Friday, March 30, 2007
“Serial killers appeal to people because they’re self-contained evil units and are easily adaptable to a mono-drama. I think people are unconsciously attracted to their sexual power. Serial killers are sexual fiends who can have anybody they want. The way they have them is to possess them for brief moments, sexually abuse them, torture them and kill them. The idea of conscienceless sexuality appeals to the nihilism in people. That’s what I think serial killers are, and why they have become so popular in the culture these days.”
-- James Ellroy
Friday, March 23, 2007
The first is called "torture porn," and examines the almost complete domination of the horror genre by torture films. Why it works, why it doesn't, and where it comes from...
"Torture porn." It's a phrase I've used from time to time to reference the rise of movies (the Saw series, the Hostel series, Turistas, Chaos, and so on) featuring extended and messy deaths and punishments for its sweaty, attractive stars. You might guess that turn of phrase means I'm not much of a fan, and you'd be right. But for better or worse, torture porn is the face of modern horror movies. God help us, let's take a look.
When some people want to get a free drink or maybe a one-night stand, they say they’re with the band. Alan Conway goes one further by claiming he is the band. In this case, Conway claims to be Stanley Kubrick. Just dropping that name is enough to excite anyone he’s around, and for one brief evening and maybe the cost of a bottle of cheap vodka,
As cons go, it’s a pretty good one. Just about everyone in the western hemisphere knows three or more movies Kubrick’s done, even if they don’t know the man himself. Likewise, nobody outside film buff circles could tell you what he looks like. Kubrick is famous without being ubiquitous. His work is artistic but still accessible. The mere claim turns Conway’s shabby clothing and strange mannerisms into artistic eccentricity. You can get away with a lot if you give someone a whiff of celebrity. By the time they’re pounding on the wrong door or calling the wrong number looking for you, you’re on to the next target of opportunity.
Friday, March 16, 2007
Chris Rock has mellowed with age.
This was the thought that returned to me again and again while watching I Think I Love My Wife. It’s not just that he and Louis C.K. have adapted their movie from the French New Wave film Chloe in the Afternoon. It was the way every scene that seemed to be going for the jugular instead veered off and just clipped a vein. Here and there you think Rock’s Richard Cooper is going to veer into dangerous territory, that maybe he’ll do something to make himself a touch less likable. Maybe instead of just thinking about bad decisions he’ll actually make some, and then I Think I Love My Wife will have its teeth in you.
There’s a disorientation to Premonition. Not the one victimizing Linda Hanson (Sandra Bullock), a woman forced to live the week of her husband’s sudden death out of sequence. The disorientation is a lack of center to the film, a lack of thematic direction, a problem exacerbated by indistinct direction from Mennan Yapo. The performances are serviceable, but the material never lets the actors do much beyond reacting to the unlikely and the improbable. And no, I’m not talking about the fantasy elements of the story. I’m talking about the plot holes and shifting motivations.
Sunday, March 11, 2007
So what’s the interest? Jim is played by Julian McMahon, known to some as Dr. Doom, or the even more notorious Dr. Christian Troy on FX’s Nip/Tuck. That’s what makes Jim so interesting in an otherwise deeply uneven movie; what, exactly, would compel an actor known for outlandish roles to play someone so seemingly mundane?
Friday, March 09, 2007