Jason Bourne

If you could summarize the quality of this movie quickly, it's easy to just say: it didn't need to exist, but it wasn't terrible. Not exactly glowing, is it? It's how we have to roll though: the Bourne Trilogy was just short of a masterpiece. At the moment I can't really think of any reason to say otherwise, although it has been a few years since I've watched them all. They were important to me, at least. They represent this turn from weird late 90's action movie to a more gritty, grounded and guided film that could both thrill our popcorn buckets and satisfy my need for plots that make sense. Having Damon in the lead allows the character a little more depth, as he's a capable actor and is able to balance the action and dialogue without going over the top. Yeah, there was a great team behind it too, with director Doug Liman leading the charge.

Far From Home

When you have the whole family together it can be difficult to find a movie that everyone can agree upon. My mother, willing to put up with recommendations, doesn't want to waste the entire evening with decision making. She had made her choice, and who are we to disagree? She had recorded Far From Home via PVR and as the show began, it was evident that she wasn't going to put a stop to this film even when my sister disagreed.

"What is this? Are you serious?" My sister was a bit dumbfounded that our mother had even found such a title and was fully willing to subject us all to it. She ended up sucked into her tablet while my father had already falling asleep during the opening credits (in the movie's defense, he does this all the time).

X-Men: Apocalypse

Missed opportunity. It's really all that comes to mind when I think about this film and how to start this article. Here's the thing: the movie was bad, not terrible, could have been great. Right? I'm not even sure anymore.

Here's another thing: it's REALLY difficult to think about this movie as a standalone venture without considering and comparing it to other films in the series and by other - similar - films being done. That is, the rest of the X-Men series and the juggernaut that is the Marvel Cinematic Universe. 

Spoilers within.

The X-Files (season 10)

When I heard the news about The X-Files coming back to television, I had mixed feelings on it. Was this a cash in? Or a legit return to form from the creators? Could it be *any* good or will this just tarnish the shows namesake? Perhaps it was already tarnished enough. After all, who am I to judge? I watched The X-Files when it premiered in 1993 and loved it for many years; it was a staple in my television diet. That is, until the last few seasons. Me going "away" to university and Duchovny quitting the show aligned for what it's worth, and I stopped watching (to be fair, I stopped watching mostly everything during those college years). The show seemed to have run its course, and I wasn't eager to go back to it - at all. I had seen the movies, of course, but they were forgettable. I couldn't tell you where the Mythos storyline ended, nor did I really care. Because I really don't care for that story. The monster-of-the-week were some of my favourite shows; showcasing the paranormal, completely unexplained cases were the most fascinating, interesting and entertaining shows of the run - for me, at least.

We sat down to watch the premiere of season ten, and all my fears were realized: it was heavy on mythos. They tried to explain much of what happened in the previous nine seasons, and they did a good job. They also seemed to explain away a lot of big mystery and decided to move forward full tilt. I was not sold on it.

The Witch: A New-England Folktale

The Witch, or VViwtch - if you will - is a very slow, creepy and suspensful horror film that feels refreshing in the face your typical fare and what Hollywood is willing to throw in our faces. I know, I tend to say that a lot, but I've been trying to catch up on some "smaller" films, but I also *love* getting out to the theatres. I saw a comment online wishing that this movie didn't get a wide release, as it's not built for the mainstream audience, and to that point, I would agree. But I want to see it in theatres. It's when the audience gets all mob on you and decided to heckle the film that the entire film could be ruined. Fortunately, this was not the case when we went to see this. When my friend saw that The Witch was playing, and was sitting at a most-impressive 89% on the Tomatometer, we were sold. We also didn't know anything more about the film than what the title would tell us. 

Maniac (2012)

Perhaps, knowing that they (the filmmakers) couldn't emulate perfectly the chilling, creeping performance of Joe Spinell from the original Maniac, the remake takes the foundation of what made the other film and run with it in their own way. And it works. Elijah Wood brings upon the film his own creepy factor that sets him apart from Spinell; indeed, Spinell's performance is going to be unique for the time and the filmmakers are wise to avoid an attempt at recreating it. The new movie is set in modern day, with all the gloss that a modern movie filmed with modern cameras would bring to the screen. Wood's performance drives home the psychological horror that the titled maniac is going through, something that may not have needed as much attention in the original. We get a clear sense of how unscrewed this guy's head is. In this version, he owns a mannequin shop, giving him a strong focus on caring for them. Just as in the original, the maniac's victims are recreated on the mannequins: the hair he scalps is stapled onto the head and their clothes make the transition to his perverse fantasty world. He carries out relationships with them, although all in secret.

Ballad of Narayama

Another film in a series that I wouldn't have been exposed to if Criterion hadn't kept up their promise of delivering to us important, contemporary films that need a little tender loving. Indeed, I grabbed this film not only because the restoration was incredible, but it seemed like a fitting follow up to Seven Samurai, another essential Japanese film from the 1950's. Ballad is advertised as being in the famour 'Kabuki' style, something I wasn't familiar with and still researching. The end product is a film that holds my interest with not only fascinating characters and themes, but also radiant cinematography. The kabuki style of filmmaking is pulled from Kabuki-style plays of long ago, an art-form that was dying down as the Japanese culture faced a convalescense after the Second World War. Along with the style, the customs, traditions, and values alongside the unique filmmaking make for a truly foreign experience to my own "Western viewpoint" that I would imagine would prohibit this film from being entirely accessible to most audiences, although I would encourage everyone to experience it. 

Singles 2015

It's that time of year again to share my annual playlist! For those not familiar, I have - for the past few years - been adding music I listen to frequently, to a playlist on whatever streaming service I'm subscribed to. I don't overload it with too many songs, and I end up with a pretty solid mix, typically fifteen to twenty songs. 

YouTube Playlist

2015 was an interesting year for music. I really got into The Black Keys, whom I have listened to before but not with the same level of interest. I was also introduced to Wolfmother, whose songs hit me hard: they're fun and full of rock. It makes me miss some of the "heavier" tunes I've listened to in the past. A nice return to form, for sure. I'm really digging this 2015 playlist. The songs are, for the most part, at this comfortable level for me. Nothing too hard, nothing too pop. Quite a bit of older music, and a few new tracks as well that I hope will stand the test of time. So far, I imagine they will: I frequently listen to 2013 and 2015, with 2014 bringing up the fewest listens, as I believe there was a bit more experimentation and inconsistencies throughout. I know the playlist is a good one when I can share it to some friends and they play the entire thing back without giving me one of those "Ryebone, what kind of weird stuff are you into?" looks.

Maniac (1980)

With the arrival of the "recent" Maniac film, starring Elijah Wood, I was inclined to take a peek to see if anything had come before. Lo and behold, without any surprise, yes, the 2012 is a remake of a film with the same name from 1980. Now, keep in mind, that I haven't watched the remake yet, so it would be rather fitting to watch them in actual production order, right? And certainly, I was expecting another cheesy 80's horror film, but what I got instead was the complete opposite. Maybe it's because - being release in 1980 - the film was a product of the 70's, a time of horror I'm not well versed on. Arguably - and you would win - I'm not well versed on horror movies in general.

Beneath

Fresh off of Zombeavers, my friends and I were naturally attracted to another terribly-good water creature horror film. Maybe that should be a category in Netflix. We settle on a film titled Beneath, where "six high school seniors...find themselves on rowboat attacked by man-eating fish and must decide who must be sacrificed as they fight their way back to shore." Honestly, how could you go wrong? Quite simply: you load the movie, get thirty seconds in and start to question your very reality. No, the credits couldn't possibly match the plotline. What we got instead was a very different film, where "a crew of coal miners becomes trapped after a disastrous collapse....They slowly descend into madnes and begin to turn on one another." We paused the film to read the brief synposis and yes, this movie would do just fine. I'm interested in any descent into madness.

More Articles ...