Be warned:This film is rated R.
Most horror movies are bad. It’s not necessarily a judgement on them, for at the very least I understand why they are this way, but it’s still a consistent problem. They are riddled with issues, and very few contemporary horror films succeed at even the most basic standards for quality cinema. Character development, engaging characters, a coherent plot, good acting, all these are thrown out the window in favor of a few cheap thrills. This ideology of thrilling the audience with jump scares and frightening visuals (which, let’s face it, most horror movies don’t even get that right) is ludicrous, as the singular focus cripples the entire film. Because of that thought process, the genre is riddled with terrible films, which really give a bad name to the grouping as a whole. The rare, quality horror films struggle to escape the ever looming presence of their genre.
Even with this background and struggle, every year it seems a new, exciting, and unique horror movie gets released, restoring faith in the genre. These annual delightful frights break the general horror movie trend of awfulness by being surprisingly good. 2013 brought us The Conjuring, 2014 gave us The Babadook, 2015 It Follows, and nice and early in the year 2016 gives us The Witch.
The Witch follows a deeply religious protestant family living in America sometime during the 17th century, specifically the teenage girl Thomason. They leave their community due to religious differences and move to create a brand new isolated farm at the edge of the woods. Unfortunately for the family, an evil Witch lives in the woods that decides to curse them, stealing their youngest child as the first part of the torment.
Roger Eggers, the writer/director, spent years researching 17th century colonial America. The tagline, A New England Folktale, is really revealing about the story. He scoured over folktales of that era and, under their influence, created his own unique one, one that could easily have been told back in the day. It is less of an in your face horror movie and more of a dark, looming, and horrific story of a family.
The director does an excellent job in every aspect of the film. The cinematography and pacing create a brilliant sense of tension and creepiness. The dialogue, some taken directly from documents written during the time period of the film, is excellently written and revealing of characters. Eggers did his job splendidly, and we can expect a lot more from him in the future.
The acting is top notch, specifically the children actors. You never know how it’s going to pan out, hiring children so young, but they were really quite excellent. Haley Joel Osment from The Sixth Sense good. The whole cast spoke in an olden tongue, with thy and thou and hithers throughout the film. I believed that the actors actually spoke like that too, with all the ease and naturalness they brought to the dialogue. They really held nothing back.
As far as the film itself goes, as a horror movie, I’d say is excellent. With a tone that sort of combines The Shining with The Crucible, The Witch is consistently horrifying. It’s a slow burn horror, requiring attention to the characters and emotional investment in order for each scene to crank up the tension. A few incredibly disturbing visuals and a stunning finale seal the deal, so to speak, in the end.
When the movie finished, and I sat reflecting on the incredibly enjoyable film I just saw, I heard some of the other audience members behind me.
“Well that movie was terrible, what a waste of money.”
Another person farther back was yelling. “Refund.”
I was confused to say the least. Here I had watched one of the best horror films I’ve ever seen, and these other people hated it. Did we even watch the same movie? So that left me with this advice. Know that the Witch is a slow burn horror in which the characters talk a lot like a Shakespeare play. If you can’t handle the sort of mental capacity it takes to comprehend what they are saying, you will not like the movie. If you like your horror movies SAW-like, more like thrillers, and are expecting that from The Witch, you too will be disappointed. But if you go into the Witch expecting a creepy, often horrific film with great characters, a great plot, great cinematography, and patience, well you’re bound to enjoy it immensely. That’s why I give it 9/10.
Image credit: Stella Marris on Flickr.
is in the eye of the
therefore who are they to
set the standards
instead of gowns and glory
to me beauty is honesty
truth love and kindness
you can be as beautiful
as you want to
for who is to
so say it
Image Credit: Wouter Beckers on Flickr.
Skiers and snowboarders alike love waking up to the perfect ski day. The sun is out, the temperature is a comfortable thirty-two degrees Fahrenheit and you are ready to hit perfectly groomed slopes. Living in the Colorado Denver Metro Area, there are over seven world class ski resorts that are all under two hours away. How do you choose which one to spend your valuable time and money at? Being an avid skier myself and frequenting all the major ski resorts many times each winter, I have selected my top two choices to evaluate and ultimately crown one as the winner.
Vail and Keystone’s ski mountains are excellent world class resorts with which locals are very familiar. These resorts are also a part of the Vail Epic Pass: a ski pass with a reasonable one time rate for locals and pays for itself if you ski five times or more during the winter season. If you’re not a local, at whichever resort you choose the ski ticket will always range from $90 to $120. Vail and Keystone have about the same amount of ski lifts, trails, snow fall and similar base and peak elevations. They also both have ski-in and ski-out hotels, restaurants and superb villages. What really makes a ski resort rise above others is the mountain itself. You will stay on the mountains for probably four to eight hours a day. Each mountain’s terrain, grooming, lift wait times, crowds and snowpack are the real factors that will cause you to have the best or the worst day in your life.
Vail is one of the most well-known ski resorts in the world because of its prestige and the lavishness of its village. Last year it was especially in the spotlight because the resort was lucky enough to host the 2015 Alpine World Ski Championships. This race has only been held in America three times, and Vail also hosted this race the two previous times in 1989 and 1999. Millionaires own mansions there, but the general public is still welcomed to enjoy its facilities and mountain. The Vail ski mountain has a large variety of green, blue and black runs. I would also consider it one of the safer mountains, because the runs are more directly marked and grouped by difficulty. It is a great place to learn how to ski or snowboard for the first time. Unless you are in the back bowls, it is very hard to get lost or accidently end up on a run that is way above your current ability level. Because of this mountain’s reputation, it is also one of the most crowded mountains. Lifts for the easier runs can have wait times of thirty minutes to an hour on weekends, especially holidays, in the later morning and afternoons. The mountain’s connector trails and primary runs also get very crowded and have a lot of beginner skiers and snowboarders which make them hard to navigate. I would therefore recommend the much less crowded back bowls which have mainly black and blue runs. Vail also changed their grooming pattern last year. They used to groom overnight and also half way through the day to ensure that you could always find a freshly groomed and crisp run. Because of an incident in the 2013 to 2014 winter season where an inexperienced skier managed to get hit by a snowcat, a very large heavy metal machine that goes less than five miles per hour, Vail no longer grooms during the day. This causes the snow to be very icy and clumpy by the afternoon. There are also more runs with moguls and harder terrain because of the grooming shortage.
Keystone is a more tucked away and not as mainstream of a mountain. Its village is smaller and not as much of a tourist trap. Keystone is also a more advanced mountain. Their average run is steeper and there are many back bowls that are only for advanced skiers and freestyle. Even so, Keystone’s ski school is excellent and many of the kids are able to go down green runs on the mountain by the end of the day. Keystone also has one of the largest terrain parks of any of the ski resorts. One lift goes right through the terrain park, allowing anyone to enjoy watching professional tricksters. Because Keystone is more secluded, lift waits and crowds are much more minimal. There is no waits in the morning and I have never waited more than fifteen minutes in the afternoon. The runs also have minimal crowds, especially the back bowls. Keystone’s snow cats have not yet managed to hit any skiers, which means they groom all day and night. You can always find a few non-crowded, crisp runs to cruise down the whole day. Keystone also has a few unique features that many other resorts do not offer. They have a vast amount of runs you can night ski on. This is one of the reasons they have been able to keep up with and continue to be as popular as other resorts. Skiers usually have to hike to get to backcountry skiing at many ski resorts. Keystone offers the unique experience of taking or being pulled behind a snow cat for only $10 to whichever run you want.
Overall, Keystone is a more advanced and secluded mountain that offers unique experiences and ways to beat crowds and long wait times. Even so, Vail is still a family friendly resort and if you can manage to be an early riser and be on the mountain right when it opens, you will have a good three hours of groomed terrain to enjoy. Personally, I would rather go to Keystone over Vail for a day ski trip during the winter season. Being a more advanced skier, I love being able to go alpine style down long black runs with no other people. Go Devil, Wild Irishman and Mozart are my favorite runs. Many locals also prefer resorts like Keystone because of the more advanced terrain and the lack of tourists. If you are a beginner skier or snowboarder and are not planning on enrolling in ski school, then I would recommend you go to Vail. Vail is a safe place to learn and cruise down less steep runs until you have more developed skills. Cub’s Way, Simba, and Born Free are all good runs to start with. Once you can navigate well and are confident in your skills, then you can try out Keystone and really enjoy your experience. Either way you choose, Vail and Keystone are world class ski resorts in which you can sample terrain that is the best Colorado has to offer.
Anomalisa began not as a film, but as a stage play. Written by the brilliant Charlie Kaufman, the play featured 3 actors, standing off to one side of the stage, acting mainly with their voices and with no movement.The staging was designed by Kaufman to spark the imagination of the crowd. Instead of showing the characters doing things, the setup made the audience visualize the wild and crazy story. Anomalisa was intended to be a fleeting thing, a special experience reserved only for those that attended the limited release.
Luckily, for the rest of us who didn’t have a chance to get out to the theatre, Kickstarter funded the film adaptation of Charlie Kaufman’s play, turning it into the stop motion Academy Award nominated beast it has become. The resulting product is amazing, unbelieveable, crazy, touching, and absolutely lovely. It’s world is perfectly realized, with believable characters and a relatable protagonist.
I would like to tell you the story of Anomalisa, what the inciting incident is and the setup and all of that, but I don’t think it’s wise. The trailer does a great job of hinting at the story without spoiling anything, and the official IMDB description reads “A man crippled by the mundanity of his life experiences something out of the ordinary.” As much as I am generally opposed to vague marketing and J.J. Abrams’ “Mystery Box”(the marketing was a big problem I had with Star Wars), I respect Anomalisa’s use of this strategy, and actually think an audience member will get the most out of the experience knowing the least amount possible about the story. You can find any number of synopsis’ on the internet, explaining what the setup of the film is, and if you’re so inclined, you can find one and read it. And even though you now spoiled the premise for yourself, viewing it is going to be a great experience despite the knowledge you possess. But unfortunately you lose the investigative aspect of the film. You can never gain back the adventure of finding out more and more about the story and world, and it is for that reason you will find no such description here.
All that you need to know about Anomalisa at this moment is that it is a story from the mind of Charlie Kaufman, who created such unique and amazing works as Being John Malkovich, Adaptation, Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Well known for his unique and hilarious writing style, he does not disappoint with his most recent endeavour.
The stop-motion animation is very fluid and beautiful, showcasing the ideas and messages pursued throughout the film perfectly. Duke Johnson was chosen to co-direct alongside Kaufman, and he was the perfect choice. Johnson is a true veteran of the stop motion world, having worked on many different projects in the field. I cannot emphasize how important and influential he was for Anomalisa to become a success. He and Kaufman made an affecting stylistic film that stays true to the story’s original vision.
The style really elevates the film creating a consistently wonderful tone throughout. Kaufman was worried that in its transfer to screen, Anomalisa would lose the magical, imaginative aspect it had developed in its theatrical run, but the magic is still very much alive through the puppets, and sets.
Anomalisa is an amazing film. I cannot express enough the emotions that are elicited through this movie. It’s touching, amazing, beautiful, funny, sad, and melancholy. It deserved it’s Best Animation Nomination, and I believe it deserves to win Best Animated Picture (even though Inside Out is totally going to win. Inside Out wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t nearly as good as this was). You are doing a disservice to yourself if you miss out on this one. 9/10
Haze's Grandfather was working on something that could make a new superhero like Ex.67 during the age of super humans. Then many years later Haze had found his Grandfather's work. What he found was: A suit, smoke pellets, holster with a gun, and a smoke recipe sheet. When Haze put on the suit he felt a wave of strength surging through him. He then started busting out villains from sphere 13 (a villain society getting the world ready for the sphere). I will explain later about the villain society....
Real talk: it’s Valentine’s Day, and I still like books more than people. I have unrealistically high expectations because I’ve read so many romance novels. I’m waiting for my Park Sheridan, Augustus Waters, Étienne St. Clair… *sighs* Anyway, in honor of Single Awareness Day (a.k.a. Valentine’s Day), I’ve compiled a list of my favorite romance novels. Don't forget to check out my blog for more YA book reviews and recommendations and follow me on Instagram for updates every time I post!
My Favorite YA Romance Novels (In No Particular Order):
1. Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell
2. The Fault In Our Stars by John Green
3. Anna and the French Kiss (series) by Stephanie Perkins
4. If I Stay by Gayle Forman
5. My Heart and Other Black Holes by Jasmine Warga
6. I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson
7. The Game of Love and Death by Martha Brockenbrough
8. The Selection (series) by Kierra Cass
9. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
10. Delirium (trilogy) by Lauren Oliver
In a kingdom in lands far away,
years that passed before this day.
Lived a princess in captivity,
trapped in a tower by the sea.
King Callous ruled the kingdom's land
with a fearsome scowl and a ruthless hand.
It was by his doing that she was trapped--
for one day at court his anger snapped.
Banishing her to a distant tower,
he felt no remorse, but greed and power.
She was led away against her will,
only allowed to bring paper and quill.
She spent her time simply writing away,
to her guard's delight and her father's dismay.
The written stories gave her hope.
And one day, though her telescope,
she spied a man riding her way,
rubbed her eyes, and began to sway.
For years she'd been the land's outcast,
but now she'd be rescued, and break from her past.
He rode quickly across the land,
with a bunch of flowers in his hand.
"Fair maiden," he called, "years it's been.
How nice to see you once again!
Do you, by chance, remember me?
We were betrothed when we were three.
I've come now to rescue my captive bride."
And into the sunset they did ride.
Image Credit: Douglas Scortegagna on Flickr.
Full disclosure: I did NOT want to see this movie from the beginning. This was one of those situations where I was overruled and had to take one for the team, so to speak. I enjoy zombie movies, don't get me wrong, but I am a huge Jane Austen fan and the thought of this zombie mash-up made me cringe. With that said, I have a few thoughts about this film.
It is a loose retelling of the classic work by Jane Austen. The characters from different social classes are struggling their way through relationship woes...all while fighting the undead horde. There was a good amount of action and humor to keep me interested throughout the whole film. I wasn't rolling my eyes as much as I expected and though I am a litltle reluctant to admit it, I enjoyed this movie. I would recommend it to anyone looking for a zombie movie who doesn't want too much gore. Expect a B movie with a high production cost. I give it 3/5 stars.
On these cold winter days, sometimes it is nice to find beauty in the small things. Spring is just around the corner, afterall.