The Desperate Hours (William Wyler) **** - The plot is simple and perhaps a bit cliche by now: A trio of escaped convicts hold a suburban family in hostage. Director William Wyler may not be Alfred Hitchcock but he still is able to retain suspense and tension althroughout the film. Humphrey Bogart, who plays the leader of the convicts, was fantastic. He creates a frightening, yet all-too-human villain. He's the main reason that even though I've seen a lot of these types of films before this, it still feels fresh and gripping.
A Tale of Two
Sisters (Kim Ji-won) *** - Two sisters come to live with their father and
stepmother after their mother dies. Then strange and spooky things start to
happen. The film is a slow-burn and builds its horror and tension quite
gradually (crazy shit happens in the second and third acts). It introduces lots
of twists and turns, some of it, I felt didn't quite work so well. But still,
it's a very well-made psychological horror film with some really, really good
atmospheric scares. I like the fact that director Kim Ji-won managed to avoid
cheap jump scares.
Man of Steel (Zack Snyder) *** - I'm not
a fan of Zack Snyder and I'm a huge fan of the first two Superman movies with Christopher Reeve so I'm
very wary of this "reboot". That being said, this is probably Zack Snyder's best
work since his Dawn of the Dead, that's
not to say this is his masterpiece. Thank goodness he stopped doing "slow-mo"
shots which I found kind of irritating. Now, I know this is supposed to be a big
action summer movie but for GOD'S SAKES, they should really slow it down with
the action sequences! It's one action sequence to another. So much so, that the
highlights for me are the quiet Smallville moments featuring Kevin Costner and
Diane Lane who are able to inject much needed humanity to the proceedings. A
better filmmaker would have built on that slowly instead of overwhelming the
audience with one big action set piece after another. Everyone else acquits
themselves well (even though Michael Shannon is no Terence Stamp) and I think
there's a great movie in there somewhere but overlength and overindulgence in
CGI set pieces drown it in just being good.
The Great Silence (Sergio Corbucci) ***1/2 - A
mute vigilante goes around the west killing bounty hunters who prey upon outlaws
for the reward money. This is from the director of Django and I didn't like this as much as that
film and it's not because of the VERY bleak ending that makes George R.R. Martin
seem tame by comparison (so bleak they had to make an alternative and ridiculous
happy ending for certain markets) The ending really inverts the Western genre a
bit (I wonder if this would qualify as an anti-Western). Jean Louis Trintignant
is terrific as the Western hero who's both badass and quite tragic and of course
Klaus Kinski is a terrific villain. Oh, also features a TERRIFIC Ennio Morricone
score. It's more than worth seeing it just for that.
After Earth (M. Night Shyamalan) ** - I
had very low expectations going in since the only reason I'm seeing this is that
it's the only other movie playing. Anyway, I didn't find it particularly
offensive. It's just not very good. It's too bad because the concept kind of has
potential. A rewrite and perhaps a different young leading kid (or a few more
acting lessons) could have made it into a decent popcorn movie but alas it's
only an uneven, occasionally dull, at best average vanity project for Will and
son Jaden. Director M. Night Shyamalan who was once this promising, exciting
filmmaker now only shows just barely a glimmer of his cinematic talents here.
It's kind of sad, really.