100 Days of Horror welcomes you to ... SATANFEST 2013

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"Y'all know me, know how I earn a livin'. I'll catch this bird for you, but it ain't gonna be easy. Bad fish! Not like going down to the pond and chasing bluegills and tommycods. This shark, swallow ya whole. Little shakin', little tenderizin', and down you go. And we gotta do it quick, that'll bring back the tourists, that'll put all your businesses on a payin' basis. But it's not gonna be pleasant! I value my neck a lot more than three thousand bucks, chief. I'll find him for three, but I'll catch him, and kill him, for ten. But you've gotta make up your minds. If you want to stay alive, then ante up. If you want to play it cheap, be on welfare the whole winter. I don't want no volunteers, I don't want no mates, there's too many captains on this island. Ten thousand dollars for me by myself. For that you get the head, the tail, the whole damn thing."

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

100 Days of Futureshock Day 4 - "Minority Report!"

Late tonight, kiddies, but what can I say? Monday and Tuesday are busy, busy days for daddy, but that doesn't mean that he doesn't still love you and still wants to give you his sweet, sweet love.

By which of course, we mean his insight on science fiction movies.

On the slim chance anyone out there is syncing their movie list with ours, I regret to inform that we will be making an adjustment to tonight's selection.

It was originally a double bill of the two "War of the Worlds" movies, but I'm changing for two reasons. One, we don't yet have a copy of the original, but it is impending I promise. And the second is, that would give us two Steven Spielberg movies back to back, and that's just too much Spielberg for any man or woman to endure. Ever.

Instead, we will swap it with a film from Jan. 22, 1972's "The Omega Man." Enjoy our review of "Minority Report" below and thanks again for playing along!

Minority Report (2002): Directed by Steven Spielberg. Starring Tom Cruise, Samantha Morton, Colin Farrell, Max Von Sydow and Kathryn Morris.

The Skinny: In the year 2054, a special police unit called "Precog" has eliminated the act of murder in D.C. by using the special skills of three young people with the ability to see it before it happens. When the division's chief becomes a suspect, however, his investigation untangles a web of lies and death that threatens both the Precog project and his very life.

The Real Deal: It sounded like a match made in heaven - Hollywood's greatest (living) director teamed up with its greatest actor at long last! And they were right for a change - Tom Cruise is at his acting peak in "Minority Report," and Spielberg delivers a vision of the future that isn't too fucking far from right now.

There are a few problems with the movie, however, powerhouse talent aside. And while some of the plot holes feel large enough to navigate the Exxon-Valdez through, there's one particular thing that just leaps out at me screaming like a crackhead who just dropped his last pipe on the sidewalk.

And that thing is simply this: Tom Cruise's character is a junkie.

Now, in movie character terms (and even in movie career terms), this is not such a horrible thing. Many characters are drug addicts in the movies, and we still love and identify with them, and sometimes swear that their lives mirror our own so precisely that we start looking for cameras in the bathroom. But Tom Cruise is a junkie who can run, jump, climb and evade cops with fucking jet packs like an Olympic athlete. This is not a believable scenario to me in any stretch of the word. Now granted, the drug he's strung out on isn't technically heroin ("junkie" specifically refers to heroin users and not your run-of-the-mill stoner); in fact it's a completely made up drug called "neuroin," which sounds like "neurons" and "heroin" mixed together in a lethal cocktail whose effects can only be described as "totally fucking you up." Because when Cruise is chilling in his pad, inhaling his neuroin and watching videos of his dead son, he ain't jumping up the walls - he's blissed the fuck out. All I can guess is that this drug is so pure that it doesn't effect his superhuman ability to evade the specialized police force he used to manage, but it sure 'nuff looks like a good time.

The other thing that astounds me about the flick is the ending. If you've never seen it, then the following is a SPOILER and you should skip to the next section.

Like so many other Spielberg movies, the ending is as neat and tidy as an Asian student's dorm room. Everybody gets what they want, people are happy and suddenly this grim, desaturated, gun-metal-grey future ain't quite so bad. In two minutes time, the whole thing is like a Nicholas Sparks movie.

Now there are a few theories about that whole thing, one of which I just came across today. Now, at one point, the Gestapo with rocket packs finally catch up with Cruise and put him in their weird tubular prisons that keeps everyone sedated. In the words of the creepy caretaker dude, Gideon, "It's actually kind of a rush. They say you have visions. That your life flashes before your eyes. That all your dreams come true." Which is exactly what fucking happens at the end of the film! So, did Spielberg ruin his neo-noir/sci-fi masterpiece with a douchebag ending? Or did he pull the ultimate prank on us, by subtly telling us that Anderton (Cruise) is still stuck in his weird little fucking prison. It's absolutely crazy, man. When you think about it. Go on, think about it ... I got coffee ... see, crazy shit, right?!

If that's the case, then the movie moves up one notch from "excellent" to "near fucking brilliant." That, and the fact that the script is so sharply written that, if you pay close enough attention, Max Von Sydow tells you the entire plot of the film in the first ten minutes, and even later confesses to be the bad guy, although at that point, neither the character nor the audience have a fucking clue. That's good stuff.

Is It Worth My Time: Abso-fucking-lutely. It is an amazing film, even with the schmaltzy ending (see above for theories on that). All the actors are at the top of their game, and the movie is filled with the little visual things that Spielberg loves to use, like reflected overlapping images and his use of light to obscure and transition. It runs a little long and has more than a few implausible moments, but it also shines and surprises in ways that will astonish you. The break-out performance is from Samantha Morton as the Precog Agatha. Every fear, every horror to come is perfectly mapped out in her eyes and face. It's no wonder she's been nominated twice for the Academy Award.

Best Scene Ever: For action and suspense lovers, there's plenty of that. And if you're the type of dork who loves the techie stuff, oh holy shit is there plenty of that. And as an added bonus, there's also an incredible script bolstered by incredible performances. And the peak of it comes about the final third of the film, when Morton delivers a monologue about an alternate future where Cruise's son never disappeared (a major plot point, by the way - oops! Spoiler!). It brought me to utter tears, so hot and big that they dripped off my face and sizzled on my goddamn jeans. Any parent or hopeful parent would probably do the same.

Quotable Stuff: "Sean... He's on the beach now, a toe in the water. He's asking you to come in with him. He's been racing his mother up and down the sand. There's so much love in this house. He's ten years old. He's surrounded by animals. He wants to be a vet. You keep a rabbit for him, a bird and a fox. He's in high school. He likes to run, like his father. He runs the two-mile and the long relay. He's 23. He's at a university. He makes love to a pretty girl named Claire. He asks her to be his wife. He calls here and tells Lara, who cries. He still runs. Across the university and in the stadium, where John watches. Oh God, he's running so fast, just like his daddy. He sees his daddy. He wants to run to him. But he's only six years old, and he can't do it. And the other men are so fast. There was so much love in this house."