Call for Essays About Any Aspect of Popular Culture, Present or Past

 
Bookmark and Share
Text:AAA
Wednesday, Nov 5, 2014
These two Arsène Lupin pictures give viewers a glamorous look at the lives of jewel thieves, with sparkling dialogue and double-crosses abound.

Arsène Lupin, the dashing French jewel thief, was created by Maurice Leblanc soon after E.W. Hornung created the similar English thief Raffles. Warner Archive recently issued two Raffles movies as a double-feature on demand, and they’ve also obliged us with this terrific two-fer of MGM films about Lupin. While the Raffles movies are sophisticated entertainments, the Lupin films cross into real brilliance, and these prints are as sparkling as the dialogue.


In both films, the debonair Lupin plays cat and mouse with a clever and relentless detective. In Arsène Lupin, brothers John and Lionel Barrymore play these mighty opponents, with John constantly displaying his profile as the handsome Lupin while his limping brother fumes and frets as the crafty policeman.


Bookmark and Share
Text:AAA
Tuesday, Nov 4, 2014
There are only 364 days left until next Halloween, so get prepared to face the real horrors of the world with these ten titles.

It’s officially over. We’re done for another year. No more witches and warlocks, no more ghosts and goblins, o more zombies, werewolves, vampires, axe murders, hockey masked psychos, chainsaw wielding cannibals,  and other pop culture novelties. (Which reminds me that there’ll be no Frozen costumes—thank goodness.) Yes, another 31 October has come and gone, and with it, the desire for fright fans to indulge in all things menacing and macabre. For most, it’s a one shot deal, a night out in costume, a chance to have a few relatively safe scares and, maybe, to pull a few pranks.


For others, it’s a lifestyle, a 354-day-a-year struggle that only the last day in the tenth month can cure. All over social media and the blogsphere, those taken with terror post their Best and Worst Of lists. But once the bats have returned to the belfry, what then? How can someone celebrate the season of scares without having to go back to the Voorhees and the Myers, the Romeros and the Carpenters?


Bookmark and Share
Text:AAA
Tuesday, Nov 4, 2014
These two versions of the minor classic character Raffles are two peas -- or pearls -- in a pod.

A.J. Raffles was a cricket player and “Amateur Cracksman” (in other words, a safecracker) created by E.W. Hornung, the brother-in-law of Arthur Conan Doyle. Just as Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes took the public by storm and launched a thousand detectives, so did Raffles cover the other end of the criminous street with the concept of the “gentleman thief” who would raise so much hay in popular culture. After featuring in three silent films, Raffles made his succesful talkie debut in 1930 in the person of Ronald Colman, thanks to producer Samuel Goldwyn. David Niven played the role with as much success in the 1939 remake. Both versions are available on demand in this generous bargain from Warner Archive.


Bookmark and Share
Text:AAA
Monday, Nov 3, 2014
For a genre that rarely deviates from the cyclical and the tried and true (torture porn this time around, '70s throwback terror another), Horns is a welcome bit of weirdness.

It would be easy to categorize Horns as a YA take on an a standard adult horror concept. The foundation for Alexandre Aja’s film is a book by Stephen King’s kid, Joe Hill (perhaps best known for his novels, Heart-Shaped Box and NOS4A2), and yet all the more mature ideas and concepts have seemingly been tossed aside for a hipster love story which turns on faith, fallen angels, and the various symbolism one can carve out of horns, crosses, snakes, and fire. In fact, had Aja simply focused on these obvious allusions, and backed away a bit from the quasi-paranormal Pacific Northwest love story between our hero, Ig (Daniel Radcliffe) and his comely gal pal Merrin (Juno Temple), we’d have more terror and less Twilight.


Still, this is a good movie. Not a great one, and one lacking significant scares, but entertaining and engaging, albeit in starts and spurts. In fact, this is much more a fantasy than a typical genre offering, Aja shifting tone as readily as we’re reminded of the dreary Seattle backdrop. Our story centers on a young man named Ig Perrish (Radcliffe) who is accused of killing his girlfriend, Merrin Williams (Temple) and for the last year or so, the police have been trying to put together a case against him. With the help of his best friend/lawyer, Lee (Max Minghella), he’s avoided prosecution, though the constant pressure from the media, and Merrin’s father (David Morse) is starting to wear on him.


Bookmark and Share
Text:AAA
Thursday, Oct 30, 2014
The first Saw is really a whodunit. The next six are all about the "why".

Few filmmakers can claim a successful cinematic franchise. Fewer still have one based on their own original idea. So what does it say about horror maestro James Wan that he has not one, not two, but three wholly unique and undeniably profitable scary movie series to be proud of. Most recently, the Australian auteur delivered The Conjuring, a $20 million dollar revisit to old school ‘70s fright that netted nearly $320 million at the box office. With such numbers have come a prequel, Annabelle, and the inevitable sequel.


Before that, Wan was also responsible for the ingenious and devious dark ride, Insidious. Part One arrived in 2010 with little fanfare and fewer expectations and wound up bringing in almost $100 million in turnstile receipts. Part Two made even more money ($161 million) before the filmmaker turned things over to his partner in creepshow crime, Leigh Whannell (Part Three arrives in 2014). But before there was the subtle scares and throwback mentality of these two properties, Wan and Whannell rode a wave of rave reviews for a little something called Saw.


Now on PopMatters
PM Picks
Announcements

© 1999-2014 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters.com™ and PopMatters™ are trademarks
of PopMatters Media, Inc.

PopMatters is wholly independently owned and operated.