The Painter and the Thief
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A criminally overlooked gem of a movie, The End Of The Tour paints a very human picture of late novelist David Foster Wallace, a man at odds with fame and much of what he sees in his everyday life. We see the way he deals with the sudden success and adoration while being essentially a shy man with limited social skills and a bundle of insecurities. He's a fascinating character, and I love how Jason Segel plays him. It's a performance that never gets talked about, but deserves all the acclaim it received. You can feel how tense he is, how unsure of himself he is even when he seems loose and relaxed, and when he comments on how much fun he's having or how much he's enjoying himself, his awkward stance and lack of eye contact suggest the very opposite. Jesse Eisenberg makes for a great counterbalance, pushing against Wallace, often too much on occasion, and the everchanging chemistry between the 2 leads is what keeps things interesting. It's a dialogue heavy film, but its brilliantly written and provides an insight into the mind of a man who was only on the public radar for a relatively short time, but who's impact is still felt to this day. If you have interest in the author or his work, then see this as soon as you can.
Time has not been kind to many 60s films, and The Haunting is one of them. Horror films have come a long way over the decades, and while many of them are decidedly subpar, there are plenty of standouts. The Hauntings biggest crime is that its mostly boring. It establishes an atmosphere of curiosity and paranoia, but most of the film is spent listening to overextended conversations about the supernatural, and they become progressively less interesting. The lead gives a convincing portrayal of a woman losing her mind, and the rest of the small cast does a great job, but a lot of the film's scares rely heavily on parlour tricks. I can completely understand why it's so popular, but it did little to unsettle and even less to frighten me. I would consider it an overrated film, but not necessarily a bad one. It has its merits, but I had a hard time getting into it.
The directing life hasn't been kind to Josh Trank. He started with promise, helming the impressive and entertaining found footage flick Chronicle, and then fell flat on his face with Fantastic 4. In light of this, it's a miracle he was given another high-profile film so soon. Capone is a very bizarre film, and sitting through it, it's hard to tell what Trank was going for. I love Tom Hardy, but he keeps getting saddled with roles where you can't understand what the Hell he's saying, and as such you spent most of the film trying to work out what he's saying. The film itself is a jumbled mess, mostly composed of nonsensical vignettes and extended dream sequences which add nothing to the film except constantly remind us that our leads mind is failing him. The movies does little to make you care about Capone or what he's going through, and most of the time is spent watching him either grumble incoherently or foaming at the mouth. The supporting cast add very little, and with the exception of Linda Cardellini, none are especially likeable. It's a mostly boring slog, and while watching Hardy revel in playing a man who's on the way out is enjoyable here and there, the film has little sense of its own purpose or direction. The film ends so abruptly that the epilogue even seems to be missing some text. It's a film I suspect will live on in infamy, not quite so-bad-its-good, but bad enough that its place on several end of year worst movie lists is assured.
Existing as both a homage to 70s and 80s horror films while also being a welcome subversion to the clichés which have bogged the genre down for so many years, The House Of The Devil will put many horror fans off for its relative lack of gore and frights. The film is in no hurry, taking its time in building up an atmosphere of both normalcy and impending dread. A lot of the time our heroine spends in the house is just her going about a fairly uninteresting routine, but there's always the thought in the back of your head that something could happen at any minute. Its filmed steadily and uses plenty of odd angles to keep us unsettled, and when a scary moment happens, it feels like the film has earned it. It shows that a horror movie doesn't need to be full of banging doors, flickering lights and things jumping out around every corner. Those thing are annoying, and the film is wise to avoid them. The ending might be a little bizarre, but there's clues leading up to it throughout, and its only when looking back on the often-standard dialogue do you pick up on some of the more subtle clues. It might not reinvent the genre, but it certainly demonstrates what it should be doing if it wants to stay relevant, and remain interesting.
I remember reading a list a while ago which declared the novel Emma to be the most overrated of all time, saying that ‘nothing much happens for 400 pages' before the eponymous lead gets married. Unfortunately, that's very much what this movie is. It does have the social commentary that Austen is renowned for, including her examination of social classes, the expectations people are supposed to live up to and the harmful effects of gossip. But it seems to lack any forward momentum or real purpose. Emma is a character we're supposed to adore and care about, but her lofty attitude alienates her from the audience, and there isn't any real consequences for her actions. She doesn't treat people very well, and in the end is rewarded for it. Much of the film is just characters having different versions of the same conversation, and its written in very 18th century fluffy English, making much of it difficult to understand, and just as heard to hear. A lot of dialogue is whispered, and the sound balance means that you have to turn the volume up during a quiet conversation, and then down again when loud music blares in the very next scene. Some of the characters are enjoyable, and there's even a funny line or 2. I laughed especially hard at the one which essentially sets the 3rd act into a nosedive. It could be said that it not my kind of movie, but I've enjoyed period films before. Emma., spelled with a completely pointless full stop, is simply dull, meandering and bereft of any real impact or purpose. Watch Pride & Prejudice instead.