April 12, 2013
Last Halloween season, if you passed by the corner of 2nd Street and Broadway, you might have wondered what all the quivering, shrieking people were doing streaming out of that darkened office building. The explanation was the first L.A. edition of the New York City-based extreme haunted house Blackout. For a few weeks in late fall, Angelenos willfully submitted to Blackout's deep dive into psycho-sexual torture scenarios and total sensory deprivation. L.A. horror fans must be a masochistic bunch - tickets were sold out, and Blackout had to add on a week of dates just to meet the demand for heebie-jeebies.
April 6, 2013 |
Mariel Hemingway, makeup-free and in sweats, is gorgeous. That bone structure, her cheetah-like build and flowing hair have been familiar for decades. What's disarming is her forthright approach to a rough family history and her determination to live the happy and healthy life that eluded so many of her relatives. She knows a lot, she says, about what it takes to live a happy life - no matter your cheekbones or pedigree. Perhaps it's because she's seen enough unhappiness to last many lifetimes: for starters, the suicides of her supermodel sister and her legendary grandfather, as well as five other relatives.
March 30, 2013 |
GUZHEN, China - At 58, Zhang Hongbing is still tormented by the death of his mother more than four decades ago. She was a victim of China's Cultural Revolution, executed by firing squad during Chairman Mao Tse-tung's decadelong purge of capitalism, cultural elites and political rivals. As a 15-year-old Red Guard, Zhang denounced her to authorities. Today Zhang is a lawyer, and he is trying to make amends for his past. He has officially cleared his mother's name of the charges for which she was killed, and he has reconciled with relatives.
March 29, 2013 |
"The Accursed," an astonishing fever dream of a novel, sets loose specters from the beyond to prey on innocent and guilty alike. But are there any real innocents in the diseased society Oates so scathingly depicts? Making skillful use of gothic fiction's time-honored conventions - demon lovers, haunted houses, guilty secrets, murderous transformations, supernatural visitations - the author repeatedly connects these unearthly manifestations to moral rot in the real world, in this case the "claustrophobic little world of privilege and anxiety" that is Princeton, N.J., in 1905 and '06. The president of Princeton University is Woodrow Wilson, embroiled in a power struggle with a popular dean over his desire to curb the eating clubs that dominate the school's social life.
February 21, 2013 |
Mesmerizing and haunting, "The Jeffrey Dahmer Files" is an inside-out serial killer movie, lacking in gore or cheap psychology and made in part for those who think they never want to see another serial killer movie. A hybrid of documentary and fiction, the film is directed by Milwaukee-based Chris James Thompson in his feature debut. Rather than indulging in exploitation kicks, the film engages more with Dahmer's impact on the community. The fictional footage features Andrew Swant as the notorious Dahmer, who murdered and dismembered 17 people; he seems to be a bland, weird-but-harmless blank slate.
January 31, 2013 |
"The Haunting in Connecticut 2: Ghosts of Georgia" might win for most unwieldy title of the year, but there's little else to distinguish this movie, related to the 2009 film in name only, from the recent crop of supernatural horror thrillers supposedly based on true stories. Here, a family moves to a remote property picked up on the cheap, and the young daughter (Emily Alyn Lind) begins to share the same "gift" as her mother and aunt (Abigail Spencer, Katie Sackhoff), an ability to see and communicate with spirits.