Stoker (2013)

stoker_1Starring Mia Wasikowska, Nicole Kidman, David Alford, Matthew Goode, Peg Allen, Lauren E. Roman, Phyllis Somerville, Harmony Korine, Lucas Till, Alden Ehrenreich, Dominick ‘Dino’ Howard, Jacki Weaver, Dermot Mulroney

Directed by Park Chan-Wook

Expectations: High. Really looking forward to this despite knowing almost nothing about it.

twohalfstar


Sometimes waiting to see a movie makes for a better experience. If I had seen Stoker when it was released in theaters, I would have liked it but I would have been missing a key component to understanding it. Fortuitously and completely unbeknownst to me, Stoker is something of a re-imagined Shadow of a Doubt, so it was quite interesting to see this one after finally seeing that film for the first time just a couple of weeks ago.

The initial premise of Stoker is similar to that of the classic Hitchcock film, but it kind of flips everything on its head. Stoker begins with the funeral of Richard Stoker, father to India Stoker (Mia Wasikowska) and husband to Evelyn Stoker (Nicole Kidman). Out of the blue, Richard’s long-lost brother Charlie (Matthew Goode) returns from traveling Europe and stays with the girls to help them in their time of mourning. India has no idea that she even had an uncle, so the event is one that raises her suspicions and interest in the mysterious and fetching Uncle Charlie.

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Young Guns (1988)

Starring Emilio Estevez, Kiefer Sutherland, Lou Diamond Phillips, Charlie Sheen, Dermot Mulroney, Casey Siemaszko, Terence Stamp, Jack Palance, Terry O’Quinn, Sharon Thomas Cain

Directed by Christopher Cain

Expectations: Low. I’ve seen this one before and did not enjoy it.


I thought maybe this would be one of those movies that would get better with an appreciation for shitty movies. Unfortunately this is not the case, as Young Guns is not quite trashy enough to ignite the B-Movie torch and light my way through this tortured mess. It starts out well enough with an interesting and enigmatic opening of purple-tinged film grain and the silhouettes of our main characters, but just a couple of cuts later we’re treated(?) to close-ups of the stars as their names come on-screen in the most obvious, dumb way possible. Like Batman and Robin, at least Young Guns has the decency to let everyone know what they’re getting into. I should’ve stopped it right then and there, but I have an obligation to finish the filth and deliver something resembling quality content here at Silver Emulsion, regardless of the quality of the film.

I watch a lot of slow-moving B-Movies where their budgets don’t allow much to actually happen beyond a few people talking about something that you really should be seeing. Young Guns is like the opposite, where it’s almost all things happening but very little explanation, and what is there is so mind-numbingly boring and unengaging that I literally zoned out immediately whenever someone started talking. This happened the last time I watched it too, and I went in aware of this and actively tried to avoid it. I was simply unable to; it’s not my fault, it’s just a shitty, poorly constructed movie.

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The Grey (2012)

Starring Liam Neeson, Frank Grillo, Dermot Mulroney, Dallas Roberts, Joe Anderson, Nonso Anozie, James Badge Dale, Ben Bray, Anne Openshaw

Directed by Joe Carnahan

Expectations: Fairly high.


The Grey is not a film that will rock your world, but it might make you thankful for that roof over your head and the problems you do have. No one wants to be in a plane crash, but to survive one and then be stuck in the Alaskan wilderness… man, that’s a hard argument whether the ones that died in the crash had the better way out. The Grey is this year’s early-year Liam Neeson film and it’s actually quite good. I get the feeling that Neeson will make most anything these days, but here is a film that he will most likely look back on as one of the good ones.

The Grey isn’t so much about story as it is moment-to-moment survival. There’s a slight back story with Neeson’s character that runs through the entire film, but all the other men are fairly shallow. They seem like they have lives behind their gruff exteriors, and a scene late in the film punctuates that, but for the most part they’re just dudes yelling at each other over the specifics of a given moment. This works well enough, but I think the film misses something of an opportunity in not exploring any character other than Neeson’s. Do we need that? Not really, but I think I would have liked it better if it had. The way it is, I was identifying characters by “the guy with the hat that looks like Marc Maron” and “the asshole guy”, so obviously that could have been improved upon.

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