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THE WEEKEND MARQUEE: ‘Inglourious’ Horror Flicks

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The Weinstein Company may be celebrating for the second week in a row now that Halloween II is invading theaters. Last weekend, Bob and Harvey Weinstein scored big with Quentin Tarantino‘s Inglourious Basterds and they’re hoping that Rob Zombie‘s second stab at the Michael Myers reboot will take them to the top of the box office again. It could happen– but that’s if it can hack up the stiff competition from the other horror flick, The Final Destination. While the reviews for Halloween II are significantly better than its predecessor, it still has critics divided (which is nothing new for one of Zombie’s films).

In his review for the San Francisco Chronicle, Peter Hartlaub writes,

Zombie’s second Halloween remake is all gore and atmosphere, and it’s not a successful blend. At this point in his career, the director seems incapable of making a film that isn’t interesting. His brilliance in casting cameos alone (Howard Hesseman! Margot Kidder! Weird Al Yankovic?!?) is enough to keep most pop culture junkies engaged throughout the 101-minute running time. But the movie lacks the strong vision and memorable carnage of Zombie’s masterpiece, The Devil’s Rejects.”

And that itself was a sequel to the inferior House of 1000 Corpses. So I guess Halloween II might be worth seeing then. One thing you can bank on with Zombie is that he’ll always improve the second time around.

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Unlike Halloween II, the other horror sequel, The Final Destination, which will be shown in 3D in select theaters, does not have critics divided: it is a certified pile of dog feces. Jordan Mintzer, of Variety, writes,

Whatever hints of originality lay in the series’ previous editions have been all but sucked out of this one… While the use of 3-D does provide some thrills, as well as a few laughs, during the pic’s opening NASCAR-set massacre, the effect quickly grows tiresome, as do the deaths themselves. Once we realize the 3-D is used merely to highlight whatever tool or appliance will soon turn into a weapon, and then afterward to spew blood and/or various organs in our direction, there’s not much else to look out for.”

Like many 4th installments before it (and many to come), The Final Destination begs the question: how many times can you remake the same movie? Director David R. Ellis, and screenwriters Eric Bress & Jeffrey Reddick, don’t have the chops that Zombie has as a filmmaker. He adds style, satire and pop culture hyperlinks into his horror flicks. All The Final Destination filmmakers seem to add is more blood. That gets boring.

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If horror isn’t your bag, then maybe a zany comedy about a legendary music festival is. Taking Woodstock is directed by Ang Lee, his first since the little seen and misunderstood Lust/Caution, and written by James Schamus, who adapted the screenplay from the memoir by Elliot Tiber & Tom Monte. The movie centers on the closeted Tiber (played by ubiquitous Comedy Central staple Demetri Martin) and his efforts to organize the first Woodstock festival on his parent’s farm. The reviews have been 50/50.

Peter Travers, of Rolling Stone, writes,

It’s no strain to see what Lee is aiming for and only fitfully achieves: a sweet comedy of transformation in which the changes in Elliot mirror a cultural revolution. But all the tie-dye, reefer, skinny-dipping, split-screen cinematography (from Eric Gautier) and acid-trip psychedelics courtesy of Tiber’s encounter with hippies (Paul Dano and Kelli Garner) can’t make up for the film’s major sin of omission: the music. Whether the filmmakers were limited by rights issues or simply chose to not use concert footage, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, Jefferson Airplane, the Who, the Band, the Grateful Dead, name your rock legend, remain frustratingly out of reach.”

I wonder why Ang Lee changes genres so often? For every Ice Storm and Crouching Tiger, there’s a Hulk and Brokeback Mountain– films in which you can sense Lee’s detachment to the material. Taking Woodstock can also be added to that list.

THE OTHER MOVIES OPENING ARE:

Big Fan, a comedy written and directed by Robert Siegel that centers on “the word’s biggest New York Giants fan” (Patton Oswalt). Steven Rea, of the Philadelphia Inquirer, writes,

Big Fan shares a nutty kinship with the obsessive-loner pictures of Martin Scorsese, namely Taxi Driver and The King of Comedy. And while Oswalt is no (Robert) De Niro, the stand-up comic brings a schlumpy pathos to his portrait that shows depth and dimension.”

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Play the Game, Marc Feinberg‘s tale of a cassanova (Paul Campbell) who shows an old man (Andy Griffith, continuing his  indie comedy streak after Waitress) a thing or two about pleasing the ladies. As wonderful as the premise sounds (I wish there was a way to convey sarcasm in typing), the movie has some pretty bad buzz. In Janice Page‘s review in The Boston Globe, she describes Play of the Game as

a film in which comedic maturity is measured in jokes about hemorrhoids, constipation, and erectile dysfunction.”

A real crowd pleaser, huh?!

At the Edge of the World, a documentary by Dan Stone about an Antarctic campaign to stop a Japanese Whaling fleet. Elena Oumano, of the Village Voice, writes,

This real-life drama and its vast setting demand to be experienced on the big, instead of the little screen.”

The Horse Boy, a documentary that chronicles a parent’s search for a cure to their son’s autism. They’ll try anything and go anywhere to find it. The release for this Michael O. Scott is extremely limited, so good luck finding it.

Motherland, a documentary by Jennifer Steinman about a group of grieving women who travel to Africa to find solace and peace.

Orgies and the Meaning of Life, a comedy, written and directed Brad T. Gottfred, that is about an author’s search to find the perfect ending for his novel.

and, lastly,

Mystery Team, Dan Eckman‘s coming-of-age comedy about a group of amateur detectives struggling to come to grips with reality.




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