Day: July 21, 2010

Chasing Katie: Review for “Paranormal Activity”

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There’s little substance or meaning in today’s “found lost footage” or “handy cam” movies. It’s not like the 1970s, where films like Cannibal Holocaust were causing people to practically lose their minds in the realism, or even 1999 where The Blair Witch Project scared audiences into thinking the myth featured in the film was real. But, with films like Cloverfield that stress character development over blood and gore, I suppose that’s better than nothing. Paranormal Activity caters to those who were fans of the characters study kind of film just like Cannibal Holocaust and The Blair Witch Project. Katie and Micah have been living in a house and Katie has been being haunted since she was eight years old.

The point of the film is to witness the documentation of the title, the paranormal activity going in their really nice house. (Trust me; I really doubt they would have that nice of a house). For a film that was made for about $15,000, the film uses good old naïve special effects. This is to say that only one or two of the special effects are convincing. The rest of them, you think “Oh, they must have turned the TV on while they were out of the room” and so forth.

The biggest problem with the film is that it is so very slow. It’s boring, and the pace is nearly glacial. Switching between boring and uneventful night footage and daytime footage in which the actors cry, fight and complain, the film’s pace weighs it down. The storyline isn’t really original, but it doesn’t really have to be. Admittedly, the acting is a tad better in this film than Blair Witch, but it’s not as if we care anymore. It glides slowly from piece of footage to piece of footage, until it bores you to death.

What may have given this film the reputation of being a “smart and scary thriller in the tone of Blair Witch” was the fact that it was a change of pace for most horror movie goers. But that does not constitute it being called a good movie. Without engaging material, it leaves the viewer cold and distanced, a big problem for moviegoers. If you’re looking for a scary and smart movie that’s a balance of commentary and of real thrills, go watch The Crazies.

Note: If you really want to watch this film, I suppose you should stay to the end. Kind of a cop out in terms of filmmaking, the ending was worth watching. Scared me half to death. But this film won’t do to bedrooms what Psycho did for showering 50 years ago.

Grade: C-

Hot Stuff: A Look at “Some Like It Hot”

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I’m sure you’ve heard it before: Some movies, like most wine, get better with age. That is the case with the hilarious and totally brilliant comedy Some Like It Hot, directed and written by Billy Wilder (The Apartment) and starring Jack Lemmon, Tony Curtis, and a comedic turn from Marilyn Monroe. Two men, after witnessing the St. Valentine Day’s Massacre, go into hiding in an all girl’s syncopated band. Joe (Tony Curtis) and Jerry (Jack Lemmon) dress in drag and become Josephine and Geraldine. Joe falls in love with Sugar Kane, the band’s vocalist and ukulele player. Why is this a great film?

For one, it’s still gutbustingly funny after all these years. Released in 1959, more than 60 years later, the film still remains one of the funniest of all time. In fact, the American Film Institute named Some Like It Hot as the greatest comedy of all time. This is thanks to both a great script and a spectacular cast. Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon, admittedly, look quite good in drag and the two trying to act as girlishly as possible (though slightly questionable to a contemporary audience) makes for some of the most memorable scenes in the entire film.

Marilyn Monroe takes on this comic role by the horns, and she does very well. Recognizing and acknowledging her type casting as a “dumb blonde”, she makes it much more than that kind of character. Sugar Kane has heart, flaws, and a lightheartedness that is rarely found in “blonde” characters today or performed so effortlessly.

Personally, the gangster scenes were a little off putting for me, but the overall pace of the film was as smooth as marble. Two hours later and you wonder where the time went. From the get go, you’re given a funny plotline and an intriguing cast. Is it the screenplay that makes the mpocvie feel so smooth, or is it the actors? Is it the direction, by famed Billy Wilder? I think all three are responsible for this wonderful time. Curtis and Lemmon nail their roles, without the characters feeling too fake or too exaggerated. Monroe is a lot of fun in this film, shining like a sparkling diamond (get it?) and singing her heart out.

This is truly a wonderful film. It’s unny, touching, and extremely enjoyable. This film is certainly not a drag!

Grade: A+