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 30, 2005 |
It is the dream of most every film festival entrant that her movie will win awards, get talked about, be picked up by a distributor and catapult everyone involved if not to fame then at least to a level of filmmaking that doesn't rely on credit cards and the use of rolling chairs as dollies. And sometimes it actually happens.
August 9, 2012 |
A coming-of-age story featuring Vera Farmiga as a narcissistic New Age mom, David Duchovny as her pot-smoking Jesus-bearded goat herder/poolman and Ty Burrell as the divorced dad with the new wife, would appear to have all sorts of behavioral flavors to chew on. Alas, "Goats" - to borrow from the traits of its titular ruminants - nibbles on a lot of stuff it never gets around to digesting. Adapted from Mark Jude Poirier's novel (by the author himself), the film takes 15-year-old Ellis (Graham Phillips)
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.)
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.