Saturday, February 28, 2009

Entertaining Mr. Sloane

Entertaining Mr. Sloane
21 February, 2009
Trafalgar Studios
Written by Joe Orton
Directed by Nick Bagnall

This is the first chance that I have had to ever see an Academy Award nominated actor or actress perform live. I must say that Imelda Staunton is a phenomenal actress on screen OR stage. She gave a very funny, disturbed, and touching performance in this play.

The play itself was very dark and very funny. It involves the story of a Mr. Sloane who rents a room from Kathy (played by Imelda Staunton). She is immediately attracted to him, but Mr. Sloane is not who he seems to be. He uses his charisma and charm to pit Kath and her brother against each other.

Rustin Allison

Friday, February 20, 2009

A Century of Model Animation

A Century of Model Animation
Written by Ray Harryhausen and Tony Dalton

This is a great book about the history of model animation, co-written by one of the masters himself. Obviously the book cannot cover the many different animators that have helped contribute to this fascinating form of cinema, but it provides a great overview. The great thing about the book is that it includes the thoughts and insight of Ray Harryhausen who has worked with Willis O'Brien, and then came into his own (and eventually inspiring others to pursue the artform).

I love model animation (or stop-motion). I have always been intrigued by these types of films. I remember being scared and enthralled by Clash of the Titans when I was a boy, and it is amazing to think of the dedication, concentration, and patience that went into making such great characters come to life. 

Rustin Allison

Sunday, February 15, 2009


What can I say more about this game? It deserves all of the reviews and accolades it has received! I love trying out new player designed levels (there are some great ones out there). The level editor is fantastic (though I am a bit slow) and I have just finished creating my fourth level. It is nowhere near as good as some others available online, but it does something fantastic just the same. Even though I know how the level works and all of the pitfalls in advance, it still makes me laugh to play through it. This game brings a smile to my face every time that I play it, and I don't think that it is one that I will ever trade-in or sell.

Rustin Allison

The Moonstone - Book 3

The Moonstone
Written by Wilkie Collins

Another book from the 100 Classic Book Collection. This was the longest one yet! I love the fact that I can carry over 100 books around on my Nintendo DS.

Anyway, on to my thoughts of the book. One of the things that I enjoyed about this book is its sense of humor. There were severals moments that did make me laugh a little to myself as I was reading. The book is divided into severals sections each narrated by a different character. Miss Clack is one of these characters who is so religious and wanting to help those around her find religion that she often overlooks that help that she should give instead. She leaves tracts and different readings around the places she stays so that others may find Christianity. Her section was one of the highlights of the book.

The book is a mystery about the disappearance of a rare diamond. The use of different narrators allows the reader to discover how the 19th century class system operated in England, and how the members of these classes treated each other differently.

Rustin Allison

Dog Soldiers

Dog Soldiers
Directed by Neil Marshall

I guess I am in horror movie mode at the moment. Of course, I do enjoy the genre. One of the odd things about horror films is that usually they are made to genuinely scare but sometimes there is a bit of humor added to those scares. Evil Dead 2 is definitely one of those films and I would say that Dog Soldiers falls into the same category as well.

One of the other aspects of this film that is worth talking about is gender.  This film puts a squad of six male soldiers against a werewolf enemy. Obviously there is a strong masculine dynamic to the relationships and there are many struggles for power between the main characters. I only bring this up because one of Neil Marshall's later films is The Descent. This film follows a group of women adventurers encountering a monstrous enemy in the depths and darkness of a cave, and similar relationship dynamics are explored in that film as well.

Rustin Allison

"Masters of Horror" - Imprint

"Masters of Horror"
Directed by Takashi Miike

This is the first episode of "Masters of Horror" that I have seen. Imprint was only released on DVD and never shown on television. After watching this episode, I now understand why. I won't go into any details about what is shocking in this story, but be forewarned - it is not for the faint of heart (or stomach).

Takashi Miike is such a fascinating director to me. His films seem to traverse all film genres. I have only seen a few of his films (my personal favorite is The Happiness of the Katakuris), but everyone that I have seen is so completely different to any film that I have seen before. It is very hard to watch a Miike film at its most brutal, but Miike can also make a funny comedy. I look forward to Yatterman.

So, even though Imprint did disgust me I did enjoy the episode. The story relies on an unreliable narrator and takes many twists to its end. The imagery shifts from haunting and beautiful to horrific and revolting in just a few minutes. 

Rustin Allison

Sunday, February 8, 2009

蜘蛛巣城 (Throne of Blood)

Throne of Blood
Directed by Akira Kurosawa

This film is an adaptation of Shakespeare's Macbeth, and a very successful adaptation at that. I once read an article for one of my film classes (forgive me, I don't remember who wrote it) that had to do with the problems of filming Shakespeare. One of the big problems is that his works were written for the stage. One of the main arguments of the article is that for a Shakespearean play to be successful on screen, it must be adapted to fit the language of cinema. Kurosawa indeed achieves this with his version of Macbeth

The narrative translates very well to feudal Japan and follows the story of a samurai who hears a prophecy that he will be the ruler of Cobweb Castle. Lady Asaji is the Japanese counterpart of Lady Macbeth and Isuzu Yamada delivers a very chilling performance of this woman who goads her husband into treachery and murder. I felt as though her scenes were the very best in the film.

Another scene worth mentioning is the final scene. I won't go into too many details as the film is worth watching. Let's just say Kurosawa does make changes to the end of Macbeth, and they are very successful changes. Lord Washizu (or Macbeth) meets his end in a very chilling and poignant fashion.

Rustin Allison

Friday, February 6, 2009

The Omen

The Omen
Directed by Richard Donner

My posts seem to be getting shorter and shorter. I need to quit that. It has been a bit stressful at work this past week, and hopefully that will be over with soon.

Anyway, back to the post!

This post is about the original starring Gregory Peck and Lee Remick. The standout performance in this film for me is the role of Mrs. Baylock played by Billie Whitelaw. Her portrayal of Damien's nanny is both very forceful and unsettling. Her fervid devotion to Damien is at the root of some of the more horrible events that happen in the film. She takes control of the house and eventually takes the role of Damien's mother.

There are many things that could be said about the religious content of the film, but I think that a closer look at the way family is portrayed would also be worthwhile. Both Mr. and Mrs. Thorn feel as though Damien is alienated from them. Mrs. Thorn is especially affected.  The scenes between her and Damien in the film are the more interesting to me because although Damien never seems to intentionally harm his mother, outside events drive her from caring for her son. The most notable event would probably be the drive though safari park where the car is attacked by baboons with Mrs. Thorn and Damien inside. Mrs. Thorn has no true reason as yet to fear her son and her paranoia adds to the feeling of conspiracy that permeates the narrative of the film.

Rustin Allison

Monday, February 2, 2009

The Umbrellas of Cherbourg

The Umbrellas of Cherbourg
Directed by Jacques Demy

This is a film whose packaging has always caught my eye in the DVD section. To me it seemed like a romantic, bright French musical. I got two things right. This is a very romantic musical, but overall a very sad film.

I have only seen a couple of films with Catherine Deneuve in them, and they are mostly from recent years. It was very interesting to see one of her earlier films. It is easy to see why she has become such an acclaimed actress. She has great screen presence. She does bring a glowing quality to the film.

Rustin Allison

Evil Dead 2

Evil Dead 2: Dead By Dawn
Directed by Sam Raimi

I just watched this film for the first time in quite a few years. Evil Dead 2 is on of the funniest horror movies I think that I have ever seen, and it still holds up over 20 years later. This is one of those films where you can just imagine that the cast and crew must have had so much fun making the film. 

The stand-out performer of the film is, of course, Bruce Campbell. He has such great comic timing and watching he this film you can see just how good he is at physical humor. The scene where he has to cut of his hand is grotesque, yes, but also very funny.

Rustin Allison