Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Phil attends the CINEQUEST MEDIA LAUNCH PARTY at the SJ Athletic Club-Jan. 31, 2012

Tonight was a big night for San Jose. Tonight was the big Cinequest Media Launch Party in the Corinthian Grand Ballroom at the San Jose Athletic Club in the heart of Downtown San Jose!

Started in 1990 by co-founders Halfdan Hussey and Kathleen Powell, the Cinequest Film Festival has grown to epic proportions over the years, bring new visions and voices from up and coming filmmakers while bringing new technology and films to the masses. Now in its 22 year, the festival shows no signs of slowing down.

Tonight was also special because it marked my return to Cinequest, and it will be my first time as a film critic. I also ran into my very good friend Jason Wiener, who has a film blog called Jason Watches Movies. I also ran into filmmaker Kathryn Soler (whose film THE ART OF TRAVEL was shown at the festival back in 2008) and to see other friends like Cheri Hughes Thomas, Melanie Fosty, and Christopher J. Garcia, just to name a few.

Cinequest Publicist Brittany Welby welcomed and thanked us for attending this event and introduced Hussey up to reveal this year's theme for the festival. Passion will be the theme and then we were all shown a great video with  Hussey telling us how Cinequest has reached out on a global scale to influence the idea that YOU can go out a create your film and have it been seen by people, who will then in turn become transformed by your film. A great message for all future filmmakers!

The Cinequest Film Festival Twenty-Two will be held from February 28 - March 11, 2012. Tickets and passes are now available so make sure you get them now because they are already moving fast. To learn more about the festival, film schedules and events, and to buy your passes, visit their website at www.cinequest.org

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

Monday, January 30, 2012

Phil reviews the UNDERWORLD TRILOGY: THE ESSENTIAL COLLECTION for The MIdnight Horror Sinema Show-January 20, 2012

Good evening my cinematic thrillseekers! I just finished up my review for the UNDERWORLD TRILOGY: THE ESSENTIAL COLLECTION Blu-Ray boxset for the Midnight Horror Sinema Show! With the release of the fourth film UNDERWOLRD: AWAKENING, I thought it would be fun to review this paticular boxset and give you all the details. What's also interesting about this boxset that it includes the exclusive Underworld: Endless War Animated Short Films bonus disc!So what are you waiting for? Click here to  read my review, and go buy a copy for yourself. Then rush out to see UNDERWORLD: AWAKENING in theaters today!

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Phil sees SHAME at the Camera 3 Downtown San Jose-January 27, 2012

Very few films can leave a lasting impression after its final credits roll across the screen. This winter, there have been a select few films that have done this (reason being is that it's Oscar season so all the best, intelligent, and stunning film are released this time of season). But with director Steve McQueen's new film SHAME, I left the theater in a haze of amazement.

Theatrical Movie Poster (2011)
The film stars Michael Fassbender as Brandon Sullivan, a successful and well off man living in New York City. He seems to have it all, but he has a secret life in hiding. Brandon is a sex addict who constantly picks up women, hires prostitutes, views Internet porn daily and masturbates at any given opportunity (even at the office). His addiction affects his day to day life and as a result, he lives a lonely existence. However his life becomes even more complex when his younger and neurotic sibling Sissy (Carey Mulligan) crashes at his place. She interferes with his life, including sleeping with his boss, David (James Badge Dale) and suffers from her own personal demons, which sets Brandon off to tackle his addiction.

British filmmaker McQueen made a major impact on the film world with his his 2008 debut HUNGER (which is available on both Blu-Ray and DVD from the Criterion Collection), and with this film, he continues his examination of the dark side of human behavior. Most filmmakers suffer from what is often referred to as "Sophomore slump," which means that a director's second feature doesn't live up to the high expectations as their first film set. However in McQueen's case, SHAME lives up to his debut film, making it a nice bookend to HUNGER.

Fassbender (who also starred in HUNGER) gives another brilliant performance. It looks as though Fassbender has been playing some very sexy roles. He appeared in David Cronenburg's A DANGEROUS METHOD (read my review for that film here) and now in this film he bares it all. Literally! Ladies in the audience will most likely dreaming about his chiseled physique and sexual prowess. But one must remember that his character is an addict, whose addiction literally controls his life, preventing him to find love and monogamy.

I give Fox Searchlight Pictures major props for getting behind McQueen and his film, releasing it with the stigmatic NC-17 rating. While the film is very frank with its sexual content and dark adult themes, the distributors never altered the director's vision. This makes me very excited for it will allow those adult audience members who wish to see a more adult film rather than the fluffy and unrealistic Hollywood films can now be astounded and moved by this piece of cinematic work of art.

SHAME is a haunting, uncompromising and riveting art house film; a moving cinematic tour de force that shows us how harmful and devesating not just sex addiction is, but all forms of addiction. Once again McQueen has created another masterpiece! Five out of five stars!

SHAME is currently playing in limited theatrical release nationwide, including at the Camera Cinemas here in the Bay Area. To view showtimes, visit their website at www.cameracinemas.com

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Phil sees UNDERWORLD: AWAKENING (again) in IMAX 3D at the AMC Mercado 20 Theater-January 22, 2012

Theatrical Movie Poster (2012)
Yes, I just saw this film Saturday night in 2D at the Camera 12 in Downtown San Jose. And yes, if you read my review, I really enjoyed watching the film. So you all must be wondering as to why would I see the same movies again the very next day? Simple answer really. I had forgotten that a good friend of mine gave me a free movie pass to the AMC Theaters. So while I was looking for a movie to see, I saw that UNDERWORLD: AWAKENING was playing in IMAX 3D! So I thought why the hell not?

Now is it worth seeing in IMAX 3D? Hells yeah it is!! The 3D effects were awesome, the digital surround was incredible, and to see Kate Beckinsale dressed in skin tight black leather while killing in 3D was so damn hot! So if you are a fan of the series and are debating whether to see it in IMAX 3D or not, do not hesitate! Go see this film now!! Just make sure you protect your snacks from Lycans and Vampires.

UNDERWORLD: AWAKENING in IMAX 3D is currently playing in select theaters nationwide, including at the AMC Theaters here in the Bay Area. To view showtimes, visit their website at www.amctheatres.com

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

Phil sees Carnage at the CinéArts Theater Santana Row-January 22, 2012

After I saw THE IRON LADY at the Camera 7 Pruneyard, I made my way to the CinéArts Theater in Santana Row to see the new Roman Polanski black comedy film CARNAGE, which is based on the play God of Carnage by French playwright Yasmina Reza.

Theatrical Movie Poster (2012)
When two grade-school boys get into a confrontation in the park that results in one boy hitting the other in the mouth with a stick, their parents meet in a Brooklyn apartment to discuss the matter. The parents of the boy wielding the stick, Alan and Nancy Cowan (Cristoph Waltz & Kate Winslet), visit the home of Michael and Penelope Longstreet (John C. Reilly & Jodi Foster), who are the parents of the boy who was struck. What begins as a civilized meeting turns into utter carnage as both sets of parents bicker and fight with one another, thus reducing themselves to childish behavior.

It's been a long time since I've seen a Polanski film. Now what makes this such a genius film is that the film takes place in one location (minus the exterior shot of the park that are the bookends of the film). The entire film is set in the Longstreet's apartment, which is actually a set built on a soundstage. But that's what makes this film so amazing is that we can be contained in one setting for 90 minutes and be utterly entertained. Now it helps to have a great script (which this film has), have four very talented actors (again a plus), then have a legendary film director to bring it all together.

This is what many critics call a black comedy. It deals with real life problems and situations and finds humor in these uncomfortable and confrontational surroundings. Now like I said, it helps to have talented actors to make the characters in these situations believable and funny. Waltz is lawyer we love to hate who is also an absent father who cares very little about what his son did. Winslet is the superficial wife who gets really drunk and throws up during the movie (which by the way, Winslet still looks very sexy while projecting vomit all over the Longstreet's coffee table). Riley is the father that is passive and doesn't give a damn about anything, especially about Foster's obsession to writing her book about the hardship that is taking place in Africa.

Ploanski's directing in the film is perfect. Just absolutely perfect. The framing of his scenes, the over the shoulder shots, the scenes where we see Foster in the foreground but we see Riley in the mirror behind her, which show us that he's on the other side of the room. Just little tricks that he uses to create the space that these people are forced to inhabit in during their get together.

CARNAGE is already my favorite comedy for 2012! You don't get too many great black comedies these days and here's one that is just hilarious to watch! Highly recommended!! Five out of five stars!!

CARNAGE is currently playing in select theaters nationwide, including at the CinéArts Theater Santana Row here in the Bay Area. To view showtimes, visit their website at http://cinemark.com

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

Phil sees THE IRON LADY at the Camera 7 Pruneyard-January 22, 2012

Welcome back cinema lovers to Phil's Film Adventures! After seeing five films on Saturday, you'd probably think I would take a day off from watching movies. If you thought that, then you haven't been reading my blog for very long. Sunday morning came and I headed back out to the theaters, this time I went to the Camera 7 in the Pruneyard Campbell where I saw the biopic THE IRON LADY, starring the talented actress Meryl Streep.

Theatrical Movie Poster (2012)
In the film, Streep portrays Margaret Thatcher, the first female British prime minister and the longest-serving of the 20th century (she served from 1979-1990). Her strict conservative policies, hard line against trade unions and tough rhetoric in opposition to the former Soviet Union earned her the nickname the "The Iron Lady." The film begins with Steep's elderly Thatcher in the present day, struggling with dementia as she flashbacks to her past while she reminisces with her dead husband Denis (Jim Broadben). She recalls her youth (actress Alexandra Roach portrays young Margaret with sass, determination, and optimism), working in her father's grocery store in Grantham, her becoming interested in politics thanks to her father, her falling in love with young Denis (Harry Lloyd), and her perseverance to smash through barriers of gender and class to be heard in the male dominated world of politics, with her becoming prime minister and the heavy tolls and sacrifices she had to make, for both England and her own family.

What is so amazing about the film is Streep herself. Is there anyone better to portray Thatcher then her? She embodies the former prime minister. Streep's performance in both extraordinary and fascinating to watch. She brings another side to Thatcher: the human side. While we all know of Thatcher's political career, we know very little of her personal life other than just we've read in books. In the film we really get to know Thatcher on a more personal level, but it's Streep's performance that enables us to feel for her to begin with. Without her acting skills, we the audience wouldn't have been able to sympathize to Thatcher. Just an outstanding acting performance!

The story was well-written, courtesy of Abi Morgan (SHAME) and director Phyllida Lloyd does a great job of bringing the script to life. Lloyd's more famous for helming the 2008 film MAMMA MIA!, which was my number one choice for worst movie released that same year. With this film, Lloyd matured as a director; her vision is more polished, her directing is much cleaner, all these are signs of a director growing into her craft.

THE IRON LADY is a splendid film that I truly enjoyed, as both a film lover and a history buff. People who are into biopics will be pleased with this film. Four out of five stars.

THE IRON LADY  is currently playing in theaters nationwide, including at the Camera Cinemas here in the Bay Area. To view showtimes, visit their website at www.cameracinemas.com

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show

Monday, January 23, 2012

Phil sees UNDERWORLD: AWAKENING in 2D at the Camera 12-January 21, 2012

The fifth and final film I saw on Saturday was UNDERWORLD: AWAKENING, the fourth installment of the highly successful and popular franchise. However the screening I attended is not the 3D version, as the Camera 12 did not have that version of the film. So the version I saw was the standard 2D version. Just making sure we're all on the same page.

Theatrical Movie Poster (2012)
The film begins with a nice prologue that brings the audience up to sped with the series, then it kicks off on a bleak note. Set six months after the events of UNDERWORLD: EVOLUTION, the human race has discovered the existence of the Vampire and Lycan clans. As the result of this discovery, the humans have declared war on both factors, a mass extermination that has been called "The Purge." Trying to escape, Selene (Kate Beckinsale) is captured and frozen in cryogenic suspension. She is awaken twelve years later and escapes from a medical facility called Antigen, who are trying to make an apparent antidote to the virus that creates the Vampires and Lycans. Also escaping Antigen is a young girl named Eve (India Eisley), who revealed to be a hybrid daughter of Selene and her lover Michael, the only other hybrid to exist. Together they fight for survival in a foreign world to them, with the humans hunting them while the Lycans begin to replenish their clan.

Also appearing in the film are Stephen Rea (Dr. Jacob Lane), Michael Ealy (Det. Sebastian), Theo James (David), Charles Dance (Thomas), and Chris Holden-Reid (Quint).

These films are not true horror films, even though they do offer the monsters that have plagued the nightmares of theater audiences for the past 100 years. The UNDERWORLD series are more action than horror, but there are some elements of the horror genre that are predominant: blood, gore, violence, and monsters. But when the filmmakers meld these ingredients with the action/adventure genre, they discovered a had something that was original and unique. Audiences became enthralled with the series since the first film was released back in 2003, and now in 2012, we have the fourth installment to the series.

What I enjoyed with this film is the fact that the filmmakers took our favorite characters and expanded the storyline and took it to a whole new level. Instead of the present day, we and Selene are flung twelve years into the future, where her kind are on the brinke of extinction. Now this was a smart thing to do, and the film fulfills my requirements for sequels: it expands on the story of the series, while also having our characters evolve and grow. Complacency is what can kill off a franchise, rendering it in an abysmal mess and cause its audiences not to come back. Here the story transcends to its next level, our characters are transformed from what they were originally, and the environment they inhabit in has also changed, in this case it has changed for the worse.

Once again Beckinsale is both beautiful and deadly as Selene. While her mannerism hasn't really differed from the previous films, her new role as mother will be an interesting factor to watch. Also let's face it: the woman was born to wear black leather clothes and shoot up werewolves, and she still looks sexy as hell. Also worthy mention is young India Eisley, who really gives a great performance as the hybrid child Eve. Her ability to be cute one minute and a ferocious killing machine must be very trying at times, but Eisley pulls it off. Hope she is recast for the next installment.

Overall, UNDERWORLD: AWAKENING is a worthy entry to the franchise! Whether you see it in 2D or 3D, if you are a fan of these film. then you will not be disappointed with this installment. Definitely worth seeing on the big screen! Four out of five stars.

UNDERWORLD: AWAKENING is currently playing in theaters nationwide, including at the Camera Cinemas here in the Bay Area. To view showtimes, visit their website at www.cameracinemas.com

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

Phil sees RED TAILS at the Camera 12- January 21, 2012

The fourth film I saw at the Camera 12 was the new film produced by George Lucas and his Lucasfilm LTD. Staring an all black cast, including Cuba Gooding Jr., Terrence Howard, Bryan Cranston, Nate Parker, David Oyelowo, Tristan Wilds, Cliff Smith, Kevin Phillips, Leslie Odom Jr., Michael B. Jordan, Jazmine Sullivan, Edwina Finley, Daniela Ruah, Stacie Davis and Gerald McRaney, RED TAILS tells a forgotten, overlooked and important chapter of World War II.

Theatrical Movie Poster (2012)
Set in 1944 as World War II rages, the African American pilots of the experimental Tuskegee training program are facing and fighting two very different wars at once: one against the Axis powers overseas, and racial discrimination within their own Army. However as the war in Europe continues to take its toll on the Allied forces, these brave men are finally called into duty under the guidance of Col. A.J. Bullard (Howard) and Major Emanuelle Stance (Gooding Jr.). After several successful missions, these brave men now known as The Red Tails embark on their most important mission: escort American bombardiers deep into Germany while fighting off their new jet fighter planes.

The film was the directorial debut of Anthony Hemingway, who is mostly know for directing TV episodes on shows such as Fringe, CSI: NY, The Closer, and Treme. He as also been second unit director or assistant director on films such as ALI, CHANGING LANES, and THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE.

Lucas originally began developing the film around 1988 but was unable to secure funding because the major film studios balked at the idea of financing and marketing a film with an "all-black" cast and "no major white roles." As a result of Hollowood's short sightedness, Lucas ended up funding the project with his own money, investing $58 million into the production of the film, and a further $35 million towards marketing. In March of 2010, after principle photography wrapped, Lucas took over directing the film's reshoots for Hemingway, who was already committed to filming the first season of Treme.

Now being that this was Hemingway's first film, I'll be going lenient. I know what's it like trying to direct your first film. However, his directing in the film could have been more smother and polished. At times I couldn't tell if he was trying to direct the film as a 1940s film or trying to be modern. Another item I didn't care for was the transitions between scenes. Many of these dissolves were unnecessary and some were cases, they dissolved way too fast. Also the script could have been more detailed because the characters seemed to me too one dimensional. There really was no real depth to these characters. However, the film does show us the racial discrimination that these men had to face and in the end finally given the respect that they deserve was important to see.

Of course this being a Lucas film, one would expect the special effects to be nothing less but spectacular and they are! The dog fights in the air, the bombing of German bases, the exploding German ships, these CGI effects are top notch! Great combat fighting is required in these types of films and Lucas and his team have once again done an incredible job.

RED TAILS is a flawed film, but still entertaining and also one that teaches us that adversity can be overcome. What these brave men did in WWII paved the way for equality in the Armed Forces. History was made back then, and now a whole new generation of people can now see how it was made before their very eyes. 3 1/2 out of 5 stars.

RED TAILS is currently playing in theaters nationwide, including at the Camera Cinemas here in the Bay Area. To view showtimes, visit their website at www.cameracinemas.com

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

Phil sees IN THE LAND OF BLOOD AND HONEY at the Camera 12-January 21, 2012

Welcome back once again to my movie weekend marathon at the Camera 12 in beautiful Downtown San Jose. The third movie I saw was IN THE LAND OF BLOOD AND HONEY, the directorial debut by actress Angelina Jolie, who also wrote and produced the film as well.

Theatrical Movie Poster (2012)
Set against the backdrop of the Bosnian War in the 1990s, a Serbian man named Danjiel (Goran Kostic) falls in love with a Bosnian woman named Ajla (Zana Marjanovic) on the brink of a war that tears their world apart. The couple met again several months later, but under very different circumstances: she is a prisoner in a camp that he oversees. There she is degraded, beaten, and raped repeatedly. Despite their ethic backgrounds, their love for one another evolves, but can it stand against the unflinching and horrific war that they are caught up in?

OK, let me start off by saying that his is an ugly film to watch. Let me explain that statement more thoroughly. The film "showcases" the Bosnian War, a war that destroyed an entire country, left it in ruins, and according to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) data, "200,000 people were killed, 12,000 of them children, up to 50,000 women were raped, and 2.2 million were forced to flee their homes." This was a very ugly and costly war, making it the most devastating conflict in Europe since the end of World War II.

The second reason why this film is ugly to watch is that while Jolie attempts to wrap a Shakespearean-esque love story around a war, the film repeatedly degrades women to the Nth degree. They are mistreated, beaten repeatedly, used as sexual whores and as cover by the soldiers. Even though Danjiel is supposedly in love with Ajla, he still holds her as his captive, threatens her, leaves her to be raped, and then makes "love" to her while he's purging the Muslim virus out of Bosnia. I'm sorry, but I know that film takes place during wartime, but it films like almost a snuff film. I have never seen so many women tortured, raped, and killed in a film before.

The third reason is the controversy surrounding the film. Many people (mostly Serbs) are protesting the film, saying that the film only shows one side of the war and that is spotlights Serbs as evil, heartless villains, thus creating negative reactions on both sides, Christian and Muslim. Also many critics are split down the middle: reviews from The Hollywood Reporter, Screen International, and the New York Times gave the film praise while The Los Angles Times, the Village Voice, and the New York Daily News gave it harsh and negative reviews. The A.V. Club said in its review that, "Serbian groups have justifiably complained about Jolie’s glib stereotyping of Serbs as racist heavies." In my humble opinion, I have never seen a film garner this much controversy since D.W. Griffith's 1915 film THE BIRTH OF A NATION.

Now you're all might be wondering what I thought of the film? I thought it was OK. Seriously. While it was really well directed and shooting on location gave the film a look of authenticity, the story was a little uneven, the characters could've have been more fleshed out, and it dragged on for too long. The acting was decent, but sometimes it felt too forced, and I know we're supposed to feel sympathetic Ajla. However, the on-screen chemistry between Marjanovic and Kostic just didn't work for me, therefore I couldn't invest myself emotionally into these characters.

IN THE LAND OF MILK AND HONEY is a film that will cause many late night arguments and headaches among movie goers and critics. Things got pretty intense at the screening that I attended, so if you wish to see this film, maybe you should rent it when it comes out on DVD.

IN THE LAND OF MILK AND HONEY is currently playing in theaters nationwide, including at the Camera Cinemas here in the Bay Area. To view showtimes, visit their website at www.cameracinemas.com

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Phil sees EXTREMELY LOUD AND INCREDIBLY CLOSE at the Camera 12-January 21, 2012

For my second film of the day on Saturday I saw EXTREMELY LOUD AND INCREDIBLY CLOSE, which is based on the novel of the same name by Jonathan Safran Foer and stars Tom Hanks, Sandra Bullock, John Goodman, James Gandolfini, Jeffrey Wright, Viola Davis, Max Von Sydow and Thomas Horn. The film was directed by Stephen Daldry (THE READER, THE HOURS, and BILLY ELLIOT).

Theatrical Movie Poster (2012)
The film's about nine-year-old Osker Schell (Horn), who father Thomas (Hanks) was killed during the September 11th attacks on the World Trade Center, which he refers to as "the worst day." One year later, Osker accidentally discovers a key in a envelope that was hidden in a blue vase in his father's closet. Convinced that his father had left him one final message to find, Oskar hits the streets of New York, determined to find the lock that the key fits. Still coping from the loss, his mother Linda (Bullock) has difficulty with raising her son, which only reminds her how much she still needs Thomas in her life. The strain of losing his father causes Osker to have an almost nervous breakdown, as he tries to understand why things the way they are without reason or logic, but also a secret that has he has been carrying since his father's death.

The film is so extraordinary in so many different ways that it's very difficult for me to express in words. One thing is that what happened on 9/11 still haunt many of us Americans, especially those who lost loved ones in the World Trade Center. For me, it was a nightmare that I could not wake up from. I saw the whole event unfold before my very eyes, and I still couldn't believe it. To this day, my eyes still swell up with tears of loss, sadness, and heartache. It's a day that I, and all Americans, will never, ever forget.

But on the film's website, it states that, "This is not a story about September 11th, it's about every day after." The film could be labeled as a child's story of 9/11, but that would be too easy to say. Rather, the film focuses on a young boy, who experienced one of the most horrifying losses a child should never go through, and chronicles his life after that tragic day. Horn is the film's star, while both Hanks and Bullock take on the supporting roles. In the film, Horn's character Oskar suffers from a wide variety of anxieties. Even though the film never revealed his medical condition, he hints to having Asperger Syndrome, but throughout the film his disorders range from Francophile to being a pacifist. He's scared to cross bridges, feels that all forms of public transportation are easy targets for terrorist's attacks, and believes the swings in the Brooklyn Park are unfit to play on, even though a year earlier his father tells him to relax and have fun.

Horn is incredible as the complex Osker, which really shows us that this kid has major talent. Playing such a complex role at such a young age, Horn nails his performance with believability, dry humor, and pathos. He is going to have a very long and amazing career in Hollywood. One has to wonder what will he'll be doing when he gets older. Both Hanks and Bullock bring class, humor, and dignity to their parental roles, with Hanks' character Thomas being the catalyst in Osker's obsession.

Daldry directs the film beautifully and really focuses on the theme of loss, death, and rebirth. But he also focuses on the emotional distraught and self realization to coming to grips with the way the world is. For Osker, it doesn't make sense, and most children think like this. However, sometimes we don't get the closure that we need to move on, and thus, we must learn to let go and go on living. Sometimes is is unberable, but life if full of joy as well. We just have to remember that.

EXTREMELY LOUD AND INCREDIBLY CLOSE is a marvelous film, powerful and emotional, it takes us on a journey called life. The film transcends into something completely different than the other films focusing on 9/11. This film reminds us that even after "the worst day" we are still alive, and where there's life there's hope. And for children who lost a parent during 9/11, this film will serve as a healing factor, for this will remind them that they are not alone, nor will they ever be alone. Highly recommended for the whole family!!

EXTREMELY LOUD AND INCREDIBLY CLOSE is currently playing in theaters nationwide, including at the Camera Cinemas here in the Bay Are. To view showtimes, visit their website at www.cameracinemas.com

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

Phil sees THE DEVIL INSIDE at the Camera 12-January 21, 2012

So since I'm still healing from my severe sprang ankle, I thought it would be more fun to heal inside a movie theater. So I ventured out to the Camera 12 in Downtown San Jose to see a plethora of films! The first film I saw on Saturday was the first horror film release of 2012. Now being a horror fan, I always get excited when I hear new horror film is coming to the big screen. However, in the case with THE DEVIL INSIDE, I really wish that this was a good horror film worth seeing on the big screen.

Theatrical Movie Poster (2012)
The film is supposedly inspired by true events. In 1989, three clergy men are killed by a woman named Maria Rossi (Suzan Crowley), who phoned 911 to inform the authorities of her murders. She is tried and found to be criminally insane and is sent to a mental hospital in Italy. Twenty years later her daughter Isabella (Fernanda Andrade) travels to Italy to search for answers to what exactly happened that night. Accompanying her is Michael Schaefer (Ionut Grama), a documentary filmmaker who is filming her journey of revelations. Once there they met two priests: Father Ben Rawlings (Simon Quarterman) and Father David Keane(Evan Helmuth). When she tells them that the murders committed by her mother accrued during an exorcism, they begin to suspect that Maria is possessed and begin to perform an exorcism, without the authorization of the church. However things become more complicated as the young priests discover that Isabella's mother is suffering from a "multi-demon possession," which in turn causes havoc among the foursome.

There are numerous flaws to be found within this film. One is the so-called "found footage" that has just been done to death. Ever since the release of THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT in 1999 (jeez has it been thirteen years already?), there have been numerous films that have copied the film's idea and premise. Films like the infamous AUGUST UNDERGROUND series, the very popular and highly successful CLOVERFIELD, the cool creepiness of the Spanish series [REC.], to the overly drawn out and incredibly boring PARANORMAL ACTIVITY trilogy, the "found documentary" idea is now officially been "done to death!" If this film was released over ten years ago, it would have been hailed as a breath of fresh air, a monumental movie event in both the film world and in the horror genre. But it didn't come out ten years ago, and now the only horror caused by the film is our empty wallets.

Another factor that I didn't care for was the "documentary footage" that was found and pieced together. Now, I have seen a great many documentaries, and since I've made a couple of documentaries (and helped out on others), the aspect that removed me from the film, from almost at the very beginning, was the "look" of the documentary. It didn't look "real," like an actual documentary. It was too staged, too precised and too rehearsed. The acting was way too stiff and unbelievable for me. Nothing felt like it was actually happening, like in most documentaries. The elements of surprise, shock, and truth are important to have in the world of docs. This film didn't have any of these factors and since I was taken out of the film, almost right from the start, I had a hard time sitting through the next hour and a half.

Now the 911 audio call in the very beginning of the film really impressed me. It was creepy, very disturbing to hear, and having to hear this with just a black screen with the audio playing was very effective. Of course, I thought it was a going to be "one of the most horrifying films" to be released, but alas, that wasn't the case. Granted it was somewhat more tolerable than THE LAST EXORCISM but not as atrocious than THE EXORCISM OF EMILY ROSE. But let's face facts people, with 1973's THE EXORCIST, no other film can come close to what that film has done and therefore it is the film that all other exorcism or devil/religious films are measured by. My advise is to stay away from making a film like this. It has already been made, perfectly made for that matter, and so let's move on from this particular sub-genre.

THE DEVIL INSIDE is 2012's first worst horror film to be released. Hopefully the horror world can bounce back from this nauseating piece of cinematic rubbish. What the horror genre needs are new voices, new ideas, and new talented filmmakers that will transcend the genre into something worth being scared of. Until then, let this film rot in Hell for all eternity.

THE DEVIL INSIDE is currently playing in theaters nationwide, including at the Camera Cinemas here in the Bay Area. To view showtimes, visit their website at www.cameracinemas.com

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Phil attends the HARLOD LLOYD double feature at the Stanford Theatre-January 20, 2012

On Monday, January 9th, at approximately 10am, I severely sprang my left ankle at work, and as a result, I was laid up at home for almost two weeks. Hence all the reviews I've been doing over on The Midnight Horror Sinema Show. But tonight marked my return to going out to the movies and I couldn't have picked a better night! Over at the Stanford Theatre in Palo Alto, they were showing a Harold Lloyd Double Feature! Tonight on the mighty Wurlitzer was my good friend, the incredible Dennis James! So let the fun and laughter begin!!

Harold Lloyd in HOT WATER (1924)
The first film of the night was HOT WATER (1924): Starring Lloyd, Jobyna Ralston, Josephine Crowell, Charles Stevenson, and Mickey McBan. Seeing himself as a bachelor for life, Lloyd falls for the beautiful Ralston. Fast forward a couple of months and married life has taken its toll on him, all because of his in-laws. His misadventures for today consists of riding on a crowded trolley with a wild turkey that he won from the grocery store, his in-laws showing up and causing havoc, a joy ride in his new car that turns into tragedy as the car becomes totaled and thus is towed back home, gets drunk with his neighbor, accidentally chloroforms his mother-in-law, and becomes mistaken as a ghost. Yup, life for Lloyd is tough! The film was directed by Fred C. Newmeyer and Sam Taylor, who also co-wrote the film with John Grey, Tim Whelan, and Thomas J. Gray. The film was released to theaters by Pathe on October 26, 1924.

Harold Lloyd in SAFETY LAST (1923)
The second film on tonight's bill was SAFETY LAST (1923): Starring Lloyd, Mildred Davis, Bill Strother, and Noah Young. Lloyd's most famous and popular film ever, our four-eyed friend heads to the big city to make it big, but unfortunately comes up short. He lives with his friend (Strother) and can barely eat and pay the rent. When his fiance (Davis) arrives, he pretends to be the manager of the department store he works at. Desperate for money for his wedding, he convinces his boss to pull off a publicity stunt to attract more customers to the store so he can claim the $1000 bonus. With his pal being chased by a police officer (Young), it's up to Lloyd to climb the outside of the department store! The film was directed by Newmeyer and Taylor again, and was released by Pathe on April 1, 1923.

The image of Lloyd hanging on to the clock while hovering above traffic is one of the most iconic images in not only silent film history, but of film history in general. Whenever you open up a book that talks about the silent film era, you will see this picture. This particular scene can also be seen in Martin Scorsese's new film HUGO. Lloyd was one of the "Big Three" comedians from the silent era (the other two being Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton). Even 89 years after the film's release, it is still being played to sold out crowds (like tonight) and it can be found on many top ten lists by both critics and fans. A true comedy classic that still stands the test of time!

What a great night for going out to the movies! Also, for all you silent fans out there, the theatre will now be showing silent film every week starting next week! So make sure you come back next Friday and see what cool silent films I will be seeing next!

Both HOT WATER and SAFETY LAST are available on DVD and can be purchased at your local retailer or at the Amazon website. So click here if you are interested in buying copy for yourself or for a friend tonight.

The Stanford Theatre is your home for classic Hollywood movies! To view their movie schedules, times, and tickets, visit their website at www.stanfordtheatre.org

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Phil reviews HELL COMES TO FROGTOWN for The Midnight Horror Sinema Show-January 17, 2011

Yes horror fans I just reviewed Donald G Jackson's 1985 cult classic HELL COMES TO FROGTOWN starring former WWF wrestling superstar Rowdy Roddy Piper! The DVD I reviewed was the Anchor Bay edition, which includes the film's theatrical trailer, presented in the widescreen format, and contains an audio commentary with Jackson and screenwriter Randall Frakes. Jackson died from leukemia on October 20 2003, so this commentary was one of the last ones he ever did. Anchor Bay let go several of their horror titles last year and were picked up by Image Entertainment, however these reissues do not contain any the extras found on the AB editions. So click here to read my review and if your interested in purchasing the AB edition, buy it now because these are now out of print!

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Phil reviews JESSICKA RABID for The Midnight Horror Sinema Show- January 16, 2012

OK so you my have noticed that I've been busy reviewing a lot of cool horror movies on my other film blog The Midnight Horror Sinema Show. The main reason is that there are a plethora of really cool horror films that I must watch and report back to you my fellow creatures of the night. My newest review in on Troma Entertainment's latest DVD release JESSICKA RABID. The film was co-written, co-produced and starred Elske McCain and Trent Hagga. The film was directed by Matthew Reel and was shot on location in Tuscon, Arizona. The film is the perfect blend of underground cinema, home movies, and suff film and is one of the most disturbing film I have seen in a long time. Of course I loved it, so if you're feeling brave tonight, I dare you to watch this film. And be warned, this film is not for the faint of heart. So click here to read about it and see if you can handle this film.

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Phil reviews MORE BRAINS! A RETURN TO THE LIVING DEAD for The Midnight Horror Sinema Show-January 14, 2012

Hello there my horror fanatics! Over on The Midnight Horror Sinema Show I just finished my review of MORE BRAINS! A RETURN TO THE LIVING DEAD. This informative and interesting documentary tells the making of stories of the making of the 1985 cult classic THE RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD. Director Bill Philputt and writers Gary Smart and Christian Sellers give us some great on-camera interviews with original cast and crew member, including Clu Gulager (Burt), James Karen (Frank), Don Calfa (Ernie), Beverly Randolf (Tina), Thom Mathews (Freddy), Jewel Shepard (Casey), Linnea Quigley (Trash), and the film's narrator Brian Peck. So click here to read my review, and don't forget to sign up to my follow my horrific blog!

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Phil gets an exclusive interview while attending the midnight sceening of THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW at the Camera 3-January 7, 2012

This past Saturday night I did the Time Warp again over at the midnight screening of THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW at the Camera 3 in Downtown San Jose! As I mentioned in my October review, if you have never been to a midnight show of ROCKY, then my friends you are missing out on a lot of fun! The show is presented by The Camera 3 Cinemas and by Psycho Donuts and it features the cast of Barely Legal Productions, who have been carrying the ROCKY torch here in the Bay Area for the past 16 years. These events have been so popular that they are now having shows twice a month: the first and third Saturday!

What a way to ring in the new year with a midnight screening of ROCKY, which was Barely Legal's first show for 2012. The cast and crew once again did a wonderful job! Every time I attend these shows, the crowds get bigger and bigger, plus more and more "virgins" are attending these shows, which means the ROCKY virus is spreading to a whole new generation of kids. This makes me very happy, because it means that this midnight tradition, and the film, will be entertaining people for years to come. This is their mission: to keep the legacy of THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW alive and well, and to make sure audiences have the best time of their lives at their shows. I always have a blast, and all my friends that I've been taking have all had fun and all have come back several times over.

The Barely Legal Cast before Saturday's show
I had the honor and privileged to conduct an interview with two of the main actors of the Barely Legal show. Nate and Bridgid McHavoc (who just got married late last year) are what I like to call the "power couple" behind the BLP. They have been part of Barley Legal since its inception. But for Bridgid, who portrayed the infamous sweet transvestite Dr, Frank-N-Furter at Saturday's show, her involvement with the film started years earlier. "When I was dating Nate years ago, he would have ROCKY HORROR parties at his place. That's when I saw the film for the first time really." However while they were dating, "We would go out to dinner or whatever and he would leave at 10:30pm to go with his friends to see ROCKY at midnight, and I got tired of being left behind. So I told him that next time he was going that he had to take me too," Bridgid said laughingly.

Nate & Bridgid McHavoc as Riff Raff & Columbia
The first shows that Barely Legal held were at the famous UC Theater in Bekerley every Saturday night until the theater closed its doors in 1997 "After the theater closed we began to put on shows at the Parkway Theater in Oakland, " said Nate, still in his Riff Raff costume, minus the bald cap. "The crowds at those shows were incredible." The Barely Legal cast performed at the Parkway Theater for well over a decade until, like the UC Theater, it closed in 2008. "That was a real shame because we had so much fun there," said Bridgid.

With the closing of the Parkway Theater, the BL crew went on the road, having shows in San Francisco, Peteluma, and other cities before settling in at the Albany Theater in Albany and at the Camera 3 here in San Jose. It had been a long time since San Jose had midnight ROCKY screenings due to the closing of the Camera One back in 1995. For this movie fanatic, I was so happy to see it return to San Jose and back at the Camera Cinemas once again.

Nate and Bridgid live all the way up in Tracy, which by itself is a long commute. Add to the fact that both have full time jobs. Bridgid is an executive assistant at American Pacific Mortgage and Nate, "works a lot." But despite their hectic schedules, they are committed to their ROCKY fans and their passion in keeping the film alive and making sure their audiences have the best time of the lives at their shows. So to Nate, Bridgid, and to the rest of the Barely Legal crew, I would like to say "thank you" for bringing ROCKY back to San Jose, to the Camera Cinemas, and for making me forget my troubles for a while and letting me do the Time Warp once again. You guys are the best!

As I stated earlier, Barely Legal will be having two shows now every month. The next show will be on Saturday, January 28th so mark that date on your calender! If you would like to learn more about them and are interested in joining their cast, visit their cool website at http://barelylegal.rhps.org/. Also look for them on Facebook as well and to see showtimes, visit the Camera Cinemas website at www.cameracinemas.com. So what are you waiting for? Come out next Saturday and join in on all this ROCKY HORROR fun! You'll be glad you did!

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Phil sees WE BOUGHT A ZOO at the Camera 12-January 7, 2011

For the third and final film I saw at the Camera 12 was the new family film WE BOUGHT A ZOO. The film was directed by Cameron Crowe and starred Matt Damon, Scarlett Johansson, Thomas Haden Church, Elle Fanning and Patrick Fugit.

Theatrical Movie Poster (2011)
The film is based on the incredible but true story of Benjamin Mee (Damon), a recently widowed husband with two children: rebellious and recently expelled teenage son Dylan (Colin Ford) and adorable seven year-old Rosie (Maggie Elizabeth Jones). To give his family a fresh start, Benjamin buys an run down, dilapidated zoo, against the advice of his older brother Duncan (Church). The zoo is complete with all sorts of animals, including lions, tigers, and bears. Oh my! Helping Benjamin are the unpaid and unsure staff who think 'ol Ben here won't last. The only staff member who believes in him is the head zoo keeper Kelly Foster (Johansson). Soon Ben and the gang spend their every waking moment repairing and updating the zoo for their inspection before their grand reopening to the public.

It's be over six years since Crowe has made a narrative film since the critically panned ELIZABETHTOWN (which this reviewer really enjoyed). While he was busy making the incredible documentary PEARL JAM TWENTY (read my review for that film here), a lot happened to Crowe, mainly his publicized divorce from musician and sometimes collaborator on films Nancy Wilson from the rock group Heart. One has to wonder if he sympathized with Mee, who lost his wife to cancer.

Damon, who put on a couple of pounds to play the role of the grief husband, really gives a fine performance as Benjamin. He's believable, honest, sincere, and really makes the audience care about him. The lovely Johansson tries to downplay her hotness, but it doesn't work, she's still damn hot! But my favorite performance goes to little Maggie Elizabeth Jones, who is just so adorable! She literally makes you smile and laugh every time she's in frame. Also look for the enchanting Elle Fanning as Lily Miska, who helps out at the zoo and falls for Dylan, who is just so angry with his mom's death that Benjamin can't control him. The tension between father and son relatable.

The film starts off a little slow in the first act, but once the second act begins, the films unfolds to reveal numerous zoo keepers, animals and some hilarious sibling squabbling between Benjamin and Church. Also a great love story with Ben and Kelly, Lily and Dylan, and Ben with his kids, who begins to tell stories to kids about their mom. As Benjamin puts it, "You know, sometimes all you need is twenty seconds of insane courage. Just literally twenty seconds of just embarrassing bravery. And I promise you, something great will come of it." Great advise that I've ever heard from a movie.

Like all of Crowe's other movies, the film has a awesome soundtrack. It contains some amazing music from Bob Dylan, Tom Petty, Wilco, Cat Stevens, Temple of the Dog, The Isley Brothers. Neil Young and Swedish legend jónsi. If you find this soundtrack anywhere, pick it up! It's this winter's best mixed tape!

WE BOUGHT A ZOO is one of Cameron Crowe's best films, involving authentic emotions while simultaneously making you chuckle, and bringing some tears to you eyes. The film is an heartfelt film, which is Crowe's forte. If you're looking for a great afternoon movie that will make you leave the theater with a smile on your face, then this is the film for you.

WE BOUGHT A ZOO is currently playing in theaters nationwide, including at the Camera Cinemas here in the Bay Area. To view showtimes, visit their website at www.cameracinemas.com

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Phil sees THE DARKEST HOUR in 2D at the Camera 12-January 7, 2012

Welcome back folks! So the second feature I saw on Saturday was the new science fiction, alien invasion, end of the world, apocalyptic horror film THE DARKEST HOUR. While watching it I thought to myself, "Oh boy, this is going to be a tough one to review."

Theatrical Movie Poster (2011)
Stop me if you've heard this one: Two cool, good looking guys meet two very hot and sexy ladies and a douchebag guy and they survive an alien invasion and try to find other survivors and along the way discover how to defeat these hostile aliens and save humanity. Does this sound familiar to you? Yeah, I thought it did too.

OK, so now that we have established that this film contains nothing new and is basically the same schlock flick that Hollywood has been putting out for the past decade, let me tell you what I did like about the film. First: the two actresses in the film are Olivia Thirlby and Rachael Taylor who portray Natalie and Anne respectively. Now I've been a big fan of Thirlby for quite some time. From JUNO to THE WACKNESS to NO STRINGS ATTACHED, Thirlby is a very talented actress and I enjoy her work. Taylor is just smoking hot. From the first time I saw her in Michael Bay's 2007 film TRANSFORMERS, I was infatuated. But when I saw her in films like BOTTLE SHOCK, SPLINTERHEADS, and SUMMER CODA, her acting in these films were amazing. Taylor really is a gifted actress. I hope these ladies will appear in another film together again. The played off one another great and have good on-screen chemistry.

The other thing I liked about the film was it was filmed on location in Moscow. It's been a long time since I've seen Moscow in a film (I think the last time was in ROCKY IV). Having the film take place there was a very good idea, giving it an exotic look, having incredible looking buildings and ancient and historical landmarks and monuments really made the film look impressive.

Other than these two items, the rest of the film is recycled crap. I saw the film in 2D, to which I am very thankful. If I saw it in 3D, I would have wanted to stab my eyes out with a plastic fork. The movie is bad, just really, really bad. There is nothing original about the film. By the end of the film, the main character Sean (portrayed by Emile Hirsch) becomes the 21st century version of John Conner from the TERMINATOR series. I mean it's so damn obvious. I want to know if the filmmakers thought nobody would notice this? Well guess what guys? I noticed it, and you guys suck!

THE DARKEST HOUR is one awful sci-fi, horror film. Folks best skip this film all together. Don't go see it, don't Netflix it when it comes out, don't Redbox it, just ignore it all together. Hopefully it will be forgotten, and I shall never have to see it ever again.

THE DARKEST HOUR is currently playing in theaters nationwide, including at the Camera Cinemas here in the Bay Area. To view showtimes, check their website at www.cameracinemas.com

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

Phil sees A DANGEROUS METHOD at the Camera 12-January 7, 2012

This past Saturday I went nuts! I went and saw four movies: three at the Camera 12 during the day and a midnight show at the Camera 3, both located in beautiful downtown San Jose. So for the first film of the day that I saw was David Cronenberg's A DANGEROUS METHOD.

Theatrical Movie Poster (2011)
Based on a true story, the film chronicles the story of the intense relationship between Carl Jung (Michael Fassbender) and his mentor Sigmund Freud (Viggo Mortensen) and the birth of psychoanalysis, and Sabina Spielrein (Kira Knightley), the troubled but beautiful young woman who comes between the two of them. Soon Jung becomes obsessed with Sabina and succumbs to his sexual desires and they become entwined with one another, despite Freud's disapproval with the idea.

The screenplay was adapted by Christopher Hampton from his 2002 stage play The Talking Cure, which was based on the 1993 non-fiction book by John Kerr, A Most Dangerous Method: the story of Jung, Freud, and Sabina Spielrein.

Once again director Cronenberg ventures into familiar territory: human sexuality and the human condition. Like what he explored in his previous films like DEAD RINGERS, THE FLY and CRASH,  Cronenberg has made a career out exploring taboos such as sex, death, a social anxieties. Here, highlighting the progression of psychoanalysis, Carl has a sexual awakening, thanks to both Sabina and his other patient Otto Gross (Vincent Cassel), who informs him that sexual depravity is not an illness, but can be used as a treatment. With Sabina as his lover, he begins to question the traditional scientific method that Freud has implemented in the science community. Soon their friendship becomes frayed, with Sabina literally caught in the middle.

Again Cronenberg's directing in superb, capturing the emotional and the scenic beauty in this period piece. Knightley does a incredible job performing the insane but intelligent Sabina: from raging lunacy to sexual mistress to professional doctor, Knightley really gives an impressive performance. Both Fassbender and Mortensen give us the intellectual fight that I was hoping to see. Powerful and  commanding performances by these two actors.

A DANGEROUS METHOD is a brilliant, though-provoking, absorbing period drama that tells us the story of love, lust and the beginnings of psychoanalysis. Great directing, great story, great acting add up to a very impressive movie. Definitely a must-see!

A DANGEROUS METHOD is currently playing in theaters nationwide, including at the Camera Cinemas here in the Bay Area. To view showtimes, visit their website at www.cameracinemas.com

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Phil sees SHERLOCK HOLMES: A GAME OF SHADOWS at the Camera 7 Pruneyard-January 6, 2012

The second film I saw Friday night at the Camera 7 in the Pruneyard Campbell was one I had very low expectations for. However after the screening of the film I was rather impressed. Very rarely do I see a sequel that is better than the original. With SHERLOCK HOLMES: A GAME OF SHADOW, I can say that this was a much better film than the first film.

Theatrical Movie Poster (2011)
Once again Robert Downey Jr. portrays Sherlock Holmes, the world's greatest detective as well as Jude Law as his sidekick Dr. Watson. In this sequel, Holmes is working on his most important case ever. Tracking down a series of clues leads him to his most dangerous adversary ever: the brilliant mastermind criminal Professor James Moriarty (Jared Harris). Holmes and Watson join forces yet again, along with help of a gypsy woman named Sim (Noomi Rapace) and Holmes's older brother Mycroft Holmes (Stephen Fry), to thwart the evil Moriarty from starting a international war in Europe.

What makes this film better than the previous film is the inclusion of Moriarty into the formula. Your hero is only as good as his villain. Where would Superman be without Lex Luthor? Batman without the Joker? Captain America without the Red Skull? Peter Pan and Captain Hook, Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader, these are heroes that need their villain to make them legendary. With Holmes, Moriarty is a worthy adversary, and Harris gives a brilliant performance. Downy and Law renew their on screen chemistry and give their usual perfect performances.

Also worth noting is Rapace making her English language film debut. Rapace is internationally famous for her portrayal of Lisbeth Salander in the original Swedish versions of the DRAGON TATTOO trilogy. Rapace's role as the gypsy Sim is flat and her character neither rises to any occasion or is offered any romance. She's just there to hang around Holmes and Watson. It's a real shame because of Rapace's acclaim performance as Lisabeth, she deserved a much better role. Also look for Rachel McAdams, who returns as Irene Adler, but don't expect too much screen time of her character. To be honest, her appearance in the film was totally unnecessary. Director Guy Ritchie does a tremendous job of creating some amazing action scenes while giving audiences the chance to get reacquainted with these eccentric and eclectic characters.

SHERLOCK HOLMES: A GAME OF SHADOWS is a fun-filled action ride of a flick. So don't expect to see the same thing in the last film. This was a better film and more enjoyable. So if you're looking for a fun Saturday night film, than this film is perfect for you. Enjoy!

SHERLOCK HOLMES: A GAME OF SHADOWS is currently playing in theaters nationwide, including at the Camera Cinemas here in the Bay Area. To view showtimes, visit their website at www.cameracinemas.com

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

Phil sees TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY at the Camera 7 Pruneyard-January 6, 2011

Welcome everybody to 2012 and welcome to an all new year of film reviews! I hope you had a lot of fun on New Year's Eve! Now that the holidays are behind us, it's now time to get back to watching movies! So for tonight I headed back to the Camera 7 in the Pruneyard Campbell and saw two great films. The first film up is one that has been causing quite a buzz lately, and with very good reason. Featuring a cast of talented actors, TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY is, without question, one of the best spy thrillers I have ever witnessed.

Theatrical Movie Poster (2012)
The film is based on author John le Carré's groundbreaking cold war bestseller. Control (John Hurt), the leader of an unknown sector of the British Intelligence service, is ousted along with his long-standing companion George Smiley (Gary Oldman) due to a botched operation in Budapest, Hungary which saw the officer Jim Prideaux (Mark Strong) murdered in public. Control was under the impression that there was a mole among the top ranking members of the service, referred to as the Circus by the other top ranking members due to its location in Cambridge Circus, London. Smiley is drawn out of retirement to pinpoint the culprit after Control passes away. Alongside the young Intelligence officer Peter Guillam (Benedict Cumberbatch), Smiley has four primary candidates to focus his investigation upon; the last remaining members of the Circus, Bill Haydon (Colin Firth), Percy Alleline (Toby Jones), Roy Bland (Ciaran Hinds) and Toby Esterhase (David Dencik).

This is not your typical spy film. If you are expecting to see car chases, gadgets galore, spills. thrills, beautiful women, and highly stylized choreographed fight scenes, then you will be disappointed. If however, you wanted to see a beautifully played and observed spy film, one that makes you think while watching it, enticing you to unravel the mystery along with our protagonist, then this is the film that you having been wishing for.

The film was directed by Swedish filmmaker Tomas Alfredson, who erupted upon the international scene three years ago with his film adaption of John Ajvide Lindqvist's novel LET THE RIGHT ONE IN. After the success of the film, Alfredson was soon attached to this project as director. Needless to say, Alfredson does an incredible job and allows the film to unfold at an almost flawless pace. Every sequence contains a small snippet of information which allows the viewer to conduct their own investigation alongside with Smiley's. While the narrative is also driven along by strong performances from the primarily male cast, Gary Oldman, Colin Firth, Toby Jones, Ciaran Hinds, David Dencik, Stephen Graham and Kathy Burke all give strong, commanding performances. There is nothing that I can say that will give these fine actors enough praise. All are outstanding, which is very rare to see in a film these days.

All in all, TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY is simply a masterpiece of incredible intelligence; a film that will no doubt win several awards in the coming year. If you want to see a fantastic, international spy film that will knock you out of your chair, then by all means see this film!

TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY is currently playing in theaters nationwide, including at the Camera Cinemas here in the Bay Area. To view showtimes, visit their website at www.cameracinemas.com

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Phil reviews HERSCHELL GORDON LEWIS: THE GODFATHER OF GORE DVD on The Midnight Horror Sinema Show-Jan. 5, 2011

Hello again my faithful readers! I've been pretty busy over on THE MIDNIGHT HORROR SINEMA SHOW. My newest review is on the recently released documentary HERSCHELL GORDON LEWIS: THE GODFATHER OF GORE. The film was directed by Frank Henenlotter, who directed the film FRANKENHOOKER, which was the first film I reviewed for my new film blog. The film chronicles the career of the man who invented the term "Gore" with films like BLOOD FEAST, TWO THOUSAND MANIACS, and COLOR ME BLOOD RED. This was the first feature film release by Something Weird Video, home to some of the world's most insane, craziest, and bizarre films ever made on the face of the Earth! So click here to read my review, then go check out the films of Herschell Gordon Lewis.

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Phil reviews the INTRUDER Blu-Ray+DVD combo pack on THE MIDNIGHT HORROR SINEMA SHOW-January 4, 2011

Hello again my faithful gorehounds! Over on my horror film blog THE MIDNIGHT HORROR SINEMA SHOW I just finished my review of Synapse Films' Blu-Ray+DVD combo of the long, lost slasher film classic INTRUDER. The film was directed by Scott Spiegel (co-writer of EVIL DEAD 2) and produced by Lawrence Bender (producer of Quentin Tarantino's films). This was a great horror film, and for those of you out there in the dark who haven't seen this film, I'm telling you all right now that you're missing out! A true lost classic has been restored, so click here and read up on the film! And trust me when I say that you'll never want to go grocery shopping at night ever again!

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

Monday, January 2, 2012

Phil wishes you all a HAPPY NEW YEAR!-January 1, 2012

Hello everybody!! Well 2011 was a very busy year for me!

Since starting my movie blog back in March, I saw some amazing films while attending some of my favorite film festivals; such as the San Francisco Silent Film Festival as well as the Bronco Billy's Silent Film Festival over at the Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum. Plus attending the Movies For Maniacs series at the world famous Castro Theratre as well as Peaches Christ's screenings! Overall, I had so much fun this past year. Now in 2012, I'll be bringing you even more fun! I'm planning to attend the San Francisco Film Noir Film Festival at the Castro and the Another Hole In The Head Horror Film Fest at the Roxie. I'll also be continuing my regular shows at the Camera Cinemas, including the Cult Movie series and the ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW midnight screenings. Plus my normal film fests and my return to my favorite film festival of all time: The Cinequest Film Festival right here in my hometown of San Jose! Plus I'll also be reviewing only the very best horror/non-horror Blu-Rays and DVDs on my new film blog THE MIDNIGHT HORROR SINEMA SHOW!

It goes without saying that 2012 will be a very interesting year! And of course, I would like to thank all of you who joined me on my cinematic adventures in 2011. To all of you who left me comments and signed up to follow my blog, my deepest thanks! I hope you enjoyed my reviews and thoughts. Now let's say goodbye to 2011, and welcome 2012 with a bang!!

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!