Worst Movie Mothers

In the spirit and heart of Mothers Day I thought I would highlight those who shouldn’t be receiving any flowers or cards this year! They can’t all be sweet and innocent like Mrs Gump or as protective and destructive as Uma Thurman in Kill Bill; so here is my list of the top five worst mums in films.

Everybody knows Stifler’s mum (Jennifer Coolidge) in the American Pie franchise.  She isn’t exactly the best role model, sleeping with one of your son’s best friends on a pool table and adding a whole new category to porn, I think its only fair that she’s on the list!

A real classic Sunday afternoon children’s film, Matilda (1996) . Although she ends up having one of the best foster mums, her real mother Mrs Wormwood (Rhea Perlman) is the polar opposite. Cruel, neglectful and having one of the most annoying voices known to man, she’s definitely not mother of the year.

Hitchcock’s 1960 Psycho and Mrs Bates! Controlling and possessive she spirals her son into complete madness, being a constant nag and manipulative woman she is one of films most iconic horrible mothers!

Anne Ramsey or as she might be better known as, Mama Fratelli in The Goonies. Monstrous, dominating and foul she is responsible for the runaway criminal gang’s actions and the imprisonment of her Sloth like son.

The worst mother of all time however, is the crazy, manipulative and evil Margret White better known as the mother of poor Carrie White.  Portrayed on screen by both Piper Laurie and Julianne Moore in Carrie (1967/2013) she is the most horrifying mother created, and its a good job Carrie gets her revenge with some magic knife throwing!

Hope you enjoyed the list and feel free to give your added extras! Enjoy Mother’s Day Mums!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hostel Part II (2007)

Genre: Horror

Director: Eli Roth

Writer: Eli Roth

Starring: Lauren German, Heather Matarazzo, Bijou Phillips

Rating: ★★

Hostel Part II is the second instalment of a not so successful franchise by writer and director Eli Roth. His first and original, Hostel (2005), caused headlines to name It one of the most shocking American films made in the last ten years, with a mixture of extreme gore, violence and sex. Hostel’s sequel similarly follows the same trend, bringing again the gore, sex and violence but investing in a deeper story which replaces the shock previously created. It maybe horror to watch due to the nature of the film but at times the horror comes at the hands of a sloppy and poorly made film.

The story follows a group of three girls as they side-track from a trip to Rome, Beth (Lauren German) the “sensible” character and lead protagonist, who also has a bucket load of money and her friends, Lorna (Heather Matarazzo) the typical shy reserved girl whilst Whitney (Bijou Phillips), the third companion, is the typical whorish slut. As they are distracted by a young Slovakian Model telling them to travel to the outskirts of Bratislava for a spa weekend, they encounter the corrupt town and hostel which saw mass death and torture in the previous film. Unaware the girls are soon brought by three wealthy businessmen and woman waiting to taste their blood.

Hostel II attempts to give us a bigger picture, bigger than what we saw in the first instalment. We seem to have an insight into the way the “elite hunting” organisation is run, with a look into people bidding and those behind the murders. Although it is new and innovated by Roth, it does seem to be that we start to identify with the antagonists and follow their story too much, neglecting our victims. The shock is removed, after watching Hostel we now suspect everyone in the town and we just wait for the killing to start, however it takes a long time with the action only starting after the half-way point. The gore however is a lot more shocking, but less frequent, a way to beat the prequel for Roth seems to be, shoot a kid, chop of a man’s nob and play football with a head.

The effects are good, however we suspect it’s all fake and it just doesn’t have the same “I can’t look” factor, but instead a more comedic over the top element which for me resembled Tarantino’s Kill Bill. Hostel II again unlike the prequel doesn’t seem to be as clever, the directing isn’t as sharp and the cuts between shots which stood out in Hostel seem to be non-existent. A good aspect though, one of the very few, seems to be the sound effects which at times is the only thing which has a scare factor.

There isn’t too much to shout about with this film, everything is average. The acting for me is very average with most of the screen time being filled up with the three girls screaming and being incredibly whiney until a really dramatic change of character in the final scenes, which of course was realistic. The story seems poorly written, its ending seems laughable as it looks like Eli Roth wanted a really quick way to end the situation and move things on. Whilst the opening sequence which follows on from Hostel, is somewhat only there to stop the audience asking questions but essentially it makes the journey of Hostel look pointless, with Eli Roth somewhat shooting himself in the foot as he imagines the potential money he can make.

There is no surprise that Hostel III went to straight to a DVD release after the second instalment of the franchise showed no promising signs at all. Hostel II doesn’t have the same effect as Hostel and tries too hard to change, which essentially ruins its concept, whilst everything is average there is the standout of some gore and sound effects but that’s all. It is most likely a better comedy than a horror which is barely entertaining to watch, with this more than typical film being waste of time and for the most part the torture is afflicted upon the audience who has to watch such a mess unfold.

 

 

Labor Day (2014)

Genre: Drama

Director: Jason Reitman

Writers: Jason Reitman, Joyce Maynard

Starring Kate Winslet, Josh Brolin, Gattlin Griffith

Rating: ★★★

Labor Day is a film which will most likely get overlooked as it dwells in its last weeks of cinema release; but I think that this more than heartfelt drama deserves some recognition and praise. A Jason Reitman adaptation from the award winning novel of the same name written by Joyce Maynard shows a real battle for love and affection which makes for an entertaining and sometimes tense watch which although not flawless, is ultimately worth-while.

The story focuses on Adele (Kate Winslet), a depressed and recently divorced single mother who has become so afraid of the cruel outside world she only leaves her house once a month for supplies. Her son, Henry (Gattlin Griffith), is a growing young teen who is dealing with the changes of his body, his mind and the pressure of dealing with family life. On the monthly trip to the store Henry bumps into Frank (Josh Brolin), a wounded fearsome escaped convict who has jumped out of a second story hospital window; offering him a ride home he stays with Adele and Henry over the Labor Day weekend whilst the police search the town and he recovers. Adele, Frank and even Henry all battle life for the same thing, affection, and this is a film which tells the story of a fight for that affection and much needed love. Adele falls in love with Frank and remembers how it feels to be loved, cared for and touched whilst Henry finds a fatherly role-model, learning baseball and even mechanics. As Frank and Adele learn each other’s lives’ and pasts they realise their need for each other, however no matter how much love they share, Frank is an on the run convict in a very small village.

The story is very heart-warming and very well-written with what I believe is three in-depth characters that really share and connect with the audience. The character of Frank shares the solemn story of why he is in prison, and we see how deep down he is much softer than his looks. Adele shares her tragedies showing herself the victim of a cruel world, however the bonding between these two strangers is pleasant to watch and seems a somewhat fait driven event. Whilst Henry’s story shows a troubled time experienced by far too many young teens in a modern society making a somewhat realistic leap. Labor Day is well executed with eventually the story tracking forward many years into the future, where the narrator (Tobey Maguire ) is now an older Henry. The ending without too many spoilers is a very nice touch to round off the film.

Kate Winslet and Josh Brolin both give very good performance’s showing their years of experience and making the story fulfil its impact upon the audience. However although a rarity, Labor Day offers a superb cast where everyone gives a great performance, Gattlin Griffith for sure, whilst younger versions and older versions of characters also play their part in adding to a real highlight aspect to the release. The direction too by Reitman was good, there were certain moments and scenes which really stood out especially for cinematography as the lighting was very impressive with these sun filled shots which appeared often.

Labor Day however did struggle slightly and created a few sloppy flaws which consequently let the film down. The pace was too slow considering how quickly the main story started; it seemed to drag especially considering the film focused on a four-day weekend. Although it contained tense moments and scenes as the police searched for Frank and unexpected visitors arrived, I felt there was a missing fulfilment of action or a climax which really turned things around. I also found at times the script and writing although good, to be too on the nose and unnecessary, such as Frank playing with and helping a disabled child to show he Is a good and innocent man which was obvious beforehand. I also found confusing how Frank spent lots of time outside, fixing gutters, walls, cars and making barbeques however despite a much closed in village filled with friendly and nosey surrounding neighbours no one spotted him. It felt that there were so many good elements to Labor Day but its attention to small errors and detail essentially for me, marred the film slightly.

Labor Day has an inviting, sad and warm story which it essentially thrives off and despite some flaws I do believe the positives are much greater in value than the negatives. A great portrayal from all the cast provides great performances, especially from our lead roles. Labor Day is entertaining film, maybe not reaching full potential however it is nevertheless a worthwhile watch which I am glad to have experienced.

 

 

Frozen (2013)

Genre: Adventure, Comedy, Animation

Directors: Jennifer Lee, Chris Buck

Writers: Hans Christian Andersen, Chris Buck, Jennifer Lee, Shane Morris, Dean Wellins

Starring: Kristen Bell, Idina Menzel, Jonathan Groff, Josh Gad

Rating: ★★★★

Frozen wasn’t the type of film I thought I would enjoy, I am not exactly the over joyous lover of princesses or all things singing and dancing unless it’s in the form of Reservoir Dogs. I can see where the appeal is for Disney’s latest phenomenon although I might have not attained it. The story is well structured, funny and has elements for every member of the audience, whilst once again Disney creates visuals that are flawless for the eye to witness. However the aspect that saw box-office storm and audiences flood was its musical twist, which although not too great in my head, was a refreshing, clever touch.

The story surrounds two princesses, sisters Anna and Elsa, tracking them through their childhood then skipping into the future. Anna is the youngest sister, a brave believer but Elsa, the oldest, is a troubled girl with a deep dark secret. Elsa is secretly been blessed as the “snow queen” with a simple and single touch can turn anything, anyone and everything into ice or snow. However when her emotions overflow this secret is exposed and trouble arises as Elsa with her magical icy powers locks their home kingdom of Arendelle in an eternal winter. Anna takes on the epic adventure and decides to look for and bring her now runaway and magical sister back home. Anna is not alone and is teamed up on her mission with newly romanced Kristoff and his loyal reindeer Sven; on a mountain of a mission they encounter everything from mystic trolls to a humorous snowman named Olaf. They soon become close to finding what seems to be a crazed Elsa, but her troubled sister believes her magical ability is only turning her into a monster.

Frozen has a strong story one which is very well structured, as you would expect from Disney. It may involve princesses but really this for me is a story about a real life occurrence involving siblings; Elsa presents the wayward stereotype whilst Anna just wants her attention, respect and love, something common of the younger sibling. It is however sugar coated and covered in funny subplots, typical hidden humour and newly the intervention of singing, to somewhat hide this realistic message. The events which unfold throughout the film are all very good, each fulfilling a purpose, however most didn’t entertain me, perhaps due to me not fitting the height or age of Frozen’s target audience. The character of Olaf however for me is a highlight which shows fully some excellent writing and script work as he brings a host of witty lines which are a little more accessible, for the same reason too Sven and Kristoff provide the same humour. It doesn’t mean however that the two main characters didn’t impress me; I found it very connecting at times with myself buying into both of their sorrow.

Disney is always showing improvements and amazement in visuals with every new release and Frozen had a number of eye-catching scenes and elements. I found myself somewhat amazed at the things that Elsa was making throughout with her magical ice powers, in particular the ice staircase which eventually led to an entire ice castle. It was visually great but more so inventive and it was easy to see the fun the writers obviously had. The inclusion too of the troll was very good and the animation was simply brilliant.

The flaws I have with Frozen aren’t something the film should be criticised for but it was elements that personally irritated me. Ironically my biggest annoyance with Frozen is something it has had the highest praise for, its musical touch. I didn’t expect singing when I first viewed Frozen so when it appeared I was surprised, however its initial appearance for me was refreshing, but eventually becoming a regular occurrence it did become draining, emphasising slightly the childish feel which in some aspects ruined my experience and connection despite my enjoyment with other children’s animation. My feeling for the music is simply demonstrated by the song “Do you want to build a Snowman”, once first heard it was warming and somewhat pleasant, but after a replay or two it is anything but.

I personally out of the animated films released from last year and of course those in the running for the Oscar, preferred Despicable Me 2 and Monsters University over Disney’s Frozen, but its Oscar for best animated feature was justifiable. I enjoyed many elements, the script, characters, and visuals but ultimately the film was knocked by the musical side and inclusion. However taking my personal taste aside Frozen is a very entertaining and fun film to watch, which should and will most likely win over much of its audience. Although it wasn’t exactly my perfect film type or choice I will still respect and appreciate a brilliantly crafted piece of animation which is essentially worth-while.

 

 

Hidden References in Eli Roth’s Hostel (2005)

Eli Roth wanted to make a big claim to the cinematic community with his 2005 release of Hostel; he wanted to make it known that he is an expert of his genre, a well-knowledge film-maker and an admirer of the all time classics. Hostel very much entertained the typical zeitgeist audience when released with its mass gore and special effects, but for the cineastes and genre fans he played homage to many films and included references to others keeping them occupied and a part of an “in-joke”.

The master that is Quentin Tarantino presented and produced Hostel and his name appearing on the opening credits wasn’t his only involvement within the film. As the three backpackers check into their new Slovak hostel in the background Samuel L Jackson’s iconic speech from Pulp Fiction is being played on the TV. It is also suggested how our antagonists stalked the halls of the slaughter house whistling could be a link to Tarantino’s Kill Bill.

Eli Roth also referenced the Kubrick and horror classic, The Shining. The boys are given room 237 which is the same hotel room which is forbidden in The Shining, something which is obviously not a coincidence. Alongside one classic is another as the film uses the same score from Hitchcock’s Psycho. The closing credits to Hostel plays homage to the opening credits of Psycho using the same style score but slightly giving it a modern twist.

Wanting to state his knowledge and ability to recognise his background, Roth referenced two very small but classic British horror films. The sex scene between Josh and the Slovak roommate is a direct link to the sex scene within The Wicker Man 1973 as our priest gets seduced through a wall by a form of witchcraft. It is referenced by the iconic music played over the top. Film of the same year, Don’t Look Now 1973 is also referenced clearly, the final scene in Don’t Look Now sees our protagonist chase a figure in a red coat, in Hostel Josh and Paxton looking for Oli start to chase a guy wearing the same Orange coat, the two scenes follow the same structure and even have similar settings.

Eli Roth also chooses to have many cameo’s including himself. In a bar scene at the beginning of Hostel, Eli Roth can be seen smoking and smashing a bong whilst laughing. Japanese director Takashi Miike also plays a role as the guy who Paxton asks “what’s it in like in there” too as he stands outside the unknown slaughter house. Extending his knowledge to that of Japanese Film finally the last reference is that to Suicide Club. The end scene which sees a Japanese woman jump in front of a train is a clear homage especially to shots where we see fellow passengers sprayed with blood, it is also the only reason Roth made that very character Japanese.

Did you spot any of these references?

Personal Favourite Film Soundtracks

It recently occurred to me how the films that I have been watching lately have had brilliant soundtracks and ones which I have been listening to over and over again. So here is a list of my personal favourite film soundtracks.

I re-watched the Tarantino Classic Reservoir Dogs not so long ago and it once again reminded of how brilliant the all 70′s soundtrack is which sees “Stuck In The Middle of You” be played in time to Mr Blonde cutting someone’s ear off. Sticking with Tarantino it is only fair to mention Pulp Fiction which sees some unconventional songs such as “Jungle Boogey” turn into a classic moment.

500 Days of Summer also holds one of the best soundtracks which is one of the main highlights to the unusual non-stereotypical rom-com, with song “Sweet Disposition” constantly being in your head after. Similar film Juno also brings to the table a very up-beat warm soundtrack that again is a highlight and credit to it’s film.

Most recently in cinema’s both Inside Llewyn Davis and Her have produced amazing soundtracks which I have not stopped listening to as well as a high standard to 2014 films. Inside Llewyn Davis really shows off folk music and Oscar Isaac’s talents whilst Her’s mixture of synthetic scores and songs such as “The Moon Song” is just beautiful and rather complimentary to Spike Jonze’s creation.

Two of my all time favourite films also hold two of my all time favourite soundtracks. Drive is brilliant with such a upbeat award winning score with songs “Night call” and “Real Hero” being amongst the highlights.  Donnie Darko my all time top film holds a great score which compliments and foreshadows every event with the famous and iconic “Mad World” being the highlight.

Do you agree? What are your personal favourite soundtracks?

Hostel (2005)

Genre: Horror

Director: Eli Roth

Writer: Eli Roth

Starring: Jay Hernandez, Derek Richardson, Eythor Gudjonsson

Rating: ★★★

Eli Roth’s Hostel became a mass talking point and a somewhat cinema sensation when it was first released becoming a real zeitgeist, it was even claimed to be “the scariest and most horrifying film ever made” making way for a new genre of horror labelled “torture porn”.  Hostel is simply a gore-fest and one which is filled with screams, blood, teeth, guts and even eye-balls. Visually disturbing it becomes a great horror with a somewhat average concept and acting as the man behind Cabin Fever does create a film which has a lasting effect.

Three young American backpackers Paxton, Josh, Oli (Jay Hernandez, Derek Richardson, Eythor Gudjonsson ) decide to travel to Amsterdam for a week of nothing more than sex, however when they arrive they realise how there’s more tourists than locals and no one is interested. After missing curfew and being locked outside their youth hostel a man invites them into his house where he explains and tells the story of a hostel in Slovakia where the woman are wild and have taste for American men.  Intrigued and hooked the group travel to Eastern Europe however they find to their horror that the described hostel is actually “to die for” when they see through a group who exhibit torture to a community, which pays to kill and slaughter.

Hostel has a simple concept, one which is seen throughout horror, a group of teenagers become isolated in a location they’re not familiar with and then encounter uncontrollable danger.  Eli Roth’s version works very well and in a sense is realistic. There is no real complexity but some scenes can be really tense but the main feature throughout is obviously the gore and the huge amounts of blood. Once the first act of the film is over, which consists of nothing more than perverted scenes and nudity, the action begins to unravel. We see torture although many of the killings are of screen; Roth sets the tone with a gruesome moment as someone gets both Achilles tendons cut and attempts to escape with their hills splitting apart. Aside from a few minor follow ups including someone labelled as “Edward Saladhands” everything is rather out of the blue and attempts to heighten as much brutality as possible.

Acting isn’t something Hostel attempts to thrive in; therefore it is only average despite some of the painful screams sounding and looking realistic and overall the main cast being fun and believable. What Hostel does attempt to thrive in and succeed in however, is their special effects and make-up.  Over 150 gallons of blood were used in the making of the film and that in itself describes just how much gore it contains. It was also reported that “the eyeball scene” make-up took more than three hours to apply. The make-up and effects are good as they do make you want to cringe slightly but being very overpowering and over the top it does take elements away from realism and subtlety.

Hostel is nothing more than a film that wants to create as much gore and brutality as possible with no other aspect being a highlight. The first viewing is horrific with scenes which do make you want to turn away but upon multiple viewings it really has no effect and becomes a very boring film. The first act of Hostel too is very droning and seems to drag with action and the main plot only really starting to take shape around the half-way point. It also seems to be filled with silly actions to heighten the gore, such as our main character choosing to turn back into danger and choose a hammer over a gun as a weapon. It is obvious that although horrifying it isn’t a classic which will last for ages due to the amount of flaws.

Eli Roth’s Hostel is a film which fulfils its proclaimed expectation, which is a gore filled hour and half with tonnes of blood, sex and violence.  It doesn’t have any special stand-out qualities other than the effects but nevertheless makes for a good watch upon your first ever viewing. With scenes that will stay in your mind long after the end credits, it is horrifying and a worth-while experience for horror fans.