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Archive for September, 2009

children-dvdcr

Not enough time to elaborate on this one at the moment, but in due time I shall. The Children deserves some well-thought-out words; watching it last night was one of the more tense, unexpected-turn-after-unexpected-turn viewings I’ve had in some time. Short and vicious, directed by British newcomer Tom Shankland with a vibrant meanness and nicely-acted by all on screen, The Children is yet another high-grade horror flick that’ll fall by the wayside thanks to non-existent promotion on its way to a straight-to-DVD black hole. Shit, I only knew it was coming out next week because I stumbled across it on the shelves of a get-’em-before-they-drop DVD shop in Manhattan’s Union Square, while hunting down a film that’s being handled even more poorly, Trick ‘R’ Treat (which I’ve yet to score early; unfortunately I’ll have to wait until its October 6th street date). 

Some unbelievable things happen to a quartet of cute-looking tikes, after said tikes issue some brutal hurts of their own. The degree of insane muscle that’d never get the go-ahead in Hollywood. In other words, the goodness.

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Trailer after the jump: (more…)

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In all fairness, it’s not as bad as it seems. He’s filming The Beaver, the next directing product from Jodie Foster, who’s working with a heavily-touted, highly-praised script written by first-time screenwriter Kyle Killen. It’s about a guy who prefers to communicate with those around him through his favorite hand-puppet. The thing is: As ridiculous as this all sounds, there’s a certain pedigree at work that you’d hope can piece together something unexpectedly solid. How they’ll sidestep the obvious “Mel Gibson has a beaver puppet on his hand” angle is anyone’s guess. 

Two hours of this does has potent “Fuck out of here” potential:

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I just went through the most painful, toughest experience of my life. I’m 27, so there’s no question that I’m enormously lucky to have gone so long without enduring true pain. But I’ve gotten through it, and, frankly, something like what I’m about to post is exactly what I need to help me overcome.

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Especially when it’s something that far exceeds my anticipation. Here it is, the first trailer for Samuel Bayer‘s 2010 remake of A Nightmare on Elm Street, backed by those producer-hacks from Platinum Dunes; the company responsible for botching the Friday the 13th and The Hitcher remakes, as well as this January’s downright abysmal The Unborn. A Nightmare on Elm Street, however, looks pretty damn good—-the visuals are pitch-perfect, dark yet pristine; they’ve somehow managed to remix Freddy Krueger’s look/demeanor and make it look surprisingly strong; and the cast wins. There’s no living actor in the business better suited for Krueger than Jackie Earle Haley, so it’s a great call that they’ve given him some pre-burns screen time. And the guy is Oscar-nominated, so you’d think that the script and Bayer’s vision are better than average. Haley doesn’t strike me as a paycheck kinda guy. Bayer, by the way, is quite the decorated music video director, most notably with Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” to his name; Elm Street is his first feature film.

Yes, this trailer shows that the film is rehashing way too much from the original films—–the little kids playing jump-rope in slow-motion; the most-likely-will-be-a death of one character in a bedroom that looks close to Johnny Depp’s infamous send-off; and a pool party right out of Freddy’s Revenge. Impressively, though, it mostly works here.

Katie Cassidy

Katie Cassidy

I have a confession, though: I’m actually more excited to see Katie Cassidy than Haley. After her work in the stellar, sadly-ignored Harper’s Island and her scene-robbing turn in the new Melrose Place (a trashy bit of throwaway TV that I’m not too proud to say I enjoy), she’s ousted Olivia Thirlby as my “young actress crush.” I’m not typically into blondes, but in Cassidy’s case, hair color is inconsequential.

 

Nightmare on Elm Street trailer, after the jump: (more…)

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My favorite horror film of all time is also the most abused—–Night of the Living Dead. As the story goes, writer/director George A. Romero and his team never secured the rights to the film’s name back in 1968, meaning that anybody with a few bucks and a lack of originality can attempt to remake or remix the classic. Save for Tom Savini’s Romero-supported 1990 remake, any film that’s claimed a connection by direct-name has been totally irrelevant and half-assed. I’m looking right at you, Night of the Living Dead 3D.

Night-of-the-Living-Dead-OriginsThe news that there’s soon to be a real-life-actors-mixed-with-CGI version, Night of the Living Dead: Origins, gives me slightly more optimism than its lazy predecessors. Why? Because the project—-which will be directed by Zebediah de Soto, a guy with some impressive animation work on his resume—is taking a different approach, providing backstories for the original’s characters. At least it’s not turning Ben into a white teenager with dreamy good looks. And, although I subscribe to the notion that zombies should always be actual people, not CGI (the utterly-fake-looking creatures in I Am Legend used as evidence), this description of de Soto’s technology doesn’t sound half-awful:

The duo created and designed a real-time effects system, known as ‘The Beast’, which allows filmmakers the ability to direct CG performances the same way they would direct real live actors. The aim of the process is to make tennis balls on a stick representing real people or monsters a thing of the past by allowing actors interact with CG elements as if they are tangible.

Danielle Harris

Danielle Harris

The biggest draw for Night of the Living Dead: Origins, however, is the first piece of casting: Danielle Harris has signed on to play “Barbara,” as in, “They’re coming to get you, Barbara!”. Harris, the 30-year-old beauty who looks like she never ages, is a veteran scream queen best known for an allegiance to the Halloween franchise (frankly, she’s one of the few great things about Rob Zombie’s recent collabs with Michael Myers). Before Dollhouse caught on, Eliza Dushku was in the same boat that Harris is in now, a yacht made up of actresses that are sexier than your favorite A-lister, and just as charismatic, yet can never seem to breakthrough. Night of the Living Dead: Origins is obviously not the star-making vehicle that Harris needs, but, hell, it’s starring-role work. We’ll take whatever we can get from her around here.

News spotted over at: Bloody Disgusting

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antichrist

Part of me is clamoring to pour rambles and words onto this keyboard right now, all directed toward Lars von Trier‘s Antichrist, which I experienced yesterday. The post-game personal consensus keeps teetering from positively excited to disgusted and underwhelmed. So much has been written and said about Antichrist already that it was inevitable I’d enter the arena with too-high expectations, despite my not-so-effortless attempts to curb the enthusiasm. The plan, to let the film sink into me on its own terms, not through the premeditated suggestions of critics and cyber talking-heads. And, for the most part, that’s what happened. Antichrist absolutely requires multiple viewings before any firm, resolute opinion can be formed; after one measly sit-through, I can’t imagine anybody churning a definitive perception. The flick is just too wide-spreading in its bizarre ideals and layered themes (provocative and muddled) to allow impulse critiquing. 

I still may try to jot thoughts down later today. It’s unavoidable, though, that I’ll successfully flesh the film out. Von Trier has made an adult horror stomach-dropper that any weak-gutted individual would never want to watch again. I, for one, can’t wait to revisit the damn thing. Recommend to some of my film-forward pals; snatch up on DVD and creep out my unaware accomplices. There’s something to be said for a film that has the grossness enough to fling my hands in front of my eyes—–that happened when I saw Inside in the same exact locale, actually (Lincoln Center’s Walter Reade Theater). Over two years later, a similar near-vomit feeling set in as Antichrist‘s female lead Charlotte Gainsbourg took a pair of rusty scissors to her…..well, I’ll save that one for surprise’s sake. Just know that the woman sitting next to me veered her eyes downward while closed from that scene onward, shaking her head in disgust. 

I must meet The Three Beggars again, especially that stillborn deer-fetus. I need to laugh at the ballsy absurdity of that fox speaking in droned slow-mo. The thick level of women-fearing and women-attacking subtext warrants a much closer look; as presented by Denmark’s self-coined “greatest film director in the world,” I’m not sure whether its actual misogyny or a balanced assault on both genders.

My sadist side is itching to allow Antichrist the pleasure of pummeling me yet again. I just wish I knew at this point whether I liked it or not. 

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—-After the screening, Von Trier addressed the New York audience via video feed, fielding questions and voicing this intriguing sentiment, a notion that could eventually encapsulate why Antichrist becomes a beloved film in my collection: “[Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho is] a classic, but not because it was scary. In horror films, the scary things are not what I remember. I remember a style or a mood. I didn’t find The Shining very scary, I must say. But today, I’m rather involved with it. I think that, as with all other films, it has to do with a personality that you feel in it as you watch what happens in it.” (Reported by Movieline)

Though I do think The Shining is one of the scarier films I’ve seen in my lifetime, I can’t disagree with that sentiment. Likewise for Norman Bates’s showcase.

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UPDATE: So, this rumor has been debunked as pure fiction. Sucks, right? So much for that optimism; this remake is back in unbridled pessimism.

poster_ltroi_final_posterThere’s no point for me to squawk on and on about how unnecessary an American remake of Tomas Alfredson’s magnificent Let the Right One In (2008) is, so I’ll spare my fingers the effort it’d take to type such venom. It’s a crap idea, one that’s instantly confirmed in its lameness when you consider that it’ll be renamed simply Let Me In. Which is horrible. And I have to wait until next week to see John Hillcoat’s adaptation of The Road, so I can’t say whether young actor Kodi Smit-McPhee has the skills required to carry the stateside redo.

Philip Seymour Hoffman

Philip Seymour Hoffman

At this point, the only thing that’s leaving me somewhat hopeful for the remake, which will be directed by Matt Reeves (Cloverfield, a tightly-handled winner that I do love, so I’m not totally anti-Reeves), is today’s news that the great Philip Seymour Hoffman may very well end up co-starring in the new version. Nothing seems to be official, but rumors are surfacing that many feel have validity. If this turns out to be legit, Hoffman better be lined up for the role of vampire-girl’s handler/errand-man; a character who’d hopefully be given more breathing room once in Hoffman’s control. Since this isn’t official just yet, I’ll leave it at that. 

 

The moment that Hoffman jumps aboard for real, Let Me In will begin its image-improvement process. 

News spotted over at: /Film

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After the jump, a SPOILER-ific scene that exemplifies the brilliance of Let the Right One In, as well as a couple bonuses: (more…)

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If you head over to Critics Notebook, I’ve offered my free sense on Black Dynamite, the Blaxpolitation-revisited romp that’s made waves throughout the film festival circuit in ’09. The early trailers were wonderful, but the finished product is a film that I wanted to like more than I actually do. But totally worth a look.

For more of my take, click here: Critics Notebook: BLACK DYNAMITE (2009)

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