Blog Directory CineVerse: October 2010

One movie that doesn't suck--then again, maybe it does

Friday, October 29, 2010

by Erik J. Martin

If you prefer a boxoffice bloodsucker with a little comic bite this Halloween season, sink your teeth into "Vampire's Kiss," a wonderfully weird flick that quickly became a cult classic following its 1989 release.

Oscar winner Nicolas Cage stars as Peter Loew (back when Cage was playing more daring, on-the-edge roles and establishing himself as Hollywood’s biggest risk-taker), a yuppie with a womanizing reputation. But Low gets his comeuppance right in the jugular from bedmate Jennifer Beals one night, and is gradually convinced that he’s become one of the undead.

Cage brilliantly transforms his character from egotistical suave bachelor to psychotic psychosomatic and, with his delightfully twisted performance, delivers some of the most memorably shocking images ever captured onscreen.

In one scene he pretends his sofa is a coffin by turning it upside down and lowering it onto himself. In another, he snarfs down a live pigeon. And who could forget the yummy moment when Cage actually eats a live cockroach?


That pesky Michael Myers is at it again...

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

by Erik J. Martin

Enjoy slasher movies? You can't go wrong with John Carpenter's "Halloween" this scary season. The original, of course, spawned a franchise that droned on and one with one bad sequel after another.

The second installment in the series, however, "Halloween II" (the INITIAL Halloween II from 1981, not the Rob Zombie-helmed remake from last year) is worth a look if this is your kind of genre. This follow-up to the original “Halloween” set the pace for all slasher sequels to follow.

Dubbed "The Nightmare Isn't Over!", "Halloween II" picks up exactly where the first movie leaves off: Michael Myers has escaped and the injured Laurie Strode is on her way to the hospital. And that white-walled setting is exactly where the Boogieman plans to strike next. No remote controlled bed can protect Jamie Lee Curtis from the masked one’s murderous mission -- to seek and sever Haddonfield’s favorite babysitter.

Sure, the script is Swiss cheese thin and the acting is far from Oscar caliber, but the flick has a certain brain dead appeal and laughably campy quality that makes it a B-grade cult favorite, despite its obvious outdated look and style. It's also Curtis’ last appearance in the series until "H20", 17 years later.


November/December 2010 schedule posted

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The new November/December 2010 CineVerse calendar is ready for you to access.

We've got a wide variety of films to explore over the next nine weeks, including westerns, thrillers, foreign favorites, holiday classics and more. To view, download or print out our new schedule, click here.


Is that a baby screaming...or you?

Monday, October 25, 2010

Tis the season for goosebumps...CineVerse concludes Shocktober Theater this week with an exploration of "Rosemary's Baby" (1968; 136 minutes), directed by Roman Polanski, scheduled for Wed., Oct. 27.

Note that this film contains graphic content that can offend some viewers. You are encouraged to read up more on it before attending.


Hitchcock for Halloween

The Oak Lawn Library will be showing the upcoming following film in its lower level meeting room (for more details visit

North by Northwest (1951) -- Thursday, October 28 at 2 p.m. & 6:30 p.m. -- In this Alfred Hitchcock thriller of mistaken identity, Cary Grant plays a hapless New York advertising executive who is chased across the country by foreign spies. Also starring Eva Marie Saint and James Mason. Rated: PG. 101 min.

Read more... spotlights CineVerse film group

Friday, October 22, 2010

Oak Lawn's Web site and its editor Lorraine Swanson recently posted a fun feature article on our CineVerse film group, including photos.
Lorraine visited us during our viewing/discussion of "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo" back on October 6 and wrote a very complimentary story about our group as well as the film itself.

To read this write-up, click here.


CineVerse moderator has a new column on

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Erik Martin, your CineVerse moderator, now writes a film review column twice monthly for's Oak Lawn Web site.

To view my debut column, which spotlights "Rosemary's Baby" and "North by Northwest," two upcoming classic thrillers to be shown in Oak Lawn over the next week, click here. is AOL's new hyperlocal community news portal with a dedicate site in various suburbs around Chicago, including Oak Lawn. To visit Oak Lawn Patch, click here. Please visit this site regularly for the latest news in and around Oak Lawn as well as a plethora of interesting features, columns and articles. And spread the good word to family and friends to check out


Enjoy classic cartoons and shorts at Spookview

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

If you've got young'ns, make plans to bring them to Spookview, Oak View Center's annual Halloween event for families, on Saturday, Oct. 23.

As is his annual tradition, CineVerse moderator Erik Martin will be present at the festivities showing classic cartoons and entertaining shorts themed around Halloween, projected on a big screen in one of the classrooms. Other events include hobbies/crafts, specially themed rooms, games and more.

For more details on Spookview, click here or ph
one (708) 857-2222.


A dash of suspense from France

Sunday, October 17, 2010

With Halloween approaching, CineVerse cordially invites you to attend Shocktober Theater--if your nerves can stand it!

Be with us on Wed., October 20 for a World Cinema Wednesday special from France: "Diabolique" (1955; 116 minutes), directed by Henri-Georges Clouzot--the film that inspired Hitchcock to make "Psycho."


The understated (and underrated) genius of "The Usual Suspects"

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

by Camiele White

(Note: This is a guest blog written by a fan of our site.)

The best trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist.

What can be said about a film that personifies the very essence of smooth? There are those films that are recognised for their exceptional plot, powerful cast, for their undeniable cinematographic excellence. Very rarely have there been films that have eagerly, and with style, embraced every aspect of film, giving the industry a taste of something truly spectacular. The Usual Suspects is a film that defies expectation, scoffs at clichés, and challenges an established order while still being an affair that both entertains and intrigues.

I won’t over-saturate this blog with clichés; I won’t give you a bunch of colloquialisms to describe the mastery of this film. Without having to go there, anyone can understand the beauty of this film. Every time you watch it, it continues informing you of its majesty. Forget a fine wine; this film is a straight double shot of Tequila --bright and voluptuous like the lady she resembles, but also rough and full of fire like the aftertaste of the Devil’s kiss.

With all its charm and sophistication, The Usual Suspects was a film that was destined to either stand the test of time as one of the most brilliant experiences captured on celluloid or to fade away in the annals of films that were good, but far from memorable. Fortunately, director Bryan Singer had enough foresight to do away with the pretentiousness of such films as Citizen Kane and Gone with the Wind and just give viewing audiences the pleasure of a film that only plays up its cinematography when the mood and space calls for harsh atmosphere.

Well, one can’t have adulation without giving some sort of reference. The first scene immediately sets the tone for what the audience is to experience: we’re on a docked boat in San Pedro. We see a faceless man in a trench coat and Fedora. He’s walking menacingly towards an injured man. The two have a short conversation before the injured man is shot to death and the boat set ablaze. The injured man is an exceptional con artist named Keaton. The faceless murderer: Keyser Söze.

From this point our story develops into something quite unexpected.

The narrator and star witness of our tale is an unfortunate cripple affectionately (or scathingly) known as “Verbal” (played with chilling authority by Kevin Spacey) --despite his shortcomings in stature and physical strength, he most certainly has an astoundingly loquacious gift. Before we leave the pier, we are given a slowly creeping close-up of a pile of ropes and ship fodder behind which sits our cowering storyteller. Throughout the film Verbal regales us with the adventures of this group of miscreants, led by Dean Keaton (played with sophistication by Gabriel Byrne) and including Michael McManus (Stephen Baldwin), Fred Fenster (Benicio del Toro), and Todd Hockney (Kevin Pollack).

I don’t want to trouble you with the entire plot of the film --if you’re up on your film history, you’ll have already seen this masterpiece. However, there are a few moments in the film that truly mark it as one of the greats. One of the most iconic is actually a film reel blooper that became ultimately became part of the finished product. The now infamous line-up scene in which each man is asked to step forward and repeat the line “Hand me the keys, you f---ing c---sucker!”

Fenster speaks some sort of mangled English, a characteristic del Toro adopted to add to Fenster’s awkward smoothness. During the shooting, Fenster steps forward and before he even gets the line out, begins to do his partners in crime. This scene had been started and stopped numerous times before Singer finally just went with it, creating one of the most hilariously brilliant scenes in cinematic history.

Of course, one can’t forget Verbal’s account of how the infamous Keyser Söze became so infamous. As a low-level dope runner, Söze wasn’t much to through a parade over. But, this, we find out, was simply his way of managing his anger and moving it towards something truly magnanimous down the line. A group of notorious bandits comes shattering through his world in an attempt to demand that he give over his business to them --they rape his wife and threaten his children.

When Söze walks in on the scene of his ravaged wife and frightened kids, the leader of the group immediately slits the throat one of his son to let him know that they meant business. So what does Söze do in retaliation? He shoots two of the hitmen without hesitation. The leader then grabs Söze’s daughter and puts the knife to her throat. At this point, you’d expect any man to cede defeat --not the Keyser. Instead, as Verbal tells us, “he showed these men of will what will really was.” He shoots his wife and his remaining children. Before he lets the leader of the pack go, he says “I’d rather see my family dead than live another day after this.”

Thus spoke Keyser Söze.

The Usual Suspects also produced one of the most twisted and mind-blowing scenes to ever hit the big screen. After telling his story in defence of his good friend, Keaton, Verbal is finally allowed to leave the police station. This is where the film gains its reputation as one of the most cleverly shot and acted in the world. Verbal, along with his unbelievable gift of gab, also has a keen eye for detail and an intelligence that most underestimate. While weaving his tale of what happened in San Pedro on that boat pier, Verbal has connected dots with details about the FBI office in which he’s being interrogated. From where the tacky board was manufactured (Skokie, IL) to the type of coffee mug (Kobayashi) that US Customs Special Agent Dave Kujan (played convincingly in style by Chazz Palminteri) is drinking from.

Each little nuance, each minute idiosyncrasy that even the trained eye would miss plays a part in the tapestry woven by Kevin Spacey’s Verbal. I don’t want to ruin the surprise; however, the mastery of the script, beauty of the photography, and the genius of the acting culminated in an ending that shocked audiences across the board --M. Night Shyamalan could learn a thing or two about plot twists. What Night attempts to set up in an entire movie (sometimes hitting, others missing), Singer manages to accomplish in the last five minutes of the film.

It makes one wonder about the artistry of the craft. Filmmakers are always, it seems, striving to win the ardour of a prestigious group of viewers that may or may not exist. I wonder if, perhaps, it’s possible to forget about the process and let the beauty unfold right in front of you --no pretence, no expectation. What if, my dear hearts, we were allowed to view something that had all the technical merit of am award-winning film but delivered a chill so unexpected that not even someone privy to the world of plot twist would be able to figure it out? What if we were all being put in the miraculous situation of being nothing more than serendipitous bystanders to a scene that was planned for us? The Usual Suspects forces the audience to accept that they are nothing more than puppets in the plot to disrupt the madness of expectation --expect the world to become a better place by the end? The ruthless truth is nothing is ever as straightforward as we’d like it to be.

Perhaps the most astonishing turn of events has yet to be played out for us. The Devil is smiling and holding the strings taut. Perhaps the best trick the Devil ever pulled wasn’t convincing the world he didn’t exist. Perhaps it was convincing the world to do his bidding for him.

And just like that [poof], he’s gone.

With bags under my eyes I write this. Films have the hypnotic tendency to take the sleep right out of me. Because of this, I have the curious habit of writing out screenplays in my sleep. Part of my fascination with film has bled over into the blogging world. From Korean horror to Ninja flicks, I keep myself awake watching and writing. Right now, I get my jabberjaw jollies writing about costumes for Halloween. If you want to give me a buzz, I can be reached at


The Great Potemkin

Monday, October 11, 2010

Two years ago this week, one of the most influential and unforgettable films in cinema history was explored by our CineVerse group: The Battleship Potemkin by Sergei Eisenstein, featuring the amazing Odessa steps sequence that changed film editing forever.

To hear that insightful discussion again, click here for the podcast.


Swing back with Astaire and Rogers

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Feel light and fancy free, classic Hollywood style, by coming to CineVerse on Wed., October 13 for "Swing Time" (1936; 103 minutes), directed by George Stevens and starring Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers.

We'll have time to kick off the evening with a preview of the November/December CineVerse schedule, too


Foxy and fantastic

Friday, October 8, 2010

The Oak Lawn Library will be showing the upcoming following film in its lower level meeting room (for more details visit

Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009) -- Monday, October 11 at 2 p.m. -- In this stop-action animated film, an urbane fox cannot resist returning to his farm raiding ways and then must help his community survive the farmers' retaliation. Featuring the voices of George Clooney, Meryl Streep and Bill Murray. Rated: PG. 87 min.


Baby talk

Thursday, October 7, 2010

The Oak Lawn Library will be showing the upcoming following film in its lower level meeting room (for more details visit

Babies (2010) -- Monday, October 11 at 10 a.m. -- A visually-stunning documentary that takes a look at the first year of four babies living in Mongolia, Namibia, San Francisco and Tokyo. Rated: PG. 79 min.


Put Chicago Film Festival on your calendar

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Enjoy fresh films from around the world? You don't have to go globetrotting to catch them--they'll come to your neck of the woods starting Thursday.

The 46th Chicago International Film Festival is right around the corner. This year's festival runs October 7-21. For more details, visit


Tattoo you

Sunday, October 3, 2010

CineVerse is proud to present one of the most talked-about movies of the last year. Make plans to be with us on Wed., October 6 for a World Cinema Wednesday special from Sweden: "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo" (2009; 152 minutes), based on the bestselling novel and directed by Niels Arden Opley.

Please note that this is a dark, disturbing film which contains a fair amount of graphic content. If you are easily offended or disturbed, you are encouraged to read up on it first before viewing. That being said, we hope you'll still join us, see it for yourself and judge it on its own merits. Also, because this film is 2.5 hours long, we will need to start it promptly at 7 p.m., which will still only allow for a very limited discussion time.


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