March 18, 2013 |
When, in her famous essay "A Room of One's Own," Virginia Woolf conjured the tragically compelling possibility of Shakespeare's sister, a new sort of narrative was born - the reclamation of female characters who previously lurked at the edges of epic tales. Queens and consorts, mothers and parlor maids have all gotten their due in retellings of famous works, from the Bible to the tales of Sherlock Holmes. And now here's Mama Bates. The mother of cinematic serial killer Norman Bates is among the most famous off-stage characters in dramatic history.
November 18, 2009 |
The first thing Vera Farmiga wants to do is to get out of those unrealistic heels. Relaxing on a couch in front of a lukewarm coffee in a suite at the Luxe Hotel, the actress known for unflinching portrayals of complex women appears before us now on behalf of "Up in the Air," a buzz-generating comedic drama directed by Jason Reitman ("Juno") and starring George Clooney. Clooney's Ryan is a smooth corporate mercenary flying from town to town to fire people; the happy traveler meets his match in Farmiga's Alex, a similarly rootless-seeming professional . . . and the banter begins.
July 18, 2013 |
When a really good new horror film comes out, one that's more about creative intelligence than executing the next grisly kill shot, it's something of a miracle in this eviscerating post-"Saw" era. Old-school and supremely confident in its attack, "The Conjuring" is this year's miracle - an "Amityville Horror" for a new century (and a far better movie than that 1979 hit), yet firmly rooted, without being slavish or self-conscious, in the visual language of 1970s filmmaking. Also like "Amityville," "The Conjuring" derives from an alleged true-life haunting, this one in rural Rhode Island, at an old house where terrible things happened and are happening still.
January 30, 2014 |
"At Middleton," the new romantic comedy starring Vera Farmiga and Andy Garcia as strangers who collide during a campus tour with their college-bound kids, is like a feckless flirtation. I use the word "feckless" because it keeps popping up in the film, an ongoing joke starting with a crossword puzzle. Feckless may be a hard word to make funny, ahem, but it does come in handy in describing a slight film that mostly squanders its fine cast on frothy banter and silly escapades. Borrowed bikes and shared bongs are typical of the adults' risky business after they escape the tour.
March 14, 2013 |
The big screen's most formidable mama's boy is coming to TV. Norman Bates, the deranged character of "Psycho" fame, is proving movie stars aren't the only ones hunkering down to the small screen - some of cinema's fictional personas are also making the move. "Bates Motel" is a sort-of prequel to Alfred Hitchcock's 1960 standard set to roll out Monday on A&E. The new series, from Carlton Cuse ("Lost") and Kerry Ehrin ("Friday Night Lights"), tracks the notorious psychopath during his adolescent years in the present day. (Cue the violin screeches.)
June 10, 2013 |
Filmmaker James Wan's ("Saw," "Insidious") latest scare fest, "The Conjuring," will have its debut at the Los Angeles Film Festival at the Regal Cinema at L.A. Live on June 21. The film will be shown at 10 and 10:30 p.m. Both screenings will follow with a Q&A with Wan. Based on a true story, "The Conjuring" revolves around married world-renowned paranormal investigators who are summoned to help a family terrorized by a dark force in a secluded...