Monday, January 21, 2013

Fool's Views (1/1 – 1/13)

Criminey. And here I thought these Fool’s Views would just write themselves in this wonderful brave new world of automation. What a dirty gyp. Ah well, if that’s the way it’s going to be, then I guess we better get on it.

Greetings, everyone! Hope ’13 has been treating everyone well thus far. Got off to a bit of a slow start this year, due to self imposed HIDDEN HORROR editing duties (which I should be working on right now, truth be told), rehearsals, social gatherings, etc., but that seems to be the way things have historically gone. The frantic race to the end of the year, followed by the slow ramping back up as the new. “Slow,” of course, being a relative term in the Dr. AC universe.

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



John Dies at the End (2012) (1st viewing) d. Coscarelli, Don (USA)

The writer/director of Phantasm, Beastmaster and Bubba Ho-Tep is finally back behind the camera with a deliciously dark and hilarious adaptation of David Wong’s novel about a couple of self-anointed demon hunters who uncover (and accidentally partake in) a dangerous street drug from another dimension. Having not read the source material, I’ll assume that Coscarelli has taken his freewheeling cues from there; the result being a well-suited artistic blend where the delightedly off-kilter viewer has no chance of anticipating where the next paranormal curve ball will come from. With interdimensional leaps, cell phone chats from beyond the grave, oodles of splatter (CGI and practical), telepathic canines, carefully calibrated physical comedy and playful banter from its estimable cast of fresh faces (Chase Williamson, Rob Mayes, Fabianne Therese) and seasoned veterans (Clancy Brown, Paul Giamatti, Doug Jones, Glynn Turman), and a overall playfulness helping to smooth the admittedly and enjoyably herky-jerky narrative thread, there’s a lot here to like. I sure did.

Flick (2008) (1st viewing) d. Howard, David (UK)

When socially awkward London “rocker” youth Hugh O’Conor is brutally beaten at a local dance, he whips out his switchblade, makes mincemeat of half the high school populace, then flees the bloody scene only to drown when he drives his car off the closest pier. Years later, after the waterlogged vehicle is recovered, the teen thug inexplicably revives from the dead and continues his quest for vengeance against those that wronged him. (Funny how he failed to kill any of his attackers during the original spree, but be that as it may…) O’Conor, who won raves for his portrayal of young Christy Brown in My Left Foot and The Young Poisoner’s Handbook (while genre fans might recall his turn as young Robbie in the much maligned Rawhead Rex) stars in this quirky rockabilly zombie fantasy, with slumming Academy Award winner Faye Dunaway coyly nibbling the scenery as a one-armed detective from Memphis curiously called from across the pond to help. But it is writer/director Howard’s unique stylistic flourishes (comic book panels, heighted rear-screen projections) that prove the main attraction, creatively masking a presumably limited budget with enough pizzazz to ease his flimsy script’s shortcomings. Reliable Brit character actor Mark Benton provides solid support as the disbelieving lawman assigned to the case, while octogenarian Liz Smith steals her every scene as O’Conor’s loyal mum.

House at the End of the Street (2012) (1st viewing) d. Tonderai, Mark (USA)

Jennifer Lawrence, probably still wondering how she got roped into this, headlines as a mopey Chicago teen recently relocated to the nonspecific boonies where the kids are either misunderstood freakjobs (a thuddingly dull Max Theirrot) or hedonistic jerks (everyone else). Theirrot would probably be in the latter group as well if not for the fact that his twisted sister murdered his parents nearly a decade ago; he now resides in the murder mansion alone…right across the way from Lawrence and mom Elizabeth Shue. There’s a novel twist lurking in the center of this humdrum affair, one that actually has some potential juice, but it’s pummeled into submission by a groaningly predictable second act and David Louka’s inane dialogue and half-baked characters. The 21st century twists put on old 80s slasher tropes (Lawrence forwarding her land line’s calls to her cell so mom won’t know she’s not home, handing out romantic thumb drives instead of mix tapes) can’t save the fact that this too-slick PG-13 thriller is devoid of personality (and blood, for that matter) to register with anyone.


Haywire (2012) (1st viewing) d. Soderbergh, Steven (USA)

Real-world MMA fighter Gina Carano is a badass operative for hire, doublecrossed on her latest mission and blah blah blah… Haven’t we seen this movie, like, a million times before? The fight sequences, ostensibly the main attraction, are realistically realized but fail to truly dazzle beyond the fact that the familiar faces involved in them (Michael Fassbender, Ewan Macgregor, Channing Tatum). Plus, the patented “Soderbergh cool” seems at odds with the high calorie action thrillride this clearly wants to be.

Snow White and the Huntsman (2012) (1st viewing) d. Sanders, Rupert (USA)

A grand retelling of the time-honored fairy tale, with Kristen Stewart as the fated heroine, Charlize Theron as the sinister sorceress, and hunky Chris Hemsworth as the lout-turned-love interest. There’s plenty of amusing CGI, but the best special effects are seeing full-sized thespians Ian McShane, Toby Jones, Nick Frost, Ray Winstone, Bob Hoskins, et al. seamlessly shrunk down to play dwarves. Theron’s given little to do except stand around amidst the visual splendor…much as she was earlier last year in Ridley Scott’s Prometheus. When will the Oscar winner ever get to act again?


Argo (2012) (1st viewing) d. Affleck, Ben (USA)

I'm sorry Ben didn't get his Best Director nod, but all this bellyaching about it seems unnecessary considering it's only his third movie. It's a well-done thriller with a laudable amount of suspense –especially considering most of us know the outcome – but is it revelatory? Not really. (Note: I've still not seen AMOUR, so I can't say if Haneke is more deserving of the spot, but the Austrian is way overdue. Personally, of the five, I’d be in favor of giving Spielberg the boot.) Also, while there’s no question I love Alan Arkin, he's just doing his Alan Arkin schtick here. Bumping Samuel L. Jackson (Django Unchained) or Dwight Henry's (Beasts...Wild) worthier performances for the Hollywood veteran is Oscar’s biggest misstep for me.

Silver Linings Playbook (2012) (1st viewing) d. Russell, David O. (USA)

Another big winner in the nominations race, there’s a lot to like here from Bradley Cooper’s manic obsessive lovelorn to crazed sexy widow Jennifer Lawrence, to Robert De Niro and Jacki Weaver as Cooper’s co-dependent parents (De Niro actually shows up here, a pleasant surprise for the master thespian-turned-coasting paycheck grabber), to Russell’s whizbang cracking dialogue and swirling, whirling camera. However, while I enjoyed it mightily in the moment, the further away from it I got the more troubled I was by its perceived “love is all you need” final analysis of mental illness. As many can attest, all the love and understanding in the world doesn’t fix a broken mind. I liked it, but felt like there was a scene missing somewhere.

2013 Totals to date: 7 films, 7 1st time views, 3 horror, 0 cinema


  1. "Bumping... worthier performances for the Hollywood veteran is Oscar’s biggest misstep for me."

    Ah, but you see that *is* the Oscars.

    1. The Academy's motto: "You can always count on us doing it wrong."