Well kids, Halloween is right around the corner, and the pressure is on, year after year, to find the absolute greatest costume of all time. I think we can blame much of this pressure on teevee and movies, which dramatize million-dollar Halloween parties with elaborate, ornate costumes — designed, of course, by well-paid professionals with sky’s-the-limit budgets. But even pop culture characters occasionally wear a dud costume; here are a few of the least imaginative, with the hope that they’ll adjust your self-imposed expectations just a bit. … Read More
You’ve got to give it to Brian De Palma: he knows what his audiences expect. His new film Passion (out today in theaters; previously available on demand) features all of the director’s greatest hits: a twisty plot heavy on identity play, a narrative that mostly serves at the pleasure of his baroque set pieces, an obsession with voyeurism (digital, these days), and a boundless appreciation for the pleasures of Sapphic teasing. It’s a De Palma movie through and through; by the time he trots out the split-screen, he’s like Skynyrd finally playing “Freebird” for a crowd that’s been waiting all night for it. It hits all of the beats we expect and will undoubtedly please those who’ve followed his work since the 1970s. But Passion is, outside of those cinephile-pleasing gestures, a pretty bad movie. If it bore any other filmmaker’s name, would we cut it the same slack? It’s a question worth asking — particularly in the shadow of The Canyons, in which De Palma’s contemporary (and onetime collaborator) Paul Schrader finds himself similarly scrounging to recapture his past magic. … Read More
Let’s get this out of the way right off the top: by most objective standards, The Canyons is a bad movie. Bret Easton Ellis’s screenplay is filled with the worst kind of tin-eared dialogue (“I’m really sorry I didn’t congratulate you on starting your own PR company”) and situations that seldom rise above their soapish base instincts, and in the third act, he clearly just gives up and inexplicably turns one of his characters into Patrick Bateman. The photography careens wildly between scenes that are sleekly, gorgeously captured and others that are embarrassingly amateurish; either way, the picture has the aesthetic of your average Cinemax After Dark feature. And its second male lead turns in one of the worst performances I’ve ever seen in a theatrically released motion picture.
But… … Read More
There comes a time in every actress’s life when her star fades. And if, like The Canyons star Lindsay Lohan, she has not properly invested her money and/or co-branded a K-mart clothing line or perfume, she may find herself having to choose less-than-ideal projects. The late-career odd role can be a valuable way station, saving lives and mortgages alike. Or, worst-case scenario, they add colorful footnotes to a distinguished career. Here follow some… Read More
The Canyons, the psychosexual drama from writer Bret Easton Ellis and director Paul Schrader, is a project that certainly… Read More
In the opening sequence of Sofia Coppola’s The Bling Ring, the titular crew of young, hot, rich-ish, mostly female thieves scale a fence, enter a Hollywood home through an unlocked sliding glass door, and — as loud, pulsing rock music plays — one turns to the other and giggles, “Let’s go shopping.” The credit sequence that follows is framed by conspicuous consumption: not just fetishistic product shots of the shoes, purses, and jewelry that they lift, but how those items are immediately incorporated into their online personae. A closet is opened, a loving close-up is delivered, and Coppola immediately cuts to the Facebook photo of the thief sporting said item. The members of the Bling Ring don’t rob for the pulse-quickening thrill of petty crime. They rob out of a sense of wealthy entitlement: go where you want, grab what you want, take and post a picture of yourself doing or wearing or waving it. … Read More
This summer’s cinema slate is all about teen girls gone wild, with Harmony Korine’s Spring Breakers and Sofia Coppola’s The Bling Ring bringing the crime spree to theaters. Last week week, we listened to the Skrillex soundtrack for Korine’s neon bacchanal and looked at some awesome fan-made posters for the film. The trailer for Coppola’s Bling Ring also appeared online, and got us excited for celebrity-obsessed teens that rob from the rich. Girl groups that willfully break boundaries are rare in cinema, and we wanted to spotlight more of these troublemakers. These brazen all-girl gangs proved men don’t necessarily have the upper hand when it comes to kicking ass and taking… Read More