Leave it to Movie Smackdown to throw two mythical film beasts at each other. The Dragons in this tale are the mighty Scandinavian monsters that have dominated the world of fiction for nearly a decade. Metaphors aside, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo was the first in a series of three mystery novels by the late Swedish writer Stieg Larsson. […]
The universe is full of mystery: What is the meaning of life? Why are we here? If God exists, why does He allow evil? And perhaps most perplexing of all, how did not one, but two Hollywood productions in the last five years attract major financing for projects tackling those kinds of questions without linear stories that film critics, not to mention common moviegoers, could understand?
Well, the good Lord works in mysterious ways, and in the case of writer-director Terrence Malick’s The Tree of Life (now in theaters) and The Fountain (2006), written and directed by Darren Aronofsky with help on the story from Ari Handel, we are arguably better off for it.
Reactions are all over the lot on Malick’s latest opus, and so is the film, which examines a Texas family’s extended life and reaches for an emotional link connecting it to all of creation. Aronofsky’s metaphysical missile, on the other hand, describes a parabola between life and death, attempting to shed light on life’s essence through a sort of tag-team narrative, part of which deals with a literal search for — wait for it — the tree of life. […]
They say love overcomes all obstacles, but time seems to be one of the most difficult. Time and time travel seem made for romance. Maybe that’s because there is a more of a fantasy quality to it than strict science fiction. Finding two lovers who meet across time has been done before, but Hollywood loves to revisit this idea again and again.
This week, our challenger, Source Code, and our champion, Deja Vu, tackle the problem of finding love in the time continuum. In both cases, what starts out as a case of time-travel observation becomes something more of an obsession for the observer. […]
Murder – The Ultimate Crime. Comedy – The Ultimate Genre. Therein lies the rub! Can you make a murder mystery into a successful comedy? After all, murder isn’t all that funny. “Murder By Death,” written by Neil Simon and directed by Robert Moore, was an homage to the great detectives of old, such as Charlie Chan, Sam Spade, Miss Marple, and others. “Clue,” directed by Jonathan Lynn and set in the world of the board-game Cluedo, tapped into the psyche of the 80’s and evolved into a slapstick styled comedic farce, driven by a star turn from Tim Curry. One is a sly indictment of detective clichés, the other, an innuendo ridden cliché of the genre itself: together, both these films represent the zenith of mystery comedy of their times. But which one is the better film? Lets turn off the lights, shine a torch up on our faces, and prepare to get utterly scared in this murder mystery showdown!!
The truth about alien visitors may actually be different than what Hollywood has traditionally told you. On the one hand we’ve had the space brothers who have come to help us save the planet and ourselves (“Close Encounters,” “The Day the Earth Stood Still”). On the other hand, we’ve had the cosmic badasses who’ve come to create hell on Earth (“War of the Worlds,” “Independence Day”). The two films in our Smackdown ring each suggest another alternative. The aliens are here for a more unknown purposes. They’re not cuddly scientists like “E.T.” but bizarre and harsh. Both “Communion” and “Fire in the Sky” tell us that they’re here taking people out of their homes and neighborhoods in the middle of the night, tagging them like deer in a Lyme disease study, probing and poking them in ways that suggest rape as much as anything else. Possibly more unsettling is that these two films were both based on books which were based on true stories. You may scoff at the word “truth” here but, the fact is, the central characters in each — Whitley Strieber and Travis Walton — have both passed lie detector tests. Show me a Hollywood agent who could do that about today’s phone list and you’ll begin to appreciate the accomplishment. The questions — as we continue our film exploration of alien contact — are, which version comes closest to what might be the truth about alien intentions here on Earth, and which one is the better film?