In our continuing series of 47 films to watch before you are murdered in your dreams, we look at Katheryn Bigelow’s rural vampire yarn Near Dark.
The eighties began with a cool Tony Scott addition to the vampire mythos The Hunger, starring Susan Sarandon, Catherine Deneuve and David Bowie, but by the middle of the decade the old blood suckers were more likely to pop up in a comedy context like Fright Night, or brat pack packages like The Lost Boys. Katheryn Bigelow however was eager to do something different. She wanted a vampire crossover and so Near Dark was born – a Vampire Western, where a young aw shucks cowboy called Caleb (Adrian Pasdar) gets seduced and bitten out on the prairie by Mae (Jenny Wright). As he starts to turn he is rescued from a sun-blistered combustion by the family led by Jesse (Lance Henrikson) and featuring Bill Paxton as a wild and fun-loving vampire who thoroughly enjoys the hunt and the feeding. They reluctantly accept Caleb on condition he pulls his weight by killing, but it is something Caleb is unable to bring himself to do, relying on Mae to give him the top up he needs to continue. Meanwhile, his Marlboro man father and young sister trail the badlands and back roads looking for sign of him.
Only Bigelow’s second feature – check out if you can her amazing debut The Loveless, a biker movie starring Willem Dafoe! – she throws the atmospheric kitchen sink, back lighting silhouettes whenever the opportunity affords. The stand out moment of the film is when the family invade a red neck bar to get some of the red they so thirstily crave. It’s a gruesome and humorous interlude in the story. Henrikson and Paxton are great value for money and Joshua John Miller as the little boy vampire Homer has some of the pathos of Let the Right One In, many years later. Bigelow and co-writer Eric Red (who would also write The Hitcher!) never quite shake of the need for a white bread family ending, but the lingering images are those of bullet riddled rooms letting int he deadly daylight, hellish spontaneous combustion and finding out why he doesn’t want the beer but he does want the glass.
NIGHTCRAWLER: REVIEW – Donnie Darko (Jake Gyllenhaal) is a small time thief and socio-path who finds his niche as an ambulance chasing stringer, grabbing footage of gory accidents and crime scenes for a local news station run by Rene Russo.
Despite having a name that even he can’t spell (for more on that story CLICK HERE) and the unwiped orifice that was The Prince of Persia, Jake Gyllenhaal adds another impressive character study to what is becoming a pantheon of outsiders and weirdos, from the sniper of Jarhead, the obsessive journalist in Zodiac, the doomed love of Brokeback Mountain finally to the wonderful weirdness of Enemy.
A Travis Bickle like loner and empty man, Lou Bloom’s emaciated frame has an insect like intentness. His hunger is not simply physical. His eyes are wide, not because of innocence but rather so he can catch everything and use it to his advantage. In fact, Lou isn’t guilty as such he is simply responsive and Dan Gilroy – brother of Michael Clayton’s Tony Gilroy – has crafted a lean and intense amorality tale.
Lou is a creature who can feed off the ‘if it bleeds, it leads’ ethos and the voyeurism which is another step away. His psychopathy allows him to play the game and keep one step ahead of the more experienced competition, represented by Bill Paxton’s old hand. A blend of Drive and Network, this is cool LA noir sharpened to a keen satirical purpose
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HOLLYWOOD – James Cameron admitted today in a shock revelation that will undoubtedly rock the whole of Hollywood that the reintroduction of 3D was actually the result of an off-the-cuff remark, which was supposed to be a joke.
The Avatar “visionary” is famous for his hilarious sense of humor and is only challenged by Woody Harrelson for the crown as king of the Hollywood practical jokers.
Bill Paxton tells the story:
This was a couple of years after Titanic and everyone was hanging on Jimmy’s every word, all the top brass at the studios, anything he said they would jump to do because as far as they could see he was golden. One evening we’re eating out at thisJapanese restaurant and he challenges me. He says “What is the most ridiculous thing that I can ask for?” So I think and then I say “3D”.
The Piranha 2: The Spawning director and the Twister actor laughed over their sushi, but Jimmy Cameron took up the gauntlet. ‘I was amazed when I first heard that Avatar was going to be in 3D,’ the Paxo man recalls. ‘But then it became unstoppable. The irony is Jimmy hates 3D as much as anyone else.’
With arguments raging about expensive equipment, exorbitant ticket prices, reduced luminosity and silly glasses, the erstwhile King of the World has finally decided to come clean.
‘I didn’t mean it to go so far but really, you’re all too gullible. You have to remember I’m, the guy who put Arnie Schwarzenegger in a 007 kind of role. I’m the guy who made out like Michael Biehn was an actor. Come on, seriously. How could you take anything I said at face value?’
Is it true that you yourself don’t like 3D?
‘It’s like those theaters we used to make out of cereal boxes when we were kids. It’s embarrassingly bad. A series of flat surfaces. It looks flatter than 2D for crying out loud,’ Cameron starts shouting, his lips flecked with spit. ‘Why do you think I keep going down to the bottom of the ocean? It’s the only place I can go and have a really good laugh at you assholes.’
Avatar 2 and 3 are due out sometime in the next decade.