Monday, October 10, 2011

Halloween Challenge #3 and a few tidbits

So the third horror/thriller of the month: Scream 4. This was alright. It certainly was the best since the first film, but it never matches the fun and cool of the original. However, the snarky, self-aware horror tropes are done fairly well. In this installment, we're looking at the trend of remaking horror classics. At one point there is this exchange between Ghostface and the blond movie buff:

"Name the remake of the groundbreaking horror movie in which the vill..."

"Halloween, uh, Texas Chainsaw, Dawn of the Dead, The Hills Have Eyes, Amityville Horror, uh, Last House on the Left, Friday the 13th, A Nightmare On Elm Street, My Bloody Valentine, When A Stranger Calls, Prom Night, Black Christmas, House of Wax, The Fog, Piranha. It's one of those, right? Right?"

[Ed note: Her list made me realize that I was confusing The Mist for The Fog in my last post...]
Anyhoo. There were certainly clever bits, such as having a "ghostface voice app" on your smart phone, or the high school movie club idolizing Randy from the original. The largest problem is that the main new girl, Emma Roberts, isn't a particularly good actress, and when it finally comes time for her to hold the screen on her own without support, she just doesn't hold your attention very well. It's particularly tough, since (giving a somewhat-phoned in performance) Neve Campbell is right there, highlighting the difference the two. The supporting cast was mostly good; Rory Culkin and Hayden Panitierre as movie club horror buffs were the most entertaining. And Anna Paquin and Kristen Bell show up for an cute bit. Unfortunately, someone left Courtney Cox on shrill, and Marley Shelton has no discernable purpose, other than to remind us all of some of the ickier parts in Planet Terror.

Finally, I've always liked how Ghostface really comes off as "someone trying to run around in a halloween costume" and therefore occasionally trips, or gets beaten up. It works as a much more realistic slasher film. So, all in all, okay film. Still not as good as the original.

In other news, I've seen a few movies recently which probably deserve mention:
Thor - I really enjoyed this much more than I expected to. The backstory of Valhalla's war with the Frost Giants - or whatever - was a bit rough. But I think they were smart in handing the film to Kenneth Branagh since it deals with a lot of mythological archetypes and his classical training seems to hold him in good stead. And while I'm personally never going to root for Thor over Loki (I mean, come on), I enjoyed Chris Hemsworth's broadly comic take on Thor. All in all, a pretty decent entry in the superhero cannon.

And speaking of Tom Hiddleston, I also finally checked out Midnight in Paris, since it has been out for like 8 months, and consequently has a bit of oscar buzz. I was not a huge fan. It felt like Woody Allen got in the way of a better film. Maybe that is because his schtick has never done much for me and that Owen Wilson doing his best impression wasn't going to win me over either. The city is lovingly shot, even for someone who doesn't have much of an interest in Paris. And the idea is very cute. Really, though, the historical cameos steal the show; Kathy Bates as Gertrude Stein, Alison Pill as Zelda Fitzgerald (Tom Hiddleston plays F. Scott briefly), Adrien Brody as Dali. Corey Stoll walks off with the picture as Hemingway. (Which reminds me of my favorite Chicken/road joke: Why did the chicken cross the road? Hemingway: To die. In the rain.) The problem with the film is that I cared far more about those bit players than Owen Wilson's twee problems, and I really would rather have seen a period piece with that cast.

I also saw Moneyball, which I enjoyed, but not quite as much as I had thought I would. Maybe it is because I put off seeing it for a week or two after the season ended and was subconciously sad there wasn't more of the actual game in the film. Or, actual talk about stats... In terms of being an adult movie, which is entertaining and accessible to those who don't actually care about baseball or stats, it works quite well. I think I was expecting more of an Aaron Sorkin influence, but he only revised the script and didn't actually write it. So there wasn't as much smart banter between Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill as I had hoped. I think I generally went in with my expectations a bit too high. But it is a good film. It just kind of made me want to re-watch The Social Network. And last year's world series.

And, finally, Drive. I don't know why it took me so long to getting around to this, since I had been SO excited for it. But I loved it. It is really, really wonderful. First up, and important to know before watching, there are not many car chases in the film, aside from the brilliantly shot opening. Also, knowing Nicolas Winding Refn's work (and his propensity for filming violence) is probably good. That said, I was just rivited by the whole film. The supporting cast is good, but much of the movie is just an understanded performance by Ryan Gosling. Also, the rumors of a bromance between Refn and Gosling must be true, because the movie is framed around Gosling to his best effect in each scene. It reminded me of Meet Me in St. Louis and how lovingly Minnelli filmed Judy Garland. I'm not a huge Ryan Gosling fan (although I think he does good work), but you seriously can't take your eyes off of him here. Hmmm... I'm finding it hard to word this without coming off as a fan girl. What I mean is, this character, the way he is shot, and the performance are all completely compelling. (And I'm sure those women who were fans of the Notebook will appreciate Gosling as eye candy, too.)

Furthermore, the movie just exudes cool. The retro 80s pink font in the titles, his varsity jacket and driving gloves, and the slow-burn, taut direction; all of of it is stylish fun. It's an art-house pulp film. It's awesome. Check it out.


Karen said...

The fake Hemingway quote is, "To die. Alone. In the rain."

Jessica said...