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.
Oklahoma City University Film Institute’s series continues Jan. 27 with A Separation, the Iranian drama that won last year’s Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. As with all titles scheduled for this season, themed “Escape from Freedom,” admission is free.
When Oklahoma Gazette reviewed A Separation in its original area release last March, my colleague Phil Bacharach called it “a tense and absorbing domestic drama packed with the suspense of a Hitchcock flick.” He has pretty good taste; isn’t that recommendation enough?
The remainder of the lineup includes: • Treeless Mountain (2008, Korea), Feb. 10 • The Kid with a Bike (2011, France), Feb. 24 • Breaker Morant (1980, Australia), March 10
Screenings take place in the Kerr McGee Auditorium of Meinders School of Business on the OCU campus, 2501 N. Blackwelder. For more information, call 208-5472 or visit okcu.edu/film-lit. —Rod Lott