Archive for Vampire


Posted in Drama, Fantasy with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 11/26/2009 by joycereview

The second film installment of Stephenie Meyer’s grotesquely popular vampire series has certainly raised the bar from it’s previous and highly-mediocre (many say “dreadful”) first film.  Catherine Hardwicke (Lords of Dogtown, The Nativity Story) is out of the director’s chair for this one, and is replaced by the slightly-more-polished, Chris Weitz (About A Boy, The Golden Compass)… why?… supposedly because of “time constraints”, but my inner opinion poll says otherwise.  Critics and vampire fanatics are, again, having a field day with the emergence of New Moon.

A money machine – New Moon placed third on the all-time domestic chart, bested only by Spider-Man 3 ($151.1 million in 2007) and The Dark Knight ($158.4 million in 2008).  It’s amazing that, with the amount of money that Twilight is pulling in [$69.6 million in the opening weekend (Twilight) compared to $142.8 for New Moon], the studios couldn’t find a more seasoned director, however, the studio’s choice in Chris Weitz turns out to be a wise one.

After being briefed the story by my girlfriend (who has read the Twilight Series) I had the gut feeling that I’d hold this particular film in higher esteem.  I consider myself wildly romantic and have no problem sitting down and watching a well-done love story (i.e. The Notebook, Sleepless in Seattle).  I had, however, become quite tiresome of the Edward and Bella’s “You’re my life… You are my soul” talk.  Then they attempt at a kiss… sometimes convulsing with pleasure and, per example (in the New Moon), performing what I call “The makes-me-giggle kiss of whimpering-ecstasy.” (giggles continue just thinking about it)

New Moon limits the amount of quasi-kanoodling and vomitous lubby-love-talk by Edward (Robert Pattinson) proclaiming to Bella (Kristen Stewart) that they “Can never see each other again.”  Ex-squeeze me? Baking Powder?  Bella then drops into a mad, heroin-junkie-like depression, that is, until she finds out that she can can connect with Edward by walking towards the dark edge of death (i.e. motorcycles, ocean-side cliffs, etc.).  And then comes the fangirl moment, when native american-werewolf Jacob (Taylor Lautner) strips off his shirt in stripper-fashion to blot Bella’s motorcycle injury (let’s not go even go there!).  It’s all doggy-style from then on, until a misunderstanding leads Edward to think that Bella is dead.  And the rest… you’ll have to see for yourself.

The acting is much improved and has the added stardom of Michael Sheen (Frost/Nixon) as Aro of the Volturi and Dakota Fanning (Man on Fire, Push) as Jane, the sadistic and tele-destructive dark vampress.  With Chris Weitz at the helm, the film is expertly paced with the script, and this enables his actors to take control by acting (not by drowning the performances with unneeded, swirling camera shots).  The CGI of the werewolves still leaves the techno-realist in me wanting more wolf, less animation, but perhaps, we are just not there yet.  How can they make a 40-ton King Kong that would make Diane Fossey pee in her pants, but we can’t do the same for wolves?  Maybe they just hooked up with the people that did the Coca-Cola polar bear/penquin commercials and said “They will be fine.”  Still enjoyable, but if you are wanting me to believe in werewolves, you’ve got to do better than that.

There are two shots that I particularly liked – the first being an encircling shot of heartbroken Bella as she sits in her chair, each rotation giving rise to a change of season.  And two (where the CGI shines), on observing a painting of the Volturi (the vampire equivalent of high priest councel-ruling class) the facet and crosshatch lines of the paint smooth as the camera lens zooms, becoming as a real-time window into the Volturi life.

The truth of the matter is that New Moon didn’t need to do much to outdo its predecessor.  I think we all realized that.  Critics will undoubtedly scream that the story is diving away from its source; that being the relationship between Edward and Bella.  But even the critics must not take these events, characters and dialogue too seriously….  For it seems that, some of the its flaws, are designed to help keep it as authentically real as possible.  Because only a character like Bella can say:

(Bella to Jacob) : You’re so warm! You’re like your own sun.

We forgive her every oddity and we should, because despite some pretty wack lines, Stewart carries the movie on her shoulders.  And with a red-headed and revenge-driven vampire still on her tracks, and my girlfriend’s assurance of “more Dakota Fanning to come”… I’m sure to be another warm body in the theater seat for film number trois.

Please give your thoughts on New Moon below!  I’m eagerly awaiting my feeding… of fresh comments.  Cheers.

For those wanting to see the review for Twilight, click here.

* IMPORTANT NOTE: This blog post has been, undeniably, my most popular one.  This is, obviously, no thanks to my writing talents but to the huge popularity of the movie itself.  Because this review is generating soooo much traffic, I’d like to use this time (while I still have you) to direct you to our Facebook Fan Page.  Get instant updates and be a part of our discussion forums. [CLICK HERE]   We’d love to have you!

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Posted in Drama, Fantasy, Horror with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on 11/23/2009 by joycereview

The Hunger, a film by Tony Scott (Man On Fire, The Taking of Pelham 123) is a vampiric work of art that is, in many ways, a few pints [of blood. (enter maniacal laughter here)] away from a masterpiece.  Certainly for Mr. Scott, this film is one of his most creative and interesting pieces and often gets overlooked due to the Hollywood appeal of  his other films like: Top Gun, Days of Thunder, Crimson Tide and Deja Vu.  Tony Scott has an obvious penchant for creating stylized, and hard-hitting action, but in The Hunger, we see a softer, less commercial, and certainly more seductive quality.  This, of course, gives us artists something to “sink our teeth into.”

The film begins in hard-rocking goth fashion, with the song “Bela Legosi’s Dead”* by the English band Bauhaus, and feature’s a stunningly lascivious nightcap between our two vampires (John and Miriam) and their victims (classically 1980’s with leather and “flock of seagulls” hair).  Miriam (Catherine Deneuve) is a 2,000 year old vampire of Egyptian origins whose centuries-old relationship with companion John (David Bowie) is on decline.  Several hundred years after Miriam’s love-bite, John comes down with a condition of rapid aging and, as a race to a cure, seeks out Dr. Sarah Roberts (Susan Sarandon), a specialist in premature aging.  After John withers to nothing, Miriam finds a new partner in Ms. Roberts, but is Miriam’s effort in vein/vain?

Arguably one of the most visual and stylistic pieces in vampiric film history, The Hunger is the byproduct of an ingenious formula.  The acting is superb, Catherine Deneuve, “the grande dame” of french cinema is ravishingly elegant and mysterious, and each scene is highly polished in the way only a young Tony Scott knows how.

That’s one of the beauties of youth – that a young director’s (39) first feature film hold with it a vibrant, adroitly creative energy (like Sam Mendes’ debut, American Beauty).  However, to many (including myself) the plot begins to slacken once Bowie’s character is set to rest.  In a short time, we are able to witness and appreciate John’s joie de vivre and passionate companionship with Miriam.  John’s departure from the film seems only to set the stage for the sherry-influenced lesbian seduction which, although quite smoldering (even in 2009 standards) becomes one of the film’s last memorable parts.

You’ll be back.  When the hunger knows no reason! And then you’ll need to feed, and you’ll need me to show you how!

The Hunger is a visually-stunning, but often highly-underrated film that is a must-see for fans of vampire movies and films that happen to encapsulate the visual stylings of its time.  However, for most audiences (especially the ‘philistine-types’ [you know who you are] with little appreciation for the talents of Deneuve, Bowie and Sarandon) the movie will be amorpheus (this is not a reference to The Matrix) and will drag at parts.  I found it to be intriguing, sometimes chilling, and moreover, quite “to die for.”

Have a happy Fangs-giving everybody!

Stay tuned Wednesday night, when I unleash the review for part deux of the Twilight Series, New Moon.

*The reference and use of the song “Bela Legosi’s Dead” is notable, as Bela Legosi, the Hungarian actor that became the original Dracula in the 1931 classic.


Posted in Drama, Fantasy, Foreign with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 11/18/2009 by joycereview

Let The Right One In (Låt den rätte komma in), a suggested viewing by another film critic, completely got my blood flowing (much unlike the teeny-bopper Twilight series).

The film opens with the reflection of a young, towheaded, swedish boy, Oskar (Kare Hedebrant), as he somberly looks out his window to the dark, snow-laden ground below.  We learn that he has much to be melancholy about – His parents are divorced, has no friends, and he is constantly tormented by a gang of bullies at school.  One day he meets a 12-year old (more or less) girl (although she says she “isn’t a girl”) named Eli (Lina Leandersson) that doesn’t think too much of the cold and has a funny smell about her.  As mysterious murders plague the town (a “girl” has got to eat!), Eli and Oskar become friends, learn Morse Code together and she helps him find the courage to stand up for himself.

What I enjoyed most about this film was the story.  To often we, this incubus-fantasizing-society, fixate on the vampire’s religious alienation and lecherous associations of sexuality and not necessarily on the messy reality of what happens during “meal time.”  In the movie, Interview with a Vampire, feeding was clean, as if their incisors were slurpy-straws.  How would this type of forced killing feel to a young person – even one that has been a young person for a long time?

We don’t think too much of loneliness and isolation with kids that are able to go to high school and later, conduct jobs (except on days of sunlight) like the characters in Twilight [who oddly enough aren’t expelled for skipping too many days].  But if we ask ourselves, “How would it affect me if I had no one?  How might I look at killing (if I’ve always been a vampire)?”  The film shows us that there is a humanistic compulsion that resides deep within the pale skin of Eli; that she doesn’t want to spend eternity alone.

The second question that arise is one that I am glad this movie brought out.  At one point in my life I wanted to try and become a vegetarian.  Time and time again I would try and fail.  In a conversation with a vegetarian friend of mine, he said, “most people these days, if personally killing a cow all by yourself , would turn away from meat.”  Meat is murder*.

But alas, we are animalistic in nature and designed for the hunt.  Eli feels that way about what she must do to survive.  There is little (if any) remorse for the dead.  The world is her dinner plate and we are but tender, succulent morsels on it.  Of the people that walk, cattle-like, in the snowy landscape, it is not surprising that she desires one as a “pet.”

Staying to the Joyce Review code of “no spoilers,” is hard with this one because, as a vampire film that quickly became my favorite vampire film, I have a vampire’s compulsion to tell the story to everyone I see and talk with.  One thing I will say is that I enjoyed the ending a great deal and I plan on reading John Ajvide Lindqvist’s book of the same title.  I cannot say enough that, if you are a fan of vampire films, you are bound to enjoy this one.

Watch before they give it a Hollywood remake – which I hear is already in the making.

I leave you with the last words communicated in the film.  Figure it out if you can.

[In December, I’ll write in what it was (for those that are too lazy to figure it out on their own).

* dot * dash * dash * dot

* dot * dot * dash

* dot * dot * dot

* dot * dot * dot

Lines are open! ….

*In Swedish. [Enlish Subtitles]     114 minutes.

*Meat is Murder is a song by one of my favorite singers, Morrissey.  He’s a vegetarian and believes strongly in that eating meat is a vile thing. [don’t know if that had any significance or not].  The title of the book (and the movie) Let The Right One In was taken from Morrissey’s song “Let The Right One Slip In.”

*The Morse Code at the end of the movie spelled the letters P-U-S-S.  Stop right there you dirty-minded people… “puss” the Swedish word for “KISS.”  Awww… now isn’t that a sweet ending?


Posted in Drama, Fantasy with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 11/17/2009 by joycereview

Edward Cullen, the dreamboat vampire (from Stephenie Meyer’s novel adaptation of book one of the Twilight Saga), says that he can read thoughts; all except for Bella’s. Poppycock!

When I was in high school, I was fairly naive on the female cues of desire.  Edward Cullen has been in high school for 100 years and reads off the thoughts in the restaurant scene with great ease, “Money.  Sex.  Money.”  For some odd reason, he cannot pierce the blank stare of Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart).  Maybe it’s because of her blank expression or maybe because of her blank mind.  Clearly she wants Edward’s body.  It’s so obvious (I scoff).

I hope to one day have a daughter; one that will one day meet a boy that she grows to love.  However, the moment he says the lines, “I’ve killed people,” I’d hope that she’d have the good sense to leave him and contact the authorities.  But joking aside, Bella has some sort of romantic death-wish for Edward and want’s to “do the deed” with him, literally, if it kills her.  But “abstinence-boy” won’t let that happen.  It’s a push-pull relationship from the very beginning and it intrigues me to know just why Stephenie Meyer would write this of seemingly bright, introverted young girl.  Maybe if she was a sadistic, goth-girl I’d buy it, but not in this story.

If you want to watch a ridiculously-awesome film about young vampire love, watch Let The Right One In (Låt den rätte komma in. 2008)[review coming NEXT].  [available as Watch Instantly on NetFlix]  Not only does it depict a more realistic development of love, it gives a commonsensical perspective of the life of a vampire.  Because, let us be real a minute – two separate tribes of vampires AND werewolves cohabitating within such a small town as Forks, Washington?

What little knowledge I have of women (pardon my modesty) notwithstanding, it can never satisfy my curiosity towards the question, “Why do women (particularly in these modern times) relish in the thought of being relished?”  Men seem to think, if I’m only persistent… she will be mine.  When in truth, women seem to fantasize for the mysteriously-aloof, complex or troubled James Dean-types; even though they make some of the worst husbands.

Meanwhile back on the ranch…  we have several other problems.  The special effect choices disappointed me.  I got an instant Lee Majors (Six Million Dollar Man) flashback when I saw how the film depicted the vampire’s superhuman speed.  And when in the (direct) sunlight [emphasis on the “direct”], it comes off as if Edward was the result of some terrible glitter factory explosion.  But on the other hand, “Diamonds are a girl’s best friend,” so why wouldn’t Bella swoon?

Twilight, is likely to be a fan-favorite of teenage girls the world-over for years and years, but don’t look to me for an answer of “why.”  I’ll just chalk it up to biology, labido, our natural affinity for danger, and poor dating choices.

Here’s to a better sequel, in Twilight : New Moon.

Review coming this weekend!