Friday, June 28, 2013
Thursday, June 27, 2013
District 9 / ** (2009)
Wednesday, June 26, 2013
Anatomy of a scene: "The Shining"
Tuesday, June 25, 2013
"Stage Beauty" revisited; an underrated masterpiece
Original completion date: November 15, 2008
Monday, June 24, 2013
Big Business / **1/2 (1988)
Sunday, June 23, 2013
World War Z / *** (2013)
The Zombie Apocalypse that wreaks havoc in “World War Z” puts considerable distance between those other undead outbreaks we are used to in the movies. Forget the social commentary of George A. Romero’s endeavors, and abolish any notions you might have that this could be similar to the localized personal stories contained in “28 Days Later” or “Quarantine”; in Marc Forster’s new blockbuster, the scale of the attack is swift and unrelenting, and characters have almost no reaction time before they find themselves running for their lives down crowded city highways as they try to escape bloodthirsty masses. Any desire to catch your breath will be met with immediate dismay; here, little perseveres other than wall-to-wall chaos, and the small glimmer of hope that fuels the hero is of such miniscule proportions that you doubt any possibility for a tangible outcome.
Friday, June 21, 2013
The Cabin in the Woods / *** (2012)
It had to come to this eventually. After decades of blood spatters, machetes, screaming teenagers and heavy breathing killers wandering aimlessly through motion picture sets, someone behind the camera was going to inevitably ask, “Why haven’t we turned this formula on its head?” It’s really a wonder it took anyone this long. Horror films have been on a painful, exhausting downward spiral for more years than we care to remember, a slip made more disheartening when coiled by the realization that its origins promise so much more and even occasionally deliver something that is desired. That was certainly true with the “Scream” series – in which all victims watched horror movies and had self-awareness as a weapon – and even the recent “Behind the Mask,” which asked questions few movies of this nature had been willing to ask before, and do so with comical – and yet insightful – clarification. Now comes “Cabin in the Woods,” a horror film that not only has the nerve to upstage the convention, but also contemplates what all of it, past and present, may have meant in the grand bloody scheme of things. What it makes for is some of the most entertaining bloodshed I have seen in a movie of this type in ages. If there is finally a validation to the approach, it’s that these filmmakers dare to suspect their own intentions.
Thursday, June 20, 2013
Auto Focus / *** (2002)
"A day without sex is a day wasted.” There’s a mantra that might have been the backbone to a college comedy, but here it becomes the ill-fated destiny shared between two unlikely friends in “Auto Focus,” a movie about the disintegration of actor Bob Crane and his conflicted friendship with a man who, for better or worse, probably was a conduit for many of the actor’s unhealthy off-screen obsessions. They exist not in Paul Schrader’s semi-biopic like life-long comrades but more as if mere acquaintances strung along through the same seedy life experiences for over a decade. They gaze at one another often and participate in what they feel is deep conversation. But they really never know one another, and are slaves to a lifestyle that requires only physical engagement, and only long enough to achieve climax.
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