Knight at HOME at the Movies
A Cinematic Trilogy of Terror! PLUS ONE
Four creepfests of very different stripes to keep you having those delicious yet UNpleasant dreams this week. Much of the terror and
unease these movies generate comes from their magnificent, though very different, production design and the unique vision of each
of their directors. These are complicated, challenging movies that will reward those who have the time and patience to go beyond
the norm. Consider yourself...warned!
Almost eight months after experiencing Perfume: The Story of a Murderer for the first
time I still have my gay teenboy crush on it. Released at the tail end of 2006 to qualify
for Oscar consideration, I was stunned to learn that it went away empty handed.
WHAT!?!?! Nothing for the amazing Tom Tykwer, the movie's director, co-writer and
co-creator of the score (which is also fabu-lush)!?! Nothing for his eerily beautiful score or
his cinematographer or production designer or the script? I realized that the decidedly
offbeat story - that of a serial killer in 17th Century France whose superhero sized sense
of smell sets the plot in motion - wouldn't be for everybody and after bad to mixed
reviews, the public stayed away, perhaps scared off from the "difficult" (read: complicated)
subject matter. Now, thanks to Paramount Home Video, the movie's going to have a
HUGE resurgence and find the audience it so richly deserves. I advise you to sit back and
let it waft over you. I count my first viewing of Perfume: The Story of a Murderer as one of
my all time memorable movie experiences (and I have to admit I felt particularly gratified
when Roger Ebert gave it a 4-star review). I think you'll feel the same. The disc includes
a making of featurette and director commentary.
Audiences also weren't crazy for Zodiac, David Fincher's almost three hour long version of
the genuinely creepy story of the Zodiac killer whose brutal, seemingly unrelated killings
remain unsolved. But in this case at least critics were in agreement and the picture has
received some of the best reviews of any movie this year. The film follows three men who
were closely associated with the case - a reporter (Robert Downey, Jr.), the lead detective
on the case (Mark Ruffalo), and ironically, a political cartoonist whose obsession with the
case eventually took over his life (Jake Gyllenhaal). All three actors do stellar work in
Fincher's truly compelling movie and though audiences didn't respond to the picture's
stealth-like pacing, which is distinctly at odds with the typical serial killer movie, it's highly
effective. The film is blanketed with late 60s and 70s era songs that comment on the
creepy action but the movie also benefits highly from a melodic score by David Shire, who
returned to feature films with the movie. The DVD, also from Paramount Home Video,
informs us that a longer Director's Cut will be forthcoming next year. But don't wait to
take this one home and experience a great crime drama.
The third installment in our trilogy of terror was a hit with audiences and critics. The
Host, now out in both a single and 2-disc Collector's Edition from Magnolia Pictures,
deserves all the praise heaped on it. A monster picture interspersed with characters you
care about?! What a novel idea - enough of one to make the picture Korea's all time box
office champ. The premise is simple enough - after introducing a severely dysfunctional
family, the movie then brings on the main course: the Godzilla-Gamera-Giant Gila
monster type creature who rises from the depths, terrorizes defenseless Seoul, and who
will naturally have a huge impact on the family we've witnessed at the outset. It appears
that the daughter is killed by the creature but when the family discovers that she's still
alive they come together and vow to bring her back.
From that point the movie's one thrilling, nail biting cliffhanger after another. This is a
rousing, scare yourself silly kind of picture. Lots of screaming crowds, crushed buildings,
and one of the most interesting Giant Beasts since Q (remember it?) came after New York
back in the early 80s. The Collector's Edition extra disc with its myriad of featurettes has
answers to pretty much everything you'd ever want to know about how The Host was made
- and then some.
For maximum enjoyment here's my advice: hold a triple movie marathon (it will have to
be an overnighter) and show all three of the above.
Make that four...
Shia LaBeouf, the rising young star with the odd first and last name, officially is now HOT
STUFF thanks to Transformers (where I wasn't crazy about his work) and the much more
enjoyable Disturbia, which is now out from Dreamworks Video. As I noted in my review,
this is like a teenage version of Rear Window in which LaBeouf plays a troubled young man
who is placed under house arrest and who begins spying on his neighbors. One of whom
is up to some pretty suspicious activities. LaBeouf's character is aided by an annoying
best friend and a shapely blond Venus and as usual the adults don't believe the kids until
the nick of time. The disc includes a healthy selection of deleted scenes, a commentary
track from LaBeouf, a making of featurette and other extras. The movie, a sort of Nancy
Drew meets the Hardy Boys, has enough suspense to make it a worthy addition to the
creepy trio above. I think this is going to work even better on the smaller screen than it
did on the large one. And we all know I'm never wrong, RIGHT?!