Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The Road to Nowhere... My Review

My review of the ultimate holiday downer of a movie, The Road is live. Though extravagantly praised by many critics, I found it admirable but oddly unaffecting, using my own personal "how much time did I spend trying not to let people see I was crying" meter. Because here's the thing — it's really, really easy to make me cry at movies. I'm especially susceptible to cute animals falling into rivers: Benji the Hunted destroyed me, and I saw it on a tiny TV, in a bar, with the sound off while I was waiting for a friend, and I was in my hardboiled twenties. I had to beat a hasty retreat to the ladies room and when I'd composed myself sufficiently, I asked the bartender whether there wasn't a game on somewhere. And I hate sports.

Anyway, I recount this embarrassing tale to give some context to the fact that The Road left me absolutely dry eyed. It isn't meant to be a cheap tear-jerker, which is one of the things I admire about it. But the fact is that the resolution of the film's central relationship — between a boy born immediately after some disaster sent the Earth into a slow death spiral and the father who's trying to raise him to survive in a savage world without becoming savage — should leave any thinking person devastated: Their story is the story of the whole world writ small.

I actually think director John Hillcoat's previous movie, an underrated Western set in 1880s Australia called The Proposition, does a better job of exploring the strength of human connection in the face of unrelenting brutality.

Tell me what you think...

Friday, November 20, 2009

New Moon Review and Anna Kendrick Interview

Emo vampires, studly werewolves and teen angst: That's the Twilight saga in a nutshell. I see why the books and movies appeal to tween girls, but those Twilight Moms... they're a mystery to me. What grown woman fantasizes about sparkly waif-boy vampires so exquisitely sensitive that they're the ones putting the brakes on while you squirm with unconsummated lust? Sorry, not my kind of vampire. Read my review of New Moon, and hell, check out what I thought of Twilight.

And as a bonus, here's an interview with the astonishingly talented Anna Kendrick, who plays Forks High School's resident mean girl. She's got a co-starring role in the upcoming George Clooney movie Up in the Air, and she stole Camp with this showstopping rendition of Stephen Sondheim's "The Ladies Who Lunch," a song written for a character twice her age.

Stunning, right? Oh, and yes that is little Dakota Fanning looking all red-eyed and evil in the photo up top. She's one of New Moon's wicked Volturi, a cabal of bad, bad vampires led by Michael Sheen, of Frost/Nixon and the Underworld werewolf pack. Now, the Volturi... those are my kind of vampires!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Plan 9 from Outer Space version 2.0...

Here's an idea whose day should never have come: A remake of Ed Wood's Plan 9 From Outer Space, widely acclaimed as the Citizen Kane of bad films ... I'm not really sure what else to say.

Ed Wood was an appealing eccentric who adored moviemaking and had absolutely no aptitude for it; Rudolph Grey's biography, Nightmare of Ecstasy, and Tim Burton's Ed Wood are loving tributes to the man and his passions. But Plan 9 from Outer Space is a terrible movie. Terrible from top to bottom. We're not talking a good idea undermined in the execution. We're talking a banal, boring idea whose ludicrous execution — from the wretched acting to the cardboard sets to celebrity psychic Criswell's incomprehensible introduction — is the only thing that makes it watchable.

And yet some guy named John Johnson wants to "honor" it with a remake/ (Here's the trailer). I can't see any good coming of this project, no matter how sincere Johnson's website sounds.

I mean, I think Aris Iliopulos genuinely meant well when he brought Woods' unproduced I Woke Up Early the Day I Died back from the dead ten years ago, but I can't say it turned out especially well. Just saying.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

The Awesomeness of 42nd Street...

Ever wonder where all those backstage-musical showbiz cliches came from? Wonder no more: 42nd Street (1933) is movie zero. And no matter how many times I see it, I never cease to be amazed by how modern it seems: Take away the cloche hats and the silk rehearsal tap-pants and the dated slang and I swear, the backstage scenes could have been set in the 1980s, when I worked for a major NYC-based ballet company.

42nd Street

Arguing With Myself | MySpace Video

The more things change, the more showbiz stays the same.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Fantastic Mr. Fox... really is fantastic

I'm not a fan of Wes Anderson. I'm not a fan of Noah Baumbach. And I didn't like children's movies when I was a child. So no one could be more surprised than me by how much I loved Fantastic Mr. Fox.

I wish I could say the same of Where the Wild Things Are, but I can't. It's intelligent and beautifully acted, but it left me ice cold.

Tell me what you think...

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Clash of the Titans Remake -- What the World Needs Now

Specifically, a star-studded, big-budget remake of the mythological monster mash with loads and loads of CGI effects. (see trailer).

Let me be clear: I'm not arguing that the 1981 Clash of the Titans (see trailer) was any great shakes, even if it did feature the likes of Sir Laurence Olivier, Claire Bloom and Maggie Smith as various Greek gods, which was a big deal 25 years ago (now actors of their caliber, including Smith herself, are regulars in Harry Potter). It also starred the magnificently wooden Harry Hamlin, whose main qualification seems to have been that he looked nice in a short toga, as the Greek hero Perseus.

But I'm not convinced that a remake that dirties up the action, reimagines Perseus (Sam Worthington, of Terminator Salvation) as a guy who's mad as Hades and isn't going to take it anymore ("it" apparently being marauding monsters), and looks like a high-end video game is going to be any better. Even with Liam Neeson as Zeus (need I say that was the role Olivier played in the original?), Ralph Fiennes, Mads Mikkelsen, Danny Houston and a host of highly acclaimed character actors on board.

Nice harpies, though, and the gorgon's scalp-full o' snakes looks pretty convincing, at least from the glimpse in the trailer.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Vampires Are Officially Too Popular...

Far be it from me to begrudge the undead their day in the sun (so to speak), but I find myself feeling nostalgic for the days when vampires didn't sit at the popular-kids table. But with Twilight and Tru Blood casting a long shadow over this year's People's Choice Awards (aka "the lowest-common-denominator popularity contest"), there's no getting around it: They're so mainstream it hurts. At least, it hurts old school fans like me.

Some of which is probably just that I hate the Twilight franchise: Abstinence fables wrapped in a layer of vampire mythology are not my idea of a bloody good time. But it's also that once upon a time, vampires (and horror in general) were a litmus test: People who shared your interest in such things were probably people who were going to be your friends. Even if I were 11 years old, I suspect that I'd find as many kindred spirits among the Twi-heads as I would at a Disney Princess club. And I hate to see vampires — even silly sparkle vampires — hanging out with such simpering wimps.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

What's in The Box?

I'm a Richard Kelly fan: I love Donnie Darko and I actually liked Southland Tales... it's flawed, but there's great stuff in it. And that's why I was disappointed by The Box, which gets off to a great start but loses its way in a tangle of big ideas and loopy conspiracies.

What do you think?

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Lady Gaga or the Elephant Man?

Not to be frivolous, since this photo comes from a red-carpet event at which a paparazzo died of a heart attack, but no wonder.

I mean, it's not just me, right? When diminutive neo-disco queen Lady Gaga comes out looking like the Elephant man, it's pretty shocking.

Read My Review of Eulogy for a vampire...

Or not, depending on how interested you are in gay-themed erotic horror movies. But what the hey — it's a change from the umpteenth remake of some 1970s horror movie that was just fine the way it was, right?

Eulogy for a Vampire.