Friday, February 22, 2013

Dark Skies (Scott Stewart, 2013)

The home invasion thriller, the possession film, the haunted house genre, and alien abductions make up the mix of what Dark Skies is attempting to be. Starring Keri Russell, Josh Hamilton, Dakota Goyo, Kadan Rockett, with J.K. Simmons in a supporting role, it centers around a family experiencing strange phenomenon that turns out to be alien activity. All of this is highlighted in the trailer, so it's not giving anything at all away to describe that much here. Scott Stewart, whose previous directing credits include Legion and Priest, has written a script with a much more condensed cast and a much less epic variety of story here.

Walking into the theater and sitting through the film, I had no idea that Scott Stewart was the director. Had I known that, and had I known that his other directing credits were Legion and Priest, I might have been more well prepared for exactly what Dark Skies is. If you've seen those two films or even one of those, it won't come as a shock to you that Dark Skies ends up being supremely silly. There are a few decent ideas, and one or two good jump scares, but overall, it just comes off as laughably silly. As if that point needed to be driven home, in the moments that most definitely should have been more creepy or frightening, most of the audience in my theater was laughing. It wasn't a nervous laughter either.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

The Brothers Bloom (Rian Johnson, 2008)

Storytelling is an art and film making is an illusion with storytelling as one of the aspects of that illusion. When the two come together, it becomes something that reaches a height beyond which either could by themselves. Brick, the first film from writer/director Rian Johnson took the usual structure and tropes of a noir and put them in a high school movie. It was done with essentially no money and it is, without doubt, the film to which the latest incarnation of Joseph Gordon Levitt's career can be attributed to. It's fun in the great way old noir could be, tense in the way old noir could be and for those who saw it, was the announcement that there was a deeply talented young writer/director with a promising career ahead. If you haven't seen it, it's definitely worth a viewing.

His second film, The Brothers Bloom, does very much the same thing Brick did. Instead of using the noir tropes and structure though, this time he's using basic ideas and structure of a con film. Instead of taking all of those things and putting them in a high school movie, this time he's taking them and putting them in a romantic comedy. That description isn't something completely unusual. We've seen that film a number of times before, and they're so often mediocre that if I were reading it, I'd probably just roll my eyes and move on. Rian Johnson takes those elements and brings out the best in them to end up creating a truly entertaining, intelligently sentimental, emotionally effecting, but not corny or sappy while also being a metaphorically interesting film.