Tag Archives: Kate Bosworth

In the Company of Women

House of Darkness

by Hope Madden

Who hurt Neil LaBute?

Would it surprise you to find that the latest from the writer/director behind In the Company of Men and Your Friends and Neighbors (as well as the less impressive Wicker Man reboot and others) is a meditation on sexual dynamics, power and agency? That it’s brimming with psychosexual wordplay? That it’s bitter and a bit misguided?

How many times can we disassemble the mating ritual to judge and shame those involved?  

Sometimes LaBute does it well—so well that it’s tough not to look forward to whatever he releases. House of Darkness sees the filmmaker again exploring his favorite topic, this time within a horror context.

Justin Long riffs on his nice guy persona, his character Hap actually referring to himself at one point as “one of the good ones.” (Had Hap seen Promising Young Women, he might have had sense enough not to make such a claim.)

Hap’s been lured into the stately gothic manor of the lovely Mina, played with controlled ferocity by Kate Bosworth. Bosworth seems to relish the directness of her character. Mina’s disinterest in accommodating Hap’s insecurities is glorious—a reminder of how casually brutal LaBute’s work can be.

Perhaps because he started his career as a playwright, each of LaBute’s films rise or fall on dialog. House of Darkness is a chamber piece – it could easily be a stage play (though it’s likely a Covid production). Limited performers pepper scenes with double entendres in an awkward dance of “will we or won’t we” sexual politics.

The difference this time around is the genre trapping, a first for the filmmaker. The look is lush and effective, particularly the more fantastical sequences. Long — a genre veteran — delivers a bit of nuance, his Hap never entirely sympathetic but definitely hard to hate.

The story builds effectively enough. It’s just that nothing is ever in question. The genre tropes are more threadbare from use than LaBute’s banter-driven power game. Worse, the point rings hollow, like a disingenuous, cash-grab reversal of In the Company of Men.

Look What’s Cookin’ on the Homefront

Homefront

by Hope Madden

Those of you heading to Homefront looking for your typical Jason Statham film are in for a shock. Statham never disrobes. Not at all. He never even strips down to a wife beater.

Otherwise, yeah – exactly what you expect. Statham’s a retired undercover cop looking to settle down somewhere quiet and rural to raise his daughter. But a local meth dealer stirs up trouble, and Statham’s Phil Broker has to set things straight…with his shirt on!

The film, penned by Statham’s buddy Sylvester Stallone from Chuck Logan’s novel, offers a comeuppance fantasy rooted in a very modern American problem – that our rural areas are now more likely to house meth dens than chicken coops. What can we do about it? I mean, besides create an excuse for a good, decent, law abiding dad to find the bastards responsible and beat them to death?

Statham is Statham – unrepentantly British, steely-eyed, quick with his wit and even quicker with an elbow to the face. Kudos to Kate Bosworth as a white trash tweaker and prize winning mom. Not only is Bosworth physically perfect for the role (eat a sandwich, please!), but she actually acts, giving some heft to her scenes.

Winona Ryder also inexplicably co-stars. Why are these two taking tiny parts in a disposable action flick? It’s sad, really, but where Bosworth digs in and performs, Ryder waffles and grimaces instead of acting. Too bad, because she shares most of her scenes with James Franco, and that seems like it could be a pretty nutty experience.

Franco plays Gator, town meth king. Unsurprisingly, he’s the most interesting thing the film has going for it. He’s a very natural presence – no false bravado, no stilted movie-actor-villain-toughness. His Gator is kind of a weirdo. Whether that’s why the role works for Franco, or whether that’s because Franco is in the role is hard to tell, but it’s certainly a big perk for this film.

Between Franco’s goofiness and Bosworth’s performance, Homefront does actually contain enough surprises to freshen the tired concept to a watchable degree. That’s not so much a recommendation as a consolation, but hey, at least it’s something.

 

Verdict-2-5-Stars

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kupgq9utzE8