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Poster Lab: Carrie

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Poster Lab: <em>Carrie</em>
Poster Lab: <em>Carrie</em>

The new Carrie won’t be set loose until March of 2013, but MGM and Screen Gems have already boxed and shipped the film’s promotional package, just in time for trick-or-treat season. By now, most have likely seen the movie’s teaser trailer, which suggests a lot more epic destruction than what was found in Brian De Palma’s original. Also newly unveiled is the remake’s first poster, a cool little blood-soaked gem that comes with its own foreboding promise.

It’s a great new design to hang at a film buff’s Halloween party, and it ably evokes the famed image that heralded Carrie 1.0. The blessing and curse of the poster—and, by extension, the film itself—is Chloë Grace Moretz’s ever-blooming beauty. It shines its way through all that caked-on plasma, and it makes the one-sheet a bit of haunting symmetry that’s stylish beyond its ultra-iconic subject. Still, Moretz hardly has the gangly awkwardness of a 27-year-old Sissy Spacek, and she’s not exactly plausible as a meek outcast. More than anything, this image gives a major boost to the growing Moretz brand, which sells the (still just!) 15-year-old starlet as a princess who flips the bird at sugar and spice.

15 Famous Movie Bullies

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15 Famous Movie Bullies
15 Famous Movie Bullies

Serving as the latest bit of evidence that a camera, a cause, and a whole lot of headline-friendly promotion can net unwarranted prestige, the Harvey Weinstein-backed Bully begins its nationwide rollout this weekend, its demand to be liked carrying an ironic whiff of oppression. From the schoolyard to the psych ward, the bully was a cinematic staple well before becoming a hot-button news topic, and we’ve got examples to prove it. The meanies in Lee Hirsch’s new doc may commit acts of school-bus terrorism, but they’d cower to these soul-crushing jerks.

The Conversations: Terrence Malick Part I

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The Conversations: Terrence Malick Part I
The Conversations: Terrence Malick Part I

“Think of a tree, how it grows round its roots. If a branch breaks off, it don’t stop but keeps reaching toward the light.”

Jason Bellamy: Terrence Malick’s next film, due soon in theaters, is called The Tree of Life, and coincidentally or not it is set up by the final shot of Malick’s previous film, The New World. In both the theatrical and extended cuts of that 2005 film, Malick closes with a shot at the base of a tree: gazing up the side of its mighty trunk as it stretches heavenward. It’s a quintessentially Malickian shot, both in terms of the camera’s intimacy to its subject and in the way that it presents nature with a spiritual awe, as if the tree’s branches are the flying buttresses of a grand cathedral. But the reason I mention that shot is so I can begin this discussion by acknowledging its roots. We’ve been regular contributors to The House Next Door for almost two-and-a-half years now, and, as loyal House readers know, Terrence Malick’s The New World is the seed from which this blog sprouted. What began in Janurary 2006 as Matt Zoller Seitz’s attempt to find enough cyber real estate in which to freely explore his passion for The New World—a rather Malickian quest, if you think about it—became something much bigger, until now here we are: writing about the filmmaker without whom this blog and thus this series might not exist.

I make that acknowledgement en route to this one: By the very nature of its origins, The House Next Door has always been something of an unofficial Terrence Malick fan club—nay, house of worship. Many of us first gathered at this site because of this subject matter. (Any immediate kinship many of us felt with Matt was inspired by a shared religious experience with The New World, not to mention the holy awakening of seeing serious criticism posted to the Web by amateur means.) I make this observation in the interest of full disclosure—less an acknowledgement of the House’s origins, which so many of its readers know already, than an indication of my awareness of it—in the hopes that by doing so I can convince the Malick nonbelievers that they are welcome here. Because, see, Malick is one of those filmmakers who seems to inspire two reactions: genuflecting reverence and head-scratching ennui. Is there room between the two? Or are total immersion and deference to Malick’s filmmaking elemental to its effect? In Part I of this discussion, we will look at Malick’s first four films, Badlands (1973), Days of Heaven (1978), The Thin Red Line (1998) and The New World (the theatrical cut), and what I hope we begin to uncover is why Malick’s filmmaking inspires such divergent reactions.

I am, admittedly, a singer in Malick’s choir. His films don’t move me equally, but when they do move me I’m profoundly affected. You come into this conversation having just watched most of Malick’s films for the first time. So let me ask a question that will cause the Malick agnostics to roll their eyes and the Malick believers to raise their hands to the sky like Pocahontas in The New World: Did Malick’s filmmaking inspire you with a unique sense of awe, or do you feel like you’re on the outside looking in, or something else?

A Movie a Day, Day 61: Get Low

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A Movie a Day, Day 61: <em>Get Low</em>
A Movie a Day, Day 61: <em>Get Low</em>

I spent a few years in Knoxville, Tennessee, and I love Robert Duvall and Sissy Spacek, so I was eager to see Get Low in spite of a trailer that looked sappy and sanctimonious. Duvall plays Felix, an old coot who’s been holed up in a log cabin in East Tennessee for decades. He’s nursing a secret that half the people in the county, including his old girlfriend (Spacek), would love to hear. The twist is that Felix is planning his own funeral, which he wants to host while he’s alive so he can hear the stories people have been making up about him. That’s something I’d pay to see, though I didn’t have to thanks to a press screening last night (it opens in two weeks).

Get Low wanders off and gets temporarily lost in a couple dead ends (is Felix really near death or not? What are his plans for that casket full of cash that he makes the funeral director keep for him?), but the story I just laid out, which you get from the trailer, is basically the whole movie. And it would have been plenty, if only I could have believed that these people would have behaved in that way.

Worst Best Actress, & Best

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Worst Best Actress, & Best
Worst Best Actress, & Best

This isn’t Oscar time. It’s Ed time. Edward Copeland, that is.

Last year, the film blogger, House contributor and compulsive list-checker and poll-taker asked readers to submit their choices for the Worst Best Picture winner of all time; then, for karmic balance, he followed up with a poll of the Best Best Picture winners.

This time, Ed’s running a dual poll of the Best Best Actress winners, and the Worst. He’s asking for just five candidates in each category—and to save you the trouble of Googling, he’s helpfully supplied chronological winners lists right there in each post.

Ed’s instructions: “Rank both your best best actress and your worst best actress choices from 1-5, with 1 being the best, 5 the worst. Each No. 1 vote will get 5 points, No. 2 votes will get 4 points, etc. I will unveil the results on the eve of Oscar nominations, which this year will be Tuesday, Jan. 23, so the deadline for ballots will be midnight Friday, Jan. 19., central time. Send your ballots to copesurvey@yahoo.com Since I’ve heard some confusion, I want to clarify the ranking. Both the best and the worst lists’ rankings work the same: Give your best best No. 1, give your worst worst No. 1. Keep going down with the slightly less good and slightly less bad for your top 5 in each category.”

Here’s my ballot, which I’ve already sent to Ed.