|The Story of Bonnie and Clyde - Unrated||
Oh fucking please. Hillary Duff in THIS role? (snickering, vomiting.)
"And NOW ladies and gentleman, JULIUS CAESAR with Kevin Federline!"
No, wait! Macaulay Culkin!!
I want to see Hillary Duff in an explicit, uncensored bio of Savannah.
|May 21, 2013||N/A|
|The Town That Dreaded Sundown - R||This is a great docu-drama about what happens to people who don't pull their blinds at night.||May 21, 2013||N/A|
|Aegri Somnia - Unrated||
AEGRI SOMNIA (2008), Independent
WRITTEN AND DIRECTED BY: James Rewucki
FEATURING: Tyhr Trubiak, Mel Marginet, Warren Louis Wiltshire, Nadine Pinette, Daryl Dorge, Johnny Marlow
TAGS: psychological thriller, puzzler
RATING: 7 PINTS OF BLOOD
PLOT: A man is hounded by his peculiar friends and haunted by disturbing visions in this stylish, formalist horror thriller.
COMMENTS: Light on plot, heavy on atmosphere, Aegri Somnia, which means literally, a sick man's dreams, is an offbeat, optically stunning, independent effort by Winnipeg director James Rewucki. Effective, yet foreboding and almost visually overpowering in the way it pours across the screen like the gush of a blood bucket accidentally kicked over onto a canvas, Rewuckie describes the film as being an existential arthouse horror movie. Fans of German expressionist filmmaking will draw comparisons to Nosferatu and The Cabinet Of Dr. Caligari. David Lynch enthusiasts will immediately be reminded of Eraserhead.
In the story, Edgar (Trubiak) is a simple man, cowed by his surroundings, scared of his own shadow, seemingly terrified by ... life itself! Edgar is hostage to a morbid, crippling anxiety. In Egar's outlook, the very world seems a giant machine which seeks to grind up Edgar in its gears and mash him beneath its wheels, to consume and obliterate him.
Edgar just wants to be left alone, to go to work and come home to seek the refuge of a peaceful evening in the security of his own domestic surroundings. But it's not to be.
Edgar's coworkers, who seem normal on the surface, reveal themselves to be creeps; quiet lunatics who either marginalize Victor, or manipulate and victimize him in the course of bizarre exploits. Edgar's wife is a hostile nag, his boss is verbally abusive, and everyone around Edgar tries to draw him into unpleasant, precarious situations.
When Edgar's shrewish wife prepares a nice supper for him, unfairly berates him, then kills herself in the bathtub, Edgar is plunged into a waking nightmare of heightened anxiety, loneliness and frightening what-if's?"
Edgar falls captive to malignant visions. In the shadows, unsettling shapes are lurking, and from them, dreadful whispers emanate. Edgar's acquaintances cryptically speak in code and symbolic double entendre, alluding to .. what? Something awful. At night, monsters visit Edgar in sickening nightmares. Why?
What is happening to Edgar? He has somehow managed to crack open a door between this world, and some twisted, alternate dimension of the next. It's a dreadful door that should have remained shut. Can Edgar find a way to close it again? Or will this new, loathsome reality continue to envelop Edgar until it swallows him up?
Aegri Somnia is an optically engrossing bit of modern art, and it bears obvious influences from other films. Plot-wise, it's an odyssey, in a similar vein to Carnival Of Souls (1962), but there's dialogue, and more twists and turns. Like Darren Aronofsky's Pi (1998), it's a surrealistic story about a man struggling to keep his sanity. A final plot twist is right out of Angel Heart (1987).
Aegri Somnia is captured in black and white with periodic dramatic accents of crimson. Color sequences chronicle Edgar's hallucinatory nightmares. The movie is filmed in a gritty, plodding, semi-documentary style, as if the camera is an appalled, mute witness. The resulting effect is strikingly reminiscent of David Lynch's Eraserhead (1977). Edgar's entrapment among hellish creatures of abomination reminds us of In The Mouth Of Madness (1994). The digital special effect of rapid head-shaking is prominent throughout the film. We first saw this in Jacob's Ladder (1990), and since in fare such as the remake of House On Haunted Hill (1999).
Many movies openly sport such borrowed elements en masse, and too often they amount to little more than pasted together fragments of better films. Significantly, this isn't the case with Aegri Somnia! Director James Rewucki concedes his cinematic influences. And it's true that Aegri Somnia says nothing profound. It's a visual exposition. Yet Rewucki imaginatively employs well-worn conventions and techniques to produce a memorable horror movie which feels fresh despite it's derivative roots. And it's so visually dramatic!
Aegri Somnia is unusual, disturbing, grotesque, and genuinely arty. Unsettling characters, eerie settings, and oddball events provide a bizarre experience akin to riding through some gruesome funhouse. But we don't dare step out of the carriage until the end. We want to see where the ride takes us. Imaginative frames and images persist in the mind's eye like negative aftervision, long after the tab of the final film strand disengages and flap-flap-flaps against the empty reel.
I give Aegri Somnia three pints of blood for its story, which I subtract from ten for its visual impact. So overall, 7 PINTS OF BLOOD.
|May 16, 2013||N/A|
|The Kid Stays in the Picture - R||
PR, spin doctoring, whitewash, damage control, the perpetuation of Hollywood's favorite brand of mythology, and self aggrandizement are the order of the day in this nevertheless highly entertaining auto-"biographical" documentary by and about, Robert Evans, who had one of the longest careers in the business. But people in the know from Paramount have a slightly different version of the events chronicled in this film, such as the Roy Radin murder, which Evans allegedly commissioned and paid for.
Fun nevertheless, especially if you like to believe that anyone can break into Hollywood show biz given the right amount of luck,
|May 14, 2013||N/A|
|Bad Timing - R||
I'm going to refer to my friend Steve's review on this one except to add that Theresa Russel looked an awful lot like Amy Irving then, and Tatum O'Neal now.
Oh, and Theresa Russell shows snatch in this.
|May 14, 2013||N/A|
|My Winnipeg - Unrated||May 14, 2013||N/A|
|John Dies at the End - R||May 14, 2013||N/A|
|The Mesa of Lost Women - Unrated||May 7, 2013||N/A|
|À Meia-Noite Levarei Sua Alma (At Midnight I'll Take Your Soul) - Unrated||May 7, 2013||N/A|
|Night of the Hunted - R||May 4, 2013||N/A|
|Mørke sjeler (Dark Souls) - Unrated||
Mørke sjeler aka DARK SOULS (Norway, 2010)
WRITTEN AND DIRECTED BY: César Ducasse, Mathieu Peteul
FEATURING: Morten Rudå, Kyrre Haugen Sydness, Ida Elise Broch. Johanna Gustavsson
GENRE: HORROR, SCI-FI
TAGS: thriller, mystery
RATING: 5 PINTS OF BLOOD
PLOT: A father tracks down an enigmatic mass murderer who infuses a pathogen into his victims' brains. It causes them to slowly rot as their bodies produce a profusion of an oily black vomitus.
COMMENTS: A toolbox killer is running loose in Oslo with a nasty drilling habit. After screwing a hole in his victims' skulls, he injects something strange into their brains which kills them. But not for long. They come back to life, their gradually rotting bodies producing a mysterious new hydrocarbon, like crude oil, a foul, caustic, bilious substance which they vomit up in great abundance.
When his daughter (Broch) is found dead with a drill hole in her cranium, Morten (Ravn) receives a call from the police requesting him to identify her body. But he can't, he answers, there must be some mistake. She's perfectly alright, right here at home, just came in the door.
But Morten's daughter Maria is anything but alright. Her face is rotting and she's barfing oil. When perplexed doctors ask to experiment on her, Morten decides to take Maria back home, covering all his furnishings with protective plastic to guard against her, um, frequent spills. Brain damaged, deranged, Maria stumbles about the apartment and stares blankly at the dinner table, repeatedly banging her spoonful of mashed potatoes into her cheek and forehead instead of into her mouth.
Meanwhile, the victim count rises as the mad driller strikes again and again throughout Oslo. Following a chance encounter in which the culprit attacks Morten, Morten, with Maria in tow, begins tracking the maniac. Morten discovers a ghastly connection to a sinister North Sea, deep drilling oil disaster, as he unearths a bizarre, nightmarish, dark plot.
Dark Souls is a Norwegian effort, and North Seas oil production is a major nationalized industry in Norway. Eighty percent of Norwegian petroleum production is owned by the government, which retains 85% of net petroleum revenues. The Norwegian government effectively distributes the benefits of its oil wealth, regionally and throughout its population. Due also in part to a generous social welfare system, an equitable labor relations system and a progressive tax system, Norway can boast one of the lowest levels of income inequality in the world.
The benefit comes at a cost; Like any country, Norway has had its share of shameful petroleum mishaps, from the June 2000 Project Deep Spill, the first ever international deep sea oil spill, to the more recent 2007 Statfjord oil spill, and the 2009 Full City oil spill. Norway has strong government oversight of oil exploration and extraction. Citizens expect accountability from their governing bodies. Controversial courses of action by Norway's Ministries of Industry and Petroleum and Energy have been the subject of major environmental protests and lawsuits. An example stems from the Norwegian government's go-ahead for continued Arctic drilling despite appalling, hazardous 2007 and 2008 StatoilHydro leaks in the Barents Sea.
It's little wonder then that Norway's Dark Souls' finds its inspiration in the viscous black well of its own petroleum industry. The film's prominent themes are familiar ones. The concept of environmental bad karma and mysterious substances which once ingested, wreak recombinant DNA havoc strongly smack of movies we've seen before. To wit: H.G. Wells' The Food of the Gods (1976), The Children (1980 and 2008 -previously reviewed here), and The Stuff (1985). In each of these films, malignant industries go too far in the name of greed. Fallout ensues in the form of a grotesque backlash where monsters dole out horrid retribution upon the society which passively stood by while corporate outrages were committed against nature.
Some subtle tongue-in-cheek posturing lets us know that Dark Souls doesn't take itself too seriously, yet it is never campy or silly. The film manages to combine some chills with delightfully disgusting revulsion. Featuring an abundance of Steadicam shots, Dark Souls imposes a close-in, almost documentary-style, gritty feeling, without straying into the realm of cheap "found footage" style movies. While more mysterious and eerie than horrifying and scary, Dark Souls is a first rate production with a few memorable scenes, and a refreshing lack of a Hollywood-requisite "happy ending."
|May 2, 2013||N/A|
|The Family Way - Unrated||
Wow does this one ever have low marks on Flixster. I'm getting it for my aunt. She won't like it. She hates everything. Just like MIkey on the Life Cereal Commercial. And you know what happened to Mikey. Heh Heh.
(He became the butt of an urban legend about pop-rocks and soda. But now I'm REALLY digressing. )
I on the other hand want to see Hayley (convulsively hunches shoulders and scrunches up face in vulgar, extremely Freudian nervous tick) Mills and her bare bottom which may be, like Sharon Stone's crotch in Basic Instinct, the reason this film was ever produced in the first place, though I hope not.
Short review of this and a report on how many times my Auntie says, "This movie is really stupid!" (every movie I like or recommend to her) forthcoming.
|April 26, 2013||N/A|
|The Echo - R||
THE ECHO (2008)
WRITTEN BY: Eric Bernt. Shintaro Shimosawa. Yam Laranas, and Roy Iglesias
DIRECTED BY: Yam Laranas
FEATURING: Jesse Bradford, Amelia Warner, Carlos Leon, Iza Calzado, Kevin Durand, Louise Linton, Jamie Bloch, Pruitt Taylor Vince
TAGS: mystery, puzzler, thriller
RATING: 6 PINTS OF BLOOD
PLOT: The new resident of a damned tenement falters at the edge of sanity after moving into his dead mother's apartment in this preachy thriller.
COMMENTS: At last! One of those rare scary movies that's actually scary! With strong shadings of Charlotte Perkins Gilman's sinister short story, "The Yellow Wallpaper" (also the 1989, 2011, and 2012 films by the same title and based on the story), and the notorious 1964 New York City Kitty Genovese slaying (link), The Echo is Yam Laranas's Americanized re-shoot of his disturbing 2004 Philippine film, Sigaw.
I've only glanced at the eerie original, but this remake appears to do it justice, faithfully capturing Sigaw's essence and polishing it up with a respectable budget, along with English language, and settings which are accessible to a wide western audience.
Here's the setup: Freshly paroled from prison where he was incarcerated for manslaughter after killing an attacker, Bobby (Bradford) takes up residence in his dead mother's apartment. The impressive masonry edifice, a dismal, run-down, East Greenwich Village behemoth, is gloomy and dilapidated. Sunlight never enters here!
Long shadows accentuate labyrinthine corridors. From worn, ancient, squeaking wooden floors, crumbling dingy plaster walls thrust upward toward cavernous-high ceilings. Passages illuminated by vintage light fixtures recede to vanishing points. Creaking iron service doors open to off-limits spaces unknown. Condensation runs and drips along old pipes. Hollow voices echo through air ducts and sooty incinerator chutes. This is a building which time has passed by. Yet it is eternity in these halls. Sighing, heaving, creaking, breathing, sweating, the structure is an entity unto itself. The very building reeks with secret malice and seems a conspirator to the events which are about to unfold.
Bobby's mother died violently and mysteriously after an equally mysterious, prolonged illness. Nobody can offer any explanation, but his mother's linens (Bobby's bed now) is saturated with her dried blood.
Bobby returns home from his first day on a new job only to be stalked though the hallways by a crazy, testosterone-poisoned cop who turns out to be (joy!) his new, wife-beating next door neighbor. Troubling, discordant noises such as infernal scratching, annoying scrapings, whispers, odd thuds and slams from ... somewhere (perhaps the apartment on the other side of a strangely damaged wall?) plague Bobby day and night. Nobody else hears them! At least not at first.
Then there's a creepy little waif who haunts the hallways and lingers outside Bobby's door, incessantly hammering out a discordant harmony on a toy tin piano. A peeping-tom across the light well is watching Bobby from behind a disheveled curtain.
Bobby's new apartment is the flat from hell.
But what can Bobby do? He has zero resources, no money, and no place else to go. Struggling under the constraints of the parole system, he must tread a narrow line while under a cloud of suspicion. Bobby has little choice but to ride out the situation. Dealing with his new circumstances, coping with grief and uncertainty over his mother's death, Bobby tries to rebuild his life, but it's not easy.
Bobby is regarded with suspicion at his new auto-mechanic job, gets the cold shoulder from fellow tenants, and even his former girlfriend with whom he attempts to rekindle his relationship, is decidedly nervous around him.
Worse, Bobby begins to unearth upsetting clues about his mother's last days -which she spent locked in a closet, shuddering in terror. But from what? Finding anti-psychotic meds, Bobby concludes she was mentally ill. But she may not have been the only one. Bobby starts suffering from terrifying hallucinations They don't only intrude when he's brooding in his mother's dark and lonely apartment. They start to follow him to work.
Is Bobby going insane? He has to get out of that horrible apartment. It reeks of death. Nauseating liquids are running out of the closet where his mother perished terrified and alone. The crazy intrusive sounds are getting louder and becoming more upsetting. Finally, even a neighbor is questioning Bobby about them.
The problem is, with his dubious past Bobby possesses limited credibility. Bobby's version of reality doesn't jive with that of his neighbors or the building super. His landlord thinks he's nuts when he reports the bizarre disturbances. And now bodies are starting to pile up. Bobby's doing? The police wonder. Even bobby is no longer sure.
The Echo's storyline develops in methodically deposited increments, like a slow burn. It lulls us into a trance, and when that mood is broken by frightening developments, they're all the more startling. Plotted like a mystery, the continually shifting boundary of reality keeps the viewer perpetually guessing as to what's going on. The Echo is thick with an unsettling atmosphere. Interiors are dreary and claustrophobic.
Bobby's apartment is hiding something, but there's not enough light or space to get a fix on it. yet the cinematography is crisp and forthright. We clearly see everything that Bobby can see. This pulls us into the film and we feel like we're trapped in the dilapidated abode right alongside Bobby. Importantly, good character development makes us interested in Bobby. We want him to survive. We want him to get out of that awful building ... but he can't!
One of my criticisms of The Echo is that the some of the victims victimize good guys and innocent parties. There's no logic to this and it confuses the story.
My other complaint is that, typical of too many popular scary movies, the backstory and motivation for the antagonists amounts to a cheap appeal to the hysterias of the day. An example of this is the 1997 film, The Devil's Advocate, in which attorney Kevin Lomax (Keanu Reeves) refuses at the end to defend a child molester client he thinks is guilty.
The Echo employs the same method. The convention makes the story's driving incident overly convenient in a contrived sort of way. It produces gratuitous melodrama. There's something corny about this kind of plot seed. The technique dates cinema when we retrospectively look back at it.
In the Victorian era, a familiar villain was the gentleman who was also a secret fiend. In literature, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and The Picture of Dorian Gray are examples, which played well to European audiences who were subject to the class system. The fact that until the 20th Century the upper crust could abuse the powerless with legal impunity was a very real dread.
In the US in the 1950's to '60's the monster of the day was the communist. Then in the '70's, the drug pusher. The '80's and '90's brought increased alarm over the pedophile, followed by the terrorist. The perpetrator of domestic violence, however real and timeless, is another recently popularized boogieman.
Real-life brutes and miscreants have been with us throughout history. Which type is en vogue at any given period, and selected to be the focus of heightened vilification in popular culture, shifts with changing times. The wife-beater features prominently in The Echo. The result is preachy.
On the other hand, director Yam Laranas's utilization of such a convention won't make the film inaccessible to a general audience. With its restraint from violent splatter and heaving breasts, The Echo is suitable for most viewers. And with its genuine chills, strong sense of impending danger, and a tingly spattering of ICK! factor, The Echo delivers the level of fright we expect, but too seldom receive from a scary movie.
|April 23, 2013||N/A|
|The Killer Inside Me - R||
THE KILLER INSIDE ME (2010)
WRITTEN BY: John Curran based on the novel by Jim Thompson
DIRECTED BY: MIchael Winterbottom
FEATURING: Casey Affleck, Ned Beatty, Elias Koteas, Tom Bower, Simon Baker, Bill Pullman, Kate Hudson, and Jessica Alba
GENRE: CRIME THRILLER
Tags: violent, brutal, disturbing
PLOT: In this brutal tale of sadism, masochism, mother-son incest, and corruption, a violently psychopathic sheriff entangles himself in an intriguing web of deceit, madness and murder.
COMMENTS: This is the second film based on Jim Thompson's lurid, violent novel. The jacket caught my eye, but I almost didn't rent it when I saw that Jessica Alba was in it. Then I decided to gamble. Wow! What a good movie! And even Jessica Alba is well cast as a whore. Failure in the role is not an option for her.
The Killer Inside Me is a convoluted, salacious crime thriller and character study about a small town sheriff's deputy named Lou Ford (Affleck) who follows his own rule book. And his rules apply to his willingness to embark on any endeavor that feels good or is self serving. The development of Ford's character is hideously captivating,
From the start of the picture, Ford is the essence of mannered propriety, good breeding and poise, but we gradually start to glimpse what lies beneath the veneer when novel, stressful situations chip it away. Ford is sinister, dangerous maybe. He mocks his friends by responding to stupid or annoying questions with abject platitudes. He cruelly burns a bum with a cigar when asked for a handout. Ford always wears a becoming smile and never has a hair out of place.
What's interesting though, is that as calculating and prepared as Ford is, he overlooks some shockingly obvious details in undertaking his clandestine schemes. How long will his benefit of the doubt nod from fellow law enforcement protect him? He is clever, yet not all of his mental circuits seem wired together. The dichotomy is compelling to watch.
The constable allows himself to be drawn into a bit of intrigue involving a prostitute and a rich boy, but turns the tables on his conspirators to settle an old score. The problem is, he botches it, opening a can of worms. All successive attempts to remedy the mistakes drag Ford deeper into an increasingly bizarre quagmire. Some non-linear plot-elements keep us in the dark and allow the plot to unfold as a mystery, making this brutal, very violent story as engrossing as it is twisted and disturbing.
I want to read the racy, gritty noir novel upon which this film is based, the 1952 The Killer Inside Me by Jim Thompson. I understand it made a sensation in the world of fiction. In terms of being cleverly written, imaginative and being well-received, the novel sounds akin to No Country for Old Men, by Cormac McCarthy.
It is also interesting to note some plot and setting similarities between The KIller Inside Me and the Coen brothers', Blood Simple. In that story, a self-serving Texas private eye drags the central characters into a nightmarish, ever deepening morass of lies and deception to cover up a crime.
The Killer Inside Me was also made into a 1976 film with Stacy Keach, and directed by Burt Kennedy. Michael WInterbottom's 2010 version is a wonderfully well-produced, hard-hitting movie, but I cannot yet vouch for the quality of its adaptation of the novel.
The Killer Inside Me (2010) really impresses me. It doesn't have that hoakey Hollywood feel that makes you think the producers have you pegged for a moron,. The movie kept me in suspense, kept me guessing, and made me wince repeatedly. Despite the lead being a ruthless psychopath, the story is told from his point of view and it is difficult to resist the urge to care about his character. This makes the viewing experience even more uncanny.
This was a believable, hard hitting movie, an insightful character portrait of a psychopath and the morass he gets himself into by giving into that textbook-typical psychopathic impulsiveness/impetuousness. The Killer Inside Me is lurid and racy, with no stupid "happy ending." In fact, this story had one of the best endings I have ever seen in a crime film, a real sitck of dynamite.
The Killer Inside Me (2010) - international trailer
|April 23, 2013||N/A|
|The Double Hour - Unrated||
THE DOUBLE HOUR (2009) Italian, English subtitles
WRITTEN BY: Alessandro Fabbri, Ludovica Rampoldi, Stefano Sardo
DIRECTED BY: Giuseppe Capotondi
FEATURING: Ksenia Rappoport, Filippo Timi, Antonia Truppo, Gaetano Bruno, Fausto Russo Alesi
GENRE: GENRE BENDER
TAGS: Noir, puzzler, thriller, mystery, romance, supernatural, horror
RATING: 8 PINTS OF BLOOD
PLOT: After surviving a gunshot wound to the head, a woman is haunted by apparitions of the dead and visions from what seem to be an alternate, but parallel version of her life. Her perplexing afflictions are in some way grounded in a personal relevance, but instead of clarifying to her what has happened, they further darken the murky conundrum into which she inexorably spirals in this smoldering, claustrophobic thriller.
COMMENTS: Wow! This story really kept me guessing and thinking in Guiseppe Capotondi's stylish, haunting mystery wrought with paradoxes and disturbing plot twists. Capotondi cleverly wields suspense and uncertainty so as to merge the lead character's unfolding impressions with our viewing experience in such a way that I found myself drawn into her to nightmare as if it were my own.
Strong performances glue The Double Hour's convoluted, anomalous elements together into a cohesive, atmospheric mystery. Stars Filippo Timi and Ksenia Rappoport won 2009 Venice Film Festival awards for their roles. Armchair sleuths will find themselves put to the test to try to untangle a twisty path of clues in The Double Hour. With a finale; similar to The Butterfly Effect II, everything comes together in the end with no red herrings, but even the most intrepid brainteaser trailblazer will have to lift the double bill of his deerstalker cap to scratch his brow in consternation after the 20 minute mark.
The Double Hour takes it's name from those times during the day when the numerals designating hour and minutes match. Such as 10:10, or on a 24 hour clock, 22:22. In The Double Hour, these instances hold a special significance: it's rumored one can wish on them and the wish will come true. They seem to figure prominently in Sonia's (Rappoport) life, coinciding with strategic events.
Sonia is a chambermaid working in an upscale hotel. She is hounded is by the proximity of bizarre occurrences. After a hotel guest in a room assigned to Sonia leaps off her balcony as she is speaking to Sonia, Sonia takes up romantically with a man, Guido (Timi) employed to guard a wealthy absentee land owner's estate. While there visiting Guido, professional criminals raid the manor, and hold Guido and Sonia hostage while they loot the mansion of art treasures. Events run awry when Guido tries to protect Sonia. A shot is fired, and everything goes black. It's unclear what happened.
This is where The Double Hour, already a romance and now a crime caper, completely departs from what the viewer is expecting and plunges into the realm of the eerie and bizarre. The film takes up with Sonia back at work at the hotel as if nothing has happened, but clearly her world is incipiently sliding off its axis. Sonia's life shifts back and forth between light and dark, with a maddeningly indiscernible, sickeningly deliberate design. Phantasmal apparitions and unnerving coincidences begin to gaslight the moments of her day, appearing at those times marked by double digits on the clock.
Disquieted again and again by contact from the other side, Sonia questions her interpretation of reality. How far can we trust our senses to tell us what is real? At what point does subjective experience part from objective truth? Like a Gordian-esque tangle of thread unraveling from some bedeviled funeral shroud, Sonia's effort to decipher her burgeoning enigma is predicated by a series of uncanny twists and turns, each successive development hurtling all that has preceded it into uncertainty.
As Sonia drifts through a limbo, The Double Hour deftly, seamlessly crosses multiple genre boundaries, from mystery, to horror, to thriller, keeping us off balance and agitated. Just as we begin to draw conclusions, the storyline bends and splits yet again down another unexpected course.
Do our lives co-exist on parallel planes, where mere chance causes outcomes to diverge into differing pathways? If we could wish to reverse tragedies, could things ever really be the way they were knowing what we know now? Be careful what you wish for. We can only watch powerlessly as Sonia discovers whether or not destiny compels those alternate pathways to converge with an eerily vexing prearrangement upon the manifestation of The Double Hour.
|April 18, 2013||N/A|
|Lie Still (The Haunting of #24) - R||
LIE STILLaka The Haunting Of #24 (2005)
WRITTEN AND DIRECTED BY: SEAN HOGAN
FEATURING: Tim Barlow, Robert Blythe, Susan Engel, Granville Saxton, Nina Sosanya
TAGS: Occult, mystery
RATING: 5 Pints Of Blood
PLOT: When a young man moves into a boarding house with a checkered past, the very edifice itself seems to reel him ever deeper into its morbid history.
COMMENTS: Sean Hogan put himself on the Screaming Room's radar as a name to watch in the horror genre by producing and co-writing/directing the horror anthology, Little Deaths (2011), the review of which appeared here last October. Hogan also wrote the 2009 film, Summer's Blood (aka Summer's Moon.) Lie Still represents an earlier effort at an indie feature film. It demonstrates Hogan's penchant for gloomy settings which hover ominously like winding sheets over a boundary between fantasy and reality that is always disturbingly malleable to his troubled characters.
In Lie Still, Martin (Blythe) is a new tenant in an out of the way, seedy boarding house, far removed from his obscured, but evidently turbulent past in downtown London. Seeking a quiet setting away from bad influences where he can straighten up and figure himself out, Martin moves in under a caveat from the landlord (Laing) that the other residents are similarly taking refuge from the mainstream. It's a quiet building. Silence is the rule here. Nobody likes to be disturbed. The other renters keep to themselves, the landlord cautions Martin. Martin would be well-heeled to follow their example. But where are the other tenants? They really do keep to themselves. Martin hears them but never actually sees them. Except for one.
And this is more or less agreeable to Martin, who finds the landlord a little creepy and presumptuous, having sized up Martin as for the ideal guest and predicting his acceptance of the lease. But Martin is barely settled in before someone leaves him a note commanding him to "Leave!" Matters deteriorate from there.
The elderly woman down the hall (Engel), the one accessible neighbor, warns Martin to get rid of his television, but won't tell him why. She tires to none-too-subtly seduce him. Unsettling noises in the middle of the night and around the home's secluded grounds, a backyard grave that is unconventional to say the least, someone determined to enter his room at night, and the vanishing of his visiting girlfriend add to Martin's growing sense of unease. So does a disturbing photograph of the building's original owner which hangs in Martin's room. Like the very house itself, the portrait seems to take on a life of its own, its subject, face mysteriously obfuscated in shadow, approaching ever closer with each passing day.
But does it really? Or is the perpetually agitated Martin's own stressful and unfortunate past merely catching up with him?
Lie Still doesn't break fresh earth in the funeral plot of the horror genre by offering surprising insight into those situations where a character is either being haunted, or slowly going mad in an oppressively possessive old house. The film does do a nice job with the idea however, without being frivolous or feeling worn and familiar.
Well executed on a micro-budget, surreal dream sequences and genuine chills sauce-up Lie Still's claustrophobic framing and mausoleum-esque interiors like a shot of strong formaldehyde. Its dingy optical footprint renders the picture delightfully reminiscent of one of those older, made for BBC television horror productions. This dark, shroud-like filming quality makes Lie Still a good pick for a rainy Saturday afternoon, and since Lie Still achieves its aims with no nudity or gratuitous splatter, it's a good one to screen for the kids and teens, while remaining sufficiently sophisticated to clammily grasp the attention of older audiences too.
|April 18, 2013||N/A|
|Sinister - R||
WRITTEN BY: C. Robert Cargill and Scott Derrickson
DIRECTED BY: Scott Derrickson
FEATURING: Ethan Hawke, Juliet Rylance, Fred Dalton Thompson, James Ransone, Michael Hall D'Addario, Clare Foley Rob Riley
TAGS: mystery, crime, occult
RATING: 6 PINTS OF BLOOD
PLOT: A true crime writer ventures down a dark path when he finds home movies of a serial killer's crimes.
Note: This is NOT a "found footage" style movie!
COMMENTS: True crime writer Eillison Oswalt (Hawke) moves to the gloomy rural home and grounds of the victims of an horrific mass murder to investigate the crime. He finds that the murderer is not only surreptitiously spying on and stalking him, but has left a box of snuff movies in the attic for Oswalt to find. The grisly movies detail past mass murders committed by the killer. Contending with hostile local authorities, a reproachful wife (Rylance), and a son (D'Addario) bedeviled by bizarre night terrors, Oswalt delves headlong into the macabre film library.
As he does so, Oswalt soon discovers a horrible link between all the victims. It appears the killer has been active for half a century. As Oswalt probes further, he becomes increasingly disturbed and gruesomely obsessed. Unable to keep his perspective, Oswalt entangles himself in a sticky web of horrific intrigue which puts him and his unknowing family directly into the killer's cross-hairs. As he starts to doubt his sanity, Oswalt must toe the increasingly blurry line between reality and fantasy. Or is it something more?
Sinister takes the familiar serial killer-as-real-life-boogeyman concept in a fresh direction. While it's not a shock-you-out-of-your seat type of scary movie, Sinister proffers up a foreboding atmosphere of oppressive dread, dark as black-strap molasses -or congealed blood. Yet we're compelled to wade into the morass; we must see what happens. There are some genuine, chills and artfully conceived, spooky occurrences.
Oswalt's bickering wife and his son's puzzling sleepwalking episodes contribute only slightly to the plot. The overall idea behind the movie however, comprises a creative treatment of the serial killer/boogieman idea which is redemptive because it's enjoyably imaginative and creates clever twists and turns. Refreshingly, the characters are all driven by credible motivations and their actions are logical. In other words, Sinister won't insult your intelligence, and it's not predictable or run-of-the-mill.
There's some buzz in the media that Sinister is a "found footage film." I emphasize that this is not the case. The Super8 home snuff films which Oswalt discovers become an integral part of the plot. The story itself is conventionally filmed and competently crafted. Sinister is not another Blair Witch Project style movie.
The murders are ghastly, but not explicit, and Sinister is not a stalker flick or a splatter film. Suitable for a general audience of horror fans, yet sophisticated enough for the hard-to-please. I confer upon it an honorable and above average rating of six pints of blood.
|April 18, 2013||N/A|
|Some Folks Call It a Sling Blade - R||
SOME FOLKS CALL IT A SLING BLADE (1994)
WRITTEN BY: Billy Bob Thornton
DIRECTED BY: George Hickenlooper
FEATURING: J.T. Walsh,. Billy Bob Thornton, Jefferson Mays, Suzanne Cryer, and Molly Ringwald,
GENRE: CHARACTER STUDY
TAGS: drama; weird; disturbing
PLOT: A mentally retarded double murderer chats with a diabolical fellow inmate before being interviewed by a newspaper reporter on the day of his release.
COMMENTS: In this short film predecessor to Sling Blade we observe a day in the life of a criminal mental patient who is on the verge of social repatriation. Karl Childers (Thornton) chats with a fellow inmate in an institutional dayroom. Meanwhile, reporter Teresa Tatum (Ringwold), is waiting to interview Childers.
Tatum, who is working on a feature exploring the controversies of releasing criminal patients back into society, pontificates frivolously at long length with a companion (Cryer), then spars with a hesitant and quirky chief hospital administrator (Mays). Eventually, we are allowed to see Thornton's skillful performance as Childers when he explains to the reporter the circumstances of his crime. This interim would be a dreadfully uninteresting time filler were it not interspersed early-on with several astounding segments in which J.T. Walsh plays the part of a funny, congenial, but very scary psychotic killer.
The annoying Molly Ringwold, an actress of very modest proportions, puts us to sleep with a vapant reprisal of her even more annoying Claire Standish character from the sophomoric teen angst hit, The Breakfast Club. Dressed in period clothing, she embarrasses herself and the viewer who is expected to believe that he is watching a real newspaper journalist rather than Molly Ringwold playing Claire Standish while dressed in period clothing.
The real show stopper however is JT Walsh. Walsh, an underrated and highly skilled character actor commandeers the entire production with his disturbing portrayal of psychotic murderer Charles Bushman. In between sequences in which we must endure an onslaught of Ringwold's vapid line effluency, Walsh delivers a peerless performance,
As Childers waits to be interviewed by Tatum, Bushman approaches him, sits down to relax, and casually commences an appalling autobiographical monologue of personal anecdotes. Playing Bushman with subtle, but masterful voice control and facial expressions, Walsh describes a couple of sexual encounters and an abduction as casually as if he were talking about cars, (which he also talks about -I'll never look at a Mercury the same way again.)
Harrowing and repellent, Bushman's stories and persona are diabolically funny and perversely charming right up to the devastating point at which Bushman viscerally describes just how much he enjoys ripping out a woman's uterus and devouring her wet, glistening cervix. Walsh's characterization is so sublime and convincing that it must surely set some new dramatic standard.
This unusual speech, with its gruesome climax, is sobering and sickening. It thrusts home the idea that the criminally insane may not really be very interesting or colorful past the initial impression -unlike in the movies. They are sick, shabby people who can quickly reveal just how perverted and fucked up they are inside. More importantly, the crux of the Bushman segments reflects on Tatum's hypothesis that the criminally insane might not be suitable penal candidates for release back into society. To wit, Bushman represents the sort of influences to whom Childers has been subject while locked up.
Walsh's gem of a performance is one of the most striking and memorable bits of character acting that the average movie viewer is likely to see. It is creepy and powerful and completely disarming because it is simultaneously casual and matter of fact. Audiences have been shortchanged to have not been treated to a broader range of this very talented thespian's work prior to his death. His role in Some Call It A Sling Blade, along with Billy Bob Thornton's, make this independent project a good film pick for anyone who can stomach the subject matter.
|April 18, 2013||N/A|
|The Seventh Victim - Unrated||
THE SEVENTH VICTIM (1943)
WRITTEN BY: Charles O'Neal and DeWitt Bodeen
DIRECTED BY: Mark Robson
PRODUCED BY: Val Lewton
FEATURING: Kim Hunter, Tom Conway, Jean Brooks, Isabel Jewell, Evelyn Brent, Erford Gage, Ben Bard, and Hugh Beaumont
TAGS: noir, occult,
PLOT: A woman tries to locate her missing sister who has vanished under sinister circumstances.
COMMENTS: The Seventh Victim is eerie without being violent or explicit. The film creates a tensely pernicious, balefully enshrouding atmosphere of dread. Relying on the power of allusion, insinuation, and the visual presentation of rich, black mattes, The Seventh Victim's singular story and guileless treatment of verboten subject matter sets it apart from modern movies when compared to current methods of creating horror.
When Mary Gibson (Hunter) ventures to Manhattan in search of her missing sister Jacquelin (Brooks), she enters a foreboding world of corruption, poison, mental illness, knife-wielding assassins, murder and suicide. It seems that dear ol' sis stopped paying Mary's tuition, and so Mary, bright and full of hope sets out to determine her whereabouts. But none of Jacquelin's friends have seen her.
We see her though. Jacqueline is striking and somber under her jet black hair and sharply planed bangs. Quiet, watchful, morose, her captivating visage thrusts onto the screen like a stiletto with her grave countenance and almost funereal presence.
Mary locates and enters her sister's apartment. She finds it unfurnished except for a hangman's noose suspended over a chair. It's not an encouraging development. Worse, Mary discovers that without asking for payment, Jacqueline signed over her successful salon and cosmetic business to a -well, shall we say to an assertive, independent woman with whom she had an evidently rather chummy association. Being made in the 1940's the film declines to further explore the exact nature of that relationship. But is seems there is a locked room at the cosmetics facility and Mary wants to know what's in it.
In trying to find out, Mary runs into a couple of private detectives who are looking for Jacqueline too, one of whom issues a warning and one of whom winds up dead. Before you can say, 'speak of the devil,' a shady doctor (Conway) shows up who knows all about Jacquelin, but isn't saying much. He's scared of something. Something unspeakable. And he knows that "sinister" means "left," but he sure isn't keeping to the right.
In addition to the doctor, there are some mysterious professional types in the area of Jacqueline's last known whereabouts. They all know each other, knew Jacqueline and are aware of something else. But what? They sure are tight lipped. Just what is everyone so afraid to talk about? And why do they all dress to the nines, some of them in black, to meet in a dimly lit apartment late at night?
The Seventh Victim is a spooky film noir made with wonderful use of black and white film's deep range of subdued tones. The cinematography creates a veritable study in angular shadows, gritty textures and plush charcoal, chocolate tints. Basement cafes grace the screen with low angle lighting. Street lamps' luminescent oases punctuate a sheet-like viscous velvet of gloom.
Distinctive about the The Seventh Victim are it's dark atmosphere, even for a noir, and its refusal to conform to Hays Commission requirements in its frank, unconventional treatment of a variety of morbidly taboo material. An eerie shower scene precedes Robert Bloch's 1959 novel Psycho, and there are some hints at subversive feminism. Even the film score ends on a minor key. All of this is pretty racy for 1943, making The Seventh Victim a unique, precursor to the noir genre.
The character of Dr. Judd appears again in Val Lewton's Cat People. Actress Jean Brooks was thought to be quietly married at one point to Erich von Stroheim. Despite a couple of principle roles, stardom eluded her. Brooks's unique presence was never adequately exploited by Hollywood. The thespian's later years are as enigmatic as some of her characters. Fading into the billowing silver mists of off-screen obscurity, Jean Brooks's after-cinema life is shrouded in mystery and alcoholism. Her premature 1963 death in Costa Rica was overshadowed by the Kennedy assassination, and went unrecorded in Hollywood.
The Seventh Victim - trailer
|April 18, 2013||N/A|
|Sigaw (The Echo) (The Scream) - Unrated||April 18, 2013||N/A|
|Eat Pray Love - PG-13||
I'm not interested and here's a qualified explanation why:
I skimmed Liz Gilbert's book when it came out four years ago. Oprah Winfrey devoted not one, but two episodes to it. (Thank goodness for Oprah: she tells us what to think, what to read, who to vote for, when to laugh and when to cry. Is there anything she doesn't know?)
I just had to confirm my suspicions that Eat, Pray, Love is superficial, pointlessly full of unwarranted, cherubic, optimistic exuberance, not particularly thoughtful or well written, and on about the same intellectual level as a cheap plastic Tupperware dish of cold corn mush. I was right. I remember thinking at the time that the book looked more like a lengthy script treatment for some dumb Julia Roberts movie than anything of real feminist value. Right again as it turned out.
Gilbert is possibly a simpleton (or a self- marketing genius) who immediately put me off by vilifying her poor dud of a husband. It was his long hours that generated the divorce capital by which Gilbert was unjustly and sufficiently enriched to finance her idiotic, new age grand tour/spiritual journey, and sophomoric, narcissistic mission of shameless self promotion.
Portland's feminist BITCH magazine columnists Joshunda Sanders and Diana Barnes-Brown note that Gilbert's vacation, er I mean journey of self discovery, is allegedly conceived to achieve "a goal of of spiritual, existential, (and) philosophical enlightenment." As they point out, however, Eat, Pray Love and other books like it suggest that such feminist self actualization is professed to stem from women's committed patience and diligence, but that in fact the only real obstacles are financial and social. Sanders and Brown conclude that Gilbert's book, which offers no real solutions, would have been more appropriately entitled, "Eat, Pray, Spend." BITCH - link
I do so enjoy the new, red tinted, alternate version of the Eat, Pray,
Love movie poster recently unveiled during Julia Roberts' appearance on David Letterman's The Late Show. It features Julia's character in a low cut V-neck presenting bountiful cleavage, and clutching her twelve year old son face-first into her bosom. I wonder what Freud would have had to say about that? I really like where this movie could have gone!
|April 18, 2013||N/A|
|Intolerable Cruelty - PG-13||
My aunt, god bless her, who I had thought would have loved this movie, didn't get many of the lawyer jokes in this one. I thought it was very good. There were some general jokes that were very good too which were subtle enough that I bet a lot of people didn't catch them.
So typical too, that the specialist type can't be objective in his own specialty when he himself becomes involved.
Now I want my subscription to "Living Without Intestines!"
|April 18, 2013||N/A|
|The Ladykillers - R||
I love anything Coen Brothers. I haven't seen the original so I can't comment on this as a remake, but found it,quite good.
Goldthwait Higginson Dorr's monologues were hilarious.
Of course since this is a comedy, I predicted in the first fifteen minutes that in the end, the money would HAVE to be A)scattered to the wind at the end, or B) utterly wasted and squandered.
I turned out to be right in a way, on both counts.
Just once I'd like to see the schemers get to keep the money.
|April 18, 2013||N/A|
|Love and Other Drugs - R||
And Anne Hathaway's boobage.
|April 18, 2013||N/A|
|The Double Born - Unrated||
THE DOUBLE BORN (2008)
WRITTEN AND DIRECTED BY: Tony Randell
FEATURING: Sammi Davis, Jon Lindstrom, Jake Bern, Alex Weed, Jenny Dare Paulin, Lindsey Girardot
GENRE: PSYCHOLOGICAL THRILLER
TAGS: occult, mystery, horror
RATING: 6 PINTS OF BLOOD
PLOT: A pair of psychotic young men form an unhealthy alliance with a disturbed woman who is convinced they are linked from beyond the grave to her dead child.
COMMENTS: They say misery loves company, but in The Double Born, so does mental illness. When a frenzied woman named Sophonisba (Sammi Davis) hires 20-somethings Harry and Tommy (Bern and Weed) to help out around her homestead, she has more in mind for them than a little painting and rail splitting. So too, do the demented duo, who it turns out are quite simply not right in the head. Tommy and Harry have an odd hobby, one that plays on their less than wholesome fascination with pointy things.
Sharp poiny things.
Desperately seeking pregnancy after mourning the disappearance and presumed death of an earlier child, the buxom Sophonisba seduces the boys.
Over and over!
Sensing that Tommy and Harry have a supernatural link to her first born, she forces them to participate in peculiar occult rituals during which Tommy and Harry exhibit a talent for enabling Sophonisba to channel the spirit of her astray issue. It turns out Sophonisba is dead right about Tommy and Harry, but not in the way she thinks. Like sediment precipitating to the bottom of a septic tank, the temarious trio settles into an uneasy alliance founded on sex and overlapping but mutually exclusive obsessions. Isolated, unsupervised, Tommy, Sophonisba, and Harry, court and taunt each other far removed from the intervention of sounder minds. Inevitably, their contrary interests erode their unstable amalgamation, plunging them into an Arcadian bedlam.
With The Double Born, Tony Randell, who directed Hellraiser II, brings us a gritty, Southern Gothic style story, which is depraved and upsetting in the tradition of Sam Shepard's 1978 Pulitzer-winning play, Buried Child. Randell claims The Double Born is based on Bram Stoker's darkly perverse short story, "The Dualitists; or, the Death Doom of the Double Born." Antagonists Tommy and Harry are indeed inspired by the Stoker story's knife-wielding blatherskites, but then Randel's screenplay U-turns, taking a major departure from its namesake.
Sophonisba is a road-worn trailer-court version of Tennessee Williams's Blanche DuBois, and the charred soul, dejected supporting characters are right out of a Nelson Algren novel. They are cast in the desolately rustic setting of William Faulkner's white-trash classic, "A Barn Burning," and silhouetted against a tallow candle-lit, deep mountain isolation fright factor in the tradition of Southern horror writer Manly Wade Wellman's Appalachian hoodoo occult stories.
The Double Born is a small budget independent effort with grainy photography, selectively muted chromatography, and serpentine, sequences of intimately close shots. These elements combine with dingy lighting, gloomy skies, and remote settings, way, way out miles from any corrective influences.
The aura all of this creates is unsettling. It is born of the film's micro-financing. Randell's cinematic style is a bit reminiscent of early German Expressionist cinema. Those films made up for a lack of lavish funding by employing art design that featured geometric exaggeration, and patterns of brightness and shadow painted on walls and floors to represent lights, shadows, and objects. Like The Double Born, those Expressionist plots were often themed on madness, and betrayal.
Randell presents his picture with claustrophobic tight frames, low angles, and innovative visual exposition, such as a scene shot directly through Sophonisba 's fortune teller crystal ball. The action unfolding on the other side of the crystal orb becomes eerily inverted. The effect is foreboding; the characters' perception of their own reality is backwards as well.
In The Double Born, the constant sparring and mutual provocation of perverse libidos and volatile psyches creates a tension which is like watching miscreants toy with matches atop a powder keg. There's an undercurrent of sexual pressure and the lurking, ever present specter of schizophrenic violence ready to cut loose at any time. Randell ladles out this disturbing menu in measured portions, delivering his story with a maddeningly plodding, deliberate pace. The effect is like trying to constrain water from a fire hose with a bathroom spigot. Something has to give eventually, and when it does you just know it's going to make a horrid mess.
|April 17, 2013||N/A|