Hey, everyone. "Moriarty" here with some Rumblings From The Lab.
Quint, you glorious bastard, you sent me a properly formatted article. No HTML encoding needed. I'm so happy I don't know what to do. I guess I could just get the hell out of the way for your Brad Anderson double-header...
Ahoy there, squirts. 'Tis I, the sickly seaman, Quint, here back in nearly top form after a few weeks of illness. Sorry I've been away, squirts, but between my week-long road trip East (The Seagull in Central Park was amazing... Honestly... Christopher Walken... How can one man be so fucking cool?), my new girlfriend, this blasted head cold and Quentin Tarantino's film fest... well, I've been slackin' off a bit. I've got a lot of stuff that's built up over these past weeks that I'm dying to share with you folks.
The first glut of coolness is a peek at two new films by indie director Brad Anderson (Next Stop Wonderland). These two films couldn't be more different. One's a spooky story called Session 9 set in an old, empty insane asylum and the other's a romantic comedy starring Marisa Tomei and Vincent "Full... Metal... Jacket...." D'Onofrio.
I saw Session 9 first, so I'll start with that one. I have never seen writer/director/editor Brad Anderson's other film, Next Stop Wonderland, but ever since Harry showed me the trailer for Session 9 a few months ago I've been dying to see it. A spooky ghost story. I love me a good spooky ghost story! The Changeling, Burnt Offerings, The Others, Poltergeist, the original Haunting, The Legend of Hell House, Watcher in the Woods, etc... I love them all.
And so I was primed to see this flick. Set in an old insane asylum that's being renovated. Directed by an indie director who was sure to stay far, far away from the digital monstrosities that have passed for ghosts in recent films. The footage in the trailer made me drool it was so creepy. The cast was full of very talented, yet not super famous people like Brendan Sexton III (Welcome to the Dollhouse, Hurricane Streets), Peter Mullan (My Name is Joe, Trainspotting, Braveheart) and David Caruso who I hated until recently and for whatever reason am starting to really, really dig.
So, I was able to set up a private screening for myself and a few others. I had them set up the projector on the dock and I had Massawyrm climb up the mast to the crow's nest on the Orca, grab the bottom of my movie screen and jump down to the deck, bottom of the screen in hand, thus unrolling my screen. He did kinda hit the deck hard... on his head... so he was unconscious for the majority of the first film, but my woman and I got to see the movie, so all's well.
Anyway, the movie begins setting up the two leads, Peter Mullan and David Caruso as partners in an asbestos removing company that they started together. They're touring the insane asylum (a great way of introducing us, the audience, to the setting of this creepy tale) and have to bid for the job. This place is huge. Multiple stories, two huge wings, hundreds of rooms... gigantic. Caruso estimates it to be a 3 week job, but Mullan promises it to be finished in one week. Why? Well, if he didn't get this job, that would have spelled the end to his business. Add on to that his newborn baby girl, then you see why he promised a week.
So, to help spread the workload out he hires on a few people, his usual workers, and his nephew (Sexton) as well. The atmosphere stays creepy throughout the film, but not much happens action wise in the first part. Lots of character interaction and development. Good stuff.
Then the tapes are found. The would-be lawyer worker finds these tapes, sessions with one of the asylum's past patients, a woman with multiple personality disorder. There are 9 tapes, labeled Sessions 1-9. I love this plot device! The second these tapes are introduced it's like setting off the clock on a bomb. You know by the time you reach the final session (the Session 9 of the title), some crazy, creepy shit is going to happen. The lawyer character, Mike, keeps finding himself drawn to these tapes and listening to this crazy woman and the little boy and little girl seemingly living within her. Mike's not the only one drawn to these tapes. Watching, I was all but screaming for him to just listen to them all. The little boy and girl personalities are hiding something from the doctor interviewing this poor lady. There is apparently another being living within this woman, someone they call Simon, but are afraid to let loose.
So, now you have this ticking bomb plot device, a countdown to what's sure to be a kickass finale, you have terrific cinematography, great actors and creepy sets. Not bad, said I. Then the ending came and instead of the BOOM!!!! I was expecting, I got a Pop. I can't say it's a bad ending because it fit the film quite well. I was just hoping they'd go for something more grand or scary or intense. Again, I can't fault the movie for not having the ending that I, an individual observer, wanted it to have because the ending it does have is very apt and fits the film. On the other hand, to me, a lone observer, I felt the movie was built up to have a strong finish, which it didn't. I guess I just loved the ticking bomb plot device that when it didn't make a huge explosion when it went off I felt a little gypped.
It is a really well thought out film, pretty creepy and beautifully shot on the new HD 24 fps camera that Lucas and Robert Rodriguez are currently using on Attack of the Clones and Once Upon A Time In Mexico, respectively. It did look a bit video-y in some of the outdoor shots, but those particular scenes weren't lit very well. You light any format, be it 16mm, video, Super 8, 35mm, 70mm, etc. and it looks like shit, too. The rest of the film looked just as good as 35mm. I recommend this film, just wish it had a little bit bigger bang is all. Let it be said that my woman, whom I affectionally call Boo Boo Kitty Fuck, though she wants to be called "Auntie Meat", loved the movie without any reservations.
Now on to Happy Accidents! What a weird surprise. Don't you love it when you find yourself watching a movie that is a complete mystery, that you know absolutely nothing about and have it grab you and not let go? That happened to me with this film. I had no idea what Happy Accidents was, other than Brad Anderson's other movie that's opening this month. Was it horror, like Session 9? Was it more like Next Stop Wonderland? I haven't seen Next Stop Wonderland, but it was sortuva romantic comedy, right? Did it lean more towards chick flick? I had no idea.
So, the projector whirs to life after a short break while the projectionist broke down Session 9 and threaded up Happy Accidents. Massawyrm was still unconscious on the deck, but the rest of my party were still up for more, so we kicked him until he woke up. He had a bit of a headache, but he was awake.
The credits role. Marisa Tomei. Ooookkkkkkkaaaayyyyy. She's always been hit and miss with me. Vincent D'Onofrio. Sweet! I've always liked D'Onofrio, even in The Cell. He is a great at playing innocent and creepy and even both at the same time (Full Metal Jacket anyone?). The cast goes on. Some names I recognized, some I didn't. Then there was the "and" credit. You know, the one that goes to a super special person that appears in the movie. The "and" credit was for Anthony Michael Hall. We all cheered.
The credits played against this kinda artsy film in reverse scene. I was worried the film would be pretentious drivel. Thank God it was not. Marisa Tomei plays a woman who has had nothing but bad relationships in her life and we catch absolutely hilarious glimpses at just about all of them. The phrase "Jew For Jesus" cracks me up even now, a few days after seeing the film.
The film is told in various forms of linear and non-linear storytelling. It sounds stupid, but believe me it works. It starts off with Tomei talking to her psychiatrist, played wonderfully by Holland Taylor, telling her about these relationships and her newest guy. The newest guy, of course, is D'Onofrio. He's a weird cat in this film. Totally romantic, with a touch of almost Forrest Gump-ian wonder to him. He's like a child, but never childish. I'm gonna get into some of the plot of the film now. Nothing that'll ruin the film, but some stuff that might be considered spoilers. If you want to stay pure, know this: This film is the single best romantic comedy I've seen in an extremely long time. It's at least on the same level as Notting Hill, but I personally like Happy Accidents more than Notting Hill. Let's continue on, shall we?
After getting together with Tomei, D'Onofrio drops a big, big bombshell. He says he's a time traveler from the distant future who has illegally jumped back in time to avoid the big name company produced and sponsored synthetic humans and to find Tomei, who's picture he found in a curiouso shop. Up 'til this point, there's no hint whatsoever of anything like this coming out. It begins to tear Tomei up. She's fallen for yet another looney, she thinks? Or did she?
I love the way they play this mystery. Is D'Onofrio pulling her chain? If so, is he doing it because it's a turn on, a form of role-playing? Or is he doing it because he's sick in the head? Or is he really from the future? The answer to this is beautifully revealed at just the right time.
This film is a must see. D'Onofrio and Tomei are in top form and share an awesome chemistry. You must hunt down this movie. It's supposedly opening up next weekend. You have Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, a very fun and very funny movie and John Carpenter's Ghosts Of Mars, which is also a fun movie, if not a disappointing one. Happy Accidents is better than both those above movies. I love Jay and Silent Bob to death, but I have to say unless you're a died in the wool Kevin Smith fan, go see Happy Accidents first.
Everybody who was at the screening loved the film. I heard the words "phenomenal" and "great" and "best romantic comedy in years" uttered throughout the deck of the Orca. Even the projectionist was shouting its praises. If the phrase "Romantic Comedy" turns you off, don't let it. It's comedy first. It's kinda like saying Terminator was a romantic sci-fi film. No, it's a sci-fi action flick with romance in it. Comedy takes the front seat in this film, but romance is riding shotgun. Take your sweetie to this film and there's a good chance you'll get laid afterwards. I know I did.
On that note, squirts, I'm gonna tie this one up and head off to bed. Keep yer telescope aimed at the horizon, lads, for this old salt has a shitload of coolness to unleash upon you, the unsuspecting public. OK, I told you, so you're not the unsuspecting public anymore, but rest assured that you're in for some cool stuff, including a few interviews, script reviews and a few more movie reviews as well. 'Til that day, squirts, this is Quint bidding you all a fond farewell and adieu.