Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Quick clips for Wednesday November 19

Finally, something from Sweden that sucks more than ABBA

That headline should really end with "but in a good way" because I was making a vampire joke. Get it? "Sucks?" You try being funny in 87 consecutive blog postings (by the way, help me think of something nifty to do for number 100, which should be on December 5). After months of relentlessly hounding Film Streams Ruth Sokoloff Theater, my crusade to bring Let the Right One In, the borg-borg-best Swedish vampire movie e-v-e-r, finally ended. Okay, so the crusade consisted of one blog post and a polite email to their office, but still, I'm making differences people. Having watched'll get a full review next week (see how I do that, that's called "building anticipation" or "cross promotion" or "stalling"). But, there is something I have to address immediately: Although I (as expected) loved the hemoglobin out of this thing and although I can see where some others would hate it (cough, my wife, cough), I'm going to suggest something really crazy. I don't think Entertainment Weekly reviewer extraordinaire Owen Glieberman watched it. Here is the entirety of the mini-review they ran (online anyway, like 98% of America, I don't get the print copy any more, so I don't know).

According to the new school of cinematic dread — it kicked in over the last decade with J-horror films — a fright flick is eerier if it doesn't make sense. If random arty blood thrills are your cup of fear, perhaps you'll enjoy Let the Right One In, a Swedish head-scratcher that has a few creepy images but very little holding them together. A serial killer, who bleeds his victims in public places (Why? Who knows?), has a 12-year-old daughter who's a vampire. Who befriends the blond boy next door. Who skulks through the movie in a blank-faced torpor that will have you screaming...for something coherent to happen. C

Okay, point one: If there's a criticism of the film in what I've seen, it's that it is too simple, meaning the entire lead (which doesn't mention anything that happens within the film by the way and takes up almost a fifth of the 'review') actually contradicts what pretty much everyone else observed. Really, there's nothing random going on here. I'm pretty sure my wife, who watched about 4 minutes of it while passing through the living room, understood everything that was happening, so the only thing that "doesn't make sense" is Owen's confusion. Point two: I know he's trying for a clever twist of phrase (don't pull a finger muscle Owie baby), but "cup of fear" doesn't make sense for someone who saw the movie either. There are, by my count, three "chilling" scenes in the movie. Describing it in the way he has here makes it sound like he's going off of the category of "horror film" to which the movie is pigeon-holed simply because it has a vampire in it (yes, I know that sounds ridiculous to you reading this...because you haven't seen it, but if you had, you would know of which I speak...something Owen doesn't seem to). Point three: Once more calling it a "head scratcher" (which makes me think Owen tried to watch the Swedish film without subtitles, as that's the only explanation for his repeated confusion), Owen then GETS THE FACTS OF THE FILM WRONG. Um, hello, the "serial killer" (which is actually a poor, poor description of what is happening) is not the girl's father. Past that, they explain the "bleeding in public places" thing pretty clearly (basically, he wanted to get caught, a nuance so subtle he SAYS EXACTLY THAT). Point four: Owen's wrap up of a review without one positive thing to say (that is only a C review, so I can't fathom what an F review looks like) by, you guessed it, once more reiterating the incredibly understated horror aspect ("will have you screaming") and the confusion that doesn't exist ("...for something coherent to happen"). Now, I don't normally spend one huge, epic post tearing into a review I disagree with. To each his, her, or its own, we all come at things from different places. I'm just saying it for what I think it is: I don't think he watched this movie or, if he did, he was distracted or not paying attention. Yes, it is a film which is subtle and artistic, but at no point did he touch on what are the unquestionable ACTUAL themes of the film (a troubled kid being picked on having to deal with isolation both physically and socially) that DOMINATED the run time. This could have been written by looking at the post on it and making a few inferences (and then giving a mid-grade C so that you could defend it later if you had to). I won't call him a hack and I'm going to stop short of calling him a liar, but personally I think something's rotten here.

The shortlist for the full-lengths

Although I had no desire whatsoever to see Religulous (I know, you'd think my leftism would mandate an affinity for Bill Maher, but it doesn't, I kind of wanna punch him in the snot box), the Academy once again proved it doesn't give a shit what you people think when it comes to the documentary Oscars. What's that? Highest grossing documentary of the year? Ah, no thanks, let's see what concentration camp/holocaust documentaries are playing this year (to take nothing away from those films, I'm sure some are good, but I think it's like 10 of the last 11 years that we've had a Nazi flick in the final 5, I think the subject has been covered). The final 15 on the shortlist are as follows:
  • Standard Operating Procedure
  • Fuel
  • At the Death House Door
  • Trouble the Water
  • Blessed is the Match: The Life and Death of Hannah Senesh
  • Glass: A Portrait of Philip in Twelve Parts
  • In a Dream
  • Man on Wire
  • Encounters at the End of the World
  • The Betrayal - Nerakhoon
  • Pray the Devil Back to Hell
  • They Killed Sister Dorothy
  • Made in America
  • The Garden
We've seen 5 of these (which is actually not too bad, considering) and I actually think they may be the final 5. Ben is a big fan of Man on Wire, so we'll be pulling for that...with all the sway that comes with our endorsement.

One last rant and then I'm out for the day, I swear

Once more I point you to Devin from who takes on the latest foreign-to-American remakes that are coming our way. We already mentioned Oldboy, which is going to go from disturbing drama to simplistic Hollywood ending (I bet he gets the girl in the end and everything), and Let the Right One In is also going to be remade. One quick aside on that one, while I don't take the same approach as Devin (whose official position is f##k people who don't read subtitles, they don't deserve good movies anyway), I do agree that this is one that will be horribly biffed up in the translation. Subtle will become obvious, metaphor will become screaming subtext, and it will likely suck very, very badly (you just know they're going to ramp-up the horror aspects to Owen Glieberman-imagined proportions). Now comes word that one of my favorite horror imports of all time (The Host) is going to be remade by Gore Verbinski. Because the whole time I was watching that triumphant and unique flick, I was secretly hoping the guy who did that Mouse Hunt movie would direct a remake that took the vitality out of it. Just like Oldboy's remake, there is NO WAY they keep the original ending to that film. I'm pretty sure they won't legally allow it. I think I'm a pretty good example of the middle guy: I don't get all snooty and assert that foreign films are vastly superior (most of them aren't) but I also will actively seek out any film from overseas that I hear is good. So I'm just going to say this once and be on with my day: WHY NOT HIRE THE WRITERS TO MAKE NEW KICK-ASS MOVIES? Seriously, Hollywood, if you liked The Host, hire the people who did it to make you something new and cool, not just recycling something they already did. Just a thought.
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