[Friday the 13th] Friday the 13th Part III (1982)

 

Director: Steve Miner

Cast: Dana Kimmell, Tracie Savage, Richard Brooker, Paul Kratka

Screenplay: Martin Kitrosser, Carol Watson

95 mins. Rated R.

 

Happy Friday the 13th. Today, we’ll look back on the third film in the horror franchise, Friday the 13th Part III. You may recall this entry being the first major film in its time to be shot in 3D. The previous major release 3D film from Paramount had been 1954’s Ulysses, so the gimmick had pretty much run its course (funny for me to say as it appears to be happening again right now). Heck, even the opening credits are in 3D, a trippy and very 1980s sequence of reds and blues.

Technically taking place on Saturday the 14th, the film picks up just following the horrific events of the previous film as Jason (Richard Brooker, Deathstalker, Deep Sea Conspiracy) continues his weekend long trek of vengeance over the death of his mother. Today, he comes across Chris (Dana Kimmell, Lone Wolf McQuade, By Dawn’s Early Light) who has had a run-in with the slasher before. In fact, Chris has come back out to her family’s cabin to get over the horrific memories of what happened. Her estranged boyfriend Rick (Paul Kratka, Blood Was Everywhere) tries to comfort her, but he is left unable to understand her pain. As Jason begins picking off Chris’s friends one by one, the young woman is left to her own devices to defeat the masked monster.

The problem with this sequel from Steve Miner (Halloween H20: 20 Years Later, Day of the Dead) is that his and his production team’s focus is all on the gimmick, and it is used rather poorly. Instead of focusing on using the 3D to enhance the story, the filmmaker chooses to employ the gimmick to show yo-yos and juggling…

Because of the 3D, the film doesn’t get to focus on the character development, and the movie suffers. Many performers acknowledged that other factors were more important than…acting.

This film is iconic for one major moment in the creation of Jason’s most important look: the hockey mask. There are several versions of the story of how it was found and used, so I won’t go into any of that.

The film has several callbacks to the original two films as it was seen as the closing chapter of the trilogy. For example, the character of Abel was created to envoke Crazy Ralph. There are murders in the film that callback those from the other films. In many ways, the film was created to close the trilogy. In fact, it’s almost become the middle of a trilogy consisting of Part 2 and The Final Chapter. All three films exist on the same weekend and create an interesting Jason trilogy that stand out from the other entries.

Friday the 13th Part III is a fun movie because it doesn’t take itself seriously. This movie by no means is good, but this is the first installment that really knows what it wants to be, embracing the campiness and being equal parts scary and fun, a formula that would later be perfected in Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives. It also began the tradition of filming sequels under the title of a David Bowie song (this one being Crystal Japan). Friday the 13th Part III is fun. Stupid fun. But fun nonetheless.

 

2.5/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

 

For my review of Sean S. Cunningham’s Friday the 13th, click here.

For my review of Steve Miner’s Friday the 13th Part 2, click here.

[Happy 5th Birthday!] We Need to Talk About Kevin (2011)

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Director: Lynne Ramsay

Cast: Tilda Swinton, John C. Reilly, Ezra Miller

Screenplay: Lynne Ramsay, Rory Stewart Kinnear

112 mins. Rated R for disturbing violence and behavior, some sexuality and language.

 

Wow, I love it when I can watch a film knowing nothing about it and be absolutely floored. That’s what happened with today’s choice, We Need to Talk About Kevin.

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Eva (Tilda Swinton, Adaptation., Hail, Caesar!) is a troubled woman, a woman haunted by her past and the memories of her son Kevin (Ezra Miller, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice), a troubled boy who took great pleasure in upsetting his mother. Eva’s husband Franklin (John C. Reilly, Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, Guardians of the Galaxy) either cannot see him for what he is or chooses not to, placing the blame on Eva. But is Eva to blame, or is there something horribly wrong with their son?

We Need to Talk About Kevin is a strangely beautiful film that plays with some horrifying themes. It is at times visceral, unnerving, irritating, and exhilarating as it plays with viewer emotions and expectations. Tilda Swinton gives one of her most real and tragic performances of an already terrific career here. She is matched on the playing field by Ezra Miller, known for playing strange and nuanced characters. Here, he ratchets the tension up to eleven and owns his scenes with a command that would rival most other performers. His is an upsetting and unsettling performance, but in the best possible way.

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We Need to Talk About Kevin is a character piece, mostly relying on Eva, and this is her film to shine. Swinton does so and is aided by Miller and John C. Reilly in a rare but always welcome fully dramatic performance. Director Lynne Ramsay displays the sorrow and pain of Eva just as well the actress does, and so the film is deeply saddening, not for the faint of heart. Though it may run on a bit too long, this is one of those films that you must see, even if only once.

 

4/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

Gael Garcia Bernal is the new Z! Z Stands for Zorro! In the Future!

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Alright, some strange news here.

Actor Gael Garcia Bernal, known for the critically beloved Y Tu Mama Tambien, has now joined the upcoming Zorro reboot, currently titled Z, to be directed by Jonas Cuaron.

Here’s the kicker: Z is set in the future as opposed to the past.

I’m going to be honest here, this sounds stupid. At that point, why even call it a Zorro reboot when it very clearly is an original (and wholly stupid sounding) film that takes elements from Zorro. That’s like calling Avatar a Dances with Wolves reboot. This whole premise is just sad and disappointing.

On the bright side, the people who have read the script have called it quite good. Do I trust those people? Not really.

I honestly don’t know what to think here. I like Bernal. I even like the young Cuaron (who assisted his father with Gravity). But this is not starting out well for me.

What do you think? Is Z going to be the next big thing? What’s your favorite strange reboot? Let me know!

 

-Kyle A. Goethe

Russell Crowe Makes Me Feel Better about The Mummy

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For those of you living under a rock, Universal Studios actually made a name for themselves back in the 30s, 40s, & 50s for their horror movie monsters. So much so that creature features like Dracula, Frankenstein, The Wolf Man, The Mummy, and The Creature from the Black Lagoon all exist under the title Universal Monsters. Universal was most well known for these pictures that have now become classics in film. Recently decades have proven to be less successful in terms of Universal’s monster films. Their recent slate has felt like action films badly disguising themselves as horror films.

Films like The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor, The Wolf Man and Dracula Untold have not given fans much to get excited for. But now, Alex Kurtzman is bringing a new vision of the Universal Monsters to light with a Cinematic Universe of creatures, similar to the MCU. It is important to note that the Universal Monsters were quite possibly the first cinematic universe with films like Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man and House of Dracula where multiple monsters came together to tell stories. The first installment (though some have counted Dracula Untold as the first, this is still uncertain), The Mummy, is lensing right now. It stars Tom Cruise and the project just recently added Russell Crowe as Dr. Jekyll (an interesting character to add to a story that never featured him), so it would seem like they are putting the wheels in motion to get this franchise up and going.

Not only was the addition of Crowe exciting, but the actor recently spoke to Collider about the tone of the story, remarking that it will “seriously scare the shit out of you.”

That’s what I like to hear, I think so often that Universal believes that the monsters put asses in the seats, but it has always been the tone first, and that tone hasn’t been right in some time. Now it seems, with Kurtzman at the wheel, that we will finally be seeing what we want from this franchise.

What do you think? Are you excited for The Mummy and the Universal Monsters cinematic universe? What’s your favorite creature feature? Let me know!

 

-Kyle A. Goethe

[Star Wars Days] Revenge of the Sixth…SNL Auditions

 

Hey everyone, I wanted to end our Star Wars Days celebration this year with some fun. My favorite spoof of Star Wars, in fact. Years ago, Saturday Night Live did a sketch outlining auditions for the original Star Wars featuring Kevin Spacey in a number of different impersonations. I present it to you here, now, and for the hell of it. Enjoy!

 

*okay, I couldn’t find the entire video. If someone out there finds it, please link it here. I do have a few snippets though, so enjoy!

-Kyle A. Goethe

[Star Wars Days] Return of the Jed-Five…[Throwdown Thursday] Legends vs. Canon

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Hey folks, welcome to Throwdown Thursday on this, the second day of Star Wars. In Throwdown Thursday, I’ll be taking a look back on major conflicts in the world of entertainment, and I thought I would tackle a biggie today by comparing the recent conflict in Star Wars from fans of the franchise young and old.

So in October of 2012, Lucasfilm was officially sold to Disney with Kathleen Kennedy running the show in place of George Lucas who had passed the company onto her. Between Disney and Lucasfilm, a group was created to discuss and define what the canon is and should be going forward. Previously, Lucas had a pretty open invitation for people to add to the mythos and it left a sprawling and detailed universe to jump in and in fact, starting with the Expanded Universe was scary. It was daunting and convoluted at times, too. There were even the occasional plot hole created by so many hands in the bucket.

After 18 months of deliberating and decisions, Lucasfilm wiped the slate clean, eliminating all the Expanded Universe (now termed Legends) and establishing a simpler canon that can be controlled by a committee that would construct continuity based on the plans of the company and the franchise.

So, here is the breakdown of Canon:

1. The live-action feature films are canon.

                –The Phantom Menace

                –Attack of the Clones

                –Revenge of the Sith

                –A New Hope

                –The Empire Strikes Back

                –Return of the Jedi

                –The Force Awakens

2. The Clone Wars movie and television series, including all six seasons, as well as the Rebels television series, are canon.

3. All books, comics, and expanded media released after April 25, 2014 are considered canon unless (in the case of video games) they conflict with the films or higher level canon, which likely won’t happen too often.

So why all the hubbub about Canon? What’s the big deal? Well, it shapes the way this series is heading…

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FIGHT

LEGENDS vs. CANON

Legends: There are pros and cons to each. Legends already has a gigantic universe built so there are multiple levels to branch out and do stories. Legends also has a giant fanbase who were excited to see some of their favorite stories becomes Star Wars films. The faults? The Star Wars Legends fanbase pails in comparison with the regular Star Wars fanbase and the general movie-going population. Plus, the convoluted plotlines made for difficulty in adapting the series in any feasible way. Also, it is far more difficult to tell an interesting story when you have to obey every rules, plot point, and character set in stone by someone else years ago with no intent to build a new trilogy.

Canon: It is simple and easy to make a committee oversee the new canon and help align it with franchise plans. Star Wars is massive, and it can continue to thrive under a creative team who drive the story path. Cons? They pissed off a lot of people with the elimination of Legends. People that wanted their Star Wars. People that would have been angry either way but especially angry now that their beloved stories are gone.

Overall, there are equal points on either side…but there has to be a winner here.

 

THE WINNER:

Legends was a really cool and expansive world, but not one wholly accessible by the general population who likely didn’t know the further adventures of Luke, Han, and Leia. Canon is a streamlined way to tell a story and will keep the franchise running for years to come.

CANON is the winner.

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Thanks for joining me today, Happy continued Star Wars Day, and we will see you for the next throwdown!

-Kyle A. Goethe

[Star Wars Days] May the Fourth Be With You…Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi (1983)

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Director: Richard Marquand

Cast: Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Billy Dee Williams, Anthony Daniels, Peter Mayhew, Sebastian Shaw, Ian McDiarmid, Frank Oz, James Earl Jones, David Prowse, Alec Guinness

Screenplay: Lawrence Kasdan, George Lucas

131 mins. Rated PG for sci-fi action violence.

  • Academy Award Winner: Special Achievement Award for Visual Effects
  • Academy Award Nominee: Best Art Direction
  • Academy Award Nominee: Best Sound
  • Academy Award Nominee: Best Effects, Sound Effects Editing
  • Academy Award Nominee: Best Music, Original Score

IMDb Top 250: #72 (as of 4/21/2016)

 

Another year, another excuse to celebrate Star Wars. Hey everyone. Today we are taking a look back on the only Star Wars film we haven’t talked about yet, Return of the Jedi.

Han Solo (Harrison Ford, Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark, The Age of Adaline) is still in the clutches of the vile Jabba the Hutt. As Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill, TV’s Regular Show, Scooby-Doo! Moon Monster Madness) and company hatch their plan to rescue him, the Empire is slowly working on the creation of a weapon more powerful than the original Death Star. Darth Vader (James Earl Jones, The Lion King, The Angriest Man in Brooklyn) and his master, Emperor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid, Sleepy Hollow, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels) oversee the final touches on the weapon and a final confrontation is set into motion uniting father and son in an epic battle as the fate of the galaxy hangs in the balance in this final film of the original Star Wars trilogy from director Richard Marquand (Jagged Edge, Eye of the Needle).

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Originally titled Revenge of the Jedi (but then later renamed as Jedi do not take revenge), Return of the Jedi is solid conclusion to the original trilogy. By tying up the remaining plot threads very expertly set up in the previous two films, Return of the Jedi makes an argument for being one of the best installments of the series. The performances from our main three stars are great, the confrontation with Palpatine is filled with excitement and dread, and the redemption of Lando Calrissian (Billy Dee Williams, Batman, The Lego Movie) doesn’t feel overtly forced. The creature effects ranging from Yoda to Jabba the Hutt and Salacious Crumb (yeah, look it up) are pretty amazing for the time period.

That being said, a true Star Wars fan knows his faults, and I have few…

The use of cutsie-ing the series with Ewoks seemed like an odd choice. Not really bad, but definitely odd.

The film spends a bit too much time on Endor. Just saying.

And it contains the one frustration I truly have with the Special Editions (the removal of Yub Nub, I didn’t mind the added scene in its place, but could we not get one freakin’ Yub Nub???)

Now, back to the positives. The entirety of the opening act on Tattooine? Amazing! Perhaps the best piece of storytelling in the film!

The sound, effects, and score? Cannot say enough greatness, especially about John Williams and his ability to craft new pieces with every film that add to the mythology and create a richer musical vocabulary. Just incredible.

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So, all in all, as I continue on my Star Wars Marathon, I was happy to take a pit stop on Return of the Jedi. The film is often thought of as the weakest of the original trilogy, but I think that is more of a testament to how terrific this series is. Were we not destined to have more films, I would have been more than content at this final chapter (I’m not against more, though, so please continue to deliver, Lucasfilm).

 

4/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

For my review of George Lucas’ Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace, click here.

For my review of George Lucas’ Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones, click here.

For my review of George Lucas’ Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith, click here.

For my review of George Lucas’ Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope, click here.

For my review of Irvin Kershner’s Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back, click here.

For my review of J.J. Abrams’ Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens, click here.

[Harry Potter Day] [Oscar Madness Monday] Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (2001)

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Director: Chris Columbus

Cast: Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson, John Cleese, Robbie Coltrane, Warwick Davis, Richard Griffiths, Richard Harris, Ian Hart, John Hurt, Alan Rickman, Fiona Shaw, Maggie Smith, Julie Walters

Screenplay: Steve Kloves

152 mins. Rated PG for some scary moments and mild language.

  • Academy Award Nominee: Best Art Direction-Set Decoration
  • Academy Award Nominee: Best Costume Design
  • Academy Award Nominee: Best Music, Original Score

 

Happy Harry Potter Day, everyone! Why is today Harry Potter Day? Well, for diehard fans of the series, today coincides with a major battle that took place that, for spoilery reasons, I will not completely jump out and discuss. I imagine some of you have yet to read or see all of the story, and that may be why you are reading, so I will let you get there in good time. No matter…

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Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe, Trainwreck, Victor Frankenstein) doesn’t have a great life. His parents are dead. He lives with his dreadful Aunt Petunia (Fiona Shaw, The English Teacher, The Tree of Life) and Uncle Vernon (Richard Griffiths, Hugo, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides) in the closet beneath the staircase of their home. All that gets turned upside down when an onslaught of letters arrive at the home for Harry and a towering behemoth named Hagrid (Robbie Coltrane, Brave, Arthur Christmas) arrives to tell him that he is a wizard, just like his parents before him. Harry’s world quickly changes around him as he discovers that he is a wizard of legend, is whisked off to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, gains new friends in Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint, CBGB, Charlie Countryman) and Hermione Granger (Emma Watson, Regression, Noah), and learns of a new enemy in He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, a dark wizard with a terrifying connection to Harry.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone had a hell of a task to accomplish. A film and series with this much scope had not been attempted in some time if ever. Director Chris Columbus (Pixels, Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief) had a lot on his plate. So when I tell you that this first film in the eight film saga ranks as the seventh best, don’t let me stray you from my appreciation of it.

Working with child actors isn’t easy, especially when you have so many. Columbus had been praised in the past for his ability to work with children and get the most from them. The three main stars were still pretty new to acting, and they don’t give bad work, but it is clear from later entries that they were to make leaps and strides as the series continued. Thankfully, they are aided by a top notch supporting cast like John Cleese (A Fish Called Wanda, Planes), Richard Harris (Gladiator, The Count of Monte Cristo) and John Hurt (V for Vendetta, Hercules) to help add strength and impact to their scenes.

The screenplay too had some difficulty in narrowing down exactly what was important. At the time of release, there were only four books published of the seven books planned. J.K. Rowling was very helpful in plotting out the series trajectory with Warner Bros., a fact that saved several plot holes through the filmmaking journey. Sadly, though, the film feels bloated at times and Columbus doesn’t direct it but merely meanders through it, spending too much time on trivial moments that slow the movie down.

Columbus also looks back on the visual effects, which are rushed but not to the point of ruining the movie. He learned a lot about handling such a big budget and vowed to hone his visual effects for the follow-up (a fact that I laughed at when noting some of the other issues that the director seemed to have missed).

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Still, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone is looked on more critically because of how great the series would become by its end, and the film itself is a triumph in many ways, showing fans and newcomers alike that movies can still leave one with a sense of awe. I absolutely love watching this series and harbor no ill will towards its more humble beginnings, because it is still an enjoyable experience by all.

 

3.5/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

[Happy 75th Birthday!] Citizen Kane (1941)

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Director: Orson Welles

Cast: Orson Welles, Joseph Cotton, Dorothy Comingore, Everett Sloane, Ray Collins, George Coulouris, Agnes Moorhead, Paul Stewart, Ruth Warrick, Erskine Sanford, William Alland

Screenplay: Herman J. Mankiewicz, Orson Welles

119 mins. Not Rated.

  • Academy Award Winner: Best Writing, Original Screenplay
  • Academy Award Nominee: Best Actor in a Leading Role [Orson Welles]
  • Academy Award Nominee: Best Picture
  • Academy Award Nominee: Best Director
  • Academy Award Nominee: Best Cinematography, Black-and-White
  • Academy Award Nominee: Best Art Direction-Interior Decoration, Black-and-White
  • Academy Award Nominee: Best Sound, Recording
  • Academy Award Nominee: Best Film Editing
  • Academy Award Nominee: Best Music, Scoring of a Dramatic Picture

IMDb Top 250: #67 (as of 5/1/2016)

 

Wow, 75 years. Hard to believe that Citizen Kane, named by many as the greatest film of all time, is 75 years old. A classic by many means, I took the opportunity today to re-experience this film again and showed it to a couple of first-timers in the hopes of teaching them something about the history of film, and I got to witness this film again as if for the first time. Here we go.

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Citizen Kane covers the death of Charles Foster Kane (Orson Welles, Touch of Evil, F for Fake), a now reclusive businessman and public figure, and a man trying to understand the mystery surrounding him. Jerry Thompson (William Alland, Revenge of the Creature, The Deadly Mantis) sets out to interview Kane’s family and estranged friends to unearth the meaning behind his last words. As Thompson uncovers more and more of Kane’s past in an effort to understand the man, he finds a shocking tapestry of sadness and a man who pined for power but found himself none the happier for it. From firsthand accounts by Kane’s second ex-wife Susan Alexander Kane (Dorothy Comingore, Prison Train, The Big Night), his closest friend Jed Leland (Joseph Cotton, The Third Man, Shadow of a Doubt), and business partner Mr. Bernstein (Everett Sloane, The Lady from Shanghai, Someone Up There Likes Me), Thompson finds more questions than answers in his attempt to find the mysterious Rosebud.

Director, star, and screenwriter Orson Welles delivered his first feature film with Citizen Kane, a movie that slipped into obscurity after initial release only to late resurface due to praise from French critics. Though it was nominated for nine Academy Awards, it only won for its screenplay, a top notch work from Welles and Herman J. Mankiewicz.

The idea of opening with a newsreel covering the finer points of Kane’s life really helps to contrast the public view of Kane with the truth Thompson discovers later on. The film becomes a mystery of its own, not just for Rosebud, but for the myth behind the man.

Welles’ first picture also holds the distinction of having mostly newcomers to the filmmaking process, or those without much background, and much like the more recent direction from filmmakers like Quentin Tarantino, Welles displays his cast for the screen, allowing them time to fully explore the character and give a nuanced performance. I’m speaking particularly about Welles himself, Cotton, Sloane, and Agnes Moorehead (TV’s Bewitched, The Magnificent Ambersons), who played Kane’s mother in an early flashback.

Some of the viewers I introduced to Citizen Kane kept asking the same questions. What makes this the greatest film of all time? I had to answer that much of what they were seeing had never been done before and pioneered the filmmaking process. The music, storytelling with framing device, and gorgeous cinematography tackled new frontiers, many of which are still used today, but we take them for granted now.

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Citizen Kane is an excellent example of how to tell a story in Hollywood. It remains one of the most intellectual and beautiful films of all time. Welles was given freedom to do whatever he wanted and have final cut, an ability few have ever been given. He chose to tell the story of a titan, a mogul, based in part on the life of William Randolph Hearst, but in many ways, the film transcends even that to present a stunning portrayal of regret, sadness, and guilt that carries through even now. I suggest this film to anyone looking for a step into the history of filmmaking.

 

5/5

-Kyle A. Goethe