Tuesday, November 14, 2017

The Current Cinema 17.9


The absolutely stunning recreation of New York City circa 1927 and 1977 alone would be enough to praise Todd Haynes' magical ode to childhood. But his latest film goes even deeper than that, opening a playful pandora's box of cosmic attachment between a young girl (Millicent Simmonds) and young boy (Oakes Fegely) both exploring the same dusty corners of the city (and its museums) fifty years apart. How they're connected (one story told in silent black and white and the other funky fluorescent) slowly weaves into focus with forceful magic realism, culminating in a finale that's both cathartic and tonally perfect with Brian Selznick's original source material. At its core, "Wonderstruck" is a kid's movie, but Haynes makes it feel vital and nostalgic at the same time, fit for both the ten year old and eighty year old. After all, its a film that says the past is on constant repeat like a record player skipping over and over. It's bold, moving and well, wonderful.

The Killing of a Sacred Deer

For the first half of Greek provocateur Yorgis Lanthimos' "The Killing of a Sacred Deer", he ably casts an air of stilted, mannered weirdness that has one teetering on the edge of the disbelief. As the second half of the film's machinations come into focus, all of that tenseness slips away and it becomes another ugly, dark hearted entry in his universe of spiteful characters and emotional sacrifice. I just don't seem to be on this guy's wavelength.

The Florida Project

I'm not sure why, but I didn't equate the "project" in this title to mean a literal low-rent housing unit until about halfway through this film. Director Sean Baker is slowly becoming the the poet/puveyor of the disenfranchised and forgotten. While this film doesn't quite energize like "Starlet" or "Tangerine", it hits at something deeply rotten at the core of America in the trio of young Brooklyn Prince (the naive), trashy single mother Bria Vinaite (the lost) and hotel manager Willem DaFoe (the just getting by decent heart). None of these characters really expand into something greater than their characters, but the film's meandering authenticity and tiny moments of shattering heartbreak are more than enough to make amends.

Thursday, November 02, 2017

Midnight Madness 2017, Part 3

The Old Dark House (1932)

Perhaps the inspiration for Tobe Hooper's extremely dysfunctional family in "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre", James Whale's 1932 classic is much more an uneasy chamber horror than an outright horror film. When a group of travelers become stranded at an old mansion, they must deal with ominous shadows, weird behavior, and a possibly deranged man locked up in the attic. It's all deliriously framed and performed, teetering on the edge of new found talkie staginess and a genuine penchant for unease. I'm just disappointed it took me this long to finally see it.

The Devil's Candy (2017)

Sean Byrnes' "The Devil's Candy" is so repetitive and exploitative, it becomes a complete bore. The scariest thing about it? Another slovenly, crazy dough-eyed performance by Pruitt Taylor Vince as a possessive child killer being haunted by the demons in his head. Yea, it's that boring.

The Neon Maniacs (1986)

And to end October viewing on a high note, we have Joseph Mangine's mid 80's latex horror "Neon Maniacs". Certainly belonging to the class of "so bad its good", the film is a slapdash comedy of errors whose latex covered monsters are the stuff of Garbage Pail Kids legend. Just enjoyable and fun.