9/5/12 The Raid: Redemption (2011)
If his second film’s conceit is any indication, Gareth Evans must be a ridiculously economical guy. The Raid would have sufficed on its relentless pencak silat frenzy alone, but its plot jerks you around without failing to emanate organically, as do its contained set pieces. Evans and star Iko Uwais find countless routes for characters to chuck their assault rifles and handguns aside and engage in the martial arts dance. Frantic fight sequences explode with thumping electronic beats reminiscent of the Wachowski’s lobby sequence in The Matrix. There’s not much in theme or richness, but The Raid seems content with its simplicity. So am I.
9/6/12 The Grey (2011)
Joe Wright’s Hanna was a poorly marketed film simply because its campaign never clarified what in the hell was going on. Much to my surprise, any skepticism was pleasantly assaulted by its fairytale structure and the Chemical Brothers’ throbbing soundtrack. In short, expectations go a long way. The Grey follows suit, disguising itself as nothing more than ‘Taken With Wolves.’ But Joe Carnahan’s latest is cold, relentless and unabashedly callous toward action film cliches. Is this even an action film? Its frozen tundra thrills play out like an extension of Childs and MacReady at The Thing‘s bleak conclusion. Its characters are nuanced, and while its script flirts with conventional ‘coward,’ ‘asshole,’ and ‘badass’ cookie cutter figures, everyone here is flawed and scared and brave.
9/8/12 V/H/S (2012)
One of these days I’ll get around to watching the acclaimed Trick ‘r Treat horror anthology, but if it’s anything like V/H/S, that’ll likely happy long before October 31st. I admire this collection of five horror shorts an its self-awareness. Its premise itself, reflects that hoarding mentality of cinephilia, of needing to see everything and of all types. And its types are certainly varied, even if every short isn’t as successful as the film’s bookends. Fortunately, each offers its own unique take on too familiar horror mainstays like haunted houses, slasher killers, home invasion, sex-crazed teens, and ghosts, but the shorts never get the chance to overstay their welcome. Its final tale from the Radio Silence filmmaking quartet — of which divulging any specifics would be a disservice — is the highlight of V/H/S and I found myself wanting more from them. And then I realized that defeated the project’s purpose in the first place.