On the run after killing his dad, Bradley Cooper wanders mutely into a carnival needing work and food and gets shown around by Willem Dafoe. Ron Perlman is there of course, typecast as a strongman. Cooper’s talents are gradually put to use until he runs off (openly, not in secret) with Rooney Mara to run their own upscale act stolen from mentalist Toni Collette and her late partner David Strathairn.
A couple years later in the plotty, less compelling back half of the movie, the spook act impresses Mary Steenburgen and he’s set up with haunted and dangerous Richard Jenkins. Psychologist Cate Blanchett gives him inside dirt on Jenkins then swindles him, Rooney dislikes his turn to crime-laced trickery, and after it all goes wrong he leaves town in a chicken car, wounded, with nothing and nobody, and comes crawling to new circus master Tim Blake Nelson.
It’s convenient when you’re a circus psychic that everyone in the 1940’s had the same backstory. The movie is as obvious as I’d guessed from the trailer, but the actors and the look of the thing make it completely worthwhile.
First time watching this in high-def… oh my.
The opening scene is full-on nuts and very fakey looking, but i dunno that you need a sand-dune sailboat being attacked by giant duneworms to look “realistic.” Back in “our world” Milla Jovovich is an elite UN soldier(?) until a desert storm transports her to the monster-hunting world where her team is wiped out and she’s cocooned by skittering creatures in an underground insect Matrix until kidnapped by incredible archer Tony Jaa. She fucks up his shrine and they have a really violent fight, then they join forces and make her an arm-mounted grappling crossbow. “To kill a monster you need a monster.” Lost Boy Ron Perlman joins them, fighting off a stampede with flaming swords, then we go through the kidnapping / friendship thing again to fight a fire-breathing dragon. If I’m making this movie sound unbelievably awesome, that’s only because it is.
I mostly know Fessenden from his roles in Kelly Reichardt movies… only previously seen his Habit, the other mid-90’s heroin/vampire movie – know I didn’t like it much but I don’t recall anything about it and don’t trust my 1996 self’s opinions, since 1996 Self loved From Dusk Till Dawn and Happy Gilmore.
I guess this is The Thing meets The Happening meets The Screwfly Solution, an “eco-thriller” in which the environment fights back against an arctic oil team who already had their own inter-personal drama and now have to contend with people turning suicidal/homicical after seeing snowy ghosts. Throw in an evil corporation covering up climate-change evidence, Ron Perlman and Connie Britton, and remarkably good plane-crash effects, and it’s a solid little apocalyptic movie.
Connie and Ronnie:
Maxwell (Connie’s Friday Night Lights costar) is first to die naked in the snow, Jamie Harrold (Kingdom Hospital) just nosebleeds to death in his sleep, and a couple people get taken out when the “rescue” plane crashes into their base. Perlman and his rival, Phantasm II star James Le Gros, end up stranded in the snow with approaching ghost-deers, while back home, Connie kills Joanne Shenandoah for smothering Kevin Corrigan (the not-bright, cleaner-spraying guy in Infinity Baby).
In 1536, the official watchmaker to the viceroy flees the Inquisition and lands in Vera Cruz, Mexico. In 1937 a vault collapses, killing the watchmaker. How he lived for 400+ years becomes the obsession of rich, dying businessman Claudio Brook (Simon of the Desert himself). When his enforcer son Ron Perlman discovers evidence that the watchmaker’s Cronos Device (which turns the user into a kind of vampire/addict: see also The Addiction, released two years later) has turned up in an antiques shop, he tries to acquire it from its accidentally-immortal new owner.
Two dying men, sort of:
Think I watched this in Paul Young’s after-hours screening series at Tech, but I must’ve slept through part of it, since it seemed mostly unfamiliar. A quality flick – suppose it qualifies as horror, but it doesn’t behave quite the way a horror movie is supposed to, has a classic genre sensibility (horror genre with action/revenge/gangster elements) but marches to its own beat. For instance, the old man’s granddaughter Aurora isn’t a spooky ghost child nor a victim, but a witness/participant, a representative of the spectator with more personality than is usually allowed.
Perlman, before City of Lost Children:
Federico Lupi, also in The Devil’s Backbone, is antique dealer Jesus Gris, who has a run-in with Ron Perlman after finding and using the device. Perlman arranges a car crash and attends the cremation of Gris’s coffin – but Gris has escaped from it just in time. After getting himself together he sneaks into the businessman’s office seeking answers about his condition (with Aurora accidentally in tow, a glowstick between her teeth). The businessman is killed, and a rooftop fight between Gris and Perlman leaves them both dead-ish, but Gris is revived by the device, which he then smashes, realizing he’s being tempted to drink Aurora’s blood. He goes home and presumably starves to death in bed surrounded by his family, a strangely beautiful portrayal of a moral vampire.
A few years ago some critics raved that Paul Greengrass’s super-fractured Bourne movies were the exciting new thing, so hyperactively edited that they defied attempts to make sense of the action sequences. I wasn’t a huge fan, so I’m glad that this year critics are raving about Refn’s pared-down slow-motion action film instead.
J. Rosenbaum, listing things he does not like: “extreme violence as a function of specious and hypocritical morality (or, even worse, ‘sensitivity,’ as in Drive).” I haven’t figured out exactly what that means, but Katy disliked the extreme violence as well. For all the slow, cool aspects of the movie, its retro opening titles and theme songs (which I’ve been playing over and over), its straightforward genre story and simple themes of family love and heroism, there sure is some extreme bloody violence, including a thug’s head getting stomped to bits in an elevator, Christina Hendricks getting blasted with a shotgun, and Albert Brooks, in possibly his first death scene since the opening sequence of Twilight Zone: The Movie, getting a razor to the arm.
Ryan Gosling (unfortunately of Lars and the Real Girl) is perfect as the blank no-name Driver (stunt-man, getaway driver, track racer and mechanic – a vehicular all-star) who falls for his married neighbor. T. Stempel: “most of what she gets to do is smile sweetly. Carey Mulligan does that well, but it’s a criminal under-use of her talent.” When we meet her husband Standard, he’s a nice guy, seemingly reformed from prison, so the driver would have a moral dilemma if Standard was not quickly killed by gangsters (led by Albert Brooks and Ron Perlman – great casting). Driver tries to help the girl escape the baddies, but the more baddies you hurt, kill or rip off, the more baddies you attract. So he finally has to kill just about everybody, ends up driving away by himself, mortally wounded, the soundtrack telling us that he has become a real hero. Oh also Bryan Cranston (Julia Roberts’ ex-husband in Larry Crowne) is great as the hard-luck mechanic who gave the driver his day job.
Let’s see, this opened last July and apparently I was too busy watching classic Hollywood comedies, french auteur cinema, documentaries and Wall*E to go see it. Also I wasn’t so wowed by Pan’s Labyrinth and I figured an action-comedy sequel could only be worse than that. Turns out it’s a very good action-comedy sequel. I should’ve guessed. Anyway, looked great in high-def.
I guess Hellboy was dating fire woman Selma Blair in the first one – I barely remember the movie even though I’ve seen it twice. Anyway she’s pregnant in this one with twin fire demons, but that’s hardly discussed because we are busy being introduced to, then figuring out how to kill, various wonderful creatures.
Also Doug “Silver Surfer” Jones is back as Abe the aquatic poetry-reading scientist psychic fellow, Jeffrey Tambor as the comic relief operations manager, and introducing the voice of Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane as the ectoplasmic being encased in a steamy glass-topped robot suit.
This time the crew goes to Ireland (actually filmed in Budapest) to fight some Lord of the Rings holdovers.
They win at the end.
Did I mention John Hurt appears in the intro?
Movie starts and I am happy. Remote women’s clinic picks up a girl in trouble, then her father, a possibly dangerous anti-abortion religious nut with three gun-happy sons, drives up. Window rolls down… it’s Ron Perlman! You do not mess with Ron Perlman!
Turns into a precinct/assault movie, which I have no problem with, but uh oh, where’s the horror? Oh, the girl was raped by demons, and her demon baby is about to be born (spoiler: it’s a flesh-colored spider with a doll head) and nothing can stop that and its demon father will rise up from the ground to claim the baby!
So, pretty stupid. I could at least forgive it that, but that twice, twice!, a character (perlman, one son) comes up against the demon in a hallway of the clinic during the assault, gives an uh-oh look, camera cuts to demon looking all demony… then nothing. Did that low-rent demon suit not offer enough freedom of movement to take a swipe at a guy’s head? Anything? Anyway, girl shoots her baby and demon wanders off. Movie manages not to be an adequate comment on abortion, religion, clinics, fanatics, motherhood or demons.
Percussive score written by Carpenter’s son is the worst movie music I’ve heard since Goblin was in business.
Movie still gets points for having Ron Perlman in it.