Tag Archives: Joely Richardson

Rite Here, Right Now

Color Out of Space

by Hope Madden

HP Lovecraft has influenced horror cinema in ways too varied and numerous to really articulate. But true Lovecraft is tough to bring to the screen for a number of reasons, chief among them that his madness tends to involve something indescribable: a color no one’s ever seen before, a sound entirely new to the human ear, a shape that defies all laws of geography and logic.

Alex Garland pulled inspiration from Lovecraft’s 1927 short Colour Out of Space for his brilliant 2018 mindbender, Annihilation. But for direct adaptations, Richard Stanley’s newest may be the best.

Naturally, the film’s success is due in large part to Nicolas Cage’s performance, because who descends into madness quite as entertainingly?

Cage plays Nathan Gardner. Nathan and his wife (Joely Richardson), their three kids and their squatter (Tommy Chong – nice!) live a quiet life in the New England forest not far from Arkham. A meteorite changes all that.

Cage basically strums a favorite old tune, landing somewhere on his “nice guy gone insane” spectrum just this side of Brent (Mom and Dad) and Red Miller (Mandy). In fact, the voice that begins emerging once the meteorite hits is gleefully reminiscent of Peter Lowe from Vampire’s Kiss (a call back I can get behind).

Is that the only reason to see the movie? No. Tommy Chong is a hoot, Richardson gets one especially creepy carrot chopping scene, and things go a little Cronenberg just when you want them to.

There’s a lot wrong with the film, too. Scenes are sloppily slapped together, one rarely leading to the next. The film’s budget is betrayed by its FX and supporting performances are not especially strong.

But Stanley’s long-awaited comeback (this is his first narrative feature since being fired from The Island of Dr. Moreau in 1996) infuses Lovecraft with a much needed dark streak of comedy and entrenches his tale of madness within a loving family dynamic, offering an emotional center to the story that the author rarely delivered.

The film lacks the vibrant subversiveness of Mom and Dad and comes nowhere near the insane vision of Mandy, so Cage fans might be only mildly impressed. Lovecraft fans, though, have reason to be excited.

Sure Feels Endless

Endless Love

by Hope Madden

Thirty three years ago (what?), Brooke Shields played a 15-year-old in love. Like everything else the wee lass made during her formative years, there was a lot of sex involved. In this case, it was all filmed with cheese cloths and the mistaken idea that teenage love is unchanging and everlasting, and that kids are not idiots. Which they most certainly are. It was melodramatic and tawdry in the most ludicrous way, but it wasn’t Blue Lagoon, so in a way, we were lucky. Except for that song, which would not die.

But fast forward  a full third of a century and teens today are blessedly unaware of Ms. Shields’s canon. And what generation doesn’t need its own pandering, shallow, weakly scripted and poorly acted version of Romeo & Juliet?

The reboot is the third strike for writer/director Shana Feste (The Greatest, Country Strong). She’s pulled the most hyperbolic pulp out of Scott Spencer’s novel, settling for a tone that’s a little less soap opera, a little more CW drama.

Innocent young Jade Butterfield (Gabrielle Wilde in the Brooke Shields role) waits until high school graduation to finally pull her delicate nose out of her homework and notice hot valet/classmate David, who looks for all the world like a 25-year-old man (25-year-old Alex Pettyfer – pretty, yet bereft of any natural acting talent).

They swoon. Oh, isn’t young love swoon-worthy? Jade’s mom (Joely Richardson) thinks so, in a borderline creepy way. No! She’s just supportive. Just really, weirdly supportive of the highly sexual relationship her teen is having in her house.

And who wouldn’t be? Who would seek to crush such obvious, deep, abiding and eternal – endless, even – love? Well, Jade’s douchebag of a dad, that’s who. And lest you believe this is just a naturally protective father trying to shield his daughter from any STDs or unwanted pregnancies that would derail her pre-med undergrad at Brown, that is not solely the case. He’s also a controlling asshole. Gawd!

If it were only the indulgent teen fantasy element that offended, the film would be almost tolerable. Unfortunately, Pettyfer has lines. Plus, he’s asked to perform with other actors, which means reactions, gestures, expression – how exactly was he supposed to have picked those skills up in his previous employment as an Urban Outfitter mannequin?

Next to him, Wilde looks borderline competent. Which she may be. At a certain point my eyes began rolling uncontrollably.

Valentine’s Day or not, Endless Love will cause you to lose the will to live. Keep yourself safe, and more importantly, keep the world safe from an onslaught of Brooke Shields remakes. Just stay home.