Autodidact: self-taught



by V. L. Craven


Eddie Morra (Bradley Cooper) is a writer with a contract to fulfill and he’s not writing. Or doing much of anything else, really. (Sponging off your girlfriend isn’t exactly a job per se…)

Said girlfriend (Abbie Cornish) has enough and breaks it off. Eddie crosses paths with his ex-brother-in-law Vernon (Johnny Whitworth). Ol’ Vernon used to be a drug dealer but now he’s on the straight and narrow. Yes indeedy, he’s corporate, though still pushing drugs. Just, you know, the legal variety.

He gives Eddie a sample pill to try that will sort out his problems. He gives Eddie the line about how we all only use a micron of our brains and how amazing it would be if we used 100% , which has been debunked already and only makes me rage out a little but whatever.

Eddie takes the pill and whizzbam he’s using all of his brain and making connections between everything he’s ever seen/thought/smelled/heard/licked.

I ask you, what person wouldn’t go back for more.

Remember how Vernon said he’d gone corporate? Well, Vernon was a bit of a fibber.

Eddie winds up with a sizable amount of these suckers. But he also winds up on the radar of some people who want those pills. The sorts of people who break off your body parts and then feed them to you.

But Eddie has a plan. And his plan lands him right in front of Robert De Niro. (That’s intentional–it could be a bad thing, but in this case it’s what he wants.)

Hey, you know what’s a GOOD thing? The FDA. You know what you shouldn’t do? Take drugs that haven’t been thoroughly tested by them. Because you don’t know what will happen to you or your brain!

Limitless NZT

Congrats! You’re ALREADY using 100% of your brain! :confetti!:

I know I was a bit heavy on the snark up there, but I really enjoyed Limitless. The visuals were pretty, the acting was excellent, it was unpredictable.

This is a bit of a quibble but it bothers me: Why doesn’t the drug have a street name? Why does everyone call it NZT? Every other illicit drug has roughly fifteen slang terms. Why isn’t it called…I don’t know… Clarity? What with it being clear and it giving the user absolute clarity. People would call it Claire for short. ‘You seen Claire around?’ ‘Nah, man, she ain’t been around in awhile and I miss her. I can’t find any of my socks. Like, none of them, brah.’

It’s a television show now and I understand from a friend whose opinion I trust that it’s quite good. I haven’t seen it, but I definitely give the movie 5/5.



by V. L. Craven


Bill Williamson (Brendan Fletcher) is a 23-year-old white guy with no prospects, no ambition and no savings. His parents would like him to do  something with his life and, at the start of the film, they say they’ve discussed it and he should move out. He’s old enough to support himself.

He has a terrible day where the world just generally gets on top of him and well, Anton Chekhov said: ‘Any idiot can face a crisis, it’s this day-to-day living that wears you out.’

Bill Williamson just gets worn out. The little things that make up day-to-day living build and build.

He suits up in a truly impressive set of homemade armour and a small arsenal and heads downtown to begin his assault on the general population.

Then we get to the titular rampage which is remarkably dull. Unlike other films where the white guy snaps and starts killing people (Falling Down, He Was a Quiet Man) there’s no catharsis. It just goes on for an exceedingly long time and becomes tedious.

That section wasn’t particularly graphic for what it was, it was just…boring. (Though there was one part that was laugh out loud funny and a welcome break from the oddly tedious horror.)

But Williamson isn’t done. He’s not a punk–he’s not going to get shot by some cop. He’s smarter than the average mass murderer and he has a plan.

It’s actually a pretty good plan, I must admit.

'...and gosh darn it, *I* like me!'

‘…and gosh darn it, *I* like me!’

Generally I enjoy a good, ‘That’s it , that’s the last straw and now the world is going to burn!’ sort of film. Everyone has those days when they want to destroy the neighbourhood (right?, I hope so or I’m in trouble). And overall, I did like this one, but not for the rampage scene. That was the part I actively dis liked, which isn’t what you want in a film called Rampage.

I mean, when you see a film is by Uwe Boll, you know you’re in for a good time. I should have just been happy it didn’t make me throw up in my mouth. But I also expected more from him somehow.

I did like it, but it was pretty nihilistic (this is a plus for me, but will make some people hate it). Pollyannas beware. I’d give it a 4/5.



by V. L. Craven

Stoker Film Poster

After high school student, India Stoker’s, father dies suddenly her uncle, Charlie, arrives out of nowhere. He endears himself to Evelyn–his brother’s widow–straightaway, but India distrusts him. It’s odd that she’s never even heard of the man until her father’s funeral. However, the longer he’s around, the more intrigued she becomes. Other people are equally wary of the man, as well, but their objections aren’t heard, as they all seem to disappear rather quickly.

You want dark secrets? You can have them. You want a tense what-the-hell-will-happen atmosphere? Here you are.

Stoker  is sort of American Beauty for psychopaths.

The script is by Wentworth Miller (yes, the guy from Prison Break–it’s his first writing credit, as well–nice one.) The cinematography is gorgeous and the visual effects are stunning. The sets are appropriately elegant and the soundtrack is a perfect complement.

Both Matthew Goode and Nicole Kidman are good, but Mia Wasikowska’s India is fantastic. She reminds me of a cross between Wednesday Addams and Darlene Conner in all the best ways.

If you liked The Bleeding House you’ll probably like this and vice versa.

And the posters were great. Have another.

Stoker Poster 2

Emily Wells’ ‘Becomes the Color’ is the song that plays over the end credits. I’m in love with it just a little.


The Last Winter

by V. L. Craven

The Last Winter poster

Indenpent environmentalists are sent to gauge the  possibility of a drilling operation in the Arctic Wildlife Refuge in the middle of winter, where the temperatures are fluctuating wildly and it’s raining. In February.

Some members are more interested in getting rigs in to give America energy independence, whilst others would rather protect the environment. When one member is found naked and frozen near a test well that had been drilled two decades before one of the characters thinks it’s the Wendigo (which is the subject of a spectacular Algernon Blackwood story ). Another hypothesis is that it’s sour gas that’s seeping up because the permafrost is melting and it made their colleague insane.

After another character dies under odd circumstances they decide to go to the nearest hospital, but the plane coming to get them has some difficulties and they wind up stranded.

Last Winter Still

Whatever the hell it is causes hellacious hallucinations and homicidal tendencies. One-by-one the members of the group get separated and Bad Things happen in different ways.

The Last Winter is one of those films that leaves a lot up to the viewer–it’s the sort of film you can watch with friends and discuss what it’s actually about. If you dislike ambiguous endings you’ll want to avoid this one. The ambiguity is what saved it from being typical Hollywood fare, however, if it had been revealed as being aliens or the environment or even an evil force bent on destroying humanity for no reason it would have been mediocre. Overall I’d give it a 8/10.

Oh yeah, and there are ravens. Always a good sign.


Six Strangers Wake Up in a Room…

by V. L. Craven

Hilarity ensues.

Wait, no, Horrible Things happen.

Cube: The first strangers-in-a-room film I saw and I thought it was a brilliant concept. Seven strangers awake in a cube. None of them know how they got there or why they’ve been taken. Each of the walls of the cube has a door that leads to another cube; and they soon find out that some of the rooms are booby trapped. Occasionally, the room seems to move and they work out that they’re in one room of an even larger cube. The goal becomes getting to the edge of the larger cube. There are two others in the series and they’re all right, but can’t compare to the first.

Hunger:  Five people awake in a cave-like room with a clock on the wall that shows time in 24 hour periods–the clock moves once per day. There are thirty marks on the clock. The strangers only have to make it thirty days with a few barrels of water. They’re being observed by a person who wants to see what happens to people’s humanity in that sort of situation. Hint: All of the bad things.

Exam: This one is a bit different from the others on the list, in that the characters intentionally walk into the room in order to complete the final portion of an intensive interview process. So they know why they are there, but they still don’t know who their interviewer(s) are. Each candidate is given one sheet of paper, one pencil, a set of instructions and then told to answer the question set before them. The paper is blank so they have 80 minutes to work out both the question and the answer. What transpires is a sort of live-action escape-the-room game, if you were playing with other people with whom you were also in competition for a prize. This one was the most suspenceful, and well-written.

Die:  Six people, all of whom are suicidal, awake in a room. They’re each in a glass cell and can see the others. They’re brought out, two at a time, into the middle of the room. One is strapped to a chair, the other must cast a die and, depending on the number that comes up, must then administer a punishment to the one in the chair. It winds up being about a cult of people who’ve been ‘saved’ from suicide and ‘reborn’. It’s all a bit ‘I’m sorry? Je ne comprends pas.’ I suppose the writer was trying to make it about something other than a psychopath mentally and physically torturing people.

(Seriously, if there’s an ensemble comedy where a bunch of strangers wake up in a room, please leave a comment.)

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