Movies

 

Shanley Caswell may be in ‘Detention’ but she’s more than a scream queen

Teens and homicidal maniacs go together like peanut butter and chocolate in Hollywood, so “Detention” seems to be the latest in the string of slashers to hit the big screen when it premieres April 13th. But according to actress Shanley Caswell, it’s more than that. Like the films of John Hughes in the eighties, it makes some sharp commentary on the current generation, as well as having a little fun with the horror genre — think “Scream” meets “The Breakfast Club.”

“The film is representational of this generation, my generation, and how fast everything is moving,” said Caswell in a recent interview. “I grew up in a generation where we had the internet and Google and we can know anything that we wanted to know just by going on the worldwide web, and it’s definitely shows how fast kids are moving nowadays.

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‘The Crow’ Remake Survives Lawsuit

For those of you who hate seeing your favorite films remade, a bit of bad news: Relativity Media and the Weinstein Company have settled their lawsuit over rights to a remake of “The Crow,” green-lighting the project again. When will the needless remakes stop?

“The lawsuit between Relativity Media and the Weinstein Company concerning ‘The Crow‘ has been amicably settled out of court, and the parties will continue to work on the film together as planned,” reports The Wrap, from a statement released by both studios.

While details of the settlement weren’t disclosed, the metaphorical shoving match stemmed from the Weinsteins pointing their fingers at Relativity and telling the company it couldn’t sell the rights to “The Crow” to anyone else, alleging Relativity wasn’t honoring a deal for Hollywood heavy-hitters the Weinsteins to distribute it. Then the folks at Relativity stomped their feet and said they didn’t have the $70 million to release the film properly; they were less than pleased with the way the Weinsteins handled one of their previous releases, the musical “Nine,” which flopped terribly at the box office.

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The ‘Twilight’ Hater’s Guide to Manly Vampire Movies

Brace yourself for the mad hordes descending on malls everywhere in a few days at the stroke of midnight. Expect a deadly stampede as the doors open to the most anticipated day in November, at least if you’re pre-pubescent or simply have no taste in men.

I’m not talking about Black Friday, silly, but “Twilight” Thursday. Yes, Thursday at midnight is the official launch of yet another installment of the cash cow, I mean, masterful study of the duality of man and how he (or she, as it were) comes to grip with the eternal question that haunts us all: vampire boy or werewolf boy?

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‘I Melt With You’ Brutal and Brilliant

Ask any child of the ’80s how they feel when they hear the song “I Melt With You” and they’ll tell you what joyful nostalgia the song bears for them as one of the greatest anthems of the era. Based on that, you might expect a film of the same name to be a happy, John Hughes-style trip down memory lane. Or the VH1 version of “The Hangover.” Or even an ’80s version of “The Big Chill.”But you’d be off on all counts. Way off.

This isn’t another dialogue-heavy, cerebral exercise about midlife crisis, but a gut punch of the reality that goes way beyond the movie cliches. Don’t get me wrong, this movie is about that pain of realizing that not only is your life half over — at best — but just how far you’ve strayed from everything you wanted to become. But unlike so many other films that explore the same subject, these guys take action. With brutal and tragic results.

Director Mark Pellington took actors known more for comedy and cast them in one of the most unflinching films you will see this year. Perhaps it’s because of lower expectations based on his pretty-boy past, but former Brat-Packer Rob Lowe is not only brilliantly cast in a sly nod to the era but gives hands-down the performance of his career. Divorcee and father Lowe swings between quiet desperation to desperately out of control as he self-prescribes his narcotic indulgences for himself and his friends as much as his patients: the core of what his doctor’s practice has become.

While the whole ensemble cast of friends deserves accolades — Thomas Jane, Jeremy Piven, Christian McKay — I may be laughed at, but I’m going to go out on a limb and say it: Lowe’s performance is nothing short of Oscar-worthy, as well as McKay’s and the director who orchestrated this and brought such performances out of all these actors.

Of course, the problem is, when you have such a great cast (including Carla Gugino as the cop who senses something is amiss but can’t stop the wheels of fate) it splits the voters. These actors will likely be overlooked come Oscar time. Which is sad, because God knows in an era of endless “Twilight” episodes and senseless remakes, we need more original, though-provoking, raw films like this.

“I Melt With You” has so many poignant moments — McKay with the young lovers, Jane getting the bitter truth from the girlfriend of a young aspiring writer like he used to be, Piven begging Jane to help him with the thing he can’t do himself. And when Lowe’s ex-wife chides him about going off with the boys to “pretend you’re grown-ups,” he quietly replies, “I pretend you still love me … Just tell me again how it went from you loving me to not loving me.”

As sappy as it may sound on paper, trust me, it isn’t even remotely so in the performance. It’s quietly devastating.

Throw in some gorgeous scenery, cinematography, and a killer soundtrack, and I have to say this is the best movie I’ve seen all year. It’s sad it probably won’t get the recognition it deserves, but sadder still that Hollywood can’t embrace this kind of quality and make more movies this good.

“I Melt With You” is breathtaking, heartbreaking, and a relentless reminder to choose your life wisely, lest those choices come back to haunt you. Your day of reckoning won’t be at the end, but about halfway through.

“I Melt With You” opens in limited release theaters December 9, 2011, and is available currently on pay per view cable.

 

Daniel Craig Brings Chilly Sex Appeal to Movies

I never thought there would be a sexier James Bond than Sean Connery, and wasn’t sure about the casting for the latest, icy-cool version. But I have to admit, since taking over as the new James Bond, this new guy has given us girls the ultra-suave tough guy to make us swoon. That’s right, you ladies know who I’m talking about: Craig … Daniel Craig.

And has he an early Christmas present for you, returning to the big screen December 21 as the man who works with “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” — just another of his growing list of alpha male roles. After years of suffering so-called macho men like Steven Seagal, Chuck Norris, and Jean-Claude Van Damme (who I refer to as “Damme proud, Damme strong, Damme stupid”), we have the sophisticated machismo of Craig.

Who knew icy blue could be so smokin’ hot?

Anyway, before I go take a cold shower, let’s look at some great Craig flicks to help hold you over till the big day.

The Mean, the Bad … and the Incredibly Handsome
Craig plays a liar, a thief, and a cheat who plots murder in “Road to Perdition.” He’s a very bad man, but when you look like that, being bad hurts so good. One of his rare smiling moments onscreen is in this one, but it’s the context that truly makes the moment. A young boy asks him why he is always smiling and Craig stoops down to tell him, “cause it’s all so [expletive] hysterical.”

Bring on the Beef “Cake”
Craig plays a British gangsta drug dealer in “Layer Cake” who romps with Sienna Miller and lays down some heavy life philosophizing in the film’s opening monologue. And yes, you should be listening to what the man has to say — it’s his intelligence that makes him so hot. We love him for his mind … really. His hot body has nothing to do with it, I swear.

Can I Be Your Cowgirl?
First he challenges Connery as the sexiest British secret agent ever, and now he’s trying to move in on Clint Eastwood’s gig as the hottest cowboy ever in “Cowboys & Aliens.” Have you no shame, Mr. Craig? Hold you nothing sacred?

The New and Improved James Bond
You know you gotta watch some Bond action. Craig really made the role of 007 his own with his steely take on the suave man of action. While he may not be as warm and funny as some of the previous versions, it makes it that much more special when he does show a little humor.

Like the scene in “Quantum of Solace” when he is rounded up by super sexy secretary Gemma Arterton. She tries to check them into a less-than-stellar hotel under the cover of being “teachers on sabbatical.” So when Craig refuses to stay in the dump, he marches into the five star accommodations he selects, and informs the front desk in perfect deadpan, “We are teachers on sabbatical. And we have just won the lottery.”

Now, I’ve already told you ladies that some Craig DVDs are a good Christmas gift for the men in your life, as you get a little something for yourself in the deal as well. But boys, it works the other way too — take your lady to see “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” when it hits theaters, and let’s just say you may be in for an extra frisky evening after. If you know what I mean.

 

‘Melancholia’ Artfully Mixes Pain and Wonder

The only thing more complex than watching Lars von Trier’s “Melancholia” is reviewing it. I sat down to write this review with absolutely no idea what to say, or even what I felt after this movie, but this is what I can tell you. “Melancholia” is not the kind of movie you go see for mindless action. Or horror. Or humor. Or suspense.
Honestly, I don’t know what on earth you go to this movie for. In fact, the genres cited seem somewhat trivial to something so multi-layered and weighty. Which, I think, might sort of be its point: the triviality of, well, everything.
Love It or Hate It
 I glanced over some reviews before watching this film, noting the divisive “love it or hate it” nature from reviewers. Some negative comments may be related to von Trier’s crazy Cannes comments about Nazism, which I am so not getting into. Some probably just don’t understand it. But for those who do (or think they do), this kind of commentary on the pointlessness of everything we cherish — marriage, family, career, wealth — makes folks mighty uncomfortable. The last time I felt this kind of heaviness was watching “Revolutionary Road,” where Leonardio DiCaprio and Kate Winslet find their own version of domestic hell packaged as the American dream.
After some surreal imagery to open the film, “Melancholia” starts with what should be Justine’s ( Kirsten Dunst ) fairytale wedding and the happiest day of her life. But slowly and steadily, it all starts spiraling down the drain before our eyes. Many critics have complained about how slow the movie is, and it certainly is. But the snail-paced way von Trier eases us into the relentless destruction of everything in Justine’s life is beautifully subtle and real — which is what makes it heartbreaking.
Dunst Shines in Unconventional Role
 Dunst gives an amazing performance, evoking a character who knows that all these great things — a handsome husband (Alexander Skarsgard), a beautiful wedding, a job promotion bestowed on her at the reception, all the wealth and luxury surrounding her — should bring her joy. And she seems to really be happy — at first. But you can see it in Justine’s eyes when she not only realizes none of this will make her happy but, indeed, nothing ever will.
So she proceeds to burn all bridges to any hope of a “normal” life and resigns herself to her hopelessness, to the point where she is unaffected by even the planet heading for Earth that will end mankind. When her sister Claire (Charlotte Gainsbourg) asks Justine if she doesn’t believe there might be some other life beyond Earth, Justine deadpans her answer, “I know we’re alone.” And her words carry the weight of the true depression Dunst so convincingly portrays — not emo, melodramatic posturing, but that flat, expressionless weight of the real thing.
Or at least that’s what I saw in Dunst’s performance, which earned her the Best Actress Award at the Cannes Film Festival. The sad truth is, one probably has to have — or, at least, have had — a little melancholia to understand “Melancholia.” It doesn’t draw tears, or make you laugh, or make you embrace life. It leaves you feeling sort of numb and empty — and alone. Yet it isn’t pure misery. As the characters watch that huge globe creeping up on Earth, it mixes a sense of wonder with the pain. And perhaps a peaceful resignation to the fate that eventually waits for all of us.
And I suspect that’s exactly what von Trier was going for.
The sad truth is, one probably has to have — or, at least, have had — a little melancholia to understand “Melancholia.” It doesn’t draw tears, or make you laugh, or make you embrace life. It leaves you feeling sort of numb and empty — and alone. Yet it isn’t pure misery. As the characters watch that huge globe creeping up on Earth, it mixes a sense of wonder with the pain. And perhaps a peaceful resignation to the fate that eventually waits for all of us.

 

‘Daybreaker’: Putting the Bite into Noir

In “Daybreakers” the credits open with a desolate, apocalyptic cityscape, setting an all too familiar mood we’ve seen many times. But then the shades come up as the sun falls, and the city starts swingin’…this is a world where vamps rule the roost, and damn, they got style, baby, if in a rather cold, neo-noir kind of way. I was expecting “Blade,” but this is far more “Bladerunner,” right down to their glinty eyes.

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