August: Osage County, John Wells’ sophomore film adaptation of the play by the same name, concerns a dysfunctional family reunited during a sweltering summer crisis, and has been compared to stories like Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, and A Streetcar Named Desire. Clearly, it aspires to these great character dramas, but more often than not falls terribly short. Which is a damn shame. Continue reading
Prometheus asks loftier questions than it’s willing to answer, but it may just may be the best scifi-horror film since Alien.
At about the two-thirds mark in Prometheus, Ridley Scott’s unrelenting scifi-horror prequel to Alien, we are so inundated by disturbing visuals, so exhausted by the unraveling tension, so disoriented by quick-cuts to each character’s confrontation with the film’s endless terrors, that by the end we feel like we’re the ones who survived a trip to hell and back again. It’s dense and terrifying, and easily the best Alien film since, well, Alien.
Summer Interlude is Bergman’s first great film, and a great entry point into the auteur’s extensive body of work.
When discussing Ingmar Bergman, the enigmatic filmmaker who crafted more than 40 films over his lifetime, two questions inevitably emerge: first, what were his great films? Fellini had La Dolce Vita and 8 1/2, Welles had Citizen Kane, Kurosawa had Seven Samurai and Yojimbo, Ford had The Searchers…so on, so forth, ad infinitum. And yet, heralded as one of the greatest filmmakers of all time, what was Bergman’s magnum opus? His most popular films – Smiles of a Summer Night, Seventh Seal, and Wild Strawberries – could all make claim for that title, but none seem particularly representative of his oeuvre, which consisted mostly of intensely personal character studies.
The second question, just as debated, is what the most “accessible Bergman” could be; the elusive and difficult nature of many of his films can be intimidating for the uninitiated, and finding a film that both represents what people love about Bergman and also palatable to a more general audience is useful in bringing newcomers into the fold. To that question, I’m going to go out on a limb, buck traditional suggestions, and give my vote to Summer Interlude. It’s a perfect blend of dark character drama and lighthearted love story, which gives the film a balance that keeps it from feeling overwhelming or heavy-handed; it’s also a fascinating story, masterfully executed, and beautifully filmed.
Charlize Theron is given far too little to do as the ice-cold Queen Ravenna in Snow White & the Huntsman.
Snow White & the Huntsman is an amalgamation of scrap pieces from other stories, borrowed bits that plod forward unconvincingly into what becomes a shapeless mass of fantasy cliches. It has moments of entertaining whimsy and startling brutality, but its emotional core is emptier than a poison apple. Continue reading
On the Road to Prometheus is a series of retrospectives on the Alien franchise, in anticipation for Prometheus, which arrives in theaters on June 8th.
With the debacle that was Alien 3 having changed the Alien canon so drastically, was there a salvageable story to be found? Could a fourth film be made at all, or was the series destined to forever be left in the rubbish bin?