Almost since the beginning, Terry Gilliam has been a mainstay in my movie collection, and my DVD copy of 12 Monkeys has been around since university. It easily claimed a spot on the list of Essential Cinema that my friends and I hashed out over countless drunken nights and weekend marathon gaming sessions of SSX Tricky. So I was super stoked to upgrade to the Arrow release of 12 Monkeys a couple weeks back when Ryebone and I made our annual pilgrimage to FAN EXPO, it being a staple of my cinematic diet for so long.
And also a little sad.
Not at the superior visual and audio quality of the new Blu-ray version, which is awesome, but at the replacement of the specific DVD copy that has been a part of my life, literally for decades now. For some, sentimentality over a particular copy of a particular movie that was mass-produced around the world may be difficult to grasp. It's the same basic drive that fuels all sentimental connections, I suppose; that particular thing is associated in one's brain with another thing that occurred in temporal proximity as that brain tries to make sense of all this data. With 12 Monkeys it's not as visceral as some other films--I remember I bought it at the local CD Plus back when that chain still existed in Canada--but I can't narrow down the exact time. But I still remember that in my budding collection of maybe a couple of dozen films, 12 Monkeys made that early cut of essential films I had to have at my fingertips at all times.
2019 | dir: Jon Watts | 129m
The Marvel Cinematic Universe is, by this point, a well-oiled machine that basically prints money on command. Spider-Man Far From Home, the second solo outing for Peter Parker and his alter-ego in the MCU, seemed destined to be a smash success, as most Marvel films are these days. And, of course, it is raking in a tonne of dough. There's no question it's a financial success for Marvel Studios and their evil overlords at Disney. It did what it was designed to do, and exactly nothing more.
I went in to Spider-Man: Far From Home as a fan of the MCU in general: a few terrible films, a few great films, a lot of solid films somewhere in between those two extremes, but always well-thought out and part of a larger plan. I remember walking out of Avengers: Infinity War and thinking that this is probably as close as I would get to experiencing a cinematic event that people watching The Empire Strikes Back for the first time in theatres must have shared. I'm impressed at the MCU's long-form storytelling, a sort of modern reinvention of the old serial films that people like George Lucas grew up on, and I'm on board, man. I'm picking up what they're putting down.
So of course following this classical rhetorical device of listing my franchise-appropriate geek bona fides, I will follow up with how disappointed I was with Spider-Man: Far From Home. It wasn't terrible; it wasn't great. It was a standard middle-of-the-road MCU film, but almost cynical in its mediocrity, as though tempting audiences to even try and let their heroes - both super and corporate - fail.
Sometimes a film is nearing release amid a turmoil of negative hype, and as it crests to a swelling of negative criticism in the final days the movie releases to a thud at the box office - exactly as expected. And sometimes, your curiosity still gets the best of you, and you have to watch the train wreck for yourself. As an avid enthusiast for so-called "bad" films, I couldn't pass up an opportunity to watch the (presumably) last entry in Fox's rocky X-Men franchise that began so innocently, and triumphantly nearly twenty years ago. The series was a owed a small debt as well; I've seen every entry in the theatre and I wouldn't allow some nasty reviews to deter me from completing the saga: it was the least I could do for the franchise that ultimately opened the door for our modern superhero blockbuster films.
It nearly bears repeating, that expectations into a film hold a lot of sway over opinions of the film (least for me). So in this case, my expectations are pretty low. Like, VERY low. With that, I may just enjoy the film for what it is.
John Carpenter. When you absolutely, positively have to scare every last bubble-gum chewer in the room, accept no substitute. Some people live with no regrets; regretting stuff is pretty much all I do. With regards to my video library, one of my current regrets is the lack of John Carpenter films, which I've started to remedy with my recent acquisition of Prince of Darkness, an integral entry in his self-described "Apocalypse Trilogy" alongside The Thing and In The Mouth of Madness. In this company, Prince of Darkness is the weakest entry, but it's also a great entry. Any time you can get Donald Pleasence, Victor Wong, Dennis Dun, and Alice Cooper in the same film about an ultimate evil force trying to bring about the end of days, you can't go wrong.
My fascination with Japanese culture has its roots firmly planted in my passion for video games and Godzilla; from the first moments in the mid-eighties when I saw the Nintendo system in action, and then held the rectangular controller in my hand, a curiosity and admiration planted itself within my mind. It wasn't just the games themselves, but the origin of these works and how they came to be. My parents would spoil me on a monthly basis with a plethora of video game related magazines, and within those tomes, I would read about the latest title causing an uproar in Japan, while we had to wait for our North American release of said game later on.
We had a hand-me-down black and white television with a Betamax player connected in the basement's rec room while the colour set and VHS player were relegated to my parents living room domain. Maybe it was just availability, or an interest my father had, but we had amassed a collection of Betamax movies, both purchased and recorded off televisions, with a strong focus on Godzilla films. The syncronization in English dialogue with Japanese actors was incredibly fascinating; even being so young with no concept of a foreign film, I knew these movies came from parts of the world that I did not know about or understand, but I loved this place nonetheless.
For whatever reasons, call it fate, call it karma, call it creative bankruptcy, I believe everything happens for a reason. I believe that we were destined to get a Ghostbusters remake. It's a real shame that the dialogue around the Ghostbusters remake released in 2016 was tainted by misogyny and general vitriol from armchair critics and trogloditic neckbeards that dwell in the deepest, dankest corners of the interwebs, because it was a genuinely mediocre summer blockbuster that in most other universes probably would have have been the start of a movie franchise. Or at least, some more marketable merchandise that would have helped grease the wheels for all those involved for a little longer.
I remember being pretty sour on the general concept of a remake of the 1984 cult classic Ghostbusters. Admittedly, it has to do at least in part with the fact that this was a beloved film from my childhood. I grew up watching Ghostbusters and Ghostbusters II as well as the animated The Real Ghostbusters. To this day, I will still sometimes find myself randomly singing quietly to myself or in my head the Ghostbusters theme song, or the rap song from the end of Ghostbusters II, a movie from a more civilized time when every film got the pop-rap song it deserved to play during its end credits. (Too hot to handle, too cold to hold...)
For those of us with our fingers on the pulse (and not far from the pulse and straight up somewhere very uncomfortable (no, not the back of a Volkswagen)), news of a teaser trailer for the upcoming Star Wars film was not entirely unanticipated. This past week in Chicago, Star Wars Celebration was underway, an annual expo dedicated to all things Star Wars related. With the end of the Skywalker saga slated for release in December of this year, this is prime time for the release of updates, teasers, and various other miscellaneous info to start dropping for one of the most highly anticipated films of... let me check again... ah yes, ever.
It’s entirely possible that I don’t really understand Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. Upon seeing the movie in theatres a few short years ago, I felt indifference. Sure, there were beasts. Yes, they appeared fantastic. But I didn’t really understand why we were focusing on them so much, in a film where the plot didn’t seem to necessarily revolve around them. Knowing that this was the first in an ambitious series of movies set in the Harry Potter Wizarding World, I could chalk up my confusion to a few things: