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.
Lots and lots of film screenings and film-related events are on the calendar and in the works, so schedule yourself some quality time in the dark:
• Lucasfilm’s Industrial Light & Magic’s Colin Benoit will discuss his work as layout supervisor of the Oscar-winning Rango from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. March 28 at Harkins Bricktown Cinemas, as part of PL Studios’ A Night of Hollywood Visual Effects in OKC. You may not have heard of the obscure flicks for which he’s also provided visual effects, including Iron Man, Star Trek, Hulk, Star Wars: Episode III — Revenge of the Sith and Transformers. (Thought not.)
Also on the bill are LAIKA’s Mark Shapiro (Coraline), CG artist Ed Whetstone and a slew of instructors from PL’s own Digital-Tutors. The event is free, but space is limited, so RSVP at plstudios.com. The first 100 attendees get a free T-shirt!
• Coinciding with City Arts Center’s Miradas exhibit of Mexican art, the venue at 3000 General Pershing presents Perdida at 6 p.m. March 29. The 2009 documentary tells the “unbelievable true story of the rise and fall of the Calderón moviemaking dynasty.” This holds particular appeal to B-movie fans, as the Calderón name is responsible for sex comedies and the Santo series, notably including the recently unearthed, long-thought-lost The Vampire and the Sex. Feast on this clip from Perdida, complete with nekkid women:
• You know who would hate Perdida? Kirk Cameron. I’m just guessing, but something tells me I’d be right. Anyway, he’s made his own documentary, Monumental: In Search of America’s National Treasure Live, showing at 6:30 p.m. March 27 at AMC Quail Springs Mall 24, Cinemark Tinseltown USA and Norman’s Hollywood Spotlight 14. Despite the title, it has nothing to do with Nicolas Cage’s National Treasure, and everything to do with the (I think incorrect) idea that America’s ideals are fading. Regardless of whether you agree, Kirk Cameron’s here to save us all:
And there you have it, so sleep well, America. On a related note, any time I feel sad, I watch these four minutes and 51 seconds from Cameron’s inexplicably popular Fireproof:
• Ever thought the classic ballet Swan Lake could use some 3-D? Your dream comes true for one night only, as Swan Lake in 3D jumps from Broadway to the big screen via Matthew Bourne’s innovative take. Catch it at 7:30 p.m. March 20 at AMC Quail Springs Mall 24 and Cinemark Tinseltown USA. For tickets, visit fathomevents.com.
• For much more modern music, Can U Feel It: The UMF Experience bleeps and bloops at 7 p.m. March 22 at AMC Quail Springs Mall 24 and Cinemark Tinseltown USA. Capturing the vibe (minus the X) of one of the world’s premier electronic-music fests, the concert documentary features the music of DJs Tiësto, David Guetta, Carl Cox, Afrojack, Fedde Le Grand, Boys Noize and many more. For tickets, visit fathomevents.com.
• In case you miss the Oklahoma City Museum of Art’s free screening of the classic Casablanca tomorrow, Fathom Events presents the Humphrey Bogart / Ingrid Bergman Best Picture winner at 2 and 7 p.m. March 21 at — you guessed it — AMC Quail Springs Mall 24 and Cinemark Tinseltown USA.
What’s the difference? Turner Classic Movies host Robert Osborne (I like that dude!) presents the pic in a “stunning digital presentation” to celebrate its 70th anniversary. He’ll discuss the drama’s enduring legacy, share behind-the-scenes stories and, hopefully, will school all those who think “Play it again, Sam” is an actual quote from the film. For tickets, visit fathomevents.com.
• Speaking of classics — or just movies that won lotsa awards — that 3-D conversion of James Cameron’s Titanic has been announced officially to screen in IMAX at the Moore Warren, home to a brand-spankin’-new IMAX theater, luckily. Glug, glug!
• Finally, Japan’s controversial Battle Royale finally got an American release on Blu-ray and DVD (I reviewed it earlier this week), but how awesome would it be to see this proto-Hunger Games “splatire” (that’s “splatter” + “satire”) in theaters? Totally awesome! But you’ll have to make the drive to Dallas, where you can catch it April 6 and 7, only at the Inwood. Apparently, Tulsa’s Circle Cinema showed it last month, and I missed that news. Oh, well. —Rod Lott