Saturday, August 4, 2018

Three Films Make A Post: Every THING needs to eat.

Seven Keys to Baldpate (1947): Lew Landers’s version of the Earl Derr Biggers (of Charlie Chan fame) novel is a pleasant little Old Dark House movie, zipping merrily along through its semi-comedic tale of a writer coming to a very special writing retreat for a bet and encountering all sorts of Old Dark House nonsense (though no gorilla, I sadly have to report). I’m pretty sure this one was already pretty lightweight 70 years ago, and if you expect hidden depths to the film you’ll probably be sorely disappointed. However, old pro Landers certainly knew how to pace a film, and even how to involve comic relief characters without it becoming annoying. He also bothered to put in enough atmospheric shots and suspenseful – if old-fashioned – little moments to make this a pleasant and fun experience to watch, even today.

2 Guns (2013): If you’d tell me there are two directors named Baltasar Kormákur working right now, the good one and the one making boring action comedies with Mark Wahlberg, I’d probably believe you. This one pairs Marky Mark with poor old Denzel Washington to go through the old buddy cop/whatever routine. The result isn’t pretty, with the leading couple lacking in chemistry, a script that seemingly tries to be the first comedy without any jokes, action scenes that are competently shot yet totally uninvolving, and a cast that seems about as invested in their characters as I found myself to be – not at all. Only Bill Paxton as evil CIA man and Edward James Olmos as Mexican Cartel boss put any kind of effort and charm in but our supposed leading men work far below their capabilities. It’s hard to blame them, for the whole affair feels less like a film anyone involved actually wanted to make than a low effort pay check for anyone involved.

The Debutantes (2017): This Filipino horror movie by Prime Cruz about a teenage outsider (Sue Ramirez) with strange powers finding herself first pulled into, than degraded by her school’s queen bees and the ensuing deadly consequences isn’t any more original than 2 Guns but it sure as hell is more involving. That’s thanks to some more than decent acting by the whole of the young cast, spirited direction and a script that actually has a point and knows how to get there. Following my usual love for the local in horror cinema, I am also rather happy to report that the supernatural explanation for the minor mayhem that ensues is not quite as close to the Carrie model as I had at first expected but uses a creature of Filipino myth and legend to express thematic concerns about loneliness and alienation. All of which isn’t bad at all for a teen horror film.

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