Friday, August 23, 2013
Netflix This Movie! Vol. 39
Event Horizon (1997, dir. Paul W.S. Anderson) In space, no one can hear you're fucked. I am aware that Event Horizon is not a smart movie (one critic called it "A r**arded goth version of 2001: A Space Odyssey"), but it's a horror movie I like quite a bit. Is it derivative? Absolutely. Needlessly gory? Yes, but in a fun Wishmaster way. The Clive Barker-esque imagery is really freaky for mainstream sci-fi/horror, the production design is terrific, the music is awesome (mostly done by the band Orbital and composer Michael Kamen) and it's got skinny Fishburne and a gone-crazy Dr. Alan Grant. If Sam Neill (maybe the most dependable person on the planet, but THEY'RE IN OUTER SPACE, which is the problem you see) is in cahoots with Satan, you know you're really done for. Alright, here goes: Event Horizon is better than the original Alien. Yeah, I said it! It's scarier, the characters are more interesting and it's got Richard T. Jones! I know Patrick doesn't like Event Horizon but I don't know why. Leave a comment, buddy.
Dead End Drive-In (1986, dir. Brian Trenchard-Smith) This past week I finally caught up with this Ozploitation movie from 1986. It's been written about before on this site and Patrick made it a Netflix pick during Junesploitation, so I'll keep it brief. It's as entertaining as he says it is and I'm seeking it out on DVD so I can add it to my own collection. The movie takes place in an alternate near-future of 1986 where gangs are out of control. If you've ever read or seen anything written by Frank Miller, that's what we're talking about here: lots of trench coats and punks with flashy accessories (visors, hats, etc). The idea is that the local drive-in movie theater is like Hotel California: you can check in any time you want, but you can never leave. By the end, the movie presents some pretty interesting things and even veers into some social commentary, but it's also a lot of fun. And I love the crazy things that Australians say in these Ozploitation movies. For instance, what do you say when you've just driven your '55 Chevy up a ramp and over a building, crashing through a neon sign? You yell "Beauty!" I've used that many times this week. Tomatoes are on sale at the grocery store? Beauty! Breaking Bad has started up again? Beauty! Discovered an awesome gem of an Ozploitation flick with a killer soundtrack on Netflix Instant? Beauty!
Tabloid (2010, dir. Errol Morris) I have been a fan of Errol Morris for so long; he may be my single favorite documentarian. I know for ages Roger Ebert used to answer the question "What is your favorite movie?" with "Errol Morris's Gates of Heaven." Sadly, Gates of Heaven, a film about pet cemeteries, is not available on Netflix. Tabloid, his most recent film, is available. I can still remember seeing Tabloid in a theater three years ago; like most of Morris's work, it stays with you. Tabloid tells the twisted tale of Joyce McKinney, a woman with a very interesting past. More I cannot say. Like most great documentarians, Morris structures his films as meditations on the subject, inviting the audience through multiple filmic methods (long shots with little narration, interviews uncut and presented in real time, pacing) to think about the subject at some depth. ALSO AVAILABLE ON NETFLIX: Morris's Vernon Florida, one of the funniest documentaries I have ever seen, and The Thin Blue Line, which proved that a man on death row was actually innocent and hastened his release from prison.
The Rundown (2003, dir. Peter Berg) I never thought that I could make movies, but the movie that I would have made if I had the ability would be The Rundown (the other one is In Bruges. There goes my career). It's got my early 2000s favorites: Stifler, Christopher Walken, and The Rock, really doing the full repertoire of Dwayne Johnson things: physical badassery, but with intelligence and humor. Seann William Scott keeps doing his Stifler avatar, but establishes good chemistry with Johnson. In one of my favorite scenes, Walken realizes that people around him do not know about the tooth fairy.
A Horrible Way to Die (2010, dir. Adam Wingard) With the great You're Next hitting theaters this weekend, what better time to revisit director Adam Wingard and writer Simon Barrett's 2010 collaboration A Horrible Way to Die? Not only does it share the same writing/directing team, but the three stars -- Amy Seimetz, AJ Bowen and Joe Swanberg -- are all in You're Next, too. It took me two viewings to warm up to this movie, mostly because the camerawork is overly busy and distracting. But now I really like it. It's a horror movie as a sensitive indie drama. Great performances, interesting twist on familiar genre elements. It's good.