Weird. Brilliant. Stunning.
“Under the Skin” is by far the most memorable movie of the first few months of 2014. It’s as if the script for “Species” had landed on Stanley Kubrick’s desk and he had decided to transform it into a stark mood piece that drills into your psyche and will stay there forever.
This is what we talk about when we talk about film as art.
Scarlett Johansson plays the Woman Who Fell to Earth, an alien of some kind who literally assumes the human features of, well, someone who looks like Scarlett Johansson in a wig, tight jeans, camisole and fur coat. Calling herself Laura, she cruises Scotland in the sort of van favored by movie serial killers, hitting on young lads. (Johansson speaks in a British accent, the better to play the part of a damsel in semi-distress looking for directions.)
It seems important to Laura to know if these men have families or if they’re single and unattached. If they’re in the latter category, she invites them into her van and then into her house.
And that’s when things get really creepy and mesmerizing, with Laura taking off her clothes while walking slowly backward, and the latest hookup taking off his clothes while moving forward, and the score growing louder and ever more screechy and intense.
Does she murder the men? Are they being preserved for their organs to be harvested? Are they held in some sort of black, inky limbo, to be dealt with later? The authentic, docu-style look of the film gives way to dialogue-free, audacious, symbolism-laden visuals that might have some viewers heading for the exits. At times “Under the Skin” almost dares you to say, “What the …?” Suffice to say no good comes of accepting Laura’s invitation for a lift and climbing into her van…
—>>> FOR FULL PRINT REVIEW CLICK HERE <<< —
Sometimes my Pop Culture Radar doesn’t work for spit.
When I first heard about a TV show in which secondary celebrities would team up with professional instructors for a dancing competition, I thought that show would last about as long as “Cop Rock.” And when I learned Hollywood was going to turn the old “Transformers” cartoon/toy franchise into a movie, well, that seemed like a recipe for disaster.
Same thing with the NFL draft. I never understood the mentality of superfans who would don jerseys and face paint and spend hours in a cavernous arena, cheering or booing when the NFL commissioner announced who their favorite team was taking in the seventh round. Have an off-season, people. And I certainly never thought the NFL draft would provide material for a highly rated extravaganza on TV.
Now draft day is the basis for a feature film — a sentimental, predictable, sometimes implausible but thoroughly entertaining, old-fashioned piece.
Directed by the sure-handed Ivan Reitman and bolstered by breezy performances from Kevin Costner and Jennifer Garner, “Draft Day” is a cornball “Moneyball,” one of those “all in one day” movies in which game- and life-changing decisions are made and fates are decided over a period of about 12 hours. (I always wonder what the characters do after one of these “all in one day” movies. Stay in bed, exhausted?)
Kevin Costner has a thing for Americana sports films, from “Bull Durham” to “Field of Dreams” to “For Love of the Game” (all baseball) to “Tin Cup” (golf). Now he moves from the playing field to the executive suite, playing Sonny Weaver, the beleaguered general manager of the hapless Cleveland Browns, who are coming off another losing season and in desperate need of some star power to energize the loyal, long-suffering fan base.
One of the things I like about this movie is it’s set in the real NFL (which means, of course, it’s going to be largely complimentary to the NFL way of life). This is not one of those football movies where teams have names like the Chicago Stallions and the Los Angeles Warriors, and they’re all playing in the “North American Football League.” Sonny wheels and deals with the Seahawks and the Broncos in a parallel NFL universe. (Seattle’s fans are restless and the coach is under siege. Obviously “Draft Day” was filmed before the most recent Super Bowl.)
Costner looks, sounds and talks like a general manager as he deals with the most crowded agenda any GM has ever faced on Draft Day. Ready?
—->>> CLICK HERE FOR FULL PRINT REVIEW <<< ——
Here is a horror movie that will reach out and grab that spot on your spine that produces all the chills.
It takes a high level of confidence, maybe even audacity, to set out to make yet another haunted-mirror movie — but thanks to the wonderfully twisted style of director Mike Flanagan and four terrific young actors playing two characters some 11 years apart, “Oculus” is one of the more elegant scary movies in recent memory.
Expanding his 2006 short film to feature length (and, not surprisingly, leaving plenty of room for an “Oculus 2” et al.), director, co-writer and editor Flanagan delivers a carefully paced, superbly photographed psychological thriller in which the villain is a sadistic and very patient entity that seems to revel in playing excruciatingly elaborate mind games before exacting its bloody toll.
Brenton Thwaites is Tim Russell, who is released from an institution on his 21st birthday, some 11 years after a horrific tragedy left both his parents dead. Karen Gillan is his 23-year-old sister Kaylie, who waits about five minutes after Tim’s release to remind him they’ve got a job to do: They must kill the antique mirror responsible for the carnage to their family.
Well, it’s not just the mirror. It’s whatever the hell is inside that mirror, wreaking the usual horror-movie havoc, i.e., making plants die, filling the night with ominous whispering sounds, messing with the family dog, jamming cell phone signals and causing inexplicable fluctuations in the temperature.
The dog. Won’t these characters in horror movies ever listen to the dog? If Max or Rusty or whatever his name is starts howling at unseen threats, whimpering in the night and otherwise acting up, LISTEN TO THE DOG AND GET OUT…
—->>> CLICK HERE FOR FULL PRINT REVIEW <<<—-
You are currently browsing the archives for the Uncategorized category.