Sunday, May 30, 2010

Dennis Hopper Passes Away at Age 74

If this week wasn’t depression enough, after hearing the lost of actor Gary Coleman, another great legend has left us. Actor Dennis Hopper passed away at age 74 at his home in the coastal Los Angeles suburb of Venice on Saturday. May 29, 2010. His death was due to complications from prostate cancer. It was widely reported last year that Hopper was diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer that had eventually metastasized to his bones. His illness had taken a serous toll on his body over the last few months, Hopper reportedly weighed only 100 pounds (45 kg) and was unable to carry on long conversations following his death.

Hopper was best known for his antihero style of method acting, playing the villain in his most notable roles. He was best remembered in such films as: “Blue Velvet”, “Hoosiers“, “True Romance“, “Speed“, “Waterworld“, and most notably “Easy Rider“, a film he Co-wrote and produced. In short, his best attributes as an actor was playing characters who didn't play by the rules, who always knew when to turn things upside down and make it in his own image. However his years in acting followed a huge array of controversy that span through over six decades, from drug allegations to five marriages over the course of his life, Hopper had always find himself in the center of controversy, though he had his rough edges as an individual, he was one of the finest actors to walk the silver screen in over a century, he made us laugh, cry and sometimes both at the same time, he was an actor with a rarity to make us feel pain and discontent while managing to satisfy us with a remarkable performance. It’s been reported that he was surrounded by family and friends during his final moments. He is survived by four children and two grandchildren. Here’s to hopping he finds peace wherever he is

R.I.P
May 17, 1936 – May 29, 2010

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Gary Coleman Dies At 42!

Actor Gary Coleman, the former child star of TV’s "Diff'rent Strokes" has passed away on Friday. May 28, 2010. Coleman was taken to a hospital after suffering a nasty fall in his Utah home and suffered a intracranial hemorrhage and slipped into a coma on Wednesday. May 26, 2010 as was reported by different news outlets earlier this week. He was said to be in critical condition and was placed on life support on Thursday. And it was reported by various news sites that Coleman’s wife, Shannon, made the decision to have him taken off of life support early Friday morning after receiving word that the star wouldn’t recover from his injury,

Coleman’s rep released a statement following the star‘s passing: "Thanks to everyone for their well wishing and support during this tragic time. Now that Gary has passed, we know he will be missed because of all the love and support shown in the past couple of days. Gary is now at peace and his memory will be kept in the hearts of those who were entertained by him throughout the years."

Coleman suffered a rocky career and privet life over the last two decades, from money problems and lawsuits, to legal charges connected to anger management issues. Coleman’s life was defiantly not one of dull moments, but much like other great childhood actors Gary Coleman knew how to entertain his viewers to the best of his ability, and never failed to put either a smile on our face or something to talk about over the years, though he was a hard individual to deal with at certain points in his life he will be missed.

R.I.P
February 8, 1968 – May 28, 2010

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Review: The Beatnicks (2000) [Reviewed By Clifford Kiyabu]

Directed by: Nicholson Williams
Written by: Nina Jo Baker (writer) & Nicholson Williams (writer)
Genre: Comedy / Drama / Fantasy
MPAA: Not Rated
Released: 6 April 2010
Starring: Norman Reedus, Mark Boone Junior, √Člodie Bouchez, Eric Roberts, Patrick Bauchau, Lisa Marie, Jon Gries.

Plot: The BeatNicks are poet Nick Nero (Norman Reedus) and musician Nick Beat (Mark Boone Jr.), a pair of misfits with bad fortune looking for a gig. Their luck begins to change when they find a box on the beach, a treasure chest of infinite beats that will set the stage for the ultimate success, a gig at the Monkey Club. But when Nick Nero falls in love with Nica (Elodie Bouchez), the club's owner, Mack Drake's (Eric Roberts) captive bride, he learns there are some truths better left unsought. Hard knocks and a trip to rock bottom reunite the Nicks to perform the gig of a lifetime, and return the box to its source.

Review: 6/10

The Story is about: Nick Nero (Mark Boone Junior) and Nick Beat (Norman Reedus) two best friends down on their luck stumble across a mysterious box that maybe the answer to all their

My Thoughts: I‘ve always had a deep respect for poets, because there’s an unspeakable beauty behind the words of poetry. It matter not how poetry is made, may it be written on a piece of paper or verbally spoken, poetry is transgender, it is color blind, and it holds no prejudice towards faith. Poetry tells a tale of it’s own which can undeniably describe pain, pleasure, fear, anger, empathy, and love. No matter how you want to put it, poetry is like food for the soul.

The Beatnicks is a remake of a 1996 thirty minute short-film by the same name and directed by the same director, Nicholson Williams. The film is an interesting leap into the world of poetry and with mystery. the movie follows two helpless buddies, Nick Nero (Norman Reedus) and Nick Beat (Mark Boone Junior) two life long companions who’ve formed their own two man poetry ensemble, while Nick Beat is the musician, Nick Nero is the talent with skills to pull random yet remarkable poetic rimes out of thin air, despite their talent it seems they can’t catch a break with their act and is quickly heading towards rock bottom if they aren‘t quick to make some cash soon. While I found the movie to be somewhat interesting, the film in general was (in my opinion) a hit and miss. The Beatnicks presented a mind boggling concept that manage to capture it’s viewer into it's world of poetry, and just enough mystery (The Mysterious Box) to keep you there wondering where they were going to take this film, but than the problems began to arise. For a film that was made just around ten years or so ago the film looks as though it was made in the early 80‘s, the audio and visual effects have disappointedly not aged well. As the film goes on the movie’s plot hits a pretty big fork in the road (or turnpike to better phrase it) very early on into the film, and becomes quite messy, so to speak. Now don’t get me wrong, I love a good multi-layered film as much as the next movie buff, because after all, a multi-plotted based story only enrich the film overall if done right. Unfortunately I found this film a bit disappointing in the sense that it presents an interesting plot and subplot but doesn’t quite reach that point where it’ll give full closure or satisfaction to the audience.

Now don’t get me wrong, The Beatnicks was not all bad. It did in fact have it’s redeeming qualities for what it was worth, for instance seeing actor Norman Reedus recite poetry with such dedication in his performance was really something to see. Another attribute this film had was the weird yet sometime comedic storyline which presented an oddball sense of wisdom within itself that I found most entertaining. The film’s romantic subplot, which I thought had the chance to really develop into something that was going somewhere with it’s set up (Nick Nero falling for Nica) ended up hitting an unfortunately Dead-end which was very disappointing, because the romantic aspect of the film really gave it a decent enough foundation to keep the film grounded and centered, I disliked the fact the romantic subplot fell apart faster than it did coming together, however there is still but one part of that subplot that I feel was a purely redeeming moment for the film, and that’s a scene that takes place on a beach towards the ending, I won’t give much of the details away as to prevent any spoilers, but know that I found it to be romantically touching. Even though I’ve said some very negative thing about this film, I still urge those who express a deep desire to see this film to rent it, if not for anything but to at least check it out once.

As for the acting: The acting is fairly decent, though I admit there was a lot of room for improvement here that was overlooked, but still it was pretty okay. Norman Reedus was fantastic to say the least in the lead role of Nick Nero, he stuck strongly true to his performance throughout. Anyone who’s a Reedus fan will want to see this film if for anything, his performance above all. Mark Boone Junior did a fine job in the role of Nick Beat, his character kept the film’s plot out of the norm mostly throughout. his great performance derives really from the fact he’s been playing ‘That Guy’ in movies for years, you know what I’m talking about, the guy who’s always in the supporting role and never the lead, while some might see that as demeaning I on the other hand praise him for it because it‘s kept him humbled as an actor. √Člodie Bouchez was lacking in my opinion, she came off rather dull and an extremely two-dimensional in her delivery, I really wanted to believe in her performance because she seems like a sweet person who has a lot of potential, but at the end of the day you really have to step back and judge what you see truthfully to how it played out. Patrick Bauchau gave a fine performance that really stood out for me, because he was like the hippy wise man in the film that has all the answers but none to offer (If that makes any sense at all [Laughs]), it was certainly not in the norm if you ask me. Jon Gries did a fantastic job, I found his character to be one of the most entertainingly in the film, however it was sad to see he had such a short screen time. Eric Roberts is in my opinion, one of the most unappreciated actors to date, the man has starred in a slew of films and shows throughout a number of decades, and yet he isn’t giving as much props for it as his sister has. However the man makes bad look so good and he does so by playing the role of the film’s villain (if can really call him that, that is) his role in the film was somewhat disappointing though because it had the potential to develop into something great and ended up being sub-par.

Final Say: After sitting back and looking at the grand scheme of things I found The Beatnicks to be the type of film that was released after it’s prime, and would have had more success with a movie going audience if it had been realest during it’s original release date. Though the film had many faults to it I found it to be interesting in that artsy kind of way, and though I wouldn’t recommend holding my breath for buying this film I would recommend renting it at least once for the sake of curiosity.

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Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Review: A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010) [Reviewed By Clifford Kiyabu]

Directed by: Samuel Bayer
Written by: Wesley Strick (screenplay) & Eric Heisserer (screenplay)
Genre: Fantasy / Horror / Thriller
MPAA: Rated R for strong bloody horror violence, disturbing images, terror and language.
Released: 30 April 2010 (USA)
Starring: Jackie Earle Haley, Kyle Gallner, Katie Cassidy, Rooney Mara.

Plot: A re-imagining of the horror icon Freddy Krueger, a serial-killer who wields a glove with four blades embedded in the fingers and kills people in their dreams, resulting in their real death in reality.

Review: 7/10

The Story is about: Nancy, Kris, Quentin, Jesse and Dean all live on Elm Street. At night, they're all having the same dream--of the same man, wearing a tattered red and green striped sweater, a beaten fedora half-concealing a disfigured face and a gardener's glove with knives for fingers. One by one, he terrorizes them within the curved walls of their dreams, where the rules are his, and the only way out is to wake up. But when one of their own dies a violent death, they soon realize that what happens in their dreams happens for real, and the only way to stay alive is to stay awake.

My Thoughts: As children we are taught that dreams are the one place where harm could not come to us, that we’re completely safe from the dangers that allude us on a daily bases, in our dreams we were untouchable and the sky‘s the limits when it comes to the possibilities through our imagination. That was of course until November 9th 1984, the day a little known independent film called ‘A Nightmare on Elm Street’ was released to a small limited amount of theaters and the way we perceived our dream where changed forever. This monumental film gave birth to a new meaning of terror, because for the first time there was an entity of pure evil that we couldn’t hide safely away from, that evil was grafted into the form of a man named Fred Krueger, an evil that could bring harm to us when we’re at our most venerable; our sleep. The Elm Street franchise has over the last few decades spawned five sequels, a T.V. Show, an unofficial New Nightmare (Wes Craven's New Nightmare (1994)) and one iconic crossover (Freddy vs. Jason (2003)). And just when we thought it was safe to go to bed again, evil is re-imagined on the big screen in a whole new way. The only question that remains is; does this new re-imagining match up to the bar that was set over 20 years ago?

“One, Two, Freddy's coming for you.”

Unfortunately I’m afraid the answer is not as simple as I’d like it to be, while I’d like to say a simple yes or no would be sufficient enough to sum up how I feel towards this film, nothing simple however will give it proper justification because it’s not that easily put. Before I go on I want to point out one very crucial and pressing matter that should be noted; first and foremost, I am a devout Krueger fan, have been since I was barely old enough to remember, I’d watch the Elm Street films with so much dedication growing up that I’ve made it a yearly ritual to watch all six of the Elm Street films, plus Wes Craven's New Nightmare and Freddy vs. Jason (in that order) every year in the month of October, so know that I’m as hardcore as I can personally be without reaching that dangerous level of weirdness that would make people question my sanity! [Laughs]. While I may agree with the majority here in the vain that this will never be the Freddy Krueger we grew up with, it is in my opinion however the Krueger we’ll have to live with for better or worst. Though I admit from the get-go I was not too keen about this re-imagining at first, because why would you try and fix something that isn’t broken? Sure the original franchise has had it’s ups and downs over the years (Let us never forget how horrible and premature Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare was) but no matter what, the franchise has always managed to pull through and carry on, so when I heard about this film being made I was not pleased to say the least, what was even more so despicable was the fact that actor Robert Englund, the man who breathed life into the character wasn’t reprising his iconic role in the film, and as the saying goes, there’s only one man for that job and his name’s Englund!

“Three, Four, better lock your door.”

But then it got me thinking, I hadn’t for one moment considered the possibility of someone else picking up the mantel after Robert was done with the role, I mean it was bound to happen sooner or later, and whether we liked the sound of it or not it was going to happen, so to that thought I decided to stand back and give this new Freddy a chance. Going into the film I decided my only course of action if I planed to get any form of enjoyment out this film was to abandon everything I had ever known about Freddy at the theater door. As I sat there watching this new chapter in horror unravel before me I found the film had both it‘s good and bad points, I found the first quarter of the film to be quite entertaining but lacking a great deal in chills and thrills, the diner scene in particular however was a decent set up which I thought also paid homage to the later films of the old series. However not long after that is where the film really begins to slow down to a stance of near boredom due to the fact the film’s main focus was on Freddy’s victims, which would have been great if they weren’t so two-dimensionally developed. I did however find the plot to be interesting because if was a retelling of the original and yet it was nothing like it, aside from a few scenes which played out like a tribute to the original Elm Street film (the scene in which Nancy‘s friend is killed in the bedroom, Freddy‘s glove seen in the bathtub, and the scene where Nancy see’s here dead friend in the school hall in a bloody body bag) other than just a few scene’s here and there this film was generally nothing like the original, though the outline of the plot remains the same, sort of speak. We have a completely new telling which also gives Freddy a whole new origins that paints a much darker and sadistic picture of his past and goes more in detail of the abusive acts of mutilation and pedophilia that was going on pre-Nightmare.

“Five, Six, grab your crucifix.”

While I liked the idea that was presented, there was problems I had with the film, which believe me there were quite a few issues. For starters the film seemed to focus too much on quick shriek and scares on the audience rather than well thought-out kills that were clever and skillful which is what basically made watching the Elm Street films memorable to begin with because it was all about the uniqueness of the individuals deaths that drew us in for more each and every time, and here uniqueness was missing and the possibilities were wasted, but don’t get me wrong, sure the sudden ‘jump at you’ tactic works for the film at first but it gets old quite fast and becomes repetitive to such a point where you begin to predict them happening beforehand, in other wards, if everything goes silent in the film or if one of the characters found themselves alone for some reason than prepare for a loud bang followed by Freddy popping up for a quick kill. Another problem I had was the film's ending, not because of the way it ended, but because it seemed like a lackluster ending, the film felt like it was building up to something big only to end on a somewhat low note which was a bit of a let down but still not disappointing. Last but not least I had problems with the way Krueger’s burnt appearance was perceived in the film, because it felt like the filmmakers where going too overboard with the authenticity of a real burn victim. I understand that they wanted to go in a more realist direction on the way Freddy should appear in the film, and I get it, but what I feel the filmmakers failed on was the fact Freddy didn’t just look the way he did back when Robert Englund was in the role because he was burnt by fire, yes part of that was due to it, but in the dream world he could have looked however way he wanted to but chose that look instead because it reflected the raw evil that lurked within him, it was a reflection of what he truly was deep down inside which was a force of nature to be reckoned with. Sadly though I feel the filmmakers missed their opportunity with properly presenting that in the re-imagining.

“Seven, Eight, gonna stay up late.”

As for the acting: it was pretty decent for a film like this, usually the acting is where films in this genre get me going on a rant because the actors either don’t do a good enough job or they simply go overboard on their performance, but surprisingly the acting was not as bad as I originally expected, but don’t hold me to my word on this one, while I may have thought the acting was somewhat decent, it’s quality is only decent on a grand scale but doesn’t seem to hold up all that well when compeering individually. First off actor Jackie Earle Haley did a fantastic job as Freddy, he’s performance in my opinion brought the character back home to it’s grassroots of terror. Sure I know many will disagree with me on this one because I myself would have done the same had I been in a different mindset going in. Many will say they miss Freddy’s wisecracking one-liners or his wickedly malicious sense of humor, while it may be true that those qualities is what made the character we all know and love, in all honesty that isn’t the way he was to begin with (or at least to me that is). In the original Elm Street, Krueger was a straight down to business type of killer that didn’t waste time telling jokes or one-liners before killing his victims, no, that came about in the later films where he traded up screams for laughter and became a campy figure that was no longer a threat to us. In the re-imagining Krueger is put back into the mindset of fear making him more a driving force of terror rather than he was in past films, my disappointment in Haley’s performance however was that there was so much potential that goes completely wasted here, the possibilities where there and yet nothing followed through, perhaps it was lacking on his part, or perhaps it was the filmmakers fault for lacking the capability to realize it.

“Nine, Ten, never sleep again."

Aside from Haley’s satisfactory performance, the rest of the cast’s performance goes from being okay, to poorly, and than down right annoying. Katie Cassidy’s performance was pretty good, she managed to keep me focused into the film‘s plot long enough for the film to reveal the real lead, plus for those who don’t know any better the way her character is portrayed in the film makes you think for a second that she might be the lead. Kyle Gallner did an okay job in the role of Quentin, though I found one major flow in his performance that bothered me with distraction, his character lacked the emotional response that a person would feel after losing their friends. I wont lie to you here; Thomas Dekker performance was quite sloppy in my opinion, the only thing good to came out of his performance was watching him die on screen. The biggest disappointment of all however, is the performance and re-characterization of the film’s heroine, Nancy Holbrook, which is played by Rooney Mara, the Nancy in this film is loosely based off of Nancy Thompson from the original Elm Street films. My problem here is that in the original, Nancy, was a normal teen who stepped up and decided she wasn’t going to take it anymore and was going to put a stop to Krueger’s rain of terror before it was too late, but on her turf and not his. She basically turned her own home into a weapon against Freddy in the most imaginative manner possible which screamed originality! (And to think folks, this was 7 years before Home Alone ripped off the idea in a family friendly fashion). But in this re-imagining she’s suddenly an artsy joy deprived teen who spent the majority of the film acting depressed and heavily medicated rather than becoming the brave young heroine we rooted for, not to mention the actress’s performance seemed way to hollow to feel any form sympathy towards her character’s well being! After summarizing it all up, the change of characterization in Elm Street cost the film’s ability for the audience to relate to the characters, making it a big double D; depressing and disappointing.

Final Say: in hindsight of everything I’ve said about the Elm Street re-imagining, both in positive and negative, I found the film generally entertaining, though the first 40 or so minutes is a snooze fest, and the film lacked a blowout ending. However the film did present an interesting new take on a classic horror that laves the door wide open for new and fresh possibilities to better itself in future sequels. I feel compelled to withhold my recommendation on seeing this film in theaters because it just doesn’t hold up all that well next to the original, however I do recommend seeing it at least once on DVD/Blu-Ray.

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