Adventureland (2009)

Adventureland.2009It’s 1987. You’ve just graduated from college but your parents have told you that they can’t afford to send you to Europe with your friends as a graduation present.

Here, James Brennan (Jesse Eisenberg) returns home and takes a job at Adventureland, one of the local theme parks.

There he stables into a relationship of convenience with co-worker Em Lewin (pre-Twilight Kristin Stewart), who is also sleeping with their Manager, Mike Connell (a non-awful Ryan Reynolds) on the dl. [Read more →]

Rope (1948)

I’m watching Alfred Hitchcock’s Rope (1943)  this morning, and it’s odd how the lense of time has turned a lighthearted society thriller into an unlikely, Gay sitcom.

Rope is, of course based upon the Leopold and Loeb case in Chicago, during the ’20s of the last century. Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb were two precocious University of Chicago undergrads (both 19 y.o.), who had taken Nietzsche too close to heart, and decided that the best way to exercise their new, Randian philosophy was to murder a 14 y.o. neighbor-boy, Bobby Franks, if only to determine if they could get away with it.

Though the Loeb case took place in Chicago in 1924, Hitchcock relocated his story to New York City, presumably in the late ’40s. The shocking thing here is how Gay the Leopold and Loeb characters appear by 21st c. standards. The villains in Rope are less monstrous than the real Leopold and Loeb because the two teenagers killed a younger boy; all of the characters in the Hitchcock film were adults. [Read more →]

‘Appropriate Adult’ (2011)

'Appropriate Adult' 2011Appropriate Adult (2011) is a two-part dramatization of the life of Fred West (1941–1995) a rural. British serial killer that operated in the British Midlands for over 30 years.

The twist is that the filmmakers concentrate upon the relationship between West and his Social Worker, Janet Leach, when he she is brought in to assist West in the mid-90s.

In the UK, the term ‘Appropriate Adult’ has been given to the advocates of mentally deficient citizens and children, much like a Social Worker.

Fred West was a piece of work — blue collar, illiterate and mentally impaired. West had been brought up in an abusive household where he was likely the victim of the sexual predations of both his parents. West also suffered numerous non-fatal head injuries that may have contributed to his disposition. [Read more →]

‘The Twelve’. Vol. 1 by J. Michael Straczynski

The interesting thing here is that Marvel has taken an entire team of early Timely Comics heroes from the 1940s and Steve Rogers’d them. Instead of one guy caught in the ice and revived 20 or 30 years later, it’s 12 characters and 60 years.

Many of these characters’ abilities seem to overlap in and only half of them have actual powers, but this is a pretty good read. They’re all fish out of water and like Alan Moore’s Watchmen, many of them have dark pasts. Unlike Moore’s super-team none of the characters anticipate contemporary Marvel or DC heroes — there is no Tony Stark, no antediluvian archers and there are no pantheon members or mythological figures. [Read more →]

‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’ (1961)

Dbreakfast at Tiffany's (1961)Has anyone ever appraised this films as anything but a sunny Audrey Hepburn vehicle? It’s one hour and 55 minutes of dissonance. Audrey Hepburn and George Peppard play two characters who are, by all appearances middle class yuppies living in Manhattan during the early ’60s. But this would be a mistake.

In the eponymous Truman Capote novella it is clear that Holly is a high-end call girl and Paul a gigolo. Blake Edwards’ film supresses the gauche details by making Peppard and Hepburn squeaky clean.

The juxtaposition between who these two characters appear to be and how they earn their money percolates in and out of focus as the story proceeds: [Read more →]

To Have and Have Not (1944)

Though this film bears the same title as Ernest Hemingway’s 1937  novel of the same name, it bears few similarities to its source material. I won’t fake any Hemingway scholarship here, only make a few observations:

The screenplay is written by Jules Furthman and William Faulkner, which feels like a bit of a tragedy, given that THaHN feels like most insipid kind of corporate, commercial film making. More on that later. Directed by Howard Hawks, it doesn’t seem to have a tonal center, as the noir elements don’t pay off.

Shot in 1944, while WWII was still raging and 2 years after  Casablanca (1942). THaHN is both an odd sort of  mirror and deconstruction of former. Bacall’s character, Marie ‘Slim’ Browning is definitely a person that you’d want to keep in front of you at all times. [Read more →]

‘The Thing’ (2011)

Matthijs van Heijningen Jr.’s ‘The Thing’ (2011) is nominally a prequel to the 1982 film of the same name by John Carpenter. Carpenter’s film was a remake of remake of Howard Hawks’ ‘The Thing from Another World‘ (1952), itself an adaptation of John w. Campbell’s novella, “Who Goes There?” (1938).

Despite the fact that 30 years separate both Heijningen’s prequel and Carpenter’s remake, that intervening 30 years was not enough time for Universal to figure out what made the first 2 films into the classics that they are. [Read more →]

‘Return of the Living Dead III’ (1993)

Zombie girlfriends, rebellious teens, fast cars, motorcycles and gunplay. To spell it out that way, it almost sounds like some other movie. Some other, equally improbable movie.

Of course, it’s just the 3nd sequel to George Romero and John Russo’s Night of the Living Dead (1968)  but this film belongs to the dramedy fork of the franchise that Russo took when he and Romero went their separate ways.

Of course, RothLD 3 was written, directed and produced by ’80s low-budget schlockmeister and H.P. Lovecraft aficionado, Brian Yuzna. Unlike it’s predecessors, it abandons the full-on campy excesses of predecessors Dan O’Bannon (Alien, Lifeforce, Total Recall)  and Ken Wiederhorn to inject the tragic pathos of teenage romance into the mix, and somehow it works marvelously. [Read more →]

Tentpole Genre Releases 2011

graves over at Nerd Blerp has put together a list of 2001 releases to anticipate and avoid.

The titles that stand out are as follow:

‘The Rite’ (January 28)
‘Captain America’ (July 22)
‘The Adjustment Bureau’ (March 4)
‘Thor’ (May 6)
‘X-Men: First Class’ (June 3)
‘Green Lantern’ (June 17)
‘Cowboys and Aliens’ (July 29)
‘Immortals’ (November 11)

Trailers are available on the Nerd Blerp site.

‘Tron: Legacy’ (2010) in IMAX 3D

There are a lot of cool and interesting things about ‘Tron: Legacy’: The visual updates on the conceptualization of the digital world first presented in the 1982 original; the sound design; the fact that a completely different production team got Jeff Bridges, who doesn’t normally do movies just for a pay check, to agree to appear in a sequel; the costume design; even the fact that a major movie studio (Disney) would take on a film that toys with something as box office toxic as moral themes. None of these things, however, are the coolest thing about ‘Tron: Legacy.’ [Read more →]