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An Academic look at the Horror Genre...

  • Fangoria
One of the perceptions about Academic Conferences is that they are dry dusty affairs with about as much excitement as ball of coughed up cat hair. However within the last decade, the perception is frankly untrue. More and more professors and academics are looking toward popular culture to study and talk about and horror is no exception. In fact, horror may be one of the biggest areas of study within the academy these days. Films, game, and sequential art studies are “popping” all over campuses. (I know guy here at Texas Tech University who is doing his dissertation on narrative structure within the Friday The 13th movie series. So for all you Fangoria readers, there do seem to be niches within the academy that is growing and growing.

Just a few weeks back, The Southwest Texas Popular Culture and American Culture Association met for its 30th meeting in Albuquerque New Mexico.
See full article at Fangoria »

A Good Woman

A Good Woman
TORONTO -- The bon mots fly fast and furious in A Good Woman, which transplants Oscar Wilde's Lady Windermere's Fan to a new place and time.

But while screenwriter Howard Himelstein and director Mike Barker have done a workable job of drawing the Wilde social satire out of the drawing room, the film never quite manages to travel at the same buoyant velocity as the acerbic wit.

The tone trouble and problematic casting (more about that later) prevent the adaptation from being considered truly Oscar-worthy -- that's referring both to the statuette and Mr. Wilde -- though the delicious dialogue and opulent backdrops still make for a reasonably pleasant viewing experience.

Reverting to Wilde's original title for his play, A Good Woman has been moved up to the 1930s and relocated to the decidedly airier Amalfi coast in Italy.

Several of the characters, meanwhile, now have become Americans.

That would include Robert (Mark Umbers) and Meg (Scarlett Johansson) Windermere, a young newlywed couple in good standing who have left New York's sticky summer behind for some sensible vacationing on the Italian Riviera.

Having the same idea is Mrs. Stella Erlynne (Helen Hunt), a woman of a certain age with a certain reputation to match, who has seemingly exhausted her supply of the wealthy, married New York men who served as her meal ticket.

It doesn't take long before the penniless vamp appears to have landed Robert as her latest conquest, and their frequent sightings together have set the tongues of the sunbathing aristocracy a-flapping.

Meg's discovery that Robert has been issuing a number of checks to Mrs. Erlynne would seem to confirm those rampant rumors, and she receives little solace in the enamored attention paid to her by eligible Lord Darlington (Stephen Campbell Moore).

Of course, things, as it turns out, aren't quite as they appear.

Director Barker (1999's Best Laid Plans), along with cinematographer Ben Seresin, production designer Ben Scott and costume designer John Bloomfield, get the look and feel of the picture up to Merchant Ivory snuff, but there's a prevailing wistfulness hanging over the entire enterprise that has the effect of signaling that weightier third-act twist earlier than necessary.

As for the cast, while Johansson seems to have a natural affinity for period dress, Hunt fares less successfully in the role of the calculating seductress.

She effectively conveys Mrs. Erlynne's vulnerability and pain later on, but Hunt never seems entirely comfortable in her character's skin when she's required to play the shameless vamp with a knack for insinuating herself into the beds and checkbook registers of men who should know better.

As her quite willing next victim, the very wealthy but lonely Tuppy (Tom Wilkinson) nails the required tragicomic pitch with a great deal of self-effacing charm.

A Good Woman

Beyond Films

Credits:

Director: Mike Barker

Screenwriter: Howard Himelstein

Based on the play Lady Windermere's Fan by: Oscar Wilde

Producers: Alan Greenspan, Jonathan English, Steven Siebert, Howard Himelstein

Executive producers: John Evangelides, Mikael Borglund, Hilary Davis, Jimmy De Brabant, Michael Dounaev, Liam Badger, Duncan Hopper, Rupert Preston

Director of photography: Ben Seresin

Production designer: Ben Scott

Editor: Neil Farrell

Costume designer: John Bloomfield

Music: Richard G. Mitchell

Cast:

Mrs. Erlynne: Helen Hunt

Meg Windermere: Scarlett Johansson

Tuppy: Tom Wilkinson

Lord Darlington: Stephen Campbell Moore

Robert Windermere: Mark Umbers

Contessa Lucchino: Milena Vukotic

No MPAA rating

Running time -- 93 minutes

'Rapa Nui'

'Rapa Nui'
Kevin Reynolds' Easter Island epic "Rapa Nui" works hard to dazzle one with its vision of a crumbling 17th-century Polynesian society cut off from the world. And like "The Last of the Mohicans", the Warner Bros. release successfully mixes ultra-romantic situations with detailed storytelling and rock-'em/sock-'em action sequences.

The exciting, unique film has sex appeal (lots of bare flesh), beautiful imagery and relevant messages about humankind's folly, but with no major stars, the film will be searching for an audience. Viewer reaction should be mixed, with the positive heralds prevailing. Getting the word out to twenty- and thirtysomethings is the secret to marketing this island adventure.

Produced by Kevin Costner and Jim Wilson, the sumptuously mounted "Rapa Nui" (the native islanders' name for Easter Island) imagines a Stone Age people self-destructing through environmental mismanagement and festering social inequity.

Discovered by Europeans in 1722, the complete story of Easter Island and the inhabitants who built the hundreds of striking "moai" stone statues has remained a tantalizing mystery ever since.

Reynolds, who wanted to make a film about the subject since childhood, and co-writer Tim Rose Price stick with the prevailing winds and make the island inhabitants long-lost Polynesian seafarers divided between the ruling-class Long Ears and working-class Short Ears.

Ostensibly ruled by an aging figurehead and opportunistic priest, the Long Ears order the carving and moving of relatively huge stone statues, but leave the grunt work to the Short Ears.

The multi-track plot concerns the rivalry between a fun-loving Long Ear Jason Scott Lee) and a smoldering Short Ear (Esai Morales), both of whom love a gorgeous Short Ear maid (Sandrine Holt). The longtime friends quickly become adversaries when Morales' character strikes a deal to enter the annual ritual race that decides who will rule the island. Meanwhile, the desperate creation of more "moai" continues to deforest the island and signal a looming disaster.

Cecil B. De Mille would have been proud of spectacular scenes showing the hauling and eventual toppling of the "moai." The dangerous race over volcanic cliffs and shark-infested waters that climaxes the film is a great payoff, while the concluding strife is grim and apocalyptic.

Lee and Morales are perfectly cast and equal to the considerable physical demands of their roles. Most of the major supporting roles are filled by Maori pros. Eru Potaka-Dewes ("The Piano") plays the island's aging patriarch as a near-senile dreamer. George Henare is also a solid presence as the smug priest.

Filmed on Easter Island locations, "Rapa Nui" is excellently lensed in wide-screen by Stephen F. Window and boasts huge outdoor sets from production designer George Liddle.

The film is frequently propelled (and almost overwhelmed) by Stewart Copeland's wall-to-wall score. Costumer John Bloomfield, with the help of makeup supervisor Peter Frampton and key hairstylist Paul D. Pattison, contributes the believable costumes, tattoos and elongated ears.

RAPA NUI

Warner Bros.

A TIG Productions/Majestic Films production

In association with RCS

A Film by Kevin Reynolds

Director Kevin Reynolds

Producers Kevin Costner, Jim Wilson

Screenplay Tim Rose Price, Kevin Reynolds

Executive producers Barrie M. Osborne, Guy East

Director of photography Stephen F. Window

Production designer George Liddle

Editor Peter Boyle

Music Stewart Copeland

Costume designer John Bloomfield

Casting Elisabeth Leustig

Color/Stereo

Cast:

Noro Jason Scott Lee

Make Esai Morales

Ramana Sandrine Holt

Tupa George Henare

Grandfather Eru Potaka-Dewes

Haoa Zac Wallace

Heke Faenza Reuben

Running time -- 107 minutes

MPAA Rating: R

(c) The Hollywood Reporter

See also

Credited With | External Sites