Cinema Psycho

"You know what? You have a losing personality." – Manhattan

Introduction


Or, Everybody Else Is Doing It, Why Not Me?

film-reel.jpgI used to pride myself on having seen EVERYTHING at my local video store. Of course, growing up in the ‘80’s in a small town in BFE, I didn’t realize until much later how limited my choices were at an isolated mom-and-pop VHS rental store. For all events and purposes, “everything” amounted to a lot of mainstream Hollywood films, an occasional B-movie, and a genuine classic every now and then. I wasn’t really aware for a long time how much more there was out there to experience.

These days, you go into your local Blockbuster or Hollywood Video store, and the wealth of choices is quite amazing. Not only do you have the usual Hollywood fare you would normally find at a chain store (including 50 copies of the latest romantic comedy, teen comedy or teen romantic comedy), you can find a more-than-adequate selection of documentaries, foreign films, indie movies, anime, cheap Z-grade horror flicks, the “B-plus” movies featuring washed-up former stars and veteran character actors, and generally a ton of stuff that the average mainstream moviegoer has never even heard of before walking in the store. (If you never went to a theater, you’d think Eric Roberts was the biggest star on the planet.)

When they finally built a Hollywood Video in my area, it was like suddenly finding Shangri-La for me. For the first time I could actually rent films that I’d only heard about among fellow fanatics – everything from classic Kurosawa to early John Waters to bizarre oddities like Tetsuo the Iron Man. Even now, I go in there and I’m just astonished by their selection – and the recent explosions of Asian and Latin cinema have only intensified this feeling. It’s like being buried in an avalanche – and of course, those New Releases just keep on coming. If I actually had the time and money to see everything…well, I’d be one happy boy, needless to say. But I don’t.

I recently signed up for a free trial of Netflix, the mail-order rental service. (I’d been wanting to try it for quite awhile now, but couldn’t for various reasons we don’t need to get into.) At the risk of sounding like an infomercial… DAMN. These beautiful bastards really do have EVERYTHING. No longer do we have to settle for what our local stores have on their shelves – if it’s available on a Region 1 DVD, these guys have it and can send it directly to you. Naturally, they have all the mainstream releases. But if you’re a fan of cult films, foreign films, or just plain difficult-to-track-down obscurities, Netflix is your Mecca. Looking for Italian horror? Chinese martial-arts? Cult ‘60’s items like Spider Baby or Homicidal? How about controversial arthouse fare like Irreversible or the oeuvre of Takashi Miike? Or the Criterion edition of that classic movie you’ve always wanted to see? Not only do they have them, but you don’t even have to leave your house to get them – they’ll send it all directly to you. And thanks to the magic of the Internet, you can make sure they’re in widescreen, uncut and uncensored. No more messing around with the chain stores and their “family store” policies. You want NC-17? No problem. You want Pedro Almodovar instead of Brett Ratner? You got it. You’ll never have to settle for a VHS copy of Bad Boys II again.

I’m so happy I could almost cry.

But that opens up a whole new can of worms. What do you do when you suddenly have access to EVERYTHING? What do you see first? How do you find the time to watch all the movies you want to see? How can you possibly keep up with it all? Imagine that suddenly you can have sex with anyone on the planet, one person a night, and they come right to your door. Sounds fantastic, doesn’t it? Sure…but where do you START?

This is my problem. (Not the sex thing. You know what I mean.) At one point I had like 50 movies on my waiting list, and those were just the must-sees. They only send out three at a time, so naturally I had to narrow it down. I didn’t want to be booked up until the end of the year! Let’s face it, I’m a child of VHS and cable TV. I’m not used to having SO many options. It’s downright surreal for me to be able to see whatever I want, whenever I want.

Remember when Communism fell? Some of the Russians couldn’t handle the concept of so much freedom, especially the older ones. The very idea was mind-blowing to them, and they didn’t know how to deal with it. That’s kind of how I feel. Not that I’m comparing this situation to the plight of an oppressed people…but when you grow up having three channels to watch, suddenly having 500 to choose from can be a little bit intimidating at first, right?

That brings me around to what I want to do with this site. No, I’m not a professional critic. I don’t get paid for this, and I won’t make any money from the ads on this site. I’m no studio insider or showbiz wanna-be. I’m probably no different from most of you who are reading this. I’m just an average nobody living in the middle of nowhere, just trying to get by like most of us.

So why should you read my reviews? That’s a good question. I have only two reasons, but I think they’re good ones. 1) I’ve been known to watch pretty much anything and EVERYTHING I can get my grubby little hands on. It’s just what I like to do. And writing about movies is what I LOVE to do. They say that some people are born to be artists. Well, I think I was born to be a critic. It’s just my thing, and people have told me that I’m pretty good at it. I have a Rain Man-like knowledge of film history that goes back to childhood. I never tried to develop it, I never worked at it, it just came to me. It’s the one thing I’m actually good at. So why not share it with as many people as I can? Even if nobody reads it, even if I never make a dime from it, at least I’m doing what I love to do.

And 2) I have no real agenda. Like I said, I’m not an insider and I don’t get paid for this. I don’t get freebies from anybody, I rarely get to see things early (except on special occasions) and I don’t get a kickback for a good review. Nor do I have any reputation to protect. I’m not a snob like some mainstream critics. I’ll watch anything, from highfalutin arthouse films to grungy B-movies. I give everything a fair chance, and I judge each film on its own merits. Even if a film’s style or genre is not to my particular taste, I still base my opinion on its individual quality. Any movie can surprise you if it’s well done. I refuse to be an “anti-Hollywood” critic – I love Hollywood when they make good movies, and I hate them when they make bad ones. I just like good films – I don’t care where they come from, how much they cost or how much they make. What’s important is what’s on the screen. I’m an audience member, just like you, and the most important question to me is, “is this movie worth seeing or not?” If a review doesn’t answer that question, it’s not a worthwhile review.

So, what I’d like to do is just write about what I’m interested in, whatever films inspire me to say something about them. I’ll review theatrical releases as well as films on DVD, even movies on cable and network TV. I think those formats are just as important to most people now as the theatrical experience, maybe even more so. If I see something noteworthy or interesting, that I think people should know about, why not review it just because it’s not playing in a theater? Lately I see a lot more films on DVD and cable than theatrically anyway, and I think a lot of people do.

Ultimately, I’d like my site to be thought of as a good place to find out what’s good out there. I want to be like the guy you know who says, “hey, you gotta see this movie, it’s awesome!” or “oh God, don’t ever see this piece of crap, it’s awful!” The point of reading criticism isn’t that you should always agree. The point is to hear an informed opinion. It’s not my job to bully you, it’s my job to persuade you. It’s a critic’s job to make a case, whether it’s to see a good film or to avoid a bad one. If my reviews don’t convince you…then feel free not to listen to me. But I hope you’ll give me a shot at it. If even one person sees a movie they wouldn’t have otherwise because of something I say, that makes it all worthwhile.

So I’ll get started here soon, with reviews coming up of Saw, The Machinist, Gozu and The Last Horror Movie, among others. I’ll try to post new reviews at least once a week, hopefully more. I’ll also be posting a semi-regular column on the main page, just comments and rants on popular culture in general. I haven’t decided what to name it yet, but I’ll let you know as soon as I do. So keep checking back here, there will be plenty of stuff to read soon. I look forward to bending your ear. And with that, I’ll leave you with this thought…

“George W. Bush is like a guy who goes to a party, leaves a turd in the punchbowl, and then wonders why no one else is laughing.”

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One Response to “Introduction”

  1. Colin Campbell said

    Hi Cinema Psycho!

    I really love your site – it’s great. I’ve just posted 2 horror shorts on youtube and I would be honored if you would check them out and consider writing about them. They are

    GIRL AT THE DOOR – http://youtu.be/4vPSemdCkJE

    DOLLFACE – http://youtu.be/BpFW3Xl6eFA

    They both just got a glowing review from Keri O’Shea at BrutalAsHell.com

    It’s such a kick-ass review that I’ve got the text below and here is a link to the article – http://www.brutalashell.com/2013/06/horror-in-short-double-bill-dollface-2011-and-girl-at-the-door-2013/

    I hope you’ll take the time to check the shorts out! Thanks so much for your consideration!

    -Colin Campbell

    By Keri O’Shea

    It’s always a pleasure to encounter a filmmaker who really ‘gets’ short films, and it seems like we’ve found such a fella in Colin Campbell, two of whose films we’re happy to be able to show you in our latest installment of Horror in Short. The first, Dollface (2011), takes us a little out of the current season and to Halloween, where husband and wife Emily and Kyle are enjoying a decidedly non-spooky night in, playing a game of chess and chatting. A knock at the door heralds a trick-or-treater, so Nick gets up to go and dish out some candy…

    More quirky than the next film we have to show you, Dollface is a lot of fun because it plays out like a modern, urbane fairy story – with none of the grisly or unsettling subject matter excised, of course. From the minute Emily goes in search of Kyle, she’s thrown into a mysterious and labyrinthine space which doesn’t play by the rules of the world outside, and boy does it work well. The interiors look good, are crowded with modern objects, but feel very much apart from the cosy night in which was so oddly interrupted. As for the characters we meet there, they are all ambiguous folk, whilst the neat punchline to this tale adds greater depth to that which has gone before.

    Which brings us to the second short film, Girl at the Door, an altogether more visceral little film. If Dollface is a modern spin on the fairy story then Girl at the Door brings sex and drugs to the supernatural tale.

    After a night of booze and illicit substances, architect Jake gets lucky, accompanying a very hot and very willing woman back to his place for a night of rough sex (and well done to Campbell for sneaking that sex scene past the Youtube police!) When he wakes in the morning, she’s already hit the road, so he gets back to his work. He’s surprised, however, when she turns up again that night, seemingly as keen as ever – but odd, somehow. What has he got himself into?

    This is a film which gets a lot out of eleven minutes, but sticks with a relatively straightforward story, meaning it can balance its lascivious content with an excellent, escalating sense of unease. Absolutely key to this are the performances, especially the lovely Kristen Renton as Sofia. The lines she delivers are repeated, but she does good work at making them mean something else each time, albeit in a subtle way. This means the film feels properly sinister by the time we get our exposition, making this an interesting spin on a supernatural story, as up-to-date as Dollface.

    In making everyday situations (well okay, maybe not everyday in the case of the beginning of Girl at the Door, unless you happen to lead a charmed life) become otherworldly, even ghastly, Colin Campbell shows real flair, and I hope to catch up with his other short films in the future. His films are economical, they understand pace and achieve a great deal. This promises plenty of good things.

    about the filmmaker: Colin Campbell is an academy award nominated filmmaker with numerous award-winning short films. His most recent feature, GUIDO, starred Garry Busey, Billy Zane, Armand Assante and Lupe Ontiveros and is being released in July.

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