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Posts Tagged ‘A24’

The Lighthouse

Thursday, November 17th, 2022

Friends, I am here to announce that I have officially transitioned from guy who intellectually respected and sort of liked THE WITCH to card carrying Robert Eggers Fan Club member and honorary district captain. The dominos that fell were first viewing of THE NORTHMAN —> second viewing of THE NORTHMAN —> second viewing of THE WITCH —> finally getting it together to watch THE LIGHTHOUSE. Eggers has a unique style and approach and I’m tuning more and more into his frequency. This one is interesting because it’s clearly the work of the same director, except his sophomore movie here has some humor in it. Actual laughs. And I’m not counting the farts.

The time and location for this one is 1890s New England, on a tiny lighthouse island, and mostly inside the lighthouse. Ephraim Winslow (Robert Pattinson, THE ROVER) is a young rookie contractor just starting a four week gig as a lighthouse keeper with veteran “wickie” Thomas Wake (Willem Dafoe, LIGHT SLEEPER, SPEED 2). The style is black and white, square 1.19:1 aspect ratio, appropriate for a movie set in a claustrophobic vertical structure. I’d seen pictures and it looks so old-timey with Pattinson’s giant mustache and Dafoe’s upside down pipe that I pictured it as one of those stylized retro movies mimicking old silent film techniques. But no, it’s all very raw, filmed largely in remote locations with harsh climates, and a lighthouse they constructed. Looks fuckin stunning. (read the rest of this shit…)

Witchy triple feature: The Witch / Season of the Witch / The Lords of Salem

Thursday, November 10th, 2022

This year I celebrated Halloween by taking the day off of work and watching a witch-themed triple feature. This is not something I ever thought I’d do, because I’ve always had that issue with historical witch movies where it kinda bothers me to pretend there’s a such thing as witches, since that’s the superstitious bullshit that real life tyrants used as an excuse to torture and murder many innocent people in this country and elsewhere. But there were a couple witch-related movies I’d been thinking I’d like to rewatch, and at the same time I’d been thinking about my late mother, who loved to dress as a witch every Halloween. She painted her face green and glued on a warty latex nose with spirit gum. Some of the younger kids in the neighborhood were terrified of her, but she got a kick out of it. So I dedicate this witch-a-thon to her.

I chose to view them in order of when they take place: first Rob Eggers’ THE WITCH (1630s), then George A. Romero’s SEASON OF THE WITCH (1970s), and finally Robert Zombie’s THE LORDS OF SALEM (twenty-teens). (read the rest of this shit…)

Men

Monday, October 24th, 2022

MEN is this year’s film from Alex Garland (writer of 28 DAYS LATER, SUNSHINE, 28 WEEKS LATER, NEVER LET ME GO, and DREDD, writer/director of EX_MACHINA and ANNIHILATION). It got mixed/semi-positive-ish reviews but its greatest achievement was a D+ Cinemascore, which sometimes can be a badge of honor.* Much more than the other A24 horror releases this year (X, BODIES BODIES BODIES, and PEARL) this is an A24 horror movie in all the senses of the term, so I advise many of you, you know who you are, to move along to the other movies that they have out there available to watch. I kinda liked it though.

Jessie Buckley (JUDY) plays Harper Marlowe, a recently widowed woman trying to treat herself by renting a huge cottage out in the country. She does a little remote work and keeps in regular touch with supportive friend Riley (Gayle Rankin – Sheila the Wolf Girl from GLOW), but mostly I think she’s trying to get away from it all, relax, take long walks and baths, just try to enjoy being by herself.

Of course it’s hard to do that, even out in the country, even out in the woods. You end up running into people. Awkward conversations are had. People know a little about you and think they should give you their opinion on things. You want to tell them why their advice is bad, but you don’t even owe them that, so it’s not worth getting into it. (read the rest of this shit…)

Bodies Bodies Bodies

Thursday, October 20th, 2022

Though BODIES BODIES BODIES is one of this year’s crop of A24 horror releases, its slick filmatistic style, hedonistic twenty-something characters and aggressive electronical dance music soundtrack remind me more of non-horror A24 movies like SPRING BREAKERS and ZOLA than HEREDITARY or THE WITCH. And for good or bad it’s really not in that slow-burn/moody/atmospheric/symbolic vein – it’s pretty much an Agatha Christie inspired whodunit with some blood and some dark humor.

Sophie (Amandla Stenberg, COLOMBIANA, THE HUNGER GAMES) and Bee (holy shit why did I not recognize Maria Bakalova, Academy Award nominee for BORAT SUBSEQUENT MOVIEFILM?) are a new couple, together for about a month and a half. So it’s a big step that Sophie is bringing Bee to meet her oldest friends. There’s a hurricane coming, and they’re all rich kids, and apparently what rich kids do during a hurricane is hole up at somebody’s parents’ remote mansion and have a party. Honestly it seems like a great idea if you have the resources (events depicted in this movie aside). (read the rest of this shit…)

Pearl

Tuesday, October 4th, 2022

It seems like a fluke that PEARL even exists. It’s director Ti West’s prequel to his previous movie X, which was a hit for A24 earlier this year. It came so fast because he thought of the idea during a pandemic delay for the first movie, wrote it real fast and built it in as a back-to-back shoot.

X was of course a ‘70s set TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE homage about a very old couple taking out some of their issues on the young people who rented their barn to film a porn movie. One of its novelties was realizing somewhere in the middle that Mia Goth (SUSPIRIA remake), who plays the wannabe starlet protagonist Maxine, is also playing the lusty elderly villain Pearl. So in this one she return as a young Pearl in 1918, and as the central character. You don’t see that every day. (read the rest of this shit…)

X

Thursday, March 31st, 2022

X is the new horror picture from writer/director Ti West, his first movie since the 2016 western IN A VALLEY OF VIOLENCE. The fastest way I know to describe it is “what if THE TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE was BOOGIE NIGHTS?” It takes place in 1979 and it’s about a group of people from Houston who decide to make their first porno movie, and rent a small house on a remote farm to film it. In the process, their strong sexual content, graphic nudity, drug use and language is met with strong bloody violence and gore.

That’s from the actual MPAA rating, but it’s misleading. Though X is hardly tame, it doesn’t strike me as particularly extreme either. You gotta say this in hushed tones in these parts, but this is West’s first collaboration with A24, and I would consider him one of the pioneers of the style of 21st century slow burn horror that has become one of that company’s trademarks. I enjoyed his movies THE HOUSE OF THE DEVIL and THE INNKEEPERS, from 2009 and 2011, before A24 existed. This is in a similar vein, but being a slasher movie it’s a little more generous in its pay off, so I enjoyed it too. (read the rest of this shit…)

The Green Knight vs. Sword of the Valiant

Monday, September 27th, 2021

THE GREEN KNIGHT was one of my adventures in mostly-empty Covid-era theater-going, but I’m always working on a million things at once and I didn’t finish the review until after it’s left most theaters and most people’s minds. And yet I continue, undaunted. (It’s on VOD now and comes to disc October 12th.)

It’s the latest from director David Lowery (PETE’S DRAGON, A GHOST STORY, THE OLD MAN & THE GUN), and it’s his weird arty take on a fantasy knight movie, released, as you would imagine, by A24. I enjoyed this at a mostly empty matinee, just as I did with pre-pandemic movies like 300: RISE OF AN EMPIRE, HERCULES and KING ARTHUR: LEGEND OF THE SWORD. But I don’t consider this to be in that same genre I call “fantasy sword guy movies,” and not just because he uses an ax. It’s different because the whole appeal of it is different. It’s more about deconstructing the things we expect from that genre, or at least finding a different angle on them, than reveling in them.

It’s based on an anonymous 14th-century poem called Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. And I tend to like movies based on anonymous poems, judging by the only two I can think of, BEOWULF and BEOWULF. I never heard of this one, but it has been adapted before, including as SWORD OF THE VALIANT, which I went ahead and watched afterward. And I certainly didn’t get this from the movie, but Sir Gawain (Dev Patel, CHAPPIE) is one of the members of King Arthur (Sean Harris, PROMETHEUS)’s Round Table. (read the rest of this shit…)

Good Time

Tuesday, November 12th, 2019

GOOD TIME is a hell of a movie from Josh and Benny Safdie, thirtysomething New York indie directors I never heard of until the flashy A24 trailer acted like they were a household name. Sure enough it’s their fifth feature film (including one documentary) but this one got a little more attention for starring Robert Pattinson, the guy from the Cronenberg movies. He plays Connie Nikas, a New York City dirtbag who storms into a doctor’s office to get his developmentally disabled brother Nick (Benny Safdie) and bring him to help rob a bank. They get away at first but most of the money is ruined by a dye pack and Nick gets arrested. The movie is about Connie running around town all night trying to find $10,000 more dollars to pay Nick’s bail.

It’s a stylish epic of dirt-baggery – Meth Age Michael Mann. An intimate look at a shitty dude doing idiotic things with fevered lighting, gritty real locations, some raw non-professional actors and one of the most legit retro-synth scores I’ve heard, a Tangerine Dream-esque thing by an electronic artist Oneohtrix Point Never, which is a name that I totally understand and can say easily, on account of how young and with it I am. And just so you know I didn’t have to ask anybody what vaporwave was and if I had I totally would’ve understood what Wikipedia meant about it being “built upon the experimental and ironic tendencies of genres such as chillwave and hypnagogic pop.” (read the rest of this shit…)