THE MUSE (1999)

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Christopher

I had never heard of this movie until Elizabeth mentioned it one day. I was surprised how many well-known actors were in it but I think that, along with it being a childhood favorite of Elizabeth’s, is what had me interested in watching.

I enjoyed the film. I think the plot was enjoyable and interesting idea, but I do also think it is a movie people would easily forget about. However, one thing about this film that I think is unforgettable is Jeff Bridges, who is a successful screenwriter and friend of Albert Brooks. It’s a role very similar to Philip Seymour Hoffman in Along Came Polly. Okay movie, but incredible performance. There is one scene where Bridges and Brooks are talking about stuff, yada yada yada, and during the whole thing, Bridges is trying to serve in tennis. However, he just can’t make it over the net. The gag plays for quite a while but it’s so great. Totally worth seeing just for that I think!

Elizabeth (spoilers!)

The Muse is one of those movies that I love but literally no one I ever ask about it has ever even heard of it, much less seen it. When it first came out, I thought it was going to be huge because of everyone in it, but instead it came and went and was forgotten. But goddammit I love this movie.

The Muse follows Steven Philips (Albert Brooks), a screenwriter who loses his deal with a movie studio after his latest script is panned by pretty much everyone who comes across it. Steven turns to his best friend, Jack (Jeff Bridges), a fellow screenwriter of around the same age who has known nothing but success. Jack cautiously tells Steven his secret – a muse. This muse, though, is for real – a Greek goddess that inspires art. Once Steven believes him, he immediately wants in and Jack sets up an appointment to meet Sarah (Sharon Stone), the muse. When he meets her, she tells him she will take him on as a client, which means Steven will be taking on all of Sarah’s living expenses. Being a goddess, Sarah only accepts lodging at a suite at the Four Seasons, meals at fancy restaurants, and doesn’t drive.

Steven decides to not tell his wife, Laura (Andie MacDowell) – until Jack tells Steven he has to bring Sarah a gift from Tiffany’s and while there is caught buying something for a woman other than Laura by one of her friends, and Laura forces it out of him over fears that he’s cheating. Once Laura sees all the inane shit that Sarah puts Steven through, however, she fully accepts Steven’s story and the fact that he’s not cheating. Sarah then wants to meet Laura, who is nervous about the meeting, only for Sarah and Laura to become inseparable friends.

During all of this, Sarah gives Steven little nuggets of inspiration. She takes him to an aquarium where he starts outlining a summer comedy starring Jim Carey to take place in an aquarium. Sarah is also constantly visited by past clients who need help here and there, including Jack, James Cameron, and Martin Scorsese. As Sarah and Laura grow closer, Sarah starts to encourage Laura to follow her dream of opening a cookie business. Steven fluctuates between love and frustration with Sarah as he fears she’s spending too much energy inspiring others, including Laura, who doesn’t pause in her business venture for a second despite Steven being a baby about it.

Eventually, as Steven nears the end of his screenplay and Laura’s business only grows more successful, Steven and Laura are visited by two doctors from an Ohio mental hospital who tell the Philips that Sarah is their patient, has multiple personality disorder, and has run away from the hospital. They go to Sarah’s room (throughout the movie she moves closer and closer to the Philips, eventually taking over their bedroom) and find a bedsheet rope leading out the window. Despite that, Steven finishes his script and it is loved by everyone who reads it. When he brings the script back to the original executive that fired him, he tells Steven that Steven’s script was already in production at another studio by Rob Reiner (another former client of Sarah’s). With that, Steven assumes that Sarah is fake and ruined his career.

Some time later, Steven is working at Laura’s cookie store when his agent calls and tells him the Rob Reiner picture is off and the studio wants to make his movie again. He rushes over to the studio to find out the executive who fired him no longer works there and his replacement is none other than Sarah, who has since changed her name, occupation, and hair color, and she ushers him away in excitement.

The whole reason that The Muse even came up with Chris and me is that The Muse was my first introduction to Martin Scorsese before I had any idea who Martin Scorsese was. He’s only in one scene, when Steven comes home to find him banging incessantly on Sarah’s door. They talk briefly, and when I first saw it all I could think of was “Who the hell is this troll?” His character seemed so insane that I thought for sure he was going to come back and be important, because I had no idea he was a guy playing himself. It wasn’t until some time later that I saw what Martin Scorsese looked like and realized it had been that dude.

Jack is a total stand-out character. He’s very Dude-like and calm, but also sort of really stupid. There’s an amazing scene of Jack and Steven playing tennis while they talk, except Jack keeps serving and hits the net every single time:

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Watching The Muse now, I love how Laura brushes off Steven’s concerns about her business. His sexism comes out in flying colors once she brings up the idea of owning her own business, like his annoyance at Laura for not making lunch instead of baking. Despite that, Laura doesn’t stop for a second until she’s more successful than Steven. If Laura had been meek, that whole subplot would have been horrible and annoying. But it’s clear she loves Steven, but doesn’t give a shit what he thinks about her abilities to start her business.

On top of everything else, The Muse is full of great lines, has a shit ton of people in it, and is just one of those pleasant movies that sort of makes you feel good. No one gets raped or murdered, and it all takes place on this Curb Your Enthusiasm-type of plane where everyone is just super rich, which isn’t distracting, it just makes everything easier and make more sense.

The Muse might not change your life, and it’s not the easiest movie to find now, but it’s absolutely worth watching.

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FRIDAY THE 13TH PART V: A NEW BEGINNING (1985)

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Elizabeth

By the fifth Friday the 13th movie, I think the filmmakers realized they really couldn’t (or at least shouldn’t) have the plot be: teenagers move to Camp Crystal Lake as camp counselors, Jason kills teenagers, Jason pretends to die. Making the filmmakers change things up reallyyyyyyyy shows what we we’re working with.

So now we’re following a teenage Tommy (John Shepherd), who, back in Friday the 13th Part IV, presumably killed Jason when he was a kid. Killing Jason had some not-great psychological effects on Tommy, who we find as he’s being moved to a halfway house for teenagers. Except this is by far the most fucked up halfway house ever conceived. It’s literally a bunch of attractive, scantily-clad teenagers that mostly seem to have no mental issues living in a house off Crystal Lake. So the filmmakers thought, “We definitely CAN’T have the teenagers be counselors at a summer camp,” along with, “We definitely CAN have the teenagers live in a halfway house that is essentially a summer camp.” The teenagers act exactly the same way as in the other movies, sex and drugs and all.

To the filmmakers’ credit, they stick to the halfway house thing a little. There is one teenager, Vic, who is not frolicking with the rest and makes you think maybe he actually has some issues. When another teenager, Joey, hounds him over and over again as Vic chops wood (a good activity for a teenager in a halfway house with anger issues), Vic straight up murders him with the ax. But like, weren’t the people in charge sort of expecting that? Maybe not ax murder, but some kind of violence? They also leave Joey’s fucked up corpse on the lawn of the halfway house, in full view of the teenagers, until the paramedics arrive.

Then random people start getting murdered and everyone suspects it’s Jason, even though he’s supposedly dead. As far as the audience can tell, it is Jason because he goes around murdering every teenager he finds while wearing a hockey mask. Eventually, Tommy kills Jason again and it’s revealed that the killer wasn’t Jason, but instead one of the paramedics who was actually Joey’s father. BECAUSE THAT’S SATISFYING AND MAKES SENSE!

Ugh. These movies will continue to be boring and uninteresting until the killer either makes sense or we get any kind of context on the killer. Otherwise, he’s just picking off naked teenagers over and over again.

Christopher

This was the first Friday the 13th that really took a right turn. There is still murder but it’s more of a mystery because we do not know if the real Jason is doing all this or if it’s another murderer. The story of this film is how Tommy, the kid who killed Jason at the end of Part IV, is now an adult and crazy from that traumatic night. It seems like that up to this point he has been in and out of foster/mental homes and is now on the way to some child recovery farm. Basically it seems to be a place where young adults with drug or mental issues go there right before they are ready to be released back into the world, I guess? So basically it’s the perfect place for people to die, and they do, immediately, without a killer!

Now the story is still weak but at least it’s different! I enjoyed watching this one, same stuff but different context.

 

BEAUTY SHOP (2005)

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Christopher

I barely remember watching this. I can’t say that there is a lot to take away from this. Hrmmm, yea, I can’t even remember what the story was really. It must have been fantastic!!!!!!!

Elizabeth

You should check out Beauty Shop if you’re interested in a movie that is racist, sexist, homophobic, and boring. Want to see Kevin Bacon try and fail to play a gay hair stylist with any humor or subtlety? Here it is!  Want to see rapper Birdman play what we can only presume is a pimp with a heart of gold? Here it is! There’s also a character that everyone makes fun of and assumes is gay because he’s a man working in a beauty salon (braiding hair, that’s it), until we learn he’s not and suddenly he’s a catch. A.) Nothing about him came off as gay, especially his flirting with women and B.) Is he going to be dying to go out with women that not only assumed he was gay, but ridiculed him for it?

Watch this movie if you want to be sad.

HALLOWEEN II (1981)

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Elizabeth

I didn’t like Halloween and after now watching Halloween II I don’t really understand why there were two movies. Halloween was boring and only picks up in action toward the very end. Luckily, Halloween II literally picks up right where Halloween left off, so it at least started off much less boring than Halloween.

Laurie (Jamie Lee Curtis) is taken to the hospital to treat the injuries Michael Myers gave her in Halloween. So the action moves from a neighborhood to the hospital, where the events are pretty similar to Halloween. Michael wants to kill Laurie, but instead just one-by-one kills people who don’t even know they’re being stalked. We find out that Laurie is actually Michael’s younger sister, which sheds light as to why he’s targeting her, but still doesn’t help explain why Michael has always been hell-bent on murdering his sisters. Dr. Loomis (Donald Pleasence) essentially says he thinks Michael is this immortal, pure evil beast after Michael survived being shot six times and falling off a second floor balcony. So . . . is he a pure evil beast? He does keep surviving fatal attacks, after all. Or is he just a deranged human killer who can just take a lot of shit? We’re never told, and at this point it feels like it’s because the filmmakers don’t know, either.

This was less boring than Halloween because there was more action, but it still just feel into the category of a slasher movie with no real motivation.

Christopher

Obviously Elizabeth and I have been focusing on the Friday the 13th series, but Halloween is still a series I would like to watch through as well. As I think I mentioned before, Michael Myers scared the shit out of me when I first learned about him. I was fairly old, probably like middle school? But someone had the Michael mask at a sleepover birthday party I went to and I have a very vivid memory sitting up with fear that whole night. I can still smell the mask. Actually, I just bought that Gorilla Tape and it had the exact plastically smell. It was a weird feeling smelling it when I opened it up. It was one of those things where I have been looking for that smell again but have not come across it again until now. Anyway, Halloween, the idea, scared me and made me want to never see any of these movies.

When Elizabeth and I watched Halloween in theaters last year, I was so disappointed by how not scary it really was. The actual movie was nowhere near as horrifying as the movie I created in my head.

But I also kind of love that. Now that I’m adult I can look at this film in a whole new perspective and an idea that I thought would murder me in my sleep, is now something I can make fun of with Elizabeth.

Halloween II I do think is more interesting than the first one. I thought it kept my interest way more than the first movie. I also like that they got right into the action. In this movie it’s basically just Michael going around a hospital killing people. It’s really clear why more people don’t realize he’s there and go to stop him, but logic never seems to be a factor in these kinds of movies. I think what does get me about this franchise though is the music. I do really love that and it gets me excited to see what’s to come. Too bad the movies couldn’t create a more interesting villain than Michael Myers. Yes, he’s a “monster” but can’t we get more about the person than a doctor running around the whole time screaming he’s not human?

I can only assume the movies get worse and more mystical from here.

THE NIGHTMARE (2015)

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Christopher

I did not know anything about sleep paralysis before this movie. Now that I know more it’s absolutely horrifying and I feel so bad for any individuals dealing with this issue.

That being said, this was not a very good movie. I did think that it was shot really well and looked beautiful. However, the whole movie is one story over and over and over and over. We just keep talking to people with this issue and what happens to them in their dreams.

I think this movie would have been far more successful if they had some variety in the people they talked to. The individuals with sleep paralysis constantly talk about doctors not believing/understanding this issue but they never once talk to an actual doctor. There is way too much just listening to the individuals with this issue talking about why it sucks. A few long scenes are just watching this one guy almost philosophize about it but it’s shot with very low quality that it just seems like we’re watching this guy rant on YouTube.

I will say I was nervous about sleeping after this, but that’s really the only thing I walked away with from this film.

Elizabeth

I really wanted to like The Nightmare. It’s rare that I come across a documentary that is legitimately scary (actually the only ones I can think of are from the Paradise Lost series), so I was excited about that. And it is sort of scary, but only in the same way that it’s sort of not terrible.

The problem is that The Nightmare does not feel at all complete. The documentary is all about sleep paralysis and follows some people who suffer from it. It grabs you from the beginning with that, recreating the images and nightmares that people see when they suffer from sleep paralysis. And the movie did a great job of showing how scary it must be to experience. But . . . that’s just kind of it.

What causes sleep paralysis? What’s going on in your mind/body when it happens? Questions like that are never answered and are even barely acknowledged. By that I mean, if no one knows what causes sleep paralysis, that’s okay. But tell us that, at least, so we as an audience don’t think it’s just the filmmakers that don’t know. After about the first 30 minutes, the movie just sort of keeps repeating itself – especially because most of the people they follow have very similar experiences. The similar experiences are supposed to come off as creepy, but instead it just sounds repetitive.

So yeah, I don’t know. It might be worth watching if you want to see a weirder-than-normal documentary, but if you actually want to learn anything I wouldn’t waste your time with this one.

CRITTERS (1986)

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Elizabeth

Yeah . . . I only agreed to watch this knowing we will eventually watch Critters 3, Leonardo DiCaprio’s film debut. Hope it’s worth it . . .

Christopher

I’ve always wanted to see this just from seeing the cover at Blockbuster as a kid. I always thought it was just a rip off of Gremlins. It is but the story is way more straightforward than Gremlins. I also saw a second of the first live action Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie and Raphael sees or walks by a theater playing this.

I also wanted to see this because Leonardo DiCaprio’s first acting role is in the 3rd Critters movie. Since I don’t like watching/reading stuff out of order, I had to watch the first one first. The movie really is plain and simple. However there is a third party in this film that is not evil or good, which I found at least a little interesting.

The story is that the critters are on some kind of space prison, they escape and come to earth, while a human family tries to defend themselves against these CRITTERS, the alien police are also trying to capture them. Pretty easy to follow and fun. When you think about it too much though it really doesn’t make much sense. For example, these critters are dangerous, but a modern day family basically brings them down? They really just seem like space rodents more than scary villains.

I’m glad I watched this but definitely not good movie.

ENCOUNTERS AT THE END OF THE WORLD (2007)

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Christopher

Watching this movie was kind of a strange experience. I believe I had seen this movie before but I only remembered a few scenes. I assume I saw this in one of my film classes in college, which would explain why I don’t remember a lot, but I’m really glad we watched this. It’s a movie that’s easy to get lost in and before you know it, the credits are scrolling by.

What makes Encounters at the End of the World so great is its connection to both nature and man. The setup of the film is that Werner Herzog is going to the South Pole to film. That’s pretty much it. But what makes the movie are the types of characters that are in the South Pole and what brought them there in the first place. This movie feels like a way more successful The Parking Lot Movie. Where The Parking Lot Movie is interested in philosophy students/adults parking cars, Encounters at the End of the World has a much more interesting subject base, while still staying focused on one constant, they all ended up in the South Pole. While weaving in and out of individuals’ lives, their stories also reveal the beauty of the South Pole as a giant monument within nature.

This movie is wonderful and really ended before I was ready for it to. This is a movie I would love to see what kind of behind of scenes footage there might be. Along with individuals who might of told a story but ended up on the cutting room floor.

Elizabeth

At this point I’ve probably seen Encounters at the End of the World about five times. Of all the types of movies I watch repeatedly, documentaries are way down on the list. But there’s just something about Encounters at the End of the World; the first time I finished watching it, I just immediately wanted to watch it again.

First, you’ve got the narration of director Werner Herzog. Herzog’s narration is like no other, from the sound of his voice to the shit he says. He’s funny, weird, and completely genuine. He treats the characters he meets with such care and respect that even when he pokes fun at them a little, it seems to come from a place more of respect and awe than actual ridicule.

Then you’ve got the images themselves. There are several long sequences in Encounters at the End of the World that show nothing but ocean life against intense choral music. That sounds boring, and maybe it would be from another director, but instead these sequences just put you in this crazy, nature-induced-trance. Everything looks so crazy and surreal. But of course, there’s also all the shots that take place above water of the seemingly endless Antarctic landscape. The scenery is very beautiful and all the animals are pretty cute, so it’s also not boring. But probably the biggest element to Encounters at the End of the World is the people of Antarctica. I assumed everyone in Antarctica would be some kind of scientist or engineer. While that is still mostly true, there’s also a good amount of just random characters who for one reason or another just sort of ended up in Antarctica, like a long-winded linguist who works with greenhouse plants (as he points out, he found himself to be a linguist in a land without its own language). As much as nature intrigues Herzog, he’s obviously just as, if not more, interested in the people. I don’t blame him, either; so many different people came from such crazy situations to find themselves in Antarctica it would be hard to not just interview every single person you came across.

I honestly can’t say enough about Encounters at the End of the World. Even if you somehow hated the movie, you’d still have plenty of Herzog dialogue to make fun of.