The Sound of Silence. . . Almost
A striking picture from a unique moment in Hollywood history, Pál Fejös’ 1928 romantic drama Lonesome found itself one of the first transitional films between the silent and sound/talkie era. Originally developed as a Universal silent feature by the Hungarian filmmaker (Fejös, a Renaissance man, was also a doctor, World War 1 medic, anthropologist and explorer), in post-production it was decided that three dialogue scenes would be added – to appease audiences who desired the new effect following The Jazz Singer craze. A short transitional period of about two years followed, as filmmakers and studios began to adapt to the changing world of sound, adding touches of dialogue into their silent pictures.
It’s funny. As I chatted with my cousin while on the way to see Logan, I mentioned one of the most frustrating aspects of comic book movies – that it is somehow expected that the newest effort has to outdo the previous one, which is then interpreted by going bigger in the realm of special effects and mind-numbing final battles that end up feeling more than ludicrous (even for a sci fi fantasy). That is why I was so pleasantly surprised by James Mangold’s 2017 offering; a more personal, pared down feature that, at its heart, is about learning to live with your past, as well as recovery and redemption. Taking a page from the popularity of last year’s Deadpool, Logan does not hold back in the realm of violence, profanity, and one small moment of nudity. Set approximately a decade into the future, the opening shot may be jarring to some fans of the X-Men franchise. When we first see Hugh Jackman’s titular character – his big, bushy beard (not the perfectly trimmed mutton chops) and hair flecked with grey, it is an aged Wolverine like we have never seen. He more closely resembles a modern day Mel Gibson (perhaps after a lengthy bender) than the regenerative, sarcastic being we know and love. He is haggard, depressed and has lost a step. . . maybe even two. It is a world that has not seen the birth of a mutant in quite some time, and these gifted individuals are dying out.
The Mother! of All Mothers
You may be wondering why I am writing about Mother!, Darren Aronofsky’s new horror film, as a blog post and not as a review. A complex piece of cinema that is both rewarding and frustrating, it is something I cannot wholly recommend for viewing – a must for me. To many viewers, it will likely feel like the exclamation point should be replaced by a question mark. . . perhaps several. Likely to leave many audience members baffled, it is still important to understand the basis for the story, as well as the text, subtext, and sub-subtext that makes the tale so seeped in allegory. This will hopefully provide brave cinephiles with a guidepost that will enlighten them to Aronofsky’s vision, whether they walk away from it with one viewpoint or another, loving or loathing it.
An Ace Venture
One of those films that was not treated overly well by critics but is beloved by fans the world over, Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, shot lead Jim Carrey, then known to people mostly for being on In Living Color, into another stratosphere. The year 1994 was a good one for the comic and actor, as this film was followed soon after by The Mask and Dumb & Dumber, further adding to his meteoric rise. The next three years would further cement him as a true comic talent, as roles in Batman Forever, Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls, The Cable Guy and Liar Liar continuously hit viewers’ funny bones. Though, it was the character of Ace Ventura, which was co-written by Carrey, along with Jack Bernstein and Tom Shadyac (who also directed, and would work again with the actor in Liar Liar and Bruce Almighty), that first demonstrated his skills at physical comedy, mimicry, comedic timing and coining memorable catch phrases to be enjoyed by silver screen audiences.
Are You Afraid of the Dark?
A wonderful feel-good story, Swedish director Davis F. Sandberg, now known for his 2016 full length feature debut Lights Out and the currently-in-theatres horror prequel Annabelle: Creation, started as an animator and documentary/short filmmaker. In a dangerous amount of debt back in 2013, he wrote and directed a short film titled, perhaps you’ve guessed it, Lights Out. Released at the Bloody Cuts Horror Challenge Film Festival, it made it to the finals, and won Sandberg the Best Director award. Then, the power of the Internet kicked in, and Lights Out shot from thousands of views to millions – and Hollywood higher ups came scrambling. The man, formerly in financial difficulties, has now become a name to watch in this recent renaissance of the horror genre out of Tinseltown.
A Penny For Your Tots
It’s funny how the brain works. As I sat waiting for Andy Muschietti’s It to project onto the screen, I thought of what a disappointment it would be for the crowd if they had misconstrued the title – in for an unwelcome surprise as “I.T.”, the story of an ordinary Information Technology guy who struggles with work on a daily basis, popped up onscreen instead. Thankfully, that was not the case. It is very much a two-pronged film; a coming of age dramedy and a horror flick, the former works extremely well, the latter falls more into the average range. Set in the late 1980s, the town of Derry, Maine (Port Hope, Ontario a perfect stand-in the for the quaint locale that holds multiple mysteries) has six times the national average when it comes to disappearances and murders.