Tuesday, December 16, 2008

No. No no no no no no no no no no.

I did not just chip a tooth a week and a bit before Christmas. I DID NOT.

And if I did, I absolutely, positively did NOT chip it on a #*%&ing hot dog bun.



"The Satanic Rites of Dracula". 1971 Hammer Horror film, which pretty much says everything necessary, doesn't it? How one could go wrong with a title like that, I'll never know, but while there were some bits that really pleased me (Peter Cushing just oozes cool), it was ultimately kind of a pointless exercise (why that suprises me, I don't know--I guess I sort of romanticize Hammer Horror stuff and the reality almost always lets me down.) Personally, I like the original title--"Dracula is Alive and Well and Living in West London"--better, but I guess Christopher Lee objected to having a comedy title on what is absolutely not a comedy film. It doesn't even make it into the so bad it's good category (unfortunately.) The plot revolves around a Dracula-led conspiracy to destroy the world via Satanic ritual and a powerful strain of the Black Plague and naked women. All the Satanic cult's henchmen dressed exactly the same, in a brown wooly vest over black pants and shirt. After the first couple of encounters, I reckon everyone who needed to know would be able to pick out a Satanist at a range of half a mile...

"Southland Tales". Richard Kelly does his best David Lynch imitation with an end of the world...I'm leery of calling it a story, as it reads more like a series of barely connected events that kinda tie up but kinda don't in the end. Maybe if I read the three gaphic novels that are supposed to precede the movie (which starts with Chapter IV) I'd be better able to figure out just what the hell happened and why Justin Timberlake lip-syncing a Killers song in the middle of the film is the critical element of the thing. Lots and lots of voice-over, which I don't mind in theory, but which got tedious after about twenty minutes--OK, there's a lot of exposition needed to make some kind of sense of the world he'd created, but I've got to think more of it could've been dealt with in actual dialogue. And the opening voiceover monologue surprisingly does lean heavily on the graphic novels (written by Kelly and illustrated by Brett Weldele), with numerous images from the books appearing. Apparently it's supposed to be a comedy (albeit a black one), but the only thing consistently amusing to me was Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson's performance as a self-absorbed, highly strung movie star.



"Let Me In/Let The Right One In", by Jonathan Ajvide Lindqvist. As I sit here thinking about it, I can't escape the fact that a similar set-up was used as the foundation of an episode of the Highlander television series, but looking beyond that, Let The Right One In is pretty good vampire story, and that's coming from someone who's a pretty hard sell when it comes to vampires. Not genre-redefining, as the film festival PR for the movie would've had you believe, but still good. Oskar, a bullied, pudgy kid from a broken hom who's right on the edge of breaking under social pressures at school befriends a stange girl, while a killer stalks the city, affecting the lives of various characters, most of whom live in the same apartment complex as the pudgy kid. I'm torn as to whether I like the book better than the film, which was pretty good. The book has a few story threads and subplots that the film didn't, including some history of the strange girl, Eli, and the old man who lives with her (his paedophilia's spelled out loud and clear in the book.) In fact, the old guy is given substantially more to do in the book, which leads to some of the grimmer scenes that I really wouldn't have minded seeing on film but which are, admittedly, tangential to the main thrust of the story, which is the relationship between Oskar and Eli. There are at least two revelations about Eli in the book that I missed in the film (possibly because I wasn't paying close enough attention--I was pretty flustered that day), and a third that explicitly rules out one of my favourite readings of the movie. If you've any interest in non-romantic vampires, this is worth a look--I don't recognize the name of the person quoted on the cover calling the book "Anne Ricean", but it really couldn't be farther from the truth.



Funnily enough, he didn't zero in on the thing that really bugged me, which was the offhanded way in which "Hiro's stuck in the past" was dealt with. I'm as ready to suspend my disbelief as the next guy, but come on...


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