Month: September 2016

Scanners

Year: 1981
Directed By: David Cronenberg
Written By: David Cronenberg

RYAN’S REVIEW

I’ve owned this movie since college and it’s only now I realize I’ve never seen it all the way through. I saw it for the first time in a college film class when we screened the famous head exploding scene. I was so impressed with the scene I sought out this movie to add to the collection. It seems now I never actually got around to seeing the whole thing.

This is not an easy movie to watch, and barring some interesting parts it really falls short overall. It’s not by any fault of Director David Cronenberg who had his back against the wall. Pressured by deadlines Cronenberg had to start shooting without a finished script and had to manage two feuding stars. For whatever the reason Patrick McGoohan and Jennifer O’Neil did not get along. I can’t recall the two of them sharing any scenes but I’m sure the problem was prevalent on set during shooting.

The hero in this film, Vale played by Steven Lack, is lacking in acting skills. As the hero of the film he simply doesn’t deliver and the part could have been better cast. On the other hand Michael Ironside in the part of Revok is awesome. I have always been a big fan of Michael Ironside, especially as a villain. He’s been acting for almost 40 years and this is the youngest I have seen him in anything. Even in his youth he had a sinister edge that makes him great for playing bad guys.

This movie is all over the place, and that’s part of what makes it hard to watch. The Scanners at times can’t deal with the thoughts of all those around them, at other times they are fully in control. The sudden expansion of their capabilities from human mind control to computer control was an odd change that didn’t work for me. I also thought the weird voice over in Dr. Ruth’s final moments to be a bit odd and confusing. Is he a scanner or are these simply crazy thoughts of a mad man? He suddenly turning out to be the father of both Vale and Revok is a twist I think was produced out of writing the script while shooting. It’s a weak plot twist and all too typical.

This movie is listed as a horror film but more for the shocks and content than any scary element. This one isn’t going to scare you at all or get you in the mood for the season but it’s not without some excitement. There have been talks of a remake for years but it has never materialized. That doesn’t mean it won’t happen though, Hollywood loves refurbishing old horror movies with a more modern twist. This movie probably could be improved with a remake though. The idea is sound and interesting enough albeit a bit of a bore to watch and too anticlimactic.

I don’t recommend this movie as a Halloween season film and I would avoid it if you are looking for a horror feature to watch this season. Despite its few merits it simply isn’t a scary movie and will do nothing to set the tone you are looking for. There are other horror films from David Cronenberg that are undoubtedly better and eventually we may check them out and review something he will be better remembered for. For the most this movie is remembered for check out the video below for the entire scene and you’ve seen all you need to see.

 

Slackers

Year: 2002
Directed By: Dewey Hicks
Written By: David H. Steinberg

RYAN’S REVIEW

This is one of my favorite comedies of all time going back to the first time I saw it in the theater back in 2002. I don’t know why this is such an unknown and unappreciated movie. I have never even met another person who has seen it and I can’t believe that because I sincerely think this is one of the funniest movies I have ever seen. Need I say more than “Cool Ethan???” Jason Schwartzman is flawlessly funny in this movie and makes it a film that deserves more notoriety than it receives.

I was 18 when this movie came out and it was one of the films I built and screened in my part time job at the movie theater. Had it not been part of my job I never would have seen it on my own and may have missed it entirely. It didn’t have a wide release and didn’t even open in the largest auditorium but as I sat in the theater verifying my work I laughed harder than I ever expected. Sometimes a movie can hit you just right and it gives you a feeling that lasts a life time. So far anyway, as every time I watch this movie I find myself loving it as much as I did almost 15 years ago.

I like the trio of Devon Sawa, Jason Segal, and the ginger from The Adventure of Pete and Pete. They are funny and cunning in such an interesting way. They all bring something unique to the table which makes them a well rounded cheating team. I love Devon Sawa’s “seed of doubt” method but it barely comes close to this:

Jason Segal has grown into a well known star but when this came out he was still a relative nobody but you could see he was heading to bigger things. The same can’t be said for Devon Sawa or Michael C Maronna but they both bring something funny to the group. As a taste of their cheating methods I found this little nugget:

Their scheming is fun and humorous but it’s the awkward Cool Ethan played by Jason Schwarztman that really steals the show and takes this movie to another level. He is so weird and confident in unusual ways. Ethan is a stalker of the queerest sort. He likes one particular girl and is so obsessed with her he collects her hair. He is weird in the way that makes you cringe but when he interacts with other characters it is the funniest thing you will ever see. When he catches one of the guys cheating he has all three of them by the balls unless they help him get what he wants. He wants these cool guy schemers to help him get the girl he has been obsessing over, Angela, or he will have them expelled for cheating. I like everything about this weirdo from his mannerisms to his chest hair shaved in the shape of an A. Schwarztman is a really talented actor but this is and always will be my favorite of his roles.

The female that Cool Ethan has his eye on is Angela, played by Jamie King who in this movie is billed as James King. I don’t know why but have always found that to be interesting. She is backed up by Laurie Prepon who was hot at the time for her role in the popular “That 70’s Show” sitcom. Prepon plays the polar opposite to the innocent and angelic Angela and it’s quite funny. They go a bit too far with Prepon in this movie when she has a gimp with her at one point but it still manages to be funny.

This film is criticized as being nothing more than another raunchy teen comedy but I couldn’t disagree more. I don’t even see this as a teen comedy because it is set in college. However, it was released during an era of non stop teen comedies so I think it gets unjustly lumped together with them. It is raunchy but no more than you would expect out of college kids. This movie is more than just some other teen comedy and I have to think that all the haters out there are just not giving it a chance because of preconceived notions. If you sit down expecting the same old same old from an already exhausted genre then that is what you will probably see. I didn’t know what this was when I first sat down to watch it for the first time and it thoroughly surprised me. Knowing it as I do now I still don’t see it as another teen comedy. This is a movie about adults in college and the content reflects that.

I love this movie so much I do not care that nobody else gets my Cool Ethan references. It’s a largely forgotten film, like everything Devon Sawa did, but it is remembered fondly in my household and has a special place in my DVD collection. If I were to rate my favorite movies of all time by genre then this one would easily be in my top 5 for comedies. As far as I am concerned it is right up there with Dr. Strangelove,  and The BirdcageAccording to it’s ratings on IMDB and Rotten Tomatoes there are plenty of people out there that would tell you that this movie isn’t worth your time but they are wrong. This is such a fun and quotable movie. If for no other reason you should sit down to this one simply to laugh at Cool Ethan. This movie is worth your time regardless but Cool Ethan especially makes it worth your time to see.

NEXT MOVIE: Sleepy Hollow(1999)

 

Sleepy Hollow

Year: 1999
Directed By: Tim Burton
Written By: Washington Irving (original story), Kevin Yagher and Andrew Kevin Walker

RYAN’S REVIEW

Our next movie lines up perfectly with the season and it will be where we kick off our month of horror movies for Halloween this year. This is a beautifully gloomy if not fantastic movie. It can set the tone for the season but it will never match up against the classics. It’s a spooky movie that looks great, but it doesn’t have that fear factor that the great horror classics utilize.

This is a fantastic Burton movie but I don’t think it’ll even stand up against others such as Beetlejuice or Edward Scissorhands. He got the look right but I find this to be Johnny Depp’s weakest performance among their collaborations. It’s not all Depps fault, the character of Ichabod is far from cool and hardly the type of character to carry a film.

I get that Ichabod Crane is supposed to be this way but the cowardly character does nothing to enhance the film, even with Johnny Depp in the part. He is so pathetically fearful, at one point even leaping away from a spider. He does nothing to evoke love or admiration and that’s a major flaw. You could argue Depp played the part well but it’s the character that is the problem. There’s no level of awesome or badass within him.

I really like Christina Ricci, but I grew up with a crush on her. I’m predisposed to like her whether she is any good or not. She’s not bad in this movie, but she’s no Winona Ryder.

The rest of this cast is full of regular Burton collaborators and they all help to make this movie really feel like Tim Burton. Depp, Christopher Lee, Jeffrey Jones, Burton’s then wife Lisa Marie, and Christopher Walken. With those guys in tow this movie looks awesome on paper. Burton gets to go wild with his spooky crap. Somehow he managed to miss the mark but at least it all looks good. The pumpkins, scarecrows, fog, and headless horseman give it a perfect Halloween vibe.

The headless horseman is awesome, played by Christopher Walken. He looks sadistic with no head and somehow more fierce with one. Even without his iconic voice Walken manages to be awesome. He has no speaking lines in the movie and that is a good thing. I love Walken’s voice but it would have been all wrong for the character he was playing.

I don’t love this movie by any means but I enjoy it. It is really aesthetically pleasing and it feels so perfect for the season. It’s a fun take on an old classic and they don’t pull any punches when it comes to chopping off heads. I remember when this movie was coming out it was a big deal how many people were losing their heads in this one. It’s not the best movie you can watch during this Halloween season but it’s not a bad one either. If you want something that feels right but isn’t going to scare or gore you then this is a perfect movie to watch.