Tuesday, November 30, 2010

RIP: Oscar Wilde

Today marks the 110th anniversary of one of the best authors to have ever lived in this world, Oscar Fingal O'Flahertie Wills Wilde. What a name and what a truly amazing author he was. The Picture of Dorian Gray is one of my favorite novels of all time. It's dark, twisted, and absolutely brilliant. You'll have to read the novel to find out why this is. You may also want to watch one of the films based off the novel. The 1945 one is great, but Dorian doesn't look how I pictured him. The young Helmut Berger definitely looked more of how I pictured the character. He played him in Dorian Gray (1970). I don't know anything about that movie or Helmut, but seeing his picture was enough for me. Rest in peace, Oscar Wilde, thanks for the haunting story of Dorian Gray.

Helmut Berger

Monday, November 29, 2010

RIP: Cary Grant

Archibald Leach (Cary Grant) died 24 years ago today. He suffered from a major stroke before he was going to attend his show 'An Evening with Cary Grant.' He was 82 years old. I love his movies, especially the Hitchcock ones. Notorious is my favorite with North by Northwest coming in second. I do love his screwball comedies, particularly The Philadelphia Story, Monkey Business, Bringing Up Baby, and His Girl Friday. An Affair to Remember is a nice romantic film with him, too. If you haven't watched a Cary Grant movie yet or haven't watched one in a while, those are some of my suggestions for you.

Monday, November 22, 2010

The Invisible Man: Another Horror Classic

I didn't find The Invisible Man (1933) extremely frightening, but the concept of it is, which is what made it intriguing to me. A man finds a way to go invisible through science and because of his discovery, he becomes utterly insane. What's interesting is that the man is able to wear clothing, so at first you are not aware that he is invisible. Of course, something about his appearance tells you that something about him isn't quite right. However, you learn why he seems so different once he gets angry. He'll shed his clothing and you won't see him at all and there's no knowing what he will do! He's able to throw things, as well as viciously attack you until he succeeds in murdering you.

Claude Rains is spectacular as Griffin, the Invisible Man. I love his voice! He has the perfect amount of craziness in it to make the character sound brilliantly freaky and insane, especially when he cackles. I also enjoyed the effects in this film. There is a scene where they make him look like he's actually invisible. Apparently, the director achieved this by having Rains dress all in black velvet and stand in front of a black velvet background. Rains wasn't always the man under the bandages, he had a double, and it was obvious when the double was there instead of Rains. Mainly because the double is taller than Rains and he had different features than him, particularly his nose.

I want to read the book that this is based on, but I'll have to wait on that. I still want to read The Prestige, but I refuse to pay $16 for it, especially when all the copies I've found of it have shelf-wear. Something about The Prestige reminds me of The Invisible Man. I think it's the fact that the characters in both became so obsessed with finding the best way to do something, that it drove them insane until the point where they lost everything else in their lives.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Harry Potter: Deathly Hallows Part I

I saw Deathly Hallows Part I today and I am still in awe at how amazing it was. This is the best film in the entire series, which makes me think that the second part is going to be equally awesome. It follows the book so well. I've never seen a film that has followed a book as well as this one has. It truly captured all of the emotions of it perfectly. I want to go see it again already, I loved it that much. I can hardly wait for Part II to be released. I wish that they weren't making us wait all the way until July! That seems like it's so far away! If you haven't already, I suggest seeing it as soon as you possibly can. It's so fantastic that you're not going to want to delay seeing it.

Harry Potter: Half-Blood Prince (2009)

Harry Potter returns to Hogwarts for his sixth year. Surprisingly, Severus Snape has finally landed the position of the Defense Against the Dark Arts professor. Professor Horace Slughorn has been brought in to replace Snape as the professor for Potions. During the first course, Harry discovers a potions book that is marked as being property of the Half-Blood Prince. The Half-Blood Prince appears to be a genius and Harry becomes fascinated by his book, which never leaves his side.

Harry also learns much more about Voldemort's past this year. Dumbledore provides Harry with sensitive information related to Voldemort by showing memories that reflect his character. This leads both Harry and Dumbledore to find out why Voldemort has not been able to die completely. The reason ends up being that Voldemort has split his soul into seven pieces and hidden them in objects that he finds to be as precious treasures. Harry realizes that he has a long road ahead of him in order to find all of these objects and destroy them before he can face Voldemort when he is mortal again.

This is another one of my top three favorite books and I loved this film. It has a lot of comic relief by showing the awkwardness between teenagers and falling in love. The memories that are shown are interesting, too. I like seeing what Tom Riddle was like before he became Voldemort.

Harry Potter: Order of the Phoenix (2007)

After spending another terrible summer vacation with the Dursley's, being attacked by Dementors and being punished by the Ministry for protecting both his cousin and himself from their soul-sucking kiss, Harry is feeling more like an outcast than ever before. He keeps suffering from terrible nightmares involving Cedric's death and Voldemort himself. He returns to school and the majority of the students feel that both he and Dumbledore are lying about the return of Voldemort.

The Ministry has also decided to intervene on the goings on at Hogwarts by appointing Dolores Umbridge as the new Defense Against the Dark Arts professor. Umbridge is a foul woman. She refuses to teach the student any sort of defensive spells and is brutal in her punishments against students. In order to ensure that students are being taught to defend themselves, Harry and his friends secretly form a group, Dumbledore's Army, where he teaches and they practice casting defensive spells.

Harry's dreams involving Voldemort end up invading his mind more and more on a daily basis. He witnesses him attacking people and him searching for something in the Ministry of Magic. It doesn't cause Harry to do anything rash until he has a dream where Sirius is being tortured by Voldemort. After all hell breaks loose at Hogwarts, Harry leaves with some of his friends from Dumbledore's Army to go save Sirius. What will happen once they get to the Ministry? Will they find Sirius before it's too late?

The best part of this film is when Dumbledore shows up and duels Voldemort. Dumbledore is awesome! You'd have to be insane to want to duel him.

Harry Potter: Goblet of Fire (2005)

Before the beginning of Harry's fourth year at Hogwarts, he has been enjoying a joyful summer vacation with his friends. They get tickets to go to the Quidditch World Cup Final, which all have been extremely excited to see. However, after the match, the excitement is cut short and turned into chaos as a group of Death Eaters sets fire to the visitors' tents and casts Voldemort's symbol for death, the Dark Mark, into the sky. This puts the Wizarding world into a panic-stricken state because people fear that the Dark Lord has returned for good.

Despite the incident at the World Cup, students are able to return to Hogwarts. Once they arrive to Hogwarts, they find out that it will play host to the Triwizard Tournament, which is a magical tournament  that takes place between Hogwarts and two other well-known schools of magic: Beauxbatons and Durmstrang. In order to enter the contest, the contestants must be above 17 years old and they must enter their name into the Goblet of Fire, which chooses three students, one from each school, who will compete in the tournament. On the night of the selection, however, the Goblet ends up spitting out four instead of three names, the fourth being Harry Potter. It is suspected, at first, that Harry somehow was able to hoodwink the Goblet into being selected, but it becomes obvious that he was not the one who entered his name. Thus, Harry is forced to compete in the tournament because the magic of the Goblet of Fire's selection cannot be reversed. Who entered his name? What will be the outcome of the tournament?

This is in my top three of my favorite books in the series, so I was expecting a lot out of this film. I love the film, but it definitely left out a lot. In the book, Harry worked very hard at learning and practicing spells in order to do well in the tournament. It would have been nice to have seen that. Also, Barty Crouch Jr.'s backstory was much more interesting in the book. I wish that they would have gone in that direction with that character. The film felt a bit rushed, especially between the second and third tasks.

I did like the darker tone that this film had. The return of Voldemort is one of the best scenes ever. It's disgusting and it's frightening. You can't help but feel terrible for Harry, Cedric, and Cedric's father at the end.

Harry Potter: Prisoner of Azkaban (2004)

Sirius Black, a murderer both the Wizarding and Muggle world fear, has escaped from Azkaban prison. He is the first to have done it and no one knows how he accomplished it or where he has gone to. No one is safe, especially Harry Potter. The Ministry has decided to take certain precautions to try and protect everyone, which means that they have Dementors, the soul-sucking beings that guard Azkaban and make you feel awful, are being placed at Hogwarts and Hogsemeade. However, the Dementors don't seem to be doing their job because Sirius Black still breaks into the school and attempts to enter Gryffindor tower. Everyone fears that Black has come to murder Harry, but for reasons Harry doesn't fully understand at first.  By the end, he finds out more about Black, his father's past, and himself, which leads him to saving more than one innocent life in one night with the help of his friends.

Prisoner of Azkaban was a good film, but it could have been much better. They left out some of the best parts of the book and added some unnecessary parts instead. The film should have gone into more detail about the Marauder's Map and its makers. It was one of the most interesting and intriguing parts of the book!

Harry Potter: Chamber of Secrets (2002)

Chamber of Secrets is much darker than Philosopher's Stone. I like it more because of this. Harry is very much an outcast in this one and has been dealing with a lot of unexplainable events. First, a house elf shows up and warns Harry. Then, he and Ron are unable to get through Platform 9 3/4 to go to Hogwarts. The Whomping Willow tries to murder both of them once the flying car they arrive in smashes into it. During his detention from arriving in the flying car, he starts hearing a voice moving through the wall, a voice only he can hear. Finally, Harry reveals that he is a Parseltongue during Dueling Club at school and now everyone thinks that he is the heir of Slytherin and the one who has opened the Chamber of Secrets, which holds home to a monster that either petrifies or kills its victims. The monster within the Chamber must be destroyed and who is better to kill it than Harry Potter himself?

My favorite scene in this film is when he discovers how Tom Riddle's diary works. I love how the diary writes back to him and how it takes him back 50 years ago to a memory that frames Hagrid as the heir of Slytherin. It's frightening how easy it was for Tom Riddle to gain Harry's trust. I also love when Harry realizes that Tom Riddle is Voldemort, slaughters the basilisk with Gryffindor's sword, and destroys Tom Riddle with one of the basilisk's fangs. I've been wondering though, if Harry hadn't destroyed the diary, does that mean that Voldemort would have come back as his 16 year old self? That would have been weird!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (2001)

I don't understand why they changed "Philosopher's" to "Sorcerer's" in the United States, so I'm keeping it as Philosopher's. The book and film that started it all. I love Philosopher's Stone, but it isn't my favorite. It's merely a fantastic introduction to an unbelievably outstanding series that people of all ages enjoy. 

I love how we get to learn about this amazing magical world through the eyes of a young orphaned child who has had basically nothing in his life prior to receiving his letter to Hogwarts. His life before is so sad because he's treated like he's something awful and that he deserves to have nothing and be treated like he is nothing. He's been forced to live in a cupboard under a staircase his whole life before this! No child or any person ever deserves to be treated like that. That is why it's so amazing when he finally is told that he is a wizard and gets to leave those awful people and be introduced to a completely different lifestyle. 

The only problem I have with this movie is with some of the CGI. The troll is probably the worst. It looks so terrible and I think they could have done a better job with it. Firenze is pretty awful, too. Voldemort's face on the back of Quirrel's head is just embarrassing. Other than that, the film is great. Sure, some of the acting is a little over the top at some points and there are some corny lines, but other than that, it's a good film. 

Monday, November 15, 2010

Harry Potter: Hogwarts

Ok, let's be serious. Hogwarts would be the best school ever. Not only are the classes awesome, but the place is full of mystery and it has a beautiful scenery. The place is definitely dangerous, too, which just adds to its mysteriousness. Hidden passageways are scattered all over the place, so you could go to grab a butterbeer from The Three Broomsticks or fizzing whizbees from Honeydukes with your friends if you all use an invisibility cloak! You can break a lot of rules there and you'll basically never be punished for doing so because a lot of the rule breaking will eventually be ruled as services to the school. 

The historical Sorting Hat will put you in whatever house suits you best and it even allows you to add some of your own personal input in making the choice. Each house has a secret location, which requires a password and  includes a common room and sleeping quarters. The Great Hall has an enchanted ceiling that is bewitched to look like the sky, as well as mimic the weather, which is a stellar effect. It also is where all the students get to enjoy their feasts, which of course includes endless amounts of delicious food.

The Forbidden Forest isn't entirely forbidden and it's home to many mystical creatures. As long as you use your head, you can't really get hurt in there. Definitely an awesome place to go for a walk in. You can go soak up the sun by the Black Lake while studying or sit there and watch the giant squid. The Quidditch field is another fantastic area, for either playing the game or just enjoying it. The Whomping Willow should probably only be admired from a distance, just to be safe.

I'm always wondering what house I would be placed in. According to the majority of Sorting House quizzes I've taken, I'd be placed in Ravenclaw. Gryffindor was a close second though. I'd probably ask the hat to place me in Gryffindor though. It has a history of having very respectable witches and wizards.  I also love lions and the color red. If you want to take one of these fun sorting quizzes click here for a more in depth one and here for a shorter one.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Harry Potter

I'm so excited for the release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part I that I've decided to dedicate this week to the entire series. This film looks like it's going to end up being the best of the series so far. It definitely has a darker and more mature tone to it than the previous ones have. I wish that they didn't split it into two separate parts that are being released at different times, but I see why they decided to do something like that. Part II won't be released until July 15, 2011, in the United Kingdom and the United States. If you want to find out when it will be released in your country, for both Part I and Part II, then you can check here. I've also included another trailer below.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Happy Birthday: Grace Kelly

Grace Kelly would have been 81 today. TCM is playing a couple of Grace Kelly movies today, Green Fire and The Swan. I haven't seen Green Fire, but I like The Swan. I still prefer the three Hitchcock films and I want to know why they aren't playing those instead. It feels more like a Rear Window, Dial M for Murder, and To Catch a Thief day to me.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Paranormal Activity

I honestly don't understand what was with all the hype about Paranormal Activity (2007). I was told by quite a few people that this film scared the hell out of them. Clearly, they haven't seen any true scary horror films. Sure, this film had some good scares in it, but it was mainly cheap jumpy scares. I imagine demons to be a lot more imaginative and frightening than this one, like in The Exorcist (1973). The demon in this film was more of a jokester and it only got worse when it was prompted to be so.

The scariest part of this film for me was how stupid the characters were. If you were being haunted by some sort of demon, then why the hell would you go out and buy an Ouija board to try to communicate with it more? Why would you continue to stay in the house after it left a message on the Ouija board? Why would you stay with some jackass who continues to bother the demon and abet it to do something more to make itself known? Micah was clearly an idiot and Katie should have gone somewhere else, especially when she was so scared. If she would have left, then Micah would have stopped the nonsense and followed her. They both had what was coming to them in the end because they really didn't do anything to try to stop or prevent the demon from harming them.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Happy Birthday: Claude Rains

I love Claude Rains and I love his voice. He was a fantastic actor and he was definitely underrated. I love him as Captain Renault in Casablanca and Alex Sebastian in Notorious. I can't decide which of these roles by him I prefer more. I'm leaning more towards Captain Renault right now because that character is more likable than momma's boy Alex Sebastian. Happy 121st Birthday, Claude! Next film I plan on watching with him in it is The Invisible Man (1933). Can you believe that a horror film addict like me hasn't seen this yet? Especially when I love Claude Rains?

Sunday, November 7, 2010

The Stepfather

I watched The Stepfather (1987) last night for the first time. I had it set up in my Netflix queue to be sent to me before Halloween, which is was, but I didn't have time to watch it. Seeing as I'm still sick with what seems to be the plague, I was more than happy to just sit, relax, and watch this movie. I liked this film too, another 80's film worth checking out, mainly for Terry O'Quinn's performance as the sociopath Jerry Blake.

Jerry Blake is all about family. He dreams of living the most perfect suburban life with the most perfect family. He marries widows and divorcees with children in order to try to find this perfect family. However, once he realizes that his family is not perfect, it puts him into a psychotic trance that drives him to murder everyone in it. Afterwards, he always alters his appearance and leaves town to start a new life and find a new unsuspecting family. 

A year after his latest massacre, he marries a widow named Susan Maine, who finds him to be absolutely charming and the perfect surrogate father for her teenage daughter Stephanie. Stephanie, however, feels that something about him just isn't right. Obviously, this means that Jerry Blake has not found the perfect family, yet again. How long will it take him to go completely insane? Will Stephanie and her mom get out alive? 

The film is a mix between a 48 Hour Mystery and a Dateline special with a hint of M (1938). I say a hint of M because both serial killers enjoy whistling around the time of their kills or just during a moment of insanity. The killer is much like one you'd find in a 48 Hour Mystery or Dateline special. In fact, the basis of Jerry Blake was loosely concocted from the story of John List, a man who killed his family in 1971 and was on the run until 1989. Of course, since the film was released in 1987, they didn't know whether or not the guy would ever be caught, which is why it's only loosely based on his story. 

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Hour of the Wolf

I just finished watching Ingmar Bergman's only horror film, Hour of the Wolf (1968). It's one of the strangest films that I have ever seen. It was a bit confusing about what was real and what wasn't at some points. The film is about an artist, Johan Borg, (Max von Sydow) who has been having nightmares about his past. He's chemically imbalanced and sees very odd visions involving a strange group of people that live in a castle. One night, during the 'hour of the wolf,' or the time between midnight and dawn, he decides to tell his wife, Alma, (Liv Ullmann) about his worst and most painful recollections of his life.

I loved this film because of how interesting, strange, and unnerving it was. I'll have to watch it again sometime to clear up some stuff that I'm a bit confused about. I can't decide if the wife was sane and then went insane by the end of the film. I liked the use of light and shadows in this film. It helped illuminate and emphasize the emotions being felt by the characters. The performances given by the entire cast make the film worth seeing. I'm always impressed by Max von Sydow and Liv Ullmann.

What a Day!

I'm home from work today. Yesterday was a day full of a series of unfortunate events for me, but I laughed it off for the most part because it was so ridiculous. I won't bother you with all the details because it was pretty disgusting; it dealt with my nose, my throat, and a lot of blood. Yesterday also involved a terrible train ride in the morning, a random Turkish restaurant with a very nice owner, and an awkward man on a different train ride asking me a series of questions about nothing. Seriously, nothing, I couldn't even tell you what he asked me because none of it made sense. I just nodded and smiled politely because I didn't know what else to do.

Last night, I basically got no sleep due to a severely bad sore throat and severe nose issues. This morning, I decided that I had to find an Ear, Nose, and Throat doctor because something was clearly wrong with me and I couldn't possibly put it off anymore. My visit resulted in me having to get my nose cauterized, which was a strange experience and my nose still feels a bit numb. Now, I'm relaxing and contemplating about going to sleep. I hate napping though.

I haven't watched any new movies lately. I miss my horror movies already, so maybe I'll watch some more today. Around Thanksgiving or the beginning of December, I'm thinking of starting another themed series of posts, 25 Days of Christmas or 31 Days of Holiday Classics. I hope all of you are having a great day!