For movie watchers, few things can be more frustrating than films that begin with a sequence of immense promise, only to show over the remainder that the emperor truly wears no clothes. Two new examples come from the horror realm.
Until now, Ethan Hawke was having a wonderful year. Before Midnight, the third leg of his trilogy with director Richard Linklater and actress Julie Delpy, brought waves of critical acclaim and talk of another Oscar nomination for their collaborative screenplay, while The Purge turned a meager investment into a highly profitable box-office take.
Neither a chain of spice stores nor a Food Network program, The Seasoning House is a bleak-as-nuclear-winter thriller set during the Balkan conflict of the 1990s. A deaf girl named Angel (Brit teen Rosie Day) is taken from her home by soldiers who shoot her mother dead.
Paul Schrader’s The Canyons opens and closes with a montage of abandoned movie theaters. For this film in particular, that choice strikes one as symbolic in several ways: not only as a comment on the state of the industry, but on the state of The Canyons itself. You’re unlikely to find many 2013 films this empty.
What's a director of classic musicals doing in science fiction? Making Saturn 3, one of the worst of the genre Hollywood made in the immediate post-Star Wars / Alien era. Stanley Donen (Singin' in the Rain) takes to it about as well as you'd expect; he's in over his head.
One new-to-the-metro film portrays a community so minute, so insular and so far removed from ours, it may as well be science fiction.
While not a documentary, “Of Gods and Men” focuses on a group that is nonetheless real: French monks.
Either way, you can’t get further from “Fast Five” this weekend. Hope you like subtitles.
Opening Friday exclusively at AMC Quail Springs Mall 24, 2501 W Memorial, the Cannes Film Festival winner from writer/director Xavier Beauvois nails — or so I assume — the lifelong commitment of Trappist monks who live a day-in-day-out life defined by ritual.
They go about their business of prayer and humanitarian work in a dirt-poor Algerian community, but find their rigid schedule upturned by the arrival of armed, radical Muslims, who invade their monastery and cluelessly demand, “Where’s the pope?”
From there, the fact-based “Of Gods” is all about fleeing or fighting — in the monks’ case, fighting simply means staying put and having faith that God will work things out ... even if fundamentalist terrorists aren’t exactly known for being open to negotiating peace.
Many parallels can be drawn between these two sides, and the film presents challenges to audiences as well, both in thought and length. I can’t say I enjoyed the experience — in fact, so excellent a job the film does in depicting what must be a dreadfully dull life, I was lulled into a state of numbness — but pieces may haunt you long after its tragic end is reached. —Rod Lott