Starring: Chloe Grace Moretz, Julianne Moore, Gabriella Wilde - Dir: Kimberly Peirce
Even after nearly every horror film from the seventies has been remade – generally in mediocre fashion – the bar for Carrie is a bit higher, in part due to the (relatively) superior source material and in part because director Peirce (Boys Don't Cry) is at the helm, suggesting a serious and different treatment from Brian De Palma's luridly impressive original.
And, while undoubtedly enjoyable, what's surprising then is that this remake does so little to make the film anything other than a competent retread. The only new thing brought to the party is that kids now have cellphones, not exactly a ground-breaking reveal.
Other than that this never matches the original's many strengths, be it De Palma's superb choreography of mayhem, the blood and religious subtext, the quirky cast (an early outing for John Travolta and turns from Amy Irving and Nancy Allen) or the “final shock” ending that was copied by every horror film for the next two decades. Even Julianne Moore – excellent as always – can do little to live up to Piper Laurie's gloriously deranged take on Carrie's mother.
But the biggest problem is more central. I think Chloe Grace Moretz is fantastic, but it's hard not to notice that she's totally miscast here. The original's Sissy Spacek was heartbreakingly vulnerable and subtly odd. Moretz is...well she's Hit Girl for a start and it's just impossible not to think that she could just beat the crap out of anyone here annoying her.
Enders Game is a tricky proposition – space action but based on books with considerable moral complexity. It sits in the same general territory as Starship Troopers: there are giant bugs out there in space and we've got to train our young folk to kill them before they kill us. But the young folk are younger this time, 14-ish, since at that age they have better reactions and can be more easily trained. It's a good effort – there's some cool sci-fi stuff on display – and while it pulls back from the more difficult issues raised, at least they're raised.
Since the success of Trainspotting, Irvine Welsh books have proved tricky to realise on the big screen. Filth partly balances the ledger by plunging wildly over the top and, in its crooked central cop – a man who would give Harvey Keitel's Bad Lieutenant a run for his money – finally shows that James McAvoy can play a grown-up role without resorting to cuteness. He plays corrupt and bigoted Bruce Robertson, working on a murder case, trying to ruin his colleagues to gain promotion, and struggling with a drug habit and his sanity. An ending involving tears is not unpredictable.
Writer (Juno) and now director Diablo Cody brings her unique sense of off-kilter humour to Paradise. Trapped in ultra-small town Montana, Lamb Mannerheim suffers terrible burns in an accident and then uses the insurance money to head to Vegas – having scandalised town with her “progressive” views – and wallow in life's previously unavailable temptations. Luckily, Russell Brand and Octavia Spencer are on hand to help. Like its heroine the film is alternately sassy and sweet and occasionally overly sentimental. But it's likeable enough – a fish out of water coming of age tale.
I found the recent Prisoners, in which a father abducts and tortures the man who might have kidnapped his daughter to be pretty depressing stuff. But that at least contained broader social comment on intergenerational damage. Daddy's Little Girl is Australian, similarly-themed, leaner, meaner and even bleaker, and only engaged with the “what would you do?” aspect of things as likeable everyman Derek finds himself in a position to exact revenge on his daughter's abductor. Do you call the police or, you know, slowly torture someone to death? Clue: there's an R18 warning for “torture and sadistic violence”.
Friday, February 24, 2017