Danny Boyle’s dreamland
psycho-thriller ;Trance ;elevates ;plot-knotting
mind games ;to a delirious new level. It would be wrong to say
too much about the story’s ever-deepening complications, and
difficult to do so in any case. Let’s just say this:
James McAvoy plays Simon, an employee at a London fine-art
auction house. One day a Goya painting called “Witches in the Air”
– pointedly featuring a man groping about blindly with a sheet over
his head – draws a winning bid of more than $40-million. At just
this moment, a group of what I suppose would have to be called art
thugs bursts into the auction room, led by the decidedly
un-thuglike Franck (Vincent Cassel – throw a sporty scarf on him
and he’d fit right into an Hermès ad). As tear-gas canisters roll
across the floor, Simon grabs the Goya and runs off to hide it
downstairs. When Franck eventually confronts him, there’s a tussle;
Simon gets knocked on the head, and when he awakes from a coma in
the hospital a few days later, he has no recollection of where he
hid the painting.
Then we learn that Simon was in on the theft. And
now that he’s claiming not to recall the painting’s current
location, Franck – after expressing his displeasure in a most
painful way — decides to take him to a hypnotherapist, a woman
named Elizabeth (Rosario Dawson), to recover his buried memory.
Simon wears a wire to her office so that Franck can monitor their
sessions from a car outside. But Elizabeth soon intuits this, and
she soon gets to know Franck, too. And being the movie’s designated
femme fatal, she has a deadly backstabbing agenda of her own.
; ; ;
That’ll have to do. As Simon drifts into his hypnotic trances,
the movie becomes a disorienting swirl of dreams and confusions.
There’s a red car driven by a mysterious young woman, and a room
full of “lost” paintings by Rembrandt, Degas, Manet and Van Gogh.
(These works, recreated here, actually are lost — stolen from a
Boston museum in 1990, they’ve never been recovered.) There’s also
some tricky business with an iPad, a few thoughts about the absence
of pubic hair in classical paintings, and a startlingly blunt
moment of full-frontal nudity.
Is Simon losing his mind? Are we losing ours? Or was Boyle, who
made the movie while planning his spectacular opening ceremony for
last summer’s London Olympics, just heavily frazzled himself? The
film’s original script, by Joe Ahearne, had been turned into a
British TV movie in 2001. Boyle, who had long had his eye on the
property, brought in his longtime collaborator John Hodge to punch
it up. By the time the story reaches its giddy conclusion, we too
have been expertly worked over.
With all of its flashbacks and fakeouts, the movie could be said
to be wildly over-determined, or maybe just silly. But it has
propulsive energy, and a gorgeous look. (Some of cinematographer
Anthony Dod Mantle’s elegant shots are composed like paintings
themselves.) Is it all too much? Maybe. Is that such a bad
thing? ; ; ;
This exercise in classical
blood-bath monotony certainly does its grisly job, but little more.
Evil Dead is a remake of The Evil Dead, the
micro-budget 1981 horror movie that launched Sam Raimi as a
director and his star, Bruce Campbell, as an enduring cult
personage. The new film tweaks the original story a bit; but while
it offers a full complement of updated shocks, there are no
surprises. What we have here, more than anything else, is a tribute
to a much-admired classic whose arterial tropes have long since
saturated the fright-flick genre. ; ;
Raimi and Campbell, who also collaborated on two earlier sequels
to the first movie, are producers here; directorial duties have
been handed off to Uruguayan filmmaker Fede Alvarez, who drew much
notice with his 2009 giant-robot short, Panic Attack! The
script is by Alvarez and his writing partner, Rodo Sayagues, with
Diablo Cody, of all people, tiptoeing in to impart an authentic
youth-of-today tang to the dialogue. (Props to her, presumably, for
“I just don’t wanna become the Devil’s bitch!”)
The picture begins with a gruesome prologue, which is new. But
then, as in the original picture, we see a group of friends – two
guys, three girls again – arriving at a gloomy cabin in the woods.
The unsuspecting youths aren’t on vacation this time; Mia (Jane
Levy) has come to quick-kick a drug habit with support from her
brother, David (Shiloh Fernandez); his girlfriend, a dithery doctor
named Natalie (Elizabeth Blackmore); his nervous pal Eric (Lou
Taylor Pucci); and a young nurse, Olivia (Jessica Lucas), who has
brought along some meds and a syringe, which will come in handy.
(Arrange these characters’ first-name initials in a certain order
and you get a rather Raimi-esque joke.)
Inside the cabin, once again, is an evil book that’s very much
like the ancient Sumerian relic in the first film, which you’ll
recall was written in blood and bound in human skin. The new tome
is similarly ghastly, and it has a warning scrawled inside: “Leave
this book alone.” Naturally, the scholarly Eric ignores that, and
soon realizes that this foul text is an instrument for summoning
demons. Very quickly the young visitors begin to morph into
cackling, slobbery horrors. Anyone who’s seen the original Evil
Dead will already know all this, and will be hanging around
mainly in hope of fresh new gross-outs.
And there are indeed several. The attack of the killer vines in
a forest is a reprise of a famous Raimi scene, but later there’s a
power-saw-to-the-face shot that’s pretty amusing. And along with
much squirty dismemberment, there’s a drool-soaked scene that gives
new meaning to the phrase “speaks with forked tongue.”
Unfortunately – well, depending on your taste in these things –
there are also a nail-gun assault and a crowbar beating that push
the movie right up to the edge of torture porn.
It never really crosses that line, though. The film’s inventory
of nouveau bloody jolts simply illustrates how far we’ve traveled
down the road of pop Guignol since 1981. And director Alvarez has a
fanboy flair for this stuff. His lurid lighting is dismal in the
grand tradition, and his rejection of CGI in favor of old-fashioned
practical effects allows him to approach vintage cheesiness as a
style, even though it’s no longer a necessity. But he’s constrained
at every turn by the need to replicate a brand-name property whose
groundbreaking days are long past. Gorehounds may flock to this
picture, but will they still be buzzing about it 32 years from
now? ; ; ; ; ; ; ; …
Danny Boyle’s dreamland
At least 300 students marched towards the election board’sheadquarters in central Caracas to demand that the government notinterfere in politics and to request that the electoral commissioneliminate requirements that voters have their fingerprints recordedbefore voting. Students rallied carrying signs including “Freeand fair elections” and “Nicolas is a liar” – referringto Chavez’s hand-picked successor, Nicolas Maduro.They encountered over a hundred Chavez supporters, who beganhurling stones, bottles and eggs at them after which fistfightsbroke out.The students surrounded by splinter groups of Chavez supporterswere trapped, as nearby side streets were blocked. “It’shorrible, they’re attacking us,” said 19-year-old student BorisWalcheff.Police fired three canisters of tear gas and used plasticbullets on government supporters to disperse the crowd, forming acordon between the two sides. No casualties were reported.The unrest comes ahead of an April 14 vote to replace the latePresident Hugo Chavez, who died from cancer two weeks ago after aprotracted treatment in Cuba. The acting president Nicolas Madurowas named as a preferable successor by Chavez before he died.Maduro promises to continue the late president’s radical socialismin Venezuela. His opponent, Henrique Capriles is the leadingopposition candidate, who lost to Chavez in the previouselection.Capriles, who unlike Chavez and Maduro comes from a wealthyfamily of businessmen, is a free market proponent and disapprovesof the regulation of the economy as practiced by Chavez. If hetakes office, Capriles is also expected to change Venezuelanforeign policy dramatically, possibly strengthening relations withthe US.In the most recent Venezuelan election last October, Caprilesgot 44 per cent of the vote, giving Chavez a close shave – theincumbent winning with 54 per cent.The ongoing campaign has been marked by an unpleasantatmosphere, with both sides trading bitter personal accusations asthey rally supporters for the vote. …
Just as U.S.-made tear gas was used against protesters by Egyptian security forces under Hosni Mubarak, the U.S. government continues to permit hundreds of thousands of canisters to imported to Egypt for profligate use under Mohammed Morsi.
“In January, the Interior Ministry ordered the import of 140,000 teargas canisters from the United States,” Egypt Independent reported this week. According to the English-language publication, a memo from the Egyptian police’s Major General Magdy al-Gohary indicated that the U.S. government only okayed the permit for the tear gas import when “the company’s name and country of origin” were removed from the canisters. During the Arab Spring, pictures from Tahrir Square of empty canister brandished with “made in the USA” logos garnered viral attention and international outrage as protesters reportedly suffocated in excessive tear gas fumes and were directly struck by canisters.
Egypt Independent cited the Major General’s memo as reading:
I grew up in an affluent, mind-warpingly dull town in suburban Connecticut. On a quest for some kind of meaning, as a cure for boredom, as a substitute for genuine rebellion, as a panacea for adolescent angst or premature clichéd bourgeoisie alienation, my friend J and I made a habit of imbibing a cornucopia of mind-bending Substances.Weekends were spent smoking filched cigarettes at the mall. We chugged medicinal cherry red cough syrup, which I can still somehow taste in the back of my mouth. On one particularly desperate day we took turns trying to inhale smoke from a burning cone of incense. We ordered pure DXM powder (the active ingredient in cough syrup and a potent dissociative) from a vendor of bulk research chemicals. It arrived from Hong Kong in a sealed plastic baggie stamped “NOT FOR HUMAN CONSUMPTION” and was tucked into the pages of what looked like a Chinese glamour magazine. We ordered painkillers from Habeeb—a guy we found on a now-defunct forum dedicated to reviewing various international pharmacies. We bought Salvia Divinorum extract and tiny silver canisters of compressed laughing gas, as well as various research chemicals: 2C-I, 2C-E, 2C-B. I insufflated—snorted—a miniscule amount of 2C-I and saw the ceiling tiles in my friend’s basement swarm with ants.Continue Reading… …
Brooklyn, NY – It was mayhem yesterday afternoon at the Hess Gas
Station at 4th Avenue and Union Street, where drivers waited in
line for more than six hours to fill up their tanks. A separate
line of customers on foot wrapped around the block inching red gas
canisters up the sidewalk. The police were on the scene bringing
justice to the line cutters.
Brandon Shamell, who transports handicapped customers for
Countrywide, Inc., was standing off to the side observing the
scene. “We’re not going to be able to pick people up on Monday,”
says Shamell. “Gas is more important than food right now.”
Lillian Rodriguez, who owns Family Car Service, spent the day in
line in a battle to keep her drivers on the road. “I’ve been here
since 6:43 [in the morning], making the line over and over again.
And I will do that for as long as I can.”
So why does it look
1973 all over again at gas stations throughout New York and New
Jersey? Hurricane Sandy knocked power out to New Jersey’s gas
refineries, causing shortages throughout the region. Govs. Chris
Christie and Andrew Cuomo responded by doing exactly the wrong
thing: They threatened to prosecute any station owners caught
raising prices, thus removing any incentive to truck more gas in
from other parts of the country.
Thanks to a cadre of small businessmen, though, Brooklyn
residents have an alternative to spending all day in line. One man,
who asked to remain anonymous, said that he was waiting in line
over and over again and then selling gas across the street from the
station at a 200 percent mark-up. “A lot of people honestly don’t
want to wait three hours, you know? It’s happening at every gas
station.” He estimated that about half the people in line were in
the resale business.
Recently at Reason.com, Anthony Randazzo
made the case for price gouging to a skeptical cabbie,
explained why “surge pricing” in taxis helps provide a crucial
service to a “storm-weary populace,” and Nick Gillespie outlined
Stupid Responses to Hurricane Sandy – and Every Other Disaster You
Can Remember.” ;
About 1.45 minutes.
Produced by Jim Epstein, who also narrates.
Subscribe to Reason TV’s YouTube Channel to receive automatic
updates when new material goes live.
Nearly 500 canisters of illegal tear gas made in China and hidden inside innocent-looking lighters and lipsticks have been seized by Swiss customs, authorities said Wednesday. Michel Bachar, spokesman for the customs service, said officers at Geneva airport uncovered the canisters after they grew…