Tuesday, April 26, 2011

On the Road Again: 'Water for Elephants,' 'Incendies' and 'Stake Land'

This week's triple feature showcased three road trips - one an old-fashioned romantic Hollywood epic, another a heavy mystery set mostly in the Middle East and, finally, a gory apocalyptic vampire movie.

I was a little surprised to enjoy "Water for Elephants" and thought "Incendies" was solid, despite a few bumps in the road. "Stake Land" was enjoyable enough, but no more revelatory than anything George Romero has been up during the past number of years.

Here are my reviews for the week.

I'm vowing to start kicking out some full length notices on this site - not just providing links - this week. Friday will see the release of Werner Herzog's "Cave of Forgotten Dreams." Next week will provide for a wacky double feature - "Thor" and Jodie Foster's "The Beaver." Oh, yeah - and "Hobo with a Shotgun."

Monday, April 18, 2011

History Repeats Itself: 'Scream 4' and 'The Conspirator'

I've been meaning to do some posts for the site, but as you may understand - busy, busy. So, once again this week I've posted a link to my weekly wrap-up of films at Douglaston Patch.

This week's selections are Wes Craven's "Scream 4" and Robert Redford's "The Conspirator," both of which harken back to an old school mentality of filmmaking. Which is a good thing.

On the other hand, neither knocked my socks off. Redford, a great filmmaker whose "Quiz Show" and "Ordinary People" I adore, tacks a few unnecessary means of conveying his story that do not work. It is, however, a respectable costume and courtroom drama with solid performances, especially Robin Wright.

I wanted to like Craven's film a little more than I did. That's not to say I didn't enjoy it. I did - especially the coda during which Neve Campbell reminds Ghostface Redux about the first rules of remakes. Also, the film takes some shots at YouTube, torture porn, Hollywood's obsession with remaking every horror film from the past three decades, iPhones, etc. I can endorse that.

It's just that the film still falls way short of Craven's 1996 original, just as the other two sequels slightly disappointed. Overall, it's a solid series compared to most horror franchises. It's just that the original "Scream" is hard to match.

Check out my reviews here.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Sisters Are Doing It for Themselves: 'Hanna' and 'Meek's Cutoff'

In most ways, Joe Wright's "Hanna" and Kelly Reichardt's "Meek's Cutoff" could not be any different. One is a violent, stylized thriller and the other a stripped down revisionist western with low key lighting that moves along at a quiet pace.

On the other hand, both pictures feature stories about strong willed women lost in one world or another who are doing their best to survive. Check out my reviews here.

Later this week, drop back by for my notices on Scream 4 and The Conspirator.

By the way, is it me or has this year been pretty blah for films so far? I've seen a handful of pictures I really liked - "Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives," "Barney's Version," "Win Win," "Insidious," "Hanna" and "Of Gods and Men" - but none that I believe will make any sort of best lists at year's end.

There are a few other critical favorites - "Certified Copy" and "Meek's Cutoff" - that I enjoyed, but more on an academic level. And a few others, "Cold Weather" and "Source Code," that I thought were admirable misses.

I'd love to hear your thoughts. Share them in the comments section.

Monday, April 4, 2011

'Insidious' Scares, 'Source Code' Confounds and 'In A Better World' Mostly Gets It Right

I'm glad to report that I've seen the first genuinely frightening movie in some time. That would be, of course, James Wan's haunted house phantasmagoria, "Insidious."

This week's other selections include Duncan Jones's "Source Code," which is a mostly enjoyable head trip that only falters when it comes time to explain itself.

Also in theaters is Susanne Bier's Academy Award winning "In A Better World," a solid multi-character film that acts as a treatise on violence. The film has received some less than glorious reviews from critics following its Oscar win. And while I'm not sure the film's culmination is completely successful, the picture still has its fair share of powerful moments, solid performances and stunning cinematography. It's well worth a look.

Later this week, I'll be checking out Kelly Reichardt's acclaimed "Meek's Cutoff" and Joe Wright's action thriller "Hanna."

Here are my reviews for "Insidious," "Source Code" and "In A Better World."