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Showing posts from February, 2018

del Toro and the (Most-Useless) Oscars, part 3

I wanted to relay my thoughts on the award hype surrounding Guillermo del Toro's The Shape of Water (2017) , and what value said hype could possibly have, in and of itself. Part one discussed the state of movies, before and after the Oscars materialized, and the struggle movies today face when getting made, versus years ago. Part two discussed Academy constraints and favoritism. Part three shall now attempt to explain why the Oscars still matter and what a big win possibly means for del Toro, if anything.

As I wrote in part two, Oscar publicity is the so-called cherry on the cake (or, one of the cakes: the theatrical version). So why does this cherry matter? I'd say it's because the cherry represents "the best"; even if someone is not, calling them so causes people to think of them as such. Think, the Cowardly Lion, in The Wizard of Oz (1939): he isn't brave, but with a nice, big medal, people will perceive him as courageous, anyways. However, even when true,…

del Toro and the (Mostly-Useless) Oscars, part 2

I wanted to relay my thoughts on the award hype surrounding Guillermo del Toro's The Shape of Water (2017) , and what value said hype could possibly have, in and of itself. Part one discussed the state of movies, before and after the Oscars materialized, and the struggle movies today face when getting made, versus years ago. Here, part two discusses Academy constraints and favoritism. Part three shall attempt to explain why the Oscars still matter and what a big win possibly means for del Toro, if anything.

Movies generally what they are, with or without big awards like the Oscars. That being said, I'd be lying if I said I wouldn't be somewhat giddy at the thought of a favorite sci-fi, horror, or fantasy film winning lots of awards, including the Oscars. This is because Awards mean two things: public attention and sovereign, critical accolades. Even if these things are hallow, they usually (though not always) spur producers to shell out money on riskier genres. How much? T…

del Toro and the (Mostly-Useless) Oscars, part 1

After roughly two months in the theater, Guillermo del Toro's The Shape of Water (2017) has garnered lots of award-buzz—thirteen Academy nominations, to be exact. I certainly plan on reviewing the movie, which, while hardly my all-time favorite, was still all-round solid and deserving of an extensive write-up. For now, however, I wanted to relay my thoughts on the award hype surrounding it, and what value said hype could possibly have, in and of itself

Here is part one, which shall discuss the state of movies, before and after the Oscars materialized, and the struggle movies today face when getting made, versus years ago. Part two shall discuss Academy constraints and favoritism; and three shall attempt to explain why the Oscars still matter and what a big win possibly means for del Toro, if anything.

I'll be blunt: I've never put much stock in the Oscars. One, they're largely political; two, they're disinterested in celebrating most of the genres I feel to be imp…

Logan Marshall-Green, and Small Character Actors

Right now, I'm in the middle of watching the excellent (so far) Netflix original miniseries, Damnation (2017). I'll review the entire show when I've finished watching it. Right now, I'm about halfway through, and wanted to write an article about Logan Marshall-Green, who stars in it―and on smaller character actors, in general.

Everyone in Tony Tost's Damnation is reliable. For example, Christopher Heyerdahl delivers a similar level of alien tallness and wide-eyed intensity as seen in Hell on Wheels (2011). And although I'm not familiar with Melinda Page Hamilton, her frigid role as the psychotic government agent, Connie Nunn, is also good fun. Indeed, it was hypnotic and strangely addictive to watch her saunter in sing-song fashion through the hilltops, before calmly assembling a rifle and using it to kickstart a riot by shooting at both sides during a Mexican standoff. The whole eerie debacle contained echoes of the chilly female assassin, Mathilde, played by …

Site Update: New Domain

Just a small little update for everyone who reads my blog: My partner helped me purchase a domain for it: www.nicksmovieinsights.com. The new domain will be posted on Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr, for people to see, as well.

We've had some minor technical hiccups, since acquiring it, but everything appears to be operational, now.


It Follows (2015): Review, part 3

Here is part three of a three-part review of David Robert Mitchell's It Follows (2015). Part one examined much of what works about the movie; part two, what didn't. Three shall examine the thematic implications, as well as why the movie is still worth your time, despite not being "perfect."

It Follows works best, in the darkness. Despite being invisible, its monster paradoxically withers, in plain sight—that is, when people are aware of and pointing at it, or where it should be. This effect is perhaps most strongly felt when the teens drape a piece of cloth over its head, lending it the unintentionally silly appearance of a ghost wearing a bedsheet. 

I don't want to look down on bedsheets; anything, including those, can be scary. John Carpenter made it work in Halloween (1978), with "Bob" wearing a bedsheet to scare the girl in the bed. Except here, it's not Bob, it's the Shape, pretending to be Bob, pretending to be a ghost. The scene wor…

It Follows (2015): Review, part 2

Here is part two of a three-part review of David Robert Mitchell's It Follows (2015). Part one examined much of what works about the movie; part two shall look at what doesn't; and part three, the thematic implications—as well as why the movie is still good fun, despite not being "perfect."

I loved It Follows. Imperfect though it was, it works best, I feel, when we know as little about the creature as possible. When Hugh kidnaps Jay and explains to her the nature of the beast, the suspense works as well as it does because no one believes her—no more than anyone did Mrs. MacNeil, in The Exorcist (1973). Likewise, we know the rules, but haven't had a chance to see them broken, yet.

Sometimes rules aren't, in movies. Alas, despite boasting a nebulous creature that can assume any form, It Follows  isn't quite focused enough to play by its own rule set.

For example, in the wonderful opening scene, a girl is shown running around, acting confused—a hysteria…

It Follows (2015): Review, part 1

Here is part one of a three-part review of David Robert Mitchell's It Follows (2015). It shall examine much of what works about the movie; part two, what doesn't; and part three, the thematic implications, as well as why the movie still mostly works, despite not being "perfect."

Unlike most movies nowadays, I had already seen It Follows several times in theaters before watching it on Netflix. To that, by the time I sat down and watched it with my partner and their other boyfriend, I had already seen the movie twice: once with my brother, and another time with our half-brother. This is because, in my opinion, it is a really good movie (we van der Waard boys all enjoyed it). I wouldn't venture so far as to call it perfect, by any stretch; it has quite a few problems—the typical sort that often plague horror movies. Despite these symptoms, it still manages (for me, at least) to be incredibly enjoyable. Not as good as it could have been, but still plenty awesome.


Muc…

Twilight (2008): Review, part 3

This is part three of a three-part review of Catherine Hardwicke's Twilight (2008). Whereas parts one and two examined the literature preceding the move (and books), part three shall focus mostly on the movie, itself.

I won't say I actually liked Twilight, the movie. It just wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. I expected pure, unadulterated torture (after all, I'd seen people excoriate this movie as being utter dross). It made sense, too, because the book was so poorly written (and generally books that predate films critically surpass their adaptations). Yet, when I watched Twilight, I actually enjoyed it... for what it was. I wouldn't rank it up there with Casablanca (1942) or The Wild Bunch (1969) but I wouldn't rank it as low as the novel that came before it.

At the same time, Twilight is no Plan 9 from Outer Space (1959). Given which of them is better I'd side with Ed Wood. Why? Because heinously-bad movies are their own, special kind of joy! To …