Friday, August 04, 2006

Movies opening this week

The Descent (Shauna Macdonald, Natalie Mendoza, Alex Reid, dir. Neil Marshall)
I remember hearing a lot of hype among indie horror aficionados for Marshall's first movie, Dog Soldiers, which I found sort of disappointing, although it showed a lot of promise. This one is better, since Marshall obviously had a bigger budget to work with and was able to use it better, keeping the creatures (literally) in the dark much of the time and making the flashes he showed of them effective. Lionsgate is marketing this film as a companion to stuff like Saw and Hostel, which really isn't all that accurate, since this movie is much more about suspense and psychological terror than those were. And it is genuinely scary and unnerving - probably the best horror movie I've seen this year. Some of the female bonding stuff comes off as a little forced, like Marshall is trying too hard to prove he's capable of writing realistic women, and the subtext is not quite as rich as some people have made it out to be. But it's there, and it's interesting, and it's a good movie even putting all that aside. If you see it in theaters, make sure to also check out the original ending from the UK version, which was cut for American audiences because it was too bleak. Lame. Wide release

Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby (Will Ferrell, John C. Reilly, Sacha Baron Cohen, Gary Cole, dir. Adam McKay)
My review in Las Vegas Weekly
I expected to like this more than I did, since I thought Anchorman was very funny and Ferrell is one of the few mainstream comedy stars who really appeals to me. And this is a fun movie, but it already feels like he and McKay are coasting a bit. I hope they can find a way to break out of their formula in future collaborations, because they've clearly got lots of talent. Wide release

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