David Cronenberg’s movies will rub you one way or another, there’s no doubt about that. I think his latest opus, Maps to the Stars, will be in that category, too.
The question is, will it be as strong as his previous efforts, from Scanners to Eastern Promises? I’m not so sure. In general, this director has been one of the strongest (and in my opinion, one of the most underrated) in the industry, with a talent for generating oodles of interesting plots amid creatively yucky violence, biological horror and strong performances. It’s hard to say whether he has been a favorite of mine, but his body of work is unique, and his talent is always apparent. Plus, he’s quite consistent, even when working with subpar material; you can generally find some kind of inspiration there, no matter what.
So why am I so skeptical about Maps to the Stars?
I guess the main reason is because it has one of my least-favorite actors in it: John Cusack. That, to me, is not a lure; I generally don’t care for Cusack’s performances and find most of the vehicles I’ve seen him in to be maudlin. Though his presence in the movie isn’t a deal-breaker, it doesn’t bode well for the picture. It’s not the type of casting that’ll make me want to see it.
Still, Cronenberg’s direction brings with it the possibility of surmounting any obstacles, and it’s possible that Maps to the Stars could offer quite a bit. If it’s anything like the filmmaker’s vintage movies, that would be a triumph.
Hopefully, that’ll be the case.
Halloween’s a-comin’ … and you know what that means.
Quality horror movies should be watched. Including Robin Hardy’s 1973 creepy-fest The Wicker Man.
There’s something really satisfying about this eerie film, about a policeman’s encounters with paganism on a remote Scottish isle. It’s not pure horror – there’s very little blood or gore – yet there’s plenty of atmosphere, as well as a disturbing subtext that may lead viewers to ask questions about belief and the acceptance of others’ religions. The picture features terrific performances, including that of Edward Woodward as the cop aghast at the islanders’ practices and rituals, and offers a fine, wistful musical score by Paul Giovanni. Plus, there’s a great script by Anthony Shaffer that transcends the usually ghoulish genre with insightful dialogue and vivid characterizations.
This is a cult film that spawned the awful remake of the same name with Nicholas Cage, but it’s the original that should be seen. I like to watch it every now and then when it’s on, and Halloween seems like a good time to do so … though it’s by no means the only time that’s appropriate. I’ll be looking for it with particular interest this month, however, owing to the festivities of the season, and, of course, because I haven’t seen it in a while. It definitely merits watching multiple times; if you haven’t seen it yet, I recommend it. Be prepared for some unsettling scenes that may have more impact than the graphically violent sequences that seem so prevalent in horror today, as it’s a well-crafted picture that doesn’t rely on blood to keep itself going.
All the more reason to enjoy it, right? That’s my opinion, anyway.
There’s little more frustrating than a frustrating movie.
Enter Jim Jarmusch’s vampire opus Only Lovers Left Alive. Was this flick frustrating or what? It had some funny bits, some great cinematography, a look, a feel. But it didn’t have a lot of conflict … and the internal issues experienced by the characters – what seemed to be the problem of remaining alive, as a vampire, for hundreds of years and quelling the thirst for sucking someone’s blood out of his or her body without being bored – were resolved in an all too pat fashion. Add in a very deliberate pace (glacial doesn’t come close), and you have a bit of a mess.
Jarmusch has a lot of talent. I like the fact that this film was to a horror-driven vampire movie as eggplants are to horn-rimmed glasses. But I think it might’ve been overly ambitious. It reached for things it couldn’t attain. A more straightforward flick would’ve been more entertaining.
Of course, if it was a more straightforward film, it probably would’ve been a horror movie. So perhaps the only thing it could’ve been was what it became.
Oh, well. I guess I was expecting something a little more satisfying. It was a good try, nonetheless.
I’ve always been afraid of decomposing bodies.
Not that I’ve seen any up close, thank God. I’m talking about in the movies, where they’re as prevalent in the horror genre as chatty friends in terrible rom-coms.
So that’s why I don’t watch many horror flicks. Oh, sure, I’ll turn to them now and then if they’re on TV, but I invariably shield my eyes. It doesn’t even matter if the picture is lousy cinematically; I don’t enjoy watching zombies or any other being made up to have putrified flesh jump out at me.
A long time ago, I watched Raiders of the Lost Ark over and over again to make sure I could stand the scene where Indy and Marion are trapped in a tomb with a host of dusty mummies. Nowadays, it seems pretty tame, but at the time, it scared me out of my wits. There’s something about rotting corpses that makes me want to say, “Zoinks, Scoob!” I don’t like ’em.
I’m probably not alone. You’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who’s like “Hey, I really enjoy seeing flicks with a whole lotta decomposing bodies.” It’s not exactly an audience-pleaser, is it? Still, some movies can’t do without them, and I suppose they’ll always be a fixture of horror pictures … coming out of nowhere in the dark, with a crash in the soundtrack.
Maybe it’s the jolt I really can’t take. Whatever it is, I’m not down with rotting corpses in my films. You can keep ’em.