Arrogance: the essential toxin that drives the wealthy. For John du Pont, heir to his fabled family’s chemical fortune, it was a healthy dose of that poison chased with wild delusions that led him to murder Olympic wrestler Dave Schultz in 1996. Actually, he was way more bonkers than that, but Bennett Miller’s new film, Foxcatcher, avoids exploiting the tabloid sexiness of du Pont’s story in favor of a more subtle type of crazy – the ominous type that stays under your skin long after the theater lights go up.
The ballots for the Florida Film Critics Circle were due today. Here are my on point nominees. You know I’m right…
At some point in every relationship there comes a test of sorts that reveals the true crux of its foundations. Like farting in front of your spouse for the first time or running away during an avalanche. In director Ruben Ostlund’s brilliant Force Majeure, it’s the latter event that fractures a seemingly happy marriage. This wickedly sharp-eyed Swedish export explores the trappings of marital complacency and the deceptive appearance of security. While Gone Girl took on similar themes earlier this year in an extreme, tabloid manner, Force Majeure’s sensibilities are more in the line with a slowly burning melodrama (think Michael Haneke, if that helps).
Christ, where do we even start? Birdman (or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) is an unclassifiable visual feast that flirts with realism and fantasy. It’s a technical wet dream that unravels in real time, in a simulated one take. On the surface it’s about an aging actor struggling to stay relevant and reclaim his declining celebrity, while its undercurrents explore the madness of the industry.
The film and his role are entirely built around Keaton, whose has-been status as OG Batman makes him the perfect fit for ex-superhero actor Riggan Thomson’s tightie whities.
I haven’t updated in a while. Get off my back, I’m busy. Since I last dropped in, I attended the mighty Mile High Horror Film Festival in Denver, where I saw some rad films and got to rap with some greats. The crew at Mile High was beyond hospitable and I can’t tell ya how wicked it felt to wake up and see mountains outside my window. It went down at the Littleton Alamo Drafthouse, meaning the viewing/dining experience was top notch. I ate chicken sandwiches ALL DAY. I can’t wait for next year’s fest.
On the fiction front, I sold a short story to Thuglit, which will be in their winter issue come February or so. Been a fan of their rag for a while so I’m through the moon with adrenaline about that score.
In the meantime, here’s a rundown of my recent reviews, interviews, and editorials.
I remember seeing the trailer for Daniel Schechter’s Life of Crime about four or five months ago and being pretty excited about it. It’s based on one of my favorites in Elmore Leonard’s canon, “The Switch,” which is a prequel to “Rum Punch” (adapted by Tarantino as Jackie Brown). Life of Crime is also significant because it was the last time Dutch was closely involved with an adaptation of his work. He gets an executive producer credit on the film and although he passed away before its release, I have a solid feeling Dutch would’ve been happy as hell with Schechter’s confident, genuinely Leonardesque comic caper.
David Fincher’s Gone Girl, based on Gillian Flynn’s polarizing bestselling novel, is a marital horror show that’s going to keep spouses up at night wondering what the person sleeping next to them keeps secret. The story itself is pure pulp – a twisting, lurid crime tale with elements similar to (the better of) Lifetime’s original movies. But in the hands of an immaculate craftsman like Fincher, Gone Girl is a sleek work of art that deftly juggles black comedy and drama as it assaults the inner workings of a relationship. He picked the paperback out of the gutter and polished it off, leaving all of the story’s vitriol and venom intact…
Laika animation studio has been crushing the stop-motion game since their 2009 Academy Award-nominated Coraline. They followed up with the equally impressive Paranorman, and now their latest work of wonder, The Boxtrolls,finds the studio delivering its most subversive and wildly imaginative work to date. Not only is Boxtrolls hilarious and remarkably animated, it also tackles some heavy issues like impressions of genocide and the trappings of the class system. Surprisingly grim in tone and featuring a lively cast of voice-actors, The Boxtrolls is one to delight macabre children and adults alike.
In a lot of haunted house movies, the question the audience finds themselves asking is “Why the hell would you stay? Move out, jackass.” A few movies have addressed this problem by having an individual be the one that’s haunted, rather than the house (The Entity, Insidious). Kiwi filmmaker Gerard Johnstone found a more practical solution for his horror-comedy Housebound: the protagonist can’t leave the house or she’ll go to jail. Petulant petty thief Kylie (Morgana O’Reilly) is under house arrest at her mother’s home. When the paranormal begins to rear its ugly head, Kylie has no choice but to confront it.
Budd Boetticher’s The Killer Is Loose took the psychopaths off the streets and put them in the swell suburban homes of America, which certainly chilled audiences out of their bobby socks upon its release in 1956. Made 10 years after World War II, this film presents a different type of killer – one that’s more traumatized by war than he is simply mad. A sharply directed film noir, The Killer Is Loose is a strong B-picture that’s required viewing for folks interested in the evolution of cinema psychos.