Friday, October 14, 2011

The Woman

At its most basic level, The Woman asks a straightforward question: Who’s the real monster, a cannibalistic mountain woman (Pollyanna McIntosh) or Chris Cleek (Sean Bridgers), the sleazy small-town lawyer who captures and imprisons her? Even though the answer is choreographed early on, it’s how director Lucky McKee explores the idea as the picture moves forward that sells the concept.

Cleek first spots the Woman while on a hunting trip. He fixates, obsesses, and then returns home to plot the capture and set up a makeshift prison in an outdoor cellar. He returns, deftly executes his plan, and brings her back to the homestead. So far, so good. Cleek’s aim is to domesticate the savage beast, and he forces his family – made up of his wife, Belle (Angela Bettis), and their three kids – into complicity in the matter. The Cleeks are a family in peril, smothered by every move the patriarch makes. They’re a family operating in the absence of love, headed for a breaking point. Will the Woman be the final straw?

Read the rest of this Blu-ray review by clicking here and visiting Bullz-Eye.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Talking Tarantino...with Robert Forster and Rosanna Arquette

With the simultaneous Blu-ray releases of Pulp Fiction and Jackie Brown, arguably the two jewels in the Quentin Tarantino crown, you can now own all of the filmmaker’s features on the high-def platter. Have the best been saved for last? Quite possibly. And if you’re of a certain age, there’s also a good chance you haven’t seen one or even both of them, which means you are in for some seriously cinematic rides. Perhaps the best news, aside from how gorgeous they look, is that both discs are very reasonably priced, which makes them much easier to obtain than Marsellus Wallace’s briefcase.

This writer had something of a Tarantino-thon recently by viewing both discs back to back, and, unsurprisingly, they did not disappoint. But I was especially taken by Pulp Fiction, as I hadn’t seen it in years, and everything that’s great and revolutionary about it came flooding back. See, I was 23 when Pulp Fiction came out in 1994, and it was a time when film as an art form was feeling awfully stilted. And then this movie charged out of the gate and it was like nothing anybody else was even attempting to do. It was the most seductive piece of filmmaking I’d seen in years. It wasn’t just me, either. Everyone I knew who was into film felt the same way. Despite the fact that we were already bowing at the altar of Reservoir Dogs, nothing prepared us for the Fiction. We devoured it, repeatedly, and discussed its many intricacies and detours like it was some kind of biblical text. I saw it on the big screen at least a half a dozen times, and each viewing was like going to film church. A few months later came the crappy bootleg VHS tape, and it’s anyone’s guess how often I sat through that. By the time the laserdisc was released, I was beginning to suffer burnout. That, mixed with a few other factors, pretty much kept me away from Pulp Fiction for a decade or more (give or take a scene or two on cable from time to time).

Pulp Fiction today feels absolutely as fresh as it did all the way back in the autumn of ’94. The film has the power to come back in a big way, on the best home video format currently available. Forget about digital downloads and streaming, Blu-ray is hands down the best way to experience this movie. (As it turns out, aside from an old DVD, Blu-ray is the only way to legally obtain the movie presently.) We turned to one of the film’s stars, the versatile Rosanna Arquette, who plays piercing fetishist Jody, to see how she was feeling about the Fiction years after the fact. “What I’m excited about is that it’s going to be a whole new audience discovering the film. I have a teenager, and all of her friends are watching it,” she enthused.

Read the rest of this feature/interview by clicking here and visiting Bullz-Eye.

Monday, October 03, 2011

Planes, Trains and Automobiles

When John Hughes died suddenly of a heart attack two years ago at the age of 59, folks my age (I’ll be 40 soon) were understandably unnerved. Even though it had been some time since he’d created anything worthy of mass consumption, probably a dozen different projects bearing his name all but collectively define my generation. Hughes was the voice of angst-ridden ‘80s youth, and I dare say that no filmmaker since has come even close to replicating the feat for any subsequent generations on such a consistent basis.

People still wonder, “Why don’t they make movies like The Breakfast Club anymore?,” and it’s a valid question that leads to a possibly startling truth: Hughes’ vision was as unique as a Kubrick or a Tarantino. A big difference is that he made it look easy, even though making movies as perfect as Hughes frequently did is anything but. His movies are in fact so timeless in their way that a flick like Ferris Bueller’s Day Off remains as relevant today as it was back in ’86.

Now go back to 1994, if you can, and remember when John Candy died suddenly of a heart attack at the age of 43. I was 23 at the time, and 43 didn’t seem all that young to me, but – surprise, surprise – it sure as hell does now. Of course, 43 is ridiculously young, and it’s not as if Candy was a druggie or a boozer or what have you. His biggest social “crime” was being a big guy, and eventually he paid for it, which is very, very sad.

I’ve been on a John Candy kick for a few months now, trying to catch up on some of his later films that I missed. Most of them haven’t been very good, even when he’s good in them. Probably his last great performance was in JFK in ’91, and even though he’s only got a scene or two in that movie, you can tell that there were sides of Candy that we never got to see. Candy is the kind of actor who would’ve eventually had a career renaissance, and we would’ve seen those sides that were only hinted at in his early work. I miss John Candy now more than ever, because I miss all the work he never got to do.

Read the rest of this Blu-ray review by clicking here and visiting Bullz-Eye.