“Golden” (in front of stage) tickets for Day 2 of Sonisphere Romania are already sold out. “Golden” tickets for Day 3 are also almost sold out. Only normal and VIP tickets remain for Day 2 (and soon for Day 3). 3-day passes still available. Buy’em here.
I haven’t seen many movies this past week, but I did see a couple that I really enjoyed – including the extremely underrated Jennifer’s Body. Here’s a quick recap of everything I have watched.
Daybreakers (dir: The Spierig Brothers)
Original, fresh vampire stories aren’t something you see every day. Daybreakers brings an interesting twist to the whole vampire issue, makes humans the outcasts in a vampire-run world, and does it in a film full of action and plenty of gore. I liked it for what it was – a simple, yet interesting vampire story that has a certain B-movie vibe to it. However, after the novelty wears off, it drags a bit to a bland conclusion, but that didn’t alter my initial feelings: this is a very enjoyable flick.
Nowhere Boy (dir: Sam Taylor Wood)
Here’s a movie about John Lennon that could’ve been about anyone else. It’s a biopic about the early years of Lennon, before The Beatles, before everything you’ve ever known. So why should I care? Music is secondary throughout the whole film – this is actually a soap opera-ish drama about an angry kid and his family issues. Yes, we do get to see a version of young Paul McCartney looking like a 10-year-old on crack, and we do get to see Lennon discovering rock’n'roll, but all of this is always left behind the main, boring, useless storyline. Big props however for the performances, especially Aaron Johnson, who steals the film and makes Lennon believable.
A Prophet (dir: Jacques Audiard)
This movie kicks ass. There’s no other way to put it. It’s a French crime thriller about an Arab guy in prison, who starts from the bottom of the food chain and builds its way up to becoming a true mob boss. It’s superbly filmed and acted, gritty, violent, emotional. The characters are superbly built and the story is extremely compelling. I really cannot understand how this didn’t win the Oscar or the Golden Globe for Best Foreign Pic – maybe it is a bit too violent? Doesn’t even matter. You should check it out ASAP.
Jennifer’s Body (dir: Karyn Kusama)
Everyone I talked to, everyone I heard talk about this film, hates it. My answer: fuck you all This is pure, smart entertainment, written by an improving Diablo Cody, who kept all that was good about Juno and left out the sassy unrealistic dialog bullshit. It’s super-hot Megan Fox going batshit in a high-school full of horny bastards who get killed in increasingly gruesome ways. It’s Megan Fox making out with Amanda Seyfried. It’s funny, it’s crazy, and – unlike most horrors nowadays – it actually builds interesting characters that care about what happens around them, the murders not being just statistics. It’s a teen high school drama with bite. Don’t get me wrong – this is not some hidden masterpiece, but I really loved it for what it was: a fun, witty horror comedy.
Che: Part One (dir: Steven Soderbergh)
I never, ever, ever thought a biopic about such an influential individual like Che Guevara could be so fucking boring. Well, Soderbergh proved me wrong. I barely made it through the first part of this 4-hour snoozefest, and you can bet your ass this first part is all I’m going to see. Technically speaking, there’s nothing wrong with this film. It looks realistic, beautiful cinematography, great locations, believable performances (although Benicio Del Toro didn’t blow me away as I was expecting). But the story is so tediously dull, so chaotic, and it completely lacks any emotional involvement from the viewer. This film failed to connect with me in any kind of way.
Here’s an amazing new short film by Spike Jonze, I’m Here. You can also watch it on the official website.
Because lately I failed to update the blog with film reviews and opinions about what I’ve watched, I decided to start a weekly wrap-up post with a quick rundown of all films I’ve seen during the past week. Hopefully this will happen each Monday. This way, you’ll be able to stay in touch with the shit I loved, hated or couldn’t care less about.
So, without further ado, here’s the week of March 8-14.
Open Graves (dir. Alvaro de Arminan)
A straight-to-TV release that I watched only for Eliza Dushku. No hidden gem here. A toothless, formulaic, and often plain dumb horror that mimics The Final Destination, but fails miserably on all accounts. Some decent kills and OK cinematography save this from being a total dud.
Planet 51 (dir: Jorge Blanco)
Animated reversed “ET”, but with a script that completely lacks any personality. Once the novelty of the situation wears off, all you’re left with are the vibrant colors. Technically accomplished, with some funny jokes once in a while, but unfortunately way too dull. Pixar has set the bar so high, it’s very difficult for smaller animation studios to come even close.
My Life in Ruins (dir: Donald Petrie)
Another very bad romantic comedy that fails on both romance and comedy. It’s set (and shot) in Greece, which adds to the overall decent look, but the script is so awfully bad, full of uninteresting characters and horrendous dialogue, it’s really hard to sit through. Plus, it uses every cliche in the book, and lacks any kind of originality. The only good thing I can say about this film is that it looks somewhat decent, and that, because it sets the bar very low, it doesn’t actually disappoint.
Carol I (dir. Sergiu Nicolaescu)
Worthless piece of junk.
Alice in Wonderland (dir. Tim Burton)
Unlike most critics out there, I kinda enjoyed Burton’s Alice. I even found the 3D part to be well made – again, contrary to most opinions. The movie looks brilliant, is genuinely eerie, and teases you with flashes of Burton’s style. Unfortunately these are only teasers – cause at the end of the day, Disney prevails, and the horrific third act takes away some of the magic that has been spread throughout the rest of the film. I really wish Disney would’ve let Burton to make this flick his own. Not the case – but still an enjoyable film for everyone to see.
The House of the Devil (dir: Ti West)
Girl needs money. Girl gets gig as babysitter. Girl arrives at spooky mansion. Girl walks around doing nothing. That’s all that happens in this film, until the very last ten minutes, when all hell breaks loose. However, I didn’t find any of this boring at all. First of all, the film looks great. The action is set in the ’80s, but it looks like the film is made in the ’80s as well (and no, it wasn’t. It’s a 2009 film). Secondly, the awesome cinematography is complemented by the very spooky atmosphere set by (obviously talented) director Ti West. The film is creepy as hell, but without the fake gimmicks of pointless “boo” moments that today’s horror is littered with. Tension is built by atmosphere alone. Unfortunately, it drags a bit towards the end, and the payoff isn’t nearly as memorable as it should’ve been, after all the build up. I also didn’t like a couple of scenes that seemed out of character for the main protagonist (like the dancing scene – what sane girl puts headphones on and starts dancing by herself in a creepy house – after the character has been established as extremely laid-back?). But, all in all, for a low-budget horror flick, this is a great homage to the ’80s style of creepy, atmosphere-built horror.
It’s official: Sonisphere Romania brings Metallica, Alice in Chains, Stone Sour, others to Bucharest
D&D East Entertainment officially confirmed the biggest rock festival ever organized in Romania.
The schedule for Sonisphere Romania is as follows:
Manowar, Volbeat, local bands
Metallica, Slayer, Megadeth, Anthrax, Heaven & Hell
Rammstein, Alice in Chains, Stone Sour, Mastodon
Tickets go on sale today at various retailers and also on eventim.ro. A 3-day pass costs 350 RON (normal) and 490 RON (golden – in front of stage), while daily tickets cost from 120-185 RON (normal) and from 220-290 RON (golden). Due to the limited capacity of the location (Romexpo), there will be a total of 45.000 tickets sold for the event.
Update: In the official press release, the organizers also mention some surprises coming up. Maybe a couple of new bands for Friday, 25th?
The biggest Romanian rock festival ever, Sonisphere, will be officially announced tomorrow at 11.00 AM, in a very anticipated press conference. The fest will take place from June 25th – 27th, in Bucharest, and apparently the line-up will feature Metallica, Slayer, Megadeth, Anthrax, Rammstein, Stone Sour, Alice in Chains, Mastodon, Manowar, Heaven & Hell and a bunch of local bands.
Stay tuned for tomorrow’s official announcement!
In one of the most boring and safe Oscar ceremonies of recent years, The Hurt Locker kicked Avatar‘s butt and snatched 6 awards, including the big one, for Best Picture. I must say, I feel relieved – Avatar was a cool entertaining flick, but it didn’t deserve anything other than technical awards. The Hurt Locker, on the other hand, is great – and, although my favorite was Inglourious Basterds, I’m happy with the outcome.
The rest of the gala offered extremely few surprises and interesting moments. The Academy played it safe, and all the expected winners got their awards, including Jeff Bridges, Sandra Bullock, Christoph Waltz, Mo’Nique, Up for best animation, The Cove for best documentary, and a bunch of technicals for Avatar (although, I must say, I’m shocked that even in the technical categories, The Hurt Locker beat Avatar, winning for editing, sound mixing and sound editing).
Other than these, in terms of surprises, the only one was The Hurt Locker winning Best Original Screenplay. Not that I mind, but nobody saw it coming, and at that point of the ceremony, it became pretty much clear for everyone that it’s The Hurt Locker‘s night.
Now my disagreements. One: Sandra Bullock. Nothing against her, but this was the weakest award ever given for a female lead performance. Two: Avatar winning Best Cinematography. My choices would’ve been either Robert Richardson for Inglourious Basterds, or Christian Berger for The White Ribbon. Three: a silly-looking Argentinian movie winning Best Foreign Film. I haven’t seen it yet, but A Prophet and The White Ribbon look a lot better and have been highly praised by pretty much everyone, I think one of them would’ve deserved the award more.
As for the show itself, it was as bland as it gets. The Academy seems to work so hard to try and attract new audiences – they expanded the list of noms to 10 just to be able to bring in fan favorites, they even had an awful horror montage presented by Kristen Stewart and some dude from New Moon, just to get the attention of the Twilight fans – although everyone knows Twilight has nothing to do with horror (btw, have you seen this shit?) – and then they put up a boring gala with boring hosts, doing everything in their power to steer clear of every tiny risk or unpredicted event (like canceling the Sasha Baron Cohen sketch). What’s up with that?
All in all – I’m somewhat satisfied with the winners, but overall unimpressed. However, it could have been a lot worse. The Golden Globes are witness to that.
Years after their emergence in civilized countries, VOD online services are slowly starting to show up on the Romanian market as well. The end of last year marked the birth of 3 such services. All of them still claim to be in the beta stages, so changes (hopefully improvements) might pop up over the next few weeks.
Here they are (in my order of preference):
Although far from perfect, this one climbed to the top mainly because of two things: its quality movies (their selection includes Pan’s Labyrinth, The Wrestler, The Machinist, The Host, Vicky Cristina Barcelona, There Will Be Blood, Up, and many more) and the high frame rate of the streams. Their site is clean, the search options are numerous and work great, the payment system is easy. However, the new releases tend to be a bit pricey (3.50 EUR), but the older films orbit around 1.19 EUR, which is a great price.
This service seemed the most promising at first, offering even lower prices than muvix (0.77 – 1 EUR for older films, 2.50 – 3 EUR for new releases), but they seem to have certain issues, considering there haven’t been any updates in the last few weeks. Initially, the site promised weekly updates with all new DVD releases from major studios. That hasn’t happened – hopefully because of the Beta tag. Their second big problem is the low frame rate of the streams, especially during intense action sequences.
The only one of these 3 services that offers downloadable movies (and not only streams). However, their prices are ridiculous: 20 RON for a 3-day rental of new releases. That is absurd. Also – their site hasn’t been updated in quite some time.
I have always considered, despite common belief, that there is a market in Romania for such sites, despite the country’s high piracy rate. It is however absolutely necessary for these services to understand the realities and to be smart enough in terms of marketing to attract potential customers. Throwing a bunch of movies every couple of months and asking a theater admission price to download a rental will not do the trick.
In my opinion, the site that will survive and succeed will have to start with two vital things:
1 – regular updates with new releases.
Random updates with old movies will never work. There has to be a regular weekly update with the newest DVD releases in order for customers to keep returning to the site.
2 – lower prices.
Let’s take USA for example. iTunes, Amazon, and every single VOD service in America, charges 4 USD for a brand-new release rental. A theater admission price (in the multiplex) is ~12 USD. That means a rental represents a third of a theater ticket. In Romania, charging 20 RON or even 3.5 EUR (14 RON) for a rental is HUGE. A normal theater ticket is 18-24 RON, so a rental should never be more than 8 RON. No sane person will pay 20 RON to rent a movie, when they know that’s exactly how much they pay to go to the theater. Maybe even less.
Also – all sorts of promotions and weekly special offers are also vital – and, again, http://www.muvix.ro seems a bit ahead of the competition: they are offering (for a limited time only) Woody Allen’s Vicky Cristina Barcelona as a free rental.
Go check it out, and check the others out as well. I’ll be keeping an eye on the proceedings and I’ll update the blog with any new major developments.
Just a heads-up for everyone: this Friday marks the worldwide release of Tim Burton’s new film, Alice in Wonderland – in beautiful IMAX 3D. Knowing Burton’s visual style, this should be a treat – so make sure to see this in IMAX.
For Romanians – reservations at Samsung IMAX in Bucharest can be made here. The first weekend is already sold out, the next few days are almost sold out, so make sure to book your tickets in advance.