When I tell people I’m into watching and making horror films, some try to shrivel into themselves like a turtle – with others, you practically hear the eyes rolling in their heads. They seem to chalk the entire genre up to consisting merely of the ghoulish or the cheap trick, whereas, I’ve found the horror genre to be fertile ground for exploring human tragedies (The Descent) or tinkering with our own mythologies (zombies, vampires, etc.).
Horror films to me aren’t scary; there remains a distance. It’s always a guy in a rubber mask, the knife is fake, and the dark is nothing to be afraid of. There are always cinematic artifices that maintain the boundaries between reality and fiction: a film’s score, the editing, or the spectacle of special effects. Even as a child I don’t know if I’ve ever been truly disturbed, unsettled at my core, by a horror film
Until now. Continue reading
Whenever we as human beings are privy to something truly extraordinary, something that ignites an emotional power we usually only get glimmers of, we effusively try to convey the minutiae of that moment to others. 21 Jump Street is just such an occasion. With every new scene, every new cut, something hilariously brilliant and unexpected is lurking around the frame. Your throat’s going to go raw from cheering and your hands sore from clapping. This is what re-make dreams are made of.
Posted in Filmsmith Faves, Reviews
Tagged 21 Jump Street, Action, Channing Tatum, Chris Miller, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, Comedy, Jonah Hill, Michael Baccal, Phil Lord, scott pilgrim
Around the same time J.J. Abrams was showcasing his ode to Spielberg, Super 8, Joe Cornish’s Attack the Block was in limited release and getting none of the attention it deserved. In contrast to Spielberg and Abrams’ penchant for quaint middle-American childhoods, Attack the Block is all about urban hoodlums putting their life of hard knocks to use when they have to fight an alien invasion. They aren’t going to share Reese’s pieces or heartwarming moments with the invaders – they’re going to fuck ‘em up. Continue reading
Nicolas Winding Refn should be mandatory viewing for film nerds. The audacity and craftsmanship of his filmmaking put him on par with the likes of Darren Aronofsky (see Refn’s Bronson), but with a sense of subtlety (Valhalla Rising). Pair Refn with the magnetic Ryan Gosling (Half Nelson, Lars and the Real Girl) and a high concept heist film that co-stars Bryan Cranston, and you have an unholy concoction of brilliant variables unseen since the release of the Double Down (with less heart disease). But this is far from an action film… Continue reading
Comedic auteurs are few and far between, or they were, until recently. The last decade has offered up so much fresh talent, as alluded to in my recent review of the second season of Eastbound and Down, that we seem to be in a veritable age of comedy. Somewhere between Judd Apatow’s ubiquitous productions, and Adam McKay’s strange blend of raunch and politics, for the first time in recent memory funny movies are becoming quite good. Continue reading
Frequently, films of the big budget sort have issues because the men with money don’t respect the filmmaking process. When building a skyscraper you don’t rush it to completion – otherwise you get catastrophic results. The same goes for visual storytelling, in which character development will never happen if you don’t allot the appropriate amount of time to build a connection with the audience. Rise of the Planet of the Apes respects this, which is why it’s the surprise blockbuster hit of the summer. Forget Thor or even the decent Captain America, this film may even be better than Harry Potter 7 Pt 2. Not bad for a bunch of damn dirty apes. Continue reading
It’s not often that a genre film doesn’t realize that it’s a genre film. A comedy plays within the conventions of its niche and most horror films do the same. Daybreakers is one of the best vampire films since the 1980’s unleashed Fright Night and The Lost Boys because, like its forerunners, it knows how to play to the genre trappings as intelligent entertainment. That’s usually the best horror fans can expect from the genre. But films like The Blair Witch Project, Let the Right One In or Stake Land treat a horror tale like a drama and not a creature feature – which makes it all the more frightening. Continue reading
Posted in Filmsmith Faves, Reviews
Tagged coming of age, Drama, Horror, post-apocalyptic, religious fundamentalism, road movie, Stake Land, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, The Road, Vampires