Monthly Archives: December 2009

Review: Daybreakers

In the words of Lionel ‘Elvis’ Cormac (Willem Dafoe), “Life’s a bitch, and then you don’t die.” Hopefully, the days of the glittery brooding vampire will come to an end and the creatures can return to their roots. Not necessarily the Count ‘I vant to suck your blood’ roots, but at least to where vampires were badasses. Twilight fans beware, Daybreakers is on the way and Edward Cullen stands no chance against these bloodsuckers. They’re fierce, they’re powerful and incredibly hungry. Mind your jugular because Daybreakers is a wild ride packed with innovation, blood and a whole lot of fun.

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Review: The Loss Of A Teardrop Diamond

After earning a number of Oscar nominations and a handful of wins working with director Elia Kazan on A Streetcar Named Desire (1951) and Baby Doll (1956), it made sense that Tennessee Williams would write a third screenplay for the two to bring to life. The problem is, there’s really nothing to bring to life in The Loss of a Teardrop Diamond. Perhaps someone realized the trouble back when Williams first completed the script, because Kazan opted to move onto other projects leaving The Loss of a Teardrop Diamond on a shelf collecting dust. Not even a super-powered Shop-Vac could clean this screenplay of its cobwebs. The Loss of a Teardrop Diamond is dated and further flawed by plain old poor filmmaking.

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Perri’s Top 10 Films Of 2009

I’ve always seen a lot of movies, but thanks to my ever-increasing workload at and a few other film-related websites, I’ve spent a significant amount of 2009 in the theater. While it wasn’t always pleasant, the discovery of a handful of gems made every minute worth it.

Rather than go directly to the movies that achieved near-filmmaking perfection, my mind gravitates towards the ones that I walked out of with the biggest grin on my face. I have an easy time seeing why particular films are award-worthy, but that doesn’t mean they’re entertaining. While every film on this list isn’t without flaws, the immense amount of fun I had watching them makes those faults completely irrelevant.

I’ve made great memories with friends and family throughout the year, but a significant part of my life is movies, and these are the ones that made 2009 such a blast.

Having spent much of my childhood at the amusement park Adventureland is based on, I had very high expectations for the film. When it soared above and beyond my hopes, Adventureland became an instant favorite. Greg Mottola puts together a perfect combination of humor, romance and drama to create a film that strikes a chord on many levels. This is also where my infatuation with Jesse Eisenberg begins. He’s nerdy and awkward yet strangely appealing. He’s got an unusual charm that’s sure to make you sympathetic towards his character.

Awesome Quote: “If someone wins a giant assed panda on your watch you should just go home cause you’re fired, OK?”

This is the travesty of the year. How did this film not have a better showing at the box office? It’s novel, fun and features a stellar cast. Similarly to Adventureland, Whip It combines a wide range of emotions that successfully makes it a drama, comedy and action film neatly wrapped up into one. Drew Barrymore does an excellent job her first go-around in the director’s chair while simultaneously providing a chunk of the film’s comic relief. Ellen Paige carries the film with ease and is surrounded by a number of minor yet profound characters.

Awesome Quote: “I like smart girls. That’s why I married your mama. Well, that and I knocked her up.”

And so my Jesse Eisenberg obsession continues. I’ll always remember Zombieland as the film that turned around one of my worst days of the year. I walked into the theater in an intensely sour mood and walked out a different person. When you think about it, the plot (beyond the whole zombie thing) may be a little thin, but that flaw is completely washed over by the sharp dialogue and on point cinematography. Zombieland is Tallahassee’s (Woody Harrelson) zombie stomping ground and I had a blast being a part of it the entire time.

Awesome Quote: “Sno-Balls? Sno-Balls? Where the fuck are the God damn Twinkies?”

Moon is beautiful in its simplicity. With just one primary actor and one primary location, director and co-writer Duncan Jones is able to create an elaborate situation with an eerie undertone guaranteed to make your heart ache. Sam Rockwell’s work is remarkably powerful. The concept may have come from the mind of Jones, but it’s Rockwell’s performance that generates the raw emotion. Moon is completely character driven and Rockwell does exactly what’s necessary to make you frustrated yet enthralled by Sam Bell’s situation.

Awesome Quote: “I hope life on Earth is everything you remember it to be.”

When you can watch an entire movie from the theater floor and still not want it to end, it’s a damn good movie. Once The Hurt Locker began I completely forgot about the consequence I was suffering after arriving at the theater far too late. This movie is explosive in every sense of the word. Even when the film’s pace slows – deactivating a bomb is quite the tedious process – my heart is racing. The suspense is so intense it makes me sweat just as much, if not more, than Staff Sergeant William James (Jeremy Renner) himself.

Awesome Quote: “If I’m gonna die, I want to die comfortable.”

This is the alien invasion movie we’ve all been waiting for. The premise is ingenious, the story extremely well told and, best of all, the film isn’t tarnished after getting a look at the ETs. Wikus Van De Merwe (Sharlto Copley) and Christopher Johnson are the ultimate tag team. The transformation of the two characters is immense and I am fully engaged every step of the way. The fact that they’ve got some pretty cool toys to play with only enhances the action. The movie leaves the door wide open for a sequel, and in this case, I really hope someone takes advantage of it.

Awesome Quote: “When dealing with aliens, try to be polite, but firm. And always remember that a smile is cheaper than a bullet.”

Paranormal Activity scared the absolute shit out of me. I let myself become fully engrossed in the situation and my openness paid off big time. It breaks my heart to see such a fantastic film tarnished by its own success. Of course if you walk in all macho with the attitude that this little film can’t scare you, you’ll ruin the effect. Well, that’s nobody’s fault but your own and you’re really missing out. Who needs blood and guts when just $11,000, some simple ingenuity and crafty camera work can give an audience nightmares? This really is the little film that could.

Awesome Quote: “How about we just get a Ouija Board, find out what it wants, and just give it what it wants, and then, you know, it’s gone?” “Because what it probably wants is Katie.”

It’s awkward to go from a movie with an ultra-low budget to one of the priciest, but every penny James Cameron spent making Avatar is justified. This is the most unlikely four-quadrant film. Between the stellar animation, the action, the romance and the fascinating characters, there’s something for everyone here, but what makes Avatar truly special is the quality of all of those elements. Between the complexity of the situation on Pandora and the planet’s vast amount of environmental details, you’ll forget Avatar clocks in at over two and a half hours. In fact, you’ll wish it were longer.

Awesome Quote: “Everything is backwards now, like out there is the true world and in here is the dream.”

Up In The Air made me feel funny. It took quite a while after I walked out of the theater to sort through a barrage of thoughts and realize I was emotionally overwhelmed by it. Director/co-writer Jason Reitman takes just what he needs from Walter Kirn’s book and adds wonderfully appropriate details to make the concepts just as effective on screen. As luck would have it (for Reitman at least), Up In The Air landed at the perfect time to hit home for anyone suffering from unemployment. It doesn’t put a fairytale spin on a brutal situation, yet doesn’t leave you hopeless and dejected. It just gives you the sense that things happen for a reason and change will come in due time.

Awesome Quote: “I’m like my mother, I stereotype. It’s faster.”

While putting this list together, nine of the movies were shuffled around until they fell into the appropriate spot, but not for a moment did I rethink awarding Inglourious Basterds the number one position. The more I watch it, the more I’m convinced that it’s absolutely perfect. It’s impossible to pick a favorite scene because there isn’t one second of this film I don’t thoroughly look forward to seeing. Every line of dialogue is quotable, every performance commendable and every moment well thought out by Quentin Tarantino. Inglourious Basterds is a technical, narrative and entertainment masterpiece and I look forward to making it part of my life for many years to come.

Awesome Quote: “That’s a bingo!”

Thanks for reading and have a happy and healthy New Year!

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Bah, Humbug: What Not To Do At The Theater This Holiday (Or Ever)

The other day I had the pleasure of seeing Precious. Well, some pleasure. Thanks to the heart wrenching content it’s difficult to call the movie pleasurable, but the thing that made my blood boil were the last two people who waltzed in five minutes into the film chatting up a storm. You’re late and you’re going to talk as though the movie hasn’t even started? Making matters worse, these two women continued to chat throughout the entire film. I hope your conversation was more important than this poor girl’s attempt to overcome sexual and physical abuse to get an education and take care of her children.

With one of the biggest moviegoing holidays right around the corner, I see no relief in sight. It’s going to be a week of whiny kids, rustling winter coats, sniffly red noses and batches of the over jolly talking away during the most riveting scenes and I refuse to stand for it. Planning to go to the theater this holiday? Read this article! Don’t think any of it applies to you? Pass it along to someone that it does! We must stop these transgressors before it’s too late. Call me a Scrooge but this is a situation that must not be tolerated.

1. Non Movie Theater Food

Now that theaters in particular cities are forced to post concession stand calorie counts, revealing that a large bag of popcorn is the equivalent of an entire day’s worth of food, non-theater food smuggling is inevitable and justifiable. The problem is the people who insist on bringing smelly food. Think before you order and maybe you’ll realize a tuna salad sandwich is a bad idea. Fast food eaters have no excuse. Not only is the grease so potent that once you get a whiff, you’re counting down the seconds until you can indulge yourself, but you’ve completely disqualified yourself from the health excuse and are the source of secondhand weight gain. And don’t even get me started on the convoluted and messy dishes – is it even possible to pile wasabi and ginger on top of sushi and pay attention to the film?

The Alternative: It’s easy, keep it simple. Opt for something you can eat with just one hand, perhaps a wrap. Or, get in the holiday spirit and just pick up a gingerbread latte or peppermint mocha from Starbucks.

2. Noisy Food

Crunch your popcorn all you want, but I promise rustling the bag won’t help you find some perfectly golden piece at the bottom of the bag and shaking Raisinettes like a jug of milk won’t make the candy any tastier. The lollipop trend is actually a pretty good idea. They last a long time and aren’t nearly as heavy as the king size candy boxes sold at the theater, but if you make that nauseating sucking sound, I will take a tip from Precious’s mom and throw a TV at you. This is a seemingly impossible task for children, so avoid sharing your lollipop wealth with them at all costs.

Alternative: Lots of foods are crunchy, but they are far less audible when you – gasp – chew with your mouth closed. Practicing this art in the movie theater will be beneficial to your success in life, for, if you master this skill, people will actually want to eat with you.

3. Fidgeting

When you’ve got filmmakers like James Cameron who insist on making two and a half hour plus movies, fidgeting is bound to happen. Squirm all you want, just don’t involve me. Seat-kicking, visual distractions or knocking your neighbor’s arm off the armrest can be solved with a simple “I’m sorry,” but the sulking is unforgivable – you know, when someone leans forward and then slams their back against the seat and lets out a massive sigh? Maybe you weren’t happy to see Sam Worthington make out with a lanky blue creature in Avatar, but I was. Don’t ruin it for me too.

Alternative: If you have trouble sitting still for long periods of time, just don’t see long movies. If for some odd reason you’re forced to, try a Valium.

4. Illnesses

It’s natural to sneeze or cough, particularly this time of year, but someone who insists on going to a movie when they’re downright sick deserves an ass kicking from Ken Jeong, The Hangover style. Not only is it completely distracting, but it gets other moviegoers sick too. The one forgivable illness? The unexpected vomiter. Maybe you had a bad dinner right before or that stomach bug just caught up to you at the wrong time, but when you’ve got to let loose there’s nothing you can do about it.

Alternative: Hm, let’s see … stay home! And for you surprise pukers, don’t even apologize, just notify a theater employee.

5. Children

Who brings an infant to a movie? When I have children, I’ll take them to the theater as often as possible, but only when they’re of the age to actually appreciate what’s on the screen. As for toddlers, if they have behavioral issues, odds are, it won’t be any different during a movie. I don’t know one child that’d benefit, let alone escape emotionally unharmed, after seeing a movie like Halloween II. (And yes, I did have a baby in my theater during Halloween II.)

Alternative: Unless you’re seeing Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel, I better not see your tiny tots in my theater. TBS is playing A Christmas Story all day on Friday. Take a hint.

6. Hooting and Hollering

Some proclaim a vocal audience enhances the effects of a horror movie, but there’s a huge difference between expressive reactions and obscene shouting. What made Paranormal Activity such a blast was that everyone in the theater jumped or screamed when the demon bumped in the night. If you naturally scream, “That bitch is pregnant!” after a cheap thrill, you’ve got a problem. For those of you with ridiculously gregarious laughs, odds are, you’re aware of it and embarrassed by it, so keep it in check.

Alternative: Be mindful of your volume level. As long as you’re not too loud, react away! As for outlandish yelling, avoid it completely. If you just can’t help yourself, master the put-a-sock-in-it technique. Literally.

7. Bathroom Breaks

When you’ve got to go, you’ve got to go, but there’s no way you’ve got to go twice during one film. As for the second type of going, if you think that’ll become an issue, please refer to the ‘Illness’ section of this article.

Alternative: If you’ve got a small bladder, you have two options: Avoid all liquids an hour before the film and be sure to pay the bathroom a visit as close to show time as possible. If that doesn’t do the trick and you absolutely must make multiple trips to the bathroom, it might be time to call your doctor.

8. Cell Phone Etiquette

Admit it. You don’t completely turn your phone off during a movie. I can excuse moviegoers who send the occasional text, but the cell users that drive me insane are those with a time or message-checking obsession. I don’t need to see a makeshift strobe light in the corner of my eye the entire movie. And for those of you who think you’re doing a good deed by having your conversation near the theater door – what’s wrong with you? Standing as close to the door as possible won’t muffle the sound, in fact, you’re voice will likely echo down the hallway and fill the theater.

Alternative: Sit in the back row so there’s nobody behind you to disturb. As for those in your row, try to cover the light with your arm or coat.

9. Chatterboxes

I saved this one for last so I’d have some extra time to cool down after my Precious incident. Nope, I’m still as angry as Tobey Maguire mid-temper tantrum in Brothers. You talk about a movie after you’ve seen it, not during. If you come across a moviegoer who is not capable of whispering or just doesn’t shut up, ask them nicely to stop talking. If they don’t respond to that request, tell a theater manager. When the theater manager does nothing (and likely he or she won’t), unless you’re willing to resort to drastic measures that’ll likely land you in jail, you’re out of luck.

Alternative: BE QUIET!

Clearly these are only a few of the moviegoing no nos, but you can avoid just about any theater faux pas by following two key rules: If you just can’t help it, do it in moderation and, more importantly, think of the people around you. It’s that wonderful time of year again isn’t it? Well, think of somebody other than yourself! Happy holidays and happy moviegoing. : )

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Avatar Fans Rave About Film After Midnight Screening

Avatar opened in midnight screenings early Friday, and fans leaving those screenings generally seemed to agree that the movie was worth the wait, the epic runtime and the massive budget.

One fan raved to MTV News after catching a midnight screening in New York City, saying, “The imagination that James Cameron brought about was well worth the 15 years that he put into it.”

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Interview: Emily Blunt is The Young Victoria

It’s always a challenge to accurately portray a particular character. The actor must appease the expectations of the director, the writer and the producers. Yes, he or she must also gain the approval of the audience, but that’s after the fact. In the case of a period piece, the actor must think beyond the filmmakers and consider the approval of any administrations involved, having the character resonate with unfamiliar foreign audiences and, most importantly, having an in depth knowledge of who this figure really was in every facet.

The Young Victoria stars Emily Blunt as the princess who ascends the throne at just 18 years old. Looked upon as young and easily influenced, an assortment of royals, even her own mother (Miranda Richardson), pressures her to make decisions for their personal gain rather than the good of the country. It isn’t until her budding relationship with her cousin Prince Albert (Rupert Friend) transitions into a marriage that she realizes, unlike everyone else in her life, he has no intentions of being controlling and overbearing, just to be her loving husband and equal. had the opportunity to attend a roundtable interview with the actress who enlightened us on the burdens and joys of taking on such a dynamic and historically significant character.

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Review: The Young Victoria

I tend to avoid costume period dramas. I find them tiresome to the point that British English sounds more like Chinese than the dialectic most similar to American English. It goes in one ear and out the other as my mind dissolves into oblivion. The same thing happens to you? I’m not surprised considering the rotten reception this genre of film typically gets in the U.S. But I implore you, rethink your preconceived notions and give The Young Victoria a chance. Yes, it’s talky and stately, but it has a degree of humanization making it far more enjoyable and relatable than others of its kind.

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Interview: The Loss Of A Teardrop Diamond Director Jodie Markell

Legendary playwright Tennessee Williams had a magical relationship with director Elia Kazan. They collaborated on both Baby Doll and A Street Car Named Desire, the first of which was nominated for four Academy Awards and the second, nominated for 12, winning four. The plan was to reunite for a third film, which Williams called The Loss of a Teardrop Diamond, but when Kazan attended to other projects, the concept dissipated.

It wasn’t until the screenplay landed in the hands of actress-turned-director Jodie Markell, that The Loss of a Teardrop Diamond received the breath of life it was meant to get decades earlier. In her directorial debut, Markell assembled a star-studded cast to bring the character Fisher Willow (Bryce Dallas Howard) to the big screen. In an effort to reestablish a reputation tarnished by her father’s mistakes and secure the fortune of her great Aunt Cornelia (Ann-Margret), Fisher calls upon a plantation worker (Chris Evans) she fancies to escort her to a series of parties. When Fisher loses a priceless teardrop diamond earring at one of the soirées, not only do Fisher’s hopes for the future crumble, but so do her chances of developing a serious relationship with her escort.

Check out what Markell told me about developing a screenplay by one of the most influential playwrights of the 20th century, how her acting experience affects the way she directs her cast, and more.

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Interview: Serious Moonlight Director Cheryl Hines

Cheryl Hines’ path to the director’s chair is as far from conventional as you can get. She couldn’t even afford to train with the improvisational troupe, The Groundlings. For her birthday, her friends and the regulars at the bar she was working at, chipped in and paid for her very first class. A short while later, Hines auditioned for the show that would make her a household name, Curb Your Enthusiasm.

Just as unlikely is her transition from actress to director. Well, actually, there wasn’t much of a transition. Hoping to find someone who understood the tone of the late Adrienne Shelly’s writing, Shelly’s husband and Serious Moonlight producer, Andy Ostroy, and his co-producer Michael Roy decided to offer the directorial gig to Hines. With zero feature film directing experience under her belt, Hines was not only taken aback, but confused. Once the dust settled and she absorbed the opportunity at hand, Hines knew she had to direct Serious Moonlight.

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Bringing The Movie To Life: Derby Dreams – Part 4

My least favorite idiom is, by far, the concept of the double-edged sword. Why can’t someone ever just wholeheartedly enjoy something? There always has to be downside. Well, this whole roller derby thing has officially developed into a double-edged sword. I’m still obsessed and having a blast, but I just found out that the tryouts are capped at 100 girls and no more than 15 will make it. Shit. I think I’m good, but I don’t know about that good.

The second skills night went pretty well. I’ve got the basic skills down – crossovers, stopping, power strides – but now they’re throwing in derby skills, namely blocking. I’m skinny but it’s not the force that overtakes me, it’s this whole skating low thing. Skating low is the key to roller derby. It helps in every facet: speed, stability and, most importantly, blocking. If you stay super low, odds are, another girl will have a much harder time knocking you over. On the other hand, if you’re standing tall, you’re practically a rolling target. When it comes to throwing a block, you’ll be way ahead of the competition in a lower position. You don’t block someone with your arm alone; you’re blocking your opponent with your entire body and that requires the power to forcefully pop up from the low derby stance. The lower you are, the more power you’ll have.

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