If it's crap ... We'll tell you
This one goes out to all the older folks I know who never go to the theater because all you super-considerate young folks can't stop talking/texting/shooting each other/actually answering their phone in the middle of a film. By the way, I hope you die screaming. No, seriously, I hope you're digested by the real-world equivalent of the sarlacc pit. Now, onto the review of one of the few remakes hardly anyone was kvetching about. Why? The Coen Brothers remake one of the great westerns with Jeff Bridges? Shiiiiiiiiit, negro, that's all you had to say! And sure enough, as has been widely asserted by critics and audiences everywhere, the brothers' 2010 cowboy film does nothing to spit in the face of the original John Wayne version, and forges its own different but equally remarkable ground. The story here is introduced to us by a voice-over narration from an older version of Mattie Ross, a spitfire of a young girl (Hailee Steinfeld) who is after the hired hand (Josh Brolin) who murdered her father. To that end, she's come to town to collect her father's body, and hire a bad-ass to hunt down his killer. What she ends up with is the nastiest piece of work in the state, a aging cowboy named Rooster Cogburn (Jeff Bridges) who, initially, wants nothing to do with the vengeance-driven young miss. A Texas Ranger named LeBoeuf (Matt Damon) offers to help, but Mattie doesn't trust him, and refuses. Eventually, despite their best efforts to rebuff her, Cogburn, LaBoeuf, and Mattie all end up on the trail after the killer and the even more dangerous men who ride with them, although first they're going to have to keep from strangling each other. This very tonally different adaptation of "True Grit" is largely a don't miss film for A: the WOW performances of Bridges and Steinfeld, both of whom are unforgettable, and B: as usual, the spectacular cinematography of Coen regular cohort Roger Deakins, who has become so good at what he does, he kind of scares me. The new blu-ray release is top-notch in both video and audio quality, looking about as good as anything in the format can. An assortment of 'behind the scenes' features as well as a 30 minute doc about original novel writer Charles Portis fill out things nicely to make this a pretty essential purchase for both western and Coen Brothers fans equally.
--CLICK HERE TO BUY True Grit (Blu-ray/DVD Combo + Digital Copy)
The exorcism horror flick has begun a slow come-back, although with mixed-to-negative results lately. The best of the bunch was probably last year's "The Last Exorcism", but even that screwed up the ending pretty badly. Enter the Spanish, who've actually been putting out some of the best horror films for the last couple years, in this case, the sophomore effort by director Manuel Carballo. In his film, Sophie Vavasseur plays Emma Hawkins, a typical teen, tussling with her parents and little brother, rebelliously testing them at every turn, in that awesome part of the life experience that is exactly why I never had kids. But something is weirding her out in a big way, and her skeptical, apatheist parents of course won't listen to her, or her Uncle Christopher (Stephen Billington), a priest who was recently almost defrocked for being involved in a botched exorcism that led to the death of the girl involved. But, you know, when your teenage girl starts levitating off the floor right in front of you, it's probably time to abandon more traditional methods. Hell, I was a terrible teen, to be sure, but even I didn't actually invite Satan into my body. That I remember. Hmm, actually that would explain a lot...but never mind. Her parents give in and invite the priest in to spout latin and spray holy water, but not everything is as it seems...if in a different way than you'd usually expect in these things. Sadly, the twist in question doesn't really sell, largely because of Billington, who merely makes the whole thing come off as pretty silly. It's a shame too, because the entire set-up hinges on him being convincing in these end scenes, and while Vavasseur is giving it her all, snarling one moment, innocently sobbing the next, Billington looks like he's gonna start laughing. Taken as a whole, it's not as bad as some (I'm looking at you, "The Rite"), but it's not going to be held up as a shining example of Satan's work either. It's hard to be more diabolical than people on their own are capable of being. Satan seems kind of quaint these days.
--CLICK HERE TO BUY Exorcismus
THE WILD HUNT (DVD)
Absolutely nothing about this said to me, 'Dramedy with horror elements about giant LARPing groups in the most elaborate play-space probably anywhere in the world', but there ya go. It seems like there's been a recent wealth of LARP films, especially coming out of other countries than America lately. Probably because they're afraid, rightly I'd say, that American might beat them up and take their lunch money. This 2009 film follows Erik Magnusson (Ricky Mabe) and his girlfriend Evelyn (Kaniehtiio Horn) whose relationship seems to be on the skids. She takes off with some friends and Erik's brother Bjorn (Mark A Krupa) to a real-life nirvana for geeks who like putting on period piece outfits and hitting each other with foam-wrapped wooden weapons: it's got fortresses, an entire town, a giant ship that sways from side to side...it's so elaborate it even made part of ME want to yell CROM! Erik has had it though, and he follows Evelyn out to the encampment, determined to pull her out of the den of geek sin and bring her back to reality. What he doesn't know is that Evelyn is kind of starting to date a kooky Shaman barbarian guy (Trevor Hayes) whose sense of what's actually real is becoming a bit frayed around the edges. Dangerously so. Erik, humiliated by being forced to wear period gear while inside the compound and to preserve 'decorum' (stay in character) is trying his best to wade through these enthusiastic gamers and make things work with his lady, but this is no romantic comedy. As much as I'm having fun poking at the LARPers in my review, it's actually Erik and his arrogance, disrupting a closed environment, that leads to chaos, and eventually, murder. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this title, and a lot of that had to do with marveling at the incredible set-up these guys have, which went a long way to offsetting the 500,000 dollar microbudget. Not all the performances are great, but the ones that matter carry things just fine, and the story gets away with pulling several convincing surprises.
You're meant to start off identifying with Erik and laughing at these guys, but by the end, it's likely you'll feel a bit more subdued about such pointing-and-laughing.This shit is for real with these guys. I hate to say it, but "Wild Hunt" and "Mazes and Monsters" be damned, it just made me want to go up there and sign up to play myself. I just need to make a savings throw versus what I suspect is some pretty vicious body odor and I should be fine.
--CLICK HERE TO BUY The Wild Hunt