I am having a hard time writing about Southpaw. I have tried writing this opening paragraph fifteen times already. I think the problem is that it is one of those movies designed to appeal to the mainstream audience, deliver a solid time, but not stretch any boundaries. It feels a bit more like a product than an artistic endeavor. I walked out of it without feeling all that attached to it. I was surrounded by people who seemed to love it, and on on hand I wish I saw what they saw, then I thought if I saw what they saw, it would have been a different movie altogether.
Some movies you can prepare for, some you can't. The majority of mainstream type movies that target the wide audience, the summer blockbuster, are easy to get ready for. They may be big, brash, and entertaining, but they are not necessarily going to be challenging. Obviously, this is not always the case, but I think you know what I am saying. On the other hand, there are movies that challenge you, not necessarily intellectually, but your emotions, your sanity, perhaps even good taste. They leave you in a dark mood, perhaps disgusted, horrified, unsettled, even if you have seen it before. The movie I just saw is this latter type.
A few weeks ago I saw a trailer for something called The Vatican Tapes. I had not heard of it before, but it looked like another found footage type movie. I filed the information away in the back if my brain and figured I would check it out if/when it came around. As luck would have it, the movie did come to the local multiplex, so off I went as a good little horror fan. Opening night, I sat in that theater with two other people. That was not a good sign. I mean, I know there was not a lot of advertising, but usually horror fans find out about these things and at least make some sort of showing. Anecdotal evidence, but I suspect the results were similar elsewhere.
I like Judd Apatow. There is something about the films he directs, writes, and/or produces that find a way to hit home. He has a knack for combining the believable with the absurd, the vulgar with the sublime. He crafts relationships (or helps guide their creation) that feel genuine and are entertaining. With his latest directorial effort, he teams with Amy Schumer, the rising star of comedy, whom I know next to nothing about. She wrote the script, he directed the film, and Trainwreck was the result. Frankly, I had no idea what to expect, basically I was just hoping it wouldn't live up to its title.
Tell me, and be honest, are you getting a little sick of superhero movies? I feel like I am on the cusp of falling into the abyss of writing them off. I do not think I will ever actually go over, but there is always that possibility. I feel like they (Marvel, mostly) map out their universe too far in advance and while the movies may entertain, they are starting to hit a level of diminishing returns for me. The map sucks some of the drama and danger many of the characters are in. Sure, we may know the hero isn't going to die, but knowing the actors are under contract for X more movies sort of hurts it. Enter Ant-Man.
Here I am again with another one of those “for the love of 35mm and the horror community” opens that you have all come to love from me. All right, perhaps not, but that does not make it any less accurate. There really is something special about getting to see some of these crazy old movies in a theater from these scratched up prints. There is history there, these are not movies that had thousands of prints struck. It was mentioned during the introduction that this might have had 50 prints that were played regionally and traveled around. I doubt there were any new ones made, so this is very likely one of those original traveling prints. How's that for history?
Found footage. The horror style du jour that has finally been losing some steam in recent years. It is not that it is a bad tool to use, it is just that you need to apply some sort of creativity to it. Just look at the recent movie The Gallows, that was a bad implementation of the found footage idea. Now, look at House with 100 Eyes, it is not exactly a good movie, but it makes good use of the found footage style. That should also tell you if you are interested in this, some people just don't like this style of film making. That's not a bad thing, just a choice.
I am sure you are getting tired of me talking about how great it is to find 35mm screenings of cult, classic, and forgotten films. Please, do not hold it against me, but there is a good possibility you will be hearing it from me again, and likely many more times beyond that. There is just something about discovering these movies or revisiting old favorites that just gets the blood pumping. Now, this screening was just as much fun, but it was not a film screening, oh no, this was something altogether different. This was a projection of a VHS tape. Yes, you read that correctly. VHS.
There are some movie experiences that defy explanation or even description. I remember going to a Bollywood movie (I believe it was Bbuddha Hoga Terra Baap) and realizing a few minutes in that it was not subtitled. I had a moment of panic and then a decision, should I stay or should I go? I decided to stay. No, I did not understand the language, but it was told broadly enough that I could get what was happening. I also recall when Mel Gibson wanted to release the The Passion of the Christ without subtitles, and the outcry that led to. Now we have a movie that is almost designed not to be understood. The movie is The Tribe and it is unlike anything I have seen before.
Here is a movie that does not appear to be going anywhere at the box office. Despite having a decent hook and cast, the advertising has been non-existent, and despite a top ten opening weekend, it seems likely that it will fade into obscurity with relative ease and quickness. Now, is Self/Less deserving of that fate? Not really, at least not that quickly. The movie is moderately entertaining, moves at a good pace and is just a decent time at the theater. It does not really have legs for any long term success, but that doesn't make it any less entertaining.
The next great horror icon is here, his name is Charlie. What makes Charlie so scary? Well, he waits for you to stage a high school play, locks you inside, and proceeds to hang you with his noose. Or something like that. This is what they would like you to believe. You know, I had some hope for this one, I'm not sure why. I saw the trailer and it looked relatively interesting, perhaps even a little scary. Of course, I was wrong. I am not usually quite this straightforward so early in a review, but I suspect this is not going to go all that long. If I was watching this on Netflix, I would have turned it off quite early.
If you know me, you have probably heard me talk about the Hudson Horror Show. There really is no doubt about this. Over the past five years, this biannual show has become one of my most anticipated events of the year. I have become friends with the great guys who run the show, as well as seemingly everybody else who goes to or vends there. I am hard pressed to think of a better event for horror and exploitation fans than these. Movies and trailers projected on the big screen from 35mm film in a theater full of like-minded fools. err, folks? What's not to love?
There was this movie I wanted to see a few years back, but never did. I remember seeing trailers for it in theaters, but it never came. Not around my neck of the woods, anyway. Over time I forgot about it and the desire to see it all but disappeared, since I did not remember anything about it. Well, it turns out the movie was Splinter and my chance and desire to see it returned as I found it streaming on a new horror movie service. So, I clicked on the play button and watched this little horror movie, and guess what? I liked it! No, it is nothing particularly revolutionary, but it is quite entertaining and nicely executed.
The Terminator was a franchise that once held a world of promise, and before that it was a bad ass science fiction/action film that took cues from the horror realm to make an involving and terrifying film that thrilled you at the same time it scared the wits out of you. Seriously, that first film was a legitimate horror movie. The sequel arrived seven years later and delivered a hugely satisfying action film that expanded the universe while remaining true to the toy box opened in the first. Now, thirty-one years after that first film, the Terminator is back and ready to thrill audiences once again. Sadly, it is not to be.