Twixt (2012)

The Clocks are Set Incorrectly … BECAUSE OF EVIL!

Twixt (2012)I saw a movie on the shelf of the local DVD store that caught my attention.  It was in the Horror section, so I made a mental note of it as a potential for the October Horrorthon.  I also found myself interested in it because it included three things that I have liked in the past.  The writer/director of this movie is a highly acclaimed man, and two of the stars of the movie have both been in some great movies.  But why had I heard nothing of this movie?  It seems like the writer/director alone should have made this movie blip on my radar.  Well maybe I’ll figure out why as I review Twixt, written and directed by Francis Ford Coppola, and starring Val Kilmer, Elle Fanning, Bruce Dern, Ben Chaplin, Alden Ehrenreich, Don Novello, David Paymer, and Joanne Whalley.

Writer Hall Baltimore (Val Kilmer) goes to a small town on a book signing, but finds that he can’t even talk people into being interested in his presence.  Local Sheriff Bobby LaGrange (Bruce Dern) eventually comes to the signing to attempt to enlist Baltimore to read his own horror novels.  When Baltimore shows his disinterest, LaGrange has Baltimore follow him to the morgue to show him a dead body, getting Baltimore involved in the murder investigation of a young girl.  Hall gets drunk and has a dream about a young girl named Virginia (Elle Fanning), who may or may not have some connection to the murder.  Also, she may have been the murdered person.

According to Wikipedia, Coppola said that the idea for this movie grew out of a dream he had.  That makes sense because the movie doesn’t.  I barely have any idea what was going on here.  It seems like it’s very dangerous to make a movie involving Edgar Allan Poe, because both this and The Raven sucked pretty hard.  I kind of had an idea that I was in for something that didn’t make sense when the Nick Nolte-sounding narration was describing the town’s clock tower and said that there was something evil afoot because the seven clocks that lined the tower were all set to different times.  …Yup!  No other possible explanation for that.  And that fact terrifies me because it means that most of the clocks in my house are evil.  After that, the story is about Baltimore taking a lot of head trauma and taking drugs so that he can fall asleep and go into the dream world where he keeps finding new information about the mystery.  That is not a joke.  And by that I mean that I did not intend it as a joke, and if they did it was so devoid of comedy that it cannot be considered a joke.  It’s hard to tell with this movie because there were a lot of things that seemed like they thought it was funny.  I actually managed to stay hopeful in this movie because their constant talk about thinking of a bulletproof ending for Baltimore’s book made me think they were hinting that there was a bulletproof ending to the movie.  This was not so much the case.  It was some bullshit about a vampire with braces that fired off of her teeth when her fangs came out and some “reveal” about Baltimore’s daughter.  I wasn’t even sure that I was supposed to be surprised by that.  Lemme ask you something: if you see a guy with a drinking problem and a failing marriage looking at pictures of a daughter you never see in the movie, what are you going to think about her current status?  If you checked “Alive,” then you also checked “idiot.”

Here’s the part where I say one good thing about the movie: it mostly looked good.  The things that were supposed to look spooky achieved that.  Sometimes almost too much.  The scene when Baltimore was walking through the forest was so spooky I would describe it as what a child would draw if you told him to draw a picture of “spooky.”  Now, this is not to say that it was effective.  It was so textbook spooky that I feel like it flipped on itself and wound up being more pretty.

I don’t know if I can blame anything on the cast of the movie.  None of them seemed to take the movie seriously, and I couldn’t blame them for that.  The sheriff character struck me as pretty stupid, and not just for his stupid bird house business.  They love doing wacky hobbies in movies to make their characters seem more interesting.  I’m talking about the fact that he’s the sheriff of a town and meets a random writer and decides this dude needs to check out this dead body in the morgue.  You are a terrible public official!  I was also fascinated by the fact that Father Guido Sarducci (Don Novello) was in this movie.  And you can all be fascinated by who the hell that is as I’m probably one of the few people that remember who that is.

Twixt was not a good movie.  Or maybe it was… I have no idea what was going on.  Whatever it was wasn’t entertaining, so I’m going to assume it sucked.  The story was goofy and made no sense, and since it calls itself a horror movie they probably don’t want to be.  I feel fairly confident that everyone that participated in this movie can do much better.  There’s no reason to watch this movie, and probably no reason for me to even say that because most people don’t know it exists.  I’ll probably do one last horror movie for the October Horrorthon since I can barely count this one.  Twixt gets “Whuh?” out of “Huh?”

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Django Unchained (2012)

Kill White People and Get Paid for it? What’s Not to Like?

Django Unchained (2012)It’s a heavy spoiler for this review that today’s movie made it into my top films of 2012, but I still feel obligated to give it the full review it never received. Near the end of the year, I was trying so hard to review as many movies from 2012 as I could that I pushed this one off so much that I didn’t feel like the memory was fresh enough to still write the review for it. I knew it was only a matter of time until I got around to reviewing it because there was no way that I wouldn’t be picking it up on BluRay the day it released. Well the time finally came that I could present you with my review of Django Unchained, written and directed by Quentin Tarantino, and starring Jamie Foxx, Kerry Washington, Christoph Waltz, Leonardo DiCaprio, Samuel L. Jackson, Walton Goggins, Don Johnson, James Remar, Tom Wopat, Russ Tamblyn, Amber Tamblyn, Bruce Dern, Zoë Bell, and Jonah Hill.

A group of slaves is being driven by the Speck Brothers until they’re stopped by a German dentist named Dr. King Schultz (Christoph Waltz), who stops them looking to purchase one of their slaves named Django (Jamie Foxx). When the Speck Brothers decline, Schultz guns them down. Schultz reveals himself to be a bounty hunter who needs Django to identify the Brittle Brothers, who Schultz has a bounty for. After dealing with the Brittle Brothers, Django reveals that he’s been separated from his wife, Broomhilda (Kerry Washington), and Schultz decides to help reunite them, taking Django on as an apprentice bounty hunter until they get a chance to free Broomhilda from the slave owner Calvin J. Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio).

This movie is awesome, but I don’t even know how comfortable I’d be in saying that it’s Tarantino’s best movie to date. And that is a huge compliment. When your movie is potentially coming in third to Pulp Fiction and Inglourious Basterds, you know you’re doing alright in your career. And Django does not disappoint Tarantino fans, at least not this one. It’s far more fun than you’d expect a movie about slavery to be. Tarantino takes what could be a really heavy premise and injects it with his particular brand of humor, which you can see all over the place, such as Don Johnson’s character telling one of his slaves to not be so hasty when jumping to the conclusion that she should treat Django like a white man when he suggested to treat him better than she’d treat other slaves. Even though the scene could’ve technically been left out of the movie, I also enjoyed the scene where the racists were preparing to lynch Django and got into a discussion about the eyeholes on their hoods because it was pretty damned funny. Of course, Tarantino usually writes some funny and/or compelling dialogue, my favorite in this movie being between Django and Schultz more often than not. I guess the dialogue did seem a bit off in their unrealistically low use of the N-word for a movie taking place in the South, but I’ll let that slide as well. The only thing I took issue with in the whole story was the plan to rescue Broomhilda. They determined that they couldn’t just offer to buy her, and they also couldn’t offer to buy one of Candie’s fighters unless they came at him with a ridiculous sum of money, so they had to come up with this big ploy to offer the money and ask to take Broomhilda as a signing bonus. I don’t know why they didn’t just offer a crazy sum of money for Broomhilda in the first place. I suppose part of their idea was to only pay $2,000 for her and act like they’d come back with the rest later, but if they’d just offered $5,000, Django would’ve been good for it. It’s not like he didn’t help him raise at least that much money, thusly earning it for himself. And it’s not like he had anything else he wanted, so he could drop all that money to get his wife back. It’s a major point in the story, but a minor qualm from me. I got over it.

The action in this movie was over the top, but always in a fun way. It was like the Expendables in that when someone gets shot, they are sent flying in an explosion of red mist. But unlike the Expendables, this movie was good. And watching Django go into Candieland and fuck shit up was fantastic. The only real problem I had with the look in the movie was having to see someone’s hairy black nutsack, up close and personal.

The biggest sell of this movie had to be the performances. Everyone in this movie put on a clinic for amazing performances. Jamie Foxx started off pretty meek, but quickly turned into a badass. We already knew he had the comedy chops, but I don’t really recall seeing him as a badass action hero that often in the past. He wears it well. Christoph Waltz cannot seem to go wrong when pairing up with Tarantino. Waltz is great in everything I’ve seen him do, but he’s magic with Tarantino. My mom tried to get me to describe what it is about him that makes everyone talk about him with such reverence. I don’t really have the words. After more than 450 reviews, I still don’t know how to put what I think of Waltz into words. But I also can’t tell my mom to watch the movies to see him in action because my mom can’t handle violence, and his two best performances that I’ve seen were in movies lousy with violence. I think you just haveta see him to believe him. Leonardo DiCaprio is also fantastic in this movie, playing Candie as very charming but believably sadistic. Samuel L. Jackson is awesome in this movie as well as the racist asshole slave, and it was also the first time I’ve ever seen Jackson allow himself to look closer to his age. He’s 64 years old! Black don’t crack. Speaking of racist things, Walton Goggins is also in this movie. I’m not saying he’s actually a racist, but he does give good racism. He’s really good at saying the N-word. Speaking of which, I think that must be tough for all non-racist white people in this movie, as I’m sure all of them were. If I were in this movie and I had to sling the N-word around like that, I’d be ruining every take by yelling, “I’m sorry! I’m so sorry, everybody! Alright, back into the scene.”

Django Unchained is awesome. Excellent story with great –and often hilarious – dialogue that I’ve come to expect from Tarantino. The action is lots of fun and every performance in the movie is what other actors should study for their own betterment. This movie is easily in Tarantino’s top three best movies, which is the best compliment I can give with an already illustrious career. This is a movie you should’ve seen when it was in theaters, but if that time is passed then you should go buy it right now. Django Unchained gets “Our mutual friend has a flair for the dramatic” out of “I like the way you die, boy.”

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