Imagine the standard Star Wars crawl, and when it ends the camera pans up to the stars. But instead of a spaceship zooming into frame we see… a hand! A severed hand, tumbling through space. A severed hand gripping a light saber.

That hand falls onto a desert planet, where it is discovered by characters who will be our heroes.

Exclusive Star Wars Episode VII Plot Details" are probably the dumbest fucking thing i’ve ever heard? 

luke’s hand? falling to tatooine? after 30 years? what?

or is it a new hand that he lost? is this a prometheus-style “exact events that led up to the original film except they’re a completely separate incident” thing?

i dunno the moment you start caring about star wars continuity is the day you lose, but this is real silly even if it’s UNtrue.

guess we’ll wait to see what FILM CRIT HULK has to say about how this fits into three-act structure or whatever

The house decays. We needed to have the house feel a little bit like an organism. There’s a line I already cut in the editing room where it says it lays down like an animal and it goes slowly mad. The house in the screenplay and in the movie has certain features that make it seem like a living organism. So, it’s decaying. It’s sitting in the middle of a field, rotting.

We knew that the top needed to be sort of the most weathered part of the house. The bottom and the areas where you received visitors are live and slightly more kept. But the top is the head. The people in the movie are insane. So the head is all rotted away.


I don’t like what I call “class porn,” where everybody’s all gooey over, “If only the aristocracy was still in charge, life would be so civilized.” Fuck that. It’s not true. It was never true. This is a movie about a…very incredibly decadent trait of the aristocracy, rotting away in a mansion on a hill.

Guillermo del Toro on Crimson Peak. I’ll take it. He also references Hammer and giallo w/r/t the color palette, Polanski’s knack for “precise” staging, and in-camera effects.

If we take The Devil’s Backbone as the closest del Toro’s ever come to a great film (right?), this sounds more like that and less like most everything since then. He’s one of those dudes that is so cinema-literate that it hamstrings him; his reference points are always clear, and his tributes suffer for the comparison. He doesn’t want for creativity or technical skill, but to hear him talk about Suspiria or Juliet of the Spirits or anything, you can totally feel his excitement and passion for this shit. I just wish more of his films were that electric, that effective - like, Pacific Rim has some incredible stuff in it. But did it need the rote A-to-B clogging its arteries in between? Even if you didn’t hate that stuff, no one’s going to watch a whole movie of that.

Del Toro’s best at pure visual storytelling. Imagine a near-wordless stripped-back At the Mountains of Madness, images bereft of talky context, dropping the viewer into the alien uncanny just enough to unsettle them. Then again, everything he designs looks like it came from the same sketchbook. Maybe outsource it?

Snowpiercer (2013), dir. Bong Joon-ho

unfiltered sf premise taken seriously, but not stupidly: the last few years have seen a lot of get-it-by-the-logline “science fiction” like Transcendence and Elysium, and while any allegorical aspects of Snowpiercer are so upfront as to obviate the word “allegorical,” the scenario is brought to life with creativity and a healthy dose of brutal fight scenes (the tunnel fight is mad indebted to Johnnie To’s Vengeance). also chris evans talking about how “babies taste best;” a backstory that’s curiously relegated to the last third of the film. kinda a cool choice.

Bong will always be the Memories of Murder dude to me, and the eye for detail he brought to that film is in full force here: life aboard the train is quickly sketched plot-wise but richly addressed through set dressing, costuming, and acting (SONG KANG-HO); the relationships between characters are given just slightly more attention than you’d expect (even that single shot/reverse shot between the two heavies who are maybe in love? or the way the camera holds on octavia spencer’s dying face for a little too long); and there are a whole host of clever-as-heck shot choices, starting with the “shoe on the head” scene and the cuts on tilda swinton’s gestures.

i dunno. if you want a movie where the remnants of humanity are on a train hurtling through a snow-blasted wasteland, this is the best version of that you’re ever gonna get. it’s the kind of blockbuster that doesn’t feel like it’s still warm from the working-over it got between a dozen hired hacks and seventeen studio heads - messy, tonally inconsistent (though in a way that’s consistent for a new korea cinema dude), blunt, and all.

Enemy (2013), dir. Denis Villeneuve 

tamped-down surrealism: clinical early-Cronenberg (but not really, obvious ex. being Dead Ringers, Crash, Spider but with that alien-Toronto vibe of the early work) mingled with the kind of flickering, raw emotion-via-abstract imagery that most recently informed Under the Skin - and the score here is somewhat similar to Glazer’s film as well, all abrupt, harsh strings. also, great work from nu-‘berg regular Sarah Gadon.

the Gyllenhaalaisance continues unabated. more low-key (or should i say loki) than the McConahaheyheyheyseance, but equally impressive. 


scarlett johansson in ‘under the skin’

this has gotta be the most thematically rich thing i’ve seen in a long time: not only is it johansson (who is flat-out amazing here, completely owning every frame to the point i can’t imagine anyone else in the role) just actively trying to obliterate people using “sex symbol” like it’s her middle name but it’s managing to de-eroticize “my first nude scenes” and present the actress’s body as a tool, a lure - and if that’s not some damning criticism from a woman who’s usually bunched into catsuits and told to pose with her ass out i don’t know what is.

that’s to say nothing of any of the other threads of meaning throughout, which range from body dysmorphia (a subtext i found honest-to-god touching) to gender role-reversal and the apparent transgression of being typically physically unattractive

just GOD it’s so good. the touchstones are at once apparent - lynch, roeg, kubrick, scott, video art - and insufficient. damn if i was ever blindsided like this from kubrick - sure, there’s one-point-perspective shots, but if your criticism is based in memes there’s the door.

hits the requisite 70s italo notes, but does it with an undertone of real pain - the melody is mournful, wistful where it could have tacky and in-jokey

(Source: Spotify)



Tucker stone and I write about our Top 20 films of 2013 over at the Factual.

Our list includes two films from Sandy B, lots of guys on boats, and a top two you could have guessed months ago. (Surprise, they’re all Delivery Man!) The number two movie, I think I got to a thing that made it so special for me, and I believe I’m the only person to talk about the Lords of Salem as a radical feminist movie in print (I googled, couldn’t find a damn thing close). More importantly: Tucker writing about Captain Phillips and a few others at the top of his game. Check it out if that sounds good.

been waiting on this and damn does it deliver. to pick one quote at random (though i could quote the entire thing it’s so on-point):

"It can’t be dismissed that great American horror movies, the ones from the generation that created slashers and zombies, were closer to the extremely low budget former mumblecore set than anyone who puts a trailer up on Bloody Disgusting. People who make a lot of movies really quickly, who learn their craft on the fly, whether the films are good or not. That’s not just the territory of Cassavettes. Movies made for nothing with great scripts, strong actors, and no qualms about committing to fucked up choices. That’s the real legacy of Carpenter/Craven/Romero/Cronenberg/etc. Not four seasons of The Walking Dead, not Platinum Dunes, not pre-loaded fanbases, not last minute Damon Lindelof rewrites of an already finished movie, not screenwriter to screenwriter racist trope jokes. Slasher movies have a rich history of being way better than they have any right to be, because rigid structure can create a space for idiosyncratic voices and variations. It was easier to make them and earn a profit with the economic layout at the time. It was always the place where art met commerce.”

- Sean Witzke on You’re Next