Saturday, February 4, 2012
Thursday, February 2, 2012
Wednesday, February 1, 2012
That little moment is an encapsulation of West’s modus operandi—less the scare, even, which is a satisfying one, but the waiting. In this film and his previous one, the magnificent ‘80s-babysitter-movie homage The House of the Devil, West has proven himself the master of the cinematic slow boil. He is patently disinterested in delivering a kill or “gag” every seven minutes, like a Friday the 13th or Saw movie. Like Rosemary’s Baby or the original Halloween or The Shining—which The Innkeepers bears a more-than-passing resemblance to—he values the tense build (with an occasional jolt), culminating in a climax of unbearable terror. Whether it is a sustainable style or a Shyamalan-like gimmick remains to be seen. But as tricks go, it’s a good one.
Little Miss Sunshine, and has done plenty of good work in that time, but Janie Jones feels like it was custom-made as a vehicle for what she can do. She sings (well), she cries (convincingly), she acts (naturally). This is not a cute-kid role, as many of her previous ones were; Janie Jones is only 13 years old, but she’s dealing with some heavy shit. Breslin has moments in this film that she plays with more depth and sensitivity than actors twice her age; dig the nuance she gives the line “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” like someone who is trying so badly to keep the hurt from showing, and almost—almost—pulling it off. There’s not a hint of contrivance to her performance, and that goes a long way towards making this very conventional story into something fresh and engaging.
Tuesday, January 31, 2012
Heat, Collateral). Normally, one might bury that lede, lest the charges of nepotism overshadow the result of her efforts, but the promotional materials all but made that the banner headline, so what the hell. In all fairness, her old man’s influence isn’t hard to spot; the picture’s got wall-to-wall music, up-close digital photography, and a stripped-down, no-nonsense storytelling style. What she doesn’t yet have is the ability to shape those elements into a tight, coherent package. That’ll come, I suppose.
Monday, January 30, 2012
Nicolas Winding Refn, the director of the Gosling starrer Drive, is well aware of that quality, and uses it—plays up to it, even. His character is, in the early scenes, purposefully opaque; Refn and screenwriter Hossein Amini (adapting James Sallis’s book) construct those opening passages in a way that painstakingly minimizes the amount of dialogue he speaks, sometimes reducing scenes down to mere in and out points, skipping the chitter-chatter in between. (It also makes his quiet work here an even more jarring contrast to his chatty ladies’ man in last summer’s Crazy, Stupid, Love.) The pacing is deliberate, lackadaisical even. Long takes hold on Gosling’s face as he takes in his surroundings, contemplates a situation, and reacts. Or doesn’t, whichever.