Archive for the ‘The Assessments’ Category

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is a damn-good Swedish thriller that opened here in America a couple weeks back, without any real promotion or word. Meaning, this is most likely the first time you’re hearing about the damn thing. Click the link below to learn more about it, courtesy of a review I’ve penned for Reel Loop:

LINK: LATE PASS Review — ‘The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’

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Over at Reel Loop, I’ve weighed in on the this weekend’s newly released erotic drama Chloe.

Give it a look…. it can’t hurt, right?

LINK: Reel Loop: Review – ‘Chloe,’ Sexual Force Proves Impotent, Says Matt

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Opening today is Antoine Fuqua’s Brooklyn’s Finest, a film I’ve been heavily anticipating since it made waves back in January 2009 at the Sundance Film Festival. Though the reviews from that fest were mixed, I latched on to the word that the picture is brutally dark, and had a downbeat and polarizing ending. I say ‘had” because I’m pretty sure they went back and changed the coda after that response. I could be wrong, though, since the conclusion I saw wasn’t even close to being marginal; it’s outright grim.

Over at Reel Loop, I’ve written my thoughts down into a review. Give it a look, eh?:

LINK: Reel Loop – Review: ‘Brooklyn’s Finest’

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Right before the holidays, I spoke with author Scott Snyder, for a freelance magazine assignment. He’s published a collection of short stories, Voodoo Heart, and he also currently teaches creative writing at NYU, Columbia, and Sarah Lawrence College. None of that was what we talked about, though; in March, a new comic book series that he created and co-wrote, along with the almighty Stephen King, hits shelves, called American Vampire. So, naturally, the bulk of conversation revolved around the vampire lore, everything from Bram Stoker to Max Schreck to Edward Cullen, with some Sookie Stackhouse thrown in for balance. We both agree that Kathryn Bigelow’s Near Dark (1987) is incredibly badass and under-appreciated, and that vamps shouldn’t sparkle, ever (take that, Stephenie Meyer). Or, just keep counting your dollar stacks and live comfortably. I am a realist, after all.

Something tells me that Snyder will dig the latest entry into the vampire realm, Daybreakers. Why I feel this way can be found over at Critics Notebook, where I’ve reviewed the film (opening today in wide release). Give it a go, would you?:

Critics Notebook: DAYBREAKERS (2010)

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The Internet needs another Best of 2009 list like it does an incurable virus, but whatever. I was asked to do one by the good folks over at Critics Notebook, and who am I to refuse a chance to treat myself like a big deal? It feels good once in a while. Especially when I also have the opportunity to flash lights on the year’s most slept-on horror flicks, ones that either didn’t make it into any theaters on their way to DVD oblivion, or suffered from puny theatrical runs.

These lists are never easy. Once your own is posted, it’s there for any- and everyone to see, dissect, hate, agree with; it’s also there for the writer his- or herself to chastise. “How could I forget that film?” “Why in Sam-hell did I place that above this?” I’m sure I’ll ask myself in due time. Another thing, there are still a few films I’ve yet to see that could’ve very well landed on my list: The Lovely Bones, for instance. Or, Julia. Maybe even The Headless Woman (which I’m finally watching tonight). Certainly The Fantastic Mr. Fox and/or Up. Oh, and The Messenger.

I did see Avatar, though, and I’m confident in its exclusion from my rundown. The visuals and effects are magnificent, sure, but the story is irritably predictable and, frankly, trite.

Well, here goes nothing….. My 10 Best Films of 2009 list, followed by the 10 Best Overlooked-By-The-Mainstream Horror Films of ’09:

Critics Notebook: Matt Barone’s 2009 Best Of lists

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There’s no need to get on the “Foreign films get the shaft here in the states” soapbox; it’s already overcrowded with passionate overseas-horror lovers. In the case of 2007’s exceptional [REC], though, I’ll make an exception. Mainly because that heartstopper of a quasi-zombie flick, co-directed by Spain’s Jaume Balaguero´and Paco Plaza, is the quintessential big screen picture, a film that’s perfect for in-theater consumption. Shot in the same handheld camera style as Cloverfield, [REC] is actually superior to that J.J. Abrams-backed creature feature, which itself loses steam when watched on a television. The straight-to-DVD release of [REC] here in America was a huge bummer, frankly; it robbed me of the Loews experience I desired. I had to settle for the unnecessary, but at least well-done, remake, Quarantine. But, that wasn’t the same. Quarantine is rather solid, but still a carbon copy of the real Spanish deal. 

So imagine my delight when I discovered that [REC] 2 was to make U.S. impact during the Film Society of Lincoln Center’s “Spanish Cinema NOW” festival. Knowing that it’ll only get another to-DVD unveiling here sometime next year, missing the sequel’s run in the great Walter Reade Theater was no option. And I’m glad to report that [REC] 2 didn’t disappoint. I’ve organized my thoughts into a review-thing over at Critics Notebook. Give it a peek, will ya? 

Review Link: Critics Notebook: [REC] 2 (2009)

Tomorrow I’ll be back with a [REC] 2 related tribute to a forgotten slice of Italian zombie-movie-cheese, Burial Ground. I, for one, can’t wait. [REC] 2 trailer, after the jump:


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Richard Kelly‘s The Box was a hard one to pin down, as far as reactions go. The positives of the film are pretty fun, so much so that I’m contemplating a second theater viewing. Which probably won’t happen, due to this week’s full slate of evening screenings (The Road tonight, for the win). But the fact that part of me wants to pay money to see this one again is fascinating for self, because there’s so much wrong within Kelly’s third feature. Plot holes, excessive randomness. High-concept sci-fi gobbledygook for no good reason. 


While it’s trampoline-leaps better than his Southland Tales, The Box still pales in comparison to Donnie Darko. Kelly’s career is the Hollywood equivalent to Raekwon; The Box is better than the Chef’s The Lex Diamond Story, now, but the parallel still works. Perhaps Kelly’s next film will be his triumphant return to greatness, a la Only Built for Cuban Linx 2.

Today, though, it’s all about The Box.

For my deeper thoughts, head on over to:

Critics Notebook: THE BOX (2009)


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