Why William Friedkin Was Wrong About Wes Craven

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For my money William Friedkin is one of the most talented directors working today.  Not everything he does clicks (with the public or box office-wise, for that matter) but as far as I am concerned he’s made one of the best crime thrillers in recent memory with 1985’s To Live And Die In L.A.  Some might suggest that I am crazy, and bring up 1971’s The French Connection, but for my money To Live And Die In L.A., with its combination of a talented director, an outstanding cast and great music hit all the right notes.

Interestingly enough, Friedkin also directed one of the best horror movies, The Exorcist, ever put on celluloid.

And while the movies that Wes Craven created, particularly A Nightmare On Elm Street, managed to tap into The zeitgeist in a way few other films have done besides being visually interesting, though more often then not his movies were products of the time that they were made; which is another way of saying that they don’t age particularly well.

If in doubt check out Craven’s The Hills Have Eyes.  While the idea of cannibalistic mutants preying on hapless tourists is always potentially interesting, the movie has not aged well (though Alexandre Aja’s 2006 remake…pretty good, almost brilliantly so).

Let’s contrast that with the The Exorcist.  It’s not only one of the scariest horror movies ever made–I think that Craven’s The Snake And The Rainbow was probably his most effective movie as far as terror goes though it doesn’t have the single-mindedness of Friedkin’s classic.

I also had the feeling that Craven was a horror director less because he actually wanted to do it, that it was a niche that he  happened to fall into (which isn’t an insult by any means.  John Carpenter did some groundbreaking horror films, though recognized, and at times seem embittered by the fact, that it limited his ability to move into other types of filmmaking).

So, while Craven was known as a maker of horror films, it never really felt to me that he committed to the genre to the degree that other directors, such as Carpenter (or even Friedkin himself) have demonstrated.

So Wes Craven will always be known for the horrors that he helped to bring to grisly life, though I am not at all sure that that’s what he would have wanted.

The Visual Effects of Marvel’s Daredevil

Daredevil openingWatching Netflix’s Daredevil, you’d probably be surprised to learn that a lot of the scenes that you thought were practical were actually digital.  For instance, the scene where Daredevil jumps from a window into the Hudson River?  Digital.

The fight between the titular hero and the red ninja in episode 9 – “Speak of the Devil“?  A lot of that was CGI as well (particularly Daredevil’s wounds and blood spatter).

I tend to be on the lookout for such things, yet I didn’t notice any of it which is a good reminder that CGI can be unobtrusive as well as bombastic.

Click here for an interview with Bryan Godwin, CEO and Executive VFX Supervisor for Shade VFX, the company that provided all the visual effects for Netflix’s Daredevil.

And Because No One Asked, Here’s More Fantastic Four Reviews…

More reviews of Fantastic Four are in, and if they have one thing in common, it’s that that they think that Josh Trank’s movie is pretty mediocre.

What’s going to save this movie, if anything, it’s that the budget is, relatively speaking, small (somewhere in the ballpark of $120 million).

According to Alan Scherstuhl at The Village Voice, “The model here isn’t adventure pulp. It’s dystopian Y.A., junked up with scenes of medical horror too scary for kids and too unpleasant to be enjoyed by anyone.”  It also goes without saying that if someone asks about your comic-based movie, “Where they fail the Four, again, is in their paucity of imagination,” you’re in trouble.

And I looked at more comic-friendly websites for a good word or two, though that wasn’t to be found by Kathy Pushko at ComicbookResourses.com, who said that the Fantastic Four script is  “…filled with these tendrils of ideas, left dangling and unable to come together in any semblance of making sense.

Fantastic Four Review- The Schmoes Knows

It’s your money, but based on reviews exclusively, I’d say wait for cable.

And, yeah, I really want the Fantastic Four returned to Marvel Studios, where they understand that superhero movies don’t need to be quite so serious all the time.

Fantastic Four Reviews Have Begun Trickling In…

Fantastic Four reviews have begun trickling in, and if they’re any indicator, the movie is in trouble.

Todd McCarthy at The Hollywood Reporter says that Fantastic Four “offers glimmers of good things to come in its final moments, but only after the audience has slogged through yet another dispiriting origin story and yet another Earth-rescuing battle in a bland, CG-created nowhere land…

Alonso Duralde of The Wrap begins his review with, ” A sense of heaviness, gloom and complete disappointment settles in during the second half…

And that’s the first line of Duralde’s review, so it’s pretty easy to see where he’s going from there.

That being said. you shouldn’t judge whether or not you see a movie based on what someone else thinks about it, though it’s worth taking into account when you’re deciding what movie to see this weekend.

I expect that the hard core comic geeks will turn out, but don’t be surprised if, like the Human Torch, Fantastic Four flares brightly, then quickly vanishes from the box office.

A Reason I Don’t Take Hollywood’s Complains About Piracy Too Seriously

Every once in awhile I write about how lazy Hollywood seems as far as movie piracy goes, and this seems to prove it.

I was looking for a trailer for the upcoming Western horror movie, Bone Tomahawk, on YouTube when I found a link to ‘Watch HD Full Movie.

Now keep in mind I wasn’t even looking; imagine what I could have located it I actually put forward a bit of effort.

The site–which I didn’t join–shows posters for Minions (which is currently in theaters), Fantastic Four (which isn’t), as well as Jurassic World and Magic Mike XXL.

And while there’s probably isn’t any more money that Jurassic World can gain that it doesn’t already have, it’s still a bit problematic.

I get the feeling that if Hollywood spent less time trying to impose technologies like Ultraviolet on people, and spent more going after seemingly low-hanging fruit, like ‘Watch HD Full Movie,’ then life would be easier for everyone.

Can We Stop Fetishizing Black And White Movies?

I will admit that some movies look better in black and white than color.  It’s often striking how the contrast between light and dark can create a sense of tension, of drama.

I was going to watch A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night when I noticed that it was shot in black and white, and I almost immediately lost interest (I haven’t watched it yet, though I will at some point) because what also tends to come with a lack of color is an odd sort of snobbery, as if just by being made in black and white it’s somehow elevated.

Which is tiring because, let’s be honest, the only reason that there’s black and white anything is because color had not been invented yet.  If it had, black and white movies and television would probably be relegated to boutique and prestige-type projects (which is oddly ironic because that’s for the most part how it’s used these days.

Two of my favorite movies, Twelve Angry Men, and Anatomy Of A Murder are done in black and white, and they’re both gorgeous.  That being said, if they were originally made in color would that somehow lessen their impact?  Would E.G. Marshall, Henry Fonda or James Stewart’s performances somehow be diminished because of it?

I’d doubt it (though that’s not to say that we should go back and colorize movies because that typically looks odd, particularly flesh tones, which often look garish).

Besides, there’s one important reason why color came into dominance, namely its the way people actually see (for the most part).

By way of analogy, it’s as if you had a choice between an ice-cold Heineken and a ice-cold Old Milwaukee, and you decide to go with the latter.

Which is a valid choice, but also one I have absolutely no understanding of.

Old Milwaukee beer

Friends don’t let friends drink pretty bad beer.

Tom Cruise: Going Boldly

You know what?  I honestly think that Tom Cruise is a bit of a nut, and the feeling of well-being he often attributes to his faith are more than likely the insulating effects of money and influence.

That been said, you have to give the guy credit because most any other actor–with the possible exception of Jason Statham–would have either let the stuntman handle the dangerous stuff, or rely on CGI to get the job done.

And in some instances I am reasonably safe in saying that he does just that.  Yet, as the video shows, Cruise is hanging from the door of an airplane that’s in the process of taking off.  Now keep in mind that he’s tethered to a safety line, which will be digitally removed–but it’s an awfully thin one–and that if the stunt were to go in any way pear-shaped the likelihood is high he would be killed.

Though the likelihood that he would fall was probably pretty remote, but doesn’t change how absolutely terrifying what he’s doing feels for me watching it, never mind having to do it.