Sunday, September 17, 2017
★★★★★ - A Review by Cameron Kanachki
I'm not a horror guy. I'll just put that out there.
I don't see many horror films because: 1. I'm a scaredy cat; & 2. Most recent horror films are awful, as they put an over-reliance on jump scares.
It is an extremely more-than-welcome horror film. It blends the jump scares with an overwhelming sense of dread, something that has been missing in horror films as of late.
Based on Stephen King's 1986 novel & set in the summer of 1989, the film centers on Bill Denbrough (played by Jaeden Lieberher), a twelve-year-old boy in Derry, Maine. Bill's seven-year-old brother, Georgie (played by Jackson Robert Scott), disappeared nine months earlier. Fearful of the bullies who will have free reign towards him for 3 months, Bill takes solace with his friends: foul-mouthed Richie Tozier (played by Finn Wolfhard); hypochondriac Eddie Kaspbrak (played by Jack Dylan Grazer); & mysophobic Stanley Uris (played by Wyatt Oleff).
Meanwhile, Beverly Marsh (played by Sophia Lillis), a burnout who has had rumors about her spread throughout the school, also has to deal with her father's (played by Stephen Bogaert) sexual & physical abuse. Before school ends for the summer, Beverly meets Ben Hanscom (played by Jeremy Ray Taylor), a new kid in Derry who is also bullied for his weight. They immediately take a liking to each other.
During the summer, many kids go missing, just like Georgie. Bill, Richie, Eddie & Stanley go to the Barrens to search for Georgie, whom Bill thinks is still alive. Ben ends up down there after being attacked by the gang of bullies.
The next day, everyone sees visions of their biggest fears & nightmarish visions of Pennywise (played by Bill Skarsgård), a terrifying clown. The 6 kids encounter Mike Hanlon (played by Chosen Jacobs), a homeschooled orphan who is also terrorized by Pennywise. They find that Pennywise assumes the identity of their biggest fear, & appears once every 27 years for 12-16 months. They decide to fight off Pennywise once & for all as "The Losers Club."
The cast is one of the best ever in a horror film. Lieberher, Wolfhard & Lillis are the best out of the young cast. But the standout of the entire cast is Bill Skarsgård, who is absolutely haunting every moment he's on the screen.
Andy Muschietti's direction is astounding. Muschietti, most known for directing the 2013 horror film Mama, is at the top of his game here, setting an overwhelmingly dark & terrifying mood.
The screenplay by Chase Palmer, Cary Fukunaga & Gary Dauberman is excellent. Their script does an excellent job of adapting Stephen King's novel, & It doesn't have the characters you'd usually see in a horror film (i.e. the stupid teenage characters). The characters feel really human, & are actually smart, & don't make stupid decisions.
Chung-Hoon Chung's cinematography is amazing. The way he frames the characters is excellent, & every shot looks perfect.
The editing by Jason Ballantine is excellent. Ballatine has perfectly paced & assembled this film, & unlike other horror films, he doesn't use a lot of jump cuts.
Benjamin Wallfisch's score is haunting. His score, primarily using a piano, makes an already scary film even scarier, building the terror to a breaking point.
The sound design is excellent. All the sounds in the film manage to scare the absolute crap out of everyone who hears them.
And the makeup & hairstyling is nothing short of amazing, especially the makeup used on Pennywise, which makes It extremely terrifying.
This is one of the best horror films of the century. They sadly do not make horror films like these anymore. I truly cannot wait for It: Chapter Two.
It was seen by me at the MJR Marketplace Digital Cinema 20 in Sterling Heights, MI on Friday, September 8, 2017. It is in theaters everywhere. Its runtime is 135 minutes, & It is rated R for violence/horror, bloody images, & for language.
Sunday, September 3, 2017
This goes without saying, but Steven Spielberg is a master.
Since his theatrical debut, 1974's The Sugarland Express, Spielberg has captivated the minds of the young, the old, & everyone in between, with films like Jaws, the Indiana Jones franchise, E.T. the Extra Terrestrial, The Color Purple, Hook, the Jurassic Park francise, Schindler's List, Saving Private Ryan, Minority Report, Lincoln, & Bridge of Spies.
Now, for its 40th anniversary, Columbia Pictures has re-released Steven Spielberg's 1977 sci-fi masterpiece, Close Encounters of the Third Kind. This was my first time seeing this film. And it was such a glorious experience.
The film focuses on Roy Neary (played by Richard Dreyfuss), an electrical worker in Muncie, Indiana. He lives a mostly uneventful life with his wife, Ronnie (played by Teri Garr) & their three children: Brad (played by Shawn Bishop); Toby (played by Justin Dreyfuss); & Silvia (played by Adrienne Campbell).
One night, the power suddenly goes out in town, & Roy is called into work. While driving to work, the metal objects in his truck suddenly move around, & a strange craft appears overhead. It's a UFO. After returning home, he tells his family, but they don't believe him.
Another Muncie resident, Jillian Guiler (played by Melinda Dillon), lives with her son, Barry (played by Cary Guffey). The UFO appears by their house, & just like the metal objects in Roy's truck, Barry's toys suddenly start turning on & operating.
Meanwhile, French scientist Claude Lacombe (played by François Truffaut) & his American interpreter, cartographer David Laughlin (played by Bob Balaban) investigate the strange incidences of a pilotless flight in the Sonora Desert, a lost cargo ship in the Gobi Desert, & a five-tone sequence from a UFO in Northern India. The noise is sent to space, with the response being a set of coordinates, pointing to Devils Tower in Moorcroft, Wyoming.
Eventually, all three of these stories will converge at Devils Tower, leading to an eye-opening discovery.
The cast is excellent. Dreyfuss does an excellent job of documenting his character's descent into madness after encountering the UFO. Truffaut, in his only English-language performance (& his only performance in a film he didn't direct), shines in every moment he's on the screen. And Dillon gives an amazing performance that was well-deserved of her Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress.
Steven Spielberg's direction is phenomenal. He re-defined the sci-fi blockbuster with this film, & his vision for this film is unparalleled. At every moment, his direction exhibits a strong, childlike wonder in the audience.
His screenplay is also amazing. The characters are extremely well-written & feel so human, & the plot is so intricate.
The cinematography by the late Vilmos Zsigmond is nothing short of spectacular. Every single shot is immaculate, & the way he frames the characters is amazing.
The editing by Michael Kahn is excellent. The film is perfectly paced & assembled, & with this film, Kahn jumpstarted his way into becoming the most awarded editor in film history.
The production design by Joe Alves & Daniel A. Lomino is excellent. The sets are so immersive, especially the designs of the UFO's.
The score by John Williams, the greatest film composer of all time, is amazing. His large-scale orchestral style of music is definitely on play here (notably the famous five-tone sequence), & it is so perfect.
The sound design is impeccable. The five-tone sequence, the sounds of the UFOs, & all the other sound effects are so indescribably amazing.
And the visual effects are so awe-inspiring, & way ahead of their time. They don't feel like the style of regular effects from 1977. And honestly, they don't feel that dated. The effects here, along with the visual effects from the other sci-fi masterpiece from 1977, Star Wars, redefined the way effects can be put into film.
This is truly one of the greatest films ever made. It's a groundbreaking, wondrous, & overall perfect cinematic experience.
Close Encounters of the Third Kind was seen by me at the Emagine Macomb in Macomb Township, MI on Saturday, September 2, 2017. It is in theaters everywhere. Its runtime is 137 minutes, & it is rated PG for some intense sci-fi action, mild language & thematic elements.