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‘Room 237’ Movie Review

Reviewing movies can be a subjective process. Either you like what you saw or you don’t. You’d think that analyzing movies would be similar. If Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson) throws a tennis ball against a wall at the hotel, he must be bored and experiencing writer’s block, right? Perhaps, but what if that wall is covered in a Navajo tapestry. Could that mean Jack is actually meant to represent the “white” man’s slaughter of American Indians as they settled this country? That’s the type of questions this movie posts to viewers. The only problem, I’m not sure it succeeds on every level.

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My anticipation for this film was high. “The Shining” is definitely in my top ten films I could watch again and again. The fascinating thing is you typically catch something new on each viewing. The director of “Room 237”, Rodney Ascher has a similar outlook and lets five “Shining” enthusiasts spew exactly what they’ve picked up on since the film’s release in 1980.

**Warning spoilers ahead**

Here’s where I start to have a bit of an issue with this documentary and I will openly admit maybe my previous knowledge of “The Shining” impaired my enjoyment more than I expected. The theories are not that new and some a bit flimsy.

I’ll start with the aforementioned allegory for the genocide of American Indians. Theorist Bill Blakemore suggests that the use of the “Calumet” cans of foods inside the pantry and Danny Torrance’s subsequent mind-reading during one early scene are shown to illustrate this. Later, the hotel’s manager talks about it being built over an Indian burial ground. Makes sense. Blakemore also mentions the line when Jack first takes a sip of alcohol from his ghostly barkeep calling it the “white man’s burden” aka guilt over the massacre of thousands.  However, what bothered me is that Blakemore fails to talk about several other symbols that back up this theory. The previously mentioned throwing of the tennis ball at the tapestry or how Wendy’s apparel and hair are similar to that of an American Indian woman throughout much of the film. Really, this theory does hold some water, but it may have only been one of Kubrick’s intentions for the movie.

Other theories range from Kubrick using “The Shining” as a metaphor for the holocaust (heavily numerical-based) to Kubrick secretly telling the audience he helped to fake the Apollo moon-landing. The latter, while intriguing seems incredibly far-fetched. That comes from conspiracy theorist Jay Weidner. He contends Kubrick hid clues about the moon-landing in many of his films and not just “The Shining.”

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One of the biggest things I did not like about the film was the basic format. The theorists are introduced by text on screen, but we never see them. The voices then pop up again without any on-screen text as the film jumps around from theory to theory. I feel like Ascher could have benefited from a little more structure here.

Ascher also uses a lot of stock footage (often repeated several times) and clips from old movies. Many are not even referenced and the audience is left wondering why are we seeing a clip from “Eyes Wide Shut” altered to include a super-imposed poster of “The Shining?” If we are analyzing “The Shining”, show the “The Shining!”

And that leads me to my major gripe and disappointment of this documentary. While the theories are at times interesting and potentially intended, few have anything to do with the actual storyline of the movie. There is so much going on in this film, so many continuity errors and chances for inner meaning. Is the hotel actually haunted? Or is it all in Jack’s head? Or is it all in Wendy’s? Does the film jump around in time? That’s something I’ve theorized in the past which you can check out here.  One of the theorists in Ascher’s documentary Juli Kearns touches upon some of the inconsistencies, but is not heard from nearly as much as the others.

I applaud Ascher’s undertaking and devotion to “The Shining”, but after all the hype I expected his execution would have been better. Perhaps someone else will be inspired to make a more thorough documentary. After all this film always leaves “Room” for interpretations. Maybe even “237” of them.

posted by Seth Szilagyi in The Shining and have No Comments

Five Reasons Bale Should Not Return To ‘Batman’

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“The Dark Knight Rises” was a satisfying and largely well-received end to the “Dark Knight” trilogy. So, why would Christian Bale and director Christopher Nolan return to the world of “Batman?” Well, the quick answer would be simple. Money. Earlier this week, Latino Review reported that Bale would likely return as the Caped Crusader in the upcoming “Justice League” project. Which sounds like it would, at the very least, include both Superman and Batman fighting the forces of evil. The same site also claims that Nolan is now in full control of the DC Comics universe for Warner Bros. He is the executive producer of the upcoming “Man of Steel”, but it seems odd for Nolan to completely dedicate himself to superhero movies. I mean, the man behind “Inception”, “Memento” and “The Prestige” must have other cool stories to tell, right?

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While I would pay to watch anything Nolan put out in theaters, I must admit the idea of a Batman/Superman movie does not really make much sense to me. Especially, with Bale back as Batman.  Here are five reasons, why one of the world’s best actors should stay far away from the role that made him a household name.

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1. The Avengers was stupid. A Justice League movie may be even dumber.

I’m sorry to say this Marvel fanboys and Joss Whedon (who I like), the movie was a giant mess. It had a few funny moments, but overall it just seemed like a CGI cartoon. Actually, I shouldn’t even say cartoon because most cartoons are better than “The Avengers.” And that ending??? Don’t get me started. I realize I’m definitely in the minority in that assessment which is why a “Justice League” movie is being made. Again, money. But seriously look at “The Dark Knight Rises” and compare it to “The Avengers.” The quality between the two is not close.

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2. The Dark Knight Rises, then retires, then rises again?

Correct me if I’m wrong, but in Chrstopher Nolan’s Batman universe, Bruce Wayne wiggles his way out of a nuclear blast and retires to the Italian coast with Selina Kyle aka Catwoman. Or, if you’re a conspiracy theorist, he actually died in the explosion and Alfred was just dreaming that sequence at the end. Either way, it would seem highly unlikely given the emotional heft of the ending that Bruce would choose to head back to Gotham and fight more bad guys. Especially since he seemingly handed over the reins to Detective Blake (Joseph Gordon-Levitt). Which brings me to the next reason.

3. If Batman is dead or retired, does that mean it would be a prequel? Because they suck.

Name me one good prequel and I will gladly hand over a hundred bucks. The concept, was popularized by “The Phantom Menace” the biggest letdown in cinematic history. Since, there has been a handful of misfires 2002’s “Red Dragon” to the Oscar-winning “Silence of the Lambs”, “X-Men Origins: Wolverine”, pretty much any of the “Fast and Furious” movies and last summer’s head-scratcher “Prometheus.”

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Oh and don’t try to cite “Temple of Doom.” That doesn’t count.

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If it was a prequel where would you fit in the fact that Batman meets Superman in the year-and-a-half that he’s fighting Gotham baddies? That is roughly the timeline between “Batman Begins” and “The Dark Knight.” After he takes the fall for Two-Face, he vanishes for eight years before “The Dark Knight Rises.”

4. Just because something works in a comic book, doesn’t mean it will work in a movie.

Nolan created a realistic take on Batman. Nearly everything in the movies (in theory) could happen. There weren’t any ridiculous sequences or moments where Bruce Wayne had superhuman strength. How would Superman (an alien) fit into that world? Take “The Dark Knight Returns” for example.

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In the Frank Miller story, Batman fights Superman using an exoframe suit to combat the man impervious to pain. Can you see Bale doing that and seeming believable? I can’t. I mean really, if you have Superman around who needs Batman? Unless you have a man-cave of Kryptonite, Superman is pretty much unbeatable. Whereas Batman is a good fighter, but in reality relies on his gadgets to fight crime. I’ve never been a big comic book reader (kind of a strange hole in my geek fandom), so maybe that’s the problem. It’s a “it’s not you, it’s me” situation. I wonder if fans of the actual comics are more accepting of superheroes working together or appearing in the same realms.

5. Both Nolan and Bale said The Dark Knight Rises was the last Batman film they would do.

Both the director and actor clearly stated during press coverage for “The Dark Knight Rises” that they would not be heading back to Gotham for a fourth go-around. Nolan told EW back in 2010…

“I must say that I’m glad — I’m very, very glad — to be embarking on the last chapter of our Batman saga without any sense of obligation or duty to the studio. They did very well with Inception. So I’m able to go into finishing our story in a very enthusiastic way.”

Bale also expressed his desire to move on, but did hedge his bets by telling Empire Magazine last summer…

“My understanding is that this is the last one. I think it’s appropriate, I think it’s going out at the right time. But … if Chris came to me with a script and said, ‘You know what? There is another story’ then I would love the challenge of making a fourth one work.”

While I like the character of Superman, Batman is pretty much my favorite. Seeing Bale back as the Dark Knight would certainly be cool, but frankly, at what cost? To me it would really take a franchise based in reality and turn it on its head. Or in this case, cowl.

 

posted by Seth Szilagyi in Batman,Comic Book Movies,Indiana Jones,Superman and have Comment (1)

‘The Dark Knight Rises’ Review

Going into the summer, this was the only film I really wanted to see. Christopher Nolan and Christian Bale have created a Batman that may never be matched and perhaps, never should be. So, to say I was eager to watch “The Dark Knight Rises” would be an understatement. But on the day of its release, all of that changed. A horrific and cowardly act of violence at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado forever linked itself to this piece of cinema. Now, this wasn’t about me enjoying myself or being entertained. This was about lives lost, families torn apart, hearts broken. Knowing how much pain those people were going through, the thought of seeing a movie just didn’t feel right. But after a few days passed, it occurred to me; this wasn’t about the film. It was about a gutless psychopath with a bunch of guns who targeted unarmed people. It could have happened anywhere, at anytime to anyone. For reasons we’ve yet to figure out, he chose a movie theater.

The movie theater for many is meant to be a sanctuary of sorts. A place of fantasy, whimsy and escape. A window into another world, if only for a few hours. So, I begrudgingly allowed myself to go. To try and flee from the harsh realities I hear about everyday in the news. The unlawful, the corrupt, the hateful. Ironically, that is exactly what this film is all about.

“Rises” begins 8 years after “The Dark Knight.” Gotham City is relatively peaceful and Batman has gone into hiding. Harvey Dent was credited for the city’s turnaround, while the caped crusader was blamed for his death and many others. Still, there is a darkness lurking underneath Gotham and his name is Bane. Tom Hardy from Nolan’s “Inception” plays the brute with brains. He wears a mask that could be mistaken for a tarantula exploding out of his mouth. Bane is singular in his mission, destroy Gotham. Performance-wise, Hardy’s Bane does not come close to Heath Ledger’s Joker, but in a lot of ways Bane is a better villain. While the Joker just wanted to cause chaos, Bane has a well-thought out plan to take down the infrastructure of the city. Plus, Bane’s physicality is relentless and cannot be matched. Bane is pure evil.

Anne Hathaway is another bright spot. She may look like the girl next door, but she’s nearly as vicious and treacherous as Bane. I’ve seen Hathaway in a few films where her acting comes off a bit hollow, that does not happen here. She’s believable as a conflicted woman caught between a life of crime and the crusade to get her life back.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt (another Inception alum) gives a strong performance as police officer John Blake. Gary Oldman and Morgan Freeman are also back and steady as always for the third go-around as Commissioner Gordon and Lucius Fox. 

And in my humble opinion (one the Academy will probably not agree with) Christian Bale and Michael Caine give Oscar-worthy turns as Batman and his loyal butler, Alfred. Bruce Wayne has fallen on hard times, partially crippled and on the verge of losing his fortune. Alfred begs him to give up the cape and cowl and focus on philanthropic opportunities away from his alter-ego. The rift creates several emotion scenes between the characters. And when Caine is not in the picture, Bale is perfect as a broken man (at one point literally) desperately searching to make things right.

I can’t reveal too much about the plot without giving away spoilers, but it’s epic in scope. Think class warfare, nuclear bombs and an exploding football field. My lone nitpick would be that it’s a tad slow in a few spots for an action movie, though it seems welcome after virtual non-stop action in “The Dark Knight.” In nearly every other aspect this film shines and then some. And gives an emotional, poignant and satisfying end to this series. It’s not easy to make one good film, let alone three.

So, as the final credits rolled, I was glad I went to see “The Dark Knight Rises”, despite what happened in Colorado. Because as a society, we need the movie theater and I say this without the least bit of sarcasm, we need Batman. He’s a human character just like you or I. He has no special powers like Superman, Spiderman or the Hulk. Yet, he still stands up against hate-filled thugs, against guns and the violence they inevitably bring. It seems more often than not, this world could use a dark knight of its own.

Please keep the victims of the Aurora shooting in your thoughts and prayers. Composer Hans Zimmer created a new song dedicated to the tragedy. You can listen to a clip here and donate any amount of money. 100% of the proceeds go to a fund for the victims.

 

posted by Seth Szilagyi in Batman,Comic Book Movies,Inception and have No Comments

‘Gone With The Wind?’

An historic movie theater in Maine struggles to find its place in modern cinema.

It’s the summer of 1977 and Ogunquit, Maine is teeming with tourists. Flip-flop wearing beach bums are strolling down Main Street, a few families grab an ice cream and go for a picturesque walk along the Marginal Way, while others hit the chilly and choppy waters of the Atlantic. But as the sun sets and the street lights begin to glow, another attraction catches the eyes of red-faced vacationers; the town’s movie house, the Leavitt Theatre.

The original “Star Wars” is opening for the first time in the seaside burg and the Leavitt’s new owner, Peter Clayton, is trying to avoid a disaster; not being able to show the hit film to a sold out crowd.

“I was at the bus station and the bus was late,” Peter recalls. “And I finally got the film and I was stuck in traffic on the turnpike. I think I came running into the theater at about 7:30 with these two big heavy cans of film and everyone was about to leave and they were like ‘when is this show ever going to start?’ ”

Thankfully, everyone got to go to a “galaxy far, far away” that night and to hear Peter tell it, few have left the Leavitt disappointed over the last three and a half decades.

“We have never had to refund people’s money because we couldn’t run the show,” Peter told me as we sat in his office at the Leavitt Theatre; a room that, much like Peter himself, clearly has stories to tell. Movie posters and playbills of all kinds and eras line the walls and litter the floor, as do at least two or three guitars. A vintage tallying machine even sits on the desk, no doubt to count each night’s receipts, instead of simply using a computer. The auditorium serves as a stark contrast to Peter’s office. It’s a true majestic throwback with more than six hundred seats, all wooden with leather backs. The lighting is white, not neon and film tickets are of the “admit one” variety. It’s like the theater has been living in a time capsule and that’s the way Peter likes it. But unfortunately, outside the walls of the Leavitt theatre, time has moved on.

In the seventies and eighties, film was king. Home video and cable came along to play queen in the nineties, but once the internet booted up, all the cards were off the table. iPods, iPads, Netflix, On-Demand TV and hi-tech home theaters all offer quicker and sometimes better viewing experiences for consumers.

“Things have changed so much,” Peter told me. “There’s so much access to films that they’re not as special as they used to be.”

And that’s part of the reason why small, independent movie houses like the Leavitt have become an endangered species. In fact, this historic venue could be just a few years away from extinction. Built in 1923, the Leavitt started out showing silent films and is one of the oldest theatres in the country. Peter bought the place back in 1976 from a Massachusetts lawyer who left the theatre in disrepair. Over the next two decades, Peter brought the Leavitt into its heyday. He typically opens on Memorial Day weekend, goes full-time in the middle of June and then back to weekends after Labor Day. Leaf peepers may even get a chance to catch a flick in the fall, if they are willing to bundle up.

“It doesn’t have any heat and it can get pretty cold in here,” Peter explains with a wry smile. “I have a ‘bring a blanket’ sign for when it gets really cold.”

Peter’s love for this old building has spilled over into his home life. He essentially turned the theatre into a family business. His wife often helps with the concession stand. At the age of seven, his youngest son would rip tickets, and just a few years later he turned into a cashier.

“When he was probably twelve years old, he would be out in the ticket booth selling the tickets himself,” says Peter. “People would go ‘wait a minute, buying tickets from this little kid?’ He learned to deal with the public and had a great time of it.”

In addition to his offspring, Peter says the Leavitt would not be where it is without the help of one incredibly dedicated employee, Kevin Hickey. He has been a projectionist at the theatre since 1974.

“The guy who has run the projection booth since I bought the place,” Peter explains with admiration. “He has maintained the equipment spectacularly and has sort of been instrumental in keeping everything running.”

It’s this small band of brothers that has kept the Leavitt alive and profitable, but for all the blood, sweat and tears they have put in, the last grains of sand are starting to trickle down to the bottom of the hourglass.

The financial machine of Hollywood is churning faster than ever and has little use for the “mom and pops” of the movie world. The Leavitt is still a first-run theatre and in years past, several theatres used to share a new film, shipping it up and down the coast of Maine every few days. But now, many of those theatres have closed (the York Beach cinema was demolished in 2006) and Peter says most studios want him to run a movie for two weeks straight. Meaning, tourists are not given much of a selection and tend to seek out a multiplex instead.

And that is not the only studio requirement hurting the Leavitt’s bottom line. The percentage of ticket sales given to the film companies has skyrocketed. On opening weekend, it used to be split 50/50 and the amount the theatre could retain would keep going up each week. But now, it’s more of a flat rate for the film’s entire run. To Peter, the Leavitt is more than just a statistic, but he knows the film studios do not see it that way.

“There’s none of the good, old-friendly bookers in Boston, knowing that’s a good theatre in Maine,” Peter says frustrated. “Let’s make it so they can stay in business. They don’t care at all anymore.”

And it’s the last studio edict that may bring the lights down on the Leavitt for the final time. In 2013, Hollywood is doing away with 35mm prints of its films. Instead, all of the movies will be digital. Each film will be sent to theatres on a satellite, downloaded onto a hard drive and shown through a digital projector. The Leavitt’s current projectors are from the seventies and not compatible with that technology. And for Peter, an upgrade to a digital projector with a $100,000 price tag, is just not feasible.

“If I said, ‘well, now I have a digital projector,’ you think we’ll get more people to come?” Peter questions. “No. It would just not make sense to purchase one of those projectors.”

That leaves this aging movie house owner in a rather unenviable position; either sell the theatre and risk having it destroyed or drastically change how he runs the Leavitt. He has a handful of ideas, none of them ideal. Recently, he purchased a projector capable of showing blu-ray discs, hoping audiences may come to see older movies on the big screen. Peter’s also considering putting on more film festivals, booking more live acts and even getting a liquor license. Another possibility is having the Leavitt become a non-profit, an option that has worked with varying success for theatres in Booth Bay Harbor and Bar Harbor. Still, it seems, deep down, Peter realizes his days of creating movie magic in this small seaside town are nearly at an end.

“I love it as the old Leavitt movie theatre, the way it used to be,” Peter says with a sense of pride wrapped in nostalgic sadness. “I do know that people will really miss this place when it’s gone.”

posted by Seth Szilagyi in Local Cinema and have No Comments

‘The Shining’ at Coolidge Corner

It’s a film all about time and space. With that opening line, you’d think I would be talking about “2001: A Space Odyssey” or “The Fountain” or even “Back to the Future.” But in fact, I’m writing about another Stanley Kubrick classic, “The Shining.”

I’ve seen this movie at least a dozen times and each screening gives me a new perspective on it. This time out, I had the pleasure of  viewing it at the Coolidge Corner Theatre in Brookline. Taking in any vintage movie at this iconic theater just outside Boston is always an experience that’s tough to beat. They take care in showing films audiences can appreciate and often give people a unique way to see those movies. I mean where else are you going to sit in a gothic designed theater watching a 31-year-old film with a sold-out and cheering crowd? It’s a cinephile’s playground and I applaud the Coolidge for everything they bring to the community.

But back to business at the Overlook Hotel. At first blush, “The Shining” is simply an adaptation of Stephen King’s best-selling novel about a recovering alcoholic that takes a job as the winter caretaker of a potentially haunted hotel in the mountains of Colorado. It’s a well-orchestrated horror film that has several scares and creative camera shots. Certainly enough ammo to make it a cult classic. But look below the surface and you may find there’s much more here than King’s book about a man’s familial struggle.

The film is filled with inconsistencies. Many could be chalked up to careless movie making. And for the first few viewings, I believed that to be true. However, this is Stanley Kubrick. One of the most meticulous directors of all-time. The apparent “mistakes” are so many, that I find it hard to believe that such a heralded filmmaker could succumb to these obvious errors. Instead, I now believe they are all there on purpose.


Let’s start with the physical hotel itself. Looking at the exterior, many have complained there is no way what is shown as the interior could possibly exist. Especially the main room, prominently featured in the movie. From the inside, it has giant windows, but outside no such windows are visible. For whatever reason, this was definitely done on purpose. Kubrick has been quoted as saying he wanted the entire hotel to look different, like a mish-mash of hotels around the country. And what about the hedge maze? It’s nearly a character in the film, yet it’s absent from several exterior shots of the Overlook. Obviously, this could be explained away with an easy argument. A real hotel (the Timberline Lodge in Oregon) was used for those outdoor shots and that did not have a hedge maze. But would it have been so hard to shoot a maze miniature and composite it in to those sparse frames? I’m guessing not.


And the confusing hypocrisy does not end there. At the beginning of the movie, Jack meets with Mr. Ullman in the office area of the hotel. Mr. Ullman tells Jack the story of “Charles Grady” a former caretaker who kills his wife, two girls and himself. However, as Jack descends into madness, he meets up with Grady during a ballroom party at an unknown time or date. It’s seemingly the hotel showing off its “Shine”, but could Jack have actually crossed into a different time? At any rate, Grady dumps drinks on Jack and is forced to clean him up in the men’s room. During this conversation, Grady calls himself “Delbert Grady” not “Charles Grady.” Mistake? I don’t think so.


The timeline blurs further when you consider the “Rashomon” storytelling of the day Jack injured Danny’s arm while he was drunk. When the doctor visits their home at the beginning of the film, Wendy tells the doctor Jack did not have a drink since he hurt Danny five months ago. But later, Jack tells the bartender Lloyd, he has not had a drink in five months. A month after he’d been taking care of the hotel. Minutes later, Jack tells Lloyd he injured Danny three years ago, which would mean he’d been without alcohol for three years, not five months. Again, a horrible error, Jack making his situation seem worse than it was or time inconsistencies that show the hotel shifting through the decades?


Still not buying what I’m selling? How about this? At the very end, where we see Jack’s smiling face in the Fourth of July ballroom photo from 1921. We hear “Midnight, the Stars, and You.” The same song played during the ballroom scene earlier. But that song was not recorded until 1932, eleven years after that scene apparently takes place.


And can we discuss a deleted scene that ended up on the cutting room floor a week after the film was initially released? It took place at the hospital just after the shot of Jack’s frozen face next to the hedge maze. Wendy is in a bed talking with Mr. Ullman. He explains that her husband’s body could not be found and then gives Danny a yellow tennis ball, the same one that lured Danny into room 237. If his body was never found, where was it? Absorbed by the hotel? Sure, that’s the conventional view. Or did the hotel time shift again? Reverting back to a time when Jack was the good caretaker and not embodied as the wife/son killing man frozen in the snow.

So, my hypothesis is simple. The hotel is not only a place of evil, but a place that is constantly shifting throughout its history. Ghosts aren’t really ghosts, but beings popping up in a different time. And not reacting kindly to seeing others infiltrate their territory. Perhaps Jack gets stuck in the wrong year and his family is not really his family at all. After all, he’s always been the caretaker at The Overlook hotel, just like Grady (Delbert or Charles) has always been a butler. Maybe, that’s why Jack never really seems to remember when he hurt Danny, or concentrate on what he’s supposed to be doing. It’s certainly not to write a novel. But he does know one thing, he’s the caretaker.

This is just one theory. And certainly, there are cracks. But all the others have similar gaps in logic. Jack’s soul is absorbed by the hotel, much like Grady. This is the most popular and most sensible. But, was he always there? That just brings us back to time paradox and the notion of time-shifts.

One wild theory that goes along with the deleted scene I mentioned earlier. The possibility that Wendy was the insane one. She imagined all of Jack’s madness and she was the actual winter caretaker. Hence, his body never being found.

Or, Jack’s lack of alcohol, cabin fever and temper just cause him to lose it. You may notice, any time Jack talks to the ghosts, he’s looking in some sort of mirror. The real ghost lies within? A theme this past year’s “Black Swan” used very well.

And all this discussion, this excessive analysis is precisely why “The Shining” is such a great movie. Intentional or not, the contradictions, bizarre moments and head-scratchers give the audience something to argue about long after its director is gone. Was it all done with a grand blueprint in mind or just a filmmaker throwing out several questions without any real answer? Something that could leave moviegoers just as mad as Jack trapped in the mountains of Colorado with only space and time to keep them company.


posted by Seth Szilagyi in Local Cinema and have No Comments

‘Star Wars’ & ‘Lost’ Deleted Scenes, ‘Jurassic Park 4’ and ‘The Dark Knight Rises’

When Comic-Con rolls around in San Diego each summer, it reaps some of the biggest movie news of the year. Tops on my list so far, this trailer of deleted scenes from the Original Trilogy of Star Wars. I have seen clips of some of it, but a few scenes like Han in the Endor bunker, R2-D2 being chased by a Wampa and parts of the sandstorm are definitely new. Check it out and thanks to Comingsoon.net for the imbed.

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This next clip started a fake fight between “Lost” producers Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse this week on Twitter. The pair went back and forth arguing over its release to hype things up. Then dressed as “Star Wars” characters, the pair answered questions about the show from fans at Comic Con. Finally, they unveiled this scene.

Obviously, it’s a joke. I think it’s the producers way of apologizing for their own work or at least poking fun at their own abstract explanation of all things mystical island. Kind of rings a little hollow for me. If they’ve been standing behind what they did with the show for this long, seems a little wrong to go back on it now. Or maybe I just didn’t think it was that funny.

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It seems a fourth “Jurassic Park” movie is just a few years away. Although, I’m not sure I really care that much. The original was so groundbreaking because audiences had never seen anything like it before. Plus, the story was relatively strong with the kids probably being the most annoying part. However, “Lost World” and the third installment were less than stellar. Going for too much bang and too little story development.

Either way, the director of the first two films, Steven Spielberg told audiences at Comic-Con,

We have a story. We have a writer working on the script, and I think we will see a ‘Jurassic IV’ in our foreseeable future, probably in the next two or three years.”

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And we got our first look at one of the most anticipated movies of 2012 this week. The teaser for “The Dark Knight Rises” was released. It doesn’t show a whole heck of a lot, but judging from the clip, Batman has gone into hiding and a new villain, Bane, is tearing apart Gotham City. And putting Commissioner Gordon (Gary Oldman) in the hospital. I’ve never been a big fan of the character Bane, but in Christopher Nolan we trust, right? I thought casting Heath Ledger as the Joker was a mistake before seeing the final product. I could not have been more wrong on that one. Anyway, take a look.




posted by Seth Szilagyi in Batman,Jurassic Park,Lost,Star Wars and have No Comments

‘Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows Part 2″ Review

I did not grow up reveling in all things “Harry Potter” like the current crop of college grads and twenty-somethings. But as an older (not that old, I hope) fan of the series, it was a big part of my life for the past decade. So, it certainly carries a certain weight when something of this magnitude finishes its final chapter.


Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson have turned into adults before our eyes and the material they are asked to portray on-screen has become equally mature. Death has become a regularity since book four and now we’ve turned to all-out war.


The film begins right where the first installment left off. At the grave of Dobby, the brave house elf, killed in the waning moments of part one. The difficult part about turning “Hallows” into two parts; it made for a dramatic and emotional end to the first movie, but gets us off to a bit of a scuffle for the second installment. Harry hatches his plan for a Gringotts Bank invasion, but he must convince an untrustworthy Goblin to do it. Once he, Ron and Hermione break into the well-sealed walls, things really begin to take off, literally. A wild cart ride through subterranean caverns, a horcrux heist and an escape on a blind dragon shift the film into high-gear.

One big question for me heading into this film was how director David Yates would pull off the over-abundance of exposition from the J.K. Rowling book. He does it off brilliantly, taking several scenes involving Voldemort and lumping them together, creating a new one involving Professor Snape and letting others breathe as they did in the book.


Another significant change, the final duel between Harry and Voldemort. It’s just a few lines in the book, but it’s an explosive showdown in the film. I enjoyed the extra action here, although I’m a little suspicious that much of it was done just to appease the studio and their obsession for 3D. Of course, all the blasts and bruises between the pair make the ultimate moment of He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named’s death a small letdown. But, that’s to be expected.


The finale of the most-profitable film franchise in history shines in many phases and it becomes brightest during scenes of emotion and tenderness. The origin story of Snape, the deaths of prominent characters and the triumph over pure evil all tug at the heartstrings. Did I shed a tear? Only the tweens sitting behind me and cheering every other moment know for sure.


Turning one bestseller into a hit movie is hard enough, let alone making seven into eight. I will hand it to all the directors and especially the acting trio of Radcliffe, Grint and Watson, they haven’t just accomplished something great over the past ten years, but something magical.

posted by Seth Szilagyi in Harry Potter and have No Comments

New Music

The new Death Cab For Cutie disc was the only exciting music release in recent months and even that was a minor disappointment. So, to say I am ridiculously excited about finding an intriguing and quite different band in the last 24 hours would be an understatement. I’m not sure if I’m momentarily enamored with “AWOLnation” or it will be a long-lasting relationship, but at this point I can’t get a number of their songs out of my head. The band’s exact style is tough to describe, but it ranges from melodic, to hip-hop, to electro-pop to a type of synth-based metal. Either way, it has my ear at the moment. Take a listen.



Yes, that last song is 12 minutes long and a mashup of about 8 different genres. Their album Megalithic Symphony is nothing if not experimental and daring.

Not quite as strong overall, but still a decent find “The Naked and the Famous.” This New Zealand band has a defined genre and it is snyth, electro-pop. But they do it quite well. A lot of people compare them to Miike Snow. I don’t get that from their sound. Here are a few of my favorite tunes from them. Let the foot-tapping commence.



posted by Seth Szilagyi in Music News and have No Comments

‘Super 8’ Review

For most, youth carries with it a time when everything is safe, fun and interesting. There is always something new, something to look forward to; life has only just begun. I guess that’s why I see a movie like “Super 8” with both sadness and admiration. Sadness for not being able to relive those days and admiration for giving me the next best thing.


Director J.J. Abrams and his mentor producer Steven Spielberg have created a film that feels like it belongs during a different age of movies, before overrated special effects and the amount of explosions sold tickets. Films were based on characters, the special effects were secondary. Sometimes they looked good, sometimes they did not, but you accepted them because the story was strong.

And that’s where “Super 8” soars, in its characters.


Set in 1979, a group of friends witnesses a horrible train crash while trying to make a zombie flick on 8mm film. They all survive, but will the rest of the small Ohio town? The accident leads to an invasion of troops from the Air Force, bizarre disappearances and missing microwaves.

Actor Joel Courtney takes the lead as Joe Lamb. This newcomer gives audiences the perfect blend of awe and determination to make the unlikely events taking place around him believable. He reminded me a lot of the kid who played Bastian in “The Neverending Story.”

And he’s not the only star of this cast, Ryan Lee annoys you just enough as the brace-face, pyromaniac Cary; Riley Griffiths is the bossy, fat-kid directing the zombie movie-in-a-movie; Gabriel Basso was memorable as a seemingly muscular boy who is a giant wuss and Zach Mills uses his minimal screen time well, making you crack up with goofy expressions and offbeat one-liners.

The other standout, is Elle Fanning. She moves far beyond the typical damsel in distress and gives a real emotional performance as a girl coping with her father’s drinking problem and a budding romance with one of the aforementioned gents.


This teenage crew was so likeable and reminded me so much of how life was like at that age. As a viewer, you kind of wished that the whole movie was about them and their adventures, but it’s not.

As much as I enjoyed the main storyline, about these kids, the “Super 8” secret kind of got in the way. Whenever it got to a scene involving “the secret”, I just found myself yearning for more witty dialogue and funny interaction. But as with any good teen movie of the 80’s, I guess there has to be something for these kids to react to, whether it be “Monster Squad”, “Goonies” or “Gremlins.”

I obviously don’t want to give anything away, but let’s just say the device used as the MacGuffin or the “Super 8 Secret” as it’s been dubbed on Twitter, is something that is growing very tired in modern cinema. And the way it’s presented to viewers makes it hard for the eventual outcome to sit well with audiences.

“Super 8” did not disappoint. It gave me what I needed. A nostalgic voyage to a simpler time, when days felt like years, a bike ride to a friend’s house was a journey you’d never forget and a first-kiss could make your head spin. I just wish it didn’t involve…(insert secret here.)


posted by Seth Szilagyi in Super 8 and have No Comments

“We Have to Go Back!!”: A Look Back At ‘Lost’ Part 1

It’s been nearly a year since Ajira flight 316 took off from the island. Kate, Sawyer and Claire were the only original Oceanic passengers on board. Charlie had died seasons ago, Jin and Sun were lost in the sub, Hurley stayed behind and Jack served as the series tragic hero. Taking one last breath, he watched the plane fly overheard with a smile on his face, Vincent the dog by his side. A fitting end to one of televisions best dramas of all-time.


If “Lost” had ended with just that storyline, some of the uproar and “disappointment” over the finale may have avoided. But in the sixth and last season of “Lost”, the producers presented audiences with an alternate world or sideways universe as many referred to it during the season. However, neither of those theories proved to be true. Instead, the sideways world turned out to be a purgatory-esque universe where all the “Losties” must find each other and “let go” to reach the afterlife. The scenes in the church were emotional, heart-breaking and thought-provoking. The second act to a great finale.


See, for me nothing that happened in the final episode was “the problem.” The tough part for me to swallow was how meaningless the flash-sideways world turned out to be. In this flash-sideways, Jack had a son, Locke was a substitute teacher, Sawyer was a cop and Kate still a criminal. All interesting plotlines that ultimately went nowhere. If you look back at any of those episodes, all were incredibly intriguing under the guise that when things finally came together, viewers would be taken to somewhere they had never expected and never seen before. Instead, it turned out to be what many initially thought the island really was…life after death.

What about Jack’s son? Why did he need a son to “let go?” Why did Locke get fired only to become a substitute teacher? To meet Ben, get hit by a car and “let go” when he met Jack again? I guess. Perhaps the part that bugs me is the fact that I can’t go back and watch those episodes and think “there’s something hidden here, something I never caught before, some secret the producers wanted me to catch.” No, they’re just in limbo, waiting to go to heaven. And that’s it. Again, not an ending I hate, I just didn’t understand the season as a fake out. If there was a spot that Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindelof failed, it was here.

But on to what was so wonderful about this series. It was not how it ended, but what got us there that was so great.

Season 1:

As great as the pilot episode was, the first season officially became must-see television in episode four when it was revealed that John Locke, the crazy hunter of the group, was actually disabled and could only walk after landing on “Lost” island. “Walkabout” blew me away, not only for the ending, but the way it was cleverly presented by the writers and actor Terry O’Quinn.


The episode that followed “White Rabbit” featuring Jack’s back story and hallucinations of his dead father on the island were equally as intriguing. (It was later revealed that his father was actually the smoke monster aka The Man in Black.) But at the end, Jack makes his famous, “Live together, die alone” speech.

There are so many to choose from, but I think my favorite episode is “The Moth.” In the seventh episode, we find out about Charlie’s heroine-addicted past and watch him overcome the need for drugs with a little help from Locke. It’s an episode that truly makes us care about the characters, dozens of shows emote, but only this one had a sense of frail humanity, the demons that we carry around and our struggle to vanquish them.


Of course, the entire first season was virtually flawless, drawing viewers deeper and deeper into the show’s mythology. From Hurley’s cursed numbers (4,8,15,16,23,42) to the Hatch to the mysterious Others, it all made for some of the greatest television I have ever seen.

Season 2:

The second season got off to a bang with a brilliant gotcha moment. A man wakes up to an alarm and is seemingly going about his daily routine, until ‘boom!’ Something blows up and it’s revealed, he’s actually underground on “Lost” island, living in the mysterious Hatch. The camera pan up to Jack and Locke’s faces is now a classic TV “what the hell?” moment. Mama Cass’ “Make Your Own Kind of Music” was on my iPod for months after this scene.


The beginning of Season 2 was certainly more of a slow burn that Season 1, the tail section storyline felt a little repetitive at times, but it was worth it later as it led to some interesting storytelling down the line. And that includes the introduction of the “Orientation” films and evil island mastermind “Henry Gale” aka “Ben Linus.” Michael Emerson offered some of the best acting in the series and it all started with this brilliant performance in “The Whole Truth.”

One of the best parts about “Lost” was the way it excelled at season-ending cliffhangers. Season 2 was no exception. In “Live Together, Die Alone” Jack, Kate, Sawyer and Hurley are left to die with the Others as Michael regains custody of Walt, leaving the island on a boat. Meanwhile, we get Desmond’s back story and his quest to get back with his long, lost love, Penny. Desmond, Charlie, Eko and Locke may be blown to bits. And two men in a frozen climate locate the island after the Hatch implodes.

The first two seasons really set the stage for the intriguing plotlines to come. Anyone could die. Original Losties Shannon and Boone were both knocked off in the first two years. And if you were in the tail section, your odds were even worse (RIP Ana Lucia and Libby.)

Up next, seasons three and four. Bear cage love, the Jack episode everyone hates and the producers make their second-worst decision, trying to weave in two new character Nikki and Paulo. Then making the best decision, killing them off.



posted by Seth Szilagyi in Lost and have Comments (2)