Updated remake of an early Hitchcock thriller about a psychologically unbalanced landlady and her enigmatic tenant. There’s also a parallel story about a troubled detective who’s on the hunt for a killer whose method bears a striking resemblance to Jack the Ripper. It all unfolds like one of those procedural TV shows, but the story is fairly interesting and suspenseful with just enough stylistic flourishes to keep the viewer interested.
Archive for February, 2009
Curiously uninvolving biography of the revolutionary American painter. Does not delve deeply enough into the man. Instead we get standard snapshots of the life of a troubled artist. He is difficult, demanding, and alcoholic, everything we expect an artist to be. Marcia Gay Harden, however, is memorable as Lee Krasner, Pollock’s wife and influential painter in her own right. Her character gives the movie much needed structure and dramatic heft.
Leo and Kate are Frank and April Wheeler, a couple that have grown dissatisfied with marriage, work, and life, in general. Bleak tragedy of a couple trapped in a suburban malaise is highlighted by outstanding art direction of sterile rooms and pale hues. The problem is that their predicament in becoming a typical suburban family with a well-paying job and nice home, all seems rather superficial and it’s difficult to sympathize with their plight. Nevertheless, the script is outstanding and it’s acted to perfection by two lead actors at the top of their game.
Music-video director Marcus Nispel, who updated The Texas Chainsaw Massacre in 2003, now turns his attention to the Friday the 13th series. Not a remake, but rather the 12th entry of the film franchise. If “assorted young naked teens are violently murdered by a hockey-masked killer” sounds like a great plot, you will be entertained, all others, should just rent the original Halloween and pass on this utterly derivative movie.
Southern Gothic tale of a family in crisis. Jamie Bell plays Chris Munn, a volatile teen who runs away from home, bringing his sickly brother along. Deel Munn, the boys’ uncle, pursues them. Why, is a question best left answered by watching the movie. However, the reason will be the only excitement you’ll find in this rather uninteresting film. The random characters the boys meet along the way are a poor excuse for a plot. Two plusses: another great score by master composer Philip Glass and some stylish cinematography by Tim Orr.
Wonderfully unsettling children’s fantasy about a girl who walks through a door in her new home and finds a parallel reality which initially appears to be an improvement over her present life. Fanciful, but also deeply eerie. Neil Gaiman’s animated adaptation of his international best-seller is a treat for the eyes and ears. An absolute stunning achievement in stop-motion animation and quite possibly the greatest 3D film ever made. Another classic from Henry Selick, the director of The Nightmare Before Christmas.
Confusing British crime film about a Russian mobster who arranges a lucrative real estate scam with a high ranking crime boss. Assorted thugs from London’s underworld all want in on the action. Sluggish pacing and stock characters abound. There is no wit or joy. Just a lot of hipster posturing, fast cutting, and camera tricks. Stylistically, very much a companion piece to Guy Ritchie’s Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch but nowhere near as good.
Big budget musical fantasy based on the 1947 movie Down to Earth updated to Los Angeles, circa 1980. Graphic artist Sonny Malone finds his muse in the form of a stunning Olivia Newton-John sent down from Mount Halcyon [sic] to inspire him to open a roller disco club. The musical numbers, combining animation, 1940s big band, disco, country, rock and of course roller skating, must be seen to be believed. The production design is an unapologetic celebration of the glamour and excess of the late 1970s. The climactic scene reaches heights of such joy, rarely seen in a musical. It kept a smile on my face from beginning to end.
Quirky indie character study about a naïve young drug dealer who begins dating a girl who also happens to be the daughter his psychiatrist. Ben Kinglsey plays Dr. Squires, a man who accepts pot in exchange for his sessions with the young boy. To say Dr. Squires is unethical, is an understatement. Mentally he’s an adolescent and the odd friendship he forms with his patient isn’t particularly compelling or realistic.