Friday, August 30, 2013

Worth Mentioning - Enduring Fear at Home and Abroad

We watch several movies a week. Every Friday, we'll talk a little about some of the movies we watched that we felt were Worth Mentioning.
 
 
Cody enjoys some horror with Jay and watches Charley Boorman race.
 

 YOU'RE NEXT (2011)

An idyllic family get-together for the Davison clan - parents Paul and Aubrey, sons Crispian, Drake, and Felix, daughter Aimee, and their children's significant others Erin, Zee, Kelly, and Tariq - quickly becomes a nightmare when their nice, country vacation home is besieged in the night by a trio of killers wearing creepily innocuous animal masks (a tiger, a lamb, and a fox) and armed with various implements of murder including crossbows, machetes, and axes.

"The animals" killed the Davison's nearest neighbors the night before, and the Davisons are next.


As the killers set out to pick off the group of loved ones one-by-one, they realize they have more than they bargained for on their hands when Crispian's girlfriend proves to be very capable at handling herself in a situation such as this. As it turns out, she was raised on a survivalist camp in the Australian outback by a paranoid, conspiracy nut father. This girl was taught how to take on the forces of the apocalypse, three random psychos aren't going to take her down without a fight.
 
A Horrible Way to Die director Adam Wingard and writer Simon Barrett reteamed to tell this slashery home invasion horror tale, a simple story that is executed very well and bolstered by a cast that includes Re-Animator's Barbara Crampton, Hatchet II's A.J. Bowen, mumblecore poster boy Joe Swanberg, the Soderbergh-endorsed Amy Seimetz, indie and genre supporting filmmaker Larry Fessenden (who was similarly ill fated in Session 9), The House of the Devil writer/director Ti West, and Lane Hughes, a frequent collaborator of our own Jay Burleson.
 
 
Sharni Vinson has been getting a lot of attention in the press for her performance as the ass-kicking Erin, and for good reason, as she makes for a great, likeable, tough heroine who has the audience behind her all the way.
 
The film takes some interesting twists and turns and features some alternately disturbing and crowd-pleasing, cheer-worthy moments of ultra violence, not to mention a commendable display of nudity in the opening sequence and some awesome '80s-style synth music that really kicks in on the soundtrack when Erin is in full warrior mode.
 
You're Next is a fun time in the theatre for horror/slasher fans, I saw it with a group of people that included Jay (we finally met in person after knowing each other for 14 years online) and we each enjoyed it. In fact, our viewing was Jay's second time going to see it, and he liked it even better on watch two.

 

RACE TO DAKAR (2006)

Shortly after circling the globe on motorcycles with his friend Ewan McGregor for the documentary miniseries Long Way Round, Charley Boorman felt the need to go on another motorcycling adventure and fulfill a dream he had had since childhood: he was going to compete in the annual Dakar Rally. Like his ride around the world, his experience in the Dakar would be documented from start to finish.

The resulting seven episode series is an engrossing, stunning, detailed on-the-ground look at perhaps the biggest, most intense endurance race in the world, shown from the perspectives of Boorman, fellow riders Simon Pavey and Matt Hall, and their support team.

The route taken on the Dakar has shifted throughout the years, but it was the same in essence when this documentary was filmed during the run that lasted from December 31, 2005 through January 15, 2006. Over those sixteen days, only stopping to rest for very short periods at the end of each leg, hundreds of riders either on motorcycles or ATVs or in cars or trucks sped across the land from their starting point in Lisbon, Portugal, racing through Spain, crossing over from Europe into Africa, and continuing on through Morocco, Mali, Mauritania, Guinea, and ending up in the final destination of Dakar, Senegal, 9000km from where they started. The route took them along paved roads, down dirt tracks, and straight across the desert, through rocky sand and over treacherous dunes.

By following a handful of characters, the documentary shows us several different ways the race can turn out for a rider. The majority of racers do not make it to Dakar, dropping out along the way for a variety of reasons. We see injuries, accidents, breakdowns, and even take a moment to pay tribute to a rider who was tragically killed in the race. We see what it's like for riders who get their bikes stuck out in the middle of the desert, and we see the thrill of those who make it to the finish line. Many people spent their live savings to get a chance to have this experience, with the hope that they'd make it to the end but with the knowledge that the odds were against them.

It's fortunate that this series was made when it was, because the race no longer exists in the way it did at that time. Though the Dakar still goes on, it's no longer truly a race to Dakar. Since its inception in 1979, its routes had taken it through Africa, but the 2008 race had to be cancelled due to safety concerns and terrorist threats. Beginning in 2009 and still to this year's edition, the Dakar has been held in South America, its routes running through Argentina, Chile, and Peru.

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