Tribeca Film via Everett Collection
Like the name implies, there are two films trapped inside director Bryan Poyser's latest effort: "Love" being one half, and "Air Sex" being the other. One film is a sometimes charming, sweet, and funny meditation on love between twenty-somethings, while the other is an aggressively unfunny aside that almost derails the entire film (take a guess at which one is which).
Aspiring filmmaker Stan (Michael Stahl-David) and pre-med student Cathy (Ashley Bell) find love in balmy Austin, but life drives the two to opposite coasts; Stan seeks his dreams under the bright lights of Hollywood, while Cathy heads to the wintery Northeast to attend a prestigious medical school in New York. Six months later, Sean's Hollywood aspirations have landed him in a pizza joint, while Cathy feels disconnected from her med school peers. When Stan catches wind that Cathy is flying home to Austin for the weekend, he can't help but "accidentally" fly home on the same weekend as his ex. The obviousness of Stan's gambit isn't lost on their friends Jeff and Kara, who are in the middle of a breakup of their own. The two ex-lovers try to avoid each other during the weekend, but as one of the characters comments, Austin is a small city, and the pair do threaten to bump into each other, whether by coincidence or by design.
When focusing on the relationships among the four leads, Love and Air Sex works well enough. All four come close to becoming fully rounded characters, and the dialogue is witty enough to entertain. The characters send spiked sexual jabs at each other, while hiding the simmering frustration over lost relationships. Throughout the film, our heroes try some new relationships on for size, and while some of them blossom with probability, others are a halted by old yearnings. Poyser shows a intimate understanding of the awkwardness and comedy of damaged romances, and how admitting one's true feelings can sometimes feel like a herculean labor.
The other half of the title, the "Air Sex," is unfortunately, where the film falls apart. First, let's back up and explain what "Air Sex" actually is: a very real competition where participants are tasked with creating explicit and racy sexual scenarios with a disembodied partner (think air guitar, but with more pelvic thrusts). These sessions of sexual "air-tercourse" get as obscene and vulgar as all get out. But the worst thing about these routines isn't that they're too perverse (and they are pretty perverse), but that they're hardly ever funny or entertaining, and that's a huge fault considering the idea takes up half the title. Jeff uses Air Sex as a scheme to get free beer (the winner of the local Air Sex competition gets to drink free for a year), but it's really an emotional pick-me-up after his break up from Kara. These epic sexual pantomimes go on for minutes at a time and quickly grow annoying. What might have been chuckle worthy sight-gag is ballooned into half of the film's focus, and the Air Sex side plot becomes completely obnoxious as the film grinds into its final act. The biggest crime is that all the time focusing on the Air Sex competition robs the film of time it could have used to put the main characters into better focus. Unless you enjoy sexual wordplay like "Hugh G. Rection" or "F**kasaurus Sex," and a lot of air humping, you might spend much of these sequences rolling your eyes.
Love and Air Sex is a deeply confused film. It wants to be a raunchy comedy and a heartfelt indie romance, but it's constantly weighed down by trying to serve both masters. What's left is a Frankenstein-like mess of a creature that resembles a pleasant romantic comedy sloppily sewed into a terrible raunchy bore. The results are sometimes charming, sometimes groan-inducing, and full of wasted promise.
There is something particularly unnerving about demon possession. It's the idea of something you can't see or control creeping into your body and taking up residence eventually obliterating all you once were and turning you into nothing more than a sack of meat to be manipulated. Then there's also the shrouded ritual around exorcisms: the Latin chants the flesh-sizzling crucifixes and the burning Holy Water. As it turns out exorcism isn't just the domain of Catholics.
The myths and legends of the Jews aren't nearly as well known but their creepy dybbuk goes toe-to-toe with anything other world religions come up with. There are various interpretations of what a dybbuk is or where it comes from — is it a ghost a demon a soul of a sinner? — but in any case it's looking for a body to hang out in for a while. Especially according to the solemn Hasidic Jews in The Possession an innocent young person and even better a young girl.
The central idea in The Possession is that a fancy-looking wooden box bought at a garage sale was specifically created to house a dybbuk that was tormenting its previous owner. Unfortunately it caught the eye of young Emily (Natasha Calis) a sensitive artistic girl who persuades her freshly divorced dad Clyde (Jeffrey Dean Morgan of Watchmen and Grey's Anatomy) to buy it for her. Never mind the odd carvings on it — that would be Hebrew — or how it's created without seams so it would be difficult to open or why it's an object of fascination for a young girl; Clyde is trying really hard to please his disaffected daughters and do the typical freshly divorced parent dance of trying to please them no matter the cost.
Soon enough the creepy voices calling to Emily from the box convince her to open it up; inside are even creepier personal objects that are just harbingers of what's to come for her her older sister Hannah (Madison Davenport) her mom Stephanie (Kyra Sedgwick) and even Stephanie's annoying new boyfriend Brett (Grant Show). Clyde and Stephanie squabble over things like pizza for dinner and try to convince each other and themselves that Emily's increasingly odd behavior is that of a troubled adolescent. It's not of course and eventually Clyde enlists the help of the son of a Hasidic rabbi a young man named Tzadok played by the former Hasidic reggae musician Matisyahu to help them perform an exorcism on Emily.
The Possession is not going to join the ranks of The Exorcist in the horror pantheon but it does do a remarkable job of making its characters intelligent and even occasionally droll and it offers up plenty of chills despite a PG-13 rating. Perhaps it's because of that rating that The Possession is so effective; the filmmakers are forced to make the benign scary. Giant moths and flying Torahs take the place of little Reagan violently masturbating with a crucifix in The Exorcist. Gagging and binging on food is also an indicator of Emily's possession — an interesting twist given the anxieties of becoming a woman a girl Emily's age would face. There is something inside her controlling her and she knows it and she is fighting it. The most impressive part of Calis's performance is how she communicates Emily's torment with a few simple tears rolling down her face as the dybbuk's control grows. The camerawork adds to the anxiety; one particularly scary scene uses ordinary glass kitchenware to great effect.
The Possession is a short 92 minutes and it does dawdle in places. It seems as though some of the scenes were juggled around to make the PG-13 cut; the moth infestation scene would have made more sense later in the movie. Some of the problems are solved too quickly or simply and yet it also takes a while for Clyde's character to get with it. Stephanie is a fairly bland character; she makes jewelry and yells at Clyde for not being present in their marriage a lot and then there's a thing with a restraining order that's pretty silly. Emily is occasionally dressed up like your typical horror movie spooky girl with shadowed eyes an over-powdered face and dark clothes; it's much more disturbing when she just looks like an ordinary though ill young girl. The scenes in the heavily Hasidic neighborhood in Brooklyn look oddly fake and while it's hard to think of who else could have played Tzadok an observant Hasidic Jew who is also an outsider willing to take risks the others will not Matisyahu is not a very good actor. Still the filmmakers should be commended for authenticity insofar as Matisyahu has studied and lived as a Hasidic Jew.
It would be cool if Lionsgate and Ghost House Pictures were to release the R-rated version of the movie on DVD. What the filmmakers have done within the confines of a PG-13 rating is creepy enough to make me curious to see the more adult version. The Possession is no horror superstar and its name is all too forgettable in a summer full of long-gestating horror movies quickly pushed out the door. It's entertaining enough and could even find a broader audience on DVD. Jeffrey Dean Morgan can read the Old Testament to me any time.
Actors like Peter O'Toole are a rarity. Although the 79-year-old film and stage performer is best known for his earlier works, most notably the starring role in the cinematic classic Lawrence of Arabia, O'Toole has endured as a virile talent in Hollywood, contributing to great contemporary films as well. Earlier today, it was reported that O'Toole had announced his plans to retire from acting. The world of film has not existed without O'Toole's presence in over fifty years; needless to say, this will leave a hefty gap in the hearts of cinephiles.
Below are just a few of O'Toole's most noteworthy cinematic contributions. What are some of your favorites?
T.E. Lawrence in Lawrence of Arabia (1962)
King Henry II in Becket (1964)
Arthur Chipping in Goodbye, Mr. Chips (1969)
Don Quixote in Man of La Mancha 1972)
Tiberius in Caligula (1979)
Sherlock Holmes in A Study in Scarlet, The Sign of Four, The Valley of Fear, and The Baskerville Curse (1983)
Zaltar in Supergirl (1984)
R.J. Johnson in The Last Emperor(1987)
Priam in Troy (2004)
Maurice in Venus (2006)
Anton Ego in Ratatouille (2007)
King in Stardust (2007)
[Image Credits: Columbia Pictures, Paramount Pictures, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, United Artists, Produzioni Atlas, TriStar Pictures, Warner Bros., Miramax/FilmFour Productions, Pixar]
Comic-Con 2012: 20 Burning Movie Questions for SDCC
Could 'Dark Knight Rises' Win Best Picture Oscar?
'Catching Fire': Dream Casting Call
Widening the thematic scope without sacrificing too much of the claustrophobia that made the original 1979 Alien universally spooky Prometheus takes the trophy for this summer's most adult-oriented blockbuster entertainment. The movie will leave your mouth agape for its entire runtime first with its majestic exploration of an alien planet and conjectures on the origins of the human race second with its gross-out body horror that leaves no spilled gut to the imagination. Thin characters feel more like pawns in Scott's sci-fi prequel but stunning visuals shocking turns and grand questions more than make up for the shallow ensemble. "Epic" comes in many forms. Prometheus sports all of them.
Based on their discovery of a series of cave drawings all sharing a similar painted design Elizabeth (Noomi Rapace) and Charlie (Logan Marshall-Green) are recruited by Weyland to head a mission to another planet one they believe holds the answers to the creation of life on Earth. Along for the journey are Vickers (Charlize Theron) the ruthless Weyland proxy Janek (Idris Elba) a blue collar captain a slew of faceless scientists and David (Michael Fassbender) HAL 9000-esque resident android who awakens the crew of spaceship Prometheus when they arrive to their destination. Immediately upon descent there's a discovery: a giant mound that's anything but natural. The crew immediately prepares to scope out the scene zipping up high-tech spacesuits jumping in futuristic humvees and heading out to the site. What they discover are the awe-inspiring creations of another race. What they bring back to the ship is what they realize may kill their own.
The first half of Prometheus could be easily mistaken for Steven Spielberg's Alien a sense of wonder glowing from every frame not too unlike Close Encounters. Scott takes full advantage of his fictional settings and imbues them with a reality that makes them even more tantalizing. He shoots the vistas of space and the alien planet like National Geographic porn and savors the interior moments on board the Prometheus full of hologram maps sleeping pods and do-it-yourself surgery modules with the same attention. Prometheus is beautiful shot in immersive 3D that never dampers Dariusz Wolski's sharp photography. Scott's direction seems less interested in the run-or-die scenario set up in the latter half of the film but the film maintains tension and mood from beginning to end. It all just gets a bit…bloodier.
Jon Spaihts' and Damon Lindelof's script doesn't do the performers any favors shuffling them to and fro between the ship and the alien construction without much room for development. Reveals are shoehorned in without much setup (one involving Theron's Vickers that's shockingly mishandled) but for the most part the ensemble is ready to chomp into the script's bigger picture conceits. Rapace is a physical performer capable of pulling off a grisly scene involving an alien some sharp objects and a painful procedure (sure to be the scene of the blockbuster season. Among the rest of the crew Fassbender's David stands out as the film's revelatory performance delivering a digestible ambiguity to his mechanical man that playfully toys with expectations from his first entrance. The creature effects in Prometheus will wow you but even Fassbender's smallest gesture can send the mind spinning. The power of his smile packs more of a punch than any facehugger.
Much like Lindelof's Lost Prometheus aims to explore the idea of asking questions and seeking answers and on Scott's scale it's a tremendous unexpected ride. A few ideas introduced to spur action fall to the way side in the logic department but with a clear mission and end point Prometheus works as a sweeping sci-fi that doesn't require choppy editing or endless explosions to keep us on the edge of our seats. Prometheus isn't too far off from the Alien xenomorphs: born from existing DNA of another creature the movie breaks out as its own beast. And it's wilder than ever.
Ryan Gosling chatted with David Letterman last night about the time he didn't win an Oscar. Apparently, it was a very interesting night because he sat next to Hollywood legend Peter O'Toole who got a little too close to Gosling's sister. Drama and hilarity ensues. Enjoy (and let's face it, you will enjoy anything Ryan Gosling talks about because the dude is so darn charming).
Jimmy Fallon sure knows how to bring the best out in his guests. Last night, he convinced Blake Sheton from The Voice and from a little something called Country Music to do a duet of "Escape" a.k.a. The Pina Colada Song. And it was pretty fantastic -- but mostly because Fallon is wonderfully insane.
Finally, if anyone can bring some charm to The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, it's Craig Ferguson. He stopped by to chat with Jay and it was just lovely...and extremely Scottish. You've got to love this guy.
Peter O'Toole's portrayal of T.E. Lawrence in David Lean epic Lawrence of Arabia has topped a new list of the greatest movie performances.
The iconic actor sprained both his ankles, dislocated his spine and knocked himself out twice while making the 1962 movie, and admits he became "obsessed" with adventurer Lawrence.
But it seems it was all worth it--the portrayal beat Marlon Brando's role as Terry Malloy in On the Waterfront and Meryl Streep's acclaimed part (Sophie Zawistowska) in Sophie's Choice in the 100 Greatest Performances of All Time list in movie magazine Premiere.
In a related poll, Naomi Watts and Laura Elena Herring (Mulholland Drive), Laurence Olivier and Michael Caine (Sleuth), and Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor (Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?) were named among the Dynamic Duos of movie history.
The top 10 greatest performances are:
1. Peter O'Toole as T.E. Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia)
2. Marlon Brando as Terry Malloy (On the Waterfront)
3. Meryl Streep as Sophie Zawistowska (Sophie's Choice)
4. Al Pacino as Sonny Wortzik (Dog Day Afternoon)
5. Bette Davis as Margo Channing (All About Eve)
6. James Cagney as George M. Cohan (Yankee Doodle Dandy)
7. Dustin Hoffman as Ratso Rizzo (Midnight Cowboy)
8. James Stewart as George Bailey (It's a Wonderful Life)
9. Gene Wilder as Dr. Frederick Frankenstein (Young Frankenstein)
10. Robert De Niro as Jake La Motta (Raging Bull)
Article Copyright World Entertainment News Network All Rights Reserved.
Top Story: Messing To Miss Grace Finale
Ordered by her doctor to stay off her feet in her last months of pregnancy, Will & Grace star Debra Messing has been written out of the last four episodes of the show, including the one-hour season finale, Reuters reports. Messing's spokeswoman said the eight-month-pregnant actress is doing "great," but was told "to be careful and take it easy, preferably bed rest." She added there were no complications with the pregnancy. The season finale is set to air April 29 and centers on Karen (Megan Mullally) and her outlandish wedding to guest star John Cleese. Singer/actress Jennifer Lopez will also make a guest appearance.
Jackson's Accuser Testifies to Grand Jury
Even though the court hearings are under a media blackout, sources close to the child molestation case against Michael Jackson told The Associated Press that Jackson's 14-year-old accuser testified before the grand jury Tuesday. The hearing also included testimony from Jamie Masada, the comedy club owner who first arranged for Jackson and the boy to meet, according to AP's source, who spoke on condition of anonymity. If prosecutors obtain a grand jury indictment they would not have to present evidence at a preliminary hearing to determine if the case should go to trial.
In Other Jackson Family News…
Could wedding plans be in store for Janet Jackson and beau Jermaine Dupri? The couple spent Monday evening canoodling at a New York nightclub after Jackson's appearance on Late Night with David Letterman, AP reports. When asked if the two heard wedding bells, Dupri replied with a grin, "Y'all hear them before I do! That's what everybody is telling me!"
Hung Just Wants To Sing
Now that he's used about 14 of his 15 minutes of fame, American Idol reject William Hung, who brought new meaning to Ricky Martin's song "She Bangs," is determined more than ever to make it as a singer. Hung, who proudly said on TV that he doesn't have any professional musical training, is now very serious about his career and plans to take voice training and dance lessons. "Oh yeah, that's going to change, of course. I want to get better," he told AP Radio. Hung's new album, Inspiration, will be released April 6.
No Date Set for Klein, Holmes
Betrothed Chris Klein and Katie Holmes are having a tough time trying to fit a wedding into their busy schedules. In an interview with AP Radio, Klein believed proposing to Holmes was the natural "next step" in their five-year relationship. "I really believe it's the natural evolution of a relationship," Klein said. "As you grow up in your life, your relationships grow and mature." But the 25-year-old actor, who popped the question in December, said he and Holmes, also 25, haven't set the date yet. "What we do is very different from the normal 'nine-to-five' type of situation. We're actually apart for long stretches of time." Klein has been promoting his new movie, The United States of Leland, and Holmes has been filming the new Batman movie.
Idol, Apprentice Top Nielsens
Reality television reigned with Fox's American Idol and NBC's The Apprentice coming out on top in the ratings, AP reports. CBS won the week overall with an average of 11.5 million viewers, while NBC came in second with 10.9 million, followed by Fox (9.8 million), ABC (8 million), UPN (3.3 million) and the WB (2.7 million). For the week of March 22-28, the top 10 shows included: American Idol (Tuesday), Fox; The Apprentice, NBC; American Idol (Wednesday), Fox; CSI: Miami, CBS; Everybody Loves Raymond, CBS; 60 Minutes, CBS; Survivor: All-Stars, CBS; Friends, NBC; Two and a Half Men, CBS; Will & Grace, NBC.
Cheers Ladies Get Pilots
Former Cheers leading ladies Kirstie Alley and Shelley Long are heading back to the tube in separate pilot sitcoms. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Alley is in final negotiations to play Ricki Lake's mother in an untitled CBS comedy pilot about a young widow and her mom, who are raising the widow's two sons after the death of her policeman husband, while also running a bar frequented by cops. Long is set to star in an untitled NBC project centering on the relationship between an adult son and his newly divorced father (Tom Conti). Long will play the mother.
Role Call: Eastwood, Swank Have Baby
Oscar-winning director Clint Eastwood and actress Hilary Swank are joining forces on Million Dollar Baby. According to the Reporter, the drama, based on two short stories from the collection Rope Burn by F.X. Toole, is a tragic and platonic love story involving a woman in her early 30s who is determined to begin a boxing career and a fighter-turned-trainer. Eastwood will direct, produce as well as star.