Archive for February, 2012

After Hours

Posted in Comedy, Drama with tags on February 27, 2012 by Mark Hobin

Martin Scorsese directed this one night in the life of ordinary citizen Paul Hackett. Paul lives and works as a computer consultant in New York City. That evening while hanging out in a coffee shop in Manhattan he meets a quirky but attractive girl. They chat flirtatiously. Marcy Franklin has a loft in trendy SoHo. She gives him her number. Intrigued he calls her back later that very night and agrees to visit her immediately. His existence will never be the same.

One might think this isn’t a typical subject for Martin Scorsese. It doesn’t involve gangsters and the violence is minimal. However his visual style is all over this successful realization of a script by Joseph Minion. Griffin Dunne, who additionally serves as co-producer, is the star and he’s ideal in conveying an everyman. He only wants to inject a little fun into his humdrum life but is thwarted at every turn. His exasperation incurs the audience’s laughter as well as our sympathy. That’s not an easy task and he manages it skillfully. Rosanna Arquette is the mystery girl, and she’s positively bewitching. There’s something a bit mischievous about her too. She’s the first person he encounters, but she won’t be the last. He’ll also bump into eccentrics portrayed by Teri Garr, John Heard, Catherine O’Hara, Linda Fiorentino, Verna Bloom and two thieves whose identities I won’t reveal here. Look closely and you’ll even see Martin Scorsese as a searchlight operator at Club Berlin.

After Hours is an absolute delight. The theme concerns one night in New York City, and although what transpires could happen in any major metropolitan area, the trappings are distinctly New York. It’s funny how Scorsese is able to satirize the city while still celebrating its cosmopolitan atmosphere. The genius is the method in which the action slowly unfolds getting progressively more ridiculous as time goes on. We sense something is amiss right from the very start. Notice how Marcy’s roommate Kiki answers the phone when he rings her up. Kiki’s disembodied voice dripping with annoyance. That’s merely the beginning. His odyssey becomes nightmarish in its development. The brilliance is that he takes the saga to places we don’t anticipate. Creatively building layer upon layer of insanity to form a perfectly realized vision of hell on earth. It’s hilarious, weird and uncomfortable at once. Throughout it all, Dunne grounds the picture in an air of normalcy that radiates safety for the viewer. And just when you fear that this cruel paean to the Big Apple cannot end in any meaningful way, it does. The story comes full circle intelligently referencing events we’ve seen before. It’s an intricately constructed tale that simply gets better with age.

Wanderlust

Posted in Comedy with tags on February 24, 2012 by Mark Hobin

Two recently unemployed New Yorkers fed up with the rat race, decide to throw it all to the wind and embrace living in a hippie commune. Wanderlust starts out really well. Paul Rudd and Jennifer Aniston are George and Linda, two yuppie types that play uptight really well. They embody a perfect combination: likable but still fussy enough that we can still take delight when bad things happen to them. Before Linda’s depressing documentary about wildlife is rejected by HBO, she pitches it as An Inconvenient Truth meets March of the Penguins.  That’s clever – and part of a brilliant beginning. After losing their jobs they hightail it to George’s brother’s house to stay at while they get their bearings. On the way they spend the night in a rural “intentional community” and they’re embraced by the society within. Up until now, the comedy has a relaxed vibe with some fairly amusing shenanigans concerning hippies and the countercultural lifestyle. George’s brother turns out to be a real jerk so they decide to return to the collective they remembered so fondly. Predictably, things don’t go as smoothly as before. Here’s where the script loses momentum.

Instead of a fully formed storyline proceeding to a satisfying conclusion, we get one dubious skit after another, none of which are particularly funny. The humor grows childish and immature. Paul Rudd uncomfortably sitting a toilet while people chat with him like he’s in the living room is an example of a simple-minded sight gag, not wit. The narrative is directionless, without a point. There’s a scene in which George, staring in a mirror, is trying to psych himself up for sex he doesn’t want to have. He begins speaking in this bizarre hillbilly accent about how he wants to be with the woman in question. It’s just Paul Rudd, freely ad-libbing for 5 minutes. The resulting soliloquy is one of the most pathetic and embarrassing moments I have witnessed an actor I respect do. Imagine Elmer Fudd talking about his penis and you’ll get the idea. These are jokes aimed at children who just learned the mechanics of how men and women procreate. The film is two distinct halves, the initial part that seems focused and purposeful to an end and a subsequent one that is an aimless series of moronic skits. Two stars for the promising first half and no stars for the second.

Safe House

Posted in Action, Crime, Thriller with tags on February 21, 2012 by Mark Hobin

Utterly generic procedural about double-crossers and police corruption is the kind of film that Tony Scott can direct in his sleep. It even stars Denzel Washington, who has been the director’s muse since Crimson Tide in 1995. But he didn’t direct in this case. That honor went to developing Swedish film director Daniel Espinosa. The thrills are serviceable enough, but there’s little here that you haven’t seen a hundred times before. The Bourne film series did this subject better with more flair.

Safe House is the latest offender of the cinematographic “shaky camera” technique – constantly moving images haphazardly edited together, all seemingly shot with a single hand held camera. Not only are the scenes always in motion but the hyper contrast of the cinematography suggests the lo-fidelity style of popular iPhone photographic filters like Instagram. Sometimes these various tactics can give the suspense more intensity. However the action here is edited so chaotically as to render the spectacle jumbled and incoherent. These gimmicks feel like they’re designed to divert your attention from the banality of the events – to make the requisite car chases and fight scenes more exciting than they really are.  These techniques did nothing to improve the film.  This thriller remains pretty routine.

Safe House is a mixed bag. The film takes place in Cape Town, South Africa and the production was actually shot there. That’s favorable. It boasts a solid cast. Denzel Washington and Ryan Reynolds star, but it also showcases supporting players that include Vera Farmiga, Brendan Gleeson, Sam Shepard, Rubén Blades and Robert Patrick. It’s a pity none of them were given a character they could really sink their acting chops into. These are stock characters in stock situations. I greeted the whole affair with a casual indifference. While it played out I admit I was mildly entertained. The actors kept giving me hope that something exciting would happen or develop. But when the story was finished, the plot revealed itself to be thoroughly generic. There are several scenes in which a gun goes off when you’re not expecting it to happen. The sound was so loud I jumped out of my seat at least twice because it sounded like a gun went off in the theater. Other than that, I can barely remember anything about this film.

Le Trou

Posted in Crime, Drama, Thriller with tags on February 19, 2012 by Mark Hobin

Four men with long prison terms, share a cell.  They’re planning to break out. A fifth man serving a sentence for attempted murder of his wife, is placed in their midst – inside the same chamber. They are now faced with a dilemma. Can they trust the new arrival and share their plan to flee with this stranger? French director Jacques Becker has assembled an absorbing picture impressive in its simplicity. His importance in French cinema has only grown over the years. Becker began his career as an assistant to filmmaker Jean Renoir during the time Renoir produced the classics Grand Illusion and The Rules of the Game. Becker subsequently became a director in his own right. Le Trou represents his very last movie. He died shortly after its release. Le Trou (The Hole) was originally released as The Night Watch in the U.S. but is known today by its French title.

This prison film has the authentic detail of a real prison break. The minutia that goes into the planning complements the human drama with utter credibility.  This really takes its time and the suspense develops slowly. The majority of the plot depicts the mechanics of the escape, providing specifics only a seasoned insider could provide. The men ingeniously fabricate a periscope out of a mirror and a toothbrush to watch for guards. At another point the men need to measure the period away from their jail cell while they investigate their escape route. They fashion a makeshift hour glass with miniature medicine bottles and sand. It’s just one of many fascinating segments. Other details like the slapdash dummies they create to take their place, were also used rather memorably in Clint Eastwood’s Escape from Alcatraz.

There’s an almost documentary like air about the proceedings. There is no music for example. The production is lean and straightforward. At times the presentation can be a bit un-cinematic. Witness the many extended stretches of the men merely digging without dialogue for 10 minutes or more. The sound is an unrelenting cacophony. If there’s a naturalism and validity to the performances, there’s a reason for that. Film is based on the 1957 novel The Hole by José Giovanni who drew from his own experiences and the escape he attempted from France’s La Santé Prison with other inmates in 1947. Actor Jean Keraudy was one of the actual prisoners with writer José Giovanni, known for his multiple prison escapes. As Roland Darbant, he plays himself, even using his original name for the character.

The lack of Hollywood-style production values forces the viewer to focus on the men and their plight. They unite over their shared desire to escape. Normally civilization prescribes that a criminal must be punished and serve their sentence. Morally that’s justifiable. But these men don’t come off as hardened criminals. They’re polite, well mannered, and trustworthy. The responsibility of society to punish these men is never an issue. We want them to break out and that’s a testament to how seemingly honorable these men are. The camaraderie of these five men illustrates a close friendship in which Manu, Geo, Roland, and “Monsignor”” must befriend and rely on each other, as well as Claude Gaspard, the outsider. There’s a searing humanity that plays out in their shared plan. In this way, there’s a temperament to the men that’s not readily apparent but gradually builds over the course of the story. Loyalty is their most prized virtue and their devotion is quietly profound.

Rampart

Posted in Crime, Drama with tags on February 17, 2012 by Mark Hobin

The Rampart patrol area of the Los Angeles Police Department serves communities to the west and northwest of Downtown Los Angeles including Echo Park, Pico-Union and Westlake.  In the wake of the Rodney King beating, the LAPD was further rocked by scandal in the late 1990s, when widespread corruption was documented involving gross police misconduct detailing unprovoked beatings, planting evidence on suspects, and unjustified shootings, among other violations.  This police drama plays out against this backdrop.

Rampart is directed by Oren Moverman who also helmed The Messenger. This reunites its star Woody Harrelson with Ben Foster who also appeared in both films. Here the director teams up with crime writer James Ellroy to co-write the original screenplay. Supposedly Ellroy has an admiration for the LAPD and feels that the Rampart scandal was blown out of proportion.  You’d never know it from this screenplay, as those feelings are not evident.  This is a most unflattering portrait of a man without conscience.

Rampart features a powerful performance by Woody Harrelson as Officer Dave Brown, a veteran that operates above the law. He’s a piece of work. He plays an LA cop as corrupt as they come. He’s essentially a composite of the type of police officer that the Rampart scandal alleged was pervasive in the LAPD.  It’s a gutsy performance devoid of respectability. In addition to his nefarious activities on the force, he lives with both his wife and ex-wife who happen to be sisters. Then there’s his 2 daughters, one from each woman, all living under the same roof. Despite his marriage, he frequents bars looking for women with which to have sex, one of whom, a defense attorney, may or may not be investigating him. Yeah he’s pretty sleazy.  The lawyer seems pretty messed up too.

I guess there was a time when the country bumpkin Woody Boyd on the TV show Cheers seemed like just an extension of the actor’s own persona. I mean c’mon, they even had the same first name! However since leaving that role in 1993 he’s played a serial killer (Natural Born Killers), a pornographer (The People vs. Larry Flynt ) and a bounty hunter (No Country for Old Men).  As that naïve but lovable portrayal fades from memory, each miscreant seems less and less like a stretch. Depressing, oppressive and bleak, there’s little point to the film other than as a character study. But what a character study! Harrelson’s quietly vicious portrayal really gets under your skin. He is the movie and without him, this virtually plotless account would’ve been meaningless. Drama masquerading as art, arbitrarily ends with an ambiguous non-ending. The whole seemingly improvised production adds up to very little. It’s a testament to Harrelson’s memorably unlikable portrayal that we remain interested in his story. Unfortunately without a point of view, commentary or resolution, the production remains a fascinating disappointment.

A Cat in Paris

Posted in Animation, Crime, Family, Mystery, Thriller with tags on February 11, 2012 by Mark Hobin

PhotobucketZoë is haunted by the death of her father. He was murdered by public enemy number one, Victor Costa, and the 7 year old hasn’t spoken since that fateful day. You see her father attempted to stop Victor from absconding with a giant statue called The Colossus of Nairobi. The object’s current transport to the museum is now being overseen by the Police Commissioner who just so happens to be Zoë’s mother.  Zoë is watched over by a mysterious nanny and her pet cat Dino, who keeps her company by day.  By night however, the cat retreats into the night to accompany a kindhearted and lonely jewel thief.

Delightful hand drawn cartoon has the appearance of the colorful Post-Impressionist work of French artists like Georges Seurat and Henri Rousseau with the elongated faces of Amedeo Modigliani thrown in for good measure. The art has an extremely simple, primitive look. Yet the bewitching style holds its own in today’s 3D CGI computer animated world. Witness the spectacle in the story’s final quarter where the lights go out.  Scenes in pitch blackness are artistically imagined as white chalk outlines on a black background.  It’s arresting in its simplicity.  The art has the two dimensional, traditional look that has all but vanished these days.

A Cat in Paris is a children’s book come to life, but with the surprisingly mature feel of an adult thriller. This has the complex machinations of classic suspense.  The cat really isn’t the focus of the film at all, but rather a device by which to interweave a myriad of plot threads involving human characters.  Indeed this could have been cast with human actors and succeeded better than most modern mysteries. One might question the morality of the script’s sympathetic portrayal of a burglar. Think Cary Grant in Hitchcock’s To Catch Thief.  He really has the little girl‘s best interest at heart, mind you. The production isn’t perfect, but it‘s close. Not a single frame is wasted as this mystery unfolds in a brisk 62 minutes. Illustrators Alain Gagnol and Jean-Loup Felicioli directed this comedy drama which put French studio Folimage in the spotlight.  This deservedly received an unexpected Academy Award nomination for Best Animated Feature in 2012.

A Separation

Posted in Drama, Foreign on February 10, 2012 by Mark Hobin

At its apex, the medium of film can capture a situation so perfectly that it goes beyond mere entertainment and matures into a reflection on the human experience. A presentation of characters so authentic and so raw that you forget that you’re sitting in a theater watching a movie, but have wandered into a circle of people and are now eavesdropping on their lives. A Separation is just such an experience.

Simin and Nader want a divorce. Well that’s not exactly true. Simin feels that Iran isn’t a suitable environment for their 11 year old daughter, Termeh. She wishes for all 3 of them to emigrate from Iran. But Nader’s father is not well. He has been stricken with Alzheimer’s and his health appears to be getting worse. His father is in no condition to make such a move and so Nader urges the family to stay so he may attend to his father. “He doesn’t even know you’re his son” his wife implores. “But I know he is my father!” he asserts. Nevertheless Simin is still adamant about leaving and so, Nader not wishing to stand in his wife’s way, agrees to a divorce so she may leave. However the court does not view her reasons as justification for their divorce and her request is denied.  Simin subsequently leaves to go live with her parents while their young daughter remains with her father. That’s how it starts, but that’s not where our story ends. The circumstances set the stage for a life altering chain of events.

Director Asghar Farhadi’s treatise is a deceptively simple, but morally ambitious film. It begins rather simply, but with each passing minute, the tension builds. One dilemma gives rise to another and so forth until what began as one problem has become a completely different crisis. What makes A Separation so masterful is its distillation of complex issues so that you see each person’s side equally. At one moment you feel sorry for Simin, but then you gradually understand Nader’s hardship. Then there is their daughter Termeh and her teacher Miss Ghahraei.  Nader hires deeply religious Razieh, as a nurse to take care of his father. She’s married to temperamental Houjat, her husband. Rarely has a picture portrayed a predicament so intricately unbiased that without exception, you can appreciate each individual’s perspective.  The narrative transcends what originates as a simple account dealing with a marital dispute. The film presents the rather tragic idea that sometimes the very noblest of intentions, can cause irreversible harm.

A Separation is a flawlessly directed ensemble piece. We’re introduced to a family and their acquaintances. Usually a director’s hand is apparent, guiding the viewer to a pre-ordained conclusion. In today’s world where most stories dictate there must be a hero and a villain, writer-director Farhadi is a bit of a rebel. He does not preach, but rather demonstrates life as it really is, where nuance and subtlety reign. His point of view is that he has no point of view. Farhadi simply lays humanity bare in a way that renders race, religion, and nationality irrelevant. Yes cultural differences play a part, as they would in any story regarding a group of people. Yet this not a drama about Iran, or Muslims, or even men and women. It is a drama about what it means to be human. In this way, A Separation is quite simply a masterpiece of modern cinema.

Postscript: Movies have competed for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film since 1956. In the entire history of the award only two productions from Iran have ever been nominated. The first was Children of Heaven in 1998. The second is A Separation in 2011. Here’s hoping it’s the first to actually win the award.

Chronicle

Posted in Action, Drama, Fantasy, Science Fiction, Thriller on February 7, 2012 by Mark Hobin

PhotobucketHigh school student Andrew is bullied at home by his alcoholic father and bullied at school by his classmates. A social outcast, he finds solace in filmmaking by documenting everything in his life with his handheld camera. Then one day, Andrew along with his cousin Matt and popular classmate Steve, discover a mysterious glowing crystal down a crater in the earth. As a result, the three of them gain supernatural powers.

Ultra low budget feature uses Andrew’s own amateur video to present his life. Ordinarily this might have afforded a very limited point of view, but the script has allowed Andrew’s ability to levitate the camera to cleverly incorporate normally impossible shots. “Found footage” is also creatively included from other sources. These are all seamlessly stitched together to produce a full and complete movie. At first it feels like a gimmick in these circumstances. The method isn’t particularly fresh anymore. However it’s usually employed in a horror context. Chronicle’s science fiction roots are a unique genre for the method. It also allows the filmmakers the discretion to not depict certain scenes (i.e. Andrew’s failed intimacy with the girl at the party) that are more poetic when we rely on our imagination. Ultimately, I think it provides a fascinating perspective inside the mind of a protagonist that undergoes a subversive personality shift.

What sets this fantasy apart are well-rounded and complex teens. Andrew is a socially awkward, but sympathetic character at the outset. The development of his character is rather involving. Also notable is the relationship between his respected cousin Matt and charismatic friend Steve, running for class president. In spite of Andrew’s lack of social status, they share a genuine friendship, united by the bond of the magical powers they receive. When Steve convinces Andrew to use his newfound skills in the high school talent show, Steve’s desire to help is emotionally affecting. It makes Andrew’s actions toward him a bit harder to accept later. Andrew becomes a most supremely disgruntled young man. Certain behaviors, borne out of frustration, are understandable: robbing a convenience store so he can pay the pharmacist to fulfill his mother’s prescription. (Although wouldn’t carefully lifting people’s wallets from afar been less confrontational?) Other times his emotional angst has all the sincerity of a line reading on a soap opera audition.

Chronicle is 2/3 of a really satisfying drama. What starts out as a thoroughly engaging setup devolves into your standard supervillain run amok at the end. The collection of adventures leading up to Andrew’s admittance to a hospital in the final act are invariably entertaining. I appreciated the joy of discovery the three boys had getting used to their newly acquired abilities. The script has a sense of humor. When they purposefully move a woman’s car in a parking lot as a practical joke, it’s utterly indicative of what real high schoolers would initially do with their powers. The story exhibits a legitimate ambition to cultivate three-dimensional characters with bona fide emotion. That’s what makes the eventual devolution of the narrative so depressing. A story about a telekinetic teen outcast with an unsupportive parent, bears more than a passing resemblance to Stephen King’s Carrie. Both teens unleash untold mayhem as revenge against their enemies. That was a characteristic weakness in both as well. Despite the familiarity of the plot, Chronicle is still justifiably worth your time based on the character development of its three main stars. A solid debut from 27 year old Josh Trank, a young director to watch.

Chico & Rita

Posted in Animation, Drama, Music, Romance with tags on February 5, 2012 by Mark Hobin

From their humble beginnings in Cuba to the big time in New York City, the rise of Latin jazz is documented through the love affair of Chico and Rita. The narrative is a bit conventional. It’s your standard rags to riches story and it hits all of the soap opera stereotypes you’ve seen a million times. If this was a live action drama there might not be enough here to engage our attention. However the chronicle never loses sight of our two protagonists as the focus. I found this to be a beautiful expression of jazz and Latin music during the 1940s and ‘50s in Havana and New York.

Chico & Rita is a rather unconventional animation. Every frame is drawn in a technique that qualifies as more than a mere cartoon, it’s art. The drawings employ a very clean graphic style, bold and bright with thick lines. The look and the mood of the era are exquisitely captured. The atmosphere, street scenes, and fashions are quite evocative. The uncharacteristic approach in which the drama takes its time is lovely. The production unfolds at a leisurely pace to tell its tale. Characters move at the deliberate pace of natural people. Their expressions aren’t nearly as detailed as the elaborate backgrounds, but they suggest much more than they show. Nuance and silence aren’t attributes usually associated with a cartoon, but they occur here. Even the sound effects get things just right, from the way the piano tones echo through a room or an idling car engine to footsteps across the floor and the sounds of traffic outside a window, everything has the feel of real life.

The film highlights Latin jazz and the compositions are sumptuous. Anyone with an appreciation for jazz will find much to enjoy here. The moviemakers clearly have a genuine affection for the genre. Spanish director Fernando Trueba who won the Academy Award in 1994 for Belle Époque joins Spanish artist Javier Mariscal and Mariscal’s younger brother Tono Errando, in directing Chico & Rita. Although this is a fictionalized account, artists Tito Puente, Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker all make appearances here. These people give the fable a historical truth. Chano Pozo, a conga player in Gillespie’s band, is in a cameo here as well. His untimely death becomes a minor plot point. Cuban pianist Bebo Valdés, wrote the score and plays on the soundtrack as Chico. The movie which contains parts of his own life is dedicated to him. Idania Valdés (no relation) provides Rita’s singing voice. Her performance of “Bésame Mucho” is one of many standouts. Rita is positively seductive. Not since Jessica Rabbit has an animated creation been so sexually suggestive. In case you misunderstand, Chico & Rita is definitely NOT for kids.

The story arc may have the clichéd trajectory of a Behind the Music TV episode, but that’s because so many showbiz careers really have followed that career path. The main characters aren’t particularly likeable but they’re very authentic. They behave like human beings driven by lust and greed. These individuals curse, smoke, do drugs and have sex. They’re not sensitive or cloying.  What they are is a convincing depiction of real people and attitudes of a certain time period. That uniqueness is kind of refreshing. But most of all, this is a love letter to a bygone era made by aficionados who truly appreciate Latin jazz, which was essentially a mixture of bebop and Cuban folk. It’s a visually lush and beguiling re-creation that earned this a surprise Oscar nomination for Best Animated Feature. The picture draws attention to this beautiful music and I can think of worse things than reveling in these poetic rhythms for 94 minutes.

The Woman in Black

Posted in Drama, Horror, Mystery, Thriller with tags on February 3, 2012 by Mark Hobin

Generic horror film about a young lawyer who journeys to a remote house and finds a ghost bent on revenge. A gothic setting has always given ghost stories an atmospheric touch. But right from the start, the structure feels oddly familiar, like the writer might have recently read Henry James’ The Turn of the Screw. Technically this tale is based on a 1983 novel by Susan Hill. It begins with three young girls having a tea party with freaky looking dolls. Then, as almost hypnotized, they walk simultaneously like zombies out the window to their death. We don’t even know who these children are, so it’s difficult to care at this stage. It’s supposed to be alarming, but the scene is a Gothic horror cliché. English location? Check. Creepy toys? Check. Creepy children, check. And that’s before the opening credits.

In the lead role, Daniel Radcliffe plays an attorney sent to attend to Eel Marsh House, the estate of Mrs. Drablow, a woman who has just died. His boss has informed him that this is his last chance to prove himself or he’ll be out of a job. He’s a widower who’s left his son in the care of a nanny. A callow youth with boyish features, Radcliffe is not particularly convincing as the head of a family, though he sports sideburns and a hint of stubble to convince you otherwise. There’s an air of seriousness from our glum protagonist that says “I’m trying really hard to establish I‘m not Harry Potter.”  I accepted his character as it was the least of the narrative’s problems. He arrives in the town and everyone regards him with the stock melodramatic hatred of an outsider they don’t want involved in their business. He spends most of his time in the crumbling estate. At this point the plot starts establishing mood and for awhile I was entertained. There are many instances where the soundtrack amplifies a sound to surprise the viewer. A few of those are expected in any haunted house picture, but that’s essentially the only scare this silliness has up its sleeve.

Watching Daniel Radcliffe walk around a spooky house gets to be pretty tiresome. He walks down the same corridor so many times, I understand why this has been jokingly dubbed “Harry Potter and the Haunted Hallway”. It probably would have milked a little more money out of this dreck. After a while boredom sets in as it lulls you to sleep. That is until you are startled awake by the loud blasts of noise on the soundtrack that happen every 10 minutes. The jump scares become so routine, so lazy, I started laughing. One has a crow flying into a room that sounds like a bobcat. Just in case you missed it the first time, they literally have the crow screech again like 15 seconds later. I mean, at least use a different sound! An eerie face suddenly appearing out of the shadows is a scare used a lot. I must admit I did have some fun counting how many shock noises there were. But by the 12th one I kind of lost track.

The Woman in Black is a thoroughly unimaginative film. It’s too bad because the production designers really did their homework. As a period piece, it has atmosphere to spare. The look of Victorian England is nicely captured and the costumes and music all have the look of quality. But look closer. Discerning viewers will realize there’s nothing here but your standard issue supernatural thriller with jump scares. The script is creaky and old like the dilapidated mansion he explores. The saga ultimately leads to a conclusion that basically renders the entire mission a worthless failure. The moral of the story? Next time the townspeople tell you to leave, you should leave!

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