Film School Even For The Disadvantaged

One of my favorite things about the world of film is its availability to just about anyone. There are movies to entertain anyone, from small children to adults of all kinds. Film genres embrace horror, romance, comedy, drama, and many combinations of these. Whether you enjoy cutting edge drama, classic films, or a gentle romance, you can find a film to enjoy.

Almost anyone can get involved in the world of film, too. As long as you have the passion, the talent, and the work ethic, you can find a job in the film world. Obviously, acting roles are reserved for those who possess a certain in born talent for adopting fictional roles, but there are many other jobs out there. Stage hands, producers, directors, writers, prop assistants, makeup artists, cameramen, and more can be filled by people of all stripes who receive the right training and put in enough hard work.

The problem is that there are, at times, obstacles that prevent people who dream of entering the film world from receiving the training they need to excel in their chosen role. One of the most common of these obstacles is finances. For instance, if someone is unable to pay for cosmetology school, they will never be able to become a makeup artist for the next feature film. Or, if someone cannot afford to attend film school, they can never pursue a career in film production.

Single mothers, more than many other groups of people, face the financial pressures that make it difficult to pursue any career dream, including the dream of participating in the film world. These women must provide for their families without the support of another person who can contribute emotionally, physically, or financially to the operation of the household. Often, they are forced to take whatever job they can find just to make sure they can feed and clothe their children.

This is why financial assistance for single mothers, and scholarships for single moms, is so vitally important. In addition to help such as welfare, food stamps, or WIC, these single mothers often need financial assistance and scholarships that will help them to go to school to learn new skills and pursue jobs that will help them to support their families in a career that they enjoy.

This point was driven home to me when I met a woman named Jeanine while I was at film school. When she divorced from her husband, she had to move from being a stay at home mom to a working mother, and was only able to find a minimum wage job. Her move out of poverty only occurred five years later when she received a scholarship to attend film school, where she was preparing herself for a career making movies.
In my opinion, anyone, including single mothers, who has a passion and vision for film should be allowed to pursue their dreams. This is why I support and advocate for any program that offers the kind of assistance women need to make it possible for them to pursue their film dreams.

Depression’s Toll: Robin Williams’ Suicide

Obviously, I love film. I have spent the past decade studying, practicing, thinking about, and writing about film. Through the years, however, I have noticed that the film world is a microcosm for many of the troubles that plague the world in general. It seems as if the film world takes these problems and amplifies them so we can see, through the struggles of our favorite actors and actresses, how many other, non-famous people, struggle as well.

When Robin Williams took his own life in August, I was reminded yet again that depression is one of these struggles.  Consider, for instance, actors and actresses like Heath Ledger, Catherine Zeta-Jones, and Gwyneth Paltrow, who all battled depression at one time or another.  Robin Williams was only the latest, and perhaps most prominent, in a long line of men and women who have lost the battle against the darkness of depression.

Robin Williams’ struggle with depression was a long one that he endured since at least the 1970s and 80s. The darkness that led him to take his life may have been deepened by his diagnosis of Parkinson’s, but had existed at least since the death of a close friend in the 1970s.  It made itself known at other points in his life and film career, and resulted in a number of addictions in the 1970s and 1980s.

When I look at Robin Williams’ life and struggle with depression, I also see the connection that so often exists between depression and struggles with addiction.


I’ve written previously on this blog about the frequency with which actors and actresses seem to fall prey to addictions, like marijuana addiction, other drug addictions, or addictions to alcohol. The reasons that many film stars face addictions are varied. What I did not touch on was how often these addictions become intertwined with the presence of depression in their lives.

Robin Williams faced addiction throughout his life. These addictions included struggles with alcoholism and cocaine addiction.  In order to try to overcome his attachment to these substances, he entered rehab several times, most recently in 2014 for help with alcoholism. It is impossible for us to know exactly how his depression and addiction were linked, but it is clear that the struggles were powerful and deep and that his suicide was ultimately a tragic result of being unable to overcome these battles.

When faced with the darkness of depression, sometime it is easier for people to fall into addiction because that addiction can mask the pain that depression brings. It is also possible that addictions give rise to depression. Regardless, we can see through Robin Williams’ life and death that the link between the two is strong, and that although it can be easy to judge others because of their struggles with addiction and depression, we should remember that they are human beings, facing struggles that, unless we have experienced them ourselves, we can never truly understand.

Jurassic Park on Location: Understanding and Enjoying the Hawaiian Backdrop


Jurassic Park is a truly classic sci-fi movie. Who can forget the stunning natural views and that terrifying T. Rex? The heart and soul of this movie, however, comes from its stunning, mystical scenery. Set primarily on the Hawaiian islands of Oahu, Niihau, Maui, and Kaua’i, the filming locations serve as the perfect backdrop for the action packed film.

The scenery, of course, served as a compelling reason for Stephen Spielberg and crew to use the islands as film locations. Hawaii’s breathtaking waterfalls and lush vegetation are an ideal setting for a movie about dinosaurs. After all, we all think of dinosaurs roaming a wild, uninhabited rainforest-like environment, and Hawaii provides just such a location.

Interestingly enough, however, the locations were not only chosen for the views, and were not the setting of the events in the movie. If that were the case, the movie would have been filmed in Costa Rica, where the plot supposedly took place. Instead, the Hawaiian islands were chosen because they offered a more stable, and accessible, location for filming.

In addition, they provided familiarity for Stephen Spielberg, who had worked there in the past and who was therefore familiar with the terrain and filming challenges. The island of Oahu served as a filming location for some scenes because of one of these filming challenges: A tropical storm that made filming on the original location of Kaua’i impossible. In fact, the only truly on location spot for the entire movie was Red Rock Canyon in Montana, where some dig scenes were supposed to have taken place in the movie.

Fortunately for fans of Jurassic Park, you can still visit the filming locations in Hawaii. These locations are truly stunning, with thriving vegetation, breathtaking mountains, and gorgeous trees, and beautiful waterfalls.  When visiting these sites, therefore, plan to have your breath taken away by unmatched beauty, and definitely bring your camera. What you saw in the movie was only a taste of the raw beauty you will encounter when visiting these filming locations in person.

Try not to get your hopes up too high, however, about actually seeing remnants of the film. In addition to a decided lack of dinosaurs, you will also not see much of the film sets left. For instance, the entry gates in the movie are only tall metal poles now, and the helicopter landing area isn’t even available for viewing except by plane.

While you can research your favorite scenes and arrange your own stops at their filming locations, you may find it easier, and more fun, to take a movie tour instead. These tours cover major filming sites not only for Jurassic Park, but also for many other movies. Whatever you decide, however, just make sure you take the time to really enjoy standing in the same spots that you have seen in the movie. Imagine yourself in the middle of a park full of dinosaurs, facing down that crazy Tyrannosaurus Rex, or participating in any of your favorite scenes. The movie will undoubtedly become more alive to you as you stand in the places where it was created and give you an even deeper appreciation for a film you already love.

The Best Critter Films of All Time

I love critter flicks, they’re so campy and funny. We need more of them! But here’s my rundown of the best pest movies of all time.

10. Food of the Gods (1989)

An unintentionally hilarious and cheesy adaptation of the HG Wells classic novel. There are giant rats, mosquitos, maggots and (although not really a pest) giant chickens. The fight scenes involving the giant chickens taking on a human are hilarious.

9. Alligator (1980)

A mutant alligator goes crazy in New York City. Plenty of gore and action and some good special effects – well for the time anyway.

8. Attack of the giant leeches (1959)

When it came out this was often a double feature with another classic pest film – The Wasp Woman. The leeches look like a cross between a leech (naturally) and an armless octopus. It’s set in the Florida swamps and opens with a hillbilly out in the swamps doing some hunting. He sees one of the giant leeches in the water and shoots at it to no avail. But instead of running he stays where he is. With giant leeches around this was not a good plan!

7. The Killer Shrews (1959)

Another of the 1950s B horror films. The film is very funny and shows that it generally is not wise to start doing any genetic experimentation on a desolate island with no escape from whatever you create, in this case shrews,very big ones.

6. Gnaw: Food of the Gods2 (1989)

Yes indeed there was a sequel to Food of the Gods and if anything it’s even worse than the original. It was an effort at combining slasher films with big monster films. The Giant Rats are accidentally released by a scientist who has created them and they then go on a binge of eating people. In one memorable part there is a pool party planned but the person organizing it doesn’t want to cancel it – it’s only people eating rats around after all. The party as you can imagine does not end too well.

5. Rogue (2008)

This is an Australian film featuring crocodiles, but don’t worry Crocodile Dundee isn’t back. Some of the characters are a bit annoying and it takes itself very seriously, don’t film makers know that they these kind of films are supposed to be fun. But the crocodile is very realistic and is involved in some good fights.

4. Caddyshack (1980)

Yes a gopher is a pest so can include this one. Has a great cast including Bill Murray, Chevy Chase, Ted Knight and Rodney Dangerfield, and is a comedy classic. Particularly great are the scenes where Bill Murray chases the gopher and dances to a Kenny Loggins song, pure genius

3. Willard (2003)

This is a remake but a good one. Stars Crispin Glover and is really creepy. Watch out for the cat chase scene.

2. Snakes on a plane (1996)

This one actually stars someone well known – Samuel L. Jackson. The plot is that the baddies want to kill a witness who is travelling by plane so put a load of snakes on the plane to get rid of them. They might have found an easier way to try and bump them off, but it makes for a fun film anyway.

1. The Birds (1963)

Had to include this Hitchcock classic. The master director does a brilliant job of ramping up the tension. Tippi Hedren is the star under attack from birds, Rod Taylor her co-star. Whenever I’m out and see a flock of birds, it makes me a bit nervous after seeing this film.

So there we go, from rats to birds it is the list of the best films about pests of all-time, and not a pest controller in sight to sort them out.

Saving Private Ryan: As Close As You Can Get To WWII

I’m a huge fan of Second World War era movies, and one of my favourite ones, although quite clichéd by now, is Saving Private Ryan. Named the best war film ever in a poll of movie fans in 2009, the Steven Spielberg film is far from perfect, with a near-perfect start, a somewhat rocky middle section and an overly sentimental ending. However, it has all the markings of a genuine modern war epic.

The opening sequence, lasting for 27 minutes, is a tour de force, depicting the assault on Omaha Beach on June 6th of 1944 in manner that rivals the graphic content of any authentic war footage. I still remember, how, on my first time watching it, I was confronted with the chaos that the soldiers had to face on that hellish beach, when a soldier in the movie had his arm blown away. He staggered, shocked, exposed to more fire, and then he collected his arm, for he would need it later. There aren’t many filmmakers who would dare go as far as Spielberg did with this particular scene. It was a scene that made audiences truly uncomfortable, and was a supremely fitting tribute to the brave troops who paid the ultimate price for freedom that day.

When the initial fighting has died down, a moving score produced by John William accompanies a spectacle of the carnage, as we observe the name ‘Ryan S’ on a dead soldier’s gear. This dead man is the third son of Mrs Ryan of Iowa, and two of his siblings have also lost their lives in the same bloody conflict. The scene where she is informed of this terrible news was hauntingly poignant.

It is decided by Gen. George C Marshall, that the fourth brother, Pvt. James Frances Ryan, who got scattered with 101st Airborne Division on the night before D-Day, has to be brought home to his mother safe and sound. And to this end, Captain John H. Miller, played to perfection by Tom Hanks, is given the task of leading a small rescue team through enemy territory to make contact with, and bring back, Private Ryan, portrayed by Matt Damon.

After this, the movie becomes a typical rescue mission affair but Tom Hanks plays the role of a decent man coming to grips with the horror and chaos of war sublimely. A supporting character that I admired a lot was Private Daniel Jackson, a crack sniper who uses his M1903A4 Springfield Rifle to great effect throughout the move. This single character was responsible for developing my interest in guns in general and sniper rifles in particular. An excellent site I follow on guns and gunsmithing is, you should check it out.

The film climaxes with a last stand in the town of Ramelle, where Miller’s squad is hopelessly outnumbered and outgunned. It is a visceral film in its totality, but also manages to deliver a message of hope. When Miller says, ‘Earn it’ to Private Ryan in one scene, it seemed like Spielberg himself was actually addressing the audience.

Even to this day, there are parts of this movie which send chills down my spine due to the sheer brutality of what they show. And that, I believe, is the mark of a movie that will stay evergreen.

Why The Avengers: Age Of Ultron Is Shaping Up To Be A Box Office Smash

As one who watches the movie industry closely, I’ve seen a lot of big movies that have some build up leading up to their release. Movies like the Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings series had huge anticipations leading up to their release, but none of those even come close to the anticipation that Avengers:Age of Ultron is currently getting. It’s not a long shot to say that this movie is going to be huge, probably the biggest opening weekend of all time. Most of us see that it’s going to be a giant movie, but why is the Avenger’s franchise and, more specifically Marvel Studios movies, so big? Well, there are some really good reasons for it and no one else currently in the movie industry even come close to matching them.


Many people may think the reason for the success is that the movies may seem like one giant commercial for the world’s best pre workout supplement that will send most guys heading home to Google search testosterone booster reviews so they can look like Chris Hemsworth. But, the truth is that the real secret to the success of the Avengers and Marvel movies in general is the consistency they possess. They took the same strategy that worked in the comics and brought them into their movies. The Avengers work because each movie for the individual superheroes is not just an isolated story that takes place outside the universe of the other movies, but instead each movie is like an ingredient that helps make a delicious dish. That dish just happens to be The Avengers and the Marvel Cinematic Universe and it’s tremendous.

It’s All In The Details

When comic book movies began to be made, they made giant mistakes by not paying attention to the details. This happened for many reasons, but one of the main reasons was that the movies were being written by hollywood screenwriters and not comic book writers or writers who were familiar with the stories of the comics. This eventually became a slap in the face to the millions of comic book fans out there because the writers took too many liberties with the characters and ultimately changed some characters entirely. When Marvel began making movies, they used only the best writers who were familiar with the comic’s original source material and paid attention to the details that made each character unique. It may not seem like much, but it’s a small thing that makes a huge difference when you build a cinematic universe like Marvel has.

It Plays To All Crowds

One of the biggest reasons for the massive success of the Marvel movies is that it plays to all crowds, young and old. They do a masterful job of making the movies dramatic and intense enough for the millions of comic books fans that grew up with these characters and light enough that kids love them just as much. This is not an easy task, but it’s one that Marvel has been accomplishing better than anyone else in the industry today.

Film Review: Magnified (The Fictional History of the Telescope)

Last night, I went to the theater and got my first view of Magnified, which is in its opening weekend. For those unaware, Magnified is the highly fictitious story of telescope inventor, Hans Lippershey, starring Mel Gibson as Hans and Geena Davis as his main inspiration turned love interest, Virginia.

The premise of the movie was quite average and simple: boy likes girl, boy is too awkward for girl, boy works to impress girl, girl is impressed and they live happily ever after. Hans loved Virginia from afar for many years, but was always falling short as he felt more comfortable reading and studying than talking to his female counterparts. Eventually, Virginia shares her adoration for the stars above with Hans and becomes vulnerable by telling him that the complexity of what is out in space scares her to death. She excuses herself many times for being so bold as to speak her mind, which I guess was unheard of at the time, but of course Hans was smitten. Hans, wanting to impress Virginia, feels the best way for her to overcome her fear is to learn more about space and astronomy. Eventually he tinkers around enough to build a new amazing telescope, much to Virginia’s pleasure.

I’m just going to come out and say it: this movie was terrible. The plot was dry and painfully predictable. The only part of this story based on truth was that Hans Lippershey invented the telescope. Everything else was fabricated. Writers nowadays are so pressured to come up with ideas out of thin air that it is just leading to lackluster films.

What first drew me into movies was the way you can have intense emotions for characters in the matter of two hours. In Magnified, the characters were not well developed enough to feel anything for them. I really couldn’t care less whether Hans was victorious in his attempt to build a telescope (let alone that the inexpensive scopes used in filming look like fake props well beyond the time period of this movie) This was the major downfall of the film, in my opinion, because each movie has to have at least one character the audience can become emotionally invested in, even if it is not the protagonist.

The one redeeming quality of Magnified was the set and costume design. Lippershey invented the telescope in the 1600’s, so most of the movie was set in the late 1500’s, early 1600’s. The costumes were period friendly, as were the sets. As a viewer, you really felt as though you were transported to a simpler time. However, since I’m not an expert on the time period I can’t say if there were any true discrepancies with décor or technology in the film. The makeup, costumes and set nuances spoke to me.

My advice is to not pay homage to Hans Lippershey by seeing Magnified, but instead just look at your own telescope in your backyard. You will be undoubtedly much more entertained and will most definitely put your brain to use.

The Doll that Inspired Chucky

OK. I’m the first to admit – Chucky (real name of the movie is actually Child’s Play) is a pretty awful movie. It’s one of those films that really aren’t that great, but due to die-hard cult following, have managed to survive and permeate into the lexicon of popular culture. I myself stand guilty of contributing to this phenomenon – I’m a sucker for B-list horror films, and when I watched the first Child’s Play as a kid it really freaked me out. I’ve been hooked on the franchise ever since – and regrettably, I’ve seen every single movie in the Chucky franchise (they get progressively worse). Child’s Play 7 (the 7th movie in the franchise) is due to come out in 2015. At this point, I’m waiting for it with a mix of anticipation and dread – and the dread isn’t because I’m worried that the movie will be scary – it’s actually because I’m dreading watching another 90 minute trainwreck of a film.

In any case, the reason I’m droning on about a mostly awful B-list film franchise is because a few days ago, I was on Reddit, and I learned for the first time that Chucky was inspired by an actual doll. That’s right – the creepy doll cliché that the Chucky franchise popularized actually has deeper, more ‘historical’ roots. I’m mostly just summarizing what I read in this post. Go here to learn about Robert the Doll in greater detail.

So, as it turns out, the inspiration for Chucky is a doll known as ‘Robert the Haunted Doll’. It sits in a museum in Florida, and museum workers apparently swear that it moves around on its own. Legend has it that the doll was a gift from a disgruntled servant to the child she looked after – apparently she was from the Caribbean, and was a practitioner of voodoo. The child, named Robert Eugene Otto, immediately gravitated towards the doll, and named it after himself (hence the name ‘Robert the Doll’). Before long, the parents of young Eugene started noticing that he behaved strangely when he was playing with the doll – they would hear conversations and strange voices coming from his room. At first they brushed this off as an overactive imagination, but soon strange things started happening in the house that couldn’t be explained. Servants began to hear strange laughs in the middle of the night; Eugene’s toys would be found mutilated in the house; heavy furniture would be found overturned. Visitors to the house would claim that the doll’s eyes would follow them around when they moved.

Eventually Eugene grew up. You’d think that a grown man has no use for a child’s doll, but Robert the Doll remained at Eugene’s side, and after his parents died, he remained in the old house, living only with the doll. Eventually, he managed to find a wife, but the doll was a constant point of contention between the couple – according to the legend, his wife, Anne, eventually died due to unknown causes.

Even after Eugene passed away, the legend of the doll continued. The family that bought the Otto house discovered Robert, and the daughter developed an intense attachment to it. To this day, that girl (now a fully grown woman) is convinced that the doll had tried to harm her on multiple occasions.

Nowadays, you can visit Robert the Doll in East Martello Museum in Key West Florida. I haven’t been there myself, but I’d love to go. To be honest, this story and this doll both seem far creepier to me than anything in the Chucky franchise. I really want to visit this museum for myself, and this story seems creepy enough to me that I’m surprised nobody has made a direct adaption of it yet.

My Top 5 Comedies Films of All Time

In my book, there is a fine line between comedy films and funny movies. Funny movies are those that leave audiences in stitches from beginning to end (think American Pie) and comedies are those that don't have me laughing all the time but are still funny. In this post, I will my list of favorite comedy films of all time.

1. Caddyshack

Caddyshack is a classic comedy film starring Bill Murry, Chevy Chase, Rodney Dangerfield, Michael O'Keefe and many more. While this film has received a lot of criticism from film reviewers, I still think it is one of the best comedy films of all time. How can it not be seeing as stars some of the most talented comedy actors of this generation?

What I love about Caddyshack are the witty one-liners that are still quoted in films to this very day. Caddyshack quotes can also be seen in memes posted all over social media sites. I bet most people don't even realize that those memes came from this film. If you haven't seen this film yet, shame on you! Go get a copy now and see for yourself why this is included in my list. A word of warning though, this is a rated R movie so don't watch it on family movie night.

2. Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls

Do I need to explain why I love this movie? In my honest opinion, anything with Jim Carrey in it is a sure hit. However, not a lot of people appreciate Ace Ventura: Pet Detective because the humor is a bit outrageous to say the least. Remember that rhino scene? Yeah, that one's a little too graphic for some people but that is one of the reasons why I love this film so much.

3. Austin Powers Franchise

Who can forget Mike Meyer's "Yeah, baby!" and "Oh, behave!"? I find myself quoting this film from time to time without even realizing it. Let's not forget Mini Me. All the movies in the Austin Powers franchise have a mix of British and American humor which is probably why it was such a success. Everyone got it! However, I don't think this film would be what it was if it weren't for the costumes and hot women who were smitten by Mike Meyer's character despite the bad teeth. That still baffles me, by the way.

4. There's Something about Mary

There's Something about Mary is a perfect example of a comedy film. In fact, probably all of Ben Stiller's movies are. The storyline of this movie does not involve ridiculous funny antics. Instead, they're things that happen unintentionally in real life. Yes, scrotums getting stuck in zippers do happen.

5. White Chicks

While this film may seem a little racist seeing as it's about two black men dressing up as dumb blonde teenage girls, it's still pretty funny nonetheless. This movie has very light but effective humor. You know what they say, sometimes the most effective tactics are the simplest ones. Sadly, this movie has received a lot of flak from critics because of reverse racism. But from my point of view, it's a comedy film so there's absolutely no need to involve social injustice issues into the mix.

Antz Movie Review

Antz marks quite a milestone in the animation industry. Before this film premiered, both Disney and Pixar were the only big dogs around when it came to theatrically released animated films. However, DreamWorks SKG cemented themselves as a formidable new challenger in the animation industry by having their first project be a fun, creative and slightly edgy animated film. The story centers around the main character, Z. Z is a worker drone in a large ant colony which pushes a totalitarian, conformist mentality on its inhabitants. Z constantly wrestles with this as he questions his place in the colony and whether or not there’s more his life could amount to. We’re then introduced to Bala, the colony’s princess, who is struggling with similar issues. The two of them meet and hit it off so well that Z decides to switch places with his friend Weaver, a soldier ant, in order to see Bala again. But when he finally gets to, the truth is revealed and the two of them end up literally thrown out of the colony and begin a journey to find their own paradise. Meanwhile, an evil plot is underway back at the colony and it soon becomes up to Z and Bala to return home and save the day.

Something became apparent to me while watching this film as an adult: It’s kid safe, but not kid-centered. Animation is often an underrated form of entertainment since many believe it’s a child-centered art form. That belief is utterly shattered with this movie. It’s certainly safe for younger children to watch but you can see from its visual style, complex themes and adult humor in spots, that younger kids are not the intended audience. It lacks the candy-colored, sweet looking visuals you’d find in a typical children’s movie, preferring an art style that’s darker and more gritty. The scale at which the ants are shown in relevance to the outside world also creates a sense of peril that may be a little intense for younger viewers but help convey the overarching theme of the individual vs. the group. This theme of conformity vs. individuality is also something that will be more relevant to an older audience for whom social structure has become a more active aspect of their lives. The movie doesn’t shy away from how extreme the consequences of either mentality can be, even having death be used as a possible consequence.

However, while you can appreciate the more mature tone, said tone also contributes to one of the film’s problems. Many of the jokes require some level of maturity to get and will fly over your average young kid’s head, which can be a problem as this film is being billed as a comedy. This film also has a few more shortcomings, as most first installments do. The CGI animation has become a bit dated and there are moments where the character’s expressions dip into the uncanny valley. Also, the celebrity casting can cause you to hear the actor more than the character and that can really take you out of the movie. These problems aren’t too distracting though, and even being a seventeen year old film, it still holds up pretty well. So, if you get the chance, check it out. You definitely won’t be disappointed. It certainly makes me feel a little different about battling the carpenter ant infestation I had a little while ago.

Horror Movies should be more like Creepypastas

I love horror movies. I feel like horror movies combine the best and worst of film making – the best thing about movies is how much they can affect you emotionally, and horror movies provide that in spades. The worst thing about movies is that there are so many cheap ways to provoke a reaction in the audience – a reaction that isn’t earned. Horror films are constantly guilty of this.

The thing is, even the worst horror films can be scary in parts. Human beings are programmed by evolution to react with fear in certain situations. Surprise a person with a sudden loud noise or sudden movement, and it’s in their DNA to respond with fear – that’s why we have the term ‘Fight-or-flight’. This type of fear is cheap, and the horror films that use jump scares are often complete trash from a filmmaking perspective.
The very best horror movies are those that linger with you for days afterwards – the ones that make you think. If a movie can ‘incept’ itself into your head – that’s when I think a horror movie has been successful. To me, it’s easy to get people scared in the cinema. The difference between a run-of-the-mill horror film and a good horror film is that the good horror film keeps you up at night, or makes you leave the lights on when you go to bed.

There have only been a handful of half decent horror films in the past couple of years. One movie that garnered a lot of attention was The Babadook – and while I enjoyed that film, I honestly didn’t think it was that scary.

I think Hollywood should draw inspiration from the hugely popular ‘creepypastas’ that are floating around the internet these days. For those of you who don’t know, a creepypasta is basically a viral horror short story. They get started on places like 4chan or reddit, and then they the successful ones tend to spread rapidly and within a couple of months everybody who uses the internet knows about the story. Ever heard of slender man? That was originally a creepypasta.

The thing that these stories do really well is they’re unsettling. It’s not really possible to produce cheap jump-scares in the written form, so you actually have to craft a genuinely creepy and sinister narrative. This is probably how a lot of scary urban legends got started as well – things like the Bloody Mary game or the idea of a Oujia Board – these were essentially stories that went viral pre-internet.

I’m not saying that Hollywood should just take these stories and make movies out of them – I’m suggesting that the film industry should draw inspiration from the tone and narrative style of these kinds of viral horror short stories. Forget the cheap thrills – horror films should strike at the core of a person, and linger in their thoughts for at least a couple of nights afterwards.

Anyways, that’s all from me. If you want to read a whole bunch of these creepypastas, go to reddit’s no sleep subreddit. If you want to read more about urban legends, one of my favorite horror sites, Play With Death, recently did a rundown of the 10 scariest urban legends. They also have reasonably good reviews of horror films/video games (and books, but I don’t really read horror books).

A Case for the Black Widow

There has been a lot of discussion about The Ghost in the Shell since it was announced that Scarlett Johanssen would star in the cult anime classic. There are those who say that with her portrayal of action heroes in the movies Iron Man and The Avengers (where she played the Black Widow), and in the 2014 hit Lucy, that she is a good fit for the role of the Major. The other camp, however disagree with the choice because it should go to someone who is Japanese, of Japanese descent, or at the very least, Asian. Let’s leave the discussion right there. There are other things, which are more important, like why Marvel should make a Black Widow movie.

This was the big question ever since Marvel released their lineup of movies, which would be in production within the next six years. DC/Warner had also released their own lineup of superhero movies for the next six years. Fox and Sony has also followed suit and released their own respective calendars. Sadly, there is no solo vehicle for Black Widow even if it takes a lot of lawyers like those from

The main point of contention against these movies is that there is not enough solo movies about women superheroes. There is the Wonder Woman movie from DC/Warner, and Marvel will have Captain Marvel, and that is it. There is not going to be a Wasp, Storm, Canary, Batgirl, or Supergirl movie. At least, there won’t be in the foreseeable future. The calendars fielded by the studios are full, and with the way movies are made, it would take a miracle to shoehorn another female-lead movie before 2025.

The problem with Black Widow is her back story. She does not have a likeable back story, being a spy. However, this also happens to be the strength of the role. A strong woman, who is intelligent, and unafraid should work. The Marvel Universe, as set forth by Stan Lee, is full of “real” people. These are flawed superheroes, full of angst, insecurities, and a lot of good intentions with bad results. In most storylines, it is the antagonist who presents the politically correct point of view. This character is a dream come true for lawyers like

For the Black Widow, the first question is: Why trust her? Fan boys would remember her betrayal of other superheroes in The Ultimate Avengers. This is ingrained in the character of the role. From the point of view of marketing, the Black Widow is a character at the right place at the right time. The first solo comics title for Black Widow appeared in 2014.

On the flipside of marketing, Scarlett Johanssen has shown that she can carry a movie, even with half a story. Of course, it was a Luc Besson story, and some of the logic was discarded along the wayside. In which case, the success of the movie can solely be blamed on Scarlett. This is one movie, which has proven that she is a legitimate Hollywood star.
Scarlett is Black Widow. She has proven that she can essay the role. She has also proven that she is a box-office draw. The Black Widow movie with Scarlett is a sure hit but it has to happen soon.

Upcoming Movie: Jurassic World

There’s nothing I love doing more than watching a newly released movie at a state of the art theater with surround sound, comfortable seating and enough refreshments to last the entire movie. There’s also nothing I hate doing more than waiting on an installer to show up at my house! I’ve recently ordered a new managed phone system to complement my growing business. The installer said he would be at my house between 12:00PM – 2:00PM and he showed up at 2:30PM! I was ALMOST late for the movie! I wasn’t thank goodness but it really put me in a rushed mood for the rest of the day.

The movie I had planned all week to see was the new Spielberg directed movie, Jurassic World. The Jurassic World trailer showed us a considerable amount of footage, but one thing we didn’t get to see was the series’ famous and signature dinosaur, the Tyrannosaurus Rex. Following up to the trailer release, the movie’s official website has now been launched, and with the launch comes a first look at the movies T-rex. So why wasn’t it in the trailer? Granted, it kind of looks like a T-rex but it’s not confirmed. And what we can see is just a pair of CG renders of the dinosaur. I guess that’s better than nothing at all! Fortunate for Jurassic World fans, director Mr. Colin Trevorrow has provided a little segment of commentary on the trailer. He can be heard explaining a few various points which will certainly be of interest to fans of the series and those who have questions about the new movie. Let’s just hope this movie isn’t going to be full of all the typical cliches of the original. Escaped dinosaurs, power shortages, crippling 4×4 scenes and pure destruction. Am I asking too much?

Via Empire, I have some comments straight from director Colin Trevorrow himself, about the trailer release and the movie.

The Gyrosphere

Where on earth did the gyrosphere concept come from? “Steven Spielberg is a huge fan of theme park rides”, Trevorrow explained. “He wanted to develop a way for visitors to get up close with the dinosaurs, to make it a self-driving method of transport, which is also a free roaming experience. The gyrosphere loads on a track similar to the old vehicles in the series, but once you’re out in the wild, you can actually navigate around the valley. I can’t see it going wrong.”

Trevorrow’s last line is, (if you’ve seen the trailer will know), is meant to be sarcasm.

The Aquatic Feeding

For those who have seen the trailer will have seen the scene above as a sneaky nod to Jaws. But unfortunately that was not the point, it was certainly not intended in that way.
The concept came out in one of Trevorrow’s first meetings with Spielberg. Trevorrow’s didn’t know if Steven of Frank Marshall had come up with an underwater reptile, so Trevorrow pitched the mosasaurus and rolled with the idea.He thought it would be impressive if the movie had this large animal and the dinosaur park used one of our most feared modern predators (great white shark) as food.

Genetically-Modified Dinosaur

Maybe the element of the new movie trailer that generated the most commentary is the scene that highlights a genetically-modified dinosaur, that will be a significant part of the movie. Public reactions have span from “did they even see the first movie?” to “why don’t they use other cool dinosaurs?”.

Trevorrow began by stating that there is certainly no shortage of incredible dinosaurs. The producers could have populated the entire story with a variety of new species that haven’t yet been featured in any of the movies. But this new concept is what gave a reason to tell another story. The Jurassic World producers are always craving the next big thing. The focus groups for the movie wanted something bigger than the favourable T-Rex. And that’s what they got . However this genetic dinosaur isn’t the only danger in the movie, it’s (she’s) far from it.

Riding With Raptors

The most breathtaking footage from the movie trailer sees Chris Pratt’s character roaming through the leafy jungle on a motorcycle, while being flanked by velociraptors. They all seem to be working together. As the raptors are not seen attacking Pratt, it makes us question what’s going on there?

Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead Movie Review

Joe Cross came from Australia and was a very sick man, taking medications for his illnesses and sicknesses for nearly 9 years. He made the decision to handle this problem and focus on his health. He started off 100 pounds overweight and was able to reach his weight loss goals and become totally healthy without having to depend on the medications to keep him alive.

He had tried juicing before but didn’t stick with it. He stayed in and around NY for the first 30 days and then the last 30 days he traveled across America. While traveling across the US he stopped at various fruit and veggie stores and then would juice in the back of his car. He visited numerous locations and tried his hardest to promote his adventure to others. As an example, he juiced on Thanksgiving at a fruit and veggie stand in Arkansas, sharing his new-found knowledge of juicing.

While traveling across the US he found another man at a truck stop who suffered from the same illness as he had. This was the first time he had ever met anyone who had the same health issue as him. Joes offered his help and became determined to help his friend he met at a truck stop through his difficulties. He helped his friend wean off the medications and lose weight through juicing.

The film is 1hr and 36min in duration. Joe Cross has garnered much attention (replete with tweets and facebook posts) from people who have started juice fasting thanks to his documentary. Many of his followers post pictures of when they were obese saying that Joe inspired them to become healthier. Further, some claim to be free from everything that held them back before. It gives people hope that there is a solution to their problem of obesity that they have been suffering from for such a long time. He made this film in an effort to help others lead a healthier life style. Whether or not you need to lose weight, the film does make some good points and it worth watching.

The film is very biased towards the Breville Juicer and since the release of the film there has been an increase in the number of Breville juicers being sold. Joe landed a deal with the company and it makes one wonder if he had that planned at the outset of the film. Otherwise, he might have gone with a superior juicer, such as a masticating juicer, which retains more nutrients than the Breville which is considered cut-rate by the big names in juicing.

This film gives for a great story and chronology of Joe’s mission to get his health and survival back. It’s like you’re traveling along with him in the journey across America in the road trip. He has a way of being able to include you in the movie even though you’re not physically there with him.

But all in all this is an amazing story and adventure of how Joe overcame his weight problems while also running into and helping a friend he met on his journey through similar circumstances. Now Joe is off his pills and leading a healthy lifestyle. You should watch the film and find out for yourself how Joe overcame his obesity and helped a trucker who weighed 429 pounds get back in shape and on his own journey to get off his meds as well. You will get to travel with Joe as he meets and talks to complete strangers about health and related issues. It’s quite an amazing story and fun to watch. Even if you’re not obese I found that it inspired me to lead a healthier life style even if it means just taking a juice every once in a while.

The films of Renée Zellweger

There’s been a lot of talk in the news recently about whether Renée Zellweger has had plastic surgery. Most plastic surgeons who have been asked about it, seem to think that she has had work done, probably a face lift and a brow lift.It certainly looks to me like she has had plastic surgery done, I wouldn’t have recognised that it was her. She may or may not have had it done because of her problems with rosacea, which is a skin condition similar to acne. But for me her health and skin problems are not something that people should be concentrating on, we should be looking at her films and her acting, and in my opinion she is a really good actress.

I’ve liked Renée ever since she first came to the public’s attention in Jerry Maguire, where she played Tom Cruise’s love interest. However it was for her portrayal of Bridget Jones, the character created in a novel by Helen Fielding in 1996, that she is most famous. A lot of people were sceptical about her being given the role, it was felt she was too thin and too American. However Zellweger proved them all very wrong by firstly gaining a lot of weight (20 pounds) for the role, apparently she ate a lot of doughuts, and secondly by learning to speak with a British accent by having voice coaching lessons. The results were amazing and in Bridget Jones she both looked and sounded perfect. Showing her dedication, she also spent 3 weeks working in a London publishing firm to get fully immersed in the role. It was a great film, really funny, and for me one of the best comedy films ever. Both Hugh Grant and Colin Firth were pretty good in it, but for me it was Renée Zellweger who stole the show. She was rewarded for her great performance with an academy award nomination for best actress.

Her next big role after this was in Chicago in which she played the main character, Roxie Hart, and produced another great performance. The film won the academy award for best picture, although this time Rene didn’t even get a nomination, which seemed a little unfair. However she made up for this in her next film Cold Mountain in 2003 by winning her first academy award as best supporting actress. The following year Renée again gained weight to play Bridget Jones in the sequel The Edge of Reason. Although it was quite an amusing film, and Renée was again very good, sadly the film wasn’t as good as the original, sequels are very rarely any better are they.

In 2006 Renée moved into production for the film Miss Potter, which was all about the novelist Beatrix Potter, she was also in the film. I really enjoyed the film, although I know some people who did not like it too much. In the following few years Renée starred in various other films including Leatherheads, New in Town, My one and Only and Case 39. Following her 2010 film My Own Love Song, she took a five year break from acting. But she has returned with My Whole Truth which is coming out next year. It’s an interesting looking thriller in which she stars alongside Keanu Reeves. I’m hoping that such a great actress continues getting decent roles for many years to come, hopefully all this coverage over her alleged plastic surgery won’t affect her career at all.

Duplicity Film Review: Fast-Paced Thriller or Underwhelming Dud?

While it’s currently Halloween season, the most recent DVD I decided to rent for my Friday-night watch-a-thon wasn’t a scary movie, but instead Duplicity, an spy film with a relatively complex storyline, an injection or romance, and starring two big Hollywood stars. In this review, I’ll give you a glimpse of what’s it’s all about and whether it’s worth a couple of hours of your time.

The story is essentially a fast-paced thriller with at its core a gripping tale of corporate espionage sprinkled with the Hollywood prerequisite of romance. The film stars Clive Owen and Julia Roberts, who are two former spies working in the private sector. They hold a secret that is worth billions of dollars and each is looking to sell the formula to the highest bidder.

The formula is actually a cure to a cosmetic ‘disease’ that afflicts men of all ages: the dreaded male pattern baldness. As someone who’s been personally afflicted by hair loss, Duplicity piqued my interest right from the minute I heard about the premise. What’s really interesting about the film is that it gives the viewer an insight into the murky world of pharmaceuticals and the less-than-moral practices of those at the head of these firms.

The two leading stars have chemistry and their interactions are well acted. Now, I’m not a huge Julia Roberts fan (to say the least), but I made a desperate attempt to not let that skew my judgment of this film. And I’m going to have to be honest: she successfully protected her reputation of being a formidable actress who can master both butt-kicking spy and romantic lead all wrapped into one characters. Bravo!

The thing that really sets the film apart from similar stories/ideas is that they successfully achieve the idea of duplicity throughout. You’re never completely sure what each of them wants and is looking to achieve, nor is the ending predictable. And that’s exactly what the filmmakers want you to be throughout the ride.

So, any negatives? Well, it’s not a classic. It’s the type of film that’s exciting as you wait for the mystery to unfold, but the ending doesn’t quite do it for me. You also never truly care about a single character one way or another – maybe that’s because you’re always guessing who the good guys are. The person you want to cheer for only becomes apparent at the very end of the tale, by which point you’re a bit too far along to truly care.

For those of you expecting a cheesy romantic comedy, Duplicity is definitely not for you. While it has a couple of cringe moments, it’s not anywhere near a production such as The Notebook. Instead, you’re going to get an exciting thriller with a few twists and turns to keep that noggin churning along trying to keep up with what’s happening Tip: don’t watch this with someone who gets confused when watching movies or it’ll be annoying questions galore!

Overall, Duplicity is an enjoyable film that won’t necessarily go into my pile of classic bits of cinema but it’s nevertheless a worthy addition to a lazy Friday night line-up. It’s entertaining, has a good dosage of intrigue, and the cinematography is top notch.