Spooky Shows For Halloween 2017

This Halloween is on a Tuesday. So unless you planned to go to a party this weekend, it is just going to be another boring weekend in October. In order to stay in the Halloween spirit, here are some suggestions of some newer spooky shows to watch this weekend.

Netflix:

Stranger Things, Season 2 — if you haven’t watched the popular Netflix show Stranger Things yet, it’s never too late to start. Season 2 is just in time for Halloween, so grab the popcorn and binge watch season 1. Season 1 starts out when a young boy vanishes and a small town uncovers a mystery involving secret experiments, terrifying supernatural forces, and one strange little girl.

Gerald’s Game – A woman whose husband dies of a heart while she’s handcuffed to the bed is stuck in a remote lake house with no hope of rescue. She begins to hear voices and seeing strange visions.

1922 — A farmer pens a confession admitting to his wife’s murder, but her death is just the beginning of a horrifying tale. Based on Stephen King’s novella.

Movies:

Jigsaw — Part of the popular, gory Saw series. Jigsaw is back. Bodies are turning up, each having met a unique demise. As the investigation proceeds, evidence points to one suspect: John Kramer, who has been dead for ten years.

Happy Death Day –– This movie is more fun than it is scary. So if you are light-hearted and not a fan of horror movies, this will be the Halloween movie for you. A college girl relives the day of her murder over and over. It is like the movie Groundhogs Day only with a terrifying twist.

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) – SATURDAY ONLY at 9:30 PM. The classic horror movie The Texas Chainsaw Massacre will be on the big screen again for the 40th anniversary of the film.

Go to https://www.cinemark.com/north-texas/cinemark-texarkana-14 to get tickets or https://www.netflix.com/ to start watching!

Review – Annabelle: Creation

October is known as the month of ghosts, goblins, and other paranormal phenomenon.  What better way to celebrate, than watching a scary movie, such as Annabelle: Creation.

Though the remake of Steven King’s classic, It, has gotten a lot of attention, the creepy clown has nothing on Annabelle.  In Annabelle: Creation, written by Gary Dauberman, a former doll maker and his wife had lost their 7-year-old daughter, Annabelle, in a horrible accident.  A demon, posing as Annabelle, preyed on the couples vulnerable state.  Desperate to see or speak to their daughter again, the couple unknowingly gave the demon permission to inhabit their daughter’s doll.  Years later, thinking the demon had gone, the couple allows a young nun and six orphaned girls, to stay with them in their farmhouse.  The horrors that awaited the girls were unimaginable.

Annabelle: Creation was released in theatres on August 11, and grossed over $301 million worldwide.  The film had relatively positive feedback from critics.  The average critic rating was 6.1/10 stars.

I completely agree with the critics.  Annabelle: Creation did not disappoint.  The film produced multiple, jump-out-of-your-seat, scream out loud moments.  Between the victims being young children, rather than teens or adults, and the top-notch special effects, this movie was a horror buff’s nightmare come true.  As for this horror-buff, I would take the creepy clown, Pennywise, over the terrifying doll, any day.  I give this film two thumbs up.

Are Movie Trailers Showing Too Much?

In the past few years the unpredictability and mystery has been taken away from movies because of the amount of information given in the trailer. Movie trailers are supposed to be a preview, or a glimpse, of the movie- not a summary. For example, Batman V Superman visually shows the whole movie by showing Batman saving Superman’s mother, Wonder Woman’s appearance, and the final show down with Abomination. It would have been nice to keep some things unknown seeing as these are the major plot points of the movie.

The most recent example of a movie showing too much is Thor: Ragnarok. When I first watched it I couldn’t help but think how amazing it would have been to see Hulk as a surprise character in this movie. Also, Thor saying “He’s a friend from work!” will not be as funny as since I saw it in the trailer.

Movies showing or telling too much is not a new thing, they have done this throughout time. In the 1973 sci-fi flick Soylent Green, the trailer asks “What is the secret of soylent green?” Not only does the trailer end up showing you what “soylent green” actually is, it breaks down major plot points and shows the entire movie! When I watched the movie for the first time, it was a huge surprise because I never saw the trailer.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi released a trailer recently, and the director Rian Johnson warned fans not to watch it because it shows too much. It does show a lot visually, yet unlike the other trailers it leaves a lot of questions. For example, who is Rey and is she a Skywalker? Or will she join the Dark Side? Does a main character die? How and why did Luke get to the island? There is still so much to be seen.

Rian Johnsons philosophy of not seeing a trailer before you go see a movie is a good one. Only how are you supposed to avoid it when you will most likely see The Last Jedi trailer during the 15 minutes of trailers before the movies you see until then? It would be difficult to not see trailers if you are an avid movie goer.

The reason for movie trailers to show as much as they do could be because people are unfamiliar with the content. As a solution to this, the trailer gives away a lot to help motivate people to go see the movie. The thing that does not make sense about trailers showing too much is why studios like Marvel and DC do. With characters like Thor, Batman, and Superman people are going to see the movie since their characters are already established icons.

The only positive side to seeing too much is that it helps you determine if you want to see a movie or not. There are just some movies that by their trailer you can tell are going to be good or bad. In other words, it helps you save time and money. No matter the pros and cons, producers need to try to find a perfect balance in marketing the movie. As the cliché goes: sometimes less is more.

 

Blade Runner 2049: The Perfect Successor

Blade Runner 2049 is rated R for Violence, some Sexuality, Nudity and Language.

Sitting in a theatre for an extended period to watch a film, no matter which it is, is becoming something of a miracle for me. Whether I’m excited for it or not, it just doesn’t seem to influence me buying the ticket, setting the time aside and going. Blade Runner 2049 started as that kind of movie – I was more aware of its lengthy runtime than I was its source material, more aware of the cost of the ticket than I was that Harrison Ford or Ryan Gosling starred in it. I was also aware of the praise being given to it and of a particular term – ‘The Perfect Sequel’. Happy as critics were to label 2049 as such, I don’t know if I could say the same. What I can tell you is that this movie is, in every sense, a must watch – Blade Runner 2049 an example of what a film can truly be when free of its obligations.

Yet let us not throw away the term of ‘Perfect Sequel’ too quickly, as I agree that on its face, once could see Blade Runner as such. One main reason for its labelling is that 2049 doesn’t attach itself to its official predecessor, the Final Cut of the original Blade Runner. Another is that 2049 does not franchise Blade Runner – over the course of its 2 hour, 40 minute runtime, 2049 tells its own, unique story. This is correct – there are no deliberate omissions of closure to help anticipation for another film. However, to say that 2049 lacks attachment to its predecessor is an understatement – frankly, 2049 acknowledges the age of its source material and almost expects you to have never watched the first film. In fact, 2049 is perhaps best viewed without a refresher of the original. What it does with that material works best when seen from the perspective of Ryan Gosling’s character, K. 2049‘s inciting action, a chance discovery of a secret long-buried, sets the Blade Runner on a journey to unravel a mystery of identity and a collision course with original Blade Runner protagonist Rick Deckard. Deckard’s inclusion in the film, along with any mention of earlier events, are pieces of the puzzle as opposed to things you would’ve known before watching 2049. You’ll learn what you need to from them and move on.

In watching the performances of the film’s main cast, it struck me that every character in some way felt important. 2049 is, much like its stance on the original material, not content to weigh itself down in traditional methods. Its runtime certainly lends itself to this – every character has ample time to sell their performances and be fleshed out. You come for Ryan Gosling’s K, you stay for Sylvia Hoeks’ Luv – a powerhouse in her own right, much like Harrison Ford and Jared Leto are. Considering Ryan Gosling’s ability as a silent actor and the brief screen time of Ford and Leto, it’s clear 2049 wanted to play as much with audience’s expectations of actors as possible – the result is tasteful and not necessarily disrespectful, although I would’ve loved for Leto’s character, Niander Wallace, to have been given more time to keep doing his thing.

Lending itself to the stellar performances is the visual treasure trove and cinematography. Everything in 2049, from sweeping cityscapes to intimate imagery can only be described as worthy of pause. More than once, or twice, or a dozen times even, 2049 tells a story and sells you a lifestyle on its imagery alone. The protein farm of Sapper Morton; the downpour of an overcrowded and despondent Los Angeles; the vibrant yet lifeless Las Vegas – each place speaks to a facet of this world never explicitly stated. It never needed to – director Denis Villeneuve shows incredible skill with the camera throughout, almost never using the same trick twice to keep the film as much about the film as possible.

Blade Runner 2049 is perhaps not the Perfect Sequel it’s lauded as. 2049 doesn’t want to be held back by such terms. It would be accurate to call it the Perfect Successor to Blade Runner – it’s stood on its own two feet, unconcerned with merely elevating the original or placing the franchise on some pedestal for the future. It’s an investment for the present – no long-term contract required.

Our Obsession with Superheroes

Superheroes have become a major part of modern day pop culture. Every century has their obsession, The Greek era had its obsession with pleasing multiple gods and the 80s went through its obsession with neon colors and insanely poofy hair. So when and how did superhero movies become popular?

It can be said that the beginning of superheroes becoming mainstream in cinema was Spider-Man in 2002. There were plenty of superhero films before Spider-Man, but this was where superheroes began having a big effect on millennials. Now we have the ability to portray them in a realistic way. The more technology progressed, the more realistic super heroes became.

Iron Man is a playboy, and that isn’t exactly the best role model. However, he does defeat terrorists, and considering that is such a prominent topic in our media and politics today, Iron Man is made relevant to us. Iron Man began Marvel’s phase one of the cinematic universe that we see today. There has been a superhero film almost every year since then and is all ultimately leading to Avengers Infinity War, which will be one of the biggest films in history. It doesn’t matter if it is good or bad–there has never been a film where so many previous films and characters lead up to it.

We also see the tone of the movies getting darker. In Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight we not only see a Batman like we have never seen before–more dark, brooding, and self-aware–but also a Joker that leads the audience to question human nature itself. Heath Ledger’s Joker was a darker and different Joker than we had ever seen before. Normally fans would be outraged by any change to a long beloved character, but Ledger did it right. That sets up a type of superhero film that people wanted to see. It is the reason DC has been able to keep up with Marvel. Both companies have brought their own unique attributes and beloved characters.

Marvel has somewhat taken DC’s darker approach with their release of the Netflix series Daredevil, Luke Cage, Iron Fist, and Jessica Jones–all of which leads up to the release of The Defenders. The Defenders are not fond of being called superheroes. They are much more complex, and audiences have shown fondness of such complex characters. In our modern world, complex characters and anti-heroes are becoming more popular. Deadpool for example is an anti-hero. He is a taco loving, fast talking mercenary with a morbid sense of humor. The reason for dark, complex characters to become popular is most likely because of today’s politics.

In today’s world it is hard to distinguish good from bad. Even in Captain America: The Winter Solider, Captain America struggles to find a side to trust when Shield, a once trusted institution, turns out to be taken over by Hydra, the all foreboding enemy. The audience is able to understand and accept that everything in life is not a black and white scenario; cinema is able to delve into such topics now.

Whichever way the superhero films go, they are here to stay. They may not be as popular in the future as they are now, but they definitely started something that reflects our views and generation.

Review: “The Jungle Book”

Richardson Rutter-Reese

“The Jungle Book” was a welcome visit from an old friend. Once again written and produced by Disney, the movie was a combination of a live-action and CGI work. For those not familiar with the work, it is a story of an orphan boy, Mowgli, who lives in a forest among his animal companions. The new take draws on elements of Disney’s original animated movie, and Kipling’s original work.

The story revolves around Mowgli trying to find his place in the jungle. From when he was found, Mowgli has been raised by a pack of wolves. During a period of peace, Shere Khan,  a tiger, threatens to kill Mowgli when the truce ends. As Mowgli’s wolf pack debates on if he should remain in the wolf pack, Mowgli voluntarily leaves.

Throughout the rest of the movie Mowgli goes through various trials throughout the jungle. Mowgli has an encounter with Kaa, voiced by Scarlett Johansson, he comes face to face with a swarm of bees, gets washed away in a rushing river, and ultimately, comes face to face with Shere Khan.  

Beyond singing along to “The Bare Necessities”, and “I Wanna Be Like You”, the story is one of accepting others, believing in yourself, and standing together against adversity. Mowgli faces adversity not from Shere Khan, but from those he considers family, and from himself. We not only see Mowgli grow into who he is, but seeing others around him accept Mowgli even though he is different.

“The Jungle Book” is an excellent film. Older viewers will find this not only a welcome return, but a significant movie that can stand on its own. Younger viewers will be enthralled by the cinematics and animation.

“The Jungle Book” is a worthy movie of anyone’s time. 5/5

Kael vs. Kubrick: “A Clockwork Orange”

Allison Hall

“Is there anything sadder — and ultimately more repellent — than a clean-minded pornographer?” In addressing Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange, Pauline Kael, as quoted above, regards Kubrick and his film as unimpressive and unnecessary eroticism. In rebuttal, I argue that the elegance of violence in the film works toward overall horror,  the sexualization within society does little for dehumanizing the “straight” citizens in opposition to Alex, and, in compliance, Kubrick does employ strategic, questionable methods in pushing the audience to view Alex as the ultimate good guy, or at least victim, within the film.

Kael claims that the movie is classified as “clean-minded pornography” with the intent to arouse audiences because of Kubrick’s “pedantically calculated scenes”, however, this strategy does just the opposite. The rape scenes are riddled with savagery in that Alex doesn’t seem connected to anything he’s doing. He definitely seems to be getting pleasure, as demonstrated in the raping of Mrs. Alexander when Alex is dancing to his cover of Singing in the Rain and laughing all the while. So, yes, the experience is arousing for Alex, but does little for the average audience member. If anything, the unsettling detail accompanied by the fluid and vibrant motions hinting at Alex’s excitement during his intentional violent fits create disgust. Arguing that Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange is pornography is debatable because whether or not the intent of these scenes are to arouse is unknown, but on either side of the argument, it seems unjust to claim that whatever it is remains clean-minded.

Kael argues that the innocence and whimsical nature of the violent acts, such as the pairing of classical music with brutality, remains as reasoning for it to be looked at as comical and light-hearted, but Alex is raping someone. This is observed in the first attempted raping of a young woman by another unrelated group. Pornography has the intent to arouse the audience and this scene just shouldn’t. This woman is suffering and very obviously feeling distressed, as seen in her cries for help. The elegant music and fluid choreography emphasize the innocence felt by the teens and therefore creates more of a sickening atmosphere than an arousing one. These children are toying with this innocent girl and exploiting her for their own enjoyment, not hers. No matter what way it’s looked at, it’s a crime and a discomforting one at that. The added classical music or other just furthers the idea that Alex likes this and sees nothing wrong with what he is doing. He likes rape. And the fact that such innocence in Alex’s mind is mimicked in his actions, his “schoolboy” like and accepted behavior, elongates the intended repellents from Alex’s actions and, more so, the society that has created him.

In Kael’s review, she suggests that “the trick of making the attacked less human than their attackers, so you feel no sympathy for them…” is a thing. This doesn’t actually seem to be Kubrick’s goal. As stated previously, Kubrick does well in disconnecting Alex and making the audience feel uncomfortable with the ease urged toward Alex’s endeavors. Each victim acts as a victim might. Nothing seems peculiar or off-putting. In fact, the Alexander home is very welcoming and warm and Mr. Alexander’s mental stability has flown out the window afterwards. Kael claims that “the “straight” people are far more twisted than Alex; they seem inhuman and incapable of suffering” because Kubrick’s over-sexualized community adds even more “deformity” to the plot. The problem remains that it is unclear in the film just how long society has been this way. These elderly citizens could have been born into this. It’s normal for them. Take the scene with the fit cat lady for example. Her house is riddled with sexual vulgarity, but still when answering the door to Alex remains fearful and skeptical. She isn’t violent. One could argue on the contrary using the battle scene between her and Alex as an example, but that’s just self-defense. What attacked person wouldn’t try to save themselves? Alex broke in to a house with locked doors and high windows. She is also older, accounting for her dominant attitude. While it may be a plausible argument to say that the sexual respects add twist to the concept, what isn’t clear is why this makes the adults and other characters less human. It only pushes the concept of a crippled societal structure by pushing the question of why these sexual exploitations are acceptable in such a society. The adults aren’t acting in any way vulgar or crass. As a matter of fact they seem frail and confused, as shown through Alex’s father upon Alex’s return home. Not trusting a flawed society seems to be the ultimate message for the film.

In the end, there is no hiding the fact that Kubrick is pushing Alex to be the abused protagonist. Because of what Kubrick has portrayed society to be, sexual and crime run, the audience is very capable of pinning everything on the man. Kael says that “Kubrick has removed many of the obstacles to our identifying with Alex” in comparison with Burgess’s novel. Apparently, Alex’s habits are cleaned up in the film and throughout he is given opportunities to play the innocent bystander. For example, after leaving the government facility and returning home, he finds himself to be actually homeless and ultimately alone. The audience, at this point, feels bad for poor little Alex and the rest is history. From the start, glimpses at the disorganized and faulty world around Alex and the aggressive nature of what is arguably all teenagers leads the audience to believe that Alex is a product of society to begin with. In the end, after he is “cured all right”, the audience sees that what Alex is now is a product of what the authorities have yet again made him and not only through the conditioning, but also through bribes and hush profits. Kubrick’s argument isn’t that man should accept what man has made, but rather man should blame authorities for what man has made.

In conclusion, while I disagree that detail takes away from the dramatization of the violence and the modern citizen within the film is dehumanized, I believe Kael is right in saying that Kubrick pushes a little too hard in wanting the audience to see eye to eye with Alex and accept what he is.

Work Cited

Kael, Pauline. “Stanley Strangelove.” Visual-Memory. The New Yorker Magazine. January 1972. Web. 4 April 2016