Kathryn Bigelow's sophomore effort, Near Dark, removes the Gothic mystique around vampires and puts them into the grungy west. Caleb, out for a bit of action, thinks that he's hit the perfect mark when he connects with Mae. Instead, she gives him pleasure he didn't expect and can't handle when he's indoctrinated into a nomadic vampire band.
Kyle, I type with no hesitation that today's film is the most interesting point in Kathryn Bigelow's career. Near Dark is my favorite vampire film of all time, beating out the likes of Nosferatu and Let The Right One In. So before any further I'm dying to know your reaction to the movie.I really liked it. I probably wouldn't go as far as to say it's my favorite of all time, but I also can't pull any immediate contenders for that spot off the top of my head. I think the most impressive thing to me was how condensed the timeline is that we're dealing with — the majority of the movie feels very claustrophobic and doom-ridden. And that gets worse over time. The fact that we don't get any time to break and deal with the main character assimilating to his new situation, and that the night just wears on and on for the most part, makes it seem like we're embarking on some (and I realize this is unintentionally mentioning a film from last week again) Blue Velvet-esque nightmare odyssey that has to be minutes away from ending in disaster.
The irony is the crew Caleb falls in with—led by Lance Henriksen as some kind of Charles-Manson-possessing-Lou-
Whatever germ of a good idea existed in the films of the extended Marvel universe has been completely extinguished with Thor: The Dark World. The writing was on the wall with the nonsensical plot-line and retread themes of Iron Man 3 and the drab disappointment of The Avengers, but those films had the luxuries of Robert Downey Jr. in front of the camera with Shane Black and Joss Whedon behind. They may have been dull, but at least they came with the odd chuckle now and again.
The Dark World does not have that luxury and is the Marvel equivalent of Green Lantern, a soulless and drab film that aims for the lowest hurdle of storytelling and still can’t clear the mark. It’s gross and general critical response is proof that the audience for these films isn’t interested in any kind of quality entertainment or evolving story. Instead they are empty reassurances that the characters they watched in better films still exist and will be back in the future. They’re feature-length Skinner Boxes with diminishing returns, and I have to wonder when people will stop consuming this empty nourishment and move elsewhere.
The film starts sometime before the events of Thor and after the events of The Avengers. Anthony Hopkins’ voice gives the details of a race of Dark Elves that did battle with Asgard and hoped to harness an ultimate weapon to destroy their rivals. Already the basis of this plot has elements appeared in Iron Man 2, The Incredible Hulk, The Avengers, and also the upcoming Guardians of the Universe. It’s no wonder the heroes of The Dark World seem bored as the Dark Elves managed to harness but one of hundreds of devastating weapons – what’s one more to add to the mix?
"I suppose it is possible that one day we will meet again and it will feel as if nothing ever happened between us. This seems unimaginable, but the fact is that it happens all the time. 'No whiteness (lost) is so white as the memory / of whiteness,' wrote Williams. But one can lose the memory of whiteness too."
Maggie Nelson - Bluets
We lose eternity the first time we fall out of love. Those new sensations, physical and otherwise, that threaten to overwhelm our daily routines go into overdrive until suddenly there is nothing there but them. The songs, smells, and pleasures stretch seconds into years and we lose ourselves. That's why the decay, the eventual realization that this feeling is routine, hurts so badly. We are not permanent, these sensations don't last, and eventually we realize that routines can be abandoned, and forever ends - just like that.
I lost myself in Blue Is the Warmest Color, a film dedicated to the physical connections and mental betrayals that form and decay the love between Adèle (Adèle Exarchopoulos) and Emma (Léa Seydoux). We never leave Adèle's side as director Abdellatif Kechiche takes us through years of her life, skimming the surface of her dreams, and focusing on the connections that form the core of her being.
It's a rare film - a romance told with zero concerns about being overly sentimental and blown up to an epic length. I've seen romances that take place within epic-sized events, such as The English Patient or Gone With the Wind, but not even the intimacy and eroticism of a film like The Unbearable Lightness of Being comes close to touching the open nerves of Blue Is the Warmest Color. Kechiche realizes that the core of this lost romance, that emptiness that it leaves, is all the film needs and hones in on that sensation with startling accuracy.
The collective groan that greeted the trailer for Spike Lee's retelling of Oldboy amused me. A few decades ago it would be unlikely that many people in the general population would have known that the film is a remake of the great Korean film of the same name. Instead we would have watched the trailer, possibly been intrigued by the scenario, and wondered what a stylist and social-conscious director like Lee would have done with the material. Now everyone gets to cry foul about Hollywood running out of ideas and people nurse imagined wounds about their favored product getting ruined.
Now that I've watched Lee's take on Oldboy, I am left with a few thoughts. Most of them are positive, as Lee managed to successfully convert the culturally specific taste of the original film into something that Americans can consume. But with that success comes an important question about adaptations since Park Chan-wook's original story was itself an adaptation of the manga. Is this version of Oldboy needed when there's a perfectly good one barely a decade old?
I have a hard time saying no, because there's not enough different with this version of Oldboy to completely justify its existence. I still enjoyed myself, and there's an awful lot of skill in the performances Lee coaxes from the players as well as his own twists to the material. But this is one I can only recommend to those unfamiliar with the source material and looking for a sadistic time with a movie, or for the ones who withstood any cynicism about the remake and are still curious. It's a small cross-section of the movie-viewing population, but they're likely to be pleased in the same way I was.
The Oscars have wrapped up and it's time to face the fallow period between holiday awards and summer blockbusters. This means continuing on our projects, picking at new DVD releases, and finding new ways to engage in cinema.
Look forward to reviews of Spike Lee's Oldboy, Blue is the Warmest Color, and Thor: The Dark World topped off by Kyle and Andrew's look at Kathryn Bigelow's Near Dark this week. The 300 prequel, reboot of Mr. Peabody and Sherman, and Wes Anderson's The Grand Budapest Hotel are all in theaters this weekend.