Funny Games

Funny Games Review

An above-average home invasion joint from a director who has a profitable line in pontification.

Writer + Director: Michael Haneke
Rating: 2.75 / 5

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Something Wicked This Way Comes

A carnival comes to a Norman Rockwellish town one autumn midnight. Its owner Mr Dark has evil designs on the citizens’ souls. Charles Halloway, his teenage son Will and his best buddy Jim save the day by sending major love vibes in Mr Dark’s general direction.

The action is liberally spiced with “fine writing.” Here’s daddy Halloway’s extended solo for his son’s edification:

Oh, what strange wonderful clocks women are. They nest in Time. They make the flesh that holds fast and binds eternity. They live inside the gift, know power, accept, and need not mention it. Why speak of time when you are Time, and shape the universal moments, as they pass, into warmth and action?

Incredibly, the 13-year old sits through this without a hint of an eye roll. If this type of overripe nonsense is your thing, this novel has plenty more to savor.

In conclusion, I am a terrible man for dissing a nonagenarian’s work. But that’s nothing compared to Stephen King, who has accused it for inspiring some of his novels.

Writer: Ray Bradbury
Rating: 1.25/5

Audition

Audition Review

Evil prankster Takashi Miike wants sole rights to your nightmares with this film. It’s based on a novel by Ryu Murakami, the one who did not write Norwegian Wood. The first half of the film unfolds gracefully and may even remind you of your favorite Murakami. Aoyama (Ryo Ishibashi) is a lonely widower living with his teenage son. He runs a film production house with his friend Yoshikawa. His son urges him to find a new wife and agreeing wholeheartedly Yoshikawa persuades him to set up a fake screen test to find a demure obedient wife. Many applicants and insulting questions later, their talent search ends when Aoyama meets a former ballet dancer, Asami (Eihi Shiina). One of the film’s neatest tricks is to convince you of Aoyama’s nice guy-ness. Even when he casually discards his house keeper/bed warmer for the prettier new model, he makes it look less scummy than it really is.

Everything seems to be going nicely and Aoyama is all set to begin a new life with Asami. Miike fills the edges with a sense of impending dread and drops in some truly creepy scenes, so you know it’s going to get dark — and yet that knowledge will not stop you from getting knocked out silly by the dynamite third act.

Fun Fact: Miike has denied that the film is meant as social criticism.

Director: Taakashi Miike
Rating: 5/5

Inside (À l’intérieur)

À l'intérieur Review

This home invasion film features a very pregnant Sarah (Alysson Paradis) and a scissors-wielding La Femme (a very scary Béatrice Dalle) who wants to cut out the baby for herself. Sarah doesn’t care for this alternative birthing method and locks herself in the bathroom. La Femme spends the waiting period by redecorating the home with blood and body parts of the hapless visitors. And then, things kick in high gear.

If you are a gorehound, this is the movie for you. Even if you aren’t, you may want to stick around for the first half. It will show you Alexandre Bustillo and Julien Maury’s gift for creating unbearably tense moments.

Directors: Alexandre Bustillo and Julien Maury
Rating: 3.5 / 5

Fright Night (1985 and 2011)

The 1985 Fright Night was a mildly enjoyable horror-comedy. Charley is a horror-obsessed teen living with his mom in their suburban home. Their new neighbor (Chris Sarandon) turns out to be a vampire. The kid gets rid of him with some help from an aging horror show host.

Back then vampires were evil players like Chris Sarandon, who could spit and bite a mean game. In 2011, vampires are sparkly creeps who could all use corrective steaks through their emo hearts.The best part of the remake is watching Colin Farrell return this endangered beast to its former glory.

Screenwriter Marti Noxon and director Craig Gillespie keep what worked in the original and give a slick update to everything else. The new version is set in Vegas. The horror show host is now an illusionist. As Charley’s friend, Christopher Mintz-Plasse gets to add some interesting shades to his well-liked nerd. The fun begins with the brilliant opening credits (Prologue Films) and keeps getting better with 3D blood, digs at vampire lore and a Chris Sarandon cameo.

Original
Director: Tom Holland
Rating: 2.5/5

Remake
Director: Craig Gillespie
Rating: 3.25/5

Hard Candy

Hard Candy Review

14-year old Hayley (Ellen Page, impressive as always) agrees to meet 32-year old Jeff after a flirty online exchange. She is a hyper-literate child who reads everything from Jean Seberg biography to thick medical books. He is the kind of creep who wants to hook up with her. Their first meeting is far more disturbing than the bloody torture that follows it. Hayley is angry at the world that lets people like Polanski get way with their crimes. Her creators could use some pointers from his Death and a Maiden.

Director: David Slade
Rating: 2.5/5