Posts Tagged ‘thriller’

Dukin’ It Out With The Babadook

Posted 17 Mar 2015 — by Ezra Stead
Category Film Reviews, Movies I Got

By Mike Shaeffer 

The Babadook, Australia / Canada, 2014

Written and Directed by Jennifer Kent

The Babadook is a thriller that depicts the downward spiral of an increasingly unhinged single parent.“Children are made readers on the laps of their parents.”

― Emilie Buchwald

When marketing an independent film, producers want a trailer that will reel in any number of demographics. Their targeted audience may be those who love a good thriller, but the product is cross-marketed as a horror film or a psychological drama. Such is the case with the Australian outing The Babadook, released in the U.S. last November. While this film owes a bit to the horror genre, it works most effectively as an emotional thriller. Not only does it fit best within the thriller genre, it is most chilling when the ambiguities are cemented in the notion that this is not a supernatural haunting akin to The Amityville Horror; this is not some spin on the Necronomicon— the cursed book of flesh from Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead franchise. The Babadook is not a modern take on The Bad Seed, nor does this film involve cursed ground filled with angry spirits a la Poltergeist. The Babadook is a thriller that depicts the downward spiral of an increasingly unhinged single parent. The mother desperately loves her child, but she is overwhelmed, inept, and unable to combat the depression, fear, and anxiety she suffers after losing her husband and having to raise her boy alone.  Read More

Ezra’s Favorite Movies Of 2014

Posted 17 Feb 2015 — by Ezra Stead
Category Film Reviews, Movies I Didn't Get, Movies I Got

By Ezra Stead 

The Lego MovieThis was the year I realized that my annual goal of seeing pretty much every movie released in a given year was more impossible than ever. The reason for this is the exponential growth in the number of films now being released in the digital age. When I started doing these lists back in 2001, there were about 300 official releases per year; now it’s closer to 700. With that in mind, I’d like to start with a partial list of movies I meant to see in 2014, but just didn’t get to in time. Then, to acknowledge the relatively arbitrary nature of these lists in general, I’m listing my Top 10 in categories by which each film corresponds to another one from my Top 20 (only the Top 10 is ranked in order of preference). It’ll make more sense as you read it, I promise.

WHAT MIGHT HAVE BEEN (40 movies I didn’t see in time for this list, in alphabetical order): Bird People; The Boxtrolls; Calvary; Chef; Citizenfour; Coherence; The Congress; Enemy; Fading Gigolo; Filth; Force Majeure; Foxcatcher; Frank; Fury; Gloria; Happy Christmas; Ida; Joe; A Letter to Momo; Leviathan; Life After Beth; Like Father, Like Son; Lucy; Men, Women & Children; A Million Ways to Die in the West; Mr. Turner; Moebius; A Most Violent Year; Night Moves; Palo Alto; The Rocket; The Sacrament; St. Vincent; Song of the Sea; Starred Up; Stonehearst Asylum; Top Five; 22 Jump Street; Virunga; Wrinkles.

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Under The Skin – Pretty Pictures Signifying Nothing

Posted 05 Nov 2014 — by Ezra Stead
Category Film Reviews, Movies I Didn't Get

By Ezra Stead

Under the Skin, UK / USA / Switzerland

Directed by Jonathan Glazer

Under the Skin is all about atmosphere and striking imagery, at the expense of any real narrative or character development. Species is a 1995 sci-fi/horror/action thriller about a terrifying extraterrestrial monster that assumes the physical form of an attractive and notoriously easy earth girl, then uses this form to dupe horny earth men into going somewhere private with her/it. She then reveals her true form and eats them. Or uses them to incubate her eggs. Or something. Point is, the guys meet a messy demise; glorious ‘90s nudity and gore abound. How do you take that basic, very cool idea and make an intolerably tedious art film out of it? Ask Jonathan Glazer.  Read More

Love Crime & Passion – Do You Want Taut Suspense Or Lurid Ridiculousness?

Posted 19 Sep 2013 — by Ezra Stead
Category Film Reviews, Movies I Didn't Get, Movies I Got

By Ezra Stead

Love Crime, France, 2010

Directed by Alain Corneau

Passion, Germany / France, 2012

Directed by Brian De Palma

Love Crime is a taut, compelling thriller with a subtle element of sexual tension mixed in with its clever revenge scheme. It was probably a mistake on my part to watch both of these films within the same week, seeing as how they are very similar in plot and incident throughout the first two acts of each film. However, when I heard that Brian De Palma’s latest film was actually a remake of a fairly recent French thriller I had been meaning to see anyway, and that the original film was readily available to stream on Netflix, I decided “Why not?” I say it was a mistake mainly because I think I would have enjoyed De Palma’s film, Passion, more if the many elements directly adapted from the earlier Alain Corneau film, Love Crime, had been entirely new to me. I also feel that those elements were better handled in the original film, a taut, suspenseful, supremely clever thriller upon which De Palma apparently felt he could improve by adding a lot of his classically lurid, dreamlike De Palma flourishes, as most recently seen in the far superior Femme Fatale (2002) and the definitely inferior The Black Dahlia (2006). Read More

Dorian Gray – The Portrait Has Aged Better

Posted 12 Jul 2011 — by contributor
Category Film Reviews, Movies I Didn't Get

By Scott Martin

Dorian Gray, UK, 2009

Directed by Oliver Parker

Gray is all about the atmosphere in this version, not so much about the preservation of Wilde's wit nor the story itself. You would think that turning an Oscar Wilde novel into a sensationalized, nearly exploitative camp piece of pulp fiction might prove impossible, but Oliver Parker would prove you wrong; shamefully so, seeing as how his adaptations of other Wilde works, like An Ideal Husband (1999) or The Importance of Being Earnest (2002), have been rightly lauded. Even more amazing, Dorian Gray failed to find a distributor in the United States, and was doomed to a direct-to-DVD release here, after a theatrical release in the United Kingdom. As it stands, though, Dorian Gray is all about the atmosphere in this version, rather than the preservation of Wilde’s wit or the story itself. It’s unfortunate, but that’s what we’re left with at the end of the film; lots of pomp, but very little circumstance.

Honestly, it might be more accurate to consider this as a prequel to Stephen Norrington’s 2003 Alan Moore adaptation The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. Of course, this is an adaptation of the 1891 Oscar Wilde novel The Picture of Dorian Gray, but so little is done to honor the work that it seems cruel to connect the two. The ideas behind the two frames remain the same, but the results are entirely different. Dorian Gray (Ben Barnes), a youthful man of twenty or so, inherits a fortune after his father passes away. With that fortune comes the posh lifestyle of the early 20th century and a slew of new friends, the most important of which proves to be a man named Henry Wotton (an excellent Colin Firth), who teaches young Dorian to not be afraid of pleasure in all its forms, and another named Basil Hallward (Ben Chaplin), who paints a wonderful portrait of Dorian and wishes to put it on display. Of course, he can’t. Why? Because the Dorian in the picture ages, rather than Dorian himself, and the life Dorian is leading – a life bitter with corruption and decadence – isn’t to kind to him. Read More

Buried – A One Man Show

Posted 25 Jun 2011 — by contributor
Category Film Reviews, Movies I Got

By Scott Martin

Buried, Spain / USA / France, 2010 Much of the film Buried's success is owed to Ryan Reynolds, who puts on a one man show with more gusto than he's shown on film before.

Directed by Rodrigo Cortes

I’m always more interested in suspense films or horror films that tap into universal fears and the things that could actually happen to us, rather than the supernatural. For instance, films like John Carpenter’s The Thing (1982) or Brian De Palma’s Carrie (1976), while excellent films in their own right, are more escapist nightmares than things right outside your door. It’s films like Buried, however, that recharge my faith in modern horror/thriller cinema. Director Rodrigo Cortes takes one of our most common fears and puts it to extraordinarily effective use. There’s a political message, a bit of a love story, family stories, a thriller, and a horror movie, all stuffed into a box. And just a box. For 90 minutes. Read More

Hanna

Posted 04 May 2011 — by contributor
Category Film Reviews, Movies I Got

By Scott Martin

Hanna, USA / UK / Germany, 2011

Directed by Joe Wright

Saoirse Ronan stars as the title character in Joe Wright's Hanna. The most disappointing thing about Hanna is that the theater wasn’t crowded: less than half full, and everyone there loved it. Opening night, no less. Perhaps everyone went to see David Gordon Green’s Your Highness instead? Even so, the people who opted for Your Highness probably wouldn’t make up the proper crowd for an arthouse thriller directed by the man behind Pride and Prejudice (2005) and Atonement (2007). This is purely speculation, as all tastes are different. I’ll certainly be seeing Your Highness at some point, but I’m paid to. So, that point is probably moot, too. Regardless, the fact that the theater had elbow room, room for me to store my bag in another seat, and only a total of probably forty or so people … it’s a bit depressing. Read More