Horror Film Review: The Hunger (dir by Tony Scott)


“Bela Lugosi’s dead….” Peter Murphy sings at the start of 1983’s The Hunger and, in the case of this film, it’s as much of a challenge as a tribute.

Bela Lugosi and Dracula are gone, the film announces, and so is the old-fashioned vampire movie.  Here’s a new look at an old favorite….

Of course, seen today, The Hunger doesn’t seem new.  Since The Hunger‘s release, there’s been  a countless number of films in which vampires have been decadent and chic aristocrats, hanging out in dark nightclubs and looking at the world with ennui-stricken eyes.  By today’s standards, the stylish decadence of The Hunger can seem almost quaint.  Much like Paul Schrader’s remake of Cat People, The Hunger is such a film of the 80s that you half-expect someone to offer you a line coke while you’re watching it.  Also, like Cat People, it’s such a glorious tribute to excess that there’s no way you can’t watch it once it starts.  It’s hypnotic in its excess.

In The Hunger, our vampires are Miriam Blaylock (Catherine Deneuve) and her lover, John (David Bowie).  Miriam has been a vampire since at least the time of the ancient Egyptians.  Rather than sinking her fangs into the necks of her victims, Miriam uses an Ankh pendant to slit their throats.  John was once a cellist in 18th century France.  Now, they live in an expensive New York townhouse, where they teach classical music and occasionally murder anyone that they can convince to come up to see them.

When they first met, Miriam promised John that he would have eternal life but she didn’t promise him eternal youth.  Unfortunately, it takes 200 years for John to notice.  When he starts to rapidly age, he seeks out aging expert Dr. Sarah Roberts (Susan Sarandon) for help.  Though Dr. Roberts is originally dismissive of his claims, she is shocked to see John age several years in just an hour.

When an angry and desperate John kills the music student (Beth Ehlers) that Miriam was hoping to transform into her next lover, Miriam is forced to search elsewhere.  When Sarah shows up, searching for the man who aged years in an hour, Miriam feels that her search may be over.

As one might expect from a film directed by Tony Scott, The Hunger is an extremely stylish film, to the extent that the film’s story is often secondary to the way that Scott chooses to tell it.  The set design is so ornate and every scene is so precisely lit and shot and that, at times, the movie feels a bit like a commercial for vampirism.  It’s easy to imagine Britney Spears singing “Work Bitch” in the background of some of the scenes.  (“You want a hot body?  You want a Bugatti?  You Want a Maserati?  You better work vamp.”)  Throughout the film, New York glows like a neon wonderland while John and Miriam coolly look out over the world like 18th century French aristocrats who have no idea that they have a future date with the guillotine.  At times, it’s a film that becomes almost ludicrous in its celebration of grandeur and style.  One could imagine Jean Rollin telling the same story just as effectively while spending a lot less money.

And yet, it’s that very embrace of the over-the-top ludicrousness of it all that makes The Hunger a memorable film.  The film’s a tribute to excess, with an ending that falters precisely because it attempts to reject precisely what it’s spent the past hour and a half celebrating.  The Hunger doesn’t add up too much but its hypnotically stylish and well-acted by a cast who does their best to keep up with Tony Scott’s camera.

 

Lisa’s Early Oscar Nominations for August


It’s the time of the month again!

It’s time for me to share my early Oscar predictions!  With the Telluride and Venice Film Festivals currently underway, the Oscar picture does seem to be a little bit less murky.  But then again, we should remember that appearances can be deceiving.  Last year, at this time, most people were still expecting a First Man vs. Beale Street vs. A Star is Born Oscar race.

These predictions below take into account the reports that have been coming back from Telluride and Venice.  If you want to see how my thinking has evolved over the year, be sure to check out my predictions from January, February, March, April, May, June, and July!

And now, for what their worth, here are my predictions for August:

Best Picture

1917

A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood

The Farewell

Ford v Ferrari

Harriet

A Hidden Life

The Irishman

Little Women

Once Upon A Time In Hollywood

Waves

Best Director

Kasi Lemmons for Harriet

Terrence Malick for A HIdden Life

Sam Mendes for 1917

Trey Edward Shults for Waves

Martin Scorsese for The Irishman

Best Actor

Antonio Banderas in Pain & Glory

Leonardo DiCaprio in Once Upon A Time In Hollywood

Eddie Murphy in Dolemite is My Name

Joaquin Phoenix in Joker

Adam Sandler in Uncut Gems

Best Actress

Awkwafina in The Farewell

Cynthia Erivo in Harriet

Saoirse Ronan in Little Women

Alfre Woodard in Clemency

Renee Zellweger in Judy

Best Supporting Actor

Sterling K. Brown in Waves

Willem DaFoe in The Lighthouse

Anthony Hopkins in The Two Popes

John Lithgow in Bombshell

Brad Pitt in Once Upon A Time In Hollywood

Best Supporting Actress

Penelope Cruz in Pain & Glory

Scarlett Johansson in Jojo Rabbit

Nicole Kidman in The Goldfinch

Margot Robbie in Once Upon A Time In Hollywood

Zao Shuzhen in The Farewell

Here’s The Trailer For The Lighthouse!


So, I just finished watching the trailer for The Lighthouse and I am now officially excited!

Robert Eggers previously directed one of the best horror films in recent memory, The Witch.  Well, he’s back now with The Lighthouse, a black-and-white film about two men (Willem DaFoe and Robert Pattinson), one lighthouse, and one secret.  The trailer is wonderfully creepy and the black-and-white cinematography is gorgeous.  I can’t wait to see this film!

Here’s the trailer:

 

Lisa’s Too Early Oscar Predictions For May


It’s that time of the month again!

It’s time for me to offer up my early Oscar predictions!

These will be my first set of predictions since the Cannes Film Festival.  It’s always debatable just how much of an influence Cannes will actually have on the Oscar voting.  A victory at Cannes pretty much led to Tree of Life receiving an Oscar nomination and it certainly didn’t harm the chances of BlackKklansman last year.  While Once Upon A Time In Hollywood and Terrence Malick’s A Hidden Life may not have picked up any major awards at Cannes, the positive critical reception that both of those films received can only help.  The same can be said of The Lighthouse, which was shown out of competition.  Finally, the Cannes jury gave its best actor award to Antonio Banderas and, for now, that’s enough for me to add him to my list of predicted nominees.

So, without any further ado, here are my predictions for May!  If you want to see how my thinking has evolved over the year, be sure to also check out my predictions for January, February, March, and April!

Best Picture

1917

A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood

Fair and Balanced

The Goldfinch

Harriet

A Hidden Life

The Irishman

Jojo Rabbit

Little Women

Once Upon A Time In Hollywood

Best Director

Kasi Lemmons for Harriet

Terrence Malick for A Hidden Life

Sam Mendes for 1917

Martin Scorsese for The Irishman

Quentin Tarantino for Once Upon A Time In Hollywood

Best Actor

Antonio Banderas in Pain & Glory

Willem DaFoe in The Lighthouse

Leonardo DiCaprio in Once Upon A Time In Hollywood

Tom Hanks in A Beautiful Day In the Neighborhood

John Lithgow in Fair and Balanced

Best Actress

Amy Adams in The Woman in the Window

Cynthia Erivo in Harriet

Blake Lively in The Rhythm Section

Saoirse Ronan in Little Women

Alfre Woodard in Clemency

Best Supporting Actor

Matt Damon in Ford v. Ferrari

Malcolm McDowell in Fair and Balanced

Ian McKellen in Cats

Sam Neill in Blackbird

Brad Pitt in Once Upon A Time In Hollywood

Best Supporting Actress

Annette Bening in The Report

Laura Dern in Little Women

Scarlett Johansson in Jojo Rabbit

Nicole Kidman in The Goldfinch

Margot Robbie in Once Upon A Time In Hollywood

 

 

Lisa’s Way Too Early Oscar Predictions for February


Well, with the 2018 Oscars finally out of the way, we can now shift our focus to the 2019 race.

As of February, that race is totally cloudy.  The predictions below should be taken with a grain of salt because 1) they’re mostly wild guesses and 2) the Oscar race never starts to become clear until after the summer.  You could probably argue that doing predictions this early in the year is a pointless exercise but here we are!

Best Picture

A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood

Call of the Wild

Captain Marvel

Harriet

The Irishman

The Last Thing He Wanted

Little Women

Once Upon A Time In Hollywood

The Report

Toy Story 4

 

Best Director

Greta Gerwig for Little Women

Kassi Lemmons for Harriet

Chris Sanders for Call of the Wild

Martin Scorsese for The Irishman

Quentin Tarantino for Once Upon A Time In Hollywood

 

Best Actor

Christian Bale in Ford v Ferrari

Robert De Niro in The Irishman

Taron Egerton in Rocketman

Tom Hanks in A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood

Ian McKellen in The Good Liar

 

Best Actress

Amy Adams in The Woman In The Window

Cynthia Erivo in Harriet

Saoirse Ronan in Little Women

Emma Thompson in Late Night

Alfre Woodard in Clemency

 

Best Supporting Actor

Willem DaFoe in The Last Thing He Wanted

Matt Damon in Ford v Ferrari

Harrison Ford in Call of the Wild

Al Pacino in The Irishman

Brad Pitt in Once Upon A Time In Hollywood

 

Best Supporting Actress

Annette Bening in The Report

Nicole Kidman in The Goldfinch

Janelle Monae in Harriet

Margot Robbie in Once Upon A Time in Hollywood

Meryl Streep in Little Women

 

After checking out my pointless predictions for February, be sure to check out my even more pointless predictions for January!

The San Francisco Film Critics Have A Favourite


On Friday, the San Francisco Film Critics Circle announced their nominations for the best of 2018!  Leading the way with 9 nominations: The Favourite!

Winner will be announced on Sunday, December 9th.  Here are the nominations:

Best Picture

“BlacKkKlansman”
“The Favourite”
“First Reformed”
“If Beale Street Could Talk”
“Roma”

Best Director

Alfonso Cuarón, “Roma”
Barry Jenkins, “If Beale Street Could Talk”
Spike Lee, “BlacKkKlansman”
Yorgos Lanthimos, “The Favourite”
Paul Schrader, “First Reformed”

Best Actor

Christian Bale, “Vice”
Willem Dafoe, “At Eternity’s Gate”
Ethan Hawke, “First Reformed”
Rami Malek, “Bohemian Rhapsody”
Viggo Mortensen, “Green Book”

Best Actress

Yalitza Aparicio, “Roma”
Toni Collette, “Hereditary”
Olivia Colman, “The Favourite”
Lady Gaga, “A Star is Born”
Regina Hall, “Support the Girls”
Melissa McCarthy, “Can You Ever Forgive Me?”

Best Supporting Actor

Mahershala Ali, “Green Book”
Adam Driver, “BlacKkKlansman”
Richard E. Grant, “Can You Ever Forgive Me?”
Michael B. Jordan, Black Panther”
Russell Hornsby, “The Hate U Give”

Best Supporting Actress

Amy Adams, “Vice”
Regina King, “If Beale Street Could Talk”
Thomasin McKenzie, “Leave No Trace”
Emma Stone, “The Favourite”
Rachel Weisz, “The Favourite”

Best Screenplay, Original

Bo Burnham, “Eighth Grade”
Alfonso Cuarón, “Roma”
Deborah Davis, Tony McNamara, “The Favourite”
Adam McKay, “Vice”
Paul Schrader, “First Reformed”

Best Screenplay, Adapted

Ryan Coogler, Joe Robert Cole, “Black Panther”
Debra Granik, Anne Rosellini, “Leave No Trace”
Nicole Holofcener, Jeff Whitty, “Can You Ever Forgive Me?”
Barry Jenkins, “If Beale Street Could Talk”
Charlie Wachtel, David Rabinowitz, Kevin Willmott, Spike Lee, “BlacKkKlansman”

Best Cinematography

Alfonso Cuaron, “Roma”
James Laxton, “If Beale Street Could Talk”
Robbie Ryan, “The Favourite”
Linus Sandgren, “First Man”
Lukasz Zal, “Cold War”

Best Original Score

Terence Blanchard, “BlacKkKlansman”
Nicholas Britell, “If Beale Street Could Talk”
Alexandre Desplat, “Isle of Dogs”
Ludwig Göransson, “Black Panther”
Justin Hurwitz, “First Man”

Best Production Design

Hannah Beachler, “Black Panther”
Eugenio Caballero, “Roma”
Fiona Crombie, “The Favourite”
Nathan Crowley, “First Man”
Mark Friedberg, “If Beale Street Could Talk”
Paul Harrod, Adam Stockhausen, “Isle of Dogs”

Best Film Editing

Tom Cross, “First Man”
Yorgos Mavropsaridis, “The Favourite”
Eddie Hamilton, “Mission: Impossible – Fallout”
Bob Murawski, Orson Welles, “The Other Side of the Wind”
Alfonso Cuarón, Adam Gough, “Roma”

Best Animated Feature

“Incredibles 2”
“Isle of Dogs”
“Mirai”
“Ralph Breaks the Internet”
“Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse”

Best Foreign Language Film

“Burning”
“Cold War”
“Let the Sunshine In”
“Roma”
“Shoplifters”

Best Documentary

“Free Solo”
“Minding the Gap”
“Shirkers”
“Three Identical Strangers”
“Won’t You Be My Neighbor?”

The Circle also announced the three finalists for their annual Special Citation Award for under appreciated independent films:

  • “Chained for Life,” Aaron Schimberg’s playfully penetrating satire about onscreen representations of disability
  • “The Endless,” a genre-bending story of emotionally estranged brothers starring and directed by Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead
  • “Madeline’s Madeline,” Josephine Decker’s fluid collision of dream, reality and performance starring powerhouse newcomer Helena Howard

Some thoughts on the Golden Globe Nominations


Well, it happens every year.

The precursor season always starts with some unexpected winners and you start to think that maybe some of the year’s best indie films might be able to get some Oscar love.  This season, for instance, I was excited to see the attention being given to Eighth Grade and, to a lesser extent, First Reformed.  I was also excited to see that A Quiet Place and Black Panther were being remembered.

“Oh my God!” I thought, “Even if we already know that either Green Book or A Star is Born are going to win everything this year, the Oscar nominations could still be interesting!”

And then, as they do every year, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association had to come along and basically fuck everything up.  For some reason, the HFPA have become one of the biggest of the precursor awards.  Getting nominated for a Golden Globe is considered to be a major step for any Oscar contender.  Getting ignored by the Golden Globes is enough to knock a previously strong contender out of the contest.  Why is this?  I’m not sure.  The HFPA is a notorious bunch of star fuckers and it’s pretty much an open secret that almost anyone can buy a Golden Globe nomination if they’ve got enough money.  But, for some reason, the annually mediocre Golden Globe nominations carry a lot of weight in Hollywood.

Anyway, this year’s nominations pretty much ignored all of the cool indie films that have come out this year.  Elsie Fisher was nominated for Best Actress but otherwise, Eighth Grade was ignored.  First Reformed was nominated for nothing.  Hereditary was nominated for nothing.  I am happy to see that Black Panther was nominated.  That’s a step in the right direction in that film’s quest to be the first comic book movie to be nominated for best picture.

I guess what really bugs me is that Vice — a film that I have no desire to see — received the most nominations and is now definitely an Oscar contender.  I’ve been told that Vice is even more smug and shallow than The Big Short.  And now, I guess I have to see it.  AGONY!

Anyway, here are the nominees.  (Below are the film nominees.  For the TV nominees, click here.)

Best Motion Picture – Drama
Black Panther
BlacKkKlansman
Bohemian Rhapsody
If Beale Streat Could Talk
A Star Is Born

Best Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical
Crazy Rich Asians
The Favourite
Green Book
Mary Poppins Returns
Vice

Best Director
Bradley Cooper (A Star Is Born)
Alfonso Cuaron (Roma)
Peter Farrelly (Green Book)
Spike Lee (BlacKkKlansman)
Adam McKay (Vice)

Best Actor in a Motion Picture – Drama
Bradley Cooper (A Star Is Born)
Willem Dafoe (At Eternity’s Gate)
Lucas Hedges (Boy Erased)
Rami Malek (Bohemian Rhapsody)
John David Washington (BlacKkKlansman)

Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama
Glenn Close (The Wife)
Lady Gaga (A Star Is Born)
Nicole Kidman (Destroyer)
Melissa McCarthy (Can You Ever Forgive Me?)
Rosamund Pike (A Private War)

Best Actor in a Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical
Christian Bale (Vice)
Lin-Manuel Miranda (Mary Poppins Returns)
Viggo Mortensen (Green Book)
Robert Redford (The Old Man & the Gun)
John C. Reilly (Stan & Ollie)

Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical
Emily Blunt (Mary Poppins Returns)
Olivia Colman (The Favourite)
Elsie Fisher (Eighth Grade)
Charlize Theron (Tully)
Constance Wu (Crazy Rich Asians)

Best Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture
Mahershala Ali (Green Book)
Timothée Chalamet (Beautiful Boy)
Adam Driver (BlacKkKlansman)
Richard E. Grant (Can You Ever Forgive Me?)
Sam Rockwell (Vice)

Best Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture
Amy Adams (Vice)
Claire Foy (First Man)
Regina King (If Beale Street Could Talk)
Emma Stone (The Favourite)
Rachel Weisz (The Favourite)

Best Screenplay
Alfonso Cuaron (Roma)
Deborah Davis and Tony McNamara (The Favourite)
Barry Jenkins (If Beale Street Could Talk)
Adam McKay (Vice)
Peter Farrelly, Nick Vallelonga, Brian Currie (Green Book)

Best Score
Marco Beltrami (A Quiet Place)
Alexandre Desplat (Isle of Dogs)
Ludwig Göransson (Black Panther)
Justin Hurwitz (First Man)
Marc Shaiman (Mary Poppins Returns)

Best Original Song
“All the Stars” (Black Panther)
“Girl in the Movies” (Dumplin’)
“Requiem For A Private War” (A Private War)
“Revelation’ (Boy Erased)
“Shallow” (A Star Is Born)

Best Motion Picture – Animated
Incredibles 2
Isle of Dogs
Mirai
Ralph Breaks the Internet
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

Best Motion Picture – Foreign Language
Capernaum (Lebanon)
Girl (Belgium)
Never Look Away (Germany)
Roma (Mexico)
Shoplifters (Japan)