Friday morning has rolled around once again, and if I had thought that previous weeks were indicating an increase in the amount of press releases coming out of Hollywood, this week’s the mother lode. Even with the usual caveat that there are things I miss or overlook or just don’t attribute any significance to, there’s a lot. In fact, there are just shy of two dozen news items this week.
Sheer volume indicates at least some of it should catch your interest, so let’s get to it, shall we? Continue reading →
Promotional material for Equilibrium, be it movie posters or the DVD case, seems to frequently feature quotes from reviewers comparing it favorably to The Matrix. It’s an apt comparison, as anybody who has seen both films will recognize certainly similarities. Like The Matrix, Equilibrium is a science-fiction film set in a subtle dystopia. Like The Matrix, it’s a film that relies heavily on action and style, a style which indeed bears a more-than-passing resemblance to its predecessor (one wonders if the Wachowskis told director Kurt Wimmer where to shop). Like The Matrix, it features a large dose of philosophy and thinks it’s a lot smarter than it actually is. And like The Matrix, this pseudo-intellectualism doesn’t actually hurt it much.
Equilibrium is set after mankind has recovered from the third world war, in the city-state of Libria. The ruling government of Libria (we never see any hints of whether the rest of the world still exists) have decided that all war and conflict have their roots in jealousy, greed, and anger. To curb global and domestic violence, they have decided to eliminate the problem at its source: human emotion. The people of Libria are dosed daily with a drug that inhibits their emotional reactions. Anything which can provoke a strong emotional reaction — such as art, poetry, and music — is banned. Special agents called Grammaton Clerics are sent out to the fringes of the city to eliminate any uprisings and resistance that try to preserve these cultural items. Continue reading →
The Big Empty is a difficult film to describe. Released to film festivals in 2003, it doesn’t seem to have gotten a wide release. It was written and directed by Steve Anderson, his first credit for either job, and very nearly his only credit; he has written a couple of films since, and directed a documentary on the F word. For his directorial debut, he did a very good job; he has several familiar actors who all turn in solid or great performances, and the film is filled with some very good shots. The film looks great, and the way the film emphasizes the isolation of the setting helps sell the strangeness of the many characters that inhabit it.
The film stars Jon Favreau, who has become known as a director himself. He plays struggling actor John Person — a stage name — and has a constant look of bewildered confusion on his face, even when he’s blending it with anger, or tenderness, or desperation. This is perfectly fitting with the movie, as while The Big Empty is listed as a comedy on IMDb and other sites, it’s not so much funny “ha ha” as it is funny weird. Continue reading →
Since I’m trying to pepper my October movie viewings with the occasional horror film, trying to find a good one, I decided to include some relatively recent efforts in the mix. After all, while they’re unlikely to have the cheesy charm of the older ones, maybe some of the cinematic advances over the years would help them out in other ways. So I decided to add 2006′s Silent Hill to my viewing queue when Hulu recommended it. (I forgot to see why it was making the recommendation, and I’m not sure I want to know. This is the same service that recommended David Spade’s Black Sheep when it saw I really liked the Civil War drama Glory.)
Silent Hill is inspired by the series of survival-horror video games by the same name. Although “based on a video game” sets pretty big alarm bells to ringing, especially when I haven’t even been interested in the game, I had to grant that the series is very popular, and has a reputation for being genuinely frightening, so it might very well be a good source of inspiration for a horror film. And though I had to wonder how much it was being skewed by die-hard fans of the game, the viewer scores for this film were reasonably high on Hulu. Plus, it stars Sean Bean, who did a pretty good job as Boromir in The Lord of the Rings. That had to be a hopeful sign, right?