Friday, March 13, 2009

Movies opening this week

Hear me chat about these movies with Jeffrey K. Howard of Vegas Film Critic and KVBC Channel 3 on this week's Josh Bell Hates Everything podcast. And check out my latest video segment, about The Last House on the Left. (I think last week's was smoother, unfortunately. It's a learning process.)

The Last House on the Left (Tony Goldwyn, Monica Potter, Garret Dillahunt, Sara Paxton, dir. Dennis Iliadis)
My review in Las Vegas Weekly
I watched the original Wes Craven movie last week for the first time in a number of years, and it's clearly a very amateurish, rough production with a lot of elements that don't work. I love Craven, but of his most highly regarded films, it's definitely one of the worst. Still, part of the reason it's valuable at all is that roughness, that sense of its being a personal vision that comes across regardless of the limitations. Its political engagement may be a little overstated, but it's definitely there, and that lends the movie some weight and makes it seem less crass. This new version has the full power of Hollywood filmmaking behind it, but it thereby loses the personal touch, the sense of making a statement, and becomes another assembly-line horror movie, albeit with much nastier violence (Jeff, on the podcast, was extremely disgusted with the violence). It's very much like Watchmen in that it stays fairly faithful to the original narrative (although more things are changed here, some that seem pretty important) but completely misses the spirit and thus ends up meaningless. And that's even with Craven as producer (though he's probably just doing it to make some money and further extend his brand). Maybe it will point people toward the original, or Craven's films in general, though, and that wouldn't be a bad thing. Wide release

Miss March (Zach Cregger, Trevor Moore, Craig Robinson, Raquel Alessi, dir. Zach Cregger & Tervor Moore)
I really dislike Cregger and Moore's sketch-comedy show The Whitest Kids U' Know, so I suppose I was predisposed to dislike this movie. But it really is awful, and in a different way from the TV show, which is full of bizarre, absurd gags that stretch out interminably. Here, the gags are mostly conventional and obvious (although there are a handful of weird bits), and aren't quite flogged to death, but they're just as awful and unfunny and tone-deaf (perhaps even more so). Moore is one of the most grating screen presences I've ever experienced, and he basically is the movie, despite Cregger's straight man being the ostensible main character. File this one in the increasingly large pile of horrible movies of 2009, somewhere below Paul Blart but probably still above New in Town. Wide release

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