Tag: Wes Craven (Page 2 of 2)

Weekend box office: Can a horsey biopic or a darkly premised romcom disconnect “The Social Network”?

Personally, I would think that, if only because of the eternal fascination of tween girls for all things equine, “Secretariat,” about the seventies triple-crown winner, would be the more likely film to unseat the early Oscar favorite from writer Aaron Sorkin and director David Fincher, “The Social Network.” However, jolly Carl DiOrio (whose background music on his video has become distractingly un-jolly) thinks not, while L.A. Times box office guru Ben Fritz projects a possible $15 million photo-finish between it and “Life As We Know It,” a poorly reviewed rom-com with a bizarre and unlikely premise — Kathryn Heigel and Josh Duhamel hate each other but are somehow saddled with the custody of their dead best friends’ children without their prior consent and, naturally, fall in comedic love.

For its part, “Secretariat” is getting decent, but not too excited reviews. From Randall Wallace, a director with a style that is both big “c” and small “c” conservative and written by Mike Rich of “Finding Forrester” and “Radio,” the tone is definitely old school and inspirational. There’s an audience for that. Perhaps reading more than is there because of Wallace’s past films, Andrew O’Hehir of Salon both praised and damned the film politically, only to be slammed in turn by a liberal of a less snarky nature, Roger Ebert, who writes that “Secretariat was not a Christian.”

On the other hand, the week’s other new release, “My Soul to Take” marks the return of Wes Craven to the slasher horror genre after five years with a 3-D entry that DiOrio thinks has a shot at “the mid-teen millions.” The movie is being sequestered from critics and sure sounds like a retread of past dead teenager films. On the other hand, even as a squeamish guy who will never, ever see his “Last House on the Left” or “The Hills Have Eyes,” I’ve always admired Craven — I’ve been able to make it through a few of his films — and he was nice to me and some other geeks when I met him as a teenager. I won’t be mad if it does better than expected.

In limited release are far more movies than I have time to talk about tonight adequately, but I’ll mention a few anyway.  “It’s Kind of a Funny Story” is actually not such a limited release, as its being opening in 742 theater nationwide. It a dramedy featuring the underrated Zach Galifianakis from the team that made the highly acclaimed indie dramas “Sugar” and “Half-Nelson,” that is dividing critics to some extent, with my colleague Jason Zingale being not too impressed.

We also have some potential Oscar material with the young John Lennon biopic “Nowhere Boy” and potential retching material with the remake of the ultra-controversial grindhouse torturific horror rape-revenge legend, “I Spit On Your Grave” (also on my “never, ever see list”). “It’s a Wonderful Afterlife” is an Anglo-Indian production being touted as a combination of “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” and “Shaun of the Dead.” Finally, I wish I could say better things than I did in my review of the latest from my favorite non-auteur living director, Stephen Frears, “Tamara Drewe” but ex-Bond-girl star Gemma Aterton is definitely worth a look.

Weekend box office preview: It’s a “Nightmare” all around

So, we have just two major releases this week and while one is hard-edged remake of a franchise-spawning eighties horror hit and the other is a purported family film, to me all signs this weekend in terms of major new releases (and one tiny release) scream: “Be afraid, be very afraid.” For the most part, the critics aren’t disagreeing.

For starters, we have “A Nightmare on Elm Street” which brings us Jackie Earle Haley in the role made famous by Robert Englund — the child-murderer of everyone’s dreams with the specially augmented fingers, Freddy Kruger. Now, as someone who is such a wuss that he was unable to get past the first twenty minutes or so of the original on VHS — that Wes Craven guy really knows how to scare people — I’m not really one to judge. However, the critics are thoroughly unimpressed with the new version directed by another music video alum, Samuel Bayer, granting it a dismal 11% “Fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes as of this writing.

nightmare_on_elm_street01

Still, even if the original version is regarded as something of a classic today by critics, this movie has “critic proof” written all over it. Indeed, jolly Carl DiOrio, assures us that it’s “tracking” very well and will top the box office with “as much as” $30 million for Warner Brothers. He also gets a bit less jolly in his video this week and actually complains about the use of the word “reboot” to describe films like “Nightmare.” Well, considering that you’re starting over an existing franchise as if the original had never happened, I’m not sure what you’re supposed to call it. It’s not only a remake.

Continue reading »

Sundance movie moment #2

Earlier this week, Michael Winterbottom’s film version of Jim Thompson’s pulp classic, “The Killer Inside Me,” provoked an angry reaction from some in the audience during the post screening Q&A. At issue: scenes of intense violence by the sociopathic antihero of the film (Casey Affleck) against some of the female characters, including one reportedly disturbingly grisly scene featuring Jessica Alba. Today, Nikki Finke is reporting its purchase by IFC Films.

Say “Sundance movie,” and most film fans tend to think of either social issue dramas and documentaries, or low-key tales of everyday life; when I was there, one writer I talked to said he was having a hard time finding synonyms for “unlikely friendship.” Still, this is not the first time a film to premiere at Sundance caused a ruckus for its violence. In 1992, a highly touted film from a previously unknown filmmaker featured a scene that was said to cause walk-outs at every screening. According to Wikipedia, later festival walk-outs included make-up effects wizard Rick Baker and, most ironically of all, horror director Wes Craven (the original “Last House on the Left” and “The Hills Have Eyes”). Of course, in our post-“torture porn” world, the “Reservoir Dogs” torture scene seems pretty restrained today. It’s still brilliant and not easy to watch — in a good way.

I was actually going to embed the scene here, but I realized at the last minute that every version is “embedding disabled by request” for whatever reason. And so, below is the film’s famed NSFW (for language) opening sequence. You can, however, see the infamous “ear scene” here.

The Last House on the Left (Collector’s Edition)

If the aim of filmmaking is to provoke a response in the viewer, then Wes Craven’s original “The Last House on the Left” must be considered a massive success. For anyone with even a shred of decency, it’s a tough movie to sit through, and I found it be just that some 15 years ago when I first saw it. With the remake in theatres, a DVD re-release of the 1972 “classic” was a no-brainer, and I figured I’d give it another spin and see how I felt about it today. The good news is that my decency-ometer must still be working, because the first half of the film had me squirming and made me feel ill. On the other hand, as I’ve since seen far more depraved fare such as Pasolini’s “Salo” and Will Ferrell’s “Talladega Nights,” I also came away from it with more of an appreciation for what Craven unleashed all those years ago. One wonders if the Manson family killings were an influence on the piece, as it strongly evokes that time and place.

The story, if you can call it such, revolves around escaped convict Krug (David Hess) and his posse of animal followers, and what happens when they kidnap two teenage girls, Mari (Sandra Cassel) and Phyllis (Lucy Grantham). What follows amounts to little more than rape, torture and death. It goes on seemingly forever, and it’s all done in a documentary style for maximum effect. The happenings are juxtaposed with scenes of two bumbling, ineffective cops, who might be there for comic relief, but really serve the narrative’s third act, which is all about taking the law into your own hands. In the last half-hour, Krug and Co. by chance arrive at the home of Mari, where her parents discover the fate of their daughter and exact revenge against the lunatics. Once you get past the generally off-putting nature of the entire affair, the biggest problem with “Last House” is that the climax isn’t anywhere near as harrowing as the setup. You never really feel that Krug and his cronies get what’s coming to them, although there may be a point buried somewhere beneath it all that people such as the parents could never achieve the same levels of brutality as Krug. Finally, there’s the weird, folksy score written and sung by Hess himself, which serves as unsettling narration. If the movie weren’t twisted enough, those songs take it to a whole other level of sickness.

Click to buy “The Last House on the Left”

A Chat with Mitch Pileggi

You may know him as FBI Assistant Director Walter Skinner on “The X-Files” or, more recently, you may have thrilled to his recurring role on “Stargate: Atlantis” as Col. Steven Caldwell, but either way, if you’re a sci-fi fan, you probably recognize the face of Mitch Pileggi. Pileggi’s resume is wide and varied – he’s recently popped up FX’s “Sons of Anarchy,” has turned up on CBS’s “CSI” and “Cold Case,” and was a regular on ABC’s short-lived (but thoroughly brilliant) “Daybreak” – but now it’s The CW’s turn. After a one-off turn on “Reaper,” Pileggi has found his way onto a flashback episode of “Supernatural,” playing Sam and Dean’s grandfather. We spoke to Pileggi in conjunction with the episode, which airs on Oct. 2nd, which gave him the opportunity to praise the cast of that show, speak to the variety of work he’s done, and stand bemused at people’s fondness for his 1989 cinematic collaboration with Wes Craven.

Stay tuned for…

Continue reading »

Newer posts »

© 2023 Premium Hollywood

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑