Archive for opium

‘Emerald City’ Premiere: Not your parents’ ‘Land of Oz’

Posted in Action, Fantasy, Romance, Sci-Fi, suspense with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 13, 2017 by aliciamovie


Reviewed by Alicia Glass

What person doesn’t know the film of Judy Garland as a bright little serial killer of witches, and her unlikely companions? Your parents’ Wizard of Oz has gotten a serious upgrade, with everything from an expanded-world story, to costumes that rival entire stage productions on their own. But how well does the upgrade stand up?

Way back when, Dorothy and her mom were on the run, from who knows what. Dorothy’s mom crashed a certain Gale residence during a bad storm, and after some story glossing, we gather Dorothy was more or less adopted by her Aunt while her mom was off doing we don’t know what yet. Current-tense twenty-something Dorothy (Adria Arjona) is a medical student, avoiding contact with her birth other, who’s now apparently trying to reconnect with her wayward daughter. One nasty tornado, worried daughter about her missing mother, and a police car with a trapped German Shepherd dog later, and Dorothy is spinning vertigo in a completely different land.

And of course, what’s the first thing that happens next? The cop car comes into contact with an exotic person in stripey orange, BAM. Dorothy and the dog get taken by some seriously not-so-friendly natives, not a Munchkin nor little person in sight. In fact, Ojo (Olafur Darri Olafsson), the man who ends up helping Dorothy on her way, towers over her in that Viking savage kind of way. No, these people are the folk of the Tribal Freelands, though of course at some point in the show they’re referred to as the “munjedkins”, so make of that what you will.

Despite his misgivings of Dorothy, for she apparently killed the “merciful and stern” Witch of the Eastern Woods, Ojo decides to lead Dorothy to a road that will take her to the Wizard if she follows it far enough, in the hopes that the Wizard can get her home. Getting to the road itself means going through the Prison of the Abject, a really unpleasant place that houses Ojo’s own wife, that the Witch of the East made. And then here we finally make it to the road, which is barely even brick, instead dusted yellow with poppy pollen. Poppy. You know, opium? Oh yes, the Lollipop Guild is far away now.

Dorothy is striding down the road and comes across a man being crucified in a field, who of course she has to help down and at least tend to his injuries. The man claims to suffer amnesia, not even remembering his own name, so Dorothy names him after the home town back in Kansas she misses fiercely, Lucas (Oliver Jackson-Cohen). And as Dorothy and the newly-named Lucas take back to the yellow poppy road, they discover the Witch of the East isn’t entirely dead.

I’d like to state for the record that, while I understand the Witch of the East Woods was a savage and stern woman, the manner in which she actually did die was seriously incongruous and unlikely for a Witch of her potential caliber. Anyway, the upshot is, those ruby-and-gold clawed gauntlets the East Witch was sporting transfer to Dorothy at the moment of her death, which is interesting, because the power players of the show spend a lot of the premiere stating “only a witch can kill another witch”.

Meanwhile elsewhere, news of the death of the East Witch (Florence Kasumba) has spread very fast, and the Wizard (Vincent D’Onofrio) in the Emerald City is opening the sealed Witches’ Temple so her remaining sisters may give her a proper funeral. The Wizard also sent some of his personal Guard to check out the circumstances surrounding East’s death. But the opening of the Temple is a big deal, as it hasn’t been opened since the death of the Witch or Mother of the South was felled by this catch-all monster called the Beast Forever, and the Wizard ordered the place sealed up and outlawed magic entirely. Because somehow the Wizard did what no one else could, not even by magical means, and took out the Beast Forever himself.

Mother-Witch of the North, Glinda (Joely Richardson) of the chaste army of nun-like acolytes, and her opium-addicted whore of a sister, Witch of the West (Ana Ularu), converge with the Wizard to do a last “sing” for their sister of the East in the Temple, and also to pull off some kind of subterfuge right under everyone’s nose. Needless to say, the actual funeral of Sister East is rather unusual, even for Oz.

Elsewhere on the road, Dorothy’s concern for Lucas’ bleeding wounds lead her to the hovel of the Herb-Witch Mombi (Fiona Shaw), who happens to be keeping a young boy prisoner for some odd nefarious motives. And of course it turns out, this boy has a few peculiar secrets of his own.

We do Emerald City a disservice if we try to compare it to anything else, up to and including the original Wizard of Oz, or the current favorite catchphrase about the show, “Game of Thrones meets Wizard of Oz,” because the show obviously has its own mythos and backstories. They want rather desperately to give us a grand show and pack in as much of the world as possible, but its all for naught if we just don’t care about the characters.

I liked the interplay between the Wizard, (love me some D’Onofrio too) and the strikingly different Witches, their costumes, like everything from the original stories got polished or roughened elsewhere; the show has the potential to be something great. Give it a chance, and remember, Return to Oz was a very different take on the whole Oz world, but most of us loved that too. And a shoutout to L. Frank Baum too!

Transport yourself to Emerald City on NBC, Fridays @ 9/8c!

Movie Moxie’s 31 Days of Halloween – Day 10 – From Hell

Posted in Action, drama, Historical, horror, Movies, Romance, suspense with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 14, 2013 by aliciamovie


Reviewed by Alicia Glass

Studio: 20th Century Fox

MPAA Rating: R

Director: Albert & Allen Hughes

Review Rating: 8

Inspector Abberline and Scotland Yard, supported by a bevy of saucy women of the night, probe the killings of Jack the Ripper as he terrorizes London!

There are several completely inescapable facts about this movie, and it helps that I happen to be a fan of all of them. To begin with, we have Johnny Depp as Abberline himself, chasing the dragon (that’s a euphemism for drug use folks) to help bring him visions of the killings. I do like the irony. Then there’s the fact that the movie was done by the Hughes brothers, famous for such films as Menace 2 Society and The Book of Eli. Heather Graham, all dolled up in red hair, plays love interest and spunky whore Mary Kelly. And don’t forget the last fun fact – that the true purported bad guy of the film is played by Ian Holm, of so much fame it’s hard to know where to begin, but the best parallel between that character and this one has to be Lord of the Rings, the first one. And Robbie Coltrane is Abberline’s helpful partner, Sergeant Peter Godley, which is an interesting name choice.

So, the streets of London are cold and dark, the whores have to fend for themselves against “protection rackets” and men who mean them harm, and don’t forget, Jack the Ripper is now out there too, with his grapes and his knives. Watching Abberline follow the trail left behind is made much more interesting with the dreamy scenes of opium aid, which was probably the point. Jack’s madness, when Abberline finally comes across him towards the end, is clearly demonstrated in his fanaticism of anatomy and supposed aid to his fellow physician. Or is it? The film presents an interesting twist on the whole idea of Jack the Ripper – it’s generally acknowledged that the crimes were never technically solved, but rather Jack terrorized the London streets and disappeared into the eerie fog. There are more than a few theories about who he was, and the film presents one or two of them, finally settling on a Master Freemason and fellow physician who apparently only has the best interest of a certain Prince in mind. Done like a real life murder mystery, set in a very dark gothic Victorian London and starring a very fine cast, From Hell certainly has, as they say in the movie, the address right!