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Womb: How to Nurture Obsession

Published May 27, 2013 by vfdpixie

womb

Womb (2010, 1 hr 51 mins)

Wow!  I just watch a real mind bender.  As slow-moving as it was, Womb really eases you into a weird world of love, loss and yes, cloning.

In the not-so-distant future, a young Rebecca (Ruby O. Fee) meets a young Tommy (Tristan Christopher) during a stay at her Grandpa’s beach town home.  They become fast friends, running around a bleak beach side, until Rebecca has to move to Japan with her mother.  Tommy misses her send off at the ferry, and the two lose contact.  12 years later, Rebecca (Eva Green) returns to the town, and searches for Tommy (Dr. Who’s Matt Smith).  She finds him, and they quickly rekindle their friendship, much to the chagrin of Tommy’s new lover, Rose (Natalia Tena who plays Osha on Game of Thrones).  Their bond lasted over the years and they start a romance that is abruptly ended when Tommy is run down in a car accident.

Rebecca is distraught and comes up with a unique way to preserve Tommy’s memory.  After an initial objection by Tommy’s parents, they give their blessing and DNA, and she prepares to carry a cloned embryo of her lost love.   Her pregnancy is cocooned with a smug serenity, and after the birth, she raises Tommy-2 with the same protective ownership that she exhibited as a little girl when they were friends.  Cloning is not a received method of procreation however, and once her secret is revealed by a disgruntled Rose, who had seen Rebecca at the cloning lab, Rebecca is ostracized by the town’s mothers.  She retreats to an isolated beach cottage, and they live in relative seclusion until Tommy-2 becomes a young man.  Rebecca’s love has been defined until now, and the lines between maternal love and passion become blurred and distorted.  Tommy-2 brings home the giggly Monica (Hannah Murray), and they live with Rebecca; her watchful eye smouldering with jealousy as Tommy-2 enjoys young love.  Her obsessive love starts to worry Monica, and when Tommy-2’s grandmother/mother shows up unannounced, things fall apart.

From the handful of reviews I browsed, Womb got more pans than praise, but I actually liked this slow-moving, quiet film.  It reminded me of another movie that crossed the taboo line, Birth with Nicole Kidman; the story of  a woman who is lead to believe her husband is reincarnated in a 12 year old boy.  They were both eerie and made you wrap your head around notions of what is acceptable and what is considered sanity and selfish obsession.  I liked the subtle science fiction slant to Womb.  It wasn’t the only focus of the film, allowing the “what if?” aspect of cloning, lost love and the consequences to take the forefront.  I imagine that in the real world, this situation would have been banned by some sort of ethics or incest law, but it brings to question:  Was she just a womb, a mother, or a caretaker raising her lost love?

Hungarian director Benedek Fliegauf was criticized for the lack of dialogue in the film (perhaps this was because it was his first film in English), but I felt the cast had the talent to convey emotion and the mood of each scene without much talk.  Matt Smith was brilliant as Tommy/Tommy-2 and it was great to see his range of acting aside from the quirky Doctor Who. I loved how Smith played up Tommy-2 almost remembering things but not quite, like the first Tommy’s memory still lingered in his DNA.  Eva Green played Rebecca with this subtle, creeping turmoil that reveals itself little-by-little.  My only issue with her character was the fact that she did not age that much.  Was this because in the future, aging is conquered? This point was never addressed.  I also liked Ruby O. Fee who played the young Rebecca.  She really captured the obsessiveness with young Tommy that carried through to adulthood.  She actually gave me the creeps a few times, especially when she watched young Tommy sleeping.

While not for everyone and not the perfect film, Womb is worth a watch for the slow burn creepy/eerie atmosphere and story that distorts the norms of love, science and sanity.

Most Memorable Line (and Scene):  Young Tommy-2 plays with  his “mother” Rebecca and they chase each other until young Tommy-2 wrestles her to the ground, holding her down.  “Now I can do whatever I want to you”, he says in a weird, menacing way, and Rebecca replies, “Go ahead…”, looking meaningfully into his eyes.  Yeah, that’s not creepy.   Not at all.

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Dark Shadows and How to Name a Pixie

Published May 25, 2013 by vfdpixie

house of dark shadows      night of dark shadows

House of Dark Shadows                                Night of Dark Shadows

(1970 1 hr, 37 mins)                                       (1971 1 hr, 35 mins)

My mom was such a huge fan of the gothic ABC T.V. soap Dark Shadows that she named me after one of the characters.  This is original pixie lore, and I wear it like a badge of honour.  How cool/crazy do you have to be to name your wee pixie child after the daughter of a gothic and ghostly dynasty?  My mom really dug all things supernatural, and she has passed this penchant down to me.  I miss her dearly and I feel that today, on my birthday, it is only fitting that I watch House of Dark Shadows and Night of Dark Shadows as my birthday double feature.

In House of Dark Shadows, governess Maggie Evans (Kathryn Leigh Scott) looks for her charge, David Collins (David Henesy).  They play a cat and mouse game, while creepy handyman Willie Loomis (John Karlen) who is supposed to help look for David too, decides to instead look for some hidden treasure on the Collins Estate, and gets himself into a spot of trouble as he awakens Barnabas Collins (Jonathan Frid), a vampire and ancient ancestor, and becomes his servant.  Barnabas introduces himself to the Collins clan, Elizabeth (Joan Bennett), Roger (Louis Edmonds), Carolyn (Nancy Barrett) and David, as a distant cousin who just happens to bear an uncanny resemblance to a portrait of Barnabas from the 1700’s.  During a fancy dress ball, Barnabas becomes smitten with Maggie, who looks like his long-lost love Josette.  He is determined to make her his bride, despite Maggie’s attachment to her boyfriend Jeff (Roger Davis).  In the meantime, Barnabas feeds on unsuspecting women, one of them being his cousin Carolyn.  She joins him as an undead and becomes a tad jealous when he reveals that he intends to marry Maggie.  She gets vampy crazy and threatens to reveal Barnabas’ vampire secret.  He confines Carolyn to her crypt, but she escapes and tries to turn her boyfriend Todd (Donald Briscoe).  Sadly, she gets staked.  There is also Dr. Julia Hoffman (Grayson Hall), who learns of Barnabas’ vampire secret, and she too becomes smitten by his vampire charm.  She creates a cure for him, and he is determined to marry Maggie as he becomes more human-like.  This plan becomes botched by the jealous Dr. Julia, and Maggie’s boyfriend Jeff and creepy Willie have to save the day, but not before Barnabas flits away as a bat.

In the second film, Night of Dark Shadows, we meet artist Quentin Collins (David Selby) and his wife Tracy ( played by the stunning Kate Jackson in her first feature film), who have inherited the Collinwood Estate. It is run by creepy housekeeper Carlotta Drake (Grayson Hall) and Gerrard (James Storm) the stable hand. Quentin is haunted by dream memories of an Angelique Collins (Lara Parker), a woman who was accused, tried and hanged as a witch. She was also having an affair with her husband’s brother, Charles Collins.  Carlotta reveals to Quentin that he is the reincarnated Charles and he must get rid of his wife for the spirit of Angelique, who vowed to return one day.  Quentin becomes lured by the spell of Angelique and the influence of Carlotta.  He also becomes more and more like Charles, Angelique’s lover and more contemptuous towards his wife Tracy.  Their worried friends, Alex (John Karlen) and Claire (Nancy Barrett), intervene when Quentin becomes violent.  Apparently, director Dan Curtis had to edit out several minutes from the film, so it lost some coherency towards the end.  The plot quickly dissolves into Team Carlotta vs. Team Tracy, then Team Quentin & Tracy vs. Team Carlotta & Gerard, and some crazy bongo punctuated fights.

Both films were a lot of campy gothic fun for me.  If I had to pick a favourite though, it would have to be House of Dark Shadows, simply because of my huge inflated ego.  Yes folks, pixie was named after Carolyn Stoddard.  It’s not often these days that I hear a man sigh “Ohhh, Carolyn!!” as he is being fed on by a vampire, or scream, “Carolyn!!” in a vampiric, fevered trance.  Hey, I’ll take what I can get (and no, I’m not skipping back to those scenes continually just to hear my name…I’m not!…really!).  The groovy camera angles and blurred kill shots are things of beauty, as well as the delicious, bright red ’70’s blood.  It’s interesting to see that some of the actors in the first film played completely different characters in the second film, a practice that is most currently seen in American Horror Story.  In the original Dark Shadows T.V. series, there were several story arcs that got a tad confusing as parallel times and storylines occurred with different outcomes.  Check out http://www.collinwood.net/ for detailed episode synopsis and great information on the series, cast and crew.

I was excited to see the 2012 remake by Tim Burton.  I’m a huge fan of his, and couldn’t wait to see what he would bring.  He combined storylines from the 2 films to create campy visual eye candy.  I loved the sets and costuming, and Johnny Depp brought his own unique interpretation of Barnabas.  Helena Bonham Carter was perfectly cast as Dr. Julia Hoffman,  but I was disappointed with the liberties taken with Carolyn’s character.  He stayed true to her being a teen in the original series, but a werewolf?  That blended part of Quentin’s lineage put me off, but then again, the Collins lineage itself is quite a trip.

Of course these two vintage horror films are part of my collection, courtesy of Suspect Video.  So glad I have them as I feel they are a part of my crazy, personal history. Happy Birthday to me!!

Favourite Scenes:  Anything with Barnabas Collins.  Jonathan Frid’s face was so interesting and charismatic, despite not being conventionally handsome.  The same goes for David Selby as Quentin Collins.  I also loved the scene in House of Dark Shadows when the vampire cure goes wrong. The close-ups were kind of revolting and actually scary. Oh, and the slo-mo staking.  Just has to be seen.

Most Memorable Lines:  when Carolyn says to Barnabas, “There’s so much about you that I’m dying to know.”  Um, yeah, you bet sister!

3-D and Pixie’s Left Eye

Published May 22, 2013 by vfdpixie

Dear reader, I have a secret to share with you.  3-D movies are lost on me.  I’ve tried seeing them with my regular glasses under the 3-D set, and with my contacts.  No dice.  After 3 strabismus surgeries at the ages of 5, 12, and 26, my left eye looks normal, and I can see pretty well with it, but it seems that a lingering weakness means it doesn’t work in tandem with my right, making 3-D movies a lesson in frustration.

At first I wondered if I expected too much.  I remember as a kid seeing a commercial for a 3-D movie where the characters jumped out of the screen at the viewers.  “Sign me up for that!”, I thought, expecting my favourite monsters to shake me in my very seat.  My chance would come several years later with a special T.V. movie (the nature of which I can’t seem to recall, but my sister insists it was probably pure cheese).   The local paper provided the 3-D glasses.  I was so excited!  My sister and I bought a couple of newspapers for our glasses, sat in front of the T.V. and waited for the spectacle to start.  It went something like this:

Sis: “Oh cool!”

Pixie:”What?!  What?!”

Sis: “Don’t you see it?”

Pixie: “I see one red lens and one blue lens.”

Sis: “Oh….”(10 minutes later)”How ’bout now?”

Pixie: “Red lens. Blue Lens.”

Sis:  “Close your left eye!”

Pixie: “Blue lens.”

Sis:  “Oh.”

This went on for a few more minutes, with more attempted adjustments, until we dissolved into giggles.  Of course the quality was not that great in terms of televisions and 3-D glasses in the 80’s, but for most people with mostly normal vision, they got the gist of the effect.  Me, not so much.  But I never stopped trying.

Case in point:  the blockbuster Avatar.  I went with my childhood friend, Big Ray (yes, he really is big.  Like, 6’7 big), when it was released, and the theatre was packed.  I must admit, as we scoured the theatre for seats, I noticed the looks on people’s faces.  They said quite clearly, “Please make the giant sit somewhere other than in front of me.”   For us, those seats were almost in the front row.  Not the greatest seats, but I hoped our proximity to the screen would make something happen.  Craning our necks up, way up, our supposedly fresh 3-D glasses perched on our noses, Big Ray snickered, his large hand patting my head sympathetically as I muttered, “I don’t see it.  Are the tails 3-D too?”  I actually loved that movie, and saw it again minus the 3-D anxiety.

More recently, I went to see Iron Man 3 with my sis.  We got the movie times wrong and ended up going to the 3-D showing.  Since there were fewer people around, I didn’t mind.  We got our pink-eye, I mean, 3-D glasses and I prepared to maybe see something this time.  Robert Downey Jr. looked like he might have been not-so-flat, but I couldn’t be sure.  And all those Iron Man suits flitting around could have looked like they were coming at me, but I wasn’t going to bet on it.  The movie itself was o.k. but a tad too long.  I only wanted to see it because I love Don Cheadle.  The others I’m indifferent about, except for Sir Ben Kingsley, who looks like my sweet Uncle Merv.  Sir Ben was pretty brilliant, and I would recommend the film for his character the Mandarin alone.  Guy Pearce also made a great bad guy, and his character, Aldrich Killian was revolting until he turned bad.  You see, I’ve noticed Guy has a habit of picking really unsavoury looking people to portray, mostly covered in dirt.  This time around, he redeems himself and cleans up real nice-like.  But I digress…

To sum things up, dear reader, if you’ve ever wonder why I don’t review 3-D movies here, it’s because of my left eye.  After several attempts, I’ve accepted that the effect is totally lost on me due to separate depth perceptions.  It helped when I did makeup though.  One eye for close up and one eye for far away somehow made things more symmetrical.  Another good thing about my left eye is that I can see around corners with it (just kidding…well, kind of…), and my vision is generally pretty good with glasses and contacts, so I can’t really complain.  I didn’t really like wearing those 3-D glasses anyway.  I’m sure there are health and safety laws in place that prevents the spread of gross things like pink eye, but I have no idea where those glasses have been.  This thought, along with all the other insane ones that take up residence in my pixie mind, haunts me.  So for now, I will have to take your word for it, unless you want to describe your 3-D experience through interpretive dance.  I’m open to that too.

A Beacon in the Darkness

Published May 20, 2013 by vfdpixie

into the darkness

Star Trek Into the Darkness (2013, 2 hrs 12 mins)

Where do I start?  This movie was incredible from the first frame to the last.   I am rarely so enthusiastic about big budget films, but director J.J. Abrams had me from the opening credits.

The Enterprise gang is in full mission mode, trying to deactivate a volcano that threatens a primitive world.  Going against strict orders, Captain Kirk saves these beings and Mr. Spock, but at the cost of the mission directive.  As a disciplinary action, Kirk is demoted to first officer under his mentor and friend Admiral Pike, and sternly reprimanded.  Unfortunately, Starfleet has a new threat within their very corridors.  Kirk is catapulted into a search and destroy mission to avenge a merciless attack against Starfleet, and he takes his team of Uhura, Sulu, Bones, Chekov, Scotty, and of course Mr. Spock on a journey fueled by courage and peppered with deceit and non-stop action.

Abrams knocked it out of the park with Star Trek Into the Darkness.  I think I liked it better than the first film!  The script was so witty and snappy, the set design was stunningly beautiful, and the costumes (down to Uhura’s earrings) was on point.  Since there are rabid Trekkies/Trekkers all over the world, I felt the attention to detail was so painstaking that this was a film to please fans.  While I am not a die-hard Trekkie, I did appreciate the campy goodness of the original series, especially the aesthetics.  I was also smitten with Captain Jean-Luc Picard (Sir Patrick Stewart) in Star Trek: TNG.  I felt Into the Darkness really respected all the series, and from the reviews, fans approved. Even though I read that Abrams was not a huge fan of the franchise, I think he stayed true to Gene Roddenberry’s vision of a multicultural, interplanetary future, from the people of colour, to the alopecia universalis Science Officer 0718 (Joseph Gatt), to the aliens.  Maybe directors should take a cue from this vision and cast people (and aliens if need be) on their ability and not because they look like the status quo.

And speaking of the cast- they were amazing!  Zachary Quinto as Spock, Chris Pine as Kirk and Zoe Saldana as Uhura kept up the chemistry, and I saw a few familiar faces here and there, like Aisha Hinds as Officer Darwin who most recently appeared as the baddie detective Rosalind Sakelik on Cult, and Noel Clarke as Thomas Harewood who was in Heartless and a season of Dr. Who.  Of course I have to mention Simon Pegg as Scotty and Karl Urban as Bones, who provided great comic relief.  Benedict Cumberbatch (better known for his lead role in Sherlock) played a formidable and fitting menace as Khan, and that voice!  Creepy and enticing all at once.  And one of my favourite actors, Peter Weller, was great as the stern and steely Admiral Marcus. The casting directors got it right for sure.

I have been a fan of Abrams since Lost.  He blew my mind with one of the most original T.V. shows that kept you watching because you had no clue what was going to happen next.  He also brought us Cloverfield, which to me, revived the monster movie that I felt we were missing for many years.  I will stand by my statement that Cloverfield has one of THE best monsters ever created by creature designer Neville Page.  A key visionary in the Abrams team, Page is behind all the weird and wonderful aliens that you will see throughout Star Trek Into the Darkness, as well as a redesigned “sexy” Klingon for all those crazed Trekkies/Trekkers out there!

Star Trek Into the Darkness is an entertaining, beautiful spectacle that you must see this summer.  So do it.  Now!!

Most Memorable Line:  Probably the entire script.  So many zingers that I couldn’t keep up.  A lot of them came from Bones.  I especially liked when he called Captain Kirk’s mind “corn-fed”.  I loved his crankiness.

Favourite Scene:  Has to be when Spock gets gangster.  So Awesome.  So. Awesome. I don’t want to give too much away, so you’ll have to go see the movie.

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