Movie Review: Scream 4.

 

Of the reviews I’d read of Scream 4, I wasn’t expecting a good movie. If, by good, I mean critically acclaimed. But since when is the fourth sequel of a horror movie ever critically acclaimed?

I like my movies unrealistic, fluffy and so-bad-they’re-good. (Think Burlesque, not Sucker Punch.) Usually those are the ones with the poor ratings. And usually they’re my favourite.

Scream 4 certainly lived up to its bad review=good movie hypothesis. Dare I say it trumped the first one, even?

In essence, that’s what Scream 4 was trying to do. It was a “meta-text”, as my friend Eddie pointed out to me.

Like, in the first film, when central scream queen Sidney Prescott is unknowingly talking to Ghostface on the phone, and she says horror movies are insulting because “the girl is always running up the stairs when she should be going out the front door” (even though Sidney does exactly that only moments later!) This occurs in the third part of the first scene of Scream 4, which sees the “blonde haired, big boobed” victim, who has a very high GPA, FYI, running up the stairs when she can’t get the front door unlocked.

The precursors to that scene feature 90210’s Shenae Grimes and Pretty Little Liars’ Lucy Hale in the opening scene, which is actually the opening scene of Stab 6, followed by Anna Paquin and Kristen Bell watching that scene, which then feeds into the opening scene of Stab 7! Phew! It makes much more sense when you’re actually watching it!

Eddie also highlighted the meta-text in Scream 1, when Randy is watching Halloween and is warning Jamie Lee Curtis’s character, the original final girl, to look behind her, when his very own psycho killer is standing right behind him!

It has been said that the original Scream is for horror film lovers, like Randy, Scream 2 is for horror film makers, and Scream 3 is for those in the business (obviously, because it was set on the Hollywood back lot, but it didn’t pack the punch the other Scream’s did). You really have to be a Scream devotee to unravel all the “underlying meaning” in the fourth installment, which is designed to either be the first instalment of a new trilogy, or a re-do of the first film, depending on box-office success. As a pillow-lipped Gail notes at a police press conference, the killer is mirroring the original spate of killings. But it is so well done, movie-goers could commit to it without having a prior knowledge of the Scream franchise.

Scream 4 centres around Sidney’s return to Woodsboro on the final stop of her book tour, to promote her debut publication, Out of Darkness. Ghostface number four and/or five sees this as the perfect opportunity to seek revenge on Sidney for deserting Woodsboro in the aftermath of the first wave of killings, and leaving its residents to clean up her mess. Or so the killer says in a phone call to the main character, leading the audience to believe the killer is either Sidney’s aunt—Emma Roberts’ character’s, Jill, mum—or Deputy Judy (a throwback to Dewey’s derogatory nickname in the first film), who has a massive crush on Dewey, whom she bakes lemon squares that “taste like ass”, according to jealous wife Gail. When Deputy Judy approaches Sidney in the stairwell of Jill’s house after a neighbour is murdered, asking if Sidney remembers her from high school, it seems very likely that the killer could be her. But we know well enough by now that it’s never that obvious…

Eddie noted that Scream 3 was meant to have two killers, one of which being an old classmate of Sidney’s who felt she left her and Woodsboro behind. Maybe Judy’s not so unlikely after all…

The killer takes to filming their conquests after a suggestion from Gail, who totally kicks butt in this version, gravity-defying forehead and all. What am I talking about? Gail kicks butt in every film, almost always getting in the last shot (Billy in Scream 1 and Mickey in Scream 2. Who will it be in Scream 4?) Except for the fact that she seeks advice from high school kids when “going rogue”, and hunting for the killer herself when Dewey brushes her off. Didn’t she live through four killers herself? I’m sure she knows more than a bunch of 16-year-olds.

If New York City is the fifth character in Sex & the City, then technology certainly plays a major role in Scream 4. So the inclusion of said bunch of 16-year-olds lends itself to this notion, with YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, text, GPS and a whole host of other teen techno gadgets playing a role in the killer’s quest to become famous.

In this day and age, you don’t even have to do anything to become famous. Just ask Snooki and the cast of Jersey Shore. And, as the killer says, “everyone loves a victim”. But none better than the original…

Related: Burlesque Review.

Sucker Punch Review.

Elsewhere: [Wikipedia] Final Girl.

Images via IMDb. And a special thanks to Eddie, for helping me with this post.

Movie Review: Sucker Punch.

 

“If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.”

This is what the main character’s, Babydoll, David Carradine-esque wise fairy godfather tells her midway through her pointless journey to find a map, a knife, fire, a key and… something else (which *spoiler alert* is when Babydoll realises the story is not about her, but Abbie Cornish’s Sweat Pea, and sacrifices herself to what is alluded to as gang rape in order for Sweat Pea to escape. On a side note, WTF is Cornish doing in this movie? She’s, like, a serious actress and stuff.).

Well Sucker Punch didn’t stand for anything (if you exclude the exercise in how bad movies are made, and the kinder-whore schoolgirl images in director Zack Snyder’s spank bank, which I have), and fell for every gratuitous slow-mo’ up-skirt shot in the book.

The film commences with an attempted rape scene, a trademark of Snyder’s. (Pop culture website The Vine suggests that Carla Gugino, who plays Polish psychiatrist/burlesque madame in Sucker Punch and the Silk Spectre in Watchmen, look into “an AVO against Snyder, given she has appeared in two of his films and her characters sexually assaulted in both”.) Babydoll is framed for the murders of her mother and sister, and is dragged away to an insane asylum in “skin-coloured, rain soaked PJs”.

There her father requests a lobotomy, which will go ahead in a few days. During that time, Babydoll escapes to the Inception-like double dreamland in her mind, where the asylum and its exclusively female inhabitants morphs into a burlesque club.

The only way she can—again—escape this fantasy land (if it’s Zac Snyder’s your fantasy, why would you want to escape it?) and entrance her subjects is by dancing, which then turns to a post-apocalyptic “ancient Japan (or maybe China; all look [the] same, right?)” where Babydoll and her insane/burlesque/warrior troupe meet the wise man espousing useless proverbs at every turn as they accumulate the four items they need.

Sucker Punch actually has potential; if not for the excessive violence, hideous sexualisation and the non-plotline, it could have been good.

The story eventually returns to the real life of the asylum when the lobotomist/High Roller (an out of place Jon Hamm) “comes for” Babydoll, which is the most interesting five minutes of the film.

The Vine says, “We don’t really give a shit about any of our heroines [three of which *spoiler alert* are murdered], because neither does the film: they have no inner-life, no story beyond ‘they are sex slaves in foxy pin-up outfits’.” I found myself daydreaming about an alternative mask I could wear to a masquerade party a few nights later; to me that was more interesting than sitting through the pointlessness.

Give me a pen and a copy of the script and I think even I could do the remnants of an okay storyline and Abbie Cornish justice. I will now be boycotting all future Snyder efforts. No emphasis on “effort”.

Elsewhere: [Jezebel] Why Sucker Punch Really, Truly Sucks.

[io9] Sucker Punch Goes Beyond Awful, to Become Commentary on the Death of Moviemaking.

[The Vine] Sucker Punch Movie Review.

Images via The Vine.

On the (Rest of the) Net.

 

Rebecca Black is subversifying the pop world.

“Yet here the discerning viewer notes that something is wrong. Because it is a simply matter of fact that in this car all the good seats have already been taken. For Rebecca Black (her name here would seem to evoke Rosa Parks, a mirroring that will only gain in significance) there is no actual choice, only the illusion of choice.

“The viewer knows that she’ll take the only seat that’s offered to her…”

The Awl even goes so far as to say Black’s relationship with the rapper in her “Friday” clip might be Lolita-esque, and that the video is a commentary on “a crypto sex scene from which we return to the suburban house party”. Creepy.

What it feels like for a (tween star) girl.

I hate answering the phone. When I lived at home, I would never answer the landline when it rang. Now that I fend for myself and can only afford one phone, I only answer numbers I recognise. So does Pamela Paul, via MamaMia.

Extremely racist anti-abortion billboards aimed at African Americans.

Lucy Ormonde asks if it’s acceptable for women to make the first move. My answer: hell yes! Otherwise I would never get any action!

“Words That Are Transphobic & Why.”

The Sartorialist’s “sturdy” shitstorm.

It’s okay to be “fat”, just as long as it’s in the right places, ie. bum, hips and boobs, allowing for a small waist, à la Kim Kardashian and Christina Hendricks.

After reading this review, I can’t wait to see Sucker Punch: a “Burlesque meets Inception” amalgamation of “bustiers, fishnets and glitter instead of asylum uniforms” where Vanessa Hudgens, Abbie Cornish et al’s characters reside in the film. These are just some “of the many clues that we are not actually inside the mind of a young girl, but inside Zach Snyder’s spank bank!”

Perhaps it could have been titled something else, but “How to Be Skinny” has some good points.

Kate Walsh is not a loser!:

“She’s certainly not a loser, based on her many accomplishments. Having a baby doesn’t instantly turn you into a winner. If you feel like a loser for not having a baby, that is your personal truth, but it is not The Truth. And! The fact that so many media outlets picked up this one sentence segment—from a long cover story with quotes about divorce, high heels and Lady Gaga—shows that we, the public are the real losers, for placing so much importance on how a woman uses her uterus.”

“5 Seconds of Every #1 Song From 1993–2011.”

“What Celebrity Culture Means:” Asking completely unqualified famous teenage boys their opinions on abortion and rape:

“‘Thanks for joining us tonight Mr. Bieber. What are your views on climate change? How do you feel about Iraq? And what do you think of the criticism levied against the parents of the Columbine shooters?’”

Going Gaga for breast milk.

On catastrophes and guilt.

Is gay marriage really the hallmark of society’s downfall? Not according to this fab pie chart.

Charlie Sheen, Mel Gibson, John Galliano et al: our obsession with celebs behaving badly.

Sarah Ayoub-Christie likens the freelance market to war, via Lois Lane, on The New Adventures of Superman. I’m inclined to agree!

“Jackie O & the Twisted Politics of Being a Bad Mother” at MamaMia.

Jezebel has also picked up the story.

Where’s the (nerd) love?

Today’s celebrity perfumers could take a lesson from the late Liz Taylor in personal branding.

90% of Facebook users take note: “Ten Words You Need to Stop Misspelling.”

The fashion life cycle of the meat dress.

Images via Democratic Underground, Graph Jam, Feministing, The Awl.

Movie Review: Burlesque.

 

“Did you notice the mistake in that movie?” my friend Sallie asked me as we left the cinema.

“The only mistake in that movie was Christina Aguilera’s acting,” I replied.

I went into Burlesque expecting three things: acting so bad it hurt, quality musical numbers and Aguilera’s ’90s strawberry blonde ’do to be cut off once her character made the big time. Well, two out of three ain’t bad. (For those of you who haven’t yet seen the film, the latter point is the one that remains.)

The movie starts out with country Christina (Ali) quitting her job in a bar on a whim, and moving to the big smoke. She notices a burlesque bar one night on a walk through the city; “the best view on the Sunset Strip without any windows”. After seeing the girls perform a number, with Cher at the helm as club owner Tess, Ali begs Tess for a job onstage, but settles for working under bartender Jack (literally; but as if we couldn’t see that coming!) as a waitress.

When the alcoholic star of the show, Nikki, played by Kristen Bell, fails to turn up, Ali takes her place. Nikki is so incensed that she interferes with the music for the set, forcing Ali to use her spectacular voice—which previously no one had heard—to save the performance. Tess then begins to build her burlesque show around Ali.

This is where the film starts to get bearable, as we see more of Christina Aguilera in all her ’40s pin-up/voice-that-brings-down-the-house glory, and less of mousy, weak, annoying Ali.

There are some pretty good musical numbers in the film (a 2011 Golden Globe for Best Original Song doesn’t lie), my favourites being a dance-off between Nikki and Juliannne Hough to “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend” and one of the only legitimate “burlesque” performances in the film, “Guy What Takes His Time”, where pearls and feather fans are used as props.

Really, though, the only things that saved this movie were Christina’s performances, Eric Dane’s face, Stanley Tucci in general, and Cam Gigandet’s cookie box scene. Google it.