Posts Tagged ‘Guy Pearce’

‘Dark’ remake an all-too-familiar creature feature

Saturday, August 27th, 2011
Bailee Madison in "Don't Be Afraid of the Dark" In “Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark,” Sally (Bailee Madison) takes a bath as ancient creatures assault her.

Weirdly enough, the scariest made-for-TV movies ever created come from the 1970s:

1. “The Night Stalker” (1972), with Darren McGavin as a sartorially challenged reporter on the trail of a serial killer he starts to think could be a vampire. It inspired an uninspired sequel (“The Night Strangler”) and a Chicago-based TV series, a precursor of “The X-Files.”

2. “Trilogy of Terror” (1975), a failed TV series pilot starring Karen Black as four characters in three short stories from genre genius Richard Matheson. Forget the first two segments. The last one, “Amelia,” is the classic in which Black’s apartment dweller struggles to survive an attack from a warrior doll.

3. “Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark,” a 1973 thriller that “Pan’s Labyrinth” director Guillermo del Toro thought was so scary when was 9 years old that he grew up to rewrite it and produce it as a theatrical feature starring Guy Pearce and Katie Holmes.

And here it is, director Troy Nixey’s “Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark” starring Bailee Madison as a little girl who moves into in an old dark house with something evil in the basement.

It’s standard-issue, potboiler plotting, all about Sally (the appealingly realistic Madison), who has no idea there are worse things in the world than having terrible, self-absorbed parents. (Read more…)

‘King’s Speech’ a rich, royal treat

Saturday, December 18th, 2010
Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush in "The King's Speech" King George VI (Colin Firth) reluctantly takes advice from an Australian speech therapist (Geoffrey Rush) to fix his stutter in the fact-based drama “The King’s Speech.”

Tom Hooper’s “The King’s Speech” is about many things, but mostly it’s about an insecure man who racks up the courage to put aside his pride to simply ask another man for help.

And for that difficult act of humility, he is rewarded with a nation’s gratitude, and perhaps more important, a lifetime of friendship.

This fact-based drama features two of the best, most fully realized film performances of the year by Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush, backed up by David Seidler’s crisp and witty screenplay, Alexandre Desplat’s evocative score and an amazing movie set that’s not really a movie set at all, but an actual London apartment discovered by production designer Eve Stewart.

“The King’s Speech” details the unusual relationship that developed between England’s King George VI and an Australian speech therapist named Lionel Logue.

Early on, King George V (erstwhile Harry Potter professor Michael Gambon) underscores the importance of public speaking as a monarch, particularly when using high-tech radio to speak to the masses in the 1930s.

His son, Prince Albert, the Duke of York (Firth), lives in terror of public speaking because of a terrible stammer that has afflicted him since childhood.

He doesn’t worry too much about rallying people with his words. His older brother Prince Edward (the chameleonic Guy Pearce) is the heir to the throne, and he’s never at a loss for things to say.

But we already know about Edward, don’t we? The king who threw away his crown so he could marry his true, divorced love, a commoner an action that would put his brother on the throne? (Read more…)

‘Animal Kingdom’ a stark drama reeking of realism

Thursday, August 19th, 2010
James Frecheville and Jacki Weaver in "Animal Kingdom" After his mother’s death, Josh (James Frecheville, left) goes to live with his grandmother (Jacki Weaver) and gets sucked into his criminal family’s violent world in “Animal Kingdom.”

The title “Animal Kingdom” sounds like a film about survival of the fittest. And it is, except the animals are a dysfunctional family of Australian criminals in Melbourne who suck a quiet young lad named Josh (James Frecheville) into their world.

David Michod’s impressive, assured Aussie gangster drama begins with Josh sitting next to his mum, dying of a heroin overdose. He can’t quite focus on her because the exciting game show on the TV distracts him.

He eventually goes to live with his grandma Smurf (Jacki Weaver), the queen of criminal enablers whose three sons dabble in everything from drugs to robbery and murder.

“Animal Kingdom” is a stark drama reeking of toxic realism. Josh remains a chilling blank slate, and he is unable to guess the danger he’s in, or the danger he puts his new girlfriend (Laura Wheelright) in just by dating her. (Read more…)

Post-apocalyptical ‘The Road’ leads down one bleak path

Saturday, December 12th, 2009
Viggo Mortensen and Kodi Smit-McPhee in "The Road" A father (Viggo Mortensen) defends his son (Kodi Smit-McPhee) from marauding cannibals in “The Road.”

A bleak and barren tale of a post-Apocalyptical world where bands of cannibals hunt down, kill and digest their own kind, “The Road” leads to a hollow and laughable ending that so desperately wants to be sweet, it’s sickening.

I have no idea exactly how Cormac McCarthy’s 2006 futuristic novel “The Road” ended, but John “The Proposition” Hillcoat’s dreary drama wants us to believe that even as the world is dying, the nuclear family unit can still be a happy one.

The cannibals are far more believable.

Viggo Mortensen stars as an unnamed father and husband who has two bullets in a revolver. He is taking his young unnamed son (Kodi Smit-McPhee) across a desolate countryside to nowhere in particular. The bullets are for the dad and son, in case the cannibals catch them.

In a series of prolonged flashbacks, the father remembers his recent, harrowing past.

Some kind of world crisis has struck. Civilization has collapsed. Plants have stopped growing. Livestock have died off. Food is so scarce that humanity has devolved into roving gangs that eat anyone they find who doesn’t belong to their gang. That’s after they rape and kill them, without regard to age or sex.

The man used to be married to an attractive wife (Charlize Theron). But the ugliness, the violence and the fear prove too great for her sensitive nature. (Read more…)