A Lifetime of Film – Ashe’s Top Ten from 1992

A Lifetime of Film covers one specific year of a Cinefessions’ writers existence, from birth to now, and goes over their top ten films from that year. It stems from a meme on Letterboxd, and is simply being expanded upon here. This week, Ashe covers 1992.


Compared to 1991, 1992 was a much better year for me. I was 15 years old and had swapped schools. It was a much healthier culture for me both mentally and taste-wise, as my horizons and experiences exploded in a good way. My film obsession continued to grow, and there were some great releases that year. I cut my initial list of 83 films watched down to 32, and then had to narrow it down to ten from there. It was hard.

Honorable Mentions include ThunderheartWayne’s WorldMy Cousin Vinny, Jennifer 8Army of DarknessDeath Becomes HerFar and AwayThe BodyguardCandymanFerngully, Cool WorldHellraiser IIISplit Second, and Alien 3. Alien 3 was kind of a disappointment even though I like the film. The production cut restores a lot of where they were initially going with it and makes it more solid, but it still looks rushed into production.  Army of Darkness, as much as I love that film and Bruce Campbell, just didn’t make the cut for a top ten.  If I were making a horror or comedy list for the year, hell yes it’d be on it, but let’s face it folks, overall it’s not that great a film even though it’s fun to watch. Thunderheart almost made it into my top ten.  Almost. I loved the hell out of that film. So what are my top ten?

Of Mice and Men10. Of Mice and Men (dir. Gary Sinise)
To be honest, I had no idea who directed this version until I looked it up for this list.  Gary Sinise stars and directs in this adaptation of the book, along with an equally impressive performance by John Malkovich. I saw this film about the same time I had to read the book for a class, and I remember tearing up watching it just as I had reading the book. I haven’t seen it in years, but I remember being blown away by both leads in the film, and it stuck with me for a long time afterwards.

9. Unforgiven (dir. Clint Eastwood)
I vaguely remember being pissed that the song by Metallica was never used to promote the film or in either credit sequence. Aside from that, I loved this take on the western. The heroes were fallible, and the plot would end up getting recycled in a Firefly episode with a few changes, but I also remember that the cast of Eastwood, Hackman, and Freeman stuck with me. This was one of the first where Eastwood went back to his earlier films and gave it another go, this time in the director’s chair as well. It is a really well done film that I need to watch again at some point. Continue reading

Capsule Review – Branden Chowen on The Babadook (2014)

The Cinefessions crew loves sharing their opinions on films, but not every movie can get the attention it deserves with a full review. Enter the Cinefessions’ Capsule Reviews. These capsule reviews cover five of the most important aspects of a film, which allow the crew to deliver their opinions on any movie clearly, decisively, and with brevity. These are not our full thoughts on any film, just a highlighting of the major pros and/or cons.


The BabadookTitleThe Babadook (2014)
Director: Jennifer Kent
Runtime: 94 minutes
Acting
There seem to be two camps when it comes to this film: one find Samuel – played by Noah Wiseman – annoying, and therefore dislike the film. The other seem to like Samuel, and like the film more as a result. I fall into the second camp. I found Samuel to be annoying at times, and cute at others, just like most children. Most importantly, I found him believable. His mother, Amelia, played by Essie Davis, was fantastic. This is really her story, and Davis plays her character flawlessly. The supporting actors are all solid, but Mrs. Roach and Daniel Henshall – both minor characters – are the only ones worth talking about outside of the two leads.

Story & Script
What I love about The Babadook is that one could argue that this has nothing to do with the supernatural just as easily as one could say it did. The filmmakers do this intentionally, I would argue, and that is what makes it so memorable. The story is that of a single mother, Amelia, trying to cope with her disobedient son. Amelia’s husband was killed in a car accident on the way to taking her to the hospital to have her son Samuel, and deep down, she resents Samuel for this. When Samuel introduces a book he says he found on the shelf about this creature known as the Babadook, strange things start to happen, and Amelia and Samuel start to see this creature around the house, trying to cause havoc. Or so they think, anyway. Whether or not this creature exists is up for debate, which I loved about it. Continue reading

Capsule Review – Branden Chowen on The Sacrament (2014)

The Cinefessions crew loves sharing their opinions on films, but not every movie can get the attention it deserves with a full review. Enter the Cinefessions’ Capsule Reviews. These capsule reviews cover five of the most important aspects of a film, which allow the crew to deliver their opinions on any movie clearly, decisively, and with brevity. These are not our full thoughts on any film, just a highlighting of the major pros and/or cons.


The SacramentTitleThe Sacrament (2014)
Director: Ti West
Runtime: 99 minutes
Acting
Since this is a found footage film, it is imperative that every actor comes off as genuine, or else the entire film suffers. Fortunately there are a lot of great actors in The Sacrament. The actors with the largest challenge do an exceptional job: Joe Swanberg, AJ Bowen, Gene Jones, and Amy Seimetz. Seimetz and Jones play two characters that the audience is supposed to hate, and they pulled it off because I hated the hell out of them.

Story & Script
The Sacrament is a found footage film that sees three journalists head to a religious commune that one of their sister’s now belongs to. They bring along the cameras in the hopes of making a news story out of it (they work for a company called Vice, which is known for their immersive journalism). The only real complaint about the film is that things go pretty much as expected. Everything starts off looking like a paradise, but then something happens where the crew finds out that things aren’t exactly as they seem. It plays out how you’d expect a horror film based around a religious commune to play out, but it still manages to be interesting throughout. It would have been great to get more specifics, but the ambiguity of it all doesn’t really hurt the film (nor does it enhance it). Continue reading

Instant Cinefessions: Issue 02 – Secrets of a Robot

Most of the movies and TV series I watch come from my Netflix Instant Queue. It has been my go to for over five years now. I like to use it to find hidden gems, but not everyone wants to commit two hours of their free time to a decent looking movie poster. I’ve watched a ton of garbage over the years, but have missed even more, so there’s always something I want to watch, whether it’s revisiting an old favorite, or finally catching something I missed over the years. Instant Cinefessions will list some weekly recommendations based on what’s new on the Netflix service. It will also include my “Pull List”, which are films I’m interested in watching in the coming weeks. Look for reviews of the movies in my pull list in future columns. Also featured are brief reviews of films I’ve watched off the Pull List.


Netflix BigAshe’s Seal of Approval
These are the latest films that hit Netflix in the last week that get my seal of approval. Unfortunately I haven’t seen a single film added to the service in the last week, so I can’t make a comment there. I did watch a few films that weren’t on my Pull List, though, and I figured I’d add them here. These are hard to recommend, mainly because I really didn’t like two of them, and the third was just mediocre.

The first of the two I really didn’t like was I, Frankenstein (2014), which I can only recommend if you want to turn off your brain. If you’ve seen Underworld, though, even turning off your brain won’t help your enjoyment level, as this follows that formula almost exactly plot-wise. The other was The Dead Within, which was a slow burn, zombie, survival horror experience, and was overlong. The sound is really off in the film, so when music and dialogue was happening at the same time, I couldn’t make out any of the dialogue. This felt like an Outer Limits or Twilight Zone episode that got an extended cut it didn’t need. So what about the mediocre entry? Well, I did kind of like it. Continue reading

Movie Review – Chris Ranson on The Town That Dreaded Sundown (2014)

The Town That Dreaded Sundown 2014Title: The Town That Dreaded Sundown (2014)
Director: Alfonso Gomez-Rejon
Runtime: 86 minutes

When I was little I asked my mother what her favorite horror films were (it was a genre we both shared a love for). She cited The Town That Dreaded Sundown The Car. In the last 30 years of my life I’ve seen both a few times, but didn’t share the same amount of love for either film. However, I still remember us nabbing the VHS copy from the video store when they agreed to sell it for $10.

I was stoked for this remake. It had buzz ala The Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake, which I adore more than the original (but I saw the remake first). However, nothing ever came of this film, and it seemed to die. Then, suddenly, I saw reviews popping up online and the film got released on all digital formats for purchase. Continue reading

Capsule Review – Branden Chowen on The Town That Dreaded Sundown (1976)

The Cinefessions crew loves sharing their opinions on films, but not every movie can get the attention it deserves with a full review. Enter the Cinefessions’ Capsule Reviews. These capsule reviews cover five of the most important aspects of a film, which allow the crew to deliver their opinions on any movie clearly, decisively, and with brevity. These are not our full thoughts on any film, just a highlighting of the major pros and/or cons.


The Town That Dreaded Sundown 1976TitleThe Town That Dreaded Sundown (1976)
Director: Charles B. Pierce
Runtime: 90 minutes
Acting
The acting in this ranges from passable to terrible. There are a ton of different characters introduced, many of them for a very short stint, and none are great. It feels like they grabbed some locals to do some of the scenes, and it didn’t work in their favor. The most consistent character has to be “Spark Plug”, as he’s called. He is the comic relief of the film, but is arguably the most fun character to watch.

Story & Script
The Town That Dreaded Sundown is told in a quasi-documentary style, with a narrator giving us details of this “based on a true story” tale as it happened back in the 1940s. Basically a serial killer is on the loose in Texarkana, Arkansas, and he is stalking couples at night and killing them. He typically strikes every three weeks, but even that is inconsistent. The story feels like the story of San Francisco’s Zodiac Killer in some ways, but much less interesting. The problem is that the script has way too much dead space, and the director doesn’t tighten these up at all, which means the film moves along at a snail’s pace for no real reason. The dialogue isn’t terrible, but the majority of it is delivered poorly from less than stellar actors. Continue reading

Capsule Review – Branden Chowen on Tower Heist (2011)

The Cinefessions crew loves sharing their opinions on films, but not every movie can get the attention it deserves with a full review. Enter the Cinefessions’ Capsule Reviews. These capsule reviews cover five of the most important aspects of a film, which allow the crew to deliver their opinions on any movie clearly, decisively, and with brevity. These are not our full thoughts on any film, just a highlighting of the major pros and/or cons.


Tower HeistTitle: Tower Heist (2011)
Director: Brett Ratner
Runtime: 104 minutes

Acting
There are no weak links in Tower Heist, but Ben Stiller, Eddie Murphy, and Gabourey Sidibe are the stand outs. The whole cast is quite funny, and the characters are really likable.

Story & Script
A rich man “invests” the pensions of the entire staff of The Tower where he lives. Unfortunately for them, this rich man is really a dirty dealer, and all of their money is lost. Ben Stiller plays the manager of The Tower, a ritzy Manhattan residence. He vows to get their money back, and the only way he can do that is by robbing the man of the millions they’re certain he has in his home. The story works surprisingly well, and delivers in both catharsis and laughs. The last act gets a bit ridiculous, but I was invested enough in the characters at that point that it didn’t really matter. I just wanted to see the bad guy get it. Continue reading