Weird, Wrinkled and Wordy

June 19, 2009

For the Love of Vampires

Filed under: Movies,Television,vampires,Vancouver,Writing — Valorie Hoye @ 9:26 am

I have a thing for vampires.

spikeIt started at a young age…I had a poster of “The Count” from Sesame Street on my bedroom wall.  When I learned my numbers, my first vampire love was forgotten.  In my early teens I saw the Frank Langella version of  Dracula and first understood why people found vampires sexy.  But it was reading Bram Stoker’s Dracula in university that truly captivated me.  I started reading the literary classic late one Friday afternoon, and stayed up all night and well into the next morning to finish it.  I was too afraid to put it down and too intrigued to stop reading.

I was a big fan of the “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” TV series, both identifying with the strong heroine, and of course, developing a giant crush on Spike, the blond punk vamp who initially tries to be bad but somehow ends up doing good despite himself, before finally resigning himself to fight on the right side.  Most recently, the series “True Blood” and the terrific novels by Charlaine Harris they are based, have captured my interest.

The Vampire tradition is so rich that continues to inspire the most creative people working in film, TV and literature.  It gets re-invented with each generation.

What’s all this rambling a precursor for?  My new venture.

Vancouver Vampire Aficionados now have a group to call their own.


May 27, 2009

Terminator Salvation: What Might Have Been

Filed under: Movies,science fiction — Valorie Hoye @ 1:14 pm

Terminator Salvation seemed to be a good movie, with exciting visuals and action sequences, but the script showed definite signs of major alterations having been done.  It has been widely reported that Christian Bale only agreed to take the role of John Connor once his part in this movie was greatly expanded.  Personally, I think the film without John Connor would have been much better, and I’m going to give some concrete examples below, so beware spoilers.

The key lies in the most compelling characters in the film, Kyle Reese and Marcus Wright.

TerminatorBaleThis film failed to show John Connor actually leading people.  He made a few poignant comments over the radio, but we never saw him in charge of a mission.  His comrades appeared to show deference, but those in command didn’t even respect him.  Why wouldn’t they if he has all of the knowledge passed on by his mother?  Why wasn’t John Connor in charge of the first mission in the desert?  The only explanation I can think of is because the scene was written for Kyle Reese.  Think of how much better a set-up it would have been if this young, resourceful kid had been the only survivor of that mission.

Why was John Connor surprised by the appearance of a humanoid terminator?  The difference between a humanoid machine and one with a heart didn’t justify his reaction.  And since he’s been listening to his mother’s tapes, he should have known what to expect.  So why the surprise?  Perhaps because the scene was written for Kyle Reese.  Imagine if Kyle had come face to face with the true identity of the man who he’d fought beside, and who he obviously looked up to since he copied his phrase about pointing a gun.

Why was the believability stretched so thin during the end sequence in Skynet?  John Connor clearly could not withstand the temperatures of molten metal that close to him.  No amount of good shooting (of which there wasn’t much) would make him a match for the T-800.  The final sequence seems to have been  written for Marcus alone.  A suicide mission into Skynet in order to purge his demons and save Kyle, who had been so devastated to learn he was a machine.  And a classic Terminator on Terminator showdown, where the man accepts the machine within in order to save the day.

My theory is that the original script likely only included John Connor as a voice on the radio that no one met until the end.  I doubt if I will ever see the unaltered script, so I will never know if I’m right.  Just because I spent so much time afterwards  pondering what a better story it might have been doesn’t mean I got extra value for my money.

3 out of 5 stars.

April 7, 2009

We’re in Control Now

Filed under: Movies,science fiction,Television — Valorie Hoye @ 9:05 am

You can definitely tell it is my generation that is now moving into positions of power in the entertainment industry.

supernaturalJust watched the most recent episode of Supernatural, called “The Monster at the End of This Book.”   Of course, that was the title of one of my favourite books from childhood, a Sesame Street book in which the very loveable and very blue Grover desperately tries to stop the reader from turning the pages because he is so afraid of what waits for him at the end, only to find out it is himself.  The Winchester boys may be a tad younger than myself, but clearly the creative team was reading the same books I did.  It was a clever nod for a show that does “clever” particularly well.   This show is firing on all cylinders and now with BSG gone, it is likely to be my fave as it winds down to a big finish at the end of Season Five.

And of course, one of the true masterpieces of literature from my childhood was Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are.  Spike Jonze is making it into a live action movie due out this October, and the trailer is now online, as well as some promotional pictures that tell me the people who made this cherish the source as much as I did.

Can’t wait to see where it goes from here…

April 24, 2008

The Essence of Indiana Jones

Filed under: Movies — Valorie Hoye @ 2:28 pm

I’ve been trying to figure out how to put into words why I’m looking forward to seeing the next Indiana Jones movie SO MUCH. And then I read this excerpt from an upcoming Men’s Journal interview by Allison Glock. The journalist spoke with a number of people about Harrison Ford.

“This is how I met Harrison Ford,” recounts 21-year-old actor Shia LaBeouf, who also stars in the new Indy installment. “I was rehearsing on this huge bike at some air force base with the stunt team. At some point in the film Harrison and I were going to have to ride this thing, and that was a big deal, an insurance issue. So I’m learning how to handle it, and I hear this tic tic tic tic tic, and I look up in the sky and spot this helicopter coming in, like on a movie. And inside the helicopter I see this one man, all by himself. Usually you ride with someone else when you fly, you know, in case **** happens. But not Harrison. And he lands the helicopter, pops open the door, gets out, stretches his back a little, waves to the crew, walks around to open the other door, pulls out his whip, and cracks it.”

Quiet, capable, tough…and with a perfectly balanced sense of humour. Note that part of his answer to Entertainment Weekly about why he likes doing his own stunt work was that he likes “rolling around on the floor with sweaty men.” Now can’t you just imagine the twinkle in his eye as he waits to see if the reporter will DARE to smirk at that one?

April 23, 2008

Is it Summer Yet?

Filed under: Movies — Valorie Hoye @ 2:05 pm

Besides the unwelcome blast of winter we got over the weekend, there is another compelling reason to wish that summer would get here faster….it’s going to be one terrific movie season. At least, I’m anticipating it will be. I expected to spend a lot of money at the cinema last summer and my interest fizzled in almost all those prospects pretty quickly. But this summer has more than a few solid bets, and here are the ones at the top of my list:

Hellboy's BackIron Man – (May 2) I haven’t read the comic book, but I’m eager to see what Robert Downey Jr can do with a role like this one.

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull – (May 22) Indy’s back and we’ve all missed him.

Hellboy II: The Golden Army – (July 11) Ron Perlman was terrific in the title role the first time around and he’s back in fine form. Here’s a link to the official site.

Batman: The Dark Knight – (July 18 ) Another case of perfect casting. Christian Bale found something unique and compelling in the role that so many others have tried before him.

X Files: I Want to Believe – (July 25) I have high hopes that Chris Carter and the crew can recapture the magic from the early days of the series.

The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor – (Aug 1) Brendan Fraser + Jet Li +Abominable Snowmen have me looking forward to this one. Director Rob Cohen’s openness (his blog here) gives me great hope for a franchise I fell in love with.

I’m a sucker for popcorn movies with compelling heroes and/or villains. I hope this summer ends up being as fun as it looks like from this side. Anticipation is a wonderful thing.

March 5, 2008

March Mini Movie Reviews

Filed under: Movies — Valorie Hoye @ 1:40 pm

My movie reviewing days may be behind me, but I haven’t stopped having opinions on what I see. Here are a few recent selections:

There Will Be Blood – A grim but likely realistic portrait of the life of an oil prospector in Texas at the turn of the last century. This film is all about Daniel Day-Lewis’ performance. Some have criticized his acting as technical rather than organic, but the point is moot. It is a brilliant performance and well deserving of the Oscar.

The Other Boleyn Girl – A film about passion that somehow fails to arouse it in the viewer. The stars are all pretty, but the performances are simply adequate. Natalie Portman is the best of the bunch as the doomed Anne. The editing varied from clever to horribly disruptive. Historically simplified, but at least they didn’t cop out on the ending. Worth a rental but don’t pay full price.

3:10 to Yuma – Christian Bale continues to prove his versatility, this time as a father willing to take a horrible risk to improve his family’s lot in life. The tension with Russell Crowe is enjoyable, but you get the impression even Crowe knows he’s outclassed here. Consistently well acted. Kudos to the sound effects team for some exciting moments.

War of the Worlds (2005) – The characters exist separately from the plot and therefore do not develop in any way. At least one person disappears for a third of the movie only to reappear with no explanation. The central conflict of the story is resolved in a voice-over at the end, which is unforgivable. Cool special effects cannot save this stinker. Steven Spielberg should have known better.

If you like mini movie reviews, you will like I’m not as talented with haiku as Leeny is, but:

flicks reviewed
brief, with great wit

January 30, 2008

Star Trek diversions

Filed under: Movies,science fiction,Star Trek — Valorie Hoye @ 12:50 pm

Star Trek XIThere seems to be a lot of Star Trek goodness out there these days, with Star Trek: The Tour coming to a city near me in the next while and the buzz starting for Star Trek XI.

It’s the movie buzz that has me intrigued. The man behind Star Trek XI is none other than J J Abrams, who is mainly known for creating such television hits as Lost, Alias and Felicity, but who recently revealed a degree of marketing genius in the promotional campaign for monster flick Cloverfield. And since the buzz created for that movie had so many intriguing viral elements, I thought I would point out what seems to be an interesting yet odd bit of Star Trek viral marketing.

Check out this site, which appears to feature live webcams of the dockyard building a certain new (er…old) spaceship. If you tweak the frequency on each camera, you can bring in a clear picture. Not much there yet, but I’m curious as to why there is a separate site, when the official movie site featuring even more welding footage, is here. Is it just a tease? Or should we be watching this site in the months to come?

We’ll have months to figure it out. Star Trek XI won’t hit theatres until the end of the year.

November 19, 2007

Juno = Oscar?

Filed under: Movies,Writing — Valorie Hoye @ 12:18 pm

JunoCanadians will probably find that title confusing since Juno is the name of our award for achievement in Canadian music and Oscar is what the American film awards are called. In this case, Juno is also the name of a small film that deserves recognition for many reasons. Juno tells the story of a pregnant sixteen year old girl who looks for the perfect adoptive parents for her unborn child, only to find that perfection may require altering your point of view.

The screenplay by Diablo Cody is sharply funny, yet realistic and touching. The audience is afraid to laugh too hard only because the sound will drown out the next line of dialogue, which could be even funnier. Cody has a distinctive voice as a writer and it needs to be heard over the formulaic fodder we so often see at the movies these days. She’s already won one award for Juno and I would not be surprised to see her with an arm full of them by the end of awards season.

Ellen Page is another reason to find this film. She has amazing range an honestly in her performance. Talent in spades and she’s just getting started. A lot of people have called her edge and her performance in this film (and others such as Hard Candy) is truly that, but so much more. Her Juno has both edge and innocence and no one but Ellen Page could pull off the whole range in between.

October 29, 2007

A new Jekyll and a brilliant Hyde

Filed under: Movies,science fiction — Valorie Hoye @ 3:25 pm

Nesbitt as HydeEvery year at Halloween, I make up my mind to watch something scary on TV. Some years I’m only brave enough to watch Linus wait for the Great Pumpkin to arrive. This year I took a bold step, but I may already have hit my fright limit and we’re still two days out.

Spent six hours watching the very worthwhile Jekyll on Showcase this past weekend, starring James Nesbitt. Originally shown on BBC1 this summer, the miniseries is a delightful new take on the old tale of the curious Dr. Jekyll and his evil counterpart, Mr. Hyde. Nesbitt does a fine job with both characters, but once you’ve seen Hyde, drenched in lion blood and belting out “In the jungle, the mighty jungle, the lion sleeps tonight” as if he were on Broadway, you can’t help but cheer for the bad guy. He is deliciously over the top when indulging his Hyde side, capturing both the menace and the charisma of the original literary character.

The modern twist is that Jekyll is set in 2006, and Dr. Tom Jackman is the reluctant inheritor of his ancestor’s curse. There is a conspiracy with plenty of layers, enough shocks to satisfy and just enough gore to be atmospheric. Through it all, a solid dose of black humour keeps the audience in line.

Besides Nesbitt’s tour de force performance, Gina Bellman is full of substance as the hero/villain’s great love and Denis Lawson (familiar to sci-fi fans as Wedge from the Star Wars movies) is excellent as Peter Syme, a man who could be both a villain and a friend at the same time. Michelle Ryan makes a pre-Bionic Woman appearance as the assistant to both Jekyll and Hyde, helping both keep secrets from each other.

It’s a worthwhile way to spend six hours of your time, and though it may not give you nightmares, it’ll give you pause. Are we supposed to cheer so enthusiastically for the bad guy?

August 23, 2007

A Vampire Art Movie?

Filed under: Movies — Valorie Hoye @ 3:51 pm

Near DarkThe vampire mythology has excited novelists and filmmakers for decades, and given us some truly remarkable imagery. Francis Ford Coppola’s Bram Stoker’s Dracula was a lavish blood bath, and even Dracula 2000 featured some stunning modern visuals.   Someone recently loaned me a copy of Near Dark, a low-budget film from 1987 that went virtually unnoticed at the time but has maintained a cult following ever since. It blew me away.

Near Dark was the first solo directing effort from Kathryn Bigelow, now known as an action director of such films as Point Break and Strange Days. But at the start of her career, she had to prove herself worthy of the film’s $5 million budget. The now much more famous Adrian Pasdar starred as Caleb, a cowboy who falls for a beautiful young waif and then must deal with her “family.” Lance Henriksen, Bill Paxton and Jenette Goldstein had all just finished working together on Aliens when they were cast as a dysfunctional family of vampire anti-heroes and that familiar chemistry certainly showed. Jenny Wright’s performance as Mae, the young woman who leads Caleb into the world after dark is a perfect blend of worldliness and innocence.

The word “vampire” is never uttered in the film. There are no fangs and none of the stereotypical religious iconography associated with vampire mythology. The setting is very much a modern Western and the cinematography by Adam Greenberg is stunning. One scene has a cowboy stumbling across a plowed field as the sun comes up and the smoke rising from his vampire skin mixes with the dust his boots kick up as he makes a run for home. It is eerie and beautiful at the same time.

Near Dark was a victim of poor marketing. The film opened at roughly the same time as the much bigger budget Lost Boys (whose sequel, Lost Boys 2: The Tribe just began filming in Vancouver this week) and it simply could not compete with a marketing juggernaut for Keifer and the two Coreys. The 1987 posters and even the 2002 DVD cover emphasized blood and gore, which actually appear only briefly in the film. Granted, I doubt if audiences would have flocked to see a “vampire art film with a western flavour” but it is a more accurate description. Worth checking out.

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