Suspiria – An Overrated Horror Movie

Suspiria, the 1977 Italian horror movie directed by Dario Argento, has long been acclaimed as a “classic” by many horror fans. However, as much as I love Italian horror movies and as much as I admire Argento’s work, I have to say that Suspiria just did not do it for me. In fact, I think it is rather an overrated horror movie, and an extremely dull one at that.

I have watched Suspiria on both DVD and Blu Ray, and whilst the latter format renders the movie absolutely stunning in terms of picture quality and vibrant colours, the failings and cracks in the storyline still stick out like a sore thumb. This is a great pity, as if the movie’s plot had been as wonderful and awesome as its colourful presentation, then I would have certainly added my own laudatory comments to the ones of those who love the film.

Suspiria opens with the main protagonist, American ballet student Suzy Bannion (Jessica Harper), travelling through a stormy night (now THERE’S a horror cliché if ever there was) to join an exclusive ballet school. During her taxi journey from the airport, she starts to experience real feelings of mounting dread and unease, and we are led to believe that this is, apparently, going to be one hell of an enjoyable movie. This impression is compounded by the events of the next twenty minutes, which culminate in a brutal murder.

When Suzy returns to the school the next morning, she discovers that the student seen being chased through the woods the previous evening fell victim to a brutal killer. The school principal, Madame Blanc (Jean Bennett), attempts to allay Suzy’s anxiety. However, the rather curt and authoritative manner displayed by her assistant, Miss Tanner (Alida Valli), only adds to Suzy’s nervousness. Apparently, this isn’t the first time that a student has gone missing from this school.

As time goes on, the ominous feeling that not everything is quite as it seems at this establishment just grows and grows. Despite Suzy’s efforts to fit in with her fellow students, they are not exactly warm and welcoming. She does, however, eventually befriend a girl called Sara (Stefania Cassini), who then disappears after being stalked by a sinister, malevolent force. Realising that her own safety – and even her life – could be at risk too, Suzy decides that she must get to the bottom of whatever dark, untold secrets that this establishment may be harbouring.

One of the main faults of Suspiria, in my opinion, was the superfluous use of bright colour and showy camera angles at the expense of a good, solid storyline. Also, there were far too many moments in the movie that show Suzy just walking down seemingly endless corridors. There is nothing more I hate in a horror movie than boring, drawn-out stretches in which the character neither says anything nor interacts with anybody. It just leaves you wondering how long is this interminable scene going to go on for before something happens.

Another aspect of Suspiria that I hated was the general ambiguity of the story as a whole. I mean, just what was the seemingly malevolent force that was besetting the school? Was the school just a front for a collectively planned murder spree? And were all the senior staff really part of a witches’ coven? Well, we do eventually learn at the end that the latter did seem to be true, as Suzy stumbles on them all gathered in a room, with the principal uttering typical witchlike threats in Suzy’s direction. But even though it did seem to explain the nature of the threat to an extent, that ending was just too flat and anti-climatic for my liking. The movie started off so promising, but ended so badly.

Given all the critical acclaim that has been heaped on Suspiria over the years, I tried to like the movie, I really did. Unfortunately, I have to say that its lifeless plot, coupled with its mostly unspeaking characters, left a lot to be desired. Unlike most of Argento’s other films, Suspiria is certainly not a movie I could go back and watch again and again.

Movie Review – "All I Need" – A Sinister Call for Blood

“All I Need” is a frustrating film to watch, mainly because the intriguing premise is not fully developed. It could be so much better. When Chloe (Caitlin Stasey – “Neighbours”) wakes up in hotel room bound and gagged, she wonders how she got into this predicament. Then she sees there are other young girls likewise bound and gagged clad in only their underwear. This has our attention, as these girls appear to be either unconscious or dead. What’s going on here?

The story shifts to Andrew (Markus Taylor – “Deadheads”) an out of work dad trying to visit his daughter. Behind on his child support he’s looking for quick money. When he receives a phone call to deliver packages to random addresses, he takes the job.

These two story lines take forever to connect and the resolution is a disappointment. While I was intrigue by the initial setup my interest wane after a series of drawn out escape attempts, all very similar. When Chloe becomes innovative, the story takes off. Now there is hope. Likewise, the question of why these young women were held captive became less pressing as there were no clues showing possible reasons. For instance, if a body had been returned to the room drained of color, one might surmise an explanation.

The lack of dialogue presents a problem as so many questions are left unanswered. Why are these women being held captive, why are some gagged and bound, why are others unconscience or dead? What happens to those taken from the room? What happened to those whose bodies are returned? Too many questions dilute the menace. Therefore, some dialogue in this area between two girls might have helped, especially if their misconceptions up the terror level. Fear is the expectation of pain and terror causes extreme exhaustion and confusion of one’s faculties.

The fact that the girls Chloe attempts to help end up worst off is a nice touch. You would think she would learn to leave well enough alone, yet she’s a responsible person with genuine caring qualities and that makes her more likeable. She becomes more admirable toward the end when she becomes more innovative. Using torn bed sheets is an ingenious device utilized in the reversal scene that resolves this excruciating dilemma. When she extracts her revenge, she savours the moment with the perfect expression, one fully appreciated by the audience.

Elizabeth, (Holly Twyford -“Pecker”) the ultra-rich benefactor behind this mayhem reveals to Andrew her “need” plus how he will be richly rewarded if he works for her This sinister scene, near the end of the movie, explains all. Moreover, the connection between Chloe and Andrew’s stories become known. I expected more.

The desired response in terror is to scare the audience though exploitation of basic fears resulting from alignment with sympathetic character(s) in terrifying struggles, to manipulate a vicarious expectation of tension and pain. There are moments in “All I Need” that fulfill this response; however, they are not compelling enough and too redundant to make this a viable fright movie. The acting by Caitlin Stasey is commendable as she plays all the right notes for this genre. Her pacing is deliberate and stretched to promote the anticipation of fright and pain. She also has a very expressive face that clearly articulates her thoughts and feelings and she uses the full palette of fearful expressions. With limited dialogue, she carries this film with her behavior alone. Having better material, she will go farther…

CREDITS: “All I Need” stars Caitlin Stasey, Rachel Melven, Jonathan Erickson Eisley, Melanie Avalon, Holly Twyford and Markus Taylor. Costume Designer – Jessica Lee; Art Director – Aidan FioRito; Production Designer – Michael Fitzgerald; Cinematographer – Collin Brazie; Editor – Phil Bucci; Composer – Jacob Yoffee; Co-Producers – Matthew Perniciaro, Producers – Dylan K. Narang & Jeff Robinson; Writer/Director – Dylan K Narang; Produced by Foggy Bottom Pictures; Unrated, HD; 83 Minutes.

5 Reasons Why It’s More Fun To See Current Movies In The Theatre Than At Home

In today’s fast-paced world, it can be difficult to slip away for an outing during the evening or afternoon time. Sometimes, you just need an excuse to have a little time to enjoy some mindless entertainment and for today’s current movies, there is no better activity. It can be tempting to rent movies after their release dates and stay home. Sometimes, those are good options. But nine times out of ten, the option of viewing a movie in the actual movie theatre is a far superior choice. Take a look at five compelling reasons why you should venture out for your next foray into the world of cinema:

1. The food.

First, and foremost, movie snacks are the number one reason why you should make the extra effort to see your favorite movies in the theatre. Movie food is so much more than just a good snack: it’s a chance to remember all your favorite childhood movie treats. It can be a trip down memory-lane. Also, with some great novelty theaters popping up, you can find gourmet food and actual meals. Some theaters are even taking it a step further with in-house brewing. It just doesn’t get any better than dinner, craft beer and a movie!

2. The atmosphere.

While it can be convenient to stay in your home, in your pajamas to watch a movie, there is something to be said for getting dressed for an outing. Sitting in a big theater with other people feels special. With the seats, the surround sound, the smell of movie popcorn, it just doesn’t get better than that. Also, you really can’t see current movies when they are released unless you venture out to the cinema.

3. The big screen.

There is no substitute for seeing a cinematic piece unfold on a big screen. Sure, you may have a large screen at home, but it certainly will not compare to the drama that is a movie theater big screen. And almost nearly ever movie lends itself well to larger screens. Action-packed films, of course, play out nicely with the larger view. Period pieces and large love stories showcase breath-taking scenery better. Mystery and horror films will give you a scare larger than you would receive at home. In short, there’s not much that can make up for a big screen.

4. The previews.

In today’s day and age of DVR, Netflix, pre-ordered movies, it is hard to find the ability to truly enjoy previews. A dying art, the previews are almost worth going to the movies for alone.

5. Escapism.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, it can be rather nice to get out and leave your house and your job for a short while to enjoy a different scene. Escaping your every day routine has proven to be an effective method to reduce stress. Watching current movies in a public atmosphere, complete with all your childhood favorites of movie snacks and previews is a reliable formula to enjoy life without the every day worries for a few hours.

5 Ways The Cinema Brewery Experience Has Reinvented Movie Night

The notion of a “cinema brewery” would have been an alien concept only a few years ago. For decades, movie theaters, though steadily offering more items, were seen as places where you got your standard dose of popcorn, boxed candy, and soft drinks. But as tastes and expectations of the movie-going public began to change and become more refined, the old-school movie house and drive-in theater gave way to the multiplex. Only having the option to watch one movie was no longer an option with which anyone wanted to be stuck.

So, too, came the changes when it came to the types of food and drink being offered at movie theaters. Patrons wanted more options, and as trends & tastes changed, these same patrons decided they wanted access to healthier food choices that tasted good & were restaurant quality. The real kicker came in terms of the competition that was ramping up between multiplexes competing for business. Now, moviegoers had the option to simply go to another theater to get the experience they wanted.

These same trends have certainly made their mark in society, with patrons pushing for more quality ingredients and healthy options at fast-food restaurants. Moreover, the new restaurant patron was seeking new culinary thrills and was willing to pay a little more for better quality & an overall dining experience in which they truly experience a meal. Along with this refined palate change came the want for beer to have more taste, a bolder feel, and an attention to quality ingredients that showcased the brewer’s passion.

In the end, the cinema brewery became an amalgamation of all of these food and drink trends in society and at the all-encompassing movie theater experience. Now, visitors were privy to:

1. Quality handmade meals with service

2. Drink choices based in on-site award-winning beer breweries

3. An ability to watch the best in current movie offerings

4. Stellar visual and sound quality systems in place

5. Opportunities to use the facility for corporate/group events

These five things are the result of cinema breweries not only finding a niche in the entertainment market, but they are a direct result of customer input & feedback. In many ways, the existence, and thriving business of, the cinema brewery may mark a golden age for the paying public unwilling to simply settle for what’s brought to them. Their voices have been heard, and for most, the idea that they have to choose from a limited menu of any kind (i.e., food, drink, movies) while the prices increase doesn’t make sense.

One final element to the impact of the cinema brewery is that it creates a social hub and a way to get people out of their houses once again. Sure, the home movie experience is astounding in its own ways, but nothing beats being able to watch a great movie while enjoying fine dining & craft beer with friends, family, and others who are as discerning as you when it comes to a quality time.

3 Great Date Night Movie Genres That Aren’t Rom-Coms

We live in a fairly busy day & age, and one of the hardest things to do is spend quality time with each other. While it’s easy to turn this into a discussion on social constructs and the absence of communication between individuals, it’s also a time to think of one of the great byproducts of our busy world — “date night” and date night movies. Even if the week has been hectic, we know we can look forward to at least one night to let our hair down & have fun.

Date night movies are key to making this special night all the more impactful because you want a movie that sets a tone or even a mood. Perhaps this is the reason why the romantic comedy (“rom-com”) is so popular for couples looking to have a good time at the movies while still maintaining a little romance. Even this, it seems, is changing.

More couples are looking for more lofty movie material than the “paint-by-numbers” nature of your standard romantic comedy. They value the importance of a film’s subject matter and the subsequent conversation, or at the very least something completely unorthodox. As such, here are three other movie genres that are worth looking at when planning out your next date night:

1. Horror Movies – You’re right in thinking that the idea of watching a horror movie for a special night out with your significant other doesn’t seem like a great idea, at least on the surface. But remember that some of the best horror films being made today happen to have foundations in current social issues, which can start some deep conversations. Other horror movies are just terrible movies that are easy to poke at, especially if you have a partner in crime!

2. Science Fiction – OK. This may be on everyone’s list as nothing but nerd territory to be avoided at all costs especially during a date. But for the record, let it be known that 1) nerds did get their revenge at least three times; and 2) science fiction has been the genre of movies and literature that has culled the greatest minds of any era. If you need a movie that will expand your horizons and create the idea platform for discussion and debate, this is it. So, ditch the outdated “nerd” categorization, and get down with some sci-fi.

3. Musicals – If you still need the romantic leads & comedic interludes but are hungry for some jaunty tunes & phenomenal dance sequences, you might be in the mood for a humdinger of a musical. Not only do you have a long history of massively successful musicals during Hollywood’s ‘Golden Age’, but recent movies have shown a resurgence in the genre’s popularity & ability to still connect with new audiences. Who knows? You may both just be willing to get in on the singing and dancing!

Date night movies don’t have to consist of the usual “rom-com” fare. With a little creative thinking, you can make your next date night one for the books.

The 5 Essential Qualities of Any Great Action Movie

Action movies are the type of movie we try to keep to ourselves when someone asks about our favorite type of film genre. There is an element of the absurd involved in these movies that no one really wants to admit to because we want others to take us seriously. Still, there is something about these blockbusters that draws so many of us to theaters all over the world, so there has to be something that causes us to almost drool when a new action movie hits the big screen.

It’s time that we readily admit that we love these movies and that there is nothing wrong with feeling that way. They touch on a very elemental part of our being, and it’s about time we acknowledge this genre. It must be said, though, that the real shame has to do with so many bad action movies that exist. These tend to be the ones that draw the ire of movie buffs.

Well, movie buff or not, we like our action movies, but there have to be some standards met so as to not hurt the genre anymore. As such, here are five qualities that are essential:

1. An Actual Plot – This seems like Movie Making 101, but you’d be surprised how many action flicks tend to meander through poor scripts & languid characters. If an action movie to at least be tolerable, it has to move through a standard plot line, something most high school English students know pretty well.

2. Stunts, Stunts, and Stunts – What action-packed adventure would be complete without a stunt list in the closing credits twice as long as the cast of the actual movie? Stunts are what make up the action in action movies. Sure, a well-placed pun can make someone throw a punch, but it’s just not the same.

3. Betrayal – If someone is stabbed in the back, literally or figuratively, there is sure to be some level of payback to be had, and with it will be a plethora of action sequences that will get your heart racing & blood pumping.

4. Multiple Love Interests – The action hero always seems to get the girl. One is the necessary sweetheart that gets caught up in a major plot. The other happens to be the girl on the bad guys’ side. She has a heart of gold but was lured away to a life of crime. Both tug at the hero’s heartstrings, but only one will make it to the end of the movie.

5. A Hero Who’s A Wordsmith – Nothing, but nothing, comes close to being an essential action movie quality than that of the hero with a witty way with words. Sometimes a well-placed knife in an enemy or a passionate embrace with a pretty girl can only be punctuated with a killer one-liner.

How To Convert Your Action Movie-Hating Girlfriend or Boyfriend in 5 Easy Steps

Watching a great film can be one of the most relaxing or exciting ways to spend an evening. Seeing a good film in your favorite theater complete with snacks and comfortable chairs is even better. It is not uncommon for many low key dates to be a delicious dinner finished by a fun theatrical experience. However, what should be a fun an easy night out can turn into a long drawn out discussion regarding what type of film to see. Do you tend to enjoy seeing action flicks but your significant other does not? No worries! This is a common problem. Here is how to convert your girlfriend of boyfriend into loving action movies in 5 easy steps.

1. Know your girlfriend or boyfriend’s tastes in film

Action lovers know that this genre of movies can come with many different varieties to choose from. There are films based on revenge, sci-fi, romance, kingpins, super heroes, and the list goes on and on. Find something that peaks the interest of your significant other and make to have a fun discussion about it afterwards.

2. Take turns choosing

In order to accomplish the feat of getting your significant other into the action genre you may have to make some compromises. It is often a good idea to take turns selecting movies. If you want to convert your boyfriend of girlfriend you may need to allow yourself to be converted to a genre of their choice as well. Compromising will open both your minds and reduce resistance to your choice of movies.

3. Offer to pay

Who can resist a free theater experience? If you are having a hard time convincing your partner to accompany you to an action film, offer to pay. Many times people will lower their resistance to seeing a movie if they feel as though they have nothing to lose.

4. Explain the back story

If you are going to see a movie that requires much back story, make sure you explain it to your partner before dragging them to see it. Many times context can help make the viewing experience much more enjoyable. No one enjoys feeling confused while sitting in a theater.

5. See the prequels first

If the action film you are going to see is one in a series of prior films before it, rent the prequels and watch them together. Starting your significant other from the very beginning will introduce them to the characters and storylines in a similar fashion to the way you were. This will often time make the viewing experience more fun for everyone.

If your boyfriend or girlfriend does not enjoy action on screen, these tips should help bridge the gap.

Why Watch Movies Online?

One of the most popular pastimes is watching movies. Most people love to watch movies. Every person has specific preferences about the type of movies they would like to watch and there are a lot many genres to suit individual tastes. There is hardly any person who does not like to watch movies. The audio visual medium captures people’s attention far better than any other medium. People like the audio visual medium because they can quickly get immersed in it without too much effort. This lets users stay completely disconnected from the rest of the world for quite some time providing thorough entertainment and relaxation. For this reason movies have become hugely popular and perhaps the most popular form of entertainment. The movie industry is perhaps the most booming industry worldwide.

First there were the theatres. People could go there with friends, family and girlfriends and boyfriends to watch movies. A later version of such halls were the drive ins. One could take some time off to go to the theatres or drive-ins to watch movies and they became very popular and made big business. Slowly television came more and more to the forefront and took away much of the popularity and business of the theatres. They were able to offer people the option of watching movies from the comfort and privacy of their homes. Movies began to be available on compact disks and DVD that were playable in players attached to televisions or in computers. These options also gave the viewer a control over the time when he wanted to view a movie. But the viewer still did not have an extensive choice of what movies to watch as it is not possible to keep a huge collection of movie disks at home or many movie files stored in hard drives of computers. Here is where the watch movie online sites began to score.

Online movie databases that let you watch movies online have a huge collection of movies much more than what can be kept at home or an offline library. As a result a viewer has a choice of watching virtually any movie that has been produced and completely when he or she feels like. Sometimes the databases even let the viewer download a movie. The next things of course were sites that gave these services absolutely for free.

These sites often ask viewers to take surveys in order to watch movies online. That is how they put up with the costs. Alternatively they may host ads on their sites. However there are many sites which actually perform surreptitious activities under the cover of being movie sites. They may install harmful software like spywares and malwares on your computer in order to steal important information from your computer and generate spam. However there are certain sites that are free of such things. They have networks with tv shows and movie production houses as a result of which they are able to provide a huge number of TV shows and movies.

The advantage of these sites is that you can choose at will the time to view the shows or movies unlike in theatres and television and you also get a much greater choice of contents than a movie disk library at home or the local parlor can offer.

The 5 Characteristics of Any Great Superhero Movie

Superhero movies are all the rage right now & have been box office gold for about the last ten years. The same could not be said about previous attempts, and there are certainly some superhero movies that are favorites for being torched by upset fans expecting so much more than they received.

It’s a matter of semantics in that the only way a superhero movie can be seen as successful is that it has to live up to the idea of what a superhero is — super. Extraordinary. This, it seems, is the pitfall of so many movie attempts.

For the casual fan seeking a little more out of the superhero genre, it is important for him or her to know what to look for in a film of this type. Here are five absolute ‘must-haves’ for a great superhero movie:

1. Be mindful of the source material — This is, and always will be, rule number one for a ‘caped crusader’ type film. These stories, for the most part, began as comic books, and comic book fandom is fandom at it most intense level. These folks know the story inside and out, know the origin stories of everyone in the storyline, and are quick to jump on any error or creative touch a movie studio may try to add.

2. There has to be some tragedy – We live in a world where it seems that everything must have a happy ending. The fact is that most superhero plots involve death, deception, lost love, and occasional uprisings between the heroes and the “normies” that consider them to be unfit. It is from these difficult times that a hero emerges triumphant.

3. There has to be some humor… some – This is tricky, but in the end, if an audience is simply watching a masked crime-fighter hold court ‘at the improv’ while bashing bad guys, the shtick gets a little old fast. Yes, there is an element of humor that provides moments of catharsis, but a script-writing team needs to know when to interject a laugh.

4. Casting has to be done well – Going back again to the idea that there is a hardcore group of fans that knows the story well of the hero in question, they, too, also have an idea of what they feel the characters all look like as well. Sure, a comic book may only give a small cell’s worth of room to do this, but the person cast for a role needs to feel right.

5. There has to be a human element to the characters – Even if we’re talking about superhuman figures with superpowers, a movie audience needs to connect with the plight of the hero, as well as all of the other characters. Be it bad guy or love interest, the audience wants to feel invested in a story that has weight. Otherwise, it’s just a lot of on-screen action for no reason at all.

The 3 Idiots of the Education System

“I am beginning to suspect all elaborate and special systems of education. They seem to me to be built up on the supposition that every child is a kind of idiot who must be taught to think”. ~ Anne Sullivan.

I was conducting a Discover Your True Calling workshop at IIM, Indore last week. I had the afternoon free and decided to see the much acclaimed, high-grossing Bollywood movie – “3 Idiots”. I thoroughly enjoyed the movie, largely because it is a complete indictment of our education system. The message was strikingly similar to the theme of my workshop.

The film is about three students who do not really fit into the prestigious engineering college and are considered idiots by their professor. However, the movie clearly shows who the three real idiots are – the educational system, the teachers and the parents. Reflecting on the movie on the flight back to Mumbai, I realized that any real change in education is possible only by transforming these three constituencies.

Idiot #1 – The Education System:

Our current system is performance-oriented rather than mastery-oriented. The emphasis on examinations forces students to learn by rote. They focus on scoring high marks rather than investing the time and energy to understand the subject in depth. A system where true geniuses like Einstein and Ramanujan are considered poor students really needs its head examined. In the movie, this is brilliantly brought out by Aamir Khan playing Rancho – the truly outstanding engineer who goes beyond the book to gain mastery.

Idiot #2 – The Teachers:

Our current system of pedagogy is faculty-led and follows a fixed curriculum. The average teacher assumes that there is one right answer and that (s)he knows the answer. It is the rare teacher who has the ability to facilitate rather than teach, to nurture rather than preach and to support students who stray from the well-trodden path in search of creative ways to learn. Boman Irani as Viru Sahastrabuddhe does a superb job of bringing to life a dogmatic, highly competitive, over-confident college professor – the antithesis of an ideal teacher in every way.

Idiot #3 – The Parents:

When India’s HRD Minister Kapil Sibal suggested scrapping of the 10th grade exams, parents were the first to stand up against the proposal. Parents want their children to be at the top of their classes, get admitted to the best colleges and follow traditional career options – engineering, medicine, management and the like.

Parents rarely encourage their children to discover their true passions and pursue mastery rather than mediocrity. The movie’s middle class Quereshis, who want their son to be an engineer, and the poorer Rastogis, who see education as a way out of poverty, are typical of today’s Indian parents. They would probably be the toughest nut to crack.

The 21st century calls for talented people who are masters in their chosen fields of work. It calls for collaboration among passionate individuals, from different disciplines, to address the truly challenging issues and opportunities that the world presents. The current assembly-line approach to education falls severely short. We are not equipping our children to succeed in their world. The appeal of the movie is universal and obvious.

But what will it take for all three of the constituencies above, as well as the student community to rally around to a new educational order? Please share your perspectives. We need to work together to bring about transformation in this vital area of our society.