Saturday, December 15, 2018

Three Films Make A Post: You'll float too.

Drifter (2016): I’m not always a fan of too knowing exploitation movie throwbacks, but Chris von Hoffman’s post-apocalyptic (one assumes) cannibal town trip mostly knows when it’s okay to wink and when to be straight. It’s a very low budget affair, so a prospective viewer should adjust accordingly and cope with a script that sometimes drags a bit, dialogue that isn’t always spot on, and other minor flaws of this kind. On the other hand, the film is much better acted than most films in its bracket, is shot with a lot of style and a great feel for making the most out of the available locations (none of which is one of those damn warehouses), and generally gives the impression of a movie made by people who know what they want and what they are doing. It will probably be not quite a new cult classic for anyone, but I came out of it entertained and with respect for the filmmakers.

Wheelman (2017): Speaking of throwbacks, this Netflix production directed by Jeremy Rush certainly is inspired by crime and car based movies of the 70s, though it does look and feel very much like a slick 2010s production, particularly since Rush opts for the not terribly 70s gimmick of shooting most of the film in the car. That technique could have resulted in strained artiness, but in Rush’s hands, it actually feels like a way to let the audience share the tension of a main character (Frank Grillo still very much in what looks and feels like his unexpected career high to me) completely out of his depth in more than one regard. Plus, the director is playful enough even to have a great moment where the car that audience and character(s) share changes, and knows when to move his camera out of the damn thing, so the story – simple as it may be – doesn’t end up overwhelmed by the way it is told. On the writing side, this is very competent and entertaining genre business, not terribly surprising, but made with too much verve for that to matter terribly much.

Bay Coven (1987): This NBC TV movie about a couple of mostly likeable yuppies – Pamela Sue Martin and Tim Matheson – moving to a strange island community that will turn out to have rather problematic traditions (at least if one values one’s life and one’s sanity), was made in a time when supernatural horror wasn’t really the thing to do on TV anymore. Director Carl Schenkel doesn’t seem to care, though, and tells a merry, American Gothic tale of witchcraft, insanity, and a very peculiar kind of marital trouble most couples won’t encounter in their lifetime with a degree of verve. There are quite few effective spooky moments, as well as some entertainingly silly ones, a proper dramatic climax, and even a director and script (by Tim Kring very early in his career) who realize they are also making a film about female anxieties about alienation from one’s partner, and the secrets and lies in a marriage, and make proper use of the possibilities this offers them.

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