  – Morningwood

Movie Recommendations from this review:

True Grit (2010)

The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford

Death Proof

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang

The Dark Knight

Die Hard

The Departed


“I’m your huckleberry…” – Doc Holiday


As always, feedback and suggestions make me happy

Gone Girl

Directed by David Fincher
Written by Gillian Flynn
Based on the novel by Gillian Flynn

GoneGirl

I have been an enormous fan of David Fincher ever since 13 year-old me snuck a copy of Fight Club from my sister’s room and watched it on a 7 inch TV. Before Fight Club, movies had been only superficial pieces of entertainment to me. I had never thought about the potentially deeper messages of the movies I had seen. But Fight Club was a movie that challenged my young mind and even [GASP] tricked me! All of the sudden I had grasped the concept of the unreliable narrator. Now movies were not superficial to me, they were nesting dolls. Since then I have seen every David Fincher movie, except The Game (on my watch list) and Alien 3 (not on my watch list). As a fan, I am comfortable saying that Gone Girl is certain to please you if you are a fan of Fincher, and also possibly sicken you. Rest assured, no spoilers.

The film displays the same delicacy that I have seen in Fincher’s more recent endeavors (The Social Network, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, House of Cards). The way everything seems so meticulously arranged, on every level of the process, makes for an experience where you don’t want be distracted from it for a second. In a world where so many movies seem superficial, its nice to see reminders that filmmakers can trust the audience to pay attention and think, and not have to state everything for them. At the same time Gone Girl doesn’t place its hints with such difficulty that I felt like I was being intentionally misled. And the cherry on top of the whole movie is it’s incredible score, done by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, who also did the scores for Fincher’s The Social Network and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.

When it comes to my opinion of the acting, I was never taken out of the movie by a bad performance. Although some characters, for example Amy’s Parents, seemed like they were being intentionally made to seem exaggerated. I could have done without this, considering the fact that the majority of the characters were shown to act very naturally, but it never detracted from the film. Any fear I might have had over the acting talents of Ben Affleck were quelled by this film. I admit at times I was carefully watching to judge his acting, and not once did he “mess up.” Rosamund Pike as Amy Dunne was simply amazing; it’s very rarely that a character feels so real to me. Her performance was of the same caliber of other contemporary “greats” like Daniel Day Lewis, Meryl Streep, and Kevin Spacey. It was only upon writing this review that I remembered that Pike had played Sam in The World’s End, and even now it’s hard to place that character alongside Amy in Gone Girl.

Carrie Coon, as the twin sister of Ben Affleck’s character, was also a standout. The interplay between the two characters was fantastic, and completely believable as brother and sister. And, in case you were wondering, Tyler Perry did just fine, although I kept hoping for him to break out into a little Madea (Sarcasm.)

Immediately after seeing the film I felt like a second viewing would be tough (the film was very emotionally draining), but as I reflect more, I really cannot wait to go back and see this movie again.

Cameron’s Rating: 9/10


What I listened to while writing this:

Istanbul (Not Constantinople) – They Might Be Giants

Gone Girl Score – Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross

Movie Recommendations in relation to this review:

Fight Club

The Social Network

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

The World’s End


If you have any movies that you want to recommend for me to watch or review leave a comment for me and I will get right on it ASAP.

“Time Enough At Last”

6. whoops-337Burgess Meredith in an episode of The Twilight Zone

Hello all,

This an introductory post to just explain myself a little. With my current daily life I have time to watch about two movies a week. I mean a completely devoted viewing with no distractions. Then, depending on how much time I have, I can write reviews for these movies. So you should expect 1 to 2 reviews a week. My current plan isn’t to go back and review movies that I have seen many times, rather to watch movies I have never seen and write about them. So sometimes you will get reviews on movies that are still in theaters, and sometimes reviews on movies that are years old. Of course if I get a request to write about a movie I have seen before, I wouldn’t turn it down. I will also do the occasional “Top Ten” type of list.

Thanks for looking at this.

“Good morning, and in case I don’t see ya, good afternoon, good evening, and good night!”-The Truman Show