The Spectacular Now

I had the opportunity to see the movie The Spectacular Now at the Roger Ebert film festival on April 20, 2013. I was simply amazed. Roger Ebert was on the nose when he described this film as showing young adults in a realistic manner. I was not, however, prepared for how real this movie felt.

The movie made me feel like a voyeur. I was looking into such private moments that I felt a part of the story. The camera shots were sometimes uncomfortably close. Despite my age I can still remember being a teenager. I remember how intense everything felt. This movie reminded the viewer of that intensity.

The lead character Sutter Keely is the life of the party. He is always living for the moment. He was rarely sober and struggled with his father being gone and his mother working all the time. After his girlfriend breaks up with him he does what he always does and gets drunk. He wakes up in the yard of an introverted girl named Aimee. They form an unlikely couple.

Somehow they both help each other confront the problems they have been avoiding for a lifetime  It is unclear if Sutter truly cares for Aimee or if he is just living for the moment. Throughout the movie the viewer is confronted with the concern that Sutter will end up hurting Aimee.

In addition I was concerned that Sutter was going to hurt himself? It is unclear if Sutter was more then just a drunk kid avoiding life. Sutter is a guy viewers have to care about but often wonder why. His mother reminds us that he has a big heart.

What happens in this movie is not as important as the way it makes the viewer feel. It makes you feel happy, sad, confused and young again. It is a reminder of the intensity of youth. It is also a reminder that coming of age is not an easy journey.

I didn’t get to sit through the question and answer session with Director James Ponsoldt and actress Shailene Woodley but appreciate there coming to Champaign. It was a wonderful night at the Virginia Theater and a spectacular movie. It was more than a Spectacular Now however since that movie will remain with me well into the future. It was the best movie I have seen thus far in 2013.

Scary Movie 5

One of the good things about this film was that I walked into the theater with very low expectations. As a result I enjoyed the film. I must admit I have been desperate for entertainment before. As a result I have seen more than one of the prior Scary Movie films. This was probably the best of the group.

Ashley Tisdale was perhaps the best reason for this film being a step above most of the others. Perhaps her years with Zac and Cody and in High School Musical gave her the ability to treat inane material seriously. What ever the reason she did a very good job making a silly movie watchable and at times laugh out loud funny.

I have not seen the movie Mama or Paranormal Activity so I might have missed some of the humor related to those films. The parts related to Evil Dead were right on target. They also made fun of Cabin in the Woods, Inception and The Black Swan. All and all the movie references were not bad.

Yes, these movies are geared a bit towards adolescent boys. The result is a lot of fart humor and crude sexual references. Actually there was only one fart related scene. Yes, I am ashamed to say it made me laugh.

I also had to laugh at the scene with Charlie Sheen and Lindsay Lohan. Most of it was in the television commercials but it was still mildly amusing. Lindsay must be more adversely impacted by her addiction than Charlie is by his. Charlie comes across as if he is enjoying himself while Ms. Lohan appears less motivated by her roll.

I certainly would not have gone to see this movie on a better movie weekend. That being said it was funny enough to have been worth seeing. So if you keep your expectations low it is a movie worth viewing.

Evil Dead

This weekend I went to see the movie Evil Dead. This was a remake of the 1981 classic horror film with a humorous side of the same name. Actually the new version is called Evil Dead skipping the word “the” in front. The original director Sam Raimi and the original star Bruce Campbell were producers in the new incarnation of the film. Sam Raimi was apparently too busy directing Oz the Great and Powerful to take the helm of this new incarnation.

I must say I ordinarily don’t like the idea of recreating a movie where the original was made in color and created during my lifetime. I would love to see Hollywood look into some truly original films based on new stories. Cocaine Zombies for instance would make a great film should Mr. Raimi be so inclined.

That being said I have to admit I truly enjoyed the movie. I did have to change seats once because of a teen, screen talking girl. I ordinarily do not believe in the death penalty but would make an exception for people who talk during movies. This is a common problem I have during the opening weekend of horror movies.

The opening seen of Evil Dead shows a father having to kill his own daughter who is possessed by a demon. This is a new scene not copied from the original. In the original they find a tape by a professor and/or anthropologist talking about an ancient society. Another fundamental difference is in the new movie they are going into the cabin to help one of the woman overcome a drug addiction. This was an interesting choice since they could attribute her odd behavior to drug withdrawal symptoms. Although, the true nature of her behavior is quickly discovered.

The overall feel of the movie is also different. The 1981 film is as much a comedy as a horror film. Bruce Campbell came across as sarcastic throughout. The incarnation is far more horror movie than comedy. The cabin in the original looked like the Ritz compared to the cabin in the new movie. The new movie was much darker in almost everyway.

Both movies did a good job of creating feelings of isolation and claustrophobia. The new movie however was even scarier. It felt dirty, I felt as though I should put Windex on the screen at times. It is also far more violent and disturbing. That being said I would certainly recommend this film. That is a recommendation for old fans of the original as well new fans who never saw the original. There are plenty of nods to the original hidden among the violence of the new film. The old car in front, the rape scene in the woods, the chain saw, the shotgun, as well as some of the camera angles all reference the original.

In honor of the passing of Roger Ebert I found a youtube video of Siskel & Ebert reviewing the original film in 1981. Mr. Siskel hated the movie claiming it was too violent to enjoy. Mr. Ebert was also not a big fan of the film but gave more credit to the creators for a film that was better than many teen slasher films at the time. If they thought the original was gruesome I wonder how they would have treated this one?