Monthly Archives: March 2014

“He’ll Kill You, Too:” How Blood Simple uses slasher movie techniques to create tension and suspense

It opens on a black screen, as on the soundtrack we hear a low, guttural humming and the wind howling. The effect creates an instant uneasiness, a feeling of dread that will grow as the film progresses. We then cut to the opening shot of an empty stretch of highway; on the left side of […]

Opening Scenes: American Hustle

     (SPOILER ALERT! IF YOU HAVE NOT SEEN THE FILM AMERICAN HUSTLE, YOU MIGHT WANT TO WAIT TO READ THIS UNTIL THEN. IN THE FOLLOWING PIECE, I WILL TALK ABOUT THE OPENING SCENE IN GREAT DETAIL.) The great film critic Jim Emerson once wrote that “any good movie — heck, even the occasional bad […]

Muppets Most Wanted

      If 2011’s The Muppets was the first chapter in a new franchise; then it’s fair to say that Muppets Most Wanted, the latest film starring the late, great Jim Henson’s lovable, manic creations, is this generation’s The Great Muppet Caper. Not only are they both the second film in their respective series […]

The Grand Budapest Hotel

Like the wonderful, magical Ernst Lubitsch comedies of the thirties and forties, The Grand Budapest Hotel has a ethereal quality to it. It feels like it belongs to another time, long ago. There’s a fond nostalgia of that begone era, but also a melancholy and sadness about the past. It’s a farce, a comedy of […]

Gerry

     To describe the plot of Gerry is an exercise in futility, two dudes get lost and wander around for two hours. That’s it. Oh, I forgot the opening, which is a tracking shot of a car that goes on for a couple of minutes, followed by a tracking shot of the passengers of […]

The Secret of Roan Inish

     John Sayles is one of the greatest living writer/directors, and yet he remains, to many movie audiences, a well-kept secret. Maybe it’s partly because of how truly independent his movies are. The films he makes are exactly they way he has envisioned them, with no studio interference. He has made so many great […]

Movie Trends: Mirrors of Death!!!

The other day, when I was watching all the lousy previews before a really mediocre movie (the 300 sequel), I noticed a bizarre pattern of movies involving an evil mirror. The first was for a movie called Oculus, which looks to be about a malicious mirror that causes hallucinations, murders people and frames little boys […]