Saturday, October 9, 2010

Let The Right One In REDUX

2008's Let The Right One In
2010's Let Me In
Let Me In (R) ★★½

It's no surprise that Hollywood decided to remake 2008's Let The Right One In, a Swedish import that has garnered more than its fair share of fans during the past 2 years. The original, with its bracingly original story and flashy Gothic decors, had something that could please even subtitle deractors. The remake -directed by Cloverfield's Matt Reeves- is surprisingly stale and has a few stunning surprises up its sleeves, it's a real shame that I was expecting almost everything coming in the way of plot (I mean it IS a remake after all). The problem is that Reeves doesn't try anything new or ingenious and instead decides to follow the same atmospheric hypnotics that made the 2008 movie so popular.

There's something very wrong in remaking a film that was already good in the first place. Don't get me wrong stuff like what Scorsese did with The Departed is great, there Scorsese took the source and twisted it upsid down to make well, a Martin Scorsese movie. I'm also lost for wods as to why critics have fallen for the remake so damn much, then again maybe they didn't have the chance to see the original and some film critics -more notably Lou Lumenick- have come out and stated their overall enjoyment with the fact that they didn't see the original source material.

The story, which is about a 13 year old vampire girl that starts a unique friendship with a bullied neighbourhood boy, is a real genre twister that re-invigorated the vampire genre, coincidentally the same year the first Twilight movie came out. You won't see any Bella or Edward sappiness in the original or -even- remake. There's no love triangle or high school dramatics. The stakes at here are real and the feelings psychological. I just think it is somewhat of a useless thing to remake such a film in an almost similarly told way. Reeves could have put his own spin and made something a bit more beneficial for both the fans of the original and newcomer, alas that does not happen at the least bit. If you've seen the original one, skip this one but if you haven't check it out or rent Let The Right One In.

The Link/Burning Water

The writing has been non stop for me, here's my thoughts on Burning Water, which comes out in limited release all across Canada but will likely not get one for the States. A shame considering there is a relevant subject matter here that touches more than just Canadian provinces. It's a slight, not very stylish documentary but its importance is immense and will likely change government stances on such issues. Review can be read if you click HERE.


Incendies (NR) ★★★½

With his fourth film, Denis Villeneuve has hit a new career high. Incendies -based on Wajdi Mouawad's stage play- is the firecracker I've been waiting for this fall. Political, angry and thoroughly engrossing, Villeneuve's film is one of the year's best. It's then no surprise that it is Canada's official selection for the Best Foreign Film Oscar in 2011. Don't be surprised if Incendies -brimming at a gripping 130 minutes- is one of the selected five nominees. Sony Pictures Classic has picked up the film for an early 2011 release & has put its hopes on a film that has garnered nothing but buzz since its current bows at the Telluride and Toronto film fest- where it won Best Canadian Film.

The film's central story takes place both in present day Montreal & in a Middle East filled with corruption and violence. Brother and Sister lose mother and then consequently find out that they have a father they thought was dead and a brother they never thought existed. Through flashbacks the story of their mother's ordeal is told and through current day events, the sister finds out things she never knew about her mother, a past filled with pain and sorrow. The torching and shooting of a Muslim filled bus by christian radicals is the centerpiece of this tough movie. It's a sequence breathlessly shot and horrifying to watch in its authenticity. Villeneuve means to shake us and he does.

Villeneuve proved with last year's Polytechnique that he hadn't lost the touch that gave him his reputation with Maelstrom more than 10 years ago. Here, his style is more low key as he pulls a kind of Aronofksy with this picture. This is his Wrestler. A film that has a more low key style that isn't substantiated for plot and is inspired by classical Hollywood cinema. The film had me hanging by every tread as it drew closer and closer to its conclusion. Villeneuve tries to manipulate time by going back and forth from past to present day to show us the similarities between mother and daughter in their quest to find a sibling.

The performances are extraordinary, starting with the mother played by Lubna Azabal- she brings a quiet intensity to her ordeal as a christian good girl gone rebel bad- in a shocking scene, she sets out to shoot a top political figure by working with him and teaching his son how to speak and write french. When the time to kill finally arrives, you feel every inch of nervousness she has at that moment. Notable kudos must also be given to Melissa Desormaux Poulin, who plays the daughter that tries to retrace her mother's every step and consequently finds out deep, impenetrable secrets her mother once had. This is a movie all about images and moments and Villeneuve invigorates his movie with everlasting images that will stay in your head.

The way Villeneuve tells his story is original and visionary, something missing in current day cinema. His middle eastern nightmare vision is a film that creeps up on you from its first frame to its last. I was also completely taken back by its final twisty revelation that only puts the icing on the cake. The film will more than likely find a comfort zone from both critics and audiences when it finally gets released in the States. Villeneuve hasn't really gotten the reputation he deserves south of the border and I think this film might just finally do it for him- it's a hell of a triumph an I couldn't be more proud it comes from Montreal.

Friday, October 8, 2010

The other Facebook movie

Catfish (R) ★★★

If a film like Catfish was able to give me the creeps then I guess anybody can make a movie with their hand held camera and hope for the best- didn't The Blair Witch Project prove that? Then again, the filmmakers of this finely tuned documentary hit a kind of gold mine with their story of a buddy -Lev Schulman- adding a "friend" on Facebook and forming an unlikely online bond with the entire family, including a hot stepdaughter that he ends up having online hookups with.

This being the Internet, I suppose there is always a downside to a story such as this one and boy is it ever a downside as our boy Lev finds out as the story goes along.The first 2/3 of the movie have a Hitchockian vibe that literally had me hanging on every word, then of course...well I won't spoil it for you but suffice to say that they try to put a moral to their story at its conclusion, that the film ends up falling apart and dragging its ass down to the final credits. Too bad cause I kinda dug the buildup that director Ariel Schulman -Lev's brother- brought to the surroundings.

You can call this the other Facebook movie -along with The Social Network- and because we live in a Facebook dominated society, the relevance brought in is justifiably suited for our needs and wants of the moment. Will it be this gripping 10 years from now? I really don't know but for the time being, at its best Catfish gives the viewer a real treat in trying to figure out its mysterious ways.

However, don't think of it as high art or resonant stuff- on the contrary, it's a movie that doesn't have much of a face and rather focuses on its highly interesting concept. Unlike quite a few people out there in the blogosphere, I do believe this was pure fact and the filmmakers didn't make up any bit of it but if only they did- its conclusion would have been slightly more interesting to watch unravel.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Guess The Movie?

This should be quite easy to figure out but I nevertheless wanted to relay this image out of a classic film from the 70s. Recently released for auction with a starting bid of close to 700 dollars. It's a hell of an image but I personally wouldn't dig out the dough and just resort to watching the film instead.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Lisbeth Salander kicks the Hornet's Nest and puts herself in a heep of trouble

Girl Who Kicked The Hornet's Nest (R) ★★½

Coming out later this month is the final chapter of this trilogy that has basically swept up the entire world with its intriguing novels by Stieg Larsson and interesting films. If the first film, Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, was an investigative drama and the second film, Girl Who Played With Fire, was a thriller, Girl Who Kicked The Hornet's Nest is pure and simply a courtroom drama filled with spectacle and numerous speeches that basically tie up the knots left vacant by the first two films. Is is a good film? no doubt about it, We care so much about the characters because of the first two films that we cannot help but keep our attention throughout all the hokey courtroom drama that at times appears on screen.

The best of the series is without a doubt The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, which -despite being 15 minutes too long- had the atmosphere and direction of a first rate picture and brought some much needed cinematic fervor to the surroundings. Hornet's Nest is a conventional way of ending the series, with its multiple speeches, climactic ambivalence and knot tying. I didn't however appreciate how the book's ending was somewhat changed in the film's final conclusion and resorted to a kind of weird inessential goodbye. In the novel, there is a final scene that is kind of expected -very anticlimactic- but also very satisfying and very appropriate for a series of novels about two main characters.

Which is not to say that there isn't an inch of excitement in director Daniel Alfredson's movie. From a hospital shooting to a final battle with a muscled giant, Lisbeth Salander's exciting persona rings true in every scene. Kudos must go to Noomi Rapace, who deserves a nomination for her portrayal of the femme fatale. I found her captivating throughout the series and -although I'm very much looking forward to it- almost irreplaceable in the American remake of the first film, coming out in 2011 and directed by maverick American filmmaker David Fincher. She's the heart and soul of the series and is the key reason to even watch the last two films directed by Alfredson. If you want something more effective check out the first film of the series, directed by Niels Arden Oplev.

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