Have you any idea why a raven is like a writing desk?
— The Mad Hatter
It’s been awhile seen I reviewed a movie, but it’s nice to get back to the swing of things with Tim Burton’s take of Alice in Wonderland. There had been many iterations of this movie for almost a hundred years. Now, modern audiences have a 3D extravaganza that is tearing up the box office. I did not see this movie in 3D. It was a good thing I did, because this movie would more unbearable to watch.
This movie is a continuation of the original story by Lewis Carroll; Alice (Mia Wasikowska) is now nineteen-years-old. She has strange dreams from her time in Wonderland, but her father Charles Kingsleigh (Marton Csokas) dismissed them as such until the day he died. He left Alice and his wife, Helen (Lindsay Duncan) virtually penniless.
The two arrive at the house of Lord and Lady Ascot (Tim Pigott-Smith, Geraldine James) for what it seems like a social gathering. It turns that their son, Hamish (Leo Bill) is going to ask Alice to marry him. Alice thinks that she cannot possibly marry a man that she doesn’t love. Throughout the day, she thought that she saw a rabbit with a top coat. She decides to follow it instead and fall into the seemingly endless rabbit hole.
Alice believes that she is dreaming the whole time that she is in Wonderland. There are voices asking if this was the same Alice that came thirteen years ago. Looking around this seemingly unfamiliar place, Alice meets up with the White Rabbit (Michael Sheen), Tweedledee, Tweedledum (Matt Lucas), Dormouse (Barbara Windsor) and other strange creatures of Wonderland, who are trying to figure out if they found the right Alice.
They take her to the Blue Caterpillar (Alan Rickman) that is smoking a hookah is trying to test her to see that she is the same Alice as before. If she was, she needs to find the inner strength she had when she was six to fulfill a prophecy for a chose warrior to help defeat Jabberwocky (Christopher Lee), a dragon that belongs to The Red Queen (Helena Bonham-Carter) who usurped his sister, The White Queen’s (Anne Hathaway) kingdom shortly after Alice left.
The Knave of Hearts (Crispin Glover) and the Red Army try to capture the group with a white monster called a Bandersnatch, but Dormouse plucked out one of its eyeballs to allow Alice to escape deeper into the woods. The Knave of Hearts retrieved the scroll and brings it back with the Tweedles back to the Red Queen. He tells her about the prophecy. The Red Queen wants to find Alice before the prophecy can be fulfilled.
Wondering through the forest alone, Alice meets the Cheshire Cat (Stephen Fry) that convinces her to follow the sly cat to the place with the Mad Hatter (Johnny Depp) is at with the March Hare (Paul Whitehouse) having another tea party. The Mad Hatter is delighted to see Alice and is also there to protect her when the Knave of Hearts tries to find her again. He is captured and taken to the Red Queen’s castle. Now, Alice has to find a way to break her friends free and defeat the Jabberwocky.
I don’t know what is up with Tim Burton remaking, re-imagining, reinterpreting classic children’s books or movies, but he needs to stop it. Just because you put your own Tim Burtonesque spin on it doesn’t make it good. It was boring. I didn’t care for Alice who was stoic the whole movie. The Red Queen screaming “Off with his/her/their head(s)!” every five minutes. The White Queen acted like she was high off ecstasy. The Mad Hatter was supposed to be a mood ring, but he was blue in my eyes. Neutral. Nothing. The Tweedles were just there. The only characters I liked where the Cheshire Cat and the Blue Caterpillar. What the fuck is with that ending?
Judgment: I didn’t care for this movie at all. Watch the animated classic film instead.
Nothing is permanent, not even death.
Terry Gilliam’s latest effort, The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus received unwanted before it completed production when the main actor, Heath Ledger, tragically died during filming. Gilliam’s ingenuity brought Johnny Depp, Colin Farrell, and Jude Law on board to finish the movie. With spectacular visuals inside the imaginarium, this must be the most coherent movie in Gilliam’s filmography.
On a typical night in London, a traveling theater troupe called “The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus” sets up shop on a random street. Anton (Andrew Garfield) dressed as Mercury introduces the thousand-year-old Parnassus (Christopher Plummer) to a bunch of drunkards stumbling out of a nightclub nearby. One of them rushes the stage and assaults the performers. He tries to make a move on the girl, Valentina (Lily Cole), who is Parnassus’ fifteen-year-old daughter. He steps inside the stage mirror to go to another world. He explores the world is killed inside.
After the latest incident, the performers want to leave, including Parnassus’s longtime sidekick, Percy (Verne Troyer) as a strange man appears, Mr. Nick (Tom Waits). He is the personification of the Devil. He visits Dr. Parnassus to remind of deal that they made centuries before in order for him to gain immorality. When his daughter turns sixteen, her soul will come into the possession of Mr. Nick. Valentina is unaware of this deal until it is almost too late.
When Parnassus tries to retell the story of the pact, he is interrupted when the caravan stops on the bridge, because Anton believed that he saw a dancing shadow. Valentina surmises that it’s a man hanging under them. They realized that it is a man (Ledger) hanging off the bridge with a small golden flute in his throat. When Valentina saves his life, the man doesn’t remember his name, but he has symbols on his forehead. Parnassus thinks that Mr. Nick sent Tony to collect his prize.
The troupe takes in the strange man. Valentina decided to call the new man, “George”. She is drawn to him even though Anton is clearly head-over-heels in love with her. George’s charms as a barker bring in people to view the show.
Mr. Nick visits Parnassus to make another bet that whoever gets five souls in the magical stage mirror in two days with keep Valentina. George’s ruse unravels when picking up a paper, George realizes that he is a missing head of Children’s charity named Tony Shepard.
One night everything goes wrong after Anton overhears the bet between Parnassus and Mr. Nick. He tries to stop the bet, but Tony interferes with it. After the successful fiasco, Anton tells Tony the mystery of the mirror. The next day, Tony suggests to change the show to appeal to a modern audience. They do. A woman goes into the mirror and Tony wants to know what’s inside the mirror so he steps in to the magical world beyond where is transformed into a different person entirely.
I admire Terry Gilliam. Every one of his productions are plagued with problems with flash floods, the studio financing falling through or their main actor dies in the middle of shoot, he finds a way to make it work. Shit storms are falling on him and he continues to dig through it.
Gilliam is not known for his subtle movies. They are more abstract, at best. I had huge problem with the ending of the movie. I thought that a man putting the moves on sixteen-year-old was so wrong. I don’t care if it was in the imaginarium. I did not understand Tony’s motive at the end of the movie. I suppose he wanted to stay in the imaginarium, the perfect world that he created by his attitude changed a good 180 in five seconds.
Judgment: I think this is the best last movie an actor could ever want.
I was raised on a farm in Moooresville, Indiana. My mama ran out on us when I was three, my daddy beat the hell out of me cause he didn’t know no better way to raise me. I like baseball, movies, good clothes, fast cars, whiskey, and you… what else you need to know?
— John Dillinger
Public Enemies was one of my most anticipated movies of this past summer. I saw the still pictures and the behind the scenes footage at the beginning of the year. I was going to watch this film, but the reviews of the film let out of collective “meh.” I didn’t go. I thought that I might wait for the film to come out on DVD to watch it. I have to concur with the reviews.
Taking place in 1933 in the heart of the Great Depression, John Dillinger (Johnny Depp) is brought to the Indiana State Penitentiary, there is a bold attempt to escape by several inmates; Pete (David Wenham), Homer (Stephen Dorff), Walter (James Russo) and a guard, John (Jason Clarke) with Dillinger in the middle of it.
FBI burueu chief J. Edgar Hoover (Billy Crudup) enlists Melvin Purvis (Christian Bale) to find Dillinger who is in Chicago robbing several banks along their crime spree.
On the wild night on town, John meets Billie Frechette (Marion Cotillard) and they quickly became a couple. With Purvis on their tail, the gang tries to be one step ahead of the fed. Purvis is frustrated that the inadequate people working under him are threatening him arresting Dillinger. When Johnny is finally recaptured, he becomes a celebrity in his own right.
The camerawork that Michael Mann implemented with the digital camera instead of the traditional film works for me. When I saw the trailers for this movie, I was leery with it. Sometimes there is ghosting on the screen, but I felt like I was there with Dillinger and his crew.
The scenes in general are drawn out like a rubber band that you wish that it would break. The story is uninteresting to say the least. I wasn’t expecting a grand gangster film with lots of gunfights, but the characters are shallow, the dialogue is so-so, the movie overall is okay. It’s nothing special. Lastly, this might sound superficial, but the second tier henchmen in this movie looked ridiculous with their bowl hair cut and questionable facial hair.
Judgment: Watch this movie with the sound off and enjoy the visuals.
One, two, Freddy’s coming for you. / Three, four, better lock your door. / Five, six, grab your crucifix. / Seven, eight, better stay awake. / Nine, ten, never sleep again.
Since news of a remake to A Nightmare on Elm Street became known, I decided to revisit the Wes Craven original before watching the retread. This is not your typical slasher movie. It’s about a killer that kills you in your dreams. It’s more like mental warfare. That’s scary. This movie freaked me out when I was younger. Seeing it now, it stills creeps me out.
Tina, Nancy, Glen and Rod (Amanda Wyss, Heather Langenkamp, Johnny Depp, Nick Corri) are teenagers in the neighborhood are having terrible dreams about a “bogeyman” of sorts. They realized that they were having dreams about the same disfigured man in a red and green sweater with glove made of knives. His name is Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund).
During a sleepover at Tina’s house, the foursome is alone together in the house. As the night drags on, Tina and Rod have sex. Something mysterious happens in the house when pebbles are thrown at the window and nobody is there or a strange figure is coming out of the walls.
Tina hears the sound of her name whispered outside. She goes to investigate and is confronted by the monster her dreams, Freddy Krueger. Only she is not awake, she is having what looks like a night terror. She thrashes on the bed, blood coming from an open wound. She levitates and dragged along the wall to the ceiling where she dies.
Nancy’s father, Donald (John Saxon) is called to find Rod in connection with Tina’s murder. At the stationhouse, Nancy is at his office with her mother, Marge (Ronee Blakley) where she explains to her parents about Tina’s dreams about somebody trying to kill her.
The days after the incident, Rod is arrested and Nancy is haunted by the possibility that she might suffer the same fate if she falls asleep. Every time, she dozes off Freddy comes after her. She realizes that her imagination is coming true.
I heard that this was Johnny Depp’s movie debut as Nancy’s boyfriend, Glen. Huh. The movie has not aged well. It’s twenty-five years old. The special effects are a little wonky with the extending arms or the obvious stunt double when Freddy’s on fire. There is something about the way that Tina runs screams cliqued horror movie girl with the flailing arms and constantly looking back.
Judgment: I want everybody to watch this movie before watching the remake.
I may be a drape, but I love your granddaughter. And if that’s a crime, I’ll stand convicted, ma’am.
— Wade “Cry-Baby” Walker
I believe that Cry-Baby is my first experience watching a John Waters movie from beginning to end. Known for his subversive movies, I was hesitant watching this film. I didn’t know how what to expect. I was surprised that this movie was more of a musical that anything else. It doesn’t that this is a good movie.
Taking place in Baltimore 1954, Wade Walter aka Cry Baby (Johnny Depp) and Allison Vernon-Williams (Amy Locane) meet each other while getting a vaccination at the gym. They like each other but it like John Waters’ version of “Romeo and Juliet”. Cry-Baby is a Drape, one of the juvenile delinquents of the town. However, Alison is a Square through and through with her boyfriend Baldwin (Stephen Mailer) and grandmother (Polly Bergen) try to reel her inner drape back.
The two factions clash as Cry-Baby wants to participate in the RSVP talent contest at Mrs. Vernon-Williams’ charm school. Cry-Baby crashes the contest to whisk Alison away on his brand new motorcycle from his grandmother, Ramona Rickettes (Susan Tyrrell), grandmother and uncle Belvedere (Iggy Pop) to his favorite drape hang out, Turkey Point.
Alison meets the rest of Cry-Baby crew that doesn’t tale a liking to the outsider. There is Cry-Baby’s badass pregnant sister Pepper (Ricki Lake), the vixen Wanda (Traci Lords) and the couple Milton (Darren E. Burrows) and Hatchet-Face (Kim McGuire). There is a Drape wannabe Lenora (Kim Webb) has a crush on Cry-Baby, she is the romantic rival.
At the Drapes’ own talent show, Jukebox Jamboree showed Alison what Cry-Baby can do with his voice, hips and electric guitar-playing. Alison is torn between her duties of being with her Square boyfriend, Baldwin or have a wild ride with Cry-Baby.
The movie was short. It felt rushed. It was shallow. Pop in and out. That’s it. I wasn’t invested in the character long enough to care about them. The musical sequences were very entertaining. That’s all.
Judgment: I heard that there is a Broadway musical of this movie, I’d rather see that.
I hate to say this, but this place is getting to me. I think I’m getting the Fear.
— Dr. Gonzo
This is my first foray into the directing style of Terry Gilliam. I saw the Criterion version of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Wow. This movie is twisted mind fuck.
I am not saying that this is a bad movie. It’s not the kind of movie that pulls me in.
On a road trip to Las Vegas, Raoul Duke (Johnny Depp) and his lawyer, Dr. Gonzo (Benincio del Toro) encounter strange characters and situations as they migrate their way throughout the city of pure fantasy.
Being high on copious amounts of drugs, the duo doesn’t know what is real and what is not.
This movie makes me think what an empty life drug addicts have.
Its very straightforward in its approach. I wasn’t compelled by the movie. Johnny Depp was a little “Jack Sparrow” in this movie with a receding hairline.
Judgment: If you want to see a fantastical film about drug, this film’s for you.