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Prometheus: a movie review

If you saw “Prometheus” and were let down, the link below delivers a few reasons why that could have been:

Click this if you want the movie spoiled or you’ve seen it already: Red Letter Media on YouTube

I gave it a charitable 7/10. I’m being generous, though you might twist my arm to a 6.75. Initially, when I just finished it, I liked it. But the more I thought about it, the bruises started to show. My 8 went to a 7 in the last third of the film. I did like it that the film was not paced like an action/fantasy, but more like a genuine sci-fi. I will likely continue to second guess my thoughts about how smart or not smart it was, but here are my thoughts right now.

I can understand people giving it a 6 or an 8, but anything higher or lower is too critical or too rewarding. There are problems on the most basic level of tension building and story-telling.

First the good: some amazing scenes are in here, and this is better than many films I’ve seen this year. It is the best shot Sci-Fi ever. Also, you don’t have to know or like the original Alien to enjoy this. But the trailer was so good, and I’m not a fan boy, and I still say this didn’t deliver how it “said” it would.

This movie was average at best, and the idiot writer from “LOST” the TV show should have never been hired to write this. It could have been legendary. It is forgettable. Beautifully rendered, but substantively illusive. The “LOST” screenwriter is not that smart, and delivered a faux-intellectual, psuedo-philosophical cheap gangbang.

The logic was weak, the likability of characters hollow, and general satisfaction was lacking. Very little was answered, and you can’t just say “well, there moght be a sequel.” F*** that argument. Give me a single good movie before you rope me into a long string of ’em I have to commit to just to get to the “real” ending. There were plot holes you couldn’t ignore, and simply put: while a few loose ends are great for sci-fi, too many leaves the audience mad and leaves the film directionless.

Thematically schizophrenic, “Prometheus” can honestly blame nearly all of its problems on the WRITING: direction, photography, special visual effects, costuming, make-up, and set design and acting where all great or better than great. The characters, motivations, and logic are all the writers fault. Ridley Scott, your biggest mistake was who you hired to write the screenplay. It is a movie that thinks it is brilliant while everyone watching knows it’s barely in its “Honors Classes.” It’s no genius.

Did not deliever on medium to medium-high expectations. More a thriller than a horror, not that it mattered to me, but it might to you. Just give me a good sci-fi. Please.
7/10
MH

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Personal Update: 4/17/12

So, hey kids! LOL

I don’t do many of these personal updates, but in the past few months I’ve received a few more “followers”, a steady amount of hits everyday, and I just wanted to say “Hi” and thank you for your interest.

I guess it is paying off to write about different forms of media and genre-types, because unless a blogger is really specialized in an area of expertise, I don’t like blogs that only do “classic books” or “action films” or “pop music.”

I find blogs to be a great way to share something very personal about your interests and thoughts with strangers, and it’s really fun and liberating for me. By posting such different things, I never know how things are going to be interpreted and I love the dialogue that somehow starts from a very little blurb, springing into a conversation between two or more people in a comment thread which get everyone thinking differently. I love that.

So I just wanted to say that I’m going to keep on doing what I’ve been doing, and I wanted to give you guys a little bit of info about who I am and what I’m getting into in the next few months.

SCHOOL:

I’m now 26. Former band manager and frontman for a pop/punk/rock group (2004-2010). So, after a decade of food service, retail, music stores, and Blockbuster jobs, I was 25 years old last May when I finally graduated college after 7 long years of school. No, I’m not a doctor — just unsure of what I wanted, mixed with an incompetent registration procedure for classes, adding forever “another semester” while touring the East Coast and recording albums. With a chip on my shoulder, I graduated with a Film and Media Studies degree with a focus in screenwriting. I’m now a full-time employee in a Maryland County Library System, doing book discussions, film discussions, and pretty much having fun all the time and getting paid the most I’ve ever been paid thanks to my degree. Swish. 3 points.

BOOKS:

Which naturally brings us to books. I recommend that you take a look at my “Books To Read Next” tab on the top of the page and give a look to upcoming books I will be starting soon or have already started. Being part of the library system, I get a lot of free books with no due dates. Comment in that area if you have book recommendations of your own. I read YA, mostly literary fiction (classic and contemporary), adventure, some sci-fi, and historical 19th and 20th Century fiction. Every now and then, I dabble in Biographies or radical Non-Fiction, like Blink by Gladwell, Bill Bryson yarns, and Christopher Plummer, Joan Didion, Patti Smith, and/or Michael Caine Bios. They gotta be old, and have a lot to say. I don’t care about some 35-year old’s memoir. What the f*** have they seen? Not much yet. LOL

MOVIES:

I will be blogging about this particular topic soon because; (a) I’ve been focusing mostly on books of late; and (b) this summer 2012 is sizing up to be one of the best summers for a films in about 5-years. There is something of quality for everyone this summer! Like, really good.

MY ORIGINAL WORK:

So I wrote a novel. Time to plug my own work. I’ve been writing screenplays for four years now, and fiction, both short and long, for about two years. All of my work has been sent out to various publishing magazines and agents in their respective fields. I’ve only just started doing this heavily in 2012. No bites yet of course, and I don’t expect their to be anytime very soon. I’ve read enough books on the business and craft of writing to know that you need tough skin to ride out to get the good waves. Don’t forget: JK Rowling was denied over 7 or 8 times for over a year before anyone gave her little Harry Potter book a second glance. Look at her now. You gotta have tough skin and always strive to be better and learn. That goes for a lot in life, in fact.

So please, give my books a look. I have a novella When the Dark Sun Shines (the first), a collection of short stories and poems Small Doors to Big Spaces (the second and most versatile), and now , the strongest, my first full-length novel The Ghost of Casablanca (the third).

You can find them all for purchase or read their synopses by browsing this site: http://www.wix.com/matthewhughston/book

Or you can search “Matthew Hughston” on Amazon.com. The novel “The Ghost of Casablanca “is out May 1st, 2012 and may not pop up yet when you search for it there. You can get it through the link above though.

It’s quality stuff, and if you don’t believe, comment in the box below and I’ll send you the first three chapters of the novel or a duo of short stories for your consideration.

Just a nice guy, I is, eh? LOL

MH

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THE HUNGER GAMES: an Opening Weekend Review

It was just after midnight. No, not on the Thursday night midnight showings. No one could make it with me then. SO I waited for the Friday night opening day. I walked out of the theater from my 9:50pm movie with a smile on my face, more than glad I spent the $12 and 2 hours and 22 minutes on something done right.

This is how you adapt movies. This is one of the best book adaptations since Lord of the Rings. Better than the Twilights, and better than half of the Harry Potters, and I loved the Harry Potters. I stand by these claims.

On its’ opening Friday, it set a record with $68.25 million in one day for a non-sequel movie. No movie has ever done that one a Friday opening. None of the super-hero films, Avatar, Batman, or LOTR: Return of the King. No midnight shows have done these numbers either, including Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part 2… and some of you know how big that was. I was there.

It is the first “Must See” of 2012. Anything changed or left out was not missed or made sense. Anything altered was to improve the story. Anything added was to enhance the tale. The best part is: not much had to be changed, and the book you read was really, really close to this movie. Bravo for real.

Techically and artistically triumphant. Excellent tone setting and camera work. Incredible sound design, editing, costuming, and cinematography. Taut, chilling, cold, thrilling, and atmospheric. Really went above my expectations. Anybody will like this movie whether you read the book or not. Pushes the bounds of PG-13 and actually got my adreneline up and bumped up my temperature at parts with frothing anticpation.

Aside from little details, this screenplay hit the nail on the head, and is just as good as Collins’ novel. I did not go into this thinking I would support it like this, but I am. I’m on this for the long haul, and considering the second and thrid novels were frustrating reads for me, I have all the confidence in the world that the next two films WILL out-do the books. There are thing s to iron out, alter, and change in the coming two films. The first installment needed the least change-ups. What will be neat is still around the corner. This thing has just, just begun.

Exceptional direction and set design, truly. Bring on the 75th Hunger Games! Please, please, please!

9/10

MH

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“Persona” (1966) by Ingmar Bergman: a film review

I don’t know what to say about Persona, but I know I have to say something. I can say straight out that I did not fully grasp it, nor do I believe that it is fully able to be grasped by anyone except Ingmar Bergman. Like “2001: Space Oddesey” or “American Beauty”, “Persona” allows for a plethora of interpretations depending on your mood the day of watching it, none of which can ever be said to be correct. Knowing and accepting that you cannot understand everything about humanity is an acute wisdom gained by only a few who watch this film, and I love that about it. It’s not elitism to which I refer, but a patience and appriciation for both the art and craft of film and “people.”

If there is not one yet , there should be a Criterion Collection Edition, complete with scholarly commentary (much like “The Seventh Seal”, also by Bergman, also one of my favorite 50 films of all time). Not that I want anybody to tell me definitively what anything means, but hearing a scholar or philosopher or psychologist talk about thtese films would facinate me. This is a film worth watching at least twice in one’s life, but never back-to-back within days or weeks of each viewing. This should be allowed to simmer; to be revisted months or years later, as we each grow and age in our own way. It is my humble opinion that revisiting films like these every five or so years would have one’s interpretation of the film slightly change. Different parts would be relatable’ scenes would take on a new meaning; a character we loved in our twenties is the character we despise in our thirties. I have found this true with “American Beauty”, “There Will Be Blood”, and “Fight Club”. As I have aged, the meanings change. Some messages strengthen; others weaken. It is marvelous.

The artistry of Sven Nykvist, the cinematographer, always been one of the very best, and on the acting skills of Liv Ulmann and especially Bibi Andersson, exhibiting some of the bravest and most powerful performances I’ve ever seen in a movie. These women are as good as Marlon Brando in “Last Tango in Paris.” It seemed to me that she was becoming extremely involved in her character.

And this is where I need to just engulf myself in this film. While I cannot exactly “get” this film from a narrative angle entirely, the important thing, and the aspect of the film which will no doubt bring me back time after time is the emotional aspect. It is flat-out haunting. While my intellect is sharp if I may say so, the text of the film is crafty and slippery; my emotions were right with the characters yet something was slightly askewed. few films are so clutching and silmutaneously illusive.

It was a gut-wrenching film for me, like many Bergman films, and I felt, some weird feelings after it ended. The best part is, the weird thing I feel when I watch it ten years from now may be totally different. One of the greats. Worth a watch for people who don’t mind having their mind screwed with, who don’t mind subtitles, who are curious, philosophical young adults, or just enjoy good cinematography.

Ingmar Bergman rarely dissapoints. Even his worst are better than most. (rating: 9/10)

MH

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Kung Fu Hustle: a film review

Kung Fu Hustle is one of the most original, genre-blending films martial arts films to come from China in our time. It is ambitious, fun, creatively shot, and backed by an emotional story which is right between “too melodramatic” and “too thin.” Some things may be lost in translation if you don’t know about being a kid in Hong Kong or folklore of the culture; but even then, this adds a magic and mysticism in a way that may peak your curiosity or at least kindly request the audience’s respect and suspension of disbelief. The American Gangster film hommage in the opening sequence circa 1940s is great, but also blends Hong Kong culture and make it something unique. That’s the best word for the whole movie: Unique.

This film was released in 2004 and given an R-rating: somewhat silly considering the cartoon nature of the film, the total absence of sex, and the limited blood. Though implied, you never see someone murdered and there is almost no undesirable language. The rating is not totally insulting and irrational; it came down to violence, which there is a lot of, but I’m glad they released it how they did and didn’t go for the PG-13 rating. It would have negatively affected the film in the way of story and content, though perhaps they hurt themselves to begin with—by releasing a cartoony, action movie clearly pointed at teenagers while developing it as an “R”. It would be the equivalent of releasing a Pooh Bear movie, clearly for little kids, then being surprised it doesn’t do well because you got a PG-13 from the MPAA instead of a PG rating because you had Christopher Robin cursing at Pooh for getting lost in the woods and gives Pooh a bloody nose. Don’t forget this though: we’re stricter in the USA with ratings, and surely other countries didn’t give it a “must be seventeen without guardian” rating. Take it with a grain of salt.

Let’s get back on point now. Kung Fu Hustle was a weird film to most Americans and, frankly, we didn’t respond well to it at the start. Maybe that was because it only opened on seven screens nationwide on its opening weekend. That’s right. Seven. It was only with the success of the first Kill Bill movie by Quentin Tarantino that Kung Fu Hustle got some viewership. Though the rest of the world had this movie in December of 2004 and January of 2005, the USA wouldn’t get its opening weekend until the Spring of 2005. Sometimes, smaller films take more time to flourish. Eventually, however, the film did get to over 2,000 theaters nationwide and made 17 million dollars by the summer in the USA alone; but it was a long shaky road, and like all films, had no guarantees. Any foreign films, especially niche, cult-like ones like these, are lucky to have done as well as they did. Again, thank Tarantino, and I don’t think that is an unfair statement. At the time, people were going “gaga” for that sword-wielding revenge flick starring Uma Thurman.

Directed by, written by, and starring Stephen Chow, this man accomplished greatness with this big budget picture, but only in the sense of personal accomplishment. It earned just over $200,000 in its opening weekend in the USA, but made a much better amount in the Philippines, the UK, Germany, and the rest of the world.

Kung Fu Hustle is original as hell and is, indeed, a cult film. Stephen Chow paid homage to Bruce Lee serials and does what few films can do that try to blend genres: do it right. There is love, genuine comedy, beautiful slow-motion action that fits perfectly here where other action films force it, and the colors, props, and environments are detailed and expressive.

If you’re over 50, you’re not going to like this film. If you’re in your 30s or 40s and remember the 70s and 80s martial arts wave, you just might dig it and “get it”. This isn’t a film you watch every month, but it’s worth having in your collection because there is nothing else like it. Even the cover of the DVD release calls it “Kill Bill meets Looney Tunes” which, while accurate at parts, undersells the film in my opinion and simplifies it too much. Then again, short blurbs from someone you don’t care about quoted on the cover box are often far too brief to encapsulate any film’s tone or premise.

The film is packed with sweeping wide angle lens shots. The camera rarely stops moving and allows the film and the audience to flow together. This phonetic energy creates a mood that most of the best directors use: frequent cameras in motion, however slight. Even the smallest, faintest tracking shots add something interesting, even if you are not consciously aware of it. They do this a lot in big 90s action fiulms when people are talking in an important meeting. Just think about the opening breakfast scene in Resevoir Dogs, but not so obvious. The action is choreographed masterfully and when the camera does stop moving or is a static shot, it is almost always done in the name of art. The whole film was well-thought out and nothing you will see in this film is just randomly thrown in. They wanted to tell a story and entertain, and every shot was clearly weighed for its pros and cons during pre-production storyboarding – even before a single frame was shot.

You have to go into this movie anticipating a certain type or irreverence; a certain tongue-in-cheek, slapstick kind of vibe. This is not a brutal rated-R action film. This is not Die Hard or Chinese Connection. This film doesn’t take itself too seriously. But at parts, when it is time to be serious, it seems to really work, is sincere and balances out the film – giving it that very original feel that, culturally, Americans don’t see in most films today.

From the back story flashbacks, to the tenants, to the landlord and landlady, this film’s cast goes over the top in what characters it presents and what martial arts make physical sense. But again, it’s a movie. Anything Stephen Chow hadn’t seen yet in a movie, he went for it. Things that had been done, he got his team to do even bigger. The excellent fight choreography by legendary Yuen Woo-Ping is also responsible for the fight scenes of Kill Bill vol. 1, Fearless, The Matrix, Hero. No wonder it’s great. But the editing team deserves a pat on the back as well; with a bad editor that chops action sequences too frantically, you’ll get a choppy blur of un-rhythmic garbage and unintelligible shit, like most of the confusing action scenes in the Transformers franchise.

On a final note, some of the Computer Graphic Imaging (CGI) has not aged well, but given that this is not supposed to be a serious Matrix movie or Lord of the Rings film, somehow the weakness in the CGI is not only forgivable, but charming. It reminds me of a time where they still couldn’t do everything with a computer and still had to use some kind of ingenuity and creativity.

The film is part Tarantino, part Dragonball Z, part Looney Tunes, part Matrix, and part Bruce Lee. Enjoy the quirky humor of this underrated cult gem.

(8/10)

click here to buy AMAZON DVD or BluRay!

click here to purchase right now on AMAZON Instant Video for cheap!

MH

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