Friday, February 25, 2011
Monster movies these days have focused more on things like exorcisms, franchise making villains, vampires and zombies. It is rare that we get the chance to see gigantic size monsters walking the earth these days. With the exceptions of the KING KONG remake and CLOVERFIELD, there have been few. Until MONSTERS.
Its six years since a space probe returned to Earth, crashing along the Mexican/American border. Since that time nature has altered due to whatever it was brought back by this probe. Giant creatures that resemble a cross between a spider, a jellyfish and an octopus roam this infected zone, moving about on a seasonal schedule.
Samantha Wynden (Whitney Able) is the daughter of a print tycoon stuck inside the infected zone with only two days to get out. Assigned to protect her and make sure she gets home safely is Andrew Kaulder (ScootMcNairy), a cynical photographer who works for her father. Kaulder would much rather stay and get the chance to shoot pictures of the activity going on, but takes on his responsibility with ease.
The biggest part of the film witnesses the pair traveling or attempting to do so to get to the coast so Samantha can make it home. Getting to the ferry is their first problem and once they arrive they find out that passengers are being gouged $5000 for safe passage. They agree, purchasing a place on the ferry for the next morning. That evening they spend their time wandering around the town, witnessing the festivities in one section and the mourning in another where candles are lit next to pictures of victims.
The next morning they discover their seat is gone and there is no more ferries leaving. A lockdown has been initiated and the chances of leaving are slowly closing. For $10,000 more the two of them can go by way of the infected zone, a dangerous trek to be sure. But they have no money. Samantha parts with her engagement ring (we get the idea that perhaps she’s not truly interested in her upcoming marriage) and they head out.
Their travels take them up river first where they get the chance to witness one of the creatures up close for the first time as it drags down a jet fighter that floated to the surface of the river. Once upstream, the pair is passed off to an armed caravan that plans to take them to the wall built between the two countries as an attempt to prevent the monsters from moving into the states. An attack on the caravan leaves them alone and with no guides to get home.
With only miles separating them from their destination, they continue on. But will they make it to the wall and find a way in? And what lies on the other side now that the monsters have continued to grow in number?
The movie moves at a slow pace, but tells a story along the way. Glimpses of these creatures are witnessed throughout on TV screens and in flashes of light from bombs and missiles exploding in the night. But the good look at these creatures is held up until the end of the film.
The film only features two real actors and both do a great job with these characters. You don’t feel as if they are actors but that they are actually the people they are portraying. The rest of the cast are actual people that were there on location that director Gareth Edwards employed, making their performances seem more real than had an actor been used in their place.
With a title like MONSTERS you would think this film would be non-stop terror. It isn’t. There are moments that are terrifying when one puts themselves into the situations offered. But on the whole these monsters are more interesting than scary. This is no run of the mill monsters film, but it is one that will hold your attention from start to finish.
I’ve read recently that Hollywood has more or less abandoned making original films, instead opting for more safe bets like remakes, sequels or films based on marketable ideas such as comic books. Last year the only original film to make a splash was INCEPTION and the suits in Hollywood began by saying it wouldn’t do go, then it wouldn’t last and finally it was just a fluke. That’s sad because there are some great stories out there that can be told. CYRUS is one of those.
John C. Reilly stars as John, a depressed ex-husband who’s still dealing with the loss of his wife 7 years after they parted ways. The ex, Jamie (Catherine Keener), shows up at his house one night to let him know she’s going to be getting married and to invite him to a party where she hopes he can meet someone new.
John finally gives in and goes, attempting to charm the women he meets and failing miserably. Until he meets Molly (Marisa Tomei). Molly sees John as something different than most guys, an honest man willing to express his feelings openly. The two end up sharing John’s bed that night and the next with Molly mysteriously leaving before the end of the night. When John follows her the third night, he discovers why.
It seems that Molly failed to mention that she has a son. Cyrus (Jonah Hill) is a 21 year old young man who still lives with his mother. While Molly is out, Cyrus invites John in and they begin to talk to one another. Molly arrives to find the two men in her life getting along and John stays for dinner and over night.
All seems to be going well. With the exception that the next morning John’s shoes are missing. Added to that are subtle signs that he begins to read coming from Cyrus. As the film progresses we realize that Cyrus appears fine with the idea of his mother becoming involved with John, but inside he wants things as they’ve always been, just the two of them alone.
John’s willing to fight for Molly, the woman of his dreams, but eventually he sees that there is little way for him to compete against Cyrus. What mother would take the word of a man she’s just recently met over the word of her only child? Just how John can get back with Molly, discovering if there is a way to get around Cyrus and attempting to make true love work is the focus of the film.
Reilly is a hit or miss actor. In some roles he is amazing and in others he just seems to be playing the same guy over and over again. Here he does a great job as an average guy who wants love so bad and is afraid of being hurt by losing it again. Tomei is gorgeous as ever, playing the role of concerned parent and woman looking for love equally well. Hill turns in another great comedic performance but this time adds to his character by seeming to be a tad psycho at the same time.
The movie is photographed in a documentary style with quick zooms in and out that can be a big unnerving. But if you can get past that, you have a chance to witness a warm romantic comedy that delivers on all levels.
True stories make for interesting movies. Some tend to go overboard on the melodrama, usually ending up on Lifetime network. Others are depicted as documentaries. And then there is the real life story that is turned into drama, sometimes bad and others good. DEAR MR. GACY lands in between.
The story revolves around Jason Moss (Jesse Moss), a young law student not performing up to his potential in college who is searching for a centerpiece for his thesis. He finds it while watching the news as he becomes fascinated with serial killer John Wayne Gacy (William Forsythe). Gacy is soon to be executed, coming down to his last attempt at a stay of execution and Jason’s chance to speak to him is slipping by fast.
Jason realizes that he has to find an in, a way to get Gacy’s attention, realizing that chances are he receives tons of letters on a daily basis. To do so, he attempts to get into the psyche of Gacy, playing off of the information that Gacy tended to pick up on young boys. He sends Gacy a letter that is in ways flirtatious. To seal the deal he ends up sending Gacy photos of himself shirtless and describing how he’s considering hustling himself on the streets.
Its all done in an attempt to gain Gacy’s trust so that he’ll open up to him, speak to him and perhaps give him the chance to discover why Gacy did the things he did. But as their correspondence continues, Jason finds himself drawn into the dark world of Gacy’s mind, falling prey to the things Gacy encourages him to do, including a trip to the world of street hustlers where he is drugged and almost raped.
Jason is perhaps Gacy’s last victim. His life changes and those around him see it happening though they don’t know why. He spends time bodybuilding, argues with his parents and brother and goes so far as to dump his girlfriend. The letters lead to phone calls that Gacy places to Jason which he accepts. The lies he tells to paint the portrait of himself that he knows Gacy expects build one on top of the other until he finally gets the chance to meet Gacy in prison. It is here that Jason is witness to the true monster that was John Wayne Gacy.
The movie is terribly depressing, but not so much in a bad way. The slow decent into a form of madness that overtakes Jason is well played by Moss as we see the changes develop over time. Forsythe, a totally underappreciated actor who has starred in everything from OUT FOR JUSTICE, THE ROCK and THINGS TO DO IN DENVER WHEN YOU’RE DEAD, does a truly menacing portrayal of Gacy, showing the manipulative side of him that convinces Jason to do the things he does while at the same time show the animalistic frenzy that fills Gacy when he confronts the obsessive fan alone in a prison cell.
Gacy was an unusual killer. Well respected in the community, known for his dressing as a clown for children’s parties and celebrated for his paintings of clowns while in prison, he was not what most people expected when thinking of a serial killer. But the acts he committed, not just to the boys he killed but to Jason Moss as well, were some of the most brutal imagined. This movie is on the low budget scale but it tells the story well and holds your interest. While there are moments you want to look away, there are others that keep you watching from beginning to end. Here’s hoping that the number of potential serial killers like Gacy dwindle rather than grow.
Occasionally a movie comes along that never makes it to most theaters, that doesn’t garner a lot of attention but that does offer a decent night’s rental. These aren’t movies that are Oscar bound or raking in big bucks, but they do offer a nice evening’s entertainment. EX-TERMINATORS is one of those films.
Heather Graham stars as Alex, a young woman who works hard, helps people and supports her jobless boyfriend. When she discovers him cheating on her, she boots him out. Unfortunately she also loses her job about his time. While in a grocery store she picks out a pie to purchase, sets it down to do something and turns to find a man has taken her pie. A smart aleck comment and a tossed punch by Alex finds her before a judge and sent to anger management class.
During the class she makes friends with several other battered women including Stella (Jennifer Coolidge) and Nikki (Amber Heard). Either involved in abusive relationships or having been taken advantage of, you find yourself sympathizing with each of them. When the girls get together to follow one friend’s physically abusive husband, they accidentally kill him…and get away with it. Their friend inherits money, is down one abusive spouse and is happy now. And realizing what probably happened, she pays off her friends for their good deed.
Seeing potential in this sort of business, the friends decide to make big bucks offing the ex’s of the women they meet in their anger management class. They then funnel the funds through the bug killing business of Stella. When an IRS agent with an agenda of his own begins to put the screws to the girls, they have to make a choice. Go straight or deal with this new problem. A difficult decision at best since the number of members for their anger management keeps increasing once word gets out and the money keeps coming in.
This film is basically a fantasy project for women who have been taken advantage of in one way or another. And it rings true in many cases. I did find it hard to believe that there was only one sympathetic male character in the whole movie, a cop investigating the murders who falls in love with Graham, but it didn’t take that much away from the film. It was an amusing tale that for a direct to DVD film didn’t turn out too bad.
Once again we’re not witnessing Oscar material here but we are seeing something that isn’t as bad as some of the choices that have been nominated in the recent past. The movie is well made, well acted and entertaining.
The film parody has become an overused genre these days. When AIRPLANE and Mel Brook’s movies hit back in the seventies the genre was in its infancy and most of those movies were hilarious. But that changed after a while. The jokes became far too predictable and shows like SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE and SCTV gave us better parodies that didn’t drag for an hour and a half.
A parody that did well was SCARY MOVIE. The problem was that the success of that film inspired studio execs to make sequel after sequel with each one worse than the previous effort. And from the writers of those movies came Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer. Trust me, if you see these two names on a movie marquee, choose whatever else is playing. Ads have touted films as “made by two of the names behind SCARY MOVIE”. Well they may have been involved in that film, but apparently the talent found in them was to be found in the rest of the writers. This is the pair responsible for DISASTER MOVIE, EPIC MOVIE, DATE MOVIE and MEET THE SPARTANS. If you liked those more power to you. If not, then avoid there movies unless you rent them for $1 or less.
This brings us to VAMPIRES SUCK. The movie is a parody of the current fad of vampire movies portraying vampires as objects of lust and desire rather than fear, focusing mainly on the TWILIGHT films. Nods to other films run through this movie but they mainly aim their barbs that direction.
Becca Crane (Jenn Proske) is a lonely teen stuck in the small town her father is a sheriff in. Of course the most romantic is Edward Sullen (Matt Lanter). Get it? Sullen? That’s the level of humor found here. In any event, the film follows a combination of various scenes from the TWILIGHT films and attempts to make them funny. The thing is for some of us the actual TWILIGHT films were funnier than what is offered here.
Don’t get me wrong, this film is perhaps one of the best that this pair has made. There are a few good jokes tossed in here and I’m not going to share those with you because should you choose to watch the film a few paragraphs will spoil it for you. It would take just those few words to describe the good moments seen here.
When I first watched the film I didn’t think it was really that bad. But the more I thought about it, the more I compared it to the films that Mel Brooks and the Zucker brothers have made, the worse it felt.
The best part of the film is Jenn Proske. She totally captures the lame acting that Kristin Stewart has displayed in the TWILIGHT movies. I’m not saying she’s bad here, I’m saying that she portrays Becca the exact same way that Stewart does Bella Swan. So much so that you’ll wonder if you watching Stewart from time to time.
The one thing this movie does is make you miss other movies. I miss those great vampire movies of the past. I miss Christopher Lee as Dracula in HORROR OF DRACULA. I miss Frank Langella in DRACULA. I miss great parodies like BLAZING SADDLES, YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN and even a great vampire spoof like LOVE AT FIRST BITE. This movie doesn’t do those justice. It may not be the worst film out there, it may even be worth a $1 rental, but it is not something you’re likely to add to your collection or find yourself cued up for on Netflix.
Thursday, February 24, 2011
Okay so the truth is there is no spitting nor are there any graves in either the original or remade version of I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE. The title was made by producer Jerry Gross for the original film in order to get film bookers in the south to book the film again, which had already failed in cut form under the title DAY OF THE WOMAN. With the additional removed sequences back in place, a take that MPAA attitude, a sensational and unforgettable ad campaign and tons of free publicity when Ebert & Siskel slammed the film (hard to believe Ebert could do so after watching his BEYOND THE VALLEY OF THE DOLLS which he scripted), the film went on to make history.
And now Hollywood, in its never ending search for something new…okay no not new…in their attempt to remake every movie ever made, we get this latest version of the film. It follows the same basic story. Jennifer Hill (this time played by Sarah Butler) comes to a country retreat for a month only to be sought out by gas station attendant Johnny (Jeff Branson) and his pals.
This time around the gang seems more backwater good ole boys than even the original displayed. Is it any wonder country folk have no use for big city folk when they are constantly portrayed this way? Anyway, the group attacks and rapes Jennifer more than once and in more than one location. ***SPOILER ALERT*** When she contacts the local sheriff to come to her cabin in the woods for help she learns too late that he’s part of this group as well. Having been raped and sodomized by this group, Jennifer crawls home and plots her revenge.
The same plotline passes here as she takes her time trapping each one and taking out her vengeance in the most brutal ways possible. While the rape sequences of Jennifer are as disturbing as they were in the original, the revenge sequences here take up more time than they did in 1978. Not only that but her methods fall more in line with today’s images of torture than those in the original. The original was more about her just exacting her revenge with only one taking any amount of time. Here, she slowly does unmentionable deeds to each of her protagonists, with something especially disgusting in store for the sheriff.
With more money to spend this version of the film has a much crisper look to it. The photography is well done, the acting intense and believable and the story continues to promote the genre of film known as revenge movies. Does it leave you with a bad taste in your mouth like the first one did? Yes, it does.
Its one thing to make an original film and not know what the audience will think of it. Its quite another to take a disturbing film and make it over again, adding little more than well done gore and more over the top kill scenes. When released the film didn’t do much at the box office. Perhaps that means that the audience for what is known as torture porn films is dwindling. We can only hope.
Does the film offer anything new? Not that I could see. Yes, the performances were well done, yes it had a polished look to it. But is it a movie that you’ll want to stick on the shelf next to BAMBI and MARY POPPINS? Not likely.
When I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE was initially released it was one of the most talked about films of its time. First you had Ebert & Siskel on their weekly show discuss how terrible and disgusting the movie was. Then, once released in England on video, the film became notorious for being one of the original “video nasties” there (if you haven’t heard of them google them. They make for an interesting mix of films). So was there a reason for controversy? Was the movie truly that disturbing? Having just watched the blu-ray release of the film I can only say yes, a feeling I had when watching it for the first time years ago.
I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE (originally released as DAY OF THE WOMAN) was one of those films that you heard so much about that you had to find it and watch it. Controversial movies have always had that effect on the viewing public. It doesn’t matter if the movie is good or bad, you find yourself drawn to it because of the word of mouth surrounding it. What surprised me this time around was that after over 30 years since its first release (1978-80 depending on where you look), the film still has that punch in the gut effect that it had the first time around.
The story revolves around a young woman, Jennifer Hill (Camille Keaton) who leaves New York City for a month in the country to relax and write her first novel. She stops to get gas at the local station and meets the station owner, Johnny, and his group of friends. It’s a casual meeting with no names exchanged and little happens. Later on she meets Matthew, a dim witted young man who delivers groceries, not knowing that he’s friends with Johnny and his group.
When Johnny and his friends get together, they begin talking about how attractive Jennifer was. After talking long enough, they decided that they want her and will indeed take her. The next day while she’s in her boat on the lake, they grab the rope on hers and speed off with her in tow. Once they land, the group savagely takes turns raping her with the exception of Matthew.
Jennifer leaves them behind, bruised, scraped and bleeding. As she makes her way through the woods, they find her again and brutalize her once more. They leave her behind here and she makes her way home only to find the group waiting for her. Matthew now among them, they convince him to follow their lead and he rapes her as well. Rarely has the violent act of rape been so convincingly played. This is brutal and animalistic. There is no chance that someone would find this erotic, unless they find something nice in rape. And it’s these scenes that are the most brutal and disturbing of all.
Matthew is sent in to kill Jennifer but can’t bring himself to do so. Surviving the ordeal, Jennifer is now a changed woman. No long content to sit back and be taken advantage of, she plots her revenge on each of the group. Matthew is the first, seduced by the lake and then left hanging from a tree.
While it’s weird to say this, Johnny gets the most deserving act of revenge and one that will stick with you long after watching the film. ***SPOILER ALERT*** Jennifer seduces Johnny back to her place and while sharing a bath with him, reaches out, takes a butcher knife and cuts off his…well think of John Bobbit and you’ll know what she does. With little or no special effects save for a well placed sound effect, this scene will make you cringe just like the rape sequence. Jennifer does indeed finish her revenge and the movie ends.
As with films like HOSTEL I tend to find no pleasure in watching what is commonly known these days as torture porn. Anyone easily disturbed will find this movie incredibly hard to watch. Yes, the victim in the movie does have her revenge, but the fact that we’re watching this forcible rape time and time again doesn’t offer entertainment at all but leaves one feeling the need for a shower.
Is it worth watching at least once? Perhaps. If you can stomach the scenes described above then sure, especially if you want to see it as a piece of film history. Amazingly the film, while made on a low budget, does offer some decent photography and is well acted for being made with unknowns. The transfer makes this movie the best looking version that’s ever been released.
As I said, I’m not a fan of the genre. But as I watched I found that while disturbing it offered a better story than I first remembered. For a low budget film it was quite well made, written and directed. But it still leaves you with that unwashed feeling.
I know many people think that movies have to push the envelope now and then, to go further than they did before. That may be true at times. Then again sometimes pushing the envelope doesn’t add anything to our way of life. And to call it art to me just denigrates art. You can probably tell I’m betwixt and between on this movie. Its one that you have to witness and make your own mind up about.
Monday, February 21, 2011
A while back I wrote about a movie that I thought would end buddy cop movies forever. Yes, COP OUT was truly that bad. And this is coming from a fan of both Kevin Smith and Bruce Willis. But the buddy cop movie has been born again with two unlikely leads in Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg. And they’re bringing it to life as the anti-thesis of the buddy cop heroes by being THE OTHER GUYS.
THE OTHER GUYS starts out like every other buddy cop film made in the past with two mega heroes in the forms of P.K. Highsmith (Samuel Jackson) and Christopher Danson (Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson) chasing a car load of criminals. Suffice to say that they costs the city millions, do a ton of damage to vehicles and eventually blow up the front of one of the Trump Towers all in an attempt to arrest this carload for some minor offense. They’re declared heroes and return to the precinct to let everyone know that they’re leaving the paperwork for the rest of them to fill out…for the other guys.
Allen Gamble (Ferrell) is fine with this. He’s there to back up the page grabbing hero’s crumbs and take care of the dirty work they leave behind. But his partner Terry Hoitz (Wahlberg) isn’t as pleased. He wants to take on the bad guys on the street. He was on the rise at one time, heading for the limelight when he accidentally shot…well I won’t say because that ends up being on truly funny joke.
Gamble and Hoitz are left behind to do paperwork and in a way not be much in the line of detectives; even if that’s the area they’re assigned to. That all changed when Highsmith and Danson jump off a building while trying to catch a group of crooks who used a zip line. Again, what happens is hilarious and I don’t want to spoil it but it results in the heroes deaths.
Now the city needs a new team of heroes and Hoitz wants it to be a part of that. But he can’t stand his partner. Gamble has a lead on Sir David Ershon (Steve Coogan), a businessman who has building construction going on but hasn’t filed for permits for scaffolding. Neither of them realizes that in trying to serve the arrest warrant for this minor offense the two of them will find themselves taking on a top level criminal.
Along the way they face opposition from their captain (Michael Keaton), the D.A. and various other law enforcement organizations. They even find their case turned over to the S.E.C. where their lead agent is Ershon’s lawyer. Taken off the case and demoted to lower positions, the only way to get the bad guy is if they do it on their own terms.
So much for the bare basics of the movie. Surrounding this plotline are all sorts of jokes that are some of the funniest I’ve seen in some time. Enough so that on occasion you find yourself using the pause button until you stop laughing or to back up and witness what made you laugh all over again.
One running joke is that every hot woman that the duo comes across wants to jump Ferrell’s bones. The first glimpse of this is when he takes Wahlberg home to meet “the old ball and chain”. His wife is played by Eva Mendes, looking quite attractive and doing everything she can to please him while he tells Wahlberg how plain she is. All Whalberg can do is keep asking, “No really, who is she?” He can’t believe this is Ferrell’s wife. And the same holds true for every attractive woman they meet who tries to get Ferrell’s number.
Wahlberg’s character is the stock shoot first and ask questions later kind of guy. In his mind every criminal ties into some drug deal. Ferrell is the more cerebral one who looks for deeper crimes which seem to stare him in the face and he still doesn’t get. They make the perfect pair, combining to make a winning team. Or at least you would think they would. Instead they more bumble into the crime being committed and are fortunate to simply survive.
There are all sorts of comedy at play here. The verbal jokes are funny, the physical humor is hilarious and the stabs at the standard buddy cop films are spot on. I’ve never been a huge fan of Ferrell feeling that he got too caught up in playing the seemingly same character over and over again. But this is one time that he shines in a role meant for him. And Whalberg with his demands to be let lose to fly like a peacock and constant referencing to things he learned as a child to use to bully the kid down the block is funny in his own way.
I wasn’t sure I would like this movie. I was afraid that it was going to turn out like most movies with a decent trailer where the best scenes were offered there with tons of filler surrounding them. That doesn’t turn out to be true. Sure those scenes are funny, but the entire film has funny scenes from beginning to end. This movie is not just a movie to watch a single time but to add to your collection. Its one that I know I’ll end up watching more than once.
I’m always tickled when I get the chance to watch a movie without any preconceived notions about whether it will be good or not, few expectations planned for me by either great or poor previews or if its something I’ve heard nothing of but watch because it arrives in the mail. Such is the case with a movie I’ve just found one of the funniest I’ve seen in ages, WILD TARGET.
Bill Nighy stars as Victor Maynard, a professional hit man carrying on the family tradition of being the best in the business. No one has ever seen Maynard or witnessed him commit any murder, even his competition. He is a man who doesn’t exist who gets the job done quickly, neatly and efficiently.
At the same time Victor is being hounded by his mother. He’s just turned 55 and has yet to have an heir to carry on the family name and business. Having been taught by his father, who will he leave all his knowledge to?
Victor’s latest target is a young woman named Rose (Emily Blunt) who has staged an art robbery and the sale of a forgery of a famous Rembrandt painting. Having been paid $900,000 by a wealthy art fancier named Ferguson (Rupert Everett) for the original painting, she switched it out with a copy so that the original could go back to the museum it was located in. Ferguson wasn’t too happy about being swindled though so he’s hired Victor to kill Rose in 24 hours.
But things don’t always go as planned. Victor tracks down Rose but with each attempt on her life something stops him. Be it someone stepping out from a shop or finding a man slipping into her bed, something always gets in the way. And just as he’s about to get the job done in a parking garage, one of Ferguson’s henchmen gets in the middle of it and Victor kills him for interfering. When the second henchman gets the drop on Victor, a young drifter named Tony (Rupert Grint) shoots him giving the trio an opportunity to vacate before they’re arrested.
Realizing she’s in danger, Rose offers Victor $30,000 to be her bodyguard. Interested in seeing where this goes, Victor takes the job and begins to do what he does best, avoid being detected. Unfortunately Rose isn’t a willing participant in the endeavor instead doing things that draw more attention to them instead of keeping them under the radar. Not a good thing to do since Ferguson has hired the second best hit man in the business to finish the job.
As the story moves forward, Victor seems to think that Tony has a natural ability for firearms after having seen him shoot someone using a weapon for the first time. Realizing this, he takes Tony under his wing with promises of teaching him the trade. Although he doesn’t tell him he’s a killer, telling him he’s a detective instead.
An attraction between Rose and Victor develops through the series of events that unfold. This wayward young woman who no one has ever stood up for or protected begins to feel deep emotions for the first person who has ever done so, Victor. And in Rose, Victor sees perhaps a chance at life, something he willingly kept away from in his plastic covered home in the country, the location he chooses to protect Rose and Tony in. But eventually we know the bad guys will show up, truth will be revealed and the outcome will be unpredictable.
Sounds pretty straight forward, right? Well the fact is that it isn’t. In reading the synopsis one would think this is a hard core action film with plenty of bloodshed. But it isn’t. Instead it’s a dark comedy that ranks among some of the funniest I’ve ever seen. Everything from a potential witness to murder in the form of a parrot to banged up bad guys done so in the oddest ways possible fill this film with tons of laughter. Then again I have a twisted sense of humor so that helps.
Nighy does a great job here as he does in nearly everything I’ve ever seen him in. Blunt is an attractive young actress who gives more depth than her years would make one believe. And Grint, finally doing something outside of HARRY POTTER offers a good job as a potential assistant to Nighy.
The movie was much funnier than I expected it to be. I actually found myself laughing out loud a number of times. This is a movie that you could enjoy the first time around and perhaps even a second or third time. While you may not decide to buy this one, it is definitely one of the best titles around worth the money to rent. Give it a go.
As a movie fan I’ve tried to get a glimpse of every movie I could. But there have been a number of classic films that I’ve somehow missed over the years. At one time that was due to the fact that VCRs and then DVD players didn’t exist. Once they did, the films weren’t released yet. But as these films make their way to DVD now the excuses are less and less. The biggest is not having access to these films short of spending every dollar I have to purchase them. It seems most rental stores or kiosks don’t feel there is a desire to witness some of the greats. But there is.
Just released is the 60th Anniversary Edition of ALL ABOUT EVE. A movie about actors that somehow never made it on my radar. A movie that garnered all sorts of Oscars including picture, screenplay and director among others. And yet I’m just now getting around to watching it.
The film tells the story of a group of theatrical friends in New York. The center of this circle is Margo Channing (Better Davis), an aging theater actress who is hailed as the greatest that ever performed. Included in the group is director and love interest Bill Simpson (Gary Merrill) who adores Margo but who Margo puts off when it comes to marriage. There is also Lloyd Richard (Hugh Marlowe) who writes all of the major plays that Margo starts in, the rising playwright who is considered at the top of his game. Lastly is Karen (Celeste Holme), Lloyd’s wife and best friend of Margo who wanders in and out of all their lives.
Into this small circle of friends comes someone new, Eve Harrington (Anne Baxter), a star struck young woman who adores Margo. Having witnessed all of her performances she stands outside the stage exit until Karen one day takes her in to meet Margo. Soon Margo “adopts” Eve to be her protégé, helping her with day to day items and becoming part of the crowd. Until Margo begins to see something more in Eve than the rest. She sees the desire in Eve to become the center of the circle, to become the star that Margo is as she begins to age and fade from memory.
As viewers we sit and watch and wonder if Margo is on to something of if she’s merely jealous of Eve’s youth. She is, after all, just turned 40 and soon will be unable to play the 24 year old roles that Lloyd writes about. But is her fear reality or is Eve just that fan obsessed young woman that adores Margo to no end?
As the story unfolds we are given the answer to that question as we see Eve manipulate each of the members of this group of friends and those around them. To make yourself seem innocent is perhaps the greatest performance that Eve gives, even after she makes her way finally to the stage.
ALL ABOUT EVE is a behind the scenes look at the world of actors and those they work with. Director/writer Joseph Mankiewicz has a way with dialogue that few have ever achieved. The words that come from their mouths may be given life by the actors, but those words speak volumes in what they have to say about the fragile egos and lust for power and fame. The words flow like music and reveal perhaps more than what goes on in the world of the stage. Perhaps there are those in small town lives that play their roles just the same.
The acting is tremendous. Better Davis has rarely been better, going over the top when need be as the ego infused actress determined not to release the crown she wears as queen of the stage but then showing the most fragile of human beings, especially in a scene towards the end of the film when she confides her innermost feelings to Karen while stranded in a car. The supporting cast does an equally tremendous job. Perhaps the only thing I found annoying was the breathy whisper like voice used by Baxter when she portrays the innocent side of Eve. Her depth becomes more apparent when the real Eve shows herself.
The movie is considered a classic by most and it was an enjoyable movie to watch. It was indeed well made, acted, directed and written. But I don’t know that it’s a movie I’d watch over and over again. I am glad that I did get the chance to see it finally though. Movie fans should all make the trek to find it and watch.
The newest version of the film has just come out in blu-ray with an interesting book style cover. Not only do you get the film in pristine condition, the extras are great as well. Included are commentary by Actor Celeste Holm, Mankiewicz Biographer Ken Geist and Christopher Mankiewicz, commentary by Author Sam Staggs, Joseph L. Mankiewicz: A Personal Journey, The Real Eve, The Secret of Sarah Siddons, AMC Backstory®: All About Eve, a vintage Bette Davis promotion, a vintage Anne Baxter promotion, Fox Movietone News, restoration comparison and the theatrical trailer. Fans of the film will be delighted. And newcomers will get a chance to see why some of the older films still have something to offer.