Wednesday, January 28, 2015

REC 4: Apocalypse – review

REC 4: Apocalypse follows the events that occurred at the end of the second film. Considered the final film of the franchise, REC 4 tries to wrap up the story of Angela Vidal. The acting is decent and the effects are gory and fun. The setting of a huge, old boat is a great change because, like most bottle movies, it creates a sense of claustrophobia and unease.

Angela Vidal, played by Manuela Velasco, is found in the apartment building that was quarantined in the first two films. A few soldiers rescue her before the building is blown up. She wakes up in a lab onboard a large boat. She and the soldiers that saved her are trying to find out what occurred and make sure that the sickness doesn’t spread any further. 

There are several references to the previous films, which is great for fans of the series. An old woman from the wedding in the third film is staying aboard the boat as well. As for how this expands the entire REC storyline, it felt like it created more questions than answers. For example, the first movie showed that the disease was found as the source for demonic possession. The second establishes that these creatures can be attacked by holy symbols. The third showed how the infected had reflections that were demonic. This film talks about how the disease is a parasite but that is about it.

The acting is good and the action is a lot of fun. It is not often you can watch a guy killing groups of rage zombies and monkeys with a boat motor.  It is a silly movie but it is also fun. It at least brings back the character of Angela so we can see what became of her and what her fate inevitably will be.  If they didn’t say this was the final movie I think it would have easily found a way to build up a sequel using other actors.

REC 4: Apocalypse is a good movie. I would recommend it to any horror fan but only if you have seen the past films. I think they are some of the most consistently good zombie movies out there. If you are in the mood for a series that is foreign and takes chances, give the REC series a try.  They are sure to entertain.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Top 10 Bottle Movies

A bottle movie is a movie that takes place in mostly one location. It creates a feeling of claustrophobia and unease, which makes the movie all the more fascinating.  Often they are the films that are based off plays. There have been many movies that can be considered bottle movies. Here are a few that are my personal favorites:

10. Devil – The M. Night Shyamalan film where five strangers are trapped in an elevator and one of them is the Devil. There are moments that are cheesy but it is still written like a creepy episode of The Twilight Zone. The really eerie parts are that you have no idea what will happen to these people when the elevator lights begin to flicker.

9. Frozen – Not the Disney cartoon but rather the 2010 film of the same name. Three friends go to a ski resort and soon find themselves stranded on a ski lift. Stuck with the prospects of freezing to death or the facing the possibilities of the dangers of falling below, each much make a crucial choice.  The cold isolation makes this movie worth while as well as the fun dialogue between the three friends.

8. Buried – An American civilian working as a truck driver in Iraq is kidnapped and buried alive. The entire movie is shot within the coffin where the driver, played by Ryan Reynolds, calls his friends and family in an attempt to save himself. It is an impressive movie and is possibly one of Ryan Reynolds’ best acting to date. The suspense is very real as you hope his character can find safety.

7. Open Water – This is a little different for a bottle movie. Instead of being trapped somewhere confining they are trapped in a wide-open space where there is literally nowhere else for them to go. Based off the chilling true story, a couple is left behind by their scuba group and are stranded in the open ocean. If you ever feared the ocean before, this movie will make things all the more scary.

6. Identity – Much like the Agatha Christie novel And Then There Were None, Identity is a whodunit set, for the most part, in a cheap Nevada motel. The cast is a lot of fun and the psychological thriller aspects of it all make this movie incredibly entertaining. It is a smart movie that I don’t want to give away too much of here.

5. Cube – Several people find themselves trapped inside a rotating cube laden with traps. Their personalities clash but each of them is trying their hardest to escape this mysterious capture. It is a strange Canadian film, which is well-acted and fascinating to watch. It also has a bit of The Twilight Zone feel at times.

4. 12 Angry Men – 12 Angry Men tells the story of 12 jurors who argue and discuss a case as one juror goes about establishing reasonable doubt in all the others’ minds. It all takes place in the jury room and after enough time you begin to feel to the same frustration in some of these people. It’s a provocative movie that is still relevant today.

3. Das Boot – A great movie from the point of view of a Nazi U-boat and its crew. The claustrophobic feeling is taken to a new degree as the U-boat must silently avoid depth charges, torpedo ships, and get back to their base safely.  It is a deep movie that covers the horrors of war from a side we don’t always look at, the Germans.

2. Bug – A psychological thriller about two lovers who share a mutual insanity the longer they are together. Taking the backdrop of a crappy motel, it gets more and more claustrophic as they loose themselves to their madness and start covering everything in foil in hopes of thwarting the “bugs” in their skins. The acting is amazing and the mood is chilling and worth seeing.

1. Moon – Moon is the story of a lone man on the Moon harvesting resources with his friendly robot. The moon base and a bit of the moon is all we experience in terms for a set. Still, Sam Rockwell gives an amazing performance as Sam, the man just trying to do his job until he can get home. It’s a fantastic movie that has an amazing twist. If you have a chance you really need to give this a watch.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Movies for Expecting Parents

If you are an expecting parent like Kira and I, you might be in the mood for films that reflect the moods you are going through. For this article I asked my wife, Kira, to assist me by coming up with five movies that she feels are gems for expecting parents and I would do the same.

Ryan’s List

5. A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child - One of the weaker of the Freddy Krueger films, this one has the unique charm of using an unborn child’s dreams for Freddy to kill his victims. The kills are original and the set pieces are inventive. It is bizarre but also sort of a novel concept for the franchise to go in this direction. Still, it is worthy of watching and certainly worth a mention.

4.  Juno - Winner of an Academy award for Best Original Screenplay, Juno is the story of a young high school girl that becomes pregnant and wants to give the child up for adoption. The dialogue is witty and the situations are both comical and moving.  Juno is a very human character and her story arc is fascinating. Both pro-life and pro-choice viewers have embraced the film.

3. Saved! - Much like Juno, Saved! tells the story of a High School girl who becomes pregnant. It is mostly the reactions of her friends and loved ones in the Christian school backdrop that make this an entertaining movie. It is a biting satire on the hypocrisy of churches and the way people ostracize those that are different. For a teen comedy it comes off very genuine and addresses its material with the respect it deserves.

2. Children of Men - In a world where all humans are sterile there is very little hope to survive. Theo, played by Clive Owen, finds out there is a refugee woman who is pregnant and he must keep her safe.  The movie is incredibly well shot and portrays this dismal future in such a way that you want the characters to overcome the incredible odds they must face. The movie causes a vast amalgam of emotions from horror to a crescendo of hope.

1. Rosemary’s Baby - This movie is, at its core, about a woman’s desire to control her own pregnancy.  However it tells it in the guise of a smart psychological thriller. Rosemary and her husband move into an apartment with some strange neighbors living nearby. After a night of bizarre dreams Rosemary finds she is pregnant. She also becomes increasingly paranoid, as she doesn’t know if the threats she faces are real or imagined. It is a classic movie that everyone should see.

Kira’s List

5. Junior - Arnold Schwarzenegger gets pregnant- ‘nuff said. For those of us who love a good fish out of water story, watching Schwarzenegger’s character, Alex Hesse, battle nausea, raging hormones, and binge eating is just what the doctor ordered.  Sure, you’ll need to overlook a majority of the medical anomalies to enjoy this movie, but underneath you’ll find it’s charm and awkward entertainment.

4. Nine Months - Nine Months is the story of an unmarried couple who find themselves expecting a baby. Rebecca Taylor, played by Julianne Moore, is excited to take on her new role as a mother while Samuel Faulkner, played by Hugh Grant, is not as enthusiastic. Their story is a familiar one with miscommunications that lead to conflict, inevitably ending with understanding and forgiveness. The simple storyline isn’t what does it for me though; it’s really Tom Arnold that steals the show. His character, Marty, delivers a blunt view on raising children and provides welcomed comic relief. We can’t forget Robin Williams who plays a foreign OBGYN with a huge language barrier.

3. Father of the Bride 2 –The exacerbated George Banks returns as the loveable character you knew him from in the first film, Father of the Bride. In the sequel, his quirkiness is escalated as he finds himself simultaneously becoming a father and grandfather. Steve Martin does a great job portraying a man overcome with happiness for the birth of his first grandchild and overwhelming terror of becoming a father again at such a late time in his life. As an expecting mother, I enjoyed watching two women of wildly different ages grow belly bumps and prepare for impending childbirth.

2. For Keeps – This is known as Molly Ringwald’s last role in a teen film and one of her more mature roles for sure. Ringwald’s character, Darcy, becomes pregnant during her senior year of high school by her boyfriend of the same age, Stan. We watch the couple journey from being teenagers who get married and optimistically assure themselves they are ready to raise a child, to struggling with post-partum depression and threats of divorce.  This is a grim look into the reality of high school pregnancy long before MTV exploited the issue.

1. Fools Rush In – A one-night stand that leads to a shotgun wedding. This movie delivers Matthew Perry as the awkward, uptight personality we all love. Perry’s character, Alex Whitman, is forced out of his comfort zone when he impregnates and marries Isabel Fuentes, played by Salma Hayek. Both characters help each other grow into better people and inevitably win the hearts of their in-laws.  Set in Las Vegas, this movie is a fun, over-the-top blend of cultures.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Bond Movies- From Best To Worst

Having recently seen all 23 of the James Bond films consecutively, I have ranked the films from best to worst. I won’t go into detail on each one, but I will discuss the best film and the worst film respectively.

The best movie was Skyfall. The acting is top-notch. We see Bond as a flawed character instead of an unstoppable killing machine. The villain is not seen until halfway into the movie, so there is a lot of build up. When we do meet him he is interesting, over-the-top, and complex. Skyfall takes the Bond mythos and gives it meaning for a modern age.

The worst was On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. George Lazenby plays James Bond and he is dull as dishwater. The plot is stupid, even for a Bond movie. The action is poorly edited and leads to a finale that is as abrupt and unpleasant as a car door to the face. The only entertaining aspect is seeing young Diana Rigg as a Bond girl. She would go on to play Olenna Tyrell in Game of Thrones.

In order from best to worst:

1. Skyfall
2. Casino Royale
3. Quantum of Solace
4. Diamonds Are Forever
5. Goldfinger
6. Goldeneye
7. License to Kill
8. You Only Live Twice
9. The Living Daylights
10. The Man With The Golden Gun
11. Live and Let Die
12. Thunderball
13. Dr. No
14. From Russia With Love
15. The Spy Who Loved Me
16. Moonraker
17. The World Is Not Enough
18. For Your Eyes Only
19. A View To A Kill
20. Octopussy
21. Tomorrow Never Dies
22. Die Another Day
23. On Her Majesty's Secret Service

Friday, January 16, 2015

My 2015 Oscar Picks

I have not seen many of the films that have been nominated this year. That being the case I have complied a best guess for who I believe the winners may be based on previous performances and audience appeal.

The Theory of Everything
Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Lisa Bruce and Anthony McCarten, Producers

Eddie Redmayne in The Theory of Everything

J.K. Simmons in Whiplash

Rosamund Pike in Gone Girl

Patricia Arquette in Boyhood

Richard Linklater, Boyhood

Big Hero 6
Don Hall, Chris Williams and Roy Conli

Leviathan (Russia)

The Theory of Everything
Screenplay by Anthony McCarten

Written by Dan Gilroy

Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
Emmanuel Lubezki

Anna B. Sheppard and Jane Clive

Laura Poitras, Mathilde Bonnefoy and Dirk Wilutzky

Aneta Kopacz

The Grand Budapest Hotel
Barney Pilling

Guardians of the Galaxy
Elizabeth Yianni-Georgiou and David White

Hans Zimmer

“Everything Is Awesome” from The Lego Movie
Music and Lyric by Shawn Patterson

Production Design: Nathan Crowley; Set Decoration: Gary Fettis

The Dam Keeper
Robert Kondo and Dice Tsutsumi

Boogaloo and Graham
Michael Lennox and Ronan Blaney

Richard King

Craig Mann, Ben Wilkins and Thomas Curley

Guardians of the Galaxy
Stephane Ceretti, Nicolas Aithadi, Jonathan Fawkner and Paul Corbould

Friday, January 2, 2015

Getting to Know Catherine Mary Stewart.

Actress Catherine Mary Stewart has had a film career that has spanned over 30 years. She has worked with numerous stars in both television and film during her roles in such film as: The Apple, Night of the Comet, The Last Star Fighter, and Weekend at Bernie’s as well as appearing as the original Kayla Brady on Days of Our Lives. I had the opportunity to correspond with Catherine and talk to her about her long and fascinating career in show business.

You’re film debut began with the musical The Apple. What is your background in song in dance? 

I was a dancer before I was an actor.  I performed with a professional company in Canada called Synergy.  When I graduated from high school, I moved to London, England to continue my dance training.   I auditioned for The Apple there as a dancer and ended up with the leading role.  

The cult status for The Apple has grown tremendously as of late. What are your thoughts on this film’s upsurge in popularity?

I think people are entertained by the campiness.  It was created with the idea that it had a good message, great music, and it was a popular genre at the time.  The filmmakers were very serious about making a good movie.   The reaction from the audience is similar to that of Rocky Horror Picture Show.  It is screened all over the country regularly and several times at the prestigious Lincoln Center in New York City. 

When you were Kayla Brady in Days of Our Lives what was it like to be part of such a tight acting schedule? 

Shooting soap operas are the hardest work I've ever done as an actress.  There was a lot of dialogue, pressure to do everything in one take, and a very quick schedule.  It was difficult, but I worked with incredible professionals who were very helpful.

What was the experience of The Last Star Fighter like for you?  

The Last Starfighter was a wonderful experience for me.  It was the first feature film I worked on in the U.S.  Nick Castle was a terrific and supportive director.  This was his baby and it truly was a labor of love.  Lance Guest and I became good friends and remain so to this day.  I think it's a beautiful story.  It's also ground breaking in terms of digital special effects.  Programs that are the foundation of special effects today were created for this movie.

What was the atmosphere of the set of Night of the Comet?  

I remember it being sort of "gorilla" filmmaking.  It was low budget with a crazy schedule.  We shot a lot of nights so places like the shopping mall would be empty.  We also shot during Christmas at a time of day when no one was downtown to create a sense that LA was empty.  I can't imagine that that would be the case today.  The shoot was a lot of fun and a collaborative effort.  We were all in it together.

In Weekend at Bernie’s you are part of the slapstick humor. What was it like to be part of such a zany film?  
It was a lot of fun.  I love physical comedy.  I also get a kick out of the fact that it has such an enduring life.  It's become that sort of genre classic.

The Girl Next Door is a disturbing film that most people would be shocked by. What shocks or scares you?

I'm not one for horror movies.  They really scare me.  I go to movies to be entertained in a happy way.  I also love romance, movies with a resounding message of hope.  I love to cry in movies. 

What was it like to work with Sylvester Stallone as a director?  

I had a very small role in Nighthawks.  It was interesting work opposite Rutger Hauer.  He was very intense and kinda scared me.  I was still pretty new to the biz, so I found it intimidating.  Sylvester Stallone was exactly as you would imagine.  He's quite small, very muscular, and charming.  He let me stand behind the camera with him while they shot the scene where the department store my character worked in, exploded.   That was pretty cool.

What was it like to work with the late Charles Bronson and Christopher Reeve in The Sea Wolf?

I love period pieces.  I did a lot of research about women of that day in preparation for the role.  Charles Bronson had a reputation of being rather stoic and standoffish.  I found him to be a very sweet man under that tough exterior.  It was an honor to work with him.  He and I became good friends until the day he died.  I miss him terribly.  Christopher Reeve was the consummate actor.  He was very serious and I learned a lot from him.  His wife had just given birth to their son and they were both on the set with him.  I know that he endured some sleepless nights during the shoot with such a young baby there with him, but he never let that affect his performance.  For me The Sea Wolf was a privilege.

Do you get recognized often for many of roles you’ve played in your career? If so what would you say is the role you get recognized most for?  

I have die-hard fans for The Last Starfighter, Night of the Comet, Mischief, and Weekend at Bernie’s.  I did a lot of TV mini-series that were pretty popular such as Hollywood Wives, Sins, and of course Days of our Lives.  I'm still doing lots of TV stuff on Lifetime and Hallmark.  I've also made my directing debut, which I LOVE!!! 

After such a successful career in Hollywood, do you have any advice for people who are coming into the business?  

I would say know the business of the business.  There is a good book called Acting as a Business by Brian O'Neil that I think has some useful tips. Stay involved everyday whether it's reading "Backstage Magazine" or taking classes in every area you can think of.  Network, network, network and don't be afraid to ask questions and get advice.  You would be surprised how happy people are there to help you out.  You have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

You have acted in just about every genre of film in your career. Do you have a favorite genre that you feel most in touch with?

One of the best things about this business is getting to live vicariously through the different characters. I love the challenge of discovering who each and every character I play is. It's extremely rewarding. I love the travel. Travel is one of the many fringe benefits of this business.

In another interview you once expressed an interest in directing. What sort of project would you ideally like to work on? 

I have a couple of very good scripts that I am working towards directing.  The script must touch me in a very poignant way.  I must be able to visualize how it plays out in the big picture.  

If you could be involved in any movie throughout film history what would it be and why? 

I love movies from the 30's and 40's.  It was a simpler time in a way, yet the black and white photography was inspiring and the industry was glamorous.  

What are some of your favorite movies?  

I love everything from Bambi to The Sound of Music to Sophie's Choice.   I'm a big fan of foreign films today and/or smaller independent films.  There is a level of intelligence and integrity that seems to be missing from many big blockbuster films today.

What is your latest project that you are currently working on?
I am working on a project of my own that I've been developing in hopes to direct.

For more information on Catherine Mary Stewart visit her website at She can also be found on Twitter @cmsall #CatherineMaryStewart and Facebook: Catherine Mary Stewart.