Thursday, November 10, 2011

Olive Street Cinema, no. 2 | Of Witch Hunts, Wacky Weed, & Alien Invasion

Season of the Witch (2011): I love Nic Cage. A friend of Wolfman's, during a game of Apples to Apples, once confessed that she finds Nic Cage to be the absolute worst; Nic Cage is to her as Kevin Costner is to me, i.e. an actor whose movies I will not touch with a ten foot pole. But I think Nicolas Cage is capable of amazing things. He absolutely broke my heart in Matchstick Men, and Raising Arizona is among my all-time favorite movies; there is not an actor on this planet who could do H.I. McDonnough like Nic Cage did H.I. McDonnough. Fact. Now, to Season of the Witch. As far as Plague & Witch Hunts go, this was not as good as Black Death which we watched a few months ago (and as much affection as I do have for Nic Cage, Sean Bean slays me in everything I see him in). Black Death was grittier, darker, scarier, and it left an imprint on my brain for days afterwards, its implications were so horrible. But, Season of the Witch is a truly entertaining movie. The makeup effects are squishy and cringe-worthy, the story kept me fairly riveted even while starting a knitting project, and aside from Nic Cage, the audience is granted the ever wry presence of Ron Perlman as his sidekick. Plus, I just happen to really love movies about this time period--so macabre by default. Also, one last note, every time I type "season of the witch", the Vanilla Fudge cover of that song starts roaring through my head, and that is a wonderful thing.


Smiley Face (2007): And again, I'm going to spend the first part of this review/summary discussing the lead actor and how wonderful I find him/her. I really love Anna Faris. I find her excruciatingly funny. I will watch categorically unfunny movies, movies in which the plot and writing are just terrible and cater to the lowest common denominator (House Bunny, Just Friends), because I love Anna Faris--she makes the unfunny funny. And, if you're going to make a movie based entirely around one actor's facial expressions, Anna Faris could not be a more perfect choice. She's wonderful and relateable and joyful and efforvescent and sends me into paroxysms of laughter. Directed by Gregg Araki, who's known for doing trippy, bloody little films like The Doom Generation (which I started watching once, and then had to turn off because it was making my stomach turn, but still intend on finishing one of these days); he likes to visually play with his audience and his character, producing strange, cartoonish little hallucinations, taking us on a journey with poor Jane, she of the accidental consumption of a plate full of pot cupcakes. This is funny, and fun to watch, and chock full of great cameos. Here is a list: John Krasinski, Brian Posehn, Adam Brody (with dreads), Jim Rash, Jayma Mays, Jane Lynch, Rick Hoffman, Carrot Top, and John Cho and Danny Trejo as workers at a sausage factory. The movie lost me in its very last scenes, but was still thoroughly enjoyable.

Attack the Block (2011): FROM THE PRODUCERS OF SHAUN OF THE DEAD. It's printed on the poster and in movie summaries on every website known to man, so I figured I'd put that up front. Fun Fact: I'm not a huge Shaun of the Dead fan. I'm more a Hot Fuzz kind of gal. But, I digress. I really thought in the first fifteen minutes that I was not going to enjoy this movie at all. The kids we're supposed to be routing for, the ones who are going to save their block and, probably, mankind from an invasion of ferocious, neon-toothed, black as pitch, gorilla wolf aliens, are sort of assholes. In the opening scene, they rob one of their neighbors and then push her down in the street. But, then something happens as the movie progresses. These kids, yes, are still assholes, but I kind of forgive them that because they're so stout and bold and fearless--they are boys among boys, in a world that expects them to grow up and get tough really fast. This movie is often sold to people as being Goonies-esque, and it sort of is--it tugs at the heart strings in the same way while being ten times more brutal (spoiler: not all of these boys survive). The trajectory of this movie is such that, like movies like Independence Day, by the end of it, had you been drinking quite a bit, you might want to stand up on your sofa and cheer, or at least fist pump, or, as was our case, turn to the other people in the room while you all collectively say something to the extent of, "Wow, that was really good."

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