Photo collage by Kristiana Schmidt

2014 Film Nights in the Park Summer Schedule

Summer is here, San Francisco, which means it’s once again time to grab your picnic baskets, blankets, sweatshirts, scarfs and friends and head out to the park for some free ...

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Instead of “The Amazing Spider-Man 2″, watch these 20 MOVIES ABOUT SPIDERS

Hey guys! The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is opening on May 2nd! You know where I’ll be opening day? At home. Drinking beer. Watching movies about big-ass spiders.

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Remake Wars #2: The Blob (1958) vs. The Blob (1988)

  Inspired by fellow Filmbalaya writer Nick Petrick’s battle between two versions of Lolita, I’ve decided to do a Remake War of my own, and it’s one that sci-fi and ...

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All Things August: Akira Kurosawa’s “Rhapsody in August”

rhapsody-in-august-main-reviewWhen it comes to watching films of certain eras, genres, sub-genres, or countries, or watching films made by certain directors, cinematographers, studios, or even ones featuring certain actors, let’s face it, we can’t possibly see them all. Now, as diverse as I like to pride myself as being, I too have a number of gaps to fill within my ever ongoing quest to sample as much from the vast smorgasbord of film history as I possibly can before I die. This is why, starting this month (August) I will dedicate the last two weeks of each month to watching as many films as I can to movies that have the name of the month somewhere within their titles. Hopefully, come 12 months from now, this will be one more silly sub-sub-category of films that I can cross off my need-to-watch list. Read More…

All Things August: Mario Bava’s “5 Dolls for an August Moon”

5dolls02When it comes to watching films of certain eras, genres, sub-genres, or countries, or watching films made by certain directors, cinematographers, studios, or even ones featuring certain actors, let’s face it, we can’t possibly see them all. Now, as diverse as I like to pride myself as being, I too have a number of gaps to fill within my ever ongoing quest to sample as much from the vast smorgasbord of film history as I possibly can before I die. This is why, starting this month (August) I will dedicate the last two weeks of each month to watching as many films as I can to movies that have the name of the month somewhere within their titles. Hopefully, come 12 months from now, this will be one more silly sub-sub-category of films that I can cross off my need-to-watch list. Read More…

Brett Ratner’s “Hercules” – Review and Trailer

g2lgi4suozw8dmtakrnofour-stars4I can’t believe two Hercules movies were released in 2014 in the span of seven months. I can’t believe that I paid money to watch both of them.

Two things before we begin: again, Hercules movies are never remembered for the plot, and while he may be Hollywood’s current franchise Viagra, Dwayne Johnson hasn’t made many quality standalone films. Therefore, who would’ve guessed in a million years that another freakin’ Hercules story— this one directed by Brett Ratner and adapted from the 2008 graphic novel Hercules: The Thracian Wars by Steve Moore (who died only four months prior to the film‘s release)— would give us life? Among the obligatory close-ups of The Rock’s rock-hard bod is a picture that succeeds in finally lending some big-screen dignity to the character. Hey, it only took 57 years. Read More…

Off With Your Hate! In Defense of Alice

Alice-In-Wonderland-Image1On August 3, 2014, Through the Looking Glass, the completely unnecessary sequel to Tim Burton’s garish 2010 blockbuster Alice in Wonderland, officially went into production. With James Bobin, director of the disappointing Muppets movies, replacing Burton in the wheelhouse, and nearly all of the main cast returning (minus Crispin Glover’s Knave of Hearts), the picture is scheduled for a May 2016 release. Meh.

I’m among the distant minority who legitimately enjoyed the original. So why don’t I want a sequel? Simple: the first ended in a perfect place and the second will not have the element of surprise that made its predecessor memorable. Anyway, Burton can adapt classic books like nobody’s business, as Sleepy Hollow (1999) and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005) can attest. Case in point, Alice in Wonderland became only the sixth film ever to gross $1 billion at the box office, it gave us a kickass heroine, and won a pair of Oscars to boot,* so it must’ve done something right. Right?

Eh, apparently not. Instead, Alice spawned a divide practically wide enough to rival that of the Bush administration. Critics (51% on Rotten Tomatoes) and moviegoers either liked it or loathed it, but it was mostly the latter. There was almost no gray area at all. Naysayers were simply aghast that such a horrible picture made such obscene box office, animosity that in retrospect seems misplaced given that the likes of Transformers and Pirates of the Caribbean are also part of the ten-figure club. Therefore, I feel compelled to stand up and counter several popular opinions fueling the invective toward Alice with some of my own. (And you know what they say about opinions.) Read More…

Days of Summer #11: Jonathan Levine’s “The Wackness” (2008)

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In my book, there’s a distinct difference between “Summer Movies” and “Movies to Watch During Summer”, although they’re not mutually exclusive terms. While the term “Summer Movie” denotes a big-budget Hollywood blockbuster released during the months of May, June, July, or August, it is typically the case that these films have very little to do with the actual season. In this feature, I’ll be ranting and raving about my favorite “Movies to Watch During Summer”, to anybody who cares to listen. Read More…

Catching up with Cassavetes: #5 – “Husbands” (1970)

vlcsnap-485425Wow. What a film. Talk about a movie that just screams I am man! Now, I won’t say I was happy to have spent three hours with three unlikable rude jerks, but I wouldn’t want to ever take back those three hours either.

Picking up where Faces (his previous film) left off, Cassavetes intentions seem to once again be to immerse the audience in a world of the white suburban middle-aged middle-class alcoholics, only this time with longer takes within uncomfortably long scenes of bullying, vomiting, and adultery. This is not an easy film to sit through, especially for those used to more mainstream fare where storylines are continually dumbed down. Sitting through Husbands is like having all the ugly parts of ones mid-life crisis magnified and held in front of our eyes is if a staring contest is being held against your will. Like I said earlier, wow. What a film. Read More…

Days of Summer #10: Joel Schumacher’s “Falling Down” (1993)

dfensIn my book, there’s a distinct difference between “Summer Movies” and “Movies to Watch During Summer”, although they’re not mutually exclusive terms. While the term “Summer Movie” denotes a big-budget Hollywood blockbuster released during the months of May, June, July, or August, it is typically the case that these films have very little to do with the actual season. In this feature, I’ll be ranting and raving about my favorite “Movies to Watch During Summer”, to anybody who cares to listen.

Read More…

Days of Summer #9: Steven Spielberg’s “Jaws” (1975)

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In my book, there’s a distinct difference between “Summer Movies” and “Movies to Watch During Summer”, although they’re not mutually exclusive terms. While the term “Summer Movie” denotes a big-budget Hollywood blockbuster released during the months of May, June, July, or August, it is typically the case that these films have very little to do with the actual season. In this feature, I’ll be ranting and raving about my favorite “Movies to Watch During Summer”, to anybody who cares to listen.

Read More…

Catching up with Cassavetes: #4 – “Faces” (1968)

7020358961_8a71a446db_zAnd I thought films such as Blue Velvet (1986), American Beauty (1999), and Revolutionary Road (2008) did a good job at encapsulating the mood of the soul crushing suburbs. Enter John CassavetesFaces (1968).

The ability to project moods of uncomfortableness through a film is something few directors can ever pull off with any worthwhile amount of efficiency. Yet in Cassavete’s fourth film, he and his team have managed to do just that.

Made up of several connected vignettes, each more awkward and hard to sit through than the previous one, Faces has all the qualities one would find if they were watching a home video of how unsatisfied and unhappy adults act in the wee hours of the morning long after the booze-filled party has ended. Read More…