Monday, May 12, 2014

The Sacrament (2013)

Director – Ti West
Writers – 
Ti West
Production Company – Worldview Entertainment, Arcade Pictures
Stars – AJ Bowen, Joe Swanberg, Gene Jones, Amy Seimetz

It has been soooooo long since I’ve seen a really good movie, what is wrong with me?  Am I expecting too much?  Do I just have certain taste that no one can meet?  Why am I always checking the clock throughout a movie? 

I want a flick that I don’t want to end – please somebody deliver!

Unfortunately I’m not writing this because The Sacrament cured me.  The Sacrament was quite bland, and relies heavily on Gene Jones (Father) and his preachy speeches.  What you’re left with is a very sparse movie with not much going on, not many creative liberties are taken to spice things up.  It’s weird because I did feel some tension so something was working on me, but all in all it just felt uninspired – the payoff very mediocre. 

So here’s what you have, because it’s not much.  A group called VICE travels to a remote location to meet-up and interview the sister of a guy who’s come to them with a disturbing (to him) letter from his sister.  She’s joined a group called Eden Parish and she seems a little off her rocker.  Once the group arrives they’re treated like royalty until they start noticing some creepy stuff going on - Commence them trying to leave, speeches, kool-aid, the end.

So that’s it – I kept waiting for something, anything.  It’s just super predictable.  It’s all obviously based on the Jonestown Massacre, yet there’s no mention of it. It is BARE BONES Jonestown. I say if there’s no mention, then you should probably come up with some original material sprinkled throughout..this movie pegs down Jonestown down to the Help notes and airfield shootings.

The only thing that I found even a bit interesting was that the sister (former druggie) might still be being drugged by “Father”, and that might be why she was so enamored with him.  I think they could have dove into that and had a more interesting plot, show that all his followers we’re being drugged and brain washed.

I think I also wanted a more sinister reason for Father having this commune out in the sticks.  Let’s say he keeps them drugged and demonstrates some disturbing fetishes, he could sell their kidneys to locals. Perhaps he’s the only one who can have children with the women – making a master race.  Don’t laugh at my ideas!!  I program phone systems for a living, I don’t write screen plays – I just know that I needed some spice in this soup.

So in the end I enjoyed Gene Jones, though his speeches grew tiring towards the end.  I thought Amy Seimetz (Caroline) was thoroughly convincing, I wanted more of her high energy, brainwashed character.  And I  know this may sound strange but I have a soft spot for Joe Swanberg and AJ Bowen – they’re like lovable horror teddy bears – but this also means they come off comical to me, and that’s not always good.

Has anyone seen anything lately that just blew their sock off?  I feel like lately I'm either utterly confused with a movie or so uninspired I want to sleep. 4 for lack of imagination. 

Friday, May 2, 2014

Proxy (2013)

Director – Zack Parker
Writers – 
Zack Parker, Kevin Donner
Production Company – Along the Tracks, FSC Productions
Stars – Alexia Rasmussen, Alexa Havins, Kristina Klebe

I’m really confused, and that’s not good.  Proxy starts off with one hell of a scene, I was really hooked and remained hooked for at least 30 minutes – but the twists that this movie takes were not at all what I had in mind.  The story left me grasping for answers, or at least some way to tie it up in a nice bow – and before you yell at me saying “Jennifer, does everything have to be tied up a nice little neat bow for you to enjoy it???” 

The answer to that is “NO it doesn’t”.
SO because I’m so confused – let’s truly dish.  Esther is our main character.  We meet her while she’s nice and plump with child.  Minutes in, she’s assaulted by a hooded figure in quite the brutal fashion.  Esther loses her baby, and seems quite calm despite of it.

Soon our main character gets involved with a group for women who’ve lost children.   She’s spotted by Melanie, a member of the group.  Melanie takes her in under her wing, makes sure Esther feels welcomed and the two become friends.  Melanie opens up to Esther about her loss first, and urges Esther to tell her story when it organically comes up.

MAJOR SPOILERSYou want to watch this?  Then stop reading.

Here comes some major changes.  Esther spots Melanie out at a shopping mall, Melanie’s screaming and yelling to a security guard that she’s lost her son Payton.  She’s hysterical, Esther is confused since Melanie has professed to her that her family was killed in a drunk driving accident.  Melanie runs out of the store, Esther follows, and low and behold Melanie plucks her son out of her car.  He’s alive and well, but the twist now is that Melanie is not.

Speaking of not well, Esther has issues of her own.  First off, she’s more into attention than being a mother.  Especially shocking, in a good disgusting twisted movie sort of way, is that she actually commissioned her girlfriend to attack and kill her unborn baby!  Wowzer, the scene where you find this out was quite shocking – I definitely thought Esther was odd, but I really didn’t expect this.  That’s one completely unfortunate thing, Esther is NOT WELL – and you just need to accept that because there is no background into why she’s nuts…and there’s a few more scenes involving her that will have you scratching your head.

Now, we’re only about one hour in at this point and there’s a lot more to go.  Esther becomes consumed with Melanie - they’re really a lot alike in her mind – though Melanie becomes distant from Esther once she lets her know that she’s seen her with her child. 

They’re both psychologically flawed, and it drives Esther to commit a most violent act all in the name of bringing her and Melanie together – and then Esther is shot to death by Melanie’s husband and we have a new lead character and a new vibe of complete confusion on my part.  The overly dramatic scene of Esther’s death was really over the top to me, how about shave off 3 or 30 minutes by cutting some of this out?  It was shot beautifully, don’t get me wrong, but sometimes things are nice and shiny so you quit focusing on the story being so out there.

Fast forward and a small amount of time passes, it starts getting a little freaky when Melanie's husband starts imagining things he wished he would have done differently when he killed Esther, then there's Melanie hitting on her now, dead sons, pre-k teacher – did I mention you still have like 45 minutes to go?

So while all of this was going on, Esther’s girlfriend, Anika, has been in jail.  Anika somehow finds out that Esther has been shot by a family whose son she killed, she gets tatted up for her lover, sporting Esther on her neck as a testament to her lost lady.  This is a major flaw to me because a main sticking point is that newspapers and new channels chronicling the story intentionally withheld the Michaels names, and not even the police knew who Ester was!  So how tell me then, does Anika know from watching TV or reading a news story that it was Esther who was killed?  Doesn't make much sense to me.

Eventually we get an Anika and Melanie throw down (after Melanie watches Anika masturbate though), a few more dragged out dreamy sequences of Melanie spiraling into crazy  – and some terrible acting (or was it the writing) from Kristina Klebe (Anika) end out the movie.

So it’s no surprise to me that I mostly felt like I was spinning around in circles. I wanted off the ride - and it's a shame, because I was begging to get on at first.