Review: The Human Centipede (First Sequence)

Just because you have a good idea doesn't mean you can make it interesting.

I have to be honest with you, I cannot accurately review The Human Centipede without spoiling it. You need to know exactly how ridiculous this all is. That was your warning.

I just want to say that I really dig Tom Six's idea. The horror of someone actually sewing three people together, anus to mouth, and connecting them by one digestive system is truly terrifying. As sick as it sounds, you have to admit it's different and interesting. If this project had fallen into the hands of say, Eli Roth or Wes Craven, we would've had a truly terrifying film. But instead, we get something that has more plot holes then the centipede has legs. I'm going to illustrate said plot holes with parenthesis.

Two pretty (token) American Tourists Lindsay (Ashley C. Williams) and Jenny (Ashlynn Yennie) are enjoying their European vacation. They are currently in Germany and are searching for a Night club. (in the middle of nowhere) Of course, they get lost in the forest and their tire blows out. After unsuccessfully trying to flag down other drivers and have no cell reception, they get out to walk. Jenny remarks that she doesn't want to walk because she's wearing shorts and heels, not because it's dark, creepy, and stormy. Because she's in SHORTS and HEELS. The eventually fall upon the home of Dr. Heiter, (Dieter Laser) who after staring at them like a pedophile lets them in.

This is where the mistakes start. Creepy old guy offers them drinks, they accept. (but don't watch him pour the drinks, otherwise they'd notice the ruffies he drops in them) They ask HIM to make the phone call to the "car dealer place" (he fakes it, of course) Soon enough our poor girls end up in his basement tied to hospital beds. A Japanese man, Katsuro, (Akihiro Kitamara) soon joins them. I'm pretty sure they never mention his name in the film, but that's what he's listed as. Dr. Heiter (The best doctor in the world at separating Siamese Twins! Because that's how you should always introduce yourself) thoroughly explains what he's going to do to his patients (complete with PowerPoint presentation) He's already done this to his dogs who have died. We get a shot of their grave reading "My Sweet 3 Dog" many times in the film. While he's putting them under so that he can break their knees (so they can't stand up while sewed together, not that they could even if they tried) and pull out their teeth, Lindsay breaks lose. (Easily, I might add. If it was so easy to do that I don't know why she didn't do it immediately when she woke up.) There's also a scene where she falls into his pool, and Dr. Heiter stands above her with a tranq gun waiting for her to come up for air. (Though knowing what was in store for her, even knowing she will be the middle piece, she still comes up for air. I would've just drowned myself. Easy way out)

He gets her, and eventually completes the surgery in his basement. (Dr Heiter must also have super human strength, because he some how gets the Centipede OFF of the Table and takes it UP the stairs.) They wake up, freak out, Katsuro is at the front, screaming away in Japanese. Dr Heiter is pleased. He tries to teach them fetch, eventually feeds them, (although as sick as that should've been, the fact that the girls are making the same noises throughout the entire film really didn't set that scene apart from the others) and beats them when they try to escape. They are all crawling around just fine, which is peculiar since he broke their kneecaps. After a few days two Policemen show up at his door because someone (who, I don't know, he lives in the middle of nowhere) claimed to have heard an American woman scream. (Yep, they can tell the nationality from the screams.) Dr. Heiter essentially gives himself away and the suspicious Policemen leave, The Centipede knows someone is there, so they execute their great escape. They stab Dr Heiter with a scalpel (but they don't kill him?!) and in a truly hard scene to watch, climb up the stairs. Once they make it, and Dr Heiter has caught up with them Katsuro decides that right now would be the perfect time to commit suicide because he's been a "bad person." (nice timing, when you know you might be close to being saved, you also could've done this earlier. Like jumping in that damn indoor pool or something.) Jenny (the tail end) is suffering from an infection and kicks the bucket as well, leaving poor Lindsay stuck in the middle. The Policemen (after obtaining the fastest search warrant ever) return and come into the house. Dr Heiter hides, one of the cops actually sees Lindsay. (and doesn't call for backup) Dr. Heiter shoots his partner, he runs to help only to get shot in the arm/chest. He kills Dr. Heiter, and even though he's still moving on his own (he doesn't call for backup/help) and falls right into that damn pool! The movie ends, We don't know if back up ever came, we don't know if Lindsay was saved, I also don't know how there is going to be a sequel if Dr. Heiter got shot in the head. (Although they could go the Saw route and have a flashback or an apprentice)

That was long, wasn't it?  I should point out that the dialogue in this movie is ridiculous, and is even more prominent because of the subtitles. "Oh shit! I have to shit!" touching. The editing is absolutely terrible, The shots don't fade away, they abruptly cut into each other. The photo of the "sweet 3 dog" looks like it was made on Microsoft Paint. The acting is atrocious, None of the girls' conversations seemed natural, the screaming was over the top, the only bit that felt real to me was them holding each other's hands when they woke up as the Centipede. As I pointed out before, they sound the same throughout the entire film, so when something more grotesque is implied, it doesn't make it more effective. Most of the gore is off screen and left up to your imagination, but when the actors don't really help you out, what's left to imagine?

It's not even campy horror fun, it's just bad. It's also disappointing because it seemed like such a fresh idea. I really hope this isn't the only film on these actor's credentials.

Recommended: No

Grade: F

Memorable Quote: "What is this!?" - Everyone in the film asks this more than once. I asked myself too.

DVD Review: The Messenger

Where the hell was Ben Foster's Oscar nomination?

I think that's a logical question to ask after viewing this film. How was he NOT nominated? Lead Actor wasn't that tight of a race last year.

The Messenger follows Staff Sergeant Montgomery (Foster) has he nears the end of his enlistment. He's a war hero, still suffering from the effects and he's assigned to the duty of notifying the Next of Kin when soldiers go missing or die. It's a tough job, and Captain Stone (Woody Harrelson) is showing him the ropes. The duties are simple, don't touch them, don't comfort them, tell them what they need to be told, then leave. Montgomery ends up getting too close to Olivia (Samantha Morton) a recently widowed woman that takes the news of her husband's death far better then the other characters we see in the film.

One thing that really stuck out to me in this film was the angry rock music that Montgomery always had playing. It fit with his personality so well and I appreciated how well it was incorporated into the film. Foster (like I said before) gives a fantastic performance, he's always been a very talented actor. Albeit a very underrated one. (Check him out in Alpha Dog) Harrelson also gives a great performance and very much deserved his Oscar nom. The tone of the film is dark, but it's the reality we live in. These Soldiers have a very hard job of notifying the NOK and we just get a glimpse of what their every day life entails. While there's a bit of humor sprinkled in here and there, it sends a powerful message.

Recommended: Yes

Grade: A

Memorable Quote: "Yankee Doodle went to town riding on a pony..sorry, you're husband is dead." - Captain Stone (Woody Harrelson)

Review: Love and Other Drugs

Slightly different label, same old medicine.

Love and Other Drugs is a romantic drama/comedy that disguises itself as something different. They want you to look past those rom com cliches (and oh, there are a few) and see the performances.

Jamie (Jake Gyllenhaal) is a womanizer who gets a job as a prescription medicine salesman. He woos nearly every woman in sight while he's shilling Zoloft. (and later Viagra) Eventually he meets Maggie, (Anne Hathaway) a free spirited artist who happens to have stage 1 Parkinson's disease. Neither of them want a relationship, they just want the sex. They start out that way, but it eventually forms into something different.

The film's main marketing campaign was that this film is "raunchy." There are a few nude scenes with our leads and some off color jokes, but I didn't think this film was nearly as raunchy as they made it sound. It suffers from the same old formula used in many other romantic films, ie: friends with benefits that turns into something more. Slow, cheesy music at the most vulnerable of scenes. That annoying brother that's simply there for comic relief. Someone is sick, could they be dying? It also thrives on making those situations watchable. Gyllenhaal and Hathaway give excellent performances, they have tons of chemistry and really make you feel for their characters. They take all of the simplicity of a romantic comedy and add a few layers. I was disappointed in the film, because I was expecting more, but I didn't hate it. It's worth seeing if your a fan of Gyllenhaal and Hathaway.

Recommended: Yes

Grade: C+

Memorable Quote: "Oh, that's just a spider bite." - Dr. Knight (Frank Azaria)

Indie Gems: The Greatest

Over-acting by the adult leads can't steal the heart of the story from the teen actors.

"The Greatest." That's how Rose (Carey Mulligan) describes her recent encounter with Bennett. (Aaron Johnson) Not too long after this Rose and Bennett are in an accident which ultimately claims his life. Rose finds out she is pregnant and wants to include Bennett's family in her baby's life. Parents Allen (Pierce Brosnan) and Grace (Susan Sarandon) are coping in different ways. Allen refuses to talk about it, Grace is dead set on speaking with Jordon (Michael Shannon) who was the last person to speak to her son while he was alive, before his own injuries put him into a coma. Bennett's younger but obviously older brother Ryan (Johnny Simmons) copes by getting high and attending a support group for people who have lost loved ones.

Rose is a curious girl and Mulligan plays her with elegance and heart. She's in a tough situation and tries to make the best of it. The flashback scenes of how Rose and Bennett met are my favorite. Their relationship is different, but interesting. My main problem with this film was how horribly out of place Sarandon and Brosnan felt. The tone was solemn, but they went over the top so much that I wish more of the film was dedicated to the beginning of Rose and Bennett's relationship. Side stories involving Ryan and a girl he meets in his counseling and Jordon's eventual confession of what really happened the night of the accident are far more interesting but take a back seat to Allen and Grace's feelings. It's not that it wasn't believable, that's exactly how I would expect parents to act after losing a child. It just felt really forced compared to the rest of the film.

Still, it's a beautiful little film with a score that fits. Mulligan and Johnson put on great American accents and show real chemistry in their scenes together. The film is worth watching just for them.

Recommended: Yes

Grade: C+

Memorable Quote: "That wasn't fair, Ryan. I like you." - Rose (Carey Mulligan)

Review: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part I

 The beginning of the End.

Dumbledore is dead and Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) and his Death Eaters have taken over the Ministry of Magic. Voldemort's main concern is killing Harry Potter. (Daniel Radcliffe) Harry and his close friends, Ron, (Rupert Grint) and Hermione (Emma Watson) skip their last year of school at Hogwarts and embark on a search to find Voldemort's remaining Horcruxes, which are objects that he has hidden bits of his soul in so he avoid death. They also learn about The Deathly Hallows, which include the Elder Wand, (the most powerful wand in the world) The Resurrection Stone (brings people back to life) and the Cloak of Invisibility (self-explanatory) and how important they become.

Being the Potter fanatic that I am, I have to say I am SO pleased with how Part I was handled. Deathly Hallows was by far the most detailed book and required the split given to the movies to include all that. I would've preferred a 5 hour flick with an intermission, but that's just me. The Cinematography in the film was lovely, even better than it was in The Half Blood Prince. (Which got an Oscar nom) We've watched our trio of characters grow up in front of our eyes, and we've watched them all grow into fine actors as well. Grint is still the strongest, with screenwriter Steve Kloves finally pulling his head out of his ass and giving Ron something more to do then look scared and provide comic relief. He really is the heart and soul of this group. Radcliffe provided a lot of depth with the complicated hero that is Harry Potter and even Emma Watson, who I have been quite critical of over the years showed some emotion. The film followed the book closely, to me the film felt fast paced compared to the book, but movie goers who have not read the book might feel that the pacing is quite slow. There were a few things added into the film that were not in the book. Hermione erasing her parent's memories of her proved to be a touching addition, but a scene of Harry and Hermione dancing together to ease the tension of Ron leaving felt silly and out of place.

The only part of the film that I actually thought didn't work was Ron's nightmares before he destroyed the locket, the CGI was cheesey and horribly done and it lacked Harry's emotional talk that he gives Ron afterwards. The ending felt incomplete, but I expected it to. I thought the point where they split the film really builds towards the epic finale. They ended on a sad note, one of the most emotional parts in the book and gets us ready for the nonstop action that's going to take place in Part II. Deathly Hallows is the best Potter film yet, and I can't wait to see the rest.

In fact, I want to go and see this again immediately.

Recommended: Yes

Grade: A

Memorable Quote: "Such a beautiful place, to be here with friends." - Dobby

Did it live up to my 10 Things I want from Deathly Hallows I did back in may? Let's see. (Pertaining to part I, of course)

1) Opening Sequence - YES! Hedwig's death was different in the film than it was in the book, but I thought the way they did it in the movie made it even more emotional. It was exactly how I pictured it in the book. It had action, light humor, and ultimately a sad ending.

2) Ron/Hermione - Yes, mostly. I loved the hints they gave at Ron and Hermione's relationship in the film. Kloves (I don't blame director David Yates, I blame the screenwriter) has always tried to hint at Harry and Hermione in my opinion, and while he still sort of does that here it's mostly focused on Ron and Hermione. I liked that, keep doing that, DON'T mess up their kiss in Part II.

3) There's no such thing as too much Alan Rickman - He was only in one scene in this film, his part is much bigger in Part II. But I appreciated his one scene, it really showed Snape's predicament, his emotions were very evident. I can't wait to see more.

4) There Will Be Blood - There was, hooray for PG-13 ratings!

5) Can 3D just f**k off, please? - YES!! It did, 3D would've added absolutely NOTHING to this movie. It's not an "in your face" flick. Let's just hope they leave 3D off of the finale.

6) The split - I thought it worked, I couldn't have thought of a better place. I suggested that the split happen when they are in the Lovegood house, yet it happened after they escaped Malfoy Manor. That worked better, I liked where they split it.

7) House Elves - Dobby and Kreacher were there, but this is more for Part II

8) The Half Blood Prince - I think the explanation will probably be in Part II. Watching Deathly Hallows really puts in perspective how bad they adapted HBP. Bill Weasley's injury and "splinching" were thoroughly explained in HBP, they were just sort of passed over in DH.

9) Tone Down Emma Watson - Done. I actually enjoyed her performance. Her eyebrows weren't going nuts and she's mastered more facial expressions than just "pissed." I approve.

10) Godric's Hallow - YES, just as creepy as I pictured it in the book. LOVED that sequence in the film.

Review: Megamind

Megamind is no Dragon

Megamind (Will Ferrell) is a super villain who's entire life has revolved around trying to get the best of Metro Man. (Brad Pitt) His plots always get thwarted. He kidnaps popular reporter Roxanne Ritchi (Tina Fey) all the time, and Metro Man gets her back. Finally Megamind actually get's the best of Metro Man, and takes over Metro City. (which he pronounces to rhyme with "atrocity") Now he feels incomplete. What good is a super villain without a hero to fight? He and his Minion (David Cross) attempt to create a new hero for him to duel.

When I was leaving the theater, I heard a lot of people say Megamind was too much like Despicable Me. They both revolved around super vvillains that have a change of heart. Megamind starts off really funny, then gets incredibly boring. Towards the end of the film it regains it's hilarity. That's the biggest problem with Megamind. While it's got a sweet story and some good laughs, it just feels like it's missing something. It doesn't pull the heart strings like Dreamwork's earlier children's flick, How To Train Your Dragon. The animation is quite good, but the 3D is practically pointless. I enjoyed the voice work of Ferrell, Fey, Pitt and Cross, though Jonah Hill is getting quite old. Bottom line is, the film has it's laughs, (Megamind constantly pronouncing simple words wrong never got old) it's great for families, but it drags in the middle. You can't help but leave the theater thinking it lacked a little heart.

Recommended: Yes

Grade: B-

Memorable Quote" "Oh Minion, stop being so dramatic!" - Megamind (Will Ferrell)

It's Leonardo DiCaprio's Birthday!

Leonardo DiCaprio is hands down one of the best actors of our generation. 40 years from now, people are going to be talking about Leo the same way we talk about Clint Eastwood, Robert DuVall and Paul Newman. He's already a classic. It took me awhile to warm up to DiCaprio. I didn't fall into the "he's so dreamy!" group when he was a teen actor. While everyone else was drooling over his performances in Titanic and Romeo and Juliet I was impressed with his work in Basketball Diaries and What's Eating Gilbert Grape. His acting caught my attention before his looks did.

Now here's my rundown. I had to incorporate "runner ups" because I realized I just like way too much of his stuff. Someone give this guy an Oscar already!

My Favorite Film: The Departed It's really, REALLY hard to pick a favorite Leo film. I love Gangs of New York, but that's mostly because of Daniel Day-Lewis. I love Blood Diamond, but that's mostly for Djimon Hounsou. I went with The Departed because that film was the whole package to me. I hate heist/mob films. While Departed was much more than that the team of DiCaprio and Scorcese made me love something that I didn't expect to love. He was fantastic in it, and what happens to his character at the end of the film still blows my mind. Runner up: The Aviator

My Least Favorite Film: The Beach This film was boring as hell, plain and simple. I like to pretend Leo and Danny Boyle never made this. Runner Up: The Man in the Iron Mask

Most Bizarre/Fun/Random: Inception It's almost like this category was designed for the mind f**k that is Inception. I sill love this film for everything it is. It's also my only A+ review so far this year. Great performance from Leo, and pretty much my dream cast and director. You can't go wrong. Runner Up: Shutter Island

Most Underrated: What's Eating Gilbert Grape When people talk about all the great things Leo's done, most cases start with The Basketball Diaries and move forward. Or they'll go with his stint on Growing Pains. Sure Grape is mostly about Johnny Depp, but DiCaprio owned every scene he was in. I remember watching this and thinking "Ok, this guy is so much more than the hot guy from Titanic." I'm actually glad I saw some of his other films first before I caught this one. It's what drew me in when I originally had doubts. Runner Up: This Boy's Life

Film To See: Body of Lies? It didn't get the best reviews, but going through his list it's the only film of his that I haven't seen. I suppose I haven't seen The Quick and The Dead yet either. Opinions?

Review: Due Date

The adventures of two unlikeable characters

Did you see the trailers for this movie? Then you saw the majority of the funny bits.

'Due Date' follows father to be Peter (Robert Downey Jr.) and his quest to get home to his pregnant wife, Sarah. (Michelle Monaghan) A chance run in with Ethan Tremblay (Zach Galifianakis) winds up with both of them on the no fly list and driving from Atlanta, GA to Los Angelos, CA with only a few days before Sarah's scheduled C section. Shenanigans ensues.

I'll admit, there's some really, really funny parts in this film, but the rest is so over the top and thrown together it feels redundant. Robert Downey Jr is a fine actor, but I felt like he had to carry this entire film because Galifianakis wasn't holding up his end of the deal. He's a funny guy, check out his stand up, but I honestly felt that Downey Jr was the superior comic in this film.

It's not the actors' faults. It's the script. Director Todd Phillips got away with the unrealistic, over-the-top antics in 'The Hangover' but his comedy is not as consistent with this. Not to mention the characters in 'The Hangover' were likeable. To keep it simple, Peter is a dick and Ethan is a moron.

Recommended: Yes/No. It's not a great film, but there's some worth while bits.

Grade: C

Memorable Quote: "Your dog! Your dog is doing it too!" - Peter (Robert Downey Jr.)

5 Favorite Films not in the English Language

I appreciate all kinds of movies. Today, I decided to pay tribute to a few of my favorite films that aren't in my native English language.

1) Pan's Labyrinth: Whenever I think of Guillermo del Toro the first thing that comes to mind is fabulous art direction. His films always have a distinct look to them, they're beautiful and bizarre. Pan's Labyrinth is no different. Taking place in fascist Spain a young girl escapes her cruel stepfather in a elaborate fantasy world. It's anything but a fairy tale, young Ofeila has to complete tasks that make her question right and wrong. I loved the look and the dark feel of this film. It's got everything a good film needs, plus a hell of a performance from young Ivana Baquero.

2) Amélie: This film is like a giant warm fuzzy. It was so warm and so endearing that it's probably one of the best love stories of all time. Amélie is a peculiar young woman who marches to the beat of her own drum. We watch her go about her life and eventually find love. French in general is a beautiful language and I think it's one of the things that makes this film so lovely. Audrey Tautou is enchanting to say the lease.

3) Let The Right One In: We make our way to wintery Sweden, we find a young boy who's being bullied at school and his interested new neighbor. Let The Right One In is charming and dark all at the same time. It's a cute tale of your first love..if your first love involved drinking blood to live. This was shot before the "Vampire craze" hit the U.S. I don't recall it ever referring to Eli as a vampire by specifically. It also had an interesting twist to it's love story, something I thought that made it all the more sweet.

4) Audition: Japanese horror films it is! The Japanese (and Italian) for that matter know how to make horror films. This film in particular is interesting because of all the hype. You've heard Horror lovers like Eli Roth cite this as one of their favorites, so you automatically know something screwed up is going to happen. That's what makes this film so great. A widower attends a special audition, one that will find him a new wife. He becomes fascinated with Asami Yamazaki, but she's hardly who she seems. The film has a perfect flow of suspense (and the occasional gross out moment) all up until the final 20 minutes when the big act of brutality takes place. Normally I would be angry at a film that saves everything for last, but this really worked in it's favor. It's not the goriest film on the planet, but it sure gets it's point across.

5) Life is Beautiful: It's pretty amazing to think that someone can take something as depressing as the Holocaust and turn it into something touching. Roberto Benigi stars as a man who tries to disguise his time in a concentration camp as a game for his young son. He pretends it's all a contest to shield him from the horrors of reality. I thought this was a bold move on the film maker's parts. They could've ended up offending thousands but instead touched them. Benigi's collection of his Best Foreign Film Oscar was pretty amusing as well. Instead of walking down the aisle he climbed over the seats, then when he won Best Actor later on in the show he said that he used up all his English on his last speech.

Honorable Mention: (as always)

The Lives of Others - Being fluent in German it was hard to single out films when I've seen so many. I enjoyed this one so much. (and won quite a few bets thanks to it's Oscar win) The fact that star Ulrich Mühe died of cancer shortly after this film's release is truly sad. This is German cinema at it's best.

Water Lilies - Only the French could get away with this coming of age film. I first caught the end of it on IFC and was determined to find out how this film got where it did. I'm glad I got to watch it start to finish.

4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days - A film tackling back alley abortions is going to have a lot of critics. I thought this Romanian film was an intense character study of how one student's immaturity and her friend's faithfulness could be tested.

Y Tu mama tambien - Alfonso Cuaron at his best.