I love John Carpenter’s Halloween. It’s one of my top-ten favorite films of all time. In fact, I love it so much that it makes me furious when people say that it’s stupid or dated or… whatever else people say. I don’t even understand anachronistic criticism. It’s a simple, frightening, and timeless work of cinema. Michael Meyers is the most frightening silent killer because nothing about Halloween (at least the original) is convoluted or overly explicative. We basically know that he’s evil, nobody knows why, and that he’s back to kill again. AND IT WORKS! I miss simplicity. Halloween is on a par with Psycho as far as I’m concerned.
I saw Gravity twice in IMAX and it left me speechless on both occasions. The acting is great and the script is tight, but the visuals are fucking unbelievable. Gravity is huge and beautiful and utterly terrifying in a way that is rare even for the cinema. The pacing is excellent and the final sequence manages to make Earth look as wondrous and truly awesome as space. Gravity aims to inspire awe and it succeeds. I wish that I had not been forced to wait a month after the U.S. release to see it in the UK, because in some ways, I think that the meteoric hype detracted from the experience, but to evaluate the film purely on its own terms, Gravity is the most amazing experience you’ll have in theaters this year. IMAX is a must.
#157-HOUSE OF THE DEVIL
I don’t really know why more people aren’t talking about The House of the Devil. And yes, I know that people talk about it on the internet, but I mean in real life. The House of the Devil is one of my absolute favorite contemporary horror films (though it doesn’t feel contemporary). The film has so many great things going on: the music, the tone, the slow-burn, the casting. Frankly, if the opening sequence had been the whole film, I would have fist-pumped an equal amount. If you love horror and you haven’t seen this, then you’re in luck. Because it’s on Instant.
It’s been a few weeks since I saw the premiere of Drinking Buddies at the BFI’s London Film Festival and I haven’t stopped thinking about it since. Drinking Buddies is the most authentic-feeling anything that I saw in theaters in 2013 and it’s one of my top five of the year. I could go on and on about how great Olivia Wilde is and how I want to marry this film, but ultimately it would be a disservice to the material.
Just see it.
The Omen is amazing. I watched for the first time in October at the Prince Charles Cinema in London and loved every second of it. The music, the cinematography, the relative restraint—-everything about The Omen worked for me. In a lot of ways, it’s a more tame version of William Friedkin’s The Exorcist. It’s not quite as good, but still holds its own and is often genuinely scary.
If you’re a horror fan and you haven’t yet seen it…
Paul Greengrass’ new film, based on a true story, is one of the most intense that I’ve ever seen. Tom Hanks gives one of the best performances of his career as the eponymous captain and the film jets along at a breakneck pace after a weirdly slow first twenty.
Any time I mention the film, people feel impelled to tell me that the “real” Captain Phillips was actually an asshole and that the whole debacle could have been avoided.
I don’t care. Film is never a portrait of reality.
John Carpenter is one of the greatest film directors of all time. His pre-90s work is so unique and stylish. I will admit that I’ve never loved The Thing quite as much as Halloween or They Live, but I still think that it’s an incredible movie with some amazing effects that hold up remarkably well. The Thing is one of the classic Carpenter/Russell team-ups and it doesn’t let down. The claustrophobic, Arctic, horror scares are just as effective now as ever. Perfect October viewing.
The Sacrament was probably the most exciting film that I saw at LFF and one of the most visceral reactions I’ve had to anything that has come out of this calendar year. The Sacrament is a fake documentary that tells the story of a radical Christian cult led by the charismatic “Father”. I am a huge fan of Ti West’s past projects, The House of the Devil and The Innkeepers as well as his creative contributions to V/H/S and V/H/S/2, but The Sacrament is kind of a curveball. It has a different energy to it than his other films. It’s utterly terrifying, but also profoundly moving in a way that few things are. Now I don’t want to spoil anything, because 90% of the fun is shock and awe and Magnet won’t be releasing the film until early 2014, but what I will tell you is that The Sacrament made me think. The Sacrament is living, breathing proof that the horror genre is more malleable and accommodating than we may once have believed.
Start counting down the days.
P.S. I absolutely loved the use of The Knife’s “Heartbeats” over the opening travel montage.
Labor Day is a fine movie, but not a great one. And that’s what’s so striking about it. I attended the European premiere last Monday because Jason Reitman is a great director. From Thank You For Smoking to Juno or Up In The Air, he has made enough hits to keep himself warm for at least a nuclear winter. Why, then, did he decide to make a film like Labor Day? Hubris? Now I’m not proposing that filmmakers should make the same film over and over, aping their own shit until they stagnate. But Reitman, much like Wes Anderson, had an airtight formula that was bound to work for at least one more feature. But instead of making another gem like Young Adult, he opted for pure melodrama. And not all of it works.
Basically Kate Winslet falls in love with an escaped con while her stupid, yet endearing, son tries to negotiate the absence of his biological father with the presence of his new-and-improved pie-maker of a dad. A lot of the beats land and the acting is, for the most part, quite good (minus Brolin’s first few scenes; what the fuck?), but something feels half-baked about the whole thing (no pun intended). A lot of what happens in Labor Day just doesn’t make any damn sense and the film can be stupidly abrupt and annoyingly saccharine. That said, it’s a perfectly pleasant watch; Reitman’s worst film, but still a perfectly fine Notebook protegé.