The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus

January 10, 2010

Terry Gilliam’s latest flick, The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, follows a modern day traveling theater troupe lead by the immortal Dr. Parnassus (Christopher Plummer). The group travels London staging performances and encouraging their audience to enter their own fantastic imaginations by stepping through a magic mirror located in the center of the stage.

The group is poorly received by its audiences until the introduction of the troupe’s newest member, Tony (Heath Ledger). Tony’s arrival could not have come at a more opportune time as the mysterious Mr. Nick (Tom Waits) has also returned to collect on a centuries old deal between himself and Parnassus. A new wager is hatched with the soul of Parnassus’s beautiful daughter, Valentina (wonderfully played by Lily Cole) as its prize.

This wager sends the group on a frantic quest complete with frequent stops to the surreal landscapes composed from the characters’ imaginations. Read the rest of this entry »


Yeti: The Giant of the 20th Century

January 7, 2010

Last night I had the pleasure of viewing the worst movie I have ever seen. I issue this proclamation only after spending the past 24 hours trying to think of a worse film. Thus far, all attempts have been futile.

I thoroughly enjoyed The Psychotronic Film Society of Savannah’s screening of the 1977 Italian monstrosity, Yeti: The Giant of the 20th Century by Gianfranco Parolini. The film’s unintentional badness reaches a level of hilarity reserved only for 30 year-old B-movies.

The film’s plot is basically King Kong with a Yeti replacing the big ape for legal reasons. At least the film makers want you to think it is a yeti. In actuality, it is more of a 6 story tall hippy with feathered hair and a disgusting hairy body suit. After scientists find this bearded behemoth frozen and adrift in the artic, they decide the only respectable thing to do would be to thaw the big fellow out with flamethrowers and then bring him back to life by taking him 10,000 feet up in a helicopter and sending electric shocks to his brain until he wakes up. I am going to proceed as though I see nothing wrong so far. Once back to life he does what any respectable giant hairy creature would do; he goes on a rampage and mistakes a young human woman for his mate. Read the rest of this entry »

2009 Savannah Film Festival Student Competition

November 6, 2009

This year’s annual juried Student Film Competition featured 11 selected submissions from across the nation. The diverse group of films ranged from animated comedies to live action dramas, each representing the best of the best among student work.

A total of 4 animated films were screened, each boasting an incredibly distinctive animation style and executed on a professional level. The 7 live action pieces are just as diverse. I found their differing narrative approaches refreshing, including the outright rejection of traditional narrative structure flaunted in The Earth in the Air.

Barring a few notable exceptions, the casts are quite superb. This holds especially true for the young cast of Magellan. Christopher Hobgood’s portrayal of Magellan trumps the quality of child actors often seen in many major motion pictures, let alone student work. Carmen Argenziano’s work in Farewell to the Sparrow, as well as the entire cast of Quality Time, should also be noted for their admirable performances. A number of the student entries feature a cast composed of professional Hollywood actors. Read the rest of this entry »

2009 Savannah Film Festival Animation Competition

November 4, 2009

This year’s professional animation competition boasts 7 diverse films with some striking similarities. Visually, The Mouse That Soared, Pigeon: Impossible, and Skylight share the most in common, being similar in style to a CGI Pixar movie. ÈIkorja An’ Kafe (Chicory ‘N’ Coffee), on the other hand, is a CGI film with a radically different aesthetic. The character designs are notable, appearing to be carved from wood, while still managing to maintain a cartoonish feel.

Gerald’s Last Day is a stop motion animation with a limited use of traditional 2-D techniques. The stop animation was enjoyable, despite a few visible wire armatures showing through the clay.

I Am So Proud of You juxtaposes traditional 2-D animation with photography and live action film, creating an indescribable visual experience. The only other 2-D short, Horn Dog, displays a sketchy, colored pencil aesthetic. Read the rest of this entry »

Law Abiding Citizen Answers Complex Sociopolitical Questions with Explosions

October 21, 2009

During a violent home invasion by Darby (Christian Stolte) and Ames (Josh Stewart), a bound and gagged Clyde Shelton (Gerard Butler) is left to watch helplessly as his wife and daughter are callously murdered. After the random, violent attack, Clyde has to deal with the case’s prosecuting attorney Nick Rice (Jamie Foxx). Nick would rather cut a deal with rapist/murderer Darby than see the case go to trial and jeopardize his win percentage. As a result, the vicious Darby gets 3 years while his partner, Ames, gets the death penalty.

The film picks up 10 years after the attack, as Ames is finally being executed for his part in the Shelton murders. What should be a painless lethal injection instead turns into a horrific and agonizing death. Discovering that the administered chemicals have been tampered with, the police set off on a man hunt for Darby. Nick decides to tag along with police, apparently to keep his character active in the plot. Read the rest of this entry »

Zombieland Delivers Action, Gore, and Plenty of Laughs

October 5, 2009

Set in a stereotypical zombie-infested post-apocalyptic wasteland, Zombieland follows a group of survivors with severe trust issues. Referring to one another by city names, the unlikely group heads off across the country.

The film’s protagonist, Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg), is on a journey back home to search for his parents. The socially awkward youth has thus far managed to endure his hostile situation by a strict adherence to his list of survival rules. These rules are used to great comedic effect as they periodically appear as text on the screen.

By chance, our hero meets the loner Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson), who reluctantly agrees to allow the cowardly Columbus to hitch a ride with him. Tallahassee is a likeable good-old-boy with a penchant for zombie killing. Not only is he good at it, he revels in it; often forsaking his gun for more personal and unconventional weapons such as a banjo or a bat. In fact, Tallahassee’s unnatural love of zombie killing is matched only by his devotion to locating the last of the Twinkies. Apparently in Zombieland, the tiny snack cakes are more elusive than survivors. Read the rest of this entry »

Sci-fi Murder Mystery Blends Stirring Plot with Shoddy Visuals

October 1, 2009

Do you remember the 2003 abomination Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines? It was so bad that the franchise has since officially ret-coned the film’s events. Well, the film’s creative team has decided to give sci-fi another go; director Jonathan Mostow reunites with writers Michael Ferris and John D. Brancato (both of whom also wrote the unwatchable 2004 Catwoman) to adapt the comic book Surrogates to the big screen.

The film depicts a future in which humans interact using robotic counterparts. These surrogates enable their users to experience all of life’s sensory input from the safety of their own home. The users face no danger as the customizable surrogates can be damaged or destroyed without harm to their operators. This technology has revolutionized war, destroyed racial boundaries, and caused crime rates to plummet.

Unfortunately, not all is well for FBI Agent Greer (Bruce Willis) in this “utopia.” Greer feels trapped by this system of “life.” Most importantly he misses his wife Maggie (Rosamund Pike), who refuses to leave her room except through her surrogate and denies Greer entrance. This, needless to say, puts a tremendous strain on Greer and his marriage. Read the rest of this entry »

A Quirky, Comedic Twist on Horror

September 20, 2009

After receiving critical and commercial acclaim, Academy Award-winning writer Diablo Cody has chosen to follow her 2007 film ‘Juno’ with a sexy teen horror comedy. You may remember the film’s director, Karyn Kusama, from her work on the 2005 travesty Æon Flux. Sounds terrible, right? Well, you may be surprised.

The film begins with Anita “Needy” Lesnicky’s (Amanda Seyfried) institutionalization. Through her narration, the viewer learns of a string of horrible events that have landed the aggressive, foulmouthed girl in an asylum.

The bulk of the film takes place prior to Needy’s confinement, back when she was merely the nerdy, even-tempered sidekick of the popular and libidinous Jennifer Check (Megan Fox). The two have been best friends since an early age and have remained so despite their glaring differences in demeanors. Read the rest of this entry »

All Luster and No Substance

September 13, 2009

Writer/director Shane Acker makes his debut to the big screen with the CGI film, 9, based off his 2005 Academy Award Nominated short film of the same name.

The post apocalyptic film follows a group of 9 pint-sized creatures sewed from burlap and bits of metal and wood. With humanity destroyed, these remaining stitchpunks spend their days scavenging the wastelands and avoiding the terrifying abomination known as The Beast.

The story begins as our tiny hero, 9 (voiced by Elijah Wood), awakes only to find his creator dead. With no reason to stay, the curious 9 sets out into the mind-bogglingly rendered waste land. He eventually finds another like him; an eccentric little old burlap man named 2 (voiced by Martin Landau). This friendship is cut short by the prompt introduction of The Beast, a feral feline composite of metal and bone. 9 is mortally wounded in the confrontation and forced to watch helplessly as his only friend is carried off into the wastes. Read the rest of this entry »

Rob Zombie’s Sloppy Seconds

September 7, 2009

With three successful horror films under his belt, House of 1000 Corpses, Devil’s Rejects, and Halloween, writer/director Rob Zombie is no stranger to the horror genre. Sadly, Zombie’s familiarity with horror wasn’t enough to keep him from repeating some of the genre’s most commonly made mistakes.

The film starts with a painfully acted scene in which young Michael Myers (Chase Vanek) is visited by his mother (Sheri Moon Zombie) in Smith’s Grove Sanitarium. Unfortunately, Vanek’s replacement of Daeg Faerch from Zombie’s previous Halloween is but the first of many disappointments. The movie picks up mere moments after the apparent death of Michael (Tyler Mane) at the end of the last film. Scout Taylor-Compton reprises her role as Laurie Strode as she is whisked away to be hospitalized after her encounter with Michael. She awakens to find Michael is not dead, nor is he done with her. A chase ensues within the long empty corridors of the conveniently understaffed hospital. Read the rest of this entry »