THE SCENESTERS

An excellent movie which reminded me in many ways without the production dollars of the movie Barcelona. It is likely the most costly scene location was a press conference at the Pasadena City Hall.

The first rate script compels the movie forward with off-beat dialogue and an odd story. What saves the script and the movie are the characters are true to the roles they’re playing. So a comic scene occurs when the “film producer” and “the writer/director,” both fresh from film school, physically fight. Of course, nobody is hurt.

The producer and writer/director are making a documentary of police investigations of murders in Los Angeles. At the second murder scene they stay after the police leave. (Police and crime scene units are second-rate.) The film people talk to the crime scene clean-up guy who has discovered clues: First victim is killed with a switchblade, and a CD of a local band, Switch, is in the room. Second vicim is killed with a bug bomb, and the CD of the local band, Toxic Air, is in the room. There are other clues which will make the film people rich and famous if they solve the murders.

Director and producer bring Clean-up Guy into the production, and the pursuit of the serial killer is on. The film makers are helped by the serial killer sending them DVRs, which reveal pre-murder activities. The Scenesters uses cliches: A victim is dressed as a witch at a Halloween Party: Dialogue: “The Witch is dead.” Clean-up guy confides in former girlfriend, now TV journalist; she betrays his confidence. A black guy claims to be the serial killer and want wants to cooperate with the production. Clean-up guy unmasks him, right handed rather than left handed; 90 percent of serial killers are white males. Black guy is an actor who wants the work whether is pays or not.

The movie ends before cliche use becomes too burdensome, overwhelming, uninventive and unfresh.

Other than it’s intrinsic worth, The Scenesters shows that entertaining well-made movies can be made for little money, by competent people who are mostly unknown. If entertainment was not so enamored with animation and special effects, movie makers could learn from The Scenesters.

SINISTER – movie review

In high concept terms Sinister is a cross between The Exorcist and Freddy, who’s still out murdering human beings.
Ethan Hawke, a non-fiction writer has limited abilities and no imagination. He has to write his next book about murder. For (inspiration?) he moves with his family into a house where its residents, a family of four, was hung in the backyard. The house was a murder scene. Presumably the police searched inside and out, but not perfectly. Easily found in the basement is a box of home movies, serial killing murders families for 55 years.
After discovering the films Hawke doesn’t give them to the cops. He decides to watch to improve his ability to write about murder? To solve the murders himself? Watching movies allows him to drink during the day. That is the extent of the writer’s imagination (other than wearing a Bennington College T-shirt). Is it the booze or is it real? Writer hears weird sounds running around the attic of the house. The police investigate and attribute the noises to squirrels. The source of the noise is more likely caused by squirrels running around the writer’s head.
[The number of crimes the writer commits while alive, are innumerable, overlooked and never addressed. Writer himself is unaware he is committing crimes by withholding and destroying evidence.]
The writer consults an academic expert who identifies a symbol appearing in the films as representing a sect or cult of early Christianity. The regular Christians of the earlier times marginalized those people, but the symbol carries on and will release all the bad things the sect/cult once did: Murder of children except a chosen favorite who lives in another world with a demon, symbol perpetuator. As things carry on writer and his family are killed by their ten year-old daughter. At film’s end she joins the other world.
Who done it? Writer burned all the films of 55 years of serial killings, leaving no means to get the guilty, providing for a sequel and giving no legacy to the writer. He won’t make the footnotes of history.
NOTE that Hawke doesn’t play a writer. He doesn’t read. He doesn’t do much that a writer does. He is sultry,defiant and unfriendly to the local cops. He does write post-it notes to himself, as though that is the means to write a long book. These activities don’t make the role convincing.
Sinister is an excellent movie for all the horror movie cliches. Errant noises, creepy, mysterious music, dark places, walking the house during the day and never open the curtains so it is always dark, using a small flashlight, etc. Writer goes upstairs when he hears a noise. Nobody is supposed to be in the house. More sounds from the attic. Writer walks and hallucinates, seeing something odd. Are the images real, a result of booze or caused by roids?
Writer can’t see much in the attic with the little flashlight. Does he do anything reasonable like go the store and get a BIG FLASHLIGHT? NO. He is very energy conservation conscious. He never turns on the lights at any time during the movie. Writer is spooked. He gets a big knife from the holder in the kitchen. [You’ve seen that on TV hundreds of times.] During another visit to the attic, he finds drawings meant to be his family? As he walks along in the attic he falls through the attic floor. The cops come but writer doesn’t tell about the films or other spooky things. During one search the darkness is explained: The power went out. No time does writer open the curtains. Writers wife wants to leave. He argues this is the best place to write. Slow as he is, Writer finally determines someone is after his family, the serial killer’s next victims. He hears noises at night and is alarmed, but he doesn’t wake up the family to say: “Let’s leave!”

HOMELAND

This uneven production reveals the misfits who are in charge of American Intelligence. RECOMMENDATION: Do not watch these episodes of fantasy and fancy glued together with cliches.

I approve of one event in Homeland. A tough looking Vice President of the United States with the qualities of Dick Chenny, on the cold side of Mercury.  and a blowhard, like Joe Biden, has a heart device. The Ultimate Bad Guy Terrorist gets the serial number and sends a message: Shut Down. The Vice President is a goner. I’ve seen this method of death in another TV show. 

However, other story points are possible. Man has new knees and a hip replacements. Suddenly the host of that equipment is running down the freeway at 75 miles per hour. CHP can’t catch him. This character will be the basis of a new franchise, a plot for a new type of machine movie/TV show. I hereby claim all copyrights, all trademarks and all trade secrets. My chief character with serial number access is an eight year old kid and his babe girlfriend. He’s doing everything on a Commodore 64. I will sell this high concept platform so everyone in Hollywood can understand: War Games for a younger crowd.

In Homeland main character Claire Danes is a CIA field operative. CIA field operatives are educated and trained to a set of skills which are not turned off, ever. In essence CIA field operatives are survivalists in which ever environment they find themselves. Claire Danes character has all the espionage skills found in a fresh faced journalist combined with a super model.

Episode 10 where I stopped watching, Claire Danes is kidnapped by the Ultimate Bad Guy Terrorist who just happens to be in the USA. He arrived unnoticed; bad things begin happening some of which have been interdicted; nobody can find the Ultimate Bad Guy Terrorist in and around Washington DC. Claire is driving and gets off the phone with her lover/adulterer/traitor/Marine/Congressman/boyfriend (Damien Lewis). She loves to her his voice, but the sex between them is strictly routine. Swooning and yearning Claire hangs up, and decides to change the radio channel. WAMO! Her car is broadsided on the passenger side by a truck.

Before the accident what does CIA Field Operative Claire know? Ultimate Bad Guy Terrorist is in Washington. Be on the look out.( BOLA) [Somebody may broadside my car and kidnap me because I’m in a TV show.]  How does Ultimate Bad Guy Terrorist know which car to broadside, and how does he set it up? (Details, details.) If Claire isn’t tied up (a woman in jeopardy) and her mouth isn’t taped, we’ll never see her big blue eyes.

A real coincidence developed for viewers who like the expected. Because Claire is kidnapped, Ultimate Bad Guy Terrorist threatens to kill her. If Lover/adulterer/traitor/Marine/Congressman/boyfriend does not supply him with the serial number of the device keeping the Vice President of the United States alive. He demands that Claire be released before he hands it over. She is released although any normal, well-balanced Ultimate Bad Guy Terrorist would kill her, she being the driving force in one agency that is on his ass. But Claire can’t be kllled because it would end the series at Episode 10. The serial number is supplied and the world is rid of the Vice President, a position James Madison labelled, “An unprofitable dignity.”

I killed the Vice President of the United States because of my love for Claire. Claire looked terrified. She is happier now that she is free. All the characters in this show are acting according to cliches, not inventively ordered. 

I can only withstand so many cliches. I’ve stopped watching.

No character is acting according to the roles: CIA Field Operative, Ultimate Bad Guy Terrorist, Senior Desk Jockey in the CIA, Manny Patinkin. Manny best role was in Criminal Minds. In Homeland he’s taking it easy, a wuss and whipped by a wife from India. In Episode 10 F. Murray Abraham eats breakfast while Manny P. talks to him. F. Murray dresses Manny P. down, You’re in the wrong business.

Finally, a character said something significant and truthful about one of the leads. If in fact Homeland depicts American Intelligence accurately, America is in trouble. The previous president liked to watch ESPN and play golf. The current guy likes to watch ESPN, play golf and attend fund raisers. Who’s in charge?