Sunday, January 31, 2010

Worst of the Worst: #95, Lost Souls

Nobody's ever heard of this movie and that's just fine. It's one of those lame demonic possession movies that come out by the handful. "I'm a troubled kid who used to be possessed and/or my parents were Satanists. I just helped out on an exorcism and the demon said your body was going to be inhabited by Satan himself." "Oh, well, that can't be possible, right? I mean, I don't really know who my real father is... Oh, and I suppose I dreamed of 666 in Greek numbers and I just found a pentacle under my bed. Crap, how do we stop this?" "We can't really." "Oh, darn, I guess you'll have to try to kill me before the random appointed time that Satan fully takes over my body and you'll either succeed or not."

Not much more to say than that. It's a boilerplate story with no scares and no imagination, so it attemps to exorcise any anticipation out of you by screaming: "The power of Christ will bore the s*** out of you! The power of Christ will bore the s*** out of you!" In this case, Wynona Ryder plays the good guy in a frighteningly unenergetic performance. The thing that really jumps out is how brutally over-directed the movie is. It's one of three films ever directed by Janusz Kaminski, who is much more famous for having been Stephen Spielberg's Director of Photography since Schindler's List, winning Oscars for Cinematography in that movie and Saving Private Ryan. In Lost Souls, Kaminski shoots everything from weird angles with strange hues and way too many shadows. It's actually pretty interesting, after having seen the movie, to read the reviews on Rotten Tomatoes (which I always do for these movies) and see how many critics talk about how beautifully-shot this was. Not all of them do, though, and it's the others that I respect. A forty-five-degree turn of the camera while shooting straight dialogue does not a respectable art film make. The film is quite mediocre, befitting its ranking near the bottom of the list. My one joy about it is that, since it is about Christ and the Anti-Christ, us Jews don't have much to do with anything in the plot. All Catholics. Mel Gibson may have gone after us in The Passion but, sorry, guys, I'm putting this one on you.


In case I forget tomorrow, a side note to talk about Julie & Julia, which I also saw tonight. Really, really liked it. The Amy Adams part is pretty good. The Meryl Streep part is exceptional. It's funnier and less a conventional romantic comedy than I thought it would be. It's not really a romantic comedy at all, I suppose. Of all the things about the movies that came out in 2009, there aren't many that I enjoyed as much as Streep's performance in this one. Off the top of my head? My top five most enjoyable things in 2009 cinema may look like this:
  • 5. Ed Helms brushing the chicken off the counter in The Hangover.
  • 4. Brad Pitt trying to talk Italian with a southern accent in Inglourious Basterds.
  • 3. Meryl Streep in Julie & Julia.
  • 2. Christoph Waltz in Inglourious Basterds.
  • 1. The last thirty minutes or so of Inglourious Basterds.

Sure, there's a trend there, but Streep is amazing. I don't think Sandra Bullock deserves Best Actress, because you can't judge her performance in The Blind Side relative to her performance in All About Steve, so it's not fair to say she was that good in the better movie, but she has a real shot. Carey Mulligan was a revelation (I say snootily) in An Education and deserves major consideration. If you're talking about an even playing field though, Streep deserves Best Actress every time she has a movie out. I guess they must handicap it a bit.

No comments: