You’ll never guess Countess Dracula’s ONE WEIRD TRICK to look younger!

Countess ScreenThe iconic imagery of Hammer Films usually involves Peter Cushing’s Van Helsing driving a stake through (or otherwise murdering) Christopher Lee’s Dracula. The pair made three vampire films together at the studio (and each one several without the other), and indeed these films define one of the most beloved runs in horror movie history.

But while Hammer is rightfully known for vampire films with Lee and Cushing, neither actor appears in Hammer’s best vampire film, and neither do vampires. In 1971, Peter Sasdy turned the historical legend of Elizabeth Báthory into a gothic tragedy rife with the heavy bloodletting and bare breasts that had increasingly marked the studio’s output since the late 60’s, the great Countess Dracula. Continue reading

Pedro Almodóvar and the Dramatic Advantages of Universal Empathy

Pedro Almodóvar’s movies do not have villains. This in itself is not unique, especially in global cinema.

The Skin I Live In

Pedro Almodóvar with Elena Anaya shooting THE SKIN I LIVE IN

But Pedro Almodóvar movies should have villains.  He fills them beyond the brim with kidnapping, rape, attempted rape, and unnatural death, all somehow perpetrated by characters who, even if we don’t outright love them, at least compel our sympathetic interest. Continue reading

Everybody’s Got a Secret, Sonny: The Year in Film Noir

Side Effects

When Steven Soderbergh released ‘Side Effects’ on February 8th, 2013, most of the critical and journalistic chatter surrounded his retirement from theatrical cinema more than the actual film that he went out with.  Publicly, ‘Side Effects’ confused people because no one really knew what the hell it was. The trailers showed some kind of drama with Rooney Mara and Channing Tatum, basically untested young stars of modest hits that had little to do with their names, some talk about prescription medication, and Jude Law hanging out being Jude Law. Not a major box office draw.

But the marketing for ‘Side Effects’ was a bit of sleight of hand, as the movie only starts revealing its true nature about half way through. Which is unfortunate, because it would not hurt one’s enjoyment of the film to know going in that it’s a lean, nasty, twisty film noir that would slap a smirk on the mouth of ol’ James Cain himself. It’s terrific, one of the best February releases that I’ve seen, and the first of the handful of great, (mostly) under-appreciated gems that make up 2013’s film noir revival. Continue reading

It’s always later than you think, Counselor

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‘The Counselor’ is Ridley Scott’s best movie since 2003, when he last dove into film noir with ‘Matchstick Men.’ And while that film packed a gut punch unsuggested by its breezy marketing, it did not even approach the depths of noir that this new one hits.

Cormac McCarthy wrote ‘The Counselor,’ a screenplay which seems inspired by the philosophical thriller treatment that the Coen brothers gave his novel in their awesome ‘No Country For Old Men.’  It thrills less and talks more, but it shares an alternating pattern of horrific violence and metaphysical discussion. And it works. Continue reading

Dude is Good: The David Gordon Green Story

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Critics have made a lot of David Gordon Green’s alleged descent from Malick-esque indie poet to studio comedy hack, and his subsequent “return to form” with this summer’s ‘Prince Avalanche.’ It’s a narrative addressed in nearly every review of that new release; how Green seemed to have squandered the talent he showed with subtle dramas ‘George Washington’ and ‘All the Real Girls’ by joining school friend (and ‘All the Real Girls’ actor) Danny McBride in the Apatowian world of crass Hollywood comedy. Continue reading

Make Your Weekend Great: Crawl to The World’s End

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In Edgar Wright’s ‘The World’s End,’ five friends who reunite in an attempt to top their epic pub crawl from 20 years earlier unwittingly become humankind’s only hope for survival.

THE WORLD’S END is a great movie. Hilarious, heartfelt, brilliant, action packed.  It’s everything we go to the movies for.

It’s a great audience movie. It’s also a great drinking movie. Therefor, it’s a great movie to see with an audience after sharing some cold (or warm) ones with some friends. I imagine, once it hits home video, that it will become the centerpiece of many grand drinking games.

But the amazing thing about The World’s End is that it’s playing in thousands of theaters around the world, most likely one near you, right now. You can take advantage of that awesome fact this weekend and MAKE YOUR LIFE BETTER at the same time.

Follow these steps:

1. Locate a neighborhood in your town or city with a heavy concentration of bars and pubs.

2. Find this neighborhood’s local movie theater, which, more likely than not, is showing THE WORLD’S END this weekend.

3. Pick one of the pubs in said neighborhood, preferably located 10-20 minutes by foot from the movie theater, ideally with 3-11 pubs in between.

4. Do not drive, but find a way to go, with all your friends, to above pub. Have a drink. And walk to the next pub.

5. Repeat step 4 until, like the characters in the film, you reach THE WORLD’S END.

6. Watch THE WORLD’S END and have a fucking blast.

7. Repeat 1-6 next weekend.

This process is guaranteed, without fail, to lead to the most fun night you’ve had in a long time. A fortunate side effect or your actions will be your support of terrific movie making and terrific local establishments.