Michael Cavacini

An award-winning arts and culture blog.

Archive for the tag “Movies”

My Favorite Horror Movies

new-nightmareWith Halloween upon us, I want to share with you my favorite horror movies. There are many horror films I love, but these are the cream of the crop. Happy Halloween!

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Must-See Movies: Fall 2013

The last three movies I saw were excellent, and I highly recommend you check them out:

About Time

About Time

I just saw About Time and it greatly exceeded my expectations. While the premise of a romantic movie built around time travel sounded absurd, I decided to give in to my girlfriend’s recommendation and see the film. I’m glad I did because it was one of the most emotionally moving films I’ve ever seen. The acting was top-notch across the board, the chemistry between the characters was believable – especially between Domhnall Gleeson and Bill Nighy – and the dialogue was charmingly engaging. While one scene at the end of the film had me in tears, there were many portions of the movie that had me laughing hard. It was a nice balance of drama and levity, and the spectacular soundtrack did a terrific job of complimenting and enhancing the scenes. I can’t recommend About Time enough – go see it, now.

Captain Phillips

Captain Phillips 

Prior to this movie, I couldn’t remember the last time Tom Hanks had a great dramatic leading role. I’m glad to report that he reclaimed his throne as arguably the best A-list dramatic actor of his generation with Captain Phillips. While watching this film, I kept thinking to myself I can’t believe this happened in real life. The story played out like a tightly-wound thriller and Hanks’ perfect portrayal of the Captain kept my rapt attention from start to finish. What impressed me most was the last scene where Hanks’ character is recovering from the trauma of the incident; the whirlwind of emotions contained within the character shone through Hanks’ superb body language. While good actors can deliver lines to paint a picture, excellent ones like Hanks can say a million words without speaking a single syllable. I was so moved by this scene that I had to fight back tears. This film restored my faith in Tom Hanks’ ability to be an Oscar-worthy leading actor and it’s one of the best movies this year.

Gravity

Gravity

Gravity seems to be a polarizing film. Some people love it, while others hate it. I saw it in 3-D and thought it was one of the most visually impressive movies I’ve ever seen. Going into it, I thought that George Clooney was going to be the star, but I was delightfully surprised by what turned out to be a career-defining role for Sandra Bullock; her excellent acting and Alfonso Cuarón’s deft directing made me feel as if I were her character – struggling to live. This movie was full of tension and suspense and, by the end, I was exhausted…in a good way. Gravity is an emotional tour de force that everyone should experience on the big screen in 3-D. See it now before it’s too late.

Blu-ray Sale: A Nightmare on Elm Street Collection

A Nightmare on Elm Street Blu-rayThis week only, Amazon.com has the A Nightmare on Elm Street Collection Blu-ray box set on sale for $25.99 – that’s nearly 60% off the full retail price. For horror fans that don’t own all the Freddy films in high-definition, this is an excellent deal you should check out. You can buy it here: http://tinyurl.com/myhytuw.

50 Years Of James Bond: The Movie

James Bond 50th AnniversaryI recently discovered a great James Bond video on YouTube that I had to share with you. Below is the official description and the video. Enjoy!

Approximately five minutes from each of the 22 Eon produced James Bond films have been cut together, in order and in sequence, beginning with the first five minutes of DR. NO (1962) followed by minutes 5-10 of FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE (1963), minutes 10-15 of Goldfinger (1964), minutes 15-20 of Thunderball (1965), continuing on through each of the remaining 18 Bond features (accounting for variables in each title’s running time) culminating with the final five minutes of 2008’s Quantum of Solace.

This fresh look at the “James Bond Formula” provides a new exploration of the evolution of the series into a filmmaking genre uniquely its own. With few exceptions, each title’s transition into the picture that follows it is nearly seamless, creating a viewing experience that at first might serve to remind us “if you’ve seen one Bond film, you’ve seen them all,” but looking more closely it is in fact an endearing homage to a character who single-handedly shaped modern cinema’s action/adventure formula and who continues to leave an indelible mark on generations worldwide.

Movie Review – The Expendables 2

The Expendables 2I finally got around to watching The Expendables 2 and it was great. Like its predecessor, it was a balls-to-the-wall action movie that featured a ton of gunfire, explosions and humorous one-liners. Speaking of which, I really enjoyed the references the characters made to some of the real-life stars’ iconic films, such as The Terminator and Rambo. The acting, while not Oscar-worthy, was appropriate for the subject matter, and I loved Chuck Norris’ role in the movie – especially when he dished out a line that could have easily been one of the endless “facts” people tell about him. Jean-Claude Van Damme was a terrific villain, and his showdown at the end with Stallone was awesome. The Expendables 2 was a non-stop action movie I enjoyed just as much as the original, and I highly recommend you check it out.

One Year Later

One Year LaterOne year ago, this week, I launched my blog. I never thought I’d start one for a variety of reasons, but the past year has been quite a trip. During that time the following things happened:

The second year for my blog is shaping up to be an exciting one. This week, I’m heading to ThrillerFest and will be sharing with you all the wonderful content that will invariably come out of the event. And I’ve got a couple exciting author interviews lined up for later this year. Speaking of which, my first self-published book should be out before year’s end – so stayed tuned for more details.

Thank you for following my blog, as well as liking, sharing and commenting on my posts. Your voice and input is what matters most, and I hope to keep you entertained for many years to come.

Vic De Leon’s Top 5 Wes Craven Movies

Top-5My friend, follower and fellow blogger, Vic De Leon, has returned for another guest blog post. This time, he’s going to share with us his Top 5 Wes Craven movies. I hope you enjoy the post, and make sure to check out his blog, Vic’s Movie Den, for more great content about movies – including my Top 5 Wes Craven movies.

Top 5 Wes Craven Movies

By Victor De Leon

Director and Writer Wes Craven is one of those few film-makers who has become a household name by establishing that he is capable of setting the bar, setting trends and re-inventing the horror genre more than once while remaining fresh and original. Craven for many years has challenged his audiences as well as frightening them and maintaining a high standard of craftsmanship. With an impeccable eye for composition and a keen knowledge of writing and structure, Craven has remained true to the genre and to his adored fans. Craven is a jack of all trades. He has written, shot, edited and even starred in his films. He has shown that he can never get stuck for too long and he embraces new innovations, new ideas and continues to be an exemplary artist of the moving image.

His movies and images have provoked fear, wonder and amazement and he has created some enduring characters and moments that will always be etched in the minds of horror genre junkies young and old. From Freddy Krueger to Horace Pinker, Craven leaves no stone un-turned when exploring the dynamics and complexities of the classic horror antagonist. With “Scream” he once again redefined himself and created the “Meta Horror” genre with a franchise that has spawned 3 sequels and has a TV show in development.

For my fellow blogger, Michael Cavacini I have compiled my Top 5 favorite Wes Craven films. I thank him very much for once again letting me grace his fine site with one of my Top 5 lists. I hope you all enjoy!

– Vic @Vic’s Movie Den

5) New Nightmare

A perfect example of Craven re-inventing himself by taking on his Nightmare franchise in an original, brutal and menacing way. Here, Craven relies on his “Meta” horror tactic and thinks outside the box with a story re-uniting the cast of the first Nightmare on Elm Street entry. New Nightmare is fresh and consistently scary which is something previous efforts lacked. Solid acting, directing, true mood and style makes this an obvious choice for my top 5.

4) The Hills Have Eyes

A outrageous and depraved story marks this early work of Craven’s. This film is perhaps the template for the slew of survivalist horror movies that came after it. Craven succeeds in weaving a true to life and gritty piece of  demented cinema. A strong effort that disturbs, excites and pushes the envelope. Along with Hooper’s “Chainsaw” this 70’s Craven film is timeless and endures in a stark and disturbing way.

3) The Serpent and the Rainbow

This film based on the novel by botanist and scientist Wade Davis is an underdog film entry from Wes Craven. The film stars Bill Pullman in a very difficult role as a Davis like character that has to investigate, for a Drug Company, claims of people returning back to life in Haiti. Actually believing that a powder like substance may be involved, Pullman’s character finds out that more menacing supernatural forces may be at work. Creepy, spooky and nightmarish, Craven revels in keeping his viewers on edge and second guessing what they are watching unfold. A solid performance from Pullman, strong direction and the beautiful locale serves up a very watchable and scary voodoo thriller which explores themes from taboos to political strife. Very recommended.

2) Scream

Hip, stylish and a game changer, Scream remains Craven’s most extraordinary “Meta” effort. A young and handsome cast help to propel the story. Kevin Williamson pens a terrific creep-fest that Craven respects and excels in translating to the screen in an exceptional manner that re-invents the slasher film. A tremendous horror film on many levels, “Scream” remains hip and relevant to this day. A horror film about kids obsessed with horror films. Just brilliant. The film also references many horror movies from John Carpenter’s Halloween to The Howling from Joe Dante.

1) A Nightmare on Elm Street

Original, very scary and beautifully scored and photographed, A Nightmare on Elm Street is Wes Craven’s magnum opus. Craven sets the bar extremely high and with his cast, which includes a young Johnny Deep to the seasoned John Saxon are all amazing  to watch here. Robert Englund as Freddy Krueger is flawlessly horrific and menacing. He IS the bad guy. The film has an almost palpable atmosphere of dread and fear. It is a film that Craven utilizes to provoke a fear of the dark and our own dreams. A film where no one is safe, not even from their slumber. It is a movie which is a fable of the darkest elements and the unease is prevalent from the first to the last nightmarish frame. Craven has created an enduring and legendary picture with both a  great antagonist and protagonist in the character of Nancy played with eager professionalism by Heather Langenkamp. Beautifully unnerving and technically brilliant, A Nightmare on Elm Street is my favorite Wes Craven film. Highly recommended!

Movie Review: Signs

In 2002, M. Night Shyamalan released one of my all-time favorite films: Signs. While the premise – aliens invading Earth and using crop circles for navigation purposes – sounds uninspired, at the heart of the film you’ll find a story about a man questioning his faith. It dealt with love, loss, family, and resolution, and it did so beautifully. The entire cast did a fantastic job, but Mel Gibson stole the show; his ability to convey emotion without uttering a word is marvelous. The script was suspenseful and well written, and the score, composed by James Newton Howard, was breathtaking.

What are your thoughts on Signs? Did you love it, hate it or feel indifferent about it? Feel free to share your opinion in the comments section.

Below you’ll find my favorite scene from the film as well as the official trailer.

Video Review: Amazon Kindle Fire HD

I’ve had the Kindle Fire HD for a little over a week, so I thought I’d create a video review – my first ever – so you can learn more about this device and its capabilities. Below, you’ll also find a video further explaining “Whispersync for Voice,” a new feature I love. Enjoy!

Monster-Mania: A Horror Fan’s Dream

Me being attacked by Freddy & Jason.

For nearly 10 years, Dave Hagan has been hosting a semi-annual horror film and memorabilia convention in Cherry Hill, NJ and Hunt Valley, MD. It’s called Monster-Mania, and yesterday was my first time attending. I met Doug Bradley, Nancy Allen, Claire Higgins, and Craig Sheffer, among others. I even ran into Freddy and Jason. In addition to meeting horror icons and getting autographs, I got to enjoy horror films I’d never seen before: Dressed to Kill, Night of the Living Dead and Nightbreed: The Cabal Cut. Needless to say, I had a blast and plan on attending future shows. Below are additional photos from my fabulous time at this stellar convention.

Me and the lovely Nancy Allen, whose starred in such films as Robocop, Dressed to Kill, Carrie, and Blow Out.

Meeting my favorite star from Hellraiser, Claire Higgins (Julia). She’s a tremendous actress and has a delightful personality too.

Meeting the incomparable Doug Bradley, best known for his role as Pinhead in the Hellraiser franchise.

Hanging out with Craig Sheffer following a screening of Nightbreed: The Cabal Cut.

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