Entries Tagged as 'Drama'

Rope (1948)

I’m watching Alfred Hitchcock’s Rope (1943)  this morning, and it’s odd how the lense of time has turned a lighthearted society thriller into an unlikely, Gay sitcom.

Rope is, of course based upon the Leopold and Loeb case in Chicago, during the ’20s of the last century. Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb were two precocious University of Chicago undergrads (both 19 y.o.), who had taken Nietzsche too close to heart, and decided that the best way to exercise their new, Randian philosophy was to murder a 14 y.o. neighbor-boy, Bobby Franks, if only to determine if they could get away with it.

Though the Loeb case took place in Chicago in 1924, Hitchcock relocated his story to New York City, presumably in the late ’40s. The shocking thing here is how Gay the Leopold and Loeb characters appear by 21st c. standards. The villains in Rope are less monstrous than the real Leopold and Loeb because the two teenagers killed a younger boy; all of the characters in the Hitchcock film were adults. [Read more →]

‘Appropriate Adult’ (2011)

'Appropriate Adult' 2011 Appropriate Adult (2011) is a two-part dramatization of the life of  Fred West (1941–1995) a rural. British serial killer that operated in the British Midlands for over 30 years.

The twist is that the filmmakers concentrate upon the relationship between West and his Social Worker, Janet Leach, when he she is brought in to assist West in the mid-90s.

In the UK, the term ‘Appropriate Adult’ has been given to the advocates of mentally deficient citizens and children, much like a Social Worker.

Fred West was a piece of work — blue collar, illiterate and mentally impaired. West had been brought up in an abusive household where he was likely the victim of the sexual predations of both his parents. West also suffered numerous non-fatal head injuries that may have contributed to his disposition. [Read more →]

‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’ (1961)

Dbreakfast at Tiffany's (1961) Has anyone ever appraised this films as anything but a sunny Audrey Hepburn vehicle? It’s one hour and 55 minutes of dissonance. Audrey Hepburn and George Peppard play two characters who are, by all appearances middle class yuppies living in Manhattan during the early ’60s. But this would be a mistake.

In the eponymous Truman Capote novella it is clear that Holly is a high-end call girl and Paul a gigolo. Blake Edwards’ film supresses the gauche details by making Peppard and Hepburn squeaky clean.

The juxtaposition between who these two characters appear to be and how they earn their money percolates in and out of focus as the story proceeds: [Read more →]

To Have and Have Not (1944)

Though this film bears the same title as Ernest Hemingway’s 1937  novel of the same name, it bears few similarities to its source material. I won’t fake any Hemingway scholarship here, only make a few observations:

The screenplay is written by Jules Furthman and William Faulkner, which feels like a bit of a tragedy, given that THaHN feels like most insipid kind of corporate, commercial film making. More on that later. Directed by Howard Hawks, it doesn’t seem to have a tonal center, as the noir elements don’t pay off.

Shot in 1944, while WWII was still raging and 2 years after  Casablanca (1942). THaHN is both an odd sort of  mirror and deconstruction of former. Bacall’s character, Marie ‘Slim’ Browning is definitely a person that you’d want to keep in front of you at all times. [Read more →]

‘Return of the Living Dead III’ (1993)

Zombie girlfriends, rebellious teens, fast cars, motorcycles and gunplay. To spell it out that way, it almost sounds like some other movie. Some other, equally improbable movie.

Of course, it’s just the 3nd sequel to George Romero and John Russo’s Night of the Living Dead (1968)  but this film belongs to the dramedy fork of the franchise that Russo took when he and Romero went their separate ways.

Of course, RothLD 3 was written, directed and produced by ’80s low-budget schlockmeister and H.P. Lovecraft aficionado, Brian Yuzna . Unlike it’s predecessors, it abandons the full-on campy excesses of predecessors Dan O’Bannon ( Alien, Lifeforce, Total Recall )  and Ken Wiederhorn to inject the tragic pathos of teenage romance into the mix, and somehow it works marvelously. [Read more →]

5 Upcoming Genre Features, 2010-12

via Squidoo.com

Captain America: The First Avenger ‘ (2011) • IMDb l ink Captain America:The First Avenger

This one’s a bit contentious — Joe Johnston, who directed The Rocketeer way, way back in 1991 should have been a good choice to direct a period piece about Marvel’s Captain America set during WWII. But then, Johnston turned in the pointless and unnecessary Wolfman remake this past year, and then cast Chris Evans ( Fantastic Four ‘s Johnny Storm) as Steve Rogers, rather than  Mark Valley , (‘Human Target’) an actor born for the role.

Understandably, Marvel and Disney are reaching for a younger actor for the role, but I really dobt that those 18-49 women should be the marketing department’s target. Rather, the target audience ought to be 4 generations of American men aged 7 to 70 that Marvel ought to be aiming for. That, and the fact that 25 year-old Evans will have to go up against 46 year old Robert Downey, Jr., Chris Hemsworth and Samuel Jackson in ‘ The Avengers ‘ (2012) and make it somehow appear that they are peers. [Read more →]

“Boardwalk Empire” (2010)

Boardwalk Empire is this Fall’s new HBO drama starring Steve Buscemi as Enoch “Nucky” Johnson (1883–1968), Atlantic City’s Prohibition-era Mayor. The combination of boardwalk Carney hijinks and organized crime here make this into vintage HBO — an interesting cross between Carnivale and The Sopranos . Martin Scorcese directed the 70 minute pilot.

The unsurprising thing is that it works really, really well. The Prohibition-era paradigm shift is similar enough to our own era of ascendant faith to make it relevant. The first scene features Buscemi’s Johnson speaking before a local Temperance group and the environment is as colorful and bannered as a Baptist tent revival. As colorful as Johnson’s life of whoring, dealmaking as the mayor and political boss of New Jersey’s Sin City. [Read more →]

‘Never Let Me Go’ (2010)

When writer-director Robert Fiveson created ‘ Parts:The Clonus Horror ‘back in 1979, I’m sure he had no idea he was creating one of the most enduring science-fiction memes of the late 20th and early 21st century.

To summarize Parts , a group of young people are born, grow up and live in carefully controlled environment, wherein their every desire is indulged, yet their every behavior is monitored by the powers-that-be until such time they receive a call and it’s time for them to emigrate to the utopia of “America.”

Of course,  America is just a lie and all of these bright, young, ambitious kids are just the spare-parts clone-farm of an aging, wealthy, politically-connected elite that created the desert haven of Clonus as an organ-bank to extend their own lives. But the kids are aware of none of this — they are simply caught up in the celebration of their young lives, until the day that they are summoned to ‘America’. [Read more →]

Case 39 (2010)

“This little girl heard her parents say that they were going to send her to hell.” — Emily Jenkins, Case 39

So begins Case 39 , a horror-thriller vehicle for Renee Zellweger that’s sat on a shelf for 4 years. Wikipedia says , that the film was completed in “late 2006″ and rescheduled three more times before landing on American screens, this Friday, October 1.

Case 39 is not a bad movie, but it is a movie we’ve seen many times before (see Orphan (2009) and  Joshua (2007)). RZ plays the hard-working, well-maening social worker, Emily Jenkins who prevails upon her to add one more child protective case to her already-overburdened caseload. Vocation turns into affection and Jenkins adopts the child and brings her into her home, and then… things start to go wrong. [Read more →]

‘The Notorious Bettie Page’ (2005)

 The Notorious Bettie Page' (2005) The Notorious Bettie Page is  good in an intellectually satisfying way, bringing order to the typically messy subject of art, pornography and when, where and how one crosses  into the other. Typically, a film like this would be done as a straight biopic, but what Mary Harron and Guinivere Turner have crafted here is no less complicated than Rashamon (1950). No, seriously.

Listen up — Turner and Harron have carefully constructed a four-dimensional portrait of a woman who was, initially, a rather innocent studio model. She was good at what she did, attractive and at ease with her body in a way that made nudity easy. She was many things to many people, even as those fantasies and figments overlapped and contradicted on another.The modelling was so easy, that distortions such as S&M, Fetishism and role-playing were a bit of a joke to her, even as she posed for pictures by the notorious Irving and Paula Klaw . [Read more →]