Drag Me to Hell
Sam Raimi may have made megabucks directing the overrated Spider-Man trilogy, but good-natured, in-your-face horror is where his heart lies, and Drag Me to Hell is a welcome return to his Evil Dead days of joyous moviemaking. Alison Lohman is in charge of bank loans but refuses to oblige an old woman who turns out to have infernal connections. It’s all (ahem) downhill from there. Justin Long plays Lohman’s boyfriend, and has about as much success withstanding Pure Evil as he did in Jeepers Creepers.
Shot three years ago, this amalgam of Southern Comfort and Friday the 13th is being rushed into theaters with little advertising, but that may not be a reason to avoid it; it is, after all, something that Sam Raimi might have made when he was a lot younger. A bunch of youngsters in New Orleans for Mardi Gras fall foul of a local psycho in this fanboy’s dream of a cast including Kane Hodder (Jason in the later Friday the 13th films) as the unwelcoming southerner Victor Crowley, Robert Englund (Freddy Kreuger), the wonderful Tony Todd (Candyman) as “Reverend Zombie” and special effects ace/director John Carl Beuchler. It’s not clear if the Taiwan release is the US R-rated or unrated version. Starts tomorrow.
Grace Is Gone
The American love of the road movie continues as John Cusack takes his daughters way, way out of town (Florida) to find a way to tell them that their mother, a soldier, was killed in Iraq. A brief diversion sees Cusack visit his anti-war brother, but apart from that all the drama is in the anticipation of a sad revelation for the children and Cusack coming to terms with his loss. Reviewers had problems with the production qualities of this movie, but plenty of nice things to say about the cast.
Intriguing film about a Turkish small businessman in the east German town of Jerichow who married a woman by paying off her debts and now must hire a driver/minder — a rather unsettling disgraced soldier — to help him make ends meet. The Postman Always Rings Twice is the frame as the wife and the minder, both Germans, get it on behind our wistful hero’s back, but for this movie lust takes a back seat to the worthlessness of money as a measure of self-worth.
All’s Well Ends Well 2009 (家有囍事2009)
The latest entry in this Hong Kong comedy series features returning producer-star Raymond Wong (黃百鳴) and Sandra Ng (吳君如), a slew of in-jokes and middling celebrities. Ng is a stubbornly single professional woman whose marital status is blocking other family members from tying the knot. Enter matchmaker Louis Koo (古天樂). The curious thing about this film is that it was a successful Lunar New Year release in Hong Kong but has taken almost six months to get here. Does it take this long for a film with the China market in mind to get dubbed into Mandarin?
Set in Singapore’s Geylang red light district and starring Taiwan’s Yang Kui-mei (楊貴媚), this undernourished tale from 2007 of prostitutes and their clients mixes artiness and docudrama to superficial effect. Variety magazine was the most dismissive, blasting every aspect of production, direction and acting and concluding that Pleasure Factory “borders on the inept.” A shame, really, because the grim subject matter is full of opportunities. Starts tomorrow.