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Okay so life has been stomping me in the ribs for the last 3 weeks or so but I’ve almost won. Sadly this means that I haven’t watched a movie in nearly a month. I’m pissed.  I feel like I’ve missed out on a lot but at the same time not really. 

For the sake of my own memory I want to jot down a few of the films I want to see/am looking forward to in the coming weeks.

Cedar Rapids

The Adjustment Burrow

Drive Angry (YES it is terrible but I want to watch a really terrible movie)

Sucker Punch

Battle: Los Angeles

Limitless

Sadly after these gut reactions the want really drops off.  At least until we get well on our way toward May and the summer blockbuster season.  I still have a wealth of films to catch up on from oscar season.  Until my life opens up a little I feel that there is little need to sweep the cutting room floor.

I’m Damon Taylor and that is the final cut. 

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A combination of the 2 most patriotic movies of the last 10 years.  This trailer practically bleeds American flags! (NSFW Language) 

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What I Watched:

Zombie Nightmare: Or rather I watched Mystery Science Theater watch Zombie Nightmare.  Pure ridiculous 80’s fair. I have seen a few no budget movies that put this one to shame.  Its poor quality would almost be excusable, until Adam West shows up.  Yes the Adam West, Mayor of Quahog.  An interesting twist at the close but just plain awful.  Which made the movie such a wonderful experience when shared with the MST3000 crowd. 

Fight Club:  Caught this one on TNT Saturday night.  Phenomenal movie that losses a lot of presence on basic cable.  The TV edits are too numerous too often to be ignored.  Every time the volume drops out or the cut through a scene the rhythm gets thrown off a beat.  A rather jarring experience better viewed on DVD.

History of the World Part 1:  I am a long time Mel Brooks fan, shared this one with some friends who are more unfamiliar with the Brook-ian sense of humor.  They were a bit a cold at first but the timeless humor won out in the end.  A film that relies on a good grasp of both world and film history, but the gags win you over overtime. 

Accepted:  Always a great viewing, but it so often brings up the question why these teen coming of age films stick to the 9 month period encompassing senior graduation and the first month or so at college. I’ll admit it is a dynamic part of a person’s life but there is still another 4 years of college and any number of comedic situations to be had during early adulthood. I digress, a great viewing, Jonah Hill and Justin Long are a great duo and the supporting cast has a number of great turns throughout. 

News:

Just the briefs (expect more in future weeks)

Bilbo and the boys are on set waiting on Peter Jackson to recover from surgery before starting The Hobbit. 

Again this is new expect more in the future.

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If you have not yet noticed I haven’t made a post in quite some time.  The reason for this is, the theaters a veritable wasteland right now and I’ve been buried under a foot of snow for the last 7 days. The remainder of my must sees from Oscar season are just finishing their runs in the theater and we’re settling in for the first batch of warm excrement that Hollywood has chosen to provide us for 2011. 

Now bare with me, I feel that there are some strong comedies coming out in late February/early March. Keep you eyes open for Cedar Rapids.  Still the bulk of 2011 is ahead of us.  

We just got our first peak at many of the top summer blockbusters last weekend during the Super Bowl. Trailers for Captain America, Thor, Cowboys and Aliens, Super 8, Pirates of the Caribbean 4, and Transformers 3 all showed during the commercial breaks, offering a breakdown of the summer line up.  While it is still to be seen what will come of the films of 2011 we were given reasons to celebrate and to worry during those short 30 second clips.  While films like Thor and Captain America offered us peeks at what they hold in terms of story and content, Michael Bay provided a nearly unidentifiable 30 second clip of what could only be assumed were Transformers exploding all over some over dramatized story which has nothing to do with the aforementioned robot death battles which will serve to confuse and disorientate the audiences as they experience what can only be compared to a veritable street mugging. Still I don’t doubt that I will be drug out to the theaters to see what is sure to be another complete $#@% show, and I will hate Michael Bay for it.

I have great hopes for the other films coming out this year.  Of the other Super Bowl previews, Super 8 looks like Spielberg’s beard was working the camera alongside J.J. Abrams.  Pirates 4 looks like a little bit different of a lot of the same, and I feel that people are generally under cutting Jon Favreau, Director of Iron Man 1 & 2, creating a movie where James Bond and Han Solo fight aliens! But I digress. All in all summer 2011 is looking to be par for the course as far as summer movies go.  Unfortunately we have a long dry season until that time arrives.  We shall wait and see.  I’m Damon Taylor and that is the final cut.

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When I first saw the announcement of the new Batman villains for Nolan’s third installment in his Batman series I felt a little let down. Below you will find my explanation for my feelings of the choice of characters. I would like to state right now that I feel that Tom Hardy and Anne Hathaway will provide stellar performances and that the sequel will no doubt be a success. My concerns are that the choice of characters will not be able to provide the kind of story and impact that it will take to fit cohesively into the universe that Nolan has presented up to this point.

I like Bane but I just don’t feel like he fits into the way Nolan has been working the films up to this point. My dream pick would have been the Riddler, but Nolan squashed that about 6 months ago. I know they want to have an opponent that could show off Batman’s fighting abilities to his full potential. Like I said. Not disappointed just a little let down. I was hoping for another psychological combatant that made Batman utilize his full detective capabilities. 

It just seems a little weak when compared to the villains of the previous films. 

Batman Begins - Ra’s As Gul: Leader of a clandestine organization that was plotting the destruction and extermination of the population of Gotham city in one single violent act. 

Scarecrow: Demented psychologist who uses the criminally insane and unfortunately in the way as guinea pigs for his twisted experiments which exploit their greatest fears.

The Dark Knight - Joker: Domestic terrorist who pushed the city to the point of breaking. Dissolving the structure of the organized crime syndicates, Killing public officials and civil servants, and blowing up a hospital. 

Two-Face: The most visible of the 5 people who trusted Batman personally with the safety of both Gotham City and their own personal loved ones who blames the city he was once sworn to protect for the destruction of his life and the death of the woman he loved who sets out on a vendetta which resulted in a body count which sits neatly in second place in the Nolan trilogy which is no small feat given that he doesn’t begin his killing spree until well into the third act. The fallen hero finally dies as the film closes allowing his reputation to remained untarnished as his fall from grace and his blood lust die with him.

The Dark Knight Rises (shitty title) - Cat-Woman: Batman’s greatest love. A conflicted individual who holds a special place in Batman mythology but often never acts as anything more than an agent of chaos and a challenge to Batman’s ethics. She rarely takes on any murderous intent and typically regulates her actions to self-serving crimes of playful interest. A head liner, Unfortunately no, She cannot carry the show the way the crimes of Ra’s as Gul or Joker dominated the story of the previous films. Though I feel that she could be an excellent element to compliment and complicate the conflict with another villain, perhaps a more domineering individuals whose aspirations would carry a more malicious intent. 

Bane: Ok, So I just read up a bit and he is a bit more master-mindish than I first gave him credit. Blame Joel Schumaker. I believed Bane to be a mindless steroid abusing luchador who only garnered any fame by breaking Batman’s back and causing him to step down from his role as the caped crusader. I now understand that Bane is crazy as an outdoor hockey game in july. Born in a Caribbean prison he was raised around convicts and serial killers. He manages to establish himself as the king of this back water prison. Only to escape track down Batman and make his life shit for like six months before Batman beats him and sends him off to prison by kinking the hose he keeps loosely sitting upon his head instead of secured tightly under his mask so his opponent could maybe not catch on right away.

Really with Batman’s close friends dwindling quickly and no sign of Nolan incorporating a Robin character into the mix, I cannot look at this film with the similar weight that the previous films carry. It will take a lot of convincing but I’m sure Nolan will surprise me. I am also put a bit more at ease knowing that Tom Hardy (i.e. the best part of Inception, tied with Joseph Gordon Levitt* mackin’ on Juno and displaying why he’s a total badass who can beat your ass while the world is literally turned on it’s side.) is taking the role. I think that each of these actors will bring great performances in an excellent film but I just feel that these characters and any combination of a story revolving around them will not offer the same sense of catastrophe Batman fought to avoid in the previous two films, barring any ridiculous Adam West Era plots. 

I’m Damon Taylor and this is not the final cut. Check The Cutting Room Floor Journals later this week for my full thoughts on these announcements and what it means for Nolan’s Batman.

*The greatest Riddle(r) is will always be what could have been.

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Ok so I’m two weeks late and $30 short but I want to give my quick picks of the top films I saw in 2010.  I want to emphasize that these are not the best films that came out this year and they are only limited to the films that I actually saw this year.   I want to stay away from numbers because there were too many films that I did not want to exclude because they were simply too excellent to miss out.

First! The most over looked. 

Catfish – Is a simple story of boy meets girl and girl has something she wants to hide. This eerie mystery, maybe faux documentary takes viewers to places that will make you question today’s electronic community and the relationships we foster through our modern means of communication. 

The only good horror movies I saw this year:

Daybreakers – This film successfully reminded audiences what vampires are truly like.  An excellent mesh of mystery, action, suspense and horror with a nifty twist thrown in which lead up to an excellent display of true monster movie gore.

Splice - It was weird, it was scary and it was overlooked.  Too often science fiction films play up the soft science to explain the outrageous liberties the film takes with reality. Splice kept it simple and very rarely strayed into the realm of disbelief. In fact it is the possibility of these events that make it all the more bone chilling in the end.

The only (2) good comedies I saw this year:

Dinner for Schmucks - The comedies this year were all about chemistry which was apparent between Paul Rudd and Steve Carell from their first scene together. Combined with an amazing supporting cast, The Flight of the Concords; Jermaine steals the whole show out from under the front men.  A little dumb at times but the more subtle dialog is where the real humor shines through. 

Due Date – I was rolling in the isles.  Robert Downey Jr. and Zach Galifianakis display a chemistry that was somehow both at times awkward and touching.  Over looked because it “wasn’t the Hangover” but worth the viewing because of a touching undertone that might be over looked if you do not put the right points together.

Explosions!: 

Repo Men – Yes there was a rock opera made three years ago that very few people saw they also made 4 movies about the bottom of the ocean in 1987. Repo Men when given the chance is sure to keep audiences cheering through intense fights and chases before it turns around to force you to squirm in your chair for the next 20 minutes. 

Kick-Ass – It was dark. It was bloody, and slightly immature but it did it better than anybody. A lot of audiences were lead astray by a misleading ad campaign but it can not be disputed that Hit Girl was the number one ass kicker in theaters this summer.

For the Kids:

Toy Story 3 – Movies rarely move me to tears. Independence Day is the only film that has ever made me cry in my seat.  Toy Story 3 pushed me to the edge of tears while dangling the remainder of my childhood on the end of a string.  With the entirety of Pixar’s filmmaking prowess standing behind it a generation was able to watch the door close on a very beloved franchise in the most fitting way possible.

How to Train Your Dragon – All childrens films and television programming should be held to this standard.  It is this kind of story telling which could seamlessly capture the admiration of kids and adults alike.

My Top Picks:

Scott Pilgrim vs. The World – The story rushes itself at times and the lead actors chemistry ebbs and flows throughout but the show is stolen by the supporting cast, Wallace Wells instantly wins a spot as one of the all time best characters in film.  The soundtrack fills you with the energy to take on the world and the films editing will leave you in awe.

The Social Network – I have never found 10 minutes of a man writing code so enthralling. Easily one of the best films of the year filled to the brim with amazing performances from start to finish.  The story behind the man who makes a million dollars every time you change you profile picture.  Also contains one of the best uses of special effects in 2010.

Black Swan – What more can I say. If you have not seen it yet go see it now. A master piece of filmmaking if there ever was one.  Expect Black Swan to walk away with all of the awards this year. They will have to make up more awards to just to give them to Black Swan.  The score alone is enough to keep the audience on the edge of their seats until the credits stop rolling.  If we remember one movie from this year it will be this film.

2010 was, in the eyes of many, a lack luster year at the movies but as you can see above there were plenty of gems out there worth seeing. There were many films I chose not to include for various reasons but each of these truly made a lasting impression on myself as film goer. Not every film was a classic but each one held its own charm in some way, still the best of the best will stay in our memories forever.   I still have many films to catch up on from this last year that slipped past me before the year was up.  I hope to stay current in 2011 a year I expect to hold more great films and a lot of shitty ones.  I’ll be here to help you wade through the crap. I am Damon Taylor and this is the final cut. 

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Forgive me for my delayed response. Last night I had the pleasure of viewing Black Swan. WOW. Just. WOW. 

In the world of film there are award caliber movies and then there a films that demolish audiences perceptions of what a film can be. Black Swan accomplished just that the other night. This was film making running on all cylinders. A veritable symphony of excellent filmmaking with Darren Aronofsky standing as the conductor of what will surely go down as the number one film of 2010, and I would be surprised if any film will be able to remove it from the top spot of the next decade (2010-2019).  I was left breathless for the last thirty minutes and sat in awe of what may have been the best film I have ever seen in a theater. 

I say all of these remarks full aware of the shroud that films tend to pull over my eyes following a fresh viewing, but sometimes you simply know. If you have not seen this film yet, GO! Go now and take your friends with you. 

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As we begin 2011 I would like to highlight the work of a person I have been following for quite sometime and his homage to the films of 2010. I present keesvdijkhuizen’s Cinema 2010. Please look him up on youtube and subscribe to his channel.

Source: youtube.com
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Welcome to “The Cutting Room Journals”, a forum for the appreciation of films of all types. Here I intend to offer; reviews of new releases, discussions of classic films, debate over hard hitting issues, and news concerning the latest updates in the films which are important to see.  Most of all I am here to celebrate film, and with that I give you my first article.

The year was 1990; the Berlin wall was down, war in the Middle East was still strictly a historical term and Director Ron Underwood was about to recreate an entire sub-genre of film. The “Creature Feature” is one of the oldest members of the horror genre, its roots stretching back to the films of Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi in the 1930’s. The term was coined in the 1960’s. Stations would broadcast films such as the Universal Horror series of the 1930’s, 1950’s science fiction pictures and imported Japanese monster films of the 1960’s on Friday and Saturday night as “Creature Feature Specials”. Together these collections of films laid the ground work for a whole sub-genre of horror where it was not maniacal plans of a mad man which would frighten the audience but rather the wrath of a corrupted mother nature lashing out against humanity with force that does not discriminate against who fell in the way of its path. 

Ron Underwood’s Tremors is possibly the best example of this genre to date. Which barring in mind the films present company in the genre is unfortunately a minor accomplishment. Before I continue I would like to define that the films which coined the term are each representations of their own genres which were collected for the creature feature specials of the 1970’s. Films like Tremors exist within their own circles and utilize conventions unlike the classic horror films which inspired their creation.  

Tremors is often remembered as simply another notch in Kevin Bacon’s cinematic bed post.  Though Bacon does provide an excellent performance and works flawlessly with the rest of the cast to provide both intense performances that make you feel for their characters while still injecting a sense of humor that films approaching this level of necessary suspension of disbelief. The combined acting chops of the cast are admirable but it is not the draw which brought audiences to see the film. the graboids are the archytype upon which all future creature feature monsters would be modeled after for years to come. They are grotesque, alien-like beings that strike fear into the audience from the first time we see one rear its head from the sand. The manner in which they claim their victims leaves the audience wary of walking on open ground. Though the film may seem a bit campy at times there will always be a thrill in watching the cast come together to defeat the infestation of monsters plaguing their town. 

The same tropes used in this film can be seen echoed throughout countless films in the horror genre but the thing that allows Tremors to be a success is its awareness of what it is. It doesn’t try to inject any subtext or preach about the mis-treatment of the environment as many modern creature features do. At its core it is a simple movie about some good ole’ boys fighting some monsters and doing it in as creative a way possible.  It is in the films comfort with itself that it was able to establish a dedicated following and edge out a spot as a cult classic. Everything about Tremors should be too ridiculous to work but it does because it is aware of what it is and handles its ambition in a way that so many films today could learn from.