The final, definitive trailer for Scott Cooper‘s Black Mass (Warner Bros., 9.18). The assumption, of course, is that Johnny “Alaskan husky eyes” Depp will slam it out of park as Whitey Bulger, but if it turns out he’s just good or pretty good there’s a great supporting cast to lean on: Joel Edgerton, Benedict Cumberbatch, Dakota Johnson, Kevin Bacon, Peter Sarsgaard, Corey Stoll, Sienna Miller, David Harbour, Rory Cochrane, Julianne Nicholson, James Russo, Juno Temple, Erica McDermott, et. al. Keep those Boston accents subtle, boys. If you can’t do the accent like a native, leave it alone. Better to use your own voice. I don’t want guys soundin’ like Leonardo DiCaprio in The Depahted. I don’t want any guys sayin'”Bahstuhn.”
I strongly suspect that Carey Fukunaga‘s Beasts of No Nation (Netflix/Bleecker Street, 10.16) will be at least as unpleasant to sit through as Lenny Abrahamson‘s Room. If Fukunaga’s script cleaves to Uzodinma Iweala’s 2005 source novel, it’s going to be one horror after another. It’s basically about a young West African boy named Agu (Abraham Attah) being molded into a bloodthirsty, emotionally vacant murderer by a ruthless warlord (Idris Elba) during a years-long war. Looting, random rape, machete killings of non-combatants, forced sexual servitude on Agu’s part, unsanitary conditions, starvation…you name it. I’m sure that the much-respected Fukunaga (Sin Nombre, Jane Eyre, season #1 of True Detective) has shot the hell out of Beasts and that critics will exclaim how devastating and powerful it is. But where can this go? How can it surprise? We’ve all heard about how young teenagers (not just in Africa but in big-city gang environments in the U.S., Mexico and Europe) can become the coldest and most horrific killers so what’s new here? Full Metal Jacket told the same kind of story with a less horrific brush.
Director Lenny Abrahamson clearly has a thing about confinement and creepy obsessions. The titular character in his last film, Frank, played by Michael Fassbender, was a singer in an experimental band who walked around with his head inside a basketball-sized paper mache mask. Abrahamson’s new film, Room, based on the same-titled 2011 best-seller by Emma Donoghue, is about a mother (Brie Larson) and her son Jack (Jacob Tremblay) living for years in an underground cell in the backyard of a home owned by Old Nick (Sean Bridgers). I’m guessing that Nick (a) is Jack’s dad and (b) ravages Larson whenever the mood strikes. The trailer doesn’t supply particulars but that’s the basic shot. And then they escape. Donoghue may or may not have admitted that Room was largely inspired by the case of Josef Fritzl, an Austrian monster who kept his daughter confined in a cellar for 24 years (’84 to ’08) and fathered seven children with her, but it almost certainly was. By the way: Until you read the credits there’s no telling that “Jack” isn’t a girl — the teaser makes no effort to suggest he’s a young lad. I’ll see Room but I’m not looking forward to it. Who would?
I haven’t sat down and watched Criterion’s new Dressed To Kill Bluray (due on 8.18), but a recent review by DVD Beaver‘s Gary W. Tooze notes how it looks “extremely different” compared to Dressed to Kill Blurays issued by MGM Home Video (and released by Fox Home Video) on 9.6.11 and Arrow Home Video on 7.29.13. On top of which the Criterion version “seems vertically stretched (or the other two are horizontally stretched),” Tooze writes. “This makes the Criterion faces thinner and taller and the Arrow and MGM faces fatter. It is also more faded-looking and has a yellow/green tinge to it.”
I watched Nancy Allen in many films during the ’70s and ’80s, and her face was never as thin as it is in this DVD Beaver screen capture of Criterion’s Dressed to Kill Bluray…NEVER.
HE to Criterion’s Peter Becker (sent this morning): “I just looked at DVD Beaver‘s review and I’d appreciate your input if you could spare a moment or two. Has Criterion ever mastered a film in such a way that everyone comes out looking a few pounds thinner? It doesn’t look quite right to me. I’m guessing that it doesn’t look quite right to a lot of people. I’m not saying the MGM/Fox Home Video and Arrow versions are absolutely correct either (I don’t know anything), but they seem a bit more life-like and more naturally proportioned.
“I’ve long agreed with the age-old maxim that ‘you can never be too rich or too thin,’ but Criterion seems to have really taken that saying to heart, at least as far as Dressed to Kill is concerned. And what’s with the greenish-yellowish tint? And the much brighter exposure with the faded colors? I saw the film a couple of times in ’80 and I know it didn’t have this green-yellow thing.