Film Brief: Crimson Peak

Crimson Peak - poster

I figured somewhere on Rotten Tomatoes that I’d find a capsule I could swallow, but no such luck.

So, here’s mine: a terrific and unexpected first half, a let-down in the second half, and lots of great thematic elements and rich gothic atmosphere that’s never fully exploited.  Crimson Peak deserved a story with ever-more eventful intrigue, but it falls way short — as if the writers became further and further bogged down in their own thick red mire.  Still, there’s some enjoyment to be had, so a marginal recommendation.  6/10

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On The Double

The Double - poster small

The Double, an adaptation of the Dostoyevsky novella, earns lots of style points, with its bleak, Eraserhead-conjuring industrial world.  The writer-director Richard Ayoade certainly has an idea.  But this movie is fairly pointless, and worse, not entertaining.

With Synecdoche, New York, BirdmanFight Club, Secret Window, The Machinist and Moon, and the granddaddy of all, Mulholland Dr., there is little reason to watch this rather weak take on the doppelgänger sub-genre.  4/10

The Double - text block

 

 

 

Film Brief: Maps to the Stars [updated]

Maps to the Stars - poster

Sometimes when watching a movie, I get the feeling that I am seeing a series of scenes strung together with little or no cohesion binding them together.  I’ll often throw out the word “disjointed” to describe such a film.  It’s another Maps to the Stars - text blockway of saying the film lacks a strong narrative thrust; the first two-thirds or so of Maps to the Stars suffered in this way.

It’s a sort of heartless, anti-Grand Canyon, or perhaps a weak cross of The UninvitedMulholland Dr. and The Player.  Inherent Vice kept running through my mind as well.  I found Maps to the Stars driving me, but ultimately it’s a broken picture that can’t put a spark to the kindling it has assembled.  Very much on the fence with this one, because there was a lot I did like.  A marginal thumbs-down; 5/10.

Note: I saw this film in-theater, but it is also available via VOD.

Updated 3/9/15: upgraded to 6/10

Film Brief: Stoker

Stoker, with Mia Wasikowska, Nicole Kidman and Matthew Goode, smolders and smolders, but never quite catches a full fire.  With good and mysterious performances by all and a well-stylized production, this movie entertains.  I am glad I saw it, but it has plot problems — not enough meat on its bones.  6/10.

This movie made me think about Lars von Trier’s great movie Antichrist, and the movies I really love.  I want a movie to stick in my brain, otherwise what’s the point?  Though I liked Stoker, I hardly think I’ll remember it a few years from now.  More on Antichrist later.  Now there’s a movie no one can forget.

Matthew Goode and Mia Wasikowska in Stoker

Matthew Goode and Mia Wasikowska in Stoker