"The Uninvited" Starring Emily Browning

The Uninvited
11/14/2011

"The Uninvited" is a remake of the 2003 Korean film "A Tale of Two Sisters" directed by Jee-woon Kim. Asian horror remakes are tough and usually come off as dull, boring and misinterpreted. This movie is also rated PG-13 which is a death sentence for any horror film. You usually end up getting a watered down, cliché ridden, bore fest. Although once in a great while a movie like "The Uninvited" comes along to challenge the theory.

Starring Emily Browning and Arielle Kebble as sisters Anna and Alex. We learn that their sick mother died in a boat house explosion and Anna tried to kill herself landing her in the nut house for 8 months. She is released and comes home to find that her dad has fallen in love with his wife's nurse Rachel (played by Elizabeth Banks). She reunites with Alex and they talk about what's been happen since she's been gone. Anna becomes haunted by the people and events of her past. The sisters begin to suspect the worst in Rachel as she seems to have a dark hidden past. Their dad, played by the always reliable David Strathairn, is an accomplished author who is releasing his latest novel. When Anna's friend Matt is found dead, they suspect Rachel killed him because he saw what happen the night their mother died. Anna tries to tell their dad about Rachel, but he brushes her off and even threatens to call her psychiatrist and have her readmitted.

The film is told from Anna's point of view and we see all of her delusions and fears up close. She is small and physically strong but also mentally fragile and paranoid. Emily Browning perfectly captures Anna's psyche and becomes this girl fighting back the darkness and trying to recapture her life. Fearing Rachel has now targeted the sisters for her next victims they go on the offensive to and try to expose her for what she is.

"The Uninvited" has one of those mega twist endings, that when you rewatch the movie you realize how manipulated you were, but it is definitely a fun ride. You can see the original Korean version through Netflix Watch instantly, but will have to get the DVD if you want to see the remake. Watch this movie as part of a double feature with "The Orphan".

Kevin Smith's "RED STATE"

Red State
11/15/2011


Every since "Clerks" premiered at the 1994 Sundance Film Festival writer/director Kevin Smith has enjoyed a cult following like no other.  His ear for dialogue and endearing true to life characters make his films the voice of the twenty something's.  His characters spout off "Star Wars" references and make childish dick and fart jokes, all while coming off as people you would like to hang out with.  Although recently he has had a string of pretty bad movies, "Red State" returns to the controversial territory that followed his 1999 film "Dogma".

Three high school boys go looking for sex on the internet and find and older women willing to do the deed with them.  When they get to her trailer park home, they are drugged and brought into a radical Christian fundamentalist compound.  There we meet reverend Abin Copper, played by the remarkable Michael Parks.  Abin's wife Sara (played by Melissa Leo) is the women who got the teens and now they must pay for their sins.  The cult like group call themselves the Five Pointers and the authorities are anxious to take them down.  It sounds a lot like David Koresh and Branch Dravidians from Waco Texas and their big stand off  in the 90's.  Copper spouts off a fiery sermon with a guy shrink wrapped to a cross.  He equates gays to devils who should be executed on site.  The man strapped to the cross is shot in the head and one of the three teens is up next, but when one of them breaks free and finds the armory full of assault rifles all hell is about to break lose (but not in a literal sense).

When Abin murders a sheriff deputy who gets to close,  the ATF and local police encircle the compound and a violent confrontation ensues.  Smith deals with such modern issues as gay rights, religious extremists and domestic terrorism.  How well he deals with these issues is a little suspect.  Smith's forte over the years has been comedy and "Red State" feature mainly action and drama, but with a dose of dark humor.  The gun fights are tense and visceral and something you don't usually see in his films.  John Goodman plays Joseph Keenan and heads the ATF attack on the compound.  He has orders to treat the compound members as terrorists under the Patriot Act and to kill ever last one of them. One of the imprisoned teens gets together with Abin's granddaughter in order to escape with the compounds little children.  We then hear a voice from above and things come to a head.

This is not the greatest film in the world even by Kevin Smith standards, but it has more than "Jersey Girl" or "Cop Out" had to offer.  The films he made earlier in his career really stand on there own and as he has even said took place in a different time in his life.  Kevin also has another Q&A special available on Netflix streaming called "Too Fat for 40" which is entertaining but extremely T.M.I.  "Red State" is also available from Netflix streaming as well so you know check it out.

"Sleeping Beauty" Starring Emily Browning

Sleeping Beauty (2011)
11/6/2011

Hot off this years Cannes Film Festival, Director Julia Leigh's debut film is striking, controversial, and a little I don't know what.  With famed director Jane Campion as a producer, this film is given automatic street cred. Starring the beautiful and fair skinned Emily Browning who has recently been seen in "Sucker Punch" and "The Uninvited", "Sleeping Beauty" seems to be lacking a certain something. 

Browning plays Lucy a disenchanted college student who drifts through life working several jobs.  She is a medical test subject, an office worker, and cleans tables at a cafe.  We never get to know Lucy and what makes her tick and she is never really happy.  She is extremely lonesome and seems to have suffered some sort of emotional trauma in her past.  Her alcoholic mother calls her at one of her jobs and asks for money, but that is all we hear about her family.  She answers an ad for a sort of waitress and is brought to a mansion that caters to a group exorbitantly rich perverts.  This shady business is run Clara and operates like a sort of brothel.  Lucy then agrees to be a sleeping beauty, which means she drinks a tea that knocks her out cold for a few hours while crusty old white men have their way with her.  Although with the strict instruction that she not be penetrated.

Browning gives an extremely brave and fearless performance.  She is nude in several scenes an makes the best of the material given.  But nudity alone can't help that fact that the story is lacking in character and motivation.  Lucy is a very intriguing person and there is a lot going on inside her, but Leigh never shows or implies any of it on screen.  She is also involved with a terminally ill man named Birdman, their whole relationship is a little sketchy and underdeveloped.

Although I have to admit this movie is like a male film geeks paradise.  You mean Baby Doll from "Sucker Punch" is in it, and she has several nude scenes? Yes and yes.  The movie does have its faults and reeks of a first time director, but you really should see the movie for Emily Browning's performance because she really does do a great job.