Movie News

The number one question I received this week (narrowly beating out the former champion "What's for dinner?") was "Are you going to see The Mist?" They were referring to the adaptation of the Stephen King story of the same name. I think given my strong favorable reaction to the film version of 1408 the natural assumption was that I would be there with bells on. Oddly I have very little desire to see this particular film, possibly because I didn't like the ending of the story. While an adaptation isn't necessarily going to have the same ending as its source material I just don't feel like taking any chances. If there was anyone in the cast that particularly appealed to me I'd risk it and go but I think this one is going to have wait to come on cable before I watch. Which brings us to the second most popular entertainment question of the week.

Did I like Beowulf? I went to see the 3D version, which was kind of a gamble for me because I'm prone to headaches. I was worried that I would either have to leave partway through or I'd have a rip-snorting headache by the end of the film. Thankfully nothing like that happened and I was able to thoroughly enjoy the film, especially Beowulf's braggadocio, which brings us to the next question; "What was my favorite part of Beowulf?" I particularly liked two parts, a reenactment of Beowulf's fight with Grendel that we see towards the end of the film, and the dramatization of his description of his five day swimming race that culminates in a fight with sea serpents. The battle is both exciting and hilarious, although that may be a reflection of my own personal peculiarities. The final Beowulf question was "How did Angelina Jolie look?" She looked incredibly beautiful. Is it physically possible for her to look any other way? I'm not convinced.

In other news I watched the director's cut of 1408 this past week with my youngest son, who had been traveling when I saw it in the theaters. I was astonished to discover that it had a very different ending than the theatrical release so you may want to check it out even if you've seen the original. There is one image that gives me the shivers just remembering it. Thanks director!

With Thanksgiving comes the full out holiday season, which means you have two choices when it comes to Christmas movies. You can watch the jolly ones about feuding neighbors who eventually discover the true spirit of Christmas and any of the Santa and his various dysfunctional family/relationships that have been popular in the last few years or you can watch scary films, in the great tradition of ghost stories on Christmas Eve. (Remember A Christmas Carol? Chock full of ghosts.)

This year I'm looking forward to the scary films. Christmas 2007 is going to bring us Sweeny Todd The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, an adaptation of Hugh Wheeler and Stephen Sondheim's Tony Award winning musical of the same name. In this version the murderous Sweeny Todd is portrayed by Johnny Depp, looking oddly like the Edward Scissorhands character that he played so well. Except you know, no scissors, just a straight razor, which I suppose, can be just as deadly to a waterbed. Sweeny Todd has fascinated audiences since his first appearance in a penny dreadful back in 1846. I was hoping to find the actual story for you online but was only able to find this blog that recounts the author's surprise encounter with the original piece and has some images that you might find interesting.

The basic story revolves around revenge and murder, two excellent plot devices when used properly, with the added surprise of unwitting cannibalization. Sweeny Todd kills his enemies and gives the bodies to his partner, who puts them in her meat pies and sells them to hungry people. And they say crime doesn't pay.

Helena Bonham Carter, who is the master of creepy characters, plays Sweeny Todd's partner. (Are you watching this season's Dexter? Does Lila remind you of Helena Bonham Carter's character in Fight Club? She did such a terrific job in that role that all crazy people who go to support groups will forever remind me of her.) But can she sing? I guess we’ll have to find out.

The movie, directed by Tim Burton, opens on December 25th and you can access the trailer here. If you leave the site open on your computer you can also enjoy the jolly Christmas music. And by jolly I mean sinister and by Christmas I mean suitable for a chase scene.

Three days after Christmas The Orphanage opens. Directed by Juan Antonio Bayona and produced by Guillermo del Toro (Pan's Labyrinth) The Orphanage is the story of what happens when Laura, who used to live at the orphanage, returns many years later with her husband and son Simon. Laura's plans to turn the building into a home for children are interrupted when her son starts playing with some children that might be imaginary or might be real. Then Simon vanishes and Laura's world becomes very dark and sinister.

I can't wait to see this film. Everyone that I've heard from says it's incredibly scary, original and surprising. Just the images on the website give me the heebie-jeebies. If you don't see anything scary when you first get to the site, scroll over to the right. Be prepared to shut your eyes and hide. You can watch the trailer and see for yourself here.

One-Paragraph Review

This week's one-paragraph review is from Guru who reviews the 1999 film Magnolia, saying, "An extremely powerful drama that tells several interconnected stories. The ensemble cast is remarkable with Julianne Moore, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Tom Cruise all turning in commanding performances. Cruise is especially good as the snake oil salesman who teaches men things like "How to fake like you are nice and caring." Have you got a one-paragraph (or smaller) review you'd like to share? Send it in to me and I'll run the most interesting ones. You can reach me at