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.
Wuthering Heights 8 p.m. Friday-Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday Oklahoma City Museum of Art 415 Couch okcmoa.com 236-3100 $5-$8
Costume dramas are not my thing. That goes double when they're staged with an epic sweep — true tests of patience and bladder resolve.
So there’s something admirable about directors tackling oft-adapted material with a decidedly different approach, which could account for two such pictures making many a critic’s 2012 best list: Joe Wright’s Anna Karenina and Andrea Arnold’s Wuthering Heights.
Whereas Wright (Hanna) opted to turn Leo Tolstoy’s novel into a highly theatrical piece that artfully celebrates its artifice, Arnold (Fish Tank) took a bare-bones approach in bringing Emily Brontë’s tragedy back to the screen. And whereas Wright went showy, Arnold went earthy, in essence seeming to have given her film over to the elements.
Wuthering Heights screens Friday through Sunday at the Oklahoma City Museum of Art, and when its love-struck characters run outdoors to the English countryside, we can hear the wind whipping in the mic; when they trot through the fog, we sense its dampness.
Arnold’s is a love story that finds intimacy by relishing in details. It’s a decades-in-the-making relationship between the beautiful Cathy (Kaya Scodelario, Clash of the Titans) and Heathcliff (newcomer James Howson), an African-American orphan rescued from the streets by Cathy’s family. Both actors realistically underplay a romance doomed by the times. It’s interesting how the mistreatment Heathcliff endures, both physically and verbally, mirrors that present inDjango Unchained.
While Heights grows too languid for its own good, its stripped-down nature is a welcome respite from stiff-upper-lipdom. —Rod Lott