In ANNIHILATION, the sophomore directorial work of Alex Garland (EX_MACHINA, also author of The Beach and screenwriter of 28 DAYS LATER, SUNSHINE, NEVER LET ME GO and DREDD), Natalie Portman (LEON THE PROFESSIONAL) takes a journey into the heart of weirdness. Her character Lena is a cell-loving ex-Army biology professor at Johns Hopkins University (also the alma mater of Gil Scott-Heron, Wes Craven and Wolf Blitzer) whose presumed-K.I.A. husband Kane (Oscar Isaac, SUCKER PUNCH, THE NATIVITY STORY) suddenly shows up alive and odd and unable to explain anything. Sort of like the also mourning Amy Adams character in the also brainy-adapted-from-an-acclaimed-novel-sci-fi-movie ARRIVAL, she’s taken to a site (Area X) where soldiers and scientists face an unexplained, unprecedented phenomenon. In this case it’s not a spaceship but a sort of slowly expanding spectral bubble they call “The Shimmer” that surrounds a chunk of land and no one who has entered it has ever come back out. Until Kane. (read the rest of this shit…)
Posts Tagged ‘Jennifer Jason Leigh’
ANOMALISA is a sad, sometimes funny story about loneliness and petty, ugly human nature. If I told you it had some bizarre, seemingly unfilmable premise then that would all add up to tell you it was a Charlie Kaufman film, but it actually doesn’t have that. It’s just about a guy who travels to Cincinatti to speak at a convention and the night he spends at a hotel. Nothing crazy. It’s mostly very realistic, a frank look at relationships between men and women. It’s animated, though.
It’s all done in a beautiful and unique form of stop motion. Other than being made with small materials it’s almost entirely an attempt at naturalism, no cartoonish stylization at all. One exception is that they left the seams between the mouth and eye sections, which in other movies done with this technique such as PARANORMAN or THE BOXTROLLS were digitally removed. But this is a Charlie Kaufman movie so pretty much everything that seems a little strange – those seams, the androgynous facial structure of most of the characters, one actor providing most of the voices – turns out to be intentional and thematic.
We could compare this to Wes Anderson’s THE FANTASTIC MR. FOX as another unusual stop motion feature that fits naturally into the filmography of its live action auteur. But that one emphasized the hand-made-ness, showing off the imperfections in animating fur, using cotton balls for clouds and puffs of smoke. ANOMALISA miraculously mimics human intimacy in rubber. (read the rest of this shit…)
GREENBERG (Ben Stiller from NEXT OF KIN) is a 40 year old sometimes-carpenter who, after some kind of breakdown and stint in a mental hospital, comes to house sit (crash at) his banker brother’s place in L.A. while the family’s on a business vacation to Vietnam. His plan is to “do nothing,” but he’s a huge fucking baby so he starts getting the family’s nice assistant Florence (Greta Gerwig, HOUSE OF THE DEVIL) to shop for him, have a relationship with the dog for him, etc. Through horrendously awkward maneuvers he gets sloppily into her pants and makes things weird. Then he starts being a dick until she doesn’t want to see him again, but the dog gets sick and he doesn’t have a car so she has to bring him to the vet, etc. Romance does not ensue, just awkwardness. (read the rest of this shit…)
You guys’ll have to forgive me. I’m not a “gamer” or “gamey” or whatever, so I don’t know how much of Dave Cronenberg’s video game exposee eXistenZ is 100% factual and how much is very, very slightly, almost imperceptibly exaggerated for dramatic purposes.
Maybe you can help me out: the “gamepod” controllers are little lumps of flesh, like mutated breasts. They plug a tentacle into a “bioport” on your spine, but if yours is installed wrong (which it turns out can happen if you let Willem Dafoe install yours at the gas station) it can overload your game pod and it will have to be repaired, which is a surgical procedure. The pods are actually genetically modified amphibians. (read the rest of this shit…)
I found EYES OF A STRANGER (1981) with the mystery and suspense movies at the video store. That got me thinking – how exactly do you draw the line between a thriller and a slasher movie? Is it because this guy’s a rapist, not just a killer? Is it because he’s not supernatural, deformed, masked or a redneck? You could say that about MANIAC too, but I think we all agree that’s a horror movie. Both have effects by Tom Savini, too. But MANIAC is way gorier, and the killer gets way more screen time. He’s the central character. Here the killer is often sneaking around just off camera, unseen, keeping us on a thread until he suddenly attacks, like Michael Myers. So if you’re watching a movie where there’s a killer like Michael Myers, but without a mask and not supernatural, that’s suspense. Except SLUMBER PARTY MASSACRE. It’s horror if it has ‘massacre’ in the title I believe is the rule.
Ah, shit. I don’t know how it works. But EYES OF A STRANGER is a good thriller about a slasher. (read the rest of this shit…)
Here’s one from Cannon Films and our friend Albert Pyun, but I’m sorry to say this is the most boring one I’ve seen so far in my back-to-school marathon. The idea behind it, at least, is different from the other ones I’ve seen. This time the school is overrun with troublemakers spraying graffiti and what not, but they’re not the bad guys – that would be The Sentinels, a group of fascist jocks who patrol Vista Verde High School to keep people in line. Their main job at school is just painting over graffiti, but outside of school they actually track people down wearing masks, beat the shit out of them and make them think they’re going to murder them, then leave them crying out in the middle of the woods. Don’t you hate popular kids? (read the rest of this shit…)
After FLESH + BLOOD, audiences were thirsty for more of that Rutger Hauer/Jennifer Jason Leigh team. They wanted to see more romantic chemistry from the Hepburn and Tracy of the ’80s. So they got to see him tie her to a truck and… well, it’s even worse than what he did to her in FLESH + BLOOD. And she didn’t fall for him afterwards.
THE HITCHER starts off as a really good horror movie. Atmospheric shots of C. Thomas Howell driving out on the highway, drinking coffee out of a Thermos, trying to stay awake. Looks like he’s been up all night driving. It starts to rain. Maybe out of desperation to stay awake, maybe out of spontaneity, he picks up a hitchhiker, Rutger Hauer. He jokes about how his mom told him never to pick up hitchhikers. But when he tries to ask Hauer where he’s going the weirdo keeps not answering, changing the subject. Every time he does it it gets more uncomfortable. Then he starts talking about murder and dismemberment, making threats, pulls out a switchblade. (read the rest of this shit…)
Paul Verhoeven’s first American-produced (and English language) movie was this knights and swords movie about a group of amoral mercenaries in Europe circa 1501. It’s not a fantasy because there’s no sorcery or dragons and Mako does not narrate. It does have Susan Tyrrell, but she doesn’t narrate either.
Rutger Hauer plays Martin, the sort of leader of a rowdy group of soldiers who, betrayed by their captain, set out for revenge and riches. While burying a stillborn baby they find a buried statue of Saint Martin, so they take it as a sign from God and carry the statue around with them, travelling in whatever direction his sword ends up pointing. (read the rest of this shit…)
Not sure if anybody else has noticed this, but this guy Christian Bale is a good actor in my opinion. AMERICAN PSYCHO would have to be up there with Eric Bana in CHOPPER as one of my favorite maniac performances of the last 2-7 years. (Now they’re playing Batman and the Incredible Hulk. They shoulda got the guy from DAHMER for Superman.) Mr. Bale was also pretty good in SHAFT 2K and REIGN OF FIRE, where I wouldn’t’ve even known it was the same guy if I didn’t know how to read and recognize names.
Well here in the machinist he gives another great performance but this time with a special nauseating gimmick: the guy lost a bunch of weight for the movie. He looks like a fuckin skeleton with a pair of pantyhose pulled over it. You know how DeNiro and Del Toro ate a bunch of donuts for RAGIN BULL and FEAR AND LOATHING and that was supposed to be so brave? Well Christian says FUCK THAT, eats nothin but grass and grapeskins for like three months or something, turns his muscles into fuckin corn husks. When I heard about it I figured he gets skinnier over the course of the movie, but no, he looks like this from the beginning. That’s the character. (read the rest of this shit…)
I don’t know if you guys have ever heard of this one. It’s a weird crime movie starring Fred Ward as a cop with fake teeth, Alec Baldwin as a crook who steals his teeth, and Jennifer Jason Leigh as Baldwin’s dumb hooker turned naive fiancee.
From the cover you’d assume this is just some boring cop movie, so you’ll just have to take my word for it that it’s something completely unique. Or don’t take my word for it. Let me explain to you a little bit about the plot, and see if that waxes your mustache.
See, Alec Baldwin (back when he was young and skinny, and made the gals swoon) gets off a plane in Miami, steals somebody’s luggage, and heads for the exit. At the bottom of an escalator he is approached by a hare krishna, who asks him what his name is. He says, “Trouble,” breaks the guy’s finger, and leaves. (read the rest of this shit…)