Monday, January 22, 2007

Episode 9

House Of Wax - Six young adults (teenagers, maybe?) are driving across the state (don't ask me which one) to a football game in two vehicles. They stop in the middle of the woods to sleep overnight and set up camp, drinking and having sex like young people do. When a strange truck pulls up to their campsite, one of them gets pissed and throws a beer bottle at the truck, breaking it's headlight and causing it to retreat. The next morning, one of their vehicles won't start, so while four of them go ahead to the game, boyfriend and girlfriend (Elisha Cuthbert and Jared Padalecki) hitch a ride with a creepy guy who plays with roadkill, who takes them into a small town to buy a new fan belt. As they explore the town, waiting for the owner of the garage to return, they stumble upon a Wax Museum that is literally built out of wax, with incredibly detailed wax people inside. As night falls, they are attacked by a psychopath(s?) with a penchant for coating humans in wax, which is why the sculptures are so convincing. Eventually, the other four young'uns realize their friends are missing, so they head back to find them. Blood and guts ensue. You're probably asking yourself, "What in the world would make you want to watch House Of Wax?" Well, the answer to that question, as with many of the movies that I see, would be a recommendation from a friend. My immediate impression of House Of Wax was that since Paris Hilton was in it, it couldn't possibly be good. This was my reaction because if she couldn't even make a sex tape worth watching, what would be the point in watching something she's not nude in? Well, as I quickly found out while watching House Of Wax, Paris Hilton can suck really hard (no pun intended), but if the movie she's in is good enough, she won't make it completely unwatch-able. For the first half hour or so of this movie, it was a pretty standard horror film. Lots of dumb twenty-somethings and a ton of foreshadowing. However, as soon as the first drop of blood is spilled, I was surprised to find that I wasn't watching just any shitty slasher flick. For the most part, the death/gore scenes in House Of Wax are incredibly well done to the point that instead of being comical, they're disturbing. Take, for instance, when all the lights are turned out in a room where Elisha Cuthbert's boyfriend is trapped and as he bangs on the door calling for help, someone opens a trap door on the floor just behind him and slashes his achilles tendon open with a pair of scissors. Another fine example of a teeth-clenching moment is when, instead of merely taping Cuthbert's mouth shut or stuffing a gag in her mouth, the villain super glue's her lips closed. The only truly ridiculous death was Paris', which was as funny as it was relieving, because she was now out of the picture. The acting (aside from Hilton) was overall very good for a teen horror film, and particularly impressive was Chad Michael Murray, who played Elisha Cuthbert's badass jerk of an older brother. There are some great twists and revelations throughout the movie, and the ending employed such a great idea to make it more intense that I was in awe. House Of Wax is definitely worth a watch if you like good horror movies. There are, of course, people who only like bad ones, but they might like it as well.

Ali G Indahouse - Sacha Baron Cohen reprises his role of wannabe gangster Ali G from the British television program Da Ali G Show. Unlike his role in the show, however, which had Ali G performing interviews with people who were knowledgeable about different topics from sex to politics, Indahouse's Ali G is nothing more than a loser who teaches a class at a local youth center on how to be gangsta. When it is announced that the youth center is going to be demolished, thus leaving Ali's class with no place to meet, he takes his protest to the street. It is there that he is discovered by Chancellor Carlton (Charles Dance), who enlists him as an aid to the Prime Minister (Michael Gambon). Carlton's hope is that Ali G will make the Prime Minister look so bad in the public eye, that he'll be removed from office so that he may take his place. This is your stereotypical Adam Sandler/Chris Farley brand comedy about a moron who ends up saving the day through a series of ridiculous scenarios, most of which are perceived as idiotic only by the evildoer behind the entire situation (in this case, the Chancellor). I was immediately put off by the fact that Ali G Indahouse was an actual movie with a plot and a script, unlike Da Ali G Show or Borat (who is another character played by Sacha Baron Cohen, even making an appearance in this film), which are based around interacting with people who aren't aware that a joke is being played on them by someone of normal intelligence as opposed to the complete fool who Cohen portrays. The movie, while not necessarily disappointing, fell victim to the flaws that all movies of it's kind eventually do. However, Indahouse manages to place itself among movies such as Half Baked and Tommy Boy, which are hilarious despite their shared, over-used central concept. The main reason for this is that the actor(s) in the lead role, like Chris Farley and Dave Chapelle did with the previously mentioned films, takes his part and soars with it. Scenes begin to make you laugh moreso because of the way they are handled by the comedian than because of the situations themselves. As such, for every time I shook my head in disappointment at a stupid and/or obvious joke, I also found myself chuckling at the way Cohen delivered it. Ali G is certainly not for everyone. You must have at least a small appreciation for British culture to enjoy his comedy, which is not to say that Ali G Indahouse is comprised of stereotypical British humor. You must also not be offended by 'offensive' humor, as every scene in this movie is littered with it. To have a good time in front of your television, give Ali G Indahouse a watch and prepare to laugh, but feel stupid doing it.

Lady In The Water - I wouldn't say that I'm a fan of M. Night Shayamalan. If you watch more than two of his movies (Lady In The Water, The Village, Signs, Unbreakable, and The Sixth Sense), you'll quickly realize that his writing is repetitive and his directing is not bad, but nothing to write home about. I've seen all of his films since The Sixth Sense in chronological order, and thus far have liked every other one, beginning with Unbreakable, and skipping over Signs to The Village. Process of elimination will tell you, then, that I did not enjoy Lady In The Water. In the movie, Paul Giamatti plays the owner/superintendant of an apartment building. Investigating a series of breaches in the rules regarding the building's pool, Giamatti discovers that there is a water nymph living in a small room beneath his pool named Story (Dallas Bryce howard). She's not just any water nymph, though. She's a queen to her people, which explains why there's a wolf-like creature made of grass that wants to kill her before she can be picked up by a giant eagle and flown back to her home called the Blue World. Only two things can stop the grass-wolf-creature. One is Story's guardian, who doesn't know who he/she is, and the other is a group of three creatures who all go by the same name and appear to be monkeys made out of tree bark. There are also other people who are supposed to help get Story home. There's a healer, a psychic, and some others who I can't remember, but don't really seem to be too important. Sound confusing? That's because it is. Watching the special features on the Lady In The Water DVD, I discovered that the plot for the movie was devised by Shayamalan over an unspecified number of nights as he made it up off the top of his head as a bedtime story for his kids. No wonder there are so many confusing and unnecessary plot twists and story deviations in the movie. The way everyone in the movie non-chalantly throws around the names and meanings of all the fantasy creatures and locales, it's almost like half of the time Shayamalan expects the audience to already know the fairy tale before they engage themselves in the film. The other half of the time the characters stand around and discuss what's going on over and over for so long that it's obvious that Shayamalan is trying desperately to keep the audience up to speed, which must have been tough to do because no single plot thread seems to last for more than ten minutes before something completely different takes over and makes you forget what was going on. Also, I'm not sure if M. Night was trying to make a kid's movie or a horror film. The movie is incredibly dark and foreboding, yet the events that occur often seem as though they're geared directly at children who won't care if what they're seeing doesn't make sense. I mean, there's a character in the movie who exercises every day, but only one side of his body so that his left arm and leg are normal while the ones on the right could have rivaled Arnold Schwarzenegger's when he was in his prime. So, before I divulge too many more of Lady In The Water's faults in case anyone still wants to see it, there's one more thing I have to complain about. M. Night Shayamalan almost always includes himself in a small role in his movies, which I think is cool. I like when a writer/director appears in his/her own movies. Quentin Tarantino, Stephen King, and even Stan Lee are well known for doing this, and I usually enjoy their cameos. However, with Lady in The Water, Shayamalan (who is not a very talented actor) placed himself in a role that garnered just as much screen time as any of the other ancillary characters, and in many cases, more. His over-acting became very annoying very quickly. Just one more thing Lady In The Water didn't have going for it.

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