Martha Marcy May Marlene or: How a Brainwashed Woman Isn’t the Best Guest For a Family Vacation

Martha Macy May Marlene

Before you ask yourself, “wait, there’s another Olsen sister who acts?” know that yes there is, and yes, she is phenomenal as a paranoid and mentally damaged woman from a former cult in first-time director Sean Durkin’s ‘Martha Marcy May Marlene.’

The film tells the story of Martha (Elizabeth Olsen), a young woman who seeks retreat from her small cult by spending a few weeks with her estranged sister and her husband on a lakeside manor in Connecticut. The film, which cuts between Martha’s initiation and time spent in a small rural cult, to her present struggles with her sister, as Martha battles painful memories from her previous home.

Although the backbone of the film are the strong performances by Olsen and her sadistic cult leader, played by John Hawkes, there is also much praise that should be given towards the screenplay.  The dynamics in which Durkin’s script are able to parallel Martha’s time spent with the cult to her present day paranoia is very well done. However, the film seems to be building upon a big climax, but seemingly never gets there, and by the end it leaves the viewer with a few more questions that should’ve been touched upon.  Although the ending of the film isn’t as strong as the rest of it, this is still a great film, which should be seen by lovers of independent cinema as well as those who enjoy a good psychological drama.

I give ‘Martha Marcy May Marlene’

3 ½ out of 5 Scorsese’s


Zombie in a Penguin Suit – Short Film Review

Watch this first:

“Zombie in a Penguin Suit” is a beautiful, extremely well done, zombie film. I hate zombie films. Honestly I feel like trying to put out any sort of horror/survival zombie flick is one of the most redundant things a filmmaker could do these days. It’s every students first feature, there’s hardly anything ever original about them, the genre has been exhausted ten times over, and I am just sick and tired of seeing them continue to pop up. Not even George Romero can pull them off anymore. However, for director Chris Russell, this is not the case. In fact I wouldn’t even call “Zombie in a Penguin Suit” a zombie film. I would say its a toss-up between either a twisted dark comedy or a modern zombie-esque noir film.

The short film is pretty much just a moment in time when a poor soul gets infected by your run of the mill zombie horde, all the while he is wearing this ridiculous penguin suit. It is insane the amount of character and depth that is added due to the zombie wearing this suit. It’s hilariously twisted, but also very solemn at some times. Especially the very first sequence, where all you see is the subtle transition from the human eye full of life, to the deathly zombie eye full of… death. I felt the sadness of it without even seeing the characters face first, it was awesome. Then immediately after, it is revealed that this poor victim has died in a humiliating penguin costume. From that point on, I couldn’t help but chuckle at the shots you see of this penguin man gnaw into the leg of a soldier, tackle some one on a stairway, and waddle his way through the wake of devastation.

I must also point out the beautiful imagery and cinematography put into this short film. The shots in the church, the crosses, and the field of flowers shots were just stunning. Speaking of the church scene, wow. I thought it was a very well done emotional turn around in the story, and showed me a whole new part of this zombie afflicted world I could’ve swore I’d known inside-out.

Afterwards, our penguin fiend waddles a little longer until he finds himself twice as decayed, and some how in the middle of a newborn suburban neighborhood(which I’m interpreting as society building a new home for themselves away from the infection?). It’s very interesting to me, what Russell does here. It obviously implies our penguin hero is about to be shot in the head, but instead of just showing it happen(like how a million and one typical film students would have done it), he lets it linger, ending the film with an eerie, sad, uncomfortable stare contest between you and Mr. Undead Happyfeet. It’s also notable that when you see him enter this area, half of his brain is showing and his hood is down, which was a great way to show that the character we knew before is now totally absent, and at the end of his road. The zombie in a penguin suit gives you one last gaze and roll credits.

It was a very cool experience to watch, and established in only 7 minutes! The team even managed to create a sense of nostalgia, rolling what seemed to be home movie footage of the zombie during his time of living. The music was also pretty good, it fit well, giving you the common ingredients of piano, cello, and some pizzicato, put together to sound like what I felt I’ve heard before in almost every other silent indie film I’ve ever seen. Nonetheless, the short film was very well done, the entire crew pulled it off, and most importantly, it was able to make me feel a connection with the story. So I say a tip of the hat to Chris Russell, and their whole production team. For more information, check out their facebook, and they also have a website.

I give Zombie in a Penguin Suit:

3.5 out of 5

Paranormal Activity 3 or: How They Did the Same Thing Again Yet Managed to Pull it Off

Aside from the praise I give this franchise for starting out with a groundbreaking first film, which was made on a shoe-string budget, it’s already in my good graces because it’s my favorite genre of horror: the psychological thriller.
Now, this third film in the franchise is a prequel to the first two films, taking place almost two decades before them. Shot in a way to mimic pro-grade camcorders from the 1980’s, viewers aren’t given the crisp HD picture or the nice resolution of a home security camera in which we saw in the first two films. However, this turned out to be one of the thing’s that was most enjoyable about the flick. The grainy texture from the mock-video tapes that the events of the movie were shot on adds an element of realism and helps boost some of the tense and scary scenes.
Another thing that was done well was the overall simplicity; it took some of the main elements from a good psychological thriller and weaved them in to fit with their plot. Now a lot of people across the interwebs are griping about the big climax and the last 20 minutes of the film. And it’s understandable how it could be a love it or hate it ending, but for what it’s worth, the last 20 or so minutes are by far the scariest in all of the first 3 films.
If you haven’t seen Paranormal Activity or Paranormal Activity 2, you won’t be completely lost, as ‘3’ works as a nicely plotted horror flick, but if you have seen the first two, it will leave you with less questions at the end, and works as a great tie in for this initial trilogy. However, with the way this film ends, and the fact that this franchise will continue to rake in money, I don’t see this being the end to Paranormal Activity.
Here’s to hoping they can pull it off a few more times.

I give Paranormal Activity 3

3 out of 5 Scorsese’s

The New Slang Blog – The Beginning

Thanks for visiting the newslangblog: a site for two aspiring filmmakers to post their reviews and opinions on the music and media we are given today. If you’re a filmmaker, artist, blogger, musician, entrepreneur, or every day citizen — or more than one of these — I hope you’ll find the upcoming content useful.  With that I’ll just say again that these are just our personal reviews and opinions, and do not reflect the opinions or likeness of any others that may be mentioned on the site.

You’re probably asking yourself, “what do you mean ‘we’? You’re not just one guy?”.  That is correct.  We are in fact not one but two people.  I, whose words you are reading at this moment, am Eric Brown(Eric Brown Cinematography, Siravo, Young Folks Comedy).  I am an aspiring filmmaker, freshly starting off a production company, and in the hobbies of making music.  NewSlangBlog frontman number 2 would be Jonathan Carmelia(Young Folks Comedy, nohaven).  I’ll let him indulge in himself when he writes his post later on.

newslangblog will feature new posts as often as things come out, to stay in the know, subscribe to RSS, or find me on Twitter or Facebook.