The Precious Snowflake Guide to Crimson Peak

Allerdale Hall
Allerdale Hall, nightmare of building code inspectors worldwide.

Tom Hiddleston likes to make my┬álife difficult, it seems. I mean, I’m not a huge fan of horror movies, but here he goes, making a horror movie directed by Guillermo del Toro. It’s like he wants me to have nightmares, because obviously I have to see it. If you’re in the same boat, but also hate horror movies, read on. Maybe knowing what’s coming will make the experience more fun?

But in all seriousness, CRIMSON PEAK is not that scary. It’s a stunningly beautiful film, full of delightfully gothic-gory details (the walls are bleeding, but it’s ok, it’s just clay… right?), and really comes alive in the IMAX version I saw (seriously, go see it in IMAX). And Thomas Sharpe is the kind of character Hiddleston excels at: a Victorian Loki, charming and seemingly sweet, with dark secrets and an essentially good heart. Totally worth the scary movie.

In a mostly spoiler-free summary, the horror is basic: things go quiet before a loud scary noise, so it’s easy to tell when you’re about to flinch. If you’re me, you still flinch, because loud scary noise, but the sound design prepares you for most of the jumpy moments. And most of the truly gory moments are brief, and don’t dwell on the gore. Overall, it’s less gory that, say, UNDERWORLD, and with a much better plot.

SPOILERS AHEAD Continue reading

The Martian

themartianThe Martian is fine. It’s fine. Just fine. It’s not the movie’s fault that I am quite hardened and like a darker, grittier, more unpleasant movie-going experience. But, as I have said to many people already on this topic, it is good to see movies I can recommend to normal people.

Mark Watney (Matt Damon) is… The Martian. He is an astronaut and through no real fault of the rest of the crew on his spaceship, he gets left behind on Mars (presumed dead). Turns out, he’s not dead! And you don’t get to Mars without being quite smart and more than a little resourceful, so he starts to figure out how to sustain his own life until someone can come back and get him (to repeat a joke from the interwebs, between Saving Private Ryan, Interstellar, and The Martian, we sure have spent a heck of a lot of money and effort rescuing Matt Damon). Continue reading

Sicario

sicarioSicario sure is a deeply unpleasant film. In my page of notes, if I had 25 items, approximately six of them are just versions on “This is unpleasant” and “an intense sense of dread.”

So, good job? The movie is about Mexican drug cartels and Emily Blunt (kind of), and it is a piece of work. There’s not a particularly strong narrative throughline (or, what’s there isn’t really elaborated, and we’re kept as in the dark as Kate (Emily Blunt’s character) is), but it’s got a lot of violence, with some particular flourishes of explicit torture, and a whole whack of Disturbing Imagery. So when I first left the theater, I was kind of lost and disturbed, because it felt like all of this nastiness didn’t add up to much.

Then I talked it over with my movie-going buddy and it became obvious that that was the point. Spoiler alert: Mexican drug cartels are bad. Also, we’re not always the good guys, or if we are, we’re not always doing good things to get the information we need. Basically, the whole thing is a mess. And so the movie is like hey, this is a mess. Look at all the sadness and the extreme, oppressive violence. And so you’re like k thanks movie! I… feel much sadder now and vaguely queasy. I agree that this is very bad, and I see it much more graphically now. So… uh… thanks? Question mark? More question marks? Continue reading