Friday, January 13, 2006

Mini Reviews - Emily Rose, Hotel, High Tension, Robots, The Terror.

I would have watched more this week, but I was watching a bunch of Coupling (season 2) episodes instead. What a great show! So very funny. Highly recommended to all. (Make sure it is the English version you rent, there is an American version that is supposedly crap.) Anyway, this week we had a movie night with a couple of friends who were anxious to try out our home theater. We didn't have any movies at home at the time, so they brought their Blockbuster Online selections. And those selections were a bit, um..., interesting. The movies were Hotel and High Tension. I am proud to say I am the only one of the four who was able to stay awake through Hotel, even though it was the first of two movies we watched that night and everyone managed to stay awake through the second. Then again, very graphic horror is difficult to sleep through. It was a big week for the horror/suspense genre for me. I saw The Exorcism of Emily Rose, Hotel, High Tension, Intacto, Robots, and The Terror. Only two were not either horror or suspense. And I think maybe one that I say wasn't was maybe trying to be a suspense film, but I can't tell.

The Exorcism of Emily Rose (Derrickson, 2005)
A priest goes through a court trial for negligent homicide. As the case progresses we see, in flashbacks, what happened to his alleged victim, Emily Rose, who may or may not have died at the hands the 6 demons that allegedly possessed her.
Quite good. I love the use of the court trial as a plot mechanism to move the story forward. So unusual to have a courtroom drama and horror flick in one. What makes this story even more compelling is that it is based on a real case that took place in Germany in the 70s. I think it would have been even better if they had stayed closer to the real case, but they chose to just use it as a starting point. Still, as I said, quite good.

Hotel (Figgis, 2001)
A film crew stays at a strange hotel during the production of a Dogme film.
I couldn't tell if they were spoofing the Dogme movement or not. The film within the film was certainly not a Dogme film even though they kept saying it was. Whereas the film without could have been. The film within couldn't have been Dogme, though it showed some characteristics of one, because it was a period film, with heavy costuming, there was unnatural (Middle English) dialog, and murder, and the director was lusting for fame and glory, which is so not Dogme. The film without, on the other hand was a bit more like a Dogme film, though not entirely. It did take place here and now, but there were murders and editing techniques not typical of the Dogme film (plus a dream sequence of sorts.) This film (or video rather) certainly was interesting, but also terribly boring. I am glad to have seen it because of some interesting moments (the dream sequence and Flamenco sequence especially.) But the rest I could have lived without seeing. Ultimately, the movie made absolutely no sense. (This is the one I couldn't tell whether it was suspense or not.)

High Tension (Aja, 2003)
A girl goes to her college roommate's home, in the remote French countryside, just as a murderer pops in for a friendly visit.
This movie was in Franglish, or at least dubbed in Franglish. Not sure what the original second language was, but we got to see lots of poor dubbing. The film itself wasn't bad as far as B horrors go. Lots of blood and decapitation. And running and hiding. But there was some good twists. Fun if you like this sort of thing.

Intacto (Fresnadillo, 2001)
A down-on-his-luck guy makes money by borrowing luck from others who have it to spare, and by putting them into all kinds of perilous situations. Makes no sense? It will if you see it.
Moving right from a Franglish movie to a Spanglish one. Who knew the world was so multilingual that movies can't just be in one language anymore? The magnificent Max Von Sydow portrays a man with luck so astonishing, that others compete in many dangerous games to have the chance to pit their luck against his. What a truly original idea. Brilliant in fact. Too bad something was missing that didn't make the movie really pop. But still a good effort, and something definitely worth watching if you want to see something you never would have thought of.

Robots (Wedge, 2005)
A spunky, young robot, full of idealism and dreams, goes to the big city to make it big.
On my second viewing, I now remember why I didn't love this movie the first time around. I just don't like the way the movie deals with its female characters. You have the whiny, clingy, irrational mother, and the super masculine villainess. Oh sure, there is the Halle Berry character who is sexually harassed at her executive job. But she is an almost useless character. I almost feel like they tacked her in to say, "Look! We think women can be in high-powered jobs and be nice! Look! We aren't sexist." Yeah, uh-huh. Scream it louder and maybe we will believe you.

The Terror (Corman, 1963)
Jack Nicholson is the little go-getting, 1800s French soldier who will solve the mystery of the ellusive women everyone denies exists, so help him!
Awwww... bless this movie for trying. It really did. But it so didn't work out. First of all you have a bunch of Franco/Germanic characters who all have American accents (and even one New York accent.) Then you have the extremely modern dialog though the characters are all from the early 1800s. Then you have the title, which was clearly meant for another movie since this one contained no terror whatsoever. This movie is the little engine that could, so I felt a little affection for it. Though, if I were to read it from a feminist perspective I would have found it just as objectionable as the last one, since you have the young, ethereal beauty, contrasting with the old, evil hag. All these guys who make these movies need some therepy to get over their ideas that women are either ellusive dreams or old naggy hags. We have our own thoughts on what men are you know!

More next week!
Happy weekend, and happy viewing!

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Pacze Moj said...

Good call on Intacto; great idea done in an alright way. The style was a bit too clinical for my taste. I think the story could have used some more warmth. Still, the scene of the blindfolded "contestants" running through the forest was pretty, darn cool.

Elisabeth said...

Yes, they played it a bit safe, didn't they? If they could have hooked us into the characters more (so we really cared about them) and upped the tension a bit, I think this movie could have been fantastic.

bullet in the head said...

... There was no second language in "Haute Tension" the English was dubbed in because it was assumed US audiences can't be bothered to read subtitles. The new dubbed version was then named High Tension and a little bit of the gore was cut.

Elisabeth said...

Really? That's the most ridiculous thing I have heard! That makes no sense! So did they change the story too or did the other girl just have a strong accent on her french? She kept saying that her french wasn't very good. And she spoke language#2 at the family's house. What happened in the french language version? She and her whole family (who presumably are also not very good french speakers all spoke french? That just wouldn't happen.) I hated the dubbing, don't get me wrong. And I hate people that complain and say "if I wanted to read a movie, I would grab a book instead." Ugh. Get over it. But it makes no sense for the french version to be all in french unless they changed that whole foreigner aspect. And if it is true that that is why they did a french/english combo for americans, why not just dub the whole thing in english?


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