Double Feature: Knight and Day (2010) & Bang Bang (2014)

Welcome to another double feature!

This time we have a deliberate pair-up. Knight and Day was released in 2010 and is a through and through Hollywood production with Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz. According to Rotten Tomatoes (and a few people that I mentioned to), it isn’t really that well received. Which makes it weird that it was turned into a Bollywood film in 2014 called Bang Bang! starring familiar faces like Hrithik Roshan and Katrina Kaif, both of which I’ve seen movies of before. You’d think that I saw Knight and Day first but I actually saw Bang Bang first and then decided to give the original a shot to see how they compare.

Knight and Day (2010)

Knight and Day

Director: James Mangold

Cast: Tom Cruise, Cameron Diaz, Peter Sarsgaard, Jordi Molla, Viola Davis, Paul Dano

A young woman gets mixed up with a disgraced spy who is trying to clear his name. – IMDB

Knight and Day is pretty much and action comedy with hints of romance. Its a fun ride with some awkward moments. You can never fault Tom Cruise for not delivering on action but how can we be satiated when we have the last two Mission:Impossible, right? With that said, there seems to be forced dialogue and some things that don’t always flow well along with characters that try to be deep but never quite hit the potential. It might simply be the fact that Tom Cruise has always been a cool dude so when he is doing the passive thing or saying some sarcastic or some misplaced encouragement or whatnot to Cameron Diaz’s character June, there is the rare moment that it works but mostly, it doesn’t seem to fit the character too well or maybe its because its Tom Cruise and it doesn’t fit him. Always a danger of this happening when using huge stars.

Knight and Day also has some familiar faces like a cameo by Gal Gadot. Viola Davis is the Director who is the head of the good side, aka managing the spy and her mission is to catch Roy who has gone rogue. Then you have Paul Dano who is the nerd kid who invented a powerful something that everyone is after. Possibly, the most fun is in the final act particularly after a truth serum is used. Cameron Diaz has always been a hit and miss. For example, I didn’t like Bad Teacher but I love The Holiday.

Overall, I honestly don’t have much to say about Knight and Day. Its good for a watch and it was fun and entertaining but something didn’t feel right and the more I think about it, it might just be awkward dialogue and my not seeing Tom Cruise as this character.

Or it could be that I saw the remake first…

Bang Bang (2014)

bang bang

Director: Siddharth Anand

Cast: Hrithik Roshan, Katrina Kaif, Pavan Malhotra, Danny Denzongpa, Javed Jaffrey, Jimmy Shergill, Vikram Gokhale

A young bank receptionist gets mixed up with Rajveer Nanda, a man who has a mysterious background. – IMDB

Some of you know that with Netflix having more foreign films, I have opened up my world slightly and slowly to Bollywood films. They do take up a ton of time but its usually a decent experience so far. I am a fan of Hrithik Roshan since Dhoom 2 (review HERE). The man is like the whole package and some and in Bang Bang, he proves that he can also be almost like Tom Cruise. Knight and Day being a Bollywood remake is the perfect fit. The corny dialogue and the serious and fun but over the top action: it works here so well. The key here is that Bang Bang keeps a tone that is very light-hearted. To be honest, the Bollywood singing and dancing parts are used quite sparsely in comparison to other films so it makes it possibly even an easily entry point for those that feel less inclined because of these usually odd transitions. I always find Bollywood musical segments appealing to watch. This one is absolutely no exception especially because both Katrina Kaif and Hrithik Roshan got the moves.

Bang Bang only changes the story a little as in its stealing a diamond Kohinoor and that its a more personal affair than the original. At the same time, Bang Bang also remakes some of the scenes almost exactly the same. In fact, some of the dialogue is also incredibly similar. If you went into Bang Bang having already seen Knight and Day, a good at least 70% of this will look familiar. Bang Bang definitely does lack originality on that front. There is no denying it, especially in many scenes like the beach scenes where only the escape is different or how the attack was constructed. Same applies for the final scene that I loved so much in the original.

However, what Bang Bang makes up for is the charm that it has with Hrithik Roshan playing Rajveer and Katrina Kaif playing Harleen. Somehow, the music and dance and their personalities truly shine and match with this story. Its a much better fit for these characters. There is some cheesy moments but it also comes with the expectations and Bollywood films that I’ve seen tend to be structured in this way tonally. It just blends very well together with what this type of story tried to achieve. Of course, Indian cinema has changed now and there are horror films and other more dramatic entries and especially more action which is void of the whole Bollywood musical thing.

With that said, I like Bang Bang more than Knight and Day. I like Knight and Day for its finale whereas Bang Bang was much more of an overall experience.

Have you seen Knight and Day and/or Bang Bang?
Also, if you did see it, I made a little banner for this double feature. What do you think about it?

My Weekly Adventures #39: Upcoming Projects & More…

2017 has been incredibly busy so far!! We’re already halfway done with March. Can you believe it? That means in two weeks or so, I’ll be officially in my thirties, the 3-1. Honestly, entering 30 hasn’t really changed anything much except coming to terms that I now can’t tolerate as much alcohol as I used to. Which isn’t a problem since I drink a glass of wine like 3 days in a month, unless its holiday seasons or some special event.  Being 30 only seemed to fuel this additional motivation to do the things I’ve wanted to and just not care so much and do it. Point is, it seems getting older has given myself some more courage and clarity about what I’m doing and life and all that stuff.

Running off on a tangent apparently is still something that I haven’t changed. Getting back on track! Let’s check out these last two busy busy weeks!

Ultimate 90’s Blogathon Done!

Ultimate 90's blogathon

Ultimate 90’s Blogathon hosted by myself and Drew over at Drew’s Movie Reviews drew to close a few days ago. If you missed any of the reviews, you can find them all on this page HERE. We’ve already expressed our gratitude in the conclusion post but yet again, thank you to all for the participation, comments and likes. It does feel great to know that there’s so much love for our little blogathon. We’ve met new friends and bloggers and it was a lot of fun. We are hoping to do something similar next year and for those who missed out (and a few of you have reached out to us about it), we will keep you in our hearts and minds and maybe we’ll have you all on board as well if all goes well. Of course, a big thank you goes to my darling co-host Drew which I don’t think I ever express thanks to him enough. Remember to head over to check out Drew’s Movie Reviews if you haven’t already right here.

New Online Courses

 I wrapped up my last course a week or so ago. It was pretty good and a lot of fun. I had already learned a bit of the foundation so it was really polishing up those skills and I realized that I was reminded why I chose to  not major in this in university. Funny how some things just never change, right? I did pretty well in my final exam so yay!

Last time, I did mention that I was debating on courses so I decided to be ambitious and took both the photography and guitar course. Does that sound a little crazy? Maybe. I never know anymore. I just follow my instinct. If you are newer here, then you probably didn’t quite get to experience the whole photography days here which is moved over to my other blog, Avenue of Daydreams. I have been playing around with photography for a while but its been a while that I’ve felt like I need to learn more about the foundation of photography so that I can use my DSLR with much more ease. The main thing is that while I know of the terms like shutter speed and aperture and the idea of what effect they have but how to set the numbers on the camera are all a blur. Pairing guitar with photography seems to be good because it shouldn’t be incredibly hard.

We’re in the second week of the course now and let me tell you, photography is pretty cool and exactly what I expected as that its helpful but never  too hard because I already know a part of it. However, guitar is a whole other story. I’m definitely picking up more than when I ambitiously tried to learn on my own but I play the piano so my hands don’t work the same way and fretting hurts so much. I am working hard to get in some practice everyday from what I’ve learned to hopefully get the basics down. Guitars are a little huge for myself. Its why I’m starting to convince my husband to learn it instead. 😉

I’ll report back with more news later on. I’ll be approaching the end of the course by the next weekly adventures.

Hangout with Friends

Living in a city where winter is so prominent makes it hard to do much during these cold winter weeks. The last two weeks definitely beat us down with some dry cold weather that just urged us to stay in unless absolutely necessary, like going to work. As I’m typing this post up, its now milder but in a snow storm. I’m just hoping this is the last leg of winter and we’ll be seeing some lovely spring weather soon. Of course, this doesn’t stop us from going out. On a Friday night, I went to hang out with Starry Traveler and we chatted about a ton of stuff and finalized some details on our new segment that I’ll talk about in the next section.

The week after that was the day of our actual segment in the works. Maybe one day I’ll get something going for it more as we work out a little more on how this will work in the long-run. The hope is that it will keep going on. So we even had the husbands join in along with two more friends. We’re pretty much the foodie group now that heads out to these food events in Montreal together. Fun times! To clarify the picture, we only managed to set up the game before my friend’s baby tried to grab everything and we decided that this game is for a babyless night. Not sure when that will happen, or at least when baby or toddler is more grown up.

Two New Projects/Segments

Project #1: Battle of Ingredients

Next week will launch the first instalment of Battle of Ingredients, featuring myself and my awesome childhood friend and casual blogger, Phoebe from Starry Traveler’s Road. We’ve been brainstorming this one for a good few months (if not a year) and finally decided to just do it. I’ll explain a little more on how it works but the goal here is that we pick one or two ingredients to compose a meal. We usually grab some friends and our husbands to sit down for a lovely gathering and they can then give us feedback. The key is not really to see who wins out of this but rather to inspire some new recipes and hopefully explore what is in season. We hope to start this off as a monthly segment due to preparation and getting everyone together. For the first battle, we chose two ingredients that are very common however, it is what is in season for us (at least one of them is). However, its not always going to be battles and sometimes just a team-up.

Project #2: All About Adaptations

Launching this week (if tonight’s recording goes well) is All About Adaptations. The idea of talking about adaptations was actually one of the first reasons why I started movie blogging unfortunately nothing ever happened. However, when Movie Reviews 101 and MovieRob had their Stephen King Blogathon, I did an entry that really made me think about this idea harder and finally, after something like two years, I’ve decided that I’m ready to do this. The idea of this is that any adaptation can fall into this category and compare it to source material. If there are many adaptations, I will try to look at as much as I have access to. Because there is much more preparation, I’m not quite sure about the frequency but I already have two ready for recording. With that said, this is going to be a YouTube segment. I’m slowly transforming the channel to focus on Movie, Gameplay & Unboxing. Hopefully you can join me over there! More details on the launch post. 🙂

Gaming Reviews Update!

Would you look at that? The latest project this week was putting together our video Game Reviews. Obviously the choice to read the written review is still there but for those of you that want to kick back and just listen to the review while watching some gameplay, we now offer you that option! Hope you enjoy it! 🙂

Cute Kitty Pic

Upcoming:

  • Toronto Comicon
  • All About Adaptations #1
  • Battle of Ingredients #1
  • Various Movie Reviews

Valentine’s Marathon: The Choice (2016)

Next up in the Valentine’s Marathon is the annual Nicholas Sparks movie adaptation visit to stay on track and up to date with this. What started off as something that I thought would be torturous actually wasn’t as bad. A ton of you are going to disagree with me. I know already. Every year I post one of these, most people hate these Nicholas Sparks movie adaptations and would just like them to stop. While I can see where everyone is coming from, I actually don’t mind them at all, except for The Last Song…I really don’t like that one. But can you believe, The Choice is the 10th Nicholas Sparks movie adaptation? But from what I’ve read, this is the last movie adaptation.

Let’s check it out!

The Choice (2016)

The Choice

Director: Ross Katz

Cast: Teresa Palmer, Benjamin Walker, Maggie Grace, Alexandra Daddario, Tom Wilkinson, Tom Welling

Travis and Gabby first meet as neighbors in a small coastal town and wind up in a relationship that is tested by life’s most defining events. – IMDB

Nicholas Sparks movies have a formula. Its also this formula that really drives non-fans away from it, in my opinion. There’s always lovers who meet under less than desirable circumstances who find a way to be together then some disapproving factor drives them apart and then they somehow find the strength to reunite. Some times, they are able to be together and sometimes, other things will keep them apart (ex. sickness, death, bad timing, etc). You get my drift, right? Whenever I review one of these movies, I think its important to push away that formula. Think about the factors they put together from the characters to their chemistry (a big one for romance) and the supporting roles and what it does, maybe even the setting. The formula won’t change, we all know that and if it does, like the first time I saw a character survive the ordeal without some bittersweet twist, I was actually pleasantly surprised. So we’re going to do this for The Choice, okay? It sounds stupid to brush the story aside but that isn’t exactly what I’m doing, just you know glazing over the familiarity and looking more at how it carries itself.

The Choice

The Choice is not my favorite Nicholas Sparks adaptation. In fact, I don’t think A Walk to Remember has ever been beaten in my guilty pleasure romance movies. However, The Choice does also give us two very cute characters. There are some supporting characters that could’ve done with a little more development but still had its purpose. The setting itself is beautiful and the chemistry was done quite well. The story could have been delivered a little better and probably the run time could’ve been shorter as well to make it more compact. The Choice isn’t anything great to the movie adaptations however, there is one thing that I liked a lot about it other than the beautiful setting making me want to seek it all out for myself but our two main characters. There are very familiar mechanics they use, like setting up the story in a way that we’re at a certain point and then recounting the events and then getting to the present and continuing on from there to the conclusion. I can’t say its particularly useful to do it like this but its not a bad way for it to unfold.

The Choice

The Choice’s primary strength is its couple, Gabby and Travis played by Teresa Palmer and Benjamin Walker respectively. Like I mentioned before, it didn’t really hit it off for me right away but in the interaction that Gabby and Travis has in their bickering, they start to grow a little (for me at least). Teresa Palmer’s character seemed to work out better for me but then there’s always a question of judgement and passion. Nicholas Sparks likes to embrace the somewhat “forbidden” love type of thing. Our characters need to have courage and they need to feel some security. In this case, the point of most of the story is Travis’s character not fighting for something he loves and always taking the easy route even if it means heartbreak and being lonely. Up till that point, the story still kind of worked because the message worked for me. However, the third act diving into a dramatic twist somewhat seems a little forced. It does also talk about guilt and holding on and fighting and believing but in many ways, the way it unfolds seems a little manipulative, I guess. I can forgive most of it but just saying that it would objectively be in that area to evoke some sort of sentiment and its where we are tested on how deeply we feel for this couple (which for me, wasn’t a whole lot) whereas, the idea of what is going on about churning up the thoughts of whether to let someone go is probably the bigger question here that really gets emotional. Probably because I’ve been in a relatable situation that it hit me a little harder than it probably would.

The Choice

The Choice however does have some other familiar faces in the supporting role. We have Maggie Grace as Steph, the sister of Travis who really is his guiding light of logic. She sees more about Gabby and her impact on Travis and how he actually feels, just like a close friend would be normally. We have an ex-girlfriend (or something) played by Alexandra Daddario who really doesn’t ever build up to much but to eventually tell Travis something important that encourages him. Tom Wilkinson plays as Travis’s father who in the second half probably understands more about what he is going through than others would. Most of these supporting roles are there for their one moment that really builds a connection or enlightens our character. These characters are also usually expected in these adaptations.

Overall, The Choice works okay for me. Its not my favorite but it is also far from the worst one out of the ten Nicholas Sparks adaptations. The charming characters of Gabby and Travis may get me to revisit it eventually. There are however many moments where it does fall flat, even if you look past the formulaic plot. The supporting characters are weak and could probably be fleshed out more. The story itself drags much longer than it needs. The chemistry between the characters are a little rushed in the first place so never quite meet the potential even if there are some good moments there. There are issues with this one but I’m pretty forgiving on these adaptations so I can see things that can redeem it. However, its not going to work for people who has never quite enjoyed any of them. If thats the case, you might probably not want to start here.

Valentine’s Marathon: Romeo & Juliet (2013)

Next up in the Valentine’s Marathon is a tale really as old as time and probably one of the first Shakespeare plays I had to read in school but super renowned and adapted a ton of times and that is Romeo & Juliet. This version is the 2013 one with Hailee Steinfeld and Douglas Booth.

Let’s check it out!

Romeo & Juliet (2013)

Romeo and Juliet 2013

Director: Carlo Carlei

Cast: Hailee Steinfeld, Douglas Booth, Damian Lewis, Paul Giamatti, Kodi Smit-Mcphee, Ed Westwick, Christian Cooke

Romeo and Juliet secretly wed despite the sworn contempt their families hold for each other. It is not long, however, before a chain of fateful events changes the lives of both families forever.-IMDB

 Its always hard to review Romeo and Juliet adaptations. We all know how the story will go and the tragic fate of these lovers. It becomes even harder each time to feel moved by the characters and the story somehow because of that familiarity. I’m not sure if this is the most recent movie adaptation but I think so with these young stars playing the popular roles. In reality, it feels like quite the task and one that I’d eventually like to do to talk about the play and all adaptations (or as many as I have access to). Maybe I’ll give that a go one day. However, we’re here to look at this adaptation and to be fair, it was fine. There were some familiar faces, some good performances, the set was pretty decent and so were the costumes. I’m not a Shakespeare extreme connoisseur so I don’t know the play front and back. It been a long time since I’ve read it but from what I remember, its seems pretty close (if not the same) in dialogue.  However, something seems missing which I can’t quite pinpoint so maybe as I write this out, I’ll figure it out.

Romeo and Juliet

Romeo and Juliet are played respectively by Douglas Booth and Hailee Steinfeld.  I haven’t seen a lot of Hailee Steinfeld but I have seen Douglas Booth in few of his previous roles, probably the one I remember most is LOL and Jupiter Ascending (review HERE). To step into Romeo and Juliet is a big task (like I mentioned before), there was to be passion and believability in their roles. Perhaps one of the things I didn’t quite feel was their connection. Sure, they were passionate in their lines and I could see it working but when they were together, something just didn’t click. Although, I feel that it progressed a little fast also. I get that its supposed to be a few days of events like most Romeo and Juliet movies are set in but it took two seconds to jump to seeing each other, dancing and then going to to the back and kissing. I never felt like other Romeo and Juliet movies progressed the love arc that fast for them and maybe its why those movies had a more impactful performance. Oh, and I actually did like Hailee Steinfeld’s performance. I feel that she has potential to do more and that’s where I think I probably should check out The Edge of Seventeen from last year.

Romeo and Juliet 2013

Talking about the Montague boys now, we’ve already discussed Romeo as the lover boy but possibly a great bromance trio goes to these guys who felt naturally good together. Somehow they worked well in showing their different personalities of Mercutio, Romeo and Benvolio. It was easy to believe that they all held different views of the rivalry between the Montague and the Capulets but also that they each also had different values. Mercutio is played by Christian Cooke, who is a familiar face and I liked him in the role. However, I love Kodi Smit-McPhee ever since I saw him in Let Me In (review HERE). This guy has some really great acting chops. He did a great job at Benvolio even if it was just a supporting role.

Romeo and Juliet 2013

The Capulets are much more individual but also has a lot more screen time. We have Tybalt, played by Ed Westwick who is incredibly known to me as Chuck Bass in Gossip Girl and I loved his character there. Ed Westwick does have some good acting and in the right roles, he can do quite a bit. As Tybalt, he really just does the cocky guy with a ton of anger issues who has incredible hate for Montagues who can barely keep his actions in control. Plus, he does a whole lot of odd grunting angry voices and always has a grimace, which I get is in character but something about his character felt a little overacted perhaps. I can’t say that its his best performance in my book. The other part of the Capulets is Damien Lewis as Lord Capulet. I honestly haven’t had much contact with Damien Lewis but he seems like a really powerful actor because Lord Capulet’s role really carried especially when he was having the whole scene with Juliet and making his point clear of her marrying Count Paris. That was a fantastic scene.

Overall, Romeo and Juliet in this 2013 adaptation was okay. It probably won’t be memorable but its not horrible either. The pacing of the script could probably use some work to help make us care more about Romeo and Juliet especially when everyone already knows how this all works out and pretty much knows what to expect. There are some decent performances that I haven’t even mentioned other than Hailee Steinfeld, Damien Lewis and Kodi Smit-McPhee but also we have Paul Giamatti who plays as the Friar and as always, he does a nice job in the supporting role. Its hard to not compare Romeo and Juliet adaptations to each other especially since there’s already been so many but here’s my shot at it.

Have you seen this adaptation of Romeo and Juliet? Which adaptation is your favorite?

Netflix A-Z: How I Live Now (2013)

Next up in the Netflix us How I Live Now! I have been meaning to watch this since its release. I am a huge fan of Saoirse Ronan. I have yet to see a movie I dislike of hers. I am hoping to catch Brooklyn soon. With this indie focus on this round, this was the obvious choice.

Lets check it out!

How I Live Now (2013)

How I Live Now

Director: Kevin Macdonald

Cast: Saoirse Ronan, George MacKay, Tom Holland, Harley Bird, Anna Chancellor, Danny McEvoy

An American girl, sent to the English countryside to stay with relatives, finds love and purpose while fighting for her survival as war envelops the world around her.-IMDB

How I Live Now is a good indie drama. The standout is the attention it takes to build its characters, particularly Saoirse Ronan’s Daisy. Her character is one with a lot of inner conflict and as the world embarks on the brink of World War 3, her control is lost as she finds someone worth her distraction and worth her fight and focus. In comparison, many other characters don’t have as much with the exception of her little cousin, Piper. This aspect of relationships is where it gets a little blurry. What is acceptable, is her love interest her cousin, her mother’s sister’s son? That had me a little confused but quickly pushed it aside.

How I Live Now

The setting of How I Live Now is also quite good. While it takes us in an indie drama and adds in a young adult romance, it is more of a coming of age story for Daisy as she learns what is worth her time and embraces what she wants for herself and how she wants to live. Hence the title. At the beginning, we follow Daisy gain a fondness and break out of her control and focus on whatever it is that fleets through her mind. It is carefree until it isn’t. How I Live Now puts in a fictional situation (because it is World War 3) of living in the times of war that makes it desperate and escalates the danger and obstacles. The war aspect is also treated in extremes especially in various scenes. There is a dramatic take (as it should be) when approaching the effects of war as the country salvages what they can and it never draws out what is actually going on but definitely highlights on turmoil.

How I Live Now

We can however take some of the blurry plotlines as perhaps a lost in translation deal. How I Live Now is adapted from a novel of the same name. While I haven’t read the novel yet, it does beg the question as to whether the scenario itself was half hidden or that some issues were not highlighted, leaving questions like what is the actual relationship between Daisy and her cousins, especially the love of her life Eddie. There are questions as to why the war all started and why there seems a division between the military and perhaps rogue gangs that took advantage of the turmoil. There was a questions as to what happened to Daisy and why she has all those thoughts in her head. There are a lot of questions that could be answered and perhaps if it was all added into an 100 minutes movie, it would make it convoluted. However, there is a part of me that felt like something wasn’t complete at the end. And perhaps that the focus wasn’t built enough for us to care about some of the younger cast in order to feel for them when they were all split apart.

how i live now

Regardless of its minor flaws, How I Live Now is a good independent drama. One that takes a different approach to young love in a brutal near-future setting when the world is collapsing at the brink of war. It is a coming of age story for Saoirse Ronan’s outstanding performance as Daisy as she finds her focus and hope for things that truly matter to her and turn them into a motivation. Its her choice how to live as her world falls apart and slowly comes back together. A very good message portrayed in a pretty effective way with some great performances: How I Live Now is worth a watch, especially if you are like me and adore Saoirse Ronan.

Have you seen How I Live Now?

Next up is I selection! Any guesses?

Fantasia Festival: I Am Not A Serial Killer (Canadian Premiere 2016)

Next up in Fantasia International Film Festival is an absolute treat. I Am Not a Serial Killer is a little independent film. What does make it even more special is that it was hosted by  Christopher Lloyd. Are we even surprised at this point? The roster at the 20th annual Fantasia Festival has been incredible and the last comment from the audience during the Q&A wraps it up perfectly. When we think back of Christopher Lloyd’s career in over 200 movies, a lot of those roles have never been attempted again and he is irreplaceable.

Fantasia Festival

Christopher Lloyd deserved the standing ovation he got and the feeling in the theatre of hearing him talk about his career was enlightening. After so many roles, we can still hear how grateful he was for each role that he has taken on.

I Am Not A Serial Killer (2016)

I am not a serial killer

Director: Billy O’Brien

Cast: Christopher Lloyd, Max Records, Laura Fraser, Karl Geary

In a small Midwestern town, a troubled teen with homicidal tendencies must hunt down and destroy a supernatural killer whilst keeping his own inner demons at bay.-IMDB

I Am Not A Serial Killer is an adaptation from a series of novels by Dan Wells (one that I don’t know much about before).  However, it has a really intriguing premise. Our main character is John, played by Max Records. If that name rings a bell but you can’t pinpoint him, he was the little boy in Where the Wild Things Are. In many ways, I Am Not A Serial Killer is a character study. We learn about John (Max Records) and on the other side, we learn about his neighbor Mr. Crowley, played by Christopher Lloyd through his observations. At the same time, this movie is also an extremely slow movie. It takes its time to set up, execute and build everything it needs for us to connect with these characters. At all times, there is a sense of uneasy even under its bizarre humor. One of the most notable parts of the movie in the opening was the music: something like rock and alternative or whatnot. During different parts of the movie, it also cues in and then we mix it with a lot of silent moments.

I am not a serial killer

 I Am Not A Serial Killer has a small cast. In fact, the other players such as Laura Fraser who plays the mother and Karl Geary who plays the psychiatrist is there but never enough to take away from the main journey of John Cleaver played by Max Records. It is amazing to see that the young adult that Max Records has become and how his acting has matured as well. His performance in Where the Wild Things Are was quite enjoyable. In this one, it is a completely different beast. One that probably would be hard to imagine. In many ways, John Cleaver is like a normal teenager except right from the first scene, we already realize that his is fighting a battle against an obsession with death. It isn’t his death but rather one where he stops himself from the desire to kill. His psychiatrist early in the movie in one of the sessions says that he has the predictors of being a serial killer, something like a diagnosed sociopath or something along those lines. Can you even imagine what it is like to fight the thought of being a serial killer, trying every day to be a nice person and feeling like you have no feelings? In fact, Max Records does a great performance in showing the struggle. His performance doesn’t end there because he soon learns that his neighbor might be a serial killer and wholeheartedly sets out to stop him. Can you see the conflict in his character already? However serious this movie does become, it never forgets to put in these random humor areas. One of the best is when John Cleaver explains why he compliments and smiles to a bully at a party. It is funny and creepy all at the same time.

Christopher Lloyd

The neighbor Mr. Crowley is played by Christopher Lloyd. His character shows that people have different layers, whether its physically or mentally. On the outside, Mr Crowley is a silly man that is completely in love. He is the sweet grandfather that still does all the gestures. However, he holds a deep secret and we soon learn that he is a serial killer and causing a havoc in the small town that hasn’t seen such frequent killings ever. No one knows who he is except John but they also have a good relationship. Mr. Crowley’s character is learned through the eyes of John Cleaver. We see what he does and his personality and the conversations they have in different scenes. Just like Max Record’s character is conflicting, Mr. Crowley’s also is. In fact, perhaps there is some kind of parallel meant to be created.

I am not a serial killer

I Am Not A Serial Killer is a movie that will be interpreted differently to many. In fact, it is a slow paced movie. Some might not have the patience to see what happens. The ending itself is a shocking one. It turns the movie around. Although it never is talked about explicitly, as the audience, we get to see how both of these characters are quite similar but also opposite. We actually might catch the nuances of their characters even before they realize it in the movie. Especially as we watch John Cleaver’s character struggle, in many ways, we might ask ourselves why he cares so much to stop the killer, isn’t that feelings or is it to fulfill his obsession with death? The main question that will keep the audience intrigued is the clever pacing of never quite letting us in on the secret and revealing anyone’s intentions. We keeping doubting whether there is a danger.

I Am Not A Serial Killer is a serious movie injected with dark humor. It has great performances all around specifically with Max Records and Christopher Lloyd. The setting definitely emphasizes the isolation. It is for those ready to study and follow a character as it develops throughout the story and takes us for a dangerous adventure of following a killer, one that no one would suspect is any danger. This may be the hidden gem of 2016.

Return to Oz by Cinema Schminema – Ultimate 80s Blogathon

Our last guest to join us for the Ultimate 80s Blogathon is none other that the lovely Misty from Cinema Schminema.  Misty is possibly one of my earliest blogging friends after I started jumping into the movie reviews world.  She posts creative and fun reviews on a lot of low budget movies and a lot of B-horror.  I’d be lying if she didn’t introduce me to what Asylum is and found the joy and tolerance in watching some of those features. Remember to head on over and check her site out. 🙂

Let’s pass it over to her with her choice, Return to Oz!

Return to Oz (1985)

Return to Oz

The year was 1987 and I was but a wee slip of a thing who had a thing for dark fantasy films (at least those in the kids’ section of the video store – do you guys remember video stores??). I was also obsessed with Oz. It obviously started with The Wizard of Oz but I went on to read several more of the books (Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz – book 4 – being my 2nd favorite). Imagine my delight when I discovered the movie called RETURN TO OZ (and imagine my mother’s dismay when I made her rent that and LABYRINTH, every single week – why she didn’t just buy the damn things, I’ll never know).

In case you’re not familiar, RETURN TO OZ is based off books 2 and 3 of the Oz series (The Marvelous Land of Oz and Ozma of Oz), though be it a bit loosely with Dorothy being the sole protagonist and Tip being erased entirely. It picks up approximately 6 months after the events of the first book. Auntie Em and Uncle Henry are rebuilding their house after the destruction of the tornado and Dorothy (played by Fairuza Balk, so yeah, just freaking imagine the girl from THE CRAFT as Dorothy Gale, y’all. Just picture that in your head, I’ll wait) is feeling a bit lost and melancholy. And who wouldn’t be? Sure, Oz was a little f*cked but it was a hell of a lot more exciting than Kansas. Unfortunately, Auntie Em and Uncle H are a bit worried about her, so much so that they decide to cart her off to the scariest freaking “doctor’s office” on earth for some really nice old-fashioned electroshock therapy (which was, at this point in time, not at all old-fashioned, but very newly IN fashion). Auntie Em has the f*cking nerve to LEAVE her there all alone on a dark and stormy night, with some creeper of a nurse lurking around (a really tall and terrifying woman who is CLEARLY up to no good). Dorothy is TWO seconds away from getting her first “treatment” (literally, she’s on the table) when the lights go out. She’s left alone (strapped down on a table on a dark and stormy night in the dark in a scary building with creepy adults who want to shock her brain, just sayin’) and a mysterious little girl appears and tells Dorothy that they must run for it! Thank god for that girl. Except creeper nurse sees them and chases them down to the river where Dorothy falls in and gets separated from the mystery girl. And when she wakes up? You guessed it – she’s back in Oz!

Return to Oz

Welcome to Oz, bitches!

But this time, things are WAYYYYYY more f*cked up than before. Oh, and her chicken from her farm is with her – Billina (not sure what kind of name that is really) – and the chicken can talk (in Oz, not in Kansas) and the chicken is kinda sassy. So. In THE WIZARD OF OZ, there was a scary Wicked Witch, right? Two, technically if you count the one the house fell on. And those flying monkeys were pretty scary. Wanna know what’s scary in RETURN TO OZ?

  1. The Deadly Desert – This surrounds Oz and anyone who touches it immediately crumbles into sand themselves. As evidenced when 6 Wheelers run into it chasing Dorothy. Bye-bye, Wheelers!
  2. Wheelers -People who have wheels in place of their hands and feet. Move around on all fours but are tall as if on stilts. Scream a lot. Pretty much like being on a bad acid trip and if you’re a child, the most terrifying thing in the effing world. (I LOVED IT).Return to Oz
  3. Mombi – Most terrifying till you get to Mombi, that is. I mean screaming wheely people are one thing but a witch who turns people to stone so she can steal their heads, that’s something else entirely. Sure, it doesn’t really SOUND scary when you put it that way. But then you have that scene where her room of 30 heads in cases get woken up by Dorothy and all start screaming “Dorothy Gale!!!!” at once, which in turn awakens Mombi’s headless body that runs around trying to find a head so she can catch Dorothy. Do you know how traumatizing that is for a child? NO idea what these filmmakers were thinking…

    Return to Oz

    DO YOU SEE THIS???

  4. The Nome King – He’s a LITTLE less scary – mostly more creepy. Something about faces moving around in rock walls with human looking eyeballs is just…*shudders* Although he IS allergic to eggs, so that’s pretty damn funny.
Return to Oz

Right…okay…maybe he’s a little scary too…

You also get to see the Lion, Scarecrow and Tin Man looking not only incredibly different from the original (and kinda lame looking) but completely turned to stone (then ornaments); some light S&M; a guy made out of limbs and a giant pumpkin (also kind of creepy) and a sofa attached to a moosehead that flies and talks. Seriously, this is one of the best f*cking movies EVER.

Return to Oz

This (and LABYRINTH) fueled my imagination and love of fantasy like nothing else. And possibly my love for the macabre because this is a REALLY dark movie. Like, no child ever should have watched this thing (and my parents wonder why I started reading Poe the next year, writing crazy stories involving pumpkins and strange lands a few years later, and grew up to love the strangest, most off-kilter movies I could find). This movie wasn’t what you’d call “well-loved” when it came out but it quickly became a cult classic (and with good reason).

If you somehow HAVEN’T seen this (then we’re no longer friends), I highly suggest you go rent this from your local Hollywood Video, like, ASAP. Dark, acid trippy af, like Dorothy really WILL need therapy after this adventure (not the electroshock kind though, tyvm) TOTES, it’s a must see classic of a decade where Hollywood could get away with putting pretty much anything in kids’ movies. Seriously though.