Archive for January, 2009


Film Quickie: "Dead Snow"

Huh? “Dead Snow”, you say? That’s sounds pretty lame, right? Well, yeah, I guess it does, but then it’s supposed to sound a bit lame, and just the tinsy, tiniest bit awesome. I’ve watched this Norwegian Nazi-zombie-horror-splatter-comedy two times now, and man, let me tell you something: It’s hilarious. Downright gut-wrenchingly hilarious, even, and since you Yanks are getting your taste of this film pretty soon (it’s gotten rave reviews out of Sundance and picked up a distributor), I thought it prudent to say some words about this precious little thing I love so much.

I don’t normally review Norwegian films, nor do I normally make much fuzz about my beloved zombie flicks.. For every “28 Days Later” and “Shaun of the Dead” there’s Romero’s latest fiasco and Hollywood’s lame attempts at PG-13 horror-zombie films, and I also know that most of you who read my blog aren’t horror fans (yes, I’m talking to you. Don’t look so damned surprised and wipe that damn smirk off your face, won’t you?).It’s not that it’s a genre that’s particularly hard to get right.Take some good-looking teenagers, stick ‘em in a shopping mall/abandoned building block/ in a cabin / what-have-you, and proceed to watch them get digested one at a time for at least an hour and a half. Spoiler alert: it’s usually the black guy who dies first.

“Dead Snow” doesn’t really remake any of those staples. It’s about a group of medical students who wants to spend their Easter holiday in the mountains. It just so happens that this particular mountain – the one with their cabin on it – has some pretty bad history. When WWII was nearly over and the Krauts were high-tailing it outta Norway’s beautiful countryside, one of the regiments tried to get the most out of the chaos. They started stealing all the valuables from the locals, who in turn got mad and chased the nazi-buggers off into the mountains. Where they presumably froze to death…

Or did they?

Ahem…. Well, I guess you’re all seeing where this is going. Teenagers go to cabin. Teenagers gets visited by local person who tells them creepy story. Teenagers shrugs it off, regrets it dearly and whoop-de-do, you’ve got a Nazi-zombie-horror-splatter-comedy.

And I think it’s pretty damn good one. Not exactly Oscar-material, but it’s not like that means anything, and while it doesn’t tackle themes deeper than “Things You Haven’t Seen Done With Intestines Before”, it’s still pretty darn funny. And that was, after all, the main point. It’s also got some pretty horrific stuff (flying brains) and some downright silly stuff, but they never waver too far from the main story-line. It’s a tight rope to walk, but they do it incredibly well, and that’s pretty much way I think this film will do well for itself in the States.

Other parts of the movie is pretty bad though, but a foreigner won’t notice the stiff dialogue as much as I did. They’ll just see a another zombie film, but with Nazi-zombies.

Now ain’t that something else?

7.0 /10 ( very, very weak)

(Okay so it should get a lower grade but it’s my blog, so you can all just suck it :) )

Slumdog Millionaire

What this is: “Slumdog Millionaire” is a movie, and not just any movie at that. It’s the one that – along with “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” – is in the lead to take home the award for Best Film at the Oscars. Now, I know what you’re all thinking; we haven’t gotten the nomination list yet, and why the hell aren’t you putting “The Dark Knight” up there with ‘em? Well, I would of course love to see The Dark Knight win the award, but frankly? It’s not going to happen.

The reasons for that are manifold and varied, and I won’t get into all of them right here. Except one reason that I will get into, namely the genius of the movie that is “Slumdog Millionaire” (directed by Danny Boyle of “Sunshine” and “28 Days Later” fame).

What it’s about: The film is, like every good piece of entertainment, about a lot of different things. The first thing you need to know is that the movie is set in India, which gives it a unique feel to us Westerners. The second thing you need to know is that the movie revolves around three kids – two boys and a girl. They call themselves the three musketeers (after the Dumas book, not the movie adaptation), and the first part of the movie is about them growing up together in the slums of India. The story is framed by having one of the musketeers – the main character – partaking in the Indian version of “Who Wants To Be a Millionaire?”.

The entire movie actually kicks off with him being tortured by the police because he has managed to answer every question correctly, which seems a bit suspicious given his total lack of education. But he didn’t cheat; he just knew the answers. “Slumdog Millionaire” tells us how he did it, but more importantly, it tells one of the most human and touching love stories I’ve seen in ages.

The execution: I’m going to say some words about pacing now, because this movie is a perfect example of what perfect directing and story editing can achieve when properly applied. I’ve seen all the rumoured big batters of 2008, except perhaps Clint Eastwoods’ “Gran Torino”, and “Slumdog Millionaire” is the only one where I felt like every single aspect of the movie mouldedf so perfectly together that I was afraid to blink in case I’d miss a single second. “The Dark Knight” is perhaps more my kind of story, but it’s not flawless in this aspect (I should know; I’ve watched it six times now), and “The Wrester” and “Benjamin Button” are downright boring in places. If “Slumdog Millionaire” is anything, it’s entertaining.

It’s also heartbreaking. Everything from the characters’ childhood to their individual fates and the all-encompassing love story made me feel with them in a way I seldom do with movies. Normally I don’t care much if the boy gets the girl – I usually tend to just sit back and see whether the story is well done or not – but damn me if Danny Boyle gave me a choice this time around. I loved the people I was supposed to love and hated the people I should hate. That’s a clear sign of quality any day of the week.

Now, it was a bit weird to have the characters switch constantly between Indian (?) and English, but with India being a long-time colony, I suppose it’s plausible that even slumdogs could pick the language up. That’s just nitpicking though; it probably has more to with the fact that they wanted to make some money off the film and couldn’t have it all in a foreign language. If the Academy saw too many subtitles they’d probably chuck ‘em into the “Best Foreign Film” category…

Conclusion: “Slumdog Millionaire” is probably the best movie made in 2008. It’s not the one I liked the best or the one I’ll re watch the most, but from a technical standpoint, it outdoes its competition with ease. Do you like good love stories, or just good stories in general?

Well, do you? Because if so, this one should be right up your alley.

9.5/10

What a great show this is.

I mean, “great” doesn’t really cover it, but it’s a fair beginning, since “The Sopranos” starts off kind of sluggishly. And by that I don’t mean that it starts off poorly, just that it doesn’t play up to what you’d expect a show about a mobster-family would be. Mention the Cosa Nostra and pictures of Al Pacino, Marlon Brando and a dead horse’s head flashes before my eyes. I think of “The Godfather” trilogy, I envision the countless Scorsese films I’ve seen over the years…

But I certainly didn’t picture that a show about a mobster family from New Jersey would be anything like “The Sopranos”. Comparetively, this show is far closer to stuff like “Mad Men” (not so peculiar since Matthew Weiner is the mastermind behind both series) and “The Wire” than any mobster-related project you could put “The Sopranos” next to.

That isn’t a bad thing, though. It just means that it’s kind of tough to get used to the series, but when you do… wow, you’re in for something out of the ordinary. It’ll come as no surprise that this series has some of the best character-work ever shown on television, and the seasons are very steady in quality. There are very few downs and a whole lot of ups, and by the end of season six I was totally in love with every aspect of this show.

I loved the way it made me care for the characters I liked, while also making it damn near impossible to blow off the characters I hated. ‘Cause while there are characters here that are amazingly irritating and stupid, I just couldn’t find it in me hate ‘em properly. I think that’s a testament to the extent this series managed to portray humanity in a way that few have done before and after it.

That being said, it isn’t a perfect show. It’s got some very weird arcs, some plain stupid arcs and some arcs that turned out to be totally unneccessary. I won’t list ‘em here, ’cause frankly I can’t remember ‘em all any more, but it was frustrating to have the show build up tention and then just let the air out of the balloon when the final episodes came around. I guess the keyword here is “epic”. This show lacked a bit in scale compared to the setting it had, and while it’s always fun to watch a really fucking good soap opera, I’d have preferred it if the writers had aimed a bit higher.

But then it wouldn’t have been “The Sopranos”. It would’ve been something else entirely, so perhaps I should just take my foot out of my mouth and wrap this baby up with:

This is a great show. Watch it & love it & cry some tears when Journey kicks in on the last episode.

Yeah, that sounds about right.

Overall rating: 9.0/10 (strong)

It’s coming.

Only it’s not coming for another couple of months, when I’ll do a mighty fine essay on my experiences in the medium.  After having spent approximately a year reading nearly nothing but graphic novels, I feel like I’m finally getting the hang of the finer points of the art. It’s been great, and hopefully I’ll be able to pass on something of what I’ve learned.

In other news; expect a new feature here at A Slight Apocalypse in the weeks up until “Dollhouse” premieres on the 13th of February (and yes, the fact that Dollhosue tests its sea legs on Friday the 13th does indeed worry me. I’m not generally superstitious, butJoss Whedon productions airing on FOX do seem rather cursed, don’t they?).

But back on track again: The new feature will be a once-a-week review of a Whedon project. That means there’s going to be Buffy, Angel and Firefly reviews again! Oh yes, this’ll be fun.

And who knows, maybe I’ll review a comic instead of an episode…

Where's Waldo?

Do you remember those great “Where’s Waldo” pictures? Wasn’t that super fun? I could do that stuff all day long, or at least as long as I actually could find the striped bastard. Imagine if Waldo were to hide somewhere on the ‘tubes and you’d have to find him, and exactly him. Google picture search would do you no good at all.

So, for those of you who don’t like playing “Where’s Waldo?”, or more precisely in this instance, “Where’s Amras?”, I’ve devised a little cheat that you can see on the left sidebar. Those are my online hangouts, so feel free to stop by so you can plot my downfall better. Yes, I know you want to.

If you’re here for reviews, I strongly recommend you to keep track of my Twitter account. There’ll be a lot more reviews to come over there, all though none of them what you’d call “in depth”. But then again, that’s not the words I’d use about my other reviews either, so I think we’re in the clear here.

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