In the realm of horror remakes, this one is right up there with Rob Zombie’s Halloween (stop it), Marcus Nispel’s Texas Chainsaw Massacre (quiet down) and Matt Reeves’ Let Me In (SHUT UP!). Sam Raimi reteamed with partners Bruce Campbell and Rob Tapert to make sure things were done right, and their handpicked helmer, first time feature filmmaker Fede Alvarez did… not… let… them… down. A remarkably dark and brutal experience, there is blood o’plenty (to keep the gorehounds happy) and enough legitimate dread to wonder if this novice is a new terror maestro. Based on the results here, we’re ready for the much rumored pairing of heroine Mia and our previous champion - Ash!
There is probably no other director working today (we said “working”, David Lynch) whose latest offerings we look forward to more than Danny Boyle. He is a genre jumping auteur that always delivers, even when his material (The Beach, A Life Less Ordinary) lets him down. In this case, it’s a return to the neo-Hitchcock homage he made in his youth, the excellent Shallow Grave. As with any true artist, he uses all his cinematic tricks to take us into the multilayered story of an art heist gone wrong. With compelling performances from a stellar cast and enough flash to keep us focused, he once again proves his aesthetic mantle… and then some.
It’s hard for foreign filmmakers to make the transition to our Western movie ways. Call it getting lost in translation or used and abused by an unsympathetic Tinseltown, but for the most part, directors from other countries tend to come to Hollywood, cash in their creative carte blanche, and then return home with horror stories about interference and mainstream mandates. In this case, Park Chan-wook (he of the infamous Vengeance Trilogy) applies his brilliant aesthetic and undeniable vision to a tale of a young girl’s gloomy coming of age. Into her already sad life walks the weird Uncle Charlie. A delightful thriller deconstruction ensues. Just amazing.
If Primer was indeed a preamble to what director Shane Carruth could do with a movie camera, Upstream Color is the proof of said potential. Dream-like, evocative, and filled with complicated context, this nearly literally examination of confronting and freeing yourself from your demons defies easy description. Lyrical, defiant, and plotted to the beat of its own narrative drummer, we wind up with the greatest Eraserhead riff ever attempted (sans the baby-hate biological horror angle). At this point, Carruth establishes himself as the next great moviemaking genius, a combination of vision and viability that those in the same skill set can only hope for. Whatever he does next, it can’t come soon enough.
If ever a film could be called a walking, talking (and drinking… and drugging… and fornicating) work of pure pop art, it would be Harmony Korine’s ode to the annual college student excuse for wanton hedonism. Sure, it may look all nude and naughty on the outside, but the mind behind Kids, Gummo, and Trash Humpers really wants to push the boundaries of youth culture excesses. Our four heroines are like a debauched hydra, one just wants to escape, another believes in the power of personal indulgence (to a point) while the other two end up showing just how far they can take this whole wanton ‘coming of age’ conceit. With James Franco delivering an Oscar worthy performance as a white rapper with a Scarface obsession, Korine channels everything from MTV to his own personal experiences. The result is a masterpiece of mindless overindulgence.