5 items from 2016
Movies are so rarely great art that if we cannot appreciate great trash we have very little reason to be interested in them. – Pauline Kael.
The above quote from the late, legendary American film critic Kael was most certainly not referring to Lamberto Bava’s Demons (1985), but a lot of films in our beloved genre bow to this description. Demons is great trash – it wants nothing more to assault your senses with a barrage of images and sound for 88 minutes before you even know what hit you, and does so while breathing that rarified Italian air.
But I’m sure she was referring to a film like Demons – one made with a ton of style, by a filmmaker impassioned with his chosen topic, as ridiculous as that plays on the screen. And make no mistake, Demons is ridiculous; as a matter of fact, it starts there before rapidly ascending to the sublime. »
- Scott Drebit
Spoiler Alert: Do not read unless you have seen the April 10 season one finale of “Billions,” “The Conversation.”
The big finish of the first season of “Billions” — the fiery confrontation between Chuck Rhoades and Bobby Axelrod — was in fact the big finish after six months of filming on season one. Brian Koppelman and David Levien, showrunners and co-creators of the Showtime drama with Andrew Ross Sorkin, made a point of making that the last scene lensed.
Just as it was important to stoke anticipation for the inevitable showdown between Chuck and Axe among viewers, it was important to have some tension building up for stars Paul Giamatti and Damian Lewis. Saving that sequence for last allowed both actors to leave it all on the floor — the decimated floor of Axe Capital.
“We really went out of our way to make that the last shot of the season,” Levien told Variety. »
- Cynthia Littleton
The late ‘80s signaled the end of my first golden age of horror. Which is to say two things: adulthood beckoned, and horror films – especially slashers - were running low on inspiration (remember the early ‘90s wasteland? Brr.). However, looking across the waters, some veteran Italian filmmakers weren’t throwing in the towel yet. Michele Soavi’s Stage Fright (1987) stands apart from the crowd because it proved that not only was the beaten and flogged sub-genre alive, it was still capable of surprising fans with enough fresh blood pumping through its weary veins to make you sit up and notice. Just when you thought you couldn’t survive another hack ‘em up, Stage Fright made you a believer again.
- Scott Drebit
Wiener-Dog, which has just premiered at Sundance, is "the eighth and perhaps most blithely eccentric feature to date from Todd Solondz," suggests Variety's Guy Lodge. Produced by Megan Ellison and Christine Vachon and shot by Ed Lachman, this collection of short stories connected by the titular dachshund stars Ellen Burstyn, Keaton Nigel Cooke, Kieran Culkin, Julie Delpy, Danny DeVito, Greta Gerwig, Tracy Letts, Zosia Mamet, Connor Long, Bridget Brown and Michael Shaw. We're collecting reviews as they come in. » - David Hudson »
As uncomfortable a viewing experience it may be, the best films from Todd Solondz slowly reveal themselves with their character intricacies and distinct touches, burrowing deep inside as they replay in one’s mind. In his latest feature, Wiener-Dog, he’s crafted a series of incisive, perceptive vignettes mutually connected by the shifting owners of his title character. Aptly described by Solondz as Au Hasard Balthazar meets Benji, there’s no denying it bears his brand of humor and heartbreak in every scene.
After being dropped off at the local kennel by his owner, the first section finds the lovable dachshund as a gift to Remi (Keaton Nigel Cooke), a young boy recovering after being treated for cancer. As he learns the responsibilities of having the animal, which involves a cinematically unprecedented “Clair de Lune”-scored trail of dog shit, his mother, Dina (Julie Delpy), lectures on the necessities of putting the puppy to sleep. »
- Jordan Raup
5 items from 2016
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