Category Archives: Watchlist

“Scream” and “Creep”

A friend of mine asked me not too long ago, what would you do with your time/career if money were no object? It caught me by surprise and it’s one of those questions that’s fun, scary and unrealistic to answer all at the same time.

Without thinking about it too much, I said I would dedicate more time to this blog. It’s something I started as a hobby and to be a break from what I do in my working life. Now it’s a challenge to focus on it and my creativity as much as I would like. It’s a small thing I would like to do if I had the time and didn’t need to worry about anything else. Oh and you could find me volunteering at an animal shelter.

In the meantime, I woke up thinking about one of the drafts that’s been in the works for a while so I put on a pot of coffee and here I am.

“Do you like scary movies?”

screamOn Halloween, I decided to revisit “Scream” after my shift at the cinema and seeing that it would no longer be streaming on Netflix come Nov. 1.

I enjoyed watching it again and having not seen it for many years made a few of the twists seem fresh again.

It was a reminder of how the movie-in-a-movie format by Wes Craven holds up with the right amount of fright and camp and (for people who were in high school at the time the movie came out) references to 1990s culture.

I talked about watching it again with one of my coworkers and the next day he sent me a video about a young filmmaker who raised money in the late 1980s by going door-to-door in his neighborhood to make his own horror movie,  “There’s Nothing Out There”

Interviewed by London filmmaker and critic Charlie Lyne in “Copycat,” Rolfe Kanefsky tells how he brought his love of horror movies to the page by writing a script in five days and achieving success with his project at an independent film festival in New York. The film almost made it to Hollywood before there was a bust in the horror genre in 1990. Kanefsky continued to show it to producers including Jonathan Craven, Wes Craven’s son, and several years later “Scream” was released.

Lyne describes Kanefsky as diplomatic about what happened to his film and the similarities between it and “Scream,” but the video interview and clips of “There’s Nothing Out There,” you’ll see really take Wes Craven’s film down a notch, sadly.

If you haven’t seen “Scream,” or would like to revisit it like I did it’s worth the trip down memory lane but I also recommend watching Lyne’s interview with Kanefsky before you go there.

In other news, if you’re in the mood to watch something scary (and original) try “Creep.” It presents a unique take on the found-footage style and its fair share of  scares and unsettling moments.

creepPatrick Brice and Mark Duplass wrote and star in the film about a filmmaker who takes a job through a Craigslist ad helping a dying father make a video diary for his son. Duplass plays Josef, the father, and Brice is the filmmaker, Aaron. They are the only characters in the film and a lot of it is seen through Aaron’s camera lens as he films Josef’s story. The style presents a voyeuristic experience for the viewer and made the scares Aaron experiences all the more terrifying when you could only hear, but not see, his reactions.

So, if you’re staying home and watching movies today, as you should, these are some options. Rotten Tomatoes also put out a list of the best  horror films (just in time for Halloween – but almost a month late) to check out.

I am going to see “Brooklyn” today, and maybe “Truth” since it is likely on its way out of the theaters.

That is all, bye friends!


The Martian … and movies to help kill time until Nov. 25

Real quick, stop what you’re doing and watch the first trailer for “The Martian.”

martian-gallery3-gallery-imageIt comes out on Nov. 25 and it’s my favorite movie.

Here’s the rundown:

Matt Damon is lost in space (but not forever because he — I mean his character Astronaut Mark Watney — can survive anything.)

My girl Jessica Chastain (who says lines in the movie like “Let’s go get our boy”) stars opposite Damon.

Jeff Daniels returns to the big screen in what will be his best role since “Speed.”

Kristen Wiig is in the trailer twice making faces like a shocked emoji, as described by Chris Ryan and Andy Greenwald on the Hollywood Prospectus podcast.

You’ve already watched the trailer,  I hope, by the time you’re reading this sentence so I shouldn’t need to tell you now to mark you calendar for Nov. 25.

In the meantime, I will try to catch up on the Matt Damon movies I haven’t seen. He’s had a bit of a science fiction kick lately with “Elysium” and “Interstellar” so maybe I’ll start there to prepare for :The Martian.” I suppose I could also read the book, which Greenwald and Ryan said on their podcast was sold for movie rights even before the author finished writing it.

If by chance you have seen every Matt Damon movie AND read “The Martian” then here are a few other film suggestions to occupy your time for the next six months.

Sunshine Superman

Sunshine_superman_StillThis documentary about “BASE” jumper Carl Boenish was briefly in the theaters and should be on DVD or streaming soon. I had the chance to see it in the theater, which added to the beauty of all the footage Boenish had from his skydiving and other jumping excursions in the 1970s and 1980s. I actually knew very little about Boenish’s story and watching it unfold on screen, again through his jump footage, home movies and some media interviews(with Pat Sajak!), made it all the more interesting to learn about.

“I don’t want to grow old or grow up.” – Carl Boenish

“Ex Machina”

exmachinaBack to the science fiction genre, “Ex Machina” delves into artificial intelligence and testing the ability of one, Ava, to display human emotions. Caleb (Domhnall Gleeson) is selected by Nathan (a bearded Oscar Isaac) to spend time with Ava over one week at his remote house. What could go wrong? The film has its share of twists and turns to keep the viewer in suspense about Ava and Caleb and how much power Nathan, as the inventor, really has. There are certainly scenes where I wanted to close my eyes, but trust me, don’t do it. Oscar Isaac dances, and you don’t want to miss that.

“While We’re Young”

youngIf you’re in the mood for some lighter fare, with a healthy dose of life lessons, try Noah Baumbach’s “While We’re Young.”

In a way, the film is “Frances Ha” with a focus on 40-somethings. Ben Stiller and Naomi Watts star as Josh and Cornelia. Josh is a filmmaker struggling to finish a project who meets Jamie (Adam Driver) while teaching a class. Jamie and his wife Darby (Amanda Seyfried) befriend Josh and Cornelia, who are awakened by their bond with the couple.

It’s a funny film with moments of seriousness that bring Josh and Cornelia’s relationship and next life decisions to the forefront for the viewer.

Baumbach’s next film, “Mistress America,” stars his partner Greta Gerwig (also from “Frances Ha”) and he is also the writer on Lake Bell’s next project starring Jeff Bridges.

I hope Baumbach continues to work with actors like Stiller (“Greenberg”) and Driver and explore themes like life and love. In the meantime I’ll just watch the “Modern Love” scene from “Frances Ha” on repeat.

frances ha

Good news, “While We’re Young” will be on DVD June 30.

pitch“Pitch Perfect 2”

Last but certainly not least, I am sure you will have a free two hours before November to spend with the Barden Bellas. I kept my expectations in check with this one and the film started out a little weak, but I was pleasantly surprised by the end.

And, comedy nerds rejoice, Reggie Watts, John Hodgman and Joe Lo Truglio all have roles in the movie. Adam Devine, Keegan-Michael Key and David Cross round out the comedy cast and, what can I say, I do enjoy a good singing battle led by Anna Kendrick.

As soon-to-be star of “Pitch Perfect 3” John Hodgman would say, “That is All.”

For Wiggles and Giggles

As far as I know, the phrase “wiggles and giggles” has nothing to do with movies but I did hear it a lot from the guy who was fixing the heat at my office this week. He was talking on the phone with his boss or someone to help alleviate the problem and repeatedly said well, for “wiggles and giggles” why don’t we try this?

So, for wiggles and giggles here are some movies and television shows I am excited about at the moment.

My buddies Andy Greenwald and Chris Ryan over at Grantland said, during one of their many podcasts about Matthew McConaughey’s revival, that Jake Gyllenhaal is another fellow to watch out for on the big screen.

if there were a catch phrase like “McConaissance” that worked with his name I’d use it here.

untitled 3Post “Prisoners,” Gyllenhaal is working with director Denis Villeneuve again playing a real doppelganger role in “Enemy.”

Need I say more? The trailer is really all I needed to be on board for this film. Even though I didn’t like “Prisoners,” Gyllenhaal’s performance as Detective Loki did save the film.

Also of note is the upcoming “Nightcrawler” with Gyllenhaal as a man who discovers the underground world of freelance crime journalism in Los Angeles. Plus Rene Russo is in it. Maybe 2014 will be her year too. (No disrespect, “Major League” is one of my favorite movies.)

untitled 2I’ll conclude this stream of consciousness with another little tidbit I heard about on Grantland, the show “The Strain” coming out on FX in July. It stars Corey Stoll (who I really liked on “House of Cards”) as a doctor in New York City investigating, “a mysterious viral outbreak with hallmarks of an ancient and evil strain of vampirism.” Guillermo del Toro will be behind the camera as a writer, director and producer working with vampire-trilogy author Chuck Hogan.

I don’t know anything about the books and I have not followed the vampire craze in Hollyweird, but something makes me think this small-screen debut will be where it’s at.

Okay, that is all for today.

Oh wait! I didn’t watch it yet but my coworker told me about the documentary (on Netflix streaming) “The Price of Gold.” If you didn’t already guess, the film dissects the story of Tonya Harding and Nancy Kerrigan before “the attack.”

Watch it, you know, for wiggles and giggles.