All posts filed under: FILMS

Will you give ‘Mama’ a chance? Director Guillermo del Toro says: ‘Come to ‘Mama,’ baby.’

I’ve never been really frightened by pale, gown-wearing, double-jointed ghostly figures who crawl out of televisions or demon-possessed characters who could probably land gigs as contortionists in Las Vegas reviews, but I’ll have to admit, as a horror/thriller movie fan, there is something about the “creepy kid genre” that I find disturbing. Jessica Chastain, who earned Oscar nominations for her work in “The Help” (set in Mississippi) and the new film “Zero Dark Thirty,” will soon have two films in theaters simultaneously when Guillermo del Toro’s “Mama” is released Jan. 18 – another movie with creepy kids. In it, Chastain plays a woman who finds herself caring for her significant other’s young nieces who were left alone to fend for themselves in the forest for five years after their parents died. But the movie asks the question: How alone were they? The trailer looks interesting, but also looks like it relies on those familiar spooky contortionist creatures who, thanks to special effects, speed up and jump out at you. (For an example of what I’m …

Will you be watching Tarantino’s ‘Django Unchained’ set in Mississippi?

If Quentin Tarantino is ever cosmically punished, I’m pretty sure he will be forced to direct a heartwarming Disney movie for general audiences that is so squeaky clean it doesn’t even warrant a PG rating, but on Dec. 25, he offered theaters another story of violence and vengeance. It’s called “Django Unchained.” It’s about slavery. And it’s set in Chickasaw County, Miss., two years before the Civil War. (It was actually filmed in Jackson Hole, Wyo.) Django (Jamie Foxx), a freed slave, is trained as a bounty hunter who searches for his wife, who has been sold, and seeks vengeance against tormenting plantation owners. NPR ran a story about the film today that you can read or listen to here in which the director says he hopes Americans will find his violent film historically cathartic. I have not seen the movie yet, but I’m familiar with most, if not all, of Tarantino’s other films, so I know what to expect should I find myself wandering into a theater. In the online debate that follows the …

Is We Need to Talk About Kevin another prophetic work of fiction?

I have always believed that science fiction writers are prophets and sometimes wonder if the same can be true of anyone who pens a fictional story. Perhaps they are connecting to the universe in some strange and mystical way that we can’t fully comprehend resulting in a vision of the future. Take for instance The China Syndrome. The film, starring Jane Fonda and Michael Douglas, tells the fictional story of a reporter and her crew who discover safety coverups at a nuclear power plant and witness an accident that narrowly avoids a nuclear meltdown. It was released by Columbia Pictures on March 16, 1979, just 12 days before the partial nuclear meltdown at Pennsylvania’s Three Mile Island. In one scene, a nuclear safety expert even says a meltdown could force an area “the size of Pennsylvania” to be evacuated. It also seems like Morgan Robertson was prophesizing in the 1898 novel Futility that tells the story of an “unsinkable ship” that hits an iceberg and meets its doom, but it would be 14 years before …

Did you know that The Sexiest Man Alive once lived in Mississippi?

Did you know that The Sexiest Man Alive once lived in Mississippi? Yep, turns out Channing Tatum, a.k.a. “Magic Mike,” who People magazine just named The Sexiest Man Alive, is a Mississippi boy – at least partially. The Sun Herald had a story today titled: “From the shores of South Mississippi to the cover of People magazine” about Mr. Tatum, who has risen to stardom in the past year, primarily because millions of women could not resist seeing his portrayal of a stripper in “Magic Mike.” It’s all about the acting, of course. Here’s a little info about his Mississippi past. The Sun Herald reports that Tatum, who was born in Cullman, Ala., moved to Gautier with his parents, Glenn and Kay Tatum, and sister, Paige, when he was 6. He lived there from about 1986 to 1991. His parents owned a pizza shop. Tatum grew up near the bayous of the Mississippi River, and Channingtatumunwrapped.com reports that he enjoyed a rural existence in Mississippi that included, “All the rattlesnakes and alligators a boy could …

What’s your favorite scary movie?

It takes 25 years before a car can generally be deemed a classic. Perhaps the same rule applies to “classic” films. As a lifelong horror/thriller fan, there aren’t many from the genre I haven’t seen. Many have achieved classic status, like “Psycho” (1960), “The Birds” (1963), “Rosemary’s Baby” (1968), “The Exorcist” (1973), “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” (1974), “The Omen” (1976), “Halloween” (1978), “Dawn of the Dead” (1978) and “The Amityville Horror” (1979). Those 1980s Halloween movies, like the “The Shining” (1980), “The Poltergeist” (1982), “Friday the 13th” (1982), “Cujo” (1983), “Children of the Corn” (1984) and “A Nightmare on Elm Street” (1984), have also passed the 25-year mark. “Silence of the Lambs” (1991) must wait four more years, and “Scream” (1996), a little longer. Here are a few horror/thriller movie suggestions for the holiday that may or may not be considered classics in the future, yet have the potential to give you a good scare this Halloween: • “In Their Skin” (2012): When a couple mourning the loss of their daughter returns to a family …

Would Norman Bates approve?

Last week, I went blonde for our office Halloween party. Today, I thought I’d delve a little darker into the Halloween spirit. This tree dress that I refashioned using an old shift dress from a thrift store and upholstery fabric from a craft store, seemed like a fitting Halloween ensemble, even though I wear it year-round because I like tree prints. I guess I’ll be wearing it tonight at the Mississippi Museum of Art’s Screen on the Green showing of Psycho. It sounded like a Halloween night event worth checking out. Update: A picture from the event: Got a comment? E-mail me at endyanna@earthlink.com or Tweet me at @lareecarucker. Save

I would never ever ever dress like Taylor Swift

Today, is the annual costume contest at work, so I put together something from my closet that appears to be a costume. I didn’t really want to be a witch again, and I didn’t find a costume in the costume store that appealed to me this year, so I just decided to be a blonde. Being blonde is my costume. I’ve had people guess that I am everyone from Marilyn Monroe to Betty from Mad Men, and even one of the Flintstones characters. Many, many people today guessed that I was Taylor Swift, but I can assure you that I would never ever ever dress like Taylor Swift. Nothing against her. I’m just a little too old for that. That would be like one of the male editors here dressing like Justin Bieber. Kind of creepy. Nope. I’m not anyone in particular.  I’m just a blonde, because being blonde is an alter-identity in itself when you have been a lifelong brunette. Any hair color change can make you feel like a different person. Sienna Miller …

Brandon native lands first film role

When Carrie MacLemore was 2, she asked her father for a stage. “She would watch people on television and ask me to let her ‘do it, too,” said her mother, Dolly MacLemore. “When adult friends came over, she wanted to sing for them. And one time, when she thought their attention was wandering, she said, ‘Wait! There’s more!’ ” Today, MacLemore, 25, is still getting attention for her performances. After a number of minor television roles, she landed a significant part in her first film, Damsels in Distress. The movie was picked up by Sony Pictures Classics and is being distributed around the United States in limited release. According to the film press site, the Mississippi Film Institute will show Damsels in Distress at 5 p.m. Sunday at Davis Planetarium, and on Sept. 9, it will come to the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art. The film was written and directed by Wilt Stillman, who was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay for his 1990 film Metropolitan. He also wrote Barcelona and The …

My interview with Mike Seaver

So I recently got to interview Kirk Cameron. I realize that he has become somewhat of a controversial figure because he has become an outspoken Christian evangelist, but I just remember him as Mike Seaver on Growing Pains, a show I religiously watched growing up. So it was kind of fun getting to speak to him. Here’s the story: If you’re marriage is experiencing Growing Pains, a former teen heartthrob turned Christian actor/evangelist will soon make an appearance in Brandon to tell you that marriage is a Love Worth Fighting For. Kirk Cameron, who starred in the 1980s television show Growing Pains and has since become a popular Christian film actor, will appear Saturday, Aug. 18, at Crossgates Baptist Church in Brandon. “The Love Worth Fighting For marriage event is a very special event that came out of the movie Fireproof,” he said by phone. “That was a movie that so many people saw and loved that we decided to turn it into a live event and bring it to the community.” Cameron said it’s …

‘Saw’ director brings ‘The Devil’s Carnival’ to Jackson

Whether you’re a horror fan or an opera fan, you may be interested in a new film that is showing across the U.S. and recently made a stop in Jackson. Darren Lynn Bousman, the director of “Saw II,” “Saw III” and “Saw IV,” and Terrance Zdunich, creator of “REPO! The Genetic Opera,” kicked off the tour for “The Devil’s Carnival” at Comic-Con. It was shown this week in Jackson at the Davis Planetarium at 201 E. Pascagoula St. “The Devil’s Carnival” is a musical-horror-fantasy series set in a theme park in hell, where Aesop’s Fables are reenacted (often through songs) in the lives of lost souls. It was inspired by a love of amusement park dark rides and subversive nursery rhymes. Think “The Rocky Horror Picture Show,” but set in hell. Bousman said he wanted to create something artful. “I was tired of just being the Saw guy,” he said. “I wanted to do something different. … ‘The Devil’s Carnival’ is about showing people that you don’t have to fit within a mold to be …

‘We Need to Talk About Kevin’ and the Creepy Kid genre

If I was going to write an analytical word association question LSAT-style, it might go something like this: LADY GAGA is to MARILYN MANSON as TILDA SWINTON is to _______________. And the choices would be George Clooney, Brad Pitt or Willem Dafoe. Go ahead. I’ll let you try it. If you selected WILLEM DAFOE as the answer, then – ding, ding, ding – you are right. Perhaps there are better choices than the three listed, but both Dafoe and Swinton are brilliantly strange actors who have taken on some unique, provocative and brave roles throughout their careers, and one of the most interesting I have seen lately is Swinton’s part as a mom in the film “We Need to Talk About Kevin.” Thanks to “The Bad Seed” and later, “The Exorcist,” there’s a group of films now that fall under “The Creepy Kid” genre, and “Kevin” is one of them. Swinton plays the mother of a boy who seems to have a terrible disposition from birth. From an early age, he behaves badly just to …

Vintage video – Nicholson, Lange, Turner, Fonda, Irons

A while back, bored with modern movies, I decided to watch some of the more popular films of a few great actors. I started with young Jack Nicholson, who stars in one of my favorites, “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.” Heeding the suggestion of a co-worker, I watched “Chinatown” and wasn’t hooked because the plot lacked realism. But what I did find on my young Jack journey was “Five Easy Pieces.” Described as a character study about a promising concert pianist who leaves to work on a California oil rig, Nicholson returns home to “confront the cultured and dysfunctional family he left behind” after learning his father is ill. What struck me most about this film, aside from Nicholson’s charisma, is it’s one of those rare films written for the thinker that relies on the viewer’s intelligence to psychoanalyze the characters. It’s an emotional piece about clashing cultures and the way people perceive themselves that I found stunning. That led me to “The Postman Always Rings Twice,” a Nicholson/Jessica Lange movie with an interesting …

Take a Brake and watch a thriller

Once again, I thought I’d update you on some of the thrillers I’ve seen lately that are worth recommending. Here’s the list: Take Shelter – What would you do if you started hearing frightening noises and dreaming of impending doom? After a series of nightmares about a terrible storm, Oscar nominee Michael Shannon (Revolutionary Road) prepares by expanding the tornado shelter in his back yard. If you’re hit by tornadoes as often as we are in Mississippi, having a good tornado shelter doesn’t seem like a bad idea. But when family and friends notice a change in the lead character’s behavior, they begin to suspect he may be losing his mind. The film also stars Jessica Chastain, the ditzy scene stealer in The Help who was nominated for best supporting actress. Take Shelter reminded me a little of Melancholia, another movie about impending doom with a lead character whose extra sensory perceptions about the world cause them to fall into a chasm of depression and anxiety. They are both beautiful, sad poems of destruction. And …

Kermit: A Mississippi icon

I’ve been a fan of Kermit the Frog for a long time. And because the new “Muppets” movie comes out this week, I thought I’d take a moment to share some of the Kermit things I own and point you toward other cool Kermit finds. The reason I have a soft spot in my heart for Kermit is because, of course, I grew up in the 1970s and ’80s, and loved “The Muppet Show” and “Sesame Street.” (I’m sure many of you can relate.) But it’s also because Kermit is officially recognized as a Mississippian along with his creator Jim Henson. Leland, Miss., is known as “the birthplace of Kermit the Frog.” Deer Creek has even been recognized by community leaders as the spot where Kermit swam as a tadpole. Kermit was also the grand marshal of the St. Paddy’s Day parade in Jackson a couple of years ago. A giant Kermit balloon made its way down the street, and I wore a handcrafted Kermit shirt for the occasion that I may have to revive …

Turkey Day thriller menu

It’s been a while since I’ve written a column about some of the better horror/thrillers I’ve seen in the past year. I meant to get that out by Halloween, but maybe you can watch one on Turkey Day instead. Since I recently got an iPad and have been watching more movies via Netflix, I thought now would be a good time to add to that list. The Perfect Host (2010) – I gave this movie a shot because David Hyde Pierce, of Frazier fame, is a solid actor. I found a quirky, comedic thriller about a career criminal on a mission to help his ailing girlfriend who finds himself in a tricky situation when he discovers that his victim is psychologically deranged The Ward (2011) – Wes Craven, the man behind Freddy Kruger, tells a story that unfolds with a surprising conclusion. In it, we meet a girl who has just burned down an old farm house and is carted off to a mental ward where strange things are happening to the other girls who …

Black Swan and The Red Shoes

It’s Oscar night, and we’ll soon see if Black Swan wins the award for Best Picture. After reading several Black Swan reviews that referenced The Red Shoes (1948), I decided to watch the vintage film and compare the two that bear striking similarities, including creative visuals. The Red Shoes stars Moira Shearer as Vicky Page, a beautiful redhead that is selected as the featured dancer in a new ballet called The Red Shoes that is based on a Hans Christian Anderson fairy tale about a pair of mystical ballet slippers. Vicky falls in love with and later marries the young composer, Julian Craster (Marius Goring), who has been charged with writing the score for the ballet. The central character is master manipulating ballet director, Boris Lermontov (Anton Walbrook). In an attempt to regain control of his ballerina, he forces her to choose between two great loves – her husband or dance. Vicky must decide between having a career or being an obedient wife. Her decision to dance, something she earlier equates with life, appears to …

Thriller Night?

As a lifelong fan of the thriller/horror genre, I am always on the lookout for new films that offer surprises. If you are too, here are a few I’ve seen over the past year or so that you might find interesting. Otis (2008) – Let me preface this description by saying this is a dark comedy. After a teenage cheerleader is captured and tortured by a psychopath named Otis, she escapes and tells her parents about the ordeal, and they vengefully decide to take matters into their own hands. Illeana Douglas was a perfect choice for the mom, and many will remember star Ashley Johnson, now grown, as the kid (Chrissy) inserted into Growing Pains to boost ratings during the show’s final years. I wonder if she’s still friends with Leonardo DiCaprio, also formerly of Growing Pains. Right at Your Door (2007) – This apocalyptic, indie tale is about chaos that ensues after a dirty bomb goes off in Los Angeles spreading toxins. Closure (2007) – X-Files fans may see Gillian Anderson in a new …

Brittany Murphy’s work

Brittany Murphy was a talented actress and someone who I thought would have a lengthy film career. She was also a great singer – a gift she hadn’t exhibited much in film with the exception of voiceover work done in “Happy Feet.” Murphy was good at comedy, good at drama, and I figured she’d eventually be big on Broadway, so her December 2009 death was shocking. The Hollywood Reporter published an article this week that seems to shed some light on what happened to Murphy or how it happened. Following her death, I watched four of her films and was impressed by three. The Dead Girl (2006) features a cast of great actors starring in vignettes that are all linked by Murphy’s character, a girl who ran away from home to escape abuse and leads an out-of-control life until it ends. The performances of all are great, but Murphy has always stood out when playing unhinged, psychologically lost and unpredictable characters, choices that remind me a lot of the bold work of Juliette Lewis. In …

Get Frozen

If you’re at home anticipating snow, sleet or icy roads and looking for a good movie to pass the time that is appropriately titled and themed, check out Frozen. Thriller fans will probably enjoy this tension-filled 2010 film written and directed by David Green that Netflix users have given three stars, a pretty high rating for films of the thriller/horror genre. Influenced by that rating, I decided to instantly watch it last night. Three young adults go to a New England ski lodge, and things are pretty uneventful until they are the last to leave. After begging the ski lift operator for a ride back down, he sends them on their way, but soon leaves abruptly to handle a paycheck issue, turning the lift over to a replacement who doesn’t understand that the three are still on it. When he shuts the lift down and closes shop, the trio becomes stuck mid-air in freezing temperatures. Thinking it could be a week before the ski resort reopens, they must decide to succumb to their fate or …

The Yoda Bat – Cute, he is

I often have the sneaking suspicion that aliens may live among us, and I think the recent discovery of the Yoda Bat confirms this. I just clicked on an NPR link that took me to the National Geographic website where the 10 Weirdest New Animals of 2010 were featured. The Yoda Bat was perhaps the most adorable of the 10 with his pointy green ears and nose, but Yoda wasn’t the first creature that came to mind when I saw his funny face. To me, he bears a striking resemblance to The Neverending Story creature and a Star Wars tauntaun. I thought I might be alone with these thoughts until I saw other NPR commenters say the same. Some comments were rather hilarious. My favorite reaction to the Yoda Bat was, “OH. HELL. YES,” followed by, “Cute, he is,” and, “OK, to all of us bent on destroying the planet, how can you honestly look into the loving eyes of the Yoda Bat and not want to live with the land? Seriously, this bat fills …

Funny games, creepy kids, lost rooms and Chinatown

It’s been a while since I reviewed some of the Netflix movies I’ve watched, so I thought I’d talk about a few memorable films I’ve seen in the past couple of years. (This is just a rental rundown and not the ones I’ve instantly viewed. I plan to revisit those later.) Funny Games – After reading a review about this 2007 German remake a few years ago, I decided to check it out. “Funny Games” is a must-see psychological thriller, thoroughly tense and unsettling. While vacationing, Anna (Naomi Watts) and George (Tim Roth) are visited by two young men whose genteel, “Eddie Haskell” demeanor soon fades, revealing the depth of their insanity. Actors Michael Pitt, of HBO’s “Boardwalk Empire,” who is frequently cast as “the intellectual psycho,” (i.e. 2002’s “Murder By Numbers”) and Brady Corbet hold the family hostage, playing tormenting mind games. Joshua – This 2007 “creepy kid” thriller is about an 8-year-old genius named Joshua (Jacob Kogan) who begins misbehaving after the birth of his baby sister. When his parents (Sam Rockwell and …

Movie review: Eden Lake

If you’re a horror/thriller movie fan like myself who is always looking for a good heart-pumping, jaw-dropping scare, you may want to check out Eden Lake. This week, I Yahooed “best horror films of 2008 and 2009” and saw it repeatedly mentioned by reviewers. Some gushed, calling it “one of the best of the decade.” Luckily, someone had put it on YouTube, so I viewed it there. Written and directed by James Watkins, this 2008 British film is about Jenny (Kelly Reilly), a soft spoken nursery school teacher who goes on a weekend getaway to Eden Lake with her boyfriend, Steve, (Michael Fassbender), a cute guy who seems a tad impulsive. While there, they encounter a group of young trouble-making morons who interrupt the couple’s peaceful outing by playing loud music on a boombox. (I guess a boombox was necessary because the scene wouldn’t have worked if everyone had been quietly plugged into their individual iPods, but boomboxes are ancient artifacts from the 1900s that can only be found in museums these days!) Refusing to …

Blindsided by a button-down

I watched The Blind Side in Oxford last weekend in a packed theater. That’s a rarity these days, and we weren’t sure we’d find a seat, but eventually did in the back row. When the movie ended, the audience clapped – also pretty rare. Because I’m a victim of marketing and a UM grad, I noticed one of the Ole Miss button-down shirts Sandra Bullock was wearing in the movie and decided to walk next door to Campus Book Mart to see if they had any. Sure, enough, they did, so I bought a couple. I wasn’t sure if either were identical to Bullock’s, but after doing a quick Internet search, I believe I did purchase a near identical copy, as well as a blue one. PremiereProps.com is selling the exact shirt Bullock wore in the film for $399 if you’re interested. Luckily, I didn’t pay that much. Trivia: Did you know the teen who plays Bullock’s daughter, Collins, in the film is Lily Collins, daughter of ’80s singer, Phil Collins? Got a comment? E-mail …

The vampire trend

I asked a few public relations companies if their clients had any vampire-related products or merchandise that were created as a result of the current popularity of vampires – Twilight, True Blood, The Vampire Diaries, etc. – and here’s what they came up with. Some sent items that they felt vampire fans would like. 1. A leather jacket from the Hurley collection. 2. A fanged pacifier found online. 3. Therapy Systems sells these eye shadow cases for $19 called Evening Twilight. 4. MicheleBaratta.com will be sending some of her jewelry to the set of The Vampire Diaries with hopes that it will be featured on the show. The Unchained Cross necklaces sell for $59 each.   5. Lolita offers these vampire shot glasses. 6. ForYourParty.com recently launched a Vampire Collection of coasters and cocktail napkins. Each product can be customized with your personal message, monogram, name, date, and more. The ForYourParty Vampire Collection Cocktail Napkins retail for $25 for 50 and Round Coasters for $33 for 50. 7. Loveandluckshop.com recently introduced a vampire card for …