Thursday, May 12, 2005

"Wax" Sophomoric

What causes these studios to throw together these half-baked, sham remakes? House of Wax is no mere failed attempt on cashing in on a recognizable name. No, it's something far more sinister...The complete and utter bastardization of a great genre work by one of cinema's most complex and challenging auteurs: Andre De Toth.

Not that House of Wax 2.0 actually pretends to be a direct remake. The narratives are nothing alike, and the execution of the two films couldn't be at more of a contrast. Director Jaume Serra (who, no doubt, probably came from the delightful world of music videos) doesn't seem to be able to find a usable composition at all. Visually, the film's a mess. The exteriors look like something left over from an episode of The Brady Bunch, and the interiors are lensed dark, dark, dark. Would someone tell contemporary directors that things can be scary in the daytime as well, please?

Though the original Wax had the gimmick of 3D, De Toth's film was actually surprisingly subdued and expertly crafted. 2.0 reaches for scares through, of all tired things, crazed hillbillies (who just happen to be, you know, Siamese twin artists separated at birth and left orphans when both parents died).

The most fun to be had here is, of course, in watching the on-screen demise of a certain spoiled luminary. Ms. Hilton's death scene is a gas, but it was obviously concocted as "The Paris Hilton Death Scene That Everyone Will Love".

Everything else (awkward "romance", sibling rivalry, etc.) comes off as more than's downright infantile.

Oh, and one last thing...STOP using CGI in films with $20 million budgets. It doesn't work (here we get an exploding, melting house made entirely of wax...I kid you not).

Here's hoping there's no afterlife, otherwise De Toth has some haunting to do.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Two more for the "Collection"

Wes Anderson has had his third straight film go straight into the Criterion Collection. There is no other contemporary filmmaker for whom the Criterion folks have fawned over in the way they have with Anderson.

I actually wish that more contemporary films were coming out under the Criterion brand. Van Sant's Gerry was begging for the Criterion treatment. I'd also love to see Criterion try to finagle an edition of Bela Tarr's Satantango. Still, they're the best home video distribution arm in the business (followed by Warner, with their amazing recent barrage of catalog titles), and the product they put out is top-notch.

Along with The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou, I also picked up Hoop Dreams, probably one of my ten favorite documentaries of all time. Haven't watched it yet, but I look forward to it.

Oh yeah, and I finally got My Own Private Idaho.

Reviews are forthcoming.

I'm well on my way to my goal of owning the entire collection. Only a couple of hundred more (he he he)...

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Watcha Watchin'?

Not much worth watching on TV these days.

Here's what is:
  • All My Children
  • American Idol
  • Arrested Development
  • Chappelle's Show
  • Curb Your Enthusiasm
  • The Daily Show With Jon Stewart
  • Deadwood
  • Desperate Housewives
  • Law & Order: Special Victims Unit
  • Lost
  • Medium
  • Project Greenlight
  • Real Time With Bill Maher
  • Scrubs
  • The Shield
  • Smallville
  • Spongebob Squarepants
  • The Wire
  • The World Poker Tour