The Middle Man

We constantly hear about the “war” (if you can really call it that) between the distinct parties simply known as the casual and the hardcore gamers (Let it be known that I absolutely hate the term “gamer” with a passion. Playing video games is a hobby, not a life style choice). We know the definitions of both, we know what games both plays, and we even know the average age demographic of both, through general statistic gathering and observation.

But what about the middle man? The fellow who isn’t quite casual, but isn’t very hardcore, either? The “casu-core”, if you will. From what I’ve observed, the casu-core display a deep interest in games, but either very rarely plays them, or is easily distracted by what’s NEW and SHINY, only to toss it over-shoulder a few months to a year later, when something else comes along to dance and parade before the eyes. In general, the Casu-core are very hard to talk to about games, because they’re only feet-deep in the topic, which obviously makes their knowledge limited, despite what they think.

My brother is a perfect example of a casu-core. He’s always been in the gaming scene, I guess. He’s actually the one who got me into video games. I remember being led into his room when I was three, and him sticking an NES controller in my hand, with Metal Gear blaring from the television screen.

Anyway, my brother was always into the gaming scene. As far back as I can remember, he’s always had video games and magazines at his disposal – Games like Contra, and Super Mario Bros. 3, and Super Metroid, DOOM, Final Fantasy VII, Parasite EVE, Grand Theft Auto. Magazines like Nintendo Power, PSM, Electronic Gaming Monthly, GMR…

A friendlier way to … oh.

            In retrospect, my brother had the potential to be a hardcore. No, he SHOULD HAVE BEEN a hardcore. But what went wrong? What came along and made it so he was an unbeknownst (is that even a word?) traveler of the road most avoided?

Lack of funds.

Yes, games and consoles were always coming into the house, but they were also leaving just as fast. My brother, despite having decent paying jobs, was always in a financial bind – to the point where when he ran out of stuff to get rid of, he’d turn to my collection without my knowledge.

This cycle of buy-sell-buy-sell-buy-sell is still going on with him, too. I eventually got sick and tired of him regretfully selling games, that at one point, I forked over the cash just too keep them in the family.

Short story long, my brother spent so much time beating around the bush with video games, he never got the chance to fully appreciate them, I don’t think. I mean, sure he’d get super excited and passionate about a game – but then a few years later, say the game is “virtually unplayable” and/or “ugly”.

Example above, another sign of a casu-core— when they turn their back completely on things they loved when something new arrives on the scene.

Not to have a “let’s pick on E.E.’s brother” blog entry, but in coinciding with what I said above, let’s put this kind of behavour into perspective:

My brother loved Super Metroid when it first came out. He loved it to death. And then he gave his copy to me. A good four or five years ago, he was talking about some Xbox 360 game – I think Crackdown. He was talking to me about Crackdown, and how amazing the graphics look, and everything, and I briefly mentioned I was playing Super Metroid, and how even in today’s standards of updated graphics, it’s an absolutely beautiful game to look at, and how the subtle use of non-text narrative still takes my breath away at some points.

His response?

“Okaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay?”

I expect that sort of response from a kid five years younger than me, who grew up in the PS2 era. Not from a 36-year-old adult who cherished the fuck out of the EXACT. SAME. GAME. when it was released seventeen years ago.

I don’t care how many kids it made go schitzoid,
Polybius is the shit! Casuals be hay’tennn~

            I even get the same response from him when talking about games released in 2000 – just ten year ago! My brother came over one day while I was playing Final Fantasy IX on my PSX. While watching, he casually said, “Dude, you should totally play this on your PS2. It beefs the graphics up.”

He’s saying this once again, about ANOTHER game he cherished the fuck out of (and, hur dur, praised the graphics for) at the time of its release.

Not to mention that anyone who’s really into the gaming scene knows that it doesn’t matter what console you play your PSX games in, they still look the same. If anything, the games load a second or two faster. That’s it.

As mentioned above, this blog entry is not about bashing my brother. It is about the subtle niche of video game players I’ve noticed. People who enjoy video games as much as the hardcore, but know or respect them just as much as the casual. The always-moving, constant-oblivious casu-core.

Those of you who know me could possibly even say that I’m a casu-core game player. Maybe I am, maybe I’m not. I’m extremely picky, and don’t enjoy many newer video games, even ones that are critically acclaimed, yet I own a large collection; larger than the average game hobbyist. I talk more about video games than I do play them (which I’ve gotten really good at reversing over the years.), but I have a deep, deep regard for many older games. I don’t know. And the honest fact is: I don’t really care what you think about me.

In any case, the road of the casu-core is a rather unfortunate one. It really is. There are so many great video games out there, be they two years old, or twenty years old. It really is a shame, but there’s always hope. There’s always, always a shimmer of hope that the narrow eyelids will eventually widen to see the whole picture. Not just quick fixes, graphics, and what’s current.

…Maybe not.

…Probably not.

Oh well.

E.E.’s Top Ten Horror Movies

Goth Christmas is just around the corner: the one holiday out of the year devoted to embracing and embellishing the very things we otherwise would gladly banish from our minds.

I think it’s pretty safe to say that the ‘70s and ‘80s were the prime of the horror genre, bringing us cult classics such as Day of the Dead (A personal favourite, in general),  The Monster Squad, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The Evil Dead, Black Christmas (Although I’m more prone to watch this one during the more appropriate December season) – and of course the king pins: Friday the 13th and A Nightmare on Elm Street. However, I’ve found the horror genre hasn’t been the same since — something happened that changed how horror movies affected Western culture around the late ’90s – early ’00s: unnessecary remakes; a heavier reliance on jump scares over an intense, terrifying atmosphere; and the heaviest axe to the artery: the dreaded PG-13 rating. Though don’t get me wrong, there have been diamonds in the rough, such as Hatchet and The Devil’s Rejects, I can’t help but feel a little violated whenever I see a trailer for another Platinum Dunes release.

Smile for the camera, Hexen Dethshadow!

Anyway, I’m getting totally off-topic. I thought it would be a great and appropriate opportunity to peg off some of my favourite horror movies, in no particular order. Naturally, there are more than a fistful of fright-filled films out there, and admittedly, I’m not as well versed as other horror movie buffs, so don’t get all nasty on me when movies you hate or like do or don’t appear on this list – that’s the beauty of the internet – if you don’t agree with me, you can make a list of your own. WordPress is free.

It was incredibly difficult to choose just ten movies that I like the most and would willingly watch over and over annually, without the list being riddled with cliched entries. I tried my best to offer some fresh material from other lists of this nature, and all I can hope is that you enjoy.

Well, without further ado, this is my personal top 10 Halloween movies.

This one’s for the kiddies. While the title is actually pretty misleading, it’s still one of my favourite Halloween movies of all time.  The movie is based off a novel written by RL Stine, the king of children’s horror literature back in the ‘90s, with book series like “Goosebumps” and “Fear Street”.

When Good Ghouls Go Bad is about this kid named Danny, who moves to the sleepy town of Walker Falls, a municipality named after Danny’s namesake lineage. The town hasn’t celebrated Halloween in over twenty years, due to the Curse of Curtis Danko, a kid who was burned alive in the school’s kiln after an accident, and swore revenge over the town if the holiday was ever celebrated again.

Despite this, Danny’s negligent father is obsessed with reopening the family-owned chocolate factory and using Halloween as a means to promote the occasion. Unfortunately, Danny’s grandfather, simply known as “Uncle Fred” and played by Christopher Lloyd, is killed after he is crushed by a mountain of pumpkins.

But Uncle Fred’s undying love and appreciation for Halloween unleashes a magic that brings him back as a zombie, as well as giving unlife to the entire deceased population of Walker Falls – including the cursed Curtis Danko. Awesome.

While it’s really not scary by any means, it’s a great movie about the importance of family and being true to yourself, all wrapped up in the spirit of Halloween. It’s cheesy and funny, and just a blast to watch. Christopher Lloyd easily steals the show as undead Uncle Fred. Check it out.

All right, so I realize The Grudge remake and its  sequels aren’t really all that great. They jump from story to story too much, they’re incoherent, and overall just confusing – and that partly has to do with the crossing of a Japanese story and film crew working with an American businessmen who really don’t “get it”. Let me just say that while yes, the theatrical version of the remake was total garbage, the extended director’s cut is worth every penny. It’s chilling, it’s well done, and most important, the story makes sense.

But why bother talking about the watered down remake when you can talk about the far superior original? If you haven’t seen Ju-On it shares a near-identical plot as the American rendition – but conveyed a whole lot better: A mother and son are brutally murdered by the husband when he discovers his wife may be cheating on him — which raises the question if their son is his legitimately.

In Japan, there’s a legend that states if you are murdered by someone consumed by a blinding rage, you are doomed in the spiritual world to relive the horrific events over and over – affecting those who come into contact in the physical world. So basically – this house where the family died is a death trap for unwitting visitors.

It’s a very suspenseful and effective story-within-a-story, and what makes Ju-On so frightening are the special effects. Most modern J-Horror films still rely on organic effects with very little use of CGI. You know, the kind of practical work prevalently used in the ‘80s and ‘90s by such masters of the craft as Tom Savini. And what can I say? Ghosts scare the crap out of me — especially wide-eyed Asian ghosts.

;_;

Jason Lives: Friday the 13th, Part VI  is easily the best entry in the Friday series next to the original in my opinion, but unfortunately gets so overlooked, mashed in between the clashing horns of the abrasive hatred against Part V: A New Beginning, and the absolute adoration showered upon Part VII: The New Blood.

Jason Lives is the final entry in what many fans refer to as “The Tommy Jarvis Trilogy”, offering a fresh look into the Camp Blood experience that provides a dark sense of humour, an awesome ‘80s hair-metal soundtrack — primarily provided by the man himself, Alice Cooper — and even changing Camp Crystal Lake’s name to Camp Forest Green to give new air to the lore of Wessex County (Yes, I’m that much of a nerd that I know the township where Crystal Lake is located).

Tommy Jarvis, the protagonist from Part IV: The Final Chapter and Part V: A New Beginning, digs up Jason’s long-since rotting corpse and inadvertently brings him back to life when a bolt of lightning strikes in the middle of a rage-ensued beatdown. Now awake as a soldier of the undead as oppose to his nearly indestructable though mortal self in previous entries,, Jason lays waste to anyone in his way back to Camp Blood, now reopened and active for the first time in years.

Jason Lives is fantastic; While the writing is a bit hedgy by 2011 standards, the characters are great, the film’s twisted and dark sense of humour is perfectly executed, the deaths are just complete eye-candy, and I love that the movie is totally reflexive of not only the horror movie genre, but of pop culture in general. Also seeing Tommy Jarvis make a return to take responsibility for Jason instead revert to being an awkward and annoying introvert like in A New Beginning really makes this movie worth while.

It’s totally great to see Jason have a kind of rivalry with Tommy, much like Michael Myers and Dr. Loomis or Dracula and Van Helsing. It’s just  a shame the future writers of the franchise didn’t go any farther with the two characters afterward. I read once that Tommy likely went into hiding after the sixth movie, and it’s annoying that he hasn’t been referenced at all since in the main series, outside of a comicbook spin-off. I mean, come on, if Corey Feldman was willing to take up the mantle as Edgar Frog two more times since the original The Lost Boys, should it be so difficult to tickle his Tommy Jarvis bone again? He’s admitted to having great respect for the character, even though he played him just once.

Ahh, childhood: Is there any better outlet for nostalgic memories? Awesome cartoons, classic cereal mascots … AND POSSESSED DOLLS THAT FRIGGIN’ WANT TO MURDER YOUR ASS AND TAKE OVER YOUR BODY! Child’s Play is the purest representation of that one creepy-looking stuffed toy or doll everybody owned as kids that watched us at the foot of our beds as we slept.

Child’s Play tells the tale of Charles Lee Ray, or Chucky, the notorious “Lakeshore Strangler”. When Chucky is shot during a getaway heist, he uses voodoo magic to transfer his soul into a popular kids toy, a Good Guys doll. He comes to the realization that if his soul remains in the doll for a certain amount of time, the transfer will become permanent … unless he uses a child as a host sacrifice.

Child’s Play is an interesting story of revenge from the Charles Lee Ray character, and the whole “wild imagination” aspect a lot of adults see in kids, which occurs between the various grown-ups in the film, and the child character of Andy Barclay, played by Alex Vincent.

Admittedly, I’m not familiar with the sequels, and I’ve heard mixed things about them, but as the story goes, the original has always been said to be the best – and to be honest, with the ending of Child’s Play, the need for a sequel seems pretty unnessecary to me. Oh well, whatever.

What makes a mad man tick? Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer shares a similar theme to the more recent Mr. Brooks in that both are the perfect window into the warped mind of how a serial killer’s mind works. The movie is incredibly loosely based off of real-life serial killer Henry Lee Lucas, who made claim to alledgedly murdering over six hundred people between the years of 1975 and 1983.  Lucas was found guilty of only eleven murders, including twelve-year-old Frieda Powell: Lucas’s lover and niece to crime-partner Ottis Toole.

As with most film biographies, the plot is exaggerated and embellished, but the filmmakers behind Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer decided to focus more on Lucas’s reported violent fantasies of power, manipulation, and human annihilation, as opposed to the actual crimes he was found guilty of.

An effective, gripping, and most of all, disturbing movie, Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer is definitely one to check out. Even if you’re not into the horror scene, I’d reccomend checking this one out, even once, based on its biographical merits, despite being only loosely based on reality.

The Changeling  is a movie I kind of hold dear. It was recommended to me by my highschool English/Drama professor shortly before he succumbed to phenomia, and the fact that it’s a pure and geniune “Canadian” film, I often feel the need to go to bat for it, toting Black Christmas and Ginger Snaps right beside.

The Changeling is based on events experienced by the film’s screenwriter, Russell Hunter, while he lived at the Henry Treat Rogers Mansion in Denver, Colorado. Plotwise, the movie’s about a university music professor and composer, named Dr. John Russel, who loses his wife and daughter in a tragic car accident. To get away from the probing demons of the past, John moves into an abandoned mansion, which turns out to be haunted by the ghost of an invalid boy named Joseph, who just wants the truth of how and why he died to be known.

While the average horror buff may think the movie suffers from taking too long to establish the characters and relying too much on jump scares (a personal annoyance of mine), I can’t help but think that this is one of the greatest horror movies of all time. The relationship between John and the ghost character are a great contrast, as John wants to help the ghost, if only to finally have closure for the deaths of his wife and daughter, and the ghost simply wants to use John as a means of revenge.

The twist in the plot near the end is just so diabolical and priceless; you seriously want to see the ghost of Joseph get his just deserts. And if you thought kids threw nasty temper tantrums when they were alive, you ain’t seen nothing from the wrath of the afterlife.

Say what you will about the absolute redundant tripe that the Final Destination franchise has turned out to be, but you can’t argue that most people are afraid of dying – to the point that there are a lot of folks who literally live day-to-day, not thinking about what the future brings, because it scares them so much. What can I say? Death is a scary topic, especially when we don’t know what’s waiting for us in the afterlife. And I think the first Final Destination exploits the fear the best.

There’s no point in summarizing the film outside of what it is, because if you’ve seen 2, 3,  4, and/or 5, you already know what you’re in for — it’s literally the same basic plot over, and over again but with different characters and more graphic and elaborate deaths. But if you’ve lived under a rock these past few years well … a kid dreams people are going to die in some huge accident, warns everyone around him, his dream comes true, and all the survivors are picked off one-by-one by a fate worse than what they would have initially experienced as they struggle to figure out death’s “pattern” and escape it over and over. That’s all five movies in a nutshell. Really.

The first movie was interesting, because it delved into a theory no one had ever considered before: Death having a kill pattern. But if the survivors somehow skipped over their time to die somehow (like by being pushed out of the way of an oncoming train, for instance), they could figure out the loop and keep on living.

Though let’s be honest, how long did the screenwriters think the characters could pull this off for? I mean, who thinks of that idea, anyway? Death having an all-encompassing pattern that just looped until everyone was dead? As a kid, I always thought Death was just this guy with a clock, and when your time was up, that was it, no ifs, ands, or buts – you’re gonna die. Oh well.

In any case, the original movie is an instant classic in my regard. Ignore the rest. Like I stated, they’re stupid and redundant, especially since the first entry does it the best.

Okay — this is the only cliche entry on this list, I promise. I swear!! How many top ten horror movies lists has Halloween on there? Although really, how can you have a top ten horror movies list without Halloween slated somewhere? But why just pay tribute to the first one, when you can pay tribute to its direct sequel, as well? The first Halloween is absolutely classic, and I go out of my way to watch it every October. However, I really can’t say anything about this movie that hasn’t already been said. What more can you say about John Carpenter’s Halloween that hasn’t been addressed? It’s a complex story of family ties, Satanic power, and best of all, babysitter murders.

While most horror movies now rely on excessive profanity and gore, Halloween is a fine testament that less really is more. Despite all the death and chaos shocased in the film, I can’t recall a single drop of blood ever being spilt. John Carpenter truly made a statement by doing that: You don’t need to be over the top to make an effective cinematic experience. But not just cinema; I think that goes for everything.

Halloween II picks up literally just as Halloween ends  — which to me, kind of makes it an obligation to watch both movies in a single sitting – much like Kill Bill. Micheal Myers is back with a vengeance, slaughtering anyone while on his undying search for his sister, Laurie Strode.

The most notable parts of this movie belong to Donald Pleasance as Doctor Loomis, and Charles Cyphers as Sheriff Bracket during their chaotic search for Myers, and uncovering what kind of evil he truly is. My biggest gripe about this movie is that it just feels like The Shape is just killing people just for the sake of racking up a body count. People are killed off in such gory and stereotypical setups not unrecognizeable in Crystal Lake. Right at the start of the film, The Shape murders some teenager in a completely arbitrary act. There was no reason for her to be knifed; she wasn’t in Myer’s way, nor was she in anyway related to Laurie or the events in the previous film. It bugs me a lot, because the first film was so fresh and different from such horror movie ideologies. That being said, there really wasn’t anything to compare the original Halloween to except for Black Christmas, and it’s a shame that Carpenter’s classic tale that grandfathered an entire slasher film subgenre fell into particular tropes like “sex in a jaccuzzi” and “kill the teenager for the sake of killing teenagers”.

I also find that the pacing of the film drags a lot compared to the first entry, which  can make watching Halloween II all the way through just a bit of a chore. To be honest, I think I’ve only ever been able to to watch the whole thing through to the end credits a grand total of twice. However, while not as great and cinematically important as the original Halloween, it’s still worth a watch, even if for the sake of continuity.

Of all the more recent independent horror movies to actually bring “scary” back into the genre, I think writer-directors Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sánchez succeeded with The Blair Witch Project. If you thought Cloverfield had copious amounts of hype and viral marketing surrounding it, 1998 was absolutely bombarded – which would eventually make The Blair Witch Project itself one of the most known, as well as one of the most-spoofed horror movies to date.

Taking unconscious cues from controversial Itallian horror classic, Cannibal Holocaust, The Blair Witch Project  made it seem like the film you were watching could have actually been lost footage found years after the presented events. To further drive the point, a false documentary on the Blair Witch and the missing film students, called The Curse of the Blair Witch (You can find it on YouTube, and is included on the DVD.), was aired before the film’s release. Because of the film’s impact on Western culture in an age when the Internet was just becoming making itself known for mass consumption, many people  found themselves asking the question, “Is this real? Did this actually happen?”

A lot of criticism that stems from The Blair Witch Project comes from the fact that not a lot actually happens during the film other than the crumbling sanity and rising mutiny between the three characters as they wander aimlessly through the woods, trying to find their way back to civilization.  But the main thing people complain about? The fact that you never see the Blair Witch. But unfortunately, the people who make those claims, while valid, are missing the point of the whole movie: which is that the power of the imagination is much more twisted and frightening than anything that can be shown to you on-screen.

Whether you’ve seen it or not, whether you’re young or you’re old, everyone’s been exposed to The Exorcist in some way, shape or form. William Friedkin’s adaptation of William Peter Blatty’s novel,  “The Exorcist”, is a universal phenomenon, tested by time, infamously toted as the scariest movie of all time.

But what few people come to realize was that there were actually sequels: Exorcist II: Heretic — which was critically panned and completely destroyed Linda Blair’s acting carreer outside of hosting Sci Fi Channel specials and parodies of the very film that made her famous — and the even more obscure The Exorcist III, directed by William Peter Blatty himself, adapted from his own novelized sequel of “The Exorcist”, titled “Legion”.

The Exorcist III takes place fifteen years after the original, and slates the bumbling, yet philosophical Detective Kinderman in the role of protagonist – this time starring George C. Scott, instead of a reprising Lee J. Cobb, who died years after the first film’s release. Detective Kinderman, who still hasn’t come to terms with the death of Fr. Karras from the first film, gets thrown into a case that involves Satanic murders and a long-deceased serial killer named The Gemini, a guy who possesses people and goes around decapitating everyone with a huge pair of scissors. It’s great.

It’s a really intense and frightening movie, and I wouldn’t feel right giving anything away, but George C. Scott as Kinderman and Brad Dourif as The Gemini Killer give fantastic performances – and there’s even a great cameo that is overall surprising and satisfying, while helping to tie up the plot. Even William Peter Blatty has been quoted that he’s quite proud of this film and honestly believes it far surpasses the first Exorcist in both quality and horror. I agree.

…Well, that’s it, and as I said before, there are just way too many great horror movies to just pick ten. And though I’m leaving out quite a few notables, like the Evil Dead trilogy and the Hellraiser movies, that doesn’t mean I like them any less. There’s a great horror resource site that I frequent at times, called The House of Horrors. It’s a fantastic site run by a truly dedicated fan of the horror genre. Check it out – and have a happy and safe Halloween, everyone.

The Kids Are All Right: The Modern Family

The Kids Are All Right (2010) is a drama/comedy directed by Lisa Cholodenko that comments on how contemporary Western society views the institution of same-sex marriage and child-rearing. Joni Allgood (Mia Wasikowska) is pressured by her half-brother, Laser (Josh Hutcherson) into helping him track down their sperm donor, Paul Hatfield (Mark Ruffalo), without the consent or knowledge of their married lesbian mothers, Nic and Jules (Annette Bening and Julianne Moore). When Nic and Jules discover that their children have gone behind their backs, they feel threatened that the inclusion of Paul may corrupt the balance of their family, especially when Joni confides that she would like to spend more time with him. The film comments on how marital circumstances have changed over the years, and as such, unconventional families (in this case, “the perfect lesbian family,” a quote from the film itself) sometimes feel challenged by a relatively traditional world to prove themselves, but the overall dynamic of family values (such as support, commitment, and honesty) still apply despite the change of gender roles/sexual orientation in contemporary marriage.

“Don’t mind Laser. He’s just jealous because I have a car and
he’s got daddy issues. And his name is stupid.”

A scene that reflects the idea of this comes early in the film when Jules and Nic decide to limit Paul’s involvement with the kids. Instead of flat out denying Joni’s desire to see Paul again, Nic and Jules invite Paul over for a family barbeque, with the intention of what Nic calls, “killing him with kindness”. In this scene, Lisa Cholodenko uses cinematography, proxemics, mise en scene, and light to illustrate what life for the Allgoods is like – but also to establish Nic and Jules’s secret ill feelings towards Paul, but still attempting to support Joni’s wish to see him again.

The scene is framed with contrasting medium-high-key light and medium shots, with Paul standing on the left side of the frame, and Nic and Jules standing close together, a few feet away, on the right side of the frame. This composition relates to social distance, which is typically “reserved for impersonal business and casual social gatherings” (Giannetti and Leach, “Understanding Movies”, p. 127), but Cholodenko uses these proxemic patterns to make Paul feel intimidated by the intimate space shared between Nic and Jules, suggesting “such behaviour might be interpreted as standoffish” (Giannetti and Leach, p. 127), which accurately reflects their disapproval and own intimidation of his presence.

“Who needs a man when you have a wine bottle?
…Wait.”

As the scene progresses, the get-together transitions to the backyard, around a picnic table where Paul and the Allgoods have a barbeque meal together. The use of high-key light and mise en scene is important in this transition, although Cholodenko uses them subtly by focusing on close-up angles of Paul and the Allgoods. Surrounding the group are various objects that suggest the ideals of a typical well-to-do family (such as an expensive barbeque, a well-maintained yard, etc) and therefore when there are quick glimpses of these objects, “the frame is likened to a window through which the audience may satisfy its impulse to pry into the intimate details of the characters’ lives” (Giannetti and Leach, p. 100). Coupled by Cholodenko’s focus on the group’s conversation about life and experience – as well as Joni’s rebelling at her moms’ embarrassing pride of her graduation speech – the scene is shot with a realist, documentary-like technique to “suggest the copiousness of life itself” (Giannetti and Leach, p. 2). The scene ends with a wide shot of the group eating and enjoying each others’ company, accompanied by a music sting. The use of high key light during the scene implies an overall sense of “security, virtue, truth, and joy” (Giannetti and Leach p.76) among the family. By using these techniques, Cholodenko creates a plausible world that exhibits the worries and triumphs of a working unconventional American family, and that the Allgoods are indeed able to survive as a family without the inclusion of a dominant male figure.

On a more personal note outside of this brief film analysis, I really enjoyed The Kids Are All Right. I’ve seen it far to many times in order to write this peice to want to subject myself to the film again any time soon, but I really do recommend it. I’m not going to spoil the movie for you, if you haven’t already seen it, but it’s genuinely well-written and really funny in a smart and sometimes dark way. The second act provides a huge twist (which I’m personally on the fence about), but that doesn’t stop The Kids Are All Right from being a quality film of 2010.

Seasons Change, Time Passes As the Weeks Become Months, Become Years.

All right, so I’m not particularly in the mood to write anything deep or exuberant at the moment, but there has been something on my mind for a long while now, that I would like to address. And, as I ponder more and more upon this subject, I can’t help but feel more and more like I am slowly sinking into a pit of some sort, and in no way can claw my way out.

Good sirs and ladies, I am of course talking about something that, like most God-given things, can be our best of friends, or our worst of enemies:

Time.

I often think back to when I was a child, at home on a Saturday. It felt like I had so much time on my hands I had no idea what to do with it. I used to sit around at the kitchen table, drawing comics and writing stories all day, and not even give a care what time in the afternoon it was.

Now as an adult, I don’t even feel like I have enough time to tie my shoe laces. Okay, maybe I’m exaggerating, but a lot of the time it feels like it. I am a naturally slow person; I like to take my time doing things, because if I don’t I will perpetually make mistakes. So why is it that I’m constantly feeling like I’m being rushed?

Well, it’s because I AM constantly being rushed. Rushed inadvertently by my impatient father, rushed by my perpetually-stressed managers (Four of them!), and rushed by fellow drivers, who, instead of acknowledging the Maximum Limit speed signs as, well, the maximum speed, think of them more of suggestions or guidelines.

Hrm … This seems familiar…

Unfortunately, not many people understand – or appreciate, for that matter – my mantra of stopping to smell the roses. I don’t know what it’s like outside of Ontario other than what I’ve heard and what I’ve seen briefly from week-long vacations, but it seems to me like our little province has more in relation with the USA than it does with the rest of Canada.

As far as I know, the majority of the population is made up of adults. I’m just going to go out there and take that guess. And the reason I am going to make that assumption is because it would explain why the world as I know it has the mentality of “GO GO GO”, and “NICE GUYS FINISH LAST”.

What I mean by the above statement is that it seems to be a general consensus that as you grow older, time fleets by at a gradual, but equally alarming rate. But then again, it could also be because we’re under pressure by not only other people, but by the media, which has taught us to be more greedy/selfish/impatient than we already are, into the mentality of speed over quality.

Speed over quality. Hm. I notice this trait in so many things… movies, video games, construction – and the most obvious – fast food.

Isn’t it a shame that even bare necessities, such as food and shelter, are left overturned and hampered by such a simple thing as time?

Unfortunately, there are so many things in life that are against us, the most evident being our own mortality. And that’s why I think it’s very important for us to stop running so much, and start walking. Yahweh, Allah, Vishnu, Diana, whoever created us all – I don’t think He or She intended for us to go about in our short lives constantly weaving in and out of traffic.

Last I checked, the hare lost the race.

Hard Candy: A Digital Monologue

I love movies that provide a means to empower and inspire certain sects of audiences. They come to us, shining in the darkness, when the endless tidal wave of cinematic schlock rains upon us, trying to convince the mass society that “thinking” and “being challenged” are bad things; that we should only concern ourselves with disengaging mental-melts like Meet The Spartans, The Final Destination (Really? Really? the FINAL destination? What were the first three? Pit stops?), as well as any Eddie Murphy entry over the last five-to-seven years.

I like to think that everybody, I don’t care who you are, can stumble upon something in the entertainment industry and become latched to the thing — can bond with it oh so well — almost as if the creator produced that whatever-it-is (be it a movie, a book, a video game, a song, etc) with that one person specifically in mind.

For me, it was a movie called Hard Candy.

I’m sure I’m not the only one who sees that red hoodie as an
allusion to the story of Little Red Riding Hood.

I’ve been exposed to a great number of films over the past few days, but out of all of them, I felt the need to talk about this one, first. Hard Candy was released in 2005, starring a pre-Juno Ellen Page and a pre-Watchmen Patrick Wilson (with post-Double Happiness and during-Grey’s Anatomy Sandra Oh).

I can summarize the plot of Hard Candy in about a single sentence: Hayley, a 14-year-old honour student gets lured over the Internet and into the arms of Jeff, a 32-year-old “photographer” — but when the two head back to Jeff’s place, the oh-so-familiar and traumatizing story of the owl hunting the mouse pulls a complete and unexpected 180:

The mouse hunts the owl.

I’m not sure if the screenwriter of this movie was himself affected by online predators, or if he knew someone pretty close who was — but as a victim of long-term chat room pedophilia myself (among other things … but let’s not get into that) — at the very age that Ellen Page portrays in Hard Candy … well, I’m not sure about you guys, but I don’t think it was an accident that during a weekly Double-Feature night, one of my close friends just so happened to bring the DVD on a whim, when internally I recently started coming to terms with things that happened in my past. Somebody “upstairs” was watching out, in my opinion.

“Happy birthday, Mister f*cking President.”

Anyway, I’d like to talk about the movie itself. It’s almost two hours, and a good 95% pure dialogue — another 75% taking place inside Jeff’s studio condo. And yeah, okay, you can say “95% dialogue” about most movies, but Hard Candy comes off differently. Before we started watching it, my other close friend said that the movie could have easily been pulled off as a stage play; and while at the time I didn’t understand what he meant, I sure do now.

There are only six characters in the entire film: Haley, Jeff, Sandra Oh’s character who appears briefly in two scenes (which is hilarious in my opinion, because she gets third billing on the DVD case), a girl from Jeff’s past (who you barely see at all), a cashier, and an uncredited extra who comes out of a diner bathroom.

Okay, technically, three characters, but the fact remains that it’s a very manageable cast of characters conveying an intense, brain-wringing plot through a scant two locations (three, if you include the roof and yard of Jeff’s condo). Hard Candy wasn’t written for the stage, but its just as basic and enveloping. Honestly, the first time I watched it, I was expecting the screen to go black and the words “INTERMISSION” to appear in big blocky white letters around the mid-point of the film.

Nite Owl: Mild-mannered child molester by day,
crime-fighting manic depressant by night.

The acting in Hard Candy is absolutely phenomenal. It’s no surprise that Page and Wilson have secured themselves in their acting careers now. It’s actually pretty scary how well Ellen Page comes across as a dependent, dopey fourteen-year-old in the first act of the movie, only to turn on one heel and show us how effing vengeful and bat-shit insane her character really is. It also doesn’t help that she actually looks like a kid — especially in this movie — but again in Juno. Patrick Wilson is set up to be this smooth-talking, persuasive sort of person, and my God, does he play it well. Even past the point when it’s very evident what he is and what his intentions are, it’s somewhat difficult at times to not be sympathetic towards his character.

I’m surprised Hard Candy isn’t a [well-known] title, and I have a feeling that has to do with it being [a low-budget] indy film, sadly. I’d heard the name of the movie mentioned a few years ago, but had no idea what it was until last Sunday evening when I saw it for the first time — and the same for my dad when I showed it to him a few days later. And what strikes me odd about this movie is that it’s filed under the Horror genre. If you ask me, it’s anything but a horror movie — in fact, it should be listed high up there with those other inspirational films like Forrest Gump and Pursuit of Happyness.

I mean, technically, I guess — Hard Candy could be a horror movie — if you’re a pedophile, that is.

As terribly awkward and painful that position must be,
Ellen Page sure looks like she’s sleeping well enough.

For me, Hard Candy is basically To Catch a Predator tripped up a notch by a healthy dose of steroids and acid. I honestly can’t recommend this movie enough. Go watch it. The message of this film is a brilliant one not only to child predators, but to any idiot who thinks they have the right to step over illegal/unmoral boundaries: Don’t chew the hard candy, because you just might break off a tooth.