Friday, February 26, 2010

Superstitions: Broken Mirrors


Perhaps the most feared/ honored Superstition of all is that of Broken Mirrors. Rather, to make sure you don’t. Break them. But aside from the fact that it is a pain in the ass to clean up chards of glass, why is it bad luck per se?

This one goes way back. Our ancestors believed that the image in a mirror is our soul. So if you break the mirror your soul is let out. That’s no bueno. And by the way 100% true. But anyway, the 7 years of bad luck part comes from the fact that our bodies regenerate every 7 years (an actual scientific fact. Body cells have a life span of 7 years. Which is why you cannot say you are a true resident of someplace unless you have lived there at least seven years. At least that’s what I say. Right now is the first time actually). Additionally, and I didn’t know this one, you are not supposed to pick up the broke pieces for 7 hours and then apparently bury them outside under the moonlight. That part seems mostly symbolic and I ain’t doing it!

Also, because mirrors were thought to hold the key to the future, to break one was to shatter your own future.

Other Mirror Superstitions found:

• If a couple first catch sight of each other in a mirror, they will have a happy marriage.
• If a mirror falls and breaks by itself, someone in the house will soon die.
• Any mirrors in a room where someone has recently died, must be covered so that the dead person's soul does not get trapped behind the glass. Superstition has it that the Devil invented mirrors for this very purpose.
• It is bad luck to see your face in a mirror when sitting by candlelight.
• Before mirrors, in ancient societies, if you caught sight of your reflection or dreamt of it, you would soon die.
• Someone seeing their reflection in a room where someone has recently died, will soon die themselves.
• Babies should not look into a mirror for the first year of their lives.
• Actors believe that it is bad luck to see their reflection while looking over the shoulder of another person.
• To see an image of her future husband, a woman is told to eat an apple while sitting in front of a mirror and then brush her hair. An image of the man will appear behind her shoulder.

Friday, February 19, 2010

FIRST TO REVIEW: THE CRAZIES

Continuing my reviews of movies that no one else has reviewed yet because of my elite access to these films. I'm reviewing films well before anyone else chimes in!

The Crazies*

37 years ago George Romero decided that he didn't want to be pigeonholed anymore as the guy who made zombie movies so he went out on a limb and made a movie about mindless, relentless, plodding monsters instead. The movie was called The Crazies. I never saw the original, but I hope it is better than the remake.

Zombie movies at this point are a little like Shakespeare plays: They were groundbreaking at one time, but now can come off as dusty and antiquated. Unless you reinvent the model in some way. And yes, I am calling this a zombie movie because they called 28 Days Later a zombie movie and this is 28 Days Later. In fact, I felt like 28 Days Later actually fit the bill of reinvention which is why it was both a critical and popular success. Maybe it was ignorance though. Maybe it was just biting off The Crazies. But I don't mind something biting from something else. especially if it is good. I only mind it when it doesn't feel exciting or fresh or new. 28 Days Later did. This doesn't.

As the story goes, some sort of unnamed toxin has infected a small Iowa town turning the living into zombies, er, I mean raging psychopaths. And then of course there are a few "survivors" (?) who try and stay alive. Two of them is Timothy Olyphant and Radha Mitchell, both of whom, in the only clever conceit in the whole movie, are playing themselves - the actors Radha Mitchell and Timothy Olyphant. They were there to shoot a sequel to Field of Dreams (in the movie only, breath easy), when all hell starts to break loose. When extras try and attack the lead actors it comes off as comical though, and not in the least bit scary, and that's kind of a recurring theme.

The Crazies doesn't know if it wants to be Shawn of the Dead or Night of the Living Dead. There's one strange scene straight out of gremlins when our two accidental protagonists walk into a bar and all of "the crazies" are tearing up the place like they were just really rowdy patrons. There is a "band" that is playing the Star Wars theme song on the skulls of recent kills. Its just kind of dumb, and I think it was the filmmaker Breck Eisner's intention for it to be disturbing. I guess if people find Cannibal Holocaust disturbing then they will find The Crazies really disturbing. I was anxious about this movie because the previews make it seem amazing, but I was thoroughly disappointed. It was hard for me to hide my displeasure from the producers when i left after this command screening for me only, so I don't think this review comes as any surprise. Nor will they be surprised by reviews just like it.

* I have never seen this movie nor the original

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Film Review: Shutter Island




I was hoping to get a review in for The Wolfman at least a week before it opened, but I hadn't been given the special access to these kind of films so far in advance that I have now, yet. So I will see it, but probably not review.

So I will begin my series of reviews of horror films well before anyone else chimes in about them with Shutter Island*:

I don't know if there has been a horror movie that has come along that has had the possibility of being another Silence of the Lamb's as much as Shutter Island. This means that it is the perfect storm of being a solid thriller/ scary movie effective in all those way, while also being a solid film with strong characters, story, drama, beautiful direction and good acting. Another words - a horror movie with gravitas that people treat with dignity rather than scorn. Horror movies in general are relegated to "genre film" and thus not taken seriously as a real movie. Auteurs of said genre for years have been crying about that all the way to the bank. But as witnessed with Silence of the Lambs, when you can be all things to all people, it can be sublime.

So those were some pretty big shoes to fill when I took in a special sneak preview set up just for me earlier this week. But the pedigree was there. Oscar nominated actor (Leonardo DiCaprio) Oscar award-winning director (Martin Scorsese), very respectable supporting cast (Mark Ruffalo, Ben, I won't call him Sir, Kingsley, and Max Von Sydow, et al) and based on a highly acclaimed novel, well...sounded like Oscar bait to me. And it does not disappoint!

This movie had me on the edge of my seat the entire time. It is set in 1954 at the moody Shutter Island Ashcliffe Hospital off of Boston. Dark, dreary and spooky the location offers loads of fun opportunities for cinematographer Robert Richardson and he makes the most of it. Straight out of a Scooby-Doo episode, this real-life Arkam smacks of doom the minute you lay eyes on it. DiCaprio plays Teddy Daniels, a U.S Marshal who fought in World War II and has been haunted by an incident where he had the chance to save a baby from an explosion but didn't out of fear that the baby was German. He brings this heavy baggage with him as he goes to the island to investigate the sudden disappearances of a number of inmates, all magicians. But the hospital administration is strangely unhelpful to the point of standing in the way. Things get weirder when all the power goes out due to an electrical storm. Teddy begins to see and feel things that make him question reality and his own sanity, culminating in a unusual (for Martin Scorsese anyway) orgy scene where you actually see Leaonardo DiCaprio fully nude. Those photos will be circulating the Internet soon enough, I am sure.

DiCaprio has gone on the record as saying this was the most demanding role he has ever played in his life, and I can see why. Aside from having to double as Teddy's dead sister that he begins to hallucinate about (and then have sex with in the aforementioned orgy scene), the martial arts fight sequences are beautifully crafted and Leo looks fantastic doing them. The wire work notwithstanding, Leonardo looks like a grade A black belt and you believe every punch, kick, roundhouse and flying elbow to the head. And under the able hands of a master such as Martin Scorsese, the fight sequences are breathtaking, not unlike how another brilliant director tackled martial art battles - Ang Lee. And for the record, Ben Kingsley is no slouch either in the same regal manner that Chow-Yun Fat approached Master Li in CTHD.

That said, this isn't about the fights or the sex. it is about the fear, and i must have jumped a thousand times and kept uneasy the rest. Unsettling like The Shining, simple yet grotesque like Audition, and compelling and thrilling like Silence of the Lambs, this was one of the best scary movies I have ever seen and I am sure it will be part of the conversation come Oscar time. This movie is brilliantly terrifying. And don't try and guess the surprise ending, it is earned and smart and will make you think the entire night. I know it did for me and my friends.


* As far as press time I had yet to see this film

I Have Decided...

That I am going to post reviews on this blog of scary movies that I have never seen, nor has anyone seen because they have not been released yet. Oh, they'll be detailed alright. You'll never know that i didn't see it. until, of course, you actually see the movie and realize nothing I said was accurate. except, perhaps, whether you liked it or not. I will do my best to not review remakes because the new movie will be too similar to the old one so I will know too much about it. except for The Crazies. I have never seen The Crazies, and I am looking forward to it coming out, and even more excited about offering my unsolicited opinion before I know the first damn thing about it just like everyone else in the world.