Archive for July, 2017


Scare Tactics

Family Movie Night

By Karyn Bowman

What was one of the first movies of the modern era that scared you to death.

For me it was Night of the Living Dead directed by George Romano who died in his sleep sometime early last Sunday morning surrounded by his second wife and daughter.

I remember watching it on TV as the brother tells his sister that ‘they’ are coming to get her while they are in a cemetery to visit the grave of their father. Soon we learn that the strange people are not living and they like to eat human flesh. Barbara makes it to a farm house where other living people, including a black man named Ben, have taken shelter.

night of the_Living Dead_Each tries to come up with a plan to escape and find a safe place although that may not be possible according to news reports.

As the film goes on, we discover what is happening although not why it is happening. And no one in that house is going to make it out alive.

This was George Romero’s first feature-length film and it remade all of the rules known at that time for the horror genre.

There would be no survivors, the monsters were zombies who ate human flesh. There was no reasoning as to how the dead became re-animated. The lead actor was a black man at a time in our country when there was tremendous upheaval for blacks to have equal civil rights. There was no battle for good and evil, these creature just were.

It was terrifying because a scratch or a bite could mean that you were about to become a zombie. The only way to kill them was a shot in the head and cremation. And our friends in the house did not always act in a valiant manner.

Romero shot this movie on a tight budget in a house that was about to be demolished near the city of Pittsburgh. Back then the cemetery was quite deserted but since has become a popular tourist stop for fans of the movie.

Secondly, in casting Duane Jones for the leading role, Romero changed how the movie might be perceived in context to the discrimination of the time. It didn’t matter because audiences loved this and his other movies in the dead series.

George Romero-Romero didn’t make money off of this movie because of his poor business acumen but he kept making movies, kept getting better, and inspired future film-makers. He eventually did make money off of his movies. The producers of the Walking Dead set their rules of Zombies after his movies.

Romero created that without digging deep into the sociological explanations of the movies. Some claim that the first movie released in 1968 was about the civil unrest facing America in those days. Some could claim it was about the toxins we poisoned our soil and water as they were carelessly dumped.

But George Romero made no such claims. What he did was put out good horror films that scared and scarred some of us for life. He created a body of work that dared people to think differently. That is an accomplishment.

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

Advertisements

Series Enders

Family Movie Night

By Karyn Bowman

When you watch a movie that is the end of a series, there are a few things you can count on.

The action will be intense. This is the end and what action we see needs to be more than anything else we have seen. More blood, more gore, more creepy characters than ever before.

The emotions will be intense. This characters are dealing with issues of life and death. They know whatever is happening could be the end and they feel the need to sum up their life and their actions to conclude if they have lead a good life. What is their legacy?

While watching Logan, I knew the movie would be more intense as the husband and two boys went to see it in theaters. I did not and now I am glad because I needed to be able to walk out of the room at the worst bloody messes.

LoganThe year is 2029, mutants are nearly extinct. Logan and Dr. X live near the Mexican border in a fairly deserted outpost. Dr. X is suffering from seizure disorder and needs heavy medicines to keep the (deadly for others) seizures from happening. Then Logan is found by people on both sides of a mutant factory.

He agrees to take a girl to a destination in South Dakota, slowly discovering her mutant powers are just like his. But people are following her. They don’t care whom they harm. It gets bloody and nasty on a regular basis.

Along the way, Logan confronts the effects of his comic book heroism that have left a mark on the world. Once again, he pretends not to care about others but in the end we know where his heart lies.

It is a movie that is gritty, heartbreaking, and confrontational. There are not many happy moments, not that are ever many in an X-Men movie. But for those squeamish-at-heart, this will be a difficult movie. There are lots of bloody action scenes and heart breaking emotional scenes in which innocents are killed for no good reason.

Mockingjay part 2I felt this way as I watched The Hunger Games: Mockingjay 2. Thrown back into the dystopian society of Panem, Katniss is determined to assassinate President Snow for the torture suffered by Peeta. She chooses to be the Mockingjay, symbol of the rebellion to a society that takes joy in keeping down the masses.

But it is during this time that Katniss also becomes distrustful of President Coin of the 13th district. Is this a person Katniss can trust? Is Coin’s desire for a free Panem an honest wish or is it hiding the desire for absolute power?

Katniss chooses to sneak into the capitol and is immediately recognized by the crowds and Gale. Soon, there is a troop of the best fighters, ready to help Katniss. And she needs it as they face a city booby trapped with awful killing devices and mutants.

While this movie has slicker production values than the previous movies in the Hunger Games series, it must also deal with thornier ethical issues. What is proper behavior during war? Is it right to bring good people into your fight, knowing they could die? How do you deal with a leader you are not sure of being a completely good person?

Perhaps because I am older and watching friends’ parents die along with their siblings, I feel the emotion of death being closer than ever before. I have those questions about my legacy and if I was good enough or worthy that Logan and Katniss ask themselves in these two movies.

It is one thing to ask these questions when death is a far off idea and another when it feels as if it could happen any time. Logan and Katnis both know death is a certainty in the near future for them which is why these two movies are intense emotionally.

Both had scenes which made me leave the room and feel frightened. Both made me wince at the emotional pain of each character. But there is no doubt in my mind I would watch each one again so that maybe my mind could wrap itself around the idea of finality.

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

Family Movie Night

By Karyn Bowman

My kids are always pushing me to watch movies I think I would not like. Granted, some of them are horror films, which I do not like.

It doesn’t matter if they have a funny bent to them, I can’t watch them at all.

But then there are the action adventure movies that strike at the right moments.

ben-affleck-batmanIt has been a Ben Affleck week this time around. We just re-watched Batman Vs Superman to watch all of the scenes with Wonder Woman. What I loved about this movie is the reasoning behind Batman’s hatred of Superman. It’s not a jealousy thing but one of the lack of control one has on one’s own life. Especially when the person causing the chaos is a super-strong alien who could turn against us at any time.

Worse yet, the destruction this superhero causes has effects on people he doesn’t know nor appears to have any awareness about those people.

Bruce Wayne/Batman has been there before and he is not willing to give up the control he has fought hard to gain. That is what builds his dislike and distrust until he and Superman can find a common point to trust each other on.

While we might agree this is not the strongest of supper hero movies, you cannot deny that Affleck gives Batman a world-weariness that is appropriate and fitting. He makes the man worth watching through all of his surliness and compassion.

Then my child said “get The Accountant.” So I did, knowing a little bit about this story. Affleck stars as a man who works as a free-lance accountant for underworld clients who need to know they can never take advantage of him. This professional is what many might call a high-functioning person with Autism. He is focused and smart as a whip. Numbers are the one thing that brings calm and order to his life.

Ben Affleck the accountantBut as we see through a series of flashbacks, Chris’ life has never been easy. It is his military father who must figure out how to teach his very different son to survive in the world.

These days he is doing what seems to be a straight-forward job. A lesser employee has found discrepancies in the books of a robotic company. Chris has been hired to find out how it all happened And just as he is about to get there, suddenly the job is over.

So the next thirty minutes of the movie gets a bit silly and ridiculous. There is much action, retaliation, and revelations. Just when you think you know everything, something else is revealed.

The point of this movie is not the incredulous plot line but to see Affleck play a man who is not normal, whatever that is, do things that most normal-developing people can’t do. Is it because of his ability to focus to the max or because of the training he received along the way?

Does it matter if you are just following along? Probably not. This is one of those times you just go with it. Affleck has a tendency to find not so great movies but makes his role worth watching.

I found myself enjoying the movie as I watched. Afterwards, when I took the time to think about what I just seen, I realized that this was a bit of a popcorn revenge movie that had something to say without finding all of the words it needed to use.

Disappointing.

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.