November 30, 2009
Splinter might be a very short, B-movie but it delivers the tension as a creepy, pointy thing invades a bunch of people who have locked themselves in an isolated gas station for safety. The actors (Paulo Costanzo, Jill Wagner, Shea Wigham) are uniformly good but the script does veer into the ridiculous and plagiaristic territory that B-movies often do. The best aspect, though, is that the special effects are NOT created using CGI!
November 27, 2009
P.S. I Love You is a story about loss and recovery that has it all. There's an intriguing story with a funny and touching script (that does have some minor issues), a stellar cast (Hilary Swank, Gerard Butler, Lisa Kudrow, Gina Gershon, Kathy Bates, Harry Connick Jr., Nellie McKay), phenomenal music (the CD is worth owning) and directorial pedigree (writer/director Richard LaGravenese of Living Out Loud). Don't pass this off as just some chick flick - although you should prepare yourself for a tear or two...or three.
November 26, 2009
Director Hans Horn has done a good job of conveying feelings of claustrophobia in what is essentially a huge space. But although the ocean is terrifying in Adrift (also known as Open Water 2), the script has a few ridiculous plot points and you don't have to be a rocket scientist to guess who dies at the end in the beginning. Still, character development helped and ultimately I think this one did a better job than its ersatz predecessor Open Water.
November 25, 2009
100 Films and a Funeral is a dry yet interesting documentary about PolyGram Filmed Entertainment, an independent film company (part of Polygram Records) that soared in the 90s and crashed in the almost 00s. After producing films such as Four Weddings and a Funeral, Fargo and Trainspotting PFE went off the mark with dreck such as Poseidon and imploded. This story does much to explain the difference between film as an art and film as a business.
November 23, 2009
I know, let's make Alien again but put it 16,000 feet below the surface of the Atlantic Ocean and instead of having the monster rip OUT of your belly, let's have it rip INTO your belly. We'll hire some solid B-list actors (like Peter Weller, Meg Foster, Ernie Hudson, Richard Crenna), create a relatively creepy shapeshifting monster, and end it almost like they ended The Poseidon Adventure. We'll call it Leviathan but make sure we don't show too much of the monster; we have to save money to make money.
November 21, 2009
November 19, 2009
The Curse of the Cat People is a sequel in actors and title to the 1942 film Cat People. The real story concerns the imaginary friend of a 10 year old girl (beautifully played by Ann Carter) who just happens to be Simone SImon, the cat lady of the first film. Elizabeth Russell (seemingly producer Val Lewton's muse) has a bigger (and different) role this go round but again it's more fantastical Dr. Seuss than horror and certainly not a real sequel.
November 17, 2009
The classic horror film Cat People is really less classic horror and more black and white mood piece than its reputation would have you believe. It's poetic to watch the shadows and light but the film's interest is more historical than horror. Simone SImon is mesmerizingly good and Elizabeth Russell has a memorably brief scene but you might pass on this if you're not a film student.
November 15, 2009
Director Francois Truffaut's fascination with Alfred Hitchcock reached its apex with The Bride Wore Black, a Hitchcockian tale with no suspense starring Jean Moreau (of the Betty Davis face) as the woman denied her walk down the aisle. You almost know what's going on when she dons the darkside threads to dish out a cool style of revenge but the story keeps unfolding anyway to an inevitable conclusion. It's not the best Hitchcock homage that's been filmed but the cinematography of the French locations is breathtakingly real and Moreau's Pierre Cardin clothing is loud and proud.
November 3, 2009
Five years before the onslaught of The Silence of the Lambs there was Manhunter - what can only be described as the sword and spear version of the former. And that's a good thing. It's cerebral and not very gory but the tension created by director Michael Mann and excellent performances from William Peterson, Tom Noonan and Joan Allen (among many) bring it on home.