Tag Archives: Danny Huston

Halloween Countdown, Day 26

30 Days of Night (2007)

If vampires can only come out at night, wouldn’t it make sense for them to head to the parts of the globe that remain under cover of darkness for weeks on end? Sure it would. And, given that those particular spots tend to be frozen death traps to begin with, more to love about this particular icy bloodsucking adventure!

The first potential downfall here is that Josh Hartnett plays our lead, the small town arctic sheriff whose burg goes haywire just after the last flight for a month leaves town. A drifter blows into town (Ben Foster – a bit over the top, but always a welcome sight) – and this is a town that sees a lot more snowmen than drifters. Dogs die viciously. Vehicles are disabled. Power is disrupted. You know what that means…the hunt’s begun.

Hartnett, a characteristically weak actor, holds up OK upon the frozen tundra. He’s asked to guide us through the action and little more, which is as it should be. Director David Slade keeps the pace quick and the action mean.

Much of his success is due to the always spectacular Danny Huston as the leader of the bloodsuckers. His whole gang takes a novel, unwholesome approach to the idea of vampire, and it works marvelously.

Slade cheats several times, like every time Hartnett’s chased by a vampire. One cut, they’re right behind him, the next cut, he’s hiding successfully beside some barn. What the…?

Still, Slade builds the pervasive feeling of being cornered with no way out, and more than once, the baddies employ rather ruthless measures to flush out those in hiding.

THE SCENE:

A pod of survivors hides in an attic, careful not to make any noise or draw any attention to themselves. One old man has dementia, which generates a lot of tension in the group, since he’s hard to contain and keep quiet.

There’s no knowing whether the town has any other survivors, and some of these guys are getting itchy. Then they hear a small voice outside.

Walking and sobbing down the main drag is a little girl, crying for help. It’s as pathetic a scene as any in such a film, and it may be the first moment in the picture where you identify with the trapped, who must do the unthinkable. Because, what would you do?

As the would-be heroes in the attic begin to understand this ploy, the camera on the street pulls back to show Danny Huston and crew perched atop the nearby buildings. The sobbing tot amounts to the worm on their reel.

Creepy business!

Big, Messy Ideas

 

The Congress

by George Wolf

 

Tired of the same old girl meets boy stories? How about girl meets a digital version of herself, loses many years in a cryogenic state, and then travels between realities in an effort to reconnect with her son?

Welcome to The Congress, a flawed but often fascinating work inspired by the 1971 novel The Futurological Congress, Stanislaw Lem’s darkly comic allegory of life under communist rule.

Writer/director Ari Folman (the Oscar-nominated Waltz with Bashir) sets his sights on the Hollywood regime, where veteran actress Robin Wright, playing a fictionalized version of herself, has reached a critical point in her career.

She’s years removed from being America’s sweetheart, she’s been branded as “difficult,” and she’s on the wrong side of forty. But now, there’s a curious career opportunity…

After much soul-searching and a big paycheck, she agrees to let the film studio create a digital copy of herself. Once completed, the new Robin will have a busy career doing, in the words of the studio boss (Danny Huston), “all the things your Robin Wright won’t do” while the old Robin never acts again.

The ironic part is that the real Robin’s acting has never been better, and her touching performance anchors the film even when it threatens to skid completely off the rails.

Folman has big, ambitious, eccentric ideas, but things get a bit messy once the film makes the shift to animation. Unlike Bashir, where clashing styles of animation only accentuated the different memories of war, the animated portion of The Congress sometimes struggles to find a tone worthy of the strong live action opening.

It becomes a mix of Heavy Metal, Pink Floyd The Wall and Cool World, leaving some interesting issues hanging as dots that are never fully connected. Folman -who has said he got his first inspiration for the project in film school-seems so invested in the overall concept that he can’t resist the urge to explore every idea, no matter how tenuous.

Good thing, then, that Folman’s explorations are more interesting than most, leaving The Congress as a visionary, frustrating, extraordinary head trip.

 

Verdict-3-0-Stars