Life in space is impossible. Alfonso Cuaròn’s latest film “Gravity” begins with this warning, reinforced by the foreboding soundtrack building up behind it. It’s an obvious line, one a cynical person may think is insultingly reminding the audience that space is a hostile place for life. However the truth is much more beautiful and rewarding. That simple fact is the heart of the movie.
To put it bluntly: Steve McQueen is the most exciting up-and-coming director in the film industry today. After giving us Hunger in 2008 and Shame in 2011, he is back for round three with 12 Years a Slave, a biopic about Solomon Northup, a freeman who was tricked, drugged, kidnapped, and forced into slavery. It’s a true story, and the screenplay is based on Northup’s memoir, Twelve Years a Slave.
By: Kenny Leon
Ladies and gentlemen, I am done. I say this because horror, at least in the Hollywood sense, is and has been dead for a very long while, its corpse so bloated and decayed that its stink hangs in the air with every new “horror” release. This stink seems to have latched onto The Conjuring, and like anything dead, you tend to think of the times where the dearly departed was once so alive, a sentiment that pervades this movie. Watching The Conjuring to me was a constant reminder of better days where horror buildups and payoffs were underlined by a strong narrative, interesting characters, and/or playful and experimental film making.
When it was announced that there would be a remake of Sam Raimi’s “The Evil Dead” I was understandably skeptical. The original is a movie that I hold near and dear to my heart, hell, it’s the movie that awakened the cinephile buried deep within my soul. However, when I learned that Raimi, star Bruce Campbell, and producer Rob Tapert were all involved, I allowed myself a glimmer of hope. Unfortunately, my faith has gone unrewarded. The best thing you can say about Fede Alvarez’s “Evil Dead” is that it is a different film than the original, but also aspires to maintain the ferocious, grueling spirit it is remembered for. The result is sort of a mixed bag. It’s loaded with brutal, no holds barred horror, but it never really manages to be effective, so much carnage should have me digging my nails into my arm rest, not stifling yawn after yawn.
Every so often a movie comes along that is so good that it feels important. This isn’t because the director is trying to force its importance upon the audience, but because the movie is just so well made on every single level that it feels important, it feels like a movie that will matter for quite some time. Paul Thomas Anderson’s latest work “The Master” is one of these films. I’ve always thought of Anderson as a great director, perhaps one of the greatest contemporary directors, but his screenplays have never quite matched up to the power of his camera for me. “The Master” is an exception; it is truly his masterpiece, everything comes together in a glorious rhapsody that held me completely enthralled, both challenging and entertaining me, which for me is the pinnacle that all movies should hope to achieve.
“The Hunger Games” as a novel is both an exciting romp that manages to both keep your eyes glued to the page and criticize aspects of our culture and government. The film is just as exciting, but doesn’t really feel as interested in challenging society. That isn’t to say that it is completely devoid of biting commentary on notions like the 1%, reality TV, or the growing problems of poverty around the world, it just doesn’t seem as concerned with them. Instead of presenting them in a gritty, downtrodden way like the novel, it all feels closer to satire. Even the dirty, third world District 12 feels like it’s playing up the notion of a dystopian shanty town rather than actually putting you into the hell hole author Suzanne Collins describes in her novels. Still, it’s kind of refreshing that a well made film that is aimed at young adults is actually thought provoking, if in a very simple and pedestrian way.