Skip to content

Posts from the ‘James Brigham’ Category

18
Apr

Conversation – 300

by RISHI AGRAWAL and JAMES BRIGHAM

300 041807

300 is the first confirmed blockbuster of 2007, and divided critics and the Commentary Track writers as well. Since our opinions on 300 were widely divergent, we thought it would be great to write some kind of joint review. We decided to blatantly rip off the format from the Crosstalk feature on The Onion’s A.V. Club. Don’t expect this too often (if ever again)- only when two of our writers disagree on a fairly major film. Besides, we needed something to pass the time while waiting for Spider-Man 3 to come out. Read more »

17
Apr

DVD of the Week – Review of Notes on a Scandal (2006)

by JAMES BRIGHAM

For whatever reason, I was reluctant to see Notes on a Scandal when it was showing in theatres; I had to be cajoled into buying a ticket by several of my film club friends. In retrospect, my unwillingness was borne of foolish stereotyping of the British film industry. All too often, I fall into the trap of imagining such exports as being finely acted but laborious- esoteric art house dramas that require me to be in the proper intellectual mood. Then I never see the finished product because I’m worried that my attention span will prove inadequate. If Notes on a Scandal is indicative of the majority of films currently coming out of the U.K., then I’m going to have to sign up for Netflix just to make up for lost time. And if it’s atypical, then more moviemakers from that region need to take note, no pun intended. Read more »

9
Apr

Movie Review – Grindhouse (2007)

by JAMES BRIGHAM

Grindhouse 040907

VIOLENCE, BREASTS AND IRONY

There’s a scene in the first half of Grindhouse where Cherry Darling (Rose McGowan), a former go-go dancer and recent leg amputee, takes solace in the arms of her ex-lover Wray, an earnest tow truck driver with a mystery enshrouded past. They do this on a waterbed in a Texan barbecue joint currently under siege by bio-chemical weapon created zombies. At the height of their lovemaking, disaster supposedly strikes the theater’s projection room. Mere seconds before the promised money shot of Rose McGowan’s ample charms, the film’s reel burns a brilliant white and then dissolves into a spider web of ooze. A handful of shocked grunts are heard amongst the assembled audience and then a wave of laughter bursts out resoundingly at the developments onscreen. Apparently, a missing reel has resulted in the story bursting ahead significantly, leaving the sex scene behind to be mired chin-deep in a frenzied, bloody assault by the undead horde. Read more »

2
Apr

Movie Review – Gothika (2003)

by JAMES BRIGHAM

IT DOESN’T ROCKIKA

Gothika starts off with a promising title sequence that subtly hints at danger and impeding tragedy through moody music. The opening that follows is a bare bones setup that proceeds in rapid fashion. Dr. Miranda Grey (Halle Berry) is a psychiatrist at a local asylum; her coworker is Pete (Robert Downey Jr.), and she has a loving husband who also happens to run the hospital. Driving back home on a stormy night, she crashes her car to avoid running down a mysterious girl in the middle of the road. The film then flashes forward to a few days later and we discover that: Miranda’s husband is dead, she’s the primary suspect in his murder, and that she’s been committed to the very same asylum she used to work at. Oh the delicious irony! Read more »

26
Mar

Movie Review – The Hills Have Eyes (2006)

by JAMES BRIGHAM

MIGHT WANT TO SKIP THE DESERT

Here’s some advice for travelers who might be considering taking a trip to sites near Horror Movie Land. 1.) Bring several spare containers of gasoline to avoid having to stop at out-of-the-way fuel stations. 2.) If for some reason you forgot to stock up and need to refuel, do the complete opposite of whatever the creepy old man working there suggests. He’s not salt of the earth and he’s not charmingly eccentric, he’s a psycho. 3.) In general, just avoid vacationing to spots that lie within ten miles of primeval forests, abandoned amusement parks, or arid wastelands – especially arid wastelands. That’s the primary lesson I’ve taken from Alexandre Aja’s The Hills Have Eyes, a remake of Wes Craven’s evocatively titled 70’s horror classic. The latter I have not seen, but I’m divided about whether it’s something worth tracking down after watching this well made but brutal and depressing update. Read more »

20
Mar

Movie Review – 300 (2007) [James Brigham]

by JAMES BRIGHAM

300 032107

Picture This Scene

I’m going to take advice from the Frank Miller school of writing and open my review of this epic with a brash, incendiary declaration: 300 is a better film than Sin City, punk. Comparison of the two adaptations is damn near unavoidable due to large portions of my brain’s storage capacity being devoted to knowledge of sequential art and the silver screen. Luckily for my sanity, this mental showdown lasts about as long as a frontrunner footman against a Spartan phalanx. Director Zack Snyder surpassed my lofty expectations and delivered a film that easily bests Robert Rodriguez’s crime caper in nearly every way. 300 is a historical popcorn piece punctuated with thought provoking philosophy and awash with truly lavish visuals; it’s already become one of my top films of 2007. Read more »

28
Feb

Movie Review – The Marine (2006)

by JAMES BRIGHAM

Besides myself, does anybody out there ever wonder if more than a few major Hollywood players making pictures today aren’t secretly pyromaniacs or sex addicts? Action movies are particularly responsible for stirring this line of questioning. At a certain point, I think that some of the people behind the scenes might have spent a bit too much time as youths either a.) Digging holes in their backyard, filling them with gasoline, and dropping in lit matches or b.) Watching their hot next-door neighbor undress via telescope. Think about it – how many times do you, as an audience member, really have to see a fiery car explosion in order to understand the plot? What does a shot of a lingerie clad woman do to advance your understanding of her character? Spectacle and titillation, my friends. You typically won’t find yourself muttering such questions in a film with depth, but in a superficial flick like The Marine, those factors are as prevalent as inflatable animals at a public pool’s shallow end. Read more »

15
Feb

Movie Review – Lady in White (1988)

by JAMES BRIGHAM

It may seem odd to start a film review with a reference to an obscure, occult themed roleplaying game supplement, but bear with me. In the introduction to “Jail Break” (a superb scenario for the Unknown Armies RPG), Greg Stolze briefly writes on the impact of setting in regards to stories of weird scariness. He expounds the theory that bizarre tales and off-kilter individuals are more likely to be found in the isolated countryside rather than inside the bustling confines of cities. Removed from the watching eyes of the throngs and the preponderance of government oversight, the lone psychopath can stalk the night with relative impunity; the obsessed wannabe magician can conduct his rituals; the supernatural thing from beyond time and space can feed. It’s a horror writing technique that I find to be profoundly effective and one that is put to ample use in Lady in White, an equally unknown piece of pop culture. It’s an artistic gem of a ghost story based on actual folklore as well as the creator’s own childhood in upstate New York. Read more »

6
Feb

Movie Review – Smokin’ Aces (2007)

by JAMES BRIGHAM

Smokin’ Aces is writer/director Joe Carnahan’s latest offering to the god of gunplay and the goddess of cool. After its conclusion, I remarked to my friend while the credits were rolling that I wanted the DVD version to be available right now, so I could purchase the flick and watch it again – on a portable player – while sitting in the theater during a repeat matinee. I could then shift my attention back and forth between the big screen projection and the small LCD screen in front of me, surrounded by a warming aura of filmmaking bravado and sheer fun. Needless to say, I think Carnahan’s latest moviemaking ritual will win him quite a few converts. Read more »

22
Jan

Movie Review – Sliver (1993)

by JAMES BRIGHAM

Apparently, Sliver is the kind of movie that finds its way into the DVD player when I’m lazy enough to avoid working on grad school applications, but not energetic enough to call up my buddies and go out to a bar. This happened to me on a recent Saturday night when, rather than firmly committing to one choice over the other, I decided to plunge straight down the middle between active diversion and dedicated toil. In other words, I chose lethargy. And let me tell you, dear reader, nothing goes better with a single bottle of Rolling Rock and a night alone plopped on a couch than Sliver, the everyman’s erotic thriller. Read more »