Paranormal Activity

I know Paranormal Activity isn’t even in many theaters anymore, but I had to write this review for English so I figure I’d post it here as well.:

Similar to The Blair Witch Project, Cloverfield, and Quarantine before it, Paranormal Activity is a thriller that utilizes a documentary style format. Some of the scenes seem to fade out at strange times which makes the film seem a little more unpredictable and real.
The new actress, Katie Featherston does a great job at playing the sweet and vulnerable college student who has had an evil entity following her most of her life. Micah Sloat does a very good job as well, as the inquisitive day-trader to whom Katie is “engaged to be engaged”. Micah has a child-like fascination with the paranormal and wants to get as much captured on film as possible.

It is obvious why this film had a low-budget, there is a total of eight actors in the original version and there are not a lot of big-budget special effects. The film does not need many special effects because it is all about the build up of suspense. All that happens the first night that Micah sets up the camera to document the paranormal occurrences is the movement of a door and from the on the paranormal encounters get more intense. The director, Oren Peli, seems to believe in the idea that less is more.

Katie and Micah invite a psychic into their house who tells them that it is likely that the paranormal presence that followed Katie from her old home is a demon. He warns the young couple that they must not react to the paranormal happenings, that the demon feeds on “negative energy”, and to not provoke the demon by using things such as Ouija boards. He warns that people have died from messing with demons. But of course, Micah continues to antagonize the demon and uses a Ouija board, to Katie’s dismay, which causes a “negative energy” between the two. It would not be a horror movie otherwise, would it?

This film had three different endings and if you do not want any of them to be ruined for you, you should stop reading this review now. In the ending that I saw, Katie gets out of bed and stares at Micah for hours before she goes downstairs. She begins to scream, waking Micah who goes to see what is going on. A struggle can be heard between Micah, Katie, and the evil presence. Katie, then walks back up to her room with a knife in her hand and blood on her shirt. She then rocks back and forth for days. Katie’s friend then comes and she can be heard screaming off camera. Its not clear if she was screaming because she found the remains of Micah or if it was because she was being attacked by the demon. Then the police arrives and find Katie who finally falls out of her trance and asks the police “Where’s Micah?” The police see the knife in her hand and shot her. As the credits roll the police can be heard as they discover the camera. In another ending, Katie throws Micah’s body at the camera and knocks it over after the struggle downstairs. She then sniffs Micah and attacks the camera while smiling eerily. The scene blacks out and the credits roll. In the third ending, Katie comes up stairs after the struggle and slits her throat in the view of the camera. After watching the ending that I did, I felt surprised and a little uneasy. In all of the endings the viewer is not let off the hook. Katie and Micah do not live happily ever after in any of the endings and the demon is still alive.

Fantastic Mr. Fox

The first thing you notice when watching this movie is the unique use of stop motion animation. The movement of the characters is kind of rocky but not in a distracting way. The jerky movement gives the film a feeling of something homemade and old time stop-motion animation.
I’d be interested to hear a child’s view on this movie because I feel it would be more enjoyable for an adult. This movie is about jealousy and a marriage in peril. Fantastic Mr. Fox seems to be just like any other Wes Anderson movie except for the fact that it revolves around talking animals, it utilizes stop-motion animation, and that swear words are replaced with the word “cuss”. The badger character seems fairly similar to the Kumar Pallana character that has appeared in almost every Wes Anderson movie. And, the scene in which Mr. Fox was debriefing his plan was reminiscent of Bottle Shock.
Fantastic Mr. Fox is quite funny and most of the humor comes from Mr. Fox’s partner in crime, Clive Badger. I found myself laughing out loud quite often throughout the film. I’m curious how children reacted to Wes Anderson’s sense of humor. Some of the jokes probably went over their heads.
The film stars many great voice actors such as George Clooney, Meryl Streep, Jason Swartzman, and Bill Murry. Wes Anderson actually had the actors leave the sound studio and act out their parts to give them a more real sound.
I would highly recommend this movie, it is simply enjoyable. It is humorous, and the colorful stop-motion animation is quite nice to look at.

V: Its Only The Beginning

This episode started with a lame cop-out. In the first scene we are led to believe that Ryan is shooting at Erica, but it turns out he was shooting the V that the anti-V team wanted to expose. They find out that this man, named Peter Combs was attached to Lyndhurst shipping, so they go investigate. They find that Lyndhurst is shipping out the flu vaccine the next day and that it contains something called R6. R6 doesn’t look like something that agrees well with the human body based on the two bodies we see that were experimented on. Those Vs are tricky. they are trying to cause people to lose faith in human medicine and to turn to their own.

Tyler is sad that his mommy won’t pay attention to him so he goes to the psychiatrist, who turns out to be John’s wife. Maybe in the future Erica will learn about her son’s involvement in the V ambassadors program through John’s wife or through John through John’s wife. Anyway, Tyler pulls some strings for John’s wife so that the Vs cure her and tell her that she’s got a baby in the tummy oven. The Vs also tell Chad that he is going to have a brain aneurysm that they can fix for him. This seems to be very convenient for the Vs. The only media source covering the Vs in America is going to be saved by the Vs.

On the V-ship, Ana finds out that Dale was murdered and she is determined to make an example of his killer. She puts Joshua in charge of finding out whodunit which is ironic since hedunit. His partner V-traitor takes the blame and Joshua must “skin him”. Which he does.

Tyler takes a trip to the V-ship where he meets Laura’s (Laura is hot V girl’s name) mom (Laura’s mom is Ana). Ana shows Tyler the engine room because he likes motorcycles and motorcycles have engines. After their little talk, Ana confirms that Tyler is “the one”. Ana finds out that the vaccinations were blown up by members of the fifth column and that people know about it. She then initiates “the bliss”. Which turns out to be some kind of feelings that are transmitted from Ana to the other Vs on a spiritual level to give them comfort. That was kind of trippy. I am almost one hundred percent sure that the song playing in this scene was a Sigur Ros song*  but I don’t know which one.

After the bliss, Ana tells Laura and Tyler that what they have seen “is only the beginning”. We then travel through space and see that there is a large fleet of V-ships waiting and slowly heading to Earth because they probably want to kill all of the human beings on Earth or something like that. But we won’t know for a very very long time because V is taking a long break and it won’t be back on until March, which is unfortunate because it has already proven to me in only four episodes that it is way better then Flashforward and that it could be a pretty high quality show.

*Update: It is a Sigur Ros song called “Svefn-g-englar”

Animal Collective: Fall Be Kind

I am a big Animal Collective fan. Every one of their songs are so different from one another and from anything I have ever heard. For the past nine years they have come out with a new album almost every year and they have all been pretty much amazing. Their new EP, released today is no exception. The songs on this EP seem to have a bit of a darker feel and the vocals seem to be more clear as well.
The first song is called “Graze”. It begins as what sounds to be a slow, psychedelic chant and slowly morphs into a jumpy pan-flute jam. Line that got stuck in my head: “Why do you have to go, why do you have to go?”
The second song is “What Would I Want? Sky” Which is the first song to have a licenced Grateful Dead sample which runs through out the whole song. Line that got stuck in my head: “What would I want? Sky”
If I had to pick my least favorite song on this EP it would be really hard, but I think I would say it was “Bleeding”. The first couple seconds begin with a deep mechanical sounding voice and then the rest of the song is like a slow-placed poem reading. That makes it sound lame, but its not. Lines that got stuck in my head: “I’ve feel, shameful, that I must bleed”
“Bleeding” is followed by “On a Highway” The way the lyrics of this song are constructed makes me think of when I had to write Haiku’s in middle school. Line that got stuck in my head: “I can’t wait to find home”
The final song may be my favorite of the EP. Its called “I Think I Can”. It begins with a dark and extra-terrestrial feel. It sounds like some kind of spaceship is taking off. Then a bounce beat that sounds like someone beating plastic tubing comes in and changes the mood up. I just love all of the different rhythmic patterns of the vocals in this song. Line that got stuck in my head: “I think I can, I think I can, I think I-“
I know I will be listening over and over for at least the next week. I hope that Animal Collective keeps churning out awesome new songs. Hopefully they will have a new album early next year.

Fringe: August

“August” was one of those episodes of Fringe that was based on the mythology of the show, of which I am a fan. We learned a lot about the omnipresent observer, the first of which was that there are multiple observers. If what the scientist at Massive Dynamics said was true, then the observers experience all time simultaneously and that is how they know what the main character of Fringe perceive to be the future. In this episode one of the observers named August decides to become a “do-er”. Observers are just supposed to observe things as they happen. August decides to kidnap a girl, in turn saving her life from a future plane crash. The other observers don’t like this so they send their private assassin, Donald to course correct time. Maybe the observers are the Eloise Hawkings of Fringe. What I mean by that, for those of you that aren’t too familiar with Lost (The final season premieres February 2nd at 9pm! It’s gonna be on Tuesday’s this year! at 9! Yaaaay!), maybe the observers are observing to make sure that what happened before will happen again and that nobody screws up the timeline.
The shootdown scene at the end was pretty intense. August’s gun was crazy. I was surprised that August was still alive when after that fight. August was picked up by the first observer and we find out that he may be the first observer to have feelings or to love someone. The other observer said that the girl he had feelings for will be safe know because August made her important. The he says “She is responsible for the death of one of us.” I think he is referring to Donald, the assassin here. I really liked this scene.
The final scene was great too as the the observers watch Olivia and her niece having a good time on a wooden roller coaster and speak about her rapidly approaching problems, which I can’t wait to see.

Flashforward: Believe

This was the definitely one of the best episodes of Flashforward so far, however it still wasn’t great. I immediately liked the the new character, Keiko. She is venerable, sweet, driven, and a big Jimi Hendrix fan. I found out in this episode that Bryce is one of the best characters in this show and I cared most about his story than anything else going on in this episode.

I found the ring identification thing using the video to be kind of unbelievable, but I don’t know, I guess we might have technology advanced enough to do that. Anyway, they found that the ring had the Greek letter alpha which usually symbolizes the beginning of something since, I’m sure you know, it is the first letter of the Greek alphabet. Another symbol that was in last night’s episode was the wheel that Keiko had on her shirt and that Bryce painted. The wheel is sometimes used as a symbol in Asian cultures to represent the wheel of Buddha. The wheel of Buddha represents Buddha’s teachings and laws. The movement of the wheel can represent rapid spiritual change. I feel that this could be symbolizing when Bryce drastically changed his view of life after seeing his flashforward.

I thought that the scene in which Bryce was listening to a woman on his computer translating the phrases “How are you feeling?” and “I hope you are feeling well,” as he vomits into his toilet to be kind of funny. I found that it was obvious that Bryce and Neiko’s flashforward would still happen after Bryce left Japan, but the scene was still satisfying. I found this episode to be an improvement, let’s just hope the improvement continues.

V: A Bright New Day

I found this episode to be pretty good. If you think about it quite a few things happened in this episode. It was better then the last episode. Early on in the episode Ryan and Georgie meet up and have a little chat. They start talking about getting people for a rebellion and they talk about this guy named John May. He was the guy that started the first rebellion against the V’s and he was mentioned a couple more times in this episode, so he’ll probably be an important character. Later on, Ryan goes to recruit his buddy Cyrus who left him a note in his house and Cyrus tries to kill him. Cyrus says the V’s were going to “reconnect” him. What does that mean exactly? Reconnect him to what? Does that just mean they would accept him and reintegrate him back into life with them? Well, then Cyrus asks Ryan if he misses “the bliss”. What is “the bliss” is it a feeling or is it a drug. Ryan’s response was that “the bliss” was how Anna controlled them and they were “Just like junkies, man.” So maybe when the V’s are “connected” they get doses of “the bliss” and this is how Anna controls them.

While Ryan is doing that, Erica saves Anna’s second-hand lizard-man after someone else gets shot first. That was actually kind of an intense scene. We later find out that the killer was actually a V sent by Anna to gain more trust from the humans. Tricky. Tricky. Then the V’s take the killer and we know why know. Erica goes into a secret room with all of these live video feeds and then she sees herself in one of them and moves her hand to cover up what was filming her and its a V-suit. The V-suits have cameras built into them. Then Juliet, I mean, Erica leaves the room and just misses seeing her son looking in a mirror with a hot V-girl. Oh man, so close! She goes home and sees her son and he has company. Company is hot V girl who got to try the yummy pizza that Tyler told her about, because of her Visitor passport. When Erica opens the door she sees hot V girl in her underwear so she doesn’t know she is a V. I though that Elizabeth Mitchell was really funny in this scene. When Erica left, hot V girl said “I thought this would be better than your mom seeing me in my uniform.” And all the guys are like “Yeah. It would be better.”

Then there’s the whole thing with the angry widow of a pilot killed in the arrival of the V’s. Her name was Mary Faulkner. There was a good scene where Anna was preparing to meet Mary and practicing showing empathy. Then, Anna and Mary met secretly. We didn’t see what happened in that meeting, but whatever was discussed made Mary change her mind. Maybe Anna didn’t change Mary’s mind maybe the real Mary was tied up and a fake V Mary gave the speech or maybe she was threatened or bribed. Something seems suspicious though about what happened there.

While this was going on, a new V named Joshua was helping Dale get his memory back and Dale kept giving extremely serious looks that I thought were silly looking. Once Dale got his memory back Dale is like “I have to go find Erica and kill her!” and then Joshua is like “Nope, I’m gonna inject you with something and then I am going to go find Erica and make her be me ally.”

While Ryan and Erica were doing all that stuff and all that other stuff was happening, Father Jack was trying to find a suspect named George Sutton, who we know better as Georgie. He goes to his old house where he learns from the current resident that Georgie’s family was killed by the V’s and that he is crazy. Then Jack brings Erica and meets Georgie who brings Ryan and then everyone’s together for the first time.

Other Things that happened: Ana’s V friend goes to find Cyrus and finds only dust and “John May Lives” written on the door. And he says “There will be no peace.” which sounds a little different than “We come in peace….Always.” In the last scene we find out that Ana is hot V girl’s mama. We also find out that Tyler is “the one” whatever that means.

This was the best episode yet, except for maybe the pilot, which doesn’t mean much because there was only one other episode. However, what I’m trying to say is that it was good. Only one more episode before a long V break 😦 .

Flashforward: Playing Cards With Coyote

I felt that the quality of the first couple episodes were low, but the last few have been getting better. There have been less lame joke attempts but it still feels a little like a fancy FBI and medical drama. It seems like they keep going after clues from Mark’s flashback and none of it is paying off too much. Flashforward usually seems to do a good job with the first and last scene. I was interested in the stuff that happens between those scenes in this episode, though. I was interested in the relationship between Dominic Monaghan’s character, Simon and Lloyd. Also, the idea of a mole in the FBI is kind of interesting, I don’t know who it could be.
I found the acting in the scene between Aaron and his daughter, Tracy to be less then superb. The guy that plays Aaron (Brian O’Byrne) always speaks with a calm voice with some strange accent. And I don’t feel that the way Genevieve Cortese portrays Tracy’s recollection of what happened to her the right way. I feel that that memory would cause more fear then anger for Tracy.

Random Thought
I like how Janis was looking up “sperm donation” on wikipedia, like she didn’t know what it was or something. I think the writers wanted to show that she wants her flashforward to happen and that she believes it could, but I think that’s a funny way to do it.

The Big Reveal
The big reveal was that it is possible for more then one person on the planet to have the same tattoo, but everyone knows that, so big whoop. Sometimes when rings are made other rings like them are made as well. I guess that was more interesting. And then there was that fat guy that spoke like an English professor and who was some kind of a BA kingpen or something. For some reason that scene did not seem shocking to me. It could have been because of bad acting.

I do feel that this show is getting better but there is still a lot of room for improvement, hopefully next week’s episode will be better.

Fringe: Of Human Action

Watch Fringe!
Fringe has not been getting too many viewers recently. If you don’t watch Fringe, you should. Fringe is one of the best shows on primetime tv right now. At first I was upset with the somewhat formulaic quality of the show. Now, however I think of it as a modern day Twilight Zone. The things that the characters have to deal with are very interesting and even though they can be somewhat unbelievable, Walter Bishop’s explanations have enough real science to convince you to feel that crazy things like mind control and alternate realities can exist. The show is meant to be friendly to the casual viewer and I feel that each episode has just enough of the backstory to satisfy the hardcore fans of the show. I do usually find the episodes that focus more on the mythology better, though.
Anyway, enough proselytizing, onto my review. In the first couple episodes of Fringe I found Dr Walter Bishop’s portrayal of the crazy, mad scientist to be stereotypical. Now, I find his character to be quite funny sometimes. I physically laughed when he was instructing the FBI in regards to the anti-mind control, white sound emitting headphones. And only on Fringe can you find two people discussing the taste of someone brain will removing it and listening to elevator music.

Mind Bend
I liked the twist that Tyler was actually the one with mind control. Another big surprise came at the end. Massive Dynamic has been the root of many problems on this show. I am very curious about what their motives are. Now we know they were cloning a fifteen year old to experiment on. Why do Nina Sharp and William Bell want to know if mind control is possible? Do they want to use it as a tool against the war that they are always talking about, or is that a lie? I don’t know, but I want too.

Hidden Things
In last night’s episode there were a couple little hidden things. First of all, the Homer pez container Tyler used to keep his mind control drugs and the name of the place where Tyler’s surogate mother lived (Springfield) were shout outs to The Simpsons for the Fox Simpson Scavenger Hunt contest thing. Also, there was a Slusho machine in the convenience store that was held up. Slusho is a fictional brand of frozen drink that has appeared in the other J. J. Abrams show, Alias. This Slusho website was also used in the viral marketing campaign for Cloverfield. The Observer was pretty well hidden in this episode. He was briefly in the foreground at the beginning of the episode at about the 48 second mark when the police car is drifting. Speaking of the Observer, and judging by the promo after the episode, it looks we will learn a lot more about him in the next episode, which I am looking forward to.

Catch Up! : The United States of Tara

I recently started to watch a showtime show called The United States of Tara on demand. Its a dramady about a family that has some problems. The mother of the family is Tara and she has a dissociative identity disorder. She has four different “alters” that she becomes usually due to having to deal with stress. One of her alters is named T and she is a 16 year old girl. Buck is a loud and profane southern man and Alice is a Stepford wife. Her last personality is like a personification of pure id. For those who haven’t takes psychology, the id is the primal part of the unconscious mind that seeks only pleasure and avoids punishment.
The show is about how Tara, her husband, her daughter, and her son are affected by this disorder. Toni Collette does a great job at playing Tara and all of her personalities. She won an Emmy for her portrayal of Tara this year and the show has been renewed for a second season which will start January 18th. So, if you get bored and you have showtime on demand, you can watch the United States of Tara.

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