Fantasia 2015 Review: Dark Places

1985.

In a rural community of Kansas there was a young teenager Ben Day (Tye Sheridan channelling Ezra Miller) who was very into the punk rock outfit The Misfits. He filled his sketchbooks with inked antichrist art, and was accused of molesting several of the girls in his volunteer art class at the local primary school. Eventually he was convicted for the murder of his mother (Christina Hendricks), two of his sisters, and possibly his girlfriend (Chloë Grace Moretz) as part of a satanic ritual. The lynch-pin in the ensuing trial was Ben’s surviving sister Libby, who pointed the finger squarely at her bother (after heavy coaching from the prosecution) to tie neatly off the “Kansas Prairie Massacre.”

Emotionally engaging and effortlessly surprising, Dark Places is a narratively complex, fictional amalgamation of all the lessons learned from the so-called Satanic Panic of the 1980s. The film reunites Charlize Theron and Nicholas Hoult shortly after their very metal mega-adventure along George Miller’s Fury Road. Coincidentally enough, both actors are playing similar roles: that of tough-as-nails survivor (albeit Theron has all her limbs) and almost-innocent neophyte (albeit Hoult has hair) who is looking for truth in a broken world.

The actual events of this horrible evening (and the frazzled motivational strings that lead up to it) are given a measured reveal analogous (albeit cinematically polished) to the case of the West Memphis Three from the mid-1990s; where took decades of work and a plethora of news stories and documentary films to get even a misty picture of the truth. Ditto for the expensive and lengthy McMartin daycare trials of the 1980s and the facts coming to light in the influential auto-biography of Satanic Ritual Abuse, “Michelle Remembers”. In Gilles Paquet-Brenner’s (Sarah’s Key, Walled In) adaptation of Gillian Flynn’s novel of the same name which amalgamates of all these narratives into the type of tale now reserved for season-long prestige television along the lines of True Detective (fun fact: The first season’s story was based loosely events involving The Hosanna Church in Ponchatoula, Louisiana), thick real-crime books such as Errol Morris’s “A Wilderness of Error,” and investigative podcasts such as NPR’s Serial. It is a testament of the screenwriting, acting and editing here that it comes together so satisfyingly. It pleases me that in light of migrating to other media, this kind of filmmaking the investigative thriller, has not completely disappeared.

Would you like to know more…?

A Trailer for a Trailer is Better than the Trailer: Dead Pool

Reminiscent of both the wonderful teasers for John Woo’s Face/Off and Katherine Bigelow’s Strange Days, this polished advertisement for the soon to be released trailer for Marvel’s Dead Pool, has Ryan Reynolds convincingly mugging as the Merc-with-a-mouth.

I wish more movies studios did these kinds of trailers, and not just as a trailers for a trailers, because actual trailers for blockbuster tentpoles mostly suck these days, precisely because they have no personality and are cut pretty much the same.

Here, Reynolds has personality plus, even as he is undoubtedly catering to the Comic Con crowd, on his so-called “E-Harmony date with destiny.” This is how it is done, foul language and all.

Trailer: 007 in SPECTRE

Synchronicity

“It was me, James. The author of all your pain.”

Lots more Christoph Waltz as Blofeld…er…Franz Oberhauser here, a lot of showcase of cars, computers and locations, specifically Mexico City on the Day of the Dead, London, Icy Wilderness reminiscent of foggy Scotland in Skyfal. There are few ‘wow’ moments in the trailer, as the Daniel Craig era of 007 settles into what is is. Not that this is in anyway a bad thing, just familiar. Have a look at the trailer below.

Trailer #3: American Ultra

American Ultra

If there is one thing that stoner-super-spy comedy American Ultra is doing right, it is with passive understatement, and the casting of Jesse Eisenberg and Kristen Stewart seems perfect in this case. Also digging the Molly-Day-Glo set-piece. It only has to overcome the fact that this concept (without the pot) has been done hundreds of times at this point.

After three trailers, are you ready for The Bourne High-dentity? (Sorry, that one is mine.)

Trailer: The Revenant

leorevenant

Rev·e·nantˈrevəˌnäN,-nənt – noun
a person who has returned, especially supposedly from the dead.

Hot off the success of last year’s Best Picture winner Birdman, Alejandro G. Iñárritu is shifting gears with The Revenant. The film is a period piece revenge thriller adapted by Iñárritu from Michael Punke’s 2003 novel based on the true story of 19th century fur trapper Hugh Glass.

Over the years, the project has gone through quite a few hands before ending up on Iñárritu’s lap. At one point, Park Chan-wook was attached to direct with Samuel L. Jackson to star. Later on, John Hillcoat and Christian Bale were in negotiations.

As you’ll see in the trailer, with the final product, Iñárritu has crafted what appears to be a spectacularly beautiful film starring Leonardo Dicaprio as the weary protagonist hellbent on revenge against his companions (one played by Tom Hardy) who rob and leave him for dead after he’s attacked by a grizzly. Needless to say, it looks fucking awesome.

The Revenant drops into theaters stateside on Christmas Day 2015.

Comic Con Trailer: Suicide Squad

suicidesquad

Earlier today, we posted the trailer for Batman v Superman that premiered at Comic Con. Now, we have the Comic Con trailer for Suicide Squad, which exists inside the same connected film universe.

There’s no doubt about it: they are going for something completely distinct from the Marvel cinematic universe. Which according to many commenting so far… that’s a good thing. As for the views on these popular characters be punk rockified? That remains to be seen.

We have over a year until this drops into theaters on August 5, 2016–but needless to say, after these past few days, the internet is abuzz with moviegoers who are really curious as to where this film universe is headed.

Comic-Con Trailer: Batman v Superman

wonderwoman

Well, one of my major complaints about Man of Steel (and many superhero flicks recently) is about to be addressed in Batman v Superman: the seemingly inconsequential destruction of Metropolis.

Because Bruce Wayne happened to be there and see it all go down.

See Wayne Financial crumble to the ground.

And Bruce Wayne… he’s pissed at Superman.

Also… Wonder freaking Woman shows up.

I really disliked Man of Steel… but I remain open-minded. We still have to wait until March 25, 2016 to see how this is going to turn out, but in the meantime, check out the recent trailer from SDCC.

Did you enjoy Man of Steel? What do you think of trailer’s portrayal of Batman and Wonder Woman? Chime in below!

Trailer: Steve Jobs

fassjobs

This morning, the trailer for Danny Boyle’s sequel to the 2013 instant classic Jobs (starring Ashton Kutcher) hit the web. Apparently, Boyle couldn’t convince Kutcher to reprise his role for the sequel–which adds Steve to the title–so he settled for Michael Fassbender.

And yeah, it looks cool, I suppose. It’s tough to portray such a recognizable public figure, because the Fass doesn’t really look like Jobs, even if he has the speech and mannerisms down. Still, that’s not necessarily important in crafting a good film, if everything else comes together.

The trailer is solid and certainly takes plenty of creative liberties with Jobs’s life, as expected with Aaron Sorkin and Danny Boyle involved. Steve Jobs drops into theaters on October 9, 2015.

What do you think of the trailer? Chime in below!

Trailer: Denis Villeneuve’s Sicario

In Mexico, Sicario means ‘Hitman.’ In Canada, Denis Villeneuve directing means ‘Must See.’ Emily Blunt being a competent bad-ass, Benicio Del Toro being cool as ice, and Roger Deakins shooting the hell out of the picture. The film plays like a Michael Mann police procedural action version of Ridley Scott’s The Counselor, and you have no idea how hard that hits my sweet spot.

This is my most anticipated movie for the remainder of 2015.