REVIEW: HALLOWEEN (2007)

CAST

Scout Taylor-Compton (The Core)
Malcolm McDowell (Star Trek: Generations)
Brad Dourif (Curse of Chucky)
Tyler Mane (X-Men)
Daeg Faerch (Hanock)
Sheri Moon Zombie (The Devil’s Rejects)
William Forsythe (The Rock)
Richard Lynch (Puppet Master 3)
Udo Kier (Blade)
Danny Trejo (Machete)
Danielle Harris (Left For Dead)
Kristina Klebe (Police State)
Courtney Gains (Children of The Corn)
Skyler Gisondo (The Three Stooges)
Dee Wallace (E.T.)
Bill Moseley (Army of Darkness)
Lew Temple (Domino)
Tom Towles (Fortress)
Leslie Easterbrook (Police Academy)
Pat Skipper (Erin Brockovich)
Daryl Sabara (Spy Kids)
Richmond Arquette (Broken Blood)
Ken Foree (The Lords of Salem)
Daniel Roebuck (Final Destination)
Sid Haig (The Devil’s Rejects)

On Halloween in Haddonfield, Illinois, having already shown signs of psychopathic tendencies, 10-year-old Michael Myers (Daeg Faerch) murders a school bully. Later that night, he murders his older sister Judith (Hanna R. Hall), his mother’s abusive boyfriend Ronnie (William Forsythe), and Judith’s boyfriend Steve (Adam Weisman). Only his baby sister, Angel Myers, is spared. After one of the longest trials in the state’s history, Michael is found guilty of first degree murder and sent to Smith’s Grove — Warren County Sanitarium under the care of child psychologist Dr. Samuel Loomis (Malcolm McDowell). Michael initially cooperates with Dr. Loomis, claiming no memory of the killings; his mother, Deborah (Sheri Moon Zombie), visits him regularly. Michael becomes fixated on his papier-mâché masks, closing himself off from everyone, even his mother. When Michael kills a nurse as Deborah is leaving from one of her visits, she can no longer handle the situation and commits suicide. For the next fifteen years, Michael (Tyler Mane) continues making his masks and not speaking to anyone. Dr. Loomis, having continued to treat Michael over the years, attempts to move on with his life and closes Michael’s case. Later, while being prepared for transfer to maximum security, Michael escapes Smith’s Grove, killing the sanitarium employees and a truck driver for his overalls, and makes his way back to Haddonfield. On Halloween, Michael arrives at his now abandoned childhood home, where he recovers the kitchen knife and Halloween mask.
The story shifts to Laurie Strode (Scout Taylor-Compton), and her friends Annie Brackett (Danielle Harris) and Lynda Van Der Klok (Kristina Klebe) on Halloween. Throughout the day, Laurie witnesses Michael watching her from a distance. That night, she goes to babysit Tommy Doyle (Skyler Gisondo). Meanwhile, Lynda meets with her boyfriend Bob (Nick Mennell) at Michael’s childhood home. Michael appears, murders them, and then heads to the Strode home, where he murders Laurie’s parents, Mason (Pat Skipper) and Cynthia (Dee Wallace). Dr. Loomis, having been alerted of Michael’s escape, comes to Haddonfield looking for Michael. After obtaining a gun, Loomis attempts to warn Sheriff Brackett (Brad Dourif) that Michael has returned to Haddonfield. Brackett and Dr. Loomis head to the Strode home, with Brackett explaining along the way that Laurie is actually Michael’s sister Angel.
Meanwhile, Annie convinces Laurie to babysit Lindsey Wallace (Jenny Gregg Stewart), a girl Annie is supposed to be watching, so she can have sex with her boyfriend Paul (Max Van Ville). Annie and Paul return to the Wallace home and during sex, Michael kills Paul and attacks Annie. Bringing Lindsey home, Laurie finds Annie on the floor, bloodied but alive, and calls the police. She is attacked by Michael, who chases her back to the Doyle home. Sheriff Brackett and Loomis hear the call announced over the radio and head toward the Wallace residence. Meanwhile, Michael kidnaps Laurie and takes her back to his home. Michael approaches Laurie and tries to show her that she is his younger sister, presenting a picture of the two siblings with their mother. Unable to understand, Laurie grabs Michael’s knife and stabs him before escaping the house; Michael chases her, but is repeatedly shot by Dr. Loomis.Laurie and Loomis are just about to leave when Michael grabs Laurie and heads back to the house. Loomis intervenes and tries to reason with Michael, but Michael attacks him by squeezing Loomis’s skull with his hands. Laurie takes Loomis’s gun and runs upstairs; she is chased by Michael, who, after cornering her on a balcony, charges her head-on, knocking both of them over the railing. Laurie finds herself on top of a bleeding Michael. Aiming Loomis’ gun at his face, she repeatedly pulls the trigger until the gun finally goes off just as Michael’s hand grips Laurie’s wrist.
I like this film. It does not diminish my enjoyment of Carpenter’s original, and neither does Carpenter’s original diminish my enjoyment of this film. As far as I’m concerned, they can co-exist as entirely separate entities, to be appreciated on their own terms.

REVIEW: MADE OF HONOUR

CAST

Patrick Demsey (Transformers 3)
Michelle Monaghan (Kiss Kiss Bang Bang)
Kevin McKidd (Dog Soldiers)
Kathleen Quinlan (Apollo 13)
Sydney Pollack (Eyes Wide Shut)
Chris Messina (Birds of Prey)
Kadeem Hardison (Biker Boyz)
Richmond Arquette (Fight Club)
Busy Philipps (He’s Just Not That Into You)
Whitney Cummings (The Wedding Ringer)
Kevin Sussman (The Big Bang Theory)
Kelly Carlson (Nip/Tuck)
Beau Garrett (Tron: Legacy)
Clive Russell (The Wolfman)
Sarah Wright (American Made)
Jaime Ray Newman (Bates Motel)
Ron Donachie (Game of Thrones)

On Halloween night, 1998, at Cornell University, Tom Bailey, Jr. (Patrick Dempsey), in costume as Bill Clinton, slips into bed with his pre-arranged date, Monica. It turns out to be the wrong woman, Monica’s roommate Hannah (Michelle Monaghan), and Tom likes her because she is so honest and does not fling herself at him. Ten years later, Hannah and Tom are best friends. Tom is very wealthy because of his creation of the “coffee collar” and gets a dime every time it is used. Tom is with a different girl every week, while Hannah focuses on her career in an art museum. He is very content with his life, suspecting that Hannah is too.After Tom takes Hannah to his father’s (Sydney Pollack) sixth wedding, Hannah tells Tom she must go to Scotland for work. While she’s gone, Tom discovers that without her, being with another woman week after week is not very fulfilling. He realizes that he loves Hannah and decides to tell her his feelings when she gets back. Upon returning, Hannah surprisingly announces she is engaged to a wealthy Scot named Colin (Kevin McKidd). Hannah asks Tom to be her maid of honor for her wedding. After discussing it with his friends, Tom decides to be her maid of honor, only to spend time with her and try to convince her she does not even know Colin, as well as making her realize that he loves her and she should be marrying him.After arriving in Scotland at Eilean Donan Castle for the wedding, Tom realizes he is running out of time to stop Hannah. He meets all of Colin’s family and must perform in a variant of the Highland Games, in which the groom must compete to prove himself worthy of his bride. Tom is also in the competition with Colin but loses in the last round. Tom takes Hannah out for a walk, hoping to tell her how he feels. The other bridesmaids interrupt for Hannah’s bachelorette party. On her Hen Night, Hannah parades around a pub and sells her kisses for change. As she goes around, Hannah then kisses Tom. Though it just started as a peck on the cheek, it turns into a passionate kiss.That night, Hannah confronts Tom to ask about the kiss. When she gets to his room, her drunk cousin is there, trying to have sex with him. Hannah leaves and Tom runs after her. He knocks on her door, pleading for her to let him in. She refuses and asks about the kiss. He tells her he knew he, not Colin, was the one for her. She refuses to say that she thinks so too and instead tells Tom that she still expects to marry Colin the next day. Tom cannot go through with watching Hannah and Colin get married so he decides to go home.When questioned about his sudden departure shortly before the wedding is to take place, Hannah informs Colin that Tom is just afraid of losing her. On the way home, Tom realizes that he must stop the wedding and goes back on horseback. Just when the priest asks for objections, Tom is sent flying off his horse and through the chapel doors. Seeing her best friend on the floor, Hannah rushes to him. As he struggles to stand up, he tells her that he loves her more than anything and that she should marry him. They then share a kiss. Hannah tells Colin that she is very sorry and that he is the perfect guy, just not the perfect guy for her. Colin’s grandmother then tells Colin, in Scots, to “deck” Tom, which he does without hesitation. Hannah and Tom eventually get married. Melissa catches the bouquet and then links arms with Tom’s dad, to which he says “Number 6?” and his lawyer says “7”. Hannah and Tom go on their honeymoon. Tom turns on the light just to see if he has got the right girl and Hannah replies “You do”. The two kiss and as Hannah turns off the light, Tom says “Oh, Monica” and Hannah replies “Oh, Bill.”For the most part Made of Honor is by the numbers romantic comedy. Sydney Pollack provides welcome comic relief and staid fatherly advice. Kathleen Quilan is great in the supporting role of Hannah’s mother Joan. Too bad she doesn’t have a bigger role. But she has a moving moment with Monaghan as Mom talks about Hannah’s late father. Made of Honor  is enjoyable for what it is: cookie cutter romantic comedy. We can suspend our disbelief, because Dempsey and Monaghan are great together.

REVIEW: SEVEN

CAST

Brad Pitt (Allied)
Morgan Freeman (The Dark Knight)
Gwyneth Paltrow (Iron Man)
Kevin Spacey (Superman Returns)
R. Lee Ermey (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre)
John C. McGinley (Scrubs)
Richard Roundtree (Shaft)
Richard Schiff (Man of Steel)
Leland Orser (Alien: Resurrection)
Mark Boone Junior (Batman Begins)
Richmond Arquette (Zodiac)
Charles S. Dutton (Alien 3)

In an unnamed American city, soon-to-be-retiring detective William Somerset is partnered with short-tempered but idealistic David Mills, who recently transferred to the department, moving to the city with his wife Tracy. Mills introduces Somerset to Tracy, after which Somerset becomes her confidant. Tracy is unhappy with the city and feels it is no place to raise a child. She discloses to Somerset that she is pregnant and has yet to inform her husband. Somerset sympathizes with her, having a similar situation with his ex-girlfriend many years earlier, and advises her to tell Mills only if she plans on keeping the child.Somerset and Mills investigate a pair of murders. The first victim is an obese man forced to eat until his stomach ruptured. The second was a wealthy defense attorney who died from both fatal bloodletting and the removal of a pound of flesh. At each crime scene, the murderer leaves behind clues for the detectives, including a single word: gluttony at the obese man’s home and greed at the attorney’s office. Somerset recognizes them as part of the seven deadly sins and realizes the murders are related. Other clues lead them to a possible perpetrator’s apartment. There, they find another victim, a known drug dealer and child molester, strapped to a bed, barely alive and emaciated, with a series of pictures indicating he had been tied to the bed for an entire year. The word sloth is scrawled on the wall. The photos also indicate the killer has been planning these deaths for some time.Somerset and Mills identify a man named John Doe, who has checked out several library books on the deadly sins. Doe flees when they go to his apartment, and Mills gives chase. Doe eventually corners Mills and holds him at gunpoint, but after a few moments, turns and escapes. At Doe’s apartment, they find hundreds of handwritten journals showing Doe’s apparent psychopathy, and clues leading to a fourth victim. They arrive too late to prevent the death of the victim, a prostitute killed by an unwilling man forced by Doe to wear a bladed S&M phallic device on his genitals and to rape and kill her while severely traumatizing him. They find lust written on the door. They are alerted to their next victim, an attractive young woman, presumably a model, whose face has been mutilated by Doe; she was given the option to call for help and be disfigured, or to commit suicide by taking pills. She chose suicide. The word pride is written on her wall.Shortly after, as Somerset and Mills return to the police station, they are approached by a man covered in blood, surrendering himself. Mills recognizes him as Doe and arrests him. They discover Doe has been removing the skin on his fingers to avoid leaving behind prints; the blood on him is from a yet-to-be-identified victim. Doe, through his lawyer, advises there are two more victims and offers to take the detectives to them and confess to all the murders, but only under very specific terms, or he will otherwise plead insanity. Somerset is wary, but Mills agrees.The two detectives, following Doe’s directions, drive him to a remote desert location. Within minutes, a delivery van approaches them. Mills holds Doe at gunpoint while Somerset goes to intercept the driver, who had been instructed to bring a box to them. As Somerset recovers the box and sends the driver away, Doe begins telling Mills about how jealous he is of Mills’ life and marriage to Tracy, antagonizing Mills. Somerset opens the box, and in horror, tells Mills to stay back and not listen to Doe. Doe continues to taunt Mills as Mills frantically asks what is in the box. Doe reveals that he was so jealous of Mills that he killed Tracy, her death being a result of his envy, and that her head is in the box. Doe tries to goad Mills into vengeance, to become wrath and shoot him. Somerset desperately tries to convince Mills not to shoot Doe, but then Doe reveals that Tracy was pregnant. The revelation is too much for Mills and he shoots Doe six times. Doe’s death completes the seven sins. Police converge and take a devastated Mills away. The police captain reassures Somerset that Mills will be taken care of. When asked by the Police Captain where he will be, Somerset hints that he will not retire.A film deserving of the term ‘classic’ and arguable one of the best serial killer thrillers ever made. The last 10 minutes are some of the most tense of any I can remember.

REVIEW: THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON

CAST

Brad Pitt (World War Z)
Cate Blanchett (The Hobbit)
Tilda Swinton (Doctor Strange)
Taraji P. Henson (Date Night)
Julia Ormond (Resistance)
Jason Flemyng (Rob Roy)
Mahershala Ali (Luke Cage)
Phyllis Somerville (Little Children)
Jared Harris (Lincoln)
Elias Koteas (Crash)
Tom Everett (Die Hard 2)
Elle Fanning (Maleficent)
Josh Stewart (No Ordinary Family)
Ilia Volok (Power Rangers Wild Force)
Richmond Arquette (Zodiac)
Louis Herthum (Westworld)
Edith Ivey (Robocop 3)

In 2005, elderly Daisy Fuller is on her deathbed in a New Orleans hospital as Hurricane Katrina approaches; she asks her daughter, Caroline, to read aloud from the diary of Benjamin Button.

From the reading, it is revealed that on the evening of November 11, 1918, a boy was born with the appearance and physical maladies of an elderly man. The baby’s mother died after giving birth, and the father, Thomas Button, abandons the infant on the porch of a nursing home. Queenie and Mr. “Tizzy” Weathers, workers at the nursing home, find the baby, and Queenie decides to care for him as her own.

Benjamin learns to walk in 1925; he declares it a miracle, after which he uses crutches in place of a wheelchair. On Thanksgiving 1930, Benjamin meets seven-year-old Daisy, whose grandmother lives in the nursing home. He and Daisy become good friends. Later, he accepts work on a tugboat captained by Mike Clark. Benjamin also meets Thomas Button, who does not reveal that he is Benjamin’s father. In Autumn 1936, Benjamin leaves New Orleans for a long-term work engagement with the tugboat crew; Daisy later is accepted into a dance company in New York City under choreographer George Balanchine. In 1941, Benjamin is in Murmansk, where he begins having an affair with Elizabeth Abbott, wife of the British Trade Minister. That December, Japan attacks Pearl Harbor, thrusting the United States into World War II. Mike volunteers the boat for the U.S. Navy; the crew is assigned to salvage duties. During a patrol, the tugboat finds a sunken U.S. transport and the bodies of many American troops. A German submarine surfaces; Mike steers the tugboat full speed towards it while a German gunner fires on the tugboat, killing most of the crew, including Mike. The tugboat rams the submarine, causing it to explode, sinking both vessels. Benjamin and another crewman are rescued by U.S. Navy ships the next day.

In May 1945, Benjamin returns to New Orleans and reunites with Queenie. A few weeks later, he reunites with Daisy; they go out for dinner. Upon failing to seduce him afterward, she departs. Benjamin later reunites with Thomas Button, who, terminally ill, reveals he is Benjamin’s father and wills Benjamin his button company and his estate. In 1947, Benjamin visits Daisy in New York unannounced but departs upon seeing that she has fallen in love with someone else. In 1954, Daisy’s dancing career ends when her leg is crushed in an automobile accident in Paris. When Benjamin visits her, Daisy is amazed by his youthful appearance, but, frustrated by her injuries, she tells him to stay out of her life.

In spring 1962, Daisy returns to New Orleans and reunites with Benjamin. Now of comparable physical age, they fall in love and go sailing together. They return to learn that Queenie has died, then move in together. In 1967, Daisy, who has opened a ballet studio, tells Benjamin that she is pregnant; she gives birth to a girl, Caroline, in the spring of 1968. Believing he can not be a proper father to his daughter due to his reverse aging, Benjamin departs after selling his belongings, leaving a bank account book holding the proceeds behind for Daisy and Caroline; he travels alone during the 1970s. Benjamin returns to Daisy in 1980. Now married, Daisy introduces him, as a family friend, to her husband and daughter. Daisy admits that he was right to leave; she could not have coped otherwise. She later visits Benjamin at his hotel, where they again share their passion for each other, then part once more.

In 1990, widowed Daisy is contacted by social workers who have found Benjamin—now physically a pre-teen. When she arrives, they explain that he was living in a condemned building and was taken to the hospital in poor physical condition, and that they found her name in his diary. The bewildered social workers also say he is displaying early signs of dementia. Daisy moves into the nursing home in 1997 and cares for Benjamin for the rest of his life. In the spring of 2003, Benjamin dies in Daisy’s arms, physically an infant but chronologically 84 years of age. Having finally revealed the story of Caroline’s father to her, Daisy dies as Hurricane Katrina approaches.
It is an extremely graceful depiction of life, love, and the things we lose. After so much anticipation I was certainly not disappointed. This movie is probably not for everyone though. It’s not your average drama that spoon feeds it’s audience their emotions. It is something of awe and astonishment, an absolute gem. What makes our lives memorable are the moments we never seem to grasp long enough before letting go. Life in itself is indeed very, very curious and Benjamin Button is no less of a wonder.

REVIEW: FIGHT CLUB

CAST

Brad Pitt (Killing Them Softly)
Edward Norton (The Incredible Hulk)
Helena Bonham Carter (Alice In Wonderland)
Meat Loaf (Bloodrayne)
Zach Grenier (The Good Wife)
Richmond Arquette (Zodiac)
Jared Leto (Suicide Squad)
David Andrews (Terminator 3)
Christina Cabot (Hostage)
Tim DeZarn (The Cabin In The Woods)
Holt McCallany (Justice League)
Michael Shamus Wiles (Breaking Bad)

The unnamed Narrator (Edward Norton) is a traveling automobile recall specialist who suffers from insomnia. One night, he visits a support group for testicular cancer victims, where they assume that he, too, is a victim, and he spontaneously weeps into the nurturing arms of another man, finding a “freedom” that euphorically relieves his insomnia. He becomes addicted to participating in support groups of various kinds, always allowing the groups to assume that he suffers what they do. However, he begins to notice another impostor, Marla Singer (Helena Bonham Carter), whose presence disturbs his bliss. The two negotiate to avoid their attending the same groups, but, before going their separate ways, Marla gives the Narrator her phone number.On a flight home from a business trip, the Narrator meets Tyler Durden (Brad Pitt), a soap salesman with whom he begins to converse after noticing the two share the same kind of briefcase. After the flight, the Narrator returns home to find that his apartment has been demolished by an explosion. He calls Tyler and they meet at a bar. A conversation about consumerism leads to the Narrator moving into Tyler’s dilapidated mansion. Outside the bar, Tyler requests that the Narrator hit him, which leads the two to engage in a fistfight. They have further fights outside the bar on subsequent nights, and these fights attract growing crowds of men. The fighting eventually moves to the bar’s basement where the men form a “fight club,” a routine opportunity for the men to fight recreationally.Marla overdoses on pills and telephones the Narrator for help; he ignores her, but Tyler answers the call and saves her. Tyler and Marla become sexually involved, and Tyler warns the Narrator never to talk to Marla about him. More fight clubs form across the country and, under Tyler’s leadership, they become the anti-materialist and anti-corporate organization called “Project Mayhem.” The Narrator complains to Tyler that he wants to be more involved in the organization, but then Tyler suddenly disappears. When a member of Project Mayhem is killed by the police during a botched sabotage operation, the Narrator tries to shut down the project, and follows evidence of Tyler’s national travels to track him down. In one city, a Project member greets the Narrator as Tyler Durden. The Narrator calls Marla from his hotel room and discovers that Marla also believes him to be Tyler. He suddenly sees Tyler in his room, and Tyler reveals that they are dissociated personalities in the same body. When the Narrator has believed himself to be asleep, Tyler has been controlling his body and travelling to different locations.The Narrator blacks out after the conversation, and when he awakes, he uncovers Tyler’s plans to erase debt by destroying buildings that contain credit card companies’ records. The Narrator tries to contact the police, but finds that the officers are members of the Project. He attempts to disarm the explosives in a building, but Tyler subdues him and moves him to the uppermost floor. The Narrator, held at gunpoint by Tyler, realizes that, in sharing the same body with Tyler, he himself is actually holding the gun. He fires it into his mouth, shooting through the cheek without killing himself. Tyler collapses with an exit wound to the back of his head, and the Narrator stops mentally projecting him. Afterward, Project Mayhem members bring a kidnapped Marla to him, believing him to be Tyler, and leave them alone. The explosives detonate, collapsing many buildings around them; the Narrator and Marla, holding hands, look on.This movie has a raw energy that grips you every time you watch it. What a crazy, fun ride! Whether it is a very clever satire or pure testosterone going on a rampage – both are fine by me. A film so visually stunning and sexy, with career best performances by all involved – welcome to movie heaven.