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Public Enemies

Public Enemies on Blu-Ray
Like David Fincher and Robert Rodriguez, Michael Mann has embraced HD, having utilized the format for three films. The transfer to blu-ray, a native hd format, is stunning, perfectly rendering the film's muted, contrasty cinematography. I would STRONGLY RECOMMEND investing the extra few bucks for the blu disc. It's one of the better editions out there.

The movie itself is one of the more engaging historical crime films. While taking liberties with certain facts, the central hunter/ quarry conflict propels the movie forward at a blistering pace, making the more mundane, expository passages forgivable. Similar to his other offerings, Mann's action sequences are sure-handed and tense, relying more on traditional film technique than the frenetic Paul Greengrass style. The performances are strong. Depp's portrayal of Dillinger stands out as both complex and quirky, imbuing the character with a charm that makes the audience invest in him completely.

Public Enemies stands out as the most precise and entertaining telling of the Dillinger story thus far.


When I saw the preview on vod I expected a standard low-budget, high-cheese distraction. Like most people, I enjoy the occasional bad movie. Surprisingly, what I got was possibly the oddest slasher film I've ever seen.

The film begins with a mentally ill young woman (a smoldering performance by newcomer Christena Doggrell) and her boyfriend (Jack Reiling) going to a secluded estate for a little r & r. There is an inciting incident that is the quirkiest gear shifter you'll see in a horror film all year (not to mention possibly the most brutal "cat scare" in horror movie history).

We then have some nicely acted and tense scenes, lush exterior photography that beautifully captures the autumn vistas, and a trip to the cemetery that yields a fairly severe sex/ murder scene in the form of a flashback. There's also a bit of self- destructive behavior by the troubled protagonist that had the girl I was watching it with squirming on her lazy-boy.

The second and third acts are remarkably low-key and tense. The movie often veers off into territory you wouldn't expect from a flick about a killer in a clown mask and trench coat.

On the downside, the film isn't nearly graphic enough for the modern slasher fan, and the otherwise solid photography suffers from excess grain that makes the image a tad soft (I'm pretty sure this was shot on 16mm, an anomaly in the digital age). The meager budget often reveals itself, particularly in the effects, which are presented mostly in quick edits, indicating that not a lot of money went to the make-up department.

Still, Intruder stands out as a cut above the direct to cable/DVD stuff you typically come across. It has a powerful undercurrent and a sure - handedness about itself that impressed me. And the shock ending is the kind that doesn't hit you until after the credits start to roll.


It's discouraging that a listless film like Bane got solid festival play. The film is easily the most meandering, pointless horror movie I've seen in a long time. The filmmakers deserve kudos for managing to screw up an intriguing concept, which involves a bunch of women waking up in a test facility with no memory of how they got there. The viewer is intentionally kept in the dark about what the heck is going on, presumably to help ratchet up the tension, but the approach only works when the plot - what's actually happening - is fun and interesting to watch. Instead, we get scene after poorly acted scene of the women freaking out about their ordeal, being interviewed with electrodes on their temples, undergoing various torturous experiments that are neither scary nor particularly intricate, and being stalked by a robed figure that the producers aped from Hostel. Sound intriguing? Believe me it's not. The film also suffers from taking place (mostly) in a visually dull environment comprised of austere corridors, all of which are lit the exact same way. It gets very tiresome, very fast. Avoid.

Drifter: Henry Lee Lucas

Painfully weak... (possible minor spoilers)
I'm a big supporter of the indie-film, but movies like "drifter" make me despair. There's very little to like here. You have two very attractive male actors playing the two grossest, most inbred serial killers in the murder encyclopedia, weak production values (including a hysterical movie theatre set replete with folding chairs (!) ), a meandering script that ineffectively cuts back and forth between henry's upbringing and his adult killing spree, and kill scenes that wouldn't rival your garden variety lifetime network film.

The director comments on the ac track that the film was written and filmed on an extremely tight schedule. It shows. "Drifter" is little more than video store shelf filler.


Ignore the flamers, RZ's remake is first rate
Rob Zombie's Halloween is perhaps the most misunderstood of horror remakes/ re-imaginings/ recyclings because Hollywood can't come up with any new ideas/ whatever. Similar to his other works, he creates a sympathetic portrait of a despicable character, while answering some long asked questions. For example, the moment when Danny Treijo advises young Michael to "live inside your head", finally offers a tangible reason why the hulking killer archetype is silent and seemingly in his own world. Further, by reconceptualizing the shape as a 6-10 hulk, we as the audience can now accept his invincibility. Lastly, giving Michael a different motivation than the other films in the franchise makes him simultaneously sympathetic and more threatening. And if you pay close attention to the third act plot you'll notice that Michael is - essentially - restaging the events of his formative trauma, from the murder of the promiscuous teen in his sister's old bedroom, right down to watching the same movie he saw on the night of the original halloween murders. RZ's Halloween is quirky and deceptively smart for a slasher film.

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