Monday, September 3, 2012

Fool's Views (8/20 – 9/2)

Howdy folks,

As you might have noticed, the H101 blog has expanded from a strictly Fool’s Views-based weekly wrap-up format to include individual posts about certain films. Hopefully this will not prove tedious for longtime readers – it was a format change I resisted for years, not wanting to clutter up the recaps or be a nuisance posting 5-6 times a day. But my experiences at Fantasia and BIFFF have taught me that the online audience is one seeking immediate gratification through a minimum of keystrokes – they want to read reactions to a certain movie as opposed to a certain movie fan’s ongoing journey, and be able to easily Google search it. And, as was pointed out to me at Fantasia, if the point of writing is to be read, it’s hard to be read when you can’t be found. Apparently, shocking as it might seem, no one is searching for “Fool’s Views” when they are deciding what to watch that night.

Therefore, while I will continue to post my weekly log, you will also be able to find individual postings of each week’s horror Views. Still haven’t decided whether it’s worth my while creating a new blog to showcase the civilian Views – I know I don’t want to clutter up my horror-centric column with a bevy of civilian posts. Still working that one out, but as you can see below, some weeks are lighter on the blood and beasts than others, so we should probably do something, right?

At any rate, we’re back with another go-round. Seems I was playing catch-up this time, covering only flicks from the past few years (including an array of current multiplex fare). Hopefully this won’t offend the history buffs too much – we’ve got plans to do some digging next time around, not to worry.

As always, feel free to leave your two cents worth – we’ll make sure you get some change back.

Enjoy!

HORROR:


Apparition, The (2012)
(1st viewing) d. Lincoln, Todd (USA)

Ashley Greene and Sebastian Stan star as an insufferably plucky couple, full of contemporary badinage and cutesy quarreling, who take up residence in her parents’ desert community subdivision. This lovely glass-and-adobe would-be dream home has the nasty propensity toward cultivating mold, mangling wooden hangers and leveling lovable canines (the latter’s aftermath yielding 2012’s unintentional laugh leader, “Your house killed my dog!”) It’s clear that writer/director Lincoln would like this to serve as his generation’s Poltergeist – a film it clearly echoes in both setting and subject matter – but instead of moving cemetery headstones, the premise behind the supernatural hijinks lie in Stan’s former college crew’s wrongheaded attempt to recreate a celebrated parapsychological event. (Former Harry Potter alumnus Tom Felton is saddled with the unenviable task of spouting pseudo-scientific gobbledygook and exposition by the truckload, none of which chills or thrills.) Aside from few fresh ideas and images that deserved a better vehicle, Lincoln’s weak dialogue and “that was it?” ending are unlikely to satisfy anyone.





Penumbra (2011) (1st viewing) d. Bogliano, Adrián García / Bogliano, Ramiro Garcia (Argentina)

The same day a massive solar eclipse is scheduled to take place, hottie Spanish rich bitch Cristina Brondo heads to Buenos Aires to show a prospective tenant her walk-up sublet, a transaction that reveals itself to be anything but standard. The purveyors of last year’s nitroglycerin-fueled chiller, the Bogliano boys go to great efforts to make their upper middle class protagonist as unlikable as possible (she tazers a homeless guy, reveals she’s having an affair with a married man, and just generally puts off everyone around her), the upshot being that when she finds herself in need of allies, they are few and far between. A well crafted thriller that treads familiar waters until its suckerpunch ending nudges into supernatural straits.




CIVILIAN MINI-VIEWS:


Beasts of the Southern Wild (2012)
(1st viewing) d. Zeitlin, Benh (USA)

A feature so audaciously original yet emotionally accessible, this offbeat fable of a New Orleans community’s struggle for survival in the face of a storm (seen through the young eyes of the stunningly gifted Quvenzhane Wallis is easily one of my favorite films of 2012. Jaw dropping imagery both realistic and fantastic of nature, but always anchored in the deep emotional connections between Wallis and Dwight Henry as her father. Yep, it’s as good as you heard. Adapted by Zeitlin and Lucy Alibar from her stage play.





Chloe (2009) (1st viewing) d. Egoyan, Atom (Canada)

Julianne Moore suspects husband Liam Neeson of cheating on her, so she enlists high end prostitute Amanda Seyfried to test his resolve. Considering the young actress’ huge eyes, lips and womanly curves, it’s quite a test, one that Moore herself may not be able to pass. The plot twists aren’t quite as shattering as Egoyan might have been angling for, but as erotic thrillers go, it makes the grade.





Dark Knight Rises, The (2012) (1st viewing) d. Nolan, Christopher (USA)

While I enjoyed Nolan’s latest Batman chapter well enough, it felt like all the capable cast members (and might there have been too many this time around?) were performing under a huge heavy blanket of tamped down, modulated “cool” without a shred of genuine human emotion. This is not to say that people don’t occasionally scream and bellow – it’s that its banality (Bane-ality?) and predictability just don’t register.





Easy A (2010) (1st viewing) d. Gluck, Will (USA)

As a sexy-but-don’t-know-it brainiac whose reputation is slandered via the high school rumor mill, Emma Stone decides to embrace her fictitious slatternly side, a tactic that proves both beneficial and disastrous (and thoroughly hilarious). The combo of Bert V. Royal’s quippy dialogue and Gluck’s stellar cast (Stanley Tucci and Patricia Clarkson are particularly ribald as Stone’s uber-cool parents) proves the secret weapon behind this star-making career turn for the young actress. Unafraid to engage in physical comedy and with lived-in, whipsmart repartee, Stone may be this generation’s answer to Sandra Bullock (and I love me some comic Sandra).





Expendables 2, The (2012) (1st viewing) d. West, Simon (USA)

Not quite as cinematically offensive as its predecessor, the sequel to 201_’s love letter to aging 80s action stars ups the cool factor by adding Jean Claude Van Damme and Chuck Norris to the ensemble and bumping Bruce Willis and Ah-nold up from cameos to supporting parts. Stuff frequently blows up real good, but the dialogue feels written by third graders and the groan-inducing one-liners are strictly lacking in zing. Maybe the third time will be the charm.





Little Miss Sunshine (2006) (2nd viewing) d. Dayton, Jonathan / Faris, Valerie (USA)

Removed from the Oscar buzz under which I first viewed it (I felt it was taking up Pan’s Labyrinth’s 2006 Best Picture slot), I enjoyed this enjoyably quirky indie comedy a lot more this time around. While the members of a dysfunctional family making their way to a SoCal beauty pageant feel deliberately bizarre in their constructs, the talented ensemble retain their humanity throughout – quite a trick considering the outlandishness surrounding them.





Mon Ami (2012) (2nd viewing) d. Grant, Rob (Canada)

Reviewed in greater depth here, I revisited the Great White North yukfest with the femalien (via the screener writer/director Grant gave me at Fantasia) after being informed that Dawn Kitley hated it. Um, sorry to tell you, dear, but you’re wrong. This shinola is funny.





Premium Rush (2012) (1st viewing) d. Koepp, David (USA)

An easy, breezy action programmer about Manhattan bicycle messengers, seen through the lens of a mysterious package toted by maverick pedal pusher Joseph Gordon-Levitt. There’s some fun interaction within the various team members, but it’s really corrupt cop Michael Shannon’s show – the always reliable character actor is clearly having a ball here, goosing his brooding onscreen persona to greater animation than I’ve seen before. One downside: due to advents in CGI, I have no idea how much genuine bike riding are on display here and how much are handled by the after-effects team. This bums me out.





Sucker Punch (2011) (1st viewing) d. Snyder, Zack (USA)

Speaking of after effects, that’s pretty much all you get with Snyder’s Watchmen follow-up, a CGI-smudged exercise in style that fails to impress primarily because of its ornate, manicured falseness. So preoccupied is Snyder with filling every frame with just the right shade of production design, he fails to serve up the necessary human element. As a result, bombastic fantasy sequences of a quintet of asylum-bound hotties don’t pack any heat or substance – just pretty pictures flashing by.

2012 Totals to date: 412 films, 356 1st time views, 221 horror, 155 cinema

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