Charles S. Dutton (#110 of 3)

Ripley’s Got a Death Drive Alien³ at 25

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Ripley’s Got a Death Drive: Alien³ at 25

20th Century Fox

Ripley’s Got a Death Drive: Alien³ at 25

David Fincher’s Alien³ may be the only film ever made to peak with its logo. As the 20th Century Fox fanfare crescendos over the studio’s familiar logo, the music holds on the minor chord before the usual last note, replacing jubilant bombast with a dissonant groan of strings. The alteration produces an immediate sense of discomfort and unease, setting the tone for something ominous and fearsome. It’s an ingenious shot across the bow from Fincher, ushering in a feature career dotted with immaculately ordered, carefully scored works of blockbuster entertainment that veered from audience-pleasing major keys to their grim underbellies.

The perversion of the Fox theme epitomizes a succinct grasp of horror that only occasionally surfaces in the film proper. Too often, Alien³ shows its seams, whether in its thematic arc or the design of the xenomorph, and at not even two hours it still feels weighed down by unnecessary exposition and padded suspense scenes. But blame for much of this cannot fall at one person’s feet, as the film was notoriously the product of years of production hell that saw the studio soliciting wildly different drafts from writers including (but not limited to) cyberpunk author William Gibson, writer-director Vincent Ward, and producer/filmmaker Walter Hill. Eventually, ideas from each version found their way into a Frankenstein monster of a shooting script, one further plagued by endless on-set rewrites that left Fincher so exasperated that even Fox’s officially released behind-the-scenes footage shows the director railing against the pressures of the studio’s poorly planned project.

Los Angeles Film Festival 2012: Sister, LUV, & Bunohan

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Los Angeles Film Festival 2012: <em>Sister</em>, <em>LUV</em>, & <em>Bunohan</em>
Los Angeles Film Festival 2012: <em>Sister</em>, <em>LUV</em>, & <em>Bunohan</em>

Part of the international showcase at this year's Los Angeles Film Festival, Ursula Meier's Sister is another meditation on the viewpoint of children in an alienating adult world. Some of the other festival films I've previously discussed present that notion of childhood subjectivity within the framework of the child's parents or elders; we're with the child and perceive how they see those adults. From the child's reaction we can see the person they are and person they'll become. This Swiss film initially follows a different tack, finding a child outside of that framework and perceiving the nuances and interiority of a childhood spent in isolation.

We first encounter 12-year-old Simon (Kacey Mottet Klein) on a typical day at work, artfully dodging his way through crowds at a high-priced ski resort, pilfering skis and gear and even food. The observational camera follows his process, the routine and the detail. He's an expert, even knowing how to restore and repair the equipment to up their resale value. He carries the air of a professional, understanding that no one's paying enough attention to stop him. When one of his neighborhood clients asks how he's able to just walk away with the stuff, Simon shrugs. “They don't miss them. They just go and buy new ones,” he explains. In his eyes, these tourists see their belongings as mere things; to Simon, they're his means of survival.

White Elephant Blogathon: Surviving the Game

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White Elephant Blogathon: <em>Surviving the Game</em>
White Elephant Blogathon: <em>Surviving the Game</em>

[This is a submission to the White Elephant blogathon called by Silly Hats Only.]

Submitting Surviving the Game for the White Elephant blogathon is like giving an unwieldy lump of coal to a child on Christmas day: As malicious gestures go, it's a doozy. Yet another remake of The Most Dangerous Game, Surviving the Game is sadly only a little bugfuck crazy and largely just obnoxious and boring. It's bad enough that screenwriter Eric Bernt (Bachelor Party Vegas, Highlander: Endgame) doesn't know how to make his stock plot about a homeless man that gets hunted for sport by a group of crazy, rich guys relatable or recognizably human. What's worse is that director Ernest R. Dickerson (Tales from the Crypt: Demon Knight, Bulletproof) has absolutely no eye for spectacle. He makes violence seem almost anathema to his vision of even though he's remaking a movie where human beings are treated like animals for the amusement of others.